The headlines were filled recently with gleeful liberal accounts of spaghetti-spined members of the GOP, Charles Murray and Rob Portman, advocating surrender to the left on culture issues like Same Sex Marriage.
What we are obviously seeing is the herd mentality of the community of fashion in operation.
The Left controls most engines of opinion-formation in this country. First, revolutionary proposals originate in the left’s radical fringe, then little by little, they are “bravely” embraced by one pillar of the establishment after another. When it becomes apparent that the looney tunes running American education have successfully brainwashed the lumpenstudenten mob of impressionable, emotionally volatile, and fashion-conscious young, what we experience next is the unbecoming spectacle of older non-rugged-individualists scurrying to catch up with the departing bus of fashionable opinion which they perceive as about to motor through the endpoint of success, leaving behind History’s losers.
The truth of the matter is that you do not win culture war contests with the revolutionary Left by surrendering on point after point as soon as the Left appears to be gaining the upper hand. Even when they are going to win this particular battle today, it behooves Republicans and conservatives to recognize that revolutionary victories do not necessarily last forever. People living in France are not counting how many days of Ventôse remain before the arrival of Germinal.
Absurd leftist overreach may temporarily gain ascendancy and make entire societies dance to its tune, but the worst and the silliest of the Left’s ideas will always be doomed to fall in the end of their own weight of stupidity and falsehood.
In the meantime, we ought not to be like the French Army, offering the future surplus sale of MAS rifles described as “never fired, and only dropped once.” We ought to face the Left on every culture wars issue the way the doomed Spartans faced the Persians at Thermopylae. We should not cut and run, like Godric at the Battle of Maldon, but should, like Brythold, resist every time on every point to the bitter end.
“Hige sceal þe heardra,
heorte þe cenre,
mod sceal þe mare,
þe ure mægen lytlað.
“Mind must be the harder,
heart the keener
Spirit shall be greater – as our strength lessens.”
Young people grow up. The Left’s domination of the Dummer Junger student and recent graduate crowd does not in most cases last forever.
Molly Hemingway, at Ricochet, pointed out just how worthwhile Rob Portman’s analysis really is.
Leaving apart the question of whether marriage law should be changed, this strikes me as a problematic approach. I mean, marriage law should be changed or it shouldn’t be changed—but it shouldn’t hinge on the sexual attractions of one senator’s son, should it?
What if a conservative senator said, “I’m reversing my views on whether abortion should be legal because my daughter got pregnant and wished she weren’t.”
One of the fascinating things about society today is that personal experience trumps everything else in argumentation. Very few people seem to care about fundamental truths and principles while everyone seems to care about personal experience and emotion. It’s the Oprahfication of political philosophy.
Should a conservative determine good policy this way?
Mark Steyn, on Rush Limbaugh’s Show yesterday, read, in the recent school suspension of a 7-year-old in Baltimore for allegedly nibbling his breakfast pop tart into a shape resembling a gun, serious bad news for American civilization.
You’re doomed America! You’re done for! No society can survive this level of stupidity! The school counselor is available to meet with any students who are traumatized by hearing reports of some guy four grades below them who nibbles a pop-tart into a gun-like shape.
I’ve never subscribed to this whole greatest generation thing, you know. But you look at those guys, they weren’t much older than the kids from the school. A lot of them were like seventeen, eighteen years old. And they’re storming out of these transport ships in the churning waters of the English Channel and the North Sea and they’re landing on the beaches of Normandy. And their getting out of these and they stomping up the beaches and they’re taking German gunfire and all the rest.
Do you think if you raised people so that you make a school counselor to available to them in cased they’ve been traumatized by someone who was nibbled a pop-tart into the shape of a gun….do you think if they’re ever called upon to get out those ships and the storm the beaches of Normandy, do you think they’re gonna be up to that?
‘Oh no look, the Germans, they’re all holding pop-tarts! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!’
No society can survive this level of stupidity! These small things are not small. They tell you a lot about the institutionalized stupidity of our institutions.
Bret Stephens, in today’s Wall Street Journal, notes that the famous 3 a.m. telephone call scenario that appeared in the most famous ad of the 2008 presidential campaign actually recently occurred.
The hour is 5 p.m., Sept. 11, Washington time, and the scene is an Oval Office meeting among President Obama, the secretary of defense, the national security adviser and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi has been under assault for roughly 90 minutes. Some 30 U.S. citizens are at mortal risk. The whereabouts of Ambassador Stevens are unknown.
What is uppermost on the minds of the president and his advisers? The safety of Americans, no doubt. So what are they prepared to do about it? Here is The Wall Street Journal’s account of the meeting:
“There was no serious consideration at that hour of intervention with military force, officials said. Doing so without Libya’s permission could represent a violation of sovereignty and inflame the situation, they said. Instead, the State Department reached out to the Libyan government to get reinforcements to the scene.”
So it did. Yet the attack was far from over. After leaving the principal U.S. compound, the Americans retreated to a second, supposedly secret facility, which soon came under deadly mortar fire. Time to call in the troops?
“Some officials said the U.S. could also have sent aircraft to the scene as a ‘show of force’ to scare off the attackers,” the Journal reported, noting that there’s a U.S. air base just 450 miles away in Sicily. “State Department officials dismissed the suggestions as unrealistic. ‘They would not have gotten there in two hours, four hours or six hours.’”
The U.S. security detail only left Washington at 8 a.m. on Sept. 12, more than 10 hours after the attacks began. A commercial jet liner can fly from D.C. to Benghazi in about the same time. ...
The U.S. ignores warnings of a parlous security situation in Benghazi. Nothing happens because nobody is really paying attention, especially in an election year, and because Libya is supposed to be a foreign-policy success. When something does happen, the administration’s concerns for the safety of Americans are subordinated to considerations of Libyan “sovereignty” and the need for “permission.” After the attack the administration blames a video, perhaps because it would be politically inconvenient to note that al Qaeda is far from defeated, and that we are no more popular under Mr. Obama than we were under George W. Bush. Denouncing the video also appeals to the administration’s reflexive habits of blaming America first. Once that story falls apart, it’s time to blame the intel munchkins and move on.
It was five in the afternoon when Mr. Obama took his 3 a.m. call. He still flubbed it.
The female grizzly bear, referred to as the Wapiti sow, killed Brian Matayoshi on July 6, 2011 and then killed John Wallace on August 27, 2011, after officials declined to hunt the bear responsible. The Wapiti sow was finally trapped in late September and euthanized October 2nd after four days of forensic analysis and chin stroking.
Jessica Grose, in Slate, describes how the swift and hearty justice dealt out to man-killing grizzlies in simpler and less-grovelly-toward-Nature times has been replaced by a new intensely ethically conscientious regime that will only kill bears which are deemed to have behaved with “unnatural aggression” or which have been found to have eaten people.
In the bad old days, they knew what to do with man-killing bruins.
The first extensively documented death by grizzly within Yellowstone Park’s borders was the fatal mauling of 61-year-old government laborer Frank Welch in 1916. And the park’s first extensively documented judicial execution of a grizzly soon followed. Some historians suspect the bear that killed Welch was abnormally ill-tempered because his toes had been ripped off when he escaped from a trap in 1912. Whatever the bear’s motives, though, Welch’s fellow laborers decided that “Old Two Toes” deserved to die for his crimes. Men from the road camp where Welch had been working placed some edible garbage in front of a barrel filled with dynamite. When the bear began to eat, they blew it to smithereens.
That was how grizzlies were treated if they injured humans in the early days of Yellowstone: They were killed.
Not today. Today, when Ephraim or Ephraimina takes out a tax paying citizen, there is the equivalent of a judicial procedure. There are major exculpatory loopholes. And even totally guilty bears are put down reluctantly, as big, salty tears pour down the faces of the responsible officials.
Every bear is pwecious, you see.
The euthanization of the bear known as “the Wapiti sow” was the culmination of a series of horrifying events that had gripped Yellowstone for months, and alarmed rangers, visitors, and the conservation biologists tasked with keeping grizzly bears safe. In separate incidents in July and August, grizzlies had killed hikers in Yellowstone, prompting a months-long investigation replete with crime scene reconstructions and DNA analysis, and a furious race to capture the prime suspect. The execution of the Wapiti sow opens a window on a special criminal justice system designed to protect endangered bears and the humans who share their land. It also demonstrates the difficulty of judging animals for crimes against us. The government bear biologists who enforce grizzly law and order grapple with the impossibility of the task every day. In the most painful cases, the people who protect these sublime, endangered animals must also put them to death.
Whenever a grizzly bear commits a crime in the continental United States, Chris Servheen gets a call at his office at the University of Montana in Missoula. Servheen has been the Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for three decades. ...
Before Servheen, Gunther, and their bear management colleagues could decide what to do, they’d need a lot more information. Was a grizzly bear in fact responsible for this second death? If so, which bear did the mauling? And what were the circumstances that led up to attack—was it provoked or had some hiker just been caught unaware? The answers to those questions would determine whether a precious animal would need to die. ...
Wildlife biologists like Kerry Gunther help the park’s crime-scene investigators by speculating on a bear’s emotional state. Based on the evidence at hand, he tries to determine whether a given act of bear aggression might have been a natural behavior—the result of being startled while feeding on an elk carcass, for example, or seeing someone approaching her cubs. If a bear appears to have followed a hiker down the trail instead of backing off, or if it attacked campers while they were asleep, that would be more unusual—the result, perhaps of a deranged grizzly mind.
If you blunder into a bear that is thought to have attacked and killed you out of natural aggression (you violated that bear’s space, dude!) or via an impulse of self defense, that’s just too bad for you. The bear goes free, as long as he refrains from dining on your pitiable remains.
The authorities in question reluctantly draw the line at actual predation, simply because they are afraid of the public response to tolerating man-eaters in National Parks.
The zero-tolerance policy for man-eating bears invites an obvious question, though. Once a bear kills someone, whether it’s out of some wild-animal psychopathy or a natural inclination to defend her young, why wouldn’t she eat the corpse? Everyone agrees that it’s natural for grizzlies to eat carrion—they’re scavengers, after all. When I ask Servheen whether grizzlies can get “a taste for human blood”—whether a grizzly that starts eating people-meat will desire it endlessly—he dismisses the idea. “That’s for horror stories in movies,” he says. “Bears don’t get a taste for human blood. There’s no studies that show that.”
No studies show it, in part because every time a bear eats someone, they kill it. Not that it’s something that would ever be studied—biologists would never want to take the risk of keeping a bear that had eaten a person in the greater bear population. “We don’t want to test whether bears really get a taste for people,” Gunther explains. “The public wouldn’t appreciate us using them as subjects.” That’s for horror movies, but it seems like even the bear biologists think there might be some truth to the campfire legends.
Farhad Manjoo, Cornell ‘00, is Slate’s Technology Columnist, so his take on toy guns, one would expect, ought to be well-informed, sophisticated, appreciative, and realistic.
A technology columnist really ought to be the sort of person who knows all about real guns. Firearms are an extremely important and interesting, downright fundamental, form of technology, after all.
But Farhad Manjoo’s holiday article in Stale this year is rather different from what one might have expected.
Nerf guns (which propel sponge rubber tipped plastic darts) frighten Manjoo and send him into a tizzy of anxiety. He describes the Nerf Barricade as “one of the most powerful toy weapons ever built, capable of sending a 3-inch foam dart hurtling 30 feet through the air, and then doing it again and again every half second.”
How does that compare, Mr. Technology Columnist, to the old Daisy Model 25 pump action BB-gun, my generation’s idea of a toy gun, which fired a copper-plated .177” diameter BB at a velocity ranging from 375-450 fps (fast enough to break glass) from a tubular magazine as rapidly as you could pump the slide?
Shooting one’s friends in the face was regarded as verboten (you might put out an eye), but BB gun wars did regularly occur. The impact of a BB on human flesh stung smartly, even through clothing, and characteristically left a mark. It was a common form of deterrence to shoot oneself in the hand without flinching and then display the bruise. One’s interlocutor was thereby given to understand that you were not afraid of being shot with a BB gun, and was significantly less inclined to initiate hostilities.
Older generations of American boys additionally commonly played with home-made slingshots, a leather pad attached to two lengths of rubber strips cut from a discarded inner tube then affixed to a Y-forked branch. A good slingshot could propel much larger projectiles like marbles, ball bearings, or suitable rocks with good accuracy at very effectively damaging velocities.
We were bloodthirsty hunters in my boyhood, and we used to, I regret to say, kill the occasional incautious songbird with those BB guns. More becomingly, we also sometimes successfully nailed a rat found skulking in the open around the dump with our slingshots. (BBs just bounced off rats.) Try taking any variety of game with a Nerf gun.
But, it isn’t really the ballistic capabilities of the Nerf gun arsenal that sent Mr. Manjoo into a tailspin. It is, of course, the ethical considerations.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been playing with some of the new Nerf guns, and I’ve tied myself in knots thinking about whether ultrarealistic weapons are just harmless fun or whether they reveal something terribly wrong with modern American boyhood.
One feels bound to question the expertise and judgment of the technology expert who would describe the above Nerf Barricade as “ultrarealistic.” So few real firearms are made of yellow plastic, and when Mr. Manjoo expresses awed respect for a toy gun’s ability to propel a harmless foam rubber dart 30’, he seems to have lost completely any sense of proportion and relative capability between the real weapon and the toy.
Someone who finds a harmless toy “scary” is, by my standards, an incredible wimp. And the kind of people who have all these hyper-sensitivities and moral issues over boys playing at war are prigs and decadents. Our blue state pseudo-intelligentsia resides in a haute bourgeois dreamworld, perfectly safe and far removed from the ugly realities of human conflict and criminal predation, protected by rough men they neither know nor respect, in homogeneous enclaves in which they have created their own Eloi-style culture in which gross moral self-indulgence parallels their conspicuous material well being.
In Alameda, California, on Memorial Day, public employees hid behind regulations and protocols and blamed insufficient funding for training and special equipment as they stood by passively on the beach and allowed a suicidal man to drown himself in San Francisco Bay. Ordinary Californians (unhampered by policy and regulations) managed to stand by as well. In the end, however, an unauthorized and untrained civilian lacking funding and special equipment did swim out and retrieve the body.
With the threat of federal grant money potentially being withheld, you can count on the Yale Administration to jump eagerly through the hoops of political correctness and the Yale Executive Committee confidentiality policy be damned. The Yale Daily News reports the ultimate denouement of last October’s terrible fraternity initiation chant nightmare.
In an email to students and faculty Tuesday afternoon, Yale College Dean Mary Miller informed the University community about the Executive Committee’s actions concerning the controversial Delta Kappa Epsilon pledge incident Oct. 13. After a full proceeding, Miller said, the Committee found that the Yale DKE chapter had violated the Undergraduate Regulations by threatening and intimidating others that night, when pledges were instructed to chanted phrases such as “No means yes, yes means anal” on Old Campus. The Committee also found several DKE brothers had breached the same regulations, resulting in individual penalties.
“Although it is unusual to send a memorandum regarding a particular Executive Committee decision to the Yale community, a wide range of community members have been affected by this incident,” Miller said in the email. “As a result, I have decided to share the Committee’s decisions regarding this case.”
Although Miller revealed that the Committee issued individual sanctions to fraternity members, federal and University privacy policies prevented her from communicating further details about these disciplinary actions, she said. But Miller did disclose that the Committee imposed penalties on the Yale DKE chapter — despite its status as an unregistered student organization — that prevent it from recruiting new members or holding any events on campus for five years. The sanctions also limit the group’s ability to communicate with the student body and use the Yale name in connection with DKE. ...
The Committee has formally asked that the fraternity’s national organization suspend the chapter for five years. After the Old Campus incident, DKE’s national organization promptly directed the Yale chapter to stop all pledge activities, including the initiation of new members. But the ban was lifted in early November, less than one month after it was imposed.
If, after five years, the fraternity has adhered to these measures and registers as an undergraduate organization, the Committee suggests that the Yale College Dean’s Office lift the penalties.
