How does one begin to comment about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut?
What can one say about the slaughter of 28 people, 20 of them young children?
Well, let me try if I can.
Like everyone else, I am profoundly saddened, dismayed and bewildered by what happened today. My thoughts are with the families of those who are no longer with us.
I realize that it may be too early for “analysis” especially when the victims haven’t been laid to rest. The following is only intended to try to put what happened today in some kind of perspective.
Given the age of a majority of the victims, I suspect there will be intensified calls for tighter gun control laws and I also suspect there will be greater public support for these measures. The death of young children is very hard to take. What parent doesn’t see themselves in the shoes of those in Newtown? This would include President Obama.
But when President Obama speaks of ” taking meaningful action” it is hard to conceive that he is talking about anything other than stronger gun control laws.
Let me put it this way. If I thought that tougher gun control laws was all it took to prevent this from happening, I would be on board. But easy answers not only never solve the problem they often create more problems.
No gun law can ever abolish evil. Indeed, evil can rise anywhere at anytime. As Bill Hemmer of FNC pointed out there hadn’t been a major crime committed in Newtown in two years. Let us also remember that the gunman shot and killed his own mother before proceeding to the school where his mother worked and then killed all those people.
Sadly, the killing of schoolchildren is not unprecedented in this country. Of course, most people remember Columbine. I particularly remember the 1988 school shooting in Winnetka, Illinois which resulted in the death of eight-year old boy while four of his classmates were seriously wounded. The 2006 school shooting in the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania which resulted in the death of five girls also sticks out in my mind. Unfortunately, this scarcely scratches the surface of the school shootings that have taken place over the past quarter century.
Let’s consider that gun ownership has been part of this country’s history since its founding. The same cannot be said of massacres of this nature. What this tells me is that something has changed in the character of this country over the past 25 years. These changes in character and culture won’t be easy to diagnose as there are multiple symptoms. Even if we do manage to come to a general consensus as to the diagnosis and then somehow find some kind of cure, it will take many years before we can remedy our character. And even if we do that, evil is never far away.
School officials had best get ready: the lesson of the Connecticut mass shootings in a grade school is about to come home to hundreds of such institutions across the United States. A random sampling of school parents in my area of suburban Washington shows no concept of what it takes for a stranger to enter a school.
One says there is a buzzer system. “You ring the buzzer and somebody answers and lets you in.”
Another says, “You first must go to the principal’s office just inside the front entrance.” I didn’t explain that the Connecticut killer’s first victim was the principal, in his office.
True, in some areas the local police have had drills to see how they would handle armed invasions of the local schools. But these do not foresee preventing such entries, only dealing with on-going crimes.
What local parents should do, at risk of being busy-bodies, is inquire of the security system designed to prevent incursions such as the Connecticut instance. Chances are the system is not in place. Schools are thought of as public places, after all.
But the lesson of the Connecticut massacre will not go away. A lesson that all might consider learning.
Having just finished a remarkably good biography of Ben Franklin (by H.W. Brands), I had two different columns out this week about different things we can learn from him these days. The first, for CFIF, noted his insightful thoughts on economics.
The great and wise Franklin, sounding much like an 18th Century Jack Kemp, wrote a fascinating response in 1784 in answer to an English editor accusing Americans of predilections towards luxury. Franklin, despite his own personal frugality, argued that a taste for luxury might not be a bad thing.
“Is not the hope of being one day able to purchase and enjoy luxuries a great spur to labour and industry? May not luxury, therefore, produce more than it consumes?”….
[And Franklin questioned] “the English statutes for the maintenance of the poor. Franklin asked himself whether these laws had not instilled in the poor “a dependence that very much lessens the care of providing against the wants of old age.” He did not question the morality of aiding the poor, only the efficacy. “To relieve the misfortunes of our fellow creatures is concurring with the Deity; ’tis Godlike, but if we provide encouragements for laziness, and supports for folly, may it not be found fighting against the order of God and nature…?”
