I am again deployed to Afghanistan. The hours are long, and there are no days off. An average work day is about 13 hours, but this doesn’t mean we work like we’re in a sweat shop.
There is a chess board in my office, and there is almost always a game at hand. One person makes a move, 30 minutes later, his opponent strolls by the board, ponders, pushes a piece, and goes on with his work. So far I have 12 wins, 2 losses and 2 draws.
The power of chess to enliven me is amazing. Nothing makes my brain work more efficiently, nothing sharpens my senses more. I could play all day, every day. If I have a chess set, I need never be bored.
It’s easy to see why the Soviets dominated chess for so long: In Communist Russia, intellectual achievement were held in high regard, and there were few distractions to individuals who wished to improve their game. State funding for promising players didn’t hurt, either.
When I was younger, and playing sports of all kinds, I worried about old age, that it would deprive me of something that brought me so much joy. I don’t worry about that anymore.
Libertarian Nick Gillespie, editor for Reason.com, wrote an article about The Boy Scouts’ stance on homosexual membership in the organization.
I like Nick Gillespie, enjoy Reason magazine and will continue to read articles produced by both. However, Gillespie reminds me of why I am not a true Libertarian. It is not because I don’t want my children to be homosexuals ( I don’t). It is because the Libertarian movement has essentially become just another ideology, to be followed at all costs.
In Gillespie’s WSJ piece, he outlines extensively the benefits he received from being a Boy Scout. But at the end of the article he says that he will not allow his children to take part in the Scouts because of the organization’s official stance on homosexuals. This is a classic example of throwing the baby out with the ideological bath water.
First, Gillespie forgets why it’s so great to be a kid: Innocence. Kids aren’t thinking about who’s gay and who isn’t. Gays seem to want kids to think about these things, as well as sex, race etc, at the cost of robbing them of their innocence. Boys want to be Boy Scouts because it is fun. I was a Boy scout, and I loved it. I never once thought about who was gay and who wasn’t. Modern children are cursed with the presence of idealogical and political organizations bent on impressing their “life styles” upon kids, because how better to change society? Meanwhile, classic Scouting involves inculcating Natural Law into one’s life and thinking: Do good deeds, be prepared, do not lie.
Secondly, why is Gillespie saving his ire for Scouting, an organization that he admits has so many benefits to offer? Why is Scouting worthy of a critical article in a national newspaper, but not the North American Man-Boy Love Association, an organization that I assume does not admit many straight, conservative Christians?
Thirdly, Gillespie’s “all or nothing” politics is obviously standing in the way of his own children’s development: He writes about the Scouts’ own positive effects on his own life, so why deprive his children of the same benefits he had? I grew up a Catholic. I was an alter boy. I am no longer Catholic, but I realize the many benefits that going to weekly CCD and Sunday mass provided me.
People need not agree with every dot and tittle of an organization’s creed to accept the fact that the organization is good for our civilization. And the Scouts are just that.
Ignoring the global jihad is not going to make it go away. In May, 2010, I wrote the blog post, The Coming Anarchy.
Some quotes from that post:
But it is from Africa that the anarchy will spread like a blackening hole in burning parchment. Along with mass starvation (unable to be abated by the cash-strapped West), radical Islam will take an even stronger grip, seizing on the human need to destroy when basic needs are not met. Islamic states such as Iran will gain world-wide political power again, and with the inevitable nuclear bomb in their arsenal, the West shall become a victim of its own ultimate deterrent: Mutually Assured Destruction. Only the West will face a foe more willing to assure its foe’s annihilation.
But from far off, America will watch in horror as any hopes of geopolitical unanimity disintegrate.
With the devaluation of the nation state comes some blessings. It is unlikely that the horrors of full-scale industrialized war shall be visited upon Europe anytime soon. But instead of a full eruption followed by calm, we have entered a time of constant low-intensity war.
Pax Americana is coming to an end. For some it was never good enough.
I was off on a few things, believing the overpopulation bit, and subscribing to the classic Marxist belief that poverty drives all evil. I actually underestimated the power of Jihad, for Jihad’s sake.
Recent headlines are indicative that the Coming Anarchy is here. Almost all of northern Africa is now swamped by Islamism. Egypt: The Muslim Brotherhood; Libya: al-Qaeda; Somalia: al-Shabab; Nigeria: Boko Haram; Algeria: al-Mua’qi’oon Biddam; Yemen: al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; Mali: Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa. There are now hordes of semi-unified, armed, and very motivated jihadists throughout Africa.
The increased numbers of Muslims whom refuse true integration with the European countries in which they live, combined with the the increasing power of terrorist groups in Africa does not bode well for Europe. When Mali terrorists threatened to attack France in response for French intervention in Mali, they did not make idle threats.
France acted in Mali, both to protect French nationals and to subdue the very real threat that may actually spill onto the European mainland. Frighteningly, French victory in Mali is not assured. This fight will reveal what non-American, western troops are capable of doing against the rapidly strengthening global jihad. A loss will not bode well for the west, and that includes America. Christians are being driven from the Middle east and Africa, and as this article states:
The study warns that Christians suffer greater hostility across the world than any other religious group.
The stupid destruction of the Libyan government is helping to fuel the Mali insurrection. Hopefully this is a lesson to the west. Islamic terrorists love a weak democracy and power vacuums.
UPDATE 22JAN2012: As I’ve said–we’re assimilating, not them. Expect more of this than ever. The white, western jihadist.
Today I feel better than usual. Today I realized something about myself, saw what I am more clearly than I have ever before seen myself; I am an introvert.
