Gun Control Laws Only Control the Law Abiding

Just like the majority of police officers who never have to fire their gun during the course of a career, most civilians will never be shot at while watching a movie, browsing in a shopping mall or attending school. But for those few that do have the misfortune to be an unwilling participant in an ambush here are a few rules of thumb you may find useful.

The police can’t protect you. The Aurora, CO police force is a fine, highly motivated department — I know because the police association was formerly my client. There were officers already at the theatre for the midnight showing of Batman to deal with the anticipated crowd. Only 90 seconds elapsed between the first 911 call and officer’s arrival on scene. This is a spectacular response time. Yet 12 people were already dead and 58 wounded. Which is why they are called “first responders” and not “first preventers.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D–Disarmed) won’t protect you. Feinstein wants Congress to renew her “assault weapons” ban. “Assault weapons” or “assault rifles” are no different from regular rifles, they only look scary. For example: the bayonet lug on the muzzle. (Yet, when is the last time you read of bayonet wounds during one of these attacks?)

“Assault weapon” is simply a propaganda term designed to alarm the public. Federal law already bans machine guns, which are authentic military assault weapons. The Washington Times points out FBI figures “show just 358 of the 8,775 murders by firearm in 2010 involved rifles of any type. By comparison, 745 people were beaten to death…but no one has called for outlawing fists.”

Cinemark won’t protect you. Colorado citizens with a permit are allowed to carry a concealed weapon. Cinemark corporate minions know themselves to be much wiser than a mere legislator, so they banned weapons inside the theatre. Sure enough not one of the law–abiding citizens had a gun, but the law–breaker had plenty. Cinemark is already being sued, but it’s the wrong lawsuit. What we need is for Cinemark know–it–alls to be sued by a permit holder left defenseless by their asinine policy.

Gun–Free Zones = Sitting–Duck Zones. When is it going to dawn on liberal gun–grabbers that gun–free zones only notify the shooter he won’t be subject to return fire? One gun owner in the audience could have made all the difference. At Columbine the police officer assigned to the school engaged those two shooters before they went inside.

During the brief gunfight, the shooters were so rattled they couldn’t even hit the cruiser the officer was crouched behind! These cowards don’t want to die, they want you to die. If the Aurora gunman had heard a round whizz past his ear it could have changed the entire complexion of the evening.

Unless you’ve been shot and can’t get away, avoid talking to the media. “Father of the Year” nominee Jamie Rohrs is a perfect example. During an interview with CNN, Rohrs described his reaction when the shooting started. “My son’s on the floor, as I turned to, like, find Ethan in the dark of the theater, with the gas, like, I’m so disoriented and I lose him, I just lose him. Then he opens fire again. So I jump, and I run.”

During the time three other men are dying while they shield their girlfriends from the bullets — and are consequently unavailable for interview— Jamie thinks, like, “feets, don’t fail me now” and leaves his 4–month–old rolling around on the floor, like, during a stampede. Safely outside he generously hopes his son and his girlfriend get out alive. Fortunately, his girlfriend only had a “small bullet wound” so Rohrs subsequently proposed to her in the hospital. I’m sure the ceremony will be fine unless when Jamie says, “until fear of death do us part” brings back bad memories for his girlfriend.

Only you can save you. I urge conservatives reading this to apply for a concealed carry permit and take the training necessary to use a gun to defend yourself and your family. Liberals, who believe merely being in the same room with a gun — let alone owning one — is sign of serious mental illness, are more difficult to advise. Progressives might try shopping at pawn brokers. Employees are usually armed, which deters shooters. Or stay at home and use Amazon. Always sit near the exit in theatres. Wear a bullet–proof vest. Avoid hip–hop concerts or events that attract hip–hop performers. Marry a police officer. Stay hydrated. (Whoops, wrong column.)

Penn State: A Season in Purgatory

Possible location of the new JoePa memorial shower?

On Saturday, September 8th, the University of Virginia has a once–in–a–lifetime opportunity to demonstrate how an institution obeys the same honor code that governs its students.

