The Leftist delusion of a world without danger

Thomas Hobbs, who was born into the waning years of the 16th Century and lived three-quarters of the way through the 17th Century, in his great work, Leviathan, characterized man’s life as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” He was not an optimist.

William Hogarth's Gin Lane

Hobbs may have been a pessimist, but he was also quite accurate.  In a pre-industrial, pre-scientific era, half of the children lucky enough to survive childbirth would die before their fifth birthday, with death usually resulting either from disease or accident (falling into an open fireplace or drowning in a well or waterhole were accidents common to the pre-modern era).

If one was lucky enough to survive early childhood, life still didn’t get much easier.  Even in stable communities, food supplies were unreliable; crime was prevalent; war had a nasty habit of breaking out all over; disease stalked everyone; childbirth was the scourge of young women; lightning and cooking caused deadly fires that swept through wood-built communities; and weather forecasts were nonexistent and weather deaths (cold, heat, lightening, floods, winds, etc.) were commonplace.  Old age was a rarity — or at the very least, was defined differently, with a toothless crone in her late 40s qualifying as “old.”

For those who managed to avoid premature death, life was dark indeed.  I mean that literally.  Except for the very rich, who could enj0y beeswax, the poor lit their homes (which usually had no windows) with smoky fires or tallow lights that left everything smelling like an old fryer at McDonalds.

Personal cleanliness was viewed with suspicion (as a sign of moral debauchery) so it wasn’t uncommon for people to go a lifetime without bathing.  Nor was this filth limited to the lower classes who had no access to running water.  James I of England was famous for his certainty that bathing would kill him.  Even the marginally clean English found his personal habits distasteful.  Streets and sewers were interchangeable, with people in buildings tossing the contents of their chamber pots into the streets, regardless of passing pedestrians.

Child Labor minor miners

The Hobbesian world began to change with the industrial revolution.  Wealth was no longer tied to the land and, therefore, finite.  It was suddenly infinite.  Although the initial transition from agricultural to industrial wrought appalling havoc for the poor, by chaining them to factory labor or coal mines in conditions that were little better than slavery, working their children to death, and herding them into filthy urban ghettos, overall the standard of living rose for everyone.  The rich, of course, benefited first, but the poor did too, to the point at which (at least before the endless Obama recession) even the poorest in American (unless they were insane homeless people) were able to buy cool shoes and disposable cell phones at Walmart.  Poverty became a matter of discomfort, not death.

Louis Pasteur

Things became even better when the scientific revolution picked up steam.  Suddenly, scientists and physicians had the comforting illusion that, when it come to the mysteries of disease, they could see all and know all.  Bacteria were visible and, with Penicillin, vulnerable.  Ailments originating within the body (a hot appendix, a bladder stone, even a damaged heart valve) could be fixed.  Viruses bowed down before vaccinations.  We were going to live forever.  Indeed, even though we 21st century residents haven’t actually achieved immortality, our modern lifespans would have been unimaginable only a century ago.

Battledore and Shuttlecock in 1845

One of the most stunning byproducts of the industrial and scientific ages was childhood, not just as a biological reality, but as an intellectual construct.  Past times recognized infancy and early childhood (until about 7 years old) as times of necessary development and dependency.  After that, though, right up until the Victorian age, children older than 7 or 10 years were regarded as mini-adults.  They were put to work in field or factory, indentured to trade, married in their mid-teens, and generally given responsibilities that, nowadays, we still consider too extreme even for “children” in their mid-20s.  Even twenty years ago, people would have laughed at the thought that “children” of 26 were dependents for insurance purposes.  Go back a time a few more decades than that, and the rules were simple:  if you survived childhood, you headed rapidly into adulthood.

These very positive historical trends have left us with one very wrongheaded delusion:  the belief that we can insulate ourselves and, especially, our children from all danger.

Old-time football player

Sometimes, the very act of insulation creates greater, counter-intuitive risks.  Those of us who don’t remember football being so dangerous in decades past are right.  It’s not just that we were less aware of the risks, it’s that football players had less protective gear.  It was a speed and passing game, one that favored smaller players and less aggressive contact.  Leather helmets provided some protection, but did not encourage players to pretend that they were big horn sheep who could engage in serious headbutting.  Once players became enswathed in protective gear — high-tech helmets and shoulder pads — they began to play a more aggressive game, one that favored big players and high impact tackles.  In other words, the counter-intuitive result of more protective gear in football is a higher, rather than a lower injury rate.

19th century boxers

The same is true in the boxing world.  When boxers were bare handed, they couldn’t land a hit harder than their own knuckles would bear.  As between a solid jaw bone and a knuckle bone, the jaw usually won.  Even with the advent of gloves, the early gloves were thin enough that the striker still had a risk about equal to that of the person on the receiving end.  It was only when the boxing world shifted to massively padded gloves, which successfully insulate the knuckles, that boxers were able to land such devastating strikes against their opponents’ jaws, eye sockets, and temples.