Although the national organization has yet to receive a formal request for suspension from the University, Executive Director of DKE International Douglas Lanpher said the measures detailed in Miller’s e-mail to the Yale community were “excessive” and that the fraternity’s headquarters would want to appeal the decision if possible.
You couldn’t hope to frame a better demonstration of the characteristic intellectual and moral confusion of the Western establishment leadership class than occurred over the last weekend.
In the United States, an absolute nobody, the Rev. Terry Jones of the ludicrously named “World Dove Outreach Center” in Gainesville, Florida, obviously feeling neglected since he had graciously canceled a burning of the Koran last year, got himself back into the news by putting the Islamic holy book on trial, finding it guilty, sentencing it, and carrying out his own Koran barbecue.
In the aftermath, in a variety of locations in Afghanistan, mobs of howling savages threw temper tantrums in response, blocking a main highway with burning tires, attacking US soldiers, storming a UN compound and brutally murdering seven innocent people with no connection whatsoever to Reverend Hookworms, and even immolating a effigy of Barack Obama.
The Afghans, inured to bloodshed from childhood, are familiar with death, and audacious in attack, but easily discouraged by failure; excessively turbulent and unsubmissive to law or discipline; apparently frank and affable in manner, especially when they hope to gain some object, but capable of the grossest brutality when that hope ceases. They are unscrupulous in perjury, treacherous, vain and insatiable, passionate in vindictiveness, which they will satisfy at the cost of their own lives and in the most cruel manner. Nowhere is crime committed on such trifling grounds, or with such general impunity, though when it is punished the punishment is atrocious. Among themselves the Afghans are quarrelsome, intriguing and distrustful; estrangements and affrays are of constant occurrence; the traveller conceals and misrepresents the time and direction of his journey. The Afghan is by breed and nature a bird of prey. If from habit and tradition he respects a stranger within his threshold, he yet considers it legitimate to warn a neighbour of the prey that is afoot, or even to overtake and plunder his guest after he has quitted his roof. The repression of crime and the demand of taxation he regards alike as tyranny.
The British of a century ago did not apologize for outbreaks of insane violence on the part of hirsute barbarians. They punished them and got on with it.
Today, any occurrence of native violence, proving all over again that we are dealing with the kind of people who are half-devil and half-child, instead of prompting the despatch of a useful punitive expedition to set an example long remembered among the hills instead produces a epidemic among our own elite of chin-stroking, grovelling, and bed-wetting.
In a series of disgraceful statements, Sens. Harry Reid and Lindsey Graham, along with Gen. David Petraeus, have laid the blame for the unrest where it doesn’t belong: at the feet of the US Constitution.
Reid, the feckless Senate majority leader, said the body would “take a look” at Terry Jones’ actions in burning a copy of the Islamic holy book, and threatened hearings, as if the Senate didn’t have far more pressing issues—such as passing a budget and tackling the country’s fiscal problems.
Even more disgraceful was Graham, who said on “Face the Nation”: “I wish we could find a way to hold people accountable,” referring to Pastor Jones. “Free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war. During World War II, we had limits on what you could do if it inspired the enemy.”
This is jaw-dropping in its ignorance and stupidity. Graham is arguing against freedom of speech—why else should an American citizen exercising his First Amendment rights, however offensive to some, be “held accountable” for the reactions of superstitious goatherds half a world away?—and equating an insult toward the religion that explicitly animated the 9/11 hijackers with the Bund marchers who supported Hitler.
But the prize for disappointment goes to Petraeus and NATO Ambassador Mark Sedwill, whose statement read in part: “In view of the events of recent days, we feel it is important . . . to reiterate our condemnation of any disrespect to the Holy Koran and the Muslim faith. We condemn, in particular, the action of an individual in the United States who recently burned the Holy Koran.
“We further hope the Afghan people understand that the actions of a small number of individuals, who have been extremely disrespectful to the Holy Koran, are not representative of any of the countries of the international community who are in Afghanistan to help the Afghan people.”
To this we’ve come: Bogged down in an increasingly ineffectual military operation in Afghanistan that should have ended years ago after we defeated the Taliban and routed al Qaeda, we are instead apologizing to the very people who are killing American soldiers, and treating their holy book better than we do any other.
