Tuesday, March 31, 2015

It's OK To Hate Politicians

Ted Kennedy may have had some good qualities.  I doubt it, but I still do not hate Ted Kennedy as a person but as a politician.  I'm sure Bill Clinton is just as much a lying scumbag in his personal life as he has been in his public life, but I'm not allowed to hate him as a person.  I figure George W. Bush is a pretty good person in private; I'd probably enjoy talking baseball with him.  I voted for him three times, and I still dislike his politics and hate the fact that he helped give us more and bigger government.  I'm an equal-opportunity hater.  I've done the lesser of two evils thing enough that I hate nearly as many of the politicians I had to vote for as the ones I voted against. 

Ted Kennedy, though, is being honored and remembered today.  Oh, he was the "lyin' lion of the Senate."  He was an advocate for government-run health insurance, for civil rights, for the poor. 

He was guilty of voluntary manslaughter.  He drank too much, planned to violate his wedding vows by having illicit sex with a female campaign worker, missed his turn, ran his mother's Oldsmobile off a bridge, swam out to save his own worthless hide, and left a young, trusting girl to drown in the dark waters off Chappaquiddick Island.  Saving that girl and getting help to get her out would have been too inconvenient to his political ambitions.  He was destined to be President of the United States, following in the footsteps of his brothers John and Robert. 

I have no use for any of Joseph Kennedy's descendants.  John Kennedy would be a lot less of an icon if the back of his head had not been blown off down on Elm Street.  The legend of Robert Kennedy has also benefited from his tragic demise.  Edward was not so lucky.  He was able to live long and give us much bad legislation.  Because he was a Kennedy, he was elite and knew what was best for us.  He was a drunk, a degenerate, a womanizer, and a fat, lazy, slob, but he was better than the common people. 

I would say the same thing of most politicians, even those who are not as personally disgusting and repulsive as Ted Kennedy.  Again, I'm not allowed to hate the man.  I do, though, proudly despise everything he did and everything he stood for.  He represented all that is wrong with America, and the fact that his "legacy" is being celebrated tells me all I need to know about the sad state of our union. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Difference Between Stupidity and Genius

Stupidity has no limit.  I used to think that was a joke until the militant gays, lesbians, and cross-dressers went ballistic over the new Indiana law.  However, Indiana did not pass an anti-gay law.

What the law does is protect the right of individuals to follow their consciences and religious convictions unless the state has some compelling reason to force them to violate those convictions. 

There are laws similar to the Hoosier statute in a number of states, and it is similar, as well, to a 1993 federal law that was signed by that right-wing religious fanatic, Bill Clinton.  These laws are redundant in that they are echoes of the First Amendment, but since the Establishment Clause has been stood on its head for so many years and made to guarantee freedom from religion in the public square, perhaps such clarifications on the state level are necessary.

As Denninger points out, it would be wrong to force the owner of a Jewish deli to fry up some bacon to meet a customer's demand

I think it's generally wrong to use the guns of government to force anybody to do anything "positive".  It is legitimate for government to punish those who cause harm to the person or property of another.  Government can, in a sense, "referee" disputes between belief systems, but it has no business taking sides.  In other words, if some of us decide that we ought to go downtown and beat up homosexuals and people who are "gender confused", the government can legitimately step in and tell us that we are over the line.  What it can't do -- or shouldn't be able to do -- is tell us that we have to like trannies or that we have to think the abnormal is normal. 

Christians, in general, have no animosity toward homosexuals and no desire to harm them physically or deny them any human rights.  We do think we have the right to tell them what they are doing is wrong, just as adultery, promiscuity, and other forms of sexual immorality are wrong.  And any person, religious or not, ought to have better sense than to let a cross-dressing male use the women's locker room.  Again, the government has a place in helping us balance our freedom of expression against the rights of homosexuals to live in peace.  But that works both ways.  The Christian has a right to live in peace and practice his or her religion, and, as a business person, to be free from coercion regarding beliefs to which he adheres. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Where's My Enthusiasm?

Over at Townhall, Derek Hunter breaks down the Republican FrankenCandidates for 2016.

