Politics

Time Capsule 9/25/2012–Take a look a year later

I have often opined that newspapers should go back to being weekly, and that daily news coverage was a waste.  I know how ridiculous that sounds; but think of the time and energy we waste on headlines and stories that will turn out to be false or insignificant within hours, days, or weeks.  With that in mind, I’m going to do a little experiment:  from of number of the daily sources I waste my time on, I have gathered headlines to post here.  At a later date, I will come back to see which ones were worth paying attention to.  If nothing else, I hope this serves as a “snapshot” of where the news coverage is this morning.

So which stories are still newsworthy and being referenced a year later?

International Issues

  • Obama to urge UN to confront roots of Muslim rage
  • Obama to vow to keep nuclear weapons away from Iran in UN speech--still being referenced daily
  • “Israel will be eliminated…” –Ahmadinejad–his words live on beyond his presidency
  • Ahmadinejad:  capitalism causes homosexuality
  • Obama admits Libya assault “wasn’t just mob action”–the mainstream media buries this story, but it’s still vital
  • New SARS-like virus detected in the Middle East
  • America’s deadly double tap drone attacks are “killing 49 people for every known terrorist in Pakistan”

American Politics

  • 2012: Obama USDA offering women, Hispanic farmers over $1.3 billion in “discrimination” payouts
  • New voting laws may keep 10 million Hispanics away from the polls…and tip election to Romney
  • Unskewed polls show major surprise for Obama [Pro-Romney]
  • Obama sweep!  Now leads in all key states, even NC, Nevada, Colo.–We still hear about his mandate
  • Obama on the View:  I’m just “eye candy”
  • Obama to release 55 Gitmo inmates

Economy

  • Health premiums up $3,000; Obama vowed $2,5000 cut–actual numbers are still on the way
  • Young adults flock to parents’ homes as sour economy limits jobs
  • Dodgy WI-FI and a confused Siri:  flurry of faults bug first iPhone 5 users
  • Apple sold 5 million iPhone 5s, fewer than analysts predicted

NYS Politics

  • AG:  New plan will monitor NY government and school budgets
  • Fracking to be topic at Tea Party meeting
  • Cuomo:  No timetable on Health Department fracking review–a year later, and no change; but still in the news

Education

  • SAT reading scores lowest since 1972
  • Complaints mount against Michelle O’s new lunch menu–new stories document states dropping the program
  • Morning-after-pill to be available at 13 NYC high schools
  • New evaluations scare off teachers from taking interns
  • Kindergarteners to applaud “gay” history?–just this week the president praised homosexual ed to kindergarteners
  • Kids warned:  don’t bounce on trampolines

Miscellaneous

  • Replacement ref furor grows after wild Seattle win
  • Feds brace for historic stink bug outbreak
  • Vet school opens animal obesity clinic

I was seriously tempted to do two things as I compiled this list from 7 different sources this morning:  I wanted to expand or comment on many of them; and I really wanted to put the “stink bug outbreak” under the US Politics heading.  But I was good.

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America Chafes as the President Goes Commando

Here’s the wrong question:  Should the President get congressional approval before sending a military strike against Syria?

Here’s the right question:  Who died and left America boss?

There was a time when the free nations of the world needed help arming and defending themselves against evil regimes intent on their destruction; the United States stood strong with our friends and allies.  Because of God’s blessings and two broad oceans, we had the resources that our allies needed to preserve their existence.

There was a time when the free nations of the world determined to stop the spread of militaristic communist tyranny over defenseless neighboring states; the US answered the call to help the international community.  Once again, God’s goodness to us enabled us to take a leading role within a joint effort.

Than came a time when politicians began to see themselves as defenders not of allied nations or international victims but of “flavor-of-the-month” oppressed ethnic or ideological groups.  Certain American leaders, even while they apologized for being military and economic busybodies, stepped up to take sides against recognized nations struggling against rebellion, civil unrest, and civil war.  (Can anyone remember the last time America stood militarily with an established government and against the violent minority attempting to overthrow them?)

