Archive for March, 2012

Classic and New Writing

Posted by Troy on 31st March 2012 in Writing

Sometimes, I read old novels, and I marvel at the craftsmanship that went into it.  Sometimes I wonder if the advent of the typewriter and computer has degenerated the art.  The length of time necessary to write a novel by typing is incredible.  I couldn’t imagine if I had to write each word out.  Editing would take even longer.  I should imagine that novels were only undertaken by people of massive talent and vision.  Now, however, anyone can type out a novel.  Using self-publishing options such as createspace and Kindle, anyone can have a book to sell.  Now it feels like most books are either self-indulgent or operating on a formula out of a “You can write too!” book.

Hunger Games

Posted by Troy on 30th March 2012 in Entertainment

Finally, a movie that lived up to its hype.

Unlike the other book series, which will remain nameless, this series appears to actually have very good plot and character development.  While there there a couple of “Say what?” moments in the movie (the biggest one being why anyone would form an alliance in a last man standing competition…particularly with the strongest guy on the field), it was a very well crafted story.

I don’t believe there is a cohesive political statement.  I would argue that it is merely a commentary of how human nature can degenerate to its baser instincts.  There is also some social commentary much in the way of the Time Machine by H.G. Wells, which was a populous book about the rich living off the poor until the poor (Morlocks) rise up and eat the rich.  Likewise, the rich in the capital city take great delight in watching the children of the poor battle to the death for their amusement.

Cliche message aside, Hunger Games is an excellent story and very entertaining.

The only question I have is…do we really need bio-engineered killer wasps?

Why the Supreme Court Must Overturn the Entire Healthcare Act

Posted by Troy on 29th March 2012 in Current Events, Political

A lot of people are saying that the Supreme Court is wrong not to read the entire 2,70o page document and salvage what they can of the act.  Justice Ginsburg advocates that the Supreme Court should go through the bill and salvage what they can.  This may sound reasonable, but they must not do this for the same reason why we should not have a line-item veto.

The line-item veto sounded like a wonderful thing.  If a bill had one bad provision, the President could strike out that one line and send it back for approval.  The Supreme Court ruled that this was not Constitutional because it hurt the separation of powers.  In addition, this wrecked the lawmaking process.

Imagine a situation in which the Congress put together a bill.  To get some Representatives on board, they gave them some concessions.  The reluctant Congressman goes along with it due to the concessions.  The President strikes the measure that got the Congressman on board.  In the end, the law gets signed, and the Congressman gets the shaft.

That brings us to Obamacare.  Before it was actually brought before the Supreme Court, Obama said that if the mandate was unconstitutional, the whole thing would have to go.  This is why he did not put a severability clause in there to start with, even though his legal team begged him to do so.  The individual mandate is the funding mechanism.  Without it, the whole thing falls apart.  What would have been a disaster after five to fifteen years becomes a disaster in five to fifteen months.  Without a severability clause, Congress said that the bill is meant to be taking as a whole, and it should.  That bill was the result of months of negotiations, backroom deals, and payoffs.  If the Supreme Court start going through and saying this stays and this goes, then the bill becomes something else entirely.  The bill the Justices create by taking out the individual mandate and other provisions may not have gotten a single vote if such a bill had been presented before Congress.  The Supreme Court are judges, not legislators.  They should not try to write legislation on their own.  The only responsible thing, given the lack of a severability clause, is to kill the entire bill.  If Congress doesn’t like it, they can do one of two things.  They can either go back to the drawing board and try to write a Constitutional health care bill, or they can try to amend the Constitution.  Of course, the Left will never actually try to amend the Constitution.  They are a firm believer that it is easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.

Long Live the Constitution!

Obamacare – Day 3

Posted by Troy on 28th March 2012 in Current Events, Political

Today was the last hearing on Obamacare before the Supreme Court.  Today’s topic was the severability.  If the individual mandate is shot down, can Obamacare survive without the individual mandate?

You may remember that, when it was passed, it was pointed out that it did not have a severability clause.  Many on Obama’s staff urged him to include a severability clause.  However, at the time, he declined to do so.  At the time, he said that the bill could not stand without the individual mandate as it was the funding mechanism.  Of course, now they are saying that it could be severed.

I like it when one justice invoked the Eight Amendment and said there was no way they were going to go through a 2,700 page documents and pick out which pieces could stay and which ones would not.

