San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Friday, June 29, 2012

Does Obama Deserve Four More Years?

There were two letters to the editor in the Denver Post yesterday in which the authors presented their respective arguments for why Obama should be reelected. I am writing today, not to tell you who to vote for, or if you should even vote at all. I try to mind my own business. I am writing this to point out the high degree of ignorance that exists in many people who write letters to newspapers expressing their opinions on things political.  I am writing this because I find it scary that people who vote can think this way. I am writing this because this fall we are going to get exactly the type of government we deserve.
Mark Johnson of Denver believes that Obama should be reelected. He gives us a long list of reasons why. I will examine several of his reasons. He begins by telling us that "he staved off economic depression". According to Mark, the US would be experiencing a depression today if not for the heroic actions taken by President Obama shortly after assuming office. In reality, he did nothing. The Treasury, the Federal Reserve Board, and the Congress are responsible for all of the things that took place in 2008-2009 that Mark believes "staved off depression". All Obama did was sign the laws that Congress sent his way. But, I will forgo the daily lecture on the difference between the executive and legislative branches of government. I will assume that the President really is a King with god-like powers. Were the actions taken by the Treasury, the Federal Reserve and the Congress, now attributed to the President, really responsible for "staving off depression"? Hardly.
I am not going to reinvent the wheel. Read my postings from 12/30/11, 1/10/12, 1/23/12, 1/24/12, 1/25/12, 1/30/12, 2/2/12, 2/16/12, 3/5/12, 3/13/12, 3/29/12, 4/18/12, 5/8/12, 5/9/12, 5/11/12, 5/17/12, and 6/4/12. I do not know how I can make a stronger case for the fact that government was the cause of, not the solution to, the economic crisis we experienced in 2008-2009. Anybody who believes that Obama rescued us from the inevitable consequences of an unregulated free market is simply not looking at the truth.
Mark goes on to allege that "he has invested in our future, e.g. energy". Read my posting for 1/26/12 ("Wind Energy Is Just A Bunch Of Hot Air") for a factual response to that allegation. Then Mark turns to foreign policy where we discover that Obama has "protected us from terrorists". Read my 6/25/12 posting for a response to that allegation. Mark, there are no domestic terrorists. They do not exist, except in the minds of politicians and bureaucrats who need for them to exist in order to get elected and paid. Mark is particularly proud that Obama "has Iran on the ropes". I am not exactly sure what it means for one man to have a geo-political entity "on the ropes" but I suspect Mark is trying to say that under Obama's leadership the United States has done an extraordinary job at bullying another sovereign country. Why that should be considered a good thing is a mystery to me.  I guess Mark would rather be the bully than the one bullied.  Who wouldn't?
George and Barbara Schwartz, of Aurora, also believe Obama deserves four more years. They have three primary reasons why they want the President to be reelected. "First, without Obama's leadership, the American auto industry might be dead..." Wow! Talk about power. Obama, who knows nothing about the free market, capitalism, profit seeking corporations, or the car business is unilaterally responsible for protecting, defending and managing the automobile companies in this country. I wonder if the stockholders are aware of this.
George and Barbara are not very good at writing. This quotation is a somewhat awkward construction but I think you will get the gist of what they are trying to say, "Do you own a home? There was a terrible fight over the Dodd/Frank bill and the Consumer Protection Agency. What was the agency protecting the consumer from? Part of the answer is surely the banks. The banks were allowed to offer consumer loans that were designed to fail." Wow again! Obama should be reelected because he supported Dodd/Frank.  Dodd/Frank is a superb bit of legislation because it protects consumers from banks who want to lend them money, knowing that they will not be able to pay it back. What economic universe do George and Barbara live in? Do they really believe that evil, greedy bankers sit around smoke-filled rooms thinking up ways to lose money? Do they really believe that we need government protection from banks that are trying to loan us money while, at the same time, being fully aware we will not pay it back and they will suffer losses? Do they really believe that banks hate people so much they will purposefully lose money in order to destroy the financial welfare of innocent citizens? The level of economic ignorance displayed here is staggering.
The last reason given for why Obama deserves four more years is "without some central control of the process, it is impossible to contain costs". That comment was made in regards to Obamacare. That comment is not an assertion, it is a presupposition. George and Barbara simply present it as something to be believed, without any supporting argumentation. It is an example of what is known as socialism. Socialists believe that centralized control of market operations is the only way to make them efficient. Socialists believe there is an elite body of people, known as politicians, who are uniquely gifted to manage all of the trillions of daily economic events that take place in the market and that they are able to manage them to the utmost economic efficiency. On the other hand, those who believe in personal freedom deny that socialism is tenable. Freedom lovers recognize that it is impossible for any person, or group of people, to omnisciently and beneficently manage an economy to utmost efficiency. Freedom lovers realize that the best way to bring about economic efficiency is to leave the economy alone.
