States Visited

Saturday, January 31, 2009

High Hopes, High Expectations, Little Time

I have spent pretty much every free minute of the last six months reading a small mountain of books, papers, pamphlets, monographs and encyclopedia entries on such topics as American history, political history, philosophy, and economics, to name a few. I've even spent my daily commute and my time on the treadmill listening to podcasts of speeches and lectures on these topics. I have always loved history so I enjoy the process, but there has been a method to this madness. I've been accumulating and organizing this knowledge with the idea that perhaps I could put together a series of essays, possibly a small book, that would present this small library of information in a manner that is less threatening and easier to grasp than it is in it's original form.

As a nation, we are ignorant but not dumb. We are a television society - we like our information in short, easy-to-grasp bursts. We don't want to have to dig and analyze and spend hours in study. The story of Romeo and Juliet, for example, is not terribly complicated - elementary school children can understand the concepts - but it is altogether different if we attempt to read it as it was written. It was my goal to help bring the thoughts and ideas of the Founding Fathers, the men who inspired them, and their ideological forebears to the masses. A bold initiative to be sure, and perhaps a little naive.

I firmly believe this is a project that needs to be done and done quickly. Our country is fast approaching what I believe is going to be a pivotal moment in our history. We are on the verge of completely abandoning the very principles upon which this nation was founded - principles so great and so radical that they were beyond what we were able to achieve in our founding. In fact, history may show that we have already passed the point of no return. As much as the people of this country need this information, I have come to the conclusion that I do not have the time it would require to do it and do it well. It is still a dream of mine and one I may work on for years to come, but we need it NOW. So, what to do? It is time for every citizen of this country to turn off the television, to begin asking themselves some very important questions, and to begin the process of educating themselves.

The one single question that everyone must ask and answer is: Who owns me?

Do you own yourself? Does society own you or part of you? If society owns part of you, do you own part of everyone else? If you own yourself, do you have a right to any ownership of anyone else? Regardless of your answer to those questions, the answers carry implications that, I am willing to wager, go so far beyond what is expected that it will take some serious analysis to come to terms with their meaning.

Why is that particular line of questions so important?

Every form of government that has, does, or will ever exists has one thing in common - it makes assumptions about human nature. Specifically, it makes assumptions about each individual's ownership of himself. On one end of the political spectrum is the society (Society A) in which every individual is equally owned by every other individual - pure equality. On the opposite end is a society (Society B) in which every individual fully owns himself and has absolutely no claim on any other individual - pure equality. So, if both ends of the spectrum produce pure equality, why all the bother about whether one owns himself? Because the definition of equality changes as you move from one end of the spectrum to the other.

(Note: The analysis below is a highly simplified, scaled-down version that makes many assumptions and leaves out many important details. It is not meant to cover all aspects of the two ends of the spectrum, only to provide food for thought and hopefully encourage more questions.)

In Society A, every person has an equal claim on everyone else, thus, your labor and the results of your labor do not belong to you, it belongs to "everyone" and may be taken by "everyone" without giving anything in return. At the same time, you have an equal claim on the labor and results of labor of everyone else and may claim your equal share without giving anything in return. There is no private property in this society and there are no political leaders. Everyone is perfectly equal.

In Society B, every person has a claim only upon himself and the results of his own labor and no claim upon the body or labor of anyone else. If someone wants your labor or the results of your labor he must offer you something that will entice you to give it. If you should decide you want the labor or the results of labor of someone else, you must offer him something that will entice him to give it. There is no community property in this society, everything is privately owned. There are no political leaders because every need is privately negotiated between owner and buyer. It provides only an equality of opportunity.

Between these two theoretical societies, which have never existed at a level approaching that which we would call a 'country,' fall every form of government with which we have experience - monarchy, oligarcy, democracy, republics, Communism, Nazism, Fascism, emperors, despots, etc. Society A is the dream of Communism - a workers paradise where no one is exploited and all are equal. Society B is the dream of the Anarchro-Capitalists - an individuals paradise where everyone is free to pursue their own agenda with no interference from a government or society.

The Founding Fathers constructed a government that, while certainly not Anarchro-Capitalism, was much closer to B than A. However, almost immediately after the country was born we began a slow march towards A. The actions of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War were a big jump towards A and, beginning in the first two decades of the twentieth century, what was a walk became a run. Under the direction of Bush, the run became a sprint, and now, under Obama, we have given up on self-propulsion and are now heading towards Society A at light-speed in the Millenium Falcon.

This is scary because, while no major geographic area, a nation if you will, has ever fully attempted to become Society B, there have, thanks to the works of Karl Marx, Frederick Engles, Vladimir Lenin, and others, been multiple attempts to become Society A - with disasterous consequences. Reasonable estimates place the number of deaths as a result of Communism at between 75 and 100 million people. It has failed so often and in such spectacular fashion it simply amazes me that so many are still drawn to it, particularly those considered "intellectuals."

