Sunday, April 28, 2013

Bad Science, Money, and Politics

Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while, but the NYT magazine missed the bigger nut.  In an article about Diederick Stapel, which is a good read, the Times chronicles the multi-decade corruption and deceit by a leading scientist at a respected university.  While the author tells a good story about a man and the consequences he suffers because of his dishonesty, the author misses the bigger picture and the disturbing trends going on in Western culture with regard to what is commonly referred to as science.
We should not be surprised.  During most of my adult life, I have witnessed media outlets manipulating "facts" and misusing the results from so-called "scientific" studies in order to promote an agenda.  There are people for whom implementing the agenda is more important than truth.  Karl Marx was one.  Franklin Roosevelt was another.  In the realm of science we have Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking, intelligent men to be sure, but often expounding upon subjects in which they are demonstrably deficient in knowledge, and thus they abuse the truth.
When the agenda must be implemented at all costs, the first casualty is truth.  For Dr. Stapel, it happened early and often.  We saw the same thing happen to the research around anthropogenic global warming.  My friends will tell you that for years I have been telling them that the cause of global warming was government research funding.  Dr. Stapel actually vindicates this when he says:

What the public didn’t realize, he said, was that academic science, too, was becoming a business. “There are scarce resources, you need grants, you need money, there is competition,” he said. “Normal people go to the edge to get that money."
The bigger nut that the NYT missed was the trend to fake the science to support left/liberal/collectivist causes.  In almost every case where there has been a public exposure of bad or fake science, the cause it has supported has also been part of a leftist-collectivist agenda.  Often, the target is private property rights, and in almost every case, the bad science has called for larger, more intrusive government, which, incidentally, would include more money for research.
In the end, it is good to keep in mind that science can be, and is, fallible.  Stapel realizes this and gives us a warning:

People think of scientists as monks in a monastery looking out for the truth,” he said. “People have lost faith in the church, but they haven’t lost faith in science. My behavior shows that science is not holy.” 
 Take heed.  Science is a product of humans.  Humans are not perfect. 


Monday, April 22, 2013

The Terrorists Won

I am tired of seeing nothing but Boston on the television for the last week.  For one thing, the drama is over.  For another, there are a pile of lies and deceit coming from multiple government agencies.  Finally, what happened to the citizens is downright scary.
 
So, two brothers are identified as the bombers. One was killed and the other captured.  Three people were killed and 150+ people were injured.  Every time I turn the TV on, I hear this.  It got real old on the second day.  What is also getting real old is the Eastern Establishment Press trying to steer my thinking and get me sidetracked on “why”.
 
Why did these 2 “boys” set off the bombs?  What was their motive?  Why could they not assimilate?  What is wrong with American culture that they thought they needed to go to such extreme measures?
 
Frankly, it does not matter.  This is obviously another case of Mohammedan terror.  What disturbs me the most is that the new media seems to believe that all the loose ends have been tightened up.  That would be na├»ve.  Clearly there was direction from a radical source, and considering the older Tsarnaev brother was detained for questioning in Russia after visiting Chechnya, a hotbed of radical Mohammedism, I just have to scratch my head and wonder why the press cannot connect dots.
 
