The NY Times Dishonest use of Adverbs

As a paper that believes in making the news instead of reporting it, the N.Y. Times has yet again demonstrated a complete lack of journalistic integrity. In an editorial piece following the San Bernardino mass shooting described the rifles used in the shooting as “slightly modified” and “barely modified” (see http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/12/05/opinion/end-the-gun-epidemic-in-america.html?referer=&_r=0). Converting a semi automatic rifle that fires one round per trigger squeeze to a full automatic rifle that can empty an entire magazine with a single trigger pull in seconds is a MAJOR conversion.  That conversion is neither “slightly” nor “barely” modified. By making that change, the rifle immediately changed classifications and came under a highly restrictive body of laws that the majority of Americans do not qualify for. Making that modification converts a sporting rifle into an assault rifle.

The Times also fails to point out that the rifles were purchased illegally, in spite of the fact the opposite was reported. Because the shooter’s friend bought the gun for hin, that is called a “straw purchase” and straw purchases are illegal. It also failed to point out that California’s gun laws are some of the strictest in the nation. In fact, California laws require rifles with removable magazines to use a tool to remove the magazines.

The editorial calls for Americans owning the sort of rifles used in San Bernardino to turn them in for the good of the nation. So is the Times is calling for Americans with illegally purchased, and illegally converted rifles to turn them in? If it was only calling for that, nearly every law abiding, gun owning American would support that. However, what the Times did was lie about the rifles used by using adverbs to describe them that are not even remotely correct. In Michael Bloomberg form, the Times just wants a massive gun grab from people that would never think of using them illegally. What they are asking for will have a negative impact on public safety because it has the potential of taking legal firearms out of the hands of Americans who used such firearms to foil over two million crimes in 2014.

 

A “Conservatarian” View of the SCOTUS Same Sex Marriage Decision

I’m not a constitutional scholar, but I’ve invested a good amount of time in this issue. I don’t need to reiterate what others have said about the intricacies of the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Simply started, the Equal Protection clause states that all Americans are entitled to equal protection under the law, period.  What bears stating is the legal precedent in referencing the Fourteenth. Prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there were “Jim Crow” laws in the southern states that required the states, under law, to segregate based on race. Facilities were supposed to be “separate but equal.” They rarely were equal. President Woodrow Wilson, an overt racist, practiced gross discrimination. The equally overt racist Democrats of the late 1800s through the mid 1960s did everything possible to undermine the anti-segregationist policies of the Republicans. The southern states felt their state sovereignty allowed them to discriminate within the borders of their states. The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth was the constitutional basis for the federal government to overrule state sovereignty because the federal government is responsible for ensuring all citizens get equal protection under the law. Given the preponderance of states that have marital equality laws, it was not, in my mind, a far stretch to apply the same principles that shot down Jim Crow. What the Fourteenth does not touch is the right of people that are not agents of the state from discriminating except in areas such as housing and employment. This ties into the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. By law and practice, churches are not agents of the state. Congress cannot force a non-agent to act. I am an ordained minister. I cannot be compelled to perform any service for anyone. I don’t know the individual laws of every state where marital equality is the law, but I can tell you that Maryland’s law is well-crafted and explicitly protects the clergy. Here is the text of Question 6, the public referendum for marital equality in Maryland,

“Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.”

I am a libertarian. I voted for Question 6 even though I will not personally perform a same-sex ceremony. I am not discounting what I believe to be the biblical truth on the topic. I am standing behind the right of two people to enter into a legally binding contract, which in the eyes of the state, is what marriage is.

The reason we have this mess is that our bloated government stuck its nose into marriage, a thing formerly under the scope of religious bodies. It chose to grant legal privileges to married couples. Once it did that and the individual states began to legalize same sex marriage, it was inevitable that it would have to respond.

Before we are too quick to respond to this ruling, think of where America would be if Jim Crow was still in existence.

