Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Inflation, Interest, British Isles Prices

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: Ben Bernanke, Confused as Ever, Starts His Own Blog to Prove It:

If you follow the link, Ben  Bernanke started a blog and one of his first posts was "Why are interest rates so low?" Mike "Mish" Shedlock is an investment guy that was relatively on top of the housing bubble and made money off it -- Bernanke isn't all that clear in his column, Mish disagrees with most of what he has to say, but isn't super clear either. My view is that when you are talking a $17T US economy, heavily intertwined with a $73T world economy, there is plenty of room for everyone, expert or not, to be confused, wrong, etc -- Mooses most of all!

The "simple Moose baseline" is that money is a "good" ... mostly like any other good; grain, oil, beer, ZZ Top tickets, etc. It happens to be the good that we all exchange, invest, etc to live, and it has a few "brands" -- dollars, euros and pounds were the brands that I spent some time with the past couple weeks. Interest is what we pay for money on the market -- and right now, we are paying historically low rates. (and of course also receiving historically low rates if we have some money to lend)

I found the key statement in the Bernanke post to be:
Except in the short run, real interest rates are determined by a wide range of economic factors, including prospects for economic growth—not by the Fed.
I think he is maybe being a little overly honest there -- global economic conditions and government polices have interacted to do a couple of things -- first, to make investment, savings, work and general productivity less likely to net good returns. We are in the age of consumption, not production, with vast amounts of that consumption being done by governments or people receiving payments in one form or another from governments (FICA, medicare, earned income credits, welfare, subsidies, grants, etc, etc). Second, the costs and risks of investment, savings, work and productivity are at very high levels -- taxes of all sorts, regulation, mandates like BOcare, PLUS the trend is clearly toward ever greater and ever more unpredictable risk on all those fronts -- more taxes, more regulation, unpredictably and capriciously applied often with no more than an executive decree.

Government has also been lowering the value of the money commodity by printing more of it here and in Europe, while at the same time raising both the costs and risks of production -- so the demand for money is LOW -- or in common terms, interest rates are low.

Business always deals with unpredictability. Government likes to lie to everyone that it deals in security and "certainty" (whatever that is), but it is in fact the biggest bubble of all -- it claims to be "too big to fail". In my personal dictionary, under "too big too fail", it says "see Brontosaurus"!

But what of inflation? We are told that it is also very low, yet anyone going out to eat, buying food, looking at what it costs to just live in your home, or doing much of anything KNOWS that they are being lied to -- that is unless you are being subsidized by the government, which slightly over 50% of the population now are.

The government keeps the inflation books, and like all their books, they cook them -- the fact of interest being low is part of the "low inflation" calculation (the "market basket" assumes you are a borrower) ... the fact that housing prices are still well below their bubble high also artificially depresses the inflation number -- homes are "down" relative to the bubble numbers. It is my understanding that the cost of taxes doesn't get factored in at least directly -- I'm not an expert, something I need to look into more.

My personal observation from the trip is that inflation in many areas is relatively INSANE, especially when one considers that we were getting a BETTER dollar - pound and dollar - euro exchange rate than what has been had in a good long while.

A 30 min train ride each way from Gatwick to London was $50! The one day tube pass was $25! Most all the "attractions" -- Stonehenge, Chartwell, Churchill's WWII bunker, were $30 per person. What's more, items that were formerly not charged for -- like Winchester Cathedral,  not charged for in '89 when I was last in London (yes, I know, a LONG time ago!) are now also $30+.

The other factor that I noted was that I get a lot more tired traipsing around the "square mile" now than I did nearly 30 years ago! Age seems to take a bit of a penalty on physical assets!

My suspicion on public transportation is that it is yet another form of socialist transfer payment -- while we just went out to the rail site and looked for fares, I bet if you live in the UK you can plug in your income, buy a long term pass and pay a much reduced rate. The concept is an old one -- tax the productive at high rates to build the system, and then "tax" the productive again with high fares if they want to use the system -- the socialist ideal of no good (productive) deed going unpunished!

While I had a lot of fun on the trip, it is VERY good to be home where the 4-lanes don't have curbs right at the edge of the lane and the rest of the roads have SOME form of buffer better than often having a rock wall 6" from the edge of the narrow lane. Not to mention hotel rooms the size of modern ladies closets in the US, and everything just packed in like sardines. Europe is a great place to visit, but it is EASY to see why so many people left!











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Monday, March 30, 2015

Coke, Bud, Jack, KFC

Some observations from Ireland and England -- may be applicable to the continent as well, dunno. It is just an observation ... nothing meaningful.

Coke is everywhere, Pepsi is pretty much MIA.

Every Pub has Bud ON TAP! **AND** people sit in Irish Pubs with Guinness, Murphy's, Beamish, etc and drink BUD! They also have Heineken in every Pub we saw ... so two taps pretty much down with beer that I don't want to drink when I'm across the pond. Fortunately, many places have a good number of taps, and the Guinness there is heavenly -- positively creamy, and the US Tenders really need to learn to put a shamrock in the foam!

Oh, I do drink Bud in IA when the choices are Bud Lite,  Coors Lite, Bush Lite, Miller Lite and Nite  Lite  ... or Bud!

And JACK! Every pub had Jack Daniels -- and sometimes Makers Mark and usually Canadian Club -- which was enough for me to look up the list -- Jack, Johnnie Walker, Jameson, Canadian Club (that explains it!) ... interestingly, Ballantines, Japanese brands I'd never heard of, plus Jim Beam (expected it to be higher on list) as well as Crown and Black Velvet appear in top 10.

McDonalds is there of course -- isn't it everywhere? But I was shocked by the prevalence of KFC -- both in Ireland and England. Apparently the folks on the isles find it finger lickin good!

Oh, and at the Jamison distillery, Marla, who just isn't into even triple distilled ultra smooth whiskey neat, went for the Jamison, Ginger Ale and a lime twist ... Now THAT could get a person into trouble! Smooth Jamison with it's little appleish-citrus tang accentuated by the lime, plus the Ginger Ale light ginger sweetness ... very nice! But possibly a little TOO subtle!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Germanwings 9525, Technology, Incrementalism, Trust

Germanwings 9525, Technology, and the Question of Trust - The New Yorker:

This article jumps a bridge too far relative to safeguards on aircraft. The plane doesn't need to COMPLETELY fly itself, it just needs to add more "self preservation" ... which the fly by wire craft like the Airbus already have -- as do most cars now. Rev limiters, lock-outs to prevent shifts to reverse,  not starting in gear, etc. My Gold Wing won't stay running in gear with the kickstand down, thus preventing driving off and being up-ended by turning with it down.

Current planes limit the ability to pull up too fast on takeoff, fly over-speed, damage the engines, etc  -- all these elements have good and bad points. A fairly recent slide off a runway was caused when a plane had not settled enough on the gear to allow the thrust reversers to be used. There was a way to override that, but they could not find that switch fast enough.

There are ZERO systems that are "foolproof", "suicide proof" or will not have unintended side-effects as the hardened cockpit door added as a result of 9-11 did in this case. The systems analysts game is a game of odds -- prevent the big failure, weed out anything "common". First do no harm.

Current nav information DEFINITELY allows the planes systems to know where it is relative to ground and where airports are at. There is really not much of an excuse for an autopilot to accept a command to fly the plane into terrain. Such a command ought to require two pilots to type in an override code at a minimum if it is even allowed -- I fail to see a scenario where flying a jet into terrain is "the best alternative available".  It damned well better be in a landing configuration --  below 150mph, flaps deployed, etc, etc before the automation lets it get to say "1000 AGL" (Above Ground Level)

Our technology is not ready to allow commercial planes to go fly routes on their own, but it is clearly at the level where a plane ought not to allow a pilot to destroy it without putting up a very good  battle!  Certainly there need to be overrides and ways to "shut off most of the automation" -- because ALL systems can fail, but those overrides can be 2 man decision points.

Some of the more thoughtful may be saying, "Yes but, what if the other pilot is incapacitated" ... etc, etc. Again, this is about ODDS -- what are the ODDS that you not only need to disable all the automation, but ALSO the other pilot is incapacitated? Even that is possible to get around -- perhaps a flight attendant has a third code to cover that eventuality. I'm not doing a full design here -- it just ought not be as easy as it apparently was to allow one pilot to instruct a $70M plane to fly into terrain with a load of passengers.

