Saturday, June 07, 2014

People Have Changed More Than Guns

Guns have changed.  They gotten more powerful, easier to shoot and much easier to shoot in bursts.

But people have changed more than guns.  After all, guns have been widely circulated since the Revolution and yet mass murders were rare until recently.  Nor have all the mass murders in the recent scourge been committed with assault rifles or other advanced weaponry.

Mass murderers damn near grow on trees these days.  Not really, but you could be forgiven for thinking that way.  The NRA says that gun crime is down, which is probably true but misses the point of the legitimate hysteria over mass gun violence.  The point is that it is a new and unacceptable phenomena to not be surprised by mass murder in public spaces on a fairly regular basis.

Why is this happening?

First of all, it's happening because most of these mass murderers train for years on highly advanced mass murder simulators with names like Call of Duty and Doom and Halo 2.  Sitting alone or alone together with other Zen-like practitioners, they learn to calm their nerves, shoot for the head, drop empty magazines and reload without missing a beat.  Mass Murder Simulators, oops, First Person Shooter games, gained mass popularity in the early Nineties, some 20 years ago.  Twenty years is a generation, a generation that now ranges in age from Junior High to High School to College to Young Adult, the cohorts from which are drawn today's mass murderers.

But it's not just First Person Shooter Games that are injecting mass psychosis into the body politic.  It's also the Golden Age of TV that we're now experiencing.  Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Justified, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, True Detective: these and other dramatic series are rightly heralded as breakthroughs in Boob Tube entertainment.  Devotees, numbering in the tens of millions, regularly invite their friends to share their addictions to favorite series.

The pitch from a fan to a newby generally includes a conspiratorial lowering of the voice, followed by a grave warning.
"It's dark, really dark."
Now I stand in a glass house regarding dark entertainment, given my not infrequent macabre enjoyment of action and crime movies, especially action-crime movies.  However, even the most heinous movie comes and goes in a couple of hours.  The mass murder celebrations known as Cable Crime Dramas are ten, twenty, thirty and sometimes fifty hour injections of sociopathic ideas, imagery and intensity into the waiting synapses of their millions of adoring fans.

Some in that audience aren't going to process it all very well.

Is this to say that a given mass murderer can blame his crime against humanity on a TV show or a Mass Murder Simulator?  Certainly no for the former, mostly no for the latter.

It does mean that people have changed due to mass stimuli that's hiding in plain sight.  First, they consume a diet of sociopathic entertainment on TV that is vastly more vivid and increasingly more twisted than ever before in human evolutionary history.  They also hone from a young age their ability to calmly conduct mass murder.

Guns are simple compared to people, making the change in guns less profound than the change in people over the two decade maturation of the Mass Murder Generation with whom we're now living.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Speech We Need From President Obama

The West has been at war with Islamic Terror for two decades now, a full generation: not a war we chose, but the one that's fallen to us.  Every generation of Americans has its burden.  This is ours.

Islamic Terror has a long history, but first struck America in '93 when acolytes of the Blind Sheikh bombed the World Trade Center.  Attacking low, they killed many but didn't topple even one Tower.

9/11 was the signal day for Al-Qaeda in particular and Islamism in general.  Most Muslims don't support terror as a tactic.  Islamists do.  They embrace recruiting young people - little kids even - to blow themselves up so long as they take out lots of infidel. That is evil.

Islamism is evil because their strategy emphasizes the killing and maiming of innocent civilians.  Terrorists aim for collateral damage.  Their motto is Collateral Damage R Us.

Islamism perverts one of the world's greatest religions, a cancer at its core that will take great leadership to defeat.  Leadership from where?

Leadership from within the Muslim Community hasn't been richly forthcoming, to put it charitably.

Leadership from the Infidel World, er, the rest of us, has been unsteady, uncertain and intermittent: not our finest hour as it were.

Two hundred Nigerian schoolgirls changed all that however.  This hostage situation galvanized the entire world just as it galvanized me.

So I sat down with President Goodluck Jonathan, because I'm that kind of guy.  Plus my Father's from Africa, as you know.  Mostly, I recognize that a setback for Islamism on the world stage would be a major victory in our war against Islamic Terror - Hard Power delivering Soft Power benefits.  Thus I had American interests squarely in mind.

"Goodluck," I said, "We've got an opportunity here to do the world good, do Africa good, do Nigeria good and do those innocent girls good.  We're gonna team up my best troops with your best troops, like teaming up NFL All Pros with NBA All Stars, with Google behind 'em."

What could he say?  I'm offering SEALs, Deltas, U.S. Marines, whatever the mission requires.  Speaking of mission, America's troops are eager for a clearly defined mission with such a rightly heroic goal.

Boko Haram has done the modern world the favor of exposing some of Islamism's most hateful elements.  Haram means forbidden.  Boko means Learning, for girls and about Western ideas especially.

Boko Haram targeted schoolgirls because Islamists think they shouldn't go to school.  That makes this a girl's and more generally a Woman's Rights story, even though it's primarily an Islamism story.

