Monday, September 14, 2015

Favorite Quotes, in no particular order

This blog has pretty much inactive since I started group-blogging over at Rotten Chestnuts ... But I think I'll start a post to collect quotes worth remembering in one spot so I can find them again.

  1. "A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” - Winston Churchill
  2. “Science must not impose any philosophy, any more than the telephone must tell us what to say.” - GK Chesterton
  3. "There is a difference between remorse and repentance.  Remorse is being sorry for being caught.  Repentance is being sorry enough to stop." - Greg Laurie

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


The Clue Batting Cage is coming out of deep storage for this.

I saw a security video a few weeks ago of a man in a Walmart looking at BB guns.  He picked it up, looked at it, and apparently -- as I have done with many items in a store -- walked around with it in his hand for several minutes probably still debating in his mind whether to buy it or not.  He returned to the aisle where he picked it up, probably still thinking about it.

In the meantime, somebody apparently called the police and reported that a man was walking around Walmart with a gun, and apparently embellished by saying he was pointing it at people ... I say embellished because nowhere on the security tape did it ever show him pointing it at anyone.

While he was standing in the aisle still considering the purchase, police came in the store (this is all on video camera) and, unprovoked, shot the man dead.

This was obviously wrong, and fortunately it was caught on camera so there is no question that it was an unjustified shooting.

I told you that story to tell you this one.

Back in August, according to eyewitness statements that were supported by forensic evidence that matched the description of the event from the officer involved -- a young man went into a store, took some things that weren't his to take, and shoved a smaller man -- the store owner or manager -- aside when he tried to stop him.

The police were called.  An officer who was on a call in the area responding to a medical emergency involving a child who couldn't breath, after leaving that scene and hearing the call on the radio came across to young men fitting the description walking down the middle of a street.  He pulled alongside them, probably partially to further verify that these were the suspects -- and told them to get out of the street.

The young man who had taken the merchandise and assaulted the owner/manager apparently did not take kindly to being told what to do, and a struggle ensued with the officer still inside the car.  The young man tried to take the officer's gun.

Presumably, it wasn't to check it for safety or admire it and give it back.

In the struggle, the gun was fired, inside the vehicle, grazing the young man's thumb.

The suspect retreated and was ordered to stop.  Eventually he did stop, turn around, and began to charge the officer from whom he had just tried to take a gun ... again, probably not to take it to his friends for show-and-tell.

The young man was a large man, physically capable of taking most normal sized men, including the officer.  He had shown a willingness to steal, assault, and if he had a weapon -- which he showed a willingness to obtain by force -- probably assault with a deadly weapon.  He stole, assaulted a citizen, assaulted a cop, tried to take his weapon, resisted arrest, and was coming back for more, with a vengeance.

So far in this story, who has done anything wrong?

Put yourself in that officer's shoes.  In a few seconds, a strong, large, angry young man who had just tried to take his gun would be on him and would likely try to take it again, and not, presumably, use it to play a friendly game of spin the bottle gun in the middle of the street.

The officer fired several rounds.  The young man stopped.  He began charging again.  The officer fired some more.   The young man fell, mortally wounded.

Now we are supposed to use this incident to change things for the better, so this never happens again.

Only we are not allowed to talk about the things that would actually make things better.  Like what kinds of moral lessons are taught to kids by what is known and celebrated as "black" culture?  As if culture has a race.  As if race determines culture.  And as if all cultures are equal.

They are not.

Multi-culturalism is a lie.  It is a useful lie for those who want to divide and conquer.  It is a useful lie to those addicted to hits off the crack-pipe of false righteous rage.  It is a useful lie for those who don't want to take responsibility for the direction of their own lives, but rather to blame others for their position in life.

America was once heralded as a melting pot, which absorbed parts of the cultures of its immigrants over time, but still had an overarching cohesive culture.  If that's what we mean by multi-culturalism, I'm on board.  But it's not what the pushers of Multi-Culturalism™ are talking about.  They are talking about multiple disparate cultures within a defined geographical area.  Without an overarching culture, that cannot be a nation.  It is a recipe for implosion.

Enter the race-baiters and community organizers -- the first is a subset of the second -- who have political agendas -- to stir up anger by whatever means necessary.  Repeating stories that support their narratives as fact.  Attacking anyone who doesn't agree as racist.  Then this attracts the usual suspects.  The anarchists, the communists (who should be mortally opposed in theory, but they do have the common goal of destroying our current system of law so they more often than not appear shoulder-to-shoulder at these things).

Last night after the decision was announced, after the riot started -- I saw two young men interviewed.  Both of them talked about other incidents.  Both repeated the "hands in the air" story that the evidence refutes.   One repeated the "shot in the back" story (".... shooting the whole time") that the evidence refutes.

They weren't there.  They heard these stories repeated in the media and believed them because it supports their worldview that white cops are out to get black men because they're black.  Whic may happen in certain cases -- and it is wrong.

But is that what happened here?  This time?  Doesn't seem to matter to them.  This was to be representative justice for all the times it is the case.  Which is no justice at all.  It is not justice for Michael Brown.  Michael Brown did just about everything he could to ensure he would be shot. It is a tragedy that he did so, but he did. It is not justice for Officer Wilson and his family.  He would likely be dead, and dead because he was doing his job -- part of which is finding and arresting people who commit crimes.  Like theft.  Like assault.  Like vandalism, looting, arson.

Justice is prosecuting the police that shot the guy with the B.B. gun in Walmart, and not prosecuting the guy who tragically killed someone in self-defense.

Another commentator kept interjecting that 1 in 3 black men go to jail.  Which may very well be true.  But it's not because they're black.  It's because young black men commit crimes at much higher rates than any other demographic. That is what needs to be stopped.

The way to stop it is not to have more lenient police.  If anything, that would further encourage it.

The way to stop it is for "black culture" to be re-defined.  To once again embrace morals as it did well into the 1960's. To take pride in the right things -- not now big a thug you can be or how many ho's you can abuse.  To take pride in being fair, and honest, and working hard. To learn what the system is and why it is good, like Frederick Douglas did.  To stop looking at themselves as victims, even when they are victimized.  To take control over the parts of their lives they can take control over. To do the things it takes to overcome the unfair stereotypes that have more and more become self-fulfilling prophecies.

I can hear it now.  "Thank you for 'Whitesplaining™' that."  

Well ... you're welcomed, first off.  But secondly, that's just another way of saying "Shut Up."  "I don't want to hear it."

Well there's your problem right there.  If an opinion can be invalidated based upon race, then I guess we really do have a long way to go.  If we do have a long way to go, it's likely because we're moving in the wrong direction.  Because we aren't addressing the root problems.

And it isn't poverty.  There are poor people all over the world who don't assault and steal and kill each other in tragic numbers.  There are poor people in Ferguson who don't.  There are poor black people in Ferguson who don't.  No, it's not poverty.

It's morality.

Monday, October 27, 2014


It's been a while since I posted here, but I need to post another Things I Know:

Things I Know #38 : A realist recognizes the positive influence of optimism.

This in response to a "Quiz" asking if you are an optimist, a pessimist, or a realist.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Are the Wheels Finally Coming Off This Thing?