I can hear the objections being mounted, that we are really becoming more Socialist (like our European bretheren) and not Communist. For the sake of brevity I am not going to provide a complete explanation. I will, however, offer this brief analysis:

The true Communist utopia cannot exist for very long because it is impractical and illogical. If everyone is completely equal, then everyone must be involved in every decision. Clearly, this is not a workable position for any group larger than a few people. Therefore, a group of decision-makers must be chosen. As soon as those decision-makers are chosen pure equality is gone as there now exists a group with authority over the others. Lenin believed he found a solution to this problem, but he was, quite obviously, wrong. Those with power always want to retain it. Always. Communism is, therefore, at best, always going to be a government of decision makers - the party - controlling the masses.

Socialism, on the other hand, usually begins its life as a form of democracy. However, as soon as it reaches a critical mass - the point in which a majority of the voting public is no longer responsible for the funding of the government - it quickly begins to devolve into a class of politicians pandering to the voting public. Minority rights still exist, but only for those which support the ruling political class. Individual rights begin to be non-existent. In the end it becomes a weak, perverted form of Communism. In fact, Lenin believed that democracy was simply the first step along the path to Communism.

The root problem with Socialism, Communism, and any attempt to become Society A is the question "Who owns me?" In a society in which a person does not own himself and the product of his labor he has no incentive to produce. We intuitively understand this, even as small children without the first political thought. A five-year-old that spends an hour constructing a sand castle will be brought to tears if his older brother destroys it in seconds. If the same process is repeated over and over again, eventually the five-year-old will stop building sand castles. Yet, the Socialists and Communists insist that those who produce continue to do so even when they are not allowed to enjoy the product of their labor. It is simply your duty to society to produce whether you want to do so or not. There will certainly be some who chose to do their work simply for the love of the job but, it should go without saying, that they will be the exception rather than the rule and people would, on the whole, be far more productive if allowed to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

There is so much more that needs to be explained. As I have made mention in previous blog posts, this is just the tiny tip of the iceberg. Even an attempt to put together a list of recommended reading is extremely difficult because there was no single source of inspiration for the Founding Fathers and an enormous amount of work has been done since then.

So, with a large grain of salt, here is my recommended reading list. I would highly recommend reading them in the order as shown. For most people, this is swimming in unfamiliar waters so I have tried to arrange the books so that they build upon each other to some degree.

*Conceived in Liberty by Murray N. Rothbard - This is the longest (and most expensive) read on the list but the simple, direct and entertaining writing makes it fly by. It is actually a collection of four volumes that outline the entire early history of this country, from early British colonies through the Revolutionary War.

*The Constitution of the United States and The Bill of Rights - The shortest read on the list. The foundation of our form of government can be read thoroughly and in its entirety in less than an hour.

*The Federalist Papers and The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Debates (Signet Classics) - This may be the most difficult material on the list simply because the style of writing is so different compared to modern styles but containst the arguments that were presented to the people when the debates about formally adopting the Constitution were at their peak.

*Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt - One must have at least a rudimentary understanding of economics and this is a fantastic way to get it.

*The Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek - A masterpiece explaining the dangers of state control over the means of production.

*Socialism by Ludwig von Mises - A devastating critique of Socialism

*America's Great Depression by Murray N. Rothbard - What really caused the Great Depression and why it lasted as long as it did.

*What Has Government Done to Our Money? by Murray N. Rothbard - The title says it all. If the previous book didn't do it, this is a short read that will make you see your government in a whole new light.

*The Ethics of Liberty and For a New Liberty by Murray N. Rothbard - Two books that really belong together and lay the foundation for an entirely new form of government.

*1984 and Animal Farm by George Orwell - Two short works of fiction that were once required reading for every high school student in America. Once you read them you'll understand why an all-powerful government wouldn't want you to read them.

Finally, if you have read all of the above and are looking for a challenge:

*Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand - A massive work of philosophical fiction.

*Human Action by Ludwig von Mises - Mises' Magnum Opus on free market economics.

*Man, Economy and State by Murray N. Rothbard - Rothbard was a student of Mises and took the ideas presented by Mises in Human Action and elaborated, expanded and applied them to all sorts of situations.

Iceberg - getting bigger...

On my way in to work this morning - working Saturdays does suck, but at least I have a job - I was listening to a podcast where a report by the Congressional panel responsible for oversight of the bailout citing the lack of government regulation and increasing de-regulation as the source of our current depression was being discussed. My first thought was why should anyone listen to a panel so inept and incompetent that it has failed in its only purpose - to know where the bailout money has gone?

My second thought was that they found the answer, although they don't know it. The panel is correct - the vast majority of the responsibility for this mess lies squarely with the government. We can argue about the merits and demerits of particular regulations, we can discuss the greed and avarice of people from Wall Street to Main Street that fueled the repeated bubbles, we can discuss the roll of the plain stupidity of the American consumer and our debt driven effort to keep up with the Jones'. We can debate these things and dozens of others ad nauseam, and we will never find the solution. We are trying to cure the plague by the letting of blood.

This is a first run through this analogy so I may have missed something, but I wanted to throw it out anyway.