The choice is NOT "remove the pilots" or just go on with the same risks. There are LOTS of incremental steps that can, and I'd argue ought to have been taken already given EXISTING navigational and programmed automation capabilities to make flying a modern aircraft into off-airport terrain an act that is nigh on impossible to execute.

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"Gone With the Wind", Indiana, History

Indiana Takes On America: Discrimination Against Gays, Religious Freedom And Rewriting The Constitution | Richard Brodsky:
It isn't the least bit "conservative". It is a radical, un-American, reactionary re-writing of our basic freedoms. We had struck a constitutional balance between private religious observance and public commercial activity. Real conservatives would be looking for a way to reasonably accommodate both interests.
Islam and "liberalism" share the concept that "wins" are not reversible. Any territory EVER under Islamic rule is ALWAYS considered under Islamic rule and Jihad against "occupiers" is forever the official Islamic position. If you want to understand the Islamic position on Israel, just study that aspect of Islam for about 10 min and you will understand it.

So too, "liberalism" or "progressivism" -- once the state has expanded its powers to coerce behavior by force, those liberties may NEVER be regained (without armed conflict).

From a "progressive" view, "gay marriage" was now ALWAYS a "basic right" and nobody can EVER decide that it is against their religious position to take part in such a ceremony. You may think that the concept of a "gay marriage" was so foreign to the writers of our Constitution that they would never have believed such a thing a remote potential -- but if you think that, you are not a "progressive" as defined by this article -- you are a "reactionary" and "un-American" to boot.

TWENTY states have versions of such laws as Indiana -- designed to allow Christian (or Islamic for that matter) photographers, caterers, bakeries, etc the freedom to decline to participate in a gay union ceremony, but Indiana is "too far north", "too populus", or something -- the line must be drawn there.

We know that the cornerstone of the US government is dead  -- LIMITED government is no more. The government can and does tell you what you may and may not do in every way. You could certainly refuse to do something for the NRA, the Koch brothers, Amish people in your community, your local gun club, a church -- nearly anyone except the gay or the black.

America was founded on the idea that YOU the individual had LIBERTY. "Justice" was something that the GOVERNMENT abided by -- it meant things like "equal protection", but that is long gone, invalidated by the "progressive" income tax and many other things since. Justice meant that the laws applied to all, but more important, LIMITED Government meant that law was a hammer to be little used. At our founding, it was coercion of the individual at the point of a gun that was "un-American".

The country that the column writer talks about is not America in any definition that would be recognized for the first 100+ years of our history, and little recognized for the first 200. There is no longer an "America" because there is no effective Constitution -- laws, government and court actions now violate the Constitution constantly, even in the tattered sense that it still held some sway up to 1950 or so. We were a nation of laws not of men -- or of territory. America was embodied in the now dead Constitution.

To the column writer, there are no powers "reserved to the States and the People" -- the Federal government is the sovereign, and "whatever some voting block big enough can get" is the law of the land. Mob rule, what the Constitutional Republic was founded to prevent.

All gone now -- the vast majority of the people no longer understand either of the twin perils of Leviathan -- unlimited government, nor the tyranny of mob rule. We now live under an unlimited mob tyranny. Liberty is dead. "Gone With the Wind" -- as the old South, now America.

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Ireland and England, Sunday Jet Lag Edition

I slept in until 10am, Ireland time mostly -- woke up at 2AM local time but got back to sleep until 5Am local. We left the hotel at 4am Dublin time yesterday, Saturday the 28th and landed in Minneapolis at 2pm CDT. Kept going until 8 Rochester time, or 1am Dublin time, which is what the biological and real "hours awake clock" was running on -- 17 hours up with a little nap on the plane.

I'll post the trip up in snippets and blurbs -- little recovery time, ZZ Top concert in La Crosse Tuesday, Holy Week. One thing about coming home after travelling than was different than the IBM career -- no massive set of email to go through with a bunch of new problems and the same ones that were there before to deal with. No post vacation letdown! Which is a really nice thing.

We were blessed with exceedingly trouble free travel. The trip over to Paris 3/18 on  Delta flt 171 using an Airbus 330 was way better than standard Moose over the pond travel -- the seats, spacing and positioning of the headrests give the impression of more space than the 767 we flew back on, plus with a prompt takeoff and nice tailwind it was short of 8 hours to Paris and over 9 back. The City Jet high wing Avro RJ to and from Dublin was a really nasty small fit seating -- although with some decent headroom for a small jet. Made for LONG two hour flights.

The highlights of the trip -- Cliffs of Moher. MUCH thanks to niece Jonna for introducing us to this wonder of Irish beauty. Had never heard of them ... could walk around and just sit at a few spots for days and ponder the heights, the sound of the waves far below, the views of the vast Atlantic with the Aran islands in the foreground. Simply stunning.


The Dingle peninsula -- who knew Ireland had mountains! It would be another good place to spend a number of days or even a week just soaking up the scenery and the local pubs.





Chartwell! My Churchill worship continues -- the man had REALLY great ponds and water features! I've been to a number of "estate / residences", but this was really a very LIVEABLE place as well as suitable for entertaining the greats of the world. No pictures allowed inside -- the dining room, where Churchill held court would have been STUNNING to dine in with three sides of windows looking out on the the incredible grounds. Standing in the study where he wrote and rehearsed many of his most memorable speeches and did all his writing was a wonderful connection to history.

video


NYTs, Green Bay Paper for the Clintons

To Avert Repeat of 2008, Clinton Team Hopes to Keep Bill at His Best - NYTimes.com:



Listening to NPR or reading the NY Times on political issues is reminiscent of reading the Green Bay Gazette or the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel without the honesty. The Gazette and the Journal Sentinel know and freely admit that they are 100% total Packer partisans!



NPR and the NYTs will make no such admissions, so their "reporting" -- better called "cheer leading" or "home team kibitzing" sometimes seems surrealistic to someone that has a tiny bit of objectivity left in the brain. The Packer papers are even well aware that although the Pack is their team and they LOVE them, the Pack will not win every game, and in fact a competitive NFL is actually really important for the game of football.



For NPR and the NYTs, there is no such understanding. They no longer believe that the competitive give and take of a competitive market of ideas is actually critical to the future of liberty and success in our nation. They want single party 100% Democrat rule with other views and parties being banished to the ash heap of history. In their minds, it is not possible that ANY "reasonably intelligent decent people" could possibly hold any views that diverge from those of THE PARTY (Democrat).



I don't really recommend the linked article unless you are into "inside baseball" (politics) ... it is SO reminiscent of Packer artcles at this time of the year as to who the Pack should draft, weak spots, player development, if the "Pistol" offence ought to be used more, etc, etc ... all of which I find interesting.



The coronation of Hillary and how to best deploy Slick Willie is clearly of A LOT of interest to the NYTs ... I guess I'm weird. If it was not so sad, it would be really funny to contrast the treatment of the left media of Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, etc with this kind of fawning adulation and hopeful strategizing that the Hilly-Beast gets!



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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Winchester, Guinness, Jamison

This is mostly a marker post -- I intend to put some pictures in and edit it after I return.

The general thought though -- the "nugget".

We did Jameson Whiskey in Cork, Guinness Storehouse in Dublin and this evening walked through Winchester Cathedral.

When I was over here in '89 -- first time across the pond, major business trip, excitement, anxiety, jet lag and a lot of other things. I woke up early and went over to the cathedral at like 6:30 AM and was completely awed by the size and the scope in time. Winchester was finished in 1093 and contains bones brought over from the old abbey -- built around 600. It puts me in my place -- tiny, a speck in space and time next to the majesty of God.

While I very much enjoyed our tours of Jameson and Guinness, it is hard to go through them and not say; REALLY??? You have GOT to be KIDDING!!!

The canonization of John Jameson and Arthur Guinness is along the lines of "forget Plato, Greece, Rome, Christ, Da Vinci, Newton ... or whatever name one wants to insert, it is the IRISH on which the "spirit" of Western Civilization rests in the form of Guinness and Jameson and the heroics of their founders!

I'm afraid that when one stands in Winchester Cathedral the soul feels just a wee bit more than even walking through the hall with 1000 private oak casks of Jameson, or standing in the largest Guinness pint in the world! There are actual foundations of Western Civilization, and then there are products -- certainly well crafted products with great traditions that can bring a lot of pleasure to millions, but still products. Consumables.

The pillars are BIG!



One other little point to ponder -- The Rock of Cashel is great to visit, but it is a RUIN -- it dates from just a little LATER than Winchester, yet all the old stuff is purely a ruin.