Even Chris Matthews apparently thinks "The Thrill is Gone"


Of course, apparently as recently as a couple of days ago Chris still thought that opposition to Obama is rooted in the idea that "The White Race Must Rule" - not saying the man has suddenly gained sanity or anything, just pointing out that the rats just might be jumping ship.

I've gotten my hopes up before, and the MSM may yet decide to square the wagons and protect when they realize that any shred of credibility they have left is tied up in the illusion they themselves have created around the President.

Who knows, maybe even Jon Stewart, who still can't seem to come to terms with the fact that the administration blatantly lied about what happened in Bengazi right ahead of the 2012 election and has put a lot of effort into covering it up will come around.

This all comes, ironically, a week after Obama, in a speech, told us all not to worry about our Founders' warning that government abuse is always just around the corner (no wonder he has such contempt for them).

Maybe the biggest reason for hope is the tapping of the Associated Press phones. It's one thing to piss off your enemies. It's quite another to piss of your virtual body guards.

Your kids don't belong to you. You don't have a right to homeschool. The second amendment is obsolete. The first amendment is obsolete.  The fourth amendment is obsolete.  The equal protection clause is obsolete.   The IRS will enforce Obamacare.   This is a pattern.

Fundamental transformation.  Is it starting to make sense now?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Bill O'Reilly Gets Stop An Echo Award

If Bill's serious about this, I applaud him, and in advance I give him my "Stop An Echo" Award.
"Every time, every time -- a high-profile person starts to spout gibberish about deadly terrorism, I will embarrass that person on this broadcast. Public opinion is the only way to stop this madness." - Bill O'Reilly
Acoustic Tiles.  We need more of them.  That's what I should name the award.  Only people won't get it :-/

Monday, April 22, 2013

You Don't Need to See His Papers ....

Just when I thought my jaw couldn't hit the floor any harder, I ran across these headlines yesterday:

This is insane.

It really illustrates that the truth in this spoof video is really pretty much on the money.

Of course, we're not saying that having an Arab name makes you a terrorist. But there is a pattern, and it's a pattern that people are apparently more than just a little eager to refuse to see. Political correctness has rendered our news media impotently incurious when it comes to certain subjects.

I have a Muslim co-worker who told me, not terribly long after 9/11, that her teenage daughter had come to her and said, "Mom, I know not all Muslims are terrorists, but it does seem like most of terrorists are Muslim".  So it's not just me.

There is a difference between religions. Even staunch Atheists Bill Maher and Penn Jillette acknowledge that.  Sure there are crazy people of all faiths and non-faiths who have murdered and who were even inspired by their beliefs in many cases -- but there is only one major world religion that has an extremely well-established pattern based not only on the relgious writings upon which their religion is based, but is rife with religious leaders who preach violent jihad and has myriad organizations world-wide to do violence, in the name of their God and their religion and who regularly carry it out.  Can we just say that?   Really?  We can't?

It now appears that our well-mannered Chechens who blew the legs off of Boston Marathon spectators and acually killed three ... were likely recruited as disaffected teens with Muslim sympathies by a Saudi Islamic Radicalizing agent Abdul Rahman Ali Al-Harbi.  This is exactly what terrorist organizations do in the middle east.  Now they're finding ways of getting it done here (helps get around immigration inquiries if your disaffected youth are already here before they are radicalized).

But you're not hearing about Al-Harbi in the media, because ... the Media is deeply invested in this idea that Islam is just like any other religion when it comes to violence, and it is also in thrall with this administration and will apparently do anything to protect it.

We are in big trouble, folks.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Forced Approval

Once again, we're having the wrong argument.  We're having it because it's the argument the Gay Rights crowd wants us to have, and has suckered the rest of the country into.

To my knowledge, there are no laws that prevent two adults (or more for that matter) to enter a relationship, live together, do whatever together, share everything, raise any resulting children etc.

There may be laws that don't recognize the special relationships even friends might have, that, for instance, allows only "immediate family" to visit someone in a hospital, or to put someone else on their health insurance policy.

These are all issues that can be addressed without redefining the word "marriage" for a culture that rejects the proposed new definition.  These kinds of solutions have been proposed, by creating "legal unions" or "civil unions" as contracts and knit social units recognizable by the state.  But that is, again and again, not what the activists want.  They've rejected that route. They want the word.  It may sound trivial, but it is not.  The word, once it becomes a legal definition, will be used to bludgeon those who don't recognize the unions as "marriage" and as a result refuse to treat it as such.

Rand Paul espouses a solution I have talked about on many occasions.  Take the word "Marriage" out of the tax code - and just enforce contract law, of which marriage is one of many.

The problem is, is that the proposed solution, the only one anybody but a few like Rand Paul are talking about, is to literally change the definition of the word for a a culture that roundly rejects that redefinition. It is the ultimate in cultural insensitivity. But if it were just that, I would have much less of a problem with it.

Now I'm not saying people cannot call their own relationships anything they want to call them, but it is quite another thing to force someone else to call it something they don't recognize it as. This is a special interest group using government power to stomp on existing culture.

If you don't think this is a problem, read Ed Morrisey's article -- I'll excerpt the part I'm talking about here.  File it under "Oh, THAT'LL Never Happen".
"Tolerance, it seems, works only in one direction — and that brings us to the religious argument, but not in the manner one might think.
While as a practicing Catholic my definition of marriage involves its sacramental character, I understand that others may not share my faith and perspective on its meaning or value. That, however, will not work both ways, as recent examples have made plain. For example, a baker in Oregon faces potential criminal charges for refusing to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of his religious beliefs. What happens when churches refuse to perform such ceremonies for the same reason?
Most people scoff at this question, but religions have partnered with the state on marriages in a way that bakers have not. Priests, ministers, rabbis, and imams act in place of the state when officiating at wedding ceremonies, and states that legalize same-sex marriage are eventually going to be forced by lawsuits to address that partnership, probably sooner rather than later. In similar partnerships, that has resulted in pushing churches out of business."
Got that? If you don't agree with the government definition for religious reasons, tough luck, buddy. Bake 'em a cake, place kids with them even if you believe it is wrong according to your religion -- or go to jail. The First Amendment means nothing.

And apparently neither do legitimate democratic public referendums.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Climategate III is here ....

Climategate 3.0 is in progress.   }--- link

The government-scientist media complex has proven strong.  But this, along with the debunking of the re-bunking of the hockey stick and with the IPCC itself noting that temperatures (data!) are looking to fall out of the 95% certainty band of alarmist predictions, this thing really does look to come crashing down.

Still, if the media continues to refuse to cover this, there are masses out there who have adopted it as their religion who will remain unconvinced.

Ran into an exchange on facebook where a friend said her son had to hide behind her during certain parts of the movie "Ice Age" ... cute enough.

But another friend of hers then commented "[He] knows climate change is scary ... and REAL."

We pray in Gore's name, forever and ever, amen. (eyes roll)

Monday, March 18, 2013

I'm sure the "science" will still be "settled™"

Sooner or later the IPCC was going to have to deal with the fact that it's been over a decade since the earth has shown any warming to speak of.

As I pointed out with historical vs predictive charts a few years back, what we've seen climatologically is not out of the ordinary... I'd say by any stretch of the imagination, but some people's imaginations have proven extraordinarily elastic of late.

