Ruminations: God, guns, and drugs; praise the Lord and pass the .40 caliber ammunition
Accusing Obama of socialism is unwise for three reasons: 1) It's not true, and 2) it makes the accuser sound like an idiot, and 3) it distracts from Obama's true inclinations, which are worrisome enough.
These days, no one believes in socialism -- defined by the late, left-wing economist Robert Heilbroner as "a centrally planned economy in which the government controls all means of production." A socialist wouldn't favor government aid to the automakers or the banks. He'd propose that the government take them over and run them for the benefit of society. But you haven't heard Obama or anyone else suggest that.
The president-elect is not unaware of the superiority of capitalism. His book "The Audacity of Hope" contains a testimonial that could have been plagiarized from Ayn Rand: "Our Constitution places the ownership of private property at the very heart of our system of liberty. The result of this business culture has been a prosperity that's unmatched in human history. Our greatest asset has been our system of social organization, a system that for generations has encouraged constant innovation, individual initiative and the efficient allocation of resources."
Of course Obama believes the government should do more to help the poor and vulnerable. If redistributing wealth makes you a socialist, though, you have to apply that label to the legendary libertarian economist Milton Friedman, who proposed a "negative income tax" to assure everyone basic sustenance.
It's weirdly like what I saw in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Empire, only the opposite sequence; a period of intense jubilation, a shout of "Great God Almighty free at last!" followed by a period of intense depression and pessimism, "Omigod look at the mess we've got to clean up!"
In this case it's "We're doomed, we're doomed!" followed by "Whew! Maybe we've dodged the bullet again."
*Chapman goes on to point out that Obama's willingness to "experiment" and his admiration for FDR is worrisome. It is now generally, if sometimes grudgingly admitted among economists, that FDR's constant "experimenting" with the economy prolonged the Depression until WWII lifted the country out of it.
A "cure" Robert Heinlein once described as, "Masking the symptoms with a high fever."
People with capital didn't dare invest it anywhere because they just didn't know what the heck the government was going to do next.
*And speaking of war, notice that Obama has negotiated an agreement with the Iraqi government to stay another three years?
Well that's only a little more than twice as long as the 16 months he promised it would take him to pull us out during the campaign.
The fact is, no non-incumbent presidential candidate can safely make foreign policy promises before he gets that first intelligence briefing with the threat assessments and secret stuff the rest of us aren't allowed to know about.
*Case in point. Remember that non-existent yellowcake uranium that was at the center of the Iraq WMD controversy and Valerie Plame affair?
Well, 550 metric tons of it are being processed for use in Canadian nuclear reactors even as we speak. It's been in the MSM, it just didn't get shouted from the rooftops. In fact, the underwhelming interest in the story is kind of... overwhelming.
Apparently U.S. forces found it some time ago, and have been sitting on it all along. Bush could have used the info to defend his war, but didn't because he was advised not to for security reasons, until it could be gotten out of Iraq.
By then of course, it was too late to do his reputation any good.
I sure hope the Canadians are giving us a break on the price of electricity from those reactors.
I wonder what would have happened if we'd had the reactors to use it in?
Would we have been accused of "going to war to steal Iraq's uranium?"
*One of the startling, and to some reassuring things Obama did, was appoint Rahm Emmanuael his chief of staff.
This was reassuring to Jews and gentile supporters of Israel who were worried (or who should have been) about Obama's penchant for hanging around with PLO types.
Emmanuel is the son of an Israeli sabra, and actually went to Israel to volunteer during one of their unpleasantnesses with their neighbors. He had a non-combatant position with one of those designations that says something innocuous like "mechanic" but screams "intelligence."
However, for those of us of libertarian bent who thought we were going to get at least something out of this administration, it turns out he's an ardent Drug Warrior.
Damn it, it's been years since revelations that a president's son smoked pot in the White House, a Republican president's son at that! We've just had eight years of a president who's known to have done pot and blow in his youth, though he denied it. Now we've got a president-elect who freely admits he smoked reefer and snorted coke in his college days.
If you'd told me in 1970 we'd still be locking people up for blowing reefer in the Year of Our Lord 2008 - I'd have laughed in your face.
I guess you'd have had the last laugh about now.
*One of the things some find worrisome about Obama is his attitude towards guns.
Columnist (and professor of criminology) Mike Adams said in response to claims that Obama would establish tyranny over America, "No he won't, because the 46% who voted for McCain are arming themselves to the hilt."
(Mixed metaphor, unless he meant they're all going out and buying swords. "I'll give up my broadsword when they pry my cold dead hands off the hilt.")
I've read anecdotal accounts that gun buying is wa-a-a-ay up, so I asked around local dealers.
It's not a large sample, but what I've heard is you can't get an assault rifle for love or money. I'm afraid the days of $100 Kalashnikovs are over.
I did find out however, that a company I'd never heard of called Hi-point, makes a well-reviewed automatic, available in .380, 9mm, .40 (the now-common police cartridge, with a 10-round magazine) and .45. Prices are around $200 retail.
I've seen Colt .45 Commanders priced at a thousand dollars in pawnshops! And a Ruger .45 I saw was $400 used.
I guess Hi-Point is the new Ruger, formerly the source of cheaper good-quality guns.
The only negative thing I've read so far is, they're kind of funny-looking. (And as I look at them, I kind of wonder if that's the model they used for the futuristic-looking guns Christian Bale kicked butt with in 'Equilibrium.')
Well, that and they don't have a slide release. That means when the last shot in the clip is fired, the slide locks back, like every automatic. But when you shove a new clip in you can't just push the slide release with your thumb and let it slam shut while chambering a new cartridge. (A very cool-looking move you must admit.) You have to pull the slide back with your off hand.
I think one could live with that. (Play on words intended.) If you're in the deep doo-doo and emptying a ten-round clip, you'd damn well better be firing from cover.
*One thing that did change in this election is, the pols are no longer following the rules of civilized gang warfare.
With politics as with the traditional Mafia, there was a rule that could be stated, "If you're not a player, you're not a target."
We saw that change with Joe the Plumber.
That can't be good.
*In this months issue of Smithsonian magazine, there's an article on the Sufis in Pakistan.
I've mentioned previously I'm a cheerful agnostic. Though I respect the Judeo-Christain tradition at its best, I haven't got an opinion on religious dogma I'd stick a finger in a match for.
What I haven't gone into before is, a religious tradition that interests me deeply, is Sufism.
This might come as a surprise to those who know my opinion of Islamic jihadism and our war against it. Unless you know that the jihadists consider the Sufis as heretics even more worthy of death than kaffirs like us.
Most of my knowledge of Sufism comes from the English-language writings of Idris Shah, and I have no way of knowing if he's a "typical" Sufi, or if that adjective has any meaning when talking about the People of the Path.
I mean to write more about this in the future, but for now, the Smithsonian article does not delve deeply into Sufism, but it's interesting.