The Learning Channel (possibly Discovery Health?) recently aired a show about a man so fat that he was unable to get out of bed - yet he consumed around 30,000 calories a day. There is something pitiful about seeing a man eat himself to death. I feel for him and he clearly needs help. But, there is something absolutely horrific about watching the people that are supposed to love and care about him help him do it. Enablers. This man cannot consistently eat 30,000 calories a day without significant amounts of help - one man cannot consistently eat 15 times a normal diet without lots of financial and physical assistance. This is a pretty good analogy to what the U.S. has become, only instead of consuming calories we consume ever increasing amounts of debt and dollars.

Just as the man eating 30,000 calories a day bears responsibility for his own eating habits, each American is to blame for our own greed, ignorance and bad decisions. However, we cannot, in a free society, legislate ourselves out of greed and into good economic thinking any more than we can legislate ourselves into healthy eating habits.

Overeating and obesity, at varying degrees, are almost inevitable in a free society. However, it requires help to become grotesquely obese. One cannot weigh 1,000 pounds and eat 30,000 calories a day without other people or organizations helping make it happen. Greed and avarice, at varying degrees, are also inevitable in a free society. Similarly, this country cannot have gotten in our current condition - financially, grotesquely obese - without significant 'help.' We can be greedy, we can make bad investment decisions, we can be economically ignorant, but you cannot fail on the scale in which we have failed without LOTS of 'help.' We cannot consume the financial equivalent of 30,000 calories a day without our government to be there as an enabler, bringing us plate after plate after plate of money and debt. Nature will prevent a man from weighing 1,000 pounds and consuming 30,000 calories a day without help - he will quickly become immobile and unable to gather that much food for himself long before he reaches those levels. A true free market, with a sound currency, will not provide the levels of debt and money required to gorge the way we have, we will have market corrections and bankruptcies that prevent it long before we reach these levels. It only becomes possible when a government interferes and enables it to happen.

For far too long we have listened to politicians that proclaim their love of the country and their love of the people even as they delivered plate after plate after plate of debt and money, all while actively encouraging us to eat and eat and eat. For all of the change Obama promised, all he has brought is more of the same. The government is doing everything it can to encourage people to eat: monkeying around with bank reserve requirements, trying to force banks to lend, artificially lowering interest rates, pumping the money supply to astronomical levels, etc. Even now, as the people are stuffed to the gills and no longer hungry, the government insists that we eat. If we will not take it voluntarily, then they will force-feed us with "stimulus." The government is, in effect, trying to help the 1,000 pound man lose weight by increasing his calorie intake from 30,000 to 50,000 per day.

I am not excusing the greedy bastards on Wall Street, particularly Goldman Sachs, for the things they have done, but I am starting to think they figured out, long before anyone else, just how inept and incompetent Washington really is and set out to make as much money as fast as possible before the entire system collapsed.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Iceberg - one little piece at a time...

Here is a pretty good, short FAQ about some of the economics of our current 'situation.' Yeah, there's a lot of economic terms in there, but some good info as well.

Some more food for thought on inflation:

"The best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency."

"The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation."
- Vladimir Lenin

And, while we are in an economics frame of mind, you really should start learning a little bit about the one man that can probably shoulder more of the blame for our entire current mess than any other.

His name is John Maynard Keynes. He died in 1946.

Here is a little quip from the wikipedia article about him.

"In late 1965 Time magazine ran a cover article with the title inspired by Milton Friedman's statement, later associated with Nixon, that "We Are All Keynesians Now". The article described the exceptionally favourable economic conditions then prevailing, and reported that "Washington's economic managers scaled these heights by their adherence to Keynes's central theme: the modern capitalist economy does not automatically work at top efficiency, but can be raised to that level by the intervention and influence of the government." "
(emphasis mine)

Does that sound familiar? It should, its almost exactly the same message coming out of Washington these days. Government is all about power and control. What government isn't going to love an economic theory that puts it in the driver's seat for almost every aspect of the lives of its citizens?

I find it interesting that the man who's economic theories are the foundation of the deficit spending monstrosity in Washington actually recoginized and wrote about the dangers.

"Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the Capitalist System was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some."

"Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A little bit more of the iceberg...

This is the easiest blog post ever. It's already been written. Read it. I triple-dog dare you.

Oh, and just in case you really do some digging, it is my understanding that the bulk of the "stimulus" comes in 2010 - just in time for elections.

What's worse than rape? Whatever it is, its what Washington is doing to those of us that pay taxes.

Today's Wall Street Journal

I took a peek at the WSJ while waiting on my lunch order and spotted two items in less than 60 seconds that gave me pause.

The first was that ANOTHER former Goldman Sachs executive has been placed in a position of power with the federal government. This time with the Federal Reserve. Anyone care to place a wager that Goldman Sachs received a nice chunk of that $1.2 trillion I mentioned previously?

