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God, Guns, and Gays: Can We Find Something to Agree On?

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015 - by Stephen Green

GUNS

Finally, a civil rights measure on which I hope everyone can agree:

Last Tuesday, as the Nebraska legislature considered a bill making it easier for military spouses to carry concealed handguns, an unlikely issue arose: gay marriage. As written, the bill covered only spouses of military members whose marriages were recognized under state law—that is, opposite-sex partners. But Republican Sen. Paul Schumacher challenged that language, proposing an amendment that would define “spouse,” for the purposes of the legislation, using federal law—that is, including same-sex partners.

“Is not the Second Amendment sex-blind? Color-blind?” Schumacher asked during the debate. “What great evil would come from saying a partner of somebody in the military … is entitled to exercise their Second Amendment rights to carry a concealed weapon in this state?”

Schumacher’s amendment was adopted by a vote of 38-0.

Certainly, everyone in the Nebraska Senate agreed.

Further down there’s an interview with Schumacher where you get a good look at his thinking, and why he didn’t let his district’s opposition to gay marriage* get in the way of Second Amendment protections:

The amendment doesn’t [recognize gay military members’ spouses as their legal spouses], because our constitution prohibits saying that they are spouses. But we can create exceptions in which we say: Someone who receives a benefit of a spouse of a military person under federal law will [be covered] by this legislation. And that’s what everyone was satisfied was a good and fair thing to do.

Basically, the amendment grants benefits using [the federal government’s definition] of who gets benefits. If the federal government came out with a ruling that we confer upon a general’s grandmother the same rights and benefits of a general’s spouse—this would cover a pistol-packing grandma.

More guns, less crime.

(*When asked he if supports same-sex marriage, Schumacher deflected a bit with, “The people in my district do not support it.” And as a popularly elected lawmaker trying to stick to the issue at hand with a Slate writer, that’s a fair answer.)

*****

cross-posted from Vodkapundit, image illustration via shutterstock / 

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10 Dangerous Things Every Kid Should Do

Sunday, February 1st, 2015 - by Megan Fox

I’m not sure when it happened, but sometime between 1989 and 2015  “the village” lost its mind. It seems like every day there are reports of parents being arrested for simply letting their children play outside without hovering over them. The things parents are being arrested for are the exact same things that we were allowed to do when we were kids.

As a result, neighborhood streets are empty and parents are terrified to allow free, unsupervised play. These are not toddlers we are talking about but 8, 9, 10 and 11 year-olds who are being taught they have no right to play at the neighborhood parks without the ever watchful eyes of parents. Debra Harrell is one mother who bears the scars of the nanny state encroaching on her right to parent for allowing her 9 year old to play in the park instead of sit with her at work all day. Nicole Gainey is another mother who was arrested for letting her 7 year old go to the neighborhood park unsupervised. Tammy Cooper was arrested for letting her two children ride bikes outside of her home. She is suing and I hope she wins.

These are just a few of the ,any stories popping up all around the country as our culture nosedives into total acceptance of a surveillance state. Our children are suffering under unreasonable restrictions and we should be concerned about their ability to function independently as adults. And maybe that’s the purpose — to retard the development of dependent children into independent adults so that children go seamlessly from dependence on parents to dependence on an all-powerful government. We should fight this in our own homes and seek to produce highly independent and therefore inherently American citizens.

Here are 10 ways to do that:

seesaw

10. Play on “dangerous” playground equipment

Has your park taken down all teeter-totters? Are merry-go-rounds a thing of the past? Build some in your backyard. Monkey bars look too high? Let them swing on them anyway. We are simply too concerned with the safety of children around things that really are not that unsafe. If Little Jimmy gets a broken arm, he’ll also get a memory of an itchy cast and friends who signed it and learning how to do stuff with his other hand along with all that extra attention from Mom. It’s not the end of the world.

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Why Frozen Is Actually About Gun Control

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015 - by Karina Fabian

One thing about modern Disney princess movies is that they’re so easy to label with a message — any message. Look at Frozen. It’s about accepting yourself. It’s about letting your artistic talents flow. It’s about gay rights. It’s about overcoming oppression. It’s about gun control.

Wait. Gun control? Well, gun suppression, more accurately. Nonetheless, insert guns into the narrative, and you’ll see what I mean. Journey with me on a Magical Message Adventure. Lock and load, people!

Picture a fairytale world where there is a great power — magic. From a very young age, Princess Elsa is adept at using magic. So the parents, apparently too busy being royals, haven’t set any particular rules or set boundaries. It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

In this day and age, children aren’t always taught to respect guns, and guns aren’t always carefully secured against curious little hands, as witnessed in the tragic shooting of a mother by her toddler who pulled a loaded gun from her purse.

It’s not the magic – or the gun – that is inherently evil, but the misuse, lack of supervision and irresponsibility that lead to the tragedy. No one watching Frozen is thinking how magic should be banished, even though Elsa nearly killed her own sister. But when a tragic shooting occurs, the knee-jerk reaction is get rid of all guns.

Ah, but back to our story…

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There’s a Gun in My House

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

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Last April, right after the horrific bombing in Boston, I wrote about how I “evolved” on guns the night of the manhunt for the two men thought to be responsible for the bombings. Here’s what I wrote last year:

First, a confession: I’ve never owned a gun. I never wanted one in my home and, like a lot of moms, I wanted to raise non-violent children and thought keeping guns out of our home was one way to do that … Then came the day of the Boston Marathon, where bombs set off by baby-faced terrorists killed 3 individuals and injured another 264. I spent the evening, all the way  into the next morning, listening to the Boston Police Scanner and followed social media online so I could see the progression of the search for the subjects in real time during the manhunt. At one point, someone tweeted this: “I’m halfway across the country but if someone knocked on my door right now I’d pee my pants.” A moment of levity during a very serious, very scary night. It was the moment I evolved on guns — the moment my support for the 2nd Amendment went from abstract to concrete.

