Saturday, March 28, 2015

Illinois Concealed Carry Fails to Reenact "Tombstone"

In January 2014, Illinois finally became the 50th state to issue concealed carry licenses to law abiding people living within its borders.  Predictably, hoplophobes predicted that Chicago's streets would run red with blood, as crazed concealed carry permit holders reenacted the shootout at the O.K. Corral. 

Source: IMDB

Sadly, for bloody-shirt-waving hoplophobes, but fortunately for everyone else, the hoplophobes' fantasies failed to materialize.  Again. 
Opponents of the concealed carry law in Illinois — which State Sen. Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) said passed with "overwhelming support" — feared that it would increase rather than decrease crime, putting more guns into the streets that could fall into the wrong hands.
They always do.
In the year of concealed carry permits in Illinois, there have only been a couple incidents involving legal gun owners that have created headlines. In July, a concealed-carry permit holder in Crestwood tried shooting at a fleeing armed robber, hurting no one but forcing a police officer to duck for cover. In Chicago a member of the military who had a concealed carry permit shot and wounded an armed man who fired into a crowd on Chicago's Far South Side. 
Nevertheless, Hayes said he stopped opposing the concealed carry law when he realized that the past year has not resulted in the level of violence some anticipated. 
In fact, just the opposite happened.
Since Illinois started granting concealed carry permits this year, the number of robberies that have led to arrests in Chicago has declined 20 percent from last year, according to police department statistics. Reports of burglary and motor vehicle theft are down 20 percent and 26 percent, respectively. In the first quarter, the city’s homicide rate was at a 56-year low.  
Those of us who've been paying attention are not the least bit surprised.  After all, we've seen the same trend throughout the United States since 1993.  But those facts don't matter to hoplophobes.
But Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart's office has not changed its overall stance against the concealed carry law and its implementation, which as the Chicago Tribune reported recently, requires applicants to be vetted by a controversial state licensing board. 
"Sheriff Dart has been very vocal about his opposition," said Ben Breit, Dart's spokesman, adding that "it's a tough spot," because "the courts have spoken" to legalize concealed carry. 
"Gun violence is gun violence, whether it's in the suburbs or the city of Chicago," said Cara Smith, a Dart spokeswoman, acknowledging that the Sheriff's officers help police many of the county's suburbs.
Sheriff Dart and his fellow hoplophobes opposed concealed carry - supposedly - because they believed it would result in more crime.  The facts demonstrate that the opposite happened.  Crime rates dropped with concealed carry, just as they did throughout the US, yet Sheriff Dart and his fellow hoplophobes obstinately continue to oppose concealed carry.  Why?  Because Sheriff Dart and his fellow hoplophobes fear law abiding armed citizens more than they fear criminals.  Thus the term hoplophobe.

The next time a city or state considers relaxing gun laws, hoplophobes will again predict blood in the streets, because no matter how many times their prediction fails, it's the only trick they have.  Don't fall for it.

By the way, Tombstone still rocks, especially Val Kilmer's portrayal of Doc Holliday.

She Demands Much, but Offers Little

And now for something much more lighthearted.

Boy, she sure is demanding!  But, what does she offer in return?  Only a vague promise to "be the perfect wife", who "never learned to cook".

The perfect wife never learned to cook?

Yemen Gets Worse, But It's Still a Model For Success?

Source: BBC
I wrote about the imminent collapse of Yemen just six days ago, and it's already gotten much worse.  The situation is so bad that the president got out while the getting's good, Saudi Arabia has been leading air strikes against Shia rebels, and according to the AP, an invasion is next
Once the airstrikes have weakened the rebels and their allies in the military forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a ground invasion of Yemen is planned by Egyptian Saudi and other forces. 
The assault will come from Saudi Arabia and by landings on Yemen's coasts along the Red and Arabian seas, according to three Egyptian military and security officials. 
Three to five Egyptian troop carriers are stationed offshore, they said, although the number of troops was not specified, and the timing of the operation was not given. 
The aim is not to occupy Yemen but to weaken the Houthis and their allies until they enter negotiations for power-sharing, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the plans with the press.  
But fear not!  Yemen is still a model for counter-terrorism success.

