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 might want 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 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. 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. Certain scumbags of the Left love to slander us by saying that we are anti-government. It is a lie and they know it. They are not so stupid as not to know that to be for limited government is to be for government.
There are two extremes to avoid, the libertarian and the liberal. Libertarians often say that the government can do nothing right, and that the solution is to privatize everything including the National Parks. Both halves of that assertion are patent nonsense. It is equal but opposite nonsense to think that Big Government will solve all our problems. Ronald Reagan had it right: "A government big enough to give you everything you want is powerful enough to take everything you have." Or something like that.
From a logical point of view, the ‘Government is us’ nonsense appears to be a pars pro toto fallacy: one identifies a proper part (the governing) with the whole of which it is a proper part (the governed).
Senator John McCain is for it. Victor Davis Hanson is against it. VDH has the better case, as it seems to me.
The further expenditure of American blood and treasure "to teach locals not to be their tribal selves" (VDH) is a losing proposition. We are in deep trouble domestically, and we are going to teach benighted Middle Eastern tribalists how to live? How has that worked out in the past? And with our trash culture of empty celebrity, an entertainment industry that resembles an open sewer, fiscal irresponsibility, ever-widening political divisions, and a panem-et-circenses populace, we are not exactly role models to anyone any more.
In this fine piece, Marilyn Penn takes Thomas Friedman to task. Her article begins thusly (emphasis added):
In Thomas Friedman’s op ed on the Boston marathon massacre (Bring On the Next Marathon, NYT 4/17), the boldface caption insists “We’re just not afraid anymore.” Perhaps this is true for a traveling journalist who doesn’t use the subway daily or who isn’t forced to spend all his days in the 9/11 city of New York, but for most thinking people who work and live here, there is a great deal to fear. We live in a porous society where criminals roam free yet politicians complain about the “discriminatory” stop and frisk policies of the police, even though they have successfully reduced crime precisely in the neighborhoods that most affect the complaining minorities and their liberal champions. If you ride the subways, you know how many passengers wear enormous back-packs, large enough to conceal an arsenal of weapons. These are allowed to be carried into movie theaters, playgrounds, parks, sports arenas, shopping centers, department stores and restaurants with no security checks whatsoever. On the national front, immigration policies are more concerned with politically correct equality than with the reality of which groups are fomenting most of the terror around the world today. Our northern and southern borders are infiltrated daily by undocumented people slipping in beyond the government’s surveillance or control.
I agree with her entire piece. Read it.
It has been a week since the Boston Marathon bombing. There was a moment of silence today in remembrance of the victims. But let's keep things in perspective. Only three people were killed. I know you are supposed to gush over these relatively minor events and the undoubtedly horrendous suffering of the victims, but most of the gushing is the false and foolish response of feel-good liberals who have no intention of doing what is necessary to protect against the threat of radical Islam. The Patriot's Day event was nothing compared to what could happen. How about half of Manhattan being rendered uninhabitable by dirty bombs?
When that or something similar happens, will you liberals start yammering about how 'unimaginable' it was? Look, I'm imagining it right now. Liberals can imagine the utopian nonsense imagined by John Lennon in his asinine "Imagine." Is their imagination 'selective'? They can imagine the impossible but not the likely. It is worth recalling that Teddy Kennedy's favorite song was Impossible Dream.
What follows is the whole of Victor Davis Hanson's Promiscuous Prudes with a bit of commentary.
More than 500 people were murdered in Chicago last year. Yet Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel still found time to berate the fast food franchise Chick-fil-A for not sharing "Chicago values" -- apparently because its founder does not approve of gay marriage.
[A case of what I call misplaced moral enthusiasm. Emanuel's view is particularly offensive because conservative opposition to gay 'marriage' is principled and rationally argued. It does not derive from bigotry or 'homophobia.']
Two states have legalized marijuana, with more to come. Yet social taboos against tobacco smoking make it nearly impossible to light up a cigarette in public places. Marijuana, like alcohol, causes far greater short-term impairment than does nicotine. But legal cigarette smoking is now seen as a corporate-sponsored, uncool and dirty habit that leads to long-term health costs for society at large -- in a way homegrown, hip and mostly illegal pot smoking apparently does not.
[The church of liberalism must have its demon, and his name is tobacco. (See Cigarettes, Rationality, and Hitchens.) There is also the absurdity, not mentioned by Hanson, that tobacco use is demonized while drinking alcohol is widely accepted. Ask yourself: how many auto accidents have been caused by people under abnd because of the influence of nicotine? More or less than the number of such accidents caused by people under the influence of alcohol? The question answers itself. Now repeat the question substituting 'marijuana' for 'alcohol.' Marijuana use impairs driving skills. Nicotine use enhances concentration and alertness. Liberals have a knee-jerk hatred of corporations. When big corporations market dope will the lefties change their tune?]
Graphic language, nudity and sex are now commonplace in movies and on cable television. At the same time, there is now almost no tolerance for casual and slang banter in the media or the workplace. A boss who calls an employee "honey" might face accusations of fostering a hostile work environment, yet a television producer whose program shows an 18-year-old having sex does not. Many colleges offer courses on lurid themes from masturbation to prostitution, even as campus sexual-harassment suits over hurtful language are at an all-time high.
[There is also the double-standard: you can get away with calling a Jew a 'kike' but not a black 'nigger.' Why is 'nigger' more offensive than 'kike'? Why is 'So-and-so is nigger-rich' more offensive than 'I got a great deal; I jewed him down to $150'? You may recall Jesse Jackson's reference to New York as 'himey town.' But what if someone referred to Detroit as 'nigger town'?
In a blog post on the difference between 'asshole' and 'honkey,' a philosophy professor who wrote a book entitled Assholes starts off, "Here I mean not only 'honkey,' but any pejorative term directed toward a particular group of people ('honkey' and whites; 'wop' and Italians; 'kike' and Jews; 'chink' and Chinese people; 'limeys' and Irish people; 'n—-r' and Afro-Americans).
Notice how the PC prof refuses to write out 'nigger,' but has no qualms about 'wop,' 'kike,' and 'chink.'
As a philosophy teacher he ought to be aware of the distinction between use and mention. He is talking about those words, not applying them to people. Why then is he so squeamish about writing out the word 'nigger'?]
A federal judge in New York recently ruled that the so-called morning-after birth control pill must be made available to all "women" regardless of age or parental consent, and without a prescription. The judge determined that it was unfair for those under 16 to be denied access to such emergency contraceptives. But if vast numbers of girls younger than 16 need after-sex options to prevent unwanted pregnancies, will there be a flood of statutory rape charges lodged against older teenagers who had such consensual relations with younger girls?
Our schizophrenic morality also affects the military. When America was a far more traditional society, few seemed to care that Gen. Dwight Eisenhower carried on an unusual relationship at the front in Normandy with his young female chauffeur, Kay Summersby. As the Third Army chased the Germans across France, Gen. George S. Patton was not discreet about his female liaisons. Contrast that live-and-let-live attitude of a supposedly uptight society with our own hip culture's tabloid interest in Gen. David Petraeus' career-ending affair with Paula Broadwell, or in the private emails of Gen. John Allen.
What explains these contradictions in our wide-open but prudish society?
Decades after the rise of feminism, popular culture still seems confused by it. If women should be able to approach sexuality like men, does it follow that commentary about sex should follow the same gender-neutral rules? Yet wearing provocative or inappropriate clothing is often considered less offensive than remarking upon it. Calling a near-nude Madonna onstage a "hussy" or "tart" would be considered crudity in a way that her mock crucifixion and simulated sex acts are not.
