Monday, December 31, 2012

Conservatives understand the intellectual roots of conservatism better than progressives do, for obvious reasons, but we also understand the intellectual roots of progressivism better than progressives do. That is the case in no small part because progressives prefer to think of themselves as non-ideological pragmatists and empiricists, and they are immune to the irony that their just-the-facts pose is only an echo of vintage “scientific socialism” and related 20th-century ideologies with which our contemporary progressives claim to have no kinship. (I know a guy who wrote a book about that.) Progressives do not study Marx, Bismarck, Croly, or their other intellectual founding fathers, because they do not believe them to be their founding fathers — and also because many of them are kind of embarrassing.

But even though we study the Left’s thinkers, spend years in the universities they administer, and swim in the popular culture they dominate, conservatives still occasionally fail to appreciate critical aspects of the progressive tendency — especially the most attractive ones. Perhaps we should make a New Year’s resolution to better understand them, if not for reasons of charity and intellectual probity (we should always engage our opponents on their most meritorious arguments), then at least because doing so will help us to advance in the theater of ideas.

The political preferences that produced two terms for President Obama have been with us for a long time and will be with us long after the gentleman from Honolulu has completed the 82nd volume of his memoirs, and we would do well to better understand its attraction. The desire of one part of the population to live at the expense of another certainly is part of that, but conservatives are kidding ourselves if we think that the Democratic constituency consists entirely of freeloaders.

With that in mind, there are three ideas that should help guide conservatives’ thinking and policy prescriptions.

First: Progressives and those who sympathize with them are economically risk-averse compared with conservatives. As Charles C. W. Cooke recently pointed out, the terms “conservative” and “liberal” are sometimes confusing in the American context, and that is certainly true in the case of financial risk, about which conservatives are not conservative at all. As an academic study published in the American Journal of Business put it: “As the economic political orientation of the subjects in our study becomes increasingly conservative (meaning they lean more towards an economically libertarian position as opposed to an economically socialistic position), they assume significantly higher levels of risk in their investment decisions.”

Other studies find similar results.

There are many ways to measure financial risk tolerance, but consider this: One of the riskiest things you can do with your money is start a business, and entrepreneurs and small-business owners skew heavily Republican. The 2011 survey from the National Small Business Association found that 54 percent of the organization’s members identified as Republicans, while only 16 percent identified as Democrats; it is significant that more small-business owners identified themselves as independents in the survey than as

The Democratic party is in fact a coalition of financially risk-averse groups: Women, blacks, and Hispanics all exhibit a high degree of financial risk-aversion when compared with whites and men. Even when controlling for income, white households are more likely to invest in stocks and other relatively risky assets compared with non-white households, and men are more likely to invest in stocks than are similarly situated women, though those differences are somewhat diminished when accounting for net worth and education.

Black and Hispanic households, even when adjusted for income, are more likely to invest in low-risk, low-yield assets such as government bonds:
African-American households are particularly conservative in their investment style, preferring real-estate assets and insurance products to stock and bond investments. Even within these relatively more popular investment categories, however, the mean values for all categories of real-property investments across the African-American sample lie well below their corresponding values in white households. This trend persists across all income and education levels.

Likewise, women are more conservative, risk-averse investors than men are. They are also much less likely to be involved in starting a new business than men are — and not just in the United States, but around the world. Consider this from Werner Bönte and Monika Jarosch at the University of Wuppertal, Germany:
In this study we empirically investigate the contribution of personality traits to the gender gap in entrepreneurship. Our empirical analyses, which are based on data obtained from a large-scale survey of individuals in 36 countries, suggest that a group of personality traits which we call Individual Entrepreneurial Aptitude (IEA) has a positive effect on latent and nascent entrepreneurship among women and men. Moreover, women’s considerably lower level of IEA contributes significantly to the gender gap in entrepreneurship. The lower level of IEA is mainly due to women’s lower levels of competitiveness and risk tolerance. Furthermore, these results are confirmed by the results of a country-level analysis which show that the within-country variation of entrepreneurial activities of women and men is significantly related to within-country variation of IEA.
Single women are more financially risk-averse than married women, and likewise more likely to vote Democratic. While people who work for the government have an economic interest in voting for the party of big government, it also is probably the case that highly risk-averse people are attracted to government jobs, and that this same risk aversion attracts them to policies favoring a large, activist government for reasons other than narrow self-interest.

While we should be careful about over-generalizing the relationship between financial preferences and political preferences, some connections seem obvious. Social Security is a popular program across the board, but more popular among women than among men. Women are more likely to support benefit increases, less likely to object to Social Security taxes, and more likely to cite stability and security as a reason for supporting the program. Democrats have shrewdly attacked Social Security reform proposals as hostile to women’s interests, or to African-American women’s interests, as the context necessitates.
Social Security plays much the same role in the lives of these risk-averse Americans as do government bonds, CDs, or other low-risk, low-yield assets: They think of it as the ultimate money-in-the-bank investment. It is true that most people would be far better off if they spent their working lives investing the money they and their employers pay in Social Security taxes in a responsible, diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds, but conservatives are not going to get very far trying to explain the miracle of compounded returns to people who feel financially insecure. If our fellow Americans have different levels of risk tolerance than we do, that does not make them financially illiterate — it just makes them people with different levels of risk tolerance. And as conservatives, we should not discount the power and value of memory: Blacks and women were systematically excluded from full participation in the formal economy for a very long time, and it is understandable that their faith in the transformative and creative power of capitalism is not unqualified.

Where Democratic-leaning Americans go wrong is that they miscalculate the welfare state’s value as a tool of risk mitigation. Americans support the relatively low returns on Social Security for the same reason that Britons and Canadians broadly support their relatively low-quality government health-care systems: because of the mistaken belief that these programs will always be there for them. Better a low-return retirement “investment” in Social Security than no retirement income at all, that line of thinking holds, or one that is subject to the inherent risks of the market. Similarly, many Americans understand that a government-run health-care system will be less innovative than a market-driven one, that it will be inefficient, and that quality will suffer — and they prefer it still, on grounds that access to health care will be guaranteed.

Conservatives’ challenge is to make voters see that the risk-mitigation calculation behind support for the welfare state is erroneous and to propose reforms that do not threaten the guaranteed benefits that can be sustained. Unless our public finances are reformed, Social Security and Medicare most assuredly will not always be there for Americans. Paul Ryan is on the right track when he argues that his entitlement-reform plans are there not to abolish Social Security and Medicare but to ensure that the programs do not collapse.

While some immediate changes are going to have to be made in Social Security and Medicare in the near future, relatively painless reforms such as changing the formula for indexing benefits and slowly raising the eligibility age will do a great deal to shore up the finances of these entitlements.

Conservatives looking to make radical reforms would do well to consider the risk aversion of a great many American voters and offer policy proposals that supplement Social Security and Medicare rather than radically restructure them or (my own preference) eliminate them entirely. For instance, we might create an opt-out (rather than opt-in) supplemental private account in which 5 percent of a worker’s income is put into a simple index fund on the Roth IRA model, in which gains could accrue tax-free and which would be heritable. That second provision is critical: Unlike Social Security benefits, real savings can be passed along to children or other survivors, contributing to intergenerational wealth-building, which has the potential to greatly enhance the stalled socioeconomic mobility of persistently poor communities. The use of those funds probably would need to be limited to retirement, education, and some health-care expenses (such as paying insurance premiums), a paternalistic aspect that will offend libertarians but make reform on this model more politically palatable.

Conservatives are right to argue that a rising tide lifts all boats, but a bull market does not do a great deal of good to people who are not invested. Our economic policies should take that risk aversion into account if we want to bring in voters who share many of our values but lack our economic confidence. Which brings us to the second point.