I will boldly predict that it will be a 5 to 4 vote.  Two of the Liberal judges were appointed by Obama, and one of those worked on the Healthcare Act directly (Kegan).  Gingsburg thinks the US Constitution is outdated.  Basically, the Leftist judges really didn’t care what The individual mandate will be thrown out, and the rest of the bill will be thrown out due to a lack of severability.  All the Democrats that sold their souls to the Party to pass it an and lost their jobs because of it will have destroyed their careers for naught.

Long Live the Constitution!

Obamacare – Day 2 – The commerce clause

Posted by Troy on 27th March 2012 in Current Events, Political

Originally, the Commerce Clause of the Constitution was intended to ensure smooth operation of trade between the States and foreign countries.  About twelve years ago, the Supreme Court heard a case about an old lady in Washington who was busted for growing marijuana.  The thing is, she had a prescription for it.  As such, it was legal for her to have marijuana.  The Feds couldn’t figure out what to do, so they prosecuted her under the Commerce Clause.  Their case was that she was supposed to smoke medical grade pot, not just stuff she grew.  Medical grade pot is grown in Texas.  As such, she is interfering with interstate commerce.  In the dissenting opinion, one Justice said, “If we rule this way, we give unlimited power to the Federal government because what doesn’t affect interstate commerce if you take it out to the nth degree?”

I grow rosemary.  How is that any different?

Now they say they can require you to own health insurance because most people will use some sort of medical treatment, and it is unfair that the young and healthy don’t buy insurance.  As such, only the old and sick buy insurance, and this raises cost.  So, rather than identify that insurance is the problem, we are going to force everyone to buy a product.   What’s really amazing is how stupid the young people are that they can be convinced to demand to be forced to buy a product.

As I laid out in 2084, their plan is designed to fail.  Inevitably, the only solution that is based upon a common pool will be to initiate Death Panels that do an actuarial analysis of the value of the patient’s life.  The reason that medical costs are so high is as follows:  In World War II, employers came up with the idea of health insurance so that they could get around compensation limitations that were in place as part of the rationing program.  As more people got on insurance, doctors were able to charge more for their services.  As doctors charged more for their services, more people felt the need to get insurance out of fear of not being able to afford medical care.  As more people got insurance, doctors were able to charge more.  As the market for insurance got saturated (everyone who could and would buy insurance had already done so), insurance companies had to raise their rates to cover the increased charges by the medical profession.  After that, it’s a spiral.  It’s all simple, self-interested, human behavior that an eighth grader can figure out.  We see the same thing happening with dental work, and we are about to see it play out with pet insurance too.

As I discussed yesterday, the Health Care Act is not covered by the powers of taxation.  It also isn’t covered by the Commerce Clause.  There is no way that the Founding Fathers would have given the government the power to deem that possible future economic transactions are to have occurred currently and demand action on a citizen.  Under this same thought process, Congress could declare that you are probably going to buy stuff and charge you the present value of all National Sales Taxes for the next twenty years at the current date.  Why not?  Under their logic, it is the same thing.

You want to fix medical costs?  Get rid of insurance completely.  There will be about five years of chaos.  After that, prices will regulate.  Third party payment systems are always doomed to failure in any market because it breaks the link between the consumer and the supplier.  Without this link, goods and services will not be priced correctly.  If you put out a product “for free,” people will take it just to take it.  This is one reason why I always sell my books instead of just give them away.  I figure if they’re not willing to pay for the book, they will just take it and not read it.

If you think the prices and supply of healthcare is bad now, just wait until it’s “free.”

Long Live the Constitution!

Obamacare goes to court

Posted by Troy on 26th March 2012 in Current Events

Today was stage one of the Obamacare argument.  Basically, the government’s point today was that no one was harmed by the “tax” yet, so it cannot be challenged in court.

Judge Alito pointed out that today they were arguing that it was a tax.  Tomorrow, however, they are arguing that it is not a tax.  The importance of this definition is significant.  Before Obamacare was passed, it was important to the government that it  was not called a tax.  At the time, it was important that  it wasn’t a tax so that the people at large wouldn’t pitch a fit.  After it was passed, it was important that it was called a tax because there is no way that the law is Constitutional otherwise.