Tony Peitrantonio knockout

We’ve also over-protected ourselves is in the battle between antibiotics and bacteria. After a seventy year run in the antibiotics’ favor, the bacteria have regrouped and are coming back strong. One regularly reads upsetting stories about treatment-resistant bacteria.  Tuberculosis has the potential to become a scourge again; MRSA haunts hospital hallways; and many of us our digging out our grandmothers’ household hint books to find out how people treated garden-variety infections (cuts and ear aches) in the era before antibiotics came along.  In the same way, we’re facing the ugly truth that, due to a combination of parents resisting vaccination, and diseases resisting vaccination, old childhood scourges such as chicken pox, whooping cough, and measles are on the upswing.

We can’t win for losing.  Or rather, we have become so confident of our victories that we forget that the enemy — even one that lacks cognitive abilities — is as intent upon its own survival and is as adaptable as we are.

The above are, in a way, mechanical protective reflexes, where industrialism and science enable us to place barriers between us and objects or pathogens that are dangerous.  What is a peculiarly Leftist foible is believing that we can ignore entirely Nature writ large, human nature, or cultural pathology.

Going back to the topic of childhood mortality, the sad fact is that, while kids once fell prey to disease, they now fall prey to all sorts of other things, some new and some old.  Here’s a 2007 snapshot of the things that killed American children who survived congenital diseases in infancy:

Car accidents:  6,683 deaths
Firearm homicide:  2,186 deaths
Suffocation/strangling:  1,263 deaths
Non-firearm homicides:  1,159
Drowning:  1,045 deaths
Poisoning:  927 deaths
Suffocation suicide:  739 deaths
Firearm suicide:  683 deaths
Fires/Burns:  544 deaths
Firearm accidents:  138 deaths
Poisoning suicide:  133 deaths

What may leap out at you is how many children died in 2007. What leaps out to me, since I’ve always bathed my brain in history, is how few children died in 2007.  Although each of the above numbers represents indescribable grief, the percentage of child deaths is infinitesimal compared to the overall population of children in America.  Moreover, by far the largest number of deaths occurred in a peculiarly utilitarian way:  car accidents.  These were unintentional deaths that resulted from an object that is integral to our society’s functioning.

Bloods gang member with gun

The next highest number of deaths, as any Progressive would point out, is indeed from guns.  But here’s what the white liberals ignore until there’s a Columbine or Sandy Hook that makes them feel vulnerable  In that same year (2007) that 3,345 American children were murdered, here are the statistics for male youth deaths within the black community:

52.3% of black, male 15-19 year olds who died were murdered.
15.5% of black, male 10-14 year olds who died were murdered.
6.3% of black, male 5-9 year olds who died were murdered.
14.3% of black, male 1-4 year olds who died were murdered.

The situation is better, but not much, for black girls in 2007, as they are less likely to die as teens, but more likely to die as toddlers:

18.3% of black, female 15-19 year olds who died were murdered.
9.3% of black, female 10-14 year olds who died were murdered.
6.5% of black, female 5-9 year olds who died were murdered.
15.3% of black, female 1-4 year olds who died were murdered.

In other words, we don’t have a gun problem:  we have a black-children-are-getting-murdered problem. Those liberals who pay any attention at all to deaths that don’t involve white suburban children, never bothered looking at human nature in order to determine how to deal with the problem.

They didn’t look at the way welfare renders stable, earning males obsolete, thereby breaking down the family unit and forcing young men to find other ways than family and maturity to prove their “manliness.”  They didn’t consider that if you attack Judeo-Christian morality without providing an alternative morality, you end up with no morality.  They didn’t consider that advancing abortion in all-black communities is a subliminal message that black lives are disposable.  Instead, they ignored the human factor entirely and decided that, if they made weapons illegal, the communities would instantly become hippie-like communes of peace, with a little pot on the side.

Because Progressives thought they could bring a mechanical solution to a human problem, even more black children died.  Think of it this way:  Getting rid of bacteria doesn’t make them go away.  They come back stronger in different ways.  Likewise, getting rid of guns doesn’t make murder vanish.  Humans get creative with other forms of murder, and guns go underground and, removed from law and morality, get applied in ever more violent ways.

We cannot protect ourselves into safety.  The world is a dangerous place, albeit infinitely less dangerous than it has ever before been.  We are deluding ourselves if we believe that, either through hyper-safety mechanisms or bans (bans on bacteria or bans on guns) we can instantly make things safer.  In fact, it’s often the case that eradicating the danger entirely is either a delusion (bacteria are still out there) or creates worse dangers than that we originally sought to avoid.

What we can do is try to modify certain behaviors in order to decrease (although never eliminate) risk.  If antibiotics are becoming less useful, let’s wash our hands more often.  If violence is plaguing a community, let’s try to temper the community by giving people constructive purposes in life and by creating a sensibility that values life.  Getting rid of guns will not get rid of violence.  Valuing life might just diminish it somewhat, though.

It’s the culture

Nobody seems to want to admit it, but it’s our culture!

