The New Terrapin Gazette

Number 285
20 December, 2012

Back in the 1950s, Ed Murrow told us that TV could go in one of two directions: it could teach, illuminate, and even inspire us, he said, or it could be nothing more than wires and lights in a box. Let’s be real generous and say the jury is still out on that one.

This Is The Best Strategy For Reducing All Domestic Violence, Homicidal And Suicidal

The horror preoccupying the news media and the minds of many in the USA today is the mass murderer who invades a “Gun Free” zone and begins slaughtering as many people as possible. As bad as that is, there are many more who simply kill themselves — in spite of being under treatment for some kind of “mental illness” or emotional disorder. If some way could be found to alter the consciousness of these people so they felt no compulsion to do harm, surely the nation would be better off.

It appears very likely that such a remedy may be at hand.

Do watch this video (skip the stupid ad at the beginning), and give it careful consideration. It makes a convincing case. Highest recommendation.

The Second Amendment And Heller Be Damned: The Populace Must Be Disarmed, Lest The Governors Fear The Governed

Obama will use the acts of a madman to advance the totalitarian cause of disarming the law-abiding public. There are excellent reasons to oppose this illicit move:

The general decline in gun-related violence and the inability even of mental health professionals to identify future mass killers should be the essential starting points of any serious policy discussion generated by the absolutely horrific slaughter at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. We should also add a third starting point: Few good policies come from rapid responses to deeply felt injuries. Many of the same people who are now calling for immediate action with regard to gun control recognize that The Patriot Act, rushed through Congress in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, was a terrible piece of legislation that ultimately did nothing to protect Americans even as it vastly expanded the state’s ability to surveil law-abiding citizens. There’s no reason to think that federal, state, or local gun control laws promulgated now would result in anything different.


There are also strategies for coping with heartbreaking disaster, and the wise will resort to them rather than ape the madness that instigated the terror.

Rational policy begins with the correct assessment of risk, and can go off the rails whenever the public’s perceptions of danger are wildly inaccurate. How much sense does it make to allow your exaggerated fright of rare events to make you subject to cynical political manipulation, while you remain unconcerned by disasters that recur? This graph is useful:


Risks, Real and Perceived. How Rational are You?

Devious, conscienceless politicians will use whatever expedient means they can — including exploiting irrational fear — to achieve an iniquitous goal: the reduction of the body politic to impotence. Hence the hatred of the Tea Party and the demonization of the National Rifle Association of America. Those organizations empower the electorate in ways only rascals find threatening. Honest, decent leaders can afford to be unafraid of the people.

The germinal motive of the firearms-banners is almost never articulated: a nation that is improperly ruled must necessarily be disarmed.

All right; what Obamites want can be deduced from their authoritarian need for and dependence on control (surveillance, intimidation, regulation, censorship, and repression), and scoundrels like Bloomberg will spout all manner of non-facts and specious arguments to get it. Accurate information — such as this from a scholar who has studied firearms in the USA for many years — will be ignored by the zealots. (Sample quote: “…we allowed permit-concealed handguns in schools prior to the ironically named Safe School Zone Act. And no one that I know has been able to point to a single bad thing that occurred, not one. We changed the law, and we started having these public-school shootings.”)

What will happen? Demagogues will babble, rant and rave, and the militias will begin to recruit again. Laws will be passed, judges will be appointed, and there will be a risk of revolution. No, it’s not possible to predict how serious that risk will be.

A decent government could tolerate a heavily-armed citizenry — and that’s a fact that can be denied only by the most bigoted of elitists.

Unfortunately “bigoted elitists” is a term that applies to much of the current ruling class. And — here comes John Kerry!

It’s going to be a tough, tough four years.

Thomas Friedman, Poster Boy For The New York Times: The Limitations Of Knowledge

If the Times can be proud of any of its employees, certainly Friedman is a candidate to lead the list. The fellow has won the Pulitzer Prize three times, and whatever you think of journalism these days, you have to admit that’s quite a feat. Then again you might want to learn a bit more about this media star. One of the things you might want to know is that Friedman never uncovered anything remotely like the UN swindle called “Oil for food”, a fact this newsletter mentions because that was the largest financial scam in human history — and was exposed literally singlehandedly by Claudia Rosett, who came nowhere near winning a Pulitzer for her work. Does that mean that Friedman’s awards are a bit diminished? Well, yes, it does.

So while you consult Friedman’s employer for information on Friedman, keep in mind that not everyone believes the lauded reporter and columnist is as omniscient and inerrant as advertised.

That’s not so much a criticism of Friedman as it is a recognition of the literal incomprehensibility of the world. Friedman has specialized in, among other geographical areas, the Muddle East. It is so easy to overlook highly relevant facts and seismic causes in that part of the world that plausible scenarios almost never play themselves out as expected, and facts tend to evaporate with baffling speed. Even Friedman can be confounded by the object of his reporting and analysis — without realizing he is off track.

The rational observer will therefore not forget that everything in the region has a bloody past that is cherished, bitterly resented, and ignored by competing factions. Further, religion plays a predominant role in politics, which means an element of insanity is always present. A rational policy can only seek to make violence and inhumanity less effective, forcing even the most rabid fanatics to see the futility of their sacred causes. More than that is not to be hoped for.

Yet hope plays a role in human events. For example, most journalists and diplomats and politicians subscribe to some variety of Utopianism. This leads them to look for causes, solutions, answers and strategies; they want to fix things and stop other people from breaking them. Their optimistic analytic approach assumes the existence of a mystical yet mechanical process, a shadowy species of Newtonian action-reaction law, in the unfolding of history. Such a law probably does not exist, but if it does, it is certainly beyond human understanding. That is why prediction is usually wrong: even when it appears to have been correct, that can be mere coincidence. No one who studies a region intensely is eager to admit that, of course, which is why so few experts emphasize that reality is bafflingly chaotic.

