Black Shards Press – Electronic Gumbo is Our Specialty

Guns and Grief

28.06.2008 (12:45 am) – Filed under: Abortion,Death Penalty,Gun Control,Liberalism ::

The thick, bittersweet irony of the Supreme Court’s ruling that struck down Washington D.C.’s ban on "live" guns is that is has the left-wing, anti-gun gang completely up in arms.  Robert Stein calls the mind set behind the decision "our national schizophrenia", then proceeds to demonstrate how utterly clueless an obviously intelligent man can be once liberal dogma seizes the reigns of his mind.

What’s got Mr. Stein so confused is that he can’t reconcile polls that reveal that a majority of Americans support the right to own guns with statistics indicating that only 1/3 of Americans actually own a gun. 

There’s no inherent contradiction in these data points.  On the contrary, this result is exactly what I would expect – a majority of people who acknowledge the fundamental right of self-defense and a fair number of those who choose not to avail themselves of that right based on their individual situations.

The "disconnection" Stein sees is a figment of his imagination, a product, perhaps, of looking for a problem where none exists in response to a personal distaste for weapons and their use, even in the cause of good.

Stein’s ideological position bleeds through quite clearly in this statement:

How do we reconcile the apparent contradiction that many of those who believe in preserving the life of fetuses are just as passionate about the right to own weapons that kill human beings after birth?

Once again there is no contradiction in these positions.  What Mr. Stein fails to recognize is that the right to own a gun is not the right to kill one’s fellow man outright.  Instead it simply provides a means to do so as a last resort when confronted with the necessity of defending one’s life and property against a criminal attack. 

By contrast, a baby killed in an abortion is terminated by the parents’ disregard for the value of his or her life.  The baby has no voice, no choice, and no ability whatever to act in self-preservation.  Abortion is the direct, brute-force ending of a human life in its most vulnerable, most innocent state.  Viler acts can be committed; however, none are more absolute in terms of the disparity of power between killer and victim.

In fact, the real disconnect here is that leftist thinkers like Mr. Stein espouse abortion as a method of birth control while refusing to accept the fact that a criminal killed during the commission of a felony – say invading a family’s home under cover of darkness – quite literally chooses his fate by disregarding both the law and others’ rights to life and property. 

Similarly, liberals who oppose the death penalty refuse to accept the logical conclusion that murderers and child rapists choose and accept their ultimate punishment by committing their heinous crimes with full knowledge of the consequences.

If there is a national schizophrenia it is this:  the fundamental self-deception that lies at the core of liberalism’s measure of life and its value.

 

(NOTE:  Although I’ve directing some of my remarks at Robert in response to his article, his beliefs are in many ways representative of the anti-gun, anti-death penalty, pro-abortion American left.  This not a personal attack on Mr. Stein; rather, it is directed at all who espouse these values, ones that I consider highly illogical, misguided, and unworthy.)

Another, Better SCOTUS Decision

27.06.2008 (6:54 am) – Filed under: Gun Control,Law ::

The Supreme Court, by a narrow 5-4 margin, has decided that the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution means what it says.

In a 5-to-4 decision, the majority opinion, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, held for the first time that the Constitution provides an individual right to bear arms, such as for self-defense, rather than a right that applies only to a state militia.

Seems blindingly obvious, yet to liberals the sentence "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." has a different meaning, one that would, as is to be expected from them, bring gun ownership even more under the regulatory authority of the government.

Even when the left gets something right they get it wrong, as Colbert King does in the WaPo.  King admits the truth by saying that it’s criminals who use guns the wrong way and they don’t give a damn about the law – shocker!  Even so he tries to worm around to an anti-gun stance:

There’s one group of District residents absolutely unfazed by today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling shooting down the District’s strict handgun ban: the dudes who have been blowing away their fellow citizens with abandon since the law was put on the books 32 years ago.

