#NeverTrump & Austin Petersen

May 8, 2016

I recently had a friend, a conservative I greatly respect, sincerely ask that I reconsider my #NeverTrump position. He explained that due to the President’s role in nominating Supreme Court Justices, I need to realize that while ideals are good, sometimes “live gets in the way” and that as one of those times, I needed to “take one for the team in order to win”. Below is my response followed by a video explaining my take on the current state of conservatism, the Republican Party, and why I’m supporting Austin Petersen for President.

I know you are coming from a place of sincerity. I could not agree more that this election is much more important than who is in the White House for the next four years. Indeed, it is because of my long-term outlook and concern for the Constitution and the God-endowed liberties it protects that I am so strongly opposed to Trump and what supporting him says about the GOP and its conservative base.

Think. Is Trump principled? Is he a man of character? Can you point to one thing he has done in his life, beyond offering up cheap rhetoric in the past couple years, that convinces you that he holds an ounce of commitment to the Constitution or its principles? I’ve looked….and I cannot. He is not a good man. His rise to political popularity has been characterized by capitalizing upon the worst of people. Their anger. Their fear. Their ignorance.

I do not believe that Trump offers any more security in regards to nominations of Supreme Court Justices than Hillary Clinton does. What I do believe is that if conservatives “take one for the team” as you suggest and help Trump become the leader and the face of the Republican party, it represents the death of any surviving remnant of conservatism it has left. I believe, as President Lincoln did, that the Constitution “must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties”. At this time, I feel my refusal to support Trump and to support a third-party candidate is the best way to do preserve conservatism and the Constitution it exists to protect. If conservatism suffers a blow at the hand of others, I will serve my days seeking to rebuild it the best way I know how. I ask that you at earnestly and sincerely seek to understand my rationale.

 


California: Upside-down & Backwards (Water Edition)

April 9, 2015

California: Upside-down & BackwardsSo a few days ago I was eating at a Chipotle in Lubbock, TX when I overheard three Texas Tech students discussing water management and the California drought. Of course I couldn’t miss this opportunity to educate others, especially Texans, of the awful condition of the Golden State. I ended the discussion with a warning to watch and learn from California’s mistakes to ensure Texas remains great and free.

But what are California’s mistakes? Due to time constraints we’ll narrow the long list to just water-related issues. With the looming threat of steep fines for taking a shower that the government deems too long, California’s drought is an opportunity for Californians, as well as the rest of the country, to step back and review some of the contributing factors to this dire predicament.

California has failed to make significant improvements to its water infrastructure since the early 1970’s. You see, new canals and desalination plants cost money, and in a state that spends $25 Billion each year on illegal immigrants there’s not much left for lessor priorities like water. So while many are demonizing the agricultural industry or green-lawn’ed residents, I feel the blame for the embarrassing financial mismanagement of the state lies squarely with the voters at large. CA_high_speed_railNo better example exists than California’s voter-approved high-speed rail project. Forbes contributor Thomas Del Beccaro recently offered humorous commentary on “The Great California Train Shortage”. ucla-water-main-break-flooding-01The 20 million gallons of water lost in a main break near UCLA last summer demonstrates that cash-strapped-induced neglect of water infrastructure extends to cities and municipalities. In a state that has seen a dozen droughts since 1850 yet prides itself in its wine, cheese, oranges, etc, etc…voters who pass high-speed rail and elect sanctuary politicians like Gov. Jerry Brown and a long list of state democrats are at the root of the problem.

Making things worse are environmentalists and judges putting the Delta Smelt, an endangered 3-inch fish, over the human demand for fresh water. Hundreds of billions of gallons of fresh water is forced to drain into the ocean instead of being diverted for human use. While we know the disregard smelly hippies have for showers, maybe the remaining Californians will re-evaluate the sacrifices environmentalists have made to protect the Delta Smelt.

