Life suddenly got busy today — and Open Thread

California_Supreme_Court__First_District_Court_of_Appeal_San_FranciscoSorry for the blog silence today.  I was helping a client with an appellate court filing and, as is often the case, it proved to be much more complicated that anyone had anticipated. You’d think that, by now, we would actually start anticipating that the filing is always going to be much more complicated that we expect, but that’s never the case.  No matter how well prepared things seem, somehow the filing always runs down to the last minute.  Things today were made more challenging by the fact that the First Appellate District now requires e-filing for all writs and appeals, and this was the first time any of us had used the system.

This new e-filing rule means that, after the documents are finalized in Word and converted into PDF, someone (and that someone would be me) has to go through them to hyperlink and bookmark everything for the Court’s convenience.  I’d actually gotten much of that done . . . until others working on the brief made last-minute changes that required me to do everything all over again.  Sigh. . . .

Overall, though, the e-filing is a wonderful idea.  If you haven’t worked in a law firm, or at least a law firm in California, you have no idea how much paper is used up in a big appellate filing.  Between the originals, the copies for the appellate court, the courtesy copies for the Supreme and trial courts, and the copies for opposing counsel (and there might be a lot of opposing counsels if there are a lot of parties), if the brief several hundred pages of exhibits, it’s easy to end up using 5,000 or more sheets of paper for a single filing.  E-filing does away with all that ridiculous duplication, saving the client enormous sums of money and ending the horrific waste of paper (since most copies end up buried in a court’s files).

When I came home from the filing, I truly meant to blog but, instead, I ended up working on the liberty guide that our local Navy League chapter prepares for Fleet Week (which officially starts this Wednesday).  I’ve gotten the PDF finished, but I’m scrambling to see whether we can get a website up and running before Wednesday.  I like this kind of challenge.  I’ll let you know if I can make it work.

Why Leftists are wrong when they compare having an abortion to buying a gun

Woman's right to choose gunsMy Progressive Facebook friends — and I have many because I’ve spent almost my entire life in the San Francisco Bay area — have a new meme that’s got them terribly excited. Here, in all its glory, is what Progressives think counts as intelligent argument both to support abortion rights and destroy Second Amendment rights:

Stupid liberals on guns and abortion

Because I hate dense paragraphs — they’re very hard to address — let me break the above risible effort at logical argument down into its component parts:

Women who want to terminate a life (provided that life is within them, which is legally and known as abortion, as opposed to a life that is not within them, which is illegal and known as murder), must take all or some of the following steps, depending on their age and the state within which they live:

Wait 48 hours before proceeding with the requested abortion

Get permission from a parent if the female is under the legal age of consent.

Have a doctor’s note explaining that the doctor is intentionally carrying out an abortion.

Watch a video about the results of an abortion (i.e., a fetus will be vacuumed out of the womb or disassembled to remove it from the womb).

Have an ultrasound so that the woman sees the life she intends to abort.

Further, because some states do not like abortion, the woman opting to go ahead with the procedure might have to:

Travel a great distance to find an abortion provider.

Take time off of work to travel that distance (and, probably, to recover from the procedure).

Stay overnight in a strange town.

See strangers holding graphic pictures of what happens to the fetus she will abort, with the same strangers pleading with her not to act.

It’s unfair that women should have to suffer this information overload, inconvenience, and indignity to have an abortion.  Therefore men who intend to buy a gun should be subject to the same level of inconvenience.  Men should therefore suffer too.  The rationale:  “No woman getting an abortion has killed a room full of people in seconds, right?”

Where to begin?

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Five reasons that the benefits that flow from guns far outweigh the risks inherent in guns

American revolutionariesWith the shooting at Umpqua Community College having reanimated the Progressives’ demands that we withdraw guns from citizens’ hands and leave them solely in the hands of government operatives (a strange demand from the BLM-supporting crowd if you think about it), it’s time for me to rehash my five-point argument explaining why, the risks of guns notwithstanding, we are much safer with guns than without them.  I originally published this post in June 2014 and have made only a few changes to enhance clarity:


God forgive me, but I used to be so anti-gun that I donated to The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence. I know. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Since that time, I’ve done a complete 180 and become a fervent gun supporter and a proud member of the NRA.

