Recent Posts From Tom Knighton
Probably the one thing that defines Americans as a culture may well be our fascination with automobiles. We didn’t invent them, yet we have been absorbed by the need to own them for the last century. We may not have invented them, but we damn sure invented a way to put one in every garage in the nation. In Europe, they don’t seem to feel the same way…at least the European Union doesn’t.
From The Telegraph:
The European Commission on Monday unveiled a “single European transport area” aimed at enforcing “a profound shift in transport patterns for passengers” by 2050.
The plan also envisages an end to cheap holiday flights from Britain to southern Europe with a target that over 50 per cent of all journeys above 186 miles should be by rail.
Top of the EU’s list to cut climate change emissions is a target of “zero” for the number of petrol and diesel-driven cars and lorries in the EU’s future cities.
Siim Kallas, the EU transport commission, insisted that Brussels directives and new taxation of fuel would be used to force people out of their cars and onto “alternative” means of transport.
“That means no more conventionally fuelled cars in our city centres,” he said. “Action will follow, legislation, real action to change behaviour.”
This fight is bound to be ugly based on further quotes from the piece.
There are two things that will invariably get leftist bloggers and pundits a-talking, and that’s talking about getting rid of the Department of Education and getting rid of the Department of Energy. This is guaranteed to meet resistance from the left and even many on the right. The thing is, as radical as these ideas sound, it’s not nearly as radical as it seems.
First, keep in mind that neither agency has been particularly successful in its stated original goals. The Department of Energy hasn’t helped the nation end its dependency on foreign oil. The Department of Education hasn’t seemed to do a thing to help educate our children. Both are failures.
When something doesn’t work, it’s usually a clue that we need to get rid of it. Everything from toasters to cabinet level organizations, it’s clear that we need to take a step back and realize that neither of these operations are really doing the job. Unfortunately, this is government. Instead of getting rid of something, many argue that what it needs is more funding. It’s been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. In government, this is called “rational”. And people wonder where our problems actually lie?
This isn’t to say that education isn’t important, nor is it to say that dependence on foreign oil is a good thing. What it means is that what we’ve been doing has been a colossal waste of time.
However, anyone advocating ending these departments is labeled a kook by the left. The evidence? They want to end these departments. That’s all they need. In all fairness though, many on the right accept this logic as well, but it doesn’t make it right.
In his speech yesterday, President Obama made the case that intervention in Libya was necessary as a humanitarian effort. The idea is appealing to many who have wanted the United States to intervene in various nation’s troubles for similar reasons. However, Obama’s argument could lead us down a very dangerous path that we are unprepared to deal with.
There are a pile of dictators at work in this world. Dictators have this annoying habit of violating human rights. However, despite fighting two wars and a “kinetic military action”, there are other places that have humanitarian mission in the waiting. Despite our budget crisis, this argument could well lead us down a path to fighting a dozen wars or more.
A similar rationale was given prior to invading Iraq, and my argument then was that if we are going to fight every dictator in the world, so be it, but do we really have it in us?
The truth is that we, as a nation, need to honestly decide if we want intervention or not. If we are going to do this, then it will entail a mobilization effort that will make World War II’s look like an aluminum can drive. We will essentially become a nation who’s industrial might will be geared towards only one thing: killing people who live in other countries. Go us.
However, the truth is that President Obama is making a case that will only be used in specific instances. It’ll be used to justify intervention in Libya, but not in Iran or Syria? It’ll be used to justify this war, but not that one? It’s a logical inconsistency that’s hardly unusual in American politics, and that’s probably a good thing.
After all, intervening in every “kinetic military action” isn’t exactly the way I expect a Nobel Peace Prize winner to act.
Two years into the presidency of Barack Obama, I still hear the old “racist” label as a knee jerk reaction to any opposition to the President’s proposals, efforts, or agenda. Let’s be honest folks, it’s time to put that crap away. All it’s doing is making it impossible to have an adult conversation about issues because one side keeps putting its fingers in its ears and screams “lalalalalalala” at every possible moment.
