Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Assault on Free Speech ... Alan Caruba

The Assault on Free Speech

 By Alan Caruba

We have been witnessing a growing assault on free speech in America by the Left and too often it is succeeding.

The demand by members of the Rutgers University faculty that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice be disinvited to be the commencement speaker is the latest example and her decision to withdraw, while graceful, was a victory for the Left, the liberals for whom free speech exists only if it agrees with their posturing about equality, diversity, and all forms of “justice” as defined only by them.

Our universities are showing ugly signs of censoring the speech of those they invited to give a speech! Brandeis University recently withdrew its invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a human rights campaigner, because of her criticisms of Islam. In response, she said of the slur on her reputation that, “More deplorable is that an institution set up on the basis of religious freedom should today so deeply betray its own founding principles.”  

The forced resignation of the co-founder and CEO of Mozilla, Brendan Eich, because, years before, he had made a donation to the California campaign to support traditional marriage is another example. The Left has led the effort to redefine this ancient institution of the union between a man and a woman while supporting the demands of the nation’s gay and lesbian community.

Tearing down the foundations of our society has long been a major goal of the Left.

The taping of a private conversation between Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, and his mixed-race mistress who made it public led almost immediately thereafter to the demand by the National Basketball Association that he divest himself of ownership of the team. Yes, Sterling expressed racist views, but free speech includes saying stupid things; things that are sure to offend someone or some group. Saying them privately is very different from saying them publicly. And that speech is protected by the First Amendment.

An extension of the Sterling affair is the way any criticism of President Obama is almost always attributed to the fact that he is black. He is, in fact, only half black. His mother was white. The grandparents who raised him were white.

There is plenty about which to criticize Obama and none of it has to do with the color of his skin.

The level and intensity of political correctness has been rising for years and I have been worrying about it for a long time, particularly with the passage of “hate crime” legislation that goes beyond actual acts based on hatred and includes expressions that are deemed to be hatred.

Our educational system now seeks to exclude anything—and I do mean anything—that might “offend” someone or some group of people. A recent example of school officials who did not want American flag t-shirts being worn during Cinco de Mayo should be offensive to anyone who loves America. The holiday isn’t even a major one in Mexico, but demonstrating patriotism is surely not an offense. It gets worse, though, when the singing of Christmas carols are prohibited in a school, an offense against the practice of Christianity and the “diversity” that the Left is always demanding.

The genius of America is its inclusion of all manner of minorities, religions, and points of view. We have a Constitution that protects their rights and those of everyone else. Putting limits on free expression is a danger to the nation and that is what the Left has been trying to do for a very long time.

We are all increasingly living in a nation where limits on everything we do, everything we eat, everything we say are being dedicated by the federal government that believes it exists to act on our behalf because, one must assume, it believes it knows best. It does not.

The federal government has been engaging in policies that are reducing our military strength and security, imposing “Green” policies that are reducing access to the affordable and extensive provision of energy, that is annually adding new regulations by the thousands, that is seeking to make more and more of our landmass federal property, that has a tax code that even the IRS can’t understand, that keeps expanding control of our educational system for the purpose of indoctrinating new generations to obey anything it says and does, and now controls your health through a law that requires you purchase insurance you may not want, cannot afford, and is filled with new taxes.

This drift toward socialism is a threat to the freedoms we take for granted. It must be reversed.

One piece of good news is the recent decision by the Supreme Court that prayers at the start of local council meetings may continue, declaring them part of a long national tradition, thus thwarting the effort of atheist groups to keep people from engaging in such prayers if they wish. 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” – The First Amendment.

Those rights will exist only so long as the people defend them. Fight anyone or any group that seeks to undermine them. Whether you lose freedom overnight or by its slow reduction, once lost it is likely lost forever.

And VOTE to put people in office that will fight for you and for the rights the Left is attempting to take from you.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Alan Caruba's commentaries are posted daily at "Warning Signs" and shared on dozens of news and opinion websites. His blog recently passed more than 3.2 million page views. If you love to read, visit his monthly report on new books at Bookviews. For information on his professional skills, Caruba Editorial Services is the place to go! You can find Alan Caruba on both Facebook and Twitter as well.

Monday, May 5, 2014

And You Thought It Couldn't Happen Again! ... J. D. Longstreet

And You Thought It Couldn't Happen Again!
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet

Have they begun stringing barbed wire again?  Have they set-up new ovens again?  How about those showers, are they getting them operational again? Are they stock-piling Zyklon B gas already?

Sadly, many Americans reading the paragraph above have no idea what the heck I'm muttering about.

"The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. "Holocaust" is a word of Greek origin meaning "sacrifice by fire." The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were "racially superior" and that the Jews, deemed "inferior," were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community."  -- SOURCE: http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005143 

Here's more:  "In 1933, the Jewish population of Europe stood at over nine million. Most European Jews lived in countries that Nazi Germany would occupy or influence during World War II. By 1945, the Germans and their collaborators killed nearly two out of every three European Jews as part of the "Final Solution," the Nazi policy to murder the Jews of Europe. Although Jews, whom the Nazis deemed a priority danger to Germany, were the primary victims of Nazi racism, other victims included some 200,000 Roma (Gypsies). At least 200,000 mentally or physically disabled patients, mainly Germans, living in institutional settings, were murdered in the so-called Euthanasia Program."  --SOURCE:  http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005143

(We urge you to read this entire article and then do some research of your own.  If your knowledge of the Holocaust is sketchy, at best, then now would be an excellent time to educate yourself on what happened, and why it happened, and how WE allowed it to happen, and why it appears we have come full circle and are now on the cusp of allowing it to happen again.)

