Fact From Fiction

How much of a society's culture, politics, attitudes, etc. can be determined by fictional representations (particularly if an author is a member of that society at the time period depicted in the wok)?

Obviously, an author's biases will color a work to some degree. However, if the author is seeking to portray their society as accurately as possible as a given to the story line, than how different a view of that society would you get than if you were to interview a (thoughtful?) member of that society?

I ponder this because of a recent attempt in the media to highlight the agreeable aspects of the Swedish healthcare system in order to promote Obamacare here in the US. How does the actual state of healthcare in Sweden compare to how it is portrayed in a fictional work I am reading?

The effectiveness (or lack thereof) of Swedish healthcare is incidental in the story for the most part. It mentions (government) cutbacks adversely affecting the treatment of a relatively minor character, wherein a major character steps in to provide private funds to supplement this deficiency in care.

I recall that there were one or two other (again incidental) remarks on the weaknesses in Swedish healthcare (and other services) due to governmental shortfalls in funding.

It would be interesting to determine if these fictional perspectives square with the factual status of the socialized medical carer system in Sweden. If they do coincide with reality than it would bolster the arguments that modeling our own healthcare system after those in European nations is not necessarily a good approach, and to my question—perhaps fiction can provide a relatively sound view into societal issues.

I would think that this approach is less useful where the main question of interest features prominently in the fictional work as it will likely be heavily colored by the author's bias. After all, it may be the author's intent to promote a certain viewpoint on that particular question. Incidental references may be much more useful.

When fact is fiction and TV reality —U2

To See Clearly

There is so much that I don't know, how can I do otherwise but live by faith?


Listening to the book 1776 by David McCullough. Exceptional treatise on the Revolutionary war, General George Washington, several other major players; but most fascinating of all has been the insights in the military forces.

It details what kind of men made up the Continental Army. Where they came from. Their training, or lack thereof. Their interactions with each other (the southern militias did not care for the 'stupid' Yankee forces—but they worked through it). Their courage and cowardice on the battlefield. Their triumphs and failures. To think that these completely ill prepared, and ill-suited guys from all walks of everyday life could take on, and defeat the greatest empire of their time is nothing short of a real miracle!

It certainly has provided new insight in my thinking regarding the Second Amendment. Without those commoner butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers with the 'assault weapon' rifles of their day there would be no America.

Were they always the picture-perfect patriots we commonly envision? Heck no! They were human. Some braver than others. Some were rotten scoundrels given the chance. Many were terribly homesick; having never traveled before. They suffered all kinds of hardships, not the least of which was the oft lack of pay, which they desperately needed to send back home.

They were (at least initially) really despised by the professional troops on the other side. But they did the most amazing feats. At least two or three nighttime maneuvers that completely astonished the British forces.

Well. It's a fine book. If someone could adequately adapt it, it would make an amazing movie.

PS I believe it reveals one of the first instances I can recall of biological warfare: people infected with smallpox sent among the Continental army.

Feinstein Assault Weapons Ban of 2013

Senator Feinstein introduced her proposed new "Assault Weapons Ban", S.150, in the Senate this week. It is (currently) posted on her website, and Scribd. I have not read the 122 pages of text yet or any commentary yet, but I'm sure it's going to be draconian, and no doubt unconstitutional.

From the time of her first AWB:

"I know the sense of helplessness that people feel. I know the urge to arm yourself because that’s what I did... I carried a concealed weapon and I made the determination if somebody was going to try and take me out, I was going to take them with me." —Sen. Diane Feinstein, 1995
Wonder if she limited herself to 7 - 10 rounds of ammo in her concealed weapon?

"If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright [gun] ban, picking up every one of them—Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them all in—I would have done it." —Sen. Diane Feinstein, 1995"
Yes, that about sums it all up doesn't it?


Confirmed. I've said it for years. There are so many laws & regulations on the books; a day doesn't go by that you aren't breaking at least one of them...

Web of environmental rules threatens Gulf Coast businesses with jail, steep fines

While there is no concrete figure, there are an estimated 300,000-400,000 environmental laws, statutes and mandates believed to be in circulation nationally. Many can land a person in prison, regardless of whether another person, plant or animal is harmed...

