"Don't hurt people and don't take their stuff" - Matt Kibbe


Bill of Rights Day

By Grant Davies

I thought it was appropriate to "celebrate" Bill Of Rights Day in light of the recent (and not so recent) violations of our rights by our own government.

One of the most egregious violations occurred this week when the House of Representatives passed a bill called Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2015  that allows government to spy on you in violation of the Fourth Amendment. As it is described on Rep. Justin Amash's FB page; "Sec. 309 provides the first statutory authority for the acquisition, retention, and dissemination of U.S. persons’ private communications obtained without legal process such as a court order or a subpoena."

It should be noted that 99 members of that august body voted Nay on the bill. Many of them (55) were Democrats. For that vote they should be congratulated even if they regularly vote to violate your rights. 44 Republicans also voted against it. The rest sold your rights down the river.

Here is a short report on the event by Ben Swann. You probably won't see this reported very many other places. It is followed by a short article about the state of our Bill of Rights by Tim Lynch of the Cato Institute. So spend a few moments listening and reading the offerings so you can tell your friends what's happening to them while they concentrate on meaningless tripe in the rest of the media.

Today is Bill of Rights Day.


Today is Bill of Rights Day. So it’s an appropriate time to consider the state of our constitutional safeguards.

Let’s consider each amendment in turn.

The First Amendment says that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech.” Government officials, however, have insisted that they can gag recipients of “national security letters” and censor broadcast ads in the name of campaign finance reform.

The Second Amendment says the people have the right “to keep and bear arms.” Government officials, however, make it difficult to keep a gun in the home and make it a crime for a citizen to carry a gun for self-protection.

The Third Amendment says soldiers may not be quartered in our homes without the consent of the owners. This safeguard is one of the few that is in fine shape – so we can pause here for a laugh.

The Fourth Amendment says the people have the right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures. Government officials, however, insist that they can conduct commando-style raids on our homes and treat airline travelers like prison inmates by conducting virtual strip searches.

The Fifth Amendment says that private property shall not be taken “for public use without just compensation.” Government officials, however, insist that they can use eminent domain to take away our property and give it to other private parties who covet it.

The Sixth Amendment says that in criminal prosecutions, the person accused is guaranteed a right to trial by jury. Government officials, however, insist that they can punish people who want to have a trial—“throwing the book” at those who refuse to plead guilty—which explains why 95 percent of the criminal cases never go to trial.

The Seventh Amendment guarantees the right to a jury trial in civil cases where the controversy “shall exceed twenty dollars.” Government officials, however, insist that they can impose draconian fines on people without jury trials.

The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishments. Government officials, however, insist that a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense is not cruel.

The Ninth Amendment says that the enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights should not be construed to deny or disparage others “retained by the people.” Government officials, however, insist that they will decide for themselves what rights, if any, will be retained by the people.

The Tenth Amendment says that the powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states, or to the people. Government officials, however, insist that they will decide for themselves what powers they possess, and have extended federal control over health care, crime, education, and other matters the Constitution reserves to the states and the people.

It’s a disturbing snapshot, to be sure, but not one the Framers of the Constitution would have found altogether surprising. They would sometimes refer to written constitutions as mere “parchment barriers,” or what we call “paper tigers.” They nevertheless concluded that having a written constitution was better than having nothing at all.

The key point is this: A free society does not just “happen.” It has to be deliberately created and deliberately maintained. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. To remind our fellow citizens of their responsibility in that regard, the Cato Institute has distributed more than five million copies of our pocket Constitution. At this time of year, it’ll make a great stocking stuffer.

Let’s enjoy the holidays but let’s also resolve to be more vigilant about defending our Constitution. To learn more about Cato’s work in defense of the Constitution, go here. To support the work of Cato, go here.

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We Need Fewer Laws

Editors note:

The following is republished here by express permission of Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute. It appeared on his blog International Liberty on Dec. 11, 2014. One of the main reasons I decided to repost it here is because of Dan's elegant description of the reason he is a libertarian instead of a conservative. It's something I have had to explain on many occasions, but I've never done it as well as he has in just a few short sentences.