Throughout the entire 2,000 page tome that is Obamacare, there is no place where the penalty for not purchasing insurance is called a tax.  It is always called a penalty.  The only reason why it is in the Internal Revenue Code at all has to deal with the collection of the penalty.  However, all this is beside the point.  There are only two types of “direct” taxes which are available under the Constitution.  The first tax is not to be paid by individuals themselves but is levied against the states on the basis of their proportionate share of the population.  The other is the income tax.  The entire reason why we had to pass the Sixteenth Amendment was so they could do another direct tax based on individual income.  The proposed “tax” would be an odd direct tax based upon whether or not a specific product had been purchased.  In fact, there is no example in history of a tax for NOT doing something.

Needless to say, the idea that Obamacare is a tax fell flat on its face.  Tomorrow, they start to hear debates on the individual mandate.  As a lover of the Constitution and of America, I pray that Obamacare is shot down.  If we say that Congress can tell us we have to buy something just because we are alive, they will have unlimited power.

Long Live the Constitution!

Culturist, not Racist

Posted by Troy on 25th March 2012 in Current Events, Writing

Geraldo Rivera has come under fire for saying that Trayvon Martin’s hoodie is partly to blame for his unfortunate death.  This goes back to what I have always said.  We are culturists, not racist.

If you see a man coming down the road in a white hood and gown, you are going to assume that he is a member of the KKK.  For all you know, perhaps he is an actor going to a gig where he is playing a KKK member, but you are going to assume that he is a KKK member for a couple of reasons: 1)  Why would he dress up in such a fashion to say to all the world that he has ill intent if it were not true?  and 2) It is far safer to assume that he is a KKK member.  The same would fall true for a white guy wearing a swastika or carrying the Confederate flag.  Living in the South, I know many people who are proud of being from the South and like the Confederate flag who do not strive to lynch any blacks on the weekends.  So that brings us to the question of the hoodie.

Hoodies are a convenient, warm garment.  You can quickly cover your head and help keep yourself nice and warm while outside, and, upon entering a warm building, remove the hood so that others can see your face.  Unfortunately, gang members and other criminals have also figured out that it is a quick disguise and very legal to wear.  As such, when they are about to rob a store, all they have to do is pull up their hoodie, and most of their face and hair is instantly hidden.  If coupled with a bandanna around the neck (to lift and cover the mouth and nose), a near perfect disguise is in effect.  This concept has been conveyed in the nightly news and movies.  As such, when people see someone in a hoodie, they assume they are up to no good.

If Trayvon had been wearing a suit, would Zimmerman felt the least bit threatened?  What about a nice polo and khakis?  As I mentioned before, no white guy in his right mind would ever consider wearing a KKK outfit, even in jest.  So why is it that black youths do not understand that how they dress affects people’s perception of them?  That is to say, if you dress like a thug, people will assume you’re a thug.  This argument offends people, right up there with saying that a rape victim invited trouble by the way she was dressed.  People should be free to dress how they like and say whatever they like and be friends with whoever they like without people rushing to judgement, but the fact of the matter is that they will be judged.  This is one of those cases where ideology does not match with reality.  For once, I agree with Geraldo, and I applaud his guts to say something so unpopular as the truth.  As my dad told me, telling people the truth will never make you popular.

People are much more afraid of the clothes you wear than the color of your skin.  If Trayvon had been wearing a polo and khakis, he’d still be alive.  It may be tragic, it may be unfair, but it’s true.

Character development

Posted by Troy on 24th March 2012 in Writing

One thing I want to do when I write is avoid telling the audience about the character.  Instead, I want to show them the character.  If I tell the audience “He was an honorable man who everyone respected and liked,” it loses a lot of power.  The audience will not connect with that character near as much.  However, if I allow the audience to get to know the person by their thoughts, actions, and interactions with others, the audience will connect with the character.  In the case of Carlos Santiago, I hope that I made a character that people will like even though he is a terrible human being.  The only way this could be accomplished is with good character development.

1984 – George Orwell

Posted by Troy on 23rd March 2012 in Entertainment

One of the pillars of totalitarian government’s is 1984.  The novel discusses a totalitarian government which takes control of its citizens by fear, force, and surveillance.  The famous phrase from the book is “Big Brother is watching you.”  Of course, this is the same Big Brother anti-government types call out.