Looks like they're thinking about it.
A version of the graph appears in a leaked draft of the IPCC’s landmark Fifth Assessment Report due out later this year. It comes as leading climate scientists begin to admit that their worst fears about global warming will not be realised.

Academics are revising their views after acknowledging the miscalculation. Last night Myles Allen, Oxford University’s Professor of Geosystem Science, said that until recently he believed the world might be on course for a catastrophic temperature rise of more than five degrees this century.

But he now says: ‘The odds have come down,’ – adding that warming is likely to be significantly lower.

Prof Allen says higher estimates are now ‘looking iffy’.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Where to Find Me

I have definitely slowed down posting over here.  You might hear occasionally from jeffmon, and I'm sure some posts from me will show up here occasionally, but not too many that won't also show up at a joint blog some friends and I are cranking up over at our joint blog,  Rotten Chestnuts.   It's Morgan, Severian, CylarZ, and myself.

This is kind of the Rotten Chestnuts Charter here.

The Free Online Dictionary defines “chestnut” as “An old, frequently repeated joke, story, or song.”  Miriam Webster calls it “something (as a musical piece or a saying) repeated to the point of staleness.”
Put simply, chestnuts are those things “everybody knows.” For instance, “everybody knows” that Republicans hate women, that revenues go up as taxes go up, that Sarah Palin’s an idiot, that George W. Bush hates black people, that “corporate personhood” is some kind of evil Wall Street scam, that the “Palestinian peace process” exists (and when it breaks down, it’s all Israel’s fault).
Put bluntly, chestnuts are what people believe when they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.
At Rotten Chestnuts we aim, in our own small way, to change that. To educate. To inform. To praise the praiseworthy and mock the mockable. To entertain, and — dare we hope? — to inspire.
If you’re tired of being labeled ignorant, or a “hater,” or simply uncool for using the brains God gave you to examine the world, then this is a site for you.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I Made a New Word

alwarmist \ˈalˈwärm-ist\  - A Global Warming alarmist.

I particularly like that the first syllable is "Al".

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Hobbit, and the return of ancient evil

I went to see the Hobbit with my son Christmas Night, as he wanted to see it.  I generally have something against commerce on Christmas Day, but it was a "Cats in the Cradle" In Reverse moment.  I went.

A particular scene struck me.  More than one, really, but this one more than the rest.  It was not in the book, but it was suggested by refrerences in Tolkien's lore of The White Council.   It was, to say the least, a little too familiar.

So much so that I wanted to see the film again.  I went again with my wife the night before last [she hadn't seen it yet].  

Here's the scene:

Galadriel: The dragon, has long been on your mind.

Gandalf: It is true my lady. Smaug owes allegiance to no one. But if he should side with the enemy: A dragon can be used to terrible effect!

Saruman: What enemy? Gandalf, the enemy is defeated. Sauron is vanquished! He can never regain his full strength.

Elrond: Gandalf, for four hundred years we have lived in peace. A hard-one watchful peace.

Gandalf: Are we? Are we at peace?! Trolls have come down from the mountains. They're raiding villages, destroying farms. Orcs have attacked us ON the road!

Elrond: Hardly a prelude to war.

Saruman: Always you must meddle. Looking for trouble where non exist.

Galadriel: Let him speak.

Gandalf: There is something at work beyond the evil of Smaug. Something far more powerful. We can remain blind, but it will not be ignoring us, that I can promise. A sickness lies over the Green Wood. The woodsmen that live there now call it Mirkwood. And…eh…they say…

Saruman: Well? Don't stop now. Tell us what the woodsmen say.

Gandalf: They speak of a necromancer living in Dol Guldûr. A sorcerer who can summon the dead!

Saruman: That's absurd. No such power exists in this world. This..necromancer, is nothing more than a mortal man. A conjurer dabbling in black magic.

Gandalf: And so I though too. But Radagast has seen…

Saruman: Radagast?! Do not speak to me of Radagast, the Brown. He's a foolish fellow.

Gandalf: He's odd, I'll grant you. He lives a solitary life…

Saruman: It's not that. It is excessive consumption of mushrooms! They've addled his brain. And yellowed his teeth. I warn you. It is unfitting of one of the Istari woadering the woods [continues unintelligible in the background]…

Galadriel: (to Gandalf telepathically) You carry something. It came to you from Radagast. He found it in Dol Guldûr.

Gandalf: (to Galadriel telepathically) Yes.

Galadriel: (to Gandalf telepathically) Show me.

Saruman: (still going on and on) …I would think I was talking to myself. With intention of (not understandable). By all means…

(Gandalf picks up the sword given to him by Radagast wrapped on garment and places it above the table)

Elrond: What is that?!

(Elrond uncovers the mystery wrapped in cloth)

Galadriel: A relic … of Mordor!

Elrond: The Morgo blade.

Galadriel: Made for the Witch-King of Angmar. And buried with him! When Angmar fell, the men of the North took his body and all that he possessed and sealed it within the high fels of Rudá. Deep within the rock they buried him. In a tomb so dark, it would never come to light!

Elrond: This is not possible. A powerful spell has upon those tombs. They cannot be opened!

Saruman: What proof do we have this weapon came from Angmar's grave?

Gandalf: I have none.

Saruman: Because there is none! Let us examine what we know. A single orc pack is dead across the Bruinen. A dagger from a bygone age has been found. And a human sorcerer who calls himself the Necromancer has taken up presidence in a ruined fortress. It is not very much, after all. The question of this dwarfish company, however, troubles me deeply. I am not convinced, Gandalf. I don't feel like I could condole such a quest. If they had come to me I might have spared them of this disappointment. I will not pretend to understand your reason and hopes….

Absolutely every bit of evidence Gandalf, Elrond, and Galadriel say here is dismissed one way or another by Saruman.  Always dismissing danger, ridicule, ad hominem, oversimplification.  Sounds a bit ... familiar, no? 

Look at all these things he's hiding.  Look at the influences in this man's past.  Look at the things he says and does and how one supports the other.   Look at what is happening.

And the response is, Progress! [Sauron has been vanquished!]

Hardly a prelude to war! [Isolated, unrelated incidents!]

Radagast! [Fox News!  Dismiss all of the above!]

No such power exists! [There is no evil!]

What proof do you have?! [Unfortunately, myriad relevant documents have been sealed.]

I will not pretend to understand your reason and hopes. [You are an irrational idiot.]

I do not know what Peter Jackson's (or whoever wrote this script's] worldview is ... but Andrew Klavan was right.  Conservative values sell, and Hollywood knows it either conciously or subconciously.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

10% Facts, 90% Snark

I've long thought that part of our problem as conservatives is that we're generally serious people when it comes to making important decisions in life -- and that when we argue we actually make arguments. This means the person making the argument has to actually take the time to construct one, and the person listening has to listen to and digest an often complex and more often than that boring rhetorical structure that takes more brain power than emotional reaction.

In other words, I find that most liberal arguments are about 10% fact and 90% snark. And snark is cool. Snark is fun. Snark puts down the other guy, which, by Einstein's theory of relativity, puts "up" the snarker. Not only is it easier to be a liberal, it's more fun - and you can always blame the consequences on someone else.

