Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Well, that’s news to me.

July 13, 2016

President Barack Obama:

“It’s easier for a teenager to get his hands on a Glock than a computer…or even a book!”

Really? Because I remember when I bought my last computer off the Internet:

• I did have it shipped to the Apple Store, but I could have had it shipped straight to my home had I not been concerned about theft. I didn’t have to have it shipped to a Federal Computer License holder, because of course that is not a thing.

• I did not have to be at least 21 to order it. If I remember correctly, the minimum age to order was 18, but that was a matter of Apple policy — not a matter of federal law.

• I did not have to fill out a Bureau of Computers, Tablets, and Smartphones Form 4473 at the Apple Store when I picked up that computer, because just like the Federal Computer License holder, the  Bureau of Computers, Tablets, and Smartphones is not a thing, nor is the Form 4473 for it.

Beyond all that, of course, unlike with gun stores, more “progressive” municipalities aren’t trying to drive the electronics stores out of town under the twisted guise of “social justice,” they’re not proposing to tax electronics or peripherals…

I could certainly go on, but such would be belaboring the point.

Random political musings, 18.6.16

June 18, 2016

Kermit1A2A

===

Rosanne Cash, in Billboard:

We can…prevent the sale and possession of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Prevent the possession. So, in other words, “Mr. and Mrs. America, come and get them.”

Of course, it’s not like Rosanne Cash is going to be leading those SWAT confiscation raids. She’ll be perfectly content to send other people’s sons and daughters (and mothers and fathers) to do it for her. Which makes her “for the children” mewling ever so hollow and hypocritical.

But then, on the other hand, let her and those like her talk like this, and let us all bring as much attention to it as we can, because it exposes the anti-gunners’ assurance that “no one wants to take your guns” as the foul and malicious lie that it has always been.

Sunday morning commentary: Orlando.

June 12, 2016

I hear there are people saying on the wake of this morning’s Orlando shootings, “More gun control! How many more have to die?”

Well, that’s a perfectly legitimate question, but for the fact that it presupposes yet more laws are going to stop this sort of thing. Registration, licensing, and all that.

Yeah, no.

Even if we ignore the historical fact of registration leading to confiscation EACH AND EVERY SINGLE TIME, there is the fact that these laws face massive noncompliance right here in the United States. According to the New York Daily News, hardly a bastion of pro-gun sentiment, fewer than 44,000 semiautomatic rifles were registered with the state after the SAFE Act introduced such a requirement into law after the Sandy Hook shootings. Not only that, but several New York county sheriffs have gone on record as saying they won’t help enforce the laws in the SAFE legislation. And New York is one of the bluest states in the country. The same played out in another blue state, Colorado, after that state’s passing laws outlawing normal-capacity magazines, according to a report from the CBS affiliate in Denver. Also, in Connecticut itself, according to the Hartford Courant, some 50,000 semiautomatic rifles were registered after Sandy Hook, but with as many as 350,000 semi auto rifles in civilian hands in Connecticut…well, there you go.

How do they think such is going to play out in Alabama, or Oklahoma, or Texas?

And how are these laws not going to stop such?

Well, in case you forgot, even if we stopped making and selling new ones, the guns are already out there. A whole fucking lot of them. While it’s hard to nail down an exact number, there are probably enough semiautomatic rifles in American civilian hands and ammunition to feed them to outfit the armies of several small countries. And that number has only increased in recent years as after every shooting just like the one in Orlando, control freaks like Hillary Clinton never fail to rush to the mikes and scream to the rooftops for more laws punishing the people who didn’t shoot anyone.

So the guns are already out there, and there are more going out the doors of gun shops in this fair land every single day. Are you going to go door-to-door, or rather, send other people’s sons and daughters to go door-to-door? (Because let’s be frank, very few if any of the people actually screaming for more gun control are actually going to put their own skin in the game here.) If that’s what you’re suggesting, perhaps you should google “4th generation warfare” sometime, or perhaps give Mike Vanderboegh’s essay “Kill All They Send” a read:

“And it would be a WAR, make no mistake, not the sanitary “police action”…. And how would the big bad boys of the ATF and FBI fare against committed freedom fighters? Even well-paid federal police bureaucrats just want to live until retirement. How long do you think they would last when team after team of them are shot down like dogs in the street, garroted in their sleep, poisoned in their mess halls, or found with their throats slit in guardposts, restrooms and bordellos?”

