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Defense Free Zones

Virginia Tech report reverberations. Also: Bush bashed down under. Mookie and the Wilsonians. Derbyshire's science. Plus more.

9.10.07

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DOWN UNDER DEMOCRAT
Re: Jay D. Homnick's International Dating Lines:

Having just wrapped up another wooly APEC meeting filled with hot air and not much else in Sydney, George W. Bush returned to Washington. Many eyebrows were raised by the Bush visit, mostly because of his stunning lack of diplomatic protocol, his constant gaffes and childlike behavior. Now the Australian PM John Howard and many Australians appreciate the down to earth, blokey personality of the President, myself included, but at a meeting of such powerhouses as Russia, China and Japan, the President showed himself to be out of his league.
-- Nathan Maskiell
Melbourne, Australia

IGNORANCE IS NO EXCUSE
Re: Robert VerBruggen's Irresponsibly Gun Shy:

Robert VerBruggen writes of the Virginia Tech's panel's assertion, "If innocent students had been carrying guns that day, 'the possibility of accidental or mistaken shootings would have increased significantly.' The panel doesn't provide any evidence for this statement, and it doesn't point to a single case where a concealed carry permit holder tried to stop an attack but shot the wrong person."

Mr. VerBruggen nails not only the fundamentally non-objective and emotional nature of the panel's report, but also the fundamental difference between "us" and "them." "We" are not only willing to ask "how do we [i]know[/i] something is true" but that such a question and subsequent answer is absolutely essential for any intelligent critical reasoning. "They" never ask the question and thus are never obliged to provide the answer; for "them" it is entirely a matter of faith, not in God, but in their own unquestioned "reasoning."

This pattern holds true for all issues affecting the nation, be it considering the right and wisdom of armed citizens, carrying the fight to the enemy versus waiting for another loaded 767 to be flown into a defenseless civilian target, taxing those who earn and transferring to those who do not, failing to secure the borders, using the power of the state to prefer one race, sex or ethnicity over another, facing the impending bankrupt nature of Social Security, facing the government engineered collapse of privately financed health care, etc.

Walter Williams, Professor of Economics at George Mason University, and Rush Limbaugh pinch hitter without peer, delights in observing that "ignorance is something I can fix, but only God can correct stupidity." Surely the Virginia Tech panel was aware of the facts that Robert VerBruggen had at his fingertips; ignorance could not possibly be the excuse. It is with regret one must conclude that the second clause of the Williams Dictum must be compelled, and that only God can help defenseless Virginia Tech students.

How is it that the Virginia House of Delegates, that at one time threw down the gauntlet to the government entity that was on the road to becoming first the greatest industrial power and then the greatest military power the world has ever seen, and in an earlier time had seen and heard the likes of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Patrick Henry, could have become the people who today require under pain of law that its college students remain pathetically defenseless? Oh right, it's the fault of all those damn Yankees who moved into the northern suburbs. Open borders, anyone?
-- Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

In Mr. Robert VerBruggen's excellent analysis of the Virginia Tech's panel report he writes, ."..'the possibility of accidental or mistaken shootings would have increased significantly.' The panel doesn't provide any evidence for this statement, and it doesn't point to a single case where a concealed carry permit holder tried to stop an attack but shot the wrong person." and "It's at least plausible that the police could have mistaken an armed student for the killer."

Mr. VerBruggen is slightly in error in his second statement but probably knows it. It's not only plausible but more likely the police will shoot the wrong person rather than the perp or shoot unnecessarily. If my memory serves, it was in Dr. Gary Kleck, a card-carrying ACLU member (but an intellectually honest liberal), who in his seminal work, Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America (1991), set out to prove the case for gun control but instead found, and published, irrefutable facts that countered just about everything he thought he "knew" about guns, violence and self-defense where the answer lies to Mr. VerBruggen's assertion. One of the interesting tidbits Dr. Kleck uncovered is that the police have a higher, almost double (cannot recall the exact stats but I think they're approximately 3% citizen vs. 5% police) error rate in shooting the wrong person.

