It might not be in their best interest. Buy guns and ammo and the accessories and you support those industries and the lobbying efforts of the National Rifle Association. The NRA, however, played a key role in getting Trump elected. The NRA takes decidedly anti-leftist stands on crime and the nanny-statism liberals hold dear.
This puts liberals in a delightful bind. Delightful to us, that is. Fearing 'fascism,' they are now buying guns as numerous news stories have reported, but in so doing they shoot themselves in the foot, figuratively speaking.
There is a parallel here with liberals' new-found love of federalism. As William McGurn has recently noted,
For both historical and philosophical reasons, federalism runs counter to the progressive instinct. Those on the left like government, and their preferred legislature is the Supreme Court. (Brilliant! Emphasis added.)
Fearing Trumpian 'fascism,' our liberal pals are now getting excited about states rights despite their long-standing mendacious insinuation that all talk of states rights can only mean a return to Jim Crow and the lynching of blacks.
UPDATE 3/24. A Friendly Warning to Liberals
A gun is not a talisman. Its mere presence won't protect you. To paraphrase Col. Jeff Cooper, owning a gun no more makes you armed than owning a guitar makes you a musician. You will need to get training. In the course of this training and numerous trips to the shooting range and gun stores for ammo, etc. you will find yourself associating whether you like it or not with rednecks, country folk, blue collar types, cops, ex-cops, military, ex-military, church-goers and other subspecies of the people Obama derisively referred to as "clingers" and Hillary as "deplorables."
The danger here is that you will learn that, in the main, these are decent people. Your liberal bigotry fueled by hate and ignorance will stand refuted by experience. This may cause such painful cognitive dissonance that you may no longer be able to remain a bien-pensant librul.
Fred Barnes argues, very plausibly, that the National Rifle Association played a "critical role" in putting Trump over the top. Of course, the foolish and mendacious Hillary was very cooperative:
"I respect the Second Amendment," she [Hillary] said in the second debate. In the third, she went further. "I also believe there is an individual right to bear arms." But she quibbled with the Supreme Court ruling that upheld that right. She would gut the right by mandating that guns in homes be kept in pieces "to protect toddlers."
The stupidity of this beggars understanding. Apparently, for Hillary, the only safe gun is a useless gun, an instance of what philosophers call a scattered object:
Here is a good article on the topic addressed to law enforcement officers, but useful for the ordinary citizen.
Under ORANGE below read 'if possible' for 'if necessary.'
Condition White is fine while in your house, assuming your house is well-secured. The minute you step out your door you should move to Condition Yellow, whether you are carrying or not. Train yourself to stay in Yellow as long as you are out and about.
I came close to being mugged in New Orleans' French Quarter in '90 or '91. I was there to read a paper at an A. P. A. meeting. Early one morning I left the hotel to sample the local color and grab some breakfast. Striding along Bourbon street, I noticed a couple of black dudes on the other side of the street. I was wearing a beret, which may have suggested to the loiterers that I was a foreigner and an easy mark. One dude approached and commented on my shoes in an obvious attempt ti distract me and throw me off my guard. My situational awareness saved me. That, my stern mien, height, leather jacket and purposeful stride. I gave the punk a hard look, increased my pace, and blew him off.
Profiling is part of situational awareness. Profiling is just common sense, which is why liberal fools oppose it. A couple of black youths loitering in a touristy area are probably up to no good. If common sense makes me a racist, then we should all be racists, including decent black folk.
Mike Valle and I got together the other day at the premier cigar lounge in the East Valley, Big Sticks, to discuss Grundlagen des Marxismus-Leninismus, chapter 1, Der Philosophische Materialismus. Mike has read the entire stomping 800+ page tome. It is an outstanding manual of Soviet scholasticism. Originally written in Russian and published in 1960, near the height of the Cold War, it appeared in German in the same year in Dietz Verlag, Berlin. Mike acquired two copies and kindly gave me one.
I had him pose with the cigar store Indian for the following shot. No day without political incorrectness, as I always say. And that reminds me of the Seinfeld "Cigar Store Indian" episode. TRIGGER WARNING! This smokin' excerpt may cause snowflake meltdown.
A lot of you delusional liberals out there who think that Trump is a 'fascist' are suddenly getting interested in gun ownership. But before you go off 'half-cocked' and shoot yourself in the foot either figuratively or literally, or end up on the wrong side of the law, I recommend that you do a little research.
Larry Correia knows what he is talking about and I recommend his Guide to you. Being a liberal, you probably won't be offended by his 'lively' style of exposition.
It is called the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Issue date: 15 December 1791. Expiration date: Never.
Motto: Fear the government that fears your guns.
On this Thanksgiving we have much to be thankful for, including the defeat of the mendacious Hillary Clinton who, while paying lip service to the Second Amendment, had every intention of undermining it.
So what else is new? That the sky is blue? The trouble with Trump is that he doesn't know enough about the issues to punch back effectively when Mrs. Clinton lets loose with one of her whoppers. He let her escape several times during their third and final debate. Sean Davis:
In her answer to a question about her views on gun rights, Clinton said she opposed the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, which recognized the constitutional right for individuals to own and carry firearms, because it was about whether toddlers should have guns.
[. . .]
So what was the Heller case really about? It was about whether Dick Anthony Heller, a 66-year-old police officer, should be legally allowed to own and bear a personal firearm to defend himself and his family at home.
[. . .]
If Clinton opposes an individual’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms to protect his or her family, she should just come out and say so instead of blatantly lying about the Supreme Court’s decision on the matter. But it gets better: after claiming that the Heller decision was all about toddlers, Hillary then claimed that the Constitution guarantees a right to partial-birth abortion, a practice that requires an abortionist to rip an unborn baby from the womb, stab or crush her skull, and then vacuum out her brains. Because Hillary Clinton’s top priority is protecting innocent children from violence.
Hillary is a stealth ideologue who operates by deception. This is what makes her so despicable. If she were honest about her positions, her support would erode. So not only are her policies destructive; she refuses to own them. She is an Obamination both at the level of ideas and at the level of character.
This seems to be becoming an Internet meme. It comes with the implication that certain death will be the result. (See graphic below.) Let's think about this, just for fun.
Strictly speaking, one can play Russian Roulette only with a revolver. But surely something analogous to Russian Roulette can be played with a semi-automatic pistol with a non-zero probability of surviving.
Here is one way. Have 'a friend' load the magazine randomly with live and dummy rounds. Insert the magazine and rack the slide, thereby chambering a round. Point the gun at your head and press the trigger. If you hear a click, then the hammer fell on a dummy round. Congratulations! You are not dead. Care to press your luck? Then press the trigger a second time.
Here is a second way. Pick up a semi-auto pistol and remove the magazine. Point at head, pull trigger. If there is a live round in the chamber, you're a goner. A dummy round or nothing in the chamber and you survive to be a fool another day. Unlike Terry Kath.
Remember him? He was the blazingly fast guitarist for the band Chicago. In 1978, while drunk, he shot himself in the head with an 'unloaded' gun. At first he had been fooling with a .38 revolver. Then he picked up a semi-automatic 9 mm pistol, removed the magazine, pointed it at his head, spoke his last words, "Don't worry, it isn't loaded," and pulled the trigger. Unfortunately for his head, there was a round in the chamber. Or that is one way the story goes.
Such inadvertent exits are easily avoided by exceptionless observation of three rules: Never point a gun at something you do not want to destroy. Treat every gun as if loaded, whether loaded or not. Never mix alcohol and gunpowder.
Perhaps I should add a fourth: Never mix dummy rounds with live rounds. Variant: Dummies should stay clear of guns, loaded or unloaded, and ammo, live or dummy.
