Beyond Aurora, Part 2

First of all, before we begin, I’m not a shill for the NRA…

Columbine, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Tucson, Aurora, and other names of places yet to come are both familiar and disturbing.  No one likes to think about what happened or could happen in the future.  This is the reality that we must not only live in, but confront.

I think Carl Cannon (RealClearPolitics.com) stated it best:

After last week’s horrific shootings inside a movie house in suburban Denver, Americans did what they always do in such circumstances: We moved in two different directions at once.

Many people decried the ease with which firearms can be obtained in this country by unbalanced people with no business playing with matches, let alone high-powered rifles. Others went out and bought a gun. And some did both.

These are contradictory impulses, but they both make sense. Many ordinary Americans, unlike our polarized and linear political parties, can hold two competing ideas in their minds at the same time. In the aftermath of the “Dark Knight” killings in Aurora, those two thoughts were as follows:

(1) It is far too easy for mentally unstable individuals to acquire deadly firearms in this country.

(2) The only person known to be packing heat in that multiplex last week was the killer, and, God forbid, if a similar situation ever arises, carrying a loaded gun would at least give me a fighting chance.

It doesn’t matter what your position is on the gun-control issue – individuals and criminals with intent to harm will find a method to arm themselves with any weapon, including illegal firearms.  If you don’t believe me, then why do drug lords have fully automatic weapons which are illegal?  I know they don’t have licensing to have those.

OK, I’ll admit that’s an extreme example…here’s one a bit closer to home…

How about the gang-bangers in the large cities like Los Angelis, Chicago, or that city 30-miles to the south of me, Detroit?  These people have weapons outclassing the typical patrolman, and rivaling the military.

Still too extreme?  Then read this post from 2007 describing my experiences with potentially life threatening experiences.  For those who are interested in the conclusion line, here it is:

In the first case, I was defenseless, a lamb waiting to be slaughtered should my executioner deem it was my time. In the second case, I had a chance if it came to the worst possible scenario.

Our politicians / lawmakers with various activists are now calling for more restrictions on the sales of weapons, ammunition, and anything else they can think of.  I’m sorry to state that while that may slow down the number of gun-related assaults, the rest of the law abiding population doesn’t think that’s a good idea.

Gallup published these polls in October 2011 showing the trend:

Somewhat telling, isn’t it?  The citizenry appears to have more sense than our politicians whose usual knee-jerk reaction about blaming everything except the one responsible for the acts – the criminal.

Let’s be honest and frank about this:  People kill and assault other people, and sometimes use guns to do it.  Humans are a violent race – just look at the recorded history, and you will see that we haven’t evolved to a higher, enlightened species by any stretch of the imagination.  The days of universal peace and happiness are about as far off as Sol going nova.

Banning all weapons isn’t the answer.  Neither is unrestricted access.  Enforcing the laws that are on the books is a good start, but the real answer is that each person, each individual, must have and take personal responsibility for their own actions and safety.  Government can’t do that for you, no matter how many laws are passed.  And that, my readers, is the bottom line of this post.

Beyond Aurora

The residents of Tom’s Place extend our most sincere condolences to the friends and families of the victims of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado.  Our prayers go with you.


Mike Keefe, InToon.com

Why?

This seems to be the most prevalent question voiced as to the reasons that James Holmes spent 3-weeks booby-trapping his apartment and planning a most horrific event – the indiscriminant killing of innocent people attending a movie.  Obviously, not the product of a sane mind.

Kyle Smith of the New York Post had this to say on his opinion page:

Here we go again. In our outrage over the Aurora massacre, we slip back into our habit of trying to make sense of the senseless, to trace a chain of causation back to its source, and eliminate that source so it will never happen again.

This fallacy reached its peak of absurdity after the Tucson massacre, when we as a society decided to stop using violent metaphors for about 10 minutes, because we all know Jared Lee Loughner wouldn’t have gone wacko if people didn’t say things like “let’s target” a congressional district. Then we saw Loughner’s loony picture, and all discussion about whether he was nuts ended.

Unfortunately, Columbine/Virginia Tech/Fort Hood/Tucson/Aurora will happen again, and again, because not every problem has a solution.

What various politicians (like NY Mayor Bloomberg) and organizations (like the Brady Campaign) believe is the solution is stricter gun control laws and background checks.  However, from the initial reports, the accused legally purchased his firearms, and passed every background check because the only criminal record found so far was a speeding ticket.  How many people have those? 

