Got an assault rifle? How about homeowner’s insurance?

Newtown apparently LOVES guns.  Yep.  It’s a lovely bucolic setting with lots of 4000 sq ft McMansions set back in the trees.  It sounds a lot like Bernardsville, NJ.  Let me guess, there are probably a lot of corporate executive types out there.  Probably a lot of Libertarians and Republican members of the NRA too.  The New York Times reports that the sound of guns, rifles and assault weapons is a common thing in Newtown and all efforts to curtail it just to make it safe to walk in the woods, have met with stiff resistance.

It must be a great place to live where your neighbor is allowed to shoot his gun 20 feet from your house and you have no right to protect yourself.  Where are the homeowner’s insurance companies?

When I moved into this modest little townhouse, I couldn’t get homeowner’s insurance.  Was there a major safety problem?  Gas leak?  No, there was a crack in the pavement around the municipal access cover that was buried in the apron of my driveway.  Let me be clear, the crack wasn’t ON my driveway.  It was located on a piece of pavement that was owned by the municipality. It wasn’t a deep crack or a wide crack.  But because it was elevated by about half an inch and someone might trip on it in front of my house, my homeowner’s insurance company wouldn’t write a policy.  The crack had to be fixed first.  That proved to be a problem because it was owned by the township and I wasn’t allowed to touch it.  Eventually, the township did fix it but for a couple of weeks there, no policy for love or money.

Over a crack.

So, verily I say to the state of Connecticut, the solution to this problem seems pretty easy to me.  If you have more than one gun or an assault weapon in your home, no homeowner’s insurance.  Just try to get that 4000 square foot monstrosity with the nice granite countertops and the finished basement covered.  Go on.  The owners will have to stash their guns somewhere else away from the property.  That should keep them away from the young male hotheads in the family. A gun is much more lethal than a pavement defect.

Money changes everything.

****************************

Commenter John R. posted a link to a DailyMail article that says that Nancy Lanza was a survivalist in the Glenn Beck mode. In any case, Beck and his ilk have been predicting catastrophe for a couple of years now from the collision with Nibiru, a wayward planet/dwarf star thingy that doesn’t exist,  or some other catastrophic event.  Ex Jehovah’s Witness kids have been through this crap before and know a scam when they see one but the people who buy into this nonsense keep getting sucked in by every new scenario. I knew people who quit school and bunkered down leading up to 1975.  Many more quit their jobs to pioneer for the Watchtower full time. If you live with people who are into eschatological fantasies, the world can start to look a little nutz. It’s a bit like child abuse to be terrorized all day, all year for years on end by an eschatological parent. For all we know, Adam Lanza might have thought he was doing those kids a favor by killing them before the end of the world as they knew it.

Yes, it’s insane.  But what’s more insane is that we allow people like Glenn Beck to promote these doomsday scenarios without any accountability whatsoever.  It’s like shouting Fire in a theater.  Glenn Beck-why am I not surprised.  His shadow has been lurking behind so many violent events in the past couple of years.  But you want to know how to tell that Glenn Beck and his end-of-the-world fantasies aren’t serious?  How many times lately has he talked and fretted about the “Fiscal Cliff”?  People who expect to be fighting for their lives in the next week and have reserved space in long term survivalist residences don’t have time to be worried about losing their Bush Tax cuts.  If he is, that’s because come January 1, 2013, he expects to be sitting behind his microphone in a nice safe location spewing nonsense to the gullible and he’s probably got tickets to the Superbowl.

For all we know, there will be more violent incidences this week.  Some people don’t know when they’ve been taken for suckers.  They really take this seriously.

So much for the electronic door locks and intercom systems…

… that the nation’s schools have devoted so much money to procuring:

Gunman Forced His Way Into School

Is it time yet to talk about screening gun owners, their family members who live at home and their residences and perhaps the ramifications of sanctifying gun culture yet? How about having a nation full of parents living in constant fear and their kids having their childhoods snatched away?

Can we talk about the morality of terrifying our families, cashing in on that terror and then allowing the gun industry to escalate that fear and business opportunities with their lobbying efforts?  Does anyone but me see the potential conflict-of-interest here that comes at the expense of our peace of mind?

I mean, when would be a good time?  Pencil us in.

**********************************

Get well, Hillary.  Hillary Clinton suffers a concussion.

