Monday, December 31, 2012

   ways O manipulated the policital process 
Benghazi, Lockheed, census, questionable use of Privilege, stymies freedom of information
O's lack of belief in democracy
       signing statement  
       doma vs. obamacare
prager:  hypocrsy vs. inconsistency
    should one espouse ideals that he does not live up to
    "republican candidates have to walk on water"
mi!itia  ********

Link between Asperger's and violence

I suppose this deserves a post of its own.  I recently mused on a personal reminiscence and discussed how those with high-function ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) might well harbor special resentments about their isolation and ill treatment, while cautioning that this doesn't mean that they are especially susceptible to punishing random, innocent people on rampages.  Even those whose autism manifests in a violent reaction to environmental stimuli that can't be coped with, won't necessarily be likely to plan and execute some vengeful spree.  It is a different phenomenon.

John Elder Robinson has, naturally, published some short articles on the relevance of an alleged Asperger's diagnosis to the Newtown massacre.  He makes some valid points.  For example, he says,
Correlation does not imply causation.
Correlation does not imply causation. . . . It was a random, irrelevant coincidence. . . .How about this factoid: Most school shooters are Caucasian males. You might find that statement a little more shocking than the previous one. But it’s true. Does that mean every white male Caucasian who enters a school is a potential mass murderer? Of course not.  Suggesting a mass murderer had Asperger’s is much the same – it may be true, but stating the fact does nothing to explain the crime, nor does it help prevent other crimes in the future. What it does do – and this is important – is paint a whole swath of population – Asperger people – with a brush that says “potential mass murderer.”

This is a valid point and it puts me in mind of both the irrelevant reminders in media that the Tea Party movement is "mostly white" as well as the recent eagerness of certain journalists to identify (wrongly, it turned out) a shooter as a Tea Party affiliate, as though that connection would be somehow relevant.  A killer's mental diagnosis is a more plausibly relevant fact, though as Robinson argues, it could unfairly bias the public.  He seems to be implying that the information should be filtered as obviously irrelevant.  Maybe, more appropriately, it should be more properly vetted and put into perspective by an expert. 

Robinson elsewhere says,
There is no scientific evidence linking ASD with homicides or other violent crimes. In fact, studies of court records suggest that people with autism are less likely to engage in criminal behavior of any kind compared with the general population, and people with Asperger syndrome, specifically, are not convicted of crimes at higher rates than the general population.

Another good point, although, as Iohawk cautions on an unrelated subject, Simpson's Paradox can fool us.  It could be that a particular subset of ASD people that exhibit violent behavior are more likely than more "neurotypical" people with violent histories to go on killing sprees, but that this is obscured by the much larger subset of ASD people that are much less likely to do violence than their neurotypical counterparts.  In fact, Robinson's citing of statistics on criminal behavior in general may further obscure significant correlations.

Those caveats aside, I think there is much more provocative data supporting a link between psychotic rampages and psychopharmaceuticals than between them and ASDs:

Michael Moore Maligns Civil Rights Hero as Racist


In the movie Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore features an interview with Charlton Heston, and interview that seems climactic for Moore's argument that violence in America and America's enthusiasm for its 2nd Amendment rights are based in racism.  (Moore seems adept at "Critical Race Theory.") 

My #1 Question:  If you have seen this movie, what did you think Heston meant when he said, "We had enough problems with civil rights in the beginning."  Did you think that Heston was talking about the civil rights movement as a problem?  I know I did when I first saw the film.  I thought the interview made it seem that Heston keeps guns to make himself feel protected and safe from minorities.

Of course, this was before I learned that Charlton Heston was one of a small group of Hollywood players that really stepped to the forefront to advocate for civil rights in its true heyday in the 60s (watch video below). 

Also, his role in the 1963 March on Washington.  Now, this is easily confirmed historical fact.  Was Michael Moore simply unaware of all this when he put his movie together?  Maybe this experienced documentarian just doesn't do his homework.  In the 23 minute interview with  Heston (which was pared down to 7 minutes for the movie) did Heston shed more light on what he meant about America's "mixed heritage" but was edited out?  Did Moore deliberately mislead  us about what Heston thought about race? 

Read here for some other interesting facts about Heston's NRA speech featured in the film and some historical oddities about Moore's alleged racist history of the historically anti-Klan NRA, another pivotal part of Moore's gun-rights-are-racist argument.  Also, an interesting link between the NRA and anti-KKK defense.

Incidently, I'd like to thank Michael Moore for helping me realize more quickly just how little Progressivism has to offer and to help me reconnect with conservative thinking.  His blatent disregard for the truth and his utter reliance on non-fact to prove his point made a big impact on me at a critical time in my life.  Thank you, Michael Moore for being such an obvious propagandist. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Class Warfare at the Edge of the Fiscal Cliff


Two (related) things are on my mind today.  (1) The willingness of good, open-minded people to become instantly inflamed over the idea of corporate profits being at an all-time high (this relates to the provocative graph above), and (2) something I recently saw on CNN.  CNN was discussing the fiscal cliff negotiations before many people would be taking their Christmas break.  No, this was not a discussion of differing points of view.  This was a discussion between concerned like-minded CNN correspondents on why it would be really, really good for the GOP if they would follow Boehner in breaking their read-my-lips pledges.