I’m fairly skilled at hiding the fact that I’m an introvert, and all but my closest friends, and my wife, would likely be surprised by this revelation. In fact, I’m so adept at hiding my own introversion, that the discovery even shocks me.
By introvert, I do not necessarily mean that I cannot be around people, only that being forced to engage with people whom I do not completely trust is a painful, exhausting ordeal. This sort of engagement condemns me to interact when I would prefer to disengage.
I discovered this fact about myself while examining the cause for my discomfort in the Army. I do well at everything the Army asks me to do, but I never feel comfortable. Hardly ever a day of peace. Then it came to me, as if on the Damascus Road. The Army celebrates extroversion almost as much as a Gay Pride parade. Not only are the top NCOs extreme extroverts, but introverts are actually quite severely punished. I’ve seen NCOs relieved of duty for not yelling at soldiers. NCOs are expected to scream and rant and rave. They are supposed to have strong personalities. That’s ‘leadership.” Believe me, it takes an extreme extrovert to eyeball a complete stranger from across the street and yell at him for not wearing his patrol cap correctly.
From the very first day in the Army, I have felt a deep sense of discomfort, bordering on manic unhappiness. It began in Basic training when I was forced to lodge with dozens of other people, in very close quarters. Again, in everything I excelled. I was voted the best soldier in my platoon in Basic, Soldier of the Year at my previous unit. In AIT, a school that teaches soldiers their specific jobs right after Basic, I spent my weekends almost completely alone. I felt euphoria finally being able to experience solitude. Almost all the other soldiers would hang out together, but not me. I literally just wanted to go somewhere and read a book. I would go to restaurants, and read while eating my meal. If I saw someone I knew, I would turn and avoid them, afraid they would ask me to do something with them, which would take away from my time alone.
I hate Army “formations” in which soldiers are told to gather daily. Hate them with a passion.
One of the most euphoric feelings I recall in my entire life is my first day in Germany, after graduating Army AIT. The Army provided me with a hotel room in Frankfurt, Germany. Finally, I was a lone.
Looking back, I realize that almost all of my problems as a child in school were the result of being an introvert. The other kids seemed so open and desired to be with the group. I didn’t enjoy feeling like an outsider, but I didn’t particularly enjoy extroverts either. I did not feel comfortable in school until college, when I was finally given the power to run my own life. I could choose when and where to interact with people. The Army took away much of my power to be alone.
When I was a young man, one of my good friends said to me, “You’re the biggest loner I know.”
I’m sure he was being truthful; I’m the biggest loner I know, too. Characteristic of an introvert, boredom is never a problem for me. I am almost never bored. German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, an arch-introvert, said that introverts are rarely bored because they gain pleasure from an intellectual world, whereas extroverts gain pleasure more from the external, and more temporal, world. I am constantly amazed by some of the people I work with. They will complain about their work, and the moment they get a chance to relax, they say they are bored.
“That I could clamber to the frozen moon. And draw the ladder after me.”~Arthur Schopenhauer
I am never bored. And I am almost never lonely. The things that make me feel lonely are being away from the people whom I love dearly. But I do not need to be around people with whom I have only passing relationships. I work with many people who cannot do anything unless they are doing it with someone else.
Schopenhauer pointed out another characteristic that he had and shares with me, and is apparently an almost universal aspect of the introvert: Hatred of noise. He said that all his life noise bothered him significantly, and on one occasion, his weakness got him into trouble when he physically assaulted a woman in his apartment building whom he claimed was a chronic noise-maker. He was forced to pay her money from a lawsuit for the rest of her life. So while the introvert has significant advantages in certain areas, such as an ability to think deeply, lack of boredom, maintaining long-term friendships, and very creative, they are easily distracted by the outside world, do not maintain a “network” of people that can help them, and may come off as cranky. So easily distracted am I by other people, that I must do all of my writing and thinking in complete solitude, or I must have a drink of beer, which seems to dull the effects of external stimulation and allows me to remain in my own mind and continue writing amid possible distractions. . At work, I must sometimes shut myself in a room, telling my Captain that I need him to use his rank to keep people from bothering me, while I read intelligence reports and make sense of things.
At times I will return home from work feeling utterly exhausted, as if I had just run a marathon. I often ask myself what I have done that could have made me so tired that I do not do on my days off from work. The answer is that I interact with large amounts of people. I do not want to come across as someone that is a crank all day, though I find myself being more so than when I was younger. Only that my exhaustion is from trying to act like the extrovert I am not. Oddly, I feel dumber when I am with people I know only at a surface level. My instinct is to speak like them, to think like them, so as not to offend. Yet in my inner-most being, I almost never think like them and feel ashamed to tell most people the things I think about: Philosophies, metaphysics, religion, demographics, grand-strategies. All near useless trivia, really. This facade is draining and debilitating.
I have just today, come to grips with what I am and what has caused me so much pain throughout my life. I am fine with it. I know now that I don’t have to appear gregarious if the mood doesn’t strike me. That being quiet is ok. I know that some may doubt my claim to introversion, being that I say some things on this blog and in other writings that may shock some. But I read that introverts are more likely to be intimate online, and I think it fair to say that many historic writers were notorious introverts, recluses, and hermits. All of these things bring to mind wisdom, and even in the age of the extrovert, they are something to hold dear.
There are people in this world that I look forward to speaking to often and I am lonely without. Nothing can replace the smiles of my children. But other than that, I rather look forward to being the old hermit on the top of the mountain, surviving on his own, beholden to none, just thinking, thinking….
