Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Strangling Fracking in the Crib

Our planet has been in a constant state of change since if first solidified out of rocky bits circling the sun. The first thing that changed the environment was the emergence of photosynthesizing plants, like algae. These plants, deriving their energy from the sun, took in great quantities of carbon dioxide, belching forth from the pervasive volcanoes, and exhaling oxygen. Soon enough, the oxygen content of the atmosphere was such, that oxygen breathing bacteria emerged. The next great change to the environment was when plants began colonizing the earth, not just the oceans. More plants, more oxygen, larger and more complex animals followed. But you would not recognize the plants that dominated the earth then. They were mostly giant fern like plants, and spread not seeds but spores to reproduce. The next great change, and it changed the environment with it was the rise of the flowering plants. Today, flowering plants dominate the landscape, including the grasses, which cover more area of the earth than any other plant. Some believe the dinosaurs were done in by a giant meteor. Personally, I think they were as much done in by the changes occurring do to the rise of flowering plants, which had a negative affect on their food sources. For every animal depends, at rock bottom, on the photosynthesis of plants for their energy source.  Carnivores can only exist if there are herbivores on which to prey.

With that as background, I point my readers today to a piece at the American Thinker entitled Why Environmental Professionals Hate All of the Above by Jeffrey Folks. Folks:
In terms of carbon emissions, natural gas is twice as clean as coal. That was once good enough to earn it lukewarm praise from many green supporters. Now, with the U. S. Energy Department projecting that gas will be the fastest-growing global fuel source through 2040, environmental leaders have turned against it. They now claim that hydraulic fracturing causes catastrophic damage to the earth, air, and water, and that natural gas was never that clean to begin with.

What's behind this change of heart? Maybe it's the need to continue the struggle. Admitting that natural gas is clean and that America has enough of it to power the country for a century -- where would that leave the leaders of environmental groups that now raise hundreds of millions in donations? It might leave them having to make a living like everyone else.
And it could be that they just need to keep things stirred up in order to raise money. Certainly the race hustler industry has found that to be true, and capitalized on it. But in this case, there is more to it. Many extreme environmentalists have stated their belief that man, as a species is destroying the planet. They believe that man does not belong here, that unlike the other creatures who follow their nature, man should not be following his. They will not be happy until the earth is returned to its state before man came along and mucked things up. But, at what stage are they referring to? Is it after flowering plants, but before man evolved? Is it before flowering plants, or before plants at all. Because as we have seen, the most humble of creatures on earth the, blue green algae, changed the world in the most profound ways. The earth's atmosphere was literally suffocating before these plants came along, and as they slowly raised to oxygen content to it's 20 percent today, we animals could evolve.

While some wish to see man eradicated from the planet, though they are not leading by example, others nostalgically look to man's agrarian past as the golden age.  Everything man accomplished in this pre-industrial age was by muscle power, with the help in some cases of beasts of burden.  Of course, when we look at this past, we see it was not so golden.  People often lived in filth with their animals, ate poorly processed grains, so that by 25 or so their teeth were ground down to nubs, and lived short, hard scrabble lives.  If their crops failed, they didn't eat that winter except what could be hunted or begged from neighbors.  Even when harvests were good, a not insubstantial percentage of their crop was eaten by rats and mice.

By contrast, with the invention of the tractor, a farmer could plow many more acres of land, with less pollution per unit of work, and for more hours per day.  Tractors were also versatile, giving the farmer a power take off for a saw and other power tools.  It could be used to haul his crop to town where it could be sold to others for cash.  Long haul trucks could haul it to far cities, where the residents didn't necessarily have space for a garden.  Trucks don't tire out, and they move things faster than the old teams of horses, and again produce less overall pollution per unit of work.  But the internal combustion engine made other things possible.  Think of how things were moved around the warehouse before the invention of the forklift.  By relieving men of the need to haul heavy stuff around all day, they could extend their working lives, thus feeding their families and being around longer to help with older children.  Now that children didn't need to work to feed their families, they were free to get an education.

Most people, I think, see through the energy alarmists, and recognize that they are living in the golden age right now.  And our politicians are too cynical to actually believe any of the hype surrounding the energy sector.  They also realize reality, that so called "green energy" will always be a niche industry.  So what is driving the push to limit the American energy sector from achieving net exporter status?  I think it is here in this article from Hot Air.
Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has warned that the kingdom’s oil-dependent economy is increasingly vulnerable to rising U.S. energy production, breaking ranks with oil officials in Riyadh who have played down its impact.
Prince Alwaleed has huge influence in this country. He sits on the boards of many corporations, and if he is afraid of losing the strangle hold OPEC has had on the world, he can make at least some of the politicians dance to his tune. Whether they will be able to stop it completely remains to be seen.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Restaurant Carry Passed NC Legislature

Here in North Carolina, the legislature has passed H. B. 937, Amend Various Firearm Laws.  It now goes to Governor McCrory to sign.  Among the things included in this bill are provisions allowing the carrying of concealed handguns by concealed carry licensees (CHL) in restaurants that serve alcohol, and carrying venues that charge a fee for entrance.

