Monday, October 26, 2015

Hillary on The Hill

Last Thursday Hillary Clinton testified before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, and if you only read headlines (or are a bat-blind partisan) you probably believe "nothing new" was revealed. However, that belief is 180 degrees backwards.

To recap: Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed by Islamist terrorists who attacked our consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11th -- note that date -- of 2012. After the attack, Clinton, along with the rest of the Obama administration, publicly claimed that it was not deliberate but was instead the result of a spontaneous protest that spontaneously spun out of control. Clinton claimed that the terrirorists protesters did their killing because of understandable offense they had taken to a short video on YouTube.

Those claims were eventually proven to be false. In reality, the attacks were pre-planned (and pre-threatened) by an al Qaeda affiliate to commemorate the 11th anniversary of 9/11.

Conservatives have long insisted that the claims were not merely wrong, but were in fact a deliberate lie. They have insisted that those who made the claims knew all along that the attacks were pre-planned, and that those who made the claims chose to hide the truth because the 2012 election was weeks away. To admit the truth would be to admit that Obama's beloved talking point about al Qaeda being "on the run" was false -- an admission which could have doomed his chances of being re-elected.

Well, last week's hearings proved that conservatives have been right all along, and I have a hard time understanding how that translates into nothing new being revealed.

While the attack was happening, Gregory Hicks advised Clinton of it and stated that it was a terrorist attack. No mention of a protest gone awry. In case you're wondering, Hicks was the deputy chief of mission in Libya for the U.S. State Department, which Clinton was in charge of at the time.

In testimony, Hicks -- who would know, since he was there and serving as deputy chief of mission -- steadfastly upheld that the video was "a non-event" in Libya.

Last week we learned that on the very night of the attack, Clinton spoke with the prime ministers of Libya and Egypt and told them things which were: 1) diametrically opposite from what she told the American people via the media, and 2) diametrically opposite from what she told the families of the deceased to their very faces.

When speaking to Egyptian PM Hisham Kandil that night, Clinton said: "We know the attack had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack, not a protest." (emphases mine)

After midnight she sent an email to her daughter which read that "(t)wo of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an al Qaeda-like group."

An hour after sending that email, she spoke with Obama by phone; and almost immediately after that, the U.S. State Department -- which, remember, she was in charge of -- officially released her "protest over a video" lie.

Three days later, when the bodies of the deceased were returned to our shores, she was still telling that lie to the public. Specifically, during the sacred transfer-of-remains ceremony, she said this: "We've seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with."

According to Charles Woods, whose Navy SEAL son Tyrone was one of the deceased, she looked him in the eyes when Tyrone's body arrived at Andrews Air Force Base and said: "We will make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted."

And sure enough, that amateur filmmaker was soon behind bars. At Clinton's urging, our federal government left the perps alone while unleashing its prosecutorial wrath on a 55-year-old immigrant who had merely exercised his First Amendment right of free expression.

So what we have here is this: A powerful person who is running to be President of the United States Is found to have lied directly to the family members of U.S. servicemen who were killed while carrying out their duties -- and is found to have lied to the American public about their deaths -- but is found to have told the truth to foreign governments about their deaths -- and the timing makes it nakedly obvious that her lying was done to sway the outcome of a presidential election -- yet the mainstream media reports that "nothing new" has been discovered, and her fans consider her to have "won" because she managed to look composed while she was being exposed as a craven, dishonest, power-hungry reprobate with no regard for human decency.

Do you believe for one second that if a hearing proved such things about a Republican, the media would have treated it as "nothing new" and the Republican's supporters would have considered it a victory?

The media malpractice is galling, but the indifference of Democrat voters is despicable. Those who paid attention last week and still support Clinton have made a choice to do so despite knowing full well that she is morally depraved and philosophically dishonest. As far as I am concerned, people who would make such a choice do not even deserve to be listened to when they start volunteering their views.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

My Angel Pie

2004 was quite a year.

In sports, my Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup and my Auburn Tigers went undefeated on the gridiron.

Plus, there was a bit of a to-do in the baseball world, with the Red Sox rallying from a 3-0 series deficit to vanquish the Yankees and then proceeding to win the World Series -- thereby breaking the 86-year Curse of the Bambino.

In politics and national affairs, Ronald Reagan passed away, John Kerry was swift-boated, and Dan Rathers saw his career implode when he promoted fell for forged documents that lied to the public about misreported George W. Bush's National Guard service.

