Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

Deep thoughts, omphaloskepsis, and other random musings.

Animal’s Daily Brain Development News

Before we move on, go check out the latest in my Thirty-Something RIfle Cartridges series over at Glibertarians!

Now: Here is Complete Colorado’s Rob Natelson on another shot at the graduated age of majority.  Excerpt:

On December 20, President Trump signed legislation purporting to impose a single national age of 21 for selling tobacco products.

Obviously, the measure reduces the freedom of millions of Americans who are legally adults in almost every other respect—including (correctly or not) the right to vote. Moreover, setting minimum consumption ages is not a power the Constitution grants the federal government. The Constitution reserves it to the states.

The issue here, of course, is not whether tobacco products are safe. They clearly are not. The issue here is whether our Constitution and the freedoms it protects are safe. As this episode demonstrates, they clearly are not.

Regulating local sale and consumer use of products is an exercise of what lawyers call the “police power.” This phrase does not refer to your local police officers; it is an older use of “police” to mean “policy.” The police power is authority to adopt regulations to protect public health, safety, morals, and the general welfare. Under the Constitution, the states retain broad police power, with constitutionally-imposed exceptions.

By contrast, the Constitution grants the federal government only certain enumerated (listed) powers, including police power within Washington, D.C. and other federal enclaves and the federal territory. Outside those areas—as the Supreme Court has reiterated—the federal government has no general police power.

This is why when advocates of Prohibition sought to ban alcohol use, they did so by constitutional amendment.

Did you get that?  The Imperial government has no authority to meddle with what ages people are allowed to buy tobacco.  In the past, where drinking ages and so forth were concerned, the Imperial City set age expectations in a different manner – through extortion.  When the Imperial age limit of 21 was decided for alcohol, for example, the Imperial City threatened to withhold highway funding for states that did not meekly submit.

In an ideal world, Washington wouldn’t have this kind of hold over the states.  State highways should be state business, and if we are going to have a national highway net – as in, the U.S. highways and the interstate highway system – then either the Imperial City pays for them, or the states pay for construction and maintenance within their borders – no payment of tax money into the Imperial government to be doled back out piecemeal and oh, by the way, used as a cudgel to force recalcitrant states into submission with Imperial whims.

I’m notoriously irritated by the idiotic graduated-age-of-majority in our country, but I’m far more irritated by this kind of high-handed Imperial extortion.

Rule Five Cultural Regions Friday

Ever wondered what the United States would look like if it was broken up into several different nations, by cultural and not necessarily geographical lines?  Well, and of Business Insider may have some thoughts on that.

I found this interesting; this is the article’s map of North America, broken down by cultural regions (image taken directly from the linked article).

Excerpts, with my comments:

In his fourth book, “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures in North America,” award-winning author Colin Woodard identifies 11 distinct cultures that have historically divided the US.

“The country has been arguing about a lot of fundamental things lately including state roles and individual liberty,” Woodard, a Maine native who won the 2012 George Polk Award for investigative reporting, told Business Insider. “[But] in order to have any productive conversation on these issues,” he added, “you need to know where you come from.”

You also have to have some idea where you’re going and why; differing visions on that score are a big part of what the authors point out next.

Woodard also believes the nation is likely to become more polarized, even though America is becoming a more diverse place every day. He says this is because people are “self-sorting.”

“People choose to move to places where they identify with the values,”  Woodard says. “Red minorities go south and blue minorities go north to be in the majority. This is why blue states are getting bluer and red states are getting redder and the middle is getting smaller.”

Which self-sorting, I might point out, is a right guaranteed by the Constitution.  But here’s what’s interesting; here are the summaries of the upper Midwest, where I grew up, and the Mountain West, where I live now:

Settled by English Quakers, The Midlands are a welcoming middle-class society that spawned the culture of the “American Heartland.” Political opinion is moderate, and government regulation is frowned upon. Woodard calls the ethnically diverse Midlands “America’s great swing region.” Within the Midlands are parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska.

I have to strongly question any cultural grouping that can claim Iowa and New Jersey share much of anything, culturally.  Iowa is as the article states; mostly moderate politically, and government regulation is mostly frowned on (except where farm subsidies are involved.)   But New Jersey?  Government interference in all matters is welcomed and celebrated, and political opinions are anything but moderate; as evidence, just look at most of their laws and elected officials.

