Sunday, February 22, 2009

Here's what we have to do......

I was glancing through some quotations today and came across one from Barack Obama.

*If the people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it exists - to protect them and to promote their common welfare - all else is lost.*

This got me thinking about how Obama perceives the purpose of government as opposed to how I (and others) see it. Dietz, Hobbes and the "Social Contract" theory defines the fundamental purpose of government much as I do:

*People in a community create and submit to government for the purpose of establishing for themselves, safety and public order.*

In other words, we, the governed, create an orderly structure which we agree to observe and which guarantees our safety.

Note that this idea does NOT include any mention of a "Common Welfare" for those being governed. *THAT* concept is found only in Obama's idea (and, I suspect, in the minds of many liberal thinkers) of what government exists for!

This explains exactly what we have seen happen since January 20th - "promotion of the common welfare". How does government do that? Well, first it has to have a majority of people in the community that either like the idea of promoting the common welfare, or, failing that, a majority of people who are not willing to participate in their government for whatever reason.

Now, the definition of "Social Democracy" is:

*The formation of a democratic welfare state that incorporates both capitalist and socialist practices.*

The words "democratic welfare state" are interesting. It basically means that through "democratic" practices, the "community" has chosen a "welfare state." And what does a welfare state do? Why, it "promotes common welfare", of course.

Sooooo...... Barack believes that the government needs to provide for your protection AND push for a democratic welfare state.

Bottom line - a good hunk of the Democratic Party in America has become a Social Democratic Party. Only the Democratic centrists still believe in a capitalistic based democracy - one where each person is responsible for their own welfare.

In effect we now have a three party system in this country. Republicans, Democrats, and Social Democrats.

Now go do your homework if you need to. Look at what the Social Democrats have accomplished elsewhere in the world and consider if you wish your government to follow suit. If you are as stunned as I am by what you see, organize other independents, moderates, and conservatives. Yes and even Democrat centrists! And most importantly, inspire the previously indifferent to get involved in their government!

We must unseat the social democrats in our local, state and national governments and we must do so quickly before the damage is too extreme to repair.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Just a quick post to celebrate International Talk Like A Pirate Day!!!

Oooo, Arrrr me 'ardies!!!!

Ignorance and BIG OIL

I'm very weary of the ignorance of the American public in general and our politicians in particular concerning the proverbial BIG OIL situation in this country. If you are not up to reading some contrasting views on this topic and believe that BIG OIL is a monster hell bent on destruction of our society, then you should probably leave this blog now. If you are still here, I congratulate you on your willingness to remain at least partially open minded. Please read on....

First my credentials. I don't claim to be any kind of expert on energy of any kind. I spent some time in the 1970s working for a company that had most of the major oil companies or drilling companies as clients. During this time I was friendly with a lot of people involved in the oil industry and gained an understanding of how it used to work. I say "used to" because things have improved a lot since those days. I also read a lot on energy because it interests me.

I see 4 major myths being perpetuated today by politicians, the media, and a lot of citizens for action groups who haven't the least idea what they are talking about. Here they are along with my rebuttal.

1. The oil companies are greedy. To keep their record profits going they lobby lawmakers to prevent development of alternative energy sources.

2. Wind, solar, biofuels, hydrogen, and compressed natural gas energy is cheap, easy and readily available

3. Oil drilling pollutes and would ruin many natural areas.

4. Oil leases currently owned by the oil companies would provide plenty of oil so no new drilling is necessary.

I'll address these one item at a time.

Myth #1 Perhaps oil companies are greedy. Like any business or industry they are in operation to make money and to try to increase their profits for their share holders. If that is your measure of greed, then you'd be more comfortable in a communist or socialist society where nobody has a opportunity to make any more money than anyone else. Go to Russia or China and see how you like this model. Now lets look at the accusation that they are trying to prevent development of alternative energy forms.