Two: Progressives benefit enormously from the fact that economic inequality matters much more to Americans than conservatives like to admit. Without rehashing the entire Rawls–Nozick debate on justice and equality, we should appreciate the brute political fact that a great many people care very deeply about the issue of relative economic inequality. Given that there are signs that economic mobility is declining in the United States, those concerns grow more acute.

Conservatives have long focused on the problem of absolute economic status rather than relative status: We are not naturally interested in how much X has relative to Y, but whether we have created economic conditions in which X may thrive or, short of that, whether X has sufficient resources to avoid starving in the street. As conservatives see it, economic inequality is an inevitable and not necessarily undesirable feature of the same free economy that has given us the richest poor people in the history of the human race.

Conservatives appreciate that capitalism has produced widely shared wealth undreamt of until quite recently, meaning that Americans living in what we now call “poverty” are materially much better off than were middle-class Americans in the 1950s. When we think about the richest and highest-earning among us, we tend to admire them; the idea of “trickle-down” has always been a caricature of conservative economic thinking, but we do not believe that the economy is a zero-sum endeavor, either, and believe that (give or take the occasional Hilton heir or Kardashian) profit is generally a sign that somebody has produced something of social value. We scratch our heads when somebody describes wealth on the Steve Jobs or Bill Gates level as “obscene,” especially if that somebody is paying 60 grand a year for college tuition.

But at a certain level of national affluence, relative status starts to matter to people. Think of the American economy in terms of the Mercedes-Benz lineup: If you are struggling to get by, your thinking about owning a car is going to be mostly utilitarian — you need something inexpensive and reliable to get you to work, to take the kids to school, etc. You’ll care a great deal about fuel economy, insurance expenses, and other factors in the total cost of ownership. But if you’re in the market for a new Mercedes, basic performance, quality, and reliability are going to be assumed, and the differences between models are not for the most part utilitarian: A $36,000 C-Class will get you to work just as effectively as a $90,000 S-Class, and it’s a great deal more utilitarian and convenient than a $200,000 SLS. But those gull-wing doors must speak to somebody’s soul, otherwise Mercedes would not be able to sell the SLS for $200,000. And if a C-Class driver feels a little pang of desire when he pulls up next to an S-Class, that is not a sign of a character defect on his part: Aspiration is not the same thing as envy. But from an absolute point of view, figuring out how to move from an entry-level Mercedes to a high-end Mercedes is a pretty high-class problem to have.

Likewise, figuring out how to move up in one of the richest countries in the world is a problem that most of the people walking the earth today would love to have. Our appreciation of that fact sometimes encourages conservatives to in effect tell voters to eat their vegetables, because don’t you know kids are starving in China. At the same time, our celebration of capitalist successes and our appreciation of the vital role played by what we now call “job creators” (unfortunate phrase) blinds us to some important facts. Bill Buckley was no practitioner of class warfare, but he detected that there was something distasteful going on in a great many corporate boardrooms, and that in many cases those gigantic executive paychecks were utterly unrelated to business performance: “What dismays is the utter lack of class in such businesses and businessmen here parading their skills in distortion,” he wrote. “What is going on is phony. It is shoddy, it is contemptible, and it is philosophically blasphemous.” Such facts sting all the more when the middle class and the poor are facing diminished prospects and net worths savaged by the housing collapse.

The poor aren’t poor because the rich are rich, and conservatives of course have to keep reiterating this fact. But neither is it universally the case that the poor are poor because they are lazy or lack ambition, and while the position of the American middle class is the envy of much of the world, that position is tenuous for many Americans, and their anxiety is not to be dismissed lightly. There is of course a very large dose of unhealthy envy in our national discussion about inequality, but nobody who has seriously examined the relationship between politics and the economy (or real-world corporate governance, for that matter) could believe that merit and merit alone accounts for the diverging prospects of the very well off and the rest.

Republicans have for too long made holding down the top marginal tax rate their hill to die on, confirming in the minds of many voters the Democratic charge that the GOP is the party of the rich. Conservatives have an entire arsenal of good ideas for improving the lives of the middle class and the less well off, from encouraging savings and investing to reforming education, but none of those ideas brings out the fire in Republicans the way the top tax rate does. Do congressional Republicans sign a pledge to support school choice and tremble to break it?

Republicans are more libertarian in rhetoric than in practice; it would be better if it were the other way around. For a gifted orator such as Ronald Reagan, the language of freedom is uplifting and unifying; for a less gifted orator (say, one who decides to share eccentric theories about the biology of rape), the language of freedom can sound atomistic and Randian. In most conservative rhetoric, there is very little sense of solidarity, little sense that we are all in this together. (The subject of national security is an important exception.) To the extent that conservatives do invoke a spirit of solidarity in economic matters, it is too often in the form of yahooism regarding China, immigration, or trade. (Though Republican yahooism on the subject of the awfulness of foreigners who want to sell us things cannot hold a candle to recent Democratic yahooism on that subject.)

It is not entirely clear that there is a good policy option for encouraging the linkage of marriage and parenthood — the single most effective weapon we have against child poverty — but it would be beneficial (politically and substantively) if Republicans talked about that issue at least half as much as they do the 35 percent top tax rate. Indeed, it would be great if Republicans talked more about poverty in general than they do, given that conservatives have the better policy side of that argument. Instead, Republicans’ attitude toward the poor is too often something resembling contempt — witness the recent rhetoric regarding food stamps or unemployment benefits. The scandal is not that so many Americans use these benefits — the scandal is that they need them. Republicans not named Marco Rubio are not very good when it comes to talking about this sort of thing. Phil Gramm is one of the great American leaders, but “nation of whiners” is not a winning choice of words.

So, how do conservatives translate this into policy?

Three: Conservatives see people as assets, and progressives see people as liabilities. Marx and Engels may have hated Thomas Malthus and seen him as an apologist for the capitalist status quo, but the post-Marxist Left is thoroughly Malthusian. Conservatives see every individual as a potential butcher or baker, but progressives see him as a mouth to feed. Anybody who has spent much time arguing about abortion has seen the Left in full Malthusian mode, e.g.:
There’s no such thing as “taxpayer-funded abortion” because “taxpayer-funded abortion” saves the government money! . . .How is that? Because whenever a child is born into poverty — guess who picks up the tab? Who do you think pays the costs of the delivery at the hospital? Who do you think pays the costs of the public schooling? Who do you think pays for the health care? Who do you think pays for any potential criminal justice costs? (Children born into poverty to parents who have no business having children are more likely to grow up to commit violent and non-white-collar crimes.) Furthermore, it increases our nation’s already exploding population, resulting in increased pollution and environmental costs and higher prices for food, land, and other natural resources.
In a similar vein, abortionist Ron Virmani, being hassled by some pro-life activists, was refreshingly candid in his response: “Don’t put it on the taxpayers, okay?” he said. “I don’t wish to pay for the baby with my money.” He then challenged the pro-lifers to “adopt one of those ugly black babies.” (Really.) More sophisticated Democrats make a very similar argument, as when Jennifer Granholm charged that Republicans do not sufficiently commit to financially looking after unwanted children. Progressive favorite Ruth Bader Ginsburg covered much of the same ground: “Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.” Environmentalists, another key progressive constituency, are big on population control, too: Environmental groups ranging from the National Audubon Society to the Sierra Club either explicitly or tacitly endorse it; a former Sierra Club director describes the human race as “the AIDS of the Earth,” and, in case you are wondering where he stands, adds: “I make no apologies for that statement. Our viral like behavior can be terminal both to the present biosphere and ourselves. We are both the pathogen and the vector.” This is not fringe stuff from the Sixties, either: President Obama chose John Holdren, an acolyte of Population Bomb author Paul Ehrlich, to be his science adviser. From population control to peak oil, Malthus still looms large in the progressive imagination.

