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AvatarComments by George Turner in reply to Mike Schilling*

On “Politicizing the Tragedy in Aurora

Well, to date I think only one bystander has been hit by a CCW holder who missed, so I think it's a stretch to assume multiple collateral hits in a single incident, and statistically even one is unlikely. There have been frequent incidents were perps were gunned down in stores by multiple armed customers with no blue-on-blue fire accidents. The idea that the theater would become a blue-on-blue blo0dbath is far less plausible than what Batman is doing on the big screen.

Focusing on mental health won't help either. Given the perp's resume, he'd have been one of the watchers. Would anyone be happy if the shooter was the one in charge of their psych evaluations?

But for a solution that will satisfy both gun proponents and those who fear guns, the answer is simple. Most people need to be wearing body armor. Body armor would save lives in these type of random shootings, in terrorist attacks, in simple robberies, in gas main explosions, in car crashes, plane crashes, and asteroid impacts. Sure, some people will bitch that it's worse than motorcycle helmets, especially girls in bikinis and flak vests at the beach, but those people bitch about everything.

On “Batman Silly Season Weekend Open Thread

A girl I go caving with goes grocery shopping with a gun on her hip and nobody bats an eye. Heck, I've carried a belt-fed machine gun through our downtown sports arena (the gun show place) and people in the food court don't even look up. The diffence is probably due to whether it strikes a person as odd or unusual or not. I could imagine a scene in the Old West where a deputy says, "Hey, see that dude over there? He's not wearing a gun on his hip! What's he up to? We'd better keep our eye on him because he looks like trouble."

I don't know of only one instance where a CCW holder has accidentally hit a bystander, one where an idiot aimed at a wall and pulled the trigger to show a crowd at a party that his gun was empty (it wasn't, one dead), and an accidental shooting at a movie theater where a guy dropped his pistol and it shot him in the leg and another woman in the butt. She sued.

That's probably over the past 10 years, so statistically I would expect it to take about a century for CCW accidents to equal last night's Batman premier.


If more guns didn't help, we wouldn't even bother calling the police.

The shooter is going to be the person with long guns that everyone is running away from, who is conspicuously shooting at people who are running away. In these kinds of beserker attacks, where there's no specfic targets, the perp usually keeps shooting people until he runs out of ammunition or gets befuddled.

Just engaging him is going to draw his focus and allow more people to escape, even if he never gets hit, and if you don't engage him he'll walk around executing people like a Terminator in a pre-school. The Norway shooter killed 69 people and injured 110. Do you really think someone with a 9-round Glock risks accidentally killing 69 people and wounding 110 by shooting back? I don't think anyone could be unlucky enough to hit 20 people with each bullet every time.

But short of shooting back, there are better responses than a stampede, but that would take a bolder mindset.


Well, it's too early for us to speculate, [ed. I have just issued the usual media disclaimer that precedes wild speculation], but one of the dead is a Fox News sports reporter who survived a shooting in a Toronto food court just last month. It's possible that she was the actual target of both shootings because she was dating the real Batman, since anyone he dates gets targeted by multiple psycho killers, and this particular shooter claimed to be Batman's arch nemesis. Coincidence? Not likely.

I can't believe one of the cable networks hasn't hired me as an on-air analyst.


Cinemark doesn't allow firearms in their theaters except for those carried by law enforcement. However, they don't have a policy on gadgets you carry on your utility belt.

On “Emmy Nominations: 30 Rock and Mad Men?

The 84th Academy Awards got eight nominations. Soon the Emmys will have categories for the previous year's best Emmy acceptance speech.

Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton both got nominations for best actor in a TV miniseries for playing a Hatfield and a McCoy, respectively. That can't end well.

On “I Want The World To Know Nothing Ever Worries Me

Not even Obama will agree to obey the laws of the land, so why should anyone else? His lawsuit against Arizona being a case in point (and the judges expressed their astonishment at the Administration's argument that it's unconstitutional to enforce federal law if it conflicts with a federal agency's policy of priorities).