This is incredibly silly. Oil companies aren't stupid. You don't get that rich by being stupid. They know that supplies of natural gas and oil are limited. Most oil companies have long been investing money into research and development of every kind of possible new energy source available. It is part of the greed thing. Think about it. Instead of wanting to stifle development of these energy forms it is far more financially astute of them to grow and OWN these new energy sources when the legacy of natural gas and oil is gone!! Even back in the 70s, many oil industries were deeply immersed in developing these energy forms. They have put many billions of dollars into research to that end and continue to do so. If it were easy to develop these sources and bring them on line to sell to you at a profit, don't you think it would have happened long ago? That brings us to the next myth.

Myth #2 Wind, solar, nuclear, biofuel, hydrogen, and CNG.... As mentioned above, none of these are as easy and cheap to develop, store, distribute and maintain as are fossil fuels with the possible exception of nuclear generated electricity.

Wind turbines and solar cells generate electricity from a "free" source, yes. However, the wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine and the turbines and solar cells aren't cheap and have to be constantly maintained. Electric storage must accompany these two technologies to furnish power when the turbines and solar cells aren't. When you add up the price of all of this, your kilowatt hour of wind or solar generated energy becomes more expensive than the coal, oil or gas fired generating plants we currently use. I will agree that these two technologies look very promising for the future as we learn new ways to deal with the storage and transmission problems involved but they are not yet ready to, or cheap enough to replace our present methods of electricity generation. Nuclear electricity generation is cheap and ready to go now.....but.....

Nuclear power is scary. Remember Three Mile Island? Remember Chernobyl? What about radioactive waste from the reactors? Bunk. France, whom we love to dump on for everything, has mastered all of these problems easily and now generates more than 80% of their electric power from nuclear power plants. OUR problem is that we've cow-towed to tree-huggers, the scientifically illiterate, and the "nanny state" radicals to the point where government regulations intended to "save us" from that "scary" nuclear stuff make it too expensive to develop. We desperately need to trash those regulations so that building nuclear power plants becomes economically viable to the large energy corporations who can afford to do it! Of course we need to regulate the nuclear power industry. What we DON'T need to do is to strangle it with over regulation as we have done over the past 40 years!

The madcap rush to develop ethanol and bio diesel in this country is a looming disaster. The world doesn't currently grow enough food to feed its population - a population that is growing geometrically while farm land stays the same - and biofuel nuts want to take a lot of the food we do have and make fuel out of it? It is just unbelievably stupid. Yes we can get ethanol from some plants which aren't food, (look at Brazil, but be sure to count the number of cars per capita and the cost of gasoline in that country!) but the process turns out to cost a lot more than current energy sources including oil!

Hydrogen and Compressed Natural Gas look promising. For Hydrogen we have to figure out how to produce it cheaply. We already have lots of natural gas but - guess what - to supply all we'd need to replace gasoline, we'd have to - you guessed it - do a lot more drilling! When we solve those two problems then all we have to do is figure out how to store these two fuels safely (They are highly explosive, you know! Much more so than gasoline!) and then convert cars to carry and burn them. Those conversions are pretty much available for fleet vehicles already but try pricing a conversion for your family grocery hauler! I looked. The numbers are still burned into my retina!! Anyway, lots of advocates of alternative fuels are trying hard to convince you that somehow these are simple problems that can be easily solved in a year or two. Sure. You bet.

Myth #3 The idea that you can't have clean drilling sites off shore and in the Arctic Natural Wildlife Refuge simply shows a complete lack of understanding of how drilling is done today. I would agree with this idea IF we were still using the drilling methods we used up through the 1960s. Wells from those days are the ones that have had problems. There have been virtually NO pollution issues associated with drilling since the 1970s when oil companies discovered ways to clean up their act and their image. Anyone who buys this myth knows nothing about modern oil extraction methods and is operating at a purely emotional and totally uninformed level. Are these the people you want controlling our energy policies?