Yes, this worked wonders for George H.W. Bush's career, didn't it?   Remember those Democrat ads constantly reminding the people that Bush 41 had made this same deal with Democrats?  Funny how they used Bush's willingness to work with them as a bludgeon in the following election year.  Kind of like how the Democrats have maligned Bush 43 for supporting the very outlays they wanted, increased funds for education and medicine-- Democrats now act like it was mainly international warfare that were the principal factors in our pre-TARP deficits (think Biden's "two wars on a credit card" quip).  

The Bush 41 capitulation was a repeat of Reagan's regretted capitulation to raising taxes.  Reagan capitulated because the agreement was that there would be $3 in cuts for every $1 of tax increase.  But it somehow never materialized. 

This puts me in mind of the majors news outlets repeatedly discussing Romney's supposed absence of specifics (are there a lot of pre-negotiation specifics?  what were the pre-negotiation specifics of "Affordable Care"?)-- with no discussion of the specific cap on deductions idea.  And then into December where was the discussion of what Obama and his party comrades were willing to concede in serious spending reductions?  What specifics?  Where was the leadership? 

Realize this:  The Obama era deficits dwarf the Bush era deficits even during the height of the Middle East efforts, with the exception of the last year dominated by the TARP bailouts.  The crisis spending (which may well have been a bad idea) for the bailouts was taken by this administration as the "New Normal" for spending: Obama being championed as not signficantly raising the bar on spending.  Even with Congress being temporarily dominated by the Democratic party for the first two years of Obama's term, they couldn't get spending down to the lowest mark of the Bush years, let alone the Clinton years.  They would be going back on the very outlays to which they got Bush 43 to agree!  When their total lack of accountability brought about the Tea Party revolution of 2010, they had to blame that on racism because there was no better canard, and they desparately needed to divert attention. 

Famed "centrist" Obama, hailed as a pragmatist in 2008, heir-apparent to the new Clintonian "fiscal conservative progressive" movement, in a teachable moment were everything should be on the table, has made one thing essential and non-negotiable:  Tax the rich.  Nope, he's definitely not an ideologue; he just thinks his principle of fairness trumps every consideration when all our livelihoods are potentially affected.  Don't worry though, it will all be the fault of the silly Republicans with their silly commitments and pledges--if you watch CNN. 

As the CNN talking heads put it:  Why are the Republicans so out of touch with their leader Boehner?  Why can't they just play follow-the-leader?  Well, gee whiz, maybe there's someone else they have to answer to, hmm?  Perhaps the people that elected them based on their silly pledges, hmm?  Maybe they somehow figure into this.  But hey, I'm not a high-paid CNN policy wonk so what the &#%$! do I know?  That's probably not an important factor to bring up in any "discussion" like this. 

Anyway, back to corporate profits and unemployment.  Record profits with high unemployment!  Why, there must be an epidemic of greed!  More greed than there's ever been before!  All this terrible economic woe where people can't spend as much money as before and corporations are somehow making more money than ever before!  Why, that's positively criminal!!!! 

If you click on the graph here, you'll see that there is always a lag effect in employment.  Compamies do not hire everyone back all at once.  Sometimes unemployment actually does not even start turning around once a recession is over (look at 1992).  People start buying again, but companies don't immediately hire back everyone.  They are very cautious.  This isn't new!  As things stabilize, only then do they see that their profits will truly be maximized by hiring more people.  Companies aren't charities!  The only reason they hired all those people to begin with (before the recession layoffs) was because those people allowed the company to do more business and make more money.  That's why companies slowly and eventually re-hired people.  Unemployment falls after an upset but ALWAYS falls much more slowly than it rose during the recession.  Unless you are re-defining greed as not wanting a company to go under, this is just basic market dynamics.

In spite of the increased profit margin with fewer employees post-recession, corporations know that in the end, they make more money by being able to handle more business.  Hiring any new employee is an investment.  The company shells out a lot of dough up front without neessarily seeing a return on that extra expenditure for some time.  It takes a stable, growing economy for a company to take that risk.  Until then, they accumulate their profits to make strategic acquisitions or to weather upcoming economic after-shocks. 

Another thing to look at.  The 1982 spike in unemployment.  Reagan, in the short run, allowed a major market upset in order to get runaway inflation under control.  He supported the Federal Reserve in not artificially reducing unemployment by devaluing everyone's money (as the recent severe inflations of the Obama years have done significantly).  This cause an upset that would have ousted Reagan during an election year.  Reagan took the hit because with business-friendly policies he believed there would be a quick recovery.  By 1984, unemployment was even lower than before the mighty spike.  By 1988 unemployment was at pre-1975 levels.  The recession that partly lost Bush 41 the election was eventually followed by the Clinton-Gingrich reforms (helped too much by the dot-com boom) with a new low in unemployment.  Capital gains tax rates went to an all-time low even when Clinton wasn't facing re-election.  Meaningful spending cuts, meaningful welfare reforms, business-friendly policies.  