It's true that we have the option to break the law (almost everyone does) or forfeit citizenship (record numbers have been doing so), but we can also just go on strike. Most of the wealthy can live comfortably off savings, and many haven't had much choice but to do so because the economy is in the toilet. One of the reasons state's like California and Illinois are virtually insolvent is that they used a highly graduated income tax, and the incomes at the top levels are highly unstable. Essentially, they're gambling the state budget on the continuing success of in-state gamblers whose stock picks were doing well. This also raises the question as to why the state should take in more money when stocks are doing well, since they should need less revenue during such periods (low unemployment and welfare costs). Perhaps if taxation was run less like a shake-down operation people wouldn't be so irritated by it.

Another issue is the majority abusing its power over a minority, which is something the Founders tried to ensure wouldn't happen by granting everyone equal access before the law, adding the Bill of Rights, etc. But they didn't put in any mechanism to prevent abuses in the tax system, whereby a majority can vote themselves all the money possessed by the minority, which is the foundation of modern class warfare. Tax money, and the control of it, is fueling a divisive civil conflict in this country just as much as blood diamonds are fueling African civil wars, and all we hear is various warlords claiming they need all the diamonds to give their people a fair share and protect them from exploitation and harm by nefarious evildoers.


But suppose you lived in a totalitarian dictatorship where all the taxes collected went to building statues of the glorious leader, paying for his palaces, and supporting a massive police state. What social obligations are you under to support the state's spending? Just because a government collects revenues doesn't mean society is benefitting in any way, and all the spending could be causing social harm. If you pay the exact amount by which the government could support the general welfare better than the individual, it still doesn't mean the dictator will spend a dime of it to benefit the people.

Likewise, not all US federal spending benefits the people, even welfare spending. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan argued, the US welfare system was an experiment, and the experiment did catastrophic damage to black families. Or you could look at multi-billion dollar failed military programs, like the Sgt. York, the Avenger automated artillery system, the A-12 flying Dorito, or the Commanche attack helicopter.


Well, one of the reasons we institute government is to maintain the rule of law to prevent cheating and to see that transactions are just, etc. As John Locke pointed out, people who are wronged go to extremes in seeking retribution. So we have courts, judges, and a system of laws which benefits everyone (except for the guy who swears he didn't do it), including successful people.

I think what Obama is arguing, badly, would apply. Since the rich benefit from the rule of law, which protects them from having to pay an extortionist or a swindler, they therefore owe the money saved to the court or the judge, because without the court they'd have been screwed. They should thus give back to the crown because they benefit so much from the crown's protection.


The French only speak French instead of Gaulish because the US wasn't there to stop the Romans. But if we had, they'd probably have ended up speaking English.


But this is the car dealer coming back to you wanting you to give him more money for the car you already bought. Building infrastructure is very expensive. Maintaining it is not. In 2010 the Federal Highway Administration only spent about $41 billion on roads and bridges, including new construction. That's about $125 a person. In the 2012 federal budget Obama wants to blow $3.72 trillion, which is $11,270 a person, so for every dollar he'll spend, about a penny will go to highway maintenance and construction.


But often success comes from going against the grain, outperforming everyone, and sometimes driving the competition into the ground. Sam Walton didn't team up with mom-and-pop stores and small grocery chains, and netflix and redbox didn't join hands with local video outlets.

Sure, we went to the moon together, and it took 400,000 people working on Apollo to do it. Elon Musk will probably replicate the feat with a staff of about a thousand. Does Elon benefit from the knowledge gained from Apollo? Certainly he does, but he's already paid for that information when he paid his taxes like the rest of us, and paid vastly more than most of us. And Apollo owes a lot to the private contractors because it benefitted from their in-house initiatives, and they all benefitted from the Nazi V-2 program that killed thousands and thousands of Jews at Dora. So we owe a huge debt to the people who ran a Nazi death camp, many of whom we hired. It's all part of the circle of life, I suppose.

