Thursday, June 19, 2014

On The Lunkheadedness Of A Wealth-Worshiping Koch-Loving Prevaricator

...what makes us angrier? 25 million dollars from conservative business owners who fix elections, suppress voters and shape policies which negatively impact million of Black folks nationwide? Or the fact that our schools can't afford to tell the Koch brothers' where to shove it? ~ Jarrett L. Carter, in regards to a Koch Brothers donation to the United Negro College Fund. (Quote excerpted from his 6/11/2014 article, "Koch Brothers' UNCF Gift Is Worst Symptom of HBCU Financial Crisis".

A lie about me from the blog of one Willis V. Hart is what I will be addressing with this post. Because if he's going to specifically mention me on his blog - and interject a big fat whopper about me into a post that would otherwise have nothing to do with me - well, I've got no choice but to author a response. Regardless of whether or not he reads it (and I am quite positive he will not).

Willis Hart: "On the Koch Brothers Donating $25,000,000 to the United Nergro College Fund"... By my count that's approximately $24,999,999 more than wd and the rest of those lunkheads (aka experts at spending other people's money) have ever donated to the thing. (6/16/2014 AT 5:03pm).

Apparently a "lunkhead" in the dictionary of Willis Hart is someone who does not worship wealth as he does. So what if they donated a ton of money to whatever charitable group? That hardly makes up for all the evil they do. By "evil", I mean, fund causes (think tanks, campaigns, etc) in an attempt to steer our government in a more Libertarian direction. So they can pay workers less, pollute more, pay less in taxes, etc.

Everything I, as a Democrat on the side of hard working Americans, am opposed to. So they spend some of their vast fortune in an attempt to buy some goodwill? Lunkheads like the Hartster lap it up. In their minds "we the people" shouldn't be deciding what causes are of value to society (and should receive funding). Those decisions should be left up to the wealthy people he loves and worships (metaphorically, not literally).

In regards to the LIE, I never said a damn thing (on the blog of Willis or elsewhere) about how the Kochs should spend "their" money. "Their" in quotes because - If the country were run the way I believe it should be - they'd be forced to pay workers more and to contribute more in taxes.

Or, they wouldn't exist because we wouldn't need them. Wouldn't need them because a lot more businesses would be co-ops. Businesses owned by workers so that the majority of the profits go to the people who actually do the work and not parasites who benefit from the labor of others.

That said, I'm a believer in capitalism and certainly do not wish to flip us to any kind of Communist system. The Koch brothers are free to do with "their" money as they see fit. That I've EVER said one word about me spending their money is a complete and total fabrication. What the dishonest Hartster refers to as "other people's money" is tax money. But tax money, once collected, no longer belongs to whomever it was collected from... you idiot!

Also, in regards to Rusty Schmuckelford saying "you wont see [other Lefty bloggers including] WD... give any credit to the Koch brothers... they will just try to denigrate them"... to which I say, damn straight.

Rusty also lumps rAtional nAtion into that group, and in response to that Mr. nAtion posted the following...

rAtional nAtion: ...reason tells me their philanthropic endeavors are carefully selected to serve their interests. IOW, where they get the biggest bang for their millions. Not much different than Soros actually. (6/17/2014 AT 5:28am).

I actually agree with Lester. Although in the case of George Soros, he is on the side that wishes to raise the taxes of folks like him... quite UNLIKE the Koch Brothers. So Lester is WAY wrong in that regard. He isn't, at least, as naive as Willis or Schmuckelford.

It should be noted that the UNCF President/CEO - who DEFENDED accepting the gift that will go to historically black colleges and universities) - said the purpose of the Koch donation was to "to give the impression of support for Black people without the troublesome task of directly doing so".


So, does that mean I think the UNCF should have told the Kochs to shove their donation? I surely wish they could have comfortably done that (because they did not desperately need it). But I'm not going to say they should have rejected the money (not my decision to make in any case). I am, however, going to agree with the criticisms of the Kochs by Jarrett L. Carter (as quoted at the top of my commentary).

The Kochs are the worst of the worst when it comes to plutocrats bribing our politicians and spending their ill-gotten gains to corrupt our political system in their favor. And the Kochs most certainly are in favor of suppressing votes and shaping policies which negatively impact millions of Black folks nationwide. Given that, there is no way in hell I would even think of praising them (even to a tiny degree) for this attempt to buy goodwill.

Although it clearly worked in regards to gullible lunkheads and stooges like Willis and Schmuckelford.

