Where’s Evil?

Evil does exist. It may be found in the hearts of conservatives everywhere:

The problem is this: We conservatives think liberals are silly; they think we’re evil. Tell a liberal that you hope President Obama will be defeated in the upcoming election, and you’ll be branded a racist. Voice your opposition to same-sex marriage, and you’re a homophobe. Express outrage at the idea of building a mosque on the spot where one of the planes’ fuselages fell in the 9/11massacre, and you’re an Islamophobe. If you support the tea party, or Rick Santorum for president, or defunding Planned Parenthood, or setting up credible border enforcement, you could be all of the above plus more: anti-woman, anti-poor-people, anti-tolerance and a “fascist” to boot.

Go read it all.

Apologies Are Sometimes Hurtful

President Obama has apologized to Afghanistan because copies of the Koran were destroyed by US military personnel. In Western culture, an apology may mean something (Edit: It always means something: the point I was trying to make was that apologies are part of the give and take of Western culture where we all know we fail from time to time.) In Eastern culture (of which Afghanistan is part) an apology is usually regarded as a sign of weakness. And, in this case, I agree with the local culture–this apology was most assuredly a sign of weakness.

The White House Dossier has put together a top 10 list of things which the President could have done instead of apologizing (and which would have done just as much good). I repeat them here:

1. Dedicate a round of golf to the people of Afghanistan.

2. Send Michelle for a symbolic vacation to Jalalabad.

3. Ask the Afghans if they’d like the Russians back instead.

4. Head to a local Afghan restaurant and bow to the wait staff.

5. Offer to make Afghanistan’s heroin “The Official Heroin of the United States.”

6. Give Afghan children a permanent exemption from Michelle’s “Let’s Move” school lunch offerings.

7. Provide unlimited, free doses of Prozac to the entire adult population of Afghanistan.

8. Change the lyrics of O Tannenbaum to O Taliban.

9. Set up a program to provide virgins to Afghan men who refuse to commit suicide bombings.

10. Demand an apology from Afghanistan for the more than 1,800 U.S. forces killed since the start of the war.

Actually, I think a few of these would have done far more good.

Wrong Question, Right Answer

P&R says that the wrong question to ask about the current South Dakota education bill is what it would take for the teachers to approve of it. He’s right. After looking at some of the numbers for teachers and salaries, he makes this observation:

Every teacher I’ve ever heard about is described as dedicated by friends and family.  Maybe the teacher even is dedicated.  That doesn’t mean he’s any good at it.  I’ve come across more than one very dedicated, very nice, very lousy teacher in the course of overseeing the education of my children.  Somehow my child’s future is to be sacrificed on the altar of this teacher’s self esteem, because he or she is so dedicated?

This is a parallel argument to the one which I find myself using regularly. Just because someone is sincere does not make them right, nor does it make what they are doing/attempting to do honorable.

Truth is unaffected by dedication, sincerity–or any other words that say “Hey, I’m doing stuff.”

Perhaps a better question would be “Who is ultimately responsible for a child’s education, anyway?”

Five Smooth Stories

Energy. We all need some. Some of us need more than others. Without it, we die. Our President is an expert on the topic of energy–or at least thinks he is. So, like most experts, he recently gave a speech on the matter  which some folks examined and came to a surprising conclusion: he wasn’t being truthful with us.

While there are many issues which can and will be brought up as part of this election cycle, the issue of our national energy policy  and our national monetary policy should lead.

Live Slaved or Defenseless

Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as New Hampshire’s original motto, does it? Unfortunately, it would appear that the new motto is more accurate for Dennnis Fleming:

A New Hampshire man who fired his handgun into the ground to scare an alleged burglar he caught crawling out of a neighbor’s window is now facing a felony charge — and the same potential prison sentence as the man he stopped.

Dennis Fleming, 61, of Farmington, was arrested for reckless conduct after the Saturday incident at his 19th century farmhouse. The single grandfather had returned home to find that his home had been burglarized and spotted Joseph Hebert, 27, climbing out of a window at a neighbor’s home. Fleming said he yelled “Freeze!” before firing his gun into the ground, then held Hebert at gunpoint until police arrived.

While one can argue that the discharge might have been unwise, it is likely that he was attempting to get the alleged burglar’s attention without perforating his neighbors house. Many of us who are trained to respect the property of others might have done likewise.

Not only did the authorities charge him with a crime, they are already treating him as a felon by taking away his legally owned guns–most of which were not included in the incident and should not be retained as evidence of anything other than police overreach.

The idea that this homeowner would be punished for his actions as much as the alleged burglar might be punished for his would surely bring tears to the eyes of the first New Hampshirens.

An Army of What?

I’m sorry, but this seems, well, it’s hard to put into words:

The Army is ordering its hardened combat veterans to wear fake breasts and empathy bellies so they can better understand how pregnant soldiers feel during physical training.

This week, 14 noncommissioned officers at Camp Zama took turns wearing the “pregnancy simulators” as they stretched, twisted and exercised during a three-day class that teaches them to serve as fitness instructors for pregnant soldiers and new mothers.

All respect to these soldiers, but the only way to feel like a pregnant woman (according to my several times been pregant wife) is to be one.

If we believe that pregnant soldiers and new mothers should get official exercise, where are the female instructors? Is turning a number of male soldiers into faux females really going to do anything of lasting value beside generating some funky headlines?

Yeah. Go Army.

