A couple of tidbits to accompany some warming totty on this frigid Midwestern Friday; first: Boulder (CO) Considers Banishing People Who “Make Trouble.” Excerpt:
Taking inspiration from Shakespeare, a Boulder city councilman has suggested “banishing” chronic scofflaws creating a nuisance in parks around the city’s municipal buildings.
Councilman Macon Cowles said in an email to his colleagues that the idea came to him while “my mind wandered” and he wondered what The Bard had to say about crime and social misbehavior.
Quoting extensively from Romeo and Juliet, Cowles makes the argument that banishing people from Boulder for the same amount of time they might be incarcerated for minor crimes would not only save taxpayers money, but might be more effective at preventing future crimes.
“It seems a double hit that citizens should have to endure repeated acts of criminal behavior that are peculiarly offenses against the people who live here, and then, adding a financial penalty to the insult that has been afflicted, to pay the high expense of incarceration,” he wrote.
In Colorado, for at least the last 25 years that yr. obdt. has resided in that state, Boulder is commonly referred to as “seven square miles surrounded by reality.” (Also “the People’s Republik of Boulder,” for different reasons.) This is a good example of Boulder’s own particular style of wonderful nuttiness; the city never ceases to amuse.
But there’s a darker side to the Councilman’s thinking. Consider it; Councilman Cowles isn’t terribly worried about solving the problem of society’s chronic misbehaviors; he’s just concerned with exporting them. It’s the NIMBY attitude taken to an illogical extreme.
Now, while we’re on the subject of nutbars: Iran: We’re Ready for ‘Decisive Battle’ with Israel, U.S. Excerpt:
In the latest in a series of warnings against the US, Iran’s chief of staff Hassan Firouzabadi warned the Islamic republic’s foes that Iran is prepared for a “decisive battle” if attacked.
“We are ready for the decisive battle with America and the Zionist regime (Israel),” Fars news agency quoted Firouzabadi as saying Wednesday.
“We do not have any hostility toward regional states, but if we are ever attacked from the American bases in the region we will strike that area back,” he said.
Let’s be honest; the only thing decisive about a battle between Iran on the one hand and the United States and Israel on the other would be the decisive speed in which the Iranians get their collective asses handed to them – in thin slices.
Even after two rounds of severe military draw-downs from our Cold War height, the United States still has a unilateral dominance on military power not seen on the planet since the collapse of the Roman Empire. Iran’s leaders are good at making bombastic pronouncements for the benefit of regime loyalists, but they aren’t complete imbeciles – the last thing they’ll do is to engage the U.S. head-on. They will continue in their role as the leading national sponsor of Islamic terror; they will continue developing nuclear weapons, and odds are better than even that they’ll use those nukes, somewhere, one way or another, at a time of their own choosing.
That’s the scenario that we should be preparing for.
Once in a while, we see a little good news: Suicide Bomb Instructor Accidentally Detonates, Kills 21 Students in Iraq. Heh heh heh. Excerpt:
BAGHDAD (AP) — Insurgents accidentally set off their own car bomb Monday at a training camp in an orchard in a Sunni area north of Baghdad, leaving 21 dead and some two dozen arrested, Iraqi officials said.
…A police officer said the militants were attending a lesson on making car bombs and explosive belts when a glitch set off one of the devices.
Army slang for these gomers used to be “not-so-smart bombs.” I guess these assholes were determined to live up to it.
One more; enjoy a Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. ad that was deemed… inappropriate for broadcast.
I’m suddenly hungry.
Let’s look at a few gun stories today – the first, from our own Colorado. GOP Attempts to Repeal Colorado Background Checks Law. Excerpt:
Colorado Republicans revived the most contentious debate of the last legislative session when they tried to repeal gun purchase background checks.
State Sen. George Rivera, the Republican who replaced Democrat Angela Giron when she was recalled from office because of her support of this and other new gun control laws, sponsored the bill.
Most of the testimony revolved around the question of whether or not the new law — which requires background checks not only for gun purchases at retail stores but also in private sales between individuals — will help reduce violent crime. A background check is also required if a gun is loaned to someone for more than 72 hours, such as for hunting, sport shooting or safekeeping.
What’s interesting about that article and the controversy around it is found in this line:
Opponents of the repeal pointed to 104 instances of potential gun buyers failing background checks during attempted private transactions since the law went into effect on July 1. The reasons ranged from previous convictions for homicide to sexual assault.
Ok, then; one hundred and four people have committed a Federal felony, in attempting to illegally purchase a firearm.
