War is Good for the Economy

Apparently the United State’s economy isn’t doing any better. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is done, which is used by most economists as a measuring stick for a country’s economic performance. Of course I have a hard time believing such metrics are useful when I read things like this:

The economy contracted at an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the last three months of 2012, the worst quarter since the economy crawled out of the last recession, hampered by the lower military spending, fewer exports and smaller business stockpiles, preliminary government figures indicated on Wednesday. The Fed, in a separate appraisal, said economic activity “paused in recent months.”

Emphasis mine. Did you get that? The reason the economy is in a slump is because the United States government isn’t spending enough money bombing brown people overseas. If we only spent more on bombs, missiles, and other implements of war things wouldn’t be this bad. This is why GDP is asinine, it includes government and private spending. Any measure of a country’s economic performance that includes government spending should be dismissed outright as there is no way to know whether or not government spending is actually productive.

Gun Control Hearings at the Minnesota State Capitol

Just a heads up, according to the Minnesota Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance (MNGOCRA) Facebook page there will be hearings on gun control happening at the Capitol in St. Paul on February 5th, 6th, and 7th. If you’re interested in sitting in on those hearing you should clear your schedule for those days.

What Giffords Really Said

Gabrielle Giffords has decided to continue her push for stricter gun control. While this isn’t surprising I found here justification for more gun control rather interesting:

The Arizona Democrat, who was shot in the head in a 2011 attack that killed six people, said too many children were dying in shootings.

Giffords claims to want stronger gun control legislation to protect the children from gun violence. In order to accomplish her goal she intended to have violent people with guns threaten nonviolent people with guns. I still can’t wrap my head around the idea of gun control. How can one claim to oppose gun violence while at the same time advocate for people with guns to use violence to enforce gun control legislation? It truly is mind boggling. We’ve seen the results of prohibitions before. During the time alcohol was prohibited state and non-state organized crime increased. The current war on drugs, likewise, has lead to an increase in state and non-state organized crime. Why does anybody think a prohibition against firearms is going to be any different?

Where’s Your Tea Party God Now

Paul Ryan was the supposed star child of the Tea Party movement. During the presidential race I was told by numerous people that, while Romney wasn’t great, Ryan was a true small government advocate. Even today I’m being told that we wouldn’t have been suffering this current gun control debate if Romney and Ryan had won the presidential race because even if Romney would have been unreliable when it comes to protecting gun rights Ryan would keep him in line. As it turns out Mr. Ryan isn’t oppose to gun control:

Perhaps to the chagrin of the NRA and other gun rights groups, Ryan supported the idea of closing the inaptly named gun show ‘loophole’ so long as it doesn’t supplant one’s individual right to keep and bear arms.

“I think we should look into someone who is not legally allowed to buy a gun going to [a show], buying one, and let’s figure that out,” the congressman from Janesville said. “I think we need to find out how to close these loopholes and do it in such a way that we don’t infringe on Second Amendment rights.”

He iterated that the idea of requiring universal background checks was “very reasonable,” but as for details on how to make it pass constitutional muster, he said, “I don’t know the answer to how to make this work — that’s what committee hearings are for.”

Mr. Ryan has no issue with making private sales entirely illegal, in fact he believes such legislation would be very reasonable. So much for Ryan being the protector or liberty (not that I ever thought he was). Hopefully this ends the speculation that continues to be made regarding the current gun rights fight and how we wouldn’t be having it had Romney and Ryan gotten into office.

In War, Truth is the First Casualty

Aeschylus once said “In war, truth is the first casualty.” He’s was right. This fact is apparent in any war. I’m not just talking about shooting wars like Vietnam or Iraq, culture wars suffer from the same problem. Consider the current war on guns. By exploiting the tragedy that happened in Newtown, Connecticut gun control advocates have made their attack against gun owners. Early on it was reported that an “assault weapon” was used in the Newtown shooting:

(CBS News) NEWTON, Conn. – It’s still unclear what — if any — connection suspected gunman Adam Lanza’s mother had to Sandy Hook Elementary School, the scene of the mass murder on Friday. But we do know the weapons Adam Lanza used to kill his victims came from her home.

