Monday, February 25, 2013

War on Drugs Lost before First Shot

Fighting for lost causes is an expensive American indulgence. If we have a problem, and our fix doesn’t work, then we do even more of what doesn’t work. Exhibit A is the “War on Drugs’, a lost cause before the first battle.

Just like the war on natural climate change.

During my 1960 Freshman year at Humboldt State in Northern California, I chose my first Honors English paper and speech project on why we should decriminalize drug use. It was obvious then, and much more so now, that treating drug addiction as a crime was futile and wasteful; wasteful of legal and financial resources, but even more wasteful of human lives.

Human lives.

It’s totally logical, but we can’t see it. A young man in the inner city has role models: they’re on his street everyday, they’re unskilled and uneducated just like him, but they’re well qualified to deal drugs. It’s illogical to expect he won’t join them and help Oakland maintain its title as California’s most dangerous city with a violent crime rate of over 15 per 1,000 population.

Humans tossed on the garbage heap.

A young professional with spouse and children is arrested for possession, with their house in foreclosure and threatened repossessions because they can’t afford both drugs and keeping up their other payments. Drug illegality makes drugs exorbitantly expensive and fills our expensive jails.

Human potential destroyed.

If the United States bought drugs – opium for heroin, prescription pain killers, methamphetamines, etc. - and distributed them at cost or free under medical supervision, billions would be saved, crime and government corruption would fall dramatically, and thousands of lives would be spared; 120,000 Mexicans died in drug cartel wars in the past five years alone to feed our habit. Drugs play a huge part in our 38,000 suicides and 11,000 homicides annually, the horrific collateral damage of our war on drugs.

Humans die painfully, not like in video games.

When you’re in a hole, stop digging.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Our Little Guy, Buddy Dog, is Gone

We put sweet little Buddy down Friday. He had a stroke a week ago Friday that messed up his balance, but then for several days he recovered very well. However, late Wednesday evening he had another, worse stroke, and couldn't walk at all. 

Buddy's vet, Dr. Bohne came to our house early yesterday afternoon. We were cuddling him in his favorite spot, on his bed in our bedroom. We had been petting and cuddling him every waking moment for over a day, and Buddy loved it. Buddy likes Dr. Bohne, and was happy to see him. Dr. Bohne was very kind and sweet, and within moments Buddy was asleep. We kept petting him and talking to him for awhile, and then carried him to his grave I had dug the day before on a sunny knoll in view of our bedroom window. Buddy was long and tall, and he still weighed 70 pounds. I would dig awhile, stop, come in and pet Buddy, notice how big he was, and go out and dig some more. 

Besides us, Buddy's good friend, Kathy our gardner, was with us, and was petting Buddy too when he was put down. We gave a tearful little ceremony, just me reading a sweet poem a friend had sent, our eyes filled with tears, my voice sometimes failing.

We left Buddy's collar and tags on him, and put a bowl, a leash and a tennis ball by him so he would always have some of his things with him. Then I filled his grave and put a temporary grave stone with his name and approximate date of birth – April 1997 – and death, Feb. 22, 2013. 

Later I went by the vets office, and the ladies at work there started crying when I came in. Buddy was one of their favorites, he loved going to the vet, and he always went to each of them for some attention and a treat.

Even when he couldn't walk anymore, he never seemed to be in pain.

We have many things we are grateful for. Our years with Buddy were wonderful, and as he neared death, our friends and neighbors have been here for us and for Buddy. While I was away a few days, Randy Jones, Chuck Cappotto, Brent Klopfer, and Joel Chaban helped Alice walk Buddy, and get him up and down our stairs. Alice is so grateful that we didn't have to put Buddy in a kennel or pet hospital while I was gone. For all his life with us, he was either with us or friends and family. If you ever saw Buddy in our house, you know how special that was to him.

Alice and I have picked up our routines again  – having routines is wonderful – but we've been distracted and every now and then I just look out the window at Buddy's grave, and sigh. But then we smile at a memory of Buddy's sweet, playful spirit.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Gay Marriage is a Non-Issue

Gay marriage should be a non-issue. Government has no business being in the marriage business; remember separation of church and state? In this instance, all government should be involved in is domestic partnership contracts, and all who desire a formalized contractual relationship with another would have to meet legal contractual requirements: basically that each party to the contract has the legal capacity to sign a contract - meet minimum age and mental capacity standards. Of course, individuals may live together without a contract, have children and raise them, and purchase property, and it seems today that such arrangements are more common than marriage or contractual alternatives.

As far as marriage itself, it is a religious act. If any couple can find a church that will marry them, may their gods go with them.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Immigration Reform Made Easy

I appalled some conservatives at a fun get-together when I mentioned my immigration reform plan was basically to throw open our borders. We can't secure our borders first, then do something to reform immigration, because trying to secure our enormous border with Mexico is futile; it’s never worked, it never will.

A recent study showed that every 100 foreign-born skilled workers with advanced degrees from U.S. universities produced an additional 262 jobs for native-born workers. When they are here legally, they also pay more taxes, use less welfare, register and insure their cars, get drivers' licenses, buy more homes, commit fewer crimes, are victims of fewer crimes, &etc. 