But that line of thinking is not always obvious. It is the Malthusian tendency that explains, among other things, Democrats’ remarkable enthusiasm for the General Motors bailout. In the progressive view, people are liabilities, mouths to feed — problems, in a word, and a job is one possible solution to that problem. It does not matter whether that job is in fact productive or the enterprise is economically viable: If there’s a paycheck coming every two weeks, then that liability is dealt with, at least for now. Thus the eternal progressive love affair with the WPA and other make-work programs. (They do not even get that the make-work fallacy is a fallacy.)

Conservatives, on the other hand, see every individual as a potential contributor to economic productivity. (In the coldest version of this, conservatives see people as indistinguishable from capital.) So we’re mystified by the desire to prop up GM when those workers could be put to use doing something more productive, and by the popularity of using protectionist measures to sustain otherwise moribund enterprises that lock up a great deal of potentially fruitful human capital. The capitalist cannot understand why anybody would want to waste good human resources on nonproductive activity; the Malthusian cannot understand why you wouldn’t.

Conservatives are not immune to the Malthusian temptation — it is behind much of my friend Mark Krikorian’s arguments against immigration. But it is in regarding people as assets rather than as liabilities that conservatives really have an opportunity to claim a great deal of what has long been progressive territory. Democrats are forever going on about making “investments” in education, infrastructure, health care, and the like, but of course they never propose any real investments, only transfers and spending. Conservatives who believe that people are assets also understand that these assets require investment to maximize their value, and, like our progressive rivals, we know that many of the most important investments to make are in education and health care. The difference is that we want to make investments in performing assets — assets that offer a real return. The doubling of national spending on education in recent decades has not produced any appreciable improvement in educational outcomes, but choice and market-driven reforms promise to drive scarce resources into the most productive uses. Simply directing more money into the market to chase the same supply of medical resources is not going to improve anybody’s health care, but creating an environment that encourages real investment (especially research-and-development funds) in health-care resources such as hospitals, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices will. Sensible tort reform greatly improves the value of investing one’s resources in a medical degree, as Texas and other forward-looking states have discovered.

It is a subtle but critical difference: The point of education is not to help students get a job and therefore take them off of our Malthusian liability rolls, but to give students the resources to produce something valuable, making them a national asset. Maximizing the return on human capital is probably more important than maximizing the return on financial capital — do the former and the latter will largely take care of itself. That should be conservatives’ guiding principle when it comes to education, health care, immigration, welfare, taxes, and a host of other issues.

Conservatives are rightly feeling a little glum after the 2012 election, but Americans are not fools, we do not want to be poor and vulnerable, and we have the resources to address even our most pressing economic concerns. In the end, good policies will win out. Consider:
Over the past 15 years a coalition of liberals and conservatives has brought in for-profit free schools in education, has sliced welfare to pay off the deficit, and has privatized large parts of the health service. 
[The country’s] economy continues to grow and its pro-business coalition has remained in power since 2006.
Where? Sweden. Sweden’s reform-oriented conservatives have been able to achieve a great deal not because they are moderate — they are quite radical by Swedish standards — but in part because they took the time to really understand their rivals’ motives and, unlike unsuccessful conservatives before them, did not treat their opponents’ concerns as illegitimate. Conservative reformers took into account Sweden’s egalitarian culture and its consensus-oriented politics rather than wage a Newt Gingrich–style armored assault. Consider:
Before winning the general election in 2006, Frederik Reinfeldt had learned lessons from the way the party was perceived at the previous election. The “Moderaterna” party had been previously seen as a party of right-wingers intent on threatening public welfare — a model recognized globally for its generosity and success in the post-war era. Bo Lundgren, the former Moderate leader, had proposed radical tax cuts and lost to the Social Democrat, Göran Persson. The stigma attached to the Moderaterna brand was an issue that Reinfeldt knew he must address. . . .Reinfeldt had made very important changes behind the scenes. Every promise that the Social Democrats had made on social-welfare spending, he promised to accept and improve. He switched focus on taxation from the rich to the low-waged in an effort to stimulate economic growth. He attacked unemployment benefits with increased incentives on making work pay more. He even increased the retirement age to 67 (sound familiar?).
What becomes even more remarkable about Reinfeldt’s success is that he managed it with the 2008 banking crisis. In the first quarter of 2011, [the] Swedish [economy] grew at 6.4 percent. It has falling unemployment and a budget surplus, alongside a public debt heading southwards of 40 percent GDP. Put this together with the fact that Sweden is the second most competitively ranked country alongside Singapore, and you wouldn’t be far off thinking that Sweden might belong with the Tiger economies of Southeast Asia.
None of this success has happened by accident or overnight. Sweden for too long had a bloated public sector and welfare benefits, which stagnated ambition. But Sweden has reinforced its economy with a huge growth in recent years in the private sector and manufacturing. Sweden today is famous not just for ABBA and Ikea, but also for high-quality design, defense, fashion, technology, and a high-skilled workforce.
All of which sounds good. (I have my doubts about that 6.4 percent growth number, which in any case is not where Sweden is now.) Awfully good, in fact. The Malthusians see a race to the bottom when it comes to global wages and manufacturing, but somebody forgot to tell Sweden (and Germany — and Boeing, Cummins, etc.).

Conservatives have a great deal to offer the American electorate, but some of our policies (and a good deal of our rhetoric) worry them. Yet we can take into account varying appetite for risk, address concerns about relative economic status, and make real investments in human capital while staying true to our principles. We will never win over the hardcore Left, but the hardcore Left is not what decides U.S. elections. Republicans who are concerned about winning the loyalty of the middle class should try to understand the many legitimate reasons many middle-class voters may have had for backing Obama again, as hard as that is to understand.

The despair caucus holds that everybody who voted for the Democrats in 2012 did so for a bad reason, and that the resentment-and-redistribution vote now commands a permanent majority. If I thought that were the case, I’d be learning Swedish. But I do not think that is the case.

— Kevin D. Williamson is a roving correspondent for National Review.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

I am closing down my Facebook Account

Facebook bans Gandhi quote as part of revisionist history purge

Thursday, December 27, 2012
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger

(NaturalNews) The reports are absolutely true. Facebook suspended the Natural News account earlier today after we posted an historical quote from Mohandas Gandhi. The quote reads:

"Among the many misdeeds of British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest." - Mohandas Gandhi, an Autobiography, page 446.

This historical quote was apparently too much for Facebook's censors to bear. They suspended our account and gave us a "final warning" that one more violation of their so-called "community guidelines" would result in our account being permanently deactivated.

They then demanded we send them a color copy of a "government issued identification" in order to reactivate our account. Our account was removed from suspension just minutes before InfoWars posted its article on this Facebook censorship, and the Facebook page is now functioning at:

This is a separate account from our primary Facebook account, which has nearly 250,000 followers at:

Logic is an enemy and history is a menace

That Facebook would choose to disable our account after we posted a Gandhi quote is incredibly shocking. The historical rise of oppressed Indian people against tyrannical British rule is apparently no longer allowed to be discussed on Facebook. The very IDEA of a free people overcoming tyrannical government rule now "violates community guidelines." The removal of this content is akin to online book burning and the destruction of history.

This post was not in any way malicious, nor encouraging violence, nor even describing guns or the Second Amendment. It merely reflected the words of one of our world's most celebrated rebel leaders who helped an entire nation throw off the shackles of oppression and British occupation. That Facebook would find this to "violate community guidelines" is nothing short of absolutely bewildering.