As new details emerge, the scope of the horror expands. Lanza apparently sprayed two classrooms at the school with relentless fire from a semi-automatic assault rifle.

It was a massacre, and most of the victims were first-graders. Autopsies on the bodies of the children reveal that many, if not all, had been shot multiple times.

“I only did seven of the autopsies,” medical examiner Wayne Carver said. “The victims I had ranged from three to 11 wounds a piece, and I only saw two of them with close-range shooting.”

Investigators believe most of the bullets came from a Bushmaster .223 assault rifle. It was one of four guns Lanza took from the home he shared with his mother after he shot and killed her.

This news was used by gun control advocates to push for a new “assault weapon” ban. Later it was reported that no “assault weapon” was used in the Newtown tragedy:

They say now that there were actually four handguns inside the school, not just two as we were initially told. Four handguns and apparently only handguns that were taken into the school.

We knew that Adam Lanza, the man said to be the gunman here, also had an ‘assault-style’ AR-15 -style rifle that he had had taken to the school, it was in the car he drove there, his mother’s car, but we have been told by several officials that he had left that in the car.

If the use of an “assault weapon” is in question why are gun control advocates still pushing for a new “assault weapon” ban? Because they don’t care about facts, they care about their holy crusade against gun owners. They also know several things. First, the wall-to-wall coverage of the Newtown shooting is over. In the United States news cycles last for roughly one week, after that one week period very little will be reported about the news item. Therefore the report noting that an “assault weapon” wasn’t used in the Newtown shooting likely fell on deaf ears because we’re beyond that one week window. Another example of this happening was the Zimmerman case. Originally news sources reported that Zimmerman’s shooting of Martin was motivated by race. Later it was revealed that Zimmerman’s injuries corresponded with his story, which supported his claim that the shooting was in self-defense. Since that news only came to light after the one week news cycle most people didn’t hear it and still believe Zimmerman’s shooting was race related.

The second thing gun control advocates know is that reports noting that an “assault weapon” wasn’t used in the Newtown shooting will be irrelevant. For weeks the average American has been subjected to continusous reports demonizing “assault weapons.” These reports failed to note that more people are killed in the United States by clubs and hammers every year than by rifles and spend a great deal of time exaggerating the amount of power the average “assault weapon” has. In addition to that the media has also implied that “assault weapons” are capable of fully automatic fire, making their readers and viewers believe that any individual can purchase a machine gun in this country with little expense or oversight. At this point nobody cares whether or not an “assault weapon” was used in the Newtown shooting because they believe thousands of people are being murdered every year by legally purchased machine guns. In other words the original justification for the “assault weapon” ban isn’t even on most people’s minds, the narrative has been change and is not about the danger “assault weapons” threaten the average person with.

The third thing gun control advocates know is that most people don’t care about the issue. There are three sides to the gun rights debate: gun rights advocates, gun control advocates, and everybody else who couldn’t care less. Gun rights advocates oppose a new “assault weapon” ban, gun control advocates support a new “assault weapon” ban, and everybody else is angry that Dancing with the Stars is being interrupted by the other two groups. The third group will generally be uninformed about the issue and likely to believe the facts that were originally being reported during the first week. Since most media outlets are unlikely to interrupt Dancing with the Stars after the first week of news coverage the third group is unlikely to hear that no “assault weapon” was used in the Newtown shooting.

The fourth thing gun control advocates know is that the state is on their side. I’ve mentioned before that the state has a vested interest in disarming the general population. The state exists through expropriation and expropriation is made easier when your victims are unarmed. Therefore gun control advocates will gain support from the state so long as the state doesn’t believe gun control is detrimental to its rule (in other words likely to create dissidence and encourage individuals to view the state is illegitimate).

Truth doesn’t last long in any war. As we’ve seen in this debate the truth has already been taking behing the shed, forced to dig its own grave, and shot in the back of the head. Most of the people currently demanding more gun control have no idea what is actually going on, nor do they care. That makes this fight difficult for us gun owners. Fortunately, thanks to the increased interest in the shooting sports, we’ve been able to grow our numbers as of late. This is why I encourage gun owners to take their non-gunnie friends to the range. The truth can be killed but rational self-interest is the basis of all human action. By growing our numbers we increase the number of individuals whose rational self-interest leads them to oppose new gun control legislation. I’ve said that education is the most important tactic in the fight for gun rights, which is true, but education can only happen if somebody is willing to listen. Taking people to the range gives you an audience, it opens new minds to new ideas, and stands to increase the number of potential educators in the gun rights movement. It’s one of the few tools that can be used to create an underground resistance in the memory of our beloved comrade, the truth.

