Monthly Archives: December 2012

Memo For File CLXXVI

We’re down to just a few absolutely-must-do things today, one of which is to memorize the wedding vows. Uh, the ones I wrote myself. Yeah. Probably better get that done.

There’s a phrase in there about my bride-to-be’s “positive energy.” This may perhaps get into things that ought not be part of a wedding ceremony, since it’s nit-picky and overly-philosophical. But eventually I decided, if everyone else gets to talk about life and how to live it, and the way it all works, then so do I. Besides, that’s the whole point. “Life and how it works” is the primary skeletal structure of a wedding. We are accustomed to the tears and the rice and the flowers and the satins and the bow ties taking center stage, because their whole purpose is to grab attention and that is their nature, but I’ve noticed we forget that these things are just fleshy tendril bits of the organism, little more than mere decoration. The whole point to attending the wedding is to commemorate an event, and the event has to do with life and the way it works.

And if the bride didn’t have bundles and bundles of positive energy, we wouldn’t be there. The groom still has to say yes for it to take place. This one’s been saying no for a long, long time.

Now, about that. I’ve written in many places over the years, on my way to making some other point, that our efforts may be concerned with creation, preservation or destruction, and it is important to know which one’s being done when one contributes to the design, or the effort, of an idea. When a person exerts effort to further some ambition while maintaining a confusion about whether that ambition is destructive or creative, that person is saddled with a special kind of wrong-ness. This is one of those points about the nature of truth, and our living of life within it, that seems so self-evident that it’s a bit silly to go taking the time to point it out, but point it out we must, for it is forgotten quickly and frequently. I’m sure if you were to go looking for examples of this point I’ve been making, catalog and classify all these instances, you’d find most of the time I’m talking about our friends the modern liberals for this is their perpetual state: Engage some long-running, self-energizing effort to destroy some certain thing, and pretend they’re building something.

As He Really IsHow does one become confused about such a thing? The answer is that human effort is, or at least can often be, inherently confusing. There are entirely legitimate pursuits that consist of an effort to do something to one thing in order to bring about some situation which is necessary for some entirely different thing to be done to some other thing. Think, for example, about destroying one thing so that some other thing can be preserved. Our military does that all day and every day. They destroy for a living, but they are not, by nature, a destructive force. There is a complexity to their mission. The liberals with their simplistic revulsion against icky guns may deny it, but this layer of complexity is key to the defense mission and it is present in all sorts of other human pursuits. We preserve things to destroy other things, we destroy things so that other things may be created, we create things so something can be preserved, we destroy one thing to create another, we create to destroy, et al. Destructive tasks are begun and finished so that something else can be created or preserved, pretty much all the time, so simply acting to destroy something does not necessarily make one into a primarily destructive agent.

But it does create a temptation to go down that path. “In order to build X, we are going to have to destroy Y.” It isn’t long before X is entirely out of the picture. “Bob keeps me from doing my job so I can’t do my job unless Bob is fired.” Pretty soon, you’re not driving off to work every day to do your job, you’re going there every day to get Bob fired. This is sleek, sexy, seductive…stultifying. It warps the human imagination, drive and enthusiasm, darkens our souls, and it is easy to forget how quickly and effectively the anesthetic works.

Conservatives dance on the edge of such a precipice when they talk about getting rid of Barack Obama: “In order for America to succeed, we have to get Obama out of there.” Now that this isn’t very likely, people need to come to grips with their own true nature. The positive-force types have said to themselves “We are going to have to find a way for America to succeed, in spite of Obama.” Whereas the negative-force types will have to reshape their ambition to be one of “We are going to have to find a way to get rid of Obama, without an election” and begun talk of impeachment. The left-wing counterpart to this, of course, is the climate change “movement” which is supposed to have something to do with “science,” although nobody who pays attention to it really thinks so. (A “movement” within science? Is that allowed?) Global warming…climate change…what is it all about? It is about this in-order-to complexity of mission: “In order for the environment/planet to thrive or endure” — preservation — “American business has to be destroyed” — or diminished, which involves destruction. There. I have enumerated the primary colors of this global warming “movement” and described exactly how they blend together.

And, the people pushing it have ascended to their own special plateau of wrong-ness, for they mistake their own endeavor. They think they are trying to preserve something, when the destructive energies have completely taken them over. How many of these global-warming people drive vehicles big enough to tow a boat up to Folsom Lake, and launch it there, in order to scoot off to work in an office cubicle somewhere? They don’t give a tinker’s damn about carbon emissions. Oh, I know they’re not all like that, there’s that Ed Begley Jr. looking hippie-dude I met down at the recycling machine when I took the beer bottles in for proper, earth-friendly disposal. But overall, the climate change “movement” is heavily populated with a bunch of hypocrites who fail to live the humble lifestyle, and what’s much worse I think, is that those non-hypocritical enthusiasts who do live the proper lifestyle, are apparently entirely unconcerned with their compatriots who are hypocritical and do not. This effort is not about that. It isn’t preservative, it is destructive. Its whole point is one of destruction.

