Sunday, July 29, 2012

Who Knew?

Well, here's something a little different. Some new studies indicate that moderate (and in one case, not so moderate) coffee consumption lowers the risk of diabetes. heart attack and stroke, cancer and dementia. Whew!  The news, at News Max is entitled Coffee the Wonder Drug.

I like coffee, and have never had a bad reaction from it. Some people get heart palpitations, and some get the twitches.  I get neither.  I drink Starbucks Sumatra, Morning Joe, and Espresso Roast, in a big mug. Of course, it is too expensive to buy at a Starbucks shop all the time, so I buy it in 1 pound bags in the grocery store where it is cheaper. I make a pot in the morning, and it is gone by day's end. Yes, at $9 a pound, it is a luxury, but I allow myself that indulgence.

I have tried other roasters' coffees over time, but Starbucks is, IMHO, the best roaster and blender of coffee that I have tasted, and I have tasted a lot of coffee.  Some people scrimp on using beans in their coffee, thinking that a weaker coffee will be more tolerable to their palate.  Actually, just the opposite is true.  I use six scoops ( The scoop is left over from my Mr. Coffee days.  The machine is long gone, but I still have the scoop all these years later.) to make a 12 cup pot.  Yes, the coffee comes out strong, but not bitter, and not too much acid.  See, its all in the balance.  At work, they have a Bunn coffee machine, that uses little packets of pre-portioned coffee.  The substance that comes out is weak, and you can literally read a newspaper through it.  Bleckkk...  Of all the fast food chains, I think McDonalds has the best coffee, though it is not great, mind you, just tolerable.  The best still comes at a local Starbucks store.

Note, for Internet trolls: I have no business relationship with Starbucks.  I'm just a satisfied customer.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fundamental Principle of Self Defense

Selwyn Duke is a thoughtful writer of commentary, so I eagerly dove into his article today entitled What Everyone Forgets when Debating Gun Control at the American Thinker. I was hoping to find some great principles, and a relief from the utilitarian arguments that generally pass for gun control debates. While he doesn't bring up general moral principles, he does bring up good points, and it is a worthwhile read. For example:
The apocryphal saying, "God made some men big and others small, but Samuel Colt made them equal," gets at the point here. Whether it's a smaller person or a smaller group, firearms tend to even the odds. They help create parity, and that's not what criminals want -- they want easy prey. Thus, like a predator in the wilds that generally won't attack a creature more than half its size, even if a criminal is armed himself, he'll be reluctant to tackle a target that can target him back.

Even more significantly, as Prohibition, prostitution, and drugs have proven, illegal isn't synonymous with unavailable. So, again, let's assume that a gun criminalization that left firearms in the hands of a few criminals did save lives overall. What should we conclude if those armed miscreants could nonetheless ply their dark trade with little resistance? What should we feel if good people were declawed and rendered powerless to thwart their evil?
The principle raised here is that guns make possible a civilized society, as we have come to understand it. Otherwise, the old, the infirm, or the weak are ruled by the young, the powerful, and the strong. Women, how would you like to live in such a world?

The other day, I read a news story about an 89 year old widower who fended off two burly men breaking into her house. She merely pointed her .38 revolver at them, and they immediately fled. It is a typical Defensive Gun Use (DGU). I, myself had a DGU in which I didn't even have to draw my weapon, let alone point it, or fire a shot. Both incidents could well have ended in tragedy had not a gun been available. Both ended with all parties walking away. Estimates of the number of such DGUs is all over the place. Gary Kleck, who at the time was firmly in the gun control camp, estimated some 2,500,000 times a year that someone in America uses a gun for self defense. Most never report these uses, because there is nothing to report. No blood in the street, no shots fired, and often just having a gun is enough; no need to draw it or make scene. Kleck's numbers, of course, have been criticized, but even the DOJ admits to between 80,000-100,000 DGUs per year, which is double to triple the number of gun deaths.  My point is that the story above is not an isolated incident, but most such uses never see ink on a page.

A more fundamental principle is that God gave you life, and only God has the right to take it away. (This, by the way, is the reason why suicide is considered homicide, and the Catholic Church will not bury you in consecrated ground if you are a suicide.) You have a moral duty to defend your life, and the lives of your loved ones. Your wife, likewise, has a moral duty to self defense, and defense of her children. The most effective way to do that is to carry a gun, and learn to use it. Now, some would argue that the assailant also has a right to life, and that only God can take that life, and I would agree. But the assailant takes a risk that he is not forced to take. As such, it is a voluntary risk that he could be killed as a result of assaulting you.  In other words, it is he who is spitting on God's great gift both to you and to him, and not you.  This is why the pacifist argument can not be sustained.  While not taking up arms against another who has done you no harm is moral and admirable, none the less even pacifists must defend themselves when assaulted.

