Fake News

The big news of fake news is fading as we have come to accept that we really have no idea what is going on, at least when it comes to national and international issues.

I try to focus on what an authority has admitted or proclaimed, rather than on an accusation from someone else. For instance, Hillary Clinton said that if she is in charge she would ignore ideology and utilize practicality in policy decisions. I heard this on the radio but never found the quote on paper or online. Find a way to explain how the ends justifying the means has proven to be beneficial long term.

The idea that mainstream media is more reliable than alternative sources may be comfortable but it still reeks of uncertainty.

There are many times through history that mainstream reports have been proven wrong. Some reports we hear of past events are dismissed as “revisionist history.” But the beauty of a second look is that it can reveal the truth as well as distortions.

One instance of a lazy media simply reading a press release with no vetting of the facts is when The New York Times reported August 5, 1964, “President Johnson has ordered retaliatory attacks against gunboats and ‘certain supporting facilities in North Vietnam’ after renewed attacks against American destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin.” Vietnamese gunboats never attacked a U.S. Destroyer. Poor reporting by so-called respected media cost almost 60,000 American, and millions of Vietnamese lives. Public opinion favored a war based on lies.

The initial report in the New York Times about the famous My Lai massacre of March 16, 1968 stated, “American troops caught a North Vietnamese force… killing 128 enemy soldiers in daylong fighting.” It was not until November 20, 1969 that we learned that 507 women, children, and old men had been gunned down along other unspeakable acts. (There were heroes on the scene, by the way. Among them was Hugh Thompson, who saw the carnage from a helicopter and landed to stand in front of surviving villagers, daring “C” Company to take him out as well.)

Just think, it was twenty months that the lies in the New York Times were taken to be truth.

I found a shocking admission in a New York Times editorial of May 26, 2004. There is a long list of stories presented as gospel that were later debunked. I’ve got to praise The Times for admitting this.

The Times admitted that much of their reporting leading up to and during the invasion of Iraq, “depended at least in part on information from a circle of Iraqi informants, defectors, and exiles bent on “regime change” in Iraq.”

Articles based on dire claims about Iraq tended to get prominent display, while follow-up articles that called the original ones into question were sometimes buried. In some cases, there was no follow-up at all.”

So the chaos, death, and ongoing destruction in the Middle East can be blamed, to a large extent, on a media who copies and pastes press releases before it investigates the facts. The Times doesn’t have an exclusive here. William Randolph Hearst is well known to have fabricated news to his own and his cronies benefit many years ago.

The important lesson here to is have our government restrained from such impulsive action through constitutional process instead of having Congress, in a way as lazy as the media, pass their responsibility off to an executive branch that is not even close to prepared for such important decisions. A debate in Congress among representatives who will have to look in the eyes of constituents as history unfolds could possibly insulate us from a media that has proven itself incapable of enabling a fully informed electorate.

It’s Rightly Called Stealing

In an unsigned editorial I read these words: “Public education is a guaranteed right to any child in the U.S., paid for by the American taxpayer.”

I could go on about adhering to the Constitution or the evils of socialism, but then readers would cease thinking. My opposition to a right to an education is based on what is best for the children and the common good of the country. A right to an education must take away the rights of others unless that right to an education falls from above, like Mr. Bean.

A right that depends on removing another right can hardly be called a right. It is more rightly called stealing. But the precedent has been set. The collective is now on the hook for any so-called right that can be dreamed up. Politics is easier money than productive work. The fact that the cost of this loot is nearly invisible does not make it go away.

Every activity we engage in has a point where we must decide whether it is worth it or not. As the collective is tapped to fund the growing number of rights, our pool of wealth is depleted and what was once affordable, becomes out of reach. It is easy to see this in our daily lives.

In addition to the shrinking pool of wealth available for education, there is the lack of a vetting process involving the direct interests of parents and children. In a system that supplies a right enforced by the state, the needs of the kids are mostly guessed at and generalized.

An education system that requires willing buyers and sellers requires a product worth buying. That would be the basis of a good education as opposed to a system where retaining jobs in the education establishment is the goal. I don’t doubt that teachers in public education have the best interest of the kids at heart, but the market is the best tool for determining where the teacher resource is delegated.

Life is full of compromises. In a small community like ours it would be ridiculous to have a school for each family’s needs. But who cares most for the children? If the school isn’t fulfilling the needs of a student but needed the tuition to make a profit, there would be incentive for the school and parents to make adjustments for those special needs or wants.

With the technology we have today, teachers would more easily make those adjustments without one-size-fits-all standards and funding.