Part of the problem is that no one knows the total number of federal criminal laws on the books. Big and bulky, the federal criminal code is chock full of obtuse and obscure laws.

"You will have died and resurrected three times," and still be trying to figure out the answer, retired Justice Department official Ronald Gainer once told The Wall Street Journal in a report about the bloated volumes of criminal law...

...in his book "Three Felonies a Day," Boston-based attorney Harvey Silverglate says criminal laws have become dangerously disconnected and that prosecutors can pin crimes on anyone. [Emphasis mine]
Updated January 26, 2013: Web link. Quotations added.

Trillion Dollar Coin: Call It In The Air

You have to admit, this is pretty funny. Jon Stewart calling out the oh so 'brilliant' Paul Krugman on the trillion dollar coin farce, and then Krugman... well, he just makes Stewart's case.

Stewart first took on the coin in a segment on "The Daily Show" last Thursday, joking that "if we’re going to make s--- up, I say go big or go home" and suggesting it makes just as much sense to mint a twenty-trillion dollar coin or maybe just "find" a "one-hundred quillion-dollar bill" featuring a centaur and a unicorn as it does to make the trillion-dollar coin. Krugman then blasted Stewart in a Saturday column, "Lazy Jon Stewart," for the show's mockery of the coin.
You can't fault Stewart on that one. If you're going to do it, do it right. But Krugman disagreed and "...blasted Stewart in a Saturday column, 'Lazy Jon Stewart,' for the show's mockery of the coin."

The article goes on to say that Stewart retorted:
"I stand by our research on the topic, the due diligence, and my ignorant conclusion that a trillion-dollar coin minted to allow the president to circumvent the debt ceiling, however arbitrary that may be, is a stupid f---ing idea," Stewart said. "I said, good day. And I’m a fan of Paul Krugman."
The video is classic!

Guns, Race, and Hypocrisy

A recently popular Facebook meme:

Here's another take on guns, race, and hypocrisy:

History abounds with instances of injustice and hypocrisy. Here's hoping we do our best to avoid the mistakes of the past. All Americans need to stand united for their Second Amendment rights! Once lost, it will be virtually impossible to get them back.

Informative reading:
Supreme Court Affirms Racist Origins of Gun Control by Frances Rice [retired lawyer, Army Lieutenant Colonel, and chairman of the National Black Republican Association]

Disarm by Executive Order

A lot has happened in the last couple of days.

Foremost is an unprecedented declaration from Vice-President Biden yesterday that the White House may issue Executive Orders to implement their anti-Second Amendment agenda. From Fox News:
...the vice president hinted Wednesday that executive action -- action by the president in which Congress would not have a say -- would indeed be involved."There are executive orders, executive action that can be taken," Biden said, adding "we haven't decided what that is yet."
Biden didn't back down from that position when meeting with the NRA today. The National Rifle Association expressed disappointment at the proposed recommendations that Biden's working group would present to the President in a few days.
"We were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment," the group said in a written statement. "While claiming that no policy proposals would be 'prejudged,' this Task Force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful firearms owners -- honest, taxpaying, hardworking Americans.

"It is unfortunate that this administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation's most pressing problems. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen."
I can't think of a more irresponsible position to take on this issue than threatening unilateral executive action to further the gun-grabber agenda. A completely unconstitutional threat that is guaranteed to galvanize the millions of law-abiding gun owners who are NOT interested in having their Second Amendment rights trampled by fiat. There is no doubt (if there ever was) that the only "dialogue" occurring here is the gun-grabbers telling the rest of us, "This is how it's going to be. Deal with it." The proposal to destroy the Second Amendment via Presidential dictatorial decree is thrilling more than a few in the gun-grabber camp. You can just feel the exuberant glee exuding from this opinion piece on Huffington Post:
...I was delighted that Vice President Biden echoed what I have said now for some time -- that President Obama should issue an executive order banning the sale of semiautomatic guns, assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as part of a comprehensive, nationwide package on gun control...
Some will continue to claim that this is an issue about mental illness, not gun ownership. Really? From time immemorial, we have always had angry, frustrated people, some of whom may or may not be mentally ill. That will remain the case in the world, for as long as we exist...
What we need to do is to keep assault weapons out of the hands of members of the public, whether or not they are angry, violent or mentally ill, because as I have argued, when there is a gun on the mantel in Act I, it is likely to go off by the end of Act III. [Emphasis mine]
It was just a couple weeks after the election that gun purchasers were being castigated for their irrational fears that "Obama would come after their guns". The obvious reality was that it was foolish for the public to rush out buying guns & ammo immediately following the election. After all, "The president has done almost nothing in his first term to restrict gun ownership." Why should we think he would do anything during his second term?

