The Ravings of Richard Nash
Monday, July 14, 2003
While You Were Sleeping
When there is a crisis, people react to protect themselves and their families. The problem is that, sometimes, if you wait until there is a crisis, it’s too late. The time to act is before the crisis, so that when events come to a head, you’re prepared and able to act in an effective manner. Take auto insurance for example. You buy insurance before the car wreck, to help in case it happens. If you wait to buy insurance until after the crash, it won’t help you.
This is obvious to everyone. What isn’t obvious to everyone is how we are letting politicians erode our rights, now, while things are peaceful and there is no crisis. Then, when a crisis ensues, it’s too late. We can’t react to protect ourselves and our families.
An example is the Rodney King riots of 1992 in California. When they took place, many Californians suddenly realized that they needed the tools to protect themselves from mindless violence, because the police were unable to protect them. So, they decided to buy a gun. They were shocked to find out that they could buy a gun, all right, but had to wait fifteen days until they could pick it up, rendering it completely ineffective to protect themselves or their families in the current crisis!
Another example is that of New Yorkers following September 11, 2001. In the aftermath of the World Trade Center attack, many New Yorkers felt the need to purchase a gun for protection, only to find that the City of New York requires them to apply for a permit before they can purchase one. The time to process their application can take up to eight months, as it was for Andrew Stuttaford. (Read his story at
Andy, Get Your Gun . It is truly enlightening.) New Yorkers were shocked, amazed and dismayed to find out how difficult it is for them to exercise a right guaranteed them in the Constitution of the United States!
Why? Because before there was a crisis, while the citizens were sleeping, the legislators passed laws and made rules that took away the people’s rights!
Are you awake yet?
Feedback? As always, I welcome your opposing (or whatever) viewpoint! RANash@Yahoo.com.
Tuesday, July 01, 2003
I was listening to talk radio the other day, when the host and a caller got into a shouting match over the Bush tax cuts. The caller kept saying that the tax cuts were wrong because they "subsidized the rich at the expense of the poor." The host just called the caller a communist. I changed the station. I wasn't getting any enlightenment and I wearied of the yelling.
It made me think, however, about people's perceptions regarding the tax cuts. Are they really "subsidizing the rich at the expense of the poor?" If you look at life with a certain point of view, then, yes! They are "subsidizing the rich at the expense of the poor!"
So what kind of world view does it take to see the tax cuts as a gift to the rich to the detriment of the poor? It seems to me that it requires the following presuppositions:
First, I'm not responsible for myself, "society" is responsible for me. A closely related corollary is; Although I'm responsible for myself, they are not. "Society" is responsible for them. With this kind of thinking, it is logical to be upset if someone, like George W. Bush, is taking money out of the pot from which my needs (or theirs) are being met. It's tantamount to stealing!
Second, When society gives me something, it's not a gift, it's an entitlement or a right. It's an interesting phenomenon of human nature that if a person receives a gift from another long enough and regularly enough, the gift stops being perceived as a gift, but becomes a right. Then, if the gift is not given in the same amount or on schedule, the recipient demands it!
Some time back, during a period of exceptional busyness, my wife hired a couple to come in and clean our house. When they first came, they worked diligently and industriously and my wife, impressed, gave them a nice tip. The next time they came, they didn't work nearly so hard, but, she tipped them again anyway. The next time they came, they shorted the time and did a very perfunctory job. She paid them less, because the time they worked was shorter, and she didn't tip them. They were incensed! In their minds, the tip wasn't a gift given to reward good work, but an entitlement, a right! Needless to say, they weren't invited back.
With these kinds of presuppositions, it is perfectly logical to be upset with the tax cuts. The question is, are these suppositions logical?
Imagine that you went to the theater to see a play. The theater has a variety of seats, with differing prices. The seats closest to the stage cost more ($50) and the seats farther from the stage cost less ($15). Some seats, in fact, have been reserved for people who cannot afford to pay at all! The theater, in an act of civic-mindedness, allows some of the less fortunate to see the play for free at each showing.
