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Quick Updates

6/9/24: I funally found the time and a time cirtical issue to discuss. It's coming out Monday morning.

Working on all the other issues too....

Switching Sides

I have been hearing lately about “sure, the KKK used to be Democrats, but now they’re Republicans.” This has caused some confusion in my mind, so I’ve been doing some research off and on, while letting my subconscious mull it over. A couple of days ago, I got the message from my subconscious saying that a conclusion has been reached, so here it is:

First of all, history is unequivocal in the facts that Democrats were the party that supported slavery. After the Civil War, it was Democrats that formed the Klu Klux Klan, and forced Jim Crow laws on Blacks in the South.

In the 1950’s, it was Democrats that fought integration of the schools. George Wallace, the Democrat Governor of Alabama himself stood at the doors of the school that was the first to be integrated. The Civil Rights Act of 1957, which was to support the SCOTUS decision Brown v. Board of Education. Senator Strom Thurmond (D-SC) filibustered the bill in the Senate for 24 hours and 18 minutes by himself. By the way, 107 House Democrats and 18 Senate Democrats voted against this bill. 19 House Republicans also voted against it.

When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was being debated, Senator Thurmond again led the filibuster effort, blocking all work in the Senate for 57 working days (the Senate is only “in session” three days a week). Senators Richard Russell (D-GA), Robert Byrd (D-WV), William Fulbright (D-AR) and Sam Ervin (D-NC) filled out the filibuster team.

According to people who have told me “Klukkers are now Republicans” it was about this time that the “racist Democrats” heard the “Republican Dog Whistle” that the GOP was going to be the “party of racists” and invited them to switch sides. Never mind that the Republican Party was formed specifically to end slavery. Please, forget that most of the integration and equality efforts were by Republicans.

I will admit, that this is when the Republican Party started its ascent to prominence in the politics of the South, but it was not because of a “Republican Dog Whistle.” It was for another, more basic reason.

President John F. Kennedy, who is still by-and-large revered by Democrats, would have been a Republican today. A Roman Catholic, he would probably have been against Roe v. Wade. I can be as sure as anyone can be today because Kennedy appointed one Justice to SCOTUS, Byron White, who voted against the decision. Kennedy was also pro-RKBA, pro-tax cuts and anti-affirmative action. Kennedy’s positions on these subjects were considered the ideological base of the Democrat Party in 1960.

It was in 1962 that Reagan switched from being a Democrat to a Republican, saying that famous line, “I didn’t leave the Democrat Party, the Democrat Party left me.”

That the Democrat Party has stood for higher taxes, anti-gun, pro-affirmative action and pro-abortion (because, you know we have to force pro-life clinics to talk about abortions) since about 1968 until today, only says that the people who have run the Democrat Party have moved very far Left in their political views.
Coupled with the “toe-the-line-or-lose-your-toes” stance Liberals have (remember my post on Liberals eating their own?), it is no wonder that some Democrats have switched sides. They remained where they were ideologically, however the Democrats run to the Far-Left meant that some of these people found their ideological beliefs now aligned more with Republicans than Democrats.

How about that. Occam's Razor still applies.

Baby in the house!

Baby chick, that is.

I have owned a pair of Sun Conures since 2001, which means they predate this blog which was started in 2003. Rocket was the first one I bought, whom I took pity on. Rocket shared a tree perch with a Macaw at the breeders home and the Macaw didn't like Rocket, so the Macaw nipped 3 of 4 toes off one foot. Corky, short for Corkscrew (a type of model rocket) followed a couple of months later.

rocketcorky

They are about half way through their life span, and I never bothered to have their sex determined, which involves plucking a blood feather and sending it off for DNA analysis. If you have ever talked with me on the phone while I was home, you have heard them. They are loud, squawk a lot, and are very affectionate.

Almost a year ago, they discovered that they are a pair and started having sex. Corky is male, Rocket is the female. Eggs followed shortly there after. I built them a nest box, which they have chewed the lip (to keep things from rolling out) and the top off of it. I wasn't too concerned about egg viability because they were probably not fertile because of their age.

Probably.

Thursday night, we started hearing a very soft "peep, peep" coming from their cage. Lo and behold, a little baby Conure chick was there, freshly hatched. Panic mode ensues, hay was added to the cage and chick supplies were quickly researched and to be purchased in the morning.

Hoist by their own petard

Before I start this, let me be unequivocal: I do not want to write this. The suggestions I will make later are detestable, especially to me. That being said, Liberals opened a door I have repeatedly warned them about. You made your bed, now lie in it.

I HATE klukkers and supremacists of any color. I hate them more than the Blues Brothers put together and multiplied by several orders of magnitude. If you believe that one person or group is better than another person or group based on skin color or genetic heritage, you are a fucking idiot and I give you fair warning, do not try your shit with me. If you do, I will be all up on you to a scale that will have R. Lee Ermey giving me a slow clap. If I find a supremacist (no matter the color) on fire, I will not throw gasoline on him. I will throw kerosene on him, because it burns slower and at a lower temperature, thus it would be a longer and more painful experience.

As a young man of 14, I first heard and took to heart the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to judge people by the content of their character rather than their skin color. I have never regretted that decision. As a young man, I had a KKK member try to recruit me. The event was so sickening to me that almost 40 years later, I still remember where I was, his face and what the business card he gave me said.

That being said, I am going to say something that upsets me. You see, in the wake of the recent events in Charlottesville, GoDaddy kicked a white supremacist website, The Daily Stormer, off their servers. Let me tell you why I am against that.

The MSM has always employed a trick to play up (or down) crowd size in order to advance their agenda. When 200 people showed up to a Hillary rally, the MSM implied 2,000 showed up, while when 2,000 showed up at a Trump rally, the MSM made it seem like only 200 showed up. They are doing the same with these white supremacists.

If you rounded up every white supremacist in the United States (no, we are NOT going to shoot them) and dropped them all in the same congressional district, they could put up one of their own for Congress and not win. There is not enough of them to be the majority in a single Congressional District. While they do exist, the numbers are few, bordering on insignificant.

The supremacists, with the help of the MSM, are following the first rule of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals: Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have. The supremacists want to appear bigger than they are (to imply they have more power than they actually have) and the MSM wants them to appear bigger than they are so the MSM looks more powerful than they are when the MSM “takes down the alt-Right.”

Now, in case you missed it in the SCOTUS case Metal v. Tam, the Supreme Court ruled (split decision 4-4, but both sides basically agreed) that:

A law found to discriminate based on viewpoint is an “egregious form of content discrimination,” which is “presumptively unconstitutional.” … A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all. The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government’s benevolence. Instead, our reliance must be on the substantial safeguards of free and open discussion in a democratic society.

So there can be no “hate speech” standard, because a) the government would have to define it and b) the government is restricted in every way, shape or form from touching that subject. There are very special and specific restrictions, namely Obscenity, Child Pornography and “Fighting Words and True Threats.” You can read about it here.

A supremacist website can legally say “We’re better than you!” all they want. They will and should run afoul of legal entanglements if they start calling for “All [insert color of choice here] people need to band together and eradicate all those who [insert nonsensical criteria here] tomorrow!”

Why would I want this kind of hateful spewing of ignorance available to everyone? Because if we as a society can restrict their speech, then eventually society might get around to restricting mine.

Just like Maximilien Robesperre who fanned the flames of the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. As a member of the Committee of Public Safety, he sent thousands to “the National Razor” (i.e., the Guillotine). Because you cannot control a large monster like this once created, Robesperre himself eventually earned a place in that line that ended with his head in a basket. The lesson here is, if I call for “off with his head!” at someone today, others might call “off with his head!” at me tomorrow.

So I want these idiots on the Internet. That way, we know what they are saying and what they are doing. We fight ignorance and hate with truth and love. If we silence any group we don’t agree with, we force them into the darkness, where they and their ideas can fester, leading to long-term problems.

By the way, I do not condone doxing, because if done improperly, innocent people get hurt. Case in point, this image:

doxing

While these two men have a passing resemblance and the guy on the right works at the place the guy on the left has on his shirt, these are not the same person. I have a deep-dive article on this in progress.

Now we get to the part I do not want to write. That being said, I also don’t want myself or this website silenced or threatened with silence because someone decided the words on here constitute that ambiguous “hate speech.”

I stand up to protect the unrestricted voicing of opinions, no matter who says them. I will equally support Planned Parenthood, Black Lives Matter, supremacists of all colors and creeds, all religions, the NRA, Hillary Clinton, Slate, Salon, Fox News, the New Black Panthers, the Huffington Post, Breitbart and a thousand more organizations. They should be allowed to voice their opinions as they see fit.

Now, if I think their views and opinions are stupid, I’m going to say that as well. I think they have to right to embarrass themselves in public however they want to.

I have said many times in many places (unfortunately I have not codified it on this website) that a business should have the right to refuse any transaction with a customer for any reason. However, in their rush for social justice, Liberals went the other way, thus forcing the door open for my following suggestion.

And just to prove that we are a nation of laws and not feelings (and the laws work equally for all), I offer this advice to the person who owns The Daily Stormer:

Just like the case of David Mullins and Charlie Craig sued Masterpiece Cakeshop and won because the bakery refused to produce a product for their same-sex marriage celebration, you can sue GoDaddy. Masterpiece Cakeshop ended up not producing cakes for anybody because of this situation.

You might not get your hosting back, however it would probably be easier and cheaper to capitulate and furnish your hosting than have the government force GoDaddy to provide “comprehensive staff training,” rewrite company policies and provide reports for the foreseeable future to make sure they aren’t violating the rights of anyone else.

In both Ohio, the state in which you reside, and Arizona where GoDaddy is located, there are public accommodation laws that prevent discrimination on the basis of religion or creed.

Mr. Daily Stormer, I’m sure you attend a church that makes the postulations on a regular basis that “Whites are the Superior Race.*” Using that as a basis, you can argue that since that is part of your religious belief system, your expressions of hate and derision for non-whites are religious in base and nature, thus protected by those same accommodation laws that same-sex couples can use to force a business to provide them a product or service against the will of the business owners.

I’m not a lawyer and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, however I think if you use that argument, you have a fair chance to force GoDaddy to accommodate you.

As a final thought, both radical left- and right-wing groups can use the same strategy and reasoning to prevent Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, snapchat and all of the other Social Media companies to likewise restrict their views.

This is why I advocate for government staying out of peoples’ lives as much as possible. Because when you set the precedent for government to force a business to do (or not do) something that the government shouldn’t be regulating in the first place, don’t be shocked when that tactic and reasoning are used against you to force you to do something that is reprehensible to you. Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

* Of course, I’m reasonably sure if you attend church, it is probably some form of Christianity. A lot of supremacist people who are “God-fearing people” might be horrified to learn that Jesus was a Semitic Jew, dark-skinned and dark-haired. Not the blond haired, blue-eyed handsome guy you see in the drawings today.

North Korea Update

As a follow up to my North Korea Brief, did you notice in the past two days that the prospect of North Korea launching missiles at Guam very suddenly evaporated? Kim Jong Un Backs Down In Nuclear Showdown With Trump.

