This is not a political site. This is an anti-political site. We agree with the goals of individual liberty, free markets, and peace.

12/31/11

Putting a Match to the Leaves We Raked in 2011

As the final leaves fall off the 2011 tree, it's time to jump into the pile and make a few observations about what we raked up here at WhatWeThinkandWhy this past year.

I'm fairly certain that almost everyone who reads this blog was irritated (at a minimum) with something I wrote or something I posted in the sidebar this year. It's not surprising since I picked on Democrats and Republicans with almost equal relish.

Okay, I picked on Democrats more, but only because they are the ones who have made the most progress in the war on freedom lately. Republicans, who regularly fail at whatever they try to do, haven't been able to accomplish that part of their agenda recently. In that regard, gridlock in 2011 was a wonderful thing.

The so called "progressives" (most of whom decided they don't want to be called "liberals" anymore after their stepchildren Fannie and Freddie were shown to be the biggest cause of the housing bust and the ensuing financial chaos) took as much of an intellectual beating on this site as my old brain could muster. But so called "conservatives" who, like their hero GWB, are not really conservatives at all, also got pounded whenever I got the chance. People like Mitt Obama were my most aimed at targets, but since there were so many of them, the accuracy wasn't as good as I would have liked.

So let's look back at some topics that were addressed:

In January we took a look at education and Obama-care.

In February it was taxes and hypocritical politicians from the Republican side.  It also was the month that I made the second most popular post this blog has ever published. It was titled I Was Not Trying to Find Paradise, I was Trying to Escape Hell.

In March I beat on Obama a few times (mostly in a lighthearted way) and praised Ike while concentrating on politicians again.

April was a pretty big month during which some of the most viewed posts were made. We poked more fun at Obama, introduced Gary Johnson and the beginning of the Ron Paul candidacy, and then got serious about budget and monetary blunders before ripping Republicans again. The most important post of the month concerned the imbecilic notion that the country can tax its way out of the debt crisis and featured a terrific video (still appearing on the sidebar) which shows graphically, even to the mathematically and philosophically challenged, exactly why that is so.

May addressed health care lunacy and the issues of social security, medicare and why socialism in general is adolescent. It also was the month when I wrote what I think was my best effort of the year. It was a piece about the childish notions the electorate has come to embrace and why grow-up time is here for sure. It was also the most widely read piece and people from all over the world continue to hit the page almost daily after finding it in a Google search.

June revisited entitlements again and a post about Gary Johnson garnered a ton of interest again as well.

July, August and September are my busiest golf months and most of the posts concerned different politicians and their ideas, good and bad.

October was a month for exposing media incompetence, exploring the goofy OWS movement, and a well read piece about an important issue concerning our rights, capital punishment and the frightening developments in unconstitutional governance. 

November featured a series of interviews with Thomas Sowell, which many of you enjoyed if  private email remarks are an accurate judge. For some reason most of the readers of this blog won't help me out by "voting" in the small polls on the sidebar concerning their enjoyment, or lack thereof, of content in the main section where the posts are found. Oh well, I guess I'll never figure that out. The month also had one of the best received posts of the year. It was titled History, Music and Redemption and people loved the story of the old hymn Amazing Grace. Perhaps it was well received because it lacked any political content.

December wrapped it all up with some videos concerning the Paul candidacy and one important post about how we just lost some of our most important rights. The right of Habeas Corpus was legislatively eliminated. I hope you were alarmed by that piece, but I suspect most people who read it have already relegated the issue to the recesses of their memories. It's hard enough to believe what happened and even harder to keep focusing on it. As a memorable line from a movie went, "Sometimes I think the shit comes down so heavy I need to wear a hat." So we just put on our hats and try to forget news like the post delivered. That's human nature I guess.

In another recent development, I was asked to write for another website on a formal basis and I agreed to do so. The site is The Left Coast Rebel and I have already written a few things for them. That makes three sites (including this one) where my "stuff" is "published."  The Humble Libertarian is the other. So for better or for worse, more people are exposed to my opinions, which are hardly unique, and my writing, which has improved but still remains dreadful on occasion.

A few companies have actually sent me money after reading some of my posts and deciding that having a few links to their sites on old posts that have related content would benefit their clients. That is the reason  for the "Tip Jar" on the sidebar that some of you might have noticed recently.

