Wednesday, October 20, 2004

A cautionary tale

(Via misc.survivalism. Thanks to Gunner--you got too much time on your hands this week?)

I'm not sure of the provenance of the story, but I don't think that matters. Its value is as a cautionary tale for the Age of Terror.

A Military Story -- Don't Close Your Blinds

The other day, my nine year old son wanted to know why we were at war. My husband looked at our son and then looked at me. My husband and I were in the Army during the Gulf War and we would be honored to serve and defend our Country again today. I knew that my husband would give him a good explanation.

My husband thought for a few minutes and then told my son to go stand in our front living room window. He said "Son, stand there and tell me what you see?"

"I see trees and cars and our neighbor's houses." he replied.

"OK, now I want you to pretend that our house and our yard is the United States of America and you are President Bush."

Our son giggled and said "OK."

"Now son, I want you to look out the window and pretend that every house and yard on this block is a different country" my husband said.

"OK Dad, I'm pretending."

"Now I want you to stand there and look out the window and pretend you see Saddam come out of his house with his wife, he has her by the hair and is hitting her. You see her bleeding and crying. He hits her in the face, he throws her on the ground, then he starts to kick her to death. Their children run out and are afraid to stop him, they are screaming and crying, they are watching this but do nothing because they are kids and they are afraid of their father. You see all of this son.... what do you do?"

"Dad?"

"What do you do son?"

"I'd call the police, Dad."

"OK. Pretend that the police are the United Nations and they take your call, listen to what you know and saw but they refuse to help. What do you do then son?"

"Dad.......... but the police are supposed to help!" My son starts to whine.

"They don't want to son, because they say that it is not their place or your place to get involved and that you should stay out of it," my husband says.

"But Dad...he killed her!!" my son exclaims.

"I know he did...but the police tell you to stay out of it. Now I want you to look out that window and pretend you see our neighbor who you're pretending is Saddam turn around and do the same thing to his children."

"Daddy...he kills them?"

"Yes son, he does. What do you do?"

"Well, if the police don't want to help, I will go and ask my next door neighbor to help me stop him." our son says.

"Son, our next door neighbor sees what is happening and refuses to get involved as well. He refuses to open the door and help you stop him," my husband says.

"But Dad, I NEED help!!! I can't stop him by myself!!"

"WHAT DO YOU DO SON?" Our son starts to cry.

"OK, no one wants to help you, the man across the street saw you ask for help and saw that no one would help you stop him. He stands taller and puffs out his chest. Guess what he does next son?"

"What Daddy?"

"He walks across the street to the old ladies house and breaks down her door and drags her out, steals all her stuff and sets her house on fire and then...he kills her. He turns around and sees you standing in the window and laughs at you. WHAT DO YOU DO?"

"Daddy..."

"WHAT DO YOU DO?"

Our son is crying and he looks down and he whispers, "I'd close the blinds, Daddy."

My husband looks at our son with tears in his eyes and asks him..."Why?"

"Because Daddy.....the police are supposed to help people who needs them...and they won't help.... You always say that neighbors are supposed to HELP neighbors, but they won't help either...they won't help me stop him...I'm afraid....I can't do it by myself Daddy....I can't look out my window and just watch him do all these terrible things and...and.....do nothing...so....I'm just going to close the blinds... so I can't see what he's doing........and I'm going to pretend that it is not happening."

I start to cry.

My husband looks at our nine year old son standing in the window, looking pitiful and ashamed at his answers to my husbands questions and he says..."Son"

"Yes, Daddy."

"Open the blinds because that man.... he's at your front door..."WHAT DO YOU DO?"

My son looks at his father, anger and defiance in his eyes. He balls up his tiny fists and looks his father square in the eyes, without hesitation he says: "I'D DEFEND MY FAMILY DAD!! I'M NOT GONNA LET HIM HURT MOMMY OR MY SISTER, DAD!!! I'M GONNA FIGHT HIM, DAD, I'M GONNA FIGHT HIM!!!!!"

I see a tear roll down my husband's cheek and he grabs our son to his chest and hugs him tight, and says... "It's too late to fight him, he's too strong and he's already at YOUR front door son.....you should have stopped him BEFORE he killed his wife, and his children and the old lady across the way. You have to do what's right, even if you have to do it alone, before it's too late." my husband whispers.