This is important -- because we are seeing the early elements of another Holocaust coming together in Europe today.

Consider this:  "Odessa’s Jews are prepared to evacuate should the violence in the western Ukrainian city get significantly worse, several community leaders told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

Odessa’s Jewish community numbers some 30,000, down from nearly 40 percent of the city’s population before the Holocaust.
While Jewish community leaders are unanimous in asserting that the violence is unconnected to the Jewish community and that they do not feel specially targeted, they agreed that, should the situation deteriorate, it would be easy for the spillover to affect their constituents.
The Jewish community, together with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, has prepared a fleet of 70 buses, fueled and ready to go, “if, God forbid, we have to evacuate” the community’s children and any adults who want to leave, he said."
-- SOURCE:  http://www.jpost.com/International/Odessa-Jewish-community-mulls-emergency-evacuation-351334

THIS is the way it begins.

This is one of those times when I hope those little alarm bells, way back in my mind somewhere, are wrong.  

Even after the Second World War and the Nazi directed Holocaust of the Jews, even after the international embarrassment of those countries taking any part in the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, the intense dislike for and prejudice against (Allow me to add "HATRED" for) Jewish people still runs rampant in Europe. 

What about Jews in the Ukraine?  "The most notorious massacre of Jews in Ukraine was at the Babi Yar ravine outside Kiev, where 33,771 Jews were killed in a single operation on September 29–30, 1941." -- SOURCE:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Holocaust_in_Ukraine 

How bad could it have been?  Read the words of this truck driver who witnessed the whole thing.

"On the Monday, the Jews of Kiev gathered by the cemetery, expecting to be loaded onto trains. The crowd was large enough that most of the men, women, and children could not have known what was happening until it was too late: by the time they heard the machine-gun fire, there was no chance to escape. All were driven down a corridor of soldiers, in groups of ten, and then shot. A truck driver described the scene: "One after the other, they had to remove their luggage, then their coats, shoes, and overgarments and also underwear … Once undressed, they were led into the ravine which was about 150 meters long and 30 meters wide and a good 15 meters deep … When they reached the bottom of the ravine they were seized by members of the Schutzmannschaft and made to lie down on top of Jews who had already been shot … The corpses were literally in layers. A police marksman came along and shot each Jew in the neck with a submachine gun … I saw these marksmen stand on layers of corpses and shoot one after the other … The marksman would walk across the bodies of the executed Jews to the next Jew, who had meanwhile lain down, and shoot him."  -- SOURCE:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Holocaust_in_Ukraine
"Ukrainians collaborated with the German occupiers in various ways including: participating in the local administration, in German-supervised auxiliary police, Schutzmannschaft, in the German military, and serving as concentration camp guards. Nationalists in the west of Ukraine were among the most enthusiastic, hoping that their efforts would enable them to establish independent state later on."  -- SOURCE:  https://en.wikipedia.or

Yes, the Jews in Ukraine have good reason to be afraid. 

Consider this:  "Sam Pivnik, 86, was only 14 when his family were rounded up in Bedzin, western Poland, and sent to the death camp at Auschwitz.
Mr Pivnik, who now lives in Golders Green, north London, said he was not surprised by the literature’s anti-Semitism.
Just last month Mr. Pivnik told the Daily and Sunday Express of London:  “Jews have no place in Ukraine, because nothing has changed,” he said last night, “and as long as Jews remain there, nothing will change. They had no business staying in that country after the atrocities of 1939-1945.

“There is no point in staying there waiting for trouble, in the hope that the world Jewry can save them. Even Germany is doing everything it can to tackle anti-Semitism and is better than Ukraine. Jews in the Ukraine should leave.”

 You may recall there were pamphlets and posters, distributed in the eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk, just a few days ago, demanding that the Jewish population register, pay a new tax -- or leave.

Those pamphlets and posters are a terrifying echo of the anti-Jewish atrocities carried out by Ukrainians under Nazi occupation during the Second World War.  THAT'S what sent the alarm bells clanging in the dusty recesses of my mind.  Apparently, the alarm was heard by many more around the globe, too.

I'm told that as new recruits of the Israeli Defense Forces double-time up the mountain of Masada, as a part of their training, they chant:  "Never again," "Never again," over and over and over.  They are pledging that what happened to their people in the Holocaust (and other atrocities since) shall never be permitted to happen again.

Today, Israel is a state with a military that ranks right up there with the world's best warriors.  It has an intelligence service which puts the US intelligence services to shame, and even more important it has fearless leadership with a former officer of Israel's Special Forces serving as Prime Minister.

I cannot visualize Israel allowing a second Holocaust to occur without utilizing their military muscle to intervene.   And that scenario brings us back to the initiation point for a Third World War.  

Look, Americans are tired of war.  We are especially tired of getting involved in other people's wars.  
America currently has no military leadership at the Commander-in-Chief level.  NONE! 

