Friday, July 29, 2016

Let's Get Down to the Business of Hurting America: Hillary's Proposed Tax Increases

In case you didn't notice (or are part of the roughly 45% of Americans who didn't pay income taxes last year), the tax rates have been steadily creeping up under the Obama regime.

It's no use blaming the Republicans. Socialist government spending has infected both parties, yet Obama and Hillary actively campaign to create an even broader socialist republic.

Hillary Clinton has proposed even more tax increases than Obama if she is allowed to reign over rule lead serve the American people. I took a look at the list of proposed tax increases, and the suggested tax increases. Nearly every one will raise my taxes.

Chances are, they'll negatively affect your life as well.

I'm not a rich guy. I run a small school. I still teach university classes. Teaching doesn't pay much.

I also have invested (meaning tied up) money in land. Since the recession of 2008, land sales have stagnated, and I've sold very little land. Occasionally, I do sell some and make additional income to supplement my exorbitant lifestyle.

Yet thanks to Obama and the Nancy Pelosi Congress of six years ago, I now pay more taxes than ever on less money.

Back to Hillary. Here are the tax increases she proposes:

Income Tax
Hillary wants to increase income tax by lowering the amount of money we can take on deductions. This will effect those of us who itemize deductions. I rely on itemized deductions to significantly lower my tax burden. (And it is a burden.) I have a house with a mortgage, significant health care bills, and donate roughly 10% of my income to charities. Lowering the deduction amount means that I'll pay more taxes, losing a higher percentage of my income to a corrupt government that wants to "spread the wealth" by paying bureaucrats to run government agencies.

Business Tax
The school I run also happens to be a business. Not only do I get the privilege of having my income taxed, but money that the business makes, that would go to pay my salary and teacher salaries, will be reduced. All of us will lose income.

Fairness Tax
The term "fairness" is a progressive code word meaning "suck money from evil rich people." This tax could affect me if, for instance, I was able to sell some of my land. Instead of using the money for future investments or retirement, Hillary's Brave New World order would suck out a portion of that money, leaving me with only enough to allow me the privilege of working to make ends meet.

Capital Gains Tax
Most progressives and Democrats treat the lower capital gains taxes as a rich person's tax dodge. Simply put, capital gains is an increase in money that was already taxed and then used for investments. Again, if I were able to sell some land, the current capital gains tax would be 25% straight off the top. I suspect the "fairness" tax would take the rest.

And Hillary wants to raise the capital gains rate.

Selling my land may not even be worth the trouble if Hillary has her way, which means that under Hillary's America, many in my situation would no longer be investing dollars.

(For those socialists who may be reading this, wealth in the US is created through investments. Wealth is how we Americans pay income taxes to support the 45% who don't pay income taxes.)

Tax on Stock Trades
This tax would affect everyone who has a retirement account or who invests in the stock market. Basically, every time a stock is traded (bought or sold) the US government would require a tax on the transaction. Yes, many of us have a 401(K) which would be affected, producing a lower return on investment and decreasing retirement income. Such a tax would put a drag on any stock investment which would burden the market and discourage investment.

Hillary has proposed these tax increases to help pay the staggering $20 trillion debt and the half-billion to trillion deficit the country is running.

Yet these proposals only serve to hurt the economy further, sending us into the spiral of socialist stagnation.

Is this really the direction we Americans want to take?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Are Conservatives Stupid?

Progressives, especially those in academia, often accuse conservatives of being stupid. (See, for example, this compilation of studies as a case in point.)

These studies and statistics ostensibly offer proof that, merely because conservatives reject progressive policies, they are mentally inferior to liberals. Some, like the statistics about the spread of information in the news, assume that because conservatives haven't heard about the latest in progressive dogma, that somehow proves a lack of intelligence.

An interesting alternative case was this study asking the question: "Are conservatives really simple-minded?" Anyone can immediately see that the "scientific" question is imbued with two logical fallacies: the fallacy of a loaded question and an ad hominem fallacy. The study, however, does evaluate the question whether progressives are more capable with complexity than conservatives.

