Monday, December 31, 2012

The Year 2012 in Images

From the International Herald Tribune, the year in images

In the rest of the world, 75% of humans live their lives being ransacked by mafias, cops, and the military

Something I never see mentioned as an argument for an armed citizenry: look at the everyday life of regular people in the rest of the world, outside of the West and other developped nations. Until today, 75% of humans live their lives being ransacked by mafias, cops, and military. That's why I've always been suspicious of law enforcement and military: these people should never been allowed to outgun the citizenry.
 Thus writes Hervé as he sends us this National Review piece from Kevin D. Williamson. (When you're done reading it, be sure to check out the No Pasarán post on the Sandy Hook shooting).
Regulating the Militia
The Second Amendment is about protecting ourselves from the state.
My friend Brett Joshpe has published an uncharacteristically soft-headed piece in the San Francisco Chronicle arguing that in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook, conservatives and Republicans should support what he calls “sensible” gun-control laws. It begins with a subtext of self-congratulation (“As a conservative and a Republican, I can no longer remain silent . . . Some will consider it heresy,” etc.), casts aspersions of intellectual dishonesty (arguments for preserving our traditional rights are “disingenuous”), advances into ex homine (noting he has family in Sandy Hook, as though that confers special status on his preferences), fundamentally misunderstands the argument for the right to keep and bear arms, deputizes the electorate, and cites the presence of teddy bears as evidence for his case.
Brett, like practically every other person seeking to diminish our constitutional rights, either does not understand the purpose of the Second Amendment or refuses to address it, writing, “Gun advocates will be hard-pressed to explain why the average American citizen needs an assault weapon with a high-capacity magazine other than for recreational purposes.” The answer to this question is straightforward: The purpose of having citizens armed with paramilitary weapons is to allow them to engage in paramilitary actions. The Second Amendment is not about Bambi and burglars — whatever a well-regulated militia is, it is not a hunting party or a sport-clays club. It is remarkable to me that any educated person — let alone a Harvard Law graduate — believes that the second item on the Bill of Rights is a constitutional guarantee of enjoying a recreational activity.
There is no legitimate exception to the Second Amendment for military-style weapons, because military-style weapons are precisely what the Second Amendment guarantees our right to keep and bear. The purpose of the Second Amendment is to secure our ability to oppose enemies foreign and domestic, a guarantee against disorder and tyranny. Consider the words of Supreme Court justice Joseph Story — who was, it bears noting, appointed to the Court by the guy who wrote the Constitution:
The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.
“Usurpation and arbitrary power of the rulers” — not Bambi, not burglars. While your granddad’s .30-06 is a good deal more powerful than the .223 rifles that give blue-state types the howling fantods, that is not what we have a constitutional provision to protect. Liberals are forever asking: “Why would anybody need a gun like that?” And the answer is: because we are not serfs. We are a free people living under a republic of our own construction. We may consent to be governed, but we will not be ruled.
The right to keep and bear arms is a civil right. If you doubt that, consider the history of arms control in England, where members of the Catholic minority (and non-Protestants generally) were prohibited from bearing arms as part of the campaign of general political oppression against them. The Act of Disenfranchisement was still in effect when our Constitution was being written, a fact that surely was on the mind of such Founding Fathers as Daniel Carroll, to say nothing of his brother, Archbishop John Carroll.
The Second Amendment speaks to the nature of the relationship between citizen and state. Brett may think that such a notion is an antiquated relic of the 18th century, but then he should be arguing for wholesale repeal of the Second Amendment rather than presenting — what’s the word? — disingenuous arguments about what it means and the purpose behind it.
If we want to reduce the level of criminal violence in our society, we should start by demanding that the police and criminal-justice bureaucracies do their job. Massacres such as Sandy Hook catch our attention because they are so unusual. But a great deal of the commonplace violence in our society is preventable. Brett here might look to his hometown: There were 1,662 murders in New York City from 2003 to 2005, and a New York Times analysis of the data found that in 90 percent of the cases, the killer had a prior criminal record. (About half the victims did, too.) Events such as Sandy Hook may come out of nowhere, but the great majority of murders do not. The police function in essence as a janitorial service, cleaning up the mess created in part by our dysfunctional criminal-justice system.
We probably would get more out of our criminal-justice system if it were not so heavily populated by criminals. As I note in my upcoming book, The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome, it can be hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys:
For more than twenty years, NYPD detectives worked as enforcers and assassins for the Gambino crime family; in 2006 two detectives were convicted not only of murder and conspiracy to commit murder but also on charges related to such traditional mob activity as labor racketeering, running illegal gambling rings, extortion, narcotics trafficking, obstruction of justice, and the like. This was hardly an isolated incident; only a few years prior to the NYPD convictions more than 70 LAPD officers associated with the city’s anti-gang unit were found to have been deeply involved in gang-affiliated criminal enterprises connected to the Bloods street gang. Their crimes ranged from the familiar police transgressions of falsifying evidence, obstructing justice, and selling drugs seized in arrests to such traditional outlaw fare as bank robbery — they were cops and robbers. More than 100 criminal convictions were overturned because of evidence planted or falsified by officers of the LAPD. One scholarly account of the scandal concluded that such activity is not atypical but rather systemic — and largely immune to attempts at reform: “The current institution of law enforcement in America does appear to reproduce itself according [to] counter-legal norms . . . attempts to counteract this reproduction via the training one receives in police academies, the imposition of citizen review boards, departments of Internal Affairs, etc. do not appear to mitigate against this structural continuity between law enforcement and crime.”
The Department of Homeland Security has existed for only a few years but it already has been partly transformed into an organized-crime syndicate. According to a federal report, in 2011 alone more than 300 DHS employees and contractors were charged with crimes ranging from smuggling drugs and child pornography to selling sensitive intelligence to drug cartels. That’s not a few bad apples — that’s an arrest every weekday and many weekends. Given the usual low ratio of arrests to crimes committed, it is probable that DHS employees are responsible for not hundreds but thousands of crimes. And these are not minor infractions: Agents in the department’s immigration division were caught selling forged immigrant documents, and DHS vehicles have been used to transport hundreds (and possibly thousands) of pounds of illegal drugs. A “standover” crew — that is, a criminal enterprise that specializes in robbing other criminals — was found being run by a DHS agent in Arizona, who was apprehended while hijacking a truckload of cocaine.
Power corrupts. Madison knew that, and the other Founders did, too, which is why we have a Second Amendment.
Related: What Is to Blame for the Connecticut Shooting? Does the Blame Lie with the Right to Bear Arms Or Can It Be Found Elsewhere?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

If I Were the Devil by PAUL HARVEY

Duncan Hill sends us the following:
For those unfamiliar with Paul Harvey, he was the most popular radio commentator of his time … in the US. In 1965, he broadcast this message. Amazing how clear things were for him. Thank goodness we have Obama to prove him right.
Valerie adds that several
versions of the text can be found
for the message was rebroadcast over the years, again and again, slightly rewritten at times from its original form, in 1964.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address Quoted During Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech for European Union

Should one feel impressed? And flattered? Or amused?