Criminal sexual activity is sometimes not as professionally injurious as politically incorrect thoughts about sex and gender. Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer -- found to have hired prostitutes on a number of occasions during his time in office -- was given a CNN news show despite the scandal. But when former Miss California Carrie Prejean was asked in the Miss USA Pageant whether she endorsed gay marriage, she said no -- and thereby earned nearly as much popular condemnation for her candid defense of traditional marriage as Spitzer had for his purchased affairs.
Critics were outraged that talk-show host Rush Limbaugh grossly insulted birth-control activist Sandra Fluke. Amid the attention, Fluke was canonized for her position that federal health-care plans should pay for the contraceptive costs of all women.
Yet in comparison to Fluke's well-publicized victimhood, there has been a veritable news blackout for the trial of the macabre Dr. Kermit Gosnell, charged with killing and mutilating in gruesome fashion seven babies during a long career of conducting sometimes illegal late-term abortions. Had Gosnell's aborted victims been canines instead of humans -- compare the minimal coverage of the Gosnell trial with the widespread media condemnation of dog-killing quarterback Michael Vick -- perhaps the doctor's mayhem likewise would have been front-page news outside of Philadelphia.
Modern society also resorts to empty, symbolic moral action when it cannot deal with real problems. So-called assault weapons account for less than 1 percent of gun deaths in America. But the country whips itself into a frenzy to ban them, apparently to prove that at least it can do something -- without wading into the polarized racial and class controversies of going after illegal urban handguns, the real source of the nation's high gun-related body count.
Not since the late-19th-century juxtaposition of the Wild West with the Victorian East has popular morality been so unbridled and yet so uptight.
In short, we have become a nation of promiscuous prudes.
I wanted to sound an alarm bell from coast to coast. I wanted everybody to know that our Constitution is precious and that no American should be killed by a drone without first being charged with a crime. As Americans, we have fought long and hard for the Bill of Rights. The idea that no person shall be held without due process, and that no person shall be held for a capital offense without being indicted, is a founding American principle and a basic right.
If the Obama Administration whose Attorney General is Eric Holder can get away with killing by drone an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, without owning up to it, what is to stop such a mendacious and power-hungry administration from killing U.S. citizens in the homeland without due process?
Even the shysters of the ACLU and the bunch at The Nation are on the right side of this issue. It would be nice if we could convince the aforementioned crapweasels that it is the Second Amendment that backs up the others, including the Fifth, but they are too morally corrupt and intellectually obtuse for that.
A Fox News anchor's reportage from earlier today betrays presumably inadvertent bias. The anchor said that Pope Benedict XVI is "a conservative not in favor of many reforms." A reform is not merely a change, but an improvement. The Wikipedia article gets it right: "Reform means the improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt, unsatisfactory, etc."
"A conservative not in favor of reforms" therefore implies that conservatives are not in favor of the improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt, unsatisfactory, etc. And to describe the current pontiff using the phrase in question is to imply that he is not in favor of improvement or amendment of what needs improving or amending.
The Fox News anchor could have avoided the biased formulation by reporting what is true in neutral language, e.g., "The Pope, being a conservative, is skeptical of changes." Or something like that.
Conservatives tend to resist change. That is not to say that conservatives are opposed to what they take to be ameliorative changes. For a conservative, there is a defeasible presumption in favor of traditional beliefs and practices. Note the adjective 'defeasible.' Liberals, being more open to change, lack this presumption in favor of the traditional.
The paragraph I just wrote is an example of neutral writing. It does not take sides; it merely reports a salient difference between conservatives and liberals.
As I have said many times, language matters. It is particularly important that conservatives not adopt the slovenly speech habits of liberals. Much of liberal-left phraseology is rigged to beg questions and shut down debate. That is exactly the purpose of such coinages as 'homophobe' and 'Islamophobe.' To call a person who argues that radical Islam is a serious threat to the West and its values an 'Islamaphobe,' for example, is to deflect attention from the objective content of his utterances so as to focus it on his mental state. Since a phobia is an irrational fear by definition, calling someone an Islamophobe is a way of refusing to engage the content of his utterances. It is a form of the genetic fallacy.
If you are a conservative, don't talk like a liberal!
For example, why do conservatives like O'Reilly and Hannity and Giuliani and a score more play the liberal game and speak of 'assault weapons'? Can't they see that it is an emotive phrase used by the Left -- the positions of which are mainly emotion-driven -- to appeal to fear and make calm discussion impossible?
Note the difference between 'semi-automatic long gun' and 'assault weapon.' Suppose you did a poll and asked whether ordinary citizen should be permitted to own assault weapons. I am quite sure that you would find that the number answering in the negative would be greater than if you framed the question correctly and non-emotively as "Do you think ordinary citizens should be permitted to own semi-automatic long guns?"
And why does Bill O'Reilly say things like,"Obama is for social justice? 'Social justice' is lefty-talk. it sounds good, but if the folks knew what it meant they would oppose it. See What is Social Justice?
It is the foolish conservative who acquiesces in the slovenly and question-begging speech patterns of liberals.
Liberals oppose photo ID at polling places because it would 'disenfranchise' all the blacks and others among us who somehow live without ID whose votes liberals need. And anyway, voter fraud never happens -- except when it does.
At a news conference on Monday, exactly one month after the school massacre in Newtown, Conn., Mr. Obama said a task force led by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had “presented me now with a list of sensible, common-sense steps that can be taken to make sure that the kinds of violence we saw at Newtown doesn’t happen again. He added: “My starting point is not to worry about the politics. My starting point is to focus on what makes sense, what works.”
The quotation is ungrammatical ("kinds of violence . . . doesn't"), but that is the least of it. How can any serious individual speak of making sure that events such as Newtown don't happen again? Every reasonable person knows that there will be similar occurrences. The astonishing attitude betrayed here is that the federal government, by merely passing laws, can eliminate evil from the world. The risibility of this notion is compounded by the content of the laws being proposed. Must I point out that behind this foolishness is lust for power? The Left is totalitarian from the ground up and this is just further proof of the fact.
To say that sales of guns and ammo and accessories are brisk would be an understatement. Expect it to become brisker still. POTUS has just given the people another reason to arm themselves.
According to a news report I just heard, the Taft High School shooter targeted a bully. Rather than blame an inanimate object, the gun, which makes no sense, one ought to blame the parents, teachers, administrators, clergy, and other so-called 'authorities' who have abdicated their authority and allowed bullying to become a serious problem in schools. Which is a more likely explanation of the shooter's behavior, the availability of a gun, or his having been bullied? If had no access to a gun, he could have enployed a knife, a slingshot, a vial of acid, you name it. But if he had no motive to retaliate, he would not have sought any such means.
Again, the problem is not gun culture, but liberal culture.
At bottom, the gun debate boils down to a conflict of visions, to borrow a phrase from Thomas Sowell. This is well-explained by Mchael Medved in The Liberal God Delusion. Excerpt:
Consider the current dispute over the right response to gun violence. At its core, this argument comes down to a visceral disagreement between relying on self-defense or on government protection. Gun-rights enthusiasts insist that the best security for law-abiding citizens comes from placing formidable firearms into their hands; gun-control advocates believe we can protect the public far more effectively by taking guns away from as many Americans as possible. In other words, conservatives wantto address the threat of gun violence by giving individuals more power while liberals seek to improve the situation by concentrating more power in the hands of the government. The right preaches self-reliance while the left places its trust in the higher power of government.
