Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Race rears its head

Let's talk about race -- no, not that practical joke nature played on human beans, I mean the real sense of race -- running!

I had promised to give reports on a few races from this past summer...Running Lungs 5K and Elkhorn 50K.  Here is the Running Lungs report. Elkhorn was successful, but that story will wait.

Running Lungs: back in June, I highlighted this race, a fundraiser put on by my friend Linda Wortman to raise funds for lung cancer research.  My report... on race day, Julie, Chaos and I got up early.  As is my SOP before a 5K, I stretched and drank black coffee and water -- consuming nothing nothing else -- and did a short warmup run with Chaos.  The three of us then drove into Bozeman to the race start; the 10K start was 15 minutes before the 5K, and we arrived in plenty of time to watch it.  I said hi to Linda and her husband Jerry, who was working like a maniac behind the scenes to help make everything go smoothly.  We watched the 10K start, and then, with the 5K start imminent, I took Chaos back to the car.  There's no way to run an all-out 5K with Chaos roped to my waist.  After locking Chaos in the car (she has a comfortable bed and water, and it was cool day, windows open, I started back to the finish line.  And then I heard it -- a plaintive, longing, cry: "how can you be doing this?  Why am I left out."  I turned and looked, and...well, good question.  So Chaos and I roped up and returned to the starting line.

"Bang" went the starting gun... OK, so it wasn't a gun, it was more of a starting shout, but we started out.  Chaos and I stayed back so as not to interfere with people trying to run fast, and tended to run to the side off the trail.  Julie was a bit behind us.  We had a fair number of people ahead of us, but most of the fast runners had entered the 10K, so as the field sorted out Chaos and I found ourselves in the upper 50% (certainly not front of the pack, though).  As we ran, we began picking off the occasional runner and slowly moving through the pack, and the race was starting to look like a race for us.

Chaos absolutely loves running with a group, and this isn't the first race we have run together.  Chaos also loves meeting new dogs, and the second and third miles of Running Lungs goes along Bozeman's Peet's Hill trail, where dogs off leash are welcome.  Hence our run included a few stops to meet with the occasional dog...not my choice, but rope teams move as a team.  I think this added a bit to our overall time.

Out finish through Lindley Park was really strong.  Chaos realized we were near the finish and took off.  When she stops dawdling with smelling this and that, greeting human and canine passersby, etc., and sets herself to it, she's extremely fast.  We covered the last quarter mile at breakneck speed.

Results?  Well, I was #1 in my age group.  Chaos was #1 dog (and yes, there were others).  Julie was a ways behind us, but she finished #1 in her age group.  Three victories!  More importantly, a successful fundraiser and great fun.

The field of runners was interesting.  There were a some elite runners, including Nikki Kimball, a world class ultra runner.  We spent a good bit of time talking with Nikki and her dog (who did not run) post race.  But there was also a substantial turnout from people who rarely if ever race, who were there just because of the cause, to help raise funds.  The post-race festivities were fun, and it was a very successful endeavor all around.  Julie, Chaos, and I look forward to next year's run.

Linda Wortman

Me, Linda, Julie, and Chaos

Linda and Jerry

Top Dog!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Pope comes to America...a thought or two

What to make of Pope Francis' visit to the United States?  Pope Francis was allowed to speak to Congress, and rather than bring a spiritual message, he chose to enter our politics and take sides, particularly with his scolding of Americans who oppose indiscriminate immigration.  Elsewhere, speaking at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Francis also condemned the United States for a lack of housing. "We can find no social or moral justification, no justification, no justification whatsoever, for lack of housing."

None of this is a surprise to me.  I've read his Evangelii Gaudium. It's clear he's a socialist (see Chapter 2), IMO a neo-Marxist, and it doesn't surprise me that it appears that he has come here to condemn what remains of capitalism in our society.  Nor does it surprise me that during his visit to Cuba he seems to have failed to condemn communism.

Well, what do you say about such a man?  How about this: he's arrogant, ignorant, hypocritical, and evil.

Arrogant -- how is it that a foreign dignitary and church leader takes it upon himself to lecture what is (or at least was) the freest country in the world, the only founded upon the rights of the individual.  And what business does he have entering our politics?  His demeanor may be meek, but his ideas are arrogant.

Ignorant -- nothing has done more to end poverty and improve human life than capitalism.  Capitalism, with its prerequisite of individual rights including private property, created economic growth.  Prior to capitalism, the possibility of systematic economic growth wasn't even imagined.  On the other hand his preferred system, socialist redistribution, is profoundly destructive.  If one wishes to spread poverty and death, dismantle capitalism.

Hypocritical -- We are to welcome all immigrants...even though the Vatican strictly controls entry and accepts no immigrants.  There's no excuse for lack of housing, "no justification whatsoever."  OK, the Vatican has assets worth 10 to 15 billion dollars -- start building housing, Francis.  Or is it just others who are to admit indigent immigrants and build housing for others, while you live in your closed enclave -- which has the highest per capita income in the world, $365,000, by one calculation.