The Cavaliers can prove to the world that UVA’s honor code is more than mere words when they refuse to play their football game against Penn State.

But wait, you say, that would be premature. The NCAA has not made its decision regarding possible sanctions. So what. That’s like the 37 neighbors who heard Kitty Genovese screaming for help while being stabbed to death, claiming they didn’t want to get involved because the police hadn’t begun an investigation.

One of the core values at UVA is “honor and integrity.” What’s more, “students are expected to hold themselves and their peers to high standards inside and outside the classroom and to engage ethically in their local, national and international communities.”

How can the university hold its students to a standard it’s not willing to meet? Playing Penn State means turning a blind eye to depravity and what the Freeh report termed “the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims.” An individual or institution cannot associate with the dishonorable without tarnishing its own honor.

What Joe Paterno and the See No, Hear No and Speak No Evil cabal did at Penn State was against the law and the laws of decency, but it did not violate NCAA rules. The only role for the NCAA in this scandal is allowing any Penn State player who wishes to transfer to do so without losing a second of eligibility.

Any “death penalty” sanctions the NCAA might take are outside its authority and simply unnecessary if the universities on Penn State’s football schedule live up to the bromides they broadcast to students.

One of the many problems undermining the country’s future is American passivity. We sit and wait for government or some outside “authority” to take action while we check The Drudge Report to see if anything has happened. We don’t trust our instincts on almost anything. We rely on “experts” who tell us how to raise our children, train our dogs and relate to our fellow man.

In the face of great outrage a self–reliant person or institution can and should act individually to try and repair the fabric of society. I believe the operative phrase is “think globally, act locally.”

Sure, refusing to play Penn State and urging the other schools to do the same requires a little more effort and commitment than starting a Facebook page, but the result is much more impressive.

Still I can hear the administration’s objections. Refusing to play the game will result in lost revenue for the football team. What that excuse tells students is UVA’s convictions are rock–solid as long as they are convenient and cost free. Besides this reasoning is eerily similar to the rationalizations Paterno and his shower sleuths used to justify refusing to report child rape to the police.

Where I grew up a decision by UVA to live by its honor code and refuse to associate with a football program defined by lies and exploitation is called putting your money where your mouth is. (Here in Washington I believe the term is a “fiscal commitment demonstration project.”)

Then there is the legal excuse: UVA has a signed contract; the school is committed.  Then break the contract. Surely it contains a “moral turpitude” clause, and if not I’ll contribute to UVA’s legal defense fund.

There is, however, a solution to the revenue problem that allows UVA to maintain its honor. Instead of playing Penn State, UVA plays the University of Ohio, which is Penn State’s first opponent. The Bobcats expected to be annihilated by Penn State anyway; so visiting Charlottesville merely changes the locale of the execution.

Once UVA and Ohio refuse to play Penn State the pressure not to play begins to cascade on the remaining schools. Positive peer pressure — a phenomenon almost unknown in modern America — is revitalized and the rest of the schedule falls into line.

It’s fine if Big Ten conference schools attempt to replace Penn State by scheduling a team that doesn’t bring the ghosts of molested boys into the locker room. Or, on what would’ve been game day, the schools can hold one of the “conversations” that are so popular in academia and discuss “social justice” for little boys.

Refusing to play Penn State is the right and honorable thing to do. Even better, the refusal leaves Joe Paterno with a fitting legacy for his last team. The 2012 Nittany Lions will be undefeated, unscored upon and untouchable.

Participants Revolt Against The Derecho Project

Sustainable Living: So simple a caveman can do it!

It’s unfortunate The Derecho Project — the largest urban global warming mitigation experiment in history — has proven to be an abject failure. Really a shame, too since the project’s design was almost perfect.

The sample was composed of liberal environmentalists in Maryland, D.C. and Arlington who should have been eager to personally have a role in reducing the nation’s carbon footprint.

Final selection for participation in The Derecho Project was entirely random: if a tree fell and knocked out a family’s power, they instantly became part of the sample. No lengthy interviews, affirmative action hurdles or concerns about income disparities since the threat of climate change demands immediate action.

