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The War on the Second Amendment: the Mental Health Gambit

Whenever we have a "mass"--a word with a highly flexible definition--shooting in the US, we have the predictable calls for more gu...

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sunday Thoughts: "Common Sense" Gun Control, the FBI, Concealed Handguns & Other Memes of Our Age

Another mass shooting. Horrible beyond words. Events such as this one in Florida, reveal deep, deep problems in all of Western societies. We see the fruits of the progressive-directed rot of our most basic institutions: schools, law enforcement, media, medical services, and, of course, family structure. This problem goes much, much beyond any particular piece of legislation, or any one election or politician.

That said, however, we see and hear immediate calls for new "common sense" legislation to control weapons. I find it difficult to believe that any piece of legislation produced in Washington or Tallahassee could have prevented this week's school massacre . . . well, except for one. That one, of course, is to repeal the nonsense making schools into so-called gun-free zones. One can imagine how different the result might have been if, say, that heroic football coach who died protecting students, shielding them with his own body, or some other member of the faculty, had been trained and legally able to carry and use a firearm. Instead, naturally, we get the usual DNC/progressive talking points (an articulate exception) attacking President Trump, the GOP and the NRA; silly attempts to make the Hispanic shooter into a white supremacist; and, the all-purpose stand-by, calls for denial of gun ownership on the basis of "mental health."

I have dealt with the mental health gambit before years ago, and have reposted the piece with my thoughts at the top of this blog. Nothing that has happened since that original post, makes me change my mind; in fact, I am even more convinced today that it would be a tragic mistake to make "mental health" a criteria for suspending without due process a person's Constitutional right to own a firearm.

Who among you believes that the progressives, who immediately take over any new program or policy, would not "weaponize" mental health to attack political opponents? Do you trust some Silicon Valley soy boy nerds to develop an algorithm, along the lines of those being developed to "prevent extremist speech and thought from the internet," that would not be or quickly become a politicized weapon to suppress conservatives? In recent years, we've seen in the US this type of weaponization of the EPA, the ATF, the IRS, the FBI, the NSA, and the CIA. In Europe, too, the police forces of several countries seem to spend more time cracking down on "right-wing hate speech" than on catching the criminals and the jihadis infesting the streets of the Old World.

Let us not forget, at a minimum, that "mental health," as my post at the top of this blog discusses, is a squishy topic, subject to redefinition in accordance with the tides and currents of prevailing political correctness. Don't forget, also, that until quite recently homosexuality was considered a mental health issue, until the political establishment decided it wasn't. Doesn't really sound like the science is too settled on "mental health."

The basic approach taken by the progressives on guns is well-known. They seek to take away your rights and mine because some people are criminal pieces of crap and illegally use guns to commit horrible and already illegal deeds. They, however, don't want to hear about deporting criminal aliens, or stopping the open violation of our immigration laws by millions of persons who should not be in our country. They, instead, want to take away the rights of law-abiding citizens; while those of us in favor of "common sense immigration laws and enforcement," for example,want to remove from the streets the actual individual people violating our laws. Hey, progs, see the difference?

In sum, the massacre in Florida, as in so many other cases, came about because of screw-ups by adult guardians, the police, the FBI, and the school authorities. They made it possible for this piece of excrement to act out his sick fantasies. All the warning signs were there. Political correctness at its finest.

Yesterday, two of my sons, one of their significant others, and yours truly, took the eight-hour North Carolina concealed handgun course at the local gun store in Bahama. The class consisted of fourteen people of all ages, including four women, and three African American men--kinda violates the narrative re racist, misogynistic Southerners, no? You couldn't have asked for a nicer, more polite group of people. The lead instructor, a former cop, was excellent and stressed the legal and moral responsibilities that go with carrying a firearm, including respecting "gun free" zones. We went out to the range and the instructors, again, were extremely helpful and polite. Yours truly got the highest score at the range (298/300) shooting my S&W MP 40, but I would never brag about that or say it in public. I just report it here because I know my six readers will not tell anybody else.