Uncle Bill has a fifth rule for you: Never try to cure someone's hiccups by pointing a gun at him or her. A Fort Hood soldier availed himself of this method to cure a fellow soldier's hiccups, but ended up 'curing' him of life itself. (A cock to Asclepius!) The soldier, who was drunk at the time, said he thought the gun was loaded with dummy rounds. And now for the graphic, from Diana West via Bill Keezer.
Yes, but only in the febrile 'mind' of an Hillarious liberal.
You have to realize that when Trump is 'off script,' he talks like a rude New York working man in a bar. He does this in part because it is his nature to be rude and vulgar, but also because he realizes that this helps him gin up his base.
Let me try to put his point in a more 'measured' way. His point was not that Hillary's bodyguards ought to be disarmed so that she could more easily be 'taken out.' His point is that if guns cause crime and have no legitimate uses, then why are her bodyguards armed to the teeth with the sorts of weapons that she would like to make it illegal for law-abiding citizens to possess and carry?
If guns are never the answer, why are they 'the answer' for government agents? If law-abiding citizens cannot be trusted with semi-automatic pistols and long guns, how is it that government agents can be trusted with them?
The graphic makes the point very well. Trump was not inciting violence. But if you say he was then you are slandering him and his supporters. Be careful, the Second Amendment types may 'come after you.' Politically.
UPDATE (9:25 AM). Here is what Trump said:
She [Hillary] goes around with armed bodyguards like you have never seen before. I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons. They should disarm. Right? Right? I think they should disarm immediately. What do you think? Yes? Yes. Yeah. Take their guns away. She doesn’t want guns. … Let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away, okay? It would be very dangerous.
Subtitle: Disarming the Jews and the "Enemies of the State"
Essential reading on the eve of the disaster that is a Hillary presidency.
"Gun Control in the Third Reich, Stephen Halbrook's excellent history of gun control in Germany, shows that, motives notwithstanding, removing weapons from the general population always disarms society vis a vis its worst elements. In Germany the authorities tried to deal with the Nazi and Communist mobs that were shaking society's foundations indirectly, by disarming ordinary people. But their cowardice ended up delivering a helpless population to the Nazis' tender mercies. Halbrook's richly documented history leads Americans to ask why those among us who decry violence in our society choose to try tightening the vise on ordinary citizens' capacity to defend themselves rather than to constrain the sectors of society most responsible for the violence." —Angelo M. Codevilla, Professor Emeritus of International Relations, Boston University; author, Informing Statecraft, War: Ends and Means (with Paul Seabury), The Character of Nations, and Between the Alps and a Hard Place: Switzerland in World War II and the Rewriting of History.
"What good would private arms do against a totalitarian state? That won't remain an unanswerable rhetorical challenge for readers of Stephen Halbrook's calm, detailed scholarly book, Gun Control in the Third Reich. As Halbrook shows, Nazi leaders went to great lengths to extend the gun control laws they inherited from the Weimar Republic. They were obsessed with disarming Jews and other designated public enemies. Potential resistance was not only physically disabled. It was morally and psychologically disarmed. Evil then became irresistible in Germany, not because it was fueled by fanaticism but because shielded by fatalism." —Jeremy A. Rabkin, Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law
"Even a defense with small arms against a tyrannical regime, if known, can galvanize public opinion which is the ultimate source of all political authority. That is why, as Halbrook authoritatively shows in Gun Control in the Third Reich, the Nazis-despite their massive military force-went out of their way to confiscate even small caliber weapons in Germany." —Donald W. Livingston, Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, Emory University
Our friend the philosopher Patrick Toner has a very interesting and highly unusual article entitled Catholics, Chesterton, and Concealed Carry. If nothing else, it should infuriate liberals, which can't be a bad thing. I leave it to you to think it through.
Now some thoughts of my own.
Suppose a Christian lives alone, without a spouse to look after and without dependents. Should he defend with deadly force against a deadly attack, in a home invasion, say, or should he let himself be slaughtered? I go back and forth on this question.
But suppose you are pater familias with a wife and children to protect. Should you respond to a deadly attack with deadly force? Absolutely. I would argue that such is not only morally permissible but morally obligatory. But then you must prepare for such an eventuality by becoming proficient with firearms. Whence it follows that you must oppose Hillary the Gun Grabber and her destructive ilk.
This is another important reason to vote for Trump. If Miss Mendacity gets in, it could well be curtains for your Second Amendment rights.
To paint a massive brushstroke, I assume the difference between Europe and America is that in the former the government is seen as a facilitator and provider of peace and security, whereas in the US it seems the individual and the government are at loggerheads, hence the right to bear arms in the Constitution.
Here is the way I see it.
We too think of government as a provider of peace and security. It exists primarily, but not solely, to secure the Lockean triad of life, liberty, and property. Government is necessary to do certain jobs that we cannot do by ourselves either individually or in small groups. National defense from foreign aggressors is one such job of the central government as is the securing of the nation's borders. Government at federal, state, and local levels is also legitimately tasked with the domestic defense of the citizenry against the criminal element. And of course there are other legitimate functions of government.
So we Americans also think of government as facilitating and providing for peace and security. We are not anti-government. We are not anarchists. We believe in limited government. Patently, to believe in limited government is to believe in government. But we are aware that government is coercive by its very nature and therefore that there cannot fail to be a certain tension between individuals and groups of individuals, on the one hand, and the government on the other. If you want to say that individual and government are "at loggerheads" you can say this as long as you make it clear that this is true for everyone, American or not, who belongs to a state. And who doesn't?
Liberals like to say that the government is us. President Obama recently trotted out the line to quell the fears of gun owners:
You hear some of these quotes: ‘I need a gun to protect myself from the government.’ ‘We can’t do background checks because the government is going to come take my guns away,’ Obama said. “Well, the government is us. These officials are elected by you. They are elected by you. I am elected by you. I am constrained, as they are constrained, by a system that our Founders put in place. It’s a government of and by and for the people.
Liberals need to think about the following.
If the government is us, and the government lies to us about Benghazi or anything else, then we must be lying to ourselves. Right?
If the government is us, and the government uses the IRS to harass certain groups of citizens whose political views the administration opposes, then we must be harassing ourselves.
I could continue in this vein, but you get the drift. "The government is us" is blather. It is on a par with Paul Krugman's silly notion that we owe the national debt to ourselves. (See Left, Right, and Debt.)
It is true that some, but not all, of those who have power over us are elected. But that truth cannot be expressed by the literally false, if not meaningless, 'The government is us.' Anyone who uses this sentence is either mendacious or foolish.
The government is not us. It is an entity distinct from most of us, and opposed to many of us, run by a relatively small number of us. Among the latter are some decent people but also plenty of power-hungry individuals who may have started out with good intentions but who were soon suborned by the power, perquisites, and pelf of high office, people for whom a government position is a hustle like any hustle, a hustle in the service of personal ambition. Government, like any entity, likes power and likes to expand its power, and can be counted on to come up with plenty of rationalizations for the maintenance and extension of its power. It must be kept in check by us, who are not part of the government, just as big corporations need to be kept in check by government regulators.
If you value liberty you must cultivate a healthy skepticism about government. To do so is not anti-government.
My reader suggests that the constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms reflects the fact that in the U.S. government and citizens are "at loggerheads." My counter-suggestion is that it reflects the American love of liberty and self-reliance.
By what right does the the government deny me the means of defending myself, my family, my property, my community, against a range of malefactors running from criminals to terrorists to rogue government agents?