David Brooks’ world: Let all the worms that lurk in the mud hatch out

Ashley Moser, age 25

The shooting in Aurora, Colorado and its aftereffects, appear to be a culmination of all of the ways we Americans have let each other down in the past 30 years.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

Ashley Moser: If there was a poster child for everything that has gone wrong in America since Richard Nixon resigned, Ashley would have to be it.

Ashley is 25 years old.  Her father died recently from leukemia.  His illness wiped out the family’s financial resources.  He died penniless.  Ashley is a single mother, it’s unclear if she is divorced or ever married.  But the “little Depression” has been hard on families who struggle to make ends meet and are broken up by distance when one parent has to make a living in another location and can’t take the whole family.  It’s a common situation these days and marriage is no safeguard against it.  She was living with her parents but times got tough and when her father died, she had to move in with her aunt.

She’s a student.  She is also unemployed.  She had applied to and was accepted into a nursing program.  She was living on student loans.  LOANS, not grants.  She had a six year old daughter who she took to the movie with her.  Been there, done that, waiting with the kid for the latest book in the Harry Potter series at the local bookstore at 12am, surrounded by a store full of Hermione Grangers and Draco Malfoys.  Veronica Moser-Sullivan, aged 6, was the youngest victim.  She died at the scene.

Ashley was shot in the neck and the abdomen and is in critical condition.  Her doctors say she will suffer some paralysis but may have the use of her hands.  There’s a bullet in her head that hasn’t been removed yet. She is pregnant.

Because she is unemployed and uninsured, she is on medicaid. If she weren’t horribly injured at the moment and didn’t have the nation’s sympathy, it’s likely that she’d be shamed by these very same people who would be calling her a deadbeat leech on the American taxpayer.  She’d be treated with more dignity and respect in Norway but she had the misfortune to not be Norwegian during these last critical years of her life. That’s where single motherhood is no big deal, children are valued and she wouldn’t be struggling to live on student loans while she got her life together and was able to contribute to society, which should be the *only* definition of success, other than good parenthood, that gets admiration and respect.

It is unclear what her prospects, medical expenses or living arrangements will be once she is released from the hospital, if she is released. But whatever they are, it is likely that her future wages will be garnished to pay back her student loans.  Otherwise, it would be irresponsible to let this kind of moral hazard stand and wouldn’t be teaching Ashley a valuable lesson.

Her relatives had to tell her about her daughter on Saturday night.  She didn’t take it well and screamed that she wanted to die.

In all likelihood, if she *does* look like she is about to die, some Christian group will petition the state for guardianship of her unborn baby, intending to keep her on life support until the delivery.  Or, she may he on the brink of death without an abortion and they may interfere at that point.  Or, because she is on Medicaid, she will have to pay for a lifesaving and possibly much more expensive high risk abortion herself.  If it’s a “partial birth abortion”, there might not be any way to do it in the state of Colorado.  The scenarios that play out here sound like an updated version of Stephen King’s Misery crossed with Never Let Me Go.  Her family should have kept this information out of the media but it’s too late now.  The cat’s out of the bag and the evangelicals are no doubt already winding up for the prayer circle of all prayer circles, sending her messages about how her lifelong paralysis happened for a reason and god wanted Veronica for his newest angel but it’s a miracle that god has blessed her with a precious replacement!  As if children are swappable objects.  If it were up to me, I would leave life and death decisions up to Ashley and her doctors.  Maybe we should ask Michael Schiavo how that kind of thing works out.

The mass murderer, James Holmes, is apparently a very disturbed individual.  He’s not unlike many other disturbed mass murderers.  Friends and family notice that there is a personality change or he starts to behave strangely but there’s not a whole lot of things parents can do.  After all, the kid is an adult now.  The owner of a gun club says that Holmes left messages on his company’s voice mail and that his voice made him very uneasy.  He thanks god he didn’t have to deal with him, probably because guns are big business in America and it would have been hard to turn him away.

Not much is known about whether or not Holmes was treated for any psychological problems. It’s hard to know when science geeks have crossed the line mentally.  Many a time I have heard, “You know, so and so is acting really weird. He gives me the willies.  If anyone here were to go postal, it would be him.”  “Yeah, but he’s great in the lab! Fricking brilliant. His boss would be lost without him.” (True story about a gun “enthusiast” I used to work with many years ago.) His University probably has a counseling office but in America these days, it’s almost unheard of to commit people.  We usually just let them fall to their natural level, as David Brooks might say, and let them live on the streets. Holmes will probably get better mental health care now that he’s in prison or at the facility for the criminally insane.  For sure, he should never be free again, but will he be turned over to an institution run by a for profit company?

