Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks to the Daley Gator for the linkage to our last Rule Five Friday, and to the Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

We find ourselves (not the royal ‘we,’ by the way, as Mrs. Animal is here as well) in the Boston area this fine October morning, as the Traveling Life has yr. obdt. teaching some classes on change management here today.  We’ll be here most of the week, so posts may be terse.

Still and all:  In the wake of an unspeakable atrocity in Oregon late last week, President Obama wasted no time in politicizing the murder of nine innocents.  Read Obama’s Empty Gun Control Promise.  Excerpt:

President Obama is tired of calling for more gun control after every mass shooting, and I am tired of explaining why that knee-jerk reaction is illogical. But he feels duty-bound to continue (“each time this happens, I’m going to bring this up,” he says), and I guess I do too.

Last night Obama gave an impassioned 13-minute speech, ostensibly in response to yesterday’s murder of nine people at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, by a gunman who died after a shootout with police. The president insisted that “modest regulation,” consistent with the Second Amendment rights of “law-abiding gun owners,” could “prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America.” But as Brian Doherty pointed out, Obama did not mention a single specific policy fitting that description.

That telling omission makes it pretty hard to buy Obama’s argument that anyone who opposes “common-sense gun-safety laws” has blood on his hands. “This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America,” he said. “We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.” If only we had done something, in other words, those people in Oregon would still be alive. But we are left to guess what that thing might be.

What that thing might be, is taking more liberty away from the law-abiding, on the off chance that one out of 160,000,000 of the law-abiding gun owners in the country might eventually end up being a nutbar.

Blue Monday Bonus.
Blue Monday Bonus.

Loathe as I am to politicize the Oregon shootings – although the President has already done so – let’s examine the incident dispassionately.  None – not one – of the “common sense gun laws” commonly promoted by statist pols would have prevented this.  The shooter, who we will let remain nameless, came by all of his guns legally; he would have passed any background check under every scheme so far devised for same.  Nobody is a murderous nutcase until they are, and no background check or other gun-control scheme so far touted by the statist Left would have prevented this.

This leaves the would-be gun banners with one option:  Seize some 300 million guns from roughly 160 million legal gun owners.  If one percent of those gun owners refuse to comply, that’s an army of 1.6 million armed citizens in open, armed rebellion – welcome to the Second Civil War.

Nothing President Obama advocates would have affected the Oregon atrocity in any way.  Not in the slightest.  But that won’t stop the Obama Administration from pushing an anti-liberty agenda on the bodies of the victims, will it?

Rule Five Friday

2015_10_02_Rule Five Friday (1)Dr. Thomas Sowell has some thoughts on the notoriously nutty San Francisco Bay area and its lack of “affordable housing.”  Excerpt:

One house in Palo Alto, built more than 70 years ago, and just over one thousand square feet in size, was offered for sale at $1.5 million. And most asking prices are bid up further in such places.

Another city in the Bay Area with astronomical housing prices, San Mateo, recently held a public meeting and appointed a task force to look into the issue of “affordable housing.”

2015_10_02_Rule Five Friday (2)Public meetings, task forces and political hand-wringing about a need for “affordable housing” occur all up and down the San Francisco peninsula, because this is supposed to be such a “complex” issue.

Someone once told President Ronald Reagan that a solution to some controversial issue was “complex.” President Reagan replied that the issue was in fact simple, “but it is not easy.”

Is the solution to unaffordable housing prices in parts of California simple? Yes. It is as simple as supply and demand. What gets complicated is evading the obvious, because it is politically painful.

One of the first things taught in an introductory economics course is supply 2015_10_02_Rule Five Friday (3)and demand. When a growing population creates a growing demand for housing, and the government blocks housing from being built, the price of existing housing goes up.

This is not a breakthrough on the frontiers of knowledge. Economists have understood supply and demand for centuries — and so have many other people who never studied economics.

