Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Conversion of Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist passed away this week.  He was a good man.  The people near him all found him kind, thoughtful and thoroughly decent.  There's been some ideologically-based vitriol against him, people who think it's okay to hate just because one disagrees with another.  Krauthammer showed us a better way.  He was thoughtful, persuasive and didn't hate when he discussed.  He was thoroughly rational in part because he was a fully-trained doctor (completing medical school and residency despite being rendered nearly quadriplegic early in medical school by a diving accident).

How did a speechwriter for Vice-President Walter Mondale ever become a conservative, though?  He's given the explanation many places, but I like the explanation he gave on the Armstrong and Getty Show well enough to transcribe it for those who wish to read it.  Note that A&G are great hosts, thoughtful men and fun to listen to.  They aren't like the ranting shows you may have encountered elsewhere and they're worth a listen.

Discussing his book, "Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics," Krauthammer explained his writing on politics:  "...there's a lot on politics because in the end, if you get the politics wrong in this society, you can have all the beautiful, elegant stuff in life but it can get swept away and that's why I devoted my life to politics.  I left medicine to do that."

The question that prompted it came from Jack Armstrong:  "How did you come to your political beliefs?  Or maybe the better question is 'How do most people end up where they are?'"

Charles Krauthammer:  "I think people initially are born into their political tribe.  You get it from your folks, you get it from your environment, you get it from your school.  And then I think around the time of your mid-teens, you start to go to college, you start to form your own ideas.  And for me, I was a Cold War liberal; a Democrat in my 20's.  And then the change that happened to me was very simple; I'm open to empirical evidence.  As you know I was a doctor before became a writer.  And when you're a doctor and it turns out the treatment that you're giving is killing your patients, you stop the treatment.  And I remember when the first empirical, statistical studies from the Great Society, the War on Poverty started to come in, in the 1980's when I was in my 30's, it was clear that not only was the War on Poverty and the Great Society a failure, but it was undermining and destroying the very communities it was trying to help.

"So, I didn't have an overnight epiphany where I woke up in the morning and said, 'I think I'll be a conservative.  The Lord has spoken to me.'  It was absorbing all this social science evidence and realizing that for all their good intentions, liberals were ruining things.  I mean really ruining things.  And I began to examine the alternate way to do it, and that led me to be a kind of small-government conservative."

Hear the full interview here:

This is how many of us come to conservatism.  We want to help others, but we see the evidence that liberalism doesn't do that, and worse yet, big government is dangerous to liberty.  We all feel the urge to lead with our hearts, but the results can be disastrous, and Charles Krauthammer showed us a better way:  leading with reason while being compassionate.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Making gasoline from carbon dioxide

I've posted a lot about energy in the past, but I've seen something that surprised me.  Evidently, this technology has been in use for a while, but I had no idea we could do it.

Scientists say they've found a cheap way to convert CO2 into gasoline

A team of scientists claims to have discovered a cheaper way to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turn it into gasoline or other fuels, which could arm humanity with a new tool in the fight against climate change.

Published in the scientific journal Joule on Thursday, the research demonstrates a new technique that pulls carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and converts it into liquid gasoline, diesel or jet fuel.

Canadian clean energy company Carbon Engineering, in partnership with researchers from Harvard, used little more than limestone, hydrogen and air for the process, which can remove one metric ton of CO2 for as little as $94, the scientists say. It cleans up the environment, and produces eco-friendly liquid fuel at the same time.

"Until now, research suggested it would cost $600 per ton to remove CO2 from the atmosphere using DAC technology, making it too expensive to be a feasible solution to removing legacy carbon at scale," David Keith, Harvard Professor and founder of Carbon Energy said in a statement. "We now have the data and engineering to prove that DAC can achieve costs below $100 per ton."

DAC refers to "direct air capture" technology, or the technique by which Carbon Engineering extracts CO2 from air.
Who would have thought we'd turn gasoline into a renewable resource?  We'll still need lots of nuclear power to make this happen, but I guess hydrogen fuel cells might not be necessary in the future. 

