21 December, 2011

How the Government Stole Christmas

Forget the Grinch -- it's the government that's stealing Christmas.

So reports Americans for Tax Reform, a non-profit group that works for lower taxes and smaller government.

The holidays are supposed to be a season for giving and spending time with loved ones. However, Uncle Sam has forced taxpayers to add him and his greedy local and state relatives to their gift list. Of an identified $10.72 billion of holiday spending, an incredible 43.36 percent is due to government taxes, fees, and other costs.

If you are one of the 93 percent of holiday revelers traveling this season, you will pay $69.65 in gas taxes for the average $152.47 round-trip excursion -- 45.68 percent of the cost of the trip. Taking a rental is another convenient option, but 38.77 percent of your car's rental cost is due to taxation, particularly from state and local governments.

Choose to fly to visit friends and family and 42.47 percent of your trip is made up of government costs. If you retreat from your in-laws to a hotel, remember that 39.39 percent of the cost of your stay is funneled back to the government. For Christmas 2011, the government will stuff its stocking with $3.79 billion in traveling taxes.

Holiday revelers enjoy an estimated $992 million in alcoholic beverages to celebrate the season. Savor your next mug of eggnog, because 56.31 percent of the price is taxes. Government guzzles 44.33 percent of your seasonal beer and drives up the price of your glass of wine at Christmas dinner by 32.77 percent. Sipping a soft drink won't let you escape frosty government fees -- 27.98 percent, or $61 million in taxes, is attached to the cost of soda.

When Santa comes down the chimney this year, he'll have to save room in his sack for Uncle Sam's gifts. Government gets $21 billion of a cumulative $69.1 billion spent on presents, consuming nearly a third of Christmas gift-giving.

All told, the government collects $25.9 billion in new revenues over the holiday season.

And still more is ahead. Not even Christmas trees are safe. The government has proposed a new 15 cent tax on each Christmas tree sold -- which would mean government would make up 31.19 percent of the price of an average 40 dollar Christmas tree. Public outcry led to the tax being delayed -- for the moment. But look for that little Christmas present in your stocking in the near future.

* * * * * * * *
by Liberator Online editor James W. Harris.

05 December, 2011

In Which I Explain Who Really Screwed Okie State and Stanford...

Fans of Okie State and Stanford are upset because Alabama and LSU, both from the SEC, will play for the National Championship, even though they have the same record as 'Bama.

Three years ago the commissioner of the SEC proposed a "Plus Two" playoff for the National Championship. If that format were in effect this year, Stanford would be playing LSU, and Okie State would be playing 'Bama, for a crack at the Championship game. Unfortunately the (now) PAC 12, (then)Big 12, and (still, inexplicably) Big 10 combined to block the proposal.

Stanford is from the PAC 12, while Okie State plays in what is left of the Big 12. Uh oh!

03 December, 2011

A "Stimulus" Primer

It's a slow day in the small town of Pumphandle and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody is living on credit.

A tourist visiting the area drives through town, stops at the motel, and lays a $100 bill on the desk saying he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs to pick one for the night.

As soon as he walks upstairs, the motel owner grabs the bill and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher.

(Stay with this..... and pay attention)

The butcher takes the $100 and runs down the street to retire his debt to the pig farmer.

The pig farmer takes the $100 and heads off to pay his bill to his supplier, the Co-op.

The guy at the Co-op takes the $100 and runs to pay his debt to the local prostitute, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer her "services" on credit.

The hooker rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill with the hotel Owner.

The hotel proprietor then places the $100 back on the counter so the traveler will not suspect anything.

At that moment the traveler comes down the stairs, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, picks up the $100 bill and leaves.

No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole town now thinks that they are out of debt and there is a false atmosphere of optimism and glee.

And that, my friends, is how a "stimulus package" works! Makes you kinda feel warm and fuzzy all over huh??

22 November, 2011

This and That...

Twice in the last three days I have received a phone call from “Newt 2012”.  I answered both determined to give whoever was at the other end a hard time, but neither time was anyone or anything there.  Which is, actually, consistent with both Newt and his campaign.

Fast fact:  If we taxed the top 1% at a rate of 100% - that is, if we took every penny they earned year in and year out – the revenue provided would cover only ten percent of the deficit.  Not the debt, mind you, but just ten percent of the annual deficit.  It’s high time some folks began occupying reality.

I don’t care what anyone says, JoePa was thrown under the bus.  He received, according to his grand jury testimony, a report that did not graphically describe the incident involved, and yet reported it to his superior, who was ultimately responsible (Sandusky had not worked for Joe for a number of years).  After firing Joe, the Board of Trustees announced they would conduct an investigation.  Wouldn’t it have been better to conduct the investigation first, and then act on the findings?

Why is everyone surprised and upset by the failure of the “Super Committee”.  It was an extra-constitutional copout from the beginning, just as are the automatic cuts that its failure sets in motion.  As for the major drivers of our budget woes: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the Prescription Drug panderthon, all remain untouched and, in all likelihood, untouchable.