An Independence Day Letter to my Students

I am privileged to be an adjunct professor for Everest College.  The opportunity to touch the lives of hundreds of students is something I greatly relish.  On Independence Day, 2014, I wrote the following to my current students.  If you are a former student of mine, or if you just came across this blog for some other reason, I hope that you’ll take to heart the following:

Dearest Students:

As we go into this holiday weekend, I hope you all remember what we are truly celebrating. The independence that our nation gained over 200 years ago is something that allows us to be studying as we are here today. We don’t need any sort of royal decree to allow us to teach. In slightly over two centuries of existence, our great nation has accomplished many wonderful things. We face challenging times, as is often the case in any great nation. What makes America truly great is not only our great freedoms, but how we deal with struggles and the hard times in life.  We are an exceptional nation made up of exceptional people.
It’s important that you are always aware of the great sacrifices that it took to get to where we stand today. If while you’re watching a parade, you happen to see a veteran, go up to that man or that woman and express your thanks for that person’s service to our great country.  Having been a soldier, I can tell you that the greatest challenges are those we face when we get back into the “real” world. While many of our veterans don’t bear their scars on the outside, a great number bear scars on the inside. One out of every four homeless people is a veteran. On any given day, 22 veterans die at their own hands. If you started counting the number of veterans who died this way from New Year’s Day until Labor Day, the number would exceed those who died in the entire Iraqi conflict. Independence is something that we enjoy freely, but it didn’t come cheaply.
You have great things waiting for you after this class is done. College is one of the few places where you have the ability to determine almost everything that happens to you. You choose how much to study, you choose how hard you work on assignments, and you choose how much you participate in the discussion threads. If there is anything that I can tell you about your educational experience to come, it’s this; it doesn’t get easier. I have a dual Bachelor’s, a Diploma in Military Science, two Master’s degrees, and I’m working toward a postgraduate degree, and it is as hard today as it was when I was a college freshman 35 years ago. It’s always a challenge, but it’s always worth it. During the introductions to class, we ask you about those who will be your greatest supporters. It’s wonderful to have support, but remember one thing, the only one that you need to impress with what you do at school, is yourself. When you look at your grades, don’t gauge yourself so much on the letter grade as you do on the level of effort that went into achieving that letter grade. If you get a C in a class, and you put every bit of your being into earning that, then feel good about it. The size of the diploma of a student that carried a 2.9 GPA is not any smaller than that of a student who earned a perfect 4.0.

Best wishes to you all,
Andy Knaster, BA, MA, MSIS
Adjunct Prof., Everest College Phoenix Online

The Oligarchy Times, a Reminder that the Obamanation has More Issues than the Ones in the News Today

The Oligarchy Times, Volume 2, Issue 3

In this issue of the Oligarchy Times, we have another look at Obamacare because the President really cannot be allowed to run away from the disaster he created just because has created so many others in addition.

Four months ago, in regard to people losing their health insurance as a result of the inappropriately named “Affordable Care Act,” Harry Reid said that “there are plenty of horror stories being told…all of them are untrue” (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSJOLivL-NU).  I was doing some research on a paper for my doctoral program, and look what I came across…an article that was printed in the Contemporary Pediatrics journal just three weeks before Mr. Reid’s claims.  I know, it must be that the Koch brothers and the Benham brothers chipped in and bought Contemporary Pediatrics and Fox News gathered all of the fake survey respondents.  It’s just one more fake scandal.  Oh good, now I can rest safely in the Obamanation.
aca pediatrics

 

The Oligarchy Times: How the President could Really Change the World

The Oligarchy Times, Volume 2, Issue 2

In the past, I have made suggestions for the President that he was highly unlikely to act upon. I have a few very realistic actions that President Obama could take that will take care of several issues and truly change the world:

1) His dropping pole results
2) Fuel costs in the US
3) The loss of the US’s position as a true super power
4) Unemployment
5) Our impotent threats against Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine

If he would drive getting rid of ridiculous EPA prohibitions against fracking and northern drilling and push for the passing of the XL pipeline, we could take a large portion of that oil, sell it to European nations dependent on Russian oil at a rate far lower than Russia’s, and bankrupt the Russian economy by removing that income stream.  We could win that “war” without deploying a single soldier or firing a single bullet.  Fuel costs in the US would drop, we’d have a viable economic weapon to diplomiatically impact the world for good, tens of thousands of jobs would be created, and Russia would be forced to stop these invasions that are based on its stabilizing its major income stream.  It could happen.

The Oligarchy Times: What is a Patriot

The Oligarchy Times, volume 2, issue 1

In today’s issue of The Oligarchy Times, I ponder the question, “what is a patriot?”

I finally got around to playing the Olympic opening ceremony. I saw many Russian people with sincere looks of pride on their faces. I thought about all of the awful things that have occurred and are occurring in that nation. Before I could finish asking myself the question, “how can you be proud of a nation that has such a dark history and is still perpetrating darkness?” I asked it of myself in light of my own nation’s past and present perpetration of darkness both here and abroad. It was then that I realized the simple definition of “patriot.” A patriot is a person that loves the nation regardless of the nation’s actions.