So on this day when I’m getting married, my thoughts naturally turn to alliances. I’m seeing one of the most enduring classifications of human tragedy, is this type of story that begins with an alliance between the destructive and the ignorant. And that’s what my divorced-guy’s-vow has become over the years. Oh yes, divorced guys have vows, you didn’t know that? Yup, show me a thousand divorced guys, I can show you a thousand vows. The vows all begin the same way, as the ink is drying on the dissolution order: “I”m never getting married again.” Some of those don’t change, most gradually reshape into “I’m never getting married again until…” Or “The next woman I marry, if there is one, will…”

And my divorced-guy vow reshaped into “I’m never getting married again until the institution of marriage pulls its head out of its ass.” Which, truth be told, against all odds could be said to have happened. Last time I was married, marriages were about “The man worries about the bills being paid and the checking account not being overdrawn, and the woman worries about being maintained in the lifestyle and manner to which she has become accustomed.” The people who (somehow) made their marriages happy and long-lasting, in a cruel irony, were blissfully unaware of all this, with the divorced-dudes being the only ones who were keenly aware of it. But those were the rules. “She bounces checks, so your finances will always be a disaster, and when you married her you said that was perfectly alright so shut up.” Now that Bill Clinton has entirely obliterated whatever credibility the third-wave feminist movement had, this has softened somewhat and womens-equality has come to embrace, or at least tolerate, a sincerity and a realism that were missing from it before. We can go ahead and push for women to have equal responsibilities to go with their equal rights. As a package deal. This is somewhat new.

My divorced-guy vow then morphed into a more humble turn, to “I’m never getting married until I stop being foolish and ignorant.” Well, that’s probably not going to happen. I’m no different from any other mortal, therefore I know barely one percent about anything. But this has softened into “I’m never getting married until I find a way to let go of that special ignorance.” And see above. The special ignorance of forgetting about one’s own efforts: What am I trying to do? Create something? Preserve something? Destroy something? I made reference to the “type of story that begins with an alliance between the destructive and the ignorant” — my earlier marriage, along with many of my more foolish pursuits in years gone by, these are all part of that. I imagine I’ll be snookered again in some other things I’ll be doing, since we are not perfect and unfortunately, neither am I. But the vow was that should there ever be a second marriage, then it, at the very least, would not be part of that. That is the final shape and form of this divorced-guy’s-vow, and it’s been met. That is why there will be a wedding tonight.

Destructive and IgnorantYou ever stop to think about how life would change, if these destructive types…these lost souls, these fallen angels, the “I’m destroying something to build something else, but I can’t quite recall at the moment what it is I’m trying to build” types…could somehow be kept from entering into these unholy alliances with the people who are like I was all those years ago, the foolish types, the stupid types, the ones lacking the wisdom and experience to perceive things as they are? What if we could somehow drive a wedge between the destructive and the ignorant. Drive them apart and keep them from ever unifying again, maybe cloak them in some chemical or hormone, like a birth control that keeps the sperm from ever meeting with the egg. Imagine such a thing. There would be no liberals, not as we know them now. Marriages like my first one would cease to exist, and with that change, I suppose the bulk of all dysfunctional marriages would cease to exist on the spot, and never exist in the first place. We’d still have feminism I suppose. There is a need for it, or at least, there was. But the feminists would look a lot more like my Mom: Eye on the prize, on equal opportunity and equal treatment, but always ready to study what was being put before her with a scrutinizing eye, ready to say “This is looking more and more like a man-bashing party, and I’m outta here.” Oh, I’m sure we’d still have women who blame men for all their problems in life, but they wouldn’t be able to sucker in new, ignorant, recruits. There, as in other places, that’s where the problem starts. The destructive unify with the ignorant.

No global warming “movement.” No Occupy movement. The cable ratings for The Daily Show would drop off. President Obama’s political existence would have ended the moment He said “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.” No United Nations. No socialized medicine. If organized labor could continue onward, it would look very different from the kind we have come to know. The college curricula would be shedding classes left and right, most of the ones whose names end with the word “studies.” We wouldn’t have atheists filing lawsuits to take down Christmas trees and crosses, or at least those lawsuits wouldn’t get very far. No “community organizing.” No “social justice.” Alternative fuels would be developed like any other technology: Tinker with it until you have something practical, but until that day comes, don’t obstruct anything. There would be no ADA abuse, no small businesses being sued or fined into oblivion because the recycling bin was put in the wrong place.

I’m not sure how we do that. I suppose if we want to avoid becoming the self-delusional destructive types, we have to be ready to admit “We can’t find a way to change that, so we’ll have to work at surviving and prospering with the situation as it presently exists,” to adapt to realities. But if so, I think it is still worth acknowledging that this is the source of a disproportionate number of our most vexing problems. The ignorant, “marrying” or at least forming alliances with, the destructive. This seems to be where much of the trouble starts. If we cannot take action upon that, then we should make a note of it at least.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes and Right Wing News.

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An Open Letter to Both Houses of Congress

Please vote “no” on any so called “assault weapons” ban.

