Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Questions Never Asked

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
~ Albert Einstein

Another senseless shooting on a campus, another media glorification of the killer. I can't watch any of it. I don't want to look at or listen to the murderer. I would like to know about the victims. Why don't we publicize those names instead of the killer's name?

I have many other questions that never get asked during the media obsession with the most recent killer du jour and his weapons of choice.

Has anyone in the media ever done research into these murderers to discover commonalities in their backgrounds, their families, their childhoods? For example:

  1. How many mass shooters/killers came from broken or troubled homes?
  2. How many did not have strong parental figures in their lives?
  3. How many grew up active in a religious tradition?
  4. How many were taught the Ten Commandments or the Golden Rule as guidelines for living?
  5. How many were taught that they are not the center of the universe?
The popular formula is to skip all these bothersome inquiries and jump immediately to gun control as the solution. To me, this is like believing that having cancer is just fine because chemotherapy might cure it. Why don't we attack the root cause of the cancer instead of treating the symptom?

Speaking as someone who has never owned or even fired a gun, I must state this plainly--I do not believe that gun control will help us. My opinion is that the framework of our society is unraveling. The traditional family is disintegrating, under attack from political, cultural, and social forces on the outside and from crumbling personal value systems on the inside. You think this isn't relevant? Think again. In earlier eras, the family unit was strong. Children were expected to submit to a parent's authority, a school's authority, a church's behavioral requirements and moral code. This was not negotiable; children "respected their elders," as it was said, and for the most part followed the rules as taught to them. 

In those bygone times, as our country was being built, guns were ubiquitous in homes. Youngsters were instructed how to use them properly and with care by their respected older family members. The weapons were there for good and practical reasons--to hunt for food to feed the family, to protect the home against harm. In early America, guns and rifles hung on walls over fireplaces or were stored in kitchen cupboards. Children grew up among guns and rifles, understanding and honoring the power and purpose of a firearm. Violence was not glorified or made light of. And as far as I know my history, in those days children didn't get shot at school.

So it is only reasonable to ask the question, why now? Why is senseless, brutal gun violence becoming the norm in modern times? When I ask why, I go straight to the questions that never get asked. Because I think that's where the answer is.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Stop and Remember

Remember and Honor Our Fallen Heroes
Memorial Day ~ Monday, May 26, 2014

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Outrage, Again

Another scandal has erupted upon the hapless President Obama, this one in the Veterans Administration. As usual, the president insists he knew nothing about the delayed care of dying veterans until he heard about it on the news.

Take a look at this link to see how many times Mr. Obama has learned what's going on in his own administration through "the news." Our president seems to be a woefully under-informed chief executive. Such a pity, that.

And in line with the unfailing routine each time a new scandal erupts, the president is outraged. "Madder than hell," as he put it. Yes. Of course he is. (You believe him, don't you?)

The president hasn't gotten around to his "I will not rest" remarks yet, at least that I've heard so far. But that section of the script can't be more than a press conference away, coming upon the heels of his "outrage" at learning this shocking and terrible "news."

NRO's Jim Geraghty has compiled a timeline of our president's outrage, anger, apoplexy, and unrest. It would be comical if it wasn't so true. But the reality is that Obama's phony anger is, well, there's only one word for it. It's an outrage.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Price of Paradise

No matter where we live in the U.S., we pay a price for our home. And I don't mean real estate values.

Firefighters battle wildfires -San Diego North County - May 2014
I'm referring to hurricanes and blizzards, tornadoes and floods across the Northern states, the Midwest, in the South, and on the East coast. On the West coast, we live with the overarching threat of earthquakes. Earthquake preparation is part of our psyche. But a far more real and regular natural disaster plagues us--wildfires, or as they are often called, firestorms.

When I first moved to California, these events were called "brush fires," because there was little housing development on the open hills and valleys the flames ravaged. But today, homes, schools, hospitals, and whole communities stand in the path of almost every wildfire.

I've lived in Southern California for 35 years, and I love it here. For roughly 50 weeks every year, our weather is perfect. Blue, sunny  skies, mild temperatures, low humidity, cool breezes--a meteorological paradise. I call myself a "weather baby"--I don't think I could ever deal with miserable cold, stormy, or wet weather again. Yet every few years in recent decades, the brush fires of old have morphed into terribly destructive firestorms sweeping through our county. In the early fall of 2003 and 2007, the wildfires took a dreadful toll.

When the Santa Ana winds blow, it is usually September through November. May is most often a cool, overcast month--"May Gray," we jokingly call it. But this past winter was warm, with less than five inches of rain. The first heat spell struck in March; the second came early this month. There has been virtually no "May Gray." Vegetation is dry and crisp, ripe as kindling for the smallest spark. Then, when a rare springtime Santa Ana came roaring through early this week, the raging fires burst out seemingly everywhere.

Television coverage has been mostly non-stop. The region has learned the difficult lessons of 2003 and 2007, and fire and law enforcement agencies work seamlessly now as one huge, united team to evacuate threatened neighborhoods and protect lives and property. Most frustrating for me to watch are the foolish residents who refuse to evacuate their homes and stand armed with fire extinguishers and garden hoses to "protect" their houses. Really, idiots? You're going to stop a 1,500 acre wildfire, moving in 50 mph winds, with your backyard sprinkler hose? Police and firefighters often need to circle back to rescue people who refused to leave when first told to do so, taking precious time away from fighting the fires and safely evacuating other residents--not to mention risking their own lives because these selfish fools were stupid and uncaring of anything but their own wishes.

Our first responder teams have been courageous and heroic; stubborn homeowners, a senseless roadblock to their success. I think those residents who refuse evacuation orders should be subject to prosecution for endangering the lives of police officers and firefighters. And I think the penalty should be searingly harsh.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Free Exercise Has a Prayer

George Will writes a great piece on the Supreme Court decision in favor of a New York town's board of supervisors right to say a prayer at the beginning of their meetings. Perhaps there's a shred of hope left for the free exercise of religion, after all.

Will refers to Thomas Jefferson's personal letter that mentions "a wall of separation between church and state." Today that terminology is always presented as the need to protect the government from religion. But think about it--the Founders were steeped in the British tradition of an established state church, the Church of England. British subjects who were not members of that religion suffered many disadvantages in colonial days.

Could it be that Jefferson's "wall of separation" was meant not to protect government from religion, but rather to protect religion from government? I think so. Fortunately, so do five out of nine Supreme Court justices.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Dying to Chat

I've never liked driving. Now, I hate it. The video in this link explains why.

Ever since texting became the preferred method of instant gratification, I've never seen the roads more dangerous or clogged with wrecked cars. Idiots who are texting while driving are turning every street into a death run. One of my friends had her new car T-boned two nights ago by a texter blowing through a red light--for the second time in two months. Thank God, she's okay--both times.

Just this morning, I saw a texter blow through a red light--in an intersection I was about to enter.

In the past two days, I've passed six multi-vehicle crashes on the freeway. One of them involved a car upside down and on fire. I can't prove texting was involved in any of the crashes I saw, but I'm willing to bet it was. During the five years of my current commute, I've never seen so many drivers watching their phones instead of the road, and I've never seen so much daily automotive carnage.

When I see drivers texting--and I do, often, every day--I do whatever I can to get as far away from them as possible. I think texting should be treated like a DUI. If you get caught, you get fined, go to jail, then rehab class, and lose your license for a year. That would be a good start.

And don't forget to be grateful you're still alive, jackass.