The second was a story about State Farm pulling all homeowners policies in Florida over the next two years. Currently, State Farm is second in the market with more than 700,000 homeowner policies. Florida, like most states, regulates what insurers can charge - price controls. The regulators in Florida rejected State Farm's proposal to raise rates by 47%, so State Farm said, "Goodbye!"

The article lays out the consequences nicely:

"Policyholders may now be forced to find new coverage in a state where some other large national insurers have also been seeking to pare their risk, given the potential for large losses due to hurricanes. They also could end up paying higher rates with other companies."

"Many State Farm customers could wind up with the state-created insurer of last resort, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Citizens has grown in recent years to become the largest insurer of homes in Florida. An influx of former State Farm policyholders could increase the financial pressure on Citizens, which has been trying to shed policies."

"Another alternative is likely to be a group of smaller insurers, some of which are relatively new, issue policies only in Florida or haven't been tested by major hurricanes."
(emphasis mine)

The state regulators are making it more and more difficult for insurance companies to operate profitably in the state, so they are leaving. Duh! Who saw that coming? The state-created "Citizens Property Insurance Corp" was apparently already having trouble if it is trying to shed policies and now it gets hit with this. My guess is that more and more residents will be forced to turn to the state for coverage because they cannot afford the risk of unknown companies or the high premiums (probably higher than what State Farm would have charged) of known companies. The state will not charge rates that are high enough to cover the risk so a large portion of the risk will be transferred from the state-created insurance company directly to the state and, therefore, to the taxpayers*.

Incidentally, State Farm was second in the market. Want to guess who is first? That would be the state-created "company."

(sigh) Is there some sort of mental defect in politicians that prevent them from understanding economics? Good intentions will not trump the laws of supply and demand. Ever. When a government institutes price controls, there will be a lack of supply.

*Florida does not have an income tax. It receives, by far, most of its revenues from sales taxes. Sales taxes are regressive, meaning the poor pay a higher effective tax rate than the wealthy. Unless Florida enacts some form of new tax, the poor will be subsidizing the homeowners policies for the majority of policies in the state. Let me go out on a limb here and predict that Florida will begin talks to institute an income tax on the very high incomes, the top 1% or so. You know, following the same blue print that the federal government did when it shoved the income tax down our throats. I think we know how that worked out.

Hard to Imagine...

It is hard to grasp just how bad we, the taxpayers, have been screwed by our own government. I am going to give you just a very, very small taste - the very tip of the iceberg.

The Great Exalted Unquestionable Federal Reserve has "loaned" $1,200,000,000,000 since September 1, 2008. There are about 140,000,000 people in the United States that file federal income tax returns and, of those, approximately 50% have no income tax liability. That means that about 70,000,000 people carry the entire tax burden. (I know what you are thinking, that corporations, etc., pay taxes, too. They do write checks, but, in reality, it is just a scam by the government to take more money from individuals without them noticing as much but that is a topic for another day.) That works out to a little over $17,000 per taxpayer, in addition to what they already owe for the existing government spending.

Here's where this gets really rich: the Fed won't tell anyone where it went. Even Congress. Here is a clip from recent Capitol Hill testimony from Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn.

For just a minute it almost seems like we have a Congressional committee standing up for the people and trying to hold someone or some department accountable. Then reality sets in -

The Committee is headed by none other than Representative Barney Frank. Yes, the same Barney Frank that has served as chief dog-washer for Frannie Mae and Freddie Mac - the government 'backed' home lending monstrosities that have left the taxpayers on the hook for about $5 trillion in debt. The same Barney Frank that the Wall Street Journal called "'Fannie Mae's Patron Saint."

A Hollywood writer couldn't come up with this - we have the man who has spent more than a decade protecting and advocating Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac and being instrumental in laying $5 trillion dollars in debt on the American taxpayers heading the committee that is supposed to provide oversight on the Federal Reserve.

It seems we have a little intragovernment tiff - a power struggle over just who has the proper authority to put their boot on the throat of the American taxpayer.

Gotta show some love to the guy that brought the testimony to my attention:

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Different sides - same coin

One of the many epihanies I've had in recent years is the realization that the two political parties in Washington are really just two sides of the same coin. They spend ridiculous amounts of time trying to differentiate themselves on a given issue but, in the end, it comes down to the same thing - the government controls your life.

For example, the Republicans generally insist that any two people have the right to conduct business with each other without government interference but that the government should act to prevent those two people from getting married if they are of the same sex.

The Democrats insist that those two people have an absolute right to get married but the government should act to prevent those two people from engaging in certain business activities.

I realize I am greatly oversimplifiying the matter and ignoring all sorts of extraneous arguments for both sides, but the point is still valid - both sides want the government to control your lives, they are just arguing about which side to control. And so the pendulum swings. Obama is bringing us change - but only from one side of control to the other.

'We the people' get caught up in the battle for which side to control and completely forget that it is our lives they are attempting to control.

In the grand scheme of things - 'we' lose.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Very quickly -

I listened to a podcast last night in which Glenn Greenwald interviewed Dr. Nathan Burroughs about the alarming growth dynastic families controlling our government. The entire transcript can be found here,

Dr. Burroughs' research indicates that 22% of the Senate and 14% of the House consist of members who are from political families.