Anti-gun advocates are pushing hard in the heat of the moment to rush through legislation that violates the intent of the Second Amendment.  In their zeal to take advantage of any crisis, they seek to consolidate ever more power in Washington and eliminate perhaps the most important check on Federal abuse in the Constitution — that being private citizens retaining the power to abolish a government that becomes too tyrannical.  The Federal Government was not formed to grant and revoke rights, it was formed to protect our God-Given rights.

“… to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

The Second Amendment is, as are all of the standing amendments, a part of the Constitution.  It can be revoked, but only by the Constitutional Amendment process.  I don’t see anybody moving in that direction.  The movement is in the direction of what the Constitution, via the second amendment, specifically prohibits.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

It does have an introductory clause, but that clause does not change the meaning of the declarative portion of the wording, which is ” the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

It doesn’t just protect our right to keep them.  It protects our right to carry (bear) them.  And that right — protected as a directive to the Federal Government as to what it specifically cannot do … SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.

What part of SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED do these people not understand?

in·fringe
/inˈfrinj/
Verb
1.Actively break the terms of (a law, agreement, etc.)
2.Act so as to limit or undermine (something); encroach on

The first definition applies in that to actively break the Natural Law that gives us the right would be an infringement.  But the second definition is the definition that most people think of … to “act so as to limit or undermine”.  So the Federal Government cannot act so as to limit or undermine the right of the people to keep and bear arms.  That’s what it says.

It doesn’t say it “shall not be infringed” “unless”, or “until”, or “as long as”, or “but only if”…

It doesn’t mention hunting.  It doesn’t mention sport shooting.  It mentions security of a free state, though.  That bit was apparently far more important.

If we want to address mass murders, let’s address mass murderers.  Let’s also address the gun-free zones that enable them.   Let’s not break the Constitution by infringing on the right of millions of law abiding citizens.

Your job in Washington is an important one.  It is not, primarily, to make laws.  It is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

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Want

Call me nuts, but I think American politics go in cycles. Reagan’s victories, coupled with Obama’s, prove this. At the same time, I think there is some legitimacy to the idea that our sense of “right” and “left” drift around across time. Reagan was not about the same issues as Obama; those who seek to confuse and distort argue, and there is a kernel of truth to what they say, that Obama is “conservative” in some things and Reagan was “liberal” in some other things. But philosophically, there is some consistency across the decades and it is clear to me that our prevailing culture is picking one thing in one time, and another thing in another time.

Some say Mitt Romney lost the election because he came up with a plan to create jobs, and “fifty-one percent of the country said ‘fuck that!'” I think that’s true. Others say Romney lost because he and Paul Ryan were (demonstrably) less inspiring than John McCain and Sarah Palin, and there might have been some anti-Mormon bigotry feeding into it too. I think that is also true. But, in the 1980’s, a Romney/Ryan ticket would’ve fared better.

So if you can stomach just one more comment about what Republicans need to be fixing, this late in the game: I don’t think the country has gone liberal, quite so much as it has gone primal. We’re living in a time in which arguments are won by whoever appeals to base impulses, or demonstrates their own. It is the configuration of the contests, not the ideology of the options presented during those contests. This hurts conservatives because the default configuration is: Liberal says “I want” something-which-should-be-a-right, and the conservative says “All fine and good, but if that becomes a right, then there are consequences…”

People are bored, aggravated, impatient. They don’t want to hear about consequences. They’ve made anti-social behavior into — well, in this day and age that is how you behave properly in a social setting, by being anti-social. You’re supposed to have some other group in your cross-hairs, in order to get along with yet another group.

In this setting, people who say “I want” are generally more impressive. You remember The Hidden? Right before Kyle McLachlan immolated that guy with the flamethrower, the evil alien that lived in people’s bodies made this positive impression on the pool of reporters and spectators by saying “I want to be President.” Up until that point, this was just a calling-card of sorts, how you knew someone had been invaded by the alien — since real people don’t talk that way, of course. Someone would look at a red sports car and say “I want this car” and you knew the alien had taken ’em over. At this point, it’s more like an ominous foreboding: Everybody loves the driven determined guy, so the evil alien is going to become President because it goes around saying it wants stuff.

Irony is: That’s the typical Hollywood lib’s idea of the eighties. People going around acting all selfish, making a big deal out of wanting to get things for themselves, and the poor proletarians being fooled into thinking this is somehow a good thing. But in reality, outside the Tinseltown fantasy land, that’s a perfect description of the Obama era.

Conservatives have a tough time with this. The very movement is about resisting the temptation to think like a toddler; it is about delayed gratification. Liberals are the child, conservatives are the parent, so the liberals are grabbing for the candies and the conservatives are saying no, we’re eating dinner in a couple hours. Or, we have to check that and pay for it first.

I don’t know if it’s this simple; but it could be. The odds do not favor, but the fact remains we haven’t tested it. When is the last time you’ve heard it stated in these terms?

If some suicidal maniac is picking people off with a pistol so he can go out in a blaze of “glory,” and I’m within that tragic vicinity, ya know what? I want to have a gun. I don’t WANT to be defenseless. Seriously, how do you argue with that? Point is, we can go back & forth all day long about the dead gunman’s motives, or how his mother bought the hardware, whether they were pistols or rifles, or whether the officials at the NRA have character defects or all sorts of other red herrings…but putting yourself in the situation, and asking your audience to put themselves there as well, cuts through all that. You can’t contest this directly. You can’t convincingly say “Oh yeah, well if I was there, then I’d have no problem being unarmed and waiting my turn.” This just steamrolls right over everything. Liberals do that and conservatives don’t.