It was a golden opportunity for “green voters” and anyone with an authentic Ken Salazar 10–gallon hat to put their lifestyle where their affectations are. It’s no longer enough to read the Chevy Volt review in the Consumer Reports Auto issue and dream of becoming a climate warrior.

Over one million Maryland, District and Northern Virginia residents were saved the trouble of traveling to the Amazon to sample carbon–neutral living at its finest. This eminently sustainable lifestyle was right here and didn’t involve an encounter with touchy–feely TSA guards. But what did progressives do when they were finally on the front lines of the battle against climate change?

These green exemplars didn’t behave any better than warmist deniers. They huddled in the nearest Starbucks and whined on their Facebook pages about the inhuman hardships they were suffering, all the while estimating how long it would be until the truffles defrost.

If these had been conservatives instead of “environmentally conscious Democrats” they could have turned a quick profit by selling carbon offsets until power was restored. (Then used the money to buy a gasoline generator in preparation for the next Act of Pepco.)

The eagerness of these progressives to re–embrace the electric power grid made them no different from the conservative control group that continued to use electricity blissfully unaware of how their selfish lifestyle threatens to submerge the Solomon Islands beneath the Pacific.

Where were the hardy greens recharging their iPads with solar panels, cooling their house with wind power, enjoying a siesta to adapt their body clocks to new temperature realities and using methane gas from their compost heap to cook dinner?

These examples were nowhere to be found. MD, VA and DC progressives weren’t any more prepared for sustainable living than your average Wal-Mart shopper. Instead we read about extension cords from houses with power snaking across driveways, alleys and streets to reach those without power. Which sounds a lot more like a PWC trailer park than it does Takoma Park.

Having sampled for a week the carbon–neutral lifestyle their environmental policies would condemn third–world residents to for a lifetime, progressives are now screaming for vengeance on any and all power companies.

The WaPost quotes Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner (D–Tumbrel) demanding Pepco be hit with large fines. “You get to $20 million, you get to $30 million, to $40 million, then you start getting people’s attention,” Berliner said as he confused a quasi–judicial proceeding with an auction.

Large fines sound good and make for a great copy point in a re–election brochure, but fines alone won’t bring true accountability, because a fine doesn’t hold those at the top personally accountable.

The top executives don’t pay fines. The money comes out of stockholder dividends, which in turn penalizes investors — who may have been out of power themselves — and pension plans. The executives have to answer hostile questions during hearings and may hear rumblings in board meetings, but that’s about it.

Real accountability only comes when the executive feels your pain. My solution is any time more than 500 customers lose power, regardless of the reason, regulators flip a switch and all Pepco’s top executives lose power, too.

The executive’s electricity returns after the last customer rejoins the grid.

Finally, am I the only conservative bothered by the media’s use of the term “derecho?” What happened to “severe thunderstorms?” When I was a boy in Oklahoma — one of the largest consumers of thunderstorms and tornadoes in the nation — weather poodles never used this word.

But now its suddenly “derecho” this and “derecho” that. Could it be because “derecho” is also the Spanish word for “right turn?” Is this yet another mainstream media attempt to persuade the public to subconsciously associate conservatives (the “right wing”) with disaster and privation?

How about using the German word for environmentalist? If we’re going foreign, “umweltschützer” not only has that continental flair, but just saying it sounds like thunder in the distance.

Refresh My Memory; Is Justice Kennedy the Wobbly One?

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts prefers to dress casually in his off hours.

Last Thursday dawned bright and clear. It was shaping up to be a great day for conservatives. More than one observer — waiting for the Obamacare decision outside the Supreme Court — noticed aircraft coming in low on the horizon. Everyone assumed it was ICE drones searching for illegal aliens deserving of amnesty and a college scholarship.

But as the aircraft passed overhead the full weight of our mistake hit home. That wasn’t the Army Air Corps insignia on the underside of the wing. That circular logo was the Obama meatball and it was Pearl Harbor all over again! Obamacare was legal and conservatives were caught completely unprepared as plans to roll back Big Government exploded in their face.

