I’ve been following the story of a retired Marin doctor and gun collector who was the target of an aggressive Marin county prosecutor in connection with the doctor’s self-defense shooting (see here and here). I’m too tired to write at length about it, but there is a happy ending, both for the man who defended himself and his wife, and for all people in Marin County who believe in their constitutional right to armed self-defense:
I spent way too much time today wearing my lawyer, daughter, and mother hats, with no time for my blogger hat. Well, the blogging time is now, and I’ve got lots of stuff to share. As is often the case when I’m tired, these are not in any particular order, so you should read the whole thing, rather than assuming “substance at the top and fluff at the bottom.”
Leftists and math
The Chicago teachers’ union is at it again, trying to suck blood out of a rock, the blood being pension funding and the rock being the virtually bankrupt city of Chicago. The friend who sent me this link had a pungent comment about the fact that, for people like Communist and labor leader Karen Lewis, math is hard:
“Once again, the board has created a fiscal crisis in order to justify its continued attack on our classrooms and communities,” Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “By citing its so-called $1.5 billion deficit, the mayor is proposing a reduction in teaching staff which will result in larger class sizes and the loss of teaching positions.”
At the center of the complaint is the Chicago Board of Education, which wants teachers, social workers and other union members to take a 7 percent pay cut by paying their own pension contributions in order to address some of the city’s economic problems. The union, which has rejected the pension reform proposal, has accused the board of bad-faith bargaining for refusing to reach an agreement of substance in talks which began in November.
Lewis accused the school system of being “broke on purpose” and for retaliating against the union simply because it opposed Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the recent reelection.
I love that phrase: “Broke on purpose.” I’m going to have to try to work it into my own day-to-day life.
A cri de couer re the suddenly ubiquitous trigger warnings
As is true for many of us, Michael Rubin didn’t see trigger warnings coming. It’s just that suddenly there they were, censoring people left and right — although really mostly to the Right, leaving the field open to the only group sensitive enough to avoid all trigger warnigs: Hard core Leftists. Rubin understands what’s really going on and has a suggestion of his own:
All trigger warnings should have a trigger warning so that no one who has experienced or fled from a repressive society might suffer post-traumatic stress reminding them of the authoritarian, Orwellian oppression from which they fled. Millions of people in the countries which comprised the Soviet Union, as well as in China, Cambodia, and Eastern Europe, not to mention tens of thousands of people in Iran, Vietnam, Ethiopia, and Eritrea have lost loved ones or spent time in prison/re-education camps for not abiding by the state’s determination of what they should think and believe. Trigger warnings, even if well intentioned, might remind them of this oppressive and sometimes lethal political correctness and cause undue stress. Accordingly, in order to protect the mental well-being of those who value liberty, intellectual freedom, and oppose censorship, perhaps it’s time to agree to put trigger warnings ahead of trigger warnings to ensure that no one is inadvertently stressed out by the decline in mental and intellectual maturity and the infantilization of society which trigger warnings represent.
The person who brings a gun to a free speech fight is ALWAYS wrong
The practically moribund, but still breathing, Time Magazine, to its credit, gave Pamela Geller space in which to make her case. Her case is the correct one. I urge all of you to read this and, if you have a Facebook page, Twitter account, or email round-Robin, to send it along.
The attack in Garland showed that everything my colleagues and I have been warning about regarding the threat of jihad, and the ways in which it threatens our liberties, is true. Islamic law, Sharia, with its death penalty for blasphemy, today constitutes a unique threat to the freedom of speech and liberty in general.
Freedom of speech is the foundation of a free society. Without it, a tyrant can wreak havoc unopposed, while his opponents are silenced.
Putting up with being offended is essential in a pluralistic society in which people differ on basic truths. If a group will not stand for being offended without resorting to violence, that group will rule unopposed, while everyone else lives in fear.
Many in the media and academic elite assign no blame to an ideology that calls for death to blasphemers — i.e., those who criticize or offend Islam. Instead, they target and blame those who expose this fanaticism. If the cultural elites directed their barbs and attacks at the extremist doctrine of jihad, the world would be a vastly safer place.
Read the whole thing and try to get everyone else you know to do so too.