“[A Constitution is] not an act of government but of a people constituting a government and a government without a constitution is a power without right…”Thomas Paine
The strength of America used to be its people. Now America’s strength is geography. If the French Third Republic was surrounded by two massive oceans, it, too, may still exist. Instead, the Third Republic was pulverized by a more vital foe, in the form of the German Third Reich. France tried to fortify its own geography when it built the Maginot Line. So dilapidated was France’s will to exist, so stunted its creativity, the Republic’s military could not see the simple solution to defeating the Maginot defenses: Go around it, through Belgium.
Contrary to popular myth, France did not have a weak military. In fact, it was the strongest in Europe, at least on paper. Though German tanks like the Tiger and Panther are the most talked about tanks of WWII, those tanks were relatively rare and did not exist until near the end of the war. France’s intellectual and spiritual dynamism had been gutted after WWI. Just as in modern America, the Left and Right in France became bitter enemies. France’s Right, much like America’s, ( and my own beliefs), believed that the left had lead France into decadence, and the depression of the 1930s fed the country’s cynicism. Sound familiar? Corruption had infected the political, judicial and media systems, culminating in the Dreyfus Affair. The far Right was severely damaged by the event, and the Left surged.
France had no interest in war with Germany. But as Trotsky chimed, war had interest in France. Germany annexed Czechoslovakia and France turned a blind eye, eagerly signing the Munich Agreement in a fruitless attempt to appease Hitler. The rest is history. The once proud French Republic bowed pitifully.
In 1918, France forced the Second Reich to sign an armistice and build a monument which read:
HERE ON THE ELEVENTH OF NOVEMBER 1918 SUCCUMBED THE CRIMINAL PRIDE OF THE GERMAN REICH. VANQUISHED BY THE FREE PEOPLES WHICH IT TRIED TO ENSLAVE.
Now the tables were turned. Evil won. Evil can be more energized than a sedated “good”which violates the Boy Scout Oath: Always Be Prepared. Lazy and sedated is not really good, after all.
I’m going somewhere with this. It’s not about Hitler, The Third Reich, or France; it’s about us. I’ve just taken the long route, as I’m prone to do. My point is that a country’s fate can change very rapidly, especially when internal elites want it to change. The impetus for this article is this piece written by Louis Michael Seidman, published in the New York Times. Seidman is a Constitutional Law professor at Georgetown University. In his op-ed, Seidman contends, essentially, that the United States Constitution should be followed at our leisure, when it is convenient. He defends his position by saying that even some of the Founding Fathers defied the Constitution when they felt it fit, and that currently we spend too much time trying to divine what we thought the Founding Fathers would do instead of just doing what we feel is right.
First off, Seidman comes across as dishonest when he says:
As someone who has taught constitutional law for almost 40 years, I am ashamed it took me so long to see how bizarre all this is.
His article hardly carries the tone of someone who’s had a recent epiphany on the matter.
Secondly, Seidman is plain wrong. He begins his article with:
AS the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.
What provision in the Constitution has caused our government to continuously spend more money than it has? Is it the same provision that the Greek Constitution had when Greece spent itself into irrelevance?
I begin to wonder how such a shallow thinker, whom could write the following, could manage a law degree, let alone hold a respected post at an even more respected school:
Nor, finally, should we have an all-powerful president free to do whatever he wants. Even without constitutional fealty, the president would still be checked by Congress and by the states.
Where does Seidman think that such “checks” would come from other than a Constitution?
Seidman’s most disturbing statement is thus:
Freedom of speech and religion, equal protection of the laws and protections against governmental deprivation of life, liberty or property are important, whether or not they are in the Constitution. We should continue to follow those requirements out of respect, not obligation.
So the logic is as follows: When future leaders stop respecting speech and religion, they should be able to abolish the free practice of both by fiat.
Of course, even a Constitution is no guarantee against tyranny. I remember when I was in college, arguing in open class with my Constitutional Law professor, a lawyer, that the Constitution was merely a piece of paper, and that there was nothing special in its words that could compel all men to obey it. She grew furious, eventually storming out of the class and slamming the door. The class was silent for a few minutes, before, finally, two other students said: “I agree with you.”
The professor missed my point, I think, which was not that government and people should do as they please, without regard to the Constitution, but that, as I’ve written recently, nothing absolutely compels them to obey the law except force. Otherwise, the Constitution is a gentleman’s agreement in a world where not everyone is a gentleman.
In David Berlinski’s brilliant book, The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions, Berlinski writes the following:
At some time after it became clear that Nazi Germany would lose the Second World War, and before the war had actually been lost, one of the senior party officers–perhaps it was Himmler–in confronting the very complicated series of treaty organizations that Germany had accepted with respect to its satraps, wondered out loud, “What, after all, compels us to keep our promises?” It is a troubling question and one that illustrates anew the remarkable genius for moral philosophy the Nazis enjoyed.
Seidman seems to enjoy the fact that nothing can compel a president to obey a law and thus believes we should remove the outdated shackles of the Constitution from the Executive branch. He proposes checks, but does not indicate from where these checks would draw their power. While it is true that the Constitution probably has faults ( as all human creations must) its brilliance is in its generality, which allows for some flexibility. The Constitution is supposed to be difficult to change, like any work of importance. It can be changed. By amendment…
Moreover, a Constitution, even a flawed one, keeps important ideals highlighted in the mind of a people. It draws a people together, and makes a nation, not just a state. It says, we’re in this thing together and we’ll do our best to make it happen. The Constitution is the glue that keeps our parts from flying into the ether and our people from degrading to tribal warfare.
As it says:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
I shy from arguments which summon Hitler. Mostly such arguments seek to shock hearers into agreement. I do not seek this. Well, not only this. Instead, I present the empirical. Hitler, democratically elected, consolidated all powers of the State in the federal government by disintegrating the parliament and he was made Fuhrer.
