We Americans Are Suckers for More – It Does Not Matter If We Have No Evidence

Every time I think we have learned all the tricks politicians can use to magically “fix” problems with more government, we fall for another trick.

If you pay good money to gain admission to a magic show, you pay for illusions; you insist on being amazed by apparent lapse of the rules of nature; you yearn for certain laws of the universe to be suspended or repealed.  But then you leave the tent, make your way home, and find that physics and gravity persist.

However, if we are convinced of our beliefs and persuasions, a claim of “new and improved,” continues to work on our commercial-conditioned minds.

Are you mad about the economy?  Forget the promises to mend the future.

And guess what?  All this time, the answers to the problems that have infuriated us have waited in the hearts of the next candidate.  Pay no mind that the incumbent told us to have faith, be hopeful, to fear not.

Should we not be alarmed when told to “hold the course,” while we fix the problems caused by the “course?”

It is clearer and clearer to me why Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have risen to smite the “Pharisees” of both political sects:  Americans are exhausted by a river of blatant lies.

We are fed up with smiles that promise relief, but portend more pain.  We are cheering and voting for “you can keep your doctor” then sobbing at the higher costs, and the evaporating choices we face. We are livid at fairy tales that we can borrow the ransom to redeem our children from poverty through college.  We are incensed at proclamations of higher employment when our diets grow meager, and our prospects grow dimmer.

The old guard’s grasp for power may well be their undoing.  Their elite pretense of empathy may lead the plebeians to throw off the chains of their indentures.  The smugness of avarice, and the pleasance of entitlement can breach the comity of our unique American social contract.  The American promises to promote equity of opportunity, and commitment to liberty have been a bold experiment.  Our failure could prove to the rest of the world that there is no truth to our declaration of “unalienable rights” and “pursuit of happiness.”

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LGBT Concealed Licenses No Help

Most Americans take safety for granted. We walk around unaware of our surroundings; we even text while driving. Once in a while, the real world shouts a painful “wake up!” We pay attention for a while; then we drift back into a kind of entertained stupor, absorbed in virtual attractions.  Even intense vigilance and gun laws would not have saved the patrons of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando from the insane security officer who attacked them.  I cannot say what family, community, religious, or mental health resources might have identified, diverted, and redirected Omar Mateen’s mindset to health and tolerance.  

News of unpredictable, random madness creates justifiable hysteria, especially if it is threatening to people like you.  Since the massacre, many LGBT people are buying guns, and seeking concealed hand gun licenses. This is a completely understandable reflection of the community’s generalized fear of attack by “misogaynists,” and religious extremists; naturally, they feel the pressing need for self-defense against such deadly assault. Many have joined millions of Americans who have chosen to be armed citizens. I support their decisions and encourage them to seek professional training, and practice diligently until they can respond to danger effectively. Just owning a gun will not protect you.  (See my recent blogs for more ideas.)

 Alcohol, sex, and early hours are a dangerous combination under any circumstances;  add lethal weapons and really bad things happen. 

Licensed gun owners are prohibited from carrying weapons into bars and clubs that get 51% or more of their revenue from alcohol. Usually signs are posted with a watermark “51%” and tiny text to explain the prohibitions. Also, in Texas, the police  have zero tolerance for drinking alcohol while carrying a weapon.  

In other words, the club in Orlando was off limits to legal guns, and most or all of the patrons were disqualified to carry after they left the club. So,licenses, weapons, and expertise with guns would not have thwarted the tragedy in Orlando.

Obama Gives Employers Lagniappe

Did your company drop your health insurance?  Wait until you find out the rest of the story.

Investigators in the Department of Labor were shocked to find that President Obama gave employers a year to pick and choose who gets health insurance.

That’s right; the seemingly innocuous exemption of employers from the Affordable Care Act has given businesses with thousands of employees “Carte Blanche” to ignore decades of legislative efforts to protect employees from benefit discrimination.

For the year 2014 employers may provide health insurance to top management and deny health insurance to the rank and file.

Yes, last week officials at the Department of Labor confirmed that President Obama gave the green light to drop health insurance for any employees they choose not to cover.

