Saturday, December 22, 2012

The end of our world

From the Diplomad 2.0:
Let's give this to the Mayans. They might not have nailed the exact date for the end of the world, but weren't too far off on the date for the end of our world, you know, that quaint old world in which individual freedom, responsibility, and initiative were prized and exalted. I'd say that date was, more or less, November 6. A Tuesday, I believe. That was the date that the greatest country that has ever existed made it official: it no longer wanted to be great. It preferred to live in a world of illusion, governed by crooks, liars, mountebanks, and hustlers. In other words, the spirit of Chicago City Hall defeated that of Faneuil Hall.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Marine To Be Released From Mexican Jail Friday

Former active duty Marine, John Hammer, has been in Mexican jail since August, on a trumped up customs violation. Looks like he'll be getting out today.

The Lie about Assault Weapons

Here is an excellent video explaining automatic and semi-automatic technology, and discussing the difficulties of defining "assault" weapons. The video shows the technology remains the same, even if the appearance of the weapon changes from "sport" to "assault." So you have to ask, what will a ban on assault weapons do? It will simply ban the appearance of the weapon, and if that isn't the ultimate deception sold to the American people, then I don't know what is. They will use semantics to pass a law and the actual "killing" technology will never change.

The New Post Racial Era

What this really seems to mean is "reverse racism" if we take racism to be something only whites have the power to do. Who's The Man now?

Victor Davis Hansen: Unchecked racial tribalism

Obama, during the campaign, brilliantly -- and cynically -- targeted particular hyphenated voting groups on the basis of their race and ethnicity -- on the assumption that such voters could be loosely united by opposition to a purported uncaring and shrinking conservative establishment. After the election, the Obama campaign asked its supporters to complete a survey that included a checklist with racial identifications -- with white omitted.
There is a growing danger in this latest round of racial tribalism. Stirring up the pot for short-term political gain in a multiracial society is abjectly insane.
If the new racialism grows unchecked, it will eventually lead to cycles of backlash and counter-backlash -- and some day to something like the Balkans or Rwanda.
People are just people. But they can turn into veritable monsters when -- as a great American once warned -- they look to the color of our skin rather than the content of our character.

Am I a Threat?

Authored by "A Marine Officer" at The American Thinker: Am I a Threat?  An active duty Marine gives his opinion on why infringing upon the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment is the wrong response to mass shootings and those who abuse their rights.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Conservative interests are black interests

Courtesy of New York Times Op-Ed, this is disgusting:

For Mr. Scott, the true test will come in 2014, when he will have to run to complete the final two years of Mr. DeMint’s term. (If Mr. Scott wins, he’d have to run again, in 2016, for a full six-year term.) As Mr. Obama has shown, the question is not whether whites are willing to vote for a black candidate, but whether black candidates can put together winning coalitions (no matter their racial makeup) and around what policies. I suspect black South Carolinians will not be drawn to Mr. Scott.
The trope of the black conservative has retained a man-bites-dog newsworthiness that is long past its shelf life. Clichés about fallen barriers are increasingly meaningless; symbols don’t make for coherent policies. Republicans will not gain significant black support unless they take policy positions that advance black interests. No number of Tim Scotts — or other cynical tokens — will change that.
Tim Scott represents conservative values with sincerity. The only symbolism he presents is one that shows those values do not depend on the color of your skin. This op-ed writer demonstrates that color trumps the message, and that is something that only people like Tim Scott can change.

Anti-gun activists are masters of hate speech

People screaming invectives at the NRA don't really felt threatened by law abiding citizens with guns. If they did, they wouldn't keep trying to incite 4.3 million armed NRA members. Right?

To see true hate speech read Michelle Malkin's article The Post-Newtown Witch Hunt.

Is Hillary a malingerer?

In an appearance on Fox News, Bolton said that Clinton’s claim that she had fainted because of the flu, hitting her head and suffering a concussion, was what foreign service officers call a “diplomatic illness,” intended to free a diplomat from an unpleasant duty.

She said that Bolton and others who have questioned the concussion “are people who don’t know what they’re talking about.” “It’s unfortunate that in times like this people make wild speculation based on no information,” she said.
Sort of like what we were told about a video being the cause of the Benghazi attack?

Ke$ha's "Die Young" has nothing to do with school shootings

Ke$ha's song "Die Young" was pulled  in response to the Sandy Hook shooting. Are they also going to pull Billy Joel's "Only the Good Die Young" too? And the Band Perry's "If I Die Young"? And Black Sabbath's "Die Young"? And there's so many more.

