Friday, January 18, 2013

A New Anti-Terror Front? Yes, the Government Thinks it's 'Right-Wing Extremists'

By John Fund
January 18, 2013

The world is beset by terrorists — witness the American hostages taken in Algeria this week — but portions of our federal government continue to obsess about alleged home-grown threats from the “far right.”
The Combating Terrorism Center, which is based at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, has issued a new report on its website entitled
“Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right.”
Normally, the center’s activities are focused on al-Qaeda and other violent Islamic groups seeking to topple governments around the world. But the latest report looks inside America itself, and if the center is to be judged by the quality of its analysis in this report, it might be wise for all of us to be skeptical of its other work. The Center’s report lumps together entirely legitimate tea-party-style activists with three groups it says represent “a racist/white supremacy movement, an anti-federalist movement and a fundamentalist movement.” Together all these forces are said to have engaged in 350 “attacks initiated by far-right groups/individuals” in 2011, although the report never specifies what makes an attack a “far right” action. 
The report’s author is Arie Perliger, who directs the Center’s terrorism studies and teaches social sciences at West Point. I can only imagine what his classes are like as his report manages to lump together every known liberal stereotype about conservatives between its covers.
As Rowan Scarborough of the Washington Times, who broke news of the report on Thursday,recounts:
[The Center’s report] says anti-federalists “espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals’ civil and constitutional rights. Finally, they support civil activism, individual freedoms, and self government. Extremists in the anti-federalist movement direct most their violence against the federal government and its proxies in law enforcement.”
The report also draws a link between the mainstream conservative movement and the violent “far right,” and describes liberals as “future oriented” and conservatives as living in the past.
“While liberal worldviews are future- or progressive -oriented, conservative perspectives are more past-oriented, and in general, are interested in preserving the status quo,” the report says. “The far right represents a more extreme version of conservatism, as its political vision is usually justified by the aspiration to restore or preserve values and practices that are part of the idealized historical heritage of the nation or ethnic community.”
The report adds: “While far-right groups’ ideology is designed to exclude minorities and foreigners, the liberal-democratic system is designed to emphasize civil rights, minority rights and the balance of power.”
The Times quotes a congressional staffer who has served in the military calling the report a “junk study.” The staffer then asked: “The $64,000 dollar question is when will the Combating Terrorism Center publish their study on real left-wing terrorists like the Animal Liberation Front, Earth Liberation Front, and the Weather Underground?”
This is not the first time elements of the federal government have tried to smear conservatives with sloppy work and a broadbrush analysis.
In 2009, liberals in the Department of Homeland Security prepared a report defining “rightwing extremism in the United States” as including not just hate groups, but also groups that reject federal authority in favor of federalism or local control. “It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single-issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration,” a footnote in the report warned.
The DHS report bore the ominous title: “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.” Sent to hundreds of local law enforcement officials, the report claimed that “right wing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first African-American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal through propaganda, but they have not yet turned to attack planning.”
A casual reader might have concluded that “attack planning” by said groups is inevitable. But the report is silent on just how the groups will attack, and indeed since 2009 there has been precious little evidence any of them ever did.
After much public ridicule, the DHS report vanished from public view as did a similar effort at the same time by the Missouri Highway Patrol, which had to retract its own report linking conservative groups with militia activity and mentioning 2008 presidential candidates Ron Paul and Bob Barr.
No one doubts the existence of racist and hate-filled groups that require monitoring. But both the DHS and West Point reports read as if they were laying the groundwork for a rhetorical attack on mainstream conservatism of the sort that President Clinton launched in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, when he blamed talk radio for stirring up anti-government passions. No one should be surprised if supporters of new gun-control measures begin justifying them by referring to the West Point report.
The Obama administration raised eyebrows back in 2009 when Janet Napolitano’s DHS substituted the phrase “man-made disasters” for the dangers posed by Islamic terrorism. My sources inside Congress tell me they continue to worry that efforts to monitor domestic Muslim extremists as well as interdiction efforts against radical Islamists crossing the U.S. border are sometimes put on the back burner. The government denies this, but it seems to me its protestations would be more persuasive if it spent less time producing half-baked warnings about the danger of “right-wing extremists.”

An Infantile Spectacle
President Barack Obama set a new standard for stupidly exploitative White House events by appearing onstage with children to unveil his gun-control proposals.
He quoted from the kids’ letters. He invoked their Solomonic authority: “Their voices should compel us to change.” He signed executive orders as they gazed on adoringly. He hugged and high-fived them.
No doubt every parent thinks his or her little Johnny or Sally is the next James Q. Wilson. That doesn’t make it so. Some of the wisdom that the president shared from his adorable pen pals was, “I want everybody to be happy and safe,” and “I feel really bad.”
News flash: Kids don’t want bad things to happen. This would be a genuinely useful insight — if we could write public policy in crayon. The White House event smacked of the old unilateral-disarmament campaigns of the 1980s, when we were supposed to abolish nuclear weapons because they scared youngsters.
We can assume that the kids onstage with Obama don’t have a fine-grained sense of the limits of gun control or a proper regard for the Second Amendment. That’s okay, but — neither does he.
It can’t be said that using kids as props was beneath the gravity of the occasion, since the occasion was all about feel-good PR and make-believe. For all the emphasis on preventing another Sandy Hook, Obama didn’t offer any gun-control proposals that would do it.
The president plugged for a universal background check. Adam Lanza’s mother, who owned the guns he used on his rampage, passed a background check. James Holmes, the Aurora, Colo., shooter, passed two background checks. So did the Virginia Tech shooter (although he shouldn’t have).
The president wants a new assault-weapons ban. He told of how another school shooting happened in California while networks were broadcasting a Joe Biden news conference about his task force. Obama didn’t mention that the shooter used a shotgun, not an assault weapon. He could have said that there was yet another shooting at a Kentucky community college. The shooter used a semiautomatic pistol.
During his remarks introducing the president, Biden invoked Colin Goddard, a survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting who was in the audience. Seung-Hui Cho shot him four times. Not with an assault weapon. Cho perpetrated the worst school shooting in U.S. history with a semiautomatic pistol.
The president called for a ban on magazines of more than ten rounds (fewer than some guns have as a standard feature). This would have made a difference in Newtown only if you presume that Lanza, who knew his way around firearms, couldn’t have reloaded in the permissive environment of an elementary school without a guard.
Unfortunately, no one can write a law against mothers’ owning guns that one day might be turned against them by deranged sons who then commit horrific acts of murder-suicide. Shooting rampages are very hard to prevent because they are so often committed by disturbed young men without criminal records who don’t care if they are caught and usually want to die.
These are adult facts that don’t intrude on the childish world of White House policymaking. They must have eluded Biden in the course of his consultations with 229 different groups that just happened to result in recommendations from his task force that anyone could have predicted beforehand.
To justify any gun-control measure, no matter how ineffectual or symbolic, Biden talks of adopting an “if it saves one life” standard. If that really were the White House’s guiding principle — politics and the expense be damned — it would push massive stop-and-frisk crackdowns in the nation’s cities. It would take up the National Rifle Association’s proposal for armed guards at every school in America. But what it really wants is as much gun control as it can plausibly get in the aftermath of Newtown. As Rahm Emanuel might put it, never let a massacre go to waste.
There’s no reason for kids to see through this. Discerning adults should.
— Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via e-mail: © 2013 King Features Syndicate