That’s the redoubtable, inimitable, absolutely necessary Pamela Geller in her own words. For other good words about free speech, I recommend David French’s “Pamela Geller’s Critics Are Proving Her Point,” and Rich Lowry’s “Why Won’t Pamela Geller Shut Up?” Both these articles are must-reads.
Also, if you want a perfect Kodak moment of Leftist hypocrisy, check out John Nolte’s post about the New York Times, which condemns Geller from bashing one religion while it bashes another.
Oh, and one more thing: our craven government security forces — that would be the FBI and Homeland Security — haven’t even bothered to talk to Geller about the threats against her life from Islamists.
James Franco in praise of McDonald’s
I love McDonald’s Chicken Selects and believe that they serve the best french fries around. Wherever you are, it’s a reliable, cheap meal. McDonald’s is also a great entry level job, teaching youngsters such virtues as punctuality, reliability, and hard work. So even though I find him distasteful, I have to applaud James Franco for writing a WaPo opinion piece praising McDonald’s.
Shy Tories strike again
In 1992, in England, polls indicated that many fewer Brits would vote Conservative than would vote for Labour. In fact, Conservatives won by a substantial margin. And thus was born the “shy Tory factor” which said that, in a climate in which Leftists humiliate, berate, and otherwise attack conservatives, people lie to pollsters about their voting preferences. That seems to have happened again in England, where David Cameron took an unexpected lead — unexpected, that is, to all of those who forgot the shy Tory factor.
Tom Cotton takes a principled stand against a Constitution-weakening Trojan Horse
Tom Cotton was the only Senator to vote against the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. He did so for all the right reasons. In his own words:
“A nuclear-arms agreement with any adversary—especially the terror-sponsoring, Islamist Iranian regime—should be submitted as a treaty and obtain a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate as required by the Constitution. President Obama wants to reverse this rule, requiring opponents to get a two-thirds vote to stop his dangerous deal. But Congress should not accept this usurpation, nor allow the president any grounds to claim that Congress blessed his nuclear deal. I will work with Republicans and Democrats to stop a dangerous deal that would put Iran on the path to obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
I like that young man.
Harrison Bergeron comes to life
I’ve often mentioned Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “Harrison Bergeron,” which is set in a dystopian future where everyone is equal. Vonnegut, in the days before he turned into a brain-dead Leftist, realized a core problem with the whole “everyone must be perfectly equal” movement: You cannot make dumb people smart, or slow people fast, or ugly people beautiful; however, you can make smart people dumb, fast people slow, and beautiful people ugly. In other words, the only way to level society is to lower society — that is, to bring everyone in it to the lowest common denominator.
Kevin Williamson points out that, decades after Vonnegut wrote his timeless story, the Left is still busily trying to bring America down to the lowest common denominator.
Vandalism just cheapens our cause
I did a post about the attack on Christianity, and used as one of my discussion points a stupid church sign in Mill Valley that likened God and Joseph to gay men who parented Jesus. I used speech to attack speech, which epitomizes the marketplace of ideas.
Unfortunately, someone vandalized the sign, which is not an argument; it’s just tantamount to a heckler’s veto and makes us no better than the Left. It would have been so much better to have emailed my post to everyone in Mill Valley….
There won’t always be an England
When I lived in England more than 30 years ago, the North was much more British than the more cosmopolitan South. There were many fewer foreigners living there, and the old towns had people whose families had lived in the region for hundreds of years.
I therefore always find it particularly appalling when I read articles describing the Islamisization of Yorkshire — a trend that carries with it anti-British sentiment, antisemitism, misogyny, homophobia, and a whole host of other disgusting social pathologies that Islam invariably trails in its wake.
The Leftist revolution continues to eat its own
All I can offer you is the lede to this Daily Caller story. You have to read the whole thing yourself to appreciate it fully:
Students at Dartmouth College launched a petition drive demanding the newly-elected student body president resign after they say he was disrespectful to the plight of American blacks and other marginalized groups.
The twist: The president is a gay black man.
Wolf Howling sent me this story. I wrote him back to say that the phrase about revolutions eating their own was the right idea for what I wanted to say, but it just had too brawny and masculine a feel for what’s going on. Seeing a fight like the one at Dartmouth is kind of like watching Lord of the Flies, only with a cast of feral two-year olds.
