Saturday, December 05, 2015

Thank God

for the 22nd Amendment

In 2015 alone, France suffered more casualties from gun violence than the U.S. has suffered during Obama's entire presidency

What we basically get — from sources as diverse as The Washington Post (The Volokh Conspiracy's David Kopel), as The Wall Street Journal (Joe Palazzolo and Alexis Flynn on the forthcoming book, “Mass Shootings: Media, Myths, and Realities), as PolitiFact (Keely Herring and Louis Jacobson), and as Fox News and IBD (the same piece by John R. Lott) — is the shooting down of Barack Obama's wishful thinking regarding "these mass shootings", i.e., that this type of thing "just doesn’t happen in other countries.”

This statement, in Paris of all places (!), only two or three weeks after Islamist killers murdered 130 people over the course of not much more than a couple of hours. (No wonder French called him un connard et un trouduc (an a**hole); to which I can do little more than make the, rather unhelpful, remark, Congratulations Europeans! You got the U.S. president that you had been pining for!)

As I wrote in my in-depth examination of the gun control issue [slightly redacted],
it is easy for leftists, American as well as foreign, to tout the success of the gun control laws in the rest of the western world and to say that "this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries” when you 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 fatal shootings 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 lesser had a few of the adults in each place — as well as in Paris's Bataclan a couple of weeks ago — carried a weapon and tried to shoot back at the respective killers?

(Update: a slightly revised version of the above argument was published in the New York Times.)

Listen some more to John R. Lott:
(John R. Lott, Jr. is a columnist for He is an economist and was formerly chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission. Lott is also a leading expert on guns and op-eds on that issue are done in conjunction with the Crime Prevention Research Center. He is the author of eight books including "More Guns, Less Crime." His latest book is "Dumbing Down the Courts: How Politics Keeps the Smartest Judges Off the Bench" Bascom Hill Publishing Group (September 17, 2013). Follow him on Twitter@johnrlottjr.)
In just 2015, France suffered more casualties – killings and injuries – from mass public shootings than the U.S. has suffered during Obama’s entire presidency (508 to 424). This number includes the San Bernandino massacre on Wednesday.

Obama also overlooks Norway, where Anders Behring Breivik used a gun to kill 67 people and wound 110 others. Still others were killed by bombs that Breivik detonated.  Of the four worst K-12 school shootings, three have occurred in Europe. Germany had two of these — one in 2002 at Erfut and another in 2009 at Winnenden, with a total death toll of 34.

Obama isn’t correct even if he meant the frequency of fatalities or attacks. Many European countries actually have higher rates of death from public shootings that resulted in four or more murders. It’s simply a matter of adjusting for America’s much larger population.

 … In terms of the frequency of attacks, the United States ranks ninth, with 0.09 attacks per million people.  Macedonia, Serbia, Switzerland, Norway, Slovakia, Finland, Belgium, and the Czech Republic all had higher rates.

 … It takes a lot of time and effort to find all the cases, but if you get all the attacks in the U.S. and miss those in other countries, it makes the U.S. look a lot worse.

 … The president’s statement was also limited in another sense.  He was referring only to shootings in his statement, but bombs are frequently used elsewhere in the world.

The Boston Marathon bombing was a rare exception these days in the United States. But countries such as Russia have frequently suffered bombings. Indeed, since 2009, the nation has seen 1.31 deaths per million from bombings that caused four or more fatalities.

 … Obama keeps using these attacks to advocate requiring background checks on private transfers of guns. Such a requirement, however, already exists in France and almost all of Europe.

The background checks failed. So too did France and Belgium's complete bans on the weapons used in those attacks. The terrorists who attacked those countries still got the weapons that they wanted.

 … There is another common factor between mass public shootings.  Virtually all of the attacks in America and Europe are taking place where general citizens can’t carry guns for protection. At some point, it has to become apparent to gun control advocates that gun-free zones only protect the killers.
But as The Volokh Conspiracy's David Kopel points out in the Washington Post,
Obama explained to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in March 2012, “After my election I have more flexibility.” This was an accurate prediction, and not just about foreign relations. After winning reelection in November 2012, President Obama in December 2012 used the Newtown, Conn., murders as the basis to make gun control the primary focus of his political efforts through April 2013. He has promised that gun control will be his top priority during his final year in office. When commenting on mass murders in the United States, President Obama has repeatedly claimed that such crimes do not occur in other countries.
Gun Free Zone points out (obrigado per Sarah Hoyt) that the way the élitish liberals look at this issue, as with all others, is as human beings as part of a herd:
As Mark Twain famously wrote:  “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”  I don’t know if the “shoot and kill about 30 U.S. citizens every day” statement is accurate, but the way [Brett Arends] approaches it is not.  Assuming the number is accurate, those shootings are not evenly distributed across all law abiding gun owners.  It’s not as though 30 random law abiding gun owners a day decide to kill someone.  The overwhelming majority of shootings are concentrated in certain areas and socioeconomic groups (criminals be committing crimes).  This video breaks the numbers down much better than I can do a write up here.  The point is, the vast majority of law abiding gun owners will never shoot anybody, ever.