As much as the politicians and activists harp and carry on, banning firearms is not the solution.  There are examples from around the world that have stricter gun ownership laws that still have problems with gun-related violence.  One of the victims in Aurora narrowly missed becoming a victim at a Toronto, Canada food court this past June.  And Canada has a higher level of gun control than the United States.

Before I go any further, the following statement must be made (from 2nd Amendment):

Owning a weapon carries responsibilities. Quite frankly, there are people who should not even be near one because they are not responsible or mentally mature enough. Owning a weapon does not mean you should be able to strap one on & go out and play policeman. This is where careful licensing through education and the demonstration of qualifications is necessary. Training classes are a must in many states for permits to carry or own firearms.

The issue of legal gun ownership by a law abiding citizenry should not be the focus of the politicians & various groups.  Again, from 2nd Amendment:

Proponents of severely restricting or banning gun ownership point to the high rate of gun-related crimes in the United States. This is a fact that cannot be denied. My question to them is this: How can outlawing guns stop this type of crime? Again, criminals do not operate under the same social norms as the rest of society. They will always find ways to get a firearm and commit the crime because they do not obey the law, and will do almost anything to achieve their goal, i.e. illicit material gain or harm to another person. Disarming the law-abiding citizen, in my mind, will encourage the criminal to expand the list of potential crimes and victims. And this violates the intent of the Second Amendment.

And what if guns were banned across the board?  Criminals were disarmed and a gun-free Utopia reigned?  I have a hunch that there would be more Oklahoma City-type incidents because there are those people who want to have their names become infamous, or right the wrongs supposedly perpetrated upon them.  Then there is this quote, quite ironically, from a Batman movie:

Alfred Pennyworth: A long time ago, I was in Burma, my friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never found anyone who traded with him. One day I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.
Bruce Wayne: Then why steal them?
Alfred Pennyworth: Because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Excerpts from The Denver Post stated:

It is probably too early to read any deep lessons into Friday morning’s brutal attack. Although much has been learned in the past 24 hours about the alleged perpetrator, James Eagan Holmes, we still don’t know enough about his mental state and his motives to say whether he had dropped signs along the way and might have been thwarted. But as recent history has shown, killers willing to forfeit their own lives — or at least their freedom — are extremely difficult to stop unless they make a clumsy mistake in the run-up to the crime.

It is fairly safe to say this much about the killer’s overarching purpose, though: He clearly planned the massacre in such a way as to evoke the maximum amount of publicity. His theatrical final entrance to “The Dark Knight Rises,” as well as his phony, flashy machismo and his black ballistic garb — indeed, the entire life-imitating-art scenario that the shooter choreographed — all point to someone shouting for the public’s attention. If it weren’t part of our job as journalists, we would hesitate even to mention his name and thereby ratify his intentions.

Sick, cruel or desperate people nursing grievances have taken to seeking some sort of bizarre fulfillment in public acts of terror, scripting their final acts for maximum impact.

Yes, there are mentally ill people out there who 1) have not committed any crimes, 2) remain undiagnosed, 3) who have violent tendencies, and 4) no one knows about their problems.  But does that mean we need to live in fear that one of these people will go off the deep end and kill everyone in sight?  No, it doesn’t – we cannot live in fear of the “what-ifs” and unknowns.  With that thought process, we would then join the insane.

Kyle Smith concluded his opinion post with:

Lunatics may have their reasons, but those reasons make no sense. Madness has no logic. Insanity is the break in the chain of causation.

Want to prevent the next Aurora? Figure out a way to stop anyone from ever going nuts.

And that, my friends, is impossible, because people are as varied as the number of stars in the sky.  The Wall Street Journal posted this Opinion yesterday:

The evil or insanity that filled James Holmes is easier to understand, in the sense that both have always stalked humanity. An especially virulent modern version is the antisocial man in early adulthood, the “loner” who turns mass murderer: Cho Seung-Hui at Virginia Tech, Jared Lee Loughner in Tucson, Anders Breivik in Norway, and now it seems a neuroscience student in a Denver suburb who police say identified himself as an arch-villain from a comic book-movie series.

Their killing sprees were not the result of lax gun laws or some profound societal ill. In an America with 200 million guns in circulation, an evil mind will find a way to get weapons of mayhem. If not guns, perhaps it would be bombs, or poison of some kind.

The much harder question is how a free society protects itself from a twisted mind. Families, educators and medical professionals need to be aware of the behavior that might signal psychotic breaks of the kind that tormented Loughner. In the case of Breivik, simple evil seems to suffice as an explanation. (See Sohrab Ahmari’s account of his trial nearby.)

A civilized modern society is paradoxically more vulnerable to an act of individual malevolence than it is to a terror plot that at least its law enforcers are watching for. There may be no real defense against the Loughners and Holmeses save for the guardrails of watchful friends, family and community. And society’s determination through its justice system to suitably punish the killers.

Here’s the bottom line:  The police cannot constantly protect us from our fellow human who wishes to cause us harm – the police were in the parking lot directing traffic next to the Aurora movie theater.  The politicians cannot pass enough laws banning firearms because the criminal element will always find a way around the laws (they’re lawbreakers, right?).  The terrorists will continue to terrorize in new and horrific ways.  And those seeking to put their names in the criminal history books will do so by whatever means.  Banning or restricting gun ownership will only take away a tool from responsible law-abiding citizens that would enable that same citizen from defending themselves and their families from harm. 

Stay vigilant and safe, my friends.

Golf Stories – Just a Little Walk Through Life…

The Senior Open is being played just down the road from me at Indianwood Country Club, so this is probably a good time to take a break from the political comments, and write about something fun…  And yes, I have played that course, and it is tough, especially from the back tees.

Just a little background:  I started playing golf when I was 16, and by the age of 18, I had a legitimate 8 handicap (by legitimate, I’m talking about no mulligans, do-overs, or other “local” or seasonal rules).  Playing off and on over the years, the handicap has fluctuated up and down, but I’ve always enjoyed the game (well, except when I hit a bad shot…).  I haven’t played for a few years now, so I would struggle just to keep the stroke count under 100 (for 18, not for 9 holes, so get that thought out of your heads!).

And now, on to the stories!


My former boss Mark and I were hitting the driving range before a scramble, and he was having trouble with hitting his driver.  Hooks, slices, worm-burners, and sky-balls – anything but straight.  He turns to me and tells me that he thinks that his club is broken, and asks if I could take a look at it.

At the time, I built & repaired clubs on the side, so I went ahead and examined it.  Grip was tight, the head was aligned with the shaft & grips, so I teed one up, and sent it downrange.  Perfectly straight, 250 yards…  Teed up 4 more balls and sent them after the first, with the last one settling down around 280.

I turned to Mark and told him deadpan, “You’re right, it’s broken.  Do you want to trade drivers for the round?”


My buddy Jay and I went out after work to this little 9-hole golf course not far from the plant, plunked down $5 twilight fee, and hit the course.  Several holes later, we were dead even and facing a dogleg right par-5 loaded with trees on both sides of the fairway.  Jay hits a beautiful drive, setting himself up for a long-second shot at the green.  I, on the other hand, didn’t do so well.

I made very bad swing, and popped it off the toe of the club, and ended up in the tree line on the right side of the fairway a very, very long way from the bend.  I was essentially in jail without a shot. Jay, of course, is laughing his a** off because he is about to pull ahead in the match.

I just looked at him, pulled the 4-wood I had in the bag, and told him that I’m just going to have to slice it around the corner.  Of course, he just laughed harder.

Following the swing, we both watched the ball fly true and straight…until it got to the bend.  I could have sworn that little white ball turned on the right-hand turn signal as just before it scooted off to the right behind the trees.

We walked up to his ball perfectly placed in the bend and looked toward the green.  There, in the fairway about 30 feet in front of the green, was a little white ball.  Jay just looked at me, & shook his head.  We both tied the hole, and the match went on.


On another day, Jay and I were playing again at the same par-5, and Jay steps up to the tee.  Now Jay, if he could control his drives, could easily hit the ball 300 yards.  But I digress…

Jay rears back, swings as hard as he could, and pops the ball off the toe, driving it into the women’s tee box marker.  The ball ricochets back toward me, and before I can move, shoots between my legs and hits the tree behind me, and zoomed upward through the branches.

Jay is looking out into the fairway, and asked “Where did it go?” a mere second before the ball dropped 10 feet in front of him…


During the same round, Jay and I are standing on the tee of the 8th hole, a par-3 145-yard hole.  I had teed off, and landed the ball 20 feet in front of the pin.  Jay steps up and takes a mighty swing, striking the ball sharply…

…and broke the head off his club!

The ball lands 4 feet from the pin, the head of the club halfway to the hole, Jay looking blankly at the now headless shaft, and me laughing so hard that tears were coming out of my eyes.

Regardless, I par the hole, and Jay birdies.  He wins the hole, and later, the round.  And all it cost him was his 8-iron.


That’s all the stories for now.  Let me know if you like these stories, and want to read more.

Supreme Fallout

I have been on vacation this past week, and catching up on some much-needed yard work.  Yeah, the heat was bad, but that didn’t get my temperature up (as well as the blood pressure) when I heard about the following.

While working in the yard, I listened to Mark Levin’s “Audio Rewind”, which is basically his radio show on a podcast.  I don’t listen to him very often, but I wanted to find out what this Constitutional lawyer had to say about the Supreme Court’s decision on Obamacare.  In listening to his podcasts from his 6/28 and 6/29 shows, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts dropped the ball…big time…

Mark basically describes Justice Robert’s reasoning for calling the individual mandate a tax is un-Constitutional as there are no valid reasons or provisions for Congress to pass such a tax.  The Commerce Clause did not apply at all.  With this revelation, the individual mandate should have been invalidated, and Justice Roberts should have ruled as such.  Indeed, he should have sided with the dissenting Justices and overturned the entire law.  But he didn’t – he punted the issue back to the People with this statement:

“Members of this court are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments.  Those decisions are entrusted to our nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”

While true, the Supreme Court is also the last bastion of the People to protect the Constitution from a Congress or President gone rogue.  The Supreme Court is charged with upholding the Constitution.  They have failed in this task with this decision.

With the decision on Obamacare and the decision on the Arizona immigration laws, it has become apparent that the Supreme Court will not protect the rights of the People.  The People will have to protect their own rights.

So now what?  Here are a few thoughts from around the Internet:

There once was a penalty, not a tax
Or, so said the liberal hacks
But we know the score
We’ll be paying much more
The burden is on middle class backs.

via @MalarkeyFilter & @ImpeachTheIdiot

From The Gateway Pundit:

With the Supreme Court giving President Obama’s new health care law a green light, federal and state officials are turning to implementation of the law — a lengthy and massive undertaking still in its early stages, but already costing money and expanding the government.

The Health and Human Services Department “was given a billion dollars implementation money,” Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg of Montana said. “That money is gone already on additional bureaucrats and IT programs, computerization for the implementation.”

“Oh boy,” Stan Dorn of the Urban Institute said. “HHS has a huge amount of work to do and the states do, too. There will be new health insurance marketplaces in every state in the country, places you can go online, compare health plans.”

The IRS, Health and Human Services and many other agencies will now write thousands of pages of regulations — an effort well under way:

“There’s already 13,000 pages of regulations, and they’re not even done yet,” Rehberg said.

obamatax

And then it’s not only one tax, but 20!  From the Washington Times:

It’s official: Obamacare is Obamatax. The Supreme Court saved Obamacare but at the expense of exposing it as simply a massive collection of taxes – 20 taxes at least. Obamacare was supposed to reduce the cost of health insurance but it has six taxes on Americans who already have health insurance. Your insurance will cost more to pay Mr. Obama’s tax hikes.

Obamacare was supposed to “bend the cost curve down” but it has a tax on medical devices. What medical devices? Braces for your kids. A stent for your heart. A wheelchair. All the cool stuff you see in hospitals will now cost more in order to pay Mr. Obama’s tax on medical devices.

Obamacare has a tax on lifesaving drugs. Great – now our drugs will cost more. Obamacare raises taxes on making new drugs by $2.3 billion a year. And you will pay it.

Obamacare promised that you would be able to keep your insurance. Not if you have a Health Savings Account – that is hit with new tax penalties. Just try and buy over-the-counter nonprescription drugs pre-tax with your HSA – not anymore. Your Flexible Spending Account is now going to be taxed so that parents who use these insurance accounts to take care of special-needs children will find part of their own life savings taxed away to Washington. And if you have insurance that Washington bureaucrats have decided on your behalf is too good, then you pay part of the $32 billion Mr. Obama is adding in new taxes on those with “too much, too good” health insurance.

Obamacare even has a tax on charitable hospitals.

Seven of the Obamacare taxes directly hit middle-income Americans. So much for Mr. Obama’s promise to never raise “any form” of tax on anyone earning less than $250,000.

There is a tax on tanning services. New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg won’t let you have soft drinks he doesn’t approve of. Obamacare taxes you 10 percent if you want a tan and cannot get a free ride to the sun on Air Force One.

Twenty taxes comprise the total that raise the cost of health care, trash your present insurance and ability to save for future health needs.

What if you get really sick and have very high medical bills? In the past, you could deduct high medical bills from your taxable income when they were above 7.5 percent of your total income. Mr. Obama thinks that is being too nice to sick people and raises the limit to 10 percent. Perhaps the theory is that taxing sick people will lead to fewer sick people.

Much focus has been placed on one of the 20 tax hikes. That is the tax hike on Americans who fail to submit to the “mandate” that you buy health insurance chosen for you by the government. You may buy any color Model T you wish as long as it is black. You may have any health insurance package the government picks out for you.

And here’s one more lie from President Obama:  He has stated that if you have health coverage, and you like it, then you can keep it.  But if that coverage isn’t approved by the government, or if your employer decides to change providers or drop coverage altogether, then you are totally out of luck.  You are now at the mercy of the government bureaucrats, and we all know how efficient and speedy they are (think of your last visit to the DMV, and you’ll understand).

This isn’t about containing medical costs or making sure that everyone has healthcare coverage – we already know from independent and government accounting that the costs will go up beyond whatever projections were used by Congress and the President to promote this law.  A Rasmussen poll has stated that 52% of Americans now favor a repeal of Obamacare, and 47% in a Gallup survey believe that Obamacare will hurt the economy.  What’s worse, Townhall.com had this:

The Doctor Patient Medical Association has released a new survey of about 700 doctors, and the results are bleak. Scary bleak. Among other dismal figures, Doctors’ Attitudes on the Future of Medicine: What’s Wrong, Who’s to Blame, and What Will Fix It found that 83% of respondents are contemplating leaving the industry if Obamacare is fully implemented, owing to its disastrous projected consequences. Indeed, they openly blame the healthcare law for their industry’s woes:

KEY FINDINGS

  • 90% say the medical system is on the WRONG TRACK
  • 83% say they are thinking about QUITTING
  • 61% say the system challenges their ETHICS
  • 85% say the patient-physician relationship is in a TAILSPIN
  • 65% say GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT is most to blame for current problems
  • 72% say individual insurance mandate will NOT result in improved access care
  • 49% say they will STOP accepting Medicaid patients
  • 74% say they will STOP ACCEPTING Medicare patients, or leave Medicare completely
  • 52% say they would rather treat some Medicaid/Medicare patient for FREE
  • 57% give the AMA a FAILING GRADE representing them
  • 1 out of 3 doctors is HESITANT to voice their opinion
  • 2 out of 3 say they are JUST SQUEAKING BY OR IN THE RED financially
  • 95% say private practice is losing out to CORPORATE MEDICINE
  • 80% say DOCTORS/MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS are most likely to help solve things
  • 70% say REDUCING GOVERNMENT would be single best fix.

The bottom line is that this is a power and money grab by the government solely for the purposes of funding whatever pet projects the party in power has for their patrons.  Why else would people and organizations give thousands and thousands of dollars to a political candidate?  After all

…a typical politician’s primary job is not to serve the people who elected him. His primary job is to get himself (or herself) elected or re-elected. Second is to reward all those contributors that gave $$ to help him get elected. Third is to get as many perks & benefits as he can while he is in office. Last on the list is the common person like you & I.

Be well, everyone – we may not have a choice…

Red Skelton’s Pledge of Allegiance

The time was 1923.The students had finished reciting the Pledge of Allegiance which at the time was but 10 years old. The old sage called the children together and said–

“Boys and girls, I have been listening to you recite the Pledge of Allegiance all semester and it appears that it has become monotonous to you or could it be you do not know the meaning of those words. If I may, I would like to recite the Pledge and give to you a definition of the words.

I—-meaning me, an individual, a committee of one.

Pledge—-dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self pity.

Allegiance—-my love and my devotion.

To the Flag—-our standard, Old Glory, a symbol of freedom. Wherever she waves, there is respect because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts freedom is everybody’s job.

Of the United—-that means that we have all come together.

States—-individual communities that have united into 48 great states. 48 individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose, all divided with imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common cause, and that’s love of country.

Of America.

And to the Republic—-a republic, a state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern. And government is the people and it’s from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.

For which it stands!

One nation—-meaning, so blessed by God.

Indivisible—-incapable of being divided.

Liberty—-which is freedom and the right of power to live one’s life without threats or fear or any sort of retaliation.

And justice—-The principle and quality of dealing fairly with others.

For all.—-which means, boys and girls, it’s as much your country as it is mine.”

Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our nation, and two words have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance “under God.” Wouldn’t it be a pity if someone said, “That’s a prayer” and that would be eliminated from schools, too?