But then, for the past 5years, the press, ostensibly the Fourth Estate, now trusts the central government.  Where even today, most journalism students are taught to disbelieve information handed to them from politicians, the vast majority of media outlets seem to have thrown that principle out the window.  Consider the verified information published by The Blaze today: 
  • Saudi national originally identified as a “person of interest” in the Boston Marathon bombing was set to be deported under section 212 3B — “Security and related grounds” — “Terrorist activities” after the bombing
  • As the story gained traction, TheBlaze’s Chief Content Officer Joel Cheatwood received word that the government may not deport the Saudi national, originally identified as Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi
  • Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano refused to answer questions on the subject when confronted by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) on Capitol Hill.
  • An ICE official said a different Saudi national is in custody, but is “in no way” connected to the bombings.
  • A congressional source, however, says that the file on Alharbi was created, that he was “linked” in some way to the Boston bombings (though it is unclear how), and that documents showing all this have been sent to Congress.
  • Key congressmen of the Committee on Homeland Security request a classified briefing with Napolitano
  • Fox News’ Todd Starnes reports that Alharbi was allegedly flagged on a terrorist watch list and granted a student visa without being properly vetted.  Sources close to the investigation also told him the Saudi is still set for deportation.
  • New information provided to TheBlaze reveals Alharbi’s file was altered early Wednesday evening to disassociate him from the initial charges
  • Sources say the Saudi’s student visa specifically allows him to go to school in Findlay, Ohio, though he appears to have an apartment in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Sources tell us this will most likely now be kicked from the DHS to the DOJ and labeled an ongoing investigation that can no longer be discussed.
The Department of Justice has already started stonewalling and obfuscating the issues.  In his Monday morning radio show, Glenn Beck goes on to point out more troubling information.
  • The Saudi’s student visa specifically allows him to go to school in Findley, Ohio.  He has been in this country six months.  He has an apartment in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • If this is a case of mistaken identity, then who is the person named in the file, with the same name, with the 3B charge?  And If DHS was working with the person as a source to out the bombers, then why was there a 3B Charge?
  • Exclusive: Why wasn’t the Congressional Committee on Homeland Security notified?  Why are they being cut out of all information?  This is protocol.
  •  We are working on the family connections, and there is more to come.
  • Sources tell us this will most likely now be kicked from the DHS to the DOJ and labeled an ongoing investigation that can no longer be discussed.  This will be the reason Napalitano won’t answer the Homeland Security Committee’s request for a briefing.  Like Benghazi they have heavy into a disinformation campaign floating a variety of scenarios to confuse the media — but that apparently doesn’t take much — to prevent the story from being pursued… They are also working very hard to discredit those on the scent.
Last, but certainly not least, I watched as almost the entire Boston Metro Area was put on lockdown.  In a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, various governmental agencies in military garb and equipment were conducting house to house searches.  Most everyone was put under house arrest, which is what “lockdown” is.  Lockdown is not a constitutional concept either at the Massachusetts state level or the federal government level.
 
Essentially, we have finally crossed over into the world of the Police State.  The precedent has been set.  Any time there is an “emergency”, whole regions can be put under house arrest and their persons and domiciles be searched without probable cause.  When it happened in L.A. during the Dorner incident, I thought it was an aberration.  Shame on me.  I should have known that from top to bottom, the State is striving for absolute power, and has become absolutely corrupted.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Poetic Justice

Arizona has passed a bill that requires firearms obtained by municipalities in gun buy-backs to be funnelled back into the market via licensed gun dealers.

That is the best idea I have heard in a long time.

The law was an addendum to the law that requires firearms seized by police in criminal investigations to be sold the same way.

Predictably, nanny-statists and "progressives" were scandalized.

"We hate it when the federal government mandates it to the state, and we're doing the same thing," said Sen. Lynne Pancrazi, D-Yuma. They also complained about victims having to deal with the knowledge that a gun that killed a loved one could end up back on the streets.
Here is a clue, Sen. Pancrazi, if the perp is not back in circulation, you are safe.  The gun is merely a lump of steel made into a tool.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Muslim Terrorists

The Brothers Tsarnaev have been run down.  The older one killed and the younger captured.

They are the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing.  Notice that the Eastern Establishment Press, aka, the Mainstream Media, is not referring to them as Muslim terrorists.  Neither did the US president at first.


One has to ask, what kind of person or persons, would set off bombs at a peaceful public event with the intent to kill and maim, other than terrorists?


The fact that they were Mohammedans is not unimportant.  Americans with any modicum of critical thinking skills will realize that terrorist actions on the part of Mohammedans with any gripe at anything is becoming standard operating procedure.


Were they programmed?  Were they a sleeper cell?  Did they act on their own, lashing out at "the Great Satan"?  We may never know.  They had nearly 10 years to assimilate and chose not to.


Their uncle has an opinion:

I never knew they had any ill will towards United States. Being losers, hatred to those who were able to settle themselves - these are the only reasons I can imagine why they did this. Anything else, religion, is a fraud. I've seen them when they were kids.

Somebody radicalized them but its not my brother who spent his life bringing bread to their table fixing cars. He didn't have time or chance, He's been working.
Young men between the ages of 18 and 29 with a Mohammedan background.  Sound familiar?

So, what does this mean for the rest of us?
  • Avoid large gatherings of people.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Be especially suspicious of unattended bags or packages.
  • Stay far away from people who wearing too much clothing for the weather, or who appear to  be bulkier than their apparent skeletal construction would indicate.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cluless Professor

Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor at Tulane University and apparently a talk show host on MSNBC, the only network you can watch and come away with a lower IQ than when you started, is miffed that people are taking issue with her diatribe where she advocates the state raising a community’s children for the good of the state instead of the state enforcing parental rights.
Now she is defending her pronouncements.  What she had originally said was
“We’ve always had kind of a private notion of children. Your kid is yours, and your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of ‘These are our children.’ So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that ‘kids belong to their parents’ or ‘kids belong to their families,’ and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.”
Of course this is flat out wrong in so many ways. Especially when you consider that communities come and go, but families are forever.  Furthermore, communities are unsustainable without families.
When the backlash occurred, she decided to meet it head on.
“This isn’t about me wanting to take your kids, and this isn’t even about whether children are property. This is about whether we as a society, expressing our collective will through our public institutions, including our government, have a right to impinge on individual freedoms in order to advance a common good. And that is exactly the fight that we have been having for a couple hundred years.”
Wrong.
1.     It is about taking your kids.  It is about taking them, indoctrinating them, and training them to be servants of the state.
2.     The government has no rights that are not granted by the governed, at least in the USA. It’s one of the things that makes the USA a halfway decent place to live.  The law of the land is limited, enumerated rights for the government.  If the government is not specifically allowed to do something, it is legally bound not to do it.
3.     The “common good” is the aggregate of individual good.  If something is not good for the individual, it is not good for the “common”.  This is one area where collectivists throw their logic out the window.
4.     This fight has not been going on for a couple of hundred years. It has been going on since one group of individuals have attempted to exercise control over another group of individuals, which is probably around 3500 years.
She’s clueless. If I had a kid at Tulane, I would not pay the tuition for her class.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

We Can Only Hope It's True

Alan Gottlieb, leader of the Citizen's Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is claiming that he used the background check expansion amendment that is known as the Toomey-Manchin Amendment to restore a bunch of gun rights to the the citizens.

We can only hope that this is true and that the gun-contollers will fall for it.

None of the bills that have been presented to the Senate address any of the causes of of Aurora, or Sandy Hook, or Columbine, or any other mass murder.  The fact of the matter is that firearms are private property and private property is bought and sold without government interference. 

Take the so-called "gun show loophole".  Federal law says licensed firearms dealers must perform a background check on all purchasers of firearms.  This is what takes place at gun shows.  Guns sold by federally licenced dealers may not be sold without such a check and the BATF form 4473 is kept on file by the dealer.  The rationale for federal jurisdiction is the interstate commerce clause in the US Constitution.  There is no "loophole" to get around this requirement.

The anti-rights crowd says that the problem is "unlicensed dealers".  Such a label is an oxymoron.  The concept of "unlicensed dealers" is a construct of illegality.   All legitimate dealers are licenced.  Period.

Now, private individuals may sell their guns and collections of guns.  There are no federal regulations against doing so.  Sometimes, private individuals exchange their legally owned firearms to other private individuals for cash or other items of value.  And, sometimes this happens at gun shows.  These private individuals are not "dealing".  They are not engaging in a business.  They are merely disposing of private property.  If you sold your personal bedroom furniture, you would not be a furniture dealer.  If you sold your personal cars, you would not be a car dealer.  This whole concept of "unlicensed dealers" is merely a obfuscating prevarication to garner support for the anti-rights position.

I am a student of history.  All throughout history, the biggest danger to safety and security of people has been government.  Our founding fathers understood this.  That is why they crafted the Bill of Rights so that the means for hanging on to our rights was the number two item, right after the number one right to be able to voice our complaints.

At the risk of sounding callous, I am sorry that so many innocents have died recently, especially in "gun-free" zones.  But it is a small price to pay for the greater good of keeping tyrants at bay.

Monday, April 8, 2013

It's Starting on a World Wide Scale

The Yen was devalued last Thursday in what Ben Bernanke would call “quantitative easing”.

The Bank of Japan is monetizing the debt that its government has incurred.  The two salient points are
-       The Japanese central bank will increase its monetary base from 138 trillion yen now to 270 trillion yen by the end of 2014
-       It will purchase Japanese government bonds of all maturities up to 40 years

This is the first time during this economic cycle that a nation outside of the Western world has attempted Keynesian economics on this scale.  Japan is taking a page out of Bernanke’s playbook.  The last time the Bank of Japan did something similar, there was a slight contraction in its GDP.  However, world economic conditions were almost the opposite of what they are today.  The world economy can handle a rather large national economy which implements such a policy, as it did back in the first 5 years of the millennia.  But what happens when Japan, the EU, and the USA all do it at the same time?

I believe what we are witnessing is an attempt at inflating away national debts.  If this is indeed the case, then the leading currencies in the world (USD, JPY, EUR) would be worth less.  While many pundits are saying that this will be beneficial to Japan’s balance of trade, I do not see that happening when Japan’s markets are doing the same thing.