The podcast was actually a follow-up to a piece that Glenn did back in December about the growing aristocracy in our government and media,

I came to the conclusion not so long ago that our federal government is, ideologically, a single-party aristocracy. Apparently we are moving ever closer to have a ruling elite controlled by a handful of families.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised given the worship of fame and royalty in this country.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Perspective from across the pond...

For what its worth, apparently I'm not the only person in the whole world that thinks we are skirting catastrophe (although it does feel that way sometimes).

The title of this article - Barack Obama inauguration: this Emperor has no clothes, it will end in tears

Just a little teaser,

It is frightening to think there is a real possibility that the entire world economy could go into complete meltdown and famine kill millions... We should be long past applauding politicians of any hue: they got us into this mess. The best deserve a probationary opportunity to prove themselves, the worst should be in jail.

It is questionable whether the present political system can survive the coming crisis. Whatever the solution, teenage swooning sentimentality over a celebrity cult has no part in it. The most powerful nation on earth is confronting its worst economic crisis under the leadership of its most extremely liberal politician, who has virtually no experience of federal politics. That is not an opportunity but a catastrophe.

I do take some comfort in knowing that, in the end, I will probably be proven correct and lots of people will have to eat their words, however, it scares me to death because that just might be the only thing left to eat.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This is going to be hilarious...

I cannot wait to see how the various levels of government and the insane "war on drugs" tackle this one -

I read this morning where people have started to freebase caffeine. Yeah, you read that correctly. Extract the caffeine from coffee (or various energy pills) and smoke it like crack or meth. From what I can find it produces some sort of actual 'high' and is not just a super-strong caffeine buzz. Two ingredients: coffee & ammonia.

I would sincerely hope that anyone reading this would have the good sense not to try it, as I don't have any idea of 1) the 'high' it produces or 2) the (potentially deadly) side effects. Why anyone would think this a good idea is beyond me. The point is not that it should be done, but that it can be done. Are we looking at coffee and ammonia becoming controlled substances? Will there be a black market established for some really good!? How long before some politician decides he wants to make a name for himself by going after caffeine smokers and there is some government agency established? Is it going to become a crime to have coffee and ammonia in your home? This is absurd.

I am about as 'out of the loop' as you can get when it comes to recreation drug use, so maybe this has been around a while. But I don't think so. I did about five minutes of digging on it and there's just not much on the Internet right now. I did, however, come across other 'articles' discussing the extraction of all sorts of things that can be used in a similar fashion - most of which you can buy at every grocery and convenience store in the country.

My guess is the government will go after the ammonia (which they have apparently already done), but in about five seconds I found an article explaining how to make ammonia. I guess the two ingredients of ammonia will then become controlled substances: nitrogen, the most abundant element in our atmosphere and hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe. Yeah, that sounds about right.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Can someone call an interpreter?

Just a few hours ago, as he was about to board the train that will taken him from Philadelphia to Washington for his coronation, Obama had this to say:

"...while our problems may be new, what is required to overcome them is not. What is required is the same perseverance and idealism that our founders displayed. What is required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives - from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry - an appeal not to our easy instincts but to our better angels."

I have read the entire speech several times and read this particular line at least twenty times and I am not sure exactly what he wants.

Here are the few lines that contain the ideological foundation for our original Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That 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.

It is our natural instincts that lead us to the conclusion that all men are created equal because, by virtue of being human, we are all governed by Natural Law. Now Obama is calling for us to ignore our natural instincts and replace the Declaration with something new, something based on our "better angels." I can find no other meaning for those words that our love for our fellow man. This is the specter of Communism - self-sacrifice for the betterment of our brothers.

A man who seeks to emulate the Presidency of Lincoln - a man who butchered the Constitution - is now calling for an abandonment of the words of Jefferson.

What have we done?

A follow-up on Adolpf

The hearing that was supposed to occur Thursday has been postponed. I'm starting to smell a rat. I've read a couple of articles where Constitutional lawyers have been interviewed about the parental right to name a child and it seems that its never really been pushed.

My guess is that the state of New Jersey is trying their best to build a case either by digging through ever conceivable regulation looking for a violation that would allow them to take the children for a reason other than their names or by building a team of experts willing to take the stand and tell a judge that naming a child Adolf Hitler constitutes child abuse.

As further proof of the stupidity of the parents (which is not against the law, just worth pointing out) - was showing a picture of a swastika on the hand of the father. That in itself indicates a certain level of stupidity, but in this case the father has outdone himself. It is drawn incorrectly! The Nazi version has the cross bent to the right, his is to the left. Now that's rich. Moron.

Am I think only one?

Am I the only person a little unnerved at Obama thinking Lincoln was a model President, going out of his way to emulate him on his way to the White House?