Cruz is the Brain.
Walker has the Resume.
Ben Carson has the Biography.
Perry has the Record.
Christie has the Donuts Attitude.
Donald Trump has the Ego.
Rubio has the Charm.
Carly Fiorina has the Spirit.
Rand Paul has the Personality.

Hunter explains it all, at the link.

Where's the guy with the Constitution?  I want a president with the Tenth Amendment tattooed on his forehead.  I want somebody who is committed to reducing the size and scope of the federal Jabberwocky.

The people for whom politics and government are central are looking for winners.

I don't need a cheerleader.  I don't need to be charmed or impressed or even led.  The office of the presidency could be competently run by anybody who graduated high school with a C-average or above prior to about 1975.  Anybody who can read and comprehend the Declaration and the Constitution -- and who believed the Founders meant what they said -- could serve and be a better president than we have had for the last one hundred years -- with the exception of Calvin Coolidge. 

We just went all out to elect a bunch of these GOP FrankenCandidates to the Senate and the House to give Republicans control.  What have they done with that?  They are not going to defund Obama's executive amnesty.  They are going to try to shove amnesty down our throats.  They are trying to get us involved in Ukraine.  They are not curbing spending.  They are not defunding Obamacare.  The are not shutting down the EPA or the ATF or Common Core.  They are worthless. 

I think Cruz, Walker, and Paul are all better candidates than Romney or McCain.  Dr. Carson is a brilliant man and an outstanding Christian.  Rick Perry is OK.  Chris Christie will drink your milkshake.

Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems that no matter how good the intentions, they can't escape the power structure.  It's like the One Ring.  It doesn't matter who gets it, it corrupts them.  They can't wield the power without coming under its influence.  Then the ring wields the bearer, and somebody has to lose a finger.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Long May You Run

You all know about the 2011 Victory Vision, known as the Enterprise.  It was my wife's bike.  I got it because she wanted a nice pillion and comfort and amenities.  I was happy to give her what she wanted.  There's no question that the Vision is a nice bike, and it is very comfortable.  There's even a certain cool factor to it. 

I rode it a couple of times after my wife's passing, and, as much as I enjoyed being out on any bike, something was wrong.  I had talked about getting an SR400.  I looked at the Yamaha FZ-07, which is  a really nice little bike.  I considered adding an XT250 for running gravel roads and the like.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that, if I did that, the Enterprise would sit idle almost all the time. 

I have been a Yamaha guy for forty years, so I looked around at some more Yamahas.  They added the FZ-09 triple last year then created a "sport-touring" version of it called the FJ-09 that has ABS and traction control.  It has a more upright riding position than a typical sport bike, hand guards and a small wind deflector.  The more I pondered, the more it made sense to trade in the Vision on an FJ-09.  I ran it by my nephew who thinks the way I do about most stuff.  I also ran it by the kids and the older granddaughter.  It really wasn't a meaningful thing to them, but I wanted to make sure.

Despite the lingering effects of last week's virus, I took a demo ride on an FJ this past Saturday.  I was convinced. 

So, we say good-bye to the Enterprise with her mighty chrome heart.  Long may she run, indeed.

And we welcome our new steed:

About the same horsepower -- though less torque -- and half the weight. 

I bought a full-face helmet.  I may, at some point, add saddlebags, but, for now, I'm happy just to ride as is.

I was never a DC fan, but it could be the Batbike.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Another Idea So Good It Will Have To Be Mandatory

So, over in Europe, Ford is introducing a new vehicle called the "S-Max" which will scan signs and adjust its speed automatically

Ford's Intelligent Speed Limiter tech will first appear on the new Ford S-Max that's launching in Europe that could just change the way that we drive.

It would change me from ever driving another Ford.

Apparently the driver can sort of override the limiter for emergencies.  I still don't like it.

A speed limit isn't really a moral value.  I've gotten a few tickets over the years because I do see it as more of a suggestion or general guideline.  Most cops see it that way, too.  Traffic flow and relative speed have a lot more to do with safety than absolute speed.  