Mark Steyn: In the Absence of Guns


In the Absence of Guns

In Britain, defending your property can get you life. 
Celebrity news from the United Kingdom: In April, Germaine Greer, the Australian feminist and author of The Female Eunuch, was leaving her house in East Anglia, when a young woman accosted her, forced her back inside, tied her up, smashed her glasses, and then set about demolishing her ornaments with a poker.
A couple of weeks before that, the 85-year-old mother of Phil Collins, the well-known rock star, was punched in the ribs, the back, and the head on a West London street, before her companion was robbed. “That’s what you have to expect these days,” she said, philosophically.
Anthea Turner, the host of Britain’s top-rated National Lottery TV show, went to see the West End revival of Grease with a friend. They were spotted at the theatre by a young man who followed them out and, while their car was stuck in traffic, forced his way in and wrenched a diamond-encrusted Rolex off the friend’s wrist.
A week before that, the 94-year-old mother of Ridley Scott, the director of Alien and other Hollywood hits, was beaten and robbed by two men who broke into her home and threatened to kill her.
Former Bond girl Britt Ekland had her jewelry torn from her arms outside a shop in Chelsea; Formula One Grand Prix racing tycoon and Tony Blair confidante Bernie Ecclestone was punched and kicked by his assailants as they stole his wife’s ring; network TV chief Michael Green was slashed in the face by thugs outside his Mayfair home; gourmet chef to the stars Anton Mosimann was punched in the head outside his house in Kensington…. 
Rita Simmonds isn’t a celebrity but, fortunately, she happened to be living next door to one when a gang broke into her home in upscale Cumberland Terrace, a private road near Regent’s Park. Tom Cruise heard her screams and bounded to the rescue, chasing off the attackers for 300 yards, though failing to prevent them from reaching their getaway car and escaping with two jewelry items worth around $140,000.
It’s just as well Tom failed to catch up with the gang. Otherwise, the ensuing altercation might have resulted in the diminutive star being prosecuted for assault. In Britain, criminals, police, and magistrates are united in regarding any resistance by the victim as bad form. The most they’ll tolerate is “proportionate response”—and, as these thugs had been beating up a defenseless woman and posed no threat to Tom Cruise, the Metropolitan Police would have regarded Tom’s actions as highly objectionable. “Proportionate response” from the beleaguered British property owner’s point of view, is a bit like a courtly duel where the rules are set by one side: “Ah,” says the victim of a late-night break-in, “I see you have brought a blunt instrument. Forgive me for unsheathing my bread knife. My mistake, old boy. Would you mind giving me a sporting chance to retrieve my cricket bat from under the bed before clubbing me to a pulp, there’s a good chap?”
No wonder, even as they’re being pounded senseless, many British crime victims are worrying about potential liability. A few months ago, Shirley Best, owner of the Rolander Fashion boutique whose clients include the daughter of the Princess Royal, was ironing some garments when two youths broke in. They pressed the hot iron into her side and stole her watch, leaving her badly burnt. “I was frightened to defend myself,” said Miss Best. “I thought if I did anything I would be arrested.”
And who can blame her? Shortly before the attack, she’d been reading about Tony Martin, a Norfolk farmer whose home had been broken into and who had responded by shooting and killing the teenage burglar. He was charged with murder. In April, he was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment—for defending himself against a career criminal in an area where the police are far away and reluctant to have their sleep disturbed. In the British Commonwealth, the approach to policing is summed up by the motto of Her Majesty’s most glamorous constabulary: The Mounties always get their man—i.e., leave it to us. But these days in the British police, when they can’t get their man, they’ll get you instead: Frankly, that’s a lot easier, as poor Mr. Martin discovered.
Norfolk is a remote rural corner of England. It ought to be as peaceful and crime-free as my remote rural corner of New England. But it isn’t. Old impressions die hard: Americans still think of Britain as a low-crime country. Conversely, the British think of America as a high-crime country. But neither impression is true. The overall crime rate in England and Wales is 60 percent higher than that in the United States. True, in America you’re more likely to be shot to death. On the other hand, in England you’re more likely to be strangled to death. But in both cases, the statistical likelihood of being murdered at all is remote, especially if you steer clear of the drug trade. When it comes to anything else, though—burglary, auto theft, armed robbery, violent assault, rape—the crime rate reaches deep into British society in ways most Americans would find virtually inconceivable.
I cite those celebrity assaults not because celebrities are more prone to wind up as crime victims than anyone else, but only because the measure of a civilized society is how easily you can insulate yourself from its snarling underclass. In America, if you can make it out of some of the loonier cities, it’s a piece of cake, relatively speaking. In Britain, if even a rock star or TV supremo can’t insulate himself, nobody can. In any society, criminals prey on the weak and vulnerable. It’s the peculiar genius of government policy to have ensured that in British society everyone is weak and vulnerable —from Norfolk farmers to Tom Cruise’s neighbor.
And that’s where America is headed if those million marching moms make any headway in Washington: Less guns = more crime. And more vulnerability. And a million more moms being burgled, and assaulted, and raped. I like hunting, but if that were the only thing at stake with guns, I guess I could learn to live without it. But I’m opposed to gun control because I don’t see why my neighbors in New Hampshire should have to live the way, say, my sister-in-law does—in a comfortable manor house in a prosperous part of rural England, lying awake at night listening to yobbo gangs drive up, park their vans, and test her doors and windows before figuring out that the little old lady down the lane’s a softer touch.
Between the introduction of pistol permits in 1903 and the banning of handguns after the Dunblane massacre in 1996, Britain has had a century of incremental gun control—“sensible measures that all reasonable people can agree on.” And what’s the result? Even when you factor in America’s nutcake jurisdictions with the crackhead mayors, the overall crime rate in England and Wales is higher than in all 50 states, even though over there they have more policemen per capita than in the U.S., on vastly higher rates of pay installing more video surveillance cameras than anywhere else in the Western world. Robbery, sex crimes, and violence against the person are higher in England and Wales; property crime is twice as high; vehicle theft is higher still; the British are 2.3 times more likely than Americans to be assaulted, and three times more likely to be violently assaulted. Between 1973 and 1992, burglary rates in the U.S. fell by half. In Britain, not even the Home Office’s disreputable reporting methods (if a burglar steals from 15 different apartments in one building, it counts as a single crime) can conceal the remorseless rise: Britons are now more than twice as likely as Americans to be mugged; two-thirds will have their property broken into at some time in their lives. Even more revealing is the divergent character between U.K. and U.S. property crime: In America, just over 10 percent of all burglaries are “hot burglaries”—committed while the owners are present; in Britain, it’s over half. Because of insurance-required alarm systems, the average thief increasingly concludes that it’s easier to break in while you’re on the premises. Your home-security system may conceivably make your home more safe, but it makes you less so.
Conversely, up here in the New Hampshire second congressional district, there are few laser security systems and lots of guns. Our murder rate is much lower than Britain’s and our property crime is virtually insignificant. Anyone want to make a connection? Villains are expert calculators of risk, and the likelihood of walking away uninjured with an $80 television set is too remote. In New Hampshire, a citizen’s right to defend himself deters crime; in Britain, the state-inflicted impotence of the homeowner actively encourages it. Just as becoming a drug baron is a rational career move in Colombia, so too is becoming a violent burglar in the United Kingdom. The chances that the state will seriously impede your progress are insignificant.
Now I’m Canadian, so, as you might expect, the Second Amendment doesn’t mean much to me. I think it’s more basic than that. Privately owned firearms symbolize the essential difference between your great republic and the countries you left behind. In the U.S., power resides with “we, the people” and is leased ever more sparingly up through town, county, state, and federal government. In Britain and Canada, power resides with the Crown and is graciously devolved down in limited doses. To a north country Yankee it’s self-evident that, when a burglar breaks into your home, you should have the right to shoot him—indeed, not just the right, but the responsibility, as a freeborn citizen, to uphold the integrity of your property. But in Britain and most other parts of the Western world, the state reserves that right to itself, even though at the time the ne’er-do-well shows up in your bedroom you’re on the scene and Constable Plod isn’t: He’s some miles distant, asleep in his bed, and with his answering machine on referring you to central dispatch God knows where.
These days it’s standard to bemoan the “dependency culture” of state welfare, but Britain’s law-and-order “dependency culture” is even more enfeebling. What was it the police and courts resented about that Norfolk farmer? That he “took the law into his own hands”? But in a responsible participatory democracy, the law ought to be in our hands. The problem with Britain is that the police force is now one of the most notable surviving examples of a pre-Thatcher, bloated, incompetent, unproductive, overpaid, closed-shop state monopoly. They’re about as open to constructive suggestions as the country’s Communist mineworkers’ union was 20 years ago, and the control-freak tendencies of all British political parties ensure that the country’s bloated, expensive county and multi-county forces are inviolable.
The Conservatives’ big mistake between 1979 and 1997 was an almost willfully obtuse failure to understand that giving citizens more personal responsibility isn’t something that extends just to their income and consumer choices; it also applies to their communities and their policing arrangements. If you have one without the other, you end up with modem Britain: a materially prosperous society in which the sense of frustration and impotence is palpable, and you’re forced to live with a level of endless property crime most Americans would regard as unacceptable.
We know Bill Clinton’s latest favorite statistic—that 12 “kids” a day die from gun violence—is bunk: Five-sixths of those 11.569 grade-school moppets are aged between 15 and 19, and many of them have had the misfortune to become involved in gangs, convenience-store hold-ups, and drug deals, which, alas, have a tendency to go awry. If more crack deals passed off peacefully, that “child” death rate could be reduced by three-quarters. But away from those dark fringes of society, Americans live lives blessedly untouched by most forms of crime—at least when compared with supposedly more civilized countries like Britain. That’s something those million marching moms should consider, if only because in a gun-free America women—and the elderly and gays and all manner of other fashionable victim groups—will be bearing the brunt of a much higher proportion of violent crime than they do today. Ask Phil Collins or Ridley Scott or Germaine Greet.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

