Monday, February 26, 2018

Teachers Deserve a Fighting Chance to Survive a School Shooter

During a February 25, 2018, interview on FoxNews Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Florida Governor Rick Scott about arming teachers. Governor Scott said, in effect, he was willing to sacrifice one to two classrooms full of students rather than allow teachers to carry concealed weapons on campus. Surely the Governor would take great umbrage at that conclusion. Still, what he said was that he wanted “teachers to teach” and law enforcement to handle active shooters—sentiments echoed by various teachers and others in clips preceding the interview as well as news clips across the broadcast media.

History has shown that at some point, a determined attacker can usually defeat a peripheral defense. Given the nature of our government, one can expect determined attackers to find various ways through the perimeters of “hardened schools.” Unless “law enforcement” can instantly identify, locate and confront the threat immediately, it seems likely that at least one room will suffer casualties. In all likelihood, more than one room will come under attack as law enforcement verifies the active shooter reports and moves to where they can effectively engage the perpetrator. Beyond that, we will not rehash the arguments for allowing qualified teachers to voluntarily arm themselves as long as they keep their weapons concealed. Keep in mind that Florida is a “shall issue” state, see below, so many Floridians have concealed carry permits already.

If you are a teacher who “doesn’t want the responsibility to protect children,” please look over the following short exercise:

·       Presumably every teacher has a few memorable great days during their teaching career. Pick out the best of those that comes to mind and replay it in your mind. Then, scroll down to the next step; if you don’t work in education, think of your best moment in school.

Move through the experience to that peak moment

Then scroll down or look down

·         “Oh my God! O my God!!!” No!!”

o   You hear the voice of your friend and coffee-break-mate in the next room; rapid gunfire suddenly silences your colleague

o   You immediately report the active shooter, lock both doors, and simultaneously direct your class to perform their well-practiced “Active Shooter: Shelter in Place” procedures

·       Hearing the sound of children running and gunfire now coming from the hallway, you silently hope the shooter picks some other room

·       While trying to comfort and silence a whimpering student, you hear the rattle of the locked door at the far end of your room

·       A gunshot rings out as a bullet flies through the door followed by more rattling

·       A second gunshot sends pieces of the lock flying into the room; a couple of yanks and the door opens outwardly into the hallway

What do you do now?

You have to do something. Pick up scissors and a yardstick? Hide under the desk? Wait quietly? If you have a concealed carry permit and a handgun, the firearm sits at home—safely locked in a strong safe. Of course, if that 9 mm was concealed on your hip, you would have additional options. Certainly, absent a video feed, firing at the rattling door alone seems out of order. Once the shooter fires through the door, you know you can safely return fire. Immediately sending three or four shots back through the door seems like a good choice. Less desirably, you can wait for the shooter to burst into the room. Unarmed, you have no good choices. Armed, you at least “have a fighting chance.”

 So, you may not want the responsibility of protecting students; but, I hope you at least want to protect yourself. If the Florida PE Teacher who bravely stood between his students and the shooter had carried a 9 mm automatic, he and many of the murdered students might today be discussing their terrifying experience; the teacher might be talking about how frightened he was to stand down an M-16 with a tiny 9 mm pistol.

Shall Issue State: This term applies to states that have passed laws requiring the issuance of concealed carry permits to anyone who passes the rigorous requirements. Such states do not require the applicant to show a capriciously interpreted “good reason” for a carry permit. Most such states enjoyed markedly reduced crime rates after enacting their “shall issue" ordinances.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Nigerian Freedom Fighters

Tonight, I sent my Congressman, Brad Sherman the following letter. I urge anyone reading this to send something similar to their Representative.

Dear Congressman Sherman,

Please introduce a bill as soon as possible to arm and provide training to Nigerian Freedom Fighters resisting the butchers of Boko Haram. Images tonight showed many of these brave men, dubbed "vigilantes" by an obviously hostile press, armed only with machetes to fight heavily armed and well trained Islamist Militants! Some were "armed" with farm implements! A few had antiquated firearms, among them double-barreled big-game rifles, expensive in the U.S., used decades ago to hunt dangerous (four-footed) animals. One man fielded what looked like a cap lock muzzle-loader.