Many people never dreamed a life-failure like Adolph Hitler could do what he did. A mere corporal in the German Army in WWI, a failure in school, in art, in relationships, a convict. And yet, as Hitler bragged to a British correspondent in Berlin, 1934:
At the risk of appearing to talk nonsense I tell you that the National Socialist movement will go on for 1,000 years! … Don’t forget how people laughed at me 15 years ago when I declared that one day I would govern Germany. They laugh now, just as foolishly, when I declare that I shall remain in power!
There’s quite a few now who think it could never happen again. Unlikely? Sure. Impossible? Never. There have always been experts. The French Third Republic and Germany, both the pinnacle of Western civilization in the 30s, were filled with experts who believes these things could never happen. Many of them also spoke and wrote just as Seidman does now. That men will do the right thing out of respect…
As the French Third Republic shows us, a country can go from military supremacy to signing an armistice in defeat, in a flash, and small-minded but energized men can wreck a nation. Our country is lucky, given its present state, that it has two oceans to guard it, and not a rock wall. That we have Canada to our north and not the Third Reich. Our Constitution has served us as no Constitution has ever served a nation, making America the light on the hill. We should jealously guard it, even with our own blood if need be. It should be changed only with solemn consideration and amendment.
So now I leave you with the oath I swore 4 years ago, and plan to carry to whatever end it brings me. I hope my people will follow:
I, Douglas Moore, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
“He wants his home and security, he wants to live like a sailor at sea. Beautiful loser, where you gonna fall, when you realize–you just can’t have it all…he’ll never make any enemies.” ~Beautiful Loser, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band.
Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.~General John Stark
In the world of video games, there is a term that denotes making something decidedly less potent or dangerous: The term is Nerf.
My Army and indeed my country is trying to Nerf my entire world. It does this under the pretext of caring so much for my safety. Our obsession with safety is in fact making us weaker and thus less safe.
I cannot say that I expect nothing from my government. I expect it to smash the hell out of any enemy that tries to destroy our way of life. I expect it to maintain internal security so that people can enjoy their families and the things they have worked for. Thus I expect the government to toss people in jail whom have committed crimes which harm me or my family–or any other American family. I expect my government to defend its sovereign borders so that my country does not become what others without an American ideal want it to be.
What I do not expect of my government is that it protect me from myself. I do not expect the government to worry about the minutia of dangers that confront man everyday. The government cannot protect me from myself as well as I can. The United States Army has become one of the most risk-averse entities in our risk-averse nation. Soldiers must watch hours of safety videos every few months, many many more hours than they fire their rifles on a practice range, and are expected to wear a reflective belt at times, even when off duty in broad daylight, and must wear knee and elbow pads when in a war zone on patrol. Packing lists for Soldiers readying to deploy easily bring to mind a 5 year Soviet planning cycle. Make sure you bring your sewing kit. Who the hell is Sun Tzu? Because of the (most times) well-meaning cry for troop safety, our troops are weighed down with heavy body armor while trouncing over 8000 ft high mountains, exhausting them. Our enemies dance around in man-dresses and sneakers. In my unit, Soldiers pulling CQ duty (a 24 hour duty in which two Soldiers sit at a desk and communicate any problems to the chain of command), have been ordered to stop any Soldiers whom leave the barracks in shorts, because it’s too cold to be outdoors in shorts. Yes, that’s right, a military that helped annihilate the Nazis and nuked Hiroshima is worried about people wearing shorts in the cold during their off-duty hours. Every Friday, Soldiers must endure long speeches from the chain of command about what not to do during the weekend. They must be reminded that slapping their wives is illegal and driving drunk can result in car crashes. If we have Soldiers that are so stupid they require to be told these things every week, well then, I say let them make their mistake and get them out of the Army. Because that guy will probably blow the back of my head off with an accidental discharge from his M4 carbine. Our gown men used to be able to drink beer while deployed to war. No more. In the Vietnam War, US grunts could bye a 24-pack of beer for $2.40. We did better in Vietnam than in Afghanistan, according to authoritative writer, Bing West… We couldn’t have that now, could we? Surely American Soldiers would go on mad rampages across the Hindu Kush, slaying everything in sight. Somehow we beat the British with many of our troops half in the bag. As far as I’m concerned, denying a man a beer while he endures war is not just cruel, it’s downright un-American. The Puritans–those great foes of the Libertine Left– fed kids the stuff for breakfast, but then MADD busted up the party.
Here’s a quote from the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Glenn Beck’s book, Arguing With Idiots:
Candy Lightner founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving in 1980 after her daughter was killed by a drunk driver, but she ended up leaving her own organization. Why? Mission creep. Here’s what she said….
“[MAAD has] become far more neo-prohibitionist than I had ever wanted or envisioned…I didn’t start MADD to deal with alcohol, I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving.”
In the same chapter, Beck goes on to explain how legislation has been proposed to install devices on all cars that prevent people from driving drunk. As of now, only people whom have been convicted of DUI can have such devices installed by the government. He goes on to make the point that if we focus on the person offending, and not the tool of the offense, we do a better job in dealing with the problem, and we don’t needlessly bother those whom don’t drink and drive, since the majority of the DUI problems come from repeat offenders. And it’s the same thing when it comes to gun control. Taking away guns from the 99% is a tyranny. Many want to do it because the modern Left simply has a difficult time calling anyone whom is not named Dick Cheney or George Bush, evil.