Grass Roots North Carolina (GRNC) has long fought for restaurant carry.  Opponents charge that if they allow concealed carriers to carry in restaurants that serve alcohol, that there will be shoot outs in restaurants where they and their kids are, causing blood in the aisle, over an undercooked hamburger, because some drunk decides to play vigilante.  Besides that, there is a general feeling among hoplophobes that they just don't want to believe that they could be sitting next to someone who is carrying a gun.  GRNC has pointed out that even if people with a CHL can carry in these restaurants, they can not drink alcoholic beverages while carrying.  We have pointed out that States and Commonwealths around us, including Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia all have restaurant carry, with no ill effects.  Virginia is a good example, as they had restrictions, but lifted them.  One year after lifting restrictions, there was no change in the crime rate at restaurants that serve alcohol.

The restriction from carrying in places that charge a fee for entrance was, I suspect, a case of painting with too broad a brush.  The term includes rock concerts and the State and County fairs, but also includes movie theaters and your daughter's ballet recitals.  North Carolinians with a CHL can now, under this bill, carry in these venues unless they post a "no guns" sign.

The bill was held up by the North Carolina Sheriff's Association (NCSA) because they did not want to lose the funding that comes from issuing pistol permits to people without a CHL.  The pistol permit is a Jim Crow era law, originally designed to keep blacks and certain other undesirables from obtaining pistols.  It is both an embarrassment, and a redundancy.  It is embarrassing because of the discriminatory nature of the law.  It is redundant because now that we have the NICS background checks in place, there is no reason to have a second background check.  As Paul Valone said in an alert sent late yesterday:

Although full repeal of the Jim Crow-era pistol purchase permit law did not remain in the bill, thanks to your input and the efforts of Senator Buck Newton (R-Johnston, Nash, Wilson, GRNC ****), the following improvements were made:


  • Prohibits sheriffs from limiting the number of permits issued;
  • Prohibits additional fees for permits;
  • Requires sheriffs to list statutory reasons for denial;
  • Requires sheriffs to keep de-identified records on why permits are denied; and
  • Places the burden on sheriffs to revoke permits from those commit disqualifying offenses.

Overall, H. B. 937 is good law, and I urge the Governor to sign it. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Will we survive Global Cooling?

Its about time for something different, don't you think? In my former life, I was in charge of, among other things, following the climate warming/climate change debate for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command. As I do with most things, I read and followed the "logic" of the climate alarmists, but I also followed the climate skeptics. Interestingly, the work of people like S. Fred Singer, Anthony Watts, and others makes more sense, and the logic of the skeptics fits together better than that of the alarmists.  This piece, by S. Fred Singer appeared at the Heartland Institute in April, 2013 entitled Climate Change Conversation Aborted. This piece from Anthony Watts appears on his blog Watts Up With That. Watts and a volunteer team first gained prominence by going around and checking the earth based temperature stations around the U. S. and discovered that there was a bias toward these stations being located in heat islands. Singer's claims come from satellite data that show no warming in the atmosphere, despite theory that says it should. What I found was that the skeptics made more sense than the climate alarmists. Even Bjorn Lomborg, a Greenpeace activists thinks the alarmists have it wrong, or at least that we could use our money better by investing in ways that would help us survive a warming trend.

Well, here it comes. We have been experiencing a period of no climate change for the last decade or so. But now comes word that we are entering a global cooling period. Jeffrey Folks has the story at the American Thinker entitled Sunspots and the Great Cooling Ahead. To be honest, from my little individual assessment here in Raleigh, NC, I like the weather pattern we have been experiencing this year. Until this week, we have not had temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Usually, temperatures top 90 degrees as early as late May to early June, and they stay there until late September to early October. This year has not been too bad. But my gardening buddies tell me that they are having crops rotting in the field because of too much rain. It either pours, or you have a drought. But enough about me in my little corner of the world.

According to Folks, there are real consequences to our current policies, and global cooling.  With crop failures in the United States comes the real possibility of famine in the rest of the world.  It just doesn't make sense to burn our corn crop as fuel for cars, when we have so much oil that can be used for that purpose.  People around the world will be needing that corn as food.  Moreover, at some point we are going to see the effects of the "quantitative easing" that has been propping up the stock markets.  The inflation that follows will, indeed already has begun to, destroy the wealth of the middle class.  Now, I realize that this is what Obama intends, but it will mean possible famine here in the United States too.  Note to FLOTUS, I'll need that body fat when the time comes.