"Which is a good description of why I’m a libertarian notwithstanding my personal conservatism.

I don’t like drugs, but I’m not willing to let someone else get killed because they have a different perspective.

I don’t like gambling, but I don’t want another person to die because they want to play cards.

I don’t like prostitution, but it’s awful to think someone could lose his life because he paid for sex."

The rest of the post is worth your time as well.
Grant Davies

We Need Fewer Laws: Over-Criminalization Hurts the Innocent and Empowers Government

I wrote last week about the lunacy of a tax system that created the conditions that led to the death of Eric Garner in New York City.
But I wrote that column in the context of how high tax rates lead to tax avoidance and tax evasion. Let’s now zoom out and look at the bigger picture.
Using the Garner case as a springboard, George Will explains that we have too many laws.
Garner died at the dangerous intersection of something wise, known as “broken windows” policing, and something worse than foolish: decades of overcriminalization. …when more and more behaviors are criminalized, there are more and more occasions for police, who embody the state’s monopoly on legitimate violence, and who fully participate in humanity’s flaws, to make mistakes. Harvey Silverglate, a civil liberties attorney, titled his 2009 book “Three Felonies a Day” to indicate how easily we can fall afoul of the United States’ metastasizing body of criminal laws. Professor Douglas Husak of Rutgers University says that approximately 70 percent of American adults have, usually unwittingly, committed a crime for which they could be imprisoned. …The scandal of mass incarceration is partly produced by the frivolity of the political class, which uses the multiplication of criminal offenses as a form of moral exhibitionism. This, like Eric Garner’s death, is a pebble in the mountain of evidence that American government is increasingly characterized by an ugly and sometimes lethal irresponsibility.
I don’t know if Americans actually do commit three felonies each day, and I also don’t know if 70 percent of us have committed offenses punishable by jail time, but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to learn that these numbers are correct.
They may even be understated.
Indeed, when I share horrifying examples of government thuggery, these generally involve brutal and over-zealous enforcement of things that oftentimes shouldn’t be against the law in the first place.
This Eric Allie cartoon is a good example, and definitely will get added to my collection of images that capture the essence of government.
In other words, George Will wasn’t exaggerating when he wrote that, “American government is increasingly characterized by an ugly and sometimes lethal irresponsibility.”
Writing for Bloomberg, Professor Steven Carter of Yale Law School has a similar perspective.
I always counsel my first-year students never to support a law they are not willing to kill to enforce. …I remind them that the police go armed to enforce the will of the state, and if you resist, they might kill you. I wish this caution were only theoretical. It isn’t. …It’s not just cigarette tax laws that can lead to the death of those the police seek to arrest. It’s every law. Libertarians argue that we have far too many laws, and the Garner case offers evidence that they’re right. …it is unavoidable that there will be situations where police err on the side of too much violence rather than too little. Better training won’t lead to perfection. But fewer laws would mean fewer opportunities for official violence to get out of hand.
A just society should have very few laws, and those laws should be both easy to understand and they should focus on protecting life, liberty, and property.
Sadly, that’s not a good description for what now exists in America. Professor Carter explains.
…federal law alone includes more than 3,000 crimes, fewer than half of which found in the Federal Criminal Code. The rest are scattered through other statutes. A citizen who wants to abide by the law has no quick and easy way to find out what the law actually is — a violation of the traditional principle that the state cannot punish without fair notice. In addition to these statutes, he writes, an astonishing 300,000 or more federal regulations may be enforceable through criminal punishment in the discretion of an administrative agency. Nobody knows the number for sure. Husak cites estimates that more than 70 percent of American adults have committed a crime that could lead to imprisonment. …making an offense criminal also means that the police will go armed to enforce it. Overcriminalization matters… Every new law requires enforcement; every act of enforcement includes the possibility of violence. …Don’t ever fight to make something illegal unless you’re willing to risk the lives of your fellow citizens to get your way.
Which is a good description of why I’m a libertarian notwithstanding my personal conservatism.
I don’t like drugs, but I’m not willing to let someone else get killed because they have a different perspective.
I don’t like gambling, but I don’t want another person to die because they want to play cards.
I don’t like prostitution, but it’s awful to think someone could lose his life because he paid for sex.
This Glenn McCoy cartoon summarizes what’s happening far too often in this country.
P.S. Since this has been a depressing topic, let’s close by switching to some good news.
I’ve previously explained why I’m somewhat optimistic on the future of the Second Amendment. Well, the folks at Pew Research have some new polling data that bolsters my optimism.
Here’s one result that put a smile on my face.
And here’s a breakdown that’s also encouraging. Note how blacks have become much more supportive of gun rights.
I guess this means “Stretch” and “R.J.” have a lot more support than just two years ago.
And it’s worth noting that cops have the same perspective.
In other words, these are not fun times for gun grabbers.