The political ramifications are huge.  If this technology does become sufficiently inexpensive, the Middle East will no longer matter at all. 

Friday, June 1, 2018

It's still the most common position on immigration

“We all agree on the need to better secure the border and punish employers who choose to hire illegal immigrants. We are a generous and welcoming people here in the United States, but those who enter the country illegally and those who employ them disrespect the rule of law and they are showing disregard for those who are following the law.  We simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented, unchecked and circumventing the line of people who are waiting patiently, diligently and lawfully to become immigrants in this country.” -Senator Barack Obama in 2005.

The best clip of this won't embed traditionally.  I got it to work using HTML, but just in case they ever disallow that here's the link:

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Randomness: Infinity War wasn't so very great


Seriously, there will be spoilers.  Don't read this if that matters to you.

Infinity War wasn't the best movie ever.  Don't get me wrong; the action was tremendous.  Lots of great punching and special effects and such.  The story was compelling.

However, Infinity War was also full of shortcomings.  I stopped reading Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series when one of the books was entirely devoted to set up for the next book.  The entire book was just positioning characters from where they were in the last book to where they needed to be to start the next book.  I realized at that point that the series was over.  While I won't give up on the Avengers just yet, I was disappointed that Infinity War was half a movie.  That's right, Infinity War is just set up for Infinity War II.  What's really unsatisfying is that this movie didn't have its own resolution.  The climax happens and then the credits roll.  

Worse yet, Thanos (or just Thanatos?  Can we call him by his Greek name, 'cause clearly that's who he is) is an idiot.  "My world ran out of resources and perished, so I must apply my solution to the entire universe."  Really?  That's the solution of a mentally-challenged dictator.  We'll set aside the fact that so far in human history every projected end of resources hasn't actually happened because we learned how to apply technology to farm better, drill better, or make something new and Thanos' planet had highly advanced technology suggesting they could probably overcome shortages in a similar fashion.

Let's say the only way to resolve this was with the super glove and all six infinity stones.  Okay, great.  You have all of them.  In other movies, we've opened portals to other realities.  So, open a portal to a reality with resources but no life, and just take another universe worth of resources.  Problem solved.  Or use the reality stone such that resources are more abundant.  Or harvest empty star systems for their resources.  Problem solved.  Killing off half of all intelligent life solves nothing because people just reproduce.  We're good at it.

To get the soul stone, Thanos has to sacrifice something he loves.  So, he kills his adopted daughter Gamora.  This falls flat, and fails the parent test.  As a parent, I can say that I'd defend my child from physical harm at any cost, including my own life.  That's how parental love works.  There is no circumstance where I'd give my child's life to advance my agenda.  If I were willing to do that, I could not claim to truly love that person.

So, that's my first impression of Infinity War.  At the very least they could have given us a real resolution.  If you have to Peter Jackson the film length to give it a real ending, do that.  We'll sit through the extra hour, but this was really unsatisfying.  

Oh, and seriously.  Don't draw out Spidey's death to force tears.  Everyone dusted pretty quickly, but Spidey needed to die slower to make people cry?  I am not a fan of this.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Socialist Governments believe they own you

There's a toddler, Alfie Evans, who is probably already deceased.  If not, it will happen shortly.  This isn't an abortion post, but something even scarier. 

Alfie Evans joins Charlie Gard in being sentenced to death by UK courts.  Charlie Gard died last year after his legal appeals to leave the UK for treatment were denied.

I'm not going to argue the UK shouldn't set a limit on the amount of treatment they give a patient.  Insurance companies in the US do that, too, by imposing a lifetime maximum dollar amount on how much treatment they'll give any patient.  They can absolutely refuse to further treat a case they see as terminal and without any medical recourse.