Make no mistake. Chief Justice John Robert’s decision is a total, crushing and potentially unrecoverable defeat. Roberts joins with Chief Justice Roger Taney of Dred Scott fame as another Maryland chief justice responsible for a Supreme Court decision that will live in infamy.

“I always say…that if my fellow citizens want to go to Hell I will help them. It’s my job.

Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

“It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”

Chief Justice John Roberts

Justice Holmes, a crusty veteran wounded three times during the Civil War, was being cheerfully cynical. Justice Roberts, who appears to be suffering from PTSD induced by State of the Union criticism following the Citizens United decision and potential criticism prior to the Obamacare decision, is merely being pathetic.

Berkeley law professor John Yoo contends Robert’s doesn’t agree with his own ruling but intended to “pull the court out of political fight.”

Unfortunately, Robert’s job is to uphold the Constitution regardless of Democrat political pressure. His failure to do so removes one of the few remaining limits on the growth and expansion of federal power.

This type of judicial temporizing in the face of political pressure is the same thing that happened during the 1930’s. A gutless Supreme Court stood idly by while FDR and the Democrats twisted the Constitution and began the long, legislative march toward intrusive, domineering Big Government.

If conservatives had not been lulled into a false sense of security, much like radar observers at Pearl Harbor, the Robert’s decision earlier in the week to overturn most of Arizona’s illegal alien law would have served to warn us of impending problems.

Deluded optimists claim the decision was a clever rope–a–dope and now Obama has to run for re–election with Obamacare and its hidden tax hung around his neck for all the voters to see.

I don’t know what election these optimists have been watching, but the failure of Obamacare was already part of his campaign. Now, thanks to Roberts, he can run on the success of Obamacare, which serves to solidify a base that was becoming increasingly disillusioned. Protecting the fruit of this Supreme Court decision becomes a strong motivator to get out the Obama vote.

If this is a victory for conservatives, God save us from defeat.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–KY) is already whining that it’s going to be difficult to repeal the entire law because it’s so complicated. But it doesn’t require a 2,400–page bill to repeal a 2,400–page bill. You could do it with a bill no longer than a single page. What it does require is a certain strength of will and Sen. McConnell is telling us he and the majority of Republicans in the Senate lack that will.

They would rather file a lawsuit and let the Supreme Court do the heavy lifting, an option that after last Thursday no longer exists. This, in fact, will increasingly complicate life for Congressional Republicans as an imperial presidency continues to trample the Constitution. The legislative branch can no longer delegate Constitutional protection to the Judiciary.

The second rationalization for our famous victory is that Roberts ended the abuse and misuse of the Commerce clause. But that’s wrong, too. As Rick Richman notes in the Commentary blog: “Part III-A of the Roberts opinion – concluding the Obamacare mandate was not valid under the Commerce Clause – was not in the portion of his opinion that represents the opinion of the Court.” Which means the Commerce portion does not set or overturn precedent.

What a difference a week makes. Last Thursday a powerful conservative fleet was ready to weigh anchor. Eager to catch the high tide of the Obamacare decision and sail to victory in the fall. Today we’re tapping on the barnacle–encrusted hulls of capsized battleships trying to find survivors.

Some are using hammers. Me? I’m using my head.

Please, Don’t Let Another Congressional Staffer Go to Bed Hungry

An underpaid Congressional staffer huddles for warmth during a cold Washington winter.

In some corners of elite opinion working on Capital Hill means one is laboring in the political equivalent of Wal–Mart. Hill workers have their pity while toiling in a crowded ideologyshop for chump change.

Yet, just like Wal–Mart, each time an election or retirement causes a new Congressional store to open the line of applicants typically extends around the corner.

How to explain it? Don’t these serfs know they’re being exploited?

You expect this reasoning in the WaPost, but surprisingly enough, this expose was in the Washington Times. The premise is Capitol Hill staffers are grossly underpaid and as a result the nation is being run by penniless Facebook addicts who are subject to an employment revolving door of tornadic force.

The pitiful few newbies that do manage to cling to their position are utterly at the mercy of rapacious lobbyists up to no good.