I decided then and there that I could shoot someone in that situation and I wanted the ability to do it in case a terrorist ever walks through my front door, because merely “sheltering-in-place” isn’t going to protect me from the bad guys. My husband, being an experienced marksman, fully endorsed the idea of getting a gun.

The decision process became a little more complicated after that initial decision to purchase a gun for home protection. Figuring out which gun was right for us (out of the gazillions of choices) was even more difficult than finding the exact, right, blingy, perfect shoes to wear to my son’s wedding. Both are life-altering decisions and you want to choose wisely (the difference being that the wrong wedding shoe choice won’t result in a chalk outline of a body at the end of the day). It’s not a decision we took lightly.

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America, F— Yeah!

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014 - by Stephen Green

MICKEY

Via LibertyUnyielding.com:

A new Orlando-area tourist attraction has opened up to add to the long list of other theme parks. But it’s unlike anything you’ll fins at Disney World, Universal Studiosm or Sea World. It’s called Machine Gun America.

It allows participants to fire live ammunition from fully automatic weapons.
“Everybody has something they always wanted to try,” General Manager Bruce Nierenberg told local CBS affiliate WTSP Channel 10 News. “This would be on people’s bucket list to try it and have a new experience.”

If you think that’s awesome — which it is — wait until you get to this next part:

Not everyone is thrilled with the idea of the 13,000 square foot facility being planted within the Mecca of Florida’s family-friendly theme parks.

“You’ve got Holy Land right there in Orlando. You’ve got Disney World, and Epcot,” said Lucia Kay McBath, a member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, “All places for family fun where they should feel protected.”

But it would appear that McBath is among the minority. The station is running a poll where it asks participants “Do you think it’s okay to allow kids as young as 13 to handle high-powered machine guns?”

Over 76% voted “Yes.”

I love this country.

*****

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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New Blogs: Guns and Curves

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

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What’s not to like about Guns and Curves? First article I read there was last month’s “I Was Afraid Of Guns: At 39, I Grew Up” by looooongtime blog-reader-turned-blogger Rachel Mullen. I know it’s from September, but it’s new to me and a timeless topic:

Convinced that I would accidentally shoot myself, I never touched a gun until I was 39 years old. (I feel like I just stepped out of the closet by admitting that publicly!)

In 2011 I found myself in a situation where I needed to protect myself. At first I just wanted to learn how disarm somebody with a gun in the event that I ever was in a situation that warranted it. But, after handling a gun for the first time, I realized that it wasn’t something to be afraid of, but rather something to be respected.

The gun wasn’t going to discharge just because I held it or even looked at it. It would fire when I told it to fire, when I squeezed the trigger.

Of course it is such a simple thing to understand, but with so much focus in the media and education that guns are dangerous and scary, many people lack confidence in using a firearm or become fearful by merely seeing one.

I bought into that scenario.

It’s a great tale, well told. Read the whole thing.

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cross-posted from Vodkapundit, image illustration via shutterstock / xavier gallego morell

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Japan Jails Man for 3D Printed Guns

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

IN 3D

With its notoriously strict gun control laws, this story should come as no surprise:

Yoshitomo Imura allegedly downloaded and printed five plastic guns, two of which could fire real bullets. He was arrested last month, but the news was only revealed on Thursday. It’s believed to be the first arrest made for possession of 3D-printed guns in Japan, a country with extremely strict gun laws. A law passed in 1958 forbids a person from possessing a “firearm or firearms or a sword or swords,” although it lists list several exceptions.

Imura defended himself, saying he didn’t know it was illegal to own a plastic gun.

“I produced the guns, but I didn’t think it was illegal,” Imura said, according to Japan Times. “I can’t complain about the arrest if the police regard them as real guns.”

This one guy was caught and arrested, and to this American reader, strangely sanguine or even passive about it. But the internet is undermining all kinds of laws, in all kinds of places, in all kinds of unexpected ways.
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Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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Kent State Students Allege Racial Profiling in Campus Shooting Lockdown Alert

Monday, April 7th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

Kent State University suspect descriptions debate   Video   wkyc.com

On Wednesday night Kent State University went on lockdown and students were told to “shelter-in-place” after a shooting on campus. The suspect, who allegedly fled the scene after accidentally shooting himself in the hand during an altercation, was at large for several hours while campus police and local law enforcement officials searched campus buildings to determine that there was no ongoing active shooter situation in progress. Quavaugntay Tyler, a 24-year-old freshman criminology and justice studies major, was later arrested at a local hospital after seeking treatment for the self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Now, some students and professors are alleging that the university and local media outlets engaged in racial profiling when they released a preliminary description of the shooter saying they were looking for a “a black man wearing black basketball shorts and carrying a silver handgun.” From Kent Wired:

In Traci Easley Williams’ Black Images course Thursday afternoon, Walker and other students expressed their views and stories about how Tyler was identified as simply a “black male.”

Easley Williams, a professor of Pan-African studies and journalism, asked her class by show of hands how many of them believed they should have released the description of Tyler as a “black man” even though it was vague.

Only one student — Caleb Ference, a senior electronic media production major — raised his hand. Ference, a white student, did not believe the suspect’s race should have been released because it was very broad, but he said a statement was necessary so that he could be recognized by the public.

“It was a very hectic situation, and I believe people should have known,” Ference said. “Not releasing the statement could have avoided this situation in some ways, but it would not have eased the tension that was going on.”

Easley Williams said she does not believe it is fair that minority students have to face situations like this and carry the backlash while keeping up with all other responsibilities in college.

Professor Williams told WKYC News that, “There’s a lot of hurt with the students of color here on campus. They feel that many of them were targeted.”

Trey Walker, a freshman broadcast journalism major said, “It wasn’t that someone had a gun and they shot on campus, it became ‘a black man on campus has a gun.’ and anybody on campus that fits the description of wearing basketball shorts, which is a very, very general … nothing talking about their t-shirt … not saying if it was white, black, yellow, blue … you have basketball shorts. Black basketball shorts. You’re a suspect.”