Statistics do show that many countries with a declared right to an education are outperforming the United States. What is not seen is how this country would perform with an education system based totally on free choice of funding and attendance. The indoctrination process called education has made us complacent in the face of corporate control and endless war.

If enforcement of rights that also remove rights worked so well, why not simply enforce a right to an intact and loving family? That would do more good than a right to indoctrination, er, education.

Letter to Popular Mechanics

Popular Mechanics had a short article about treasures that are yet to be found.

Dear Editor,

In Great Unknowns (March Pop. Mech.) you mention the absence of the discovery of “an honest politician.” The answer lies two articles back, in the one about One Eight Distillery, named after Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. You state that Section Eight gives congress the power to establish a capital. But it also enumerates all other powers of congress. Amendment Ten limits Congress to those delegated powers.

Every politician who has sworn to uphold and defend that document has violated that pledge by expanding the role of congress except one. That makes Ron Paul a very valuable treasure, yet undiscovered by most people who believe the Constitution is merely a suggestion.

 

Love,

Fritz Groszkruger

 

Letter from and to my sister, who sold her Jetta back to VW.

I didn’t hear that they will be crushing the buyback cars. Is that true? I figured they would do the “fix” on them and resell them. I’m sorry, but I still feel I did the right thing. How could I pass us getting over $20,000 for a 5-6 yr. old car and buying one I like better. I thought I loved my Jetta, but I love my Prius more. I get the same mileage. It rides much more comfortably. It holds the road just as well. I do however very much miss the pick up ability of the turbo engine. I miss the heated seats but the Prius heats up faster so it’s 50/50 there. I do prefer the steering wheel cover and leatherette seats of the VW. But I have more and more versatile cargo space in my Prius (but I didn’t have the wagon so…). Both are the same red, so I like the color of both.

So there you have it, whatever that is…. 🙂
Nancie

Ånswer:

No need to defend your choice. I do like the more uprightness of the V. And I’ll never own anything but a wagon. Actually, I doubt we’ll have to buy another car before we die.

Roadholding means something different to me, I suppose. If you were to try to avoid a muffler laying in the road, do you really think the V would go where you point it as well as the Jetta?
On the crushing, from what I hear, which isn’t much, the ones with DEF could be fixed with a computer change of some sort. The ones like yours would require adding DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) that is injected into the exhaust to magically reduce particulates. Our wagon doesn’t have independent rear suspension so it can accommodate the 4 gallon DEF tank. Extensive bodywork would have to be done to retrofit the tank and plumbing ect to a car like your Jetta. Probably thousands of dollars, thus the thought they may be crushed. There are big parking lots all over the country full of these cars waiting.
When you hear “up to 40 times the allowable limit” on VW’s NOx emissions you have to put that in perspective. Idling, full acceleration, decelerating are all circumstances of extreme and momentary conditions that cause variable emissions. The language is used by extremist nut-cases who envy people who are more skilled or productive than themselves and want the government to make things fair, in their minds.
The NAZIs did the same thing to the Jews in their quest for power. Jews were prosperous, as a group and portrayed as exploiters. An easy target for a people hamstrung by the conditions imposed by the surrender of Germany following WWI (no exports were allowed and they were expected to pay reparations and rebuild and form a productive economy from the ashes of the war.
Here, today, the unions and corporate alliance of U.S. industry and government  saw VW as a threat. It was just in the Hindustan Times (not here of course) that VW passed Toyota as the largest car maker in the world last year in spite of the Dieselgate scandal.

800 Miles on a Tank

We just took a road trip to South Dakota to fetch an old VW Jetta. It’s really not something we need but who needs a ski boat or a tuba either? It’s a collector car. The 2003 Jetta TDI is a unique car and as our mail lady says, “It’s a diesel!”

My interest in Volkswagens began in high school. There were two directions from which to choose. U.S. made muscle cars were in their heyday in the sixties. But some of my mom’s post depression era frugalness rubbed off on me. I wasn’t going to be pouring a bunch of 25-cent gas through a vehicle if I could help it. I could build surfboards with the cash I saved. Besides, trying to carve the canyon roads around Southern California with a battleship isn’t nearly as fun as lifting a front wheel and proving Ralph Nader wrong.

The sellers of the Jetta, Chris and Sharon, are like us. They get to work together in their own business. They live just over the border from the dying state of Minnesota and were selling the car to finance an expansion of that business.

Job creation is something that happens more frequently in South Dakota than in Minnesota. Minnesotans like controlling other people and that doesn’t breed confidence in future plans. For instance, Minnesota has a 9.85% income tax rate. South Dakota has none. If you were to choose, would you prefer being a slave through 9.85% of your workday or a free man?

