Thursday, March 26, 2015

It's Official: Bowe Bergdahl update

Yeah, he's a deserter and a terrorist sympathizer.  Nothing we didn't already know, of course.  If Bergdahl was blameless then the Pentagon would have released the report on him months ago.  Now we find out that he will be charged with desertion.  Meanwhile six soldiers died trying to "rescue" him and President Obama released five terrorists to get him back from his "captivity".

I wonder how many people those terrorists have killed since they were released and how many they will kill in the future.

I wonder when we stopped executing soldiers who committed this type of treason.  A quick Wikipedia search reveals Eddie Slovik as the last executed for desertion, in 1945.  Maybe it is time to update that statistic.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The case for limited government

Limited government.  Sounds like a scary right wing shibboleth.  After all, what is wrong with programs to protect workers, help the poor, build roads, defend our borders, or (insert favorite program name here)?  In the abstract, nothing.

The problem with large government or intrusive government is the power that inevitably devolves to those in positions of authority.

This example benefits a couple Democratic politicians, but understand that this type of abuse cuts both ways.  If you give people power they will use it to advance the interests of themselves and their friends. It is completely understandable and predictable. Doesn't make it right.

The story is a bit convoluted but basically a high muckety muck from the Department of Homeland Security used his influence to affect who would receive residency visas.  The lucky recipients had strong ties to Harry Reid in one case and Virginia Governor  Terry Mcauliffe in another.

There is one solution to the problem of abuse of power.  Take away the power.  I could write a blog solely devoted to abuse of power by politicians and bureaucrats were I so inclined, but it wouldn't solve anything and it wouldn't tell us anything we don't already know.

If people are given power they will use it.  Fact of life.  Hardwired into our DNA.  This is why the Founders of our country believed in limited government.  Not small government because a small government will, over time, become a big government.  Limited government. Here's the stuff you have the power to do.  This and nothing more.  It won't eliminate abuses but it will minimize the areas in which abuses could occur.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Vinyl Memories

Not Clauswitz posted about heading out to look at (purchase?) an old receiver, high quality sound, the kind he couldn't afford back in the day.

Made me start thinking about vinyl records and this is the comment I posted.  Thought you might enjoy it so copied it over here.

I still have a box full of vinyl.  I can barely lift it and half of them are warped due to being in the box for so long.  It is also, not coincidentally, a box full of memories of my teen years, so there it sits.

Fisher direct drive turntable sits in a box nearby.  Occasionally I set it all up, play some records, marvel at the full, rich sound, then pack it all away again when I realize that it's been two months since I played a record.

So much easier, if less fulfilling, to plug the iPod into the surround sound and listen to one of the eight or nine hundred albums stored there.  No cleaning off the dust first, no flipping the record mid-play, no scratching or warping.

I do miss (in a "those were the days but I really don't want to go back" way) taking a record out of its sleeve and sitting and listening to it, scratches and all.

To this day I still can't listen to Trooper's Two for the Show without expecting there to be a little skip midway through the title song.  That skip is embedded in my central nervous system.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

We Agree (sort of)

Conservatives are often accused of opposing the president's ideas for a variety of reasons, all of which assume bad faith on the part of the opposition. From racism to "extreme" partisanship, and every shade and combination in between, we are painted with a broad brush that stems from the concept that we are evil and don't have legitimate arguments. The president and his allies frame debates in such a way as to suggest that there is no legitimate alternative viewpoint. The recent flap over the ATF's attempt to unilaterally ban a common rifle round, the M-855, is an example of this tactic. The president's spokesperson came out and stated that "everyone" agreed that this was a "commonsense" regulation that would save police and civilian lives. Never mind that there was widespread opposition to the ban, that many felt that it was a significant misinterpretation of Congressional statutes, that the ammunition in question had been readily available for the past thirty years or so, or that there was no evidence that the ammunition was frequently (or ever) used in the commission of crimes, the Administration portrayed their opponents as a small radical minority lacking common sense.

However, when conservatives do agree with the President it is ignored or dismissed by the media. Take President Obama's recent statement regarding jobs training. This is an area in which I have long advocated for increased opportunities for teenagers. I am a high school teacher. I teach math at all levels. I have seen first hand the struggles of students who have no intention of going to college, are not suited for a career that requires significant academic instruction, and would be happier learning a useful trade. I had one student last year who told me flat out that he was waiting until he was old enough to drop out and go to the local technical college to become a welder. He has not passed a class in the last two and a half years. He has no interest. Why are we wasting his (and by extension our) time. He could have started a welding program two years ago. They could have required that he do some construction trade math classes related to his area of interest, as well as some technical reading and writing classes. He would now be prepared for a well paying career with a two year head start on his current situation. What's the problem here?

The problem is that those in charge of educational programs are highly educated. They are college graduates, mostly with advanced degrees in education. They have transferred their dreams and hopes onto every student in the country, insisting for years that every child should be prepared for college. Meanwhile those who either don't have the inclination or the ability to do college level academics are left to sit in classes that they don't understand and in which they have no interest.

If the president is serious about his proposal he will get a lot of support from conservatives who do not feel that a one sized fits all education system, designed for those headed to college, is particularly useful. Maybe it's time for the president to put forward an actual plan as a part of the No Child Left Behind reauthorization; a plan that would allow students who express an interest to leave the public school system early for job training in a technical career, whether it is welding, plumbing, automotive mechanics, or any other high skilled field. These students might spend a few years as a mechanic and decide that being an engineer and designing cars would be fun. They could go back to school when they are self motivated and complete the education that they were unprepared for and uninterested in when they were sixteen.