New immigrants, and Illegal immigrants with clean records, should have legal status and be eligible for citizenship after five years.

We can’t control our border with Mexico effectively, and why try? We need their labor; it’s good for our economy, even from unskilled and uneducated laborers. Why not give everyone legal status and invite in all countries’ best and brightest? Most foreigners who are skilled and educated face waiting periods of 10 years or longer just to gain entry. They can't become illegal aliens and sneak in, because the work they are best qualified to do, and the investments they could make, require legal status.

We need to get out of the immigration box for the good of our country. Forget parties; unions have stuck their wholly owned subsidiary, the Democrat Party, in its own immigration box. They don't want a flood of highly skilled, educated, entrepreneurial people, they want ones they can control and organize into unions and reliable voting blocks. Success in our free economy is bad for unions, but good for the country.

To Thayer Walker: Never-a-skeptic Richard Muller says most climate change skepticism is valid:

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Great Grist Battle of 2013

This has been a great week for anthropogenic global warming skeptics, like yours truly. The long period without global warming, 17 years and counting, is taking a toll on alarmists, and they are starting to ratchet down predictions of catastrophic warming to much lower, although still ridiculous, levels. Some were summarily cut in half, from 9° Fahrenheit by 2100 to 4.5°F. The decelerating rate of sea level rise, measured decreasing from 3 millimeters per year (12 inches per century) to half that, also makes it hard to support the “expert” projections for over five feet by 2100. To reach five feet by 2100, the rate of rise would have to suddenly increase by 11.3 times its present value and be sustained at that level for 88 years. Such an increase has not been seen even during the 30°F warming at the end of the Younger Dryas 12,000 to 8,000 years ago, when sea level rose an average of 4.5 feet per century and there were huge ice caps at low altitudes all over the Northern Hemisphere to melt. 

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I have especially enjoyed a two-week exchange of comments to an article in Grist Magazine: "How to respond to people who say the cold weather disproves global warming." As soon as I read the article I got excited, because while the author wrote with a  superior, condescending tone, his science didn't even meet middle-school standards. However, that didn't stop him from having many defenders amongst the Grist readership, who tend to be both leftist and climate alarmist. Grist comments luminaries such as "frflyer", J4zonian", and "TomSparc" leaped upon each of my comments with cut-and-paste commentary from alarmist websites such as "SkepticalScience" and "RealClimate", while exhibiting ignorance of climate history and basic physics while demonstrating poor reading comprehension. In my own comments I refuted theirs while always trying to support my points with charts and graphs. I had a huge advantage in that regard, since my research has led me to the many available to serious natural climate change students, and so few for alarmists. Understandable, because it's hard to chart baloney.

(click to enlarge)

This odd comment, which struck me as their defiant surrender to my tireless scientific rebuttals and an appeal to alarmist religious Gaia fervor, was posted by "J4zonian" and seemed to end my Grist battle: “Fellow Grist readers: We have responded. We've disproven every post this person has made, pointed out lies or errors and (he) has proved (himself) impervious to facts, reason, knowledge and science. (He) continues to post deceptive cherry-picked denialist nonsense devoid of context and when refuted simply moves on to other lies. (He) is comitting (sic) what will certainly come to be known as a crime against humanity and even more serious, Gaia. (He) and (his) sock puppets or fellow dupes and shills have zero credibility here. I'm not really concerned about others here believing the nonsense; more about (his) well-being.
Climate Catastrophe is real, happening, and human-caused. Unless we take massive, rapid action in the next 10-20 years at the very most it will destroy civilization, very likely cause the extinction of humans along with millions of other species and could possibly end all life on Earth by killing Gaia, the cooperative system of all life on Earth that regulates the conditions it needs to survive.
We must switch now to efficiency, solar, wind, low-meat local organic permaculture and reforest the world while equalizing our incomes and impacts, globally at a comfortablem (sic) sufficient level for all. This would still lead to a drastically reduced impact for humanity as a whole and would allow us to survive long enough to reduce population (the work of centuries) and heal psychologically.”

My reaction to this ringing manifesto began: "Gristers of the World, Unite!" Throughout my comments I reviewed the natural climate change history during many distant and recent periods, showing cycles of regular cooling and warming that have marched evenly through the past 900,000 years, and six cycles of cooling and diminishing warming during the past 10,000 years. I used charts of temperatures, sea level rise, hurricane and tornado frequency and strength, wildfire trends showing we are experiencing the lowest for 3,000 years, glacier retreat, agricultural productivity for warmer weather and higher CO2, and a lot more. Many of their response began by noting that I was dumb, idiotic, a fool, bent upon the destruction of humanity, and on the payroll of oil companies. If I was being paid by Big Oil, I wonder why they would want me to exterminate their customers, and I also wonder where are they sending my checks?

(click to enlarge)

To my embattled Grist opponents, please heed the words of Mark Twain: “Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”

Republicans Should Lead Immigration Reform

Bill Bennett's speech on the state of Republicanism is a great speech!

Republicans, like Pogo, have met the enemy and it is us.