Operating under the notion that it’s better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission, our shooters long ago decided not to wait for the high court’s thoughts on the matter. They simply arrogated to themselves the right to keep and bear arms and, with that right, license to shoot and kill, with impunity, whatever and whenever the evil spirits moved them.

So now it has come to pass that D.C. residents can keep handguns, as well as rifles and shotguns, in their homes. A well armed, informal militia we shall be — ready to fire back in self-defense at the shooters who believed they had the right to their guns all along.

Flush with victory, a giddy National Rifle Association has announced its intention to file lawsuits in other jurisdictions with tough handgun laws. For starters, the NRA has taken aim at San Francisco and Chicago. See what we have unleashed, D.C.?

America, more body bags, please.

It’s undeniable that guns cause far too many accidental shootings in this country.  Most of these are, of course, preventable, although doing so would place a burden of expense and management on gun owners that these individuals haven’t been willing to accept.  A trigger-lock rule ought to be in place in every home, certainly, though at citizens’ own discretion.

The NY Times editors disagrees, naturally:

Thirty-thousand Americans are killed by guns every year — on the job, walking to school, at the shopping mall. The Supreme Court on Thursday all but ensured that even more Americans will die senselessly with its wrongheaded and dangerous ruling striking down key parts of the District of Columbia’s gun-control law.

This is a decision that will cost innocent lives, cause immeasurable pain and suffering and turn America into a more dangerous country. It will also diminish our standing in the world, sending yet another message that the United States values gun rights over human life.

Unfortunately for their argument, the Times’ statistics don’t separate victims of crime from accidental shootings.  The Times goes on to list incidents of gun violence to support its maniacal hatred of guns and the people who own them, blithely ignoring the fact that it’s criminals who commit these acts, the same ones the King acknowledges have no respect for gun-control laws.

But Scalia and the majority are in the right by saying that Americans’ right to choose to own a weapon or not, at their individual discretion, trumps the desire of government to mandate the disarming of the civilian population.

What Megan McCardle has to say about women and guns transcends the woman’s issue she portrays it as and defines the true nature of our right to bear arms against enemies, foreign and domestic:

…guns are the only weapon that equalizes strength between attacker and attacked.  It’s the only time when men’s greater speed, strength, and longer reach make no difference; if you pull the trigger first, you win.

I am all for strengthening the social contract (and law enforcement) so that fewer men commit rape, assault, or robbery. But until human nature has improved so radically that grievous bodily harm has passed from living memory, I don’t understand why more feminists don’t push for widespread gun ownership.

That applies to the rest of us as well, obviously.

5 Blind Mice, See How They Vote

25.06.2008 (7:39 pm) – Filed under: Death Penalty,Justice,Law ::

The Supreme Court botched another important case today by disallowing the Louisiana law that allowed the death penalty to be administered to child rapists.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority, said there was “a distinction between intentional first-degree murder on the one hand and non-homicide crimes against individual persons,” even such “devastating” crimes as the rape of a child, on the other.

Justice Kennedy said Wednesday that while the court’s death penalty jurisprudence “remains sound,” it should not be expanded to cover a crime for which no one has been executed in the United States for the past 44 years.

Given the polarization of the court on death penalty issues it’s right that Kennedy author the opinion:  effectively he is the Supreme Court on this and other divisive issues.  Sadly he wasn’t up to the task of doing justice in this case.

Andy McCarthy responds to Kennedy’s twisted mess of logic with cutting clarity:

I think it’s silly on its face — read the almost unreadable (because it’s so excruciating) account of the rape and ask yourself whether it is really "disproportionate" to administer lethal-objection execution to a man who committed this type of barbaric a sexual assault on a child.

But let’s give him that one for argument’s sake.  The Eighth Amendment talks about punishment that is cruel.  First, punishment does not become cruel just because it’s disproportionate.  And second, are we really striving here for proportionality?  If a crime is cruel — as it clearly was in this case — wouldn’t a proportionate punishment also have to be cruel, and thus in violation of the Eighth Amendment?