Here is the full image as originally posted on Facebook. Keep in mind that THIS is now considered unacceptable speech across the "Facebook community," where any number of people can openly call for the murder of the NRA president and have absolutely no action taken against them: is also now reporting that Facebook is running an across-the-board PURGE of pro-gun accounts. A huge number of accounts are all being systematically disabled or suspended, with all content being wiped clean.

We have entered the era of the Ministry of Truth from George Orwell's 1984 novel. And while Facebook assaults the First Amendment in America, Senator Feinstein is busy assaulting the Second.

Facebook declares war on human history

What's especially alarming about all this is that Gandhi himself was of course a champion of resistance against tyranny. To banish quotes from Gandhi is much like banning quotes of freedom from Martin Luther King (who also openly supported concealed firearms, by the way, and who personally owned an entire "arsenal" of firearms).

What's next? Will Facebook ban quotes by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington? Any and all patriots, founding fathers and liberty lovers throughout history might soon be stricken from the Facebook servers, and any who dare to post historical quotes supporting liberty, the Bill of Rights, or the Second Amendment risk having their accounts terminated and all content deleted.

Collectivist propaganda has now reached a point where you can't even discuss liberty or anything out of history that supported the right to keep and bear arms. You are required to stay focused solely on celebrity gossip, sports stars, fashion distractions and tabloid garbage. Anyone who wishes to discuss actual American history must now go underground and speak softly in dimly-lit rooms, behind secret walls and drawn curtains.

The era of total oppression and collectivist mind control has fully arrived in America. This is not hyperbole... IT IS HERE NOW.

Memorize this quote, because it too shall soon be purged from the internet:

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." - Thomas Jefferson.

Learn more:

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The absurdity of our laws and the free pass for liberal media Obama lapdogs - THIS IS A MUST READ!

A week ago on NBC’s Meet the Press, David Gregory brandished on screen a high-capacity magazine. To most media experts, a “high-capacity magazine” means an ad-stuffed double issue of Vanity Fair with the triple-page perfume-scented pullouts. But apparently in America’s gun-nut gun culture of gun-crazed gun kooks, it’s something else entirely, and it was this latter kind that Mr. Gregory produced in order to taunt Wayne LaPierre of the NRA.

As the poster child for America’s gun-crazed gun-kook gun culture, Mr. LaPierre would probably have been more scared by the host waving around a headily perfumed Vanity Fair. But that was merely NBC’s first miscalculation. It seems a high-capacity magazine is illegal in the District of Columbia, and the flagrant breach of D.C. gun laws is now under investigation by the police.

This is, declared NYU professor Jay Rosen, “the dumbest media story of 2012.” Why? Because, as CNN’s Howard Kurtz breezily put it, everybody knows David Gregory wasn’t “planning to commit any crimes.”

So what? Neither are the overwhelming majority of his fellow high-capacity-magazine-owning Americans. Yet they’re expected to know, as they drive around visiting friends and family over Christmas, the various and contradictory gun laws in different jurisdictions. Ignorantia juris non excusat is one of the oldest concepts in civilized society: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Back when there was a modest and proportionate number of laws, that was just about doable. But in today’s America there are laws against everything, and any one of us at any time is unknowingly in breach of dozens of them.

And in this case NBC were informed by the D.C. police that it would be illegal to show the thing on TV, and they went ahead and did it anyway: You’ll never take me alive, copper! You’ll have to pry my high-capacity magazine from my cold dead fingers! When the D.C. SWAT team, the FBI, and the ATF take out NBC News and the whole building goes up in one almighty fireball, David Gregory will be the crazed loon up on the roof like Jimmy Cagney in White Heat: “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” At last, some actual must-see TV on that lousy network.

But, even if we’re denied that pleasure, the “dumbest media story of 2012” is actually rather instructive. David Gregory intended to demonstrate what he regards as the absurdity of America’s lax gun laws. Instead, he’s demonstrating the ever greater absurdity of America’s non-lax laws. His investigation, prosecution, and a sentence of 20–30 years with eligibility for parole after ten (assuming Mothers Against High-Capacity Magazines don’t object) would teach a far more useful lesson than whatever he thought he was doing by waving that clip under LaPierre’s nose.

To Howard Kurtz & Co., it’s “obvious” that Gregory didn’t intend to commit a crime. But, in a land choked with laws, “obviousness” is one of the first casualties — and “obviously” innocent citizens have their “obviously” well-intentioned actions criminalized every minute of the day. Not far away from David Gregory, across the Virginia border, eleven-year-old Skylar Capo made the mistake of rescuing a woodpecker from the jaws of a cat and nursing him back to health for a couple of days.

For her pains, a federal Fish & Wildlife gauleiter accompanied by state troopers descended on her house, charged her with illegal transportation of a protected species, issued her a $535 fine, and made her cry. Why is it so “obvious” that David Gregory deserves to be treated more leniently than a sixth grader? Because he’s got a TV show and she hasn’t?

Anything involving guns is even less amenable to “obviousness.” A few years ago, Daniel Brown was detained at LAX while connecting to a Minneapolis flight because traces of gunpowder were found on his footwear. His footwear was combat boots. As the name suggests, the combat boots were returning from combat — eight months of it, in Iraq’s bloody and violent al-Anbar province.

Above the boots he was wearing the uniform of a staff sergeant in the USMC Reserve Military Police and was accompanied by all 26 members of his unit, also in uniform. Staff Sergeant Brown doesn’t sound like an “obvious” terrorist. But the TSA put him on the no-fly list anyway. If it’s not “obvious” to the government that a serving member of the military has any legitimate reason for being around ammunition, why should it be “obvious” that a TV host has?

Three days after scofflaw Gregory committed his crime, a bail hearing was held in Massachusetts for Andrew Despres, 20, who’s charged with trespassing and possession of ammunition without a firearms license. Mr. Despres was recently expelled from Fitchburg State University and was returning to campus to pick up his stuff. Hence the trespassing charge. At the time of his arrest, he was wearing a “military-style ammunition belt.” Hence, the firearms charge.

His mom told WBZ that her son purchased the belt for $20 from a punk website and had worn it to class every day for two years as a “fashion statement.” He had no gun with which to fire the bullets. Nevertheless, Fitchburg police proudly displayed the $20 punk-website ammo belt as if they’d just raided the Fitchburg mafia’s armory, and an obliging judge ordered Mr. Despres held on $50,000 bail. Why should there be one law for Meet the Press and another for Meet Andrew Despres? Because David Gregory throws better cocktail parties?

The argument for letting him walk rests on his membership of a protected class — the media. Notwithstanding that (per Gallup) 54 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the NRA while only 40 percent have any trust in the media, the latter regard themselves as part of the ruling class. Which makes the rest of you the ruled. Laws are for the little people — and little people need lots of little laws, ensnaring them at every turn.

This is all modern life is. Ernest Hemingway had a six-toed cat. The cat begat. (Eat your heart out, Doctor Seuss.) So descendants of his six-toed cat still live at the Hemingway home in Key West. Tourists visit the property. Thus, the Department of Agriculture is insisting that the six-toed cats are an “animal exhibit” like the tigers at the zoo, and therefore come under federal regulation requiring each to be housed in an individual compound with “elevated resting surfaces,” “electric wire,” and a night watchman. Should David Gregory be treated more leniently than a domestic cat just because when Obama tickles his tummy he licks the president’s hand and purrs contentedly?