These men are fighting the same war we are. We owe it to them to provide the arms and at least rudimentary training necessary to save their lives, the lives of their families, and to help defeat OUR foes.

For Mrs. Obama to hold up a "Give back our girls” sign for a “photo-opp” is well and good; but, over the weekend, Boko Haran butchered dozens of defenseless Nigerians. For the United States to do nothing more than fly a few drones over the area and carry some protest signs is nothing short of an outrage.

The Nigerian Army refuses to engage Boko Haram. Moreover, up against a mobile guerrilla army, self-defense is the first, and often only, line of defense. Just as Americans had to defend themselves on the Frontier, these people need the arms to defend themselves against a foe that is far better organized, armed, and far more ruthless than any pioneers faced in North America.

AK-47s are cheap in nearby Somalia.

I look forward to hearing your reply.


Your Faithful Correspondent

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Note to GOP: To defeat Obamacare
Follow Captain Kirk, not the Tea Party

In The Corbomite Maneuver, the captain of a huge, overwhelmingly powerful alien ship gives Captain Kirk and his crew 10 minutes "to make preparations" with any deities they revere. Then, he will destroy the Enterprise—and them. Asked for options, Mr. Spock replies (short form), "checkmate." Kirk pauses, turns, and says, "Not chess, Mr. Spock. POKER!" From there, the episode follows an interesting path to a favorable ending.

If Republicans in Congress want to win the battle over Obamacare, they need to stop "tilting at windmills" and start playing poker! It might help if they realized they hold a much stronger hand than does the President.

President Obama's clearly unconstitutional postponement of the Act’s "Employer Mandate" evidences the stronger Republican hand. Fearing the electoral backlash from the economic horrors his "ivory tower" brainchild would unleash, President Obama conveniently "postponed" the Employer Mandate until safely after the 2014 election. If Republicans can get close enough to overturning that delay, the President will soon enter into "fruitful negotiations" that (will ultimately lead to) "useful improvements" in the Affordable Care Act—improvements the President no doubt “always expected to make”; and for which he will probably attempt to take credit.

To bring the President to the bargaining table, the GOP should push the following "chips" into “the middle of the table”:
1. Have a group, ideally made up of democrats, independents, and as few republicans as necessary, file suit to enjoin the President from delaying the Employer Mandate. It would be nice to have former supporters of the Act lead the suit. Examples might include James Hoffa, Junior, Warren Buffet and a few suddenly concerned former and current Democrat Senators and Representatives who actually voted for the Bill.
2. Pass ten to twenty individual House bills—no riders, no pork, and no side issues—implementing the best of the myriad GOP healthcare reform proposals.
3. Tell the American People why the House passed the new, substantive improvements; and why their proposals are better than the Act.

The day any court grants, or looks ready to grant, an injunction requiring implementation of the employer mandate, President Obama will find himself facing an electoral tsunami. (Why else did he postpone the Mandate?) That possibility would almost surely lead to the President quickly scrambling for a deal.

If you agree with the ideas expressed here, I hope you will share them with your legislative representatives, your friends, and even your relatives. For consistency, let’s just tell the Republicans to perform, “The Obamanite Maneuver!”