Petraeus’ statement can perhaps be excused on the grounds that his job is as much diplomatic as martial—but that, of course, is precisely what’s wrong with his current mission. He shouldn’t be “helping the Afghan people.” That’s a task for after the Islamist threat to the West has been eliminated.
The Avatar director was determined to expose journalists, such as myself, who thought it was important to ask questions about climate change orthodoxy and the radical “solutions” being proposed.
Cameron said was itching to debate the issue and show skeptical journalists and scientists that they were wrong.
“I want to call those deniers out into the street at high noon and shoot it out with those boneheads,” he said in an interview. ...
[A] few weeks ago… [h]is representatives contacted myself and two other well known skeptics, Marc Morano of the Climate Depot website and Andrew Breitbart, the new media entrepreneur.
Mr. Cameron was attending the AREDAY environmental conference in Aspen Colorado 19-22 August. He wanted the conference to end with a debate on climate change. Cameron would be flanked with two scientists. It would be 90 minutes long. It would be streamed live on the internet.
They hoped the debate would attract a lot of media coverage.
“We are delighted to have Fox News, Newsmax, The Washington Times and anyone else you’d like. The more the better,” one of James Cameron’s organizers said in an email.
It looked like James Cameron really was a man of his word who would get to take on the skeptics he felt were so endangering humanity.
Everyone on our side agreed with their conditions. The debate was even listed on the AREDAY agenda.
But then as the debate approached James Cameron’s side started changing the rules.
They wanted to change their team. We agreed.
They wanted to change the format to less of a debate—to “a roundtable”. We agreed.
Then they wanted to ban our cameras from the debate. We could have access to their footage. We agreed.
Bizarrely, for a brief while, the worlds most successful film maker suggested that no cameras should be allowed-that sound only should be recorded. We agreed
Then finally James Cameron, who so publicly announced that he “wanted to call those deniers out into the street at high noon and shoot it out,” decided to ban the media from the shoot out.
He even wanted to ban the public. The debate/roundtable would only be open to those who attended the conference.
No media would be allowed and there would be no streaming on the internet. No one would be allowed to record it in any way.
We all agreed to that.
And then, yesterday, just one day before the debate, his representatives sent an email that Mr. “shoot it out ” Cameron no longer wanted to take part. The debate was cancelled.
For Mr. Cameron: Monty Python’s Ballad of Sir Robin 2:02 video
Deborah B. Sloan, at American Thinker, describes the failure of the Republican congressional leadership to rise to the challenge of educating the public and confronting the left, and their choice of cowardice and conformity to the politics of the left instead.
“I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” Congressman Barton said. “I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown—in this case, a $20 billion shakedown. ... I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that is—again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown.”
Amen, Congressman Barton. It is horrifying to witness the constant statist attack on property rights and the rule of law while being essentially powerless to stop it. What a relief it was to hear someone who does have a modicum of power speak out against this assault on our nation.
Of course, the usual suspects on the left—most notably Joe Biden—leaped onto their soap boxes and screamed bloody murder in reaction to Congressman Barton’s statements; they regurgitated worn-out clichés about Republicans being “in the pockets of Big Oil.”
This sort of tantrum always erupts when someone takes a principled stand against the left. It was an opportunity for the Republican leadership’s response to second Mr. Barton’s concern for the enormously important principles involved, to advocate reimbursement via the constitutionally supported mechanism of due process for people who were harmed by the oil leak, and to firmly tell the Obama regime that they will not be receiving any apologies—that it is they who owe apologies to the American people for the fraud, corruption, theft, and full-blown terror they have subjected us to since January 2009.
Instead, the House Republican leadership denounced the stand taken by Mr. Barton and demanded that he apologize. This type of spinelessness on the part of the Republicans has contributed significantly to the erosion of freedom in America over the past century. Ayn Rand observed that
[t]he uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. They come to be accepted by degrees, by dint of constant pressure on one side and constant retreat on the other—until one day when they are suddenly declared to be the country’s official ideology.