Salute to Staff Sergeant Pritchard

Nashville dad, and Marine Staff Sgt., Jordan Pritchard stands guard at his children's school. SSgt Pritchard is unarmed.  "What this uniform represents, the hope it brings, is larger than any weapon that I would ever need," Pritchard told the station.

Semper Fi, Devil Dog.
Marines are all over the news lately:
Marine Corporal John Hammer remains in Mexico jail since August for being in possession of an antique shotgun that he registered with U.S. Customs. Mexico's "very stringent gun control laws" will keep Hammer in jail through Christmas, the laws are particularly "as a result of the weapons illicitly purchased in the U.S. and then trafficked into Mexico." Thank you Fast & Furious.

Marines helped clean up after Hurricane Sandy. "They’re storming the beaches! A wave of Marines hit the most hurricane-battered sections of Queens and Staten Island yesterday to bring much-needed assistance and supplies to increasingly desperate residents. Armed with high-powered water pumps and sophisticated surveying equipment, the Leathernecks, aided by Navy sailors, began their attack on floodwaters from Rockaway Beach in Queens to Midland Beach on Staten Island.“It’s what Marines do. They just go running,” said Marine Sgt. Justin Armstrong, who returned from Afghanistan about two months ago." 
A gay Marine Captain recently proposed to his partner at the White House:  "Our first date was to the White House, so I wanted to propose to him there," Phelps told ABC News. "When I got invited to the holiday tour - six months to the day that we had been there on our first date - it was way too much of a coincidence to pass up."
Marines are a pretty diverse group wouldn't you say?!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thomas Sowell: Gun Control Ignorance

Thomas Sowell discusses the untruths of gun control arguments:
Places and times with the strongest gun-control laws have often been places and times with high murder rates. Washington, D.C., is a classic example, but just one among many.
The rate of gun ownership is higher in rural areas than in urban areas, but the murder rate is higher in urban areas. The rate of gun ownership is higher among whites than among blacks, but the murder rate is higher among blacks. For the country as a whole, hand-gun ownership doubled in the late 20th century, while the murder rate went down.

Solving the wrong problem

The problem to be solved is homicide generally, not specifically gun massacres. Ezra Klein, at the Washington Post:
I’ll tell you what scares me: I don’t think we know how to prevent a tragedy like the Newtown massacre. The more information that emerges on the killings, the less effective any of the potential policy remedies appear to be.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Does the cultural War on Young Men contribute to mass murders?

Professor Jacobson at Legal Insurrection has a great post on this generation of young men.

Gun laws and the reality of futility

Here is an excellent article by Megan McArdle in The Daily Beast. She states the obvious - there isn't much we can do about mass shootings by way of passing laws. Her former colleague at The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg, also has an excellent piece on the futility of gun bans. Both have rational responses to what reasonably and effectively can be done in response to mass killings. I recommend reading the articles in their entirety.

Jeffrey Goldberg, who ultimately argues for more citizens to be armed, lists recommendations universities make to their students if they encounter a shooter:
These recommendations make for depressing reading, and not only because they reflect a world in which random killing in tranquil settings is a genuine, if rare, possibility. They are also depressing because they reflect a denial of reality. . . .
  • Wichita State University counsels students in the following manner: “If the person(s) is causing death or serious physical injury to others and you are unable to run or hide you may choose to be compliant, play dead, or fight for your life.”
  • The University of Miami guidelines suggest that when all else fails, students should act “as aggressively as possible” against a shooter. The guidelines, taken from a Department of Homeland Security directive, also recommend “throwing items and improvising weapons,” as well as “yelling.”
  • Otterbein University, in Ohio, tells students to “breathe to manage your fear” and informs them, “You may have to take the offensive if the shooter(s) enter your area. Gather weapons (pens, pencils, books, chairs, etc.) and mentally prepare your attack.”
  • West Virginia University advises students that if the situation is dire, they should “act with physical aggression and throw items at the active shooter.” These items could include “student desks, keys, shoes, belts, books, cell phones, iPods, book bags, laptops, pens, pencils, etc.”
  • The University of Colorado at Boulder’s guidelines state, “You and classmates or friends may find yourselves in a situation where the shooter will accost you. If such an event occurs, quickly develop a plan to attack the shooter … Consider a plan to tackle the shooter, take away his weapon, and hold him until police arrive.”
It is, of course, possible to distract a heavily armed psychotic on a suicide mission by throwing an iPod at him, or a pencil. But it is more likely that the psychotic would respond by shooting the pencil thrower.
Megan McArdle discusses just "doing something" so that we like we can control the situation:
It would certainly be more comfortable for me to endorse doing something symbolic--bring back the "assault weapons ban"--in order to signal that I care.  But I would rather do nothing than do something stupid because it makes us feel better.  We shouldn't have laws on the books unless we think there's a good chance they'll work: they add regulatory complexity and sap law-enforcement resources from more needed tasks.  This is not because I don't care about dead children; my heart, like yours, broke about a thousand times this weekend.  But they will not breathe again because we pass a law.  A law would make us feel better, because it would make us feel as if we'd "done something", as if we'd made it less likely that more children would die.  But I think that would be false security. And false security is more dangerous than none.  