Because... he said he would! Repeatedly. He has been interested in gun banning throughout his career. The internet is a wonderful thing for gathering documentation. (Links to follow in another post.)

The Sandy Hook tragedy was the "...serious crisis [that the gun-grabbers could NOT let] go to waste... it's an opportunity to do things [like decimating the Second Amendment that] you think you could not do before." (Rahm Emanuel)

I'm very much afraid that this is NOT going to end well.

Gun Control Reduces Crime?

Tell it like it is John!

"If someone gets into your house, what would you rather have: a handgun or a telephone?"

Gun Grabber "Discussion": Pointless

This post is a response to and/or continuation of a FB conversation which began concerning a satirical opinion piece posted 12/30/2012 in the New York Times entitled Babes In Arms by Bill Keller.

Initial Conversation

Once an idea has been deemed obviously "stupid" by the elite: no need to consider or discuss—therefore demonize, dismiss, mock, lampoon, satirize, and hope the unenlightened dimwits get the message. Shut down dialog before it can start. Typical tactics of the "open mind".

If you could have taken out the Sandy Hook murderer with a concealed handgun, would you have done it?

"Of course, but but but........"

Of course, but, but, but....

Who wouldn't have taken Lanza out if given the chance? This ain't freakin' Hollywood though. In Hollywood, the good guy with the gun always stops the bad guy and the bad guys are always really bad shots.

Reality, however, is that if a guy in body armor and a semi-auto gets the drop on you, you're dead. I don't care if you're armed or not. Reality is that there is inherent chaos and confusion in a mass shooting situation.

My Response

but but but...

There was a chance he could have been stopped if someone in the school had been armed.

There was no chance at all because no one was armed.

And, (in your mind) you have nullified that there ever will be a chance to stop this kind of armed assailant in the future by simply dismissing the whole concept of armed protection in schools and/or Concealed Carry as stupidity (and unallowable).

I have pointed out on FB that this concept has worked in Israel, it's being considered by several state & local governments, and I recently found county in Colorado that has had an armed volunteer guard program implemented for the last 10 years. Imagine that.

I've said it before: The President, public officials, celebrities, public events, Bingo halls, banks, car lots, etc. get armed security... But all our kids get is a "No guns allowed" poster at the school entrance? Even the Social Security offices have guards in case a welfare recipient goes off because they can't get their check!

It's ok for the President's and other politician's, etc. kids to go to schools with armed security, but not ours? Hypocrisy abounds.

The salient points made, please note if you wish to continue:

Who wouldn't have taken Lanza out if given the chance?

FAIL. You'd have needed a firearm, and been allowed to carry it in the school to do that. Which you are against!

...if a guy in body armor and a semi-auto gets the drop on you, you're dead. I don't care if you're armed or not. Reality is that there is inherent chaos and confusion in a mass shooting situation.

You do know that it is now reported that Lanza was NOT wearing body armor. “It was a fishing type vest, a jacket with a lot of pockets; it was not a bullet-proof vest,” [state police spokesman Lt. J. Paul] Vance said.

Regardless, body armor does not suddenly turn someone into Iron Man. Bullets don't simply bounce off without affecting the target. Depending on the type of armor (and the type of round fired into it), it may or may not stop penetration, and it's highly likely that it's going to really hurt and/or knock you down even if it doesn't go through. Disorient you at the least.