As with global warming, the coming global cooling is unstoppable.  It makes more sense to put in place policies that make as many of our people as prosperous as they can be.  Man can adapt to either extremes in temperature, if he has enough wealth, and the freedom to use it for his own interests.

There are two principles of economic thought here that come into play.  The first is the idea of opportunity costs, the fact that once money is invested in one place, it is not available to be invested in another.  The other is diminishing returns.  The idea that if achieving 90% of a goal costs x dollars, it will take another x dollars to achieve 95%, and another x dollars to achieve 98% and so on and the costs go up dramatically for each 1% beyond that point.  The environmentalists should look around and declare victory on their original program.  The environmentalists have achieved 98% of their goal, and good for them.  But instead of investing ever more and more money in environmental costs, which then are not available for other things, we need to invest in those things that will improve our ability to survive the coming cooling, as well as the warming sure to come after that.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Left's goal comes into view: Repeal Stand Your Ground

Various commenters are opining about the race hustlers ginning up anger in the black community over the Zimmerman verdict. Some feel as though the race baiters need to do this to remain relevant, and to keep money coming in. There is no doubt that both Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have made untold millions from there ability to scrape the scab off the wound, and little has been written about how specifically that has been accomplished. But the IRS is unlikely to look into or leak the details of Rainbow/PUSH or to leak its donor list. They are too busy asking of conservative groups about the content of their prayers. I see this as partly true, in that the race baiters are doing what comes naturally, all hoping for a pay off from the civil suit they are likely to file.

Then there are those who frame the race baiters actions within the framework of the Left. They point out that the Left, who claim the mantel of tolerance, diversity, and compassion, are almost always the intolerant haters. A piece in the American Thinker today makes the case that the only hate crime committed in the Zimmerman case was that of the left in Hate Crimes, Indeed by Jeffrey T. Brown. I find again a partial truth, in that the Left is doing what comes naturally, making up "facts" to fit a narrative, and not letting the truth interfere with their narrative. In this narrative, Zimmerman is "white," not Hispanic. In their story line, every white person is born with the original sin of racism, and it is this that drove Zimmerman to shoot Martin in cold blood out of malice and spite. And of course, the enlightened ones of the left know so well the dark heart of the average American.

But I think ultimately, the real goal of the left can be found in this article from The Left has been "gunning" for "Stand Your Ground" laws ever since they were first passed by Florida. Stand your ground does two things. First, in a self defense case, you no longer have a duty to retreat. In many cases, one is attacked fast and from an angle the defender was not looking. The attacker is on the defender and keeping him off balance. There is no opportunity to retreat, and this can be used by anti-gun prosecutors to persecute someone for the "crime" of carrying a gun. In some jurisdictions, every gun death was prosecuted as murder. Some managed to get off, but many were caught up in a smoke and mirrors cloud of theories of whether or not they had retreated as far as they could before they finally took action. Literally, your back must be against the wall, with nowhere to go, and your attacker is on you before you can begin to defend yourself. It gave both the criminal, and the anti-gun prosecutor (but I repeat myself) a huge advantage.

The victim in all this, the guy who used a gun to defend himself was victimized three times before "stand your ground" became law. The first time when he was assaulted. The second time by the criminal justice system, and the third time by the civil courts. Often the crook's family would file a civil suit asserting wrongful death. In civil court, the plaintiff does not have to prove his case, the defense must prove his innocence of the charges. No wonder the plaintiffs often win, ruining a person.  Of course, the only person getting rich in this are the lawyers.

I believe the real goal of the Left is becoming clear.  Keep the citizens distracted and upset, while going after and repealing "stand your ground."  The fact that Florida has recently reconsidered these laws and decided not to change anything seems to have no bearing on their opinion. the Left wants this even though blacks disproportionally benefit from "stand your ground." They want to go back to the days when they could harass gun owners under color of law. How great was that?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Zimmerman Trial is Over. Will Justice Be Done?

As I write this, the Zimmerman trial is in the hands of the jury. All the evidence is in now, so that I don't believe I could influence the trial in any way, (lest one of the two people who read this blog happen to be on the jury:-) I have been watching as much of the trial of George Zimmerman as I can, and watching people bend the facts, or even totally ignore them in favor of a narrative that has nothing whatsoever to do with the facts.  This disturbes me, that grown men and women, of supposed intelligence, can do this with a straight face.