So we have two families who believe that Obama should be reelected because he is basically an omniscient, beneficent, omnipotent King who has staved off disaster after disaster, protected us from evil corporations out to steal our money, created jobs, created legislation that will guarantee everyone will never have to pay a medical bill again and ensured that we can sleep peacefully at night without fear of domestic terrorists. Most of us do not have the luxury of living in a dream world. Whether you vote for Obama or not, whether you make the decision to vote or not, please do not make those decisions based upon the type of ignorance displayed by my friends Mark, George and Barbara. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mr. President....Please Don't Come To Colorado

An open blog posting to President Obama:
I know you are giddy today. I know you are on top of the world because the Supreme Court agreed that your decision to force me to purchase health insurance or face a fine for not doing so was upheld as a Constitutional action. I did not expect much from the Supreme Court (see my March 27th posting to this blog for more information on the idiocy of the Supreme Court justices) and I certainly do not expect much from you. I do, however, have one request. Please do not come to Colorado. Stay in Washington. Go somewhere else. Take a trip overseas. But, please, do not come here now.
I know that there are a number of wildfires burning in Colorado right now that you would like to come and see them. Looking at fires is an exciting thing. Observing the pain and suffering of other human beings is a sinful impulse that almost nobody is able to suppress.  Almost everybody turns his head to look at the auto accident or the burning building.  There is something exciting about witnessing human misery.  To make matters worse, as a man who has a 747 at his disposal, it is difficult for you to exercise self-restraint and not jet around to every exciting event that you hear about. Please do not spend my money, as a taxpayer, on the fuel costs associated with a trip to Colorado. I don't want to see you. Stay away. Use the money for something else. Go somewhere else this summer.
You see, I know why you are coming. You do not care about the people who have witnessed the destruction of their own homes. You could not. It is not possible. You do not even know them. Still, you like to pretend that you care about people who have suffered harm and loss. You realize that a good way to purchase votes from the populace is to jet around the country to places where people are hurting and make public appearances designed to make it appear as if you care about them. Please stop it. You will only get in the way.
Colorado is what your political handlers call a "swing state". You know that getting enough votes to win Colorado's allotment of electoral votes in the presidential election is important. Suddenly you have discovered that you need to make multiple appearances in any state that is considered a swing state. We aren't stupid. We know why you are coming and we would prefer that you stay away.
Firefighting is a difficult business. Homes are evacuated, highways are clogged, command centers are established, and firefighters try to go about their jobs. The last thing any of these people need is some silly politician making an appearance in the area. The media circus associated with you anytime you travel anywhere is ridiculous. You will add to the confusion and get in the way of the firefighting efforts. Please don't come.
Please don't come and promise us more money. I know that is what you always do. You search out a disaster area, fly to the area, shed some fake tears, and promise the victims that you will take money from the citizens of other parts of the country and give it to them. We don't want that. We do not want to become fences for your stolen goods. We do not believe that it is right to steal from our neighbors to pay our own bills, even when those bills were derived from catastrophic circumstances. It is never right to steal from our neighbors. Never. Please go away and take your blood money with you.
Please don't pretend that you have the ability to do anything about this disaster. You don't. You know that. We know that. Stop pretending that you have god-like powers. You don't. The real, long-term, heroes in this story will be the for-profit insurance companies that will pay all of the costs associated with rebuilding the homes that have been lost. You act as if those people do not even exist. What an insult. You should be ashamed of yourself for refusing to recognize the real heroes. Please, stay away so the insurance adjusters can do their jobs and get their customers back on the path of rebuilding their homes and lives.