School shootings aren’t new. But, Americans have owned guns aplenty for more-than 200 years of nationhood and it seems that we’ve never had school shootings as we have experienced in the past few years. Neither has the rest of the modern world, but school, church and shopping mall attacks have been occurring even in countries with the strictest gun controls (e.g., Scotland, Germany, Norway, Japan). What has changed?

How about “that which must not be named”?

The old-guard leftists of the Frankfurter and Antonio Gramsci (you can “wiki” those names) school knew that to fundamentally remake society, you first had to destroy the church, society and the family. I would say Gramsci and Frankfurter school alumnae have had a pretty good success record.

Ever since LBJ’s 1960s “War on Poverty”, families have been disintegrating. It started with the most vulnerable (inner city blacks, where now 70% of children have no fathers) and has now spread to white, non-Hispanic families (close-to 30% of children born out of wedlock). Often, children in such families are left largely unsupervised, grow up without good male role models and enjoy ready access to the most depraved pornography, graphic violence, weapons, drugs and other vices through the internet and their peers, starting at a very young and formative age. One can try to prevent their kids’ access to this at home, but how does one prevent them from going down the street to a friends’ house?

I couldn’t help but notice that the first media reports of the shooter (whom I refuse to name and help make more famous) mentioned a mother but didn’t mention a father. Sure enough, the latest reports by a British news outlet, The Daily Mail, are of a boy traumatized by a three-year old divorce. Why did he single out his mother as the first victim? We may never know, but I suspect that the divorce may have had something to do with it. We are also learning that (surprise!) the shooter was a compulsive violent-video gamer.

Youth and adolescence are a time when kids should be learning communication skills and how to interact with adults and peers. Instead, too many kids appear to be devolving into lonely social outcasts and losers (a non-PC term I use for emphasis only). Throw in mental illness, they can become dangerous (the source of much of this mental illness is a worthy topic in and of itself…but think about what hours and hours of sitting in front of a screen does to the developing brain of a young child?). These are the years when their neuro linkages are being formed.

The mass media and punditry immediately started talking about this shooter’s “obvious” mental problems, thereby anointing him a member of “victim” class and providing absolution for his sins. I don’t buy any of it. I can understand someone crazed with rage shooting their mother in the heat of the moment, but the premeditation and time the shooter needed took to travel to a school after killing his own mother and destroying young kids’ lives in psychopathic cold blood point not mental illness but a willing pact made with evil. It is evil, pure and simple, nothing less. At one point, this shooter was confronted with a choice and he chose evil. Why did he make that choice? Here’s a thought:

What are the cultural messages that get hammered into young kids’ brains today? There is no reward in elevation, but there is reward in depravity. Our mass media hammers into their developing brains, over and over again, that to be depraved is to be “famous”, a powerful siren’s song for lonely outcast kids. These kids know that the quickest way to fame and even fortune is to act depraved and to be guaranteed that their depravity will be broadcast widely over the internet and throughout the global media. Some of them grow into mega stars (I’m thinking of Rapper culture, Madonna, Lady Gaga and Jerry Springers as just a few examples), further amplifying the siren’s song. The mass media, vigilantly on the lookout for breaking news 24/7, is complicit in this, for it is the internet and mass media that provide monsters their 15 minutes of fame. Remember that the next time you look at how our TV screens extol depravity. Btw, if you doubt me about just how depraved our culture has become, then Google [game kindergarten killer].

Sorry to have to use the word “depraved” of course. In our Gramsci-Frankfurter culture, such terms are soooooo judgmental and we don’t dare to be judgmental, do we? Why, other people might not like us, a sentence worse than death for too many adults that never outgrew their adolescence.

So what do we do about it? We can start by focusing on our own kids, knowing that our obligation as parents is not just to love them but to build them spiritually into good citizens and to armor them against the bad influences in our imperfect world. We can extend support to single parents, especially those trying to work jobs simply to survive, and we help provide guidance to their kids. These are the days when wolves stalk a land in which too many people have forgotten how to recognize wolves for what they are. And, if you decide to have children, get married and stay married, so that you can nurture, protect and educate your children into solid citizens together. My very brilliant spouse, a middle-school teacher, tells me that she can tell right away when her students’ families are trouble by the way that the kids lash-out in school. She has already lost too many of her former students to drugs and suicide.

Rely on our churches? Maybe, but so many have become such weak tea. My own Episcopal church…part of the Anglican Communion that produced such great theological thinkers and moral stalwarts as C.S. Lewis (our patron saint, in my view)…has been complicit in this. It is so terrified of being perceived as “uncool” that it doesn’t dare attack popular culture or elevate its members above the culture…unless, of course, it is a soft target, such as those really uncool, nagging, square conservatives (a minority group of which I count myself a proud member). The sad fact is that my church, sadly dominated at the top by Frankfurter-Gramsci disciples, spends far too much of its time and effort huffing and puffing to keep up with the latest social trends in its frantic effort to appear cool and contemporary while pushing its “social justice” agenda. I don’t recall my church’s leadership ever raising a peep of protest against the depravity of contemporary culture. Excuses, yes. Protests, no. Quite the opposite.