The other column, for the University of Mobile’s Center for Leadership, detailed more of Franklin’s amazing accomplishments. But, although this is far from an unknown passage, it still bears repeating:
One of Franklin’s most famous speeches from that convention, when tempers were at their worst and the whole proceedings in danger of collapse, bears repeating.I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?
If space had permitted, I would have written much more on Franklin’s notion of “republican [small ‘r’] virtue.” It is a concept we need to revitalize.
What would happen if CBS reporter Dan Rather were punched in the stomach by some goons on live television back in the day? Well, actually, he was. On the floor of the 1968 Democratic Convention. Here’s the clip.
Do you think this was blacked out by CBS? Of course not. Walter Cronkite, sitting up in the anchor booth, exploded in anger on air: “I think we got a bunch of thugs here, Dan” he snapped, the clip later shown over and over.
Has CBS shown what happened to Fox contributor Steven Crowder the other day? When Crowder, like Rather, was punched by “a bunch of thugs”?
Not a prayer. As Newsbusters reports, CBS totally ignored the attack on Crowder, as was true of NBC and ABC.
All of which helps explain why our friends at Fox News have once again spent another year clobbering the liberal cable channels in the ratings.
As the Daily Caller reports here, this makes the 11th year in a row — say again the 11th year in a row — that Fox has beaten the pants off of MSNBC and the once-dominant CNN.
The 2012 data comes as always from the Nielsen Media research folks. And it is indeed amazing data when you consider the hammerlock liberal networks once had in the ratings department.
Fox wins the day outright in eleven out of the first eleven categories in total viewers, and wins the first seven with that always coveted 25-54 demographic.
Our friend Sean Hannity has almost twice or more the audience of his competitors.
In fact, the entire Fox lineup runs the table.Continue reading…
The Spectator receives more than its fair share of junkmail. Most of the time, it’s bland and innocuous. But this one caught my eye.
Unique gift idea: Adopt A Farm Animal!
How are you? I’m reaching out to you today from [COMPANY NAME], America’s largest and most effective farm animal rescue and protection organization, with a special request. It would mean so much to us if you could suggest giving a gift sponsorship of one of [COMPANY’S] rescued animals to your readers as a holiday gift idea. […]
For additional motivation for adopting one of these precious animals, please check out this moving new video starring Steve-O from “Jackass.”
In a Washington Post op-ed, Susan Rice says that she asked President Obama not to consider her for Secretary of State because “it became clear that [her] potential nomination would spark an enduring partisan battle” over her role in the administration’s response to the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. But is that really the whole story?
As Seth Mandel notes over at Commentary, the controversy over Rice’s potential nomination wasn’t strictly partisan, and wasn’t all about Benghazi:
Republicans on the Hill had basically limited their critique of Rice to her misleading statements following the Benghazi attack. Liberals, on the other hand, made it personal. Dana Milbank suggested Rice had an attitude problem. Maureen Dowd said Rice was too ambitious and unprincipled for her own good–or the country’s. Yesterday at the Daily Beast, Lloyd Grove launched a bizarre attack on Rice that accused her of having a personality disorder. The left has also been driving the less personal attacks as well. Howard French said Rice’s Africa legacy is the further empowerment of dictators. Human Rights Watch’s Tom Malinowski knocked Rice for essentially enabling atrocities in Congo.
Meanwhile, it should not go unnoticed that Hillary Clinton made her opposition to Rice clear to officials in Washington, which may explain the avalanche of leaks and criticism and personal sniping that came from the left as soon as the battle commenced.
Rice says in her op-ed that she was speaking in good faith, based on the intelligence she’d seen, when she did her series of interviews the Sunday after the Benghazi attack. I believe her, but that’s hardly the crux of the matter. Why was she given incorrect information? We know that the intelligence community had info indicating that the attack was a planned operation by well-armed terrorist group, not a protest over a YouTube video that spontaneously turned violent. If the intelligence was ambiguous, why did they choose the latter, incorrect narrative rather than the former, correct one? Was the intelligence community’s judgment distorted by political considerations? And then there are other questions surrounding the attack: Why did the State Department deny a request for extra security? Why is the Libyan government too weak to provide reliable security itself, per its Vienna Convention obligations?