Of course, a professor (or politician) needs to do an exhaustive study to learn what any normal person could figure out quite easily with a little imagining. The citizen is on the spot under threat by the perp (it's also useful to know that something like 90%+ of gunfights take place within 7 feet) whereas the police show up after the fact, sometimes substantially so relative to the pace of events and must sort out the situation, who the respective players are and then bag the bad guy. It only stands to reason they can and will make more mistakes in identifying not only the perp but the then current level of threat he poses. It's not a diabolical plot by bloodthirsty police and mine is not a criticism but simply the reality of human events.

More troubling is the panel's mention of the real possibility of a gun wielding good samaritan being shot by police. This can be laid at the feet of overzealous authorities many of whom have succumbed to the modern hysteria of the gun control impulse in which the very possession of a gun by a citizen is perceived as a threat and little or no attempt at making distinctions are made. The fact is guns are used millions of times annually to legitimately protect life and limb by law abiding citizens who have more than proven their level headedness in possessing and handling an instrument of life and death, including this one.
-- Mark Shepler
Jupiter, Florida

"The campus police said that the probability would have been high that anyone emerging from a classroom...holding a gun would have been shot."

Quick, someone tell the FBI, Customs, DEA, police detectives, and other plain clothes officers to disarm -- to prevent being shot by a trigger happy campus cop.

Mr. VerBruggen is right on all points, and to that, one may add that the fantasy of the Cho's of the world is to dominate and control other people before committing suicide. The prospect of a would be victim not playing along and putting an end to the attempted domination, would be their worst nightmare. That prospect alone would be enough to discourage these rampages. That is why they uniformly occur where victims are prohibited the means to fight back. Before his death, one is certain that Mr. Cho would have endorsed a Virginia Tech style report as perfectly fitting in with his plans. The universities provide the victims, the Cho's provide the murder, and a law-abiding gun collector in Omaha takes the rap.
-- D. Lewis
Nashville, Tennessee

The Virginia Tech panel's report states, "the possibility of accidental or mistaken shootings would have increased significantly" if concealed carry permit holders could have carried defensive weapons. Better I guess that 32 people be murdered on purpose than 1 'accidental or mistaken shooting' occur.

And "The campus police said that the probability would have been high that anyone emerging from a classroom... holding a gun would have been shot." Again, I presume it's more honorable to have only your head to hold in your hands before being shot.

The truth, painfully repeated every time something like this occurs, is that when restrictive gun laws are enacted, only law abiding citizens are prohibited from carrying them. Perhaps the panel could ask any victim of violence in Great Britain whether their laws are working.
-- Tim Jones
Cordova, Tennessee

"Gun Free School Zone" policies are implemented with the best of intentions and the worst of results. It is myopic, tragic, and even criminally negligent to refuse to recognize that the presence of good guns will actually save lives. Why do police have guns? Some members of the law abiding citizenry might even take it upon themselves to arm themselves with total disregard to the laws and regulations that make them and their friends vulnerable to the evil ones among us.
-- David Shoup
Fort Gordon, Georgia

A QUESTION FOR RUDY
Re: Jennifer Rubin's Be Prepared:

Will he allow Federal Agencies to act like terrorist and break Federal Laws and endanger the lives and economy of an area like South Florida?

I am talking about the FAA breaking the homeland security act of 2002, Presidential directives 7 & 8, and the NIPP of 2006.

I do have an open case with the inspector general's office of the DOT. It has been an on going investigation since Jan 2007. All supporting documentation is on a website www.faahope.com
-- Hope C. Gramlich
Coconut Creek, Florida

MOOKIE AND THE WILSONIANS
Re: George H. Wittman's Muktada Al-Sadr: Kingmaker or King:

The Mookie problem should have been solved back in 03 or 04 when we were originally going to take care of it, but instead our national political leadership wouldn't allow it. This is a graphic illustration of why PC war fighting is wrong. If you are not willing to do what is necessary to actually win, then do not go to war in the first instance.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

"Mookie" may want power in all of Iraq, but it isn't going to happen. The quarter million Kurdish Peshmerga will not roll over, the Sunni's may have lost their stranglehold on power, but their not morons and the majority of Shia aren't stupid. As for his vaunted Mahdi militia they may be effective in killing unarmed civilians and good Muslim clerics (the murder of Ayatollah Majid al-Khoei was America's greatest setback in Iraq), but for real men like our troops they make excellent targets. His recent calls for a cessation of hostilities is just more evidence that we're winning in Iraq.