In the end, like the Euro and the Dollar, the Yen will lose a percentage of its value.  The ones who will suffer and who will bear the cost are the middle class.  Those who keep their money in currency will suffer more that those who convert it to durable goods and precious metals.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Good Beer

Went to see Oz the Great and Powerful with my younger daughter tonight.  It was a pretty good movie, and I continue to be impressed with Sam Raimi.  He gets better with every project, and this movie contained quite a few subtleties.

However, that is not what this blog entry is about.  After the movie, we went to The Suburban Tap, a local bistro/bar.  They have about 25 beers on tap and another 75 in bottles.  I tend to favor dark, hoppy beers, and on their tap list, they had two stouts.  One, I had never heard of, so I ordered it.

The beer is called Breakout Stout and is produced by Jailhouse Brewing Company in Hampton, Georgia.  The website describes Breakout as
Break out of your routine with our robust blend of dark roasted malts. Breakout Stout is a bold American Stout with a sturdy hop bitterness, a hint of chocolate from chocolate malt and a pleasing finish. Breakout Stout compliments desserts and lends a surprising depth when paired with savory dishes.

STYLE:  Stout
ALCOHOL BY VOLUME: 7.8%

COLOR (0-2): Dark brown. 2

AROMA (0-2): Hoppy smell. 2

HEAD (0-2): Tan color. Persistent medium volume. 2

TASTE (0-5): Excellent hop and malt blend. Heavy in the mouth with a full body. Very drinkable. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Good follow through. 2

OVERALL (0-6): A very good beer for those who like dark, hoppy beers. A better stout than Guiness, in my opinion. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 16 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

We Don't Learn

We don't learn from our mistakes.  Therefore we will repeat them, ad nauseumAccording to Zerohedge, the subprime market for auto loans is creating a new bubble.
At car dealers across the United States, loans to subprime borrowers are surging - up 18% in 2012 YoY, to 6.6 million borrowers.
It has gotten to to the point of ridiculousness.  Subprime lenders are under so much pressure to loan out the money created by the Fed's quatitative easing, that lenders are taking shotguns as collateral on car loans!
And still, though Nelson's credit history was an unhappy one, local car dealer Maloy Chrysler Dodge Jeep had no problem arranging a $10,294 loan from Wall Street-backed subprime lender Exeter Finance Corp so Nelson and his wife could buy a charcoal gray 2007 Suzuki Grand Vitara.

All the Nelsons had to do was cover the $1,000 down payment. For most of that amount, Maloy accepted Jeffrey's 12-gauge Mossberg & Sons shotgun, valued at about $700 online.
This is truly insane, especially when you consider that there is no such thing as a used Mossberg shotgun worth $700.

I have said it before and I will say it again. If you have money in a bank, get it out. Buy gold, buy silver, but buy something.  Nothing good can come of this.  We will hear the same old lie, "too big to fail", and they will use our tax dollars to bail the subprime lenders out, and they will add to the debt, and our currency will become worthless.

Budget Cuts, Part I

With $17 trillion public debt and counting, the circus over the budget in the US House of Representatives has passed being laughable.  There are many good reasons to take an axe and do some wholesale chopping on the federal budget, and survival is far from the least of those reasons.

A good place to start would be the Department of Defense budget.  Now, I have a lot of friends and relatives who call themselves “conservative”.  However, they are not conservative when it comes to military spending.  This puzzles me.

In 2010, military spending in the US was almost $900 billion.  That amount for that year was nearly half of all military spending world wide.  In other words, the US spends almost as much on its military as the rest of the world combined.  And what do we get for it?  Safety, you say.  I say safety could be much less costly.

For instance, the US Navy floats 11 aircraft carrier task force groups.  The most any other country that may be a threat to us is (count it) one.  Would it not make more sense to reduce the number of carrier groups and bring them closer to our shores where they could protect us?

Another point.  The US has strategic defense treaty alliances with over 50 countries.  By my count, the number would be 56, but then, my sources are somewhat limited.  Many of the countries that we are bound to defend, such as the members of the European Union are fully capable of their own defense or are capable with alliances with their neighbors, as in the case of the EU.  Why are we still a part of NATO?  Why cannot the EU for its own military alliance without us?  Why are we maintaining bases inside the EU? 

Follow the money.  For every defense dollar the US spends in Europe that is a dollar that the members of the EU can allocate to pet socialism projects and not have to spend on defense.  The same is true of many other countries as well, such as Japan, Republic of Korea, and Canada.  Canada is particularly troublesome.  It has let so much of its military capacity dissolve into rust and dust.  Ten years ago, 75% of its military airlift capacity was not airworthy.  Lord knows what that figure is now.