This is what I consider to be a rather wonderful application of B. H. Liddel Hart’s indirect approach to diplomacy. Remember, if the US had to actually invade North Korea, China was going to intervene on the side of NK.

All Trump had to do was talk about opening an investigation into China’s trade practices concerning Intellectual Property and Patent thefts from US companies doing business in China to China’s President Xi Jinping. That happened on Friday, August 11th. Mind you, nothing as of this moment that I write this has actually started beyond a memorandum to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to look into the matter.

On Tuesday, August 15th, Dear Leader Kim Jong-un decided to not fire missiles at Guam, reserving the right to change his mind, if “blah, blah, blah.”

Let me spell this out. The US market is China’s biggest customer. If we suddenly start “finding discrepancies” if how China deals with our companies, we might have to do something about it, like halting Chinese imports. This would be a bad thing for China.

The best visual I can use to describe how economics works is, imagine a person walking back and forth on a gymnastics balance beam, which is only 4” wide. This beam is suspended above a pit of hungry crocodiles. While walking back and forth on this balance beam and trying not to become crocodile lunch, this person has to juggle 15 running chainsaws. That are on fire. Any mistake, slip or mis-timed move and things rapidly go from bad to horrific.

There would be no winners in this. If we halt Chinese imports, their economy would quickly collapse. Which by consequence seriously hurt the US as well, since China is using the profits from what they sell to us to buy our Treasury bonds and keep our government overspending. Our government would then crash like Greg Biffle and Kasey Kahne trading paint and causing a twenty-six car pileup at Daytona in 2014. No one wants this to happen. Not the Chinese and certainly not us.

So I can only conclude that between when Trump spoke with Xi on Friday and Kim trying to back down gracefully on Tuesday, I can only infer that there were a lot of talking between Xi and Kim, along the lines of Xi saying, “Listen to me very carefully, you short, fat, petulant child, if you launch your missiles, after Trump bombs your sorry ass back to before the stone age I will send my troops into North Korea. My troops will find you and they will drag you face down behind a truck all the way to Beijing where I will personally drill a hole in your sorry bowl-cut forehead and I will scramble your grey matter with an egg beater to solve this problem I have with you. HAVE I MADE MYSELF ABUNDANTLY CLEAR!!!?!?!?!” (Not a direct quote. Probably.)

So by using the indirect method of threatening the entire Chinese economy, Trump forced China’s hand to do Trumps dirty work and bring Kim to heel. I fully anticipate that if this trade investigation gets anywhere, it might find a few minor violations which will be swiftly dealt with and it will be quickly back to business between the US and China. Was this Trump's idea, or did this come from one of his economic advisors? Don't know, don't care. I still don't like him, nor trust him. But I have to admit, this is an elegant solution to this crisis.

Look for China to retaliate in some way, probably in 6 months to a year. They do not like being made fools of, nor to do the work of their enemy. They are also patient. Let's hope Trump will be prepared and can apply a deft Judo move and thwart whatever the Chinese try.

Philly soda tax update

I wrote in March of this year the post Chutzpah about the 1.5 cent-per-ounce distribution tax on “sugary beverages” in Philadelphia. I found these two articles to explain what is going on today, Philly’s Drink Tax Is Hurting Consumers, Businesses, and the Poor and Soda Tax Experiment Failing in Philadelphia Amid Consumer Angst and Revenue Shortfalls.

The City initially estimated that they would collect $46.2 Million in revenue between January 1st, 2017 when the tax started and the end of its fiscal year June 30th. Through some accounting sleight-of-hand known as “revised projections,” city officials stated that they have “adjusted” this number to $39.7 Million, a 14% downward revision. Too bad the actual receipts came up short of even that number, at $39.46 Million.

As with most taxes, it hurts those on the bottom of the economic ladder the hardest. Those with transportation engaged in the classic American pastime of tax avoidance by shopping outside Philadelphia where the tax was not collected. Those who couldn’t drive out to the suburbs to shop made the difficult choice to buy less food or less soda.

Please notice in the receipt below that the tax is over half the price of the product and the transaction was cancelled.

philly soda tax receipt twitter

Then there are the secondary economic effects of such a tax, between Coca-Cola (40) and PepsiCo (80-100) over one hundred people have lost their jobs at the bottlers because of the drop in sales. PepsiCo is also pulling all of their 12-pack and 2-liter products from all stores that sell those products in Philadelphia. I don't have any information on if or how many people working at grocery stores, convenience stores and other places that sell soda have lost their jobs due to decreased sales at their store, or how many stores had to close because the drop in sales killed their profitability.

There is a (somewhat) good news part to this rather stupid idea, beer is now less expensive than soda, so Philadelphians are now consuming cheaper but higher calorie beer and thus becoming more overweight than they would have been if they had stuck with the now unaffordable soda. I called this a stupid idea because the tax covered all sugar-sweetened sodas, fruit drinks, sports and energy drinks, sweetened water, pre-sweetened coffee and tea and mixers in alcoholic drinks. Starbucks and other places that prepared the drinks were exempted. To show you that this is about 1) controlling the citizens and 2) raising money for the city coffers by taxing citizens to the breaking point, zero-calorie diet drinks are also subject to the tax. Thomas Farley, the head of Philadelphia’s health department admitted his stupidity when he explained why diet drinks are included: “People will be less likely to switch from sugary drinks to diet drinks, but they may be more likely to switch from sugary drinks to water, and that is what we want.” (emphasis from National Review article)

So again, Liberals show their inability to grasp second-level thinking. They institute a tax and base their economic budgets on past levels of consumption, never considering for a second that their tax might cause a decrease in demand for the product they are taxing.

When (not if) the taxes come in short of what the politicians already spent, they face a fiscal crisis. This means the services supported by the tax are now cut back or even eliminated, while the citizens have less money in their pocket. Both lose in the short and long term.

 

North Korea Brief

This post is going to have a lot of information in it to give you a good context of what is going on, what could happen and what is likely to happen with the current situation with North Korea.

First, we are still at war with North Korea. A cease-fire was signed in 1953, but no cease of hostilities has ever been given. We currently have about 35,000 troops in South Korea.

Why would North Korea, Iran or any of these less powerful states be so eager to join the Nuclear Club? Because they realize that no nation can resist the conventional (i.e. non-nuclear) force the United States can bring to bear on them militarily. Properly unleashed, we would roll over them like a truck running over a squirrel. Now, if a nation had the ability to deliver a nuclear warhead into the middle of our conventional forces or on top of our command and control structure in theatre, that drastically changes how we would do things.

Let’s talk about what a nuclear weapon really is. It is a device using nuclear fission or fission-fusion (in the case of a thermonuclear or “H-bomb”) to create a really big explosion. A nuclear weapon can be used in two ways: property damage in the case of a ground or air burst, or an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) at high altitudes to destroy electronic and electric grid equipment. I’m not going to get into the "how that happens" of that here. Suffice it to say an EMP over say, Salt Lake City will destroy most if not all computers, cell phones, tablets, etc. from about the Colorado/Kansas border back to the West Coast. This would also destroy most of the electrical transmission in that area. The long term effects of that is no power to anyone for months, if not years because just about every transformer and other major component of the electrical grid would have to be replaced.

North Korea’s biggest nuclear test to date was about 20 kt, (kilotons, or 20,000 tons of dynamite). This was the size of the Nagasaki blast. This will be a fission blast. By contrast, one of our Minuteman III missiles has either 3 W78 warheads of about 330 kt or a single W87 475 kt warhead.

North Korea has just claimed (without outside verification) that it has “miniaturized” a physics package (that’s what a nuclear device is referred to as) to a weight and dimensions to make it feasible to launch it on a missile.

For the missile itself, just because you send something up, there is no guarantee it will land where you want it to. We don't know, and the NK’s probably don't either, what the CEP of their missiles are. The CEP, or Circular Error of Probability, means if you have a CEP of one mile and you launch 10 warheads at the same spot, 5 of them will land within that one mile circle, the other 5 outside.

I gave you all of that so you can understand why I am saying this:

If NK actually launches a weapon at Guam, (210 square miles in a sparse area of the Pacific Ocean, 2,100 miles from NK) the missile has to actually survive the boost phase (a 50/50 shot at best with NK’s hardware), then have an untested physics package survive a re-entry (which NK has never even tried, let alone succeeded with this) and it has to actually go off correctly (i.e. initiate an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction) within 1 mile of Guam to actually do damage. In my estimation, when I give a 10% chance of a successful strike, I am being generous.

I stated a 1 mile accuracy because with a 30 kt device, anyone within 1.75 miles of the bomb will receive 3rd degree burns. You can check it out here, put “.03” in the yield area, because a 30 kt weapon is .03 mt.

NK has promised to “bracket” Guam with four missiles. Given their ability to aim, they might actually hit when they were trying to miss. I highly doubt, given their probable stockpiles of nuclear weapons, that these missiles will be armed. But then again we are talking about a spoiled man-child who executed an uncle by mortar fire.

What is going to drop that 10% chance to zero is the US military. Ticonderoga-class cruisers and Arliegh Burke-class destroyers carry several Standard Missile-3 weapons, which are designed to shoot down ballistic missiles and even satellites in low Earth orbit. I would be shocked if there were not 1-2 of these ships already on station off Korea, Guam, Hawaii and the West Coast, ready to intercept any missiles that are launched against us. Guam also has a THAAD battery, which is a land-based anti-ballistic missile system. If we have three ships and the THAAD on the path the missile must take, North Korea would have to simultaneously launch at least 10 missiles to even have a chance of one getting through.

Now let's talk about our man-child, Kim Jong-Un. We used the concept of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) against the Soviets during the Cold War. We made it public that if the Soviets launched even 1 missile at us, we would launch everything in retaliation. With the Soviet Politburo being comprised of reasonable men who wanted to survive, they never intentionally brought us to that brink.

Our short buddy Kim, well he’s looking to become a god and he won't hesitate to sacrifice his entire country to obtain that godhood. Think Emperor Cartagia from Babylon 5.

By the way, thanks to Obama and his conciliatory attitude toward Iran and their nuclear program, we are going to be in this situation in about 15 years again with them. Except they will use their nukes against Israel because they have the blessing of Allah to do so. But I digress.

There is a major player I have not mentioned yet: China. During the Korean War, when UN forces made it to the NK-China border, China intervened and pushed UN forces back to the 38th parallel. China has an interest to keep the current power structure in NK active, if only to act as a thorn in the side of the US. NK is China’s barking dog, growling and snapping at anyone nearby.

China has an “official unofficial” news site, Global Times, which released this “editorial” on August 10th. Here’s the important part:

Beijing is not able to persuade Washington or Pyongyang to back down at this time. It needs to make clear its stance to all sides and make them understand that when their actions jeopardize China's interests, China will respond with a firm hand.

China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral. If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.