Sometimes the idea of a self-driving car has some appeal -- especially in these days of stupid airport security regulations and the Three Stooges Administration.  If I could get in my car, set the GPS, and doze off behind the wheel, I'd never fly anywhere in the 48.  Being able to adjust to the posted speeds would be essential for a vehicle on auto-pilot.  But I would want to be able to cut off the system completely -- as we do with cruise control. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Hate Speech

I meant to post this last week -- then I got sick.  

There ought to be a law against people telling the truth:

One of the most admirable things about Europe is that most (if not all) of the right-wing rhetoric that you hear in the US is explicitly against the law there.  For example, attempting to link Islam with terrorism, saying that gay marriage isn’t really marriage, or saying that trans women aren’t really women would get you charged with discrimination and/or incitement to hatred. 

Thank you Ms. Cohen for letting us know the times in which we live, and your agenda.

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act -- Orwell.

We just ain't civilized, because:

In a civilized country with basic human rights, Phil Robertson would have been taken before a government Human Rights Tribunal or Human Rights Commission and given a fine or prison sentence for the hateful and bigoted comments that he made about LGBT people.  In the US, however, he was given no legal punishment, even though his comments easily had the potential to incite acts of violence against LGBT people, who already face widespread violence in the deeply homophobic American society – and his comments probably DID incite acts of violence against LGBT people.

Really?  "Probably" -- that means, of course, that Tanya Cohen has not one shred of evidence to support her gratuitous assertion.  As the man used to say, a gratuitous assertion can be gratuitously refuted.  Nothing Phil Robertson said advocated violence or hatred toward homosexuals or other sexual deviants.

I thought these were the "science" people.  Science says that if a mammal has an XX chromosome pairing, it is a female.  If it has XY, it is a male.  Hence, just because some boy feels more comfortable showering with the girls does not him a girl make.

I notice that Ms. Cohen feels completely justified in accusing me of homophobia and islamophobia -- two conditions that, as far as I know, do not actually exist in a psychiatric sense.  I would think, if we are going to talk about "hate speech", demanding that my rights be curtailed because of my beliefs would count.  

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Virginia is for Vanity Plates

Click the picture for a more readable image -- the Yahoo article is here.

Everybody is special in their own way.  The other thing North Dakota is known for is having the shortest rulers. 

Imagine South Dakota as the intersection of a Venn diagram of adjacent states.  

What else is there to do in Mississippi?

An odd definition of paradise:  nobody ever hits a deer. 

I've been to Louisiana, and that makes perfect sense.

Sheep don't carry syphilis.

How can you be "most moderate"?  Wouldn't you have to be moderately moderate?

No one in Rhode Island drives out of sight of their house.

California, home of uncanny silicone valleys.

When my cats get old, they are planning on retiring to Montana.

Skynyrd said it long ago:  'Cause down in Alabama you can run, but you shore cain't hide.

Arkansas, home of Hawgs, dawgs, and logs.

Happy Trails to you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The First Step in Prep

It looks like Denninger is planning a series about prepping.  We can probably count on it being interesting.  In this first piece he talks about those with chronic, life-threatening conditions such as insulin-dependent diabetics, those on dialysis or requiring oxygen.  It makes preparing for any challenging situation much more difficult, and greatly decreases the likelihood of survival in a place like post-Tito Yugoslavia.

Another point he makes is one I have mentioned in the past. If a person is not healthy physically, emotionally, and (I would add) spiritually, getting healthy in those areas is a top priority:
Second, but not far down the list, is those of you who are allegedly preppers and have significant but able to be mitigated physical or emotional issues.  Deal with them now, and first, before worrying about the rest.  These sorts of issues take months -- and sometimes years -- to handle.  The most-important assets you have in any bad situation are your mind and bodily stamina.  If you are mentally unstable in any material way or physically challenged in a way you can address (e.g. you're fat and thus unable to undertake a hike of 10 or 20 miles with a heavy pack -- or run a few miles -- should the need arise) then fix that right now.  Again, all the prepping in the world is immaterial if you don't survive long enough for your supplies and planning to matter.