The Euro and its unfathomable derivative, the European Union, never had a snowball’s chance, and without radical change will not survive.  Imagine a union of the U.S., Mexico, and Honduras, with a common currency.  Greece, Portugal, and southern Italy are reasonable equivalents to Honduras and Mexico, and Germany is no U.S. economically.

Finally – I have been reading Arguably, a massive collection of Christopher Hitchens’ essays, and I feel miserably inferior.  I’ve read the Greek philosophers, Romantic poets, Enlightenment thinkers, Classical authors, and more.  But Hitchens has obviously not only read at least ten times more than I, he has clearly memorized every damned word of everything he ever read, then somehow developed the ability to express his knowledge and opinions in a way and with such force that no other mortal can. He is simply the greatest essayist writing today, and we cannot afford to lose him.

06 October, 2011

Does America need more Steve Jobs, or more Goverment?

In 1989, merely 22 years ago, Apple introduced its Macintosh Portable.  It came with a 16Mhz CPU, 1 Meg of RAM, and a 10 inch black and white active matrix LCD.  The price, $7,300, was affordable by only the best off of Americans.

Today, even though the dollar is worth only about half of what it was then, you can buy a laptop 1000 time more powerful, for a price 10% of that of that old Mac, making reliable, high speed computing available to almost everyone.

How is this possible?  It wasn’t achieved by government edict, nor through the wisdom of some central planning board.  Rather it happened because of the type of competition found only in free markets.

Think about that for a moment.   Then think how much cheaper, better, and more available healthcare, or perhaps education, might be if government had kept its hands off of them.  

19 September, 2011

The Crux of the Problem...

The brouhaha de jour this week apparently will be the upcoming vote in the United Nations (official motto: We don't do a damned thing other than squander your money and throw lavish parties) on the resolution out of Durban III to admit Palestine as a full member of that body.

I believe Palestinians have every bit as much right to have a home state as Israelis or anyone else, but this resolution is wrought with worms.  The principle problem is that it sets the border between the new state and Israel as the pre-1967 border, and compounds the mistake by naming east Jerusalem as the new nation's capital.

Now there are certainly reasonable arguments on both sides of the issue, but to me the overriding question is: Shouldn't borders be settled through negotiation between the disputing parties?  Hasn't the age of fiat in settling international disagreements gone the way of the buggy whip and, say, colonialism?

Unfortunately, the settlement of any Israeli-Palestinian question is not about politics, nor ever the right of each to be secure within their agreed-upon borders.  No, that would be way too easy.

The real issue is perfectly demonstrated by a full page ad that appeared in this morning's Dallas Morning News, and, I assume, a dozen or more other major papers across the country.  That ad was sponsored by an organization revealingly named "The Jerusalem Prayer Team" (JPT), and lists among its arguments for opposing Durban III (remember, I've already provided a compelling argument against it as it stands), Genesis 12.3:  "I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you."

Wow!  How do you argue with logic like that?  It is so convincing it takes your breath away, not to mention your mind.  It does though serve to point out the real problem in the Muddled East, namely Religion.

Christopher Hitchens famously said the "Religion poisons everything", and in both the conflict at hand and the mindless ad referenced above that statement is indisputable. What we have, if you peel the onion to its digestible core, is two pre-rational, animal-sacrificing desert tribes locked in mortal combat over whose god promised them what and when.

These claims originate from peoples who didn't know the earth was an orb, nor what caused lightening or disease.  Yet today they hold much of the world poised on the edge of war, perhaps even nuclear war, over what can only be logically considered bat-shit crazy foundational dreams.

Hopefully the JPT will stick to prayer as opposed to any real effort to interfere, thus nullifying their expenditures and historical revisionism. And hopefully too the two parties to the dispute at hand will learn that the only way to achieve peace and a real future for their peoples is to conscientiously strive for a fair and permanent settlement of a conflict that has already endured far too long, and one arrived at without further reference to invisible friends and their non-existent promises.

30 August, 2011


Irene claims 40 lives”,  and “Hurricane responsible for 40 deaths” are just two of the headlines I’ve seen in the past twenty-four hours.  Wow, one thinks, that must have been a real killer storm.

But it wasn’t, really.  It was nowhere near Katrina’s blow to New Orleans  nor Andrew’s destruction of South Florida.  Andrew struck the area south of Miami with 165 mph winds, Irene never reached 90 mph except for a few gusts.