"Mookie" may see himself as another Ayatollah Khomeini, but he's little more than a two perp. Of course, with Democrat's reaching back to their Jimmy Carter playbook to guide US Middle East policy it is possible that a President Mrs. Bill Clinton could make him another dangerous anti-American dictator (never discount the dumbness of Democrat foreign policy decisions). Prayerfully, conservatives and Republicans will forestall the ambitions of both megalomaniacs -- "Mookie" and Hillary.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

PARADE CHARADE
Re: Peter Hannaford's Parade in NYC on 9/9 -- Why?:

Geez. One wonders what the folks in charge of scheduling New York City's parades were thinking when they allowed the rescheduling of the United American Muslim Day Parade for 9/9 instead of the traditional last Sunday in September. No doubt this good liberal city worker wanted to show how tolerant the city is.

Our country and our cities don't need to show how tolerant we are. We were attacked by radical Muslims on 9/11/01 in New York City. They're lucky FDR wasn't the president or Muslims might have been rounded up and put into camps like the Japanese were after Pearl Harbor. That didn't happen, and that alone shows our country's tolerance.

When will American Muslim groups such as CAIR show their tolerance for America's freedom of speech? When will they respect the 9/11 dead by not offending the city and the country by having a parade to stick in our faces right before that anniversary? When will they respect the country in which they live? What are they doing? Apparently Keith Ellison has learned how to play the liberal victim card. That's what they are doing -- slight of hand -- feel sorry for us, don't criticize us, don't blame us. Racist America is blaming poor little Muslims, profiling Muslims. Racist America is much worse than the poor little "freedom fighters" we call terrorists.

Don't fall for it.
-- Deborah Durkee
Marietta, Georgia

SHAM ENFORCEMENT
Re: Jeffrey Lord's Obama, UCC Draw IRS Complaint:

Look, can we talk. Can anyone cite for me one Democrat/Liberal candidate who has NOT addressed a church group on behalf of their candidacy? For Heaven sake, it happens all the time. Obama and Ms. Hillary have both addressed church audiences from the physical pulpit of black churches regarding their campaigns. Black churches across this nation have been providing a physical pulpit within the church sanctuaries for a multitude of Democrat candidates for decades. Nothing substantial has ever been done about it, nor will ever be done about it. The government bureaucrats at the IRS are darn sure not going to get serious about this complaint, not against their own favorite political party.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

SCIENCE'S DESIGN
Re: John Derbyshire letter and Tom Bethell's reply in Reader Mail's Designs on Creationism, as well as Scott Monro's letter (under "Fossil Evidence") in Reader Mail's Hillary's Oriental Mysteries:

