Category Archives: Other Voices

Someone In Chicago Is Shot Every 2.8 Hours (Despite Major Gun Control), by Tyler Durden

“When guns are outlawed only outlaws have guns” is a bumper sticker, but sometimes bumper stickers are true, as the poor law abiding citizens of Chicago keep finding out. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Having pointed out the surge in gun sales that has accompanied many of the largest mass shootings in America (and the government’s instant knee-jerk reaction to tighten gun control, perhaps ignoring the mental problems many Americans face), and earlier noted that ‘mass shootings’ are now running at a pace of more than 1 per day in America, we thought DailyCaller.com’s Mike Piccione’s intriguing report detailing the supposed “gun-free-zone” of Chicago provided some crucial color that few seem willing to listen to…

Someone in Chicago has been shot every 2.84 hours this year for a total of 2,349 shootings during the period of January 1, 2015 to October 6, 2015, according to crime stats published by the Chicago Tribune.

This year, Chicago is expected to eclipse the previous milestone of a shooting every 3.38 hours in 2014 with a total victim count of 2,587.

But – Chicago ranks as one of the most regulated cities in the nation for gun control.

Concealed carry is almost nonexistent. To purchase a gun or ammunition requires a Firearm Owners Identification card in the entire state of Illinois, and additionally, a Chicago Firearm Permit – which is required to possess a firearm in Chicago.

Not only are the people heavily regulated in Chicago, but guns are also heavily regulated. Any long gun with a grip protruding from the stock or a firearm with a telescoping stock is prohibited and classified as an “assault weapon.”

Magazines are limited to a 12-round capacity.

Even a spring-powered pellet gun with a muzzle velocity of 700 feet-per-second is classified as a “firearm,” although it does not use gun powder, the component that puts the “fire” in “firearm.”

A stun-gun — a non-lethal device with no projectile — is considered a deadly weapon and cannot be carried for self-defense.

Chicago, for all intents and purposes, is a “gun-free zone.”

But all the state and city regulations associated with firearms in Chicago have failed to produce a safe city, and these are the policies that President Obama and Secretary Clinton wish to extend to the rest of the country.

While saying that “criminals go out-of-state to places where it is easier to obtain guns” is often used to push gun control, it illustrates that criminals ignore gun laws in every state and that onerous access to Second Amendment rights on law abiding citizens doesn’t stop crime.

Clinton’s campaign platform includes a call for federal legislation mandating background checks on all private firearms transfers and sales. Clinton also wants to repeal the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.” That law protects firearm manufacturers from lawsuits for negligent use of firearms.

President Obama, through is spokesman Josh Earnest, has announced, “The president has frequently pushed his team to consider a range of executive actions that could more effectively keep guns out of the hands of criminals and others who shouldn’t have access to them. That’s something that is ongoing here.”

Per the president’s policy, Chicago has taken every action “that could more effectively keep guns out of the hands of criminals and others who shouldn’t have access to them.”
* * *

Yet the shootings continue to rise…

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-10-07/someone-chicago-shot-every-28-hours-despite-major-gun-control

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Ron Paul’s Foreign Policy of Peace Is Central to the Message of Freedom, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.

From Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. at davidstockmanscontracorner.com:

Ronald Reagan used to be called the Teflon president, on the grounds that no matter what gaffe or scandal engulfed him, it never stuck: he didn’t suffer in the polls. If Reagan was the Teflon president, the military is America’s Teflon institution. Even people who oppose whatever the current war happens to be can be counted on to “support the troops” and to live by the comforting delusion that whatever aberrations may be evident today, the system itself is basically sound.
To add insult to injury, whenever the US government gears up for yet another military intervention, it’s people who pretend to favor “limited government,” and who pride themselves on not falling for government propaganda, who can be counted on to stand up and salute.

I had the rare honor of serving as Ron Paul’s congressional chief of staff, and observed him in many proud moments in those days, and in his presidential campaigns. But Ron’s new book Swords into Plowshares: A Life in Wartime and a Future of Peace and Prosperity, a plainspoken and relentless case against war that ranks alongside Smedley Butler’s classic War Is a Racket, is possibly the proudest Ron Paul moment of all.

It’s been calculated that over the past 5,000 years there have been 14,000 wars fought, resulting in three and a half billion deaths. In the United States, between 1798 and 2015 there have been 369 uses of military force abroad. We have been conditioned to accept this as normal, or at the very least unavoidable. We are told to stifle any moral qualms we may have about mass killing on the question-begging grounds that, after all, “it’s war.”

Ron, on this as on a wide array of other topics, isn’t prepared to accept the conventional platitudes, and a recurring theme in his book involves speculating on whether, in the same way the human race has advanced so extraordinarily from a technological point of view, we might be capable of a comparable moral advance as well.

There is much in this book for libertarians and indeed all opponents of war to enjoy – for starters, a refutation of the claim that war is “good for the economy,” a discussion of the dangers of “blowback” posed by foreign interventionism, and an overview of the War on Terror from a noninterventionist perspective. But there is a profoundly personal dimension to this book as well, as we follow Ron’s life from his childhood to the present and the evolution of his thought on war. I’ll leave readers to discover these gems for themselves.

To continue reading: Ron Paul’s Foreign Policy and the Message of Freedom

Turkey Day, by Tyler Durden and Patrick Buchanan

One way other nations prove their “loyalty” to the US is to imitate its mistakes. Turkey is venturing further in the Middle East quagmire, mostly for domestic political reasons. That’s worked well for the US, and it can safely be predicted that it will work just as well for Turkey. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com, “The Real Story Behind Turkey’s US-Backed “War On Terror”:

A quick Google search for the phrase “Turkey joins ISIS fight” reveals that generally speaking, the media is doing its best to pitch Ankara’s newfound willingness to engage Islamic State militarily as a kind of come-to-Jesus moment for the Erdogan regime.

Here’s the official line, excerpted from the NY Times:

Turkey plunged into the fight against the Islamic State on Thursday, rushing forces into the first direct combat with its militants on the Syrian border and granting permission for American warplanes to use two Turkish air bases for bombarding the group in Syria.

The developments ended a longstanding reluctance by Turkey, a NATO member and an ally of the United States, to play a more aggressive part in halting the Islamic State’s expanding reach in the Middle East. American officials said it carried the potential to strike Islamic State targets with far greater effect because of Turkey’s proximity, which will allow more numerous and frequent bombings and surveillance missions.

Turkey, a vital conduit for the Islamic State’s power base in Syria, had come under increased criticism for its inability — or unwillingness — to halt the flow of foreign fighters and supplies across its 500-mile border.

Up to now, Turkey has placed a priority on dealing with its own restive Kurdish population, which straddles the Syrian border in the southeast, and in the toppling of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, whom the Turks blame for creating the conditions in his war-ravaged country for the rise of Islamic extremism.

But now that extremism has increasingly menaced Turkey, where 1.5 million Syrian war refugees have also been straining the country. A series of Islamic State attacks on Turks, including a devastating suicide bombing a few days ago that officials have linked to the extremist group, may also have helped accelerate the shift in Turkey’s position.

The agreement was sealed on Wednesday with a phone call between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and President Obama, another administration official said.

A senior Defense Department official said recent Islamic State attacks on Turkish targets had played an important role in Turkey’s decision to join the fight against the militant group directly. “Attacks in Turkey are part of the catalyst for them to think about how they get in the game,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
But while the attacks may be “part of the catalyst,” skeptics (count us among them) doubt whether they are a large part.

In fact, even the most mainstream of news outlets are unable to completely obscure the fact that Turkey’s ISIS “offensive” may amount to nothing more than a smokescreen, as Erdogan launches a renewed effort to crush the PKK and nullify opposition gains won at the ballot box early last month when, for the first time in more than a decade, AKP lost its parliamentary majority.

To continue reading: “The Real Story Behind Turkey’s ‘War On Terror‘”

And from Patrick Buchanan, at buchanan.org, “Now The Turks Are All In”:

All through the Cold War, the Turks were among America’s most reliable allies.

After World War II, when Stalin encroached upon Turkey and Greece, Harry Truman came to the rescue. Turkey reciprocated by sending thousands of troops to fight alongside our GIs in Korea.

Turkey joined NATO and let the U.S. station Jupiter missiles in their country. When JFK secretly traded away the Jupiters for removal of the Soviet missiles in Cuba, the Turks went along.

Early this century, under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey seemed to be emerging as a major power, a land bridge between Europe and the Islamic world, a friend to its neighbors, and future member of the EU.

But, recently, a U.S. diplomat blurted, “The Turks are out of their lane!”

And that describes the situation succinctly and well.

When rebels rose up to overthrow Bashar Assad in Syria, and Assad elected to fight not quit, Erdogan turned on him and began to permit jihadists to enter Syria.

When ISIS terrorists seized Raqqa in Syria, and Mosul and Anbar in Iraq, Erdogan refused to let U.S. planes based at Incirlik bomb them.

When America supported Syrian Kurds with air power, enabling them to hold off an ISIS attack on Kobani on the Syria-Turkish border, Erdogan denounced the Kurds as the greater threat.

