Sunday, February 28, 2010

Charity vs. Entitlements

Today's American Thinker has an article, by Roger Banks entitled Obama and Charity that expresses very well what I was trying to say in a one sided debate with my wife yesterday. Go read the whole thing, then come back.

Read it? Good.

Continuing his lament over what he calls an "erosion of civility in the public square," President Obama chose the setting of this year's national prayer breakfast to admonish his ill-mannered opponents. "Surely you can question my policies," he said, "without questioning my faith."

However noble the spirit to rebel against a directive that so brazenly chills the content of political speech -- scolding those who "poison the well of public opinion" while seeking to purge from that well opinions not to the liking of the lords of decorum -- responding impulsively proves unnecessary.

It's unnecessary because Obama himself, in the same speech, raises the question for us, by linking his faith to his policies. "God's grace," he said, "is expressed through ... the efforts of our entire government."
This little attempt at rhetorical blackmail conflates government entitlements with true charity, and does not reflect God's grace, but rather pure power politics. Let's take a look at it shall we? Every time Obama sends out a check for a welfare payment, he uses taxes. Taxes are payments taken out of the hands of productive citizens at the point of a gun. Oh, sure, some may give it up "voluntarily", but if they did not, you can be sure that force would be used to obtain it anyway, so that the analogy of a gun is indeed appropriate. If anyone else obtained funds from a person by arms, or the threat of arms, that person would be considered an armed robber, and be accused of theft. So, Obama uses stolen money to pay off some of the electorate for votes, then accuses the productive citizens who rightly complain of being uncharitable. Worse still, Obama now claims credit for being charitable, while using stolen money from other people to do it. I think I have read this before...oh yes, it was called Robin Hood.

And what of the person receiving such payments? Are they grateful? Are they inspired to change their ways, pull themselves up by their boot straps, and become productive citizens themselves? Sadly, the answer is often, no. You see, these welfare payments are not marketed as "charity" but rather as entitlements, something owed to these people, for what is never said. Nobody wants to hurt any one's feelings by calling it charity, you understand. Thus, by making welfare an entitlement, Obama creates a permanent dependency class, while denying people the opportunity to realize their dependency and do something about it.

Now, compare that to true Christian charity. In Christian charity, the giver gives of his own free will and accord, from his own substance, after praying and deciding for himself how much to give, and to whom. The giver could have used those funds for anything, but chooses to give to the particular person or program, so feels his money is well spent. The person receiving the funds is grateful, precisely because the person giving could have spent his funds elsewhere. Interestingly, the one who gives is also grateful for having had the opportunity to have the kind of wealth that makes giving possible in the first place. Gratitude generates more good will, which causes more giving.

Perhaps, Mr. Banks sums it up best:
At best, entitlements are based not on faith, but on fear -- fear that love and charity are not enough. Yet for people to give more, government must tax less. Now, there's a policy that really would require faith...even faith in the miracle of Scrooge on Christmas morning.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sen. Ihofe Demands DOJ Investigation of Climategate

Pajamas Media brings news that Sen. Inhofe is asking the DOJ to investigate climategate. As many of the commenters note, no one expects the DOJ to take Inhofe seriously, nor do they expect to see AlGore defending himself before Congress. But there is value none the less in taking official notice of Climategate. The MSM in this country has buried the story, hoping to proceed as if nothing happened. By raising a stink in the Senate, the story will get out after all, making it harder to keep ignoring it.

Meanwhile, the American Thinker today has a piece by Edward R. Long entitled
Pending American Temperaturegate which reports that some fancy shenanigans have been going on over at NASA with the temperature data reported for the United States. Seems they may have been systematically adjusting the data upwards. Dr. Hansen seems to have some 'slainin to do.

Finally, again at the American Thinker today, Rex McBride explains why Al Gore is Lying low. Mr. McBride outlines the civil, and criminal cases that may await AlGore if investors in his "green" companies lose money due to Climategate. Mr. Gore could face civil RICO suits.

