Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Discouraging Word

Home, home on the range,
Where the deer and the antelope play,
Where never is heard a discouraging word,
And the skies are not cloudy all day

Now that the standoff between Nevada rancher and the Bureau of Land Management has temporarily ended, a few ruminations from the range, or, some discouraging words.

As this story has spread across the internet and television, commentators have interjected or latched on to all sorts of aspects of the controversy--some important, other not so much.

~the national domain or public lands-- and who should own them

~states' rights

~rights of assembly and petition

~fair use of public lands

~the desert tortoise

~wild horses


~Chinese solar power companies

~Harry Reid and his morally obscene utterances

~and most discouraging--armed federal agents facing off against armed citizens

The bottom line is that Clive Bundy is a bit of a freeloader. He believes, perhaps justly, that the Bureau of Land Management imposed too many regulations on ranchers regarding grazing and watering rights and that the the BLM fails to use the fees paid by ranchers to enhance the quality of public lands. He is free to petition the government for a redress of his grievances. Since 1993, however, he has refused to pay the grazing fees that other ranchers pay. This gives him an unfair advantage in whatever competition exists among ranchers in the pricing and marketing of their cattle. Bundy had his say in courts of law and lost.

In addition, he has made some disturbing statements.  He asserted that "I abide by all  state laws. But I abide by almost zero federal laws." What kind of "patriot" is that?

Is that some sort of "authentic frontier gibberish?"

More to the issue, federal laws are the ones that pertain to the national domain. The United States acquired most of its territory through treaties, usually involving purchases or settlements after wars. Consequently, these lands belong to the United States as a whole before any settlement by Americans and applications for statehood.

Some pundits have argued that these lands should belong to the states. That may well be. Perhaps the government should sell off some of the lands and apply the proceeds to the national debt. A second benefit would be the reduction in costs for management of such lands.

Regardless of whether the land should be long to the United States or to Nevada, it does not belong exclusively to Clive Bundy.

Even the Nevada Cattlemen's Association is lukewarm in its support of Bundy. Read its statement here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Of Berettas and Bracelets

During questioning and testimony on Department of Justice budget allocations, Attorney General Eric Holder revealed the his department is exploring the development of gun safety bracelets. Such bracelets would allow a firearm to be discharged only by its lawful owner.

As usual, the government seeks to reduce the unlawful actions of criminals by narrowing the exercise of lawful actions by the average citizen.

Most law-abiding gun owners--females anyway--might enjoy bracelets such as this:

For those criminals unlawfully using firearms, there is a more appropriate bracelet already widely in use:

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Mobs Besiege Mozilla

Mozilla CEO Brendon Eich was forced to resign after only ten days on the job owing to pressure from homosexual rights advocates. A "virtual mob" assembled to destroy the Frankenstein of Firefox.

Eich created Javascript, co-founded Mozilla, and,--until his promotion--served as its chief technology officer

Back in 2008, Eich donated $1000 to the campaign on behalf of Proposition 8, an amending of California's state constitution restoring heterosexual relationships as the only ones legally recognized as marriage. A state court had earlier thrown out part of the California code on marriage and family law defining marriage solely between a man and a woman. Proposition 8 restored that definition until a federal court ruled against it. The revelation that Ein donated money came out in 2012. Nobody really cared. Once he received his promotion, however, a mob began to assemble.

The first members of the mob to gather consisted of husband and husband team of Hampton Catlin and Michael Linhorn Catlin, who founded the technology company rarebit.

Hamlin Catlin

                                                                        Michael Catlin

When they learned of Ein's promotion, they disassociated rarebit from the Mozilla. They communicated to Mozilla their intention to no longer develop applications for Mozilla software. CEO Hamlin Catlin explains it all here. As he writes, it is "very, very personal."

And that's the problem. It should not be personal; it should be business.

The decision of at rarebit was followed by the call for a  boycott of Mozilla by OKCupid, a dating site.

Apparently Mozilla began receiving criticisms and additional boycott threats within the "tech community."

It was time for Eich to go.

Mozilla chairwoman Mitchell Baker posted a somewhat incoherent piece explaining the decision here.

She asserts that Mozilla supports "both equality and free speech." She did not explicitly say so, but it appears that when they conflict, free speech must go.

She also made the by now transparently false claim that Mozilla culture supports "diversity and inclusiveness."

She never really explained how Eich's presence violated those values, only that Mozilla "failed to be guided by our community." In other words, Mozilla allowed homosexual rights advocates to enforce their "very, very  personal" views on Mozilla.

                                                                      Mitchell Baker

This seems to be the most recent but probably not the last fallout from the battle over Proposition 8. One of the sideshows of that battle was the effort of homosexual rights advocates to secure the names of those who donated to groups supporting Proposition 8. At that time, California campaign disclosure laws preserved the privacy of political donations. A judge overturned this law as well, and so the names of donors such as Brendan Eich became public.

Now we see the reason behind that lawsuit.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sages About Wages

This week's White House "Weekly Address" continues to drive home the theme of economic inequality.