The Bay Area’s political class (and, indeed, most of the Golden State’s governing class) seems to believe that good intentions can override this fundamental law of economics.  It’s too bad they are wrong; but it’s also inevitable that they are wrong.  Onerous zoning and 2015_10_02_Rule Five Friday (4)regulations have continued to drive housing prices through the roof in the Bay Area, and the only answer the city governments seem to have is to interfere with the market more, and more, and more.

This is a smaller scale and yet more extreme example of the kind of market meddling that resulted from Imperial meddling in housing markets due to such well-intentioned but stupid ideas as the Dodd-Frank law.  When  you artificially meddle with markets, the result is never good.

You’d think these people would learn.

2015_10_02_Rule Five Friday (5)Examples of this kind of silliness abound.  Price controls in the Nixon-Carter era led to gas shortages.  Attempts to solve the “every family should own their home” led to a housing bubble.  Excessive regulation of land use in California has, by restricting supply, wildly inflated housing prices.

Markets aren’t perfect.  But left to themselves, they almost always get things right eventually – no planner(s) can possibly match the efficiency of millions and millions of consumers deciding for themselves, freely, how best to expend their own resources.

Dr. Sowell concludes:  When more than half the land in San Mateo County is legally off-limits to building, how surprised should we be that housing prices in the city of San Mateo are now so high that politically appointed task forces have to be formed to solve the “complex” question of how things got to be the way they are and what to do about it?

2015_10_02_Rule Five Friday (6)However simple the answer, it will not be easy to go against the organized, self-righteous activists for whom “open space” is a sacred cause, automatically overriding the interests of everybody else.

Was it just a coincidence that some other parts of the country saw skyrocketing housing prices when similar severe restrictions on building went into effect? Or that similar policies in other countries have had the same effect? How “complex” is that?

It’s not complex: It’s supply and demand.  But it’s apparently too hard for Bay Area politicians to understand.

2015_10_02_Rule Five Friday (7)

Animal’s Daily News

bears-cute-awesome1-11Inspection of King Tut’s Tomb Reveals Hints of Hidden Chambers. Wow.   Excerpt:

Nearly a century after the rediscovery of King Tut’s tomb ignited a worldwide craze for Egyptology, new findings could turn out to be almost as stunning.

 On Monday, after a group of Egyptian and foreign archaeologists examined the famous tomb, Egypt’s antiquities minister confirmed that they found evidence suggesting the existence of two previously undiscovered rooms.  “This indicates that the western and northern walls of Tutankhamun’s tomb could hide two burial chambers,” minister Mamdouh Eldamaty told the Egyptian state press.

“To be honest, I feel numb,” Nicholas Reeves, the archaeologist who first proposed the existence of the hidden rooms, said in his Luxor hotel room, after inspecting the tomb. “This has been part of my life now on a daily basis for more than a year.”

Earlier this year, Reeves published a paper in which he claimed that the tomb of Tutankhamun, an 18th-Dynasty pharaoh who died around 1323 B.C., includes two doorways that were plastered and painted over.

To expand on this new (possible) discovery, let’s hear first from a noted expert on the Boy King:

 There is apparently some speculation that the additional rooms may include the grave of Queen Nefertiti.  Whatever they contain, it’s an amazing idea, when you consider that King Tut himself was uncovered in 1922 – the tomb has since been examined six ways from Sunday, until one new guy looks at it from a different angle, and then goes all Indiana Jones on it – and finds a whole new set of chambers nobody suspected.

Neat stuff!

Animal’s Hump Day News

2015_09_30_Hump Day
Happy Hump Day!