A spokesperson for Kent State told WKYC that police released the most detailed suspect information they could at the time and public safety was their number one priority.

WKYC released a statement explaining their use of the racial identifier:

WKYC did use the description of the Kent State university suspect last night online and on the air. With an active search for a potential gunman, we reported any detail that might lead to an arrest. We review each story that includes a racial identifier and make decisions on a case-by-case basis.

According to the university, 1,949 of the 22,000 undergraduate students enrolled at Kent State are African American and 59% are female. So the campus text alert immediately (and, apparently correctly), narrowed the search from 22,000 students to fewer than 800. When you eliminate students who were not on campus that evening (75% of Kent State students commute) and those not wearing basketball shorts, the number of suspects becomes exponentially smaller.

If you’re the parents of a college student — or a students on a campus with an active shooter on the loose — wouldn’t you want authorities to disclose as much information as possible to help students protect themselves?

A few African American students admitted they felt relieved when they heard the race of the suspect:

Jamal Deakings, a sophomore electronic media production major, said he admitted to initially feeling relief when he received the campus alert identifying the suspect of the shooting as a “black man.”

“When I found out he was a black man with a handgun, I was actually relieved because I believed it was less likely it was going to be a mass shooting,” Deakings said.

Freshman broadcast journalism major Valerie Williams said she was surprised to hear the suspect was black.

“I was completely shocked; I honestly did not expect him to be black,” Williams said. “Most major school shootings are done by Caucasian people, so I did not think the suspect would have been black.”

Welcome to the future of American journalism, where students are encouraged to think that racial sensitivities are more important than basic safety and apprehending a shooter. Meet the new boss — same as the old boss.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIHJ9RMAVGI

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6 Reasons Why The Good Wife Trumps House of Cards

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014 - by David Forsmark

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Here is your one and only warning: I am going to discuss some House of Cards plot points from season two. But don’t write and say I spoiled the show for you. The writers did that.

While the first season of House of Cards was hardly realistic, the plotting–especially the moves of its main character, Congressman Frank Underwood–was adroit and fascinating.

But in season two Frank Underwood has gone from being an amoral scheming man of unquenchable ambition to a monster with fewer human feelings than Tony Soprano—much fewer.  Unlike Breaking Bad, where we saw a man’s gradual slide from compromising with evil to embracing it, House of Cards lurched into full-blown sociopathy with jarring fashion.

So if you tuned back in to House of Cards this season looking for moments of sheer brilliance like Frank Underwood’s eulogy at the funeral of the girl who drove off the road while texting about the giant-peach water tower—with its mix of pathos, compassion and, yes, self-interest–you will be severely disappointed.

Instead, we are treated to an impenetrable plot about Chinese trade negotiations and illegal campaign finance, and the way Frank is going to use it to undermine the president since he is next in line. But nearly everything about this plot is not how it would, or could, happen in real life—and is weirdly confusing and obvious at the same time.

Worst of all, the House of Cards’ ideological slip is showing, with a complete nonsensical portrait of a “Tea Party” senator who votes “no” on the biggest entitlement reform since entitlements were invented because… well, just because he’s an idiot.

This is in sharp contrast to the CBS legal/political drama The Good Wife. Most of the campaign events and media kerfuffles make sense—as does the public’s reaction to them.  You can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys (or the smart guys from the stupid guys) by their ideology (although extreme leftists like a global warming obsessed federal judge are generally the kookiest characters).

But best of all, good people can do less than admirable things they shouldn’t in the heat of the moment, while antagonists are not always evil or stupid, they are just on the other side of the issue. Though sometimes they are evil or stupid.

Kind of like life outside the political bubble.

Oh yeah, and here’s how every Eliot Spitzer/Anthony Weiner/Mark Sanford press conference should end:

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Your Neighborhood Pool is More Dangerous Than a Loaded Gun

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

While researching information on accidental gun deaths for an upcoming article, I found something astonishing. A swimming pool is far more deadly than a loaded gun to a child. The latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control show that 114 kids died from an accidental gun discharge in the home in 2010, the latest year available, but in the same year 1025 children drowned. In 2009, 980 children died in swimming accidents. In 2008, the number was a staggering 1015. Almost ten times as many children die in drowning deaths each year than from an accidental gun discharge. This is unacceptable. The solution is clear.

We need swimming pool control.

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First: Children should not be taught how to swim. No child should be allowed near water deep enough for them to drown. Adults may swim in pools or in the ocean, but children must be strictly forbidden from participating in or learning about swimming. Backyard family pools should be banned. Beaches should be closed to children.

Second: Paintings, television shows, movies, and novels that show children enjoying pools or swimming in water must be censored and the offending images stripped out. Just as Steven Speilberg once edited guns out of his movie “ET,” swimming scenes involving children should be edited and censored. New books, movies and television shows should portray adults swimming, but never children.

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Third: We need to have background checks and a permit before an adult is allowed to enter a lesson program and achieve swim certification. Adults need to have their swim certificates with them if they intend to go swimming and they should go through re-certification every year. Eventually, adults might realize that swimming is dangerous and foolish and they’ll abandon it altogether.

Finally: Dare we hope the government will just ban swimming altogether? Let’s make our world a safer place for children. Join me in working for a total ban of this dangerous activity. Let’s ban swimming now.

After all, it’s for the children.

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Image courtesy of Shutterstock: schab

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The Blue Steel Right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Monday, February 17th, 2014 - by Michael Walsh

What God carries, any way He wants to

Every American should rejoice over last week’s stunning 2-1 Second Amendment decision in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which invalidated San Diego’s unconstitutionally restrictive infringements regarding the right to bear arms. The irony will be lost on no one, especially on the Left. Per the Los Angeles Times:

In a significant victory for gun owners, a divided federal appeals court Thursday struck down California rules that permit counties to restrict as they see fit the right to carry a concealed weapon in public.

The 2-1 ruling by a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel would overturn restrictions on carrying concealed handguns, primarily affecting California’s most populated regions, including Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and San Francisco.