Minnesotans like to tell drivers what kind of fuel they may buy as well. A ten percent biodiesel blend is forced on drivers in Minnesota. While searching for our ideal show car, I learned that many diesel owners in Minneapolis drive to Wisconsin to fuel up in order to preserve their expensive injection systems. Is it worth it that a few soybean farmers and indoctrinated faux-environmentalists will be happy?

In a ten year period of high tax and draconian government control, Minnesota has seen a 3% growth in the number of wealthy taxpayers (otherwise known as chumps and victims of thievery). On the other hand, South Dakota, with fuel choice and no income tax, showed nearly a 24% increase in that demographic. Have you ever been hired by a poor person?

Favors to influential groups cost the public in unseen ways. The warped minds of statists like to look at these favors as economic development that “broadens the tax base.” But pretty soon the chumps wise up and cut back. Minnesota is seeing reductions in tax revenues through relocation and attrition of job creators. Now what? Raise rates on the remaining productive class on their way to bankruptcy?

What would an article about a Volkswagen and government waste be without the following conclusion?

Almost 600,000 excellent cars will soon be crushed because they were engineered to evade an arbitrary standard that any scientist would tell you doesn’t cure the problem it was written to address. The 2009 Cash For Clunkers Program took affordable cars out of the hands of poor people to benefit unions and car companies. The VW Dieselgate scandal makes that program look infinitesimally less destructive.

So once again, it’s cui bono (who benefits)? Much energy will be used and pollution produced while transporting and crushing the perfectly good cars. The replacement cars will be produced by someone (likely union labor since VW workers, coincidentally, voted out the union in Chattanooga). The replacement cars will burn 30% more fuel, so fuel sales will increase.

Who pays (quis solvit)? You do.

You’d Think Allah Was Coming to Town

Conflicts of Interest

I’m writing this on the day of Trump’s inauguration. Across the board, Inauguration Day is thought of as a great day for our nation, for our democracy. A pageant. Play “Hail to the Chief.” I’m looking forward to the YouTube of Erin Boehme singing “My Way” for the Trumps’ dance as an alternative to the disgusting worship of state and executive power signified by all the expensive hoopla. Long forgotten is the fact that our government was founded to secure the rights endowed by our Creator, not granted by our government.

Leading up to this day, the papers, air waves, and internet are crammed with commentary about conflicts of interest with the new administration as if it is a new thing. I’ve got to admit, for example if the band-aids of ethics rules were to be enforced, Senator Tom Price wouldn’t just be out of consideration for Secretary of Health and Human Services, he’d be breaking rocks. We lack the prison space necessary for a broader crack-down.

The focus on one NPR program by former officials of the Bush and Obama administrations was about Trump putting all his assets into a blind trust, as if that would eliminate any influence on decisions coming from the White House. Wait a second. Wouldn’t he get the assets back after he leaves office? If he knows one asset in the trust is a hotel in Qatar, blind trust or not, he’d consider Qatar our indispensable ally. George Washington had something to say about that in his farewell address.

As long as our government has agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services, the bait is too attractive to ever avoid conflicts of interest.

What is so bad about a conflict of interest anyway? If we are so darned concerned, we need to assess why. It isn’t just hatred for naughty people as the predominant theme in the media dictates. Tom Price’s legislation favoring one direction in health care over another drives up costs for you and me. But overlooked is our involvement in the Middle East for example, that subsidizes petroleum energy. This has stifled interest in alternative sources of petroleum or types of energy, for decades. The costs of this example and other unseen disruptions of our economy have had real impact on our incomes and lifestyles.

I looked up the executive branch positions Trump has to fill to see what other conflicts of interest might pop up and came to realize that the federal government is simply one big conflict of interest. There are almost 700 positions left to fill besides the nominees we know already, which number 30. Each of these positions requires Senate approval. It gets to looking pretty complicated. And an ethics commission delegated to ferret out conflicts of interest would have to be exponentially larger than the number of bureaucrats it oversees. Bureaucrats upon bureaucrats equals negative productivity.

This issue is addressed in the Constitution as it attempts to limit the role of government, but as Senator Charles Grassley told me, the courts have evolved its meaning and left us defenseless.

Once again we are reminded why we were intended to be a union of individual states. I remember when we first moved out to the farm. One summer a very large farmer discovered he had forgotten to plant a field. If we are to prevent conflicts of interest in government, the reward needs to be eliminated because there can never be enough enforcement for such a huge apparatus.

We don’t need ambassadors or labor secretaries; and one department of defense would do. Those 690 appointments could be left unfilled and laws against theft and fraud would do the job nicely if Trump’s claimed 20% of federal layoffs were quadrupled. It isn’t the government’s money; it’s ours.