Staying In

In the midst of a lot of stuff … I’ve been dwelling on the Sovereignty and Power of God … and also about how God knows everything but doesn’t tell me everything. I’ve thought about Abraham waiting for a promised son who would make his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky … about Joseph being sold to slavery and waiting for years in prison not having any promise of any kind of future … about Job having everything taken away and his friends telling him to ditch God … and while these stories have their happy endings … I think their choices to Stay In the waiting, while not knowing their outcome, was their story.

There are so many in difficult situations in the world these days. I think this has always been true, but our economy and political environment seem to magnify it all. It’s crazy-hard to wrap our minds around so much difficulty, tragedy, and uncertainty. Fear becomes like a fierce blizzard waiting to pound down the doors to our souls and suffocate us to death in its frigid grip. We do not have access to information about the future; we only know history as we remember it, and we only know our part of this moment we’re in. Our panic buttons are blaring their alarms while furiously flashing their huge, red lights. Even if we could see clearly, there is no visible way out.

So where is God now?

God is here, with us … with you where you are; with me where I am … in the waiting, in the staying. What are God and I doing as we stay and wait? What are you and God doing as you stay and wait?. Perhaps that’s the question that is most important … more important than, “How much longer?”

I’m weary of Staying In. Staying denotes some sort of permanence, a season. I don’t want it to be a season … I want it to be more like a long line that I can clearly see moving forward till it’s my turn. I’m ready to be free from this mess I’m in. But as a Believer who chooses to trust in God, I choose to stay, to lean into where I am rather than fight it, while I wait. I know God is here, with me, in the waiting, while I stay where I am. May I make it more than just a wait in a moving line … may I make this season productive in some way as I stay here till God notifies me otherwise.

Gun Control Meets its Match: Technology

In one of the most valiant efforts at attacking windmills, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) is trying to ban the production of ammunition magazines with 3-D printers.

Aside from the Constitutional issues–Rep. Israel’s efforts are an infringement not just on the Second Amendment, but also the First Amendment–this is an exercise in both futility and stupidity.

First of all, 3-D printer technology has the potential to be a great economic game changer. How? It will soon be possible for almost anyone–with sufficient skill–to become his or her own manufacturing company with low capital investment. This will spawn innovation on so many fronts, and drive real economic growth by literally creating home-grown manufacturing in ways no one would ever have thought possible.

Secondly, the 3-D printer will become for firearms what the World Wide Web was/is for pornography.

For those who are old enough to remember, there was a time that both sides of the pornography debate were in a stalemate over the “community standard”. As a result, more liberal communities allowed lots of “adult bookstores” whereas others used zoning laws to keep such establishments in check. When people wanted to purchase porn, they had to buy it in public unless they could afford to pay through the nose for cable television.

But the World Wide Web fundamentally changed the game: pornography became easily-accessible to the masses. Today, a large amount of it is available for free. In fact, the pornography industry–for many years–literally drove the development of technology for the Web. Early advancements in e-commerce, for example, were driven by the demand for porn on the Web.

(NOTE: I am not defending porn here; just stating the reality for what it is.)

3-D technology is that same type of game changer for manufacturing of all types, including firearms. While the technology is itself very pricey and still in its infancy, it will go the way of computer technology: precision and potential will increase dramatically and prices will also fall.

This will spawn a whole new wave of innovation in a variety of products, including firearms. The production of all-polymer weapons, customized ammunition, and accessories of all types, will be possible for anyone with the imagination.

And it will be almost impossible for the gun controllers to contain.

That is because if you cannot control the printing press, then you cannot control what one produces with that press, no matter how hard you try.

And given that the government will soon run out of money, their capacity to regulate anything will greatly diminish, as the capacity of the masses to innovate and produce will expand.

It will be checkmate.

Debt Ceiling

If Boehner had balls, this is what he would do.

My fellow Americans,

For most of the last 40 years, you have been conned and screwed.

You have been sold tax cuts on the premise that they result in more revenues. While that has proven to be true, we in Congress have used that extra revenue to feed a spending orgy.

You have been told that the spending is not a big deal because the deficits are small compared to our Gross Domestic Product. In fact, a Vice President–in my party–is on record as saying that deficits don’t matter.

Sadly, deficits do matter. Making matters worse, when you subtract government spending, GDP has been negative for most of the last 30 years.