The conservative west. Developed through large investment in industry, yet where inhabitants continue to “resent” the Eastern interests that initially controlled that investment. The Far West spans several states, including Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Nebraska, Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Oregon, and California.

In the article, the authors point out that “California” as described herein does not include what is called “the Left Coast,” which encompasses Los Angeles, San Francisco, and indeed most of the west coast.  That being the case, this grouping I would broadly agree with; the West in this case also includes Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska.

What all this points up is something I’ve been saying for some years now: The differences dividing the nation today are cultural, and geographical, but not in the sense they were before the 1860-65 war.  Our differences today are geographical in a much finer-grained sense; look at the map, and you’ll see that the divides are largely major urban centers vs. everyone else.

If things ever got really nasty in this cultural clash, the major cities might have some hard lessons coming in how easy it is to eat when the outlying areas get pissed off enough to block trade.  That, folks, would be a damned unpleasant time, and while I think it’s unlikely in the extreme that things escalate to that point…  Well, I wouldn’t want to be in New York, Chicago, Detroit or San Francisco if it did.

Animal’s Daily Colorado News

Near Gore Pass.

I’ve lived in Colorado for a little over thirty years.  I moved to Colorado after coming off active Army duty (the first time) in 1989, because I wanted to live in the Mountain West, and the Denver area presented the best opportunity to find a job.  I don’t regret that move; I never have.  There’s a lot I still love about Colorado.  I love the mountains, the plains, the hunting, fishing, the outdoor opportunities; I love the 300+ days of sunshine a year.  There are many things I still love about Colorado.

This isn’t one of those things.  Excerpt:

In the last 20 years, Colorado’s population has increased by a little more than 1.5 million people. As of 2019, the state had 5.7 million residents.

“I think we’re probably going to get to 5.8 million [people] for 2020,” said Elizabeth Garner, Colorado’s state demographer.

Population growth slowed during the 2008 recession.

Since 2010, however, Colorado has welcomed about 700,000 new residents. On average, the state is growing anywhere from 70,000 to 80,000 people each year.

That said, it experienced a bit of a slow-down in 2019, when the population increased by about 67,000 over the prior year.

“Compared to the year before where we increased by about 80,000 — it’s about 13,000 fewer people in terms of total growth we’ve seen over that time period,” said Garner.

Much of the growth has been concentrated along the Interstate 25 corridor.

“Which is also where we’re creating all of the jobs. So it makes sense where we’re seeing the job growth and population growth,” Garner said.

According to state data, in the last two decades, most newcomers moved to the Front Range (about 91%) and nearly 8% decided to call the Western Slope, home.

For the record, I live an eastern suburb of Denver, which sits at the foot of the Front Range.

To be perfectly candid, Colorado has gone frickin’ nuts.  There always was a bean-and-granola set here, mostly in Boulder and some of the nuttier mountain communities like Aspen and Vail.  But the Denver/Boulder Axis is taking over the state, and the results are becoming more and more uncomfortable.

Look back on the Colorado that was.

Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. have long planned to retire elsewhere – and by elsewhere, I mean Alaska – but we may not wait now until we’re ready to retire.  Our kids that live in Colorado are growing restive as well, as they were raised to appreciate the blessings of liberty, which an increasingly left-leaning state government ever seeks to restrict.

Plenty of folks have told me I should stay, that I should fight for my state.  But part of the fight is knowing when you’re licked.  I think we’ve lost Colorado.  Thirty years ago, Colorado was South Wyoming.  Now it’s East California.  And that’s a shame.  But it’s increasingly looking like it’s time to vote with our feet.

Rule Five 2019 Reflections Friday

It’s hard to believe that 2019 is only a few days from being over.  It seems like we just got here.

The year began on a sad note with the loss of my Mom, only a few months after Dad left us the previous spring.  But my siblings and I chose, instead of mourning, to reflect on and feel good about the long, long, happy lives our parents had together in their seventy-one years of marriage.

And as if to show that the wheel always keeps turning, in October we welcomed a new grandson to the family.  This makes five grandchildren Mrs. Animal and I have to spoil, with the oldest graduating high school in a year and a half.  Grandparenting is, as they say, the revenge we get for having been parents; but I think it’s a lot more than that.  Being Grandpa is one of the more satisfying things I’ve ever done, along with being a Dad; fortunately I learned about both things from the very best.