The audience is settling into their seats, when suddenly the house manager comes on stage to announce that due to a catastrophic problem the play must be cancelled! He apologizes for the inconvenience, and but assures everyone that they will receive a full refund. Tell me, is it be logical for someone who came in for free to be angry that others received money back while they didn't get any money?
Feedback? As always, I welcome your opposing (or whatever) viewpoint! RANash@Yahoo.com.
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Beware of Superstitious Thinking
Some people theorize that the origins of superstitions worked like this: A man is out walking one day and a black cat, quite frightened and all “fluffed up” like cats can get, yowling loudly, calling attention to itself, runs across his path. Then, a few moments later, the man trips over a rock, falling and hurting himself.
Other people observe all this, and being ignorant and lazy in their thinking, put the two together (the cat and the fall) as cause and effect. Now, of course, there really might be a cause-and-effect relationship between the cat and the fall, if, in fact, the man fell because he wasn’t watching where he was going because he was looking at the cat! If that wasn’t the case, however, then to blame the fall on the cat is to be superstitious.
Now, maybe the above is a simplistic explanation for a superstition. However the superstition came about, it gives lazy minds an easy explanation for an event, and an easy solution. There is no need to investigate the cause of the fall. No need to find out who left the rock in the path where it didn’t belong. No need, even, to exhort one to watch one’s step! Just blame it on the cat! So the Society to Eliminate Falls begins to call for the eradication of cats. That will solve the problem!
What does this silly little story have to do with anything? Well, there are a lot, and I mean a lot, of people who let this superstitious kind of thinking determine their decision making process! Want some examples? Let’s start by looking at some “superstitions”:
Breaking a mirror will bring seven years of bad luck.
Friday the Thirteenth is an unlucky day.
All problems with our public schools are due to a lack of funding.
Banning guns will lower crime.
Ooh. Didn’t like those last two, eh? Why, those aren’t superstitions! Those are true! Everyone knows that, don’t they?
Certain ideas are thrown at us with such repetition and by so many sources; the media, our teachers, our churches, etc., that we just begin to assume the truth of the notion. And, it’s the easy thing to do! After all, it’s hard work to dig into the facts, find the opposing viewpoint and see if there is any validity to it, and buck the prevailing tides of opinion.
But, therein lies enlightenment, grasshopper!
As always, I welcome your opposing (or whatever) viewpoint! RANash@Yahoo.com.
Thursday, June 12, 2003
Did Bush Lie About Weapons of Mass Destruction?
There is an increasing chorus of criticism of the Bush and Blair administrations for either 1) relying on bad intelligence, or 2) deliberately lying, about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to justify going to war against the Saddam Hussein regime.
It is possible that the intelligence that indicated that Iraq had WMD was faulty. But to blame Bush and Blair for that is disingenuous. (Note: Disingenuous means: “not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating.” Cool word, huh?)
You see, the intelligence that was available (if it really was false) fooled everyone! Check out these quotes:
"[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs." -- From a letter signed by Joe Lieberman, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara A. Milulski, Tom Daschle, & John Kerry among others on October 9, 1998
"This December will mark three years since United Nations inspectors last visited Iraq. There is no doubt that since that time, Saddam Hussein has reinvigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition, Saddam continues to refine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a illicit missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies." -- From a December 6, 2001 letter signed by Bob Graham, Joe Lieberman, Harold Ford, & Tom Lantos among others
"Saddam's goal ... is to achieve the lifting of U.N. sanctions while retaining and enhancing Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. We cannot, we must not and we will not let him succeed." -- Madeline Albright, 1998 (Bill Clinton's Secretary of State)
"Iraq made commitments after the Gulf War to completely dismantle all weapons of mass destruction, and unfortunately, Iraq has not lived up to its agreement." -- Barbara Boxer, November 8, 2002
"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retained some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capability. Intelligence reports also indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons, but has not yet achieved nuclear capability." -- Robert Byrd, October 2002
"What is at stake is how to answer the potential threat Iraq represents with the risk of proliferation of WMD. Baghdad's regime did use such weapons in the past. Today, a number of evidences may lead to think that, over the past four years, in the absence of international inspectors, this country has continued armament programs." -- Jacques Chirac, October 16, 2002