Evil -- the first three are easily established, and perhaps this one is more difficult.  But where is his defense of liberty?  In totalitarian Cuba, he had none.  He hasn't made one here.  This isn't well-meaning ignorance.  It is indeed evil.

I have talked with a few friends who are Catholics, and I've been reading attempted defenses of the Pope by conservative writers.  Catholics who believe in the free market face a dilemma.  They feel obligated to accept the Pope as their spiritual leader who speaks infallibly, yet at the same time they know he is wildly wrong; how to reconcile this?  The rationalizations are wearing thin; it's getting harder for anyone to say "he's just misunderstood."

Catholics who appreciate liberty should just accept the possibility that the leader of their church really is a Marxist.  There's no need to deny Francis' anti-capitalism.  Like America, the highest position in the Catholic Church has been infiltrated by an enemy.  The question for Catholics shouldn't be how to accommodate Francis' ideology.  It should be how to resist it and counter it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

FEE loses its moorings

FEE, the Foundation for Economic Education, is the original free market think tank.  Founded by the great man Leonard E. Read in 1946, it has a long history of promoting liberty, free markets, and excellent economic analysis for the general public.  It was a home for great scholars such as economists Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, and writer Henry Hazlitt.

Unfortunately, of late FEE has taken a bizarre turn, and increasingly promotes political correctness, knee-jerk anarchism, and remarkably slipshod analysis, all disguised as libertarianism.  Case in point: In today's "Anything Peaceful" page of FEE's website, regular writer David Bier attacks Lousiana Governor and Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal for opposing Barack Obama's plan to import Syrian refugees to the United States.

Bier's argument almost immediately jumps the rails of logic when he says by Jindal's by reasoning Jews fleeing the Holocaust should have been turned back.  He continues by calling Obama's program "extending compassion" and chiding America for not being more compassionate, since Germany is accepting ten times as many.  "America can do more," he declares.  Bier concludes by warning against a "monstrously cold-hearted failure of hospitality" and accuses Jindal, and I guess the rest of us who oppose this resettlement, as rationalizing the fear, prejudice, and selfishness he claims drives us.


I responded in the comments section, and I reproduce a version of my comment here for my (erstwhile?) readers.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***

Steele's response:
The U.S. government is not "admitting" refugees.  It will finance importing and settling them.

The 10,000 number is for one year, with plans to increase it over time.  The people imported at taxpayer expense will be almost entirely Muslims, because the U.S. is only accepting refugees from U.N. camps.  U.N. camps are almost entirely populated by Muslims, because Muslims drove Christians and Yazidis from the camps.

The refugees won't be vetted to catch the infiltrators that ISIS and Al Qaeda have both promised to send, and while there are forms of Islam compatible with classical liberal values, the vast majority of Muslims from this part of the world believe sharia should be the law of the land.  For example, according to Pew Research, 91% of Iraqis believe sharia should be the law.

Bier says "fear, prejudice, and selfishness" motivate those of us who oppose importing Syrian refugees at taxpayer expense.  Marley G. (in a comment) suggests we are also racists.  But it is certainly not a failure of compassion, any more than opposing publicly financed health care for everyone is a "failure of compassion" motivated by "fear, prejudice, and selfishness."  Importing people, at taxpayer expense, who oppose and in some cases wish to violently destroy a free society is false compassion.  It's a stupid and vicious government program.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***
That's a fairly polite response to Bier's surprisingly nasty and remarkably poorly argued attack on Jindal and the rest of us who oppose this program.  By pretending this is just about free movement of people and that opponents are just a bunch of mean-spirited bigots, Bier tries to make the importation of Syrian refugees a libertarian cause.  It is not.  Never mind that most of the refugees seem to be coming from camps in Turkey, meaning they are no longer fleeing ISIS.  Never mind that many of them say they are just looking for better "safety nets" than Turkey provides.  The salient facts are these. 1) this is a government program to bring refugees here and settle them at taxpayer expense, providing food, housing, health care, cares, loans for homes (check out the HHS Office of Refugee Settlement site, it is chock full of taxpayer-funded handouts for refugees).  2) these immigrants are indigent, tend to be poorly educated with poor English skills, and thus have a high risk of depending on government (taxpayer) funding.  3) they come from a part of the world where most people have values and beliefs that are incompatible with the American values of individual liberty.  Sharia is not compatible with the Bill of Rights.  Neither are stoning to death for adultery (58% of Iraqis support) or death penalty for leaving Islam (a mere 42% support...slightly more than the percentage of Americans Pew finds support bigger government, interestingly).  4) We have no reasonable way of screening ISIS members and similar types.

This is a terrible program, one more case of Barack Obama "fundamentally transforming" America by undercutting it.

