Category Archives: News

My thoughts on the news of the day, both local, Colorado, national and international.

Animal’s Daily Social Justice News

This makes a very good point:  Social Justice is an Oxymoron.  Excerpt:

Huge swaths of Americans still bow at the altar of social justice. They believe government-forced “charity” will advance us to an utopian paradise where everyone enjoys the same outcome, despite personal effort, upbringing, unique abilities and education.

Truth is, though, social justice is an oxymoron based on the false premise that the cure for injustice is leveling the playing field and redistributing wealth. As former Vice President Joe Biden once said, “You may call it redistribution of wealth – I just call it being fair.”

Karl Marx would be so proud.

Marx hated religion, private property and Judeo-Christian values as much as leftists do today. That’s why you should bolt out of any place of worship that combines Jesus, social justice and the government in the same sentence.

In his book, “The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism,” economist Friedrich Hayek nails what’s really at stake: “The aim of socialism is no less than to affect a complete redesigning of our traditional morals, law and language – and on this basis to stamp out the old order and the supposedly inexorable, unjustifiable conditions that prevent the institution of reason, fulfillment, true freedom and justice.”

Yesteryears’ creepy social justice warriors are now out of the closet and no longer hide their agenda. Instead, they give it a pink boa and parade their intentions to destroy capitalism, silence free speech and scrub Judeo-Christian values from the public square.

They harp about injustice and claim only they can fix it, which is one of the most arrogant, egotistical piles of hogwash you’ll ever hear.

I define “social justice” as the term is used by its advocates as “take someone else’s stuff away and give it to me, because reasons.”  In fact, the term is nebulous; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

In fact, there can be no such thing as “social justice,”  Like rights, justice can only apply to individuals.  What advocates for “social justice” are calling for is not justice; it is theft.

But I differ with the author of this article, Susan Stamper Brown, in one respect, and that is the lateral arabesque they perform in making this a discussion of “Judeo-Christian values.”  While it is true that most modern, Western civilizations are – today – based on a Judeo-Christian ethos in social matters, the issues discussed now are those of economics; a restrictive socialist system as set against an Enlightenment-style, free market system based on strong property rights.  The two are not compatible; but no religious arguments are required here.  For that matter, they aren’t particularly helpful.

Ms. Brown should stay focused.

 

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links, and to Darkness Over The Land for the pingback!

Moving right along: Ever been frustrated by a left-lane vigilante driving exactly the speed limit in the left lane?  It seems that those speed limits may be based on some pretty outmoded science.  Excerpt:

In the US, our speed limits are derived from old studies, like this one from 1964 by traffic systems researcher David Solomon that looked only at rural roads in the 1950s. In line with conventional thinking, Solomon’s study fuels the premise that speed limits should be based on the speed at which 85 percent of the drivers on a road are maintaining. That means, if most cars on the highway are going 60 mph, that’s what determines the speed limit.

But with around 40,000 people dying in car accidents on American roads every year, something isn’t working, John Lower, a transportation engineer in California, told me. That includes the 85 percent formula, which traffic advocates have called for to be repealed. They’re calling instead for a data-driven system that reflects the actual traffic using sensor technology. In many cases, this will force us to drive slower.

Lower has spent decades as a city transportation manager, and now works at Iteris, an analytics company. He believes it’s time to reinvent the way we implement speed limits. “The way it works now, there are higher-than-expected crash rates along the system,” he said.

Lower’s solution is in line with Vision Zero, a network of traffic safety advocates he is part of, who want to use more recent data and technology to inform our speed limits. (The network is funded by entities including Kaiser Permanente, a health insurance company.)

In an ideal scenario, Lower said, we would be using smart sensors to collect the information from vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians to understand traffic flows. (A quick spin around the internet reveals multiple sensors are already on the market like this, including this one from Urbiotica and another from SMATS.) This data would then be analyzed to set speed limits based on the traffic flow, and the presence of the most vulnerable vehicles (bicycles) and people on the roads.

“Every traffic signal has to have some form of detection,” Lower added.

I have a question:  Who the hell is going to pay for all these detectors?

I’m generally in favor of using technology to make our lives better, but in this case, no thanks.  At present, our roads are publicly funded, and we don’t have the tax dollars to spare to be completely, totally revamping our system for determining speed limits.  Besides, improvements in car design have made driving much, much safer than it was in the 1950s – or even the 1970s.