China opposes both nuclear proliferation and war in the Korean Peninsula. It will not encourage any side to stir up military conflict, and will firmly resist any side which wants to change the status quo of the areas where China's interests are concerned. It is hoped that both Washington and Pyongyang can exercise restraint. The Korean Peninsula is where the strategic interests of all sides converge, and no side should try to be the absolute dominator of the region.

This boils down to “if NK launches, it’s okay with Beijing if the US spanks NK. If we send troops, to actually solve the situation, China will get involved.”

From the “Official Official” Chinese website Xinhuanet comes this relation of a conversation between President Xi Jinping and President Trump, where Xi urges cool heads on both sides of this issue.

Now, if NK actually launches at US territory, this is where multiple scenarios can happen.

Scenario A:

The most likely is NK launches one or multiple missiles at Guam. I am 99% sure they will be successfully engaged and destroyed before they become a threat to Guam.

This will be a conventional, not nuclear response.

We already have most of those coordinates and will be doing satellite intelligence that day for final coordinates. Ships will already have their orders and be waiting for the final targeting data and the execute order.

US cruise missiles will be launched from US ships which will be stationed off strategic areas of NK, under the cover of darkness targeting radar installations first to limit NK’s ability to respond to threats. A second wave of missiles would then destroy any set missile launch points and/or known portable missile launchers. A good punch to disrupt the NK Command and Control structure will probably be the end of the US retaliation.

Scenario B:

NK actually launches a nuclear weapon which is not shot down and by accident or on purpose (on the part of NK), explodes over or near Guam.

See conventional response above, on steroids. I hope and pray no nuclear devices are used in response.

In this scenario, I can see an erasure of the NK military. Every ship and sub bigger than a rowboat will be engaged and sunk, in port or on the open seas. Any NK aircraft within weapons rage of a US combat unit will be shot down. Every known base, munitions stockpile and rally point will be rendered unusable.

I have no insight on NK’s coordinated actions with their missile launch or their plans for retaliation for US response. I would trust Charles Manson before I trust Kim Jong-Un.

I do know that Seoul is within artillery range of North Korea, and there are probably 100+ “tubes” (military speak for pieces of artillery or mortars) in place already. They can be firing within 5 minutes of getting the order and each tube can get out 4-6 shots a minute until they run out of ammunition or are destroyed.

I can see 1-2 ships in international waters not too far away from where the artillery is probably located, who will close and provide counter-battery fire against that artillery if necessary.

As in the aftermath of any armed conflict, there are no winners, only survivors. I hope above all that no conflict breaks out.

That being said, in 1986 President Reagan bombed the crap out of Libya and we did not hear a peep of trouble from him for seventeen years. The only reason we heard from Gadhafi then was because Bush 43 was looking for WMD, and Gadhafi surrendered his so fast it was almost comical.

Thank President Clinton for starting this mess and Bush 43 for cocking things up worse. The base fact is that NK was never sincere in agreeing to the “framework.” Which leads to the fact that if you negotiate with someone who is not sincere, you don’t negotiate with them, you spank them appropriately when and how.

 

Integrity Update

In this article I talked about the importance of integrity, the demand that your word be impeccable in your trustworthiness.

So now it comes to light via The Australian (sorry, it's behind a paywall) that the Thredbo Top weather station has been deleting record cold temperatures (remember it's Summer in the US, it's Winter in Australia). Two meteorologists noticed temperatures of about -10C (14 degrees Fahrenheit) disappear from the records.

The culprit? A smart card reader. Riiiiiiiiight.

It has been reported online that electronic smart cards were allegedly fitted to the BoM’s automatic weather stations, which put a limit on how low temperatures could be recorded in official weather data. The BoM declined to comment ahead of the internal review.

[...]

On her website yesterday, Dr Marohasy said it was not the recording­ devices that were at fault. “To be clear, the problem is not with the equipment; all that needs to be done is for the smart-card readers to be removed,” Dr Marohasy said.

I deal with card readers every day in my job. If a smart card reader is deleting data, then the idiots who wrote the firmware for the reader need to be flogged. There is no computational power in the reader itself to manipulate data other than to translate it from "computer-speak" to "smartcard-speak." At best, there has to be an logic trap that they screwed up on as part of the translation process because the deleted readers are all two digit negative numbers. At worst, the logic trap was intentionally there to "shave off " low temperatures. I will lean toward the former due to Occam's Razor, but I'm not entirely eliminating the latter.

 

Distractions from the real stuff

Back in January, right after Trump took office, I wrote the post Trump the Magnificent, which was all about misdirection.

Apparently, The Atlantic, not exactly a bastion of Conservative principles (I am being facetious, they are quite Liberal in their ink) recently came to the same realization. Trump Has Quietly Accomplished More Than It Appears.

While the Democrats and the MSM are distracted by Scaramucci's short tenure as White House Press Secretary, their persecution (not prosecution) of the "Trump-Russia collusion" and the rest of the "chaos," things have been happening behind the curtain that will have long-term effects.

Trump, between his Tweets, who he picks for various high-profile positions and their personal issues have created a smoke-screen that the shallow, salacious-seeking MSM can't get past to see the real changes being made.

When I play strategic-level wargames, I am always doing multiple feints. Except they aren't feints. Each one is a real threat and can strike a killing blow, or disappear in a puff of smoke when struck at. The Democrats and the MSM better hope and pray Trump is not as ruthless as I am. When I corner an enemy, I leave a way out. Sun Tzu taught me that because a cornered enemy will fight harder than one who can escape. Sun Tzu also taught me to make that "escape" a path straight to Hell with booby-traps, ambushes and dead-ends to sap the will of the enemy and pick them off until they are destroyed or surrender.

Trump is leading his opponents down a primrose path. By the time they realize where they are, they will be over the cliff, with jagged rocks rapidly approaching.

Trump is playing a very long game. And right now, he's winning.

Too polite of a society

When I was going to High School in the 70's fights were a rare thing. If you came to blows with another student, it was not over a trivial matter. Generally, a couple of punches were thrown, then you got into wrestling scrum until a teacher broke it up. After that (and we were appropriately "cracked" or paddled), the matter was settled. We did not carry weapons in school, although some might have come to school from hunting with a shotgun still in their truck. The thought to escalate a fight to that level and use a firearm was nonsensical, it just didn't happen, you never considered it. "Bad form" I guess is how the British would describe it.

Adults (in certain lower socioeconomic circles) almost fought for fun. But when things came to blows, it was almost Marquess of Queensberry rules. There were certain things you did not do, certain lines you did not cross unless the "disagreement" was very personal. I guess you could say, in its own way, this kind of fighting was "polite."

Society was also to a large degree polite. I don't know if it was causation or correlation between this polite society and "polite fighting"  that if you got into another mans face without good reason his fist got in your face.

But of course, society changes. Today we are by and large cowed into submission because we have been taught "violence never solves anything." All we have to do is look into Starship Troopers and see this exchange:

One girl told him [Mr. DuBois] bluntly: “My mother says that violence never settles anything.”

“So?” Mr. Dubois looked at her bleakly. “I’'m sure the city fathers of Carthage would be glad to know that. Why doesn'’t your mother tell them so? Or why don’t you?”

They had tangled before — since you couldn’'t flunk the course, it wasn'’t necessary to keep Mr. Dubois buttered up. She said shrilly, “You’re making fun of me! Everybody knows that Carthage was destroyed!”

“You seemed to be unaware of it,” he said grimly. “Since you do know it, wouldn'’t you say that violence had settled their destinies rather thoroughly?"

Do I think we should "be more violent?" No. Violence should never be the first option. It shouldn't be a second or third option either. But it should always be an option. Of course, today maximum violence is the first option. People are shot and killed routinely for insignificant issues.

Think of it this way: every interaction we have with other people has a cost and a price. While those words are used interchangeably, they do not mean the same thing. In economic terms, the price of something is what we pay in currency to obtain a service or product. the cost is what we have to go through to obtain enough currency to perform that transaction.

In a societal sense, transactions with other people cost us only our time and the price is very low, even in the case of a contentious interaction. Case in point, this woman (I won't call her a lady) gets up in a couples face for "spewing pollution." Both parties are where they are for their own innocent reasons. I highly doubt either party was there to aggravate the other. But this woman had her reasons to confront these people.

Now for a thought exercise. DISCLAIMER: Would this happen in real life? I highly doubt so. This is a "WHAT IF..." type of scenario.

Let's say that about the 1:00 point of that video, they guy gets fed up with Prius Woman and punches her lights out. One solid good punch which knocks the woman on her ass. The guy then says, "I can do that again if you press the issue." So Prius Woman runs back to her car, calls 911 and the police show up. The officer speaks with both sides, then pulls Prius Woman aside.

"Ma'am," the officer says, "let me get this straight. You were both sitting here and you decided to go to them and yell at them for parking near you and having a bad smelling truck. At that point he punched you."

"Yes , officer!" Prius woman yells. "I want you to arrest them! I want to file charges for assault!"

"Ma'am," the officer says, "If anyone is getting arrested, it would be you for assaulting them, because you instigated and escalated the encounter. You are very lucky that he only hit you once. You could have been beaten to a pulp, or shot and killed. This gentleman exercised extraordinary restraint. You are not hurt except for your pride. Please take this as a learning opportunity to not get into other peoples faces for trivial matters. Good day."

My end point is this: if Prius Woman knew up front, before she got into their faces that by her actions she would have a 100% chance of getting her lights punched out, do you think she would have started the encounter in the first place? Hopefully she would be smart enough to not start the encounter. I am under no illusions here. In our current society, if my thought exercise was anywhere close to reality, Prius Woman would have walked up and without a word doused the couple with pepper spray at a minimum.

Is this approach going to work in all places and circumstances? Of course not, and if you try to infer so, I must in response infer you have a brick for a brain. As a rational being, you need to weigh the pros and cons of an interaction before you get into it and if you can get out of it.

 

The case for school vouchers

The definition of insanity is basically “doing the same thing repeatedly expecting a different result.” Stupidity has to be defined as “Trying harder to increase results when earlier tries with the same method have not produced a measurable positive result.”

It’s actually become one of those blasé dichotomies about Liberals: “We spend too much on healthcare!” but then they turn around and say “We need to spend more on education!” We as the government are spending more and more on education, yet we as children, parents and communities are receiving very little returns for our investment.

I found this PDF, State Education Trends where spending and SAT scores are broken down by state. The data is quite alarming. The spending by states on education between 1972 and 2010 has been nothing less than staggering. In inflation-adjusted dollars, the average nationwide school spending per student has increased 118 percent. There is a wide variance in the levels of the increase, Arizona’s spending has gone up only 60 percent while Montana’s spending increased a whopping 225 percent.

Yet, the Liberals favorite standard, the SAT scores (Liberals want everyone to go to college and not to trade school) has dropped. Four states have had the SAT scores increase over the given period, with Mississippi on top of the list at an 11 percent increase. Alabama, Louisiana and Michigan all also had an overall increase of SAT scores. North Carolina has remained unchanged. This leaves 45 states whose SAT scores have declined. For those of you who don’t math very well, 90% of the states have seen their SAT scores decline. New York and Delaware tied for the bottom at an 8 percent decline, followed by Wyoming (remember, their spending increased 225 percent) Rhode Island and Pennsylvania.