A guardian carrying concealed is going to have the tactical advantage in the chaos of a mass shooting. The assailant will likely not see him or her coming. The assailant may or may not "get the drop" on them (but again, without an armed guard on site at all there is NO CHANCE of stopping a mass murderer).

I've seen video of this in action, CC defender takes out assailant or runs them off without firing a shot simply via the element of surprise. Virtually all mass murderers shoot themselves when they are finally confronted with an armed opponent.  So take your conclusions and... turn them into assumptions.

What Wayne LaPierre never mentioned is that there *have been* armed bystanders at previous mass shootings. In several cases, they completely failed to stop the shootings. In other cases they limited the damage, but certainly did not stop it from occurring. A person on a rampage could easily get off 5-10 shots before anybody could even unholster their weapons and return fire.

Several cases where CC bystanders were on-site? Really? There haven't been that many mass shootings over the last decade, I would be interested in the stats. Regardless, (and yet again) there's NO CHANCE of stopping one of these idiots if there is NO ONE armed to take them out. Which is the better option, chance to save lives or NO POSSIBILITY?

In other cases they limited the damage, but certainly did not stop it from occurring.

So they "limited the damage", i.e. they saved some lives? A CCW holder saved lives. Thank you for being there, having your permit, carrying your concealed firearm, and SAVING SOMEBODY FROM A MURDERER.

A person on a rampage could easily get off 5-10 shots before anybody could even unholster their weapons and return fire.

How is this relevant? How in the world are these statements relevant??

You don't want armed guardians in schools because: they might not be able to save lives, or they might not be able to save all lives, or they might not be able to draw fast enough? You're not making your case at all. And here's a completely unassailable fact:

Only one public policy has ever been shown to reduce the death rate from such crimes: concealed-carry laws.Their [Landes' & Lott's] study controlled for age, sex, race, unemployment, retirement, poverty rates, state population, murder arrest rates, violent crime rates, and on and on.

The effect of concealed-carry laws in deterring mass public shootings was even greater than the impact of such laws on the murder rate generally.

Someone planning to commit a single murder in a concealed-carry state only has to weigh the odds of one person being armed. But a criminal planning to commit murder in a public place has to worry that anyone in the entire area might have a gun.

I know that there are millions of self-styled and self-believing James Bonds and John Waynes out there who are eager and ready to defend us all from robbers, terrorists, roving mobs, hoards of zombies, or the Obama administration.

Really? You know this? Did you take a poll? Find this is an academic study? How do you "know" that these "millions" see themselves as Bond or Wayne?  Your implication is, they are delusional. Millions of delusional Americans with guns.

There's really no need to go any further at this point. There never was a dialog was there? So much for the oft called for "open-minded discussion". Feel free to stop reading here, and I shouldn't bother to continue. I do so not on your behalf, but for others whose mindset might not be so narrow.

People can come up with all sorts of creative scenarios to justify why they just have to own an AR-15 and high capacity clips. Of course, such scenarios inevitably devolve into paranoid fantasies and, yes, they richly deserve the mocking that they receive.

You would mock the Korean shop-keepers that kept the mobs & looters from destroying their lives and livelihood during the Rodney King (and other) riots? You think it's funny to have to guard your life, home, or business from looters in the aftermath of natural disasters. You think these are fantasy situations? Look outside the small retirement community you live in, there is a larger world, others have determined they have defensive needs beyond your own. That is their call to make. They are within their rights to own these firearms whether you like it or not--until you unconstitutionally remove that right.

Rifles account for virtually NO murders (statistically speaking). "But you don't need these guns." But, why does it concern you that people own them when they are virtually never used in committing crimes? You don't need a hammer, or a pocket knife, or a baseball bat--all of which can be used to assault one or more individuals. "Yes I do! I do household repairs (hammer); I go camping (pocket knife), I play baseball (bat). I need these things."

"I defend my life & property, I need my rifle."

There are 60% MORE murders committed by "Personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.)" including "pushing" [yes, pushing!] then there were by rifles in 2009, according to the FBI statistics. 801 vs 348 (rifles)

Ban Martial Arts? Or, (as the old cliche goes) "register your hands as lethal weapons?"