At my age, it is realistic to make peace with mortality and some loss of physical prowess.  I have a knee that has been bugging me for months -- possibly an MCL tear.  A few years ago, I would have been over it in a week.  My own personal survival in this life -- as some of you know -- has recently lost some of its appeal or whatever, but I still want to have something of a place of refuge and be a help and resource for family, friends and neighbors.

Updated to add the link to the second article "Common Personal Disasters".

Monday, March 16, 2015

Congealed Carry Permits

I was talking to someone the other day, discussing the idea of getting a permit to carry concealed.  I haven't been in a situation in the last forty years where I would need a concealed firearm.  Also, Missouri has always allowed open carry.  Finally, for the last five or six years or so it's been legal to carry concealed in a vehicle. 

But I was still thinking about getting a permit just because.  As much as I hate the idea of asking permission from the state to practice something as basic as self-defense, I was just about to break down and go for it.  Today changed my mind. 

Every so often I will work at a site where a background check is required.  I went down the county sheriff's office to get a couple of cards with my prints on them.  The first thing was that I had to go back to the car because I had a pocket knife with me.  I got rid of that, went back, emptied my pockets, took off my cell phone, wrist watch, and belt.  My boots still set off the metal detector so I had to pull up my britches' legs so the lady at the little counter could look down the shafts.

I got downstairs to the sheriff's office, and there were two old boys trying to renew their concealed carry permits.  The price is fifty bucks, and you have to have an appointment.  The deal is that you go through a class and get certified.  You take the certification down to the sheriff, go through some sort of interview and background check, pay some money, and get your permit.  That's bad enough.  When time comes to renew, you have to go through a bunch more rigamarole, jump through some hoops and eventually get to give somebody some more money.

Also, you are registered.  The Department of Revenue has all the information about your permit.  They were sharing that with the Feds and the IRS, until they were exposed a couple of years ago.  They are probably still doing it and not telling anybody.

They can pound sand.  If it gets bad enough that I'm worried about needing a gun, I'll wear it on my hip like Josey Wales.  Besides, it would be kind of hard to hide my Super Blackhawk under a t-shirt.    

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Holder Hypocrisy

As you probably know, two Ferguson police officers were wounded early Thursday morning during a protest

What irritates me is that Holder and Obama were right in the middle of the Ferguson situation, throwing fuel on the fire and trying to, in my opinion, stir up enthusiasm for higher urban voter turn-out in the 2014 elections. 

I had the radio on briefly this afternoon and heard a report about Holder expressing support for the officers who were shot.  Obama tweets that they are in his prayers. 

These two clowns might as well have painted targets on the cops in Ferguson.  Holder is offering investigative support to find "those responsible".  Let me save you some time and trouble, Mr. Holder:  Look in the mirror! 

Literally hours before the shooting, Holder was suggesting that the Department of Justice might essentially take over the Ferguson police department.  He has left the impression all along that he thought the entire force there were a bunch a racists.  Why is he surprised that some of "his people" took him at his word?  The answer is that he isn't.  This is exactly the kind of "crisis" the regime wanted to create in order to gain additional power and leverage.   

I thought Bill and Hillary Clinton were the most shameless pieces of human flotsam that ever lived, but Obama and Holder are at least their equals. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Jay Leno Hates Ethanol (Me, Too)

Didn't they ever hear the gasoline and alcohol don't mix?

Autoweek carries this explanation from the classic car aficionado.  People tell me that, sans mustache, I look like Jay Leno.  But don't be fooled into thinking he's just another incredibly handsome face.  The man is smart:

As someone who collects old cars, and keeps them up religiously, I am now replacing fuel-pressure regulators every 12 to 18 months. New cars are equipped with fuel lines that are resistant to ethanol damage, but with older cars, the worst can happen—you’re going down the road, and suddenly your car is on fire.
That would be bad.  Also, as Leno points out, you cannot leave ethanol-adulterated fuel sitting around for any length of time because of its hydrophilic nature.    