The majority said the restrictions violate the 2nd Amendment’s guarantee of the right to bear arms because they deny law-abiding citizens the ability to carry weapons in public unless they show they need the protection for specific reasons.

“We are not holding that the Second Amendment requires the states to permit concealed carry,” Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, a Reagan appointee, wrote for the panel. “But the Second Amendment does require that the states permit some form of carry for self-defense outside the home.”

Whoa! What?

You can read the court’s decision here. And you should, because this one is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where (in a rare departure for the 9th Circuit) it is unlikely to be reversed. The final constitutional victory over the Suicide Cult of the Left may be at hand, and the explicit promise of the Declaration of Independence settled once and for all.

Quoting liberally from the Supreme Court’s landmark Heller and McDonald decisions, the circuit court essentially said that while the state may regulate the manner in which handguns may be carried for personal protection, it may not do so by making it practically impossible for law-abiding citizens to afford themselves the protections — both constitutional and physical — of the Second Amendment.

We are well aware that, in the judgment of many governments, the safest sort of firearm-carrying regime is one which restricts the privilege to law enforcement with only narrow exceptions. Nonetheless, “the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. . . . Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court [or ours] to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.” Id. at 636. Nor may we relegate the bearing of arms to a “second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees that we have held to be incorporated into the Due Process Clause.” (McDonald, 130 S. Ct. at 3044.)

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Toy Story ‘Gun’ Confiscated at Airport

Thursday, February 13th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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Amidst the vortex of impressions known as social media, some things fail to receive the attention they deserve. When I first saw the above picture of airport security confiscating a toy gun from a cowboy doll, I dismissed it as too absurd to be real. Turns out, as reported by National Review Online, it really happened:

Another gun-wielding toy has had its weapon seized by airport security. After a cowboy sock monkey Rooster Monkburn had his tiny harmless weapon seized last year, a Woody doll underwent similar probe at London’s Heathrow Airport.

Healthrow traveler John Hazen posted a picture of his son’s figurine to the social-media website Reddit on Tuesday showing a security official removing the doll’s gun. “At Heathrow, security just confiscated his ‘weapon,’ keep the world safe boys,”​ Hazen wrote on the site. The doll does not usually come armed with gun — it was an accessory the family added.

How could anyone be so stupid you ask? In a word, government.

Surely, people make dumb decisions in the market. However, the market quickly checks and balances dumb decisions by subjecting them to the individual judgment of competitors, consumers, and stakeholders – all free to associate or disassociate at will. Government, by contrast, deals in force. It mandates compliance instead of judgment. Ergo, when you tell a security officer to confiscate all guns, he’s going to confiscate ALL guns. Common sense be damned.

Let us imagine a world where government was constrained to its proper role of protecting individual rights. In such a world, functions like airport security would be private, as would airports, air traffic control, and the entire aviation sector. Competitors in that environment would remain incentivized to prevent terrorist attacks and other disasters which would adversely affect their business. It turns out having your customers die in your care does little for your brand.

Sensible security precautions would develop, tempered by the demands of consumers who would vote with their dollars on the best overall solution. No doubt, the security realized in a free market would require some assumption of risk on the part of consumers. But the flip side would be getting your kid’s cowboy doll on-board without triggering a federal case. Market judgment outperforms government edict in the development of best practices every time.

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5 Reasons the Left Is Hating on Lone Survivor—The Same 5 Reasons for Patriots to Love It

Sunday, January 12th, 2014 - by David Forsmark

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1. The Unabashed Heroism of the American Military—Even During a Screwup

Since the title gives it away, I don’t need to issue a SPOILER ALERT to say that Lone Survivor is about a mission gone wrong, in which only one SEAL makes it out alive.

Hollywood action movies tend to go one of two routes—the heroic cartoon, or the “realistic,” ironic, fatalistic film, where violence doesn’t solve anything and soldiers are forced to re-evaluate their former gung-ho attitude, and even the justness of their mission.

The second route is the way to the Oscars.

(Too many commentators put The Deer Hunter in that category, but I defy you to find one act by an American soldier in that film, or even by the officers or staff at the VA hospitals, which is less than valorous. Conservatives should embrace the movie, but that discussion is for another day.)

Lone Survivor is Black Hawk Down on a more personal level. After a botched mission to take out a terrorist commander, outnumbered American warriors face overwhelming odds of survival and kill an unbelievable number of enemies while trying to keep from being overrun.

Instead of a whole city coming after a couple of dozen soldiers, in Lone Survivor four Navy SEALs take on a whole al Qaeda militia, while stuck on the side of a mountain.

Steven Boone writes:

The film opens with a long montage of real-life Navy SEALs in training and ends with a slide show of SEALs and soldiers living full, happy lives off-duty, set to an emotional power ballad. What’s in between amounts to “The Passion of the Christ” for U.S. servicemen: a bloody historic episode recounted mainly in images of hardy young men being ripped apart, at screeching volume. Though Berg’s source material isn’t the New Testament, he often handles Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell’s account (via ghostwriter Patrick Robinson) of his doomed 2005 reconnaissance mission with the thunderous reverence Mel Gibson brought to Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.

That’s not even factually correct. The film ends with a montage of the characters in their real lives before the mission, while letting you know what they sacrificed to be there. Showing the photos of the real characters in a film is a common enough final-credits sequence, as can be seen in such movies as Gettysburg and Argo.

And enough with the The Passion of the Christ references already, as though it is some nadir of filmmaking to be trotted out whenever a liberal reviewer wants to mock a movie but can’t quite admit why it bothers him so much. But nearly every negative review of Lone Survivor brings up Gibson’s epic. (Hey, Bernie Goldberg, are you SURE these people don’t get together and determine the narrative?)

Boone goes on… and on:

“Lone Survivor” means well, but what it has to say about the costs of modern warfare is nothing new or especially illuminating. It’s cut from the same cloth that was once fashioned into the Pat Tillman legend and the Saving Private Lynch saga, honoring sacrifice in imagery that the American war machine can easily fashion into a recruitment commercial. “Lone Survivor” makes political interests superfluous to the religion of the warrior, which is all about enduring whatever hardship is thrown at you while protecting the brother at your side.

