Animal’s Daily Soda Tax News

Oh, Chicago – or to be precise, Cook County.  What funny predicaments these metro areas get themselves into.  It seems a while back some Cook County pol got the bright idea to put a tax on carbonated beverages – and that has proved the biggest mistake since Julius Caesar walked alone into the Roman Senate building one March day.  Excerpt:

When Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle first floated the idea of a pop tax to commissioners last October, a big part of her pitch was an appeal to their sense of self-preservation.

“We said to people, ‘We’re going to take one tough vote in the next three years, that’s it. Then we’re done,'” said Preckwinkle, making a reference to the financial stability the new money would bring. “And needless to say, that’s very attractive when you have to run for election.”

As political calculations go, this one backfired in a big way.

A botched rollout coupled with a huge public backlash fueled by general tax fatigue and the beverage industry’s well-funded pushback campaign has made the pop tax the biggest issue in county government in nearly a decade.

Now a repeal vote is slated for next month, and several commissioners could find themselves fighting for their political lives next year. So could Preckwinkle, who a few months ago seemed like a shoo-in to win her third and final term despite pushing through the soda tax on top of a 1-percentage-point sales tax increase in 2015.

“It’s really simple,” said Commissioner Sean Morrison, a Palos Park Republican and the lead sponsor of the repeal measure. “It’s going to come down to an up-or-down vote and, at the end of the day, the residents are tellin’ ’em ‘Can the tax or can the commissioner.’

I’d be tempted to say that this sets a new level of stupid, but unfortunately I can’t – not about Cook County.  Not about the Chicago metropolis.

This line from the story is telling:

At the same time, Preckwinkle has not been shy about promoting the tax as a public health benefit.

In other words:  “It was for their own good.”

How many government oversteps have been implemented with the disclaimer “it was for their own good”?  This is another such.

I’m dead-set against sin taxes of every stripe.  Whether they be levied against unapproved foodstuffs, drinks (alcoholic or otherwise), sex toys or any other stuffs and sundries that, when used, do no harm to any other than the user.  This attempt by Cook County is just more high-handed moralizing by “public servants” presuming to make choices for the population at large in the name of enhancing revenues.  It’s good to see the citizenry slapping these intrusive pols down.

 

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

The weekend just may not have seen the world end, but it did see yr. obdt. flying home to Colorado for a weekend, a pleasant break from the peripatetic nuttiness of Silicon Valley.  Unfortunately Mrs. Animal is in Michigan visiting the two college kids, so I ended up hanging out with our son-in-law.  We went out to his Dad’s place on the eastern plains and burned up a fair amount of ammo.  I checked the zero on Thunder Speaker in anticipation of next month’s deer and elk hunt, and after a comment that he’d never fired a rifle of that power (.338 Win Mag) I let the son-in-law take a couple shots off the bench.

Thunder Speaker on the bench.

Unfortunately he wasn’t used to the stiff recoil that Thunder Speaker delivers, and ended up taking a whack from the eyepiece of the scope.  Oops.  But, as I told him, there are few dedicated shooters of hunting-caliber rifles that haven’t ended up with a case of Kaibab Eye at one point or another.

But the fun part of the day was when the e-e-e-e-e-e-evil AR-15 came out.


Yup.  That was fun.

Rule Five GMO Nutballery Friday

ONE DAY UNTIL THE END.

OK, now that this is out of the way, let’s spend what some nut thinks is our last day on earth talking about 9 stupid arguments against genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.  Excerpt:

When discussing and writing about GMOs, many arguments are put forth on why they are “bad” and should be avoided. However, many of these are not about GMOs, but rather, are issues that we’re facing in modern agriculture and in our economy. In this post, I examine nine common reasons I’ve encountered for opposing GMOs that are much broader in scope.

Transgenesis, or the method used to make most GMOs, is a tool and it makes no sense to oppose a method with broad applications. It’s like opposing electronics as a category because you don’t like Microsoft or because Apple dominates the portable music electronics business. In fact in the comments section of an article just written in the NY Times about GMOs, you’ll see the reasons below being listed time and time again.

Here are a couple of my particular favorites, with my comments:

5) GMOs are being made by Big Ag to line their pockets. Unless your problem is with making money in general, then this doesn’t make much sense. Of course agribusinesses want to make money. Why would any corporate enterprise embark on a project where they think they’d lose money?

The proper response to this is “duh.”  Of course corporations exist to return profits to their shareholders; every corporation, everywhere, since the 16th century has existed to do that.  But it’s a fundamental law of the universe that whenever someone starts of an argument with a catch-phrase like “Big Ag,” or “Big Oil,” or “Big Anything,” that you can safely disregard anything else that they say.

2) GMOs promote a monopoly. Every time I see this, I think that someone over at Dow Agro is cackling. I work in a field in biotech where a single company has between 70-80 percent  of the market. Google web searches are used almost 70 percent of the time. Android has 80 percent of the market in operating systems for smartphones. But strangely enough, I’ve never seen a “March against Google”.