Seen in this light, the utilitarian arguments become moot.  It does not matter whether one person, or 30,000 are killed with a gun, because you have the absolute duty to defend yourself.  You may not shirk that duty, and the most effective way to ensure success in that duty is to carry a loaded gun with you everywhere you go. 

As for Duke's arguments that dangerous activities that are take up voluntarily should be similarly banned if we propose to ban guns, the Left would say that those risks are purely voluntary, whereas being shot is not.  I have had this debate on environmental regulations, where I point out that incredibly small risks are seen as important to regulate, while relatively large risks are seen as unimportant.  To me, as to Mr. Duke apparently, dead is dead.  But the Left makes a distinction, without a difference in my opinion.  I suspect that it is simply a way to limit debate, and keep us focused on utilitarian arguments and on their turf.      

The War on Guns: Something Must Be Done

The War on Guns: Something Must Be Done

Go over and read the linked article.  Yes, something must be done, and like David, I dispair of us being able to do it nicely.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why Gun Grabbers Persist in Dancing in the Blood of the Innocents

Thomas Sowell as usual has a clear thinking article up at yesterday's National Review Online entitled The Colorado Shooting and the Media which points out that contrary to the MSM's constant harping that our "lax" gun laws are the problem, gun laws either don't make any difference whatsoever, or are in fact positive. But the facts have no effect when the media seem committed to a vision of society in which nobody carries a gun. A quote to get you over to the story:
You would never know, from what they and other gun-control advocates have said, that there is a mountain of evidence that gun-control laws not only fail to control guns but are often counterproductive. For those people who still think facts matter, it is worth presenting some of those facts.
Which he then proceeds to do.

Another great blog, run by a fellow just down the road a bit, is Sean Sorrentino's An NC Gun Blog which daily pounds out news story after news story showing the failure of gun control at every turn. Many posts expose the fact that the people doing the shooting, and the people being shot are often criminals engaging in what criminals do. They are not legal carriers, but still they have guns.  So, how effective was the gun control?  Then there are the stories out of (Formerly) Great Britain and Australia. I am always amazed that here we have island nations, with strict gun laws everywhere, and yet the rate of crimes committed with guns are higher than ever. In England, they are now making carrying knives illegal. What's next, one wonders.

Of course, I have to take issue to with the notion, often expressed when gun grabbers start talking about gun laws, that our laws are so "lax." To hear them tell it, you can walk into any of the millions of street corner gun dealers on a whim, decide to take home a cute little Kimber or Glock, and just walk out with it. No, there are no instant background checks, no paperwork, no questioning to see if you might be a straw buyer, and in some States, no waiting period. But the experience is quite different. Gun stores are not that plentiful. Nobody buys a gun on a whim. Everybody who buys a gun must prove to the satisfaction of some bureaucrat that he is a trust worthy individual who won't abuse the privilege granted to him. (Note, the present system assumes you are guilty until you prove a lack of evidence.  Even so, you are still held to be suspicious.) Then, and only then, may the gun dealer sell you that piece of hardware. Gun dealers have to keep the paper work, which includes your name and the serial number of the weapon forever, forming a sort of registry.  Since the right to own and carry a gun is always under attack, despite the clear meaning of the 2nd Amendment, one always has to make strategic purchases; for this could be the last gun one may be allowed to buy.

As for the so-called "gun show loophole,"  I have been to dozens of Raleigh gun shows, and a handful in Virginia as well. The procedures are the same, with the exception of people selling their own property. These are the people with one or two guns walking around the show, often with a "for sale" sign poking out of the barrel, and hoping to raise funds to purchase something else. Thomas Sowell concludes with:
The real problem, both in discussions of mass shootings and in discussions of gun control, is that too many people are too committed to a vision to allow mere facts to interfere with their beliefs — and the sense of superiority that those beliefs give them.
The gun grabbers can only continue to push that agenda by ignoring what Sowell calls a mountain of evidence. And it is a mountain. John Lott, in his book More Guns, Less Crime presents county by county data over time, showing that where guns are allowed to be carried, violent crime rates fall. The evidence is overwhelming, and hasn't been refuted in the 14 years since its publication. There are, of course, the moral arguments, which hold more water, but in taking the Left in their lair, with utilitarian arguments, Lott has done a yeoman's work for the cause.

The other day, our resident Leftist, who in true Leftist fashion, calls himself a Liberal, started a conversation with me "Have you ever read Andrew Sullivan" "Yes," I replied. "Now there's a true conservative!" "Well, not so fast..." The nascent argument was quelled when the report of the death of a colleague was announced. Now, Andrew Sullivan is a gay, Catholic, British writer, who styles himself as a "conservative," but who at one time edited the very progressive The New Republic. Now, I note the gay aspect only because Sullivan is openly gay, and pushes the gay agenda. I note that he is Catholic because he himself seems to feel that is relevant. Andrew Sullivan may be conservative by British standards, but he is not a conservative in the American mold. Our resident Leftists also said at one point that Reagan couldn't get nominated today, which proved that Conservatives were off their meds, or something along those lines. The implication was that we have changed.