I usually dismiss big conspiracy theories out of hand. The Truther theory, for instance, has too many people involved, and the rewards are too small. But the Goofball Wormening "conspiracy" is different. The money to be made if it could be pulled off amount to trillions of dollars over the next 100 years. The money was expected to be stolen from ordinary people all over the world through their fuel and anything that used energy. But that wasn't the worst; no. Worse was that Americans were lectured that this was necessary because they were personally destroying the earth by driving SUVs. So, they put a big guilt trip on everyone, then offered to smooth things over if only we would hand them some of our hard earned money. It was a classic blackmail scheme. And they nearly sold it. That we were spared is not because of our doing, but in all probability because the Russians didn't want this either. It is time the Climate politicians/scientists and those that facilitated the lie face up to justice.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mike Adams on the Van Gorder letter

Mike Adams has an excellent read today at entitled Ideology to Die For. It's been a while since Mr. Adams did an article on guns, but when he does, he generally hits a home run. This article is no exception. A quote:

It is a truism to say that there are many anti-gun ideologues among our educational elites. But few are as honest as Doug Van Gorder – a math teacher at Brockton High School. He admits that he would rather lose a child than exercise his right to defend himself with a gun. In the wake of a recent school shooting, he wrote this in a Letter to the Editor of the Boston Globe:

Some propose overturning laws that made schools gun-free zones even for teachers who may be licensed to securely carry concealed firearms elsewhere. They argue that barring licensed-carry only ensures a defenseless, target-rich environment.

But as a progressive, I would sooner lay my child to rest than succumb to the belief that the use of a gun for self-defense is somehow not in itself a gun crime.
Morally speaking, I have no problem with anti-gun ideologues who wish to place themselves in peril by waiving their rights of self-defense. You almost have to respect someone who is willing to die for his beliefs. But when he decides that others should also die for his beliefs the real trouble begins.
I had seen Mr. Van Gorder's letter to the editor earlier, and wondered if he was temperamentally suited to teaching at a high school. I would not like to know that my grand kids were in his hands. I would always be wondering whether they would be safe, or whether they would be sacrificed on the alter of his evidently pacifist beliefs should a situation arise. But Mr. Adams makes the larger point that these people want to impose their ideology on everyone else too.

Under our Constitution, you have certain rights guaranteed. You have, for example, the freedom to keep and bear arms. Unstated, but corollary to that right is the right NOT to keep and bear arms, or not to use them even if you do bear them. All of our rights work in the same way. You have freedom of speech, which includes the right not to speak. You have freedom of religion, which includes the right to not practice a religion. Do you begin to see the genius of our Founders in framing our Constitution. My neighbor and I can have totally different beliefs, and can live according to those differences in peace. Under Mr. Van Gorder's ideology, only one side can live according to their beliefs, the other side can not.

Update 2/25/2010: According to Kurt Hoffman, this letter to the editor was a satire. Sorry to get everyone riled up over it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Glenn Beck at CPAC

Glenn Beck gives the Keynote Speech at this year's CPAC. It is really worth watching it. The talk about what the Statue of Liberty really represented to the French moved me to tears. Go and watch the whole thing.

Call to Prosecute the Warmistas

Another calls for criminal prosecution of the Climategate hoaxsters. Selwyn Duke explains in the American Thinker article today entitled Time to Turn Up the Heat on the Warmistas just what fraud they have committed:

Yet, amidst this exposition of fact and exposure of fiction, one point never changes: We have been had. And one question remains: Will justice be done?

Let us be clear on the gravity of the Climateers' crime: They have used billions of our tax money to fund fraudulent science. And why?

For the purposes of promoting policies that would steal billions more.

And what happens now? Do they just get to say "Oops" and slink away?
It appears they may at that. If that happens, it becomes incumbent on the rest of us to ostracize and shame them at every opportunity. They can not be allowed to just slink away.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Guns to be allowed in National Parks Again

Daniel White has a good piece on the change over to the new regime of allowing concealed carry of handguns in National parks if the State allows concealed carry in State parks. His article can be seen here. White of course is talking about Ohio, where State law permits guns in parks, similar to Virginia and several other States. Here in North Carolina, not so much. Among the seemingly endless list of prohibited places is, amazingly, State parks. The reasoning behind including State parks on the list is a mystery, though in all probability you will find some similar type of thinking:

"The big problem is that park visitors will now be forced to rely on the judgment of those carrying weapons in our parks for our safety . . . and that's not an ideal recipe," she said.
Let's take apart this little pack of lies and deceit, shall we?