For now, I’d say we should just stick with our good old-fashioned way of figuring speed limits.  And, on that note:

Animal’s Daily Birth Control News

I’m inclined to agree with this:  If you can pay for aspirin, you can pay for birth control.  Excerpt:

Religious concerns aside, the new White House rule leaves the birth-control mandate in place. Trump’s “tweak won’t affect 99.9 percent of women,” observes the Wall Street Journal, “and that number could probably have a few more 9s at the end.” Washington will continue to compel virtually every employer and insurer in America to supply birth control to any woman who wants one at no out-of-pocket cost.

Yet there is no legitimate rationale for such a mandate. Americans don’t expect to get aspirin, bandages, or cold medicine — or condoms — for free; by what logic should birth control pills or diaphragms be handed over at no cost? It is true that a woman’s unwanted pregnancy can lead to serious costs, but the same is also true of a diabetic’s hyperglycemia. Should insulin be free?

By and large, birth control is inexpensive; as little as $20 a month without insurance. For low-income women who find that too onerous, the federal government’s Title X program provides subsidized contraception to the tune of nearly $290 million per year. American women are not forced to choose between the Pill or the rent. And access to birth control, as the Centers for Disease Control reported in 2010, was virtually universal before Obamacare.

The White House is right to end the burden on religious objectors. But it is the birth-control mandate itself that should be scrapped. Contraception is legal, cheap, and available everywhere. Why are the feds meddling where they aren’t needed?

Condoms are cheap.  Wal-Mart offers birth control pills at greatly reduced prices.  But that’s not really the issue here; the issue is more simple than comparative costs.  The issue is this:

Why the hell does anyone think it is the proper role of the Imperial government to subsidize people’s sex lives?  Our poor – and mind  you, we have little or no abject poverty in the U.S., only relative poverty – have cell phones, game consoles, laptop computers and microwave ovens.  But for some reason, they expect the taxpayers to subsidize an elective medical product that costs less than a weekly cup of coffee at Starbucks.

Lunacy.  Sheer lunacy.

Rule Five Close Air Support Friday

Our military has, in the years since I served, has gone ever-increasingly high-tech.  The Air Force has gone even more high-tech than the others, which is of course to e expected in the nature of that branch.  But have they gone too high-tech to handle close-air support in the low-tech conflicts we find ourselves fighting today?  That could be.  The Small Wars Journal have some thoughts on that.  Excerpt:

War is expensive, especially when using high-end fourth and fifth generation aircraft designed for World War III to bomb handfuls of sandal wearing men armed with rusty AK-47s. While the United States (U.S.) Department of Defense (DOD) enjoyed the extravagance of seemingly bottomless coffers during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that time has ended. The DOD cannot afford to employ its most advanced high-end aircraft in support of every military operation. The U.S. military is primarily engaged in small-scale overseas contingency operations, characterized by tight budgets and strict force caps. These operations largely involve small teams of special operations forces (SOF) and regionally aligned ground forces deployed to advise and assist U.S. allied and partner-nation forces in irregular warfare (IW), specifically counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and foreign internal defense. The deployment of high-end jet aircraft in support of these forces is not only impractical due to robust support requirements but also fiscally irresponsible due to astronomical acquisition and operating costs. Instead, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) requires an inexpensive, light air support (LAS) aircraft as a practical and cost-effective means of providing air support for IW in low air threat environments.

The Journal suggests a couple of modest aircraft for this role, and a couple of those have some extensive combat qualifications.  Those two would be the old OV-10 Bronco and the Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano.  Both are inexpensive aircraft, both  have long design histories, both have shown their worth in close support roles.  It would be worthwhile for the US Air Force to consider buying some of those.

Budgetary matters are a concern, after all, when the nation is in debt to the tune of twenty trillion simoleons.  If we could field a few squadrons of close-support planes for the cost of two or three F-35s, then that seems like the taxpayers are getting a bargain.

For that matter, a couple of wings of 1940s-vintage P-47s would be pretty damn useful in close air support.  Eight .50 calibers and a few 500-pounders are just what the doctor ordered for the aforementioned “sandal wearing men armed with rusty AK-47s.”  The original Thunderbolt did some great work in World War 2 against foes more sophisticated than the Taliban.