Is Hillary too sick to be president?
If this D.C. gossip story about Hillary’s seriously fragile health, centered around brain damage issues, is true, Hillary is committing a fraud against the American people. Of course, there’s nothing new about that, so why am I even getting excited about it?
Even when Leftists get close to the truth, they veer away before touching it
My friend Patrick O’Hannigan caught something interesting in Vanity Fair when Leftist pundit James Woolcott tried to write an even-handed critique about dishonesty in the American media: with the best will in the world, he couldn’t do it. His bias just kept oozing out.
Which reminds me of a Scientific American article by Piercarlo Valdesolo that’s been making the rounds. In it, Valdesolo acknowledges that strong Leftist bias in social psychology and acknowledges that it perverts study outcomes and analyses. He notes that conservatives say that the answer is to allow more conservatives into these liberal only enclaves, both to get studies with other viewpoints, and to get necessary push back on the Leftists’ own work.
One would think that, have admitted that it’s a problem that there are no conservatives in the field, Valdesolo would agree that the field needs more conservatives. If one thought that, one would think wrong. Instead, Valdesolo says that liberals simply have to be more vigilant about their biases. James Woolcott’s failure pretty much illustrates everything that’s wrong with Valdesolo’s inability to contemplate doing away with Leftist academic monopolies.
Heading into a another cooling period
Even as the Left gets increasingly hysterical about “climate change,” which has become an all-purpose excuse for everything from drought, to deluge, to prostitution, actual data reveals that, to the extent the climate is changing, it’s getting colder. This is really bad because, as the California drought is reminding everyone, the one thing we can’t do without is water.
During warming periods, water trapped in ice is released, making the world a wetter and therefore more bountiful place. During cold cycles, though, there’s less available water, which severely cramps human access to arable land. Just think of Greenland, which was actually fruitful during the warming Middle Ages. Today, “Greenland” is a serious misnomer:
Alan Dershowitz challenges the talk about boycotting Netanyahu’s speech
Read and enjoy Alan Dershowitz’s fiery denunciation of the Obama administration’s efforts to get Democrats — especially black ones — to boycott Netanyahu’s speech about the existential threat Obama’s policies pose to Israel.
I won’t comment on the article — it speaks for itself — but I will comment on a couple of peripheral things. Dershowitz is a Democrat, but he’s also an ardent Israel supporter. I therefore can’t help but think that, as Obama prepares to break with Israel and ally America with Iran, it’s not a coincidence that Dershowitz suddenly found himself swept up in the pedophile sex scandal involving Jeffrey Epstein.
I have been engaged engaged in a running battle . . . er, discussion with a Progressive acquaintance about the Castle Doctrine. This is the doctrine derived from the ancient Anglo-Saxon principle that “a man’s home is his castle” and he has a right to be safe within its wells. In practice, the Castle Doctrine means that, if someone breaks into a home, that person is presumed to have lethal intent, giving the homeowner the right to use lethal force in his defense.
As I detailed in an earlier post, my Progressive acquaintance simply can’t wrap his mind around the whole notion of “presumption.” To him, it means “permission” and, flowing from that gross mis-translation, he interprets this permission to mean that, in Castle Doctrine states, a homeowner can, with impunity, shoot anyone on his property.
Yesterday, I sent the Progressive the news story about a 14-year-old boy who was staying with his grandmother when, late at night, a man smashed a window. When the teen challenged the man, the man ignored him and continued to try to break into the house. The teen shot the man — 18-year-old Isai Robert Delcid — three times, killing him.
As of next weekend, the Golden Gate Bridge will have a new movable barrier in place. It will have cost $30.3 million to build and install.
With the new barrier in place, in the last quarter-mile before getting on the bridge, drivers coming from Marin will have to drive at 45 mph, rather than 55 mph. People who are used to driving in the right lanes heading towards the bridge (because, up until now, the left lanes vanish), will discover that the reverse is now true: the right lanes vanish, leaving only the left lanes. In addition, on the bridge itself, the left lanes in both directions will lose 6 inches:
Once on the span, drivers will lose 6 inches of lane.
“Just getting used to driving next to the barrier may take some adjustment for drivers,” Fehler said.
California Highway Patrol spokesman Andrew Barclay agreed.