So this link was given specifically to me and my friend Whitehawk via facebook for us to respond to....
Phil, Gavin-we need this why?
The United States is making a gigantic investment in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, billed by its advocates as the next -- by their count the fifth -- generatio...n of air-to-air and air-to-ground combat aircraft. Claimed to be near invisible to radar and able to dominate any future battlefield, the F-…
The "challenge" was thrown down because he perceives I am against any cuts in defense spending, ever (I point out to him that this is an erroneous assumption). He gets to point to cost overruns and development problems during the R&D phase of a new weapon and snark, "We need this, why?"

And I have to talk about pros and cons. Which is much less fun to read or to repeat. But here it is:

If you look carefully back on everything I've said in the past about cutting defense spending, you'll not find one place where I said I was unilaterally against it, especially where waste and fraud are concerned.

What I am against is cutting defense spending just because it's defense spending and it's n% of the budget or the GDP or that it's more than the GDP of some country or that it's designed [duh] to kill. What I have said is at least it is one of the enumerated powers of the Federal Government, and it isn't where I would look first. But show me waste and fraud, and I'll be right there with you voting for the axe.

Now ... do we need this plane?

From what I've read, it would be a plane that would be nice to have, except for the fact that it doesn't exist. This article makes it sound like it is never going to exist, and it may be right, I don't know.

A half-billion per plane indeed sounds shockingly ludicrous if that is in fact what they'll end up costing -- which the article indicates could well be the case (right now they're figuring the $161 million will likely triple, in part because it thinks we won't buy as many of them which will up the R&D cost per plane). I would hate to watch as one of them malfunctions and crashes, or gets shot down ... seeing a half billion literally go up in smoke.

On the other hand, I'd like to see it compared (inflation-adjusted) to the R&D phases of the F-16's and F-22's they are being built to replace as well as the handy B-2 "Stealth" -- I imagine they were fraught with cost overruns and problems as well and there were probably articles written about what a waste of money they were and that they'd never live up to expectations.

There is some irony in watching people who crow about all of the tangential technological advances that have come out of R&D that happened to be Government funded (both in military and space programs) as an argument to why Government spending is superior to private-sector spending suddenly get all wobbly-kneed when it comes to defense. Wasn't it Paul Krugman who in the past couple of years suggested with a straight face that preparing for a Mars Invasion that everybody knows isn't coming would produce a massive economic boom? What if these fighters could fight off Martians? Sounds like they'd be better able to do it than F-22's, at least, and what difference does it make anyway since Paul's premise included the knowledge that the Martians would never come and it was the spending that mattered?

That all being said, since I disagree vehemently with Mr. Krugman on stimulus spending ... can we get by with F-22's for now -- and by that I mean, could we buy 2,500 new f-22's to replace the old planes for a lot less? Yeah, I think that should be looked at. But I don't have all of the arguments pro and con available to me immediately to make an informed decision on it this morning.

Crossposted at Rotten Chestnuts

Saturday, January 05, 2013

It's Not Just "You Didn't Build That"

No, it turns out there is no "you", either.

I’m reading this book, “Vindicating the Founders” ... I think by some prof at Hillsdale ... nice place. (Imprimis. I look forward to it in the mail, I think twice a month. It's worth signing up. But you can just read it on the web as well.)

Anyway, as an Atmospheric Science/Computer Science major, I really didn’t dabble in polisci or philosophy ... not formally, anyway. And over time, I’ve come to realize ... probably largely due to Thomas Sowell’s writings, that there’s this fundamental difference in worldview ... the tragic vision and the “progressive” vision of man.

I thought it was just an observation ... a distillation of the assumptions that have to be being made for “progressives” to hew to their view and for classical liberals to hew to theirs.

I had no idea that they literally spelled this out.

John Dewey, according to this book, and they quote:
“Social arrangements, laws, institutions ... are means of creating individuals. Individuality in a social and moral sense is something to be wrought out.”
They literally believe human nature is a product of social institutions (and apparently this goes back at lest to Rousseau). They literally therefore see social institutions as The Creator. As God. This makes their actions make perfect sense, if you look at them in that light.

Our worldview sees the Creator as something or someone outside of ourselves. That we have a nature the same way as a dog has a nature ... something all dogs are born with. Dogs have no social institutions to “create” individual dogs. No... in our view, social institutions are there to constrain and channel human nature, a nature that is already there just like dog nature is already there. But humans, humans have self-awareness – and thus a conscience. Which is a part of human nature, and it is the part that is susceptible to social constructs ... but it does not negate the animal nature we were born with. If social constructs don’t recognize and accommodate to some extent that part of our nature, the are doomed to fail. We know that.

But to the progressive, they are literally creating new humans, new individuals ... themselves. No wonder they eventually justify genocide ... or maybe “ideocide”, and simply try to advance the natural, Godless evolution of man by killing off those who profess any opposing belief.

They are God.

If the individual is born of “social constructs”, then we are not born with natural rights ... our rights are merely “social constructs”. At that point, we are only entitled to life, liberty, and property (pursuit of happiness) .... as long as government says so.

Ours are supposedly derived from our natural rights. The progressives say we have no natural rights. Our rights are what they say they are, depending on their mood this year.

Crossposted at Rotten Chestnuts.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

At Last, Gun Free Zones!

This is pretty darned close to a video I've been thinking about making for years. (hat tip to Morgan via Facebook)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Open Letter to Both Houses of Congress

Please vote "no" on any so called "assault weapons" ban.

Anti-gun advocates are pushing hard in the heat of the moment to rush through legislation that violates the intent of the Second Amendment.  In their zeal to take advantage of any crisis, they seek to consolidate ever more power in Washington and eliminate perhaps the most important check on Federal abuse in the Constitution -- that being private citizens retaining the power to abolish a government that becomes too tyrannical.  The Federal Government was not formed to grant and revoke rights, it was formed to protect our God-Given rights.
"... to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
The Second Amendment is, as are all of the standing amendments, a part of the Constitution.  It can be revoked, but only by the Constitutional Amendment process.  I don't see anybody moving in that direction.  The movement is in the direction of what the Constitution, via the second amendment, specifically prohibits.
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
It does have an introductory clause, but that clause does not change the meaning of the declarative portion of the wording, which is " the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." 

It doesn't just protect our right to keep them.  It protects our right to carry (bear) them.  And that right -- protected as a directive to the Federal Government as to what it specifically cannot do ... SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.

What part of SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED do these people not understand?
1.Actively break the terms of (a law, agreement, etc.)
2.Act so as to limit or undermine (something); encroach on
The first definition applies in that to actively break the Natural Law that gives us the right would be an infringement.  But the second definition is the definition that most people think of ... to "act so as to limit or undermine".  So the Federal Government cannot act so as to limit or undermine the right of the people to keep and bear arms.  That's what it says.

It doesn't say it "shall not be infringed" "unless", or "until", or "as long as", or "but only if"...

It doesn't mention hunting.  It doesn't mention sport shooting.  It mentions security of a free state, though.  That bit was apparently far more important.

If we want to address mass murders, let's address mass murderers.  Let's also address the gun-free zones that enable them.   Let's not break the Constitution by infringing on the right of millions of law abiding citizens.

Your job in Washington is an important one.  It is not, primarily, to make laws.  It is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

Crossposted at RottenChestnuts.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Steyn on the Sandy Hook Murderer

Prescient, as always:
"..the infanticidal maniac of Sandy Hook was merely conscripting grade-school extras for a hollow act of public suicide. Like most mass shootings, his was an exercise in hyper-narcissism – 19th century technology in the service of a very contemporary sensibility."