The article concludes:  “The USAF can procure entire squadrons’ worth of LAS aircraft for the cost of a single F-35. Furthermore, the introduction of LAS aircraft could save U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars in operation and maintenance costs each year, while preserving the nation’s most advanced and expensive aircraft for potential high-intensity conflicts against near-peer competitors. When taken in the aggregate, the advantages of LAS aircraft provide distinct benefits that are both tactically sound and cost-effective.”

Cost-effective sounds like a good idea.  We may still even have some old OV-10s in storage.  Why not dust them off and fire them up?

Animal’s Daily Las Vegas News

To begin:  What happened in Las Vegas on Sunday last was horrendous, unspeakable, and our hearts go out to the victims of this senseless act of terror.

I’m hesitant to comment on this so soon after the event, and while so many things remain unknown, but there have been a few items banging around the news and commentary circuits that are just plain wrong.

The usual suspects are already screeching about gun control.  But there are already troublesome facts known.  For example:  The shooter, Stephen Paddock, reportedly had at least one, possibly two fully-automatic rifles.  These are reported to have been AR-15 pattern rifles, but it is not clear whether they were converted or manufactured in select-fire configuration.  But that doesn’t really matter.  Why?

If the guns were manufactured in select-fire configuration, Paddock could have obtained them legally.  He was reportedly a man of some wealth, and may have well been able to afford the high price of a couple of NFA firearms.  Also, apparently nothing in his background would have precluded that purchase; he is known to have purchased several other arms, legally, from an Arizona gun shop.  No background check imaginable would have prevented the purchase.

If the guns were converted, then Paddock broke a Federal law in converting them.  But the hard cold fact is this:  Anyone with a mill, a drill press, some aluminum and enough intelligence to pound sand could produce a workable fully-automatic rifle.  The only really tricky part would be the barrel, but there are literally millions upon millions of barrels around that would work for the purpose.

So no law, existing or proposed, would have prevented this.

Also:  Predictable as the morning sun, Her Imperial Majesty, before the body count was even known, took to Twitter to attack the NRA and the SHARE act, deregulating suppressors.  But her argument runs across the same stumbling block; if he used a suppressor purchased legally, that would be small potatoes economically next to the one or two NFA firearms he had already bought.  And we have seen that he was able to pass the background checks.

If he used a manufactured suppressor, a device even more easily fabricated than a firearm, then again, that’s already illegal.  That’s a calculation unlikely to stop a man contemplating mass murder.

Add to that the fact that Paddock apparently had explosives and arming devices in his home; that’s also illegal.

We know so little about this incident as yet, it’s hard to draw any conclusions.  Apparently ISIS wasted no time in claiming ownership of Paddock and his act, but they are as full of shit as the Dowager Empress; there’s no reason to think Paddock was an ISIS sympathizer.  But this is time for ascertaining facts, not wading in the blood of the victims to push a political agenda.

Rule Five Tax Reform Friday

Now that the Senate has well and truly screwed the pooch on health care, they are taking up tax reform.  A few select pieces of commentary:

Trump pitches tax cut as ‘middle class miracle’

Tax reform: Trump, GOP mull surcharge on wealthy, doubling standard deduction

GOP tax plan still has lots of holes and a surprising twist – Cowen analyst

Norquist: GOP Tax Cut Plan Will Turbo-charge the Economy

House Freedom Caucus Supports Trump’s Tax Plan

Here, from that last article, are the outlines of the proposal, with my comments.

-The lowest federal income tax bracket for individuals will sit at 12 percent, an increase from 10 percent, but will be offset by an expansion of the child tax credit. There will be three brackets total, down from seven, with the other two at 25 and 35 percent.

A good start.  I’d vastly prefer just one rate, for everyone.  I’d actually prefer a consumption tax rather than the intrusive income tax, which requires you to disclose all of your personal financial affairs to the Imperial government every year.

-The small business tax rate will drop to 25 percent, the lowest in America since the 1930s.

Again, a good start.  Why not zero?

-The corporate tax rate will be decreased from 35 percent to 20 percent, prompting American money to come home from overseas.