All the greed rhetoric and fairness posturing doesn't seem to be facilitating discussion.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bill Maher is so darn funny

Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter, died a while back from a truly freak accident.  After all the very dangerous situations Irwin had put himself in for his wildly successful tv show, he died of a stingray injury.  A stingray spined him a perfect shot to the heart.  Bill Maher, who seems to think that anyone that doesn't think much like him should be phased out in Darwinian fashion, showed his contempt for the danger-prone Irwin with his Halloween costume seen here.

Oh, Bill, you're so witty!  No one can accuse you of passing on an opportunity to show what a tool you are.

Related:  Does Wayne Brady have to choke a Bill?


Friday, December 28, 2012

A Hypertrophied Sense of Order: So the Trains Will Run On Time

"The one thing that actually works, state run communism a bit– may not be your cup of tea, but their government works."
   ~ Jeffrey Immelt, chairman of Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness

"There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today.  One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages."
  ~ Thomas L. Friedman, NY Times op-ed "Our One-Party Democracy"

There seems to be no question that [Mussolini] is really interested in what we are doing and I am much interested and deeply impressed by what he has accomplished and by his evidenced honest purpose of restoring Italy.
   ~  Franklin D. Roosevelt, to Breckinridge Long, US Ambassador to Italy 

"Sometimes I look at a Socialist — the intellectual, tract-writing type of Socialist, with his pullover, his fuzzy hair, and his Marxian quotation — and wonder what the devil his motive really is. It is often difficult to believe that it is a love of anybody, especially of the working class, from whom he is of all people the furthest removed. The underlying motive of many Socialists, I believe, is simply a hypertrophied sense of order. The present state of affairs offends them not because it causes misery, still less because it makes freedom impossible, but because it is untidy; what they desire, basically, is to reduce the world to something resembling a chessboard... The truth is that, to many people calling themselves Socialists, revolution does not mean a movement of the masses with which they hope to associate themselves; it means a set of reforms which ‘we’, the clever ones, are going to impose upon ‘them’, the Lower Orders."
  ~ George Orwell, "The Road to Wigan Pier"

"Fascism was really the basis for the New Deal. It was Mussolini's success in Italy, with his government-directed economy, that led the early New Dealers to say 'But Mussolini keeps the trains running on time.'"
   ~  Ronald Reagan, Time Magazine, 1976


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Post-Racial Musings

In the Hollywood scene, I wonder if you can see the uncanny resemblance between J.T. Walsh's son (left) and the first of Schwarzeneggar's love children (right):


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What is worth giving up for personal security?

Is there a connection between crazed attacks and pharmaceuticals?  A side worth hearing:

Some thoughts to ponder.  If there is a causal relationship between these mass killings and the unfortunate side effects of psychopharmaceuticals, would it be better to mostly give up the massive availability of these prescription drugs for the populace.   Assuming for the moment that more suicides are prevented by these drugs than caused by these drugs (and many are caused by them), is it better for there to be more adults and teens taking their life (and trying to address this problem through other means) than to have kids turning psychotic and possibly harming several pre-adolescent children?

Let's set the gun issue aside for the moment and try to answer that question honestly.  There are many other causal policies that impact so many other childrens' lives; so many potential laws (concerning medical practice or automobile use or toxic chemical use, etc.) that could mean so many more parents not having to spend a sad Christmas wondering why fate singled them out for this ultimate tragedy.   Of course, it is apparently not sheer numbers of children harmed that seem to foment a demand for action, but the idea of several small children meeting a linked tragic ending all in one foul swoop.  That supposedly must be prevented at all costs, even if it means suppressing serious discussion of 2nd Amendments rights as the "price of our freedom," the availability of arms as our ultimate guarantee against totalitarianism.  Preventing similar tragedies that result from terrorist attacks is however not considered so essential that we need to give up our Constitutional rights of privacy (which Amendment is that?), or at least that is what most progressives and liberals expressed prior to Obama's presidency.

What if the Columbine killers had successfully carried out Plan A, which was to blow up the school and kill every kid inside, instead of the few that they settled for?  Would that have been worth a Patriot Act or more intrusive invasion of privacy to prevent the accumulation of materials that might possibly be used to make a bomb?  What rights of privacy should we give up to prevent sex trafficking in the U.S.?  Would a kind of Patriot Act be worth having fewer women chained surreptitiously in the basements of private residences?  Is leaving these women in hell the "price of our freedom" (as President Obama would phrase it)?

I don't think there is a single issue like this that can't be demagogued and essentially reduced to an emotional argument.  What amount of safety and security is worth giving up essential liberty?  

Monday, December 24, 2012

Post-Newtown Focus on the Mentally Ill

I knew a family a while back with a teenager who, among other things, appeared to be grappling with high-functioning autism or Aspergers' or similar ASD syndrome.  Shane was a very sensitive, loyal sort of boy that wanted friends but due to his social awkwardness had difficulty getting the friendships that he craved.  At an early age, his oddness had made him an obvious target to bullies.  While he was not a weakling, he had no friends to take his cause, and he was always outnumbered.  I've since found that his story isn't close to being isolated among those with an ASD or ASD-related symptoms.  At any rate, as much as he craved social ties, he harbored a lot of anger and low self-esteem from having his dignity taken from him in regular beatings at school.  (Funny, where were all the people concerned with bullying back then?)  The lack of social connection only reinforced the negative feelings of those that made him feel worthless.