Wouldn’t it be refreshingly honest if activist justices just bluntly us:  "We don’t like the death penalty and we can stop it because there are five of us."  Sure, it would be tyrannical, but at least it would be accurate, and not nearly as nauseating as what passes for reasoning in these cases.

(My emphasis…)

What else is there to say?

Liberals Who Simply Can’t Let Well Enough Alone

24.06.2008 (8:16 pm) – Filed under: National Security,Privacy,Technology,Terrorism ::

Unhappy with the deal reached between the parties about the legal fate of telecom companies who helped the feds in the aftermath of 9/11, two of the looniest of the left are banding together in an attempt to filibuster the bill in the Senate:

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"If the Senate does proceed to this legislation, our immediate response will be to offer an amendment that strips the retroactive immunity provision out of the bill. We hope our colleagues will join us in supporting Americans’ civil liberties by opposing retroactive immunity and rejecting this so-called ‘compromise’ legislation."

Meanwhile, Pamela Helsey points out that telecom companies give more money to Democrats who support immunity than those who don’t. 

Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint gave PAC contributions averaging:

$9,659 to each member of the House voting "YES" (105-Dem, 188-Rep)
$4,810 to each member of the House voting "NO" (128-Dem, 1-Rep)

The question of whether politicians vote according to whose filling their coffers is a fascinating one and well worth asking.  In this case, however, it’s a bore.  The Democrats being targeted for that special progressive-style love more commonly known as liberal hate are now voting in a fashion I deem correct.  What made them change their tunes is not that interesting to me.

Rather than ramble on, let me leave you with 3 thoughts about what is so irritating about this immunity boondoggle:

  1. If Democrats had been in power in September 2001, it’s highly likely that their administration’s actions would not have differed significantly from those of the Bush administration
  2. Whatever the right and wrong of this issue – and they’re in the wrong, make no mistake – Democrats are ignoring the present to nit-pick at the past.
  3. If Democrats have the balls to truly pursue the Constitutional issues behind the government’s use of telecom companies’ data – doubtful – they should be targeting members of the Bush administration rather than private, heavily-regulated corporations.

The Internet->Stupidity Connection

21.06.2008 (8:59 pm) – Filed under: Education,Society,Technology ::

Nick Carr says that the Internet is making us a stupid society incapable of – or unwilling to – focusing on the internalization of large bodies of information.  He blames the web and its many instantaneous answers to questions we have.

“We are not only what we read,” says Maryanne Wolf, a developmental psychologist at Tufts University and the author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. “We are how we read.” Wolf worries that the style of reading promoted by the Net, a style that puts “efficiency” and “immediacy” above all else, may be weakening our capacity for the kind of deep reading that emerged when an earlier technology, the printing press, made long and complex works of prose commonplace. When we read online, she says, we tend to become “mere decoders of information.”

There is a kernel of truth at the core of this argument, one that I can easily identify from my work life.  When Microsoft introduced it’s large, complex .NET programming framework, I, along with many other  software developers adopted it.  But most of us didn’t spend man-months learning its intricacies like previous generations of programmers.  Instead we dove in, learned only what we needed to know, and crawl the Internet looking for answers to specific questions on an as-needed basis.  As a result we understand less about the technology than we should, even as we use it to increase our productivity.

Joe Windish doesn’t see that as a problem:

The old paradigm privileged focus. Memorization was key. I want my machines to do that for me. The new paradigm means I can let my mind wander. It might privilege pattern recognition. How things relate to one another. Or the mix. Or something altogether different and yet to be discovered.

Out of paradigm shifts comes wreckage. And there well may be issues here that I’m not seeing.

There are.  Specifically, the problem of replacing real intellectual prowess with impromptu technological aids becomes demonstrable when the crutch is no longer there to lean upon.

That’s something worth consideration in a world whose rising demographic trend is one in which open inquiry and unrestricted use of technology is anathema.  Wither to then, when access to information is controlled by those who despise it?