The same dynamic characterizes most of today’s foreign-policy and defense debates. Right-wingers passionately proclaim the ideal of “peace through strength,” arguing that a powerful, self-confident America with dominant military resources remains the only guarantee of national security. Progressives, on the other hand, dream of multilateral consensus, comprehensive treaties, disarmament, grand peace deals, and vastly enhanced authority for the United Nations. Once again, liberals place a touching and naive faith in the ideal of a higher power—potential world government—while conservatives insist that the United States, like any nation, must ultimately rely only on itself.
For the liberal, the weapon, not the wielder, is the cynosure of his moral disapprobation, and it doesn't matter whether the weapon is a semi-automatic pistol or a nuclear device. It is baaaaaad, as such and in itself, and so must be banned. For the conservative, the focus is on the wielder, not the weapon, for only the wielder is a moral agent. If Israel has nukes, that is not a problem. But it is a big problem if a rogue state such as Iran does. Iran does, but Israel does not, call for the destruction of other states.
The difference between my shotgun and Stanley 'Tookie' William's shotgun resides not in the shotgun but in the fact that he is or (thankfully) was a moral cretin whereas your humble correspondent, despite his manifold minor faults, does not deserve such an appellation.
It's the wielder, not the weapon, that counts. Wise up, liberals.
Without wanting to deny that there is a 'gun culture' in the USA, especially in the 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 ACLU, 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 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. Commentary here. 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. 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 inaminate objects, guns, as if the weapon, not the wielder, is the source of the evil for which the weapon can be only the instrument.
A sweet old lady in the pool the other morning asked me this question. Actually, she asked a much stupider question,"Why would anyone need an assault weapon?' I smiled indulgently and refused to engage her. I knew she wasn't baiting me, and I like her, and 'tis the season to be jolly, and so in the interests of comity I let it slide, realizing that no good would come of giving her the dialectical thrashing she so richly deserved.
First a point of history and a bit of terminology.
Fully automatic rifles, ‘machine guns,’ are heavily regulated. The National Firearms Act of 1934 " requires that before a private citizen may take possession of a fully-automatic firearm he must pay a $200 tax to the Internal Revenue Service and be approved by the Treasury Department to own the firearm, which is registered to the owner with the federal government." (reference) A semi-automatic pistol, rifle, or shotgun fires exactly one round with each pull of the trigger until the magazine is exhausted, unlike a fully automatic which does not require a separate trigger pull for each round fired. The distinction is important and is blurred by use of the emotive phrase 'assault weapon.'
Why would anybody need a semi-automatic rifle such as an AR-15? Well, you might be a Korean shopkeeper who needs to defend his life and livelihood from rampaging ghetto blacks in South Central Los Angeles. (Remember the aftermath of the acquittal of the cops who took the 'motorist' Rodney King into custody using perfectly legal and reasonable methods?) Or perhaps you live along the southern border and need to defend yourself and your family against heavily armed drug cartel members from the corrupt narco-state to the South. Your snub-nosed .38 special is a nice walk-around piece, and better than nothing, but insufficient for the defensive task at hand.
(A gun enthusiast acquaintance of mine referred to my Colt .38 Detective Special as a nice 'heirloom,' recommending that I get a 1911 model semi-auto .45, which I did.)
Any conservative can continue with answers like the above ad libitum, but the best strategy for a conservative is to reject the question altogether.
The right question is not: Why does the citizen need to be armed? The right question is: By what right does the government violate the liberty of the law-abiding citizen? Gun-ownership is a liberty issue similarly as taxation is a liberty issue. With respect to taxation, the right question is not: Why should citizens be allowed to keep their wealth? The right question is: What justifies the government in taking their wealth? The onus justificandi is not on the citizen to defend his keeping of his money; the onus justificandi is on the government to justify its taking of his money. The same goes for guns. The burden is on the government to justify its curtailment of individual liberties, not on the citizen to justify his keeping of his liberties. This is because governments exist for the sake of their citizens, and not the other way around.
You might think that liberals would understand all of this. Although liberals are absurdly sensitive about First Amendment rights, nary a peep will you hear from them concerning Second Amendment rights. And yet it is the Second Amendment that backs up the First. Chairman Mao was right about one thing, namely, that power emanates from the barrel of a gun. Power to the people!
There is a curious inconsistency here, is there not? If liberals believe that our civil liberties are under serious assault from Ashcroft & Co., and continue to be as Obama continues Bush-era policies, then why are they so unwilling to ensure that real power remain in the hands of the people?
There is something schizophrenic about contemporary liberals. They have a libertarian streak: they want to be able to spout any kind of nonsense, no matter how offensive and irresponsible, and have it protected as ‘dissent.’ Fair enough. Though I find Michael Moore contemptible, I would defend his right to pollute the air waves with his ideological flatulence. But when it comes to gun rights, liberals become as collectivist as Hitler or Fidel Castro. It’s curious, and a worthy theme of further rumination.
Liberals often call for 'a conversation' or a 'dialogue' about this or that. Didn't Eric Holder a while back call for a 'conversation' on race? What have we been talking about for 150 years? Same with guns. Our liberal pals must know that the gun debate has been raging for decades. So what does a liberal mean when he calls for a 'conversation' about guns?
He means: You conservatives and libertarians shut up and acquiesce in our position. Kurt Schlichter gets it right:
. . . we’re not supposed to have what people might commonly describe as a “conversation” at all. We’re supposed to shut-up and listen as liberals, barely masking their unseemly delight at the opportunity, try to pin the murder rampage of one degenerate creep on millions of law-abiding Americans who did nothing wrong. The conversation is then supposed to end with us waiving our fundamental right to self-defense.
Because that is what the goal is – a total ban on the private ownership of firearms. There’s always another “common sense” gun law which fails because it is targeted at law-abiding citizens and not criminals, thereby inviting another round of onerous new restrictions until finally no citizen is keeping or bearing anything more than a dull butter knife.
Well, almost no citizens. “Gun control” means all guns under the control of the government and available only to it and, of course, to politically connected cronies. Gun-grabbing poser Michael Bloomberg is going to be surrounded by enough fire power to remake the movie Heat. He’s always going to be protected. The purpose of gun control is to ensure that we aren’t.
So let’s have that conversation, and let’s lay the cards on the table. Modern firearms (which really aren’t that modern) are highly effective weapons in the hands of an evil little freak who gets off shooting children. They are also highly effective weapons in my hands when defending my children from evil little freaks.
Liberals ask why I need these weapons. The answer is simple. I’m going to be as well-armed or better armed than the threat. Period.
Another old post that makes points that need regular repeating. Enjoy!
There is temporary insanity as when a middle-aged man buys a Harley on which to ride though his midlife crisis, wisely selling the bike after the crisis subsides. But my theme is topical insanity, that species of temporary insanity that can occur when certain topics are brought to one’s attention. Someone so afflicted loses the ability to think clearly about the topic in question for the period of time that the topic is before his mind.
Try this. The next time you are at a liberal gathering, a faculty party, say, calmly state that you agree with the National Rifle Association’s position on gun control. Now observe the idiocies to flow freely from liberal mouths. Enjoy as they splutter and fulminate unto apoplexy.
Some will say that the NRA is opposed to gun control. False, everyone is for gun control, i.e., gun control legislation; the only question being its nature and scope. Nobody worth mentioning wants no laws relating to the acquisition and use of firearms. Everyone worth mentioning wants reasonable laws that are enforceable and enforced.