But while better infrastructure and wiser priorities would certainly help alleviate the suffering from drought, the underlying fact exists that fresh water is currently a limited resource and there are no guarantees that drought may force tough decisions to be made as to the use of water. The question is if allowing a centralized government to pick winners and losers and dictate the allocation of such a critical resource is the only, or best, solution. Writer and economist Robert P. Murphy suggests a crazy alternative:

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a social system that allowed humans to decide in a decentralized manner how much of a resource they wanted to use? But wait, because of the scarcity, there would need to be some type of information feedback mechanism, so that people only used the resource when it was really important to them, and they economized more stringently during a time of reduced availability. Furthermore, we couldn’t just survey people, because then they might lie. If only there were a way for them to signify their desire to consume more of the resource, that would force them to be honest about it and would help foster social cooperation.

Of course he’s referring to a free-market economy in which supply and demand drive price instead of government fiat. Scarcity and sustained demand mixed with competition creates an environment that encourages innovation. While Californians may be unable to exercise control over the weather and the scarce nature of water, if they so choose, they can certainly realign their priorities and seek free-market solutions to greatly alleviate the pain.


Why Gun Control Advocates Hate Facts

February 7, 2013

As expected, during his State of the Union address, President Obama made an emotional case for stricter gun control measures. To those who have actually researched the issue, it was no surprise that Obama left out any statistics pertaining to the effectiveness of gun control. However, what was surprising was that in his emotional appeal for gun control Obama referenced the murder of Hadiya Pendleton in Chicago, where gun control is the strictest in the nation while at the same time gun violence is also the highest in the nation. It is apparent that statistics are stacked against gun control when even the emotional arguments made in favor of it point to damning statistics.

In 2012, with over 500 murders, Chicago was the murder capital of the nation. Pendleton’s murder being the 44th in Chicago this year, Chicago is on pace to surpass last year’s staggering murder rate. Illinois is the only state that does not allow concealed carry in some form. For 28 years handguns were banned in the city until the Supreme Court ruled the ban unconstitutional in 2010. In spite of the handgun ban being in place for 23 years, in 2005, 96% of the firearm murder victims in Chicago were killed with handguns.  Chicago murders committed with handguns averaged about 40% higher than it was before the ban took effect. “Assault” (definition pending) weapons and “high-capacity” (aka standard capacity) magazines are currently banned in Chicago. In order to obtain a Chicago Firearm Permit, which costs $100 and must be renewed every three years, a law-abiding citizen must complete a training course that includes at least four hours of classroom training and one hour of range time. The cost for these courses typically range from $100 to $150. Applicants must also pass two separate background checks.  Gun owners must also file a registration report every year. With such strict gun control yet high gun violence, one would think Obama and other gun control advocates would avoid any reference to Chicago at all costs. In contrast with Chicago, in spite of similar socioeconomic factors, being a major center for illegal activities such as the drug trade and human trafficking, and much more lax gun control, Houston’s murder rate is 29% less than Chicago’s.

As Senator Feinstein introduced the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013, one would think you wouldn’t be able to get gun control advocates to shut up about the success of the 1994 10-year federal ban on “assault” weapons. However discussing the previous ban (which included a “high capacity” magazine ban) is largely avoided because it was a failure. Even the very Koper / University of Pennsylvania study Feinstein likes to say proves the ban’s success actually said, “we cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence. And, indeed, there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence”. John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime, provided an even more thorough analysis of the assault weapons ban by looking at rape, robbery, and aggravated assaults statistics on top of gun murder rates. Unlike the Koper study, Lott’s research accounted for state Assault Weapon Bans and 12 other different types of gun control laws. Lott’s research concluded these bans had no impact on violent crime rates. Despite gun control advocate Sarah Brady’s warning that “our streets are going to be filled with AK-47s and Uzis” if the ban wasn’t extended, according to FBI statistics, since the sunset of the assault weapons ban, both the national violent crime rate (-16%) and murder rate (-14%) has dropped.