Here’s the telling part: The number of school employees (Teachers, assistants, administrators, clerical staff, maintenance, etc.) have increased 97 percent. I find this interesting because in California (I don't know about the other states), teachers have the choice on if they want to join the state Teachers Union. However, paying dues to the union is mandatory. You have to pay, member or not. Where does that money go? Into lobbying to increase the scope and power of the public education system, of course! Where else would it go?

Here’s an example to give you a context. In 1970, say a school system had 1,000 students and 50 employees (a 20:1 ratio). In 2010, there are now 1,008 students and 99 employees, for a 10:1 ratio. So we have more people “working for the children,” but we aren’t seeing a net increase of our children’s test scores.

Since 2000, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has been giving a standardized test to 15-year-old students every three years to judge and rank countries by student performance. This test scores the students on math, science and reading.

In 2015, the United States scored 40th (470), 25th (496) and 24th (497) in the respective areas out of 72 countries. The #1 performer in all three areas? Singapore, scoring 564, 556 and 535. Here’s the kicker: According to UNESCO, in 2010 Singapore spent 11% of their GDP per capita per student on primary education and 16.7% on secondary education. The United States spent 20.9% on primary and 24.3% on secondary. When you factor in the difference between the GDP’s, Singapore spent 60% as much per student in elementary schools and 75% of what the US spent for high school.

If I was an educator with some common sense, (I have some common sense but I’m not an “educator” except in the context of this blog educating you, my dear readers) maybe we should send some people over there to you know, look at how they do things and see if we can use bits from it to improve our children’s scores?

The United States was meant from the outset for each state to be a “different experiment in freedom.” Everybody try things in different ways, then report back to the group on what works and what doesn’t. Then (the most important part) the states that didn’t do so hot go back and try what worked. Out of 100 different experiments, 90+ will probably fail, however they provide valuable data other states can use, even if they know what not to do. When we have one federal governmental bureaucratic entity dictating most of how things will be done, there is no room for that experimentation.

I cannot say this enough: I am all for maximum personal choice. I firmly believe that parents should have the choice to send their children to the school of their choice, public, private, charter or home. If the community charges school taxes, the parents should have that money earmarked for their children to pay for the school of their choice.

You don’t get better unless you have competition. Competition forces you to get better at your product or service. If you have no competition, you languish, if not decline because you don’t have to improve yourself. Your customers will come to you because they have no choice.

 

Why integrity is critical today

Simply put, there is too much information in the world today. Currently, we have about 1 Zettabyte (1 Billion Terabytes) of data (raw and processed) available on the Internet, with that number growing by terabytes almost every second. One person cannot absorb more than a shadow of a sliver of information for every subject that impacts their life. Even then, it would take months or years to be truly knowledgeable on even one subject.

This means that there is not enough time in the day for us to learn about and contemplate everything that affects our lives on the “meta” level. This means that we have to trust SME’s (Subject Matter Experts) to boil these critical subjects and discussions down into its core meaning so we can digest it, make a semi-informed decision on it and carry on with our daily lives.

Which leads us to an "Adam Ruins Everything" video. I have already commented on his video on the Electoral College. Adam lays out quite plainly in this video, Low-Fat Foods Are Making You Fatter that scientists either had a personal agenda or were paid to cherry-pick and “shave” data to provide the predetermined result of “fat makes you fatter.” I don’t care if it’s the Sugar Industry, the Beef Industry or the Vegan Industry, using data that only supports your predetermined conclusion theory, you’re lying.

Oh, sure, you can hide the true data in a single paragraph while you spend 20 pages explaining your predetermined conclusion, like I talked about here in Lying Statistics and say you’ve been truthful. That’s like a company having a 20 page EULA (End-User Licensing Agreement, all that Legalese you click “I Agree” on without reading when you buy software) that in the next-to-last paragraph, it says, “By agreeing to this EULA, you willingly surrender permanent and total custody of your immortal soul to this company.”

I understand the plight of the researcher. They are struggling to get funding to do their research, but many industries are only willing to pay for research that supports conclusions that are favorable to them. So if you surrender your integrity, you can get gobs of money to do research that is favorable to your sponsors. If you don’t, the end result is you leave the scientific/research industry because you can’t get funding. What I am trying to say that today, more than ever, we need to have integrity above all else in the industries that give us the information that is critical for us to make proper, informed choices.

I would welcome an honest, open, reasonable debate on the climate of our planet and possible solutions. Is Mankind significantly impacting the climate? I honestly don’t know. I am inclined to believe we are a flea jumping up and down on the back of an elephant, but at the end of the day, I don’t know. I don’t have the data, the training or the time to perform due diligence on the subject.

And when I see data that “proves” Global Warming is happening coming from weather stations 5 years before they are built, or I hear a change in how seawater temperatures are collected (was from heat neutral buoys, changed to ships that generate heat), or raw data is “revised” to be more in-line with the predetermined conclusions, the scientists lose their integrity in my eyes. I am also equally skeptical of the “Global Climate Change ‘Pause’ “ for the last 15-20 years.

Then you have the scaremongers who in the 70’s were screaming about “Global Cooling” and wanted Nixon to spread coal dust on the poles, to Al Gore in the early 90’s saying “we have 10 years to save the planet.”

Just as an aside, I heard a talk radio host from that time read passages from either Al Gore’s book Earth in the Balance or the Unabomber’s Manifesto and invited callers to guess which book the host was reading from. I could tell every time, but only because Ted Kaczynski’s 35,000 word diatribe was mostly multi-subject run-on sentences. The message was basically the same, Gore just had a better command of the language.

Back to the subject. So here we have government-sponsored scientists, backed by national governments (who always have a vested interest in increasing their control over the populace) “proving” Global Cooling, then Global Warming, then Global Climate Change (because that means whatever they want it to mean).
Whenever a spokesperson for any cause says, “We have to do this and we have to do it right now.” I go the opposite way on reflex. Why? Have you ever been the victim of a “con” or a “confidence scheme”? That’s exactly what the “con man” does. He gains your confidence by showing you something that you can confirm as truthful. Then he starts plausibly stretching the truth and speeding up the tempo so you don’t have the time to contemplate and check out the new information. He needs you to trust him, we need to get this done before the window of opportunity closes/the cops get here/whatever. It’s at this point (if he has gained your confidence) that your bank account empties into his and the con man disappears. This is also a common occurrence with unethical salesmen as well. “If you don’t sign this contract right now, your car will go out the door with someone else and you will never find another one like it again.”

The same exact thing applies in this instance. Al Gore flies in chartered jets to all corners of the globe to tell people they need to cut back on their CO2 emissions because the planet is “doomed” if you don’t do what he says starting when you walk out of the conference. Of course, you can buy “carbon credits” from him his company which will delay the “impending doom.”

By the way, his house down the road in Nashville uses more electricity in a month than my house does in a year. I guess conservation of our resources is only for the masses.

Just in case you think I’m picking specifically on Al, I would give the same scrutiny to Joel Osteen. I don’t play favorites.

What we, that’s you and I, need to do is demand integrity from everyone who impacts our lives. Our co-workers, our bosses, our elected leaders and most especially ourselves. Because a person builds their integrity on their word. If their word is no good, they have no business being in any leadership role or working in a critical infrastructure position.

As the old Russian saying goes, “Trust, but verify.”

 

The face of socialized medicine

Do you want to know why I am against government-controlled, single-payer socialized healthcare? Let me tell you.

Meet Charlie Gard:

PAY Charlie Gard

If you haven't been keeping up with the news, this 11-month-old child has a rare genetic defect called infantile-onset encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, or MDDS. It is so rare that there have been less than 30 documented cases world-wide. Charlie is deaf, blind and has severe brain damage from his condition since January 2017.

Having been born in Britain, he has been under the care of the National Health Service (NHS), Britain's Socialized healthcare system. The all-knowing, all-seeing doctors there have decided that there needs to be a cease in Charlie's care, allowing him to die from his condition. The doctors petitioned the court to carry these plans out and the court agreed. This is the perfect example of Sarah Palin's "Death Panels." Bureaucrats who have never met you and you will never be more to them than a file folder of information who will decide if you receive treatment or not.

Oh, but you see, it gets much, much better.

Charlie's parents don't want to give up on their child and let Charlie die. To that end, they have raised over $1.6 Million to take him to the United States for an experimental treatment that might save his life. They petitioned the court months ago to allow Charlie to travel and receive this treatment, at no cost to Britain or the NHS. And the court said, "No." Not "Okay if an American Doctor and Hospital will take him," a plain, flat-out, nonnegotiable "No."

If this were a movie, at this point the Renegade Special Forces Captain and his squad of crack SAS Paratroopers would say, "To hell with the bloody orders," mount a rescue operation to grab Charlie and his parents from the hospital, make a mad dash through traffic to the airport and a waiting transport plane which would take off from the taxiway, avoid the fighters sent to shoot them down and everyone escapes to the United States to live Happily Ever After.

Except this is not an action movie. This is real life and to be quite frank, there is no cavalry coming over the hill to save Charlie. When President Trump and the Pope have called to extend help to Charlie, yet The Powers That Be have decided that they know better than Charlie's parents (because this is Great Britain, where the Subjects only have the rights given to them by the government) and Charlie needs to have all but Hospice care withdrawn so he can die naturally and comfortably. Which is going to happen tomorrow, 7/28/17.

That, my dear readers, is why I am for the patient (parents in the case of children) to have the choice of treatment within the means of their pocketbook. Not the doctors, not insurance bureaucrats and most especially of all, not government bureaucrats.

If we institute government-controlled healthcare, this will be a common occurrence. As soon as a patient goes "over budget" on their treatment, the care that might have saved their life could be withdrawn all because a bean-counter said so.

Tell me you are okay with that. Tell me if you develop an aggressive cancer at 35 that could be cured, but the government bureaucrat weighs the cost of the treatment and the chance of a successful treatment against your future potential contribution to society (i.e., taxes) and decides the cost is not worth it, that you would quietly accept that decision that are going to die. Let's say your family raises the money to fund the treatment, but the bureaucrats still say "No" and refuse to release the medications and resources to treat you. TELL ME YOU WOULD ACCEPT THAT. Because with Socialized, government-controlled healthcare, it happens right now.

If you would fight for your own life, no matter the odds, then you don't want government bureaucrats deciding if you're going to get the treatment or not. You cannot be congruent with Socialized healthcare and want to live when faced with that situation and have someone else choose your fate for you. So, why force it on everyone else?

 

Commandments and Beatitudes

Like many of my articles here, they take on a life of their own as I am writing them. The twist at the end came about the other day while doing the outline for this in my head.