And so we end up with a situation where we have come to rely on such demagoguery as, “If we let Syria get away with using chemical weapons, we’ll have to let everybody use them.”  Our mainstream media somehow buys into the idea that any heterogeneous mob deserves our support as long as they claim to want freedom.  We can overlook the fact that radical-extremist-religious terrorist factions are at the heart of a violent revolution as long as they can get ignorant anarchists to march in the streets and make noises about “oppression” and “civil rights”.

The logical conclusion to our political confusion is a peace-prize-winning president threatening war against an internationally-recognized state if it doesn’t follow our rules; followed by embarrassing attempts at political buck-passing when it is clear that no nation in the world (including Israel) needs or wants our help in “resolving” an international non-incident.  The problem when an American administration gets too big for its britches is that it is only a matter of time before less-attractive aspects of the executive anatomy are put on public display.  Oops.  When a rash leader goes commando, he runs the risk of being exposed.  In this case, he is calling on the congress to cover his butt.

Do I approve of gassing civilians or even soldiers?  Of course not.  It’s appalling.  But I’m not in charge of bringing judgment and justice to someone else’s house.  God is alive and He’s the boss–the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Some things we just have to trust Him to deal with in His time and in His way.

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What Is a Christian Nation?

In a recent commentary reprinted in the Press&Sun-Bulletin, Charles C. Haynes referred to the “myth” that the US has been a Christian nation.  While I agree with him that the Constitution itself did not make our nation “Christian”, I must point out a couple of serious flaws in his argument.

Mr. Haynes contends that a necessary condition for a Christian nation would be that political power must be limited to people of one faith (and implied by his comments about the diversity among Protestants, people of one denomination).  While his narrow definition could apply to a theocracy–a Christian government, if you please–a nation consists of far more than government.  Our culture, heritage, legal system, music, literature, and even our societal structure could define us as a Christian nation, while the government is built on the Christian principal of religious freedom.

Our nation was not founded on the Constitution; it was founded on the Declaration of Independence, which clearly  stated that our rights come from our Creator.  Furthermore, the Supreme Court recognized in 1892 that”…we are a Christian nation…” and in 1931 that “We are a Christian people….”

The “propaganda” of a Christian nation is working because it is an accurate historical portrayal of our people.

Notice I wrote “historical portrayal”.  Personally, I’m convinced that little in our culture today could be used in a court of law as proof that we are still a Christian nation.  Let us determine to be Christian individuals in Christian families attending Christian churches–and see how much impact we can have on our culture between now and the rapture.

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Federalism 101

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  –US Constitution, Amendment 10.
Those who know me well or who have been in my Government class know that I value Amendment 10 as highly as #1 or #2.  Unfortunately, most folks today seem content to let the national government take more and more power from the states and the people.  This erosion of local and state liberties has had and will continue to have increasingly more devastating effects as the economy grows more desperate.
This morning’s paper reports that the state of NY is not going to help rebuild damage from recent summer flooding in nearby counties.  The governor’s reasoning is telling:
“If we have additional emergencies, we have to handle them on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “This is not historically a state responsibility. It is a federal responsibility, so our main expenditures … when the state has to pay this, is an unusual circumstance and we have to work very hard to find the funding.”
When we give Uncle Sam the power to rule in state matters, it is only a matter of time until we view him as responsible in state matters.  As a result, we whine and complain when he doesn’t come through and we realize that we have not made the preparations to enable us to care for our own.
Believe me–I understand that this issue is far more complex than I have presented here.  My point this morning is that when we let someone else take over our own responsibilities, ultimately we run the risk of developing a victim mentality when Big Brother doesn’t come through.
Be responsible.  Be a victor, not a victim.

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The Chaplain and the Atheist

Being a chaplain in the US armed services has gotten increasingly harder during this age of political correctness.  The religious leaders we hire to help our troops are not only warned to avoid going public with statements that are too religious, now at least one is under attack for printing a common cultural truism.

The entire article is here and is worth reading, but I will summarize it for your convenience.   A chaplain in Alaska published an article entitled “No Atheists in Foxholes: Chaplains Gave All in World War II” in the Chaplain’s Corner of the base’s website.  Spokesman for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (an atheist group) protested the “anti-secular diatribe” and had the article removed from the site, as well as getting an apology from the base commander.  The atheist group is calling for further punishment for the chaplain because of his “faith based hate”.