The Department of Labor reported that a business, employing thousands of workers, is within the law to keep health insurance benefits for management and cancel coverage for the rest of the employees.

The one-year exemption from the “Affordable Care Act” lets businesses cut anyone they want from their group health insurance benefits.

Department of Labor enforcement agents were embarrassed to admit that they were powerless to stop businesses, with thousands of employees, from dropping health insurance for most of their employees while keeping coverage for selected management and administrative staff.

After pursuing several complaints, a DOL investigator declared, “The whole department was shocked and dismayed to find that this exemption allows employers to undo decades of anti-discrimination efforts.”

If you are one of the myriad employees who are left with no health insurance, look again at the government and laws you counted on to protect your rights.  Nothing you were promised is true.

Three Approaches to Crime

Why are the lamest notions floated as rhetorical questions?

Imagine anything we dislike, disapprove, or fear: murder, rape, robbery, war, racism, sexism, blah, blah, etc.

Why not train people not to do them? We do. That is what society does. If everyone learned what we were taught is right, when we were growing up, we would not need to worry.

  • Why not teach murders not to kill?
  • Why not teach rapists not to rape?
  • Why not teach robbers not to rob?

Are you kidding? Welcome to the world. Those things have existed, and will exist in every human culture on earth.

Out responses have taken every form possible since the dawn of time. What evolved is what works best; none of our methods is perfect, and most of our methods take three forms:

  1. Pain – Penalties after the fact.
  2. Obstacles – Decrease chances of success
  3. Aversion – Decrease the appeal

No one of these forms is enough, in fact all three forms are necessary to deal with problems of human nature.

Penalties exact a price from those caught after the fact; public condemnation, fines, confinement, restrictions, exile, punishment, execution, all apply. Law enforcement is integral to holding violators to account. Merely the cost of the perpetrator’s defense is so immense that it serves as a financial penalty. For some, these prices serve as deterrents; (to people who might consider adopting these behaviors); for others, paying these prices deters them from repeat infractions; for the rest, no price will deter them except death.

Obstacles can slow, reduce, or divert the impact of the actions. Security systems, guards, walls, fences, weapons, patrols, raise barriers an offender must overcome to succeed.

Aversion is advance exposure to consequences to lower the likelihood that culprits will want to pay the price to do us harm.  Aversions act like inoculations against disease.

Every wise person, family, neighborhood, community, and nation invests in all three approaches. Suggesting that a society can educate asocial and antisocial deviants out of their proclivities instead of educating and preparing the good members to prevent, prepare, and take action to thwart crime, is asinine.

How effective do you think it would be to plan to teach criminals not to have or use weapons in the commission of their crimes? And how wise would it be take all defensive weapons away from the law-abiding citizens, thinking criminals would give up their weapons?

Violence is part of our human nature. I know of no country that did not need to cope with and manage violence through the three methods described here. I know of no country that ever stopped violence with only talk.

Alinsky Would Be Proud Of Our President

“8. Keep the pressure on with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.
9. The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinsky

Once again, the President is using non sequitur, incongruous logic in an attempt to ban or reduce the weapons of armed Americans.

With more than 300 million guns in the country, and with no attention given to the crimes prevented and the lives saved by innocent civilians, the wanna-be master of our lives is now proposing executive orders to “control” guns, and (finally) proposing $500 million to address the real issue, mental health.

I downloaded the entire text of the commissioned study (Research To Reduce The Threat Of Firearm-Related Violence) so as to quieten discounts by proponents of any position on the contents.  I have not verified the sources or conclusions of the study, but take them at face value.

Those willing to read the 121 pages of the study can download it free at: http://www.nap.edu/download.php?record_id=18319#.  Feel free to compare the tone and context of the quoted parts of the book.  I believe you will find I have not misconstrued or skewed the study.

According to this research document, there is no strong conclusive evidence that any current or proposed laws concerning guns would have any impact on tragedies cited by President Obama as cause for executive actions to control guns.  If anything, it supports emphasis on mental health as a high priority in reducing mass shootings, violent crimes and suicides.  It includes comments on violent video games as possible elements of youth violence.  (No outcry for game control?)