The simple, no doubt flawed, but still worthy of some thought point is "winning is better than losing". Were the Brits "bad" -- certainly they were at least sometimes, but building a giant empire was also not "easy", took some motivation and gained long lasting rewards for the nation.

Fail to "win" and priceless things like Winchester Cathedral fall in and are piles of rubble with maybe a few walls still standing rather than what you see if you go to the link, or better yet come here. There **IS** a difference!


Sunday, March 22, 2015

BO Mandatory Voting

Obama calls for mandatory voting in U.S. - Washington Times:

Here we see a solid piece of left leaning thought. First, if an idea is viewed as "good" from the left it MUST be MANDATORY at least eventually!

Second, consistency is not an issue. To the "small minded", mandatory voting would mean that there would have to be a voters list and names would be checked off. Such a thing would seem to come dangerously close to voter ID, but we know that Dems HATE ID and regularly call it "voter suppression".
“It would be transformative if everybody voted,” Mr. Obama said during a town-hall event in Cleveland. “That would counteract [campaign] money more than anything. If everybody voted, then it would completely change the political map in this country.”
We know what BO hates about the political map -- other than major urban areas, it is almost entirely red. BO also makes a not so subtle point in that utterance -- the government isn't a "special interest" in his mind. This is one of the major subterfuges of the left. The government always growing, always spending on groups in efforts to gain their votes and working hand in glove with AFSCME, the largest union is NOT a "special interest". As the government flirts with being 40% of the economy and is already the largest employer, the left wants you to see this behemoth as having "no interests". 

One of the problems with many conservatives is a lack of imagination at least about the political machinations of the left. I'm quite certain that Dems and BO would be quite happy to come up with a system where their voters were herded to the polls, allowed online voting, or maybe "straight party automatic voting" where you indicated your party and your vote automatically counted for that party until you changed it -- like "auto pay" for voting or other "innovation". 

No doubt, random people showing up at the polls, or "over votes" where over 100% of the voters vote (a condition that happens in a few heavily D areas every presidential election now) would be fine -- how could such a thing be "biased", right?

When Democrats have "a good idea", it must be mandatory, subsidized, etc -- if there is something they don't like it must be illegal, fined, taxed, etc. They believe in CONTROL! 

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BO Mandatory Voting

Obama calls for mandatory voting in U.S. - Washington Times:



Here we see a solid piece of left leaning thought. First, if an idea is viewed as "good" from the left it MUST be MANDATORY at least eventually!



Second, consistency is not an issue. To the "small minded", mandatory voting would mean that there would have to be a voters list and names would be checked off. Such a thing would seem to come dangerously close to voter ID, but we know that Dems HATE ID and regularly call it "voter suppression".



“It would be transformative if everybody voted,” Mr. Obama said during a town-hall event in Cleveland. “That would counteract [campaign] money more than anything. If everybody voted, then it would completely change the political map in this country.”
We know what BO hates about the political map -- other than major urban areas, it is almost entirely red. BO also makes a not so subtle point in that utterance -- the government isn't a "special interest" in his mind. This is one of the major subterfuges of the left. The government always growing, always spending on groups in efforts to gain their votes and working hand in glove with AFSCME, the largest union is NOT a "special interest". As the government flirts with being 40% of the economy and is already the largest employer, the left wants you to see this behemoth as having "no interests". 



One of the problems with many conservatives is a lack of imagination at least about the political machinations of the left. I'm quite certain that Dems and BO would be quite happy to come up with a system where their voters were herded to the polls, allowed online voting, or maybe "straight party automatic voting" where you indicated your party and your vote automatically counted for that party until you changed it -- like "auto pay" for voting or other "innovation". 



No doubt, random people showing up at the polls, or "over votes" where over 100% of the voters vote (a condition that happens in a few heavily D areas every presidential election now) would be fine -- how could such a thing be "biased", right?


When Democrats have "a good idea", it must be mandatory, subsidized, etc -- if there is something they don't like it must be illegal, fined, taxed, etc. They believe in CONTROL! 



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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bibi Beats BO!

Israeli Bonds Rise With Stocks as Netanyahu Wins Election - Bloomberg Business:



BO isn't a big fan of Israel -- he has made it pretty clear who "his people" are and aren't, and Jews don't make the cut. It would be impossible to sit in Rev Wright's church for 20 years if they were.



The Democrats had some of their big guns over there trying to beat Bibi -- oh, you heard they said that they "didn't want to influence the election in Israel"?  What part of don't believe anything they say have you missed? What they MEANT was they didn't want to influence the election in Bibi's favor!



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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Courageous Liberal Closes the Books on Ferguson

‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ was built on a lie - The Washington Post:

This is rare and it needs to be applauded -- certainly the author, Jonathan Capehart, a BLACK reporter for the WaPo, but also the Post itself. Saying nothing would be easier and would better serve the liberal and minority narrative. If this kind of reporting could become standard, the TRUTH would be well served, and in my view, that would serve us all!

 MOST of the left will allow the bottom line of the Ferguson case to remain murky at best, and to lend support to the idea that Brown was "murdered", saying things like "the report shows endemic racism in the Ferguson force" ... and letting people believe that therefore the lack of prosecution of Officer Wilson was likely racially motivated as well.

I'm willing to accept the indictment of the Ferguson local government and police force as this column also points to as valid -- it doesn't take a lot to convince me of government malfeasance, local, state or national. I'd like to think that the report would give liberals a little pause as to their near religious faith in government. We shall see.

What this column does though is do a VERY detailed coverage of the report on the actual shooting -- the one that the MSM is generally not covering at all that shows clearly that the whole idea of "Hands up, don't shoot" was a complete and total lie. If you need to be convinced, there is a lot of good discussion of the impact of actual forensic evidence and what looks to be excellent work done by the DoJ under Eric Holder -- again, to be applauded. Holder is FAR from a personal favorite of mine, but it appears that in this case, even no doubt under some pressure to come up with SOMETHING to support the "shot in the back, hands up" narrative, he was at least willing to let his organization base the outcome on the facts.
The DOJ report notes on page 44 that Johnson “made multiple statements to the media immediately following the incident that spawned the popular narrative that Wilson shot Brown execution-style as he held up his hands in surrender.” In one of those interviews, Johnson told MSNBC that Brown was shot in the back by Wilson. It was then that Johnson said Brown stopped, turned around with his hands up and said, “I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!” And, like that, “hands up, don’t shoot” became the mantra of a movement. But it was wrong, built on a lie.
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Baseball Vs Beanbag

The Party of the Furrowed Brow | The Weekly Standard:

An excellent column, well worth the read. The overarching message is that conservatives tend to play very very nice -- they know the rules and like them, they assume they will always be in the minority, they have lots of other things they would rather do than play political games.
If brow-furrowing were thinking, the Republican establishment would be geniuses. If hand-wringing were prudence, GOP politicians would be exemplars of Aristotelian virtue. If tongue-clucking were eloquence, conservative elites would be orators for the ages. 
But of course Trey Gowdy, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Tom Cotton have done more for conservative principles and Republican prospects in the last few weeks than the brow-furrowers, hand-wringers, and tongue-cluckers have done in years.
Conservatives DON'T always lose -- Burke beat back the sentiments of the French Revolution that threatened to catch fire in England. The US Revolution was essentially a conservative revolution. The Victorian Era in England was a return to conservative values. Reagan won, the USSR fell -- conservatives can and do win, though usually quite nicely and by the rules.

The left on the other hand has a long history of "off with their heads" in the French Revolution, lots of blood as the Bolsheviks and Maoists rose to power, buildings blowing up burning as riots consumed the streets here in the late '60s here. The left doesn't much like rules and they are not concerned about "breaking a few eggs" (or skulls) to achieve what they see as their morally superior vision.
As a great American writer put it, “Politics ain’t bean-bag.” Republicans and conservatives spend an awful lot of time playing endless variations and ingenious permutations of bean-bag. But it’s baseball, not bean-bag, that is the American game. It should of course be played cleanly and forthrightly, and according to the rules. But baseball is hardball. So is politics. Maybe it’s time to stop fussing and fretting long enough to learn how to play it.
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A Conflict of Visions, Thomas Sowell

Link to book on Amazon.

This is at least my second reading of this favorite book, my first review is covered here.

My first review is pretty good I think, so just go read it if you are a conservative, if not, read this first.