Irene was a bit more than your average thunder storm to be sure, but a killer hurricane?  Let’s review a few of the deaths blamed on the unfortunate lady, and you tell me if the storm was at fault or if it was merely a case of the shallow end of the gene pool being culled: 
  • In Bristol, CT 46-year-old Shane Seaver died after he and another man went canoeing down a flooded street and the canoe capsized. Seaver's body washed ashore late Sunday in Plainville. 
  •  In Hockessin, DE  police found the bodies of two men who had sent a text message to a friend saying they were running through Irene during the height of the storm.
  • In Volusia County, FL  55-year-old Frederick Fernandez died Saturday off New Smyrna Beach after he was tossed off his (surf) board by massive waves caused by Irene.
  • In Flagler County, 55-year-old tourist James Palmer of New Jersey died Saturday in rough surf. 
  • 68-year-old Joseph Rocco of East Islip drowned while windsurfing in Bellport Bay.  (Really?  Windsurfing in a freaking hurricane?) 
  • A man died after his inflatable boat capsized on the Croton River. 
  • Katherine Morales Cruz, 15, of Manassas Park, Va., died Saturday in a two-car collision at an intersection where Hurricane Irene had knocked out power to the traffic lights. (Is stop, look, yield suspended during a hurricane?) 
  • Jose Manuel Farabia Corona, 21, of Dover died in a Pitt County traffic accident after his SUV went off a road and twice slammed into trees Saturday as Irene's began to make landfall. (I wonder if they bothered to do a blood alcohol level.) 
  • Deputies recovered the body of Melton Robinson Jr., who had been missing since jumping into the Cape Fear River as storms reached North Carolina. (Ditto Mr. Corona above.) 
  • A 58-year-old Harrisburg man was killed Sunday when a tree toppled onto his tent.  (Is camping in a hurricane that much different from sleeping on a railroad track?) 
  • A body recovered from the Deerfield River is believed to be that of a woman who fell in while watching flooding in Wilmington. 
  • 57-year-old William P. Washington of King William County was killed when a tree fell on him as he was cutting another tree Saturday night. (Just had to give that new chainsaw a tryout, huh?)
So there you have it folks. I do not mean to poke fun at anyone’s early demise, but to claim that any of these idiots was killed by a hurricane is comparable to blaming gravity for the death of someone jumping off the roof of a twenty story building.  

My name is John Shuey and I approve this message.

05 August, 2011

The only way out...

You might have missed this, but with the recent increase of the Federal government "debt ceiling", our government's borrowing now exceeds our nation's GDP.  That's right, our government is now in a hole deeper than the value of all the goods and services the U.S. economy produces in a full year.

The last time our debt was more than GDP?

The late 1940s.  Recovery happened swiftly then, which should give us hope.  There is a way out.

But remember: It was not World War II that brought us out of the Great Depression, the end of the war did.

And remember further: Most of the big names in economics -- by then, Keynesians all -- had predicted a huge economicdownturn as government spending plummeted and wartime regulations (chiefly wage and price controls) hit the dustbin.

It was a very bad prediction, because the economy soon took off.

Why? Less government spending, less regulation, far less involvement in the economy.

In short.  More freedom.

22 April, 2011

News from Heathensville - Part 1A

A few hours ago I mentioned the letter that Christopher Hitchens wrote to those attending the American Atheist Convention.  Hitch was supposed to be here, but his health has deteriorated to the point that he couldn't make the trip.  Instead he wrote this letter, which I now share with you because it really is to all those fighting the good fight for truth and reason in this 21st century:

Dear fellow-unbelievers,
    Nothing would have kept me from joining you except the loss of my voice (at least my speaking voice) which in turn is due to a long argument I am currently having with the specter of death. Nobody ever wins this argument, though there are some solid points to be made while the discussion goes on. I have found, as the enemy becomes more familiar, that all the special pleading for salvation, redemption and supernatural deliverance appears even more hollow and artificial to me than it did before. I hope to help defend and pass on the lessons of this for many years to come, but for now I have found my trust better placed in two things: the skill and principle of advanced medical science, and the comradeship of innumerable friends and family, all of them immune to the false consolations of religion. It is these forces among others which will speed the day when humanity emancipates itself from the mind-forged manacles of servility and superstitition. It is our innate solidarity, and not some despotism of the sky, which is the source of our morality and our sense of decency. 
      That essential sense of decency is outraged every day. Our theocratic enemy is in plain view. Protean in form, it extends from the overt menace of nuclear-armed mullahs to the insidious campaigns to have stultifying pseudo-science taught in American schools. But in the past few years, there have been heartening signs of a genuine and spontaneous resistance to this sinister nonsense: a resistance which repudiates the right of bullies and tyrants to make the absurd claim that they have god on their side. To have had a small part in this resistance has been the greatest honor of my lifetime: the pattern and original of all dictatorship is the surrender of reason to absolutism and the abandonment of critical, objective inquiry. The cheap name for this lethal delusion is religion, and we must learn new ways of combating it in the public sphere, just as we have learned to free ourselves of it in private. 
    Our weapons are the ironic mind against the literal: the open mind against the credulous; the courageous pursuit of truth against the fearful and abject forces who would set limits to investigation (and who stupidly claim that we already have all the truth we need). Perhaps above all, we affirm life over the cults of death and human sacrifice and are afraid, not of inevitable death, but rather of a human life that is cramped and distorted by the pathetic need to offer mindless adulation, or the dismal belief that the laws of nature respond to wailings and incantations. 
       As the heirs of a secular revolution, American atheists have a special responsibility to defend and uphold the Constitution that patrols the boundary between Church and State. This, too, is an honor and a privilege. Believe me when I say that I am present with you, even if not corporeally (and only metaphorically in spirit...) Resolve to build up Mr Jefferson's wall of separation. And don't keep the faith.
Christopher Hitchens

News from Heathensville - Part 1

Son JMS and I are in the midst of the American Atheist Convention here in dreary downtown Des Moines, IA.  And so far it has been interesting.