The political party now in charge of America's government has no idea what military power is for, nor how to apply it.  They have such naive ideas as the responsibility to protect any peoples on the globe who cannot protect themselves.  Sounds good in Sunday School, and even on paper -- but -- in the real world it will break a country financially, and sap its morale and its military -- all in short order.

No.  Americans don't want another war -- at the moment.  But -- we don't want another Holocaust, either, and we'll do whatever is necessary to see that it does not occur.
J. D. Longstreet

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

We Are All Entitled To Privacy ... J. D. Longstreet

We Are All Entitled To Privacy
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet


I've taken a few days before broaching this subject.  If I have learned anything over the years about the MsM (Mainstream Media), it is that they tend to act as lemmings when they sense a sensational story and then they switch from lemmings to sharks in a feeding frenzy when they draw blood. It really makes no difference whose blood it is, either.

Now, I realize it is not the way of the world in 2014 to actually take a few days to annylize a situation before shooting off one's mouth.   Today, that is considered a timid approach to commenting on current events.

Well, be that as it may, I STILL like to turn things inside out and try and learn what actually happened before I make a comment. 

For instance:  Mr. Sterling, of NBA basketball fame,  is being accused of being a racist.   He may be.  I don't know.

Look, so far as I can remember, I have never heard Mr. Sterling's name mentioned in a conversation that held any interest for me ... ever. I tend to dismiss people, places, and things from my memory -- if I deem them unimportant. 

I don't follow professional basketball -- at all. It doesn't strike me as a game or contest.  In my estimation it is more an exhibition than a contest.  It holds absolutely no interest for me, ranking right up there with soccer, which I still hold is an un-American game and ought not be played inside the borders of the US. 

So, until the recent brush fire over something Mr. Sterling said erupted into my TV news programming, I was oblivious to the man and quite happy being so.

Having said all the above, it seems to me we are missing the most important story in all the hoopla: 

Mr. Sterling's right to privacy.

Apparently, Mr. Sterling's right to privacy (judging from reports on the news) has been violated -- BIG TIME.

Consider this:  "You can hate Sterling’s remarks and still be alarmed at the reaction.

The 80-year old sports team owner was expressing his sentiments in conversation with his mixed-race, Latina-black mistress while in the privacy of his own car. He expressed his dissatisfaction with seeing his girlfriend attending Clipper games with her black friends, in particular Magic Johnson. It was a private conversation, if such an arrangement is still allowed in our post-constitutional society, one that is rapidly veering toward total thought control." 
-- SOURCE:  http://www.commdiginews.com/politics-2/donald-sterling-and-v-stiviano-what-the-hell-ever-happened-to-private-conversations-and-other-musings-16496/#CoBswrR4Wssc8bMj.99

What we have here is -- political correctness on steroids.  

Now, some of you readers  will not take kindly to what I'm about to say, but -- I don't give a whit what Mr. Sterling said, one way or the other.  See, it was a PRIVATE conversation, or, at least, BELIEVED to be so by him -- and -- what he said, or did not say, is none of my business -- and none of your business.

If I were Mr. Sterling I would have investigators digging to learn who made the now infamous recording (If he doesn't already know.) and even more important, WHY did they make it?  What ELSE is going on here?  Anything? Nothing?  I haven't a clue -- and I am perfectly happy with that.

Every day the US is looking more and more like Nazi Germany of the 1930's and the old Soviet Union.  In both those countries it was not enough that the government was spying on its citizens, but they openly encouraged and, in some cases, rewarded citizens to spy upon their very own family members and neighbors.

We have now arrived at that next step in the formulation of the American Police State.  Have you noticed the signs:  "If you see something, say something?"  Maybe they ought to read -- "If you can record something in private, then do so."  Heck, practically everything we do, 24/7/365, is monitored and recorded for a potential witness against us whenever the government decides to bring the hammer down. 

Individual freedom and individual liberty is all but gone in America.   The Marxists controlling the US government will not be satisfied until they have a citizenry resembling, little cookie cutter commies marching in step to their orders.  We get ever closer to that scene from Hell every day.

I hold that the right to privacy is a "right" granted by God -- and it is inherent.  Privacy is an essential constituent or characteristic of who we are as human beings.  It is what we Southerners like to refer to as "the right to be let alone."  In Dixie, stated simply, it is thus made clear:  "You stay the hell out of my business, and I'll stay the hell out of yours."  When you begin to meddle in MY affairs it clearly means you are looking for trouble and, as the scriptures say: "Seek and ye shall find!"

It would appear from what little we know of the circumstances surrounding the event, Mr. Sterling was ambushed.   Otherwise, it seems to me, he would have to have authorized the taping of his tirade.  That seems most unlikely considering the content of the tirade.

Look.  I don't care, one whit, how Mr. Sterling feels about black people, or white people, for that matter.  I just don't care.  That's between him and his god and Mr. Sterling, not I, will  have to work it out with the deity of his choice. Judging from his reported age, he needs to work it out fairly quickly, though.

There was a time, in the not too distant past, in America when everyone was entitled to his or her own opinion.  That time is now past.  Now, your opinion must conform to the dogma of the political Left.   If it doesn't you are ostracized and often destroyed.  This is a perfect mirror reflection of the Bolsheviks, a  Russian left-wing majority group that followed Lenin and eventually became the Russian Communist Party that took over Russia and turned it into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which became a boil on the backside of the entire world.