With all the mindless hyperventilation of dumb-assed liberals over gun control in the wake of Orlando, we need some comic relief. Herewith, a repost from 27 February 2013.
What the hell's going on in Florida? The other day an oven shot a woman, and now a dog has shot a man, with an 'unloaded' gun no less. Tragedies like these show the need for Dog Control. Members of the Dog Lobby such as Duane LaRufus of the National Hound Association will scream in protest, but moral cretins like him and Leroy Pooch of Dog Owners of America are nothing but greedy shills for the Canine Industrial Complex. They routinely oppose all sensible Dog Control measures. Follow the money!
Reason dictates that all dogs must be kept muzzled at all times, and when transported in a vehicle containing a gun, must be kept securely locked in the trunk. Assault dogs, whose only purpose is to kill and maim, such as Doberman Ass Biters and Pit Bulls, must be banned. Such breeds are inherently evil and no one outside of law enforcement and the military has any business owning them. Food magazines for all breeds must be kept strictly limited lest any dog become too rambunctious. Dog owners should be 'outed' and their names published in the paper. Special taxes must be levied on all things canine to offset the expenses incurred by society at large in the wake of the rising tide of dog violence.
Such reasonable measures will strike extremists as draconian, but if even one life can be saved, then they are justified. We must do something and we must do it now so that tragedies like the one in Florida never happen again.
The three defining features of modern liberalism are an intense aversion to the Constitution, a denial of objective truth, and a penchant for intentionally abusing the English language with an aim to mislead the public. No issue exemplifies these three features better than the “debate” about the AR-15 and “assault weapons.”
Well said, my man, well said, with pith and punch.
This is a repost, slightly redacted, from 2012 to help stem the tsunami of folderol sure to wash over us from the orifices of the mindless gun-grabbing Left in the wake of the Islamist Orlando rampage.
Without wanting to deny that there is a 'gun culture' in the USA, especially in the so-called red states, I would insist that the real problem is our liberal culture. Here are four characteristics of liberal culture that contribute to violence of all kinds, including gun violence.
1. Liberals tend to have a casual attitude toward crime.
It is interesting to note that Connecticut, the state in which the Newtown massacre occurred, has recently repealed the death penalty, and this after the unspeakably brutal Hayes-Komisarjevsky home invasion in the same state.
One of the strongest voices against repealing the death penalty has been Dr. William Petit Jr., the lone survivor of a 2007 Cheshire home invasion that resulted in the murders of his wife and two daughters.
The wife was raped and strangled, one of the daughters was molested and both girls were left tied to their beds as the house was set on fire.
The two men convicted of the crime, Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes, are currently on death row.
Anyone who cannot appreciate that a crime like this deserves the death penalty is morally obtuse. But not only are liberals morally obtuse, they are contemptibly stupid in failing to understand that one of the main reasons people buy guns is to protect themselves from the criminal element, the criminal element that liberals coddle. If liberals were serious about wanting to reduce the numbers of guns in civilian hands, they would insist on swift and sure punishment in accordance with the self-evident moral principle, "The punishment must fit the crime," which is of course not to be confused with lex talionis, "an eye for an eye." Many guns are purchased not for hunting or sport shooting but for protection against criminals. Keeping and bearing arms carries with it a grave responsibility and many if not most gun owners would rather not be so burdened. Gun ownership among women is on the upswing, and it is a safe bet that they don't want guns to shoot Bambi.
2. Liberals tend to undermine morality with their opposition to religion.
Many of us internalized the ethical norms that guide our lives via our childhood religious training. We were taught the Ten Commandments, for example. We were not just taught about them, we were taught them. We learned them by heart, and we took them to heart. This early training, far from being the child abuse that A. C. Grayling and other militant atheists think it is, had a very positive effect on us in forming our consciences and making us the basically decent human beings we are. I am not saying that moral formation is possible only within a religion; I am saying that some religions do an excellent job of transmitting and inculcating life-guiding and life-enhancing ethical standards, that moral formation outside of a religion is unlikely for the average person, and that it is nearly impossible if children are simply handed over to the pernicious influences of secular society as these influences are transmitted through television, Internet, video games, and other media. Anyone with moral sense can see that the mass media have become an open sewer in which every manner of cultural polluter is not only tolerated but promoted. Those of use who were properly educated way back when can dip into this cesspool without too much moral damage. But to deliver our children over to it is the real child abuse, pace the benighted Professor Grayling.
The shysters of the American Civil Liberties Union, to take one particularly egregious bunch of destructive leftists, seek to remove every vestige of our Judeo-Christian ethical traditiion from the public square. I can't begin to catalog all of their antics. But recently there was the Mojave Memorial Cross incident. It is absurd that there has been any fight at all over it. The ACLU, whose radical lawyers brought the original law suit, deserve contempt and resolute opposition. Of course, I wholeheartedly endorse the initial clause of the First Amendment, to wit, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion . . . ." But it is hate-America leftist extremism on stilts to think that the presence of that very old memorial cross on a hill in the middle of nowhere does anything to establish Christianity as the state religion. I consider anyone who believes that to be intellectually obtuse and morally repellent. One has to be highly unbalanced in his thinking to torture such extremist nonsense out of the First Amendment, while missing the plain sense of the Second Amendment, one that even SCOTUS eventually got right, namely, the the right to keep and bear arms is an individual, not a collective, right.
And then there was the business of the tiny cross on the city seal of Los Angeles, a symbol that the ACLU agitated to have removed. I could continue with the examples, and you hope I won't.
3. Liberals tend to have low standards, glorify the worthless, and fail to present exemplary human types.
Our contemporary media dreckmeisters apparently think that the purpose of art is to degrade sensibility, impede critical thinking, glorify scumbags, and rub our noses ever deeper into sex and violence. It seems obvious that the liberal fetishization of freedom of expression without constraint or sense of responsibility is part of the problem. But I can't let a certain sort of libertarian or economic conservative off the hook. Their lust for profit is also involved.
What is is that characterizes contemporary media dreck? Among other things, the incessant presentation of defective human beings as if there are more of them than there are, and as if there is nothing at all wrong with their way of life. Deviant behavior is presented as if it is mainstream and acceptable, if not desirable. And then lame justifications are provided for the presentation: 'this is what life is like now; we are simply telling it like it is.' It doesn't occur to the dreckmeisters that art might have an ennobling function.
The tendency of liberals and leftists is to think that any presentation of choice-worthy goals or admirable styles of life could only be hypocritical preaching. And to libs and lefties, nothing is worse than hypocrisy. Indeed, a good indicator of whether someone belongs to this class of the terminally benighted is whether the person obsesses over hypocrisy and thinks it the very worst thing in the world. See my category Hypocrisy for elaboration of this theme.
4. Liberals tend to deny or downplay free will, individual responsibility, and the reality of evil.
This is connected with point (2) above, leftist hostility to religion. Key to our Judeo-Christian tradition is the belief that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Central to this image is that mysterious power in us called free will. The secular extremist assault on religion is at the same time an assault on this mysterious power, through which evil comes into the world.
This is a large topic. Suffice it to say for now that one clear indication of this denial is the bizarre liberal displacement of responsibility for crime onto inanimate objects, guns, as if the weapon, not the wielder, is the source of the evil for which the weapon can be only the instrument.
This is a summary of a much longer and more carefully articulated 2009 entry.
Humans possess a natural right to life. This right entails the right to defend one's life. The right to defend one's life entails the right to acquire and possess the appropriate means to the defense of one's life. Appropriate means are means commensurate with one's situation. For example, if the criminal element with which one is likely to come into contact has at its disposal semi-automatic weapons with large capacity magazines, then such weapons figure among the appropriate means to the defense of one's life. So given the right to life, one can easily derive the right to the means of self-defense. Among these means will be various types of hand gun and long gun. Not all types, perhaps, but some. In this way gun rights are derivable from the right to life.