(And should we put the question to Nigel Farage?)
While accepting the Nobel Peace Prize for the European Union in Oslo’s City Hall a couple of weeks ago, Herman Van Rompuy quoted Abraham Lincoln in his acceptance speech.

As reported by Andrew Higgins in the New York Times, the president of the European Council said: “If I can borrow the words of Abraham Lincoln at the time of another continental test, what is being assessed today is whether that union, or any union so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”
Besieged by economic woes and insistent questions about its future, the European Union accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on Monday with calls for further integration and a plea to remember the words of Abraham Lincoln as he addressed a divided nation at Gettysburg. 

The prize ceremony, held in Oslo’s City Hall and attended by 20 European leaders as well as Norway’s royal family, brought a rare respite from the gloom that has settled on the European Union since the Greek debt crisis exploded three years ago, unleashing doubt about the long-term viability of the euro and about an edifice of European institutions built up over more than half a century to promote an ever closer union. 

Unemployment — now at over 25 percent in Greece and Spain — and sputtering economic growth across the 27-nation bloc are “putting the political bonds of our union to the test,” Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, said in his acceptance speech. “If I can borrow the words of Abraham Lincoln at the time of another continental test, what is being assessed today is whether that union, or any union so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”
The European Union, said Mr. Van Rompuy, will “answer with our deeds, confident we will succeed.”

“We are working very hard to overcome the difficulties, to restore growth and jobs,” he continued.
Aside from economic misery, the most serious threat to the bloc so far is growing pressure in Britain for a referendum on whether to pull out of the union. The British prime minister, David Cameron, did not attend the ceremony, but most other European leaders showed up, including Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and the French president, François Hollande, who sat next to each other and whose countries, once bitter enemies, have been the main motors driving European integration. 

Mr. Van Rompuy’s comparison of the European Union to the United States is likely to irritate critics of the European Union, who reject efforts to push European nations to surrender more sovereignty in pursuit of what champions of a federal European state hope will one day be a United States of Europe. 

Just how far Europe is from such a goal, however, was made clear by the presence of three Union presidents in Oslo. In addition to Mr. Van Rompuy, whose European Council represents the leaders of the union’s member states, there was José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, the bloc’s main administrative and policy-making arm, and Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament. 

Instead of the customary Nobel lecture delivered by the winner, Mr. Van Rompuy and Mr. Barroso each read parts of what Thorbjorn Jagland, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, described as “one speech but two chapters.” 

Hailing the European Union for helping bring peace to Europe after repeated wars, Mr. Jagland said, “What this continent has achieved is truly fantastic, from being a continent of war to becoming a continent of peace.”
Mr. Barroso spoke of the horrors of past wars and tyranny and Europe’s efforts to overcome them through the building of supranational institutions, which began in 1951 with the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community by France, Germany and four other countries. But he also cited the current conflict in Syria, describing it as a “stain on the world’s conscience” that other nations have “a moral duty” to address. The European Union’s member states are themselves divided about how far to go in supporting opponents of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president.
The decision to honor the European Union with the Nobel Peace Prize stirred widespread criticism in Norway, whose citizens have twice voted not to join the union. On the eve of Monday’s award ceremony, peace activists and supporters of left-wing political groups paraded through the streets of Oslo, carrying flaming torches and chanting, “The E.U. is not a worthy winner.”
Many peace activists say they have no problem with European integration but question whether the union has lived up to conditions laid down by Alfred Nobel, the 19th-century Swedish industrialist who bequeathed the peace prize and four other Nobel Prizes.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How do You Say the Word "Kafka" in African?

A poster showing foreigners how the system works:
What leads to work documents (papers) is a pay slip;
what leads to a pay slip is work;
what leads to work are… work documents
What leads to work documents is a… Etc…
(In the center of the poster: You are here!)
• Bureaucrat to colleague: How do you say the word "Kafka" in African?

While the Europeans are, as usual, denouncing racism in America, as well as its heartless system (capitalist or otherwise), and giving them lessons in civility and honing their society in a humane manner, while asking that the country's clueless inhabitants look toward their shining shores for the type of society that would be ideal for everybody, it turns out that the system which allows for foreigners to obtain papers in France is hardly more humane, or generous, than elsewhere — and that, even under a socialist government…

Indeed, a better word is Kafkaesque, for while "the holy grail" for getting settled legally through work is the pay slip, as Elise Vincent and François Béguin explain in Le Monde, the cartoon points out that things ain't that simple…

Related: The above does not invalidate the simple fact that
It So Happens That Every Illegal Alien (in America or elsewhere) Already Does Have Papers

"Undocumented Worker": The Left's Preferred Expression for "Illegal Alien" Is False and Misleading

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

"Independent" Journalist in France Offers Some "Neutral" Propositions to Barack Obama, Later Deletes Tweet

After congratulating Barack Obama on Twitter for being named Time's man of the year, and after dissing "strident" gun-rights advocates, a French journalist shows his independence, his objectivity, and his neutrality by calling for the Apologizer-in-Chief to "cash in some of that bonus capital" (not realizing that the "honor" won — hardly earned — by Obama is an entirely artificial one made up by the like-minded mainstream media) and for him to stand up to…

 To whom?

 To the Chinese?

 To Vladimir Putin?

To Bashir Al-Assad?

To Mohamed Morsi?

No, of course not;
to stand up to Benjamin Netanyahu…
Yes, one tweet shows that a news editor is both ignorant and biased against Israel. Not surprisingly, the two often go hand in hand. …
Subsequently, Douglas Herbert deletes the tweet.
UPDATE: Herbert deleted the tweet, perhaps thinking that no one will notice. You would think a person in the media would realize that silently erasing evidence makes things look even worse.

Monday, December 24, 2012

One to Two Dozen Volumes of Classic History Books for Christmas — For Less Than $10

Guess what: it's not too late to order Christmas gifts, for others or for yourself, if you head to Amazon's Kindle store — nor need it be expensive.

Glenn Reynolds mentions that Edward Gibbons' multi-volume Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is available on Kindle for only $2.99 (the price rises, faintly, to $3.48 when ordering from Europe, which you will agree is fairly acceptable).

While you're at it, you may do as I did, and go berserk by going on a shopping spree and spending like a maniac. (I cannot tell from here, but, as noted, the prices may be even lower when ordering within North America.)

I went on to order:
Livy's History of Rome ($1.16),
The Complete Works of Julius Caesar ($1.49), and
Suetonius's The Twelve Caesars ($1.16).
Besides those, I bought
• the Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson ($0.96)
• and Tocqueville's Democracy in America ($1.16)
• as well as the five volumes of John Marshall's Life of George Washington which are among the Amazon books you can download, on a constant or on a temporary basis, for… free.

Joyeux Noël et 
Bonne Nouvelle Année 
to one and to all!