Mr. Derbyshire seems to misunderstand science. He states that what should be taught in schools is consensus science. However, the essence of science is criticism and skepticism, and reason, not consensus. Science is the devising of theories to explain phenomena that make testable predictions, and then testing the theory. No theory is ever final. Consensus is hard to define. Go back to Newton. Is light a wave or a particle? Newton produced a lot of evidence that light was a wave, but nevertheless maintained that light was a particle. James Clerck Maxwell wrote the electromagnetic equations in the 19th century and it was consensus that light was an electromagnetic wave. Since it needed a medium to transmit the electromagnetic wave, the ether was conceptualized, and declared the most definitive thing in the universe. One problem: it didn't exist. Scientists twisted themselves in to such pretzels trying to explain the ether, and the Michelson-Morley experiments that seemed to show that something else was going on, that they devised the Lorentz contractions to mathematically explain why there was no doppler shift noted when the light beam was rotated 90 degrees. There was also the little matter of the ultraviolet catastrophe, as Maxwell's equations predicted an infinite amount of radiation from a black body. Max Planck almost got there, but didn't cross the quantum threshold because light was too well-established as a wave for him to resurrect the idea of a particle of light. Einstein, the outsider, had to do the dirty deed with his demonstration of the photo-electric effect that resurrected the particle theory of light and gave us quantum theory and then added special relativity to explain the negative results of the Michaelson-Morley experiments, using the Lorentz' contractions on time and space. Then he devised general relativity, which was accepted based on observations of eclipses suggesting that light (space-time) was bent by gravity as predicted. Only General Relativity and Quantum theory are completely incompatible (hence the failure to devise a "theory of everything" thus far) so we know we haven't arrived at the final understanding of even the most basic aspects of the Universe. Einstein preferred General Relativity and never did quite accept Quantum theory, as it suggested the possibility of information transfer faster than the limiting speed of light (Quantum entanglement). He apparently felt he had to chose one, and went with the most rational and mathematical theory. Both prove to be highly accurate and predictive in their appropriate spheres, however, the two greatest scientific theories ever devised. With evolution, we don't understand fully the origin of life, let alone consciousness, so we know we don't have the final story. It is interesting that the father of modern cognitive psychology, Jean Piaget, was a biologist of the French Vitalist school of the early to mid-20th century, and postulated an "Organizing Function" to explain what he thought was the altogether too rapid and effective course of evolution. He focused on human cognitive ability as the most overt manifestation of this "Organizing Function" and viola', one has modern psychology, born of a vitalist, semi-religious view of biology! Why isn't that taught in school? Either because the scholars don't know it, or are very loathe to acknowledge it, apparently.

One would have to say that the most remarkably irrational belief ever devised by materialist scientists, and perhaps by Man in all of history, is the idea that the entire Universe (time, space, matter, energy) came in to existence out of absolutely nothing (no time, no space, no matter, no energy) for no reason at all in a single instant some 15 billion years ago. Here one would have to say that rational scientists must have lost their minds. Only good evidence points to just such an event. Creationists, however, appear vastly more reasonable to assert that some infinite entity that is beyond our comprehension and beyond space and time engendered that instant and all of this. At least the scientists will admit that the moment of beginning is beyond their capacity to address (a naked singularity in the equations, undefined, zero divided by zero or infinity divided by infinity). So ultimately, both get to the same place, only the creationists remain consistent in that a prime mover is postulated, whereas no prime mover or prime anything is advanced by the scientists. Zero. Zip. Nada. Not even a theory (which couldn't be tested anyway, so the scientists are consistent in not advancing a theory that they couldn't test). Just a completely inexplicable event for no reason at all. Yes, very satisfying.

So we continue to see through a glass darkly, and are ever learning, but never coming to a knowledge of the truth. Ah, the perplexities of the mortal coil! Perhaps some day the prime mover will by consensus go the way of the ether (we're well along that path), but we still have inexplicable dark matter or dark energy to contemplate, while the universe's inexplicably accelerating expansion accelerates (forever? -- eventually to faster than the speed of light?). So why isn't it a consensus that, like General Relativity and Quantum Theory, two seemingly incompatible perspectives on the Universe may both be acceptable in their respective spheres? Science does not require atheism, although many might claim so. Religion does not reject Science. Indeed, in postulating a relation of Man to an infinite Deity, Religion demands that human capacities of Reason be validated. Some Christian religions assert boldly in their theology that the Divine origin of Man requires the full use of human cognitive power, such as it is, with definite limitations, to investigate and understand the physical world to the extent possible. Science grew out of Christian theology coupled with Greek rationalism, which in turn was mystic in its origins (see the Pythagoreans, mystic numerologists who gave us the first quantum theory and a thoroughgoing rationalism, indeed engendered the rise of Greek rationalism from a base of numerological mysticism). So the Science-Religion thing seems to be recursive. And who transferred all that Greek rationalism to the Christian world? Islam! Boy are we in a confusing and muddled quandary. The pragmatic approach is to not get too dogmatic in any direction while keeping the infinite in mind in all directions. Santayana said it well: "Our knowledge is a torch of smokey pine that lights the pathway but one step ahead, across a void of mystery and dread. Bid, then, the tender light of faith to shine, by which alone the mortal mind is led unto the thinking of the thought Divine."
-- Kent J. Lyon
College Station, Texas

Just read John Derbyshire's condescending bit of "flapdoodle" in the latest Spectator and I had to fire a few shots of my own. Some guys can try to sound flip and cute and carry it off but Derb just sounded like a jughead.