At any given time I am reading a half-dozen or so books on a wide variety of topics. I'll mention three I am reading at the moment.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, Ignatius Press, 2004, trs. J.T. Foster and Michael J. Miller. German original first published in 1968. Outstanding. Ratzinger has a good probing philosophical head. The book is essentially a deep meditation on the Apostles' Creed. Amazingly rich. I thank my young theological friend Steven Nemes for recommending it to me.
Paul Roubiczek, Thinking Towards Religion, Nabu Public Domain Reprints, no date, but original first published by Darwen Finlayson Ltd., London, February 1957. Everything I have read by Roubiczek is worth the effort even if it is in German.
Peter Lessler, Shooter's Guide to Handgun Marksmanship, F + W Media, 2013. This book has proven to be very helpful in my quest for greater proficiency with the 1911 model .45 semi-automatic pistol. I was having some trouble with this powerful weapon. The book clearly exposed all my mistakes. The book also covers 'wheel guns,' i.e., revolvers.
The practice of political incorrectness is as important, perhaps more important, than the theory of political incorrectness. Same with religion: you must practice one to understand it. Ethics too: it is not merely theoretical, but oriented toward action; so you must try to act ethically if you would understand ethics.
Merry Christmas everybody. Pour yourself a drink, and enjoy. Me, I'm nursing a Boulevardier. It's a Negroni with cojones: swap out the gin for bourbon. One ounce bourbon, one ounce sweet vermouth, one ounce Campari, straight up or on the rocks, with a twist of orange. A serious libation. The vermouth rosso contests the harshness of the bourbon, but then the Italian joins the fight on the side of the bourbon. Or you can think of it as a Manhattan wherein the Campari substitutes for the angostura bitters. That there are people who don't like Campari shows that there is no hope for humanity.
Fourteen people were murdered in San Bernardino, and almost two dozen were injured, several critically. That is perfectly awful. Since September 11, 2001, I believe almost three score people have been killed in the United States in similar terrorist attacks, or so one television commentator asserted. The number sounds about right. During those same fourteen years, 120,000 Americans have been killed by guns (including those who killed themselves, just to be clear .) I cannot imagine any rational mode of discourse that treats the former number as somehow more important than the latter number. And yet, people who would pass most tests for sanity, if not intelligence, are eager to take dramatic steps to prevent another San Bernardino although they would not even consider equally vigorous steps to diminish, say by half, the number of deaths from firearms in the next fourteen years. [Emphasis added.]
Let us first note that Wolff conveniently begins his count after 9/11. The Islamic terrorism of that day resulted in the deaths of 2,996 people and the injuries of 6,000 + others. That adds up to around 9,000 casualties. As for the numbers Wolff cites, I will assume that they are correct.
Let us also note the phrase "killed by guns." But of course no gun has ever killed anyone. The plain truth is that people kill people and other animals often with guns, but also with box cutters, jumbo jets, and so on. Surely the good professor will grant the distinction between weapon and wielder. Weapons are morally neutral; wielders are typically not.
The question is whether it is rational to take dramatic steps to prevent another terrorist attack while taking no steps (beyond the many steps that already have been taken) to prevent further non-terrorist gun deaths, given that since 9/11 the number of gun-related non-terrorist deaths is much smaller than the number of gun-related terrorist deaths.
Wolff is maintaining that it is not rational. I say it is rational, and that Wolff's approach to the issue is not rational.
Wolff considers only the numbers of gun-related deaths while abstracting entirely from the motives of the gun-wielders and the effects that the deaths due to terror have on other people and the society at large. But this is a vicious abstraction. Terrorists aim to spread terror and disrupt civil society by slaughtering as many noncombatants as possible in unpredictable ways. They have a political agenda. Terrorism, unlike crime, is essentially political and essentially public. But the sorts of crimes that drive up the gun death numbers often occur in private and the disruption they cause is miniscule compared to that caused by terrorists.
For example, non-terrorist suicides, as opposed to suicide bombers, directly affect only themselves and almost never act from political considerations. And the same goes for mafiosi and other organized crime figures who 'whack' competitors and potential witnesses and 'rats.' The last thing they want is publicity. They are not motivated by political ideals or goals. The Lufthansa heist was about making a big score and nothing more. This holds too for ordinary criminals who kill each other and potential witnesses. And similarly for gang-bangers and drug dealers and gun-related crimes of passion. And there are the so-called 'accidental' shootings as when a careless gun owner leaves a loaded pistol where a child can find it or proceeds to clean a loaded gun.
So while the number of non-terrorist gun-related deaths of Americans is much higher over the time-frame Wolff arbitrarily chose than the number of terrorist gun-related deaths, that fact plays a minor role in any rational assessment of the threat of terrorism. Part of being rational is thinking synoptically, taking in the whole of a situation in its many aspects, and not seizing upon one aspect.
One cannot reasonably abstract from the political agenda of terrorists and the effects even a few terrorist events have on an entire society. Ask yourself: has your life changed at all since 9/11? It most certainly has if you travel by air whether domestically or internationally. Terrorists don't have to kill large numbers to attain their political goal and wreak large-scale disruption. The Tsarnaev attack on the Boston Marathon shut down the city for a few days. Same with Paris, San Bernardino, Madrid, London, etc.
There is also the obvious point that jihadis would kill millions if they could. Would they use nukes against the West if they could? Of course they would.
Why are leftists so insensitive to clear and present dangers? Why are they so eager to deflect attention from them by bringing up gun control and dubious dangers such as 'climate change'?
Here is a theory. Leftists favor losers and underdogs. Terrorists are losers and underdogs both as terrorists and as Muslims. (Not all Muslims are terrorists but almost all terrorists at the present time are Muslims.) So leftists downplay the terrorist threat. They downplay it because losers and underdogs are their clients. To them, the terrorist 'frontlash' is as nothing compared to the 'Islamophobic' backlash of the bigots, rubes, and racists of fly-over country. This helps account for why leftists downplay the terrorist threat.
But why do they try to steer the debate away from terrorism to gun control? Part of it has to be that guns and private gun ownership represent everything leftists hate such as self-reliance, individual responsibility, patriotism which they dismiss as 'jingoism,' limited government, rural people and small-town folk, and conservative attitudes which leftists perceive as racist, bigoted, xenophobic, nativist, nationalist, fascist, etc. Private gun ownership stands in the way of their totalitarian agenda. This is why they continually call for gun control when we have plenty of it already. They talk as if there is no gun control. This is because what they mean by 'gun control' is confiscation of all or almost all firearms including all semi-automatic pistols and long guns.
Of course there is much more to it than this. Leftists are anti-religion unless the religion is Islam, "the saddest and poorest form of theism," (Schopenhauer) the religion of losers and underdogs, the gang religion. As anti-religion, leftists are against God, the soul, and the freedom of the will. Not believing in freedom of the will, they don't believe in moral evil -- which is perhaps their deepest error. People are nothing but deterministic systems and products of their environment. Part of the environment is guns. Hence the repeated call to "get guns off the street"as if guns are just laying around on our highways and byways. Not believing in free agency, leftists displace agency onto inanimate non-agents such as guns. And so they think the solution is to get rid of them.
And of course this only scratches the surface. But the sun is setting and battling the Wolff Man and his bullshit has conjured up a powerful thirst in this philosopher. Time for a beer!