The first reviews biggest failing is that I TOTALLY fail to accomplish in the review what Sowell does so very well in the book -- my bias for the constrained vision is obvious. Sowell is not only BRILLIANT (and happens to be black), but how well he is able to avoid showing his (also constrained) bias is a thing of beauty.

The "Visions" are quite simple once one starts looking at them, but remarkably powerful in how they affect how the world is viewed. They are pretty much the same as "worldview", the largely pre-conscious lens through which we see the world.

For those of you that are more video than reading oriented, here is Sowell himself discussing the work. In my view, Dr Sowell is the greatest living mind on understanding and explaining Political and Economic issues.

***Note: While the video is interesting and covers some things from the book, you should NOT get the idea that Sowell in the book is like Sowell on the video relative to which Vision is his !!! In some ways, reading the book after watching the video might give one greater hope in potential ability to rise above our biases that is likely unwarranted in people less brilliant than Sowell ... about 99% of us!






Monday, March 16, 2015

The Clinton Mob Reunion Movie!

Its Hillary All the Way Down:

The only reason I post this is because Jonah had EXACTLY the same thought as I did when the Hillary scandal management vermin started wriggling out of the slime and ooze. Lanny Davis, Carville, David Brock ... I swear I heard something from Paul Begala as well, though I hear he is off in Israel trying to defeat Netanyahu -- we know how much the Democrats and media are aghast at any potential meddling in foreign elections!

I like what Jonah has done with the concept -- "the reunion movie", "getting the old gang back together again" -- It shows up often in film. Space Cowboys, even "The Unforgiven" -- what were the old Clinton cronies, henchmen and fixers doing when the call came that their services were required once more, and do they still have "the right (in this case, wrong, or at least nasty) stuff?".

I'm pretty certain the Clinton gang is more like "The Godfather" or "The Sopranos" -- in order to play, they have to have a 100% dead to rights major league Felony on you, so they KNOW that you are "their kind of people" and they can "trust" you in the only sense that counts for such an organization.

There used to be a bunch of lists of all the people that had died "unexpectedly" around the Clintons over the years -- Vince Foster and Ron Brown were just the famous ones. I'm certain the vast bulk of those were "just accidents", but there were plenty of opportunities for soulless henchmen like "Commander Cue Ball" Carvelle" to solve a nasty problem and prove that he has what it takes to  be inside the Clinton cesspool.

The Goldberg piece is pretty entertaining for the most part. I've been sick of the Clinton Mob for 20 years at least -- the fact that there are ANY people that would be willing to even CONSIDER an evil hag like Hilly for any role where we have to see her shows that taste is one of the things that quickly departs in a nation in decline!

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Working Hard Doesn't Work

Middle-Class Betrayal? Why Working Hard Is No Longer Enough in America - NBC News.com:

Anyone that grew up on a small dairy farm knew LONG ago that working VERY hard has NEVER been a guarantee of any sort of life -- even being able to keep the farm, as many small dairies went bust and have been superseded by multi-thousand cow mega automated farms.

Choosing to be a librarian as this young woman did was also never the road to riches, and with the advent of computers and the internet, it has the kind of flavor of becoming a blacksmith as the auto catches on. People have always needed to pay attention to what was happening around them as they selected a career at which to work.

All that aside, the tone and many of the facts of the article are true for our time -- MUCH as many articles were in the late '70s and early '80s, the last time we were in a long term "malaise".

At some point, we will have to compete again in the world. People will stop saying things like "Well, you can't compete with Chinese slave labor wages making a $1 a day" (or some other suitably small number). No, we ARE competing -- with China, India, Brazil, etc, etc -- we are just competing badly, which is known as LOSING.

Back in the '30s we made a determination -- as Europe did as well, that it was possible for a nation to provide a "safety net" of increasing capability that was available to ALL, independent of their earnings. Today, our labor participation is the lowest in non-depression history, our Federal debt is over $18T and rising, and that "safety net" for the elderly at least is an unfunded liability (meaning a promise to pay with no cash or assets to back it up) of $60T or so as of 2030.

Those of us lucky enough to have worked hard in a reasonably lucrative career and even saved money find themselves between a risk rock and a tax hard place. Pull a little too much money out of our accounts full of stocks and other financial instruments, supposedly safer, but still paper, and we get a big AMT tax surprise. ... That particular problem is a little too personal ;-(

Economic collapse is natures way of settling the books when poor assumptions are made about the way things work. As the Bible says in Thessalonians: 'For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either."

There is nothing any more profound in that statement in the long run than "What goes up must come down". Create a system in which people believe that work is optional, and to some degree even worse, lose the drive to invent, create and risk in search of new sorts of  riches and lifestyles beyond the imagination of most, and the end is certain. We will come down. 

There is no certain positive outcome from innovation, risk and hard work, BUT, there is a certain outcome from playing it safe, sloth, and looting those that continue to work hard. 

I believe all of us understand this in our souls -- Gordon Gekko was wrong in the movie" Wall Street" when he said that "Greed is good". It isn't, it is a deadly sin, but it is better than Envy -- also a deadly sin. Greed is an active sin, it can provide drive. Lust is often bad -- but again, it is active, it is better than apathy which drives nothing at all. 

To be human is to be imperfect. Inequality of outcome is imperfect -- but so definitely is human administered EQUALITY of outcome, because it has MANY costs, not the least of which is taking resources by force from those who earned them and passing them to others that did not. In doing so, all are corrupted -- those that take, those that receive, and those from whom their earnings are taken. 

Working hard was never a guarantee, but as we have increasingly focused a lot of our "working hard" on the corruption of our system, it increasingly fails. We all fail. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Great Men And Monsters

A Monster of Our Own:

The linked article focuses on Hillary, but she is really just an example. All of us at least to some minor degree wrestle with "What is it all for?". Williamson does an excellent job of covering some of the more (in)famous examples of characters wrestling (badly) with such questions ... Faust, the Marquis de Sade, Nixon -- rather an odd juxtaposition, but he weaves them in an interesting and thought provoking way. He makes the point that "politics" is just another human false god, an idol that breaks the First Commandment. 

When Christ summarized the commandments he said “'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

He knew that for fallen man, such was impossible -- and even his word  on the subject contains a paradox. **IF** one could TRULY only love God with our ALL -- the heart, the soul and the mind, then what would it mean to "love our self"? --  because we ought love our neighbor in the same way.

As we look to ourselves, and to current and past characters, both real and imagined, much of their and our efforts can somewhat be summarized as "efforts to forget our self". Certainly the addictions mentioned in the column -- drugs, alcohol, politics, power, adulation, are all significantly driven by a drive for something like the search for an escape from "plain old us". Typically beginning with an idea of "how we will feel if / when / etc" some event, some goal attained, some ingested substance, some pleasure, some reward -- SOMETHING, alters our state. Even religion itself -- and I think here of the "born again experience", can for some be or at least be seen as an "altered state".

It brings to mind Nimoy's last tweet;  "A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP" (Live Long and Prosper)

When reflecting on his life, Churchill found the greatest moments to be in 1940 -- when the situation was the most grim for England and he was the indispensable man. He had a strong sense of "destiny", yet not a strong sense of God. His faith seemed to be in himself and the ultimate victory of the English people and he regularly talked of his "mission" as being to give voice to the English people -- and he also sometimes referred to them as "the English race".

It is very hard to reflect on "monsters" of history without considering Winston's adversary Hitler. Hitler also thought he was a reflection of the "German race" and likewise was a speaker that millions were captured and motivated by. The difference in my mind boils down to Hitler's demand that the German people (and himself) RULE -- to the exclusion and even deaths of other people, especially of course the Jews.

Churchill definitely saw the English people and their empire as "special", and instruments of good in history. He certainly also saw himself as "a great man" -- humility was not his strong suit! Yet, nearly nobody thinks of Churchill as a "monster".  I'd argue that Reagan is much the same -- an also "great man", who similarly won his battle with "the evil empire".

It's very hard for me to imagine what anyone sees in a Hillary, or an Obama for that matter. What is it that is their "vision" for anyone but themselves? An easier and less challenging life for "average Americans"? Political hegemony for the Democrat party and a final resounding "victory" of single party rule for America? Some sort of ill defined "world government" where no "dominant powers" exist anymore and we may as well all aspire to be Kenya, or Venezuela, or any old "unknownistan" ?

I can't tell -- it seems clear that BO and Hillary both hate "Republicans", or "conservatives", "bitter clingers", or "the vast right wing conspiracy", but other than that, is it really only that they care about adding "president" to their resume? Sure it is still a significant title, but unless it comes with something that really makes a difference in history, is it THAT much different from any other "perfect moment"?