I am indebted to the author of the story, Luke Rosiak, for sharing his employee turnover numbers with me for comparison purposes. Frankly, if the situation had been reversed I don’t know that I would have been so gracious. Still, Rosiak’s generosity does not prevent me from disagreeing with his conclusions.

He begins by painting a picture of ignorant amateurs: “High turnover and lack of experience in congressional offices are leaving staffs increasingly without policy and institutional knowledge…leaving a vacuum that is usually filled by lobbyists.”

As a result: “When Americans wonder why Congress can’t seem to get anything done, this could be a clue.”

Once we get past the irony that after finally identifying jobs where federal salaries are equal to or less than the private sector the WT sees fit to complain; a comparison shows the analysis is flawed. First because salary numbers leave out the excellent health insurance that Hill staffers receive and secondly, because it ignores the nature of work in a Congressional office.

Although located in august structures and surrounded by the echoes of history, Congressional offices are basically 535 mom and pop operations with the elected official serving the role of mom or pop, as the case may be. None of these offices are governed by the rules and regulations that pamper civil service employees. Officeholders are political entrepreneurs building a brand on the taxpayer dime.

Some Congressional offices are well run organizations that rival an Apple Genius Bar for motivation and expertise. Others limp along like a poorly managed Dollar store where are all the toys are from China and contain extra lead.

But regardless of how the office is managed, the jobs are an example of an efficiently functioning employment marketplace. If the salary for Congressional office jobs was too low, there would not be enough qualified applicants to fill the positions. It would be necessary to follow in the footsteps of agribusiness and hire illegal aliens. Yet that’s not happening.

If the officeholder was dissatisfied with the quality and performance of the employee the salary was attracting, he is free to increase the amount paid for the position, but that’s not happening either. Instead we have market equilibrium: plenty of well–qualified applicants at the advertised salary.

Even at the existing salaries the WT disapproves of the turnover in these jobs is better than in comparable private sector positions. According to the figures developed by the WT, in 2006 there was 24 percent turnover on Capital Hill. The Bureau of Labor statistics for the same year finds the voluntary quit rate in “professional and business services” was 33.7 percent, a figure that is almost 10 percentage points higher.

Median experience levels for Congressional offices were also higher than in the private sector. For staff assistants — mostly equivalent to receptionists and entry–level office workers — the median was 2 years and for legislative assistants it was 4 years. In the private sector the BLS figures for workers ages 20 to 24 (entry–level jobs) the median experience was 1.5 years. For workers 25 to 34, closer to the legislative assistant level, the median was 3.1 years.

Besides, when one considers a great legislative mind like Nancy Pelosi just celebrated 25 years at the Congressional trough, experience past a certain point begins to look overrated.

Many of these jobs are viewed as stepping stones to a better position. Just as no one expects to be taking orders in a drive–through the rest of their life, few Hill receptionists expect to be tracking down errant Social Security checks until they retire.

Some are promoted inside the same office, some go to better jobs in other offices, some leave for the private sector and some run for office themselves. Some even leave to become lobbyists, although that’s seen as a bad thing in the context of the article: “It means that young workers have proximity to enormous power while surviving on a meager budget — dual forces that come together to push congressional staffers through the “revolving door” to highly paid K Street lobbyists.”

But again, statistics point to a much smaller “problem.” Between the years 2005 and 2011 a total of 161 staffers became registered lobbyists. That represents 5 percent of the total, which is more than the number of people who become murderers and less than the 7 percent who become alcoholics.

The ability to change jobs, in this case voluntarily, is a feature of the marketplace, not a bug.

Besides, increasing salaries for these jobs does not mean that substantive legislation will start whisking it’s way through the Capital. Taxpayers would just have an overpaid group of true believers. Elected officials aren’t looking for the next Steve Jobs, they are looking for Donald Segretti: someone who is loyal, takes orders without question and gets the job done.

Members of Congress are getting the employees they want courtesy of our tax dollars. The problem is conservatives aren’t getting the government we want because the officeholders we elect lack the courage. And salaries large enough to launch staffers into the 1 percent aren’t going to change that.