But to me personally, the most important event of 2004 happened on the 19th of October. I had become a father when Sarah Belle Stanton was conceived in January, but October 19th was when she was born and I got to hold her for the first time. This picture was taken shortly after:

Nowadays she looks like this:

Before becoming a father, I always thought that I would call my little girl "cuddle bunny" ... and sure enough, I did call her that in the hospital; but to my recollection, I only did so once, followed by another forced use of the phrase some time later ... instead, the phrase which fell naturally out of my mouth without having to think about it was "Angel Pie," and both Erika and I continue to call her that up to this very day.

Like her father, Sarah enjoys reading and writing. Late last year she started perusing the Harry Potter books, and it took no time at all for her to become a full-on fan of that series about the boy wizard who spent most of his first decade underneath the staircase at 4 Privet Drive in the village of Little Whinging.

I am happy she took to the series because I decided to read each volume in her wake, in the belief that they might contain enough imagery and story lines to entertain me as well as her -- which would make them the first books we could truly enjoy at the same time. That belief proved to be true, and it has turned the Potter series into one of our funnest shared experiences.

With Sarah turning 11 this month, Erika and I decided that her birthday present would be a weekend-long trip to Universal Resort in Orlando. The resort's two theme parks (Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure) are the joint home of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which puts every single thing in every single Disney park to shame.

Sarah could not wait to go; and while we were there this past weekend, she declared on several occasions that it was the best weekend of her life, which made us smile from ear to ear.

Universal Studios is home to Diagon Alley, the hidden-in-London street which is frequented by wizards and witches eager to purchase wands from Ollivander's and eager to do their banking at Gringott's:

Islands of Adventure is home to Hogsmeade, a Scottish village which ranks as the only municipality in all of Britain that is inhabited solely by wizards and witches:

Assuming you purchase a ticket that allows you into both parks, you can travel between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade by riding the Hogwarts Express steam train. In the books and movies, the Hogwarts Express departs from Platform  at London's King's Cross Station to transport students to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, though it also stops at Hogsmeade and presumably at other locations.

This past Saturday, when Sarah was standing on Platform  ready to board the Hogwarts Express, she was so excited that she had no idea the porter was photo-bombing her when I snapped this picture:

Diagon Alley is true to form with lots of places from the books and movies -- not only Ollivander's and Gringott's, but also Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, Quality Quidditch Supplies, Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour, and, of course, the offices of the most famous wizard newspaper:

And there is the ever-interesting Museum of Muggle Curiosities (in case you don't know, "muggles" is the word by which wizards and witches refer to us non-magic folk):

Over at Hogsmeade, Potter fans will be delighted to find Honeyduke's Sweet Shop and Zonko's Joke Shop -- along with that Old World pub known as The Three Broomsticks, at which you can purchase ale, shepherd's pie, fish and chips, turkey legs, and the hearty Great Feast. Here is a photo from The Three Broomsticks' dining room:

As we made our way through the larger Universal Studios on Saturday morning, en route to Diagon Alley, my heart fluttered to see Erika and Sarah side by side:

My heart also fluttered when Sarah and Parker parked themselves in the rear of the Knight Bus, and when Sarah peeked into its interior:

And my heart flutters when looking at the following picture of Sarah and me with Hogsmeade in the background. Erika took it after Sarah purchased the sorting hat with her birthday money (thank you Grammy and Grandma!):

Sarah is not without her faults (who is?) but she is also not without her merits, and I love her to the moon and back.

Sarah Belle, no matter what, you will always be my Angel Pie.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Ball Coach

First allow me to say that I can not stand the Florida Gators. This is because their fans -- in particular, the legions who didn't go to school at UF and couldn't find Gainesville on a map -- are the most obnoxious on Earth, and it has been that way since time immemorial.

Even when the Gators were going through the 84-year run of mediocrity and irrelevance that preceded Steve Spurrier being named their coach, it was impossible to find a Gator fan who was capable of admitting that they ever lost a game. Whenever Florida wound up on the wrong side of the final score, it was always because the other team cheated or the officials had it out for them.

What about the fact that the football program started in 1906 and did not experience an SEC championship until 1991? Obviously, that was because the SEC's powers-that-be conspired against it!

