Key Points   Leave a comment

It appears the FBI relied on a dossier produced by an anti-Trump British spy, using Kremlin contacts to persuade a FISA court to issue a warrant to spy on Trump aide Carter Page. Christopher Steele produced this document while being paid to dig up dirt on Donald Trump by Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The FBI put Steele on its own payroll, until they caught him lying about leaking to the media.

Image result for image of rod rosensteinOkay, so people make mistakes.

In their requests for search warrants, the FBI never told the FISA court judge their primary source was a 35-page dossier delivered by Steele that their own Director James Comey described as “salacious and unverified.” Comey, who made the call to exonerate Hillary of criminal charges for imperiling national security secrets, even before his own FBI investigation was concluded.

Assisting Comey was Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, whose wife, running for a Virginia state senate seat, received a windfall of $467,000 in contributions from Clinton bundler Terry McAuliffe. McCabe was discharged from the FBI several days ago. Seems that in late September 2016, the New York field office informed him it was sitting on a trove of emails between Anthony Weiner and his wife, Clinton aide Huma Abedin, which potentially contained security secrets. It’s unclear when McCabe told his boss Comey this information, but Comey didn’t tell Congress for a month.

Other FBI plotters were Peter Strzok, chief investigator in both the Clinton email server scandal and Russiagate, and his FBI girlfriend, Lisa Page. Both were ousted from the Mueller investigation when their anti-Trump bias and behavior were exposed last summer.

Then there was Bruce Ohr, associate deputy attorney general under Loretta Lynch. Ohr’s wife was working for Fusion GPS, the opposition research arm of the Clinton campaign in 2016, and Bruce was in direct contact with Steele.

Virtually all of this went down before Robert Mueller was named Special Counsel, but the legal principle “fruit of a poisonous tree” may just cast a cloud of suspicion over whatever charges Mueller will bring.

If Mueller has given up trying to prove Trump collusion with the Kremlin and moved on to obstruction of justice charges, Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein moves into the crosshairs.

Any obstruction scenario must center on Trump’s firing of James Comey and his boasting about why he did it, but not only did Rosenstein discuss firing Comey with Trump, he went back to Justice to produce the document to justify what the president had decided to do.

So, where does that leave us? If this were an ordinary situation, I’d say the Obama administration would be in trouble, but we all know that reality never seems to play a role in Washington DC investigations.

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Posted February 19, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Ruling class

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Spark That Lights the Fire   4 comments

Feb. 19, 2018 – Tell us a story about a time when a piece of inspiration hit you. We’ve all had them.

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I get inspiration from a lot of different places. My apocalyptic series Transformation Project comes from news media interacting with my college studies of political science and all the lovely conspiracy theories available out there.

The Willow Branch (The Daermad Cycle Book 1) by [Markham, Lela]But I can’t point to just one point of inspiration. It’s more like a lot of bits of information that finally got together to propel me toward a story.

Now, Daermad Cycle started with an inspirational moment. It was close to 25 years ago. Our daughter was a baby. It was a hot summer day and a rainstorm rolled in. My husband and I were sitting in our one-room cabin, watching the kid try to catch her toes and listening to the raindrops pattering on the roof. Brad turned on one of Enya’s albums.

I remember the dog and the baby were snoring in unison and the music and the rain took my imagination to a new world. It was a rainy green meadow that stretched from high mountains to distant forests. A man was riding a sorrel mare along a trail between tilled fields and intermittent copses of trees. I could see water around the foots of bushes and trees and see young shoots pushing their way into the spring air. And, then, ahead, was a stone wall and a rough gate in it.

And that was my image of Celdrya and the character of Padraig who forms the central ensemble of Daermad Cycle. The scene appeared in The Willow Branch. I wanted to get to know that character and actually, the first several scenes for the book wrote extremely easily. Of course, things have changed as I worked on the early drafts, but that scene had to make it into the published book because … well, it is the spark that lit the fire.

Darkness & Light Are Incompatible   Leave a comment

Paul had just finished pleading for the affection of the Corinthian believers. Now he issued a command

Do not become partners with those who do not believe. (2 Corinthians 6:14)

A lot of people concentrate on the first part “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers” (quoting from the KJV), but you miss a lot of what is said when you do that. For example, the Greek nuance here is very strong “STOP yoking yourselves to unbelievers.” The use of the present imperative shows that Paul wasn’t merely warning the Corinthians of some hypothetical potential danger, but instructing them to stop an action already in progress.

Image result for image of not being unequally yokedSome scholars feel this section is out of place, that maybe it came from another section and was just inserted here by a later scribe because nobody knew where it belonged. Paul was lobbying strenuously for the Corinthians’ affect and then he resumes his lobbying efforts in 7:2. So what’s with the segue?