The whole thing reminded me of a piece Jonah Goldberg wrote back on June 15th entitled The Myth of the Good Conservative. Goldberg:
My daughter learned a neat rhetorical trick to avoid eating things she doesn’t like. “Daddy, I actually really like spinach, it’s just that this spinach tastes different.”

Democrats and the journalists who love them play a similar game with Republicans and conservatives. “Oh, I have lots of respect for conservatives,” goes the typical line, “but the conservatives we’re being served today are just so different. Why can’t we have Republicans and conservatives like we used to?”
The point of this little digression is that it is their ideology that prevents them form seeing the facts. There I stand before our resident Leftist, talking about the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. but his ideology will not allow him to see, so he creates a straw man to knock down.  In the process, he drags out Andrew Sullivan as a TRUE conservative. I have no beef with Andrew Sullivan, but he is in fact a left of center moderate writer whose view point is decidedly British. Similarly with the gun grabbers, their ideology can not admit that those icky guns just might be what makes civilized society possible. Because then they would have to admit that the whole project to bring about Utopia is doomed to failure by human nature. Worse than that, if they accepted the facts, they would be forced to become...gasp...those stick in the mud, dull, icky Conservatives!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

So, Our Government Now Thinks it Owns Us?

The issue, whether its ObamaCare, or Gun Control, Fast and Furious, the over reach of agencies like the TSA, the EPA, the ATF, or HHS, is individual liberty. Our system of government is built on the idea of ordered liberty, in which each citizen maintains his responsibilities and duties to each other citizen, and is therefore blessed with liberty to pursue his own happiness. If a citizen does not perform his duties to other citizens, those citizens will necessarily take action to stop him, or acting collectively will take away his liberties.  Understanding and keeping in mind these basic concepts allows you to navigate the seemingly small arguments between Left and Right. They will also help you understand Fay Voshell's outrage as you read Washington's Message to Americans: We Own You. The thesis of Voshell's piece can be found in the first few graphs:
The president's Roanoke speech, the full text of which may be found here, goes beyond mere insult to American entrepreneurs.

Certainly his words are offensive enough to business builders and owners; however, they go beyond mere insult. They go beyond the implication that the collective trumps the individual. They go beyond the trampling of the American dream. They even go beyond a direct attack on personal achievement and the fluid hierarchy that have characterized the American middle class.

His core message, combined with other red-light indicators of a radically leftist political philosophy which includes wealth redistribution, is the message of the almighty and sovereign State:

"We own you."
Here, Voshell gets to the core of Leftist thought, the conceit that the State owns each of us, and is therefore entitled to order us about, to force us to have children, as Hitler did, or to curtail our reproductive activities as did China. It is free to order us to eat our vegetables, to refrain from red meat, or to buy our soft drinks in smaller containers. In short, the State is free to poke and prod, and shape us into what it wants because it owns us, like chattel.  But the thing that makes the United States unique among the nations of the world is that for the first time, the individual citizen was seen to be the source of government, not the other way around.  Governments were seen as a necessary evil, that the citizens could change if it failed to act in their interests, or could revolt against if it acted against their long term interests.  Such ideas, embodied in the Declaration of Independence, were revolutionary, and had never been put into practice before.  Many thought they would not work.

Interestingly, our Progressive ( actually regressive) politicians actually want to take us back to an ancient regime, from which we managed to free ourselves only 236 years ago:

It has been a while since the antique philosophy of the absolute divine right of kings and/or the State has been posited as a positive good. It's been a long time since Thomas Hobbes' argument that an absolute sovereign state could cure the innate tendency toward individualistic selfishness of human beings has been put forth.
For in the current administration's words and actions, we are seeing a trend that portends the complete inversion of the relationship of the American government and the individual citizen as outlined by its foundational documents, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. We are being told that the individual owes his existence to the State instead of the State owing its existence to the people.
The lessons of history have been systematically cut from the curriculum of most schools in favor of teaching skills like "keyboarding" and computers. I have long argued that children don't need to be taught these skills, as they will learn them on there own. Children can always be depended on to figure out the latest and greatest, and to exploit them for their own ends.  But musty old history about long dead men, taken out of context, needs to be made relevant to the lives of children today.  And there is a lot of history to cover.

Frankly, I am convinced that history has been removed from the curriculum, and that what remains is so twisted to satisfy an agenda.  The State, remember, owns us, and wants to make of us good workers earning money to pay as taxes to our owners.  The purpose of education has ceased to be to educate, and has become mere vocational training.  Much of what I, for instance, have learned about history, I have learned on my own.  The more I learn, the more I find I need to know.