Specializing in Specialty Subsidies

Get in line, get in line, get you some of Uncle Sam’s dime:

People involved in the specialty crop industry in South Dakota can now apply for select federal funding of projects that enhance the competitiveness of fruits, dried fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, nursery crops and horticulture.

The funds can be used for projects that involve research, food safety, nutrition, promotion, distribution, best management procedures, and a variety of other uses to advance the specialty crop industry in South Dakota. The South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA) encourages applicants to develop projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.

Brought to you by the 2008 Farm Bill (and all of your neighbors who are paying for people with specialty crops to “develop projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.”)

You know what would enhance the competitiveness? Not using lopsided rules.

On Inspiration

Scott Johnson nails it:

Mitt is an inspirational candidate. The problem is that what he inspires is intense apathy among a substantial number of conservatives and Republicans. They (we) resist him.

He goes on to say that this inspiration is precisely why we conservatives keep on dating the alternatives–not because they are in themselves that attractive.

Given all this, what’s a conservative to do?

Bold as Brass

President Obama may claim time and again that he’s a supporter of the Second Amendment, but his actions belie his words. Outside of those actions, his regular references to “common sense” regulations tells us just about everything we need to know. And then there is saying that we as a country need to do “whatever it takes” to stop gun violence.

Mr. President, let us stamp out evil in the hearts of humanity and violence perpetuated with the use of guns as tools will stop. That’s where the violence is–not the chamber of a 9mm pistol.

But, back to his actions. Let’s consider parts of the budget which the President proposed:

President Obama is using his budget to advance an anti-gun agenda just before the election. One particularly sneaky provision buried deep within his submission to Congress Monday would, if enacted, allow the mistakes of the “Fast and Furious” gun-walking scandal to be repeated.

The article goes on to note that there is an amendment which was approved by 99 senators which would prohibit the Justice Department from walking any guns. Now, the president has said that we don’t need the proscription and can just trust the good folks in government to not do bad things any more.

(Please see my earlier note about stopping the source of violence.)

Recently, I came across a number of rounds of 30-06 ammo still in their M1 clips. Seeing that I do not possess an M1, I’ll probably need to procure one. With that in mind, I was very disappointed to see yet another way in which the President’s budget would curtail the freedoms of those such as myself who legally enjoy old shootin’ iron:

The White House is looking to reclaim authority to destroy surplus M1 Garand rifles and M1 Carbines. For 30 years, the Defense Department has been blocked from scrapping these collectible firearms that served our soldiers well in World War II and the Korean War. The administration also wants to melt down the military’s spent brass casings, thwarting gun owners who have been buying and recycling the surplus materials.

With his many recent decisions to do what he will despite laws to the contrary, it should come as no surprise that President Obama sees the Constitution as an impediment to his re-imagining of our political and cultural landscape.

Leaving aside the horrible financial results of implementing the budget, we find no reason at all to love that which would further undermine the freedoms which we may still enjoy.

Cash is King and We are Increasingly Peasants

Most of us have not walked on to a car dealer’s lot and said “I want that car right there and I’ll pay cash.” Those of us who have done this, or something similar, have found that we can negotiate very good deals compared with what we would get on a financed vehicle. Why is that? Pretty simple, really. If we pay cash, then the dealer has the cash today to invest in new stock, etc. If we don’t pay cash, the dealer only gets a little bit (usually the down payment or trade in) up front.

Blake Hurst, a farmer and small-business owner in Missouri looks at the current debate over taxation while considering what too much taxation does to people like him:

[All this talk by politicians about taxes] makes me wonder what I should think. Intuitively, it seems obvious that increasing tax rates will lessen incentives to take risks or work hard. Increase taxes on investment, and you ought to get less investment. That seems simple enough on its face, and investors surely pay attention to after-tax returns on investment when they decide what to do with their capital.

Ahh, but what does this mean in the new new economy within which we must function?

In all the arguments over incentives and tax fairness, there has been little mention of, well, cash. I’ve read long, learned dissertations on work effort, impassioned pleas for incentives to encourage a rekindling of animal spirits, and exotic calculus in service of whatever agenda an economist possessed before the study was undertaken. But cash is rarely mentioned.

As a small businessman, I can’t argue that I worked harder or longer the year after the Bush tax cuts were passed. I would imagine that my effort was pretty much the same as the year before. The same goes for my investment plan. I invest everything left after living expenses and taxes, no matter what the capital gains tax rate is. I have no plan to sell my farmland or my business. Like Warren Buffett, I’m not selling, so the tax rate on any expected gain doesn’t matter to me.

The only question that matters to the growth of my business is this: how much cash does the tax man leave me?

It would seem that there are taxes, and then there are taxes. He goes on:

Now, finance theory, at least the one called the Modigliani-Miller theorem, argues that the market is basically indifferent to how a business is financed. Debt or equity, it matters not. If taxes are so high that I can’t save cash to reinvest in my business, it doesn’t matter, because if the expected return of investment in my business is greater than the cost of capital, the market will provide.

However, neither Modigliani nor Miller has been in contact with my banker, who seems unaware of financial theory. When we expanded our farm recently by purchasing a neighboring place, the lender required at least 35 per cent of the purchase price as a down payment. That would be cash. It mattered not the capital gains tax rate, the cost of capital, the expected return, or what Obama considers fair. Business is hard and cash is king.

In uncertain times, future promises to pay must be be backed with substantial cash today. The President may not understand this, but a lack of understanding never did change the facts.

Go and read it all.