Florida fans (again, I am referring mostly to their "sidewalk alumi") are the most obnoxious on Earth. They make Texas fans seem dispassionate and Bama fans seem like choir boys. Heck, when the Gators play the Tide I usually find myself hoping Bama wins because Bama's partisans are more pleasant to deal with -- and as you know, I graduated from Auburn.

I say all this to point out that I was not happy when Stephen Orr Spurrier took the coaching helm at UF and put actual wind beneath the fans' wings. He transformed that program from middle of the pack to a genuine national power, delivering six SEC crowns and the 1996 national championship.

In other words, I am not predisposed to like Spurrier.

But that doesn't mean I don't respect him, and I have to admit that his presence on the sidelines made college football better and more fun than it was before. I think his decision to hang up his whistle represents a loss for the sporting world, and therefore it's worth taking a look back.

*     *     *     *     *

Florida fans regarded him worshipfully even before he became Florida's coach, and they were right to do so. In the midst of what I semi-accurately called an "84-year run of mediocrity and irrelevance," he provided a bright period of success during his playing career, which saw him spend three seasons as Florida's starting QB and win the Heisman Trophy in 1966. In his senior season he led the Gators to a 9-2 record (their best ever up to then) and capped it off with a 27-12 Orange Bowl victory over Georgia Tech.

And it has to count in his favor that during that senior year he got married to his girlfriend and fellow UF student Jerri Starr. Today, 49 years later, he remains married to her and they have four children and twelve grandchildren

But as much as Spurrier is associated with the University of Florida, and by extension with the state of Florida, his contributions reach far beyond those limited confines.

After graduating, he went on to play for ten years in the NFL (nine with the 49'ers, followed by one with the Buccaneers in their inaugural season).

Then he served as Florida's quarterbacks coach in 1978, Georgia Tech's quarterbacks coach in 1979, and Duke's offensive coordinator from 1980 to 1982.

When the USFL started up in 1983, Spurrier was named head coach of the Tampa Bay Bandits. He guided them to the playoffs in each of the three years that league existed, compiling an overall record of 35-19. The Bandits had the best attendance of any USFL franchise; and notably, they had better attendance than the NFL's Buccaneers.

In 1987 he became head coach at perennially hapless Duke and turned it into a conference champion. Yes, in 1989 he produced an ACC championship at Duke.

In 1990 Spurrier came home, as it were, as head coach of Florida. One year later, Florida won its first-ever SEC championship and went on to dominate the SEC for the entire decade of the 1990's. He coached there for twelve seasons, winning ten or more games in nine of those seasons and never finishing a season with fewer than nine victories. And remember, that was when there were only eleven games in the college football regular season.

After an unremarkable two-year stint coaching the NFL's Washington Redskins, plus one year out of the game altogether, Spurrier made what proved to be a triumphant return to coaching in 2005 when he took over as head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks. He wound up leading them to an unprecedented level of success, and over the ensuing decade earned just as much love in Columbia, SC as he had previously earned in Gainesville, FL.

*     *     *     *     *

South Carolina is a major university in the South. It has always had tons of fervid fan support and a significant amount of resources from which to draw. It is the only school in the Carolinas ever to play football in the SEC, which it has been doing since 1992. But prior to Spurrier, it found football success to be elusive.

Back when they were in the ACC, the 'Cocks managed a conference championship in 1968 -- but did so with an overall losing record of 4-6 and unimpressive conference record of 4-3.

George Rogers won the 1980 Heisman Trophy while playing for them, and that year's team went 8-3 during the regular season -- but the season ended with a 21-point loss to hated Clemson followed by a 28-point loss to Pitt in the Gator Bowl.

The 1984 team went 10-1 in the regular season, but is mostly remembered for the season's inglorious ending. Going into the next-to-last week, the 'Cocks were 9-0, ranked #2, and appeared destined to play Nebraska in the Orange Bowl for the national title -- only to lose by 17 points to Navy, which had entered the game 3-5-1. The loss prompted head coach Joe Morrison to lash out in the locker room by telling his players "you just blew a chance at a national championship, you're not going to be #1, we're not going to the Orange Bowl, and you just lost your university two million dollars!"

They beat Ohio State in back-to-back New Year's Day bowls during Lou Holtz's six-season run from 1999 to 2004 -- but that run did not feel like it had the promise of long-term success, seeing as how it started with an 0-11 campaign, ended with a 6-5 campaign, and the NCAA was investigating the program when Holtz departed.