Any one of those people in that class, would, I think, have done the right thing if they had been legally allowed to be armed, and present at a school shooting. We all were agreed that we need "common sense" criminal control.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

More Memo . . . and Time to Investigate the FISC

The Trump-Russia collusion story is a hoax by the Hillary campaign and its allies, and if we had a legitimate press it would so have been declared. This humble and inconsequential blog called it a hoax long ago (here and here, for example). As I have stated repeatedly, the whole thing falls apart with one question: Why would Putin favor Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton? His buddies had paid Clinton millions, including via "speaking fees" to Bill. Except perhaps for Donald Trump,  everyone, at home and abroad, just assumed Hillary Clinton was going to be the next president.

Well, yet another nail has been hammered into the coffin of this horrible story.

In the last few days, we have had another letter and memo released (somewhat redacted) by Senators Graham and Grassley, two gents who do not particularly care for Donald Trump and are commonly seen as RINOs.

Read it; you don't need me to tell you what's in it, but if you want a devastating analysis of what this memo does to the whole Russia story, read Andrew McCarthy's piece in the NR. There is no way I can do a better analysis than what McCarthy did; note, again, that McCarthy has not been a fan of Trump's.

It's clear that the FBI used the fake Steele dossier to get warrants to surveil American citizens. The FBI knew the dossier was fake and a product of the Hillary campaign. Yet they used it to get the initial surveillance warrant, as well as the extensions. Particularly galling, as McCarthy notes, the FBI did not provide any evidence of wrong-doing found by the initial surveillance when it sought those extensions, and, essentially, just repeated the lie that Steele was reliable and had reliable sources.

What I don't see examined anywhere, however, is yet an even more troubling scandal and piece of evidence of the "deep state" at work.

Why would an honest, objective judge accept the flimsy "evidence" provided by the FBI? What the blazes is going on within the very powerful Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC)? What sort of rot and corruption exists there? We need a full-blown investigation of these judges and their apparent political biases which clouded (to be charitable) their decision-making. We are all in danger if we allow the FISC to operate in this manner.

But, bottom-line: As my son said to me yesterday, "I am tired of memos and investigations. We all know what went on. It's time for people to be indicted and jailed."

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Scandinavian Digression

I know. There's a lot going on in the whacky world of Washington politics, including my favorite, Trump's masterful trolling of the left with his military parade proposal. This is a brilliant boxing in of the Dems: make them oppose honoring our military and vets, and make them favor illegal aliens. Masterful. There will be time to discuss all this and more as we see further fall-out from the phony Trump-Putin collusion story. Right now, however, I am going to discuss movies. Well, a handful of Scandinavian films and TV shows which might, might just portend a reviving nationalism, especially in Norway.

Growing up, I was never a big fan of the pretentious sort of cinema put out by the late Ingmar Bergman. I found his movies, frankly, boring and not all that insightful. Since the end of that era, however, we have seen films and TV shows that demonstrate--Horrors!--that Scandinavians have a sense of humor, and very importantly, are rediscovering their own recent history. On the humor side, yes, humor from Scandinavia, I have to recommend a wonderful Norwegian film, In Order of Disappearance, starring the terrific Swedish actor, Stellan Skarsgård, with a wonderful supporting part by the great German actor, Bruno Ganz (the best Hitler portrayal of all time was his in Downfall). Skarsgård plays a mild-mannered Swedish immigrant in Norway who drives a giant snowplow for a living. He gets pulled in, quite accidentally, into a bizarre world of murderers and Serbian gangsters. It is Coen brothers on steroids. Great, dark, and witty fun. Give it a shot on Netflix or Amazon.

There are lots of clever Swedish (the superb Wallander), Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic, and Finnish police and crime dramas, which show a darker side of Scandinavian society than we are accustomed to seeing. I particularly recommend Easy Living, a Finnish Sopranos. It is a gangster show, with humor, and some biting observations on the corruption produced by socialism, and the lengths to which ordinary people go to game the system. Also Finnish and also worth viewing is Bordertown, a look at how corruption in Russia spills over into Finland: Very well written, directed, filmed, and acted.