Why do we have this mess?  Jay nails it:

Blame the Renewable Fuel Standard. This government-mandated rule requires certain amounts of ethanol and other biofuels be blended with gasoline and diesel fuel. But when Congress first passed RFS as part of the Energy Policy Act in 2005, our demand for energy was increasing. Today, it’s the opposite. Total demand for fuel has decreased thanks to more-efficient vehicles, more hybrids and increased environmental awareness. The EPA is set to release the 2015 standard in June. Meanwhile, some legislators are pushing to reform or eliminate the Renewable Fuel Standard entirely.

I just don’t see the need for ethanol. I understand the theory—these giant agri-business companies can process corn, add the resulting blend to gasoline and we’ll be using and importing less gasoline. But they say this diversion of the corn supply is negatively affecting food prices, and the ethanol-spiked gas we’re forced to buy is really awful.

The big growers of corn have sold us a bill of goods. Some people are making a lot of money because of ethanol. But as they divert production from food to fuel, food prices inevitably will rise. Now, if you don’t mind paying $10 for a tortilla ...
This is one of those instances where political action could actually do some good.  I ding my Congressman and Senators every so often about the insanity of ethanol subsidies.  I think I'll send them the link to Jay's article with my next tirade. 

There are a couple of local stations where I can get non-ethanol fuel, but you have to go up to 91 octane premium.  That's not a problem for my bike which likes 91 anyway.  It's kind of silly for the lawnmower, trimmer, tiller and blower, but I do it just the same. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Heat Nazis

No wood stoves for you.

Citing health concerns, the Environmental Protection Agency now is pressing ahead with regulations to significantly limit the pollution from newly manufactured residential wood heaters.  But some of the states with the most wood smoke -- including Minnesota and Wisconsin -- are refusing to go along, claiming that the EPA's new rules could leave low-income residents in the cold.
The new designs will naturally increase cost.  When the current generation of stoves requires replacement, people may not be able to afford the new, government-approved stoves.  Further, if the stove design is anything like the low-flow flush toilet design, a person might have to sit on top of them to keep warm.

The Missouri legislature has already told the EPA that our DNR will not enforce the new regulations.  This is as it should be.  If a city or a particular part of a city were to choose to strictly regulate or even outlaw wood-burning stoves, furnaces and fireplaces, a person who found this unacceptable could move.  If the whole country does it to appease a handful of hysterical hypochondriacs in suburbia, where do you go?  

I can understand in congested urban areas there being an issue with wood smoke if everyone in the neighborhood used a wood stove or furnace as their primary heat source.  That doesn't happen.  Given the cost and supply of suitable hardwood, such a scenario is unrealistic.  Even with pellet stoves, which are newer and likely produce "cleaner" smoke (I have no experience in this area), there are probably constraints on availability of fuel.

I thought we were all about "renewables".  No bald eagle has ever been chopped in half or fried in mid-air by smoke from a wood stove.   Wood is renewable.  It is also low-tech.  In a rural setting, on fairly small acreage, a person can be self-sustaining with wood as a heat and cooking source.  My family did it for many years.

The bureaucrats in Washington come up with these ridiculous demands without realizing there are people out here in the country who would find this a genuine hardship as well as cause for additional animosity toward the government.  If you have wood as your primary heat source, there are times when it is a matter of life and death.  It gets cold enough where I live that a person could die without heat. 

Also, I would think that the amount of smoke and the noxiousness of the smoke has as much to do with the quality of wood as the quality of stove -- if not more.  I've seen good, solid, well-seasoned oak smoke that was barely a smudge on a winter's day.  People use heating oil up in Yankee-land.  I am sure that is worse than anything coming out of a hillbilly's chimney because it's in our blood -- as "Copper Kettle" says:

Build your fire with hickory,
Hickory, ash, or oak.
Don't use no green or rotten wood,
They'll get by you by your smoke.

Several years ago there was a proposal floated to have greater regulation of rural water usage in some "sensitive" areas of the Ozarks.  Part of the proposal suggested putting a meter on private wells.  I don't know that I would actually kill someone who tried to put a meter on my well, but I don't know for sure that I wouldn't, either.  I would certainly attempt to make the poor sucker tasked with the job question the wisdom of those who sent him out. I'm afraid there are people out here who would be the same way about the government trying to take away their "heatin' stove". 