South Carolina played football for 113 years before Spurrier arrived, and over the course of those 113 years it lost more games than it won -- but during the decade since, it has won 37 more than it lost, which is enough to give it an overall winning record since the program started up in the 1890's.

*     *     *     *     *

Record-wise, at first glance, Spurrier's first year with South Carolina might not seem like anything to write home about. The 'Cocks went 7-5 in the regular season and lost to Missouri in the Independence Bowl. But they defeated his alma mater by knocking off the #12 Gators, and they defeated another hated foe by upsetting #23 Tennessee on the road.

In 2010 he coached South Carolina to its first ever victory over a top-ranked team, defeating Alabama by a convincing 35-21. That year's squad went on to win the SEC East and appear in the SEC Championship Game for the first time ever.

From 2011 through 2013 he coached South Carolina to three consecutive 11-win seasons -- although the school had never before had even one 11-win season.

Although not every South Carolina season under Spurrier has been stellar -- the 'Cocks are 2-4 so far this year -- he has made them a fixture in the national conversation and made them a team that everyone is skittish to play against. There is something big to say about that.

*     *     *     *     *

When many people think of Steve Spurrier, they think of swaggering arrogance, and that impression is accurate.

When other people think of him, they think of loyalty, and that impression is accurate too.

When others think of him, they think of rebelliousness, and that impression is accurate too.

When others think of him, they think of dedication, and that impression is accurate too.

But maybe the main thing we should think of is this: Fun.

It was not fun to be on the losing end of a game in which he kept calling passing plays in the fourth quarter when his team was ahead by 35 points. But he was having fun. And every time the tables turned, it was extraordinarily fun to watch him twitch when your team beat his cocky ass.

Steve Spurrier was good at what he did because he had fun doing what he did, and it was always fun to watch a game in which he was coaching.

He hated losing, but even when losing he found a way to kindle a weird kind of fun by sticking his thumb in the eye of whoever it was that beat him. He finished his Florida coaching career with a losing record against Florida State, but that didn't stop him from fire-poking his rivals by saying FSU stands for "Free Shoes University" when FSU was under investigation for players receiving outlawed benefits from a sporting goods store.

Whether on the losing or winning end of a rivalry, he was always happy to cement the rivalry status by shit-talking opposing schools. After he was falsely quoted as criticizing the Clemson program, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney reacted with histrionic anger -- to which Spurrier, having already said the quotes were false, replied by remarking: "Smart people don't believe everything they read, and they don't believe hearsay. I guess Dabo believed it."

Reveling in the fact that Peyton Manning never beat Florida and never won an SEC title, Spurrier said this about Manning opting to return to Tennessee for his senior year: "He wanted to be a three-time star of the Citrus Bowl."

When a fire at Auburn's football dorm destroyed 20 books, he took a jab at my own alma mater by saying: "The real tragedy was that 15 hadn't been colored yet."

Hate him if you want for saying such things, but wouldn't it be better to respond in kind rather than whining like a stuck pig? Don't colorful phrases like these liven things up in a profession known for stifling sameness? Don't they keep your pulse pumping instead of slowing, your interest piqued instead of stymied?

His greatest quote came during the 1996 national championship season, when he was fuming about a slew of borderline late hits being made by Florida State players against Florida's born-again Christian QB Danny Wuerrfel. Unable to keep his comments limited to Earth's plain, Spurrier went full-on biblical by saying this about Wuerrfel and himself: "He's like a New Testament person. He gets slapped upside the face and turns the other cheek and says, 'Lord, forgive them for they know not what they're doing.' I'm probably more of an Old Testament guy. You spear our guy in the earhole, we think we're supposed to spear you in the earhole. That's kind of where we're a little different."

I remember watching him say that on TV. I remember that I loved it even though I absolutely could not stand him. And in the two decades since, I have used the Old versus New Testament analogy on numerous occasions when making one point or another.

The college football world will be less colorful without Steve Spurrier. And less colorful means less exciting.

Hopefully some other firebrand will show up sooner rather than later.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sixth impressions

Now that the college football season is six weeks old, here are some thoughts and impressions in helter-skelter stream-of-consciousness style:

Steve Sarkisian has accomplished what once seemed unlikely: He has made Gary Moeller seems like a model of restraint and respectability.