You can read a transcript of the exchange from ABC News here.  Here's a bit of it.
QUESTION: You know, that -- that's astounding. You're saying that you still see Yemen as the model? I mean, the central -- building up the central government, a central government which is now collapsed; a president who has apparently fled the country. You know, Saudi troops massing on one border; the Iranians, you know, supporting the rebels. You consider this -- this as a model for counterterrorism? 
EARNEST: Again, John, what the United States considers to be our strategy when confronting the effort to try to mitigate the threat that is posed by extremists, is to prevent them from establishing a safe haven. And certainly in a chaotic, dangerous situation like in Yemen, what the United States will do and has done is worked to try to support the central government, to build up the capacity of local fighters, and use our own technological and military capabilities to apply pressure on the extremists there.
If White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest's response sounds like nonsense to you, it's probably because you're not high.  If so, a move to Washington State or Colorado may be in order.

The Best Defense Against Two Bad Guys With No Guns...

... is a good guy with a gun.  Even if that good "guy" is an 11-year-old girl
An 11-year-old girl used the shotgun she normally keeps to go hunting with her father to scare off a robber in her home, police said. 

The girl was alone at her North Branch Township home on Five Lakes Road about 3:45 p.m. on Jan. 30 when police said she surprised burglars who had broken into the house.
The girl hid in a bathroom closet, where she grabbed her shotgun that police said she stores in a gun safe. 
When one of the burglars opened the closet door, police said the girl -- whose parents were due home from work a short time later -- pointed the shotgun at him and he ran off
The accused

"The 12-gauge shotgun is her weapon," said Lapeer County Sheriff Detective Sgt. Jason Parks. "She and her father are into hunting and avid sportsmen. She was familiar with that weapon." 
Parks praised the girl's responsibility, poise and composure. 
"She is fully capable of staying there by herself as we can clearly see based on this situation," he said. "She was able to defend herself from an intruder and be able to resolve an event even most adults would be taken aback by." 
Added Parks, "She is fully capable of making sound, good decisions," he said. "And be a protector of her home."
First, I echo Detective Parks' praise of the young lady.  She behaved prudently and courageously in a possible life-or-death situation.  I'll also praise the girl's father for teaching his daughter to shoot safely.

It's also necessary to point out that the only reason an 11-year-old girl was able to defend herself from two criminals is that she was armed with a gun.  No other tool can give such a small person the power to defend him/herself from multiple assailants who are bigger, heavier and stronger than their intended victim.

Finally, please note that this is yet another scenario that hoplophobes claim doesn't happen.  The criminals ran as soon as they saw the shotgun barrel pointed at them, which is how most defensive gun uses go.   There was no bloodshed precisely because the girl was armed.  And although the girl is a hunter and familiar with her shotgun, there is no reason to believe that she had any tactical training, which disproves the hoplophobes' assertion that one requires Navy SEAL training to effectively use a gun in self defense.  Again.

What would've happened to this young lady if the hoplophobes would've succeeded in disarming her, and/or rendering her ignorant of guns, shooting and hunting?  Fortunately, we'll never need to find out.

College, the Diversity Scam and Outrageous Tuition

College tuition prices have sky rocketed far out of proportion with other prices over the last 40 years.
Source: MJ Perry

I would have to check to verify this, but I'm not sure there is any other item in the CPI [Consumer Price Index ~ OS] that has gone up faster since the 1970s than "college tuition and fees." We hear a lot about rising medical costs, but those increases (5.8% per year from 1978 to 2011) are relatively minor compared to the increases in tuition (7.45% per year over the same period).  As as you can see from the graph, tuition increases have accelerated over the last decade.  Since 2000, college tuition costs have doubled while medical costs have gone up by "only" about 52%.
A great deal of the price increase is the result of administrative bloat.
Johns Hopkins professor Benjamin Ginsberg reports that although student-faculty ratios fell slightly between 1975 and 2005, from 16-to-1 to 15-to-1, the student-to-administrator ratio fell from 84-to-1 to 68-to-1, and the student-to-professional-staff ratio fell from 50-to-1 to 21-to-1. Ginsberg concludes: "Apparently, when colleges and universities had more money to spend, they chose not to spend it on expanding their instructional resources, i.e. faculty. They chose, instead, to enhance their administrative and staff resources." 
What did that enormous increase in prices buy American students and parents?  For that, we turn to Prager University.

