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The Burial of Innocence: A Newtown Postscript

December 19, 2012

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The burials have already begun, up there in Connecticut. Cheeky young football fan Jack Pinto and rambunctious, bright-eyed Noah Pozner both went to their graves under a leaden December sky, a week before Christmas Eve, that most magical of nights. They were six years old, both of them — absurdly, maddeningly young to be laid out in caskets like their ancestors and lowered permanently into the ground. Their eighteen schoolmates, also dead, would be following soon, along with the six brave women who tried to protect them. Twenty-six homes in this leafy corner of New England would be desolate beyond consolation this Christmas.

Make that a hundred million homes, because an entire nation has been numbed and traumatized by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. We won’t know a fraction of the anguish those Newtown parents are feeling now as they bury those innocent sprites and confront those silent bedrooms, but we’re anguished all the same.

Innocence lost. It’s one of the eternal themes threading its way through world literature, and we Americans have spoken about it before. Pundits lamented our loss of innocence after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. In fact, we had already been losing it for decades.

Let me count the ways: Rock. Rap. Blood-spattered movies. Trash TV. Escalating public profanity. Deliberately repellent art. The damnable cult of “cool.” Eviction of religion (and with it, the teaching of morality) from our public schools. The rise of religious fanaticism. Relentless irony in comedy and conversation (why are we afraid to be sincere?). Mockery of simple, good-hearted squareness. Veneration of antiheroes. The rise of divorce and the fracturing of families.

The list goes on… The loss of mutual loyalty between employers and employees. The decline of community spirit. (“Communities” are now made up of people who look like us, vote like us, worship like us, have sex like us.) The ongoing decay of our cities. The ownership of elected representatives by powerful moneyed interests. The slow and sinister transmutation of heartfelt patriotism into belligerent “exceptionalism.” The ruthless pursuit of unlimited wealth at the top of society — coupled with the abandonment of personal responsibility at the bottom. The brutal ugliness of so many toys and video games marketed to American boys. Mass shootings of innocent people. In short, we’re a mess.

Innocence lost. When I was a boy, back in the faded golden light of the Eisenhower and Kennedy years, we were brought up to emulate people of worth and character: Washington, Lincoln, Clara Barton, Helen Keller, Lou Gehrig, George Washington Carver. These were our models, not the pop star du jour. Our favorite TV hosts promoted solid values along with the fun. I remember them fondly: Buffalo Bob Smith, Captain Kangaroo, Shari Lewis and a galaxy of kindly, unsung local personalities who influenced us more than they ever supposed.

We knew our neighbors, walked to school without fear, swapped baseball cards, played freely and joyously with our friends (no pre-arranged, parent-supervised play dates for us!). The nerdier boys among us (and nerds were probably a majority in those days) found quiet joy in stamp-collecting, model-building, Monopoly, or peering at the moon through rickety telescopes.

Such innocent pursuits seem almost comical now, but they nourished and satisfied us. By contrast, too many of today’s socially marginalized boys seem to require body piercings, “goth” garb, homicidal video games and semi-automatic weapons. The dark side calls to them, and they’ve become too deadened and morally feckless to resist its charms. Eventually, as some of them slowly lose their sanity and their attachment to the human community, the bloody slaughter of innocents begins to gain a weird, wild appeal.

The gun control debate is coming to a head now, accompanied by puffy clouds of hot verbiage. And yet the solution is simpler than the talking heads would lead us to think. Here it is: we need to preserve our right to bear arms, and we need to ban semi-automatic weapons. And yes, that goes for those evil ammo clips, too. Especially the ammo clips, because we can’t do anything about the millions of assault weapons already in circulation. End of story. No compromise. No exceptions.

I’ve never been a hunter — and I feel for the hunter’s inoffensive victims — but I can understand the excitement of the chase. I can even understand the need to keep an ordinary gun handy for self-defense. What I will never understand is the need for any sane person to collect weapons expressly designed to mow down dozens of human beings with minimal effort.

Who in their right mind would embrace semi-automatic weapons? Only gun dealers, the NRA and its paid shills (including our Congressmen), rigid Second Amendment fundamentalists and the half-demented survivalists who look forward to the day when they can blast the government troops who invade their homesteads. But it’s enough.

Cars kill thousands more people each year, the pro-gun pundits are fond of reminding us. Should we ban them? They miss the point: cars have multiple uses and benefits aside from smashing into hapless drivers and pedestrians. By contrast, the only purpose of a semi-automatic weapon is to kill multiple people with alarming efficiency. You don’t need an assault rifle to gun down an intruder in your home or business. You don’t even need one to stop a lunatic armed with assault weapons. A single well-aimed bullet would do the trick. Better yet, don’t give the lunatic access to assault weapons. Give him proper psychiatric care instead.

We need to reclaim our innocence, and we need to reclaim it now. An impossible task, you say? Too late, you insist? Nonsense. It won’t be easy to stuff all those evils back into the bag. In fact, it will take a heroic effort — but that’s precisely why it appeals to me.

How do we recover our cultural sanity without winding back the clock to the 1950s? Start with the children.

Back when my son was in kindergarten and first grade, I’d volunteer one morning each week to help the teachers and assist the little folks with their reading skills. I fell in love with those kids. I was looking at the human animal in its purest and most charming state: mirthful and mischievous, joyously uninhibited, sweet and trusting and full of wonder… old enough to make amazingly astute observations, but still too young to have been corrupted by the deadly influences of our culture.

A six-year-old child today is a timeless representative of our species, still as perfect and unsullied as the children of ancient Athens or Victorian England. If we can rescue a single generation of children from shabby values… if we can nurture them and guide them and still let them be their endearingly anarchic selves… maybe we can start to reverse the cultural rot that’s eating away at us today.

The bright and heartbreakingly lovable faces of the twenty juvenile Newtown victims, broadcast endlessly over the media in recent days, filled me with sadness but also with hope. I’m sure many of us feel as if we’ve come to know those children, and we’ll never forget them. The spark of life in their young eyes will remain with us, will never be extinguished, and will help us understand how human nature at its purest and best can ultimately conquer all manner of evil.

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909 Comments leave one →
  1. Rob Anderson permalink
    December 19, 2012 12:50 am

    I posted this to my Facebook page, along with a link to an article on Salon.com about yet ANOTHER film premier cancellation (Cruise’s “Jack Reacher”):

    I’ve posted this article so I can have the opportunity to say that this cancellation shit needs to STOP, and NOW. Several TV shows and episodes have been cancelled, as well as the premiers of a few action films (like Tarantino’s “Django Unchained”). To describe this as a ludicrous over-reaction is akin to describing water as wet.

    Folks, the massacre in Sandy Hook was a horrific tragedy, and in its wake many have quite rightly called for a re-examination of gun laws here in the United States. But lets be clear: it wasn’t an *unprecedented* act of brutality, in the way that 9/11 was, nor did it happen on live national television, turning all of us into unwilling and horrified witnesses to the moment of death of thousands of people. The hysteria has to stop. I myself have had more than a few brooding moments contemplating what it must have been like, for example, for the officers who had to tell the parents of those dead kids that their children were gone, all at the same time and in the same room. I can’t even begin to imagine something so demoralizing, so frought with guilty responsibility. But in the end I snap out of it, because I realize that the children in question aren’t *mine*, and the parents in question are not my family, friends or even neighbors. They live 3,000 miles away, and while they are my countrymen and women, the crime committed against them was not ideologically biased against our mutual country, so I am not duty-bound to take on their grief as my own, as we all so rightly did in the wake of 9/11.

    I blame the Internet for the magnification of everyone’s emotions. When Patrick Purdy shot down a dozen or so children in the yard of their Stockton, California schoolhouse in 1989, it was a huge story – LOCALLY. The State of California reacted with one voice in telling their representatives in Sacramento to enact new gun control legislation, and they did. The rest of the country? Not so much; in fact, not at all. But then the country was not burdened with the infernal echo chamber that the Internet becomes at times like this, acting like an inescapable national PA system blaring 24/7, driving all of us to distraction.

    We can and must get beyond this cultural noise in order to come to an equitable agreement as to what is a wise and just reaction to this incident. I beg all of you to try and remember that in the says and weeks ahead.

    *******************************************************************************************************

    You and I agree about much, Rick (I’m assuming you read the blog posting I linked to my Facebook page a couple of days ago). I’m not sure I’m with on *all* of the cultural points you make, but generally speaking I think you are correct. The question is: what do we DO about it?

    • December 19, 2012 2:06 am

      You are so right about this, Rob. There is a kind of “tragedy porn” aspect to the media coverage of these events that needs to stop so that people can move on, past the agonizing emotion that paralyzes our ability to act with reason.

      • Rob Anderson permalink
        December 19, 2012 2:10 am

        “Tragedy porn” – an apt phrase if ever I saw one in this regard. Well put.

  2. December 19, 2012 8:08 am

    Again Rick, another nice effort. I agree with much of your RX on this, save gun control aspects. As Rob points out, CA enacted tough gun laws in the 80s and has some of the strictest in the country. Yet,as I pointed out, CA has one of the highest murder rates in the world.

    To me, this points to the ineffectiveness of guns laws. There are more examples but I won’t bore you. The fact is, CA has plenty of laws, most of which they don’t or can’t enforce. The dirty little secret in CA is that a very large % of the murders committed with guns are committed by illegal aliens and yet,these same illegals are living for the most part with impunity.Indeed, many cities are proud of the fact that they don’t enforce immigration laws.

    You can’t have it both ways.If you pass a law, enforce the damn thing and if you don’t repeal the law. People are smart rats and they get how ineffective laws really are to those who don’t really care about the “rule of law.”

    Now, back to the issue of culture, yes, this culture needs to take very hard look at itself. When Tarrantino releases his next film, let we the consumers make sure it is his last by NOT GOING to see it.

    Money talks in this culture and the surest way to change Hollywood is to starve it.

    My last shot is sure to prove controversial but here goes. There is something a bit off about a culture that claims to care about its young and yet rails on about a woman’s right to “choose.” Call me crazy, but I see a BIT contradiction.

    If young life is precious…….

    PS-When my son Keith was in grade school, I used to go in frequently to have lunch with him. Those are wonderful memories and I will never forget how much joy I witnessed in these little tykes faces.

    • December 19, 2012 2:12 pm

      Rich: I agree with much of your post. And we definitely agree that dropping in on our kids at school was a priceless experience.

      On gun laws: the states with the strictest gun laws already had serious gun crime problems before they passed the laws. (That’s why they passed them.) Granted, their gun crime rates are still high, but maybe they would have been even higher without the laws in place. These are states with big nonwhite urban populations, and I don’t think there’s much anybody can do to prevent gun violence on today’s city streets.

      I think we need to start early — in grade school — by removing disruptive kids from classrooms and educating them separately, boot-camp style. I don’t know why cities haven’t tried this option — probably afraid of looking racist, since most of the urban school troublemakers are nonwhite. But the key is that they’re making education impossible for their nonwhite classmates.

      As for the illegal immigrant problem — it’s a colossal mess, I agree. Even if we could start guarding the borders more effectively, what do we do with the 12-20 million illegals who are already here? It would be impossible to deport them all. And what about their kids, who are blameless and probably have no memory of living in Mexico? We can’t split up the families.

      I guess the easiest and fairest solution is to deport all illegals who commit crimes. Their families can then decide whether to stay or go. But even this “easy” solution isn’t easy.

      • December 19, 2012 7:15 pm

        Rick,

        On your last point, they do deport illegals who commit crimes but surprise, they sneak right back in. Tough border we have there buddy.

        Anyway, you can’t say things like “non-white” populations are more violent, as that is racist and you my friend, are worse than Hitler!

  3. December 19, 2012 8:23 am

    Somehow, I see this as sadly related to our discussion. The value of human life and all. Seems it gets cheaper everyday.

    I hope I am wrong:

    http://www.france24.com/en/20121218-belgium-looks-euthanasia-minors-alzheimers-sufferers

  4. wilma permalink
    December 19, 2012 9:18 am

    Rob, for some reason, wrote Asmiths post for him. Strange world.

    Laws, all ineffective. Ban drunken driving? Why bother, people will do it anyway. Same with child pornography.

    The libertarian outlook is that nothing should be illegal because people will do it anyhow.

    What nonsense.

    The libertarian candidate won 1% of teh vote last election, that is the extent of the attraction of this idea.

    Its a rabbit hole, a distraction. And its not going to work this time.

    Rick was correct about everything he said. Kudus rick nice to have you back.

    • December 19, 2012 10:16 am

      I don’t think anyone has said that nothing should be illegal because people will do it anyhow…..but there is a real dishonesty in politicians’ response to tragedies that takes the form of them saying “We will pass laws to make sure that this will never happen again!” when the truth, which they well know, is that bad things have always happened and will continue to happen, regardless of any government action.

      Any pursuit of an ideal, perfect world is ultimately doomed to failure, because humans are not perfect. And, while it is absolutely true that some legal responses to tragedy do, in fact, help,it is just as absolutely true that some of them don’t, and some of them create the conditions that cause different tragedies.

      And, no, this does not mean that we shouldn’t try….but it does mean that we shouldn’t exploit raw emotion and pass laws by promising that government can create a world in which nothing bad will happen again.

      • wilma permalink
        December 19, 2012 10:44 am

        Priscilla, the argument has been made over and over here by our libertarians that government and laws are some kind a liberal “magic”. No they don’t actually say that there should be no laws, but they are against every law that they think has the slightest so-called liberal pedigree.

        For my part I have not seen the politicians who are promising that all these problems will end if we ban assault weapons. Not being disingenious, here can you direct me to someone who has said that? Sweeping generalities have I am sure been made, but that one I need to see.

        Anyone who believes that banning the extreme forms of weaponry is going to have an immediate or total effect is very naive. I will be satisfied to slowly change the culture and wait a good long time for gradual improvement.

    • December 19, 2012 12:11 pm

      Ian;

      When you are so offbase on something I have tired to drill in how do you expect me to believe you have a clue ?

      Libertarians are STRONG supports of the rule of law.
      I do not think anyone at all believes that murder is acceptable.
      Libertarians believe that the ONLY natural right that humans surrender in acceptance of the social contract is that of initiating violence.

      To the extent that there is a core principle to libertarianism that would be it.

      The ineffectiveness of many laws is a utilitarian not libertarian argument.
      It is neither libertarian, liberal, conservative nor moderate.

      It is a bad idea to pass laws that will routinely be disobeyed regardless of ones political values. It undermines respect for the law.

      The presumption that when something has occurred we should just pass a new law that we know ahead of time will be flouted is pure idiocy irrespective of ideology. It is destructive of society. It is destructive even if you are liberal.

      The more liberal presumption that you should redesign society – change peoples values by passing laws is a more liberal form of lunacy. It is a demand for a police state in order to achieve social reprogramming. Is that really your wish.

      We are supposed to obey the law because it reflects the core values of a super majority of the people. Ordinarily only a tiny percentage of people – sociopaths and the extremely desperate obey laws primarily from fear of punishment.
      Ordinary people would obey them even if they were not written.

      When you pass laws willy nilly that fail the test o being part of the practically instinctive values of ordinary people, you harm the law. You erode peoples respect for it, you convert laws from core societal values to the edicts of an increasingly totalitarian state obey solely because of threat of punishment.

    • December 19, 2012 12:15 pm

      Hitler was voted into office – does that legitimize Genocide ?

      Do you believe that truth and morality are determined by the majority ?

    • December 19, 2012 7:19 pm

      Wilma,

      Again, you make stuff up whenever you want to and your knowledge of Libertarians is nil. Perhaps I might generalize that statement to include most things, like well, reason.

      Again, what you fail to realize is that passing a law to “ban ammo” or guns is the easy part. I posted in the other thread as to how your boy Obama doesn’t even prosecute the guns laws we have. No response from you, of course.

      Well, we can criticize the emperor, he just won the election by 2 points.

  5. wilma permalink
    December 19, 2012 10:35 am

    Bastiat, you are correct abut one thing, the abortion extremist lobby is an obscenity, partial birth abortions and the like are not too much for them. They apply libertarian principles to abortion, just as the NRA applies libertarian principles to guns, both with extreme and obscene results.

    This belief in magic that liberals supposedly have, well since you mean laws and government in general, it sure ain’t just liberals and the fairy tale is that there is some place on earth where people are living happily without laws and government. Does government work? Yes, it does, just not perfectly.

    The argument continues to be offered by the far right that this tragedy is nothing to worry about, and sometime some members of the far left reach around the ideological globe and meet the far right and agree. Unfortunately that is one more piece of evidence that ideology dehumanizes people and gets them to accept absurd and obscene ideas. (Here come a vast school of complete red herrings such as lightening strikes from our libertarian fanatics, I know)

    I’ll freaking guarantee you that that vast majority of Americans will not buy this idea that these tragedies are nothing at all to worry about, mere statistical rarities that we all need to calm down about. When the southern Senators with NRA A ratings and the NRA itself start to cave in and make reasonable noises, you can be sure that have their own data on what Americans (rather than the statistically-biased pool of internet yakkers) think about this and it sure as %$#^ ISN’T that we should all just be calm about this.

    The decent waiting period prior to action unfortunately will overlap the next tragedy, ad infinitum forever. No thanks. This time, action.

    • December 19, 2012 6:23 pm

      Wilma;

      So now you want to use “libertarian” as an adjective to describe anything you think is evil.

      Like most of the population, libertarians are split on abortion.
      I doubt you will find but a tiny number of libertarians favoring partial birth abortion.

      The liberal beleif in magic is the belief that you can accomplish something by passing a law.

      Most of us understand that you can not alter the orbit of the earth by passing laws.

      But neither you nor liberals understand that there is far more than law can not effect than that it can. Further that even when laws do have effect, the effects are always far broader than intended.

      The liberal belief in magic, is that you can pass a law, that man and nature will respond exactly as legislators expected, and there will be no unintended consequences.

      That is nearly never true.

      When you have worked out the correct legislative solution to the tragic US deaths by lightning then we can entertain the problem of extremely rare mass murders.

    • December 19, 2012 7:21 pm

      Equating “the right to choose” with libertarians is absurd on its face. That area has been taken by the fem/lib/left and let’s give credit where it is due.

      I know plenty of libertarians who would overturn Roe v Wade tomorrow. Libertarians are more than fine about an appropriate level of laws.

  6. wilma permalink
    December 19, 2012 11:04 am

    My family, kids, nieces, old friends are beginning their christmas visits. And I have a couple of musical events to prepare for. So, I hope I can stop this obsessive posting and find some one to replace my point of view here (Rick just did that perfectly.)

    If I stick my nose in in the next two weeks please someone give me a damn good wacking and chase me out.

    • December 19, 2012 11:22 am

      Ian, I was letting you do the talking for ME. Now what?

      Not long after my “Two Nations, Indivisible” column, I spent about half an hour crafting a lengthy response to one of the comments (can’t remember whose comment it was). Anyway, when I went to hit “Post Comment” my cursor skipped to another spot on the screen (it does that sometimes) and clicked the back arrow instead. I lost the whole comment, and I took it as a sign. I was suffering from political fatigue, and I thought I’d just sit out the current round of commentary. You did a highly commendable job batting for the moderates (but where did the “Wilma” monicker come from?).

      Anyway, I’m back, but I just don’t seem to have the same relish for political debate. Maybe it’ll come back to me after a few give-and-take encounters with our resident libertarians.

      • wilma permalink
        December 19, 2012 11:38 am

        Wilma is not one of my better names I’ll admit. I finally just created a dedicated e-mail just for receiving TNM posts. That way I can read what I want and ignore what I want and not miss an interesting post in the libertarian deluge. That requires a new name.

  7. December 19, 2012 11:41 am

    While it’s generally not a sound idea to make important decisions in the heat of emotion, we’ve had plenty of time to consider the issue of gun control between the mass shootings leading up to the Newtown massacre. As I said in my piece, the solution is actually pretty simple: just ban the sale semi-automatic weapons and the ammo clips that go with them. It won’t put an end to these periodic bloodlettings, but it would certainly reduce their frequency.

    I doubt if Mrs. Lanza would have collected those weapons if they had been illegal. Most of the mass shooters aren’t the kind of hardened criminals who know somebody who could get them an assault rifle on the black market; they’re mostly suburban white boys with borderline personalities who gradually go psycho. If the guns aren’t available, they might find another way to act out their murderous fantasies, but at least they won’t be able to mow down 20 people at a time.

    The hardest part of the solution is how to neutralize the ugly cultural influences that lure boys to the dark side. We can’t simply ban violent movies, music, video games and the like. And there’s a huge market for all this ugliness, so we can’t depend on the free marketplace of ideas to correct itself even if some of us resort to boycotts. Maybe we need to revive the kind of self-imposed code that Hollywood used from the mid 1930s until the 60s. When movies became too racy in the early 30s (though they seem charming now), the studios went with the now-infamous Hays Code, which dictated how much of a lady’s body we were allowed to see, and decreed that all movie criminals must be punished in the end.

    I’d have to do a little more reading to find out how and why the studios agreed to the code, but I think they were afraid of a government crackdown. So rather than submit to the government, they submitted to their own code. Maybe we need to threaten entertainment companies with government action unless they police themselves. That way, we won’t be banning anything… just exerting a little outside pressure.

    That said, I’m afraid that evil is part of human nature, and that laws can’t eliminate the impact of evil on society. But they can reduce it, and that’s a start.

    • December 19, 2012 12:46 pm

      Rick;

      I do not actually believe you are this stupid.

      Mass murders tend to plan way ahead, they tend to be fairly intelligent. they are nearly universally intend to die as part of their evil act.

      Do you really believe that a couple of what are essentially technological tweaks to the law are going to even be a speed bump to them ?

      The AR-15 that Lanza used would not have been an “assault weapon” under the last Assault Weapon Law. It can trivially be modified to use ordinary .22 ammunition that can be purchased in copious quantities at Walmart that would have been MORE damaging in this instance than military rounds. Making larger ammunition clips is not rocket science.
      Modifying almost all weapons using a magazine for fully automatic operation is trivial.

      It is a very bad idea to pass ineffective feel good laws – it is not an idea that “libertarians” think is a bad, just a generally overall stupid bad idea.

      Mass killings are extremely rare events. There is not a technical solution to them.
      Even if your own proposed solution ended all mass killings using assault weapons, the killers would just switch to other means. There are far too many ways for a determined disturbed person to kill people. Chlorine gas can be made easily using cleaning supplies ALREADY in the school. 10 gallons of gasoline sloshed down a schools hallways could precipitate a disaster far larger than Sandy Hook. Timothy McVeigh used fertilizer and Diesel Fuel and never entered the building.

      Laws can not fix this. We are all shocked, angry, hurt and in pain. We all desperately want to prevent mass killings – particularly the mass killing of children.
      The possibility that we may be unable to do so is terrifying.

      Even if I otherwise believed that banning assault weapons and 30 round clips was a good idea – whatever other effects it had – positive or negative, doing so would not have any effect on mass killings.

      It is liberal, not moderate to respond emotionally with little thought. to demand actions because of an emotional need to take control, to be seen as acting, regardless of whether that action accomplishes the desired results.

      Whatever the effects of your proposed laws, they would not reduce either the frequency or carnage of mass killings.

      Ian is correct – I am opposed to ineffective laws. Not particularly because I am libertarian but because they are a bad idea – unless what you seek is anarchy or totalitarianism. i would have thought that was moderate.

      • December 19, 2012 1:08 pm

        Dave: I’m not a gun expert, if that’s what you mean. I have no idea how to make multi-round clips, and I’d be willing to bet that neither does the vast majority of the population. Yes, I’m aware that most of these mass-shooters have painstakingly planned their deeds, but just maybe the availability of assault weapons makes it easier for them to carry out their plans. If we ban semi-automatics and multi-round clips, the average suburban psycho kid might be less inclined to turn his murderous fantasies into reality. He might just play a video game instead.

        I’d actually like to hear your take on the cultural side of this problem: how do we diminish the influence of violent movies, video games and the like without banning them? How do we instill positive values in growing boys so they no longer respond to the lure of ugly antisocial behavior? And why is it that mass shootings were almost unheard-of before the 1980s? What was it about mid-century American culture that’s different from contemporary American culture, and is there any turning back?

      • Ron P permalink
        December 19, 2012 1:28 pm

        “He might just play a video game instead.”

        Maybe if he did not have the video game to play to start with his mind would not be immuned to death and not live in a fantacy world.

      • December 19, 2012 2:05 pm

        Rick;

        So you are ready to enact a plethora of new laws, to attempt to stop something extremely rare, in the hope that “Just maybe” it will have a small impact ?

        We can absolutely save thousands of lives by reducing the speed limit.
        Reduce it by 5mph accross the board and we will save more children’s lives per month than Adam Lanza killed.

        Mass or rampage murder is nothing new. It is not unique to our era. It is not even unique to young suburban males. The worst incident in US history also involving a school, dates back to bolt action rifles.

        The people who do this are troubled, they are not going to sublimate with video games.

      • December 19, 2012 2:26 pm

        Not a plethora of laws, Dave — just one: ban semi-automatic weapons and ammo clips.

        Mass murder is nothing new, but committing mass murder has never been easier (thanks to semi-automatic guns). The worst school incident — the one you mentioned — had nothing to do with bolt-action rifles. It was engineered by a disgruntled janitor/handyman who wired the building with explosives.

        I admit that we’re never going to eliminate mass killings in America. But a simple law would make it a little harder for psychopaths to act out their impulses, and that’s worth exploring.

      • December 19, 2012 6:06 pm

        Rick;

        We add 70,000 pages to the Federal register every year, what is another couple of laws ?

        The bolt action rifle reference was not because one was used, but because clearly it is possible to kill an awfully large number of children without an automatic weapon. Using technology of nearly a century ago.

        It is actually even easier today. Fuel/Air explosives are inside the ability of smart young male nutcases, can be easily smuggled past most security, can be made from commonly available materials, and are incredibly powerful and destructive. A backpack full could wipe out an entire school.
        And the killer could even get away if they wanted.

        Thinking up more effective ways to cause death and destruction than an AR-15 with a 30 round clip is not particularly challenging. It is especially easy if you are willing to die as part of the process.

        first it is 30 round magazines, then fertilizer, then gasoline, then clorox, by the time you are done banning anything that can easily be used to kill large numbers of children there will be nothing left in the world.

        Do we really want to devote numerous posts to all the really easy ways to kill lots of people ?

        You are not trying to reduce 10,00 armed robberies down to 9,000 by restricting handguns. You are trying to eliminate an event so rare it is nearly random. And you are trying to stop one of the must determined and inteligent class of killers, whose objective is broad and easy – shock and carnage, not narrow and hard – get out of the liquor store with the money.

    • December 19, 2012 1:01 pm

      The problem that I see with the discussion of semi-automatic weapons is aptly addressed by Jazz Shaw in a post he wrote today, talking about the “rapidly shifting sands” of the gun control debate, and the dis-ingenuousness of the standard arguments against “assault” and “semi-automatic” weapons, which, in the view of many gun-control activists encompass pretty much every gun available.

      He brings up the fact that small semi-automatic handguns are the often the self defense weapon of choice for women, and should not be considered “military-style” or “assault weapons”…..but would be banned in the perfect world of liberal gun-control advocates :

      “If you were still somehow feeling sanguine about this entire, “Oh, we don’t want to take all the guns”, and you’re not getting nervous yet, you should be. I received a very serious response on Twitter from one gun control activist who answered my question of which weapons should be banned. I was told, you can have a muzzle loading rifle. That’s what the constitution gives you a right to.” http://hotair.com/archives/2012/12/19/the-new-horizon-of-gun-control-part-2-the-black-hole-of-mental-health/

      The problem isn’t that we haven’t had enough time to consider the issue, the problem is that the Newtown massacre is being exploited by those who want to ban guns and that, in turn, is causing hard-line NRA types to dig in their heels. And, as usual, reasonable discourse is hard to come by…….

      • Barney permalink
        December 19, 2012 1:26 pm

        “You can’t take away our right to partial birth abortions, repulsive as they are because then they will take away the right to abortion altogether.’

        That turned out wrong. 2nd amendment defenders might think about that and try to avoid hyperventilating.

      • December 19, 2012 1:41 pm

        Barney, now? This is a whole ‘nother matter. The fact that you want to conflate the two issues is telling.

      • December 19, 2012 5:47 pm

        Barney;

        There is not and never has been a right to an abortion.
        But all of us – women included have ownership rights on our own bodies.
        We can not be forced to keep another actual human being alive even at small inconceivable to our person. We can chose to do so, but we are not obligated to. At the same time while we can deprive that either human of the privilege of using our body to stay alive, we are not entitled to kill it only act to preserve our rights in our body in a way that might kill it.

        Put differently, as the law already recognizes, once a sperm and egg meet a man no longer has the right to control whether they will be a father or not.
        What we fail to grasp is that in truth the same is true of the women. What she does have is the right to deny the use of her body to sustain the pregnancy.

        Rowe vs. Wade recognizes that the pregnancy may have rights too, and that the sate is obligated to protect those. It can not trump the women’s right to control the use of her body, but it could actually dictate that the fetus must be removed in the manner most likely to ensure its survival, and that provisions must be made to ensure its survival after removal.

  8. Ron P permalink
    December 19, 2012 12:52 pm

    Looks to me the problem that existed earlier with politics and guns still exist today. No one is calling for a group of individuals to meet a discuss solution that could have a direct positive impact on things like this, including far left liberal politicians and members of the ultra conservative NRA. They are once again making knee jerk reactionary decisions to ban automatic and semi automatic weapons that will do little in the long run in stopping this type of thing from happening. I have said in other comments earlier this week my positions and thought, so will not bore anyone with those again.

    I do believe and once again will say it is going to take a complete effort by all working together to make a difference, not just some politician looking for votes that introduces legislation that will go no where.

    • December 19, 2012 1:48 pm

      The CNN news alert feature on my phone tells me that Obama has appointed Joe Biden to lead a commission to develop recommendations aimed at preventing massacres like Newtown.

      Not an Obama fan here, as you now, so I am skeptical of anything valuable coming out of this, and slightly suspicious of the political motives here….. but it is a reasonable response, and should be commended.

      Not to mention that it keeps Joe Biden off the streets ;)

      • Ron P permalink
        December 19, 2012 4:23 pm

        Yes, I agree. I did not watch the press conference as always, but when I heard this I was impressed that he took the steps that could make a difference and avoided the issue that passing a law against guns or ammo would fix the problem without any other action.

        Even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then. It just took Obama more than 4 years to find the one that impressed me.

  9. December 19, 2012 1:53 pm

    The world has changed and is changing. In both good ways and bad, and it will continue to do so.

    We look around and find so much that chocks us personally, it is easy to say that life was better when we were younger. But if we are really honest with ourselves, life was no better then.

    There has been a bizarre liberal nostalgia for the 1950’s in the past couple of years. A period with a growing middle class, low “income inequality”, extremely progressive taxes, strong unions. The era of “Happy Days”.

    World War II had built the US into the largest manufacturing giant that had ever existed and concurrently obliterated the productive capacity of the entire rest of the developed world. That dominance was not some divine american right.

    That was the era of McCarthyism, “Duck and cover”, the Rosenbergs, the cold war. Nulear tests. The Korean War, the french defeat in indo-china, the begining of the Vietnam War, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Castro, the Chinese invasion of Tibet.

    It was a period of building racial conflict that eventually led to the race Riots of the 60’s.
    Homosexuality was criminal. Abortion, Rape, Peodophila, child abuse, were back alley matters not to be talked about, much less fixed, American was intensely patrarchical “Father knows Best”. and era of Blacklists,

    It was the zenith of white corporate male america.

    Art & Music were erroding our morals. Rock & Roll, Jazz, Beatnick’s, Playboy, Kerouac, “Lolita”, “Howl”

    More than 1/5 the country lived in poverty far worse than all but a tiny portion of those in poverty today experience.

    The era of “Separate but equal” , of KKK bombings and Bull Conner.

    and on and on.

    We are changing rapidly, as we have been for atleast two centuries.

    All that change is not good, but most of it is.

    The 50’s were a good time – better than the 30’s and 40’s. They gave birth to the 60’s and eventually to today.

    There are important values that we have weakened or lost, the strength of our families and our communities, and others.

    We need to look for the real causes of those loss, and what we need to do to get them back. But we need to be careful that in our nostalgia for the past we do not actually bring back that past.

  10. December 19, 2012 1:57 pm

    Rick;

    The law is an abysmally bad tool for altering people values.

    Using the law to change culture is totalitarianism.

    It is no different from what Lenin or Mao attempted.

    • December 19, 2012 2:29 pm

      We wouldn’t use the law to change behavior… I’m not in favor of banning cultural artifacts like movies, music and video games, as awful as they can be. But if we could somehow throw a scare into these industries and make them self-regulate, the way Hollywood did starting in the 1930s, we could achieve the goal without forcing it down anyone’s throats.

      • Ron P permalink
        December 19, 2012 5:00 pm

        If we can interpret the constitution in a way that identifies the right to own guns as just single action weapons with a restriction on the number of bullets, then we can interpret the constitution in a way that allows for the freedom of speech to be speech that is not distributed in any manner other than by natural human voice or by print. Electronic media such as movies and video games would be considered the same a automatic weapons as all of them were not envisioned when our forefathers drafted the constitution

      • December 19, 2012 6:13 pm

        Interesting point, Ron. I hadn’t thought about the analogy between assault weapons and modern media. But the Second Amendment hints (the phrasing is vague) that gun rights are predicated on the need for a well-regulated militia. (I’m sure they were fine with hunting, too.) Since militias are a thing of the past, a ban on assault weapons wouldn’t be as big a departure from the Second Amendment as a ban on violent video games would be a departure from the First Amendment.

      • December 19, 2012 5:16 pm

        Most of what you and others here propose are laws. Assault weapons and magazine clips are not the greatest intrusions on individual liberty, but they are also not effective means of correcting the problem of mass murder.

        they are a belief that you can and should change people by changing the law. That is totalitarianism.

        How do you plan on scaring hollywood ?
        Stop seeing violent movies – great. Boycott anything you want. It is our choices that determine what is produced.
        Going to congress to threaten them with laws ? That is evil.

        I would also suggest watching those post 30’s movies. There are a few excellent ones – and alot of crap. I would also remind you again you are pining for the era of blacklists.

        I think it is unlikely that you are going to throw a scare into the industries you are demonizing – they are doing well by giving people what they want. And there we are back to the core problem. It is not violent movies you are really unhappy about, but the fact that people like these movies, music, video games. You are back to trying to use law to change peoples attitudes, you just do not recognize it.

        Real Self-regulation means giving people what they want. That is clearly NOT what you want.

        I frequently share your distaste with much of what passes for culture today. But I only claim the right to set standards for myself. You are setting yourself up as judge for all.

        I do not know exactly what you mean by “self-regulate”, but what you do not mean is give people what they want. You mean giving people something less than they want, you want the sellers to impose your values one the buyers. The only way you are entitled to that is if you are one of the sellers.

      • December 19, 2012 5:59 pm

        Dave: The entertainment media create tastes as well as satisfy them. That’s part of the problem. They put an edgy product out there, the people respond to it and crave more. So they’ve created the need that they’re now satisfying.

        People didn’t crave rap music in the 1950s because it didn’t exist. Maybe most of them didn’t even like rap when it first surfaced, but they thought, “all the cool people seem to like this stuff… I’ll check it out.” And eventually (being the sheep they are) they liked it, bought it and made it a cultural phenomenon.

        Most of the cultural artifacts both of us dislike are inherently unlikable. Somehow the “bad is good” mentality of recent pop culture makes converts out of kids who, back in the ’50s, might have been watching Westerns on TV. We obviously can’t use legislation to curb this appetite for ugly culture (remember, I’m against bans on art or speech), but if we can’t pressure the entertainment industry into self-regulating (by which I mean something like the Hays Code), what would you suggest we do to keep our culture from deteriorating even more? You and I boycotting rap or violent video games is a non-factor, because neither of us would buy those products in the first place.

        I know we have to avoid slipping into a “Ministry of Culture” mentality, so that’s why I’m genuinely interested in exploring non-coercive options. A little tactical arm-twisting would be fine, but no, we can’t make top-down decisions on culture.

      • December 19, 2012 5:23 pm

        RP;

        Interesting argument, but ultimately though I think the constitution is a wonderful document. It is not god’s word.

        We have all rights humans find in nature save that of initiating violence against our neighbor. We give government the privilege of initiating violence in return for its sole duty protecting the remainder of those natural rights. It is that version of the social contract that informed the constitution.
        When government will not yield to any freedom but the freedom to initiate violence, then government is tyranny
        .

  11. December 19, 2012 3:01 pm

    My take on our modern culture.

    I can not stand “Rap” music and its progeny. It just is not music to me.
    I particularly can not stand violent, cop-killer, misogynist music.

    I will protest it, rant about it, box my children’s ears if I say them playing it.
    I will do everything in my power to persuade people to make choices I like better, I will do absolutely nothing to force them.

    Modern employers are no more loyal to employees than employees to employers.
    Why should that surprise you ? In the 50’s your choice of jobs was limited to those in your small community. If you went looking for another job, everyone knew where you worked. So long as your employer thrived and you did not screw up royally you had your job for life (or atleast until the 60’s), conversely it took decades to advance, being better, faster, smarter got you ahead – very slowly. Today you can get a job anywhere in the nation. screw up at your previous job, and you get a fresh start across town or across country. Do well and your employer better reward you quickly or you are headed elsewhere.

    Even in the midst of the current recession, if you are white, college educated, and have a productive job – engineering rather than philosophy, your unemployment rate is tiny and diminishing.

    If you are a young black male with no skills and no education, you are SOL.

    If anything conditions are better than the 50’s.

    I do not like most of what comes from hollywood, but I have no problem finding entertainment that I enjoy. In 1960 on a good day with foil on the antena I could pick up 3 programs in black and white to pick from. Today there are hundreds of thousands of shows I can watch at any moment.

    A free market that provides me what I want also provides everyone else what they want – even if I do not like their choices.

    I share a many of your distastes, but no one has tied me to a chair and forced me to listen to hiphop or watch Zombie Apocalypse. I can power up my TV, Computer or phone and find thousands of things that I like.

    I have 8000 songs that I love on my phone. I am not stuck with a 3 transistor radio that picks up 4 AM stations.

    All the rebellion of youth you decry today was present in the 50’s.
    James Dean – Rebel without a cause. Howl, Lolita.

    What is different today – it takes an awful lot more for the children of the 21st century to shock their parents – the children of the 60’s. We punctuated life with profanity, to get our attention they must marinate us in it. Big deal.

    Aside from the destruction of families and communities, i see none of your complaints as particularly new. I am sure Noah bemoaned the music and culture of Ham, Shem, and Japheth.

    Our children are learning about the adult world far earlier than we did. My 16 year old knows more about sex than I do. But kids are waiting longer, and behaving more responsibly – not long enough or responsibly enough to make their parents happy, but they are actually dong better than we did. I wish I could preserve the innocence of 6 year olds a bit longer, but that is not inside my power. Regardless, whatever the flaws of the world in which they know more earlier, it is a better world than the one that preceded it.

    Like you I decry the destruction of our families and communities.

    Unlike you I do not see the cause of that in changes in our culture.

    Our families and community are being systematically, destroyed by our government.
    Sometimes intentionally, and others by accident.

    The social safety-net you wax on lavishly, increases dependence on government and diminishes our connections with our neighbors and family.

    Parents are expected to raise their children, but children are not expected to care for their elderly parents. That is the job o social security, medicare, government.

    The destruction of the black family by the welfare state is a well documented crime. Though some of that was done with good intentions, a thorough examinations of history shows plenty of real malice. James Baldwin famously dubbed Urban Renewal “Negro Removal”

    Building codes and zoning regulations have destroyed communities.
    In the 60’s our neighborhood got together to burn their leaves. Today my neighbor calls the police if I burn anything, or my grass is to high.
    In the 60’s my parents would ask a neighbor to look after me for a few minutes while they walked to the grocery store.
    If you think Walmart has destroyed your local stores – try to open a grocery store in your suburban home ?

    Families, neighborhoods, churches, communities all exist because they are needed. When government steps in and to do the task they perform, we should not be surprised when those institutions that filled those roles before wither and die.

  12. December 19, 2012 3:11 pm

    Gallup polling on gun laws.
    Look at the trends.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/150341/Record-Low-Favor-Handgun-Ban.aspx

    Gun ownership is actually declining slowly.
    Violence of all kinds has been trending downward.
    Support for the private ownership of handguns is almost 3:1
    Even Support for the ownership of Assualt Weapons is 53:43
    Gun sales laws should be kept the same or made less strict – 54:44

    All these will take a small hit as a result of this incident, but the long term trends strongly favor less gun laws, and it is unlikely they are going to change.

    It is unlikely congress will act, even democrats read polls. It is likely there will be sabre rattling, possibly even a symbolic vote, but only so long as there is no possibility of legislation passing.

  13. December 19, 2012 3:26 pm

    Things are not evil. Evil is an attribute of human beings.

    Handguns, “assault weapons”, gun clips, machette’s, gasoline, …. are all tools, each capable of being used for a variety of purposes.

    Tools amplify the power and skills of humans. Whether they are microscopes or howitzers.

    Only Adam Lanza had the ability to determine whether his actions would be for good or evil. Once he chose evil, the AR-15 (not an assault weapon according to the 1994 Assault weapons act) was just the particular tool he chose. Any available tool that amplified his power would have been suitable. You can learn how to make small fuel air bombs on youtube. Killing people – even large numbers of people is not particularly hard.

    Contrary to Rick, mass murder’s are not easily thwarted. Their objective is infamy. They are intelligent, dedicated, creative, planners. Assault weapons may be one of the least heinous choices they could make.

  14. December 19, 2012 4:58 pm

    Rick;

    I think I grew up in much the same world you did
    One of my earliest memories is the JFK Assassination.
    Followed by MLK and RFK.
    Silent Spring
    The Population Bomb
    IRA Bombings
    The Munich Olympic Massacre
    Various airline hijackings.
    The Achille Larga
    Various Red Brigade attacks accross the world
    I remember the Ghetto riots of the 60’s.
    I remember Vietnam.
    I remember the constant fear of nuclear winter.
    I remember the 67, 73 Yom Kippur wars.
    The 1973 oil crisis,
    WaterGate,
    Iran Contra
    The 1979 Oil crisis,
    The Iranian Embassy hostage crisis.
    The Beruit Barracks bombing.
    ….

    When we married in 1983, my wife had no intentions of bringing children into a world we thought was going to hell and could end at any time.

    In 1998 my wife and I adopted our first child. In nearly two decades everything had changed.

    We do not live in a perfect world today, and the world of my youth is not as bad as a list of the disasters portrays.

    At the same time – even with our many current problems – all of which are clearly the responsibility of government, we still live in a constantly improving world.

    My children will inherit from me a better world than the one i inherited from my father.
    I am proud of my part in that.

    The period of my youth – which you keep looking back at with nostalgia, is not something I would want to bring back.
    If that is our golden era – then please leave me with today.
    If that is what good government means – please don’t bring it back.
    If that is the pinnacle of non-partisan cooperation – let us have political rancor.

    I chose to have kids. It was no accident, nor something that just happened without thought. In doing so I was making a conscious decision – both that i saw the world as a better place than it was a few decades earlier and that I had faith and would work hard towards continuing to improve it.

    The cold war and all the other evils of my youth were not overcome by military might. They were not defeated by government planning and programs.
    The entire world has experienced an explosion of freedom. Economic freedom, political freedom.

    The very things that you and most posters on TNM rant about are the CAUSES of the better world I am giving to my children.

    I think it is despicable that the president and prominent liberals are lying to everyone and telling them that the rich have gotten richer while the poor have gotten poorer.

    I was upper middle class in the sixties I am middle class today – my position has declined, and yet in every possible way I am far better off. I own two apartment buildings that provide for working poor families. They are nearly as well off as I was in the sixties.

    I wish that time travel were possible and I could give each and everyone of you who yearns for that better era in the past a one way ticket back.

    Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Please do not force me to repeat the past you long for.

    Take off the blinders. There is plenty wrong with the world. But it is still a fantastic place. I fully expect our government to ruin the economy several more times in the next decade or so before they learn they are the disease not the cure. STILL I see the future as bright. Yet you want to return to the 60’s and now even the 50’s. Please go. But leave me here.

    It is this that separates us

    You see a world that was not, a world that is not, and a world that can not be and whine.
    I see the world as it was, as it is and as it will be, and celebrate.

    • December 19, 2012 6:37 pm

      Dave: You’re a little younger than I am… my “golden” world came to a crashing end with the JFK assassination. But even so, I’ve never said we should turn back the clock to the 1950s; no era in history was perfect (though I’m starting to pine for the 1990s).

      What I mean is that young people then were taught the importance of character and good citizenship by their teachers and the better kids’ TV hosts of the day. We actually strove to be good. We were supposed to show respect for our elders. All this sounds impossibly quaint or even misguided today. But there’s something to be said for the nurturing of upright young people.

      Then the late ’60s happened, and young people gained a kind of giddy self-entitlement that effectively overthrew parental authority and the notion of respect for elders. Some loosening of the parental grip was healthy, but it went too far.

      As for our standard of living (which you always bring up), I think it peaked around 2000 and has been sliding downward since then. (Two stock market crashes and an endless recession will do that.)

      • December 20, 2012 3:02 pm

        I am not arguing that we are not doing thins wrong today.
        Just that on net almost all trends are toward improvement.

        I keep telling my own kids that they get away with things I would have been killed for. Yet when I am not arguing with them, and really paying attention to their interactions with the real world – I am very proud.
        All too often we see what we want to see.

        I think you are unable to see the world as it is through the lenses you wear that lead you to expect something worse.

        Is everything better ? No. We are spending gobs of money on education, and have lost a small amount of ground.

        It is pretty much inarguable that the long term trends in standard of living have been upward.

        Yes, there are declines after every recession – and there were two small ones in the early 2000’s and a huge one in 2008.

        Yes, Gini indexes have been increasing – though trying to assing meaning to that is complex.

        Yes, the gains increase as you move up the scale.

        All of these are true and will always be true.

        But here are some other things that are true.
        Nearly all of us enter adulthood in one of the bottom two quintiles.
        Nearly all of us die in one of the top three quintiles. The norm is a two quintile increase throughout our lives.

        Lets just presume it is true that the bottom quintile 2000 was better off than the bottom quintile today.

        That completely ignores the fact that a significant percent of the bottom quintile in 2000 are no longer in the bottom quintile today.

        In otherwords you are watching the change in a single variable, while multiple variables are changing, your results are nearly meaningless. Regardless they do not mean what you are trying to say they mean.

        The next huge issue is that our calculations of inflation are significantly off.

        In 1980 I bought a top of the line refrigerator wholesale for $1200. It was extremely inefficient and small by today’s standards, had no ice maker, no water or ice in the door, …. was dramatically worse than a cheap refrigerator today. in 1980 a minimum wage worker had to work 387 hours to pay for that refridgerator. Today I can buy a far better one for about $1000 and the same minimum wage worker must work 138 hours to pay for it.

        Inflation adjusted wages that we claim are stagnant, buy more – often twice as much as they did 40 years ago.

        Have things improved much since 2000 – probably not much.

        Did we make better choices in the 1990’s when we reduced the rate of increase of government spending, did a little deregulation, thought we ended welfare, dramatically reduced entitlement spending AND improved the quality of life for those at the bottom. Sure

        Did we make worse choices in the 2000’s when we added a whole new layer of government complexity to business Sarbanes-Oxley, badly screwed arround with public schools – NCLB, significantly increased the price of elder care – Medicare drug Act. wasted a gazillion dollars on endless war, …..