Time Machine?

By Seth

Time machine? Sadly, no.

The news reported recently that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac plan to offer programs to allow young home buyers to buy a home with as little as 3% down to make it easier to buy a home.

Hmm…I thought for sure this was a headline from 1995, but no. It’s from December 2014.

Do they not remember how this ended last time?

Why not start a program that teaches financially responsible behavior young home buyers can use to save up a sizable down payment so they can truly be homeowners and not just renters with a deed.

I know why. That doesn't sound as good.

This commentary was originally posted to the excellent blog Our Dinner Table by our guest contributor Seth. It's like all of his contributions; on point and to the point. 



Liberals are Angry at Gruber

I love it when I see liberals eating their own.

They claim they are indignant because Dr. Jonathan Gruber called the American people stupid in his many public remarks over the last few years. But the real reason they are angry at him is because he told the truth about purposeful lying to the people.

And as this goofy Democrat, Elijah Cummings, admits in a huge slip of his own; “But worst of all, Dr. Gruber’s statements gave Republicans a public relations gift." *

* edited for clarity

But worst of all,” the ranking member concluded, ”Dr. Gruber’s statements gave Republicans a public relations gift in their relentless political campaign to tear down the ACA and eliminate healthcare for millions of Americans!”


Different Types of Whistle Blowers

By Grant Davies

Recently there have been two cases of people blowing the whistle on the US government for wrongdoing. Both cases exposed significant violations of the public trust, not to mention the rights of the citizens.

Both people who exposed the wrongdoing deserve credit for helping the American people. All the citizens are better off knowing what is really going on and how the government deceived them.

One, Edward Snowden, seems to have had the intention of doing so for what he thought of as his duty as an American. The other, Jonathan Gruber, seems to have done so inadvertently and for all the wrong reasons, even if those reasons are not very clear to me. I could speculate about what motivated him, but I'm not sure that would be helpful or enlightening.

Meanwhile, in both cases the government is scrambling to respond. Below is a video that shows some of what the response to the Gruber truth telling has been.

Hat tip to Carl Holzhauser for submitting the video.


Flashlight App

Some of you may have heard about this but didn't take is seriously. My flip phone doesn't have apps so the snoops will have to use other methods to spy on me.

After watching the interview you may want to direct your friends to this post.

Hat tip to Mike Tobin for the heads up.


I'm Stuck

Like Rand Paul, I'm stuck.

The video above is a clip from CNNs article on what Rand Paul is doing on college campuses as he prepares to run for the Presidency in 2016. The whole video and the attending article are worth watching and can be found here.

There are things I personally believe about many social issues. Meanwhile, I don't want government involved with them even if they enact laws or regulations that agree with my beliefs. For example, it's why I oppose the use of certain mind altering drugs while I also oppose the "War on Drugs." And I certainly don't want those things decided on the Federal level.

So is he (Rand Paul) trying it have it both ways? Maybe. Is it for political reasons? Maybe/probably.

Is it okay to work within the "realm of the possible" to get elected so you can move your ideas forward? Debatable for sure.

Can Paul support the election of politicians who are not totally in line with his "smaller government" ideology without abandoning his principles if he thinks it can help him build a coalition? That's always been a hard one for me because I have very little gray area (or gray matter, some might say) on some of these matters. But the answer for me is yes.

