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The Whip, July 9, 2010

Are You an "Internal" or an "External?" And Which is Mitch Daniels? -- Is this like being an "innie" or an "outie?" I'm an internal, I guess. And an innie, thank you very much.

La Nina to form in July as storm, drought fears flare -- What do we need to make the Great Depression II? Stupid government economic policies causing economic bubbles? Check! Even stupider government policies delaying the economic recovery? Check! A return of the Dust Bowl? On the way? Gee. All we'll need to get out of this is a world war. Oh, wait, the government debt is already where it was at the END of World War II. Oopsie. Hey, here's an idea! Let's RAISE TAXES! Yeah, that always improves the lives of regular people. Heck, they'd rather have all that free time than have to waste time at a job anyway! It's like we're doing them a favor by making it impossible for them to find a job! Yeah, that's the ticket!

Green Economics and the Void of Desire
Consider the purchasing and investment decisions of our three hundred million citizens as a widely dispersed intelligence of tremendous complexity. Resources are allocated through a vast number of individual decisions, made with impressive speed. Each citizen becomes one element of a mighty network. It is capable of intuition, as sophisticated communications allow consumers to react to trends and opportunities in a cascade of email, website postings, phone calls, and casual conversation. It is creative, because it’s not restrained by ideology or central directives. People adopt new technologies with astounding speed. With apologies to Alvin Toffler, the only “future shock” nowadays is felt by manufacturers, as the best high-tech products go from the expensive indulgences of trendy nerds to household items in a matter of months.

Obama-style command economics are a far more primitive form of intelligence. They are directed by small groups of people wearing ideological blinders. Politically unacceptable alternatives are ruled nonexistent. Command economies move with glacial speed, receiving corrective input only once every couple of years at the ballot box. They are wasteful, as vast resources are allocated to pay off valuable constituencies, or absorbed by a useless political class through graft.

Emphasis in original. The simple fact remains that the "progressive" agenda is, in actuality, profoundly regressive, essentially taking us back to a primitive, Dark Ages view of human beings and their relationship to government--a relationship of subjects and rulers--of serfs and lords (and guess which one you're going to be?). It wipes out hundreds of years of long, slow progress towards increasing individual rights, returning us to a neo-feudal--almost tribal--situation where the rights you have come from the group you belong to, instead of being inherent in you by virtue of simply being a human.

Like in so many other things, the very word that the authoritarians use to describe themselves, "progressive," is itself a blatant lie. It is, in fact, The Big Lie. Again. They are not "progressive." They are not "liberal." They are the exact opposite of progressive and liberal.

Health care, welfare, the environment--all are not ends in themselves for the "progressives." They are, for "progressives," noble-sounding rhetorical tools which they cheerfully, cynically use to pry your individual, inherent rights away from you.

You have a choice: do it the "progressive's" way, or go the way of freedom. The goals of the "progressives" and the true liberals may be the same--a better life for everybody. But the true liberals know how to get there--increase the freedom, liberty, individual power, and personal responsibility of every single human being. The "progressives" are flailing in the dark. The Dark Ages dark.

Choose the light. Choose freedom. Choose liberty.

Iowa Federal Court Finds Sheriff Denied Concealed Carry Because of Applicant’s Political Activity, Orders Sheriff to Take a First Amendment Class -- Actually, all law enforcement personnel--and actually, all government employees at any level--should be required to pass an extensive (week-long?) training session and test on the original intent of the United States Constitution and the federal system of government. Taking elected office should be contingent on passing that course with an "A."

I'm serious about that.

How can you have people in your government who don't understand the fundamental concepts of your government? Current experience proves that you can't.
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The Whip, July 8, 2010

Featured today:

The Care of Time
The destruction of private enterprise and its substitution by government spending creates the danger that too many people will find there’s nothing left but to stay on the needle. Only when it the needle absolutely positively bone dry; bent, corroded and blood encrusted will the alternative be considered. In the meantime there is the terrible momentum of promises, the fatal attraction of hope and change. Will there be enough reserve buoyancy to surface? Or will the Ship of State, like some gigantic version of Illinois, keep racing for the depths?


I've seen the needle, and the damage done.

America, and the world, needs an intervention, I think. Perhaps at this point a divine one is required.

America As Job -- In keeping with this sudden turn to religious references . . . Job as in "the patience of," not as Bite-Me Biden's four letter word. I'm really not a particularly religious person. But then, religious people do not offend me, either. In fact, I'm more often comforted by the existence of serious, thoughtful religious people than intimidated or threatened by them. Radical Islamists excepted, of course.