        If you want me to say that Bush was fiscally closer to Obama than Clinton, and that Clinton was closer to Reagan – agreed.

        So which approach worked – that of Reagan ? Clinton ? Bush ? Obama ?

        Given that Obama is making the same mistakes that Bush made – on steriods, why do you expect 2008-2016 to be better than 2000-2008 ?

        Though through all of this I will still note, that even through Bush and Obama, though many of us are worried, the overwhelming majority of us are doing better. the primary bad effects of the bad policies of Bush and Obama are at the bottom. What groups have the highest unemployment ? The worst prospects ? Was that the case under Reagan or Clinton ?

        No everything is not relentlessly and perfectly improving. but that is the trend direction, and most things are following the trend. And we can beautifully correlate the ups and downs to changes in freedom.
        Since 2000 The US has dropped as much as 15 places in the world ranking of freedom – and you believe the poor are doing much worse.

        Even if things are going to hell for the poor as you claim, that change worsens the further we move from freedom.

        .

  15. December 19, 2012 7:27 pm

    So, Mrs Lanza now buys a perfectly legal security shotgun. This is a pump action that holds 8 rounds and these can be fired off in seconds. That is the point of that type of gun. Sonny finds this gun takes a box of shells and the gun to school after killing Mom.

    He walks in and fires off 8 rounds in quick order. It takes him less than minute to reload. Who or what is going to stop him from re-loading? Ah, no one as the classroom is full of dead or near dead people. So, he re-loads and go next door.

    You see where this is headed. The so-called assault rifle ban made some folks feel safer when in fact, no such safety was available.

    • December 20, 2012 10:49 am

      You make a reasonable point, Rich. If someone is determined enough to slaughter a bunch of people, he’ll probably find a way — even with conventional weapons. But I still think the carnage could be reduced if the guy couldn’t tote semi-automatic weapons to the scene of his intended crime. Say he were firing at moviegoers instead of schoolchildren, and he had to take a minute to reload after eight rounds… a couple of men in the theater could easily jump him and grab his gun (or guns). That would make a big difference.

      Unfortunately, kids and teachers are more vulnerable. Should we arm the teachers? Then there’s the possibility of collateral damage. (Remember the cops who tried to shoot a killer outside the Empire State Building and wounded half a dozen pedestrians in the process?) There’s really no cure-all, but I still think banning semi-automatics would help reduce the body count, and that’s something worth considering.

      • December 20, 2012 1:25 pm

        Not really Rick and I think deep down inside, you know this. In fact, under the scenario I posited. an armed teacher would actually make a difference, at least as much as your belief that a couple of men in a theater could jump the guy. Good luck with that one.

        With a clip loading pistol, you can eject and reload in seconds. The reality is that you CANNOT stop a dedicated loon from committing these crimes They simply up the ante, and that is NOT a good thing. IF you could stop the auto weapons, they move on to bombs. Do you really want to encourage more Oklahoma City bombings?

        The first thing we could do is ask the media to stop covering these massacres the way they do. If there is one thing that the MH professionals seem to agree on, is that these loons get off on the glory of coverage that they think will occur AFTER they are dead. WTF?

        You can’t make this shit up.

  16. December 20, 2012 11:05 am

    Rick;

    This creating taste, or creating a craving argument is equally meaningless.

    You are claiming that individuals are not responsible for themselves.
    That forces more powerful than they are control them.

    Sorry, even where people choose to follow cultural leaders – they choose.

    The entertainment industry does not seek to push people to crave something they do not want. It seeks to figure out what they want that they do not know they want. It is not the same thing. They may depend on the tendency of many of us to choose to follow leaders, but the leaders still have to respond positively.

    Whether Rap existed in the 1950’s or not is meaningless – iPods didnt exist either that does nto mean people would not have wanted them. And even if there would have been no market for Rap in the 50’s there is now – and an awful lot of people are expressing their preference by buying it. Further Precursor’s to Rap existed much earlier than the 50’s. I have some call and response Negro chain gain music that I actually like that very strongly resembles Rap.

    If something is “inherently unlikeable” why is it that all our tastes change.
    I hated cheese as a child. I love it now.
    I hated Opera – mostly I still don’t, but some I love.

    I do not believe your claim to support free speech.
    I think you are tolerant of some noxious expression, but ultimately are willing to use the law to stop something if you do not like it enough. You have openly advocated regulated political advertisement – if political speech is not free no speech is.

    Pressure producers all you wish. Boycott, protest, rant and rave. Buy stock in competitors. Urge others to do the same.
    I am entirely behind you.

    The “Hayes Code” came about to avoid state censorship. That is wrong. The moment you invoke the power of government – even to blackmail people into voluntarily censoring themselves, you have crossed the line. It is called prior restraint, and it has a chilling effect.

    You say that top down does not work, but my sense is that you hold it in reserve as a last resort, or second to last, or for leverage, or you would just prefer not to have to resort to it, or you will resort to it nearly always but with reluctant rhetoric.
    Nor is that perception restricted to just speech issues.

    I believe that given most any issue, your answer is going to be “I am sorry, but in this instance I reluctantly think government must act”. You are the “reluctant central planner”.

    Ignoring libertarian and sticking entirely to practical arguments, government only works when the problem has clearly definable bright lines, that everyone can understand even if they do not agree on – and those bright lines have to work.

    If it were actually possible to define a narrow class of products that could practically be banned, that would radically reduce mass killings and argument could be made for government action. but that is not the case. Even banning all guns would likely have limited impact on mass killings.

    In 1994 Congress did something symbolic and impractical. The essentially banned nasty looking weapons. That was effectively the same as banning Rap music.
    It was wisely allowed to expire in 2004.

    Symbolic laws are nearly always bad. They are emotional responses to problems that require logic.

    Problems that require discretion, case by case consideration, are unsuitable for top down approaches.
    Further even all problems that are amenable to top-down solutions are not problems government should solve. The sole distinguishing characteristic of government is force. If a problem does not require force, it should not be solved by government.

  17. Ron P permalink
    December 20, 2012 12:42 pm

    With all the comments and reactions that have been made on this site, on other sites, on radio shows, tv shows and polticial venues, the one thing I have not heard or read yet is the real problem that exist in America today.

    We have a problem with violence in America. Only when a tragedy such as Sandy Hook occurs do we hear much out of our leadership. Then it is knee jerk reactions that will make everyone feel good until the next tragedy occurs.

    We do not see leadership in Washington where the real cause of problems are explored so real solutions can be put into place well before another shooting, truck bomb blast, car bomb or other mass distruction occurs in America.

    The result of the problem not being discussed proactively and solutions found is death. And not until we have leadership and not political followers worried about the next election will anything change.

    • December 20, 2012 2:12 pm

      Ron;

      The rate of violence has been declining throughout human history.

      http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/pinker07/pinker07_index.html

      Primitive man was incredibly violent.
      Before the enlightenment rates of violence were much higher than today.
      Each of the 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries have seen a steady trend of decreasing violence at most every scale.

      The US has a reputation for violence. We do still have a higher rate of violent death than the UK. But the UK actually has twice the violent crime rate the US has – more injuries, less deaths.

      Certainly we should consider efforts to reduce violence even further, but if we start from the presumption that our time and our culture are among the most violent, then we are making a false start.

      Two themes that I keep trying to drive:

      Real world data and trends often if not usually run counter to what we are repeatedly told.
      In most everyday at most every scale, the world is getting better year by year, decade by decade, century by century. The trends are near universal, everywhere at every scale. The root cause of this is greater freedom.

      If we are unable to see the world accurately as it is, then how can we possibly believe with have any clue how to address the worlds problems ?

      • Ron P permalink
        December 20, 2012 6:01 pm

        I am not disagreeing with most everything people have said concerning this subject. There have been good comments as well as some that many would believe unacceptible depending on ones interpretation of the constitution. For me, people can base decisions on a stict adherence of the words or they can base their decisions on trying to determine what the founding fathers would put in that document today that would cover the same rights they put in it over 200 years ago.

        My comment is based on the fact that we do not have a government that will look at an issue when it is not “an issue”. They will not look at tax reform until taxes are an issue with deficits. They will not look at deficit reduction until it is bumping up against the debt limit. They will not look at spending reductions until they can’t rob the people of anymore money through increased tax rates. And they will not look at violence in America, even if it is declining as you say it is, until we have a crazy go off and kills a bunch of people. That is not leadership, it is a bunch of leeches on society trying to cover their as5es so they can run for reelection in 2-4 years and can hold up some committee or bill they introduced or voted on to save their skins.

        And when new laws are written, gun control is tightened, nuts are not allowed to possess guns and another columbine or Sandy Hook occurs, everyone will ask “how did this happen, we have laws against things like this”? And again, nothing will be done to get to the root of the problem, that being young white males immune to hurt and death due to the environment they were raise in and societies inaction to help them when help is needed.

      • December 21, 2012 10:52 am

        Rob;

        Why do you presume that government is even supposed to do so much ?

        All the fiscal woes that they are not acting on – they created.

        Taxes and spending are not too high because legislators did nothing for the past 4 decades.

        The largest problems we face today are because of what congress has done for decades.

        Over and Over here at TNM I am told Social Security is not a ponzi scheme.
        Well it pays off retiring investors using the investment of new ones. That is the classic definition of a Ponzi scheme. Regardless, it is headed towards a 23% shortfall very soon. And as I keep trying to get through to everyone, there is no magic money tree. Tax the rich tax the poor tax corporations, it does not matter, whatever you do to obtain the money to cover the shortfall – we will all have less. You can not take from business or the “rich” without reducing investment, diminishing what all of us have in the future.

        We do not need leaders in congress. We need less.
        ?unfortunately the leaders have comitted us to spending that can not be paid for, and now we need leadership to fix that.

      • Ron P permalink
        December 21, 2012 12:51 pm

        Asmith, I think you miss my point completely. I did not say congress or our leaders have not taken action on different issues. I said they are taking the wrong actions.

        If they did what they were suppose to do years ago, we would not be in the position today that the best action for them to take on the debt and deficit is the Simpson Bowles recommendations. Had they balanced the budget for the past 30 years and passed sensible laws concerning banking and private enterprise then we might have a vibrant economy and 2008 may have never happened.

        That is the same for violence in America. If they would have sensible discussions about why violence occurs, then maybe the private sector could address some of the issues, but right now everyone is just reacting to protect their piece of the constitution and nothing gets done to change anything. Congress does not have to spend money to bring members from different walks of life to discuss ways to address problems. They just think they need to spend money and pass laws.

        So now we have the NRA protecting the rights to own guns and attacking video games and movies, we have movie producers protecting their right to make any movie they want and attacking the guns and then the video game producers are doing their thing protecting their piece of the pie.

        And does anyone think anything is going to change in that environment?

      • December 21, 2012 4:51 pm

        Rob;

        I do not think i missed your point, and we agree on much.

        My point is that it really is not the job of our politicians to lead.
        Even in the rare instances where government has a legitimate role, government action should be driven, not leading.
        When government acts, it should be with the full support of a super majority of the people, with all interests aligned.

      • Ron P permalink
        December 21, 2012 5:51 pm

        “Even in the rare instances where government has a legitimate role, government action should be driven, not leading”

        OK I can accept part of your position. But in response to your comment I put in quotes, that is the problem with our government today. It is driven. It is driven by special interest groups and not the people as in “We the People” as stated in the constitution.

        As for leading, if not the role of the government to ask mental health workers, gun manufacturers, video game software CEO’s, movie producers, law enforcement representatives, military representatives and any other person or industry you can think of involved with violence in America in someway to gather and discuss violence, whose role is it to get all these people together to come up with ideas that will “drive” action by the government?

      • December 22, 2012 1:06 am

        Ron P;

        So a bunch of you get together and stomp into your senators office demanding say – gun control laws.

        Aren’t you a “special interest”.

        Absent a situation where the overwhelming majority demand action, any group asking anything of legislators are special interests.

        Maybe there are good special interests and bad ones – but being a “special interest” does not distinguish one group seeking their way from another.

        As our constitution is setup, “We the People” get our say on the first tuesday in November on even numbered years. In between our elected representatives are supposed to act in the best interests off the nation – not the whim of the people. We are not a democracy. Our founders scorned democracy.

        No it is not the role of government to go out of its way to gather a group of special interests together to tell it how to solve problems that never were its business in the first place.

        Do you want your doctor consulting with lawn care specialists before removing your appendix ?

        We were on to something here for a while. There was some understanding of our individual and collective power in a free world.
        but once you add government, you remove freedom.
        Government does not persuade, it does not dynamically balance competing values, wants and needs. It directs from the top with force.

        I can not defend you, even if I agree with you, once you resort to force to achieve your goals. Government is force. If whatever you are trying to attain can be accomplished without force, it can be accomplished without government.

      • Ron P permalink
        December 22, 2012 12:38 pm

        In many instances we agree, but on a few we will have to disagree. Unlike you, I believe an individual is elected by their voters to represent their interest in congress as long as it is not something illegal. One mans (or women’s) “best interest of the nation” is anothers “worst nightmare”. If an individual is elected by a majority of voters and he/she has been elected on a position(s) that the voters desire, then it is up to that individual to vote for laws that support those positions. I do not beleive one should be elected on one set of positions and then when they get to office they vote the opposite because that is what they believe to “be in the best interst of the country”. If someone is elected to represent a districts belief that lower taxes and decreased spending is required, it is up to them to insure they vote for those positions.

        As for our example of the doctor asking a lawn expert before operating, the lawn expert has no knowledge of medicine. But that same doctor might consult with a surgeon, your internist, a gastrointerologist and a few more doctors before making a recommendation on the course of treatment.

        If we can not get everyone involved in the “industry of violence” to consult government and discuss the impact their individual piece of the environment has on society, how can we ever overcome the fights that take place with no improvements ever happening.

  18. Pat Riot permalink
    December 21, 2012 12:38 am

    Rick, my favorite parts of your post were (I’ll be paraphrasing now…) “putting evil back in the bag…being a heroic effort…and that’s why it appeals to you (Now you’re talking!)
    And about rescuing a generation of children from shabby values…

    Man, there’ s an epic opportunity right in front of us that’s worth living for!

    Some legislation will help a bit, but, as has been commented above by many, that ain’t gonna save us…

    Like millions of responsible parents, my wife and I encouraged the good stuff and frowned upon the bad stuff in our own house to teach values to our kids. We didn’t have to be perfect to set good examples and instill values…the honesty came through and our kids gave us the benefit of the doubt based on the majority of good stuff we managed to pull off.

    Now Imagine Hollywood writers and producers and those in control of media voluntarily, of their own free will, deciding that instilling values is of upmost importance to dovetail with their profit-making. Imagine consumers refusing to patronize the casual violence garbage…

    Not top-down censorship. No white-washing of creativity by a nanny state.

    Instead: A D-day invasion of personal responsibility and virtue by millions against cold, selfish evil…OOH-rah!

  19. Pat Riot permalink
    December 21, 2012 9:31 am

    But in order for the D-day of virtue to occur, people must enlist…

    • TNSGWazzoo permalink
      December 21, 2012 11:21 am

      Pat, I’ve enlisted. Already long ago. The problem is that as usual its the two armies, and they are at war with each other, rather than the problem, due to their perceived needs to defend their favorite sacred cows above all else.

      Maybe everyone should give ground on their favorite sacred cow instead of waiting for the other side to give on theirs.

      its very very easy to say that each of the fronts of our cultural violence problem, Hollywood, video games, 30 round clips, has a fatal flaw and is just a pointless exercise,

      I’m for going after these evils anyhow, because making the point that they ARE evils is the basis for changing the culture.

    • December 21, 2012 3:31 pm

      My interpretation of Pat’s “call to action” is that “enlisting” means that individuals use their own power and creativity to begin changing the culture….by not glorifying violence, materialism, dishonesty, etc. through their works and/or their patronage.

      I’m not sure what you mean by “going after them..”

      • Pat Riot permalink
        December 21, 2012 4:20 pm

        Pearows, Yes! Precisely Priscilla! It is about individual Americans using their own power and creativity to begin changing the culture: everyone in their own sphere of influence with self, family, friends, community if you can find one (!)

        Then on top of that I want to get the fragmented .orgs working together, getting on each other’s calendars, etc. The lack of communication is…is…a great opportunity for better communication.

      • December 21, 2012 4:40 pm

        See it is possible for all of us to agree.

        Is there anyone here who thinks Adam Lanza’s shooting spree was a good think ? No ?

        Anyone who wishes to prevent people from speaking out – about anything that offends them ?

        Boycott, protest, march,

        I have no doubt that if there was sufficient action, that colt would yank the AR-15 from the market – and you would not hear a peep from me.

  20. Pat Riot permalink
    December 21, 2012 4:16 pm

    Well, all of us thoughtful, caring, “law-abiding” people have been helping to hold things together on a daily basis with our thoughts and actions, from small random acts of kindness to life-long devotions to family, careers, causes, etc.,

    So, yes, good people have been fighting the battle all along, but I’m talking about ratcheting up the good stuff to new levels, making a transition back from “consumer culture,” so to speak, to actual culture again, so to speak, in a hundred million different ways.

    You know how vast numbers of Americans are all psyched for NFL Football on Sundays, wearing their team’s jersey and some so fanatical they call into Sports Radio all week and know every player’s stats, etc.? (I used to put the little football hemits of the two teams playing on top of the TV…I had it bad, haha). I’m talking about that level of excitement with an American cultural renaissance, as though bringing American culture out of the gutter, so to speak, was the most exciting hobby an American could have. Oh it may sound grandiose and naive, but it’s do-able, people.

    • Pat Riot permalink
      December 21, 2012 4:22 pm

      that’s “helmits” not “hemits”

  21. Pat Riot permalink
    December 21, 2012 4:24 pm

    Jesus Christmas! Now I’ve lost some credibility: “helmets” and not “helmits” or “hemits” or “hermits.”

    • December 21, 2012 4:26 pm

      This is TNM spelling and grammar are optional.

      I promise not to attack your spelling and grammar errors, if you confine yourself to no more than polite fun at mine.

  22. December 21, 2012 4:25 pm

    What should we do when bitter cold weather drives larger than normal numbers to the homeless shelter.

    Why fine the shelter for overcrowding of course!

    http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/12/21/bureaucracy-kills-catholic-shelter-housing-too-many-homeless-people/#more-12123

    • Ron P permalink
      December 21, 2012 5:38 pm

      asmith..what do you think we should do if there are 65 people. You kick one out into the street is what you do. Rules are rules!!!!We can’t have anyone questioning the decisions governmental leaders make. They know what best for all of us.

      (Please know this is sarcasm!!!)

  23. December 21, 2012 4:44 pm

    Apparently the left and the right agree – Sen. Boxer and the NRA both want to turn our schools into stalags.

    And another Mass Killing in Texas !!!, oh, sorry, forgot, Texas – even the ticket takers are armed

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2012/12/16/report-shooting-at-mayan-theater-in-san-antonio.html

  24. December 21, 2012 5:02 pm

    Mr. Etzioni;

    Starts off in the right direction.

    We each have the right to ban guns (or anything else), in our homes, churches, theaters stores. We have the right to make the rules regarding anything that is ours. We have the right as individuals and groups to agree to voluntary standards of conduct among ourselves

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amitai-etzioni/gun-free-homes-and-commun_b_2322773.html

    What we can not do is impose rules behavior in public or within their own property on others.

    • December 21, 2012 7:05 pm

      Mr. Etzioni’s idea of advertising that one’s home or community is gun-free is just…stupid.

      • Pat Riot permalink
        December 21, 2012 8:02 pm

        Pearows, thank you! Mr. Etzioni’s idea is SO stupid. I’m not one of those people who thinks there’s a murderer or rapist hiding behind every parked car and tree, but to post “Attention Burglars and Rapists and Assorted Criminals: No armed resistance here!” is a funny example of having no street smarts at all. Stupid.

      • December 22, 2012 12:11 am

        So then would creating a zone excluding guns from a place like say a school also be just … stupid ?

      • December 22, 2012 12:13 am

        I have 3 dogs, I already advertise – “Attention Burglars and Rapists and assorted Criminals:you can cow me into submission, but I have three defenders you can not threaten or intimidate, or reason with.”

      • December 22, 2012 8:37 am

        Yes, it’s stupid for schools, too. I assume that the whole “gun-free school” idea was aimed at keeping students from bringing guns to school, which is perfectly logical….my son was almost suspended from middle school once, because he brought a squirt gun to school (it was pink, no less!) to use in a skit for his English class. That was my first experience with the “zero-tolerance” anti-mentality of the public schools.

        Of course, now that the NRA has endorsed putting armed guards in schools, the left has quickly condemned the idea….despite the fact that, literally, the day before, the NYT had an editorial suggesting it as a possible option. Consensus and compromise have become dirty words…..tribal fealty is where it’s at.

      • Ron P permalink
        December 22, 2012 12:47 pm

        pearows..Two local counties in my area have proposed increasing the school resource officer divisions so their is one officer in each school. The problem is the cost as the rural county estimates the cost would be about $400K per year additional cost. Both proposed this well before the NRA made its proposal, but I would guess some who supported the proposals before the NRA spoke out would now be against it.

        My fear with this proposal is if the federal government becomes involved. We all see what a great job the TSA is doing at airports. One can only imagine what kind of experts we would get at schools.

      • December 22, 2012 8:39 am

        I meant “anti-gun” mentality….although my typo works too, lol.

      • December 22, 2012 1:18 pm

        Good point, Ron. “Federal School Guards” – I shudder to think….

      • December 22, 2012 2:38 pm

        Sen. Boxer – send national guard to schools.

        http://newsbusters.org/blogs/jack-coleman/2012/12/20/sen-barbara-boxer-activate-national-guard-protect-schools

        Personally i think it is a bad idea.

        but it is not a “liberal” bad idea or a “Conservative” bad idea.

        Apparently the left thought it was a good idea until the NRA pushed it.

        Again one of the issues that troubles me at TNM

        I think far too many here see ideas as good or bad depending on who said them rather than what was said.

        NRA – Bad, norquist – Bad, NYT – Good, Obama – Good.

        Often I think little thought is put into actually examining an idea.

        Personally, I think most of the current GOP house is too far to the left on taxes and spending – not based on ideology, but on the scale of our problems and how much worse they will become if we do not deal with them NOW.

        But here as in much of the country, there is still this idiotic belief that somehow we can have a budget whose BASELINE has grown by 1/3 since 2007, run $1T deficits forever without consequence.

        Like it or not, spending is going to be cut – most spending.
        Certainly we should weed out waste – though we are bad at that – there is a reason government waste exists – it is a natural consequence of a powerful state. Regardless, we can not fix our problems with cuts arround the edges. We can not fix them by taxing the crap out of the rich – even if it worked. We are going to have to cut many things we care about.

        better smaller cuts now, then terminating the programs entirely later.

        But few – even here are prepared to grasp that.
        The president is still talking about INCREASING spending.

        If the GOP is insufficiently fiscally responsible, what does that say for the president and democrats ?

        Ian is going to rant that I as spouting libertarian extremism.

        I would suguest that the best chance everyone who wants them has of preserving all those safetynet programs you value, is to cut spending by almost $1T/year NOW. Otherwise all too soon the choice will be between a totalitarian state that can not give you what you want, and a free state that will not. If you wish to preserve anything close to the status quo you need to act now.

  25. December 22, 2012 12:03 pm

    I think it is well established that deterrent strategies tend to work, even with nut jobs. For example, even the suicidal loons don’t want anyone killing THEM before they wreck havoc. They want to die by their own hand after the fact.

    Now, if these loons think their is a fairly good chance they will not succeed, they MAY not choose to go down that path. MAYBE, no guarantees but I don’t see these guys walking into the local police station or taking on the local gang bangers. They seek out defenseless children to slaughter.

    So, the concept of an unknown, armed teacher that could stop them in their tracks might work well. In fact, the next time a teacher DOES waste one of these loons in the act SHOULD be publicized to the hilt.

    • December 22, 2012 1:30 pm

      Very valid point, Rich……the week before the Newtown massacre, there was the mall shooting in Oregon, which resulted in only 2 fatalities (well, 3 counting the shooter), because the shooter was confronted by a ccw holder who drew his gun, causing the shooter to abort his spree and kill himself. Very, very little coverage about that. Almost none, in fact. Didn’t fit the media narrative…..

    • December 22, 2012 2:42 pm

      Armed guards, or armed teachers will not reduce the number of deaths in schools. Either will likely increase them.

      What it will do is reduce the mass killings. So instead of 26 killed by one crazy loon, you will have an angry guard shoots 4, or a teacher whigs out and kills 3, many times over.

      But mostly these stories will not make the news – or atleast not the national news.

      • December 22, 2012 4:51 pm

        Actually, Dave you don’t know that..Occasionally, you could phrase your points as opinions, rather than a fact handed down from above.

        Again, how many nut jobs are walking into the local police precincts or for that matter, the local gun shows?

      • December 22, 2012 5:13 pm

        you are correct, but the odds favor a reduction of casualties from mass killings and an increase in less dramatic killings.

        One of the points is that we are trying to tweak the odds of something that is already incredibly rare.
        You could find a tactic that reduced mass killings by 50% over a decade, and still have a three fold increase next year.

        There is NOTHING that we can do that will have a known positive effect.
        Banning assault weapons could result in an increase in mass killings or casualities. Trying to successfully play arround with factors effecting something that is extremely rare is nearly impossible.

        To my knowledge teachers are not a frequent source for mass killers,
        But there are plenty of instances of security guards, and ex soldiers whiging out.

  26. December 22, 2012 4:49 pm

    Priscilla,

    Yes, the narrative. Notice how that Hassan clown has yet to be branded as a terrorist by the administration. Trayvon Martin’s killing had the media on it for month. The deaths of US soldiers by a Muslim terrorist on US soil? Not so much!

    Where’s the story in that?

  27. Pat Riot permalink
    December 22, 2012 6:59 pm

    At first when I heard the re-introduction of the idea of armed cops in schools, my reactions were along the lines of “oh what have we come to,” and was it Ben Franklin who had the line about “people who give up liberties…”?

    But then I’m realizing that the armed cops are already out there anyway, in their cruisers, a few blocks away, perhaps getting coffee at the WaWa or other convenience store (really not a jab at cops, I have no problem with them mixing with the morning rush crowd…), so I’m thinking…why not position them a little closer to protect our children? We’re already trusting the police and their 9mms in our lives, so why not position them around the precious cargo? Perhaps outside in their cruisers and occassionally walking the beat around the schools would be better than inside in the hallways?

    • December 23, 2012 1:05 am

      Yes, lets turn schools into Stalag 9.

      Anything predictable that you introduce gives the mass murders an additional target.

      If police are not actually in the school there is no certainty they will be informed and respond. If they are in the school they have millions of hours of dull waiting in between instances in which they can actually do something.
      further what is it that assures you that your well prepared, heavily armed Adam Lanza type does not take out your guards first.

      These people can be detered – but predictable obstacles are small deterrent.

      • December 23, 2012 11:19 am

        Yes, the media is in the tank FOR gun control. The Piers Morgan shout-down was appalling. When the media makes it clear they are not acting like the “press” then do they surrender the freedom that is referenced in the Constitution?

        Not likely. The fix is in and I have already noticed the spike in reporting gun-related killings, as if these are “new.”

        To me, this is all part of the Obama-led pile on by the left. You win an election by 2% and somehow, you are an emperor. My prediction is that he will pull out the executive order bullshit and use if for all it is worth. Congress, will sit by and wring their hands (the GOP will at least).

  28. December 22, 2012 7:44 pm

    Good idea, Pat–though I would still favor going all the way to full on well screened dedicated security guards. In addition to stopping an armed intruder bent on the slaughter of innocents, they could liaison with the police cruisers you mention for any suspicious behavior, including possible explosives. They could also intervene in fights between students (at the older age levels). Unfortunately, with the recent endorsement of school guards by the NRA president, the media can be expected to pan the idea. An uphill battle looms.

    • December 22, 2012 8:23 pm

      Good thoughts. You know, random walk throughs may be just as good as a deterrent.

      Or, the equivalent of neighborhood watches?

      Sometimes a little deterrent goes a long way.

    • December 23, 2012 9:27 am

      it’s funny….there are armed guards at all federal and state office buildings – many county buildings as well – and I would imagine in big cities like NYC, Chicago, LA. Most big museums and art galleries employ armed guards and they patrol big sports arenas, as well.

      But the president of the NRA suggests school guards, and all of a sudden he is – per the headline of The Daily News in NY – “The Craziest Man on Earth”?? This is a world gone mad.

      I don’t know whether I support the idea or not….it sounds reasonable to me, along with some of the gun control reforms that have been suggested.

      But to call the idea “crazy,” just because the “other side” has proposed it? That IS crazy, and that’s what goes on all the time now. The clusterfark known as the fiscal cliff “negotiations” is nothing more than a political war, with the goal being to blame the ultimate result on the other side. It’s disgusting and demoralizing beyond belief, And, yes, I do place more responsibility on the President and his party, but only because, right now, they hold the power to stop this, but they would rather destroy the GOP than try and work together for real reforms. The GOP did little better when they were in charge.

      Anyway, Merry Christmas!!

  29. December 23, 2012 1:07 am

    How well has gun control worked for england ?

    http://www.saf.org/journal/16/guncontrolinengland.pdf

    Not so well

  30. December 23, 2012 1:23 am

    Why do so many of you believe that adding police, security guards, national guard, or retired soldiers are going to make our schools more safe, yet you are reluctant to consider allowing teachers with carry permits to have weapons locked in their classrooms ?

    The latter is likely to be a far better deterrent than all the predictable security you can come up with, and costs nothing.

    Given a choice between a free as in low cost AND free as in greater liberty solution, and one that is both expensive and even more constraining, you all are rushing to the expensive unfree solution.

    Most police officers are NOT highly trained with weapons – while there are exceptions the norm is that they are less practiced than the average gun owner. I am not particularly looking to malign police.

    But I am noting that the average police officer, security guard, …. is likley to be significantly less skilled with weapons than any Adam Lanza they might encounter, and at best only marginally more skilled than the average teacher with a carry permit.

    If you want to improve the odds more – allow permitted teachers to keep weapons locked in their classroom desk – but require them to maintain some minimal level of proficiency higher than that of the ordinary police officer.

    • Ron P permalink
      December 23, 2012 1:11 pm

      I would like to see what info you are using to support your position that police officers are less than efficient in the use of firearms. I understand that there may be some in “Poedunk, USA” somewhere that may not be trained, but I would hope they are the exception.

      Why is it that we can have armed guards working for the TSA flying on airplanes and it is a good thing. A friend of mine left a job as a software engineer and went to work for the TSA flying across country. He had little training in guns until he took that job. The same would hold true for guards in schools.

      As for teachers having guns, would this be a requirement? What about the teacher that is affraid of guns? One that does not own a gun? Who supplies the guns? Who makes sure the teachers are properly trained? Who is responsible for covering a room if one teacher does not have a gun?

      One thing I do find extremely interesting is the liberals position on the second amendment rights and their position to limit and enfringe on those rights to increase safety, but they consistently bring up right to privacy and not enfringing on that right when mental health is brought into the discussion.

      Teachers with guns, school guards, limiting gun clips, better background checks that include mental health info, etc all have to be part of the discussion. Who directs that discussion is also up for discussion as some beleive that is part of societies responsibility and other governments responsibility.

      • December 23, 2012 1:29 pm

        As I understand it, one of the better security techniques employed are sky marshals. Apparently, the fact that on one knows if they are on board and who they are adds immeasurably to the deterrent effect.

        So, random security may be more effective than so-called armed guards.

      • December 23, 2012 1:32 pm

        Did someone say that i was in favor of the TSA ?
        I doubt a more useless government agency could possibly be conceived of.
        Last I checked every single attempted terrorist action invovling air travel subsequent to 9//11 has been thwarted by passengers.

        The TSA is security theater intended to make us feel like government is doing something for us, it serves no other purpose

        As to the firearms skills of police – I have been able to find little data.
        A small portion of police officers – and a larger portion of gun owners in general are very well trained. They are very knowledgeable about guns, and skilled in their use. But in both groups these are a significant minority.

        Throughout the country most officers receive minimal training.
        Conditions vary from force to force, but continued demonstration of even minimal proficiency is by far the exception rather than the rule.

        Most police officers never use their weapons during their entire career.

        The best data we have is for NYC where when an officer fires, the data shows that the hit something in less than 1 in 3 incidents, that in 2 of three of those they hit an innocent bystander rather than a perpetrator.

        There are separate studies by police indicating that the limited marksmanship training that some officers receive is nearly useless and often counter to the skills necessary to successfully confront armed perpetrators in public situations.

        Again I am not seeking to bash police.

        The minimal requirements to be a police officer in much of the country are having a high school degree, being over 21, and passing an examination. Though some officers have further education and training.

        Regardless, there is no reason to presume that a police officer is solely by virtue of their job better with weapons,

      • December 23, 2012 1:46 pm

        I am not seeking to obligate teachers or anyone else in a school or anywhere else to be armed.

        I am suggesting the we allow it.

        Teachers are already subject to background checks that are more thorough than the police, the military or gun ownership require.
        Still some problems slip through. If that is true of teachers why would you expect that thorough background checks are going to work for school security ?

        Nor do I have problems imposing further conditions on those teachers that chose to bring weapons to school such as:
        That they must be locked up within the school.

        If you personally wish you can seek further training.

        While I do believe in the right to bear arms, rights are something we have with respect to government. There is no right to have a gun at work, nor a reason that employers can not allow guns but with whatever conditions they deem appropriate.

        I am proposing allowing teachers to bring weapons, as an effective cost free means of reducing mass killings in schools.

        I strongly suspect that would both reduce the number of attempts AND reduce the number of casualties.

        I also suspect it would increase the total number killed by guns in schools – but I think that would also be true with security guards and additional policing.

        But there would be far fewer successful mass killings.
        And since we seem fixated on preventing something rarer than a death by lightning strike I have offered what I believe is both the most effective and least burdensome means of doing that.

        My solution still might arguably be a bad idea – but it is still a better one than turning our schools into prisons.

      • December 23, 2012 1:57 pm

        And JBastiat is correct, the strongest deterrents against intelligent perpetrators, is increasing the number of unknowns they have to deal with.

        An armed security guard whose presence is known whose patterns can be determined, is just another victim. Maintaining the level of preparedness needed to keep an armed guard immediately ready to dispatch an Adam Lana, would make schools worse than prisons and ensure far more accidental deaths than mass killers inflict.

        Even allowing teachers to have guns in school may only drive the next Adam Lanza to chose a different means of killing than door to door with an AR-15.

        Part of what I am trying to get through, is that top down planning is usually a bad solution to most problems. For every action there is a reaction. Not usually the one planners expected.

        It does not matter whether we are talking about top down solutions to mass killing or unemployment. Whatever solution we impose there will be unanticipated consequences – that will likely be greater than the desired effects.

        Organic solutions are not uniform or monolithic, they are more flexible, and dynamially adaptable they have less unintended consequences

      • December 23, 2012 3:23 pm

        I would agree that top-down solutions generally suck, in all forms and in all kinds of organizations. As one who used to be at the top of several organizations, , I can tell you how badly some of my so-called solutions turned out to be.

  31. December 23, 2012 1:02 pm

    Yes ! Lets invite the police and soldiers into our schools permanently.
    Wouldn’t that be wonderful for our children !

    Oh, we have done this already ? And its working out pretty horribly ?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jan/09/texas-police-schools

    When you give someone power, they are going to use it.
    And not in the way that you had hoped.

    • December 23, 2012 1:21 pm

      Lighten up Dave, this is a normal reaction to a horrible event. It is unlikely to happen, simply given the economics of the situation. I suggest you allow folks to go through their process before you see a nazi around every corner.

      • December 24, 2012 1:19 am

        The most I expect as a consequence of this is renewal of the idiotic 1994 Assault weapons ban – which was really a ban of scary looking weapons.

        But I am trying to get the purported moderates here to think about the actual consequences of things.

        That people can seriously consider this kind of stuff is beyond me.

        While the results where we have actually tried this were worse than even I had anticipated, still the consequences of guards at all schools should be obvious to most of us. Our children are not going to feel safer – they are going to feel like they are in danger or in prison.

        Such a wonderful way to grow up.

      • Ron P permalink
        December 24, 2012 1:03 pm

        “But I am trying to get the purported moderates here to think about the actual consequences of things.”

        The biggest problem in America today is the large number of “moderates” that exist and that is all they do. The extreme on both sides are very vocal and get what they want in many instances, while the moderates complain to themselves or to friends, but little else.

    • Ron P permalink
      December 23, 2012 1:32 pm

      Maybe if the police issued a citation to the parents at the same time they issued a citation to the child, then the childs behavior would change!!!!! Schools have little authority to issue disciplinary actions against kids these days, so they hire police to do what police can legally do. If they do take disciplinary action they risk some legal action being taken against them, so making the parents a co-conspirator in the misbehavior of the kids might cause parents to bring discipline into their kids lives and might reduce the number of citations the officers have to write up.

      • December 24, 2012 1:28 am

        You seem to be missing the point. The addition of pseudo police to the schools made things worse not better. It turned ordinary small discipline problems into crimes.

        Schools have a great deal of disciplinary power today. They do not need to hire police. When was the last time you heard of a successful lawsuit against a school district over its treatment of children ?

        From the instant your child leaves your front door in the morning until the enter it again in the evening, your childs school has absolute power and authority over them. The very best a parent can do is remove their children from the public school district – and often even that is not possible.

        I honestly hope that no parent here ever has to discover how great the power their local school has over their child, and how little is their own.

        In the instances cited, officers did not HAVE to write up any citations – and should not have done so for any but actually serious offenses.

      • Ron P permalink
        December 24, 2012 1:06 pm

        And I guess thats why we hear so many stories about the great discipline in schools today.

        Damn, and I paid for three kids to go to private school and all this time discipline was existing in the public schools all along. Someone sure lied to me!

      • December 24, 2012 1:21 pm

        A friend of mine home school his three kids (his wife has a PhD in Exercise Phys). I can tell you these three kids are poster children for staying out of public schools.

      • Ron P permalink
        December 24, 2012 1:26 pm

        I was told that sending my kids to private school was not good for them because it “sheltered” them from things in real life, like contact with drugs, alcohol, etc. ” They needed to come in contact with that stuff to learn how to deal with it”.

        What it did do was give me the ability to control somewhat their contact with those that had discipline issues in public schools and mine grew up about like those you mention.

      • December 24, 2012 3:38 pm

        My son went to public school but not before we moved to the town with the best SAT scores in the state.

  32. December 23, 2012 1:26 pm

    BTW-you are NOT allowed to point out that non-whites are responsible for the preponderance of violence in the US. Nor, can you point out the rates for Aids domestic violence, illegitimacy, etc. . These facts are inconvenient and make people uneasy. You will be called a racist and will be worse than Hitler.

    Moreover, you must know that they only reason these statistics skew that way is due to the legacy of slavery and the fact that police just naturally arrest people of color more than white folks. Its all society’s fault (read you and I) and no one is to blame but the rest of us!

    Dave, you need to get with the program and stop publishing these lies!

    • December 24, 2012 1:37 am

      In the specific instance cited I do not know why the data points clearly towards a politically incorrect conclusion. I would be happy to explore that more deeply.

      HOWEVER, you can completely ignore the “racist” implications, and still reach a conclusion that for demographically comparable populations the US is the same or less violent than all those other developed nations that purportedly are more civilized than we are.

      BTW you can do much the same thing with myriads of other similar statistics.
      i.e. The US counts as a live birth premature births far younger than Europe – that alone raises out life expectancy to their level.
      Further like it or not life expectancy varies by race. Comparing the same demographics US life expediencies are greater than those of Europe.

      Statistical data can be incredibly important, but it is also important to be comparing apples to apples. It is important to know that there are not false assumptions hiding in your data.

      • December 24, 2012 9:34 am

        Dave,

        It is called sarcasm. You know, this is why we libertarians get a bad rap. You can be outright annoying at times. Give it a rest!

  33. December 23, 2012 1:29 pm

    What about wireless cameras and silent alarms. These ought to be doable?

    • December 24, 2012 1:44 am

      Somebody has to monitor a camera.

      There are also complex issues with cameras.
      At a different time, I was strongly opposed to our growing surveilance state – and I admit to still being incredibly uncomfortable with it. But real world experience – including personal experience is leading me to believe that increased public surveilance – whether governmental, or private as in cell phones, has ultimately proven to be a public good.
      Every police officer should be recorded – both audio and video throughout their job. This leads to convictions of the guilty, aquitals of the innocent, and improvement in the quality of police officers. Street corner cameras have aquited more defendants in my town than they have convicted. I have personally had an officer who was sure I had run a red light withdraw a citation when he called up the intersection camera.

      I have no problem with alarms.

  34. December 23, 2012 2:57 pm

    The web site Defense distributed is in the process of creating opensource plans and instructions to allow making your own AR-15 using readily available and decreasing in price 3D printers.

    It is already possible to produce completely plastic untraceable handguns capable of firing 200 rounds without failure.

    http://defensedistributed.com/

    Banning, censoring, etc. do not work.

  35. Pat Riot permalink
    December 23, 2012 3:01 pm

    How about kids run around outside playing games with their friends until they are just about exhausted, weeknights after school, weekends, and much of the summer, instead of sitting in a basement with video games, violent or not. (?)

    No, that’s not a cure-all, but, in conjunction with a bunch of other healthy things, it’ll help reduce the number of crappy kids, monsters, and monsters-in-training.

    If you yourself played a lot with friends growing up, and you remember some of those pivitol life lessons your received, like when you were in a mood, say being a crappy, pain-in-the-ass, and life straightened you out via parents or friends, then you don’t need statistics to prove how important those brushes with reality were. You can’t get that from virtual reality.

    Just a part of the complex puzzle that has become our modern reality.

    • December 23, 2012 3:24 pm

      My son was not allowed to have video games. He bitched, he moaned, but no cigar. I think he was far better off by my having been an a**hole dad.

    • December 24, 2012 1:45 am

      Pat;

      Behind you 100% – but whose job is it to alter the behavior of our kids – the state or their parents ?

    • TNSGWazzoo permalink
      December 24, 2012 9:46 am

      Pat, your idea on cops moving their beats closer to the schools or right onto school grounds may cost nothing, requires no new laws, is non polarizing, and has most probably already happened.

      It would be good if the officers would sometimes walk their new school beats, otherwise the absence of a cruiser in the parking lot may be a green light to someone. In rural areas its harder or almost impossible to do this, but in more populated areas its a terrific idea. It needs more publicity to have its full deterrent effect, but since it is not polarizing the press may pay little attention unless we focus them or write letters.

      I’m still for the more polarizing idea of allowing trained teachers to have access to arms in school on the condition that they are kept in a safe and only ever to be used in the case of a shooter on the premises. Teachers pulling out a weapon every time they feel threatened would be a disaster and one serious screw up would likely put an end to the whole idea in many places.

      Ron P continues to pitch a balanced and pretty complete response, he has got it right, I hope we get it right as a country.

      Merry Christmas, I guess.

      • December 24, 2012 6:29 pm

        If cops move their beats closer to schools they have moved them away from something that up to this moment we thought was important.

        If cops walk through schools they are not walking somewhere else.

        Even letting teachers have guns in school pretty much guarantees you WILL get more teachers shooting students, or more students breaking into teachers desks for guns and shooting somebody.

        There is little that you can do to lower the risk of one problem that does nto increase the risk of others.

        You keep fixating on balance as if it means something.

        Is the right “balance” 13 dead from teachers shooting students each year, and 13 dead from mass killings ?

        While I personally believe that allowing armed teachers is the “best” choice. Even it is likely to produce a net INCREASE in the number of dead – but a decrease in the number of mass killings.

        Regardless it is actually extremely hard to reduce something that is incredibly rare. And because it is extremely rare, the “balancing” that happens even if you find an effective means to reducing mass killings may still be an increase in total deaths.

        I am not trying to be facetious. I am trying to get all of you to think about even the possibility that whatever your favorite solution to whatever problem you wish to solve, may well have unintended consequences – even if you get the results you want.

        It does not matter whether we are talking about mass killings or government jobs programs. even if you “solve” the problem you almost certainly create others.

  36. Pat Riot permalink
    December 23, 2012 6:33 pm

    A holiday season toast to a**hole dads and moms everywhere! They make their kids pick up after themselves, make their kids knock on doors to apologize for rude behavior, turn off the TV once in awhile, and say things like “look at me when I’m talking to you…”

    Of course, parenting is a balancing act of…MODERATION! Too strict all the time and the kids rebel to the opposite side of the pendulum, Too loose and they run amuck…

    Is there such a thing as parenting “due diligence”? It ain’t easy!!

    • December 23, 2012 6:39 pm

      Not an easy job at all and so, we should acknowledge those who try to do it right, whatever that may mean.

      Merry Christmas all!

  37. December 23, 2012 7:50 pm

    Great column today by Ross Douthat:

    “Unfortunately for our country, the Bloomberg versus LaPierre contrast is basically all of American politics today. Our society is divided between an ascendant center-left that’s far too confident in its own rigor and righteousness and a conservatism that’s marched into an ideological cul-de-sac and is currently battering its head against the wall.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/23/opinion/sunday/douthat-bloomberg-lapierre-and-the-void.html?smid=tw-share&_r=1&

    • December 24, 2012 2:00 am

      I thought LaPierre and Sen. Boxer were on the same side ?

      Despite this election, despite Sandy Hook, the center left is not ascendant. If anything I think we are at the high water mark of progressivism. There is no where to go forward.
      Democrats should be terrified by this last election. Facing a lackluster candidate that they spent nearly a billion dollars misrepresenting, with a media atleast twice as fawning and complicit as normal, with the largest percentage of the population on the dole ever, with the strongest minority support they are ever likely to get, Barack Obama squeeked by.

      Our future is the failure of medicare, the failure of PPACA, the failure of social security.
      All too soon we will see seniors pitted against the poor in the battle for entitlements.
      This is what liberalism has brought us too.
      The president is demanding higher taxes on the rich as the solution to all our problems, yet recent government figures show that Obama’s plan will yeild $23B/year in increased revenue, and Boehner’s plan B would have yeilded $22B. Yet the total cost of all the middle class tax cuts about to expire is $500B/year.

      We have a spending problem not a revenue problem, and regardless higher taxes on the rich are not going to pay the interest on this years new debt.

      It is not free markets that are failing, it is big government.

      I think it is a foregone conclusion that the left is doomed. The open question is whether the vaccuum will be filled by the more libertarian friendly Tea Party or resurgent neo-cons, and social conservatives.

      • December 24, 2012 9:38 am

        I would agree with you that the Dems don’t know what is about to hit them. When this economy comes a crashing, it will be on them. Of course, never underestimate the pols and media’s ability to spin this some other way. As for Obama, he will be retired in Hawaii, planning his library.

      • Pat Riot permalink
        December 24, 2012 6:41 pm

        Some good sentences above, Dave. (“Facing a lackluster…billion dollars misrepresenting…Obama squeeked by”). Not bad for a guy who grew up on lettuce! I shouldn’t be encouraging you.

  38. December 24, 2012 2:15 am

    as part of holidays buying I was at Target – where I found nearly the same corksrew I had bought several years ago for my father at a cost of over $100 then for $9.95, and better made. Through out the store I noticed numerous products that were high end good – if available at all a decade ago, being sold as cheap commodities.
    At Walmart I bought my kids earphones – 4 total for just a bit over $10. My first earphones cost $100, were bulky required adapters costing more than todays, and sounded pretty crappy comparatively. I have a server that I use for my home, that has less resources and power than any of the cell phones I saw on sale.

    I bought each of my kids a $25 gift card from McDonalds – and each came with something like $30 of coupons.

