Friday, December 14, 2012

The Massacre in CT - Causes and Effects

The National Conversation on the CT massacre
Why Does God allow evil?

There are multiple layers worthy of discussion when mass human tragedies occur.  I've linked to two layers above which speak to a political discussion on "gun control" and "evil".  Two very hot buttons in American politics today which have very divergent audiences.  Here are my observations. 
  The first is gun control.  As Mr. Levin so ably notes, the bodies of the victims of this senseless attack were still lying in the school when political attacks on gun ownership began in the usual quarters of the American Left.  (See David Frum, Mayor Bloomberg, et al.)  No sense of propriety for the families of the victims from the likes of these.  No waiting for the full story to emerge before shooting their mouths off.  "Shoots first, aims later" much?  For what purpose?  To motivate people when their emotions are rawest and elicit emotional responses for their own politics, regardless of the scale of the human tragedy.  This is a common tactic on the Left, BTW.  The name I use for these kinds of people are ghouls.  I believe their most honest spokesman in this regard is the former White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel who famously stated "You never want a serious crisis go to waste".  Apparently Progressives were listening.  This demonstrates an utter and callous disregard for the victims and their families who are just beginning to deal with the scope of this tragedy at the personal level.  I believe this serves two purposes.  First, it promotes the political goal of curtailment of the Second Amendment by attempting implementation "reasonable" encroachments on American's right to bear arms as enshrined in our Constitution.  The second purpose is to redirect blame from the actor to the tool.  If the media chorus all proclaim the universal evil of civilian gun ownership as the root cause of this act, it masks the true cause, that of evil in the heart of the killer.  When we look at garden variety murderers, there are usually the same common motivators, greed, lust, envy and hatred.  The act of murder itself is generally accompanied by the actor's ingestion of mind-altering substances and/or alcohol.  The victims are generally known to the perpetrator and there are usually indicators that violence is in the making before the act occurs.  Parracide is in a class of its own as is child murder.  For someone to commit these acts alone, much less simultaneously, demonstrates that they are either very high on mind altering substances or they are insane, or both.  Insanity has a variety of causations from genetics, to brain damage, to disease and medication and one which gets scant attention from the MSM today, evil.  I'm not prepared to get into a theological exegesis on the culpability of a human being with respect to their actions from insanity versus evil.  I am prepared to discuss the overarching reason that events like this massacre occur at all.  See the second link above for background.  God "allows" evil because if he didn't we humans would not truly have free will.  We were created to be independent actors with free will and free choice, with the hope that we would see the infinite wisdom of loving and worshiping Almighty God.  As there exists infinite love, there must also exist infinite hate, or what we humans perceive as "evil".  What was demonstrated at that schoolhouse today was pure evil, regardless of the human causation we attach to it.  The destruction of innocent children is rarely enjoined by theological authority.  While there are exceptions in the Old Testament, these were rare and for very specific transgressions by the whole society.  Thou shalt not kill (murder) is one of the Ten Commandments.  Transgression of this rule is, by definition, evil.  What can America "learn" from this random act of evil?  Several things, the foremost one being that "gun free zones" are merely a liberal created free-kill zone.  The military calls these soft targets because they are defenseless against attack.  These zones should be eliminated immediately and school staff should all be required to be proficient with firearms and required to possess them while on school grounds.  Second, America has a morality problem and we have strayed from the tenants which made us the greatest force for good in the 19th and 20th Centuries.  In the 1960's we lost our way and now we are reaping the fruit from abandoning God's law.  Unless/until we, as a People, turn back to the Lord, we will continue to see evil grow in severity and frequency in our great land.  May God have mercy on our souls.

Corporeal Punishment

In 2008 buried my Father and took the opportunity to purchase a video of the funeral. As I gave a heartfelt eulogy, I was later able to observe myself on resulting video footage. My doctor had told me last year that I was "moderately obese". I looked in the mirror and saw a little extra weight around the middle, but I was unprepared for the video of how I appeared to the rest of the world. Studies have been done which prove that women look in the mirror and see themselves as less attractive than others around them do. Men, however, have the opposite reaction and see themselves as more attractive than anyone else does. Apparently my "beautification filter" is set on maximum because what I see in the mirror is NOT what was visible on the video to everyone else.  Maybe it is that old saw that the camera adds twenty pounds I used to hear actresses say?   I draw the line at a double chin!! BTW, what's for dessert?