First of all, her "safety" has always relied on her own awareness and wits to keep her safe. The police will help, I'm sure, if they can, and they happen to be there. But the chances of them being there are incredibly small. That she does not know these things says more about her than about any licences concealed carrier she happens to encounter while in the park. Along similar lines is the notion that somehow licensed concealed carriers endanger the children in a park, rather than serving as a first line of defense against those who might kidnap and abuse children. Personally, I'd rather have a few armed parents floating about keeping an eye on their kids and my grand kids.

Then there is the fact that outside the park, she still has to rely, as she says, on the "judgement of people carrying weapons" if she doesn't see to her own defense. How do these people carrying weapons go from being no threat on the street, to becoming a threat after crossing the boundary of the park? Does the park have a magnetizer beam that changes people into monsters inside its boundary? Of course, that is not true. The truth is that criminals have always carried, even in National parks. Only the good guys have been disarmed by this policy. The new policy simply levels the field a bit.

Then there is the nature of a park like Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This is a sprawling park, were people actually live, and some do business within it's boundaries. Some roadways go through the park, and it is difficult to avoid crossing through, even if you do not have business in the park itself. Do people who live in the park have to give up a Constitutionally guaranteed right? What of business owners? What about the concealed carrier who happens to take one of the roads through the park? Do they become felons?

Go read the whole thing. Each time there is a loosening of gun rights, there are always predictions of the return of the Wild West, and of blood in the streets. These things never happen, but that doesn't stop the gun grabbers from claiming it anew each and every time. It is high time that folks started laughing at them each time the hysteria starts.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Do Peaceniks Really Want Peace?

"What is it about peaceniks that makes them so violent?" is the question asked today over at the American Thinker in a piece by Henry Percy entitled Killing Republicans is OK for the Left?

I have pondered this interesting phenomenon with respect to anti-gunners. But of course, a peacenik is almost 99% guaranteed to also be an anti-gunner. My thoughts? These people are barely in control of their own emotions and impulses most of the time. They then make the classic mistake of projecting onto everyone else these same shortcomings in personality. Since they can't trust themselves with a gun, they assume they can't trust you with one either.

What they don't realize is that just as the knowledge of the lethal power of an automobile causes most of us to operate it carefully to avoid mayhem and death to ourselves and others, so the knowledge of the lethal power of a weapon causes most of us to behave in a manner such that we won't have to use it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Siren Song of Wind Energy

For those who are lulled by the idea of "alternative energy," the American Thinker has a pretty comprehensive article on the current state of wind power by Andrew Walden entitled Wind Energy's Ghost. I have to confess that even I have looked at how much power whips around at times, and have thought "if we could just capture some of it." It all seems so simple. Put up a turbine, attach it to a generator, and voila', free energy for running all sorts of stuff. Alas, the engineering problems make wind energy an unrealizable idea.

Some quotes:

The ghosts of Kamaoa are not alone in warning us. Five other abandoned wind sites dot the Hawaiian Isles -- but it is in California where the impact of past mandates and subsidies is felt most strongly. Thousands of abandoned wind turbines littered the landscape of wind energy's California "big three" locations -- Altamont Pass, Tehachapi, and San Gorgonio -- considered among the world's best wind sites.

Built in 1985, at the end of the boom, Kamaoa soon suffered from lack of maintenance. In 1994, the site lease was purchased by Redwood City, CA-based Apollo Energy.

Cannibalizing parts from the original 37 turbines, Apollo personnel kept the declining facility going with outdated equipment. But even in a place where wind-shaped trees grow sideways, maintenance issues were overwhelming. By 2004 Kamaoa accounts began to show up on a Hawaii State Department of Finance list of unclaimed properties. In 2006, transmission was finally cut off by Hawaii Electric Company.

California's wind farms -- then comprising about 80% of the world's wind generation capacity -- ceased to generate much more quickly than Kamaoa. In the best wind spots on earth, over 14,000 turbines were simply abandoned. Spinning, post-industrial junk which generates nothing but bird kills.