There are two possible resolutions: Gregory can call in a favor from some Obama consigliere who’ll lean on the cops to disappear the whole thing. If he does that, he’ll be contributing to the remorseless assault on a bedrock principle of free societies — equality before the law. Laws either apply to all of us or none of us. If they apply only to some, they’re not laws but caprices — and all tyranny is capricious.

Or he can embrace the role in which fate has cast him. Sometimes a society becomes too stupid to survive.

Eleven-year-old girls fined for rescuing woodpeckers, serving Marines put on the no-fly list, and fifth-generation family cats being ordered into separate compounds with “electric wire” fencing can all testify to how near that point America is. But nothing “raises awareness” like a celebrity spokesman. Step forward, David Gregory! Dare the prosecutor to go for the death penalty — and let’s make your ammo the non-shot heard round the world!

Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is the author of After America: Get Ready for Armageddon. © 2012 Mark Steyn

Friday, December 28, 2012

Obama has never been and never will by my president

Barack Obama Is Too Arrogant To Lead In Times Of Tragedy

Written on Thursday, December 27, 2012 by

In times of tragedy, Americans cry out for leadership—leadership that is strong, empathetic, and comforting—leadership that gives them hope.  This is the type of leadership the victims of Superstorm Sandy and the families who lost loved ones in the Sandy Hook tragedy needed but did not get from President Obama.  Barack Obama practically ignored Sandy’s victims.  Other than his pre-election hug fest with New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christy, Obama did little to give the storm victims hope and comfort.  Instead, while they suffered the ravages of the storm—their difficulties magnified by a cold and wet winter—the president announced his plans for a four million dollar vacation in sunny Hawaii. When the Sandy Hook families looked to him for comfort and hope, he shed one obligatory tear and then turned the issue into a political squabble over gun control.

America’s president—no matter who he happens to be—is known as the “leader of the free world.”  This has been the case since America emerged from World War II as an acknowledged global superpower.  However, as anyone who has ever served in the military, worked in an organization, or played sports knows, there is a big difference between a person being in a leadership position and that person being a leader.  A leader is someone who, by his example, rallies others behind a common cause.  Good leaders have a vision for making things better and they are able to bring people together to achieve the vision.

To bring people together after a tragedy and give them hope, leaders must have credibility.  They earn credibility by showing the victims of tragedy that they care about them.  One of the ways good leaders earn credibility is by subjecting themselves to the same types of circumstances and challenges their followers face.  They roll up their sleeves and pitch in to help.  In other words, they lead from the front by their actions rather than just standing back and making speeches.  Only in this way can they earn credibility with and develop empathy for those they are trying to lead.  Credibility and empathy are essential leadership characteristics during times of tragedy.  This is what is meant by leaders feeling the pain of their constituents, something Presidents Reagan, Bush (G.W.), and even Clinton understood, even if Clinton’s sincerity was suspect.  People who were suffering responded to these presidents because they felt their empathy and believed they were sincere.

Few things will undermine a leader’s credibility and ability to empathize more surely than arrogance.  Based on these two criteria—credibility and empathy—it is clear why Barack Obama is such as poor leader in times of tragedy.  He is simply too arrogant to feel empathy and to do what is necessary to earn credibility. President Obama’s first four years in office provided almost daily examples of his arrogance.  During the height of the great recession President Obama took numerous extravagant and highly-publicized vacations and could often be found enjoying himself on the golf course with his wealthy buddies.  His level of empathy for the 23 million Americans standing in unemployment lines was zero.  Hence his credibility with them was also low.  As I wrote in an earlier column: Obama Spent the great recession “living large” while millions of Americans suffered.

Unfortunately, as he approaches his second term as president, Barack Obama has not changed—he is still arrogant and completely lacking in empathy for his constituents.  If there was a time to discuss the issue of gun control, it was not while the grieving families of Sandy Hook were still in shock and needed a leader to give them comfort and hope.  I am going to limit the number of rounds allowed in a rifle’s magazine is hardly the message a grieving father and mother need to hear as they lower their child’s coffin into the ground.

Presidents Reagan, Bush (G.W.), and even Clinton were human beings first and politicians second.  That is why they could empathize with people suffering through tragic losses.  President Obama is a politician first, second, and always.  He cannot stop campaigning long enough to be a fellow father and husband who truly feels the pain of Americans who are suffering.  This, itself, is a tragedy because millions of Americans are suffering and in need of a president who can give them comfort and hope.  Unfortunately, they will have to wait at least another four years for that.

Read more:

Brilliant satire. But frightfully on target.

The Wall Street Journal
December 27, 2012, 6:22 p.m. ET

P.J. O'Rourke: Dear Mr. President, Zero-Sum Doesn't Add Up

Is life like a pizza, where if some people have too many slices, other people have to eat the pizza box?

Given that hypocrisy is an important part of diplomacy, and diplomacy is necessary to foreign policy, allow me to congratulate you on winning a second term.

I wish I could also congratulate you on your conduct of international affairs. I do thank you for killing Osama bin Laden. It was a creditable action for which you deserve some of the credit you've been given. Of course the intelligence was gathered, and the mission was undertaken, by men and women who, although they answer to your command, answer to duty first. And it is difficult to imagine any president of the United States who, under the circumstances, wouldn't have ordered the strike against bin Laden. Although there is Jimmy Carter. Thank you for not being Jimmy Carter.
But even though it violates the insincere amity that creates a period of calm following national elections, no thank you for the following, and it is only a partial list:
  • Telling the Taliban to play by the rules or you'll take your ball and go home;
  • Leaving Iraq in a lurch (and in a hurry);
  • Watching the EU go down the sink drain and into the Greece trap and wanting to take America along on the trip;
  • Miscalculating human rights and strategic engagement in the Chinese arithmetic of your China policy;
  • Being the personification of bad weather during the Arab Spring with your chilly response when you encountered its best aspects and your frozen inaction when you encountered its worst;
  • Playing with Russian nesting dolls, opening hollow figurine after hollow figurine hoping to find one that doesn't look like Vladimir Putin;
  • Sitting and doing nothing like a couch potato watching a made-for-TV movie as the Castro and Chávez zombies continue their rampage;
  • Hugging the door on your date with Israel;
  • Putting the raw meat of incentives in your pants pocket when you go to scold the pit bulls of Iran and North Korea;

But the worst thing that you've done internationally is what you've done domestically. You sent a message to America in your re-election campaign. Therefore you sent a message to the world. The message is that we live in a zero-sum universe.

There is a fixed amount of good things. Life is a pizza. If some people have too many slices, other people have to eat the pizza box. You had no answer to Mitt Romney's argument for more pizza parlors baking more pizzas. The solution to our problems, you said, is redistribution of the pizzas we've got—with low-cost, government-subsidized pepperoni somehow materializing as the result of higher taxes on pizza-parlor owners.

In this zero-sum universe there is only so much happiness. The idea is that if we wipe the smile off the faces of people with prosperous businesses and successful careers, that will make the rest of us grin.

There is only so much money. The people who have money are hogging it. The way for the rest of us to get money is to turn the hogs into bacon.

Mr. President, your entire campaign platform was redistribution. Take from the rich and give to the . . . Well, actually, you didn't mention the poor. What you talked and talked about was the middle class, something most well-off Americans consider themselves to be members of. So your plan is to take from the more rich and the more or less rich and give to the less rich, more or less. It is as if Robin Hood stole treasure from the Sheriff of Nottingham and bestowed it on the Deputy Sheriff.

But never mind. The evil of zero-sum thinking and redistributive politics has nothing to do with which things are taken or to whom those things are given or what the sum of zero things is supposed to be. The evil lies in denying people the right, the means, and, indeed, the duty to make more things.