We are what we are characterized as, the party of No, because we haven't put together a coherent plan of action, only knee-jerk reaction.

I appalled some Republicans at a fun get-together when I mentioned my plan was basically to throw open our borders to anyone with a clean record and the desire to work, invest, and/or innovate. What we are doing now is the reverse of sensible immigration policy. We can't secure our borders first, then do something, because it's impossible to secure our enormous border with Mexico, and after almost a century of futility, it seems we would know that and not make it a precondition to doing anything substantive about immigration. It just makes us look like all we can do is  employ delaying tactics.

A recent study shows that every 100 new immigrants produce over 250 new jobs. When they are here legally, they also pay more taxes, use less welfare, register their cars, insure their cars, get drivers' licenses, buy more homes, commit fewer crimes, are victims of fewer crimes, &etc. 

When an immigrant with a clean background comes in, they should get a green card if they want one. No questions asked. If they don't commit crimes and stay off welfare, learn English and American government and history, they should be candidates for citizenship after 5 years. Of course, anyone here now illegally would have to start the five years when given a permanent legal status too.

Our system right now cannot be changed to the point where we can control our border with Mexico effectively, so why try? We need their labor, it is good for our economy, even though they are unskilled and uneducated. Get everyone established in a legal status, and open up coming here to other country's best and brightest , to join those already here. Foreigns who are skilled and educated are on very tight quotas and face waiting periods up to 10 years or longer. They can't take the illegal alien approach and sneak in, because the work they are  best qualified to do, and the investments they could bring, can only be accomplished with legal status.

We need to get out of the immigration box, and the Democrats are stuck in one too. They don't want a flood of highly skilled, educated, entrepreneurial people, they want the ones they can control and organize into reliable voting blocks. Success in our free economy hurts the Democrats, and they know it would help Republicans.

Republicans are like Forty Niners

The state of the Republican Party right now reminds me of the 49ers in the Super Bowl: a great team victimized by their own choices. I’m sure most of you (except Alice) suffered agony as I did, particularly during the last two minutes of the game. The Niners had the ball first and goal on Baltimore’s seven-yard line. In the 49er backfield were two of the best ball carriers in the National Football League, Frank Gore and Colin Kaepernick, facing the mediocre Baltimore run defense (ranked 19th of 32 teams). The 49ers were 4th in the NFL running the ball, 23rd in passing. Gore had already run the ball 19 times for 110 yards, an average of almost six yards per carry, and Kaepernick had seven carries for 62 yards, almost nine yards per carry. The first 49er play was a run by LaMichael James, who is fast but not a power runner, which gained two yards to the five-yard line. Simple math shows us that if you run three more times, and only gain two yards per run, on the fourth down you score the Super Bowl winning touchdown.

That’s not what the 49ers did. They tried three short passes to the right, each time to Michael Crabtree, the receiver the Ravens knew would be the target for over half of 49er short-yardage passes near the goal line. This neatly fit Einstein’s definition of insanity: keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome each time. When the fourth-down pass fell incomplete, the camera switched to Jim Harbaugh on the sideline, screaming for a holding call or pass interference.

Jim, never let someone else decide your fate.

What has this to do with the Republican Party? A lot.

The strength of Republicanism is our opposition to wasteful government. In the recent past that has gained us the support of a majority of American voters and given us the political power we need to change things. Unfortunately, instead of change in keeping with our conservative ideals, power went to our leaders’ heads and Republicans became almost as bad as Democrats. Like the 49ers, we “stopped dancing with who brung us.” This led many voters to ponder the reason for voting for a Republican who was just like the Democrat. You might as well vote for the real thing instead of a pseudo-Republican. This created a conservative backlash against Republican leadership, spawning the Tea Party more as a threat to Republicans than Democrats. As a result, several candidates won Republican primaries who had no chance of winning the general election. It didn’t help that several of these candidates seemed to go out of their way to make really stupid remarks about issues that were certain to alienate women, minorities, and moderates.

“Well, if they don’t like it, they don’t have to vote for me.” And they didn’t. We lost four or five Senate seats that should have been easy wins. And good Republican that I have been from my first vote in 1964, I would have had a hard time holding my nose and voting for Republicans who were prone to making really dumb remarks. “Let them think you’re a fool; don’t open your mouth and prove it.”

Instead of taking charge, Republicans have been like Harbaugh, desperate for the officials to throw a flag. Or in Obamacare, for a Supreme Court “Hail Mary”. If Republicans had taken care of business, growing and strengthening the economy, we would not have fallen into such dire circumstances. We would have come off a strong George Bush presidency resembling his first six years, not his last two. We would have had a strong, principled candidate instead of John McCain’s wishy, washy positions, too conservative for some, not conservative enough for others, not understandable by anyone. An incumbent Republican who took on the tough issues in immigration, Social Security, health care, and income taxation instead of avoiding them would have won reelection in a landslide, and brought even more Republicans into the House and Senate, and eventually have more conservatives in the Supreme Court.

Republicans have won solidly at the state level, with 30 Republican governors and 23 states where Republicans also control the legislatures. Republicans have a sound foundation for future success. They just have to learn to call better plays when it counts.