The American Left and the Russian Communist Left are cut from the exact same bolt of cloth.

THAT's what I see on display here.

And PLEASE -- don't try to tell me America is a racist country today.  I grew up in a racist country.  I drank from "Whites only" water fountains. I went to doctor's with "whites only" waiting rooms and black waiting rooms. (Notice I didn't say "blacks only" waiting rooms.  See, when the white's waiting room filled, the whites automatically moved into the black's waiting room and the blacks wound up out in the hallway, sometimes sitting on the floor in the hallway).

I ate at restaurants where blacks had to eat outside and were served through little windows much like drive-thru windows work today... but you walked up to them, you did not drive.   I rode on buses where blacks had to to sit on the back seat, if they were allowed on the bus at all.  I went to the movies where blacks were relegated to the back of the balcony section, and on Sundays, I attended church where not a single black face shone from the sea of white parishioners piously facing the white pastor.

Compare those days to these -- where none of that is happening -- plus, the President is a black man, the nation's Attorney General is a black man, a Supreme Court Justice is a black man, and one of the US Senators from my home State of South Carolina, no less,  is a black man -- and the list goes on.

Is there racism in America.  Yes!  And there always will be.  We come wired that way.  It is a defense mechanism Mother Nature endowed us with to suspect anything, and anybody, not like ourselves.  Some of us learn to overcome it while, conversely,  some learn how to use it to profit obscenely from it.  And then there are those who learn to use it to excuse their own laziness and salve their own conscience when cashing those government checks every month.  To each his own.

But there is something different with the Sterling story.  I can't put my finger on it, but something just doesn't add up.  This old news hound's ears are pricked-up and my hackles are up and trembling.  But, hey, I'm retired now!
Yeah, RIGHT!

J. D. Longstreet

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Saturday, May 3, 2014

What Might Cars Cost If We Had a Free Market? ... Eric Peters

What Might Cars Cost If We Had a Free Market?

It’s a common gripe that new cars cost too much – and, they do.92Camrywindowsticker2
As of last year, the average transaction price paid for a new car exceeded $30,000 for the first time. Of course, it’s still very possible to buy a new car for less than $30,000. But even the least expensive new cars start around $15,000 – and that’s a lot of money for many people. Too much money for many people, in fact. There’s a reason for the extension of car loans from the once-typical three or four years to five – and even six. With seven surely on the horizon (though this is self-limiting because of depreciation; people will find themselves “upside down” on their car loan. But that’s another article).

The reason car loans are as long as they are is to mask the true cost – the unaffordability – of new cars, measured in terms of the average person’s ability to pay for them. If you earn the (roughly) $54,000 or so annually that the average person – the average family – earns, finding $400 a month to pay for a five-year loan on a bread-and-butter family car such as a Toyota Camry  purchased for $24k (which would – just barely – get you into a base trim Camry with very few options) is simply not feasible. So, the payments are pushed out to six years – and that brings the monthly nut down to about $330.

Still, it’s a lot of debt to assume – and for most people, debt is all-but-unavoidable because they don’t have the cash to buy outright. Financing – debt – is inevitable.empty pockets pic
But why have cars become so expensive?

Logically, they ought to be getting less expensive all the time – because of manufacturing efficiencies, because the basic technology has been sorted out years ago, and many other reasons besides.

In some respects, they are less expensive – in that it’s now routine for cars to come standard with features and equipment that in the past were available only in a few high-end cars. Fuel injection is a good example. If you rewind the historical clock to 1980, fuel injection was exotic technology; virtually all mass-market cars still had carburetors. Same goes for other technical great leaps forward like overdrive (and CVT and dual-clutch) automatic transmissions, as well as the near-ubiquity these days of amenities such as climate control air conditioning, excellent factory audio systems – even heated seats.

But, while such features have become more mass market, the cars themselves are – demonstrably – much more expensive than they might otherwise be.
Because of the myriad mandates the government has imposed.

Whether these mandates are “good things” isn’t the issue. The issue – for purposes of our discussion – is the cost of these mandates.

It’s hard to nail down the exact tab, especially as regards the mandates that effectively dictate fundamental design (here I refer to impact standards, fuel efficiency and emissions requirements). But the cost of add-on mandates can be identified with some degree of accuracy, based on government/industry statements as well as extrapolated from the known cost of parts/repair. Let’s take a look at some of these – and get a handle on the price of the “features” we’re all being forced to buy:
 * Back-up cameras -back-up 1
The most recent add-on mandate (see here for more) will add at least $140 to the purchase price of your next new car – by the government’s own estimate. This estimate does not factor in repair/replacement costs, nor the likely increase in insurance costs (generally) as a result of increased repair costs following accidents. Let’s call it $500 in total/lifetime costs – which is almost certainly under-estimating it.

* ABS/Traction control -
We can estimate the add-on costs because these now-standard (by mandate) features were once optional. I dug up a window sticker for a 1990 Toyota Camry (pictured above; also see here). ABS was optional that year. And the option added $1,300 to the car’s MSRP. Here’s another article – also from 1990 – discussing the cost of then-optional ABS. The writer confirms the range $900-$1,000 or thereabouts.