I do love my nation, the United States, in spite of the fact that we are currently in the business of stripping liberty from our people and those of other nations. I will never cease to love my nation. I will always act to try and direct it toward doing the right things, even if that action is costly.

Being a true patriot is like being a true fan of a sports team. A true fan loves his or her team, regardless of the team’s record. The love of a fan or of a patriot is not based on performance. It is based on an unwavering commitment to love. To quote Christian musician Don Francisco, “love is not a feeling, it’s an act of the will.”

Clothes don’t make the blog

I was on a Web site devoted to providing instruction in a gamut of subjects (instructables.com).  I was looking for instructions on how to properly wear the keffiyeh I bought earlier in the year (http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-wrap-a-Keffiyeh/).   

A keffiyeh is a garment of Middle Eastern origins.  My reason for wanting to know how to wear one follows.  The sad thing I discovered in looking at the comments that followed the simple keffiyeh wrapping instructions was some people trying to politicize the simple presence of a page instructing people how to wear a garment that some people associate with terrorism.  Instructables.com is an apolitical site.  It is there to show people that don’t know things how to do them, period.  This was my response to the post:

Thanks for the instructions.  The keffiyeh is an extremely practical garment.  I am going hunting tomorrow and it is supposed to be unseasonably warm.  I have a cold weather hunting balaclava, but it will be a bit too warm to wear.  I have a bright orange and black keffiyeh to go with my blaze orange and black hunting camouflage.  The first time I used the keffiyeh was at an outdoor garage sale where I was manning a booth in the sun for three+ hours.  It kept my very Caucasian skin from getting very burnt.  Its gauzy structure kept it from getting to be too warm.

For those who are trying to make this political because of its Semitic origins, please don’t go there.  I am a Jew, an American patriot, and a Zionist.  As much as the world tends to forget, Arabs and Jews have a common parentage and a common region.  The keffiyeh is not a religious garment, it is a garment of the desert nomad.  At one time, most of us Semitic folks were nomads in desert areas.  I was in the US Army and was stationed in the desert for three years.  I wish I knew how to wear one of these back then. We wore gauze cravats like keffiyehs but they didn’t stay in place as well and were not so easily converted back and forth to face covers.  My wearing of a keffiyeh does not make me any more of a Palestinian sympathizer than my wearing of an ushanka (the Russian ear-flap hat) makes me a fan of Vladimir Putin.  As a person of Ukrainian heritage, I despise Putin because he embodies the egotistical oligarchical leader who seems to think he is better and smarter than everyone else.  That doesn’t make me want to trade in my ushanka for a ski cap or ear muffs.

When I was a soldier, the Army implemented the PASGT, styled after the German Bundeswehr’s Gefechtshelm (helmet with ear covering that is favored by bikers).  That didn’t me a Nazi.  We wore ponchos too.  They have their origins in South and Central America.  

The bottom line is this, in America, we have a creole culture.  We see it in our arts, cuisine, language, and clothing.  Our nation has been fortunate enough to be able to borrow from the hundreds (if not thousands) of cultures of our citizens.  Let’s not be so ignorant and naive to think that we Americans should avoid cultural garb because it has its origins in cultures some of us might not agree with.

Our New Commandeer-in-Chief, President Enron

The Oligarchy Times

Vol. 1, Issue 2.

President Obama now has a new name and new title.  As of today, I declare his new name to be President Enron.  Why?  Enron promised to deliver a functional energy exchange.  It took in lots of money, but it turned out to benefit a very small number of clients but profoundly benefitted the principles of Enron.  It was incapable of delivering on its promises.  President Enron promised to deliver a working healthcare exchange.  He got elected to the highest office in land based on the lies he told about keeping doctors, keeping insurance, and not costing the taxpayers one dime. What followed the enactment of the Unaffordable Careless Act earned him his new title, Commandeer-in Chief.  This is not a typo.  President Enron commandeered over $700 billion from the Medicare trust fund.  Here are the numbers:

pic_corner_092112_murdock_PB

President Enron and his minions are responsible for the creation of a system that doesn’t only have a flawed Web portal, it doesn’t even have a system created to pay insurance carriers.  So the Unaffordable Careless Act has the ability to take money in but it doesn’t have the ability to send money out.  The Commandeer-in-Chief is also a prolific liar.  He told millions of Americans that “the product is good.”  If the product was good, it would be able to do what was promised.

