Saturday, September 14, 2013

Study = the more guns, the more murders

Good luck trying to get the NRA to acknowledge this, but a study published in the American Journal of Public Health shows a correlation between the incidence of gun ownership in each state and the incidence of homicide by gun in that state.

This sounds like simple common sense -- and it is;   but the gun crowd and the gun lobby insist otherwise, that guns deter crime.   That is simply not true.   The researchers in this study point out that they only found correlation and cannot say this is proof of causation.

Such caution is a mark of good science, unlike the certitude of causation the gun crowd cites inappropriately in their cherry-picked pseudo-science studies.   But this correlation holds true across the 50 U. S. states and in most of the advanced countries in the world.

If you add the deaths by accident and by suicide to these homicide deaths, there is an even stronger correlation between gun ownership and death by gun.

If guns were a virus that led to the number of deaths that guns do, we'd have massive federally funded research, major foundations to raise money, ad campaigns, and possibly even quaranteens to try to stamp out the disease.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Give peace a chance #3 -- Now the hard part begins

John Kerry put it this way as he began his negotiation talks with the Russian foreign minister:
"This is not a game.   It has to be real.   It has to be comprehensiveIt has to be verifiable.   It has to be credible.   It has to be timely and implemented in a timely fashion.   Finally, there ought to be consequences if it doesn't take place."
The Russians and Syrians are beginning with the assertion that it cannot be done under threat of airstrikes from the U. S.

It seems to me that the compromise position should be:   There will be no airstrikes from the U.S. as long as Kerry's criteria are met.   Getting there will be difficult.

On the other hand, look where we are compared to last week.   
(1)  Even if nothing comes of this Russian-Syrian offer, they have both acknowledged that Syria does possess chemical weapons.  (2)  It's hard to avoid seeing this as the direct result of the threat of airstrikes by the U.S.   (3)  It vindicates President Obama's position and his way of getting there.  (4)  Russia and the U.S. are now cooperating;  and, if Syria should default on its agreement, Russia will be our ally instead of our opponent.  (5)  We have the basis for an improved relationship between us and Russia.

All of that adds up to a major accomplishment that didn't seem possible just one week ago.
What Republicans called dithering and weakness now looks like agility and willingness to change as events change.   Obama now looks prudent and smart, compared to the stubborn, misguided certitude and inflexibility of George Bush.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Our gun culture -- so bad it's almost funny

Huffington Post carried a list of wacky signs advertising guns and incongruous other products/services.   Here are a few outlandish ones:

"Do-Nuts, Guns, Day School"

From a jewelry store:  
"Buy her a diamond.  Get a free hunting rifle."
Sign with an Atlanta phone number:  
"Dave's Guns and Guy Stuff."

Dick's Country Store:
"Gas, groceries, guns, guitars."

And my favorite, from Maine's largest general store:  
"Guns, wedding gowns, cold beer."

Point made:    Guns are us.


Giving peace a chance #2

Will the main stream media writers now correct the way they wrote about the Russian/Syrian offer to get rid of Syria's chemical weapons ?  They had referred to it as coming about through Kerry's bumbling and Putin's seizing the initiative.  But now we know better.

Maureen Dowd did her usual snarky word play on it;  others referred to the Obama administration's ineptness, etc.

As the story unfolds now, though, it sounds -- at least in one report -- that President Obama is the one who first mentioned the possibility in a private meeting with President Putin back in March 2012.   It has repeatedly since then been discussed by Secretary of State John Kerry with his Russian counterpart.   Obama and Putin discussed it again on at least two other occasions, including the recent meeting in St. Petersburg.    Putin had never warmed to the idea until the last few weeks.

What has turned the tide, it seems, is that until now it was being discussed in connection with removing Assad from power through diplomacy and setting up a new government.

Now with a U.S. air strike threatening, it suddenly becomes attractive to Putin -- and to Syria -- to try to avoid that by giving up the chemical weapons.   So Putin took up the suggestion, made it his own, and got the Syrians to agree.

The questions now are:   What did they agree to?   and Can we trust them?

Already they are saying the Syrians will only agree to give up the weapons and sign the agreement if they are not under threat.   This means taking a military strike off the table.  We will not agree to that.   So there is the hard part of making this work.


PS:   I realize that my information on this may be the slant the U. S. wants to put on how it all came about.   But it rings true.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

New Yorkers say "No" to bad-boy candidates

Bill Clinton and Mark Sanford may have gotten away with bad boy behavior while in office, but New York City voters  gave a thundering No to Anthony Weiner and a solid No Thanks to Elliott Spitzer in yesterday's election for mayor (Weiner) and comptroller (Spitzer).

Spitzer had to resign his position as governor of New York during his second year after a scandal involving prostitutes.    Weiner had to resign from Congress over a scandal involving repeated sexting with young women.