What does this mean?

For an entire generation, we in government have spent money faster than you have been able to make it. As a result, your share of the debt has grown, all while our political class insists on more and more government.

Sadly, this level of spending is not something we can sustain forever. If we keep this up, our economy will implode in a way that will make the crisis of 2008 look like a bonanza.

Ladies and gentleman, the President is demanding that we give him permission to continue the spending spree in return for miniscule cuts in spending that will never happen. I will not give him that permission.

As Speaker of the House–which Constitutionally is responsible for budgets–it is my insistence that THIS CONGRESS do the right thing for the American people, and create a situation that will sow the seeds for prosperity for future generations, ensuring that they will not be saddled with debt.

As Speaker, I propose that THIS CONGRESS BALANCE THE BUDGET.

That means

(1) We cut $800 billion in spending THIS YEAR;

(2) We cut the remainder of the deficit NEXT YEAR.

In return for that, we extend the debt ceiling for two years, in order to allow for the short-term liquidity for structural transitions–to be made starting this year and continuing into the end of the Congress–that will be difficult.

Those structural transitions will include the following:

(1) elimination of the Department of Education;

(2) elimination of the Department of Housing and Urban Development;

(3) elimination of the Department of Labor;

(4) elimination of the Department of Homeland Security;

(5) elimination of most of the Department of the Interior;

(6) elimination of the Department of Agriculture;

(7) elimination of most of the Department of Health and Human Services;

(8) elimination of the Drug Enforcement Agency;

(9) elimination of the Bureau for Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives;

(10) returning unemployment benefits to 26 weeks;

(11) ending the food stamp programs;

(12) ending all aid to foreign nations;

(13) cutting the defense budget in half;

(14) breaking medical monopolies that have busted the budgets for Medicare and Medicaid;

(15) indexing the Social Security and Medicare retirement ages to account for expanded life expectancies of cohorts, while keeping those who are already retired properly covered;

(16) ending all federal guarantees of student loans, and permitting all debtors–in financial distress–to seek relief through the bankruptcy code.

While this initiative is bold, it should not be. In fact, this is the first responsible budgetary initiative that has come from Congress in the last 50 years. And it has been a long time coming.

My fellow Americans, the sad truth is that we have more government than we can afford. That is the $16 trillion elephant in the room, which has been defecating all over the floor. The President–for all his talk–has delivered mere smoke and mirrors. In the past, I have failed in that I have allowed him to get away with it while hoping that he would be willing to get serious.

While he has not done so, it is no excuse for Congress to fail to act.

I wish there were a better answer. I for one do not wish for any government employee or contractor to lose a job. These are good people with families, homes, mortgages, and who have the same hopes and aspirations that the rest of Americans do.

At the same time, mathematics is not on our side here. This is not about what I want, it is about what the American people can afford. We have more government than we can afford.

When you look at the deficits–which have exceeded $1 trillion for the last 4 years, and exceeded $400 billion in the four years before that–it is a symptom not of a revenue problem, but rather a spending problem.

If you were spending $10,000 more than you made every year, and then promised to cut $1,000 over ten years, you’d be laughed out of the room. And yet, your President is telling the same thing, and calling that a substantive cut.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is trying to fight a forest fire with a water pistol.

As your Speaker, I am demanding that THIS CONGRESS do what the President PROMISED to do in his first term.

We will balance the budget. That deficit will be zero at the end of this Congress. And we will release the American people to build the society that government promised but has failed to deliver.

These moves will be difficult and painful. For 12-18 months, the economic outlook will not be pleasant, as so much of our economy has become predicated on the growth of government.

At the same time, the endgame will be promising. By delivering a stable budget, our country will be the best place for foreign capital. We will become a country that rewards saving and investing and capital formation: the things that drive real economic growth. We will become a country that rewards hard work, not providing incentive to freeloaders. We will become the center of innovation once again. We will become the center of manufacturing once again.

What I am saying has historical precedent.

In 1920-21, we had a nasty recession. Unemployment spiked to 15% in short order. You would think that government would have responded with big spending, but that didn’t happen.

Instead, we balanced the budget, we allowed businesses to fail, and we allowed the private sector to adjust accordingly.

As a result, within short order, we returned to full employment, and the outcome was a decade of unprecedented prosperity.

Our best days need not be in the past. But in order for us to return to real prosperity, we must get our financial house in order.