If you don’t like the name President Enron, I have an alternative: President Barry Madeoff.

Affordable Care Act Update: America Held Hostage, Day 20

On October 1, 2013, America was forced to participate in the purchase of a service that the majority of Americans do not want.  If uninsured Americans don’t have insurance and don’t buy insurance under the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), they will be penalized because, as the Supreme court determined, Obamacare is a tax and that tax will be a penalty imposed on Americans that choose to not buy the service.  At 2PM on October 20, 2013, I attempted to go to the exchange page for my state’s Health Insurance Exchange.  This is what I was greeted with:

aca20131020

I am a hunter.  This continued lack of availability of the ability to sign up for Obamacare is akin to requiring me to buy a hunting license online before hunting but then not having a working website to buy that license.  That is just flat-out ridiculous!

If you want to say, “I told you so”

I am inviting anybody in the United States that held a different opinion than mine about our newly re-elected president to say, “I told you so” to me when any of the following happen:

  1. The national debt ceases to grow for 12 months straight
  2. Our credit rating goes back to AAA
  3. We completely leave Afghanistan
  4. A budget is passed
  5. The president sets foot in Israel
  6. Real unemployment stays at or below 6% for three consecutive months
  7. DOMA is repealed and benefits like Social Security and military spousal privileges are extended to all legally married people
  8. The academic rating in science and math of U.S. students gets back into the top ten in the world
  9. The president fulfills his 2009 promise to shut down Guantanamo Bay
  10. The number of appearances the president makes on talk shows in a year is less than the number of press conferences he holds in the same year
  11. There isn’t a single presidential appointee at the USDA that has not or does not benefit from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s)

You know where to reach me.

What is more dangerous?

I was corresponding with pinkishey, a fellow citizen of the blogosphere, about the incessant bombings in her soon to be home in Israel.  She writes beautiful prose of her adventures there.  It takes me back to my younger years in Teaneck, NJ where I and many of my Jewish friends dreamt of living in the Holy Land.  I remember giving serious thought to moving there and joining the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) when President Carter re-instituted the draft.  She wrote of the impact of missiles in her soon to be home-town of Netivot (http://kvetshing.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/grad-missiles-from-gaza-hits-home-in-netivot/) and how that related to her feelings of relative safety.  I wrote the following to her.

What is more dangerous, living in a country where your government seeks to protect you from your enemies or living in a country that gives aid to your enemies? I used to be proud of how our (U.S.) government treated our (Jewish) people. Now I have a president that hasn’t set foot in the Holy Land while in office and would rather appear on Late Night with David Letterman than meet with Israel’s PM. Here is one of my favorite Israeli’s view of this, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YK7UGytvs8.

I hope she is able to stay there.

Never give in

Sir Winston Churchill was a gifted orator.  He has been credited for giving one of the most terse and powerful speeches in recent history.  The quotation is typically written like this:

Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never, never give in.

While Churchill did pen and read these words, they were part of a speech that was 723 words in length.  It is still an excellent example of how a fairly short oration (it takes a bit more than four minutes to read this) can have a profound impact.

In 1941, he delivered the following speech at the Harrow School, an independent boarding school where he studied as a youth.

Almost a year has passed since I came down here at your Head Master’s kind invitation in order to cheer myself and cheer the hearts of a few of my friends by singing some of our own songs.

The ten months that have passed have seen very terrible catastrophic events in the world—ups and downs, misfortunes—but can anyone sitting here this afternoon, this October afternoon, not feel deeply thankful for what has happened in the time that has passed and for the very great improvement in the position of our country and of our home?

Why, when I was here last time we were quite alone, desperately alone, and we had been so for five or six months. We were poorly armed. We are not so poorly armed today; but then we were very poorly armed. We had the unmeasured menace of the enemy and their air attack still beating upon us, and you yourselves had had experience of this attack; and I expect you are beginning to feel impatient that there has been this long lull with nothing particular turning up!

But we must learn to be equally good at what is short and sharp and what is long and tough. It is generally said that the British are often better at the last. They do not expect to move from crisis to crisis; they do not always expect that each day will bring up some noble chance of war; but when they very slowly make up their minds that the thing has to be done and the job put through and finished, then, even if it takes months—if it takes years—they do it.

Another lesson I think we may take, just throwing our minds back to our meeting here ten months ago and now, is that appearances are often very deceptive, and as Kipling well says, we must “…meet with Triumph and Disaster. And treat those two impostors just the same.”

