Thursday, January 29, 2009
He Came in Through the Bathroom Window
Alternate title: "This is not the door I remember."
Hint for future reference: If there's no handle, it's not a door.
Obama's singing the blues along with B B King
My baby changed
She done changed the lock on my door
And the key I got won't fit that lock no more
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
A Benefit of Hyper Inflation
In the interest of fairness, I do need to point out that there is one benefit of hyper inflation. If you owe somebody a lot of money, inflating your currency means that you're paying them back with dollars that are worth less than the ones you borrowed.
For example, I borrow $100 from you today (Don't worry,I'm good for it) and I promise to pay it back in a year. During the year, hyper inflation sets in and the dollar's value is cut in half. When I pay you back, the value of the $100 I give you is only $50.
That's good for me, not so much for you.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Talking with Your Enemies
President Obama made headlines when he proclaimed that he would sit down without preconditions with dictators and enemies of America around the world. His point, however clumsily made, was that negotiating is better than fighting, and you can't negotiate if you refuse to talk.
It makes sense, in a very limited way, so here is what I propose.
President Obama has elevated Rush Limbaugh to the status of enemy of his administration. (Shades of the Nixon enemies list?). I think Rush should invite President Obama to appear on his show for a three hour conversation, with absolutely no preconditions.
Obama'll do it for a terrorist leader or a dictator like Ahmadinejad; why not for a simple radio talk show host? This will be President Obama's chance to show that he really is about unity, and post partisanship. And hey, it goes right along with the Fairness Doctrine, allowing both ideological sides to present their views in an equal forum.
I know I would listen for all three hours of what would surely be a very enlightening conversation.
More on the Moronic Media
President Obama was signing executive orders in the White House the other day, and had to ask for clarification several times on the purpose and effects of the orders he was signing.
Think about that for just a moment and let it sink in. He's the Chief Executive. They are his orders, written up by his staff to implement programs and policies he wants. Got it? These are his babies, the things that he spent the last several weeks crafting so his administration could hit the ground running immediately after inauguration.
And after all of that prep time, he still didn't understand his own agenda!
When somebody said Obama was a blank canvas, they may have been overestimating the man.
Can you imagine the field day the press would have had if President Bush had to be briefed on the meaning of the Executive Order he was in the midst of signing? Molly Ivins and Co would have flayed Bush alive, while The Kos Kiddies and the HuffPo would have gone into paroxysms of speculation on the evil Rove/Cheney conspiracy that really ran things.
But when President Obama shows that his grasp on what is going on is, well, let's say 'rather less than complete', what does the media say? They praise him for being unafraid to show that he needs help.
Sorry guys, but if it's all the same to you, I prefer a President who doesn't need his own Executive Orders explained to him. Call me old fashioned.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
The Money Supply
When I wrote these two posts
on the economy and basic finance, I was looking for this graph,
but couldn't find it. Thanks to John Hindraker at Powerline
, I didn't have to find it. He found it.
This graph shows the money supply. Notice what's happening right now? Yeah, we're printing money at a rate never before seen in history, except in Weimar Germany, and we've already explored how well that worked out. WWII ring any bells?
Take a look at the following graph to get a better idea of what's going on.
This is the annual rate of change graph. Notice that it tends to hang out around zero, and until this year, any positive changes in the money supply are balanced by slightly smaller corresponding negative changes. In essence, the money supply is grown a bit above the actual value of the economy in order to encourage growth. As the economy grows, money is removed from the supply to maintain value and limit inflation. Take a look at this same graph, only this time I've zoomed in on the period 1999-2005
After 9/11, President Bush increased the money supply to fund the recovery and cleanup, and to get ready to strike back. He increased the money supply at an annualized rate of almost 50%, followed almost immediately by an annualized rate of reduction of 25%. This tightening of the money supply immediately after an increase acts to put the brakes on inflation.
Now it is intuitively obvious to anyone that there is no way to either grow the economy to add enough value to match the increase in the money supply, nor is it possible to tighten the money supply enough to eliminate an inflationary effect.
The Obama administration has two options. They can put on the brakes and stop printing money, and prepare the country for a crash landing, including double digit inflation, or they can crank the presses even higher, and drive the country over a cliff into complete bankruptcy.