Did you catch the fiery Judge Jeanine Pirro's 'opening' on Saturday evening? Here is the clip.
But let my inject a word of caution. Gun ownership is a grave responsibility. You can't just buy a gun, load it, and stick it under the bed. You must know the law. You must take care that your weapons are not stolen. You must get training. You must practice with your weapons. A gun instructor told me that until you have put a thousand rounds through a piece you shouldn't consider yourself proficient in its use. You must have a plan as to how you will deal with certain contingencies. You must know yourself. In the heat of a conflict will you have the stomach to shoot a human being? Hesitation can get you killed. These are points that the good Judge failed sufficiently to underscore, not that I blame her for it.
As for the foolish Obama, he has proven to be the poster boy for gun sales in these United States. Way to go, dude.
And don't forget what the agenda is: confiscation. Being mendacious to the core, Obama, Hillary, and their ilk won't call it what it is; they call it gun control, as if we have none. The same pattern as with Islamic terror. They won't call it what it is.
. . . so that events like yesterday's massacre in Paris never happen again.
Yes, I am being sarcastic, and doubly so. First, stricter gun laws would have had no effect on yesterday's events. Second, the silly phrase "so that it never happens again," beloved of politicians, insults our intelligence and erodes their credibility even further.
Am I being 'insensitive'? Damn straight I am. And you should be too. 'Sensitivity' is for squishy bien-pensant liberals whose specialty is gushing and emoting rather than thinking. It is something for the 'safe space' girly-girls, whether female, male, or neuter, to demand of the sane.
Liberals love laws, but not the enforcement of laws. Legislating is easy, enforcement is hard. Enforcement leads to incarceration and then to the 'mass incarceration' of certain populations. And we can't have 'mass incarceration' can we?
How about a little common sense? I'd have to check, but I'll guess that France has laws against the smuggling of Kalashnikovs and other 'assault weapons.' Well, how about enforcing those laws?
How about a review of French immigration policy? Radical Islam is the paramount threat to civilization at the present time. Of course, not every Muslim is a terrorist. But the more Muslims you let in, the more terrorists you will have to contend with. And it wouldn't take many to bring a city or a nation to a screeching halt. (See How to Destroy a City in Five Minutes)
Am I blaming the victims? Damn straight I'm blaming the victims. And you should too. While the lion's share of the responsibility obvious lies with the jihadis, politically correct Frenchmen who refuse to face the reality of the Islamist threat must bear some responsibility. Blaming the victim is perfectly legitimate within certain limits. I have made this case in an earlier post
There is an old saying which is perhaps now out-of-date. If liberals took the Second Amendment as seriously as they take the First, they would demand that gun ownership be mandatory. The point of the jibe was to highlight the absurd extremes to which liberals take the First Amendment.
But now the First Amendment is under vicious assault, by contemporary liberals no less, while university administrators and professors, in abdication of authority, stand idly by or allow themselves to be driven out of office.
Curiously, this assault on the First is yet another powerful argument for the Second.
Loaded with double-aught buckshot, the instrument of home defense depicted below has the power to separate the soul from the body in a manner most definitive. Just showing this bad boy to a would-be home invader is a most effective way to issue a 'trigger warning' in a reality-based sense of that phrase.
But let Uncle Bill give you a piece of friendly advice. You really don't want to have to shoot anyone. No matter how worthless the scumbag, he is some mother's son and a bearer, somewhere deep inside under a load of corruption, of the imago Dei. Taking a human life must always be the last resort, and this for moral, legal, prudential, and psychological reasons. You should aspire to die a virgin in this regard, assuming you are still 'intact.'
So here's my advice. Secure your home so that the miscreants cannot get in. That's Job One.
And of course never, ever, vote for criminal-coddling, criminal-releasing and gun-grabbing Democrats or liberals and always speak out loudly, proudly, and publicly for your Second Amendment rights. It is the Second that is the real-world back-up of the First and the others.
If there is divine light, sexual indulgence prevents it from streaming in. Herein lies the best argument for continence. The sex monkey may not be as destructive of the body as the booze monkey, but he may be even more destructive of the spirit. You may dismiss what I am saying here either by denying that there is any divine light or by denying that sexual indulgence impedes its influx, or both. But if you are in the grip of either monkey I will dismiss your dismissal. Why should I listen to a man with a monkey on his back? How do I know it is the man speaking and not the monkey?
Poor Kerouac got the holy hell beaten out of him by the simian tag-team. The Ellis Amburn biography goes into the greatest detail regarding Kerouac's homo- and hetero-erotic sexual excesses. His fatal fondness for the sauce, for the devil in liquid form, is documented in all the biographies.
It is not that the lovable dharma lush did not struggle mightily in his jihad against his lower self. He did, in his Buddhist phase in the mid-fifties, before the 1957 success of On the Road and the blandishments of fame did him in. (Worldly $ucce$$/Suckcess is an ambiguous good.) I've already pulled some quotations from Some of the Dharma which offers the best documentation of Jack's attempt to tread the straight path to the narrow gate.
One lesson, perhaps, is that we cannot be lamps unto ourselves even if the Tathagata succeeded in pulling himself up into Nirvana by his samsaric sandalstraps. To the vast run of us ordinary "poor suffering fucks" a religion of self-help is no help at all. The help we need, if help there be, must come from Elsewhere.
Suppose I sell you my car, transferring title to you in a manner that accords with all the relevant statutes. It is a good-faith transaction and I have no reason to suspect you of harboring any criminal intent. But later you use the car I sold you to mow down children on a school yard, or to violate the Mann Act, or to commit some other crime. Would it be right to hold me morally responsible for your wrongdoing? Of course not. No doubt, had I not sold you that particular car, that particular criminal event would not have occurred: as a philosopher might put it, the event is individuated by its constituents, one of them being the car I sold you. That very event could not have occurred without that very car. But that does not show that I am responsible for your crime. I am no more responsible than the owner of the gas station who sold you the fuel that you used for your spree.
Suppose I open a cheesecake emporium, and you decide to make cheesecake your main dietary item. Am I responsible for your ensuing health difficulties? Of course not. Being a nice guy, I will most likely warn you that a diet consisting chiefly of cheesecake is contraindicated. But in the end, the responsibility for your ill health lies with you.
The same goes for tobacco products, cheeseburgers, and so on down the line. The responsibility for your drunk driving resides with you, not with auto manufacturers or distilleries. Is this hard to understand? Not unless you are morally obtuse or a liberal, terms that in the end may be coextensive.
The principle extends to gun manufacturers and retailers. They have their legal responsibilities, of course. They are sometimes the legitimate targets of product liability suits. But once a weapon has been legally purchased or otherwise acquired, the owner alone is responsible for any crimes he commits using it.
But many liberals don't see it this way. What they cannot achieve through gun control legislation, they hope to achieve through frivolous lawsuits. The haven't had much success recently. Good. But the fact that they try shows how bereft of common sense and basic decency they are.
Don't expect them to give up. Hillary is in full-fury mode on this one. According to the BBC, "She proposes abolishing legislation that protects gun makers and dealers from being sued by shooting victims."
There is no wisdom on the Left. The very fact that there is any discussion at all of what ought to be a non-issue shows how far we've sunk in this country.
That's the silly title of an article in The Nation. The title is enough for me. It implies that we don't have gun control, when in fact we have a lot of it.