And even if we did manage to pull it off, in the complete vacuum of moral issues, logistics and all that…there’s still the matter of that porous southern border. I think it’s probably safe to say that narcotics aren’t the only thing coming across them. If you know what I mean. And I think you do.

In short: the guns are here. And they are not going away, no matter how you might wish they would. So what now?

15 bucks an hour or bust!

May 12, 2016

amirite?

Wendy’s (WEN) said that self-service ordering kiosks will be made available across its 6,000-plus restaurants in the second half of the year as minimum wage hikes and a tight labor market push up wages.

It will be up to franchisees whether to deploy the labor-saving technology, but Wendy’s President Todd Penegor did note that some franchise locations have been raising prices to offset wage hikes.

Now, this led to a really interesting Facebook discussion. Me in plain text, my friend in italics:

But if the wage really isn’t liveable to begin with, does it matter if it is $9 or $0?

A perfectly legitimate question, but just the same, you (generally speaking, not you in particular) still have to look at it from the employer’s perspective. I am sure you already do, but whether he cannot get workers at $9 per hour or cannot afford them at $15, the results are the same.

And from the perspective of the employee, would it really be that presumptuous of me to suggest they better their situation by acquiring more marketable skills, or honing or taking better advantage of the skills they already have?

But what about the long-term view that employers are missing. If they keep finding ways to not pay people because they are too focused on the short-term bump that comes with downsizing, automation and off-shore outsourcing, all they are doing is shooting themselves in the foot. Because eventually, all they are doing is raising unemployment and then there will be no one to buy their products. It is in the interest of them to actually keep people in their communities hired and working.

The thing is, though, that this affects certain industries more than others, so I don’t think that what you’re saying is necessarily going to be the case. That unemployment is going to affect those industries more. To illustrate, even if it got to the point that my friendly local Whataburger was entirely automated, I would still have my own job helping the more affluent among us troubleshoot their high-dollar smartphones, tablets, and computers. As for how the affluent got that way…well, they might have started at Whataburger, but they worked their way up the wage ladder gaining those more lucrative skills. It’s complicated, I know. So complicated that I just think it’s a bit simplistic to think a government-mandated minimum wage is going to make poverty disappear in this country.

It’s not. But considering a lot of government trade practices have enabled an environment where it makes financial sense to move entire factories off shore and otherwise outsource instead of hire in-house, leaving towns devasted and people scrambling for anything they can get, then there needs to be some kind of banalce. And a blanket $15 isn’t the answer because it is not necessary in areas where the cost of living is significantly less. But there will always be a need for these types of jobs and there will always be people who, by choice or other determining factor are unable to take advantage of certain higher educational opportunities and training. Should they be denied the ability to have some kind of basic quality of life that goes beyond the struggles of living paycheck to paycheck?

Now, that’s a tricky question. Such seems to imply that they have the right to such basic quality of life. And if you have a right to something like that, such necessarily implies that someone else has the obligation to provide you the means for it. I remember Senator Rand Paul riled up quite a few progressives a while back when he compared such to slavery:

“With regard to the idea of whether you have a right to health care, you have realize what that implies. It’s not an abstraction. I’m a physician. That means you have a right to come to my house and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery.”

It might sound extreme, but I do see what he was getting at.

But you know what? I AM a small-L libertarian, but I am also a pragmatist. I realize that there’s going to be only so little that people can live on and that taxes are always going to be a thing to some extent. To that end, if the government came along and told businesses, “you pay X amount of money to your employees and we give you X amount of tax credits” to the point that the businesses came out at least a bit ahead, I might not have a big problem with that. Would that be ideal? No, but it would certainly be far preferable to the government saying, as it does now, “you pay X amount of money to your people or we send men with guns to your door, and we’re not going to help you meet that mandate, you’re just gonna have to suck it up.”

And sure, maybe Yelp should be paying more in San Francisco, but I think even that line of argument obscures a critical fact — that some, nay, MANY jobs are not meant to be and should not be construed to be jobs to raise families on.

Agreed on that point, but how much of that is the direct result of corporate downsizing, outsourcing and other not-so-employee-friendly corporate strategies that are forcing people to look at these jobs not as something to merely help fill in the blanks but as things necessary to sustain life?