I don’t WANT to pay for Sandra Fluke’s birth control. See how this works? Liberals accuse conservatives of acting simply out of selfishness. If it were really true, I daresay the liberals wouldn’t be winning all the time.

I don’t WANT to pay more taxes because some complete stranger I’ll never meet, thinks I have too much money.

I WANT to drive a real car, not a “smart car.” I don’t WANT to be a sitting duck in some chassis that’s about the size of my kid’s laundry hamper, and I don’t WANT to be forced to buy such a thing.

I don’t WANT to buy any carbon credits or pay any special carbon tax.

I don’t WANT to be delayed, when I’m driving somewhere, by some “occupy” protest.

I don’t WANT to be forced to join a union.

I WANT to make obscene amounts of money and I don’t WANT anyone else to sit in judgment of it, I WANT to choose my own charities.

I don’t WANT my son to be taught in school that whiteness, straightness, maleness or western-ness are bad things, that he should hide about himself as he goes through life.

I don’t WANT to listen to three hours of liberal talk radio for every three hours of Rush Limbaugh.

I don’t WANT to have to swap out magazines after ten shots.

I WANT to put out Christmas decorations.

I don’t WANT to have to pass a drug test, so I can work and earn money and pay taxes to support welfare people who don’t have to take drug tests.

I don’t WANT to have to live within my means, just to pay taxes to a government that doesn’t have to live within its means.

Conservatives try to avoid arguing this way. They think, because they have been taught, that this is an essential factor in behaving like a grown-up. This is probably true, I’ve been taught the same thing and I believe in it. But the fact is, it’s been put to the test and people aren’t responding to it; they can only muster up enough interest and curiosity to find out about motivations, the more personal the motivation, the more convincing the argument. So the delayed-gratification types end up looking dishonest, even when it’s the other guy who’s obfuscating.

Not sure this would work across the board. But the time’s come to give it a try.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes and Right Wing News.

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Spend More and Save!!!!

I got home last night just in time to catch the newspaper as the lady threw it out of the car to our driveway.  Took it inside, opened it up.

Top headline is,

[Governor] “Nixon touts expansion of Medicaid”
Administration’s new figures show savings; GOP Skeptical.

First sentence of the article:

Expanding Medicaid to give health care coverage to as many as 300,000 Missourians will reduce state spending on the program and release almost $250 million in the next three years for other uses, according to new figures from the Office of Budget and Planning.

This is how spin happens.  Upon first glance, it’s win/win.  Look, our sooper smart Governor found a way to cover 300,000 more people and SAVE $250 Million by doing it!!!   My God, aren’t you glad you voted for him instead of that skeptical, negative GOP candidate?

Now … in a recent discussion that just brought up in the last post on a completely different topic, I had a lefty lecture me thus:

The solution to obesity deaths is to eat more food. The solution to alcohol related deaths is to drink more alcohol. The solution to gun deaths is more guns. Someday everyone will realize how empty and pointless that argument really is.

I wondered what he thought about the idea that the solution to debt is to spend more.  But not really.  Because they have absolutely no trouble swallowing that pill.

First sentence, next paragraph:

Gov. Jay Nixon is pushing lawmakers to accept a federal offer to pay the full cost of expanding the program for three years, followed by a small but growing state contribution.

So it’s not wizardry after all.  It’s not so much that we’re saving any money, we’re just getting “somebody else” (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) to pay for it.  For a while.  Until we’re hooked.  And over time we’ll be paying more and more into it, and if we ever decide it’s a bad idea, it’ll be WHY DO YOU HATE POOR GRANDMOTHERS????!?!!?!?!!?!?!!??!!!!!  And we’ll be treated to ads of mean negative skeptics pushing one over a cliff in a wheelchair.  Again.  And it’ll be here forever, and grow into Jaba the Hut.

The next question that should pop into the heads of any journalist worth his salt, or perhaps a mere peon citizen reader — would be — where does the federal government get the money to pay the cost of the program?

It’s not magic fairy dust falling from the sky.

It must either 1) come from people from other states, 2) come from people from all states, including yours, 3) come from your kids and grandkids via debt, or 4) come from devaluing your salary and any savings you have through “Quantitative Easing”.

If the federal government wants to do it in our state, you can bet your bottom dollar seventy-five cents fifty cents quarter that they’d like to do it in all 57 states.

I know the Gods of the Copy Book Headings say you don’t get something for nothing, and of course I’ve been assured they’re all misogynistic patriarchal racist white men who worship satin pantsed men in powdered wigs who crapped in buckets, — but … I’m thinking that hiding spending in one column and pretending that column doesn’t come out of your hide, too … isn’t really savings, no matter what type of vessel you may crap in.

Basically, it’s the federal government playing pusher.  Again.  “first one’s free!”

By the states 2021 fiscal year, missouri would pay 10% of the projected $2.6 billion total annual cost of expansion.