Considering everything that Lincoln did before, during, and after the Civil war to wreck the Constitution and increase the power of the federal government, in particular his butchering of the Constitution, it makes me nervous. Especially considering all that Bush the Junior did to expand the office of the executive to near dictator.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Can anyone recommend a really good online bank that hasn't received any bailout money?

I've been with Bank of America since I moved to Baltimore, but now that the federal government has 'given' it $45 billion and is the largest shareholder, I'm out.

Although, I may be fighting a losing battle. It is looking more and more like everyone is going to get a bailout - except me.

This could be trouble!

A thought just occurred to me:

Since Florida won the National Championship won't they get a White House visit?
What happens when you have two messiahs at the same place at the same time?
Doesn't that violate some law of the universe?
Do you suppose Tebow and Obama will head over to the reflecting pool and take turns walking on water?
The media will probably implode on the spot!

Uh, this isn't helping...

Anyone that has spent any time around me or reading my blog will know how I feel about politicians. I can assure you that having 30+ minutes added to my commute each afternoon just so one can stop by the city for a visit on his way to his coronation doesn't help.

Gay Street closed through Sunday for Obama visit
By a Baltimore Sun reporter
11:44 AM EST, January 14, 2009
Gay Street from Fayette to Lexington streets will be closed today through Sunday because of President-elect Barack Obama's visit to Baltimore. Drivers can still access nearby garages today through Friday, and buses will be diverted, according to the city's Transportation Department. Details about Obama's visit have not been officially released, but local officials appear to be planning for a speech in War Memorial Plaza, in front of City Hall, on Saturday.

I wonder how many millions of gallons of gas have been wasted and how much carbon dioxide has been released by cars forced to sit in traffic because of traffic problems caused by the inauguration (and the trip to the inauguration) alone. Just call it one more example of politicians believing that the laws and rules the implement do not apply to them personally. I'm guessing that none of the global climate change nuts, such as the one proposing we trap cow farts, call out their messiah for it.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I wonder how much rail freight has been disrupted just so Obama can make his little train ride. Further, I wonder just how many lives have been disrupted?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Too funny...

January 14, 2009

Security State in DCPosted by Kathryn Muratore at January 14, 2009 07:45 AM

"Bush declared a state of emergency in Washington, DC. The large crowds that are expected at the innauguration (down to about 2 million from the earlier estimates of 5 million) have prompted Mayor Fenty to claim that he will not have enough money for security. He expects to spend about $75 million, also known as $32.50 per attendee."

"Welcome to the innauguration of the "leader of the free world." You may only enter the city through these designated roads and transit systems. You will only have access to the inauguration after passing through a security checkpoint, where you will be treated with suspicion. There will be thousands of armed men surrounding you at the ceremony and parade. But, hey, that's the price of freedom!"

BTW - I saw an article yesterday that says there will be 5,000 port-a-potties for the expected crowd of +2 million with 4,000-5,000 National Guard troops to help with "line control." And here are some helpful hints from the Inauguration website:

The US Secret Service, Metropolitan Police Department, US Capitol Police, and other local and federal agencies are providing an unprecedented level of security for the Inauguration.
All parade and event attendees are subject to a thorough security screening before entering any of the Inaugural event sites. Please allow for additional time for this security screening.
(Gee, ya think?)

And here are some of the items (I left off the obvious, such as guns) that are prohibited:

large bags
duffle bags
thermoses, thermal or glass containers
bags exceeding size restrictions (8”x6”x4”)

So, with temperatures in the upper twenties/low thirties, extremely long waits for security, and only 5,000 port-a-potties to service a couple million people for most of the day, you can only take what you can carry (assuming it isn't prohibited) and pray it doesn't rain. Sounds like a good time to me...

I don't know which is worse...

Apparently some incredibly stupid and ignorant people in New Jersey thought it would be a great idea to name their child Adolph Hitler Campbell to go along with his sisters JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell. Okay, that's pretty sad and pretty bad. Why would you do that to your children?

The children have now been taken from their parents by the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services. A spokesperson stated that, "DYFS would never remove a child simply based on that child's name," but would not give any additional information citing confidentiality laws.

A hearing is to be held today. My guess is that there will be some very technical 'violation' cited as the reason for taking the children with the real reason (their names) never mentioned. I could be wrong.

This puts me in the very awkward position of hoping the state didn't take the children because of their names (even if they are horrifically stupid) - but if it legitimately wasn't because of their names the taking implies that the children were receiving some sort of abuse. Well, I don't want that.

What a choice: a) A state department that is out of control and seizing children because they do not approve of the names or b) child abuse. As much as I have come to despise government, I gotta go with the kids on this one.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Worth a few minutes...

Go check out this Wall Street Journal opinion piece.

And if you've got the guts and determination to do it, go here and buy it. It currently has more than 1,500 reviews and an average rating of 4 stars.

This book will forever be in my own top five list. The book itself is very good but reading it led me to others which led me to others, the net effect of which was to completely change how I see the world.

Great analogy!