Fay Voshell sounds an optimistic note as she believes we will be saved in the end:

But in the end, the Good, the True, and the Just prevail. There is hope. America's people, her institutions, her churches, her businesses, her character, and her foundations yet remain. All are inimical to authoritarianism, be it left or right. Therefore, she will not go quietly into the night.
I know it is sinful, and betrays a lack of faith, but I wonder if it is not too late.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Why Do You Need a Gun in a Theatre

Or are you claiming that people should have to worry about guns as they go out to the theatre, just as they shouldn't have to worry about guns when they are supposed to be learning in school?

Coming late again into the story. My only excuse was that I was working yesterday, and only heard bits a pieces of the story throughout the day. Apparently 12 people were killed, and 50 wounded in the attack. Of course, I pray for the families of the dead, and I pray for the return to health of the injured.

Most of what happened after the shooting in Aurora Colorado was entirely predictable. The usual suspects from Mayor Bloomberg, to the Brady Campaign to CNN and ABC News have come out calling for more restrictive laws on the ownership and carrying of firearms. For news on that, I take you to Anthony Martin's piece in the Examiner entitled Media Exploits Colorado Shooting to Push Gun Control. I will repeat what I have said in past posts: namely that more restrictions on the average gun owner does not translate into lower crime. In this particular case, the AMC Cinemark (Thanks for the correction Sean) Theatre had a no guns policy (Read comment at the end.) The shooter had both the guns and the ammunition legally. There are laws already on the books against murder, and assault with deadly weapon. If he were going to violate these laws, which are well known, what makes you think that he will obey yet one more law. This kind of thinking borders on the irrational, and makes anyone who proposes it look, if not stupid, then irrationally afraid of inanimate objects. It is as if gun grabbers actually believed this. (Note, for the humor challenged out there, that was satire.)

Sean Sorrentino has a good article up at An NC Gun Blog entitled Concealed Carry in Theatres in North Carolina. It is indeed illegal to carry a concealed handgun into theatres in North Carolina. The wording of that provision is somewhat vague, and could be applied to a lot of venues besides movie theatres:  concerts (real concerts, like the Symphony Orchestra), plays, County fairs, the State fair, car shows, boat shows, and...well you get the picture. Going into any of these places, you are forced by State law to place your life in the hands of others.

Only you can decide for yourself what to do about this state of affairs. I do not advocate disobeying the law. But Mike Vanderboegh has a Lesson of Colorado: Ignore Victim Disarmament Zones and Pack Concealed Anyway. It is hard to see where he is wrong. The theatre owners and management don't take their responsibility to protect their customers very seriously. Of course, the State takes no responsibility at all, though they are the ones here in North Carolina telling us we can't take responsibility ourselves. One has to make a decision at some point whether to risk his or her life, and that of his loved ones, or to disobey the law in order to obey a higher law. That is the dilemma the State forces upon us when they make laws restricting our rights.

I don't know if having a citizen with a gun would have made any difference, or how much of a difference.  When someone launches a deadly attack, the outcome is never certain.  But the people who were confronted by this shooter should have had at least a chance to fight back.  Maybe more of them would be alive today.

Update:  From the Hill, Gun Control Calls folowing Shooting, but Few Expect Major Changes. The Dems just can't stand it that you might be able to defend yourself, and thus you don't need them.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The American Way

John Sununu recently apologized for charging that the President 'needs to learn to be an American'. I don't think Sununu should have apologized, nor that he had done anything for which to apologize. The fact is that it is now becoming clear even to the most obtuse that the President holds to Marxism, an ugly, dictatorial, foreign philosophy that simply doesn't have any place in our system of government.

In the event you have not gotten the message yet, Bruce Walker over at the American Thinker has an article today entitled The Marxist Heart of Darkness that tells the real motives of those trying to transform the American political system. Please, go read it all. Read the records of people who lived under such a system, as they recount the horrors they endured. Please understand that these Leftists (and I count the leadership of the Democratic Party in Congress as Leftist) are not simply misguided folk trying to achieve the best for everyone. What they want is power, for power's sake, over you and your neighbors. To achieve and maintain that power, they will terrorize you and anyone who gets in their way, using prison, torture, and death to further their goals. I want to quote just one paragraph of this article, you can read the rest:
Along with deliberate and almost indiscriminant infliction of pain on mankind, Marxists think almost exclusively in terms of lies. Orwell's "doublethink" and "Newspeak" well illustrate this delusion and self-delusion. Marxists boasted of their mendacity. Lenin wrote: "The scientific concept, dictatorship, means nothing more nor less than power which directly rests on violence, which is not limited by any laws or restricted by any absolute rules." Angela Balabanoff, general secretary of the Third Socialist International, confirmed the dishonesty of Bolsheviks: "The Bolshevik leaders were capable of anything to achieve their political and factional ends" (emphasis in the original) (My Life as a Rebel, Balabannoff).
Think of all the lies Obama has told in the three and a half years since he was sworn in. The lies told about his signature legislation, ObamaCare, were so egregious, that a Congressman yelled "You Lie!" during his State of the Union speech. This man would deserve a Hero of the Republic medal, if one existed. But in truth, his lies have become so ubiquitous, I no longer listen to his speeches.

