Various Current Items

Haven’t posted much lately, so here’s some catch-up.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 — For the past four weeks the disappearance of the Malaysian Boeing 777 has been a mystery – and a media frenzy led by CNN. This morning another “most promising lead” has been announced. I lost count after a half dozen of these. So far, however, the hypotheses consistent with the known facts include space alien abduction and entry into a space-time wormhole to emerge some time in the future. I have tried to apply Occam’s Razor, but there are too many inconsistencies.

Obamacare Rollout — Or stumblefest. Usually, when a sea-change measure like the ACA passes, it signifies that the debate is over. I recall the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. It’s passage showed that legal and institutional racial segregation in the United States was unacceptable to huge majority of Americans, even most in the South. Fierce politics, rhetoric, and even violence led up to that Act’s passage, but afterward only a recalcitrant and marginalized minority resisted. (This is not to say that racism went away. That concept as been a cultural construct for millennia. It will not go away easily, especially for so long as the government insists on classifying persons by race.) Obamacare is different. It is a Rube Goldberg–Gyro Gearloose contraption made by sausage makers, with the bakers and candlestick makers lending their own ingredients. Which is why it came out half-baked, and waxes stumblingly.
Climate Change — The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change this past week released another the-sky-is-falling report that mostly went ignored, except on NPR. Don’t get me wrong, I listen to NPR and believe it provides a fine product most of the time. Its bias is clear, however, and I take that into consideration. Assuming that global warming is occurring, which it may well be, I see several points to consider. (1) To the extent it is caused by human industry, most of the alleged greenhouse gases are produced by developing nations such as China and India. Good luck on convincing them to curtail their economic development, especially if we do not curtail ours. And we won’t. (2) Enforcing standards sufficiently strong to reduce greenhouse gas production would require a worldwide totalitarian government. Not going to happen without bloody, perhaps nuclear, wars. Where will that leave us? (3) Adapting to our environment is what human do best. Historian Walter Prescott Webb wrote about the adaptive changes made the Western world wide dominance possible in his The Great Plains and The Great Frontier. Those book are well worth a read. There are vast, sparsely inhabited regions in the Northern Hemisphere that general warming could make more habitable, and might be developed. (4) Climate changes has happened before. A general warming trend during the early Medieval Period brought about prosperity in Europe that was cut short by the onset of the Little Ice Age beginning in the 14th Century. The world climate began to warm up again in the 18th Century, and look what came after!

Campaign Finance — More hand wringing, similar to that spawned by the Citizens United case, over the Supreme Court’s declaring overall limits on campaign contributions a First Amendment violation. The left fears its beets noises, the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, and the rest, are now free to buy as many elected officials as they want. Of course, if that were true it also would apply to the left wing’s favorite sugar daddy George Soros, as well as others. It is a fact that massive amounts of money is necessary to get one’s message across in our huge and diverse society. That doesn’t mean those who hear it will agree and vote accordingly.

Fort Hood Shooting — A news story headline today quoted an official saying that “we may never know why” the shooter shot. Yes we do. He was insane. Or to put it more clinically, if not politically, correct, mentally ill. It is worth noting that the rampage perpetrated by the bad guy, like that of Nidal Hasan, was stopped by a good guy with a gun. The military police officer, perhaps fortunately for her, didn’t have to kill the shooter; when she confronted him, he had the decency to kill himself, thus saving us another four plus year circus. What was unfortunate was there were many other good guys around, many highly trained in the safe and effective use of firearms. They were unarmed because of the military’s prohibition against carrying personal arms on base. That prohibition, of course did not deter the shooter. It’s a fact that a small percentage of human beings are insane. A minuscule number will violently act out their fantasies. It is impossible to predict who will. A totalitarian, or even authoritarian, government could lock up anyone who looks or acts weird, but that would be under-inclusive as well as over-inclusive. Such a regime could define opposition as mental illness. Better the prospect of a madman causing havoc than surrendering personal freedom, or did I get Patrick Henry’s give me liberty or give me death thing wrong?

 

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