How big a gun does anyone need?

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January 17, 2013

How big a Gun does Anyone Need?

By Gary Henderson

The public discourse suddenly swirls angrily around this issue: How big a gun should people be allowed to own, with how many bullets? Despite all the furor, the question has a very simple answer. But it's the wrong question.
Even those who routinely carry a concealed weapon, and certainly many who don't, wrestle with the question, "How much firepower does anyone need?" Perhaps those who don't own weapons think the answer should be very close to zero. Those who know that many times each year violent attacks are stopped when someone simply shows a weapon understand that self-defense tools are legitimate and necessary, but still worry about where the line should be above that level.
Legislators are hurriedly drafting a variety of bills to answer the question, phrasing them in terms of how evil a weapon looks, whether it automatically chambers the next shell for you, and how many cartridges it can feed. For those more knowledgeable about guns, the real concern is with things far beyond the personal defense category: rocket-propelled grenades, for example, the sort of things jihadists bring to a party at the U.S. embassy.
Here are some simple, foundational ideas to help sort it out.
The first principle is that the federal government has no constitutional say whatsoever in the size or quantity of weapons maintained by the people -- because that very government is the most dangerous person in the room. The Second Amendment has one purpose: to ensure that "we the people" can withstand a tyrannical government, for perhaps the first time in history. The writings of James Madison (Federalist #46), among others, make that abundantly clear.
Since the fashion these days is to pass legislation without reading it, everyone can play. Given the Second Amendment, you can know this without even reading the new laws: whatever they pass or decree at the federal level will be unconstitutional. Why? Because the federal government is specifically forbidden by that Amendment from even addressing the question.
The second principle comes to our rescue: the powers not delegated to the federal government are retained by the states and the people. (Sound familiar? The Tenth Amendment.) So the question really has to be addressed by the states, which can afford and manage any size weapons they choose. When we get beyond home and personal defense weapons, the question is not whether your neighbor will have a tank, but whether your state will.
Different states will decide differently. My state of Texas might love freedom and lean very heavily into "whatever it takes." States that love the power of big government and the illusion of gun control might choose an answer close to zero, as Illinois and New York have already done. The result? Rapid absorption into the federal entity, where the government is armed, the elite have bodyguards, and the citizens are helpless. They'll feel right at home.
Each of us can then live in whatever state we prefer based on their policies on this and many other subjects. This is federalism as it was designed to operate.
The third principle is the one that worries us: resistance must be able to be effective in order to be... effective. The fact that the founders did not know about AK-47s is irrelevant. In the context of the Second Amendment, "whatever it takes" is the correct answer to the "how much" question. As Judge Andrew Napolitano expressed it,
The historical reality of the Second Amendment's protection of the right to keep and bear arms is not that it protects the right to shoot deer. It protects the right to shoot tyrants, and it protects the right to shoot at them effectively, thus, with the same instruments they would use upon us.
In Federalist #46 James Madison scoffs at the idea that the states would ever allow the federal government to become this lawless, but if they did, he assures his readers that the mass of citizens able to bear arms would always be able to resist the much smaller army a federal government might muster against them; the unspoken assumption is one of equivalent arms.
If that raises fears about how heavily citizens might need to arm themselves because of a hostile administration, we should focus our efforts on forcing the national government back within its prescribed constitutional limits so the concern can be forgotten. On the other hand, if we need bigger defensive weapons because drug lords are bringing automatic weapons across the border into our southern cities, that is again because of the federal government refusing to carry out its constitutional mandates, and even providing those weapons.
In one case, the federal government is becoming a tyrant; in the other, it is derelict. In either case, the citizens and states must respond to the federal lawlessness.
The fourth fundamental reality is that we're starting at the wrong place, and therefore asking the wrong question.
Whether we are discussing salt, tobacco, gasoline, fountain drinks, greasy hamburgers, or guns, much wrong-headed policy today is being driven by the question, "How much does anyone need?" In Venezuela, Soviet Russia, or present-day England, it might be different, but here the correct answer is, "Whatever they want."
Not because we support greed, plundering the rest of the world, or any of the other accusations the left throws at the right, but because of sovereignty. Your sovereignty. Yes, yours.
In America, based on the ideals expressed so well by John Locke and adopted by our framers, sovereignty rests with the individual, and then by extension his family. He then delegates some of that to the community, in exchange for protection of his rights -- some is delegated to his city, some to his state, and then a few things were entrusted to a national government.
But none of those entities get to decide what a man needs; only that man himself does. While he lives within the legal boundaries of the societies he has willingly submitted to (including state-level weapons laws), he remains free, autonomous, and sovereign in his sphere.
Even if everything about him offends you and worries you.
Just like you, he is an adult, a free citizen in a free society. How much of any legal product he wants is purely a matter of what he can pay for and how he wishes to spend his own resources. A small handgun for protection at the mall and on the street? Something stronger for hunting and protection against home invasions? All of the above? He'd like to stock a few thousand shells, in case a hostile government decides to ban them? None of our business. In fact, I may be very glad he made those choices if the economy collapses, mobs take to the street, and I live next to him.
So the real question is who gets to decide what a man needs or wants. In America, until a man breaks the law, he does. If you reject that principle, you are left with statist tyranny, of which two flavors currently dominate the rest of the world.
The underlying principle which we abandon to our great risk is that in a free society we trust each other. Sometimes nervously. But we certainly trust each other far more than we trust the government where money flows, power accumulates, and that accumulated power corrupts. In America we don't punish people for crimes they haven't committed, or search our citizens without warrants because years ago a foreign enemy hijacked four airplanes and attacked us.
Oh, wait, I guess we do.
Gary Henderson is the author of Freedom. You Can Handle It. But Hurry!