Anti-GMO’ers using this argument, as the author points out, almost seem to revel in their own hypocrisy.  It’s as deliciously stupid as the would-be “anarchists,” none of whom would survive ten minutes in a real anarchy, railing about “corporations” and “capitalism” via social media posts on their iPhones and sipping a latte from Starbucks, all the products of the world’s most successful capitalist culture.

Here’s the troublesome fact: Every modern crop planted and raised for human use has been genetically modified.  Corn was bred from a Central American grass called teosinte.  Potatoes were first raised up from a humble tuber in Peru.  Every human crop has been genetically modified – by selective breeding, by hybridization, and more recently, by direct genetic modification.

So why should we cease agricultural innovation now, in response to the bleatings of the ignorant?

GMOs have the potential to feed the world.  Drought- and pest-resistant crops, crops with enhanced yields per acre, crops that can grow in poor soils – the Third World clamors for such advances.

It’s ridiculous that science-illiterates in the developed world would deny them those advances due to idiotic arguments like the ones presented in this article.

Animal’s Daily Armored Column News

TWO DAYS UNTIL THE END.

On the surface, this appears logical:  To Defend Europe, NATO Must Deploy More and Better Armored Forces.  Excerpt:

The U.S. Army is in a somewhat better position than its NATO allies when it comes to the size of its tank park of approximately 6,000 Abrams main battle tanks. It also has 14 fully formed Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCT) each of which consists of Abrams, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzer artillery plus supporting vehicles. However, the Army believes that a heavier brigade is better, so it is converting one of its infantry brigades into an ABCT.

But almost all Army ABCTs are based in the continental United States, thousands of miles away from Europe. The only two formations based in Europe are relatively light units, the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, equipped with Stryker Infantry Fighting Vehicles, and the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. The U.S. Army is working on ways to maximize its presence in Europe without recreating massive fixed infrastructure.

The Russian Army, which inherited most of the Soviet Union’s massive arsenal of over 50,000 tanks, has slimmed itself down to around 2,800 modern main battle tanks in active units plus another 12,000 in reserve. Most of these are positioned in western Russia facing NATO. Moreover, the Russian Army has reaffirmed its commitment to the tank and to heavy armored fighting forces with the re-creation of the multi-division 1st Guards Tank Army (1st GTA), an offensive unit once stationed in East Germany opposite U.S. forces on the Fulda Gap. The 1st GTA consists of some 500 to 600 tanks, 600 to 800 infantry fighting vehicles and 300 to 400 artillery pieces.

Let’s take a good look at that headline:  NATO should deploy more armor in Europe.

Part and parcel of President Trump’s international swamp-draining has involved calling on our NATO allies and other UN nations to pay their damned fair share.  This should especially apply to NATO, as several of the big players have not been living up to their treaty obligations; as for the UN, I’d rather see the U.S. withdraw from that irretrievably corrupt clubhouse for despots and tell them to get the

Part of the reserve force?

hell out of New York.

Let the Brits, the Belgians, the French and the Germans build and field more tanks.  Since, according to Morgan Freeman, we’re now at war with Russia, maybe that old Cold War nightmare of a few thousand T-80s pouring through the Fulda Gap really will happen – maybe, say, just before our next Presidential election?

Ante up, European allies.  More armor is probably a good idea, but you need to get over the idea that America will endlessly foot the bill for Europe’s defense.

Animal’s Hump Day News

THREE DAYS UNTIL THE END.

Happy Hump Day!

It’s Hump Day, midway through the week that some nutbar claims will be all of our last!

So, with that being the case, let’s have an update on that suppressor issue.  The statistics are what makes this article interesting.  Excerpt:

Despite such incredible claims that, as Kristen Rand of VPC said in a press release dated June 27, “silencers are military-bred accessories that make it easier for criminals to take innocent lives and threaten law enforcement. Existing federal law has kept crimes committed with silencer-equipped firearms rare,” the number of crimes committed with suppressors is incredibly low.

Not to labor the point, but this will not be a surprise to anyone who has ever actually used one. If you’re going to commit a crime with your weapon, fitting a suppressor will actually make this much more difficult. As Jeremy Mallette, social media director for Silencer Shop in Austin, told guns.com back in August, suppressors add considerable length to any firearm – making concealment impossible – and block the shooter’s front sight picture. “You can’t conceal a handgun anymore with one on and on a rifle, it would make the rifle very unwieldy,” he said. “That’s my biggest retort. (Some people) think silencers would be useful in these shootings and that’s just not the case.”

But let’s look at the numbers, for the sake of balance. Knox Williams, president and executive director for the American Suppressor Association, told guns.com that of the 1.3 million suppressors in circulation, his group can only fund 16 instances of criminal use since 2011. “That translates to the misuse of a glaringly low percentage of suppressors in circulation — roughly 0.000012308 percent,” he said.