In addition to rubbing elbows with the likes of PZ Myers, Lawrence Kraus, and Andy Thompson, (Oh, and Greta Christina for those of you who appreciate her writing), we have been privy to some interesting news.

The Atheist/Freethought/Humanist/Secular movement is combining on some exciting, in your face projects:
  1. For July 4, banners promoting Atheism, to whit reading "Godless America",will be flown over major sporting and other events in every state in the nation where atheism/agnosticism is "the fastest growing religious segment" according to recent polls. For those of you who might be unaware -- that would be all fifty states.  Ought to be a hoot.  And
  2. In the spring of 2012, every non-theist organization in the country is sponsoring, and AA hosting, a Reason Rally in Washington, DC, which is predicted to be the largest gathering of non-believers in the history of the world.  Among others, Richard Dawkins has committed to attend.  The FSM willing, I'll be there.
Well, gotta get back to the show, I'll report more later  --  including on Christopher Hitchens couching and compelling letter to the convention.

16 April, 2011

John Galt's Speech in just 964 Words...

"For twelve years you've been asking "Who is John Galt?" This is John Galt speaking. I'm the man who's taken away your victims and thus destroyed your world. You've heard it said that this is an age of moral crisis and that Man's sins are destroying the world. But your chief virtue has been sacrifice, and you've demanded more sacrifices at every disaster. You've sacrificed justice to mercy and happiness to duty. So why should you be afraid of the world around you?
"Your world is only the product of your sacrifices. While you were dragging the men who made your happiness possible to your sacrificial altars, I beat you to it. I reached them first and told them about the game you were playing and where it would take them. I explained the consequences of your 'brother-love' morality, which they had been too innocently generous to understand. You won't find them now, when you need them more than ever.
"We're on strike against your creed of unearned rewards and unrewarded duties. If you want to know how I made them quit, I told them exactly what I'm telling you tonight. I taught them the morality of Reason -- that it was right to pursue one's own happiness as one's principal goal in life. I don't consider the pleasure of others my goal in life, nor do I consider my pleasure the goal of anyone else's life.
"I am a trader. I earn what I get in trade for what I produce. I ask for nothing more or nothing less than what I earn. That is justice. I don't force anyone to trade with me; I only trade for mutual benefit. Force is the great evil that has no place in a rational world. One may never force another human to act against his/her judgment. If you deny a man's right to Reason, you must also deny your right to your own judgment. Yet you have allowed your world to be run by means of force, by men who claim that fear and joy are equal incentives, but that fear and force are more practical.
"You've allowed such men to occupy positions of power in your world by preaching that all men are evil from the moment they're born. When men believe this, they see nothing wrong in acting in any way they please. The name of this absurdity is 'original sin'. That's impossible. That which is outside the possibility of choice is also outside the province of morality. To call sin that which is outside man's choice is a mockery of justice. To say that men are born with a free will but with a tendency toward evil is ridiculous. If the tendency is one of choice, it doesn't come at birth. If it is not a tendency of choice, then man's will is not free.
"And then there's your 'brother-love' morality. Why is it moral to serve others, but not yourself? If enjoyment is a value, why is it moral when experienced by others, but not by you? Why is it immoral to produce something of value and keep it for yourself, when it is moral for others who haven't earned it to accept it? If it's virtuous to give, isn't it then selfish to take?
"Your acceptance of the code of selflessness has made you fear the man who has a dollar less than you because it makes you feel that that dollar is rightfully his. You hate the man with a dollar more than you because the dollar he's keeping is rightfully yours. Your code has made it impossible to know when to give and when to grab.
"You know that you can't give away everything and starve yourself. You've forced yourselves to live with undeserved, irrational guilt. Is it ever proper to help another man? No, if he demands it as his right or as a duty that you owe him. Yes, if it's your own free choice based on your judgment of the value of that person and his struggle. This country wasn't built by men who sought handouts. In its brilliant youth, this country showed the rest of the world what greatness was possible to Man and what happiness is possible on Earth.
"Then it began apologizing for its greatness and began giving away its wealth, feeling guilty for having produced more than ikts neighbors. Twelve years ago, I saw what was wrong with the world and where the battle for Life had to be fought. I saw that the enemy was an inverted morality and that my acceptance of that morality was its only power. I was the first of the men who refused to give up the pursuit of his own happiness in order to serve others.
"To those of you who retain some remnant of dignity and the will to live your lives for yourselves, you have the chance to make the same choice. Examine your values and understand that you must choose one side or the other. Any compromise between good and evil only hurts the good and helps the evil.
"If you've understood what I've said, stop supporting your destroyers. Don't accept their philosophy. Your destroyers hold you by means of your endurance, your generosity, your innocence, and your love. Don't exhaust yourself to help build the kind of world that you see around you now. In the name of the best within you, don't sacrifice the world to those who will take away your happiness for it.
"The world will change when you are ready to pronounce this oath:  I swear by my Life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for the sake of mine."