There is widespread agreement with the reason the National Research Council provided as to why assault weapons bans are not effective, which is “the relative rarity with which the banned guns [are] used in crime”. Only 2.6% of all murders are done with rifles. Even if you only care about those murdered in mass shootings because the fear factor is milked by media and anti-gun liberals, of 62 mass murders wherein 5 or more people were either shot or killed since the early 80’s the majority involved handguns & shotguns. 14% were with with other semi-automatic rifles.

A more telling statistic is that of those 62 mass murders, 42 of the shooters had a mental illness or history of mental illness. The most consistent statistic is that “with just one single exception…every public shooting since at least 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns.” A telling example is the mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado that left 12 dead and 58 wounded. The movie theater chosen by the killer, Cinemark Century 16,  was neither the closest to his apartment nor the one with the largest audience. Of the 7 movie theaters showing “The Dark Knight Rises” on July 20th within 20 minutes of the killer’s apartment, Cinemark Century 16 was the only one where guns were banned.

Statistics from  D.C. (vs. Utah), Russia and Holland (vs. Norway), Mexico, Brazil provide evidence that more strict gun control laws don’t work. In the video below, Lee Doren does a great job of exposing the mistakes and manipulations of statistics in an effort to promote stricter gun control.

If the above statistics didn’t provide a big enough challenge for gun control advocates, Obama’s own experts in the Justice Department’s research and evaluation agency, the National Institute for Justice, said in a memo that a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines “is unlikely to have an impact on gun violence” but that it could be effective if coupled with mandatory buyback programs with no exceptions. But of course Obama has promised not to take away existing (currently legal) guns and gun control advocates have strained to depict such concerns of legal gun owners as paranoid, despite the fact that it has happened previously and New York and Missouri politicians have recently shown support for legislation that would confiscate previously legal “assault” weapons.

So if you actually take the time to do research and look at statistics, the real problem is gun-free zones and mental health, not the 2nd amendment.


Our Foolish Founders: The 2nd Amendment

December 16, 2012

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Whether it’s in Aurora, Kansas City, or Newtown, liberals seem anxious to jump at every shooting tragedy as an opportunity to call for stricter guns law. To a liberal, there’s no time to be wasted for mourning or investigations when there is a political agenda to be pushed. The ultimate source of contention and the greatest obstacle standing in the way of these anti-gun liberals is the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution.

We hear liberals like Bob Costas rant about the evils of hand-guns as they assign them the primary blame for murders as one might blame matches for arson or forks for obesity. However instead of focusing on the many holes in liberal logic, I would like to focus on how I interpret the anti-gun arguments.The 2nd Amendment of the Constitution states that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. So when liberals talk about the need to make it more difficult or or altogether impossible to legally own guns, or certain kinds of guns, this is what I hear:

Right to bear arms? Uninfringed? Stupid founders. They obviously thought weapons would never innovate beyond flintlock pistol & musket. Those silly founders carelessly included the 2nd amendment in the Bill of Rights without considering the risks of allowing citizens to be armed. Probably because people weren’t really violent back then. Those dumb founders didn’t realize how must respect psycho murderers & tyrants have for the rule of law, and thus would never skirt a law that says ‘This gun is not allowed’ or ‘Don’t bring you gun in here’. Good thing us liberals are so much smarter & can right the wrongs of our founders & the 2nd Amendment.

What changed since the founders adopted the Bill of Rights? Did they not have mentally unstable people back then? Was there no violence, or murderers? Or is it just that in the modern day, there is no longer a threat of tyrants taking advantage of an un-armed people? That apparently while the common man has lost the privilege & responsibility to be armed, world leaders have become so enlightened & civilized they would never exercise force & oppress a free people?

When a liberal talks about guns you will likely hear them say that the only purpose of guns is to kill. They speak as if they have no concept of righteous defense. That there is never a justified reason to kill. I wonder why they think police officers, who are there to “serve & protect”, carry weapons. Who convinced them that the common citizen must outsource their personal defense & completely trust the government instead of also being able to defend ourselves? Certainly not our founders. There are plenty of examples in history of tyrants turning on & using force against their own citizens, even very recently in the middle east. On top of citizens protecting themselves from other citizens, to lull ourselves into believing that our own government would never turn against it’s own citizens is a grave error. Our founders certainly believed it was possible.