Perhaps that is the real unease that certainly a few more are starting to feel as Hillary dissembles and gives us the basic "what does it matter now?" sense of "I'm inevitable, live with it" sort of pitch.

While the column caused neurons to fire, I'm not sure at all that Hillary, or BO for that matter comes even close to having her name uttered among the "monsters", and certainly not among the "great men of history".

America and Western Civilization is in obvious decline. The Bear and the Dragon, both historical opportunists are rising, along with the crescent and the sword in the Middle East. For the tide to be turned, the West will have to be ABOUT SOMETHING other than "care of the elderly and an equitable distribution of whatever we can beg and borrow".

We are in need of a "Great Man", which always carries with it the danger of a "Monster". I don't see Hillary as anything other than another caretaker on our way to the dustbin of history if we are foolish enough to choose her.

Nationally and personally, we need to get outside ourselves. Ideally, to a Christian, that means putting God first, but to all, it means that we have to find SOMETHING to love about ourselves and our nation beyond comfort, income equality and obsessive worry about the climate.

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Left vs Right, 47 and Servers, Worldview

G.O.P. Letter by Republican Senators Is Evidence of ‘Decline,’ Iranian Says - NYTimes.com:

The past few weeks a number of issues have yet again fanned the flames between those that see the world from the left hand and those that see it from the right. The 47 Senators Letter and Hillary's e-mail server getting the most attention, but shootings in Ferguson,  Walker being asked to comment on BO's Christianity, the ongoing "Global Warming" are also present. The animosity and sometimes downright hatred and craziness is always burning between Americans on the left and right, and it seems more often to be blazing of late again.

I'm about 1/2 through a re-read of "A Conflict of Visions"(Thomas Sowell), my favorite book on the topic, and about 3/4 way through "Suicide of the West" -- a good summary of "liberalism" and it's effects circa 1964. No doubt I'll comment more on both to come. Anytime I take up this topic, I also like to mention "The Righteous Mind".

When we are faced with issues like the 47 Senator letter or Hillary's e-mails, we see how profoundly our world views vary between husband/wife, family members, friends, etc. We see the "facts" in TOTALLY different ways, and most of us are at a loss to understand WHY?? We ask; "How can "they" possibly see the same things so differently???"

The core reason boils down to "Worldview" -- the filter / colored glasses / model that we see the world through. It is to some degree wired into our brains (as Haidt covers),  and largely developed through a life of family, education,  church, reading, thinking, etc (also in opposition to those inputs) The facts of the variance in the worldview are well documented by Sowell in "Visions".

To grossly simplify the two world views in the US today, we have:
  1. "Liberal" -- The dominant US view. Most of the media, education, etc. Democrat. "Man is born free but is everywhere in chains "(Rousseau) Tradition is suspect, often considered wrong. People are born as good. Education, laws, government, experts, etc can solve any problem. RIGHTS, Change, Justice are big liberal words.
  2. "Conservative" -- “Prudence is not only the first in rank of the virtues political and moral, but she is the director and regulator, the standard of them all.”(Burke) The opposition, Republican. Man is born sinful, "redemption" is required, normally by religion, in addition, self control,  rewards and punishments (sanctions) and lots of individual work are needed. Responsibility, Tradition, Freedom are big words. 
These positions should be seen on a "range" -- nobody is entirely in one camp or the other, and there have and always will be disagreements between them. But why so vehement now? 

Up until the 20th century, and even through at least the 60's, Americans had a couple big elements of a SHARED worldview -- heavily built around Christianity and the Constitution. People could disagree on many things, but over 90% mostly agreed that both Christianity and the Constitution were "sacred" -- they were "above the fray".  "All decent people" could agree on the "basic tenets" ... God as creator, Christ as Savior, Separation of Powers, Limits on Federal Government, etc.

We are far more divided by worldview now than ever before in our history. Even during the Civil War, we were divided on the ISSUE of Slavery, but reverence for Christianity and the Constitution was much more generally present in the country that in is now. 

But we no longer have those points of agreement. The Constitution may state that an agreement with a foreign power has to be ratified by the Senate to be binding, but there are a lot of people that don't care and are completely angered when it is brought up. One might point to MANY times that congressmen and senators ACTUALLY "negotiated with a foreign power" rather than sent a letter quoting the facts of the Constitution. It makes no difference. "They have a right to their own OPINION" ... and as even the NYTs has discovered, pretty much anything but 2+2 is just "opinion" these days, and in the absence of a higher standard, "all opinions are valid".

John Adams called the situation perfectly when he said:
"Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other,".   Indeed. 

In order to hold truths to be "self evident" and consider man as "endowed by his creator with unalienable rights",  a people MUST believe in a "creator" and that there is such a thing as "truth". Take the sacred away,  thus making "man the measure of all things" and we are reduced to that measure being the ballot box or the bullet. We are left with no common worldview on which "all decent people" agree and can therefore discuss things rationally from a shared perspective. 

What we have are increasingly divergent world views that can be "settled" only temporarily and intermittently at the ballot box, but increasingly are UNsettled with unrest up to and including violence as we have just seen in Ferguson, and earlier in NYC with the two police being murdered. 

As we ignore the Constitution, even elections become meaningless -- an executive and decree that immigrants are legal, the Internet must be regulated, agreements are treaties, or effectively ANYTHING since he is no longer bound by an oath to uphold that once sacred document. When one party decides that the only thing sacred is political power, then there is no remaining foundation on which to base a country. 

So as tribes prior to the recognition of one God above all, and the subsequent march from Christ though the rise of Western Civilization, we fight. We fight "as the flies of summer" (Burke) -- alienated from God, our own history, and morality beyond "our side must win"!  For the present,  we go on feeding on the carcass of the once great civilization we were bequeathed, but with little remaining understanding of the founding principles needed for it's continued operation.


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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Motorcycle Addiction

Tuesday I took communion to a shut-in lady from church that rather likes the idea of her Elder showing up on a motorcycle. It was a really nice day and I hadn't had the Wing out yet, so I thought I'd give her one more sign of spring.

After the visit I decided I needed to take it down Circle Drive and open it up a wee bit (condensation, carbon and all you know), then somehow I turned right and the next thing was out by Oxbow park, then Pine Island. At which point I realized that I needed to head home for dinner lest I be a negligent House-moose. Cruising southward on 52 with my feet out on the pegs and classic rock on the speakers it occurred to me that "addiction" is a good description.

We have all seen the questions about alcohol at the Doctors office or relative to some problem with a friend or even ourselves. "Do you ever drink more than you planned to" was the question banging around my spring bike fevered brain. I didn't really intend to go for more than a short spin  -- and of course given riding a Wing, I can certainly rationalize that anything under 200mi is "a short spin", but I'm guessing you know what I mean.

One could dig a bit deeper;  "Does drinking affect your life, finances, etc?", "Have people let you know that you are drinking too much?", "Do you spend a lot of time thinking about drinking", "Have you thought you should quit drinking?"

I've clearly got a problem. Two touring bikes is too much. I'm a worry wart -- when I'm NOT getting on one of the bikes or riding it I regularly obsess about the risk. Oh, my standard statement is "I'm 58, if something bad happens I was doing something I loved" -- which is true, but I have a great imagination. I'm very aware it definitely could happen -- and it could be paralysis, brain damage, etc, etc. -- when one is worrying, no need to just stick to the quick end of it all when the years of lingering regret in the nursing home while everyone knowingly shakes their head at your poor risk management choice and your poor long suffering wife burdened because of your self indulgence.

Needless to say though, that isn't the angle my wind in the face, corner leaning, rumble craving, mile destroying, addiction addled brain spends the most time on though. "ONE MORE FIX" is the general refrain -- "I'll give it up someday" ... and I'll be LUCKY! I'll get one more big trip in on the Wing, and then "responsibly" sell that and trade in the Ultra on a new "safe Harley" -- one with linked brakes and ABS. What could be more responsible?

Indeed. There is much truth to "while alive, LIVE!" -- as one ages, the cancer diagnosis, the stroke, the heart attack, the alzheimers and many other things become increasingly common among those of "around our age" in our circle of awareness. Also, like motorcycles on the road when you ride one, you just tend to notice it more.