"The community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists. If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow." -- Bill Clinton in 1998
"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security." -- Hillary Clinton, October 10, 2002
"I am absolutely convinced that there are weapons...I saw evidence back in 1998 when we would see the inspectors being barred from gaining entry into a warehouse for three hours with trucks rolling up and then moving those trucks out." -- Clinton's Secretary of Defense William Cohen in April of 2003
"Iraq is not the only nation in the world to possess weapons of mass destruction, but it is the only nation with a leader who has used them against his own people." -- Tom Daschle in 1998
"Saddam Hussein's regime represents a grave threat to America and our allies, including our vital ally, Israel. For more than two decades, Saddam Hussein has sought weapons of mass destruction through every available means. We know that he has chemical and biological weapons. He has already used them against his neighbors and his own people, and is trying to build more. We know that he is doing everything he can to build nuclear weapons, and we know that each day he gets closer to achieving that goal." -- John Edwards, Oct 10, 2002
"I share the administration's goals in dealing with Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction." -- Dick Gephardt in September of 2002
"Iraq does pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf and we should organize an international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction. Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power." -- Al Gore, 2002
"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction." -- Bob Graham, December 2002
"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction." -- Ted Kennedy, September 27, 2002
"I will be voting to give the president of the United States the authority to use force - if necessary - to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security." -- John F. Kerry
"As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am keenly aware that the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons is an issue of grave importance to all nations. Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process." -- Nancy Pelosi, December 16, 1998
"Even today, Iraq is not nearly disarmed. Based on highly credible intelligence, UNSCOM [the U.N. weapons inspectors] suspects that Iraq still has biological agents like anthrax, botulinum toxin, and clostridium perfringens in sufficient quantity to fill several dozen bombs and ballistic missile warheads, as well as the means to continue manufacturing these deadly agents. Iraq probably retains several tons of the highly toxic VX substance, as well as sarin nerve gas and mustard gas. This agent is stored in artillery shells, bombs, and ballistic missile warheads. And Iraq retains significant dual-use industrial infrastructure that can be used to rapidly reconstitute large-scale chemical weapons production." -- Ex-UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter in 1998
"Whether one agrees or disagrees with the Administration’s policy towards Iraq, I don’t think there can be any question about Saddam’s conduct. He has systematically violated, over the course of the past 11 years, every significant UN resolution that has demanded that he disarm and destroy his chemical and biological weapons, and any nuclear capacity. This he has refused to do. He lies and cheats; he snubs the mandate and authority of international weapons inspectors; and he games the system to keep buying time against enforcement of the just and legitimate demands of the United Nations, the Security Council, the United States and our allies. Those are simply the facts." -- Henry Waxman, Oct 10, 2002
So, in my opinion, the only thing Bush did wrong was to:
1) Take Al Gore’s advice to “organize an international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction.”
2) Not ignore Bill Clinton’s warning: “If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow."
3) “Take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs." the way Diane Feinstein, Joe Lieberman, and Tom Daschle wanted him to.
So…they’re criticizing him for doing what they said should be done? Remember that new word we learned, boys and girls? What was that again? Oh yeah, disingenuous! (Yeah, really cool word!)
Feed back? RANash@Yahoo.com.
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Elitism – Enemy of Democracy
One of the things in our wonderful country that we need to exterminate like a noxious weed whenever we find it is elitism, the belief in an “anointed” minority that has a higher value and privilege than the ordinary folk. It’s fascinating but true, that the worst offenders seem to be the ones who most loudly trumpet that they are motivated to care for “the people”.
Elitism is revealed by a hypocritical attitude that might be expressed as: “The rules (which I, in my superior wisdom, help create) shall apply to you for your own good; but they certainly don’t apply to me!”