The misplaced fragment theory is an easy solution to a complex problem that creates more complex problems. It’s easy to shift the “blame” to someone other than Paul, but it doesn’t really address the question. Why did Paul suddenly insert this phrase into the middle of another narrative. Some scholars think he may have been quoting a familiar sermons, a piece of traditional writing or even an Essene text that had been reworked to reflect a Christian point of view. I think that’s extrapolating an awful lot.

I’m going to suggest that the most obvious answer is the most obvious answer. Paul was perhaps responding to news just received from Titus about a continuing problem with pagan associations. Another possibility is that, having asked the Corinthians to “open wide” Paul was now cautioning them about what not to be open to. 1 Corinthians 10:1-22 shows they were clearly in need of such guidance. Perhaps Paul was engaging in a little structural diplomacy. Modern writers call it “gem setting.” By starting and ending with statements of affection, he attempted to cushion the force of his command. The likeliest explanation is that Paul was specifying the cause for the Corinthians’ constraint toward him: their ongoing partnerships with unbelievers. And, ultimately there need not be just one explanation. A number of things could have led Paul to tackle the problem at this point and in this fashion.

We need to remember that he didn’t have a word processor and paper and ink were precious in his day and time. Perhaps he would have rearranged the letter to put points together had he had the modern conveniences that we do today, but he didn’t. And so, there’s a segue in this section, but ultimately, it fits with Paul’s overall message.

What exactly was Paul prohibiting with his command? The range among translations shows that there is no easy answer to this question.

  • Do not try to work together as equals with unbelievers. (TEV)
  • Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. (NRSV)
  • Do not unite yourselves with unbelievers. (NEB)
  • Do not become partners with those who do not believe (NET)

I think we first have to decide who is “the unbeliever” and what does it mean to be “yoked together”. Fourteen out of sixteen Pauline uses of the term “unbeliever” (apistos) occur in 1st and 2nd Corinthians. The majority appear in 1 Corinthians 7 and distinguish those who have made a commitment to Christ from those who have not (7:12, 13, 14, 15). The only other occurrence in 2 Corinthians is used of those whose minds have been blinded by Satan to the light of the gospel (4:4). Here, in 2 Corinthians 6:14, it refers to those with whom there is a conflict of interest stemming from incompatible loyalties.

Paul certainly doesn’t mean to exclude all contact with unbelievers. He wront in 1 Corinthians 5:9-10, that the church couldn’t avoid immoral people because that would necessitate removing themselves from the world entirely. So, the command here is concerning a particular kind of contact with unbelievers. Paul’s quotation of Isaiah 52:11, where Israel is commanded to come out from them and be separate suggests contact of a compromising nature (v. 17). But what would constitute a compromising liaison? Would working with an unbeliever be forbidden?

Marriage between a believer and unbeliever would certainly be a legitimate application of the command, which accounts for it being the most common connection made in sermons, but is it the only one? It may not even be the primary application, since the focus throughout is on the church, not the individual believer. This is especially clear from the Old Testament passages Paul invoked to support his prohibition. In each case they deal with God’s covenantal relationship with Israel, which Paul reapplied to the church as the temple of the living God (vv. 16-18).

Image result for image of not being unequally yokedHere in my hometown, the local Food Bank is largely funded by a consortium of churches, but it also receives wide support from civil organizations and individuals. Would this command prohibit such collaborations?

The command is literally Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. The verb heterozygew is an agricultural term that refers to the practice of yoking two unequal kinds of animals (such as an ox and a donkey) to a plow. This would suggest that unequal associations between Christians and non-Christians are what Paul specifically had in mind. Paul was clearly thinking of associations that involve a partnership rather than a casual or occasional working relationship.

The specific kinds of partnerships are left unnamed. This may be because Paul dealt with specific instances in 1 Corinthians, so that the Corinthians understood what kinds of partnerships he meant.

  • He had reprimanded them for allowing their legal disputes with one another to be arbitrated by the secular courts (“in front of unbelievers,” 6:1-6).
  • He had admonished them for participating with pagans in their cultic meals (10:6-22).
  • He had rebuked them for approving of sexual unions with prostitutes (6:12-20) and for taking pride in the sexual liaison between a Christian and his stepmother (5:1-13).

Paul was concerned with the unequal partnerships believers form with secular society( unbelievers). Does this mean that it is not legitimate for the church to be active in society and its structures? Paul addressed this question by means of a series of five rhetorical questions that highlight recognized spheres of incompatibility between Christianity and the secular world. Each is introduced with the relative pronoun tis(what), each considers the partnership of acknowledged opposites (such as light and dark), and each expects the answer “No way.”