The real concern comes with what amounts to executing toddlers.  In both Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans' cases, there were other countries willing to accept and try to treat the children.  The UK wouldn't have had to spend another penny on either child.  In Charlie's case, some 1.3 million pounds in private funds had been raised to treat him.  After the UK government executed him, Charlie's parents pledged the funds to help other sick children.  In Alfie's case,  the Italian government granted the toddler citizenship and was ready to take him by military medical transport for help in Italy.  There would have been absolutely no further cost to the UK.  Instead, a UK judge decided that the State had the right to execute Alfie.

This is my problem with these cases:  The State* does not own you.  It can deny you further benefits after due process, but it can not claim ownership of your person, at least in Western tradition.  Owning someone else is slavery, and that's something no longer permitted in Europe or North America. 

However, ownership or slavery is the only way to describe the situation when the government decides that in spite of independent funding and ability to try to save a child, it will not permit the attempt. 

Nearly 185 years after the British Empire passed a bill to abolish slavery, the UK courts have reinstated it.  Instead of private ownership of slaves which allowed for purchase and emancipation, the Marxist ownership of citizens has been established. 

*"State" in the political science meaning of the term, what we in the US most often call a "country" or "nation," but which most of the world calls a political State.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Freedom vs. Safety, the Mormon Edition

Most Bible-readers are aware of a passage that refers to a war in Heaven before this world was.  For accessibility, I'll quote the NIV verses from Revelation 12:
7.  Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.
8.  But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.
9.  The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
LDS scripture gives us a bit more regarding what this was about.  Satan rebelled against God because his plan was rejected in favor of Jesus Christ's plan.  Jesus, recognizing God's pattern, wanted to allow people moral agency (freedom to make choices and accept the consequences thereof).  He said, "Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever." (Moses 4:2)

Satan, on the other hand, had a different plan:  "Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor." (Moses 4:1)

Prophets have since clarified that the only way Satan might have carried out his plan is to have taken away the moral agency (freedom to make choices and accept the consequences thereof).  Take away freedom, and nobody can sin, make mistakes and end up condemned for them.

That sounds pretty great at first.  Garden of Eden forever, right? 

Satan betrayed his real desire in the second part of his statement, however:  "...surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor."

Ah, you see we grow in power and ability and become more like God by making good choices.  We become more and more powerful in righteousness and choose a path that leads to eternal glory with God.  Take away choice, and nobody ever gets more powerful.  Satan would be the only powerful being in the universe, having been brazen enough to ask God for His honor (His power, his Mantle, His Godhood) to carry out the plan.  Even God would have been cast down and made less in favor of an all-powerful, all-controlling Satan.

For fellow Mormons, always remember when someone promises safety in return for a surrender of your power that Satan also promised complete safety if we would only give up our freedom (power to act, moral agency). How many times must we hear that lie repeated until we recognize the Serpent's voice behind it?  The War in Heaven continues to this day and we must fight it with the freedom we claimed when we backed God and Jesus Christ.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The quill and inkwell, a 1st Amendment appeal

In discussing the 2nd Amendment with a long-time, beloved friend I had to think of a way to help her understand that what she was saying wasn't correct.  This thought isn't new, but it's an effective illustration.

Remember that social media and the broadcast media are driving this mass shooting phenomenon with irresponsible reporting that gives shooters the notoriety they're after and normalizes the behavior. What do you think the response would be if we said: "We just want reasonable, responsible controls on media, including the right to ban dangerous information. We want to ban Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and similar applications as these are powerful platforms that not only contribute to mass shootings, but also bullying and teen suicide.  If it saves only one child's life, this will be worth the sacrifice. The founders never imagined such powerful tools when they wrote the 1st Amendment. They were referring to quill pens, ink wells, manual printing presses and handbills. We have the right to ban or regulate anything more modern than that."