The first course will be incredibly unpopular, and will result in a depression exceeding the 1929 crash by several orders of magnitude. After a decade or so of struggle, America will be able to get back on its feet, smaller, but substantially better off.
The second will be a lot of fun while it lasts, but will mean the end of America as a nation.
Look at those graphs again and ask yourself a simple question. Would you invest in a business run this way? Would you invest in a currency that is being deliberately devalued this way, knowing you will only get pennies on the dollar for your investment?
Neither would I. And neither would anyone else with a brain.
The Hockey Stick Is A Hoax!
I've been posting about global warming for about 6 years or so, using scientific facts and logical analysis to show just how ridiculous Anthropogenic Global Warming actually is.
You first clue should be that Al Gore, a guy who managed to flunk out of divinity school, is the chief proponent of AGW. Al believes that AGW is such a big deal that his mansion in Nashville uses more electricity than most neighborhoods.
Anyway, one of the best visual aids used by the snake oil salesman was the hockey stick graph, which shows global temperatures spiking in the late 20th century. Now we get news
that the hockey stick was a hoax.
Scientists massaging data to reach a politically favorable conclusion in order to keep the grant money coming? Say it ain't so!
Isn't it fascinating how completely corrupting government funding is? By the way, the government will now be funding fetal tissue research and abortion.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Yes, I’m Pro Life, not Anti-Choice
There are those in the Pro-Choice community who refer to folks like me as anti-choice. They do this for a couple of reasons. First, when you can label an opponent as anti-whatever, you get to cast them in a negative light. We were originally called anti-abortion, but we chose Pro-Life, because we stand for something. Similarly, the Pro-Choice crowd shuns the label Pro_Abortion to signal that they really don't like something as icky as abortion, but they feel that women ought to have that option.
The problem is that I am not anti-choice. I'm all about choice; I think choice is where it's all at as long as you are willing to accept the consequences of the choices you make.
When a man and woman choose to have sex, one of the possible consequences is a pregnancy. Yes, you can use contraception to minimize that chance, but it is still there. The time for choice is prior to having sex, not after. Prior to conception is the last time when both partners have an equal burden of responsibility and an equal share in the decision making process. After conception, the playing field is permanently and dramatically altered. There is no fair way to allocate responsibility and authority at this point and the current situation demonstrates that. The pregnant woman has complete decision making authority, while the man has to shoulder the responsibilities that result from her unilateral decision.
I'm an old fashioned moralistic Bible thumping old fart, but I believe that you don't have sex with somebody unless you are willing to make a baby with them. You can call that unrealistic all you want, but so is thinking that the proper solution to an unplanned pregnancy is to kill the baby.
The World’s Biggest Con Job
Last week, we celebrated the 36th anniversary of the greatest swindle ever conducted in the history of the earth. The scope of the con is breath-taking, and its success unparalleled as the marks continue to sign on even after almost 4 decades.
Of course, I'm talking about abortion.
Convincing women that abortion was something they wanted, something that they should fight for, was the greatest thing to ever happen to men. Think about it for a minute. If you're an immature, irresponsible guy looking for an excuse to spray sperm anywhere and everywhere, having women march for abortion rights was like entering the promised land. Where before, if you got a girl pregnant, you were looking at ducking an angry father, paying hundreds of thousands in child support over 18 years, or going to jail, now there was a new option on the table. A few hundred dollars and you're away free and clear.
And she's the one that asked for it! That's the beauty of the con! The lowlife loser gets to move on down the line to his next victim without a care in the world, because it was her body, her choice.
How many women do you think have abortions because they know that the sperm donor won't be a good father? How many abortions are performed on women whose partner told them that they weren't going to be around, no matter what? How many women get abortions because they know that even with child support, raising a baby on their own is going to be a tremendous burden on them, a "punishment" as our President called it? 60%? More than that?
It's quite the racket and it's making quite a bit of money for the industry as well. And now that the federal government is going to fund embryonic stem cell research, well, let's just say that I'm certain that the abortion clinics won't be giving that little lump of tissue away.