The rest of it is good as well. RTWT

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Rotten Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

Hey, folks, this is a time of year when my blog posts typically slow down anyway, because, frankly, there are important things to be done this time of year that involve doing things for and being with family and friends and appreciating more what you have and griping less about it all going down the tubes.

That being said, there's a new blog in town.   Severian, Morgan, Cylarz, and I have banded together as a sort of Four Musketeers to create a joint blog, by, as jeffmon says, "fellow travelers", by fellow travelers.

Come visit us at

From our "About Us" page:

The Free Online Dictionary defines “chestnut” as “An old, frequently repeated joke, story, or song.”  Miriam Webster calls it “something (as a musical piece or a saying) repeated to the point of staleness.”

Put simply, chestnuts are those things “everybody knows.” For instance, “everybody knows” that Republicans hate women, that revenues go up as taxes go up, that Sarah Palin’s an idiot, that George W. Bush hates black people, that “corporate personhood” is some kind of evil Wall Street scam, that the “Palestinian peace process” exists (and when it breaks down, it’s all Israel’s fault).

Put bluntly, chestnuts are what people believe when they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

At Rotten Chestnuts we aim, in our own small way, to change that. To educate. To inform. To praise the praiseworthy and mock the mockable. To entertain, and — dare we hope? — to inspire.

If you’re tired of being labeled ignorant, or a “hater,” or simply uncool for using the brains God gave you to examine the world, then this is a site for you.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Echoes of Gunfire

An echoposter posted this cartoon on facebook in the wake of the Sandy Hook murders.  This was an exercise in echostopping ... and I think it was effective.  But I think it is ripe for analysis.  One thing that struck me ... this other commenter (echoer) is not concerned at all with actually arguing a point.  Again and again, he completely avoids it.  I know they tend to short-circuit actual discussion and try to pre-empt it, but I was completely blown away by this guy's pit-bull like grip on the tactic.  He had nothing else.

What really blew me away -- and probably shouldn't have, was that this was personal to him.  It was about him, "beating" me in an argument.  If I present a supporting argument from someone else, it doesn't count.  He's not arguing with that guy.  He's arguing with meTruth?  Doesn't matter.

update:  initial reports I read sounded like he left the rifle in the trunk and only used handguns.  A more recent report says he used his .223 rifle as well.

philmon Could it be that there were no tyrants overthrown because they knew they shouldn't bother to try? 2nd Amendment Mission #1 accomplished.

There are no "solutions" in life. Only tradeoffs.

echoposter Ill gladly trade some reasonable restrictions on firearm sale, ownership and possession for the murder rate in the rest of the civilized world.

philmon "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. " - Ben Franklin

We already have reasonable restrictions on firearms sales.

And of course, murder rates depend on how you count them, and different countries count them differently. And there are other ways to murder. Just because someone didn't use a gun doesn't make it any less a murder.

Half of our murder rate is gang on gang. These people aren't stopped by laws saying what they can and can't do. These people aren't obeying current drug laws, robbery laws, drug laws, gun purchasing laws ... why would anyone think they follow additional gun laws?

And these mass murders by crazy people? Always happen in "gun free" zones. Why? They know they will meet no deadly force, and it's pretty much all about the psychological power trip for them.

Arm teachers. Israel does it. Works pretty well. Encourage conceal and carry.

echoposter Since people break laws, should we therefore have no laws? Or do we simply need better laws?

echoer "The Tree of Liberty must be frequently watered with the blood of Patriots and Kindergarteners." Thanks for the rhetoric.

echoer The solution to obesity deaths is to eat more food. The solution to alcohol related deaths is to drink more alcohol. The solution to gun deaths is more guns. Someday everyone will realize how empty and pointless that argument really is.

echoer I am sure Ben Franklin could conceive of the day when any lunatic could arm himself for war and then go slaughter 20 children as they sat in a classroom two weeks before Christmas Eve. But I suppose if that's the cornerstone if your argument, then good luck to you....

echoer ...and again, thanks for the rhetoric.

philmon If by "better" laws you mean further restricting the essential liberties of law-abiding citizens with perhaps noble intent but to no further end, then no, absolutely not.

I would think that what Ben Franklin couldn't envision is one in which law abiding citizens would be deprived of options for defending against lunatics -- and lunatics we have always had. There was nothing in 1776 that would stop a man from going into a school and shooting 20 children. But it didn't happen to my knowledge.

But today's perhaps well-meaning gun laws let a person so inclined KNOW that the likelihood of him being able to accomplish his mission before he meets any life-threatening resistance is essentially zilch.

Of course, Ben Franklin's quote, while it carries a good deal of truth is not the cornerstone of my argument, because it isn't an argument, it's a statement which distills the truth of the larger argument behind it. The larger argument behind it doesn't have a lot of feel-good-ism to it, but it is the cold truth and it must be considered.

I can't put it any better than Bill Whittle put it years ago. It's not sexy. It won't fit on a bumpersticker. But here it is.

"This, to my mind, is the fundamental difference between the Europeans and the U.S.: We trust the people. We fought wars and lost untold husbands and brothers and sons because of this single most basic belief: Trust the people. Trust them with freedom. Trust them to spend their own money. Trust them to do the right thing. Trust them to defend themselves. To the degree that government can help, great -- but TRUST THE PEOPLE.

We as a nation suffer an appalling number of handgun-related deaths each year -- perhaps 11,000 of them. The number is not important; each is a personal tragedy and those lives can never be replaced.

If we attempt to reduce this horrible number by banning handguns, we are taking away the property of a person who has broken no laws, by a government whose legitimacy is determined by a document that specifically allows that property, namely guns.

Destroy that trust by punishing the innocent, by pulling a plank from the Bill of Rights, and the contract between the government and the people falls apart. Once the Second Amendment goes, the First will soon follow, because if some unelected elite determines that the people can't be trusted with dangerous guns, then it's just a matter of time until they decide they can't be trusted with dangerous ideas, either. Dangerous ideas have killed many millions more people than dangerous handguns -- listen to the voices from the Gulag, the death camps, and all the blood-soaked killing fields through history.

The Framers, in their wisdom, put the 2nd Amendment there to give teeth to the revolutionary, unheard-of idea that the power rests with We The People. They did not depend on good will or promises. They made sure that when push came to shove, we'd be the ones doing the pushing and shoving, not the folks in Washington. And by the way, gun rights supporters are frequently mocked when they say it deters foreign invasion -- after all, come on, grow up, be realistic: Who's nuts enough to invade America? Exactly. It's unthinkable. Good. 2nd Amendment Mission 1 accomplished.

But back to the undeniable domestic cost: when confronted with the idea of banning handguns to reduce this horrible toll, many handgun defenders are tempted to point to the numbers killed on the highways each year -- perhaps four times that number -- and ask why we don't ban cars as well.

The logical response is that bans on travel -- cars, airplanes, etc. -- are a false analogy compared to banning guns, because cars have a clear benefit while guns don't do anything other than kill what they are aimed at.