Either Way, It's a Mirage
by Jim Fedako at

"As they debate ways to improve the economy, Obama and Congress are acting like two lost souls staggering through the desert, arguing over the height of palm trees in a far off mirage. On one hand, it's an argument over whether $10 billion or $30 billion worth of energy tax breaks must be included in a stimulus package. On the other hand, it's an argument over whether the lush palm tree are 10 feet or 30 feet tall. In both cases, the stated ends are an illusion -- an improved economy through the printing press or shade and water under the swaying palms. For the latter, dehydration is the issue. For the former, it's delusion."

And one of the comments, from Tony Brown, was just as good:

"Reminds me of the story about a blind skunk who fell in love with a fart!"

Friday, January 9, 2009


Wednesday night, after a quick trip to the gym to burn some calories, Melissa and I watched Episode 9 of Band of Brothers. I don't think there is more than three or four gunshots in the entire episode, yet it is one of the most traumatic of the series. In it Easy Company stumbles onto the concentration camp near Landsberg. Intellectually I know that what I am seeing on the screen isn't real, but I also know that it represents something that was very real and very evil. How can so many Germans murder and torture their own countrymen, their neighbors? It is easy to imagine that the Nazi's and the German people were all inhuman, psychopathic monsters, but, except for a small handful, most were just ordinary people that collectively slaughtered millions of innocent men, women and children. Seeing the images on the screen I cannot help but wonder, "How can this happen? How do ordinary people become monsters and commit acts of evil almost beyond human comprehension?"

A long time ago I read something that gives a huge clue as to how this can happen, but I had forgotten about it - until this morning when, by chance, I stumbled onto it again.

About fifty years ago a psychologist named Stanley Milgram conducted an experiment that, literally, shocked the world.

"His experiment in its standard form included a fake shock machine, a 'teacher,' a 'learner' and an experimenter in a laboratory setting. The participant was told that he or she had to teach the student to memorize a pair of words, and the punishment for a wrong answer was a shock from the machine."

"The 'teacher' sat in front of the shock machine, which had 30 levers, each corresponding to an additional 15 volts. With each mistake the student made, the teacher had to pull the next lever to deliver a more painful punishment."

"While the machine didn't generate shocks and a recorded voice track simulated painful reactions, the 'teacher' was led to believe that he or she was shocking a student, who screamed and asked to leave at higher voltages, and eventually fell silent."

"If the 'teacher' questioned continuing as instructed, the experimenter simply said, 'The experiment requires that you go on.'

"About 65 percent of participants pulled levers corresponding to the maximum voltage -- 450 volts -- in spite of the screams of agony from the learner."

Subsequent experiments have yielded similar results - a large percentage of human beings will act against their own conscience when confronted with an order from a person they believe has legitimate authority.

If a controlled experiment involving partcipants with no prior history or preconceived notions about each other resulted in 65% pulling all the levers and shocking an innocent person into unconsciousness, one can only imagine the outcome if the 'teacher' was being cheered on by friends and neighbors, subjected to endless propaganda about the evil and dangers of the person he was shocking (peer pressure), and threatened with his own punishment (self-preservation) if he failed to deliver the shocks.

Here is tangible evidence as to why having an active military unit deployed inside the United States scares me so much.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I live a charmed life...

More or less.

It is only because I live a relatively comfortable life that I can afford to expend the energy it takes to care enough to bitch a lot.

Generally, I love my life. I am sharing my life with the most amazing, wonderful person I've ever met. I have a great family and I have great friends. I have a good job working with good people. I have travelled all over this country and seen some pretty amazing things. I do not write about those things often because I would rather spend my time enjoying those things than writing about them.

It is only because I feel they are being threatened that I have been moved to write. It is because I love it all so much and have plans for the future and do not want to lose it that I spend so much of my free time reading things that cause other people to run and hide. I have always had a love of history, but it is different now. Before, I could read it as I pleased, as much or as little as I wanted. Now I feel that I must read it and understand it. Don't misunderstand, I still love it, there is just more urgency.

I don't really know why I felt compelled to write about all of this tonight. I think perhaps I realized that my posts have become like the evening news - all bad news all the time. It is ironic because there is relatively so little direct bad news in my life - for now. If I were hungry or poor or ignorant I would not have the time, energy or ability to write the things I write. But I am all to aware of how fine a line we are walking right now - how very easily the comfortable life I live could devolve into something horrific that would require all of my energy for survival, leaving nothing for things like blogs.

I would enjoy it more if it wasn't so serious...

I have been watching with ironic amusement the various politicos in Washington spout their outrage at the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme that has cost investors billions.

It is an amazing spectacle watching the protectors of the biggest ponzi scheme in the history of earth - Social Security and Medicare - proclaim with righteous indignation that this sort of thing must be stopped!

Madoff appears to be responsible for about $50 billion in losses.

Social Security and Medicare are on the hook for better than $40 trillion.

Madoff is going to jail.

Politicians go on lobbyist funded junkets and get rich while "serving the people."

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Exhibit A -

If you want to know what happens when you have a government that 1) doesn't understand economics and 2) tries to print (money) its way out of financial probems (sort of what is happening in the U.S. right now) just take a look at Zimbabwe.