But Sarkisian's situation is sad on several fronts, and hopefully he gets his personal train turned around.

With Ohio State just scraping by and Michigan State's three-point win over Oregon suddenly looking more like a demerit than an achievement, Michigan is starting to look like the best team in the Big Ten.

Wouldn't a long-term Jim Harbaugh-Urban Meyer coaching rivalry be great? I think it could be even better than the 10-year war between Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes.

If you had asked me this morning about the SEC East, I would have said there ain't no way Florida doesn't win it, even if they get beaten by LSU on Saturday... Then came this afternoon, when starting QB Will Grier got suspended for a year for PED's... But you know what? Given the division's relative weakness, it is still hard to see Florida not making it to Atlanta.

The people who cheered wildly for Oregon prior to 1994 are the real deal. Now, as this season spirals downward, we are about to discover if the same can be said for Duck fans from the last generation or two.

Texas A&M is 5-0 and controls its own destiny in the SEC West, which is reputed to be the best division in college football. Yet no one is talking about them. I understand why since they have yet to play LSU or Alabama, but it's still weird.

I don't understand how Oklahoma has lost to Texas the last two years. Are they eating too many of those fried PB-and-J's that are for sale outside the stadium, where the state fair always takes place the weekend of the game?

The Pac 12 has lots of damn good teams, but not a single legitimate national title contender.

Unless Utah proves me wrong, that is.

The Heisman Trophy is Leonard Fournette's to lose.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Presidential Parseltongue

For as long as I have been on the globe (44 years) millions of American citizens who support the Second Amendment have been warning that a large segment of the federal government wants to outlaw and confiscate privately owned arms. Whenever a politician calls for "common sense gun laws," those millions of Second Amendment supporters have narrowed their eyes with skepticism and warned that the politician's words are a Trojan horse whose intent is to eventually bring about the real goal of banning and confiscating.

In turn, millions of American citizens who are either indifferent or hostile to the Second Amendment have responded by ridiculing those supporters as "gun nuts" and "conspiracy theorists." Down through the years, those who are indifferent or hostile have repeatedly said such things as "no one wants to ban all guns" or "no one wants to take guns away from those who already have them" -- though, more tellingly, what they usually say is that "no one is talking about banning all guns" or "no one is talking about taking people's guns away."

Without fail, politicians from the latter camp have used the "no one is talking about" phrasing whenever they bloviate. But here is what all Americans need to understand: In the years since Barack Obama took office and started waving his scepter, it has become increasingly clear that the so-called gun nuts have been right all along.

*     *     *     *     *

The year before Obama made Eric Holder the Attorney General of the United States, Holder claimed before the Supreme Court (in the case District of Columbia vs. Heller) that the Second Amendment does not apply to private citizens. Subsequently, Holder's tenure as attorney general was riddled with examples of him thumbing his nose at gun rights and, by extension, at gun owners whose rights he was sworn to uphold.

But what is perhaps most alarming is this: On at least four occasions this year, Obama himself has used the word "Australia" while talking about how the United States should regard gun ownership.

Of course, all he does it toss the word "Australia" out there, surrounded by foamy phrases about "common sense" and "countries like ours" and being "able to craft laws." What he does not say -- because he knows you probably don't know it, and he does not want you to know it -- is that in 1996 Australia not only banned guns, but proceeded to confiscate those which had been purchased when they were legal.

Obama has yet to be called on this, by which I mean he has yet to have a reporter mention it to him and ask him to explain himself. If that ever does occur, he is likely to ballyhoo the fact that Australia's murder rate has since dropped by sixteen percent ... but he will certainly not bother to mention that America's murder rate has dropped by more than forty percent since then, despite the fact that America's rate of gun ownership has skyrocketed since then ... and he will certainly not bother to mention that Australia's overall rate of rape has increased by twenty-nine percent since then ... nor will he bother to mention that Australia's overall rate of violent crime has increased by a whopping forty-plus percent since then ... nor will he mention that America's overall rate of violent crime has decreased by twenty-nine percent since then, despite the increase in gun ownership.

To be fair, the Australian gun grab was not absolute. What it eliminated was fully- and semi-automatic rifles. But it is important to note the "semi" prefix, because almost every gun in America (rifles and pistols alike) is semi-automatic.

