Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Free Market and the Blacksmith

I’ve been wondering, as our economy continues its downward slide, why we aren’t hearing the solution to the problem, particularly from the GOP candidates for president.

In my years in the manufacturing sector, problems naturally arose, as they do in any business. Those who excelled usually had the ability to find the source of a problem and fix it. Most of the time, those folk were among the *ahem* older employees who had experience, had seen a problem before (or a variation of it), and knew how to fix it.

Those problems tended to be fundamental in nature. I’ve mentioned something called “root cause analysis” before. Many of you may already know instinctively what this concept means: problems can usually be traced to a single source. Once this source is found, it can be corrected.

This may sound like a simple concept, and it is, for the most part. But sometimes, finding the root of a problem may not be simple. Occasionally, the problem will be of such a nature that’s its cause is disguised by another problem. One example is the tragedy of the Space Shuttle Challenger. The orbiter was destroyed by an explosion of the main fuel tank. The cause of the explosion was a faulty design of the O-rings at the joints that connected the solid rocket booster sections that allowed hot gasses to escape and ignite the tank. So, the explosion destroyed the orbiter, but the explosion itself had a cause.

You can chase your own tail for a while, if you know what I mean, before a solution is found and remedied. Successful problem-solving is sometimes more art than science.

However, in certain industries such as engineering, there are concrete rules that cannot be violated, namely the laws of physics. There are certain things that just can’t be done, at least not without causing damage. There’s a joke among engineers: something is “designed to fail.” That means that whoever came up with a particular concept hasn’t thought it through far enough to see where a failure could occur. Murphy’s Law lives in the details – if something can fail, it will.

Economics isn’t much different from engineering. While not quite as rigid as the laws of physics, there are nonetheless economic laws that cannot be violated without causing damage.

If I may, I’d like to make an absurd analogy in order to make a point. Let’s say you wanted to make an automobile out of paper. In theory, there would be advantages to doing so: it would be light, it would get great gas mileage and could be easily repaired.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

But if you were to crash in one of these cars, the disadvantages would be tragic. The fault lies in the details. Paper isn’t very strong and affords little to no protection for the passengers. Even if you built a wooden frame to support the paper, that wouldn’t work either. If the underlying foundation of the idea isn’t sound, it’s designed to fail.

Thankfully, we have something called experience to guide us in the engineering world. There is a body of knowledge that’s been accumulated over the years that’s taught in engineering schools. Such is this body of knowledge that there’s very little grey area in that discipline: either something will work or it won’t work. Bridges are a great example.

Economics is very similar. While I’m not as well versed in economics as Milton Friedman, I’ve managed to pick up enough nuggets of knowledge in my travels to know that our economy, as it’s currently being directed from Washington is, shall we say politely, not following the laws of free market economics. Therein lies the problem.

Now, there are many among us who seem to think that there are economic forces beyond our control. This was true in the past when our economy was centered more around agrarian commodities and the farm. Weather played a large part in crop harvests, and one bad planting season could have a profoundly negative effect on prices. Several years of bad weather could devastate a crop, and farmers along with it.

But as our economy has grown and industry has become a larger part of our economic structure, changing weather has played less of a role. These days, there is less economic disruption caused by nature.

Now our biggest enemy is us.

I spoke earlier of a body of knowledge that we can use to draw upon in the engineering world. We also have that body of knowledge in economics. However, you’d never know that by listening to those in charge of the economy today. It seems as though economic history is being ignored, and those who think they know this body of knowledge really don’t. Their ignorance is showing up everywhere in high unemployment numbers and a low GDP. Remember how we were told that President Obama’s Stimulus plan would keep the unemployment rate below 8%?

It’s as though they were bound and determined to construct their car out of paper, disregarding any evidence of the bad results.

Our economic body of knowledge is contained in recent history. The economic law is clear: more government interference in the private sector results in less economic activity. If that law has a name, I don’t know what it is, but it certainly deserves one.

The problem is that we have someone (or a group of someones) in Washington who is laboring under the false illusion that they can “guide” our economy. The truth is, any action that the government takes only restricts the free flow of the economy.

Let’s try another analogy, this one historical and less absurd. Let’s say you’re the village blacksmith and your main product is horseshoes. Let’s also say you’ve been in business for a few years in a growing community. Because of that growth, you’re making more horseshoes than ever. Your raw materials are abundant in the area and you have all the tools you need to produce horseshoes as quickly as you can.

Along comes the village magistrate with the news that he’s going to levy a tax on all sales in the community. Part of that tax will help the community keep the roads in good shape. That sounds like a worthwhile use of the taxes, since it will encourage an activity in which you’re already engaged. The tax is to be 10%. You add this cost onto the price you charge for your horseshoes, and once the community is aware of the tax and the increased cost they now must pay for the horseshoes, everyone understands.

Now let’s say this magistrate comes by and announces not a tax, but something called a regulation. This new regulation requires that you must use a certain type of wood for the fire that is essential to your business. You can no longer use the wood readily available from the nearby forest; you must now travel to the next community some miles away to purchase wood from a different forest. The wood from the local forest is to be used only by the townsfolk for their cooking, not for making horseshoes. Incidentally, no one is planting seedlings in the local forest to insure the future supply of wood for the village.

Since you don’t have a cart to transport the wood, you must take several days to construct one yourself, days that prevent you from making horseshoes. In addition, your trip to purchase the newly required wood takes one complete day of your time, further reducing the number of days you have to make horseshoes. This must be done every week.

As a result, you must charge more money for your horseshoes: the magistrate has imposed a tax and a new regulation too, forcing you to increase the price. If you don’t, you won’t be able to purchase the grain your wife needs to make bread, which is also more expensive due to the 10% tax levied on it.

Next, the magistrate notices the increased cost of his food and decides that the tax he’s levied on the community is going up to 13%, again forcing a price increase for the entire community, only now that tax money is feeding the magistrate whose costs are higher as a direct result of the taxes he’s levied on the town.

You see where this is going.

Once government gets its tentacles around an economy, it can only cause economic damage. Granted, there are many things that government can and should do. But once the legal framework is in places to protect the lives and property of the citizens, there is little left to do except meddle. Any meddling beyond the essential duties of a government (as defined by the people, in our case) only serves as a drag on the economy and results in a slowdown of activity as the cost of doing business goes up.

This is the law of economics that’s being violated with wild abandon inside the Beltway today. The solution is to get government out of the marketplace so as to increase economic activity. This a simple remedy that will prove difficult to execute. We’ve become numb to the effects of government intrusion to such a great degree that many people recoil at the idea that certain government programs and agencies should be reviewed, or reduced or eliminated.

In their panic, they mistakenly think that there’s no way we could dismantle these large regulatory agencies. But, if they were aware of the true nature of these bureaucracies and how they function today, they’d be more than happy to do away with them. Part of the deception that career politicians use to protect their jobs is to make you think that you absolutely cannot live without this or that agency. Even PBS is essential to our lives according to those pols who seek to justify their increasingly meaningless positions and the money they take from taxpayers.

We can’t live without a government-sponsored radio station? Think about that for a minute and ask yourself if maybe, just maybe, our government has gotten too big.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

This will be a short post, because I know all seven of you have things to do today, like cooking out, ot going to the beach if you have one handy, or maybe attending a Memorial Day parade.

Whatever you do today, please keep in mind your fellow Americans who are currently serving and especially remember those who have paid the ultimate price for your freedom. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

I'll post a few links that I found this morning in my travels. These were stolen from contributed by the sites in the sidebar. I hope you enjoy them.

Honor the Fallen.

As you may know, Memorial Day was started shortly after the Civil War. Here's a link to the recounting of a battle from that war, The Bloody Angle at Spotsylvania.

From Instapundit, Memorial Day: The War in Iraq.

The Best Memorial Weekend Lawn Weekend Lawn Poster.

Michelle Malkin's Memorial Day 2001. The song at the bottom by Trace Adkins is very moving.

From Pajamas Media comes this perfect Memorial Day charity, Tea are the World.

And finally, here's a musical tribute to our fighting forces from somebody named Gene Simmons,

Happy Memorial Day, y'all.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Bits of Tid - Black Irish Edition

I guess since Bill Clinton was our first black president, Obama had no choice but to assume the mantle of our first Irish president. This week's European leg of the Osama bin Laden victory tour included stops in England, Ireland and Poland.