SWTD #262, wDel #67.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

On "Their" Being Something Missing From An Idiot Blogger's Healthcare Free Market Magic Argument

Thirty-two of the thirty-three developed nations have universal health care, with the United States being the lone exception ~ quote from True Cost, a blog on American policy, economics, and social issues, as examined through the concept of "true cost".

rAtional nAtion, an individual I frequently disagree with recently made a comment on the blog of Willis Hart which I believe has some merit to it.

rAtional nAtion: I'm wondering if their is something missing here. I recall seeing an actual bill for childbirth back in the day. Total cost just over 300 dollars. Ever shopped for health insurance on the private market? It's interesting that prices for comparable plans Don't vary much and prices never seem to come down. (6/10/2014 AT 7:42pm).

This is in response to a Willis Hart Libertarian-bullplop "the free market can solve all our problems" screed, as follows...

Willis Hart: On the Idiotic Assertion that Competition Won't Bring Down the Cost of Healthcare Because Healthcare is a Necessity... This is an easy one to refute, folks. All that you have to do is compare healthcare spending as percentage of GDP prior to Medicare and Medicaid with that of what it's been since these programs. And here's the evidence. For the first 180 years or so of the republic, healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP was consistently in the low to middle single-digits, and it wasn't until government got massively involved (in the 1960s) that the numbers started skyrocketing.

And the reasons for this are obvious. Whenever government gets into the business of subsiding something, the cost of that something invariably escalates. That, and the third-party payment system acts as a disincentive for folks to shop around and be better consumers, take better care of themselves, etc. I mean, I know that the phrase, "getting rid of the middle man", has gotten a little clicheish over the years but in this instance I gotta go along with it. (6/10/2014 AT 7:23pm).

Like the Word Salad Man I am also wondering if "their" is something missing. Scratch that... I'm positive THERE is something missing... because I know what it is. Missing from Hart's analysis of the healthcare market is the fact that other industrialized nations have Single Payer insurance. And THEIR subsidization is very high. However, their costs are much lower. But Willis foolishly overlooks this fact to make his magical "free market" argument.

Turns out it is Willis Hart's nonsense that is easy to refute. We really SHOULD get rid of the "middle man" and costs really would come down. Except we should replace the middle man who greedily desires huge profits (the private HC insurance companies) and replace them with a middle man that will do the job for no profit. That would be Single payer, a middle man insurance setup (and we do need to do this via insurance) where everything is under the control of We The People.

So, REALLY, why did health care costs being skyrocketing in the 60s? Willis blames government subsidization, and foolishly says it's "obvious" that "whenever government gets into the business of subsiding something, the cost of that something invariably escalates".

Sorry, but no, that was NOT the reason. As Forbes points out, in an article titled the "capitalist case for nonprofit health insurance", the reason for the costs going up was because we switched from a nonprofit to a profit model.

financial writer John Girouard: If you want to know what went wrong with our healthcare system and the best way to fix it, all you have to do is look back a few decades to a time when health care was a community concern, considered as essential as any public utility. ... Blue Cross, the most recognizable name, began in 1929 as a tax-exempt insurer covering a community of teachers in Dallas. Blue Shield was started as a tax-exempt insurer to cover employees of mining and lumber companies in the Pacific Northwest, with a group of local doctors providing care through a service bureau. We lost the positive aspects of affiliation health insurance starting in the 1960s and through the 1980s when Wall Street discovered there was money to be made turning nonprofit health insurers, hospitals and nursing homes into investor-owned companies. (Link to the 10/12/2009 article).

The greed of Wall Street is why the United States did not go the route of the other 32 developed nations. By the way, the "True Cost" blog says "the US will have universal health care in 2014 using an insurance mandate system" but this is not true given the SCOTUS decision that individual states could refuse the Medicaid expansion. Those too poor to afford HCI in those states still are without access. As a result 5.7 million Americans in 24 states that could otherwise qualify for Medicaid have been left behind - that is according to the White House website.

In addition, a transition to Single Payer is at least feasible, unlike the foolish Hartster's idea of getting rid of HCI altogether (except for catastrophic coverage). I guess he thinks Congress will be able (and willing) to pass a law getting rid of insurance companies... then what? Some people die during the transition period as people "shopping around" begins to drive down prices.

More likely quite a few people would die before the HC providers realized they had to make due with less profit. Although I imagine a lot of hospitals would close their doors. Yeah, I think a LOT of people would be onboard for this brilliant plan of action... NOT.