PS: Be sure to order Amazon items through an affiliate like Instapundit, which amounts to blog support through your purchases, albeit at no cost to yourself…

Recently Uncovered by Archaeologists: The earliest online comments known to man

Writes Craig Brown: Archaeologists recently uncovered what they believe to be some of the earliest online comments known to man.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Breaking News From 1921

The 1921 headline on this Washington Daily News issue — sold by a newsboy with a sign on his hat asking, "Have you read The News? One cent" — reads "Millionaire tax rends G.O.P".

(Thanks to The Andrea Shea King Show)

卐mas Caroling: The Extremes Hitler Wanted to Go To in Order to Replace Christianity with the "Religion" of National Socialism

You undoubtedly know the rumor — commonly accepted as uncontroversial truth — that while Soviet tyranny was atheistic, its German equivalent was based on such traditional aspects of capitalist society as traditional religion (a rumor undoubtedly nourished — and that, entirely plausibly, it must be admitted — by Nazism's persecution of the Jewish minority). (Aktualisierung: Danke für die Linke, Glenn Reynolds, Ed Driscoll, Sarah Hoyt, und der blog Instapundit.)

The alleged link between Christianity and Nazism is quickly debunked by a few seconds' thought. Think about it, indeed: how many times, in how many World War II books, in how many documentaries with 1940s footage, have you seen pictures — whether fake poses deliberately prepared for propaganda purposes or simply "innocent", matter-of-fact news shots — of Adolf Hitler or any high-level Nazi official in silent (Christian or other) prayer?  Hands joined and/or eyes closed with head down?

How many times have you seen photos of Hitler, Himmler, Göring, Goebbels, or any SS member seated in a pew or even simply appearing inside a church?

That's right, it's like snapshots, or films, of ostriches sticking their necks in the sand: there ain't any.

Pictures of Nazis honoring traditional religion and religious traditions simply do not seem to exist.

(Unless, of course, the presence of the high-level Nazi inside or in front of a given church has nothing to do with religion per se.  For instance, there may exist photos of der Führer in front of the Sacré-Cœur cathedral — just like when he poses at the Trocadéro with the Eiffel Tower in the background — but that is as a tourist visiting a foreign capital or, rather, as a war leader visiting a defeated city.)

Now, should the need for more confirmation really exist, we have the 75 Years Ago section of the International Herald Tribune.

It is edifying — to say the least.
1937 — ‘Neo-Pagans’ Target Carols
BERLIN — De-Christianization of famous German Christmas hymns, such as “Silent Night, Holy Night,” is the outstanding contribution to the current holiday season of the rapidly spreading German faith movement or “religion” of National Socialism. In the new versions of the old songs reference to Nazi tenets of race, blood and soil replace familiar words concerning Christ, Child and the like. The accepted English translation of Mohr’s “Silent Night,” stanza three lines two and three is: “The Son of God loves pure light, radiant beams from thy Holy faith.” Equivalent lines in the Nazified version are “German blood, O how laugh the lips of thy children, blessed with joy.”
Of course, another reason a Nazi leader might meet with a religious leader might be for reasons of diplomacy with an ally — but again, no pictures seem to exist with any Catholic priest or Protestant preacher, German or foreign.

As it happens, this photo and this video seem to show the only time Adolf Hitler has met any religious leader of note.

Update: Adolf Hitler in Religious Surroundings: Is There Really Evidence That the Führer Was a Christian? — an in-depth, dispassionate look at the evidence brought by a couple of commenters claiming that Christianity was an integral part of Nazism…

Update 2: Worshipping Little Else But the Aryan Race, Hitler Abhorred the Christian Faith and Wanted to Replace Christmas with the Pagans' Yule

Related: • Jonah Goldberg: Just for the record, Hitler detested Christianity

• Ray Comfort, whose “Hitler, God and the Bible” points out Hitler devised a master strategy to crush all Christian churches, explains that it would be either ignorant or disingenuous to call Hitler a Christian:
In a special Christian Broadcasting Network program, Comfort cites the head of Hitler Youth, Boldur von Schirach, who said, “Destruction of Christianity was explicitly recognized as a purpose of the National Socialist Movement.”

 … The CBN program explains how Hitler put on a religious, even Christian, façade, until he became powerful.

 … But later one of his inner circle acknowledged: “I’m absolutely clear in my own mind, and I think I can speak for the Fuhrer as well, that both the Catholic and Protestant churches will vanish from the life of our people.”
Update 3: How Hitler's Nazi propaganda machine tried to take Christ out of Christmas (danke zu Ed Driscoll)
 … the way Christmas was used by the atheist Nazis, who tried to turn it into a pagan winter solstice celebration.

 … 'Christmas was a provocation for the Nazis - after all, the baby Jesus was a Jewish child,' Judith Breuer told the German newspaper Spiegel. 'The most important celebration in the year didn't fit with their racist beliefs so they had to react, by trying to make it less Christian.'

The exhibition includes swastika-shaped cookie-cutters and Christmas tree baubles shaped like Iron Cross medals.

The Nazis attempted to persuade housewives to bake cookies in the shape of swastikas, and they replaced the Christian figure of Saint Nicholas, who traditionally brings German children treats on December 6, with the Norse god Odin.

The symbol that posed a particular problem for the Nazis was the star, which traditionally decorates Christmas trees.

 … The is a legacy of the Nazi Christmas. The wartime version of the traditional Christmas carol 'Unto us a time has come' is still sung. 'The Nazis took out the references to Jesus and made it into a song about walking through the snow,' Breuer said.

Surprisingly, German churches put up little opposition to the Nazification of Christmas. 'You would have expected them to protest loudly and insist that it was a Christian festival,' said Breuer. 'But instead they largely kept quiet, out of fear.'
Update 4: "Out With Jesus" — During His 12 Years in Power, Hitler Tried to Ban the Tradition of Christmas

We're Alive! We're ALIVE!!

An inspiring and uplifting video helps explain exactly how we averted Mayan catastrophe (thanks to Damian Bennett) and why we all of us are still alive today… (You may have to press Play twice…)

Friday, December 21, 2012

While Depardieu Undergoes Criticism, Le Monde Contrasts the Star's Current and Future Homes

On the sign of the Belgian town where Gérard Depardieu is moving, a joker has scratched the word Nounours (Teddy Bear), which has been Depardieu's nickname (another is Gégé) since the actor started gaining weight many years ago.
Update: While Nounours welcomes people to Néchin, we wish to say welcome to the readers of Instapundit… 

Criticism of (the departing) Gérard Depardieu has been mounting, but that expecially among government ministers. Nounours hates François Hollande, calling the French president the "Piglet".

Amongst his fellow actors, a Philippe Torreton has joined in the criticism, while Brigitte Bardot has leapt to Gégé's defense.

In any case, Le Monde's Florence Aubenas and Geoffroy Deffrennes offer a full-page comparison of Gégé's current home (in one of the poshest streets of Paris) to his future home (in the small town across the Belgian border — see photos above and below this paragraph).