They paid me via that "Tip Jar" and it wouldn't hurt my feelings if you felt led to drop a few bucks in there as well. I'm sure most of you tip bartenders and waitresses far more for far less effort. (I know I do.) Writing and editing this content is a lot more work that it looks like. But since I do this for the love of liberty, the future of my offspring, and the enjoyment it brings to me personally, a few bucks is just an extra kiss anyway. But who doesn't like kisses? The money is just the lipstick on my editorial collar.

The year end is also another opportunity to thank all of the people who helped the site be better than it otherwise would be. Some sent the articles and pictures that ended up as ideas for some of the subject matter and others like Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute and Wes Messamore of the Humble Libertarian  graciously allowed us to re-publish some of their work because of their love of liberty and country.

Special thanks to Jim Lakely of the Heartland Institute for giving us the heads-up on published research articles before they become old news. Cato and Heartland are two of the most important and successful organizations ever to dedicate themselves to returning this country to its original intent, partly by exposing the nonsense that passes for contemporary wisdom nowadays. I treasure whatever help I get from them. It is my hope that in some small way I have helped them too.

Lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't thank my unpaid proofreader for keeping the secret that I can't spell worth a damn and that I make the same punctuation errors endlessly. If my stuff is even partly readable it because of her patience. It's only a part time job for her. Her real job is to be my wife, a much tougher job and one that requires even more patience.

So that's the heap of  "leaves" we raked up here last year. I hope you found value in the content. I hope it made you laugh sometimes and pissed you off sometimes. But mostly I hope you didn't get so pissed off at me that you won't feel led to keep supporting this site. I'm even crazy enough to hope you recommend it to your friends when we rake up something important.

Here's wishing you all the best for the year 2012. It's sure to be one of the most important one in our lives.

12/23/11

Christmas Tradition

With Christmas upon us it is time to temporarily put aside the presentations of the concepts and ideas that have inspired this blog to exist.

The last few years I have put videos on the sidebar of some of my favorite Christmas music performed by artists whose renditions I thought were top notch. And last year after a friend sent me the one below which shows a planned "flash mob" presentation of the Hallelujah Chorus performed at the food court of a shopping mall it quickly became a favorite. Many of you have seen it.

As often as I have watched it, I never tire of listening to the superb voices of the 100 or so performers. So I have decided to make it a tradition on the blog.

From my family to yours, we wish you the happiest Christmas possible and we have the highest hope that next year will bring you blessings in abundance.

12/20/11

Leno and Ron Paul on the Tonight Show - Conclusion

Here are the last three full segments of the interview we started yesterday. Please leave your "vote" on whether you found them useful in the poll on the right. It only takes a second and it's totally anonymous. I have received several comments that the information is more clear than in the debates, which relatively few people have watched.






12/17/11

Jay Leno Interviews Ron Paul on the Tonight Show - Part One

New poll results 12-19-11

After missing the Tonight Show appearance of Ron Paul the other night, perhaps because I haven't watched a late night talk show in a few decades, I stumbled upon these videos and it occurred to me that it was likely that many of you might have missed it too.  And also having been informed by readers that the series of interviews of Dr. Thomas Sowell that we ran here recently was well received, it seemed like a fit when I came across these YouTube videos of the interview.

We may be able to learn more about a candidate's positions in this kind of a setting than from a "gotcha contest" masquerading as a debate. Of course it has to be done correctly or it can turn into a circus or a love fest. After watching part one it seems this one is neither, so let's give it a go to see if we can learn anything of use.

Most of the Republican debates so far have been more political theater than anything else. It can be argued that on that level they have had some success. But I'm not sure that they have succeeded as well at being a device for shedding light on a candidate's positions and vision for leading the executive branch of our federal government.

Here is part one. Please let me know in the poll box on the right if you find it/them to be useful or enlightening.

12/15/11

Just in Time for "Bill of Rights Day", The Police State Has Arrived In America


Do you think the title to this piece is over the top? I'm sure some of you do. But I can assure you that I'm serious. And as you celebrate Bill of Rights Day today (12-15) you might want to give some thought to the irony of what is going to happen to one of those rights as things unfold on the glorious national holiday that no one has ever heard of.