You might wonder what I meant by, “clearly unconstitutional postponement of the ‘Employer Mandate’".
1. The postponement violates the Separation of Powers, a key foundation of our Constitution, our Government, and a pillar of our freedom:   o Changing such a key provision of the Act amounts to legislating; President Obama has no authority to legislate.
   o To this observer’s knowledge, nothing in the act allowed any President to postpone or unilaterally change any key parts of the Act; if any did, future Republican presidents could, in effect, nullify the Act via an executive order or a regulation.
   o The Supreme Court found the Act Constitutional under the taxing authority of Congress. Postponing the Employer Mandate amounts to the President unilaterally changing tax law; imagine if George W. Bush had changed the tax rates in 2001 via regulation rather than a vote of Congress.
2. One could argue that treating one class of tax payers—businesses—more favorably than another class—individuals—violates the “Equal Protection Clause” of the Fourteenth Amendment. While perhaps a stretch, that clause all too often seems to resemble the proverbial “rubber man” at a circus.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Benghazi-gate, Occam's Razor and Napoleon
They all come together here!
Occam's razor? Napoleon? What do they have to do with Benghazi-gate? In a few minutes, you will know. First a few preliminaries. In case you missed it, the much-ballyhooed demonstration, riot, or other disturbance outside our Benghazi Consulate on 9/11/2012 never happened; and the President knew it that very day. In reality, a group of terrorists launched a well-planned, well-executed military assault; they were equipped with heavy weapons, including a mortar. Earlier on the same day, a mob in Cairo had stormed our embassy in reaction to a video insulting Muhammad.
The Obama Administration tried to cover up what really happened in Benghazi with a blatant lie--the demonstration cover story--the idea presumably spawned by the Cairo riots. The Administration repeated and compounded the demonstration cover story for many days--until, and even after, the "inconvenient truth" gradually began leaking out. Those leaks have now burst forth and have ignited a cascade of controversy.
Pundits ranging from Rush Limbaugh to the relatively obscure have suggested myriad answers to the question, "What was the administration covering up and why?" Most hypotheses seem esoteric or the very complex. Some would require intricate conspiracies. Today, October 29, 2012, yours truly read an assertion that administration involvement in some kind of gunrunning scheme was "the only explanation" for Benghazi-gate. That signaled this observer that Occam's Razor had to enter the fray.
Occam's Razor:
". . . often expressed in Latin as the lex parsimoniae, translating to law of parsimony, law of economy or law of succinctness, is a principle which generally recommends selecting the competing hypothesis that makes the fewest new assumptions, when the hypotheses are equal in other respects . . . .” (From Wikipedia; retrieved 10/29/2012):
Rather than reaching hither and yon for elaborate explanations of a presumed Benghazi Cover-up, consider a relatively simple hypothesis, simple in the sense of Occam, and a few related facts.
Hypothesis: While watching live video of the Benghazi attack over a six-hour period, President Obama simply waffled; that is, he could not decide whether or not to send help.
This rather simple hypothesis seems to fit into the constraints set down by Occam's razor better than other explanations your faithful correspondent has heard to date.
  • It requires only one new hypothesis: President Obama waffled.
  • Fact: the President is in the midst of a close reelection campaign. Nothing new there.
  • Fact: Foreign Policy has given President Obama his one consistent advantage over Governor Romney. Nothing new there.
  • Fact: the Obama Campaign has repeatedly trumpeted the courage and decisiveness exhibited by ordering the bin Laden killing as evidence of the President's foreign-policy superiority. Nothing new there.
  • Fact: evidence to date strongly suggests a Benghazi cover-up. Not universally accepted; not as widely known as one might expect.  
If the voters suddenly learned, before election day, that the President had waffled on Benghazi--if indeed he did--it would bring the President's basic qualifications to serve as Commander-in-Chief into question and largely sink the President's reelection bid. If anything could trigger a cover-up--if there is a cover-up--a waffling story surely could.
Speculating about the unknown, and speculating about motives in particular, almost always lands one on rather thin ice. Still, if the Obama administration launched a cover-up, the "waffling hypothesis" would seem to fit the circumstances as well as, if not better than, most notions offered to date. The suggestion, for example, that Benghazi was a false kidnapping to enable "trading" Ambassador Stevens for the now imprisoned "Blind Sheik" seems, by comparison, a bit deep.
Many would argue against any intimation of a Benghazi cover-up. They might ask, "Would a rational group of people really attempt a cover-up in light of the Watergate experience?" They probably would conclude that the idea is, at best, fanciful speculation. (One would presume then that the "well documented" complicity of the Bush Administration in the original 9/11 attacks simply proves the irrationality--not too mention the craftiness-- of the Bush Cabal.)

Enter the Emperor Napoleon
Napoleon receives credit for many insightful and memorable quotations. Few come up very often in the day-to-day lives of most people. While, "An army travels on its stomach," I get to work in a car. A relatively lesser-known quotation attributed to Napoleon does seem to fit the circumstances of Benghazi and provide an answer to the objections of any who might strongly doubt a cover-up:
"Never assume malice when incompetence is a possibility."
One might add that, despite the lessons of Watergate, incompetence plus arrogance could easily lead one to devise a "perfect and undetectable" cover-up.