While that is exactly true, I think it misses the point, which to me is simply this: we'd never ban automobile travel to avoid thousands of highway deaths. It's clearly not worth it in both economic and personal freedom terms. We choose, reluctantly, and with many a lost loved one in mind, to keep on driving.

Here is my dry-eyed, cold-hearted, sad conclusion: I believe that the freedom, convenience and economic viability provided

by the automobile is worth the 40,000 lives we lose to automotive deaths each year -- a number made more horrible by the fact that perhaps 40% are related to drunk driving and are therefore preventable.

By the same calculation, I accept that the freedoms entrusted to the people of the United States are worth the 11,000 lives we lose to gun violence each year.

I wish I could make both those numbers go away. I will support any reasonable campaign to make them as low as possible.

But understand this: 11,000 handgun deaths a year, over four years is very roughly 50,000 killed. In Nazi Germany, an unarmed population was unable to resist the abduction and murder of 6,000,000 people in a similar period: a number 120 times higher. Throw in the midnight murders of the Soviets, the Chinese, the various and sundry African and South American genocides and purges and political assassinations and that number grows to many hundreds, if not several thousand times more killings in unarmed populations.

Visualize this to fully appreciate the point. Imagine the Superbowl. Every player on the field is a handgun victim. All the people in the stands are the victims who were unable to resist with handguns. Those are historical facts. "

echoer Wow. I've never felt so persuaded! Thanks philmon! That dry-eyed, cold-hearted, sad conclusion is exactly what the nation needs on this particular Sunday morning.

echoer PS, Where did you get your awesome book of quotes?

philmon Yes, because shallow, dismissive sarcasm is surely the solution to serious problems.

philmon And "book" of quotes? Depends on the quote.

It's simple.

I read.

A lot.

echoer No, shallow dismissive sarcasm is surely the solution to smug, self-important people who are ready to condescend to others while patting themselves on the back for their erudition. I use it. A lot.

echoer And you started it, so nyaaah.

echoposter We have to play nice

echoer echoposter is right. Peace, philmon.

echoer By the way, here is a link to the names, faces, and life stories (some of the stories aren't very long, you'll be astonished to learn) of some of the most recent 11000 or so people you don't mind sacrificing for your 'liberty.'  (posts link to story about victims)

philmon Where?

And any particular part of the "rhetoric" you have a specific challenge to? Or is this just more, "if I can label it, I can dismiss it"?

echoer Or don't read it, I really don't care.

echoer "if I can label it, I can dismiss it"? Like you did with sarcasm a bit earlier? Hoisted by one's own petard, eh? One last point I would make--your willingness to sacrifice 11000 lives or more through gun violence: Do those sacrifices include the people in your photo albums? To the ones whose pictures are in your wallet? Would that sacrifice include echoposter and his family? Or me and mine? Anybody but you and yours? Are you really defending an ideal, or just your own hide?

echoposter We don't ban automobile travel. I haven't heard anyone suggest banning handguns, either. We regulate automobiles. You have to be old enough. You have to prove your understanding of relevant law. You have to demonstrate competence. You have to carry insurance to protect the interests of others, should something go wrong. You have to register your ownership. You have to have a license. None of these are giant hurdles. The huge majority of Americans over 16 possess an operator's license and own or have convenient access to automobiles, despite all those regulations.

echoposter As far as drug laws, I'm generally inclined to legalize at least marijuana and cocaine. I think laws banning those drugs are as ineffective and destructive as prohibition was 90 years ago. Bad laws are those that are difficult and expensive to enforce, to which people are largely non-compliant. People do speed, but most people don't commit egregious violations. And police don't often write tickets for 63 mph in a 55 mph zone.

philmon Well echoer, your sarcasm addressed nothing that was said, and added nothing to the conversation other than an attempt to dismiss any argument without addressing it. But since you don't care to read the other side of arguments anyway, I suppose you suffer from willful ignorance.

If you think for a second that I haven't seen the faces and names of the kids and the quick thinking young teacher and felt deep pangs of sorrow sympathy for them and their families, you're sorely mistaken. I find it extremely disturbing as any mentally healthy human being would. If you think I'm "dismissing" their deaths, you've missed the point. But of course you've missed the point because you don't bother to read something you have decided ahead of time you disagree with.

Life isn't a bumper sticker. There is evil in the world. Always has been. Always will be. There are things we can do to mitigate a lot of its effects, but each remedy comes with a cost, and many remedies merely shift the cost to things that are harder to connect. There are people who have studied and thought long and hard about these things. And many of them disagree with your opinion and have thoughtful arguments as to why they believe what they do.

So far, all I've seen from you is ridicule and derision. These tools are used to avoid engaging in any sort of meaningful discussion - in fact, they are typically used to pre-empt any discussion whatsoever.

echoposter is smarter than that. We disagree on lots of stuff, but at least he has actual concrete ideas.

philmon If you haven't heard of anyone suggesting we ban handguns, you should pay more attention. Short of banning them, however, we've made it nearly impossible, certainly completely impractical, for any law-abiding citizen to legally carry one through the course of a normal day due to restrictions on where you can and can't (legally) have one on you. On the other hand, criminals do not care whether or not they can legally carry one wherever they want to carry one. So all you end up doing is leaving the law-abiding citizen unarmed making the criminal's monopoly on force all but certain. The criminals are very aware of this, and use it to their advantage.

Before buying each firearm I own, whether at a store or at a gun show, I am subject to a criminal background check, which I pass with flying colors every time. I'm all for that, and we have it. (Criminals have no compunction to obtaining firearms illegally, though).

I actually wouldn't mind, in fact, I'd be in strong favor of general firearm safety and the laws concerning their legal use being taught to everyone whether you ever own one or not, because this *is*, in fact, serious business. I have taken such courses. I do prefer that the law treat us as responsible adults, and expect responsible behavior in return.

Nonetheless, some will be irresponsible, and the most effective way of dealing with them is to have responsible adults on the premises deal with their threats in real time, since the police can't be everywhere.

So we agree on education. There!

Sounds like we agree on drug laws in general as well.

To severely curtail these mass shootings at schools, I would encourage the arming of teachers. I know people in this day and age recoil at the idea -- "a gun in the school" ... but the gun won't leap out of the teacher's holster and start shooting people. Do you believe teachers love the kids they teach? I do. Look at Vicki Soto.

Now imagine how different things would likely have been if Vicki had had a 9mm glock on her.

Imagine if the killer who went there to basically shoot fish in a barrel had known that a lot of teachers were armed.

He likely never would have shown up. It would have ruined the power trip. But if he did show up and find Vicki Soto in an empty classroom where she had hidden the kids in lockers looking down the sights of her sidearm at him - his spree would not have lasted as long as it did. It would shut it down as no law ever could. And Ms. Soto might be alive today. She would at least have had a fighting chance.

Licensing and registration ... these are contentious mainly because once such lists are made, they are invariably used down the road to disarm citizens, which removes an essential liberty and a plank in the balance of power. For the reasons Mr. Whittle laid out above, I'm against it. But education? Education I'm all for.

echoer Thanks philmon. The slaughter of innnocents revolts me, and people who write them off as 'unfortunate statistics" fill me with disgust. Arming teachers is a stupid idea--most rational people I know abhor the idea of guns around their children. Israel does not do it. Some Israeli teachers may carry arms, but the nation does not do it. But you're right--maybe if an armed teacher had been able to intercede, then there would have been 12? 10? What number of children would you find acceptable?

echoer Any citation of the numbers of people killed by automobiles is a false equivalency. I didn't bring it up; you did.

echoer At no time did I turn this into a discussion of handguns; you did.

echoer And comparing handgun deaths in this country to the slaughter of the Holocaust is the stupidest thing you have said today.

echoer Right after your cool Superbowl analogy.

echoer This nut walked into a schoolhouse and shot 26 people. Most of them were shot between six and eleven times.