This is the cheapest of shots, associating the true story of Marcus Luttrell, which has held up and been vetted over the last seven years (George W. Bush awarded the Medal of Honor to mission leader Lt. Michael Murphy), with fog of war stories put out by the Defense Department before all the facts were in.

If Lone Survivor has a fault, it’s that it’s too authentic, with enough jargon and tactics talk to satisfy the military buff, and almost, but not quite, getting so caught in the details that an average viewer will drift off or get lost.

Admitedly, the account of the final rescue and the Pashtun villagers who act heroically is a bit synthesized (I actually thought the book’s account was even more dramatic), but that was probably for reasons of length.

For the most part, however, Lone Survivor deserves a place alongside Black Hawk Down and Zero Dark Thirty as a well-acted, superbly directed, and very well-done depiction of modern warfare and the Americans who get the job done.

In case you think I overstated the case of Boone’s agenda because we disagree about the merits of the film, check out this reply to a reader who took him to task for reading politics into a movie that avoids politics (unlike the book).

Ah, but politics *are* in every facet of life, including the movies. You might mean partisan politics, but filmmaking that glorifies the American war machine and its employees (let’s remember that, whatever their passions and sense of brotherhood, soldiers are paid to do a job) isn’t really a right or left proposition. It’s a weary Ho’wood tradition, carried into the new century with a jolt of Private Ryan/Black Hawk Down caffeine. A great many filmmakers at Berg’s level might be liberal on domestic issues but take a post-9/11 stance on such matters as the War on Terror: whatever it takes, whatever it costs to eliminate the threat….

So, yes. Not a movie for twits.

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Piers Morgan Tries and Fails to Enlist Rick Warren in His Anti-Gun Crusade

Thursday, December 5th, 2013 - by Paula Bolyard

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On Wednesday, Piers Morgan continued his anti-gun crusade, interviewing Neil Heslin, whose son Jess Lewis was tragically killed in the Newtown shooting, and also author and Pastor Rick Warren, whose son committed suicide in April after a long struggle with mental illness.

Warren was there, purportedly, to pitch his new book, The Daniel Plan, which focuses on weight loss and healthy eating. However, Morgan couldn’t resist trying to pull Warren, whose son killed himself last April with a gun he purchased on the internet, onto his ban-the-guns-bandwagon, asking him to react to the release of the 911 tapes from the Sandy Hook massacre.

Morgan asked, “We’ve seen so many incidents since then — the naval yard shooting and the Virginia senator, Creigh Deeds, and so on. A lot of incidents come back, it seems, to this lethal cocktail of mental illness and the ready availability of guns. No one seems to be tackling this. How do we get to grips with this?”

Warren, conceding that there are almost as many guns as people in the United states, said he couldn’t foresee a future where guns could be taken from law-abiding citizens. “First of all, the Constitution allows them to have it.” Warren then turned the conversation to the issue of mental illness, saying that we should focus on what we could do to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people. “I don’t care whether you’re conservative or you’re liberal or anywhere in between…everyone’s going to agree. Guns do not belong in the hand of mentally ill people,” Warren said.

Undeterred, Morgan tried a second time to enlist Warren in his anti-gun movement:

What does it say, though, that a great country like America, the greatest superpower of the world, that here we are a year after twenty elementary school children were literally blown to pieces in their classrooms, and the president stood there a few days later and literally said, “I will take action,” and here we are a year later and absolutely nothing has been done. Nothing. No background checks brought in. No ban on assault weapons. No ban on high capacity magazines.

“Nobody in Washington has done anything to try and prevent this happening again. What does that tell you about the state of the debate about all this?” Morgan demanded of Warren.

Warren again deflected and for a second time turned the discussion to the problem of mental illness.

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4 CNN Liberals Walk into a Bar… and Defend Gun Rights?

Monday, November 11th, 2013 - by Paula Bolyard

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One of the more interesting shows on television is Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown on CNN. Sunday was the season finale, where host Bourdain traveled to Detroit to explore the food and culture. After the episode — “The Last Bite” — Bourdain gathered with friends in a Las Vegas bar to discuss the season, which included a segment filmed in New Mexico that featured “gun culture.” CNN host Don Lemon joined Bourdain, along with Roy Choi (author of L.A. Son) and actor Wendell Pierce.

Bourdain, an avowed “New York lefty,” admitted that he likes guns and expressed his respect for American gun owners:

These people in the segment, as many people in red state America — in gun country America —  these are nice people. They like guns. As a matter of fact, I’ve gotta admit, I like guns. I like holding guns. I like shooting guns.

He explained more in a blog post about the New Mexico episode:

In New York, where I live, the appearance of a gun—anywhere—is a cause for immediate and extreme alarm. Yet, in much of America, I have come to find, it’s perfectly normal. I’ve walked many times into bars in Missouri, Nevada, Texas, where absolutely everyone is packing.  I’ve sat down many times to dinner in perfectly nice family homes where—at end of dinner—Mom swings open the gun locker and invites us all to step into the back yard and pot some beer cans. That may not be Piers Morgan’s idea of normal. It may not be yours. But that’s a facet of American life that’s unlikely to change.

Bourdain described author Roy Choi as a peace-loving leftist, recalling that his family had defended Koreatown during the ‘92 riots with semi-automatic guns and shotguns with no support from the city government or the police. He asked Choi if Americans should be able to get AR-15s easily.

Choi said, “I’m from Los Angeles, so the numbers and the semi-automatics are, for us, it’s more about protection, whether it’s the Korean community or down in the inner cities. It’s really about —  the guns are a part of the culture in Los Angeles, whether or not we want to agree with it or not and they — in the Korean community a lot of times they existed in stores. They existed as protection.” Choi said we should be talking about jobs and human rights instead of guns.

