Saturday, November 28, 2015

And from Russia...

Here's a bleak assessment by one of the few remaining Yabloko members in public office. Putin has failed in Ukraine and is kicking out the refugees he encouraged to flee Ukraine. Everyone is unhappy, poverty and authoritarianism prevail. In other words, the situation in Russia is normal.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Democrats vs. Liberty

Here's one for you: according to Pew Research, more than one third of Democrats favor censorship.  The problem is particularly pronounced among young people (and it is a very serious problem, by the way), where 40% support censorship.  It's a reasonable bet t
hat they are overwhelmingly of the left.

It's important to understand the constituency of the leftwing political class.  Those answering yes to the survey agreed that if some "minority" deems an idea offensive, the government should be able to block it.  Given that anything said by a white person, a conservative, or a libertarian will offend someone of today's left, and given that anyone can claim minority status and get away with it (excepting Rachel Dolezal, of course), this position is simply carte blanche for the left to censor all discussion, theorizing, and inquiry that it finds politically inconvenient.

The First Amendment currently prevents the silencing of the American citizen, just as the Second Amendment currently prevents the disarming of the American citizen.  No doubt both free speech and freedom to own the means of self-defense will shortly come under another assault by Barack Obama and members of his party, given today's shootings at Planned Parenthood in Colorado.  I expect that establishment Republicans will join in (at least those not running for president).  It will not be libertarians or conservatives who will attack liberty.  Let this be a lesson to us.

Barack Obama engages in "by far the most aggressive assault" on transparency

From NYT:

“'This is by far the most aggressive assault on the inspector general concept since the beginning,' said Paul Light, a New York University professor who has studied the system. 'It’s the complete evisceration of the concept. You might as well fold them down. They’ve become defanged.'”

It's far worse than anything done by George W. Bush, according to Senator Patrick Leahy (D, VT): "The Obama administration’s stance has 'blocked what was once a free flow of information' to the watchdogs, Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said at a hearing."

Coverups include possible murders by DEA agents, shooting down of aircraft by DEA, DoJ's "Fast and Furious" operation to ship guns to Mexican drug cartels in order to discredit the Second Amendment, rapes committed by Peace Corps volunteers, as well as malfeasance by EPA, Commerce Department, and the U.S. Postal Service.

Read the article, and then note my prediction: this ongoing scandal will receive no further attention from the mainstream media, which works as a branch of the Democrat Party, nor from the Republican establishment, which has no interest in checking the burgeoning power of the federal government.  And further, Obama's fans among the general public will take no notice, and attempts to explain these matters to them, accompanied by evidence, will almost always be rejected.  I will put my own prediction to the test over Christmas break, as I have a number of friends who remain Obama loyalists.  Expect a report at some point.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015: Why I am thankful

I liked last year's Thanksgiving post so much I am doing a 2015 version.  I am thankful because:

1. We remain free, and fighting.  There are even a number of positive developments for those of us interested in liberty.  At least three or four presidential candidates seem as though they would actually reverse the course of the ever-expanding federal monster for a change (Cruz, Paul, Fiorina, possibly Carson... maybe even Rubio or Trump, although I am extremely suspicious of them), and they are handily beating the political establishment favorites.  Also, the Convention of States Movement is gathering steam.  This strikes me as the most likely way we could actually get the federal government restricted to its proper, minimalist role.  And if polls are to be believed, the American people seem, by and large, utterly opposed to the crap the Democrats are trying to force down our throats -- gun control, Obamacare, & "Syrian" refugees galore, to name a few.

2. I have Julie, Chaos, a large number of friends and students and colleagues for whom I'm thankful.  Adam Smith argued that our greatest sources of pleasure are good relations with good people.  I have these.

3. Life is fun.  That's important.  For some specifics, read on.

As usual, we began the day with a hard series of workouts.  After my usual stretching warmup, I ran 2 miles at ultramarathon pace (slow) followed by 4 x 0.25 miles (400 m.) a good bit faster than my current 5K pace.  That's a hard workout by itself.  Julie and Chaos also ran, but only did the 2 miles.