Norway, in particular, has produced some interesting films and TV shows of late. A weird and wonderfully offbeat, but, nevertheless, thoughtful one is Occupied. This TV series concerns Russia occupying Norway at the behest of the EU! Great stuff! Never mind Trump-Putin! It is merciless with a Justin Trudeau sort of Norwegian PM who speaks only in platitudes and gets Norway out of the oil business in favor of a weird "green" science. This drives the Russians to see an opportunity to seize Norway's oil fields and take over the EU oil market. The EU is portrayed as spineless and conniving, in other words, accurately. The USA, under a President much like Obama, is also seen as dithering and lacking in resolve. The portrayal of the American Ambassador in Oslo is priceless--a gay dilettante who does not honor his promises. The series paints a picture of a gradual reawakening of Norwegian nationalism as patriots seek to drive out the Russians. Watch it.

Another very good Norwegian film from a few years ago is Max Manus: Man of War. A fairly accurate account of the extraordinary exploits of the great Norwegian anti-Nazi resistance fighter Max Manus (he is worth reading about). Again, throughout the film you see a positive portrayal of Norwegian nationalism, and an honoring of those willing to die to save their country and culture.  It is along the lines of another British-Norwegian series, Heavy Water (AKA The Saboteurs) which is again a fairly accurate account of the heroic efforts by the Norwegian resistance to sabotage German heavy water production in Norway.

Yesterday, I watched another Norwegian film about WWII titled The King's Choice. This is an extremely well-made film with excellent Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, and German actors. It is the story of King Haakon's resistance to the Nazi occupation of Norway. Haakon was a very brave, honest, and interesting man. A Danish prince, he came to the Norwegian throne following the peaceful and very civilized independence of Norway from Sweden in 1905--quite a story in itself of how independent Norway immediately offered the throne first to the son of the very Swedish king from whom they had declared independence, but ended up with a Danish king and a British queen via a plebiscite: A fascinating tale of politics in early 20th century Europe. With the German occupation of Norway, Haakon refused to accept Quisling as the head of Norway's government, escaped from the Germans, and eventually made it to Britain from where he helped keep alive the Norwegian resistance to the Nazis and Quisling. Danish Haakon became a strong Norwegian patriot, and lived to see his new country liberated from the Nazis. The film is very good, with some excellent special effects, strong acting, and great attention to period detail. Watch it. All that other stuff will still be there when the movie ends.

End of digression.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

One More Time on Russian Collusion: Putin Got a Bad Deal?

OK, OK, I know I've written a lot about the silly Trump-Putin collusion story (here, here, and here, for example). I had sworn I would write no more about it, but, alas . . . I was listening to the radio while driving around Durham, and some Democratic hack was discussing THE MEMO, and he was spitting out what is apparently a new Demo talking point, to wit, the memo does not dispute the "mountains," yes, folks, "mountains" of evidence that show "collusion" between Trump's campaign and Putin's Russia.

Where these "mountains" are, one does not know, or, at least, this humble blogger does not. I would respectfully ask the Dems to point us to these "mountains." But, meanwhile, we move on . . .

Let's say, that, indeed, there are "mountains of evidence" showing collusion (however defined) between Trump and Putin to get Trump elected President of the USA. Let's say that Trump and Putin were on the phone every night like giddy high school girls "colluding" away. Let's say that Putin funded the whole Trump campaign; that he KNEW all the polls and pundits were wrong and that Trump would win; that he had a magic crystal ball that told him that Trump's long-shot campaign at the White House would succeed. Grant all that, OK?