THAT scenario I just gave you is WHY we are at war with Iraq. When good men stand by and let evil happen son, THAT is the greatest EVIL of all. Our President is doing what is right. We, as a free nation, must understand that this war is a war of humanity. WE must remove evil men from power so that we can continue to live in a free world where we are not afraid to look out our window so that my nine year old son won't grow up in a world where he feels that if he just "closes" that blinds the atrocities in the world won't affect him.

"YOU MUST NEVER BE AFRAID TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT! EVEN IF YOU HAVE TO DO IT ALONE!" BE PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN! BE PROUD OF OUR TROOPS!! SUPPORT THEM!!! SUPPORT AMERICA!! SO THAT IN THE FUTURE OUR CHILDREN WILL NEVER HAVE TO CLOSE THEIR BLINDS..."

Wictory Wednesday

Well, this is the "next to last" Wictory Wednesday post. Other Wictory Wednesday bloggers are



I think we can safely say this is crunch time. Each and every one of us who supports President Bush needs to take the time and talk to our friends and coworkers. I've run into several people who are starting to believe the nonsense spouted by Kerry and Edwards. I'll bet you know some too. Get the facts and set them straight.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Any questions?

(Via misc.survivalism. Thanks to Gunner.)

Just in case you don't get how important this election is, Mathew Manweller, a political science professor at Central Washington University, would like to enlighten you:

This November we will vote in the only election during our lifetime that will truly matter. Because America is at a once-in-a-generation crossroads, more than an election hangs in the balance. Down one path lies retreat, abdication and a reign of ambivalence.

Down the other lies a nation that is aware of it's past and accepts the daunting obligation its future demands. If we choose poorly, the consequences will echo through the next 50 years of history.

Read the entire article here, and pass the URL on to your friends. It'll only be available until October 27.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Flu shots, media-induced mass hysteria, socialized medicine and economics

Rarely can you get so many topics covered in one post--and still make sense. This is one of these times.

In case you've been stuck under a rock for the last couple of weeks, there has been an uproar over flu shots, or more specifically, the lack of flu shots. The British government "caused" the shortage when they banned Chiron Corp. from shipping any vaccine manufactured in their UK plants due to fears of contamination.

Within a few hours, the mass media was doing its level best to whip things into a frenzy, and from what I can see, at least locally, they've succeeded nicely. A brief survey of the national media (Google News is your friend) shows pretty much the same thing. There are a lot of people, most the old folks, who are getting pretty bent out of shape about this.

I think the concern is more than a little over-blown, and Tommy Thompson agrees with me. It's also being used by the usual suspects as a political football to scare the bejesus out of anyone who will listen to their twaddle. (I'm amazed she hasn't claimed that if her healthcare plan had only been passed, none of this would have happened. But I digress.)

Myself, I view this as an example of why we don't want the government involved too deeply in healthcare. The decision on just exactly how the vaccine will be constituted--what strains of the flu it will protect against--are made by groups such as the Centers For Disease Control (the CDC) and the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO). The decision has to be made months before flu season starts, because only a few companies make the vaccine, and it takes a long time to produce.

The fact that only a few companies make the stuff is widely blamed on things like low profitability (they're expected to give it away, because it's for the children/seniors) and high risk (they'll get sued out of business by the likes of John Edwards if anything ever goes wrong). A lot of the vaccine is sold to governments, who dole the stuff out (pun intended) through their various healthcare agencies. (In the US, you can get it at a private doctors office as well. No idea how the percentage of government vs. private works here--anyone know?)

So the decisions about what to produce and how it will be distributed are largely made by various government and quasi-government agencies. If anything goes wrong, the media goes into a feeding frenzy and they get sued under a tort system badly in need of reform. Well, don't we all feel warm and fuzzy about this system...

(OK--covered the flue shots, media-induced mass hysteria and socialized medicine. Right, economics.)

Now we see various state attorneys general raising merry hell about price gouging.