Is there racism? Yes. Are there some who oppose President Obama purely on his race? Most likely. But that’s not the majority of people. President Obama’s approval ratings, according to Gallup, was only at 46%. That’s it. Remember that Obama won with almost 53% of the popular vote. Translation? Some people who did support the President no longer find his policies so palatable.
Unfortunately, there are some out there that seem to act like this really means that an additional 7% of the American public spontaneously became racist or something, when that’s not at all what happened. Truth be told, they’re actually hurting future black candidates when they accuse opponents of racism.
No one likes being called a racist, except for some racists. People will go out of their way to avoid it many times. For some, that will including even anaction that’s somewhat racist: not voting for a black candidate because he’s a black candidate.
The reason this may happen is pretty simple. People like being free to criticize the government, and by extension they want to criticize the people we elect to run the government. It’s just how things are. However, with this trotting out calls of “racism” every time there’s opposition to one of the President’s plans, some are just going to decide to not vote for the black candidate next time.
Matt Yglesias posted this yesterday in reference to a clip from the new Atlas Shrugged film, due out April 15. The clip involves a union official telling Dagny Taggart that he wouldn’t allow her to run that train. If you’ve read the book, you know that Taggart doesn’t really respond well to people telling her what she can and cannot do. The clip has been made private on YouTube, but Yglesias posted the following:
Why does the sexy capitalist want to build a socialistic train? If only Ayn Rand had listened to George Will.
The post Yglesias links to is one where Will blasts high speed rail as a socialist enterprise. However, it’s still a big fat FAIL for Yglesias. You see, the “sexy capitalist” paid for the railroad out of her own money. No socialism at all. Taggart, in fact, has to battle all manner of government intervention just to get the line built. There was no government funding, no grants or subsidies. The truth was that she built that line in spite of the government, not because of it.
Honestly Matt, I expect better from you. Maybe you should have read the Wikipedia entry for the book before making your pathetic attempt at pointing out irony or hypocrisy or whatever you were trying to point out. The fact of the matter, other than trains themselves, the fictional John Galt line and high speed rail have nothing in common.
Please try again.
MSNBC.com had a report yesterday about Carole Smith, a woman who worked for TSA as a screener. She scored very well on every metric they used to measure such things in the airport she was assigned to. She had a few minor infractions, nothing much, but her potential career with the agency went south after a co-worker accused her of casting spells and hexes on her. You see, Smith is a practitioner of Wicca. In short, she’s a real life witch.
From the MSNBC.com report:
Here’s a situation for all you aspiring managers: If you were the boss at a U.S. government agency and one of your employees complained that she was afraid of a co-worker’s religious practices, what would you do?
Would it change your decision if the religion were Wicca, and the employee feared her co-worker because she thought she might cast a spell on her?
Here’s how the Transportation Security Administration handled it:
It fired the witch.
Each person’s story is unique, but what happened to Carole A. Smith gives us a glimpse of the work life of the 400,000-plus Wiccans in the United States. And it sheds light on work life at the TSA, where the 40,000-plus public employees who keep bad people and bad things off of airplanes have started voting this month on whether to join a union.
At New York’s Albany International Airport on March 12, 2009, transportation security officer Smith was called into the office of the No. 2 TSA boss there, the assistant federal safety director for law enforcement.
It isn’t a nations laws that keep it from anarchy, but the ability to enforce those laws. Words on a piece of paper mean nothing without some mechanism to make people adhere to them. It is a tricky thing to enforce laws without crossing the line into the realm of the tyrant. It’s tricky, but most manage to do it every day. However, every so often, someone can cross that line and not even realize it.
The Liberty Papers’ Stephen Littau has a post about false confessions:
A skilled interrogator knows all sorts of ways to persuade individuals guilty of committing a crime to confess. The problem is, the same interrogator’s methods can often persuade individuals who are innocent to confess as well.
But why would an innocent person confess to crimes as serious as rape and murder, you ask? This is some of what The Innocence Project has learned:
In about 25% of DNA exoneration cases, innocent defendants made incriminating statements, delivered outright confessions or pled guilty.