This change did not come about because I suddenly became a psychopathic killer, with guns as my weapon of choice. I do kill (spiders, fleas, and ticks) and I do eat dead bodies (cows, pigs, chicken, and fish), but I’m scarcely Hannibal Lecter.

Instead, my reversal on guns came about because I realized that gun’s are a predicate requirement for individual freedom and security.  I’ve created five principles that justify this conclusion.  These principles are:  (1) Armed citizens are the best defense against the world’s most dangerous killer: government; (2) I am a Jew; (3) I am not a racist; (4) a self-defended society is a safe society; and (5) the only way gun-control activists can support their position is to lie.

I develop each of these principles below.


A. Armed Citizens Are The Best Defense Against The World’s Most Dangerous Killer: Government.

1.  Progressives fear individuals, who kill only in small numbers; Second Amendment supporters fear government, which kills in the tens of millions.

a. Mad or predatory individuals, ideologically motivated groups, and mean or careless corporations have never succeeded in using guns to achieve more than a few thousand deaths in any individual act.

Progressives and conservatives alike share the same concerns: they don’t want killers to have guns. It’s just that Progressives haven’t quite figured out who the real killers are. Their obsessive focus is on individuals and corporations. Let’s humor their fears and look at the number of deaths those particular killers have achieved, both with and without guns, from the beginning of the 20th century through to the present day.

Individual Killers Who Did Not Use Guns:

The worst psychopathic individual mass murderer who did not use a gun: Gameel al-Batouti. On October 31, 1999, he cried out “Allahu Akbar” as he piloted a plane full of passengers into the Atlantic Ocean, killing 217 people.

The worst ideologically driven collective of mass murderers who did not use guns: The 19 al Qaeda members who, on September 11, 2001, used box cutters to hijack four planes, crashed those planes into three buildings and one into a field, and killed 2,996 people in a matter of hours.

The worst corporate mass murderer that did not use guns: In December 1984, the Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, accidentally released toxic gas from its facility, killing 3,787 people.

CONCLUSION: When dedicated mass murderers use something other than guns, they’re able to achieve deaths that range from a few hundreds dead to a few thousand dead.

Individual Killers Who Used Guns:

The worst psychopathic individual mass murderer who did use a gun: Anders Behring Breivik who, on July 22, 2011, shot and killed 69 people in Norway – mostly teenagers. This rampage came after he’d already set off a bomb, killing 8 people. Norway has strict gun control.

The worst ideologically driven collective mass murderers who did use guns: Given Islamists’ tendency to use all weapons available to shoot as many people as possible in as many countries as they can, this is a tough one to call. I believe, though, that the Mumbai terror attack in 2008 is the largest ideologically driven mass murder that relied solely on guns. Throughout the city of Mumbai, Islamic terrorists engaged in a coordinated attack that killed 154 people. Even the unbelievably bloody and shocking mall shooting that al Shabaab staged in Kenya killed only 63 people.

The worst corporate mass murder that did use guns: I can’t find any. To the extent that numerous workers died in any given 19th century labor dispute, those deaths occurred because state government, siding with management, sent out the state’s militia to disperse the strikers. For example, in November 1887, in Thibodaux, Louisiana, the state militia killed between 35 and 300 black sugar plantation strikers. The 20th and 21st century did not offer such examples.

CONCLUSION: To the extent Progressives fear individual killers or small groups of killers with guns, their fears are misplaced.  Guns simply aren’t that effective in these contexts, especially when compared to those who use planes or bombs. Moreover, when it comes to corporations and guns, outside of crazed Hollywood movies, the corporations vanish from the scene entirely.

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Destroying the arguments Progressives make when demanding gun control

Guns good people helpless does not equal bad people harmlessAlthough mass shootings are too anomalous to be predictable, what is predictable is that the Progressives, from Obama on down, will instantly use the occasion of a mass shooting to demand gun control.  Obama has already had his little say about the shooting at Umpqua Community College, and my  Facebook feed is rapidly filling up with links to Progressive publications, all insisting that gun control is the answer, and all pointing to Europe and Australia to justify this demand.

Rather than write a brand new post countering these old arguments, I’m going to recycle a post I first wrote in February 2013, when my son’s high school English teacher, for no good reason whatsoever, handed out New York Times anti-gun propaganda to the students.

