Pete sent me a picture message this afternoon; apparently there are some flavor of quasi-religious nutbars on campus there, advertising their views with signs of some sort and, no doubt, flyers and noise.  I couldn’t quite make out the writing on the sign in the picture he sent me, so I asked him what it said.  His response was, “Well, we’re all going to hell, basically”.  Nice.

This is one good example of what I like to call “ME-ligion”.  It’s kind of like religion, but more personal.  In a ME-ligion, your belief system boils down to this: “Everyone in the entire world is going straight to Hell.  Except ME, of course, because obviously God agrees with ME.”  And, one assumes, those who agree totally with and are willing to be completely and unquestioningly subservient to the individual in question.

There are ME-ligions based loosely on Christian beliefs as well as Muslim, Jewish, and some really oddball beliefs.  Wherever you find arrogant, self-aggrandizing megalomaniacs you’ll find a new and more nutty flavor of some religion.  And, hey, once you’ve convinced yourself that only YOU have the answers and that everyone else is going to be smitten by God anyway, it’s not a big leap to realize that it’s OK to shoot them or blow them up.

I call shenanigans!

OK, so now we have an uproar over a political cartoon in the NY Post.  If you haven’t seen it, it shows a chimp laying dead on the ground, having been shot by a cop.  Two cops are standing there; one says something to the effect of “Now they’ll have to find someone else to write the next economic stimulus package”.

I have seen the cartoon.  It’s about as funny or un-funny as most; it very clearly uses a current story (pet chimp goes nuts, has to be killed) to illustrate the fact that the economic stimulus package recently pawned off on the US taxpayer could easily have been written by a demented chimp.

Of course now we have Al Sharpton and the rest of the usual band of jackasses claiming that this is somehow a racial attack on Saint Barack.  OK, ‘scuse me?  Are we going to have to change the color of the ink in the newspaper, lest we be accused of trying to make a racial slur against the Anointed One?  Close down zoos for fear of us white devils telling our kids that black people look like monkeys?  Get serious.  This is 2009, not 1949.  Like it or not, we are a whole lot further than we were 10 years ago, or 20, or 30 — but I think we’d be a lot farther were it not for people trying to make things seem worse than they are,  just to increase their own power and line their own pockets.

If I may be permitted to candidly discuss a racial issue, it’s people like Sharpton and the rest of the nattering nabobs of the left that cause most of the racial issues I have encountered.  I cannot tell you how many times it has been presumed that all white people are somehow biased against blacks, usually secretly, often unconsciously.   If something doesn’t go the way the black person feels it should, well then obviously it’s the white guys secretly banding together to keep the brother down.

Hogwash.  I can count on my fingers the number of white people I have encountered in the past year or two who have shown any detectable bias against or dislike for blacks in general.  On the other hand, the more time I spend in Charlotte the more I hear my black fellow citizens bitching about how all the cards are stacked against them.  I think a lot of it is the constant harping of Jackson, Sharpton and the rest of the so-called “leaders” of the black community.

Oh, how wonderful our new regime is!

So now we have our freshly appointed Attorney General telling the entire world that the United States is a “nation of cowards”.  How wonderful! It’s always nice to hear top government officials disparaging the entire country.

According to Holder, since the average American — in his estimation — doesn’t hang out with a racially mixed crown on weekends, we’re all just a bunch of cowards for candidly discussing racial issues.  Excuse me?  The last time I was tempted candidly discuss a racial issue, I was reminded that it would probably result in my being labeled (by people like Holder and his soulmates, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Ernie Chambers) a racist, right-wing thug just trying to keep my brother down.

Could Saint Barack have possibly chosen a more unrealistic jackass for this job?  It’s bad enough that this guy apparently wants to completely disarm the entire civilian population.  Now he apparently thinks forced integration of our weekends would be a good idea as well.  What would he like to see?  Government mandated EEOC oversight of family picnics and golf outings?

How ironic that Holder seems to have borrowed his comment from the title of a book written by someone who seems to be from as far as possible from him in the political spectrum.  It’s interesting to see the Ministry of Truth in full swing.  Orwell seems to have been a couple of decades off the mark, but we’re getting there.

Good work, Supremes!

