An ultra-conservative's views on this and that

15 November 2016

Just saying

I think my Facebook friends list will shrink before the end of the year, if my politically-different-thinking "friends" don't stop inadvertently linking me to the  Nazis.

Invocations of the Kristallnacht?  Look in the mirror, morons, those aren't Trump supporters out there rioting.

Bewilderment at half of the U.S. being racist for voting for the man?  Take a Xanax, folks, and consider the possibility that people voted for him, or against his main opponent, for a variety of reasons.

Yes, the list will definitely shrink, but I won't necessarily be the one doing the friend-culling.  All I have to do is unashamedly state my political views, and the counter will drop. 

And you know what?  I don't care.  If these people are unable to function in civil society and accept defeat like adults, I'm better off not having that negativity around me.

And why haven't I yet?  Because while I'm OK enduring the hatred that would be directed against me, I may unavoidably draw my wife into the cesspool, and that's just not something a loving husband does.

09 November 2016

Suck it up, snowflakes (Part 1)

It's been about 24 hours since the U.S. elected Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, and I just see more of the same whining and sniveling that I saw after the 2000 and 2004 elections.  People taking to social media to broadcast their demoralization and emotional exhaustion.  Teachers giving students a pass on coursework or exams because of their devastation at losing.

Suck it up, snowflakes.  This is not the end.

One of my Facebook friends, the wife of a former co-worker writes:

 Yes, I'm disappointed that my candidate lost. But that's not it. I have a whole lot of experience losing contests before, and my feelings today aren't about being a poor sport.
I'm devastated to learn that so many of the people around me condone (or at least don't condemn) sexual violence and hate speech against anyone who looks or acts 'different.' I'm afraid for the safety of my friends and my children. The author of this article does a beautiful job expressing what so many of us are feeling today.
I voted in the election, not so much for Trump (I would've preferred Ted Cruz), but against Hillary Clinton.  Trump has made some controversial statements, to be sure, but what's the saying about people in glass houses?  Hillary Clinton's party contains some real creepy characters:  Most notable has to be Joe Biden.

Set aside that Biden has been a fixture on the Washington scene for decades, and the most sensible foreign policy an elected official can pursue is to seek the advice of Joe Biden, and then do the exact opposite.  Biden's behavior as a vice president has ranked high on the creepy scale.  See the following links for well-documented instances where Biden engaged in behavior that would earn him a trip to HR in most large companies:
Then there's Ted "Chappaquiddick" Kennedy, a man who avoided the scandal of a woman drowning in his car as he swam to safety due to 2 things:  His last name, and the "D" next to it.

Ok, now on to what my acquaintance writes:

I'm devastated to learn that so many of the people around me condone (or at least don't condemn) sexual violence and hate speech against anyone who looks or acts 'different.'
So what are we defining as "sexual violence?"  If Michelle Obama is to be considered a source, it seems to encapsulate Mr. Trump merely talking about what he'd want to do to someone of the female persuasion.

So they have on tape, making a statement that, though awkward, conveys the sentiment that a lot of "red-blooded males" may have at times in our lives:  We see a sexually attractive woman, and the blood rushes from our head to a point somewhat south of the border.  We revert to our primitive selves a little bit.  I'm sorry that my acquaintance and the other not-Trump people out there take offense to this or will be surprised by this, but most if not all straight males will have at least one of these moments during their lives, where our inner cavemen crawls out, and we think about fulfilling a biological imperative without first wanting to talk about our feelings.

But what differentiates most of us from most of the animal kingdom is that we don't act on it, or we don't act on it without consent from our would-be partner.

Yes, what Trump said about a woman over a decade ago is despicable, and as members of society, we are right to criticize him for it.  But to take the logical leap from that to my acquaintance considering the people who voted for Trump to be condoning or not condemning "sexual violence" is ridiculous.  Newsflash:  People can condemn Trump's statements and still vote for him.

31 December 2015

So long, 2015. Welcome, 2016!