The true shame of this, is that in the Army, NCOs are told that they are not leading unless they are micromanaging the private and professional lives of the Soldiers that work for them. I simply refuse to live like this or lead other men like this. As a kid, I did all kinds of dangerous things, and I’m proud of it. I never wore a bike helmet, yet rode my bike everywhere. Most of my bikes didn’t even have brakes; I had to use my foot on the rotting (dangerously so) tires, to slow myself. I proudly displayed the scabs and scars on my hands from the times I went over the handlebars on the pavement. Myself and groups of other kids engaged in rock fights and BB gun wars. We threw ice-encrusted snowballs at each others face, hoping to give each other black eyes. I carried a rifle around in the woods, unsupervised, at the age of twelve, shooting cute, furry squirrels until I could hear the weeping of bleeding-heart liberals for miles around. And I felt nothing for it except proud of my outstanding marksmanship….I endured 5 knee operations before the age of 25, all from playing that rough, dangerous sport: Backyard football. I boxed and had my brain concussed.
And every one of us boys is better off for having beat the hell out of ourselves.
And why did I do all of it? Because I don’t want to feel completely safe. I never have. I most certainly don’t want someone else making me safe from everything. I mostly want to be left alone to make my own decisions. I want to learn on my own. I don’t want to go to jail, get a fine, or get demoted in rank for failing to make my Soldiers wear knee pads. I want to live in a country that demotes me because my troops didn’t kill enough Taliban fighters, because my troops didn’t make the enemy quit. I know, I know, that makes me a brute. Yet, our addiction to safety helped us lose the war in Afghanistan. Make no mistake, COIN “warfare” is the child of an addiction to safety. It is a system designed to win wars without fighting the enemy. We hope to build the enemy stuff until he quits, we hope that he becomes as sedated with free stuff from the government as this American generation has become. COIN hopes to keep our Soldiers out of danger, but in reality it makes him so at-risk for lack of ridding the battlefield of armed insurgents, that the American fighter spends most of his time running back and forth between villages and friendly bases, instead of rooting the enemy from his enclaves. March to a village, shake some hands and smile at people lying to you and helping safeguard the people whom will kill you, then hurry the hell back to the base before you get shot.
I enjoy danger in my life. Yeah, there are always things the government could do to make us all safer. But at what cost? Should we make a law mandating all cars be coated in 12 inches of nerf material? I’m sure the guy who gets bumped into at a crosswalk would appreciate it. I measure my danger with what it can provide me. I understand there are some dangers we want to control. For instance, I argued quite vehemently for increased screening at Airports, but I’m against gun-free zones around schools. Why? Because I believe one does what it’s supposed to and the other doesn’t. If there were two airlines to choose from, one offering increased screening and pat-downs before boarding a plane, and one that did not, I would choose to use the one that offered increased screening. If there were two schools to choose from, one with a gun free zone and one without, I would choose the one without, hoping the well-vetted principal with 20 years experience in education is well armed and trained. Get it? I lift Russian kettlebells. There is an element of danger in using these, which makes me enjoy them all the more. Throwing around 70 lb iron balls cannot be made purely safe. My hands get torn up, and I’m damn proud of it. They make me a better person, even if I break a wrist.
I don’t want to be told how to pack my rucksack, how many bars of soap to bring with me to Afghanistan, and I sure don’t want to shave my chest, wear pop-collared polo shirts or gloves while weight lifting. I want to be allowed to not wear knee pads. I want to be allowed to fight when I go to war. In short, I want to be a man and not a giant baby. Let me be a big boy so we can focus on the important stuff, and not the things that end up costing us more in the creation of rules and their enforcement than in any protection we gain. We are a country of laws–too many of them–not of men. Why not think like Bruce Lee, and begin to take away before we add. Less is always more efficient, and maybe we can toughen up a bit and remember what a great feeling it is to be able to do things on our own without having to hope the government will protect us from all evil, and maybe fix our toilet if we whine and play the victim well enough.
Maybe we can teach our kids, again, the value of hard work, self-reliance, responsibility and toughness. A nation of individuals that values those things does not require a government that has to keep them in line.
The Journal News recently published a link, displaying the addresses of people in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties, New York, whom hold pistol permits.
If I am to remain consistent in my thinking, that guns deter crime, I must say that The Journal has placed the lives and property of people who don’t have pistol permits, in those counties, at risk. Now, a criminal merely has to pull up the link and ensure that a house he intends to invade is not the home of a licensed handgun owner.
It’s fairly obvious to me the political bent of The Journal News. I pulled up their home page and witnessed the following:
I Eat Plants: 5 Reasons to Consider Going Vegan in the New Year.
So I can surmise The Journal’s motivation for posting these addresses. Yet what better way to make unarmed people less safe than by advertising who is armed?
Although not a pleasant topic so near to Christmas, I feel it necessary to touch on the issue of guns, violence, and the limits of what the law can do to protect us.
First, I will hit upon utility of the law. When I was a police officer, it was common for me to deal with “violations of protection orders”. A protection order is simply a legal piece of paper that ordered one person to stay away from another. It does nearly nothing to stop a person from actually having contact with another; the hope is that the possibility of getting in trouble will deter most people from violating the law. But as I would counsel some of the people who believed in the extraordinary power of the protection order, it is not a force field. It will not make bullets bounce off you. Moreover, people can violate a protection order without the rest of the world knowing they did so. They can stalk their victims, they can make anonymous phone calls, and they can murder their victims and get away with it, just as did O.J. Simpson.
Recently after the shooting at Sandy Hook, I began watching a documentary on the Beslan school shooting in Russia. In the first part of the documentary, a small boy, who was at the school during the massacre, makes a stunningly insightful comment at the 3:06 minute mark:
There is no God, only force. Military force.