The Fastest Way to Incite a Revolution

It seems that the state is beginning its move against cats:

Cats are one of the top threats to US wildlife, killing billions of animals each year, a study suggests.

The authors estimate they are responsible for the deaths of between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds and 6.9-20.7 billion mammals annually.

Writing in Nature Communications, the scientists said stray and feral cats were the worst offenders.

However, they added that pet cats also played a role and that owners should do more to reduce their impact.

With the Internet’s love of cats it’s easy to see any move to try to cull, control, or eliminate cats would be the fastest way to incite a revolution in this country.

Obama Dismisses Envoy Tasked with Shutting Down Guantanamo Bay

Obviously Obama is taking his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center very seriously. He’s taking his promis so seriously that he’s dismissed the envoy tasked with shutting down Gitmo:

The State Department has reassigned its special envoy for closing the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in another step away from one of President Barack Obama’s first campaign promises.

Ambassador Daniel Fried is starting this week as the department’s sanctions coordinator, according to an internal notice, focusing on governments like Iran and Syria.

And no one is replacing Fried as lead diplomat to persuade countries to resettle Guantanamo inmates approved for release. Instead, those responsibilities will now transfer to the department’s legal office.

The only thing I miss about George W. Bush’s presidency is the fact that self-proclaimed Democrats were anti-war. Now that their man is in power they seem to be entirely accepting of torture, detainment without trial, and everything else they claimed to oppose during Bush’s reign.

No Mr. Biden, the “Assault Weapon” Ban Didn’t Reduce the Number of Killed Police Officers

Another day, another lie by a politician. Mr. Biden, who some believe holds some kind of power, put his foot in his mouth by claiming more police officers were killed after the original “assault weapon” ban was lifted:

“There were fewer police being murdered, fewer police being outgunned when the assault weapons ban, in fact, was in existence,” Biden said.

Except such things weren’t in existence :

Well the ban went into effect in 1994. It expired in 2004. But last year — eight years after the ban expired — was actually the second safest year for police officers in America since the early 1960s. The safest year since the early 1960s was 2009 — also well after the assault weapons ban expired. The 2001 terrorist attacks were of course an anomaly. There was also an isolated spike in 2007. But as you can see from the graph below, on-the-job police officer fatalities have been in steady decline since the late 1970s. The assault weapons ban doesn’t appear to have affected the trend either way.

Nothing about this is surprising. Biden is a politician and therefore a likely liar and rifles are seldom used to commit murder.

Ye of Little Faith

Although I generally avoid discussing topics involving religion on this blog there are times that I come across an article that I feel warrants discussion here. I came across this article that argues for Christians to continue participating in the political process:

When Jesus walked the Earth and performed miracles, He required humans to trust Him and do the part they were told to do. Then the miracle came. For instance, at the wedding feast in Cana, Jesus required men to fill pots with water before He would provide more wine for the wedding party. If those men had not done their duty, it is unlikely Jesus would have added His part, the miracle.

What about the miracle of feeding 5,000 people with five loaves and two fishes? If the little boy had refused to share his lunch with Jesus, there would have been no miracle. There is no doubt that the Son of God could have created the loaves and fishes out of nothing if He wanted. But what He wanted was a person who would make the sacrifice that invites the miracle.

Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He told some men to roll away the huge stone closing the grave. No doubt if He could raise to life someone who had been dead four days, He could move a stone, no matter how large. But Jesus required human agents to be involved. No matter how mi­nute a part a human being plays in God’s miracles, God chooses to make us an essential part of His greater plan.

Did you note that in each of these examples, Jesus did not expect people to work miracles? America needs a miracle! God is in the miracle-working business. The first ingredient of miracles is for man to invite the miracle and assist in the receiving of the miracle by hopefully and dutifully doing his part. If America’s enemies succeed in discouraging America’s patriots, if they can trick us into giving up hope and walking off the battlefield, how can we expect a miracle from God?