We still face the issues I raised back on December 10, 2016,
But did Putin want Trump to win? Why? Not clear to me. Yes, Trump has made favorable nosies about seeking an alliance with Russia against Islamist terror, but he also has promised--and I believe he will keep that promise--to revitalize our military and industry and promote American energy independence, including, of course, fracking and other fossil fuel development in the USA--a devastating prospect for Russia's oil-based economy. The power balance will swing back to the US in a way it would not had Hillary and her cohorts taken power.
What did Putin get with a Trump victory? He got as I predicted back in 2014, when I discussed the issue of sanctions on Russia,
I previously wrote what we need to do in the long-run is to avoid creating the environment that allows situations such as the one we now see in Ukraine from arising. Instead of announcing sanctions that won't work, we should do something for ourselves that will immunize us from the lawless behavior of petty tyrants. 
Frack. Yes, frack. 
Get US oil and gas production going full scale. The US government should announce an end to restrictions on fracking on federal lands, and an end to the absurd restrictions on maritime drilling. We should also announce our intention to become Europe's biggest supplier of natural gas. Just the announcement will drop the price of oil and gas and shave tens of billions off the oil- and gas-dependent Russian economy and hit the Russian government budget. It will, as I have written repeatedly, kick off a new wave of prosperity in the USA. 
As long as we continue with self-destructive policies such as limiting our ability to achieve energy independence, we will limit our ability to respond to actions of petty tyrants.
Trump did exactly that, just as he had promised during the campaign. The result is a Russian economy, still heavily dependent on oil and gas, in a serious downward spiral, with pressure put on the Russian military budget. He's got a President in the USA who has announced a renewal and expansion of our nuclear forces in keeping with the renewal and expansion of our conventional forces. He has gotten a US President who has re-established strong Israel-US ties while at the same time maintaining strong ties with key Muslim players such as Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. He has a President who is defeating ISIS, containing the Iranians, and arming the Ukrainians.  And on and on . . . fill in the rest.

Seems that Putin got a pretty bad deal.

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Release of the MemWow

I have now read the famous heretofore highly classified memo produced by the Republican staff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, headed by Republican Congressman Devin Nunes. Below I provide a few of my initial reactions to the memo.

I have REFUSED to read or listen to any and all other analyses prior to this posting. I don't want to be influenced. I want to react to it as I would to any other classified memo I would have received during my career in the State Department. I will read and listen other analyses later, and perhaps adjust my own.

There is no reason, in my view, of course, for this memo to have been classified at the "Top Secret" level; that's way over classification. This memo should rate no more than a "Secret" or even perhaps more appropriate a "Confidential" rating. No sensitive methods are discussed in the memo or damaged by its release; no sensitive sources are named in the memo or blown by its release.  This is not a TS document. The causing of embarrassment to certain individuals or institutions if the memo went public is not justification for a TS label.

The memo is well-written but too short.  The information it mentions needs considerably more discussion and investigation. A great deal of "good" stuff got left in the ink well.

That said, this memo is devastating to the whole Russia collusion narrative. It also provides a very disturbing glimpse into an FBI and a DOJ gone amok and fully involved in affecting the electoral process to ensure the victory of Hillary Clinton. There is no way around that. The FBI and the DOJ, and perhaps other intel and law enforcement agencies, are shown as politically motivated, and willing to subvert the rule of law in the pursuit of the objectives of their political bosses. That is outrageous, and those organizations need a thorough purge.

I find extremely disturbing that the FBI acknowledged that the author of the infamous GPS Fusion "Dossier" on Trump, ex-British intel officer Steele, was minimally reliable, that the FBI had not corroborated the Dossier, and yet, "Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information." It gets worse. It seems Steele had been briefing certain journalists on his "findings" and the FBI and DOJ used those press reports in their filing with the court as validation for the information in the dossier. Another outrage.