Page Printed from: at January 17, 2013 - 07:21:27 AM CST

7 Crappy Products, Courtesy of the Green Movement

By J. Christian Adams
January 17, 2013

In the good old days, consumers got what they wanted. Supply and demand, not causes or ideology, governed product design and manufacturing. That’s why we have great American icons like the 1969 Chevy Camaro, the charcoal-burning Weber grill, and DDT.
But things have changed. The Green Movement’s worship of scarcity has changed the consumer landscape for the worse. Instead of big, powerful, and, most importantly, effective products, in 2012 consumers must suffer with pansy products. Sure, they are designed to save energy and make you feel good. But they just don’t work as well as the old, and usually cheaper, versions.
Below are seven crappy products we must endure, courtesy of the Green Movement.

1. Low Water Toilets

Any article with the headline above must start with low water toilets. Many of you will remember an age before the government decided water was scarce, when toilets could be counted on. In 1992, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act, and President George Bush signed it. It mandated a maximum flush capacity for toilets. Naturally, the 1992 version of the Green Movement was behind the law, and behind the Republican sponsor – Representative Philip Sharp of Indiana. Since Bush signed Sharp’s legislation, plunger sales have sky-rocketed. Sharp’s bad idea has caused some of the most embarrassing moments of people’s lives, especially when they are visiting someone else’s home.
Beware, the freaks next want to eliminate water in your toilet, as well as toilet paper.

2. Mercury-Filled Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

We have learned a number of things in the last few years. First, the new environmentally friendly light bulbs aren’t. When one breaks, mercury spills into your home environment. And even if they don’t shatter, they still spew out cancer-causing chemicals when you turn them on. They are expensive. The Green Movement tells us they last longer. Poppycock. I started writing down the installation date on the bulbs to see how long they really last. And the longevity is comparable to the old-style bulbs, the ones that cost a third as much.

3. The Boeing 787

I love air travel. I flew over 110,000 real miles last year. I couldn’t wait to get on a new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Not anymore. A series of mishaps has exposed a frightening problem with the plane – electrical components are catching fire. This is no ordinary glitch that Boeing can easily sort out. Boeing has introduced an entirely new design paradigm which causes the problems on the 787, a paradigm that makes the Green Movement happy. Instead of using mechanical energy to power aircraft systems, the 787 uses stored electricity. Electricity is stored in high-capacity lithium-ion batteries, freeing the engines from burning fossil fuel. Boeing jettisoned efficient copper wires, replacing them with lighter aluminum wiring. At the FAA’s urging, it reduced the punch of the batteries because they were known to explode and burn – bringing down at least one 747 that carried them in cargo. The new Boeing design paradigm is a light, electrical, fuel-efficient jet that uses less energy. Sound familiar? Boeing boldly trumpets this new paradigm.
The Boeing engineers are some of the smartest people in the world. So odds are they will sort out the problem, hopefully quickly enough. Until then, I’ll ride on fuel-inefficient MD-80s or 737s. (Update: “U.S., others ground Boeing indefinitely“)

4. Front-Loading Clothes Washers

Here is the dirty secret about energy-efficient front-loading clothes washers: they suck. Before I owned one, a friend warned me, “they really don’t get clothes clean.” I didn’t believe her, but she was right. Front-loaders utilize a technology still used to clean clothes on the banks of the Ganges in Bangladesh – small amounts of water and soap are used to beat damp clothes on rocks. Instead of rocks, American front-loaders use a rough drum. The clothes gently swirl, then rest and thump in a puddle of soapy water. Sure they use less energy, but who cares when clothes stay dirty? And the mandatory “HE” detergent you must buy also costs more. The Green Movement hated the top-loaders that cleaned clothes efficiently. In those good old days, clothes sat submerged in several gallons of water filled with detergent. Lots of electricity agitated the clothes to pure, clean beauty. So don’t be fooled by the neighbor or salesman who tells you front-loaders are the way to go. Get yourself a big, wasteful, but effective top-loader before the government bans them.

5. The Chevy Volt

What can be said about the Chevy Volt that hasn’t already been said? Just remember back to that first perplexing moment when you learned that this electric car actually had a gasoline engine. Huh?

6. Highly Collapsible Water Bottle

The bottled-water industry is feeling the heat from the Green Movement. A nutty documentary called Tapped argues that bottled water is unsafe and environmentally insensitive. Congress even held hearings on bottled water at the behest of the Green Movement. The bottled-water companies think they can buy peace by going green. Think again.
Companies like Deer Park have come out with a flimsy, pansy Eco bottle that crushes in your hand like the Hulk would smash a VW Beetle. The “Green Eco-Shape” bottle by Deer Park boasts it is the “lightest half-liter bottle” on the market. It’s also the most annoying because it spills all over when you open it. It also collapses when you drink from it. Like so many in industry, Deer Park believes that the Green Movement will leave them alone if they make small capitulations. It won’t happen. The Green Movement will continue to demand and devour until bottled-water companies vanish from the landscape. That’s what the Green Movement is all about – eliminating consumer products which do not comport with their theology of scarcity and simplicity.