Guess what?  In spite of popular perception, violent crime rates in the United States continue to drop.  (Important note:  The recent summer of 2015 does not enter into this data.)  Excerpt:

Today the Federal Bureau of Investigation released its annual report on crime in America. In 2014, the FBI says, most crime rates continued to fall:

  • The overall violent crime rate declined slightly, dropping 1 percent from the previous year. The rate was 9.6 percent lower than five years before and 22.1 percent lower than 10 years before.
  • The rate for murder and non-negligent manslaughter was 1.2 percent lower than one year earlier, 6.1 percent lower than five years earlier, and 20.8 percent lower than 10 years earlier.
  • The rates for robbery, burglary, larceny, and car theft all continued to decline as well. Motor vehicle thefts showed the biggest reduction from 10 years ago, with the rate sliding 48.1 percent.  
  • The FBI’s talliers recently revised their definition of rape, making cross-year comparisons difficult. But using the older definition, the crime increased slightly from the previous year, with the rate increasing by 1.6 percent. It was still 4.7 percent lower than five years earlier and 17.2 percent lower than 10 years earlier.
  • The one other major crime rate that increased from 2013 to 2014 was aggravated assault, which went up 1.2 percent. It was still lower than five years earlier (an 8 percent drop) and 10 years earlier (20.1 percent).

HuntressWhat implications does this have for the law-abiding American gun owner?  Well, since legal gun sales skyrocketed in 2013 and 2014, you can consider this another nail in the coffin of the idea that legal gun ownership is somehow linked to violent crime.  It’s harder to draw a causal link to legal gun owners being in part responsible for the drop – there are too many other factors involved – but having law-abiding gun owners about certainly doesn’t hurt.

All this is of course icing on the Second Amendment cake as far as gun law is concerned, of course; our rights are not dependent on whether or not armed citizens have any impact on crime rates.  But it nicely refutes one argument of the gun-grabbers, and using data from the FBI, no less.  Thanks guys!

Animal’s Daily News

Grizzly-Bear-FaceThis just in from the always-worth-reading Dr. Victor Davis Hanson:  Ahmed and the Art of the Psychodrama.  Excerpt:

During Pope Francis’s parade in Washington, 5-year-old Sophie Cruz suddenly dashed up to the popemobile and handed His Holiness a note about the wretched plight of her illegal-alien parents from Los Angeles, who are apparently terrified of all the recent talk about deportations. The media loved the spontaneity and courage of 5-year-old Sophie.

But that was not quite the whole story. The entire event reportedly had been scripted for about a year by a group called “Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition,” which, in actuality, is not about immigration per se, but rather full rights for illegal immigrants. According to spokesman Juan Jose Gutierrez, the group had carefully planned Sophie’s dash: “We planned to do this from the moment we learned he was coming to the States….We have been working for a while now trying to sensitize the American public that dealing with immigration is not just dealing with the people who came in without proper documents but that we also have … countless children whose parents are undocumented.”

Using a 5-year-old girl under the false pretenses of a spontaneous outburst of emotion seems about as authentic as deliberately conflating legal immigration — the United States accepts more immigrants than does any other nation — with illegal immigrants who deliberately and knowingly break federal law to enter the U.S.

This is, after all, the age of the manufactured political narrative.  It’s not just about political correctness; it’s about dishonesty.  It’s about the elaborate kabuki theater that discourse in American culture has become.  That which is culturally acceptable is true and good, no matter the facts behind the case; that which is not culturally true and acceptable is false, no matter how events actually may have unfolded.  It’s a nasty, pernicious kind of dishonesty, and it is the rare individual in American political discourse that has the stones to challenge The Narrative.  That’s part of the appeal of a Donald Trump, who is largely seen as one how eschews the line of bullshit that passes for dialogue in American cultural issues.

brown-bear-1024x768Dr. Hanson concludes:   Apparently that crushing reality persuades some to seek a refuge from responsibility for their own fates by writing a false racist message, or constructing a fake racial identity, or concocting a savage and brutal frat rapist, or conjuring up a cadre of premodern Texan bigots masquerading as school officials who would destroy our next Steve Jobs simply because he is a Muslim.

Yet a politically correct fake world is still a fake world, and noble lies remain lies —  nothing more, nothing else.