A few things about 2019 were frustrating.  We spent too much of the year in the leftist’s paradise of New Jersey, although I have to admit I’m kind of fond of Raritan, where are temporary lodgings are located; if only it wasn’t in New Jersey it would be a nice little town.  As a result of this, I wasn’t able to spend as much time at the gun club as I would have liked, and the trips I did get to make out there to the trap stands tell me that my shooting has slipped a little.  I should have more time in 2020 to get back in that groove.

Because of that, there are probably a few high-country trout that lived to swim another day rather than ending up in my stream-side frying pan.  Let’s hope that changes in 2020 as well.

Mrs. Animal have started taking advantage of our empty-nester status to check some boxes off on our travel bucket list.  March saw us in Tokyo for a week; it’s odd that while I’m an unrepentant country boy with very little love for cities, there are a few big cities I have always enjoyed.  Boston is one.  Tokyo is another.  Fortunately Mrs. Animal is competent in conversational Japanese, which makes things a great deal easier.

In July we took advantage of the east coast location and drove up north of Montreal to the little town of Ste. Agnes du Mont in Quebec, up in the Laurentides.  While the fishing was disappointing, the folks were very friendly, the food and beer was great, and the country was beautiful.  Mrs. Animal got to practice her high-school French.  It was fun.  We’d like to go back.

So, looking ahead to this year:  2020 promises to be interesting.

We have some more travel plans laid on; details will follow, so look forward to some insights and stories from some interesting places.  Hint:  Our travelogues will probably include discussions of food and beer.

Loyal sidekick Rat and I are planning a black-powder elk/deer hunt down in southern Colorado this year, somewhere down along the New Mexico border; after last year we decided that a change of scenery was in order, and the September black-powder season comes along with some pretty nice shirt-sleeve weather.

The current project I’m on is going to last a while.  I’m expecting it to last at least through December of 2021, but our current lease on the temporary New Jersey digs ends in May.  We’re hoping that at this time we’ll be able to pull out of there and return home more or less full-time, with me spending maybe a week a month on site.  But I’m a long-time consultant, and one of the reasons I’ve been successful is that I will always do what’s best for the project, rather than what suits my own druthers; so, we’ll see.

In summary:  2019 was pretty good.  2020 promises to be better still.  Mrs. Animal and I both sure hope that every one of you True Believers will have a great 2020; and I do appreciate, very much, all of you.  Thanks for reading (even if you just came for the pretty girls and stuck around to read my ramblings) and thanks for sticking around.  We’ll try to keep up to snuff in 2020 and points beyond.

Happy New Year!

Animal’s Daily Sense of Community News

Before we start, make a note to head to Glibertarians and read the latest in my Allamakee County Chronicles – The Duck Blizzard.

Now then:  Even though I’m no more religious than a cat, I nevertheless found this interesting:  Religion Creates Community.  Excerpt:

So, in response to my students and their ideas, I want to share the findings from a new survey on Community and Society. The survey, published by the American Enterprise Institute, adds another layer to the relationship between religion, community, and empathy, and offers a rebuttal to the misguided proposition that religion plays little to no role in the formation of community. The numbers tell a powerful story, one in which religious adherents of all sorts are, in fact, far more connected and generous than their non-religious counterparts.

For instance, the survey asked a national sample of Americans about their connections to others. One portion queried if respondents felt close to anyone. Among respondents who said religion is important to them, 61 percent said they “often” felt close to others, with only 11 percent saying they rarely or never felt close to anyone. In contrast, an appreciably lower 43 percent of respondents who said religion was not important to them reported that they often felt close to others; 18 percent of these respondents stated that they rarely or never felt close to anyone. An almost identical gap emerged when respondents were asked if they felt “in tune with the people around you.”

Similarly, when asked about empathy and being able to identify and sympathize with others, 46 percent of religiously inclined respondents said they “often” can connect with others who understand them. Only 29 percent of non-religious respondents answered in the same fashion — a 17-point difference.

Now, I’m not going to critique the study; too many such start out to prove a position and use questionable assumptions.  I have no idea if this study is one of those or not and, honestly, I can’t be arsed to figure it out; that’s not the point I want to make.  Instead, first I’ll share an anecdote, then some opinions, which will no doubt be worth every penny you’ve paid for them.