In his Paris street, the man whom one storeowner called "Saint Depardieu" enjoys the company of the locals, helping them with various problems and calling all of them by the familiar tu. Indeed, because he has helped save so many stores and jobs — opening a couple of restaurants in the process — Rue du Cherche-Midi might have ended up being called Rue Depardieu, had not the Belgian "scandal" erupted…

Depardieu vouait une passion tonitruante au président Nicolas Sarkozy. Avec François Hollande, c'est tout aussi bruyant, mais à l'inverse : "Il semble le détester de manière presque physique", note un voisin. En tout cas, en public, sans se cacher, il a l'habitude de le désigner sous un seul nom : "le porcelet".

Pour un amateur de bonne bouffe, ça passerait presque pour aimable, et le boucher de la rue de Sèvres, où Depardieu vient en personne choisir son agneau de lait, serait peut-être prêt à le certifier. Le surnom a fini par arriver aux oreilles de Hollande soi-même. 

… un commerçant énumère volontiers les miracles de saint Depardieu, qui a sauvé une coiffeuse jetée à la rue par son bailleur, en lui offrant un local. En fait, tout le monde le connaît dans la rue, même au magasin bio, seul commerce de bouche où il n'entre jamais, "contrairement au fils de Johnny Hallyday", lui aussi du quartier. Et s'il fallait prendre parti, la plupart des voisins le trouvent plutôt chic, plus chic en tout cas qu'Alain Delon, résident suisse depuis 1999, qui vend des lunettes mais pas comme oculiste : il est devenu une des plus grandes marques du secteur.

"It's the Middle Ages" Inside a Prison Filled with Rats, Refuse, and Rainwater, Denounces an Inmate; An American Jail? No, a French One

The team of the Controller General of Prisons left the premises unnerved. By the dreadful smell of garbage and urine, by the crumbling walls, by water trickling inside buildings, by rats that swarm to such a point that guards stamp their feet during night patrols to scare them off. They found a scorpion in a puddle and came upon a prisoner lapping water from the toilet, tired of three weeks' worth of ignored requests to repair his cell's faucet. Another inmate, petrified by fear, ended by admitting that he was the slave, including in the sexual sense, of his two fellow prisoners.
While French intellectuals continue lambasting the lack of humanity in the rotten capitalist system of the clueless and backwards-looking Americans — people who are totally reactionary and have not the slightest idea of what human rights entails — Franck Johannès publishes an article on the front page of Le Monde on Marseille's prison of shame (see the slide show as well as the video).

The "overpopulation of detainment places" is a thing which the daily of reference describes as nothing less than a French disease, while National Syndicate of Prison Directors (SNDP) leader Boris Targe warns that the "situation in [French] prisons has become truly alarming" as he deplores "an explosion of violence between prisoners and against the prison personnel." (Read the original French version.)

Jean-Marie Delarue, the Comptroller General of Places of Liberty Deprivation [yeah, how more bureaucratese can you get than that?!], found the shipwreck of Marseille's Baumettes prison sufficiently alarming to ring the emergency bell provided for in case of the "serious violation of fundamental rights." 
… The treatment of waste "is problematic," notes the report politely, and the electric grid "does not fill current needs": one guard made ​​his night rounds, in full darkness, with nothing but his own tiny personal flashlight. Seven showers in ten are broken. The kitchen was indeed renovated in 1998, "but the hallways of the basement where it is located are extremely dirty." When inmates have not been brought back from their promenade, their meal trays are left in front of the cell doors, to the great satisfaction of the rat population used to waiting for feeding time. Most trays end out the window. "It's a miracle that there has been no epidemic," exclaims the Comptroller, "if an inmate were to become seriously ill, it would spread like wildfire."
… These detention centers are bursting at the seams with an overpopulation averaging 136.6%.
There is a scarcity in personnel, and given the conditions of work, absenteeism is high: 2.6 days' worth of absence per person per month, according to the Comptroller's calculations. One of the guards remembers the day when a rat jumped on his chest, something that duly traumatized him. Sometimes there is only one warden per floor, which amounts to 200 prisoners. Judges' clerks responsible for sentencing refuse to show up at the jail — consequently, the judges themselves do not go there either, something the psychiatric MDs refuse as well.

There is, moreover, strictly nothing to do inside les Baumettes. ... "In these circumstances," says Jean-Marie Delarue, "the only activity there is is the promenade, for up to six hours per day."
Guards do not supervise the walk — "because they're afraid" — or, indeed, the showers, where bloody scores are settled. Since the beginning of the year, doctors have identified 14 multiple bruises, eight deep wounds, seven fractures, three head traumas, and one rape. Because inside a prison, everything has a price. Like a telephone. "I have two phone providers," said one officer. "The retailer and the thugs."
… The poorest, or the weakest, go into debt (15% on average are indigent), many no longer dare leave their cells, even to take a shower. Others go into the service of thugs — or try to escape.
Prisoners testify to Simon Piel that "Les Baumettes is a dungeon" and that inside, "it's the Middle Ages":
The nine months one inmate spent in les Baumettes, the Marseille detention center which he was released from in 2006, left permanent scars. "Some of the others tried extortion to get my shoes or pants, but I had become friends with some hefty dudes. And then I did the warrior spiel. When guys know that if they want to assault you, they will have to fight, they pause to reflect. If you allow it to happen only once it is finished." The staircases, the showers, and the walking areas are the places that are most feared. "Never make a move by yourself," he says. "There are no cameras or guards in that kind of area. When I was inside, one guy got stabbed three times in the stairwell. To be alone is to be a target."
… In addition to this daily violence and the difficulty for a staff suffering shortages to manage it, there is a dilapidation which spares not a single building. "This is the Middle Ages," says a former inmate. "The rats are the size of a big cat," testifies another … He says: "My cell was foul with regards to hygiene: the toilets were appalling, the mattress and blanket were filled with hair." As for cockroaches, he identified "three different types."
Referring to "the indignity of the situation" and to what it calls a "national scandal", a Le Monde editorial concluded that "France is regressing and is treating its prisoners in an inhumane fashion."
Camus said it best: "The only way we can judge the degree of civilization in a nation is by visiting its prisons." A visit to les Baumettes prison in Marseille shows that France is regressing and is treating its prisoners in an inhumane fashion.
On Thursday, December 6, Jean-Marie Delarue, Comptroller General of Places of Liberty Deprivation, took stock of the alarming state of this particular prison: the rats and cockroaches are swarming, the cells with broken windows are repulsively filthy, inmates lacking running water drink from the toilet bowl. The prison is overcrowded, the inactivity forced, the settling of scores and the racketeering pervasive. In fact, the deprivation of liberty is no longer makes any sense, because it produces madmen more violent on the way out than on the way in.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

After Dissing Depardieu's Self-Proclaimed Tax Figures, French Government Forced to Admit That 85% Tax Is Entirely Plausible

After stating that it was impossible for any one taxpayer to have to pay 85% of his income or fortune in taxes, as (the departing) Gérard Depardieu was claiming (i.e., suggesting that the movie star was lying), a government minister has had to admit that the members of the government were, or at least that he himself was, wrong and did not know the nation's tax figures.