I’m not sure whether to be more dismayed by the child’s nihilism, or the fact that he is more philosophically insightful than 99% of the adult liberals whom propose additional laws to control those breaking already existing laws. The laws against homicide did not prevent the children of Sandy Hook from being murdered. Now of course I am not for the removal of laws against murder. They certainly make some people think twice, and they provide us a legal path to imprison those who refuse to play by society’s rule, but they do not guarantee anyone’s safety. Nothing does.
Let’s talk about the usefulness of restricting gun rights. Later, I’ll touch on justice and what our Founding Fathers believed. I’ve already talked about the limits of written law and Blaise Pascal agreed:
Without force, the law is impotent.
Does anyone believe that by restricting access to AR-15s, violent crime will drop? If so, can you support your belief in fact? I can provide support to show the opposite is true.
Two countries, very close to America in cultural climate (and culture is important when considering crime and individual rights), Australia and Britain, experienced astounding increases in violent crime aftter implementing increasingly restrictive gun laws. In 1997, Australia enacted its gun ban. Some believe that Australia has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the world. Five years after the ban, violent crime increased by 42.2%. Rapes jumped by nearly 30%. Shockingly enough, criminals didn’t obey the law.
We love the English accent. It summons thoughts of a refined and stoic people, steadfastly enduring Nazi air raids and fighting evil to the bloody end. Too bad England’s violent crime is even worse than America’s, despite heavy-handed restrictions on guns. In one decade, gun crimes in Britain nearly doubled. And while England has relatively low gun-crime, it is still the violent crime capital of Europe. One of my fundamental problems with modern liberals is not that they want a more peaceful and safe world, but that the laws they propose in order to make such a world rarely do what liberals say they will do. From the Kyoto Protocol to guns laws, the liberal argument is that of Piers Morgan: “We have to do something!” Consider this: Australia and Great Britain are both big islands, making the importation of illegal firearms more difficult than in countries like America. Yet this fact and the strict laws are not nearly enough.
How about trying something that works, doesn’t infringe on the Bill of Rights, and isn’t the child of a dreamy, politically correct world?
Then there’s our friendly neighbor to the south, Mexico. Here’s what the US Consulate in Tijuana web page has to say to Americans travelling to Mexico:
Don’t bring firearms or ammunition across the border into Mexico.
Don’t carry a knife, even a small pocketknife, on your person in Mexico.
You may become one of dozens of U.S. Citizens who are arrested each month for unintentionally violating Mexico’s strict weapons laws.
If you are caught with firearms or ammunition in Mexico…
- You will go to jail and your vehicle will be seized;
- You will be separated from your family, friends, and your job, and likely suffer substantial financial hardship;
- You will pay court costs and other fees ranging into the tens of thousands of dollars defending yourself;
- You may get up to a 30-year sentence in a Mexican prison if found guilty.
If you carry a knife on your person in Mexico, even a pocketknife . . .
- You may be arrested and charged with possession of a deadly weapon;
- You may spend weeks in jail waiting for trial, and tens of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees, court costs, and fines;
- If convicted, you may be sentenced to up to five years in a Mexican prison.
Claiming not to know about the law will not get you leniency from a police officer or the judicial system. Leave your firearms, ammunition, and knives at home. Don’t bring them into Mexico.
Yet the drug cartels, not the Mexican government have the monopoly on violence in Mexico. Draconian gun laws do not prevent drug lords from fielding their own militias. I’ll find somewhere else to vacation, thanks.
I posted the following on my Facebook page earlier today:
Question to Liberals: If you were at Sandy Hook on the day of the shooting, and you had a gun, would you have shot the killer, Adam Lanza? If so, how do you square that with the prevalent argument from the Left that there should be gun-free zones and no armed teachers or guards? If you would not have shot him, how would you live with yourself?
If a person answers that they would shoot the murderer, they admit that having a gun at that time is preferable to not having one. And yet many liberals argue against gun rights. Of course, their argument is only that of Rosie O’Donnell. Guns are for me, not for you. Only me and my bodyguards can be trusted with them. I agree that some people prove they cannot be trusted with guns, but the average American can and should be trusted.
The police cannot protect you. Take it from a former cop. The police protect you only in so far as the criminal fears being caught, after the fact, or to the extant that you can slow the criminal down until the police arrive. If someone breaks into a person’s house, intent on injuring another person, the police will not stop him if the victim has not taken proper precautions in protecting themselves. That’s why I’m for both passive and active defenses in schools. If we make our banks difficult to attack, why not our schools? The disingenuous argument that our school houses would become free-fire zones doesn’t ring true when we consider the less important institutions in America that have far more security than schools, yet don’t resemble the Wild West.
Of all the myths of the Left, none is more beloved than, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Our most advanced writers–the Leftist intellectuals ensconced in the cocoon of academia, could only hope so. Thus their over-reliance on such entities as the State Department and United Nations. Talking and making rules doesn’t mean jack to the people we’re worried about. Force does.
Finally, there is the philosophical and historical argument for gun rights in America.
Thomas Hobbes said it best:
A man cannot lay down the right of resisting them that assault him by force, to take away his life.
If the government takes away the right of a man to defend his life, it essentially takes away his life. Any effort by the government to take away the right to self-protection assumes the ability of the government to adequately protect the individual, which it cannot do. Were all citizens afforded a Secret Service protection detail, such regulation may be justifiable. But that’s an impossibility.