Another thing which struck me about the video was attitude. My Father had a lot of friends. The closest friends he had were blessed by great attitudes. They were professionally successful and even at my Father's age, still blessed with great health and a quick mind. His best, lifelong friend was a retired airline pilot who, in his own "old school way" professed his love for my Father and his family. Another friend, who was not at the funeral, is a mountain man who built his own log cabin in the woods of Oregon. I had the privilege of going on an outing with my Mother and Father and some other family in October '07 in the mountains of Oregon to a place called Sumpter. We just happened to run across this mountain man who remains in excellent physical and mental condition. He related that he went to a doctor for a checkup and they found a blockage in his carotid artery which they removed with angioplasty. He was told he had the heart and body of a 40 year old in every other respect. He was in his late 60's at the time. He was far from a tea-totaler, but he kept himself in shape. The differences, in every aspect, between my Father and this man could not have been starker. But they were the same chronological age. The two fundamental difference between these two men were attitude about life and exercise. Research continues to substantiate the manifold health benefits from regular, moderate exercise for one's entire life. Both in body and mind.
In contrast, my Father seemed to get bitter the past few years of his life. As he slipped from middle to old age, he was in a lot of physical and mental pain. He took this pain out on the women closest to him, namely my Sister and my Mother. And it took a physical toll on him as well. All of the "hard living" siblings of my Father, save one, have already passed on. My Father always smoked two packs a day of Camel, unfiltered, but when his lungs stopped working so well, he became a chain smoker, to keep the necessary nicotine levels up. He also drank beer from breakfast on. It's actually a wonder that he stayed alive as long as he did. You could see the ravages of time on him. He went from carrying too much weight to a fragile old man in just a few short years. When we were walking around in Sumpter, he had to sit every hundred feet or so and catch his breath. This from the man who used to take me deer and elk hunting in the mountains of Eastern Oregon, hiking for hours at a time. Even his elder Brother who was with us and who is 12 years older than my Father was getting around better. It was very hard to watch.
Which all brings me back to the title of this post. Apparently I need to lose some weight, and keep it off. This is difficult in a household of chocolate & dessert lovers. My wife is an exceptional cook, but she cooks in the way of her Mother, with real butter and lots of it. I'm going to have to learn and enforce portion discipline. In the land of the triple-meat bacon cheese burger, of which I am used to indulging, this will be a difficult challenge indeed. But my physical well-being depends upon it. I want to be around to torment the women in my life longer than my Father was able to...Damn genetics!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Stupid Shall be Punished

Americans made a choice on November 6th, 2012 which will haunt what's left of the Republic for the foreseeable future.  While not yet evident to "the masses" who consume their political information from the traditional mainstream media, like Bill Maher and Letterman, all of the corruption, cronyism and devastation which have been brought to this Country by the current administration are only the beginning.  What we as a nation are about to endure will be truly hideous.  As has been written time and time again, when a nation turns away from God, God turns away from that nation.  The most pertinent headline I read post-election morning concerning the election was that gay marriage made big gains in the US.  I believe this is antithetical to God's word and is symbolic of how evil many in our nation have become.  All the other bad things we see happening are ancillary and are effect for this one causation: we are no longer a morally upright majority nation.  We have all fallen and we refuse to get up.  Fallen into passive acceptance of open homosexuality in our mass media, open pornography in all forms of media, open racism and misogyny  in rap "culture", open-season on any supporter of traditional Judeo-Christian supporters, open support of Islam, continuation of fetal slaughter as a form of birth control, etc, etc.
   As has been stated in the past, they are the Ten Commandments, not the ten suggestions.  They are there for a reason.  These basic rules to living are the best ones which humankind can ever hope to achieve on this terrestrial plane.  All else is folly.  There is a tipping point upon which God deems a nation unredeemable and His wrath pours out: Paging Mr. Sodom, red courtesy phone.  I don't believe we're quite at that point...yet, but we are definitely starting to get warning signs that we're on the wrong path.  Hello, Sandy, hello Katrina, hello floods and fires galore!  Glo-bull warming is about the last thing we'll need to worry about if God withholds His grace from us.  But hey, we've all got four more years of Hopenomics now, so who needs God anyway.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