It's that time again.  Time to reflect on 2015:

  • January:
    • Boko Haram massacres 2,000 people.
    • Our pet Flemish Giant, Goose, turned 6.  It was his first birthday that he had without his twin sister Dori.
  • February:
    • Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played Spock in 3 seasons of Star Trek, guest-starred in Star Trek:  The Next Generation, and played the character in 8 Star Trek films, dies.
    • A blizzard hits our little corner of Iowa and dumps a ton of snow on us, just in time for my sisters to visit from Florida.
    • My sisters make the trek from Florida to Iowa to meet their new little nephew for the first time.  He has lots of smiles for them and becomes quite talkative.
  • March:
    • The NASA probe Dawn enters orbit around dwarf planet Ceres.
    • ISIL effectively annexes Boko Haram.  Still a JV team, Mr. President?
    • A suicidal airline co-pilot locks the pilot out of the cockpit and crashes Germanwings flight 9525 into a mountain.
    • We finish the dormer attic in our house, giving us a new spacious den upstairs after having to relocate our computers to the front living room when our son was born.
    • My father's plane catches fire after a gear-up landing.  He escapes unscathed, but his plane, and the logbooks and computer in the backseat, are a loss.
  • April:
    • A magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Nepal kills over 9,000 in Nepal, India, China, and Bangladesh.
    • Percy Sledge, who once topped the charts with When A Man Loves A Woman, dies.
    • My wife and I celebrate our second anniversary, the first one as parents.
    • My wife, her parents, and our son are thankfully OK after being rear-ended by another car while sitting in traffic.  It is the second vehicular collision my son has been involved in since his birth.  I put my old airplane headset on him and he relieves the stress that evening with infectious laughter.
    • My in-laws celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
  • May:
    • Ireland legalizes same-sex marriage by popular vote, becoming the first country to do so.
    • Grace Lee Whitney, who played Janice Rand in the Star Trek franchise, dies.
    • Blues guitarist B.B. King dies.
    • The 70th anniversary of V-E day.
  • June:
    • Corruption in FIFA
    • ISIL, the "JV team", kills almost 300 people in one day in a series of coordinated attacks.
    • Actor Christopher Lee of Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Dracula fame, dies.
    • Composer James Horner (Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan) dies.
    • Actor Dick Van Patten dies.
    • Fatherhood is the joy you experience when carrying your sleeping son off to bed when he falls asleep in the living room.
    • My father, shopping for a new plane, visits us in Iowa. 
    • Our son enjoys his first family vacation to Okoboji, IA.  Upon our return, I manage to slip and fall down the stairs from the attic.  I luckily ended up only with a spiral gouge in my right arm and some stiffness in my right leg, but nothing broken or sprained.
  • July:
    • Greece defaults on its debt, choosing to pour gasoline on the fire that is their economic crisis.
    • NASA's New Horizons probe visits Pluto.
    • Cuba and the United States re-establish diplomatic relations.  Still waiting for the reimbursement from Cuba for the nationalization and seizure of American companies' property...
    • Omar Sharif, Alex Rocco (Moe Greene from the Godfather), and Roddy Piper (They Live) die.
    • My folks visit Iowa.  I drive my father up to Minnesota to look at a plane.
  • August:
    • Part of Malaysian Airlines MH370 is finally found.
    • Director Wes Craven dies.
    • A crew from the EPA causes a spill of 3 million gallons of water polluted with mercury, arsenic, and other toxic metals from a closed mine into the Animas River, a (former) source of drinking water for 3 states and at least one Indian reservation.  Unsurprisingly, the EPA encountered a lack of compassion or cooperation from the states and municipalities in the area that they had bullied and fined for far lesser sins.
    • Goose, our beloved Flemish Giant "puppy-bunny", dies.  For the first time in 11 years, there are no rabbits for me to care for, save the wild ones in the backyard.
    • My father purchases a new plane in Minnesota, and I fly back to Iowa with him.  It had been 26 years since I had last sat right-seat with him.  This time definitely felt different, probably because I could see over the instrument panel.
  • September:
    • Volkswagen gets caught cheating on diesel emissions tests
    • Russia starts staging air strikes against ISIL, showing Putin to be more of a man than Obama.
    • Yogi Berra, famous New York Yankees ballplayer.  "It ain't over till it's over."
    • Took our son on a trip up to Minnesota.  Picked up equipment for my dad's plane on our way up.  Delivered several bags of hay from Goose's "estate" to my fellow rabbit friends in the Cities.  Our son also got a chance to see many rabbits playing on the mats.
  • October:
    • My son and I hit the streets for his first Halloween.
  • November:
    • ISIL kills 130 in Paris in terror attacks.  Still a JV team, Mr. President?  There are indications that at least one of the terrorists may have entered France by posing as a Syrian refugee.
    • RIP Fred Dalton Thompson, former U.S. Senator from Tennessee, actor, and one-time presidential candidate.  As an actor, I think my favorite role of his is as Rear Admiral Joshua Painter in The Hunt for Red October.
    • My son celebrates his first birthday with aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents from Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas.
    • We suit up our son and take him around the snow-covered backyard on his sled for the first time.
    • Our first airline travel as a family.  Thanksgiving with my folks and my sisters and their families was enjoyable, but the trip left me wondering if installing and removing a infant car seat from an airplane would be a fitting punishment for some misdemeanors.  Still, our little one got to meet his uncle and two of his three first cousins on my side.  In addition, he befriended my sister's dog, we learned that he likes the taste of tea and doesn't like the taste of lemons or dark German beer.
    • My mother-in-law goes in for knee surgery.
  • December:
    • Jihadists open fire at a Christmas party in San Bernadino, CA, killing 14. Predictable response from the Obama regime?  "We need tougher regulations on guns." Seriously?
    • COP21 summit results in a climate agreement that causes a bunch of "journalists" to behave like enthusiastic sports fans.  Objectivity?  We don't need no stinkin' objectivity!
    • Remember the Animas River being polluted by the EPA?  Yeah, now they're saying they're not responsible.  Being a government bully means never having to say sorry (until a judge orders you too, which would be a nice outcome to this ongoing saga).
    • RIP Robert Loggia.  I will always remember him as Frank Lopez from Scarface.
    • RIP Natalie Cole.  I'm sorry she's dead at a relatively young age, but I wonder how long it is until someone sings with her in a posthumous duet.
    • RIP Wayne Rogers.  I enjoyed his performance as Trapper John McIntyre on MASH, though he was still enjoyable to watch in his other career as a financial analyst on Fox Business Network.
    • I spend my 40th birthday having a quiet dinner of Spaghetti-Os with my son.  In retrospect, I couldn't have asked for a more fun evening!
Farewell, 2015.  Here's to 2016!