The leader of the atheist group is well-known for his own anti-religious beliefs.  As the article says,

MRFF is activist Mikey Weinstein’s organization. He called observant Christians “fundamentalist monsters” seeking to impose a “reign of theocratic terror,” and he described sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in the military as an act of “spiritual rape” that makes believers “enemies of the Constitution” who are committing an act of “sedition and treason” against this nation.

Does anybody besides me see a hint of hate speech there?

As another article records:

He cites Dr. James Dobson—the famous Christian founder of Focus on the Family—as “illustrating the extremist, militant nature of these virulently homophobic organizations’ rhetorically-charged propaganda.” Regarding those who teach orthodox Christian beliefs from the Bible, Weinstein concludes, “Let’s call these ignoble actions what they are: the senseless and cowardly squallings of human monsters.”

And oh, by the way,  Mikey Weinstein is a consultant to the Pentagon, helping them to develop new policies regarding…wait for it…religious tolerance

Mr. Weinstein is entitled to say what he wants.  And so am I:  God bless America.

 

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Other People’s Heroes

I’m sure that my family is getting sick of my complaining when the news is on.

For quite some time now, the 30-minute evening tv news has wasted precious time each night reporting on people who, in my opinion, are NOT more important than the real news stories they replace.

For example:  last night the news featured a story on the the difficulties a certain Mr. Snowden is having finding a new home.  Never mentioned were the new documents he continues to leak daily–the latest detailing the US government’s spying on France, Germany, and other allies in Europe.  Those nations, because of the revelations, have threatened to hold up or boycott trade talks–but that didn’t make the cut for the broadcast I watched.

Other recent stories have focused on three past Nobel Peace Prize winners.  Frankly, I can’t find much evidence that any of them did much to achieve peace, but that is overlooked in the rush to report on them as international celebrities.  In fact, I looked on line to find out what one of them had done to benefit mankind; the answer according to Ask.com was “He won the Nobel Peace prize.”  So he is a hero because someone called him a hero.

A few years back, a candidate for President was asked who his hero was, and he replied, “Jesus Christ.”  Do you remember the ridicule he received from the mainstream media for verbalizing his admiration for the Prince of Peace?  Maybe it was because Jesus never won a Nobel prize.

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The News Depresses Me

All my life I have been a “news junkie”.  People still ask me what I have heard about various stories.  I have become used to the network TV news reporting stories that I had seen several days earlier–or leaving out the most important part of the story.  I still cringe when I hear Rush L. or Sean H. rant about a story that would have been very different if only they had done a little more reading and research.

I am still waiting through TV news stories of Nelson Mandela’s slow recovery to see if the networks will cover the IRS, NSA, Benghazi, or State Department scandals.  They don’t.

I am sick of people who measure economic recovery by the rise in the stock market, or the number of people who leave the unemployment rolls (often because their assistance is exhausted, they have taken part-time, minimum wage jobs, or they have claimed early retirement or disability).

I am confused when my unemployment is cut 10.7% to save money while the First Family spends millions of dollars per day on trips to Africa, Europe, and Ireland, among other places.

I am angered when covert operations are called transparent and private communications have been improperly accessed by the NSA, who then passed them to the
Attorney General, who claims to have destroyed them without reading them. 

How is it possible that an IRS supervisor in DC admits to asking that Tea Party tax exempt requests be routed to her, and yet the media insist on quoting political hacks who claim that the targeting was done by a handful of disgruntled and delusional low-level employees?

I could go on, but I need to stop with one more item.  I may have to give up my news intake before my depression takes me down that dark and dangerous road again.  But here’s a story and quote from our President, reported yesterday (emphasis added):

In an interview that’s been heavily promoted by the White House and Obama aides, the president acknowledged that a program which collects massive amounts of data on telephone calls made in or through the U.S. could theoretically be used to invade individuals’ privacy, even potentially yielding conclusions about callers’ health conditions.

“All of that is true. Except for the fact that for the government, under the program right now, to do that, it would be illegal.”

As if that has ever stopped them before.  With popular confidence in the credibility of the federal government at such a low point, I can think of fewer things that the President could have said that would be more idiotic or less reassuring than that.