And I guess he thinks that when everyone is "shopping around" for the lowest prices, the HC insurers won't gouge for that catastrophic coverage because... who the f*ck knows?

A better idea? Transition to Single Payer by allowing people to buy into Medicare. Slowly the HC insurers would go not for profit or go out of business.

Finally, the assertion that competition won't bring down costs because healthcare is a necessity is not "idiotic", it is TRUE.

Joe Flower, author of Healthcare Beyond Reform: Doing It Right for Half the Cost: For the most part, people do not access health care for fun. Recreational colonoscopies are not big drivers of health care costs. In some cases, such as cosmetic surgery or laser eye corrections, the decision is clearly one the buyer can make. It's a classic economic decision: "Do I like this enough to pay for it?" But for the most part, people only access healthcare because they feel they have to.


Risk has no relation to ability to pay. A poor person does not suddenly discover an absolute need to buy a new Jaguar, but may well suddenly discover an absolute need for the services of a neurosurgeon, an oncologist, a cancer center, and everything that goes with it. And the need is truly absolute. The demand is literally, "You obtain this or you die".

A person can shop around for the lowest price, but for a market to be "free" a person must be able to decide NOT to buy at all. Supply and demand drives a free market, and, obviously, when the demand is such that people must buy your product or die, the supplier can charge more. The only thing idiotic here is that someone would be deluded enough (by Libertarian free market fantasies) to believe this is not the case.

SWTD #261, wDel #66. See also OST #19.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

On The Libertarian Idiocy of Equating Taxation With Armed Robbery

Taxation with representation ain't so hot either ~ Gerald Barzan*.

My response to the Libertarian idiocy of equating taxation with armed robbery, as articulated in the following commentary from the blog of a democracy-distrusting and State-hating (and fearing) paranoid... Specifically in regards to the following delusional rant...

Willis Hart: Yeah, Maybe We DO Need Some Gun-Control... Holding a gun to Stan's head and making him pay for Phil's hip replacement seems like such a morally untenable position and, yet, that is exactly what the socialist thugs have been advocating for close to a century now. Running out of other people's money, indeed. (6/7/2014 AT 10:23pm).

Pure stupidity, as well as vehemently anti-government and anti-reality. All governments employ a certain degree of socialism in order that vast swaths of people are not denied the necessities they require to live. Health care is one of those necessities of life. Wealth under a capitalist system tends to concentrate at the top. No economic system is perfect, and this is capitalism's big flaw.

Yet Libertarians DON'T consider it any kind of theft at all when the rich and powerful use their power to steal from workers (by paying them LESS than the value of their labor) in order that they can accumulate even more wealth.

Because of this flaw The People in this representative democracy have decided (via voting) that we need Progressive taxation. In our REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY THE PEOPLE DECIDED THIS BY VOTING! We may be a nation of individuals, but society has needs as well, and it is the job of government to see to it that those needs are met.

Only total morons would refer to the meeting of these needs as "theft", especially given the fact that we all have a vote! What other way SHOULD we see to it that the needs of society are met in the addled brains of these Libertarian stupids?

Run out of "other people's" money? Yeah, that really is something that we should be quite concerned about... much more so than our poverty problem... NOT.

"Wealth, Income, and Power" by G. William Domhoff, Excerpt: In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2010, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 35.4% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 53.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 89%, leaving only 11% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one's home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.1%. (from the website Who Rules America).

No sane individual, in my strong opinion, would spend most of their time worrying about rich people RUNNING OUT of money when the top 1 percent has 35.4% of it. This type of a mindset is a kind of mental illness, I believe, and the Hartster suffers from it GREATLY, writing post after post on his blog in which he ruminates on the plight of the wealthy and imaginary "socialist thugs" who want to steal all that they have.

As someone who worships at the altar of the wealthy, the story put forth by Willis (Stan being forced at gunpoint to pay for Phil's hip replacement surgery) illustrates his serious lack of perspective. This fool is more concerned about the rich Stan "running out of money" than he is that Phil, without that surgery, might end up an invalid lying in his bed - unable to work and contribute to society - and be unable to provide for his family too.

Me, I'd rather get Phil that surgery so he can get back to work and provide for his family - because he will have to go on public assistance in order to LIVE otherwise. I mean, unless this idiot's suggestion is that we let Phil live in excruciating pain... and he and his family lose everything and become homeless - which course of action will actually cost less? (this is an EASY one folks). And it BY FAR the more morally untenable situation as well.