My guess is that we're going to get a law anyway, and my hope is that it will consist of small measures that might have some tiny actual effect, like restrictions on magazine capacity.  I'd also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once. Would it work?  Would people do it?  I have no idea; all I can say is that both these things would be more effective than banning rifles with pistol grips.  

But I doubt we're going to tell people to gang rush mass shooters, because that would involve admitting that there is no mental health service or "reasonable gun control" which is going to prevent all of these attacks.  Which is to say, admitting that we have no box big enough to completely contain evil.  
I think recognizing that evil exists is a step in the right direction. 

"Who needs an assault weapon?" is the wrong question.

From a post on Facebook: "I'm not political, but I have to ask: why does anyone need an assault weapon?"

If we allow ourselves to answer this question, what is the next one?

Why does anyone need a house that big? Why does anyone need to drive an SUV? Why does anyone need to drink more than 16 oz of soda? Why does anyone need to make more than $100,000 per year?  Why does anyone need a fur coat? Why does anyone need to travel to the Bahamas? Why does anyone need to smoke a cigarette?  Why does anyone need to drink alcohol? Why does anyone need to smoke marijuana? Why does anyone need _______________?

So you say, none of those things hurts anyone else? Well, maybe, but aren't they all in excess, according to someone? To whom do we give the power to decide?

The question that needs to be asked, and we are still in the question stage, is how did this happen? When we have the facts, we can start to form solutions. We may not find solutions. We may also find that if there are solutions they will be unpalatable.

Monday, December 17, 2012

"What if there is nobody or nothing to blame for Adam Lanza's heinous acts? Other than Lanza, of course."


Is the answer to gun violence, more guns?

It is a frequent retort that the response to offensive speech is not less speech, it's more speech! That truth is easily proven - if speech is offensive and demeaning, the response is not to keep others from speaking those things, it is to flood the air with positive speech, to drown out those ignorant people who want to spread a negative and harmful message. Sort of sounds like fighting fire with fire.

While the First Amendment is not centered on protecting offensive speech, it is inherent in the amendment that it does so - who is to judge what speech is offensive? The First Amendment protects speech that is disliked in one way or another by those in power, those who would have the power to ban it. The First Amendment protects divergent views and opinions. In doing so, speech that is generally offensive to many also gains protections. That is the price we pay for a free society.

If that is true for the First Amendment, then could it also be true for the Second Amendment? It seems that there is no realistic way to rid our society of all gun violence. So then, the inquiry is whether we can reduce it, and if so, how? Stricter gun control is the quickest solution offered whenever the tide of gun related killings reaches a high point (inevitably, it also recedes, and the discussion wanes until the next time). But many states already have strict gun laws, and mass killings still occur. Most of these mass killings occur in gun-free zones as well, so while law abiding citizens are unarmed, those who wish to do harm gain an advantage. These incidents should be enough to show that disarming citizens who wish to do no harm with their guns is not a solution to stop the mad man from carrying out his plan.

On the other hand, what if more citizens were armed? In specific instances, the last resort to stop the mad man may be the armed citizen who actually physically stops the shooter with a well aimed bullet, or even the sight of an armed citizen pointing the weapon in his direction. This may stop or minimize a specific incident of violence.

But what if our cultural mindset changed such that it was the norm that everyday citizens could be expected to be armed. Would this cause violent people to contemplate the success of their plan a little more thoughtfully? It could reduce the brazenness of these crimes - where shooters appear to have no fear of anyone except the police, at which time they cowardly take their own lives. If they would just make their last shot their first, it would be more preferable.

A few effects of a cultural shift to valuing each person's right to self defense - more confidence and more resistance to violence would be instilled in the general public. Criminals and those who wish to prey on a weakened populace would be more wary, and might be dissuaded from committing the crime altogether, or will, unfortunately for them, have their fears confirmed by the little old lady with a concealed carry permit. 