But 10 days ago came an ISIS atrocity in Suruc, Turkey, just north of Kobani. Thirty-two young Turkish Kurds who were planning to help rebuild Kobani were massacred, and a hundred wounded.

Instantly, Erdogan permitted U.S. planes at Incirlik to attack ISIS targets in Syria and launched air strikes himself. It appeared that, at long last, the U.S. and Turkey were again on the same page, seeing ISIS as the primary enemy, and acting jointly against it.

But the Turkish attacks on ISIS proved to be pinpricks. And the Turks began a major air assault on Kurdish forces in exile in Iraq, the PKK, who had fled Turkey after the recent civil war.

Where does this leave Turkey today?

To continue reading: Now the Turks Are All In

Tsipras Invites Schäuble To Fall Into His Own Sword, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

Raúl Ilargi Meijer has made the Greek situation his focus the last month or two on the website automaticearth.com. He has had some good insights, although he apparently believes that the suffering of the Greek people justifies more European taxpayer largess. Yes, it is unfortunate, often heart-rending, that old people, their pensions cut, are digging in garbage cans and Greek hospitals and doctors lack necessary supplies. However, when your government spends more than it takes in for years, is corrupt, and fails to collect taxes, those sort of bad things happen. America will find out about it soon enough. When the shit really hits the fan, there won’t be enough money, even the kind conjured from thin air, to alleviate all the misery coming Europe and America’s way.

However, in this article, Meijer suggests an interesting possibility: that Alexis Tsipras has maneuvered his way brilliantly through the crisis, from the standpoint of both the negotiations and domestic Greek politics. He was elected in January with less than 40 percent of the vote. The electorate wanted to stay in the EU, but to forego austerity. The referendum gave him a mandate to reject further austerity. Tsipras then essentially agreed to the austerity package his voters had just opposed, contingent on some sort of debt reduction and restructuring. The IMF, one member of the hated “Troika,” had, just before the referendum, said Greece’s debt was unpayable and would need to be reduced and restructured, putting the IMF in opposition to the other two members, the EC and the ECB. Now, apparently, led by the Germans, Dutch, and Finns, the EU will not grant any reduction other than tweaks on maturities and interest rates, and are “suggesting” that Greece leave the Eurozone.

Tsipras is the same position as Lincoln after Fort Sumter or Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor—he has got the other side to fire the fateful first shot. He can claim he was willing to meet the EU’s demands, but it was they who initiated the Grexit. He will not be blamed in Greece, and he can, like Lincoln and Roosevelt, rally his country around him for the undoubtedly tough times ahead, provided there actually is a Grexit and not some 11th hour, can-kicking agreement. Then, if Tsipras is really smart, he’ll pull a Nixon goes to China, swear off socialism, embrace free markets, low taxes, protection of contract and property rights, and minimal regulation. In 10 years Greece would be on its way to becoming the Hong Kong, rather than the Venezuela, of the Mediterranean. This is an extremely low-ods bet, but it sure would scare the hell out of the rest of Europe.

From Meijer, at automaticearth.com:

Too many voices the past few days are all pointing the same way, and I’ve always thought that is never good. A guessing-based consensus, jumping to conclusions and all that. Look, it’s fine if you don’t have all the answers, no matter how nervous it makes you.

What I’m referring to in this instance is the overwhelming conviction that Greece and Tsipras have conceded, given in to the Troika, flown a white flag, you get the drift. But guys, the battle ain’t over yet.

So here’s an alternative scenario, purely hypothetically (but so in essence is the white flag idea, always got to wait for the fat lady), and for entertainment purposes only. Let ‘er rip:

Tsipras, first through holding a referendum, and then through delivering a proposal that at first sight looked worse than what the Troika provided before the referendum, has managed a number of things.

First, his domestic support base has solidified. That’s what the referendum confirmed once more. Second, he’s given the Troika members, plus the various nations that think they represent them, something that was sure from the moment he sent it to them: a way to divide and rule and conquer the lot.

Tsipras has set the IMF versus the EU versus the ECB. Schäuble snapped at Draghi last night: ”Do you hold me for a fool?” Germany itself is split too, Merkel and Schäuble are at odds. Germany and France don’t see eye to eye anymore. The US doesn’t see eye to eye with any party involved.

Italy is about to tell Germany to stop its shenanigans and get a deal done. The True Finns may get to decide the entire shebang, with less than 1 million rabid voters calling the shots for 320 million eurozone inhabitants.

From that point of view, Tsipras has done a great job at playing the other side of the table off against each other. So much so, it doesn’t even have to have been intentional, and it still works out great. He’s exposed the entire EU structure as a bag of bones, let alone a naked emperor.