Those who don't want off-shore drilling rigs to spoil their view need to be beamed up because they are definitely space cadets. In the 1970s people along the gulf coast had a bumper sticker that described their view of coastal states that proscribed off shore rigs. It proclaimed, "Let The Bastards Freeze In The Dark!". Amen.

Myth #4 That brings us to the topic of oil leases. What do you know about them? Where do they come from? What are they for? Huh? Got any answers? Yet you are willing to believe in the idea that the oil companies hold millions of these leases that we should force them to use or loose, aren't you? Okay - here's the scoop.

There is a virtual cottage industry built around buying and selling oil leases. Across the plains region of the country (and possibly elsewhere) many farmers seek to sell oil leases for their land to get a little extra money. In many cases no exploration has been done at all but they are always worth a few bucks an acre to speculators who might later resell them to someone else. Also, there is always the chance that an oil company will come along and spend the money on exploration, find some leases where the probability of oil is relatively higher, and buy the leases up from the speculator. Once they have done that they are limited by an old and existing law (No, we don't need another one of these!) to either develop the lease (drill) or turn it back after a given and relatively short amount of time.

The point is that holding an oil lease on a given piece of real estate doesn't mean that there is any oil there! You buy up oil leases as a hedge - a gamble - that there "might" be oil there. Consequently the oil companies buy up many oil leases and end up finding oil on, and developing only a hand full of them. So the story you are hearing from our congress that we should force the oil companies to use the leases they already have before allowing any additional drilling is pure stupidity. I wish I knew the percentage of oil leases that actually, eventually produce oil. I'm pretty sure it is a tiny number.

Now, let me say that I am a firm believer that we must make huge changes and make them damned soon, too! As I write this we are looking at a trillion dollar infusion from the government to save our economy. That's a lot of money! But remember that by the end of the year we will have sent 700 Billion of our dollars out of the country to the people we buy our oil from because our elected congressmen and senators have been too ignorant, lazy, and partisan to address this problem. 700 Billion and a few well chosen regulatory changes would have just about fixed the problem. Moreover, next year's 740 Billion projection added in would have solved the credit crisis completely and left us with some money in the bank.

I agree that we have to fix our oil dependency immediately, but let's not be stupid about it as a citizen. Let's read and learn what really *will* work before we go wandering off down the garden path into oblivion pinning our hopes on a fleeting wisp of ignorance. Congress will only do what we *make * them do, so let's not make them do the wrong things due to our own stupidity.

Friday, September 05, 2008

For Bob Meginnes...

Hello Bob,

Since you didn't leave an email, I have no way to get back to you so I have posted this to my blog in hopes that you will read it. Please send me an email at bmwwxman "at"

Jim Johnson

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Can you explain Kansas....??

I had an email from a friend in Califonia today. He travels with a rock band and said they always dread having to drive across Kansas in their bus. In replying to him it got me to thinking about what it is that I find special about western Kansas. Here's what I wrote him....


Yeah, Kansas is about 50 years behind the rest of the country. More than that in rural areas. The problem with driving through Kansas is that the highway engineers laid out all the roads across the most desolate and flat areas thinking they would make travel easier. It did, but it also made it deathly boring!!

You asked about Baseball.... With the possible exception of basketball, probably the greatest game in the state. There are bush league teams everywhere. Any city with more than 10k people seems to have at least one team - usually more. Farming and ranching (the state's major industry) is a hard life of sweat and muscle 24/7/365 so baseball furnishes the diversion from work. From early spring through late fall there are league games everywhere. Even during the week. And the local folks follow their teams voraciously and will drive 200 mi one way and back again for a game Those that don't drive back the same day (like for night games) jam the local motels.

Finally, Kansas has never really got the hang of tourism. We are something like 44th out of the 51 states and territories in tourism development. Consequently, only a handful of businesses have realized the financial value of having motels and restaurants along the interstate. Everything in central and western Kansas is based on the local customer so travelers find it difficult to fulfill their needs. They are looking for chain restaurants and motels catering to tourism that they are familiar with and there just aren't many of them! Mom & Pop businesses are still very much the rule here. We don't get many tourists so there's no infrastructure to support them.