Unedited excerpts from the summary of the findings are telling.

Injuries and Fatalities

…Between the years 2000 and 2010, firearm-related suicides significantly outnumbered homicides for all age groups, annually accounting for 61 percent of the more than 335,600 people who died from firearm-related violence in the United States.6,7 The number of public mass shootings of the type that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School accounted for a very small fraction of all firearm-related deaths. Specifically, since 1983 there have been 78 events in which 4 or more individuals were killed by a single perpetrator in 1 day in the United States, resulting in 547 victims and 476 injured persons (Bjelopera et al., 2013)….”

Suicide

…The public health burden of suicide varies by subpopulation. Males are more likely than females to die by suicide, and firearms are the most common method of suicide for males (CDC, 2012a). Between 2005 and 2010, firearm suicide rates were greatest for whites, followed by blacks, American Indians/Alaskan Natives, and Asians/Pacific Islanders.24 More- over, certain age groups are associated with higher suicide rates. In 2009, suicide was the third leading cause of death for American youth between the ages of 15 and 19 (Heron, 2012), but overall firearm suicide rates were highest for individuals over the age of 75 between 2005 and 2010.25 In contrast to urban areas, rural areas tend to have lower rates of firearm homicide and higher rates of firearm suicide; this urban-rural disparity is, however, not evident for non-firearm suicide (Branas et al., 2004; Hirsch, 2006; Singh and Siahpush, 2002).

In 2010, firearms were used in the majority of the 38,364 suicide deaths in the United States (Hoyert and Xu, 2012). A wide array of other lethal measures, such as hanging, suffocation, and jumping from heights, are available for suicide. For example, between 2005 and 2009, for every 100 suicide attempts in which a firearm was used, more than 83 ended in death, but the fatality rate for suffocation was similar, at almost 80 per 100 (CDC, 2013b). Because firearms are only one lethal method for committing suicide, it is not clear how public health initiatives to reduce firearm-related suicides will affect the total public health burden of suicide. Further, it is not understood how frequently firearms are associated with premeditated or impulsive suicides. Therefore, additional data about context of suicides are required to develop and evaluate interventions that are designed to reduce the burden of firearm-related suicides and suicides in general…”

Demographic Characteristics of Victims in the United States

There are major disparities among subpopulations of people in the United States in terms of mortality rates from firearm violence. The patterns for homicide and suicide are vastly different depending on economic conditions and geography, with homicides occurring more frequently among youth in high-poverty urban environments and suicides occurring more frequently among middle-aged males in rural areas. Inclusive of homicide, suicide, and unintentional death, African American males have the highest overall rate of firearm-related mortality: 32 per 100,000,8 twice that of white, non-Hispanic males (at 16.6 per 100,000),9 and three times that of Hispanic and American Indian males (at 10.410 and 11.811 per 100,000, respectively).  The rate of mortality by firearm for Asian/Pacific Islander males is 4.2 per 100,000.12   The rates of mortality for females are much lower, ranging from a low of 0.6 per 100,000 for Asian/Pacific Islander females13 to 3.3 per 100,000 for African American and 3.0 for white, non-Hispanic females.14

Mass Shootings

According to the Congressional Research Service, public mass shootings “have claimed 547 lives and led to an additional 476 injured victims” since 1983 (Bjelopera et al., 2013, pp. 7-8). Mass shootings are a highly visible and moving tragedy, but represent only a small fraction of total firearm-related violence. Although it may seem that protection against such an event is nearly impossible, proactive law enforcement activities, including community policing and intelligence-led policing, may help prevent some mass shootings (Bjelopera et al., 2013). Analyzing the details of a prevented event against those of a realized event might provide guidance to schools and other locations with large groups of people about efficient and effective ways to avoid such an event. Proactive mental health risk assessment and interventions may also prevent some mass shootings. It is also apparent that some mass murder incidents are associated with suicides (Bell and McBride, 2010). However, the characteristics of suicides associated with mass murders are not understood.”