Indeed, the Solidarity Tax on Fortunes has attained record heights in 2012 and, in the "right" circumstances, the sky-high rate is therefore entirely plausible. (L'Impôt de Solidarité sur la Fortune (ISF) is thus named, because of the effort of solidarity that, from the Left's viewpoint, "patriotic" rich people must make in order to help their brethren in poverty.)
La fiscalité française est affreusement complexe et changeante. Le ministre des relations avec le Parlement, Alain Vidalies, aurait été bien inspiré de s'en souvenir lorsqu'il a critiqué l'argument avancé par Gérard Depardieu pour expliquer sa décision de quitter la France. "Je pars après avoir payé, en 2012, 85 % d'impôts sur mes revenus", a écrit l'acteur dans sa lettre ouverte à Jean-Marc Ayrault. "Evidemment ce n'est pas possible", a répliqué, dimanche 16 décembre sur Radio J, M. Vidalies.
Le ministre s'est trompé. Il est tout à fait possible d'être imposé à 85 % sur ses revenus en 2012. Cette possibilité générale, qui ne dit rien du cas Depardieu, tient aux réformes successives de l'impôt de solidarité sur la fortune (ISF) décidées par la droite puis par la gauche pour cette année. "Plusieurs centaines de personnes ont été imposées à plus de 85 % en 2012", estime même le président UMP de la commission des finances de l'Assemblée nationale, Gilles Carrez.
Meanwhile, the Socialist government is considering passing a 10% tax on… movie tickets! (It is currently 7%; on the plus side, other taxes have come, or will be coming, down.)

… Raising taxes on film tickets is doubly ironic, notes Clarisse Fabre, given that the French are always vaunting the cultural exception, indeed while defending in Brussels their subsidies to their nation's movie industry. (And many thanks to le Professeur Glenn Reynolds)
A Bruxelles, le gouvernement se bat pour défendre l'exception culturelle. Sur les bancs de l'Assemblée nationale, à Paris, c'est une autre histoire... Le projet de loi de finances rectificative 2012, que les députés ont examiné en nouvelle lecture, mardi 18 décembre, vient de le prouver. … les secteurs actuellement taxés à … 7 % vont grimper à 10 %. C'est ce qui est arrivé au cinéma — mais aussi au droit d'auteur, le vote suscitant l'indignation des sociétés de perception de droits (SACD, SCAM...).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Super Tax Exile Depardieu: "Putin Has Sent Me a Passport"

If France wants to deprive Gérard Depardieu of his nationality for moving to Belgium because he no longer wants to pay 75% to 85% of his income in taxes — in effect for going Galt — then plenty of other countries would be happy to have him join their communities.

Not only is the (soon-to-be-ex) French film star reported to have asked the Belgian government for a passport, but Raphaëlle Bacqué informs us that the (soon-to-become) Belgian film star also has received offers from places as far away as Montenegro (where Gégé has friends and does business) and Russia.
Depardieu a lancé qu'il pouvait déjà compter sur trois pays pour l'accueillir. La Belgique, où il vient d'acheter une maison, le Monténegro, où il a des amis et fait des affaires, et la Russie : "Poutine m'a déjà envoyé un passeport !", s'est amusé Depardieu.
Indeed, laughs Depardieu, Vladimir "Putin has already sent me a passport!"

Moreover, a friend of Nounours ("Teddy Bear" has been Depardieu's nickname since the actor started gaining weight many years ago) says that he started preparing to move out of the country "the very day after a Socialist president won the election" and that, in a way, he has decided "to embody the opposition to François Hollande and" to his prime minister.
"D'excellente humeur et décidé à incarner l'opposition à François Hollande et Jean-Marc Ayrault", assure l'un des convives, la star du cinéma français a expliqué en riant avoir préparé son départ "dès le lendemain de l'élection du président socialiste", tout en soulignant qu'il vit déjà la moitié de l'année à l'étranger.
Meanwhile, all the French government can do is give the (ex-French, soon-to-become-Belgian) film star lessons on the virtues of patriotism. As Minister of Industrial Renewal Arnaud Montebourg did recently in an interview with Le Monde's David Revault d'Allonnes, Cédric Pietralunga and Thomas Wieder

"Je n'ai pas une mentalité de déserteur"

Que vous inspire … l'affaire Depardieu ?

Tous les jours, nous nous battons pour inculquer à nos enfants les vertus du patriotisme. Je lui demande donc de rester dans la communauté patriotique de la France et de revenir chez nous. Je le dis avec grand respect pour ce qu'il est, pour son art et son oeuvre.
That's right — "every day," leftists the world over "fight to teach our children the virtues of patriotism." Patriotism — and "the patriotic community" — meaning, from the left's point of view, the duty to cough up whatever taxes the politicians have decided to put on our backs (often, in order to correct the previous lot of fiscally irresponsible policy decisions they made)…

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fruits of Spring

Serguei on the revolution in Egypt:

• Is that the fruit our Spring has wrought?!

Monday, December 17, 2012

I Was Greeted in Guantánamo Bay by Fidel Castro

Following his short stay on the eastern tip of Cuba, the International Herald Tribune cartoonist Patrick Chappatte brings back a two-page comic entitled One Night in Guantanamo.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Asking a socialist to embrace austerity is like asking a prostitute to embrace chastity: it’s simply not part of the business model

Three reactions to The Time-Bomb at the Heart of Europe (A Special Report on France) in The Economist:
The French malaise

SIR – I read your special report on France and found it to be faultless (November 17th). A lot of commentators agree with me on this side of the Channel. I have led companies in India, Ireland, France and Switzerland. Nowhere is it more complicated or frustrating than in France. This is not only because of the high cost of labour imposed by the welfare system; it is mainly because of the time and energy spent in dealing with unions and their numerous committees and representatives. But at least I respect the unions. The bigger problem is with legislators and the political cowardice that results in the accumulated laws that makes the code du travail so monstrous.

An example of political nonsense in French business is the plan for a new airport near Nantes. Nothing justifies this airport, which will fail to attract traffic. It is a white elephant on which public money will be spent just so that the government and its regional allies can save face, and in the middle of a financial crisis. London’s airports are two to three times more productive than the big Paris airports thanks to excellent flight controllers who don’t go on strike all the time.

  The definitive lesson in French management seems to be:
“That’s fine in practice. But it will never work in theory.”
Jacques Bankir

SIR – France lives in perfect isolation and in a state of denial. No wonder that your report was welcomed here with an attempt to shoot the messenger. Entrepreneurs are treated as the enemy, not as people who create wealth. This government is chasing the wealthy out of the country. The problem is on both the right and the left. The Socialists laughed off your report, the UMP focused on their divisive leadership election, and the National Front, well they probably didn’t read it at all.
Paul Vermeulen
St Didier au Mont d’Or, France  

SIR – Well done: a kick in the pants is often a good motivator, though I have no illusions after living here for 25 years that much will change. Asking a socialist to embrace austerity and labour-market reforms is like asking a prostitute to embrace chastity: it’s simply not part of the business model.
Theo Vermaelen
Fontainebleau, France
Welcome, Instapundit readers and un grand merci pour Monsieur Reynolds

"I'm a Free Man, Sir!" Offended by Taxes and Government Insults, Depardieu Goes a Step Further and Returns His French Passport

Following Gérard Depardieu's decision to leave France to escape punitive taxes, the (now ex-) French star was criticized publicly by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who called his exodus "pathetic" (following a socialist MP's call for French tax exiles to be stripped of their French nationality who has since called Depardieu an "egotist").