That’s pretty low.

Saying that’s pretty low is like saying a single hydrogen atom is pretty small.  That percentage is so low that it is indistinguishable from statistical noise; in other words, so low as to be irrelevant.

I know I’ve beaten this long-deceased equine a fair bit already, but do you all remember when liberalized concealed-carry laws were passed in the several states?  Remember the doom and gloom predictions of the anti-gun left, of shootouts over parking spaces, armed road rage, blood and mayhem in the streets?  Now, after all is over on that issue but the shouting, the best statistics we have shows that you are safer, statistically, standing on a street corner next to a CCW holder than next to a cop.

The same will obtain here.  There will be dire predictions from the hysterical anti-gunners and, assuming this law passes – it should – none of them will come true.

Animal’s Daily Patrick Henry News

FOUR DAYS UNTIL THE END.

Moving right along:  do you, like me, think that the U.S. Constitution is probably the best-crafted governing document on the planet?  (I won’t say that our system is the best conceivable system of government; I will say that it’s the best possible system of government.)

It may surprise you to read that the Virginian Patrick Henry disagreed.  Excerpt:

(Henry) refused to attend the constitutional convention fearing it would create a central government that would override the states. He also feared that the precious liberty he risked his life for would be consumed by this super state.

He spoke to the Virginia ratification convention on June 5, 1788:

I have thought, and still think, that a full investigation of the actual situation of America ought to precede any decision of this great and important question.

That Government is no more than a choice among evils, is acknowledged by the most intelligent among mankind, and has been a standing maxim for ages. If it be demonstrated that the adoption of the new plan is a little or a trifling evil, then, Sir, I acknowledge that adoption ought to follow.

But, Sir, if this be a truth that its adoption may entail misery on the free people of this country, I then insist that rejection ought to follow. 

Gentlemen strongly urge its adoption will be a mighty benefit to us.

But, Sir, I am made of such incredulous materials that assertions and declarations, do not satisfy me. I must be convinced, Sir. I shall retain my infidelity on that subject, till I see our liberties secured in a manner perfectly satisfactory to my understanding.

He wanted the Bill of Rights embedded in the document itself, and not added as an afterthought as amendments. Oh by the way, Congress cannot abridge the right to free speech.

It is in the nature of government to grow ever more powerful and intrusive, and as we’ve seen here in the U.S. not even the most strongly worded prohibitions on that expansion of power will stop power-hungry pols from finding ways to expand that power.  The passage of the 17th Amendment, which began the direct election of Senators, removed the last real check on Imperial power by removing any representation the State governments had in the Imperial City.

And it’s been downhill since then.

But here’s the catch:  The Constitution wasn’t the first governing document our youthful nation implemented.  That document would be the Articles of Confederation, which resulted in a Federal government that was so limited as to be nearly incapable of any action and, really, would that be such a bad thing?

Maybe we should start a campaign to return to the Articles as our system of government.  Think any of our Imperial politicians would be on board?

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links, and to blogger pal Doug Hagin over at The Daley Gator for the linkback.

Now, moving on; it seems the world is ending on Saturday.  Uh HUH.  So let’s start that countdown:

FIVE DAYS UNTIL THE END.

I’ll update the countdown, thoughtful guy that I am, until Saturday.  At least we’ll have a Gingermageddon for that last day.  Excerpt:

A Christian numerologist claims a verse in the Bible proves that the world will end on September 23.

In Luke’s passage 21: 25 to 26, there is a quote which apparently matches the date of the Great American Solar Eclipse, when Hurricane Harvey hit and when Texas was flooded.

September 23 was pinpointed using codes from the Bible and also a “date marker” shown by the pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

But NASA has dismissed the claims, insisting the Planet X theory is merely a hoax.

(No shit.)

Conspiracies about the mysterious planet named Nibiru suggest it could be headed towards Earth to destroy it on September 23.

It was first mentioned in 1976 by author Zecharia Sitchin in his book The 12th Planet.

He believed the planet is home to ancient aliens called the Annunaki who he claimed created the human race.

As the date fast approaches, Christian conspiracy theorist David Meade expects says Nibiru, also known as Planet X, will pass the Earth – bringing with it volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and earthquakes.

Meade buys into the idea that a 2,000-year-old prophecy, which was described in the book of Revelation, will cause an apocalypse.

What a screwball.

Somehow, somewhere, this asshole is making money on this; bet on it.  The only other possible explanations are that he’s clinically insane or as dumb as a bag of hammers inside another bag of wet hair which has been repeatedly beaten with the stupid stick.

Why would I be so harsh?  Simple – the prophecy game has one rule:  Don’t make prophecies that can be shown to have been bullshit.  Especially don’t make prophecies that will be shown to have been bullshit within a week.

But, just in case, we’ll keep the countdown going.  Hold on to your butts, True Believers!

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