An ultra-conservative's views on this and that

25 February 2018

With the left, the ends always justify the means

I'm a member of the NRA, unlike most if not all of the recent mass shooters.

So why is the NRA being targeted with this campaign to get other businesses to  sever their the civil-rights organization?  Because the <strike>gun-control</strike> gun ban advocates can't win the argument fairly.

So they paint arguably one of the biggest advocates of the Second Amendment as killers of children and the recipients of blood money.  For nothing more than advocacy.

To the left, the symbolism of toppling the NRA represents a key battle in their war on Second Amendment rights.  Defeating or neutralizing the power of the Second Amendment's champion means they can start fixing a constitutional right they don't like.  The hell with the fact that their measures are:

- useless
- unconstitutional

So removing the NRA becomes necessity.

I've noticed the gun-grabbers are not above hyperbole, deceit, and distortions coupled with appeals to emotion to persuade an uninformed public and their elected representatives that "we must do something", even if illegal and uneffective.

So why would they want the NRA to exist to check them on the facts?

16 February 2018


The shootings in Parkland, FL are terrible.  Just as terrible as every other act of senseless violence.  And they happen too often.

That's about the extent of where the leftist gun-grabbers and I can seem to find common ground.

Recently, they've adopted a new tactic.  They've always, as if on cue, made their emotional appeals to institute "common-sense" gun control, or something similarly-named.  But they've always been short on the details.  The more rabid (and, as it turns out, more honest) among them will put forth their simple platform:  Ban guns.  Confiscate them.

In the wake of the tragedy, the politicians and pundits of a more conservative bent will call on an end to politicization of the deaths to drive the gun-grabber agenda.  They will say the political discussions have no place on the stage when parents and guardians are still being called down to the morgue to identify their children (which is, incidentally, absolutely right).  They will offer "thoughts and prayers", which can seem like an empty platitude.  And it sometimes is, but it's our human nature to want to find some way to console the grieving family and friends of the deceased.

As I said, the leftists have amended tactics recently.  Now, they will tell the "thoughts and prayers" crowd what they can do with their "thoughts and prayers".  They will push back against the call for common decency and implore anyone who will listen:  "If not now, then when?  Someone must do something!" they will cry.

We are doing something.  We're letting the loved ones grieve in peace.

What you, the gun-grabbers, are asking us to do, is make big decisions while emotions are still running high, without the benefit of calm, reasoned, logic-filled discussion that can temper the nasty side effects of rash decisions.  Side effects that are much more likely to be seen when logical reflection is allowed to participate.

But that's kind of the idea, isn't it?  Because you, the gun-grabbers, know that if we have time to think about your proposals, and give them careful thought, we would never accept them.

So you exploit grief instead.  You're despicable.

As to my proposal?  Well, it involves analyzing the factors that make these mass shootings all too common:

  • Preponderance of firearms, often illegally obtained
  • Mental health and criminal background of the shooters
  • Environment in which the shootings occur
  • Reaction of the shooters when faced with resistance (e.g. being challenged by someone else with a firearm)
The US has a lot of guns, no doubt about it, but increases in legal gun ownership have correlated to a decrease in violent crime.  When a certain percentage of the law-abiding public is armed, muggers, rapists, and other violent criminals will only prey on that public as long as the risk is outweighed by reward.  A would-be victim that is able to respond with deadly force presents a risk to the health and/or life of the predator-- in other words, the risk goes up.

But what if certain environments reduce the risk to the would-be predator, by legally requiring would-be victims to render themselves defenseless?  Usually, this disarming of law-abiding group is done in the interests of perceived safety:  Discharge of a firearm, even accidentally, can endanger lives on board a crowded airplane, in a crowded shopping mall, or in a school.  In the last example, we're also dealing with young people who have mental and physical abilities on par with mature adults, but often lacking the self-control and ability to think clearly in emotionally-charged environments, so we acknowledge these environments' restrictions are sensible, and we accept rendering ourselves and/or our loved ones defenseless as part of an implicit social contract whereby we get something in return:  Rapid transportation to a desired destination, acquisition of materials or services, or an education for ourselves or our progeny.

But it only takes one to violate that contract.  With minimal risk and high reward.  In the case of the scum that conduct mass shootings, that reward can be revenge, some sort of perverse pleasure, or the desire for immortality through infamy.  Both the risk and reward are timely:  A shooter can achieve his/her reward in the time before resistance exponentially increases the risk.

So in our closed system, what increases the risk sooner?  Removal of the means of violence?  As I said, there are a lot of guns in the U.S.  Nobody knows the exact number, but it is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions-- a minimum of 1 gun per capita.  Confiscation, even if not constitutionally prohibited, would be a Herculean task.

What other controls are at our disposal?  Reducing the access to guns from the mentally ill and criminals?  We have background checks in place to do just that, but they are built on a system developed by flawed human beings-- some people who shouldn't have access to firearms slip through the cracks and end up with them anyway.  Also, because our nation is founded on the notion of individual liberty, we must respect the rights of other, including the undocumented but nevertheless enshrined "right" to privacy-- the health records of our citizens are private, and while disclosure of those records for our mentally ill citizens may serve the interests of the State, our courts have often ruled that the State must demonstrate a compelling reason why they should go against the natural tendency toward individual rights trumping the interests of the State, as per the spirit of the Constitution.

What's left to adjust, in hopes of preventing these terrible tragedies?  Increasing the likelihood of the shooter being met with resistance, and sooner.  Much data exists to show when most of these scumbags encounter armed resistance, be it a cop, soldier, or average citizen with a gun whom had refused to be slaughtered without a fight.  But with the "resistance in street clothes", there's an element of unpredictability:  an environment of defenseless victims can be just that until it's not.

Risk versus reward.

15 November 2016

Just saying

I think my Facebook friends list will shrink before the end of the year, if my politically-different-thinking "friends" don't stop inadvertently linking me to the  Nazis.

Invocations of the Kristallnacht?  Look in the mirror, morons, those aren't Trump supporters out there rioting.

Bewilderment at half of the U.S. being racist for voting for the man?  Take a Xanax, folks, and consider the possibility that people voted for him, or against his main opponent, for a variety of reasons.

Yes, the list will definitely shrink, but I won't necessarily be the one doing the friend-culling.  All I have to do is unashamedly state my political views, and the counter will drop. 

And you know what?  I don't care.  If these people are unable to function in civil society and accept defeat like adults, I'm better off not having that negativity around me.

And why haven't I yet?  Because while I'm OK enduring the hatred that would be directed against me, I may unavoidably draw my wife into the cesspool, and that's just not something a loving husband does.

09 November 2016

Suck it up, snowflakes (Part 1)

It's been about 24 hours since the U.S. elected Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, and I just see more of the same whining and sniveling that I saw after the 2000 and 2004 elections.  People taking to social media to broadcast their demoralization and emotional exhaustion.  Teachers giving students a pass on coursework or exams because of their devastation at losing.

Suck it up, snowflakes.  This is not the end.

One of my Facebook friends, the wife of a former co-worker writes:

 Yes, I'm disappointed that my candidate lost. But that's not it. I have a whole lot of experience losing contests before, and my feelings today aren't about being a poor sport.
I'm devastated to learn that so many of the people around me condone (or at least don't condemn) sexual violence and hate speech against anyone who looks or acts 'different.' I'm afraid for the safety of my friends and my children. The author of this article does a beautiful job expressing what so many of us are feeling today.
I voted in the election, not so much for Trump (I would've preferred Ted Cruz), but against Hillary Clinton.  Trump has made some controversial statements, to be sure, but what's the saying about people in glass houses?  Hillary Clinton's party contains some real creepy characters:  Most notable has to be Joe Biden.

Set aside that Biden has been a fixture on the Washington scene for decades, and the most sensible foreign policy an elected official can pursue is to seek the advice of Joe Biden, and then do the exact opposite.  Biden's behavior as a vice president has ranked high on the creepy scale.  See the following links for well-documented instances where Biden engaged in behavior that would earn him a trip to HR in most large companies:
Then there's Ted "Chappaquiddick" Kennedy, a man who avoided the scandal of a woman drowning in his car as he swam to safety due to 2 things:  His last name, and the "D" next to it.

Ok, now on to what my acquaintance writes:

I'm devastated to learn that so many of the people around me condone (or at least don't condemn) sexual violence and hate speech against anyone who looks or acts 'different.'
So what are we defining as "sexual violence?"  If Michelle Obama is to be considered a source, it seems to encapsulate Mr. Trump merely talking about what he'd want to do to someone of the female persuasion.

So they have on tape, making a statement that, though awkward, conveys the sentiment that a lot of "red-blooded males" may have at times in our lives:  We see a sexually attractive woman, and the blood rushes from our head to a point somewhat south of the border.  We revert to our primitive selves a little bit.  I'm sorry that my acquaintance and the other not-Trump people out there take offense to this or will be surprised by this, but most if not all straight males will have at least one of these moments during their lives, where our inner cavemen crawls out, and we think about fulfilling a biological imperative without first wanting to talk about our feelings.

But what differentiates most of us from most of the animal kingdom is that we don't act on it, or we don't act on it without consent from our would-be partner.

Yes, what Trump said about a woman over a decade ago is despicable, and as members of society, we are right to criticize him for it.  But to take the logical leap from that to my acquaintance considering the people who voted for Trump to be condoning or not condemning "sexual violence" is ridiculous.  Newsflash:  People can condemn Trump's statements and still vote for him.

31 December 2015

So long, 2015. Welcome, 2016!

It's that time again.  Time to reflect on 2015:

  • January:
    • Boko Haram massacres 2,000 people.
    • Our pet Flemish Giant, Goose, turned 6.  It was his first birthday that he had without his twin sister Dori.
  • February:
    • Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played Spock in 3 seasons of Star Trek, guest-starred in Star Trek:  The Next Generation, and played the character in 8 Star Trek films, dies.
    • A blizzard hits our little corner of Iowa and dumps a ton of snow on us, just in time for my sisters to visit from Florida.
    • My sisters make the trek from Florida to Iowa to meet their new little nephew for the first time.  He has lots of smiles for them and becomes quite talkative.
  • March:
    • The NASA probe Dawn enters orbit around dwarf planet Ceres.
    • ISIL effectively annexes Boko Haram.  Still a JV team, Mr. President?
    • A suicidal airline co-pilot locks the pilot out of the cockpit and crashes Germanwings flight 9525 into a mountain.
    • We finish the dormer attic in our house, giving us a new spacious den upstairs after having to relocate our computers to the front living room when our son was born.
    • My father's plane catches fire after a gear-up landing.  He escapes unscathed, but his plane, and the logbooks and computer in the backseat, are a loss.
  • April:
    • A magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Nepal kills over 9,000 in Nepal, India, China, and Bangladesh.
    • Percy Sledge, who once topped the charts with When A Man Loves A Woman, dies.
    • My wife and I celebrate our second anniversary, the first one as parents.
    • My wife, her parents, and our son are thankfully OK after being rear-ended by another car while sitting in traffic.  It is the second vehicular collision my son has been involved in since his birth.  I put my old airplane headset on him and he relieves the stress that evening with infectious laughter.
    • My in-laws celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
  • May:
    • Ireland legalizes same-sex marriage by popular vote, becoming the first country to do so.
    • Grace Lee Whitney, who played Janice Rand in the Star Trek franchise, dies.
    • Blues guitarist B.B. King dies.
    • The 70th anniversary of V-E day.
  • June:
    • Corruption in FIFA
    • ISIL, the "JV team", kills almost 300 people in one day in a series of coordinated attacks.
    • Actor Christopher Lee of Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Dracula fame, dies.
    • Composer James Horner (Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan) dies.
    • Actor Dick Van Patten dies.
    • Fatherhood is the joy you experience when carrying your sleeping son off to bed when he falls asleep in the living room.
    • My father, shopping for a new plane, visits us in Iowa. 
    • Our son enjoys his first family vacation to Okoboji, IA.  Upon our return, I manage to slip and fall down the stairs from the attic.  I luckily ended up only with a spiral gouge in my right arm and some stiffness in my right leg, but nothing broken or sprained.
  • July:
    • Greece defaults on its debt, choosing to pour gasoline on the fire that is their economic crisis.
    • NASA's New Horizons probe visits Pluto.
    • Cuba and the United States re-establish diplomatic relations.  Still waiting for the reimbursement from Cuba for the nationalization and seizure of American companies' property...
    • Omar Sharif, Alex Rocco (Moe Greene from the Godfather), and Roddy Piper (They Live) die.
    • My folks visit Iowa.  I drive my father up to Minnesota to look at a plane.
  • August:
    • Part of Malaysian Airlines MH370 is finally found.
    • Director Wes Craven dies.
    • A crew from the EPA causes a spill of 3 million gallons of water polluted with mercury, arsenic, and other toxic metals from a closed mine into the Animas River, a (former) source of drinking water for 3 states and at least one Indian reservation.  Unsurprisingly, the EPA encountered a lack of compassion or cooperation from the states and municipalities in the area that they had bullied and fined for far lesser sins.
    • Goose, our beloved Flemish Giant "puppy-bunny", dies.  For the first time in 11 years, there are no rabbits for me to care for, save the wild ones in the backyard.
    • My father purchases a new plane in Minnesota, and I fly back to Iowa with him.  It had been 26 years since I had last sat right-seat with him.  This time definitely felt different, probably because I could see over the instrument panel.
  • September:
    • Volkswagen gets caught cheating on diesel emissions tests
    • Russia starts staging air strikes against ISIL, showing Putin to be more of a man than Obama.
    • Yogi Berra, famous New York Yankees ballplayer.  "It ain't over till it's over."
    • Took our son on a trip up to Minnesota.  Picked up equipment for my dad's plane on our way up.  Delivered several bags of hay from Goose's "estate" to my fellow rabbit friends in the Cities.  Our son also got a chance to see many rabbits playing on the mats.
  • October:
    • My son and I hit the streets for his first Halloween.
  • November:
    • ISIL kills 130 in Paris in terror attacks.  Still a JV team, Mr. President?  There are indications that at least one of the terrorists may have entered France by posing as a Syrian refugee.
    • RIP Fred Dalton Thompson, former U.S. Senator from Tennessee, actor, and one-time presidential candidate.  As an actor, I think my favorite role of his is as Rear Admiral Joshua Painter in The Hunt for Red October.
    • My son celebrates his first birthday with aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents from Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas.
    • We suit up our son and take him around the snow-covered backyard on his sled for the first time.
    • Our first airline travel as a family.  Thanksgiving with my folks and my sisters and their families was enjoyable, but the trip left me wondering if installing and removing a infant car seat from an airplane would be a fitting punishment for some misdemeanors.  Still, our little one got to meet his uncle and two of his three first cousins on my side.  In addition, he befriended my sister's dog, we learned that he likes the taste of tea and doesn't like the taste of lemons or dark German beer.
    • My mother-in-law goes in for knee surgery.
  • December:
    • Jihadists open fire at a Christmas party in San Bernadino, CA, killing 14. Predictable response from the Obama regime?  "We need tougher regulations on guns." Seriously?
    • COP21 summit results in a climate agreement that causes a bunch of "journalists" to behave like enthusiastic sports fans.  Objectivity?  We don't need no stinkin' objectivity!
    • Remember the Animas River being polluted by the EPA?  Yeah, now they're saying they're not responsible.  Being a government bully means never having to say sorry (until a judge orders you too, which would be a nice outcome to this ongoing saga).
    • RIP Robert Loggia.  I will always remember him as Frank Lopez from Scarface.
    • RIP Natalie Cole.  I'm sorry she's dead at a relatively young age, but I wonder how long it is until someone sings with her in a posthumous duet.
    • RIP Wayne Rogers.  I enjoyed his performance as Trapper John McIntyre on MASH, though he was still enjoyable to watch in his other career as a financial analyst on Fox Business Network.
    • I spend my 40th birthday having a quiet dinner of Spaghetti-Os with my son.  In retrospect, I couldn't have asked for a more fun evening!
Farewell, 2015.  Here's to 2016!

17 December 2015

The stupidity of equating abortion and gun ownership

A friend of mine recently posted this to Facebook in the wake of the San Bernadino shooting.  She and her husband are fairly left-wing, and never allow a lack of information or a warped set of data deter them from sharing their opinion on something, sometimes with derision.

She recently shared this photo from Janis Ian:

"How about we treat every young man who wants to buy a gun like every woman who wants to get an abortion-- mandatory 48-hr waiting period, parental permission, a note from his doctor proving he understands what he's about to do, a video he has to watch about the effects of gun violence, and ultrasound wand up the ass (just because).  Lets close down all but one gun shop in every state and make him travel hundreds of miles, take time off work, and stay overnight in a strange town to get a gun.  Make him walk through a gauntlet of people holding photos of loved ones who were shot to death, people who call him a murderer and beg him not to buy a gun.

It makes more sense to do this with young men and guns than with women and health care, right?  I mean, no woman getting an abortion has killed a room full of people in seconds, right?

My friend adds:

This applies of course to every (young) person who wants to buy a gun, not just every young man.

Of course, the comparison isn't exactly apples to apples:  When a woman has an abortion, there is a life being snuffed out.  You can argue viability all you want, that's not the point.  Human beings, for their life span, have a heartbeat.  Stop the heart, or cause the heart to stop, and the body dies.  A person purchasing a firearm might never use it to cause the heart of others or himself to stop beating.  However, a woman who has an abortion will almost without exception terminate the heartbeat(s) of the life or lives growing inside her.

Waiting periods?  Most firearms have them.  Those that don't are because it doesn't take that long to execute a background check on would-be buyers.  Parental permission?  Federal law allows minors to only legally possess long guns and long gun ammunition.  Many locales will allow those same minors to get an abortion without parental notification.

Let's not forget that a minor having an abortion has already made a misjudgement about the laws of nature:  Have unprotected sex, and play Russian roulette with the odds that one of a billion sperm finds its way to the egg.

And the snark about having to travel hundreds of miles?  Personally, I waffle on the topic of abortion, but if we accept the premise that it's just a medical procedure, without the moral issues around the termination of one or more heartbeats, then shouldn't we, as an industrialized nation, have a high standard for medical care?  In the wake of the horrors of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, shouldn't we mandate safe, sanitary conditions for such a procedure?  If you were to have your appendix out, you'd want it done in a sterile environment by well-trained medical professionals.  If some facilities can't meet government standards for hygiene, safety, etc., why should those facilities continue to operate?

Finally, are we certain that, in a day and age of widely-available contraception and post-intercourse abortifacents, is it possible that demand for this particular medical procedure is down?

In conclusion, the post makes a false equivalence between a young man assumed to be a murderer just because he chooses to get a gun, and woman who goes in for a medical procedure, knowing that it will terminate the heartbeat of another human being.

07 December 2015

Prayer-shaming, empty-platitudes, or whatever you want to call it

For years, I've noticed a pattern:  Leftists tend to love to exploit tragedies for political power.

On 31 July 2007, I returned from a trip and drove over the I-35W bridge on my way home.

The next day, as I headed home from work, the radio relayed terrible news:  The bridge had collapsed into the Mississippi River.

Like any compassionate human being, I kept the victims in my thoughts.  And like any spiritual and religious human being, I kept them in my prayers as well.

Other than wondering if the bridge had been brought down in an act of terrorism, I didn't speculate as to the cause. Because that's what compassionate human beings do:  They don't start pointing fingers of blame while bodies are still being fished out of the river.

Nick Coleman, of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, is not an example of a compassionate human being.  Within hours of the collapse, with no facts or data to support his arguments, blamed the bridge collapse on Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty's veto of a gas-tax increase about two months earlier, "reasoning" that, had the increase been approved, Minnesota could've started spending money to maintain and improve "our crumbling infrastructure."

A couple of points:
  • Construction equipment was present on the bridge to resurface the roadway in one direction, resulting in a lane closure.  It also resulted in an additional 100-ton static load on the bridge.
  • When the bridge was originally designed and built 40 years earlier, it had been built with gusset plates about half the thickness they needed to be to sustain the contemporary load it was carrying.
  • The gusset plates had been subjected to the forces of erosion for those 40 years, a time when the DFL had controlled both the legislature and governor's office for a majority of the time.
  • Public funding may be allocated for something, but politicians often will spend elsewhere.  Case in point:  New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin misspent funds slated to shore up the levies around New Orleans in the years before Hurricane Katrina.  Even if the tax increase had passed, and money had been allocated for the bridge immediately, and a contractor had offered a reasonable bid right away, and gotten to work right away... If. If. If.
So when I see lefties criticizing GOP politicians for offering thoughts and prayers, criticizing the gestures as "empty platitudes", it's nothing new.  Just the same creepy trolls lusting for political power, and willing to play on the heightened emotions of people at a time of crisis or tragedy to effect their policy, lest a cooler, calmer populace might dispassionately object, especially if it could result in the curtailing of the populace's freedoms.

Question for the anti-"thoughts and prayers" crowd:  What makes the gesture an empty platitude?  Who makes the decision that's it's a platitude?  The recipient(s)?  Or the very people presuming to speak for them?  A platitude is defined as "a remark or statement, especially one with a moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful".

Well, wait a minute, is there an accusation that the statement isn't thoughtful?  Again, who makes that determination?  Who determines the frequency at which the phrase is too often used?

The flip side is that the gun-grabbers offers no new solutions.  Just more of the same:  Take everybody's guns away, constitutional rights be damned.  Yet the spree shootings happen in the "gun-free" zones.  Correction:  Some spree shootings are attempted outside gun-free zones, yet they are thwarted by someone with a concealed carry permit and a willingness to use deadly force to protect themselves, their loved ones, and even complete strangers around them.

The problem is the gun-rights advocates are beset by two challenges:  Keeping the people who are too enthusiastic about the exercise of their Second Amendment rights from discouraging or even terrifying the uninformed and misinformed from tuning into a different viewpoint, and a sense of decency that the gun-grabbers aren't encumbered by.  In the wake of the shooting, the gun-rights advocates remain quiet, preferring to allow time to heal the wounds before pointing out the logical conclusion to be drawn from the tragedies:  That gunmen seeking infamy prefer to do so in an environment where their odds are good.  Nothing discourages even the most unstable person from committing an act of terror more than the haunting fear that a law-abiding citizen will cut short their pursuit of fame and turn them into just another easily-forgotten crime statistic.

The would-be-gun-grabbers insist, in the wake of gun violence, that we must "do something."  I agree:  Stop disarming the would-be victims.  Acknowledge that trying to get seize and get rid of 200-300 million guns in this country is a Herculean effort that is not without the risk of bloody conflict, considering the government will have to use its guns to seize everybody else's.  Acknowledge that repeal of the Second Amendment will require getting through Congress and being ratified by 3/4 of the states, either via state legislatures or state conventions.  In other words, good luck.

And that's a good thing.  The Framers understood how volatile the notion of a republic is, and the best way to ensure its longevity is to make it slow and difficult to change the fundamentals of the Constitution.