The study starts off by noting that the concept of complexity is domain-specific, meaning that minds can think complexly in one area while thinking simply in others. This is an obvious limitation of the human brain. Our brains are finite and we must pick and choose those things that we want to spend our time thinking about.

In every study where progressives purportedly prove complexity, the questions asked, and the data collected, have focused on issues that are of particular importance to progressives. In the study I've cited, however, the researchers found, much to their surprise, that conservatives have no substantial differences from progressives in processing complex thoughts.

Surprise of surprises! The study does note that conservatives aren't as complex in progressive areas of thought - which simply means that conservatives don't spend time thinking of the same things progressives think about. For example, progressives will think about the complexity of civil rights, including all sorts of groups as protected classes. Conservatives, on the other hand, are "simple" thinkers on civil rights, rejecting the inclusion of so many groups as silly or unnecessary.

The study goes on to admit that out of all those researchers who worked on this particular complexity study, not a single one of them "was conservative by any measure." This comes as no surprise to me, or to anyone familiar with the left-leaning university system. What does surprise me is that the author admitted that all the complexity study research that came from his group was biased. That is a huge admission.

So what do we know about left-leaning research? That it is left leaning. Such research says more about the biases of the left than it will ever do in identifying complexity, or in its ability to correctly assess conservatives' brains.

One explanation about why progressives tend toward complex thought in many situations may stem from the fact that those on the left have no moral foundation by which to judge the complexity of an issue. For example, if a child first attempts to pour water into a cup, it may take the child a great deal of complex thought and time to get the water into the cup. An adult, who has performed this action thousands of times needs no such complexity to get the water into the cup.

Is the child superior because it uses more of its brain at the time to fill the cup? Of course not. Do we judge the adult to be inferior for simplifying the process, where filling a cup is accomplished without thought? Not at all.

Such an analogy is akin to why progressives find conservative thought simplistic, and why they misjudge conservative thought time and again. To every moral question (and there are a lot of them) progressives must approach the problem anew, every time.

As an example, a conservative may look at a moral issue such as same sex marriage and dismiss it as a trivial concern, since the moral base is vastly different from the progressive moral base. Any new group classification related to same sex marriage is automatically invalid: trans-marriage, plural marriage, and so on.

A progressive, on the other hand, must take each case of class identification as a new, complex thing, and then classify it accordingly. Hence the questions: "Do we consider transgender on par with homosexuality? Yes? Then it is a protected class and the 'system' against trans-marriage is wrong."

Yet is that complexity morally superior? Not at all. In fact, complexity for its own sake is often wrong. There is no room in it for moral absolutes. There is no room for inductive learning.

There is no basis to condemn conservatism based on such biased intellectual models. Since they come from the academic left, they show nothing more than their own bias and wishful thinking about those on the right.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

History Not in History Books: Winston Churchill During World War II

I've been reading an obscure account about World War II and came across this gem about Winston Churchill. You won't find this in any school textbooks:
Well anyway, along comes Churchill, and all the women and children cheer him wildly as his car drives along the road. Then he tells his driver to stop. The driver stops, Churchill gets out, stands to the side of the car and begins relieving himself. He had an honor guard and everything else, and he ordered the whole thing to stop. At the same time, he flashes the "V for Victory" sign. And all the women and children? It doesn't faze them in the least. Well, that was the great Winston Churchill. If you can do a thing like that in full sight, you're an unusual man. (Source)
There's a lesson to be learned about politics from this story. I'm not sure what it is, but I'm certain there's a lesson in there somewhere.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Some Thoughts on Islamist Terrorism and Truck Drivers in Nice, Once Again

Once again, terrorism on a mass scale has struck France. This time, a crazed Tunisian turned French national drove a truck through a crowd in Nice as the people celebrated Bastille Day.

Once again, the news media are slobbering all over themselves to prove that the driver, named Mohamed, wasn't really a Muslim (he drank alcohol and never attended the mosque!), that he was a loner (he became depressed when his wife left him!), or that the truck was responsible (CNN headline "Truck Terror").

Once again, French President Hollande has vowed to show "real force," whatever that means.

Once again, US President Obama lectured the world on religious tolerance.