Apparently, college administrators' argument is that American universities are sexist, racist, homophobic hotbeds of rape that everyone should attend, and pay tens of thousands per year for the privilege.  Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

And since we know that college professors and administrators overwhelmingly vote for, and donate to Democrats, and they're the ones who run these sexist, racist, homophobic institutions, that means they are also arguing that "Liberals" and Democrats are racist, sexist homophobes.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

That Was Then, This Is Now: Yemen Edition

Six months ago, Yemen was - supposedly - a rare foreign policy success.

The last US special forces have been withdrawn from Yemen without exciting much notice from the US press.  Max Boot tweets: “All US SOF evacuating Yemen. Huge win for AQAP, huge defeat for US. How many foreign policy disasters can we handle?” Reuters reports, “the United States has evacuated its remaining personnel, including about 100 special operations forces, from Yemen because of the deteriorating security situation there, U.S. officials said on Saturday.”  This means that the last vestiges of what the Obama administration only recently touted as their model counter-insurgency operation are gone.  The collapse has flown largely under the media radar. 
Last week Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post reported that $500 million dollars in American supplied weapons are now in the hands of “Iranian-backed rebels or al-Qaeda”.  The Islamist blitzkrieg is living off huge quantities of captured US materiel.
In other words, the same thing happened in Yemen that happened in Libya and Syria.  Read the rest, if you dare.  It gets worse.

Along these lines, it appears that the world is becoming more violent.
According to an analysis of data from the world’s 20 most lethal wars last year, at least 163,000 people died in conflict. That compares to just under 127,000 in the 20 worst wars the previous year, a rise of 28.7 percent. 
That’s a pretty disturbing spike by anyone’s terms. And if you look at the first few months of 2015, the violence doesn’t seem to be waning. 
What’s even more worrying is that this seems to be part of an ongoing trend that now goes back eight years. According to the Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), global violence — as defined by a range of measures from conflict deaths, to displaced persons, to homicide rates — has been rising since 2007.
It's a good thing a Nobel Peace Prize recipieant has been leading the free world since 2009, otherwise, who knows what could've happened?  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

American Sniper Movie Review (Sort Of)

I watched the movie American Sniper almost a week ago, so if you've been living under a rock and haven't heard of it, or are somehow on the fence about the most controversial film in years, allow me to make things clear as mud.  You're welcome!

American Sniper brought to mind two movies.  The first is fairly obvious - Lone Survivor.  Unlike Lone Survivor, I haven't read the book on which American Sniper is based, thereby violating my own rule (I'll get to it, dammit!), so I can't say how closely the movie follows the book.

The second movie American Sniper brings to mind is - shockingly - The Deer Hunter, minus the anti-war, anti-American propaganda.  It left me wondering what movie American Sniper's "Liberal" critics saw, because the movie I watched is a realistically brutal portrayal of the price war exacts from the people involved in it.  Obviously, the movie deals with the price Chris Kyle paid fighting in Iraq, but it also portrays the damage done to his family (especially his wife, Taya), his friends, his brother, fellow servicemen and - to a lesser, but dramatic degree - Iraqi non-combatants.

In fact, I'd say it's the most personal and realistic portrayal of one human cost of war - the price paid by the living - that I've ever seen.  This is truly a great movie.  It was also very difficult for me to watch.

Bradley Cooper, by the way, was outstanding in the lead role.  He put on a lot of weight, grew a beard, changed his voice and mimicked Kyle's accent.  He pretty much disappeared into the role.  I never once thought, "oh yeah, that's the dude from The Hangover".

Like most books made into movies, I suspect some of American Sniper is embellished.  For example, Mustafa, the sniper, was a real person.  You can probably still find - in the darker corners of the internet - the videos he and his associates made of Mustafa shooting American servicemen.  I doubt, however, that there was a snipers' duel (like Zaytsev vs. K├Ânig in Stalingrad, or Carlos "The White Feather" Hathcock vs. "The Cobra" in Vietnam) between Mustafa and Kyle in real life.  Unfortunately, embellishment is always a part of Hollywood movies.

If you want to read two great, real life stories about Chris Kyle, by the way, check out this article.