ImageTo put ultimate trust in government to protect it’s citizens and for them to yield up their right to defend themselves defies the wisdom of history, which our founding fathers were all too aware of when they included the 2nd amendment. While the founders allowed the constitution to be adapted and interpreted, the Bill of Rights represents the core of what it means to have freedom & liberty. I can only imagine the disappointment & righteous anger our founders have toward anyone, foreign or domestic, that would try to diminish or interpret those God-given rights out of existence.

I leave you now with a couple humorous yet wise videos by some of my favorite common-sense intellectuals:


The History of U.S. Federal Taxation

September 29, 2012

While many modern liberals, such as Obama, express open disdain for the Constitution and the “negative liberties” contained therein, every so often you will me one that actually attempts to use the Constitution to justify today’s ever-expanding federal government and an equally increasingly progressive income tax to attempt, in vain, to fund it. Its apparent to me that a history lesson is order.

A federal income tax was originally not part of the Constitution. Article 1, section 2, clause 3 of the Constitution allowed only for “direct” taxation that would then be re-distributed to the states based on population. Attempts to  It is important to remember that at the time of it’s signing, this new constitution that allowed a federal government with a limited role and limited taxation was a response to a failed attempt, the Articles of Federation, that illustrated our founders’ hesitation and fear of a large federal government. An attempt for a federal income tax that wasn’t apportioned to the states was ruled unconstitutional in 1895 and a non-apportioned federal income tax did not become a part of the Constitution until the 16th amendment was ratified in 1913.

Our founding fathers viewed private property rights as an integral part of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and thus knew that due to its coercive nature, taxation is a special exception to the right to private property and therefore its utilization should be limited to assist in the most legitimate roles of the federal government. States were given more freedom in terms of taxation because our founders knew that there is typically a higher degree of accountability within local government. And since citizens have the ability to move freely, when citizens of…oh, I don’t know…lets just say California…feel their private property rights are being unjustly oppressed that can move to…oh, I don’t know…Texas.

Liberals either don’t understand the Constitution and our founders’ efforts to limit federal government or they openly disdain the Constitution and therefore hope to change it.


I’m not as good as you.

February 28, 2009

Say it with me, “I am not as good as you”. With the right understanding, internalizing this idea is not only therapeutic, but it’s promotion may just save our nation from the path we are currently on of destroying the principles of ambition and success to arrive at the lowest common denominator. Allow me to explain.

To start, I wish to point out that I could have just as easily started with “You’re not as good as me”. However, since it seems to be human nature to accept and even relish in ones own strengths and abilities, it is the envy and insecurity of the lack of ability, or inferiority, in comparison with another that provides the foundation and drive from which this damning movement stems.

Today I finished reading C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters”. In it (specifically “Screwtape Proposes a Toast”) Screwtape, a leading demon in hell mentions that while democracy correctly refers to the political ideal that men should be equally treated, Satan and his demons seek to use envy and an insecurity of inferiority to transition it into a factual belief that all men are equal, thus manipulating the meaning of “democracy”.

As written by Lewis, Screwtape states:

The claim to equality, outside the strictly political field, is made only by those who feel themselves to be in some way inferior. What it expresses is precisely the itching, smarting, writhing awareness of an inferiority which the patient refuses to accept.

And therefore resents. Yes, and therefore resent every kind of superiority in others; denigrates it; wishes its annihilation. Presently he suspects every mere difference of being a claim to superiority.

Screwtape then points out that with such a mindset, those who might otherwise achieve success or excellence can be shamed and discouraged to do so:

Under the same influence, those who come, or could come, nearer to a full humanity, actually draw back from it for fear of being undemocratic.

Screwtape then illustrates how this ideal plays out in the classroom:

The basic principle of the new education is to be that dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be ‘undemocratic’.