One day Shane was walking on the sidewalk (as an older teenager--larger, tougher, and much less of an obvious target), a jerk on a bicycle ran him off the sidewalk and not only didn't apologize but insulted him.  Whatever transpired, it apparently brought back the feelings of being bullied.  He had set up a lawn chair by the mailbox and was sitting there with an axe leaning against the mailbox by the time his father was made aware that there was some situation brewing.

Something I have always wondered about was whether the axe was specifically meant for intimidation or whether it had a more disturbing purpose.  I think that this young man, in a very emotional sense, was not sure whether he was defending his dignity or his life; and this may have been heading in a terrible direction.  At any rate, his father came and talked to him and, having got the story from him, set him upon a different course for reclaiming his dignity.  They found out where the jerk lived and knocked on his door.  This jerk's father was clearly embarrassed and apologetic and seemed to imply that this was not the first situation of the sort that had come up.  The jerk eventually showed himself but at a distance and even though he was invited to work out his hostility in a fair fight he refused and slunk away.

This seemed to satisfy the otherwise troubled Shane, and a similar situation never arose.

I recalled this recently while reading Maggie Gallagher's column about the dark side of autism.  Personally I don't think that this young man was ever in any danger of hurting random strangers, let alone small defenseless children.  He would probably have been deemed a danger under the sorts of risk-flagging that have been discussed post-Newtown.  But this is not to say that Gallagher doesn't have a point about the playing down of the dark side of autism.  When the focus is on not marginalizing those with ASDs (a worthy cause), it becomes natural for many journalists to advance the cause via filtering of the news.  If the preferred narrative is that those with ASDs are just "differently-abled" and valuable members of society, then it doesn't help to confuse matters with contradictory information that hurts the cause.  Or at least, I think this is how many journalists process reality for us.

I disagree with such thinking, but I also think that there was an isolation at work behind the rage.  Without the family support in his life, I think Shane could have been manipulated by a true sociopath, his social rejection channeled into a total retaliation against "society", the way that Klebold manipulated Harris leading up to the Columbine massacre.   Fortunately, I think the unconditional love of his family gave him a center that inoculated him from moral anarchy.  A lot of the violence we see may be a coupling of natural (but largely preventable) rage coupled with modern "blame society" rejection of personal accountability.  If enough wrong has been done to me, my violence is understandable and excusable.  Hey, one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter.  It's all relative.  Or so we're told.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Swedes descend into enlightened madness

What if I told you that the Minister of Culture in Sweden participated in the following stunt to call attention to the plight of third world females living with the effects of female circumcision:  Make a cake that looks like a vintage caricature of a female African savage and serve the cake to delighted, cheering activists.  Mmmm.
It's the Swedish minister of culture cutting up a taxpayer-funded cake baked to look like a racist caricature of a black woman at the opening of an exhibit about the horrors of female circumcision, and a crowd of people laughing while she feeds a piece of it (red velvet, natch) to the actor in blackface someone hired to poke their head out from a hole in the table so that it looks like the cake is alive and crying. Ok, folks — we're declaring moratorium on smug talk about how much better everything is in Sweden.
So bizarre.  In America, I think this would be considered tasteless.  It's one of those things, I think, that you have to see to believe.  I find myself questioning the sanity of these people.  A total conflation of high-brow academic irony with indulgent kitsch spectacle.  In other words, sheer madness that DE-sensitizes.  Never has worldwide tragedy been so much macabre fun (but in an "enlightened" sort of way), an occasion for such fiendish glee.

Maybe these people are onto something though.  Maybe we should call attention to the drowning of newborns by "prom moms" by making use of a dunk tank with an actor in a diaper wailing as it falls into the water.  Yeah, that's the ticket!  Maybe we could foment social change over school shootings with a kind  of carnival duck shooting game with screaming children replacing the ducks, and we can all laugh at what outrageously smart and ironic activists we are!  We are changing the world through the outrage and having such a goo time in the process.  Woohoo!

If these images are not sufficiently haunting, watch the "performance art" as participants cut into the cake and the sober response of the onlookers:

I'm not against art simply because it is disturbing or evokes revulsion, but I think this has gone past all sensibility or justifiable social commentary.  This is simply revolting and functions as little more than a particularly horrific sort of violent pornography, a perverse entertainment ironically masquerading as social conscience.

A spokesperson for the National Afro-Swedish Association, Kitimbwa Sabuni, remarked, "[The Swedish minister's] participation, as she laughs, drinks, and eats cake, merely adds to the insult against people who suffer from racist taunts and against women affected by circumcision."

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Two Ways to Cook Rice

Here are two similar commentaries about a couple of Rice's.   Both are in positions of being spokespeople for Presidents under controversial circumstances. 

Does one of these mindless parrots look particularly ethnic in some way?  A caricaturish way? 