Friday, December 04, 2015

In the U.S. prosecutors win virtually all of their cases, nearly all of them without a trial

Conrad Black responds to an article in The Economist:
You included me in a gallery of apparently larcenous peers in Britain’s House of Lords (“The rotters’ club”, August 1st). The article’s graphic suggests that America’s criminal-justice system accords an accused what a citizen of Britain would consider due process. It does not. In the United States prosecutors win virtually all of their cases, nearly all of them without a trial, so severe is the distortion of the plea-bargain system in which inculpatory testimony is extorted from witnesses in exchange for immunity, including from charges of perjury.

I also believe I am ineligible for membership of your rotters’ club, because every count against me was abandoned, rejected by jurors, or vacated by America’s Supreme Court. Two spurious counts were self-servingly retrieved by a lower court that the Supreme Court had criticised and which had sent the two charges back to the lower court to assess its errors. The whole prosecution was nonsense and I achieved by far the largest libel settlement in Canadian history from my original accusers.

I would be happy to have the question of whether I am a rotter determined in a cursory review by an impartial ethics committee of Their Lordships’ House.
Blast from the Past: Conrad Black Gives Us a Lesson on How a Conservative Should Interact with the MSM

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Nej Tak: A Clear No Vote in Denmark's Referendum on Further EU Integration

No thanks: As counting continues in Denmark, results of the nation-wide referendum show a clear Nej (No) towards further EU integration, reports Berlingske (link in Danish). At this time, the Ja to Nej vote stands at about 47 to 53%.

UPDATE: Denmark's most libertarian-leaning party, Liberal Alliance (outside of the United States, of course, "liberal" has retained its original meaning), claims to have been instrumental in defeating the government's initiative.

The BBC's Gavin Lee notes that the
vote comes three weeks after the deadly attacks in Paris [and was] seen as a test of whether the Danes will accept or reject greater integration within a 28-member bloc that is being tested more than ever by the migrant crisis
This has led a German newspaper to despair that the Danes are moving the country towards becoming a Hungary Light.

Incidentally, in Denmark as in the rest of the Western world (and indeed the world at large), you need to show some form of ID — if only a voter's registration (sent to your home) accompanied by a correct answer to a query regarding your date of birth (below is the picture of a French equivalent) — before you are allowed to vote.

From the Archives: On Voting Fraud:
…/… The last I heard, one needs some sort of poll card to cast a ballot in Britain, as indeed one does in every other democracy on this planet. Due to the Democrats' hysterical race-baiting, we have been subjected to the (absurd) spectacle of being the only country where having this (common-sense) requirement can only be viewed as vile, outrageous prejudice. Well, if it is racist to require voter ID in America, then Britain and every other democracy on the planet (including, of course, in Africa) can only qualify as racist as well …/…

By laying the Crusades at the feet of Christianity, Obama was unwittingly laying ISIL's atrocities at Islam’s feet—at least rhetorically

In Planned Parenthood and those villainous Christians, Jonah Goldberg asks If we can't condemn Islam for Muslim terrorists, why do we condemn Christians? (Instapundit's answer? "Because it’s politically useful, of course.")
We’ve spent years hearing how associating Islam with terrorism is outrageous and bigoted. President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Hillary Clinton have all made the case that Islamic terrorism has “nothing whatsoever” — Clinton’s words — to do with Islam. President Obama insists the Islamic State “is not Islamic.”

Even phrases such as “Muslim terrorism” are forbidden because they imply that Islam itself has something to do with terrorism. Better to talk about “death cults,” “violent extremism” and criminals. And if you have to mention religion, make sure you adorn the word with lots of specific adjectives such as “radical” and “extremist,” or deploy euphemisms such as “jihadist.”

Whether any of that is convincing is a topic for another time. Liberals insist they believe it to be true, and at least for argument’s sake, I’m happy to take them at their word.