Following this we went in and made dressing for the turkey.  I always do this from scratch, following the method taught me by my mother.  It's far better than anything from a box and a lot more fun.  We then stuffed the turkey, popped it into the oven, and headed out for round two (after phone conversations with my good friends in D.C., Gene and Karin, with whom I've spent a number of happy Thanksgivings, both in the U.S. and Ukraine, and with Sterling B. in Texas -- Sterling spent a very memorable Thanksgiving with me and my entire family in Montana some years back).

Round two consisted of a complex of deadlifts, pushups, and box jumps, followed by kettlebell squats, pullups, and leg raises.  I then topped this off with 100 sledge hammer blows (50 right handed and 50 left), a few kettlebell presses, and another dozen pullups.  (Totals: 54 deadlifts of 135lb , 72 gap pushups, 81 box jumps, 50 squats with 1 pood kettlebell, 62 dead hang pullups, and 130 leg raises.)  Julie did a different workout, emphasizing kettlebell swings with 1, 1.25, 1.5, and 2 pood bells, for about 200 swings and 3 tons of weight.  By the time dinner was ready, we both were well into calorie deficit for the day.  I am pretty sure I will be sore in numerous places tomorrow, but since I only ate once today, I won't be fatter!

This tire needs to be whacked...

Calorie deficit

Thanksgiving meal

Chaos, prepare for turkey

Appetite courtesy of kettlebell

Genuine whipped cream -- the ONLY thing to put on your pie!

Happy Thanksgiving!

From "all of us" at Unforeseen Contingencies.

Thanksgiving is an American national holiday.  The purpose is, in the words of George Washington, "that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us."

It's an American holiday (there are similar holidays elsewhere, but each is an independent holiday with a different origin and history) but everyone everywhere who loves reason and liberty should join in.  We have much for which to be thankful.  And we will have much more.

(Read the entirety of George Washington's proclamation of Thanksgiving here.)

Democrat National Committee supports radical Islam

What other conclusion could be drawn from this?  They can't be much clearer.  Some comments...

First, every Republican seen in the video takes pains to specify that it is radical Islam that threatens us.  No one comes close to suggesting that all Muslims are terrorists.  That's obvious.  The DNC is simply lying when they claim these Republicans are saying all Muslims are terrorists.  DNC knows this (it's obvious, after all) and is willing to lie as part of a smear campaign... SOP for the left.

Second, radical Islam is much more than just terrorism.  Obviously most Muslims are not terrorists (that would be one billion plus terrorists!) but apparently less obvious to some, most radical Islamists are not terrorists.  Terror is a tactic or a method, and I suspect most Islamists think it is a poor one, perhaps even an immoral one.  There are plenty of other way to try to spread sharia and to bring non-Muslims under Muslim political control, as some Muslim Brotherhood operatives are aware.  Blasphemy laws, death penalty for homosexuality, death penalty for adultery, jizya and forced "conversion," ... there is no place for any of this in a free society, which means there's no place for sharia and no place for a literal interpretation of the Koran.

Third, DNC posted this less than one week after the massacres in Beirut, Paris, and Bamako.  This is what DNC is worried about, "islamophobia."  The Democrat Party leadership: bad people.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Go get 'em!

French aircraft taking off to bomb Daesh (a.k.a. ISIS), shortly after the attacks in Paris.

I think this is beautiful, not just from an aesthetic standpoint, but also from a moral one.  These jets taking off in the dark of night are beautiful.  But in addition, it is a good thing to be intolerant of evil.  It is an evil set of ideas that motivates Daesh, evil that is so great and so destructive it must be hunted out of existence.  If that means killing every last one of their adherents, so be it.

Status report: Ugh!

I had hoped to get a number of posts up by now, but have had far too many other things going on.  This November has proven to be one of the busiest months I've had in a while.  I finally have a short breathing spell, mostly because today I have been out sick.  Nothing serious, I think.  Yesterday I underwent a routine medical procedure, merely part of a checkup, and the entire affair, plus an incipient cold, left me a bit indisposed.  Ugh.