7. Quiet High-Efficiency Dishwashers

The reason new high-efficiency dishwashers are so quiet is that they don’t clean dishes. Like the ineffective front-loading clothes washer, saving energy and water is more important to the Green Movement than clean dishes. Try opening one of these quiet dishwashers mid-cycle and take a peek at what is going on. Compare it to your old dishwashers. New high-efficiency washers use less water, gently and quietly squirted, over the course of sometimes six quiet hours. Open up your old dishwasher and it was aqua-violence. Blasts of hot, steaming water, noise, and energy-devouring mayhem got dishes clean. The new energy-efficient dishwashers, like the new water-efficient toilets, sometimes require a second cycle.
The Green Movement deserves most of the blame for bringing us these products that make life worse. But so do the Republicans and captains of industry who think capitulation to the environmental Left buys them peace. Fred Uptonhasn’t earned their friendship because he brought us compact fluorescent bulbs. The anti-bottled water movement still has Deer Park in their crosshairs, despite their awful eco-bottle. The Green Movement knows no compromise, until such time as toilets are not only smaller, but also lack water, or even go away. Theirs is a substitute theology, intolerant and primitive.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Guns don't kill people, the mentally ill do

By Ann Coulter
January 16, 2013

Seung-Hui Cho, who committed the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, had been diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder as a child and placed under treatment.
But Virginia Tech was prohibited from being told about Cho's mental health problems because of federal privacy laws.
At college, Cho engaged in behavior even more bizarre than the average college student. He stalked three women and, at one point, went totally silent, refusing to speak even to his roommates. He was involuntarily committed to a mental institution for one night and then unaccountably unleashed on the public, whereupon he proceeded to engage in the deadliest mass shooting by an individual in U.S. history.
The 2011 Tucson, Ariz., shopping mall shooter, Jared Loughner, was so obviously disturbed that if he'd stayed in Pima Community College long enough to make the yearbook, he would have been named "Most Likely to Commit Mass Murder."
After Loughner got a tattoo, the artist, Carl Grace, remarked: "That's a weird dude. That's a Columbine candidate."
One of Loughner's teachers, Ben McGahee, filed numerous complaints against him, hoping to have him removed from class. "When I turned my back to write on the board," McGahee said, "I would always turn back quickly -- to see if he had a gun."
On her first day at school, student Lynda Sorensen emailed her friends about Loughner: "We do have one student in the class who was disruptive today, I'm not certain yet if he was on drugs (as one person surmised) or disturbed. He scares me a bit. The teacher tried to throw him out and he refused to go, so I talked to the teacher afterward. Hopefully he will be out of class very soon, and not come back with an automatic weapon."
The last of several emails Sorensen sent about Loughner said: "We have a mentally unstable person in the class that scares the living cr** out of me. He is one of those whose picture you see on the news, after he has come into class with an automatic weapon. Everyone interviewed would say, Yeah, he was in my math class and he was really weird."
That was the summer before Loughner killed six people at the Tucson shopping mall, including a federal judge and a 9 year-old girl, and critically wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, among others.
Loughner also had run-ins with the law, including one charge for possessing drug paraphernalia -- a lethal combination with mental illness. He was eventually asked to leave college on mental health grounds, released on the public without warning.
Perhaps if Carl Grace, Ben McGahee or Lynda Sorensen worked in the mental health field, six people wouldn't have had to die that January morning in Tucson. But committing Loughner to a mental institution in Arizona would have required a court order stating that he was a danger to himself and others.
Innumerable studies have found a correlation between severe mental illness and violent behavior. Thirty-one to 61 percent of all homicides committed by disturbed individuals occur during their first psychotic episode -- which is why mass murderers often have no criminal record. There's no time to wait with the mentally ill.
James Holmes, the accused Aurora, Colo., shooter, was under psychiatric care at the University of Colorado long before he shot up a movie theater. According to news reports and court filings, Holmes told his psychiatrist, Dr. Lynne Fenton, that he fantasized about killing "a lot of people," but she refused law enforcement's offer to place Holmes under confinement for 72 hours.
However, Fenton did drop Holmes as a patient after he made threats against another school psychiatrist. And after Holmes made threats against a professor, he was asked to leave campus. But he wasn't committed. People who knew he was deeply troubled just pushed him onto society to cause havoc elsewhere.
Little is known so far about Adam Lanza, the alleged Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooter, but anyone who could shoot a terrified child and say to himself, "That was fun -- I think I'll do it 20 more times!" is not all there.
It has been reported that Lanza's mother, his first victim, was trying to have him involuntarily committed to a mental institution, triggering his rage. If true -- and the media seem remarkably uninterested in finding out if it is true -- Mrs. Lanza would have had to undergo a long and grueling process, unlikely to succeed.
As The New York Times' Joe Nocera recently wrote: "Connecticut's laws are so restrictive in terms of the proof required to get someone committed that Adam Lanza's mother would probably not have been able to get him help even if she had tried."
Taking guns away from single women who live alone and other law-abiding citizens without mental illnesses will do nothing about the Chos, Loughners, Holmeses or Lanzas. Such people have to be separated from civil society, for the public's sake as well as their own. But this is nearly impossible because the ACLU has decided that being psychotic is a civil right.
Consequently, whenever a psychopath with a million gigantic warning signs commits a shocking murder, the knee-jerk reaction is to place yet more controls on guns. By now, guns are the most heavily regulated product in America.
It hasn't worked.
Even if it could work -- and it can't -- there are still subway tracks, machetes, fists and bombs. The most deadly massacre at a school in U.S. history was at an elementary school in Michigan in 1927. It was committed with a bomb. By a mentally disturbed man.
How about trying something new for once?

Stephen Hunter discusses 'The Third Bullet'


We are huge fans of Stephen Hunter. Steve is of course the novelist and Pulitzer Prize-winning former film critic of the Washington Post. Of Steve, Glenn Reynolds concisely holds: “Love him, and his books.”