I'm sure it all seems extremely rural by the standards of an Orange County resident, but once you get used to it, it is great!! I grew up in upstate New York and spent years living all across the US and Europe so rural Kansas was real culture shock for me when I first arrived some 24 years ago. Within a couple of years I realized the Agri based Mom & Pop local bias and now thoroughly enjoy it! You just have to set your mental clock back into the 1950s before interstates and Bingo! It becomes a great place to live. I know I will miss it when we move to northwest Georgia but I'm sure there will be some charming new life experiences there to replace it. Can you say "Bubba"? ;-)

And now I'm going down to the local diner for a blue plate special, cup of coffee, and a slice of home made pie..... There may be a few farmers there and we can tell lies about how good the wheat looks or how much rain we had in the gauge this morning....

Monday, January 28, 2008

I'm back, at last!!

Well, here I am back again well over a year since my last post. I am now a fully retired person and I must admit what people told me about retirement is certainly true. I am busier now than ever before!! Anyway, here is my comment on the primary campaigns to date. I reserve the right to change my mind at any time I so desire in the future ;-)

It is patently obvious that HillaBilly have begun spinning the race issue in the opposite direction. Let us remember that there are two sides to the race card. Racism dead in America? Not as long as the Clintons are around!

How about the previous several weeks when HillaBilly was trying desperately to show that *they* (not just she) were blacker than Obama was. Incredible!! Talk about your racial enablers!! Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Louis Farrakhan have NOTHING on HillaBilly! Create racism where none exists!! I loved her "my ass is blacker than yours" attitude during the recent SC debates! Man! What nerve!! For all intents and purposes she looked Obama in the eye and told him she (and Bill, of course) was blacker than he was! Are some people really dumb enough to fall for that crap?! Apparently so.

Eventually though, I do hope Billary gets the nomination. I think her "all things to all people" positioning will NOT server her well in the general election. It causes her to make mistakes and comes off too phony.

Because of that, Billary can be beaten by McCain, Romney, Giuliani or some combination thereof. Obama with momentum would be very hard to stop. Young voters who don't know their history and who are strong idealists find his freshness attractive but I don't think he possesses the experience and judgement to run the country in time of crisis both economically and in the war against terror.

The main mistake that all the candidates are making concerning the war (and I think that will become the major issue in the general election) is their read of the American public. True enough if we believe the pollsters, the public overwhelmingly wants the war to end. Surprise! Just like WWI, WWII, Korea...etc! What the candidates are missing (all except McCain and Giuliani) is that the majority of the public still wants the war to end honorably - preferably in a victory!!

We learned about precipitous withdrawal in the 1970s. Have we forgotten that already? Maybe so. An increasing number of today's voters weren't even born yet when we ignominiously pulled out of Vietnam leaving the communists to slaughter millions of innocents and shaming America as a country that doesn't keep its promises and is growing very weak.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Group Accomplishment

Recent events in my life have caused me to think about “group accomplishment”. Exactly what does it take for a group to accomplish something? Also, what happens to produce failure to accomplish?

In my estimation, for a group to accomplish something worthwhile requires vision, commitment and action.

Failure requires the lack of any one of the three and is therefore perhaps a more common theme in many groups and organizations.


In order to accomplish something – anything – a solid vision of what will be accomplished is needed.

I like to listen to the Thomas Jefferson Hour. I have a radio in the garage which I like to have on in the background while I tinker with my old car and motorcycles. Scholar Clay Jenkinson carries, I believe, the Jeffersonian vision across to the listener exceedingly well, though I am certainly no expert on Jefferson. The other day he quoted Jefferson (or perhaps paraphrased him?). I can’t cite the exact words but it comes out to be something like, “All my public life when required to make a choice, I strived to look past immediacy and to make decisions which would be sound for the future”.

