Monday, December 31, 2012

The Trouble With Science

Anthony Watts (Watts Up With That?) posted an article entitled Aliens Cause Global Warming: A Caltech Lecture by Michael Crichton. Crichton presented the lecture on January 17, 2003 -- a decade ago. Watts posted the article in 2010, but I just discovered it. I'm posting this here now because it explains so well the objections I have had to junk science being used to drive faulty public policy and governmental malpractice.

Michael Crichton is of course a well known science fiction writer, known for Westworld, The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, and many others. But he is also a strong critic of junk science and the devolution of science for political ends. He presented many lectures in support of good science. Crichton attended Harvard Medical School, and was a medical doctor. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Joy To The World -- Part 2

In Joy To The World -- Part 0, I noted that the opposite of Joy isn't sorrow or sadness, joy is the absence of fear.

Two of the most joyous stories in history -- of lasting joy -- are the story of Christmas, and the story of liberty and freedom. I celebrated the story of Christmas in Joy To The World -- Part 1. This is the story of Freedom.

Thomas Jefferson may have said it better than anyone before or since, in The Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
This passage in The Declaration of Independence represents some of the fundamental principles from The Age of Enlightenment, but in itself does not specify any particular form of government. That came later.

Prior to the implementation of The Constitution of the United States, few governments had any written specification that enumerates the powers of government, nor any Bill of Rights. Subjects lived in fear of what the government might do to them (so rarely do they think of what the government might do for them). The constitutionally enumerated powers is the list of things the government does for us -- because we authorize it (or ask it) on our behalf, so that we can mind our own business. The Bill of Rights lists a few of the things that no good government would ever do to us. 

The Constitution represents one of the first attempts to standardize liberty and justice for all. Being written down in the form of a contract, in plain English, any literate citizen can read and understand what it says, and what it means. Consisting of 4543 words, a person can read it in one evening. ObamaCare, by contrast is approximately 2.8 million words, and counting. Do you have any fear that some of those words might affect you adversely? It certainly does not fill me with joy!
It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood. ~ James Madison
Ya think? The sheer number of bureaucracies that will spring up to implement this ObamaCare monstrosity will dwarf the EPA, which is one of our more oppressive and unconstrained bureaucracies. 

The best way to reduce fear is to give people more options, more control over their own lives. When are we the most fearful? When things are going out of control, like stepping on the brakes on an icy road, careening towards a fiscal cliff. When are we the most joyful? When we manage to stop without flying into the abyss. Of course, there are many things in our lives that we can't control, but government needn't be one of them.

I used to think The Constitution would protect me. It will, but only if We the People insist on it. That hasn't been happening lately. The Constitution can't uphold and defend itself. The American form of government has constitutional protections on our individual rights. Having blown right past the enumerated powers, our government is now eating away at the fringes (infringing) on our Bill of Rights.

I fear that too few voters know what it means to live in a free country. In other words, they have no idea what the difference is between being a citizen and being a subject. If we hope to restore this nation to its full potential, we classical liberals must teach the next generation about the joy of self-determination and individualism.

Principled Legislators

There are still a few legislators out there who are not self-serving vote hustlers. They became legislators to serve the citizens and, swimming against the stream, restore government to its proper role of protecting our natural rights -- instead of the unauthorized role of controlling others and redistributing wealth. They deserve our thanks and support. I'm sure they'd appreciate some support; it's pretty lonely in Olympia for classical liberals.