Both my bikes have now made it out. I got the Ultra out from the lower garage and took it to pick up my newly sharpened chain saw chain -- and took the long road home as well, though not as long as the Wing ride. The Ultra  still makes the figure 8's on the Cul-de-sac feel like cheating next to the Wing.

The topic for the next couple of weeks is Ireland -- but I suspect that motorcycles will be near the top ... although shared with the promise of a granddaughter and the plans to build our lake shed in IA once I return.

Lent .... can I really be a Christian and so often have to pray for forgiveness for again losing sight of the cross? There are definitely times I feel the proper feeling of addiction to Christ, but he certainly understood what it is to be human with "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak"!

Kerry Learns of Disbelief

Secretary of State John Kerry blasts Senate GOP letter to Iran - Nation - The Boston Globe:





Ah yes, "disbelief". The picture of Senators John Kerry and Tom Harken breathlessly preparing to lick the boots of Communist Nicaraguan Dictator Daniel Ortega while Reagan assists the Contras, attempting to overthrow said dictator. Kerry's memory seems to be a "bit faulty" on the "he has never seen anything like this".

It is understandable, his memory, even when something has been "seared" into it, has never been very good. Even the lefty Washington Post can't ignore all his whoppers:

"I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the president of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia. I have that memory which is seared -- seared -- in me."
Small problem, as the WaPo column clearly points out, he was never in Cambodia, not at Christmas, not ever.

One of the features of a compliant biased press is that what 80% of the population hears is the sound of one hand clapping -- Senator's quoting the Constitution from the opposition are "traitors", Senators visiting dictators in direct opposition to US foreign policy are "courageous", "peace loving" or some other positive approbation.

Truth? Ah well, truth -- that is whatever THE PARTY says it is!! ... just read the news.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Culture Lost

The Cost of Relativism - NYTimes.com:

Remember "the culture wars"? In case you missed it, the culture lost".

You remember, our once dominant old culture. Western Culture -- the Judaeo Christian Culture of nearly 2K years. It lost -- first in  Europe, and then in the US. We ought to have had a funeral.

The big battles started in the '60s with drugs, easy divorce and free sex. In the '70s we added the gay element, more drugs, disco, "zipless sex", and more disdain for "the square life" and the idea that people were responsible for their behavior, Nah, anything that goes bad is somebody elses fault -- parents, church, your sex, your sexual preference, discrimination -- you are OK, everyone else, especially society is all screwed up!

Through it all, more abortion, more divorce, more birth control, less religion, less "rules / standards / values / etc".  More "liberation" -- "do your own thing", disdain for "family values" -- and ever louder cries for removal of religion from the public square. Religion HAD to be the PROBLEM!

Now it seems that at least a couple guys at the NYTs have a morality hangover. They woke up in the AM, looked around at all the wreckage and filth that has been wrought by "progressive morality" (a major oxymoron)  and said "what that hell happened"??
Reintroducing norms will require, first, a moral vocabulary. These norms weren’t destroyed because of people with bad values. They were destroyed by a plague of nonjudgmentalism, which refused to assert that one way of behaving was better than another. People got out of the habit of setting standards or understanding how they were set.
Ya think?? Wow, brilliant deduction.

I guess it counts for something though to have seen this obvious development coming for about 50 years. Is there going to be a trend here before somebody just finally kicks our morally decrepit nations ass?

I've covered everything in the Brooks column a number of times. I guess it is good to be right -- although about something this obvious, it is hard to get very excited about it.

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Quoting Constitution Now Treason

Iran slams Tom Cotton letter: ‘Undiplomatic’ - Nick Gass - POLITICO:

Letting a foreign power know what is written in the US Constitution about how treaties are negotiated, ratified, and the result if they are or are not approved, is now considered "treason" by some on the left.

Joe Biden certainly agrees -- he probably plagiarized that opinion from somewhere.

Apparently the "soft liners" in Iran also agree. The definition of a soft liner in Iran has to be kind of interesting -- usually the US is "The Great Satan", perhaps to  a "soft liner" rather than being evil we are just stupid so they would call us "The Great Idiot". Perhaps a "soft liner" just uses a sharp knife when they cut off your head -- those are the kind of people that we ought to listen to!

Being "slammed" by Iran  is something that is highly unusual -- at least this version is just words. The US press hasn't much covered the Iranian war games just held in February which included a new weapon that they used against a simulated aircraft carrier. No doubt that was the "soft liners" assuming that sinking one of our carriers with 5K seamen and airmen aboard would help "educate" the Great Idiot. I mean, we must be thinking the "soft liners" have the upper hand in Iran, right?

So do we show our "intelligence" -- in Iranian and US lefty eyes, by accepting whatever kind of raw deal  a country that explicitly calls us "The Great Satan" and proudly builds and tests new weapons to attack our carriers? Given that they hold war games while the "negotiations" go on, they seem a LOT less concerned about us being "offended" than the folks worried about a letter outlining how our Constitution works relative to treaties.

There is no comparison with a letter simply informing an adversary of the content of constitution and decades of trips/negotiations by TP congressmen and senators to North Vietnam, USSR, Nicaragua, Syria (Nancy Pelosi 2007 ), etc, ... all hailed by the TP media as "constructive", "useful", etc  TP congressmen have a great history of actually usurping the position of R presidents to negotiate -- not sending a letter quoting the Constitution. (TP doesn't care much for the Constitution -- is it supposed to be a state secret now?)

TP likes to blur the definition of "treason" because they are so good at it  -- "Toddy" Kennedy provided a great example.
Kennedy’s message was simple. He proposed an unabashed quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. “The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations,” the memorandum stated. “These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.”
Try to remember that -- TREASON, selling your country out to an enemy for your own personal or PARTY gain.

It is hard for conservatives and patriots to even understand the meaning of THE PARTY for a D -- combine your love of God, Country and Family together and you have a hint of what a committed member feels for THE PARTY!


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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

MSM Goes Straight on Madison Killing

Police kill teen: Why Wisconsin's investigation will be different - CNN.com:

The disclaimer that needs to be made CLEARLY on all these incidents is that if you violently resist arrest you are likely to be shot, tazed or whacked with a billy club, all of which might result in your death. Police are under NO OBLIGATION to engage you in a "fair fight" because you "appear to be unarmed". All of their training is to insure that any physical contact with them by you is avoided. You may or may not have a gun or knife, but they DO have a gun -- if they engage in a "fair fight", you may obtain that gun and turn the tables.

This is a rather amazing column to read about a shooting of an unarmed black teen by a white officer. It is the ONLY article on the topic I see on CNN and on my Google News the Madison shooting isn't listed as an topic.

The funniest part politically is that even though the CNN article praises a WI law passed last April (PRIOR to Fergusson and NYC "Black Lives Matter") it is for some reason mysterious who the Governor of WI that signed that into law is!

I'm guessing that may be in fact be the MAIN reason that this story will go nowhere in the national media -- given that law and the politics of Madison, there could be a positive reflection on Walker, and neither the national MSM or the local far left Mad City MSM would want that! A Chief Executive that signs a positive law on prior to an incident is a significant difference from a President whose most common response to trouble is "I just heard that on the news like everyone else"!

Mad City is left of left. Any program, policing gimmick, community outreach, midnight basketball or basket weaving that is possible has been done there already. It isn't a town with much for slums. It is a shining example of liberalism in a manner you can only get it in a small city, heavily subsidized by being the seat of State Government and having the big university. If liberalism can't look good here, it can't look good anywhere.

So it is an embarrassment that even in a lefty showcase of a city, black youths still do armed robbery, run amok, attack police officers (some of whom are white) and get killed. So do white youth, but the current narrative is "black lives matter", so the media could care less about the white kids, and as we have covered, they REALLY don't care about the 6K black on black young men killed every year.

The fact that nationwide the black culture has been destroyed by the programs of TP -- even in a shining showcase city like Madison, is a story that the MSM isn't likely to dwell on long.
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Sunday, March 08, 2015

Jesus and Socialism

Rendering Unto Caesar: Was Jesus A Socialist? (ePub, PDF, HTML, Audio) : Publications : Foundation for Economic Education:



It gets a little long, but it covers some of the points quite well. In short, Muhammad was much more of a Socialist than Jesus because Muhammad used and encouraged the use of FORCE and Socialism requires FORCE!