Now, it’s true that in 1990 ABS (and traction control, which works using the ABS) were relatively new technologies and, as such, their cost was higher then – in the same way that the first microwaves and laptops were more expensive than they are now. But even if we cut the cost of ABS/traction control by a third to account for amortization of the R&D, the lowered cost of components – and so forth – we’re still looking at another $300-$500 per car. And, again, we’re low-balling in order to put the most favorable (to the control freaks who mandate all this stuff) spin on everything.ABS pic
Down-the-road costs should also be acknowledged. An ABS system includes additional parts such as wheel speed sensors, the ABS pump and of course the computer brain to run it all. While it is not guaranteed that every owner of every ABS-equipped car will have to pay to replace the car’s ABS pump (several hundred bucks, typically) or wheel speed sensors or its computer, the possibility is both there and not remote. Indeed, it becomes increasingly likely that some ABS (or traction control) related component will fail as the years go by and the mileage accumulates. And the bill for repairs will be sent to you – not the bureaucrat or pol who forced you to buy ABS in the first place.
 * Air bags -air bags picture
This is the Big One. Not merely because the airbags themselves cost a lot (though they do cost a lot) but also because of the sheer number of them in the typical modern car and because of the ruinous repair costs they impose if they deploy.

And – even if they don’t deploy.

Let’s start with the cost of the bags themselves. And the number of bags we’re dealing with.

Very few  cars built within the past five years have fewer than four air bags – and six or more is very quickly becoming common. Some new cars have eight or more air bags. There are frontal impact, side/door impact, knee and roof air bags.

Let’s assume for the sake of discussion that each air bag and its related components adds $100 to the bottom line price of a new car. Minimally, then, the air bags add $400 to the price of a car equipped with just four air bags. Which, again, is very few new cars. Most 2014 cars have at least six air bags.

So, $600.

And $100 per air bag is probably under-estimating the cost by several hundred percent. Consider that the cost to replace just the driver and passenger side air bags is typically in the range of $1,500-$2,000.

That’s for two.

Remember: Almost all new cars have at least four – and most have six.

Now, it’s true that replacement costs – and factory-installed costs – are different kinds of costs. But the replacement costs are just as real. Which you’ll discover, if you get into an accident in an air bag-equipped car. Especially if it’s an older car. If the average retail value of the vehicle is much less than $10,000 it is extremely likely the vehicle – even if otherwise repairable – will be “totaled” by the insurance company solely because the cost to replace the air bags can and frequently does push the fix-it estimate to within 50 percent of the vehicle’s pre-accident value. At which point, most insurance adjusters will junk the car rather than authorize repairs.

Even if you never wreck – and the bags never deploy – you still pay. Because your insurance premium – everyone’s insurance premium – is based on the cost to repair (or to throw away) the air bag-equipped car in the event of an accident.

But let’s be conservative and call it another $600 “up front” for a car with six air bags – and again, we’re likely low-balling it by orders of magnitude. irs

All right. Let’s add ‘em up:

Back-up cameras: $500.

ABS/traction control: $1,000.

Air bags (six): $600

That’s a very conservatively figured $2,100 in Additional Sticker Shock. And this rough math does not include the unseen – the harder to nail down – costs imposed by such things as bumper impact, rollover/roof crush/side impact standards, the huge costs of complying with the federal government’s ever-increasing fuel economy standards (the cars save you money on fuel, but cost more to buy) and its ever-more-draconian (for ever-diminishing-returns) tailpipe emissions standards. These things probably add – again, very conservatively estimated – 20 percent to the typical new car’s sticker price.

If we assume a new car with a sticker price of say $20,000 (and this would be a modestly priced/entry-level car these days), 20 percent would be about $4,000 – plus the $2,100 for the add-ons (ABS/TCS, back-up cameras, air bags, etc.) .

So, $6,100 of the $20,000 car’s MSRP is the cost of the mandates to you .

Put another way, if these mandates didn’t exist – if the car companies were free to build cars the way you, the customer, wanted them built – it would mean that $20,000 car might only list for $14,000. And there would almost certainly be “basic transportation” new cars available for $8,000 or less.

Such cars are, in fact, available in other parts of the world. (See here, here, here and here, for some examples.)

Parts of the world where the government hasn’t yet interposed itself between the customer and the car company – dictating to the car company how cars shall be made . . . and to customers, what they shall buy.


Eric Peters is a longtime car/bikes/Libertarian-minded journalist. His book, “Road Hogs,” came out June 2011.

Peters has been writing a weekly column about cars for almost 20 years now. He is the author of “Automotive Atrocities” and “Road Hogs” (MBI). He lives in rural SW Virginia with his wife and a polyglot crew of animals.

Americans Making Guns at Home ... J. D. Longstreet

Gun Making: An American Cottage Industry
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet

I made my first fully operational hand gun while I was in junior high school.  I carried that weapon on my person every where I went for a long time. 

That "zip gun" was in addition to my 22 caliber squirrel gun and my Winchester Model 37 - 12 gauge shot gun with a 30 inch barrel, full choke.  My Dad used to say you could place a dime on the end of that gun's barrel and it would not fall into the barrel.  It was murder on my shoulder. 