My Mom, as I’ve noted here before, grew up on a small farm during the Depression.  A routine in her family’s life was church on Sunday; Mom never was particularly religious even as a girl, but she looked forward to Sunday mornings as that was often the only time small farm families saw neighbors, relatives, kin that lived only a few miles away but spent the rest of the week busily scratching a living from the earth.

So in that sense, I don’t know as it’s religion so much that built the sense of community they had; it was church. That may be a subtle difference, but it’s still a difference.

I think that any institution that attracts people around a common cause, belief, ethic or interest can foster a very similar sense of community.  My gun club, for me, serves a similar purpose.  When I spend a Saturday morning at the club to shoot a couple rounds of trap, I often spend more time in the clubhouse gassing with the other members than I do shooting, and that’s by choice; we’re all there because we have something in common, we are attracted to the Saturday morning trap range because we like to shoot, we like fine shotguns, and we like the camaraderie and the friendly joshing over who is and isn’t shooting well that day.

We’re social animals.  We need to be around other people, and generally enjoy being around people with whom we share something; age, background, interests and, yes, religion.  It’s natural and normal.  I’m no different.  While I’m not religious – and I differ from too many atheists in this – that doesn’t mean I don’t understand the value religion has in many people’s lives, and if it brings them peace and well-being in addition to this sense of community, well, that’s great.

It’s great to be part of a community.

Rule Five Soft Targets Friday

There have been a lot of pixels spent discussing two recent shootings at Pearl Harbor and Pensacola, both naval facilities; among the casualties in Pensacola were active-duty servicemen.

Now, today, I’m not going to discuss the backgrounds or motivations of the shooters, neither of whom I will deign to mention by name.  I’m not going to mention the actions of first responders.  I’m not going to talk about the weapons used.  All that has already been hashed over.

What I am going to talk about is this:  Why are our military bases soft targets for gunmen?

Military bases in the United States are, inconceivably, “gun-free zones.”  Bear in mind that these bases are populated by men and women who are trained in the profession of arms. 

At Pensacola, the shooter walked into classrooms and opened fire, assured that there would be no meaningful response for some time until local law enforcement arrived to save military servicemen.  In this instance the local law enforcement would seem to have done a good job, but my question remains:  Why was their response necessary at all?

At Pearl Harbor, the gunman attacked workers near the dry dock of the U.S.S. Columbia, an attack submarine to which the shooter was evidently assigned; he did so knowing that there would be no meaningful response until local law enforcement arrived, and even though in this case the victims were civilian workers, there were still service members in the immediate area.  Again, my question remains:  Why was their response necessary at all?

I’m particularly concerned about the Pearl Harbor incident, as a Los-Angeles-class attack submarine in dry dock sure seems to me like something you’d guard with armed Marines.  If there are any former Navy types among all of you True Believers out there, please confirm.

Service members are in the profession of arms.  They serve knowing this.  So why are our military bases rendered soft targets by the refusal of the DoD to acknowledge this fundamental fact?

Here’s my proposal:

All officers and all enlisted personnel above the rank of E-5 (I’d be willing to consider raising that to E-7 if necessary to get this done) should be each issued a personal sidearm, should be required to train with that sidearm, to qualify with it at least annually, and to carry it loaded at all times while in uniform and on duty on base.   The sidearm should literally be part of the uniform.

When off-duty and in civilian attire, I’m not sure if I’d require carry of the sidearm, although I’d certainly allow it, and further, I’d consider serving active military to be by default concealed-carry permit holders just as serving law enforcement officers are, and therefore able to legally carry a personal sidearm concealed anywhere they go.

Anywhere they go.

Further, gate guards at closed installations shall be armed.  Back in the late Nineties when I was reactivated for the Balkans fracas, I worked in a Top Secret facility in Heidelberg, Germany; that facility was guarded by three layers of MPs, the first with a holstered sidearm, the second with a loaded M-16, the third at the end of a long approach hallway with a loaded riot shotgun.  Gate guards at secure installations should be no less well armed, and roving patrols of MPs likewise.

Our service members are, as I’ve said, in the profession of arms.  It’s  staggeringly stupid that we can’t acknowledge that by ensuring they be armed, and it’s even more staggeringly stupid that on our domestic bases we deprive them of the very thing that would make our bases secure, and not the soft targets for gunmen that they are today.

President Trump, as Commander in Chief, could fix this with the stroke of a pen.  Where is he on this issue?

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!