This Congress will do that. We will settle for no less.

We call on the President to cut the shenanigans and have the adult conversation. We invite him to a public summit where we can provide a detailed accounting of that situation.

But we will balance the budget. We will do it with this Congress. And we will start now.

The Speech Wayne LaPierre Should Have Given

My fellow Americans,

First, let me take this time to express profound sorrow and empathy for the families of the children, teachers, and school staff who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It is an absolute catastrophe that any child–let alone twenty–would be forced to leave this world through such a violent, cowardly, unconscionable act.

In the midst of this tragic event, let us also take some time to recognize those involved who represent the best of America. Several teachers and staff–who literally threw themselves into the line of fire–performed acts of extraordinary bravery and heroism. In the military, they award the Medal of Honor for such acts of valor. We must recognize such actions, which are above and beyond the call of duty.

It is from this standpoint that I raise a most important issue: I would rather be here celebrating lives saved, rather than mourning lives lost. And I would venture to say that most Americans feel the same way.

While the teachers and administrators were heroic in every sense of the word, I would rather be here to recognize them–living and unharmed–for having stopped the Sandy Hook shooter before he had a chance to enter the school.

Sadly, that was not possible in this case, because Sandy Hook Elementary School–like so many schools throughout America–is a so-called “gun-free zone”. As a result, no one at the school was equipped to protect others from a determined, active shooter.

It is my hope that, as a country, we would rethink this issue, as–irrespective of your views regarding gun control–not even the most Draconian legislation that is being bandied about would have stopped this shooter. He had no criminal record, not even a misdemeanor; he had not been adjudicated as mentally defective. While much has been said of his use of a semiautomatic rifle, the fact is that he could have done the same damage–with fewer pulls of the trigger–with a standard pump-action shotgun that is used by hunters and target shooters all over the country.

Yes, we must do a better job equipping ourselves to deal with such shooters.

At the same time, it is also imperative that we embrace the very principles that make the United States a unique country. Not the least of these principles is the fact that we are founded on personal responsibility.

While we at the NRA oppose governmental gun control, we also take personal responsibility very seriously.

If you own firearms of any type, safety is your responsibility.

Sadly, the Sandy Hook shooting was a tragic failure of personal responsbility. While I do not wish to pile onto the mother of the shooter–after all, she is among the dead–the fact is that she did not lock her weapons even though she knew she had an adult in her home who had social and mental issues.

If you choose to own firearms, you owe it to yourself and your community to take care of them responsibly. That means keeping them locked if you have children in the home. That also means either locking them away–or not having them at all–if you have mentally-defective or irresponsible people living in your home.

As we uncover the details that led to the shooting, there will undoubtedly be liability issues. Some of those may be ultimately decided by judges and juries.

Still, it should not have come to this. As a country, we must take such tragedies as this and apply the hard lessons here. Safety is your personal responsibility.

While policy wonks and representatives from various organizations will take this opportunity to call for more laws, I would encourage Americans to look at this soberly and consider: is more government the answer here?

Toward that end, I would answer with an emphatic no.

Cutting through the raw emotions and the hysteria created by 24-hour news outlets, it is established fact that, in spite of expanded gun rights in almost every state in the union, gun-related homicides are down–over 30%–over the last 32 years.

This is in spite of a diverse country, with more firearms per capita than most countries in the free world.

It would do us well to provide a more sober examination of the firearm-related homicides, and I would call on Congress to have full public hearings on this issue, and allow for the truth to be told.

I also call on states and local governments to revisit this “gun-free zone” paradigm, and consider ways–that require no federal intervention–to provide more robust security for schools, theaters, malls, and other public venues.

It has been proven that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a firearm is a good guy who has a firearm. Our Second Amendment was written in order to ensure that good guys could arm themselves.

Had the staff at Sandy Hook Elementary had such options, we would be here celebrating their heroism, not mourning their loss.

It is my hope that such heroes–who live among us–would have the ability to save even more lives.

As Americans, we owe them that.

Advice From A Dad

Professor Hale had a post where he invited his readers to “Ask Me Anything,” so, of course, I did.

As a dad … what do you think are some of the most important things you have done. What would you say/advise a new dad?

Also … how would you advise a mom to teach their children regarding their dad and men.