    At the grocery store I bought a big bag of some kind of exotic nuts. There was a whole section full of different kinds of nuts. When I was young you could have peanuts, almonds and cashews were luxuries, now there are nuts I have never heard of for a few cents more than peanuts.

    My wife buys things in the fruit and vegetable section with names I never heard of – as a child we had lettuce.

    And on and on and on.

    Life is just so much worse than when i was younger. These pesky choices, someone should take them all away. After all don’t we all have the same wants and needs ?
    If a single type of health insurance is good enough for all of us why should we have choices in nuts, or chocolate, or lettuce or …. ?

    • Pat Riot permalink
      December 24, 2012 6:50 pm

      Asmith, what are all those store choices really indicating? I think it’s more of an illusion of “prosperity” when, to an extent, it’s a handful of owners fillingn the shelves with goods from overseas and Americans are spending funny money that the Fed is printing.

      • December 24, 2012 11:46 pm

        I am not specifically addressing the relative prosperity of 2012 vs. 2007, but of today vs. a decade or two ago.

        The situation with the Fed is incredibly complex.
        For the most part the Fed’s funny money has not actually gotten into the system. The Fed’s balance sheet is enormous but velocity is still way down. The net real money supply is reduced not inflated.
        But the money the Fed has pumped into the system probably can not easily be removed. Should a real recovery start it is unlikely the Fed can thread the needle between inflation and killing the recovery.

        Regardless we are not currently spending Fed Funny money.

        Sure we are buying good from overseas, but we are also selling them.
        We are buying items that would cost 3-4 or more times as much if produced here. We are selling high value goods and services no one else is really producing.

        There are very few economists that will claim that trade is net bad. Even bad trade is net good.

        There are also technical issues. We miscalculate the trade deficit.
        As an example if Apple pays Foxconn $50 for an iPhone, but Apple sells it in the US for $500, The trade deficit reflects the $500 value of the iphone, not the $50 that actually left the country.

        The other issue is lets say we have a trade deficit of $1T – all too china.
        What can China do with that $1T ? While China can use it to buy goods from India, and India from …. and so forth. Ultimately, that $1T leaving the country must return somehow, and there are only two ways.
        Foreign nations can use their surplus US dollars to buy US goods and services, or they can use them to invest in our country.
        Both of which are good for us.

        Getting more and/or better goods for less money is ALWAYS good, even if you buy them from a foreign country.

        This is actually a part of my constant refrain that “Money is not wealth”
        It is also a meme that dates back to the real Adam Smith.

        for several centuries Spain ruled the world. It imported gold from all over the world, and yet became poorer and poorer the more gold it aquired.
        During the same time England because the primary trading nation of the world and developed from essentially a third rate backwater to the worlds sole superpower.

        MONEY IS NOT WEALTH,

      • Ron P permalink
        December 25, 2012 12:34 am

        “Foreign nations can use their surplus US dollars to buy US goods and services, or they can use them to invest in our country”

        Investing in our country can be of different methods. Building infrastructure, building businese or buying US debt. Right now seems like much of the investment is debt which does not seem to be too good to me.

        I have finally decided that we need to go over the fiscal cliff and I am writing my legislators to that fact. (Lot of good it will do but makes me feel better to blow off steam). If we go over now, the impact on the economy is now or in the short term future. We caused the debt, we caused the spending and we caused the reduction in tax revenues. No matter what we do under any circumstance proposed by either party, we still increase the debt to unsustainable levels. Why should we avoid the pain now and let the next generation shoulder the fiscal crisis.

        We caused it, we should feel the pain and fiscal crisis, not our kids and grandkids when they get older! A fix will never happen by legisltative action unless a fiscal crisis occurs, so it needs to occur now, not later.

      • December 25, 2012 9:07 am

        Agreed. Well put!

      • December 25, 2012 2:25 pm

        Fascinating stats in this report. Gun ownership in the US way up over the past 30 yrs,. Murder rates with guns, way down. Imagine if the urban gun issue had been contained. This report kind of guts the gun control advocates arguments nicely.

        http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL32842.pdf

      • December 25, 2012 9:05 am

        The Fed’s unwinding (if it ever comes) will be a doozy. Of course, Uncle Ben will be long gone, back at Princeton, re-writing his sorry ass history as Fed Chair.

        There is no justice in this world, at least as it pertains to pols and idiot savants.

    • December 27, 2012 6:32 pm

      You are quite lucky. Nowadays I tend to find at least certain items are not better made than in the past- can openers certainly. And when something does go wrong nowadays, it’s harder to fix- or at least cheaper to throw the old away and buy a new one.

  39. TNSGWazzoo permalink
    December 24, 2012 10:01 am

    Among the options that could be at school disposal, why not have non lethal ones, tear gas canisters. I’ve been tear gassed, it puts a damper on you and may signal a shooter that the marines have landed its time to turn the gun on himself.

    Just a nice holiday afterthought.

  40. Pat Riot permalink
    December 24, 2012 7:10 pm

    Ian, tear gas–such a heartwarming holiday thought, haha. Actually, “non-lethal options” is very good brainstorming.

    I’m thinking of making school hallways like a mine field: the students and teachers would know the secret path for walking, (how fun would that be!) but uninvited guests would get a rude welcome stepping in the WRONG places, but it would just be pies in the face, water guns, and mild tear gas (not full strength, we’re not barbarians), or like those Japanese obstacle courses–a big cushion knocks the perp onto a velcro wall until the police can arrive…. We could set up cameras in all hallways…MTV would fund it!

    Anyway, I was serious that non-lethal aspects deserve some consideration, but then the Holiday cheer kicked in. No disrespect intended.

  41. December 25, 2012 9:12 am

    Back to the topic at hand, gun violence. Here is one killing that could have been avoided. This low life murdered two firefighters who he lured to their deaths by setting a fire to his house and they shooting them sniper style.

    So, what do we know about this guy:

    “According to police officials, Spangler has a lengthy criminal record, including a manslaughter conviction for murdering his own grandmother, Rose Spangler, when he bludgeoned her to death with a hammer in 1980. Spangler Served 17 years in prison for the his crime.”

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/12/25/fire-trap-gunman-dead-after-killing-2-firefighters-at-scene-western-ny-blaze/#ixzz2G4KNyflM

    My question is: why was this assclown not exectuved back on 1980? Why did we pay room and board for 17 years, then let him out so that he could murder again? How does this make sense? Would you like to explain to the two new widows why Spanger was allowed to live and kill again?

    • December 25, 2012 7:45 pm

      Because executing people is difficult and expensive.

      There is a reason that it is impossible to shutdown appeals, because no one, not even the most pro law and order DA’s and judges wants to be the last person to sing off on an execution.

      Read john Grishom’s “an innocent man”, it is easy to get convictions, even get a jury to chose to execute someone. But executing people is quite hard on our system.

      I am personally generally opposed to the death penalty, but there are crimes and criminals so heinous that death seems the only reasonable punishment.

      But even from a purely practical perspective, the death penalty does not make much sense. It is not much of a deterent – it has even been know to attract killers to a state,
      it is expensive, and requires a completely segregated justice and penal system that wearsdown everyone who is part of it.

      The death penalty has also been extremely destructive legally. All our fruitless statutory efforts to ensure that people actually get executed have errorded the rights of the rest of us. Its effect on constitutional rights has been much like the war on drugs.

      .

      • December 25, 2012 9:33 pm

        Dave,

        We will disagree on this. The DP does not NEED to be expensive and it did not used to be that way. I could even argue that it is far more humane that alternatives. That said, I won’t bother arguing with you. As far as I can see, you have never budged on any position that you initially take here. You might want to look at that.

      • December 26, 2012 12:04 am

        Jbastiat;

        I do not think you understand.
        It does need to be expensive and difficult – even if you support it.
        Further, it is expensive and difficult, because even the strong advocates such as yourself, start to make excuses and pear much more carefully once they are the last impediments to an execution.

        One of the things you miss is that most people in this country are convicted on poor evidence. That does not make them innocent, but the Perry Mason “reasonable doubt” standard went out the window long ago.

        You can personally believe strongly in the death penalty, But wait until you are the judge reading the briefs and transcripts and going – alright I believe this guy did it, but I am not ready to bet my humanity or my soul that he did.

        There are numerous dirty secrets to death penalty cases.

        They have destroyed our criminal justice system – because they are the one place where even conservative justices start to question the police, prosecution, juries, and start to demand real certainty before they are willing to execute someone.
        Because of this natural human reticence legislators and higher courts have eviscerated the constitution.
        It would be hard to execute almost anyone otherwise.

        For every year for more than a century during which we have executed someone, there has been at least one instance in which we have executed a person who was later proven innocent.

        Some of us still believe it is better for 10 guilty men to be set free than to imprison one innocent percent, but today we err on the side of conviction. If that is tolerable at all it is only tolerable in a world where we are not executing the innocent.

        You can feel differently, but the reality is that even among conservative, gung ho death penalty advocates, stalling death penalty cases is the norm.

        The death penalty does not work because most of us require a level of certainty to execute someone that the courts rarely can reach.

      • December 26, 2012 10:34 am

        I never suggested that every murderer be executed. However, there are PLENTY of cases where there is NO doubt and where the murderer confesses and agrees with the prosecution. In these cases, we can dispense with the nonsense of holding one in a pen for 40 yrs. Is that humane? Is it humane to the victims families? To me, it is not.

        This ass clown Hassan. Does anyone think he is innocent? The guy Holmes in the theater shooting, do you doubt his guilt?

        Off with their heads. Frankly, it would send a message loud and clear and I like that.

  42. December 25, 2012 11:53 am

    As usual, Dr. Sowell knocks it out of the park on gun control. A sample:

    “Neither guns nor gun control was the reason for the difference in murder rates. People were the difference.

    Yet many of the most zealous advocates of gun control laws, on both sides of the Atlantic, have also been advocates of leniency toward criminals.”

    http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2012/12/18/invincible-ignorance-n1468784

  43. Pat Riot permalink
    December 25, 2012 11:56 am

    I see two main, stupid reasons why people are against the death penalty: They are focused on the wrong people, i.e. they are focused on beng “humane” or “civil” or “high-minded” or “not a barbarian” to the perpetrator instead of protecting future victims, and the 2nd reason is they are “squeamish” (uncomfortable) and “insulated” from blood & death–they eat chicken sandwiches but have NEVER killed a chicken, eat red meat but have NEVER killed an animal, etc., and so they recoil from the concept of killing, even when it’s the best choice.

    I think the hardcore repeat violent offenders in prison should link hands so we can electrocute them at the same time and save time and energy. .

    .

    • December 25, 2012 12:00 pm

      One way to insure that scum like this guy I cited cannot create any more widows is the DP. I say, bring it on and let’s not make it take 10 yrs to execute. If it was good enough for Tim McVeigh, well, you get the picture.

    • Ron P permalink
      December 25, 2012 1:02 pm

      There is one more reason why people do not like the death penalty and is why I have made my change from supporter to not supporting. That is the number of individuals cleared of crimes after 20-25 years in prison and then some piece of evidence finds that they are not guilty of the crime. We have had 3+ high profile cases in NC where individuals have been cleared of murder charges 20+ years after being convicted. It took them 10+ years to get the courts to even consider the new evidence and once allowed into the case, the judges vacated the charges and the individuals awarded monitary damages for the years in prison. Had they been given the death penalty as all were tried and the death penalty given, they might be cleared of the crime but also dead.

      • December 25, 2012 2:04 pm

        No system is perfect. That said, it is fairly easy to reduce the chance of error to a minimal number. Again, would you like to explain to these two widows why it is OK that this murderer was allowed to go free and kill their husbands?

      • Ron P permalink
        December 25, 2012 6:04 pm

        Sorry, must have missed a link in this string of comments. However, if I understand your point, someone who had been convicted of murder was allowed to go free after some period in jail.

        So there is a moderate position between this issue and your point about the death penalty. That is, anyone convicted of murder is locked up for the rest of their lives. No chance of parole, just locked up, period. No distinguishing between 1st degreee or second degree. If you murder someone and convicted, off to the prison for forever! No legal loopholes and if one is founjd, then close it so no one can use it again.

        Now we can get into the cost of housing prisoners, etc, but in my mind, executing a person that is later found to be not guilty is worth that cost of not executing anyone.

        And I might also add that I had a hard time reconciling my position that abortion was murder and taking a life, but the death penalty was not. That also weighed into my position that the death penalty should be taken away.

      • December 25, 2012 6:47 pm

        I will disagree with you here. Keeping Tim McVeigh in prison for the rest of his sorry ass life is not a deal, at least not for me. Why are we keeping Ted Kayzinski alive? To what end, so that we feel better about ourselves? Those resources could be used to save lives, not feed and house this murdering turd. Ramzi Youseff being housed and feed? I don’t see why.

        Moreover, there is no correspondence between abortion and the DP. The fetus/baby to be is innocent, the murderer has surrendered his/her right to life, at least to me they have.

    • December 25, 2012 6:51 pm

      I like your style Pat. Will you be running for office soon?

      Hope so.

    • December 26, 2012 2:00 am

      Again, all sounds good but in practice things go awry.

      Nature is not kind, it offers and owes us nothing. I have no illusions about the ability of some of us to be inhuman to others.

      But the bar allowing the state to execute another person needs to be very high.
      And if we actually make it that high, Those few people who have indisputably committed crimes heinous enough to warrant death are sufficiently rare as to make the need for the death penalty questionable.

      Ted Kayzinski is nuts – do we execute people who are seriously mentally disturbed ?
      I have no problem with imprisoning him forever, but I have problems with executing kids, the mentally retarded and the mentally ill.

      • December 26, 2012 10:40 am

        Yes, I have no problem with executing a person who is criminally insane. Ted K would be my first execution, followed by Mr Holmes. You of all people should recognize what a subjective assessment the term “insane” really is. There are very few things less laughable than the opinion of a psychiatrist.

        Is Hassan insane because he believes that he is going to heaven to meet 77 virgins? In actuality, I don’t care. Let’s get him on his way as quickly as possible.

  44. Pat Riot permalink
    December 25, 2012 9:02 pm

    Wrongful convictions ARE horrific., tragic. We should be able to reduce wrongful convictions to almost nil. It’s been a conflict of interest to have forensic evidence labs under the jurisdiction of law enforcement. That’s in the process of being changed I believe. Forensics should be by independent labs, and a few of them to corroborate evidence.

    What about the cases in which there’s no doubt of guilt, such as when the murderous fiend is caught clearly on video tape killing innocents AND there’s a roomfull of witnesses AND the murderous fiend freely admits his guilt etc? There are SOME cases in which there’s no doubt. Can we get rid of the future danger then? Can we focus on being humane to remaining innocents and get rid of the subhuman?

    • December 25, 2012 9:35 pm

      I would hope so. There are plenty of cases were this IS no doubt about the killer’s misdeeds.

      In those cases, I say: “Off with his/her head.”

    • December 26, 2012 1:23 am

      Spend some time in a courthouse. Even when the defendants really truly are total scum and must be guilty the evidence pretty much never rises to the standards you think is so easily obtained.

      The state of forensics today sucks – even if the labs were independent. We are used to CSI, but in the real world, many items of forensics that we take for granted are dubious.
      There is a damning report on ballistic comparisons, bite marks, fingerprints, and even DNA is weaker than is typically portrayed. All are “circumstantial”evidence. It is possible to make a solid case that way, but it is also important to grasp whether circumstantial evidence is being used in parallel which strengthens it or serially which significantly weakens it.

      Eyewitness identifications of unknown persons are pretty close to crap.

      Nearly every person exhonerated over the past several decades confessed, some under circumstances that are NOT questionable.

      If you actually improve the actual standards used in our courts you will be unable to convict almost anyone.

      Yes there are a few instances where there is really no credible doubt, and where the crime is heinous enough to warrant the death penalty, but these are incredibly rare.

      In the meantime so long as a conviction has even a small amount of doubt, it will be hard to get even some of the most conservative Judges and DA’s to actually push hard for execution.

      Would you really want it any other way ? Do you really want Judges or District Attorneys that do not questions themselves, juries, etc. ever, not even a little ?

      • December 26, 2012 10:35 am

        Dave, you are really kind of stuck. You need to perhaps take a breather and move away from the computer.

  45. December 26, 2012 1:39 am

    Pat & JBastiat;

    I would ask you what are the circumstances where the death penalty is justified ?

    Emmette Dalton, was a lawman before becoming a Bank robber, killed numerous people during his spree as a bank robber, including 6 in the bank robbery that ended his career.
    He was shot 23 times, sentenced to life in prison, paroled after 14 years, and subsequently lived a productive and useful life.

    Today it takes far less to get a death sentence.

    So what crimes require the death penalty ?

    We have redefined premeditation as being even a few seconds forethought.
    Crimes of passion can be extremely violent.

    It is reasonably well understood in the criminal justice system that most murderers are highly unlikely to kill again. The conditions provoking most murders tend to be rare and unique.

    Do we execute the mentally retarded ? The actually mentally ill ? children ?

    My guess is that after you have eliminated all the cases where the evidence is just not strong enough, and all cases where the crime is just not heinous enough, and …

    You will have little left.

    We still do not know for certain who the Boston Strangler really was.

    There are a few crimes I would have little objection the the death penalty, but not many, and not your ordinary everyday murders. After you eliminate all crimes insufficiently heinous, and all cases where proof is not good enough, there are so few left, it is not really worth death advocates getting their dander up over.

    • December 26, 2012 10:36 am

      Dave,

      Is there a subject that you are NOT an expert in?

      • December 26, 2012 6:59 pm

        On any subject narrow enough, anyone with a modicum of intelligence can know as much as the experts in half an hour on the internet.

        I am an intelligent person with a passion for knowledge. I am old enough to have explored lots of subjects at one time or another.

        Further my life has provided me with exposure often deep to numerous subjects.

        I am very knowledgeable on constitutions lawsuits too – knowledge I wish I never had to acquire.

        Regardless, it does not matter whether I am an expert or not, only whether my arguments are valid.

      • December 27, 2012 5:41 pm

        Arrogance is one of the seven deadly sins. Beware!

  46. Pat Riot permalink
    December 26, 2012 12:52 pm

    Asmith, it’s not too difficult to separate cases of passionate flare-ups and extenuating circumstances from the cases involving human-type creatures with a long history of remorseless violence.

    When a scorpion falls into a baby’s crib, a parent kills the scorpion, quickly. The parent doesn’t pet the scorpion and hope it chooses a nicer path.

    humans without a developed conscience are much more dangerous than scorpions, bears, tigers, and this world’s other threats to life.

    The choice is between innocents trying to live a productive life and the human-like creatures undermining our existence. Shooting a rabid dog doesn’t make a policemen a barbarian. It makes him a man doing the right thing.

    Imagine a family keeping and feeding rabid dogs in their basement because they are too weak to do the right thing. it’s worse than a waste of resources.

    • December 26, 2012 12:57 pm

      Amen! If government professes to protect life, then it has an obligation to do so. If someone murdered my wife for no good reason, I damn sure would want this vermin eliminated, and not be taxed to keep the lowlife in jail for 40 years. Think of the wasted resources.

      If government fails to act …..

    • December 26, 2012 6:32 pm

      If you believe separating the cases the demand the death penalty from those that do not, again you have not really seen much of our criminal justice system.

    • December 26, 2012 6:47 pm

      Inside our system it is the norm to overcharge.

      This gives prosecutors room to plea bargain down to something closer to what the person is actually guilty of

      There are really good reasons why this is a bad idea, but they have nothing to do with the Death penalty. However charging someone with a capitol offense in order to push them to plea bargain to something lessor does relate.

      In my particular county we have not tried convicted and sentenced anyone to death in a long time – probably more than a decade. Yet more than 1/2 of all murder charges in my county include the death penalty.

      Virtually all those crimes of passion that are apparently so easy to separate from perpetrators engaged in remorseless violence.

      I have been joking for years that we keep escalating everything to a capitol offense – but the joke does have an edge of truth to it.

      The norm in my county – and I suspect most other places, is that few criminal cases actually go to trial. A local judge calls a trial a “slow guilty plea”.

      This works well for real life time criminals – they know that once arrested they are engaged in a game of “lets make a deal”, and this approach serves them well, they either get the best deal they can by whatever means possible.

      But it works abysmally for both the innocent and even those guilty that are not “life time criminals” – basically anyone without the skills to work the system.

      People are routinely exhonerated who have confessed – even plead guilty, though it si very hard to reverse a guilty plea even with absolute proof of innocence.

      Regardless, the plea bargain game works for those we need protected from the most and against those we need protected from the least.

    • December 26, 2012 7:08 pm

      Sociopath’s are the generally acknowledged epitome of “remorseless violence”
      Yet even the acknowledged expert with criminal sociopaths openly admits to being constantly duped by them.

      It is irrelevant whether the subject is criminals or jobs, it is NOT all that easy to disern the right choices in the real world, it is not easy (or possible) to find workable one size fits all solutions.

      There are some areas that ARE the legitimate realm of government – and protecting and punishing criminals is one of those.

      But even where government has an essential role, that does not make all the problems with top down solutions miraculously go away.

      It is often HARD to tell the guilty from the innocent, the redeemable from the irredeemable.
      Who will be dangerous for as long as they live from who will be the next Paul on the road from Damascus.

      • December 27, 2012 1:42 am

        The truths you state refer to a trial system that has become perverted over the years to suit the needs of lawyers more than justice. Acquit ten guilty to save one innocent is a fallacious concept that assures nothing other than an extremely inefficient and corrupted process that costs taxpayers a fortune. It stands to reason that if your entire process is corrupted, you can’t offer up appropriate punishments. That said, the DP is obviously the appropriate fate for many that are unquestionably guilty of egregious crimes–just the type that can be labeled the work of a mad man, and excused for reasons of insanity. My point–a swift and just punishment is virtually impossible, now. Lawyers are in charge of a system that suits THEIR needs. The answer is beyond my imagination.

      • December 27, 2012 5:42 pm

        Do you notice a pattern here with Davfe? Beating us into submission as a strategy?>

  47. Pat Riot permalink
    December 26, 2012 2:05 pm

    Amen! Amen! Unfortunately, incarceration in America is big business, one of the many Potterville industries sucking the life out of what’s left of Bedford Falls.

    • December 26, 2012 4:35 pm

      Interesting to follow the DP debate on this blog. The same arguments have been debated ad infinitum for decades. DP opponent have so mucked up the system in Calif, that $ six billion has been spent in the last two decades, and zero executions have occurred since 1996. Meanwhile, nearly 80 inmates are being housed on death row, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of $. They are more likely to die of old age or suicide than execution. The “mental state” argument advanced by Asmith is specious, at best. I would suggest that virtually everyone that commits murder or a crime of passion is at least temporarily insane. The argument can generate years of delay, and thousands of billable hours for consultants and attorneys, but is ultimately irrelevant to the victim(s) and their loved ones, and should be to the state, as well. It is the ultimate “free pass”, and in a better world, that genie would be stuffed back in the bottle.

      • December 26, 2012 7:42 pm

        RP;

        i am not talking about “crimes of passion” – which in my view do not justify the death penalty. I am talking about serious whack jobs like Kazinsky.

        Clearly, he is dangerous. Absent some radical advance in psychology he will remain dangerous until he dies.

        At the same time, we are not talking about someone normal. We are talking about someone clearly mentally ill.

        The death penalty debate is not about letting people off. It is about imprisoning them for life or killing them.

        I think our criminal justice system is seriously fouled up.
        I think we have surrendered the better part of the bill of rights.

        I favor serious punishment – including life without parole for violent offenses.

  48. December 26, 2012 4:36 pm

    Sorry– I meant to type zero executions since 2006.

    • December 26, 2012 7:52 pm

      Take the inmates off Death row. It is far cheaper.

      Federal records indicate that cases involving the death penalty are a minimum of $350K (and more like $1M) more expensive to prosecute – that is just for the prosecutors side of the trial that does not include appeals – many of which are mandatory for death penalty cases, nor does it cover the additional cost for defense which is nearly always also covered by the government. It does not cover the enormous damage done to our judiciary system as it tears itself apart trying to overcome the natural inclinations of even conservative jurists to avoid signing death warrants and to give real consideration as to whether the trial was fair enough to execute someone. Nor does it address the fact that imprisonment on death row is far more expensive than in the rest o the prison system, and destructive not only of the inmates, but the guards.

      Charles Manson now 77 avoided the death penalty, is actually parole-able
      Do you honestly think anyone is letting him out ?

      • December 27, 2012 5:44 pm

        Dave,

        I will agree to anything you say, as long as you stop saying it.

      • December 28, 2012 1:59 pm

        JBastiat;

        If you do not agree I want you to argue the point

        The route to the answer is to test the argument.

      • December 28, 2012 6:06 pm

        Arguing with you is like playing tennis with a wall. You do not yield, you do not consider, You just pontificate. Even when I agree wit you, you MUST have the last word. You might want to look at that. Inflexibility is a terrible character trait.

  49. Pat Riot permalink
    December 26, 2012 9:23 pm

    The American prison system being expensive is beside the point of what we SHOULD do with repeat violent offenders. The prison system SHOULDN’T be so expensive. It SHOULDN’t be more expensive for taxpayers for a dangerous animal to be on death row than in the “regular” prison system. It’s a #@@* & mess. That doesn’t change what we OUGHT to be doing.

    • December 28, 2012 1:56 pm

      Government is (and should be) an expensive way to accomplish things.
      Improving the efficiency of government increases its vulnerability to corruption and abuse.
      The Death Penalty should be expensive. We should explore every doubt before taking the ultimate irreversible action.

      Worse still in our efforts to force executions through we have sacrificed everyone’s rights.

      The most rights any of us can be certain of are the least rights that the worst of are have.

      What we OUGHT NOT do is waste enormous amounts of money over distinctions with little difference.

      Are we better off because we executed someone rather than imprisoned them for life ?

      I think the few instances where we might be are substantially outweighed by the numerous instances where we are not.

      I would be happy to trade the tiny possibility that Manson might get paroled when he is 96 for a significant reduction in the number of innocent people we execute, for some of my constitutional rights back, or even just because the amount we are spending to try and execute people is not worth whatever benefits their might be – without accounting for the harms.

      I do not think that you need to be a bleeding heart liberal to grasp that our efforts to execute people have proven net harmful.

      I would think that would be the “moderate” position.

  50. Pat Riot permalink
    December 28, 2012 11:54 pm

    huh?

  51. December 28, 2012 11:58 pm

    I can never get worked up over the death penalty. I am in favor of it – I think – but I am also easily persuaded by the arguments against it. Knowing when to impose the death penalty often seems to to me like the defining pornography…you know it when you see it. Charles Manson would have been an excellent candidate by that measure.

    • December 29, 2012 8:37 am

      Indeed. Again, there are those who act like the “cost/benefit” of the DP can be measured like a physics experiment. Alas, this cannot happen. I believe that society needs to make a bold statement when it comes to the ultimate violence of one person versus another.: enough! If you murder my wife, you will meet a similar fate and it will be swift and certain.

      In the cases we mentioned (Manson etc.) I see this as essential.

      • December 29, 2012 2:32 pm

        Are you asking for the Death Penalty in all instances of murder ?

        A life for a life ?

        Manson and a few others of his ilk are the easy cases.

        But if you limit the death penalty only to the tiny number of permanently dangerous vicious unrepentant killers that are not mentally retarded or seriously mentally ill, then why bother ?

        Why damage our system – and the legal battles driven by the death penalty just like those involving the war on Drugs have wreaked havoc on our legal system, our rights, just to execute a handful of people ?

        If you are going to broaden the scope of those you would execute, as you increase the numbers you raise more and more other issues.
        Certainty of guilt – we are far past the point where juries actually convict based on proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
        How certain of guilt should we be before we can execute someone ?
        Remembering we have already executed an awfully large number of innocent people.
        What about age – can we execute 17 year olds ? 16 ? 15 ?, ….
        What about the mentally handicapped ?
        What about seriously mentally ill ?

        I do not have an ideological opposition to the Death Penalty.
        I have no theoretical problem with executing the most heinous criminals.
        But there are alot of practical problems, and in the real world it does not seem to have worked so well. With few exceptions the most heinous avoid execution, and most of those actually executed do not on closer inspection look like those who really needed to be executed.

        The number of actually innocent we have executed is extremely disturbing, and the number we have narrowly avoided executing does not make that any better.

        If you can assure me that we are only going to execute the Mansons and their ilk, that we are never going to execute an innocent person, or someone seriously mentally deficient, that it is going to be done cost effectively, and that it is not going to cost all the rest of us our rights, I could get behind the Death Penalty.

        But you cant. It is just another appealing one size fits all solution to a truly complex problem that just does not work in the real world.

        And like all other similarly imposed statist solutions the unintended consequences are paid for by the rest of us.

      • December 29, 2012 4:39 pm

        I gave you two specific instances wherein I would ask for the DP.

        Respond to those please.

  52. Pat Riot permalink
    December 29, 2012 11:01 am

    Discussing the DP leads me to thoughts of what kinds of behavior will or will not be tolerated. My maternal grandmother’s house was neat and clean like a well-maintained museum. Everyone who went there just knew quickly, intuitively, that one didn’t put their feet up on the coffee table or eat in the living room or grab a cabinet door from anywhere but the handle. You ate at the table. You used the handles. Plenty of laughter and good food and warmth, but she knew how to take care of things. Even relatives from really messy houses knew how to behave there at Gram’s house. She just passed away yesterday at 92 which is why her and her well-maintained house is on my mind as an example of what will or won’t be tolerated.

    Everyone knows to whisper in Church. Loud talking in Church is swiftly met with eyes of disapproval. The message is “NOT HERE YOU DON’T.” The person can talk loudly elsewhere. The person can put their feet up on the coffee table in their own house.

    What is the message in Ameria about crime against other people? Is it clear? Is it understood? What forces/interests drove the setting of policy/laws? What will we tolerate in our country? How much does money drive the courts and the jails? How much does avoidance and squeamishness drive the penalties for violent behavior?

    • December 29, 2012 12:08 pm

      Real life scenario: Man with a gun breaks into the house of an affluent couple. The house looks deserted, like no one is at home (at night). The man quickly goes to the bedroom and startled, the lights go on and the women is upright in bed, looking astonished. She goes for the phone on the nightstand and panicking, the burglar shoots the woman to death.

      The husband comes in the bedroom from his bedroom and has a gun. Instead of shooting the bastard, he detains him for the police.

      Later, the DA bargains this down to manslaughter. After all, the burglar had no priors and he really didn’t MEAN to kill the woman, he thought no one was home.

      Now the judge gives the guy 15-20 yrs (after all, he just panicked and had no intent) and the guy does 8 yrs and is paroled. You know, we have a prison overcrowding situation and this guy was a “model prisoner” which means he did not annoy the guards much.

      How does the husband feel now about having not shot the killer of his wife. How do you feel about this?

      I can tell you this, given this object lesson that happens everyday, I would shoot the bastard to death every time. Does that make me a bad person?

      So be it.

      • Ron P permalink
        December 29, 2012 12:46 pm

        Another scenerio. Same man, but black, enters into same affluent home (owned by a city councilman). Black man did not know this was some “elite” influencial person. Same crime. Different sentence. DA throws the book at the perp. He gets 25 to life, with minimum 25 before eligible for parole.

        Fair?
        Double Standard?
        Was councilmans wife of more value than an average citizens wife?

        Maybe we need to look at our justice system in total before we begin picking and choosing what parts to fix.

        Could be the DA decides in both examples that both parties had reason to believe someone could be home and that is why they were carrying a gun to the larceny crime. In this instance, black man more likely to get 1st degree charge and DP than a white man doing the same.

        Nothing can be 100% fair, but taking the ability for DA’s to negotiate down crimes of this nature and making mandatory charges for like crimes a requirement could solve some of the issues we now have. I would solve the manslaughter issue you describe above. A good start was the 3 strikes and your out. Maybe we can expand on that one.

      • December 29, 2012 2:46 pm

        Each part of the country is different, but I can tell you where I live that if you broke into a home that even MIGHT be occupied with a gun – even if it was unloaded, you would probably spend 20 years in prision. If the gun was loaded it would be longer, if you used it longer still, if you killed someone you probably would serve life without possibility of parole.

        Those are the least consequences likely. Odds are you would be charged with a capitol offense, and plea bargained to life without parole.

        Further, rather than hypotheticals try real world cases.

        In the real world, the burglar gets away, and someone matching his description is picked up hours or days later – wearing different cloths swearing he is innocent. The Husband who has seen the perpetrator only once briefly in the dark during the crime, is shown hundred of photo’s of suspects by the police – but one photo seems to be common to every batch, and then there is a lineup – guess who the husband picks.
        The gun is never found. The alleged perpetrator is convicted as he has no alibi and the Husband identifies him.

        This is much closer to the real world.
        Are you prepared to execute this guy on the hope that you have the right person ?

      • December 29, 2012 4:40 pm

        I gave you a specific. Were you the husband who witnesses his wife’s execution, would want the same for the executioner? It is a simple question,

    • December 29, 2012 2:36 pm

      Each of us is free to set our own rules for our own homes.
      We are not free to dictate the rules everyone else must live by in their homes.

      America is not one home where we all share exactly the same values

      What your Grandmother did in her own home may have been admirable, but forced onto others it becomes evil.

      Wherever liberty as we understand it has been destroyed, this has almost always been done in the name of some new freedom promised to the people. Hayek.

  53. Pat Riot permalink
    December 29, 2012 12:50 pm

    jbastiat, helpful scenario. Examples and scenarios are helpful because the choices become less abstract and more practical. I hope I never have to point any of my guns at another human being, ever, but I’d shoot the bastard dead even if he didn’t shoot my wife because it only takes a few seconds for you or I to become a helpless victim. The lack of respect required to commit “breaking and entering” is not too far from from the lack of respect for innocent life. They’re in the same realm.

    It’s kind of funny defending points online a few paragraphs at a time because a line drawn in the sand can so easily be misinterpreted. I defend bottom-up government here because others here rail against government as only a necessary evil, and so I could come across as a pro-government “lefty” when I’m actually quite the Libertarian currently very wary of statist overreach. I take a stand on the right to use guns to defend oneself and I could easily be painted/imagined as a “right wing” moralist or gun nut or whatever, when actaully I’m a peaceful lover of civil society. This is why most politicians today don’t go out on a limb. They either say only the win-win stuff (“education is key to a bright future, blah blah) to be broadly popular or they become very partisan to at least be a champion of their party.

    It is an intersting time to be alive. How will we emerge from such confusion? Will we emerge? .

    • December 29, 2012 2:21 pm

      I hope we do. All this moral relativism is giving me the whillies.

      • December 29, 2012 3:56 pm

        There is a difference between moral comparisons, and moral relativism.

        The protracted torture and murder of an elderly couple, is not morally equivalent to killing a spouse in an argument. Or being the person who brought the gun to a knife fight.

        If you or someone you know is the victim, that crime is unbelievably heinous and requires the most severe punishment.

        But all crimes are not equal. All murders are not equal. All criminal deaths are not murder. and all killings are not crimes.

        I support long imprisonment for violent crimes. I am deeply disturbed that our current police system focuses on drug offenses and not violent crimes.
        Rape someone and you can get off if you have a drug dealer you can sell out. Burglarize a home, and it is the PCP in your pocket that will get you the most time.

        But I have also watched as every interest has struggled to make their favorite issue into a capitol offense.

        Shoplifting is a serious problem. but in my state it can be charged as a felony, and the third felony shoplifting conviction can result in a life sentence. Shop lifting is just not morally equivalent to rape, torture and murder – no matter how many times you shoplift.

        Contrary to assertions here the trends in our criminal justice system are to convict more easily on less and less evidence, for longer and longer sentences. Atleast in my area we are building new prisons, we are not letting violent criminals loose because of overcrowding, good behavior takes a year or two off of sentences of decades, not reduces them to a slap on the wrist. A twenty year sentence means 17-18 years in prison if you are a model prisoner. We are finding ways to keep people in prison after their sentences have run.
        As things progress eventually Jwalking will become a capitol offense.

      • December 29, 2012 4:44 pm

        If my wife is tortured and then killed, is she any less dead than if she is simply shot dead in her bed. How do you justify a differential penalty when the outcome was intentional death in both cases?

        Why would you want the killer to live? What purpose does it serve?

      • December 31, 2012 11:23 am

        JBastiat;

        Is outcome all that matters ? I thought you were more libertarian or atleast conservative ?

        The ends do not justify the means – because the morality of the means matters. That is true in public policy it is also true in murder.

        If your wife died in an automobile accident – she would still be dead. Must the other driver be executed ? Does it matter whose fault it was so long as death was the result ? Does intent or recklessness matter ?

        Do you really believe that it makes you difference whether someone is tortured before they are killed than simply executed ?

        If one person dies, must someone else always be executed ?

        Do you make no distinction between accident, negligence, loss of control, premeditation, and enjoyment with respect to killing ?

        What if your wife was tortured for hours, days, …. but lived ? Does that mean that the perpetrator should get off, if it does not matter whether one is tortured before being killed, then it does not matter whether one is tortured or not if they live ?

        What purpose does execution serve ?

      • December 31, 2012 11:30 am

        Dave,

        You speak nonsense and continue to avoid the specific cases I give you. Would you execute Col Hassan? If not, what would it take to convince you that someone should be executed? Should Tim McVeigh have been executed? If yes, how about Ted Bundy and Ted K.?

        In all the instances I gave you, the intent is clear, the guilt is clear, the outcome is clear. These cases DO exist. Why won’t you address them instead of veering off track with irrelevant cases. Sure, folks who are convicted on circumstantial evidence are not candidates for the DP and no one suggested they be. Ditto mental retarded individuals etc.

        There are tons of cases where that is NOT the case. Shall we simply house these turds because you have a moral issue with it?

        Do you support the use of drones to murder untried “terrorists?” Do you support the right unfettered abortion?

        These are actually black and white issues which you keep avoiding.\

    • December 29, 2012 2:49 pm

      Scenarios are somewhat useful, but in real life the facts are rarely so certain.

  54. December 29, 2012 2:24 pm

    Another scenario.

    Renaldo and his peeps are joyriding around and enter into another gang’s territory. Just for ha-has. they decide to fire a couple of rounds in the air as they ride by, just to so the other gang how much they think of them.

    Sadly, their bullet strikes a 5 year old child in front of his dad. The dad gets the licence plate and ID the car. The cops find the guns, ballistics match and Renaldo says, yeah, I did it but I didn’t mean to hit no kid.

    All the players here are black, the cops are black, the DA might even be black. Will the dad get justice? I bet that Renaldo pleads down to manslaughter and does 7 yr,. maybe.

    Message to society: Life isn’t really that important.

    • December 29, 2012 3:03 pm

      Where do you live ? Where I live Renaldo would likely get 7 years just for firing a gun from a car – much less actually hitting someone. If he wounded a 5yr old he would stand a good chance of life, and would certainly get atleast 20 years.

      How about a real world case:

      Perp A is accosted on the street by members of Gang B.
      After being shot at A pulls a gun and fires at Gang B accross street, in the ensuing gun battle someone from Gang B kills an associate of A.

      A is charged with the murder of his associate. No one argues that he shot him, or even shot at him, but since he shot at the members of Gang B (even in self defense), and Gang B shot and killed his associate, it is felony murder, it is a capitol case, and the law allows for transfer of intent.

      This really happened in my city. A avoided the death penalty but received a sentence of more than 40 years.

      Or what about a guy gets drunk in a bar and offends several patrons, when he leaves a crowd some with knives and guns follows and surrounds him. He pulls a gun and threatens to shoot if they do nto back away. They don’t and he shoots aiming low, but still manages to hit somebody who bleeds to death before help arrives.

      This was also charged as a capitol case. It ended up as manslaughter, with a more than 20 year sentence. But it could easily have been a death penalty case.

      • December 29, 2012 4:42 pm

        You don’t read the urban newspapers I see. The Renaldo case happens all the time. Renaldo shoots child and kills him. DP for Renaldo?

        Just answer the question.

      • December 31, 2012 11:45 am

        You do make one point.

        The administration of justice is different in urban areas than everywhere else. If there is a real world equivalent of your Renaldo scenario, then it is going to be in LA, SF, NYC, … because in most of this country Renaldo is doing serious time solely for the use of a weapon in the commission of a crime – merely being present in the car would be enough in my area.

        As to executing Renaldo – given absolute certinty of his personal responsibility for a murder – no. Nor do I think he would be executed in most states with a death penalty.

        Absent a significant record of prior violence I would not even give Renaldo Life in prison. But I would give him a long sentence.

        The post conviction part of our criminal justice system serves the purposes.

        Protection. The rest of us are entitled to protection from those willing to use violence as the means to obtain their ends.

        Punishment. We may not need nor want an eye for an eye, but society, the victims and even the perpetrators, require consequences for actions.
        Further there are a small class of people that only conform their behavior to norms because of the prospect of punishment.

        Rehabilitation. Just as Saul became Paul, we should try to transform the dregs of society into contributing members. It is in OUR best interests not to incarcerate violent people, teaching them to become more violent and then releasing them back into society years later worse than they started.
        Most criminals do not have a life changing experience in prison – but some actually do. Most do actually come out less prone to violence when they entered. At the minimum for most age changes us.

        Even if nothing else changes Renaldo is far less likely to engage in reckless violence at 56 than at 16.

        Retribution is not on that list. Punishment is not retribution.

      • December 31, 2012 11:49 am

        For YOU retribution may not be on the plate. However, there are others who do not see it your way. If you are a libertarian, you should see that this is NOT an inconsequential part of the equation. The impact of crime on the survivors DOES matter.

        I like they way you wouldn’t even seek life for Renaldo. If it were your child who was killed by this turd, would you feel the same way? If so, then I think I know more about you than I need to.

  55. December 29, 2012 3:42 pm

    jBastiat;

    If we were debating economics, you would not allow the left side of TNM to get away with made up scenarios. The real world never is as clean as some hypothetical. The real world is messy and things are not clear. This does not improve when the topic changes from economics to the death penalty.

    In 1982, a 21-year-old cocktail waitress named Debra Sue Carter was raped and murdered, and for five years the police could not solve the crime. For reasons that were never clear, they suspected Ron Williamson and his friend Dennis Fritz. The two were finally arrested in 1987 and charged with capital murder.
    With no physical evidence, the prosecution’s case was built on junk science and the testimony of jailhouse snitches and convicts. Dennis Fritz was found guilty and given a life sentence. Ron Williamson was sent to death row.

    Williams spent years on death row, he was eventually cleared when a conservative pro-death penalty appeals court judge was unwilling to sign off on his execution based on the flimsy evidence. Williams received a stay 5 days from execution. A hearing was held and all the evidence from the original trial came apart.
    Williams was eventually exhonerated using DNA evidence. The actual perpetrator of the crime was eventually determined.
    Several innmates on the same death row as Williams were also eventually exhonerated.

    More details if you wish. Or you could read Grisholm’s book. “The innocent Man”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Innocent_Man:_Murder_and_Injustice_in_a_Small_Town

    Or you could try

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimate_Punishment

    Regardless, the death penalty is a difficult and complex issue.

    It is easy to defend in an antiseptic hypothetical world were guilt is certain.
    But in the real world things are nearly always less clear.

    • December 29, 2012 4:48 pm

      You are, to put it mildly,, full of crap. Here is a real life scenario. My uncle was a pharmacist in Brooklyn. Three guys came in and robbed him and just for fun, they also killed him with a hand gun. Three shots to the chest, he died within 20 minutes of the shooting.

      They admitted that they did it, had the gun and joked about the killing. DP or not Dave?

      These kinds of killings happen all the time. If you don’t believe that, you are deluding yourself.

      • December 31, 2012 12:02 pm

        Real life, my wife was abducted on her way to play the organ at church. She was held and tortured for 4 hours. I am not going to describe what happened, whatever you imagined is probably true. But she lived.
        The perpetrator was never caught.
        I am not ignorant of real world violence. Nor its frequency.

        This happened more than 30 years ago. It is still apart of our lives every day. But we have not allowed it to own us or our lives. My wife subsequently went to University of Pennsylvania Law School. Was editor of the Law Revue, Graduated Suma, Clerked for a federal Judge, and is now a Senior Public Defender – one of few willing to take clients who are charged with peodophilia, rape, torture, …

        As to the three guys that shot your uncle – even in those states with the death penalty they would not likely get it. Nor should they.
        Even if legitimate, the death penalty is not for every robbery that turns into a murder.

        Killing the three guys who killed your uncle, will not bring him back. It will not make anyone else in the world’s life any better. It will not bring your family closure.

      • December 31, 2012 12:40 pm

        Thanks for the platitudes and you are entitled to your opinion, however wrongheaded. Why prey tell should the murderers of my uncle not get the DP. Do you think their intent was to simply rob him but “thing went awry?” Is that how it works.

        No, they went to rob him with a gun, not a stick. The gun was there to ensure they could rob him and if he resisted, shoot him. There was no other reason for the gun.

        Some things in life are simple. You go in a store with a gun, your intent is to USE it if you feel you need to or simply want to.

        What shall we do with you after you use the gun and kill innocent people? I say, we take you out. You say, oh my, we can’t do that.

        Why?

  56. December 29, 2012 4:50 pm

    Dave,

    You can cheery pick the data all you want. The fact is that there are plenty of murders where there is no doubt as to who did the crime. In cases where the guilt is circumstantial, the DP can be taken off the table. In the scenarios, I gave you, there is NO doubt.

    DP or not?

    • December 31, 2012 12:19 pm

      In the real world scenario you gave me there is actual doubt – maybe not alot, but still doubt.

      You claim three people robbed and murdered your uncle, then bragged about it, and were caught with the gun.

      Absent video – all that is circumstantial. As is most evidence in most crimes.

      Catching people in the act or eyewitnesses (also often notoriously unreliable) are evidence that is not circumstantial.

      Circumstaintial evidence is evidence that requires and inference – that could have a plausible explanation other than that it is offered for.

      People brag about crimes they did not commit all the time for many reasons.
      Most of the people who have been exhonerated confessed.
      Possessing a weapon that was used in a crime is circumstantial – unless you can absolutely trace every moment of that weapons existence from pulling the trigger, throught to its recovery by the police.

      Even DNA and fingerprints are usually circumstantial.

      Nearly all convictions in this country are obtained on circumstantial evidence.

      Nor is there anything wrong with that – presuming we grasp that there is a difference between high probability and certainty.

      But that difference matters even more as we move towards executing people.
      If we incarcerate 1000 people for murder for life on circumstantial evidence, the one or two that might actually be innocent could be discovered and freed at any time. At worst they spend the rest of their lives in prison.

      Beyond all the above, in the real world – atleast the real world of my community, not only are virtually all convictions based on circumstantial evidence, but the majority are based on a chain of evidence that does not reach the standard of “more likely than not”
      The only salvation of the entire justice system is that most defendants – even those not guilty of what they are charged with, are guilty of something.

      Worse still the more heinous the crime charged the less evidence local juries need to convict.

      We do not live in the world of CSI, or Law and order, or Columbo.

      • December 31, 2012 12:41 pm

        You are pretty funny. You have yet to give me one solid answer on Hassan, Bundy, et al.

        You dodge, you duck. you simply cannot answer a straight on question. Oh, yes, the real world is complicated. But, dead is dead.

  57. Pat Riot permalink
    December 29, 2012 5:07 pm

    There it is: In cases where there is no doubt, penalty of death, or house and feed the killers at taxpayer cost for their lives while the victims are dead? DP or not?

    • December 29, 2012 5:34 pm

      Swift and sure DP. Think of the resources we can use to fund the local children’s hospital!