I'm DEFINATELY in the South

I've lived in Georgia for over five years now as this is written, but today it really came home to me that I live in the "Dirty South". Earlier this week my wife observed a reptilian manifestation on our back yard pond bank. As she is an avid animal lover, she is constantly feeding the ducks, geese, woodpeckers, cardinals, squirrels, rabbits, etc., etc., ad nauseum, this caused her great distress. Earlier this year we had to deal with another rodent infestation when we discovered trees began disappearing around the pond. Investigation revealed a Castor canadensis (North American Beaver) had taken up residence in the pond and in complete disregard for the housing crisis, decided to begin new construction, using organic building material from his neighbor's property. After a half-dozen trees had been harvested, a trapper finally brought an end to this nocturnal construction project. Now, a few months later, we get this! I'm all for saving the animals in their natural habitat...the zoo, not my back yard. So, we contacted the most powerful political force known in Georgia to correct this malfunction in suburbia, the DNR. As befits a large government bureaucracy, it took multiple phone calls to get to the right person. The right person turned out to be a freelance trapper who makes house calls.  He arrived one afternoon and listened to our story of the Godzilla-in-training in our back yard.  The trapper then proceeded to install modern man's most environmentally friendly, yet potent weapon against the mobile purse; the alligator trap.  This device was nothing more than a plastic pipe about 12" in diameter, about six feet long with a trapdoor at one end and a trigger in the other.  The trap was baited with some foul smelling roadkill and anchored to a tree on our pond bank.  The trapper gave us his office number and told us to call him when the creature was trapped.  We were also informed to never touch the trap, under pain of law, as it was a felony to interfere with said device.  So we ended the day optimistic that our reptilian troubles were at an end.  Did I mention this was a government operation?  The trap sat empty for about six months.  We made numerous attempts to contact the trapper and let him know his trap was no longer needed, as the walking wallet disappeared sometime in the intervening period.  The trapper would not return our calls, so when it came time to burn the bank of the previous year's overgrowth, the trap was a combustible casualty.  Apparently the trap was merely a write-off for the trapper, so everyone was a winner.  We, the public were placated, the trapper got a new trap, but didn't have the bother of actually dealing with an alligator and the DNR got another stat justifying their budget.  What's not to like?

Government can't be "too big", just ask them.

How Does America "Incentivise" Action? Monetize It!

If you want "more" of something in America, what's the best way to ensure you get it?  How does America incentivize people to create/accomplish greater and greater quantities of some thing or service?  Simple, we monetarily reward the doers and thinkers.  Henry Ford is credited with establishing the assembly line concept of production.  His insights into maximizing production helped to create the modern world of commercial goods we all take for granted.  Americans, like all cultures, love their music.  Beginning with Thomas Edison’s phonograph, the goal has been to make musical enjoyment cheaper and more convenient.  From spinning phonographic records to 8-track tape to cassettes, the goal of ubiquitous music for the masses kept getting closer.  With the advent of the digital revolution came MP3 players.  In January of 1998, the first commercially available portable digital player went on the market for $200.00 ($284.00 in 2012 inflation adjusted dollars).  Apple took this technology in part, and created the richest corporation in American history.  These are just some of the numerous examples of how capitalism has transformed the globe via the profit motive.  With this in mind, I asked what are some of our biggest problems nationally right now?
Remember the War on Drugs?  How is the war going?  How did we fight this war in the 80's?  Asset forfeiture.  Due to the extreme profits available in the drug trade, governments decided to allow the most successful law enforcement agencies to retain some of the equipment and profits seized from drug dealers.  This allowed the law enforcement agencies to maintain parity with their ultra-rich criminal elements.  Asset forfeiture is alive and well in America today.  In 2011, DOJ statistics revealed the US obtained over six billion dollars in asset forfeiture across the Nation.  I have personally seen this money used to train many state and local law enforcement professionals in many criminal investigative fields who would not have had the opportunities to learn without this valuable program.  This led me to conjecture on other possibilities of this powerful tool.
What if we extended the concept of asset forfeiture to economic crime (EC)?  One of the continuous refrains from our government is the amount of waste they will “recover” by eliminating fraud waste and abuse.  If this were so, then why do we still have so much of it in government programs?  It is estimated that 20 percent of every Medicaid dollar goes to fraud.1  The total spending on Medicaid in 2009 was $375 billion, 20% of that is $75 billion of potential fraud.  Why hasn’t the federal government gone after this money?  My personal belief is they don’t want to.  The more money pulled from the private sector and siphoned off to the public sector the better, in their opinion government can’t be “too big” even if it’s bad government.  But that’s another story.  Medicaid fraud is just one of the programs which could benefit substantially from my proposal.  I believe that intelligent application of a version of asset forfeiture would provide a self-sustaining loop of correction to this or any other economic criminal activity.  In theory, if a criminal investigation resulted in a recovery of funds from the defendants, including fines and/or asset forfeiture, I would allow the criminal investigators involved, as well as the organization and the prosecutor’s office to share a percentage of the assets recovered.  Including the prosecutor's office in this is key, the government's constant refrain is the case backlog compels the release of so many "non-violent" offenders.  The government claims they can't afford more courts to address this issue.  My proposal woud allow the capitalist spirit to be channeled through law enforcement and provide the means for further investigation and prosecution of more criminal acts.  Libertarians will howl that this will corrupt the police and increase malfeasance in their ranks.  Perhaps, but with this new paradigm we could also include an independent oversight mechanism based on the inspector general system, but with even more autonomy.  We must do something; the current head-in-the-sand approach is not going to work in the looming budget austerity all governments are facing.  This approach is tried and true, is self-funding and has the potential for saving billions of dollars of your and my money.  In America, if you want more of something, incentivise it, we did it for Medicaid fraud, let’s do it for law enforcement to combat this self-same fraud. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Restraint in the Face of the Enemy is Now Medal-worthy?