One of my FB friends just shared an electronic ad from our church’s head bishop that includes scatological epiphets to get the message across. Soooo, soooo cool! So with it! Some churches are great builders of spiritual armor. Not this one. It prefers to be complicit with a depraved culture. It follows, it does not have the courage to lead. You may ask, of course, why I don’t leave this church, so I will answer that: because it is precisely there that I am needed. There are many good people there. I and others do speak out and try to nurture and strengthen our children with spiritual armor.

Is the solution to force honest citizens to surrender their weapons? That is thinking with the heart rather than the head. I am so, so totally against this. The solution to an outbreak of wolves is not to defang the guard dogs. In this age of the wolf, we need more guard dogs, not less.

The Connecticut school shooting could have been stopped right away had there been one or more people on premise with guns, a circumstance that today would land any would-be guard dog in jail without passing “go”. Chances are that, had the shooter known that the school was protected, he would never have dared go there. The only real defense against a gun…is a gun. Mass murderers tend to be cowards that seek out soft, undefended targets like schools and churches. Guns, like drugs, will always be available to psychopaths, criminals and terrorists. If not guns, there are always knives, automobiles, poison gas, molotov cocktails or fertilizer bombs. Taking guns away from civilians only creates a larger pool of defenseless sheep available for slaughter. One of my FB friends also suggested that only government and police should have weapons. Scary thought. Look around the world today: now, that is one very scary thought. Government and law enforcement magnets for wolves. But, then, this is how people who have never had to confront wolves perceive the world. Like the Hobbits of the Shire, content to eat, drink and be merry, free of cares. But, reality eventually intrudes and we cannot magically “wish” wolves away into oblivion.

Finally, there is one particular aspect of this that really, really bothers me: young kids for decades have been getting gunned down, knifed, beaten to death, suffocated and raped in our inner cities. But, other than perfunctory hand-wringing, we never saw an outcry against this compared to what occurred after this most recent shooting in a well-to-do middle class community. Gee, what could the reason for this be? Yup, you’re right.

We won’t change what appears to be happening with increasing frequency to our society until we decide that we will stand up and dare to speak out against the increased depravity of our culture. Definitely “uncool”, but we must do it…for all families, for the kids and for our future. Otherwise, it can only continue to get much, much worse. It is the age of the wolf.

My deepest condolences to the people of Newtown, Connecticut — but don’t let this make you give up your guns *UPDATED*

Mother in Newtown Connecticut

Despite being fairly decent at both sympathy and empathy, I truly cannot imagine what the survivors of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, are experiencing, and that’s true whether I think of the ones in the line of fire or the family and friends whose loved ones were at the school.

Shooting children like fish in a barrel goes beyond crime.  It is, instead, an act of profound evil.  John Podhoretz latched onto this intrinsic evil when he likened the situation in Connecticut to the horrors of Gehenna:

Gehenna, a synonym for Hell, is a real place, or so the Bible tells us. You can see it today. It is a valley outside Jerusalem, the valley of the son of Hinnom, and it was where worshippers of the idol Moloch sacrificed children to sate their god’s hungers.

Gehenna was revived today in Newton, Connecticut, where as many as 20 children at last report were slaughtered in an elementary school this morning.

[snip]

The connection between the protection of children and the practice of monotheism dates back to the beginning. After Abraham becomes the first Jew, the first monotheist, he is tasked by God to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, the miracle child of his and his wife Sarah’s old age, and he takes up the task without complaint until God stays his hand. The story of Isaac’s binding, the akedah, is one of the most challenging of the Bible and is often taken to mean God was testing Abraham’s faith with the ultimate demand. But one might also say that at the very dawn of the worship of the One God, the Bible was placing the sacrifice of children outside the realm of the thinkable for the first time.

The idea that civilization is dedicated to the protection and preservation the weak and the innocent, and not about fulfilling evil impulses to defile and destroy innocence, is the root and core of the West. One cannot conceive of anything more monstrous than a person or persons who could look small children in the eye and systematically shoot them dead. Which is why this crime, among the worst crimes in American history, is not just an assault on the children, or their families, or the town of Newtown—though it is all those things.

Podhoretz says that today’s shooting turned the killer into one who sacrifices to Moloch, thereby creating a Hell on earth and fundamentally violating a just people’s covenant with a just and loving God.  Incidents such as this one are jagged rips in the fabric of a stable and civilized universe.

Children in Newtown Connecticut

My deepest condolences go to the Newtown community.  Time will never remove the grief, but I hope that it softens it, enabling them to continue living the fulfilling lives their loved ones would have wished for them.

If you want, you can tune out now, because I’m about to go political.