(I suppose I've been a bit cryptic here, but the curious can refer to the footnote.*  I suppose you should read it, because that's where the punch line is buried.  But read the rest of the post first.)

In my previous post I made several predictions.  At times like these, I hate it when I'm right.  First, I predicted that French Muslims would say they felt no outrage over the attacks and no sympathy for the victims.  I was correct, according to BBC.  A few comments from the banlieues: "...don't you think they exaggerate the Paris attacks when there are more Syrians dying everyday?" ... "...France has been asking for it because of its intervention in Syria.  The Paris attacks lasted three hours - but this happens everyday in Syria."

There's schizophrenia for you... she's angry that homicidal maniacs in Syria are butchering people, but she can't feel sympathy when said maniacs also attack France... because France has tried to stop them.  Ugh!

But it's not just French Muslims.  In Turkey, soccer fans booed and shouted praises to Allah when asked to observe a moment of silence in respect for the victims of the Paris attacks.  Ugh!!!

My second prediction was that Daesh's attacks would be defended by leftist students in the U.S.  Reality has one-upped me on that one.  Dan Kimmel, a Democrat running for state legislator in Minnesota, tweeted following the attacks: "ISIS isn’t necessarily evil.  It is made up of people doing what they think is best for their community."  He claims the tweet was in response to the Saturday night Democrat presidential debates, not the Paris attacks.  I suppose we could cut him some slack -- watching that could drive anyone insane.  But no, no slack.  The earlier beheadings, gang rapes, genocides, mass enslavements, bombing of passenger aircraft... these are acts of pure evil.

Please note this carefully.  This is why multiculturalism is so dangerous and so evil.  A progressive, rather mainstream Democrat publicly stated "ISIS isn’t necessarily evil.  It is made up of people doing what they think is best for their community."

No civilized human being could possibly believe this, unless s/he had gone mad.  Multiculturalism is a doctrine of madness, and it drives its exponents into madness.

Mr. Kimmel did subsequently drop out of the race (thank GATU) and apologized, saying his tweet was "poorly worded" and didn't convey his meaning.  No, Mr. Kimmel, it wasn't poorly worded, it was wrong, and betrays both madness and an evil within you.  You apologized for murderers and rapists who intend to kill me, you, your would-be constituents, and anyone else who doesn't submit.  That's both crazy and evil.  UGH!!!

*My medical procedure?  You're sure you really want to know?  OK, it was a colonoscopy that my doctor has been badgering me to get.  This involved 40 hours of fasting, consumption of one gallon of noxious liquid the medicoes refer to as "prep" and various subsequent unpleasantries, the least of which was no sleep, getting an IV stuck into my arm (I must say, though, my nurse did it so smoothly it felt like a gentle touch of her hand), and then getting doped to the gills.  Most of what happened yesterday seemed like a dream, I again slept poorly, and woke up this morning feeling drunk and not quite able to walk correctly and with a cold besides.  Fun.  But the medical report is that I am perfectly fine, colonwise.  They gave me some very interesting pictures of what they saw, but I cannot figure out how to post them.

I will say, though, that everyone I dealt with at the University of Michigan Medical Center struck me as being a first class professional, and despite my grumpy tone I am deeply grateful to them, for this and for previous services, and think that what they do is one of the greatest things humans have ever done: combine science and caring to save and improve lives.  ...the exact opposite of Daesh!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Islam in Paris

I had hoped to blog this evening, but have spent the evening listening to reports from Paris. I don't feel much like writing now. I'm horrified and disgusted, but not at all surprised. The events in Paris are horrific. They will be repeated, and we'll have them here, it's already too late to avert that. But I'm hoping that this terrible attack will wake people up, and we'll begin starting to fight back, before things get much worse... we'll have to do this despite and against our "leaders," but so be it. All the better, in fact. Let this be the end of multiculturalism, political correctness, and Islamophilia.