And there were *ahem* memorable moments at each stop.

Embarrassingly memorable. In fact, President Obama personified the stereotype of the ugly American like no ugly American before him.

You wonder what the folks in the White House whose job it is To Know These Things are really doing. The British press had a jolly good time following the President and showing his staggeringly inept staff and lack of rudimentary protocol.

Even before the trip to England, Obama was, shall we say, not warmly received. Here are Nile Gardiner's Top Ten Insults Agains Britain. From the article,

“The US president will no doubt be careful not to offend his hosts when he travels to London, and he will receive a warm welcome from the Queen and the Prime Minister, as any American president would. But the prospect of an embarrassing diplomatic gaffe or insensitive remark cannot be ruled out from a world leader whose administration has all too often specialised in them.”

Little did Mr. Gardiner know what would happen.

First, this photo...

Did someone mention an embarrasing diplomatic gaffe?

Not content to embarrass the US in England, the Obama entourage then moved on to Ireland where the president and first lady downed a pint of the world's greatest beer, Guinness. What did that innocent pint do to deserve such a fate?

Michelle didn't like it, not one bit. In fact, she appears to have found a bug in her beer in the photo at the link. Arthur Guinness would not be amused. As every Guinness drinker knows, it's literally impossible to take a sip and not be rewarded with a smile.

Someone should have told the President that he couldn't drive afterwards...

While not directly related to this incident, London police have issued fines to Obama's entourage for causing congestion. I question the timing.

And just to prove that Obama considers all the world to be equal, Poland's Lech Walesa snubbed Obama and will not meet with the fellow Nobel Prize winner.

And the trip isn't over yet. Here at home, Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty tweets this zinger, "@BarackObama sorry to interrupt the European pub crawl, but what was your Medicare plan?"

And Mitt Romney is a generous soul. He sent some leftover pizza to Obama's campaing headquarters in Chicago with a note that read, "Luca Brasi sleeps with the pepperoni."

An eager country awaits the return of its president from Europe. Things are so bad here that even dogs are panhandling.

Y'all enjoy the Memorial Day holiday and thank a soldier.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

George Soros and His Marvelous Propaganda Machine

Apparently unbeknownst to anyone in the MSM, a quiet revolution in American and world media is under way. Your friend and mine, George Soros, is a very busy boy and has been for a while. Recently, a few articles have emerged outlining his quest for media dominance, like these two from Fox News.com, here and here, and another one here from the Media Research Center. Do yourself a favor, click and read them all.

Lots of pies and apparently, lots of fingers to stick in them.

Soros’ dislike of America and freedom should be well known by now. He isn’t bashful when it comes to criticizing America and the universal ideals that we embody. He’ll use flowery prose and couch his criticisms in sort of a “Gee whiz, America’s just awful, isn’t it?” linguistic shuffle of the feet, as if it’s common knowledge that there seems to be something wrong with us, history be damned.

Nothing that a New World Order wouldn’t cure, mind you.

Before I continue, there’s something you should know: this man truly hates you. In true psychotic form, he considers anyone who opposes him, or his agenda, to be his enemy.

His reign of terror around the world is well known, especially to those whose economies he’s destroyed. He’s a world player with not only money, but politics, too. (He’s known affectionately as “the man who broke the Bank of England,” making over $1 billion dollars at the expense of the British people. They weren’t the first, either.)

Ask yourself why a private citizen from any other country would try so hard to influence American politics, especially to the degree that Soros has inserted his considerable resources into the forming of  false public opinion. He spent some $25 million dollars in 2004 to defeat George Bush and has spent many more millions building a media empire that has as its goal the defeat of freedom, America, and the Western way of life.

I hate to flog a deceased equine, but this also falls into the theme of propaganda and mental conditioning. I’ll get to that shortly.

Let’s hop in the Way Back Machine and go all the way back to last April. The esteemed Mr. Soros gathered his faithful followers in Boston for this event, the National Conference for Media Reform. Among the rogue’s’ gallery of “presenters” (does that mean that they were present?) were well known socialist Senator Bernie Sanders and well known moonbat Nancy Pelosi. (I found this page to be so chocked full of lefty goodness that I’m bookmarking it for further reference. It’s a veritable wellspring of information as to who either is on the Soros payroll or wishes they were, along with publications and organizations to avoid.)

Now, why would anyone want to “reform” media? The traditional role of a journalist is to gather raw information and arrange it in an organized way to accurately inform the public. Call me old school, but I still subscribe to the “who, what, when, where” formula of journalism and leave the “why” to the opinion page.

That’s journalistic integrity at its finest and was the basis for the justifiable pride that reporters once felt about their chosen profession. However, that model was “reformed” a long time ago and seems no longer to be a function of American media. This helps to explain why Candidate Obama wasn’t properly vetted during his run.

That, and just outright stupidity.

But I digress.

Pure, true journalism seems dead. What we have now is opinion masquerading as legitimate reporting, but you knew that already. With the explosion in information in recent years, the likelihood of you receiving accurate information with which to make sound political judgments is small and diminishing by the year, if not the month. You can no longer rely upon the evening news to tell you the truth, if you ever could.

That’s where the New Media comes in. This blog and the others like it are fine examples. You must dig to find accurate information, because the MSM won’t tell you certain things, especially when it comes to politics. While I mourn the death of journalistic integrity on the part of the MSM, the alternatives have become so much fun to read that I’m almost glad it’s happened. Click on any of the links in my sidebar: you’ll get far more accuracy, pith, and good-natured snark than anywhere else I can think of. Very few of these sites existed ten years ago.

Now the danger is that, with Soros effectively in charge of a large and growing media empire, they will start to broadcast misinformation. In fact, this is already happening. Springing forth fully formed as a “respected, non-partisan” media organizations, many of these newly created media monsters are already feeding their propaganda to a willing (and drooling) mainstream press to whom fact-checking is some lost art, spoken of in hushed and reverent tones by some, but largely remaining a mystery.

If you’ll remember my recent post on Mental Conditioning, I explored the modern-day form of propaganda, Astroturfing. This wonderful new (and ethically challenged) twist on the old Soviet tactic of bamboozling the people involves what could be accurately called electronic peer pressure. Ideas, notions, and a seemingly prevailing attitude are all that’s needed to make folk think something is true when it isn’t. Its’ power lies in its subtlety and in its ubiquity. It’s everywhere and it all says pretty much the same thing. You want to be in with all the cool people, don’t you? Well, this is what those cool people are saying. You don’t want to be uncool, do you? Do you?

(It should be noted that research into the mind with the goal of manipulating it isn’t some far out conspiracy theory: it was actually practiced and actively explored by the Soviets during the Cold War. Here’s a link to a book on the subject from the good people over at FHU. You can download it for a paltry $5 and is well worth your time to read.)

Imagine for a moment that you’re bombarded with information.

Now imagine all that information is incorrect.

Imagine further that it’s all designed to make you think a certain way, and therefore, vote a certain way. It’s possible for you to cast a vote for a candidate who, once in office, would begin to work against your best interests and those of the country.

Sound familiar?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

President Obama Installs His Minister of Propaganda

I’ve been on the subject of mental conditioning and its bastard child, propaganda, for a few days, not knowing that something like this would happen.

I must have ESPN or something.

By now, you should have a pretty good idea of what you’ll hear in the upcoming presidential election, or rather, what you won’t hear. What you’ll hear is how great and wonderful Our Dear Leader is, how he rescued the country from the ravages of the eeeeevillll George Bush, saved or created billions of new jobs, guaranteed free healthcare for all without adding one penny to the deficit, and singlehandedly killed Osama bin Laden.

What you won’t hear about is the millions of Americans who are still out of work or the record numbers sub-employed in menial jobs outside their chosen field for far less pay. You won’t hear about the record numbers of Americans on food stamps. You won’t be hearing about the massive numbers of Americans living below the poverty line. You won’t hear about Obama’s many broken promises, starting with his pledge to balance the federal budget by the end of his first term in office. Ditto the numbers of people displaced from their homes because they couldn’t afford to pay their mortgage.

The Obama administration will be all skittles, rainbows, and unicorns. In fact, he’ll be portrayed as the bestest president we’ve ever had, and you should be eternally grateful that you were alive to be a small part of his historic reign. You should also thank him.

You, gentle reader, may be asking yourself, “How does he accomplish this?”