Think also about the way this Regime has wasted the wealth of Americans by giving it to cronies and bundlers (I don't think he has actual friends) and run up debt so large and so fast, it is doubtful we can ever pay it back. I could go on, but you, gentle reader, are as familiar with the epic failure that has been this Regime as I am.

Think to of the many ways this Regime has promoted government handouts, from preventing jobs to attempting to take away the last vestiges of stigma attached to the taking of food stamps and welfare. Daren Jonescu has a piece today at the American Thinker entitled Infantilizing Leftist Morality that explains how the Left benefits from this sort of behavior. It also points out the essential cowardice of people today, who can see what is coming, know what needs to be done, but make no move to do it.

So, what is the American way? If it isn't this, what is it, and how will we know it when we see it?  Judge Andrew Napolitano has a great article up at entitled The Rule of Law. He points out:
The greatest distinguishing factor between countries in which there is some freedom and those where authoritarian governments manage personal behavior is the Rule of Law. The idea that the very laws that the government is charged with enforcing could restrain the government itself is uniquely Western and was accepted with near unanimity at the time of the creation of the American Republic. Without that concept underlying the exercise of governmental power, there is little hope for freedom.
The second leg is that no one is above the law and no one is beneath it. Thus, the law's restraints on force and fraud need to restrain everyone equally, and the law's protections against force and fraud must protect everyone equally. This leg removes from the discretion of those who enforce the law the ability to enforce it or to afford its protections selectively. This principle also requires that the law enforcers enforce the law against themselves. Of course, this was not always the case. In 1628, the British Parliament spent days debating the question "Is the king above the Rule of Law, or is the Rule of Law above the king?" Thankfully, the king lost -- but only by 10 votes out of several hundred cast.
Imagine that. The rule of law, properly understood, would apply to those that make the laws, to those that enforce them, and to those who must obey them alike. A Fast and Furious operation would be seen as breaking the law, and punished. After all, the ATF had the straw buyers in their sites, and had to choose not to enforce the law, when it was within their power to do so. Similarly, the President, taking up arms against a foreign power without a declaration of War would be impeached. An EPA seeking to regulated a harmless naturally occurring gas without the approval of Congress would be punished. But no one does. Napolitano again:
In our era, the violations of the Rule of Law have become most troublesome when the government breaks its own laws. Prosecute Roger Clemens for lying to Congress? What about all the lies Congress tells? Prosecute John Edwards for cheating? What about all the cheating in Congress when it enacts laws it hasn't read? Bring the troops home from the Middle East? What about all the innocents killed secretly by the president using CIA drones? Can't find a way to justify Obamacare under the Constitution? Why not call it what its proponents insisted it isn't -- a tax?
The Judges asks, what are we going to do about it? I am curious to know the answer to that question myself.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Little Truth about "Fair Share" and Taxes

The President has been talking again of raising taxes on certain Americans, in this case the "rich," as a way to close the budget gaps he and his predecessors created.  He hopes that we are too stupid to know that even if we took everything the "rich" owned, it wouldn't begin to pay off the national debt.  He hopes too that nobody reads Thomas Sowell's The Invincible Lie over at He talks constantly about the fact that the evil "rich" don't pay their "fair share."  It has become a democratic talking point.  He wants to position himself rhetorically with the poor...the little against the evil "rich" about whom he rails constantly, while taking campaign donations from those same evil rich folks.  This is known popularly as class warfare.  The pitting of one group against another.  Obama however, has a double whammy, since he can also play the race card, another form of class warfare.

But, is it really true that the rich don't pay their "fair share?"  What is their fair share, anyway?

Taxes, properly considered, are exacted from the population to pay for legitimate government services.  To be considered legitimate, a service must serve all members of the population being taxed, and everyone must have equal access to the services.  Thus, the national defense can be seen to protect everyone.  Everyone has equal opportunity to use the postal services, and the postal service serves everyone.  Having a stable currency, the valuation of which is a known quantity encourages interstate commerce, as do Federal highways.  There are, in other words, legitimate reasons for Federal taxes, but these reasons can be said to be few in number and discreet.

The income tax was introduced with the passage (many insist it was never truly passed) of the 16th Amendment.  People had been trying to go after income since the civil war, feeling that here was a lucrative source of new taxes that would allow them to expand government beyond the Constitution.  And so it has proven.  But it is also vastly unfair, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates statements aside.  The problem comes because people who make less than some arbitrary amount pay no income tax at all.  Above this arbitrary amount, people must pay a progressively greater rate as their income goes up. 