No.  Just my imagination.  Is it my imagination that people that criticize Stacey Dash, Clarence Thomas, and several other black people as "Uncle Toms" and worse somehow don't get excoriated over it?


Someone else has noticed the "Rice discrepancy" as well.  But I suppose it simply requires a memory of political events, and not particularly long-term at that.

Perhaps one of the unspoken justifications for this is that Condoleeza's commander-in-chief was white.  Maybe?  Check out this frame for "Condi Rice": 

And the famous one that cartoonist Danziger claims wasn't racist because it was inspired by Gone With the Wind.  Which explains why Condoleeza is portrayed as a black mammie.  What about the WMD Iraq controversy was particularly evocative of this aspect of Gone With the Wind?  Anyone know? 
Danziger sho nuff don't know nuthin' 'bout stereotypes.  Maybe Danziger just knew instictively that the media and the NAACP wouldn't give him a hard time about this.  Hmm?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Democrat Weiner epitomizes attitude toward Estate Tax

Representative Weiner (who eventually became famous for his exposed libertinism following his many Clintonesque denials) is seen here responding to questions about the morality of the estate tax, with all the childishness and petulance he can muster.  You have to admire the smug, bored, snotty look on his face he keeps for the whole exchange. 

If I do manage to make a significant nest egg for my surviving family, apparently I would have to transfer it to them somehow before I died--but even then, perhaps a gift would be taxed as income (though not quite as roughly taxed), because after my death it is the government's largesse that allows some of it to be given to my loved ones who are, in Weiner's estimation, not entitled to stuff they haven't earned. 

Wiener, er, Weiner dismisses this in typical class warfare fashion as money unfairly gained.  Its unfair that so much money lands in the lap of your children because they didn't earn it, even though you possibly worked very hard to provide it for them, not to provide it for the government.  My wishes don't matter.  If my ghost were to appear post-mortem to denounce the government vultures preying on my bank account, Wiener's response to me, apparently, would be "You're dead.  What you want doesn't matter any more. You have no rights any more that the federal government needs to honor." 

Do my privacy rights disappear after I die?  Should my death open a door for the federal government to invade the privacy rights of my family?  I'm dead after all and all my privacy rights died with me, right?  Or maybe my welfare is wrapped up in theirs?   Why is the State obligated to comply with my last will and testament?  I am not a person any more.  My rights, including my right to contract, died with me.  The state has no obligation to honor my wishes.  I'm just a dead body to pilfer, a corpse with pockets to raid, a right-less fetus with stem cells ripe for harvesting, a mere opportunity.   

But it's obviously important to Wiener to keep the question from being framed within the rights of the deceased.  And just as important to the Democratic Party.  Inheritance is not just income like any other kind of income, it's actually a lesser sort of income.  It's dirty money.  You are getting money your parents earned for you, not money you earned for yourself, you capitalist swine.  You are living off the dead instead of making money to support the government dependency programs.     

Straight from Karl Marx to all socialist doctrines (including those of fascism and progressivism and modern "liberalism"), the hatred of private capital (as long as it doesn't belong to some big Hollywood celebrity) manifests specifically as the hatred of accumulating capital for one's family. 

As with many progressive policies, it's the upper middle class that is hit much more squarely on the jaw than the well-established uber-rich (who tend to advocate for progressive policies that keep the up-and-coming middle class from supplanting them).  The uber-rich have the inside track on the trusts and tontines and other legal angles that allow their families to avoid the estate tax vultures.  It is the middle class that remains vulnerable.  I think it was Alfred Jay Nock that said that the very poor and the very rich are alike in this one sense: they have the least "skin in the game" when it comes to Jeffersonian liberty and free markets.  And the most to gain from fascism and crony socialism.  

Note: Some may argue that I'm conflating estate tax and inheritance tax.  If you read about the difference, you might understand why I think these are just legal gymnastics that allows government to double-dip and twice feast on the dead.  Government collectors feast before the goods are distributed, and then collectors feast again after the goods are distributed.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Where have the liberal patriots gone? (Or, What does Obama need with a starship?)

People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both." (Benjamin Franklin)
Eight years ago, you would have thought that liberals worshiped Patrick Henry.  I wrote back in October about how left-leaning citizens seemed to love the above quote by Franklin back then.   You know, even if I was skeptical of the various Bush-is-evil conspiracy theories, I at least agreed on this point:  It's not unpatriotic to question the motives of your President and your Congressmen.  In America, it's unpatriotic to try to stifle (instead of merely controvert) dissent and questioning.  (Now, it may be unpatriotic to undermine national interests over certain concerns, but that is an argument for another time).

I heard left-leaning friends and acquaintances railing back then against the Patriot Act:  Why, the European nations live with terrorism in their borders; why can't we?  Oh, because we're afraaaaaid, that's why!  We'll give up our freedoms for a little security in a heartbeat, us scaredy-cats. I can't believe Americans would give up their liberty out of fear.

Funny thing: terrorism tends to not just harm adults.  Terrorists typically don't worry about whether children get hurt, directly or indirectly.  The liberal grassroots didn't seem to be asking then whether we were "doing enough to keep our children, all them, safe from harm" or whether by refusing Patriot Act powers to the government that we were giving up the "freedom to send [our] children to school & expect them to come home alive" or "[f]reedom from the fear of senselessly losing children."