Boko Haram must be defeated and I, Barack Obama, am the President to do it.  It's time for the good guys to fight back.  America has been the good guy before, more times than any other nation ever.  We can again.

I will stand in the well of the Congress and ask my fellow Americans to follow me into this fight.  It's not one we chose.  It's one that fell to us.  The Greatest Generations rise above such enemies of freedom.

Our generation can rise to greatness. If not us, who? If not now, when?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Flagrant Foul

NBA fouls come in two classes of severity: Fouls and Flagrant Fouls.  L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling's apparent racial rant reaches beyond the upper realm of Flagrant Foul.  A Flagrant Two foul mandates immediate expulsion from the game.  If the recording of Sterling's voice is substantially accurate, it counts as a Flagrant 3 or a Flagrant 4 or even a Flagrant 5, worthy of expulsion from The Game Itself.  In short, a transgression so severe as to be worthy of fouling out of the league.

In any case, the Sterling Situation is a deeply saddening and entirely slack-jawed incident in modern American history.  Yes, American history, not just NBA history or sports history.  Sure it doesn't rise anywhere near the level of fire hoses turned on Civil Rights protesters.  Yet it is so out of time and out of place - coming as it does on the heels of another elderly yahoo's stupid and savage comments about race last week in Nevada - that it is a signal moment in the apparently never-ending fight against racism.

Not surprisingly, the past and present stars of the NBA have been the most eloquent and on-point about the situation.  Magic Johnson, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Mayor Kevin Johnson have each gotten to the heart of the matter.
  • Magic Johnson: "In the most diverse city in the United States? How can somebody like that be running a sports team?"
  • LeBron James: "No Room For That In Our Game"
  • Chris Paul: “On behalf of the National Basketball Players Association, this is a very serious issue which we will address aggressively."
  • Mayor Kevin Johnson called it a "signal moment in the history of the NBA", emphasizing that the players' voices be heard in the outcome.
Unfortunately, new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was more lawyer than leader yesterday when he weakly decried Sterling's apparent idiocy.  Sure he was correct in deferring talk of sanctions until an investigation is completed.  But he should have highlighted the harm that this flagrant foul causes not just to his league but to the country.  Let's hope he rises to the challenge once he gets a couple of days between games to sharpen his attack.

As for Sterling, there is so much wrong with this rich idiot that Blogger might run out of screen ink before it's all memorialized.  He was dating a girl young enough to be his great-granddaughter, whose ethnicity he disdained.  Then this one-time divorce lawyer put himself in a situation where his ex-wife is suing his sugar doll because he plied her with community property.  Only in L.A.

Mostly he is stunningly stupid, callous and shamefully wrong in his racial views.

Depressing though all this is, there is a bright silver lining to it.  Racism is a universally reviled social offense in America today.  Notwithstanding the many false accusations of racism that often threaten to weaken our revulsion of the real thing, the American people are overwhelmingly agreed that racism is fundamentally wrong.  It wasn't long ago that that wasn't the case.

Now let's see Adam Silver step up for his big shot in the next day or two.  As Magic Johnson might say to a player about ready to enter the game during the NBA Finals: It's winning time.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

In vs. Out

President Obama sees only his Sent folder, not his Inbox.  At least that's the way it seems.

He may pay attention to more than what he himself says, but does it seem that way?

Otherwise he'd change course.  Of course he can't change course.

The Unions, Wall Street and other unholy actors can't conceive of it - neither can the President.

It's wrong to assail Barack Obama for being a tool of the populist Left.  He's a tool all right, but of his own doing, his own belief, his own certitudes.  He can't change.  Can't.

Strongly inclined towards Centralized Control, he sees vouchers as poison and food stamps as a positive indicator of what government can do.  He need look no further.  cCon is his worldview.

He keeps telling us this, again and again, energetically overloading his Sent folder.

Items in his Inbox suggest that Distributed Control is the way to go.  His vision just can't see that far.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

#ObamaOverUnder

I, I, I, I, I say now... the President will refer to himself at least five times in his Syria speech on Tuesday, making the #ObamaOverUnder a lofty 5.  Why so many?  Past is prologue.
 
Barack Obama revealed a serious leadership deficiency less than year into his exalted first term.  He can't sell.  Soaring oratory aside, million dollar grin notwithstanding, he went to Copenhagen to pitch Chicago as an Olympic City and lost.  Badly.  He and the First Lady weren't even home to Washington when word came that Chicago was cut in the first round.
 
I, I, I and I were the most pronounced pronouns he used in that pitch.  The crux of his argument was him.  However, successful salesmen don't use I.  They use You.  More than a semantic subtlety, the second person personal pronoun focuses on those who need persuading.  Their needs, their wants, their issues become central to the pitch.
 
With Joe Biden constantly licking his shoes, and Valerie Jarrett apparently encouraging his retrograde impulses, President Obama still spews I's to this day, almost three quarters of the way through his Presidency.
 