The facts of the trial are basically this: George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain and concealed carry permit holder noticed Trayvon Martin wandering through his neighborhood and acting suspiciously. There had been a series of break ins and robberies for which Martin fit the description. Zimmerman got out of his truck, called 911, and started to follow Martin. The dispatcher told Zimmerman not to follow Martin, and according to Zimmerman, he turned around and headed back to his truck. At some point, Martin jumped out of the bushes and sucker punched Zimmerman, then proceeded to jump on him and beat him badly. Zimmerman's jacket rode up exposing his gun. Martin went for it saying "Tonight you die." Zimmerman caught Martins hand as he went for his own gun, pulled it and shot Martin one time. This is Zimmerman's story, and it hasn't really changed. Moreover, the Prosecution never managed to prove that any part of Zimmerman's story was substantially false. In a normal situation, Zimmerman would be able to walk free based on self defense and Florida's "Stand Your Ground" laws. He would not even be arrested, much less tried. But these were not normal circumstances, and I think Zimmerman was railroaded.

The first thing to note is that Zimmerman is a light skinned Hispanic person, and Trayvon Martin was a black youth.  The NYT coined the term "White Hispanic" to drive home the nature of the "crime." Of course, Martin was anything but the 8 year old kid we constantly saw pictures of in the media.  In fact, Martin was a strapping 6 foot 2 inches 17 year old coming into the prime of life.  He was angry, and he was criminal.  Indeed, the reason he was in Sanford, Florida, was because he was expelled from school for possessing burglary tools and stolen women's jewelry.  He had gone to live with his father and his father's girlfriend, after being kicked out of the house by his mother. Nice kid, huh!  Martin also had a tough guy image of himself, getting into fights, and carrying on a sort of 'fight club' lifestyle.  He was also into drugs, and the Skittles and Arizona Watermelon, along with Robitussin cough medicine from the father's girlfriend's medicine cabinet would make a drink called "Lean" to get Martin high. There is some evidence also that Martin probably consumed marijuana before the confrontation with Zimmerman, impairing his judgement to some degree. See the American Thinker article published in June 2012 entitled What the media choose not to know about Trayvon. Apparently, the prosecution chose to ignore this evidence as well.

Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and the Department of (In)Justice Community Relations Service showed up in the weeks following the incident to whip up emotions, hold demonstrations, and incite riots.  That the media, constantly showing the 8 year old boyhood picture instead of showing the angry young man helped to further inflame the people.  NBC, in a particularly egregious move, edited the 911 tape to make it sound as if Zimmerman were profiling Martin.  Profiling has become the latest sin in the lexicon of the Left.  In fact, when the entire tape is played, a different set of facts comes to light.  Zimmerman was responding to a question by the 911 dispatcher asking for a description of Martin.  The tone of his voice was indeed matter of fact, something you wouldn't expect if someone was racially profiling Martin.

Many on the Left seem to think that Zimmerman was a wussy, and couldn't tolerate a beating. People like Bob Beckel, who claims to have gotten into innumerable fights as a youth, and Juan Williams, who claims to be an expert fighter, having been taught by his father, seem to think that the fight going on the night of the killing was some kind of childhood fight, with kids exchanging unaimed blows, becoming exhausted, and going home to play a video game together.  Unfortunately, a person can be killed with fists, and it is more common than you might think.  Testimony suggests that the initial sucker punch may have stunned Zimmerman.  Other testimony places Martin on top, raining blows down on Zimmerman, and Zimmerman screaming for help.  Zimmerman's defense claims that in addition, each blow to the head caused Zimmerman's head to strike a concrete sidewalk.  If I were Zimmerman in that situation, stunned and losing consciousness with each blow, unable to stop the blows, I would be in fear for my life.  So Zimmerman claims.

Then there is the judge in the trial. She seems to have been in the tank for the prosecution from day one according to this report by Anthony Martin at the Liberty Sphere. Martin:

Interestingly, the judge in the case is a Jeb Bush appointee. The undercurrent in the trial points to the fact that she, too, has been under intense pressure to ram through a guilty verdict, or at the very least create a scenario in the courtroom that would make it difficult for the jury to find Zimmerman not guilty.

Radio talk show host and attorney Mark Levin, who worked in the Reagan White House, stated that in all of his years as a practicing attorney he has never witnessed such outright disregard for the law, for the rules of evidence, for proper court procedure, or for basic fairness. The judge, he said, clearly has been in the tank for the prosecution from day one.

What is most disturbing about this case is that many on the left seem to feel that Zimmerman had an obligation to take whatever Martin was prepared to mete out that night, and die. In some way, they seem to feel that Zimmerman's death at the hands of Martin would wash away the ancient sin of slavery and discrimination with Zimmerman's blood, and with which each white person is born. How else to explain the complete ignoring of the facts in favor of a made up story line?  And really, are the race baiters going to stop?  Did the election of our first black President heal the wounds?  Of course it didn't, and of course they won't.  The only way the wounds of slavery and discrimination will ever be healed is when blacks themselves say to the race baiters "Enough is enough.  You don't speak for us.  We can speak for ourselves." 