Ah, so the expansion does cost money.  Quite a bit, in fact.  $2.6 billion magical federal fairy dollars, falling from the sky like manna from heaven.

Even in the most expensive year, the article goes on, the savings from other parts of the program plus the expected new state revenue would exceed the costs to the state’s general revenue fund.

Remember, we’re saving money here, because we’ve pushed the cost to another column on another page in another book.  Aren’t we clever?

And it gets better:

About 60% fo the net is the result of savings (now that we understand that “savings” means pushing spending to other books) would come from services provided to adult women and mental health programs.

Why do you hate …???  Oh, nevermind.

And my favorite, Pelosi-esque part is the kicker:

The rest would come from increased revenue from the paychecks and spending involved in the program.

And there you have it. We’re going to save money by spending more money.  What a racket.

Hold still now, this won’t hurt a bit.

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Back Slapping

After a recent discussion I attempted to have on facebook about the second amendment, sensible gun laws, and culture after the Sandy Hook murders, the idea that it’s actually liberal, ahem, “thought” … that is awash in chest thumping looking for approving slaps on the back, with strawman arguments based on the idea that my side is indifferent to murders committed with guns, even to go so far as to say we think that “the tree of liberty must be frequently watered with the blood of kindergarteners”  — yeah, you hear that one everywhere you go, don’t you? to illustrate the people they’re not like looking for puffy chests and kudos (talk about setting a fictional bar insanely low and then claiming credit for being some sort of super compassionate deep thinker …..

I ran across this.

If you look at the “story”, it basically consists of a paragraph containing the “offending” quote about the feminization of our culture … and then showing a barrage of tweets decrying that it is “stupid” in varying bits of verbiage.

This is a story, I guess.  “Here’s a quote that challenges one of our leftist sacred cows, now everybody gets a chance to pile on and say it’s stupid so we know you’re a Goodperson™“. 

I went and read the original story, and it’s clear that by “feminzation” the female author of the peice was referring really to emasculation — of our culture.  It was a thoughtful peice. on the whole.  She has some good points.  If we expect less from our own culture, we’ll surely get less.  Self reliance and self defense are not the virtues they once were.  In fact, they’re derided as “jingoistic”.

But the story must be derided to death in the leftosphere, because it laments the emasculation of our culture and points out some of the downside — that being, we discourage taking matters into our own hands and suffer the mercy or lack thereof of evildoers until the authorities come — and suffer the body count.   This is considered not only acceptable, but proper.   And if you dare to suggest trying to stack the cards against the purputrators by enabling those present to more effectively defend themselves against these threats — it’s “stupid”.  No explanation as to what, exactly, is stupid about it.  It’s just reflexively self-evident.  Why, look at all the tweets that say the same thing!

I wasn’t shocked.  The story doing the deriding is on Salon, where I also saw headline teasers for stories such as “Time to Profile White Males” and something about Mike Huckabee saying gays caused the shooting  (which of course, he didn’t, but the unquestioned queens of rationalization can write a story and half-convincingly make it sound like that was even close to what he was saying).

And of course, what led me to all of this was a post citing the original Charlotte Allen piece for winning “The Olympics of Stupid”, pointing to the Salon article whose case seemed to be “I think it’s stupid.  And see, look at all the other people who tweeted that it was stupid” —  for other people on facebook to “like” and comment that they, too, thought it was “stupid”.

But “stupid” is not an argument, it’s a judgement (made by our non-judgemental crowd that Ishmael Effect that Severian brought up a couple of posts ago).  If you can’t explain what you think is stupid about it… you might be arguing like a fourth grader.

Actually a bit depressing this is about as deep as so many people who are chronologically adults seem to be willing to go.

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A Pithy Comeback

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want to see Rotten Chestnuts become some kind of wellspring of pithy comebacks. If I had my druthers, it would lean more in the direction of deeper thinking. It would look something like “What the institutions of mental/behavioral health science would make into actual diagnostic procedure, if they weren’t circling the wagons around liberals”, sort of an underground PDR.

But…gaining a deeper and better understanding of this recent perversion of national socio-political thinking, is only the first step. Action must be taken. And pithy comebacks, whether we like it or not, become important because the people who are the problem, don’t pay attention to deep thinking. They want to have a positive impact on public policy, but they only seem to be setting aside some fifteen seconds a week, at the high end, for noodling things out…and thirteen to fourteen of those fifteen seconds appear to be invested entirely in their own monologuing.

What has blipped on my radar is this question I’ve been hearing repeated a few times since the deplorable events that took place Friday…

“Why do you need to own a gun (assault rifle) that can fire thirty bullets without reloading?”

As I have spelled out elsewhere already: This is so off the beaten path of where sound and logical thinking would be taking us, and the subject matter is so serious, both in terms of the harm that bullets can do to a human body, and the harm gun laws can do to our nation’s Constitution…we have to find some way to stop this echo.

Best one I have so far is: “I don’t want to be protected by the capacity limits of the crazy gunman’s magazine. And if you ever saw how fast a magazine can be swapped out, you wouldn’t want yourself or your kids to be protected that way either.”