The military-industrial complex in the US has become huge, and it has a strong and powerful lobby.  With the debt we are carrying, we can no longer afford such a lobby, and we need to break its back and make some wiser choices.

Most people are not willing to think rationally about putting a price on safety.  It is my contention that we can cut the defense budget and make ourselves safer than we are today.  The first step in this direction is to put a stop to military adventurism.  This means a ban on slogans, such as “Making the world safe for democracy”, and such tripe as that.  It means if there is a civil war in Middle Eastern countries, we stand aside and become spectators.  It means becoming energy independent so we don’t have to go to war to defend someone else’s oil fields.  It means leveraging the excellent technology we already have to project our defense from our own shores.  It means being honest about where the true threats are and not spouting propaganda about imaginary threats.  It means changing the foreign policy.

Of course, this will put the squeeze on defense contractors.  But that is the point.  Let them put their capacity and intellect towards selling reduced capability weapons to other countries, or (and what a concept) goods and services that combat disease, famine, and natural disasters.  They can also adapt war tech to commercial space travel or marine agriculture.

Regardless, I think it is pretty evident that the current level of focus on military is unsustainable over the long term.  Now, before you start accusing me of being isolationist, I would counsel you to look the term up.  A nation like the United States can be engaged in the world community without bombing anyone to oblivion.  Two fantastic ways to do that include political discourse and economic policy.  Both of these approaches have served the US and other countries well in the past.

To wean ourselves off of the public perception that we need so much spending on defense, we need to be realistic about what the threats really are.  Personally, I feel no threat from a tin pot dictator in a largely desert country on the north shore of Africa.  I didn’t feel threatened by roving gangs of thugs in the Balkans, either.  And I sure as heck don’t feel threatened by some third world, stone age country in Central Africa.

So, how do we cut the military budget while making ourselves safer?

1.     Reduce the number of strategic defense treaties to a set with countries that we truly have a dependence on or share a border with.
2.     Focus on real threats to the US, not regional conflicts that have very little to do with the US.
3.     Reduce the number of naval task forces to enough to cover our own shores with a few expanded task forces.
4.     Retire the B-52 fleet.  Reinvest the maintenance budget for these relics into unmanned strike capability (think cruise missiles, not drones)
5.     Disengage from NATO.
6.     Allow Japan to rearm and enter into common defense treaties with like-minded neighbors.
7.     Wind down our wars in the Middle East. Quickly.
8.     Approve the Keystone Pipeline, certify phracking, and exploit the larger shale oil fields. (This has the added bonus of improving the economy)
9.     Implement co-pay deductibles for ex- and retired military health insurance.
10.  With the closing down of foreign bases and foreign wars, reduce the number of active duty personnel.
11.  Coincidentally, with the closing down of foreign bases and foreign wars, reduce the number of civilian contractors.  Use a part of the savings for advanced combat training.
12.  Pay aerospace and defense  contractors for their R&D and bid out production separately for warfighting technology.
13.  Create military specifications for only combat equipment, and not things like hammers and toilet seats.  Allow non-combat materiel to be purchased on the open market .
14.  Do not allow flag rank officers to work for aerospace and defense contractors for a period of five years after their retirement date.

This is a start.  Do I think it will happen?  Not in my lifetime, unless something drastic happens, like the overwhelming federal debt causing the economy to fall into an economic black hole. Oh wait….

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Authority and Moral Justification

Between the EU and North Korea, it occurs to me that governments often lose sight of their purpose.

Take North Korea.  The new "supreme leader", Kim Jong-un is rattling his sabre, an oft-used technique to distract a populace who may become restless because of other activities going on in the government.  While it is hard to take a man who looks like the Pillsbury Doughboy with a tuna can haircut seriously, Kim, like his daddy before him, is a murderous son-of-a-bitch.  With another famine looming, North Koreans are struggling to get out (with no asylum in Red China), but the regime does not want them to leave and is active in petitioning other countries to return its expatriots.

Hey, Kim, here's a tip: If you have to put up fences to keep your people in, you are doing something wrong.  Something bad wrong.

The same is true in the EU with respect banks and money.  I completely understand the risk that bank runs poses for certain sectors in the economy.  However, if you have to put up currency controls to keep money from leaving the country, you are doing something bad wrong.  It would be better to let the banks fail (which is essentially unpreventable anyway), pick up the pieces, and implement policies which would encourage money to come in and remain in a sustainable environment.  The best and easiest way would be to implement some form of currency which has intrinsic value.

If a government does not allow its citizens the freedom to manage their lives, property, and well being as they see fit, there is no moral justification for that government's existence.  It's authority is illegitimate.