“People need to use caution,” he said. “There will be an adjustment period. But we support anything that promotes safety for the traveler.”
Maybe I’m just a nervous nelly, but I see a few drivers tangling with that barrier or, worse, getting too close to cars on their right, causing accidents.
Why all this money and all these changes?
The bridge district says the barrier will prevent potentially deadly head-on accidents.
Hmmm. I wasn’t aware that deadly head-on accidents were that much of a problem on the bridge. I mean, I’ve always known that they’re a risk, which is why I prefer, when driving on the bridge, to stay away from the left lanes but, again, I don’t recall a whole bunch of accidents.
It turns out that there’s a reason I don’t recall a whole bunch of accidents. There aren’t a whole bunch:
There have been 36 fatalities on the span since 1971, the last on July 3, 2001, with 16 fatalities occurring in head-on crashes. About 40 million cars a year cross the 1.7-mile bridge.
So, not only has there not been a fatal accident in more than 13 years, you don’t need to be a math genius to figure out that, with 1,720,000,000 car crossing the bridge since 1971, 16 fatalities due to head-on crashes is such an infinitesimally small percentage that I can’t get my calculator to tell me just how small. Perhaps one of you — less math challenged than I am — can do the numbers.
Every death is a tragedy. Every person who dies is someone’s parent, child, sibling, relative, spouse, friend, or lover. In a perfect world, no one would die ever.
But we don’t live in a perfect world. So my question for you is, assuming that the Marin IJ got its numbers correct, is it smart to spend more than $30 million dollars, inconvenience drivers, and create possible road hazards, in order to protect that almost invisibly small percentage of drivers who get killed in head-on collisions, with the last death occurring more than 13 years ago?
Does this kind of project reveal us to be a society that values life or a society that could use its money more wisely to save or improve life?
As you can see, I’m inclined to think that this is a boondoggle, not a necessity or even an act of decency. I stand ready to be dissuaded, though, with better facts, better arguments, better logical, and/or more decency than I’m showing.
As I predicted over the last few days to anyone who would listen to me, the storm (at least so far) was over-hyped. The reason I knew this was because I check the weather regularly during the rainy season. I do this because I like rain, and it gives me something to look forward to.
According to Weather.com and Weather Underground, the storm was originally predicted to hit by Tuesday night. Every time I checked, though, the prediction was pushed further forward in time. From Tuesday night it went to Wednesday morning, then Wednesday mid-day, then afternoon, then evening, than late night, then the wee hours of Thursday, then the early hours of Thursday and, finally, late morning Thursday.
Since we’re just coming up on late morning Thursday, there’s definitely the possibility that the weather could worsen, but I kind of doubt it. The storm mostly seems to be moving past us.
I’m not complaining about the storm as is, rather than as predicted. It’s dropped a lot of water on Marin, and we can always use that. For about 20 minutes, it rained really hard and water ran down our street (which is a hill) in a pretty impressive way . . . but it does that at least once every winter. As a general principle, given Marin’s and California’s terrible drought, though, any rain is a good thing.
The best thing about the failed storm from my point of view is that I’ll be able to get my Mom to her doctor’s appointment. From the kids’ point of view, the best thing is that they didn’t have to go to school. I would have been more excited if they had gone to school, but that’s just me….
Dear Neighbors and Friends,
We only have until December 9th to convince the Supervisors to make MAJOR changes to Marin County’s DRAFT Housing Plan in order to prevent excessive high-density housing in Unincorporated Marin. The only way this will happen is if we can demonstrate STRONG political clout. Presenting hundreds, better yet thousands, of petition signatures will help accomplish this.
Why is this a “time warp edition”? Because even though I’m publishing it on Saturday, I actually wrote it on Friday. The reason delayed publishing is because I’m spending all day Saturday attending part II of my CERT training. I expect the training to be more of the same stuff as last week: really nice, well-informed, generous people inefficiently teaching four hours of useful information over the course of eight hours.
Rather than leaving my blog fallow for that time, I thought I’d prep a post in advance. The only reason I’m mentioning the 14-hour lead time is to explain why, if something dramatic happens in the news tomorrow, you won’t read about it at the Bookworm Room. And now, it’s time for yesterday’s news today!
Marin County is a very nice place in which to live and one of the nicest towns in Marin County is Corte Madera. Once upon a time, back in the 1960s and 1970s, before real estate went crazy, it was where the elite of Marin’s blue-collar workers owned houses. You wouldn’t find the grease monkey there, but you might find the guy who owned the gas station at which the grease monkey worked. Now, of course, a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom can set you back upwards of $600,000, while the nicer, bigger homes run close to about $1.5 million. It’s ridiculous.
What’s even more ridiculous as far as I’m concerned is that state judges and the state legislature have told us that it’s unfair that we live this way and, instead, that we have to increase our density to match more closely San Francisco’s density. San Francisco is a little under 7 square miles large and has a density of almost 18,000 people per square mile. Of course, this urbanization plan is part of a general Democrat plan to destroy suburbs, which have a nasty habit of leaning conservative.
Ironically, it turns out that all the good liberals who populate Corte Madera, and who vote into office every crackpot Leftist, are NIMBYs at heart. While they’ll applaud urbanization in theory, they really hate it in fact.
Nobody was paying much attention when the Association of Bay Area Governments (“ABAG”), to which Corte Madera once belonged, through a gross error, insisted that Corte Madera provide more than 200 low-income housing units. Nor were they paying much attention when those low-income housing units went up near my home, because there’s still fairly good traffic flow where we live — not to mention the fact that the units are closer to a commercial district than they are to an existing residential district.
When people started paying attention was when the site of a former WinCup factory suddenly started being developed. Sure, we’d had notices of hearings and such but you know how it is . . . people just kind of ignore those.
It turned out that we had ignored this one at our peril. On a street that is routinely heavily congested, a developer has built up an incredibly ugly apartment complex with more than 180 units. During the endless construction, traffic has been moving at a slow crawl for hours on a street that is the only access to places such as the Department of Motor Vehicles or Book Passage, which is Marin’s most beloved independent book seller. It’s also one of only two main access roads to the local high school and the police station.
Although miserable about it, there’s not much townspeople can do about the WinCup site. It’s a done deal. But now there’s a new fight heating up.
On the same street as the WinCup building site is a movie theater. It’s not just any movie theater. Century Theatres is a stand-alone theater (as opposed to a multiplex) with an absolutely fantastic sound system that George Lucas himself had installed when he released The Phantom Menace. It’s also one of the few places, other than hanging around malls and parks, to which local teens can go. While Corte Madera, Larkspur, and Greenbrae used to have easily accessible roller skating and ice skating rinks, as well as other youth oriented activities, they don’t now.
The theater’s owner is planning on selling and a developer wants to buy and build thirty-one more houses on the property. As a general principle, I am all for being able to sell ones property . . . but I’m also in favor of a community being able to have a say in its own planning.
Thanks to ABAG rules and judge-made law, though, that autonomy is gone. Ideally, if a majority of a town’s citizens want more housing, that’s their prerogative. If they want less, that should be their prerogative too. For example, here in Corte Madera, we’ve all paid a ridiculous fortune to buy into a certain type of community, subject to well-established zoning rules. (Meaning that someone who owns commercial property can reasonably understand that he can only sell it to another commercial property buyer.) To convert a business site into a heavily populated residential site to satisfy a leftist desire to clump people together because clumped people vote Democrat (more Democrat even than Marin already does) is irksome.
I have a special objection to all this building and it’s one that goes to the very heart of a community’s viability. Marin last put in a reservoir in the very early 1960s. Since that time, more than 100,000 people have crowded into Marin, with ABAG’s and the court’s urbanization mandates promising many more thousands of people. This attempt to pack people in, so that we’re an ugly version of San Francisco, ignores the reality of northern California, which is that, like clock-work, we have major droughts every thirty or so years. You can’t keep cramming more and more people into a place with an already finite water supply, knowing that there will inevitably be another drought coming down the pike.
Anyway, yesterday was the Town Council meeting to discuss the proposed dwellings for the theater site. Some people wanted to keep the theater. Others were amenable to another business moving into the site. All were hostile to cramming even more people and cars into a narrow corridor that cannot handle the existing number of people and cars, and into a drought-stricken community that can barely handle existing demands on water resources. The Town Council agreed with the citizens, but admitted that the judicial and state mandates left its hands somewhat tied — and this is true even though Corte Madera has parted ways with ABAG, making it the only Marin town to do so.)
What ended up happening is that the Town Council agreed to impose a 45 day moratorium on any new development in that specific area, with a hearing to determine whether to extend the moratorium to 2 years. Under the moratorium, the town can study again what the impact of new residential units will be on the affected area. As one member of the public intelligently commented, studies and real life are two different things, so it’s useful to see just how badly (or not badly) things such as traffic flow really are with the WinCup building in place.
You can read more about the Town Council meeting. I just thought I’d lead in with my two cents.
Both kids started texting me a few minutes ago, which came as a surprise, since they’re not supposed to text while class is in session. In fact, class is not in session. Instead, the school is in lock-down. The rumor amongst the kids, all of whom are madly texting each other, is that there’s a kid with a gun roaming the school. They don’t actually know. What they know is that the police station is across the street, that when the lock-down started they were told it wasn’t a drill, and that there might have been a shot fired in a bathroom, but even that’s not certain.
The latest rumor is that the police did confiscate a gun, and are sweeping the school. I’ll keep you posted.
UPDATE: I know that, once we’re all home together, Mr. Bookworm will start ranting about the Second Amendment, and not in a good way. He simply cannot comprehend that the best deterrent would be the armed person’s knowledge that each teacher has a gun. I’m a whole lot more worried about deranged students than I am about a teacher with a concealed carry weapon suddenly going postal. That’s especially true at this school, where the teachers have the world’s cushiest teaching job: gorgeous environment, great pay and benefits, and no violent or otherwise awful students.
UPDATE II: Lots of sirens in the distance, so I know that the police are still heading to the school, not away from it.
UPDATE III: From one of my kids: “I’m hearing a lot about someone planning a shooting. A friend just texted me saying that her friend heard gunshots. Not sure what’s going on, but still on lockdown.”
UPDATE IV: The solidified rumor is that a kid — identity unknown — came to school intending to shoot one or more people, but something happened that tipped off the plan, leading to the lock-down and police presence.
UPDATE V: The kids are more perturbed by the number of police showing up than they were about the original lock-down. Or at least, that’s the excuse my younger one is using to argue that he shouldn’t have to go to school tomorrow. I explained that, just as it’s probably pretty safe to fly after an airport or airline scare, because everyone is super vigilant, tomorrow should be a pretty safe day at school.
UPDATE VI: The new rumor is that there was a large planned shooting and that the police are trying to get to the bottom of it. I don’t know. I see this as a rumor from my child who really, really would love to skip a day of school and is trying to spin the situation to his advantage.
UPDATE VII: Now both children have announced that they’re done with school for the week: “This is freaky. We’ve been in lockdown for an hour now. I don’t want to go to school tomorrow.”
UPDATE VIII: And it’s over. They’ve been released from lock-down and school continues as usual. I can’t wait to see what the principal has to say about this in the email I know I’ll get soon.
UPDATE VIII: One of my kids filled me in on the latest rumors: Apparently several Marin high schools, not just Redwood, went into lock-down. That report came about because kids were texting their friends at other high schools who also said they were on lock-down. There were also rumors that someone was shot, although that appears to be untrue. What definitely happened was that, as the lock-down continued, people started hyperventilating and otherwise having panic attacks.
Now that the whole thing is over, Story One is that a kid was in the restroom trying to load a gun and dropped the bullets, giving the game away. Story Two is that a kid took out an insulin injector, someone saw it, thought it was a gun, and started the panic. It should be interesting to hear what really happened — or at least what the police and the school district are going to tell people really happened.
UPDATE IX: Yet another rumor: It was a BB gun. We do live in a paranoid age, although a BB gun certainly can do damage.
UPDATE X: And finally, the official word from the school newspaper, which is that the whole thing was much ado about nothing:
According to [Police Lieutenant Sean] Smith, the threat turned out to be a false alarm.
“After surveillance footage we looked at, we determined what student had come in to the bathroom and left, and what classroom he was going in. We made contact with him and brought him out, made sure he didn’t have anything on him,” Smith said. “The weapon turned out to be a medical pin that made a clicking noise, and the top had fallen off.”