As you read the following, the only thing I ask of you is that you remember that Europe has changed a lot in just the last few weeks.  I suspect that all those people who so willingly handed their guns over to the government when they were good little Englishmen, or good little Germans, or good little Dutchmen, will soon be wishing that they had an armory in their homes.

What I’d like to write to my child’s teacher about his gun control advocacy in class

Just yesterday, my son came home from high school and shared with me two New York Times articles that his English teacher had distributed to the students.  One article was by Elisabeth Rosenthal and the other by Nicholas Kristof.  Each advocates a significant increase in gun control.  The teacher was unable to explain to the students why he believed those articles were in any way relevant to the book they were studying.

[I wrote the teacher a letter, which I share here with you.]

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The Bookworm Beat 10-1-15 — the “clearing the spindle” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265My thoughts are with the family and friends of those killed and wounded at Umpqua Community College today. I have only three things to note: Obama immediately demanded gun control; the campus has a “gun free zone” policy; and the shooter started to ask people their religion, but started shooting before they could answer.

Without more information, I have nothing else to say nor conclusions to draw.

What it’s like to experience an Islamic terrorist attack

Foreign Policy has a truly horrifying minute-by-minute timeline of what happened during the horrible Islamic attack on the Nairobi’s Westgate Mall two years ago.  The article pieces the story together based on conversations with survivors and Kenyan officials, as well as information derived from mall security tapes.

My two takeaways are that Islamic terrorists are monstrous people by the standards of any place and any time in world history; and that when seconds count, the authorities are not only minutes or hours away, they seldom have enough information to handle the crisis in any event.  The front-line defendants, if any, are those people who, through sheer happenstance, find themselves at the center of a terrorist attack.  If they are armed, the attack is more likely to be limited in scope.

When all guns in private hands are outlawed (which is President Obama’s most devout hope), only outlaws and terrorists will have guns.  The rest of us will have targets painted on strategic parts of our bodies.

Dirty organic food

Marin County is fanatic about its organic foods. Perhaps, as with so many things, Marin is on the wrong track:

The permitted “organic” pesticides can be toxic. As evolutionary biologist Christie Wilcox explained in a 2012 Scientific American article: “Organic pesticides pose the same health risks as non-organic ones. No matter what anyone tells you, organic pesticides don’t just disappear.”


Organic foods are highly susceptible to it. According to Bruce Chassy, professor of food science at the University of Illinois, “organic foods are recalled 4 to 8 times more frequently than their conventional counterparts.” This is hardly surprising. Aside from the presence of pathogenic bacteria, organic grains are particularly susceptible to toxins from fungi. In 2003, the UK Food Safety Agency tested six organic corn meal products and 20 conventional (non-organic) corn meal products for contamination with the toxin fumonisin. All six organic corn meals had elevated levels—from nine to 40 times more than the recommended levels for human health—and they were voluntarily withdrawn from grocery stores. By contrast, the 20 conventional (i.e., non-organic) products averaged about a quarter of the recommended maximum levels.

Obamacare — more people should read my blog

Over at Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog there’s a conundrum:  Why don’t 33 million people have health insurance in this glorious Obamacare era?  There are some easy answers to that question according to FiveThirtyEight:  To begin with, around 4 million of those “Americans” without insurance are, in fact, illegal aliens.  Another three million are immigrants and Medicaid gap people who don’t have coverage.  Take away that crowd, and one is still left with 29 million uninsured people.  You can then peel away the 7.7 invincible or unemployed young, who view insurance as unnecessary or too costly, especially given that they’re propping up Obamacare.  Even after that, you’re still left with around 14 million uninsured Americans, 75% of whom are adults who ought to be Obamacare subscribers.

At this point, FiveThirtyEight is baffled:

It’s hard to say why these 14 million people weren’t insured, but the administration will have to figure that out if it wants to come close to the universal coverage the law intended.

May I suggest that the FiveThirtyEight people stop thinking like the middle class and start thinking like the lowest class? Once again, I turn to my friend who, though coming from a middle class background, lives amongst the poorest of the poor, many of whom are second or third generation members of that class:

[My friend] and her husband, the only middle class people in a sea of poverty, are the only people she knows, amongst both friends and acquaintances, who have signed up for Obamacare.  The others have no interest in getting health insurance.  Even with a subsidy, they don’t want to pay a monthly bill for health insurance.  Even a subsidized rate is too onerous when they can get all the free health care they need just by showing up at the local emergency room.  Additionally, the ER docs are usually better than any doc who’s willing to belong to whatever plan they can afford.  Nor are these people worried about the penalties for refusing to buy Obamacare, since none of them pay taxes.