I saw this meme a while back and while I agree somewhat, I also disagree to a certain degree.

bibles in prison

So this meme to me implies that we should be teaching our children the morals inculcated in the Holy Bible, specifically the Ten Commandments. I would like to say that if I could get one moral lesson into our schools, my first choice would be the Beatitudes. Unless you have studied the Bible, or are Catholic, you probably don't know what the Beatitudes are. Or, you might have heard some of them but you don't know them by that name or their context.

When we talk about the Books of the Bible, remember that these were written by men whom we believe that were inspired by God. Second, this history started out as an oral tradition before being written down in Aramaic. Then you have translations over the centuries through several languages, filtered through the perceptions and agendas of the translators in order to get to the Bible we have today. Of course, there are also several “lost books” that were excluded as well, but that is something I am not qualified to speak about.

Just to give you an ear worm, when I get to talking about the Ten Commandments, I will be specifically referring to the Fifth through Tenth Commandments. The first four relate to the relationship between God and man. The last six are for how man is to treat his fellow man.

Back to the Beatitudes. The Sermon on the Mount is related in Matthew 5:3-12

Matthew 5:3-12
[3] Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
[4] Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
[5] Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
[6] Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
[7] Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
[8] Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
[9] Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
[10] Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
[11] Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
[12] Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

So there you have it. But wait, there's more!

You might want to read the rest of Matthew 5, because it expounds on the above. The caveat is, Jesus often spoke in parables. I certainly hope he did not literally mean to pluck out your eye or cut off your hand if you stumble (i.e., fall into temptation). Two mistakes and you're done!

Looking at Matthew 5 as a whole, it all has a simple message. “Be excellent to each other.” This message is reinforced in Matthew 22:37-40 where Jesus gave us the Commandments we should be following today.

When Jesus spoke of the meek and those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” does this mean that we should be totally passive in the face of those against us? I don’t think so, because in Luke 22:36, Jesus tells his disciples to sell their cloak to buy a sword if they don’t have one to defend themselves. Also, those who had not studied the Bible during the “WWJD?” craze were surprised and/or offended when someone said, “Chasing people around with a whip and overturning tables is one of the things Jesus did” as related in Matthew 21:12-13. So, maybe, the deepest message of the Son of Man was, “Do no harm, help others when you can, but take no shit.”

Now we can turn to the Commandments. The “man-to-man” commandments as handed down to Moses by God amidst the thunder and flashes of Sinai were,

Honor your parents (and by extension, your elders)
Do not murder
Do not commit adultery
Do not steal
Do not lie
Do not covet the possessions of another.

Six through Ten became the foundation of our legal system today. It was God’s way of saying, “Be excellent to each other.” I can agree wholeheartedly that these concepts should be taught and reinforced in our schools today, along with the Beatitudes above.

Our Colonial Ancestors were raised with a strong moral foundation. This foundation was taught to them in the home, school and church. Our departure from these ways and methods has likely been a major contributor to our current moral turpitude and by extension our enormous prison population.

Ready for the twist? That last-minute thunderbolt of realization? Because here it is.

I have heard atheists argue that we don’t need God to scare us into treating each other right and giving us rules on how to do that. They argue that “we would have come up with these morals on our own.” I have to disagree with that for this simple reason. Atheists in Western civilization have lived under this moral and societal framework for thousands of years because the majority of people who comprise Western civilization are inspired by the words of God and Jesus. Simply put, the way things are around you when you grow up will be “normal” to you, 99% of the time. Growing up around people who discuss and debate certain ideas will of course seem to be natural ideas when you’re on the inside of that structure.

God shows us the Glory we can attain by following His path and the consequences if we don’t. He gave us the free will and the choice to choose our own path. It is the religious institutions Man who tries to scare us into following God through the threat of fire, brimstone and damnation.

To see if man could have developed these morals independently of God we have only to look as far as the cultures “discovered” by Missionaries and conquerors in our past. Did any of those cultures have this same set of values? Maybe some of those cultures had a “social contract” that is incomplete or watered-down compared to the Commandments in question. I admit, I am no sociologist or anthropologist, but I cannot recall in all of my reading and research in a variety of subjects that there has been a society that had developed independently from the Western world and had a similar set of moral laws, developed by themselves or their Deity.

My point is, as children we are taught by our parents on how to talk, interact and treat with others with kindness and respect when we meet them. Without this structure, it’s a “Lord of the Flies” world. I make the case that God, our Almighty Parent, is preparing us for that moment when we meet Him or possible extraterrestrial cultures so that we can do it with kindness and respect.

 

Protesting Properly

So I get into a "discussion" on Facebook the other day about peaceful protests, because the United Nations, that bulwark of integrity, is warning the GOP about infringing on the right to peaceably assemble. Republicans are criminalising peaceful protests across America, UN experts warn. Tennessee is one of the states called out in the last paragraph of that article.

I will say up front that my understandings of Tennessee SB0944 and HB668 were incorrect. I found them (the links should be proof of that) and I have read them. I will cover them in the appropriate part later on.

Let's set this table. This is going to be one of my "converging" articles, where I start with several different concepts and tie them all together.

1) Always remember, the First Amendment restricts the federal government and them alone from placing limitations on what you say and how you say it. Your employer can freely set restrictions on what and how you express yourself publicly or attach consequences after-the-fact. An organization you belong to can make your continued membership conditional on your public thoughts as well. If you don't like those restrictions, you are free to leave that employment/organization.

1a) If you do speak your mind publicly, no one has to listen to what you have to say. Nor can you compel them to listen. You might compel their presence (job/membership requirement) but they don't have to listen.

2) There is no right any person has that allows them to interfere with or abridge the rights of another.

3) In any protest/demonstration, be it peaceful or violent, there are three basic groups. The protesters, the protested and everyone else (which I will refer to as "the third group" for lack of a better and less awkward term). The objectives of a protest should be to a) generate support from the third group to b) cause a desired change in the actions of the protested. The larger the protest (because you have generated lots of supporters), the more political power the protesters have and the more pressure the protesters can bring to bear on the protested.

Any group of protesters that disrupts/angers the third group by their own actions will ultimately fail in their objective because they will not generate the positive public opinion for them and against the protested. Instead, the protesters will harden the hearts of the third group against themselves and destroy any chance for them to affect the change they want. Now, if the protesters do things that angers the protested who then does things to the third group to stop the protesters and their protesting, that's another matter.

The one universal rule to building support for a successful protest/coalition is to invoke the self-interest of the third group. Showing them how their lives are negatively affected now/in the future by the protested, versus how their lives would be positively affected if the protesters win, that's how you build support (and membership).

A great example of an effective non-violent protest is the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which the seminal event happened in March 1955 with the arrest of Claudette Colvin, a 15-year-old Black teenager, not Rosa Parks in December of 1955. Claudette's arrest and conviction led to the SCOTUS case Browder v. Gayle (1956) where the SCOTUS decided that segregation of public transportation is unconstitutional. Rosa Parks is associated with the boycott because she was arrested December 1st and the boycott started December 4th. Claudette was the foundation and Rosa was the last straw. That time between Claudette's and Rosa's arrests was spent building the concept, planning and execution of the boycott. The boycott lasted 381 days and hurt the bus authority, because at the time 75% of the riders were Black.

The important part about this is that no buses were burned, no property was destroyed or defaced. No one stopped the buses from their schedules. I commend these people because many were beaten and/or arrested as the Blacks of Montgomery attempted to get where they needed to go without the bus system. Violence was visited upon them and they did not respond in kind.

The people with whom I was discussing this subject were disgusted and appalled at my views. I was called violent and a sociopath for "wanting to run people down." They never read what I said, didn't hear my qualifiers. They had it firmly stuck in their heads that I would barrel through the protesters at full speed. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

They also held the erroneous belief that intentionally blocking a road is "a peaceful protest." "Peaceful" and "force" are two mutually exclusive things. Because force means violence. Violence does not have to include physical damage to anybody or anything. If one person prevents another person form carrying out an action, force must be applied to cause that. The force can be mental/emotional ("I'll hurt myself if you do that!"), social/economic ("You're fired/expelled if you do that!") or physical (blocking access or physically holding onto the other person).

T.C.A., § 39-13-303 is titled "False imprisonment" and Section (a) reads:

"A person commits the offense of false imprisonment who knowingly removes or confines another unlawfully so as to interfere substantially with the other's liberty."

Section (b) classifies this as a Class A Misdemeanor.

Think about this for a moment. The protesters could step into the road, yet yield to vehicles who wish to pass. I would consider that peaceful. The second option for the protesters is to refuse anyone to pass, at which time they would all be guilty of T.C.A., § 39-13-303 because they are interfering substantially with my liberty, which in this case entails me traveling down the road they are blocking.

Just to make it clear to my Liberal friends and readers, if a group blocks a roadway with the intent of disrupting the lives of those trying to move down that road, you are angering the third group. Your problem is, you're angering them against you, not the protested. You might want to re-read my universal rule above. Sure, the 1% of those "feel good first" people might join with you, but the other 99% would probably knock over that a bucket of water next to them if you were on fire.

Before I get into my "violent and sociopathic" response to having my path blocked, let's go over SB0944/HB0668:

Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 29, Chapter 34, Part 2, is amended by adding the following as a new section:

(a) A person driving an automobile who is exercising due care and injures another person who is participating in a protest or demonstration and is blocking traffic in a public right-of-way is immune from civil liability for such injury.

(b) A person shall not be immune from civil liability if the actions leading to the injury were willful or wanton. [links to definitions are mine]

So, this law does not absolve the driver from any criminal liability. It protects the driver solely from being sued for damages from those who won't get out of the way. I think my prospective actions detailed below would fall within the standards as set forth in the above legalese.

I drive an 8 foot tall panel work truck, so the "law of gross tonnage" is in my favor. The right of the protesters to protest stops before they interfere with my right of free passage on public right-of-ways.

This only entails a small group of protesters who have the intent to impede others. If there are hundreds/thousands of protesters, I will not try to push through them, because the "law of gross tonnage" is not in my favor. If they are using the road to move a mass of people, such as across a bridge, I will wait because they have the right to travel that road as well, just not block it.

1) If a group of protestors do not block traffic, I have no problem with that. They could be the Hillsboro Baptist Church and I would not jump the curb for them or anybody else. The protesters (not the HBC) might even get a "support honk" from me.

2) If I know that a group is blocking a given road, I would avoid the area. As I drive around the Tri-State Memphis Metroplex fixing the equipment in my charge, I always have at least two alternate routes to get from point A to point B.

3) If I didn't know they were there and I can't get around them, everything from this point on is on them. Because if they do not let me pass, they lost the "peaceful protesters" label at this point.

3a) I would stop short of them, loudly asking for them to part so I can pass.

3b) If they do not part, I will let them know I am coming through.

3c) I will advance up to and through them, one inch at a time until I am clear. For people with common sense, this would be the time they would part and let me go on my way unmolested.

4) At the first brick/rock/gunshot, all bets are off. I refuse to be the next Reginald Denny or one of the dead from a riot.