Anti-war protesters in San Francisco, 2003.
The controversy:

As I stated in my Lone Survivor review, Leftists can only abide portrayals of American servicemen as either victims or monsters, often simultaneously.  American Sniper, presents us with a deeply flawed - but undoubtedly heroic - Chris Kyle making split second, life and death moral choices in the worst possible circumstances.  That is unacceptable to the Left.  American servicemen must only be portrayed positively when killing their superiors, deserting their units or committing treason.

That's why this movie is controversial.

Why American Sniper Is Important:

You've probably heard of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.  You may not know that they've been around a lot longer than the talking heads on TV let on.

The enemy portrayed in the movie is Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.  Later in the war, they began calling themselves The Islamic State in Iraq.  Their stated goal was to create an Islamic caliphate in the Middle East, starting with Iraq.  AQI/ISI members that survived the war in Iraq went to Syria to fight in that civil war and began calling themselves The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (or the Levant, depending on whom you believe).

Apparently, they hate the name Daesh, so that's what I'll call them from now on.

Daesh is nothing new.  Any defense, intelligence or diplomatic official who "didn't see [Daesh] coming" is either lying or incompetent.

AQI Torture Manual
The movie portrays their brutality accurately.  The mutilations, the use of power tools in torture, the murder of children, the use of children as cannon fodder - it all happened.
Such a lead brought soldiers earlier this month to the hidden room in Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said Thursday. Graffiti on the building proclaimed "Long Live the Islamic State" - a reference to the Islamic governance, or caliphate, sought in Iraq by Sunni extremist groups that include al-Qaida
Scrawled in white paint above a bed in the torture area was a Quranic phrase in Arabic normally used to welcome a guest. But the context suggested only sadistic mockery: "Come in, you are safe." 
The floor was littered with food wrappers, plastic soda bottles and electric cables that snaked to a metal bed frame, presumably where detainees were shocked, according to the U.S. account of the discovery during a Dec. 8-11 mission. 
The rooms "had chains, a bed - an iron bed that was still connected to a battery - knives and swords that were still covered in blood," said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, the top U.S. commander in northern Iraq. 
Nearby were nine mass graves containing the remains of 26 people, he said.
Elsewhere in Diyala...

Soldiers from 5th IA said al Qaeda had cut the heads off the children. Had al Qaeda murdered the children in front of their parents? Maybe it had been the other way around: maybe they had murdered the parents in front of the children. Maybe they had forced the father to dig the graves of his children.
In Baghdad...
A raid on a major al-Qaida hideout north of Baghdad has uncovered evidence of a network of child suicide bombers who have been coerced into launching terror attacks across Iraq. 
The use of children had been seen as a way to bypass security checks that have gradually become more stringent nationwide.
And it's all happening again.  Because it's the same people doing it all over again.
In reference to Iraq, at least, the U.N. report found that the terrorist group is resorting more and more to brutal acts such as enslaving, raping, beheading, crucifying and burying people alive. Some of those affected are children. 
"We have had reports of children, especially children that are mentally challenged, who have been used as suicide bombers, most probably without them even understanding what has happened or what they have to expect," said Renate Winter, an expert with the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child. 
Some as young as age 8 are getting training to become soldiers, she said.  
Son of Australian Muslim, Khaled Sharrouf, holds the decapitated head of a soldier in the Syrian city of Raqqa.
"Children of minorities have been captured in places where the so-called ISIL has its strength, have been sold in market with tags, price tags on them, have been sold as slaves," Winter said. 
People of the Yazidi faith -- which draws from Christianity, Judaism and the ancient monotheistic religion of Zoroastrianism, and which some Muslims consider devil worship -- have long faced persecution, though by comparison ISIS' cruelty to them has been extraordinary. Kurdistan Regional Government adviser Nazand Begikhani, for instance, has said Yazidi "women have been treated like cattle, ... subjected to physical and sexual violence, including systematic rape and sex slavery." 
Yazidi children haven't fared much better at the hands of ISIS. An earlier U.N. report described how militants rounded up all Yazidi males "older than 10 years of age at the local school, took them outside the village by pickup trucks, and shot them."
In light of current events, American Sniper serves as a stark reminder of what happens when we knock an enemy down, then fail to follow through.

I highly recommend American Sniper, although I don't know if I'll ever watch it again.  Be warned, it's tough to watch, especially if you fought in Iraq or Afghanistan.  If you have loved ones there now, you may want to wait until they're home safe.  Or, like my wife, refuse to watch it... ever!