Or maybe you just find it easier to pursue a political policy of sneaking in America's back door, swiping a laptop, going around to the front door, ringing the bell, and announcing, "Free computer equipment for all school children!"

However, domestic politics aren't my first concern here. The question is whether you want to convince the international community that zero-sum is the American premise and redistribution is the logical conclusion.

I would argue that the world doesn't need more encouragement to think in zero-sum terms or act in redistributive ways.

Western Europe has done such a good job redistributing its assets that the European Union now has a Spanish economy, a Swedish foreign policy, an Italian army, and Irish gigolos.

Redistributionist political ideologies, in decline since the fall of the Soviet bloc, are on the rise again. Will you help the neo-Marxists of Latin America redistribute stupidity to their continent?

The Janjaweed are trying to redistribute themselves in Darfur. The Serbs would like to do the same in Kosovo. The Chinese have already done it in Tibet. Al Qaeda offshoots are doing their best to redistribute violence to places that didn't have enough.

And Russia and China would like the global balance of power to be redistributed. Since China has plenty of money to lend and Russia has plenty of oil to sell, your debt and energy policies should go a long way toward making the balance of power fairer for the Russians and Chinese.

While redistribution—or "plagiarism," as we writers call it—is a bad idea, zero-sum is even worse. Zero-sum assumptions mean that a country that doesn't pursue a policy of taking things from other countries is letting its citizens down. That's pretty much the story of all recorded history, none of which needs to be repeated. It has taken mankind millennia to learn that trade is more profitable than pillage. And we don't have to carry our plunder home in sacks and saddlebags when we're willing to accept a certified check.

The Chinese don't seem to understand this yet. They think trade is a one-way enterprise, the object of which is for China to have all the world's money. They've got most of ours already. Mr. President, validating China's economic notions isn't a good thing.

A zero-sum faith in getting what's wanted by taking it can extend to faith itself. In some places there is only one religion. If other people have a religion of their own they must be taking away from my religion. Give up that faith, infidels.

Speaking of infidel faiths, Mr. President, please consider the message of this Christmas week—a message of giving, not taking. And consider your prominent position as a messenger of peace on earth and goodwill toward men. When you embrace a belief in the zero-sum nature of what's under the Christmas tree and propose to redistribute everything that's in our Christmas stockings, you're asking the world to go sit on the Grinch's lap instead of Santa's.

Mr. O'Rourke is an author and correspondent for the Weekly Standard. This article is adapted from the forthcoming Jan./Feb. issue of World Affairs (

A version of this article appeared December 28, 2012, on page A15 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Dear Mr. President, Zero-Sum Doesn't Add Up

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Year the Dreams Died

Barack Obama in 2008 won an election on an upbeat message of change amid hopes that the first black president would mark a redemptive moment in American history. Four years later, the fantasies are gone. In continuing dismal economic times, Obama ran for reelection neither on his first-term achievements — Obamacare, bailouts, financial stimuli, and Keynesian mega-deficits — nor on more utopian promises.

Instead, Obama’s campaign systematically reduced his rival, Wall Street financier Mitt Romney, to a conniving, felonious financial pirate who did dastardly things, from letting the uninsured die to putting his pet dog Seamus in a cage on top of the family car.

Obama once had mused that he wished to be the mirror image of Ronald Reagan — successfully coaxing America to the left as the folksy Reagan had to the right. Instead, 2012 taught us that a calculating Obama is more a canny Richard Nixon, who likewise used any means necessary to be reelected on the premise that his rival would be even worse. But we know what eventually happened to the triumphant, pre-Watergate Nixon after November 1972; what will be the second-term wages of Obama’s winning ugly?

The so-called fiscal cliff offers more examples of 2012 dreams giving way to reality. Obama will probably get his long-promised taxes on the rich. But so what? There are not enough caricatured “millionaires and billionaires” even to make a dent in his administration’s fifth consecutive $1 trillion–plus deficit.

Instead, all that is left for Obama is to go over the cliff or wait for Republicans to counter-propose the necessary cuts in entitlements so that he can both reluctantly accept these budget-saving measures and demonize those who so threaten “the most vulnerable.” What will stop the massive borrowing is not the myth of bipartisan cooperation, but the reality of returning high interest rates that will make the current splurging simply unsustainable.

What did we learn from the killings of Americans in Benghazi? So far, the fantasy of securing justice by jailing a single Coptic filmmaker for posting an anti-Islamic video has trumped the reality of holding the administration accountable for allowing lax security and offering only feeble responses to a massacre resulting from a pre-planned attack by al Qaeda–affiliated terrorists on a U.S. diplomatic post.

As the year ended, a deranged 20-year-old killer in Newtown, Conn., shot down 26 children and adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. The nation decried the killer’s access to his murdered mother’s arsenal of semiautomatic weapons to achieve his gruesome toll.

But banning the sale of certain types of weapons will probably not stop another Newtown massacre any more than an earlier ban prevented the Columbine shootings — unless the federal government is prepared to enter American homes and confiscate millions of previously purchased weapons. Steps toward a far more realistic solution — jawbone Hollywood to quit romanticizing gratuitous cruelty and violence; censor sick, macabre video games; restrict some freedoms of the mentally ill; and put armed security guards into the schools — are as much an anathema to civil libertarians as the banning of some guns is a panacea to many of them. So we pontificate while waiting for the next massacre.

In February, the European Union grandly announced a second — and last — 130 billion–euro bailout of Greece and an apparent solution to the southern European debt crisis. But the year ended with Greece having never been poorer or more indebted. The proper solution was never band-aiding Greece with some German euros, but rather asking why under the EU system Greece — and other Mediterranean EU members — had been allowed to become so indebted for so long in the first place.

On June 30, supposed reformist Mohamed Morsi was sworn in as president of a new democratic Egypt amid grand talk of the Arab Spring. But in November, Morsi, as a good Islamist, hounded out of office his secular rivals in the judiciary and suspended the rule of law. And days ago, by popular vote, Morsi oversaw the implementation of the Muslim Brotherhood’s version of sharia law as the basis of the new Egyptian constitution. Given the chaos of Libya and Syria, and the murder of Americans in Benghazi, the cruel winter of 2012 has now ended the dreamy Arab Spring of 2011.

As the year ends, there are ominous signs of impending financial implosion at home. Abroad, we see a soon-to-be nuclear Iran, an even more unhinged nuclear North Korea, a new Islamic coalition against Israel, a bleeding European Union, and a more nationalist Germany and Japan determined to achieve security apart from longstanding but increasingly suspect U.S. guarantees.

The year 2012 should have taught us that dreaming is no answer to reality; 2013 will determine how well we learned that lesson.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author, most recently, of The End of Sparta. © 2012 Tribune Media Services

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Taxpayers give Michelle a $100,000+ Christmas present

Just another example of our Leader's nose-thumbing the American Taxpayer

President Obama plans to head back to Washington D.C. tonight to deal with the upcoming fiscal cliff. Of course, that doesn't mean Michelle and the kids won't continue to live it up in Hawaii. They plan to stay until January 6th, during which taxpayers will pay for additional security and flight(s) back to Washington. Fun fact: Both Bush 41 & 43 spent every Christmas holiday at Camp David, ever mindful not to keep the Secret Service and their staff away from their families during the holidays. The extra vacation days will cost taxpayers at least $100,000, probably double that amount. At a time when lawmakers are looking for ways to reduce spending, Michelle should take the hint and stop spending money we don't have.