My struggle has come down to this:  how do I find the balance between being an informed citizen and a biblical Christian?  After all, Paul said in Philippians 4:8,

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Somehow, that description doesn’t fit the news.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/obama-im-not-dick-cheney-92925.html#ixzz2Wf1NRDbo

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Comic Book Heroes

I admit it.  When I was growing up, I was a comic book junkie.  Comic books were the video games of my generation.  They could keep us occupied for hours (especially the boys) and, for better or worse, they helped shape our characters and perceptions of our world.

I do have a point, so stick with me to the end; but first let me walk down memory lane and share some of my favorite comics and characters and some lessons I learned from them.

Harvey comics:  some of my earliest favorites were Hot Stuff, Spooky, and Baby Huey.  Nobody ever told me that I was opening myself to demonic possession by reading about these cute supernatural “Sad Sacks” or their grumpy attitudes.  I maintain that my love for puns was derived from Hot Stuff, who would regularly visit places like “Clockville” where each inhabitant was some play on words involving time or timepieces.

Dell comics:  Who could help but admire Tarzan or the Phantom?  If I’m not mistaken, the Disney comics were also published by Dell.  In any case, I loved Donald Duck, his Uncle Scrooge, and especially Gyro Gearloose, the inventor.  More grumpy attitudes, but also spirits of adventure, individuality, and learning from our mistakes.

Gilbert comics:  The Classics Illustrated series.  My introduction to the great stories of the world–a stepping stone to my becoming an English teacher.  Twice I tried to collect the entire series; today I have the complete set reproduced on DVD.  I still go back and read them.

Archie comics:  though I would read them all, I was bored by the romantic competitions and themes.  I much preferred the “Little Archies” (does anyone remember them?) which presented the characters at a younger age before hormones or dating ever became an issue.

Marvel comics:  I never got into the universe of Marvel superheroes.  Their realism and more human portrayal left me a bit confused and bored.  However, this publisher put out a series of cowboy comics, such as “Kid Colt”–today they would be politically incorrect, but back then, these western comics presented characters who joined Roy Rogers, Matt Dillon, and the Rifleman among the pantheon of my truly American heroes.

DC comics:  And here I get to my point.  While I read Superman, Batman, the Flash, and Elongated Man, they were merely harmless entertainment.  I never was tempted to put on a cape.  I enjoyed Robin’s naivete and Superman’s playful streak–and I really like “Bizarro Superman” who did everything backwards, and ultimately failed at each endeavor.  But my very favorites, especially as I entered my teen years, were the war stories.

It was during the Viet Nam War, and other Americans may have become jaded or ambivalent about what our “boys” were doing on the battlefield; but Sgt Rock and I knew the importance of fighting for freedom and justice, and against an evil enemy.  The Unknown Soldier reminded me of the impact that one man can make if he’s not looking for glory.  The Haunted Tank united north and south as they fought in a Stuart tank, and the various regiments and battalions were fully integrated racially and ethnically.  The USA was the good guy, and the Germans, Italians, and Japanese were the bad guys as they fought WWII again in each new issue.  When I read these military comics, I was proud to be an American.

As far as I can tell, virtually all the war comics stopped publication in the 1980’s.  I’m sure that today they would be too violent (killing bad guys, and the occasional sacrifice of a heroic figure) and too “hackneyed” and patriotic.  Just as Superman no longer fights to defend “…truth, justice, and the American way…”  Sgt Rock would be out of place except in a VFW or NRA meeting.  And in my opinion, it’s too bad.  Our young people could use some brave and strong American heroes today–even if they had their origin in comic books.

If we could get the guys to put down the video games long enough to read them.

Sgt_Rock_367

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Historical Examples

With the scandals in Washington,  each of us must come to one of three conclusions:

  1. that the accusations are all part of a vast, right-wing conspiracy;
  2. that the President is an evil man intent on being a tyrant; or
  3. that the administration is led by by bureaucrats and department heads with no integrity, and that the President’s administrative style has not been able to keep them in line.

Based on history, I choose the third.