Complete Colorado’s has a good idea; let’s educate newcomers to Colorado about what makes Colorado Colorado.  Yeah, good luck with that.  Excerpt:

Fortunately, some of us are beginning to recognize the need to educate newcomers about what it means to be a Coloradan. That was one reason I wrote an Independence Institute issue paper on our beautiful state song, “Where the Columbines Grow.” The paper not only discusses the anthem itself but focuses on its deep roots in Colorado history and values.

Similarly, the Care for Colorado campaign is targeted at familiarizing people with Colorado outdoor and environmental values.

Broader in scope is True Colorado. Only recently funded, True Colorado plans a wide public campaign consisting largely, although not solely, of videos explaining Colorado values and what it means to live here.

Wil Lemon, who with Seamas Mulvihill founded True Colorado, is a native Coloradan who has spent time in other states as well. He says he was motivated to work on newcomer education when he saw how out-of-state interests were promoting Denver’s Initiative 300. That measure would have made Denver a sanctuary for street people.

Lemon believes the initiative was a frontal attack on the Colorado values. It obviously would have undermined the value of self-reliance. But because of how it was written, he says, it also would weaken our tradition of neighborly assistance. Although voters trounced 300 by a margin of over 4-1, Lemon saw it as a warning of Colorado’s future: Unless newcomers were educated about Colorado values, we could lose many of the benefits that make this state so attractive.

While I love the idea, I’ve got news for Mr. Natelson – we’re already losing the values that make Colorado so attractive.

The latest crop of pols in the Capitol, along with well-funded – from outside Colorado – ballot initiatives are trying to chip away at TABOR.  One such initiative was only just fended off this very month.

Denver’s Initiative 300 would have turned the Mile High City into a smaller, landlocked replica of San Francisco, complete with feces and discarded needles.

Every year, more people flood into Colorado from failing blue states – and proceed to vote for the kinds of politicians and policies that made their states places they wanted to leave.

There’s no way to reverse it.  Not without a couple of Constitutional amendments that I’d hate to see have happen, as they would be a jackboot on the neck of what’s left of our liberty.  But, even so, Colorado, due to all these things, is rapidly becoming a not-so-free state.

Some folks would tell me to stay, to fight for my state.  My own inclinations, not long ago, would have agreed.  But I’m getting old.  I’ve fought my political fights.  I want to live out the rest of my life in something like peace and quiet.

Alaska, then.

Animal’s Daily Luxury News

I found this kind of interesting:  What Are Luxury Beliefs?  Excerpt:

It’s an intriguing thought, well worth our consideration.  If you have ever wondered why people with gobs of money, who have ascended the economic status hierarchy are so prone to mouth incoherent radical leftist tripe, Rob Henderson offers one response.

They wear their beliefs like status symbols. Henderson calls them luxury beliefs because they believe that being being politically correct, however much it damages the nation, is a way to assert higher social status.

I would add that in an age where the national media and its attendant mob shuns anyone who expresses a discordant non-radical belief, spouting luxury beliefs is good public relations. It protects you from being branded a bigot and being expelled from public society.

Were I to speculate I would add that people who have conquered the marketplace and who have amassed great fortunes seem to have the unfortunate tendency to think that they must now become philosophers. They look for new words to conquer and they set their sights on the marketplace of ideas. Thus, they turn to those professorial and media intellectuals who seem to have status within the world of ideas. And they allow said intellectuals to manipulate their minds, to persuade them to think politically correct thoughts. They resemble the dupes in the Socratic dialogues, the rubes who easily allow the great philosopher to make them think what he wants them to think… and to persuade them that they are independent thinkers.

There’s another side to this, and it ranges from astrophysicists (Yes, Neal DeGrasse Tyson, I’m looking at you) to movie stars to software developers – because they have grown famous knowing about one thing, they assume they know about many things.  The problem is it’s usually not true.  Dr. Tyson, for example, is rightly judged a knowledgeable astrophysicist, but I once heard him opinion about economics, a subject about which he plainly knows little.

But holding the opinions is one thing, and it would be of little import if the people described in the linked article didn’t feel the need to chatter about them so much.  The beliefs may be luxury beliefs, but that need to talk, that’s just virtue signalling – just plain, old, garden-variety virtue signaling, of the type engaged in by plenty of folks who just can’t keep that sort of thing to themselves.

Gobs of money or not, people are pretty much just people.