12 April, 2011

The Argument from Ignorance and related thoughts.

Yesterday, in order to preserve my sanity as much as anything, I was forced to “unfriend” a person on FaceBook whom I largely like and mostly agree with politically.  Barn has one huge problem however; he absolutely refuses to accept any concept that derives from science, constantly falling back on the argument from ignorance and god of the gaps pleas, along with ad hominem attacks, whenever an idea causes him discomfort.

I suspect he prefers modern medicine to the chanting of witch doctors or exorcists driving out demons, but then again I could be wrong about that.  I do know that such basic scientific ideas as evolution and climate change send him into convulsions of vituperous ignorance, unwilling (unable) to present either evidence or logic to support his world view preferences.

The argument from ignorance simply says “I do not understand how that could have occurred naturally, so god must have done it”.  End of argument.

God of the gaps is similar, except it references what science does not yet know.  “You cannot explain how or why this happens or that occurs, so god did it.”

We have all been victims of ad hominem attacks.  “John old boy, science is a fraud and when you accept what it says you are showing how dumb you are.”

So, after a year of unsuccessfully trying to engage in an honest and logical discussion, I finally cut it off.  Life is too short.

All of which is prelude to what now follows:

If you cannot cite evidence for your position, do some research.  Barn simply would not do that.  If however you insist on relying on argument from ignorance or god of the gaps illogic, then please do us both a favor and “unfriend” me now.  I am no longer interested in wasting my time with those who choose to wallow in that combination of ignorance and arrogance that demarcates true believers.  Be gone.

Perhaps just as importantly however, I have come to realize that many Liberals/Progressives use debating points similar to the argument from ignorance to support their positions on a variety of topics.  See if you recognize this:  “If government doesn’t step up and help people (choose one) who are losing their homes, have lost their jobs, are uneducated, can’t afford college, don’t have healthcare (you get the point) no one else will.  It is the civilized (humanist, communal, caring, etc.) thing to do and you are greedy (selfish, uncaring, fascist, etc.) if you object.”

They reject much of the American experience, the Free Market, charity, and personal responsibility with the same alacrity that Barn dismisses evolution and climate change.  Largely Atheists, agnostics, or humanists, they extoll their skepticism about the God of Abraham, all the while worshipping prostrate before the almighty god of big government.

They have not, as they imagine, abandoned the thought of, or need for, a god, they have merely substituted one god for another.  Far from having gained independence, they have only shifted the object of their dependence to one just as arbitrary and controlling as the original.  They suffer in essence from a very unhealthy codependence with government.  I challenge them to rethink that codependency and discover real freedom at last.

09 April, 2011

Another trip through the environmental looking glass.

So President Greenjeans, always anxious to steer our nation in a new direction, whether it's a proper direction or not is immaterial so long as it's new enough for him to take credit for it, pushed his company, Government Motors, to spring into production of the Volt, an electric automobile for which there was little market and none of the necessary infrastructure.  Now we have the Volt, or Government Motors has it to be precise, and everything is going along swimmingly except for one minor issue, which is no one wants to plunk down 45 grand for an automobile the size of a tight jacket.

The price of course is one thing, the size and lack of infrastructure are others.  But the real kicker can be found in a study done by a fellow by the name of George Hoffer, a professor of business at the University of Richmond who specializes in the automobile industry, whatever that means.  Anyway, the professor did a financial analysis comparing the cost of owning one of those Volts with the cost of owning one of those awful, environment-destroying, gasoline-burning compacts, a Chevy Cruz, which is manufactured and sold by the very same Government Motors.

What Professor Hoffer's study concluded was that a person would have to drive the Volt a momentous 209,900 miles before any savings realized, including the massive and shameful government subsidies involved, would equal the cost of driving the Cruz.  209,900 miles, or roundtrip across America roughly thirty-eight times.  It wants to take one's breath away.

It goes without saying then that for the foreseeable future Government Motors is stuck with the Volt, and we taxpayers are similarly stuck with forking over large subsidies to tree-hugging liberals with no sense of proportion.  Not to mention millions of shares of stock in said company which are worth today less than the day they were issued.  Is government wonderful, or what?

27 March, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: U.S. Warplanes Strike Canada

SNS, Washington DC – 27 March:  The Pentagon announced this morning that U.S. Air Force F-18A warplanes have struck strategic targets in Ottawa and Toronto.  Secretary of Defense William Gates was quoted as saying that “…no American ground troops have been deployed, nor are there any immediate plans for so doing.  Our entire objective at this point is to pacify certain Canadian assets and demonstrate our displeasure at their refusal to be bullied into joining our Coalition of the Paid.”

When pressed by reporters as to why Canada and why now, President Barack Obama pointed out that “…up to now my administration has only been bombing and killing brown people in predominately Muslim nations.  We felt it was important for our long-term relations with the Islamic world to show that we are not averse to killing a few white Christians and even some Atheists now and then.  Besides, Canada is very close by, and thus bombing involved far less complex logistics and could be achieved at a far lower cost than if we had deployed assets somewhere farther away, Australia for example.” 