I thought you’d never ask.

You need look no further than the White House. Nestled safely within its bowels, you’ll find the office of one Jesse Lee, Obama’s new Director of Progressive Media & Online Response. Lee is perhaps most famously known as the guy who blasted Glenn Beck and the Fox News Channel from the Whitehouse.gov site here. In his new position, he’ll be better able to pushback against websites who dare to publish anything that differs from the Official Account of History.

This should be fun.

Already, Lee is being called the “Pushback Czar” and the “Shutup Czar.” NiceDeb has more here. I look forward to interfacing with him myself.

I’d like to begin the festivities by asking who’s funding this position: Is it paid for by tax dollars? Is the DNC funding it? Does George Soros have his grimy little fingers in it as well? We may get the same answer that we got to the question of how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop: the world may never know.

Next, I’d like to ask that Most Pressing Question, “What if George Bush did this?” Do you think for one minute that there wouldn’t be howls of protest among the media elites and that it wouldn’t be on every MSM news outlet every thirty minutes for at least a week?

Here’s one more thing you should be aware of, and that’s the political use of the term “progressive.” Hillary Clinton called herself a “proud progressive.” That innocent sounding word has real meaning to those who self-identify with it. To them, it’s a political stance that’s only a few ideological steps away from what your grandparents rightfully condemned as “communism.” It’s a radical, far-left belief that whatever the government does is good, and whatever you want to do (without its permission) is bad. While that’s oversimplified, it’s pretty accurate.

Adherents to this political philosophy have the misguided notion that our Constitution is outdated and ill-suited for these oh-so-modern times. Their actions prove their beliefs: As I’ve noted, the 111th Congress, led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, passed more laws than any congress since the Great Society days of the sixties. This was a particular point of pride for Her Highness and should be reason enough for you to question anyone seeking public office. It shouldn’t matter if they’re a Republican or a Democrat, if they call themselves a “progressive” or use that term at all, they need to be treated with all the respect you’d normally reserve for a large, poisonous snake inside your house, namely to keep it contained until it can be captured and returned to its natural habitat. Or killed and eaten, whatever.

The rotting cancer of progressivism has festered inside the body politic of America for too long. I could go into more detail, but for now, be on guard. Be content to know that everything that’s currently wrong with our country is the direct result of progressivism.

And Jesse Lee's new position has that word on his office door.

I would say, “Be afraid, be very afraid,” but that’s not what we’re about. We’re going to take this bullshit head on and defeat it, and this administration, with the Truth. We're going to chronicle each and every failure (a full time job to be sure), and dig deep to find out the things that the lapdogs in the MSM won't tell you and that this administration obviously doesn't want you know.

Bring. It. On.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Music and Politics Don’t Mix – Except This Time

It’s no secret that many musicians tend to lean to the left when it comes to their political beliefs, sometimes waaay to the left. Normally, I’m as eager to hear politics from a musician almost as much as I’m eager to hear music from a politician, which means not very.

Take U2’s Bono. Recently, he told the oft-repeated lie that some 90% of the guns used by Mexican gangs come from the United States to a concert crowd in Mexico City recently…

“I want you to send a message of love along the border to the good and the great people of the United States of America. … I want you to send a message to people of conscience.

Ask them to answer the question. Why is it that all we hear on the news is how drugs are smuggled through Mexico to the United States?

And we don’t hear about all the automatic weapons that are being smuggled into Mexico from the United States. Nine thousand registered arms dealers on the other side of the border. Nine thousand.

Most of the murders committed here are from weapons sold in the United States of America.”

While that’s a nice sentiment, and it’s right to mourn the innocents caught up in Mexico’s drug war that it rapidly spilling over our southern border (aided in large part by the administration’s puzzling refusal to secure it), those facts are completely wrong. For one, automatic weapons are illegal here.

Blaming America for the all the world’s troubles is a very popular theme, particularly among foreign artists. However, that outlook is fundamentally flawed.

Ted Nugent is among the small group of musicians who are vocally conservative. Today, he is joined by Kiss frontman Gene Simmons. In an MSNBC interview over the weekend, he had this to say about President Obama’s recent speech on Israel. (h/t to The RightScoop.com)

It’s along about here that I could say he pretty much announced his candidacy for President with those remarks. Of course that would be high snark, but there’s a lot of truth coming from him in that interview. It’s made even more relevant by the fact that Simmons voted for Obama.

Even though Gene was opining on Obama’s glaring lack of credibility when it comes to world matters and America’s role today, his overall sentiment is gaining a lot of traction amongst many.

Many of you know that I play music as a hobby. Many of my musician friends lean as far left as the more popular artists, but they are starting to come to the same conclusion as Gene Simmons.

Most of them voted for Obama, thinking it would be a watershed moment in American politics. It would be a grand gesture on their part to prove that America wasn’t the racist country that many have claimed it to be. They could puff out their chest and say they helped elect our first black President. Our racial wounds would be healed and we could finally put that issue to rest.

If only.

You may know that the issue of racial inequality was the root of the radical movement here in the 1960’s. The Weather Underground Manifesto wastes no time in framing America as evil oppressors of people of color. You can read it online or download it here.

Going back to Gene Simmons’ remarks, I’m finding that more and more of my friends who voted for Obama (at least, those who’ll admit it) are starting to regret their decision. After all, you can only deny reality for so long, usually right up until the moment you lose your job. Around here, the economy has taken its toll on gigs, too. Nobody has the money to go out as much anymore.

Life tends to become clear when faced with the truth: 52% of the voting public made a drastic mistake by electing Obama.

The results are inescapable. I’ve listed them many times. There is only one thing left to do and that is to reverse course while we still can. And we will.

The 2012 midterm election was only the beginning of the end of our national flirtation with socialism. The country thought it was doing something historic in electing Obama. Well, it was historic, just not the way we thought. Anyone who did the slightest bit of research into Obama had the unsettling feeling that something wasn’t quite right, and acted on that feeling by not voting for him.

His opponent, John McCain, wasn’t the best candidate; he just survived the process better than anyone else and was “picked” by the media. It was “his turn” to be the nominee. He could not, and in many cases, would not rise to challenge Obama, not wanting to appear racist, as any opposition to Obama is still being portrayed by the sycophants in the MSM. He had several opportunities to do so, and he missed every one of them, with the third presidential debate, which was a debacle for McCain. He appeared weak and unwilling to contrast any of Obama’s positions by taking an opposing viewpoint. McCain even said we had nothing to fear from Obama.

Now that right there is some serious stupid.

There is the real possibility of a political revolution come November of 2012. Now understand you won’t be hearing this from any of the MSM outlets. If you’ll recall my recent post on mental conditioning and the use of Astroturfing, you’ll be led to believe that Obama is unbeatable in his bid for reelection and the nation is united behind him.

Don’t be fooled. Talk to your friends, listen carefully, and you’ll hear a growing discontent with the leftward lurch we chose in 2008. Things haven’t worked out well for us since then, and people who voted for Obama are starting to notice.

Obama will be soundly defeated, and many long-time liberals will be swept from office. We have a real chance to take full control of Washington. We aren’t so blind as to continue on our present course.

It can happen.

It will happen.

America has a clue.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Bits of Tid - Obama Screws Israel Edition

After President Obama's speech yesterday that basically endorsed terrorist groups against Israel, wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall in the White House today when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Jimmy Carter Junior?

I think Obama's speech should answer any questions about Obama's religion once and for all.

Oh, well, let us tid in peace.

As if we didn't have enough to worry about, the CDC is now saying be prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse. I guess they can't keep them contained inside the halls of Congress anymore.

Police get a break in the search for those dastardly fryer grease thieves. "Officers noticed the tank "smelled like old, stale french fries." That used to be called a "dead giveaway."

Police comb city for mullet-wearing bandit. Robbery in the front, felony in the back.

Dangerous watermelons.

Prague Zoo sells peanut fertilizer elephant dung.

Technology is a wonderful thing. A paralyzed student walks to graduation. Man gets new bionic hand. As Insty says, more of this, please.

Duude, check this out. Like, some dude named Stoner got busted for, um, uh, I'll remember it in a minute, man. Anyway, dude, it was, like, really funny, man.

What the well-dressed Seal Team 6 dog is wearing this season.

And finally, the World's Most Useless Machine.