An example: The senior senator from California, Diane Feinstein, has tirelessly fought to impose stricter gun control on all of us. She believes that the Second Amendment to the Constitution does not grant the right to keep and bear arms to ordinary citizens (like you), but rather gives the individual state governments the right to have their own state armies, such as the California National Guard. Her eventual goal is a complete ban on anyone owning a gun. On CBS-TV’s “60 Minutes”, February 5, 1995, she said, “If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an out-right ban, picking up every one of them... 'Mr. and Mrs. America, turn 'em all in,' I would have done it. [But] I could not do that. The votes weren't there."
Yet, when she felt the need for personal protection, she applied for, and received, a concealed handgun carry permit, and she carried (maybe still does) a .357 revolver for her own personal protection. “And, I know the sense of helplessness that people feel. I know the urge to arm yourself because that's what I did. I was trained in firearms. I'd walk to the hospital when my husband was sick. I carried a concealed weapon. I made the determination that if somebody was going to try to take me out, I was going to take them with me.” (Comments made during U.S. Senate hearings, April 27, 1995.)
So, “Mrs. America” you have to “turn ‘em all in” but Ms. Feinstein can carry her weapon to protect her life. Is her life really more important than yours?
Another example of elitism that comes to mind has to do with Social Security. Our wonderful politicians, because they care so much for us, have given us the Social Security system, where we pay a hefty percentage of our income into the program, and someday, we’ll get back a paltry amount too small to live on.
According to the Heritage Foundation, an average two-earner couple in their early 30s will receive about a 1.2 percent return on their retirement taxes from Social Security. As a general rule, the younger a worker is, the lower his or her rate of return will be. Men born after 1963 actually end up paying more on average in Social Security payroll taxes than they will receive in benefits. But the politicians, who make it mandatory for you to pay into the system, don’t have to pay into it themselves! That’s right. They get to put funds into a retirement system that pays back extremely handsome returns, and they don’t put a dime into Social Security. Social Security is just for us “little people”, the hoi polloi.
But let anyone talk about privatizing Social Security and listen to the politicians howl! Heaven forbid we “little people” should be allowed to take our own money and invest it into something that could give us a decent return and a retirement that is adequate. Why, the Social Security system is the best thing that’s ever happened to the American people! Oh, yeah? Then why don’t they invest in it?
The entire “American experiment” is based on the idea that this government should be “of the people, for the people, by the people”. Let’s vote the elitists out of office!
Agree? Disagree? Let me know! Get back to me at RANash@Yahoo.com.
The Rule of Law
Sometime back I was commuting quite a distance each day for work. Since my hours have to be flexible, it was impossible for me to carpool, so I was driving alone. A portion of the freeway I used had a “high occupancy vehicle” (HOV) lane, otherwise known as a “car pool lane”, which is limited in certain hours to only those cars with two or more people in them. Since that lane had fewer cars, it moved much more quickly than the other lanes congested with single driver commuters.
So there I was, stuck moving about five miles per hour, watching the cars zoom past, when it dawned on me that I could get away with driving in that lane. You see, the car pool hours were from 3 to 6 P.M. but it got dark around 5. My car was a convertible with a back window made of plastic that was pretty badly weathered so that it was no longer clear. I realized that my headlights would make if difficult for a Highway Patrol officer to see how many heads were in the car as it approached him (or her), and my opaque rear window would make it impossible to count heads from the rear. I could pop into that lane and zoom on home without much fear of getting that $275 ticket!
I was tempted. But I didn’t. I realized that I don’t want to live in a society where we only obey the law when we are afraid to get caught. Society would fall to pieces in a hurry, or evolve into a tyrannous police state. If there is no personal compulsion to obey the law, then the police must be everywhere, or we would have the rule of the jungle – every man for himself, kill or be killed, prey or be preyed upon.
That’s what the rule of law is all about. It means that we must be people ruled by principle rather than expediency, by standards rather than the emotion of the moment. And, it requires humility, the understanding that I am not more important that the rest of my fellow citizens.
But what about laws that are stupid? I don’t think the HOV lanes are a good idea, personally. They are not changing the driving habits of commuters, and the congestion they force on the other lanes increases pollution. So any law that is bad I can ignore, right? Wrong. For every law I think is right, there is someone who thinks it’s bad. The entire rule of law breaks down simply because each person becomes a law unto himself.