17 December 2015

The stupidity of equating abortion and gun ownership

A friend of mine recently posted this to Facebook in the wake of the San Bernadino shooting.  She and her husband are fairly left-wing, and never allow a lack of information or a warped set of data deter them from sharing their opinion on something, sometimes with derision.

She recently shared this photo from Janis Ian:

"How about we treat every young man who wants to buy a gun like every woman who wants to get an abortion-- mandatory 48-hr waiting period, parental permission, a note from his doctor proving he understands what he's about to do, a video he has to watch about the effects of gun violence, and ultrasound wand up the ass (just because).  Lets close down all but one gun shop in every state and make him travel hundreds of miles, take time off work, and stay overnight in a strange town to get a gun.  Make him walk through a gauntlet of people holding photos of loved ones who were shot to death, people who call him a murderer and beg him not to buy a gun.

It makes more sense to do this with young men and guns than with women and health care, right?  I mean, no woman getting an abortion has killed a room full of people in seconds, right?

My friend adds:

This applies of course to every (young) person who wants to buy a gun, not just every young man.

Of course, the comparison isn't exactly apples to apples:  When a woman has an abortion, there is a life being snuffed out.  You can argue viability all you want, that's not the point.  Human beings, for their life span, have a heartbeat.  Stop the heart, or cause the heart to stop, and the body dies.  A person purchasing a firearm might never use it to cause the heart of others or himself to stop beating.  However, a woman who has an abortion will almost without exception terminate the heartbeat(s) of the life or lives growing inside her.