Y'all do have a good 'un, y'heah.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

$1 Gasoline and Mental Conditioning

Glenn Beck is concerned about an incident that happened recently in California.

While he has a valid point, I think he’s missing something. This incident is actually less about honesty and more about mental conditioning, or classical conditioning, as it’s known in psychological circles.

This is an very touchy subject, understandably so. Most folks believe they’re in full control of themselves and will reject any idea to the contrary outright. I get that. But at the same time, that idea is the foundation for every form of advertising we have today.

The whole point of advertising is to make you buy a product or a service. Think for a moment of the various ways that advertising is used to make you feel a certain way about a product. Peer pressure, status, a diminished sense of worth if you don’t own a product, all these and more are used to manipulate you into buying something that you might not need or be able to afford.

How many times have you purchased something only to regret it later? If this has ever happened to you, then you are well aware of the power of advertising.

I don’t mean to criticize all advertising. There are many good products out there that serve a useful purpose and are very handy to own, saving you time and trouble.

As a guy, I’m contractually obligated to say that tools fall under that category. Not all advertising is bad. If it serves to inform you of the tangible benefit of a product, that’s a good thing. You save time to spend with your family, the producers of that product (your neighbors) make money, what’s not to like?

Back to Beck. He’s concerned that no one thanked anyone at the gas station or even mentioned it to them. He’s also concerned that the station’s owner lost some $21,000 in the span of a few hours. He’s concerned that we’ve lost something as a nation.

I don’t mean to diminish his concerns at all. They’re all valid, but they’re more symptoms of a larger problem in America today: we’re being told what to think. And quite a few of us seem willing to be told what to think.

All seven of my regular readers have heard me mention something called “healthy skepticism.” It’s merely a variation on that old saying that “you should only believe half of what you hear and none of what you read.” In my case, that came with age. With others, it’s inborn or taught to them by their similarly skeptical parents. However you arrive at this quality, be glad you have it. I sure am.

It’s a natural defense mechanism and one that used to be in abundance here in America. Missouri is the “Show Me” state for a reason. That implies that the good residents of that state need to be shown how or why anything is true before they’ll believe it. Those are words to live by.

But, bombarded as we are today with electronic messaging, we literally can’t see the forest for the trees, to coin a phrase. Even seemingly innocuous actions like clicking the “Like” button for a Facebook recommendation sends that information to a whole slew of advertising companies. It’s nothing new by any means. Google, the host of this blog, tracks your search results to pass along to advertisers. You know that happens every time you log on.

But what about when advertising strategies get used in politics? Former White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod is famous as the “Father of Astroturfing.” While you may have heard that term before, you might not know what it means. You also might not know that it’s specifically prohibited by the code of ethics of the Public Relations Society of America, according to this Wikipedia entry.

“Astroturfing is a form of propaganda whose techniques usually consist of a few people attempting to give the impression that mass numbers of enthusiasts advocate some specific cause. In the UK this technique is better known as "rent-a-crowd" after the successful "rent-a-crate" business.”

Hmm, that sure sounds familiar. Now, where have I heard that idea before? Oh, yeah, Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.

“Rule 1: Power is not only what you have, but what an opponent thinks you have. If your organization is small, hide your numbers in the dark and raise a din that will make everyone think you have many more people than you do.”

Propaganda, plain and simple. Or the use of advertising techniques and psychology to make you think a certain way. They’re the same thing.

More comprehensive is the description by Richard Alan Nelson: "Propaganda is neutrally defined as a systematic form of purposeful persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions, and actions of specified target audiences for ideological, political or commercial purposes through the controlled transmission of one-sided messages (which may or may not be factual) via mass and direct media channels. A propaganda organization employs propagandists who engage in propagandism—the applied creation and distribution of such forms of persuasion.

So, now to why I think Glenn Beck missed the point in his report. We’ve been conditioned to hate oil companies, and the incident he points to is a natural result of that conditioning. If you’re taught to hate something or someone, the natural response is retribution, and this was a classic example of the public exacting it from a perceived enemy.

Think for a moment of how many times you’ve heard the phrase “Big Oil” in a derogatory manner. Nancy Pelosi is famous for it.

She’s not alone. Turn on almost any news channel and you’ll hear the same type of derogatory attitude displayed towards oil companies and big business in general. Years of this type of message will tend to make you think that it’s true. After all, as Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and Vladimir Lenin both observed, a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth, and the bigger the lie, the more it tends to be believed.

This is why you can’t have a discussion about the details of politics with a committed leftist. These conversations nearly always devolve into emotional shouting matches and name-calling.

This is also what led to the election of Barack Obama. Eight years of the constant drumbeat against George Bush and Republicans resulted in 52% of the public electing Anyone Who Wasn’t Bush, a role that Obama happily stepped into.

To wrap up, Glenn Beck wasn’t wrong in his criticism of that gas station incident, he just missed the bigger point by thismuch.

Conditioning works.

Against you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stephen Hawking – “Heaven is a Fairy Story”

You may have read about physicist Stephen Hawking’s statement concerning the existence of Heaven. In an interview with the Guardian, he addresses the idea of Heaven this way, "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark,"

So, according to him, half the world is scared of the dark?


My first reaction to his statement, as a Christian, is sadness. I can understand his outlook, though. His remarks sound bitter. I feel certain that he didn’t ask to be stricken with ALS in his youth. Similarly, children with cancer didn’t ask for it, nor has anyone else who has experienced a debilitating illness.

Life isn’t fair. That phrase should be tattooed on your forehead in reverse at age 3 so you can see it in the mirror every morning. I can think of few people who have a charmed life, where everything always goes their way, their spouse is exceptionally attractive and all their children are above average.

As a famous scientist, Hawking’s words carry weight. There are many in the scientific community who agree with him, and I don’t have a problem with their personal beliefs. All of us are free to believe anything we choose to believe and also to look at life any way we wish.

Hawking is free to express his faith, as he has done. He is convinced there is nothing beyond this physical life. We are nothing more than computers that wear out and are then discarded.

I don’t happen to agree with him, but that’s just me.

I understand that scientists live in a world of measurement. They live and die, in a professional sense, by how they measure the world. Accuracy is their Holy Grail, and if something cannot be quantified, they don’t concern themselves with it. There’s nothing wrong with that attitude, that’s why they make the big bucks.

Humans are the most inquisitive organisms on Earth. That curiosity has led us to discover things that, not so long ago, would’ve been considered magic. Great strides were made in the previous century due to it: we now live longer, better, and more productive lives than at any time before. We seem to be doing a good job of subduing this Earth and using it to better ourselves, just as we’re supposed to.

But it seems as though Dr. Hawking’s curiosity stops at a certain point. He seems willing to go where no mind has gone before, only to coast to a stop intellectually. Maybe that’s all the fuel he has left. Perhaps the toll his disease has taken on him is too great for him to continue any further. That’s perfectly understandable.

However, his blanket statement that there is no Heaven and that those who believe there is are childlike, sounds to me like someone who has closed his mind. I always thought the thing that separated brilliance from averageness was an open mind. That quality that was willing to consider possibilities that no one else has considered.

Now, the notion or idea of life beyond this corporeal one isn’t new by any means; it’s been around for thousands of years and is inextricably woven into the fabric of humanity. There’s just no getting away from it. It’s so firmly fixed in every society that it cannot be ignored.

It’s like growing up in Alabama. You simply cannot ignore the rivalry between Alabama and Auburn – you have to take one side or the other.

The afterlife is like that too. Either you believe in it or you don’t.

Going back to scientists and measurement for a moment, there is no physical proof of life after death. This reality is all there is to most scientists because there’s nothing to measure, no physicality to spirit, nothing to quantify, there’s no “there” there.

How do you measure you?

Surely, you exist. Of that, there is no doubt. But what part of you is you? Where do you stop and your body begin? Are you nothing more than neural firings inside a mass of tissue? What is it that animates your body? What is your spirit?

These are the questions that scientists have no answer to, as far as I can tell. That doesn’t bother me in the least.

Could it be that we’re not meant to know certain things? Is there a line beyond which we cannot go? It seems that way to me.

And that’s where faith enters. Christianity teaches that faith is believing in what you can’t see, feel, or touch. Heaven would fall into that category.

Personally, I can’t find anything wrong with believing in Heaven. Or goodness. Or mercy, or forgiveness. Nor any of the other things that Jesus instructed us to seek in this life. And I don’t have any problem with anyone that doesn’t believe in them, or Him.