You and I both know that, in the wake of this slaughter, the gun control crowd will begin agitating loudly and strongly for increased limitations on weapons.  This agitation is predicated on two false beliefs:  (1) that everyone with a gun is ipso facto a bad guy; and (2) that gun control will actually remove all the guns from all the bad guys.  In my liberal days, I used to believe this myself.  I foolishly thought that Washington, D.C. could wave a magic wand and make all guns disappear, thereby making all violence disappear.

Back in the day, when I heard the NRA slogan that “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns,” I shouted it down.  “When guns are outlawed,” I shrilled, “no one will have guns.”

In the past ten years, I have had a reality check.  First, I’ve realized that there is no government on earth powerful enough to get rid of all guns, and that’s true even if the anti-gun crowd as able to revoke the entire Second Amendment.  Guns from the moment of their invention, instantly escaped from Pandora’s box.  They are part of the world.

Second, I realized that the NRA was right:  If we accept, as we must, that the guns ye will always have with you, you also accept that laws controlling guns only control those guns in the hands of good people — meaning people who are not violently inclined, but who have guns for defensive purposes and for sport.  The good people, because they are good, will yield to the law and give up their self-defensive and sports guns.  Bad people, however, by definition will not obey the laws.  They will continue to have guns.  The rest of us will be fish in a barrel, nicely gathered together for the coming massacre.

NRA Logo

The best way to think about guns is to accept that, in America, we thankfully still have vastly more good people than bad people.  Good people view guns as a means of self-defense and for sport (hunting or target shooting).  Bad believe view guns as a useful weapon to enable them to eliminate opponents, overwhelm victims, or play out their paranoid delusions.  The best way to keep the bad people from doing bad things is for them to be overwhelmed by good people who also have guns.

Having a gun does not make you bad.  However, being bad and having a gun makes you powerful.  Likewise, being unarmed does not make you good, but being unarmed in the presence of an armed bad guy makes you dead.

If several teachers at the Newtown school had owned concealed-carry weapons, there is a substantial likelihood that at least one of those teachers could have killed or disabled the shooter.  There’s no doubt that many people would still have died, but it’s much more likely that, with the shooter instantly in someone’s cross hairs, many more would have lived.  As it was, the shooter was able to go on a spree until the cops came and we all know that, when seconds count, even the best cops are minutes away.

Connecticut School Shooting

I know this sounds peculiar, but the best thing you can do now to prevent future tragedies such as that which occurred today in Connecticut is to send money to the NRA. If the Leftists leave us with a society that has only armed bad guys, we’ll all be potential Newtown, Connecticuts. Our salvation lies in making sure that there are more of us (armed good guys) than there are of them (armed bad guys) and the NRA is the way to make that happen.

UPDATE:  If you want to go deeper into the data, here’s a Harvard Law Review debunking the connection between gun control and crime reduction.  Or just look at the statistics coming out of incredibly violent, gun-controlled England.

Also for a more look at God’s ways and consolation, the Anchoress has posted.

Democrat-ruled Oakland, California, targets news crews

For decades now, the Left has been excusing crime with the old “root causes” argument:  criminals are made, not born, and they’re made by a confluence of poverty, racism, peer pressure, etc.  Because white Leftists feel guilty about this, they’ve tended to give ghetto-based criminals a pass.  It’s not their fault they’re criminals; it’s our fault, so we should not judge them harshly.

Of course, regardless of its cause, the problem with giving criminal behavior a pass is that it takes away disincentives for crime.  Anyone with a lick of sense knows that you have to attack crime at both root and branch, with the branch being those disincentives.

I mention all this because the media has been one of the major purveyors of the “pathetic criminal” meme, which is consistent with the media’s 90 Democrat demographic.  But the one thing these Lefties forgot is that revolutions always eat their own.  And that’s why we get this story coming out of Oakland, the city next door to Berkeley, with a population made up of rich white liberals and poor blacks.  Municipal government hews Left even by California standards, which may explain the abysmal poverty in which many of Oakland’s blacks live — and the crime.  Hitherto, the media has been somewhat sympathetic to the crime.  I wonder, though, if that’s all about to change:

The violent robbery of a television news crew outside an Oakland school last week was the latest in a series of similar incidents in a city where the rate of strong-arm robberies and holdups is surging.

But the brazenness of the attack – which occurred during a live broadcast in the middle of the day – has brought fresh urgency to the problem.

Union officials who represent reporters at most of the Bay Area’s major television and radio stations said Tuesday they had asked the broadcasters to immediately hire security guards to accompany news crews when they are in Oakland. At least one station has already enlisted guards, and others are considering it.

You can read the rest here.

I suspect that what brought “fresh urgency to the problem” isn’t a criminal act in a violent city, but the fact that the reporters were the targets.  (Shame on me for being so cynical.)

 

 

Capital punishment — supporting the state when it puts people to death

The death penalty is a very fraught subject.  It’s also an ironic one.  Pro-abortion people, the ones who are comfortable with third trimester abortion, can’t stand the death penalty.  Pro-Life people, the ones who think a zygote deserves as much protection as a fully realized adult, support the death penalty.