21 March, 2011

And this, from dailycaller.com :

Which famous golfer and part-time Commander-in-Chief said the following, back in 2002?

"Now let me be clear: I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man.  A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him. But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history. I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars."

(Answer: Barack Obama, Wednesday, October 2, 2002)

19 March, 2011

"The Bible is the unchanged, inerrant, Word of God. Isn't it?"

Adapted from original at Truth-Saves.com.

Before scriptural texts were declared sacred they were fair game for revision. The texts we know today are not based on original scriptures but rather from copies of copies of copies. All these copies were copied by hand and during the copy process changes were occasionally made. Today we have discovered many copies of the scriptures from different time periods which allow us to literally see when changes were made and exactly how different the scriptures in the Bible are from that of the oldest copies. Familiar stories like Jesus and the Adulteress and his ascension to Heaven were both later additions.

In John 7:53-8:12, one of the best-known biblical stories, the Pharisees present Jesus with an adulteress to see if he will follow the old laws laid out by God and have her stoned or show her mercy. Jesus responds to this test by saying, "Let the one who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her."

As it turns out though, this story was not originally in the Gospel of John or any of the other original Gospels. It is not found in any of the earliest surviving manuscripts, it is not in the two 3rd century papyrus witnesses to John (P66 and P75) nor is it in the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus or Codex Vaticanus. The writing style is also very different from what is found in the rest of John and includes a large number of words and phrases that are alien to the gospel. The story was actually added and snuck into the Bible some time during the late 4th century or early 5th century to make Jesus and the Bible appear more appealing.

The ascension of Jesus up to Heaven does not actually appear in the original forms of any of the gospels. It was not until 200 years after the supposed event took place that the ascension was added to later copies of Mark and Luke. Mark originally ends with the discovery of an empty tomb. Mathew and John remain to have no mention of the ascension into heaven.

Mark 16:9-20 where Jesus ascends bodily to heaven is not in the earlier scriptures but rather was added later. None of the earliest scriptures that we have such as the Alexandrian Unical Mss, Vaticanus, and Sinaiticus have versus 9-20, they all just end at 16:8. Also early Christian writers noted that the ascension was not in the earliest manuscripts. Jerome and Eusebius both state that the best manuscripts available to them did not contain the extended ending. Also there are significant linguistic and stylistic differences between 9-20 and the rest of Mark. As noted on page 103 of "An Introduction to the New Testament" by new testament scholar Douglas J. Moo, the longer ending also contains several non-Markan words and expressions.

John 5:4 - "For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had." 
John 5:7 - "The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me." 
John 8:7 - "So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." 
John 8:11 - "She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." 
Luke 24:12 - "Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass." 
Luke 22:20 - "Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you." 
Luke 22:44 - "And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground." 
Luke 24:51 - "And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven." 
Mark 16:9-20 - "When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it. Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either. Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well." After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it." 

11 March, 2011

Pricing Brains...

In the hospital the relatives were gathered in the waiting room, where a family member lay gravely ill. Finally, the doctor came in looking tired and somber. 'I'm afraid I'm the bearer of bad news,' he said as he surveyed the worried faces. 'The only hope left for your loved one at this time is a brain transplant. It's an experimental procedure, very risky, but it is the only hope. His insurance will cover the operation, but you will have to pay for the brain out of pocket.'

The family members sat silent as they absorbed the news. After a time, someone asked, 'How much will a brain cost?'

The doctor quickly responded, '$15,000 for the brain of a religious person – you know, a Christian, Jew, Muslim, or such; or $2,500 for an Atheist’s brain.'

The moment turned awkward. Most of those assembled were Christians, except for Ed, the black sheep Atheist of the family, and they smiled at each other over the fact that their brains were considered so much more valuable than those of a non-believer.  Finally Aunt Tilly, unable to control her curiosity, blurted out the question everyone was dying to ask, 'Why are believers’ brains so much more valuable than them-there non-believers’ brains?'

The doctor smiled at Tilly’s obvious innocence and patiently explained to the family, 'It's just standard pricing procedure. We have to price the Atheist brains a lot lower because, after all,   they've been used.'

03 March, 2011

Spreading the News - Moral Atheism

I had never done it before, never thought about it in fact, and I doubt that very many other Atheists have either, which is why I mention it.

Twice this week I engaged in what, just for fun, I'll refer to as spontaneous acts of morality.  I am writing about them not to toot my own horn, Darwin knows I do enough of that, but hopefully to start a trend.

The first incident occurred in the parking lot of my local Kroger.  An elderly man approached me, obviously distraught.  The battery of his car was kaput, and the serviceman leaning against it had given him a price of $29 for the call and jump.  The fellow explained he only had $11 and needed help.  He held out his license to me and offered it as collateral until he could get to his bank and withdraw the money to repay me.