And nobody is against it. Everybody wants there to be laws regulating the manufacture, sale, importation, transportation, use, etc., of guns. Does anyone, apart from felons, think that felons should be permitted to purchase guns? So why do liberals routinely characterize conservatives as against gun control? Because they are mendacious. It is for the same reason that they label conservatives as anti-government. Conservatives stand for limited government, whence it follows that they are for government. This is a simple inference that even a liberal shallow-pate should be able to process. So why do liberals call conservatives anti-government? Because they are mendacious: they are not interested in civil debate, but in winning at all costs by any means. And they know that the smear is effective with their benighted audience.
With respect to both government and gun control, the question is not whether but how much.
And with respect to both one increasingly gets the impression that for liberals there cannot be too much. Perhaps here is the reason why liberals never stop calling for gun control when we manifestly have gun control: for them 'gun control' means total gun control just as for them 'government' means totalitarian government.
An appeal to reason works with a few, and an appeal to self-interest with most. But then there are the hopelessly recalcitrant for whom only the appeal to force is effective. The only argument that reaches them is the argumentum ad baculum. Herein yet another reason to uphold Second Amendment rights.
Those who call for the repeal of the Second Amendment not only fail to appreciate its importance but also vastly underestimate the difficulty of actually repealing it. On the latter point, see Charles C. W. Cooke.
Emmanuel Lasker, Die Philosophie des Unvollendbar, 1919, p. x:
Aber eine harte Kindheit macht einen starken Mann.
But a hard childhood makes a strong man.
In the '80s I read a chunk of Lasker's Philosophy of the Incompletable and concluded that the grandmaster of chess was not one of philosophy. But I didn't read much of it and it was a long time ago. Now available in a paperback reprint via Amazon.com. I am tempted to take another look.
Too many in philosophy and other fields confine themselves to the horizon of the contemporary. Explore, get lost, discover.
A marvellous sublunary trinity: chess, philosophy, and a cigar.
Should one be bothered, morally speaking, that the mutual funds (shares of which) one owns invest in companies that produce alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, and firearms? I say no. 'Socially conscious' is an ideologically loaded phrase, like 'social justice,' and the loading is from the Left.
For some, alcohol is the devil in liquid form. They should avoid the stuff, and it is certainly within their power to do so. For most of us, however, alcohol is a delightful adjunct to a civilized life. What good is a hard run on a hot day that doesn’t eventuate in the downing of a couple of cold beers? To what end a plate of Mama Gucci’s rigatoni, if not accompanied by a glass of Dago Red? I am exaggerating of course, but to make a serious point: alcohol for most us is harmless. Indeed, it is positively good for healthy humans when taken in small doses (1-2 oz. per diem) as numerous studies have been showing for the last twenty years or so.
The fact that many abuse alcohol is quite irrelevant. That is their free choice. Is it Sam Adam’s fault that you tank up on too much of his brew? No, it is your fault. This is such a simple point that I am almost embarrassed to make it; but I have to make it because so many liberals fail to grasp it. So read your prospectuses and be not troubled when you come across names like Seagrams.
I would also point out to the ‘socially conscious’ that if they enjoy an occasional drink, then they cannot, consistently with this fact, be opposed to the production of alcoholic beverages. You cannot drink alcohol unless alcohol is there to be drunk. Consistency demands of them complete abstention.
Here. Why do leftists lie? Because lying works, and because the end justifies the means in their moral calculus. They see politics as war, and "All's fair in love and war." Therein lies yet another reason for the defense and exercise of Second Amendment rights.
In soul-trying times, 'lead' joins gold as a precious metal.
Addendum on the Art of the Aphorism. Elliot comments,
Your aphorism sparked my thinking. After reading the aphorism, it occurred to me that there are at least two interpretations: one material and one spiritual.
The material interpretation is that 'lead' refers to the metal, symbol Pb, atomic number 82, which can be used to make bullets. This point may be why the aphorism is categorized in the ATF section. The spiritual interpretation is that 'lead' refers to the verb 'to lead' or 'to be led'. In soul-trying times, the presence of wise guidance to lead (or to be led by wise guidance) is more precious than gold. Images of leading out and being led out of Plato's Cave came to mind. Proverbs 8:10-11 and 16:16 came to mind as well. Both passages put wisdom and instruction above precious metals.
It's a wonderful aphorism!
Elliot's comment, for which I am grateful, shows that there is more to an aphorism than what the writer intends. There is also what the reader takes away from it.
The material interpretation is what I had in mind. Lead is not a precious metal. But lead is the stuff of bullets, and bullets -- or rather the rounds of which bullets are the projectiles - are precious as means for the defense of the Lockean triad of life, liberty, and property, including gold. So while lead is not a precious metal, 'lead' is precious.
'Soul-trying times' is a compressed way of bringing the reader to recall Thomas Paine: "These are the times that try men's souls." So my first version went like this:
In these times that try men's souls, 'lead' joins gold as a precious metal.
But I changed it for three reasons. First, briefer is better when it comes to aphorisms. Second, the revision is less of a cliché. Third, while I insist on the propriety of standard English, I was not this morning in the mood to distract or offend my distaff readers, all five of them.
Is the final version a good aphorism? Logically prior question: is it an aphorism at all? Just what is an aphorism? R. J. Hollingdale:
In its pure and perfect form the aphorism is distinguished by four qualities occurring together: it is brief, it is isolated, it is witty, and it is 'philosophical.' This last quality marks it off from the epigram, which is essentially no more than a witty observation; the third, which it shares with the epigram, marks it off from the proverb or maxim . . . (Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, The Waste Books, p. x)
My effort is brief, and it is isolated. It is isolated in that it stands alone. But I don't take this to imply that an aphorism may consist of only one sentence. It may consist of two or more. But at some point it becomes what I call an 'observation.' Hence my category, Aphorisms and Observations. Another aspect of isolation is that an aphorism to be such must be bare of argumentative support. No aphorism can be split into premise(s) and conclusion. One does not argue in an aphorism; one states.
"What about Descartes' cogito?" If cogito ergo sum is an enthymematic argument, then it is not an aphorism.
I also take isolation to imply that an aphorism, in the strict sense, cannot be a sentence taken from a wider context and set apart. In a wider context that I don't feel like hunting down at the moment, Schopenhauer writes, brilliantly,
Das Leben ist ein Geschaeft das seine Kosten nicht deckt.
Life is a business that doesn't cover its costs.
That is not an aphorism by my strict definition. For it lacks isolation in my strict sense of 'isolation.'
Is my effort witty and 'philosophical'? It is witty and therefore not a proverb or maxim. These are competing proverbs, not competing aphorisms:
Haste makes waste.
He who hesitates is lost.
Is it 'philosophical'? Yes, inasmuch as it is more than merely witty for reasons that I think are obvious. It is not an epigram.
So my effort is an aphorism. But is it a good aphorism? It is pretty good, though not as good as this gem from the pen of Henry David Thoreau:
A man sits as many risks as he runs.
But my effort, like Thoreau's involves a 'twist,' which is part of what distinguishes an aphorism from a proverb or maxim and makes it witty. It is idiomatic that we run risks. We don't sit risks. The brilliance of Thoreau's aphorism resides in the collision of the hackneyed with the novel.
In soul-trying times, 'lead' joins gold as a precious metal.
My aphorism arranges a collision between the mundane fact that lead is not a precious metal with the less obvious fact that guns and ammo are necessary for the defense of life, liberty, and property. It also exploits an equivocation on 'precious metal.'
As for what occasioned this morning's aphorism, see here.
A neighbor recently introduced me to 66 proof Fireball cinnamon whisky. Turns out the stuff contains propylene glycol, an ingredient used in anti-freeze and other industrial products. Well, as I told the twenty-something counterman at the liquor store, "Whatever doesn't kill me makes me stronger."