There is one additional truth that is also seldom mentioned, even by geniuses like Friedman: history is frequently the account of how land and wealth have been seized. What nation exists simply because it was invited to? Some form of conquest is always the means by which borders are drawn and altered. Sometimes, of course, the victory is soft and merely recognizes reality, as was the case with the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo; yes, the USA literally walked off with half of Mexico, which sounds horrible, but the event was utterly reasonable at the time. (It is often forgotten that the USA dropped its demands for new borders before the Mexican government, unaware of the change in US policy, agreed to the cession. When Washington learned that Mexico had signed the treaty, US policy was reversed again, and quickly. A huge part of the USA might today be in Mexico if CNN had existed in the second quarter of the nineteenth century.)

Indeed large parts of Asia Minor, the Middle East and south and southeast Asia have political borders that were drawn in hotel rooms on the other side of the globe. Those presumptuous impositions led to absurd conflicts such as the Iraq-Kuwait dispute, as one might have expected. Nations that come into existence at the whim of ignorant, bigoted diplomats are hardly the exception. The results vary, and even include the bizarre circumstance found in the USA today, where some citizens of that nation, while subject to the federal constitution, are also considered privileged citizens of sovereign states that lie entirely within the US borders — and are not subject to the laws of the states in which they are found.

Yes, the world is a bit insane. That not only makes it very difficult to understand — it also means that experts cannot perform nearly as well as they would like to. Ultimately, it means that no nation has always been innocent, and today’s justifications of violence as the righting of old wrongs are very often little more than deceitful propaganda.

To cite a concrete example, Argentina has no valid claim on The Falklands, no matter what happened a century or more ago. It’s a fait accompli; get over it.

Before you mistake authorities like Friedman and his employer for inerrant sages who can guide any government’s policy, remember that the only real guidance one can rely on is the principle that decent governance will protect the rights of the individual while ignoring fictions such as “society’s rights”. It’s a simple and demanding concept, but it’s a rule all governments should obey. It’s all anyone needs a government to do.

The problem: Friedman and the NY Times would doubtless disagree. Keep that in mind as you read what they publish.


The Forecast for the Week, From The Weather Bureau in Uxmal, Yucatan


A NY Times columnist tries to make “black” a political term and a Breitbart staffer responds in fury.

If this is acceptable behavior, expect to find more US federal organizations that refuse to tell the public what they are doing — and even deny that they are part of the government. How, exactly, is that good for the country?

Anthropogenic global warming strikes: “Russia is enduring its harshest winter in over 70 years, with temperatures plunging as low as -50 degrees Celsius.” Lies, all lies! Just ask Al Gore!

This video will probably remain forever unique: an eagle is filmed snatching a child.

Here’s the report on why Islamists were able to kill everybody in the US facility in Benghazi. Surprise! It says the State Department was incompetent! All right, everybody knew that — so what does it say about all that babble from Hillary and from Rice — those lies about how that silly film caused the violence? Well, er, ah, that is…. As one critic says, “…the world — not to mention most of (Obama’s) media lackeys — wants to move on from this. Benghazi is yesterday’s scandal. … That the president lied about a major homicidal event in the War on Terror is no big deal.”

This is rich: Question: “What is the gun community going to do about this tragedy?” Answer: “I dunno. What is the homosexual community going to do about Penn State?” Hilarity in The Eagle Wing Palace, outrage elsewhere. Morons.

You knew all this already, because you automatically read all the books reviewed in this newsletter. So you see, you don’t need those ideologues at the Washington Post.

Hamas is sitting pretty. Damn!

Regarding the consequences of the Benghazi disaster, lots of folks “…are assuming that Clinton, who has been hedging for a month on whether to appear at the congressional hearings, has concocted yet another excuse to avoid facing the music on a scandal which, if pursued with integrity, would likely end her political career…” (emphasis added). Well, of course. But Hillary isn’t worried; she knows the press won’t give her the roasting she deserves. It’s that word “integrity”, you understand. That makes all the difference.

If you need more opinion on firearms legislation in the USA, this piece looks as if it might be OK. Nobody around here has bothered to read it, though.

What should the USA do — raise taxes, cut spending, or increase spending and confiscate all the money of the wealthy? Some folks say raising taxes is absolutely out of the question, and they deserve a chance to make their case. It’s actually quite good. Give it a look.

China’s struggle against free speech continues. Of course the evil dictators want to enlist the UN in this despicable effort to keep millions in slavery. And of course the UN is happy to conspire with the slave-masters.

Holder must go.

Some years ago, this newsletter linked to a hugely entertaining video. It’s wonderful, so here it is again. If you have not seen it yet, don’t be drinking anything while you watch.

Anonymous takes on the crazies. Fine, but this newsletter would like to see Anonymous get back to shredding Scientology. Speaking of which, you may be aware of the defunct series on cable TV called Bullshit, in which stage magicians Penn and Teller vivisected some sacred cows with humor and Penn’s foul-mouthed rants. Penn has been asked why he and his silent partner never denounced Islam or Scientology, and his candid answer was that he did not want to place his family and himself in mortal danger. Some villains are so evil that opposing them, however mildly, requires great courage. Ask Geert Wilders….

Bite the hand
Bite the hand that bakes your bread
Dare to leap
Where the angels fear to tread
Till you are torn apart
Stoke the fires of paradise
With coals from Hell to start
But never give your love, my friend
Unto a foolish heart

The masthead includes a quote from the works of Bernard Goldberg.

The staff of The New Terrapin Gazette expresses its sincere gratitude to the many people who have gifted the world with Fedora Linux, Emacs, and Firefox.

Publisher: The Eagle Wing Palace of The Queen Chinee.