Beckel, Williams, and other commentators have reiterated that Martin didn't do anything. He was a innocent boy (of eight years in their minds) who went out to buy Skittles and Arizona "Iced Tea" for his little brother. He was innocently walking back to his house when he was confronted by big bad Zimmerman who shot him in cold blood out of some sort of malice against him.  Martin, in this scenario dies through no fault of his own.  Zimmerman supposedly followed Martin as if to keep an eye on him.  He "stalked" him in some tellings.  First of all, it was not illegal for Zimmerman to get out of his truck, nor was it illegal to follow Martin while contacting police.  They counter with the fact that it wasn't illegal for Martin to be walking through the neighborhood either.  While true, I don't see the relevance.  Martin apparently confronted Zimmerman to ask if he had a problem with him.  That was also not illegal.  The first illegal act by either party was when Martin sucker punched Zimmerman.  At that point, Martin became the aggressor, and Zimmerman had to defend himself.  Had Martin punched, knocked Zimmerman down, then run, Martin would no longer be the aggressor, and Zimmerman would have had no cause to shoot him.

Beckel constantly makes a point of the fact that Zimmerman knew the law concerning self defense and implies that therefore he somehow maneuvered (again the 8 year old ) Martin into looking like the aggressor so as to be able to shoot him.  Again, how does one do such a thing to a strapping 17 year old, 6 foot 2 inch man?  Of course Zimmerman knew the rules concerning lawful use of force.  Anyone with a concealed handgun permit knows the rules, because you don't want to do anything that puts you in jeopardy of prosecution for unlawfully shooting someone.  But beyond that, no one wants to have to shoot.  If you have to shoot, you life at the least will be turned inside out.    

Something not brought out in the trial, but certainly should have been discussed by commentators was that Martin was taking a terrible risk hitting Zimmerman.  He assumed he was a better fighter than Zimmerman, but that needn't have been the case.  Had Zimmerman been better trained in hand to hand combat, he might have deflected Martin's punch, and delivered a strike to one of the vital points on the body causing unconsciousness or death.  If Martin had managed to get him down, and again assuming Zimmerman were a better street fighter, several quick knife strikes to the Martin's kidney would have had the same effect a gun.  Whether Martin knew it, or not, or whether he analysed his situation or not, he chose to become the aggressor, and took on the risk that he could be killed.  The arm chair tough guys can call Zimmerman a wuss all they want, but those are the facts.

At the end of the trial, the Prosecution decided to add lesser charges to the one for which Zimmerman was being tried, Second Degree Murder.  The one charge that the Judge allowed was Manslaughter, which still carries with it 30 years in prison.  First of all, by adding these charges the State is acknowledging that the State has not proved Second Degree Murder beyond a reasonable doubt.  But then to add Manslaughter at the end, after they know the defense's case seems cowardly, and extremely unfair.  Going strictly by the evidence presented, Zimmerman should be acquitted of all counts on the basis of self defense.  The Prosecution is counting on some jury members feeling that while the evidence for Second Degree Murder is not there, that in some cosmic justice sort of way he should be punished for something.  It will be interesting to see.  If they do convict on Manslaughter charges, I would expect the Judge to sentence him to the maximum time.  Such is the racial pressure on the State to punish Zimmerman for a "crime" he didn't commit.

Of course, what then does that say for those of us who carry a gun for self defense and defense of our loved ones?  If confronted by a black youth, and sucker punched, are we too obligated to take it and die.  Because if we defend ourselves, the State will destroy our lives, put us behind bars, and make us wish we had?  Look, Martin got justice.  Had Martin even punched Zimmerman, then run home, he would be alive now.  Everything that happened to Martin happened because of decisions Martin made.  What I want to know is where is justice for George Zimmerman?

Update:  Martin's behavior may have been profoundly affected by his use of "Lean."  See The Conservative Treehouse which has done the yeoman's task of digging into the Zimmerman case. It makes Martin's violence seem more reasonable.

Update 2: Last night the jury found Zimmerman not guilty on all counts. So, everyone it seems has been served justice. Except of course that Zimmerman will forever have a cloud over his head, and of course must pay 10s of thousands in attorney's fees. but as far as this trial is concerned, justice was done.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Don't Steal! The government doesn't like the competition

While driving in a car the other day, I saw a bumper sticker on another car that said "Don't Steal. The government doesn't like competition." Everyone in the car had a good laugh at that. Unfortunately, it has become all too true, as pointed out by Daniel J. Mitchell at today in an article entitled Yes, you have something to fear even if you are a law abiding person. Michell:
Whether we’re talking about NSA spying, cross-border collection and sharing of private financial data by tax-hungry governments, pointlessly intrusive money-laundering laws, or other schemes to give the state more power and authority, we’re often told that “if you’re a law-abiding person, you have nothing to fear.”