James A. Garfield as a young minister had an aversion to politics. But being a truth-seeker, he eventually saw in his Bible God’s instructions for civil government. He became convinced that a Christian’s duty was to participate in public affairs. Before becoming president in 1881, he wrote on the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence the following insightful and prophetic message: “Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerated ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. If the next centennial [1976] does not find us a great nation … it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation did not aid in controlling the political forces.”

What I find interesting is that the author cites works of Jesus mentioned in the Bible to argue in favor of Christians involving themselves in the political process. The reason I find this interesting is because there is one thing never attributed to Jesus in the Bible, politics. Nowhere is it mentioned that Jesus ran for office in the Roman empire or campaigned for certain Roman politicians. I’m sure you’ve seen the bracelets inscribed with the phrase “What would Jesus do?” In fact the phrase has become so popular that it now has its own widely known acronym, WWJD. Answering that question generally relies on analyzing what Jesus was credited with doing in the Bible. Notice the miracles mentioned in the linked article. One miracle involved Jesus working to ensure a wedding celebration continued by turning water into wine. The second mentioned miracle involved Jesus feeding people by regenerating the remains of fish and bread. Miracle three involved Jesus raising a man from the dead. What all three of these stories have in common is that Jesus took direct action to fix a bad situation.

When the wedding party consumed all of the wine Jesus didn’t demand the state redistribute wine from those who had it to the wedding party. Sure, the wedding party could be argued to need wine more than other individuals in the area but no such argument was even brought up. Jesus never demanded the state provide more food for the hungry, he worked with what he had to feed who he could. In the story of Lazarus Jesus was urged to address the ailing Lazarus. When Jesus arrived Lazarus was already dead. Instead of demanding the Roman state invest money into researching a cure for Lazarus’s ailment Jesus took matters into his own hands. What would Jesus do? He wouldn’t use the political process to get the state to correct a bad situation, he would take direct action to help fix a bad situation.

In fact much of Jesus’s time was spent discussing charity in the form of helping those in need. Politics is the most ineffective method to help those in need. If you want to help feed the hungry you can run for office, demand your fellow politicians support a piece of legislation you wrote addressing the issue of the hungry, wait for the bill to be debated and passed, wait for a new bureau to be established that purports to help the hungry or an exiting bureau to be expanded to deal with the additional workload involved with feeding the hungry, and watch as a majority tax money collected under the guise of feeding the hungry is redirected to fund the new or expanded bureau and other state programs. In the end a great deal of time and money will be invested in creating a state organ to address the hungry and a majority of collected funds will be used to keep that organ alive instead of feeding the hungry.

The other option is to directly work to feed the hungry, which is the path chosen by organizations such as the Catholic Worker Movement. For those who haven’t heard of the Catholic Worker Movement it is an organization founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. The Catholic Worker Movement establishes, what it refers to as, Houses of Hospitality for the poor. Their Houses of Hospitality are aimed at offering immediate relief for those in need. What I find most interesting about the organization is that one of its founders, Dorothy Day, happened to be an anarchist (of the communist persuasion). Because of this it’s not surprising that she worked to establish an organization to directly help those in need instead of running for office or campaigning for a politician that claimed to support her desires. Anarchists, after all, focus on offering direct aid to those in need instead of relying on a nebulous bureaucracy to do it. Furthermore it’s not surprising to see that the Catholic Worker Movement is a radical organization that has tasked itself with creating a new society within the shell of the current society that focuses on ensuring everybody gets what they need to survive. While communism isn’t my thing I have no issue with those who wish to established voluntary communism and, in fact, support them (as I support any movement that aims to directly help those in need using voluntary methods).

How effective has the Catholic Worker Movement been? Considering the number of established Houses of Hospitality I’d say they’ve been pretty successful. And their success wasn’t due to the state, it was due to directly helping those in need just as Jesus was said to have.