Most of these questions have little to do with Susan Rice herself. It may be that the administration is hoping to make the scandal go away by letting Rice fall on her sword; clearly Rice’s op-ed is an attempt to frame things that way. But that may not work — all of those questions remain — and if the administration wanted to fight for Rice, they could have easily made the case that Rice wasn’t responsible for the Benghazi affair. In fact, President Obama made that very case rather vigorously at a press conference last month when he responded to criticism of Rice: “If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody,” he said testily, “they should go after me.”
Now Rice is out of the running. That’s a striking reversal, and I suspect that the attacks from the left play a bigger role than most observers are acknowledging. While the conventional wisdom sees McCain and Graham taking Rice’s scalp, it may well be that much of the credit actually belongs to Hillary Clinton.
“Filling the greatest number of pages with the least amount of
effort is a pretty good definition of journalism.”
— From Jack Shafer, in the sharp press column he writes for Reuters, which you can sign up for.
UN Ambassador Susan Rice has formally withdrawn her name from consideration to be the next Secretary of State. She will remain in her current position.
Despite the strong support of President Obama, Rice could never escape the fact that she repeatedly said the attacks in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 were a spontaneous reaction to the anti-Muslim YouTube video as opposed to a terrorist attack. This did not inspire public confidence nor did she in subsequent meetings inspire the confidence of key members of the Senate especially that of Susan Collins.
The liberal media portrayed the criticisms of Rice as part of “the war on women” targetting John McCain and Lindsey Graham for scorn. But if Rice had been nominated, it would have been interesting to see what role Collins would have played during the confirmation hearings.
In her letter to Obama, Rice stated, “The position of secretary of state should never be politicized.”
Of course, what she really means is that Republicans have no right to criticize the public statements of a cabinet official in a Democratic administration.
President Obama decried the “unfair and misleading attacks” on Rice but in reality he is breathing a sigh of relief. As long as Rice was under consideration, it kept Benghazi in the public arena. Perhaps not on the front page but still a part of the public discourse. Now that Rice is out of the picture, Benghazi will be joining her.
Chances are Obama will now appoint John Kerry who will be easily confirmed. The Senate isn’t going reject one of their own.
Outfielder Josh Hamilton has signed a five-year, $125-million contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
First, C.J. Wilson. Now Hamilton. Boy, now the AL West rivalry between the Angels and Texas Rangers is really going to intensify.
Let’s see if I get this right. Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton in the same lineup.
The Angels have had a busy off-season adding Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson to the starting rotation and arming the bullpen with Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett.
But Hamilton is a big coup indeed.
Hamilton spent five seasons with the Rangers winning the AL MVP in the 2010 season. In 2012, he hit .285 with 43 homeruns and 128 RBI in 2012 including a 4 homerun game against the Baltimore Orioles.
However, the Rangers faded at the end of the season and were beaten by the upstart Oakland A’s for the AL West title. Hamilton dropped a fly ball in the series finale against the A’s much to the dismay of Rangers manager Ron Washington. The Rangers had to settle for one of the two AL Wild Card spots and were subsequently beaten by the Orioles.
Obviously, the Angels are taking a risk given Hamilton’s history of substance abuse and injuries. But for five years, it is a risk worth taking.
Is it common for a re-elected president supposedly riding high to so quickly see a likely key cabinet nominee withdraw from the fray? Now that Susan Rice has withdrawn her name for consideration as America’s next Secretary of State, a more interesting matter is why she will continue to serve as America’s — oops, make that President Obama’s — ambassador to the United Nations.
“As my Ambassador to the United Nations, she plays an indispensable role in advancing America’s interests,” President Obama’s statement said in response to Rice’s withdrawal, before adding: “I am grateful that Susan will continue to serve as our Ambassador at the United Nations and a key member of my cabinet and national security team…” Not so fast, one would think. Wouldn’t what disqualifies her as a successor to Secretary of State Clinton also disqualify her from representing America in any other forum?