Moreover, imagine this also purely hypothetical and for entertainment purposes only notion: maybe Tsipras has known forever that for Greece to stay inside the eurozone was a losing proposition. But he never had the mandate. Well, after Schäuble’s antics last night, that mandate has come a lot closer. And it’s not even just in Greece either.

And he may not even need such a mandate: Schäuble may do the job for him. If Tsipras pokes him just a little more, he’ll throw such a hissyfit that Alexis will be able to get Greece out of the euro without carrying the blame himself. And get money for the effort. Lots of money.

And that’s not all: he’ll sow division in the ranks to such an extent that the whole EU won’t survive. How can Schäuble stay in his post after this? How can Draghi? He’s shown them all, for the whole world to see, to be nothing but hot air bags of bones. Their entire credibility is shot to bits.

To continue reading: Tsipras Invites Schäuble To Fall Into His Own Sword

The Saudi Finger-Pointing at Iran, by Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

If anyone has seen a good explanation of why the US needs to be on either side of the centuries-old battle for influence between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Middle East, post a reference or link to it in the comments. If anyone has seen a good explanation of why we favor Saudi Arabia (other than it has more oil), which is at least as fundamentalist, at least as repressive, and foments and exports at least as much Islamic extremism as Iran, again, post a reference or link to it in the comments. From Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett at antiwar.org:

Riyadh’s increasingly destructive war in Yemen has sparked overripe discussion in Western capitals about Iran’s use of “proxies” to subvert otherwise “legitimate” Middle Eastern governments. Driving such discussion is a self-serving narrative, promoted by Israel as well as by Saudi Arabia, about Tehran’s purported quest to “destabilize” and, ultimately, “take over” the region.

Assessments of this sort have, of course, been invoked to justify – and elicit Western support for – Saudi intervention in Yemen. More broadly, the Israeli-Saudi narrative about Iranian ambitions is framed to prevent the United States from concluding a nuclear deal with Tehran – or, failing that, to keep Washington from using a deal as a springboard for comprehensively realigning U.S.-Iranian relations.

Determination to forestall Iran’s international normalization by hyping its “hegemonic” regional agenda was on lurid display in Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s much-watched March 3, 2015 address to the U.S. Congress. As Netanyahu warned his audience, “Backed by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq. Backed by Iran, Houthis are seizing Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. … Iran is busy gobbling up the Middle East.”

Two days after Netanyahu spoke in Washington, then-Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal offered Riyadh’s version of this narrative, stressing Iran’s “interference in affairs of Arab countries.” With U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry beside him, Saud recapitulated a reading of Tehran’s regional strategy regularly expounded by Saudi elites:

“We are, of course, worried about atomic energy and atomic bombs. But we’re equally concerned about nature of action and hegemonistic tendencies that Iran has in the region. These elements are the elements of instability in the region. We see Iran involved in Syria and Lebanon and Yemen and Iraq. … Iran is taking over [Iraq]. … It promotes terrorism and occupies lands. These are not the features of countries which want peace and seek to improve relations with neighboring countries.”

Given all that is at stake in the Middle East, it is important to look soberly at claims by Israel, Saudi Arabia and their surrogates about Iran “gobbling up” the region. Sober evaluation starts by thinking through, in a fact-based way, how Iranian strategy – including its “proxy” component – actually works. It also entails dispassionate examination of what really concerns Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states about Iran’s regional role.

Playing Defense

Since the 1979 revolution that ended monarchical rule in Iran and created the Islamic Republic, Iranian strategy has been fundamentally defensive. Unlike other Middle Eastern powers – or the United States, for that matter – the Islamic Republic has never attacked another state or even threatened to do so.

The revolutionaries who ousted the last shah promised to restore Iran’s real sovereignty after a century and a half of rule by puppet regimes beholden to external powers. From the Islamic Republic’s founding, its leaders have viewed the United States – the world’s superpower, whose ambitions to consolidate a highly militarized, pro-American political and security order in the Middle East condition it to oppose independent power centers there – as the biggest threat to fulfilling this revolutionary commitment.

After the United States, Iranian policymakers have seen Israel – a U.S. ally with aspirations to military dominance in its neighborhood – as a serious threat to the Islamic Republic’s security and strategic position.

Tehran has also been deeply concerned about Saudi Arabia leveraging its ties to Washington to advance its intensely anti-Iranian agenda – including the arming and funding of violently anti-Shi’a groups like al-Qa’ida and the Taliban.