Instead, however, conservatives and the President are going to end up disagreeing on how to implement the plan.  The President wants yet another government program and has called for $100 million in new spending for this initiative.  Now you might argue that $100 million is chump change and that we should all just get on board but that misses the point of a new program.  They never go away and they never have enough money.  When was the last time you saw the Democrats and the Republicans agree on a program to eliminate?  When one side proposes eliminating a government program the other side screams bloody murder and demagogues the issue.  (By the way when was the last time the Ds proposed eliminating a government program, other than defense, but it still cuts both ways).  If we back this new program we will have it forever and it will get more expensive every year.

Instead, Mr. President, how about getting together with supporters on both sides of the political spectrum to use resources already available to get kids into technical training programs?  How about a waiver for the states from testing and graduation requirements for students who enroll in an acceptable tech program at age 16?  That's the biggest thing keeping this from happening.  Kids are required to be in school.  They can't leave except under exceptional circumstances and if they do leave the money doesn't follow them. 

What if it was OK for the money spent on high school to be applied to a carpentry apprenticeship program? 

What if working half time for a carpenter with the understanding that you had to pass some classes to stay in the program was an option? 

Do you think that the student I mentioned above would come to his two classes a day with a different attitude?  He had been working for several hours at something he loved and all he had to do to keep doing it was pass a couple classes?

I do. So Mr. President, I support you.  Not because of your race, not because of your ideology, but because you are espousing an idea that I think makes sense.  I don't support a new program, but maybe we can come together to figure out a way to make it happen without a new government office, and without new government spending.  There has to be something we could cut back on somewhere.

Monday, March 2, 2015

It's called 9/11 because ... ?

Maybe because so many people called 911 that day?

Maybe because it was a really big national emergency?

Or maybe, just maybe, because it happened on September 11, 2001.

(For those of you who are math impaired, September is the 9th month of the year in the Gregorian calendar)

Well, Josh Earnest, White House spokesperson, can't seem to remember that.  Ok, you will say.  He misspoke.  It happens to the best of us.  True.  But if your job is to speak publicly on issues important to the United States people, wouldn't you think that the defining moment in the life of anyone over the age of twenty five might be when two airliners crashed into the World Trade Center after being hijacked by Islamist terrorists should be something you could get right?  How do you get that wrong?

Take a look at the 0:43 second mark in the following video from Real Clear Politics.
You get to see Josh Earnest state that 9/11 attacks happened on September 1st.  Hey, we all make mistakes, but when you are on the left you get a pass.  When you are on the right, it is proof that you are an idiot.

The myth of free market capitalism

For all those who rant about how our free market system is a failure, relax.  We don't have a free market system.  We certainly don't have a capitalist system.  And it just got worse.

The banking industry has been subjected to 11,000 new regulations based on Dodd-Frank, the law that is supposed to keep us safe from crashes such as the one in 2007.  From the Daily Signal:

By the end of 2014, federal financial regulators had finalized more than 11,000 pages of rules and regulations. But they had also missed more than 36 percent of the Act’s rule-making deadlines, and they hadn’t even bothered to propose more than 20 percent of the required rules.
Anyone think there might be potential for problems in there?  Anyone think that there are no special provisions for "friends" of the regulators?  Anyone seriously think that this will prevent anything but prosperity?

The reality is that in a truly free market there are going to be winners and losers.  The market, however, makes those decisions based upon what people want and need.  Want a better Iphone?  The market will provide one if you are willing to pay for it.  Want a more fuel efficient car?  The market will provide one if you are willing to shell out the extra cash.  The government distorts those markets using tax dollars (also known as your money).

I don't want an electric car.  I have to help pay for the subsidies to create said car anyway because the guy that owns the electric car company is a big supporter of insert your favorite politician's name here.  This is not, as the left would have you believe, a problem with Republicans alone.  It is a problem with government.  It is the Obama administration that gave billions to companies like Solyndra and Tesla.  Republicans do likewise when they are in power. 

It is government, not parties, that leads to this problem, and a problem it is.  11,000 pages of new regulation, mostly written by those being regulated.  After all, who else has the knowledge of financial markets to write coherent regulations?  Now your investment dollars are being further diluted complying with 11,000 pages of new regulation. Notice in the quote above that they probably aren't done, they are just behind schedule.  There will be more to come. 

And when there is a problem that arises from the new regulations will they repeal the regulations that caused the problem, or will they pass new regulations to fix that issue as well.  Anyone?  Yeah, we all know the answer to that question.  The regulations never go away and anyone who proposes such action is demonized.

So next time someone tells you that free markets don't work and points to the last twenty years as proof, you might point out to them that 11,000 pages of regulations (on top of those that already existed) is not, by definition, a free market.

The numbers are in

February 2015

1977 murders.  Apparently it was a productive month for the global jihad.

Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11
Donate to TROP?
Weekly Jihad Report
Feb 21 - Feb 27

 Jihad Attacks:
 Allah Akbars*:
 Dead Bodies:
 Critically Injured:
 *Suicide Attacks
Monthly Jihad Report
February, 2015

 Jihad Attacks:
 Allah Akbars:
 Dead Bodies:
 Critically Injured: