Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Quick Hits: Volume XCI

-When I first heard this story, all I could think was "not again!"

Four people are confirmed dead and at least 14 people are injured following a shooting at the Fort Hood army post Wednesday evening, according to the House Homeland Security Chair and U.S. Representative from Texas Michael McCaul. CBS News confirms the shooter is among the dead and was killed by a self-inflicted wound. The shooter has been identified as a soldier. He has been identified at 34-year-old Ivan Lopez. The shooting reportedly started as the result of a dispute between soldiers.

Sadly the locale of this shooting, Fort Hood, is all too familiar to many Americans. Back in November 2009, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan went on a shooting spree which resulted in 13 people being killed and 30 others suffering injuries.

Because Hasan's actions were surmised to be a jihad, immediate speculation surrounding Wednesday's shooting also broached that possibility. That may have been in no small part to Fox News reporting earlier this week that an FBI investigation took place into an Army recruit who told friends he was planning a "Ft. Hood-inspired jihad." It was eventually determined there was no immediate threat.

Now that the shooter has been identified, an investigation can proceed and hopefully some answers can be found. In the mean time, I choose to pray for those who have been deeply affected by this tragedy (i.e. family & friends of the slain, those who were injured) as opposed to going down the obligatory debate path regarding the lack of armed guards, the stresses of post war life, etc. Believe me, all of those "discussions" are going to take place ad nauseam for weeks to come.

-I never knew (nor cared) much about Russian president Vladimir Putin's personal life, other than the fact he likes to walk around bare chested in his spare time (knowledge I've gained largely through my involvement in social media).

I honestly didn't even know that Mr. Putin was married. Well......

The Kremlin confirmed Wednesday that the Russian president has finalized his divorce from Lyudmila Putina, his wife of nearly 30 years.

The change in marital status was noted after Mr. Putin’s official biography on the presidential website was altered in recent days to remove the reference to his wife. It now states only his two daughters as being his family.

The usually secretive couple surprised the nation last June when they suddenly announced their split in a televised interview after taking part in a performance of the ballet “La Esmeralda” at the Kremlin theater, bringing an end to years of speculation about the state of their marriage.

Mr. Putin, who for years had bristled at personal questions, said they had been living apart for some time and blamed his hectic work schedule as the main cause for the marriage’s demise.

Yeah, I would imagine that trying to return Russia to the glory days of mighty U.S.S.R. can be quite time consuming. It's inevitable that it would cause some strain in a relationship.

-It's more than a little disturbing (not to mention downright creepy) that the majority leader of the U.S. Senate is so obsessed with the activism of certain private citizens, specifically businessmen brothers Charles and Edward Koch. In fact, Sen. Harry Reid has an entire section on his official Senate web site dedicated solely to "Koch Facts" (including a blatantly false accusation of the Kochs not paying corporate taxes). That all seems way over the top given that the Kochs are only the 59th most generous political donors.

Given the fact that the Koch brothers are living rent free inside of Reid's calcified skull, I have to wonder what the Senate Majority Leader's reaction was to a Wall Street Journal op ed penned by Charles Koch.

A key excerpt:

A truly free society is based on a vision of respect for people and what they value. In a truly free society, any business that disrespects its customers will fail, and deserves to do so. The same should be true of any government that disrespects its citizens. The central belief and fatal conceit of the current administration is that you are incapable of running your own life, but those in power are capable of running it for you. This is the essence of big government and collectivism.

More than 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson warned that this could happen. "The natural progress of things," Jefferson wrote, "is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." He knew that no government could possibly run citizens' lives for the better. The more government tries to control, the greater the disaster, as shown by the current health-care debacle. Collectivists (those who stand for government control of the means of production and how people live their lives) promise heaven but deliver hell. For them, the promised end justifies the means.

Instead of encouraging free and open debate, collectivists strive to discredit and intimidate opponents. They engage in character assassination. (I should know, as the almost daily target of their attacks.) This is the approach that Arthur Schopenhauer described in the 19th century, that Saul Alinsky famously advocated in the 20th, and that so many despots have infamously practiced. Such tactics are the antithesis of what is required for a free society—and a telltale sign that the collectivists do not have good answers.

When any member of an executive or legislative branch of government partakes in ad hominem attacks on private citizens who are engaged in our democratic processes, it should at best make your blood boil and at worst frighten you to your core.

I wonder how long it will be until the Kochs receive the random obligatory IRS audit.


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