If you are unfamiliar with guns, fully-automatic means you pull the trigger and bullets keep coming out until you let go of the trigger (i.e., a machine gun) whereas semi-automatic means you pull the trigger and one bullet comes out, then you have to pull it again for another bullet to come out (i.e., almost everything else). The only guns that do not fall into either of these categories are those you have to cock prior to every single shot, and such guns are rarely used because they are so ineffective they're almost worthless, almost like driving a 1914 Model T (cruising speed 30 mph, top speed 45 mph) on a modern feeway.

If anyone tells you to chill out about Obama citing Australia (because, you know, the government down under has not yet did not confiscate pistols) you should ignore them, and the reason you should ignore them is that Obama also likes to say "Great Britain." In fact, during last Thursday's speech after the Oregon shootings, when Obama talked about "other countries" that "have been able to craft laws" he likes, he identified them as follows: "Friends of ours, allies of ours, Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours." Note that those were the only two he named, and he named them side by side.

So what's the big deal about him citing Great Britain? The big deal is that Great Britain (by which he means the United Kingdom) enacted ban-and-confiscate in 1997 and its confiscation did include pistols.

In the years which have passed since the law was enacted, there is only one (2010) in which the murder rate has been lower than it was the year before it was enacted.

The data which led me to write the above sentence ran through 2012, and included statistics from England and Wales but not from Scotland and Northern Island. However, it is worth noting that in the UK as a whole, the number of handgun-involved crimes more than doubled in the first half-decade after ban-and-confiscate went into effect.

As with Australia, our POTUS knows you probably don't know the facts regarding individual freedom gun rights in Great Britain, so he uses that nation as an example because he knows you will take comfort from it. Great Britain is, after all, our mother nation.

*     *     *     *     *

But why am I even talking about crime rates before and after gun bans?

I understand they are important, but I also know they are not relevant to the debate about gun control in the United States.

The reason they are not relevant is that the United States has a constitution which explicitly restricts its federal government and forbids it from doing specific things, and among the things it is forbidden from doing is infringing on "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms." So says the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which is one of the ten original amendments that are collectively known as the Bill of Rights.

In the First Amendment, that same Bill of Rights says that freedom of speech and freedom of Islam religion may not be infringed. Most Americans who are indifferent or hostile to the Second Amendment are fiercely protective of the First Amendment, by which I mean they are fiercely protective of the parts which ensrine freedom of speech and religion. Are they so dimwitted they don't realize that once the Second Amendment is eliminated, there is absolutely no basis to prevent the First Amendment from being eliminated? Are they so dimwitted they don't realize that allowing Master Government to abrogate one right emboldens it to abrogate others?

Are we to believe the same Barack Obama who said that under Obamacare we can keep our doctor and health plan -- who said there was a plethora of "shovel-ready jobs" waiting when the stimulus was approved -- who said the pre-planned Benghazi slaughter on September 11th (!) of 2012 was a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim video that no one watched -- who declared that "Islam has been woven into our country since its founding" (even though the first mosque in our country was built 139 years after the Declaration of Independence, and our country's first war was against fundamentalist Muslims) -- only wants the "common sense" gun laws that he tells us he wants?

Don't believe him or his minions for one second.

Note:  Information from the National Center for Policy Analysis, the Daily Mail,, and was used in this post.

Friday, October 2, 2015

et ceteras

True to form, Barack Obama referred to himself more than twice per minute during his "address to the nation" about the Oregon shooting. Has there ever been a POTUS who behaves less statesmanlike and more narcissistic than him?

To the usual gun control nuts who always squeal brainlessly after a shooting, let me mention just two of the many facts they should (but won't) take into consideration: 1) gun violence in America has been dropping dramatically for the last 20 years even though gun ownership has increased dramatically over the same period; and 2) the tragedy in Oregon, just like every other mass shooting I can think of, was perpetrated at a location that was known to be a "gun free zone" -- do you really think these are all coincidences, or could it be that killers choose to do their deeds in areas where they are confident the victims won't be equipped to fight back?

And, if you think gun control advocates are a bunch of intelligent, non-violent pacifists, maybe this guy's Facebook comment will cause you to reconsider:

I dunno who Willie Wilburn Walker is, but I do know that his comment has been screenshot to someone who can get it to the proper authorities (thanks to one of my fellow alumni from the St. Pete High Class of '89).