Others will say that guns have only one purpose, to kill people. A liberal favorite, but spectacularly false for all that, and quickly counterexampled: (i) Guns can be used to save lives both by police and by ordinary citizens; (ii) Guns can be used to hunt and defend against nonhuman critters; (iii) Guns can be used for sporting purposes to shoot at nonsentient targets; (iv) Guns can be collected without ever being fired; (v) Guns can be used to deter crime without being fired; merely ‘showing steel’ is a marvellous deterrent. Indeed, display of a weapon is not even necessary: a miscreant who merely suspects that his target is armed, or that others in the vicinity are, may be deterred. Despite liberal mythology, criminals are not for the most part irrational and their crimes are not for the most part senseless. In terms of short-term means-ends rationality, it is quite reasonable and sensible to rob places where money is to be found -- Willy Sutton recommends banks -- and kill witnesses to the crime.
Still others will maintain that gun ownership has no effect on crime rates. False, see the work of John Lott.
Here then we have an example of topical insanity, an example of a topic that completely unhinges otherwise sane people. There are plenty of other examples. Capital punishment is one, religion is another. A. C. "Gasbag" Grayling, for example, sometimes comes across as extremely intelligent and judicious. But when it comes to religion he degenerates into the worst form of barroom bullshitter. See my earlier post.
It is time to trot out my old gun posts to counteract the tsunami of leftist Unsinn washing over us because of the recent massacres in Oregon and Connecticut. Here is one from December of 2010, slightly revised.
How should we deal with offensive speech? As a first resort, with more speech, better, truer, more responsible speech. Censorship cannot be ruled out, but it must be a last resort. We should respond similarly to the misuse of firearms. Banning firearms is no solution since (i) bans have no effect on criminals who, in virtue of being criminals, have no respect for law, and (ii) bans violate the liberty of the law-abiding. To punish the law-abiding while failing vigorously to pursue scofflaws is the way of the contemporary liberal. The problem is not guns, but guns in criminal hands. Ted Kennedy's car killed more people than my gun. The solution, or part of it, is guns in law-abiding hands.
Would an armed citizen in the vicinity of the Virginia Polytechnic shooter have been able to reduce his carnage? It is likely. Don't ask me how likely. Of course, there is the chance that an armed citizen in the confusion of the moment would have made things worse. Who knows?
But if you value liberty then you will be willing to take the risk. As I understand it, the Commonwealth of Virginia already has a concealed carry law. Now if you trust a citizen to carry a concelaed weapon off campus, why not trust him to carry it on campus? After all, on campus there is far less likelihood of a situation arising where the weapon would be needed. Conservatives place a high value on self-reliance, individual liberty, and individual responsibility. Valuing self-reliance and liberty, a conservative will oppose any attempt to limit his self-reliance by infringing his right to defend himself, a right from which one may infer the right to own a handgun. (As I argue elsewhere; see the category Alcohol,Tobacco and Firearms.) And appreciating as he does the reality and importance of individual responsibility, he will oppose liberal efforts to blame guns for the crimes committed by people using guns.
Nothing I have written will convince a committed liberal. As I have argued elsewhere, Left-Right differences are rooted in value-differences that cannot be rationally adjudicated. But my intention is not to try to enlighten the terminally benighted; my intention is to clarify the issue.
Persuasion and agreement are well-nigh impossible to attain; clarification, however, is a goal well within reach. We must be clear about what we believe and why we believe it and how it differs from the beliefs of the benighted. And in the light of that clarity we must carry the fight to our enemies.
"Following a complaint filed by the ACLU, school officials in Cranston, R.I. have ended gender specific activities like father-daughter dances and mother-son ballgames to comply with state gender discrimination laws." Story here.
I've often wondered about the etymology of 'shyster.' From German scheissen, to shit? That would fit well with the old joke, "What is the difference between a lawyer and a bucket of shit?' "The bucket." I am also put in mind of scheusslich: hideous, atrocious, abominable. Turning to the 'shyster' entry in my Webster's, I read, "prob. fr. Scheuster fl. 1840 Am. attorney frequently rebuked in a New York court for pettifoggery."
According to Robert Hendrickson, Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, p. 659:
Shyster, an American slang term for a shady disreputable lawyer, is first recorded in 1846. Various authorities list a real New York advocate as a possible source, but this theory has been disproved by Professor Gerald L. Cohen of the University of Missouri-Rolla, whose long paper on the etymology I had the pleasure of reading. Shakespeare's moneylender Shylock has also been suggested, as has a racetrack form of the word shy, i.e., to be shy money when betting. Some authorities trace shyster to the German Scheisse, "excrement," possibly through the word shicir, "a worthless person," but there is no absolute proof for any theory.
A little further research reveals that Professor Cohen's "long paper" is in fact a short book of 124 pages published in 1982 by Verlag Peter Lang. See here for a review. Cohen argues that the eponymous derivation from 'Scheuster' that I just cited from Webster's is a pseudo-etymology. 'Shyster' no more derives from 'Scheuster' than 'condom' from the fictious Dr. Condom. Nor does it come from 'Shylock.' It turns out my hunch was right. 'Shyster' is from the German Scheisser, one who defecates.
There is no need to play the 'numbers game.' The photo ID requirement is a matter of principle.
Anyone with common sense ought to be able to appreciate that voting must be conducted in an orderly manner, a manner to inspire confidence in the citizenry, and that only citizens who have registered to vote and have satisfied the minimal requirements of age, etc., are to be allowed into the voting booth. Given the possibility of fraud, it is therefore necessary to verify the identities of those who present themselves at the polling place. To do this, voters must be required to present a government-issued photo ID card, a driver's license being only one example of such. It is a reasonable requirement and any reasonable person should be able to see it as one.
First, a voter restriction is like a poll tax when its authors use voting fraud as a pretext for legislation that has little to do with voting fraud.
Second, it is like a poll tax when it creates only a small nuisance to some voters, but for other groups it erects serious barriers to the ballot.
Third, it is like a poll tax when it has crude partisan advantage as its most immediate aim.
1. Presumably the issue concerns the requirement that voters produce government-issued photo ID at polling places. Voting fraud is obviously not a 'pretext' for such a requirement but a good reason to put such a requirement in place. The claim that photo ID legislation has little to do with voting fraud is ludicrous. The whole point of it is to prevent fraud.
2. It is just silly to claim that phtoto ID "erects a serious barrier to the ballot." If you don't have a driver's license, you can easily acquire photo ID from a DMV office for a nominal sum. You are going to need it anyway for all sorts of other purposes such as cashing checks. In the state of Arizona, the ID is free for those 65 and older and for those on Social Security disability. For others the fee is nominal: $12 for an ID valid for 12 years.
3. Those who support photo ID are aiming at "crude partisan advantage?" How is that supposed to work? Do non-Democrats get such an advantage when they stop voter fraud? Is the idea that it it par for the course that Dems should cheat, and so, when they are prevented from cheating, their opponents secure a"crude partisan advantage?"
What we have is crude psychological projection. Unable to own up to their own unsavory win-at-all-costs motivations, liberals impute to conservatives unsavory motives. "You want to disenfranchise blaxcks and Hispanics!" As if these minorities are so bereft of life skills that they lack, or cannot acquire, a simple photo ID. Note also the trademark liberal misuse of language.
To disenfranchise is to deprive of a right, in particular, the right to vote. But only some people have the right to vote. Felons and children do not have the right to vote, nor do non-citizens. You do not have the right to vote in a certain geographical area simply because you are a sentient being residing in that area. Otrherwise, my cats would have the right to vote. Now a requirement that one prove that one has the right to vote is not to be confused with a denial of the right to vote.