There are quite a few fundamental rights that we all used to take for granted because we lived in a "free" country. Many of those rights have been watered down so much by various laws that they have effectively been taken away from us. The list is pretty long, but even if there were just one item on it, it would be too long for crazy, inflexible people like me.


The President is about to sign into law a power he has coveted for some time. You can read what others are saying,The Guardian in the UK has an excellent piece.  The vast majority of Americans are clueless about what just happened in congress and even if they did know, I'm not convinced they would care. 


Just as many were not opposed to rampant wiretapping in the past, because "if you don't do anything wrong, you have nothing to fear", many will not be alarmed by this new law because, "I'm not a terrorist, so the government won't revoke my right to a fair trial by a jury of my peers."


In case you were distracted by events in the Russian elections recently, I'll tell you what you missed here at home that might remind one of what happens routinely in Russia. The right of Habeas Corpus was just suspended.


As part of the defense authorization bill that funds the US military, the President himself can decide to detain anyone, American citizens included, indefinitely - perhaps at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - if he suspects that they are a terrorist.  And he would use the military itself to do so. On suspicion alone, no formal arrest, no rights given, no attorney, no arraignment, no trial, no judge, no jury. 


People as diverse as Senator Rand Paul and Senator Dianne Feinstein opposed this bill, the latter saying; "Congress is essentially authorizing the indefinite imprisonment of American citizens, without charge," she went on, "We are not a nation that locks up its citizens without charge."


But those that prevailed, led by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, argued otherwise. The latter saying; “It is not unfair to make an American citizen account for the fact that they decided to help Al Qaeda to kill us all and hold them as long as it takes to find intelligence about what may be coming next,” remarked Graham. “And when they say, ‘I want my lawyer,’ you tell them, ‘Shut up. You don’t get a lawyer.’”


Even Comedy Central got this one right when they summed it up by saying; "while the Bush administration just assumed that the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force empowered them to imprison people without charges, the Obama administration will have these provisions formally codified. Rule of law, baby!"


So, happy Bill of Rights Day. You needn't worry too much right now about whether you personally will be detained indefinately and denied your rights as an American citizen. Most likely, you will not be. What will happen in the future is anyone's guess.
  
But if you are as concerned about this as I am, and if someone asks you what state you live in, just answer, Police. That way you can go "over the top" with me without taking the trouble to explain it all.

12/14/11

You have to Balance Your Budget, the Government is not Different

As Ron Paul moves into a statistical tie for the lead in the Iowa polls a few weeks before the caucuses there, his son Rand Paul, US senator from Kentucky, rises on the floor to make a short speech about the balanced budget amendment to the constitution.

Speaking common sense (as he always does), he makes the case for fiscal sanity and the possibility of saving the country from committing monetary suicide. Absent dementia, even people who love big government programs (both on the right and the left) understand that you cannot go on borrowing money to pay for them indefinitely.

If Rand were running for President, he would be my first choice, but it isn't his time yet. So I keep hoping his father will gain the nomination and choose him as his VP candidate. It's a hope that seems far-fetched. But so did his father's chances just a few months ago.

Some would call me crazy, but I think they would win the election against Obama handily. Rand Paul connects with people on a personal level, even as his father's ideas connect in spite of his perceived grouchy demeanor.

No matter what happens in that election, before we can even think about regaining our lost freedoms, we need to avert a catastrophe that will certainly occur if the imbeciles in Washington don't seriously address the inevitable collapse of our monetary system caused by the massive, unsustainable national debt.

The budget deficits are the cause, the debt is the issue, and the spending is the actual problem. We must have balance to survive as a nation, just as your household needs balance for you to survive as a family.

12/13/11

Some Anecdotal Evidence That Jobless Benefits Make Things Worse

Kudos to Dan Mitchell over at International Liberty for finding this letter to the editor in the Marietta Times from an employer who was actually trying to hire people to expand his business, but has been thwarted by the state government's unemployment insurance program (which recently turned into a federal giveaway program). Dan wrote a blog post about the phenomenon this morning, and it's well worth the few moments spent reading it because it has some excellent links to information about what he describes as the "perverse impact" that unemployment "insurance"* has on actual employment. 