Friday, March 6, 2015

First They Came for the Gang Members

You can read the story here, but the gist of it is fairly easy to summarize.  We have a young man with no real criminal record who grew up in an area with a large gang population.  The young man knew members of the gang.  He associated with them simply by living where he did and apparently communicating with some questionable people via Fakebook.  He was arrested several times but never charged with a crime.  Now a prosecutor wants to use a federal conspiracy statute to charge him and fourteen others for criminal actions of some of the members of the gang.

The idea is that these non-participants gained stature or, as they say, street cred, through the illegal actions of their friends or acquaintances. 

There are law-and-order conservatives who think this is a great idea.  You have to go after these gangs hard. 

My question would be what happens if some Tea Partier that I know forgets to take his meds one day, goes off the reservation and attacks a St. Louis politician with a rubber chicken?  Am I going to be arrested for conspiracy? 

I always assumed that the bar was rather high when it came to proving a conspiracy charge beyond a reasonable doubt in court, unless there were signed contracts, video records or other substantial evidence.  I have trouble grasping how "friending" someone on Fakebook is any different than asking how the wife and kids are doing when running into an acquaintance at the mall.  If we use the same barber, does that make us conspirators?  This is scary.  An unscrupulous administration -- not that we've ever had one of those -- could very easily go after political opposition based on a "conspiracy by association". 

Some of the bloggers that I read, including some I have in the sidebar, make what could be construed as incendiary statements.  Most of the time I agree; sometimes I don't.  One thing for sure, none of them are as bad as Jeremiah Wright or Bill Ayers.  Some people that I link to have links to even more radical sites.  I don't know that anybody out there is a felon, but they might become felons some day.  Or their opinions might just run afoul of Obama's ridiculously thin skin. 

This is a not slope I want us to start down.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Of Hamsters and Big Bangs

Recently there has been quite a bit of talk around the webs about the idea that there was no "Big Bang".  Back in high school, we often contemplated doing things that might result in negative outcomes.  One of my cousins had a standard answer to any of us who expressed doubts about the wisdom of a course of action:  A hundred years from now who will ever know?  While the legend might sometimes live on, do we really think we know what happened a billion years ago?  Multiple by fourteen, and I am even more skeptical.  In general, I think physics has a good handle on it.  We are here.  As to the specifics, I am less confident. 

Regardless, Czech physicist Luboš Motl, talks about the value of the study that purports to abolish the Big Bang.  He laments the ignorance and, what I would call, a lack of discernment on the part of the general public.  I am uninterested disputes among physicists over the origins of the universe, having an alternate explanation myself, but I have to agree with Motl about the public's herd mentality. 

97% of the people simply have no capability or no intent or no desire to distinguish gold from cr*p, not even in the most obvious situation. This problem isn't restricted to physics or cosmology.
This fully explains the political leadership in countries with popular elections.

The Czech Republic has the same problem with environmental impact studies that we have in the U.S.:

Last September, they were going to build a new speed highway in Moravia – but it was found out that there were hamsters over there. So an "environmental" company called Ekoteam (which is really one person, Mr Vladimír Ludvík) was hired to count the burrows of hamsters between two villages (named Třebětice and Alexovice). His result was that there were 73 burrows including 45 active ones.

Wild hamsters of the Czech Republic.  It's a little known fact that wild hamsters invented the wheel.  Clearly, it's important that we know to what extent our road building impacts hamster civilization.  Thus the Czech government paid Mr. Ludvík something roughly equivalent to $100,000 USD to count hamster holes.  Motl says that amount of money would support a postdoc researcher in physics for two years. 

One doesn't necessarily have to realize the benefits of physics to get Motl's point.  We are wasting, around the world, billions of dollars every year on things that provide no discernible benefit of any kind -- assuming one is not a hamster.  These ludicrous expenditures are justified, not by accounting or cost-benefit comparisons but by emotion.  I do not know how many hamsters occupy the average active burrow, but I understand they tend to be solitary creatures, so 45 burrows might indicate the presence of 90, more or less, of these cuddly, short-tailed rats.  Just to make the math easy, say there are 100.  Surely, at a thousand dollars a piece, these are golden hamsters.   