    • December 31, 2012 12:29 pm

      If these cases where there is no doubt are so common, why is it that state after state has been force to commute hundreds o sentences as convictions that were purportedly certain came undone ?

      In 2002 the Innocence project had exonerated over 40 death row inmates. These were not people released because of legal technicalities. These were people who were convicted and subsequently proven not to have committed the crimes they were convicted of.
      The most common form of proof was DNA. Worse still in this country proof of actual innocence is NOT sufficient. We are entitled to procedural not substantive due process.
      If our rights were violated, if we did not have a fair trial, we can get relief, but merely proving we did not commit the crime we were convicted of is not sufficient.

      There are far more false death penalty convictions than these 40. We know with certainty that we have executed over 100 innocent people.

      • December 31, 2012 12:43 pm

        Yes and there are plenty of cases where DNA proved the person did do the crime. Keep skating.

  58. December 29, 2012 5:34 pm

    “But in the real world things are nearly always less clear.”

    Dave, this makes you sound just like a liberal.

    • January 1, 2013 12:20 pm

      It makes me sound like Fredrick Hayek.

      One of the major arguments against government is that the real world is complex, not certain. That liberalism does not work because in the real world things are not clean and clear and the use of government power requires simple, clean and clear, bright lines, certainty. That people are poor or jobless, or lacking healthcare or … for myriads of reasons, that one size fits all solutions just do not work.

      Crime is one of few legitimate realms for government. But just because crime is governments legitimate domain does not mean that it is somehow better at dealing with complexity, or exercising discretion, than it is in those areas outside its domain.
      Our criminal laws should be few, simple clear and certain. To the extent they make allowances, those allowances should be rational, clear and certain.
      If the death penalty is legitimate, when it applies and when it does not should be rational, clear and certain. Government requires bright lines.

      • January 1, 2013 12:40 pm

        Right out of the playbook. You could try thinking for yourself, for a change. You might like it. Hayek is Hayek. Why don’t you start thinking (and feeling) for yourself.

  59. December 29, 2012 5:35 pm

    Moreover, you cannot possibly defend that statement with data. Define “almost always less clear.”

    • January 1, 2013 12:41 pm

      Huh ? One of the most important reasons that government is a poor actor in any area is that in the real world conditions and circumstances are rarely perfectly clear.
      Are you really now seeking to debate that ? TNM’ers – at the very least the moderates amoung liberals, conservatives, … can not seem to agree on most anything – why would you expect certainty among the larger population ?

      If criminal cases were certain we would not need judges or juries.

      Do you really want to go into that deeper ?

      • January 1, 2013 1:01 pm

        To what end would anyone want to have a discourse with you? You have yet to respond to my inquiry about Col Hassan. DP or no?

        You can’t answer a simple up or down question. Well, you can always go to the Hayek playbook if you are lost.

  60. December 29, 2012 7:08 pm

    Another specific case:

    Col. Hassan. DP or not? Why does it take 3 yrs to try this bastard anyway? We have all kinds of witness and film on the murders.

    Dave?

    • January 1, 2013 12:49 pm

      As I pointed out before, my objections to the death penalty are not ideological.

      If we are going to execute people Hassan probably meets the criteria. I do not believe there is doubt of his guilt, nor his motivations. Though i have heard little about his Mental health.

      I believe we should eliminate the death penalty entirely because the few instances it is reasonable do not its tremendous cost – a cost that is far greater than just dollars. One that has reduced all of our rights.

      Hassan is also in the military, and we have different procedures, rules and standards there. I have no idea why it is taking so long to bring Hassan to trial, my guess would be politics more than anything else.
      But if you want to complain about that take it up with the military.

      • January 1, 2013 1:02 pm

        Nice dodge. How is using the DP reducing our rights and increasing our costs? It used to take about 90 days to executive a thug like Hassan. And candidly, I don’t care a whit about his mental state.

  61. December 29, 2012 11:46 pm

    Taking a breather from Christmas break with my son. I see that Rich and Dave are waging a battle of the libertarians. Both make valid points. But I’m inclined to agree with Priscilla that because the death penalty is such a gray issue, it shouldn’t really generate such heated exchanges. My own opinion: reserve the death penalty for the most heinous murder cases, based on incontrovertible evidence. (I think Pat would side with me on this issue.)

    Example: Locally, there’s a black man on death row for murdering a man who sexually abused him when he was a minor. The murder was clearly premeditated, but I’d give the guy a break based on extenuating circumstances. It’s not exactly justifiable homicide, so yes, I’d put him away for a while. (He could have leveled charges against the offender.) But death row? That seems like a miscarriage of justice in this case.

    The case of Rich’s uncle is different. Here the murder WASN’T premeditated, but the brutal casualness of the act, like something out of a Tarantino film, would classify it in my book as a “fry the dude” offense. The guy clearly had no respect for human life and therefore deserves no mercy. Sometimes I wonder if some of these street dudes have the capacity to think about consequences or control their impulses. But evil is evil. (Rich, I was really sorry to hear the story about your uncle. It’s tragic that a split-second decision by an idiot thug can have such terrible power over our lives. By the way, what happened to the murderer?)

    The Renaldo (?) case is a tricky one. He obviously didn’t mean to shoot the girl, but his irresponsible behavior makes him a danger to society. Death? I wouldn’t go that far. A stiff 20 years or so should be adequate. That’s a lot of time to ponder the stupidity of his actions. It won’t soothe the father’s grief, but there really was no intent to harm in this case.

    As for Manson… he might be one of the most evil men alive, and he really shouldn’t be alive 40-odd years after engineering that mini-massacre in LA. But the catch is that he didn’t actually murder anyone; he simply directed people to murder. I think that should be a capital offense, but evidently the state of California disagrees.

    • December 30, 2012 9:51 am

      Thanks Rick,. Actually, I don’t know what happened to those three losers. This occurred in 1963 and my mother never told me what transpired after they were captured.

      I have a different take on these events. For example: when three men go into a pharmacy with a loaded gun to rob the owner, the intent is pretty clear. The gun is there to make sure the robbery takes place. The intent is to use the gun if necessary (or in this case, not). To me, that shows the intent was to harm/kill if need be. Doesn’t this show a total disregard for human life?

      I don’t see any difference in intent here than if John decides to kill Joe (for whatever reason) gets a gun and then shoots John to death.

      Should society tolerate such behavior? To me, the answer is no. This intent thing is tricky. Renaldo didn’t INTEND to kill the child but he clearly didn’t care enough about that possibility before he fired the pistol. His outcome was more than clear so why are we mucking around with intent. Dude: you shot out a moving car? Don’t you think you might end up hitting something/one?

      Does society owe Renaldo some special walk from his murder because he wasn’t thinking? Does society owe the child’s father a form of “justice?” Whose debt do we honor?

      Maybe, just maybe, if more Renaldos got to gassed, the message may get through. I am more than happy to find out if that is so. Whatever we are doing isn’t working IMHO.

      • Ron P permalink
        December 30, 2012 1:01 pm

        “Whatever we are doing isn’t working IMHO.”
        In this case and so many other instances, we have issues that have been created over a long period of time and in our instant gratification society, we want fixes that stop the problem instantly.

        Yes, the death penalty could be a way to reduce cost to the public, but in most all cases, the death penalty would not have prevented the crime. If one can find a solution to the over zealous DA’s that rig trials so one innocent individual is never convicted of a crime and sentenced to death, then I can support the DP. If one can find a solution to the problem where it takes years for an innocent individual to get overwhelming new evidence accepted and a new trial approved, then I would most likely support the DP. Right now there are too many instances where innocent individuals are being cleared of crimes after spending years in prison because evidence was not allowed and then it took years for that evidence and new evidence to be accepted by a new judge. One only needs to look at the Duke lacross players to see how DA’s manipulate information for their own good. HAd it not been for the money that the Duke players families brought into the case, they would have never had the representation they had and would have been convicted by a rotten DA. This holds true for anyone in a death penalty also and more so if you are a minority..

        It has taken 50+ years for our country to decompose to the level we are at today and it will not be fixed overnight. It will take one brick at a time to rebuild the social environment just like it took one brick at a time to tear it down.

      • December 30, 2012 1:17 pm

        Again, I see a distinction here. Clearly it is possible to sort out the cases that would be appropriate for the DP. As an example, the Hassan case is tailor made for the DP. There is NO doubt that he did it so what is the hold up? His state of mind?

        Candidly, I don’t care about his state of mind and I doubt the victims and families of victims care either. Let us start with the easy ones and go from there. One less murdering bastard on the public dole makes me feel better already.

        As for the morality of it all, ask Obama how he justifies using drones to kill untried terrorists and the innocents who get killed by accident based solely on “intelligence.” Is this the same intelligence that helped us not avoid Benghazi?

        It is not a perfect world and we have to deal with that, right Dave?

    • January 1, 2013 1:14 pm

      Rick;

      As I noted my opposition is NOT Ideological. There are circumstances when society/the state have the right to execute someone.

      The first question is when should we execute people ?

      Lots of scenarios are being tossed arround, but no themes.

      Should the death penalty be applicable to all murders ? Rapes ? Crimes against children ?

      Is premeditation a factor ?
      The degree of violence ?
      The casualness ?
      The weapons used ?

      …..

      You raised extenuating circumstances. I do not believe that there should be much discretion, either for judges, juries or prosecutors.

      Whatever the criteria for the dealth penatly (or any state action).
      I want bright lines, clearly determined rules before hand.

      If these circumstances are met – the death penalty is applicable.
      If any of these mitigating factors are present it is not.
      When there is doubt – either about the factors or about the crime itself the death penalty can no apply.

      I do not believe it is moral to execute anyone – even a heinous murderer absent real due process – both subtanitive and procedural.
      If we can not clearly articulate within the law precisely when the death penalty applies and when it does not – then executing people is immoral. It is at the whim of prosecutors, judge and jury. It is not the rule of law, but the rule of men.

      Although it is done imperfectly, this is how our existing law attempts to deal with the death penalty.

      My reading of you Jbastiat and others is that you want a Potter stewart standard.
      – I can not define it but I will know when the death penalty should apply when i see it.
      I think that is exactly what we should not have.

      I beleive that if you want the death penalty – then you better be able to argue convincingly and precisely when it should apply and when it should not.
      A bunch of anecdotes is neither real life nor standards with bright lines.

      As to my practical opposition.

      After you have built the system in which you can actually execute someone morally, I suspect you will find the instances in which those criteria are met are so uncommon as to make the death penalty without much value.

      Equally important as applied today in the real world, the Death Penalty is a failure.
      It is arbitrary, expensive – both in dollars and in the destruction of our legal system, and the loss of rights to all the rest of us. If it is necessary to reduce my rights to execute someone else – then execution is immoral.

      While it is critical when punishing children and pets that the consequences are swift and sure. The state is not our parent, and its punishment of citizens must not infringe on our rights. Nothing the state does is our should be swift or sure. Executing people should be the most difficult action the state can take. It should take a long time, it should involve numerous appeals. It should be expensive – and if we can not deal with that then we should not execute people. We should NOT be streamlining the process. Doing so sacrifices not only the rights of the criminal but of the rest of us.

      If you can figure out how to manage all the above and still wish to proceed with executing people, you will not find me opposed.

      But I think you will find that once you establish real bright lines, and real due process that the Death Penalty is just no longer worth it.

      • January 1, 2013 1:29 pm

        Actually I never applied the “I will no it when I see it” standard. In fact, I believe that it is quite doable to provide clear guidance on the use of the DP, IF one wants to do so. Personally, I would never apply the DP for any offence other than intentional murder. I would NOT apply it to minors but would apply it unless it was patently clear that someone was mentally incompetent (ie retarded an unable to exercise ANY judgement.) I really don’t care if someone is hearing voices, as that can be faked ad naseum.

        I would not apply it where there is circumstantial evidence but would apply it where eyewitness, taped, and DNA based evidence all sync up.

        I see no need for applying a standard wherein we need special circumstances. To wit: A guy drives by and fires into my house for no particular reason. He kills me and is apprehended. DNA evidence on the gun ties him to the bullets fired into me and eye witnesses reported the plate number to the police at the time of the crime.

        BIngo. DP all the way. But wait, he didn’t INTEND to kill me, he just thought he would fire at my house. Why do I care if this moron couldn’t connect the dots that his actions could result in my death. Do we really need anyone this stupid and immoral taking up space on the planet? Do we want him to procreate so that he can make more idiots like himself.?

        Like any standard, the premeditated standard is arbitrary and in my view, antiquated. This nonsense of a “crime of passion” is usually a license to kill and then blame it on one’s inability to control oneself.

  62. Pat Riot permalink
    December 30, 2012 2:01 pm

    jbastiat, I agree with your humble opinion. Get rid of the monsters quickly. Then, IMHO, the next level of violent repeat offenders get shipped to a remote island. If they can’t follow the most basic of society’s rules then let them fend for themselves. The few jails we would keep would be for actual rehabilitation, even though everyone knows that would still be imperfect, it’d be better than the evil circus we are running now.

    • Pat Riot permalink
      December 30, 2012 2:13 pm

      and Ron P, I also agree, it will take a lot of “bricks” to build things back up.

      Yes, we have many products on the shelves, and yes some things are improved, but our culture has decayed greatly. Deserted streets on a perfectly nice day is just one of the many, many clues we see–what is everyone doing? (watching TV or worse)

      Where are the kids? Where are the games? Where is the socializing? No, we can’t go “back” and we don’t want to go “back” because many things were a mess back there too, but we can go forward building something better than ever, with some of the best of the old and the best of the new…(music swells here…)

      • December 30, 2012 3:07 pm

        amen!

      • January 1, 2013 1:33 pm

        Yes, lets send them all to Austrailia – oh I guess we did that.

        I am not at odds with reforming our penal system.
        Particularly if we are going to shift the emphasis towards violent offenders.

        The vast majority of those in our prisons – including many with the longest sentences are there for drug offenses, and the largest group of those over Marijuana.
        That is completely insane.

        Those who need to be in prison the most and the longest are those who are violent.
        In many instances it will be the same people. But i would prefer that the addict or Drug dealer were serving time for burglarizing homes or assaulting competitors, rather than the amount of weed they had in their pockets.

        But reforming the system and increasing the punishment for those who are violent does nto mean being blind to reality.

        This meme that we are more violent today than a decade or a generation ago is FALSE.

        We see the world as more dangerous and more violent, because we here about every unusual instance of violence throughout the world.

        Today I read about rapes, honor murders, mutilations in pakistan and africa.
        Were these news at all in 1960 ?

        We have more than a few new cheap appliances. Both the US and the World are better in nearly every way than they were two decades or a generation ago.

        Nearly everyone everywhere is less violent.
        Nearly everyone everywhere is more wealthy.
        Nearly everyone everywhere is more healthy.
        Nearly everyone everywhere is less hungry.

        This does not mean we should not continue to seek improvement.
        But it does mean that we should seek to understand why – what has worked and what has not.

        When you do so you find that the only change that universally correlates to our improving conditions is greater freedom.

        Government has had no responsibility for any of these improvements.
        Though those things that actually are worse are nearly universally related to government.

        Greater freedom might not be the answer to every single problem. But it has an enviable track record, and government action has a record of failure.

        If we fail to grasp this than as we seek to make the world better still we are likely to make poor and counter productive choices.

        We all want to make the world less violent, healthier, wealthier, and less hungry.

        We should all want to do so in ways that will actually work.
        Blinding ourselves to reality is a poor way to start.

      • January 1, 2013 1:46 pm

        I agree with much of what you have said, esp the focus on violent criminals. And yes, the US and other countries are experiencing less violence and the data shows that clearly. I would NOT be so sanguine about ascribing this decline to “freedom” as you do freely do (and without evidence I might add).

        While that MIGHT be true, it is also factual that the US in particular has grown less tolerant of violent criminals and that started back in the 1980s. There is good data on the drop in violent crimes as judges got tougher with violent offenders.

        So, I am all for freeing the prisons of so-called non-violent drug possessors and re-doubling our efforts to take the real vermin off the streets. We can start in Chicago, Detroit, and so-forth and as we let the weed eaters go, we can fill in the empty slots with the gang bangers.

        We will all be better off with fewer drive-by shootings.

        Moreover, it is pathetic to me, that many urban schools are totally unsafe for many students to attend. Why?

        If students are violent as teens, why are they allowed to abuse their fellow students?

        Unacceptable, plain and simple.

    • December 30, 2012 3:07 pm

      agreed!

  63. December 31, 2012 11:09 am

    The hypocrisy of Hollywood on full display. These door knobs don’t even know enough to be embarrassed.

    • Pat Riot permalink
      December 31, 2012 6:48 pm

      Thank you. The hypocrisy of hollywood has been one of my peeves/rants for decades.

    • January 1, 2013 1:40 pm

      Freedom, includes the freedom to be hypocritical and stupid.

      One of the major obstacles to a libertarian society is that those who value liberty must tolerate the hypocracy and stupidity of those who do not.

      A libertarian can not morally infringe on the freedom of a conservative or progressive to demand that government infringe on the freedom of others.

      • January 1, 2013 2:01 pm

        Thanks for the lecture (once again unsolicited). I never implied nor stated that these dolts don’t have the right to be stupid or hypocritical.. However, I am free to make fun of their stupidity and I am also free to mock their hypocrisy.

        I am also free to resist their efforts to restrict my freedoms as well. And lastly, I am free to not go see their stupid ass movies which ultimately might do the most good.

        I am also free to tell you to lighten up. Your moral tone is candidly getting old and who the hell anointed you the Any Rand of this forum. You don’t have a monopoly on libertarian thought and perhaps you might reflect upon that fact.

  64. December 31, 2012 11:35 am

    “What purpose does execution serve ?”

    A-Justice for the victim’s family and survivors. Yes, this DOES matter.

    B-A message to ALL of society that murder is serious business and that at times, will cost you your life. Does that matter? To some, it matters quite a bit. Why do you think they used to hang the cowboys in the town square?

    C-Free’s up societal resources to devote to more moral pursuits. Shall we fund the cancer trial or pay for Col Hassan to sit on his ass for the rest of his pitiful life?

    To me, the DP serves many purposes.

    • January 1, 2013 2:03 pm

      C – it is and SHOULD be more costly. Government action not only is inefficient, it must be. We trade or atleast attempt to trade efficiency for transparency and public integrity and trust.

      We can not and should not execute people swiftly and cost effectively, without regard for justice, innocence, uncertainty.

      Even in your cowboy example, towns often waited months even years before a judge got to town, because due process matters.

      Doing otherwise would be immoral.

      B – Everytime the President speaks I here that he is sending a CLEAR MESSAGE.
      Our political leaders are sending more clear messages than we have cable and satelite channels. Everyone has a message that matters to them. Government is not about sending messages.

      A – Justice is not about victims and survivors. One of the worst things that has happened in our criminal justice system has been this modern conception of victims rights.
      We decide what is just based on clear societal standards, not the needs and wishes of crime victims and their families.

      In my own personal experience recovery from violence is something that must come from within you, and can not be afforded by the justice system.

      A libertarian expects that those who cause harm will make those they harm whole.
      Any eye for an eye leaves everyone blind not whole.

      From a libertarian perspective there is no difference between Mother’s against Drunk Drivers seeking their boon from Government and those seeking an ObamaPhone.
      Both are seeking to divert public resources that each of us pays for to their personal cause. And for Rick, they are both no different from corporations seeking favorable regulation.

      Everyone seeking something from government seeks to cloak their demands in high objectives – such as Justice. We have created a plethora of new forms of Justice solely for the purpose of converting arguments about real justice to emotional debates.

      If you or someone close to you has been the victim of a violent crime – you have my sympathy, my empathy – I share your pain. But nothing that happens in court, prison or a death chamber will make you whole, or take away your pain.

      From personal experience i have never understood why any crime victim of family would want anyone punished for what happened to them – absent certainty that the right person was being punished.

      • January 1, 2013 2:06 pm

        “From personal experience i have never understood why any crime victim of family would want anyone punished for what happened to them – absent certainty that the right person was being punished.

        Priceless!

  65. December 31, 2012 12:44 pm

    Dave,

    Col. Hassan? Live or die?

    If live, tell it to the survivors, not me. Explain all you want and see how that plays.

    • January 1, 2013 2:05 pm

      I answered, and the survivors are irrelevant.

      What constitutes justice is not decided by the victims of crimes – otherwise we might as well return to tribal society.

      • January 1, 2013 2:16 pm

        Nonsense. If indeed, over time, citizens don’t feel an overall sense of equity and justice from their legal system they come to ignore it and in its worst, take the law into their own hands. If you do not choose to see that, you are simply misguided. These actions don’t take place some abstract concepts floating in your mind. They take place in real world, where the feelings of the survivors actually matter.

        That is in fact, why you don’t get the Sandy Hook reaction. That is indeed, why we libertarians will never elect anyone. If you are than example, no one wants to play.

        Enough Dave, go get a life.

  66. Ron P permalink
    December 31, 2012 1:03 pm

    jbastiat..as one that has flipped from favoring the DP to not favoring it based on such evidence as provided by asmith, I could also be convinced that Hassan, Bundy, McVeign and others should get the DP. But the problem I have is the number of individuals that are convicted and sentenced to death using the same laws that convict and sentence the Hassans, etc. that are found not guilty years later. How many individuals that did not commit the crime and are not found innocent later end up dead based on our current DP laws? They are the ones that don’t have the money for lawyers or publicity passes them by so no one looks at their case to find them innocent later.

    So for every Hassan, Bundy and the rest, how many innocent individuals being put to death are acceptible until you would want a change in our laws? In my area, the Innocent Project takes years of court battles just to get new evidence admitted. DA’s and the state fight to their last dollar to stop any new trials from happening. And when they do occur, in most cases the inmate is found to be not guilty.

    If you can provide information on any state’s regulations that are 100% fool proof in making sure not one innocent person is convicted and sentenced to death for a crime they did not commit, then I could support that law. But if one person can be executed that did not commit a crime using the same laws to seentence Hassan, etc, then I am unable to support that law since I believe one innocent life saved is worth many spending life in prison without chance or parole.

    • December 31, 2012 1:30 pm

      There is no such thing as 100% fool proof. either way. If you won’t accept DNA evidence that a person committed murder, you can’t accept it to prove his innocence either. Moreover, just because the Innocent Project gets a conviction overturned, it does not PROVE that the person was innocent. Indeed, the US system of justice has a pretty high bar compared to most other countries (in the UK, you must prove your innocence). I have been on a jury and I can tell you how much lecturing we get when it comes to the so-called “burden of proof.” Folks who commit these crimes know this and they work the system big-time!

      If we wanted to, we could clearly use the DP only in cases where the evidence is overwhelming. To me, if we have someone who admits doing the deed, has the gun in their possession, and DNA evidence at the scene, what else would you like, to have the guy take a video for you?

      I am not advocating a massive increase in the DP. However, in cases like Col Hassan, I would have hung the bastard within a month. of his crime.

      • Ron P permalink
        December 31, 2012 4:12 pm

        I am not saying you are wrong in your opinions. But what I am saying is the current laws do not require what you are putting forth. If they did, you would not find cases where someone was convicted based on witness identification, video evidence the person was in the vacinity of the crime, etc and then 15+ years later some overwhelming evidence is used to clear the person of the crime. And in that 15 years, it took over 5 to even get the court to accept reopening the case.

        If DA’s could not use the death penalty in cases that were not as open and closed as Hassan’s, then I could accept the use of the death penalty. But as long as there are those cases where many have convictions overturned, then there are too many problems associated with our current laws to allow the death penalty to stand.

      • January 1, 2013 2:15 pm

        Most exonerations have been due to DNA.
        Further contrary to public perception good forensics, good science, are more likely to serve the defense than the prosecution.

        F. Lee Bailey argued for years that properly administered Lie Detector tests should be admissible. Again contrary to public perception, more alleged criminals pass lie detector tests than fail them. Most defense attorney’s will allow their client to take a lie detector test – If the prosecution will drop the charges if they pass.

        Except in instances where the the person doing the identification actuallu knows the person being identified, witness identifications are notoriously unreliable.

        Nearly every case where decades later someone was proven innocent – usually using DNA, there were eye witness identifications, recanted confessions.

        Have you ever actually seen most “video” used to identify criminals.
        While our capabilities are improving – and more and more prosecutions are being dropped because the surveillance video makes it clear that the suspect is not the perpetrator – past and even much present video is not good enough to identify someone.

      • January 1, 2013 2:24 pm

        You are right Dave, no one commits these crimes, at last no one that the cops actually catch. They just go along and arrest anyone that is walking on the side of the road.

        My brother was a warden in the county jail. When he first started working there, he told me: “none of these guys ever did it.” The problem was, after 30 years or working there, they kept arresting and convicting the same guys!.

        Well, Dave, you keep the faith on that criminal justice system. Sure, no one ever does it!

      • January 1, 2013 2:36 pm

        Jbastiat;

        There is a vast difference between proof of guilt and proof of innocence.

        Most forensics are far better at excluding than proving.

        We can not match hairs – but if the perpitrator was blond and the suspect has black hair we have proven the suspect is innocent.
        Any mismatch on DNA or fingerprints excludes, but only a perfect math identifies.

        Ballistic tests can exclude far easier than they can match.

        Generally all forensics are far better at excluding than matching.
        Even the discredited forensics of bite identification on occasion might be able to exclude someone.

        I have no theoretical problem with criminal forensics, but major problems with the mistaken belief that many modern forensic procedures can prove anything to the degree needed to convict someone. Some done to real scientific standards might be able to but we rarely do so.

        Further the norm in a criminal investigation today is for the police and District attorneys to stop collecting and testing evidence once they believe they have sufficient to convict.

        Defense attorney’s are typically skeptical of their clients claims of innocence. It is actually rare for the defense to conduct a real investigation.
        It would be legal error on the part of the defense attornery to investigate further it the results increased the evidence against the defendant. But it is not error not to investigate.

        The result of this is we normally convict using the least amount of evidence that the prosecution believes it needs to convict. And there is typically far more evidence gathered or otherwise available that did not make it to trial

        After conviction we have years sometimes decades of appeals – and now evidence gathered but not examined is more thoroughly scrutinized by the defense. An appeals attorney has little to lose seeking DNA tests on unexamined evidence.

        None of this is inherently wrong. Though I would like to see prosecutors hold themselves to a higher standard, it is not their job to examine evidence without limit.

        But understanding the process is important to understanding why a large number of cases that appeared certain at trial often disintegrate years later.

        This is also why death penalty appeals need to be long and arduous. Before we execute someone ALL the evidence should be thoroghly scrutinized.

      • January 2, 2013 1:38 am

        I do not recall saying that “no one really does it”
        The fact that our criminal justice system is abysmal, arbitrary and capricious, that in order to feel safer we have sacrificed our rights and mangled our system of justice does not mean that we have no crime or that there are not plenty of people deserving punishment

        Almost always when an innocent is convicted someone who is guilty goes free. Even when we convict bad guys – just not the right bad guys we are not serving justice.

        Crime is one task that really is the responsibility of government – and we. are very sloppy in our handling of it

        Maybe just maybe we can tolerate mistakes when the price is years of someones life, but are you really prepared to tolerate the when you are going to execute people ?

        We can not reach perfection, but we can do better than we are

        Nor does a functional justice system require codling the guilty
        The Europeans tried that and it has failed
        They may have far less gun violence
        Even less murder, but they actually have more violence
        You are 4 times as likely to be the victim of a violent crime in Scotland but half as likely to die from it
        It just requires the police, day’s judges etc to work a bit harder

      • January 2, 2013 8:55 am

        Is there anything that you are not certain about?

      • January 2, 2013 10:12 am

        jbastiat;

        I think you have the certainty issue backwards.

        I am only certain that the degree of certainty everyone else presumes of government action is unacheivable.

        We have not thoroughly examined our justice system and developed metrics on its error rate. But the substantial number of recent exonerations primarily driven by the introduction of DNA minimally establish an error rate demanding more not less scrutiny of death penalty convictions.

        How many executions of the innocent are morally acceptable in your swift and certain scheme ?

        All that changes in the criminal sphere is that government is atleast exercising a legitimate power that arguably only government can perform.

        All the normal problems with government actions still exist. They do not magically go away because in this instant government is doing what it must.

        Successful government action is hard – an it should be.
        Laws are supposed to be minimal, simple, with bright lines, because discretion is inappropriate for government action.

        Shouldn’t we hold government to a higher standard when overtly excercising its authority to use force – as in the justice system than more obscure excercises such as jobs bills and unemployment benefits ?

        Shouldn’t we expect more certainty before executing people, than forecasting economic growth ?

  67. Pat Riot permalink
    January 2, 2013 11:34 am

    The uncertainty of some cases doesn’t cancel out the certainty of other cases.

    Sometimes the perpetrator is caught in the act. The existence of ambiguity in some cases doesn’t cancel out the cases where there is NO doubt. There are cold-blooded killers with no conscience among us. Situations where there is NO doubt do exist. In those cases we need to hold society together by maintaining as much justice as we can muster. It is different in cases where guilt is not clear.

    As I related before here on TNM, I was elected jury foreman in a double manslaughter case. We jurors were sequestered for two weeks. I went in with a poor image of the justice system that I had gathered from Hollywood. I came out very impressed with the system—the presentation of evidence, the laying out of details, the long discussions in the jury room. We acquitted the truck driver of double manslaughter although some wanted someone to blame (to rot in jail) for the deaths of two children. It was an accident. There was no intent. There were extenuating circumstances. (No way to go into all the details here.) The court “administrator” who escorted us jurors to and fro, who had sat in on cases for her whole life, told us after the verdict, “You got this one right.”

    Sometimes our justice system works quite well.

    • January 2, 2013 12:00 pm

      My experience was similar to yours Pat. However, none of what we say will matter to Dave, whose mind is closed to all things that don’t sit well in his universe.

      Dave, go get out the Hayek and read it back to us.

      • TNSGWazzoo permalink
        January 2, 2013 12:38 pm

        So, ignore Dave, whose infallibility is hard wired and not changeable Why argue with a man whose ego is so large that he is happy to fearlessly state that he can challenge the opinions of experts after a half hour of reading on any narrow subject? TNM long ago became the New Senseless and Endless Arguments with Last-Word Dave. Don’t feed that.

        Instead, address what Ron P wrote, which was much more reasonable and employed common sense and common decency.

        In the small world of mostly rural Vermont almost every murder case I remember the guilt of the culprit has been utterly clear. In highly populated areas, everything gets messier and sometimes more anonymous. The law and the process have to cover all cases, not just the clear ones, that is the difficult part. If this were actually easy to do it would have been solved long ago.

        I am comfortable with executing sociopaths, except that is what they usually wish, a painless release as a celebrity. Letting them rot in a cell has considerable benefits in the area of punishment and retribution and permits the rare cases of wrongful conviction of capital offenses to be overturned. Executing innocent people is unacceptable.

        More to the point, is not the execution question but the light and inappropriate sentence question. The debate should be about what it is about our system that so often puts dangerous people who were convicted of serious and even horrible crimes back on the street after five or ten years. That happens all too often. Prisons are packed, we need room, why? How much money do we want to spend on housing millions and how could we reduce the time non violent crimes receive so that there is room to keep all the violent criminals permanently locked up? This also seems an easy question at a superficial level, but it is not.

        In the real world the process of constructing a justice system in incredibly difficult. We are free to try to make it seems simple in this kind of debate, but that affects nothing.

      • January 2, 2013 1:40 pm

        well put, thanks!

      • January 2, 2013 1:28 pm

        TNSGWazzoo;

        Ian – for the most part we are in agreement.

        Anyone here want violent offenders to serve light sentences ?

        Should someone who knifes someone else have a longer or shorter sentence than Maddoff ?

        I would also ask why you believe that violent criminals are routinely getting off with light sentences ? I can not speak for the country, but I can assure you that in my community sentences for even minor violence are harsh. Criminals here are not coddled – and I have little problem with that. I would prefer that sentences for non-violent crimes like shoplifting were not as harsh as violent crimes like assault. I would also prefer that our courts worked better and we worked harder to establish guilt – particularly before harsh sentences such as execution.

        I also see significant problems in our prison systems. I would prefer we did not jail shoplifters and release them as muggers and murders. I would prefer that our prisons made the people in them less violent rather than more.
        Is that something we can agree on ?

        Constructing a justice system IS incredibly difficult.
        Absolute certainty is difficult if not impossible to achieve.

        If we are going to execute people at all it is virtually certain we will eventually execute atleast one innocent person.
        As unacceptable as that may be.
        If you can not live with the certainty that you will on rare occasions execute an innocent person than you you should oppose the death penatly, because that is the only way of acheiving certainty on that issue.

        If you still support the death penalty then you need to accept that innocents will be executed and decide how much effort you are willing to go to to avoid that.

        Jbastiats swift executions comes at the cost of more executed innocents. Perfection is not acheivable – but we can bias trhe system towards greater speed or fewer errors, but there are few things we can do that will bring about both.

        Even figuring out who the sociopath’s are is not so easy.
        The acknowldeged expert on criminal Sociopath’s concedes that many are extremely good and have and continue to frequently fool him.

        But if you want to execute Bundy – go ahead, but those are not your typical death row inmates.

        I have also asked aside from the lack of absolute certainty over guilt – what constitutes an executable offense ?

        The Bundy’s and Manson’s are easy. But some here seem to want to execute everyone who killed someone else – that would include Pat’s truck driver.

        I do not see how you can address the question of the death penalty without assessing what constitutes an offense deserving execution.

        In Salem we executed people for suspected witchcraft until we became revolted by our own bloodlust.

      • January 2, 2013 1:43 pm

        “The Bundy’s and Manson’s are easy. But some here seem to want to execute everyone who killed someone else – that would include Pat’s truck driver.”

        Nobody said that, you are making shit up.

    • January 2, 2013 12:42 pm

      Pat;

      I have not claimed out system is a total failure. Only that it is far from the quality necessary for sure swift and certain executions.

      The flaws in our justice system are troubling, and troublesome, but not fatal – unless you are seeking the certainty I think most of us expect to execute people.

      I would also note that as a juror you only see and hear the evidence the court allows you. Mostly this is a good thing.

      There is no good reason that the prosecution should be allowed to present evidence that your truck driver beat his wife or was behind on his mortgage.

      But the standards the courts use for chosing what a jury can here are far from perfect.

      As an example, The national academy of sciences was commissioned by congress to study the quality of forensic evidence and recommend standards. They produced a 2009 report that was damning of even well accepted forensic evidence such as fingerprint analysis, labeled as essentially junk science hair and bite mark matching, significantly narrowed the credible results possible from ballistic analysis, …….

      Briefly the courts allowed defense attorney to challenge the analysis of forensic experts using that report. More recently the courts have decided that forensic expert witnesses can not be asked wither they are conforming to the NAS recommended standards – as they are only recommended standards and that would confuse juries.

      Jury nullification has been a bulwark of western law since the Magna Carta.
      It was frequently used in the US colonies most famously in the Zenger’s Case, 1735. Prior to the civil war it was constantly used in Fugitive slave cases.
      Jury nullification is the absolute right of the jury to disregard the law if they believe justice would be better served in that way. It is an essential check in our judicial system. When juries routinely decide that the law is improper that is a strong signal to the legislature that it needs fixed. Yet no court in this country will allow what English colonial governers did in 1735 – an attorney to stand in front of a jury and argue that the Law itself is wrong and unjust. In fact US attorney’s have successfully prosecuted for jury tampering or obstruction of justice people completely outside of courtrooms for handing out flies claiming that some law is unjust or posting web sites critical of some law.

      This is just one of many arguments that defendants and defense attorney’s are prohibited from making.

      Jbastiat is incensed that Col. Hassan has not come to trail. A major issue associated with trying religious zealots is the fear that they will claim religious justification – which we prohibit.

      I should think we should be ecstatic to hear a defendant raise their voice and claim – I killed these people because of my religious views. I would think after such a confession at trial that a jury would only deliberate for seconds.
      Give me a defendant that boldly confesses to mass murder in court and I will be happy to erect the gallows right outside the court and have the execution follow immediately after the verdict.

      But our courts are so scared that juries will be swayed by some variation of the “twinkie defense” that there are actually very few arguments that defense attorney’s are allowed to make at trial.

    • January 2, 2013 12:57 pm

      Pat;

      I do not know the details of your truck driver case, but what if the jury had been filled with 12 people who felt that your trucker should be punished for the death of those children ?

      We had a similar truck driving manslaughter case here two years ago. Instead of two children and elderly woman and her 45 year old daughter (a close personal friend were killed). The truck driver made a small error in judgement. It was a mistake and it resulted in a fatal accident. There were other factors besides the truck driver.
      Regardless, the truck driver was convicted of manslaughter.

      Details do matter and it is possible that the details in your case justify a different outcome. But I suspect they do not. I suspect that the only reason the outcome was different is differences between your community and mine.

      Arguably both verdicts are perfectly proper, as would have convicting your truck driver.

      The conviction or release of truck drivers for manslaughter is not an issue of cosmic importance. But it does question your claim that justice was served by your jury.
      Would justice have been equally served had your trucker been convicted ?
      What about the parents of the two children who were killed – did they receive justice ?

      I am not looking to specifically beat you up here. Based on what little I know I suspect you really did “get this one right”. I am just asking you to grasp that the same case could easily have gone the opposite way – and often does. And that many would not see the opposite result as a miscarriage of justice.

      From what I can tell, some here are perfectly willing to execute people for manslaughter – otherwise how do the victims receive justice ?

      Are you prepared to execute some people and let others go free on essentially the same cases, based on who is selected for this particular jury or where the case is tried ?

    • Ron P permalink
      January 2, 2013 1:20 pm

      “Sometimes our justice system works quite well.”

      As I commented to Jbastiat earlier, “Sometimes our justice system works quite well.” leaves alot to be desired when it comes to the DP. Our justice system leaves too much open ended DP laws where sometimes our justice system does not work quite well. There are cases where eyewitnesses place the perp at the scene, leaving no doubt that the perp commited the crime (Wilmington Ten, 1972, not a DP case, just an example). Daryl Hunt spent 18 years in prison based on testimony and evidence. During that 18 years, 10 were spent trying to get DNA evidence accepted by the courts that proved he was not the one who committed the murder. He was exonerated in 2004 for a crime he did not commit. He could also have been executed had the DA pressed for that sentence. (You can find out all about Hunt on the internet)

      As long as one person can be tried under these circumstances using the same law that brings those guilty beyond any doubt, should we use it. Right now the DP laws are not perfect. What is one innocent life worth?

  68. Pat Riot permalink
    January 2, 2013 4:44 pm

    Some people can’t see the trees for the forest. The Pro death penalty arguments here were not advocating a rush to quick execution when there is reasonable doubt. There is certainty in some cases, and some crimes are heinous. Again, the doubt in some cases does not negate the certainty in others.

    Asmith, you’ve had some experience/observations with court cases. You’ve seen the fallibility of evidence, etc. Okay, let’s summarize and say that evidence is not always as reliable as the general public thinks it is. Okay, granted. I think everyone will be happy to give that to you.

    I say that the kind of across-the-board “absolute certainty” and “perfection” you desire, in legal matters and in 3 years of discussion here, is wrapped up in your difficulty with ambiguity.

    You are forever looking for absolutes and that is part of why you’ve often been labeled an extremist and part of why you are not a moderate. You’ve had to accept that there is ambiguity out there, and you don’t like it, and so rules/laws or verdicts are dubious and untrustworthy to you. In other words, if they are sometimes dubious, then they are always dubious to you, because you want absolutes.

    I surmise that at some point you concluded that reality/humanity is a tangled mess that doesn’t always fit into categories without having blurred edges, and so THAT’s the absolute that you cling to, ad naseum. Therefore it is more fitting to your thinking if, for a key example, free markets grind it out (versus some regulation which must be dubious), and messy courts do the best they can with their fallibility, because the world is more understandable to you as a tangled forest, rather than discernable oaks, maples, scotch pines, or discernable cases of guilt, etc. If it can’t all fit in neatly, then how can the categories be true at all?

    I wouldn’t bet $5.00 that I’d ever change your mind, but I will continue to represent a moderate voice as best I can so that your “oh it’s always been a mess and will continue to be a mess and let it be a mess because we will steadily improve and have cheaper, better products” isn’t always the last word. The truth is…some things are a mess, and other things are clear cut, at the same damn time. Wild, isn’t it?

    • January 2, 2013 4:58 pm

      I will say that as a libertarian, I have no issue with the use of the DP in appropriate cases. I also believe that if we were committed to its use, we could delineate cases where it is appropriate. IMHO, there are plenty of these cases.

      • Pat Riot permalink
        January 2, 2013 7:47 pm

        jbastiat, very succinctly stated above. Amen.

    • Ron P permalink
      January 2, 2013 6:24 pm

      Pat, would you agree that the same laws that would put the likes of McVeigh, Bundy, Mansion to death would be the same laws that a DA could use to put another individual to death based on eyewitness testimony, camera photos showing their car in the vacinity of the crime and other evidence collected by police?

    • January 3, 2013 12:41 am

      Pat;

      I have no philosophical objections to the Death Penalty.

      We seem to agree that there are atleast some instances in which the crime is heinous enough and sufficient certainty exists to allow the state to execute someone.

      So my absolute is that freedom actually works better than anything else – I can accept that. How is that more extreme than faith in imposed order despite a history of failure ?

      I do not presume imposed order will fail. I note that it always has and expect that is not likely to change.

      It is not that courts are messy that is the problem, it is imposing a task upon them that requires perfection.

      Everything is not a blur, but the optimum is closer to spontaneous order than imposed. Oaks grow in groves – with other oaks, but also with other trees, and grasses, and … and alone without all the rest of the natural disordered order they an not survive much less thrive.

      It is not about free markets or cheaper better products, these are just markers, signals, measures for everything that matters.

      It is about freedom. It is about better lives. It is about understanding that all the external means of imposing order deprive us of our freedom, and leave us worse off in most every way.

      Somethings are clear cut – more freedom works better than less. There may be an inflection point at which that trend reverses but we are far far way from it. Moving towards less freedom is CLEARLY headed in the wrong direction.

      Believing those that have promised order in return for power and consistently failed – that is CLEARLY wrong.

      Look around virtually everything that is wrong with the world today was brought about by those who promised you better in return for your freedom.

      Look arround virtually everything that has improved has been brought about by those who promised you nothing but value for value, who served your interests to achieve theirs.

      No you are not likely to convince me – because all I have to do is see the world as it is.

      • January 3, 2013 8:53 am

        “No you are not likely to convince me – because all I have to do is see the world as it is.”

        One of the more arrogant statements I have seen in a while. This one is Obama worthy.

  69. Pat Riot permalink
    January 2, 2013 7:44 pm

    Ron P, no I wouldn’t agree. “Eyewitness testimony” is itself a wide spectrum. It could range on one hand from a situation where a scumbag with a gun walks into a bank where there are 15 customers and 5 employees, things go awry, and he guns down three people before a security guard wounds the perp. Then we have a number of eyewitnesses at relatively close range backed up by security cameras, the perp’s wounded body on the scene, and then all the cops who arrive later.

    On the other side of the eyewitness testimony spectrum there are all manner and variety of less obvious situations in which there are fewer eyewitnesses, distance and darkness perhaps, and the like.Things like video of a car in the vicinity are getting toward the circumstancial evidence side of things.

    Our criminal justice system would have to EVOLVE considerably, including putting checks and balances by citizenry to eliminate/minimize abuses. For instance, the insanity plea was one of the biggest weakenings of our society, a lawyer trick. Insanity, temporary or otherwise, is MORE of a danger to society, not an “excuse.” I still can’t believe the insanity plea works as any kind of a defense. The man who walks into a situation where, say, his wife is cheating on him, needs to get away from that situation and file for divorce. The idea of a “crime of passion” being somehow understandable is ridiculous to me.

    Housing and feeding monsters for thirty or fifty years at taxpayer expense seems inane to me. I’m not talking about making capital punishment so easy and widespread that the state can start rounding up people it doesn’t like.

    • January 2, 2013 9:30 pm

      agreed!

    • Ron P permalink
      January 3, 2013 12:34 am

      Pat, and that is why I can’t support the DP laws we have in most states today. Although the DA’s use that sentence for the worst of the worst, there are still instances where individuals have been convicted, sentenced and then found innocent later. And in those cases it takes almost an act of god (if you believe in god) to get new evidence admitted to save the life of an innocent person.

      Again, for that one reason, I have a hard time accepting DP sentences because what can be used for the Bundy’s, etc, can also be used for the young black male that was incorrectly convicted due to piss poor legal help, eyewitnesses that find all black males look alike and DA’s wanting to make a name for themselves. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it corrupts the whole system of justice.

    • January 3, 2013 1:08 am

      In the real world you very rarely have 15 eyewitnesses at close range with security cameras. Most crimes are committed in far less than ideal conditions for observation.

      But lets accept your scenario. Again forget Law and order where street corner camera images are magically digitally enhanced to get a crystal clear image of the perp from 4 pixels – I have done computer image processing that can not and will never be possible.
      In the real world the images from security cameras are crappy. You could not identify your mother – if you did not already know it was her. This is slowly improving, but we have a long way to go.
      In the real world if you have 15 eyewitnesses at close range – you will have 15 different descriptions.

      Where do you get your information ? When is the last time outside of television you heard of a real defendent found NOT GUILTY by reason of insanity ? The norm today is “guilty but insane”, it typically results in a the same sentence as a guilty verdict, but it MIGHT provide treatment if the defendant is lucky. John Hinkley is probably the last person in this country to be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

      Please learn something real about law – particularly defense lawyers, They come in all flavors, some are crooks – though there victims are their clients not society.
      There are few if any legal “tricks” left in any defense attorney’s bag.
      Further defense attorney’s that win too often or prove a thorn in the side of prosecutors usually find themselves facing ethics inquiries. Because the rules of the game have slowly been tilted to favor prosecutors.

      One reason defense attorney’s do not investigate the crimes is because they are prohibited from allowing their clients to testify to anything they know is untrue.
      Yet we allow prosecutors to put on witnesses all the time with dubious credibility as a norm.

      Housing and feeding monsters at tax payers expense is far cheaper than executing them.
      And it should be, because before we execute anyone we should be really certain they are actually guilty and had a fair trial, and that is expensive. We could probably simplify the process buy more thoroughly exploring all the evidence at trial. By requiring a higher standard of evidence and burden of proof for a capitol trial. But it still would be very expensive – and it should be.

      Do you really want to execute people willy nilly ? Do you really beleive that the standard of proof necescary to execute someone should be no different than that necescary to convict someone of shoplifting ?

      • January 3, 2013 8:54 am

        Do you notice Dave, that you keep saying the same things over and over. Perhaps if you just say them more loudly…..

  70. January 3, 2013 1:18 am

    Pat;

    Try this.

    http://reason.com/blog/2012/11/14/supreme-court-declines-to-tackle-prosecu

    For the record this is just one of a long line of prosecutorial misconduct cases.

    The state is immune from suit over the misconduct of a prosecutor, and the prosecutor is also immune. If Prosecutors are free to do as they please without consequence – and that is absolutely the current state of affairs according to the US supreme court, then why exactly do you expect them to behave ?

    This particular case is also indicative of the jihad US Attorneys have waged against anyone trying to alleviate pain in the chronically or terminally ill.

    • January 3, 2013 1:42 am

      In virtually every single case of exoneration evidence of prosecutorial misconduct starting with the original trial and proceeding through to the bitter end is common.

      I think in my entire life I have only once read of a prosecutor willing to take a second look at the possibility that someone they convicted might actually be innocent.

      In most cases of exoneration the prosecutors are still claiming despite DNA or other irrefutable evidence – because overturning a conviction is incredibly hard, that the defendant was actually guilty.