My favorite gun was that homemade zip gun -- because I made it. 

My point is -- firearms are not that difficult to make -- in your very own garage.

Just for the heck of it,  I had an Internet search engine look up sites for homemade guns and it returned no less that 2,510,000 sites dealing with that topic.  Yeah, I WAS overwhelmed.  I had expected a few thousand, but 2-1/2 million???

OK.  So what's REALLY the point, you ask?  Well, since you insist -- the REAL point is -- there is no way the government, or anyone else, will ever disarm America.  Ain't gonna happen.
Homemade Machine Gun

Firearms are just too easily made with regular old home workshop tools.  Heck, I found a site that offered plans for a homemade machine gun made with off-the-shelf parts assembled with ordinary home workshop tools!  (If we had had computers back in the 40's and 50's I'd have had one of those!)

I'm bringing all this to your attention to point how utterly stupid it is for the United Nations and the gun-grabbers in the US government -- and any other government -- to believe they can control small arms and the manufacture and trade in same.  It cannot be done.  Not anymore. 

There may have been a time in the distant past when a government could have some control over the manufacture, sale, trade, and ownership of small arms but, frankly, I doubt it.

In the first place, we are talking MILLIONS of small arms already in the hands of citizens all over the world most of which will suddenly be lost the moment a government attempts to enforce a gun registration mandate.  They will just disappear -- at least as far as the authorities are concerned.

Outlandish taxes on ammunition have been proposed.  That, too, simply demonstrates the naivete of those making such a proposal. 

Back when I was still physically able to take to the fields and woods to hunt, few of my hunting buddies purchased ammo.  They saved their spent cartridge casings and shells and reloaded them at home.  Only occasionally did they break down and actually purchase NEW ammo.

There have been those who proposed making lead ammunition illegal, taking it off the market.  Do that and see how long the wheel weights on the wheels of your car or truck remain on the wheels of your car or truck. 

Weights for fishing tackle will disappear from the shelves of sporting goods stores.  Besides, lead is just one of many types of metal from which cartridge rounds can be made.

See, all this talk of controlling small arms is not about controlling small arms.  It is about controlling YOU! 

If the law abiding citizen gives up his guns then the only people with guns will be the bad people and the government -- and frankly, it is getting more difficult every day to define which is which between those two.  It would be extremely uncomfortable caught between them unable to defend yourself from either -- or both.

No.  Gun control is not about crime control.  Ask the people of the countries that have done it. It made no difference.  In fact, murder by "edged" weapons such as butcher knives and household kitchen knives have actually gone up! 

The plain truth is this: If a man is intent on your murder, he will find a way to dispatch you.  Thus it has ALWAYS been. Cain killed Able, his own brother, and Cain had no clue what a gun was.  David committed justifiable homicide when he killed Goliath -- with a slingshot!  One of the most deadly accurate, dangerous, man-killing weapons ever devised by the mind of man, is the English Long Bow.

Come on, folks, get real.  The whole gun control debate is a red herring.  It is an attempt at slight of hand.  Its a fake, a fraud, a con. It IS all about government power over you, its citizens.

It is no surprise that such an attempt would originate in the United Nations.  After all, the UN is nothing more that a sandbox, a playground, if you will,  for the world's dictators, power brokers, and international criminals.  I am embarrassed that my country is even a member.  It pains me to know that the UN building is located on a piece of land adjacent to New York City. (The UN owns the ground upon which their headquarters sits.)  They are unwelcome neighbors and I, for one, wish they would move out of my neighborhood!

Unfortunately, our current President -- Obama-- supports the UN's Small Arms Treaty and will sign it.  Mr Obama, you see, has delusions of being dictator, or, at the very least, "King of America."  He is, of course, neither.  He IS a communist -- and as such, he knows the value of having a disarmed citizenry which can pose no threat to his plans to transform America into another Socialist/Marxist dung heap.  So, yeah, he'll sign it -- BUT -- it will be up to the Senate to ratify it -- or not. It will not become law in the US until ratification by the Senate. 

George Washington, the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army and the first President of the United States said the following: "A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government."

Thomas Jefferson said the following: "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

And in the words of the the most well known of the tyrants of the last century, Adolf Hitler comes this: “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed the subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty.”

It is good, I think, to note that The Forefathers felt so highly of the right to keep and bear arms that it is the SECOND Amendment. The first being, of course, freedom of speech, religion, etc.  Please note that without the Second Amendment the First Amendment would effectively be null and void.

So, here we go again. Fighting for our freedom never stops.  It is eternal.  But it's worth every drop of sweat and blood it costs.  Never, ever, forget that.  If we do -- we will become what Hitler referred to (above) as a "subject race."

J. D. Longstreet


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Friday, May 2, 2014

Depends on When You Were Born ... Alan Caruba

Depends on When You Were Born

By Alan Caruba

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same." ~ Ronald Reagan

My Father was born in 1901 and was too young for World War One and too old to serve in World War Two. A gentle, quiet man, he would have been a terrible soldier. My older brother, however, was inducted in the U.S. Army and served during the Korean conflict. In the 1960s I served during a period of peace despite Cold War tensions.