This progressive nature of the income tax is "unfair" by any reasonable definition of the word.  It is also unjust by any reasonable understanding of justice.  Of course the "rich" put up with this without complaining publicly because they have come to believe that they deserve it, like Stockholm syndrome victims. But the rich no more than the poor enjoy the benefits of a national defense, of stable currency, or Federal highways. They can afford it, after all, and it may give them a sense of nobless oblige. But they don't deserve such a sense. The progressive nature of the income tax is also, ironically, unfair and unjust to the poor. Don't laugh, just hear me out. Just as the rich don't deserve to carry around with them their sense of nobless oblige, so the poor don't deserve to carry around with them the sense of victimhood that paying nothing confers on them. They deserve the dignity that they pay too, even if it is a widows mite. There has been much talk of Neal Boortz's "Fair Tax," and I admit that it would be fairer than it is today, but if we just went with a straight percentage, that each person paid, with no deductions for any reasons, and no loopholes, that would be a healthy start.

What about the other side of the equation, the idea that government services should only be those services which benefit the public at large.  What about transfer payments from those who pay taxes, to those who don't.  What about subsidies to "Big Oil," to "Agribusiness," and bailouts to automobile companies and big banks?  Depending on which side of the aisle you sit on, you will likely be incensed about one of these, and sympathetic with the other.  But either way, you are wrong.

When government takes tax money (essentially at the point of a gun) and gives it to either an individual, or to a business, without getting an equal amount of goods or services in return, the transaction can be said to be theft.  If you were to go out and point a gun at someone and say "give me your money," and then turned around and give it to someone else, what would you call it?  Oh, it is often seen as somehow noble to play Robin Hood, but the fact is that you are committing theft.  Robin Hood, remember, only took from the wealthy what they had stolen from the people to begin with.  But here you are taking the legitimate wealth of others to make yourself look better in men's eyes.  Shame on you!  And it is what the government is doing when they make transfer payments to people and businesses, whether they call it welfare, or subsidies, or loans.  To make matters worse, they deny the poor the dignity of earning a living, and deny the business the satisfaction of making it on their own.

A leftists recently pointed that if I didn't agree with him, I was not charitable.  He stated that Christ admonished that "it is easier for a rich man to get into heaven that for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle."  I had to set him straight.  Jesus told the rich young man to sell everything he owned, give to the poor, and follow Jesus.  It was an offer of discipleship.  But it was too much for the rich young man, and he left.  After that there followed the quote above.  But note what Jesus did not say:  he did not say for Caesar to seize the rich young mans possessions at the point of a spear, and redistribute the proceeds to certain people to gain favor with the people.  Charity must be voluntary.  You must take it out of your own pockets, and give it freely.  What we have with the tax code is politicians giving out other peoples money for votes and favors.  That is not charity, that is just plain theft.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nannies with Guns and Badges

Paul Jacobs has a great piece that goes after the countless Nannies with Badges and Guns that seem to dot the landscape today, taking our freedoms and our liberties on a daily basis, and making everything harder than it needs to be. It is fine for people to educate us about various hazards to our health and well being. But it is up to each adult to evaluate these various messages and determine for themselves whether to act on them or not. Unfortunately, it is in the nature of nannies that simply warning us is never enough. First they warn, and when the whole world ignores their warnings, then they get government to take action to force us. And so, they become nannies with guns and badges.

The seat belt laws, which have become ubiquitous are a case in point. The first car our family had that had seat belts installed was a 1965 Ford Country Squire station wagon. But the actual use of the seat belts was entirely up to each individual. There were public service advertisements extolling the virtues of seat belts, but no one could give you a ticket for failing to wear a seat belt. Next came laws requiring us to wear them, but we were assured that you couldn't be stopped only for failure to wear your seat belt. You would have to be stopped for a more serious offence like speeding or reckless driving. Finally, when not enough people who otherwise drove responsibly did not routinely wear a seat belt, they began using check points, stopping everyone to check for seat belt use.

Notice the steady squeeze of the iron fist. First seat belts are a good idea. Then they are mandated in cars, but not required for use. Then they are mandated for use, but you can't be ticketed for not using them, and finally, the police state emerges.  It used to be considered Unconstitutional to have check points at which everyone is stopped and checked.  That was considered the hallmark of the jack booted thugs of Fascist and Communist states.  But now it has been ruled perfectly fine, as long as everyone is equally inconvenienced.

A second example comes from the ironically misnamed Center for Science in the Public Interest  It has been at the center of food nannyism for decades, constantly warning us that anything the least bit tasty is bad for us.  They have been pushing low salt, eating your vegetables, (without sauces or dressings mind you) and the notion that saturated fats will kill you despite the lack of evidence in some cases.  Jacob decries the change in philosophy from saving us from the other to saving the fat people from themselves.  He notes:

And it’s not as if the government can be trusted to tell us what’s right.