You are free.

I choose to Believe, with a capital “B.” Not because of what I’ve been taught, but because of what I’ve experienced, which has led me to question virtually everything, kinda like a scientist. That’s what faith is all about.

Your free choice.

Someone I didn’t know made an interesting comment to me several days ago. He pointed to my crucifix and asked if that meant anything to me. Being the good-natured dude that I am, I answered him that yes, it did indeed mean something to me. For a long time, I had resisted calling myself a Christian. But after years of searching, I had come to the conclusion that I was, indeed, a follower of Christ. (Whether He agrees or not remains to be seen, but I prefer to do little things, like always trying to follow the Golden Rule and be as patient as I can with my fellow man and hope for The Best, IYKWIMAITTYD.) I also told him that I didn’t care what others believed as long as they weren’t trying to kill me.

I also told him that I thought it was the right time to make a choice, at which time he walked away, seemingly satisfied with my answer.

I should note that this happened in a bar.

But I digress.

Dr. Hawking is allowed his opinion on matters of faith. I’ll listen to what he has to say and measure his words against my experience and make my own decision as to the accuracy of his view, as I hope he would do with me.

Maybe he’ll open his mind just a bit farther. Who know what he might discover?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My God, it’s Full of Waivers

Remember this statement by former progressive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi?

Well, here we are a year or so later and we’re finding out what’s in it. As we conservatives suspected, it contains many things, all of them bad.

In the era immediately preceding the passage of the government takeover of one-sixth of our economy, we knew we had a problem; health care costs were rising at a rapid rate. This came as a surprise to absolutely no one.

If you’re a Baby Boomer, you know it. You’ve been reminded of it ever since you were small. You’ve been analyzed and demographed since before you were born, and subjected to every form and nuance of advertising known to man. Certain folk who are Paid to Know Things probably know more about you than you do.

We were young and hip before being young and hip was cool. We were rebellious and raucous. We wanted Free Love and freedom from The Man. Our heroes were transmogrified from real life people who did real heroic-type things in real life to celluloid anti-heroes with some dark angst simmering underneath, ala James Dean.

“Do what you feel” became our mantra. The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers proudly trucked their way across the pages of Rolling Stone Magazine, where the classified ads largely consisted of people who were trying to get one million other people to send them just one dollar. The Woodstock Nation was a unified block of free-spirited individuals who chose to separate themselves from the stodginess of their parents’ straight world and do their own thing by dressing, speaking, and acting alike.

We were oh so different from out parents except for one teeny, tiny little thing: we got old. And there were a lot of us that did that at the same time. Now, we’re starting to retire in record numbers, just as we did everything else in record numbers. And somehow, the government entitlements that were put in place before us, that we were told would always be there for us, like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, weren’t prepared for us. It’s almost like there were no Boomers elected to office anywhere.

How could anyone not have anticipated that health care costs would rise in proportion to the population of said Boomers? Did someone repeal the law of supply and demand and did I miss the memo?

This national event (the retirement of vast numbers of Baby Boomers) gave certain politicians of the far-left, control-freak variety a golden opportunity to implement one of their fondest desires – Universal Health Care. While that’s a noble sounding goal, that everyone should have access to quality health care for free, as soon as that idea becomes more than printed words on a page, it self-destructs like the tape at the beginning of Mission Impossible.

Ask someone from Britain or Canada how their government-sponsored and massively expensive health care system works and you’ll hear tales heretofore unheard of here in America. Long waits to see doctors, inefficient, sleepy-eyed, bureaucrats deciding who gets what treatment when and unnecessary deaths due to a myriad of conflagrations unique to a large and unmanageable government program, many times peopled by union members.

The fact that foreign dignitaries from these lands that boast of free health care for all come here to America for their treatment speaks volumes.

And the volumes say, “It’s a nice idea, but it doesn’t work.”

But that little fact of political and medical life didn’t dissuade the progressives in Congress from rubbing their little paws together with glee upon the immaculation of Barack Obama. They knew the time was at hand to move forward with their Grand Plan to control the American people through their health.

Ignoring such national trivialities as a housing market meltdown and the rapidly rising unemployment rate, they gathered behind closed doors without their Republican counterparts to discuss their plans. In the dead of night and against the will of a clear majority of the country, ObamaCare became law.

Over two thousand pages of legalistic mumbo-jumbo that no one bothered to read was passed over the protestations of a nation. One progressive legislator after another was questioned about the bill. Not one of them could give a clear-cut answer. Deals were cut with representatives in smoke-filled rooms (we’re left to guess as to the origin of that smoke, since little in the bill makes sense, Baby Boomers and all that).

Fast-forward to today and we get a better picture of what’s in it.

Waivers. Lots of them. Distributed to many groups who supported the bill and have since discovered how much it costs them.

Over 1300 waivers to date, with more on the way. And lots of them in Nancy Pelosi’s district.

If you don’t see anything wrong with the issuance of waivers (read exemptions) for a new law in America, then it’s time to introduce you to something you may have heard about: The Constitution.

This mysterious document speaks in an ancient language about obscure ideas. One of these arcane notions is that a law applies to everyone equally. Amazingly, this apparently outdated concept even has a name – The Equal Protection Clause.

Just think of a law that everyone must follow. I laugh in its general direction.

It’s not the Chicago Way.

The Chicago Way of Politics is to pick and choose winners and losers based on your loyalty to those in power. Support me and I’ll grant you a favor. All you need do is kiss my ring, or my ass, either one will do. Cross me and I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse.

Thank you, Godfather, for only cutting off one of my fingers. I’ll never speak ill of you, your family, your pets or your taste in fashion again.

Far be it from me to expect all the lawyers in Washington who write these laws to be familiar with the country’s legal foundational document, much less any restrictions that could be placed on them. They can certainly do as they please.

Nancy Pelosi’s word’s return, “We have to pass the bill so that you can, uh, find out what’s in it.”

To which Dave Bowman in 2001 replies, “The thing's hollow, it goes on forever, and, oh my God, it's full of waivers!"

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sports in Space? Why Not?

Growing up, I had dreams of becoming an astronaut. If you’re of a certain age, you probably had those same dreams, too. You looked up to those magnificent men in their flying machines and wanted to be one of them.

You knew you had to do: study the hard sciences, be disciplined physically, emotionally, and mentally, be the best person you could become and then, maybe, you could join the ranks of the most technically advanced pioneers the world has ever known. Shepard, Glenn, Armstrong, Aldrin, and many others were names you knew and revered.

You wanted to be like them and boldly go where no one had ever gone before.

Today’s final launch of Shuttle Endeavor is sad for many reasons, not the least among them is the fact that we’ve seemingly lost our national zeal for exploration. Not us as a people, or a race. Humans have an inner thirst for new and untried things to do and places to explore.

That was once an integral part of what made us Americans. We did new things. We proposed new ideas and new ways of doing them. We had leadership that embraced true technological progress, progress that resulted in the greatest elevation of mankind the world has ever known. The technological advancements from our space program gave us new products and innovative ways of looking at the world. Satellites, computers and Tang were but small part of the Space Age. Science fiction became facts of everyday life.

Alas, we no longer have that type of leadership in Washington today. It’s not that our national quest for adventure has waned; those we send to Washington today seem more enamored with petty things through which to gain power and control, not a grand vision of mankind elevated. We are diminished as a result of sending such small-minded people to act on our behalf.

Speaking of our space program in the past tense is depressing as hell.

We must now depend on our biggest competitor for our access to low Earth orbit. Russia will now assume the duties that we once did, servicing the Space Station that we developed, financed and put into orbit. They recently raised their price for their services, unsurprisingly. A lack of competition will do that.

So, while we ponder our next national move towards space, what will we do in the meantime? The moon is still waiting to be explored, as is Mars. We have the technology (to coin a phrase), but not the foresight or political will to continue our trek to the stars.

I have an idea.

Let’s create a sport for space. SpaceSport, we’ll call it for now. There could even be more than one of them.

It’s new, exciting, and would generate quite a bit of money and open up low Earth orbit to fans as space tourists. This would be all kinds of good.

And, it’s doable without any government money.

Just think of the possibilities. A worldwide television market. Merchandising on a truly grand scale. A permanent, private presence in space. Technological innovations that would truly make space flight as routine and inexpensive as jet travel. There’s more, the only limit would be our imagination.