Today is the official publication date of Steve’s new Bob Lee Swagger thriller, The Third Bullet. Based on an advance copy, Richard Fernandez has already posted an astute appreciation of the novel. Steve has graciously accepted our invitation to bring his new book to the attention of our readers from the perspective of the author himself. He writes:
The Third Bullet came from a brilliant idea. In fact it was so brilliant, I doubted I had it, because I’m not that smart. But nobody else was in the room at the time.
Anyhow, it wasn’t the idea to turn Bob Lee Swagger loose on the JFK assassination, although that was a pretty good one.
It wasn’t the breakthrough that enabled me to figure out a brand new Who, How and Why to the assassination–explanations that actually made some sense–although if you don’t mind me saying so, that was outstanding work.
It wasn’t that my theory of the secret ballistics of the event turned out to be identical to one created separately by one of America’s leading ballisticians, who is an expert on 6.5 mm projectiles. Pretty damn great, but no, that wasn’t it.
It was something that overarched and enabled these things. It was this idea: let’s return the assassination to the real world. After all, tragically enough, that’s where it took place, and we feel its melancholy weight to this day.
Up till now, the two churches of assassination true belief seem to belong not in the real world at all. They belong in crazyland.
The mega-theories, offered by everyone from Mark Lane to Oliver Stone to something currently calling itself the “assassination community” are mostly wacko. They’re eye-rollers, that turn on Oswald doubles, three separate shooters (triangulation, don’t you know), the Military-Industrial Complex, the Boy Scouts of America and Sears, Roebuck, all working in perfect syncopation. Some of them are so vast it seems that more people are inside the conspiracy than outside it. And, naturally, they skew lefty, finding convenient bogeymen to blame like Big Oil, Big Defense, Big Intelligence and Big Money. (In fact the left’s quick domination of the JFK assassination narrative is one of the great agitprop triumphs of the century.)
But inevitably they fail the laugh test. They take place in a world where it is possible that within the government a conspiracy with so many moving parts and so much personnel can operate in absolute perfection. I was in the army for two years, and believe me I know that nothing the government has ever done can be called “perfect.” First law of reality: everything is always messed up. Someone forgets something, someone orders the wrong documents, someone is POed at someone from a slight at a party two decades ago and misleads him so he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ask the paratroopers who landed in flooded fields on D-Day, except you can’t because they drowned.
But not only would such an enterprise be perfect, according to the mega theories, it would remain shielded in silence for half a century. The greatest secret of all time, the Enigma Machine in World War II, remained secret for about 20 years. Someone blabbed. Second law of reality: someone always blabs. Someone is not given enough secret credit, someone’s career didn’t turn out the way he expected, someone enjoys the secret power of treason, someone has the self-control of an alcoholic, someone is prone to flattery: it all adds up to one thing. In the end, someone talks. It’s always the same. It’s human nature.
Yet on the other side the narrative championed by the Warren Commission and its adherants, like Gerald Posner and Vincent Bugliosi, is equally dispiriting and unconvincing. Of course it lacks weight and gravitas, and it is painful to consider that one of the most beloved men in American history was felled by a loser creep who wanted to impress the editor of The Daily Worker. The vast distance between the squalor and cupidity of the one and the grace and majesty (and potential) of the other seems so out of proportion that the mind struggles to accommodate it.
Still, most people seem to have made peace with the report and gotten on with their lives. I was one such until I looked at it carefully. I learned quickly that the Commission did a pretty lousy job. I learned quickly that it was particularly slack on the issue of the rifle.
The whole lone-gunman scenario turns on a single improbability: that a classic screw-up like Lee Harvey Oswald, who was a disaster at everything he ever tried and was not even employable at stoop-labor wages, was able to hit a 4 by 4 target moving at 11 miles an hour ahead and deviating to the left 265 feet away through a telescopic scope which, according to the FBI itself in the Warren Commission Report, could not be zeroed. In other words as a practical matter, that rifle could not be made to shoot where it was aimed.
That’s the technical context; consider the emotional: the man has been visible to police or counter-sniper gunfire for somewhere between 8 and 11 seconds so he’s getting very nervous; then, he’s had to reacquire his sight picture through the limited vision of that dinky 3/4 of an inch scope after recoil and a laborious recock of a stiff bolt action and now he has to shoot when the target is farthest, and is moving fastest. Likely?
Consider the third bullet itself. Engineered in the nineteenth century primarily to kill heavily clad enemy soldiers in mountain combat by virtue of heavy sectional density, length and an extra-thick jacket, it somehow magically explodes so totally that no trace of it has ever been found. Likely?
Then Oswald, the most hunted man in history, doesn’t flee; he goes home to retoeive a revolver he could have had with him in the first place! Likely?
So my idea was as follows: Let’s take the hard data of the Warren Commission and make certain that Oswald is always where they said he was. In other words, let’s not deny the Warren Report but accept it, and try and find out if there could have been a conspiracy in its shadows, its arroyos, its alleyways. And if there could, let’s put him in it but make it a small, extremely professional conspiracy, run by people who are the best in the world at this sort of thing. But even then, let’s not envision an ideal, a perfection, a masterpiece. And let’s pass on the lefty smarm.

The Myth of an Impure GOP
It’s hard for a lot of people, particularly on the right, to recognize that the conservative movement’s problems are mostly problems of success. But the Republican party’s problems are much more recognizable as the problems of failure, including the failure to recognize the limits of that movement’s success.
American conservatism began as a kind of intellectual hobbyists’ group with little hope of changing the broader society. Albert Jay Nock, the cape-wearing libertarian intellectual — he called himself a “philosophical anarchist” — who inspired a very young William F. Buckley Jr., argued that political change was impossible because the masses were rubes, goons, fools, or sheep, victims of the eternal tendency of the powerful to exploit the powerless.
Buckley, who rightly admired Nock for many things, rightly disagreed on this point. Buckley trusted the people more than the intellectuals. Moreover, as Buckley’s friend Richard Weaver said, “ideas have consequences,” and, consequently, it is possible to rally the public to your cause.
It took time. In an age when conservative books make millions, it’s hard to imagine how difficult it once was to get a right-of-center book published. Henry L. Regnery, the founder of the publishing house that bears his name, started his venture to break the wall of groupthink censorship surrounding the publishing industry. With a few exceptions, Regnery was the only game in town for decades.
That’s hardly the case anymore. While there’s a higher bar for conservative authors at mainstream publishers (which remain overwhelmingly liberal), profit tends to trump ideology.
And publishing is a lagging indicator. In cable news, think tanks, talk radio, and, of course, the Internet, conservatives have at least rough parity with, and often superiority to, liberals. It’s only in the legacy institutions — newspapers, the broadcast networks, and most especially academia and Hollywood — that conservatism is still largely frozen out. Nonetheless, conservatism is a mass-market enterprise these days, for good and for ill.
The good is obvious. The ill is less understood. For starters, the movement has an unhealthy share of hucksters eager to make money from stirring rage, paranoia, and an ill-defined sense of betrayal with little concern for the real political success that can come only with persuading the unconverted.
A conservative journalist or activist can now make a decent living while never once bothering to persuade a liberal. Telling people only what they want to hear has become a vocation. Worse, it’s possible to be a rank-and-file conservative without once being exposed to a good liberal argument. Many liberals lived in such an ideological cocoon for decades, which is one reason conservatives won so many arguments early on. Having the right emulate that echo chamber helps no one.
Ironically, the institution in which conservatives had their greatest success is the one most besieged by conservatives today: the Republican party. To listen to many grassroots conservatives, the GOP establishment is a cabal of weak-kneed sellouts who regularly light votive candles to a poster of liberal Republican icon Nelson Rockefeller.
This is not only not true, it’s a destructive myth. The Rockefeller Republicans were purged from the GOP decades ago. Their high-water mark was in 1960, when the Goldwater insurgency was temporarily crushed. Richard Nixon agreed to run on a platform all but dictated by Rockefeller and to tap Rockefeller’s minion Henry Cabot Lodge as his running mate. When the forebears of today’s tea partiers threatened to stay home or bolt the party in 1960, Senator Barry Goldwater proclaimed, “Let’s grow up, conservatives!”
It’s still good advice. It’s not that the GOP isn’t conservative enough, it’s that it isn’t tactically smart or persuasive enough to move the rest of the nation in a more conservative direction. Moreover, thanks in part to the myth that all that stands between conservatives and total victory is a philosophically pure GOP, party leaders suffer from a debilitating lack of trust — some of it well earned — from the rank and file.
But politics is about persuasion, and a party consumed by the need to prove its purity to its base is going to have a very hard time proving anything else to the rest of the country.
— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. You can write to him by e-mail at, or via Twitter @JonahNRO© 2013 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What we talk about when we talk about guns