It must also be remembered that creating laws  is something like squeezing a balloon. While one side is reduced from the pressure, the air only moves to another place of lesser resistance. More laws actually create the need for more laws. This would be true of more gun control - if guns cannot be used to carry out the act, other weapons can be substituted, and some can be more devastating - bombs have a higher killing capacity than an individual with a gun, and a person with a bomb still holds the record for the most killed in a school killing (1927, 38 children, 45 total for the incident). This fact should show that it is not the access to weapons that is the problem, the person behind the scheme is the common factor.

As Kira Ayn Davis notes in her video, evil is not amenable to law enforcement.

Kira Ayn Davis: You Can't Ban Evil

Tim Scott to be named new senator from South Carolina!

Gov. Nikki Haley will announce the selection today at noon.
Mr. Scott offers a unique story and background, one that is in scant supply in their party right now. Raised by a single mother, he was, by his account, a lost child who struggled with school and with life until a Chick-fil-A franchise owner took him on as a protégé and schooled him in conservative principles.
“Coming from a single-parent household and almost flunking out of high school,” Mr. Scott said in 2010, during his bid for the House, “my hope is I will take that experience and help people bring out the best that they can be.” . . .
Mr. Scott, who lives in Charleston, will no doubt be missed among many of his House Republican colleagues. “There is not a kinder, more humble, sweet-spirited person,” Representative Trey Gowdy, one of Mr. Scott’s freshman colleagues from South Carolina, who was also considered for the job, said in an interview last week. “That is somewhat antithetical to what you’d expect at this level of politics. “ 
He was my pick too.

According to Wikipedia, Tim Scott will be the first black senator from the South since 1881 (and the only one currently). There have been six other black senators. Two from Mississippi during Reconstruction (both Republican), and in the modern era, three from Illinois (all Democrat, including Barack Obama), and one from Massachusetts (Republican). In the House, there have been several black congressmen. All of them were Republican until 1935. After that, no black congressmen were Republican until Gary Franks from Connecticut 1991-97, then J.C. Watts, Oklahoma, 1995-2003, then Allen West, Florida, and Tim Scott, South Carolina, both elected in 2011. Allen West lost his reelection bid this year (the voting procedures are legitimately in question, but he conceded), so there will be no more black Republicans in the House with the departure of Tim Scott. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Free will is a gift from God

One father of a little girl murdered in Connecticut possesses unimaginable strength and faith in God. He answered questions yesterday displaying great humanity and declared a belief in free will - that God gave us free will, and it was up to us to decide how to use it. He acknowledged that it is our choice to determine how we use this gift from God. His words made it ever more heartbreaking that his child would not go forth into the world to continue this message of faith.

It is at this place I hope we could remain for a while, and contemplate how something this horrible can happen if God does exist. That somehow this result is a gift from God? It is, and as it should be, a sign to all of us that evil does exist in this world, and that we have the free will to rise up against it, at the very least in our own actions, and perhaps also to provide an example to others by living a life of faith. This will take as many forms as their are individuals on this earth, but the end convenes equally for all - that we try to live a life in the image of God.

There is plenty of time for the facts to be gathered and solutions to be offered. Do not, at this point, become entrenched in positions that may not reflect the true causes of the problem - for we do not know what that is. Let's wait for these things to develop, keep an open mind that searches for the truth as it is, not as some wish it would be, and for now, cherish the little souls, and their hero teachers who guided them through evil to meet the One who loves us the most.

5. Bastiat ~ The Fatal Tendency of Mankind

Frederic Bastiat was a French economist and statesman. During and after the Revolution in 1848, he warned of the inevitable degeneration of socialism into communism in The LawPrevious Bastiat posts can be found here.

From The Law:

Self-preservation and self-development are common aspirations among all people. And if everyone enjoyed the unrestricted use of his faculties and the free disposition of the fruits of his labor, social progress would be ceaseless, uninterrupted, and unfailing.

But there is also another tendency that is common among people. When they can, they wish to live and prosper at the expense of others. This is no rash accusation. Nor does it come from a gloomy and uncharitable spirit. The annals of history bear witness to the truth of it: the incessant wars, mass migrations, religious persecutions, universal slavery, dishonesty in commerce, and monopolies. This fatal desire has its origin in the very nature of man — in that primitive, universal, and insuppressible instinct that impels him to satisfy his desires with the least possible pain.