These cases show that confessions are not always prompted by internal knowledge or actual guilt, but are sometimes motivated by external influences.
Why do innocent people confess?
A variety of factors can contribute to a false confession during a police interrogation. Many cases have included a combination of several of these causes. They include:
•ignorance of the law
•fear of violence
•the actual infliction of harm
•the threat of a harsh sentence
•Misunderstanding the situation
In London, there’s been protesting against government cuts. Money is tight, and the government seeks to restore a little fiscal sanity. Not much, this is England after all, but some. The people, on the other hand, are bound and determined to get what they think they deserve. This, more than anything else, is why it’s imperative to stop the fiscal insanity early.
Once an entitlement or program starts, people become attached to it quickly. Nothing stirs the blood in politics more than the idea of a favorite program being cut, despite the necessity of it. As more and more spending programs get trotted out, more and more money is needed to pay for it. That means you need to actually get more money from folks, and when tough times like a down economy hits, it becomes even more important that you reign in the spending.
However, since you spend like crazy during the good times, people have gotten used to it. They want their programs to stay, and they’re not going to just quietly let you take it away from them. After all, they’re entitled to it!
Spending needs to be cut, and there will clearly be people who aren’t happy with it. The cuts need to be drastic and nothing should be sacred and off the table. However, that should be followed up in better times with more fiscal sanity. Just because we might be in a boom time in the future doesn’t mean we should go back to spending like a drunken sailor on a three day pass. Instead, we should hold onto any extra revenue as a cushion for further lean times. This will help prevent need to take on more and more debt.
Of course, those people protesting usually don’t care about that. So long as they get theirs.
After Bill Maher used a sexist comment to refer to Sarah Palin, the right started hopping around demanding to know where the feminist movement was on this issue. As the Daily Caller reports, NOW finally said shame on Bill Maher, but also shame on the conservatives:
“Listen, supposedly progressive men (ok, and women, too): Cut the crap! Stop degrading women with whom you disagree and/or don’t like by using female body terms or other gender-associated slurs,” Lisa Bennett, NOW communications director wrote on NOW’s “Say it Sister” blog.
In addition to chastising men (and women) like Maher who use their position as progressives as a shield against charges of sexism, NOW made it clear that their denouncement of Maher’s sexist remark toward Palin is in no way an endorsement of her or conservative policies.
“You’re trying to take up our time getting us to defend your friend Sarah Palin. If you keep us busy defending her, we have less time to defend women’s bodies from the onslaught of reproductive rights attacks and other threats to our freedom, safety, livelihood, etc,” wrote Bennett. “Sorry, but we can’t defend Palin or even Hillary Clinton from every sexist insult hurled at them in the media. That task would be impossible, and it would consume us. You know this would not be a productive way to fight for women’s equal rights, which is why you want us stuck in this morass.”
MSNBC.com has a report talking about how medical marijuana is the new “blockbuster” drug. Sales of the leafy controlled substance has amounted to $1.7 billion. Not exactly something to sneeze at, though getting the munchies is certainly understandable. From the report:
There is a noticeable aroma wafting around the medical marijuana industry. It’s the smell of money — with a strong hint of entrepreneurial opportunity.
Medical marijuana is now a $1.7 billion market, according to a report released Wednesday by See Change Strategy, an independent financial analysis firm that specializes in new and unique markets. The figure represents estimated sales of marijuana through dispensaries in states with medical marijuana laws. It is the first time a definitive dollar figure has been given to the emerging medical cannabis industry.
To put that number in perspective, sales of medical marijuana rival annual revenue generated by Viagra, a $1.9 billion business for Pfizer.
I don’t think anyone thinks $1.7 billion is chump change, and that’s because it isn’t. That’s a $1.7 billion influx into the local economy in a method that pays taxes, can be ensured to be safe for the user, and doesn’t involve violence over turf wars or bad deals.
Just imagine what the sales would be like if it were completely legal. Wouldn’t that be something?