Many Chinese understand this problem all too well.  Europeans, I expect, will learn the same lesson the hard way – within my lifetime.

Barack Obama Leads With the Race Card

21.06.2008 (2:41 pm) – Filed under: Politics,Race ::

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He still hasn’t been officially nominated as the Democratic candidate for president yet, but Barack Obama has taken control of the Democratic National Convention, trotted out a cheesy knock-off of the presidential seal, and now, like a Euchre player leading with off-suit ace, he’s played the race card early by stating Republicans will use his race against him.

“We know what kind of campaign they’re going to run. They’re going to try to make you afraid.

“They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?”

“We know the strategy because they’ve already shown their cards.”

Have they really?  Or is this a new example of what David Brooks calls the two Barack Obamas?  I’m inclined toward the latter.  Nothing I’ve seen implicates John McCain or the Republican party in racially oriented politics.

In fact, Mike Huckabee, McCain’s best bet for vice-president, recently wrote that Republicans needed to attack Obama specifically on issues of substance and not engage in personal attacks.

I think what we have here is an example of Fast Eddie Obama trying to pull a sucker-punch off on McCain before the bell rings to start the fight.

“Anyone who opposes me is a racist” is the mantra of the Obama campaign and it’s a line that has already worked wonders against the now-vanquished Hillary Clinton, a candidate far superior to Dr. Barack.  Now it’s McCain’s turn to counter the one charge that no white candidate can refute.

He shouldn’t try to do so.  Huckabee’s suggestion seems to be the right one.  Obama would pull us out of Iraq before the job is done, endangering Iraqi lives and the tenuous progress made there as a result.  He would increase spending at home without balancing the expenditures by implementing the necessary increase in taxes, even as he doubles the capital gains tax, a sure-fire net loss for the government.  He would appoint Supreme Court justices who would further a liberal agenda that’s out of step with the American people.

These are legitimate reasons to vote against – and yes, even fear – an Obama presidency.

Update

Cassandra’s hilarious race card (via Sister Toldjah):

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FISA Immunity

20.06.2008 (1:37 pm) – Filed under: National Security,Privacy,Technology,Terrorism ::

In what must be a blow for folks like Glenn Greenwald, Democrats and Republicans have come to the logical, inevitable conclusion that telecom firms who aided the Bush administration by compromising records of Americans’ telephony activities shall be immune from prosecution if asked to do so by the government.

Dan Froomkin hates the "compromise", which consisted primarily of Democrats finally acknowledging the reality of the immediate post-9/11 world and shutting their yaps.

What kind of a country is it where, when the head of state asks you to do something that may well be illegal, but assures you that he considers it legal, you can’t be held accountable for doing it?

Welcome to the new U.S. of A.

This is a good question and one that needs to be asked again and again.  Another, even better question for Froomkin to ask would be, "What kind of country is it when national security is breached and nothing is done for fear of offending the sensibilities of the opposition?"

As always I support Mr. Froomkin’s right to think and write as he sees fit and I applaud him for doing so.  Yet I must point out that the Constitutional freedoms he relies on when doing so are protected only by the administration whose actions he now, from the safety of his computer and the arms-length effect of time, decries.

This decision is the right one, at the right time. 

Phillip Carter says:

Absent negligent or intentionally wrong behavior by government contractors (in this case, telecommunications companies), we should not haul these companies into court over these programs. Decisions about surveillance are made by the government — not the telecommunications companies. And to a large extent, because they operate in such a regulated field, these companies have very little choice about whether and how to cooperate with government surveillance requests.

Told ya so, Glenn.

That said, it’s time for Congress to consider taking up the bigger issue at hand, namely under what conditions the continuing domestic spying program can be dismantled.  Thanks to the newfound spirit of compromise there is at least a semblance of due process in the offing.  While this will be an improvement, Americans should not simply accept this state of affairs as inevitable or desirable.  In this Froomkin and Greenwald are quite right.

Second-Guessing Witnesses

18.06.2008 (11:23 pm) – Filed under: Child Care,Crime,Society ::

The SF Chronicle says:

The town of Turlock and much of the rest of the nation was shocked when a 27-year-old man beat and stomped his 2-year-old son to death on a rural road. But what was nearly as stunning for many people was that none of the motorists and their passengers who stopped and saw the attack tried to tackle the man.

The story goes on to discuss how average citizens aren’t psychologically prepared to deal with a situation like that, how we’re unsure of ourselves and easily cowed into inaction, etc.  All of these things are true, of course, but at no point does the article venture into more core issues. 

For one, suppose one of the witnesses had attempted to physically intervene on the boy’s behalf.  If the obviously deranged father began to get the better of the Good Samaritan, would anyone else have jumped in to help?  In my mind that’s the most important aspect of the psychological angle – our complete lack of confidence in the willingness of others to do what is right and necessary.

Similarly, no mention is made of adults’ inherent moral obligation to come of the aid of a defenseless child.  Yet this obligation exists, whether our modern society chooses to acknowledge it or not.  Our lack of faith in our fellow man is understandable.  But it’s a little harder to accept our lack of faith in God.  Does He condone inaction in such a case?  No.  Does that not compel us to do what He wants us to do?

Finally, the paper fails to mention the chilling effect of America’s lawsuit-happy legal system on the willingness of these people to physically restrain the killer.  If they’d ganged up on the murderer and beaten him into submission there’s a high likelihood that they would have faced legal action as a result.  No judge or jury in their right mind would convict them, but travesties of the law have happened before.  The mere fact of being named in such a suit brings with it major legal expenses and possible financial penalties, possible loss of employment, etc.  This unfortunate side-effect of our litigious society limits in the extreme, I think, our willingness to act.

Shock and surprise can stop us from doing what’s right.  But fundamental flaws in our legal and moral codes do so even more effectively.

Personally I hope I’m never confronted with such choice.  While I’m relatively strong and athletic for my age – 42 – I wouldn’t be confident facing down a younger, stronger, enraged brute alone.  Praying for moral courage to override physical cowardice might be the only way I could do what was right.  I wonder if anyone did so that night?  That too unknown.

Liberal Fantasy – Nationalizing Big Oil

18.06.2008 (10:51 pm) – Filed under: Energy,Liberalism,Stupidity ::

It shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been tracking the far left that nationalizing the oil industry is their latest brainstorm.  Take a look at this video – it’s amazing to me that they’re so brazen about their desire to steal the investment made by stockholders of these companies.  It’s quite staggering, really, that they can be so bold.  The justification?  Oil should never have been a private commodity in the first place, so nationalization would simply be righting a decades-old wrong.

Evidently this whole private property thing is just fad, not a basic American right.  Well, why not?  Economic powerhouses like Mexico and Norway have done it and look how important they are on the international stage.  We should definitely be following their lead.  </snark>

I particularly enjoyed the bit about what a good thing it would be if Congress was in the business of setting oil prices, as if nationalization could somehow circumvent the cost structure involved in the oil and gas production business.  Yes, the government could set prices below cost.  But they’d just have to borrow more money from taxpayers to subsidize these discounts.

The irony of all this is that the stick that liberals are using against the oil companies – high gas prices – would eventually allow some of their most prized objectives – alternative energy sources, etc. – to come to fruition if they simply shut up and left the energy industry alone to develop reality-based solutions.

But what fun is being liberal if they’re not allowed to subject anyone else to their delusional fantasies?

Welfare Test

17.06.2008 (6:25 am) – Filed under: Drugs,Welfare ::

Tip of the hat to Sheryl for this gem via e-mail:

I have a job. I work, they pay me. I pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit. In order to get that paycheck, I am required to pass a random urine test with which I have no problem.

What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don’t have to pass a urine test. Shouldn’t one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check because I have to pass one to earn it for them?

Personally I’m inclined to give that question serious consideration.  Why shouldn’t there be criteria beyond need to justify public assistance?