Or maybe it’s not so ironic.  The difference is the way in which the two sides value life and responsibility.  Dennis Prager explains:

Mitt was correct about China

One of the points Mitt raised in talking about trade with China is the fact that China cheats, not just be manipulating currency (which Mitt also mentioned) but also by failing to stop counterfeiting.  (I’d be willing to bet that the government encourages counterfeiting, but I don’t have any proof and am too lazy to seek it out right now).  As part of my new computer, I needed to download a driver.  On the driver download page, I found this statement from the manufacturer:

Warning Notice:

Please be warned that counterfeit (fake) PL-2303HX (Chip Rev A) USB to Serial Controller ICs using Prolific’s trademark logo, brandname, and device drivers, were being sold in the China market. Counterfeit IC products show exactly the same outside chip markings but generally are of poor quality and causes Windows driver compatibility issues (Yellow Mark Error Code 10 in Device Manager). We issue this warning to all our customers and consumers to avoid confusion and false purchase.

Please be warned that selling counterfeit products are illegal and punishable by civil and criminal courts according to the trademark, copyright, and intellectual properties laws and regulations. Prolific will take proper and severe actions to cease and confiscate these counterfeit products. Prolific also prohibits the distribution of any PL-2303 drivers (including download links) without written permission from Prolific.

Prolific advices end-users to only purchase vendor branded cable products with company name contact information for service and support. Prolific does not sell cables with Prolific brand and packaging. In case you suspect a counterfeit chip inside, you may also contact Prolific to provide the vendor information.

The above notice makes it quite clear that the counterfeiting doesn’t only steal from legitimate businesses, it also puts American businesses at risk. A fake Gucci won’t cause any problems to the end buyer beyond social humiliation. A fake computer part, though, can cause a disastrous and costly computer failure.

Found it on Facebook — misconstruing Mitt’s correct statement about marriage and gun violence

Here’s today’s Facebook find:

This poster, of course, comes from a liberal.  What the liberal doesn’t realize is that Mitt was riffing right off the liberals’ own beloved New York Times when he said that the best way to deal with gun violence is to promote marriage.  Just this July, the Times ran an article acknowledging what conservatives have known intuitively, which is that two-parent families are much less likely to live in poverty than one-parent families:

The economic storms of recent years have raised concerns about growing inequality and questions about a core national faith, that even Americans of humble backgrounds have a good chance of getting ahead. Most of the discussion has focused on labor market forces like falling blue-collar wages and lavish Wall Street pay.

But striking changes in family structure have also broadened income gaps and posed new barriers to upward mobility. College-educated Americans like the Faulkners are increasingly likely to marry one another, compounding their growing advantages in pay. Less-educated women like Ms. Schairer, who left college without finishing her degree, are growing less likely to marry at all, raising children on pinched paychecks that come in ones, not twos.

Estimates vary widely, but scholars have said that changes in marriage patterns — as opposed to changes in individual earnings — may account for as much as 40 percent of the growth in certain measures of inequality. Long a nation of economic extremes, the United States is also becoming a society of family haves and family have-nots, with marriage and its rewards evermore confined to the fortunate classes.

The next analytical step is to recognize that there is a strong correlation between poverty and crime.  Even Barack Obama acknowledged this in an ugly, back assward way when he said that “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but rich people are all for nonviolence. Why wouldn’t they be? They’ve got what they want. They want to make sure people don’t take their stuff.”  The corollary to Obama’s class warfare statement is that rich people don’t take other people’s stuff either — they buy it.

So a root cause of crime is poverty and, as the New York Times admits, a root cause of poverty is single mother parenting.  That means that Mitt didn’t say something stupid; he said something smart.  Only people in deep, deep denial would deny the wisdom of his statement that we deal with violence, not by getting rid of the Second Amendment, which is our bulwark against government tyranny, but by reaffirming traditional middle class values.

While I’m on the topic of marriage, poverty, and crime, I’ll just throw one more thing into the mix:  Daddies.  Studies show that Daddies matter when it comes to boys and crime (and boys commit vastly greater numbers of crimes than girls do).  Interestingly, it’s not clear that this Daddy statistic applies as well to two Daddy families.  Still, two Daddy (and two Mommy) families are still going to be economically more stable than a single parent family, and the single parent trap is what I believe Mitt was addressing.

Facebook is just a wellspring of clever misinformation aimed at credulous, emotionally charged liberals.

Aurora and our deadly sins

Is the media to blame for the Aurora shootings?

I would like to make the case that it is, not for any specific action that any specific media outlet has taken, but by its very nature.

In 1970, Alvin Toffler published his seminal work, Future Shock, in which he predicted that one of the big challenges that we would face in the here-and-now is an over-saturation of media-mediated information stimuli. I believe that he predicted this more accurately than even he imagined.

I propose that the most pernicious damage wrought by the media is the way that it amplifies the worst in human nature. Our Judeo-Christian heritage likes to emphasize the seven deadly sins destructive to our nature and our relationship with God, to whit: gluttony, greed, anger, envy, sloth, lust and pride.