That’s a good question. I will say that some companies are particularly disingenuous about this. Walmart will still sell itself as a career, but I can tell you from firsthand experience that’s been a load of crap for at least a few years. Part-time positions only, barely above minimum wage, with little to no hope of advancing to a full-time position. I worked there when I first came to San Antonio and lived by the skin of my teeth for about 15 months till I found better.

I know that drill. At least a place like McDonalds if you put your effort in will train you and give you marketable skills. My four years there in HS/college gave me an early boost to my resume. And their management training program can actually earn you masters degree credits. I can’t speak for the rest of the fast food world, but there can be career opportunity for those that want it.

Thoughts?

Wow, such naive faith in humanity.

February 24, 2016

Froma Harrop, on the U.S. government attempting to force Apple to hack the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone:

…the decrypting could be done on Apple property by Apple people — and the tool kept in Apple’s famously secure vault.

Yeah, sure. That’s exactly how it’s going to work. What’s the old saying? Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead?

Beyond that, as has been pointed out before, if the federal government wins this, the implications of such are quite staggering, especially if the compromised iOS (and let’s be frank, that’s exactly what this is) finds its way out into the wild. Even if it doesn’t, information security on Apple’s iOS devices will effectively cease to exist. Even if the feds let this tool stay securely in Apple’s possession, even if by some miracle of nature the backdoor to iOS was never found by bad actors, there’s still the matter of the NSA and its massive surveillance of real-time communications to deal with, and the concomitant potential of wholesale Fourth Amendment violations. If you’ll remember, that was what got the whole encryption ball rolling to start with. Harrop might well say that “the job of setting national security priorities has not been outsourced to Silicon Valley boardrooms” and that “(it) is a matter for our federal government,”but as I have said before, if the feds weren’t so gung-ho on spying on everyone in the first place, Apple might well not have been so gung-ho on making near-unbreakable encryption as a response to it.

And Harrop shows her cavalier attitude to privacy yet again:

U.S. tech companies and civil libertarians are supporting Apple’s stance. Nuala O’Connor of the Center for Democracy and Technology expressed some of the fears. Cellphones “have become effectively a part of our bodies,” she wrote. Hers has contacts, medical records, kids’ report cards, pictures and so forth. All the more reason not to carry all that around in one’s handbag, we might say.

So how far does one go with that line of reasoning? What of our possessions gets to have a reasonable expectation of security? And even that’s giving Harrop’s stupid analogy more credit than it deserves. The proper analogy would be having a locked handbag and anyone being able to get into that handbag, which defeats the purpose of having a lock. If one’s going to take Harrop’s approach to this, what the hell is the point of the Fourth Amendment in the first place? Are we really supposed to just place blind faith in the government to do the right thing?

Apparently Froma Harrop’s answer is, “Yes, we should.”

I see he has learned nothing.

January 29, 2016

David Petzal, of Field & Stream:

Range Day is the Monday prior to the Show’s opening when manufacturers demonstrate their wares. People like me are bussed out to handle the goodies. This year, Range Day sounded like the Battle of Dak To, or perhaps Fallujah, with the distinctive pop-pop-pop of full-auto fire, which was extremely popular amongst all the SEAL wannabes. Indeed, this was symbolic of the whole show, which has now become so heavily militarized that you have to look fairly hard for something designed to kill animals instead of people.

Wow. I mean, what do you say to that? Well, that is, other than everything that was said after Jim Zumbo lost his gig at Outdoor Life, or everything that was said after Dick Metcalf lost his gig at Shooting Times.

…but it deserves to be noted that somehow, David Petzal still has his platform to sell out and demonize everyone whose firearm of choice looks different than his. That speaks volumes about the readership of Field & Stream, and absolutely none of it is good, especially considering this is far from the first time Petzal has done such.

If you needed another reason to vote for Ted Cruz…

December 21, 2015

here you go:

On MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” Tuesday, the veteran anchor sat down with former Senate majority leader and 1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole to talk, ostensibly, about the current state of his party and the rise of Donald Trump. But the Kansas Republican had something else on his mind. And that something else was how much he dislikes Texas Sen. Ted Cruz….

Dole doesn’t like people — especially Republicans — poking fun at his 1996 loss at the hands of Bill Clinton.

Yeah, well, I’m sure a lot of Republicans don’t like milquetoast also-rans from 20 years ago bashing the candidates that are running now, but them’s the breaks. Bill Clinton had three strikes against him — HillaryCare, the massively unpopular assault weapons ban that  the Democrats lost both houses of Congress over, and his reneging on his campaign promise of tax cuts — and Bob Dole STILL couldn’t beat him. And, of course, Dole endorsed John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. Losers, one and all.