Alternate Hypotheses:

Two similar ideas could fit the facts outlined above and still account simply, in Occam's sense, for a cover-up. Perhaps the President:
  • For whatever reason, decided to let those people die
  • Bungled the operation; by, for example:
            o Failing to make sure any help that he ordered sent arrived in time.
            o Having one or more subordinates who felt at liberty to blithely overrule a presidential                decision.

As with the hypothesis that the President "waffled", each of the alternates requires only one new hypothesis; either: President Obama didn't care; or, President Obama was incompetent.
Your thoughts and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Who Built That? Who Built America?

To date, your faithful correspondent has not yet heard of anyone making the most obvious response to President Obama's controversial "You didn't build that" speech. Here then, is that seemingly obvious response.

Mr. President, everyone had everything you cited in your outrageous remarks.

Everyone had access to the courts and could purchase eyeglasses; only one person invented bifocals.

Everyone knew about lightning; only one person invented the lighting rod.

Everyone had access to boats, roads and waterways; only one person invented the first commercially viable steam boat.

Everyone had patent protection; only one person invented interchangeable parts.

Everyone had access to roads, rivers, sickles and scythes; only one person invented the reaper and revolutionized grain production.

Everyone knew about electricity; only one person perfected the electric light, founded the General Electric Company, electrified the world, and almost single-handedly launched the modern era.

Everyone had access to roads, courts, and public schools; only one person invented the Model-T and instituted the first moving assembly line.

Everyone had music and "teachers who helped them along the way;" only one person invented the phonograph. Come to think of it, at age seven, three months after that person entered school, his teachers called him "addled" (or, depending on the source, "retarded"). He didn't have teachers "helping him along!" His mother home schooled him. Think about that Barbara Streisand; a home schooled capitalist made your success possible.

Everyone had access to all that went before them; only two people launched Apple Computer.

Mr. President, America has flourished and led the world in inventions and commerce for over two centuries by celebrating, fostering, and rewarding success. America did not get here by demonizing the successful.

The peers of these American inventors had everything they had, including everything President Obama cited in his controversial "You didn't build that" speech. Yet, only these few created what they did. For the most part their success flowed from hard work--often with a touch of genius tossed in. The same is true of the vast majority of successful entrepreneurs.

Perhaps if President Obama understood what built America, he would recognize that businesses principally spring forth and succeed through the motivated efforts of entrepreneurs, not through underhanded scheming, and "exploiting downtrodden workers." Perhaps if the President understood free market economics, he would have come up with a recovery plan that worked.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Some thoughts for “Values Voters”
Will anti-abortion zeal reelect President Obama?

No president can, much less will, materially reduce the number of abortions performed in the United States. Nor will any president's Supreme Court appointees. If you think otherwise, check out Table One. A mere 13 states accounted for just a touch under 75% of all abortions performed in United States during 2008. Those statistics hold the key to important realities that "values voters” would do well to consider while casting their ballots in 2012 Republican Presidential primaries and caucuses.
Table 1

Total US

New York
New Jersey
North Carolina

[Number of abortions by state of occurrence from surveys of hospitals, clinics, and physicians identified as providers of abortion services conducted by the Guttmacher Institute. The Guttmacher Institute  reallocates abortions to the woman's state of residence for survey years. Abortion rates are computed per 1,000 women 15 to 44 years of age on July 1 of specified year]

For more information:
Internet release date: 09/30/2011

For 38 years, anti-abortion advocates have spent millions of dollars and tens of thousands of hours failing to “overturn Roe vs. Wade.” None of those efforts has reduced the number of abortions one scintilla. Moreover, had they managed to overturn Roe vs. Wade, Table One demonstrates that they would not have accomplished much more than the nothing they have accomplished so far.