I like his answer; it’s worth repeating. Here’s what Professor Hale answered:

The most important thing I have done is the creation of my child. Both in the genetic contribution and in the physical support and intellectual guidance I have given her. I have always tried to ensure that she did not have to learn life’s hard lessons by trial and error when so many generations before her already know those answers. Staying in my marriage so that I could be there for her was important and the results prove I was right to do that. I say with only a little bit of hubris that the world is a better place because I was able to pass along the good parts of me into another generation.

Nothing else in my life even comes close.

Advice to parents: Teach your children to become adults. Let them experience your adult life through you. Talk to them with your adult voice and adult vocabulary. Expose them to your adult friends and let them participate in adult conversation. Every child should be homeschooled at least through 6th grade. By then they will be so far ahead of their public school “peers” that it won’t matter how or where they finish their mandatory 12 years of “education”. If you don’t think you are smart enough to teach a 6th grader, you should not be having kids. Get your tubes tied. If you don’t have the patience to be around your OWN children until they are 12 years old, then don’t have them. Snip-snip. There are lots of things your children need to know that the public education system won’t teach them. Don’t neglect those things. Basic economics. How to do things like pay an electric bill. How to get a credit card. How to manage a checking accoount. How to keep their car working. And how to be skeptical of the claims by experts who want to control them.

Finally, teach them that Christianity is important. Important to Western civilization as we know it, but more, important to them personally. It is not good enough that they were born into a Christian home in a nominally Christian country. They need to understand what it is all about and what it is all for. Then they need to choose it for themselves. Not to please you, to please their girl friend, or because all their friends are doing it.

President Obama and the Law of Unintended Consequences

In the wake of various high-profile mass shootings–the Aurora, CO theater, the Oregon Mall, Sandy Hook, and the assault on the New York firemen–President Obama has sought to impose a “meaningful ban on assault weapons”, ostensibly to keep them off the street.

If that were his true intention, he has already failed miserably. Over the past month, there has been an absolute run on semiautomatic rifles above .22LR caliber. This has only guaranteed that more of those rifles are now in civilians hands. In fact, many people who would have never considered owning a semiautomatic rifle are now proud owners of AR-15s, AK-47s, or other variants of rifles that fire those calibers. And the prices for the ammunition–especially .223 caliber–are now running at about a dollar per round.

(NOTE: I have no gripe with civilians buying said firearms; in fact, I welcome it. Will some of those folks be bad guys with malevolent intentions? Probably. Almost all, however, are seeking to protect themselves from a government that has shown to be less-than-trustworthy, or perhaps a potential breakdown of local government.)

There also seems to be a very significant number of folks–including women–seeking concealed carry licenses. Last Saturday, MrsLarijani took a concealed carry class. Every student in the class was female.

At any rate, had Obama simply kept his mouth shut and left gun rights alone, you’d have an order of magnitude fewer assault rifles on the street today.

Amos 4 – Prepare to Meet Your God

Amos Chapter Four

Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria,
you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy
and say to your husbands, “Bring us some drinks!”
2 The Sovereign Lord has sworn by his holiness:
“The time will surely come
when you will be taken away with hooks,
the last of you with fishhooks.[a]
3 You will each go straight out
through breaches in the wall,
and you will be cast out toward Harmon,[b]”
declares the Lord.
4 “Go to Bethel and sin;
go to Gilgal and sin yet more.
Bring your sacrifices every morning,
your tithes every three years.[c]
5 Burn leavened bread as a thank offering
and brag about your freewill offerings—
boast about them, you Israelites,
for this is what you love to do,”
declares the Sovereign Lord.
6 “I gave you empty stomachs in every city
and lack of bread in every town,
yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.
7 “I also withheld rain from you
when the harvest was still three months away.
I sent rain on one town,
but withheld it from another.
One field had rain;
another had none and dried up.
8 People staggered from town to town for water
but did not get enough to drink,
yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.
9 “Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards,
destroying them with blight and mildew.
Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees,
yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.
10 “I sent plagues among you
as I did to Egypt.
I killed your young men with the sword,
along with your captured horses.
I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps,
yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.
11 “I overthrew some of you
as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
You were like a burning stick snatched from the fire,
yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.
12 “Therefore this is what I will do to you, Israel,
and because I will do this to you, Israel,
prepare to meet your God.”
13 He who forms the mountains,
who creates the wind,
and who reveals his thoughts to mankind,
who turns dawn to darkness,
and treads on the heights of the earth—
the Lord God Almighty is his name.