One difference between libertarianism [a personal choice and liberty-based system] and socialism is that a socialist society can't tolerate groups of people practicing freedom, but a libertarian society can comfortably allow people to choose voluntary socialism. If a group of people — even a very large group — wanted to purchase land and own it in common, they would be free to do so. The libertarian legal order would require only that no one be coerced into joining or giving up his property. 
As Socialism creeps in, it often seeks to deny it's forceful totalitarian nature and makes claims along the lines of "It's just another choice, if you like your XXXX you can keep it!!"



Anyone can quickly see these are lies -- anyone that is not a sheep by nature sees it in advance, but as the program comes into existence, EVERYONE sees that they were in fact lied to -- but now that choice is gone, and increasingly there are sanctions on even speaking up and pointing out the like -- the IRS audits you, the EPA knocks on the door of your business, etc. Eventually, the sanction is incarceration or death as Socialism gains power.



I love this paragraph on the Golden Rule:

The well-known "Golden Rule" comes from the lips of Jesus himself, in Matthew 7:12. "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." In Matthew 19:19, Jesus says, "love your neighbor as yourself." Nowhere does he even remotely suggest that we should dislike a neighbor because of his wealth or seek to take that wealth from him. If you don't want your property confiscated (and most people don't), then clearly you're not supposed to confiscate somebody else's.
It bears repeating -- if you don't want your own property confiscated then don't vote to confiscate someone elses!



Which leads us to the ultimate problem of socialism. In no way is it remotely Christian, so once a nation starts moving in a Socialist direction, Christians are among the first groups that run afoul of the growing government power and have to be "sanctioned" -- so unsurprisingly we increasingly see that happening in America.





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Saturday, March 07, 2015

Selma, Propaganda, Celebration

Civil rights landmark bridge is named for reputed KKK leader - The Washington Post:

I've already heard a lot of TP (The Party - D) religious preparation for the remembrance of Selma on NPR, but one "tiny little detail" that gets no coverage is the political party which was being fought against in Selma.

It was of course DEMOCRAT (TP)  -- even then, the dominant, but less dominant party of POWER. THE PARTY! (sig Heil!) If the National Socialist Party had won WWII we would no doubt be celebrating Kristallnacht every Nov 9th.

While TP did not have to kill that many blacks in the destruction of US African American Civilization 1865 - 1965, they VERY effectively converted a proud capable young culture that had developed after the institution of TP Slavery fell in in the Civil War, developing strong families and church allegiance while still under the thumb of TP administered Jim Crow in the South.

Blacks ended up in much the same way as Vichy France did relative to Nazi Germany -- they accepted their former masters as "caretakers" -- doling out their welfare checks, destroying their families, converting them to a permanent often criminal underclass that in return for their payoffs votes 90%+ for their oppressors in new clothing.

Here is a quote from the linked article that lifts the curtain just a bit:
Selma was known as a “safe place” for blacks aligned with liberal Republicans after the Civil War during Reconstruction partly because of a lack of Klan activity, he said.
"Liberal" in the classic sense -- meaning allowing people to hold differing views and respecting real diversity of thought as well as race. In the modern propaganda, one might think that the KKK would be aligned with Republicans under the theory that is preached from the media -- anything "bad" is R, "good" is D. But no, the KKK was primarily made up of DEMOCRATS, with the Senator Robert Byrd being a prominent past member.

Whatever TP says, think the opposite. Being the dominant party allows them to create any sort of fictional history and present myth desired that will be believed by a majority of people.  Much in the same as BO can stand up and claim "success" on lower gas prices even though he has strongly fought every action leading to them from drilling, fracking to pipelines, so TP who were the very people fighting against those Civil Rights marchers in Selma, can claim it is "their victory".

They did "win" in the sense that due to federal programs that have destroyed the black family, they garner 90%+ of their votes. It is the kind of "victory" that destroyed Detroit, is destroying Chicago and IL, and is well on it's way in CA and NY If TP has it's way, the entire country will suffer the same fate.

It's the standard TP "victory' -- myth, oppression and ever increasing totalitarian state control. If TP is successful in the whole country, 100% of us will be voting TP in the future or we will be imprisoned or dead -- and the state of families and poverty in America will make the plight of Blacks today look like a bright spot.

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Lost In Christianity

Why I’m Coming Out as a Christian - The Daily Beast:

The title is kinda like "lost in space".

In the beginning of Christianity, there was Christ and his disciples. One went bad, all the rest save John ended up martyrs according to the best histories we know. We certainly know that early Christianity was unpopular. The writer of over half the new testament, the Apostle Paul started life as Saul and was stoning Christians around the mid 30's AD -- not very long after the crucifixion, 30-33AD.

"Coming out as a Christian" is still worthy of the death sentence in Islamic territory, but here in the old US of A, apparently some feel the greatest obstacle to confessing Christ is:
No, I’m nervous to come out as a Christian because I worry I’m not good enough of one. I’m not scared that non-believers will make me feel an outcast. I’m scared that Christians will.
Compared to having one's head hacked off, being crucified, being fed to lions, or other forms of nasty death, somehow the idea of fearing one will "not be accepted as good enough" by other Christians seems rather tame. Reading through the article though, I wonder if Ms Cox may want to contract the Ex Governor of MN who feels that sueing the widow of the most successful sniper the US has ever had is the best manner to get back into the good graces of fellow SEALS whose company he claims to sorely miss. Her article seems to be spiritually aligned with Jesse's views of the proper way to be accepted by your peers. 

The claimed origin of Ms Cox's heartfelt need to stand up and be counted as among Christendom is the following. 
I’ve lately observed conservatives questioning Obama’s faith with more than professional interest. Because if Obama’s not Christian, what does that make me?
Thankfully, she can rest her fevered mind. There have been no "conservatives" questioning Obama's faith, save the quite unlikely possible case if the reporter that asked Scott Walker about Obama's faith was in fact a "conservative reporter" (a very rare breed), actually seeking some information from Walker on the subject. 

Note, there seems a second misconception in play here. While there is a good deal greater percentage of "conservatives" that self-identify as "Christian", the correlation is FAR from unity. Something like 60% is commonly quoted, vs less than 50% of "liberals". 

"Conservatives" questioning your claims of Christianity is NOT the same as Christians possibly questioning your claim. But discounting the extremely unlikely case of the reporter being a conservative looking for real information on Obama's faith from Scott Walker, we have zero recent cases of EITHER "Conservatives" nor "Christians" questioning Obama's faith, so Ms Cox stated concerns are completely vacuous. I wonder if she would breathe a sigh of relief on that news? 

It appears that SHE is COMPLETELY certain of her Christianity, however I would be remiss as a Christian to not provide a more coherent path to saving faith than she provides. 
  1. As she says, we are saved by faith in Christ, not of our own works, lest any man should boast. 
  2. As we grow in faith, we regularly find that we need to repent of your own sinful desires and follow Christ instead (daily repentance and contrition) . She seems to have missed this. 
  3. The means of this following -- well known nearly two thousand years, but becoming less agreed to today is Holy Scripture, Holy Preaching and Holy Communion 
The following is Ms Cox "statement of faith": 
Here is why I believe I am a Christian: I believe I have a personal relationship with my Lord and Savior. I believe in the grace offered by the Resurrection. I believe that whatever spiritual rewards I may reap come directly from trying to live the example set by Christ. Whether or not I succeed in living up to that example is primarily between Him and me.
The statement leaves out recognition of sinful need, repentance, desire to follow Christ and join with fellow believers, which unless we are talking a death-bed like conversion (eg. "thief on the cross"), would be key aspects of a typical Christian statement of faith.

She seems to make light of not having much knowledge of the Bible, which is an ODD Christian position given John 1:14 "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.".

Christ is the Word and the Word is Christ -- to know Christ, you know the Word. As a Christian, the knowledge of Christ is knowledge of the Bible and vice versa.

It is hard to read her column as being anything but a very thinly veiled smear on Scott Walker saying that if someone wants to know about Obama's Christianity, they should ask him, not Scott Walker, but I took her more seriously than that -- anyone can write something that looks bad and mean well after all.

I pray that her intent is actually an honest concern and that she will seek out the Word and a body of believers in which she can receive instruction, Communion and grow in Christ.

Prejudice, Mistaken Identiy

A Letter From Black America - Nikole Hannah-Jones - POLITICO Magazine:



The attached article is a nice long explanation justification for blacks feeling put upon by police. It ends with the specific case "proving" (if there is any point to the incident brought up at all) that police also are biased against teens, or possibly just tend to want to be certain that they person that reports an incident is not involved / has a motive other than being a good citizen.