For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness, or what  fellowship does light have with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14b)

Image result for image of no fellowship between light and darknessThe believer and the unbeliever are driven by a different set of values, the one characterized by righteousness (dikaiosyne), the other by lawlessness (anomia). There are no shared values because the one follows God’s will and the other does not. So there can be no real partnership between them.

Light and darkness are common imagery to describe the way of the righteous and the wicked, found throughout the wisdom literature of the Old Testament (for example, “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble,” Proverbs 4:18-19). In Paul’s writings, light is Christ-centered. Darkness was over the whole universe until God created light. Darkness resided in the hearts and minds of humankind God shone the light of the glorious gospel about Christ in our hearts (4:4, 6). This light makes ethical demands on its recipients in the form of fruit that is “good and right and true” (Ephesians 5:9).

And what agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:15)

The second set of questions considered the partnership of personal opposites. It is widely thought that Belial (Greek Beliar) comes from the Hebrew term beliyya`al, meaning “worthless, good-for-nothing”. Belial as a name for the devil is found only here in the New Testament. Paul usually referred to the Christian’s archenemy as “Satan” (Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 7:5; 2 Cor 2:11; 11:14; 12:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 2 Thess 2:9; 1 Timothy 1:20; 5:15). In the Old Testament beliyya`al also designates the realm of the powers of chaos and so comes to mean destruction, wickedness and ruin (as in Deuteronomy 13:13[14]; Judges 19:22; 20:13; 1 Samuel 1:16; Psalms 18:4[5]; 41:8[9]; 101:3; Proverbs 16:27; 19:28; Nahum 1:11[2:1]. In the Qumran Scrolls beliyya`al is the name of the highest angel of darkness and the enemy of the prince of light, while in other Jewish materials Belial is the absolute enemy of God and chief of demons (Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs; Jubilees 1:20; The Lives of the Prophets 4:6, 20; 17:2; Sibylline Oracles 2.167; 3.64-74; Ascension of Isaiah 3-4). It is because the unbeliever’s mind has been blinded by the devil to the truths of the gospel (4:4) that the believer and unbeliever hold nothing in common.

And what mutual agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living Godjust as God said, “I will live in them and will walk among them, and I will be their God, andthey will be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16)

Paul’s final rhetorical question considered the partnership of religious opposites, which goes to the heart of the problem at Corinth. Turning from idols to serve the living God was a regular part of the message Paul preached to Gentiles (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; compare Acts 17:22-31). Corinth was home to many renowned temples — the temple of Aphrodite (the goddess of love, fertility and beauty) situated on the Acrocorinth, an 1,886-foot-high fortified mountain, and the sanctuary of Asclepius (god of healing). The pagan temples, which were under the patronage of a particular god or goddess, were a focal point of social activity. Invitations along the lines of “So and so invites you to dine at the temple of Serapis” were a regular social possibility for those living in a city like Corinth.

To a Christian, an idol is nothing in the world because there is no God but one (1 Corinthians 8:4). On the other hand, to continue to be involved in the pagan cults would suggest that an idol has value. Participation in cultic meals and temple worship would seriously call into question one’s loyalty to God. While the meat that has been sacrificed to an idol is itself indifferent, participation in the cultic meal is not. Such participation not only gives credibility to the idol but also forges a union with the patron god or goddess. Christian involvement leads others to think that there must be something to this after all. Moreover, while the idol itself may be nothing, there is a power behind the idol that is not to be overlooked. This is why Paul equated participation in cultic meals with becoming partners with demons (1 Corinthians 10:14-22).

Therefore “come out from their midst, and be separate,” says the Lord, “and touch no unclean thing, 26  and I will welcome youand I will be a father to youand you will be my sons and daughters,” says the All-Powerful Lord. (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)

It’s becoming increasingly common for Christian ministers, once great supporters of public schools, to now advocate for home schooling and private schools because they have come to recognize that public school curricular materials are increasingly in direct opposition to Christian values, calling into question whether Christians should be involved with the system.

Paul described the church (and the individual Christian) as the temple of the living God, or, better, the “sanctuary” (naos)–the most sacred part of the temple structure (v. 16). Paul’s choice of words is significant. The temple of the living God does not refer to a building. From the days of Solomon to the time of Christ, the temple was a physical structure where God made His presence known to Israel, but with Christ’s coming, God’s temple became the people gathered in Christ’s name. The first-person pronoun is placed at the head of the clause for emphasis–We are the temple of the living God (v. 16). I think most Christians today don’t sufficiently grasp this theological point. The evidence for that is that we talk about “going to church,” “the church building” and “entering the house of God”, which leads insider and outsider alike to think of the church as a physical structure rather than the people who gather there.