Given my own anti-government bent, you would probably suspect that I would be a raving fan of this book, but I am not.  Honestly, the book is hopeless and depressive.  While that is realistic, it doesn’t make for a good story.  I wanted my own book, 2084 to convey a similar message, but be more up lifting at the same time.  I never really cared for 1984.  The characters are unsympathetic and the plot is dark and hopeless.  I understand that George Orwell was trying to show the degenerates that such a society would create and was trying to show people the danger of letting such a society come into being, but it detracts from the story itself.

1984 is an important book, and it is one that everyone should read.  However, do not harbor any illusions that you are going to be entertained.  It is going to be a slugfest to read, and when you get to the end, be prepared for the hollow, empty feeling that you get when you realize there is no hope.

For a more hopeful dystopian adventure, check out 2084: The Search for Love, Hope and Faith!  Eh, I couldn’t resist.

Trayvon Martin and the Stand Your Ground Law

Posted by Troy on 22nd March 2012 in Current Events

Recently a young black man, Trayvon Martin, was shot dead in Florida by George Zimmerman (white or Latino, depending on who you ask).  George Zimmerman was head of his neighborhood watch.  He noticed Trayvon Martin, followed him, and eventually slayed him.  While it is inconclusive that the slaying may or may not have had something to do with the fact that Trayvon Martin was black, this has largely been hailed as a racial slaying.

The first thing I would like to say is that Trayvon Martin’s death is a tragic one.  He appears to have been a nice guy, from what people have said of him.  Embedded hints in the stories suggests he was a nice guy.  The pictures of him show a young man of open face and smiling countenance–most street youths would not dare smile for a picture.  As someone said of MC Hammer, “The surest way to lose a rap career is to be caught smiling for a camera.”  Also, he stayed on the phone with his girlfriend.  This would suggest that he cared for her and was not dismissive of her.  Also, he walked away instead of running.  This is a trait of moral character…even if it is a very stupid instinct that can lead to a premature death.

The Left has already begun to attack Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, which replaced the “Duty to Retreat” law.  Under the duty to retreat, you had an obligation to run away if at all possible.  This means leaving your home to be looted, if need be.  Also, it means running even if you think your best chance to survive is to stand and fight or even to ambush and kill.  I would replace all such laws with the Duty to Survive.  Nature’s law has always been one of self-defense.  If someone means you harm, you should have the right to defend yourself by any means possible.  As my father always told me, it is better to be judged by twelve than carried by six.

There are questions which are not being asked.  I think the first, rather insensitive question given the fact that an innocent man lays dead, is “How dangerous is this neighborhood?”  Is there a reason why Zimmerman felt paranoid?  Is Zimmerman insane?  After this, we have to ask if Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin because he was black.

Regardless of all facts and circumstances, this tragic slaying does not reduce the validity of the Stand Your Ground law.  If a man uses a car to run over someone because of the color of his skin, we do not question if cars should be made illegal.  However, we all know that the Left will soon start demanding tougher gun control laws in Florida (despite the drastic reduction of rape and other violent crimes that has happened since the right to carry and Stand Your Ground laws has passed).  Regardless, Stand Your Ground does not cover what Zimmerman did.  You do not have the right to follow someone you think could be a threat.  Even if Trayvon Martin had been a gang member, it would be irresponsible.  This is like when Ron Artest ran into the stands to beat up a fan because someone threw a plastic cup at him.  The sports announcers called it self-defense.  It is not.  It is revenge.  If someone attacks me and I fight back, it is self-defense.  If someone hits me and runs away and I chase him down and beat him up, that is revenge.  See the difference?  He did not stand his ground.  He gave chase.  That is the key principle difference.

I hope that this case is investigated.  On the surface, if sounds as though Trayvon Martin was killed wrongfully, and Zimmerman should face whatever consequences that are appropriate for his actions.  Trayvon Martin deserves justice, and it is my sincerest hope that he finds it.  However, I should never wish that the rights and liberties of the people at large should be sacrificed due to an isolated event.  Could you imagine what we would be allowed to do if they made everything illegal that led to a death?  Here’s a list!  Flying, bungee jumping, swimming, drinking, sex, over the counter drugs, driving, texting, talking on cell phones, showering, sleeping in a bed, sleeping, riding on trains, keeping an aquarium, eating, and a hundred other things.

Long Live the Constitution!