In a silent way
Readers who get their news from the the mainstream media are remarkably ill informed. Much of what they "know" isn't true and much of what they don't know is important.

If what you know comes from ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, or MSNBC, PBS, NPR, or other leftist-dominated media outlets, then you are dreadfully poorly informed. This is simply fact. Get used to it.

And yes, I occasionally listen to outlets like the BBC as well as ABC and the other outlets above. I just don't believe that they report events and issues fully and fairly, because I'm also reliably informed by many other sources. Of course, I spend an average of probably three or four hours a day actively learning what's going on in the world and studying world history to learn how we came to be where we are now. Most people don't have that kind of time to do that.

This is a bit of an "argument from authority" I guess, but I do spend time trying to understand what's going on, and why. I'm not content to simply believe what anyone wants me to believe. I'm a firm believer in what Ronald Reagan said: Trust, but verify. And all too often when I try to verify the accuracy of the news and opinion of Old Media outlets, I find that they are inaccurate at best, disingenuously misleading all too often, and actively deceitful (with what they report, and much more often by what they don't report) with depressing regularity. And so I have concluded that what they say can not be trusted.
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Independence Whip Finale, July 6, 2010

(Actually, not the real finale . . . just the articles I bookmarked through sometime on July 4th itself. Yeah, I'm playing catchup again.)

Meltdown: Democrats Teetering On The Edge Of Political Abyss -- If "saying it makes it so" like the Democrats believe, then I'm going to go hoarse using this as a mantra . . .

Obama Has Killed Recovery -- "Progressive" policies and Keynesian economics simply don't work--not without a large, robust economy, internationally (that has traditionally been the USA) or a large, robust, resiliant private sector (domestically) to suck the life out of. When the golden goose of free enterprise can't lay enough golden eggs to pay for the welfare state and Keynesian economic ignorance, then things fall apart--like what happened in the 1930's. Like what is likely to happen in the 2010's, unless the Democratic agenda is not only stopped but decisively reversed, across the board.

Baghdad and Kabul? No – The Most Dangerous Place in the World is Between the Teachers Unions and the Public Trough -- I'm not so sure we wouldn't be better off simply abolishing any direct funding of education by government, and just give people vouchers to use for whatever educational needs they have. It wouldn't be a totally free market (after all, those vouchers would still be government scrip of a sort) but I think it needs to be seriously considered as an alternative to the state-capture of education in this country. Separate Education And State! Free The Schools!
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In The News: An Independence Whip, July 3, 2010

Elena Kagan: Well, That Looks Like My Handwriting On That Memo, But Gee I Don't Know What You're Talking About -- And with this, I come to the point where I do not believe I would trust this woman to walk my dog, let alone be a justice of the Supreme Court . . .

Sen. Coburn: Kagan 'Ignorant' of Constitutional Principles; 'I Wouldn't Rule Out a Filibuster' -- Actually, the Republicans' actually going ahead, finding some cojones, and shutting Washington down for the rest of the year would probably set off an economic boom all by itself . . .
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Science, Sports, and Miscellany: An Independence Whip, July 3, 2010

Weather vs. Climate
The two most important boundary conditions (inputs) to seasonal forecasts are sea surface temperatures and soil moisture. No one has shown any skill at modeling either of those, so no surprise that The Met Office Seasonal forecasts were consistently wrong.
Note that the word "skill" in this context is a term of art, with a specific, technical meaning--the easiest way of understanding the term as used in statistical modeling is that a model that has "skill" if it can provably and repeatably predicting whatever it happens to be modeling better a prediction based on than random chance--i.e. flipping a coin. Models that have skill have some usefulness in understanding what may happen. Models with no skill have no value--other than, perhaps, as political totems.
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Corruption and Abuse of Power: An Independence Whip, July 2, 2010

And Justice For All
The salient thing about J. Christian Adams’s accusation that the Obama administration deliberately let off the New Black Panther Party after it engaged in voter intimidation is that, if true, it constitutes a pure exercise in the abuse of power. The other wrongs it represents — the perversion of the electoral process, the violation of civil rights — are secondary. The most serious allegation in the whole affair is that the certain officials countenanced a crime because they wanted to. The most concentrated expression of tyranny is malice in the service of caprice.

If Obama knew that this investigation got quashed--let alone ordering its suppression--I personally think it rises to the level of an impeachable offense. It's that serious.
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Independence Whip, July 4, 2010

Resolved: America Ought To Be Free!