Lemon admitted that he had once owned an AR-15. “Listen, similar to you, I did own an AR-15. After covering [the Aurora shooting] I bought an AR-15 in Colorado because I wanted to go through the process of seeing how quickly — took me 20-30 minutes to get an AR-15 and I wasn’t even a resident of Colorado.” Lemon has since sold the gun but said he has “evolved” on his gun stance over the last year. “I don’t want to be a sitting duck. If other people have guns and they’re not going away, I’m wondering, should I be armed myself if everyone on the block is armed and I’m not?”

Bourdain said we shouldn’t compare the United States to Europe or Great Britain and said doing so didn’t help the discourse. “It doesn’t help. We’re not them.”

Lemon agreed, adding that comparing all gun owners to those who shoot up shopping malls isn’t helpful, either. “Those people who you were out shooting with — those were law-abiding citizens who were trained for guns and respect them. They’re not the people going into malls and shooting people. So there are two different ways to look at this. Yes, it’s mental health. But for the most part the people who have guns and who carry AR-15s, most of them are not shooting up people.”

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How to Build the World’s Manliest Paper Towel Holder…

Thursday, October 24th, 2013 - by Builder Bob

When I start a new project I often dive in head first and make a big mess in the process. Paint splatters, sawdust, motor oil, spilled glue, calf’s blood, dismembered limbs–you know the usual workshop messes. So after I’m done digging wells and building hospitals for the underprivileged in Africa, I need a bunch of paper towels to clean up the aftermath of my construction destruction.

Sure I could just buy a cheap plastic paper towel holder for my workshop and  be done with it, or I could build an everlasting testament of testosterone for my man cave. Using 3/4″ iron pipe and some rust preventative you can build a beefy bar for your towels that will one day be discovered by future archeologist, inspire them to power down their construction bots, rediscover their masculinity, build something awesome, and stop making babies in the lab and start making them the old fashion way, thus reintroducing genetic diversity to the world and saving the future of mankind.

So for the sake of humanity I need everyone to to build their own beacon of badassery, to ensure they are found for future generations.  Here’s how you do it.

Supplies Needed:

Supplies

Supplies

Instructions:

1. The first step is to secure the fender washers to the end cap and base so the paper towels don’t move around or slide off the bar.  I used a combination of E6000 automotive glue–which works great on metal–on the contact surface of the washer and cap. Then I wrapped a bead of JB weld epoxy putty around the outside. The last step is overkill for the amount of stress put on this project, but hey, if you’re building something to survive the apocalypse why not?  Make sure you clean any glue over run out of the pipe threads before it has a chance to set, otherwise you will have a hard time fitting the pieces together later. Clamp the parts overnight to let the glue and epoxy cure fully.

2. I advise coating the iron pipe with a protective finish to prevent rust. Either a clear acrylic finish or rust-inhibiting spray paint (black is the only acceptable manly color). Tape off the thread areas of the pipe before you spray or it could interfere with joining the pieces.

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Israel: Leper or Light Unto the Nations? Part 8: Jerusalem Dig Strikes Rare Gold

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013 - by P. David Hornik

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This year Israel received a wonderful New Year’s (Rosh Hashanah) gift from a team of archeologists led by Eilat Mazar.

She announced that, at the foot of the Temple Mount, the team had found a large gold medallion, “remarkably well kept and glittering,” with reliefs of a seven-branched menorah, a shofar, and a Torah—timeless fundaments of Judaism well familiar in Israel and much of the Jewish world today.

The medallion was in a fabric bag; along with it was another fabric bag containing 36 gold coins and other artifacts.

Mazar assessed that the medallion and coins were abandoned in 614 CE, the year of the Persian conquest of Jerusalem. She added:

The position of the items…indicates that one bundle was carefully hidden underground, while the second bundle was apparently abandoned in haste and scattered across the floor. …

 [T]he most likely explanation is that the findings were earmarked as a contribution toward the building of a new synagogue at a location that is near the Temple Mount. …

What is certain is that their mission, whatever it was, was unsuccessful, and its owners couldn’t return to collect it.

Mazar believes the medallion was an ornament for a Torah scroll, which would make it “the earliest such archeological find in history.” As for the coins, an Israeli expert said they “can be dated to the reigns of different Byzantine emperors, ranging from the middle of the 4th century CE to the early 7th century CE.”

Also this year Mazar’s team discovered the oldest known inscription in Jerusalem—from around 1000 BCE at the time of King David, a period of Jewish sovereignty in Israel. The medallion, however, comes from almost half a millennium after the loss of Jewish sovereignty and attests to the ongoing attachment to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.

An attachment that continued up to the astounding restoration of Israel in our era.

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Starbucks CEO to Customers: Leave Your Guns At Home

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013 - by Paula Bolyard

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Saying the open carry debate has become “increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening,”  Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman, president and chief executive officer, posted an open letter on the company’s website on Tuesday asking customers to leave their guns at home:

For these reasons, today we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas—even in states where “open carry” is permitted—unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.

Schultz cited the recent “Starbucks Appreciation Days,” events in which Second Amendment advocates brought their guns to Starbucks locations and made purchases to thank the coffee chain for respecting state gun laws. This led to counter-protests from anti-gun activists. Starbucks’ previous policy had been to comply with the open carry laws in the states they serve. “That means we abide by the laws that permit open carry in 43 U.S. states. Where these laws don’t exist, openly carrying weapons in our stores is not permitted.”

Schultz said it was “disingenuous” for groups to portray Starbucks as a champion of open carry. “To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores,” Schultz emphasized in the letter.

Schultz clarified that this was a request and not an outright ban. He hinted that a ban could put Starbucks employees in danger. “[E]nforcing a ban would potentially require our partners to confront armed customers, and that is not a role I am comfortable asking Starbucks partners to take on,” adding that “ the legislative and policy-making process is the proper arena for this debate, not our stores.”

Though Schultz’s letter focuses on “open carry,” his request that customers “no longer bring firearms into our stores” would seem to include “concealed carry” firearms as well.