We live in an unheard of access to wealth and information. It isn’t hard to see how our material cornucopia enables the sins of Gluttony and Greed. We are a society, as Dinesh Dsouza famously remarked, where even the poor can be fat. Sloth, well…we have a welfare state that does its utmost to protect our citizenry from the consequences of sloth, so naturally we have more of it. Anger? We enjoy a world of violent sports, video games and cinema and our media rewards demagogues for whipping-up resentments based on race or class. Flash mobs, anyone? What about Lust? Even small children have ready access to pornography in popular magazines, the cinema or from the internet…it’s being normalized. Envy? Messages that stoke peoples’ sense of entitlement to other peoples’ labor and possessions find a ready audience. The media constantly reminds us of how much “the other” has that we don’t.

The most deadly of sins, according to the ancients, is pride or vanity. It is pride that drives people to seek fame, be it by demanding the latest fashions, coloring their hair, decorating their bodies, performing on American Idol or filming themselves having sex or beating up innocent people. Pride or vanity is the craving to be noticed and acting out violence for the Videocam lense is vanity writ large.

This, as the ancients point out, has always been the case. Two hundred years ago, however, it was much harder for people to gain social approval for their worst human excesses or to get noticed for committing mass murder. First, it was hard to get the one’s primal pride messaged out beyond one’s immediate locale. Second, community involvement and trip-wire taboos imposed strict guidelines on and early intervention into aberrant human behavior. Third, when self-control failed, retribution tended to be swift.

Today, by contrast, people are encouraged by our media environment to act out (is there anything more narcissistic than “reality TV”?). We live in a Kardashian society where even young kids are encouraged to seek media fame.

People can now project their worst sinful excesses onto vaste audiences with minimal effort. Once having done so, they are guaranteed 24/7 news coverage, book rights, movie scripts and the protective umbrella of the modern justice system. Whoo-hoo! The Joker rules!

Holmes, like a string of mass murders before him, wanted fame. He wanted to be noticed. Because his pride got the best of him. Our media culture provided all the tools that he needed to amplified the worst consequences of his human nature. Take away our media-saturated environment and there would not be nearly the incentive.

So, what say you? How do we fix this?

“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels” – St. Augustine of Hippo.

Sandusky verdict open thread

I took a road trip yesterday, so I missed the “moment” of the Sandusky verdict. Based on the testimony, it seemed like the jury nailed it.

Someone emailed me an interesting question:  Why did Sandusky’s attorney sound so darn happy after his client was found guilty on almost all counts?  I suggested facetiously that he was just glad Sandusky didn’t get the death penalty, but it’s actually a good question. My friend thought that the attorney might be trying to force an appeal based upon biased or incompetent counsel.  That strikes me as a dangerous strategy, since it could easily lead to disbarment.

What do you think?

Asserting executive privilege shows desperation in the Obama White House

Wow!

Wow!

From a lawyer’s point of view, it’s hard to imagine anything more stupid than for the Obama White House to assert executive privilege as to the Fast and Furious documents.  The subpoenaed documents must have some pretty damning information for the White House to make this move.

More than that, by having asserted the privilege, the lawyer-led White House showed either a profound misunderstanding of the nature of privilege or is conceding that the Fast and Furious scandal — which saw the Justice Department pour thousands of guns into criminal hands in Mexico, resulting in the murders of two American law enforcement officers and untold numbers of Mexican and American civilians — goes all the way up to the White House.

Wow!

If you’re wondering why those two conclusions (either the White House is dumb as a collective post or guilty as sin), here’s a little information about legal “privileges.”  Once a case is in the legal system, the law imposes upon each party a duty to reveal information, provided that the opposing party properly requests that information.  When I’m advising people who are contemplating litigation, I always warn them that filing suit means giving up lots of their privacy.  They’ll be required to turn over vast numbers of documents and to answer intrusive questions, provided that the other side can credibly show that the information sought is reasonably likely to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

A typical (and appropriate) discovery request might read “Please produce all communications between you and any realtors other than the defendant regarding the sale of your home at 123 Any Road in Nowhere Town.”  Those “communications” would cover writings, emails, phone messages, etc.  I’ve worked on cases that have involved the production of hundreds of thousands of pages, answers to hundreds of questions, and innumerable live depositions.

There are relationships, however, that the law considers so important it insulates from discovery or testimony any original communications between the parties to those relationships.  The law will not involve itself in trying to ferret out communications between a priest and a penitent, nor will it interfere with the bond between husband and wife.  Likewise, recognizing that an attorney cannot give counsel to a client without full and free communications between the two, the law protects any direct communications between an attorney and his client.

In my years as an attorney, I would have to say that “attorney client privilege” is the privilege I see asserted with the greatest frequency.  What I also see is lawyers who assert it in the hope that no one notices that a lawyer isn’t actually involved in the communication at issue — or, at least, wasn’t involved initially.