If he's convinced that some 19th century mix of pre-science and archeo-biology is still high science, have at it John. Just keep your foolishness out of my schools. Science has come a long way since Darwin. By the way. the earth is round and the moon isn't made of green cheese.

Just to clarify a few points however:

ID doesn't generally consider the origins of life, just the developmental process. But the universe had it's Big Bang, hey, why not life? If you still think that someone's going to do it by zapping a bowl of Campbells Noodle Soup, with a set of jumper cables and a Die Hard and come out with DNA, John, knock yourself out!!

Darwinism just doesn't cut it. Mathematically the chances for complex life evolving in a chance based process with the non-specific ratchet of increased survivability are vanishingly small, especially in the short time period involved. And DNA, the blueprint for life had to exist before even the simplest one celled organism. How did something so complex form and evolve?

We should be immersed in a sea of missing fossil links, but we're not. The fossil record is woefully incomplete. Where are they?

John doesn't like complexity arguments either, i.e., how long, involved, multi-part, evolutionary and totally useless structures (like half an eye) , are not weeded out by the Darwinian ratchet. He could explain it. But maybe not.
-- John T. O'Connor
Wallingford, Connecticut
P.S. John puts a lot of faith in court decisions to decide on the validity of ID. Well, I guess that settles that!! He's got me there.

Re: Tom Bethell's reply to John Derbyshire and Scott Monroe's comments.

Mr. Monroe has confused Intelligent Design with creationism. Proof of common descent might be a problem for a creationist, but it has no bearing on the question of Intelligent Design. Creationists take their guide from the bible, but ID is based on science. Many proponents of ID accept common descent, many do not.

The webpage Mr. Monroe so smugly points to, assembles many facts, but is guilty of "Begging the Question" when it tries to use these facts as evidence. This is the error of using that which is to be proven as proof of his conclusion. To prove Darwin correct, evidence of mutations increasing information in the organism must be presented. Such cases as development of antibiotic resistance do not qualify, as these are actually a result of a decrease in information. Resistance usually is the result of the bacteria losing the ability to do something. Under Darwin's theory life proceeded from simple forms that do not have circulatory systems, nervous systems, sexuality, wings, bones or the ability to spin webs or compose poetry, and by mutations selected because they improve survival rates, arrive at Einstein and Darwin himself. When scientists can breed worms with bones or dogs with feathers, (by selection, without using our creative intelligence) Darwin's theory cannot be proven.
-- David Moshinsky

The ultimate solution to Mr. Derbyshire's issue is for each state to decide how much money to spend per pupil, tax the population appropriately to raise that sum and then send each child's guardian a voucher for that amount. Let each parent pick the best possible solution for their child and let the chips fall.

I as a Christian resent my tax dollar being spent to teach Mr. Derbyshire's RELIGION of secular humanism which is being taught every day in every way in the public schools. Why is his religion acceptable while mine is banished?
-- Jeff Seyfert
Columbia, Missouri

WRONG RON
Re: Mark Fallert's letter (under "Mr. Excitement") in Reader Mail's Hillary's Oriental Mysteries:

Granted we all wish to have our favorite candidate nominated next year at the Republican convention, but it's extremely unlikely that Ron Paul would be able to win a national election. Conservatives and mainstream Republicans have GOT to think about who can best defeat Hillary. If they don't start thinking in those terms, we could have 16 years of socialist-Marxist-Democrat Presidents.

It will soon be time to "get real." Personally, I like Mitt and Fred, but I have a feeling Rudy has the best chance to beat HRC. And that's what matters most, folks.
-- Sue Gray
Roswell, Georgia

PATIENCE PAYS OFF
Re: John Tabin's The Man Who Wasn't There and Lisa Fabrizio's Fredheads:

By the way, I think congratulations are now in order for Lisa Fabrizio. When last we wrote her about Mr. Thompson ("Fredheads"), it was to encourage her to calm down and let the boy do the asking. Well, he did, Lisa. Did you accept? But, of course you did, dear, and I'm proud of you.

Fred '08! (because somebody's got to do it),
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

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