Not only are the people in my friend’s world refusing to buy Obamacare, they resent it.  According to my friend, someone she knows abruptly announced that she’s getting involved in local politics, something she’s never done before.  Until recently, this gal was one of those people who just floated along, getting by.  Now, though, she’s fired up.

The reason for the sudden passion is unexpected:  She’s deeply offended by a law that forces people to buy a product they don’t need — never mind that she might benefit from the product, that she would pay far below market value for the product, or that she’s too poor to be penalized for ignoring this government diktat.  The mere fact that the diktat exists runs counter to her notion of individual liberty.  Her view of government is that, while it’s fine if it hands out welfare checks and food stamps, it goes beyond the pale when the government uses its power and wealth to coerce activity.

Our ideologically blind, narcissistic president

Barack Obama’s appalling speech at the UN resulted in several very good articles about his delusions. My favorite is Bret Stephens’ An Unteachable President:

Finally, Mr. Obama believes history is going his way. “What? Me worry?” says the immortal Alfred E. Neuman, and that seems to be the president’s attitude toward Mr. Putin’s interventions in Syria (“doomed to fail”) and Ukraine (“not so smart”), to say nothing of his sang-froid when it comes to the rest of his foreign-policy debacles.

In this cheapened Hegelian world view, the U.S. can relax because History is on our side, and the arc of history bends toward justice. Why waste your energies to fulfill a destiny that is already inevitable? And why get in the way of your adversary’s certain doom?

It’s easy to accept this view of life if you owe your accelerated good fortune to a superficial charm and understanding of the way the world works. It’s also easier to lecture than to learn, to preach than to act. History will remember Barack Obama as the president who conducted foreign policy less as a principled exercise in the application of American power than as an extended attempt to justify the evasion of it.

Elliott Abram’s thoughts about Obama’s “surreal” speech are also well worth reading.  He contrasts each statement Obama made, about the Middle East, Cuba, or anything, with the facts on the ground.  Obama is either a delusional fabulist or he really thinks everyone in the world is as stupid as his Progressive fans.

The camera never lies, at least not when it comes to Putin and Obama

Recent headlines make it obvious that Putin is running rings around Obama and positioning Russia as the new world power.  I’m actually not sure how long Putin can keep this dominance going.  Back at home, his country is being weakened by an utterly corrupt government; a weak, oligarchic economy; rising AIDS and alcoholism; and a declining population.  Putin is definitely ready to lead, but may eventually have too few followers and too little money.  If he’s forced to retrench, though, we know he’ll leave havoc in his wake.

But back to Putin and Obama.  If you want to know what’s going on, check out this chart.

A handy-dandy guide to rebutting BDS lies about Israel

YNet has published an article that provides actual facts to counter the lies the BDS movement relies on in order to further its antisemitic goals.  For example:

The Lie: “Palestinians who live in Israel are second-class citizens.”

The Truth: Israeli Arabs are citizens with equal rights. Arabs serve as Members of Parliament, as judges in courts, including the Supreme Court, as professors and doctors. In the past there were incidents of discrimination, and sometimes there still are. But according to any objective measure, the condition of Israeli Arabs is far better than that of Muslim minorities in Europe.

The head of the panel of judges who sent former Israeli president Moshe Katsav to jail, for example, was an Arab judge. The chairman of the Central Election Committee in 2015 Elections was also an Arab. There are numerous examples of the ways in which Israeli Arabs are integrated in the culture, art, economy and academia of Israel.

A handy-dandy guide to the Planned Parenthood videos

Meanwhile, at the Federalist, Mollie Hemingway summarizes the contents of the various undercover videos of Planned Parenthood’s trafficking in human bodies.  One doesn’t even have to watch the videos to find the contents extremely disturbing.