It turns out that wind turbines require lots of maintenance. That means lots of people and parts to maintain them, which adds to the costs. Then there is the problem of what to do when the wind isn't blowing, or isn't blowing hard enough to generate enough electricity. Turns out you need coal fired, or nuclear back up idling, which greatly decreases the benefits. You can read in the article the actual generated electricity vs. the calculated capacity. If your car performed this badly, you would probably sell it, or junk it.

The thing is, we have already had plenty of experience to go on from Europe, where Denmark and Spain have put these ideas into practice. We can see that they don't work. We don't need to stick our finger into the electric socket. We can already see what happens when other children do. So, who are the people being represented by our esteemed "representatives?" It is certainly not us.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Climategate Conspirator Confesses to Faud

So, Phil Jones of the East Anglia Climate Research Unit confesses to fraud according to Marc Sheppard in the American Thinker article entitled Climategate's Phil Jones Confesses to Climate Fraud. So when are charges to be brought? Many people who bought into this hoax can be forgiven. But people who claimed to be "climate scientists" like Phil Jones and Michael Mann need to charged with fraud, and forced to make restitution, to the degree that they can, of funds that were, in the final analysis, stolen from taxpayers. The money quote is here:

By now, Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) should require no introduction, so let’s get right to it. In a BBC Q&A and corresponding interview released Friday, the discredited Climategate conspirator revealed a number of surprising insights into his true climate beliefs, the most shocking of which was that 20th-century global warming may not have been unprecedented. As the entire anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory is predicated on correlation with rising CO2 levels, this first-such confession from an IPCC senior scientist is nothing short of earth-shattering.
The article is longish, but go read the whole thing anyway. Towards the end, Sheppard has this warning:

Both Kyoto II and the domestic cap-and-tax scams appear to be dead for the moment. But, while any such move would likely be tied up in the courts for years, EPA head Lisa Jackson’s threats to proceed with carbon regulation remain very much alive.
Coupled with Obama's vow to put much of his agenda in the form of executive decrees, I hope Congress is moving to stop this nonsense, or to lay the groundwork for impeaching him if he proceeds. Surely there must be a Democrat or two who place country over politics, or at least place their own power over Obama's agenda.

"Only Ones" Confiscating Enough*

Courtesy of David Codrea of the War on Guns comes this delicious irony from
William Griggs posting at Lew Rockwell.

It seems that that the arms collection of one Gregory Girard of Manchester-By-The-Sea, Massachusetts was confiscated after his wife complained to police that he believed that martial law was imminent. Quote:

Granted, the invocation of that cliche is part of the familiar gun-grabber liturgy, but it doesn’t apply here, since the “weaponry” referred to was never on the “street” to begin with. It consisted of several firearms legally purchased by 45-year-old Gregory D. Girard, a computer consultant whose wife — was her maiden name Morozov, perchance? — told the authorities about her husband’s supposedly alarming view that martial law is imminent.

Since it is unacceptable for people to believe that government agents will carry out paramilitary raids to confiscate firearms, a paramilitary force was sent to Girard’s home to confiscate his firearms.
Those weapons are now “safely” in the hands of the most dangerous criminal element in any society — the people who pull triggers and commit other acts of violence on behalf of the political class.
The emphasis is mine. Go read the whole thing and savor the irony.

* The title borrows David Codrea's meme "Only Ones" because I am not clever enough to have thought of it. If the title seems vaguely reminiscent of a Codrea post, well what can I say but that imitation is the highest form of flattery...(sitting here red faced.)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Throwing Snowballs is a Felony?

This is something I have been meaning to put into a post for a while now, but it's not an easy subject, or one that is easily defensible. I have been bothered for some time by the spread of what I call the "felonization of living." Ayn Rand had a belief that innocent men could not be controlled, and therefore the State would try to make as many things criminal as possible, in order to control people. It often seems to be a prophetic thought in today's world. The latest example comes by way of a post by Kurt Hoffman of Armed and Safe and seems truly outrageous-throwing snowballs. Go read the report at The Smoking Gun. If convicted, these two young men will have their rights to vote and to own or carry weapons taken away for the rest of their lives, all over throwing snowballs, an activity engaged in by youngsters from time immemorial.