To be the temple of the living God is to belong exclusively to God and to forsake all associations that would be incompatible with God’s ownership. To drive home this point, Paul cited six Old Testament passages that spell out what it means to be God’s possession. In each case a text that deals with God’s covenantal relationship with Israel was reapplied to the church (vv. 16-18). Phrases from each passage are woven together in an almost unprecedented way, recalling the testimonial collections of the early church.

I will live with them most likely comes from Leviticus 26:11 (“I will put my dwelling place among you”), but Ezekiel 37:27 is also a possibility (“my dwelling place will be with them”). The verb translated live with (enoikeo) means to “inhabit” or “be at home.” The notion is active rather than passive. To be at home is to exercise one’s rights as the proprietor of the house. So for God to inhabit his church is for him to establish his rule there. Walk among them is taken from Leviticus 26:12, with the minor modification of changing the pronoun from second to third person. To walk among is actually to “walk in and around”. God does not merely exercise His rights as proprietor but moves with familiarity from one room to the next.

I will be their God and they will be my people is a recurring promise of Yahweh to Israel in the Old Testament. The first occurrence is in Leviticus 26:12, the most probable source of Paul’s quote–although it also appears in the familiar texts of Jeremiah 31:33, 32:38 and Ezekiel 37:27. The imagery shifts at this point from dwellings to treaties. The language is that of a sovereign to a vassal. Under the terms of the treaty that bound king and vassal together, the king agreed to protect the vassal, and the vassal promised sole allegiance and obedience. This is why worship of God and worship of idols are fundamentally incompatible. While we no longer relate to God as vassals to a sovereign, the essential principle of exclusive possession underlying the Mosaic covenant still holds true (3:14).

Therefore (v 17) introduces the practical implications of verses 14-16. The pledge of the sovereign’s presence and protection also carried with it certain moral mandates for the vassal. The mandate for Israel was that they were to come out from them and be separate. . . . Touch no unclean thing. Paul quoted from Isaiah 52:11, changing the order of the commands and adding the phrase says the Lord. In Isaiah 52:8-12 the Israelites were warned as they leave Babylon that they are not to take any material goods acquired in exile back with them; and those who carry the sacred temple vessels, which had been carefully preserved in exile, are first to purify themselves. Israel was to sever all ties with the idolatries, practices and impurities of their pagan captors. The same is true for the church. God always demands holy living from His people. Since He takes up lodging among us, we in turn are called to separate ourselves from everything incompatible with his holiness (Bruce 1971:215). The verbs are aorist imperatives (exelthate, aphoristhete), making immediate and decisive separation the appropriate course of action.

If the Corinthians do this, the pledge is that God will receive them and be a father to them. They, in turn, will be sons and daughters (vv. 17-18). I will receive you is probably drawn from Ezekiel 20:34. The second part of the pledge is taken from 2 Samuel 7:14 (2 Kingdoms 7:14): “I will be his father, and he will be my son.” Paul saw God’s promise to David that he will be a father to Solomon and Solomon will be a son to him fulfilled yet again in God’s relationship to the church. The singular son is changed to the plural sons, and the phrase and daughters is added, probably under the influence of Isaiah 43:6. There are to be a family likeness and family affection between God and his people.

The entire string of Old Testament quotations concludes with the phrase says the Lord Almighty. The phrase is a familiar one in the Bible. The term pantokrator, which translates the Hebrew seba’wt, is commonly rendered “almighty” but actually means “master” or “ruler of all”. With this phrase Paul emphasized the awesome truth that it is the One Who rules over all Who chooses to dwell among us and be our Father.

Paul concluded this block of verses with an exhortation to be pure and holy: Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God (7:1). The language and phraseology are not typically Pauline. He might have been quoting a familiar phrase or a well-known ethical injunction. In the sphere of agriculture, katharizo (“purify”) means to “prune away” or “clear” the ground of weeds–which may not be far off the mark here. The more usual way to construe the verb is to “wash” or “cleanse” of dirt or other filth. Paul’s use of the reflexive heautous would support this sense (“to cleanse yourselves“). The aorist tense suggests a decisive action of cleansing (katharisomen).Cleanliness as next to godliness fits well the religious mentality of Paul’s day. Both Greek religion and Judaism placed an emphasis on physical and ritual purity. Within Judaism this mentality was grounded on the presupposition that uncleanness and Yahweh were irreconcilable opposites. The Essenes, in particular, were well known for their rites of purification and daily immersion practices (Link and Schattenmann 1978:104-5).

From what were the Corinthians to cleanse themselves? According to Paul, it was from everything that contaminates body and spirit. Contaminates is actually a noun denoting that which stains, defiles or soils (molysmos). The noun is found only here in the New Testament, although the verb is used twice in Revelation (3:4; 14:4) and once in 1 Corinthians (8:7) of defiling the conscience through the indiscriminate eating of meat sacrificed to idols (compare Jerermiah 23:15). This brings us back full circle to Paul’s opening injunction to stop entering into unequal partnerships with unbelievers (6:14). The close association of molysmos with idolatry suggests that Paul was thinking especially of defilement that comes from dining in the local temples, membership in the pagan cults, ritual prostitution, active engagement in pagan worship and the like.