On the other hand supposed Christians working within the state appear to be focused on forcing “Christian” (quotes used because the definition of Christian usually differs from politician to politicians) morality on the entire population. Instead of working to house the homeless, feed the hungry, and cure the sick most self-proclaimed Christians in the state have spent a majority of their time trying to pass laws that tie the state to their religion. This brings up another characteristic missing from the description of Jesus found in the Bible, a reliance on force. While the self-proclaimed Christians in the state have spent a great deal of time trying to legislate morality Jesus is never mentioned using the state’s gun to force his teaching onto people. Once again if we ask “What would Jesus do?” we cannot urge Christians to participate in the state. If one wants to instill Christian morality into a population in a manner consistent with the methods of Jesus he or she should work to help those in need while advocating Christian morality to those who are willing to listen.

The article closes with a discussion about the “winning” strategy:

The aforementioned counseling principle also suggests the obvious first step to winning the battle to restore Americanism: Before we can expect consistent wins at the ballot box, we must win the battle in the minds of our friends and neighbors. Before we can win elections, we must win the electorate. We win the electorate by educating them about both what built up America and what is tearing down America, not by giving up or ignoring the problem.

The essential foundational victory will not be won in Washington or in our state capitals. It must be won first among our friends and neighbors in our houses, schools, churches, and towns. And remember, what we are “for” always has to be more important than what we are “against.” Our approach must always include the hillside view.

What’s interesting about the closing part of the article is that it is correct in stating that the key to victory for Christians is to work directly with other people. Where it falls flat is then claiming that working directly with other people will lead to the end goal of political victories. What need is there for political victories if one succeeds in the job of education? If people are working together to house the homeless, feed the hungry, and cure the sick why does one need the state to get involved in those matters? If people are following Christian morality why does one need the state to force it onto people? The only thing involving the state manages to do is redistribute a great deal of resources from the general population to agents of the state. On top of being a waste of resources the state is also subject to violent mood swings. For a time it may be working on forcing Christian morality only to change and begin persecuting Christians. The state, being violent by nature, knows no moral philosophy other than redistributing wealth from a populace to the politically connected.

If You’re Making Money the State Wants a Piece of the Action

It goes without saying, if you run a successful business the state will eventually show up at your door and demand a piece of the action. Operators of the popular pedal pubs in Minneapolis are learning this lesson. In regards to the pedal pubs:

“They aren’t regulated at all now,” said Grant Wilson, manager of Licenses and Consumer Services in Minneapolis. Representatives from the pedal-pub industry (two companies are currently operating in Minneapolis) and city staff started meeting several months ago after City Hall began hearing complaints.

They’re not regulated at all?! Somebody call a bureaucracy, there’s a business that has managed to escape any state regulation! Wilson’s claim is false as pedal pubs have several regulations affect them, including a regulation that the person steering the pub must be sober. What Wilson really meant to say is that the city of Minneapolis isn’t collecting any regular fees from the operators of pedal pubs. In laymen’s terms the city mafia isn’t getting a piece of the action. It’s pretty easy to see that this case is entirely about expropriation as Wilson had to dig pretty deep to find some justification for the city to implement additional regulations:

“The main complaint is that people, after a tour, became loud,” Wilson said.

There were also complaints about pedal pub riders parking in residential neighborhoods and piddling on the bushes.

Being loud, parking in residential neighborhoods, and pissing on bushes are the biggest complaints regarding pedal pubs? It sounds like they’re less obtrusive than traditional bars that usually generate all of those complains as well as complains about fighting. Looking at the proposed regulations and comparing them to the listed complains further reinforced the fact that this entire exercise is about expropriation:

The new regulations will require licenses for the company and the drivers, inspections of the vehicles and $2 million worth of insurance. The license fees are the same as those now charged for a pedicab, which carries two or three passengers but does not serve alcohol.

Drivers will pay $59 for an annual license. The company will pay $98 for a license and another $135 for an annual inspection of each vehicle.

There is also a provision for a $500 administrative fine, which can be assessed if the pedal pub company does not comply with the new ordinance. That fine would double for the second violation and tops out at $2,000.

You have to admire how the state can take complains of noise, parking in residential neighborhoods, and pissing on bushes and turn them into yearly vehicle inspections. I’m not sure how any of those complains apply to the upkeep of the actual pedal pubs but, as I said, these new requirements have nothing to do with complains and everything to do with expropriation. If you want to do business on the mafia’s turf you have to buy “protection.”