Waiting periods?  Most firearms have them.  Those that don't are because it doesn't take that long to execute a background check on would-be buyers.  Parental permission?  Federal law allows minors to only legally possess long guns and long gun ammunition.  Many locales will allow those same minors to get an abortion without parental notification.

Let's not forget that a minor having an abortion has already made a misjudgement about the laws of nature:  Have unprotected sex, and play Russian roulette with the odds that one of a billion sperm finds its way to the egg.

And the snark about having to travel hundreds of miles?  Personally, I waffle on the topic of abortion, but if we accept the premise that it's just a medical procedure, without the moral issues around the termination of one or more heartbeats, then shouldn't we, as an industrialized nation, have a high standard for medical care?  In the wake of the horrors of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, shouldn't we mandate safe, sanitary conditions for such a procedure?  If you were to have your appendix out, you'd want it done in a sterile environment by well-trained medical professionals.  If some facilities can't meet government standards for hygiene, safety, etc., why should those facilities continue to operate?

Finally, are we certain that, in a day and age of widely-available contraception and post-intercourse abortifacents, is it possible that demand for this particular medical procedure is down?

In conclusion, the post makes a false equivalence between a young man assumed to be a murderer just because he chooses to get a gun, and woman who goes in for a medical procedure, knowing that it will terminate the heartbeat of another human being.

07 December 2015

Prayer-shaming, empty-platitudes, or whatever you want to call it

For years, I've noticed a pattern:  Leftists tend to love to exploit tragedies for political power.

On 31 July 2007, I returned from a trip and drove over the I-35W bridge on my way home.

The next day, as I headed home from work, the radio relayed terrible news:  The bridge had collapsed into the Mississippi River.

Like any compassionate human being, I kept the victims in my thoughts.  And like any spiritual and religious human being, I kept them in my prayers as well.

Other than wondering if the bridge had been brought down in an act of terrorism, I didn't speculate as to the cause. Because that's what compassionate human beings do:  They don't start pointing fingers of blame while bodies are still being fished out of the river.

Nick Coleman, of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, is not an example of a compassionate human being.  Within hours of the collapse, with no facts or data to support his arguments, blamed the bridge collapse on Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty's veto of a gas-tax increase about two months earlier, "reasoning" that, had the increase been approved, Minnesota could've started spending money to maintain and improve "our crumbling infrastructure."

A couple of points:
  • Construction equipment was present on the bridge to resurface the roadway in one direction, resulting in a lane closure.  It also resulted in an additional 100-ton static load on the bridge.
  • When the bridge was originally designed and built 40 years earlier, it had been built with gusset plates about half the thickness they needed to be to sustain the contemporary load it was carrying.
  • The gusset plates had been subjected to the forces of erosion for those 40 years, a time when the DFL had controlled both the legislature and governor's office for a majority of the time.
  • Public funding may be allocated for something, but politicians often will spend elsewhere.  Case in point:  New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin misspent funds slated to shore up the levies around New Orleans in the years before Hurricane Katrina.  Even if the tax increase had passed, and money had been allocated for the bridge immediately, and a contractor had offered a reasonable bid right away, and gotten to work right away... If. If. If.
So when I see lefties criticizing GOP politicians for offering thoughts and prayers, criticizing the gestures as "empty platitudes", it's nothing new.  Just the same creepy trolls lusting for political power, and willing to play on the heightened emotions of people at a time of crisis or tragedy to effect their policy, lest a cooler, calmer populace might dispassionately object, especially if it could result in the curtailing of the populace's freedoms.

Question for the anti-"thoughts and prayers" crowd:  What makes the gesture an empty platitude?  Who makes the decision that's it's a platitude?  The recipient(s)?  Or the very people presuming to speak for them?  A platitude is defined as "a remark or statement, especially one with a moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful".

Well, wait a minute, is there an accusation that the statement isn't thoughtful?  Again, who makes that determination?  Who determines the frequency at which the phrase is too often used?

The flip side is that the gun-grabbers offers no new solutions.  Just more of the same:  Take everybody's guns away, constitutional rights be damned.  Yet the spree shootings happen in the "gun-free" zones.  Correction:  Some spree shootings are attempted outside gun-free zones, yet they are thwarted by someone with a concealed carry permit and a willingness to use deadly force to protect themselves, their loved ones, and even complete strangers around them.