But that assumes government is both competent and trustworthy.

The IRS scandal is just one recent example of politicians and bureaucrats behaving badly. Heck, this blog is basically just a collection of examples illustrating the incompetence and venality of the public sector, augmented by my snarky comments and economic evangelizing.
The problem, we soon find out is that governments at all levels have too much prosecutorial discretion. Mitchell cites an article by Glenn Reynolds in the Columbia Law Review Reynolds uses the David Gregory case, the television journalist who violated Washington D.C. law on television, by displaying a supposedly dangerous magazine while interviewing the NRA. Yet Gregory was not prosecuted, even though anyone else would have been. Then there is George Zimmerman.  George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin in what he claims was self defense.  The police who investigated could find no evidence against his story.  Yet egged on by racism on the part of the Martin family, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and it now appears, Attorney General Eric Holder, he is being prosecuted for second degree murder.  As the trial comes to an end, the evidence seems to show that Zimmerman was correct.  Yet he still faces a jury who, and its any body's guess how they will find him.

The fact is that our legal system continues to become more and more unjust, granting undeserved grace to those who know the right people, or who display the politically correct opinions, while grinding the wrong people, or the politically incorrect into dust.  Reynolds provides some food for thought as to how some of the injustices might be curbed.  I like the "loser pays" option, but then I always have.  For lawsuits, for example, this one provision will stop hundreds of nuisance lawsuits designed to simply harass a company some group doesn't like.  Toward the end of his article, Mitchell points to another post in which he has a list of horribles.  Go read some of the injustices done in our name.

The IRS persecution of an innocent man is particularly instructive.  The IRS agent, one Mr. Norlander, goes about looking for things seemingly out of place.  If a person drives a expensive car, for example, Norlander will look to see how much he makes, and if he can afford it.  But he goes to extremes, prying into their personal lives, dumpster diving their trash, and even sending in an attractive women wearing a wire to get them to say something incriminating. Then there's the woman who was arrested for child neglect because she allowed her kids to ride their bicycles in the cul-de-sac while she sat on in a chair on the front lawn and supervised them.  Or the case of the Sacketts, whose years long battle with the EPA was finally resolved in their favor.  The government though has given itself all the odds, brooking no appeal from its edicts.

I have long noted that our President and his Attorney General are increasing lawless.  In saying that the employer mandate in ObamaCare will, by executive order be delayed, he is making the case for the Republicans to do nothing on immigration.  After all, if he can simply nullify one law, what makes them think he couldn't do it to another duly enacted law?  But Congress let him get away with disobeying laws already on the books in Fast and Furious. Effectively, by not taking the proper actions when it occurred, they have given this President license to pretty much rule us, rather than execute our laws faithfully as required. And it is trickling down to the IRS, the NSA, the EPA, the DHS, and other agencies, whose scandals we probably simply haven't uncovered yet.

People, I hate to sound like a broken record, but we need to turn around, and go back to governing our nation according to the Constitution. True justice demands it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The NSA, the 4th Amendment, and Criminal Aliens

As time moves on, it has become clear that my earlier enthusiasm for what Edward Snowden did was premature. As more information has been revealed, it becomes clear that Snowden was not the "Hero of the Republic" I described, but neither is he the traitor that others have made him out to be. I still agree that he should have made the public aware that all of its signals records were being stored and in some cases read. Apparently, the meta data of cell phone calls is stored, but if they need to go back and listen to a conversation, that meta data allows them to do so, and to know where you were, when you called, the phone number you called. With PRISM, they apparently can read every email you send, and that is sent to you. I myself simply delete a lot of the stuff that winds up in my in-box from companies and people I don't know, and have nothing to do with, but the NSA thinks it is all important, apparently. Perhaps I need to put in a FOIA request to find out when the shoes I ordered online will arrive.