In 1973, the U.S. ended military conscription, opting for an all-volunteer force. Those that chose to serve found themselves in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. Earlier there were some minor engagements such as Panama in 1989. It was 9/1 that changed everything.

The thing about wars is that, if a nation wants to invade another one, all the laws and treaties mean nothing. One of the most useless international organizations, the United Nations, has a long record of not deterring all manner of wars, large and small, past and present. Then, too, wars are usually preceded by lies the aggressor puts forth to justify the action and much of what occurs is protected by a body of lies. The winner gets to write the history.

The last century had wars that killed millions, many of whom were civilians. A new generation is witnessing a Syrian war whose casualties now number 170,000. Two million Syrians are now refugees; a potential threat to the stability of Lebanon and Jordon. Both sides of the conflict have perpetrated horrors, but the use of poison gas by President Assad, a major crime against humanity, has not resulted in any loss of his power. Russia stepped in to give him cover. His other ally is Iran. Ukraine is likely to split between East and West.

The conflicts of the current century could escalate into even more massive loss of lives because nuclear weapons and poison gas have the capability of killing more people than the bombs of the last century.

Significantly, it took two atomic bombs to convince the Japanese leaders to surrender, but not until thousands died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The good news is that no atomic bombs have been used since. The bad news is that there a crazies like the Supreme Leader of Iran whose Islamic fanaticism cannot be counted upon to preclude his use of a nuclear weapon against Israel. Or us.

What is curious, foolish, and displays a huge ignorance of history is the way President Obama and his minions have been reducing America’s military. It has been American power that kept the Cold War with the former Soviet Union from turning into a hot war and it was that power that was instrumental in causing others to avoid military confrontations with us. Congress has to set aside the sequestration limits that affect our military strength and get busy rebuilding our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. It should do so tomorrow!

The generation that served in World War Two and in the Korean conflict is no longer represented by those serving in Congress. Older members have passed away or retired. The present Congress—particularly its Democratic Party members—are some of the dumbest and most duplicitous politicians to have ever served there.

Like the President, they do not hesitate to lie and to spin whatever occurs. In a nation almost evenly divided politically, it will take a shift by the moderates and independents in the center to transfer complete political power in Congress to the Republican Party. Then we have to hope the GOP will more strongly embrace its principles to undo the damage done by the two elections of Obama and thwart further damage in his remaining two years in office.

The newest generations of voters and those who have been around awhile have been living through a period in which they have been ill-served by a Congress that spent and borrowed too much. Congress did the same during the Great Depression through which my parents lived.  It prolonged it from 1929 to 1941 when we entered WWII. One can only hope that those graduating from college with big loans and no job prospects will vote to put a stop to that. Joining them will be the Baby Boomers, many of whom also cannot find work or cannot retire.

We are living through our own Great Depression for the same reasons Franklin D. Roosevelt’s solutions did not work. It is the private sector, not the government that determines the health and growth of the economy. In our case, we have been a major economic power,  number one since 1872. On August 5, 2011, the nation’s top credit rating was downgraded. The lesson from that event was lost on too many people.
That too many do not learn from history or are simply ignorant of it explains a lot about our present times.

No discussion of our present times would be complete without a look at one of the greatest legislative catastrophes, Obamacare, ever imposed. It will likely prove to be the final nail in the Democratic Party coffin for a while. It is a classic example of the liberal desire to control the most intimate aspects of our lives, our health and the care it requires, combined with the insane need to fashion legislation so complex that it cannot work. Worse, it will likely kill off large numbers of its alleged beneficiaries, particularly the old; denied or delayed access to nearby hospitals, their personal physicians, et cetera.

Obamacare is doomed. It will be repealed. A return of healthcare to the private sector will do what no amount of government ever can. It is fundamentally unconstitutional to require people to purchase something they do not want.

America may be at a significant turning point. Having indulged every government program to their near extinction—Social Security and Medicare are closing in on insolvency—we may return to more self-reliance, fiscal prudence, and less reliance on a government grown too large to do anything well.

It depends on when you were born whether you will live to see this occur. I likely will not.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Alan Caruba's commentaries are posted daily at "Warning Signs" and shared on dozens of news and opinion websites. His blog recently passed more than 3.2 million page views. If you love to read, visit his monthly report on new books at Bookviews. For information on his professional skills, Caruba Editorial Services is the place to go! You can find Alan Caruba on both Facebook and Twitter as well.

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Send Missionaries To The US ... PLEASE! ... J. D. Longstreet

Send Missionaries To The US ... PLEASE!
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet


Back at the dawn of history, when I was a but a wee lad, my family had the God-given insight to bring me up in an evangelical church.  I had no say in where I attended church,  See, kids back then kept their mouths shut and their ears open and paid heed to their parents, their elders.  (That is why I contend that my generation is so much smarter than the generations that followed.)

Anyway, I recall clearly how my church was referred to as a "Missionary" Baptist Church.  See, our congregation helped to support missionaries the world over.  It was our church's way of carrying out the last instructions Christ gave his church when he took leave of this world to go prepare a place for his followers.   Here's what He said:

"19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." 
This is referred to as "The Great Commission" and you will find it at Matthew 28:19 - 20.  (The New Testament)

In a single sentence the Christian church was given its assignment -- the sole purpose of the church until the return of Christ. 