Today the Supreme Court issued its ruling on the DC v. Heller case. What we now have, for the first time, is agreement by the Supreme Court that the Second Amendment to the US Constitution protects each individual’s right to keep and bear arms, not just the government.

This is truly good news. While the Court didn’t go any further than striking down DC’s complete ban on handguns, nor did I expect it to, at least there is a decision that makes sense. I can foresee a long path of suits to nudge our rights back into existence in other areas like Chicago, where bans like DC’s have created what amount to safe free-fire zones for criminals and gangs.

I think I’ll go to the range this week and celebrate.

My rant about the economy

I’ve been harping on this for years. What we are seeing is the exact same thing that happened over 30 years ago. The economy was good, so we (collectively, the American public) got lazy and stupid. Cars got bigger and bigger, because that’s what was selling. To hell with gas mileage! I’ve got money, so that 10 MPG monstrosity (3-ton sedan then, 3-ton SUV now) isn’t a big deal. Make my car bigger, faster and louder; I want to see horsepower numbers, not fuel economy. So the auto makers follow the money, and for some unfathomable reason think it will last forever. Short-term thinking sets in, no one looks past the next quarter or two, and they keep churning out F-150s and Escalades instead of looking to improve the smaller, cheaper, more efficient vehicles. That market is left (now as it was then) to the Japanese, only now the Koreans are in the game as well.

So, our Arab brothers decide to jack up the price of oil — why? Well, because they can! If you see that your biggest customer will buy whatever you offer, at whatever price you demand, it follows that you’re able to do whatever you want with the prices. Besides, we’re just a bunch of filthy infidel that will eventually be converted or killed anyway (in case you missed it, these people are not our friends). Throw into the mix that China is finally waking up from a 60-year sleep and starting to rub its eyes, look around and see that there is business to be done and money to be had. The cheap labor market has shifted from the Japan of the 50s and 60s to China (along with other places like India), and the standard of living in those places is rising. As a result, their demand for oil, steel, and other commodities is rising sharply.

All the while we’re blissfully cruising along at 80 MPH in a 4-wheel-drive pickup or SUV sucking down gas like there will never be an empty tank. Wind power? Too expensive to develop, coal is cheap (never mind those nuke plants starting to age out). Hydroelectric? God forbid we build any more dams! Solar? Again, why bother when gas and oil and coal are so cheap. Oh, hey, wait. Now they’re not, and now we’re 30 years behind where we should be. We wasted three entire decades when we could have been weaning ourselves off of foreign oil, because we were too short-sighted to see that the oil problems of the early 1970s would be back, without fail. Why? Well, for pretty much the exact same reasons there were back then, I guess.

And where was our government during all of this? Well, I guess we get the government we deserve. Don’t try to lay the blame at the feet of any one administration or political party; not a damn one of them did anything significant to help move us in the right direction. It’s not politically wise to tell people during good times that there will be bad times at some future date, and to prepare for them. We could have had strong leadership pointing the way to energy independence and the use of renewable, ecologically sound fuels and energy sources, but we didn’t. We could have had policies that encouraged American businesses and consumers to think long term instead of short term, globally instead of locally, but we didn’t. We still don’t. I don’t know that we ever will.

I have very little sympathy for American car manufacturers, or for Harley-Davidson for that matter. It should have been blindingly obvious all along that the ride couldn’t last forever, yet all of them have been pretending that it would. Now, when things are looking a little bleak as they were bound to, they act like it’s a huge surprise. Gee, they say, why aren’t people buying our behemoths any more? Must be that pesky ol’ economy, we’ll just make some more Yukons for when things turn around. Yeah, that will work.

And the Harley crew… my God. Did they learn nothing from watching the cigar boom of the last decade? Dealers building new, huge showrooms well after the market peaks and starts to decline? How incredibly obtuse can you be, to not see what is so obvious to even a casual observer? I watched American Chopper last night; the Teutels are building a new plant and expanding their operations. I wish them luck, but my prediction is that in a few years you’ll be able to rent space in that place for indoor tennis courts.

Don’t get me wrong; I think the economy will pick back up. Historically, it always has. I’m not frantically selling off stock right now, I’m buying at cut-rate prices (just not Ford, GM, or Harley). But I do wish that some day we might collectively, as a nation, wake up and remember that we’ve been here before, and maybe figure out that we might want to address some of these problems before the next crisis. If we don’t, these recessions will just continue to get worse.