And he did it in seconds. If you think all is right with the world and that your 'sound reasoning' passes for meaningful discussion, then I guess that's your little red wagon.

echoer You may respond if you wish, but I am finished here. Good night.

philmon Ok. I don't recall anyone saying all is right with the world ... as a matter of fact, I specifically recall saying that all will never be right with the world, and that there are tradeoffs to any mitigation you wish to try which must be considered.

No number of dead children is acceptable. 12 is better than 28, I hope you would agree. But there they will be regardless of whatever well-meaning legislation you pass, making it still more certain that children will be unprotected, and make attractive targets for disturbed individuals looking for a body count.

The holocaust occurred in an unarmed population, as did the rest of the cited mass murders of millions, even 10s of millions of people. It's completely relevant. As a matter of fact, it is of utmost importance. There lie the bodies of 11,000 people in a ditch in an armed society. There lie tens of millions of bodies in an unarmed one. Your choice isn't 28 or zero. It would be awesome if it were, but it is not.

The arguments against handguns are basically the same as the arguments against any firearms. Bill happened to be talking about handguns, but the principles still apply.

Especially since our recent shooter used .... not "assault rifles" .... but ...handguns. Also completely relevant.

But hey, kudos for at least going back and reading it. I'm proud of you.

philmon Heh, as to where I "started" the dismissive sarcasm ... I think perhaps you and I have a different understanding of the meaning of the word "started". I addressed your dismissive sarcasm with dismissive sarcasm. Tit for tat, I suppose.

I see that echoer thinks my arguments are "stupid", but makes no attempt at addressing how -- I suppose because he, as he said, doesn't bother to read them, and then -- that isn't enough, he makes up "my" arguments and derides them. ("The Tree of Liberty must be frequently watered with the blood of Patriots and Kindergarteners." WTH? I missed that little gem.)

This is the state of political discourse in the country today. "I'm right and you're stupid."

Damn. We have a lot of work to do.

philmon One also wonders what echoer's stance on spending more money to get out of debt would be given his aversion to counter-intuitive propositions. But I can wager a good guess.

Of course, the bottom line is spending more money doesn't deter more spending, more alcohol doesn't deter more drinking, more food doesn't deter more eating ... but more guns in the population does deter the illegitimate use of them.

echoer I owe you a sincere apology. Upon careful perusal of your earlier posts, I see that the one in which you made your points didn't contain any original thoughts. I thought that the first paragraph after you introduced someone named Bill Whittle was the entirety of Mr. Whittle's remarks, and that the rest were your original contribution to the discussion. Turns out--I was wrong. The REST of the post is also a cut and paste job. It seems that my sarcasm should be directed at somebody named Whittle. It wasn't your supercool Superbowl analogy, or your silly and stupid comparison to the Holocaust (the cliche of all political discussion), nor was it your false automobile equivalency--those arguments are all someone else's. You aren't the one who is wrong--Bill Whittle is! I'll try harder next time.

echoer Nitey nite!

philmon Yes, everything after I introduced Bill was, indeed, Bill Whittle's words.

The fact that they were not my words, or as you say, "any original thoughts" does not negate the fact that they are, in fact, thoughts, and thoughts with which I agree. Again, you merely attempt to dismiss them by deriding them as "unoriginal".

And it's clear you think that the parallel between murders by gun and automobile deaths is "false" ... but "false" is a declaration, not an argument. You'll have to back that up to actually make an argument.

My guess ... and I admit it's a guess, but I'm pretty sure of it, is that you think it is "false" because automobiles provide a benefit to society, while guns do not. Even if that were true, though, the fact remains that 40,000 people die as a result of automobiles every year, and they are just as innocent and just as dead as those 11,000 killed by guns. And you're apparently groovy with that, since you think I'm groovy with the 11,000 gun victims and you're not for banning cars.

Where we disagree is over the benefit of personal weapons to a society where the people have the power to fight back, whether against a criminal or to deter tyrants.

Your "argument"?

It's "false". I've presented lots of original thought here. You? Contempt, derision, slander ... just about everything except anything like an argument ... and especially no proposed remedies.

But we do know, thanks to you, that mine, are, as you say, "stupid".

echoer No, not yours--they are Bill Whittle's stupid thoughts.

echoer You want remedies? Let's talk about mental health issues. Let's talk about the gun fetish. Let's talk about the Golden Calf that no one want to discuss. Let's talk about responsible gun ownership. Let's talk about reasonable laws that keep guns out of the hands of people that are too unstable to have access to firearms. Let's talk about why this happened, instead of What If or If Only scenarios. I would be happy to share, but not with Bill Whittle. Or anyone else for that matter.

philmon The original source may be different, but your "argument" remains the same.

echoer Yes, and my beef's with Bill Whittle, not philmon.

philmon You mean "if only" scenarios like "if only we could keep guns out of the hands of people that are too unstable to have access to firearms"?

I see you're willing to "talk about" a lot of things ... but still no actual ideas about WHAT to do and how it would be effective. But only with people you agree with.

philmon And to consider the unintended consequences.

echoer You're right, philmon. You win, philmon. The undisputed master of the debate, philmon. Bye, philmon.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Missing Something

A friend posted a quote and a link to a Jack Shakley opinion piece in the LA Times.
In February 2003, 450 economists, including 10 of the 24 living Nobel laureates in economics, made a public plea to President George W. Bush not to enact the recent tax cuts passed by Congress. [..]

In the nearly 10 years that have elapsed since that plea, the budget deficit has ballooned, the gap between the wealthy and the middle class has expanded, and the American economy has spiraled into the greatest decline since the Depression. History has proved the 450 economists were correct. On Dec. 31, these same Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire. This, we are told in hushed or hysterical tones, could push the American economy off a "fiscal cliff."

Am I missing something here? Can letting a failed tax policy die be such a bad thing?
Ignoring the huge non sequitur that 1) the tax cuts were implemented and 2) all this bad stuff happened, that 3) the bad stuff happened because the tax cuts were implemented, because a big sounding number of economists including 10/24 sooper smart people said it would (does anyone wonder what the other 14/24 thought?), I said ... yeah, you are missing something.

Something like any sort of balancing opinion.

So I linked that day's Thomas Sowell column on the subject, in which he directs us to look at the Obama Administration's own economic report as well as a New York Times headline from after the tax cuts were passed expressing surprise at increased tax revenue from corporations and "the rich".

To which a friend of that friend thoughtfully countered Sowell's argument and evidence with the brilliant argument, and I quote, "Thomas Sowell is a shill".

He followed that with something very close to (I later embarrassed him into deleting his own comments, so I'm not sure how word-for-word this is ...) "and before you go spouting off about the founders, let's remember they crapped in buckets, owned slaves, and wore satin pants and powdered wigs. But times change, don't they?"