Back when FEE promoted free markets, liberty and reason, they published a story told by Davy Crockett, "Not Yours to Give."  After a speech he gave in Congress against a bill to appropriate funds for a charitable cause, Crockett was asked to explain, and he repeated the words of a constituent, Horatio Bunce:

"...It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of; it is the principle. In the first place, the government ought to have in the Treasury no more than enough for its legitimate purposes. But that has nothing to do with the question. The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be intrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by a tariff...If you have the right to give to one, you have the right to give to all; and, as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose."

A libertarian should understand this immediately.  Spending taxpayer money on this refugee scheme is not libertarian, free market or "Anything Peaceful."

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Free Kim Davis!

"We" at Unforeseen Contingencies support Kim Davis, and urge that she be freed.  Kim Davis is County Clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky.  After SCOTUS' bizarre ruling in Obergefell vs. Hodges, she ceased issuing marriage licenses.  She refuses to issue licenses to same-sex couples, citing her understanding of the Bible.  To avoid engaging in discrimination, she simply ceased issue of licences to anyone.

I am skeptical of the SCOTUS ruling in Obergefell, because it was based not on law or the Constitution but, according to Justice Kennedy, the weird notion that marriage is a "freedom."  That's nonsensical.  Regardless of what one thinks of same-sex marriage (I'm for it) the SCOTUS ruling was incoherent.  If we can apply "that's a freedom" indiscriminately to any "popular" (i.e. PC) cause of the day and thus claim it is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment, there are no limits to government power.  One could claim, for example a desire to be free from neighbors who own guns, or who practice a religion you don't like, or have political beliefs you believe should be suppressed, and if five members of SCOTUS agree, why, you have a "Constitutional right" that the Founders enshrined from the start.  Good grief.

But regardless of this, SCOTUS ruled, that's law, and Davis, as a government official, must follow it, right?  Well, no.  SCOTUS ruled that it is unConstitutional to discriminate on the basis of sexual preference.  Davis has not done that.  She issues no licenses to anyone.  She cites her inalienable right to practice her religion, protected by the First Amendment.  I'm skeptical of this argument, because it could be argued that her job is incompatible with her religious beliefs, and she has no inalienable right to this particular job.  I would make this argument myself, except that, as everyone ought to know, government officials have no legal obligation to provide particular services to anyone.  For example, the courts, including SCOTUS, have repeatedly ruled that the police have no duty to protect any person.  This is not a small point.  If you obtain an injunction against someone, the police have no legal obligation to enforce it.  SCOTUS says so.  If that failure results in, say, the murders of your children, too bad.  You cannot demand they "do their duty," because no such duty to perform exists.

So explain to me where, in the U.S. Constitution, the Supreme Court or anyone else in the federal government is given power to demand a county clerk provide services.  They claim they have no authority to tell the police to protect you from a murderer, but they can demand a county clerk issue you a marriage license?  Bah!  I cry "hoax!"  It's a fraud.

That's damning, but it's a minor point.  Here's the real problem with the persecution of Davis.

SCOTUS ruled that discrimination against same-sex couples is unConstitutional.  OK.  Davis did not discriminate -- she issued no licenses.  Heterosexual couples did not receive licenses.  Furthermore, nothing in Kentucky law permits her to issue licenses to same-sex couples,* because 1998 Ky. Acts ch. 258, sec. 4 reads:

402.005 Definition of marriage
As used and recognized in the law of the Commonwealth, "marriage" refers only to the civil status, condition, or relation of one (1) man and one (1) woman united in law for life, for the discharge to each other and the community of the duties legally incumbent upon those whose association is founded on the distinction of sex.

Let that sink in.  Nothing in Kentucky law, or any other law, permits Mrs. Davis to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  And SCOTUS says she is forbidden by the U.S. Constitution to discriminate on the basis of sexual preference.  Never mind her religious convictions, she took an oath to uphold both the U.S and Kentucky Constitutions and laws.  Frankly, there's no argument that she failed to do so.  In fact, any Kentucky clerk who issues a license has violated their oath, and the law.  Davis, on the other hand, did not.

Don't forget, your semi-faithful correspondent favors same-sex marriage, sufficiently that he (er, I) donated 200 USD to the ill-fated effort to defeat California's Proposition 8 that outlawed same-sex marriage.  I think the public needs to be persuaded to accept, as a legal matter, same-sex relationships.  The idea that it must be imposed by judges, and by means of legislating from the bench, is utterly unacceptable.

That Mrs. Davis should be incarcerated for following the law, instead of political fashion, is tyrannical.  The judge involved, Judge Bunning, ought to be impeached, prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned...after having been tarred and feathered, of course...although I'm sure legal "experts" can construct explanations as to why that's improper and impossible and judges can and should do any damn thing they please without repercussions of any sort.

Well, they are wrong.  Free Kim Davis!

*Credit where it's due: The point about Kentucky law is from Mike Huckabee.  I don't often agree with Huckabee, but this is an extremely important observation from him.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?