Public Pulse

Had a letter to the Public Pulse published a week or so ago.  I had emailed them two; one on the DC V. Heller case, the other a response to yet another person whining about how Nebraska doesn’t allow casinos, which would of course solve ALL our problems.  Yeah, like they have for Iowa.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m no opposed to gambling on a moral basis or anything.  It’s a decision a responsible adult should be able to make on their own.  I’m just saying that overall, I don’t think the casino business is all that good for a state.  Jobs are created – but they’re mostly subsistence wage jobs.  There is money brought in from outlying areas, but it’s a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the money flowing out to the casino’s parent corporation.  The casinos, of course, take no responsibility for addressing the increase in crime, job loss, divorce, bankruptcy and other problems associated with gambling by those who get in over their heads.  There are those who remain convinced that the casinos have been a major boost for Iowa’s economy and quality of life –just as there are those who can plainly see that it’s just not the case.

DC vs Heller

Today I was reading the latest news in the DC vs. Heller case, which promises to be one of the more eagerly anticipated and discussed Supreme Court opinions of the decade. DC vs Heller is a suit brought by a group of District of Columbia residents in an effort to overturn a set of laws that outright bans the ownership or possession of all handguns,and very severely limits the ability to own and use long guns as well. In one of the news articles linked from Wikipedia, I read the following quote:

“If the Supreme Court lifts the gun ban, you are going to have a serious war,” [Smith] says. “Everybody will think they can defend themselves. There will be more shootings, more killings.”

Oh, my. Now, here I am, forty-something years old, and all this time I have labored under the misconception that an individual has the right to defend himself (or herself), and that said right predated the US Constitution by, well, as long as there have been living creatures on the Earth. Apparently, though, plenty of people feel that you and I — meaning normal, law-abiding citizens attempting to live our lives in peace — have no right to defend ourselves, our families or our property, even though all will readily admit that there is no shortage of armed criminals intent on robbery, rape, murder and various other forms of mayhem.

Some people just plain befuddle me. It seems that many of those most in favor of gun bans and confiscation are those who would most immediately and directly benefit from an increase in the number of armed, law abiding citizens in close proximity. I’ll be the first to say that the chances of my house getting robbed, or of me getting mugged, are far lower than those of someone living in a rough part of town. It’s not directly related to the fact that I am able to defend myself and my home; it’s more because we’re simply out of harm’s way for the most part. It takes effort to come out to this end of town to rob and kill, and criminals are inherently lazy to begin with. But there’s also the fact that out here, people will watch out for their neighbors; they will get involved; they will get descriptions of cars and people; they will talk to and cooperate with police. That fact that they may also shoot back is secondary.

Imagine the impact on the crime rate in some of the rough neighborhoods of (for example) the District of Columbia if the criminals knew there was a good chance their next intended victim might well be armed and ready to (gasp) defend themselves. It doesn’t take a lot of deep thinking to figure it out. Ms. Smith might possibly be right about one thing; there might be a very short-term increase in the number of shootings, but the majority of those shot would be the ones who, as they say, need shootin’.

Don’t buy oil from Joe’s!

I got an email forwarded to me today suggesting that we all quit buying gas from Exxon Mobil in an attempt to “show them that the consumer sets the price, not the seller” and get the price of gas back down to $2 a gallon. Of course the way to this Nirvana is, as always, to forward the email to everyone you know… sigh.

Let’s assume for a moment that for some reason a few million people decide they will no longer buy gas from Exxon or Mobil (though it’s really not likely to begin with). That means they’re all buying from, say, BP or Phillips or wherever. Great, so their stations now either run out of gasoline and diesel, or Continue reading “Don’t buy oil from Joe’s!”

We seem to have trouble learning new things.

If there is one thing I hope we have learned from the present conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is that US involvement in the Middle East can have no positive outcome. Involvement by pretty much ANYONE in the Middle East can have no positive outcome. When you’re dealing with governments and groups led by people who lack the slightest shred of common thought patterns, you just can’t expect to be able to play in their sandbox. Continue reading “We seem to have trouble learning new things.”