Applying Public Health Strategies to Reducing Firearm Violence

….Motor vehicle–related injury reduction provides a useful analogy for using a public health approach to a problem that also has criminal justice considerations. For example, in both motor vehicle and gun use, there is a need to balance health and safety with the practical reality of a potentially dangerous tool that is embedded in U.S. society.

Efforts to reduce motor vehicle–related injuries were limited initially to improving driver skills (licensing in the 1930s) and evolved to include safety technology (collapsible steering columns, shatter-resistant glass, and seat belts in the 1950s and 1960s). This approach resulted in a multi-faceted effort based on

  • thorough data analysis and surveillance systems—tracking trends and patterns in injuries and identifying research questions;
  • performance standards—setting safety standards for vehicles;
  • research in behavioral human factors and engineering—examining the host, agent, and environment (injury mechanisms, crashworthiness, vehicle safety countermeasures, road characteristics);
  • state and local programs addressing equipment and human factors such as fatigue and alcohol; and
  • public education and law enforcement programs.

A similar multifaceted program, through the development of a public health research agenda, is needed to ultimately reduce the burden of gun violence…”

Sources of Guns

To address the criminal misuse of firearms leading to death or injury, it is important to understand how “firearms move from lawful commerce into the hands of criminals” (ATF, 2011, p. i). A survey of gun owners between 2005 and 2010 found that an average of 232,400 guns were stolen each year (Langton, 2012). Although research in the 1980s suggested that criminals acquired guns primarily through theft (Wright and Rossi, 1986), more recent prisoner surveys suggest that stolen guns account for only a small percentage of guns used by convicted criminals (Harlow, 2001; Zawitz, 1995). It is, however, unclear whether prisoners are willing to admit to gun thefts in government-conducted surveys. According to a 1997 survey of inmates, approximately 70 percent of the guns used or possessed by criminals at the time of their arrest came from family or friends, drug dealers, street purchases, or the underground market (Harlow, 2001). Another 14 percent of those surveyed bought or traded guns at retail stores, pawnshops, flea markets, or gun shows (Harlow, 2001). However, some experts question the validity of commonly used research methodologies for identifying crime-gun-trafficking prevalence, arguing that trafficking is more closely associated with gun scarcity than inappropriate acquisition from licensed gun dealers (Kleck and Wang, 2009). A better understanding of the validity of different methods to evaluate the sources of crime guns would help inform policies aimed at disrupting the flow of guns to criminals.”

In summary, the results of the research commissioned by President Obama do not support laws that restrict the type of guns and ammunition citizens acquire legally.  The rarity of mass shootings and the disturbed mentality and motivations of the shooters make the comments and proposals for control seem suspiciously political and not beneficial to Americans.

 

Download the full text of Rules for Radicals at: file:///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/Rules_for_Radicals.pdf

 

Just in case the reader is not familiar with Saul Alinsky and his writings, here is a summary of his most famous book.  http://www.scribd.com/doc/24986505/Summary-of-Saul-Alinsky-s-Rules-for-Radicals

 

“Saul Alinsky’s “Rules For Radicals” explained Union organizers are often highly trained. In many unions this training includes indoctrination in Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals.

“Saul Alinsky was a ruthless radical organizer.  He would stop at nothing to win.  Before he passed away in 1972 he published a book called “Rules for Radicals” in which he outlined his power tactics and questionable ethics.

Anyone interested in staying, or becoming, Union Free, whether in an organizing campaign or in a decertification or deauthorization election, ought to become familiar with these rules.

This can be very valuable information.  As one expert observer points out “Rules for Radicals are reversible and can be used against the Left.

“Here’s a brief summary of the rules.

We are indebted to the Public Service Research Foundation for this information.

 

Rules for Power Tactics:

  1. Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.
  2. Never go outside the experience of your people.
  3. Whenever possible, go outside of the experience of the enemy.
  4. Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.
  5. Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.
  6. A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.
  7. A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.
  8. Keep the pressure on with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.
  9. The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.
  10. The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.
  11. If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counter side.
  12. The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.
  13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

 

Because Alinsky was sensitive to criticism that he wasn’t ethical, he also  included a set of rules for the ethics of power tactics. You can see from these why his ethics were so frequently questioned.