Meanwhile, we now face the prospect of a Swiftboat Secretary of State. If you didn’t read Seth Lipsky on John Kerry last week in the Wall Street Journal, it’s not too late to read him now. Will we be missing Susan Rice before this is all over?
There’s been a lot of fuss recently from respected libertarian thinkers like J.D. Tuccille and Jonathan Adler about whether or not right to work laws are libertarian. They are offensive to the principle of freedom of contract, the argument goes, and so no right-thinking free marketeer should support them.
Up to a point, Lord Copper. Tuccille and co. are right that they are offensive to freedom of contract. Should an employer so wish, he should be able to enter in to an exclusive negotiating arrangement with a union and require that all his or her employees join that union if they want to have a job at that company.
So far so good. Yet the possibility of such arrangement does not exist. The default position of federal labor law is that if a union gains a simple majority of votes cast in a workplace (50 percent plus one), it is authorized as the exclusive bargaining representative for all workers in that bargaining unit, including those who voted against the union. This is also demonstrably unlibertarian.
States cannot overturn U.S. law. That is why, as my colleague Ivan Osorio explains, states pass right to work laws. They are the only practical option for those who find the framework damaging to worker freedom.
Yes, it would be better to repeal or reform the Wagner Act, but that is extremely unlikely to happen at present. Passage of right to work laws allows some relief from that oppressive statute and also makes the eventual reform of the Wagner Act much more likely. When enough states have passed right to work laws (there are currently 24, including Michigan) then there might be enough groundswell to overcome the entrenched opposition of the union bosses in D.C.
As CEI founder Fred Smith has said, when you are in enemy territory the route back to safety is not always a straight line.
This morning I read the title of Doug Bandow’s piece on the homepage, “North Korea’s Rocket Man,” and I’ve had this song stuck in my head ever since:
Kim packed my bags last night preflight
Zero hour, 9 a.m.
And I’m going to high as Unha-3 by then
I miss the Earth so much, I miss Jong Il
It’s lonely out in space
On such a timeless flight
If you’re up for it, contribute your own verses in the comments.
Sitar player extraordinaire Ravi Shankar died on Tuesday from complications following heart surgery. He was 92.
Although the Indian born Shankar had performed all over the globe for many years, it wasn’t until his association with George Harrison of The Beatles that Shankar became an international superstar in his own right. Although Shankar has long been associated with the Quiet Beatle, it was actually Roger McGuinn of the Byrds who introduced the two at the home of Zsa Zsa Gabor in 1965. To have been a fly on the wall at that party.
Shankar was also the father of singer Norah Jones although they had a distant relationship.
Here is Shankar blowing away minds at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival including those of Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas and Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees.
Kevin Youkilis has signed a one-year contract with the New York Yankees worth $12 million.
Say it ain’t so.
He will play third in the absence of Alex Rodriguez who will miss much of the 2013 season due to hip surgery.
Youk had a tumultuous 2012 season. He and Bobby Valentine simply did not click. Bobby V. did not endear himself to his players nor Red Sox Nation when he questioned Youk’s hustle.
In his final appearance with the Sox on June 24th, Youk hit a triple and left the game to a standing ovation. Following the game, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox. Shortly thereafter, Youk returned to Fenway in pale Sox and earned standing ovation after standing ovation. Youk had a productive tenure with the Chisox but they faded in the last two weeks of the season and missed the playoffs. The White Sox subsequently declined the option on his contract which was worth $13 million.
Yet it must be remembered the Youk trade even became political fodder when President Obama made the mistake of telling a crowd of supporters at Boston’s Symphony Hall, “Thanks for Youkilis.” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney insisted that the Boston faithful were chanting “Youkkkk”. Um, no.
Well, the “Youkkkks” will turn to “Youkkkk suck” when Youk shows up at Fenway in a Yankee uniform. Strangely, the Yankees don’t make their first visit to Fenway after the 2013 All-Star Game. Well, it’ll make things that much more dramatic.