The President's inability to sell overlaps with his inability to strategize in the present Syrian situation, as evidenced by the parade of strategic stink bombs he's let slip: Red Lines and Presidents Don't Bluff and Shots Across the Bow among them.
 
Let's see, what might suggest a strategy?  Hmm, don't make loose threats for starters.  Don't announce when you're going to strike, and don't downplay it as you're announcing it.  Don't surprise and undercut your staff and allies.  Oh yeah, don't try to get out of owning the ultimatum.  "The World's Red Line" says the buck stops somewhere else.  "Congress is like the dog that caught the car" is petty at best, self-defeating at worst.
 
One thing certain at this point is that 100,000 Syrians are dead, thousands of them children.  Little children are dead.  Dead little children!  Thousands of them!  Hundreds from poison gas, an especially horrible way to go.   Of course, the gas more than certainly enough was unleashed by Assad's government forces - the bastard, the unholy bastard.
 
Another thing certain at this point is that America has taken on water.  Reputations take a long time to build, are especially powerful in the early stages of conflicts, and can be squandered awfully quickly.  America's reputation as the last best hope of mankind ain't what it was pre-Syria, that's for damn sure.
 
President Obama has a 6% chance of turning this around, given the following.
  • He has to get both houses of Congress to back his play, whatever it turns out to be.
  • The Navy, Air Force and others arms of American power must execute very well, without a single casualty.
  • The course of the Syrian Civil War must turn towards the Free Syrians.
  • Finally, the Free Syrians must outmaneuver the Islamists.

Assume a 50% chance of success for each of those linked propositions.  50% x 50% x 50% x 50% = 6%.  Your estimates may vary.  

I hope he nails it.  The United States of America, the Syrian people and the entire Free World pretty much needs him to succeed.  Notwithstanding his manifold Presidential deficiencies, he's our President and we need to back him.  And then hold him accountable for the results, which ever way the ball bounces.

He can make a strong start by avoiding excessive I's on Tuesday night.  What are the odds?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Writ Against Newt & Its Riposte

The writ against Newt is that he overstates.  Sure there are other issues packed in his infamous baggage, but in a skyrocketing campaign powered by debate performances, the man's penchant for hyperbole is central to the diatribe that he's untrustworthy.  Even his Freddie Mac apostasy centers on his exuberant public statements as much as on the fees he accepted.

What's less acknowledged is the extent to which he's overachieved.  Seriously, who is the most successful Republican of the past half century?  Ronald Reagan.  Obviously.

Who's second?  Newt Gingrich.  Without him, Clinton has an economically failed Presidency.  An accomplishment like that is an indictment to a grasping backbencher like Michele Bachman, and made him the bete noire of smart Left Wing America.  (Or is that Left Wing Amerika?  Kidding.  Just kidding.)

2012 voters in their twenties barely remember 1990s politics anyway, so they'll learn fresh how Newt's leadership was essential to building the best economy in American history and even more importantly to increasing American happiness.  Happiness successfully pursued?  Yep, jobs, jobs and more jobs, millions of welfare recipients moving to payrolls, crime plunging.  Morning in America?  Hell, Newt's Contract with America led to a decade of gloriously sunny days in America.

Newt did this while leading the Clinton Presidency from behind.  Clinton?  That's Bill Clinton.  You know, Hillary's husband.  So along with Slick Willy, Newt was the last Washington leader to partner with the opposition to achieve undisputed great progress for America.  IOW, he's done more than talk a good and occasionally bad game.  He's delivered.  BIG TIME.

Overachiever.  Overstater.  I'm willing to accept the latter to gain the former.

Besides, when has it ever been a crime to be a big talker in America?  This is the country that gave the world tail-fins and a thousand songs in your pocket.  Some hyperbolic optimism, backed up by some 1990s-style overachievement, would do America a world of good right about now.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Be An Apostle For Liberty

An Open Letter to Mitch Daniels

Be an apostle for liberty.  Why is it good, necessary, desired, hard, true, fair, strong, valuable?  Explain these, singly then together.  Pitch liberty to America, pitch American liberty to the world at large, to the Muslims, to the Socialists, to the oligarchical subjects yearning to be free.  Pitch liberty and save the world.

Avoid libertarianism.  The extra four syllables confuse things.  Stick to liberty.  Everybody wants it.  Everybody should have it.  America should have more of it.

Foreign policy should be based on it.  Not blindly.  Savvy remains required.  Good.  Savvy is one quality that no one doubts you possess.  In spades.

What does liberty require of us?  As individual citizens, as parents, as economic actors, as a Party?  Liberty sure isn't free.  What are its costs?

What does 21st Century liberty look like?  How should it manifest itself online, on phones, in a connected world?

How should liberty be taught?  By who, to whom, when and where?

What is government's role in creating the conditions for liberty, in defending it, in promoting it?

Together with your impeccable domestic executive experience, liberty will fully define you by providing a lodestar for a foreign and military policy deeply rooted in the American Dream.

After all, what is the Leader of the Free World but an Apostle for Liberty.