"Don't worry about it," I said as I returned his license and handed him a twenty dollar bill.  "Pay me back by helping someone else out when the opportunity arises."

He accepted my offer with several thank yous and a promise he would do a good deed in return.  He was halfway back to his car when it hit me, and I called out to him, "By the way sir..."  He turn to face me and I finished, "Just so you know, I'm an Atheist."  He looked puzzled at first, then smiled and waved.

Then today I was in a local wine shop.  I had selected three bottles each of Orin Swift's The Prisoner and Abstract, both excellent zin blends, and a bottle of 1988 La Grande Dame Champagne.  (A splurge to be sure on the Champagne, but they had it on sale for $139 and it goes for $199 everywhere else I've seen it.)

I got busy scanning my credit card while the clerk rang up my purchase.  "That will be $179 with tax", he announced.  I looked at him, then at the POS monitor which clearly read "Items: 6".

I picked up the bottle of Champagne, handed it back to him and said, "I suspect you missed this."

"No, I rang it up," he responded.

"You couldn't have," I insisted.

He finally examined the register tape and, sure enough, the Champagne hadn't scanned.

He looked stunned.  "Wow, thanks for being honest, most people wouldn't have said anything."

I started to demur, then thought better of it, leaned across the counter and said softly, "By the way, just so you know, I'm an Atheist."

He stared at me for several seconds, then grabbed the box containing my purchase and said, "I insist you let me carry this to your car for you."

After placing the box in my car he held out his hand.  "Thanks again."

Week after week, month after month, year in and year out, Atheists go about their lives at least as moral and caring as the population at large.  At the same time we are constantly told that we can't be as moral as religious people, because, well, we don't have a god to scare the shit out of us.

Beginning this week, I am proclaiming my Atheism every time I do a good deed  In doing so I intend to make it difficult at best for anyone with whom I have come in contact to ever think or repeat such a slur again.  I strongly urge you to do the same.

02 March, 2011




    23 February, 2011

    It's the Damnedest Thing!

    We live on a golf course, with a small pond just beyond the tee area that abuts our property.  It looks like this:

    Since last Spring I have been telling friends and family that from time to time  I have seen a beaver in and about the pond.  Normal reactions have been "What, you can't tell the difference between a beaver and a muskrat?", or "You know, rats do get really big in Texas."

    This morning I noticed that a tree that was close to the pond was down.  We had some heavy winds a couple of nights ago, and at first I thought it might have succumbed to them.  Then I took a second look.

    Anybody willing to venture a guess what happened to yon tree?  Look closely...

    I rest my case, oh ye of little faith.

    The Incredible Shrinking Progressive Mind...

    Last evening I engaged in the following "conversation" with an extreme Liberal on Facebook.  In addition to the errors I point out below, Mr. Stone also under-guessed (He obviously made no effort to discern any facts) the Federal excise tax on gasoline, which is $0.184 itself. (I overlooked that fact in my original comment, I'll plead a combination of the lateness of the day as well as my incredulousness with the gentleman's complete intellectual vacuousness.)   Please note especially the claim of Mr. Stone that anything that wasn't state or federal excise tax was "profit" to the company.  This is the total lack of education and logical thinking we are dealing with as we strive to rebuild our nation.  It may be hopeless.  

    This morning Mr. Stone "unfriended" me.  His loss, not mine, because he  gave up the only  connection to fact and common sense he apparently had.

    John Stone  Today - Tue Feb 22, 2011 -- Up again! Look at diesel prices. 
    Here in Nevada 85% of the gas price is PROFIT - Only 15.5 % is state, county & Federal taxes

    Omar Mack Its crazier than you think. Check gas price tracker at gasbuddy.com
    Diesel is over $4 here in parts of San Diego

    John Stone DAMN!!!!!!! And it is gonna keep climbing as long as teabagers/gop keep charging ahead!

    John Eli Shuey ‎"Profit"? John, you are an idiot! What about the cost of exploration, recovery, transportation, refining, and distribution? What about the cost of the (station) building, and its taxes? What about the labor costs? What about employment, real estate, and income taxes? Did you know, did you care, that the profit margins of oil companies is slightly lower than the average profit margin of all S&P 500 companies? Do you even know the difference between selling price and profit margin, or gross profit and net profit? You and your progressive friends are freaking ignorant!

    21 February, 2011

    You see, here’s the thing: A Reality Check for Supporters of our Huge Government Status Quo.

    Regardless of the tax scheme, marginal rates, or any other trick you might try, effective tax revenues always max out at about 20% of GDP.  It’s a fact of economics.

    Our problem therefore is not that we are not raising enough revenues, we clearly are maxing out the 20% ceiling, but that for 50 years or more we have tolerated our politicians – usually in an unholy alliance with unions, bureaucrats, corporations, and academics – to vastly exceed the 20% level in spending.  Take in 20%, spend 30%, and pretty soon the debt poop will hit the economic fan.  That is where we are today, and the longer we wait the worse it will get.