Is it possible that Youkilis is the Yankees’ first Jewish player since Ken Holtzman?
Steven Crowder, in the thick of the crowd in Lansing, Michigan, protesting the passage of a right-to-work law, asks some labor union guys why they oppose right to work. Within seconds they physically attack him. (Take a look here)
Crowder, just off the Hannity radio show, will be on Hannity’s Fox News TV show tonight to discuss.
A reminder of just how deeply dependent progressive politics — from the Ku Klux Klan to the Weathermen activists of Bill Ayers fame to Occupy Wall Street to these labor union thugs — are on physical violence to intimidate their opponents.
Take a long good look — and listen to Steven Crowder’s account of all this. Stunning… if not surprising.
The announcement that 20 F-16s are being given to Egypt, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer, should be of interest to senators already uneasy about the president’s widely reported choice of Susan Rice for Secretary of State, replacing the retiring Mrs. Hillary Clinton.
Wasteful public spending is not a primary concern of the State Department, though one assumes it is held accountable for waste within its own precincts, as are, surely, all the other federal departments and agencies, renowned for the self-sacrificing frugality in the finest spirit of ‘76. And to be sure, recommendations on what military hardware to give foreigners is not tasked to State, but, again, one assumes State has its say in these matters, particularly in a region like the Middle East where the balance of power is a permanent U.S. concern.
Many questions are raised by the administration’s decision to go forward with this high-military-tech transfer, approved two years ago for a rather different Egyptian regime, that of Hosni Mubarak. Since then certain events have happened in Egypt and Mr. Mubarak is out, incarcerated and awaiting sentencing for all kinds of crimes imputed him by the springtime Robespierres who overthrew him in the name of democracy.
So the first question for any high-ranking nominee whose brief includes foreign policy might be this: “For what does the Morsi government in Egypt need F-16s — one of the best fighter planes in the world?”
“Well,” the answer might be, after all the equivocations and sophistries about how this was a done deal and we cannot go back on our word and etcetera, “to defend themselves.”
The Morsi regime does not need F-16s to defend itself against insurgents, should there eventually be an insurgent movement in Egypt. To be sure, the Assad regime has been using fighter aircraft against insurgents, striking even targets in densely populated urban centers. Senators should be ready with a follow up, to wit, “Do you expect the Morsi government to be at war with its own people soon, and do you think it should be U.S. policy to help it prevail by raining down death from the sky?”
On the other hand, if that is our policy, I mean if it is our policy to help Morsi with such a policy, F-16s are not the weapons system of choice, so a line of questioning might be prepared to ask why alternative aircraft are not being proposed to the no doubt grateful and beholden Egyptians.
But the question senators must eventually get to is the one that would go to the heart of both matters — the matter of a new secretary and the matter of taxpayer paid military support for the Morsi regime: What should the U.S. demand of this government?
The aim of foreign policy is to protect American interests, of which at the very top are our security and the security of our allies. We have only one ally in the part of the world Egypt bestrides, the junction of Africa and the Near East, namely: Israel. So the only question to put to the nominee, which is really a question to the president, is this: Can you guarantee that the Morsi government will never use F-16s against Israel? Either you cannot, in which the administration in which you wish to serve is putting American security at risk; or you can, but in that case there is no justification for a gift to Egypt worth hundreds of millions, unless you can demonstrate that Egypt may soon find itself at war against another of its neighbors — which would mean an Arab nation or an African one. Why we should assist either side in such a conflict with one of our best fighters is a question that answers itself.
Here’s something for your Sunday: Father Robert Sirico’s short sermon on Ayn Rand’s misguided “moral passion” and John Galt’s “false gospel.”
I describe it here. Of course, one major figure merits particular attention: “Christian Amanpour is particularly obnoxious, repeatedly portraying the U.S. as a thug or bully, or at least otherwise immoral and a ‘bad guy’ on the world stage.”
This anti-U.S. bias is inexcusable.