Read the following article, then my commentary.

Hold fire, earn a medal

By William H. McMichael - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday May 12, 2010 15:51:31 EDT

U.S. troops in Afghanistan could soon be awarded a medal for not doing something, a precedent-setting award that would be given for “courageous restraint” for holding fire to save civilian lives.

The proposal is now circulating in the Kabul headquarters of the International Security Assistance Force, a command spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

“The idea is consistent with our approach,” explained Air Force Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis. “Our young men and women display remarkable courage every day, including situations where they refrain from using lethal force, even at risk to themselves, in order to prevent possible harm to civilians. In some situations our forces face in Afghanistan, that restraint is an act of discipline and courage not much different than those seen in combat actions.”

Soldiers are often recognized for non-combat achievement with decorations such as their service’s commendation medal. But most of the highest U.S. military decorations are for valor in combat. A medal to recognize a conscious effort to avoid a combat action would be unique.

Consideration of such an award, first reported by an Associated Press reporter in Afghanistan, doesn’t mean that, if approved, troops would be pressured to prevent such casualties at risk to themselves, Sholtis said.

“We absolutely support the right of our forces to defend themselves,” Sholtis said. “Valuing restraint in a potentially dangerous situation is not the same thing as denying troops the right to employ lethal force when they determine that it is necessary.”

A spokesman for the 2.2 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars, the nation’s largest group of combat veterans, thinks the award would cause confusion among the ranks and send a bad signal.

“The self-protections built into the rules of engagement are clear, and the decision to return fire must be made instantly based on training and the threat,” said Joe Davis, a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. “The enemy already hides among noncombatants, and targets them, too. The creation of such an award will only embolden their actions and put more American and noncombatant lives in jeopardy. Let’s not rush to create something that no one wants to present posthumously.”

Giving a medal for restraint was proposed by British Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, ISAF’s Regional Command South commander, during a recent visit to Kandahar by Army Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Hall, the top U.S. enlisted member in Afghanistan, Sholtis said.

U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the ISAF commander, has placed a premium on preventing civilian deaths, having last year tightened the rules of engagement for air strikes and other combat operations in an effort to prevent fatalities. Such deaths build resentment among a populace the U.S. is trying to win over as part of its counterinsurgency strategy to simultaneously drive out the Taliban and strengthen Afghan government.

According to the United Nations, more than 2,400 civilians were killed last year, although estimates vary widely. From March 21 to April 21, 173 civilians were killed in Afghanistan — a 33 percent increase over the same period the previous year — according to the Associated Press, citing Afghan Interior Ministry figures.

-----------------

OK,

So in addition to peace-keeping, nation-building, gender-norming, alternative-lifestyle embracing and culture-bridging, American troops are now going to be judged and awarded on their ability to avoid conflict. Read that again: American MILITARY members are going to be judged by their ability to AVOID CONFLICT in a COMBAT ZONE. If you've never been exposed to left-wing moonbattery before, welcome to the modern statist's utopia. With this in mind, I've got to say I believe our military leaders are suffering from a paucity of vision on this issue. If restraining from using legal, authorized levels of force to protect civilians from any possible harm is laudable, I have a better solution. I have come up with a fool-proof 100% guaranteed way to prevent ANY civilian casualties. I'm amazed none of these highly trained and educated leaders have come up with this solution before, it's so simple. To completely ensure that NO CIVILIAN CAUSALITIES ever occur again, and as an added bonus, every servicemember currently in theater can obtain the coveted medal to be awarded by the Commander-in-Chief, namely the Leftwing Order of SurendER, or LOSER award. All this by simply unilaterally withdrawing all of our troops immediately! The calculus is simple: No troops = no causalities! The resulting bloodbath of civilians by Taliban/Al-Quaida, once American troops withdraw would be irrelevant at that point because we would not be responsible, so who cares, right? Although the article above states that "British Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, ISAF’s Regional Command South commander" suggested the brilliant idea behind the LOSER award, my guess is he got the idea from the French.