This is not like Watergate, where the President was directly involved in conspiracy to commit and cover-up crimes.  This is more like the scandals that haunted Presidents Grant and Harding.  In each case, they chose the wrong people to lead the executive departments, and then they didn’t watch and control them closely enough.  When you read about these two “scandal-plagued” Presidents, you will not find any corruption or criminal activity directly tied to them–it is always attached to the people they failed to supervise because they thought that they could trust them.

Was the response to Benghazi politicized to help the Obama campaign?  Yes, but neither by the candidate himself nor the secretary of state.  They both should have known about it and put a stop to the lies, but they didn’t authorize them.

Was the abuse by the IRS a political strategy to hinder conservative groups?  Yes, but led from within the Treasury department, and not from the White House.

Was the outrageous raid on the AP’s phone records a power grab by a justice department that used the phony excuse of  “national security” to violate the first Amendment?  Yes, but by now it must be obvious to everyone that the CIA is far less effective than we thought, and is desperate to avoid being embarrassed again, especially by a leak from within. 

And nobody is even talking about the Department of Homeland Security, which considers angry white Constitutionalists more a threat than Muslim extremists, and is buying more ammunition than the army.  I won’t mention the tanks they recently bought, which could only be used within our own borders, and against our own people.

A true leader would see the illegitimate motives and directions of these department and agencies, and would replace their leadership with ones more in love with this nation and its values.  But maybe that is the administration’s greatest failing:  they don’t seem to understand or appreciate the traditional values of this land, and so their vision is directed more by discontent than by love for the USA.  

 

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Civil Rights

Just a quick note on civil rights.

Last week, the attorney general of the United States said that citizenship is a civil right.  He was speaking in the context of immigration reform, and his words renewed a curiosity within me.

So today I got out my copy of the Oxford English Dictionary and looked up the word civil.

According to the most definitive dictionary in the English language, civil refers to attributes belonging to citizens.  Unless there is a law on the books (or in the Constitution) guaranteeing that all people are to be considered citizens, then citizenship by very definition cannot be a civil right–civil rights are the result of citizenship, not the root cause.

What about the Civil Rights movement?  That was an attempt to see that all citizens received the rights guaranteed them by Constitutional amendment.  The term civil was used correctly.

One of the other definitions offers an alternative name for the Civil Rights movement–the Natural Rights Movement.   Civil rights, endowed by citizenship, can change; but Natural rights are endowed by God based on our very existence as beings made in His likeness and image.  All men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  I think I read that somewhere.

And, Mr. Holder, God never promised anyone citizenship in the US or any other nation–though He did offer citizenship in Heaven for all who will come to Him by grace through faith.

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School Issues

Just a couple of random thoughts about the politicizing of our schools today:

Was anyone else angered by the President’s speech at the Teacher of the Year ceremony?  It wasn’t enough to recognize the outstanding achievements of this dedicated educator, or to thank faithful teachers everywhere–POTUS had to give special attention to the teacher at Newtown, CT.  They weren’t there, and the event was not about them, but it gave the politician-in-chief another chance to lobby for gun control.  Mr. President, there is a time and a place, and this wasn’t it.

Also,

It seems to me that we punish our students more quickly for their t-shirts and their toys than we do real criminals with genuine weapons.  Today’s “no tolerance” policies get kids suspended (or even arrested) for harmless acts, without any consideration for their motives.  For criminals like the Boston bombers we agonize over their reasons for their deadly acts, as if the reasons made a difference.  Until scientific studies demonstrate that children who play innocently with toy guns grow up to be mass murderers, I say leave them alone.  It’s the intentional killers who should be suspended, if you get my drift….

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Do the Math

Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has acknowledged the release of 2,000+ illegal immigrants in recent days, and the plans to release about 3,000 more by the end of the month.  While she accepts no responsibility for the action, she explains it by citing the budgetary necessity, saying that it costs $164 per person per day to keep each prisoner locked up.

Obviously, each prisoner is not getting $164 worth of food per day; therefore, she must be dividing the total cost of the program–including the salaries of personnel, payments on one-time facility and furnishing purchases, and utilities–by the total inmate population.  DHS has not announced the closing of facilities, turning off of utilities, or layoffs of personnel.