As I have previously explained in an earlier, well read piece titled  The Best Place to be Poor anecdotal evidence can be used to mislead people. But it always has some truth to it as well, and it's often a good way to illustrate a point. In this case, the letter describes what happened to one construction company when it tried to expand last year and hire some new workers to do so. Here are some excerpts to start you off:

"The plan was initiated, the additional contracts were signed up and then we set out to hire the employees. Little did I know that attempting to hire the employees needed, which I had thought to be the easiest part, would turn out to be a nightmare if not impossible. I'm sure that reading this you will be almost as surprised as I was directly experiencing it.
My experience: Before 2009 if our company advertised for an open position, on average we would get 20 to 30 applications, interview six to eight of the applicants, and hire one or two, based on the quality and potential of the candidates. This process has been deteriorating dramatically since 2009 and now at the end of 2011 it has completely hit bottom. Of all the applications that we have received this year, when asked why they were seeking a job with us, one out of three answered: my unemployment is running out and I have to go back to work. Earlier this year after I hired two new full-time employees, went through our company's orientation process, fitted them with our work clothing and booked them to start within a week, they both quit. One called ahead of the start date to apologize but wanted to inform us he would not be coming in because the government had just extended unemployment benefits again. The second one just did not show on his first day and when I called him he said he couldn't come in now because unemployment had been extended and he was making almost as much as we were planning to start him out with. If this is not frustrating enough to those of us that provide jobs and pay taxes let me give you my last two attempts this year." 
As you can see, no matter what you read that informs you to the opposite, common sense tells you that people would rather sit on their ass (if they are getting paid to) than answer to a boss and be held accountable for their contributions. It's just easier. And when it comes to sense, the common type is usually the best kind.
It's just one reason that government benefits, while trying to make things better, often make them worse.

* (quotations on the word, insurance, are mine)

12/7/11

The Government Has an Erection For You

As I wrote recently in an article for The Left Coast Rebel titled A Liberal Dose of Viagra , Chris Matthews may have lost that tingle up his leg for Barack Obama. But many other people on both sides of the political spectrum have not lost their "excitement" for big government even in this era of pretend austerity. For those that love the government gift-machine, the times have been very good indeed.

As to the title of this piece, you read it right. It seems the decision makers in the Medicare division of the cradle to grave government bureaucracy decided to ask our older male citizens if they were still able to "firm up" the deal. And if their medical records indicated they needed a little help, they could be provided with “Male Vacuum Erection Systems".  An "erector set" of sorts for the white hair crowd, also known as a penis pump. And just in time for Christmas!

Actually, it's been going on for many years, not just during the holiday season, but I couldn't resist. However, I did resist putting a picture of an actual penis pump on this post instead of the family friendly one you see.

It seems that over the last ten years the price of this equipment has been rising with the anatomy. (Artificial demand will do that to things.) In 2001 it only cost the taxpayers 11 million to help the geezers get it up to snuff but by 2010 the cost had risen (no pun intended) to 47 million.

And as Everett Dirkson once said, a few million here and a few million there and pretty soon you are talking about real money! The cost to taxpayers by the end of this year will surpass a whopping Quarter-Billion dollars. 

All this information came to me from our friends over at the Heartland Institute when Jim Lakely, the Director of Communications at that fine think tank gave me a heads up via email that the article by Benjamin Domenech on this subject was being published in The Heartlander today.

Unfortunately, before I could "get to press" on this piece, Matt Drudge broke the story with a link to the article this morning. It really ticks me off when a tiny site like the Drudge Report gets the drop on my huge blog, even when I have a head start.

But it got me to thinking; If the government wants one old guy to get excited, they could just talk Drudge into putting a link on his website to WhatWeThinkAndWhy and the country could save plenty on Male Vacuum Erection Systems. At least for one old blogger. And just in time for Christmas!

12/5/11

A Tough and Smart Kid - Thomas Sowell, Part Five

Today we take a look at the fifth and final video in our series with Thomas Sowell.

I hope you have enjoyed the series. If so please leave a comment or enter an answer in the little poll on the right so I can decide whether to run similar series in the future on other interesting and important people who are not normally covered by the main stream media. There are many who are not widely known outside of "freedom" circles.

In this final part of the interview he answers questions on a range of issues including Obama's failed presidency, who might replace him, and whether it matters. We get a good sense of who Sowell is and what shaped his life. He finishes with his advice for young people today. They would do well to heed that advice, but then again, so would we all.