Barack Obama Is Making Me Laugh
So I listened to his speech on immigration and chuckled as he lectured us, yet again, on what America is — as if he had a clue about what America is. His contempt for us is so palpable. As if he had any respect for what makes America great – free speech, individual rights, entrepreneurship, and privacy rights. As if he had a clue as to why legal immigrants come here — to escape tyrants and would-be tyrants like him.

Wile E. Obama, Genius.

Basic economic ignorance -- The left has talked themselves into believing that up is down, black is white, ignorance is strength, and foolishness is deep wisdom. They have detached themselves from reality and are floating freely in a delusion of their own creation.

More Anti-Christian Propaganda From ‘Law & Order’ -- Tired agitprop from aging leftist "creative geniuses." Illustrative of how the left has detached themselves from reality.

The Anti-Educational Effects of Public Schools -- Privatize all the "public" schools--including the universities. Abolish and make illegal andy and all government money transfers of any kind to any educational institution--subsidy, grant, salary, anything. Give every person--man, woman, child--an education voucher, the value of which is determined by the sum total of all "education" spending by government, divided by the number of legal inhabitants of the country. Put the money in named, numbered accounts for the exclusive use of the individual legal inhabitant.

Let people decide where--or if--to spend their money for education--and that education can be standard academic training, learning a trade or craft, or they can use it to fund another person's education, or fund research, if they choose not to use the money themselves.

We need to break out of the old ways of thinking. They are no longer adequate to the challenges of today. The old, 18th-century model of primary, secondary, and higher education is no longer serving us well. We need something new.

Let's invent it.
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Freedom, Prosperity, and their Opponents: An Independence Whip, July 2, 2010

Sarah Palin: The Tea Party Hawk -- For the record, I think the USA should be armed to the teeth, bristling with weapons that can reach out and touch anyone, any time, anywhere in the world. My favored foreign policy is: deal straight and fairly with us, and we'll do the same with you. If not, understand that:
a) we are a nation made up of a bunch of mad, bad, and dangerous-to-know types who you REALLY do not want to piss off, and
b) no, really, REALLY, you do not want to piss us off, or we will hurt you very, very, very badly.

This foreign policy will, it is true and unfortunate, require the occasional loud, messy destruction of people who have successfully pissed us off (by, say, flying commercial airplanes into skyscrapers, or sawing off our journalists' heads, or kidnapping our citizens and holding them on trumped up "spying" charges--or possibly even sinking one of our most valuable trading partner's warships, or highly placed "elected" officials who consistently threaten the genocide of an entire religion, to which many of our citizens belong--things like that). This destruction will occur with our complete understanding that there will be some unfortunate collateral destruction of anyone else, guilty or innocent, who happens to be close enough to those who have pissed us off to be caught within the blast radius. What can you say? The real world is a bee-atch. This is quite cold-bloodedly intended to convince those innocent people near the guilty parties to give them up to us expeditiously to avoid any such regrettable collateral unpleasantness. (It is also, not coincidentally, almost exactly the observed foreign policy of, say, Russia--except for the "deal straight and fairly with us" part, which Russia seems to forget all to often.)
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Independence Whip, July 2, 2010

Who Pays the Taxes

Distribution of Federal Taxes
The federal tax system is progressive--that is, average tax rates generally rise with income. Households in the bottom fifth of the income distribution (with average income of $18,400, under a broad definition of income) paid 4.0 percent of their income in federal taxes. The middle quintile, with average income of $64,500, paid 14.3 percent of that income in taxes, and the highest quintile, with average income of $264,700, paid 25.1 percent.

who's paying their fair share again?
Contrary to Democrat spin, the poor are NOT getting poorer. Their income was going up--not as fast as the wealthiest, maybe, but still going up . . .
But their proportion of the taxes paid keep going down. Yeah. Let's talk about "fair."

The question is always framed as "the rich aren't paying their fair share." Well, what's fair? The only answer the "progressives" ever give is: "The poor pay less, and the rich pay more." That's an inherently unstable way to build a society--it ultimately leads to a permanent underclass--the ones without the money, and a permanent ruling class--the ones with the money. Eventually, the underclass catches onto the scam. Then you have revolutions.

Everybody needs to have some "skin in the game." When you have 50% of the population paying no income tax at all, you're starting to get into very, very dangerous territory, socially. That's where we are right now.

Who's paying their fair share again?
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Liberty: An Independence Whip, July 1, 2010

Libertarians write their own invitation to the party
First and foremost, libertarians like liberty, the idea that individuals have as much space as possible to make as many choices as possible (there’s a reason that Reason’s most recent anthology is called “Choice“). And unlike conservatives and liberals, who always fetishize some choices and demonize others, we’re pretty consistent. We generally like school choice and reproductive choice, for instance, and think you should have your choice of religion (including none at all) too, and drugs, and partners in life and business.