A little background. If the Supreme Court reversed itself tomorrow and overturned Roe vs. Wade, abortions would not suddenly become illegal anywhere, much less nationwide. A reversal would simply enable individual states to pass new laws restricting or banning abortions; just as when the Supreme Court partially reversed its nationwide ban on the death penalty. That reversal did not reinstate the death penalty; it allowed states to reinstate the death penalty—albeit, under specific guidelines. Reversing Roe vs. Wade would doubtless operate in much the same way.

Possible exception: According to Wikipedia, some states, including Illinois, have passed “trigger laws” that would reinstate abortion bans if the Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade. This might reduce some abortions if bright blue Illinois does not repeal the trigger. Thus, the impact of trigger laws remains to be seen. For now, your author will stand by his premises.

Cold hard facts. Without considering the oft debated moral, theological and freedom issues swirling about the abortion debate, consider some facts that clearly demonstrate the ruthless bottom line on abortion. Seven of the 13 states in Table One are “bright blue”; that is, they virtually always vote overwhelmingly Democrat in national elections. Three of the states are “purple”; that is, they sometimes vote Democrat; they sometimes vote Republican. Second, remember that Roe vs. Wade originally applied only to the first trimester of a pregnancy; although that has crept up to around seven months today.

In 2003, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which the Supreme Court upheld, outlawed some late-term abortions; thereby stripping away the arguably most powerful anti-abortion argument. A reversal of Roe vs. Wade might lead to state laws outlawing other late-term abortions; but, those are generally few in number. Thus, while Table One's three red states, Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina, might restrict some abortions, they probably have gone about as far as is feasible already.

One must recognise that, as in the case of "values voters", pro-abortion voters tend to passionately hold their positions. Those passions, the large numbers of abortions in those 13 states, and the existing latitude states already have make it unlikely, arguably remotely likely, that any states in Table One will materially restrict abortions further.

What about a constitutional amendment? Some have glibly suggested passing a constitutional amendment, in the unlikely event Congress fails to outlaw all abortions nationwide after a hypothetical reversal of Roe vs. Wade. Remembering that 39 states must ratify a constitutional amendment, take a second look at Table One. The reader will not see the eight blue states of Oregon, Washington, New Hampshire, Vermont, Wisconsin, Delaware, Connecticut, or Rhode Island. That makes 15 bright blue states that almost surely will not ratify such a hypothetical and fanciful constitutional amendment—at least not much before hell freezes over. Given the math, the idea, when emanating from a leader, seems either delusional or demagogic. It will never happen—and this from someone who “never says never.”

What have Anti-abortion advocates accomplished? Instead of reducing the number of abortions, antiabortion advocates have elected myriad pro-abortion fanatics, most of them leftist democrats. Some would argue that antiabortion advocates gave Bill Clinton just the edge he needed to beat George H. W. Bush. Moreover, President Clinton paid no political price when he vetoed a bill banning virtual infanticide! One can further argue that, in league with the tea party, “values voters” let the democrats hold the Senate in 2010. How! By nominating an airhead to run against the supposedly “doomed” Harry Reid; an airhead who had publicly acknowledged at least dabbling with witchcraft. Anti-abortion and Tea Party fanaticism gave the Democrats their 51st vote—a clear, if thin majority in the Senate. Congratulations, “values voters”.

For almost 38 years, “values voters” have done little more than “tilt at windmills!” Along the way, they have weakened their own Cause, enabled democrats to weaken and damage the military readiness and economy of the United States; and they have given people of faith a bad name. The Nation has sustained far too high a cost to justify a 38‑year‑long "feel‑good statement." “Values voters” would do well to leave such things to the "Losertarians".

Implications.” Insisting on candidates with impeccable “right to life” credentials has only elected people with whom "values voters" intensely disagree! “Values voters” need to recognize that they have lost the battle among the electorate. Through the ballot box, "values voters" have accomplished almost nothing; they have not materially reduced, and almost surely will not materially reduce, the number of abortions. They need to find other, non-violent, means to reach their goal. Perhaps more importantly, “values voters” need to recognize that “one trick pony” Rick Santorum will begin any General Election campaign with a huge number of women deeply, and intansingently committed to his defeat. He has no more chance of winning in November than does yours truly. For myriad reasons, it seems almost equally likely that Mitt Romney would lose in November as well—polls and pundits notwithstanding.