That statement sounds reasonable.  It sounds loving.  However, within it are the seeds of totalitarian control of a population.  People understand that and they reject this sort of argument.  What shocks me is that they don't logically extend the same protection to the 2nd Amendment, which defends the unalienable rights of free speech, free assembly and the right to petition the government.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Armed Citizen

NRA Country superstar Craig Morgan was whitetail hunting when he received a terrifying phone call--his daughter‘s home was invaded, but luckily Morgan had taught her well. ”My daughter was smart enough to go in her bedroom and lock herself in, and she had a pistol, so she was waiting if he came through," Morgan explained Rather than face an armed citizen, the suspect fled the home. ”I’m grateful that we live in a country where we as citizens have the right to bear arms and protect ourselves," said Morgan."God bless the USA.” (, 06/29/2011) 

Already on edge following a burglary that occurred just days prior, Omar Medina was awakened by loud noises coming from somewhere inside his home. He quickly retrieved his handgun and stepped out into the hallway. An intruder was in the living room. Medina tired three shots. The intruder grunted loudly, ran out the door, collapsed and died. Police say the man had an extensive criminal record and was a suspect in other burglaries. (The Item, Sumter, SC, 05/28/2011) 

Peggy Melton returned home unaware that a man and woman were in the act of burglarizing the residence. As she entered a bedroom, she discovered the male intruder, who possessed a gun illegally. He threatened to shoot her. Fortunately, Melton has a concealed-carry permit and had holstered a handgun earlier that day. She drew the gun and fired three shots, striking the burglar. He ran from the home and his accomplice sped them away in a stolen truck. Police caught up with the burglars and took them into custody. (News-Leader, Springfield,MO,06/23/2011) 

How’s this for a bold, criminal act? A thief who burglarized a residence and stole the homeowner’s Lexus returned in the stolen ride intent on further burglary. He broke into the home, perhaps knowing the owners were out of town. What he surely didn’t know was that their son was house-sitting and armed with a shotgun. When the son heard the suspect enter the home, he took up his shotgun and confronted him.The intruder cursed and reached toward his back as if to draw a weapon.The son shot the intruder three times, killing him. Neighbors say the area, home to many military retirees, has been hit hard by burglars and residents have armed themselves in response. "I don’t feel scared, I feel violated," said neighbor Mary Gramm. "l have a gun.” (San Antonio Express-News, San Antonio, TX, 05/23/2011) 

When a homeowner’s dogs began barking in bizarre fashion, he grabbed a handgun to investigate while his wife called the police. The victim of two burglaries in recent weeks, the homeowner cautiously approached his detached garage. He confronted two prowlers lurking inside, drew his handgun and told them not to move. Initially it appeared the suspects would wait for police, but suddenly the desperate men charged.The homeowner made quick work of the criminals, opening fire and connecting with each shot. One suspect fell dead.The other lay wounded.The homeowner grabbed a medical kit and provided assistance to the wounded man until police arrived. (The Chronicle, Centralia, WA, 05/23/2011) 

A 9-1-1 dispatcher received a call at 4:34 a.m. that someone was trying to break into a 4-year-old girl’s bedroom. The female caller remained on the line, but before police could arrive, the suspect threw a concrete block through the glass portion of a back door. Fortunately, the caller’s husband had a Plan B one that did not involve waiting for police to arrive. He quickly retrieved his .22-cal. revolver and fired three shots through the broken glass window. Moments later the brazen suspect returned and stuck his hand through the window. The husband fired two more shots, this time striking the suspect in the head and abdomen. When police arrived, the suspect was sitting on the back porch covered in blood. At press time he was listed in critical condition at the hospital. (The Baxter Bulletin Mountain Home, AR, 06/14/2011) 

It’s a familiar scenario: An armed citizen with a concealed-carry permit is likely once again to have saved multiple lives. Several customers were doing business inside a pawn shop when a man walked inside, pointed a gun toward the ceiling and announced a robbery. Did the gunman intend to shoot the clerk? Would he take hostage? We’ll never know, because a customer with a concealed-carry permit promptly drew a pistol and shot the robber in the stomach.The robber has been charged with aggravated robbery. (KSAT-TV, San Antonio, TX, 06/22/2011) 

Want even more stories?
Breitbart is providing 2nd Amendment stories. (Despite what Steve Bannon did to Breitbart, the 2nd Amendment stories are still good).
The Blaze is providing 2nd Amendment stories.
Visit The Armed Citizen blog for older stories (the blog seems abandoned).