And once again the world is diminished because Islamist terrorism has been allowed to grow and prosper all over the world.

The progressive elites who control the narrative fail to identify and to understand the nature of terrorism. Even after years of Islamic terrorist acts, reaching back into the 1970s, most members of the press, as well as most governments, treat terrorism as a unified group of people with central leadership.

This is not the case. Terrorism is a religious and political ideology.

Terrorism is a means to spread the ideals of Islamism - the call to create an Islamic state. Terrorism is an appeal to the basest emotions, directed at young Muslim men. Terrorism presents the promise of Allah's salvation to those who are "strong" enough to commit mass murder. Terrorism is an idea that spreads through the minds of Muslims, corrupting them, shaping them, and convincing them that evil is good and good is evil. Terrorism is strengthened whenever it is allowed to grow unchecked and unnamed.

While certain groups (such as ISIS) gained notoriety by spreading terrorism, they spread an ideal, rather than taking territory. These groups are not unified. They are not centralized. They are not beholden to a top-down government. They have no hierarchical structure. If one Muslim terrorist rises to notoriety by spreading lies and deceit, then is killed, the Hydra of terrorism will grow three new heads in his place.

This is where governments and media get it wrong. They insist on misrepresenting terrorism as a solidified movement. (They also insist that it has nothing to do with Islam.) Yet, by its very nature, terrorism attracts the disgruntled, the loners, the insane, the bullies, the sadists. It glorifies the evil that would kill innocents. The evil comes in many forms, but it always connects with the roots of Islam.

That is why terrorism strikes in the Mideast. It strikes in Asia. It strikes in Russia. It strikes in France and Belgium and the United States.

The solution to get rid of the infestation of terrorism is not to bomb random buildings in Syria. The solution is not to send drones against suspected terrorists in Pakistan. The solution is not to ban guns or even trucks. The solution is not to just live with terrorism.

The solution to defeating terrorism is to defeat the ideology that promotes it.

Admittedly, destroying bad ideas is difficult, made more so when most people in the world are kept in ignorance through the deceit and lies of those who hold power. The world suffers under the burden of those who preach ignorance.

To paraphrase: "Beware ignorance for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased."

Evil ideals can only be fought by utterly destroying them. Sometimes that means going to war. More often, it means that good people must unite to stand up for the truth, to stand up for the right, to stand up for the good. It takes courage to stand up for what is right.

And perhaps that is the real danger of ignorance; it destroys courage and the will to stand against evil.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Hunting Bark Scorpions: A Completely Non-Political Post

Living in the Arizona desert, I get used to the fact that nearly every plant and every bug has some kind of spike, bite, or stinger.

The worst of the lot, in my view, is the bark scorpion. They are arachnids indigenous to Arizona and New Mexico. They especially thrive in the Sonoran Desert, where there is sufficient water. (Yes, even scorpions need water. At the very least, they need juicy bugs that need water.)

Bark scorpion stings are quite painful. I've been stung a couple of times. Other than the throbbing pain, I don't seem to suffer any ill effects. Some folks (like my across-the-street neighbor) can have an allergic reaction which can cause breathing problems, dizziness, a racing heart, and painful stiffening of the joints.

These critters love the cinder block wall surrounding my back yard. (They thrive on the random bugs and the plentiful water.) They are nocturnal predators. During the day, they hide just about anywhere they can find to get out of the hot Arizona sun. Mostly, they crawl into the cinder block fence and sit around (either playing pinochle, or more probably planning my demise) until the sun goes down.

Bark scorpions are highly resistant to chemical pesticides, so are difficult to control. Some folks have success spreading diatomaceous earth around the base of their walls and fences.

The only thing I've found to keep the scorpions at bay is to hunt them down at night using a black light. Bark scorpions fluoresce under a black light, glowing a brilliant green. Seriously. Usually they are incredibly difficult to detect, being masters of camouflage and with the ability to flatten themselves into the tightest spaces. (Hence, they can easily crawl under the seals at the bottom of the door.) Under the beam of a black light, they glow from dozens of feet away.