One other prediction -- after the jihadist attacks in Paris are finished and things settle down, numerous Muslim immigrants in France will say they don't feel any sympathy for the victims nor outrage over the attacks. Similarly, on American college campuses, leftist students will defend the attacks. I'm reminded of something President Al Sisi said... that Muslims should realize they are making themselves a threat and an object of fear for non-Muslims, and that they had better stop. Yes. These attackers, but also their supporters and anyone with sympathy for them, is an enemy of the civilized world. I predict that at some point the world will wake up and deal with them appropriately.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ultras! Le Grizz report

October has been a great running month for me: two ultras in two weeks.  On 10 October I ran the Le Grizz 50 Mile Ultramarathon (Polebridge, MT), and on 24 October the Bad Apple 12 Hour Ultra (Greenville, MI) getting in 48 miles.  In general, I felt good in both races.  And in both races, I was slower than I had hoped.  Here's a quick report on Le Grizz.  My Bad Apple report will follow in a day or two.

This was my fifteenth finish (and start) at Le Grizz.  Starting this year the race is under new management, with Cheetah Herder and race founder Pat Caffrey now serving as RD emeritus.  Julie and I had flown into Kalispell on Thursday before race day and picked up my packet on Friday.  My faithful support crewman and cyclist, Jeff Ross, also showed up that evening, sans Laura this year, as she is recovering from knee surgery and was babysitting with the dogs.  Saturday morning I took the early start, heading out in the dark with other early starters.  Given my training, which included a 20 miler at a sub-10 minute mile pace, and feeling good, I ran through the first twenty miles at a pace that would extrapolate to a 10 hour 40 minute finish.  I was doubtful that I would maintain this pace; what I wondered was how much I would fade.

Jeff cycled with me quite a lot, which made for great conversation opportunities, and he and Julie leapfrogged ahead with the car to keep me fortified with water, Hammer Gel, elk sausage, and other necessities.  Julie ran with me a bit, but couldn't stay with me as I charged up a long hill.  She managed to stay in sight and ended up doing a nice 5K.

I was pushing it.  How much would I fade?  By mile 32 I was starting to find out, having dropped to a predicted finish of 11:30.  But at 32 something happened -- almost like a switch flipping, my legs became stiff and lifeless.  I stretched a bit, which helped, but I really felt myself slowing drastically, slipping into a lot of walking.  At the 35 mile turnaround, my friend and longtime ultrarunner Rich DeSimone caught up with me.  Rich is an experienced 100-miler and paces himself extremely carefully, using a heart rate monitor.  I stuck with Rich for the remainder of the run.

We slow ran and fast hiked for the next 15 miles, talking along the way about everything from comparative culture and cultural change, to running, to economic growth, to running, to poverty, to running, to our experiences with higher education, to running, to game management (Rich is a retired mountain lion expert), to... Anna from Bozeman, running her first ultra, whom we caught a couple of miles before the last aid station at mile 45.  Anna was complaining, in a kind of entertaining fashion, about how much she hurt.  I offered her a couple of vitamin I's (ibuprofen) but she declined.

Rich and I continued on and came into the last station, Anna close behind us.  From somewhere -- from her trusty support crewman, from her pack, from thin air, i'm not sure -- she produced a bottle of whisky.  I certainly am not averse to taking someone else's painkillers, so I drained my cup of water, held it out, and she poured me a good stiff shot.  I gulped it and she had one too.  Instantly my legs felt better -- I don't think that could have been the alcohol, it could not have gone into my system so quickly.  I think I could have run pretty well for the next two miles or so, but stayed with Rich.  Frankly, at that point, running ahead for two miles is a formula for a slower finish.

Anna passed us, and Rich and I continued on for a finish in roughly 12 hours and 21 minutes.  Pat Caffrey was at the finish to greet us, and we received our finishers' medals.  Julie threw extra clothes on me and a down coat, and I grabbed some of the traditional post-race fried chicken, potatoes, and beer...and a huckleberry bear claw.  After thanking everyone, Jeff, Julie, and I headed back to our motel (the traditional and wonderful Mini Golden Inns in Hungry Horse, now an even quicker drive to the start than when the race ran along Hungry Horse Reservoir, ironically) for a shower and into Columbia Falls for more food and beer.  A great day having fun with good friends in wild and beautiful country!