The defilement mentioned affected body and spirit. The Greek text is literally “flesh and spirit.” Paul could be using popular language to designate the material and immaterial elements of a person, but he used “flesh” and “spirit” interchangeably at 2:13 and 7:5, suggesting he was looking at the human being from two differing perspectives. This fits with Hebraic thinking, which did not compartmentalize the human being but viewed the whole person from different vantage points (such as physical, spiritual, mental).

The positive side of the exhortation is perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. Holiness becomes a reality as we purify ourselves from physical and spiritual pollutants. Purifying ourselves must be done out of reverence for God–that is, in deference and devotion toward Him to whom we owe everything.

That Christians would strive to live a holy life is a wholly appropriate response to the promises of God’s presence (v. 16), His welcome (v. 17) and His fatherhood (v. 18).

Truth about Gun Control   Leave a comment

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are both under fire currently for “not being willing to talk about gun control” in connection with the Parkland Florida high school shooting. Good for them.

The Left’s incessant attempts to find new ways to take guns from law-abiding American citizens in the name of reducing gun crime .is completely misplaced because the facts clearly show that gun control only exacerbates violent crime. Here are seven facts proving this.

1. Washington, D.C.’s gun ban worsened the city’s homicide rate. In 1976, D.C. implemented a law that banned citizens from owning guns, meaning only police officers were allowed to carry firearms. Those who already owned guns were allowed to keep them only if they were disassembled or trigger-locked and the trigger locks could be removed only if the owner received permission from the DC police, which pretty much never happened.

The results weren’t good. Annual homicides rose from 188 (1976) to 364 (1988) and by 1993 it was 454. The District of Columbia gun ban was struck down by the Supreme Court  in 2008 and by 2012 the DC murder rate had dropped to 88. Yes, there were no doubt other factors involved in the decline in homocides, but lifting the gun bad clearly didn’t result in an increase in murders.

Washington DC still has strictest gun laws in the country and one of the most dangerous places in the country to live. The salient facts are that homicides in D.C. rose after the ban was implemented and subsequently declined after the Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional.

2. The gun bans in Australia and Britain also didn’t work. Australia and Britain are both hailed by the Left as evidence that gun control works. The facts, even collected within those countries, tell a different story.

A 2007 study published in the British Journal of Criminology determined “The gun buy-back and restrictive changes had no influence on firearm homicides in Australia.” The gun homicide rate had actually been low in Australia and falling prior to the Port Arthur shooting. After the gun ban, firearm suicides and accidental firearm deaths did decrease, but researchers noted there was an initial spike in non-firearm suicides for the next couple of years, followed by a decline. Thus, researchers concluded that “suicide rates in Australia were highly influenced by other societal changes, confounding the ability to discern any effect on firearm suicides” after the buyback program.

After Australia’s gun buyback, the gun ownership levels in Australia rose to the point where by 2010, there were as many guns in circulation as there were before the gun buyback. You would have thought to see gun deaths decrease at first and the increase as guns came back into circulation, but that’s not what happened. The rate of firearm suicides was falling about the same rate after the buyback as they were beforehand. After the buyback, there was no sudden drop and then an increase, but that sudden drop in firearms-related suicides coincided with a sudden drop in non-firearm suicides fell by virtually the same percentage as firearm suicides. The fits what I know about suicide from my 15 years of working in the mental health fields. People who want to kill themselves will kill themselves whether a gun is available or not.

The same appears to be true with gun homicides.

According to the study (see the link), prior to 1996, there was already a clear downward trend in firearm homicides, a pattern that continued after the buyback. As with suicides, both non-firearm and firearm homicides fell by similar amounts, though the trend in non-firearms homicides shows a much larger decline between the pre- and post-buyback periods. That suggests crime had been falling for other reasons. Significantly, there was no increase in homicides as gun ownership gradually increased.

 

 

In Britain’s case, the Crime Research Prevention Center found that after the gun ban was implemented, there was initially a severe increase in the homicide rate, followed by a gradual decline once Britain beefed up their police force. However, there has only been one year where the homicide rate was lower than it was pre-ban:

There was an 87 percent spike in gun crime from 1998/1999 to 2008/2009, all of which occurred after the gun ban.

A closer look at the actual facts shows that the Left’s favorite examples of Britain and Australia are actually examples of how gun control DOES NOT work.