The deal is that you cannot shield otherwise unprivileged information by lodging it with your attorney.  For example, if your corporate client has a memo on file that says “I’ve got a great idea for defrauding our competitor,” your client cannot prevent the other side from discovering that document by mailing it to you, the lawyer, with a cover letter saying, “You need to know about this document.”  However, to the extent your client writes you a long letter explaining everything he knows about the case, good and bad, that letter to you is privileged.  In the same way, your response explaining the legal consequences of the events described in the letter is also privileged.

More simply put:  in order to assert any legal privilege, both of the parties covered under the privilege must have participated in the communication and must have exchanged original information that does not exist independent of the privilege.

Because of the way privilege operates, we can understand Obama’s assertion of executive privilege in only three ways.  (1) Obama’s White House was either involved in Fast and Furious, which is bad; (2) or it means that Obama’s White House doesn’t understand the nature of a privilege, which is embarrassing, especially with a lawyer at the helm; (3) or it means that the documents Holder is hiding are so dreadful that Obama’s White House would rather risk looking criminal or stupid than take the risk of allowing Congress and the public to see those documents.

No matter how you look at it, by inserting itself into this struggle between Holder’s Justice Department, on the one hand, and Congress, on the other hand, the White House made an already bad situation look much, much worse.

Just as Obama vows to ignore federal law, the California State Bar vows to ignore state law

In ordinary times, criminals disregard the law.  In the PC Obama era, however, elected officials and state government agencies don’t have much use for the law either.  Take Obama, for example.  Contrary to the original headlines regarding Obama’s newly discovered immigration rights, Obama’s recent announcement regarding illegal immigration isn’t an executive order.  Instead, it’s simply an abandonment of his executive responsibilities, insofar as he has now publicly announced that he refuses to enforce the laws that the legislative branch has passed.  He’s still King Obama, taking the law in his own hands but, instead of making the law, he’s breaking the law.

It turns out that, in Obama’s America, the federal executive branch is not the only government agency that has no use for explicit laws.  In California, the State Bar is vigorously arguing that it doesn’t need no stinkin’ laws either.  Let’s begin this discussion with the law itself.

Under California law (Calif. Bus. & Prof. Code sec. 6068), a licensed attorney is obligated to support both federal and state laws:

It is the duty of an attorney do to all of the following:

(a) To support the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this state.

Attorneys cannot plead ignorance of this requirement, as they must expressly state this obligation as part of the oath of office they take as a prerequisite to becoming fully licensed (Calif. Bus. & Prof. Code sec. 6067):

I solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of an attorney and counselor at law to the best of my knowledge and ability.

Put simply, California requires that, to practice as an attorney, the licensee must orally and explicitly promise that he or she will to support, not break, either state or federal law.

With this in mind, how in the world can the State Bar of California argue that an illegal immigrant should become a licensed attorney?  Shouldn’t both the Bar’s and the newly licensed attorney’s first obligation be to turn the attorney in for violating explicit federal immigration laws?

An illegal immigrant who passes the bar exam and demonstrates good moral character should be eligible to practice law, the State Bar has declared in a court filing.

The bar, which oversees California’s 225,000 lawyers, told the state Supreme Court on Monday that federal law leaves regulation of the legal profession largely up to the states and does not appear to prohibit Sergio C. Garcia, 35, of Chico from obtaining an attorney’s license.

[snip]

The court cited two federal laws as potential obstacles. One prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving any “state or local public benefit,” including a professional license provided by a “state agency.” The other prohibits employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.

In Monday’s filing, the bar said the first law doesn’t apply because the court is a branch of state government, not a “state agency.” In 1995, the bar noted, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal courts aren’t government agencies.

[snip]

“There is no reason to believe he cannot take the oath and faithfully uphold his duties as an attorney,” the bar said. It said the policy considerations are similar to those the California court addressed in 1972, when it declared unconstitutional a state law requiring attorneys to be U.S. citizens.

It’s pure sophistry to say that the federal laws don’t apply just because the California court system is a self-regulated branch of state government.  This argument ignores entirely the fact that California’s own law, which does indeed govern, imposes upon attorneys the obligation to support the Constitution.  The Constitution, in turn, is the umbrella for federal legislation.  The same sophistry holds true when it comes to comparing legal immigrants, who have not violated any laws on their way into the country, with illegal immigrants, whose very presence is an offense to law.

What’s going on here is open-and-above-board, so it’s we’re not concerned here with ordinary “cash corruption.”  That is, this is not a situation in which a private citizen makes a payment to a government official in return for the latter’s promise to look the other way.

What we have here is worse.  We are witnessing a profound ethical corruption that sees public institutions deliberately flouting their own laws.  This is a dangerous slippery slope.  Once the reliability of law is gone, the only thing left is despotism or anarchy, with the former being the tyranny of an individual or group and the latter being the tyranny of the mob.  When political officials expressly ignore the law, they are no better than ordinary criminals.  What’s being stolen, though, is more valuable than money or jewels.  It’s the essence of our liberty.