The memo seems to confirm what I speculated nearly a year ago,
The Dems claim that Trump is in bed with the Russians; Trump denies it and countercharges that the Dems had him under surveillance. We have here a problem. If the Dems have official intel on Trump's connections with Russia, how did they get it? Presumably from the official intel services which then it would appear were monitoring Russian contacts with Trump's people. If there was no surveillance order given to US intel, from where did the intel on Russian contacts come? The British is apparently the Trump answer. I have a more plausible one. I think there was surveillance of Russian activity, probably by the NSA, and it found nothing to show that Trump had contacts with the Russians; the Obamistas and the Clintonistas then made up the accounts of Russian interference. In other words, they lied. That's the most charitable explanation I can develop. There, of course, are harsher ones which I hope are not accurate, ones that would show, once again, Obama's misuse of the nation's intel and enforcement capabilities.
The Dems made the whole thing up, paid somebody to write a fake dossier, got the FBI to employ that same somebody (Steele), and then got DOJ to go to the courts with the fake dossier as a justification for spying on the Trump campaign.

The Dems, including, of course, the reprehensible Obama misadministration, used our government agencies as their personal hit-men and shredded the Constitutional protections we all should enjoy.




Thursday, February 1, 2018

More Idiocy from Twitter


Please note that my Twitter account remains suspended because I supposedly incited ethnic hatred by questioning the truth of an anti-Trump story told by actor Mark Ruffalo. To add insult to injury, I got this stupidity in my email folder yesterday. If you click on the link to sample Russian bot accounts and their tweets, you'll se that one of them is from AFTER the election. Nothing like retroactively affecting the election . . . is there anything Putin can't do?


  
  
Twitter
  
Dear Lewis Amselem, 
  
As part of our recent work to understand Russian-linked activities on Twitter during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, we identified and suspended a number of accounts that were potentially connected to a propaganda effort by a Russian government-linked organization known as the Internet Research Agency. 
  
Consistent with our commitment to transparency, we are emailing you because we have reason to believe that you: 
  
• Were following one or more of these accounts at the time the accounts were suspended; 
  
• Replied to or mentioned one or more of these accounts during the election period; or 
  
• Retweeted, quote tweeted, or liked content from one or more of these accounts during the election period. 
  
This is purely for your own information purposes, and is not related to a security concern for your account. We are sharing this information so that you can learn more about these accounts and the nature of the Russian propaganda effort. You can see examples of content from these suspended accounts on our blog if you're interested. 
  
People look to Twitter for useful, timely, and appropriate information. We are taking active steps to stop malicious accounts and Tweets from spreading, and we are determined to keep ahead of the tactics of bad actors. For example, in recent months we have developed new techniques to identify accounts manipulating our platform, have improved our process for challenging suspicious accounts, and have introduced new measures designed to identify and take action on coordinated malicious activity. In 2018, we are building on these improvements. Our blog also contains more information about these efforts. 
  
People come to Twitter to see what's happening in the world. We are committed to making it the best place to do that and to being transparent with the people who use and trust our platform. 
  
Twitter 


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Trump Does it, Again

Another great speech by President Trump.

He's got it down to an art: No flourishes, no purple prose, no overwrought rhetoric--just straight-forward facts and proposals. It's worth watching and reading, unlike the pathetic Democratic response by a weird-looking (What was that make-up?) Joe Kennedy III. If JKIII is the best they've got . . .

My favorite line in the Trump speech? "Americans are dreamers, too." Bam! A shot to the heart!

Perhaps even better than the speech were the reactions from the Democrats when he was giving it. They didn't know how to react.

Nancy Pelosi looked as if she were struggling with a set of ill-fitting dentures -- "sour face" does not begin to describe her look. Others could not bring themselves to acknowledge the suffering of black families at the hands of MS-13 gangsters; the black caucus could not even applaud the very positive employment numbers for the black community; the Dems could not express support for the coal miners of West Virginia who are seeing their economy revive. They could not applaud Trump's statement that the US is now a major energy-producing powerhouse and for the first time in years, an energy exporter.  They could not applaud the return of manufacturing and the repatriation of hundreds of billions of dollars. They could not acknowledge reality.

Trump cornered the Dems on the immigration issue and they knew it, and their faces showed it. They must now reject a path for citizenship for 1.8 million illegals and argue that it's better for them to stay illegal.

It was a masterful political exhibition by one of the most unusual and clever politicians ever to emerge on the world scene.

MAGA!