3. The vast majority of mass shootings occur in gun-free zones. Since 1950, 98 percent of mass public shootings have occurred in gun-free zones. The terror attack in Orlando, FL all the school, mall, and movie theater shootings all took place in gun-free zones. There’s an obvious reason for that. Deranged murderers want to be in a position to murder as many people as possible, so they target areas where they’re least likely to find armed resistance, which happen to be gun-free zones.

There are 330 million people in America but only 628,000 police officers. Cops can’t protect everybody and the Supreme Court has ruled that they have no obligation to do so. That’s why it’s prudent for citizens to arm themselves.

4. There is a clear correlation between higher firearm ownership and reducing police killings. There is a 3.6 percent DECREASE in police killings for every percentage point INCREASE in those owning a firearm. Naturally, the inverse was also true. From 2013 to 2015, the six states (plus the District of Columbia) that banned open carry actually experienced higher rates of police death (20.2 versus 17.3 per 100,000 officers).”

A 2016 National Association of Chiefs of Police survey found that 86.4 percent of 20,000 police chiefs and sheriffs support concealed carry and are overwhelmingly against further gun control. In light of the recent murders of cops, it has become even more important to have an armed citizenry.

5. There is also a correlation between fewer mass public shootings and higher gun ownership. According to John Lott and the University of Chicago’s Bill Landes, between 1977 and 1999 “right-to-carry laws reduced both the frequency and the severity of mass public shootings; and to the extent to which mass shootings still occurred, they took place in those tiny areas in the states where permitted concealed handguns were not allowed.”

6. As the number of guns per person has increased, gun violence has declined. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that between 1993 and 2003, gun ownership in the US increased by 56 percent, and yet gun violence declined by almost 50 percent in the time period. If the premise of gun control zealots were correct, then wouldn’t gun violence have INCREASED during that period of time?

7. The number of defensive gun uses are higher than the number of criminal firearm uses. There was a range of 500,000 to over 3 million defensive gun uses in 2013, according to research from the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council published by the CDC. That same year, there were 11,208 firearm homicides and 414,562 nonfatal illegal gun uses, according to the CDC and National Justice Institute, respectively. Even when taking the low end of the defensive gun uses, it’s clear that there are more defensive gun uses than criminal gun uses by Americans.

Misleading for Gun Control   Leave a comment

Within minutes of the Wednesday news that another young man with another semi-automatic rifle had rampaged through a school a stunning figure was broadcast. The bodies at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in South Florida weren’t even cold when Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit co-founded by Michael Bloomberg, announced, via tweet at 4:22 pm, “this is the 18th school shooting in the US in 2018.”

Image result for image of gun safetyEverybody loves the bandwagon at a parade, so Sen. Bernie Sanders’ tweet including the claim has been liked more than 45,000 times, and one from political analyst Jeff Greenfield has cracked 116,000. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted it, too, as did musicians Cher and Alexander William and actors Misha Collins and Albert Brooks. News organizations – including MSNBC, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, TIME, MSN, the BBC, the New York Daily News and the Huffington Post – also used the number in their coverage. By Wednesday night, the top suggested search after typing “18” into Google was “18 school shootings in 2018.”

It is a horrifying statistic. It’s also absolutely erroneous.

For the unfamiliar, Everytown has long inflated its total by including incidents of gunfire that are not really school shootings. They list the following as the first “school shooting” of 2018:

On the afternoon of January 3, a 31-year-old man who had parked outside a Michigan elementary school called police to say he was armed and suicidal. Several hours later, he killed himself. The school, however, had been closed for seven months. There were no teachers and no students.

 

Okay. Maybe they just misinterpreted that one. Or maybe not.

Also listed on the organization’s site is an incident from Jan. 20:

At 1 a.m, a man was shot at a sorority event on the campus of Wake Forest University. No one else was shot, that’s a pretty nebulous connection to a school, and it followed an argument in which alcohol was involved. Not quite the same thing as a mass shooting.

Related imageA week later, as a basketball game was being played at a Michigan high school, someone fired several rounds from a gun in the parking lot. The incident appeared to be gang-related, connected to an earlier altercation inside the building. It was well after classes had ended for the day (past 8 p.m.), but Everytown still labels it a school shooting.

Everytown explains on its website that it defines a school shooting as “any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds.”

Everytown’s research director Sarah Tofte calls the definition “crystal clear,” noting that “every time a gun is discharged on school grounds it shatters the sense of safety” for students, parents and the community.

She insists she and her colleagues work to reiterate those parameters in their public messaging, but their tweets and Facebook posts almost never include that nuance. On February 2, 2018 was the only time the organization clearly explained its definition on Twitter. Interestingly, Everytown doesn’t bring up its jarring totals on social media immediately after the more questionable shootings, probably because if anyone investigated, they’d come to the conclusion that Everytown’s administration are skewing the facts. It’s only following the high-profile and undeniable tragedies, such as the Florida massacre or one from last month in Kentucky that left two students dead and at least 18 people injured. Then, when everyone is really emotional, Everyday trusts that no one will check their facts and figures.