Today, America needs a conservative and practical visionary to win the Whitehouse and start pulling the nation out of the morass into which it has sunk. From this observer’s perspective, only Newt Gingrich satisfies those criteria.

“Values voters” need not concede their deeply held moral and theological concerns about abortion. They do need to recognize the practical implications of their dogged insistence on solid anti-abortion credentials in every Republican candidate and consider their next steps!

ADDENDUM: Since this post went up on February 10, 2012, Senator Santorum has unleashed a torrent of inflammatory comments on topics ranging from the evils of birth control to the nauseating nature of the separation of church and state. One might think that the Senator wanted to make sure he never won another election in his life, much less the Presidency in 2012. Perhaps Senator Santorum is a mole for the Obama campaign.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Good News; Bad News

A post on a Yahoo Group to which your Faithful Correspondent subscribes decried some rather troubling news. Disturbingly, the post claimed that on May 11, 2010, President Obama abolished the “Veterans Preference” in Federal hiring. A bit of research turned up both good news and bad news. On that date, President Obama issued the:

Presidential Memorandum – Improving the Federal Recruitment and Hiring Process.”

First, the good news:

The following paragraph contained the only reference to the Veterans' Preference in the Memorandum:

(2) a goal-focused, data-driven system for holding agencies accountable for improving the quality and speed of agency hiring, achieving agency hiring reform targets, and satisfying merit system principles and veterans' preference requirements....

Nothing in the cited paragraph supports the assertion, even to your utterly GOP, but still Faithful, Correspondent, that President Obama had abolished the Veterans' Preference.

Now for the possibly bad news:

(a) consistent with merit system principles and other requirements of title 5, United States Code, and subject to guidance to be issued by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), adopt hiring procedures that:

“(1) eliminate any requirement that applicants respond to essay-style questions when submitting their initial application materials for any Federal job . . . .”

Many jobs require the ability to write clearly and concisely. Essay questions can reveal a great deal, but not everything, about the writing ability of a candidate. For example, since the paragraph above addresses the initial application, typically completed online, an applicant might have someone else wrote the essays--although that seems a bit unlikely.

Used properly, essay questions can help weed out many applicants early in the process who will not measure up. Secondly, subsequent rounds of the process might include essay questions under controlled conditions. This would eliminate those who had no chance at the position early; thus, to the extent that essay questions remained, the new rule could save costs.

A question remains as to whether essay questions now included in initial applications would find their way back into a second round of examining candidates. In addition, essay readers need to remember the necessarily subjective nature their task.

Despite the possible flaws of using essay questions, your Faithful Correspondent sees no benefit or value in completely tossing them out. Doing so would almost certainly result in a longer, more costly hiring processes; and a somewhat less qualified Federal workforce than otherwise would be the case. So much for the possibly bad news.

Now for the really bad news:

First, a bit of historical context. As presidents have left office, they have typically reclassified the statuses of some jobs from “discretionary appointment” to Civil Service. Doing so kept the incoming presidents from firing cronies the outgoing president had appointed, and replacing them with-----their own cronies.

With the foregoing historical perspective, consider the following paragraph from the Memorandum:

  1. provide for selection from among a larger number of qualified applicants by using the "category rating" approach (as authorized by section 3319 of title 5, United States Code), rather than the "rule of 3" approach, under which managers may only select from among the three highest scoring applicants;

Likely Translation: “To the victors go the spoils.”

Crafting “category definitions” to fit the background of one's cronies would not seem likely to "strain the brains" of many executives. Over a century ago, the blatant corruption of the “Spoils System” led reformers to the create the Civil Service System. A linchpin of those reforms was the rule of 3”. While one can criticize the rule of three for many reasons, it has, for over a century, protected Civil Service and the Nation from many abuses inherent in the old “Spoils System”.

Perhaps President Obama prefers the “efficiency” and convenience inherent in weakening the Civil Service System to its time-tested safeguards. Perhaps President Obama misses his “Chicago roots” more than we all realized.

Here is a link to the Memorandum text: