30 December 2012

Uncommon Commentary #316: Newtown, Old Story

Among those who expressed condolence over the sad event in Newtown, Connecticut were students of the Caroline Miller School in Monrovia, Liberia, an institution sponsored by the Newtown Rotary Club.  This, along with the fact that Liberia has a low standard of living and that civil war there ended less than a decade ago, started me wondering what the infant-mortality rate and the average life-expectancy might be in that country; it turns out that the former is the seventeenth highest in the world, and the latter is number 194. (Also, more than 1 in 5 children under age five is underweight).  Suppose, therefore, that 20 elementary-school children die in a small city in Liberia over the course of one year rather than in one day, and as a result of conditions that do not prevail in wealthier places like Connecticut; is that less lamentable than what happened in Newtown?  Not in my opinion; it simply doesn't grab headlines like mass murder. (The one real distinction between this hypothetical situation and the shooting in Connecticut is that surviving pupils at the Sandy Hook School could be traumatized by what they witnessed.)
Tragedies happen every day, all over the world.  I don't say that we ought to ignore the Newtown massacre, but simply that we ought not to become fixated upon it.

27 December 2012

Uncommon Commentary #315: Breaking the Cohabit

Word-choice matters in the formation of attitudes.  I wonder how much less cohabitation there would be if we started referring to a woman who's shacking up with a man not by a term that's designed to sound respectable, i.e., "live-in girlfriend" or "partner", but by one that describes what she really is: "concubine."

22 December 2012

Uncommon Commentary #314: How Could a Choice Made by the OBAMA Not Be Perfect?

In nominating Sen. John Kerry to replace Hillary [sic] as secretary of state, President Obombast called him the "perfect choice". If he's the perfect choice, why wasn't he the first choice (as opposed to the present holder of the position, as well as to Susan Rice, although the latter was never actually nominated)? Perhaps he's "perfect" in that he would unquestionably perform his duties just as badly as Hillary [sic] has and as Rice would have. In 2003, as Haitian rebels were fighting to end the thuggish, corrupt, left-wing rule of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Kerry proposed sending US forces to the war zone. The purpose? Not to haste the deposition of the despot, but to prop up his regime!
There is one way in which Kerry comes far closer to perfection than the current Secretary of State does: He can spell his first name.

19 December 2012

Uncommon Commentary #313: The Knee-Jerks' Reactions

Unlike most other opinions on the issue of "gun control" (which is a misleading term, since all that a government can really do is try to control guns), this u.c. presumes neither that those responsible for the US Constitution (specifically, the Second Amendment thereto) were endowed with superhuman wisdom nor that restricting the ownership and use of firearms would have prevented the murders committed by the likes of Javon [sic] Belcher and Adam Lanza. Its purpose, moreover, is not to argue either for or against "gun control"; it is (in this first paragraph) to argue against the hypocrisy of anti-gun hotheads who pretend to have deep respect for our country's constitution yet demonstrate willingness to violate the spirit of the document, and (in the next paragraph) to explain something that seemingly almost nobody understands, i.e., the primary motivation for the creation of the Second Amendment. The laws of Connecticut (where Lanza carried out his massacre) technically comply with the Second Amendment, but going through the obligatory background check merely gives a prospective gun-buyer the privilege of possessing a gun rather than of carrying the same. Anyone who wants to have the opportunity to actually use his weapon when necessary must pay for another permit, which will entitle him to have the gun on his person but only within the borders of his own town; the purchase of yet another permit is required for crossing from, let's say, Bridgeport to Fairfield in possession of said gun, even if one lives 20 feet from the city line. Doubtless, the purpose of this web of red tape (only part of which I have described here) is to make it as difficult as is legally possible for someone to exercise his constitutional right to bear arms.
"Gun-control" advocates (even well-meaning ones) often argue that the Founding Fathers would have approved of measures to ban only certain types of arms such as assault rifles, but, in truth, they almost certainly would not have done so. The leading reason for the Second Amendment's inclusion in the Constitution is that firearms had made it possible for ordinary folk to fight authority. When the armored knight and the longbow ruled the battlefield, years of training were required for one to become an effective warrior, but the introduction of the gun changed that; henceforth, anyone who knew which end of a "hand cannon" to point at the enemy could challenge the powers that be. The backers of the Second Amendment knew that the colonists' possession of guns had made the Revolutionary War feasible, and they regarded such possession as necessary for the sake of resisting the rule of the new government, should it ever become as overweening as the British Crown allegedly had; they would have deemed it necessary for a citizen to be permitted to own not just a handgun but also true assault rifles (as opposed to the semi-automatic that Lanza used) or even machine guns, which would have availed him the maximum firepower for countering the firepower of an oppressive regime. (Indeed, there is significance in the fact that the Second Amendment does not use the word "guns"; what it gives us the right to keep and to bear are not "firearms" but simply "arms", meaning weapons in general, without limits on the potency thereof!)
The way that we wage war has changed considerably since 1789, and so, in our era of nuclear warheads and chemical weaponry, it may be that the Second Amendment to the Constitution has outlived what usefulness it had; don't think, though, that it is possible to have it both ways, viz., to restrict firearm sales or usage in any way without infringing—note the choice of this particular word, with its fine shade of meaning, for the text of the amendment—on what the Founders regarded as vital for the defense of political liberty. One cannot honestly favor any degree of "gun control" without opposing the Second Amendment.

18 December 2012

Uncommon Commentary #312: Labor Pains

One current labor-unionist protest uses a slogan that proclaims what is precisely the opposite of the truth. Demonstrators against right-to-work legislation in Michigan brandish signs which read “Fighting for Democracy!!!”[sic]; how did the “for” get in there?
The recalcitrants' counterparts in Philadelphia, by contrast, came up with a form of protest which is more appropriate than they realize. It seems that they took to the street simply because a non-union electrician won a contract (on which unionized electricians also had the opportunity to bid) to work on renovations to the Vista apartment building on the 2800 block of N. 47th Street in Philadelphia; members of IBEW local 98 subsequently vexed the apartment-dwellers by blasting out a recording of an infant's bawling, from approximately 8 a.m. each day until the middle of the afternoon. I can't think of a truer analogy to their behavior than the crying of a baby.

17 December 2012

Uncommon Commentary #311: UC #239 Follow-Up

The cable-television network H2, affiliated with the History Channel, has been airing a series called Countdown to Apocalypse; the episodes have titles like "Countdown to 12/21/12: Nostradamus", "Countdown to 12/21/12: Four Horsemen", &c.  This is perhaps the most egregious example of what I wrote about in Uncommon Commentary #239.  It would be bad enough if people were merely made nervous over the Winter Solstice for no reason, but the effects of this fear-mongering could even prove deadly; if something like the mass suicide by Heaven's Gate cultists in the 1990's should occur, such persons as the makers and broadcasters of Countdown to Apocalypse, and of other programs in the same genre, would bear considerable responsibility for the tragedy.

16 December 2012

Uncommon Commentary #310: Is the CEO of GE an SOB?

As you may have heard, General Electric head and Obombast economic advisor Jeffrey Immelt has said (in speaking of mainland China) that "state-run communism" is "the one thing that actually works"!  One tries to be charitable and assume that he didn't mean his remarks to sound the way that they did, but, if that be the case, why has he made no effort to explain what he did mean?

12 December 2012

Uncommon Commentary #309: Why Couldn't Obama Himself Have Gone Extinct?

Our president has a fish, a lichen, and now a prehistoric lizard named for him.  Each namesake is appropriate in its own way, on which topic I'll not comment further.

11 December 2012

Uncommon Commentary #308: I Need Relief from Relief Concerts

Why don't overpaid quasi-musicians just donate their own dollars to help those affected adversely by Hurricane Sandy, rather than give the inevitable concert for the purpose of raising money from others?

09 December 2012

Not Quite Either an Uncommon Commentary or a Miscellaneous Musing, but Rather a Seasonal Suggestion

Anyone who would like to maintain a greater degree of distinction between Advent and Christmas than the commercialization and secularization of this time allows us to do might want to imitate my practice: put up a tree during Advent (generally on Christmas Eve), but not turn on its lights until the anniversary of the Nativity arrives (ideally at midnight), and leave them on through all 12 days of Yuletide, after which I take down the tree.

06 December 2012

Uncommon Commentary #307: TEA-Totallers

The inevitability of higher taxation next year, as made evident in the negotiations regarding the so-called "fiscal cliff"—even before many Republican senators and representatives, for instance, openly renounced their pledge not to vote for a tax increase, their leadership was expressing willingness to eliminate deductions for the highest earners, which would have the same effect as a tax increase—demonstrates that the TEA ("Taxed Enough Already") Party's influence is dead, at least among those whose whose opinions really matter in our political system. (of course, this demise, ought already to have been obvious from the election results.  A country that has been made to see the error of its spendthrift ways does not re-elect a chief executive who, with the co-operation of the party that retained control of the US Senate in the same round of elections, has done more to increase our debt that anyone else in history.)  President Obombast (and his minions in Congress and in the media) must be very proud of what he's done to destroy the movement. (But then, he's always been very prideful, hasn't he?)