The problem is the gun-rights advocates are beset by two challenges:  Keeping the people who are too enthusiastic about the exercise of their Second Amendment rights from discouraging or even terrifying the uninformed and misinformed from tuning into a different viewpoint, and a sense of decency that the gun-grabbers aren't encumbered by.  In the wake of the shooting, the gun-rights advocates remain quiet, preferring to allow time to heal the wounds before pointing out the logical conclusion to be drawn from the tragedies:  That gunmen seeking infamy prefer to do so in an environment where their odds are good.  Nothing discourages even the most unstable person from committing an act of terror more than the haunting fear that a law-abiding citizen will cut short their pursuit of fame and turn them into just another easily-forgotten crime statistic.

The would-be-gun-grabbers insist, in the wake of gun violence, that we must "do something."  I agree:  Stop disarming the would-be victims.  Acknowledge that trying to get seize and get rid of 200-300 million guns in this country is a Herculean effort that is not without the risk of bloody conflict, considering the government will have to use its guns to seize everybody else's.  Acknowledge that repeal of the Second Amendment will require getting through Congress and being ratified by 3/4 of the states, either via state legislatures or state conventions.  In other words, good luck.

And that's a good thing.  The Framers understood how volatile the notion of a republic is, and the best way to ensure its longevity is to make it slow and difficult to change the fundamentals of the Constitution.

19 June 2015

Debunking the feel-good progressivism of the minimum wage

A blog I frequent has the requisite couple of "progressives" who challenges the blog's author on a regular or semi-regular basis.

Yesterday, the author used the example of a plumber to illustrate how wages should be set by market forces, and not by some bumbling government bureaucrats.  The gist of the post was how the plumber is a skilled laborer, one whom can charge more for the service of fixing a leaky pipe than a fast-food cashier or burger-flipper.

Enter Dog Gone and her cognitive dissonance:

What a bogus argument you posit.
First of all, plumbers earn more or less based on their level of expertise and licensing – which is largely the case due to their belonging to unions, not just that they are skilled.
OK, not all plumbers are unionized.  And even the ones that are, in fact, skilled laborers:  They spend years learning the trade, be it from vocational schooling, apprenticeship, or some combination thereof.  They have to acquire the skills somehow.  When they take their licensing exams, or whatever plumbers do to get licensed, they have spent considerable time learning their trade.  The licensing just says that knowledgeable people in their field have evaluated the plumber and deemed him or her as competent enough to upgrade your plumbing without flooding the basement.

That has no impact on people earning a minimum wage, as for example wait staff or other jobs, where due to job availability the workers in point of fact have skill levels that far exceed the requirements of those jobs. 
So you admit that the job requirements are low.  In other words, the job is a low-skill or unskilled labor.  Answer me this:  When an overqualified person takes a job, does the employer pay for the employee's skills, or the work product they produce?

There is in fact no justification for anyone to work a 40 hour work week, and not make a wage on which they can live. 
Which is why said person should learn a marketable skill and/or gain experience so they can justify the higher wage he or she earns, in line with the quantity and quality of the work product he or she outputs.

To contrast the base wage with other jobs is falsely to equate apples and oranges.
To compare low-skill and unskilled jobs with high-skill jobs is the false equivalency.

Over half a million or more workers earning minimum wage have college degrees — like you do. They are underemployed. Half are women, and half are over the age of 24. It is not accurate to characterize these jobs as entry level minimum skill any longer. Rather the current minimum wage, when adjusted for purchasing power (inflation etc) is LOWER than it was in the 1960s.
Why do progressives always whine about unfair life is?  Did they not hear or heed that lesson from their parents?  Yes, it sucks that people with college degrees are flipping burgers.  But I would ask what sort of degrees these people have that they can't effectively market themselves in an economic downturn.  I would ask if they had a plan "B" for when their niche degree failed to land them a good-paying job.  My ex-girlfriend sat for and passed the Minnesota Bar Exam in 2007, along with 600 other new lawyers.  She quickly learned that in the legal business, it's not about what you know, but who.  She clerked for a judge for a lot longer than is common before securing a junior prosecutor position, or associate position at a law firm.  Ultimately, she moved to Texas and is working as an insurance agent now, a far cry from her goal of being an intellectual property attorney.  She learned that in Minnesota, with some 500 new lawyers being admitted to the bar every six months, that supply simply outstripped demand for her skill set.

Conservative policies since then are largely responsible for the stagnation in wages and the increase in wealth and income inequality.
 Come now, you don't get to make blanket statements and then not back them up.  How are conservative policies at fault?  The sub-prime mortgage fiasco is partly the responsibility of reckless lending, encouraged by a meddlesome government that thinks it's unfair that some people can't buy houses.  Again, life is not fair.  In its attempt to create fairness, both the government "watchdogs" and predatory/reckless lenders not only failed to help people buy houses and stay in them, but the policies resulted in a sudden dumping of real estate on the market.  Great if you're a first-time home buyer with the means, lousy if you're a homeowner responsibly paying his or her mortgage, only to suddenly end up upside-down on the mortgage when your house loses a huge chunk of its value.

If you really believe in capitalism and free enterprise, you would demand that employers pay an adequate wage.
Who sets this adequate wage?  Who defines what adequate is?  The dollar value?  What criteria are used to determine this value?  What mathematical formula?  How much emotion goes into it?

The determination of this value, I've always felt, is a contractually-negotiated number between employee and employer.  That's what capitalism is.  That's what free enterprise is.  What makes the enterprise free is that the employer is free to decide what wage he or she is willing to pay to an employee for the work product, and the employee is free to negotiate for more or seek employment elsewhere.

Because when they do not, instead the balance of what is required comes out of your pocket, just a different pocket, in the form of health care subsidies, nutritional supplement subsidies,and other subsidies that we ALL pay towards. There is no legitimate reason that someone working at Walmart, making them quite large profits, should not be paid adequately, but instead have to rely on food stamps to make ends meet, for example.
Every time the minimum wage is raised, the employers operating on the thin profit margins have a couple of options:  Raise their prices, which endangers the business' life expectancy; Fire employees to cushion against the increased labor cost (and likely replace the employees with automation); or close their doors.  In two of the three scenarios, employees end up as beneficiaries of those same subsidies you're trying to get them off of, only now there's more of them.

We need to require that businesses operate with adequate wages. If they can’t then they need to revise their business model to pay their employees.
Wow, quite the arrogant statement.  What makes you an authority on how a specific business runs, and how many local, state, and federal laws they're required to comply with to stay in business?  But I'm not surprised:  Progressives are enigmatic mixture of arrogance with benevolence (in spending other people's money that is).

And before yo go off on your usual whine about teens and entry level jobs, other countries have show a better solution than stiffing workers on decent pay; they offer a ‘junior’ minimum wage for those who are teens, making a more competitive job market for people in those age brackets, without stiffing adults.
Other countries may be able to do that, but in this country, that's called age discrimination.  If a fast-food joint has a choice between a teen and a senior citizen, which do they hire?  The senior citizen who's likely to have a more business-like attitude and work ethic?  Or the teenager with the energy to work the longer or harder shifts and ability to learn how to more quickly work the cash register?

It’s been pretty clear that higher minimum wages result in economic growth and better stability, and that many businesses, like Costco, are thriving while doing so, even when they are in direct competition for the low-ballers like Walmart.
The thing is they are not in direct competition.  Wal-Mart and Costco cater to different groups of customers.  Here is an excellent dissection of that false equivalency, courtesy of Forbes:

No one wins with low minimum wages.
Well, an employer who requires unskilled or low-skill labor does.

It is another failure of conservative economic policy.
Paying people what they're actually worth, instead of what someone arbitrarily decides they're worth, is a failure?

15 February 2015

Snl @ 40

To Jane Curtain, re your comment on Blondes reading "fake news ": Jane, you ignorant slut!

Tell me again, Jane, the network you're on, didn't their anchor just got suspended for 6 months for lying.  What's that about people on glass houses?

Fuck you, Jane Curtain.