My right to vote is one thing, my ability to prove I have the right another. If I cannot prove that I am who I claim to be on a given occasion, then I won't be able to exercise my right to vote on that occasion; but that is not to say that I have been 'disefranchised.' For I haven't be deprived of my right to vote; I have merely been prevented from exercising my right due to my inability do prove my identity.
I am still looking for a decent argument against photo ID.
I have honestly never eaten a Chick-Fil-A sandwich. So tomorrow I am going to try one. This is in keeping with my maxim, 'No day without political incorrectness.' Each day you must engage in one or more politically incorrect acts. Some suggestions:
Smoke a cigar
Use standard English
Practice with a firearm
Read the Bible
Enunciate uncomfortable truths inconsistent with the liberal Weltanschauung
Read Maverick Philosopher
Think for yourself
Give your baby baby formula
Read the Constitution
Cancel your subscription to The New York Times
Find more examples of politically incorrect things to do
In March, the Justice Department denied the Lone Star State the necessary clearance for this new law, arguing that it would disproportionately affect Hispanic voters. Texas officials appealed. To preserve the access of all citizens to the right to vote . . . the District Court should follow the Justice Department’s lead and strike down this highly suspect and unnecessary law.
What is interesting here is the role disproportionality plays in these leftist attempts at argument. Let's see if we can uncover the 'logic' of these arguments.
Suppose people of Italian extraction are disproportionately affected by anti-racketeering statutes. Would this be a good reason to oppose such laws? Obviously not. Why not? The reason is that the law targets the criminal behavior, not the ethnicity of the criminal. If it just so happens that people of Italian extraction are 'overrepresented' in the memberships of organized crime syndicates, then of course they will be 'disproportionately affected' by anti-racketeering laws. So what?
It is very easy to multiply examples. Who commits more rapes, men or women? You know the answer. Among men, in which age group will we find more rapists? Will there be more rapists in the 15-45 age group or in the 45-75 age group? You know the answer. Laws against rape will therefore disproportinately affect males aged 15-45. Would this be a good reason to oppose such laws? Obviously not. Why not? The reason is that the law targets the criminal behavior, not the age or sex of the criminal.
Suppose that drunk drivers are predominantly Irish. (Just suppose; I'm not saying it is true.) Then laws against drunk driving would disproportionatey affect them. Of course. But that would be no reason to oppose such laws. Is a law just only if it affects all groups equally or proportionately? Of course not.
Who is more likely to be a terrorist, a twenty-something male Egyptian Muslim or a sixty-something Mormon matron? Do you hesitate over this question? The answer is clear, and you know what it is. Are anti-terrorism laws therefore to be opposed on the ground that they disproportionately affect young Muslim males from middle eastern countries?
Should there be a quota system when it comes to rounding up terrorists? "You can apprehend only as many Muslim terrorists as Buddhist terrorists."
Suppose child molesters are 'overrepresented' among Catholic priests. Then laws against such molestation will disproportionarely affect them. But so what? It would be morally absurd to argue that such laws 'discriminate' against Catholic priests and should be struck down on the ground that Catholic priests are disproportionately inclined to engage in child molestation.
Now we know that illegal aliens in Southwest states such as Texas are predominantly, indeed overwhelmingly, of Hispanic extraction. So such aliens would be disproportionately affected by photo ID requirements. But this is surely no argument against photo ID. After all, they are not citizens and have no right to vote in the first place.
Now consider the Hispanic citizens of Texas. They have the right to vote. And no decent person wants either to prevent them from exercising their right or to make it more difficult for them to vote than for other groups to vote. Why would they be 'disproportionately affected' by a photo ID requirement?
Is it because Hispanics are less likely to have ID than members of other groups? Or less likely to have the minimal skills necessary to acquire such ID? It does, after all, take a tiny bit of effort. You have to get yourself down to the DMV and fork over a nominal sum.
I myself do not believe that Hispanics as a group are so bereft of life skills that they are incapable of acquiring photo ID. But that apparently is what Dems believe when they think that a perfectly reasonable requirement would 'disproportinately affect' them. What an insult to Hispanics!
So I ask once again: is there even one decent reason to oppose photo ID?
I was shocked (shocked!) to hear over breakfast a while back that my friend Peter L. will vote for neither Obama nor Romney. All my posts about how politics is a practical business, how it's always about the lesser of evils,and about how foolish it is to let the best become the enemy of the good have fallen on deaf ears. But I won't give up on old Peter: he's worth saving from the remnant of his liberal folly.
When you vote for a president, you are not voting for just that one person. You are voting for his entourage as well. And for Obama that entourage is a sorry lot including as it does Eric Holder who became Attorney General. Remember the outrageous suit his Justice Department brought against Arizona re: S. B. 1070? (See my Arizona category for 1070 posts.) Now the issues raised by S. B. 1070 are complex. But the issue raised by photo ID laws is not. It's a very simple issue and there ought not be any dispute about it whatsoever. And yet our esteemed Atty Gen'l is going after states with photo ID laws making irresponsible accusations of 'disenfranchisement' and comparing the requirements to poll taxes.
Anyone with common sense ought to be able to appreciate that voting must be conducted in an orderly manner, a manner to inspire confidence in the citizenry, and that only citizens who have registered to vote and have satisfied the minimal requirements of age, etc., are to be allowed into the voting booth. Given the possibility of fraud, it is therefore necessary to verify the identities of those who present themselves at the polling place. To do this, voters must be required to present a government-issued photo ID card, a driver's license being only one example of such. It is a reasonable requirement and any reasonable person should be able to see it as one.
Suppose you don't have a driver's license. How hard is it to get a photo ID? Not very hard. In Arizona it costs only $12 and is available at any DMV office. And it's good for 12 years. That comes to a dollar a year. That's a hell of a deal, especially when you consider all the other things you can do with that nifty photo ID such as open a bank account, cash checks, use credit cards, buy alcohol and tobacco products, apply for store credit, secure a library card, etc. You can now start doing all the things that normal citizens do. Ain't that grand? You can stop being a nonentity. Remember what your Uncle Quine taught you, "No entity without identity." If you tell me you don't do any of those things, and don't have any desire to do them, then why are you so interested in voting? You don't have a bank account, or cash checks, etc., but you have a burning desire to vote?
If you are 65 or older or a recipient of Social Security disability benefits you can get the ID for free. So what's your excuse for not securing a photo ID? If you are that lazy, how informed will you be about the issues on which you have such a burning desire to vote?
Liberals feel that the photo ID requirement will 'disenfranchise' many blacks and other minorities. This shows that we conservatives have a higher view of you minorities than do your 'keepers,' the Dems.
Some people want to play the 'numbers game.' They claim that there have only been a few cases of voter fraud. If you think that, then I refer you to the work of John Fund and Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia. And please note that the number of convictions in courts of law for voter fraud is bound to be much much lower than the actual cases of voter fraud. And if there are. contrary to fact, very few cases of voter fraud, then, by the same token, there are very few people who lack photo ID.
But there is no need to play the numbers game at all. It's matter of principle. Will we have a election system that is credible and worthy of respect or not?
Those who oppose photo ID have no good reasons, but they have plenty of motives, and I fear that they are of the unsavory kind.
Is there anything to celebrate this Fourth of July? Not much. Maybe there will be cause for celebration in November. But I'm not sanguine about that either. Our founding documents have become merely ornamental. They are interpreted to mean whatever those in power want them to mean.
The Commerce Clause is to be found in Section 8, Article I, of the U. S. Constitution. It reads," The Congress shall have Power to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, the several States, and with the Indian Tribes."