We recognize, too, that such a scheme is predicated upon tolerance and pluralism. Your right to boss me around should be as limited as my right to tell you what to do. There are legitimate areas where social consensus must be reached (defense, maybe courts, and a few other things) but since reaching that consensus is typically very expensive and ugly, those areas should be squeezed down to an absolute minimum. And if you make a mess, you’re responsible for cleaning it up.

More important, though, is the fact that libertarianism is not as rigid or programmatic as The Nolan Chart or your garden-variety Ayn Rand fan would have you believe. I like to think of it as an adjective rather than a noun. In any given situation, is your default position that people ought to have more freedom rather than less? If so, you just might be a libertarian (especially if you don’t find Rush—the band, not the bloviator—totally awful). Do you believe in decentralized, John Stuart Mill-like “experiments in living“ rather than top-down, command-and-control lifestyles (whether right-wing or left), then you might be a libertarian. Are you incredibly good-looking, witty and learned, the sort of man that women want and men want to be like (and vice versa)? Libertarian.

The only reason we have a rather clunky word like "libertarian" is that the anti-liberty forces (the "progressives") appropriated the term "liberal" in the late 1800's and early 1900's to mean "socialist." They do that a lot--take terms that people think mean one thing, and twist them to make them mean something else entirely.

Watch them. Watch how they talk. Watch what they actually mean when they say things like "fairness" and "freedom." They don't mean the same things that fairness and freedom mean to you.

To them, "fairness" means that people who go out and work hard and earn wealth by their sweat and wit should give some or all of that wealth to anyone who can imagine a grievance--now or any time in the past--against the person who has earned the wealth. It is not "fair" for people who work hard to have more than people who don't work hard. "Fair" means that everybody should have the same amount of stuff. Except, of course, for that elite who decides what level of stuff is "fair" for everyone else to have. That's "fairness."

And "freedom" means not freedom of action--which is what most people think when they hear the word. No--in the mind of a "progressive," freedom is a state of mind--it is a kind of nirvana--where a person's every need and whim is met. Of course, reasonable and rational people know that it is impossible to meet any one person's every need and whim, let alone the collective needs and whims of an entire nation. But "progressives," for all their bluster, blather, obfuscation, and rhetoric, are not reasonable, rational people.

This is something else which is critical to understand about "progressives." When you are discussing things with a doctrinare "progressive," you are not talking to someone who is capable of understanding rational argument. They are totally consumed by their emotional side--their feelings--and because of that, they are impervious to any argument, because they simply know that they are right and that you are wrong--an unfeeling, heartless bastard--for not instantly and completely agreeing with them.

And this is the key to understanding why "progressive" policies fail. It is because they are emotionally-driven, knee-jerk reactions to all of the various unfortunate situations which occur in this imperfect world. "Progressive" policies are never well thought-out, and the unintended consequences of those policies--such as the inevitable bankrupting of the country because of the expansion of Social Security and Medicare--never occur to "progressives" because they are totally focused on "helping people right now."

Don't get me wrong: most "progressives" are not really bad people. They are useful--perhaps even necessary--to a society as a control, a check, a conscience. But they should never, ever, ever be allowed to run things. They simply don't have the necessary intellectual tools to actually design and implement effective and truly humanitarian policies. When they are put in power, you get things like depressions, New Deals, Vietnam Wars, and Obama. Progressivism kills, but it kills in a way that it's easy for "progressives" to point the finger elsewhere and walk away whistling happy tunes.

Progressives aren't (usually) evil. They just can't ever be trusted with political power.

(If we ever get to the point where I need a similar rant against "conservatives," I'm sure I could whip one up. But conservatism hasn't been a major problem of Western civilization since . . . well . . . maybe the Spanish Inquisition? Or the European-African slave trade, maybe? Although the human slavery question tended to work itself out over the 17th and 18th Centuries in most of Western civilization without a lot of opposition, with the notable exception of the American Civil War, where it took a very bloody, messy, nasty war to finally decide the issue in the American South. But that's still 150 years ago now. Since then, conservatism has really not been an issue. And no, fascism is NOT a political philosophy with its origin in conservative/Christian thought. It's a mutant offspring of 18th Century Marxism/German social democracy/progressivism. That's just the historical fact of the matter. Go look it up.)

Thus endeth today's lesson.