Felonies used to be serious crimes, like murder and manslaughter, rape, armed robbery or theft of truly large monetary amounts. Minor crimes and misdeeds were punished by fines, or a month or two in a local jail. Of course, there were no drug crimes legal or illegal, before the early part of the twentieth century. Any firearm could be legally owned by anyone who had the funds to buy it until 1934 (excluding unfortunately, Blacks, who were subject to the "black codes" which still haunt us today.) During the course of the Twentieth Century and continuing into the Twenty-First, more and more stuff has become a crime, and "felonious" has been defined down.

Martha Stewart is a felon. Let us suppose that she has a stalker, a rabid fan who wants to know the secret of making a lace doily that sits flat. If Martha Stewart felt a need to defend her life from her rabid stalker, she would be prohibited from carrying a gun to do so. Do you think Martha Stewart is a danger to herself or others if she had a gun? How about an average person who happens to have jumped through all the hoops to have gotten a concealed handgun license. Is a licensed concealed carrier a danger to you or anyone else if he carries his weapon into a Post Office? What magic does the Post Office posses that makes him a danger there, but immediately outside renders him harmless? Similarly, one could ask about all the other prohibited places North Carolina lists such as restaurants, theatres, banks, etc.

I ask you to consider that perhaps the course we have been taking has made matters worse, not better. More people today are in prison, yet we feel less safe than ever before. The felonization of living has not worked to make us a better people, but only proved the Founders of our Republic right. David Codrea has a saying that if I may paraphrase, if a man can not be trusted with a gun, then he shouldn't be allowed to walk among us without a keeper. That is part of the answer. The other part is to stop making things illegal. If a crime is serious, then it should be punished seriously. If a "crime" is only so because someone has defined it as such, repeal it. If a crime is a minor misdeed, then lesser measures should be taken. Throwing snowballs certainly fits the one of the latter categories.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

In King, NC, You Are Only as Free as the State Says You Are

John Jacob H has a good commentary on the curfew and state of emergency passed in King, NC entitled Where The Hell is King, North Carolina?. Apparently, in response to David Codrea's question "By Whose Authority?" John Jacob H answers by the Mayor's own authority. So, a Mayor of a small town has the authority to declare a state of emergency and declare that people will not be allowed to have their weapons during a time when, by official proclamation, people might need their weapons. And this because of some snow? Hmmm. This sounds like Hurricane Katrina all over again.

During Hurricane Katrina, the police went door to door confiscating peoples legally owned firearms. Homeowners were disarmed at precisely the time when they might need to defend themselves from looters and other criminals because the police were admittedly not going to be there.

Why? Why is this happening in a supposedly "free State?"

Well, it could be because of her. "Representative" Deborah Ross has bottled up nearly every pro gun bill that has come before her committee. Right now she has the Castle Doctrine bill bottled up in Committee, and won't let it out for a vote of the House. It has already passed the Senate, by an overwhelming majority. North Carolinians need this bill to defend themselves after they are forced to defend themselves. After we get Castle Doctrine, we need to work on securing our weapons in times of emergency from being stolen by "authorities" acting under color of law. Oh, by the way, we also need eliminate bans on restaurant carry, theatre carry, park carry... But none of this will happen unless and until we vote out ACLU lawyer Deborah Ross.

Update, and correction: Apparently, NC had a bill, HB 257, which could have prevented this abuse of power. It was introduced by several pro-gun legislators, including Representative Bryan Holloway of the district that includes King. However, in this case, it was denied a hearing by House Majority leader, Hugh Holliman. So, "Representative" Ross was innocent in this case. However, in the case of the Castle Doctrine, she is still the one holding the bill in committee, and refusing to let it be voted on by the entire House. And the Mayor of King, NC still deserves all the opprobrium that can be heaped on him for being a petty tyrant.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

How Many Guns Are Enough?

John Longenecker asks, in his Los Angeles Gun Rights Examiner column How Many Guns are Enough? on February 4, 2010. It's a serious question. Interestingly, what he is talking about is not how many guns an individual may find enough, because the answer to that question is largely unknowable. Rather, what Longenecker is estimating is the number of people actively carrying guns at any time in a community. The answer may surprise you. Longenecker figures that if just 10% of the community were actively carrying guns when in public, that it would be possible for anyone to walk down our streets anywhere, at any time of the day.