So where is the condemnation of the phrase “Christian terrorism” (or, for that matter, “white terrorism”)? By all means, Christian leaders should denounce violent attacks on Planned Parenthood. But shouldn’t progressive leaders condemn any effort to tie Christianity with terrorism?

Apparently not. It seems taking sides against Christianity is the progressive thing to do.

In a famous speech at the National Prayer Breakfast this year, President Obama lectured Christian clergy not to get on their “high horse” about the atrocities committed by ISIL, given that Christians committed (allegedly) similar atrocities during the Crusades.

It’s difficult to catalog all the flaws with this comparison, but one problem stands above all of the rest. By laying the Crusades at the feet of Christianity, Obama was unwittingly laying ISIL's atrocities at Islam’s feet, at least rhetorically.

Consider that modern-day Council of Nicea, ABC’s The View. Joy Behar recently insisted concern over Muslim refugees was overblown. After all, Oklahoma City bomber "Timothy McVeigh was a Christian,” Behar said. “Just sayin’.”

Whoopi Goldberg (no relation) concurred. “There have been a lot of monster Christians,” she said. “Hitler was a Christian.”

Just for the record, Hitler detested Christianity, and McVeigh was an avowed agnostic who never cited Jesus as the inspiration for his crimes.

Personally, I’m opposed to all such forms of guilt by association, but it seems obvious to me that contemporary Christianity is not struggling with a Crusades problem, while Islam is certainly struggling with a jihad problem.
• Adolf Hitler in Religious Surroundings: Is There Really Evidence That the Führer Was a Christian?

• Worshipping Little Else But the Aryan Race, Hitler Abhorred the Christian Faith and Wanted to Replace Christmas with the Pagans' Yuletide

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Rhetoric doesn’t kill people—people kill people

CFP’s role in stirring [up Robert Dear's red-hot anger] was limited to peeling back the veil of secrecy that Planned Parenthood very much wanted to keep in place
says Benny Huang
“No more baby parts!” is what investigators say Robert Dear, the alleged Planned Parenthood spree killer, said after surrendering to police. It isn’t difficult to deduce his motives in shooting up a “women’s health clinic.” He was revolted by Planned Parenthood’s trade in baby parts—er, I mean fetal tissue—and he decided to pick up a gun to avenge the injustice.

Predictably, abortion supporters are using the incident to maximum political advantage. From now on, anyone who references Planned Parenthood’s lucrative side business in baby parts will be dismissed as a terrorist sympathizer. Planned Parenthood can also blame pro-lifers generally, and the Center for Medical Progress (CFP) specifically, for inspiring the shooting. Never mind the fact that CFP condemned the attack on its website, they still have blood on their hands.

The idea that Dear took his inspiration from this summer’s undercover CFP videos is unfair though not entirely untrue. I’ll depart here from a lot of pro-lifers and say that the videos are linked to the shooting, though not quite in the way that Planned Parenthood would have you believe. Robert Dear was likely driven into a fit of rage after seeing CFP-produced videos but it wasn’t the videos that angered him so much as their content. That’s a substantial distinction.

In any case, CFP cannot be held responsible for the actions of an unstable third party. Leftists, I believe, would understand this principle a little better if the shoe were on the other foot.

 … There is no doubt, however, that their rhetoric amplifies the vitriol against our military. These are people who cavalierly toss around terms such as “war criminal” and “genocide” until they become meaningless noise. They claim that the Bush-era War on Terror was in fact a religious crusade to kill or convert all Muslims.

 … But Code Pink and International A.N.S.W.E.R. don’t think that their rhetoric makes them responsible for terrorism against military recruiters. And they’re right. Blaming them would only let the guys who actually did it off the hook. Rhetoric doesn’t kill people—people kill people.

What about CBS News? Surely it put our soldiers at risk, if only because their program 60 Minutes II broke the Abu Ghraib prison scandal? No, CBS News isn’t culpable either. It isn’t the media’s job to collude in silence just because the story might make someone angry enough to go off the edge and kill someone. The same principle applies to the baby parts videos—CFP was only the messenger, and for that we should be grateful.

Robert Dear did indeed act from a red-hot anger, though CFP’s role in stirring it up was limited to peeling back the veil of secrecy that Planned Parenthood very much wanted to keep in place. Their role in Baby Parts-gate was identical that of 60 Minutes II in the Abu Ghraib scandal—namely, as the messenger.

Through the use of undercover videos, CFP exposed Planned Parenthood’s harvesting and selling of baby parts—eyes, liver, brains, and more. Perhaps you’ve heard that the videos were deceptively edited. Wrong. A study by Coalfire, a digital forensic analysis company, found that the videos were “authentic and show no evidence of manipulation.” Yes, all the videos were “edited”—just like nearly everything else seen on TV, because they are hours long and viewers generally like to see the highlight reel. Anyone who wants to see the uncut videos can find those on CFP’s website as well. …
Had you noticed how leftists have falsified the debate? If no one else has, Benny Huang points it out in stark terms:
 As the drip-drip-drip release of videos continued, the debate descended into abject silliness with Planned Parenthood defending its baby chop shops by falsely claiming that they operate on a strictly nonprofit basis. True to form, progressives implied that there is nothing morally suspect about killing children or divvying their organs. The real evil is profit. As long as no one gets rich off the deal they’re as pure as the driven snow.

Except Planned Parenthood did make a profit and anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar. One video features abortionist Mary Gatter haggling with prospective “buyers” over the price of organs. When Gatter is asked how much she would charge for “intact tissue,” she responds by saying, “Why don’t you start by telling me what you’re used to paying?” Odd. Why should that matter? If Planned Parenthood only wants to be reimbursed for expenses then it should have one non-negotiable price.

… Yet no one has gone to jail. There were meaningless congressional hearings of course, and a few states tried to turn off the spigots of cash to this reprehensible organization but no one at Planned Parenthood is wearing an orange jumpsuit. So Robert Dear decided to exercise some vigilante justice. That makes him a(n alleged) murderer and he will likely be convicted and jailed for the rest of his life, unlike the Planned Parenthood execs who have thus far been allowed to skate.

Mark my words—in the coming weeks there will be an intense media campaign to marginalize anyone who dares to mention the fact that Planned Parenthood sells baby parts. That’s wing-nutty terrorist talk! …

Monday, November 30, 2015

Oh, Lord, No! No More! Please! No More Hope'n'Change

Whether this is far from relevant or whether it bodes ill waits to be seen:

In Danish, the title of Jimmy Burns's Francis, Pope of Good Promise has been translated to Pave Frans - Forandring og håb, or, re-translated back to English: Pope Francis: Hope and Change (to be 100% accurate, Pope Francis: Change and Hope)!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Is Apple Losing It? With the Relinquishment of iPhoto, It Sure Seems to Be the Case

One of the worst "innovations" over the past years
was the decision to "improve" the Mac computer's iPhoto
I wrote on Instapundit in response to Don Norman and
Bruce Tognazzini's How Apple Is Giving Design A Bad Name,
indeed to have it replaced by an app called,
simply, Photos (to coincide with the iPhone's Photos
app, which actually had that straight-forward name
because it was/is really little more a simple straight-forward
description of results of the in-built camera).

iPhoto was already as near perfection as can be, and
making it "better" got rid of some of its best features.

• You used to be able to write captions for a batch of
photos at a time, from 2 photos to 20 to 200, if need be;
this feature is gone, and now you have (if indeed you have
the courage to go ahead with such onerous a task) to write
(or copy and paste) every caption one photo at a time.

• The above-mentioned caption used to be immediately
visible when you clicked on the photo, and appear right
next to it, along with the technical information on the
photo (lighting, lens aperture, etc…) and the (GPS) place
where it was taken;
now it is only visible when and if you press the
information command (CMD + I) and it appears in a
separate window, one that hovers over and therefore
sometimes hides part of the photo. (Nothing drastic,
I know, but, again, still something that hardly needed
"improvement" in the first place.)

• Apple used to have an iPhoto feature called Events, which
allowed people to put photos related to a certain (wait for
it)… event into the same file.  Gone (in order to make the
Mac computer compatible with the iPhone's photo app,
something that hardly seemed called for or necessary).
Events seems to be replaced by a feature that most of
us have no use whatsoever for, the ability to file photos
by days, weeks, months, and years.

(If you go on a trip from the middle of one week to the middle of the
next, for business or pleasure, you hardly want that vacation or business
trip in two files, along with photos in each from your home town before
and after the trip; you want them together, with the home photos in two
(before and after) separate files (or, if you so wish, in one separate file).)

So what Apple has done is get rid of options.

But the greatest option that Apple got rid of was iPhotos itself.
Once you have upgraded to the first non-Feline operating system (OS),
i.e., to the first California landmark (as I learned to my great displeasure
when I upgraded from Mountain Lion to Mavericks),
the option to use iPhoto vanishes. If a user likes Photos, fine.
But why should he not be able to retain iPhotos if he prefers that?!
In other words, why can't, why couldn't, Apple retain both?!