Today, at the American Thinker, J. R. Dunn has an article entitled Conservatives and Snowden that makes the point that conservatives on both sides of the argument about Snowden, but sticking to a white hat vs. black hat model, risk burying the lede of the story. Dunn:
One of the axioms utilized by H.L. Mencken in analyzing politics in the United States stated that Americans were unable to grasp arguments on their face and instead needed them recast in pure Manichean terms, with the most repellent of devils on one side and the purest of angels on the other.
Edward Snowden is a criminal, but not a traitor. His is a sad case, and eventually the government will likely catch up with him. The real lede of the story is that our 4th Amendment rights are being violated each and every day.  Government officials in both the Executive and Legislative branches are lying to the American public.  A secret agency is carrying out a broad program to capture the private effects of Americans, and this represents an unreasonable seizure of such effects.  Since most Americans are not terrorists, and have done nothing to give the government probable cause to think they might be, collecting this information goes against the 4th Amendment to the Constitution.  Supposedly, the NSA is doing this under the watchful eye of a Court which is also secret, and whose rulings nobody seems to know.  Apparently, though, this secret Star Chamber has allowed the government to obtain these effects through a generalized warrant, in contravention to the Constitution.  This must stop.

Taking a slight tangent at this point, I note that the NSA apparently also has the cell phone records of all 11 million criminal aliens in this country.  Now, they failed to catch Maj. Hassan, shoe bomber, the underwear bomber, and the Boston bombers, even though those bombers exhibited what is known as probable cause.  Indeed, the claim that these programs have stopped dozens of terrorists we never heard about is suspicious.  But, why couldn't they find these "shadows" the criminal aliens are hiding in.  If they know the date, time, and location of every call I make, and the location and telephone number I call, why don't they know this information for illegal aliens?  If they do know it, why can't they report it to ICE to have them deported? The Senate keeps saying that...gosh...we have legalize them to find out where they are, but it seems to me we already know, if someone were to ask.    

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Repealing the 16th and 17th Amendments

In my last post, I said I thought that the radical turn from limited Constitutional governance occurred in 1913 with the ratification of the 16th and 17th Amendments.  Others probably understand better than I the issues swirling through the nation at the time.  I should find out more, but what were the people of the United States thinking? In any case, the American Thinker today has an article up entitled How to Repeal the 16th and 17th Amendments by Theodore Koehl.  It's an interesting idea that should be explored by Constitutional scholars.  In essence, it is a kind of secession without formally seceding from the Union.  The States can declare that they no longer think these Amendments are in their best interest, and if 3/4 of the States vote to repeal the 16th and 17th
Amendments, and files those Acts with the National Archivist, then those Amendments are repealed.  It would probably require coming up with model language that has been worked on by a committee of lawyers, but it could be done, peacefully.

Koehl makes the same arguments that I do about the negative affects of both amendments on our liberty. With so much money coming in from direct income taxes, the Federal government now had the resources to become a national busybody, taking the decisions that people made out of their hands, and placing them in the hands of unelected Federal bureaucrats. But it is not just Federal bureaucrats, the State and local governments get in on the act, often at the behest of the Feds, by virtue of granting back to the States some of the money that shouldn't have been taken from them in the first place. Thus, the education of your children, the curriculum, and how they are taught, have become national problems, with national solutions, and you have no say any more. What was once a strictly local matter has become a national one, and you have lost one more liberty, the right to bring your children up with your values. In the same way, he also points out the loss of sovereignty that has come to the States through the loss of a voice in Congress. The Senate no longer represent the States, but act as an at-large member of the House.

Note though, that even with the States returned to their rightful place, it will not be a picnic for the citizens.  While I do not believe for a moment that the States will return to racism, and Jim Crow, as Leftists would have you believe, they will have more power over things like eminent domain.  It is difficult to build and maintain a lasting national machine, but it is easier to do at the State level.  Collusion between the three branches of State government, as we have seen in Mississippi, where a minority is acting to deny open carriers their rights, will be easier, and will have more impact.  On the other hand, States will show more variability, and we will have more choices as to a place to live that suits our needs.

We must starve the beast, and we must get back the notion that the States are sovereign, that they only delegated to the Federal government certain powers, and that they retain plenary powers within their respective borders.   

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Before the Declaration of Independence, there was John Locke

On this July 4th Independence Day, it is well that we take a look at the man on whom the Founder's relied for so much of our governments founding principles. At the American Thinker, an article entitled Our True Founding Principles by Jerome Huyler asks where did our country first go off the rails, and what has happened since. I am always pleasantly surprised to learn how much I know, that ain't so, and this article surprised me. Huyler believes the government of the United States began going off the rails...well, let him tell it:
By Locke's reckoning, the fateful shift came with the second bill signed into law by the nation's first president. The Tariff Act of 1789, in addition to raising revenue, something certainly sanctioned by the Constitution, authorized Congress to "encourage domestic manufactures." It could impose a "protective" tariff, raising the price of goods coming from Europe, inviting retaliatory measures and curtailing the trans-Atlantic trade, but not without raising consumer prices for farmers and planters and depriving many of those who made their living in the seafaring trades of their livelihoods...
While there were abuses of citizen's property rights to be sure, and dubious actions and miscalculations were made by Presidents and Congresses throughout the 19th Century, my own fateful moment of change occurred in 1913 with the ratification of the 16th and 17th Amendments.