All incentives to learn and all penalties for not learning will vanish. The few who might want to learn will be prevented; who are they to overtop their fellows? And anyway the teachers – or should I say nurses? – will be far too busy reassuring the dunces and patting them on the back to waste any time on real teaching.

Finally Screwtape summarizes the end result of this false manipulation of “democracy”:

For ‘democracy’ or the ‘democratic spirit’ (diabolical sense) leads to a nation without great men, a nation mainly of subliterates, morally flaccid from lack of discipline in youth, full of the cocksureness which flattery breeds on ignorance, and soft from lifelong pampering.

Before I’m demonized by politically correct liberals, I wish to declare my belief that God loves all His children equally and wishes them all happiness. This, however, does not mean we must ignore the obvious truth that some are more talented or gifted, in some (or many) ways, than others. The bible (1 cor 12: 14-25) teaches the principle that while our differences will lead us to play different roles with relative differences in apparent honor or nobility, we can each be secure and find success and significance in the role we play. In other words, while the waterboy may not have the skill or enjoy the fame of the quarterback, he can still be a successful waterboy, happy in the significance of his role in the team.
(My Mormon friends and others may also benefit by studying Abr. 3: 17-19)

Recently and currently, liberals have undertaken a campaign to flatter the lazy or those who otherwise seek the shelter of reparations of victimization to believe that those who have achieved success or excellence must be burdened and stripped of the fruits of their accomplishments until everyone else can feel equal and believe “I’m as good as you”. For those who might not realize it, I’m referring to all you “tax the rich, spread the wealth, Sí se puede, Obama is the Messiah” people. In word and principle, the promotion of liberal ideals kills initiative and makes success and excellence shameful and burdensome as a sacrifice to protect the sensitivities of those insecure of the role they play in society.

As stated in “An Inconvenient Book” by Glenn Beck, emphasis is falsely applied to the Declaration of Independence. Instead of reading “all men are created EQUAL”, we should read, “all men are CREATED equal”. For as Beck states, “Every man is created equal. It’s what you do with it from there that makes the difference…we control our own destiny.


Blogging & Empathetic Listening

December 1, 2008

I recently finished reading Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I thoroughly enjoyed this book as it focused on recognizing and living in accordance to the “basic principles of effective living”. I agree with Covey when he states that “people can only experience true success and enduring happiness as they learn and integrate these principles into their basic character.”

As I read, I was able to learn a lot about myself, including weaknesses I’d like to work on. I learned that I am very “left-brained” and tend to focus on logic, reason, facts, and my analysis of those facts, and that I need to work on practicing empathy and seeking to understand the differing paradigms through which others experience and view the world, and to appreciate those differences and utilize them to expand my own understanding and paradigm.

I feel these weaknesses have been particularly highlighted and magnified through blogging, which in hindsight is somewhat embarrassing. I recognize that often my response to comments have been defensive and even combative at times. What readers of my blog don’t know is that in the process of moderating comments, I have received multiple hateful and offensive comments from faceless (anonymous) individuals who choose to make personal attacks instead of addressing points and issues. While I recognize that such behavior can be expected by publicizing my bold and opinionated personality, and feel that I have relatively tough skin, I feel that I have allowed those attacks to negatively affect my attitude and response. I do not share this to justify my weaknesses by any means, but rather wish to provide additional understanding and insight that I hope will help make forgiveness easier for those who I may have offended.

Below are some of Covey’s comments on “empathetic listening” and seeking first to understand, then to be understood, that I found particularly insightful and helpful:

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak.”

“That’s the case with so many of us. We’re filled with our own rightness, our own autobiography. We want to be understood. Our conversations become collective monologues, and we never really understand what’s going on inside another human being.”

“The essence of empathetic listening is not that you agree with someone; it’s that you fully, deeply, understand that person, emotionally as well as intellectually.”

“When you listen with empathy to another person, you give that person psychological air. And after that vital need is met, you can then focus on influencing or problem solving.”