You cannot tell from appearances how things will go. Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are; yet without imagination not much can be done. Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist; certainly many more than will happen; but then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination.

But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period—I am addressing myself to the School—surely from this period of ten months, this is the lesson:

Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

We stood all alone a year ago, and to many countries it seemed that our account was closed, we were finished. All this tradition of ours, our songs, our School history, this part of the history of this country, were gone and finished and liquidated.

Very different is the mood today. Britain, other nations thought, had drawn a sponge across her slate. But instead our country stood in the gap. There was no flinching and no thought of giving in; and by what seemed almost a miracle to those outside these Islands, though we ourselves never doubted it, we now find ourselves in a position where I say that we can be sure that we have only to persevere to conquer.

You sang here a verse of a School Song: you sang that extra verse written in my honor, which I was very greatly complimented by and which you have repeated today. But there is one word in it I want to alter—I wanted to do so last year, but I did not venture to. It is the line: “Not less we praise in darker days.”

I have obtained the Head Master’s permission to alter darker to sterner.  “Not less we praise in sterner days.”

Do not let us speak of darker days: let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days; these are great days—the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.


The White House tweeted me!

I must admit, I tweet; not in a Cartesian sense (dubito ergo tweeto, tweeto ergo sum), but I occasionally make use of the service.  I follow a few folks and groups.  One group that I follow is @whitehouse.  My friends on the hill sent me this tweet less than an hour ago:

My first thought was pretty simple, “gee guys, if you are right, then I guess that isn’t too bad since you’ve added six trillion to the deficit in just four years.”

The closed-minded open-minded people

I wanted to read an article on Tam O’Shaughnessy, Sally Ride’s partner for 27 years.  I found a really great one at http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/365992/20120723/tam-shaughnessy-oshaughnessy-sally-ride-lesbian-partner.htm.  I call it great because it didn’t make the fact that Sally was a lesbian a big deal.  It focused on her partner and the great work she and Sally did.  There was one sentence way of the end of the article that said, “Though Sally Ride was open about her partnership with Tam O’Shaughnessy, it does not appear to have been a controversial topic.”  I was getting ready to make a response commending the author for simply stating facts and not trying to capitalize on Sally’s death.  Then I came across a person that I will call, “John Q. Public.”  He wrote the following:

I’m very saddened about Sally’s death. She was a fantastic woman and a great contribution to society. It’s way too bad that people from the Religious Right are so bigoted towards gays and lesbians. May they read and educate themselves what gays and lesbians have contributed to our society. Rest in Peace Sally!!!

John Q. is a perfect example of closed-minded open-minded people.  I wrote this in response:

To borrow your words, “It’s way too bad that people like John Q. Public are so bigoted toward religious conservatives.” It’s also too bad that you tarnished a beautiful article that treated Sally’s sexuality as just another part of who she was instead of making a big deal out of it. I’m a religious conservative and an ally. You see, my conservatism dictates that the government has no right to barge into people’s affairs and determine which adults of consenting age may enter into a contract. My theology is my own theology which I am entitled to. I’d be a hypocrite if I wanted my liberty and wouldn’t give bigots like you your liberty. Whenever you say “all _______” and fill in the blank with an ethnic group, faith group, geographically defined group, etc., you are being a bigot. Would you ever say, “all Jews,” or “all Muslims, or “all Asians,” or “all New Yorkers?’ If not, you should seek a worldview of understanding and liberty instead of letting people be free unless it cramps your style.

Here is a homework assignment: find out who Fred Karger is and look up a group called “The Log Cabin Republicans.” You’ll find that your incorrect stereotypes don’t fit. One last thing, look up the political party of the president that signed the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act.

FYI, Fred Karger is an openly gay Republican that was on Ronald Reagan’s staff.  He was the first person to throw his hat in the ring for the 2012 presidential election.  The Log Cabin Republicans is a group of openly gay people that hold to traditional Republican platform issues such as reduced government, responsible spending, and a government that makes sure everyone has opportunities to succeed instead of giving them success at taxpayer expense.  The Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law by William Jefferson Clinton, a Democrat.

Afterword: Just in case anyone doubts that the International Business Times semi-censored me, here is proof:

So it is OK for one person to write that the Religious Right are bigots but it’s not OK for me to write that people who make broad-brush comments are bigots?

By the way, the rating on my post is now five in favor and three against.  It seems that maybe the International Business Times needs to listen to its readers a bit more.