Again, why not zero?  Businesses don’t pay taxes, they collect them.  Corporate and small business taxes are paid by consumers; the cost of the tax and the administration required to calculate it are added in to the cost of every product.  Business taxes are just a backhanded way to add another tax onto the people.

-The child tax credit will be expanded. Administration officials nor the President will provide an exact number and will rely on proper congressional committees to come up with one they deem appropriate.

I’ve never been quite certain of the purpose of this tax.  Certainly it makes financial life a little easier for parents, especially younger parents who tend to be harder pressed.  And it’s certainly a vote-getter.  But are we subsidizing people to reproduce?

-Rewriting tax regulations so Americans can complete their taxes on a single page.

Oh hell yeah.

-Getting rid of double taxes, including the death tax.

About damn time.  Get rid of the capital-gains tax while you’re at it.  If double taxation is wrong in one case, it’s wrong in any case.

-Eliminate itemized deductions

I’m generally in favor of this, as long as the overall tax burden is decreased.  And make no mistake; this provision will be vigorously opposed by the enormous tax-return preparation industry, accountants and tax attorneys across this golden land.  These people are desperately afraid of having to earn an honest living.

-Eliminate state and local deductions

This will suck if you live in a blue state, like New York or California.  This provision now allows you to deduct from your Imperial tax return’s taxable income the amount you pay in state and local taxes.  I’d say this:  Don’t like it?  Take it up with your state and local governments.  This provision offers a shield to high-tax states, and it would be interesting to see the backlash from removing this deduction.

-Charitable deductions are not changing

-Retirement taxes will not be touched

-Mortgage deductions will not change

No change, no comment.

I would like to interject one thing in this debate, intended for when I hear opponents whine about “how the GOP intends to pay for this” (always from the same people who propose enormous new spending programs while never worrying about how to pay for those).  That interjection is this:

Fuck you.  Cut spending.

That goes for both political parties.

The nation is now past $20 trillion in debt.  Add in unfunded liabilities in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and we’re waaaaaaay past that.  We are broke, True Believers, and it would be nice if someone – anyone – in the Imperial City would figure that out.

But back to the tax proposal.  I’ll cautiously characterize this as “a good start.”  As far as its chances of passing, I’m not so optimistic.  This GOP Congress could fuck up a soup sandwich.  I’m guessing they’ll screw this up too.

Animal’s Daily Disability News

The Imperial government overreaches again, and a private citizen fixes it – again.  Excerpt:

A third threat to free speech at the University of California, Berkeley has led to more censorship than political rioters or college administrators.

It’s the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Berkeley is expensive. Out of state students must pay $60,000 a year. But for five years, Berkeley generously posted 20,000 of its professors’ lectures online. Anyone could watch them for free.

Then government regulators stepped in.

The Americans with Disabilities Act stipulates, “No qualified individual with a disability shall … be denied the benefits of … services.”

As with most laws, people can spend years debating what terms like “denied,” “benefits” and “services” mean.

President Obama’s eager regulators, in response to a complaint from activists, decided that Berkeley’s videos violated the ADA. The Justice Department sent the school a threatening letter: “Berkeley is in violation of title II … (T)he Attorney General may initiate a lawsuit.”

What Berkeley had done wrong, said the government, was failing to caption the videos for the hearing impaired. The ADA makes it illegal to “deny” deaf people services available to others.

And:

In this case, fortunately, an angry entrepreneur came to the rescue. Jeremy Kauffman hates to see valuable things disappear, so right before Berkeley deleted its website, Kauffman copied the videos and posted them on his website, called LBRY (as in Library).

He says the Berkeley videos are just the start of what LBRY has planned. He wants the site to be YouTube — but without the content restrictions.

Where the hell is any shred of common sense in the Imperial government reaction to this?  It’s not as though these are primary classes without which a student cannot graduate; they are 20,000 lectures posted for free consumption by anyone – something to be said for that coming from Berkeley, where free speech is a dead letter and a non-resident student has to pony up north of $60k a year to attend.

But no!  For want of a closed-caption, this free and (possibly) interesting service is now cut off, no doubt due to the interference of some un-elected bureaucrat meddling in something that nothing in the Constitution allows the Imperial City to touch in the first place.

We have proceeded from tragedy to farce in this matter, True Believers.

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.

 

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.