Already, several private companies are poised to capitalize on space tourism with short-duration flights. Elon Musk, Sir Richard Branson, Burt Rutan and others are leading the way in the privatization of space. Expectations are that businesses will start offering rides within a couple of years, perhaps sooner.

What could accelerate that better than SpaceSport? The absence of gravity will present its own challenge. Initial plans could be for a small, well-cushioned court for the players, a uniform with strategically placed patches of Velcro with which to remain stationary if desired (or maybe stay attached to a fellow player). A ball similar to a soft type of kickball could be used (although there’s no weight in space, there’s still mass – if you hit your head on something, it still hurts). Perhaps a large cylindrical tube with round goals at either end into which a ball could be thrown or banked to score. TV cameras could be placed in players’ helmets to show the action. Advancements in virtual reality could enable fans to see what players see, much like in-car cameras in motorsports, only better. The market for video games alone would be enormous. Possibilities abound.

Eventually, there could even be an arena with live spectators, who knows?

This could be the next step in space travel and exploration – sports.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Tale of Two Flag Burnings - A Watershed Moment for America

Something happened Wednesday that you should know about. Before I show y’all the videos, I need to relate the whole story to you as best I know it.

It began when a Columbian student enrolled in Louisiana State University, upset at the death of Osama bin Laden, decided to protest the United States early on May 2 by defacing the LSU War Memorial, cutting down the American and LSU flags and setting fire to the American flag. From Gateway Pundit.

An LSU student wanted as a suspect in connection with the damage of the school’s war memorial, which included the burning of an American flag, has turned himself in to school police, according to the university.

Isaac Eslava, 23, a resident of Baton Rouge was being sought for two counts of simple damage to property, one count of arson, one count of theft and one count of resisting an officer.

Eslava holds dual citizenship for the United States and Colombia. During the early morning hours of May 2, the LSU War Memorial was damaged. The flag mast rope was cut down, the United States flag set afire and the LSU flag stolen. An LSU staff member alerted LSU Police, who responded to the area. LSU Police located the suspect nearby, but was unable to detain him.

During this initial response, police recovered a stolen vehicle, which was used by the suspect. The LSU flag was recovered from inside of the vehicle along with drug paraphernalia, a clothing item belonging to the suspect, and red and black spray paint.

LSU Police Detectives later identified the suspect and recovered the knife suspected to have been used to cut the rope. The knife still had flag mast rope fibers along the blade. Detectives also learned that on the same morning The Venue Apartments located north of campus were vandalized by graffiti using red and black spray paint and were able to connect the suspect to the crime.

He is shown here shortly after his arrest.

This incident prompted graduate student Benjamin Haas to stage his own protest of Eslava’s arrest by attempting to burn yet another American flag.

This is what Haas had planned to say during his protest (from lsureville.com),

"I initially began this flag burning protest to define due process for students and suspected terrorists alike, to call on LSU and universities across the country to defend basic human rights and avoid putting students into the criminal justice system when it can be taken care of internally," the pre-written text of Haas's speech read. "In the name of peace, there will be no flag burning today. This country and the flag that flies over it stands for freedom, democracy, love, peace and the ability to question our government.”

Haas seems oblivious to the facts surrounding Eslava’s arrest. Eslava did not burn his own flag. He was arrested for destruction of property, vandalism, arson, and theft. Due process was carried out in accordance with the law. Note that Haas wants to “define due process.” He needn't worry his pretty little head about that: wiser souls have already done that for him.

His concern for suspected terrorists is oh so compassionate. Too bad he doesn’t hold such compassion for the innocent victims of terrorism.

As a staunch Alabama fan, I’m contractually obligated to say, “Is this what they teach at LSU?”

Anyway, in a massive show of patriotism and non-violence by the student body and others, Haas’ protest didn’t quite go as planned, as the following video shows.

Bill Ayers was unavailable for comment.

This is a watershed moment for the country. This demonstration shows just how badly outnumbered the radical left is, despite their seeming prevalence on the major news outlets of the MSM and in academia. I detect one of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals being revealed, “Rule 1: Power is not only what you have, but what an opponent thinks you have. If your organization is small, hide your numbers in the dark and raise a din that will make everyone think you have many more people than you do.”

As the videos show, the crowd of counter-protesters was vast, vocal and raucous. And also non-violent. And indicative of the left’s true numbers.

They're also aware of their rights. (language warning)

This is all kinds of good. The Formerly-Silent Majority has found its voice, thanks in no small part to the Tea Party movement. Personally, I’d like to see more of this type of protest where the radical left is shouted down as the poseur hypocrites that they are. If they’re so disillusioned with the US that they feel moved to protest yet they take full advantage of the freedoms and opportunities that abound here, then they should be shouted down, loudly and non-violently. If they find America not to their liking, they are free to leave us in peace and relocate to another country that’s more in line with their decidedly anti-American views.

Remember that it was Socrates who originally said, “America, Love It or Leave It.”

Or words to that effect.

Note: This should have been posted yesterday, but got eaten by the Interwebs.

Friday Bits of Tid - Friday the 13th Edition

Today's Piece of Helpful Advice:

If you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.

Forgive me for the lateness of my post today, but Blogger has been down until just now. Ann Althouse hardest hit.

Anyway, it's Friday the 13th. As the comic character Pogo used to say, the only day that would be worse would be Friday the 26th. Twice as bad.

Let us tid with caution.

Big Brother is watching your kid eat lunch.

Dangerous Hair.

Paper Escher. (via David Thompson)

Lego Escher.

Dangerous Grandma.

This is just the thing to go along with your President Obama Commemorative Plate: an Obama Seal Team 6 Action Figure. Teleprompter sold separately.

I truly thought border collies were smarter than this.

And finally, OBL's funeral at sea. (shamelessly stolen from Ace of Spades HQ)

Have a good 'un, y'all.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Obama’s Political Cowboy Poetry

Ignoring a seriously depressed economy, four-dollar-a-gallon gasoline and a ten percent inflation rate, President Obama took to the campaign trail in Texas yesterday to talk up immigration reform and talk down to Republicans, conservatives, and anyone else who dares to think that we should actually enforce our existing immigration laws.

Here’s a sample:

The president said “we have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. But even though we’ve answered these concerns, I suspect there will be those who will try to move the goal posts one more time. They’ll say we need to triple the border patrol. Or quadruple the border patrol. They’ll say we need a higher fence to support reform. Maybe they’ll say we need a moat. Or alligators in the moat. They’ll never be satisfied. And I understand that. That’s politics.”

No, Mr. President, that’s smug condescension on your part, which I guess passes for politics to you. We’re still waiting for you to get serious about enforcement. We wonder why you aren’t stopping the flood of illegals across our Mexican border. We wonder why you’re intent upon suing the state of Arizona to stop their recently passed illegal immigration law that closely mirrors the federal law you refuse to enforce.  Jake Tapper does a bit of fact-checking Obama's speech here.

We wonder why there are signs like this anywhere in America.

(H/T to Great Satan Inc.)

We wonder why we tolerate the environmental destruction that those illegals cause. Why aren’t the greenies outraged at the 225 tons of trash they left behind in 2010? The 13.5 tons of tires? The 77 vehicles abandoned and removed?

How about the fact that Phoenix, AZ is now one of the world’s most dangerous cities due to the high and rising number of kidnappings by drug cartels? Janet Napolitano recently stated that the Mexican border is safe. I guess since she can’t see it from her office window in Washington, she thinks it is. Pinal County Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu begs to disagree, in front of a Congressional committee no less.

Not to mention the potential for terrorists to cross into America unnoticed. This alone should be sufficient cause to secure our southern border, especially now that known terrorist groups are established in Mexican border towns.

President Obama is more than happy to confuse legal and illegal immigration for political purposes, and he’s not alone in using that tactic.

Fox News notes,

“…Obama is pitching his immigration argument to the larger public, refining it in a way that goes to Americans' pocketbook concerns. White House officials say Obama will emphasize the economic value of reforming immigration laws, noting that immigrants account for a substantial share of business start-ups and patent applications, among other things -- activities that create jobs for everyone.”