In retribution, reports Le Monde, and to show that he doesn't give a damn, the offended (now ex-) French actor has gone a step further and returned his passport, saying that he is "a free man" and that after paying 145 million euros in taxes over 45 years, he is fed up with having to bear a tax rate of 85%.

La polémique entre Gérard Depardieu et le gouvernement prend un nouveau tour, dimanche 16 décembre, avec la publication d'une lettre de l'acteur dans Le Journal du dimanche s'adressant à Jean-Marc Ayrault.

"Minable, vous avez dit "minable" ? Comme c'est minable !", commence la missive, reprenant les termes du premier ministre qui avait qualifié de la sorte le départ de Gérard Depardieu pour la ville de Néchin en Belgique, pour des raisons essentiellement fiscales (la ville est connue pour abriter de riches expatriés).

Gérard Depardieu, s'estimant "injurié" après les nombreuses critiques dont il a fait l'objet, réplique à Jean-Marc Ayrault en annonçant : "je vous rends mon passeport et ma Sécurité sociale dont je ne me suis jamais servi. Nous n'avons plus la même patrie, je suis un vrai Européen, un citoyen du monde, comme mon père me l'a toujours inculqué". 

"Je ne demande pas à être approuvé, je pourrais au moins être respecté ! Tous ceux qui ont quitté la France n'ont pas été injuriés comme je le suis", continue l'acteur dans sa lettre. Il rappelle avoir "toujours payé (ses) taxes et impôts" et commencé à travailler en France "à 14 ans comme imprimeur, comme manutentionnaire puis comme artiste dramatique".

"Je pars après avoir payé en 2012 85 % d'impôt sur mes revenus. (...) Qui êtes-vous pour me juger ainsi, je vous le demande Monsieur Ayrault, premier ministre de Monsieur Hollande, je vous le demande, qui êtes-vous ? Je n'ai jamais tué personne, je ne pense pas avoir démérité, j'ai payé 145 millions d'euros d'impôts en 45 ans, je fais travailler 80 personnes (...) Je ne suis ni à plaindre ni à vanter, mais je refuse le mot "minable", insiste-t-il.

"Malgré mes excès, mon appétit et mon amour de la vie, je suis un être libre, Monsieur, et je vais rester poli", conclut le texte.

L'annonce de son expatriation en Belgique avait fortement agacé à gauche, le député PS du Cher, Yann Galut, ayant notamment évoqué dans ce cadre la possibilité d'une loi pour déchoir les exilés fiscaux de la nationalité française. Dimanche, Yann Galut a qualifié l'acteur de "profondément égoïste", en réaction à cette lettre ouverte.
Update: Asking a socialist to embrace austerity is like asking a prostitute to embrace chastity

And bienvenue aux readers d'Instapundit

Gérard Depardieu as Obélix without the Gaul's moustache in the company of an extra playing a viking during the filming of Astérix et Obélix: Au service de sa Majesté

Saturday, December 15, 2012

What Is to Blame for the Connecticut Shooting? Does the Blame Lie with the Right to Bear Arms Or Can It Be Found Elsewhere?

In the 18th century — the century at the end of which the Second Amendment was being passed in the newly-born United States — the biggest problem for the majority of the world's population was not the right to keep and bear arms.

It was the lack of the right to keep and bear arms.

In the 19th century, likewise, the greatest problem for most people on this planet was not the absence of gun control.

It was the presence of gun control.

In the 20th century, most people did not suffer from the right to keep and bear arms.

They suffered from the lack of the right to keep and bear arms.

As can be attested by the victims (assuming they could talk) of the likes of Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Milosevic, along with the Hutus… As an aside, one of the first measures taken by each of the aforementioned (ahem) leaders after coming to power — for the good of the people, needless to say — was to impose or to tighten arms control.

And it is no different today.

Look at Saddam's Iraq, at Khadaffi's Libya, at the Assads' Syria…

(Would not the average Iraqi citizen, the average Libyan citizen, the average Syrian citizen over the past 30 to 40 years have been better off with the right to keep and bear arms?)

1. Has Anything Changed and, If So, What Is That Something?

Nothing has changed.

Or has it?

There does seem to have been one major change, at least in the West — has there not?

Let's go back into history again…

What do we see? Or rather… what do we fail to see?

Few, if any, school shootings in the 18th century — certainly not in the land of the Second Amendment.
(I originally wrote "no shootings whatsoever", but since I cannot be 100% positive — in view of the fact that it's hard to prove a negative — I changed the wording…)

Few, if any, school shootings in the 19th century.

Few, if any, school shootings in first half of the 20th century.

In arguing on French TV for Europe-like arms control in the United States, a guest on the iTélé news show made a point of enumerating "all" the shootings that have occurred in America — among them, the 1966 University of Texas sniper shooting, the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, the 2007 Virginia Tech slaughter, the 2011 Arizona shooting spree, and the 2012 Colorado movie theater killings. [This post has been slightly updated in the wake of the 2014 Santa Barbara massacre.]

Now — in the wake of the 2012 Connecticut elementary school massacre — she erupted:
What is wrong with Americans?! When are they finally going to come to their senses and impose gun control?! When will the NRA finally be silenced?! When will ordinary Americans, not least ordinary members of the Republican Party, stand up to the GOP leadership and demand that gun possession be banished, or at least, curtailed — and that, sharply?!

But there is a better question to be asked:
between the past and the present, what is the difference that we see?

Why no examples from the 1950s and from prior decades and centuries?

The deadliest gun rampages started in the 1960s and 1970…


I wonder what happened, or started to happen, in the 1960s and 1970s…

Oh — that's right: the left's youth revolution with the "victory" of more and more of the "modern" ideas of the progressives…

Now let's see — what did, and what do, these entail?

Well, among other things, the triumph of the ideas of compassion, of tolerance, of understanding…

Of empathy for all kinds of groups, not least the mentally ill — who turn out to be nothing more than merely misunderstood and who therefore deserve freedom from straitjackets

And the ensuing political correctness demanded the dismantling of mental institutions or the limiting of their use and refraining from confining mental cases (who of course turn out not to be mental cases) thereto. ("Guffaw! You want to keep insane asylums open?! How can you be so reactionary, so backwards?! It's everybody else who should be in a nuthouse! Snort!")

We should not judge these people, we can not judge these people; with some compassion and understanding, if only we are willing to make an effort, we can allow such people to live amongst us.

Rather than the judgments we pass on them, which show our cluelessness and — our hatred… (Maybe we — us "normal" people — are the mental cases! And maybe we need to be institutionalized!)