    One can lament all they want about how we cannot cut this program or sacrifice that spending, but the fact is we must reduce government outlays a minimum of 33% if we are to survive as a going enterprise.   If you think things are tough now, you do not want to live in a nation where government can no longer borrow, where the dollar is devalued over the next ten years by the same 94% that it was over the past sixty years, and where there are no funds available for investment, growth, and job creation.

    Suck it up now folks or be prepared for much worse very soon.

    The Top Ten Reasons to Adopt a Greyhound...

    10. They truly know the meaning of retirement. 

    9. People will stare at your dog instead of at you. 

    8. They can curl up to the size of a ball if they need to. 

    7. They can expand to the size of the whole bed if they want to. 

    6. They don't bark, keeping your neighborhood safe for burglars. 

    5. You can play their ribs like an air guitar. 

    4. They are the only dogs that know how to really smile. 

    3. You can dress them up as a reindeer for Christmas. 

    2. They are never confused with poodles. 

    1. A Greyhound in flight is the most amazing sight you'll ever hope to see in your own back yard.

    12 February, 2011

    An Open Letter to Mr. Banik and Other Uninformed Gun Control Advocates

    This morning an FB friend that I like and agree with on most issues challenged supporters of gun rights to cite just one case where an individual carrying a firearm stopped a mass murder spree.

    Why Subrata, a naturalized citizen of Canada, is so concerned about folks in The U.S. exercising their Constitutional right to Keep and Bear Arms is an interesting issue, but I will respond to his challenge never-the-less.  Following are four such examples, and then a few additional facts:

    1)  In December 2007, Matthew Murray pledged he wanted to kill as many Christians as he could. The 24-year-old went to New Life Church in Colorado Springs and opened fire, killing 4 people in the process. Thankfully, an armed female congregant was able to draw her weapon and shoot Murray several times, stopping him from killing any others.

    2)  In 2002, a shooting at Appalachian School of Law left three people dead. However, the shooter was stopped before he could kill any more because two students were able to run to their cars, get their guns, and use their weapons to halt the rampage.

    3)  Reuters reported on July 6, 1999: "A shootout at a California shooting range ended a bizarre hostage drama ... Sgt. Anton Morec of the Santa Clara Police Department said the aspiring gunman, 21-year-old Richard Gable Stevens ... 'intended to go out in a blaze of glory,' noting Stevens had accumulated more than 100 rounds of ammunition for his rented 9 mm semi-automatic weapon.  " 'It certainly looks like he intended to take a lot more people out.'
    "Morec said Stevens arrived at the National Shooting Club Monday evening and rented the rifle for target practice. ... After several minutes on the range, however, Stevens returned to the club's gun store and shot at the ceiling. He then herded three store employees out the door into an alley, saying he intended to kill them. "Unknown to Stevens, one store employee was carrying a .45-caliber handgun concealed beneath his shirt. When Stevens looked away, the employee fired, hitting Stevens several times in the chest and bringing him to the ground."
    After Stevens was hospitalized, police found a note to his parents, predicting they would be bankrupted by lawsuits from the relatives of his intended "victims." Reuters said police concluded that, "The quick action by the gun club employee may have headed off a massacre."

    4)  On December 7th of 2007, an unemployed man with a police record decided, according to a note found later, to go out in a blaze of glory by killing as many people at an Omaha mall as possible before committing suicide.  A story in a local paper reported:  "As Mr. Hawkins moved into the ideal sniper position on the upper deck, an unnamed middle-aged man emerging from the nearby Von Maur department store noticed his odd behavior and glimpsed the muzzle of the rifle peeking out from the sweater. Almost instinctively the man moved toward Mr. Hawkins, reaching to his belt to draw out a Springfield EMP, a small, 9mm semi-automatic handgun.

    As the would-be famous mass killer raised the rifle to his shoulder, the unnamed shopper commanded him to stop. Mr. Hawkins turned the muzzle of the AK-47 toward the commanding voice, a single shot rang out and Mr. Hawkins staggered, dropped his weapon and fell against the railing.
    By this time, two other shoppers were aiming their pistols at Mr. Hawkins — a young, single woman pulled a .40 caliber Glock 27 from her purse, and a retired farmer drew his 9mm Ruger SR9 (an early Christmas gift from his wife). Together with the first man they moved in to separate Mr. Hawkins from his gun, search him for other weapons and restrain him until law enforcement arrived.

    Had Mr. Banik wished, he could have found these stories and others, but even though he eschews firearms he still chose to shoot from the hip.

    Now for the facts:  1)  In every state that has enacted right to carry laws, every one, violent crime has dropped in the years following enactment in spite of the fact that gun ownership and the number of armed citizens walking the streets increased.  2)  Three studies, two by liberal academics and the other by the Clinton Justice Department, have estimated that the number of crimes prevented by legally armed citizens range from between 1.5 million and 2.5 million annually, usually with no shots being fired.  That's over 6,000 murders, rapes, and violent assaults EVERY DAY.

    I have chosen to carry a firearm to protect myself and my family because I know the police can't and won't.  The unfortunate fact that Subrata ignores is that he doesn't even have the right to make that choice.  I hope he never has cause to regret it.