Yes, the figures matter. Gun-control activists use them as evidence in their fight for bans on assault weapons, stricter background checks and other legislation. Gun-rights groups seize on the faults in the data to undermine those arguments and, similarly, present skewed figures of their own.

Gun violence is a crisis in America, especially for children, and a huge number – one that needs no exaggeration – have been affected by school shootings. An ongoing Washington Post analysis has found that more than 150,000 students attending at least 170 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. That figure, which comes from a review of online archives, state and federal enrollment figures and news stories, is a conservative calculation and does not include dozens of suicides, accidents and after-school assaults that have also exposed kids to gunfire.

 

Just five of Everytown’s 18 school shootings listed for 2018 happened during school hours and resulted in any physical injury. Three others appeared to be intentional shootings but did not hurt anyone. Two more involved guns – one carried by a school police officer and the other by a licensed peace officer who ran a college club – that were unintentionally fired and, again, led to no injuries … although we ought to be asking why we’re not more up in arms about “professionals” who have “unintended” discharges. Any concealed carry citizen will tell you “There is no such thing as an accidental discharge.” They’re all negligent unless they’re deliberate.

At least seven of Everytown’s 18 shootings took place outside normal school hours.

Shootings of any kind, of course, can be traumatic, regardless of whether they cause physical harm.

A month ago, for example, a group of college students were in a criminal justice club in Texas when a student accidentally fired a real gun, rather than a training weapon. The bullet went through a wall, then a window. Though no one was hurt, it left the student distraught … as well it should because the student showed himself to be an idiot who should never be allowed to handle a gun again.

 

But is that a school shooting? Everytown says “yes”. I would certainly say “no” as would the vast majority of the 200 million gun owners in this country who have never had a negligent discharge of one of their weapons.

 

“Since 2013,” the organization proclaims on its site, “there have been nearly 300 school shootings in America – an average of about one a week.”

But since Everytown began its tracking, it has included dubious examples:

  • In August 2013, a man fired a shot on a Tennessee high school’s property, but it was at 2 a.m when the building was empty
  • In December 2014, a man shot himself in his car late one night and was discovered the next day in a Pennsylvania elementary school parking lot
  • In August 2015, a man climbed atop the roof of an empty Texas school on a Sunday morning and sporadically fired a gun
  • In January 2016, a man in an Indiana high school parking lot had a gun negligently discharge in his glove compartment before any students had arrived on campus.
  • In December 2017, two teens in Washington State shot up a high school just before midnight on New Year’s Eve, when the building was empty.

By the way, I’m not the only one who questions Everytown’s figures. In 2015, The Washington Post’s fact checkers awarded the group’s figures four Pinocchios for misleading methodology, after those figures were lauded by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

Another database, the Gun Violence Archive, defines school shootings in much narrower terms, considering only those that take place during school hours or extra-curricular activities, so it’s not like saner figures aren’t available, but many journalists rely on Everytown’s data. Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple included the 18 figure in a column Wednesday night, and Michael Barbaro, host of the New York Times’s popular podcast “The Daily,” used the number to punctuate the end of his Thursday show.

Deciding what is or is not a school shooting or trying to define a mass shooting can be difficult. Some obviously fit the common-sense definition: Last month, a teen in Texas opened fire in a school cafeteria, injuring a 15-year-old girl. That’s definitely a school schooling. What happened in Florida on Wednesday was definitely a school shooting. Others that Everytown includes on its list are trickier to categorize:

On January 10, at about 6 p.m., a bullet likely fired from off-campus hit the window of a building on a college campus in southern California. No one was hurt, though I’m sure it, rightfully, scared the snot out of some students. Classes were cancelled, rooms were locked down and police searched campus for the gunman, who was never found.

On February 5, a police officer was sitting on a bench in a Minnesota school gym when a third-grader “accidentally” pulled the trigger of his holstered pistol, firing a round into the floor. None of the four students in the gym were injured. What makes this incident so frightening to me is that a cop was so negligent with his weapon that a third-grader was able to fire it, but I also have concerns with the negligence of this child’s parents for not teaching a 9-year-old that guns are never to be touched without express permission by a sober adult.

At some point we really need to have a discussion with parents about why gun safety training is essential for every child, even when their parents don’t own guns. Gun-owning parents definitely need to have that training with their children, but non-gunowners need to as well. To not have that discussion is negligent parenting.

Please Don’t Protect Me From Men   Leave a comment

I’ve been in the workplace for 40 years last summer. For most of that time, I’ve worked with a mix of men and women. One or two jobs were all women and there was a construction job where I was the only women. I like men. Most of my close friends have been men … and I do mean “friends”.