 

Rules to test whether power tactics are ethical:

  1. One’s concern with the ethics of means and ends varies inversely with one’s personal interest in the issue.
  2. The judgment of the ethics of means is dependent upon the political position of those sitting in judgment.
  3. In war the end justifies almost any means.
  4. Judgment must be made in the context of the times in which the action occurred and not from any other chronological vantage point.
  5. Concern with ethics increases with the number of means available and vice versa.
  6. The less important the end to be desired, the more one can afford to engage in ethical evaluations of means.
  7. Generally, success or failure is a mighty determinant of ethics.
  8. The morality of means depends upon whether the means is being employed at a time of imminent defeat or imminent victory.
  9. Any effective means is automatically judged by the opposition to be unethical.
  10. You do what you can with what you have and clothe it in moral garments.
  11. Goals must be phrased in general terms like “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, “Of the Common Welfare,” “Pursuit of Happiness,” or “Bread and Peace.”

 

And why do I mention Alinsky?  Because of his influence on both Hillary Clinton, and Barrack Obama.

http://rense.com/general80/fon.htm

I found references to a thesis Hillary Rodham wrote in her senior year at Wellesly College, “There Is Only the Fight . . . “: An Analysis of the Alinsky Model” Here is a link to the text.

http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2013/04/hillary-clintons-1969-thesis-on-saul.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Sex Assigned at Birth” – A New Standard in Weirdness

I am an advocate of precise language; this invention moves in the other direction: “Sex Assigned at Birth?”  The Williams Institute published an article, “Transgender Military Service in the United States” by Gary J. Gates and Jody L. Herman May 2014.

I am not fond of the passive voice title.  Usually, politicians and those who wish to avoid responsible attributions use passive voice to make impassioned anonymous distinctions.  Now we have “scientists” (I am not sure what profession-identity the authors of this study feel.)

Right away, I was underwhelmed by a research paper that did not rely on original work; instead the authors added together results from several existing studies.  (I do similar things all the time, I just do not call them “studies,” or “papers.”)

The authors relied on the broad definition of transgender and the data offered by the National Transgender Discrimination Survey: “those whose gender identity or expression differs from those traditionally associated with their assigned sex at birth. This includes, but is not limited to, those who self-identify as transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and cross-dressers.”

As this study focuses on the military community, we are reminded that military medical policies lay out exclusions and medical discharges from military service for what are deemed to be “psychosexual disorders,” including transsexualism, cross-dressing, or a history of gender transition.

A different approach was the use of the “precise estimate.”  This study compiles the responses of 6,546 people to 70 questions in a survey.  900 organizations helped distribute the questionnaires.  The results are a self-labeled “estimate” of 15,500 active, and 134,300 retired “transgender” members of the US military. (Personally, if I were doing an extrapolated estimate, I would have chosen 150,000, a nice round number.  When I was in the Army all I can remember is the lack of discrimination in digging latrines in the field.  Barracks bathrooms were just partition-less rows of toilets, sinks, showers, and urinals)

I guess the serious part of the study floated by my attention when the term “Sex Assigned at Birth” struck me as seriously pompous.  Really?  By whom, or what are we “assigned” our gender?  (God, Angels, demons, spirits, fairies, unicorns, genes?)  Why not use “apparent,” “seeming,” “physical,” “alleged,” or “supposed” sex?

Also, “tsk, tsk, tsk” to the study design, execution, and resulting statistics.  Dozens of attempts to quantify the “LGBT?” population point to 3-4% as the maximum number in the USA.  As to all “others’” and “other’s” sexual persuasions, I wish them love in their relationships.  I have been part of communities that included and accepted all sexual preferences without fanfare.  I attended a few “pre-legal” marriages of men to men in the late eighties, the nineties, and the “ought’s.”  Even growing up in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, I never faulted people for their choices of mates.  I find myself in the plain, old-fashioned, “look-down-to-see” grouping.