As a final thought, I had to be well aware of the phrase "innocence in the eyes of the law" when I carried a weapon. It meant that if, on the horrid occasion I would have had to draw my weapon and possibly end the life of another, I had 47 things (slight exaggeration) that I had to do exactly right to avoid being prosecuted for the crime of defending myself. I had to not escalate the situation, attempt to disengage from the situation, "Shoot to stop the threat," not tamper with evidence and a whole lot more. When protesters actively interfere with the rights of others, they lose that "innocence."

 

Our two Bills of Rights

I'll bet you didn't know we had two Bills of Rights, did you? Everyone (should) knows the Bill of Rights as declared in the first Ten Amendments in the Constitution. A group of Founding Fathers known as the "Anti-Federalists" were of the mind that these assumed and undeclared Rights would be trampled upon by the federal government unless formally declared.

A total of twelve Articles were approved by Congress and presented to the States in 1789. The ten we now call the Bill of Rights were approved by the States in 1791. Of the two not ratified, one eventually became the Twenty-Seventh Amendment, which says a Congressional pay raise approved today cannot take effect until the next Congress convenes (we have a new Congress every two years). The last one is a "housekeeping" Amendment that details the growth of the House by changing the proportion of citizens to Congressmen as the country grows. Considering the number of House members was permanently set by law at 435 in 1929 by the Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929, I doubt this one will be ratified.

Just so you have an idea about the reasoning on the Bill of Rights, you can read the Preamble for it. You didn't know the Bill of Rights had a Preamble, did you?

THE Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution.

So, let's detail the entire list of Rights as given in the first Ten Amendments. These are paraphrased for brevity:

  • Freedom of religion
  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of the Press
  • Freedom of the People to peacefully assemble
  • Freedom of the People to petition the government for a redress of grievances
  • Freedom to bear arms for defense of self and country
  • No soldier to be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner
  • The Right of the People to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures
  • No warrant to be issued without probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation
  • All warrants to be specific in searches and seizures
  • Felony charges shall be issued by a Grand Jury
  • The Right to not be subject to double jeopardy (recharged with a crime after being found not guilty)
  • The Right to not be a witness against themselves
  • The Right to not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law
  • The Right for just compensation if private property be taken for public use (Eminent Domain)
  • The Right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury
  • The Right to be informed of the charges against you
  • The Right to face the witnesses testifying against you
  • The Right to compel witnesses for you
  • The Right to obtain a lawyer to aid in your defense
  • The Right to a trial by jury in civil lawsuits
  • The Right to not have excessive bail imposed
  • The Right to not have excessive fines imposed upon conviction
  • The Right to not have cruel or unusual punishments inflicted upon conviction

The Ninth Amendment means that any enumerated (declared) Rights in the Constitution shall not be used to deny or disparage (constrain) any undeclared Rights of the People.

The Tenth Amendment restrains the federal government to the powers delegated to it by the Constitution and what the States do not prohibit the federal government from. All other undeclared Rights are to be held by the States, or the People respectively.

Out of the twenty-four Rights bulleted above only #'s 19 and 20 (compel witnesses to testify for you and a lawyer) have the government force someone to help you. The other twenty-two restrain the government from taking away natural rights.

On January 11th, 1944, President Roosevelt gave a State of the Union address to Congress. In it was this part:

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

1. The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
2. The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
3. The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
4. The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
5. The right of every family to a decent home;
6. The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
7. The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
8. The right to a good education.

These were not numbered in the speech, I did so to refer to them below.

1 & 2. We have these rights today. I can truthfully say for the vast majority of people, the only limit to a person's income level is themselves and what they are willing to do. I say that because most of us are not willing to pay the dues for that big paycheck. It takes years of hard work and a fair chance of total failure to be an "overnight success."

3. I support this, but only so far. A farmer should be able to grow whatever crop or product they want to, without some crops and not others being subsidized by the government. Farmers should not make the decision to grow a particular crop because the government is subsidizing the farmer to grow (or not grow) it.

4. I fully support anti-monopoly laws. I also fully support a business to be as free as possible of government regulations in an attempt to regulate or control businesses and industries. See Operation Choke Point.

7. I support these because I have used them to support my family. I used them for only as long as I needed them, then got off of them when I could stand on my own. I believe that it is an obligation for society in general and government in particular to help those who truly cannot help or fend for themselves. I am against the perpetual help of those able to work.

5, 6 and 8. These are different aspects of the same issue and can be interpreted in two ways:

568a: Everyone has equal access right now to housing, healthcare and education. If you want that 5 bedroom/6 bath mansion, you need to perform the steps necessary to acquire the resources and income to purchase it at a fair price. Everyone has access to medical care right now, all that they can afford. As an aside, medicine and healthcare in general has saved zero lives. They have extended the lifespan of many people and preserved their quality of life, but medicine, doctors and healthcare can only at best temporarily defer Death. For education, don't spend $75,000 on a degree that the job it qualifies you for only pays $24,000 a year. Too many people are going that right now.

568b: Everyone should get these things no matter their economic situation. First of all, if you work a crappy job and live in a crappy house, don't demand that things be given to you. Use it as an incentive to improve your lot in life through your own efforts. What you need to go through will be difficult and probably unpleasant. The payoff makes it worth the effort.

I don't care how you slice it, when you mandate the services of one individual as the "right" of another, that is slavery. For housing, you obligate contractors, carpenters, plumbers, electricians and more to "give" you adequate housing because the government will never pay market value for their materials and services. The same goes for doctors, nurses and medical technicians "giving" you healthcare. Ditto for teachers.

Oh, you want affordable housing, healthcare and education! That's something totally different. I can solve that in 10 minutes and it will take about a year to sort itself out. Get the government and it's over-regulation and subsidizing programs that destroy the price:benefit ratio out the window out of those and other industries.

The first Bill of Rights in this Article recognizes that those rights come from each person's Higher Power and the law of the land (Constitution) restricts the power of the government to infringe upon them.

The second Bill of Rights comes from a usually benevolent government that has proven itself capricious in its delivery of those "rights" and at the heart of the matter "gives" these "rights" to you because it does not believe you are capable of doing it on your own. Think about that.

 

Where you sit determines where you stand

This is a lesson on how to pick your battlegrounds by careful selection of your source materials. So I catch this on FB from one of my Left-leaning friends:

it isnt in the constitution

Let’s take this apart and show him where he’s so far off base that he’s not in the same ballpark.

To start, this is the preamble to the Constitution, which the second definition reads, “the introductory part of a statute, deed, or the like, stating the reasons and intent of what follows.” In other words, a mission statement. As an “introductory part,” it does not lay out the method, nor the part of the government tasked with achieving this goal.

When we look at the phrase in question, “…promote the general Welfare,…” we need to realize our Founding Fathers (FF) used very specific words to show their intent and meaning.

When we look up the definition of “promote” the first one makes it pretty clear: “to help or encourage to exist or flourish; further:”

I see this as “creating or expanding the conditions under which the program/company/person can improve in some measurable way.” The term “general” means to extend this to all affected equally, without favoring some of them.

But you see, the meme says, “…will pay for its citizen’s health insurance.”

To show why this is BS, we only have to look to the prior statement in the Preamble, “…provide for the common defense,…”

“Promote” and “provide” are obviously two different words. They also have two separate and distinct meanings. The seventh definition of provide is defined as, “to make arrangements for supplying means of support, money, etc.” I picked that one specifically because right after the above, it reads “(usually followed by for)” which we have in both phrases under examination.

So, Provide actually means “pay for or directly furnish,” Promote means “create conditions under which it is possible to flourish.”

Hm. I don’t see this as the best way to make your point.

Now, if the meme maker had gone into the Constitution itself, they might have found under Article 1, Section 7 Clause 1, we find “…and provide for the common defense and general welfare…”

“AHA!” you might say. That validates the meme! But wait, there’s more! The full quote for that is, “…and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States;”

When our FF wrote about individual citizens, they used the term “the People.” If they had meant for Congress (after all, this is Article 1 we are talking about here) to provide for the People, I’m moderately sure they would have used that term in the Preamble.

I am also well aware of the Madison (not to “meet the infinite needs of the general welfare”) vs Hamilton (which to have Congress spend money on the People was okay) debate which culminated in the SCOTUS case United States v. Butler (1936) which pushed the interpretation of the phrase “general welfare” into the Hamilton camp.

Really, if you are confused about this, all you have to do is look at the very documents the FF used to explain the Constitution to the Citizens of the United States: The Federalist Papers. The last five paragraphs of Federalist 41 speaks eloquently on this part of the Constitution. Admitted, while it was published anonymously under “Publius” on January 19, 1788, it is assumed that Madison wrote it. That section is too long to quote here, follow the link.

In conclusion, this meme doesn’t have a leg to stand on. First of all, the OP picked the wrong part of the Constitution to build their argument upon, second the guy who wrote the Constitution thinks their argument is bullshit. It is not the intended purpose of the federal government (through the Constitution) to provide for individuals, rather promote the conditions under which they may flourish.

When the federal government spends money directly on its citizens, it’s called “Bread and Circuses.”

 

Now taking applications

I have come to the realization that I have more things to do than Carter has Little Liver Pills, to use a phrase from my Grandmother.

carters llp

I don't have anything witty, insightful, thought-provoking or anything like that this morning. I became deeply involved with solving a technically complex feature of a spreadsheet for another of my blogs last night instead of generating content here.

In consequence thereof, I am accepting applications for four unpaid staffers. Job requirements include intelligence, able to do light cleaning, plumbing, carpentry, miniature painting and yard work. The ability to discover information way beyond a simple Google search is essential. A high degree of precision in all duties is required. If your orderliness and precision can make someone with OCD weep with joy, you will be given serious consideration. In these positions you will be expected to work 170 hours a week, so bored you will not be.

 

One week hiatus

My apologies, I am taking this week off because I have to lay a friend I have known since I was 14 to rest.

Down the memory hole

I find it ironic that many Liberals are equating the Trump Presidency with the Party out of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. If you haven’t read the book or you don’t understand the reference, the memory hole is where documents about the past which do not agree with the position of the Party are put, to be destroyed and thus never existed. The Party says what was the past, and if you remember differently, then you are wrong. Winston insisted on being wrong and the Party “helped” him to think correctly.

I find it ironic because Liberals are intent on throwing many things that are an integral part of American history and culture down the memory hole, simply because “it offends them.” Case in point, all references to the Confederacy.

Living in Memphis, on a typical workday I drive past at least 3-5 Confederate monuments of one kind or another. I frequently pass by the graves of Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife, which are on Union Avenue in Midtown Memphis.

I get upset every time I go past a Confederate monument. It offends me greatly. I am not upset that Forrest was a slave trader. I am not upset that he was an early member of the Ku Klux Klan. I am upset that our ancestors came to blows rather than working things out so up to 750,000 people didn’t have to die horribly at the hands of friends or family members.

Every time I see some symbol of the Confederacy, I think about the horrors experienced and perpetuated on both sides. About families divided over this issue. About the hate that perpetuates to this day.