Mental cases are even given hero status in the left's narratives (winning several Oscars from Hollywood in the process) — as indeed are all the usual members of the left's victimhood brigade (women, gays, blacks, Indians, primitive peoples living close to nature, etc etc etc).

From Forrest Gump to John Coffey via Raymond Babbitt, these messiah-like beings turn out to be (far) more loving than us regular people, superior souls who touch everybody they meet, leading to miracles by helping "normal" (blinded) people to become better human beings and fulfill their destinies, if these saints do not healing said mortals outright, physically or otherwise.

In other words, what artists, and leftists, are basically helping to "prove", over and over again, is that the average American, the average citizen, the average human being (who is unlike themselves) is a clueless and/or bigoted moron (someone obviously in need of some sort of betterment treatment).

As with everything else the Left touches, slowly, one brick at a time, common sense is overturned, and normal, regular law-abiding, citizens are demonized and made to be those who obviously ought to be the true outcasts of society (among other things, these bigoted oafs obviously ought to be without weapons or the rights thereto).

2. What, for Ideological Reasons, the Left Ignores

But back to the massacres of the past half century:

Unless I am mistaken, there was not a single occasion of a shootist over the past 50 years, whether underage kids or grown-up adults, who did not previously show warning signs — if only the fact that they were described as "remote" — warning signs that were deliberately and repeatedly ignored, by family and friends as well as by professionals and people in authority; and that, for fear of the left's PC police.

(This is true even in the military; think only of the warning signs concerning Major Nidal Hassan, universally and persistently ignored, prior to the Islamist's 2009 Fort Hood massacre.)

Indeed, writes Dr Keith Ablow, in Adam Lanza's case, there is every probability that he expressed very concerning thoughts or feelings to more than one person before Friday.

After a shooting spree, as William S. Burroughs once said, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it and who, (not at all) incidentally, would never do anything remotely like it.

Of course, contrary to what the iTélé guest said or implied, the presence of guns alone does not ensure that massacres such as that in Sandy Hook will become more and more common or simply commonplace.

Indeed, had an armed American — had the average armed American — been present at the school or at the university, he (or she) would have used his (or her) weapon to start firing back at Adam Lanza or Elliot Rodger, and either hit the gunman or forced him to take cover, preventing him from continuing his deadly spree. (Could an armed teacher or an armed firefighter from the fire station next door not have intervened much earlier?) Besides writing (in The Atlantic) that "We must find a way to make it more difficult for the non-adjudicated mentally ill to come into possession of weapons,"Jeffrey Goldberg points out that
Mass shootings take many lives in part because no one is firing back at the shooters. The shooters in recent massacres have had many minutes to complete their evil work, while their victims cower under desks or in closets. One response to the tragic reality that we are a gun-saturated country is to understand that law-abiding, well-trained, non-criminal, wholly sane citizens who are screened by the government have a role to play in their own self-defense, and in the defense of others … it seems fairly obvious that there was no one at or near the school who could have tried to fight back.
(Goldberg develops this issue in a separate, longer article, replete with examples of armed citizens putting a stop to killing sprees: "in other cases, massacres were stopped early by the intervention of armed civilians, or off-duty or retired police officers who happened to be nearby.")

Indeed, what the news services rarely tell you — because the statistics, deliberately or otherwise, are simplified or skewered — is that the gun-free zones, whether a nation like Britain, a state like New Jersey, a city like Chicago, or a campus or a school like Sandy Hook Elementary, are oftenest (if only by comparison) the deadliest ones. Indeed, adds Glenn Reynolds,
One of the interesting characteristics of mass shootings is that they generally occur in places where firearms are banned: malls, schools, etc.
For instance, the murder capital of America turns out also to be… the capital proper of America. When foreigners hear that unpalatable fact about Washington, they often shake their heads: How scandalous! Shouldn't Americans at least make their own capital secure?! What they do not understand is that it is precisely — precisely — because Washington (already) has the most draconian gun laws in the nation — and because its law-abiding citizens therefore have no weapons, i.e., no means of defending themselves — that (law-breaking) criminals (scofflaws, they were referred to under Prohibition), who also read the newspapers, choose DC as their place of predilection.

So, as the Blogfather notes on Instapundit, Gun-free zones provide a false sense of security, and as Dr Keith Ablow adds, they do not therefore provide a solution. Adds the Tennessee law professor, it is "an insult to honest people":
Gun-free zones are premised on a lie: that murderers will follow rules, and that [ordinary people with permits to carry guns] are a greater danger to those around them than crazed killers.
(Incidentally, I am wondering whether the gun laws in Connecticut, although far from the strictest in the nation, similarly seem to have been tweaked, if not broken, by the 20-year-old gunman ("It is unlawful to sell or permanently transfer a handgun to any person who is forbidden to possess a handgun, or to a person under 21"). Indeed, if Drew Zahn is to be believed, Adam Lanza broke "a half-dozen laws in his crime," including "at least three" of Connecticut's gun-control laws. "Of course, these laws were violated because Lanza did not own any of the firearms in question, but rather stole them, and he clearly had no regard for the law in committing his crime.")

3. And What If the U.S. Were to Emulate Europe?

Some readers, particularly on the East Coast and in Europe (and wholly lacking in racism, naturally), may protest that the modern-day examples given (Iraq, Libya, Syria, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, etc) concern Arabs and Africans and so on, and not people in the West, a civilized place where gun control should be a given.

Some of them would hope that, on the subject matter of gun control and others (health care etc), Barack Obama would bypass Congress and simply get some laws passed by diktat. As Harry Belafonte said (echoing words by Woody Allen) — i.e., some of the above-mentioned Hollywood artists — the "only thing left for Barack Obama to do is to work like a third world dictator and just put all [his GOP opponents] in jail."

Adds Michael Moore, The NRA hates freedom and obviously ought to be outlawed, meaning that, there too presumably, jail time is appropriate for any of its proponents who do not give in (and who do not give in their weapons).

As I've written before, that's a whole hell of a lot of people that need to go through jail or, failing that, some sort of reeducation camps.

In any case, the people, from Europe or elsewhere, suggesting that mass killings inspired by the state are no longer operative in the modern West seem to be forgetting where Dolfi, Uncle Joe, and Slobodan hailed from.

Don't you think, for instance, that the French citizens of Oradour-sur-Glane (civilians all, naturally) would have been grateful to have had the right to keep and bear arms (and the concurrent weapons training), along with the concurrent weapons that that right entails?

Before we close this post, let us give a look at the old "violent nature of America" legend.

Take a good look at the entire globe, as well as the history of the globe, and the "violent nature" of America, as well as the "America's love affair with guns", turns out to be pretty much artificial.

Just like the least racist place in the world seems to be America, one has to wonder if one of the least violent places in the world does not seem to be America as well…

Because of course there is violence in many other places, such as Great Britain and France. And how about neighboring Mexico? While we decry "America's love affair with guns", Mexico is rent with violence (and was so far before the recent development of the narco-trafficking problem). Indeed, while America's Wild West is decried for bloodshed (in fact, fewer people were killed in the West between the Civil War and the year 1900 than in one single year in New York City), people, American, Mexican, or other, downplay the innumerable 19th-century deaths in Mexico, even finding such things as the country's executions romantic (ah, señoritas, sombreros, Mariachi bands, and firing squads). Mexicans routinely put whole garrisons of captured rebels to death — not just Anglos, famously, at the Alamo and Goliad but fellow Hispanics in places like Zacatecas as well — or, when they were in a more generous mood, "only" shot one prisoner at random out of every 10.