A few thoughts on preventing the Hobbesian war of all against all

By Andrew Klavan
January 15, 2012

The Oresteia of Aeschylus is the Greek’s great epic about the founding of the state. The trilogy of plays tells how a blood feud in the house of Agamemnon comes to an end when the gods decree that justice shall now be delivered not through individual vengeance but by governmental process. As Charles Hill writes in Grand Strategies“This makes the death penalty the foundation stone of civilization, for only when a victim’s kin are convinced that the state will exact justice in response to murder will they entrust that power to the state.”
When a state decides to abolish the death penalty, they are reneging on that original agreement. The progressive argument is, essentially, that the contract was made in former times when people were not so civilized as they are now. Years of life under the rule of law have made us better than we were, and we have moved beyond the savage need to punish murder with murder. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, as Ben Kingsley said when he was pretending to be Gandhi.
The conservative argument — the argument, in this case, for preserving capital punishment — is, no, mankind is ever and always what it was. New technologies may have given us greater powers of imprisonment and reform that make execution necessary in fewer cases, but there is still murder in the world and the wronged heart still demands full recompense. The state must hold to at least the minimum of its Oresteian agreement or lose the right to govern.
But Aeschylus notwithstanding, the delivery of justice after an attack is not the only foundational contract a state makes with its people. In allowing the government to maintain a standing army and police force, we are also agreeing to transfer to the state the duty and immense power of defending us from being attacked in the first place. This is not only a matter of practicality, it’s the only method anyone’s come up with to prevent the Hobbesian war of all against all.
As the founders knew, however, the power we grant the state to defend us can easily be turned against us. “The means of defence against foreign danger,” Madison wrote, “have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.” Going back even farther, this was why the supporters of republican government stuck the long knives into Julius Caesar. In “crossing the Rubicon,” he violated the law by bringing the Roman army into Italy. This effectively turned the means of protecting the republic into the tool for establishing imperial rule.
In the Second Amendment, the founding fathers sought to protect us against any Rubicon-crossing by granting Americans the right to bear their own arms and form home militias. We own guns, in other words, to defend ourselves from the possibility of government tyranny. It is part of our foundational contract with the American state. This is why, whenever some anti-gun idiot on television cries out, “Why would a hunter need an automatic rifle?” the correct answer is… well, unprintable. The hunter has a 30-06 in his gun cabinet for hunting. The M-16 he hides in the cellar is for the next American Revolution.
As with the death penalty, the argument of the progressives is that times and people have changed. Our democratic institutions and traditions are now engraved upon our hearts, they say, and no longer require the elaborate constitutional safeguards the founders provided for us. Civilized by the years, our leaders no longer pose the threat of tyranny, and guns only serve to give the anarchic power of death to individual lunatics and rednecks when it should be reserved to the state.
The conservative argument is, to put it succinctly: “Not so much.” Once again, we aggravating creatures of the right can’t help pointing out that human nature has changed neither a jot nor a tittle since we hightailed it out of Eden. Those who in ancient days sought to rule us in the name of our own good are still among us, and the only thing that keeps them on their side of the Rubicon is, in the words of that great patriot Neo from The Matrix: “Guns. Lots of guns.”
History supports the right in this. Four hundred years of Roman republicanism was not enough to keep the Caesars at bay, and there’s no cause to believe it’ll be any different here. If freedom is what we’re after, the conservative argument to preserve the second amendment clearly holds good.
There is, however, some question about whether freedom is, in fact, what the progressives are after.
Which is only one more reason to hang onto your weapons!

Control politicians, not guns

By Cal Thomas
January 15, 2013

If laws were enough to deter criminal behavior prisons would be empty.

The latest effort to "control" guns in America is as likely to deter someone intent on breaking the law as outlawing lust would affect one's libido. What's in a heart can't be controlled by restricting what's in a hand.

Following the Newtown tragedy, President Obama vowed to seek the passage of an assault weapons ban and hastily assembled an administration-wide gun control task force, an effort that amounts to little more than a political act designed to impress what Rush Limbaugh calls "low-information voters." Government must be seen doing something to keep mad men from shooting children and moviegoers, even if that something will likely prove ineffective.

"Where there's a will, there's a way," the proverb goes, and someone who has the will to kill with a gun is going to find a way (and a gun) no matter how many laws are passed. Consider Chicago where numerous anti-gun laws appear to have done little to stop gun deaths.

President Obama put Vice President Joe Biden in charge of the task force. Biden calls his gun control effort a "moral issue." Does Biden suffer from selective morality? For him, same-sex marriage and abortion don't appear to be moral issues, as they are for his Catholic church, but gun control is.

The loss of liberty always begins at the extremes, but it won't stop there. Radicals won't be satisfied with outlawing one type of gun. In 1995, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told "60 Minutes," "If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States, for an outright ban, picking up (every gun) ... Mr. and Mrs. America, turn 'em all in. I would have done it..." In 2004, when he was an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama voted against a bill that affirms the right of citizens to defend themselves against home invasions. The bill ultimately passed.

The Sandy Hook shooter reportedly stopped killing children and killed himself when law enforcement officers arrived on the scene. This contains no lesson for the gun control crowd, which mostly opposes armed guards in schools. Neither does it matter to them that recently a Georgia woman, Melinda Herman, shot an intruder when police couldn't get to her home quickly enough, thus defending her life and the lives of her two children. To gun control advocates, guns decide whether they are used for good or evil, not the people who fire them.

If President Obama attempts to impose new restrictions on guns by executive order, not Congress, what can individuals do? I asked constitutional attorney John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute, "a nonprofit conservative legal organization dedicated to the defense of civil, especially religious, liberties and human rights." "Even if the president has the authority to issue the executive order," Whitehead replied by email, "the order may not violate the Constitution's guarantees to individual liberty. If the order resulted in restrictions on gun ownership or possession that go beyond what is allowed under the Second Amendment, individuals who are harmed by the order could sue to have the order declared unconstitutional."

We need to hear more stories of how law-abiding gun owners have managed to thwart criminals. As the predictable assault of anti-gun TV ads begins, the National Rifle Association should create its own ads with gun owners telling their stories of self-defense and crime prevention.

You know rational thinking is lacking when Pravda, Russia's communist political newspaper, makes sense. In a recent article, Stanislav Mishin writes that after the Bolsheviks seized Moscow in 1917, they promised to leave alone the well-armed citizens if they did not interfere. "They did not and for that were asked afterwards," writes Mishin, "to come register themselves and their weapons, whereupon they were promptly shot."

The Second Amendment was written to protect citizens from tyrannical government and to preserve our liberties. It's not primarily for the protection of hunters and target shooters, though they are included. Those politicians who wish to ignore the Constitution are the ones who need to be controlled, not law-abiding gun owners.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Taylor's pain shows NFL's world of hurt