And the reason this is such a good con, why it's the greatest swindle in history is that even though everything I said is the truth, any pro-choice woman who reads this is going to be pissed off, not at the swindlers, but at me, for pointing out the truth. Abortion enables irresponsibility, not for the woman, but for the jerks out there who take advantage of women.
But then again, it's your choice who you sleep with, right?
A Question of Priorities
We're in a recession, perhaps headed for a depression. Banks are failing; major industries require billions of government dollars to avoid bankruptcy. Unemployment is up and the stock market is in free fall.
We have plenty of things that need immediate attention.
So what does President Obama choose as his first acts in office?
1. Spend federal dollars on embryonic stem cell research.
2. Authorize spending federal dollars for international abortion.
Maybe next he'll restore Jack Kevorkian's medical license.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Obama’s Pro Life PSA
Elevating the Tone in Washington
Congress Hard at Work
Say Uncle has a post detailing the gun bills
before the current Congress.
Does it bother anybody else that the New Congress hasn't been going but a couple of weeks and they already 602 bills
in the H.R. pipelines?
Do As I Say, Not As I Do
Yesterday, President Obama continued his efforts towards bipartisanship by denouncing the Bush administration for cloaking the federal government in secrecy. He announced that he would make sure that all government operations would be conducted with the greatest possible openness.
In related news, Obama has still not released his birth certificate or his medical records.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Well That Didn’t Last Long
President Obama went from calling for unity and moving beyond petty differences yesterday to calling President Bush incompetent and a liar today.
Well, he did promise change, didn't he?
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Teacher Carry: Yes or No?
I have a column in the Knoxville News Sentinel today
exploring the idea of allowing teachers with TN carry permits to carry their guns while teaching. There is a companion discussion
on School Matters
. In those two venues, I worked to maintain a neutral perspective, relating relevant facts, both statistical and anecdotal, with a minimum of analysis, and as little personal opinion as I could manage, although I did play devil's advocate from time to time during the discussion in order to bring in additional perspectives and issues.
One commenter called me on it, suggesting that my personal biases were showing in the discussion. I let him know that was not the case, and that after the paper was published, I would state my personal position here. I figure that's the best way to maintain a separation between writing an article for the News Sentinel, where my opinion isn't relevant, and writing here, where it's all that really matters.
After researching school violence statistics for the article, and after careful deliberation, I came away with two findings. First, we need to increase security in our schools. Second, teachers are not reliable enough to be considered part of that security system.
Let's talk first about school security. Here are some statistics.
- From July 1, 2004 through June 30, 2005, there were 48 school-associated deaths
in elementary and secondary schools in the United States. (Indicators of School
Crime and Safety: 2006, U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, 2006)
- The percentage of public schools experiencing one or more violent incidents
increased between the 1999-2000 and 2003-04 school years, from 71 to 81
percent. (Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2006, U.S. Departments of
Education and Justice, 2006)
- Over 78 percent of School Resource Officers attending the annual NASRO
Conference reported they had taken a weapon from a student on school property
in the past year. (NASRO 2004 National School-Based Law Enforcement Survey,
National Association of School Resource Officers, 2004)
- In 2003-04, 10 percent of teachers in central city schools were threatened with
injury by students, compared with 6 percent of teachers in urban fringe schools
and 5 percent of teachers in rural schools. Five percent of teachers in central city
schools were attacked by students, compared with 3 percent of teachers in urban
fringe and 2 percent of teachers in rural schools. (Indicators of School Crime and
Safety: 2006, U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, 2006)
- In a 2003 survey of high school students, 17.1% had carried a weapon to school during the 30 days preceding the survey. (Grunbaum J.A. et al. Youth risk behavior surveillance - United States, 2003. MMWR Surveillance Summaries 2004 May 21;53(2):1-96)
Clearly, schools are not as safe as we need them to be. The question becomes how do we make them safer? Jamey Dobbs, posting on an article on School Matters discussing random searches in schools
points to a study done by the US Secret Service called the Safe Schools Initiative
which studied 37 school shootings from 1974 through 2000. She says that the report concludes that random searches are not effective. In fact, the report makes no conclusions regarding the efficacy of different approaches to stopping school violence. Instead, the report uses the research to develop a threat assessment model that, in the words of the authors, might
The report found that, contrary to popular opinion, there is no useful profile of students who engaged in school violence. They varied in age, race, and family status, and some were honor students while others were failing. 41% of attackers were socially active while 34% were loners. 63% had never or rarely been in trouble while 25% had been suspended at least once. Most attackers had no history of violence prior to the attack.