With the exception of the fight against ObamaCare, the current Republican leadership have demonstrated that they are unwilling to stand up to the left. The solution to this is not a third party. Instead, the Republican establishment must be phased out and replaced with a new school of leaders who will proudly fight for freedom and capitalism with the same endurance and unapologetic fervor that the left has exhibited for collectivism and tyrannical big government.
The Supreme Court is closing its iconic front entrance beneath the words “Equal Justice Under Law.”
Beginning Tuesday, visitors no longer will ascend the wide marble steps to enter the 75-year-old building. Instead, they will be directed to a central screening facility to the side of and beneath the central steps that was built to improve the court’s security as part of a $122 million renovation.
Two justices, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, called the change unfortunate and unjustified.
Breyer said no other high court in the world, not even Israel’s, has closed its front entrance over security concern. ...
Other justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, have spoken fondly of being able to walk up the steps and through the 1,300-pound bronze doors at the center of the court’s columned entryway. Justice Anthony Kennedy told C-SPAN last year that the steps and the words, written by building architect Cass Gilbert, were intended to inspire visitors and justices alike.
The court said the new entrance grew out of two independent security studies in 2001 and 2009.
The fortress-mentality that has taken over all the court houses I’ve visited in recent years has finally reached the Supreme Court of the United States.
The monumental entrance is just not ideally conducive to electronic searches, so it will no longer be used for its intended purpose.
In my lifetime, we’ve gone from the America of Norman Rockwell to the Amerika of Franz Kafka and the security state that makes you remove shoes in airport boarding lines. Arriving visitors and attorneys will get to slink in some subterranean bunker entrance where they can be properly channeled through security stops. Our courthouses are not open to the public any longer. Who knows? Someone might try to rebel and attack the authorities. All our officials need constant protection from us.
I can remember just a bit over a decade ago being in the Clinton County Courthouse in Lock Haven (Pennsylvania) researching a few deeds in the Recorder’s Office. There were some good old boys in camouflage, their shotguns leaning on the wall, practicing turkey calls in the corridor while the ladies in the sheriff’s office critiqued their performances through the open doorway.
Today, you get searched every time you walk into a courthouse. The first time I ran into this kind of crap outside the big city was in Danbury, Connecticut in the mid-1990s. The rent-a-cop demanded I remove my belt, and in my outrage and frustration I delivered an indignant ex tempore sermon on the subject of the decline of freedom in the United States to the general population in the hallway.
The security guard scoldingly informed me that I should be grateful that he was protecting a mere civilian like me against someone coming into the building with a gun and injuring me. He then warned me against openly challenging official policies.
My wife wasn’t present, and I got a little more angry.
“Why exactly is somebody carrying a gun such a big deal?” I deliberately responded. “You have a gun, you little pipsqueak.” I observed, “I don’t, and I’m not afraid of you.” I then leaned toward him, invading his personal space and grinned, implicitly offering him an invitation to reach for it, feeling quite sure I could swat him before he could clear his holster. He thought seriously about it for a few seconds, and decided not to try.
I got some mixed reactions from the crowd. Several people gave me some very fishy looks. A few guys grinned. The security guard did his best to look intensely occupied, and the moment passed.
Young men of Brockworth in Gloucestershire have from Time Immemorial, at least for a couple of centuries, possibly even from Roman or Phoenician Antiquity, been celebrating the arrival of Spring with the annual Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake, a peculiar local competition involving a hazardous madcap pursuit down a steep hill after a large round block of Double Gloucester cheese.
The London Times reports that safety, insurance, and traffic considerations, in other words bureaucracy and general poltroonery, have caused this year’s cheese-rolling to be cancelled.
A centuries-old cheese rolling contest has fallen victim to health and safety — but not because of the broken bones and dozens of other injuries sustained each year.
Organisers of Gloucestershire’s annual competition have cancelled the event due to be held on May 31 because of concerns raised by the police and local authority over traffic and crowd control.
The Telegraph reports that a week ago today, West Mercia police, obedient to safety regulations, left a five-year-old trapped in a submerged car for close to two hours waiting for properly-trained specialists to arrive.