I rather doubt the kid could name the source of the line, and I didn't bother to offer enlightenment into Nietzsche's dark mind. He replied, "I like your attitude."
So we parted in generation-spanning solidarity, me with my whisky, cigars, and incense, but no peppermints.
Whisky is like socializing. A little is good from time to time, or at least not bad. But more is not better.
UPDATE (3/5): Bill H. writes,
Just some clarification, if you don't mind: propylene glycol is relatively nontoxic, and is an actual approved food additive.
Its chemical cousin ethyleneglycol is the quite poisonous one that is used in some antifreeze.
Keep up the good work, though.
I appreciate the clarification. It is true both that propylene glycol is relatively nontoxic and that it is an approved food additive. And it is true that ethylene glycol is used in some antifreezes/coolants. But according to this site, propylene glycol is also used in some antifreezes/coolants.
Another curious fact is that for those of you on a kosher diet, Propylene Glycol Kosher is available, and in quantity. You may purchase 326 gallons for a mere $4, 749.99 and in time for Passover. But hurry, this is a sale price.
My argument against the use of these terms is simple and straighforward. A phobia, by definition, is an irrational fear. (Every phobia is a fear, but not every fear is a phobia, because not every fear is irrational.) Therefore, one who calls a critic of the doctrines of Islam or of the practices of its adherents an Islamophobe is implying that the critic is in the grip of an irrational fear, and therefore irrational. This amounts to a refusal to confront and engage the content of his assertions and arguments.
This is not to say that there are no people with an irrational fear of Muslims or of Islam. But by the same token there are people with an irrational fear of firearms.
Suppose a defender of gun rights were to label anyone and everyone a hoplophobe who in any way argues for more gun control. Would you, dear liberal, object? I am sure you would. You would point out that a phobia is an irrational fear, and that your fear is quite rational. You would say that you fear the consequences of more and more guns in the hands of more and more people, some of them mentally unstable, some of them criminally inclined, some of them just careless.
You, dear liberal, would insist that your claims and arguments deserve to be confronted and engaged and not dismissed. You would be offended if a conservative or a libertarian were to dismiss you as a hoplophobe thereby implying that you are beneath the level of rational discourse.
So now, dear liberal, you perhaps understand why you ought to avoid 'Islamophobia' and its variants except in those few instances where they are legitimately applied.
The quality of 'elite' publications such as The New Yorker leaves a lot to be desired these days. Adam Gopnik's recent outburst on Newtown is one more example of a downward trend: it is so breathtakingly bad that I am tempted to snark: "I can't breathe!" Could Gopnik really be as willfully stupid as the author of this piece? Or perhaps he was drunk when he posted his screed one minute after midnight on January 1st.
Again I ask myself: why is the quality of conservative commentary so vastly superior to the stuff on the Left?
A tip of the hat and a Happy New Year! to Malcolm Pollack from whom I snagged the above hyperlinks. Malcolm is a very good writer as you can see from this paragraph:
The New Yorker‘s essayist Adam Gopnik — whom I have always considered to be quite lavishly talented, despite his dainty and epicene style — beclowned himself one minute into this New Year with a stupendously mawkish item on gun control. It is so bad, in fact — so completely barren of fact, rational argument, or indeed any serious intellectual effort whatsoever — that I was startled, and frankly saddened, to see it in print. It is the cognitive equivalent, if one can imagine such a thing hoisted into Mr. Gopnik’s rarefied belletrist milieu, of yelling “BOSTON SUCKS” at a Yankees-Red Sox game, at a time when Boston leads the division by eleven games.
This beautifully written, erudite piece by George F. Will is the best thing I've read so far about the Eric Garner case. Excerpts:
Garner died at the dangerous intersection of something wise, known as “broken windows” policing, and something worse than foolish: decades of overcriminalization. The policing applies the wisdom that where signs of disorder, such as broken windows, proliferate and persist, a general diminution of restraint and good comportment takes hold. So, because minor infractions are, cumulatively, not minor, police should not be lackadaisical about offenses such as jumping over subway turnstiles.
Overcriminalization has become a national plague. And when more and more behaviors are criminalized, there are more and more occasions for police, who embody the state’s monopoly on legitimate violence, and who fully participate in humanity’s flaws, to make mistakes.
The scandal of mass incarceration is partly produced by the frivolity of the political class, which uses the multiplication of criminal offenses as a form of moral exhibitionism. This, like Eric Garner’s death, is a pebble in the mountain of evidence that American government is increasingly characterized by an ugly and sometimes lethal irresponsibility.
From time to time it is perhaps appropriate that we should relax a little the bonds that tether us to the straight and narrow. A fitting apologia for a bit of indulgence and even overindulgence is found in Seneca, On Tranquillity of Mind, XVII, 8-9, tr. Basore:
At times we ought to reach even the point of intoxication, not drowning ourselves in drink, yet succumbing to it; for it washes away troubles, and stirs the mind from its very depths and heals its sorrow just as it does certain ills of the body; and the inventor of wine is not called the Releaser [Liber, Bacchus] on account of the license it gives to the tongue, but because it frees the mind from bondage to cares and emancipates it and gives it new life and makes it bolder in all that it attempts. But, as in freedom, so in wine there is a wholesome moderation.
Sed ut libertatis ita vini salubris moderatio est.
. . .
Yet we ought not to do this often, for fear that the mind may contract an evil habit; nevertheless there are times when it must be drawn into rejoicing and freedom, and gloomy sobriety must be banished for a while.
Joan Baez, Rock Salt and Nails. "If the ladies was squirrels with high bushy tails/I'd fill up my shotgun with rock salt and nails." This is undoubtedly (!)the best version of this great Utah Phillips song.
When you pull in a half-million dollars a speech, why not celebrate with the "Rolls Royce" of cigars?
Former President Bill Clinton reportedly indulges in some of the world's most expensive cigars, from a Dominican Republic company whose smokes fetch up to $1,000 -- that's per cigar, not per box.
You will recall that the late Michael Brown of Ferguson fame displayed bad taste in cigars along with bad moral judgment when he shoplifted a package of Swisher Sweets in the penultimate adventure of his short life.
Treading the Middle Path, and avoiding the extremes of our first black president and of the latest poster boy of the hate-America race baiters, I recommend to you the Arturo Fuente 'Curly Head,' under $3 per stick. Cheap but good and proportional to the speaking fees a philosopher is likely to pull down.
The inaugural meeting, back in January, Scottsdale Community College, to protest the rising tide of tobacco-wackery. I just stumbled across this shot, a 'selfie' or perhaps an 'us-y' taken by Mike Valle of SCC.
Nicotine is the main psychoactive ingredient in tobacco, and a most delightful and useful ingredient it is, especially for us Luftmenschen. I am thinking of the chess players who make Luft, not war, and of the philosophers whose thoughts are characteristically lofty and luftig even if at times nebelig. Nicotine is good for cognitive functioning, increasing both memory and attention. Studies on humans and lab animals show this to be the case. But we connoisseurs of the noble weed know this to be so without the help of studies. Experientia docet.
The drawback, of course, is that nicotine may be the most highly addictive substance on earth–more addictive than crack cocaine or heroin, and a more difficult addiction to shake, Rezvani said.
Why is that? First, it binds with the receptors in the brain for acetylcholine, one of our most important neurotransmitters and the first ever discovered. Second, because nicotine is usually inhaled, via cigarettes and now e-cigarettes, it hits the brain almost immediately.
“One reason for it being so addictive is that as soon as you smoke, you see the reward,” Rezvani said. The same is true of crack cocaine, he said.