There are problems with the crude oil supply--hurricanes, refinery shutdowns, pipelines blown up--and the price of crude oil spikes. This leads to price hikes for gasoline and heating fuel, and crimps the daylights out of certain sectors of the economy. This is a pretty big problem. Total action from the 50 attorney's general? Zero that I can find.

But the "price gouging" on flu vaccine, when the supply has been reduced 50% overnight, rates investigations from the AGs of Florida, Kansas, Ohio and others. (We won't mention the publicity generated for the AGs, who happen to be elected officials, some of whom are only a couple of weeks before an election. Ahem.)

The whole thing strikes me as an exercise in silliness. Why is it that economics isn't allowed to apply to the practice of medicine, at least in the United States, bastion of capitalism? We look to the market mechanism to solve all sorts of problems--remember the pollution credit trading system? But we can't trust it with healthcare? Why? Flu vaccine is in short supply--elementary economics tells you the price will go up. Price gouging? Hardly--it looks more like a market adjustment to me.

But it's a supply and demand thing--government wouldn't understand.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Worth your time

Talk about getting something indirectly--this excellent editorial is on Town Hall, reached via The Lost Target, and I was pointed to that in a alt.survival Usenet post.

Well written, quite interesting. The punch line, just in case you don't want to read the entire piece (and I tell you, you're making a mistake!):

...Kerry is the biggest anti-gun-presidential-wannabe in our nation's history. Period. Kerry has voted against gun owners 50-plus times in the U.S. Senate and he is Playmate of the Year for PETA and the Humane Society, two of the most rabid anti-hunting organizations in America. Don't let Kerry's shotgun-wielding photo ops or Edwards's "We're pro-gun" blather blind you from their past voting record and future designs.

OK...

So here we have Gun-shop owner in D.C. sniper case faces tax charges. So, far, so good--this guy isn't' the first small businessman to either mistakenly or purposefully get his taxes in a wad. Nothing blogworthy, right?

Wrong.

Between 1997 and 2001, guns traced back to Bull's Eye were used in 52 crimes, including homicides, kidnappings and assaults, a rate that put it among the small percentage of gun dealers whose guns repeatedly wind up in the hands of criminals.

OK, this might mean something; it might not. Not enough information to really determine which.

In 1994, the ATF traced a crime gun back to his shop and found problems in his record-keeping. At that time, he was warned about the consequence of future violations. In repeated inspections from 1998 to 2002, he was unable to account for 238 guns, and in 2000 received a warning that any future violations would be viewed as "willful in nature."

I'll stipulate that ATF takes record-keeping by FFL holders very seriously. PITA, but those are the rules FFL holders must play by. (Now of course, if he was that bad, why didn't they lift his license?) But let's also note there's no problems since the 2000 warning:

But it was no simple matter charging Borgelt (chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney's Office--Bill) with a crime, according to Sullivan, who said Borgelt cleaned up his record-keeping after the serious warning. The legal requirement that the violations be willful could not be met, he said.

So does the guy get any points for getting his act together, even if it is one of those "finally" moments? Doesn't seem like it. It seems more like Mr. Sullivan was looking for something--anything--he could charge the business owner with.

Dig long enough, you'll find something:

Brian Borgelt, owner of Bull's Eye Shooter Supply in Tacoma, was charged in U.S. District Court in Tacoma with five misdemeanor counts of failure to file a tax return.

Even at this point, my sympathy is limited--the guy failed to file for 5 years, with a total of unreported income in excess of $600,000? I should make that kind of money.

But the plot gets a bit thicker.

"If we have this one dealer, there's obviously others," said Joe Vince, a former ATF agent who now runs a consulting business, Crime Gun Solutions.

Now I start getting worried. Yeah, they guy is a former agent, but you have to wonder if this is indicative of the thought process of current agents. Of course, I doubt logic is a required course for ATF agents.

I'm aware that this isn't a perfect case to look at, but this whole thing, especially the Joe Vince quote, really bothers me. In the US, gun laws, much like tax laws, are voluminous and subject to interpretation. And if those who do a lot of the interpreting (US attorneys and ATF agents) are predisposed to believe that gun retailers and gun buyers are the bad guys, then gun owners have a problem.

Like we didn't know that, right?