Harsh? Sure it is. But that’s just the way it is. I respect and applaud Bob Dole’s service as a member of the Greatest Generation, but his go-along-to-get-along mentality as a politician is exactly what’s gotten the country in the shape it’s in. Whether Ted Cruz will be the one to change things is debatable, but here’s something that isn’t: The Republican establishment has run their so-called “sensible, pragmatic moderates” for two elections in a row and they have lost both times. They had the same results with Dole back in 1996. Had it not been for the 2000 Florida debacle, we may well have had ourselves a President Al Gore, and it was most likely George W. Bush’s popularity as a wartime president that swung the election for him in 2004.

So with all of that in mind, why, exactly, should anyone care about what Bob Dole thinks?

Also, quite possibly a literal civil war.

December 5, 2015

From Reason Magazine, via Facebook:

New York Times Calls for Immense Expense and Political Civil War To Maybe Possibly Hopefully Reduce Gun Violence by a Tiny Amount

…when they get to concrete (sort of) proposals after expressing their dismay with murders and tools that can be used to murder, they declare that “Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, must be outlawed for civilian ownership. It is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way and, yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens.”

Fascinating. It’s not quite “WE WANT TO TAKE YOUR GUNS,” but it’s likely as close as we’ll get from a mainstream media outlet.

Left unsaid, of course, is exactly how they propose this sort of thing is to be enforced. As I have put it elsewhere, this is a very important thing to ponder, because there are a lot of people out there with guns (AND ammunition for them) who are not going to give them up just because government deems it necessary for the greater good. As has also been pointed out elsewhere, in the months running up to the Clinton “Assault Weapons Ban,” more SKS and AK/AR-type rifles were purchased than had been purchased in the preceding 20 years. And we saw more of this type of thing after Virginia Tech, before and after the 2008 election, after Sandy Hook, after Isla Vista, and even on Black Friday this year. Are the people buying these guns doing so to so easily turn them in later? If not, just how far are they willing to go to keep them? Do we really want to find that out?

A couple of questions…

October 31, 2015

…for O. Ricardo Pimentel:

Let’s just say you got the ban on selling everything but hunting guns that you agitate for. And let’s just say that banning them did nothing to reduce crime (just as the last “assault weapons” ban did), and no one took advantage of your mythical buy-back program. And let’s just say that Congress AND the President of the United States, in some alternate universe, authorized and mandated door-to-door gun confiscation and that such passed constitutional muster as per the United States Supreme Court.

Would you sign up for one of those confiscation teams? You know, put your own skin in the game? Or send your son and/or daughter to do it? Or would you send other people’s sons and daughters to do it, as you sit in your air-conditioned office and exult our collective ostensible reason and wisdom while they get massacred? Because whether you want to admit or not, that’s what all these policies you advocate are going to come down to.

Assuming, again, that we lived in said alternate universe (and thank God that we do not).

Friday political musings, 30.1.15

January 30, 2015

The San Antonio Express-News editorial board proves yet again just how fundamentally unserious they are:

The reluctance of the San Antonio City Council to get behind an active awareness campaign on sodas and other sugary drinks has always been baffling.

Baffling? Really? It’s not exactly a state secret that sugary drinks are bad for you. It seems like there’s something in the news every day about it. Launching a public awareness campaign about that would be like launching a public awareness campaign to educate people about the wetness of water.

And no, there’s no “bugaboo of personal responsibility” here. It’s just a waste of money, period, probably even more so than the streetcars or politically motivated street name changes.

===

From the letters to the editor:

Oh wow, how comforting to know that Texas is still in the grip of the conservatives, or even more accurately, the tea party of Dan and Greg. They didn’t get the mandate they love to yap about, since only about a third of eligible voters bothered to vote.

You know, at this point, whatever helps people like this sleep at night. Looking back, it seems to me that pretty much everyone was excited about Wendy Davis running for governor except the people who actually determined whether or not she’d be governor. Maybe if the Democrats offered up a credible candidate for governor as opposed to just pulling a publicity stunt more people would’ve bothered to get out to vote. The Republicans didn’t sucker the Democrats into doing anything. They nominated Wendy Davis completely of their own accord.