From their Facebook page:
Making lower taxes, less government, and more freedom a reality since 2012... at the state and local level. If freedom is worth dying for it is worth voting for. Join the fight for freedom today!
Our mission is to restore a constitutional State of Washington based on the Republican form of guaranteed under Article IV, Section4 of The Constitution of the United States, so that our children and grandchildren can live in peace and prosperity and freedom.
 They have an agenda, but it's pro-liberty (unlike some other well-known agendas in the news lately) :
Lower Taxes
1. Balanced Budget Amendment
2. 2/3rds Requirement to Raise Taxes Amendment
3. Protect Small Farms and Businesses (More to Follow)
4. Relieve the Tax Burden on Working Families (More to Follow)
Less Government
5. Regulatory Reform and Fairness Act
6. Protect Private Property Rights (More to Follow)
7. Save our Homes Act (Reducing Property Tax Penalties)
8. Healthcare Freedom Act (Opt Washington Out of Obamacare)
9. Energy Freedom Act (Opt Out of Cap & Trade, Cease Membership in WCI)
More Freedom
10. Protecting the Right to Life (More to Follow)
11. Constitutional Currency Restoration Act
12. Firearms Freedom Act (CCL Expiration Notification and Location Clarification)
13. Protect Right of Conscientious Objection(More to Follow)
14. Ensure Free, Fair, Accurate Elections (More to Follow)
15. Protect Civil Liberties (More to Follow)
16. Protect Food Freedom (More to Follow)
It's a pleasure to report things like this. This is precisely what I had in mind with my New Enlightenment initiative.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hi Mom!

The Bellingham Herald printed an article about The Whatcom Tea Party, in which this blog is mentioned. So now, even more than my immediate family will see this! Oh, and my name might have come up too. Just sharing...

For the record, I am a Citizen Journalist. This blog is in no way affiliated with The Whatcom Tea Party. If you want to know what The Whatcom Tea Party officially thinks about anything, visit their website. If you want to know what individual tea partiers may be thinking, like them on facebook.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I'm Okay! (The Asteroid Missed Me)

It turns out the Mayan calendar is just like our Gregorian calendars that end every year. Nothing happens. It's a human invention. It has relevance to us, but the universe could not care less. The good and the bad stuff that happens to us seems to occur randomly with respect to our calendars.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Don't You Just Hate Rush Limbaugh?

Rush Limbaugh said this on his radio program yesterday (he's talking about what it means to live in a "free" country):
What is abundantly clear now is that our government, federal and state, no longer exist for the people. The reality now is the people exist for the government. Whether you like it that way or not is not the point. The point is the Rubicon has now been crossed. We all work in service to the government at all levels. That's how government sees it. That's how the president sees it; that's how senators see it. That's how state legislators see it and governors see it.

Our income is not ours. Our property is not ours. Our work isn't ours. The government has first claim to all of it -- whether in the form of income, real property, guns, whatever. The government now claims the authority to both dictate and ban -- and there seem to be no avenues to stop this, and there's no opposition to it. The Republicans in Washington are rallying around failure at this point. Obama equals failure. The Republicans are rallying around it.

Now Republicans all across the country are even talking like the Democrats. "We must have a balanced approach. We must tax the rich. We must penalize those people who haven't paid their fair share. We must go get additional 'revenue' from those who have more than they need." Republicans and Democrats alike are now using this language, and what the language means is that our income isn't ours, our property isn't ours.

We exist for the government.

The government no longer exists for us.

It's the other way around.
Don't you just hate Rush Limbaugh?

I'm not "rich", but I don't hate the rich. I don't think they owe me anything. A "rich" man (or a richer man than I) has signed my paychecks since I started working full-time in 1978. In the five or six jobs I've had in my career, I worked for him, he paid me. We're even. Hell, one of my employers even paid me while I was sick in the hospital for six weeks, and my sick leave had run out, and I had burned off all my vacation. He said, "Don't worry about it. You just get better. We'll cover for you". (Thank you, Dale Peterson, wherever you are!)

Pay their fair share, my good right... left. These people give more to this country than Barack Obama could ever imagine. Are some of them jerks? Sure! Are some of them greedy pigs? Of course! That's the beauty of the free market. People acting in their own self interest promote prosperity, and do good for society without being told to. Without being forced by government. It happens automatically. It self-regulates, at least as well as government ever possibly could. Wealth redistributes itself, at least as evenly as government ever possibly could. Can't you see it? Go freedom!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Joy To The World -- Part 1

In Joy To The World -- Part 0, I noted that the opposite of Joy isn't sorrow or sadness, joy is the absence of fear.

Two of the most joyous stories in history -- of lasting joy -- are the story of Christmas, and the story of liberty and freedom. This is the story of Christmas.