So I'm stuck. And Rand Paul is stuck. And maybe you are stuck too. But maybe we'll get used to it. After all, proponents of the freedom philosophy have been stuck with Obama since 2008. Not to mention Bush before him. Or any of the others during our time who presided over the steady erosion of our rights.

Maybe everyone on every side of every issue feels stuck. Fair enough for us. Fair enough for Rand Paul? From my perspective, yes.

You may feel differently. If so, feel free to leave a comment below. This is a blog after all.


What Government Employees Do

With a big hat tip to YAL (Young Americans for Liberty), I submit this meme for your viewing pleasure.


Make Up Your Own Mind About Ed Snowden

By Grant Davies

No matter what you thought before about Ed Snowden, I'm guessing you will think differently - or at least in a more informed way - about him if you watch this entire interview. 

You may or may not change your mind. But if you are like me, he will no longer be as much of a mystery as he was before. You will learn things you didn't know even if you have been paying close attention to issue. 

You may be surprised by Ed's opinions on the NSA and spying in general now that the people have the information he provided to news organisations. 

Ed Snowden's legacy may very well be more about how things have changed with new technologies and less about the NSA itself or it's activities. It may be more about examining our freedoms, our rights, and where the country (and the world) is headed than it is about a man who told people things he thought they had a right to know.

Beyond the inevitable sensationalism of the headlines that highlight his answer to the question about whether he is a traitor or a patriot there is real information here. It's about Ed Snowden, but it's beyond Ed Snowden. 

In my opinion, this is an important news story. Real news of lasting significance, for a change.

 Watch the entire video here
The picture is the the link.


Throwing Gas On the Burning Obamacare Barn

By Grant Davies

Originally, the "Tea Party" was an unorganized group of citizens who opposed govt bailouts. Essentially, they opposed taking money from poor and middle class people to give to failed, but wealthy, businessmen.

Somehow the media spun that threat to big govt into an organisation of radical racists. Lefties bought it. And establishment Republicans left them hanging out to dry to protect their power base in that moribund party.

So now we see the first attempts at bailing out the insurance companies in an attempt to prevent the inevitable rise in already skyrocketing insurance premiums. It's akin to throwing gas on your burning barn.

Here's an early story on this. Hard to say how much they got right or wrong at this stage.

The picture is a link to the article.


One Year Since Rand Paul Stood up For the Constitution

 Try to remember this in 2016.

The Federal Reserve - A Reverse Robin Hood

By Grant Davies

While some wring their hands over the "wealth gap" but cannot tell you why, others wonder just how so much money has flowed to the already wealthy, and why.

In recent years have most of them lately done it by providing goods and services that their fellow man desires? Or is there a giant wealth transference going on due to the Fed printing money like crazy?

I'm in the second group and of the second opinion. The left hates the "wealth gap" but loves Obamanomics. It's a pretty good example of cognitive dissonance IMO.

So while the left worries about "tax breaks for the rich" transferring wealth upward, the man behind the curtain has an entirely different plan that works much better.

The following article may contain some things I disagree with, but it's a good place to start if you want to look at all this government meddling from a different perspective than what you get from the usual talking heads.

Druckenmiller: Fed robbing poor to pay rich
Robert Frank | @robtfrank
Thursday, 19 Sep 2013 | 11:06 AM ET

"The Federal Reserve isn't just inflating markets but is shifting a massive amount of wealth from the middle class and poor to the rich, according to billionaire hedge fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller.

In an interview on "Squawk Box," the founder of Duquesne Capital said the Fed's policy of quantitative easing was inflating stocks and other assets held by wealthy investors like himself. But the price of making the rich richer will be paid by future generations.

"This is fantastic for every rich person," he said Thursday, a day after the Fed's stunning decision to delay tightening its monetary policy. "This is the biggest redistribution of wealth from the middle class and the poor to the rich ever."

Read the rest here.*

*We do not have permission to reprint the article in it's entirety but "fair use" allows us to use a lead in and a link. We apologize for asking you to leave this page to continue.