In case you do not understand what I am saying, let me make it clear. Don't come to Colorado. You are not welcome here. You are like a vulture that has sniffed a whiff of carrion. You are swooping down to see how the death below can further your interests. You are looking for a nice piece of carrion that you can feed on to fatten your belly. You see a trough full of votes just sitting there on the ground and you are coming to scoop up as many of them as you can, stuff them in your pockets, and take them back to Washington with you. Please, spare us, Mr. President. Don't come to Colorado.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Too Much Government/Politics In Our Lives

Maybe I have mentioned that I spent last week on the Bicycle Tour of Colorado.  Me, my wife, and 1498 of our closest friends rode 436 miles over six days of riding, plus one rest day in Steamboat Springs.  We had the opportunity to ride through dozens of little towns along the way.  As the week progressed I began to notice something in common among the little towns.  Almost without exception the largest and most grand building in each town was built for politicians and government officials.  Many of these buildings dwarfed the buildings in the surrounding community.  Almost all of the buildings had some engraving on them declaring when the edifice was constructed and, in many cases, they were almost 100 years old.  Although Colorado is experiencing a drought and low snow year, the lawns around these buildings were green and well manicured. Many of them had artworks, paid for by the public I am sure, displayed on the grounds.  In contrast, many of the lawns around the surrounding buildings and homes had turned to brown.  Unless you consider a rusty old car or a washing machine a piece of art, there was little artwork to be seen on the private property.  I began to ponder how our architecture tells us something about our priorities and I quickly discovered that I did not like what I was thinking.
I grew up in northern New Mexico.  On my frequent trips through the many small towns in the area I was impressed by the fact that a church building was always at the center of town.  Due to the influence of Roman Catholicism, the church building was the largest and most grand structure in town.  There was  a very simple reason for this truth.  The church was the center of the social life of the community.  I do not know if that is still true today, although most of the buildings still stand.  Nevertheless, it reflected the cultural reality that the Catholic Church was the dominant influence in the lives of those who lived in the community in times past. 
Riding around northern Colorado I was impressed by the fact that the buildings associated with the State have replaced the buildings associated with the Church.  In many cases I scarcely even saw a church building.  State buildings, on the other hand, were predominant in almost every town.  It is impossible for me to not come to the conclusion that the activities associated with politics and government have supplanted the activities that were traditionally associated with the Church.  In other words, the religion of our times is politics, not Christianity.  We are now Statists, not Christians.  As the State is totally unqualified to deal with the fundamental issues of the human soul, I became very depressed by that thought.
It is not that the State does not try to be a savior.  It tries valiantly.  It tries to protect our lives from cradle to grave.  It tries to give us health and wealth.  It tries to make us happy.  It tries to make us get along with each other.  It tries to do everything that only God can do.  And therein lies the problem.  The State is nothing more than a collection of fallible human beings.  It is no more capable of performing the acts of God than I am.  Still, that does not keep it from trying.  Why? Because we, the people, want it that way.  We have to believe in something and, sadly, most of us have made the conscious decision to believe in the State. 
Making the conscious decision to believe in the State means that I consider politics to be the single most important activity in life.  It means that I consider political action to be the most sanctified action in life.  It means that I dedicate my time, money and energy to political activity.  Further, I disparage those who do not agree with me.  I castigate those who refuse to vote or participate in the political process.  I call them unpatriotic.  I, on the other hand, believe that the State needs and deserves a healthy portion of my annual income.  I rejoice when the biggest building in town is the town hall, or the mayor's office, or the county seat, or the capitol building.  I am proud of the gold gilded dome on my capitol building because it represents a respectable offering being presented to my god.  I am pleased to have my income taken from me to water the lawn of the my god's building.  I do not care if that means my lawn must die.  I am a full blown Statist and proud of it. 
This will be my last posting about my bike tour.  Although the bike tour itself was a joy and a pleasure, all of these thoughts associated with it are just too hard.  We have way too much government in our lives.  We have way too much politics in our lives.  Government should not be the center of society, but it is.  Politics should not be the common ground that we share, but it is.   And that makes me very sad.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What I Learned In Government Schools

I attended government schools from 1962 through 1975.  During my time in government schools I learned many things.  I learned that the United States is the greatest country in the world.  I learned that every war the United States has ever fought has been just.  I learned that every opponent in war with the United States has been evil.  I learned that the greatest presidents of the United States were those men who most greatly expanded the scope, authority, and power of the presidency, generally during periods of war.  I learned that the greatest citizens of the United States are politicians.  I learned that businessmen are evil, greedy and immoral.  I learned that free market capitalism would always fail to deliver what the citizens wanted and that government was necessary to protect the citizens of the United States from the depredations of evil businessmen.  I learned that the earth was doomed to a bleak future because of global cooling, overpopulation and pollution of the water and air.  I learned that the wealthy oppressed the poor and that the government instituted a progressive income tax to bring equality and justice to the land.  I learned a lot of things during my thirteen years in government schools.  It took me several years to unlearn many of the things I had been taught but I was eventually able to see the propaganda for what it was. 