      Mike NiFong the prosecutor in the Duke LaCrosse case was by most accounts a fair and reasonable prosecutor, and still he pushed prosecution long past the point where it was obvious to nearly everyone this was a miscarraige of justice.

      I constantly hear interviews where the prosecutor says that it is their job to prove guilt and the defense attorneys job to prove innocence. That if an innocent person is convicted that is not their responsibility.

      NOOOO! Defense attorney represent their clients, not society or justice. But prosecutors represent society and justice. It is their job to find the truth not to convict defendants.

      Remember for every innocent person convicted, there is a guilty person walking free.

      Society as a whole as well as victims and their families are entitles to justice – but justice is not the conviction of someone for a crime, it is the conviction of the guilty person. Anything less is worse than no conviction at all.

      In a 2003 study of criminal convictions harmful prosecutorial misconduct (not just misconduct, but misconduct likely to lead to an erroneous outcome) was found in 17.6% of all criminal cases. Of 255 individuals exonerated by DNA Prosecutorial misconduct was raised in 60 of the prior appeals, and eventually found in 18% of all cases.
      Defense attorney’s do not raise a claim of prosecutorial misconduct lightly. Just making such a claim is nearly assured to result in ethics charges against the defense attorney.
      Prosecutors – even the good ones are notoriously vindictive, and the bad ones have every motivation to use all their power to punish anyone trying to expose them.
      Further the courts are incredibly resistant to such claims. No less than the Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly said there is no consequence for prosecutorial misconduct.

      Why do you expect a system that rewards winning over justice, and where cheating to win has no consequences is going to work ?

      Why are you so concerned about the purported “tricks” of defense attorney’s most of which are either myth’s or long ago closed, yet you are blind to the fact that many prosecutors long ago lost any interest in justice ?

  71. Pat Riot permalink
    January 3, 2013 10:28 am

    Alright. A somewhat beneficial exchange.

    I read an hour’s worth of the links you posted. Naturally, my perception of the legal system (let’s say a cautiously positive perception) was strongly based on my experience as a juror when I witnessed no misconduct, and instead was rather impressed by the prosecution side, the defense side, and the professionalism of the proceedings in general. The only alarming weakness I detected through that experience was from a few “casual” jurors in the beginning, and I remember thinking “thank God there are twelve of us.”

    I was already saying in previous posts that our legal system needed to evolve, but now I will admit that you and Ron P have nudged me to be a few notches more fearful of prosecutors gone wild and other abuses.

    There actually is some consensus among us, however. Asmith you said:

    “We seem to agree that there are at least some instances in which the crime is heinous enough and sufficient certainty exists to allow the state to execute someone.”

    That is “qualitative” agreement with what I and perhaps jbastiat have been saying. We would perhaps disagree on the quantity, maybe not.

    But finally there is the issue of your usual misconduct, Mr. Dave. Alas! You are not unlike the overzealous out-of-line prosecutors when you are debating here on TNM in that you will say just about anything to support your side of an argument (i.e. more focused on COUNTERING than on arriving at truth and/or consensus). My bank heist triple murder scenario was an open & shut example—the perp was still there, bleeding on the floor!–and yet you throw this against the brick wall:
    “In the real world if you have 15 eyewitnesses at close range – you will have 15 different descriptions.”
    And elsewhere you say: “Do you really want to execute people nilly willy?”
    Haha! C’mon man! Those are clear violations! Many have objected. Objections sustained. Asmith you are in contempt!

    • January 3, 2013 12:27 pm

      Pat;

      All prosecutors are not evil. Nor are all police, nor is all forensics crap.

      In truth we do not know the real extent of our problems with our legal system.

      What we know is that the sudden emergence of DNA evidence created a window that allowed us to examine the quality of the justice system with respect to a small percentage of cases where DNA could actually be used to prove innocence.
      Even inside that small window we are further restricted because in most cases evidence was not preserved, often even when it was defendants and their lawyers still did not know that it existed. Further despite opposition prosecutors, and states have actually moved fairly quickly in government terms to close that window. Cases as old as 50 years have been reversed driven by DNA evidence. But new rules regarding DNA are evolving and these generally limit the time that DNA driven appeals are open. Further new procedural rules are requiring that exculpatory DNA evidence must be presented at trial.
      While some of this sounds reasonable, until you consider that the effect is always to preserve the conviction of an innocent person. Further evidence proving the innocence of someone convicted in and off itself gets you nowhere. In the US there is no substantive due process. Once convicted actual innocence has almost no legal import. An appeal must be based on a procedural error. This is one of the driving factors behind both the argument that defense attorneys find “legal loopholes” and the misperception that they are constantly steering the guilty through them.

      Actual innocence does matter to a court. It is highly unlikely that any criminal defendant will have their conviction overturned based on all but the most eggregious procedural violations. “Harmless error” is a huge umbrella that allows the prosecutors and courts to preserve the convictions of those they believe are truly guilty. But though appeals court decide appeals based on procedural rather than subsequent proof of innocence, the subjective decision as to whether some procedural violation is present and whether it is harmless or serious is dramatically influenced by the courts belief that the defendant is actually innocent. Further it is very hard for evidence proving innocence to suddenly appear without its appearance creating a procedural reason for an appeal.

      But the big deal about all the more recent mostly DNA driven exonerations is that they have forced the justice system to start to perform a self examination.

      We have no idea how large the problems we have within our justice system are. All we know is that a significant percentage of defendants – particularly capitol defendants that continue to assert their innocence AND have been fortunate enough to have preserved DNA evidence that could prove guilt or innocence have subsequently been found to actually be innocent.

      There have been significantly more than 255 Death Row exoneration’s in the past decade. What is unique about those is that these would not and could not have occurred a generation ago.

      Some of our criminal justice problems are the result of malice or recklessness.
      There are a number of cases involving systemic torture to obtain confessions – but these are rare. And as egregious as these might be they are in the minority.
      The larger problem is much more innocent. Prosecutors, police, Juries, Judges have all abandoned our core principle “innocent until proven guilty”. We all still play lip service to it, but we do not believe it and we do not behave as if it is even possible most of the time.

      This is actually of critical importance. The study linked to above demonstrates all the exogenous factors that effect eyewitness recall. These same type of factors effect the entire system. If we start with a presumption of guilt then the police, prosecutors, judges, and juries all see and act differently, and are far more likely to find guilt rather than reasonable doubt.

      It is easier for even the most honest police officer, prosecutor or judge to shade their decisions toward guilt where there is doubt. Whether it is something small like failing to pursue an alternate suspect, or something eggregious like hiding evidence.

      Further Juries have been taught to trust judges, prosecutors, police – and in fact our personal security ultimately depends on those people.

      I a recent appeal that I was able to observe, nearly every prosecution witness testified differently at the hearing than they did at trial. Not a single prosecution witnesses story was consistent with their prior story – much less with other prosecution witnesses on significant questions of fact. The place the crime took place, the place of arrest, which officers were present, who was arrested, what was found and more changed from the trial to the hearing and from one witness to the next.
      The judge was actually having fun watching the appeals attorney entangling sheriffs and deputies and completely inconsistent stories. The prosecuting attorney was repeatedly warned that they were dancing on the edge of prosecutorial misconduct. The judges final decision ? Harmless error. It is never harmless error when the prosecution can not even establish the elements of the crime with its own witnesses.
      No one in this case was “evil”, or malicious, the judge, prosecutor even the officers involved were mostly decent people. But to most anyone not deaf it was obvious that their recollection of events was completely colored by their belief that the defendant was guilty. When provable facts conflicted with their testimony they revised their testimony – each in their own different way but always in the way that left the defendant guilty – even when that conflicted with the testimony of another officer.

      This case is far closer to the norm – except that in most instances additional evidence does not emerge after conviction to demonstrate the flaws in the prosecutions case.

      Nor does this mean that all or even most defendents getting less than a fair trial are innocent.

      The vast majority of criminal defendants do not get a truly fair trial. Not egregiously shocks the conscience unfair. The vast majority of criminal defendants are still guilty.

      But so long as we have lost the presumption of innocence, we will continue to convict a significant number of actually innocent people along with the guilty.

      We will never manage perfect justice – though we should always try to do better and we should always be upset that we get less than perfect justice.

      We really should do much better, but even so our criminal justice system is NOT completely unfair – it is just biased, tilted too heavily in favor of police and prosecutors.
      We will always occasionally convict an innocent person. We should strive to keep that as low as possible, but it is always going to be reality – and we should not forget that.

      Pretending otherwise is dangerous self deception.

      But when we consider executing people we should always remember that though our criminal justice system is actually good – it is far from perfect, and we convict and punish many innocent people.

      On that alone we should be in no rush to execute people..

  72. January 3, 2013 12:42 pm

    Canada discovers that it has under estimated its economic growth by about 1% – equivalent to a doubling of its standard of living in one generation.

    http://www.csls.ca/ipm/24/IPM-24-Diewert-Yu.pdf

    Though this is about only a single factor of many factors effecting GDP, growth, profits and incomes, the gist still is that real standard of living has improved twice as much as was thought because the difference between prices and wages is higher than beleived.

    A significant factor in this is those evil imports.

    As a nation moves from the production of lower to higher value goods it imports more lower value goods. The result is that productivity goes up – more value is produced with the same labor, wages do not tend to go up – but standard of living increases because the same wages by more imported goods.

    Even Krugman grasps that trade is usually a win-win. He just fails to grasp that even “unfair” trade is a win-win.

  73. January 3, 2013 12:50 pm

    Are we more polarized than ever ?

    http://themonkeycage.org/blog/2012/03/20/maybe-the-big-sort-never-happened/

    Maybe not.

    Though our voting patterns have tended to tended to be increasingly geographically polarized, the percent of precincts where one party has more than 60% of the registered voters has declined from 50% in the 60’s to less than 15% today.

    We are less strongly affiliated with political parties, more likely to split votes, more likely to vote based on candidates than party.

  74. January 4, 2013 7:04 pm

    Wow, you totally miss the point on gun control and the meaning of the second amendment as do a startling number of Americans. The right of the citizens to bear arms is not for protection against other citizens but protection against a malevolent government, then kind of government we’ve seen develop over the last 20 years. Its startling… we attempt to explain the motives and actions of the irrational through rational discourse. Then we attempt to restrain the rational participants of our common civilization to protect us against those who care nothing for our laws. Its like pulling the covers over your head to protect you from the ghost who has just walked through a wall.

    • January 4, 2013 7:32 pm

      Indeed. The plain and simple fact is that the local police force, the FBI whatever cannot remotely “protect” anyone from a crime BEFORE it happens. They are totally reactive. So, in the face of that, how can one then turn around and advocate for gun control. If that were successful, the guns will then ONLY be in the hands of criminals and those who cannot protect us from those criminals.

      Seems pretty straightforward to me. I don’t own a gun, yet. That fact will be rectified shortly.

      • Ron P permalink
        January 5, 2013 12:26 am

        Have not seen it put as clearly and in such few words as Unsophisticated stated. And the protections against a “maleviolent” government will continue to evaporate as long as we have elected officials more interested in protecting their jobs that protecting the rights provided by the constitution. The Republican Party got rolled on the first debt limit negotiations, the Republican Party got rolled on the deficit negotiations, the Republican party will get rolled on the upcoming debt limit negotiatioon and they will get rolled on gun control.

        When you have a government without an opposition and that government believes in laws that centralize rights in the government and not individuals, you end up with a government like Venezuela, China or Russia. And we only have ourselves to blame as we keep electing individuals with only their own interest at heart.

      • January 5, 2013 9:08 am

        The GOP is truly ball-less right now and it will likely get worse. I can see a schism now that may eventually be better for the GOP. That said, the Dems are going to pile on, as they think they have some form of mandate.I don’t think that is the case.

        As for me, I joined the NRA yesterday just for spite. Of course, now I need to buy a gun but that is a detail.

      • Ron P permalink
        January 5, 2013 12:53 pm

        I know for this to happen is almost iimpossible, but wouldn’t it be nice if the Republican Party fractured into two completely separate components, leaving the original Party dead in the water. Maybe then we could find a way for a third party to rise up and attract both the centrist Republicans and “blue dog” Democrats that are dead also. Most of the citizens in this country are fiscal conservative and social liberals. Why we can not have representation in Washington makes little sense to me.

        By the way, if you decide to become active in the NRA and attend any of their gatherings, let us know how many individuals you meet that are a threat to the country or to another individual. I only know of the good things the NRA has done for years and doubt finding someone like this will be difficult.

      • January 5, 2013 1:05 pm

        Interesting thoughts. I don’t know if most Americans are fiscally conservative, although I would like to believe that. Perhaps we will find out when all these tax increases and health insurance cost increases start to really kick in.

        Here is hoping for the best (or worst) depending on how you see things.

      • Ron P permalink
        January 5, 2013 6:10 pm

        Yes, I used the wrong adjective. I should have said “many” Americans are fiscally conservative instead of “most”. But I think from most all the information I have heard over the past few years that more than 50% are fiscally conservative. However, some of those will vote the social issues over fiscal issues. And having three young adult offspring that will squeeze a penny until Lincoln shouts “stop”, they vote the social issues.

        And that is a good reason why Obama can get 6% more of the votes than Romney. What the 40+ white male votes for is not what they vote for, so we end up with a country going broke because the social issues the Democrats support is what they are voting. Maybe when the country is broke, they have no money and wonder where their next meal is coming from they will understand what they voted for now was wrong, but who can tell the younger generation anything?

        And I define social issues are a womens right to choose, dream act type legislation that allows kids brought to America and raised American to stay in America and gay rights to marry anyone they choose as the social issues of importance. It does not include contraceptive crap that was made an issue by the press and a few activist as that was a fringe issue of no importance if it were a stand alone issue..

      • January 5, 2013 6:19 pm

        You may be right, which would explain a lot.

    • Pat Riot permalink
      January 5, 2013 11:54 am

      Unsophisticated, welcome, if you are a new commenter. I would say gun rights are for protection again a malevolent government (tyranny) AND for protection against fellow citizens, who may want to dismiss our rights and break into our home or endanger us in other ways.

    • January 6, 2013 2:30 pm

      The purpose of the 2nd amendment is debatable. some of the scholarship that lead to Heller, demonstrated that liek modern politicians our founders were playing politics – the drafts and language right down to coma’s semicolons were deliberate efforts to allow different states to beleive the language meant what they wished it to.

      Conversely the debate on the 14th amendment made it clear that it was specifically intended to confer an individual right to arms to negro’s.

      If the threat of armed insurection were accepted as a legitimate constitutional purpose, then prohibitions against individuals owning machine guns, tanks, or weapons of mass destruction would be unconstitutional.

      I personally think that the possibility that individuals – particularly in their homes might be armed constitutes a legitimate restraint on police power.

      Aside from few quotes from individual founders there is no constitutional basis to believe that the 2nd amendment confers a right to overthrow the government – as appealing as that might be some days.

      • January 6, 2013 3:02 pm

        I am happy to say that a Michigan woman was armed and yesterday, she shot an intruder in her home six times. Sadly, the loser did not die. Next time he thinks of using a crowbar to unhinge a front door, perhaps he will think again.

        Then again, maybe not!

      • January 6, 2013 3:03 pm

        Make that Georgia woman.

      • January 7, 2013 11:14 am

        There are numerous incidents like this all the time.

        Immediately after Newtown there was an incident in texas where someone rushed into a Movie theater and started shooting and was stopped by someone legally carrying a gun.

        We do not know how many “mass killings” are forestalled by armed citizens, but of those that manage to get reported there appear to be 3-4 times as many Newtown like attempts that are stopped before large numbers are killed. But these do not get nearly the same press coverage.

        We have to be extremely careful about data covering only a small part of the entire story.

        The US does have more gun deaths per capita than any other developed country. We also have more deaths by violence.

        But adjusted for demographic differences those death rates are the same or lower than those of Canada, or the EU.

        Further the UK has 2-4 times the rate of violent crime the US has, and Finland is worse still. The overall rates of violent crime in the US are comparable to much of the EU.

        Broader gun ownership, more recognition of gun rights would almost certainly reduce mass killings. But it would likely increase the total number of deaths. But few of those would be worthy of weeks of coverage by the national news.

        We have spent almost a month in national angst over Newtown,

        Yet every day 25 children under 20 are killed in traffic accidents (down 30% in the last decade). Atleast 26 children 5-9 are are killed in traffic accidents.

        We are debating significant and expensive societal changes that will have significant unintended consequences in order to maybe reduce deaths from a rare event while like causing a net increase from less unusual events.

      • January 7, 2013 12:27 pm

        My point would be this:

        If you adjusted the data for gun violence committed by felons and other low lifes, you would see just how tiny the remaining gun deaths are. This would produce clarity, in that I don’t think anyone can make the case that gun laws impact the rate of gun ownership by felons and low lifes.

        Another adjustment could be for race and ethnicity (God forbid). This adjustment would just about stun you if you see the data up close. Based on these data alone, you could make the case that if gun laws are to be changed, we certainly cannot allow young black males to legally own any guns.

        The last adjustment would be to account for urban crimes and combine that with ethnicity. Now, we clearly cannot share this data, as it would upset too many liberals.

  75. Pat Riot permalink
    January 5, 2013 11:41 am

    “joined the NRA yesterday…”

    Good for you. Good for gun rights.

    It is ironic that NRA members are perceived by the far left as “gun nuts” etc. while there is that rampant abuse, disrespect, and hypocrisy regarding guns by Hollywood (as touched on by the video you posted) and such misunderstanding in general by the far left about guns.

    One of my father’s loves was hunting, so I have been around hunting, shooting, and NRA members my entire life. The hundreds of NRA members I’ve known are family men and women with nice homes and moderate lifestyles who would NEVER EVER treat a gun disrespectfully. Then there are the hundreds of strangers that one meets afield. Whether it’s next to a corn field while small game hunting or next to woods for deer hunting, you will never meet a more gentlemanly, respectful group than in the fraternity of Outdoorsmen. (Yes, there are women, but they are still the vast minority operating within a fraternity)

    Such a different picture painted by the left. Part of the problem is that the NRA itself can be extreme, as unfortunately that has been the nature of politics (to be far to one’s side) so as not to open doors to the “enemy” on the other side, as many would say the Republican party has just done, and so we see part of the bad rep for moderation.

  76. January 5, 2013 2:51 pm

    Intriguing article. Small but full of very useful stats. There is very little in here that would suggest gun control is working nor is needed for the average citizen in the US.

    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/04/16352612-weve-lost-respect-for-life-detroit-records-deadliest-year-in-decades?lite

    • January 7, 2013 11:21 am

      The actual outcome of enacting Gun control legislation has been at best inconclusive and at worst bad.

      After a Mass murder in Scotland the UK adopted sweeping gun control measures.
      Subsequently violence increased, decreased and has increased again. Regardless, it is actually running counter to worldwide trends of reduced violence.

      For the most part the US is safer – in many instances as much as 4 times safer than much of Europe.

      At the same time we have some unusual conditions such as Detroit that are particularly unsafe.

      • January 7, 2013 12:28 pm

        Indeed, if you are committed to violent acts, there is pretty much no stopping you.

      • January 7, 2013 1:41 pm

        The primary (possibly sole) benefit if any of gun control in on impulsive decisions.

        Like every tool a gun is just an amplifier. It allows converting the briefest of intentions into a powerful action very quickly.

        Someone with intent and perseverance is going to succeed regardless of whether they use a gun, or any of myriads of means available to kill people. Before there were tools of anykind nature provided us with rocks to kill each other.

  77. January 7, 2013 9:10 am

    Interesting story on the lack of inquiry in this case.

    http://www.wnd.com/2013/01/the-giant-gaping-hole-in-sandy-hook-reporting/

    • Ron P permalink
      January 7, 2013 12:53 pm

      Seems like a pattern develops when any tragedy occurs. Go down the path of least resistance and appear to being taking action.

      now one can say going after the gun lobby to ban certain weapons and enact laws to prohibit some gun ownership is not the path of least resistance, but one only has to take a future look at some of the other causes to see that is what seems to be happening.

      Drug companies pour billions into the economy. They pour billions into elections. They are one of the few industries today in America that dominate in the world economy. One thing for certain, no politician wants to piss off a drug company or their rear will be in the election cycle sling come time for reelection. So no one dares attack drug companies for side effects in situations like this. Only malpractice ambulance chasing cable TV attorneys will take on drug companies for a chance at that one big malpractice suit that comes along every few years.

      Hollywood pours millions into elections. What politician is going to take on movies and violent games? Few if any. They also want to get reelected and even though they may not be a benefactor of hollywood money, they may not have to defend against it.

      So the right wing extreme few gun owners in america become the target to make the masses beleive Washington is doing something to solve the problem when they are not doing much at all except widdle away at individual rights.

  78. January 7, 2013 11:29 am

    Apparently violence is natural – or so says Jane Goodall

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323874204578220002834225378.html?mod=lifestyle_newsreel

    “Conservatively estimated risk of violent death was 271 per 100,000″ For humans in the US the rate is 6.5/100,000 or almost 1/50th that of the Great Apes.

    Violence rates in the UK.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1196941/The-violent-country-Europe-Britain-worse-South-Africa-U-S.html

    • January 7, 2013 12:29 pm

      Al you have to do is watch Wild Kingdom to see how this all plays out.

      • January 7, 2013 1:50 pm

        Progressives do not watch Wild Kingdom. It goes against their view of a friendly earth mother being raped and pillaged by evil humans.

        I just had a tenant move out. She was a typical tree hugger, member of PETA, the Humane League, SPCA, …
        She had 11 cats. She left them – outside, without food, with night time temperatures of 20F.
        I am not a Cat person, but this is just cruel.

        But I think it is typical of progressive values. Blissful ignorance of the fact that nature has no entitlements. Our natural rights do not include survival at the expense of others.

      • January 7, 2013 3:16 pm

        That story in instructive and sad. I could no more leave a cat outside to freeze than a child.

        what a dimwit she must have been.

  79. DanM permalink
    January 7, 2013 2:37 pm

    I know I am late to this discussion, but I discovered this web site while searching the internet for methods to return US Leadership to more moderate roots. What I see going on at the Federal Level and on-line is nothing short of two extreme sides prepared to start a civil war over issues. I tend to think of myself as a Republican even though I seem to agree more often with Democrats over the issues. Why am I a Republican? Well, most of the issues I think of as ‘social’ issues rather than ‘governmental’ issues. While laws regarding social issues determine our culture and seem to be the concern of liberals, governmental issues determine the preservation of our way of life as those Americans who lived before us enjoyed being Americans and are held dearly by Republicans. Additionally, those on the Left seem to have a penchant for turning a ‘discussion’ on issues into name-calling and mud-slinging fests that do more harm than good and I don’t care to be associated with that type of person.

    In my opinion, the top issue is ensuring the economic stability of our nation by maintaining the principles of our economic prosperity that have led us to become the most productive and innovative country in the world. Liberals argue that the ‘thieves’ on Wall Street are responsible for our current economic collapse, that George Bush was just so ‘stupid’ that he let us fail. Liberals argue for Socialism (communism, whatever –ism you want to describe that ‘shares’ equally among everyone – human nature does not allow for such a utopian government or society). We did this to ourselves folks. We created Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to involve the government in the loan-making business. We passed legislation in the name of ‘equality’ for everyone in every case and forced banks to make loans that they otherwise would not have made based on the applicant’s financial ability to pay the loan back. Inventive Wall Streeters somehow found a way to profit from risky loans (I still haven’t figured that one out). Hopefully you other Moderates (and I assume you are also financially responsible) have wondered over the years how it is that the guy next door can afford a new 4-wheel drive truck, a snowmobile, motor home, pool and garden tractor when you make more money and couldn’t afford to put gas in the truck’s tank for a month. We did this to ourselves to the point that other countries have been lured into bailing us out and much like the Japanese in the 80s, the Chinese are beginning to ‘own’ America. I visited the USSR a week after the fall of Communism and I can tell you first hand it does not work – but I feel that’s the way we are going. Without a viable, vital financial system, the government can’t fix your roads; provide protection from crime or fire, and many other services provided by it.

    Preservation of our freedoms is what makes us Americans. Yes, the shooting of toddlers in a school was an occasion for sadness. I hear so many people upset – about the NRA and ‘assault-style’ weapons. I hear less about how we protect our children from potential future attacks. The NRA, after a brief silence on the issue following the event, said that they recommend armed, trained personnel on-campus as deterrence. On Facebook, my liberal, college educated friends responded with scorn and ridicule asking if the NRA was going to pay for the guards, why the NRA was such a dastardly organization for advocating against gun laws and control. Accusations of illegal arms sales to bolster the NRA’s lobby have been rampant. Folks, the NRA lobbies for our rights as Americans as spelled out in our Constitution. It fairly represents a majority of Americans. But more realistically, how can the NRA ‘block’ the votes made by Senators and Representatives when they have no vote in the House and Senate? The last time gun laws were put in place, a large number of incumbents found themselves unemployed the day after the election. If this is such a ‘critical’ issue, they should be voting as they believe their constituents want them to and re-election be dammed.

    Bans and Laws like these just don’t work. Prohibition was a huge failure. It resulted in corrupt government officials and crime rates that went through the roof. A ban on ‘assault-style’ weapons is like saying we are going to prevent further fatalities on our highways caused by drunk drivers by banning wine.

    I used to be one who asked, ‘What the heck does anyone need with a semi-automatic rifle’? Then my son got involved in shooting. He has WWII rifles from several of the combatant countries, most of which shoot every bit as fast and with a much higher caliber than the ‘assault-style’ weapons currently being looked at by the government. He also owns ‘assault-style’ weapons. We love to go to the range to shoot at targets. We don’t hunt, but the calibers of all his rifles are the same as those used by hunters all over the world with the exception of Elephant hunters. He knows the history of each of his weapons, its variants, and its notable marksmen. He has carefully restored each of his weapons and knows them inside and out. He treats them with respect and handles them with extreme care. Restrict clips to a smaller number of rounds? That just means more 5 second breaks between shots. It does not deter.

    My point of this long diatribe is that there is way more to this gun issue than hunting and defending Liberty. Like bowling, car collecting, stamp collecting and any other hobby, this sport provides a social outlet for people with like interests – part of the freedom to pursue happiness, also a written part of our Constitution. Everyone wants a fool-proof answer to the recent shootings, but in our day and age, no one can guarantee that you will return from work, school or even the grocery with 100% certainty.

    What causes a person to shoot up a school? Video Games! TV! Movies! If that is so, what inspired John Wayne Gacy? Ted Bundy? Jeffery Dahmer? When I went to elementary school, there were special programs for kids identified as ‘different’. They were kept separate from us, even having their own transportation. About the time I went to Junior High School, the ‘special’ kids were mainstreamed into the school by well-meaning but misguided people who wanted ‘equal’ education for their kids. Because of this ‘mainstreaming’ my class acquired an individual that was bigger and stronger than the biggest teacher we had and who had no qualms about swinging a valise-sized briefcase at your head during change of classroom. Along the way, the specially-trained staff was no longer needed for these individuals and we have lost that professional career forever. Again, regardless of our good intentions, we did this to ourselves.

    Current proposed legislation is aimed at the eventual elimination of all firearms. As a moderate, I cannot willfully sit by and let one of our rights as Americans be summarily erased.

    Thanks for starting this forum Mr. Bayan. My goal is to bring moderation back to our government. What can be done to achieve it?

    • January 7, 2013 3:17 pm

      Welcome Dan!

      • DanM permalink
        January 8, 2013 10:12 am

        Thanks!

    • Ron P permalink
      January 7, 2013 4:21 pm

      Dan, nice to hear from a new voice. I too found this site while trying to find one that allowed different views to be discussed without the massive putdowns, name calling and other negative comments when one posted something that others did not agree with on other “moderate(?) sites. I am also one of the newer individuals to this site, but since coming I have found that there are disagreements on subjects, but not too much in the way of derogatory comments when one does not agree. Most of the time the comments are directed to the positions and not the individual.

      That is not to say it does not happen, but it seems to be isolated when it does. Hope you find the same enjoyment that I have found so far.

    • January 8, 2013 10:48 am

      Welcome Dan;

      I found your remarks interesting and share most of them.

      The left and right are not homogenous – even if we all tend to portray them that way.
      Nor do our values fall on a simple left right scale. Few of us fit perfectly into a specific political identity or ideology.

      Whatever the conditions there is always a way to profit. I can profit from the drug war by selling drugs, or I can do so by selling prisons. Wall Street profited by creating and selling the type of loans government wanted from them.
      Markets are not free just because they gleefully and profitably do as government wants.
      They are only free when government is not providing rewards and incentives, or offering bailouts.
      So long as government has the power to offer rewards and incentives, or to punish and impose barriers people we will seek to leverage that government power to our own benefit.

      There are aspects of our past that were superior to the present.
      There is no debate that the quality of our education has declined over the past several decades. but those areas where our world has gotten worse are the exception rather than the rule. The trend in nearly all areas has been improvement. Our lives are better even today than a few decades ago.

      Those areas such as public schools where things have declined over the past century are universally those with the greatest government control.

      • January 8, 2013 1:07 pm

        It is fair to say that in the areas where things have devolved, the government has had a heavy hand. Public education is one, the cost of college and medical care, another.

      • DanM permalink
        January 8, 2013 3:26 pm

        asmith – By and large, I agree with you. I believe there needs to be some room at the local levels of Government to encourage economic growth; things like tax relief for a specific, specified period to encourage new businesses. Incentives at the National level seem too self-serving on the parts of the elected officials there. jbastiat – yes, I agree 100%

  80. January 7, 2013 5:47 pm

    Glad you brought up Prohibition, Dan, and the reality that it actually created more crime. I’m sure that gun control activists would say “But, alcohol doesn’t kill anyone,” when the truth is that the arguments for the Volstead Act sounded very similar to the arguments for banning “assault weapons:” alcohol was inherently evil and caused crime, injury and death….

    The self-righteousness of some anti-gun activists is similar to the attitude of The Temperance Society, come to think of it….

    • January 7, 2013 7:25 pm

      Indeed it does, The imperative of being “right” is simply too tempting for the do-gooders.

    • DanM permalink
      January 8, 2013 10:40 am

      About a year ago I read ‘Last Call’ by Daniel Okrent regarding the rise and fall of Prohibition. It interested me because frankly I knew very little about the how and why of the subject. The devilishly clever maneuvers and tactics used by a great MINORITY to change the very Constitution to govern the entire country were startling and frankly frightening. I see with our current Federal Administration the very same tactics being employed to implement programs to again govern the majority. The gun control issue to me is a linchpin in the strategy being used by the Administration. Just as a criminal will be deterred from entering your house if there is even the potential that he may lose his life due to an armed owner/occupant, the Administration will hesitate to implement programs it is well aware may outrage a majority of Americans to take up arms as directed by the Constitution, they will continue to bide their time until such a threat is minimized.

      I want to believe that gun control/restrictions/bans/elimination will never be passed in the US, but we’ve seen The National Health Care Act voted in without anyone conversant in the details of the bill or a detailed analysis of it’s potential impact on our Country. I didn’t expect the re-election of the current administration (although I wasn’t crazy about the only other candidate with a snowball’s chance of winning). I didn’t expect that our media (which isn’t really ‘our’ media) to seemingly function like that great Socialist news organ, Pravda. I also understand that Fox News feels the need to match outrageous, far-left statements with equally outrageous far-right reports. But where does that leave us, the majority who understand that everything in moderation isn’t necessarily a bad thing nor wishy-washy.

      I wouldn’t be so concerned about banning assault weapons if I didn’t think it would pass. I see assault weapons legislation as the small crack in the bottom of the dam we call our rights. It frankly scares me that the possibility is there.

      • January 8, 2013 11:01 am

        I have not read “Last Call” but I have read much about Wilson era politics.
        The Federal Reserve, The 16th amendment, Womens Suffrage, and prohibition were all intrinsically politically interwoven. They were also essential to the later establishment of the New Deal.

        Prohibition actually worked – if your definition of worked is that it reduced alcohol consumption and improved health. Of course it created organised crime and made a significant percentage of us into law breakers.

      • January 8, 2013 1:09 pm

        I doubt that you can substantiate the assertion that health improved during Prohibition, tied to reduced alcohol consumption. Then again, I know you will try.

      • January 8, 2013 11:34 am

        Dan: Welcome to our little ideological boxing ring. I have a question for you and the other pro-gun folks here: why do you assume that the prospective banning of semi-automatic weapons is just the first step on a slippery slope toward the outlawing of ALL guns? We’ve already banned automatic weapons (e.g., the old-time “tommy guns” used by Prohibition-era gangsters), and that ban has been in place for a long time without any erosion of overall gun rights.

        You don’t need a gun with a 30-round clip to take out a mugger, a home intruder or even a nutjob equipped with semi-automatic weapons. A simple handgun would do the job, and nobody is talking about banning simple handguns, hunting rifles or other conventional guns.

        So why all the hysteria over infringement on gun rights? Isn’t this just another excuse to rally the conservative base against the government? Do you really think you’ll need semi-automatic weapons to ward off government troops attacking your homesteads? (Good luck: if the government ever got into the business of raiding private homes, your semi-automatics would be no match for their tanks and bombs.)

        In short, a ban on semi-automatics would help save lives, and any measure that saves lives is worth investigating. It won’t eliminate the problem of gun violence in America, but it would help keep the most dangerous weapons out of the reach of demented slackers with homicidal fantasies. And yes, ban those 30-round gun clips, too… anything to make it more difficult for another Newtown to happen.

      • January 8, 2013 1:16 pm

        Rick,

        Please support your statement that a ban on semi-automatic weapons will save lives. I bet you can’t.

        Two- the issue on any ban is this: government works like the boiling frog. They started this in 1966 with Medicare and Medicaid and will likely finish it in the 2020s.

        So, gun owners are being very logical when they resist ANY ban. The first cut, is the deepest.

      • Ron P permalink
        January 8, 2013 1:48 pm

        Rick, it is my understanding that you can own a machine gun if you have filled out
        ATF form 4; section 5320.4 and it is approved by local law enforcement. We have a local politician that was nominated for a position on a board and since he owns a machine gun and filled out this form, he withdrew his name from consideration due to the problems with gun ownership at this time. Could be wrong but thats whats in the local paper.

        As for rights, one only needs to look at the wiretap laws to find out how one small step into rights is a giant leap for the government. Wiretap laws were meant for domestic uses when criminal activities werre suspected. They were meant for a very limited use. Now theyy are used for international monitoring of any calls anyone makes. You go to the middle east, call home and that call can be monitored if you use key words or phrases that hit certain requirements. Each small step leads to a larger step.

        Another small step is domestic drone surveillance. If you own a home with a fenced in back yard that your wife enjoys sunbathing next to the pool without a top on, do you expect her privacy to be protected or do you expect a drone to be overhead viewing what is going on the the neighborhood? Is this an enfringement of rights or is this expected to fight crime? What about drones viewing inside second story windows of homes?

        Gun rights is the same. One small step by government leads to one more step. If you want the laws changed, then amend the constitution to clearly define gun ownership and what “right to bear arms” means today. We need to stop interpreting what the founders meant based on liberal or conservative thinking on SCOTUS. That court was suppose to be non political, but one can not say that for the court since the Roosevelt era.

      • January 8, 2013 1:06 pm

        I can say that personally, I would have no problem getting my hands on the gun of my choice should a ban of some sort is enacted. Of course, the price would be higher….

      • January 8, 2013 7:07 pm

        Rick, re: your comment that this is a rallying cry for the conservative base, I see it as just the opposite. I think you would be surprised to see the number of moderates and liberals who are gun owners and second amendment supporters. To the far left, however, the idea of gun ownership by private citizens has always been threatening…the vast majority of gun owners are not arming against the government, but, for some reason, that is how the left perceives it. On the other hand, I do wonder why it is necessary for law-abiding gun owners to have their names and addresses be a matter of public record? When the Governor of NY starts talking about confiscating legally owned firearms (which he has) it strikes me that is is not particularly paranoid for gun owners to believe that the government might raid their homes.

      • Dan Markum permalink
        January 9, 2013 12:04 pm

        I agree!

        ________________________________

    • January 8, 2013 10:55 am

      Prohibition does not work.

      http://reason.com/blog/2013/01/07/prohibitions-dont-work

      Government works when it dictates what we can not do, rather than what we can not own.
      When the actions that it punishes violate clear norms held nearly unanimously by the people – not just simple majorities, and when its prohibitions are rooted in easily understandable principles – thou shalt not kill. And when it punishes us for what we have done rather that prohibits what we might do.

      • DanM permalink
        January 8, 2013 6:05 pm

        Rick Bayan – Thanks again for hosting this site. My simplest answer to your reply concerning banning ‘Assault-Type’ weapons is best exemplified by the graphic on the following link:

        I’m always ready with a long explanation though.

        As noted by another blogger here, automatic weapons never really went away, they were just put under such severe restrictions and the potential penalties for violating them were so great that they only live on in a very small sector of the overall firearms sport. I had a friend who was an automatic weapons dealer. He had to pass stringent background checks to get his special license, but he could sell automatic weapons to others licensed as he was. So, they’re still out there.

        Now, on to ‘assault-style’ weapons. Because the shooter at the school used one, the weapon was found ‘guilty’ in the court of Liberal opinion as to why these children were gunned down. The weapon in question shot a .223 caliber bullet. Note that the very same weapon without modification, can fire a .22 caliber bullet. Not very high powered at all – I have shot the same weapon and can attest that the .223 round isn’t very ‘high-powered’. The Boy Scouts have used .22 Caliber rifles at their camps for years.

        As the picture on the link shows, the ‘civilian’ style .223 caliber weapon has the same capability as the ‘Assault-style’ .223 caliber weapon. Yes, te ‘assault-style’ weapon does ’look’ meaner but so did the Batmobile from the 1960s show and it was simply a Ford Futura with a facelift. Same capabilities, different window-dressing.

        OK, so maybe rate of fire is the real problem. Now we’re talking semi-automatic vs bolt-action. Semi-automatic allows you to shoot the weapon just as fast as you can pull the trigger until you run out of bullets. Many ‘civil’ firearms used for competitive target shooting, sport and hunting are semi-automatic. Most ‘Assault-style’ weapons are semi-automatics. So in essence, banning ‘assault-style’ weapons simply takes one class of semi-automatic weapon away from the crazy shooter. As I have said before, you won’t stop drunk driving if you ban wine. Same thing with banning supposed ‘assault-style’ weapons to prevent future incidents. Once banned and everything remaining the same, the next school shooter will use a legal semi-automatic and now a lot of ‘civil’ rifles and a high percentage of handguns will be declared ‘guilty’ and the debate begins again until they too are banned. The nasty side of this ‘clean’ discussion involves the use of shotguns. If a crazy really wanted to make a statement, he’d use a shotgun, semi-automatic or not. The resulting abattoir would make the strongest stomach turn.

        As I said previously, my son has several military weapons. The M-1 Garand, carried by our troops in WWII is a semi-automatic and has a 7 shot clip. At the end of the clip, the magazine self-ejects with an audible ‘ping’. One need only slap another clip in (2-3 seconds from vest to the weapon) and the bolt slams home by itself and you’re ready to fire. His British Enfield is a bolt-action rifle with a magazine (meaning that you have to pull the bolt back to eject the spent shell and the magazine automatically feeds the next round into the chamber, closing the bolt makes the weapon ready to fire). Sound cumbersome? Yes it is, but in the wars the British fought in India, a practiced infantryman was expected to meet the standards of the ‘Mad Minute’; 60 aimed shots in sixty seconds (this includes changing magazines since the Lee-Enfield magazine holds 10 rounds).

        So, this addresses rate of fire and magazine capacity (not really a player as clips are very inexpensive and in a lot of cases resemble strips of metal rather than anything used to load a gun with). My point is that there is VIRTUALLY NO DIFFERENCE between what the Liberals and Liberal Media call ‘assault-style’ weapons and the ones they claim they are not going after.

        It took 20 minutes for the police to respond to the school shooting in Newtown. I don’t blame the tragedy on the response time of the police. But one must also remember that all Police and Fire operate on the well-established operational order that they have to go home at the end of their shift. If there is no one in a house and entering it will endanger the life of a fireman, the fire forces will watch it burn down. Can’t blame them. But in the time it took for a response, twenty persons were killed. That’s 1 person per minute. As I understand it, the shooter loosed somewhere near 200 rounds in this time (one might argue that the shooter was envisioning himself as an action hero from a movie by ‘spraying and praying’ and actually did MUCH LESS damage than he could have had he been more methodical). He had a rifle and 2 pistols, the occupants including the adults were defenseless for 20 minutes. Had he been going for strictly high body count, he could have used ANY weapon (including a Boy Scout .22) to execute well over 100 people; after all, he was ‘in charge’ by virtue of being armed. I would argue that he could have done a great deal of damage armed with only a samurai sword in those 20 minutes.

        As evidenced by Prohibition, total bans don’t work. The weapons ban in Australia has led to a skyrocketing crime rate (search youtube for Australian gun ban for the exact stats). And in the case of firearms, a partial ban will not cut it when one considers the objective of the ban as ‘protecting our school children’. Connecticut’s gun regulations and bans prior to this incident were held up as the shining National Standard by Liberals all over the Country. Since the shooting, no one is mentioning them. They were meaningless to one person who was intent on violating ‘thou shall not kill.’

        But the objective doesn’t seem to be the protection of our children. Instead of looking for systemic answers, the media and Liberals have jumped on a specific type of firearm that ‘just looks mean’. What good is a weapon of this type? What value do they have? I would ask what good is collecting stamps? Baseball cards? Vintage cars (cars CAN kill people, vintage or not), etc? In the year since my son got into this sport, I’ve come into contact with a wide variety of activities involving firearms. Like most hobbies, there is a lot more than meets the eye. With firearms, the width and breadth of the variety of activities seems to be limitless.

        People make the mistake of saying ‘Home defense and hunting are the only things I can think of to use a firearm for.’ There’s so much more to this sport. We met a lot of really nice people who are always willing to help and provide advice. The people who participate in the myriad shooting ‘styles’ are some of the nicest people you would ever meet. Participants value safety above all else and it is well-known that everyone on the range is responsible for everyone’s safety. The strongest drink I have ever seen on a range is root beer. I myself did not realize just how huge this sport is until my son got involved. It’s not just a bunch of rednecks out blasting away at bottles (though it is fun). Colleges actually award full-ride scholarships for target shooting and two young ladies from my last gun club are attending College for free. Youths participating in this sport are the most level-headed, safety conscious kids I have ever met (most of the time they call you ‘Sir’!). It may sound ridiculous to an anti-gun person, but this is a pastime that brings people and families together – and in this day and age, I’d approve of octopus wrestling if it allows us to have more in-depth relationships with our children and others in our communities. The right to pursue happiness ring any bells out there?

        No, I don’t expect to defend my home from the Federal Government (but remember the concept of Posse Comitatus – no one is sending the US military to my door). Based on the level of shouting done by the Liberal Media and Left-wingers over this issue makes me suspect that they are using this unfortunate incident as a springboard to get their foot in the door to aid in reaching their ultimate goal – this total disarmament of the US public.

        Following 9/11 no one even remotely mentioned banning airliners, but look how many innocents were killed (worse, how many leaped 110 stories as a result of those airliners’ actions?). People actually blamed the buildings themselves for falling (I was amazed they stood after getting hit – I’ve been near a large commercial style jet full of fuel that burned to the tires and the heat was indescribable over 200 yards away). So, instead of anthropomorphing the blame on the airliners what was done? Airport security was tightened. The Federal Government has literally given billions to the States to bolster Police, Fire, Ambulance, HazMAT, Hospitals, Public Health, Public Works in Homeland Security funds to improve our deterrence and response capabilities to terrorist attack. Yet when the NRA, an organization with the mission to defend one of our Constitutional Rights that were seen as so important they are written right in it recommended armed professionals to deter future incidents, the Liberals and media immediately jumped on the cost of such a program. We can spend billions on other things, but protecting our children is too costly? If one cannot smell a cover story here, I suggest they are dead or dying already.

        Thanks for your ear!

  81. January 8, 2013 12:14 am

    “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing.” ~ Adolph Hitler

    “If the opposition disarms, well and good. If it refuses to disarm, we shall disarm it ourselves.”~ Josef Stalin

    “All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The communist party must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party.” ~ Mao Tse Tung

    ““The measures adopted to restore public order are: First of all, the elimination of the so-called subversive elements…They were elements of disorder and subversion. On the morrow of each conflict I gave the categorical order to confiscate the largest possible number of weapons of every sort and kind. This confiscation, which continues with the utmost energy, has given satisfactory results.” ~ Benito Mussolini

    “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.” ~ The Dalai Lama

    Guns scare me…there are no guns in my house, and, in the past, i insisted that my husband sell guns that he inherited from his uncle, because I was nervous about possessing them – we had small kids at the time, and all of those “kids shooting themselves accidentally” scared the hell out of me.. Lately, i am reconsidering, and looking into purchasing a handgun and learning to use it. Thank you, gun control activists, lol.

    • January 8, 2013 9:18 am

      I am in the same boat. My bro owns about 25 guns, makes his own bullets, and is a winning marksman at competitions. Me? Never owned a gun.

      That said, I just joined the NRA and will be buying a security shotgun sometime this year.

      If Obama is for it, I am pretty much sure to veer in the opposite direction.

      • DanM permalink
        January 8, 2013 10:43 am

        Getting my NRA membership today. Excellent quotes from those who have succeeded in dominating their ‘free’ societies.

  82. January 8, 2013 11:03 am

    A different kind of gun control

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/16/opinion/16reynolds.html

  83. January 8, 2013 11:05 am

    The hypocracy of hiring armed guards to protect you after you publish the names and addresses of tens of thousands of law abiding gun owners.

    http://libertarianstandard.com/2013/01/03/maybe-the-journal-news-did-us-a-favor-after-all/

    • January 8, 2013 11:11 am

      I would also note for Rick that this issue is not essentially different from requiring disclosure of political contributions.

      We need open government – that means the actions of GOVERNMENT must be totally in the open. It does not mean that the information government keeps on the legal acts of private citizens should be public knowledge.

      No US government allows public access to the tax returns of its citizens. Even different branches of government are prohibited from access to that information.

      To the greatest extent possible government should not be collecting information on the private lives of citizens. To the extent it must it should not be sharing that information.

      But virtually everything that government does should be completely available to the people.

      Government actions are public. Most non-government actions are private.

      • January 8, 2013 1:12 pm

        Our right to privacy means nothing to this government and for that matter, any government. Think about it: the right to keep the fact that you have AIDS is sacrosanct, but the fact that you have a gun license is in the public domain? The “right to an abortion” tied to your right to privacy? Whoa baby.

        Strange world we live in.

    • Ron P permalink
      January 8, 2013 12:57 pm

      I understand the concerns about publishing a map of gun ownership, but I would think the ones that should be upset are the home owners that show there home to not have a weapon. If you are a thief and want to rob someone of the belongings of value, whose house are you going to break into? The one where the owner has a gun or the one where the owner does not own a gun? For some reason, it seems to me to be safer breaking into the one where a gun is not present, but since I am basically a coward when it comes to getting shot, I might be wrong.

      • January 8, 2013 1:17 pm

        You are correct and there have already been stories that indicate the criminals love the data. Makes their jobs safer.

    • January 8, 2013 1:10 pm

      Really, talk about proving the other side’s point for them.

  84. January 8, 2013 11:20 am

    The seen and the unseen – Cash for Clunkers version.

    http://news.yahoo.com/why-cash-clunkers-hurt-environment-more-helped-024848694.html

    Why is it that people beleive that government can act without making more of a mess than they started with regardless of good intentions.