Think about this for just a moment. The perpetrators of school attacks show no uniformity in age, behavior, prior acts, or scholastic performance. They look and act like every other student.
The report goes on to say that in 88% of the cases, "at least one adult was concerned by the attacker's behavior." The behaviors were both directly related to the coming attack, i.e. trying to get a gun, or completely unrelated, i.e. expressing thoughts or feelings of depression or rage in class writing assignments. The report does not indicate how many students engaged in these behaviors without going on to initiate an attack on the school, a critical omission when developing an assessment model. If you don't know how prevalent the behavior is outside of kids who attack schools, then you don't know how reliable that behavior is as a marker.
The report also says that in most cases, while the details may or may not have been known, other students knew that an attack was coming. In a few cases, these other students reported their concerns to parents or school faculties, but in most cases, they did not.
There's another interesting statistic from the report; the majority of school attacks end before law enforcement intervenes. Roughly one third end when the attacker is overcome by faculty or students. 35% of the time the attacker just quits, or kills himself. Only in 27% of the cases did law enforcement arrive in time to do anything.
So the research shows us a couple of very important things. First, that there is no easy way to spot a student who is about to launch a violent attack. Second, law enforcement rarely arrives in time to do any good. In most cases, it's all over by the time they arrive on scene.
So, clearly, we need to do something to improve security in the schools. Implementing a threat based assessment that relies on underpaid, overworked, and unqualified teachers to pick up on behaviors that are common in all teens, not just those who go on to attack their schools, is a very risky plan, particularly when you rely on it as your sole proactive measure. Depending on adolescents to report behavior is also a risky proposition, considering the natural feelings of distrust and rebellion. Initiating school programs to try and alleviate those feelings is certain to meet with only limited success.
When you talk to parents and teachers about other proactive measures, like random searches, dress codes and uniforms, increased surveillance, or the increased presence of armed School Resource Officers, the overwhelming reaction is that we are turning our schools into prisons, and that none of these methods will work. In many cases, they fall back on a familiar litany.
"If we just get to know these kids, if we can get them to trust us, then we won't have these problems."
There's a couple of problems with that approach. First, you're ignoring everything we know about the biology and psychology of the adolescent. Second, while you're trying to develop a rapport with the kids, some of them will continue to die because you aren't doing anything to protect them. Any successful strategy to combat school violence must consist of two parts: prevention and reaction.
Prevention includes building avenues of trust among the students, but it also includes enhancing their physical security. Schools are a target because they are known to be undefended. We have to change that.
Reaction means that we cannot adopt any strategy that relies on the attacker to stop on his own, or to wait for the police to arrive. Those strategies will cost lives. Va Tech is a prime example of that. A successful strategy will be one that reduces the amount of time the shooter has to carry out his attack.
And that's where teachers come into the mix. At first glance, and once you get past the initial squeamishness of deliberately allowing guns into a classroom, the idea seems to make a lot of sense. Teachers are right there, on the spot, and are in a position to react quickly. Rather than waiting for the attacker to decide he's had enough, or for the police to arrive, an armed teacher can act to interrupt the attacker, bringing an earlier end to the attack. Not only that, but knowing that schools are no longer defenseless may act as a deterrent to some would be attackers. Finally, there's the argument that people with carry permits have been found to be more law abiding and much less likely to be convicted of a violent offense than those without a permit. But let's look at those arguments a little bit closer, starting with the Pearl Mississippi case I mentioned in the article.
If you didn't follow the link, here's a brief recap. Luke Woodham, a student at Pearl High School killed his mother with a knife, and then brought a single shot hunting rifle to school, and by single shot, I mean he had to stop and reload the rifle after every shot. He entered the high school and shot his ex-girlfriend, killing her, and also shot her friend standing next to her. He continued to move through the school, shooting other students. When he heard sirens from the approaching police, he left the school, leaving two dead and seven wounded behind him. He got into his car, intending to move on to the junior high where he would repeat the slaughter. Fortunately, he was stopped by Assistant Principal Joel Myrick, who went out to his car, where he kept a .45 pistol. He confronted Woodham, and held him at gunpoint until the police arrived.