That is more than a line, so perhaps there’s a way to shorten it up still. It has no value unless it changes the paradigm, and to me, I have trouble seeing this because it’s just obvious the scenario we’re confronting is “crazy man has a gun and he’s coming for you.” But, these people really do live in a different world. They seem to think that the laws on the books have something to do with the conduct of unlawful people. I don’t understand it, so I can’t claim to be an authority on how to get these other people to think things through the right way. I really don’t understand their worldview.

But, maybe this nugget would have a better effect than the paragraph or two it takes to spell out how the thinking here is all cockeyed. Magazine limits. Pffft. I can’t work up any more respect for them, than any other knowledgeable and responsible gun owner who lives in California. Which is damned little.

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‘Your Obligatory CT Shooting Post’ Part Deux: A Facebook Exchange

As a follow-up to my recent post entitled Your Obligatory CT Shooting Post I had an exchange this evening on Facebook, that wise transporter of information interchange that Morgan has dubbed The Hello Kitty of Bloggin’.

The exchange was with a member of my very own family, with a man whom I’m call moderate and fairly apolitical. He’s extremely intelligent and accomplished in the medical field and holds several patents for medical devices he has invented. He simply has never taken the time to study the issue of firearms and regulation thereof, all that closely. Though the following exchange was already visible to Morgan and friends, appearing as it does on his Wall, I thought I’d include it here for the rest of you to read, followed by some additional commentary from me. Here we go…

(It started when Morgan linked to the following video: Glock and Wrong )

My cousin: In this video, everyone in the diner has a handgun in the their pocket. That’s fine, but how can you justify the right have an automatic assault rife with a 30 cartridge magazine? Someone help me here.

Me: Try looking at it from the other direction. Instead of asking why someone “needs” something or other firearm-related, ask why the government has any right to tell them they can’t or shouldn’t have it. We were founded as a free people whose government obtains its consent from “the just consent of the governed.” It serves US…it doesn’t dictate our firearms policy or place obligation on us to justify possession of a weapon or accessories for it. Even if you think government should have such authority, where do you draw the line on mag size? Ten rounds like here in California? Five? Two?

Your dad asked a similar question. I explained that (for example) the AK-47 was issued with a 30-round magazine when it was first introduced in the Soviet Union after World War II. Even though civilian AK pattern rifles aren’t fully automatic like the originals, there wasn’t any apparent need to shorten the magazine. Besides, even if magazine size were restricted, there’s nothing stopping someone from just carrying around a whole bunch of smaller ones. An experienced shooter can change mags in a second or two.

There’s a lot of misinformation floating around about this. You can’t obtain automatic weapons without a special license; the so-called “assault rifle” is simply a semi-automatic (one round per trigger pull) with certain cosmetic features added for comfort of the shooter. A true assault rifle IS fully-automatic but the term has been commandeered by certain groups for purposes of their political agenda.

Him: Would you say that the government shouldn’t have the right to tell us that anyone that has the money to buy one shouldn’t be able to own a fully functional tank with full fire power? I don’t see a difference.

Me: I’m not sure it matters. Few among us would be able to afford anything like that anyway. Some people do make the argument that citizens should have access to anything the military does, or else our ability to hold the government in check (the 2nd Amendment’s original purpose) is meaningless. I’m not sure where I stand on that.

I would definitely say that if some small arm were purely ballistic, no explosives, then yes it should be legal. You saw yourself over in Switzerland that they’ve got access to some pretty powerful stuff, and there are no mass shootings or civil wars breaking out.

A friend was telling me awhile back that before the Constitution was drafted, some private citizens did own cannon and even warships if they were wealthy enough. Possibly equivalent to anything owned by the Army or Navy of the time, certainly more powerful than the muskets and blunderbuss-type rifles of the day.

Him: All I know is that a few days ago a kid blasted his way in to a classroom of kids and killed anything that moved. He didn’t use his handguns. He used an assault rifle with a 30-mag clip. I suppose you could say that the teacher should have had a concealed assault weapon behind her desk…

Me: I’ve heard conflicting reports on the weapon(s) of choice; the first article I read said the exact opposite – that the pistols were found near his body, the .223 rifle in the car. Another article claimed that the dead bodies had wounds consistent with rifle slugs. I’m not sure who to believe.

Even if he did use a rifle to cause his mayhem, though, what does that prove? I have been explaining to people for a couple of days now that the rifles in question are already among us and that more laws aren’t going to change that even if production/importation of them were banned. Even if you took that extra step and didn’t grandfather-in the ones already in possession…even the good guys aren’t going to just turn them all in. They’d still be out there and the bad guys would still get ahold of them now and then. And there’s the matter of the 2nd Amendment and two Supreme Court decisions (Heller v DC 2008 and McDonald v Chicago 2010) affirming that guns are an individual right.

The United Kingdom has outlawed firearms almost completely and yet there is still gun violence in the UK – 82 shootings in Wales alone in the last year…and that country doesn’t have the culture that we do or 200 years of gun proliferation. My point is that it’s already too late. My solution is to arm the good guys, including the teachers. Make getting firearms training and semi-annual re-certification a condition of continued employment, or at least a condition of drawing the current salary. The Supreme Court just affirmed that we all have to buy health insurance, didn’t it?