I go out scorpion hunting several nights a week during the summer. I take along my trusty "Slipper of Mighty Slaying" (an old rubber-soled slipper repurposed as a champion scorpion squisher). I also take along a putty knife, dedicated to the task of cutting scorpions to bits when they crawl into tight cracks or crevices.

I find scorpion hunting oddly relaxing. I can take out my testosterone-induced aggression against a foe that would otherwise sneak into my bed and sting me, or at least eat crackers. (Scorpions have no sense of honor.) It's far better to keep the predators at bay, far away from the edges of my home.

If you come out to visit, be sure to join me in the hunt. It's an inexpensive but satisfying hobby.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Aim of Progressivism

Modern progressivism in the US is a divisive ideology. It seeks to divide the country into groups to keep them at war with each other: blacks against whites, men against women, straights against gays. Its philosophy is inherently founded on intolerance and its ability to switch off the rational mind to accept the irrational.

I am reminded of the following quote, written in 1925, by an obscure artist turned politician:

Leadership itself requires not only will but also ability, and a greater importance must be attached to will and energy than to intelligence as such, and most valuable of all is a combination of ability, determination, and perseverance. The future of a movement is conditioned by the fanaticism yes, the intolerance, with which its adherents uphold it as the sole correct movement, and push it past other formations of a similar sort.

While progressives keep demanding that their goals are tolerance and equality, their protests, their press conferences, their rhetoric, their lawlessness, and their fanaticism, all point to an ideal contrary to its stated goals. They hide their intent behind a fa├žade of lies and deceit.

I'm not saying that progressivism is fascist. (In fact, it is socialist.) I am saying that we should be wary of any movement that stifles freedom of religion, free speech, and the right to bear arms. I am saying that progressivism promotes its will, attempting to switch off the rational mind, in order to promote intolerance and rage.

Our country cannot long survive those who destroy liberty in order to promote equality.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Modern Students: A Quote from Allan Bloom

As the spring semester comes to a close and I finish grading the myriad final projects for my class, I am reminded of a quote from the late Allan Bloom. This comes from his outstanding book The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students.

Today’s select students know so much less, are so much more cut off from the tradition, are so much slacker intellectually, that they make their predecessors look like prodigies of culture. The soil is ever thinner, and I doubt whether it can now sustain the taller growths.
Written in 1987, the commentary is even sadder today than it was nearly 30 years ago.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Why Does the Left Hate the Police?

With the recent tragic events in Dallas, the anti-police left have now had a taste of just how harmful their anti-police rhetoric has become. They don't recognize that as the source of the murder of five police officers, with six more injured. (Of course, to them, guns are to blame.) (Either that, or the Dallas police deserved what they got.)

The anti-police rhetoric pervades the media. President Obama spreads it. The attorney general spreads it. The leftist media spread it.

It's no wonder that some deluded git would believe it and open fire on the police.

The media now harp on gun control and the racial divide in the country. Progressives pretend to be outraged, then push for gun control. Republicans pretend to be outraged, then push to blame Democrats. Conservatives shake their heads, point to the rhetoric, and say, "What did you expect would happen?"

Few are asking the important questions:

  1. Why do progressives blame whites for everything?
  2. Why do progressives build up racial tension in the US?
  3. Why do progressives hate the police?

By answering the first question, we can get an answer to the other two. So why do progressives blame whites for everything?

The answer to this question stems from the basic progressive dogma that the United States was founded on the back of slavery, oppression, and white-male dominance. Ignoring the incredible advances in thought, equality, politics, science, and technology brought about by Western civilization, the Renaissance, classical liberalism, and the founding of the United States, progressives believe the unprovable doctrine that such advances could only have been made through the oppression of others.

Besides being silly, this concept is dangerous because it denies the very foundation of progressivism. In other words, progressives denigrate the very system that created them. They denounce the very philosophies that allow them the freedom to exist and to think as they do.

Then, turning against their own foundation, they praise and adopt philosophies that stem from those who hated classical liberalism and the free market - Marx, Rousseau, Engels, Owens, Lenin, Trotsky, Mao.

Where does racial conflict come in to all of this? In the US during the 1950s, the ideals of democracy and equality finally caught up with a majority of the population, enough to start the Civil Rights movement to incorporate blacks into the American ideals of equal protection. During the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement moved into full swing, and Republicans in Congress changed the laws to create a more just system.