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Shelter-in-Place: This Generation’s Duck-and-Cover

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013 - by Paula Bolyard

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ABC News reported,

On the third floor, employees gathering for a staff meeting chose to barricade themselves rather than flee into the hallway where they heard gunshots.

Capt. Mark Vandroff and his colleagues stacked chairs and desks in front of a door and got down on the floor. Two bullets care [sic] through the wall off the conference room, but high above their heads. The [sic] stayed in place for 30 minutes before police evacuated them.

“We were hunkered down, we were on the floor because we had heard the previous gunshot. We heard gunfire and we looked up and there were two bullet holes in the top of the wall of the conference room,” Vandroff said.

Rather than make noise by talking, his team texted each other from their smart phones.

By the time it was over, former Navy reservist Aaron Alexis had shot and killed twelve individuals at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.

Commander Tim Jirus told Fox News: “For those of us who knew there was an active shooter because they were much closer to where that was happening at, there is shelter-in-place. You lock your door inside your building until someone tells you it’s clear.”

According to the Washington City Paper, “[Metropolitan Police Department] Chief Cathy Lanier said after the first shots were reported this morning, MPD officers were on the scene within two to three minutes, at which point security within Navy Yard had already engaged the shooter. Within seven minutes, Lanier says, an ‘active shooter team’ was in the building and had ‘multiple engagements’ with the shooter, the last of which resulted in his death.”

Bryan Preston noted that the Navy Yard, like all military bases, is a “gun free zone” thanks to a Clinton-era policy. Preston wrote, “In 1993, President Bill Clinton decreed that US military personnel were to surrender the Second Amendment rights that they swear an oath to support and defend.” So the employees at the 3000-person building were sitting ducks, unable to defend themselves against an active shooter.

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Criminal Tries to Hold Up an Iraq Vet. That Turns Out to be a Mistake.

Thursday, September 5th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

The proverbial “the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” comes to life.

Jon Lewis Alexander is an Iraq veteran currently working in a liquor store in Marionville, MO. A robber asks for money as he attempts to pull a gun, but Alexander pushes the robber’s arm down and draws his own gun. The description below the YouTube video explains that Alexander told the robber to leave before he would “blow his (expletive deleted) head off.”

Am I alone in thinking/hoping that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans turn out to be a subgeneration of heroes for decades to come?

*****

Cross-posted from the PJ Tatler

image courtesy shutterstock / Naypong

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Death Wish: Mr. Bronson’s Planet

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013 - by Ed Driscoll

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Is it possible for a veteran actor to star in a motion picture that makes him a legend, assures his cinematic immortality, and ensures that while he’s still alive, he’ll always find work, and yet be completely miscast? Actually, it’s happened at least twice. In the late 1970s, Stanley Kubrick cast Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining. The film made Nicholson a legend, but in a way, he’s very badly miscast — Nicholson’s character seems pretty darn bonkers right from the start of the film, long before his encounters with the demons lurking within the bowels of the Overlook Hotel.

But arguably, a far worse case of miscasting is Charles Bronson in Michael Winner’s 1974 film Death Wish. When novelist Brian Garfield wrote the 1972 book that inspired the movie, he was hoping that if Hollywood ever adapted his novel to the big screen, a milquetoast actor such as Jack Lemmon would star. And Lemmon would actually have been perfect, since his character’s transformation from bleeding heart liberal white collar professional to crazed vigilante would have been all the more shocking. Instead, we all know it’s only a matter of time before Charles Bronson reveals his legendary tough guy persona on the screen. Back around 2000, I remember reading Garfield’s notes on his book’s Amazon page, which was something along the lines of, “Would you want to mess with Charles Bronson?”

Currently the cinematic adaptation of Death Wish is available for home viewing in standard definition on DVD, and in high definition, via Amazon’s Instant Video format. And while the latter version is in sharp 1080p HD, the film could use a restoration from Paramount before it’s issued onto a Blu-Ray disc. The Amazon version has its share of scratches and dust on its print, though it’s certainly cleaner than the Manhattan it depicts on screen. I watched the Amazon HD version the other night, and I was reminded that Bronson’s casting dispenses with the film’s credibility almost as explosively as Bronson himself dispatches assailants onscreen. There are eight million stories in the naked city, and apparently, in 1974, almost as many muggers stupid enough to go up against Charles Bronson.

But otherwise, the timing of the film was absolutely perfect. As Power Line’s Steve Hayward noted in The Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order: 1964-1980, film critic Richard Grenier dubbed Clint Eastwood’s 1971 film Dirty Harry, “the first popular film to talk back to liberalism,” a movie made during the period that then-Governor Ronald Reagan “liked to joke that a liberal’s idea of being tough on crime was to give longer suspended sentences,” Hayward added.

Which helped set the stage not just for Death Wish, but for the era of moral collapse in which it was filmed, and in which it too became a hit by talking back to liberalism.

Peter Biskind’s 1998 book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls documented Hollywood’s near-complete takeover by the left beginning in the late 1960s, but there were a few holdouts during that era: John Wayne was still making movies, Eastwood’s long career was beginning its ascendency, and British director Michael Winner was also a conservative himself.

But on the East Coast, in the early 1970s, New York had essentially collapsed. Saul Bellow was one of the first novelists to document the moral and increasingly physical carnage. As Myron Magnet of City Journal wrote in the spring of 2008, “Fear was a New Yorker’s constant companion in the 1970s and ’80s. … So to read Saul Bellow’s Mr. Sammler’s Planet when it came out in 1970 was like a jolt of electricity”:

The book was true, prophetically so. And now that we live in New York’s second golden age — the age of reborn neighborhoods in every borough, of safe streets bustling with tourists, of $40 million apartments, of filled-to-overflowing private schools and colleges, of urban glamour; the age when the New York Times runs stories that explain how once upon a time there was the age of the mugger and that ask, is New York losing its street smarts? — it’s important to recall that today’s peace and prosperity mustn’t be taken for granted. Hip young residents of the revived Lower East Side or Williamsburg need to know that it’s possible to kill a city, that the streets they walk daily were once no-go zones, that within living memory residents and companies were fleeing Gotham, that newsweeklies heralded the rotting of the Big Apple and movies like Taxi Driver and Midnight Cowboy plausibly depicted New York as a nightmare peopled by freaks. That’s why it’s worth looking back at Mr. Sammler to understand why that decline occurred: we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

That was the milieu in which Bronson’s Paul Kersey character resided at the start of Death Wish. Flying back to New York after a relaxing Hawaiian vacation with his wife (played by veteran actress Hope Lange), Kersey’s wife is murdered and his daughter raped by home invaders led by a young Jeff Goldblum at the start of his acting career. (Near the end of the film, a pre-Spinal Tap Christopher Guest plays a nervous rookie NYPD cop). On a business trip out to Tucson, both to take his mind off the horrors that had befallen his family, and to get a real estate development project back on track, Bronson’s Kersey discovers that it’s possible to defend yourself against crime.