This adds, of course, to the cost of the new highway in both time and money.  Those who would benefit from the better road suffer the direct loss of money from their pocket in taxes needed to fund such nonsense, as well as the loss of time that could have been saved had the project been finished sooner.  And, as Motl points out, this is only done because they are using someone else's, i.e., the taxpayers', money. 

The issue is really about the public's lack of understanding when it comes to what is of value, both in an absolute sense and relative to others "goods" that might be sought after.  The value of a thing may be simply what someone is willing to pay for it in the short-term.  To make an informed decision, the buyer needs to be aware of the true cost.  For one thing, in a world of limited resources, I want to know what a thing costs me in terms of other things I might need. 

Who doesn't love hamsters?  I think they have them deep-fried on a stick at the State Fair.  While most of us like paved roads, they are not as emotionally appealing in some cases as cute rodents.  If, however, I find out that research into a cure for cancer is underfunded by $100,000 because we took a hamster census before we turned the bulldozers loose on the new turnpike, I might start to ask if hamsters are somehow an endangered species threatened with extinction.  Run, little hamster.  Run!   

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Another Example of the Media-Government Complex

We know now that Hillary Clinton, who has been misbehaving and putting herself above the law since the days of the Watergate investigation, used a private email to circumvent Freedom Of Information requests while she was at the State Department.

Yes, she is scum.  I knew this in 1992.

I don't know if this is enough to derail her presidential ambitions.  She is an incompetent never-was, differing from Obama only in being slightly less facile at voicing falsehoods.  She plays the victim well, as in the Benghazi hearings, and she has the requisite sense of entitlement, so she has that working for her.  She also has the media making excuses for her, blaming her deception on incompetent staffers.

The problem is really the old "Fairness Doctrine" adopted by the FCC -- those wonderful, unelected dictators who have decided to bring their unwanted and unneeded interference to the internet.  The Fairness Doctrine required broadcast media had to allow for the airing of opposing views on controversial topics.  This meant, to use a ridiculous example, that if you had a radio station and aired a pro-communist opinion, you had to allow anti-communists to express their opposing views over the air.  This made no sense.

Newspapers never had to worry about this.  They could be affiliated with a political party or movement and were free to publish their opinions and write their stories with whatever bias they chose.  Wood pulp and ink were not considered public property.  People bought the paper they wanted in a free market of ideas.  Sure, some papers had greater influence than others, but they did not have a monopoly.

All that changed when radio came into being.  Franklin Roosevelt, our most audacious American Caesar of the 20th Century, made good use of radio technology to create a "national voice."  There were multiple radio networks, but the government created the FCC in 1934 and suddenly the airwaves were regulated in the public good.  Obviously, some licensing and regulation was necessary to prevent multiple stations attempting to broadcast on the same part of the spectrum.  It made sense to give the federal government oversight on signals that could easily cross state boundaries.  Signal strength, signal patterns, and frequency were all within the legitimate boundaries of regulation.

Imagine yourself as one of those early pioneers of radio.  If you build a nice radio station with an expensive tower and equipment and, perhaps, on-air talent, you want your investment to pay off.  It would be devastating to have the FCC revoke your license and give your frequency to someone else.  You want to support the values you believe in, but you don't want to get on the wrong side of the federal government.  Thus, the federal government becomes "a good thing," a benevolent and vital aspect of American life, deserving of respect and obeisance.

Mass media began to kill off our liberty.  We, as Americans, bought into Progressive malarkey before that or we would never have allowed men like Theodore Roosevelt (whom I still admire as a man) and Woodrow Wilson (whom I thoroughly detest) in the White House.  But mass media brought a mass change in the American political consciousness.

Some of the change was positive, I think.  We began to see ourselves a bit more as Americans and a bit less as Texicans or Pukes, Yankees or Westerners, Sandlappers or Southrons.  We began tapping into a common cultural identity.  Californians could hear Bob Wills.  New Yorkers could listen to the Louisiana Hayride.  We clung to our unique regional identities, at least for a while, but we came to better understand and perhaps even respect the differences around us.  Culturally, that was not necessarily a bad thing.  Political homogenization, though, was more corrosive.