After years of federal bureaucracies pushing corn and starchy foods, subsidizing agribiz by the billions; after our Agriculture Department helped develop and promote high fructose corn syrup as a cheap refined-sugar substitute; and after pushing for a generation the unscientific, ideologically hyper-puritan nonsense that “eating fat makes us fat” — effectively pushing the low-fat obsession throughout the commercial food chain, replacing fats with sugars — I’m less than interested in politicians now stepping in to save us “from ourselves.”
But of course, that is exactly what they are going to do. The reasoning goes like this: In the past, scientist may have gotten some things wrong, but now they know and we are here to explain it to you uneducated rubes.  Until we are prepared to tell the nannies with guns and badges to get off our backs, they will continue to plague us.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Fisking of Katherine Eban

Daren Jonescu has an article today at the American Thinker that fisks the Fortune article about Fast and Furious. The article, entitled The Truth about "The Truth about the Fast and Furious Scandal" rakes Katherine Eban over the coals, and acknowledges the bloggers who brought F&F to the front burner:
Do any of the documents Obama invoked executive privilege over corroborate or elaborate on this intention? Is any MSM newshound besides CBS's Sharyl Attkisson curious? What a nuisance that woman has been for liberals who just want to tell the truth about the scandal. Meanwhile, continuing to do the work that American journalists won't do are the guys who broke the story, Mike Vanderboegh and David Codrea, and Katie Pavlich and American Thinker's M. Catherine Evans.
Unlike paid "Authorized Journalists" (hat tip to David Codrea for the term) Mike Vanderboegh and David Codrea are true concerned citizens. Mike doesn't get a dime from this, and I suspect David gets paid very little, certainly not what his contributions are worth. Katie Pavlich, of course, is a rising conservative journalist with, and has a book out on F&F.

As we contemplate the continuing loss of liberty, a paper cut at a time, we must understand that the Fast and Furious scandal is about more that "just" lawlessness by our government. In theory, our government, who makes the laws under which we all must live, should be the most fastidious about obeying those laws. When the government itself finds that breaking the laws is acceptable behavior, Americans are justifiably outraged. But more than that, the agenda, for which this particular example of lawlessness by the government was committed, represents our own government trying to steal great, heaping chunks of our liberties. Our ability to defend ourselves, whether from local thugs, or from tyranical government, is a fundamental right. It is inalienable, meaning the right can not be taken away.

I got into a discussion about taxes with a Leftist recently, and naturally we didn't see eye to eye.  He was focused on his definition of "fairness," and "compassion."  He accused me of not having any compassion, and not being sufficiently empathetic.  Well, I have a definition of fairness too.  To me, it is only fair that we all have to obey the same laws, rules and regulations.  It should be considered unfair that some may violate the law because of their position or title.  It is only fair that they be prosecuted, no matter whether one is the Attorney General, or a field agent.  I feel compassion for Brian Terry's family, and I am empathetic with his parents.  Parents should never have to bury their children, especially when the reason for that child's death was an illegal act by those charged with enforcing the law. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

You say you want a revolution

The Beatles sang about their feelings on Revolution in 1968. Jerry Bowyer wonders if anyone has changed his or her mind.

Jerry Bowyer has an excellent article today at entitled The July 4th Question: 236 Years After the First Revolution, is it Time for a Second?. Mr. Bowyer makes clear that the Declaration and the Constitution are tied together, and indeed, that that the one informs the other. Contrary to what most people seem to believe today, the Founders were highly educated, and well read men who were aware of events happening not only in the Colonies, but in Britain and the world in general. They were well aware of history, and conscious of the historical nature of what they did. They believed in the Natural Rights of man. In drafting the Constitution, they recognized the Sovereign nature of each of the States. Each Sovereign State would delegate to the Federal government a small piece of its power in order for it to perform certain well defined functions for all the States. Thus, it would be proper to speak of "these United States" as opposed to "the United States."

With that as a background, have we yet come to the point where we can say, as Thomas Jefferson did:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
I hear people say that we can not vote our way out of the mess that has become of our country, and my personal experience says they are correct. Even the elections of 2010 haven't really changed much. When a Constitutional scholar such as Judge Bork does not see, or worse, does see but will not admit the philosophical unity of the Declaration and the Constitution, I do not see much hope for a return to the Constitution. The President, the House, the Senate, and the Supreme Court are all acting against the interests of the American people. The people, themselves seem often to be ill informed, and unconcerned. As long as they have their bread and circuses, they are content to live in Master's plantation. They vote time and time again for politicians who steal their substance, and send petty officers among them to harass them, but they don't see the connection.

Yet, I am not willing to go to war. Revolutions usually end badly.  We were incredibly lucky in having so many wise men in one place, at one time.  I doubt we would be so lucky a second time.  Perhaps I am the eternal optimist, but I always think: "One more election. This time the people will vote the right way."

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

On this 4th of July, we are less free

Today, being July 4, 2012, Jonah Goldberg has a piece up at that speaks to the reason for the holiday. Goldberg's article, entitled Live Free-And Uninsured addresses the loss of liberty and freedom that ObamaCare represents, and discusses the infuriating inability of the Left to see that. Goldberg first gives an example:
In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare"), NPR's "Talk of the Nation" held a seminar of sorts at the Aspen Institute's legendarily pretentious Ideas Festival. Someone in the audience asked NPR health policy correspondent Julie Rovner this question: "Today's decision is a positive decision for the estimated 50 million uninsured Americans. Who are the losers today?"