The businessman that Kersey meets during the film’s Tucson scenes, played by character actor Stuart Margolin, is a staunch Second Amendment supporter who invites Kersey to a gun range, and asks him,“Paul, which war was yours?” That was a common question among middle-aged men during the latter half of the 20th century. Kersey admits he was a “C.O. in a M*A*S*H unit” in Korea.

“Oh, Commanding Officer, eh?” Margolin’s Good Ol’ Businessman approvingly asks.

“Conscientious Objector,” Bronson’s Kersey drolly replies as Margolin rolls his eyes in disgust.

Kersey explains that he became one as a teenager, after his father was shot and killed in a hunting accident, quickly fleshing out his character’s backstory. Evidently, Kersey’s own skills as a hunter haven’t degraded much over the years, since he then aims and fires the pistol that Margolin’s character had handed him, splitting the paper target at the gun range dead center.

And away we go.

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Will Justice Outlast the Trayvon Martin Hysteria?

Thursday, July 25th, 2013 - by Walter Hudson

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Outlast may be the scariest video game ever produced. IGN’s Marty Sliva passed along anecdotes last March:

Before my demo, the team at Red Barrels, which is comprised of ex-Ubisoft designers who worked on Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, told me about some of the crazy things they’d seen the brave attendees of PAX East do while playing their game. Some bolted out mid-demo, others stumbled out unhealthily pale, and one guy almost destroyed the entire booth in a fit of panic.

The game pares down the survival horror genre to a single visceral action. No other option exists in Outlast. If you see something intent upon harm, you have but one choice. Run!

The game takes place in a freakish asylum which you enter for reasons unknown. Once inside, a haunting atmosphere manifests. Lights start to flicker and die. Shadows begin to move. Voices dance at the edge of earshot. And the only way to reliably see what lies ahead is through a power-hungry night vision camera that’s always on the verge of dying. Needless to say, you soon discover that you’re neither alone nor at the top of the food chain.

I thought of Outlast after considering last week’s remarks by President Obama which he offered in response to the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial. Predictably, the president chose to amplify the narrative that the black community was somehow owed a conviction. The threat to liberty posed by our nation’s highest executive suggesting that a criminal case ought to be decided not on the facts, but to satisfy a subjective sense of racial justice, cannot be overstated. However, what specifically reminded me of Outlast was the president’s call to examine “stand your ground” statutes to determine whether they “may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case rather than diffuse potential altercations.”

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Why Hollywood Loves Guns

Friday, June 28th, 2013 - by Stephen Kruiser

 Newscom TagID: infphotos624797/Photo via Newscom

Sorry, Jim Carrey.

Almost a year after the theater shootings in Aurora, Colo., and a half-year after the killings in Newtown, Conn., one of the things that hasn’t changed is Hollywood’s enchantment with the gun, at least when it comes to selling the big movies.

As the blockbuster film season unfolds, every major studio has firearms of one sort or another in its marketing arsenal. At Sony Pictures Entertainment, Channing Tatum clutches a sidearm the size of Wyatt Earp’s as he walks Jamie Foxx to safety on the poster for “White House Down.”

At Paramount Pictures, Brad Pitt, zombie hunter, has an even bigger piece of personal artillery slung across his back in the promotional art for “World War Z.”

Johnny Depp packs a pistol in his pants on the poster for Disney’s “The Lone Ranger.” Melissa McCarthy grips what appears to be a full-blown grenade launcher in the advertisements for 20th Century Fox’s “The Heat.”

The glowing handguns on the art for Universal’s “R.I.P.D.” have a preternatural look; but what really gets your attention are those chillingly real guns being flashed by Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, standing back to back, on the poster for the same studio’s “2 Guns.”

Hollywood loves guns because Americans love guns. It’s that simple. The media elites and anti-gun progressives on Capitol Hill have been trying to spin a tale about people all over the land who are desperate for stricter gun laws which just isn’t true. They are actually more frightened of normal, law abiding gun owners using guns frequently and safely than they are the occasional mass murderer. Why?

Because they destroy the narrative and that is all-important.

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*****

Cross-posted from the PJ Tatler

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5 Books Dads Will Love for Father’s Day

Friday, June 14th, 2013 - by Paula Bolyard

There is still time to head over to Amazon to place an order in time for Father’s Day delivery! I’ve linked the images below to help you out.

La Place de la Concorde Suisse

by John McPhee

Swiss

“The Swiss Army has served as a model for less languid nations. The Israeli Army is a copy of the Swiss Army. … They are a civilian army, a trained and practiced militia, ever ready to mobilize. They serve for thirty years. All six hundred and fifty thousand are prepared to be present at mobilization points and battle stations in considerably less than forty-eight hours.”

This book, written at the end of the Cold War, gives a compelling view of the Swiss military system. The pastoral views in the Alps don’t reveal that beneath those mountains are bunkers stocked with munitions caches and that the winding roads all have bridges that can be blown to pieces at a moment’s notice to thwart an attack.

The book might provoke some intriguing thoughts and conversations about forced conscription, responsibility as citizens, what some like to call “military adventurism,” and the implications of heavily armed neutrality.

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