Vice-President Joe Biden gave the the address, entitled "Raise the Minimum Wage: Its the Right Thing To Do For Hardworking Americans." The address appears to be in support of the pending  Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2014, which would raise the minimum wage in several increments to $10.10 an hour.

Well, should we? I do not know. My gut reaction is "Sure, why not." The minimum wage certainly has not kept up with inflation. Our government's inflationary fiscal policies have certainly eroded the impact of a minimum wage. Maybe we need more government intervention to ameliorate the impact of early government intervention !?!  Of course, the minimum wage has been supplemented by expansion of food stamps, school lunch programs, etc.

Should we raise it to $10.10? Not so sure. It seems a little high for unskilled workers.

At any rate, here is Joe Biden with his pitch:

As is the case in many claims by politicians left and right, the call for increasing the minimum wage is more important politically than economically.

That is why the Vice-President's message is filled with as much sloganeering as economic data.

Biden notes the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour and makes the obvious observation that "there is no reason why an American working forty hours a week has to live in poverty." Moreover, he continues, "and you all know [duh] that's incredibly hard for an individual to live on, let alone raise a family on." 

A cursory look at a report on the minimum wage by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals the emptiness of Biden's rhetoric.

Hardly anyone is attempting to raise a family on a forty hour a week job at minimum wage.

--Only 2% of minimum wage workers are full time.

--Only 2% of minimum wage workers are married.

--Only 3% of minimum wage workers are over twenty five years of age.

Minimum wage jobs are largely for young, unskilled people working part time; there is a difference between a job and a career.

And, of course, American notions of what constitutes poverty are almost meaningless both historically and globally. The average American is richer than 98% of people who have ever lived on the face of the earth. Biden inadvertently acknowledges this fact when he says that one of the benefits of a minimum wage increase  is that it will contribute to the economy by allowing the less affluent to "put gas in their automobile."

Biden contributes to the "war on women" narrative by claiming that "the low minimum wage is one reason why women in America make only 77 cents on a dollar that a man makes." 

Because the statistical category "Women" is so large, it is nearly impossible to derive any meaningful conclusions by its use. There are never married women, married women, divorced women, women with children, women without children, women without even a high school education, and women with advanced degrees. And, most importantly, there are women who work part time and women who work full time.  They differ in the world of economic analysis. They can be grouped together only in the world of political rhetoric. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6% of women earned wages at or below minimum wage compared to 4% of men. Yawn.

Biden credits companies like Costco and the Gap for paying above minimum wage. In fact, most companies do so. The majority of workers earning at or below minimum wage are engaged in food service industries, where tips constitute a significant portion of overall income.

Biden credits state governors for increasing the minimum wage at the state level. In fact, according to the Department of Labor, nearly half the states have minimum wage requirements higher than the federal government. So the impact of raising the federal minimum wage might depend upon what the states have implemented already.

Finally, Biden claims that three out of four Americans support raising the minimum wage. That might be so. It depends on how the question is phrased. All Americans favor anything beneficial to themselves or others when they do not have to consider the trade offs.

Investor Peter Schiff went "incognito" to explore the willingness of Americans to support higher wages when confronted WITH the trade offs. The trade off for higher wages is, as one might expect, higher prices.  He posted the clip below a few months back when several unions came our for a $15 an hour minimum wage.  Of course, we have no idea about Schiff's selectivity in which interviews he decided to include in his edit. For what its worth:

When all is said and done, I guess the strongest reason for increasing the minimum wage is that it will have a negligible impact on almost everyone--including those people it is designed to benefit.

The only real gains will be realized by the politicians who vote for it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

From Health Care Benefits to Health Care Rights

Today the Supreme Court took up the case of Hobby Lobby and its effort to secure exemption from the PPACA based upon their religious beliefs.

Steve Green, president of the 640 store Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores, claims that the requirement that the company provide birth control provisions in the health insurance benefits violates their religious freedom under the Freedom of Religion Restoration Act of 1993.

It is not obvious why a religious conviction carries more weight than any other objection to the PPACA. Religious freedom is one of many natural rights we possess that are codified in the Bill of Rights. Religious freedom does not stand out any more importantly than, say, the right to free speech, to free assembly, and to own firearms. ( There are probably web pages out there with quotes by our founders to the contrary.) One ought to be able to claim exemption from the PPACA for any reason--or no reason at all.

That said, the government and its progressive Social Democrat supporters in the media continue their clumsy compulsion of Americans.

The government basically is arguing that health insurance benefits are now health insurance rights. According to this presupposition, Hobby Lobby should not be allowed to deny the rights of their female employees.

Apparently only the government can deny so-called health care rights. The HHS has excluded some 190 million Americans some kind of exemption from the requirements of the PPACA.

And is any of this a denial of "rights" at all? Exclusions from PPACA simply mean that women--and everyone else--enjoy the same rights that they always exercised before Nancy Pelosi persuaded her fellow Social Democrats to pass the PPACA in order to find out what is in it.

Seeking even 15 more minutes of fame, the parasitic Sandra Fluke weighed in with an article in the Washington Post. Calling the case a catastrophe for women's rights,  she  distinguished between non-profit organizations and for-profit corporations. Not sure what is the difference, other than one operates for profit.