To return to the present, it is easy for leftists, American or foreign, like the iTélé guest, to tout the success of the gun control laws in the rest of the Western world when you (or they) ignore the 1996 massacre of 16 children at a Scottish primary school; the 2000 killing of eight kids in Japan; the 2002 deaths of eight people in Nanterre, France; the 2002 killing of 16 kids in Erfurt, Germany; the 2007 shootings to death of eight people in Tuusula, Finland; the killing of 10 people at a Finnish university less than a year later; the 2009 killing of 15 people in Winnenden, Germany; and, needless to say, Anders Breivik's 2011 mass murder of 77 Norwegians, most of them teenagers.

(Is it unrealistic to wonder whether the tolls would have been lower had a few of the adults in each place — as well as at Paris's Bataclan in 2015 — carried a weapon and tried to shoot back at the respective killers?)

But, of course, t'is easier to condemn gun violence in America when you ignore, or downplay, gun violence in your own country, including not giving a second thought to the widespread presence of Kalashnikovs.

What criticism regarding "America's love affair with guns" amounts to is that gun violence involving uncontrollable private citizens is ghastly — while that initiated by the state, and by authorities, somehow seems much less of a big deal. ("Sure it's horrible that the communists killed millions of people, but, y'know… at least they had good intentions!") That indeed turns out to be the only way to support the United Nations system, where diplomats and the media alike ignore or downplay violence ignited by governments (unless they're Western), while focusing on violence against a government by the West (Bush's outrageous war against Saddam Hussein).

Update: Instapundit links a must-read article from National Review's John Fund:
A few things you won’t hear about from the saturation coverage of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre:
Mass shootings are no more common than they have been in past decades, despite the impression given by the media.
In fact, the high point for mass killings in the U.S. was 1929, according to criminologist Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections.
Incidents of mass murder in the U.S. declined from 42 in the 1990s to 26 in the first decade of this century.
The chances of being killed in a mass shooting are about what they are for being struck by lightning.
Until the Newtown horror, the three worst K–12 school shootings ever had taken place in either Britain or Germany.  
… We would be better off debating two taboo subjects — the laws that make it difficult to control people with mental illness and the growing body of evidence that “gun-free” zones, which ban the carrying of firearms by law-abiding individuals, don’t work.
… Gun-free zones have been the most popular response to previous mass killings. But many law-enforcement officials say they are actually counterproductive. “Guns are already banned in schools. That is why the shootings happen in schools. A school is a ‘helpless-victim zone,’” says Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff. “Preventing any adult at a school from having access to a firearm eliminates any chance the killer can be stopped in time to prevent a rampage,” Jim Kouri, the public-information officer of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, told me earlier this year at the time of the Aurora, Colo., Batman-movie shooting. Indeed, there have been many instances — from the high-school shooting by Luke Woodham in Mississippi, to the New Life Church shooting in Colorado Springs, Colo. — where a killer has been stopped after someone got a gun from a parked car or elsewhere and confronted the shooter.
Economists John Lott and William Landes conducted a groundbreaking study in 1999, and found that a common theme of mass shootings is that they occur in places where guns are banned and killers know everyone will be unarmed, such as shopping malls and schools.
… Lott offers a final damning statistic: “With just one single exception, the attack on congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011, every public shooting since at least 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns.”

 Update 2 — by Ann Coulter:
All these shootings are united by one clear thread: They all were committed by visibly crazy people, known to be nuts but not institutionalized.

Mental illness was blindingly clear in the cases of Seung-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech), Maj. Nidal Hasan (Fort Hood), Jared Loughner (Arizona shopping mall), James Holmes (Colorado movie theater), and a dozen other mass shootings in the past few decades.

But in every instance, Democrats’ response was: Let’s ban high-capacity magazines! Let’s limit private gun sales! Let’s publish the names of everyone who owns a registered gun!

Mass shootings don’t correlate with any of these things. They correlate with not locking up crazy people. We’re not worried about school kids being systematically gunned down by angry husbands, gang members or antique gun collectors. We’re worried about a psychotic showing up in a public place and shooting everyone in sight.
 … In every one of these mass shootings, there was someone in a position to say before the attack, “Trust me, this person is a psycho.” Try getting Jared Loughner or James Holmes through any mental illness hearing in which they’re required to speak. (Though both might end up being offered their own shows on MSNBC.) 
If someone was brought back from the 1950s to today, he’d tell us: “I couldn’t help but notice that all the people who committed mass shootings were batsh*t crazy. Why were they not locked up or forced to take medication?”
We’d have to say, “Because some people — we call them ‘liberals’ — get a warm feeling of self-righteousness by defending the right of the deranged to crap in a shoebox, carefully label it and put it in a closet.” 
Democrats absolutely will not address the one thing that was screaming out from all of the mass shootings: a crazy person committing the crime. We can’t medicate them and we can’t lock them up because the ACLU has handcuffed society’s ability to deal rationally with the mentally disturbed.
Not only will Democrats refuse to address the problem of the mentally ill on their own, but they will fight to the last ditch to protect any crazy person’s right not to take his medication.
At some point in the 1980s, not being “judgmental” became the highest form of virtue — although the left is plenty judgmental about things they don’t like, such as white males, smokers, Christianity, Wal-Mart, Fox News, talk radio and NASCAR.
Liberals are so determined not to stigmatize anybody that their solution is always to make all of society suffer instead:
– To avoid hurting Muslims’ feelings, everyone has to strip to his underwear at the airport.
– So no one feels excluded, we’re not allowed to say “Merry Christmas!”
– To avoid singling out gays, the government and media lied to Americans for a decade about the coming explosion of heterosexual AIDS. (We’re still waiting.)
– To stop people from noticing patterns, the media bend over backward to avoid telling us the race of dangerous criminals on the loose.
– To prevent hurt feelings, everybody gets an “A.”
– And to avoid “stigmatizing” the mentally ill, society has to live with the occasional mass murder.
These anti-stigmatization rules don’t even help the people they claim to be protecting. But defending ridiculous rules that ruin things for everyone else makes liberals feel heroic.
Update 3: Everytown for Gun Safety's list was compiled to give the public an exaggerated impression of how many school shootings have taken place. Notes Glenn Reynolds:
Update 4: In 2015 alone, France suffered more casualties from gun violence than the U.S. has suffered during Obama's entire presidency

Update 5: a brief outtake from this post was published three years later in the New York Times in response to their front-page editorial on the "Gun Epidemic"

Update 6: Re the BBC's statistics behind gun violence —
Mass shootings in the U.S. have fallen so much in the past century
that the political left has had to redefine what a mass shooting is