Congress, then, has the constitutionally-based power to regulate interstate commerce. But it seems to this concerned citizen -- who is no constitutional scholar -- that one cannot regulate what does not exist. If there is some interstate commerce taking place between, say, California and Arizona, then congress by the above clause has the power to regulate it. But if no commerce is taking place, then there is nothing to regulate. Now if I choose not to purchase health insurance, then my not buying it is surely not a bit of commerce. So there is nothing to regulate, and my non-buying does not fall under the Commerce Clause even if, by some argumentative stretch, the buying of health insurance involves interstate commerce.
Or do you think something can be regulated into existence? Can my buying of health insurance be regulated into existence? The very notion is incoherent.
Ah, but "The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes . . . ." (Section 8) and so all we have to do is call the Obamacare individual mandate a tax, and we get what we want. After all, the PoMo Prez and his enablers can use words to mean whatever they want depending on what promotes their agenda.
The underlying principle here is the lack of any principle limiting governmental expansion. The essence of the totalitarian Left -- and of course the Left is totalitarian by its very nature -- is the lack of any limiting principle. And so, if the individual mandate cannot be rammed through via specious reasoning from the Commerce Clause, then some other justification must be found, however specious and mendacious it may be. Instead of evaluating for constitutionality a law that is presented for evaluation, one can simply rewrite the law, changing the mandate to a tax.
President Barack Obama hailed the Supreme Court's 5-3 decision Monday that struck down most of Arizona's 2010 immigration law. In a statement released by the White House, however, the president said that he remains "concerned about the practical impact of the remaining provision of the Arizona law that requires local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they even suspect to be here illegally."
All eight voting members of the Supreme Court upheld this provision, which requires that Arizona cops try to determine the immigration status of individuals who have been stopped for reasons not involving immigration.
Please note the difference between what the president is quoted as saying and what Saunders correctly reports the S.B. 1070 provision as requiring. The law requires "that Arizona cops try to determine the immigration status of individuals who have been stopped for reasons not involving immigration." President Obama of course knows this. So Obama lied in his statement when he said that "the Arizona law that requires local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they even suspect to be here illegally."
Here. The funniest is Obama's reference to the construction of the "Intercontinental Railroad" in the 19th century. That would be something, a railroad that crossed oceans. Think of all the pontoons that would be needed to float the tracks on.
The article documents Obama and his gang's unconcern with truth -- as if we needed more evidence of that.
Attorney General Eric Holder dropped charges against the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation. That may explain why he said nothing when the same group put out a dead-or-alive bounty poster on George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin shooting case. Holder's department is suing the state of Arizona for passing a law to enforce the largely unenforced federal immigration law. Holder suggested that the Arizona law was racially inspired even as he admitted that he had never read it. Holder has praised the race-baiting Al Sharpton for his "partnership" and called the country "cowards" for not holding a national conversation on race on his terms. The attorney general has referred to African-Americans as "my people," and he has characterized congressional oversight of his office's failure to rein in the Fast and Furious scandal as racially motivated attacks on himself.
It is well known by now that NRO has cut its ties with John Derbyshire ('Derb') over the latter's publication in another venue of The Talk: Nonblack Version. Both Rich Lowry and Andrew McCarthy have commented on this severing of ties and both sets of comments are unbelievably lame. Here is the substance (or rather 'substance') of McCarthy's response (numerals added):
 We believe in the equal dignity and presumption of equal decency toward every person — no matter what race, no matter what science tells us about comparative intelligence, and no matter what is to be gleaned from crime statistics.  It is important that research be done, that conclusions not be rigged, and that we are at liberty to speak frankly about what it tells us.  But that is not an argument for a priori conclusions about how individual persons ought to be treated in various situations — or for calculating fear or friendship based on race alone.  To hold or teach otherwise is to prescribe the disintegration of a pluralistic society, to undermine the aspiration of e pluribus unum.
Ad . Well, don't we all (including Derb) believe in the equal dignity of human persons regardless of race, creed, national origin, sex, age? Is McCarthy suggesting that Derb rejects this principle? But of course equality of rights is not the same as empirical equality. That people are not empirically equal is a factual claim in two senses of 'factual': it is a non-normative claim, and it is a true claim. That people have equal rights is a normative claim. The non-normative and normative claims are logically independent. One cannot infer empirical equality from normative equality. More importantly, one cannot infer normative inequality from empirical inequality. For example, human infants are pretty much helpless, but this fact does not detract from their equal right to life. Women are on average shorter than men, and less muscular, but these facts do not detract from their status as persons, as rights-possessors. 90 year-olds tend to be more frail than 60 year-olds, but this fact does not entail that a 90 year-old is less of a person, has a lesser normative status, than a 60 year-old.
Ad . Who could disagree with this bromide?
Ad . It is in his third sentence where McCarthy ascends into Cloud Cuckoo Land. Suppose it is a fact that "Blacks are seven times more likely than people of other races to commit murder, and eight times more likely to commit robbery." A fact is a fact. There are no false facts, and there are no racist facts. There are racial facts (facts about race), but a racial fact is not a racist fact. Now suppose I encounter at night, in a bad part of town, an "individual person" in McCarthy's phrase whom I do not know, a person who is young, male, black, and dressed gangsta-style. His dark glasses prevent me from seeing his eyes and judging his sobriety. His deep pockets might conceal a pistol. Would I be justified in using statistical common sense and avoiding said individual? Of course. The guy might be harmless, but I do not know that. I do know that he fits the profile of an individual who could cause me some serious trouble. Common sense dictates that I give him a wide berth just as I would with a drunken Hells (no apostrophe) Angel exiting a strip joint. There are no black Hells Angels, by the way.
Does that mean that I don't consider the black man or the biker to have rights equal to mine? No. It means that I understand that we are not mere rights-possessors or Kantian noumenal agents, but also possessors of animal bodies and socially formed (and mal-formed) psyches and that these latter facts induce empirical inequalities of various sorts.
Am I drawing an a priori conclusion when I avoid the black guy? Of course not. My reasoning is a posteriori and inductive. I am reasoning from certain perceived facts: race (not skin color!), behavior, dress, location, time of day, etc. to a conclusion that is rendered probable (not certain) by these facts. And note that in a situation like this one does not consider "race alone" in McCarthy's phrase. If I considered "race alone" then there would be no difference between the dude I have just described and Condoleeza Rice.
Is my inductive reasoning and consequent avoidance behavior morally censurable? Of course not. After all, I have a moral duty to attend to my own welfare. (See Kant on duties to oneself.) If anything, my reasoning and behavior are morally obligatory. And I am quite sure that Andrew McCarthy would reason and behave in the same way in the same circumstances.
Ad . What McCarthy is saying here is nonsense and beneath commentary. But I will point out the tension between calling for a "pluralistic society" while invoking the phrase e pluribus unum, "out of many, one." One wonders how long before McCarthy cries for more "diversity."
The Pee Cee conservative is an interesting breed of cat. We shall have to study him more carefully.
This is one of the points made by Mona Charen in her excellent column, If Obama Had a Son:
We are now engaged in another fruitless shouting match about whether young black men are being hunted on the streets of America and whether "stand your ground" laws are dangerous. But as the estimable Ann Coulter has pointed out, Florida's "stand your ground" law was irrelevant to the Martin case. Whichever version of events that night you believe: A) that Zimmerman followed and shot Martin in cold blood; or B) that Zimmerman shot Martin in the midst of a fight; the law, which does not require a person who fears for his life to retreat before using deadly force, is not implicated.
It establishes that law-abiding residents and visitors may legally presume the threat of bodily harm or death from anyone who breaks into a residence or occupied vehicle and may use defensive force, including deadly force, against the intruder.