During the 1970s, the same forces created the Women's Rights Movement, which succeeded in requiring women to compete in the work force.

During the late 60s and early 70s, the Democrat Party, realizing that it had been left politically behind, changed from being the worker's party, to the progressive party.

By 2000, most of the gains of the 60s and 70s had been realized, but the US now had a new crop of progressive politicians and school administrators who had successfully infiltrated and redesigned education in the US to promote their ideals of class warfare, racial warfare, and multiculturalism.

With no targets to foment the socialist imperative of class warfare and polarization, progressives tried (and succeeded) in redefining the Civil Rights Movement to include homosexuals. While that issue was indeed polarizing, the Gay Rights Movement forced the courts to accept same sex marriage, and the fight became essentially moot.

Yet, progressives desperately need polarization in order to thrive. Class warfare is at the core of the revolution. When there are no real classes, when the Civil Rights Movement essentially won, progressives turned their attention back to the Great Racial Divide.

Whites were blamed for all inequality and poverty and oppression.

Which leads us to question three: Why do progressives hate the police.

Hating the police is a throwback from the 1960s, where the police forces came to represent "The Man," namely those in power who could only oppress others. Yet, there is something more going on in 2016 than blaming the police for being "The Man."

The next step in progressive logic is to force its ideology, its very thoughts, onto an unwilling population. While progressives have made great strides in bamboozling the masses that progressivism, and Obama are the salvation of humankind, there will always be a segment of the population who are not bamboozled, who are not ignorant, and who see through the lies and deceit of the progressive agenda.

What better way to destabilize the country, to bring "errant" conservatives into line, than to erode the institutions that protect individuals from harm?

The police forces consist of private citizens, are local, and cannot easily be controlled by a strong federal government intent on making fundamental changes to how the US operates.

Years ago, when I was in grade school, a police officer visited our class to talk about being a police officer. (I think it was career week.) He said something I've never forgotten, and which I maintain is true.

He said, "The police are the people who stand in the way of tyranny. Think about it. If there were not a private and separate police force, the government would have to use the military in order to enforce the law. Governments which have direct police powers always abuse those powers."

And that is the answer to our question. Progressives want to erode our police system because, at the heart of their ideology, is the belief that they should use the full force of the government to enforce the progressive ideology of social justice. Along with eroding the police forces of the US, progressives have promoted paramilitary forces in the NSA.

Yet, if progressives succeed in breaking the police forces, will there indeed be social justice, or will that all crumble to dust, along with everyone's protections of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Hillary Clearly Breaks The Law But Didn't Intend To?

With the FBI wiping its hands clean of Hillary's felonies, one major irregularity struck me about Director Comey's statement. Take a look:
Although we did not find clear evidence that secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information. (Emphasis added.)
What is the problem with this statement? (The reader may pause the page here to think on this problem before moving ahead to the answer.)

The problem is that Comey declined to recommend an indictment based on Hillary's intent to violate the law.

This is a dangerous precedent to set before the criminal justice system. Basically, Hillary was let off the hook because, as Comey put it, she didn't intend to break the law.

The repercussions of that type of thinking stagger the imagination. The "lack" of intent to commit a crime, even when the actions are criminal, allow Comey to excuse Hillary from the demands of justice.

Taking that idea to its (il)logical conclusion destroys the foundation of the legal system. It goes way beyond the accidental breaking of the law (such as accidentally shooting someone without intending to).

Yet, if I take out a gun, load it, haul it out in a crowded area, pull the trigger, then kill someone, I can and should be charged with a felony whether or not I intended to kill someone or not.

Hillary lives by a different standard than us mere mortals. She can blatantly ignore the law, then be cleared because of her intent.

Justice is no longer blind. It winks an eye at the corrupt and the elite.

Monday, July 4, 2016

How About this Independence Day We Celebrate by Opposing Government Tyranny?

How will you be celebrating Independence Day?

Signing of the Declaration of Independence

Washington Crossing the Delaware

Fife and Drum

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis