Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Henan, China, Bath, Michigan and Happyland Prove That Blaming Guns, is a Means of Avoiding Dealing With Violence

Whenever a mentally ill person kills, a segment of simple-minded people look to blame guns.

Some say, “Well, they don’t blame cars for drunk driving deaths,” but that is NOT true, a segment of the population has often and vocally supported eradicating the car as “an instrument of death,”

It’s only that the media hasn’t gotten behind that agenda that it hasn’t been trumpeted.

It’s also why mentally ill people who use guns, from Colin Ferguson (the bipolar, illegal immigrant from Jamaica who killed 6 and injured 19 others on the LIRR), to Jared Loughner who killed six people, including Chief U.S. District Court Judge John Roll, as well as a 9-year-old girl, Christina-Taylor Green and injured 14 others, including U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords to James Holmes who killing 12 and wounded 58 others in a Colorado Movie Theater, to Adam Lanza who killed 26, including 20 First-graders in Newtown Connecticut, are always major events, while those mass murders that DO NOT involve guns, from Julio Gonzalez murdering 187 in the Happyland Social Club in the Bronx to “The Bath School Disaster,” (a series of bombings by Andrew Kehoe that killed 44, including 38 children and wounded 58 others) are given relative short shrift.

The anti-gun agenda, like the “No Nukes” agenda is a simple-minded one. Even IF we could eradicate ALL guns from the face of the earth, we’d still have regular and massive human carnage, as the actions of Julio Gonzalez and Andrew Kehoe prove.

The issue in all the above gun-related murders appears to be mental illness, although illegal immigrants could be scapegoated in the LIRR massacre, as I DID at the time.

Still, the overriding factor in all these killings appears to be mental illness. In the not too distant past and in many nations to this day, such “misfits” have been put to death for things like “consorting with the devil,” to “being possessed” to just being weird. While I’m not endorsing that, I can’t find a very valid objection to such a policy. The Vikings threw their infant children into the water and those that didn’t swim right away died and the Vikings thrived with no handicapped members holding their advancement back.

At the very least, we SHOULD look at the de-institutionalization of the 1970s and acknowledge it a failure. IF we are really serious about eradicating the carnage wrought by the Loughner’s, Holmes’, Ferguson’s and Lanza’s a return to institutionalizing the mentally handicapped, ESPECIALLY those who tend to be described by classmates as “very bright, but also very weird,” a return to institutionalizing such people at an early age.

At any rate, it should be clear that “people-control” (extricating the mentally ill from society), rather than “gun-control” is the key to eradicating such violence.

It should also be noted that on the same day as the Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting, a Chinese man (Min Yongjun, 36) stabbed 22 children in China's central province of Henan and while no fatalities have been reported in this particular Chinese stabbing incident, China — which has strict gun control laws — has had a spate of school stabbing massacres in recent years with many fatalities. In September, an ax-wielding Chinese man killed three school children and wounded another 13. Indeed, a series of uncoordinated mass stabbings, hammer attacks, and cleaver attacks in the People's Republic of China began in March 2010. The spate of attacks left at least 21 dead and some 90 injured. Some analysts have blamed mental health problems for the rise in these kind of mass murder and murder-suicide incidents.

So, the slaughter of school children is by no means a uniquely American experience, nor is such violence related to inanimate objects like access to guns or knives, it’s virtually entirely related to mental illness. We just do a poor job of identifying and treating the mentally ill among us.

Nor is the targeting of young school children unique to the “modern age.” Way back in 1927, Andrew Kehoe perpetrated the deadliest mass murder in U.S. school history when he set off three horrific bombings in Bath Township, Michigan, on May 18, 1927. Those bombings killed 38 elementary school children, two teachers, and four other adults; at least 58 people were injured.

The perpetrator of the Bath School Bombings was Andrew Kehoe, 55, who like Adam Lanza, began his murder spree at home, where Kehoe first killed his wife (Lanza killed his mother), and like Adam Lanza, committed suicide with his last explosion. Most of Kehoe’s victims were children in the second to sixth grades (7–14 years of age) attending the Bath Consolidated School. To this day, their deaths constitute the deadliest mass murder in a school in United States history.

Interestingly enough, Andrew Kehoe, 55 was the school board treasurer, angry after being defeated in the spring 1926 election for township clerk. In that regard, both Lanza and Kehoe were “people of privilege,” whose families felt entitled to leadership positions.

Anger, or rage is a legitimate feeling and people have a legitimate right to some degree of free expression. Mentally stable people are able to channel their legitimate anger into positive action, for either political or social change. The mentally unstable (the Holmes’, the Ferguson’s, the Kehoe’s, the Gonzalez’s and the Lanza’s) do NOT channel that violence into anything except carnage. With that in mind, cutting off such people’s access to weapons will not do anything to curb that violence, as the actions of Julio Gonzalez (a small container of gasoline and a match) and Andrew Kehoe (pyrotol-based bombs) conclusively prove.

Still, some people will cling to any rationale (from violent video games and movies, to over-medicated children, to access to guns, etc.) rather than face the ugly reality that mankind is brutal by its very nature.

The statistics are astounding. Last year alone, more than 18,000 people committed suicide with a firearm and more than 8,000 were murdered with guns.

Those are staggering numbers, BUT they pale in comparison to the fact that there are approximately two million defensive gun uses (DGU's) per year by law abiding citizens. That was one of the findings in a national survey conducted by Gary Kleck, a Florida State University criminologist in 1993.

As to suicides, every human owns his/her own life. An individual has every right to make that choice. While many of those suicides are regrettable, they are not “criminal acts.”

In comparing 8,000 gun-related murders to 2 MILLION DGUs per year, in which citizens use guns to defend their own lives, homes and businesses, the carnage wreaked by violent felons is miniscule in relation to the number of citizens saved each year by guns.

In virtually all of the above gun-related killing sprees, a single armed citizen, an off-duty cop on the LIRR, an armed citizen or two in that Aurora, co movie theater, an armed guard at the Rep Gabby Giffords event or at the Sandy Hook Elementary School would’ve been the ONLY effective way of limiting or reducing that carnage, short of institutionalizing such people for “weirdness” earlier on.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Institutional Overreach and Overreaction Can Cut BOTH Ways

Rhonda Lee claims she was fired from her job as meteorologist for KTBS-TV in Shreveport, La., because she responded to a Facebook post about her natural hair style, sent by a viewer on the station's Facebook page, on October 1st.

A viewer identified as Emmitt Vascocu posted, “the black lady that does the news is a very nice lady.the only thing is she needs to wear a wig or grow some more hair. im not sure if she is a cancer patient. but still its not something myself that i think looks good on tv. what about letting someone a male have waist long hair do the news.what about that (cq),” on the Station’s Facebook page.

Lee replied that same day, Hello Emmitt – I am the ‘black lady’ to which you are referring. I’m sorry you don’t like my ethnic hair. And no I don’t have cancer. I’m a non-smoking, 5’3, 121 lbs, 25 mile a week running, 37.5 year old woman, and I’m in perfectly healthy physical condition.

“I am very proud of my African-American ancestry which includes my hair. For your edification: traditionally our hair doesn’t grow downward. It grows upward. Many Black women use strong straightening agents in order to achieve a more European grade of hair and that is their choice. However in my case I don’t find it necessary. I’m very proud of who I am and the standard of beauty I display. Women come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and levels of beauty. Showing little girls that being comfortable in the skin and HAIR God gave me is my contribution to society. Little girls (and boys for that matter) need to see that what you look like isn’t a reason to not achieve their goals.

“Conforming to one standard isn’t what being American is about and I hope you can embrace that.

“Thank you for your comment and have a great weekend and thank for watching.”

Vascocu replied that Lee was right to be proud of who she is and that he is not a racist, but “. . . this world has . . . certain standerd (cq). if youve come from a world of being poor are you going to dress in rags?. . .”

Lee’s above comment seems extremely diplomatic and obviously seeks to educate and reach out rather than castigate someone who took issue with her appearance – a very personal matter. The Station allegedly “Liked” the comment by Mr. Vascocu.

Shortly after that another comment by someone under the name Kenny Moreland, read:

“Not to start any trouble, because I think that the annual “Three Minute Smile” is a great function and I love to see kids so happy. Am I the only one that has noticed that this year, all the kids, lets say, are people of color? This is Channel 3, not KSLA, the “Project Pride” network, that might as well be part of the BET channel. Did KTBS slip up on a news story, and owe S’port’s criminal mayor Cedric, a favor? Seems like some racism going on to me. Just saying...”

Lee responded to the comment the next day, saying:

“I’m not sure I understand your comment. “...this is Channel 3 not KSLA…” What are you trying to say?

The children are picked at random. So there goes your theory that they are selected for their color. I would like to think that it doesn’t matter who the child is. If you truly just want to see the kids happy your message had a funny way of showing it.

Happy holidays. –Met. Rhonda Lee”

Again, Ms Lee seemed to respond in a very diplomatic way to a response that clearly challenged her integrity and objectivity.

Lee reported that she was the one who alerted the station to the comment, which they didn’t remove. Lee claimed, “I was the one who brought it to their attention after they let it fester on the page for 6 days, but was then chastised for responding at all. I sent a screen grab to my boss via e-mail telling them that I’m ok with the anti-Rhonda commentary sometimes, but what has been posted at the time was . . . racist, and I asked them to please support me in removing the ones that didn’t encourage thoughtful, respectful and civil discourse on our FB page. I never got a reply, only punished. To this day the posts are still there.”

As a result, Rhonda Lee was fired from KTSB for allegedly violating the social media procedure of the station by responding to the viewer's comment.

Lee said she wasn't aware of the policy at the time. She simply thought she needed to respond to the remark that was addressed to her in particular.

While we disagree with Ms. Lee seeking her employer’s (KTSB TV) support for her to be the final arbiter of what IS and what is NOT “racist,” her being fired over her responses is egregious. The comments about her hair style, appear to have been ignorant and her response was edifying, making that a worthy exchange.

The 2nd comment that challenged the integrity/objectivity of those who “picked” the children to appear on a news segment, seems equally protected. If the children were “all...people of color,” then the comment is no more “racist” than someone complaining about an all white male news crew. People notice such things and noticing such an imbalance is not, in and of itself, “racist.”

Still, Ms. Lee’s responses, in both cases, appear to be both measured and professional. The fact that the Station left them up would seem to show that they clearly had no issue with the content of her responses.

Our ONLY issue with Ms. Lee is over her capitulation to the hyper-sensitivities of political correctness in seeking to expunge communications she would deem “offensive.” Her responses were edifying and represented both herself and the Station she worked for well. We believe that MORE communication is always better than LESS, even when, perhaps ESPECIALLY when such communication gets difficult, even tendentious.

So, WTSB’s firing Ms. Lee over a social media policy the station apparently has against responding to viewer's comments, seems both misguided and wrong, especially considering that the comments in question were directed specifically at Ms Lee and her responses were both positive and professional.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Truth About What’s Coming Along With Our Attempts to Avoid “The Fiscal Cliff”

There’s a GREAT, albeit FRIGHTENING article in today’s (Friday, November 23rd, 2012) Wall Street Journal, written by by Holman Jenkins. It's titled None Dare Call It Default (http://professional.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324352004578136931848743300.html?_nocache=1353809241142&user=welcome&mg=id-wsj&mg=reno64-wsj)

This is a MUST READ, especially for ALL current and future Civil Servants (cops, firefighters, teachers, etc.) because it clearly explains what “entitlement reform” will mean to YOU and I.

Many public sector workers (especially state and city workers) don’t believe such “entitlement reforms” will impact us much at all, perhaps some cuts in Social Security, some reductions in Medicare, or at the least some increased costs, BUT few accept the very painful reality that more and MORE local Municipalities (states & cities) will be forced into bankruptcy to escape the pension obligations they over-promised to public sector workers!

Jenkins starts out by explaining what the “fiscal cliff” IS and isn’t; America's fiscal cliff is an artificial crisis. We have no trouble borrowing in the short term. But at some point the market will demand evidence that long-term balance is being restored. President Obama said in his first post-election press conference that he doesn't want any proposals that "sock it to the middle class." He knows better. A long-term socking is exactly what's coming to the middle class, which must pay for the benefits it consumes.”

Then noting that a few years back a 50% federal tax hike would continue to fund BOTH our current AND future entitlement expenditures, but that, Today, a 50% tax increase would be needed just to meet the government's current spending, never mind its future obligations.”

He then notes that, “One way or another, then, entitlements will be cut. Don't call it default. The correct term is entitlement reform.”

Jenkins wryly notes, “You saw this day coming and saved for your own retirement... Taxpayers accept the risk of future tax hikes that may make the decision to save seem foolish in retrospect.”

Now THIS is the part of “entitlement reform” that will undoubtedly impact public sector workers – the “money shot”; “According to economists Robert Novy-Marx and Josh Rauh, state and local taxes would have to increase by $1,385 per household immediately to make good the pension promises to state and local workers, including firefighters and cops. That's not going to happen given all the other demands on taxpayers. Default, in this case, is the proper word for cities and states using bankruptcy to repudiate their pension obligations.”

Did you get that last part?

The cost per household (nearly $1400/year above the other increases to fund Obamacare, Medicare, Social Security, etc.), is NOT going to happen!

Jenkins is only the FIRST to honestly note that cities and states will be left with ONLY ONE option related to deal with these over-extended pension promises – Municipal DEFAULT, or "bankruptcy," which will able them to “repudiate their pension obligations.”

As for the “free lunch” of “Obamacare,” again, Jenkins tells the stark truth that NO politician will; Under the Paul Ryan plan, the affluent would pay more. Under the Obama plan, the affluent would flee Medicare to escape the waiting lists, shortages and deteriorating quality as Washington economizes by ratcheting down reimbursements to doctors and hospitals. Don't call either default. You don't have a legally enforceable right to the free care you imagined you were promised.”

Jenkins adds, “Don't go running to a judge when this doesn't pan out. The courts do not overrule changes in government policy just because citizens find their promised free lunch isn't forthcoming. Nor will it be fruitful to appeal to politicians' sense of "fairness." Politicians can be relied on to do what will get them re-elected. And, believe it or not, that is the good news.

“If politicians weren't eager to be re-elected, the trust necessary to be an investor would vanish altogether.”

The only thing I disagree with that seems implied here is that things might have been different under Romney/Ryan.

But how could they have been?

The fiscal realities were going to be the same, the “fiscal cliff” would STILL be looming. Romney/Ryan offered Americans a bitter pill, one that was highlighted by the likes of Scott Walker in Wisconsin.

NOW, Democrats are going to eagerly sign onto policies that will deliver EVERYTHING that Holman predicts, but try and blame it all on the miserly Republicans “driving a hard debt deal.”

The plain truth IS that we’re all in for some unprecedented pain and a future of paying much more and getting back much less in “entitlements.”

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