The 16th Amendment allowed the Congress to lay taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, and without apportionment among the several states, without regard to census or enumeration.  It gave access to a huge pool of money that could be taxed, enabling not only the large standing military we carry today, but the social welfare and entitlement programs that are today overwhelming our system as Francis Fox Piven envisioned.  It allowed the Congress to create a "progressive" income tax system.  We have been fighting about how much income should be taken in taxes, how much is enough and how much is too much ever since.  Obama, who probably sees all income as essentially his, talks endlessly about a rich person's "fair share."  But people as diverse as Sean Hannity and Bill Mahr point out that they earned this money, and that they are being taxed enough already.

What nobody notices, or what no one will openly say, is that the rich are getting ripped off.  The rich and the poor alike share equally in the legitimate powers exercised by government.  If government confined itself to its legitimate powers, a flat tax would be enough except in time of war.  But in the illegitimate powers, the rich get very little, and the poor get most of it.  (Corporate welfare is as bad as welfare for the poor, and even less justified, but it is also much less that welfare programs for the poor.)  If one takes all the fancy words and justifications for having a progressive income tax out of the argument, it comes down to the fact that the government is stealing some peoples property, and giving it to others in return for votes.  Income no less than real estate and personal property, is the most fundamental property of all.  You trade your time and skills to others in return for money that presumably you and your employer have agreed on.  The rarer your skill, the fewer people who can do what you do, the more you can command for your time.  Thus, sports figures can make fabulous sums, at least for the few years they are at the top of their game.  You then trade the money earned for goods and services including shelter, food and water, and so forth.  You should be able to dispose of the excess you have earned to your heirs or whomever you see fit. 

We can probably never get rid of the income tax entirely, but by going to a flat tax, where everyone must declare their entire earnings, and pay a flat amount, we would come closer to true fairness.  If we eliminate the social engineering involved in the various deductions and entitlements, we eliminate the shenanigans that have plagued the IRS of late, and a lot of the fraud that is found usually not by the IRS.  When everyone has to pay a portion, and nobody is getting benefits, then we may find the people want government out of their lives.

The other change that occurred in 1913 was the ratification of the 17th Amendment that made Senators popularly elected.  Previously, the House was elected every two years by popular elections.  Indeed, that is the purpose of the census, to apportion the House members to each state, and for the states to draw up the new voting districts, ensuring an equal vote to every person entitled to vote.  The Senate, by contrast, was appointed to six year terms by the state legislature, and served at their pleasure.  Thus, the sovereign states had a voice in the Federal government, as did the people.  Under the old system, programs like Medicade and Medicare would likely not have been signed into law because the Senate would have wisely blocked them.  Indeed, many "progressive" programs would have likely been squashed because the Senate would have reckoned the cost to the states to be too high.  Once the Senators became popularly elected, the states lost their voice in the Federal government, and the Senators now had an incentive to push for giving entitlements to the people in exchange for their votes.

With the ratification of these two amendments to our Constitution, the self correcting nature of our Republic was destroyed.  Government now had the means to take everything we have, and the body that was supposed to stop such bad ideas became an accessory to them.

Happy Independence Day!


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Syrian Rebels Behead Priest

A short article today at the American Thinker highlights the absolute absurdity of the Obama foreign policy. Rick Moran has the story at Catholic Priest Beheaded by Syrian Rebels Obama Wants to Arm

The Moran post is linked to a Catholic Online story, which in turn is linked to video of the horrible tragedy. Go watch it at your own risk. I have done so, and it isn't pretty. One wonders how people can be so cruel to one another, and yet history has shown time and again that people are indeed capable of such cruelty and murderous blood lust. We have seen already Syrian rebels eating the hearts of their enemies in a strange ritual that goes back to primitive times. If this is what Islam teaches, can it be the teaching of God? And if it is not what Islam teaches, why will no one stand a say so. There must be a religious authority somewhere that believes these people have rejected God's truth for their own beliefs.

Meanwhile, the Obama regime apparently intends to send arms to these savages.  These arms would of course be sent in our name.  I don't know about you, but I am certainly not in favor of Muslims beheading priests, nor am I in favor of Muslims eating the hearts of their enemies.  Please, write or call your Congressman and urge him to put a stop to this.

Update:  David Codrea (War on Guns) has some additional information on this story at Obama's Gun Policy and Supporters Favor Jihadists over Patriots. He points to a Rasmusen poll that shows Leftists fear the TEA party more than they fear Muslims.