    • January 8, 2013 1:14 pm

      What a load of crap this program was. My cousin ( a multi-millionaire) was induced to destroy her Lexus because she got this dumbass credit. That car would have made someone a fine used car and it was NOT a polluter.

      My cousin is also a dumbass but that is another story.

  85. January 8, 2013 11:21 am

    What if the US went over the Fiscal Cliff – Spending cuts. As a cartoon graphic

  86. Ron P permalink
    January 8, 2013 2:32 pm

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/alex-jones-piers-morgan-video-140201992.html

    This is what is wrong in America today. No one can have a conversation about any political position without an arguement developing. Why is it only those with extreme views on any issue are in the public limelight?

    The nonpolitical middle seems to be letting this country go to hell and they don’t seem to care. Maybe when it gets there they will then wake up and see what the far left and far right did. Hopefully the damage will be repairable.

  87. Rob Anderson permalink
    January 8, 2013 6:22 pm

    @DanM

    Thanks, sir, for an outstanding comment!

  88. Pat Riot permalink
    January 8, 2013 9:40 pm

    Score another one for our civil liberties:

    http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nypd-controversial-stop-frisk-policy-ruled-unconstitutional-article-1.1235578

    I think it’s important to be careful saying “the government this…” and “the government that…”
    There are U.S. government officials and government workers who despise tyranny and who love freedom and liberty. Let’s not lump the whole U.S. government together as New World Order statists, even though there is statist overeach that is alarming.

    • January 9, 2013 11:10 am

      Did anyone really expect that warantless stops and searches on the public streets without any basis was going to be held constitutional ?

      I think this somewhat clearly brings out lines of demarqation.

      Of course stopping people on the street and frisking them makes all of us safer.

      There are many many things government could do that would make us safer that would also make us less free.

      This is just one example.

      We would all be safer if government could track all of us all the time.

      It is easy to say “I love freedom and liberty and despise tryanny” but in this instance a minor sacrifice of freedom for some people will make us all better off.

      That is nearly always true about nearly every infringement on our liberty.

      Further it presupposes that we can really know that we would be better off.

      We are once again confusing the obvious seen positive benefits of something with all the unseen or unknowable consequences, side effects.
      Even a small consequence times 300M people could result in substantial real net harm.

      “And now it comes to it at last. You will give me the One Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord, you will set up a Queen, and I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night. Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain…all shall love me and despair!”

      The worst tyranny is not that of despots like Stalin, but when we surrender liberty for the common good, for some obvious good. That freedom is always lost, we are always the worse for it, but there will be no revolt against the soft slavery of the common good. Each of us will feel guilty as we chafe against velvet ropes. But we will still be less free and we will still all be worse off.

      “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

      • January 9, 2013 12:20 pm

        If you examine the progressive creed, we are all here to serve the “common good” which in their world, is the state.

        FDR and Woodrow Wilson have returned in the form of a half-black President. Cool.

  89. January 9, 2013 9:44 am

    Regarding the paper that published the map of legal gun owners…Gawker has now published a 400 page list of all of the legally registered gun owners in NYC.

    I have read several reports about women with restraining orders who are now fearful that their abusive ex-husbands and boyfriends will be able to find them, prison guards who have had inmates tell them that they know where their families live and will harm them if the guards piss them off, lawyers and retired cops who have been stalked by vengeful criminals that they have put in prison, etc…….

    This is truly outrageous in my opinion…innocent lives are being intentionally put at risk in so many ways….and by sanctimonious hypocrites, who say that they are doing this to help “keep us safer” from gun violence?? Ugh.

    • January 9, 2013 9:55 am

      Yes, Priscilla, but these are just DETAILS. You clearly don’t understand how passionate the newspaper feels about this issue. So what if a few gun owners get hurt, in a sense, they deserve it, given, you know, that they legally own guns.

      We need to send you to camp. so that your attitude gets adjusted.

      Indeed, the inmates have taken over the asylum.

      • January 9, 2013 11:20 am

        These lists are also lists of who to rob – Anyone NOT on those lists.
        It not only makes the gun owners less safe, but it makes everyone else less safe too.

        I do not have a functioning registered firearm in my home, but if a list of local gun owners names and addresses were published I might feel compelled to go out and purchase a weapon.
        The absence of my address on that list would be a giant red flag inviting burglars to my home.

    • January 9, 2013 10:33 am

      Priscilla and Rich: Here’s a perfect example of how extremism begets more extremism. We have the pro-NRA crowd insisting that they won’t give up their semi-automatics; in fact, they’re going out and stocking up on the weapons. The left gets alarmed by their militancy, then goes off the deep end by publishing lists of all legal gun owners. Next stop (just wait): gun enthusiasts forming anti-government militia groups. (Can you see where this is headed?)

      The obvious moderate solution is to protect our right to own conventional guns but ban semi-automatic weapons and the clips that go with them. As I’ve said before, the only purpose of such weapons is to kill large numbers of people with minimal effort. (If you want to go practice shooting, you can still use old-fashioned rifles the way we did when I was at summer camp. They’re accurate, and they require a certain amount of skill to hit the target.)

      Can’t you see that the militant stance of gun-rights people is only going to push the other side toward more extreme anti-gun sentiment (and possibly legislation)? Whatever the final outcome in such a scenario, more people are going to be disgruntled than if we compromised up front.

      Did any of you see the two recent Piers Morgan interviews with pro-gun spokesmen? In one interview, Morgan flipped out. In the second interview, the gun spokesman flipped out. We’re already at the point where rational dialogue about guns is becoming impossible. This is why moderates are indispensable members of society. :)

      • January 9, 2013 11:33 am

        Rick;

        Rather than use labels devoid of meaning like “semi-automatic” try describing what it is you wish to ban or regulate ?

        Can you define what a “semi-automatic” weapon is ?

        The AR-15 that Adam Lanza used is sometimes called a “Semi-automatic” weapon – but it was not covered by the 1994 Assault weapons ban.

        Regardless, prohibition has an abysmal history. It is irrelevant whether you are seeking to ban alcohol, abortions, drugs, …..

        It is peoples actions that are good or evil, not the possessions they use to facilitate those actions.

        The next Adam Lanza – and there will be another, could fill his car with gasoline, or diesel fuel and fertilizer and drive it into a crowded school gym or cafeteria and set it off.

        Should we ban cars ? or Gasoline ? or Diesel fuel ? or fertilizer ?

        There is no limit to human ingenuity.

        Otherwise law abiding people, will be made criminals by all your bans.

        When you create laws that a significant portion of otherwise law abiding people – even a few percent minority, will or even just want to disobey, you destroy respect for the law.

        Government, law, needs to be limited. Among other reasons because it is critical that we respect and obey law.

        Law is not entitled to our respect because a majority – or even a powerful minority managed to enact it.
        It is entitled to our respect because nearly all of us choose to respect it as something wise and good.

        If that is not the case then the problem lies with the law and those imposing it, not with those who chaffe at the law.

      • January 9, 2013 11:44 am

        http://www.people-press.org/2012/12/20/after-newtown-modest-change-in-opinion-about-gun-control/

        The long term trend as been towards greater support for gun rights.

        Despite a historic nearly 2:1 advantage in popular support for gun control in the past, since 2009 proponents and opponents of gun control have been nearly equal in numbers with minor but not enduring shifts with each of these Newtown like incidents.

        At this moment gun sales of all kinds are booming, specifically because of fear that government is going to do something stupid.

        I will personally admit that the desire to run out and buy a gun is higher than it has ever been in my life.

        If I seriously thought that government would impose significant gun controls, I would likely purchase precisely those weapons that government was intent on prohibiting before it did so.

        I might never consider buying an “Assault weapon” but threaten to make it impossible for me to do so, and i will buy one now, rather than permanently lose the choice.

      • DanM permalink
        January 9, 2013 11:48 am

        Rick, in a nutshell: The firearms you are talking about are merely ‘gussied up’ versions of the very firearms you see as legal. The original Ford Mustang (Hot car eh?) was built by designer Lee Iacocca on the chassis of the Ford Falcon to save money on retooling (my grandmother drove a Ford Falcon in the 60s). I think we can agree that stripping away the body style does not change the capabilities of the basic chassis. The body styling of the Mustang didn’t make it perform any better/worse than the Falcon, and no one would mistake my grandmother’s car (complete with flower taped to the antenna) as a ‘Sweet Ride’.

        I’m not a gun nut. While I enjoy shooting and have shot ‘expert’ on every military range I ever was on, I am not really ‘into’ it. However, having witnessed the political machinations of the last 4 years, things are being put into law that our Grandparents would shake their heads in sadness over, people getting elected (and re-elected) with not one word over how divided our country has become because of these new programs and laws, I see a total ban of all firearms as a distinct, unnerving possibility. These things have made me more vigilant and less willing to sit back and wait for the ‘right’ thing to be done by our elected officials. Prohibition was instituted BY A MINORITY and that fact really concerns me.

        The Liberal Media and anti-gun proponents reacted immediately after the Newtown incident with less than admirable tactics. Calling every weapon that has a military ‘look’ regardless of capability as an ‘assault weapon’ is blatantly dishonest to those who know these firearms. The media recently reported a shooting in another location but specifically didn’t mention the type of weapon involved, however the article went on to tie this incident to the Newtown incident, specifically mentioning the ‘high-powered assault weapon’ used there. The shooter in the incident could have used an old colt .45 judging by the information of the article, but by mentioning the Newtown incident, one is led to believe the ‘guilty’ firearm was again a ‘high-powered assault weapon’. That’s not honest, nor is it ‘unbiased’.

        Anti-gun proponents have broadcast downright lies and innuendo not backed by fact and broadcast them to all. They create statistics and represent them as ‘facts’ (less people will be killed if assault firearms were banned – really? You mean I can’t shoot a ‘civil’ version of the assault style firearm as effectively? Oh contraire!). That’s not honest.

        Anti-gun folk spew the statistic that there are 400,000 ‘incidents’ involving guns last year. To the uninformed, that’s a frightening statistic; gee, 400,000… that’s a lot! But when the data is broken down, less than 4% of those incidents involved shootings resulting in ‘civilian’ deaths or injuries.

        A commentator on Fox news said the real problem Conservatives have with arguing with the Liberal crowd is that Conservatives try to keep the discourse civil and based in fact while the Liberals usually resort to raised voices and name-calling to bait their opponents into doing the same. Watch the Piers interview again – the pro-gun guy fell right into the trap and sounded like a madman while Piers sat there grinning like the cat that ate the canary. I imagine Piers thoroughly enjoyed that guy’s rant as he has had his butt handed to him by several others (including Jesse Ventura) on the same topic. I guess if you look hard enough, you can find a patsy on the other side to use. Obviously someone from the pro-gun side needs to tell that guy to get the heck out of the spotlight or get off my side! The FOX commentator recommended that the Republican party start imitating the Democratic party; yell back!

        Conservatives feel the world that made sense – everyone wanting freedom and the right to live their own lives – being legislated away somehow. If one can’t get emotional over the way you have lived your life over the past 50 years, what evokes emotions in you? We can’t all be Vulcan.

      • January 9, 2013 12:24 pm

        To be fair, Rick is a very nice guy and very affable. That said, there is a time to simply take a stand and that means that, although I don’t own a gun,, I will damn well fight to retain that right.

        Once you start handing over your rights to a statist, well, check your Nazi Germany history on that one.’

      • Pat Riot permalink
        January 9, 2013 11:52 am

        Rick, first of all, let’s set Alex Jones aside and proceed more rationally. (Jones might be on to a few things, or more than a few, but there’s hardly a better stoker of extremism.)

        Anyway, I may be Mr. Obvious with the following, but I think the key reason that extremism ignites so easily is…lack of trust with any compromises. We’re a jaded nation. We’ve all heard sales pitches too many times. How friendly the sales person is prior to the sale, and then how they become mute and unavailable after the sale! The fine print! The catch! From Watergate through the Contra hearings to the scandal de joir, we’ve lost trust. How long will it take to rebuild trust, and by what tangible, visible, measurable results?

        I believe after the general public has a better understanding of moderation, and after there is a popular moderate agenda, then it will be important to have some tangible, visible, measurable SUCCESSES for Americans to begin to trust again.

      • January 9, 2013 12:27 pm

        Yes, we should trust those reasonable people who passed a 2500 page health care law without having read it and without having it put out for public discussion and comment before a final vote.

        That was a fine example of how well this government functions. Given that, I don’t know why anyone would not trust them to approach this gun issue with sense and tact.

      • DanM permalink
        January 9, 2013 11:56 am

        To those who argue that putting trained, armed personnel in schools and having a Nationally certified and standardized plan that includes options for training, organizing and equipping school personnel and facilities to mitigate against potential future incidents as too expensive, I wonder what it will cost to implement an ‘Assault-style’ weapons ban.

        Laws, as I was told by a former State’s Attorney, are ineffective if not backed by enforcement.

      • January 9, 2013 12:28 pm

        For a government who can’t even pass a budget in the past 4 yrs, I am totally laughing at their ability to stop school shootings.

        Give me a break and take a sleeping pill.

      • January 9, 2013 12:16 pm

        Not obvious to me at all, buddy. As I indicated, the gun owners have good reason to fear progressives. History is on their side.

      • January 9, 2013 12:17 pm

        PS- Piers is a asshole posing as a so-called journalist. We should ship his sorry ass back to the UK, where he can start hacking into phones, again.

      • January 9, 2013 12:23 pm

        Rick, I do agree that rational dialogue on guns is becoming difficult. But whose fault is that? Law-abiding gun owners who are being demonized by opportunistic politicians and a thoroughly debased media? Or ideologues and demagogues on the left, who have been trying to ban guns for decades, and see the Newtown massacre as the best opportunity to achieve their goals? (haha, I guess it’s pretty obvious, from my framing of the question, where I stand on this).

        I did see clips of the Piers Morgan interviews…I also listened to an interview that Larry Kudlow did with Morgan on the radio, in which Morgan was completely rational and not at inflammatory in his rhetoric. It was an extremely sane and moderate discussion, during which Kudlow and Morgan agreed on certain points and disagreed on others.

        I realized that Morgan is not the total asshole that I took him for, merely a modern “journalist” whose job it apparently is to polarize and inflame public opinion.

        I

      • January 9, 2013 12:30 pm

        I will disagree on the level of assholeness possessed by Piers. He was simply afraid that Kudlow would make him another one. Larry is not one to be trifled with.

      • Ron P permalink
        January 9, 2013 1:06 pm

        Rick, rational dialogue is impossible today on any issue is impossible. But do you really believe that controls on semiautomatic weapons and gun clips will make any difference to those that want to buy them? Drug laws have not reduced illegal drug trade. Prohibition did nothing to reduce alcohol in the 30’s. How will another law that can’t be enforced reduce illegal guns.

        Yes, we have a problem, but another 500+ page bill making something illegal will only make another group like the drug cartels millions in illegal sales of that illegal product.

    • January 9, 2013 11:16 am

      Aside from the issue regarding those legally possessing firearms.

      It should be noted that these lists are also lists of those homes that DO NOT have guns, and therefore are safe to burglarize.

      Publishing what should be private information about specific individual private citizens, can always be used to societies detriment.

      • January 9, 2013 12:21 pm

        Since I could argue that every woman who has had an abortion is guilty of taking a life, I think we should start publishing those data also.

        Ditto anyone with AIDs. Think how dangerous they are!

      • January 9, 2013 2:21 pm

        Jbastiat;

        It is not just the obvious use of some piece of information that matters, it is also the less obvious uses – possibly even unforeseeable uses.

        It is not just the people singled out and identified, it is also the people singled out and identified because they are NOT on whatever list.

        It is not possible to foresee exactly what use can be made of some list of people.
        When that list sourced to government it is all the worse.
        We have no choice with respect to government.

    • Ron P permalink
      January 9, 2013 12:56 pm

      pearows..I am out of touch with some of these issues. So please educate me so I have all the facts. I have found individuals that I have lost touch with years ago and had no idea where they moved and now lived by doing searches on the internet. Just their names offered some information, but having just a little extra info like a professional organization or some other personal info provided me enough to find their current address.

      If I can find old school mates without too many hours on the internet, why is the publishing of information in the paper going to allow someone who wants to harm another going to make this happen. Would they not be able to find that info anyway regardless?

      I do not agree with publishing this info, but once you obtain a permit to own a gun, does anyone really believe that information will not be available through the freedom of information act?

      Rick asked earlier why some have concerns about any gun control. Could this enfringement on the right to privacy through the freedom of information act be one example of how the government takes one small step to create a giant leap?

      • January 9, 2013 1:31 pm

        Ron, I agree that it is much easier these days to locate old friends and aquaintances….but, there are those who work diligently to keep their whereabouts private and off the internet for a variety of reasons. I’ll give you two examples from my own circle:

        My college roommate, with whom I remained in close touch for about 15 years after graduation, despite her moving to Texas and then Florida, divorced her husband about 10 years ago. I subsequently discovered that it had been an abusive relationship and she moved from Florida, with her youngest child, then still a teenager, after the divorce. She stopped contacting virtually all of her old friends. I have searched for her whereabouts many, many times – she does not come up on Google, nor does she have a Facebook account under any of the names that I knew her by. I discovered the Facebook page of who I believe to be her oldest son, and I sent him a message, saying that I hoped all was well with his mother and to send her my regards. He never replied, and the next time I went to check his Facebook page, it was gone. My old friend clearly does not want to be found.

        A woman with who I worked, escaped an abusive husband, sneaking out of her house in the dead of night, with her 4 year old daughter, and flying from Michigan to NJ, where she rented a house under her father’s name and started a new life.Two years later, her husband discovered where she was living through a conversation with a mutual acquaintance who was not aware of the situation and he burst into her home one day, took her and his daughter hostage and claimed that they would all die in a double-murder/suicide (yes, he had a gun, acquired illegally). Thankfully, she was able to distract him and call 911 during the crisis, and a SWAT team saved the day…her husband was in prison for 18 months.

        Private information on the internet is a big problem for women like this. When newspapers start publishing it for the purpose of furthering a political agenda, with no regard for the risks involved, I think that is borderline, if not outrigh criminal invasion of privacy.

      • Ron P permalink
        January 9, 2013 1:58 pm

        I wonder if one of the counties refused to allow this information from being released took this all the way to SCOTUS based on the exemption to FOIA that the disclosure would endanger the life or safety of an individual would be upheld? Most likely there would need to be someone that would come forward (and maybe not identified other than to the court) who would be a co-defendant in the case that would be endangered by the release of the information.

        But who knows, the right to privacy isn’t what it used to be, but whats new with this government?

      • January 9, 2013 4:32 pm

        Unless you want to justify something that the left loves, like Abortion. Then, the RTP is all the get out.

      • January 9, 2013 2:13 pm

        RonP;

        Most of what is on the internet about you or your friends got there becuase you provided it freely, and you knew or should have know it would be widely available.

        Further you were never obligated to do so.

        Absent a failure on the part of online vendors – one that you should have rights of redress against, what you purchased privately, what you own and what you do not own is only on the internet because you chose to provide it to someone.

        Should we require all businesses to post the names, and addresses of all their clients and everything that each of them purchased ?

        Should your neighbors and/or criminals be able to find out how much jewelry you own ? Whether you have a coin collection ?
        Whether you subscribe to Playboy or Hustler or National Enquirer ?

        Worse still what if they published an interactive map so that you could query it to figure out what neighborhoods would be best to rob ?

        Worse yet. When you publish exactly who does own something, you are also publishing exactly who does not.

        I do not own a registered gun. I do not own a working gun of any kind.
        How is it in my interests to have a local paper publish a map that tells anyone who wants to know that it is safe to Rob my house ?

        Even if gun owners had no expectation of privacy – what about those people who chose not to own a gun. Don’t they have control over whether the world finds that out ?

        Whenever you take a government database that identifies everyone who has made some specific choice and publish it, you have also identified everyone who has not made that same choice.

        Marraige licenses are public. Some states allow same sex marraige.
        What if some newspaper chose to publish all the names and addresses of gay couples on an interactive map – it is just public record information what is wrong with that ?

        Even ignoring the discriminatory issues – lists of gay male couples is again a list of places to rob. these are couples with generally high incomes, and usually no kids.

        Why dont we put up an interactive map of dog owners – now as a smart criminal I can combine that with the gun owners map and really zero in on those who I can rob safely.

        Why dont we put up the names and addresses of school children – so that we can make the task of pedophiles easier ?

      • Ron P permalink
        January 9, 2013 3:16 pm

        Asmith, I think we are in agreement with identification in the newspapers and not making some information public. However, when one applies for a gun permit, they are giving that information freely. Is that to say that they should expect that information to be made public?

        I would not think that to be the case, but since the government took a small step in passing the freedom of information act and that step has now grown into a giant leap that allows for papers to publish gun owner addresses, one would have to expect anything you give the government to become public at some point in time.

      • January 9, 2013 4:35 pm

        Doctors receive their licenses from the government. Should the government have access to my medical record? In law, the record is owned by the MD. Should he have to make them available to the local paper or anyone by virtue of the FOIA?

        Interesting, no?

  90. DanM permalink
    January 9, 2013 10:57 am

    As a former Department Head for a small (under 70,000 people) rural county and a retired Military Officer, I agree that we can’t lump ‘the Government’, including appointees and workers, into one category; that’s just not fair. However, my experience with Local, State and Federal levels of Government through my past positions had led me to believe that Americans have a whole lot more to learn about how their Government functions than what they learned in Civics class.

    I believe that we need to look at those who work FOR the Government (Government Employees) as we do Deputy Sheriffs; they don’t make the laws, policies or rules, they simply enforce them and by that responsibility become subject experts in their field. These are usually the folks you encounter at City Hall or the County Courthouse. In my capacity as a Government Employee, I have been called ‘unfair’, ‘uncaring’, ‘heartless’, and many expletives simply because I have not bent to the will of a taxpayer. The one I hate the most is the taxpayer who says I have to take his abuse because I am a Public ‘Servant’. I would immediately correct them by saying; ‘I am a Government EMPLOYEE, you ELECTED the Government SERVANTS; whom by the way are responsible for the Law/ordinance/procedure that I have no authority to change no matter how asinine it is or how I personally feel about it. It is the employee’s job to provide information and service within existing rules, laws, and procedures, and they do not have the authority to arbitrarily change them because of the potentially disastrous consequences of doing so. Allowing one deviation opens the municipality to a host of legal issues including class-action lawsuits. Looking at it from that perspective, the ‘stupid’ procedures and proof of Identifications required for most Government transactions aren’t there to harass you, they are there to protect the taxpayers of that municipality because once successfully sued, those compensatory funds awarded to the complainant have to come from somewhere; your taxes (the ONLY source of revenue available to Government). Government employees (usually Department Heads are consulted occasionally by the elected officials regarding some issues, but ultimately what is put down in law or procedure is the result of what those elected decide. I have been consulted on many issues by elected officials and have seen that advice/insight twisted into an unrecognizable policy many times. Finally, regardless of their title, a Government employee cannot promise, dedicate or even write a check for even the most compelling of human disaster stories. Only your elected officials have that authority. So the next time a clerk and you have a dispute and you threaten to go to ‘The Mayor’ or the ‘County Commission’ or the clerk recommends it, they aren’t being flip; they’re telling you where the authority really lies!

    State employees come off to Local Employees as impotent demi-gods who seem intent on making the life of the local employee a living hell. However, they are simply doing their ‘deputy’ job as directed by their politically appointed ‘boss’ and their laws, rules and procedures.

    Federal Employees can pretty much be lumped into the same ‘Deputy’ category. A prime example is FEMA inspectors. Their lot in life has been ‘Hollywoodized’ to the extent that when I first met two FEMA inspectors, I jokingly said, “Well, neither of you LOOK like Tommy Lee Jones… can I see your cool jet-black dually 4-wheel drive?” The two men, retired road engineers in their 60s looked perplexed and said, “We got here in a five-year old State car from the motor pool that we weren’t sure would make it here.”

    Before getting into the next group I thought I’d share the identities of the two remaining monarchies left in the US; Volunteer Fire Chiefs and District Health Officials. What Volunteer Fire Chiefs establish as law in their district is the last word. There is no one above the Volunteer Fire Chief to go to – even the County Commission who grants their charter and district has the authority to ‘fire’ a Volunteer Fire Chief. (Chiefs of City or Paid Departments have to follow the directions of the municipality that pays them and are more limited in their monarchy). District Health Directors, while enforcing National and State Health Standards are the last words when it comes to Public Health issues in their Districts. Restaurant get closed down by the local inspector? The only appeal you have is to the District Health Director. Going any higher (State or Federal) does no good as they have no jurisdiction or control over that District.

    Political appointees however have the authority of the elected individual/entity that appointed them. These include groups like the Water Board, the Weed Board, park Board(s), etc. In some Municipalities, the Sheriff, District Attorney (State’s Attorney), Auditor, Treasurer and other Department Head positions may be appointed or elected depending on the County charter. I personally favor elected Sheriffs and D.A.s as conflicts of interest arise that can detract from these critical posts and the chance of cronyism is mitigated to some extent. Political appointee groups are funded by the local government but the local elected officials don’t set their specific spending budget, although the groups realize that if they upset their masters too much, their budget will suffer. Most of these groups are run by older folks that have the time to attend to the business of the municipality.

    Appointed individuals are a whole different animal. As a military Officer, I once witnessed a Senator’s Aide upbraid a one-star General like he was a little kid. In a few weeks, the General lost his position and was posted to a career-ending assignment. These are people we know nothing about but they cruise our Nation on behalf of Nationally elected officials with their full authority and we didn’t even vote for them!

    Elected Officials. On the local level, the majority (not all – there are a few a people out there willing to run for office who want to make the system better) seem to be intent on ‘fixing’ the ‘system’ without any real in-depth knowledge of the ‘system’. Most fixate on ‘Government’ expansion while implementing programs and laws that are aimed at putting them in the best light to facilitate their re-election regardless of the new requirements for money or manpower to enforce it. As a Department Head, I classified my relationship with the board of commissioners in my County as ‘Antagonistic’. Instead of using employees as a source of knowledge and advice, they routinely use them to lay blame off themselves and belittle them. During one Commission Meeting, a Commissioner recommended that the Auditor follow a course of action that the Auditor pointed out was a Federal crime. The Commissioner’s response? “There are Federal Work-release programs.” He was not joking.
    Having to attend Commission meetings as part of my job, I became convinced that EVERYONE needs to attend or view local city council or Commission meetings at least a few times a year. While the issues on the agenda may not seem relevant to you, you can get a good idea of the members of the board in relation to your views and you know the candidate much better so you can cast your votes accordingly. I was so disturbed by the obvious antics of one Commission Member I recommended that the meetings be made available on the web for public viewing – after all, webcams are cheap. It was quickly voted down with the reasoning that minutes of each meeting are already published. Minutes are a sanitized version of what really went on in the meeting and do not reflect enough information for you to determine your vote.

    All your local Council or Commission meetings held during the workday? Demand that they schedule at least one a month for ‘after hours’. Better yet, demand that they be put on the web!

    Sorry about the novel, I have to learn to be less verbose.

    • January 9, 2013 12:18 pm

      Never give power to those who seek it.

    • January 9, 2013 1:15 pm

      Dan;

      It is absolutely true that the decisions that those employed by government employees are made by a minuscule number of people.

      But taking any job identifies one with the policies and views that job represents.

      I have worked on projects related to national defense. That does not mean that I share every view of every neo-con in the country, but if i was a pacifist there is a clear moral conflict with that work. .

      government employees – particularly those in enforcement areas are taking a job to uphold the law – whether they like it or not.

      If as a prospective government employee you are uncomfortable being identified with the law you may have to uphold – then do not take the job.

      No job is a right. Nor are you obligated to hold any specific job.

      If you work for the tobacco industry, it is reasonable for people to identify you personally with the good and bad of that industry.
      If that identification bothers you work elsewhere.

      Is it reasonable to beleive the organist at Westboro Baptist church is not a big gay rights advocate ?
      That the nurses at Planned Parenthood are generally supportive of abortion rights ?

      If you are morally offended by the laws you must uphold as a government employee – take another job. If you do not then you should not take offense if the rest of us identify you as supporting those laws and the values they represent.

      We are each free to make our own choices. We do not always have the infinite menu of choices we would prefer, but none of us are forced to buy a specific good for a particular seller, or to work for a specific employer.

      If as a government employee you enforce laws you do not personally believe in, then you ARE saying that your opposition to that law, is not greater than your support of government as a whole, and your desire for your job.

      whether you are a government or private employee, if your values really are at serious odds with your job – you should find other work.
      And if they are not, then you should not be offended when others identify you with the values of the job.

      Except for degree there is no difference between the claim that government employees are not responsible for the actions they take than the claim of guards at Auschwitz
      that they were just following orders.

      If what a government employee is doing offends their values – they need to take another job.

      • DanM permalink
        January 9, 2013 5:11 pm

        I was referring to an earlier comment that said ‘Don’t wrap everyone who is involved in government into the same mold’. I was simply explaining the relationships between the various members in our Government. My point was; Government Employees are not servants and rarely do they have the power or authority to change laws and procedures on the spot. Elected Officials by and large seem to get elected to office dedicated to ‘fixing’ a ‘broken’ system (and then find themselves chagrined when the system is actually operating as it should under all the constraints it is put). The Political appointees can be very powerful even though they were not elected by anyone.

        I said nothing about being at odds with laws, policies and procedures while employed by the government. It made no never mind to me if you didn’t like the answer that by law or ordinance I was required to give you.

        But people don’t like to be told ‘No’. So, because they don’t understand our government and where the power to change things lie, they say; the guy at the DMV was giving me the runaround (code for ‘The answer I received wasn’t what I wanted to hear.’).

        The next time you call a government office and are given an answer you don’t like, my point was: CALL YOUR ELECTED OFFICIAL; they are the only ones who have any authority to change things. I started my government employment with pride and because of the lack of leadership and abusive nature of those elected to lead, left in absolute disgust.

        That job didn’t offend me – in my previous life I was responsible for hundreds of deaths and can show you the finger i did it with.

    • January 9, 2013 1:37 pm

      I strongly advocate that what little that government actually should do, should be made as public as possible.

      But the real purpose of open government is to impede government.
      When government must operate in the open, it does less.

      The objective is not really more open government, but just less government.
      Open government is the means to that end. It is not the end itself.

      The public should not have to attend more commission meetings – because the various policy makers within our government should do empowered to do so little we should not have to spend our lives policing them.

      The entire purpose of a free press, of open government, of …. is to restrain government.

      Truly limited government only needs to be conducted in the open to assure that it stays within the bounds of the limited powers it was granted.

      Various posters here constantly note all the evils that the captains of industry accomplish driven by greed. Yet in the real world we know that whether the developed world or the 3rd world, the real evil is being done by government.

      Few businesses blatantly ask their employees to violate the law.
      The personal and business liability incurred is enormous.
      In those rare instances that some business does and believes it can get away with it,
      it believes so because it has confidence that it will be protected by GOVERNMENT.

      Jim Crow in the south was A SYSTEM OF LAWS AND GOVERNMENT.
      It was no accident that racial persecution was enshrined in the law.
      It was not sustainable without the force of law.

      Power granted to government WILL be used for evil.
      In many instances it will be badly used by otherwise good people.

      Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

      • DanM permalink
        January 9, 2013 5:19 pm

        As a moderate, I would say that Government is necessary and to not participate as an individual is simply sticking your head in the sand.

        When they are running for office, politicians say what you want to hear, smile and kiss your baby. To really get to know your government, you MUST learn their true ethics by observing them in their work environment doing their elected duties.

        To say that you don’t need to directly observe those who govern you is to say that you’re going to evaluate your employees based on their job interviews (obviously they are great people otherwise you wouldn’t have hired them would you?).

  91. Pat Riot permalink
    January 9, 2013 12:08 pm

    DanM, thanks for your insights into some of the heirarchy of our much-layered government . You suggest more involvement for Americans at the local level. I agree whole-heartedly. A 24-year-old ex-student of mine recently stood up at a township meeting and explained why what they had proposed and were prepared to implement would be counter-productive and dangerous. They agreed. I am proud of him again as I write this. Multiply such involvement bya hundred million or so Americans and we’ll have a better chance!

    • January 9, 2013 1:55 pm

      A major reason for limited government is that it should not be necessary for us to participate in our governance.

      We have productive jobs to do, families to raise, leisure time to enjoy.

      We should not need to attend myriads of commission meetings, in order to prevent our elected officials from acting stupidly.

      We should not presume that getting elected con fired on them more intelligence than the ordinary businessperson.

      If you can not trust the Maddoff’s of the world, why do you believe that your local town councilman is any better ?

      I have little doubt that a student of yours could explain why a local government proposal was a bad idea.

      In my experience nothing local government seeks to do is a good idea.
      Our papers are constantly filled with stories about city or county “investments” that went bad. Or sweetheart insider crony deals. Nothing i see in other communities makes them look any better.

      Those few municiplalites that seem immune to poor choices – are those with little or no municipal government.

      What government can not do, it can not do badly.

      Nor have I seen where bigger is better, In New York city the big difference is that the numbers are larger. a 12M sweetheart sale to a friend is petty corruption there. It takes atleast a couple of hundred million before NYC malfeasance is actually serious.

      Nor is bad government confined to corruption. The ability of public officials to honestly waste copious amounts of public money should never be underestimated.

      Solyndra is closer to the norm than the exception.

      The government in my state seems to be the only people in the entire world able to lose money on gambling and liquor. Organized crime is both more honest and more profitable.

      I encourage greater oversight of government purely because the more you watch government in action, the more certain you are likely to become that less is more.

  92. January 9, 2013 3:03 pm

    Pat;

    Why does everyone keep trying to claim that politics has somehow gotten worse more recently ?

    Please actually look at the past. The politics of our founders was positively evil in comparison to that today. Every dirty political trick today originated centuries ago.
    Read Machiavelli.

    Even in the modern era,

    in 1960 more than 50% of congressional districts had more than 60% of registered voters belonging to a single political party. Today that is true of only 15% of districts.

    We are more partisan, more bitter, more vocal at this particularly moment.

    That is common when things are difficult. We are in the midst of a great recession.

    Further we are facing an enormous government crisis.
    I do nto think that at any time during the history of this country has our government at nearly every level been as close to failing as it is today.

    That is pretty close to indisputable. Myriads of local governments are dubiously solvent. An enormous number are facing unfunded future liabilities that are insurmountable.
    State after state teeters on insolvency.
    The federal government is borrowing 1 of every 4 dollars it spends with no end in sight.
    The federal debt alone is equal to the entire economy.
    The unfunded liabilities of social security and medicare are between 54T and over 100T – during our lifetimes and neither party is addressing that.
    Congress has not passed a budget in years.

    Though there have been some predicting a mess like this throughout my lifetime.
    This one is real.
    We can only kick the can so far.

    We are going to have to do something and it is going to be unpleasant to someone.

    I personally believe that our politicians as well as most posters here are not going to be able to confront the reality of the situation until we have real failure.
    We are not there yet. We are not getting there tomorow. But it is no longer possible to claim we can not get there. Most of us grasp that absent serious government reform the future is bleak. Even with it, it is going to be unpleasant.

    We are approaching a crisis with near certainty – most everyone grasps that.

    But we do not agree about the solutions.

    Both here and in washington we are having a great debate over the role of government.

    We are addressing big issues – because there are no little solutions that are going to work.

    We are past saving Social Security with a tweak. Whatever is done will be significant consequential and painful.

    Every accomplishment of the progressive era is failing.

    And like it or not there is no “moderate” answer. A compromise on taxes and spending will atbest delay our day of reckoning.
    If there is a progressive solution – it is more radical than anything even Pres. Obama has come up with.
    On the opposite side, the longer we delay the more moderate proposals such as Rand Pauls will become.

    We are angry, contentious, bitter, antagonsitic, not because one party is seeking political advantage over the other – not that that is not happening, but because we are facing near certain failure unless we take steps that are far from moderate.

    We have two major competing solutions. There is no common ground between them.
    Nor can there be. Some tepid combination of tax increases and spending cuts is not going to do it.

    Ultimately one side or the other is likely to win – not because they are more articulate, or more politically palletable, but because even if we can not agree on what the right solution is, we are not going to get there through compromise and moderation.
    Our impending failure is too large for a tweak at the edges.

    We are in a position where the one thing most of us understand with certainty is that a moderate solution, compromise, something in the middle will not work. Worse with each passing year any chance of that diminishes.

    We need a 25% across the board cut in federal government spending or a 25% across the board increase in taxes on everyone right now just to preserve the status quo – and that is pretty bad.

    Yet we can not agree to reduce the deficit – by any means by $1T over ten years – 1/10 of what we need to accomplish.

    We are in the midst of a brutal ideological conflict.
    It is not upon us because the Koch brothers have bought congress, or Sorros is intransgient.

    It is on us because our system as it is today is failing, and most be addressed and we do not agree on the solution.

    It is because with near certainty the working solution is going to be closer to one of the extremes than the center.

    it is brutal because like it or not one side or the other is going to win.
    Not because of their eloquence, but because we already know the moderate solutions will only by time.
    The answer lies with one ideology or the other, not the middle.

    Liberals know this. Conservatives know this.

    This fight might last a decade, but one ideology is going to leave the field discredited.

    We are facing an ideological sea change greater than occurred with the great depression.

    So why is it that you expect civility, moderation, political harmony – things that have never before occured throughout the US political history ?

  93. January 9, 2013 3:54 pm

    Rick;

    Semi-automatic in the context of weapons generally and usually legally means that the trigger must be pulled one time for each shot fired, and that the next round will be automatically loaded to be fired.

    Almost all weapons except most shotguns, and bolt action rifles are “semi-automatic”

    Except for the fact that it is a rifle – and therefore more accurate at long range (and much harder to use in close quarters), the AR-15 that Adam Lanza used is no more deadly than numerous very small calibur handguns.

    It is no more automatic or dangerous than a .cheap 22 pistol.

    Nearly every handgun made is either easier to use, easier to load, or more powerful or both.

    The most appealing feature of an AR-15 is that it looks alot like an M16.

    Is that the standard by which you are going to chose what you ban and what you do not ?

    Personally I would rather have the Adam Lanza’s using an AR-15. It is not an easily concealable weapon. Its appearance in a school telegraphs the intentions of the person carrying it. While a .22 pistol and hundreds of rounds can easily be carried concealed.

    As to high capacity magazines.

    There is only one recorded instance where a mass killer has been overcome as they stop to reload. Even handguns can be reloaded in seconds.

    The magazine is the cheapest and easiest to manufacture part of any weapon.
    Everything you need to make your own high capacity AR-15 magazines is readily available online.

    So what effect is limiting magazine capacity going to have ?

    In reality the AR-15 is not a particularly heinous weapon.

    It is less powerful and less easy to use than most handguns.

    The left bandy’s about the phrase “semi-automatic” as if somehow that makes a weapon especially heinous. Banning all weapons capable of firing multiple bullets without any action beyond pulling the trigger, would ban everything except bolt action rifles and most shotguns. It would ban all handguns.

    Meanwhile there are numerous .22 caliber pistols that can handle as many as 15 rounds, many of which are very accurate – or dirt cheap that would have been easier for Adam Lanza to conceal, easier to use and at the short ranges inside a school more effective.

    Plastic DIY .22 plans including for the AR-15 are readily available.
    A $3000 CNC machine is capable of making just about anything you can make using a 3d printer out of steel – even the AR-15 is only forged aluminum, and if you look on the web a working weapon can be mode from parts you can buy at home depot for $20.

    Prohibition does nto work.

  94. January 9, 2013 4:27 pm

    Well, I’m glad you folks are reading my comments. Where to begin? Here at the bottom, I guess.

    Dave: I know there’s a hazy boundary between semi-automatics and conventional guns. You could say that an Old West six-shooter is a semi-automatic, because you can fire six rounds without reloading. I’m also aware that someone who is really determined to stage a massacre can probably find a way, though prohibition would make it more difficult for casual, mentally ill gun users like Adam Lanza to gain access to assault weapons in their parents’ homes.

    But let’s stand back and take an objective look at what you and the others here are defending: guns that are expressly produced for the purpose of killing dozens of people with ease. I use a rule of thumb I developed back in college to judge the merits or defects of any idea presented to me: I ask “Why is this good?” And I still ask it: why is it good for American civilians to own weapons that can blow away a few dozen unsuspecting people inside of a minute?

    • January 9, 2013 4:38 pm

      Rich, listen to yourself. Now we are going to pass laws based on whether something is “good?” Seriously, using that criteria, almost anything could be banned (like say, large sodas!).

      Wait, that Nazi Bloomberg already did that.

      Now, if you want to ban something “bad” we can start with rap music and any movie by that asshole Michael Moore.

    • January 9, 2013 4:53 pm

      Rick, is this “good?”

      You want to start saving lives, start here:

      http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/01/08/A-Joyful-Planned-Parenthood-We-Aborted-Over-333-000-Babies-In-2011

    • January 9, 2013 5:18 pm

      Rick;

      If you can not distinguish and AR-15 from a Walker Colt then how do you propose to write a Ban ?

      Except that you have to reload every 6 shots and the Walker Colt predates modern bullets, it is a far more dangerous weapon than the AR-15, The Colt could take your entire leg off at the thigh. It would likely take many hits with an AR-15 to kill you.

      Lanza’s diagnosis as I understand it is the dysfunction Ian seems to think I have – Asperger’s. There is no particular reason to beleive that people with Aspergers are prone to violence. Even paranoid schizophrenics are not particularly prone to violence.

      If you check the news thoroughly you will find that it is mental health organizations – not the NRA that is opposed to gun prohibitions based on mental health status.

      Guns are produced for many reasons – Killing people is only one of those.
      But even if you define their purpose as killing people – the primary non-military purpose is DEFENSIVE.

      Further outside the hands of a highly trained expert – someone on the order of a Delta or HRT you can not “blow away a few dozen unsuspecting people inside of a minute”

      The AR-15 fires either an actual .22 or a similar caliber bullet. Absent excellent marksmanship it is not going to kill with a single shot. With ordinary ammunition it may take many shots to the body to kill an adult Loghner used a 9mm Glock with a 33 round clip, and shot Rep. Giffords in the head without killing her. And that is a much more powerful weapon. a .22 is about 5.5mm or a bit more than 1/2 the diameter and probably less than 1/4 the mass.

      Your college rule of thumb is specifically why you are liberal rather than moderate.

      Why is this good – is the same as Why should I allow this, or everything is prohibited except what is allowed.

      For many reasons this is a bad standard.

      To offer a few alternatives

      Any law that has the support of less than 75% of the people is a very bad idea.

      Any law that will be violated by more than 1% of the population is a very bad idea.

      Any law that is unenforceable is a bad idea.

      Respect for the law and law enforcement is critical to society.

      Society does not work without it.
      but respect for the law and for law enforcement is NOT an entitlement of government.
      Like all respect it must be earned.
      Passing laws that do not have broad – near unanimous support is detrimental to government and society.

      When you start by demanding that to be allowed something must meet your personal standard of justification, you have already posited a failed society.

      Aside from personal enjoyment – which is applicable to AR-15’s as well, what are the beneficial uses of Whiskey, Wine, Beer ? We know they have deletorious effects, and people use alcohol specifically to seek an altered state – one in which they are more dangerous and reckless.
      More 6 year olds are killed each week – possibly each day in this country as a result of alcohol use.

      So why shouldn’t we prohibit alcohol ? What is the societal benefit that outweighs the harm ?

      I can go on and on. Anything whose primary use is enjoyment – either fails your test – or successfully justifies an AR-15. Many people actually LIKE to shoot – even weapons like AR-15’s, either enjoyment is sufficient to justify something according to your standard – which justifies the AR-15, or it is not – which means we can ban nearly everything.

      Worse still, what is the purpose of human existance ?
      I do not have the answer – but I know it is not driving, growing things, manufacturing things, …. Virtually every justification you are likely to accept has absolutely nothing to do with the purpose of human existance.
      While doing things simply because we desire to is much closer to our reason for existing.

      You can not develop a standard based on justification that prohibits the AR-15 that does not reduce humans to machines. And once you allow “because I want to” you have no standard left.

      This does not mean we can not have laws.
      But we need a better underlying principle.

      Ultimately laws are about people, not things. A rock can kill someone, but we do not ban rocks, nor do we punish them for murder. A rock is not responsible for what it does. whether motivated by a human or nature.

      We make laws to punish PEOPLE not THINGS, for what they have DONE, not what they MIGHT do, and we require that the acts that we punish harmed other humans.

      That is not precisely the way our society works today – but it is the underlying principle that western society started from, and one we should return to.

      Further unlike yours it is a standard that works. It leaves each of us the freedom to do as we please so long as we do not harm others. It holds us accountable only for actual harm, not what might happen, and it leaves us free to seek whatever conception of our purpose we hold dear – so long as we do not harm others.

  95. January 9, 2013 4:59 pm

    By the way, I was interested today in reading Joe Biden’s comments about how Obama is going to “do something” through Exec Order about “gun saftey.”

    Gun “safety”? huh? This term showed up over and over again in the same context that we are used to seeing the term “gun control.” Sorta kinda like “global warming” became “climate change” and federally funded birth/control & abortion became “reproductive rights”?

    Not to mention, how does an executive order trump a constitutional amendment? I realize that there are dozens of Democrat legislators who would never vote for any anti-gun laws, because it would hurt their chances if re-election, so Obama is trying to bail them out here….but, it will be interesting to see if his EO mirrors Senator Feinstein’s proposed gun -ban legislation.

    Ah, remember the old days, when Bush was the President and it was an outrageous act of dictatorial power to bypass Congress by EO? I miss those days ;)

    • January 9, 2013 5:15 pm

      Me too! Who cares about the 2nd Amendment? Its only in the Constitution.

      • DanM permalink
        January 9, 2013 5:24 pm

        Constitutions are only guidelines…

      • Ron P permalink
        January 9, 2013 6:05 pm

        Depends on who you are talking to. If it is Sotomayor or one of her co-horts, that is true. They will interpret whatever they wish as the constitution only is a guideline. If is is one of the conservative judges that is a strict constitutionist, then there is much less “guideline” and interpretation. The actual words written are the law, not some nitwit judge’s own interpretation that supports the position of the party that gave them a guarenteed job for life with no questions asked as to their decisions.

      • DanM permalink
        January 10, 2013 9:34 am

        Ron – My statement was a quip – I did not mean it to be serious – our Constitution is the bedrock of our society is what makes the US distinctly different and has allowed us to become the most affluent society in the history of the world.

        I was going for an association with the Pirate Captain’s interpretation of the ‘Pirate’s Code’ in the movie ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ that rather than being a set of laws that pirates live by, they’re “… more like guidelines.”

        Interesting which side of the political spectrum treats our Constitution as ‘guidelines’ to be interpreted and re-interpreted as needed. An interesting parallel indeed!

      • Ron P permalink
        January 10, 2013 12:31 pm

        FDan..Sorry. That’s the problem with the written word. Hard to see “humor” in some comments whne one can not read the face of the commentor. And when the reader is out of the loop and has not seen the movie used for the basis of the comment, then that also results in a different response than solicited.

        But there is some truth to your comment about guidelines.

      • DanM permalink
        January 10, 2013 6:07 pm

        No sweat Ron – gotta remember to put something in my comments for sarcasm or joking. My Bad!

      • Ron P permalink
        January 10, 2013 12:34 pm

        “FDan”

        Sorry Dan, fat fingers. The F and D are next to each other. Typo!!!

    • January 9, 2013 5:44 pm

      I am not intimate with the arcanities of executive orders.
      But I beleive they are really mostly limited to imposing limits on the government.
      i.e. they are not law – atleast not for people outside of government.

      Further they are limited to those areas that are the exclusive domain of the president.
      Usually things that have a strong nexus with foreign policy, national defense.