In contrast, Clinton overcame impeachment;  and Sanford won his come-back election to return to the Congressional seat he had previously held.   What made the difference?

There are many factors, including the opponents, the political climate, previous accomplishments, the way they handled the revelation and repentance.   The sample is too small to draw conclusions, but there are some noteworthy observations.

1.   Clinton and Sanford are Southerners (Arkansas and South Carolina).   And Southerners love to be magnanimous toward repentant sinners.  We just love our reformed bad boys, but they have to be contrite and humble.

2.  Weiner and Spitzer are New Yorkers, and New Yorkers are perhaps less forgiving.  They both confessed and were open about what they had done.   But they both come across as arrogant goatsEven in their confessions, they conveyed more a sense of defiance than of contriteness.

Well, maybe that's all totally irrelevant.   But I do think Southerners are more forgiving than New Yorkers.   And, at least in the mayors race, there were three others who were better candidates for mayor anyway.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Giving peace a chance

President Obama made an important speech tonight that took the Assad government up on it's positive response to Russia's encouraging them to give up their chemical weapons, sign the chemical weapons ban treaty, and let the U.N. destroy the chemicals.

The press has played this as Secretary of State John Kerry's offhand suggestion in a speech 2 days ago that the Syrians could get rid of their chemical weapons within a week and that would make the difference.   Then the Russians surprised us by supporting it, followed by the Syrians agreeing.  Headlines even said, "Kerry's bumbling" may have led to a solution.

That's not the way it happened, as is being reported tonight.   Obama and Putin had discussed this over a year ago at the 2012 G-12 meeting.   Kerry has followed up with the Russian foreign minister.   It was all worked out behind the scenes.   And apparently we were letting the Russians take credit for it initially.   That Kerry "off hand" remark was very deliberate and calculated.

Tonight President Obama said he was asking Congress to postpone the vote to give this time to work.

We'll see.   Can we trust either the Russians or the Syrians?   Maybe not.  But it's worth a try, while keeping the pressure on of the attack threat.

At least on MSNBC, whose liberal commentators had been mostly opposed to the strikes, all seemed to be in favor of this step -- at least to give it time to see if it works.  

Interesting.  This could accomplish several things at once.   Stop Assad from using chemical weapons again.   Act as a deterrent to other nations using them.  Provide a detente in Russian-U.S. relations.   Take Congress off the hook.  Help Obama politically.  Save lives.


Zimmerman, rage, guns #2

Police have said that they didn't have enough evidence to arrest George Zimmerman in the possible domestic violence incident yesterday.    Sound familiar?    They didn't have enough evidence to arrest him in the Trayvon Martin killing -- until a national outcry demanded it.

His wife, Shellie, now says she will not press charges.   But she also said he destroyed the evidence that she had -- an iPad with a video she had recorded of the incident.  He grabbed it and broke it into pieces.    Police have it and are trying to piece it together.

Also she says that she didn't actually see his gun when he was threatening them;  but she says his hand was on his pocket where he had had a gun previously in the incident.

Zimmerman's lawyer has acknowledged that he did have a gun with him during the incident.

So -- he is careful not to show the gun at the same time he threatens them.   He destroys the video of his allegded punching his father-in-law in the nose.   He has killed one innocent teen-ager.   He has had other incidents with the police that sent him to anger management training.   Since his acquittal for murder, where some of the jury members were convinced of his guilt but just couldn't square it with the stand your ground laws, he has been stopped twice for speeding.    One previous charge of allegded domestic violence, which was also withdrawn.   Multiple incidents of poor impulse control?

Is this a man who should be trusted to carry a gun?


Monday, September 9, 2013

Zimmerman, rage, and guns

Breaking news reports from Lake Mary, Florida:    George Zimmerman has been detained by the police, who were called to the home of Zimmerman's estranged wife's parents.   Preliminary reports are that she called police, saying that he had threatened her father with a gun.

Just last week, Shellie Zimmerman filed for divorce from George and presumably was staying at her parents' home when this altercation occurred.    More news may clarify this later.   One source says police have confirmed that Zimmerman is in custody for investigation of "possible domestic battery."

But if this is true -- and with such notoriety as Zimmerman's recent trial and acquital for murder, rumors are always suspect -- but, if true, then isn't it time that Zimmerman's permit to carry concealed weapons be revoked?

He had a history, even before killing Trayvon Martin, of altercations with the police and being required to go through an anger management course.  Then he used his self-appointed status as neighborhood watch captain to stalk and kill an unarmed black teen-ager.   Now if he has in fact threated his father-in-law with a gun: 
Isn't this enough inappropriate behavior with a gun to take away his rights to carry?
If not, then what?    Does it require two killings before you lose you carry permit?

Enough of this gun craze in our society.