Sometimes justice outpaces utility. For instance, in my mind, just as Edmund Burke argued, free trade is not so much about utility (how much in taxes the government can harvest) as it is about what’s right: It is right that people should keep what they work for. In the case of guns, it is right that I be able to protect my child and myself. It is not right that a man be able to break into my house and rape my wife without me being able to shoot him in the face…
The statements of America’s Founding Fathers and other respected historical figures are replete with support for individual gun ownership. While I’ll try to avoid appeal-to-authority fallacies, I submit that these figures deserve to be heard, and sufficient evidence is required to overturn the wisdom of these men. The proposed gun control laws have proven insufficient in the past in this country and in others. And they violate my inalienable right to protect myself. A law that both doesn’t work and harms individual liberty is a bad law, something this country surely doesn’t need any more of.
I’ll leave you with a few gems from the brilliant men that left it in our hands to maintain that great thing we take for granted: Our own liberty.
Are we at last brought to such a humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defence? Where is the difference between having our arms in our own possession and under our own direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defence be the *real* object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?
– Patrick Henry, speech of June 9 1788
“The great object is, that every man be armed. [...] Every one who is able may have a gun.”
– Patrick Henry, speech of June 14 1788
“The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good”
– George Washington
“Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
“This is not gonna stop. It keeps going on and on.” ~Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction.
Since junior high school, I’ve been a semi-regular chess player. In high school I was on the chess club for two years. I had absolutely no formal instruction, just as with virtually every other skill (or obsession) I have.
I believe I am afflicted with what I call multi-monomania. A monomania is an obsession with a singular activity. A monomaniacal person is otherwise sane, though his or her obsession can appear odd to persons not so afflicted. I say that I am multi-monomaniacal because I go through phases of being obsessed with singular activities, but the obsession rarely lasts for very long, with a few exceptions. In the past, my monomania has manifested itself in softball, weightlifting, writing, fencing, pistol shooting, and chess. I’m sure I’m missing a few things.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s fascinating book, Outliers: The Story of Success, Gladwell writes about the “10,000 hour-rule”. This rule is based upon the studies of Anders Ericcson, and professor at the Florida State University who found that what separated elite violinists from the merely exceptional was the number of hours they’d dedicated to practice. The elites got in 10,ooo hours while the could-have-beens logged 8,000 on average. Gladwell goes on to document how some very well-known people’s life circumstances enabled them to log 10,000 hours of study and practice in their chosen field, while some other people’s lives, due to environmental circumstances, make it nearly impossible for them to discover or use innate talents.
Gladwell does not dismiss talent. He merely states that past a certain point, say IQ or less concrete measurements of ability, opportunity matters more. He says that somewhere after an IQ of 120, the level of intelligence it takes to be a very successful college student, time, opportunity and hard work begin to make the biggest difference.
We have a love/hate relationship with the geniuses of the world. At once we want to believe that there are people born special and yet we despise the thought because this would mean that most of us could never achieve spectacular results. But I am now suspicious of the term genius and what it means. In fact, I believe most geniuses are merely monomaniacs. Take Mozart for example, whom people often remember for his childhood genius. After all, he wrote music at a very young age. But as Gladwell points out, young Mozart’s music was terrible by any measure. Mozart’s obsession, not merely innate genius, drove him to practice for thousands of hours, and thus become a legend. Eddie Van Halen would walk around his house as a kid, with his guitar strapped on, playing all day long. He locked himself in his room, stalking his obsession.
Obsession is underrated. When I was younger, I became obsessed with men’s league, slow-pitch softball. I know this seems a strange obsession, but the sport is very popular, involving thousands of people in various cities around the nation. I first began playing at around the age of 17, playing with grown men who were much bigger and stronger. I’d always been a good athlete, and had a lot of power hitting a baseball. But softball required that the power come entirely from the hitter; the ball simply didn’t come in fast enough to bounce off a bat with significant force. I wanted to hit home runs, to hit for power. One guy on that team told me: “Doug, you’re not gonna be able to hit home runs.” I knew he was wrong. I was small, 160 lbs maybe. 5’8″. But I had the power of obsession. I had a hand-eye talent. I put the two together. I would practice for hours, hitting. A couple of friends and I would go to a field and pitch balls to each other, entire days spent swinging a bat. Lunacy. I jumped in on every game I could. I started lifting weights to increase my power. Several years later, I was the cleanup hitter on a state championship team.
Another obsession was weightlifting. I saw its power to increase athletic performance when it came to softball. Why not see what kind of limits I could push? I bought Pavel Tsatsouline’s, Power to the People. In the book, Tsatsouline outlines a simple plan to gain strength: Practice often on a small set of lifts, namely the deadlift and the side press. Tsatsouline’s premise is that if you treat weight lifting like training a skill, you’ll consistently get better. He is right.
A miracle ensued. About 3 years after buying the book, I deadlifted 485 lbs with only a weight belt, and drug-free. The lift was video taped in the basement of the police department I worked in. At my body weight of under 180 lbs, a 485 lb deadlift would have been enough to win a state championship.
At some point I also became obsessed with fencing. Yes, a weightlifter wanted to jump around in white tights. I won the first tournament I entered, amateur class (less than two years experience).
Then there’s chess, at random intervals through my life. As a kid, I was mildly obsessed, but did not have the life experience or formal training to know how to study the game properly. I didn’t know why I lost or won. I could beat almost anyone who had a similar level of experience, but fell flat when facing advanced players and I had no idea why.
Charles Krauthammer, a former psychiatrist and avid chess player, believes chess can become a monomania. It’s quite obvious this is the case in some. In fact, you can’t find a world champion who doesn’t spend the greater portion of their life playing an unimportant game. Bobby Fischer, considered by some the greatest chess player ever, famously stated: “Chess is life”. How much more monomaniacal can you get? Of course, Fischer succumbed to full madness before the age of 30…
Pavel Tsatsouline taught me several things, via his knowledge of Russian studies on learning skills:
1) You should practice your chosen skill at the expense of others.