      One of the things that drives me completely nuts about the left is that they essentially beleive that Rick’s “Why is this good” standard, is sufficient for anything.
      That the purpose of government is whatever those with the most power decide it is.

      I can not get most anyone here to grasp that limited government is not just some ideology. It is a bedrock principle. You can disagree with me about the limits, but the alternative to limited government is unlimited government – and that is tyranny, and slavery. This is not about extremes. there are only two positions, either government is limited or it is not. And unlimited government is tyranny and slavery.
      Accept that government is limited – which should be obvious, and what is left is agreeing on the limits.
      If you can not articulate what limits government should have – then you should not even vote. You have no basis beyond whim for avoiding tyranny.

      Nor do I understand why the left fails to grasp this.
      If government can do anything that the left wishes it could, then it can do anything the right wishes it could.
      If all guns can be made illegal, then gun ownership can be made mandatory – unlimited government is slavery.
      Take any law you wish. If it is not bound by some underlying and broadly accepted principle defining the limits of government. then there is absolutely no reason that the exact opposite law would not be equally legitimate.
      if we can ban homosexuality we can require it.
      If we can ban abortion we can require it.

      Eight supreme court justices lead by famous progressive Oliver Wendel Holmes found that
      “Three generations of imbeciles are enough”. and allowed the state to forcibly sterilize Carrie Buck. Her daughter who was adjudicated feeble minded made her schools honor role several times before dying from measles.

      “Why is it good” for the mentally deficient to reproduce ? Any dog breeder will tell you the likely outcome is not good.

      An action is good if a single person wants it, and it does no violence to another.
      That is the only justification that should ever be necessary. Any other standard is tyranny, and slavery.

      Whenever you start deciding for other people, however good your intentions may be, you will end up doing evil.

      • January 10, 2013 7:53 am

        There are those of us “here” who grasp the principle of limited government. Dave, get over yourself.

      • DanM permalink
        January 10, 2013 9:27 am

        I agree with you 100% asmith! I particularly like the Ban/Require litmus you used. In the gun control issue, while some communities have banned guns, reports of other communities requiring them have cropped up.

        Adding to the veracity of your proposal, if the subject of the law in question does not present a public menace or threat, we should be free to pursue them. As your test indicates, most laws regarding guns, abortion, homosexuality, etc should be stricken because they pose no threat to the public well-being and have to do with activities of private citizens.

        Well said!

      • January 10, 2013 1:59 pm

        DanM;

        The test i offered that you like alot is just a restatement of the NAP – Non-aggression Principle.

        That is THE core principle which nearly all ideological libertarians agree on.

        It is pretty much the ONLY principle to libertarianism.

        It is also the core of the Lockean Social Contract.

        If you strongly agree with that, then not only are you libertarian, you are really pretty hard core libertarian.

        Watch out you are about to be labeled a falling off the edge of the earth extremist.

      • DanM permalink
        January 10, 2013 6:09 pm

        Yikes!

    • Ron P permalink
      January 9, 2013 6:15 pm

      This should concern everyone when our President begins acting like Hugo Chavez. It is one thing for him to issue executive orders that stop polution of streams, the distruction of wildlife or other issues that do not enfringe on the rights of individuals. It is something else to bypass the congress, SCOTUS and issue executive orders that enfirnge on rights.

      But how many Americans are going to do what the younger generation did in the late 60’s and 70’s that brought down an administration and helped stop a war. Today too many people are too involved with “me” to worry about “us”, so little by little rights are taken away, much like what happened in Venezuela.

      • January 9, 2013 11:29 pm

        I am not given to paranoia or tin-foil hat conspiracy stuff, but I do believe that we are progressively becoming less free, and, worse, that more and more people really don’t understand or give a damn. When the controversy over “All My Baby Mamas” elicits more spirited debate than whether or not the President can overrule the Constitution……well, I am not encouraged.

      • January 10, 2013 7:57 am

        Yes, or who will win the next contest on TV.

        I am depressed about the future of America.

      • January 10, 2013 7:55 am

        Public education has been very “effective” in at least one regard. Many young people have become quite docile when it comes to accepting an imperial president like Barry.

      • DanM permalink
        January 10, 2013 9:50 am

        So what is the answer? Without organized leadership, moderates will continue doing what we are doing – wringing our hands on the internet. Maybe this forum needs to invite those elected officials that have displayed ‘moderate’ voting records to participate and serve as the focal point for our side of the story. We need to invite moderate friends of influence (local merchants and civic groups). I’m sure someone on this blog either is or knows a moderate marketing person – that’s how the ‘parties’ do it.

        We can be moderates that display solidarity and can be activists while being moderate. But we need leaders on the National, State and Local level. Recruit them! Ask them to join this site!

        ‘The squeaky wheel gets the grease.’ is especially true in the political arena (I’ve seen some pretty amazing things done when a citizen is persistent to the point of obsession).

        Maybe we can have a ‘Moderate Million Man March’ (as we know you don’t really need a Million, just say we do). And no slogan like “What do we want? Moderation! When do we want it? …Sometime in the near future?”.

        Seriously, anyone have suggestions for moderate Senators or Congressmen? Let’s list them here! Then let’s contact them!

        We have only failed if we have failed to try.

      • January 10, 2013 2:04 pm

        Stopping pollution of streams or protecting wildlife do infringe on our individual rights.

        But government IS allowed to punish us for acting in ways that harm others – even when that infringes on our individual rights.

        I do not think an executive order can apply to anything that is inside the scope of congress.

  96. Pat Riot permalink
    January 9, 2013 7:46 pm

    RonP, yes, certainly concerned about Executive Orders. But I think the “me” generations have fizzled considerably. There’s a large number of “new age hippies” (NAHs) out there in their twenties who are intensely concerned for the environment, very suspicious of government, and trying to buck the system, and they’d rather eat organic foods than do illegal drugs, so I think it’s an improvement on the 60s in some ways. Good Lord don’t bring out a plastic water bottle in the presence of the NAHs (Nah, don’t want preservatives, Nah, don’t want fossil fuels) or they will look at you like you are a demon. I’ll take social networking over psychedelic parties. I know, I’m generalizing, but there’s a LOT of activist youth out there today.

    • Ron P permalink
      January 10, 2013 12:22 am

      Pat, sure would be nice if they were as active about individual constitutional rights and fiscal matters as they are environmental matters and social value rights.

    • January 10, 2013 2:16 pm

      You do not have to be a New Age Hippie to hold irrational views.

      There is also a difference between concern for the environment and accepting as gospel anything any organization with “Green” in its name or charter says.

      We celebrated the 50th anniversary of “Silent Spring” very recently. Yet not a single prediction has proven true, and not a single scientific assertion has proven valid.

      I really love to watch a group of hard core tree huggers fight over, cloth/paper/plastic

      In the real world there are rarely perfect solutions to problems, and almost always it is arguable that what one green thinks is the salvation of the world is more environmentlaly destructive atleast in one way than the alternatives.

      This is one of the reasons for freedom, and free markets, and prices.

      This is the means that we all weigh in on our personal values and preferences.

      • January 10, 2013 5:18 pm

        Dave,

        You can’t critiize Rache Carson. She died of cancer, was female, and a darling of the left. She is pretty much a saint.

      • January 10, 2013 8:18 pm

        And she got absolutely nothing right and bears a significant share of the responsibility for the death of millions in third world countries.

      • January 10, 2013 9:47 pm

        That matters not when considered by the left. She has earned her sainthood and she shall have it!

    • DanM permalink
      January 10, 2013 6:25 pm

      Asmith – If you want to pollute the pond or lake that you own. then go for it (as long as it does not affect the groundwater that is shared by all – then you are posing a public menace as it adversely effects others). There are laws written that deal specifically with the preservation of our water resources and other public resources (Air pollution, hazardous waste, etc.) and I view them as perfectly legal because they are enacted to protect all of us.

      Being a Homosexual does nothing to adversely effect the public welfare and therefore shouldn’t even be a factor the Government has to deal with (besides, allowing same-sex marriages would actually raise tax revenues for the Government thereby easing the burden on the rest of us.

      Getting an abortion is a purely personal matter and again, the Government as absolutely no business being involved in it except to establish a clear cut-off date for the stage of gestation past with a viable infant will be born.

      • January 10, 2013 7:16 pm

        Dan,

        We will disagree. A baby/fetus is not a gall bladder. If you don’t believe me, go watch an abortion being performed.

      • DanM permalink
        January 11, 2013 8:35 am

        The point is – what does that non-viable fetus have to do with you? How does removing it detract from the common good of our Nation? THAT is the argument for keeping government from legislating ‘social’ issues. If you don’t want your daughter/wife/girlfriend to get an abortion, that is an issue between you and that pregnant person, not an issue the Government needs to be involved in. I’d much rather see the procedure take place in a fully equipped hospital because only the naive will assume that abortions will cease once it is made illegal. History has shown that they will continue in less than optimal settings if banned. BTW I have seen them. But I’ve also seen brain surgery and to the uninitiated, neither is very appetizing.

      • January 11, 2013 2:50 pm

        I call bullshit. Abortion is not birth control no matter how you want to wish it away.

      • DanM permalink
        January 12, 2013 11:31 am

        Not birth control. Freedom to act as individuals over a personal issue that does not affect the general welfare of the rest of the population should not be regulated by law.

      • January 12, 2013 11:42 am

        Dan: Many would argue that abortion does affect the general welfare of a segment of the population: the unborn. The key issue, of course, is whether or not you accept the idea that unborn individuals qualify as human lives. There are legitmate arguments for both sides. My own position (an imperfect one, I know) is to impose a cutoff point for abortions at three months (unless the pregnancy endangers the woman’s health). This is around the time that a fetus can start making voluntary movements and probably has some degree of awareness. Still, birth control is a much better solution. There’s really no excuse these days for unwanted pregnancies unless someone has been careless.

      • DanM permalink
        January 12, 2013 4:36 pm

        Rick, I totally agree with you on this one. My wife says that 36 weeks is the cutoff for a viable birth. 3 months sounds about right.

      • January 12, 2013 5:16 pm

        I could accept this but alas, most libs would stroke out. Then again …. that doesn’t sound that bad!

      • January 12, 2013 5:11 pm

        Rick,

        You can accuse those who have so-called unwanted pregnancies as being careless. You will hurt their feelings and that is not allowed in the US. Better to abort their babies to be.

      • January 12, 2013 5:09 pm

        Sorry, I count the taking of a life to be (even in the womb) as effecting the rest of population. So does criminal laws in most states, which means that if you are responsible for the aborting of a baby/fetus while assaulting Mom, you can do time for killing her baby to be.

      • Ron P permalink
        January 12, 2013 5:20 pm

        And this position by conservatives can be traced back to the defeat of some Republicans since many younger voters and women believe as I do. I believe it is wrong to abort a fetus, but I also have stronger beliefs that government should not be involved in issues that are between a woman, her doctor and her husband (if one is involved). One persons belief that a fetus is a living breathing individual from the day of conception may not be the belief of another that believes a fetus is not a viable human until after a certain number of weeks of development. This arguement will never be solved, elections will contunie to be won and lost based on the candidates position and younger voters will continue to believe that government should keep its nose out of ones private life.

        Now, if we could get those same younger voters to believe government should stay out of an individuals income, then maybe we could get some moderates elected that would balance the budget while supporting an individual’s social values.

      • DanM permalink
        January 13, 2013 12:02 pm

        Which is my point, you can’t pass laws based on emotional, social or religious ‘feelings’. Laws need to establish a ‘cross the line’ point and that will never be done if we base them on emotional factors. While I may seem cold for saying so, medical science has put the viability of a human fetus at 36 weeks; to me, up to that point, the mass of cells growing in that womb could be cancer cells (a blastula resembles and acts just like a mass of cancer cells). Which is why this issue, in this day and age, still rages on.

      • DanM permalink
        January 13, 2013 12:20 pm

        First, how does having sex have any impact on the rest of Society? The first litmus test for a viable law should be how that act impacts the rest of the community or well-being of the population? By postulating that conception starts a life, one is in essence saying that Society is impacted by that sex act and therefore there should be laws regulating it because of these impacts. The act is of no concern to the well-being of the community, therefore should not be of interest to a governing body and laws regarding it should not be implemented as it has no impact to anyone else than those involved in the act.

        Second, paralleling an abortion performed prior to a gestational period before that organism is viable outside the womb with spontaneous abortion or miscarriages illustrates the lack of societal impact on the absence of that individual on the population’s well-being. Again, the lack of this life in society does not have a negative effect on the well-being of that society and therefore is an issue for those personally involved only.

        To argue otherwise is to say that it is correct that the Government pass laws regulating our private lives.

      • January 13, 2013 5:15 pm

        Nice way to rationalize murder there Dan. So, clearly before 36 weeks, anything done to help a mother deliver her unborn baby is a waste of medical resources. Clearly, we should stop paying for pre-natal care as a medical benefit. Indeed, it would be silly to spend money on a mass of cancerous cells, so why do that for a fetus?

        Dr Mengele would consider you his best buddy.

      • DanM permalink
        January 13, 2013 8:09 pm

        Fine, then if life begins at conception, the government should have every right to pass laws barring you from having sex. That’s the argument here – what is the Government’s right to regulate procreation or abortion, or gay marriage? Absolutely none. This abortion argument is exactly what I mean – there’s no solution (other than you getting upset and calling me names) and therefore the Government shouldn’t be trying to legislate it. I’m just saying that I would rather a pregnant woman have an abortion in a fully equipped facility rather than in a back alley clinic. Making abortion illegal because you or your God doesn’t think it is right is not a Governmental Issue.

        Stop with the name calling!

      • January 13, 2013 8:44 pm

        OK, here comes the moderate moderator. First, let’s have no more name-calling, all right? Criticize ideas, not people.

        That said, I know abortion is a heated issue and it provokes heated emotions. But there’s really no universal agreement on when a potential human being becomes human. Some hard-line pro-lifers believe that a single sperm and egg cell, united in copulatory bliss (as much bliss as two cells can have), constitute a human life. Some extreme pro-choicers believe that even a 9-month fetus on the verge of popping out into the world is fair game for abortionists. I believe the answer is somewhere around the three-month mark, but I know that’s just arbitrary.

        Here’s the key to discussing abortion rationally: if someone believes that a week-old embryo is a human life, of course that person will be against abortion. Conversely, if someone believes that life doesn’t begin until the umbilical cord is cut, naturally that person will be pro-abortion. So it’s really pointless to knock somebody’s stance on abortion without taking into account their belief about when that little guy (or gal) in the oven becomes a human being with rights.

        I suspect that some feminists and their supporters conveniently overlook the human qualities of a fetus in order to support their pro-choice politics. Dan, you argue that an abortion doesn’t affect society at large… but if Rich believes that a fetus is a human being, then for him abortion becomes an issue with grave social consequences — like any other murder. But in the end, there’s really no clear answer, so we’ll probably be having these debates in the next century. (Well, our grandchildren will.)

      • DanM permalink
        January 14, 2013 8:58 am

        Abortion came up as an example of what laws our government can and should be allowed to pass. I had no intention to engage in a debate regarding this volatile issue – it was an example (as was Gay Marriage and Gun Control).

        I proposed that laws should only be passed that apply directly to the good of the people and the litmus being that to make an act/action illegal that has absolutely no bearing on the ‘good of the people’, the government really does not have any authority to regulate it as it becomes a restriction on our freedoms as Americans. Choosing abortion as an example seems to have touched a nerve with Jbastiat is the one that chose to focus on it.

        I kept the discussion as civil as possible. Jbastiat is the one who started the name calling and obscene recommendations.

        If one cannot use examples in an effort to define just what our government should be passing laws about (to determine which of our rights are being infringed upon) without moral judgments being passed down then this forum becomes a real waste of time. By definition, social issues are ‘hot topics’ and that is exactly why I believe the Government has no business passing laws on them. In the case of abortion I believe the only law a government should be passing is; “at what point does an abortion become the elimination of viable fetus”? (it is moot to my argument, but to say it begins at conception invites the Government to regulate the who, what, when, where, and why of two people having sex – I don’t think any of us wants to go there – unless we all want to become real sheep.

        Rick, you seem to really side with Jbastiat by specifically addressing me. That’s fine. But if the is an ‘old buddy’ blog’ and not an open political discussion as I thought it was. I have learned a lot in the short time I have been visiting it and some bloggers here really seem to have some great points. “Kiss my Ass” however is not a salient point to make and it should not be allowed in a rational discussion hat tried repeatedly to draw the subject back to the political and not social discussion I intended.

      • January 14, 2013 10:47 am

        Dan: My comment wasn’t addressed specifically to you; yours was simply the last comment (at that time) in the squabble between you and Rich, so I replied under your comment.

        Yes, you were more civil than Rich, who’s been known to lose his temper (at least online) when reasoning fails; I just wanted to blow the referee’s whistle and get the two of you back to your respective corners of the ring.

        Back to the argument at hand: I don’t see how an anti-abortion ruling would impose restrictions on who can have sex. It would definitely restrict a woman’s right to decide if she wants to carry a pregnancy to full term, though. That said, there has to be a sensible middle ground between the obstinate positions of the pro-lfe and pro-choice people. Fetal viability is one widely accepted cutoff point, and it’s interesting that it can vary so widely depending on the mother’s medical care. My own opinion is that the cutoff point should be earlier (around three months), when the fetus can make voluntary movements and is no longer just a collection of inanimate cells.

        Still, all fetuses (and even a day-old embryo) represent a potential human life. What has always galled me about the more militant pro-choice people is their cavalier attitude toward the unborn… the way a woman’s “right to choose” (choose WHAT?, asks the cynic, who detests euphemisms) trumps all else… that a woman has the right to do as she pleases with HER body (yes, I agree… but a fetus isn’t part of her body; it’s a separate organism with its own distinctive DNA makeup).

        Again, it’s an incredibly complex issue, and the only solution — even though it’s not perfect — is to agree on a point in the pregnancy beyond which an abortion is no longer an option unless the mother’s health has been compromised (or would be compromised by giving birth).

      • January 14, 2013 12:18 pm

        Well reasoned Rick. You could be a moderate! BTW- I could live with the 3 month rule. What is the problem deciding what you “choose” within time frame?

        And yes, it is not a gall bladder as you clearly have stated.

        I do have a bit of a temper, don’t I.

      • DanM permalink
        January 14, 2013 12:34 pm

        Yes you do you motherfucking cock sucking pinko commie fag bedwetting sympathizer! Yeah! I feel better now ASSHOLE!

      • January 14, 2013 2:55 pm

        Good for you. Well, as long as you FEEL better. who can disagree with you?

      • DanM permalink
        January 14, 2013 4:24 pm

        Fuck You ASSHOLE

      • January 14, 2013 4:39 pm

        See, you must be feeling even better!

        Imagine if your mother had aborted YOU at 36 weeks. Hmmmm

      • DanM permalink
        January 14, 2013 5:31 pm

        Best part of you got left on the delivery room floor! FUCK YOU ASSHOLE!

      • January 14, 2013 9:19 pm

        You might want to press the reset button there buddy. Seems like you are stuck.

      • January 14, 2013 12:10 pm

        Don’t let the door hit your ass as you head out the door.

      • January 13, 2013 9:23 pm

        OK, no names. Fuck you.

      • DanM permalink
        January 14, 2013 9:04 am

        Good answer! That seems reasonable enough to me! Yeah…

      • January 14, 2013 12:11 pm

        some times you have to dumb it down for folks like you.

      • January 13, 2013 5:11 pm

        Again, I call bullshit. Are you suggesting that the fetus at 35 weeks is like a mass of cancerous cells. If you are then you are not scientific, you are simply a moron.

      • DanM permalink
        January 13, 2013 6:30 pm

        jbastiat – HEY! Watch the MORON talk there buddy! By resorting to name calling you have now identified yourself as an extreme RIGHT winger and not eligible for a MODERATE blog. Please excuse yourself from further discussion. TO THE PENALTY BOX WITH YOU!

        Let me repeat, by insisting that the non-birth of an infant (caused by ANY method, Spontaneous or not) adversely affects the general population is patently absurd. 32 weeks is the standard by which a fetus, with medical assistance, has a fair chance of surviving outside the womb.

        You asked if I had seen the results of an abortion; now I ask you, have you seen the results of an abortion performed at 4 weeks? Looks JUST like a tumor!

        Name-calling is reserved for your apparent pal Piers Morgan.

      • January 13, 2013 6:50 pm

        Hey Dan,

        KIss my ass. Now, blockhead, go read the article I attached, written by, you know, folks who know a bit more about the birth process than you.

      • DanM permalink
        January 14, 2013 8:36 am

        Hey Jbastiat – Same to you. When you are willing to take all the unwanted fetuses and raise them to the age of majority by feeding, clothing, housing and educating them you got nothing I’m interested in listening to especially since you just can’t seem to refrain from bullying and abusive language. Read something you post? No thanks – I’m sure it’s simply propaganda from the pro-life agenda. If men were the ones bearing children, this wouldn’t even be a discussion – abortions would be as common as vasectomies are today.

        You are a prime example of just the sort of people this country does not need; unreasoning, foul-mouthed brutes.

      • January 14, 2013 12:09 pm

        Fuck you, again.

        And for your information, the first post was from the National Institutes of Health.

        Using your “logic” I should be prepared to raise all the children from live births if I objected to them being killed at birth, which is largely what you are suggesting using the 36 weeks standard.

        So, asshole, go look at a live birth abortion and come back and chat here. Tell me what the mass of cells actually looked like and what it felt.

      • January 13, 2013 6:55 pm

        http://www.babycenter.com/fetal-development-images-10-weeks

        Sure, a blob of cells.

      • Ron P permalink
        January 14, 2013 12:47 am

        Dan, I believe I am in the same frame of thought about abortion as you as to it being legal or not. While I do not support it for my family, I do not believe the moral position of a old white guy should be imposed on women who might have a completely diferent view on the issue.

        But I think you need to do some additional research on when an abortion should be legal or not. Many states cut off the gestation period at 20 weeks or around 4 months. That is because the fetus becomes viable sometime during the 23-25 week time period. But each one is different since its survival is based more on weight and not gestation, so someone from a low income background with little prenatal care and a drug user might have a baby that can not survive at 32 weeks, while someone with excellent care, diet and medications could have a baby that survives at 24 weeks. According to my daughter, many of these infants survive and are normal except for their weight which increases during their stay in the NICU until they reach a weight that will allow them to go home.

      • DanM permalink
        January 14, 2013 9:08 am

        RonP – My original point is that the only role that government should have regarding abortion is determining when an abortion ends the existence of a viable fetus and becomes assault or manslaughter. Even though I am no expert in the subject, I would argue however that ‘conception’ is not a valid determination point as it opens the door for Government to pass laws on our sex lives. It has to be between conception and some agreed upon point – to me the earlier the better.

      • January 14, 2013 12:13 pm

        Actually, that is NOT what you said. You said that medical science (sic) had determined that the fetus was not viable until 36 weeks. That is simply crap and any OB knows that You directly stated that abortion should be legal until that point.

        You sir, are simply a liar.

      • January 14, 2013 12:23 pm

        Rich: Let’s try to tone down the personal invective, OK? Remember: criticize ideas, not people. We all have legitimate reasons for believing what we believe, so in most cases it’s really not a personal flaw if someone stands up for ideas we don’t happen to like.

        Anyway, I don’t know where that 36-week thing came from. Most of us know that a full-term pregnancy only lasts 40 weeks, so I’m guessing that someone made a typo. Even most pro-choicers wouldn’t normally support abortions at that late stage unless the mother’s health was seriously impaired.

      • January 14, 2013 12:41 pm

        Will do Rick. If it was a type, he made it maybe 4 times.

      • DanM permalink
        January 14, 2013 4:28 pm

        Fuck You ASSHOLE

      • January 14, 2013 4:41 pm

        Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds!

        You are NOT disappointing us Dan.

      • Ron P permalink
        January 14, 2013 12:29 pm

        Dan, looks like we agree. The less government is the best government.

        By the way, I too had an issue when first joining in on the discussions on this website from one individual that took the discussion personal. I responded one time and have not responded again to those personal comments. No one wins when you get in a pissing contest with a skunk. The same holds true when personalizing a debate in print.

        Stay with us as some do want to see your opinions.

      • DanM permalink
        January 14, 2013 12:37 pm

        Thanks Ron, I’ve already asked to be ‘disconnected’ from this group. I’m not letting the door hit me in the ahem… Thanks for the discussions – unless we can exchange dialogue without name-calling we won’t learn anything, Dan

      • January 14, 2013 12:05 pm

        Ron,

        Don’t confuse Dan with facts.

      • January 13, 2013 5:25 pm

        About that 36 weeks (wrong again, there Dan):

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11753511

      • Ron P permalink
        January 13, 2013 6:24 pm

        Sorry to butt in, but could someone clarify the 36 weeks. That is 8 months+ if my math is correct. (36/4=9, with 2 months with 5 weeks=8+ months). Where did I calculate wrong. Many infants can survive at 51/2 to 6 months, even though they will weight around 1 lb and will spend 3+ months in the Neonatal intensive care unit. My daughter take cares of these infants in the NICU and many, if not most, end up with few if any mental or physical disabilities once they have caught up in their growth.

  97. January 10, 2013 12:07 am

    By the way….a mass school shooting that didn’t happen. Someone else had a gun.

    http://www.tricities.com/news/article_35434f30-00d3-522f-98f1-58f372591713.html

    • January 10, 2013 7:57 am

      Priscilla,

      This does not fit the narrative. You will not see this story again.

  98. January 10, 2013 9:07 am

    Here is the thing about this EO…I don’t really think that the POTUS would go so far as to declare some kind of actual gun ban. It would create a huge legal backlash, and could conceivably damage his political capital right before he needs it for the debt ceiling debate and his upcoming immigration legislation. I think it will possibly include registration for buying ammunition, limits on the number of bullets in magazines, and possibly a voluntary federal buy-back of “assault weapons,” defined as any semi-automatic.

    This way, he “does something” to appease his anti-gun base, without risking too much.

    Gun control was not a hot button issue until Newtown, despite the demands for gun bans after Tucson, Aurora and other mass shootings. I think that the left wing base has forced the issue, and Obama will gladly do something to appear that he is trying to “make us safer,” without actually doing much at all, other than making life more full of red tape and obstacles for law-abiding gun owners.

    • DanM permalink
      January 10, 2013 10:12 am

      Yet another non-action that makes Obama look like a hero.

    • Ron P permalink
      January 10, 2013 12:24 pm

      So it’s “Hugo Chavez Lite” to start with?

    • Pat Riot permalink
      January 10, 2013 12:55 pm

      Pearows I think the possibility you “predict” above is very likely. They now have to do “something” because they’ve put themselves out there. They also have to make sure it’s not too obviously a “token something” so that the left doesn’t perceive it as weak. I think the legislation may be a bit stronger than you list above, such as a ban on the manufacture of certain types, but perhaps that would have an expiration date hidden in the fine print (?) so they could say that at least they did something during their time in office (?) and it was up to others to continue or overturn in the future(?) The sure thing is that they can’t just back off quietly and let it go. Too late for that.

      • January 10, 2013 2:20 pm

        Appearing to do something – as opposed to actually doing something is at the core of progressivism

        If you actually want to help the poor – volunteer at a homeless shelter or create a business that employees scores of people on the fringes or society.

        But if you want to “feel” like you are helping, throw spittle at your TV set ranting that government should do something about the problem and wait for your legislators or president to do something symbolic.

  99. DanM permalink
    January 10, 2013 10:04 am

    Here is what happens when school officials are organized, trained and equipped and have on-site deterrence in the form of trained and armed personnel.

    http://www.tricities.com/news/article_35434f30-00d3-522f-98f1-58f372591713.html

  100. DanM permalink
    January 10, 2013 1:38 pm

    According to this piece of untouchable legislation, the gun control issue is pretty much moot. To pass such laws or make any Executive Order to the contrary would put the elected officials responsible for it’s passage/issue guilty of violating their Oath of Office.

    Dick Act of 1902 – Has Anybody heard of it before?
    07/23/20111 Comment

    DICK ACT of 1902 . . .
    CAN’T BE REPEALED (GUN CONTROL FORBIDDEN) The Trump Card Enacted by the Congress Further Asserting the Second Amendment as Untouchable
    The Dick Act of 1902 also known as the Efficiency of Militia Bill H.R. 11654, of June 28, 1902 invalidates all so-called gun-control laws. It also divides the militia into three distinct and separate entities.

    The three classes H.R. 11654 provides for are the organized militia, henceforth known as the National Guard of the State, Territory and District of Columbia, the unorganized militia and the regular army. The militia encompasses every able-bodied male between the ages of 18 and 45. All members of the unorganized militia have the absolute personal right and 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms of any type, and as many as they can afford to buy.

    The Dick Act of 1902 cannot be repealed; to do so would violate bills of attainder and ex post facto laws which would be yet another gross violation of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The President of the United States has zero authority without violating the Constitution to call the National Guard to serve outside of their State borders.

    The National Guard Militia can only be required by the National Government for limited purposes specified in the Constitution (to uphold the laws of the Union; to suppress insurrection and repel invasion). These are the only purposes for which the General Government can call upon the National Guard.

    Attorney General Wickersham advised President Taft, “the Organized Militia (the National Guard) can not be employed for offensive warfare outside the limits of the United States.

    The Honorable William Gordon, in a speech to the House on Thursday, October 4, 1917, proved that the action of President Wilson in ordering the Organized Militia (the National Guard) to fight a war in Europe was so blatantly unconstitutiona​l that he felt Wilson ought to have been impeached.

    During the war with England an attempt was made by Congress to pass a bill authorizing the president to draft 100,000 men between the ages of 18 and 45 to invade enemy territory, Canada. The bill was defeated in the House by Daniel Webster on the precise point that Congress had no such power over the militia as to authorize it to empower the President to draft them into the regular army and send them out of the country.

    The fact is that the President has no constitutional right, under any circumstances, to draft men from the militia to fight outside the borders of the USA, and not even beyond the borders of their respective states. Today, we have a constitutional LAW which still stands in waiting for the legislators to obey the Constitution which they swore an oath to uphold.

    Charles Hughes of the American Bar Association (ABA) made a speech which is contained in the Appendix to Congressional Record, House, September 10, 1917, pages 6836-6840 which states: “The militia, within the meaning of these provisions of the Constitution is distinct from the Army of the United States.” In these pages we also find a statement made by Daniel Webster, “that the great principle of the Constitution on that subject is that the militia is the militia of the States and of the General Government; and thus being the militia of the States, there is no part of the Constitution worded with greater care and with more scrupulous jealousy than that which grants and limits the power of Congress over it.

    “This limitation upon the power to raise and support armies clearly establishes the intent and purpose of the framers of the Constitution to limit the power to raise and maintain a standing army to voluntary enlistment, because if the unlimited power to draft and conscript was intended to be conferred, it would have been a useless and puerile thing to limit the use of money for that purpose. Conscripted armies can be paid, but they are not required to be, and if it had been intended to confer the extraordinary power to draft the bodies of citizens and send them out of the country in direct conflict with the limitation upon the use of the militia imposed by the same section and article, certainly some restriction or limitation would have been imposed to restrain the unlimited use of such power.

    The Honorable William Gordon

    • Ron P permalink
      January 10, 2013 6:36 pm

      “The fact is that the President has no constitutional right, under any circumstances, to draft men from the militia to fight outside the borders of the USA, and not even beyond the borders of their respective states.”

      If the president can ignore this part opf the act and send the National Guard to Iraq and other middle east conflicts, why should they follow this act when it come to gun control?

      • January 10, 2013 7:17 pm

        This POTUS views the Constitution as an obstacle to be gotten around. In this way, he is JUST like FDR.

      • January 10, 2013 8:09 pm

        This is one of the problems with the so called moderates here.

        There is much public debate about GOP political strategy right now

        Should the GOP attempt to leverage the debt ceiling, the continuing resolutions, the budget (now going on 4 years with no budget despite the fact that it is required by the constitution) to attempt to reign in spending ?

        The problem is that there is no ability to negotiate

        The GOP is accused of being hostage takers – simply because of the two political parties they are the only one making even tepid attempts to return us to fiscally viability.

        You do not have to be an extremist falling off the edge of the earth libertarian, to grasp that we can not manage a decade of 25% of budget deficits. That we can not manage if we are continuously adding 6+% of GDP to the national debt every year for more than a decade.

        I also do not see why it is extremism to wonder why the cost of the federal government has increased by 25% in one year and then stayed 25% above trend for 5 years.

        The sooner we bring this under control the easier it will be. If you think making the tough decisions is painful and hard now – just wait a few more years.

        The European governments we have been swooning over are in a double dip recession. Most of southern europe is 5 years into conditions that are WORSE than they were in either europe or the US during the great depression. Further they have little to no hope of recovery any time soon.

        And we are driving in their direction, with the pedal to the metal.

        But this president is unwilling to negotiate. He has made it perfectly clear, he will go to the edge.

        I keep hearing that the GOP is threatening to force the country to default.

        Frankly it is beyond belief that people can say this kind of crap with a straight face.

        When you are on an unsustainable spending binge – cutting up the credit cards is not forcing default. It is the only responsible choice.

        “An ADHD day trader with a cocaine habit and six months to live has more long-term planning skills than our congress”

        The president does not even believe we have a spending problem.

        In our entire history – not even in the midst of World War II were we able to collect 24% of GP in taxes.

        And the left wants to talk about minting trillion dollar coins.

        Is there anyone that grasps that what we spend must be paid for out of what we produce ? There is no magic trick to change the fact that the locusts of federal government devour 25% of what we produce.
        An increase in taxes on the wealthy will not change that.
        Helicopter Ben can print money until we need wheelbarrows full to buy bread, Treasury can try to pay of the debt with 16 of those shiny trillion dollar platinum coins.

        No gimic changes the fact that the full faith and credit of the United states is NOT based on the constitution nor the government but the willingness of the people to surrender a significant portion of what they have produced to government.

        So long as we can and are willing to do that there will be no default.
        If we can not or will not, nothing will save us from default.

        Refusal to raise the debt ceiling is NOT the equivalent of default.
        All it means is that the government must operate only on the money it collects until the debt ceiling is raised..
        That would be difficult and painful – but not impossible. It would mean a temporary cut back of 25% of spending.

        An actual government shutdown – which is what will occur if there is no continuing resolution or budget deal is actually much more draconian.

        In the one case the government can continue – so long as it spends no more than it takes in.

        In the other, regardless of money available the entire government – except a small number of essential services, must stop completely.

      • DanM permalink
        January 11, 2013 10:08 am

        Unfortunately, the only way for the populace to put any leverage on their elected officials is to either sue the government for violating the laws they are required to follow (the President is required by law to produce a budget yearly, the budget is required to be balanced, etc), recalling elected officials who are in violation of their oaths of office (not an easy thing to do), or revolting as prescribed by our Constitution (and how is that done without being viewed as extremists or worse as a member of a group intent on overthrowing the American Government – which BTW I view fits the Leftist politicians and Liberals).

        The only practical and realistic control we seem to have is the voting rights we have.

        Eliminating all but ‘essential’ services will cause a huge rift (larger than the one we have now) based on what definition of ‘essential’ services is decided. Once implemented, it’s hard to recant a social program instituted by the Government. You then get the heart wrenching reports of senior citizens freezing in their homes, children without breakfast before school and handicapped who can’t leave their homes.

        Be the ‘squeaky wheel’ – shout it over and over again to your friends, elected officials until they ‘get it’ that government spending must be cut across the board. Vote for only those who support ‘doing the job’ as spelled out by existing laws.

      • Ron P permalink
        January 11, 2013 12:38 pm

        When the GOP took control of congress in the 90’s, they came into control with the “Contract with America”. It was clear. It was concise. It told the citizens what the GOP stood for. It told Americans what they were going to do.

        Today, there is nothing like that available. They have no “list” of what they want to do that is communicated in a way that American’s can understand. They want a balanced budget. How? Cut spending? What? How much? When? No new taxes on anyone. OK, so where does the revenue come from? Tax deduction eliminations. OK, which ones? No increase int he debt ceiling. Fine, what will they shut down to continue paying the bills already run up?

        Ther problem is not an agenda, it is the communcation of the agenda that is lacking. Boehner should be out talking to any news outlet he can find, making speeches on the steps of the capital building and using any other means of communication as to what they are going to do instead of “crying” about what the Obama administration is not doing to negotiate in good faith.

        If you want to be a good opposition party, then you need a good message to back it up and right now that does not exist. Obama has the upper hand and holds the deck of cards. Gingrich never let that happen and it rest on Boehner to take charge of the GOP message and get his ducks lined up for the battle.

      • DanM permalink
        January 11, 2013 11:56 am

        Then it is time to call them on it! Shout it from the rooftops; tell your friends! Ask your elected representatives how these breaches of Oaths of Offices and the blatant disregard for the Constitution are allowed to continue (and they expect you to think they are acting in your best interest). Badger anyone you know in the media to ‘expose’ these egregious breaches!

        Just because a law has been broken in the past (or the Constitution violated for that matter) does not mean that as Americans we condone it and are allowing the practices to continue.

        The WPA and CCC instituted by FDR during the Depression were eventually found by the Supreme Court (following a private lawsuit) to be unconstitutional and therefore disbanded. FDR (and those elected officials that supported these organizations) were guilty of violating their Oaths of Offices and disregarding the US Constitution. No one ever prosecuted them or demanded their removal from office; it still does not make them innocent or right.

    • January 12, 2013 2:52 am

      DanM;

      There is no such thing as an unrepealable law.
      It is a well accepted principle of constitutional law that anything that one congress can do another can undo. Even socalled sacrosanct entitlement programs such as social security and medicare are only politically inviolable. Any future congress can declare social security ended effective immediately – perfectly legal and constitutional.

      The only way to make a change that has a chance at being inviolable is to pass a constitutional amendment.

      The current interpretation of the 2nd amendment recognizes an individual right to gun ownership. The extent of that right is indeterminant. It is unlikely that even the current supreme court would find a constitutional issue with an assault rifle ban. I would note that a supreme court holding that something is constitutional does nto make it a good idea. PPACA comes to mind.

      • DanM permalink
        January 12, 2013 11:43 am

        Regardless, it is still on the books and still enforceable.

  101. January 10, 2013 7:37 pm

    5 Facts on Gun Violence

    http://reason.com/reasontv/2013/01/10/reasons-5-facts-on-guns-and-gun-violence

    If you can nto see the world how it really is how do you expect to take actions ?

  102. January 10, 2013 8:19 pm

    More good government policy helping the poor of the world

    http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2013/01/the-impact-of-biofuel-policy-on-guatemala.html

  103. January 10, 2013 8:21 pm

    This was from a liberal blog.

    After the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, my boss was asked by Speaker Pelosi to write and pass the legislation that created the National Instant Check System (we did, proudest thing I ever did). I was in charge of finding a way for the NRA and the Brady Campaign to endorse the final product (they did). Since so many are posting about more gun control, here are my observations about what is possible:

    1) The NRA isn’t successful because they are evil geniuses, they are successful because they have 20 7 million members and almost one-third of 46% of Americans household have a gun;
    2) NRA members commit crimes at a much lower rate than most Americans;
    3) There are more privately owned guns in America than there are people, we can’t ban them…ever;
    4) The rate of gun crime today is lower than it has been in 50 years;
    5) Making sure people who need mental health care receive it, is all of our responsibilities. Ensuring that they never come into contact with guns is incredibly challenging;
    6) During our negotiations, it wasn’t the NRA that was opposed to putting the names of people receiving anti-psychotic medication into the Instant Check database…it was advocates for the mentally ill;
    7) Reasonable gun owners would agree to a ban on high capacity bullet clips;
    8) There probably should be a system where individual gun sales by individual owners be tracked nationally, but that wouldn’t have made a difference in any mass shooting since Columbine;
    9) The weapons yesterday were legally bought, registered, locked, and owned by the first victim;
    10) Yesterday in China, a man walked into a school and stabbed 22 children. It was the fourth mass stabbing at a school in China this year. Private gun ownership is illegal in China.;

    • January 10, 2013 11:17 pm

      Sounds very reasonable. There is the possibility that these will be the reasonable suggestions that VP Biden presents to Obama on Tuesday.

      If so, an issue that could have been framed in a moderate and bipartisan way was, instead, politicized and made into yet another polarizing debate. Decent, moral and law-abiding people were unnecessarily demonized and the President and his party used an awful tragedy to score political points. I’m so tired of this.

      • January 11, 2013 7:57 am

        Kind of like the Tea Party being framed as a bunch of loons and radicals while the Occupy folks were invited to the WH.

      • asmith permalink
        January 12, 2013 2:42 am

        One should note the NRA is a single issue advocacy group.

        They are perfectly content to see harsh restrictions placed on violence in entertainment if that prevents further restrictions on gun ownership.

        But the right to guns is not the only right we have. There is a first amendment as well as a second.

        The problem with a ban on high capacity magazines is just that it is stupid.
        While it is an infringement on rights – as is any prohibition, or any restriction based on what we might do rather than punishment for what we have done. That said it is not a significant infringement.
        But it is an ineffectual one. High capacity magazines will be available whether they are legal or not. Mass Killers will be able to get them. Prohibiting them does little besides increase their price. Have we learned nothing from our other efforts at prohibiting things ? How well did prohibition work ? The war on Drugs ?

        Must we do something ineffectual and stupid just to feel good ? To feel like we are doing something ?

        Mental Health is a common theme among all mass killers. But statistically the mentally ill are no more likely to commit violent crimes as a whole than ordinary people. Only a single group – Paranoid Schizophrenics has a higher than ordinary tendency towards violence – and even they are far more likely than not never to act violently.
        Adam Lanza’s known mental health issues have absolutely no correlation with violence. Further evidence shows that psychiatrists and psychologists are no better than ordinary humans at predicting who will engage in violence and who will not.
        We already prohibit people with mental health issues from purchasing guns. But there is no reason to believe that is effective – or that becoming more diligent about it would be effective.
        The recent newspaper debacle is just ammunition against any national registration database. Lets publish a list of everyone nationwide who owns guns. The NRA is concerned that it will just be a list of who to confiscate weapons from, but it is also a list of who to steal them from, as well as a list of whose home not to burglarize. That sounds good – unless you are not on the list. Then your absence becomes an invitation to be burglarized
        I would also note that of the thousands of people killed in this country only a few hundred are killed by rifles of all kinds – including “assault riffles”. You are more likely to be beaten to death by someone with no weapon at all than to be killed by a rifle. The weapon involved in the overwhelming majority of gun deaths is a handgun, and nearly half of those deaths are suicides.
        But lets ban assault weapons – it will make us feel like we are doing something. While we are at it, lets ban lightning strikes, heart attacks and cancer. Oh, and cigarettes, and alcohol, and …..

      • January 12, 2013 8:06 am

        “Must we do something ineffectual and stupid just to feel good ? To feel like we are doing something ?”

        This might as well be the creed and marching orders for the left!

      • DanM permalink
        January 12, 2013 11:42 am

        Asmith – thumbs up! Doing nothing on an emotional issue doesn’t get you re-elected though! That’s why ineffective legislation gets passed!

    • DanM permalink
      January 11, 2013 10:13 am

      And our ‘Pravda’ will do it’s best to make sure that this Liberal Blog never is seen by the general public. Like the Dick Bill.

      • January 11, 2013 10:07 pm

        It’s sad, isn’t it? I saw a Facebook thing today, posted by one of my very liberal friends, that said “Your paranoid fantasies about fighting a future facist dictatorship do not trump my right to demand reasonable public health policies to curb gun violence!”

        This is just ridiculous. The second amendment was clearly added to the Constitution to protect democracy and liberty, not public health. And reasonable public health and gun policies are not inconsistent with the Constitution.

        But our ‘Pravda’ will make it so.

      • Ron P permalink
        January 12, 2013 12:38 am

        Interesting how its fine to enfringe on the right to bear arms, but let us try to curb violence in movies, limit content in video games or create a database of mental health patients that would show up in a background check and that is unconstitutional. For those that beleive in the constitution, they are all unconstitutional as it enfringes on rights.

        If we could ever stop argueing, then maybe some solution to the issue might be devised, but nothing will happen as long as we have the leadership in Washington we have today.

      • January 12, 2013 8:04 am

        Yes, it is always the other guys rights that are OK to trample on.

      • DanM permalink
        January 12, 2013 11:36 am

        To me there really is nothing to ‘argue’ about. The 2nd amentment and the Dick Bill make arguing over gun control a moot issue – the right to bear arms is not going away. They may regulate the daylights out of them but banning firearms just won’t happen.

        Anyways the real issue is being overlooked – how do we best protect our schools?

      • January 12, 2013 11:10 am

        The crux of the gun issue, for me at least, is where do you draw the line between weapons that should be legal and those that should be illegal. It’s not an either/or situation… it’s more of a continuum. We already forbid private individuals from owning certain types of arms: you’ll find no bazookas, tanks or grenade launchers in your neighbor’s garage. (And thank goodness for that much!) Imagine if we had to wonder whether Joe Krapitz down the street has the bomb.

        So I don’t see why a ban on semi-automatic weapons would be any more of an infringement on the right to bear arms. Americans could still bear all the arms they want, as long as they’re not equipped with multi-round magazines that can blow away two dozen people in a one-minute outburst. We’ve talked about this before, I know… how do you define a semi-automatic? (Does a six-shooter qualify?) How do you impose a prohibition on certain types of weapons without creating a profitable new black market? These are legitimate questions. But my impression is that most of the mass shootings have been carried out by demented slackers who had easy access to semi-automatic weapons. They weren’t hard-core militia men with underground connections; they were isolated young men with borderline personalities (or worse) who obtained assault weapons much too easily.

        There will always be people who go out of their way to make end-runs around the laws, but we can at least cut down on the number of incidents by tightening the laws. No slippery slope here… just a ban on a category of weapons that our Founding Fathers never anticipated. (And no, that doesn’t mean we have to stick with muskets and flintlock rifles.) Semi-automatic weapons don’t belong in private hands any more than bazookas do.

      • Ron P permalink
        January 12, 2013 1:00 pm

        “The crux of the gun issue, for me at least, is where do you draw the line between weapons that should be legal and those that should be illegal”

        Rick, that puts you in the catagory of people that trust our government to do what is right and not do anything other than what is right. Those of us that are totally against a ban on any guns and ammo are in the catagory that we distrust our government in many instances and do not beleive it will do the right thing all the time.

        We trusted our government to invest and protect social security funds. How did that work out? We trusted our government when it said we had to go to Viet Nam and stop communism from spreading far and wide across the far east. How did that work out? We trusted our government when it said Iraq had biological weapons and we had to stop them from using those. Was that the truth? And one can find hundreds of other examples to show where government can not be trusted.

        Now they ask us to accept that they will not ban any weapons that do not meet a strict guideline or certain ammo loading mechanisms and that will never be expanded for other weapons. You believe that to be true at this time. I believe it to be the first step in an effort to control more weapons in the future. I also believe that any “standard” the government sets for movies and video games will also be the first steps in regulating content by the federal government. And finally, developing a database for mentally ill patients to be used during background checks will be the first steps in the use of this infomation by other government agencies for other reasons.

        You have trust in your government. I do not. It has shown multiple times it can not be trusted. And if you look at words spoken by many of the founding fathers, they also held that same view toward trusting government to do the right thing.

      • January 12, 2013 5:12 pm

        It is indeed, sad, but very true that the Feds have been eroding our trust for many many years.

      • DanM permalink
        January 12, 2013 4:33 pm

        RIck,

        Semi-automatic firearms have been available to civilians for years for hunting. Every semi-automatic produced for hunting has a multi-bullet magazine of some capacity. Varmint rifles are semi-automatic because there may be several targets in an area. Larger caliber semi-automatic hunting firearms give you the confidence that the bear, moose or elk you just shot will not get to you before you can eject a shell, put in another one, aim and pull the trigger (as you would have to do with a bolt-action rifle). Some bolt action rifles have magazines, but still require you to pull the bolt back and slide it forward before firing. Just enough time for that animal to make a meal out of you.

        As I’ve said before on this forum: the AR-15 used in Newtown is simply a .223 hunting rifle with doo-dads attached to it to give it a military look. The .223 bullet is used for ‘varmint’ hunting – rabbits, squirrels, up to coyotes. In many states they are illegal to use on larger game (wild boar, deer, etc, as they do not have the penetrating power to kill the animal with one shot. So much for ‘High Powered’ for the AR-15 eh General McChrystal?

        AGAIN, THE ISSUE IS NOT WHICH GUNS SHOULD WE BAN, IT’S HOW DO WE BETTER PROTECT OUR SCHOOL CHILDREN? Banning assault rifles and not banning all firearms to achieve some level of security for our schools is like banning Wine to stop drunk driving; there are so many other choices. Handguns (the majority sold are semi-automatic) are the predominant firearm used in gun ‘incidents’ by a large percentage, but folks want to focus on the ‘assault style’ weapons because they were used at Newtown. As Ben Shapiro told Piers Morgan, “Justifying banning a specific weapon type because of the victims of Newtown is dancing on the graves of those victims. Saying that a type of weapon should be banned while ascribing it to ‘safety of our children’ has the same ethical impact of a parent holding their child up to a gunman.

        Hand grenades, bazookas and mortars have never been a civilian weapon and are not even remotely considered by firearms enthusiasts as viable ‘sport’ firearms.

      • January 12, 2013 5:06 pm

        Sounds like you just want to do something so that you feel better.

      • January 12, 2013 1:38 pm

        Bingo, Ron.

        Not all gun control advocates are looking to ban guns, but many are. That is just a fact, and it is also a fact that politicians rarely say what they really mean when discussing guns. Gabby Giffords and her husband have formed a gun control PAC, seeking to ban assault weapons. Giffords and the other victims of the Tucson shooting were shot with a handgun….so handguns will certainly meet their criteria for “assault weapons.” It IS a slippery slope, by design.

        The Founding Fathers did not put the 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights to protect hunters and gamesmen from losing their sport. They put it there to make sure that a potentially tyrannical government could not disarm its citizenry. The generation of Americans that lived through the Great Depression and WWII, witnessed the disarming of the German citizenry, but that does not seem to be a concern of today’s liberals who seem to believe that nothing like that would ever happen here….and that anyone who thinks it could is an extremist wingnut.

      • January 12, 2013 5:13 pm

        Nailed it!

      • January 12, 2013 2:26 pm

        By the way, I ‘m not accusing Rick of being a liberal gun-grabber ;)

        In fact, I know you are not, Rick. But, I agree with Ron’s point that you have a great deal of trust in this government…. more than I think any government deserves.

      • January 12, 2013 5:14 pm

        Yes, if all moderates were as reasonable as Rick, I would be less concerned about my loss of rights. But, alas, Rick is, well, Rick.

  104. January 10, 2013 8:22 pm

    What is the actual historic results of fiscal austerity ?

    http://www.econlib.org/library/Columns/y2013/Murphytaxrates.html

  105. January 10, 2013 10:55 pm

    another example of the wonders of government – the Post office.
    Does free market mail service work – Europe seems to think so.

    http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2013/01/10/the_us_postal_service_can_get_real_or_go_the_way_of_hostess_100080.html

  106. January 10, 2013 11:11 pm

    Are we better off that ever before – Housing edition.

    http://www.aei-ideas.org/channel/carpe-diem/

    It is interesting to note that though the housing bubble is readily apparent in the graphs, The current housing state appears to be a return to the trend line rather than a catastrophic failure – i.e. housing affordability is about where the long term trends indicate it would be, and the anomaly is the bubble.

    I would also note that the median american home (or apartment) is twice the size of one in Europe (atleast), and twice the size it was 4 decades ago.

  107. Pat Riot permalink
    January 12, 2013 1:55 pm

    As we speak, there are first-time homebuyers in some pockets of the U.S. who are stabilizing and improving the housing markets in those pockets.

    Unfortunately, most of the very slow “stabilizing” of the housing market in the rest of the U.S. is from a glut of investors which is not quite as good.First-time homebuyers are the ones who go out and buy new furniture, lawn mowers, et cetera, but many would-be first-time homebuyers are short of cash and not qualifying for mortgages. The investors do often improve the properties, however, and that is also some good.

    So, this is my point: if we can just avert the kinds of crises that undermine consumer confidence (e.g. terrorist attacks, market monkey business, additional government hurdles)–long enough for a few years of first-time homebuyers to fill those houses and increase the demand for new homes…we’d be on our way to significant recovery. Therefore, Americans getting out of the habit of panic would be a good idea. So, everyone turn off your TV sets and get to work, ride out the hype and the bullshit and keep improving your own lot long enough (3 to 6 years?) for those graduating classes to buy houses, and at least we’d get a breather from downturn, say? Oversimplified certainly, but true?

    • January 12, 2013 2:28 pm

      I will turn off my TV as soon as I am done watching “Honey Boo-boo” and “All My Baby Mamas.” ;)

      • DanM permalink
        January 12, 2013 4:38 pm

        Pearows – Say it ain’t so!! Now your brain will rot and all your posts will begin to sound like the mad rantings of a rabid squirrel! Poor, poor pearows!

  108. Pat Riot permalink
    January 12, 2013 4:45 pm

    Well, yeah, we must stay current on the quality programs! Let’s not be extremists!

  109. January 12, 2013 5:21 pm

    Apparently, these thugs didn’t get the memo about gun control in Chicago?

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-boy-14-killed-on-west-side-20130112,0,570152.story

  110. January 13, 2013 3:43 pm

    Pearows;

    I have little doubt that Rick and many so called moderates like him would eventually get to confiscating all weapons.

    That is how “moderate” infringement on rights works.

    First, you impose a small infringement – it sounds reasonable, the cost is not too high, then when it fails and you get another Newtown type incident – because there will alwaays be another, you decide that your minor imposition was not sufficient and you go a step further. This continues until there is no semblance of whatever right you started with left.

    Nor is this specific to guns. Whenever you allow any infringement on any right without a clear bright line defining in a principled way the limits of allowable government infringement that is what you get.

    Article I Section 10 of the Constitution bars the government from interfering in any way with contracts. A contract is any freely entered agreement between two people. For most of the history of this country that created an almost impenetrable barrier to the regulatory state. The contracts clause was an insuperable barrier to the New Deal and it had to go.

    Today that portion of Article 1 Section 10 is meaningless.

    All the legislation that requires the government to receive preferential treatment – common in medicare, social security, …. would all be unconstitutional if the contracts clause had the least teeth. All the legislation that prohibits privately contracting for a service that government provides – such as the exclusivity of medicare, would be unconstitutional.
    Mandates – such as PPACA would be unconstitutional.

    Most of modern government would be impossible if government was not allowed to interfere with the otherwise free and legal actions of ordinary people.

    The importance of the contracts clause fell in a single event, but the intrusions on our basic rights that followed were all imposed in tiny steps that all seemed reasonable at the time.

    That is how we lose our liberty – by little bits, in order to achieve some more important public good, that never actually gets accomplished.

    Again look at the real world. It is beyond any doubt that we are all far better of than 50, 100, 200 years ago. But what of that improvement is attributable to anything government has done ?

    Just as an example automotive safety has improved dramatically in the past 50 years.
    There have been several clear broad regulatory actions that government advocates like to credit for saving lives. Manditory safety belts, Air Bags, but looking at the trend for traffic safety, it is a continuous gradual improvement with no significant departures from the trend. Automotive safety did not radically improve with the imposition of 55 mph speed limits, nor decline when they disappeared, there is no point at which you can say – there we imposed seatbelts, or there airbag laws took effect.

    Numerous factors have improved driving safety – some have been human – we are actually becoming better drivers, same are market driven – cars themselves are gradually becoming safer – and we value that fairly highly.

    The government has lobbied us HARD to move to smaller more fuel efficient cars. Yet look arround on the roads ? The average car is bigger and far safer than 5 decades ago.
    We drive mini-vans and SUV’s. Nor is it Tim Taylor types that are driving this. It is soccer mom’s seeking to safely transport their families who have defied government edicts to buy small efficient cars. Even the poor buy bigger cars when they are able.
    When I was a child the poor areas of my community had a plethora of “rice rockets” if there were cars at all. Now the common cars in that community are SUV’s and BMW’s.
    Often older than those in more affluent areas, but still not Ford Focuses – and Japan produces luxury cars for the american market not tiny small cars.
    we are buying what we want – not what government wants. Not what those who purportedly know better are telling us to buy. And as a result we are safer. That choice has involved trade-offs. Gas might be significantly cheaper if cars all got 45mph (or it might not because demand drives production, exploration, advanced technology and ultimately lowers costs.

    My point is that we have done pretty well for ourselves – not because of, but in spite of government.

    We will not be any safer if we ban “assault weapons” or high capacity ammunition magazines. Most of us intuitively grasp that. It is very hard to get the results we want when regulating at the center of action. It is impossible when we try to regulate the fringes. We might as well ban lightning as ban assault weapons the probability of acheiving our desired results is about as great.

    But after banning magazines and assault weapons, when there is another Newton – and there will be, the need to have government “do something” will be no weaker.
    Those who see a small loss of someone else’s freedom as acceptable now will be just as willing to impose another small loss on someone else then.

    • January 13, 2013 3:57 pm

      For the record I do not think confiscation of all weapons is what Rick intends, but it does not matter, because that is where his approach and logic eventually lead.

      Further it is clear from his views on the regulation of speech,that Rick is perfectly willing to impose draconian infringements.

      • January 14, 2013 1:36 pm

        Dave: First of all, I don’t have the power to impose anything on anyone, other than bedtime and TV rules for my 8-year-old son. (Even there, it’s no easy win for old Dad.)

        More important, I wouldn’t classify the banning of semi-automatic weapons and ammo clips as “draconian.” People would still be free to own guns and shoot them, as long as they don’t have the capacity to fire off 30 rounds without reloading. Banning ALL guns in private hands would be draconian, and you know I’m not in favor of that.

        Finally, I don’t know what it will take to convince libertarians that the government isn’t out to deprive them of their rights. I’ve lived longer than Teddy Roosevelt, I’ve lived all that time in the US, and I honestly can’t remember one instance of the government depriving me of personal liberty. The long lines at airline checkpoints are about as bad as it gets. Taxes are lower than at any point in my lifetime, so Uncle Sam isn’t confiscating what’s left of my wealth. I honestly don’t know why you guys feel so threatened all the time. It all seems to be based on “what if?”… in other words, it’s all hypothetical thinking.

      • January 14, 2013 2:57 pm

        Rick,

        I don think you are off a bit here. It is clear (at least to me) that there are plenty of pols who WOULD deprive anyone of their rights and do it without a thought. Mike Bloomberg is one, and Barack Obama is another.

        Would you agree with this?:

      • January 14, 2013 3:34 pm

        Well, Bloomberg outlawing “Big Gulps” doesn’t strike me as a fundamental infringement on human rights. Hey, if I want to guzzle soda, I’ll just buy two smaller “gulps”… or buy a liter bottle at the supermarket and guzzle it at home. As for Obama… I still can’t think of a fundamental right he’d want to abolish.

        I get the idea of the “death by a thousand cuts,” or the “lobster in a pot of hot water” or whatever you might want to call it. The only area where I’ve actually seen it happen is with smokers’ rights: first banned from the workplace, then from bars, then even from certain outdoor areas. (I’m not a smoker, so it didn’t affect me.) There was some rationale for it, ever since it was discovered that second-hand smoke can harm nonsmokers — though I think the ordinances went to extremes. But other than that, I can’t think of any other areas where the government has squeezed fundamental human rights. We’re still free to say pretty much whatever we want, unlike some European countries where certain ideas are actually considered criminal.

        There have always been government-imposed prohibitions of one kind or another — speed limits, legal drinking age, driving drunk or without insurance — that are designed to protect us from the careless actions of others. Then we have more controversial laws designed to protect us from ourselves: seat belt requirements, prohibition of hard drugs, the banning of Big Gulps, etc. I can understand a libertarian’s objections to laws in the second category, but I’d say a ban on semi-automatics would fall into the first category. It really shouldn’t even be all that controversial.

      • January 14, 2013 4:39 pm

        Its way more than the Big Gulp move. Bloomberg would take very gun he could if allowed to (he has already said so) and he is now deciding on the amount of pain killers your local ER doc can hand you.

        No, I think your essentially trusting nature is off here. There are plenty of pols on the left that would love to ban guns entirely, tax carbon to death, dictate what kinds of light bulbs you can buy, make you subsidize student loans for others. etc.

        If I am wrong, I must be reading the wrong news sites.

      • DanM permalink
        January 14, 2013 4:25 pm

        Fuck You ASSHOLE

      • Ron P permalink
        January 15, 2013 12:31 am

        Rick, could be that there were enough Libertarians that came before us that stopped government from doing what we fear this time also. You trust elected officials. I do not. They have done nothing to gain my trust, just like most everyone else. Until someone earns my trust, I verify and test what their actions until that trust is earned. So far, elected officals have done nothing to make me think they will not take away rights one step at a time.

      • January 15, 2013 8:00 am

        Dead on. There is no empirical evidence that suggests you can trust most pols.

      • January 14, 2013 4:39 pm

        So, Bloomberg’s limiting of prescription drugs in order to curb drug abuse, despite the possibility that some poor people would have to “suffer a little bit” doesn’t persuade you, Rick? Granted, I addressed this further down in the thread, but I see Bloomberg and his ilk as elitist big government at its worst, and I do think we tolerate that stuff at our own peril.

      • January 14, 2013 6:14 pm

        Rick;

        You have the power to do anything that you can persuade our government to do that is within the boundaries of what it can do.

        If you do not believe there are any definable limits to government, that means that you potentially have the power to do anything.

        It also means that anyone else has the same power.

        Without any defined limits at best you are talking about pure democracy, which is the system that compelled Socrates to drink hemlock.
        At worst you have chosen a path towards totalitarianism – if you are lucky a benign totalitarianism that mostly serves you – at the expense of others.

        Regardless, absent clearly defined limits to government
        you are inevitably talking about continuous loss of rights until you have few or none.

        In the world as YOU imagine it, the only question is at what rate we lose rights, not whether.

        If it makes you happy to have me conceded that it might take many generations to get to servitude – fine.

        But so long as you are NEVER willing to say this far but no father, So long as you ALWAYS see a government solution to every problem, you are on “The Road to Serfdom”, and all we are debating is how fast we are traveling.

        One of the reasons that you are progressive, is that you do not seem to grasp that.

        That is an issue of LOGIC not one of ideology.

        All expansions of government power, all regulations – no matter how beneficial come at a cost in freedom. You may chose to be blind to that, but it does not make it untrue.

        If you believe that you are still free – try to start almost any business, try to open a resturaunt, a hair salon a lemonade stand.

        You may be able to do so, but it is far harder than 50 years ago.
        And for many poorer people who could have done it in the past, it is impossible today.

        Maybe, just maybe the liberal argument that this has made us somehow safer is true – though I would argue that most if not all that improvement was inevitable, but even if the liberal claim is true, we have sacrificed alot of freedom – freedom that is most beneficial to those at the bottom not those at the top, in return for small improvements in security.

      • January 14, 2013 6:27 pm

        Rick;

        I want to address some of your issues separately.

        First taxes are NOT really lower than at anytime in your lifetime.
        All that is changed is how they are collected.

        The Federal government currently takes almost 25% of what we produce – that is up from a fairly stable average of 18.5% since WWII.

        The overwhelming majority of that cost is paid by the richest 10% of us – who are also paying the lowest rates ever – which is about as good a proof as you could ever get of the laffer curve.

        But regardless of tax rates, one quarter of the wealth we produce is being confiscated by government – and that is UP not down.

        That government has managed to do that without your noticing does nto make it so.

        That our standard of living has doubled over the past 50 years so that what we can buy with what is left over after our taxes is greater may make that less painful, but it does not make the bite of government smaller, and it does not mean that one way or another you are paying it.

        Separately, the federal government is spending 1/4 more than it is collecting in taxes. That is a big deal – because either you or your children will eventually have to pay that – that is inescapable.

        If our standard of living continues to rise – which it is not doing right now, then paying that increase in the future might not feel too painful – thought the current 25% deficit is too great to be overcome by improvements in standard of living.

        So even if you were correct that your taxes were lower than ever before in your life – they are artificially low – the rates are phony, and unsustainable.

        Why is it so hard for you to grasp that ?

        There is no question at all about “IF”, only one of “WHEN”.

        We have time to fix this – but not much. And it will get harder in the future.

      • January 14, 2013 9:21 pm

        What would be interesting is to try to tally up the total tax bill that Americans pay. I am talking about all forms of taxes and fees paid to any government agency, state, federal, or local.

        I bet it would be a stunning figure.

      • January 14, 2013 6:47 pm

        Rick;

        You think there has been no loss of freedom ?

        For most of my lifetime the US was ranked as the most free country in the world. Now we are no longer in the top ten. We have dropped below Canada – which is not particularly impressive.

        Try hitchhiking.
        Try not recycling, so we are being forced to waste enormous amounts of effort on something totally unproductive.
        Try starting any of myriads of businesses ?
        Try building your own home ?
        The quintessential example of american architecture – Falling Water would be illegal in myriads of ways today.
        Try burning your garbage ?
        Try planting a garden in your front yard, or raising a goat in your back yard.
        The government will dictate how many pets and of what type they may be.
        Try chosing not to have health insurance ?
        Try hiring a housekeeper ?
        Try getting pain killers at the hospital,
        Try getting a large soft drink at the theater

        There are myriads more or more things you can not do, or can not do without great difficulty.

        Nothing is ever removed from that list, and it grows larger and larger all the time.

        You want to ban large ammunition clips – fine. But that will have absolutely zero effect on mass killings and you either know that or should know it. So what are you going to ban after the next mass killing – because there will be one ?

        In the US death’s from “Assault Weapons” are a tiny, tiny percent of all violent deaths, they are not even a consequential percentage of gun deaths. And the numbers have declined by a factor of 4 in the past decade.

        Even if you reduced them to zero you will still have future mass killings – so what are you going to do next ?

        I do not honestly beleive that there will ever come a point at which you will see some bad thing happen in the world and be willing to say – government should not respond to this. Sometimes bad things happen, or some bad things have to be tolerated because it is the cost of a free society, and because on net the harm we see is less than that which is unseen.

        Again, I will agree the rate at which we are losing our freedoms is slow. The infringements are small.

        But they are also endless. The biggest problem is not with Bernie Sanders and his ilk. It is that so called moderates such as yourself, never see any limits. See every problem as needing government intervention. Will accept permanently losing freedom bit by bit, in return for illusions.

      • January 14, 2013 6:49 pm

        If the only place you have seen a loss of rights was smoking, then you are blind. But even so:

        First they came for the communists,
        and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
        Then they came for the socialists,
        and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
        Then they came for the trade unionists,
        and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
        Then they came for the jews,
        and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
        Then they came for the catholics,
        and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a catholic.
        Then they came for me,
        and there was no one left to speak for me.

        Martin Niemoller.

      • January 14, 2013 7:02 pm

        If you buy two mini-gulps instead of 1 big gulp – then you are both still less free – you have had to work harder, and pay more, and produce more waste to get what you wanted.

        Further, you are circumventing the intent of the law – and for your information that too is illegal. Probably Bloomberg will not prosecute you – today. But eventually it will come – and you will be sitting there saying “well being forced to only buy one smaller drink than i want, that is not really too much of an imposition, I am still mostly free.

        Recently my wife had a client – he was a squirley guy. He bought into the Y2K mess and removed all his money from the banks prior to the year 2000 – about 250K.
        In 2003 he decided that maybe the banks were safe again.
        And he started putting his money back into the bank.
        But he knew than banks were required to report all cash deposits of 10,000 or more, so he deposited 9,000 at a time. This eventually came to the attention of the police, the DA, the state AG and the US Department of Justice.
        They confiscated all his money, through him in jail for several years, and fined him 500K. His crime ? deliberately trying to avoid the bank reporting laws.
        No one has charged him with getting his money in a nefarious fashion, or anything else.

        Nor is this nearly as unusual as you think.

        Across the country, law enforcement is confiscating money and property – because it might have some nexus with criminal activity.

        small motel, hotel and resturaunt owners are being advised to keep their property mortgaged – never to own it free and clear, because the government may confiscate it.

        They do nto have to charge the owner with anything. They just have to claim that the property may have been used in some pattern of criminal activities. It is not necescary that the owner participated in these, or knew about them. It is not even necescary to prove that they happened with certainty – only that it iwas likely they did.

        What motel or hotel or resturant in this country has never had someone conduct a drug deal or prostitution ?

        This stuff happens all the time. The media is just more interested in Sandy hook than the local mom and pop motel, so you do not hear about it.

    • DanM permalink
      January 13, 2013 6:16 pm

      Agreed!

  111. January 13, 2013 4:13 pm

    Economics AND gun humor all in one.

    https://i.chzbgr.com/maxW500/6124357632/hF77EFC8C/

  112. January 14, 2013 1:33 am

    Some interesting obeservations – if the author of this article is to be beleived, the recent rash of mass school killings with guns STARTED after we banned guns from schools

    http://davekopel.org/2A/OthWr/principal&gun.htm

  113. January 14, 2013 10:02 am

    Dave, I think that this specific argument – that gun control will inevitably lead to banning and confiscation – is an argument that well-meaning liberals/moderates reject, because their view of the government as always benevolent is at odds with the limited government view of the founding fathers, who understood that even benevolent rulers were still….well, rulers.

    Look at what Mike Bloomberg is looking to do in NYC….restrict the amount of painkillers like oxycontin available to hospitals, in order to curb perscription drug abuse. He’s already ordered it done in public hospitals and wants private hospitals to follow. Bloomberg’s answer to the question of whether or not this might cause shortages for those who are in pain?

    “…supposing it is really true, so you didn’t get enough painkillers and you did have to suffer a little bit. The other side of the coin is people are dying and there’s nothing perfect … There’s nothing that you can possibly do where somebody isn’t going to suffer, and it’s always the same group [claiming], ‘Everybody is heartless.’ Come on, this is a very big problem.” http://politicker.com/2013/01/bloomberg-slaps-down-criticism-of-painkiller-restriction-plan/

    So, curbing the problem of drug abuse trumps the need of people who need pain killers, because it is ” a big problem.” Unless, of course, were to be, say, Mike Bloomberg, who needed more than a 3 day supply of medication for severe pain.

    Because those kinds of laws only apply to the hoi polloi, I suppose. Or, at least that is what Bloomberg, surrounded by guards armed with semi-automatic weapons, apparently believes.

    • January 14, 2013 10:31 am

      prescription**

    • January 14, 2013 12:14 pm

      If Bloomberg doesn’t want to be Hitler, he is sure making it seem so. That clown is one scary dude.

    • January 14, 2013 2:00 pm

      My argument is NOT that if we allow restrictions on the number of rounds of ammunition in a magazine that this will be followed in short order by confiscation of guns.

      It is that each small sacrifice of freedom and liberty makes the next easier.

      Minor restrictions on guns today will lead to minor restrictions on other things tomorow – like pain killers and soda sizes.

      The loss of freedom is accomplished in tiny increments.

      We have already lost significant amounts o freedom – the ability of those at the bottom to open their own business today is nearly non-existent.

      Most of use have fathers or grandfathers, or great grandfathers that came here with nothing and eventually made something of themselves.

      The “Albert Knobs” character from the recent movie was a servant in a boarding home, yet had a reasonably aspiration to be a shop keeper. Numerous other characters managed to go from the dregs to running their own small business.

      That is far harder – if not impossible today. Both the poor and the nation suffer because of that.

      The primary if not ONLY reason those rungs are missing from our ladder is government regulations intended to make us all safer or otherwise better off.

      The left has no grasp that even small losses of freedom have a cost – and those costs are rarely paid by the rich, or big business.

      The losses are greatest on those with the least, they are losses of opportunity.

      We can and will be safer and better off as a result of the improvements that will occur naturally – without any government action. And those improvements will come without any loss of freedom.

      Even assuming that we will be safer and maybe better off as a result of legislation – both of which are far from certain, we will also be less free. We will have less opportunity, beneficial changes – large and small that we can not immagine, will not happen.

      Everything government does is a loss of freedom and liberty.

      By definition progressive government – government that grows without end no matter have small the increments are, still inevitably ends with slavery – it is “the Road to Serfdom”

      Rick and many here are ultimately liberal – not moderate, because for nearly every problem, more government – and therefore less freedom is the answer.
      If you can not articulate any principle to define any limit to government the end is slavery. It may take a century but it is still the inevitable end.

      That government MUST be limited should be obvious. The debate should be on what principles define those limits.

      But we are not having that debate.

      • January 14, 2013 2:58 pm

        The death of thousand cuts. Today, its limiting bullets, then ….

      • DanM permalink
        January 14, 2013 4:26 pm

        Fuck You ASSHOLE

      • January 14, 2013 3:23 pm

        Dave, I understand your theoretical argument. But the average person does not see the loss of liberty coming until it is gone….the old frog in the slowly boiling pot story. Better to argue specifics with an emphasis on rights and freedoms than to argue theory.

        Plus, I disagree with you that everyone on the left is blind to small incremental losses of liberty – liberals see it, but they make value judgments, such as “it is more important to protect the lives of schoolchildren, than it is to protect some dumb right in the Constitution that was written by a bunch of guys who never heard of AR 15’s”

        Those who want to ban guns are following the same playbook as nanny-staters have followed for decades…they see guns as a public health concern. So, as with smoking, first you split the restaurant in two – smiking and non-smoking – then you say “oh, that’s not working, smokers have to go outside…..but, of course, that creates a noxious, offensive plume of smoke at the door, so , oh well, better to ban smoking altogether. Move slowly and incrementally, building up public support for your position and, before you know it, a total ban no longer seems unreasonable, as it would have if you began with that.

        I think you underestimate peoples’ understanding of limited government. I would agree with you that there are those who see limited government as “hard-hearted” government and view all libertarians as virtual anarchists. But then there are moderates like me who believe that big government and loss of liberty is a “big problem” (as big as prescription drug abuse in NYC!) and want to see principled, but pragmatic, politicians who are willing to push back against the uncontrolled growth of government. I would add to that Pat’s and Ron’s argument that that will not happen until there is a cultural shift away from looking to the government to solve every problem and towards workable ways to help people help themselves.

  114. January 14, 2013 4:59 pm

    Chicago, the poster child for how well gun control works:

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=6bd_1358166839

  115. January 14, 2013 10:31 pm

    Pearows;

    It is not just liberals that argue that the ends justify the means – whihc is exactly what an argument that a small loss of freedom is acceptable in order to save the lives of a few children.

    Mostly I do not think even Rick is blind to the loss of freedom from most of what he proposes. What he is blind to is that we are not talking about an isolated incident or an occasional sacrifice of freedom. Every time congress acts there is a loss of freedom.
    Even when government acts on the most legitimate basis possible, there is still a loss of freedom. Everything government does is at the expense of our liberty.

    The question is what are the criteria, the principles under which that is acceptable.
    Rick is progressive because he has no principle beyond whim to determine when the sacrifice of freedom is acceptable and when it is not.

    I keep reiterating that is “the road to serfdom” because when there is not established principle limiting government, you can be certain that eventually the limits will be determined by people not sharing your values. This is at the core of the fallacy that rights are whatever government decides they are.

    I do not particularly care about whether AR-15’s are banned or not. The issue is more o principle.

    Banning things just does not work.

    And i am not interested in anyone’s argument for some sacrifice of freedom until they can articulate a general limiting principle for when freedom may be sacrificed for some hoped for greater good and when it can not.

    Nor do I think Rick is consciously for a total ban of guns. But i do beleive that as the “reasonable” measures he favors fail, he will feel compelled to take additional steps using the same justification that he did for high capacity magazines and assault rifles.
    Government regulation is one of few things in the world were failure successfully drives us to do even more of the failed approach.

    There are no “workable ways to have people help themselves”. The form of the statement presumes that people need government help to help themselves. It presumes a top down solution. As such it starts with a presumption of failure.

    People help themselves when government is not in the way.
    Sometimes they do so because they are inspired and want to
    Sometimes because they need to, to survive.

    If progressivism actually worked, if government really and truly could “help people to help themselves” without greater negative consequences than positive ones then I could support liberalism. But it does not work. It defies human nature. I think it is hard hearted to do things that are harmful to those I am trying to help, and harmful to society as a whole solely to make myself feel better.

    NPR recently returned to Haiti. Billions have been spent. Some of the rubble has been cleaned up. Despots and Crony’s have gotten rich. Various NGO’s and government groups have bathed in aide money. But Haiti is not a whole lot better off than immediately after the earthquake.

    This should not surprise us. It is not possible to force help on other people – not even if they want it. The very best we can do is to let them help themselves.
    Haiti is a tropical paradise. Most surrounding islands and nations, even the dominican republic are doing far far better.
    Haitti is suffering from our help among other things.

    Helping others is extremely hard. Government is probably the worst way to attempt it that exists.

    The one way that we know of that works far better than anything else in existance – not perfectly, just best, is to give people sufficient freedom to help themselves. The overwhelming majority can and will. Nearly all will do better, many will do incredibly well some will even become wealthy, and all of us will benefit from that.

  116. January 14, 2013 10:44 pm

    As a result of studies conducted by John Lott, as well as the counter studies done to attempt to discredit them, there is now a significant body of actual studies on the effects of gun control.

    While there are studies that demonstrate increases in crime – particularly murder rates corresponding to the imposition of gun control laws, as well as studies demonstrating decreases when gun control is relaxed – there is some controversy over many of these studies. HOWEVER the best results that counter studies have produced is that gun control has NO effect on violence.

    Regardless, there is no longer credible argument FOR gun control.

    So why are we even having this debate ?

    Again we are looking to restrict freedom, for the purpose of feeling like we have done something rather than actually accomplishing anything.

    That is an abysmal argument for doing anything.

    Personally I do not think we should nationally regulate anything merely on the belief that it would be effective. One of the arguments for federalism is that we have 50 states where we can try these things out and see how they work, and when something actually works then we can consider whether imposing it nationally might have merit.

    On that basis we NEVER should have imposed PPACA. While Romney care is not the abysmal failure that the right has predicted – it has not been any great success, and if offers plenty of good reason to believe that all the cost savings claims for PPACA are malarky.. I beleive the statistics indicate that Romney care has cost Massachusetts 2%/year in healthcare costs compared to the rest of the country. That may not seem much, bet once again remember that 1%/year over 20-30 years is a 50% increase in standard of living.

    • January 14, 2013 11:57 pm

      Dave – a government can provide help to those who are in need of temporary financial assistance, emergency aid to states that have experienced natural disasters, and even provide funding for certain types of research that might serve the public good, but for which there may not be other immediate sources of funding. These are, in my view, workable ways to help people help themselves.

      In general, I agree with you that banning things does not work. And I also agree that when freedom is sacrificed, there must be a strong and principled argument for why that sacrifice is for the greater good (it’s a “big problem” doesn’t qualify, Mike B.).

      But you don’t win people to your side by arguing theoretical ideology and telling them that they are on their own. It may be true….but it’s not gonna get you anywhere. Without cultural change and incremental roll-back, we’ll just keep moving in the direction that we have been going since the middle of the last century.

      • January 15, 2013 7:59 am

        Bingo. Freedom may be lost one step at a time. It may also be the only way back. Libertarian doctrine (as much as I love it) isn’t going to do it, at least not in this culture.

      • January 15, 2013 5:43 pm

        Pearows;

        Rather than address this claim point by point, which I can do fairly easily. I would ask you to think a bit more about this.

        Why might socializing a cost not be a good idea ?
        If a cost should be socialized why might not using government to do so be a good idea ?

        Why would something that is actually beneficial be unable to find funding outside of government ?

        One should always remember that the ONLY distinction between government and voluntary association is that government can legitimately use force.

        Why is force necessary in any of the government “helping people help themselves” examples you raised ?

        Another factor to consider is that those things that government mitigates are “signals”. By mitigating them, government mutes the signal.In doing so it destroys information that is important to the proper structure and functioning of society.

        When we use government to socialize any cost, we are destroying the information from that cost. We are saying you may build in a tornado zone, or you may act as if a severe hurricane will never strike New Orleans and you may ignore the potential cost of any of those predictable events and OTHERS will be forced to pay them.

        By doing so you create an immediate need for government regulation.
        Rather than having people adjust their behavior, expectations, or anticipated costs on their own, you create a reason that government must regulate behavior.

        Because you make others responsible for the consequences, you deprive people of the freedom to make their own choices.

        As to making friends and influencing people.

        There are two ways that we can resolve the problems we face – incremental increases in freedom moving us back to the safe side of the tipping point we are past, or failure.

        I would probably prefer the former, but as even the extremist republicans in the house have not embraced sufficient rollbacks to get us to the safe side sufficiently fast to matter my bet is on failure.

        I am sorry, but I am not going to lie or misrepresent things in order to make myself more palatable. I will be happy to compromise, but I am not compromising principles. I will accept any arrangement that leaves us more free than we are now, but I will not argue something that is wrong, nor compromise on issues of principle just to improve peoples perception.

  117. Pat Riot permalink
    January 15, 2013 1:35 am

    We (through our government) have banned smoking on airplanes. That was a good idea and it has worked. I’m not a smoker but I don’t mind smokers at all and feel bad for smokers regarding some restrictions, but, haha, smoking on airplanes was outrageous! It’s a common sense good idea for such a ban/prohibition.

    We (through our government) banned the use of lead solder for joining copper water pipes. The non-lead solder isn’t as easy to work with, but it’s a good idea not to have drinking water sitting in pipes with lead.

    Some prohibition/bans stick/take/work, usually when the cause-effect relationship is a no-brainer to establish.

    • Pat Riot permalink
      January 15, 2013 1:54 am

      So my point above is that not every ban or prohibition is an infringement of rights. Sometimes it’s just a better way of doing things, like having better air to breathe on airplanes. The smoking on the plane was the imposition, not the ban. That’s a no-brainer. That said, I fully agree that many of our freedoms have been surreptitiously taken away / surrendered (many examples mentioned above by Dave.)

      • January 15, 2013 6:01 pm

        If that is your point then you failed to make it.

        There is no reason government needs involved in smoking at all.

        Airlines are free to allow or prohibit smoking as they wish.
        Passengers are free to chose what airline they fly based on the choices of the airline.

        People who are actually harmed by the smoking of others, are free to seek compensation for any harm they experienced.

        Further with sufficient real proof of harm to others, government could criminally prosecute people for harming others by smoking under some circumstances.
        Regardless, it is not smoking that is “banned” but harming others.

        There one right we ceded with the Lockean Social Contract is the right to do violence to others.

        That said in the majority of instances where private actors can remedy things sufficiently on their own it is best for government not to act.
        As businesses are free to have their own smoking policies and as customers are free to chose what businesses they patronize and as government has no legitimate right to protect us from our own choices, smoking is a poor choice to criminalize.

  118. Pat Riot permalink
    January 15, 2013 2:26 am

    This is kind of funny, but not so funny…

    I have a small Sears jon boat, maybe it’s 12 feet long. The jon boat is on probably the smallest boat trailer that exists. During the summer I hooked the boat & trailer to the tow hitch of my work truck in order to take the boat approximately 200 yards to the lake in my mother’s gated development.

    On the little boat trailer is a license plate with a registration sticker. On the boat itself is a permit/registration sticker. My truck of course has a license plate and registration sticker, plus I need my photo driver’s license and my auto insurance. Also I had my fishing license with trout stamps. Also I had to have a life vest for each person and one of the life vests is required to have a whistle so we can call for help like Rose floating on the door from the Titanic in case we capsize. (The lake at my mother’s development averages about 4’ deep.)

    Also my truck needed to display my Associate’s Membership sticker to be in the development. Also, in order to launch the 12’ boat from one of the beaches I was supposed to wear a rubber bracelet with the year on it, but I won’t wear that, so I had that in my pocket. (For years it’s been a pin-on badge, but probably some kid stuck himself with the pin while swimming, so they’re trying the rubber bracelets which most men despise…)

    Oh yeah, then I was consulting the Fish Commission guidelines because they keep changing the rules as far as open seasons and size limits, etc., but then I was informed that the lake is now catch-and-release, except for the trout, which may be eaten. Anyway, I caught a bass and a yellow perch, which I promptly cleaned and ate, because I am such a rebel! Long live freedom, haha!

    • January 15, 2013 8:01 am

      Pat,

      Sorry but I have to turn you in to the authorities.

      • Pat Riot permalink
        January 15, 2013 2:27 pm

        “…where the National Debt continues to rise to unprecedented levels….in other news a man is alleged to have eaten a bass and a yellow perch…”

      • January 15, 2013 2:51 pm

        You know, you start letting off with the little things ……

      • January 15, 2013 10:13 pm

        LOL

  119. January 15, 2013 8:13 am

    http://www.campusreform.org/blog/?ID=4574

    Here you go Rick. You have the Mayor of NY telling the POTUS to simply ignore Congress. I think this is not how the Constitution embodied a nation of laws and due process. Moreover, the latest story is that Obama is happy to oblige.

    Next emotional issue and they might take aim at a right that you care about.

    Be careful what you wish for.

    They used to impeach Presidents for this.

    • January 15, 2013 6:13 pm

      I was really hoping that Obama was going to go with the Platinum coin.

      It is ludicrously stupid. It sounds stupid.
      Whatever the consequences they would fall exclusively on the president.

      One thing missing in much of the rhetoric – and something that TNM seems oblivious too, is that even much of the left – is actually aware that something must be done about the debt and deficit. The president is not even arguing that we should do nothing. He is just arguing that the GOP should not use the debt ceiling as leverage to force him to negotiate. That is an idiotic claim – of course both parties should use whatever leverage they have to get what they think is right.

      One of the political problems in this mess is that EVERYONE grasps that spending must be cut. AND that independent of our current fiscal problems Social Security and Medicare spending must be reigned in to avoid serious future problems.

      But neither side is prepared to tell seniors that there will be even the tiniest effect on Social Security or Medicare.

      Both sides are playing chicken – not over the debt ceiling per say, but over willingness to even talk about social security and medicare cuts.

      Paul Ryan has been the most willing to discuss doing anythiing.

      The president is threatening that absent an agreement to raise the debt ceiling republicans will be responsible for delays to social security or medicare payments.
      Well sooner or later both parties are going to have to tell Social Security or Medicare recipients that benefits are going down. And the longer we wait the more draconian that change will be.

    • January 15, 2013 6:31 pm

      JBastiat;

      I would be shocked to see the GOP impeach Obama. There are already plenty of grounds to do so. Benghazi comes immediately to mind. Followed by fast and furious.

      But the GOP does not need to impeach Pres. Obama. Either we will see economic recovery shortly, and his policy choices will actually work, or he will be blamed for whatever happens.

      We are far stronger than we were 75 years ago – otherwise we would be in another great depression now. Arguably we are in a small depression.
      But we are making much the same mistakes and as a result recovery is weak and the malaise is protracted.

      We need to quit focusing on the politics. Impeachment continues to make all of this a political issue.

      The real issue is that government has failed. That all the significant problems we face have their roots in government. Not republican government, not democratic government.

      Contrary to the presidents assertions the last election did not choose between limited government and progressive government – we chose between Obama and Obama-lite.
      Further we chose almost exactly the same government we elected in 2010 – not the one we elected in 2008..

      Republicans should be legitimately disappointed, they did not win under circumstances where they should have won handily – that is politically disastrous. But any claims that Pres. Obama won some kind of mandate is falsified by the makeup of the house and senate (as well as the overwhelming majority of governors, and state legislatures).

      I think that republicans should offer the president and democratic congressmen a deal.
      They will vote “present” allowing democrats to do whatever they please, in return should we enter another recession between now and the end of the presidents term, the president and every democratic congressmen will resign.

      There are other permutations on this. Trade voting present for a real balanced budget amendment, and/or a line item veto of spending.

      Frankly the Nixon era impoundment legislation should be repealed – if the debt ceiling is not increased it will be defacto repealed because the alternative will be to violate the constitution.
      For the most part the executive needs less power. But it is ALWAYS a good thing to allow any branch of government to prevent government spending.

      • January 15, 2013 7:13 pm

        I think we will disagree here Dave. I believe that for the viability of Congress as an institution, we need to check this Emperor to be as quickly as possible. I am not a lawyer (thank God) but we still have a Supreme Court and I wonder what can be done to tell Obama that he just can’t use executive orders to circumvent Congress and/or the Constitution.

      • January 15, 2013 10:11 pm

        Dave, I don’t ever expect you to misrepresent yourself or water down your views to make them more palatable….I find many- even most – of your views quite palatable. And I agree with you more often than not.

        But I see you as an ideological purist who presents theoretical arguments without ever considering the political framework within which these arguments must be made.

        Your argument, that we are better off with Obama as POTUS than we would
        have been with Romney, because Obama will hasten the economic crash and bring on the revival of free markets is, to me, a exercise in hope over experience. When has a country ever fallen into economic decline and ruin and bounced back after “seeing the light”?

        And the idea that the GOP can make the Obama and the Democrats “own” the debt that they have so flagrantly and irresponsibly run up, by voting “present”? Ain’t gonna happen.

        We need to live in Realville.

  120. January 16, 2013 12:16 am

    What do the “victims” of Sandy need from government ?
    Money ?

    Maybe just less interference from government.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324081704578237722576889786.html

  121. January 16, 2013 1:03 am

    Jbastiat & Pearows’

    My argument for Pres. Obama is not that he is good for the country, but that he is bad.

    We are facing a serious crisis,, not the debt ceiling, not the fiscal cliff, but the unsustainability of the federal government.

    As i have noted repeatedly absent immediate and draconian changes we are facing certain failure.

    Romney was not even close to prepared to do what was necessary. Not even Ryan’s plan was sufficient. At best they would have postponed the day of re-conning.

    But postponement is a bad thing not a good one.
    The longer we postpone the worse it will be.

    Given that there is no hope of doing what we need to, the next best alternate is to fail as quickly as possible, because a quick failure will be less horrible than a protracted one.
    And because a quick failure is going to be blamed on those most responsible for actually creating this mess – progressives.

    And no – I do not want Pres. Obama reigned in by the republican house, nor by the Supreme court. All that will do is prolong this mess and deflect responsibility.

    I want the system to work exactly as progressives would wish.
    If they want to mint platinum coins – fine.
    If the president wants to act like a king – fine.

    There are two important checks and balances that remain.

    Things that can not continue as they are – don’t.
    I think the consequences of the left getting everything it wants will be horrendous – but not nearly as bad as their getting much of what they want, which is the only likely alternative.
    One way or another failure is likely.
    Failure is one of the less pleasant ways that we learn. but it tends to be extremely effective. We are on our way to becoming greece.
    We are allowing the left to bribe us with our own money.
    Government is the corrupt inn keeper from Les Miserables.
    Robbing us blind while leaving us with the impression that it is helping us and giving us what we want.
    If the only way we can see it as it truly is is to give it the power that it wants, then maybe that is how we will have to learn.
    Further if progressives are NOT the cancer of our souls I claim then why would anyone fear giving them what they want ?
    I am doing nothing more than calling the Presidents bluff.

    The other important check on government is the people.
    As Jefferson noted – government derives its powers from the consent of the governed.
    Not from the law, not from the constitution, not from the supreme court.
    The citizens of this country are free to burn the constitution tomorrow and start over however they please. We saw precisely that in 1989 when the Wall came down and the USSR disintegrated over the course of a few weeks.
    But the world did not end. There was not anarchy. Most of the former USSR moved from some of the most statist countries in the world to some of the freest markets in weeks or days. Some such as Russia itself stalled and remained trapped in statism of a different flavor.
    Regardless, many statist governments failed – and the world did not end.

    i do not expect the US to come to that, but I do expect that we are in desperate need of a revolution of sorts. That we are incapable of reducing real government spending by even 1%, but that we are capable of surviving – even thriving if government is forced to triage spending by 25%.

    The president predict doom and gloom, if we do not immediately unconditionally raise the debt ceiling by several trillion dollars.
    I think that I we do not have a plan for an honest balanced budget in less than ten years, that everything the president predicts if he does nto get what he wants – and worse will come about.

    Greek debt at the start of its fiscal crisis was 130% of GDP, italy is 120% of GDP Spain is 70%, The UK is 90% Ireland 108%. (according to CIA).

    At what debt level do you think that lenders will demand a higher interest rate before loaning money to the US ? Who is going to bail us out ?

    I do not know exactly where the tipping point is, but we are dangerously close.
    And unlike all those European nations, there is no one to bail us out.

    And I think that may be the only way that we are going to learn that what government spends is not free, it comes out of our pockets – twice, once when out pockets are picked, and again when the wonderful things that would have occurred had that money actually been invested, dont happen.

    Regardless, if we are unable to learn any other way – i want the fiscal crisis to come sooner rather than later. It will be very bad – but less bad the sooner it comes.
    And it will not last very long, and when it is over we will rebuild. That is in our DNA. Only we will have learned that government is not to be trusted, and we will have learned that in the only way that we appear able to – by experience.

    If you really believe that we are going to reach fiscal sanity any other way. that we can fix a bufget that is 25% short for the forseable future some other way – I am ready to listen.

    But don’t tell me that we need to encourage democrats – who refuse to even beleive there is a problem at all, and republicans who refuse to grasp the magnitude of the problem should compromise and put a band aid on a ruptured femoral artery.

    Lets get this over with before it is our Aorta that is sliced open.

    • January 16, 2013 1:10 am

      If we have learned anything from the clinton impeachment or from the roberts flip on PPACA, today public opinion is significantly more important that the rule of law, or the constitution.

      i think there is very little that this president could do, that would reduce his support among the people sufficient for the courts to seriously reign him in, or for congress to impeach him. discussing impeachment – no matter how legitimate the basis is reckless.

      there is only one thing that would seriously dis-empower this president – and that is the failure of the economy to recover. And unfortunately that is highly likely.

    • Anonymous permalink
      January 16, 2013 1:11 pm

      The thing I find interesting in all the discussions about which direction the country is headed and the debt we have is due to Bush (blamed by democrats) or Obama (blamed by GOP). The constitution clearly identifies the House as the chamber where revenue (and in turn spending) bills are inititated. So is it really the President or is it congress that is to blame for the debt? Can the President spend money without the OK of Congress? Can the President spend money on Sandy relief and add billions for “pork”, or is it congress that writes the legislation and adds money that has nothing to do with relief aid? Is it the President that creates a budget and adds billions for bridges to nowhere, tunnels in Mass. that are not needed, tax loopholes for billionaires that only a handful of people can take advantage of or is that congress?

      What we have is hipocrites in congress that write bills, spend money we do not have and then complain that Bush or Obama are running the country into the ground and making it like Greece.

      Sorry, my understanding is foreign policy rest with Obama. Some regulatory issues through E.O.’s rest with Obama. The debt and deficits rest with the house as that is the arm of government that the constitution gives authority to raise moneys as well as spend the revenue collected. Can the President spend massive amounts of money without congressional approval?

      • January 16, 2013 1:42 pm

        They all own the problem. But Obama has done his best to spend us into a hole, almost as if that were his only mission. I believe he is actually set out to destroy the US, and have never felt that about any other POTUS.