The Islamic Republic’s leaders have designed its foreign policy and national security strategy to preserve Iran’s territorial and political integrity in the face of these threats. The aim is not to establish Iran’s regional hegemony; it is to prevent any other regional or extra-regional power from attaining hegemony over Iran’s strategic environment.

Even the U.S. Defense Department acknowledges the defensive character of Iranian strategy; as a recent Pentagon report puts it, “Iran’s military doctrine is defensive. It is designed to deter an attack, survive an initial strike, retaliate against an aggressor, and force a diplomatic solution to hostilities while avoiding any concessions that challenge its core interests.”

http://original.antiwar.com/leveretts/2015/06/12/the-saudi-finger-pointing-at-iran/

To continue reading; The Saudi Finger-Pointing at Iran

THE MOST WHINEY, SENSITIVE, THIN-SKINNED, EASILY OFFENDED SOCIETY IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD, by Matt Walsh

Matt Walsh hits the nail squarely on the head (apologies to all those concerned with nail rights and violence against nails who might find my metaphor offensive). From Matt Walsh, at theburningplatform.com:

Sorry, but it’s your fault if you’re offended all the time

I truly believe that we are the most whiney, sensitive, thin-skinned, easily offended society in the history of the world.

Nobody has ever been as prolific at getting offended as we are.

Nobody cries over insignificant nonsense as loudly and consistently as us.

It’s the one thing we seem to do better than everyone else on the planet. We corner the Offended Market, and it’s not even close. Modern Americans love to get offended more than we love eating Cinnabon or talking about our fitness goals. If it was an Olympic sport, we’d grab the gold, silver, and bronze every year. If it was a job, we’d all be millionaires. In fact, we have turned it into a job, and the people who do it professionally are millionaires (Al Sharpton, etc). It is our calling card, our national pastime. It is the battle we fight and the banner we wave.

We get offended faster and more efficiently than anyone. And it’s not just our speed that separates us from the rest — it’s our endurance. We have a limitless capacity for offendedness. Every week there are dozens of new national outrages and boycott campaigns and social media crusades to raise awareness about some offensive thing, or to get someone fired for saying some offensive thing, or to teach people that some previously non-offensive thing has now become offensive.

Most of all, I find myself positively dazzled by the dexterity and athleticism with which we get offended. We can juggle six or seven outrages all at once, and then drop them and pick up new ones in the blink of an eye.

Our creativity and meticulousness are also quite notable here. We can look at any situation and extract hundreds of offensive factors that an untrained eye probably would have overlooked. We conjure up more fabricated outrages and controversies in a month than past civilizations could have mustered in a thousand years.

Do you remember what everyone was super worked up about four weeks ago? Yeah, me neither. That’s the point. We move on to the new outrage so quickly and the old ones are buried and forgotten. Well, whatever it was way back then, I’m sure it was REALLY bad and we were REALLY upset.

It’s always something. We have located the Fountain of Eternal Indignation, and we drink it by the gallon.

So then it is no wonder that this is the climate which has given rise to a concept called microaggressions.

http://www.theburningplatform.com/2015/04/04/the-most-whiney-sensitive-thin-skinned-easily-offended-society-in-the-history-of-the-world/

To continue reading: The Most Whiney Society in the World

Why We Feel So Poor, In Two Charts, by John Rubino

Can you guess the two culprits John Rubino fingers as to why we feel so poor? A hint: they are the two sectors of the economy in which the government has most deepened its involvement since 1990. From  dollarcollapse.com:

Among the many things that mystify economists these days, the biggest might be the lingering perception, despite six years of ostensible recovery, that the average person is getting poorer rather than richer. Lots of culprits come in for blame, including the growing gap between the 1% and everyone else, negative interest rates (which starve savers and retirees of income) and the crappy nature of the new jobs being created in this recovery.

But one that doesn’t get much mention is the changing nature of the bills we’re paying. It seems that Americans are spending a lot more on health care, which leaves less for everything else. Here’s an excerpt from a MarketWatch report of a couple of weeks back, with two charts that tell the tale:

Share of consumer spending on health hits another record

The percentage of money U.S. consumers spend on health care rose in 2014 for the third straight year to another record high, according to one government measure.

Some 20.6% of total consumer spending in 2014 was devoted to health care, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, annual figures from the Commerce Department report on personal expenditures show. That’s up from 20.4% in 2013.

Health-care expenses has been rising for decades regardless of government efforts to control costs. The percentage of consumer spending on health care rose from 15% in 1990, topping 20% for the first time in 2009.

http://dollarcollapse.com/the-economy/why-we-feel-so-poor-in-two-charts/

To continue reading: Why We Feel So Poor