Reprinted from Laura Ingraham email eGram

The gift of self-empowerment

By Michelle Malkin  •  December 26, 2012 12:34 AM

I shared an excerpt of an e-mail I received from Joe Cascarelli of Westcliffe, CO, in my syndicated column today (here), which is adapted from my recent blog post on things parents can do post-Newtown without relying on government. Cascarelli describes a community organizing effort that every liberty-loving parent can get behind. I’m reprinting more of the e-mail for you below. If you do something like this in your school district/neighborhood, speak up and let me know. I’d like to spotlight as many examples as possible.

In Custer County, We Protect Our Own

It was ten years ago that our Sheriff put an ad in the local paper to initiate the formation of the Sheriff’s Posse. About 40 of us volunteered; today we have about twenty active Posse members.

Eight years ago, the Posse command staff offered to provide the local school district with daily security patrols when the school was in session, at school athletic events and during school dances including the annual prom. In the beginning, some teachers and at least one School Board member objected to having a uniformed, armed presence at the school…

…Using a grant, the Sheriff arranged to conduct an active shooter training event for full time deputies. Several months later, these deputies conducted an active shooter training event for the Posse over a weekend. It was intense and rigorous. Posse members who we unable to attend, were given the opportunity to participate in a one day make-up training event. Finally, our community emergency coordinator scheduled a joint drill involving all first responders-Sheriff’s Department, Fire Department, Ambulance Corps and Posse members. Those of us who participated learned so much about what to do if the unthinkable happened. Even students and some teachers participated.

One high school student who aspires to be a “Hollywood make-up artist” did a marvelous job of creating simulated wounds. Entry teams practiced with other responders. Yes, we entered with stretchers and carried victims out to waiting medical personnel. The Sheriff’s Department had professional observers who gave participants feedback on their performance. It was an event that none of us will ever forget.

The Posse has continued its patrols at school events and during the school day. Posse patrols have become a visible accepted part of our community. Anyone intent on harm would see armed uniformed personnel at the school daily. The Posse even has an Amber Alert at the local rodeo. When an atrocity like Columbine, Virginia Tech and most recently in Newtown CT happens, all we hear is carefully crafted words of grief, heart rending interviews with parents and TV’s talking heads with knee jerk “solutions.” Well, our little community has implemented a local solution. Trained, armed volunteers daily protect our children. What is matter with the rest of the country? Where are concerned parents and citizens willing carve out some time to provide similar security?

Communities all around the country could do something without changing or ignoring the US Constitution which has served us well for over 230 years. Policy makers must consider all options not just meaningless “feel good” steps geared more to getting votes rather [than] improving life in America.
~ For the latest breaking news, be sure to join Michelle's e-mail list ~

Sunday, December 23, 2012

And He's worth every nickel...not!


Report: Obama’s Christmas Vacation Likely to Top $4 million

By: Paul Scicchitano
  While President Barack Obama and his family spend Christmas in Hawaii for the fifth straight year, federal and local taxpayers are likely to be left with a holiday bill that tops $4 million for the first family’s security and travel expenses to the exclusive retreat known for its turquoise waters and rolling surf, according to a published report.

Air Force One touched down in Honolulu minutes after midnight local time on Saturday. The first family departed the plane and traveled quickly to their vacation home in the beach town of Kailua, a scenic, sleepy resort on the east side of Oahu. The Obamas pay for their own accommodations, while taxpayers shoulder the costs of security and travel.

Though it is not clear how long the Obamas planned to stay in Hawaii about 12 miles from downtown Honolulu, the Hawaii Reporter estimated that the trip could cost taxpayers more than $4 million based on the nine-hour flying time to and from Washington and the high-priced resort accommodations for White House staff, Navy Seals, Coast Guard, and the Secret Service.

The publication estimates that each leg of the nine-hour flight alone will cost taxpayers $1,635,813 for a roundtrip total of $3,271,622.

“While many residents welcome the first family, others are disheartened by the restrictions put on air, water, and road travel while the president and family are in town, especially because it is the holiday season and many families on vacation want to use their boats or surf and paddle in the welcoming ocean waves fronting the Kailua homes,” the publication reports. “In addition, the president's caravan of at least 22 vehicles including an ambulance can easily overwhelm the community that typically has single lane streets.”

The publication also reports that federal and local taxpayers are likely to foot the bill for the following additional estimated expenses:
  • The president’s staff typically stay at one of Hawaii’s oldest and most elegant hotels, the Moana Surfrider. A conservative estimate with rooms at $270 (excluding a 9.25 percent Transient Accommodation Tax and a 4.712 percent General Excise Tax on each bill, meals, Internet charges and other charges) adds up to more than $129,600 in hotel bills for some two dozen staff.
  • A USAF C-17 cargo aircraft that transports presidential limos, helicopters and other support equipment to Hawaii is estimated to cost $258,000, not including crew accommodations.
  • Secret Service, Coast Guard and Navy Seals are housed in beachfront or canal front properties near the president at a cost last year of about $200 per bedroom per day, or $21,600 per average home for at least seven homes.
  • The president’s advance security costs about $176,400.
  • Local police historically rack up $250,000 in overtime during presidential visits, which is paid by Oahu taxpayers.
  • A city ambulance generally costs about $10,000 to provide round the clock coverage.
  • The presidential security detail typically rents an entire floor of an office building in Kailua, but estimates were not available for this expense.
  • In addition, taxpayers pay for security upgrades and additional phone lines to private homes, including bullet proof glass and new security systems.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun - two examples

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Two Possible Mass Shootings Stopped By Armed Americans

As the debate surrounding the proper place of guns in modern America continues, there are stories (understandably overshadowed by the horrific tragedy that occurred last week in Connecticut) that highlight the valuable self-defense aspect of carrying a concealed weapon.
Earlier this month in Casper, Wyo., a man walked into a busy nail salon with the possible intent to rob and harm its patrons. A woman who was getting her nails done at the time saw him pull a weapon and pulled her own.

Here is a report from the Casper Star-Tribune1:
Police say about 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 3, a man walked into Modern Nails at 2645 E. Second St. and asked a female employee if she wanted to buy some diamonds. The man walked toward the front desk area and the woman replied that she had no money to buy diamonds.
A witness said the man then reached into his coat pocket and began to take out a silver-colored pistol.
At that moment, a woman who was getting her nails done reached into her purse and got her own firearm. Police say the man never fully raised the gun and left the building after seeing the customer had her weapon out.
On Monday, a gunman entered the China Garden Restaurant in San Antonio, Texas, allegedly looking to do harm to an employee of the establishment. When the employee wasn’t there, police report, the man pulled a gun and attempted to open fire on random patrons of the restaurant. When his gun jammed, patrons fled to a movie theater nearby. The gunman followed and was able to shoot one man in the chest before being neutralized by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy2 working security at the theater.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My stand on gun control in today's United States of America

Gun control.  There a lot of opinions.  Most by folks who have had no first hand experience that involved any form of gun violence.  Yet, they are so self-righteous when they demean and ridicule anyone with the audacity to defend the second amendment. Oddly, many, no, probably most people think that this amendment appears at the top of all other amendments because our founding fathers felt it would be necessary for citizens of the new nation to defend themselves against bad people - robbers, murderers, rapists, mentally disturbed individuals hell bent on killing as many innocent people as possible before being confronted by armed authority and requiring a fatal self-inflicted gunshot wound.  But this was not the intent of the second amendment. 

Understand that the Constitution was being drafted following a very long and brutal revolution fought by brave patriots who wanted freedom from tyranny and repression.  They knew that governments, even those founded on independence, self-rule and formed under the auspices of God almighty, can become corrupted.  In fact, history has shown repeatedly that most do eventually degrade into a form of totalitarian rule by individuals who have formed a coalition with the single-minded intent to quiet the free press (or better yet, form an alliance with the "free" press), disarm the populace, bloat the government so the majority of citizens become dependent wards of the state, and then deal the final blow of complete dictatorial rule.  [Does any of this sound eerily familiar?].  Noah Webster stated it much more eloquently than I have...