I believe this was my slowest Le Grizz ever, but the Polebridge course (previously known as "government shutdown course") is certainly harder than the two Hungry Horse Reservoir courses.  I grabbed some of the traditional post-race fried chicken, potatoes, and beer, and headedA finish is a finish, and I am very happy that I now have 750 lifetime miles at Le Grizz.  I can hardly wait for the next 250.

Photo: Mary McD., yerz troolie, and Kathie L. at the starting line.  A photo essay will follow.

LIVE from the debates!


I'm listening to the Republican debate.  The CNBC questioners are absolutely shameful and disgusting; they could not be nastier or more partisan.  They come across as quite stupid as well.  I'm glad that Cruz (my favorite candidate), Rubio, Carson, and Trump have let them have it.  It's also shameful that the Republican leadership ever turned management of the debates over to what Rubio correctly labels the Democrats' superpac.  I think that says a lot about where the Republican leadership stands.  The GOP leadership is more like the Democrats than it is the Republican base.

I plan on blogging about the debate tomorrow night.

Does FEE's "Immigration Expert" Understand Immigration?

Apparently not... almost not at all.

David Bier, "immigration expert" for the Niskanen Center and frequent contributor to FEE's "Anything Peaceful" series, has again argued that opposition to unrestricted immigration by "Syrian" refugees "virtually mirrors" opposition to allowing Jews to escape Germany to the U.S. during Nazi times.  This is quite mistaken and confused, as I will point out shortly.

Bier doesn't make much of an argument and spills most of his virtual ink summarizing the history of opposition to Jewish immigration in the late '30's and early 40's.  The gist of his argument is this:

"America’s security fears during World War II led to the rejection of Jews fleeing the Holocaust — and to the remorse that prompted the creation of the refugee process.

Rather than repeat the mistake we promised never to forget, we must learn to address our fears without forgetting our humanity — and this begins by welcoming refugees who want nothing but to build a life of opportunity and peace. ... Yet we have chosen to let people starve, drown, or be murdered in the name of security. Our insecurity has led to callous inhumanity."

Read his entire piece here.

My response:

The "Syrian" refugee crisis is entirely different from the Holocaust in several very important ways.

1. Jewish refugees were escaping from the Third Reich, which intended to kill them. Most "Syrian" refugees are "escaping" from Turkey and other locations other than Syria. Applications for U.S. visas don't even come from Syria -- the Syrian government expelled the U.S. embassy three years ago -- and one cannot apply for a refugee visa from one's home country. So these applicants are NOT under the thumb of ISIS or Assad. These refugees are not facing a holocaust, and many are not even Syrians (hence my use of quotation marks).  Bier seems entirely unaware of this.

2. "We have chosen to let people starve, drown, or be murdered..." is false, since no one is sailing to the U.S. only to be turned away to starve or drown. It is hyperbole designed to inflame passions, not promote rational analysis.

3. Bier claims no refugee has ever *successfully* committed an act of terrorism in the U.S.  It's unclear how he could ever prove such a bold assertion.  I think it is false, but Bier might quibble over who is really a refugee or what constitutes successful  terrorism.  It is not comforting even if true.  Muslim immigrants have certainly been convicted of terror-related jihadist crimes.  The Tsarnaev brothers, the perpetrators of the two of World Trade Center attacks, the numerous Somalis (including refugees) who have been convicted of support for Al Shabab or who have tried to join ISIS. It is sensible to be worried about jihadists.  The U.S. government's primary job (only job, really) is to *protect Americans*, not foreign refugees.  It will be criminal if they admit large numbers of unvetted refugees...especially since they will make us pay for this (point 4).

4. "Syrian" refugees brought into a Western country are settled and supported at taxpayer expense.  In Bier's ideal world, perhaps this would not happen, but in the real world, Germany plans on spending 10 billion euros on "Syrian" refugees this year.  In America, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (HHS) gives refugees financial aid for housing, health care, buying automobiles, cash grants for spending money -- all paid for by U.S. taxpayers (or our Chinese creditors).  That alone is enough reason to oppose on libertarian grounds the admission of large numbers of refugees.