Interesting. But go read the whole thing. We might debate the actual numbers, but I think the basic idea is sound.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Government: Robbing Us Blind

The American Thinker has a great article up today by Mark W. Hendrickson entitled Our National Blind Spot that makes the case, again, that taxing one person to subsidize another constitutes robbery. A quote:

But if this isn't robbery, then what is it? If the state's would-be victims resist being plundered, the state will retaliate by confiscating even more of their property and/or incarcerating them. The democratic process rests on force and the implied threat of force every step of the way.

We don't bat an eye anymore when someone glibly proposes "spreading the wealth." In fact, many Americans enjoy spreading the wealth, as long as it isn't their own. In a recent survey, three out of four Americans agreed that Obama and Congress should raises taxes on that minority of Americans with annual incomes above $200,000. Apparently, most Americans believe that Obama, Pelosi, Reid, and their minions have more of a right to spend those dollars than the citizens who earned them.

If you think this line of thought is crazy, then let me ask you a question: What percentage of a person's honest income should he or she be allowed to keep? The only guidelines I am aware of are "all of it" (the original American way, since income taxes were unconstitutional until 1913) or nothing beyond what anybody else (except the governing elite) can keep, according to the communist principle "from each according to his ability to each according to his need."

Between those two polar extremes, any percentage one chooses would be arbitrary. In practice, the degree to which property is redistributed depends on whatever shifting political coalition has enough votes -- enough power -- at any given moment. Stripped of grandiose pretenses and specious idealism, contemporary political life has descended into a constant, contentious squabble to see who gets what at the expense of whom.
I would be all in favor of getting rid of the income tax, and instead imposing a national sales tax at the retail level on every item bought or sold. Of course, the Left points out that such a system would hit the poor (and throw in women and minorities for good measure) the hardest. But, on the other hand, everyone would have to participate, and with some skin in the game, would actively try to keep taxes to the minimum. As it stands, 49% of Americans are constantly agitating for more, more, more at the expense of the "rich," who politicians assure us, are an endless pool of funds that we can take from whenever we identify another want. Incidentally, we can not allow a national sales tax to be hidden, but must make it visible for all to see. At the same time, we must also make visible the taxes imposed on gasoline, liquor, and everything else that gets taxed. Until we do this, I suspect we will not be able to get spending under control. If we can get out in the open just what it is costing Americans for their government, more folks will question just what they are getting for their money.

Another way to look at it comes from Eternity Road's estimable Curmudgeon Emeritus take on the issue here. However, while the Curmudgeon comes at it from a different perspective, in the end it is the same: theft. In this case, the Government is stealing from one who pays taxes to fund another whose lifestyle the person paying does not approve. The end result is not only injury but insult.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cuba, again

Last week we had an article on Che Guevara exposing what a sick, creepy, and murderous excuse for a human being he was. Today, Castro's Cuba is in the news again with this piece from the David Codrea, the National Gun Rights Examiner, entitled Cuba's Forced Amnesty Demonstrates Tyrannical Intent of Gun Control. Go read the whole thing, as it is fascinating. We seldom hear these details of a truly sordid history, but instead are treated an unending diet of the "wonders of Castro's health care plan", or "Castro's education system." One would almost believe that Cuba was an island paradise where everyone had a PhD and lived to be 100 years old. The truth is much, much uglier.

Each time the true intent behind gun control and gun registration is exposed, one would think a few more people would "get it." But, just so we are clear: the only purpose of registration is so the "authorities" have a list to go after when the pass a law banning guns.

Still, there are calls for registration, and for "sensible gun control" laws. People ask why we can't just compromise a bit, have a little give a take. Well, Codrea's article above says it all. This has been the history of gun registration everywhere it has been tried, including in New York City and California. The history of the Twentieth Century is one of us compromising our principles for the constant promise that this time it will make everyone safer, only to discover that it doesn't, and a few years later the gun grabbers were back for more. Ben Franklin was right.

So, the lesson I learned from it is to simply stand on principle. No more. Shall not be infringed means what it says. The only law I would entertain is a law to start repealing all those unconstitutional laws.