Graduate students are used to working conditions that are unusual.  I’ve heard it said that they have a lot of flexibility in their work.  They can work any 80 hours of the week they want.  It’s unclear if his work schedule contributed to his mental state but we should consider that Wall Street traders and analysts Holmes’ age work about 80 hours a week without a break for a couple of years and they nearly blew up the world, so, you know, there’s that.  His stipend, no matter how much the media makes of it, was probably less than minimum wage for the hours he would have been expected to work and was not enough to live on in the Denver area.  I’ve had a kid who worked in Denver as a chef for a couple of years.  They didn’t pay her enough.  She had to move.  She loves Denver.  Denver wages?  Ehhhhh, not so much.

Holmes ended up in Denver at graduate school because after earning a master’s in Neuroscience in 2010, he couldn’t find a job.  That’s not really all that unusual for scientists these days, including yours truly and everyone I’ve ever worked with.  A master’s is plenty sufficient for anything industrial research could throw at him but without experience, even young, cheap labor can’t find work.  Neither can older, experienced labor.  I find that a lot of employers want experienced labor, they just don’t want to pay for it.  So, Holmes had to go back to graduate school.  He probably would have been better off learning plumbing or joining the navy.  At least the military will help you pay your student loans.

This is not to say that I feel any kind of compassion for James Holmes the mass murderer.  But I do feel sorry for colleagues of James Holmes who are in a similar economic situation through the actions of a bunch of financiers on Wall Street who thought mergers and acquisitions of research companies in the last two decades was a sweet way to make loads of money and big bonuses.  Too bad it ruined research.

Holmes was able to order many rounds of ammunition online.  He also ordered an urban assault vest.  Unlike buying birth control, there is no conscience rule that would allow someone who is using common sense to stop a graduate student like James Holmes from buying combat equipment.  No one was allowed to say, “Where are you headed, buddy? Afghanistan?  Iraq?  Because I don’t think you need any of that stuff in Aurora.  Whatever you’re planning, I’m agin’ it.  No sale for you.”

Let’s think about that for a second.  It is harder for Ashley Moser to buy Plan B in the very same places where James Holmes could buy his own arsenal.  Enough weaponry to mow down a theater?  As long as you have a credit card, not a problem. No questions asked.   A couple of pills of early intervention to prevent a mistake?  Everyone you don’t know has an opinion and a hoop you must jump through.  Sure, the conscience rule executive order has been modified but whose going enforce it?  In a couple of years, Sasha and Malia will be able to buy their own Glocks but long after they’ve given up bubble gum, they will still have problems locating a pharmacist who will sell Plan B to them from behind the counter.

And because this is an election year and we must not piss off the young, white males in western states who might vote, Barack Obama sees no reason why he should develop any policies to address the issue of unfettered access to guns.  He also sees no need to promote an assault weapons ban that Bill Clinton put in place during his terms but went out of fashion during the Bush years.

I wonder if Ashley Moser knows this.  I hear Obama has been visiting the victims.  There’s an outpouring of support for Ashley right now, including a fundraiser.  But in a couple of months, America will forget about Ashley and she’ll have to navigate the social welfare system on her own.  For what it’s worth, I think a fundraiser should never be necessary for Ashley or others like her.  She, and all of the other Ashleys and Alexes, deserves a nation’s support, not charity or pity or insensitive moralizing.  She needed her country to be behind her in the last couple of years.  We’d better not fail her in the years to come.

So, there you go.

Worms everywhere.

Update: Katiebird says there is a second family that will be ruined by this shooting through no fault of their own.  Caleb Medley was shot in the eye and is in a medically induced coma.  His medical bills are expected to top $2 million, which is $2 million *less* than what David Brooks paid for his new house.  Caleb’s wife is on a separate floor of the hospital ready to give birth.

Of course, according to David Brooks, if the Medley’s end up broke, disabled and must remain deliberately impoverished in order to qualify for the bare modicum of subsistence medical care that Medicaid provides, at least we can console ourselves that the nation didn’t “commit sociology” to rescue any Americans who were collateral damage of a disturbed guy who just happened to use an easily available gun on their bodies.

If buying a gun in Texas were as easy as getting an abortion

Imagine the legislation…

The buyer would have to go to an approved gun dispensary.  The dimensions of the dispensary would be strictly regulated and the dispensary might end up in a seedy part of town in an unmarked building.  The gun dispensary owner would not be allowed to advertise. Because the regulations would be difficult to meet, there would be less than a handful of dispensaries legally licensed to sell firearms.  A person from Amarillo might have to drive to Galveston to get one.