2) You should make your practice regular; a little daily practice is more effective than a lot of practice lumped into a short time. Cramming is not the best way to go.
3) Through the “Reminiscence Effect” you can learn by resting. As you practice your skill, you will encounter periods in which you actually get worse at your skill. Small amounts of time off (not too much, however) can lead to increased skill.
4) Slowly increase the complexity and difficulty of your skill practice–but not too fast!
So it’s chess again for me. Well, there’s a few other obsessions I have right now, but chess is one of them. I recently made it a duty to play chess every day, or any day that I could, and to become a better chess player. I have Chess Titans on my computer, and play it almost daily. In a short time, about two or three weeks, I’m beating the computer on levels which whipped my butt before that.
My thesis, is that almost all genius is actually obsession. The monomaniac gains an unusual pleasure in the area they study, and they study it intensely to the exception of most other skills. The younger the monomania sets in, the more likely the person can reach Ericsson’s 10,000 hours. Talent may cut some hours off, but it’s only the time that makes a “genius”. The key is that to a monomaniac, the hard work does not feel like work at all.
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” ~Isaiah 6:8
After the Virginia Tech University shootings in 2007, I wrote an article published in the Bangor Daily News, entitled “This is Not Us”. In the article I stated that the shooting did not define America, that Seung-Hui Cho, the shooter, was an outsider, an aberration.
I was wrong.
Since the shootings at VT, a series of mass murders across America have proven me too hopeful in the American people. We asked for the secular, and we got nihilism. We asked for a public forum without a whisper of God, and we produced a hopeless generation. Hopelessness is the logical end-state for a Godless universe. Intelligent people, as most of these shooters appear to have been, easily see the meaningless of everything if in fact God does not exist. A byproduct of hopelessness is rage.
And so our society has shifted from one that controlled itself with internal mechanisms, to one that must now be controlled by external rules. the Liberals have it right: No God=Fewer Internal Inhibitions=Need for totalitarian state that controls our evil, even if it be with evil.
The 2nd Amendment was created by and for spiritual people. Nay, religious people. Taken out of that context it is insanity to arm a populace. There are some people who simply should not own guns, just as there are some people who should not be free. But as has been said: Guns cause crime like spoons cause Rosie O’Donnell to be fat. As far as I’m concerned, the teachers should be armed.
We summoned the Genie, and cannot easily put him back in the bottle.
One side of America is inhabited by a hyper-violent , feral youth. On the other side are the secular, near-pacifistic dreamers, lolling in their agnosticism, jamming their fingers in their ears when they hear talk about what happens to us after we die. So, when the feral child meets the pacifist-intellectual-agnostic-socialist, the armed barbarian wins. The stunning fact is that almost no one knows how to stop a shooter, even an untrained one, once he begins blasting innocents in close quarters. So great is the schism between our tepid, liberal moralists and the demon brood they bore, that it’s like watching the Frankenstein Monster rampage through its creator’s sterile laboratory.
When Major Nidal Malik Hasan carried out his Jihad at Fort Hood in 2009, killing 12 Soldiers and civilians and wounding 29, I was stunned that no one tried to stop him. It took two civilian police officers with guns to bring him down. No Soldier tackled him while he was blasting away, no one punched him while he was reloading, and certainly no Soldier was carrying a weapon so as to defend the innocent. Not one Soldier had the training or the mindset required to bring down Hasan.
I remember thinking that I wished I could have been at Fort Hood, that readiness center where Hasan shot so many people. Much of my professional life has been spent preparing for such an incident. As a police officer, I ran various scenarios through my head on a regular basis. I don’t know if I could have saved anyone, but I hope I would have tried.
After the shootings at Columbine High School, police departments significantly changed their training. The old protocols for shootings inside buildings called for responding officers to surround the building and wait for SWAT to arrive. Columbine proved the ineffectiveness of this strategy. While officers surrounded the school Klebold and Harris executed fellow students in cold blood. Officers did nothing. The law enforcement community knew it could not stand by again while people died. It was a police officer’s duty to face danger, to run to gunfire while others ran away. Thus the genesis of “active shooter” training. The first officers on the scene are now trained to form their own entry team, if the shooter is killing people, and go in to get him.
I studied various ways of disarming people carrying firearms. These included Israeli Krav Maga and Russian Systema. Krav Maga taught me that while a pistol gave its wielder great power, it also focused his attention on maintaining control of it, and also that defensive moves must be accompanied by a powerful offensive attack to quickly stop the threat. Russian Systema taught me that angles of movement toward a gunman significantly reduce his chances of hitting you.
Of course none of this would have made me completely safe. But I have come to grips with he fact that I may die while trying to do something I think is right. It must have been the same thinking that Todd Beamer had, when he uttered the immortal words: “Let’s roll” as he and others moved to stop the al-Qaeda jihadists who’d hijacked Flight 93.
Yesterday I looked at the photos of some of the children that died in the Connecticut school shooting. I began to cry. Why couldn’t I have been there? I wish I’d been there. I’m not second-guessing what other people did, but I am dismayed that yet another massacre happened and ended only when the person doing the shooting merely ran out of gas. I don’t want to be a hero. But I’ve come to grips with what’s worth fighting and dying for. And I’ll be damned if some 130 lb psychopath mowing down 4th graders is going to kill me before I make him eat the barrel of his own weapon.
Every good man should think about what he will do in such a situation. Every good man should have already considered what he is willing to fight and die for before that event takes place. And by fighting I don’t mean throwing yourself in front of bullets. I mean taking out the aggressor. We need more Todd Beamers.
To me, a few more children seeing this Christmas would have been something worth dying for.