So back to his roads argument, they're pretty useless without cars, and cars are completely useless without gasoline. Should every American feel grateful enough to write a $5,000 check to Ford, Exxon, and BP, or is the fact that we already paid them for the car and the gas enough? Likewise, we already wrote a check for the highways and bridges, and our parents already paid the teacher that helped us out. No man is an island, which is why we pay for stuff, and charge for stuff we sell. If we tried to use some South American Indian cargo system of social obligations, we'd be as poor as South American Indians, because the accounting is imaginary and success is punished by bigger social obligations instead of rewarded. His philosophy is how Africa is run, and we can see how well it works for them.


But we already had to pay for the government infrastructure we built, and the agreement to build it was done with the full knowledge that not everyone would benefit exactly equally. The traveling salesmen and trucking companies profit far more from a stretch of road than a person visiting their grandmother for Thanksgiving.

Among the many ways Obama's assertion falls apart is that the wealthy have been taxes at far higher rates and contribute the majority of government revenues, and thus these construction projects, even though in many cases they actually gain little from an infrastructure project (When was the last time Barbara Streisand used a highway?)

Looking at the very rich, how many are rich and successful because they were especially good at driving down the highway and crossing bridges? How many derived any significant revenue from government public works spending, which by its nature tends to be targeted at programs that will benefit a large swath of society? As for the contractors themselves, the ones who most directly benefit, they already give back huge amounts in the form of bribes and kickbacks.

Obama cited the Internet, which did generate large and unequal revenues, and amazingly claimed that is was created to help businesses. Actually it was illegal to do anything except official government business on the Internet for over a decade, with the exception of innocuous e-mails between colleagues. Sending anything over the Internet for commercial purposes was forbidden and considered anti-social. It wasn't until private industry took over its operations that the Internet became viable. So how much do Internet millionaires owe the government for keeping them locked out of the Internet for a decade and limiting its expansion to only government facilities and universities?

And highways aren't the only infrastructure we use. We all benefit from electricity, phone lines, and gasoline, but what would the public reaction be if your private utility company, phone company, and Exxon campaigned to double your prices in the name of social justice, because you've been benefiting from the services they provide?

Another thing I find nauseating about Obama's statements is that he sounds like a cross between a con-man and a panhandler. You cross the Brooklyn Bridge and get stuck at a stop-light, so he runs out with a squeege and tells you that you're in a fancy car because you haven't paid your full debt on the bridge, from which you benefit daily. So he sticks his hand in the window and demands $5 bucks. He didn't build the bridge, doesn't know who did, doesn't own it, doesn't know who paid for it, but he's using its existence as a hook to extort more money out of you. Obama's message is that some teacher somewhere along the way helped you out, so give him money.

On “A Note for the Sake of Historical Accuracy

Yes, he was most irate about it, and even though it was my housemate's TV, the postman assigned group blame. It's true that acquiring it had been a collective effort. The TV started in Boston, followed a fireman to Kentucky, and got rescued from the sidewalk in front of the fireman's house by my next-door neighbor, whose bedroom wasn't big enough for it. So I called attention to the existence of a giant, unwanted projection TV to the housemate and his friends, who liberated it. Years later, someone gave them a 720P flatscreen, and out the door it went. The Toshiba would've been kicked all the way to the curb immediately, but it takes four people to lift it, so there it sat, violating his sense of order, efficiency, and purpose.

BTW, one of my cousins once viewed a bunch of sailors in a lifeboat as inconvenient to his mission and had them machine-gunned, so we executed him at the Nuremberg trials. (The Peleus Affair with U-852. My mom is an Eck and proud of her cousin for not fingering Donitz). Aside from the oddity of being related to probably the only sub commander ever executed for war crimes, he and his crew of submariners were captured by the Somaliland Camel Corps. It makes me wonder if our own attack sub crews are getting enough training in desert camel combat tactics, just in case a mission goes horribly, bizarrely wrong.

Anyway, I'm not saying the Toshiba Affair is exactly parallel to the Peleus Affair, but the guy was wearing a bluish gray uniform with an eagle on it.

On “I Want The World To Know Nothing Ever Worries Me

Well, it's complicated. Most of the infrastructure was paid for with taxes paid by the top 2% of earners, so everybody really owes them. We also collectively owe all the manufacturers whose initial sales were hurt because we didn't have the infrastructure to support their product. Ford would've been much richer if we had built a network of paved roads and gas stations before his model-T hit the market. We failed him.