5. Unlike Judaism, most contemporary variants of Islam are overtly political and incompatible with a free society; certainly that's true of Middle Eastern variants.  There's no sensible reason to import, at taxpayer expense, large numbers of people who believe sharia should be the law.

6.  Bier's suggestion, admit more "Syrian" refugees, would simply create incentives for even more such immigration, worsening the crisis.

The plight of the refugees is sad, but Bier's analysis and proposed solution are detached from facts and logic.

If Bier is an "expert," why is he unaware that that the vast majority of these refugees are not coming from Syria, and that many are Afghans, Pakistanis, and even Africans?  Why is he unaware that no one in Syria applies for a refugee visa, so that his story about them being turned down and having to drown escaping the conflict makes no sense?  Why is he unaware that these refugees are settled at taxpayer expense and treated as wards of the state?  Or does he know all this, but omits it because it conflicts with his libertoonist dogma?  Beats me... it's just clear that his argument is full of holes.

I posted this response last night, and it appeared on FEE's site.  By 9:00 AM this morning it had been removed, sent down FEE's version of the memory hole, I guess.  Another commenter, calling her/himself "Observer 98" has also left a thoughtful comment.  I reproduce it here (without permission!) since I assume FEE will soon delete it as well:

Observer98 says:

Millions of refugees from Syria are staying in Lebanon and Jordan so they can return when the fighting is over. Others are engaged in 'country shopping' to find countries with the most benefits to move to. Individuals- men of military age, mostly- looking for benefits in other countries (the majority of whom are NOT from Syria) are not refugees. Muslim immigrants, unlike Jews fleeing the Holocaust, have caused problems in their host countries, agitating for Sharia Law (multiple countries), creating no-go zones (France & UK), not to mention politically incorrect facts such as rape statistics in Sweden. A conquering Medieval political-religious totalitarian 
belief system does not blend well in modern Western countries. Cultures matter. A country should have the right to choose who enters and becomes citizens- perhaps some countries don't want to be ruled by failed Medieval cultures.

Ironically, anti-Semitism is spread by these 'refugees'. Sort of makes a mess of your point, David, if you are championing people who don't believe the Holocaust ever happened.

My response:  Very well said.  And "Cultures matter" is the single most important point in all of this.  The libertoonists and anarchists who believe that we need simply get rid of government and utopia follows are detached from reality.  Islamists, et al. are incapable of sustaining a free society.  It is beyond me why the Bier brothers, Alex Nowrasteh, Chandran Kukathas, Jeffrey Tucker, Bryan Caplan, and other FEE contributors imagine it is a good idea to import indigents who don't speak local language, believe in honor killings and blasphemy laws, and think sharia ought to be the basis of a country's legal system.  I conjecture that they sympathize with the left's hatred of the American state and are so fixated on the state as a source of evil that they have also absorbed the left's multiculturalism.  You'd suppose that if they really are libertarians that once this is pointed out to them they'd backtrack a bit.  But no.  They are libertoonist dogmatists, promoting a religious faith, and it easier to call us "callous and inhuman."   We're sinners against the faith, I guess.

Friday, October 23, 2015

BAU update

I am sitting happily at an undisclosed location in Greenville MI, waiting patiently for the start of the 2015 Bad Apple Ultra 12 Hour Run.  Starting time is 6:00 AM EDT, and the course winds through the grounds of Klackle Orchards, just outside of Greenville.  Chaos is asleep on the bed next to me, resting up.  She and Julie will run the three hour version, so they won't begin until 3:00 PM...we'll all be finishing roughly at the same time.

Since Le Grizz two weeks ago I've only run 4.5 miles total, I believe, which seemed plenty.  I was a bit sore for a week after Le Grizz, and then had a massage that made me sorer.  I also did a set of 300 swings with a 1.5 pood kettlebell, just for my back, which made me sorer yet.  Tomorrow's run should be a relief.

Hah!  In fact, I feel pretty good; if I feel strong I will try going out at a relatively brisk pace, but BAU consists of 4 mile loops that wander through orchards and fields, and if I don't feel fast I will just treat this as a long and fun training run.  It will be a fun group, I think, and we are all looking forward to it.

Report will follow.

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