Where are the arrests? Where are the convictions? Why did the gang of Mensa dropouts we call the Colorado Legislature pass this law, which obviously nobody intends to enforce?
One of the more idiotic provisions of this piece of legislative stupidity is the requirement to undergo a background check if you borrow a firearm from a neighbor or friend, say for a hunting trip. This provision is utterly unenforceable and will be roundly ignored. Combine this with the total ignoring of people who fail the background checks, and we are left with one question: What the bloody hell was this law meant to actually accomplish?
While we’re on the subject of abject stupidity: School Officials Deeply Troubled Over Guns Appearing ON SIGNS BANNING GUNS. Excerpt:
Nolan stressed that she is very concerned with “safety and security” and concerned that, somehow, someone could wrongly interpret an image of a gun emblazoned with the universal sign for prohibiting something.
She said she would prefer “something more subtle.”
“You can’t look at this (sticker) and not think about Sandy Hook,” the principal added.
Let’s be honest: Principal Nolan is a hypersensitive nitwit.
One more, this one a piece of good news; the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the pro-sportsman SHARE Act. Blind hogs and acorns, as they say. Excerpt:
(The National Shooting Sports Foundation), along with a number of its partners, has been working closely with members of the House to ensure inclusion of a number of legislative priorities in the SHARE Act including provisions that will protect the use of traditional ammunition and fishing tackle by hunters and anglers, provide greater flexibility for states to utilize Pittman-Robertson funds to create and enhance public shooting ranges and facilitate greater access to Federal lands and waters for hunting, recreational fishing and shooting.
Of course, this legislation still has to get through the Senate in one form or another, and be approved by the President, who by all indications is no friend of the shooting sports. But, as mentioned earlier – blind hogs and acorns. We’ll see.
This just in from the always-worth-reading Dr. Victor Davis Hanson: A Beat-up, Exhausted, and Terrified Republican Establishment. Excerpt:
On almost every contemporary issue there is a populist, middle-class argument to be made against elite liberalism. Yet the Republican class in charge seems ossified in its inability to make a counter-argument for the middle class. Never has the liberal agenda been so vulnerable, a logical development when bad ideas have had five years to prove themselves as very bad ideas. When Obama is all done he will have taken high presidential popularity ratings, a supermajority in the Senate, and a large margin in the House and lost them all — if only the Republicans can make an adequate case that they represent the middle class, the Democrats only the very wealthy and the very dependent.
The thing is this: I’m not all that sure that the Republicans really do represent the middle class any more. I’m not sure anyone does. The Democrats sure as hell don’t; they represent an odd coalition ranging from radical environmentalists, the Occupy Wall Street nutbars, and the San Francisco latte socialists to labor-union activists and a few last old Truman blue-collar Democrats. The GOP struggles to gather in what someone a few years back called the “Sam’s Club” Republicans – the small business, entrepreneur folks, the people that drive real economic growth. But they aren’t doing a very good job of that, either.
A big part of the GOP’s problem is their failure to adjust to a generational shift in attitudes. The up-and-coming generation is open to the Republican’s low-tax, small government message, but is resistant to the party’s social wing, which insists on government interference into other aspects of people’s lives.
It’s a pretty problem, and one that neither party seems to be able to wrap their brains around. Whichever one does first – and the GOP seems to hold an edge on the growing libertarian population – will have a majority advantage for some time to come.
This is interesting. Not surprising, but interesting. Popular Anti-Fracking Study Discredited by Colorado Health Department. Relevant excerpts:
“It is difficult to draw conclusions from this study, due to its design and limitations,” Dr. Larry Wolk, CDPHE’s chief medical officer, said. “We appreciate continuing research about possible public health implications that may be associated with oil and gas operations in Colorado.
“With regard to this particular study, people should not rush to judgment.”
Why? Because the study didn’t distinguish between active wells and inactive wells. It also did not distinguish between vertical, horizontal, oil or natural gas wells.
“This makes it difficult to draw conclusions on the actual exposure people may have had,” Wolk said.
Further, the researchers never considered outside factors that may have resulted in birth defects, such as drinking or smoking.
“Without considering the effect of these personal risk factors, as well as the role of genetic factors, it is very difficult to draw conclusions from this study,” Wolk said.
The researchers noted in the study that they never bothered to check where the mother lived during conception or the first trimester. This is when most birth defects occur, so not knowing what was going on in the mother’s life at that time is a significant problem in determining whether fracking was to blame.
In other words, shoddy science. A case in point; the study mentioned noted a decrease in birth defect among women who live closer to wells, a seeming contradiction that should have raised some alarms on the study’s methodology. Why?
Because contradictions don’t exist. When a seeming contradiction is found in a study of this nature, one should check their premises; one or more of them will be wrong.
Here’s the crux of this issue; there can be no absolute right or wrong answer in a policy issue of this nature. There can only be tradeoffs. There is a level of mess we will accept in order to increase our energy independence and lower the cost of energy. Worried about our chronically high unemployment rate? Stagnant tax revenues? Runaway Federal debt? Explosion of numbers on welfare? The answer is economic growth, and cheap energy is a supercharger for economic growth.
And no matter what side of any given issue you might take, relying on shoddy, self-contradictory science makes for a shoddy, self-contradictory argument.
Let’s have a reminder of summer, to take our minds off all of this global warming.
Let’s start with this, an idea I’ve given some thought to myself over the years: Get The State Out of Marriage. Relevant excerpt:
In Oklahoma this past Friday, State Representative Mike Turner boldly challenged, “whether marriage needs to be regulated by the state at all.” He floated a bill that would remove the state’s role of licensing matrimony. This was in response to a recent court order that strikes down Oklahoma’s definition of marriage as traditional one-man-one-woman.
Think about that for a moment. Take your time, I’ll wait right here.
Ready? Let’s move on.
Rather than defend the status quo, I’ll take a different tack; what good reasons are there for government to be involved in marriage? I can think of one; marriage has a legal component to it, in that it is a contract between competent, capable adults. (Normally a man and a woman, but that perception is somewhat in flux at the moment.) Now, contracts are written and agreed to between competent parties all the time without government involvement; government generally only becomes involved when one or more parties violates the term of the agreement in some way or another.
How is government involved in marriage? In one primary way: the issue of marriage licenses, usually at the county level. Why do we need a license – in essence, permission from the county government – to get married?
Many, many years ago, when I was a little tad, we lived on a farm near Fairbank, Iowa. Our neighbors were an older couple, Grace and Brownie, who formed a treasured extra pair of surrogate grandparents for me. I have a distinct memory of sitting with my mother in Grace and Brownie’s kitchen listening to Brownie, a stubborn, no-nonsense WW1 veteran and lifelong farmer, talk about his pursuit of a building permit to extend one of his farm buildings. Most of all I remember his lament that “these days you have to get a permit from the county to take a shit.”
That was in the late Sixties. Things have not improved since that time.
One could make an argument for building codes and the concomitant permits to make sure that those codes are adhered to, especially for commercial buildings. But marriage?
Removing government from the business of marriage makes a great deal of sense. It would make no inroads on the religious observation of marriage. Churches of all sorts could go right on conducting marriages exactly as they do now, with a little less paperwork. It would make no inroad on the secular observation of marriage. People who are not religious (like me) could conduct any type of ceremony or observation that suits them. Would some people forgo marriage altogether? Probably, yes; some people already do. The numerator may change some, but the denominator remains the same.
Here’s the real rub, though, and this is why advocacy of this could be a winner for the slowly-growing libertarian wing of the GOP: Removing government from the business of marriage removes the thorny issue of gay marriage from the debate.
“But Animal,” you might ask, “doesn’t that open the door for all sorts of domestic arrangements? Doesn’t that open the door to polygamy, polyandry, and all sorts of other polys?“
My reply: “Well, sure. But if government isn’t involved in the licensing of domestic arrangements at all, what changes? People all over are free to indulge in those kinds of domestic arrangements now, they just can’t get a license from the county to formalize it. And why should they?”
Now, I’m about as heterosexual as you can get, in case you hadn’t figured that out from my penchant for Rule Five cheesecake. I like women, and to my very good fortune women have always liked me. (Mrs. Animal most of all.) It’s beyond my capacity to understand why a man would be sexually attracted to another man. But then, it’s beyond my capacity to understand why people like watching football on television. And that’s OK; the fact that other people do those things doesn’t affect me. It doesn’t affect my marriage. It doesn’t affect my life. It doesn’t affect me if two men, or two women, or three men and five women, or two men and a rosebush want to live together and call it “marriage.”
I know there are religious objections to gay marriage; I’m not religious and I don’t share them, but I acknowledge the depth of conviction of people who do hold those views. This proposal can easily address that as well. Churches that object to gay marriage should be free to refuse to conduct them.
Removing the licensing requirement from the equation removes the controversy. It’s a good idea. This Oklahoma proposal should be taken on the road.