That Republicans are still funding this utterly corrupt organization — one that launders money for the Democrat party, spends taxpayer funds on boondoggles for high ranking employees (something only Fox seems willing to report),  and derives profit from selling body parts — is a disgrace.  Planned Parenthood is not the only game in town for women’s health care, and it’s time for us to stop pretending that it is (especially in this age of Obamacare).

Someone on a closed Facebook group to which I belong had a good observation:  How can Planned Parenthood (and other lefties such as the execrable Bill Nye, the un-science guy) claim that before birth a fetus is not human, while at the same time harvesting those same fetal body parts for sale as “human organs”?

Well, you know what they say:  If Leftists didn’t have double standards, they wouldn’t have any standards at all.

House Video: Money usually sent to a few hundred Planned Parenthoods should go to several thousand community clinics

I haven’t had much luck embedding Facebook posts with videos at my site, but I’m trying again:

Jim Jordan on #PlannedParenthood's taxpayer funding.

Posted by House Oversight Committee on Tuesday, September 29, 2015

If that doesn’t work, go here.

I’ll just add what I’ve said before: Why in an age of Obamacare does Planned Parenthood get special funding over and above all other healthcare providers?

The Left rejects science, logic, and morality to stake out an absolutist position on abortion

Premature baby feetPETA famously produces ads comparing animals to humans.  These ads work because PETA understand that people feel incredible compassion for animals, especially if they’re cute animals.

Additionally, the people most likely to feel this incredible compassion for animals are those who spring from the Leftier side of the political spectrum.  I’m sure that are conservative vegetarians, but I haven’t met any.  We may adore our dogs and cats, but we’re not averse to a nice steak or roast turkey.

The vegetarians I know are all Progressives.  Eating animals is cruel and bad, they say.

Funnily enough, this Leftist sensitivity doesn’t extend to humans when they look like animals.  Two posters illustrate this.  I found the first on the Facebook page of a Leftist friend; the second I found on the internet while searching for images of fetal development:

Abortion for the left

Which embryo is human

Certainly, at two-and-a-half weeks, human embryos are indistinguishable to the untrained eye from other mammal embryos. But isn’t the Left always lecturing us about b eing inhuman if we don’t care for the animals. Well, unsurprisingly, it turns out that in modern Leftist world, when all animals are equal, it’s the human animal that’s less equal — and less deserving of protection — that others. As a friend always says of the Left, if they didn’t have double standards, they wouldn’t have any standards at all.

To take this whole thing a step further, I have two more posters for you. The first shows fetal development in the first trimester:

Carnegie stages

After eight weeks pass, that fetus looks pretty damn human to me. Could my Facebook friend — who’s a biologist — not project just a month ahead to understand that the little wormy thing that she can’t conceive of as a potential human is just weeks away from becoming recognizably human? The second shows how swiftly that fetus begins to look like the baby who turns into the boy in that first poster:


For more about the unscientific thinking of those on the Left, this article attacking Bill Nye’s logical fallacies and scientific errors is useful.

Again, I’m not hardcore pro-Life. I recognize that there are certain situations in which abortion has a place. What I’ve come to hate, though, is the Left’s deliberate moral and scientific blindness, and most of all I hate the Left’s death cult when it comes to abortion. It is these profoundly disturbing attitudes that keep driving me further and further into the arms of the pro-Life crowd.

Can America — heck! Can the world survive Barack Obama?

Obama with hornsTwo weeks ago, the question at the Watcher’s Council was whether America can recover from Barack Obama’s presidency.  The answers were thoughtful, ranging from optimistic (we’re greater than Obama’s depredations) to cautious (with ruminations about the character of a people that would elect Obama).

I’m interested in your thoughts on the question of whether America can recover from Obama’s fundamental transformations.  We know that if the next president is Hillary or Bernie that we’ll just continue down the same road, only traveling faster and falling harder.  The question is really whether a Republican president can turn around what Obama did.

I’d also like to broaden the question for you:  After reading Obama’s delusional U.N. speech, and looking at the Middle Eastern implosion, the Muslim onslaught on Europe, etc., do you believe a strong conservative president can change the violent chain of events that Obama has unleashed across the globe?  Please remember that you have to figure in what Obama has done to our Armed Forces — everything from reducing our nuclear arsenal to lowering combat standards so that women can take the field.

While you guys and gals have deep thoughts about whether we’re on a path from which there is no return, I will grapple with vexing legal questions for a client.