The five-year-old girl, her-six year-old brother and their father Chris Grady were in the car when it plunged into the river Avon in Evesham, Worcestershire, on Thursday morning.
Mr Grady and his son Ryan, managed to escape from the submerged car. They were helped clear by police officers on the riverbank.
However, Mr Grady’s daughter, Gabrielle, was trapped inside the vehicle for 97 minutes before the closest police dive team, based in the next county, could arrive. The divers then took a further 12 minutes to rescue her.
The officers already on the scene were prevented from diving in earlier to rescue her by police safety regulations.
The little girl remained in a critical state in hospital yesterday while her brother yesterday began to make a recovery.
He was well enough to sit up in bed and talk to family at his bedside.
West Mercia police admitted last night that safety regulations barred normal police officers from jumping into rivers to try to save people.
A police spokesman said the closest available police dive team was Avon and Somerset constabulary.
“Their team arrived within 97 minutes of the original request being made.
“Once they had arrived it took only a further 12 minutes to rescue the child from the submerged vehicle.
“At the time of the original request Avon and Somerset Dive Team were involved in an underwater search for a missing person in Gloucestershire.
“Police officers are not trained or equipped to enter rivers in order to rescue people.
“They are trained and equipped to make rescues from riverbanks.
“The risk involved in untrained and ill-equipped officers entering the water in these circumstances are generally too high to contemplate.
The American Pseudo-Intelligentsia desires above all things that the United States should become ever more like Europe. The tragedy in Worcestershire demonstrates that the brave new Progressive world all tidily ruled over and arranged into order by centralized authority leaves no room for initiative, improvisation, and reckless courage, no room for humanity. Yet, in a real emergency, it is precisely the unruly individual, the human being willing to risk everything and to ignore the rulebook, that makes the critical difference. They’ve done an excellent job of eliminating people like that in the socialist bureaucracies of modern Europe, including Britain.
A survivor of an Alabama university shooting said the professor charged in the attack that claimed three lives methodically shot the victims in the head until her gun apparently jammed and she was pushed out of the room.
Associate professor Joseph Ng told The Associated Press on Tuesday he was one of 12 people at the biology department meeting Friday at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. He described the details in an e-mail to a colleague at the University of California-Irvine.
Ng said the meeting had been going on for about half an hour when Amy Bishop “got up suddenly, took out a gun and started shooting at each one of us. She started with the one closest to her and went down the row shooting her targets in the head.”...
Ng said the meeting was held around an oval table. The six people on one side were all shot.
“The remaining 5 including myself were on the other side of the table (and) immediately dropped to the floor,” he wrote.
Ng told the AP the shooting stopped almost as soon as it started. Ng said the gun seemed to jam and he and others rushed Bishop out of the room and then barricaded the door shut with a table.
Ng said the charge was led by Debra Moriarity, a professor of biochemistry, after Bishop aimed the gun at her and attempted to fire but it didn’t shoot. He said Moriarity pushed her way to Bishop, urged her to stop, and then helped force her out the door.
“Moriarity was probably the one that saved our lives. She was the one that initiated the rush,” he told the AP. “It took a lot of guts to just go up to her.”
Ng said the survivors worried she would shoot her way through the door, and frantically worked up backup plan in case she burst through. But she never did.
I thought it was interesting to read how when Amy Bishop’s gun jammed (or was simply empty), after she had shot six people, several of the remaining biologists were sufficiently driven by survival instinct to rise from hiding on the floor, ask her to stop shooting people(!), and then, as she presumably gaped at them in astonishment, employ superior numbers to push her out the door. After which, they proceeded to try to barricade themselves inside. It would be just too bad, of course, for anybody else who had recently offended Amy Bishop who happened along after she reloaded or cleared her jam.
Five people made no attempt to apprehend or disarm a woman who was obviously, temporarily at least, unable to fire any more rounds. As far as they were concerned, short term personal survival was the key priority. Dealing with Professor Bishop would be a job for the authorities. Let the police and the rest of the university community take their own chances. And when I look over the list of department members (not named in the article), it does seem to be the case that the majority of the persons potentially present, and not otherwise accounted for, would have been male.