I have said it before, I will say it again...I see no *reasonable* justification whatsoever for weapons that can mow down dozens of people at a time. A ban on high capacity magazines is a no-brainer.

"Mow down." Media buzz words. These aren't machine guns we are talking about. If you want to be taken seriously, speak accurately.

Banning "high capacity magazines"? How did 10-rounds become the standard in Feinstein's bill? Why 10? Why not 6 or 11 or 15? If I'm defending myself against a bad guy or multiple attackers, I want as many rounds as my weapon can reasonably hold without hindering it's usability or functionality. I make the determination on how many rounds I need (until your bans pass).

Well, your justification isn't needed for others to exercise their Second Amendment rights, just as theirs isn't needed for you to exercise your First Amendment rights. But if you need examples of why someone might choose a scary black rifle as a defensive weapon system, see above. Or, better yet, consider the myriad accounts of genocide that have occurred just in the last century or so. It is far easier to rid yourself of undesirables if they are DISARMED first.

Nothing like that could ever happen in the U.S. except to, hmm, let's see, the Mormons? Native Americans? Blacks in the post Civil War south (the KKK were instigators of some of the first gun control laws--to get firearms out of the hands of black Americans)? The Japanese-American internment during WWII?

Tyranny can occur at many levels: From someone trying to rob you; Gang extortion; Rioters looting, pillaging, assaulting, murdering; Your neighbors trying to confiscate your land/property or kill you for your religion or ethnicity; Your government trying to make you "disappear" because you are deemed a threat (see the NDAA--U.S. citizens may be picked up and held indefinitely without any recourse, a clearly egregious violation of the Bill of Rights).

Now I am going to the heart of the Second Amendment. Your oft repeated line is something about the Founding Fathers never envisioning "assault rifles" in the hands of the populace. And, that they had muskets, not semi-autos.

You know what they thought and had? They thought that in order to maintain the proper balance of power the people should have the means to defend themselves and their states against the possible tyranny of an over-reaching central government. What they had to do that with were the "assault weapons" of their day: muskets, cannons, flint-lock pistols, swords & sabres. Who owned them? Why that would be the citizenry of the states, kept in their homes. And yes, they felt very strongly about this matter because they lived through it. The tyranny, oppression, the fight for freedom against the British. Been there, done that, don't want it to happen again if we can help it--Second Amendment.

Did they think an unarmed populace might possibly face something like that again from within? You bet. Did they want them to be prepared with the means to keep themselves free? Absolutely.

Oh, but we live in 2013. That thinking is so outdated. Nothing like that's going to happen today in the U.S. We're too enlightened. Too advanced a society. You have no need to keep such weaponry in your home. Besides, what would that be against the technological might of the army? (As if that is even a relevant question--but since we bring it up, irregulars have been pretty effective at holding off organized troops, or we wouldn't still be fighting a decade long "war", would we? Ever see the movie Defiance? True story that.)

Can't happen. Conspiracy theory. Stupid "prepper" paranoia. (Millions of) DELUSIONAL wannabes. Obama haters. Demonize, mock, dismiss...

NOW maybe you understand my jab that since you feel the way you do that your ilk should repeal the Second Amendment? If we don't need these kinds of firearms to defend ourselves anymore because nothing like the above can ever happen in our lifetime than WHY DO WE NEED IT?

But the disarming of America will be incremental, and you know that. Politics dictate that it occur this way--a direct attempt at repeal would fail. Can't defeat it head on, there's always another way.

What about the ramifications beyond our lifetime. Look beyond the narrow present. What about the future when we're long dead? Disarm now, no chance for your posterity later. It's utterly myopic to think that "all will be well" just because all is (supposedly) well now.

There are reports that Nancy Lanza identified as a "prepper". Doubtless, she *FELT* safer with her arsenal in the house. Didn't quite turn out that way, did it? Weapons, particularly assault weapons, might provide the illusion of safety, but in reality they do nothing of the sort. Study after study after study has identified a correlation between guns and gun deaths.

Those "preppers". They are a clear menace to society. Label, ridicule, demonize. It's right out of the Alinsky handbook (see rule 5). You definitely have that one down pat as many of your FB posts clearly demonstrate (and as you frankly admit here, "...they richly deserve the mocking that they receive.")

[Your firearms]... might provide the illusion of safety, but in reality they do nothing of the sort. So much for your shotgun as a home defense system (if you even seriously considered it as such in the first place). By your own statements, if you believe them, you should get rid of your guns. Guns are weapons. Guns are dangerous things. We don't need them.

Study after study after study has identified a correlation between guns and gun deaths.


Well, back to your own "arsenal". You don't need them for defense (since that is an "illusion" and you only delude yourself into thinking they make you safer). You also don't need them for hunting either, since you have grocery stores. You need to rid yourself of them.

"Live by the sword, die by the sword"...or, in this case....the gun.

I work in IT, not law enforcement, or the military. Nor am I engaged in criminal activity (with or without a firearm). I don't live or make my living by the gun. However, I do intend on trying my best to keep me and mine safe from a criminal element intent on doing us harm. It's just that simple.

Updated 10 January 2013: Added "Initial Conversation" heading. Corrected grammar (added "or" to "I work in IT, not law enforcement, the military.")

Gun Grabber Hypocrisy Alert

Typical unhinged leftist gun-grabber threatens violence in the name of "peace":
...I would tie Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, our esteemed Republican leaders, to the back of a Chevy pickup truck and drag them around a parking lot until they saw the light on gun control.

Your Papers Please

We've lost it. We're cracked, and the cracks are showing through.

From December 15, 2012, Paragould, AR

Armed task force to patrol streets

In response to a recent increase in crime, Paragould Mayor Mike Gaskill and Police Chief Todd Stovall offered residents at a town hall meeting Thursday night at West View Baptist Church what could be considered an extreme solution — armed officers patrolling the streets on foot.

Ok, that doesn't sound outrageous, what follows just reeks of bizarre however...
Stovall told the group of almost 40 residents that beginning in 2013, the department would deploy a new street crimes unit to high crime areas on foot to take back the streets.

"[Police are] going to be in SWAT gear and have AR-15s around their neck," Stovall said. "If you're out walking, we're going to stop you, ask why you're out walking, check for your ID."

Stovall said while some people may be offended by the actions of his department, they should not be.

"We're going to do it to everybody," he said. "Criminals don't like being talked to."


"They may not be doing anything but walking their dog," he said. "But they're going to have to prove it."


Normally, police would not stop individuals for simply walking on the street, but Stovall said the level of crime in certain areas and concerns from residents gave his officers the right to institute the actions...

"This fear is what's given us the reason to do this. Once I have stats and people saying they're scared, we can do this," he said. "It allows us to do what we're fixing to do."

Stovall further elaborated on the stop-and-ID policy Friday morning, claiming the city's crime statistics alone met the threshold of reasonable suspicion required to lawfully accost a citizen.

"To ask you for your ID, I have to have a reason," he said. "Well, I've got statistical reasons that say I've got a lot of crime right now, which gives me probable cause to ask what you're doing out. Then when I add that people are scared...then that gives us even more [reason] to ask why are you here and what are you doing in this area."

Stovall said he did not consult an attorney before announcing his plans to combat crime. He even remained undaunted when comparing his proposed tactics with martial law, explaining that "I don't know that there's ever been a difference" between his proposals and martial law.


"Anyone that's out walking, because of the crime and the fear factor, [could be stopped]," he said.

Should an individual not produce identification, Stovall said his officers would not back down. Individuals who do not produce identification when asked could be charged with obstructing a governmental operation, according to Stovall. [emphasis mine]

Of course, should they actually attempt this the city would be sued out of existence, and I'm sure criminal charges would also be filed. The blatant attack on Constitutionally guaranteed rights is so obvious, it's almost as if this was some kind of sophomoric hoax.

Well, the point should be noted that tyranny can be exercised at any level, and must be resisted accordingly.

Oh, and I would advise against stopping there for a bite to eat or otherwise when traveling through AR. Just a thought...