I just don’t buy into the argument that more laws are going to do a darned thing.

Him: My beef isn’t with handguns. My beef is with gratuitous weaponry that serve no function except to efficiently kill. This guy that shot up the kids a few days ago and the guy that shot a movie theater dressed as bat-man obtained the weapons using legal channels. (or his mom did) How can you say that it wouldn’t be more difficult for these guys to get guns if they weren’t able to legally purchase them. Neither of them seem like the type to shop in the back alley. Putting loaded guns in a kindergarten classroom? Are you insane?

Me: 

“My beef is with gratuitous weaponry that serve no function except to efficiently kill.”

Isn’t that pretty much the function of any firearm, even single-shot muzzle loaders?

“This guy that shot up the kids a few days ago and the guy that shot a movie theater dressed as bat-man obtained the weapons using legal channels.”

So? Does that mean the rest of us can’t be trusted with them?

” How can you say that it wouldn’t be more difficult for these guys to get guns if they weren’t able to legally purchase them.”


Arms trafficking is a major financial component of every terrorist group and criminal gang I can name. It’s not that hard.

“Neither of them seem like the type to shop in the back alley.”


You don’t know that, and even if you’re right, plenty of other malicious individuals are…and this doesn’t deal with the ones already in possession of private citizens.

” Putting loaded guns in a kindergarten classroom? Are you insane?”


I don’t see the problem. Schools already are under dozens of regulations and educators have a long list of certifications they must obtain from reputable training instructors. What’s one more? There’s no reason that such weapons would have to be carried openly. Concealed carry is already legal in 49 states and blood isn’t flowing in the streets. There’s no way a school could afford enough armed guards or police officers to stop these attacks.

It sounds crazy but think about it. When was the last time you heard of a gunman attacking a gun show, a gun store, a gun range, or a shooting tournament? There don’t seem to be any attacks on such places, even though there are loaded weapons all over the place. It’s because the attackers are still sane enough to understand they will be shot dead pretty quickly by a bystander, rather than having the opportunity to take several lives (followed by their own). The guy who attacked a mall in Portland last week blew his brains out after someone pulled a concealed-carry gun on him.

The problem is the assumption that a firearm makes a sane person insane.

Him: (no response)

Me: you’ve gone shooting with me before and you’ve seen with your own eyes that any weapon, no matter how powerful or efficient, can be handled responsibly. I understand the impetus to ‘do something’ about this in light of the wall to wall media coverage of recent events, but some questions need to be asked: 1) WHAT exactly is being proposed, 2) What are the costs and trade-offs, 3) is the possible benefit worth the cost, 4) Just how likely are those alleged benefits to materialize, 5) what are the complicating factors?

If you don’t think requiring educators to carry concealed arms is a good idea, then the idea can be tinkered-with. Mandate that one firearm be locked up somewhere on each campus, with ready access to a panic button in each classroom. Something like that. Even non-lethal weapons would be an improvement. There are options.

My point was that it’s impractical to rely on the police to protect schools, malls, churches, theaters, and the like all at once. There aren’t enough cops to go around, especially in these budgetary times. In some areas they can take 30 minutes to arrive. The schools are a special case since everywhere else, one could say that the adults are obligated to defend themselves….but then, wouldn’t that be even more true of schools, since the adults there are responsible for protecting hundreds of children from attack?

Even if you reject that argument…even if the nation arbitrarily designated a certain class of rifles as “assault weapons” because they’re “efficient killing machines with no legitimate sporting purpose” and banned importation/manufacture (or even possession) of them, do you really think the ones already in private hands would simply disappear or be turned-in? Lots of perfectly benign people still wouldn’t comply, and without a national long gun registry, there’s no way to be sure all of them had been accounted for. We’re talking about numbers in the tens of millions (perhaps hundreds of millions), already in possession of citizens…with more being made or coming in every year, legally.

The AR-15 such as that found in/near the school in CT is the most popular semi-automatic in America. I don’t own one but I see them every single time I go to the range…and they are even more common in “red” states that don’t require owners to remove all of the cosmetic features such as pistol grip, thumbhole stock, flash hider, etc. It’s gotten to the point where they’re actually more common than conventional hunting rifles simply because they’re useful for such a wide variety of purposes – good and evil alike.

In the meantime, a certain percentage of them would be stolen each year by evil persons and subsequently used to harm innocent people. Maybe we’d be better off passing a law that mandates certain storage requirements….but then…hmm, how would you enforce it? California already has such a law and I’m sure we’re not alone.

And then there’s the matter of the ones that get smuggled in through our porous borders or through our seaports, just like drugs and illegal immigrants do. This is in addition to the ones that were bought legally. That’s why I said more laws won’t achieve the intended effect.

I suggest you take a look at this: The Facts About Mass Shootings

Him: (still no response)

Me: Whoops! Someone beat me to it! Rep. wants teachers to carry guns at school

Him: (crickets)

——————————-

Now…I’m not going to declare victory…since A) I think he simply grew tired of the conversation and went to bed and B) “winning the argument” wasn’t my objective from the get-go; I simply sought to educate him about guns, gun laws, and proposed gun laws.