Other accounts of self-defense collected on this blog:
2nd Amendment Saves a Pregnant Woman,
2nd Amendment vs. a Serial Rapist,

Failures of Gun Control:
UK Government under reports gun violence to pretend their policies work
A great personal account:  My Transformation From Anti-Gun Feminist To Armed Feminist
Knife Control?!
Protecting Children through Gun Control?
Futility of the Gun Banning Philosophy
A Contrast to VA Tech

Thoughts on publicized shootings: Shootings early in 2009, Alabama Shootings, Finland School Shooting. Remember: The only proven method to mitigate the disaster of a rogue criminal shooter is to have more first responders, e.g. CCW permit holders lawfully armed and on scene. These criminals do not respect "gun free" zones, but simply view them as target-rich opposition-free areas in which to slaughter innocents.

CCW Holders are an especially lawful group.

Carrying a firearm is an inherently civilized act.

Right to Carry Statistics.

Does Violence Beget Violence?
Firing a gun at another human being will never make your life better.  This is always true.  Police officers I've spoken with agree:  use of lethal force (even on the job) never makes things better.  It may save your life, and that is why self-defense is a right.  The loss of any human life is regrettable.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

An Open Letter to the San Francisco Police Department

Hey, San Francisco Police Officers.  I've visited your fair city a number of times and felt safe each time in part thanks to your hard work.  Admittedly, I haven't been in years and will never set foot in San Francisco again if I can help it.  You should probably consider the same choice.

There are many police and sheriff's departments that need good officers throughout California and across the nation.  It's time to seriously start applying to them.  Cost of living is also much lower almost everywhere but San Francisco, so you might find your salary is sufficient to live on elsewhere.

I'm recommending this because of recent events in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The one that truly shocked me was protestors organizing and marching over a recent shooting.  For those who are unfamiliar, the quick version is that an armed robber hiding in the trunk of a vehicle.  His accomplices had been secured.  When asked to show his hands through the opening of the partially-ajar trunk, he produced a firearm and began shooting at officers.  Note that one's aim isn't very good through the gap of a partially-open trunk, so the reality is he began shooting indiscriminately.  Officers returned fire for their own safety and the safety of innocents in the area (who were later interviewed and many were grateful and felt the police waited as long as they could*).  This is among the most justified of police shootings I've ever heard of.  Yet the activists of San Francisco marched protesting your actions.

This raises an obvious question for the protestors.  What exactly did you want the police to do?  Simply allow the suspect to keep shooting, potentially killing officers and innocent bystanders?  Yes, every human life is precious and as a society we've chosen to safeguard as many innocents as possible by defending ourselves against aggressors actively using deadly force by stopping them as quickly as possible.

In a clear sign that Bay Area residents are hostile to their police forces, an Oakland coffee shop has decided it won't serve police officers any longer "for the safety of its customers."  This policy was exercised a few weeks ago.  Of course, refusing service may be illegal, but I would guess officers won't push it.  My recommendation:  police should return the favor.  The Supreme Court has ruled that police don't have a Constitutional duty to protect people even if those people have a restraining order against their assailant (buy a gun, folks).  So, they have no obligation to protect this coffee shop or investigate any crimes against it.

Better yet, leave the San Fransisco Bay Area entirely for a department and community that appreciates its officers.

The entire police force quitting wouldn't be unprecedented, though it's never happened in a city so large.  Towns in both Indiana and Alaska have had their police forces quit and they're doing fine.

San Francisco wouldn't fare as well, but they might grow up a bit and realize how much  they really do need the thin blue line.