Mass media, along with the Progressive damage wrought by the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments (direct taxation and popular election of Senators) allowed for the rise of the demagogue.   Franklin Roosevelt was the first and perhaps the worst in many ways.  What Americans accepted from him, with the help of radio and the complicity of the national voices heard on the airwaves, paved the way for the erosion of our liberties. 

The Fairness Doctrine was adopted officially in 1949, tightening the FCC's grip on what could be broadcast.  One prominent case in the '60s went to the U.S. Supreme Court.  The Court ordered the FCC to revoke the license of a segregationist television station for its censorship of the national network (NBC) coverage of the civil rights movement.

On the one hand, we are against segregation.  On the other hand, shouldn't people be allowed to decide on their own what they can watch?  Of course, back in those days, a lot of us in more rural areas had two or maybe three channels we could pick up on our black-and-white sets, so long as the weather cooperated.  (During thunderstorms we had to turn off the TV and disconnect the antenna lead to prevent lightning running in on the television should it strike the pole which project well above the roof.   We were lucky.  Though the stations were fifty miles away by the road, up on our part of the Plateau we had decent line-of-sight reception.)  Given the technology at the time, a reasonable argument could be made in favor of the Fairness Doctrine, if you didn't think about it too much.

Fair is good, right?  Of course, what it really meant is that stations were reluctant to air controversial material.  It costs money to broadcast and giving some irate hoosier free air time to voice his opinion about some topic was not profitable.  The answer is to stick with the straight story, claim to do "unbiased" reporting, and stay away airing opinions and reports that run counter to the accepted national narrative.

The Fairness Doctrine ended in 1987, allowing the rise of talk radio and the "rightwing" news network called Fox.  By that time, however, a couple of generations had become used to the idea that network news talking heads like Cronkite and Rather were simply delivering the facts.  The imagery of television news furthered this impression.  It must be right because we saw it as it happened, right before our eyes.  The truth is that "objective" reporting is quite often not what it seems.  Many times the deception is in what goes unspoken and in what is not shown on the screen.

Left or right, the media remains largely statist/collectivist.  Whether advocating for police militarization in the name of "law and order" or for disarming private citizens in the name of "safety," the mass media wants most of the power to rest in the hands of our betters in the government.

Amazingly, Hillary Clinton, despite her lack of achievement and her history of duplicity, remains a viable candidate on the left with the help of a plethora of unbiased journalists who know what's best for us, while Jeb "Open Borders" Bush remains a leading candidate on the right with the support of the fair and balanced blondes.

Big Media, Big Govenment, Big Banks, Big Anything isn't working all that well for us as middle-class and working-class taxpayers.  In fact, the whole she-bang is Too Damn Big.

One post-script thought that struck me as I was reading something else:  we say that history is written by the winners.  We also say that journalism is the first draft of history.  When it comes to corruption, it is increasingly apparent that corruption is what the winners say it is, with the help of that first draft.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Netanyahu Controversy

This is just a reminder that Netanyahu did not accept the invitation to speak before a joint session of Congress until the Obama regime had been notified.  All this howling, hand-wringing, pearl-clutching, and boycotting is just so much kabuki theater by Obama and his Democrat allies.

No president gets to decide who should or should not be invited to address a joint session of Congress.  Congress, we would remind Obama, is a separate branch which our constitutional law expert might recall hearing about in his studies.  Protocol says the Executive Branch should be notified, and notified it was.  The rest is simply typical political blarney and malarkey.  From the Examiner link above:

Although Boehner only informed the White House less than three hours before the official announcemen, they never objected. According to official timelines, Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer then proceeded to notify the White House, State Department and embassies as per protocol. Since there was, no objections from the White House Netanyahu thought it was appropriate to accept, which he did. (Link in the original)

The White House waited until the invitation was accepted to object so they could act like petulant children -- which is pretty much what they are.  Obama has made it clear time after time that he has no respect for the Constitution, the rule of law, or the checks and balances of tripartite government when they conflict with his will to power and to getting his way.  He proves, again, that he is a far better tyrant than he is a man.