Bumpy Ride Ahead

I’m not a Spring chicken; I’ll be 46 in less than 2 weeks. But I never thought I’d live to see the day where our White House is on the verge of launching the worst attack on American freedoms since the Wilson Administration.

I was born during the Vietnam era. While that was not a war for my generation, I probably would have found myself opposing the war while having nothing to do with the nutjobs who screamed, “Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh!” and spat on our troops. The problem was not our troops–who were fighting a war for which they did not ask–but rather the policy wonks and their Commander-in-Chief.

Still, for all of the faults of JFK, LBJ, and even Nixon, Ford, and Carter, none of them had an interest in assaulting the firearm rights of Americans in the manner that the current President seeks to do. (The Gun Control Act of 1968, travesty that it was, pales in comparison to what Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has on the table, let alone the threats of gun-control-by-executive-order by our Vice President on behalf of his boss.)

I was in 8th grade when President Reagan was shot. I remember his recovery, and watching the speech he made to the joint session of Congress in his return. He could have used his own shooting as a perch to attack “gun violence” and demand more gun control. But he didn’t: he lauded the Secret Service agents who performed valiantly; he lauded the physicians who treated him; he read some of the well-wishes from children; he empathized with the family of James Brady.

In short, Reagan kept his eye on the ball, and cooler heads prevailed. In fact, five years later, he would sign the Firearm Owner Protection Act of 1986, which–in spite of the restrictions on production of machine guns for civilian use–provided badly-needed protections for Citizens who were having their rights attacked by government at all levels. (I mean seriously: before FOPA, duck hunters were being prosecuted for simply driving through the wrong counties. And the ATF’s abuses were so bad that even the DEMOCRATS were recoiling in horror.)

My point: back then, we had a President who kept things in perspective, sought to keep government out of our business, and promoted the best of America. He didn’t do everything right, but he had a grasp of what was really important. AS a result, we were a better country in 1989 than we were in 1981. THAT is how the Cold War was won.

But Obama is literally destroying this country with his threat of gun bans. I’ve never seen things this bad across the board. Every gun store is sold out of semiautomatic rifles, something I’ve never seen in my lifetime. He is taking recent tragedies and using them to promote a fascist, totalitarian agenda that has disaster written all over it. While the left will complain, “Oh come now, government will never try to confiscate guns,” one has reason not to trust them. After all, the Department for Homeland Security has enough ammo to supply every employee of said agency with over 2,000 rounds of .223 ammunition. And we have no idea who is on the “terrorist watch list.” Moreover, we have government entities who have sought to classify everyone from NRA members to Ron Paul supporters as potential “domestic terrorists”.

Against the backdrop of a government that seeks to regulate what you put in your mouth, I’d say that is plenty good reason not to trust government.

What angers me though is not Obama: he is doing exactly what I expected he would do. Nor is it Feinstein: she is doing exactly what I expeted she would do. We all know where Obama, Bloomberg, Feinstein, Schumer, and all their lackeys stand.

No…what makes my blood boil is the inaction by Republican leaders: where the heck is House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)? Where the heck is Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)? Other than our fine Senator–Rand Paul–where are the conservative voices in elective office?

And what about the military leaders who wear the uniform and have sworn to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic? Why aren’t they pulling the President back and telling him, “Mr. President, you need to cool it with your gun agenda. Not only are you on the verge of promoting a societal breakdown from which it will take decades to recover, you are committing an act of war against the American people. For the sake of this great country, knock it off!”?

It is glaringly obvious that we no longer have two parties; what we have is a bicameral fascist system where leaders only disagree on the degree of fascism. The military leaders–with perhaps a few exceptions–are just suckups to the President, as the real leaders have been “retired”. If you expect the Joint Chiefs of Staff to advise the President to knock it off, that will happen about five minutes after Hell freezes over.

I told MrsLarijani that I never imagined that the end of our Republic could happen in my lifetime. But–as the son of an Iranian immigrant of Kurdish ancestry who knows quite well what happened in Iran in the 1970s–that is a very real possibility.

Is it a conspiracy, or is government really that stupid? There was once a time when I would have answered no on the first and yes on the second. Now, it could be yes on both.

The next four years are going to be quite bumpy.