Most people (rich or middle class or in between) realize that paying taxes is a necessary to live in a civilized society. Only a very small number complain and falsely equate taxation to armed robbery. We know them as "Libertarians" (and Republicans, to a lesser extent). This (Libertarianism) is an selfish ideology that says the greedy rich person has little to no responsibility to society as a whole.

Taxes in a democracy are NOT robbery, armed or otherwise... they are what we have all agreed (via voting) is necessary. Taxation with representation might not be so hot either (when you're the one paying), but all rational people acknowledge it's necessity... and they don't moronically suggest "gun control" for federal agents come to collect the taxes of people who refuse to pay.

If you believe that taxes should be lower vote Republican... or Libertarian (which very few people actually do). In regards the various method by which society can be run, democracy is the fairest, so complaints about "robbery" when we're doing things as fairly as we can is beyond ridiculous.

And by "as fairly as we can", I mean within an imperfect system (as there is no such thing as the PERFECT system). Sure, there will always be room for improvement, but (in my strong opinion) people complaining about "robbing" rich people (who have a LARGE percentage of the wealth) when we've all agreed (via elections) to the level of taxation we need... well, I think the term "total moron" might apply to these worshipers of wealth.

*Note: Who is Gerald Barzan? Apparently, aside from him being a humorist, nobody knows.

SWTD #260, wDel #65.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

World Nut Daily (WND) Sez "Impeach Obama For Aiding Terrorists" (Re Bowe Bergdahl Prisoner Swap)

This is something that I would do again and I will continue to do wherever I have an opportunity, if I have a member of our military who's in captivity ~ President Barack Obama talks about his decision to do the right thing (6/6/2014).

The Extreme Rightwing publication known as World Net Daily, or WND (or "World Nut Daily") has a petition up on their website calling for the impeachment of President Obama. The reason? The Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap amounts to Obama aiding terrorists (and is the last straw)!

WND is, by the way, the Obama-hate-site that generates a lot of traffic by pandering to racists in a BIG way... being a publication that ruminates NOT infrequently on the danger of "Black mobs" (although WND sez they "consider it racist not to report racial abuse solely because of the skin color of the perpetrators...").

According to the "expert" opinion of one ex-military man scumbag named William Boykin, President Obama is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors in regards to the Bergdahl swap (among other things). Boykin, a crayZee Conservative "Christian" who was caught on a hot mic saying "Jews are the problem" and the "cause of all the problems in the world" and "that President Obama identifies with and supports Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood", is quoted in the petition as saying Obama ignored federal law in pursuit of an administration goal.

A Slate article by Emily Bazelon says the problem is that Obama "didn't tell Congress about the prisoner release 30 days ahead of time, as a recent federal law requires... [although] to justify this omission, the administration has invoked Obama's signing statement, which he added to the law for certain circumstances, like negotiating over detainee transfers, in which it would violate constitutional separation of powers principles to consult Congress".

Emily Bazelon refers to this as Obama's "Gitmo Fail" (the title of the article), but frankly I don't give a shit. LET the Repubs TRY to go after Obama on this. The truth is that they are all fking hypocrites in regards to the stink they are currently raising, as MANY Cons criticized the President for not doing enough (previously) to bring Bergdahl home.

"Lawmakers Change Their Minds After Demanding Every Effort Be Made To Free Bergdahl" (ThinkProgress 6/3/2014, excerpts) ...many of the administration's loudest critics have previously demanded that it do more to bring Bergdahl to safety. ...John McCain told Anderson Cooper in February that he "would be inclined to support an exchange of prisoners for our American fighting man", like the one Taliban officials had offered in 2012. He has since labeled Obama's deal "ill-founded" and a "mistake".

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) also thinks that "the administration's decision to release these five terrorist detainees endangers U.S. national security interests"... But since 2011, Ayotte has issued multiple press releases and public statements calling on the Obama administration to "redouble its efforts" to find Bergdahl. "I renew my call on the Defense Department to... find Sergeant Bergdahl and return him safely to his family" she wrote just one week ago.

Sen. Jim Inhofe - the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee - has also said that the U.S. "must make every effort to bring this captured soldier home to his family". But appearing on Fox News just days after Bergdahl's release, Inhofe criticized the administration for agreeing to free "people who have killed Americans, people who are the brain power of Taliban". (article by Igor Volsky).

I don't know how bringing home a US serviceman, especially given that we were going to release five Taliban Gitmo prisoners anyway, could possibly be a "mistake". OBVIOUSLY the motivation for the Repub criticisms NOW over the deal that brought Bergdahl home - when they were critical of the administration NOT DOING ENOUGH previously - is ENTIRELY political in nature, and SHAMELESSLY so.

"Why The Five Taliban Detainees Had To Be Released Soon, No Matter What" ThinkProgress 6/2/2014, excerpts) The US is engaged in an armed conflict in Afghanistan against al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces authorized by Congress under the 2001 AUMF. It remains controversial whether this armed conflict extends beyond Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan, but what is not in doubt is that of the enemy forces party to this conflict, the Taliban is confined to Afghanistan and Pakistan. President Obama recently announced that the combat role for the US in the armed conflict in Afghanistan will end this year and all participation will completely cease by 2016.

When wars end, prisoners taken custody must be released. These five Gitmo detainees were almost all members of the Taliban, according to the biographies of the five detainees that the Afghan Analysts Network compiled in 2012. None were facing charges in either military or civilian courts for their actions. It remains an open question whether the end of US involvement in the armed conflict in Afghanistan requires that all Gitmo detainees be released. But there is no doubt that Taliban detainees captured in Afghanistan must be released because the armed conflict against the Taliban will be over.

In traditional conflicts, both sides would release their prisoners at the conclusion of hostilities. This is not a traditional conflict, however, and the Obama administration rightly had no expectation that Sgt. Bergdahl would have been released when US forces [left] Afghanistan. As that date neared, any leverage the US possessed would have been severely undermined. (article by Ken Gude).

Furthermore, the ThinkProgress notes the following (IMO) pertinent facts...

Conservative critics... refuse to appreciate the cunning maneuvers that secured the release of the lone American soldier taken prisoner in Afghanistan at little risk to the security of the United States.

...the evidence demonstrates that the Obama administration has been remarkably successful at preventing detainees it has released from Guantanamo from engaging in militant activities against the United States.

Statistics from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence show that only 6 percent (5 in total) of Guantanamo detainees released during the Obama administration have been assessed to have potentially engaged in militant activities.

That compares with a rate of nearly 30 percent under the Bush administration. (Attribution same as above).

The issue of whether or not Bowe Bergdahl is a deserter is separate, and can addressed in full now that he is in our custody and can present his side of the story. What we absolutely should not have done was to deem Bergdahl guilty and that the "punishment" would be to allow him to remain a Taliban POW (and possibly be executed by them).

(Although there are some who say they have "never argued that we shouldn't have tried to repatriate Bergdahl", but now that we have him, he should be given a trial as a "formality" and then put to death. And with the putting to death there are some who agree).

In regards to the desertion charge, obviously that is something that a soldier absolutely can NOT do. Surely Bergdahl could have objected in another manner if that was his inclination (and it is my understanding that it was). However, according to the Libertarian Reason Magazine (a 5/6/2014 article by Sheldon Richman) "[we] shouldn't blame Bowe Bergdahl for deserting in the fog of endless war".

Reason article excerpts... The "fog of war" is a reference to the moral chaos as well as the rampant confusion on the battlefield. Individuals kill others for no other reason than that they are ordered to. Things deemed unambiguously bad in civilian life are authorized and even lauded in war. ...Bergdahl seems to have been plagued by this question [his responsibility in regards to the deaths of innocent civilians].

The author of the Reason article goes on to quote Anand Gopal, author of No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes.

By mid-2002 there was no insurgency in Afghanistan: al-Qaeda had fled the country and the Taliban had ceased to exist as a military movement. Jalaluddin Haqqani (whose "network" held Bergdahl captive) and other top Taliban figures were reaching out to the other side in an attempt to cut a deal and lay down their arms.

[However], driven by the idée fixe that the world was rigidly divided into terrorist and non-terrorist camps, Washington allied with Afghan warlords and strongmen. Their enemies became ours, and through faulty intelligence, their feuds became repackaged as "counterterrorism".

So, death for Bowe Bergdahl, a soldier with a conscience who questioned his role in combat that lead to innocents being killed, but no repercussions for those at the top who got us involved in this pointless war (the war criminals in the bush administration)?

That, I've got a huge problem with. I've also got a huge problem with our current president keeping us involved in said war... and even foolishly "surging"... based on the dishonest idée fixe that surging worked in Iraq (when it did not).

An article by Jean Mackenzie of Global Post (via the Salon website) notes that "Bergdahl was a troubled young man, with naive and very unrealistic views on his service in Afghanistan [who] thought he was joining the Peace Corps with guns, going over to help Afghans".

So, who is responsible for the soldiers who were killed while looking for Bergdahl? Obviously Bergdahl bears some responsibility, but what about those who made the decision to involve us in this unwinable conflict? And why the hell did we think we could prevail when the Soviets did not?

Yes, those deaths were regrettable, but Bergdahl obviously shouldn't have been there to begin with. Or he should have been removed from that situation as soon as those around him realized he was "troubled". In regards to that point, I'd place some of the blame on the stigma that is attached to the mental health issue... and in regards to that the same Global Post article I just quoted notes the following...

...journalist Matthieu Aikins, who reports regularly from Afghanistan, tweeted: "Does running unarmed into Taliban terrain seem sane to you? Maybe Bergdahl's act should be seen through PTSD/mental health prism".

Maybe. Surely I would not be so stupid/uncaring as to say the "dude is going to be just fine", or that "I have no concern for Bergdahl per se, [instead] my concern is the principle of the matter"... when we're talking about a job (being a soldier) that involves KILLING people. Surely only a moron could not see that this might affect a person's ability to think rationally.

So, yes, I do have some concern for Bergdahl. I've also got concern for the war criminals who stupidly decided to get us bogged down in a pointless and unwinnable war - especially given the fact that the Taliban offered to turn over bin Laden prior to our invasion but bush refused to negotiate (as the author of the Reason article points out)... concern that they will never be held accountable for their actions. And I've also got concern for the Obama administration that let the bush war criminals off the hook.

But assholes like William Boykin and those at WND who are calling for impeachment while citing the fake Benghazi and fake IRS scamdals? And the hypocrite asshole Repub politicians who are criticizing Obama for bringing Bowe Bergdahl home when the previously criticized him for not doing enough to bring Bowe Bergdahl home? F*ck them. And f*ck the idiots and racist bigots who are signing the petition too.

I'm not going to say f-you to whoever created a petition at the White House site to punish Bergdahl, however. He did break the rules and these people - the creator and the 19,156 individuals who signed to thus far - are entitled to voice their opinion on the matter.

I surely am not going to sign it, however. I found the petition after doing a Google search looking for a White House petition in SUPPORT of Bergdahl. Apparently there isn't one. In any event, my f-you is reserved for, as Grung E Gene of the blog Disaffected And It Feels So Good puts it, the "dishonorable conservative hypocrites [who] piss on the troops, veterans and Bowe Bergdahl".

Well said, Gene. I must say that I agree completely that these evil individuals hate our servicemembers. For the record, I added the word "evil", and if you think that is too harsh, keep in mind that the definition of evil is something that is "morally wrong or bad".

Is it morally wrong or bad to use service members as political cudgels - by first calling for an administration you seek to destroy to "free Bergdahl by any means necessary" - and then attacking the administration when it does just that... well, that is most certainly morally wrong and bad in my strong opinion.

(By the way, the Taliban has never been designated as a terrorist organization, so the Obama administration did not "negotiate with terrorists". Finally, I was very disappointed to see the WND impeachment document quoting Jonathan Turley who "says Obama's deserter-for- terrorists deal proves that 'what's emerging is an imperial presidency'". And he said this on Sean Hannity's program for crying out loud. Ugh).

[1] h/t to Infidel753 for the word "scamdal" in reference to the fake Obama administration scandals.
[2] h/t to Grung E Gene for the link to the story concerning the "by any means necessary" January 2014 petition created by the conservative opinion and commentary website PJ Media.

See also: OST #17.

SWTD #259

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

On "Arming" Oneself with "Facts" Dissembled By Gun Nut John Lott

I think we need more of what I would call evidence-based discussion and not merely people pulling things out of their hats ~ Dr. Sripal Bangalore, coauthor of a study that found that more guns do not make people safer. (quote from the 9/19/2013 ABC News article "U.S. Has More Guns – And Gun Deaths – Than Any Other Country, Study Finds" by Sydney Lupkin).

Apparently there is absolutely NOTHING that can be done to curb gun violence. That is, according to Libertarian blogger Willis Hart, a non-gun-owning-gun-nut who frequently proclaims that he might support some type of gun legislation, but that such laws would be "for solace only".

Willis Hart: "Armed With the Facts"... According to the University of Maryland's John Lott, there were more than 1.8 million right to carry permits issued in the state of Florida from 1987 to 2010 and only 167 of these individuals ever had their permits revoked - .009% (with the vast majority of these instances being misdemeanors). I really don't think that we have all that much to worry about when it come to the lawful gun-owners of America (you know, those who would actually consent to a background check), folks.

And I'm not necessarily saying here that I'm opposed to background checks, just that they're probably much more for solace than they are preventative and that we really shouldn't be expecting much once they're instituted. (6/2/22014 AT 8:25pm).

John Lott, huh? That would be the John Lott who is a gun rights advocate, formerly employed the American Enterprise Institute (a conservative think tank), and who is currently a Fox News opinion contributor... right?

Lott is also the author of More Guns, Less Crime and The Bias Against Guns. Newsweek dubbed him "The Gun Crowd's Guru". Sounds like a good non-biased source for information on guns, no?

Criticisms of Lott's study include there being "problems with [his] model" including that it "contained significant coding errors and systemic bias" and that he "failed to account for several key variables"... and for these reasons Lott's "model was flawed".

The National Academy of Sciences conducted a review of current research and data on firearms and violent crime, including Lott's work, and found "no credible evidence that the passage of right-to-carry laws decreases or increases violent crime" (excerpts from Wikipedia).

Even more damning, there have been "charges that gun makers or the NRA have paid for Lott's research".

In 1996 when Lott's research first received media attention, Charles Schumer wrote in the Wall Street Journal: "The Associated Press reports that Prof. Lott's fellowship at the University of Chicago is funded by the Olin Foundation, which is associated with the Olin Corporation, one of the nation's largest gun manufacturers.

[Also] a debate on Piers Morgan Tonight on July 23, 2012, Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz claimed: "This is junk science at its worst. Paid for and financed by the National Rifle Association".

Makes one wonder how factual these "facts" are that Willis is arming himself with.

[Media Matters reports that Lott's 2013 book] At the Brink: Will Obama Push Us Over The Edge?, is filled with inaccurate claims about guns and firearm policy. Lott makes a range of misleading or blatantly false statements, including that the worst school shootings in the world have not occurred in the United States and that concealed carry laws help prevent mass shootings. (3/12/2013 Media Matters article).

Media Matters reporting (and debunking of) the lies in Lott's book include the following; which they deemed to be the "nine worst claims about guns...

  1. Claim: establishing gun-free zones actually make mass shootings MORE likely. Truth: this is refuted by statistics and the fact that most recent mass shootings have occurred where guns ARE allowed.
  2. Claim: Obama supported a ban on handguns in 1996. Truth: Politifact says FALSE. The president's true view is that "a complete ban on handguns is not politically practicable, but reasonable restrictions should be imposed".
  3. Claim: assault Weapons inflict the same damage as small-game hunting rifles. Truth: A study of soldiers killed by high-velocity rifle rounds found that "the nature of internal tissue injuries from rifled firearm weapons depend greatly on the velocity of the missile", and "that rounds with a velocity exceeding 2,500 feet per second cause a shockwave to pass through the body that caused catastrophic injuries even in areas remote to the direct wound".
  4. Claim: Mass shootings are often prevented by civilians carrying firearms. Truth: an analysis of mass shootings over th epast 30 years shows that "in not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun).
  5. Claim: LEOs support legislation to loosen concealed carry rules. Truth: Various law enforcement groups signed a letter in opposition to H.R. 822, a piece of proposed legislation that would force states to recognize the validity of concealed carry permits issued in other states.
  6. Claim: Germany, despite having some Of the strictest gun-control laws anywhere, has been the scene of two of the 3 worst school shootings in the world. Truth: the two worst school shootings occurred in the US.
  7. Claim: the "vast majority" of studies have found concealed carry reduces homicide. Truth: A John Hopkins Center For Gun Policy And Research says "concealed carry laws [have been] linked to [an] increase in aggravated assault".

The final two "facts" rebuked (8+9) are Fast and Furious conspiracy theories, including the loony tunes assertion that F&F was "an Obama Administration plot to implement further restrictions on gun ownership". This is a conspiracy theory that says, after allowing a buttload of guns to cross the border, the administration could then "depict Mexico as awash in American guns" and that would "build pressure in the United States for gun control" [1].

That, right there, says to me that this Lott fellow is a certifiable gun nutter. And I say that the same applies to people who might cite him as a credible source. They too are gun nuts, even if they do not own any guns.

(Please note that the list above is my condensing of the Media Matters information. See the Media Matters article linked to above for the uncondensed version).

As for Hart's assertion that he "really can't find all that much evidence that gun control works", I'd say that is due to him looking in the wrong places. I mean, if you're primarily reading studies/papers/books by people like John Lott, I would not expect you'd find evidence that gun control works.

John Tepper Marlin, the chief economist for the NJ Institute for Social Justice, says it does work.

Gun Control Works: ...the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) [has] just-released [a] 10-year review of the UK Peace Index, [and it shows] violence in the UK is down 11 percent [which the IEP attribute to Britain's complete ban on handguns]. [The proof is that while] 2 out of 3 US homicides are committed with guns the UK the figure is only 1 out of 13. ... In 2012-13, Britain had 87 gun deaths, more than half using shotguns; of them, 45 were suicides, nearly two-thirds of them using shotguns. Firearms offenses have been brought down from 25,000 in 2002 to fewer than 10,000 in 2011.

[Also] whereas gun violence occurs all over the US - east-west, urban-rural, north-south - more than half of all gun-related offenses in the UK occur in just 3 police jurisdictions, namely Metropolitan London, Greater Manchester, and West Midlands (Birmingham metro area). This suggests that gun use has largely been suppressed everywhere except in the hard-core anonymous big cities.

[Conclusion?] ...this is on the face of it a compelling argument for gun control and should be thrust in front of the U.S. Senate. (Excerpts from Mr. Marlin's 5/06/2013 HuffPo article).

So, Willis WAS able to find the writings of Mr. Lott... a gun nutter whose "evidence" has is either highly disputed or been outright debunked (because it is complete BS), but he has NOT been able to find evidence (actual evidence) like that presented by Mr. Marlin. (Both Lott and Marlin are economists, btw).

Why might that be, I wonder? Possibly because one finds the evidence one wishes to find? At least in this case I think that is EXACTLY what is happening... despite claims of "trying to be empirical". I mean, it isn't if the Hartster actually found this conflicting information but discounted it (and gave his reasons why). He says he didn't find it AT ALL! Or he did and he believes it to be not "all that much evidence" (an out of hand dismissal).

Who knows and who cares. Point is we all know this is a person who listens to researches on the fringe that tell him things he wishes to hear. How else could one conclude that global warming is a hoax, that green energy is bad, or that gun control legislation (of ANY variety, apparently) would be for "solace" only?

Hey, Willis, what about stopping people who wouldn't pass a background check buying firearms at gun shows? Would stopping them be for "solace" only too? I wouldn't be surprised if he said YES. Remember he did say that if expanded background check legislation should be passed that "we really shouldn't be expecting much".

Also, hey, Willis, what about stopping people who wouldn't pass a background check buying firearms at gun shows? Would stopping them be for "solace" only as well? I wouldn't be surprised if he said YES [2]. Remember he did say that if expanded background check legislation should pass that "we really shouldn't be expecting much".

What a dope.

[1] 4/21/2015: Willis thinks the gun show BG check loophole is a "leftist anti-gun talking-point". So, yeah, I guess it would be for "solace only" to pass such an (unneeded) law. See SWTD #279 and scroll down to the "Gun Show Loophole Dishonesty" subheading for my debunking of Willis' claim that there is no gun show loophole.
[2] 6/22/2015: Willis lies about operation Wide Receiver (WR) to defend GWB. He sez WR, which was what F&F was called under the bush administration, involved no gunwalking - when it did. And he sez WR "was conducted with the full knowledge and cooperation of the Mexican government" when the truth is that "the vast majority of guns were not tracked and Mexico's government was not fully informed of the case". And, get this... the source of my info is an article by Sharyl Attkisson, a journalist that Willis himself has cited in many commentaries on his blog. Concerning Sharyl, Willis says "the woman is a consummate and award-winning professional who goes after Democrats and Republicans with equal fervor". But Willis obviously doesn't like that she went after bush with "equal fervor". If he did he wouldn't lie about WR.
[3] 10/2/2015: I changed the link attached to "what a dope" (above) from a "fact sheet" from the National Gun Victims Action Council titled "gun show loophole arms criminals" because it now comes up as "Error 404 Not Found". Does this mean they retracted their claim? I doubt it. However, the page is gone, so I changed the link to another page that also shows that the gun show loophole arms criminals... this one titled "expanded gun background checks will make state safer" (the state in question being Nevada, although surely this statement applies to all states where the gun show loophole exists).

SWTD #258, wDel #64.