Rovner seemed to struggle to find losers. She came up with insurance companies that want the so-called individual mandate -- now a punitive tax, according to the Supreme Court -- to be much more punitive. After thinking through her answer, she later added that another group of losers might be the citizens of states whose governors opt to not participate in the law's expansion of Medicaid.

So, Obamacare creates no losers except where it fails to tax people sufficiently and where GOP governors fail to accept the wisdom of the law. In short, the only thing wrong with Obamacare is that it isn't even more punitive, more mandatory and more intrusive.
This is the problem with Leftist ideology: the notion that getting more "free" stuff is the essence of living free. You are free if you can have sex without consequences, eat without working, get a pension from the government, and have your health care paid for by the State.

But I am here to tell you that these things do not give you freedom. For when someone else provides for you, whether it is the government, or it is a private person, the one who pays expects something in return. In the case of health care, we are just now seeing the beginnings of those strings. Since the government will soon be paying, they feel, and rightly so, that they can dictate what behaviors you can, and can not do. Mayor Bloomberg's proposal to eliminate soft drink purchase over 16 ounces may seem ridiculous, but that is just to get you used to the idea of having your soda purchases regulated. His ban on salt is another such trial balloon.  But soon enough, an army of petty tyrants will be dictating the minutest details of your life in the name of lowering the costs of health care.  You think you will be free then?  You may like where this is going now, but soon enough, your ox will be gored too.
Whether it's called a tax or a mandate, the federal government has never opted to compel citizens to purchase something as a condition of breathing while American. Obamacare represents a major advance for the old FDR vision of turning sovereign citizens into clients of the state. It empowers an army of Bloombergs to do what they think is for your own good and to redefine your rights as mere perks of the system.
Update: Ben Shapiro has a good article entitled "The Worst Ruling Since Dred Scott." He says in that article:
Essentially, the Obamacare decision said that the federal government can force you to do anything. They don't have to tax behavior. They can tax nonbehavior. They can tell you to do virtually anything they want; they can tax you unless you buy the right foods, listen to the right music and/or engage in the right type of work. If you refuse to pay the tax, they can jail you. The Obamacare decision destroys the basic concept of American liberty: freedom to live as you choose without interference by the federal government, so long as you don't affect the lives of others. Now the government can penalize you in the privacy of your own home for failing to do as they say."
Could it be any clearer?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hmmm...What else can we tax?

The Supreme Court ruling of ObamaCare as Constitutional under the taxing power of Congress continues to draw strong opinions from conservatives on both sides. Godfather Politics sees the ruling as a brilliant masterstroke by the Roberts court, in that he got the leftist justices to agree that the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause do not apply. They will, says Mr. Bolen, have a harder time of it in some future ruling.

Only, they won't. Leftists believe in postmodernism, the philosophy that says words have no meaning, and therefore can mean whatever someone wants them to mean when they read them. I have discussed this before here. It is what makes debating Leftists so unsatisfying. For Leftist, placing little markers in various precedents like time bombs, then coming out with an "Aha!" later is of no value. They will claim that the circumstances here are different, requiring a different outcome, and they will find whatever words they need to find, even if it is foreign law, to justify there rulings. Leftists will never concede anything.

Then there are rumors floating about that Roberts sided with the conservative justices at first, then under pressure from the press and White House, switched his vote to side with the Leftists. CBS reported that piece of news on Sunday. That seems more plausible. There are still other theories, but they have proved so far unsubstantiated.

Left unmentioned again in all this speculation is that the unlimited power to tax that Roberts has handed the Congress is indistinguishable from the former Commerce Clause powers in practice. Jefferson said that the power to tax is the power to destroy. Certainly, the ObamaCare taxes will further destroy what is left of our economy, and will hurt middle class Americans. Because Roberts also ruled that States may opt out of the additional Medicaid provisions, the poor, the rallying cry of the Left, will not be helped either.  So, to help an estimated 30 million "poor," Congress has placed a $1.7 trillion yoke around each of our necks.  If my math is correct, that's $57,000 per poor person.  It would have been cheaper to hand out a $5,000 voucher to each one of them and let them buy their own insurance.

Leftists would scream bloody murder, but it would be a delicious turn about: Under Roberts rules, the Congress could tax every American who is eligible to, but doesn't buy a gun. They could even mandated that everyone must own a handgun of at least .380 or larger caliber. Then they could impose a tax on anyone who doesn't go to the range, say once every 6 months.

Hmmm...What else can we tax?

Update: Alan West proposes, tongue in cheek, of course, that every American must buy a Glock 9mm pistol or pay a tax. At least West could have made us buy an American product. Sheesh.