The Miami Herald
MIAMI - As America's most popular sport encounters a liability problem . . . gladiator Junior Seau kills himself with a shotgun blast to the chest and leaves his damaged brain to study . . . as awareness and penalties increase around an NFL commissioner confronting the oxymoronic task of making a violent game safe . . . and as the rules change but the culture really doesn't . . . we think we know this forever-growing monster we are cheering on Sundays. But we don't. We have no earthly idea.Dolphins legend Jason Taylor, for example, grew up right before our eyes, from a skinny Akron kid to a future Hall of Famer, his very public path out in front of those lights for 15 years. But take a look at what was happening in the dark. He was just a few blessed hours from having his leg amputated. He played games, plural, with a hidden and taped catheter running from his armpit to his heart. His calf was oozing blood for so many months, from September of one year to February of another, that he had to have the equivalent of a drain installed. This is a story of the private pain endured in pursuit of public glory, just one man's broken body on a battlefield littered with thousands of them. As death and depression and dementia addle football's mind, persuading some of the gladiators to kill themselves as a solution to end all the pain, and as the media finally shines a light on football's concussed skull at the very iceberg-top of the problem, we begin the anatomy of Taylor's story at the very bottom . . . with his feet.
He had torn tissues in the bottom of both of them. But he wanted to play. He always wanted to play. So he went to a private room inside the football stadium.
"Like a dungeon," he says now. "One light bulb swaying back and forth. There was a damp, musty smell. It was like the basement in Pulp Fiction ."
The doctors handed him a towel. For his mouth. To keep him from biting his tongue. And to muffle his screaming.
"It is the worst ever," he says. "By far. All the nerve endings in your feet."
That wasn't the ailment. No, that was the cure. A needle has to go in that foot, and there aren't a lot of soft, friendly places for a big needle in a foot. That foot pain is there for a reason, of course. It is your body screaming to your brain for help. A warning. The needle mutes the screaming and the warning.
"The first shot is ridiculous," Taylor says. "Ridiculously horrible. Excruciating."
But the first shot to the foot wasn't even the remedy. The first shot was just to numb the area . . . in preparation for the second shot, which was worse.
"You can't kill the foot because then it is just a dead nub," he says. "You've got to get the perfect mix (of anesthesia). I was crying and screaming. I'm sweating just speaking about it now."
How'd he play?
"I didn't play well," he says. "But I played better than my backup would have."
He didn't question these needles or this pain, didn't question the dungeon or the doctors. Consequences were for other people, weaker ones. There was only one time Taylor questioned the worth of what he did for a living, while crying and curled up on the pavement of a parking lot outside his doctor's office. It was the needle in the spine that made him wonder about the price of this game, but those questions were every bit as fleeting as the soothing provided by those epidurals. He didn't practice much in 2006 because of a herniated disk in his back, and he needed the medicine pregnant women use for labor just to get to Sundays. Taylor's wife was helping him down the stairs as he left the doctor's office after one such epidural, but that wasn't the bad part. His back locked up as he tried to get in the passenger seat of their car, making him crumble.
"I started shaking on the ground," he says. "My wife was trying to pick me up. I was in tears."
Help came to get him back upstairs . . . to get another needle in a different spot on the spine. He won Defensive Player of the Year that season, believe it or not. Still tells Nick Saban that he won that award because of how little he practiced that year, keeping his body fresh from the daily ravages of the job.
"There was a period of a year and a half or two years when I couldn't put my kids to bed," he says. "My wife and I laugh about it. You have to bend down. I couldn't with their weight. I would just hover. I would get as low as I could, and then drop them, and they'd bounce."
He isn't bragging, and he isn't complaining. He wants to make sure you know that. He feels lucky and blessed to have done what he did. He is just answering questions matter-of-factly about the insanity of the world where he worked. It is a barbaric game, trying to be more of a man than the next man, putting your pain threshold against your muscled opponent's, all of these competition-aholics colliding at an inhumane rate of speed.
So did he lie to the doctors?
Did he get in that player deli line outside the trainer's room before the game to get that secret elixir, a Toradol shot in the butt that would lubricate and soothe away the aches for three hours despite its side effects (chest pains, headaches, nausea, bloody stool, coughing up blood, vomit that looks like coffee grounds)?
Did he think this was smart or healthy?
Did he care that it wasn't smart or healthy?
Taylor was leg-whipped during a game once in Washington. Happens all the time. Common. He was sore and had a bruise, but the pre game Toradol and the post game pain medicine and prescribed sleeping pills masked the suffering, so he went to dinner and thought he was fine. Until he couldn't sleep. And the medication wore off. It was 2 a.m. He noticed that the only time his calf didn't hurt is when he was walking around his house or standing. So he found a spot that gave him relief on a staircase and fell asleep standing up, leaning against the wall. But as soon as his leg would relax from the sleep, the pain would wake him up again. He called the team trainer and asked if he could take another Vicodin. The trainer said absolutely not. This need to kill the pain is what former No. 1 pick Keith McCants says started a pain-killer addiction that turned to street drugs when the money ran out . . . and led him to try to hang himself to break the cycle of pain.
The trainer rushed to Taylor's house. Taylor thought he was overreacting. The trainer told him they were immediately going to the hospital. A test kit came out. Taylor's blood pressure was so high that the doctors thought the test kit was faulty. Another test. Same crazy numbers. Doctors demanded immediate surgery. Taylor said absolutely not, that he wanted to call his wife and his agent and the famed Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion. Andrews also recommended surgery, and fast. Taylor said, fine, he'd fly out in owner Daniel Snyder's private jet in the morning. Andrews said that was fine but that he'd have to cut off Taylor's leg upon arrival. Taylor thought he was joking. Andrews wasn't. Compartment syndrome. Muscle bleeds into the cavity, causing nerve damage. Two more hours, and Taylor would have had one fewer leg. Fans later sent him supportive notes about their own compartment syndrome, many of them in wheelchairs.
Taylor's reaction?
"I was mad because I had to sit out three weeks," he says. "I was hot."
He had seven to nine inches of nerve damage.
"The things we do," he explains. "Players play. It is who we are. We always think we can overcome."
Everything is lined up to get the unhealthy player back on the field - the desire of the player, the guy behind you willing to endure more for the paycheck, the urging of the coaches and teammates, the culture that mocks and eradicates the weak and the doctor whose job it is not necessarily to keep the player healthy but healthy enough to be valuable to the team, which isn't the same thing at all. The doctor gives the player the diagnosis and the consequences on the sidelines with in-game injuries, without the benefit of an MRI, and then the player makes a choice with the information about whether to take a pain-masking shot. And the choice is always to play.
"Damn right," Taylor says.
You never know if all those needles - and Taylor took a lot - produce more pain. Science has linked Toradol to plantar fasciitis (the aforementioned torn tendons in Taylor's feet), so Taylor might have been taking one pain killer . . . that helped create a different pain . . . and thus required a different pain killer. That was certainly the case after his compartment syndrome. He developed a staph infection that required that catheter to run from armpit to heart with antibiotics. He'd hook himself up to it for a half-hour a day, like a car getting gas, letting the balls of medicine roll into his body. Then he concealed the catheter in tape under his arm so that an opponent wouldn't know he was weak. Opponents will find your weakness, At the bottom of a fumble pile, a Buffalo Bills player once squeezed the hell out of Taylor's Adam's Apple to try and dislodge the football. Anything you read about the PICC line catheter (peripherally inserted central catheter) Taylor used will tell you to avoid swimming or weight lifting or anything that might get it dirty or sweaty. Taylor was playing with it in for weeks while colliding in the most violent of contact sports. Doctors told him it wasn't a good idea to play with it in. He ignored them.
The training room? Taylor hated guys who "took up residency" there, calling them "soft." His mentor, Dan Marino, has a quote up on one of the walls in there, something about how being in the training room doesn't make you part of the team. Taylor was proud to learn that one of his own quotes has been put up in there, too: Be a player, not a patient. So even the one solitary place designated for healing in football, the one safe haven, is literally surrounded on all sides by walls of voices telling the player to get the hell out of here.
"Would I do it all again? I would," Taylor says. "If I had to sleep on the steps standing up for 15 years, I would do it."

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