I meant what I said, though…right down to the part where I suggested that teachers should be certified & trained, then mandated to “carry” on campus. Reasonable people can disagree, and since my cousin is normally a reasonable man, I’ve decided to overlook his assertion that I was “insane” for proposing such a thing. Take it with a grain of salt, disagree, fine…but it looks to me like I’m far from being the only guy who thinks this, especially considering that a member of the Oklahoma state legislature has introduced a bill to do just that.

I think what I find odd, is the contention that the government can compel us to purchase health insurance…but apparently it can’t compel those charged with protecting & educating our students, to actually have the means to protect them should the need arise. It has no problem compelling police and soldiers to be armed with the capacity for deadly force, does it?

Dealing with deadly people is a primary job requirement of cops and soldiers, but not a primary job requirement of teachers, you say? Huh. Apparently you haven’t been reading the news, if that’s your reply.

Notice, too, how much trouble I had simply nailing down what he was trying to argue. First he says that the problem is simply high cap magazines, and he goes out of his way a couple of times to state that he doesn’t think handguns are the problem…never mind that handguns A) were almost certainly used in this attack and B) definitely have been used plenty of times elsewhere to commit evil acts upon innocent people. In fact, my state regulates the heck out of them – much more stringently than rifles & shotguns – simply because they’re considered “concealable,” and therefore the potential for mischief is thought to be higher.

Second, after I’ve dealt with his initial argument, he moves on to “All I know is….” This is the response of someone who’s being forced to concede a point. It’s a way of saying, “I can’t specifically refute what you’ve said, but I’m sticking to what I think regardless, against all logic you’ve offered.” I’ve run into this maneuver countless times on people’s blogs. You present the facts, the reasoning, the evidence…and your antagonist simply replies, “I disagree.” Oh, okay.

What it is, is an attempt to fumble around in the dark trying to find some way to characterize my position as dangerous and extremist. Why, of course it’s not right that some maniac was able to lay hands on an AR-15 which is capable of killing dozens of people in a minute or so. Of course this means government should act. Of course this means government action necessarily means some kind of crackdown on rifle sales. What’s the matter with me? Am I incapable of understanding these attacks are unacceptable? Post hoc, ergo propter hoc and all that.

Finally, he veers into (for him) uncharted territory: wanting to know why anyone would ‘need’ what he describes as, “gratuitous weaponry that serve no function except to efficiently kill.” I think my question was legitimate – isn’t all weaponry designed to kill efficiently? What the heck does that even mean? Kill what? Humans? Okay, that still isn’t necessarily a bad thing, is it? Let’s not kid ourselves…“He needed killin’ “ is more than just a valid homicide defense in Texas. It’s a very real, very serious, very legitimate response when someone (or a group of someones) is determined to attack your home, your family, your school…anywhere there are good people who need protecting from bad people – “bad” being defined by demonstrably malicious intent, as in “a legally defensible use of deadly force.”

What especially bothers me is that my cousin (and countless millions like him in middle America) apparently fails to grasp is that the AR15 and rifles like it, do in fact have lawful purposes, and I mean besides just defense from murderous intruders. They’re good for hunting dozens of different game species…from racoons to deer. (The largest game animals, not so much.) They’re just plain fun to play with. I’d submit that 90% of these rifles are never fired at anything more dangerous than a tree stump or a piece of paper tacked to a piece of cardboard.

Unfortunately, this sort of sloppy thinking is all-too-common among the general population right now, especially among the Democrats’ voter base (of which my cousin may or may not be part, I’m not sure), and among that larger set of voters who have allowed an understandably emotional response to this terrorist act to cloud their judgment. My hope is that such sloppiness doesn’t necessarily translate into the public support that Obama and his cohorts in the US Senate need, in order to make our plinking/hunting/defensive rifles difficult or impossible to get.

Morgan himself steps in at the end and finishes strong:

I’m good with the government telling people they can’t have a high-powered tank, if they’ve stolen the tank and haven’t paid for it. Otherwise, they can take a flying leap.

Seriously, to take any other position is to make our government bureaucrats into super-people or demigods or virtual angels or something…because the minute some medium-high ranking muckety-muck director of a CIVILIAN government agency gets it in his head he needs a hundred thousand of these “assault” rifles, or a couple million .40 cartridges, or a helicopter gunship with a helipad on his building…you know, and I know, that if he has the right friends and his paperwork has all the I’s dotted and T’s crossed, he gets his damn gunship. We just saw it with the Homeland Security agency actually ordering all those bullets, still no explanation, we saw it with Fast and Furious. So, you want to live in a country where the government gets to do whatever it wants, but its citizens have to explain everything to that same government…can’t we agree with each other that, as these “civil servants” are elected or appointed to these positions, there’s no criteria being imposed on them that make them qualified to enjoy such a significant differential in power from the rest of us. It’s important to remember that they’re flawed mortals, just like we are…that part of it seems to be getting short shrift, overall, especially in the wake of tragedies like this one.

Darn it…there’s that T word again. I really, really hate that word.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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