What I learned while attending government schools, however, is not what I want to write about today.  I want to write about what I saw being taught in government schools this past week.  As I mentioned yesterday, I spent the last week riding my bike around northern Colorado and southern Wyoming.  I spent five of the seven nights camped out on government school grounds.  Before breakfast and after dinner I would wander around the school grounds to see what I could see.  I learned a lot of things last week.  Here are a few of them:
  • I need to "practice diversity".  A sign outside the high school in Steamboat Springs informed me of this truth.  Unfortunately the sign did not tell me what "diversity" is.  I have no idea what that word means these days.  I ride a Belgian bike with components from Italy, Germany and Japan.  Does that make me diversified enough?  I try to hold various types of investments in my investment portfolio.  I think it is fair to call it diversified.  Yet somehow I suspect that my idea of diversity and the idea taught in the government schools are very different.  Somehow I suspect that their idea of diversity has something to do with government forcibly expropriating the property of one group and giving it to another, all in the name of fairness and democracy.  That is a type of diversity I would rather not practice. 
  • A sign inside the cafeteria at one school exhorted me to "Do The Right Thing".  That was all it said.  I pondered that sign as I consumed my breakfast of stale bagels and microwaved waffles one morning.  There was nothing on or around the sign that told me what the right thing happened to be.  I know what my idea of the right thing is and I have discovered that I am often at odds with many of my fellow human beings when I try to do it.  If everyone in that school did the right thing and the right thing is defined as what each individual thinks is right, that school is going to have a lot of problems and conflicts.  It seemed very strange to me that the school would exhort the students to live according to an absolute moral standard and then deny that an absolute moral standard exists.  That seems like a good way to create schizophrenic students to me. 
  • I was walking past the office of a guidance counselor in one school.  On a desk outside the office door I saw a brochure telling me to "Report Them, It's The Right Thing To Do".  At first I rejoiced.  Finally I had someone telling me what the "right thing" was.  As I read the brochure my initial joy turned to anger and sadness.  It turns out that, according to the guidance counselor at this government school, the right thing for a student to do is to turn his parents into the police anytime he sees one of them violating government rules and regulations.  Wow, I thought.  The government schools have just deputized all of these students and sent them home as covert agents of the government law/rule enforcement apparatus.  I don't know about you but that is a scary thought to me.
  • Plastered on the outside walls of all of the government schools were plaques informing me that the property on which I was camped was a "Drug Free Zone".  Tobacco, alcohol and drugs sold by people other than agents of the federal government were banned.  Inside the school, during the school year, government agents (guidance counselors) were handing out Ritalin to students diagnosed with ADD.  This is all conducted under the supervision of government approved pushers called "doctors".  That is considered to be a good thing.  However, if someone tried to give his friend an aspirin while they were hanging out on the swing set, he could be expelled and arrested as a drug dealer.  What a strange place this government school kingdom seemed to be.
  • Another series of banners in a school cafeteria exhorted the students to aspire to greatness, both academically and athletically.  The banners informed the students that scholarships were available to them if they excelled to a certain level.  The scholarships were provided by a company (the name I have since forgotten.... it was an evil oil company) that operates in the free market and seeks a profit.  How ironic, I thought.  The government schools dedicate themselves to teaching the evils of capitalism while, at the same time, seek capitalist funding for their activities.  I wondered if anybody else noticed the irony.
  • Another banner in another cafeteria said this: "Treat Others How They Would Like To Be Treated".  I rubbed my eyes and reread the banner.  I could not believe what I was reading.  I had assumed that the banner would be exhorting the students to some sort of practice of the golden rule but such was not the case.  Do you see the subtle change?  I am no longer to do unto others as I would like them to do unto me.  I now have to somehow figure out how others want to be treated and then give it to them, good and hard.  I am now required to be omniscient.  I now need to know how everybody in the world wants to be treated.  Even worse, I am required to treat them the way they want to be treated, whether the treatment is good or bad and whether they deserve it or not.  I informed my wife (who was sitting beside me and gagging down her breakfast at the time) that I wanted to be treated like a King at all times.  She told me to not hold my breath on that one.