In any other place where a person “has a right to be,” that person has “no duty to retreat” if attacked and may “meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”
In either case, a person using any force permitted by the law is immune from criminal prosecution or civil action and cannot be arrested unless a law enforcement agency determines there is probable cause that the force used was unlawful.
If a civil action is brought and the court finds the defendant to be immune based on the parameters of the law, the defendant will be awarded all costs of defense.
On scenario (A), the law does not apply because Zimmerman on that scenario is not defending himself. On scenario (B), the law does not apply because Zimmerman is not able to retreat. (Charen does not make this clear, but this was basically Coulter's point.) If someone is on top of you pounding you then you don't have the option to either retreat or not retreat.
But of course much depends on what exactly happened. In any case, the law is eminently reasonable whether or not it applies to the Trayvon Martin case.
And note the law is not a gun law despite what lying liberals will tell you. You can stand your ground with your fists, a baseball bat, a knife, a can of Easy-Off oven cleaner . . . .
Divorce. Dinosaurs, Birthdays. Religion. Halloween. Christmas. Television. These are a few of the 50-plus words and references the New York City Department of Education is hoping to ban from the city’s standardized tests.
My astute readers do not need to have it explained to them what is wrong with this. But it is one more example of the triumph of feelings-based Unsinn over thought and sense on the Left and another reason why you should never vote for a Democrat.
Of course, there are a few Dems who are not completely unhinged . But unless you know who they are, it is best to be on the safe side and vote for Republicans and Libertarians.
Robert Samuelson comments on Charles Murray's Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 and finds some grounds for a measure of optimism. Conclusion:
America's distinctive beliefs and values are fading, says Murray. Maybe. But our history is that the bedrock values -- the belief in freedom, faith in the individual, self-reliance, a moralism rooted in religion -- endure against all odds. They've survived depressions, waves of immigration, wars and political scandals.
There is such a thing as the American character and, though not immutable, it is durable. In 2011, only 36 percent of Americans believed that "success in life is determined by outside forces," reports the Pew Global Attitudes survey. In France and Germany, the responses were 57 and 72 percent, respectively. America is different, even exceptional, and it is likely to stay that way.
If state-run lotteries are a bad idea, as I have argued, then state-run casinos are even worse. But they are starting to pop up. Moral rot is at the root of all other rot. Overextended abroad, collapsing within, how long can we last? Bread and circuses are the people's pablum supplied by a government whose power and reach are its main concerns, not the common weal.
Philosophers hate a contradiction, but love a paradox. There are paradoxes everywhere, in the precincts of the most abstruse as well as in the precincts of the prosaic. Here are eight paradoxes of illegal immigration suggested to me by Victor Davis Hanson. The titles and formulations are my own. For good measure, I add a ninth, of my own invention.
The Paradox of Profiling. Racial profiling is supposed to be verboten. And yet it is employed by American border guards when they nab and deport thousands of illegal border crossers. Otherwise, how could they pick out illegals from citizens who are merely in the vicinity of the border? How can what is permissible near the border be impermissible far from it in, say, Phoenix? At what distance does permissibility transmogrify into impermissibility? If a border patrolman may profile why may not a highway patrolman? Is legal permissibility within a state indexed to spatiotemporal position and variable with variations in the latter?
The Paradox of Encroachment. The Federal government sues the state of Arizona for upholding Federal immigration law on the ground that it is an encroachment upon Federal jurisdiction. But sanctuary cities flout Federal law by not allowing the enforcement of Federal immigration statutes. Clearly, impeding the enforcement of Federal laws is far worse than duplicating and perhaps interfering with Federal law enforcement efforts. And yet the Feds go after Arizona while ignoring sanctuary cities. Paradoxical, eh?
The Paradox of Blaming the Benefactor. Millions flee Mexico for the U.S. because of the desirability of living and working here and the undesirability of living in a crime-ridden, corrupt, and impoverished country. So what does Mexican president Felipe Calderon do? Why, he criticizes the U.S. even though the U.S. provides to his citizens what he and his government cannot! And what do many Mexicans do? They wave the Mexican flag in a country whose laws they violate and from whose toleration they benefit.
The Paradox of Differential Sovereignty and Variable Border Violability. Apparently, some states are more sovereign than others. The U.S., for some reason, is less sovereign than Mexico, which is highly intolerant of invaders from Central America. Paradoxically, the violability of a border is a function of the countries between which the border falls.
The Paradox of Los Locos Gringos. The gringos are crazy, and racist xenophobes to boot, inasmuch as 70% of them demand border security and support AZ SB 1070. Why then do so many Mexicans want to live among the crazy gringos?
The Paradox of Supporting While Stiffing the Working Stiff. Liberals have traditionally been for the working man. But by being soft on illegal immigration they help drive down the hourly wages of the working poor north of the Rio Grande. (As I have said in other posts, there are liberal arguments against illegal immigration, and here are the makings of one.)
The Paradox of Penalizing the Legal while Tolerating the Illegal. Legal immigrants face hurdles and long waits while illegals are tolerated. But liberals are supposed to be big on fairness. How fair is this?
The Paradox of Subsidizing a Country Whose Citizens Violate our Laws. "America extends housing, food and education subsidies to illegal aliens in need. But Mexico receives more than $20 billion in American remittances a year -- its second-highest source of foreign exchange, and almost all of it from its own nationals living in the United States." So the U.S. takes care of illegal aliens from a failed state while subsidizing that state, making it more dependent, and less likely to clean up its act.
The Paradox of the Reconquista. Some Hispanics claim that the Southwest and California were 'stolen' from Mexico by the gringos. Well, suppose that this vast chunk of real estate had not been 'stolen' and now belonged to Mexico. Then it would be as screwed up as the rest of Mexico: as economically indigent, as politically corrupt, as crime-ridden, as drug-infested. Illegal immigrants from southern Mexico would then, in that counterfactual scenario, have farther to travel to get to the U.S., and there would be less of the U.S. for their use and enjoyment. The U.S. would be able to take in fewer of them. They would be worse off. So if Mexico were to re-conquer the lands 'stolen' from it, then it would make itself worse off than it is now. Gaining territory it would lose ground -- if I may put paradoxically the Paradox of the Reconquista.
As with religion, it is presided over by a caste of spectacularly unattractive people [you mean, like, Al Gore?] pretending to an obscure form of knowledge that promises to make the seas retreat and the winds abate. As with religion, it comes with an elaborate list of virtues, vices and indulgences. As with religion, its claims are often non-falsifiable, hence the convenience of the term "climate change" when thermometers don't oblige the expected trend lines. As with religion, it is harsh toward skeptics, heretics and other "deniers." And as with religion, it is susceptible to the earthly temptations of money, power, politics, arrogance and deceit.
The terminological shift is what really kicked my skepticism into high gear. Global climate change is a genus of which global warming is but a species, global cooling being another species. And of course none of this much matters practically speaking if it is not anthropogenic. Are we now being asked to believe that burning fossil fuels causes climate change whether or not the change is a warming? That would be curious: contrary effects having the same cause.
The guy is amazing. Here is his latest. He comments on Paterno, Cain, Wall Street, and illegal immigration. Excerpt:
Those accused of racism for wishing immigration law enforced can make the argument that they are racially blind and wish it applied without regard to specific individuals; those accusing others of racism wish to render immigration law null and void, only because of the shared race or ethnic background of those who break it.
The frightening thing about illegal immigration is that it is racially/ethnically driven; its advocates have little concern about extending their principles to others, and, in that sense, it is a sort of selfishness, designed to enhance one’s own political constituency within the United States while eroding the law, as if to say, “U.S. law must not apply to my ethnic group but should be enforced in all other cases.”