Better to live with a terrorist attack now and then in our borders than grant the federal government power that they might be tempted to abuse.  That's what many, many liberals were loudly voicing.  But that was before 2008.  Now we have a liberal President, and there is the tendency of most left-leaning citizens to not believe that the 2nd Amendment does anything to help preserve our rights from despots (let alone be useful in preventing more mundane crimes).

Before 2008, it might have had a more sobering effect on right-leaning citizens if they had thought "How might a liberal President use this power;" whereas left-leaning citizens should similarly fear Executive power if only because a Republican might eventually have those powers at his disposal.  Both would do well to realize that it's not simply a man gaining power, but an Office.

And now that very little time has been wasted since the deaths of many Connecticut children for President Obama to advocate for policy change with regard to the Bill of Rights, I ask, "Where did all the liberal patriots go?"

Here's one liberal who isn't caught in the "Only Federal-Level Gun Ban Can Save Us" haze:
I was not, and am not, under the illusion that a handgun would have necessarily provided a definitive solution to the problem posed by Colin Ferguson. But my instinct was that if someone is shooting at you, it is generally better to shoot back than to cower and pray. Would a civilian firing back at Ferguson have wounded or killed innocent people? Quite possibly yes. Is that a risk potential victims quaking under train seats or classroom desks might accept? Quite possibly yes. Especially when you consider the massacres that have been prevented or interrupted by armed civilians before the police arrived.   ~ Jeffrey Goldberg, article in The Atlantic
Here's another:
In no other country, at no other time, has such a right existed. It is not the right to hunt. It is not the right to shoot at soda cans in an empty field. It is not even the right to shoot at a home invader in the middle of the night. It is the right of revolution. Let me say that again: It is the right of revolution. 
 ~ Kaili Joy Gray, article in The Daily Kos
Gray gets it. The 2nd Amendment was meant to guarantee a balance of power with "the people," to give them a fighting chance to "alter or abolish" (in the words of The Declaration) a government that no longer protected their freedoms and had its own standing army to resist being "altered."  A disarmed public can't even be a militia (oh, how feared is that word!).  They would be sitting ducks for despotism.  

Well, those are two.  Where are all the other liberal patriots?

If the liberal patriots were still around, some might receive Obama's "give up your rights for the children's" speech with a measure of suspicion and skepticism.  Even though, unlike Alan Gopnik, Obama alludes to the actual purpose of the Second Amendment (rather than the "satisfaction gun owners take from their guns"):  "Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children, year after year after year, is somehow the price of our freedom?"  Here is the antiquated (or so it seems to liberals) worry about despotism (so 18th century) weighed against the very real danger to our children.  Are you willing to sacrifice your children for some outdated concept?  Is this old trope of Progressivism what is meant by "the politics are too hard"?

If the liberal patriots were still around, some might be suspicious when the President says that "keeping our children safe . . . is something we can only do together, with . . . the help of a nation."  It requires national (read: federal) gun policy to prevent/lessen massacres?  Why?  ("What does God need with a starship?")

If the liberal patriots were still around, they might be getting suspicious when religion is invoked to bring about radical policy change: "That is how as a society we will be judged."  While the New Testament records some harsh words about those who harm children, the New Testament doesn't specifically link it to judgments on societies.  If Obama is going to wax Biblical, he could make a better argument that a society will be judged by repentance and its acceptance of Jesus' message of salvation.  I wonder why he's making a theological argument at all.   Weren't our liberal patriots super-skeptical of theological arguments once upon a time?

Like the freedom to never go hungry or sick or jobless as long as the federal government has the key to your neighbor's pantry (and bank vault), the freedom from attacks by maniacs awaits you.  All it takes is giving up essential liberty even when "the politics are too hard." Then you will be "free" to be safe.

Excuse me, though... What does Obama need with a starship?

(*Note:  I have since been informed that Jeffrey Goldberg may not be an example of a leftist, even though the article citing this quote described him as such.  So, my count actually falls from two to one liberal patriot.)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Spree Killers: Why Do They Do It?

Famous school shooting fantasy scene from The Basketball Diaries.
According to Wikipedia, before Andrew Kehoe perpetrated the Bath School Disaster, he had posted the following sign on his farm:  "Criminals are made, not born."

Like the recent Connecticut school massacre, Kehoe's mass murder started with a home killing.  This is also similar to the Pearl High School spree, in which Luke Woodman stabbed and bludgeoned his mother (in contrast to the apparent irony being advertised for Nancy Lanza as a "gun enthusiast and the first victim"--not-so-subtly implying that if only she hadn't kept guns around...) before starting his spree at the local high school.

Uncharacteristic of these other sprees,  Woodman was apprehended by the assistant principal Joel Myrick who, contrary to law, armed himself and held Woodman at gunpoint.  Woodman was on his way to continue his lesson to society at the nearby junior high school when he was intercepted.  (The police hadn't had time to respond--they might not have even been called yet.)