You can’t really add anything to that.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

First up:  Our thanks to The Other McCain for the Rule Five Links, and to the Daley Gator for the pingback on our recent thoughts on Carly Fiorina.

An interesting weekend excursion took Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. to Wendover, Nevada, where we pulled a few handles and drank a few beers.  But the interesting part of the trip was just a few miles east of Wendover, where we crossed the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Lake Bonneville was a product of the last Ice Age.  When it drained suddenly (and catastrophically) through Red Rock Pass about 12500BCE, the remnant dried into what is now the home of the Bonneville Motor Speedway and a big flat plain of salt.

It’s an interesting piece of geological history.  Photos follow.

Rule Five Friday

2015_09_25_Rule Five Friday (1)Well, here’s a shocker (not):  Newsflash! Bernie Sanders Fans: All That “Free Stuff” Will Break the Middle Class.  Excerpt:

Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Similarly, it could be said that for liberals, how the real world works is indistinguishable from magic.

They want “free” birth control, health care, college, “Cash for Clunkers,” free housing for the poor and paid time off for women who are having a child. They want welfare with no preconditions for anyone who wants it, a $15 minimum wage and they want to open our borders to anyone who wants to come here illegally, have a child and live off the American people for the next 18 years.

2015_09_25_Rule Five Friday (2)Unfortunately, as Thomas Sowell has often said, “There are no solutions; there are only trade-offs.” Put another way, giving away “free” stuff may seem appealing, but it often has terrible consequences.

First and foremost among them, if you give too much away, you can go bankrupt. It’s not the least bit controversial to say that even with our current level of spending, we’re on pace to become Greece. You don’t have to take my word for it because even a diehard liberal socialist like Bernie Sanders admits that we can’t keep piling on debt.

“Everyone agrees that over the long-term we have got to reduce the record-breaking $13.7 trillion national debt and unsustainable federal deficit.”

Incidentally, our record-breaking debt is now up to almost $18.4 trillion 2015_09_25_Rule Five Friday (3)and Bernie Sanders is proposing another $18 trillion in spending over the next decade on NEW programs. That’s in addition to the deficit spending we’re already doing, all of which is theoretical because at some point in the next decade or two, no one will be willing to loan us any more money and our economy will splatter like a bug on a windshield.

Let’s interject a moment of realism here:  Bernie Sanders is not going to be the Democrat nominee, and he’ll never be President.  And that, True Believers, is manifestly a Good Thing.

Bernie Sanders repeatedly reveals his economic illiteracy, but his entire economic plan – such as it is – reveals the single most glaring flaw in his reasoning:  He has no idea, none whatsoever, how wealth is 2015_09_25_Rule Five Friday (4)created in a free society.  Even more, he is sadly ignorant of one important principle:  Wealth is not “distributed.”  It is created and earned.

Bernie Sanders thinks “wealth inequality” – an inescapable fact of the human condition – can be addressed by taking resources away from people who have earned them, and giving them to people who have not.

The article concludes:  You lose your job because the company you work for can’t make it with a $15 minimum wage, because of Obamacare costs, or if the company goes overseas because we already have the highest corporate tax rate in the free world – well, that’s too bad! Don’t worry about it though, here’s some “free” stuff for you. Sure, you’ll have to downsize your lifestyle, swallow your pride and cut back on your dreams, but at least it’s “free,” right?

2015_09_25_Rule Five Friday (5)We don’t need more “free” stuff in America; we need more opportunity! We also need to start putting the interests of the people who work hard, play by the rules and pay their taxes ahead of illegal aliens, refugees and the people who want something for “free.”

As the late, great Robert Heinlein said, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” When someone starts promising you one, smart people put their hands over their wallets and start looking for the catch.

Every single policy Bernie Sanders has advocated is anti-growth and anti-opportunity.  That’s no way to get out of our fiscal mess; it’s how we got into it in the first place.

2015_09_25_Rule Five Friday (6)

Deep thoughts, news of the day, totty and the Manly Arts.