I fully understand and appreciate what and why the Southern States did what they did, which was to stand up for what they believed in and if necessary, lay down their lives to preserve it. I think their basic concept was wrong, because one person should never own another person like they own their home or car. I respect their stand, and I have no qualms about liking or supporting someone from the present day being proud that their ancestors stood up for what they believed in. If they profess to me a stereotypical belief against minorities, then I don’t support that and I let them know.

The bottom line is, when we divest ourselves of all of these reminders, make like it never happened, shove them down the memory hole and make them disappear...

...It just means that we are setting ourselves up to have another Civil War. The fighting this time won’t be over slavery, it won’t be a whole section of the country trying to secede, but we will be divided in our States, our communities and our families.

THOSE WHO FORGET THE PAST ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT.

We are supposed to be the United States, with the basis of our country being E Pluribus Unum, which means Out of Many, One. Let’s start acting like it.

 

Sometimes you can do everything right

I am very sad to say, sometimes you can do everything right and still end up losing.

On June 16th, the officer who shot and killed Philando Castile was acquitted of all charges. My prior comments on this subject are here and here.

First of all, I am all for holding officers accountable. If they screw up, they should be held to a high standard. Second, "acquitted" does not mean "not guilty." It means the prosecutor did not prove to the jury that the accused was guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the murders of two people, however it is pretty clear to anyone with a modicum of common sense that he did it.

Philando Castile did everything he was supposed to. He did everything right as it was taught to him by law enforcement and the NRA. Identify that you are legally armed to a police officer on initial contact. Make no movements without being told. Follow all commands. What makes this a tragedy was a nervous officer feared for his life and shot. That does not make it good, right or justified. It just is. All it does is makes this a tragedy for all people involved and their families.

I have seen a lot of backlash against the NRA because they didn't "immediately respond" about Castile's death, like they did about the killing of five Dallas police officers by a sniper a day or two afterwards. The difference is that in the sniper shooting, there is very little ambiguity about the circumstances, and there was a lot of ambiguity about Castile's death. An investigation needed to be performed in the matter of Castile's death to determine circumstances and context.

Just to show you how quickly things can go south during a traffic stop, This video was an officer from the Opelika, AL police department shooting an airman involved in a minor traffic incident.

At 32 seconds, the airman opens the door to his vehicle. At 35 seconds, the officer sees something in the airman's hands and commands, "Lemme see your hands!" At 37 seconds, the officer commands "Lemme see your hands!" a second time and two shots are fired. At this point the airman goes down. Think about this, two seconds between the first command and shots fired. It is obvious that the airman has something in his hands. A later, second and third look shows it to obviously be a wallet. At first look though, you can't be 100% sure and that kind of "not sure" can easily mean "dead officer."

Here is a second video to prove how deadly two seconds can be to a police officer:

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This was a shooting in West Memphis, AR by a "sovereign citizen" and his son. At the 5:58 mark, the son slightly opens his car door. At 6:00 the man starts resisting and the son comes out of the vehicle with a rifle, shooting both officers. Over the next minute before they drive off, they execute both officers, and the son fires a couple of "goodbye" shots into them as they leave. The officers were probably fatally wounded in the 2-5 seconds or so after the boy exits the vehicle. The rest of the time is probably "making sure" the officers were dead.

I bring this particular shooting up for two reasons. First, this happened "just over the bridge" from where I live in Memphis. Second, I lived for several years in Bartlett, TN, a suburb of Memphis, where Robert Paudert was the Chief of Police. I interacted with him a couple of times on some community projects. He appeared to me as a likeable, no-nonsense person. Robert became the Chief of Police for West Memphis, AR a couple of years later. His son, Brandon Paudert was one of those officers killed.

Armchair quarterbacking rarely does any good for incidents like this. Sure, you can pause and rewind the video and view it from 3 different angles to get all the nuances and things that were missed during the live action. We should study this kind of video to improve training to make sure it does not happen again unnecessarily (because despite our best efforts as flawed beings, it will happen again), not to microstudy, then parse millisecond-by-millisecond in order to assign blame.

 

Deflect and obfuscate

Liberals are very similar to the old-time snake-oil salesmen. They talk fast and use words you don’t understand to get you to trust and believe them. Case in point,

.

In 2 minutes and 30 seconds, Reich fast talks his way through seven “economic lies.” What he gives you are actually non-substantive soundbite talking points that don’t inform you, they just give you words to parrot. Because they are soundbites given to you that you haven’t actually read or researched about them, you can’t back up the talking points when someone asks you a question that requires more information or thought than the initial talking point. This is why I think the Left resorts to yelling, name calling, personal destruction and their favorite card, violence or the threat of violence. They have to shut down anyone who challenges the talking point because there is nothing behind it. Most of their positions are indefensible in the face of actual scrutiny.

I would have loved it if he had spent an hour on each one, giving reasoned and verified data on what he says. Of course he won’t because once you actually see the data, it will be obvious to anybody with a modicum of reasoning that he’s selling you snake-oil (i.e. empty promises).

Case in point: #6, Social Security is a Ponzi scheme.

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?t=2m

Transcript: Wrong. It’s solid for 26 years (until 2037) and would be for the next century if we lifted the ceiling on income subject to Social Security Payroll taxes.

Now, if you did not know who Mr. Ponzi (the caricature he drew at triple speed) was, or what a Ponzi scheme is before you watched this clip, do you now know what a Ponzi scheme is or why Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme? I didn’t think so.

If you already know what a Ponzi scheme is, did Mr. Reich explain anything about it at all, or did he just let us know that Social Security is solvent for a while (as I wrote this, that 2037 point has drifted down to 2033 according to Social Security themselves) and we can push the “solid date” to 2111 if the rich pay more taxes.

To explain and give context, a Ponzi scheme is named after Charles Ponzi who used this technique in 1920. The scheme entails taking money from investors on a continuous basis, paying the early investors with the money “invested” by later investors.

Let’s say Mr. Smith is convinced by Mr. Ponzi’s salesmanship about “guaranteed income” and in January Smith gives Ponzi $1,000 on Ponzi’s promise that the “guaranteed income” will net Mr. Smith a return of his investment of $250 by June. In May, Mr. Ponzi convinces Mr. Jones to invest similarity as Mr. Smith. Mr. Ponzi then takes $250 of the $1,000 Mr. Jones gave him and gives it to Mr. Smith. This convinces Mr. Smith to invest $10,000 with Mr. Ponzi, hoping to reap a benefit of $2,750 (he is still earning that “$250 profit” on the first $1,000) just in time for Christmas. Now Mr. Ponzi has to come up with four new investors, to pay out the $3,000 to his “investors” ($2,750 for Smith and $250 for Jones). Why four investors? Because Mr. Ponzi has expenses, you know...

Eventually, this all comes apart because Mr. Ponzi cannot continue to recruit the number of investors necessary to continue paying the “profits” out to earlier investors indefinitely. This is called a geometric progression. If Mr. Ponzi needed two new investors for every current investor, the progression would go something on the order of 1, 3, 9, 27, 81, 243, 729, 2,187, 6,561 and so on until he can’t recruit enough people or he figures his bank account is big enough and he flees the country.

When my parents started working as adults around 1935, they paid into Social Security and their SS taxes helped pay the benefits of Ida May Fuller (the first recipient). Back then, there were seven people paying SS taxes to a single recipient receiving benefits. Also, it was kind of a rare thing for people to make it very far past 65, so those that did receive benefits were on the rolls for only a couple of years.

When I joined the Navy, my SS taxes were part of the checks my parents received. My dad retired in 1979 after having paid into the system for 45 years, my mother for about 15 years, being a stay-at-home mom and occasionally working part-time after they got married. They collected SS benefits for 22 years until they passed in 2001. Today, there are only 2-3 wage earners paying to the system for every recipient.

In the 80’s Congress began “raiding the Social Security Lockbox.” What that actually means is the Social Security Administration began purchasing government bonds as an investment. Today, there are Billions of dollars’ worth of these bonds in the SS account, instead of actual liquid cash. These are the “IOUs” that everyone is screaming about.

Remember, it is these government bonds that allow the government to overspend, creating the annual deficit. For the large entities (Social Security, foreign governments, investors, etc.) that purchase large amounts (Millions and Billions worth) of government bonds , they purchase a bond for a fixed term. In order to keep the fiscal juggling act going, when that bond matures, many use that money to immediately buy a new bond. Depending on circumstances, the interest on the bond may go into the purchasers pocket or be used to buy more bonds.

Social Security has been buying bonds, as well as additional new bonds as the old ones mature. In 2033, Social security will have to start “cashing in” those bonds without purchasing new ones because there won’t be enough people paying taxes to support the payments to retirees. This is when they (and we) might find out that the Government can’t pay the full amount on those bonds, if at all. That’s when the juggling act falls apart. That’s when we have more people asking for a return on their investment than SS can take in from new “investors.”

And that is why Social Security IS a Ponzi scheme. Anyone who tells you differently is bullshitting you.

 

Flag Day

Today is the anniversary of when the Second Continental Congress in 1777 adopted the flag that is the ancestor of the one that flies all over this country today.

This flag has been through lots of revisions over the years. It was a flag of fifteen stars and fifteen stripes that flew over Fort McHenry (representing the addition of Vermont and Kentucky) during the bombardment it endured during the War of 1812 that led to the phrase “Star-Spangled Banner” in the poem "Defense of Fort M'Henry" which became our national anthem.

This flag, to me, does not represent the government of this country, rather it represents the People, where the true power of our government comes from. Many people have served under this flag in one or another of its iterations in defense of the concepts of Freedom and Liberty.

Every day, men and women in our armed forces come home in coffins draped in this flag.

I WILL NOT IDLY STAND BY
AND SEE THIS SYMBOL DESECRATED.

Do not let me see you stepping on, burning, or disrespecting this flag in any way. I will stop and give you a beat down so severe that your grandchildren will feel it.

flag day

Thank you for your time and attention. Have a wonderful Flag Day!

 

Everything is rationed part 4

This is part 4 of the three-part “Everything is Rationed” series.

The primary point of this part, sub-titled “ethical dimensions of a responsible business” is that I hate bean counters.

Who (or what) are “bean counters”? These are the people who make the decisions concerning the costs of the parts used in their product. Part A1 costs the company $1.00 to purchase. Part A2 is by another manufacturer, is almost as good as Part A1, however the company can buy it for 90 cents. The “Bean Counter” will almost always go with Part A2 on the sole basis its 10 cents cheaper.

Bean Counters also like to produce products with “planned obsolescence.” This means one or more parts in a product are designed to fail after a certain period of use, usually several months past the end of the warranty. When (not if) those parts fail, a newer model is now out at the same or less price, with more features. So you have the choice to either fix the broken equipment (at a cost close to or exceeding a new unit) or discard the broken unit in favor of a new unit. This is the downside to our consumerism economy.

Thinking about this, I was reminded of a collection of Sci-Fi short stories from the 40’s that I read as a teenager called Venus Equilateral (Wikipedia, Amazon). It was about a station that relayed messages between Earth, Mars and Venus when the Sun interfered with direct communications.