According to Wikipedia, before the police arrived Principal Myrick demanded that Woodman explain why he had killed the kids.  Woodman replied that the world had wronged him.  Before the school shootings, Woodman reportedly sent a message to a fellow student explaining: "I did this to show society, push us and we will push back. ... All throughout my life, I was ridiculed, always beaten, always hated. Can you, society, truly blame me for what I do?"  

What I would like Americans to ask themselves is why in the history of America, a history filled with adolescents and social outcasts who had access to household firearms and knew how to use them, we have had relatively few incidents (compared to the last half century) of killing sprees targeting the public, bystanders, co-workers that did nothing wrong, people at restaurants... until after the 1960s.  

Is the fascination with removing a convenient means of killing (which is also a necessary means of keeping democracy for all and a necessary means of self-defense for many) a canard to keep society from self-reflecting on what has changed to predispose people to blame "society" and take?

We have, for one, a culture that has more and more entertained the idea (and encouraged youth to entertain it) that people that lash out in violence need special understanding, that one man's terrorist is another's freedom-fighter and people that blow up buses of schoolchildren are obviously just reacting to great injustice that has been served to them.  It is a culture that increasingly rejects personal responsibility and diffuses blame around.   We also have more and more children not being raised according to their parents values but rather being raised by television, movies, video games, and the philosophical tidbits of their educators.  We've had repeated attempts to redefine the way society and family work.  We have people simultaneously laughing at those who try to protect abortion survivors from neglect and protect prenatal infants from brain evacuation and curettage, calling it liberty, while acting outraged at teenagers that kill their newborns and demanding life sentences for them.  Why are our teenagers so confused about the sanctity of life?  It boggles the mind.

After a number of killing sprees in China accomplished with knives (there is serious gun control in collectivist states), "[s]ome analysts have suggested that an increase in psychiatric illnesses brought about by rapid social change is behind the attacks."  Well, China has gone through several generations now of the government experimenting with the family structure and promoting social loyalties over family loyalties and otherwise redefining things according to the whims of "central planners."  Why would that affect kids' minds?

You know, bullying is nothing new.  In general, it has possibly gotten worse in the last several decades with the decline of public schools, but insecure children have long targeted other children for anything: being overweight, wearing funny clothes, being effeminate, shy, etc.  For many, many, many decades, bullied children didn't take their dad's guns to school and start shooting.  If there were any fantasies like those in The Basketball Diaries, they stayed as fantasies.  Taking Andrew Kehoe's claim at face value, why is society making more terrible criminals out of teenagers?  Gun availability isn't the variable that has changed.

There was a time, for that matter, when Lizzy Borden's rampage and the events in In Cold Blood were relative anomalies and much more shocking than they are now. What has changed since then?

What you will probably hear in answer to this question (in the rare event it is entertained publicly), that societal changes are too sweeping and complex to analyze and there's no way to roll back the clock to the 1950s (and that would mean bringing back the bad things of that time), we really have no choice but to "just get rid of the guns." It is The Answer.

"For years they spent a lot of money saying, 'There's no other way! There's no other way!' They said it so many times, people actually started believing it."

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Our Comforter-in-Chief: The Emperor's New Tears

Since our President has made a tearful entreaty for change in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, and since there doesn't seem to be much that is remotely conservative about the positions he takes, I think it is fair game to question where he's coming from.

This statement on its own bothers me:

"I know there's not a parent in America who doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that I do."

Actually, Mr. President, parents in America are experiencing some deep sympathy and mostly fear--fear that the unthinkable could happen to them as well.  Some parents who have been through the unthinkable tragedy already are re-experiencing their pain.  But there are parents in Connecticut right now whose grief actually is overwhelming them, suffocating them, and your natural sympathy (and that of most of the rest of us as well) is not even close to that.  We don't have overwhelming grief!  Those parents do!  We are in shock, in fear, and have a secondhand hurt and horror at the thought of what it must be like for those devastated parents.  But our grief isn't crippling us like it is them.  Not even close.  That grief is so paralyzing, it is painful to look at.  But you can look away.  You can be distracted. Those parents can't. You have no idea, Mr. President, and I truly hope you never do.

For those who have seen the movie Broadcast News, and for those who haven't, I rewatched that press conference a few times looking closely at Obama's eyes.  Obama wipes the underpart of his eyes which is the natural reaction when your eyes have welled up and then overflowed.  If the eye has not yet overflowed, you have to make near-contact with the eye to check the impending tear, and there is a trail.  There is no glossy smear under his eye after he wipes, there is no visible welling in his eyes leading up to wiping.  To me, it really looks suspicious as an conscious attempt to get people to stop thinking about the issue and emote on the issue instead.  It just doesn't look real.  I'm not saying the Obama doesn't feel bad about this massacre; I just don't think he's as emotionally moved as he leads us to believe.  He's warming up the audience for "we have got to do something about this."

Obama is President.  His children have been (unfortunately) potential targets since he took office--it's an unfortunate problem with that job.  They are constantly protected and they have to be.  He fears as parents do (although our children are much less protected).  But I've lived firsthand watching the day-to-day grief of parents that have lived through the unthinkable, and what I just saw is not someone who is remotely sharing in that grief.