Amen. How many times do you see groups and organizations - local and national – school, church and community, applying band-aid fixes to present problems with apparent total disregard for the long term outcome? If you stop to think about it, you’ll come up with “most of the time”, I bet.

It is, I believe, a lack of vision by the whole group which causes this. Some people are natural visionaries. Others have to work at it. Sadly, most people who are not natural visionaries choose the lazy way out and don’t even try. In a group, you must not only have a common vision, but you must maintain it throughout the group’s existence. The visionary in any group or organization provides that vision, but the group leadership must sell the entire group on the vision and keep reminding them of it for it to be truly successful.


In order to accomplish worthwhile things, group or organizational leadership must be tenacious about working toward the vision, but also in imparting the vision to the members of the group. Once the vision has been imparted, each member of the group must make a choice. Will they support the vision – commit to working towards it – or not.

In my experience, it is at this point where group members begin to fall by the wayside. The most successful groups I have worked in or with have usually required the members to sign some sort of a commitment document saying that they will make every effort to attend all meetings, be active, and perform assigned tasks on time.

Unless the group commits to doing what is necessary to accomplish the vision – and is tenacious about following the vision – the group fails even before the first chore is undertaken.


Finally, all the vision and commitment to that vision in the world is useless unless the group can be guided to do those things which accomplish the vision. The group leaders must be able to motivate the group members to actually do the work needed and they must always keep the vision foremost in their mind when assigning tasks. Otherwise, members of the group become disenchanted as they discover that the task they have been given to accomplish toward the goal is a dead-end, busy-work task.

Action by itself is rarely, if ever, useful. It must have the direction and purpose of the vision tied inextricably to it.

I was recently involved with a group which assembled a working sports car from a pile of parts in three days. Our visionary who dreamed the whole project up provided all of us with a clear idea of exactly what we were going to accomplish at the end of three days and continued to reinforce that vision to all of us throughout the project. The members of the group had traveled from all over the country to be there and participate, donating their expenses to the project and thereby making a significant commitment to seeing the vision through to the end. The action commenced on schedule with everyone involved in tasks which were leading toward the realization of the vision. When the smoke cleared on day three, we watched the car drive around with a terrific feeling of “group accomplishment”.

Some of the members of that group plus a few more are now involved in a new and much longer term project. I sincerely hope; 1) we can come up with a vision that all can share, 2) we don’t lose too many when the time comes to make the big commitment, and 3) those who do commit to the vision can be guided to do the most productive and rewarding tasks possible to achieve the goal of “group accomplishment”.

There is no better feeling, I think, than being part of a group which has just accomplished something really exciting and worthwhile.

Vision – Commitment - Action

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The French inspire a new word for your vocabulary!

Our erstwhile ally Jacques Chirac and his comrades in arms have once again cast all caution to the wind and leaped into maelstrom of world affairs with gusto. Having assisted the US in crafting a truly stern, vigorous and narrowly defined Resolution 1701 in the UN Security Council, our "devil may care" friends have now struck fear into the hearts of world terrorism. Not since LaFayette's arrival on America's shores has the world seen such grim determination from the French. Surely Hezbollah and the other rag-tag middle-east riff-raff are now quaking in their boots! I say, "Vive La France!!" And thank heaven our age old benefactor has seen fit to save our very bacon once again!

Only LaFayette came ashore to do battle with more grandeur! They say that he brought his somewhat larger entourage over in an actual ship! I read that some of them had guns. And used them, too! I am so inspired that I have decided to undertake a campaign to add a new term to the English language, to whit:

French verb (french) 'ed, 'ing, 'es. 'er :

1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of fear or cowardice.
2. To renege or fail to carry out a promise, resolution or commitment: frenched on the resolution at the last minute.


An act or instance of frenching as committed by a frencher.