They will realize little or no savings on food, since DHS reports that it will have to monitor these parolees at a cost of up to $14/per person/per day.  They have not announced additional hiring to monitor these people on the street, so apparently the present staff of parole officers have so little work that they can take on an extra 5,000 cases.   Additionally, the assumption is that state and local programs can absorb the necessity of caring for these jobless criminals at no additional cost (or at least no cost that matters to the feds).

And all that means that the total federal cost of running the program remains the same, while the prison population is reduced by roughly 11%.   By my calculations, that means that the daily cost of maintaining each of the remaining 30,000 after the end of the month will be $191 per day.

And that’s why we need to raise taxes again, so that we can pay for our savings.  Three cheers for Obamanomics!

 

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Three Cheers for Humility!

My church awarded me their annual “Humility Trophy,” but when I displayed it in my living room they made me give it back.

That’s an old joke; but the topic is newer and truer every day.  I could go on a rant here about the cult of celebrity; toddler pageants; reality shows; end zone celebrations; public immodesty; or any number of other attention-grabbing behaviors, but who am I to throw stones at others?  I post here on a semi-regular basis as if my thoughts and opinions are so important that they should be known outside of my own head and home.

So I will just say this and move on:  the President is already the President.  He has already been sworn in.  There have already been 2 days of partying (including a “Children’s Inaugural” event).  So everything you see and hear today is fake–phony–artificial “news”, designed to remind us how wonderful a particular public servant, his party, and his family and friends are.  I understand that in today’s culture, tremendous ambition is required of any candidate seeking to win elected office; but it seems to me that the desire for man’s approval has to end at some time if we truly desire God’s approval.

After all, my Bible still says, “If My people…shall HUMBLE themselves [the first of several requirements]…then will I hear from Heaven and heal their land.”  –2 Chronicles 7:14

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Mental Illness and Gun Confiscation

At this point, I have not been able to find the actual wording of New York’s new law or the federal government’s proposals; but I have some questions based on the information that I have found.

In general, the concept is that if a person is mentally ill, and a health care professional believes that he poses a threat to himself or others, the doctor must refer the matter to a supervisor, who will determine whether or not the threat is serious.  If he determines that it is a real threat, he is obligated to notify the appropriate police authorities, who will confiscate the patient’s guns.

  • Apparently, the NY law specifies only threats that mention using a gun illegally.  Will this be expanded to include all terroristic threats, which can be verbal, nonverbal, written, or even implied by body language?  If my doctor thinks I’m pointing a finger at him like a gun, can that result in my guns being taken?  (Or maybe they should amputate the finger?)
  • How are the doctor or supervisor supposed to investigate the threat to know whether it is serious?  Once they report to the police, do the police have to conduct their own investigation?
  • Will police need a search warrant to enter my house and take my guns?  Will the doctor’s word be enough evidence to obtain one?
  • Will there be a trial or other hearing to which I could appeal and potentially get my guns back?
  • How long will the report–even a false one–remain on file?
  • What if the guns in the home belong to someone else, like my wife or mother?  Are the police justified in confiscating them?
  • What if I make a threat to use a friend’s gun that is not stored in my home?  Can officials take it away from my friend?
  • What if I say I intend to buy a gun legally and then use it illegally?  Can it be confiscated from the seller?  (Remember, I don’t need a background check to buy from a family member.)
  • From what I can tell, doctor-patient privileges or HIPAA requirements do not apply in cases like this, even though they apply if my underaged daughter gets an abortion.  So what happens if my daughter has an abortion, and then suffers such guilt and remorse that she threatens to shoot herself with my gun?  Does that mean that the police can take my gun away, but they can’t tell me why?

When I was at my lowest, my thoughts of suicide never involved any of my guns–they always involved my car.  I wonder if the police will pay off the loan after they take that away from me.

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Interesting quote

clarence darrow pleaded for the life of leopold and loeb.  he said:

why did they kill little bobby franks?
not for money.
not for hate.
they killed him
because somewhere
in the infinite processes
which go into the the making of the boy or the man
something slipped.

something has slipped

not only in chicago.

something has slipped in towns everywhere across america,

in maine and in kansas,

in oregon and indiana and vermont,

something has slipped and as a result

we are all

sliding

back toward the dark ages.

–Karen Hesse, Witness, 2001.

 

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