When I wipe my eyes, as I have had to do several times since I started this post, it is a messy affair.  One wipe smears the saltiness around producing wetness and salty irritation and I end up having to press my hand into my eyes to clear the mess.

But only the wise can see The Emperor's New Tears.

Gun bans in Washington

A liberal speaks out in defense of the 2nd Amendment (yes, you read that right; try not to faint):
We complain about free speech zones. The whole country is supposed to be a free speech zone, after all. It says so right in the First Amendment. But when it comes further restrictions on the manufacture, sale, or possession of firearms, liberals are not even silent; they are vociferously in favor of such restrictions. Suddenly, overly broad restrictions are "reasonable." The Chicago and Washington D.C. bans on handguns -- all handguns -- is reasonable, even though the Supreme Court has now said otherwise.
Notice Chicago and Washington D.C. are pointed out as examples of total gun control.   Guess which cities are especially notorious for violent crimes--even crimes involving guns.  You may have heard a lot about D.C. but hasn't Chicago come a long way since Prohibition?  Our President says,
 [F]rankly, in my hometown of Chicago, there’s an awful lot of violence, and they’re not using AK-47s, they’re using cheap handguns.” 
And those handguns have been banned all along.  But they are still being used to kill. Why won't criminals respect the gun laws?  Unfortunately, the more law-abiding citizens of Chicago are not well-defended.

Of course, Obama's pledge that "new gun legislation will not be on the political agenda this [election] year" expires on December 31.  ("Vote for me--I won't try to take away your 2nd Amendment rights for at least a few months.") 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Politicizing Tragedy: Another Rampage Killing That Won't Go to Waste

Having had a gun-related death in my family, I have experienced the grief and witnessed firsthand the shattering, paralyzing grief of parents.  It's horrific.  And, in that context, I can say that I don't appreciate the ambulance-chasing Michael Moores that are waiting in the wings to turn the grief of family members into political fodder.  I sure wouldn't have appreciated Bob Costas throwing in his 2¢ (even if someone had 1½¢ to give him back in change) on our personal tragedy.

Now, when Obama declared (or suggested, rather) a very reluctant truce on his attacks on gun rights, I was sure that Nov. 6th was the expiration date for that truce.  He has a history of saying whatever will get him elected.  Whether you knew he never meant what he said about marriage, individual mandates, CSPAN, debt ceilings, etc. or simply have a media-induced case of Obamnesia, that history is there.

It's been less than two months. Obama is tearing up on television and talking about renewing the gun "discussion": “seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced, but part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence, because frankly, in my hometown of Chicago, there’s an awful lot of violence, and they’re not using AK-47s, they’re using cheap handguns.”  Yes, in spite of Chicago practically being a liberal's ideal gun-free zone, criminals still manage to get weapons and kill unarmed citizens before the police can answer the 911 call.  And wait, the killings were accomplished with 9mm pistols, so is Obama's segue into cheap handguns mean that ordinary citizens should not be allowed to own cheap handguns for fear that they will walk into a school?

Remember that at Columbine Harris and Klebold were trying to outdo the Bath School Disaster of 1927.  With bombs.  Fortunately, they were not as good at terrorism as Andrew Kehoe, so they resorted to shooting several when what they really wanted a truly enormous death toll.  A bit more practice with their home bombs and they might have pulled off what J.D. failed to do in Heathers.  Most rampagers probably have less narcissism involved in their killing, but remember that Andrew Kehoe seemed to be making a statement that society was to blame for his troubles: "Criminals are made."  Was Kehoe made a criminal by the school he blew up?

As one might imagine, China doesn't like its ordinary citizens to have guns.  (They might have had a revolution long ago.)  So their rampages are mostly accomplished with "melee weapons."

On a related note:
Remember how CNN showed Obama tromping around the Hurricane Sandy devastation (and buried the disturbing follow-up), while interviewing a member of the E Street Band for political commentary on why Romney's nod to the 10th Amendment was all wrong?  (Message: After Romney throws your grandma off a cliff and counts his money as your wife dies of cancer, he'll make sure that your city gets no adequate help after a disaster, because he's rich and doesn't care.)  That sure wasn't politicizing a tragedy to plug a candidate, nope.

What if this school shooting had happened the week before November 6th, and CNN had shown Obama tearing up over the senselessness and then had George Clooney being interviewed as body bags are shown being wheeled off the campus:
"Mr. Clooney, what do you think of gun control legislation in light of recent events?"
"Well, I have to say that anyone that isn't willing to rethink the 2nd Amendment must not be as sick of these senseless tragedies as I am, Bob..."
And then, we could have had Chris Matthews say after the subsequent Obama win, "I'm so glad we had that shooting last week..."  Yes, what are a few lives considering the fabulous opportunity they afford to politicize the event and gain a political victory?

Think of all the lives that could be saved by restricting vehicle ownership and vehicle operation.  Especially in the 18 to 25 age group.  Why don't we do something about that?  The 2nd Amendment at least is about guaranteeing our right to democratic government.  Isn't vehicle operation just a luxury entitlement compared to that?