The free speech rights of anti-gun protestors would be protected.  Prospective gun buyers would not be shielded from protestors petitioning or discouraging the buyer from purchasing a gun as long as the protestors do not approach within a certain number of feet from the buyer and refrain from touching the buyer.

It would be illegal for anyone to refer the buyer to a gun dispensary. However, it would not be illegal for an anti-gun organization to masquerade as a gun dispensary for the purposes of shaming the prospective buyer or talking him or her out of buying a gun.  No exceptions to this advice rule would be made for hunters or other people who may have a specific use for guns that does not include the potential for shooting people.

The gun dispensary owner would need to provide proof of education in the types and uses of firearms.  A degree from an accredited university would be the only proof accepted.  He or she would need to be licensed for each type of firearm.  An assault weapons ban might mean that the buyer would have to travel to one of the few places in the country that sells them to get one.

Prospective buyers would be required to undergo mandatory counseling on the use and effect of firearms.  The buyer would not be able to opt out of this counseling.  If the buyer still wants to buy a gun after the counseling, he or she would need to sign a form certifying that they are aware of the dangers of the use of firearms and that using them may cause lifelong emotional damage and sexual impotence to the user.

During the counseling session, the seller will show the buyer photographs of gun shot victims.  The victims will be shown with their heads blown off and their bellies eviscerated.  The emotional anguish of gunshot victims’ families will also be shown in visual and auditory form.  No compensatory images of poor hunters feeding their families will be permitted.  The audio and video portion of the presentation must be intrusive enough to be unavoidable to the prospective buyer.

After the presentation, the gun seller will read the consent form to the buyer again and ask the buyer to affirm that they are aware of all of the dangers associated with the purchase of a gun.  The seller will also be required to discuss alternatives to firearms, such as compound bows, boomerangs, snares and vegetarianism.  There will be an emphasis on vegetarianism to ensure that the teachings of certain religions are promoted with the acquiescence of the state.  Adherence to Hindu or other plant based religions would not be necessary for the buyer, only recognition and understanding of the deep ethical philosophy behind religious vegetarianism.

No exceptions would be made to save the health or life of the buyer.  Medical reasons for hunting, such as a prescribed Caveman Diet to prevent intestinal inflammation of a debilitating nature due to celiac disease, or the existence of a restraining order from a abusive spouse, would not be acceptable excuses for failing to attend the mandatory counseling session or meeting all of the other requirements before obtaining the gun.

There will be a mandatory 72 hour waiting period to give the buyer an opportunity to change his or her mind.

It would be illegal for the counseling to take place over the phone or the internet.

After the waiting period is complete, the buyer would be required to return to the gun dispensary for the mandatory rectal examination of the prostate with an ultrasound device.  The purpose of this examination is to determine the state of the prostate prior to gun purchase and to assure that the buyer understands the risk to his sexual health.  A similar examination will be made of a woman’s rectum for no good reason but if she is engaged in buying a gun, she has already given her consent to an anal probe.

After this examination, the gun buyer would be allowed to purchase the gun and go on his or her merry way, provided walking is still possible.

The above regulations would not be considered intrusive or burdensome to your 2nd amendment right to bear arms.

High Noon for Goldman Sachs

A couple of days ago, Alice Schroeder wrote a piece at Bloomberg about a friend of a friend who works at Goldman Sachs. Apparently the bankers are getting a little nervous about blowback from the working class.

“I just wrote my first reference for a gun permit,” said a friend, who told me of swearing to the good character of a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker who applied to the local police for a permit to buy a pistol. The banker had told this friend of mine that senior Goldman people have loaded up on firearms and are now equipped to defend themselves if there is a populist uprising against the bank.

Schroeder was also able to get confirmation from the NYPD that a number of bankers have been getting gun permits. Wow, I’m glad to know the Goldman Sachs guys are running scared. Schroeder notes that Goldman’s CEO, Lloyd Blankenfein (whom she nicknames “Cool Hand Lloyd”), has been nervous for quite a long time. Get this–he installed a security gate at his house a couple of months before Bear Stearns went down. How very prescient of him. Schroeder writes:

…talk of Goldman and guns plays right into the way Wall-Streeters like to think of themselves. Even those who were bailed out believe they are tough, macho Clint Eastwoods of the financial frontier, protecting the fistful of dollars in one hand with the Glock in the other. The last thing they want is to be so reasonably paid that the peasants have no interest in lynching them.