"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed...."- Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, 1787

I for one, fully support the right of every citizen to defend himself by carrying a gun.  In fact, as unpopular as this notion is, I fully agree with the NRA's recommendation that the only way to stop the massacre of our innocent children in schools is to have armed individuals - whether they be hired police, or even armed teachers - situated in every school building.  Why does this not make sense?  We do it for our banks, for our government buildings, for our courthouses, for our streets, celebrities do it (yes the one's that would deny us "ordinary people" the right to afford ourselves the same protection).  Why then would it not make sense to provide the same level of defense for that which we hold most precious - our children? 

When NRA President Wayne LaPierre declared such a remedy in his recent press announcement, he was immediately vilified by left and even some on the right as a madman.  But not one of these dissenters that I could determine finished their rebuke with a reason why this suggestion is lunacy.  Not one could explain why such a tactic would be catastrophic?  Not one could even hypothesize an outcome that would be so destructive, that the thought of bringing a gun into a school should not be given serious consideration.  As Mr. LaPeirre stated so well - "The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun".  So simplistic, so obvious. 

Well, I've gone on too long here considering that I also have had no first hand experience with gun violence.  But I ask that you dedicate about five more minutes to view this video.  Or, if you prefer reading over watching a video, I copied a version of the experience that Suzanna Gratia iterated at a congressional hearing on gun control.  You'll hear the thoughts on gun control by someone who did experience gun violence of the worst kind.  She knows from where she speaks. 
- Bob Hunsicker, December 22, 2012

Suzanna Gratia's Horrible Experience:

On October 16, 1991, Hennard drove his 1987 Ford Ranger pickup truck through the front window of a Luby's Cafeteria at 1705 East Central Texas Expressway in Killeen, yelled "This is what Bell County has done to me!", then opened fire on the restaurant's patrons and staff with a Glock 17 pistol and later a Ruger P89. About 80 people were in the restaurant at the time. He stalked, shot, and killed 23 people and wounded another 20 before committing suicide. During the shooting, he approached Suzanna Gratia Hupp and her parents. Hupp had actually brought a handgun to the Luby's Cafeteria that day, but had left it in her vehicle due to the laws in force at the time, forbidding citizens from carrying firearms. According to her later testimony in favor of Missouri's HB-1720 bill[1] and in general, after she realized that her firearm was not in her purse, but "a hundred feet away in [her] car", her father charged at Hennard in an attempt to subdue him, only to be gunned down; a short time later, her mother was also shot and killed. (Hupp later expressed regret for abiding by the law in question by leaving her firearm in her car, rather than keeping it on her person. One patron, Tommy Vaughn, threw himself through a plate-glass window to allow others to escape. Hennard allowed a mother and her four-year-old child to leave. He reloaded several times and still had ammunition remaining when he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head after being cornered and wounded by police.

Reacting to the massacre, in 1995 the Texas Legislature passed a shall-issue gun law allowing Texas citizens with the required permit to carry concealed weapons. The law had been campaigned for by Suzanna Hupp, who was present at the Luby's massacre and both of whose parents were shot and killed. Hupp testified across the country in support of concealed-handgun laws, and was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1996. The law was signed by then-Governor George W. Bush and became part of a broad movement to allow U.S. citizens to easily obtain permits to carry concealed weapons.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

An Open Letter To President Obama From A Concerned Mother And Grandmother

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to share with you the sadness I am feeling today in light of all the tragedy and heartbreak we have all felt since last Friday. In fact, I have been feeling this for much longer than that.

My sadness began to swell when I first heard the term “kill Romney”, and has grown throughout the last months listening to your call for “revenge” when speaking to your constituents during your campaign, listening to you support the union members and Democrat officials calling for “blood” when they don’t get their way, and for standing silent while union thugs physically attack a news reporter while he witnessed the tearing down of a tent sheltering peaceful Americans, some in wheelchairs, simply expressing their right to free speech.

How can you expect to play the role of “consoler in chief” when you have fully supported the killing of more than a million children a year through abortion, even after live birth, some only guilty of being female? What effect did your rhetoric have on a young, mentally disturbed man in Newtown, CT?

As our leader, you more than anyone, should have realized by now that what we need is a national healing. The only way to healing is forgiveness. Though you frequently have your speechwriters include biblical passages in times of trouble, you speak of more regulation and law you plan to invoke rather than addressing the substance of our problems. Healing does not come from the rhetoric of politicians with their own agendas, but rather from prayer and realizing our own short-comings.

I have lived through a childhood of abuse, a marriage of abuse, the murder of family members and more, only maintaining my own physical and mental health through knowing the only way to inner peace is through forgiving those falling short of my expectations. That inner peace also provides me with a sense of security in an ever more dangerous world.

I have also forgiven you and pray for you to find the courage to lead this nation in a way that will provide for more safety and security for its citizens, as well as those around the world. I forgive you for standing by and watching as thousands of Syrians are killed for no good reason, as four Americans are killed in Libya while you ignore their security needs while representing their country, and while you hide behind executive privilege as over 200 Mexicans and an American border guard are murdered with weapons your justice department provided. In addition, I forgive you for allowing your justice department to imprison an American for expressing his right to free speech and for lying to the American people about an irrelevant video on the internet.

For the first time in my life I will buy a gun this week. I am a mother and grandmother, only wanting to live in peace, but realizing for the first time in my life that I may need a way to protect myself from a government that I have trusted for the last 59 years. While I have never asked for this government to provide for me in any way, I have assumed that it would keep me safe. This is no longer sensible.

I will continue to pray for you and your family everyday, as my taxes provide for your security. I will continue to pray daily for a nation that I see faltering and have faith that we can withstand another four years if we begin to humble ourselves and forgive.

I pray that you will start each of your days as our leader asking for forgiveness for your own shortfalls, and for the wisdom you lack in leadership.


A Concerned Mother & Grandmother

Our country is run by idiots...

You know you live in a Country run by idiots if…

You can get arrested for expired tags on your car but not for being in the country illegally.

Your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more of our money.

A seven year old boy can be thrown out of school for calling his teacher “cute”, but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable.

The Supreme Court of the United States can rule that lower courts cannot display the 10 Commandments in their courtroom…while sitting in front of a display of the 10 Commandments.

Children are forcibly removed from parents who appropriately discipline them while children of “underprivileged” drug addicts are left to rot in filth infested cesspools of a ‘home’

Hard work and success are rewarded with higher taxes and government intrusion, while at least some slothful, lazy behavior is rewarded with EBT cards, WIC checks, Medicaid, subsidized housing, and free cell phones.

The government’s plan for getting people back to work is to provide 99 weeks of unemployment checks (to not work).

Being self-sufficient is considered a threat to the government.

Politicians think that stripping away the amendments to the constitution is really protecting the rights of the people.

The rights of the Government come before the rights of the individual.

You pay your mortgage faithfully, denying yourself the newest big screen TV while your neighbor defaults on his mortgage (while buying iPhones, TV’s and new cars) and the government forgives his debt and reduces his mortgage (with your tax dollars).

Being stripped of the ability to defend yourself makes you “safe”.

An 80 year old woman can be stripped searched by the TSA but a Muslim woman in a burka is only subject to having her neck and head searched.

Using the “N” word is considered “hate speech” but writing and singing songs about raping women and killing cops is considered “art”.

You can write a post like this just by reading the news headlines.

Unfortunately, this list could go on and on. Our country is run by idiots. We are in distress. Where do we go from here?