The Self Esteem Trophy

Image = Classicexhibits.com
Editors note:

Did you ever have an opinion that seemed to be way out of the mainstream among your peer group and think "I'm going to write about that one of these days" but never get around to it? If you write a blog you probably have. On the other hand, since 99% of you don't write blogs it's a stupid question.

I have scores of great ideas for blog posts that have never turned into a readable, coherent piece. Okay, that's probably true for most of the ones I did write.

In the case of the essay below I'm glad I never got around to it because our regular contributor Seth did such a bang up job on the topic that I think he deserves a trophy for writing it. Or maybe just for participating in this blog. Anyway, in a really bad sports metaphor, he hit a home run.- Grant Davies

The Great Participation Trophy Debate
by Seth

Those for participation trophies think it's good for self-esteem. Those against say it doesn’t prepare kids to deal with failure.

I have a third view to consider: We put too much emphasis on youth sports.

Why do we care so much about the life lessons of youth sports and not so much about life lessons learned from other childhood endeavors, like playing video games?

Has anyone ever argued that the high trial-and-error failure rate in video games hurts a child's self-esteem? No. Has anyone argued that winning or losing a video game helps kids deal with failure? No.

Yet, we all instinctively know a simple truth about video games: The more a kid plays them, the better he will get.

Play your kid in her favorite video game and she'll wipe the floor with you. That's because she has more trial-and-error experience at it than you.

That experience came with no pressure and no stakes. She didn't have coaches and parents calling out their every mistake from a sideline. If she lost a game, she just started over, tried a different approach and eventually learned what works.

Yet, we don't translate that instinct to youth sports. Parents and coaches hope for mastery, without recognizing how little time the child has had to master it, especially in unstructured, low pressure, low stakes ways.

Youth sports in the U.S. use to be viewed by parents more like video games are now. In some countries, they still are. Guys I play soccer with, who came to the U.S. from South America and Europe, tell me they spent a great deal of time playing soccer in their home countries and their parents nagged them to do something more productive, just like how U.S. parents nag their kids to put down the video games.

When I was a kid, the way we learned sports was different than today. It was a lot more like how kids these days learn to play video games -- lots of low pressure, low stakes play. Why? Because parents didn't care as much about sports then.

We had much more unstructured play where we played with family and friends. We played more often with older and younger kids, the older ones taught us the tricks of the trade, then we passed those on to younger kids.

We got creative and made up our own games and rules, a lot of times to help compensate for imbalances of playing with different ages and abilities.

The ratio of time spent in low pressure, low stakes unstructured play to the high pressure, organized play was much higher than today.

I played a lot of driveway basketball, mainly because I got bored watching I Love Lucy reruns. I won no basketball scholarships, nor was I scouted by the NBA and I'm usually the last picked at just about any pickup game.

But, if I went to a country where they don't grow up playing driveway basketball, the locals may be as amazed with my unconscious fade-away jumpers as I am with the soccer skills my friends from Europe and South America display.

Even when we played organized teams as kids, it wasn't a major event. Every parent didn't go to every game. Often, parents took turns carting the kids to the game. We often didn't have large crowds to witness our losses and we didn't get ear fulls on the ride home for the mistakes we made in the game. Nor do I remember getting snacks.

And, that was okay. Playing was more for us kids and less about pleasing parents and grandparents. They just wanted us to stay in school and out of trouble. We weren't worried about college scholarships, going pro or being sports prodigies.

I think that's the major thing that has changed. Now, sports is more about the parents. You know who I am talking about. Raise your hand if you or someone you know has mentioned to fellow adults that your kid plays a sport for a "competitive club".

If you have a strong stance on the participation trophy debate, it may be a sign that you care about youth sports more than is healthy. Think about why you care more about that than you do your child's video game or Lego building achievements.


A Saner Way to Collect Taxes

Tax day is always a good time to get everyone's attention momentarily so you can present ideas for a better way to collect taxes. For purposes of this post we won't be addressing what the legitimate use of those tax dollars should be.

 Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute has made several videos in the past to extol the virtues of eliminating our insanely complex and distortional tax code and replacing it with a sane alternative.

Whatever I could write about this subject would be just a tad less understandable and compelling than his presentation so I'll let him do the explaining. (Okay, it's more than a tad less, but I like to delude myself into thinking I have something to add.)

Dan's post today on his own blog, International Liberty, is well worth your time. It has a trillion great links to interesting stuff about how we are getting screwed. (A trillion? Why yes, I use govt. accounting methods.)       -- Grant Davies



Who Could be Pissed Off about a Little Vacation?

By Grant Davies

At the risk of pissing off everyone, and I mean everyone, I am posting this video for your perusal.

The people who pull the wagon will be pissed to see where the money that is being taken from them to help the needy is being spent.

The people in the wagon that's being pulled will be pissed that their little game is being exposed. The people who set this whole deal up and got elected because they had compassion for the less fortunate will be pissed that they have to make up some crazy story to justify the whole scandal.

The people who make a living by fomenting class warfare will be pissed that they will have to float the preposterous notion that since wealthy people take exotic vacations, those on welfare have a right to do the same because it's not fair if they can't.

And our research fellow, Carl Holzhauser, will be pissed if we don't give him the credit for finding this video so it can be posted here to piss off all of the readers. So, here's a hat tip and a 20% raise for Carl. Hard to say if he will be even more pissed when he realizes that the hat tip is worth more than the raise. But since he can take a vacation while still getting the same pay, he should be okay with it.


An Important Debate About Government Spending

The following debate covers all the angles on this important topic. It's only a few minutes long but it sure packs the valid points into that time.

Hat tip to Dan Mitchell at International Liberty


Global Warming, It's a Scary Subject

Editors note:
Regular readers of this blog know that when it comes to the  man made global warming theory, I'm skeptical. But that's just the science issue. They probably also know that I'm totally dismissive of the theory as a political issue. That's because I have never believed that the issue should have entered the political arena at all.

The name calling and rancor that has accompanied the political debate is totally inconsistent with what should occur in the scientific debate. In my opinion it's a question of science, not politics.

Like all scientific theories there is a proper method of discovery.  And it's no accident that it's called "The scientific method."  So in my mind, science is the pursuit of truth and politics is the pursuit of power.

I realize that people of good conscience and intelligence can differ in their opinions on this subject. In fact, I differ with some very close friends on this subject.

Regular readers also know that I'm a history aficionado as well, so the video presentation by John Coleman is right up my alley. The first part covers his take on the science, but whether you agree with his conclusions or not, I'm hopeful you will enjoy the second part where he covers the history of the whole issue and the people involved.

With that in mind, I submit the following article for your consideration. It was written by Jim Lakely of the Heartland Institute. It is republished here with their express permission.

Grant Davies

How the Global Warming Scare Began
  By JIM LAKELY               March 13, 2014                                                                                                                             
Jim Lakely is director of communications at The Heartland Institute
Heartland friend John Coleman is among the few prominent meteorologists who has not joined his colleagues in perpetuating the public panic over man-caused global warming. He’s brave, influential, and has the backing of his TV station in San Diego, KUSI, to produce videos such as the one at left titled “How the Global Warming Scare Began.”
Coleman is the founder of The Weather Channel, was the first weatherman on “Good Morning America,” and was named “Broadcast Meteorologist of the Year” by the American Meteorological Society. (NOTE: Coleman quit the AMS when, he says, it was clear “the politics had gotten in the way of the science.”)
In the video in the player below*, Coleman says something all global warming “skeptics” could agree upon: If the science actually backed up the notion that humans were endangering the earth’s climate, he’d be on the front lines to save the planet. “But it’s just not happening,” he said.
The little warming we have now is well within (and even below) natural variations over the centuries. But the fruitless “fight” against man-caused global warming is wasting enormous sums of money — seen in government outlays, and in the unduly rising energy bills of every American.
In his video, Coleman gives us many “Cold Hard Facts.” Here are some of them:
  • Arctic ice levels are well within the average measured by satellites since first recorded about 35 years ago.
  • Polar bear populations are up, not down.
  • The “global warming” superstorms the alarmists predicted have not materialized. No hurricanes hit the US in 2013. Superstorm Sandy was nothing compared to the Galveston Hurricane in 1900, before man supposedly had influence on the climate. Strong tornadoes have been diminishing, too.
  • We haven’t had a “killer heat wave” since the 1950s.
  • Al Gore got a “D” in the only science course he took at Harvard, taught by the godfather of climate alarmism, Roger Revelle … and the rest is history (including Revelle apologizing for his previous alarmism and Gore responding by calling him “senile.”)
There is so much more. The video in the player below* is the primer you must show your alarmist friends.
For more information on what’s really happening to the earth’s climate, visit The Heartland Institute’s archive of its eight international conferences on climate change — featuring more than 300 presentations by 187 scientists, economists, and policy experts (including Coleman).
For the very latest observable climate science, as opposed to political climate science, visit the Climate Change Reconsidered site. Stay tuned to that site, and The Heartland Institute, for news about yet another report from the Nongovernmental Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) that will be released later this month.