Linus is reciting from Luke 2:8~14, which includes,
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 
 Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
No doubt the Jews of the day took this to mean another political, military and spiritual leader who would throw off their Roman oppressors and give them the @$$-kicking they so richly deserve -- someone along the lines of Moses or David. However, as Jesus grew to adulthood, it became evident that he took scant interest in issues political and military. It was more along the lines of, "yes, you're oppressed, but pretty soon you'll be dead, and that's where the real trouble starts". 

It was more along these lines (John 3:16):
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For a bunch of humans who could never live up to the ten commandments, this removed a big element of fear. This is not some superstitious mumbo-jumbo, although it is often interpreted that way.  Sometimes, the words get in the way of big concepts. As my son Arthur simply put it, "If you stand with Jesus, you'll have the strength to face death." (he's home schooled).

To put a little different perspective on it, none of us has any experience with not being alive. We don't remember anything at birth or before, and only one person has ever reported back to humanity what it's like after death. It's scary. Fearsome, even. Having a way to face death would remove that fear. Joy!

In Joy To The World -- Part 2, I'll talk about liberty and freedom.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Flash Mob

Well Done! We need more of this. Merry Christmas Everyone!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Slaughter of Innocents

"The Slaughter of Innocents" is the headline on Drudge today. It pretty well describes the horrific massacre at the school in Connecticut where a lone gunman killed his mother and 20 kinder-gardeners.  I am stunned and saddened. The poor parents. The poor kids that had to watch. The victims, who had to suffer. The sheer terror of it all.

Pundits are blaming video games, television, the goth culture, bullying, and of course guns. Everything except the person responsible (or irresponsible). This is not normal behavior for human beings. Killing oneself is especially peculiar. Yet, many of these tragedies end in suicide. It's a pattern. If psychology really is a science (I'm skeptical about that, but hopeful in this case), then it ought to be able to identify and classify personality traits that are predictors of this kind of behavior. Making reliable predictions is what real science is able to do. We should be able to treat afflicted individuals without infringing on their inalienable rights.

There seems to have been an up-tick in the reporting, if not the incidence of these kinds of tragedies. We really need to focus what would make a person feel compelled, or think it's OK to kill innocent human beings. In addition to the usual suspects (television, video games, guns), we'd better include environmental extremists, who tell us that humans are the worst thing for the planet, and Senator Barack Obama, who voted for partial birth abortions, and against a measure that would have made it illegal to allow babies who survive an abortion, to die alone in hospital janitorial supply rooms. To be intellectually honest, we should at least throw those ideas into the hopper for consideration.

As one blogger pointed out, "it’s not the weapon, it’s the psychopath who preys on the undefended... it’s the reason we have the right to bear arms. Mass murders occur in places where personal arms are prohibited. In the worst cases, it’s one’s own government that’s the perpetrator." Of course, the 'progressives' will never believe this. It is the reason we must utterly defeat progressivism.
Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters. ~ Benjamin Franklin
Maybe the coarsening of our culture goes hand-in-hand with the lessening of our freedom.

Update: I hate to admit it, but this article is much better than mine.

Update II: Here is more to suggest the real societal problem is how to detect and deal with dangerous mental illness:
We're wasting our time wringing our hands over gun control. We must heal the sick minds - or quarantine them. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Letter to Senator Murray: The Fiscal Cliff

Patti Murray sent me an email containing the following:

Last week, I returned to the Senate floor to continue to put pressure on my colleagues in the House to pass the Middle Class Tax Cut Act, which the Senate passed in July. The bill would extend tax cuts for 98% of workers and 97% small business owners, and would let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire as scheduled.  I also discussed Speaker Boehner’s recent proposal that would protect the rich from paying higher rates.  I believe the easiest way to raise revenue from the wealthiest Americans is simply to allow the Bush tax cuts for the top 2% to expire as scheduled. It would move us a long way toward the balanced and bipartisan deal we are aiming toward.