The full story can be found here -

What is believed to be the largest check ever written has been presented for payment in England. It is drawn on MBCA Bank in Zimbabwe. The check is for -

In case you are wondering that is 1 quadrillion, 72 trillion, 3 million dollars. Zimbabwe dollars, that is.

With British experts calculating an annual inflation rate in Zimbabwe of 12,500,000% they deemed it almost impossible to determine the exact value of the check, but estimated it at "no more than a few pounds." If we assume that "a few pounds" is 10 pounds, then it is worth about $15 US.

A few days ago the government began offering $10 billion dollar notes - which isn't enough to buy a loaf of bread.

As a further example of his economic ignorance, President Robert Mugabe, "accuses businesses of unfairly increasing prices as part of a wider plot to incite people against his government and today warned companies that authorities would impose emergency measures if they continued profiteering."

More Government Insanity...This is Absurd

I've gotta admit, I'm late on this one - not having children I paid little attention to the headlines.

I can't say it any better than the opening words of an L.A. Times story -

Barring a reprieve, regulations set to take effect next month could force thousands of clothing retailers and thrift stores to throw away trunkloads of children's clothing. The law, aimed at keeping lead-filled merchandise away from children, mandates that all products sold for those age 12 and younger -- including clothing -- be tested for lead and phthalates, which are chemicals used to make plastics more pliable. Those that haven't been tested will be considered hazardous, regardless of whether they actually contain lead.,0,2083247.story

This is the result of the The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008. I have a copy of the Act and have tried to read it and make sense of it. Its almost impossible. If you ever want a glimpse of just how horrifically disfunctional our government has become, click here - - and try reading it for yourself.

Disclaimer - this thing is so convoluted and hard to follow that I am forced to rely on the guidance of others as to what it actually says. It is entirely possible that I'm incorrect in my analysis. Wasn't the issuance of unintelligible laws that the people could not decipher one of the grievances against the king in the years leading up to the American Revolution?

From what I can gather, it appears that the Act will require pretty much everything for use on or by a child to be tested for lead and other harmful chemicals. This is where the tyranny of good intentions takes over. Obviously, people do not want to give or use harmful things on their children. How can you argue with that? The problem is that it appears that the law applies to ALL of these products, regardless of when they were manufactured. Thus, anyone selling second-hand or hand-made items for children must have the items tested for lead and other harmful chemicals or face severe federal penalties.

At a time when we are on the verge of a massive recession/depression (CAUSED by the government, I might add) and more and more people needing to save all the money they can, this Act is set to put an end to buying and selling used children's clothes at thrift shops, consignment shops, e-bay, flea markets, etc.

The really sad part is that this is not the result of a single politician pulling a 'fast-one' and slipping something into another bill. This Act started in the House as H.R. 4040 and had a smooth 106 co-sponsonsors and passed the House without a single 'nay' vote (it passed the Senate with 79 'ayes', 13 'nays', and 8 'not present'). That's right - 106 people wanted their names on this bill to show how much they care about the children. Nice job folks. And these are the people running all of the "bail-outs." Won't you sleep better tonight?

Why is it so difficult for so many Americans to see that Washington is the problem and not the solution?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Is it just me?

Am I the only one that is a little creeped out at having a TV show about Fatherland...I mean "Homeland" Security forces? Call me crazy but this is starting to seem like propaganda - don't mind all of those people in uniforms and riot gear carrying automatic weapons, they are hear for your protection. They are heroes.

This is a tough one because, for the most part, they are heroes of a sort. Regular military, National Guard, Coast Guard, Homeland Security, state troopers, the local police department, etc. They take a very tough, very dangerous job and do not get paid very well. They deserve our thanks, appreciation, and admiration for what it is they are trying to do. However, domestically, their primary job is to enforce the law. What happens if someone changes the law so that they are asked to do something in which they aren't comfortable? What if their refusing to enforce the law becomes a violation of the law? What do you do if you must chose between becoming a criminal and enforcing a law in which you do not believe?

We are currently in the midst of seeing an active division of the U.S. Army being deployed inside the United States, in direct violation of several laws. Subchapter X, Article 890.90 of the Uniform Code of Miliary Justice states the following:

Any person subject to this chapter who--
(1) strikes his superior commissioned officer or draws or lifts up any weapon or offers any violence against him while he is in the execution of his officer; or
(2) willfully disobeys a lawful command of his superior commissioned officer; shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct, and if the offense is committed at any other time, by such punishment, other than death, as a court-martial may direct.

It will be a crime, potentially punishable by death, for a soldier to disobey an order. I know it seems crazy, but this is precisely the kind of thing that can take us from this -

To this -

To this -

New Law:

Anyone in the media that adds "-gate" to the end of a particular story, crisis, or scandal (for example, spy-gate, jet-gate, nanny-gate, trooper-gate, etc.) shall be taken to the street and beaten with a rubber hose until unconscious and left for dead.

This really is ridiculous.