This seems to be a perfect argument for allowing teachers to carry, but there's another part to the story. There was a teacher standing next to the first two victims. While Woodham was reloading, he ran for cover. The school principal, Roy Balentine, heard the shots, and ran out into the hall, saw what was going on, and then ducked back into his office to call the police. Again, Woodham was reloading. For each shot, Woodham had to stop, pull the bolt on his rifle to clear the chamber, reload, acquire a new target, aim and fire.
During that time, not one teacher made a move to stop him. Just as importantly, not one teacher acted to put themselves between a student and Woodham.
Despite all the overblown rhetoric, teachers are not paid to be heroes. For every Joel Myrick, there are dozens of other teachers who will dive for cover, leaving your child exposed to danger. Placing themselves between your child and danger isn't in their job description. Those who are willing to do so are the exception, rather than the rule. While they might be able to utilize a handgun effectively in a crisis, most could not. They aren't prepared to take on the responsibility that carrying a gun entails.
But what about those exceptions? Can we allow them to carry? Like I said earlier, people with carry permits have demonstrated a seriousness of purpose and a pattern of behavior that places them in a category above the average citizen. However, there are some caveats here as well. Most people who get a carry permit get one for self defense. They are looking to defend themselves or their family or their home against a stranger. A school is a different matter altogether. There you are looking to defend your students, possibly against other students. That's a huge burden for anyone to carry, particularly a teacher, whose entire career is built upon establishing relationships with their students.
Say you have a teacher who is dedicated enough to his students to put his life on the line to stand between them and another one of his students. That would be one very rare bird indeed, but for the sake of argument, let's say you've got such a guy on your staff. Now he has to worry about innocent bystanders as he draws his gun to face down the attacker. We're in an area where the balance is very delicate. If the attacker is unopposed, he will undoubtedly rack up more victims than if he is confronted, but how many more bystanders may get caught in a crossfire with two guns involved? This is not the sort of thing a carry class trains you for. The bottom line is that in order to safely carry a gun in a school, the teacher would require a significant amount of additional training.
So now, not only do we need an almost mythical superman to be our teacher with a gun, he would also have to be willing to undergo a significant amount of additional training, most likely on his own time and at his own expense. How likely is that going to be?
The bottom line is that whether or not we allow teachers to carry is basically irrelevant to providing a more secure classroom. Those teachers who have the responsibility, the willingness, and the skills to carry a weapon in a school are going to be so rare that the likelihood of their being able to make a difference is virtually non-existent.
Except for the fact that they already have made a difference. Pearl, MS and Appalachian Law School in West Virginia are two instances where armed teachers or students prevented a massacre from getting worse. So now what do we do?
The Constitution recognizes the right to keep and bear arms and the recent Supreme Court decision in DC vs Heller has recognized that it is an individual right, not a collective one. However the Supreme Court has also held that cities, states and the federal government have the right to regulate where guns can be carried, based on public safety. Absent public safety concerns, the right to carry should be considered inviolate. Under this reasoning, if a person with a carry permit could demonstrate that by carrying a weapon, he would have no negative effect on public safety, then there would be no reason to deny his right to carry on school grounds. Demonstrating this would require a more stringent screening process, well beyond that for a standard carry permit, as well as more in-depth training, including crisis management, strategy and tactics, marksmanship, and maintaining calm under stress. These are skills that can't be learned in a classroom; they must be practiced in the field as well. Additionally, in order to ensure that the practice is effective, the skills must be evaluated regularly.
So finally, we come to an answer. Allowing teachers to carry on school grounds is not likely to have a significant impact on school security, but if a teacher can demonstrate that carrying a weapon will not compromise the safety of the students, then the teacher should be allowed to carry, in accordance with the Bill of Rights. However, proving that there will be no negative impact on student safety should involve stringent screening, training, and regular testing at least equivalent to what School Resource Officers must go through.