The quotation 'smacks' of wild liberal exaggeration. It reeks of the Big Lie. People have been parroting that Everett Koop line for years. Remember that bow-tied sawbones who occupied the most useless office in the land, that of Surgeon General, from 1981 to 1989? Surely it is nonsense to say that nicotine is more addictive than heroin or crack cocaine. In fact, I will go one better: It is not addictive in any serious sense at all. But of course it all depends on what exactly is meant by 'addiction,' a word I have yet to see any anti-tobacco ideologue explain. It is a word that is used and overused and abused in all sorts of promiscuous connections.
You say you're addicted to nicotine? Well, if I paid you a million dollars to go one month without smoking, would you be able to do it? Of course you would. But if you had been shooting heroin daily for years and were addicted, and I made the same offer, would you be able to collect? No way! This is of course an empirical question, but some empirical questions can be answered from the armchair. This assumes that you have experience of life and some common sense, a commodity in short supply among liberals. It would be very interesting to set up an experiment, but you would need some moneybags to bankroll it. Anybody out there want to pony up 200 million USD? Do the experiment using 100 two-pack per day cigarette smokers and 100 heroin addicts who shoot up daily. You get a million bucks if you go a month without indulging. You will of course be under close surveillance. I predict the following outcome. 90 - 100% of the smokers but only 0-10% of the 'smackers' would collect.
And now for some anecdotal evidence, which is, after all, evidence: 'anecdotal' is not here functioning as an alienans adjective.
I have been smoking cigars and pipes for 45 years or so. Time was when I smoked two loads of pipe tobacco per diem, all the way down, and it was strong stuff. In Turkey where I lived for a year in the '90s I bought a Meerschaum pipe and I smoked an unconscionable quantity of the meanest shit there is, straight Turkish. Stateside the stuff is used sparingly as a seasoning in blends. I don't recommend it straight. Might blow your head clean off. Mine is still intact, thank you very much.
Now here's my point: if nicotine is addictive, then surely I ought to be addicted. But I'm not. I smoke only when I decide to, nowadays, less than one cigar per week. But I smoke the sucker down to the bitter end, reducing the whole of it to smoke and ashes. "But doesn't it burn your fingertips?" Not if I tamp it down into a smoking pipe. The finale is mighty rasty and loaded with nicotine. And I am still not addicted.
I am not an isolated exception. There are all the two-pack-a day cigarette smokers who just up and quit of their free will without a federal program or a 'patch' or somebody holding their hand. I'm thinking of my father, and aunts and uncles, and brother-in-law, and hundreds of others. And they smoked unfiltered Camels and Lucky Strikes, not the pussy brands abroad in the land today.
Now suppose I was smoking crack cocaine or mainlining heroin for the last 45 years. I'd mostly like be dead, but if I weren't I would be addicted in a serious sense of that word. So there is just no comparison. It's a bullshit comparison that only a willfully nescient liberal could love.
Can you call a substance 'addictive' if only some people become 'addicted' to it? I say No. In the case of nicotine, it is not the substance that is addictive but the user who allows himself of his own free will to become 'addicted.' (Those are 'sneer' quotes by the way.) You say you have an 'addictive personality'? I'm going to question that too. You are most likely just looking for an excuse. Why not say you lack self-discipline and that you refuse to take yourself in hand; that instead of doing those things, you blame your problems on something outside of yourself, whether tobacco or tobacco companies, or 'society'?
The case for nicotine, then, is that it is a sovereign enhancer of cognitive functioning. And you can get it without smoking cigarettes or using snuff. I recommend that you stay away from cigarettes and snuff.
There is a lot to say on this topic and lot of liberal nonsense to dispose of. But I'll end today with this aphorism:
The church of liberalism must have its demon and his name is 'tobacco.'
Like many American boys, I read plenty of Jack London: The Call of the Wild, White Fang, The Sea Wolf, Martin Eden, not to mention numerous short stories, some of them unforgettable to this day: "Love of Life," "Moonface," and "To Build a Fire." But I never got around to John Barleycorn until years later after I had read a lit-crit study of the American booze novel, and had decided to read every booze novel I could get my hands on. You could say I went on a booze novel binge. So I read Charles Jackson's Lost Weekend, things like that, until I was ready for the grandpappy of them all, John Barleycorn.
Here are some notes from a journal entry of 7 March 1998.
Finished John Barleycorn in bed last night. One of London's best books. What's the gist of it?
One cannot live and be happy unless one suppresses the final truth which is that life is a senseless play of forces, a brutal and bloody war of all against all with no redeeming point or purpose. Man is a brother to the dust, "a cosmic joke, a sport of chemistry." (319).
Only by telling himself "vital lies" can a man live "muttering and mumbling them like charms and incantations against the powers of Night." (329) All metaphysics, religion, and spirtuality are half-believed-in attempts to "outwit the Noseless One [the skull behind the face] and the Night." (329) "Life is oppositional and passes. You are an apparition." (317) "All an appearance can know is mirage." (316)
Ah, but here is a weak point in the London position. An appearance can't know anything, can't even dream or doubt anything. If I am dreaming, then I am, beyiond all seeming, and I cannot be a mere dream object. Here the "White Logic" shows itself to be illogic. Let your experience be as deceptive, delusive, mirage-like as you want, the experiencer stands above it, apart from it, behind it -- at least in his inner essence. Thus there is the hope that he may unfold his inner essence, disentangling himself from the play of specters. But this is exactly what London, worldling and sensualist, did not do. And what he presumably could not do.
There is the 'truth' we need to live and flourish -- which is a bunch of "vital lies" -- and there is the real truth, which is that our life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Religion and metaphysics are further life-enhancing illusions. Alcohol revealed all this "White Logic" to London. What is his solution? Stay sober and dream on, apparently. Close the books of despair (Spencer, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche) and lose yourself in the daily round, the social whirl, the delights of the foreground. Distract yourself and keep your self distracted.
What is noteworthy here is that booze for London is not anodyne and escape but truth serum. Beyond noteworthy it is very strange: the boozed-up, barely-corned, brain is in the proper condition to grasp reality as she is.
Three paths are suggested:
A. The Superficial Man. Lives in immediacy and illusion, oblivious to sickness, old age, and death. Doesn't see that there is a problem of life to be solved. Or rather he doesn't want to see that life is a predicament. He prefers self-deception on this point. He takes short views and avoids the long ones. Keeps himself busy and distracted.
B. The 'London Man.' Sees through the average schlep's illusions. He experiences the nullity, the vanity of success, recognition, love of woman, money and the rest. (See p. 254) But beyond this there is only the horror of the senseless and brutal struggle for existence. So he turns against the "ancient mistake of pursuing Truth too relentlessly." (254) He returns to the Cave, believing that ultimately there is No Exit.
C. The Quester. For whatever reason, he has been so placed in life that he has a glimpse of the possibility of salvation from meaninglessness. He sees deeper than the 'London Man.' He has been granted a fleeting vision of the Light behind and beyond the Noseless One and Night. He works to attain that vision in fullness.
My referrers' list points me to this post whence I snagged these two delightful quotations:
The pipe draws wisdom from the lips of the philosopher, and shuts up the mouth of the foolish; it generates a style of conversation, contemplative, thoughtful, benevolent, and unaffected.
William Makepeace Thackeray
A pipe is the fountain of contemplation, the source of pleasure, the companion of the wise; and the man who smokes, thinks like a philosopher and acts like a Samaritan.”
Edward George Bulwer-Lytton
The name 'Bulwer-Lytton' rings a bell doesn't it? You guessed right: it's the same Bulwer-Lytton who penned, in prose of purple, the opening sentence,
It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.