I did politely hit him back exposing his puffery knee-jerk stink bomb throwing, which apparently eventually embarrassed him into deleting those comments. Hey. Progress. They CAN be made to feel sheepish about their rude and thoughtless puffery.
Sowell is a shill, eh? There's a deep and thoughtful assessment, Jim. So, can you tell me exactly where you think the "shill's" argument ran off the rails and why, or, as I suspect is more likely true, that it is your attempt to pre-empt any sort of thoughtful discussion by dismissing an opinion you don't like with a quick ad hominem?

The Republicans who lost "big time" still hold a solid majority in the House, and they are there to represent the people who voted for them. I'm pretty sure no Republicans ran on increasing taxes or increasing spending, so I'm going to assume people didn't vote for them to do that. By pushing back, they are doing their jobs. And I'm pretty sure none of them own slaves (since they are of the party that was formed specifically in opposition to it, ended it, got the 14th amendment passed, elected the first several black congressmen, and got the civil rights legislation through the 1950's and 1960's passed, all on the principles of equal treatment under the law that those bucket-crapping, slave owners framed in the Constitution) .... and I'm also pretty sure none of them crap in buckets or wear powdered wigs.
Now, I told you that story to tell you this one.

The "founders were slave-owners" tack is a common one. The bucket crapping, satin-pantsed powdered-wig wearers ... well, I gotta admit that was a new one on me. But this was clearly shut-uppery, which thanks to Andrew Klavan, I don't fall for anymore. I really do think this guy thought had the last "sane" word on the subject, and that if I did pick up the mantle of the founders, it would be met by the ridicule of all onlookers.

Don't back down, and don't let them have their red meat. What I did was mock his shallow attack. I called him out on it and exposed his attack for what it was. I did limit it, though, and I'm going to go on a bit here with some thoughts for future trips down the road this guy tried to take it.

As far as times changing ... yes, they indeed do. But human nature does not. We still have the same basic weaknesses. We want to get the most for the least amount of effort. It's the basis of all economics, and anything that doesn't recognize this as a central fact to be dealt with is doomed to failure, and doomed to cause more problems than it seeks to overcome.

We want a better life for our kids. We want to share our happiness with our families and our friends. The more noble of us also want to share it with strangers, and we do through our churches, community aid centers, our pet charities ... and sometimes on our own, person to person.

If you read the arguments surrounding the birth of our Constitution -- and I recommend it highly -- for without them the Constitution is indeed vague in places if you don't understand the frame of mind they were in -- it is very clear that the Founders understood human nature and its fundamental weaknesses from wanting something for nothing to it's ultimate manifestation in those who gain power ... power corrupts. The government was limited not because they wanted people to do

whatever the hell they wanted, but because they knew what happens when you give people the power to dictate to others what they will and won't do. It's far worse than allowing sinners to sin outside of basic, natural law. These guys, though they may have crapped in buckets, knew their sh*t. They were far more well-read than your average mouthy pundit or blogger (on the left or the right, sadly, though I do think the right probably has a bit of a lead in at least reading the Constitution and maybe the Federalist Papers). I'll still go ahead and say it. They were far better read than I am, though I have read a lot in the past 9 years.

So here's a rule we need to try to live up to as best we can when we go to Stop Echoes -- expose rotten chestnuts for what they are -- know your sh*t. Don't wander into unfamiliar territory and spout things you think are facts as facts. But when you have your facts, I'll tell you those Alinsky rules for radicals are very easy to turn on these people.

These three are particularly useful to turn on them

#1) “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.”

The thing here is, the enemy thinks you're an uniformed idiot, and that they have a monopoly on truth. When you show that you are not, it shakes them up. What they'll likely do at this point is dismiss with an ad hominem on your source, or they'll move the goal posts ... shift the argument to a new subject. It's good to bring them back to the point that made them uncomfortable in the first place and make them sweat a little bit more before you decide whether or not you want to aim at their new goalposts.

#2 “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone.

In this case, "your people" is you. Don't spout off stuff as fact things you only think you know and can't back up. This is good advice for anyone from Mr. Alinsky.

#3 “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.

Oh yes. Well there are some better-read leftists, and you do have to size up your opponent. But chances are, at our level, they're just spouting off opinion and misinformation they read on HuffPo or in the MSM somewhere. They don't know jack about the Constitution or the principles that produced it, and what's good about it. And most of them have never read Alinsky, either ;-) At this point, we know our sh*t better than they do, even about some of their own people.

Easily verifiable facts make them squirm. And while that can be fun when arguing with a real a**, remember the main objective of Stop an Echo ... you're really not trying to change their mind. You're publicly challenging the leftist point of view in front of bystanders. If they're watching this guy squirm, his words will carry much less weight.

I recommend not getting nasty in public, either. When you do, unless everyone can see the guy is a real a**, your words carry much less weight.

And finally, on to that slave-owner thing.

It's not like the Founders invented slavery. Many were abolitionists. The slave-owners themselves were born into being slave owners. They didn't just wake up one day and say "hey, I think I'll import some slaves". Jefferson himself tried at least three times during his political career to try to restrict or abolish it. In his original draft of the Declaration of Independence, he pretty much let the King have it on the whole institution of slavery -- and they created the Constitution that put the country directly at odds with the whole idea.

They even tried to restrict it, with an eye toward abolition, TWICE, in the Constitution. One is the oft-cited 3/5ths clause, which leftists love to bring up when trying to discredit the Constitution. They only considered blacks to be 3/5ths of a person, man!!!!! Racists!!!! Uh... no.

The slave states wanted to count their slaves as 5/5ths, or one -- person -- oh yes, they did. Why was this? Not because they thought their slaves were people. They wanted them counted as a part of the population, because representation in Congress was determined in proportion to population. That's right. They wanted the additional weight of the slave population to increase their representation in Congress ... and do you think that representation was going to be used in the interests of the slaves?

Absolutely not.

The 3/5ths compromise was put in ... by the abolitionists ... to water down this effect. The abolitionists didn't want slaves to count as a part of the population being represented, because their interests wouldn't be represented.

Incidentally, the only race mentioned in the Constitution is American Indians, and even that was not brought up in a racial context, but a national context -- the Indian Nations. Slave was a legal status. Africans were not the only people enslaved by others over the course of history. There were some free blacks (who could vote!) and there were probably even a few white slaves in America at various points. Slavery had been around for far longer than written history. Our country was created less than 100 years before its ultimate demise, and the ideas the Constitution was based upon had a lot to do with that.

But hey, man, they crapped in buckets and wore powdered wigs. So we can dismiss anything they had to say.

The other is that in the Constitution, it was written that the importation of slaves was to cease. Now this wasn't abolition. But it was done in the hope that slavery would eventually die as an institution. Like I said, they were born into a slave-owning society. As they put together documents outlining a philosophy that said that "all men are created equal" ... it dawned on them that the institution of slavery was diametrically opposed to these ideals. It is very easy for us to sit back and criticize these men, and they certainly deserve some for that. But I think that only underscores the fact that men are weak, and that power corrupts. These men were imperfect, but they had high principles that in their time they were not living up to. What they poured into the documents that founded the Republic.

That stuff is gold.

Read it. Know it. Love it. Teach it.

Crossposted at Rotten Chestnuts