* Edited for placement on this site.


The Men Behind the Curtain

By Grant Davies

Matt Drudge must have thought it was important to highlight the "filibuster without a bill" (as the LA Times reporter Lalita Clozel dubbed it) on his mega influential website this morning. Otherwise he wouldn't have made it the main headline. "Dems Declare War on the Weather" was his headline.

It's hard to tell why he thought the dog and pony show was newsworthy but one might speculate that he sought to show how crazy the Dems are on the whole "global warming/man made climate change" charade. Or maybe it was just a slow news day.

But I look at it a tad differently than most. I see it as just another diversionary tactic in the Dems war to keep the Obamacare debacle off the front pages. These senators couldn't possibly care less about the climate. Except the political climate, that is.

It's hard to count the number of scandals being ignored by the mainstream media nowadays. The IRS political targeting scandal comes to mind as does the NSA spying scandal and the Detroit bankruptcy. So it's not surprising that Dems want to change the subject to the weather or the minimum wage or anything else they can conjure up.

While Harry Reid and his little band of imbeciles are behind the Wizard of Oz's curtain furiously manipulating the "dimwit knobs", I'll volunteer to play the role of Toto and try to pull back the curtain so we can direct the attention back to the stuff they want us to forget.

The Obamacare health insurance takeover train wreck, the looming debt crisis, the erosion of the currency, and the continued assault on the Constitution are the topics that are most important.

Even Dorothy figured it out eventually. I'm not at all certain that the American people will though, but hope springs eternal.


An Unproductive Discussion

Editors note:
The following post is by Seth, a contributor to this blog, who is gracious enough to allow his fine work to be shared with (and hopefully by) our readers. I suggest you visit his blog, Our Dinner Table, often if you want thoughtful, shortish commentary about a variety of freedom related issues.

Seth's idea is that "All great change in America begins at the dinner table.  So, tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins. And children, if your parents haven’t been teaching you what it means to be an American, let ‘em know and nail ‘em on it. That would be a very American thing to do."

At Whatwethinkandwhy we have made it clear that this blog is an admirer of Dr. Rand Paul, Senator from Kentucky. We also admire Seth's refreshingly thoughtful and substantive blog. In the following post we get a little of both.

By Seth

I saw this video of David Letterman’s interview of Rand Paul from 2011 posted on Carpe Diem:

I suggest skipping past Paul’s corny attempts at humor near the beginning and watch the last five to six minutes of the discussion. It’s a great example of how someone’s ignorance, Letterman’s in this case, can be mistaken for legitimate arguments by stating platitudes and refusing to accept facts.

In one example, Letterman characterizes Republicans as the party that just wants to give tax breaks to the rich and big business.