Those are legal immigrants, with whom no one has a beef. If you want to come to America and do so through our traditional (and legal) method of application, then we welcome you as we always have. It’s those who enter this country illegally without regard for our laws that we’re concerned about. Illegals working under cover and for less wages impact our economy negatively, displacing American workers. It’s no coincidence that Mexico’s second greatest source of national income (behind oil revenues) is from illegals in America. Count in the states that strangely give public benefits to illegals and the costs outweigh any benefits.

We don’t need immigration reform. We already have a pathway to citizenship, but to hear the President and many others speak, we don’t.

And if the Democrats or Obama thought for a minute that any of these illegals they want to give amnesty to might vote Republican, they’d be the first ones to close the Mexican border.

You can hang your ten-gallon hat on that, pardner.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Obama in the Economic Shadow of Carter

There’s a wonderfully optimistic post over at Politico today: President Obama dashes 'Jimmy Carter' label. It’s optimistic only if you’re a far-left, progressive Democrat. (h/t to Instapundit)

This article gleefully reports that Obama’s approval numbers show a 12-point uptick in his popularity in the wake of the successful bin Laden operation. Noticeably absent is any mention of George Bush, whose policies Obama continued and to whom Obama owes his singular political success.

The author is saying, essentially, that the 2012 presidential election has already been decided in Obama’s favor and that Republicans may as well start waving the white flag of surrender.

Not so fast there, Sunshine. The folks over at CNBC are showing only a three point overall bump from his pre-raid approval numbers. That’s notable because they’re not a stronghold of conservative thought.

As the euphoria of bin Laden’s demise slowly wears off, we’re returning to the reality of an American economy on life support. Last Friday’s new unemployment numbers are but one indicator that Happy Obama and his Merry Economy Wrecking Crew are still busy doing their best to strangle the private sector and drive our federal debt to unprecedented and unsustainable levels.

Perhaps they need a few reminders that we still have all the wonderfulness of Jimmy Carter II in the White House.

The nation’s unemployment numbers rose back up to nine percent. Understand that this number is somewhat misleading due to the way the numbers are obtained. Those who have been out of work the longest aren’t counted. If you aren’t actively collecting state unemployment money, you’re not considered unemployed. As people exhaust their benefits after two years, they are simply no longer counted.

Similarly, the price of groceries and gasoline isn’t figured into the inflation index. It’s almost as the prime drivers of unemployment and inflation aren’t counted. Hmm, wouldn’t that make the numbers appear to be better than they actually are?

Why yes, yes they would.

It’s funny how the progressive, anti-American left seizes onto just one victory by their little hero and it’s game over for the Republicans. Until that event, Obama was on the express elevator to the bottom of popularity as his policies (along with those of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in the previous Congress, don't forget) chug along as planned. A drastic erosion of our standard of living will do that to a president.

Granted, taking out bin Laden was a feather in Obama’s cap. But how is that helping the growing number of Americans struggling to purchase gas, or groceries, or find a job? The answer is it can’t and it won’t. But you knew that already.

That doesn’t stop the wishful thinkers on the left from crowing from the barn roof that Obama is invincible and that all the GOP candidates should just go back home where they belong and let Obama work his magic for another four years.

Sorry, but we can’t take four more years of Obama. The first two have already been quite enough, thank you. How much longer can we continue our downward slide toward the gaping maw of the economic Sarlacc? How many more of your friends and family will lose their jobs? Their homes? Their self-sufficiency and sense of worth?

Almost everyone I know has lost either a job, or a home or both. Before you say I need a better circle of friends, understand that I know machinists, salesfolk, engineers, business owners, nurses, and degreed professionals of various backgrounds. They’re all hurting.

This economy and the policies that caused it are responsible for the greatest waste of intellectual capital this country has ever seen. Why should a degreed software engineer be forced to unload trucks for a living? That’s not me, BTW, but my situation is no different. The waste isn’t confined to one sector of the economy, it’s everywhere you look.

People want to work, preferably in their chosen field. In America, we once had that opportunity, but efforts to engineer our society have resulted in big policy decisions at the national level that have done little to expand our economy, still the world’s largest. I point to NAFTA as the beginning of these destructive policies, and they continue to this day.

Do you really think that Obama’s illegal moratorium on oil drilling in the Gulf isn’t contributing to high gas prices? If you think that, then I don’t know what to say to you. Your grasp of economics is tenuous at best. Get thee to the Interwebs and start educating yourself on the wonderfully simple Law of Supply and Demand. In five minutes, you’ll know more than all the president’s current economic advisors combined.

But if you see the economic truth, then you also see that it’s not the free market that’s causing our malaise. It’s a direct result of policy stifling that market. Our economy is being engineered by people who don’t know what they’re doing, unless, of course, they’re intent upon ruining it.

We grew to become the world’s largest economy precisely because we were free. This is called “organic growth” and led us to the top of the world in economic growth, technical innovation, and prosperity. There was diversity in the job market, and even if you didn’t have a college degree, you could still make a respectable living with your hands.

But in the mid-nineties, someone somewhere in Washington decided that we, as a nation, were to move to a “service oriented” economy. This simple decision was the beginning of the end of our free market. Have you noticed how many economic bubbles have formed and burst since then?

Ask yourself why anyone would want to suppress a vibrant, free market for any reason other than to cripple it. Any effort or policy that deviates from the principle of freedom doesn’t improve a free market economy. That’s why it’s called what it’s called.

The current president looks with wonder upon this nation and its economy. Having no experience in the business world, and surrounding himself with like-minded people, he is captaining the Titanic, hereafter renamed the Jimmy Carter. Brave and bold, full of himself, enjoying the view from the bridge while heading straight towards the iceberg. Even when the ship strikes it, the captain isn’t worried because he’s been assured that he’s at the helm of the most advanced ship ever to ply the seas. After all, it’s unsinkable, isn’t it?

And that’s a best-case scenario giving the president the benefit of the doubt. All of the benefit.

In a worst-case scenario, our economic demise is being planned and guided by someone with a track record of destroying entire countries’ economies and America would be the trophy he’d most like to mount over the fireplace.

Not that I’m into conspiracy theories, but I keep asking myself, as do many, if Obama were purposely destroying our economy, what would he be doing differently?

This period of history makes Jimmy Carter look positively stellar by comparison. There isn’t one traditional economic indicator showing us emerging from a very deep recession. Obama’s policies are directly to blame. I don’t employ the double standard the Progressive Pravda uses that pins the blame only on Republican presidents when the economy heads south. Obama owns this economy. There are no two ways about it.

We’ve reached the tipping point. Our federal government has grown so big and influential (in a negative way) that it now controls our economy. New laws and regulations, regardless of their intentions, are having a downward pull on us that’s rapidly exceeding the force of gravity.

Knowing what the problem is will go a long way towards fixing it. The solution is simple, but not easy: we need a reduction in government away from central command and control. It’s been tried before and has failed every time.

What’s needed is a change in the national mindset. A smaller, weaker government should be demanded by the American people. And when I say weak, I don’t mean that in a militaristic way. I mean that in the way that we shouldn’t be struggling under counterproductive rules, red tape and high tax rates. Washington is simply too big, too powerful and economically damaging to continue upon its current path. We have to rein it in if we are to ever have a hope of being the country we could be, where each person has the opportunity to set his or her own course through life, secure in the knowledge that some bureaucrat somewhere far away isn’t busy concocting ways to justify his salary by making up rules as fast as possible, rules that restrict the creation of wealth and prosperity.

In other words, it’s time for some change, only this time, the positive kind.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Bin Laden’s Death and Postmodernism

We knew this was coming. Not bin Leaden’s ultimate demise, but the unfortunate and all-too-predictable reaction from the usual subjects concerning his death. The last bubbles had hardly surfaced before some people started their America-bashing, claiming that we were the big, bad bullies for personally arranging Osama’s final dinner date with those 72 sturgeons. Even in countries that have experienced their own attacks at the direction of that animal, they strove mightily to establish their position on the highest moral ground by claiming that OBL’s death was illegal, immoral, and fattening. It even violated some international law.

I call bullshit, as you probably have too.

I’m terribly sorry to anyone who may be offended by my joy over the death of bin Leaden, but I'm not apologizing to anyone for it. We needed it. The world needed it. Nothing brightens my day like knowing the world has one less practitioner of evil in it. The birds sing a little sweeter at the thought that my five-year-old granddaughter doesn’t have to live in fear of him, and that one day, she’ll ask me who that bad man was. I’ll tell her and give her all the details I think she can handle.