In the story QRM—Interplanetary, a pointy-haired boss came on the station to “cut expenses.” He ended up spacing a room full of genetically-modified sawgrass that was used to replenish the oxygen in the station’s air. He thought “equipment” replenished the air and he saw this room was “full of weeds.” The PHB thought the plants were wasting space. This “cost-cutting” almost suffocated everyone on the station.

To cut costs for the sole reason to “maximize profits” or “boost the quarterly report” is a bad reason in the long term. Because you are probably sacrificing future profits for short-term gains today.

Case in point: the 6-pack plastic ring used to keep aluminum cans together. They are easy to make and inexpensive (at less than a penny each). The bad news is, while the rings are photo-degradable (and thus not likely to end up strangling wildlife like they used to) and while they do break down into smaller bits, they do not fully disappear. There is a long-term negative environmental impact from them and all similar plastic products.

Then we have these:

A fully biodegradable product that is compostable and edible by wildlife. The problem? A current cost of 15 cents per unit.

If companies that sold their product in cans made enough demand for this kind of holder, the economy of scale would kick in and the price per unit would drop. If Anheuser-Busch and one or two other “big name” companies decided to use these, it would not be unreasonable to expect the cost per unit to drop under a nickel.

Would you pay a nickel more a six pack if that recyclable, compostable and edible can holder held your beverages together? I don’t think you’d even notice the price difference. If you knew the better environmental impact of that holder, you might even switch brands, who knows.

I also found this article, Christian-Based Firms Find Following Principles Pays from the 12/8/1989 Wall Street Journal. Sorry, you have to pay to see it. in the article, it talks about business who adhere to Christian principles and how their growth is significantly higher than those who do not engage in these principles. You don't have to be Christian to adhere to these principles, which entail actually serving the customer to help them grow their business, treating the customer fairly and most importantly treating the employees fairly. When Hobby Lobby made negative news due to their stance on abortive birth control, the MSM never mentioned that they pay their employees $14/hour to start. The MSM never clearly said that Hobby Lobby offered sixteen barrier methods of contraception and only opposed four abortive methods.

In case you didn't know it, In-N-Out Burger puts Bible verses on their shake cups, burger bags and other packaging. They are small, so you have to hunt for them.

James Freeman Clarke is quoted as saying, “A politician thinks of the next election - a statesman, of the next generation.”

I can reframe this slightly to say, “A bottom-line businessman sees only the next quarterly numbers – an ethical businessman sees the impact of his business in a hundred years.”

If we had enough “ethical businessmen” in our companies and corporations, we would have little or no need to governmental bureaucracy to micromanage them.

How about all of us start treating our planet as something that we should leave to our children better than how our parents gave it to us?

 

At, To and With

WARNING: Terms may be used in this article which may make some people uncomfortable. You have been warned.

I first voiced this concept several years ago. I have never seemed to put pen to paper to write this before though, which is kind of sad. The 2016 Presidential campaign and its aftermath has cemented in me the glaring obviousness of these three different kinds of communication we use.

When one person talks AT another person, it is either out of anger, frustration, stubbornness or blindly-held political beliefs. When you talk AT another person, you spurt what you want to say upon your target without regard for the results or consequences of your words. It is in essence a verbal masturbation, leading to a bukkake of words upon your intended target. It leaves the speaker/writer feeling better in the cathartic sense, however that’s the only person feeling good afterwards. While this can be considered “communication,” it is that only in the broadest sense. This method actually borders on a forced act.

When one person talks TO a single person or group of persons, this is usually out of anger. When someone makes you mad, don’t you want to “give them a good talking to”? This is a minimalist (at best) two-way conversation, consisting of lengthy passages of yelling by the angry person, punctuated by the occasional “Yes, Sir/Ma’am,” “No Sir, Ma’am,” “I’m sorry, Sir/Ma’am” from the recipient(s). Worse yet, it can lead to anger in the recipient and yelling back at the first person. This then becomes a “two-way ‘AT’ “ “conversation” where everyone is yelling but no one is listening.

When you deliver that “talking to,” you are venting your anger at what they did to you and making it clear about “what will happen the next time.” The term “Reading the Riot Act” comes from the British Riot Act of 1714, where the local constabulary would read the proclamation part of said Act aloud to the crowd and give them one hour to disperse before arresting them. By the way, back then, the penalty for rioting was death.

Notice the emotions I described for when someone talks AT or TO another. Anger, frustration, stubbornness or the foolish belief that “My way of doing things is the right way 100% of the time.” These are all negative emotions.

When you have two (or more) people exchanging ideas, beliefs and feelings, the type of emotion we speak from will be absorbed by the recipient and reflected back to the sender, magnified. Back and forth the negative emotions go in what is called a "positive feedback loop", growing from ripples to Tsunamis, destroying the relationship and preventing true communication.

What would happen if we spoke from positive emotions, rather than negative? The same thing, starting with ripples and ending in Tsunamis, in this case Tsunamis of good.

Because when we talk WITH other people, we give our thoughts, which are received, considered and returned respectfully. The other then gives their thoughts, which you in turn should receive, consider and return respectfully. Who knows, we might actually learn something we didn't know that we agree with.

To do this, to listen with the intent to understand and not the intent to reply, we might actually learn something new. We find common ground to share, not a verbal no-man’s-land where thoughts and ideas die horrible deaths.

This does not mean we have to end up agreeing. We can “agree to disagree” and continue to respect the other person while not agreeing with their position on that issue.

I have a friend and mentor whom I routinely get into discussions with on Facebook. He constantly posts a plethora of Liberal memes. On the few I respond to, I disagree, giving my position and with the facts and my reasoning behind my stand. We then respectfully discuss our differences. He has accused my positions of “being rather Liberal” multiple times, to which my response is some variation of “You’re more Conservative than you realize.” We continue to interact on common interests and challenge each other where we disagree.

Because disagreement on first glance often becomes “congruential differences” once we get into it. We agree on the overall principle, having our differences on the exact path or method used to achieve the principle.

Every conversation we have with other people can be like this. We are dependent on ourselves to listen, comprehend and give at least a passing consideration to the position, before politely handing it back with your thoughts attached, rather than throwing your position in their face. The conversation goes from WITH to AT every time we stop listening.

Take this to heart in your next discussion. Please.

 

Benghazi

Every now and then a meme pops up featuring the images of several prominent Republicans with the line, “OH MY GHERD! REPUBLICANS ARE CONTINUING TO INVESTIGATE BENGHAZI WHILE THEY ARE CUTTING EMBASSY SECURITY 50%!”

For those of you who have never served in the military, you are probably not aware about particular military facts and military tenets and how they are relevant to this. I will be all to glad to explain them to you. Military Fact: The shell will always beat the armor. This means that an attacking force will always beat a defensive force. The only question is the time frame for the attacker to beat the defender.

A Battleship, meant to deliver (and receive) 16” shells can take a single hit to the armor by such a shell and survive. It may even take two hits to approximately the same spot and remain capable of fighting. The bad news is no armor of any size can withstand multiple hits in the same spot.

Before an attack, the attacking force will know approximately the strengths and capabilities of the defensive force. The attackers will then amass a force superior to the defensive force before they attack. The more superior the attacking force, the shorter time it will take to crush the defenses. This is why defensive forces like Embassy Marines and other security staff are given one basic order if they are attacked: Hold until relieved.

Which brings us to the Military Tenet of leave no man behind.

This passage from Robert Heinlien’s book Starship Troopers lays this tenet out succinctly:

"Mr. Rico!”Now I was the victim. “Yes, sir.”“Are a thousand unreleased prisoners sufficient reason to start or resume a war? Bear in mind that millions of innocent people may die, almost certainly will die, if war is started or resumed.”I didn’t hesitate. “Yes, sir! More than enough reason.”” ‘More than enough.’ Very well, is one prisoner, unreleased by the enemy, enough reason to start or resume a war?”I hesitated. I knew the M. I. [Mobile Infantry] answer, but I didn’t think that was the one he wanted. He said sharply, “Come, come, Mister! We have an upper limit of one thousand; I invited you to consider a lower limit of one. But you can’t pay a promissory note which reads ‘somewhere between one and one thousand pounds’ and starting a war is much more serious than paying a trifle of money. Wouldn’t it be criminal to endanger a country, two countries in fact, to save one man? Especially as he may not deserve it? Or may die in the meantime? Thousands of people get killed every day in accidents ... so why hesitate over one man? Answer! Answer yes, or answer no, you’re holding up the class.”He got my goat. I gave him the cap trooper’s answer. “Yes, sir!”” ‘Yes’ what?”“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a thousand, or just one, sir. You fight.”“Aha! The number of prisoners is irrelevant. Good. Now prove your answer.”I was stuck. I knew it was the right answer. But I didn’t know why. He kept hounding me. “Speak up, Mr. Rico. This is an exact science. You have made a mathematical statement; you must give proof. Someone may claim that you have asserted, by analogy, that one potato is worth the same price, no more, no less, as one thousand potatoes. No?”“No, sir!”“Why not? Prove it.”“Men are not potatoes."“Good, good, Mr. Rico!”

If you have ever wondered about the reasoning about why our military is so intelligent, aggressive, tenacious and victorious on the battlefield, it is because every man and woman who armors up knows without question that every other American soldier, Sailor and Marine have their backs and will not stop, not rest until they return home.

When you’re far from home and up to your chin in shit you need that reassurance. When you wonder if you will live to see the sunset, let alone the sunrise, these are the sweetest words you will ever hear:

“I am an American soldier. I’m here to rescue you. I’m here to take you home.”

I am not upset about the funding levels for Embassy defensive staff. Those decisions are made dependent on available budget and risk assessments by bean counters. I hate bean counters.

What got me upset about Benghazi is the civilian leadership told our fighting forces, “Stand down. Do not attempt rescue.” I don’t give a rat’s ass, when American soldiers are under fire, you send every unit you have as soon as it is armed and capable of moving. The Obama administration gave the line of, “Our forces would not have gotten there in time.” Until you actually get there, you won’t know if it will be “in time” or not. Those defending forces might hold out longer than anybody realizes.

A rapidly-dispatched American F-16 flying over the battle, armed or not, will give the enemy pause and give hope to those under attack. It lets both sides know, “We’re thinking about you.” Air-to-ground ordinance on that F-16 would add an exclamation point to that statement.

You don’t ever leave troops that you send into harms’ way without knowing how you’re going to get them home when it turns to shit.

This is the major issue with political control over tactical decisions. That prior statement is a 5,000 word major article by itself which I am not going to get into. Right now.

The military has contingency plans for just about everything. We even had a plan on what to do if Canada tries to invade the Continental US. It involved pulling all forces back to the southern border of Montana, South Dakota and Minnesota to give our forces time to regroup and counterattack.

The plans may not always be good, but we are always going to use maximum effort to bring our troops home. The civilian leadership might leave our troops hung out to dry, but the troops won’t. You can take that to the bank.

 
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