Back in the middle of the twentieth century, many of the Christian denominations in America were trying their dead level best to carry out those orders, for that was what they were -- orders.

It is true that back then America was truly a Christian nation.  On Sunday mornings you had to arrive early to get a seat in a pew, else you were left standing along the back wall, or the ushers placed folding chairs in the aisles (Which would freak out today's fire marshals!)

Americans went to church back then.  Our little church constantly had well over 200 persons in Sunday School.  That number is far more than many mainline churches today enjoy in their Sunday morning worship services!

As I mentioned above, we gave lots of financial support to missionaries the world over. 

Now, the vast majority of the membership were blue collar workers who were employed by a cotton mill which had once been the largest cotton mill under one roof in the world.  Nobody got rich, but we all lived well.  We had a sturdy roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, food on the table, a family that loved each other, a father who would go to whatever end was necessary to protect his little family, and we had a string anchor in the faith of our fathers.

The tithe was then, as it is today, ten percent of one's income.  And over and above that, the offering plates were passed at all services for those wishing to  make a "love" offering toward the financing of the church's mission.  Those offering plates were filled each Sunday.

Several times a year the offerings were dedicated to one missionary or other serving the heathens and pagans in far-flung corners of the earth so that we could carry out that Great Commission I mentioned above.

Once I recall, we helped purchase an airplane for a missionary, as I recall, in Africa.  The only time we ever saw the plane was when the missionary  thoughtfully sent us a snapshot of it with her and a few of her dusky skinned parishioners standing beside it.
Now, recall,  I said the membership was blue collar.  They had very little disposable income after the bills were paid, their family's needs taken care of, and groceries were bought.

Their wallets may have been small but their hearts were huge. 

One year the church decided that each church family would give their entire salary for that week to a fund for a particular missionary who had hit a rough patch and was in dire need of funding.  And we did.  And yes, it hurt ... but it hurt GOOD!

I got to thinking about all this when I saw  an article entitled:  "China May Soon Be the World's Most Christian Nation."  My first thought was that maybe all those missionaries we helped fund really had an impact on China.

"Demographic research shows that Communist China may become the world's most Christian nation in the next 15 years, a projection the godless government in Beijing is doing all it can to refute.

In 1949 the number of Christians in the newly communist nation was estimated at just one million. But by 2010, according to the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life, that number had skyrocketed to more than 58 million Protestants alone..."
-- SOURCE: http://www.thenewamerican.com/world-news/asia/item/18151-china-may-soon-be-the-world-s-most-christian-nation?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=c1203749fe-The_Editors_Top_Picks_3_12_143_12_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8ca494f2d2-c1203749fe-289784169

The article goes on:  "Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology at Purdue University and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule, predicted recently that “China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon.” Yang, considered one of the leading experts on faith and religion in China, said that China's Protestant population is set to swell to some 160 million, putting it ahead of the United States, whose Protestant population topped out at around 159 million a few years ago, but which has reportedly been declining as of late."

Here in America true Christianity is in mortal danger.  For in America, you see, if a minister steps into the pulpit and preaches the true Gospel, he is subject to be dragged into court on charges of hate crimes.  His church's tax exempt status is in danger of being revoked. 

I wondered recently how long it would be before government agents will be walking church parking lots during services, taking note of license plate numbers of attendees because the government already considers conservative Christians potential domestic terrorists.

So, I appeal to the Christian countries of the world, send Christian missionaries!   America needs your help!  Please send missionaries armed with the true gospel, not the watered down pabulum fed congregants from the pulpits of America's churches today.

America's Christians did not forget you when you were begging for the gospel, now, we, here in America, need, desperately, to find our way again and we seem unable to do it without outside assistance.

Understand, the Christian church in America may soon find it necessary to go underground just as the church in many of your countries had to do and just as the early Christians in Rome did to insure the gospel survived.

How bad is it today in America?  Recent research found:  " ... that each generation is more post-Christian than the one that came before it. Only 28 percent of seniors (ages 67 and greater) are considered post-Christian, as compared to 35 percent of Boomers (ages 48 to 66), 40 percent of Busters (ages 29 to 47) and 48 percent of Mosaics (ages 18 to 28). Kinnaman says this type of research could serve as a glimpse into the "spiritual, moral and social future" of the United States." -- SOURCE:  http://www.christianpost.com/news/america-becoming-increasingly-post-christian-research-shows-93967/

In an article entitled:  "The Spirit of Tolerance, Post-Christian America and the Laodicean Church" published in July of 2013, the author, Larry Tomczak, said the following:   "This month, the youth-oriented Relevant magazine, published by Cameron Strang, ran an article on the topic of post-Christian America. Quoting a Barna Group study, the article cited that in America, seven of 10 people describe themselves as Christian. Yet consider the following statistics cited:

    57 percent have not read the Bible in the last week
    41 percent agree that Jesus committed sins
    29 percent disagree that the Bible is accurate
"  -- SOURCE:  http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/40240-the-spirit-of-tolerance-post-christian-america-and-the-laodicean-church

THIS, dear reader, is what passes for a Christian in America today.

Yes, as someone has said, America HAS become the sort of country to which we used to send missionaries.

We have, indeed, come full circle.

J. D. Longstreet

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