Opponents of Hobby Lobby have gathered outside the Supreme Court building to chant and rap about "no bosses in the bedroom." The irony is that contraception paid for by one's bosses actually puts the boss in the bedroom, at least in the incoherent context suggested by the chanters. The Boss in under the sheet with every associate, guarding against unwanted pregnancies--for his good and yours:  "Yes Ms. Employee, I want to provide for your contraception so that you and your lover can intermingle your bodily secretions without fear of an unwanted pregnancy that might mean lost work time owing to morning sickness and maternity leave."

When the boss does not provide for the contraception for employees, that is when his presence is felt the least.

Hobby Lobby president Steve Green and his mother and co-founder of the company

Monday, March 24, 2014

Fred is Dead . . . and a Democrat

A few days back, Fred Phelps, founder of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, died.

The church apparently consists primarily of family members. Over the years his church's mission seems to have narrowed to making "prophetic" denunciations of homosexuality.

Several reflections about his passing have appeared on various news websites.

A couple of my own on issues that few others have mentioned:

Homosexuals and their supporters often slander anyone who disagrees with them on any issue relating to homosexuality as "haters." In this case, however, they have actually found one. I cannot say that I have ever read a quote by Phelps specifically saying that he hates homosexuals. I believe, however, that he--as a professing Christian--loves what God loves and hates what God hates. He makes it clear that God hates homosexuals. So he hates them,too.

And unfortunately for those notoriously ignorant progressive Christians, Fred appears to be right.

I am neither a Christian nor a progressive. So I cannot claim to be an expert on either point. It does seem to be philosophically incoherent to be both a Christian and a progressive--at least on this issue.

Here is a clip and paste from one of the Westboro Baptist Church websites explaining the meaning of their mantra "God Hates Fags:"

"GOD HATES FAGS" -- though elliptical -- is a profound theological statement, which the world needs to hear more than it needs oxygen, water and bread. The three words, fully expounded, show:
1. the absolute sovereignty of "GOD" in all matters whatsoever (e.g., Jeremiah 32:17, Isaiah 45:7, Amos 3:6, Proverbs 16:4, Matthew 19:26, Romans 9:11-24, Romans 11:33-36, etc.),
2. the doctrine of reprobation or God's "HATE" involving eternal retribution or the everlasting punishment of most of mankind in Hell forever (e.g., Leviticus 20:13,23, Psalm 5:5, Psalm 11:5, Malachi 1:1-3, Romans 9:11-13, Matthew 7:13,23, John 12:39-40, 1 Peter 2:8, Jude 4, Revelation 13:8, 20:15, 21:27, etc.), and
3. the certainty that all impenitent sodomites (under the elegant metaphor of "FAGS" as the contraction of faggots, fueling the fires of God's wrath) will inevitably go to Hell (e.g., Romans 1:18-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Timothy 1:8-11, Jude 7, etc.).
The only lawful sexual connection is the marriage bed. All other sex activity is whoremongery and adultery, which will damn the soul forever in Hell. Heb. 13:4. Decadent, depraved, degenerate and debauched America, having bought the lie that It's OK to be gay, has thereby changed the truth of God into a lie, and now worships and serves the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen! Rom. 1:25. But the Word of God abides. Better to be a eunuch if the will of God be so, and make sure of Heaven. Mat. 19:12. Better to be blind or lame, than to be cast into Hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched. Mk. 9:43-48. Abstain, you fools.

Other things that God hates can be found at an unrelated website here .  

What is not widely known about Phelps and not mentioned in recently published acknowledgments of his death is that he was a long time Democrat who ran for office in Kansas several times as a Democrat. Moreover, he supported Al Gore in his campaign for President. This is before Al Gore and other Democrats found it more expedient to bring their religious beliefs more into conformity with political opportunities.

Some photos cleaned from Log Cabin Republicans here.

Fred (left) and Al (center)

Fred Phelps, Tipper Gore, Betty Phelps, and Al Gore


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Core Value: Fiscal Responsibilty

The third and final Tea Party Movement core value is Fiscal Responsibility.

When the federal government ignores the bounds of the few enumerated powers listed in the Constitution and acts with the self appointed authority of legislate on any and all matters, it should be no surprise that it will ignore the bounds of common sense on spending.

Generated by the desire of power rather than adherence to principles, the Presidents, Congressmen, and Senators of both parties seem hell bend on legislating and spending whatever it takes to insure support in the next election. Instead of  leadership from statesmen, we seem to be serviced by political prostitutes who promiscuously offer their favors a diverse clientele of special interests.

These politicians spend and borrow with the confident hope that we will somehow find a way to pay the huge financial debts we are incurring.

Well, as someone once said, hope is not a strategy.

The inability of the the government under the original Articles of Confederation to pay the national debt, both to its domestic creditors and to foreign governments, was one reason why the movement began to create a new government.

In Federalist 7, Alexander Hamilton noted that many states "feel and indifference, if not a repugnance, to the payment of the domestic debt." In Federalist 43, James Madison called the payment to foreign creditors a "moral obligation."

Our current crop of alleged leaders have only one plan to pay off the debt--pay it forward.