Paul points out that there’s the idea that the rich don’t pay their fair share isn’t accurate. They, in fact, pay most of the taxes. He says the top 1% income earners pay a third of income taxes collected and the top 50% pay 96%. Letterman gets some claps for replying:

…I think there’s something wrong with those numbers. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I’m pretty sure there’s something wrong with them…

I’ll give Letterman credit. After the applause, he then says:

Thank you, you’re applauding my stupidity, God bless you.

I’d like to know if Letterman followed up to learn more about these facts to see if he could build a more valid counterpoint than “I’m pretty sure there’s something wrong.” If he did, what did he find? Did it change his mind?

What do you do when you encounter facts that go against what you previously believed? I don’t know about you, but I find that intriguing and I usually dig in deeper.

Earlier in the conversation (4 minute mark), Letterman demonstrates his ignorance by confusing the national deficit with the debt.  ”The American debt is what, $3 trillion?”

Paul explains that the deficit is running about $2 trillion each year, but total debt has accumulated up to $14 trillion.

Letterman blows by this fact. He just learned that something he thought was $3 is nearly 5 times as big and he has no reaction. A reasonable person should respond, “Holy cow! $14 trillion? How did that happen? I had no idea that it was that much. What was I thinking?”

I will give Letterman some credit here. He asks how continuing to borrow will affect him. Paul tries to explain, but I don’t think it made much sense to Letterman.

I would have said the Soviet Union, Greece, Cyprus and Detroit are good examples of what can happen. It’s tough to tell how far down the road that is, but that’s the direction borrowing leads.


If Abbott and Costello Were Economists

By Grant Davies

Today I received a forwarded email from one of our crack staff who keeps an eye out for stuff on the internet that can be used to educate and amuse our readers. I think this one may have been going around for a while but I have never seen it before.

And since I am interested in economics, and even more interested in laughing, I thought this would be a good post to start 2014 off with.

So who's on first? Why, Bud and Lou of course!

COSTELLO: I want to talk about the unemployment rate in America.

ABBOTT: Good subject ... terrible times. It's 7.8%.

COSTELLO: That many people are out of work?

ABBOTT: No, that's 14.7%.

COSTELLO: You just said 7.8%.

ABBOTT: 7.8% Unemployed.

COSTELLO: Right 7.8% out of work.

ABBOTT: No, that's 14.7%.

COSTELLO: Wait a minute. Is it 7.8% or 14.7%?

ABBOTT: 7.8% are unemployed. 14.7% are out of work.

COSTELLO: If you are out of work you are unemployed.

ABBOTT: No, Congress said you cannot count the "Out of Work" as the unemployed. You have to look for work to be unemployed.

COSTELLO: But THEY are out of work!

ABBOTT: No, you miss his point.

COSTELLO: What point?

ABBOTT: Someone who doesn't look for work can't be counted with those who look for work. It wouldn't be fair.

COSTELLO: To whom?

ABBOTT: The unemployed.

COSTELLO: But all of them are out of work.

ABBOTT: No, the unemployed are actively looking for work. Those who are out of work gave up looking and if you give up, you are no longer in the ranks of the unemployed.

COSTELLO: So if you're off the unemployment roles that would count as less unemployment?

ABBOTT: Unemployment would go down. Absolutely!

COSTELLO: The unemployment just goes down because you don't look for work?

ABBOTT: Absolutely it goes down. That's how they get it to 7.8%. Otherwise it would be 14.7%. Our government does not want you to read about 14.7% unemployment.

COSTELLO: That would be tough on those running for reelection.

ABBOTT: Absolutely.

COSTELLO: Wait, I got a question for you. That means there are two ways to bring down the unemployment number?

ABBOTT: Two ways is correct.

COSTELLO: Unemployment can go down if someone gets a job?

ABBOTT: Correct.

COSTELLO: And unemployment can also go down if you stop looking for a job?

ABBOTT: Bingo.

COSTELLO: So there are two ways to bring unemployment down, and the easier of the two is to have people stop looking for work.

ABBOTT: Now you're thinking like an Economist.

COSTELLO: I don't even know what the hell I just said!

ABBOTT: Now you're thinking like Congress.

Hat Tip To Staff Researcher Jerry Vandenberg for finding this gem.