If there are bad laws, we have a lawful means of changing them! If I cannot convince enough other people that a particular law is bad, I have to wonder if I am wrong about the law! Could HOV lanes actually be a good thing? Well, I still don’t think so, but I’m at least open to the idea that I’m in error.
What did I do? I adjusted my commuting hours. I left work at 6 P.M. when the HOV lane opened up to regular traffic. I got a lot of work done in that quiet hour after everyone else went home, too. And, I didn’t contribute to the break down of society.
As always, I value and welcome your input and opinions. Please feel free to respond at RANash@Yahoo.com.
Saturday, June 07, 2003
Taking Responsibility for Each Other
The other night my wife and I went out to dinner with some friends, and afterwards were sitting around talking. One of my friends mentioned some retired law enforcement officers he knew, who always carried their guns with them.
“Why do they do that, anyway?” he asked.
After giving that question some thought, I think the best motive they could have is that, although retired, they still consider themselves protectors of the people and responsible to enforce the law. At least I hope that’s true. I do know that that is the reason many police departments require their officers, even when off-duty, to carry their weapons. Their attitude is, “Even though you are off-duty, you’re never completely off-duty. You always have a responsibility to the public.”
Well, although I’m not that old, I’m old enough to remember when every responsible citizen had that attitude. It could have been expressed this way: “Even though I’m not a professional protector of the public and enforcer of the law (a cop), I’m still responsible to protect my fellow citizens and deter criminals when I can.”
Over time, unfortunately, there has been an abdication of responsibility on the part of the non-professional (civilian). The attitude now is, “Let the cops handle it.” When we see people committing criminal acts, the tendency is to say, “Well, I’m no cop; it’s not my problem.” The more responsible of us will dial 911 on our cell phones and consider that we’ve done all we could.
It didn’t used to be that way! There are laws on the books dealing with citizen’s arrest. Those laws authorize a civilian to use force, even lethal force if necessary, to apprehend someone who they see committing a crime. Once upon a time, those laws were taken seriously because we took seriously our responsibility to society as a whole. Even though citizen’s arrest laws are still on the books, today if a civilian apprehended a criminal, the citizen would get sued by the criminal and possibly prosecuted by the authorities. No wonder we abdicate our role and “let the cops handle it.” Since the police can’t be everywhere, crime is higher than it used to be.
I for one would like to see that trend reversed. When I’m in a crowd, I would like to think that I’m surrounded by a multitude of people that would step in to help me if I were victimized by a criminal, rather than just rushing on and calling 911 at best. In fact, if the criminals thought that ordinary citizens, rather than just police officers, would apprehend them when they committed crimes, they would have a lot less opportunities. They would have to have cover of darkness, lonely victims, etc., the way it used to be. How many times these days you hear it said when a crime is committed, “And it was right out in broad daylight, too!” Well, why not, if no one is going to do anything about it?
So, in response to that age-old question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” I say, yes, you are.
Your opinon on the matter is important to me! Get back to me at RANash@Yahoo.com with your thoughts.
Friday, June 06, 2003
Today is the anniversary of D-Day, the invasion of Normandy in 1944 by the Allied troops, to wrest Europe back from the Nazis. It was an incredibly deadly and costly battle, fought by ordinary men (school teachers, farmers, accountants) who died, were wounded, or risked death so that the world would not be dominated by the evil that was National Socialism.
There was a "peace movement" in the United States in those days, too. It even enjoyed the support of certain celebrities of the day, such as Charles Lindbergh, just as the "peace movement" of today enjoys the support of celebs such as Martin Sheen, Susan Sarandon, etc. Just think, if the "peace movement" had had their way in the forties, we could all be Nazis today, and not a Jew among us!
Who says, "Violence never solves anything!"? Because of the valiant violence of the brave men in 1944, we enjoy our freedom today.
I am just going to take a moment right now to thank all of you, men and women, who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States to protect me and my family and to preserve our freedom. I am sincerely grateful to you, and to God, for your service and sacrifice.
As always, I value and welcome your input and opinions. Please feel free to respond at RANash@Yahoo.com.