Hmm…I like the movie references. So the bankers are resorting to guns so they can make A Few Dollars More before the proles can Hang ‘em High?

According to Peter Cohan of Daily Finance, what is making the bankers so anxious is that they will soon be getting their outlandish end-of-the-year bonuses, while the rest of us struggle to make ends meet and have no idea how we’re going to buy any Christmas gifts. Cohan writes:

Once news of the final tally on Goldman’s bonuses breaks, the bank is going to face an even tougher public relations campaign. Goldman’s partners are expected to receive record bonuses this year. Some bankers fear a repeat of what happened in March to the AIG Financial Products employees who received $165 million in bonuses. Once word got out about the bonuses, demonstrators went to the employees’ homes and protested on their front yards.

What Goldman execs need to remember is that the firm wouldn’t be doing so well if it weren’t for the public’s munificence. After all, $12.9 billion of the AIG bailout money went to Goldman. And it is still enjoying $52 billion in low-interest loans from the U.S. government to finance its trading profits.

Cohan even argues that Goldman should be offering reparations to people who have lost their homes and jobs. Somehow I don’t think that is going to happen, but I’m glad to learn that these thugs in three-piece suits are feeling a little bit edgy.

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Thursday: And now, a little something about race

Good Lord, the sweeties have been out in force the last couple of days, catapulting the propaganda. And just like any potentially successful organism, the sweetie has adapted to its environment. They tried playing the feminine guilt card on us until we made it clear that we were not the mommy half of the party and were not going to rescue young women from their careless mistakes as long as they still had an opportunity to make a rational choice. So, now they’re turning to race.

One particularly annoying theme from yesterday’s sweetie attack was that Kentuckians pretty much admitted that they were racists in exit polls. “They admitted it! Yes, it’s true. One in five Kentuckians said they were basing their voting decision on race and isn’t it obvious that Obama couldn’t win there and why should we as a party spend so much time and money on a bunch of ignorant people who will not be enlightened? Jeez, don’t you fricking Conflucians get it? Are you still willing to sell out the party for race?”

Damn, those numbers keep getting in the way. If 20% of Kentuckians won’t vote based on race, that must mean that 80% were more than willing to overlook race to vote for the candidate who appeals to them in some other way. THAT means that if Barack Obama had spent some time actually talking to some of the working class voters in Kentucky about what is important to them, he might not have lost the state by a humiliating 35%. So, what are we to conclude from this? If it is true that 20% of Kentuckians are racists, Obama wasted a perfectly good chance to score with a vast majority of DEMOCRATS in Kentucky and this is a conscious decision he is making that has nothing to do with race.

Now, it turns out that Conflucians do not share the characteristics of the typical Clintonista. That is because the stereotypical Clintonista, that stupid, uneducated, working class woman Clinton supporter is a myth. We actually can think our way out of a paper bag. And if you sweeties can’t think more logically than this you are really not going to be very persuasive in getting us to change our minds. We really aren’t interested in voter assisted suicide of the Democratic party because the party leadership and superdelegates are just bound and determined to use Obama’s candidacy as a teachable moment on race.

Race, after all, is an artificial social construct. (For those of you interested in the relationship of evolutionary change and “race”, I highly recommend Jared Diamond’s book, Guns, Germs and Steel. ) It has no meaning in the biological sense. It is merely the regional phenotypic expressions as a result of the organism adapting to its environment. Personally, I’d like for all of us to get over it. But it’s not going to happen this year because instead of Obama raising our consciousness about race, he used race as a weapon against his very own constituents. Gene Lyons had a recent column about how angry and alienated Democrats are about how our party has disintegrated. Those of us who will not vote for him or are seriously considering making a statement, have two major reasons for it: 1.)In comparison to Hillary Clinton, he is embarrassingly unready and 2.) he has used race to divide his own party in the most pernicious way possible. There are other reasons relating to gender as well and I have a message to Gary Hart and Bill Richardson. We are NOT irrational females who have no reason to be mad and it is unlikely that we will come around in the fall. When you are in a hole, stop digging.

So, dear sweeties, go back to the drawing board and see if you can find another reason why we should vote for Obama in the fall. But before you come back here, you might want to get rid of your own prejudices about us.

In the meantime, here is a blast from the past that I think speaks eloquently about what makes Clintonistas tick. We are in solidarity with the common people:

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