*From the linked story:
Area resident Albert Balcazar said the officers gave the armed suspect plenty of time to surrender.

“They gave him five to ten minutes of instructions before bullets went off,” said Balcazar. “They gave him a long time to get out. They wanted him to live. I know they wanted him to live.”

Friday, March 9, 2018

What the NRA really does

After the recent school shooting, the political Left in America has begun to insult, attack and slander the NRA.  They call them child murderers.  There's a billboard now in Florida proclaiming (falsely) that the NRA is a terrorist organization.  If you scroll back to the post about Collectivism vs. Individualism, you may understand why the Left feels this way even though NRA members aren't doing any shooting of children.

Let's talk about what the NRA and its membership does.  If you do some research, you'll find that the NRA, while it does give political donations, gives small donations compared to other lobbying organizations.  In fact, what they do best is not buy politicians, but organize voters who support individual gun rights.  Even critics of the NRA will admit this after a bit of research, as shown in this Vox article:  The NRA doesn’t buy politicians. It swings elections.  Notice they aren't friendly to the NRA (Vox's readers lean slightly Left and they know it), but they're honest about this.
Although many members of the media blame the NRA’s huge donations to politicians, it’s not the full story. As Jeff Stein pointed out for Vox, liberals love to feed the narrative that politicians are being bought by the NRA, when in reality the proportion of money given to politicians is fairly small.

"When you really look at how that money fits into the grand scheme of congressional fundraising, it looks much less likely to actually be playing a crucial role," Stein wrote. "According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the NRA gave close to $1 million to Republican senators’ PACs in 2014 — or about 1 percent of the $67 million they raised that year."
This won't make any of their critics like the NRA, but even if one doesn't support the organization, its membership is saving lives and teaching others how to defend themselves.

Remember the Texas massacre in Sutherland Springs, Texas in fall of 2017?  Man Who Shot Texas Church Murderer Is An NRA Instructor  The man who shot the bad guy developed his rifle skills in part because of his NRA membership.  Also, he was teaching other good people how to defend themselves and others.  Oh, and he was using an AR-15 rifle.

He's not alone.  Here's another story about an NRA instructor using his AR-15 to protect someone.  He prevented a pregnant woman from being stabbed.  Full story here:  NRA Instructor With AR-15 Saves Pregnant Woman Being Stabbed.  No shots were fired, the simple presentation of the AR-15 in competent hands stopped the attack.
You don't have to be an NRA member or instructor to benefit.  Here's another man's story of how the NRA helped his family learn self defense:  The NRA Doesn’t Kill People, It Saves Lives. Just Ask My Family  From this fellow's story: 

In the early 1990s, a member of my family was robbed at knife and gunpoint while trying to earn a living at his small business. The experience changed my family’s perception of our own safety and security forever. After several days of reflection, this family member made a heartfelt decision: he needed to protect his life, property, and our family by purchasing a firearm.
This is where the NRA came in. When he did make a firearms purchase, it was NRA-trained and -certified instructors who spent hours of their own time to teach him how to safely operate his preferred method of self-defense. They did not talk politics or try to indoctrinate him in any way, but did what they could to teach him how to safely and effectively defend himself if the moment ever came.
The NRA helped my family find a sense of peace again. We collectively decided to be survivors and never victims, making sure our families’ safety would never be placed in jeopardy again.
His article is short and very good.  His story is compelling.  The NRA and its members save lives, both directly and through self-defense instruction.  I'll conclude with words from the above-linked article, in which he quotes an NRA staffer.
“[A]ll I can do is keep my head down and keep fighting the good fight,” he continued. “The NRA wants an honest discussion with anyone who will listen, who will treat gun owners, hunters and law enforcement with respect. All we ask is that we are treated in a fair, honest manner. That’s all the millions of NRA members and law-abiding gun owners want. Please don’t make us into monsters.”

That’s all I want as well. It’s time for the war on the NRA to stop.