The remark about repealing the Bush tax cuts really galled me, and I'm not "rich". It doesn't affect me directly, but it does fly in the face of economic reality. So I just had to write back,

Dear Senator Murray,

Do you really think you can extract enough money from the so-called "rich" to finance your grand designs? You do realize that money redistributes itself, don't you? What do you think those rich folks would do with their money if you didn't tax it? Smoke it? No! They'd spend it! They'd invest it! And what do those activities have in common? They create new business, new jobs, innovation, and wealth. The only catch is, you have to work to participate. But jobs would be available in abundance if the government would quit erecting roadblocks and threaten the very people who are best situated to create jobs.

The simplest way to get the rich to finance your gargantuan government is to let the Bush tax cuts expire. Yeah, you just keep thinking that. You might as well try it -- the economy's already in the toilet -- and see how that works out for you (and the poor, tragically and ironically).

It's so sad to see my beloved country in a death spiral at the hands of people who haven't a clue about economics, prosperity, and liberty and justice for all.

Mitt Romney said, "I'll get this country working again!", and 51% of the electorate said, "Screw that!" I'm afraid we've passed the point of no return for a sustainable economy.

Karl Uppiano

Friday, December 7, 2012

Joy To The World -- Part 0

Around Christmastime, we hear a lot about joy in songs, in Christmas cards and in church services (remember those?). What is joy? Is it like in this song?

I have to admit, this song brought me a great deal of happiness in 1970. I wore out two vinyl 45s of it (well polystyrene actually). It's one of my three favorite songs of all time (along with Hey Jude and Here Comes the Sun). But the definition of Joy online is somewhat circular. Maybe we should look at what joy isn't: The opposite of joy isn't sorrow or sadness. The opposite of joy is fear.

So those songs didn't bring me joy directly, they merely distracted me from my fears for the few minutes that it took to hear them. I think the Abbey Road version of Here Comes the Sun is musical perfection itself, and that does make me happy, masking fear and leaving joy for a few minutes.

Think about the things in life that gave you the most joy: Learning that you or a loved one had beaten cancer or some other terrible ordeal. Or that you were not going to be laid off. Or that you passed chemistry, and you could graduate after all. Or that she said, "yes" instead of "no" when you asked her to marry you. The joy comes from the removal of fear.

Two of the most joyous stories in history -- of lasting joy -- are the story of Christmas, and the story of liberty and freedom. I'll be discussing those in Joy To The World -- Part 1 and Joy To The World -- Part 2. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The New Enlightenment

Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull
The American ideals of liberty and freedom were based on the principles of The Enlightenment. Thinkers such as John Locke, Sir Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson influenced, and were influenced by it. The Enlightenment was based on reason, the scientific method, skepticism, and it rejected superstition. Classical liberalism grew out of The Enlightenment. 

Progressivism grew out of The Counter-Enlightenment (endarkenment?) movement. Following the tactics of Antonio Gramsci and Saul Alinsky, 'progressives' infiltrated the schools, the unions, the media, government bureaucracy, even churches, implementing the long march through the institutions. This long march started at the end of the 19th century and continued to the present time. Based on current cultural norms, I'd say the march is largely complete. 

We (classical liberals) have to go on the offensive. We have to stop playing defense. That's a losing proposition. I’m convinced of it. Glenn Beck is that, to some degree. Michael Savage is offensive, if not effective. But maybe he’s onto something. Even Rush Limbaugh is on the offensive a lot of the time.

Here's a video that illustrates what I mean by going on the offensive:

We need more of this, and it needs to be subversive. That's right, subversive. We are the new counterculture. We need to infiltrate the schools, the unions, and the media.

Remember: except for labor unions (which have always been counter-enlightenment, based on my reading of their objectives and tactics), the 'progressives' had to infiltrate once. Now, classical liberals have to infiltrate back. The first enlightenment is over. It's time to start The New Enlightenment.

The New Enlightenment would reject centralized government and the concomitant collectivism, conformity of thought, behavior, and outcomes, environmental superstition -- and instead demand more individual liberty, diversity of thought, creativity, initiative (and risk), and restore the scientific method and healthy skepticism to our culture. Freedom is risky, but tyranny is deadly. Give me liberty, or give me death! Let's roll!