Image result for image of men and women working togetherI consider myself a feminist in that I enjoy being female and I don’t consider myself less than men except for not being as tall or as strong and not being able to urinate standing up. I more than make up for those inadequacies with other qualities.

My feminism tells me that us girls are every bit smart enough and tough enough to compete with the boys at work, if that’s what we choose to do. I have noticed since my early days in the workforce that women have worked hard to be taken seriously and be treated as equals in the workplace.

The New York Times article “What The Sharing Economy Really Delivers” didn’t really impress me with its accuracy, but there was one sentence about women and co-working spaces that really irritated me: “Already many women have chosen to bypass the air-hockey subculture of conventional co-working facilities for all-female alternatives like The Wing in New York or Rise Collaborative in St. Louis. They are tired of men and their predations and inefficiencies.”

That irritates me! I get angry when I see women choosing to retreat to some imaginary safe space, segregating themselves in separate office buildings because they are too tender to deal with “difficult” male colleagues. Honey, you’re sending a message to the few sexists left out there that they were indeed right – women can’t cut it in a man’s world. Take a giant step backward into the 1950s, because you’ve just dealt a major blow against true feminism. In fact, you might be a sexist if you, as a woman, choose to segregate yourself from men. Sexism, like racism, is not a narrow definition that applies to only one type of person. Men can be sexists, but women can too.

And we’re harming ourselves when we engage in this stupidity. Although polls say men and women prefer to work in single sex offices, studies reveal that they are more productive when they work together.  Researchers found a higher level of contentment for men if they did not have to ‘walk on eggshells’ around women, while women were happier when not dealing with a ‘testosterone-fulled atmosphere,’ but mixed sex offices posted a 41% higher profit, challenging the concept that a happier workplace leads to greater productivity, but also recognizing benefits gained by the differences in gender interacting with one another.

I’m not a victim. I’ve worked beside men my whole life and I’ve dealt with sexist remarks and sexual advances. I know how to speak up for myself and take credit for my own work rather than let anyone else steal my thunder. I know how to talk to managers if I need to, but really — because I deal with it on my own — I’ve rarely needed to. So, ladies, I implore you — don’t retreat into enclaves of victimhood. Venture out into the real world and win success on your own two feet.

Posted February 16, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in cultural divide, Uncategorized

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Could the Democrats Lose in 2018?   Leave a comment

I think they might.

Typically, midterm elections swing toward the party that is not in the White House, but that’s not a set-in-concrete rule and the Democratic Party of Maryland may well prove the exception to the rule.

Bradley Manning (who likes to call himself Chelsea because he thinks he’d prefer to be a woman) has announced he’s running for Senate.

Yeah … really. It’ s not a joke.

Image result for image of bradley manningFelons can actually run for political office and it is possible for them to win. Manning’s sentence was not set aside; it was merely shortened to time served. A commutation is not the same thing as a pardon. A pardon wipes out the conviction. A commutation reduces the punishment for the conviction. So Bradley can run for public office. Sane people probably won’t vote for him, but we passed into Alice’s Wonderland some time ago.

The Democratic Party is splitting. Since the 1960s, it’s been composed of a left wing and a moderate wing. The moderate wing was and remains committed to gradual change by working through existing structures.  That was the Democratic Party of FDR and Truman, even Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton – focused on issues with a long-term goal. But now the left wing is asserting its energy – pushing for a more radical platform based on identity politics with a flavor-of-the-month zeitgeist. The radical progressives don’t care if what they want is a bad idea or if other people disagree with them. They want what they want and they want it now.

Bradley Manning is a perfect example of what they want – a man pretending to be a woman, suffering from known mental illness (suicidal depression) who gave unredacted government secrets to a pro-Russian journalist and spent a lot of time in the brig for it. They don’t care if he’s mentally stable or has any experience at governance (does that sound familiar?). They want a “transgender” in the Senate and, by gum and by golly, that’s what they’re going to get. The radical left are already going after incumbent Senator Ben Cardin for not backing illegal immigrants over programs assisting legal citizens. So, it is possible that the radical-left Democrats will push Manning to the nomination, where no sane person will vote for him, and then … well …

Among the 33 Class 1 Senate seats up for regular election in 2018, 23 are currently held by Democrats, two by independents who caucus with the Senate Democrats, and eight by Republicans. You can do the math. The odds are not in the Democrats favor that they can regain control of the Senate because they would have to hold onto all of those 23 sets and gain three more while Republicans only need to hold onto eight seats. Considering that more and more states are swinging Republican at the state level, it’s not a good time for the Democrats to irritate general election voters.

But it seems that Maryland might just do that.

Posted February 15, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in politics, Uncategorized

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