Globally, most of the world has immensely benefitted from inventions and innovations made in the West in general, and the US in particular, like powered looms, sewing machines, electricity, telephones, radio, TV, computers, automobiles, airplanes, plastics, antibiotics, vaccines, etc. So the third world owes us a huge debt, and should just give us the bulk of their tax revenues so we can keep on inventing stuff to sell them.

His logic of debt falls apart in so many strange and contradictory ways that it's virtually useless as a starting point for thinking deeply about much of anything. It's more like something that gets brought up in Sunday school class to get the kids to talk about morality for 30 minutes.

On “A Note for the Sake of Historical Accuracy

We had an old Toshiba read-projection TV we were throwing out and it was sitting in front of the mailboxes. He ripped up a junk-mail envelope and wrote a nasty note about how we had to move the TV out of his space ("lebensraum" ) if we wanted our mail delivered on time with proper Aryan efficiency, except it was written in magic marker so he left out the fancy German words.


You should see some of the nasty notes our mail man has left us, written in magic marker!


That was an interesting Atlantic article about the North Korean boy. The comments were interesting too, though there was a bizarre one that wanted the US to adopt communism and use the same concentration camp system here, to force people like Sarah Palin to plant crops using their teeth with their hands tied behind their backs. Yes, some people still want to run death-camps to get rid of the capitalists.


When philosophically tormented by the question "Why do bad things happen to good people?" sometimes a little voice cries out "The victims must not have been good!" That removes the need to lay awake nights wrestling with the disturbing realities of existence.


The main character in Breaking Bad makes crystal meth to pay for his chemotherapy treatments, probably using what the DEA calls "The Nazi Recipe" (meth was developed and heavily used in Nazi Germany to boost their soldiers, and the drug also left a mass of post-war German ex-military meth heads.)

However, Anna Beslaw made the connection between the show's main character and horrible things some people do to survive, and then leaped to the assumption that Holocaust survivors must've done horrible things or they wouldn't be alive. To go from the horror of what was done to the assumption that the starving people were evil is quite an unsupported leap.

Given that the Holocaust was carried out by national socialist government SS workers who liked the snazzy uniforms, steady hours, short commute, free health-care, and generous retirement benefits, if anything it should make you wonder about your mail man, not the old lady in the retirement home with a number on her arm. Or the show might make you wonder whether the SS prison guards were being supplied with crystal meth, and then wonder whether crystal meth is fueling the extreme violence among drug gangs in Mexico (smoking weed doesn't lead to mass decapitations, but crystal meth might).

On “Higher Ed: Profit, Price, & Performance

Well, if we were trying to clean house I don't think I'd start with the for-profits. Degrees in music history or percussion at a public university sound a bit dodgy, especially when most of the majors happen to be on the basketball team.

I knew a university piano professor who tells his students that after the advent of recording, the world only needed about a dozen well paid concert pianists. The rest give piano lessons and play in bars on the side.

On “Why I’m Writing So Much About Bain

From what some of the Bain people have said, he walked away in 1999 and didn't even call or send them memos. He was listed as the head till 2001 because it took them that long to find a buyer. So in terms of engagement, he'd become nothing more than a stockholder.


So Romney might have outsourced a job, but Obama has definitely outsourced jobs, arguably millions of them. Even Obama's campaign bus is foreign made, and Obama's advisors keep their money in offshore accounts. Somehow I don't think this issue is going to swing many votes. All the unemployed college graduates who voted for Obama in 2008 might be another matter. Boy did they get duped.

On “Where Bain Ends And Romney Begins

The DNC attack dogs are the gift that keeps on giving. I'm waiting for one of them to claim that Romney's mother once looked at the cover of a bondage porn magazine, so we can point out that Obama's mother was posing in it and post the pictures.


In response, people dug into Obama's advisors finances. Gee, Valerie Jarret and the rest have their money in offshore accounts and foreign investments. This will be another case where Romney gets attacked for giving his dog a ride on his roof and Obama turns out to eat the little pooches.

*Comment archive for non-registered commenters assembled by email address as provided.