*     *     *     *     *

At this very point in this post, I intended to stop dwelling on the Oregon shooting and move on to other things, but then I read something I have to share.

In case you haven't heard, people who were there are confirming that the gunman was specifically targeting Christians. Reportedly, he was asking people what religion they were, and when they said they were Christians he shot them in the head; but if they said something else or were silent, he shot them in the leg or in some other presumably non-fatal spot.

In response to this, the inimitable David French penned these words over at National Review's Corner blog: "With Christians explicitly targeted for mass murder, are we now going to launch a round of anguished soul-searching about anti-Christian rhetoric? Will we cleanse political discourse of anti-Christian expression? Will militant, angry atheists be universally shamed into silence?"

I won't hold my breath while listening to the crickets chirp, and I'm sure Mr. French won't either.

*     *     *     *     *

Speaking of David French, a couple months ago -- in the wake of the anti-Confederate flag furor and in the midst of lavish praise being heaped upon Ta-Nehisi Coates's book Between the World and Me -- French wrote one of the best articles I have ever read. It is written as a letter to his youngest daughter, Naomi. He and his wife are white, and Naomi, whom they adopted from Ethiopia, is black.

The article I'm talking about can be read here. If you like it, you might also appreciate this one, which deals with the way many liberals have reacted to the Frenches adopting a black child.

*     *     *     *     *

I have problems with Donald Trump, some of which I voiced in my July 14th post, and those problems are big enough to keep me from voting for him when the Florida primary finally rolls around. But I have to admit that I think his recently revealed tax plan is good.

In fact, his plan in some ways mirrors my own that has been in my head for the last 15 years. Whenever I've been asked, I have said that there should be a zero percent bracket for individuals making $25,000 or less, and for couples making $50,000 or less combined -- and lo and behold, Trump's plan calls for exactly that!

But no, I still can't picture myself voting for him in the primary. I have not decided on "my" candidate yet, but Trump is not near the top and I am leaning toward Carly.

*     *     *     *     *

Something else I said in my July 14th post is this: "There is no reason for Republicans to fear facing (Hillary Clinton) in the general election, and I will not be surprised if she fails to even make it to the general election."

Then, in my August 22nd post, I predicted that she "will not be a candidate in the 2016 presidential election" (by which I meant the 2016 general election).

Today I am standing by my prediction and digging my heels even further in the sand, because Bernie Sanders almost equaled her in fundraising for the quarter that ended two days ago, despite starting the quarter as an afterthought and despite the fact that he does not court fat cats for donations. Sanders has already received 1.3 million donations, which means he has crossed the one million threshold sooner than Obama did in both 2008 and 2012 -- and he has crossed it by a whopping 30 percent margin.

Combine that with Hillary's trustworthiness and likability problems, and she is, like I said previously, toast.

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Speaking of Sanders, I obviously will never vote for him. He self-describes as a socialist, and history's most prominent socialists include such tyrants and mass murderers as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, Pol Pot, and Fidel Castro.

Sanders will never be a murderer, much less a mass murderer, but I don't put it past him to become a low-grade tyrant because he would genuinely believe that whatever he does is in others' best interest ... and if we allow the nose of the socialist camel to get under our tent by electing Sanders, that camel will then come all the way into the tent and stand on all four legs ... and then, at some point in the near or distant (but probably near) future, our government will transform into a tyranny, and I refuse to be a party to that.

But still, I have to admit there is something about him that I like, and it's not hard to figure out what it is. By virtue of the fact he calls himself a socialist while needing to be elected in a historically non-socialist nation, he is an obviously honest man in a profession known for dishonesty. The fact that he has been in Congress for 25 years and continues to rely on small rather than large donations proves he is not for sale. Although his preferred solutions to problems tend to be batty, and tend to be likely to exacerbate rather than solve the problems, his identification of problems tends to be spot-on. And, he is running for the Democrat nomination even though he's not even a Democrat (in reality, he's a registered, card-carrying independent).

Based on the honesty factor alone, it will be good for American politics if Sanders gets the Democratic nomination -- but only if, and I do mean only, he does not become president.

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Again speaking of Sanders, most people call him Bernie, not Sanders ... and most people say Hillary, not Clinton ... and Carly, not Fiorina ... and Jeb, not Bush ... and a large number of people say Marco, not Rubio.

And I think that is good.

And that is all.

Until next time, take care!