16 March 2013

Multi-topic Rambles - But Darn Interesting?

I haven't just rambled for a while.  I’m past due.

We Are Lucky They Are on the Job –

Earlier this week, I was on the way back from hearings in Taylor County Circuit Court. I came upon an intersection that was blocked by a fire department vehicle and was directed to take a detour. I asked the firemen what the problem was, and they told me the road was closed due to a serious motor vehicle accident.

This was at about 2:30 in the afternoon. I made the detour and came out at another blocked intersection with another fire truck and more firemen and I could see even more vehicles and firemen down where the wreck occurred.

The 8 or 10 firemen there all were volunteers. They either left work for this call – which took several hours – or they were on shift work and did it in their off time.

We talk about a “gimme” society where everyone is out for themselves. We talk about a lazy society and an entitlement society. For that matter, these Dispatches talk about those things and will continue to do so.

These volunteers are the other side of the coin. They are people who are driven to contribute to their fellow citizens and to see things and do things from which the average Jane and Joe would recoil in fear or horror.

We are lucky they are on the job.

Headline: “Obama Weighs in on Papal Election” - 

I didn’t go any farther than the headline. The article was several paragraphs long, so I knew that it was bullshit.  

It seems to me that the only wise “weighing in” by an American president while an election for Pope is going on is something like “Well, that’s none of our business.”

Why do we expect American politicians to comment on everything imaginable? For that matter, why don’t we call them on it when they go far afield from their legitimate functions?

Data Which Tends to Show That Background Checks Work:

Capt. Mark Kelly (USN, retired) is married to former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Ms. Giffords was shot by a criminal/crazy a couple of years ago in Arizona.

Recently, Capt. Kelly went to a gun shop in Tucson were he purchased a Colt AR-15.  That is a civilian version of the most common infantry rifle used by the American armed forces, the M-16.  The military version has a selector for fully automatic fire, that is, it works as a machine gun. It can also fire semi-automatic, that is, one trigger pull equals one shot.  The AR-15 is only semi-automatic.

Capt. Kelly then went to the press to decry how easy it was for him to acquire that weapon.

A slightly far-fetched response by the self-appointed gun community was that he was hypocritical in that he was buying something to use for home defense that he would deny others.  It was far-fetched because obviously he was doing it as a publicity stunt from the get-go.

I really don’t see what’s wrong with this picture. He had a background check using the national system which rings into the huge FBI complex in Bridgeport, West Virginia. He was cleared to purchase the firearm.

That’s the way it’s supposed to work.

Capt. Kelly is a decorated (e.g., Air Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross) and honorably discharged military officer. He has no felonies and no domestic violence convictions. He’s the kind of person who is supposed to be able to purchase a firearm, because he’s the kind of person who almost certainly is going to use it safely and only for lawful purposes.

Incidentally, the AR-15 probably is the least lethal weapons system Capt. Kelly has used.  He flew combat missions in the Gulf.

A legitimate issue about the background check system is how to include those with very serious mental illness, including addictions. A challenge there will be how to include them without discouraging people to seek treatment, especially for minor and situational disorders. In these Dispatches, that’s a discussion for another day.

Keeping Up On The Law:

The three traditional “learned professions” are medicine, the clergy and the law. To do your job, you have to spend considerable study time continuing to learn and just keep up. That’s not a big deal – it comes with the territory.

A lot of that involves reading court decisions, particularly those of courts in which you practice. You need to know how judges are deciding cases and what kind of arguments and reasoning work and what kind don’t. When you get a new judge or justice, you need to read particularly carefully to get up to speed on that judge.

In West Virginia, we have a new Supreme Court justice, Allen Loughry.  He already has left a lot of written tracks, mainly with his book Don't Buy Another Vote, I Won't Pay for a Landslide: The Sordid And Continuing History of Political Corruption in West Virginia.

And yet, it’s still part of the job to play close attention to how all the judges are writing and ruling so that we can do our jobs with a minimum degree of competency.

Incidentally, in a verbal review of Don’t Buy Another Vote, Bro. Moon commented that Justice Loughry had most of the recent scandals exactly correct, but as to as least one, “Boy, if he only knew the whole story!”

Accuracy in Argument:

This probably deserves to be an independent post once I’ve given it more thought. I note one of the topic headings above, “Data Which Tends to Show…”

Well, that proves I’ll never make it as a propagandist. 

Nobody wants evidence.  Nobody wants probabilities.  Nobody wants to recognize the existence of doubt or any possibility that “the other side” has a shred of truth or credibility to their arguments. 

And so, if I were a true-blue zealot, the topic heading would have been “Absolute Proof That …”

Sorry, that’s offensive, unscientific and dishonest. It’s not sexy, it’s not comforting and certainly doesn’t make things easy, but the truth is, life is not easy and social questions are not so clear-cut that absolute truth and absolute good lies on one side only.

I have taken a strong position in these Dispatches against current gun control proposals, the lack of logic driving them and the cynical use of the pain of victims. And yet, if everything Sen. Feinstein wants to do is enacted, some people who would otherwise die will live.  Sorry, my Second Amendment compatriots, that’s just the damn truth.  And on the other hand, if Sen. Feinstein has her way, some people who would otherwise live will die.  Oops, Sen. Schumer, you aren’t saving humanity completely after all.

Moreover, we have to make judgments about the costs we’re willing to pay for freedom of individual action versus imposed limitations.

You want easy? Shut off your brain and be a propagandist.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I once tried that turning off the brain thing, but developed a serious leak in my gut
good to see your rambles again!