I learned a lot of things in government school last week.  Sadly, and just like my thirteen year experience with the government schools earlier in life, I needed to unlearn everything I was taught.  As I was thinking about the nature of government school indoctrination,  I realized that it could be a good thing to change the name of the Department of Education to the Department of Propaganda. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Face It: There Are No Domestic Terrorists

I spent the last week of my life pedalling my bicycle 436 miles around a loop route that took in some of the more interesting portions of southern Wyoming and northern Colorado.  The Snowy and Sierra Madre mountains of southern Wyoming were particularly stunning. Prior to our first day there was some question as to what route our group (the Bicycle Tour of Colorado) would be permitted to take.  The massive forest fire burning to the northwest of Ft. Collins was going to make it likely that some route adjustments would have to be made.  I was pleased to discover that the route for the first day was unaltered by the flames and smoke.  That meant I would be riding right by the fire.  I had a vantage point, from near the Wyoming border, that enabled me to see the immense scope of this particular fire.  Simply put, it is huge.  I pondered the loss of property and disruption to the daily lives of the individuals involved and then pedalled on to Laramie.  
As it turned out, the route for the last day of the tour had to be altered.  The original plan was to ride a century (100 miles) that descended the Cache Le Poudre river.  That river is right in the middle of the fire zone and the road was closed.  We found a shorter route (67 miles) that skirted the fire to the north.  While pedaling along that day I was contemplating the nature of wildfires.  In particular I was thinking about the massive disruption and damage they can create.  The part of Colorado I was riding through is riddled with huge zones of dead pine trees, killed by a nefarious pine beetle in previous years.  In addition, thanks to La Nina, the area is tinder dry.  Conditions are perfect for explosive wildfires.  That is when it hit me.  There are no domestic terrorists.
In the tent city (the place where hundreds of us would pitch tents each night) I had overheard one person comment that he believed the fire might have been the result of terrorist activity.  I had read earlier that the fire was actually started by a stray bolt of lightning.  I scoffed silently at his comment.  While riding along the next day I began to think about the possibility of terrorist activity in the forest.  It would be so simple.  A dozen wild-eyed terrorists armed with a couple of gallons of gasoline each could easily set fire to hundreds of thousands of acres of mountain property in one evening's work.  Thousands of homes could be destroyed.  Millions of lives could be disrupted.  The terrorists could submit reports to local media outlets taking credit for the fires.  They could threaten to create more.  Indeed, there would be no way to stop them from doing more.  They could do this every night.  They could do it all summer.  It would be extremely simple for a handful of guys to wreak havoc with the entire state of Colorado if they wanted to.  But, it isn't happening.
That is when it hit me again.....there are no domestic terrorists.  As I was riding along I heard fellow cyclists complaining about how the change in the final day's route had ruined their airline connection plans.  That reminded me of something that many others have written about before.  What does the impact of TSA strip searches of air travelers have to do with domestic terrorism?   Imagine you are a terrorist for a moment.  You want to commit suicide by blowing yourself up and taking as many American dogs with you as you can.  Why would you try to smuggle an explosive device aboard an airplane when all you would have to do is blow yourself up while waiting in line at the TSA search point?  Then the TSA would have to create a search point before the search point, in order to make sure the original search point is safe.  Then, your brother terrorists could blow themselves up in the new search point.  The process could go on until the line of search points is dozens of points long.  This would create massive terror in US citizens, not to mention a great deal of impatience in air travelers.  But, it does not happen.  That is when it hit me again....there are no domestic terrorists.
As I was pedalling along one one particularly long day (119 miles with many ups and downs and a strong head wind the last 30 miles) I contemplated my general lack of training for the tour.  I remembered riding past the many reservoirs in the Denver metropolitan area, utilizing the dozens of excellent bike paths in the area.  As I thought about riding past these reservoirs it occurred to me that it would be quite simple to create a serious terrorist event by simply blowing one of the dams to smithereens.  The flooding that would take place downstream would be devastating.  The fact that all of the dams now have signs on them saying "Keep Off" would not deter a committed Islamic terrorist.  I realized that I have now elevated the scale of sophistication required to be a domestic terrorist.  Starting fires simply requires gasoline.  Blowing oneself up while standing in line (something every reasonable person has probably considered at least once in his life) would require very little technical sophistication.  Constructing a bomb large enough to bring down an earthen dam was probably a bit of a stretch.  Still, if these alleged terrorists are the mastermind geniuses that we are constantly being told they are, it should not be that difficult.
By the end of my bike tour I had come to several conclusions.  First, I concluded that I really like riding a bike through the mountains.  Second, I concluded that I really did not like most of the 1500 people that rode with me through the mountains (a handful of them were very nice).  Third, I concluded that there are no domestic terrorists.  That third conclusion drove me to my fourth.  The officials in Homeland Security (a hundreds of billions of dollars a year organization) keep telling me that I am severely threatened by domestic terrorists every single day.  I concluded that the Department of Homeland Security should be renamed the Department of Government Propaganda.