Christmas has passed. The rubble has been cleaned up, and the leftovers have been eaten. There is much I will miss about Christmas – the decorations, the family gathering, great food, watching small children anticipate Santa’s arrival, and the general good spirit exhibited by most folks.
There are, however, a few things I will not miss:
1. Commercial jingles sung to the tune of Christmas songs. I sometimes think that the “creative” people at ad agencies often aren’t very. Jingles sung to this song, more than any others, make me want to slam my head against a hard surface.
2. Local Car Dealership Commercials where the Owner of the Dealership wears a Santa hat and SHOUTS about the great Christmas deals he has to offer, even if you have no money and lousy credit. The end of the commercials often feature all the employees of the dealership standing in a mob (wearing Santa hats) and saying “Happy Holidays” in sort-of unison. Yeah, that’ll make me want to drop everything, run out and buy a new car.
3. Any parody of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas, except for this one. (The Wiseass Jooette reminded me of this great oldie.)
4. The Catalog Tsunami. I normally receive way more catalogs than I want, but between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I probably receive twenty pounds of them. Dear Harry and David – Nice stuff, but no thanks – a thousand times, no thanks.
5. Photographs of dogs with fake antlers stuck on their heads. Not funny; not particularly cute, and I’ll bet the dogs hate it too.
Once again, it seems that current events have resulted in my lack of attention to the blog. Information and shouting overload. Not surprisingly, it began with the horrible murders in Sandy Hook School, which were mentally and emotionally paralyzing. But those events only marked the beginning of the real crazy stuff.
A few hours after learning about the murders in Connecticut, I found myself wondering how long it would take for the anti-gun crowd to form up and blame guns and not the bad guys who do the killing. It didn’t take long – only an hour or two after the shootings, the screeching commenced for the government to do something!
The “something” almost always takes the form of demanding stricter gun control laws (although, Andrew Cuomo doesn’t rule out “confiscation”). It matters not that bad guys don’t obey gun control laws and that additional laws will do nothing to prevent another villain or nutcase from wreaking havoc with a firearm. By contrast, stricter gun control laws will serve to punish the millions of law-abiding gun owners who have done nothing wrong and will also result in more “gun-free” zones, which are the perfect killing fields for the armed homicidal maniac.
The latest noise centers on “assault weapons” (often mischaracterized as being “automatic” weapons), which are actually semi-automatic rifles (one bullet per trigger pull) that are dressed to look like scary military weapons. There are shouts of “Who needs an assault rifle?” Truth is, I don’t think I need one, but I get very antsy when the government decides what kind of firearms Americans need. After all, who really needs a motorcycle? A fast car? See: Daniel Greenfield, “It’s About Time We had a Serious Discussion About Assault Vehicles.”
Whatever causes a person to enter a school and kill children and teachers is a societal problem, deserving of more rational thought than that evidenced by the deep-thinking Nancy Pelosi when she was blabbing about banning “assault magazines.”
I don’t presume to have the answers to the bedeviling questions surrounding the tragedy that unfolded in Connecticut, but can we all agree that things might have turned out differently if there had been someone armed in that school in a position to put that homicidal animal down? I’m quite sure that the parents of the murdered children wish it would have been so.
Our very cool Jooish pal, The Jersey Nut, is again posting “Hanukkah Hotties.” As you may have guessed, it is a celebration of beautiful Jooish women, one for each night of the Festival of Lights. You may be late to the game, so I’ll help you catch up:
William Binney, a former mathematician and code breaker for the National Security Agency, stated in an in interview that the federal government is currently collecting and storing virtually everyone’s e-mails (yes, everyone’s, including, yours, mine, his, and those of members of Congress). The data are apparently being “parked” in raw form in various facilities for retrieval by the government when it chooses to do so (presumably, after a proper showing of probable cause). The amount of data that can be stored and retrieved is staggering, so much so that the government is spending $2 billion to build another facility to store it all.
I was aware that the NSA had the means to use sophisticated algorithms to sift through e-mails between the United States and foreign countries to search for key words in order to track down potential terrorist activity, discarding the e-mails not containing such key words. While this practice is, in itself, legally dicey, the stated goal of preventing a horrible attack on the U.S. justifies the risk it poses to individual privacy. That being said, collecting and storing every American citizen’s emails for future retrieval if and when the government feels that such retrieval is warranted, is a potential bludgeon to our First and Fourth Amendment Rights under the U.S. Constitution.
Presumably, the government would argue that as long as the collected information is not accessed without probable cause and a warrant is obtained, no harm, no foul. While that may be true in terms of accessing the stored information, the issue of the constitutionality of its collection and storage turns on whether one has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of an e-mail, a fact-sensitive question more simple to ask than to answer.
The only protections Americans have against an over intrusive government, or, at worst, a truly malevolent government, are the Constitution’s dictates of a separation of powers, the Constitution’s Bill of Rights and the courts. What is most frightening is that the current regime cares little about the separation of powers and regularly bypasses congress via executive orders. As for the Constitution – hey, it’s “living and breathing” – it can mean whatever the polls say it ought to mean.
This issue is something that should concern every American, political affiliation aside. Elections, after all, do have consequences, and executive power does change hands.