I found the following in the archives of my first weblog. The hyperlink has long been dead. The author is Nicholas Antongiavanni. Curiously timely in light of the antics of the 'Occupy Wall Street' crowd. This may be only an excerpt. I cannot find the original document.
1. No ill is so trivial that it can be borne, even for a day; no grievance is so slight that its redress can wait, even for an hour.
2. Until the world is made perfect and justice reigns supreme, getting on with life or transacting any public business is immoral and selfish.
3. Therefore all means (up to and including violence) are justified--nay, obligatory--in stopping the movement of ordinary life until such time as all grievances are redressed.
4. One's moral worth is determined far more by one's social and political opinions than by one's actions or behavior toward others.
5. With one exception: The most noble, moral, and courageous thing one can ever do is participate in (or, better yet, organize) a protest.
6. Therefore, whatever a protest is ostensibly about, it is fundamentally about itself.
7. There are no such things as chance or fortune or bad luck or inherent, irreducible flaws or problems. If something--anything, anywhere--is wrong, unfair, unequal, tragic, inconvenient, annoying, vexatious, or merely perceived to be such, it is not only someone's fault, that someone is profiting unjustly at the expense of someone else. Which is to say, Lenin's "Who/Whom" question--"who" is sticking it to "whom"?--is fundamentally true regarding all human interaction.
7a. All peoples and individuals may therefore be categorized as either oppressors or oppressed.
7b. The oppressed as a whole are a coalition of various oppressed groups. Whatever their apparent differences, they share the same fundamental interests by dint of their all being oppressed.
7c. Whatever the oppressors say about standards of justice or morality is a priori wrong, since it must be presumed to be sophistry concocted for their selfish benefit. The most clever--and most pernicious--of these sophistries is the notion of natural right, i.e., that there is a permanent standard of justice not determined by human choice or opinion. But in truth every professed standard of natural right is a tool of those oppressors who devise and promote it. The only reliable information about justice comes from the oppressed, because they alone are public spirited and pure of heart. Also, because the oppressed alone suffer whereas the oppressed only cause suffering, the oppressed alone can judge what suffering is and how it affects the human soul. Since there is no permanent standard of justice, the response or reaction of the individual soul to any action or actions is the only dispositive factor in determining the justice or injustice of any action. Therefore, justice and injustice are whatever the oppressed say they are.
Fidel Castro came to power in 1959. In his socialist worker's paradise home ownership was legally forbidden until just now. Suppose you were 30 in '59, at the age when many are in a position to buy a house for the first time. Well, now you are 82 with a year to live. You can buy a house to die in.
Ain't socialism grand? That's why leftists want it here, there, and everywhere.
Private property is the foundation of individual liberty. This being Friday afternoon, I reckon I'll fix me a Cuba Libre and hoist my glass to liberty.
So they are in favor of open borders, presumably so that exotic Third World peasants can perform the labor to which they are noticeably averse. Of the 13 items on that “proposed list of demands,” Demand Four calls for “free college education,” and Demand Eleven returns to the theme, demanding debt forgiveness for all existing student loans. I yield to no one in my general antipathy to the racket that is American college education, but it’s difficult to see why this is the fault of the mustache-twirling robber barons who head up Global MegaCorp, Inc. One sympathizes, of course. It can’t be easy finding yourself saddled with a six-figure debt and nothing to show for it but some watery bromides from the “Transgender and Colonialism” class. Americans collectively have north of a trillion dollars in personal college debt. Say what you like about Enron and, er, Solyndra and all those other evil corporations, but they didn’t relieve you of a quarter-mil in exchange for a master’s in Maya Angelou. So why not try occupying the dean’s office at Shakedown U?
[Texas Governor Rick] Perry’s identification as a strong supporter of “a culture of life” and what he called the “ultimate justice” of capital punishment, however, raises some potentially thorny questions about the meaning of being “pro-life.” In campaign season, the question is whether American voters, especially voters who identify as “pro-life,” are going to raise concerns about why Perry’s position doesn’t represent what some Catholic theologians call “a consistent ethic of life,” opposition to both legalized abortion and capital punishment.
The above-mentioned Catholic theologians are most likely just confused. There is no defensible sense in which it is 'inconsistent' to be both pro-life and pro-death penalty. I prove this here.
SIEGEL: Some people read into the Tea Party's almost neuralgic reaction to government spending, a sense that white people figure black people benefit disproportionately from federal programs. Do you suspect a racial subtext to that whole argument?
BOND: Absolutely. And I'm not saying that all of the Tea Party members are racist. Not at all. I don't think anybody says that. But I think there's an element of racial animus there and the feeling that some white people have that these black people are now getting something that I'm not getting and I should be getting it, too.
Yet another reason to defund NPR. Neuralgic reaction to government spending? How obtuse can an obtuse liberal be? Companion posts:
Commentary by Theodore Dalrymple. You may have noticed that liberals have a exasperatingly lenient and casual attitude toward criminal behavior:
A single example will suffice, but one among many. A woman got into an argument with someone in a supermarket. She called her boyfriend, a violent habitual criminal, "to come and sort him out." The boyfriend was already on bail on another charge and wore an electronic tag because of another conviction. [. . .] The boyfriend arrived in the supermarket and struck a man a heavy blow to the head. He fell to the ground and died of his head injury. When told that he had got the "wrong" man, the assailant said he would have attacked the "right" one had he not been restrained. He was sentenced to serve not more than 30 months in prison. Since punishments must be in proportion to the seriousness of the crime, a sentence like this exerts tremendous downward pressure on sentences for lesser, but still serious, crimes.
So several things need to be done, among them the reform and even dismantlement of the educational and social-security systems, the liberalization of the labor laws, and the much firmer repression of crime.
The sentence I bolded is very important. This is why a ban on the death penalty is very foolish besides being morally obtuse. But there is no common sense on the Left, so much so that contemporary liberalism is arguably more of a mental aberration than a cogent position on social and political questions.
Standard and Poor's downgrading of the credit worthiness of the U. S. government from AAA to AA+ should come as no surprise to anyone. We all knew that current levels of debt are unsustainable. So what do Obama and Geithner and their shills in the liberal media do? They blame the messenger for the ill tidings he delivers.
They do the same with the Tea Partiers. The central concern of the Tea Partiers is fiscal responsibility: "There is one common thread that is uniting the one million plus people who protested on April 15th, 2009 at over 850 Tea Parties across this great country. That common thread is that we all want fiscal responsibility with our tax dollars."
So what does the Left do? Instead of facing reality, it launches scurrilous attacks on the messengers. They are racists, terrorists, hostage-takers, astro-turfers.
Despite S&P's opinion, there is no chance that America will default on its debts. The real importance of the downgrade will depend on the political reaction it inspires.
If the response is denial and blaming the credit raters, then the U.S. will continue on its current road to more downgrades and eventually to Greece. What has already become a half-decade of lost growth will turn into a lost decade or more.
If the response is to escape the debt trap by the stealth route of inflation—a path now advocated by many of the same economists who promoted the failed spending stimulus of 2009—then the U.S. could spur a dollar crisis and jeopardize its reserve currency status.
The better answer—the only road back to fiscal sanity and AAA status—is to reverse the economic policies of the late Bush and Obama years. The financial crisis followed by the Keynesian and statist revival of the last four years have brought the U.S. to this downgrade and will lead to inevitable decline. The only solution is to return to the classical, pro-growth economic ideas that have revived America at other moments of crisis.