The most important lesson I want to give her is that there are good people and there are bad people in this world. Good people do good things and bad people do bad things. Killing people is a bad thing, but killing a bad person is a good thing because it stops them from doing bad things to good people.

It really is just that simple. What surprises me is there are big people who can’t grasp that simple concept. And a few of them proudly proclaimed their misguided beliefs in the wake of bin Leaden’s death.

At which point I wondered, “What part of good and evil do you not understand?”

Amidst the moral universe in which we live, there are seemingly as many beliefs as there are stars in the evening sky. Well, maybe not that many, but there are an awful lot of them, and a lot of them are awful.

Bigfoot. Space aliens. The Loch Ness Monster. Keynesian economics. Political correctness. Multiculturalism, where all cultures are equally good. We need to spend money to keep from going bankrupt.

All popular beliefs and all of them wrong.

Yet there is one Big Wrong Belief that acts like an umbrella covering all the other ones from the cleansing rain of reality. You may have heard of it. It goes by the name of Postmodernism.

Sounds trendy, huh? Want to prove to your friends that you are terminally hip? Just say that you’ve been studying up on the latest philosophical craze, postmodernism. Your friends will be amazed.

Unless they know what it is. Then, what your friends will marvel at is your intellectual shallowness and infantile need for approval, not to mention your self-esteem issues for falling for the oldest trick in the book, in addition to being just plain stupid.

For the uninitiated, postmodernism is the basic belief that there is no such thing as good or evil. Following that, no decision you make or action you take is wrong. So, to coin a phrase, just do it. It’s all good. Nothing matters and what if it did?

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Since there’s no right or wrong, you’re free to live life on your own terms without that stodgy old thing called morals that the lesser humans babble on about. You’re a true intellectual, yes you are. You can now move on to other things, like splitting those pesky atoms with your mind and putting all those scientists at CERN to shame.

Silly humans.

If you’re not up to speed on this concept, do yourself a favor and search out a few articles on it. If you have any experience at all in the real world, you will rightly question anyone who buys into postmodernism. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it’s just codified insanity. The scary part about it is, there are a lot of folks who believe it, and too many of them hold political office. Cass Sunstein springs immediately to mind.

If you believe in PoMo, you are actively disengaging your own conscience. Control freaks like Sunstein have no problem with the idea of controlling other people because of it. All they need to do is point to how popular PoMo is (in certain circles) and voila! No need for any explanation and certainly no need to answer the questions that inevitably arise when you find out that there is someone in Washington whose fondest desire is to “nudge” you into a certain behavior.

Nor is there any need to explain the oft-cited stratospheric certitude that “One death diminishes us all.” Really? Bin Laden’s death diminished us? In what way? We killed a mass murderer. We killed someone who encouraged others to kill us for the crime of being non-muslim. We killed someone who hated us for breathing. Sorry, but out here in the real world, we must occasionally kill rabid animals for everyone's safety.

And we’re the ones who were wrong to kill him? Some of these fake bleeding hearts wanted him arrested and tried for his crimes. The idiocy of that proposal defies all logic and probably a few laws of physics, too.. While we’re playing mind games, let’s imagine for a moment what would have happened had we held the World’s Biggest Show Trial for bin Laden. He would’ve had the stage for his beliefs, the trial likely would've lasted for many years forcing the survivors of 9/11 to relive that horrible day over and over, there would be terror attacks and millions of dollars spent on security, the defense would have presented all manner of excuses for his behavior and would have retired after their books were published. It would’ve been a debacle of global proportions, just like OBL would have wanted it.

So, thanks once again to Seal Team 6, wherever and whoever you may be. You did the world a favor, and we owe you our gratitude.

As for the America bashers here and abroad, take your moral relativism and shove it, along with your stupid beliefs.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday Bits of Tid - Muthahood Edition

Yo, yo, yo, y'all. It's been a pretty good week, all things considered. Our economy is still on life support, gas prices are through the roof and you think you're getting stronger because you can now lift one bag of groceries that costs $75 where you couldn't do that last year.

Still, all that pales, for a while at least, next to the news that we took out the world's most wanted man. The daring raid proved that even though we elected the worst president in recent memory, he still managed to do something right.

There's a first time for everything.

Let us tid with vim and vigor.

Are you in the market for a car? Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is for sale. The tires should be in really good shape.

Imagine for a moment that you're on a beach in Hawaii with your family. You ask a stranger to take a picture. You then discover the guy you asked is your long-lost half brother.

Fryer grease rustlers.

It seems you just can't trust drug dealers anymore. Man calls 911 after being shortchanged in crack deal. What is this world coming to?

Move over, Samuel Adams. The Father of our Country also had a beer recipe. You can taste it at a Manhattan bar called Rattle and Hum on May 18.

From the sidebar over at Ace's Place comes this video of a poor, bacon-deprived dog who can talk...

Holy advice in the grocery store.

And finally, this is for all the Mutha's out there.

Word, yo.

Also, if you don't mind, could you take a minute and say a prayer for a very good friend of mine who's in the hospital fighting for his life? Just a small one for his comfort, wisdom for his doctors, and strength for his family and friends. Many thanks.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Obama Administration Seeks to Tax and Track Drivers with GPS Box

While the White House continues to change its story on the successful operation that took out OBL, this administration’s efforts to raise taxes and infringe upon your privacy proceed apace.
You’re gonna love this.

Under this plan, a study group would be established that would evaluate the feasibility of taxing drivers using the number of miles driven. And you’ll never guess how they plan to do it. Go on, guess. I’ll wait.

If you guessed they want to put a GPS device on your vehicle to track where you’ve been and when, then, Don Pardo, tell them what they’ve won!

Never mind that we’re already taxed for each mile we drive. That’s done through the taxes that the federal government and state and local municipalities impose on every gallon of gas we buy. Now, they want to install a GPS device in order to track the number of miles you drive. And if you think that’s all the information that will be gleaned from that little black box in your car, then, by all means, let them install one on your vehicle.

I’d rather not.

It’s crystal clear to me why the feds want to do this, as it should be to you. This is yet another of the ways the hoax of man-made global warming is being used as a political tool for the government to remove your Constitutional freedom of movement and your God-given right to privacy.

Pardon me, but I don’t remember telling any of my elected representatives that I wanted this done. And I can’t find anything horribly deficient with the current method of taxation. They seem to be able to collect a fair amount of money from us every day. What’s really funny is how this administration points to the eight cents of profit that the big, eeevilll oil companies make on every gallon as if that number is somehow outrageously high, but neglect to tell you how much money they make from that sale: an average of forty-one cents per gallon. And that’s without any of the overhead that the big, eeevilll oil companies incur in bringing that product to you.

So, pardon me once again. I fail to grasp why this is even being considered.

I can do some educated guessing, though. I can recall a time when we had enough money for what’s now called “infrastructure maintenance.” Of course, that was before the era of big public sector unions and their leech-like effect upon taxpayers. Where once we didn’t have the financial burden of paying outrageous union benefits with our tax monies, increasingly we’re seeing the decidedly negative impact of these union contracts as our roads and bridges fall into disrepair because of the sky-high benefits that the unions have extracted from the pockets of taxpayers. We used to pay taxes for road repair, but now all that money is going to fund lavish lifestyles for union members.

And I seem to recall all of the Stimulus money that was promised to trickle down to the local level in the form of infrastructure spending to do what used to be done with transportation tax money. Funny, I haven’t seen one new road or bridge being built, or even a road being repaved with any of that $800B dollars I was told about, have you?

I can also guess that someone in a cubicle somewhere in the bowels of the Transportation Department crunched the numbers on the reduced amount of tax revenue the government would realize as a result of encouraging us to purchase more fuel-efficient vehicles and use public transportation and other modes of getting around.

So, why not just raise the gas tax? Why go through the trouble and expense of outfitting every vehicle in the US with a GPS device to track our driving habits? I wonder who would benefit from the contract for such an expensive undertaking. GE maybe? Or another of Obama’s corporate cronies with strong union ties? The public-sector unions who would doubtless people the new departments(s) required for this massive new program and their Democrat supporters?

Regardless of who benefits, this is an idea that should be squashed right now. There is no compelling need for this at all. Our travels are our private business and no one else’s. And we're taxed enough already.

This administration just might find a bit of resistance to this program.

Just a bit.