Way way back when I was 21 and already working in Rochester I was minding my own business walking down the street street one day dressed in my favorite red white and blue denim jacket, jeans, and no doubt colorful tennis shoes. Somewhat like a St Bernard or Lab that has not figured out that it is not a lap dog, I had not wised up yet to the idea that bigger people wearing bright colored things stand out -- you do need to remember it was '78, Disco, Village People, etc as well.



A police car cruised by, slowing rather obviously, and stopping to watch me stroll by. I was unconcerned having done nothing wrong and not opposed to police. I heard the doors of the squad open / bang shut and was surprised very shortly to hear, "Please Stop, we would like to talk with you."



As I turned, I noticed the officer closest to me resting his hand on his pistol from which the strap was already undone, the second officer was off on the grass at an angle to the side so it was hard to look at both at the same time ... his hand was even more prominently resting in the draw-ready position on his unstrapped pistol.



"Do you have any identification?" ... fortunately, I did, and rather SLOWLY reached to my back pocket, got out the billfold, then licence -- they looked at the ID, looked at me for a bit, then handed it back and apologized for detaining me.



Curious, I asked what was up. Apparently, a guy of my height and weight description "dressed like me" had escaped from a holding facility at the local enforcement center. It took me a few years to kind of figure out that particular description of physical characteristics and dress might have been a bit unusual, although I STILL like to think that I blend in anywhere! Moose are hard to spot!



Bill Berg is also a common name ... maybe not as common as "Mike Smith" (if that is actually anybody's real name), so I've had more than a few cases of mistaken identity there. When a Bill Berg of about my age was killed along the highway in an accident and it was reported in the news, a NUMBER of people were sure it was me.



It is also true that "teens" of any color are "targeted" by the police for certain kinds of crime -- vandalism, stealing cars, erratic and "display of power" sorts of driving, shoplifting, etc. The reason they are "targeted" is that they have a higher rate of perpetrating those kinds of acts than say 60 year old  overweight white guys, to pick a group that MIGHT be profiled completely at random.



Is there pure racism against blacks? Sure. But there is also what I would call "legitimate profiling" -- certain groups DO perpetuate certain crimes at a MUCH higher rate than others. If I want more police attention I can just put on some leathers, and rev my Harley up a bit in some areas -- add a few tats and such and the attention will rise even more.



While as I say, I'm certain there is SOME racism, I would be strongly surprised if a well groomed middle age black man in a suit and tie isn't going to get a lot less attention than a dreadlocked 20 year old with low slung pants, a bunch of bling, a hoodie and a baseball cap cocked to the side -- add a boom box on the shoulder blaring anti-cop rap and the meter likely goes up another notch or two.



The bottom line. PERSPECTIVE. Politico puts in an article in which the bulk is opinion, completely known to any breathing American from many previous sources, and the specific incident cited point to police treatment of teens that call in crimes on a cell phone, not to treatment of blacks by police which is ostensibly  the topic.



Black, white, young, big, biker, old,  hooker, etc -- profiles and stereotypes are part of living. Hang around and you will be old and uninteresting to anyone in law enforcement as other than a victim.



You may even gain some perspective.

Alternatives 2 Hilly

While TP is the dominant party and it's potential to end the USA remains as serious as a heart attack, life is not worth living without some levity!!

Even total dominance has it's trials!

Can Illinois Be Saved?

The Weekend Interview: Blue State Turnaround Artist - WSJ:



We know that Chicago is in dire financial straits from some of the articles leaking out, but the state of Illiniois is also in deep trouble.



As the article points out, the root problem for the state is public sector unions and the kickback connection between those unions and the Democrats (TP). We may hear more of a negative nature about this in the near future as things have gotten so bad that an evil Republican has been elected and is attempting to take some baby steps to curtail the level of union rape of the public purse and the related kickbacks to TPs campaign coffers.



Although a bit longish, the entire article is worth the read -- the perils of cities like NYC in the '80s, Detroit today, and increasingly Chicago, as well as states like CA, NY and IL show us the results of single party TP rule and the direction that the US is strongly headed in.



I'd argue that CA and NY would be in the running for "worst managed", but I'm sure a case can be made for IL

Welcome to government in Illinois, the worst-managed state in the country. The Land of Lincoln is buried under staggering debts, including a projected $6.7 billion operating gap for the next fiscal year and an $111 billion unfunded pension liability. Government unions and politicians engage in legal collusion that fleeces taxpayers. Between 2002 and 2014, 86% of Illinois state lawmakers received union contributions, according to the Illinois Policy Institute.
A tiny lift of the curtain of the insidiousness of  the effects of unions and the union government connection is provided by this little piece of information that the rules applied to contracts in IL raise the costs 10-20% -- consider that ON TOP of the already higher costs incurred for government contracts (more oversight, more planning, more impact statements, etc) and one gets a bit of a hint as to why our nation now has so much trouble with "infrastructure".  Government consistently overspends buying votes with all manner of "subsidies", "grants", "aid to etc, etc", and lets the infrastructure crumble. Then, as the disrepair gets critical they demand more tax income (often gas taxes) in order to pay out yet more money to their supporters in the unions and bureaucracy. A sweet deal to all but the hapless taxpayer. 

..., Mr. Rauner wrangled approval for the mansion renovation but was told that the work, even if privately funded, had to follow the state’s prevailing-wage laws, which restrict competitive bidding and can raise costs 20% or more. 
If the new governor is serious about this we can expect Scott Walker like recall votes, destructive demonstrations and threats of violence in IL like there were in WI.



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Thursday, March 05, 2015

Petraeus vs Sandy Berger

A double standard on government secrets for David Petraeus - LA Times:



I had to chuckle as the LA Times got concerned because David Petraeus is "getting off easy" in their book for letting his lover / biographer look at some secret documents.



My memory is too damned good-- and having a blog and a search engine makes it all too easy.



Back in '06 I linked this little gem on Sandy Berger, seems that "good old Sandy" as Slick Willie commented took documents out of restricted areas hidden in his pants and then hid them under a construction trailer.



Naturally, even though reported in the MSM, Sandy being a member of TP in VERY good standing ... and most likely covering up for the Clintons, received NO PUNISHMENT!!!



Ah yes, such concern for "double standards"!



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Unions, Terror, Walker, Reagan

Attacks on Scott Walker Remind of Reagan | The American Spectator:



Walker made a couple comments that have been jumped on relative to dealing with unions and dealing with terrorists. As the linked article coveres, Reagan did the same.



Our personal experiences tend to shape what pops into our minds. Thankfully, few of us in the US have had to deal with terrorists (yet), but more of us have had to deal with unions.



My most up close and personal  union experience was in I believe 1996 when Newt Gingrich came to Rochester for a fundraiser for then Congressional Candidate Gil Gutknecht. At the main entrance to the event at the Kahler Hotel,  a group of approximately 205 unionists were marching carrying signs and chanting -- intimidating people from entering. There were people pointing to a side entrance, but my adrenaline came up and I decided that I didn't enjoy being intimidated, so I strode toward the line at a rapid and determined pace. Apparently intimidation has it's limits;  the line parted rather quickly and even the chants went silent for a second. Nobody particularly wanted to play "Bumper Moose" that night.



Were I not as large as I am, the intimidation would have likely worked. If I had to have the courage of a Walker or a Reagan, I  would probably fold like a wet paper bag. Hope not, but like combat, you don't know until it happens. Standing up to intimidation is definitely bracing and memorable. I'm certain much more so if you are threatened with having your face caved in so you "never work in movies again" as Reagan was, or have the home of your elderly parents picketed by union thugs as Walker has.



Violence and intimidation are a huge part of the union way. "Strike breakers" are threatened with all manner of intimidation and actual violence, and it is often carried out -- in property damage, beatings and even murder. Cross a union and the threat is always implicit and often explicit.



Now unionists may be the rotary club of terror compared to ISIS -- whacking the head with a baseball bat is more the union way than severing it on TV, but the basic result can be the same. The unions are the early violence arm of TP, the shock troops.  "Labor Day" is the US version of "May Day". A day dedicated to the intimidating power of unions using both the ballot box and the baseball bat.



The union is the point at which the "mob" part of too much "democracy" starts to show it's more ugly face. The government union is the step at which the power of the state becomes a tool for union intimidation. See IRS.



Walker is going to be attacked in MANY ways if he continues to run. Make no mistake, his bravery includes bravery for his life and the lives of his family. He has directly challenged the TPs shock troops, the unions, and they believe in and regularly use intimidation and violence.







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