America is still mourning and reeling from Friday’s school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, that left eight students and two teachers dead and 13 others injured. You may be even more stunned to learn that even in Texas, the shooter can’t receive the death penalty because he’s not yet 18. And thanks to a controversial 2012 Supreme Court decision that juveniles can’t be given life in prison, the mass murderer might someday be eligible for parole. That decision was based on psychologists’ claims that people 17 and younger don’t have the cognitive development to tell right from wrong. I'm sure that comes as news to many of us, who were aware from the time we were in kindergarten that murdering our classmates was wrong.
Police are still trying to understand the motivation for this heinous crime, but no matter what alleged reasons they come up with, it will never be fully explained because there can never be any sort of rational explanation for such an inexplicable act. But that isn’t stopping people from theorizing about why we are seeing so many such attacks when just 20 years ago, guns were easier to purchase, bullying was less vigilantly policed, but school shootings were virtually unheard of.
Oliver North made one such suggestion that is highly speculative but might be worth thinking about. He suggests that drugs might have something to do with it. Not illegal drugs, but prescription drugs such as Ritalin that are handed out like M&Ms to boys to make them stop acting like boys. He notes that nearly all the attackers are male, that many young males have been on Ritalin since kindergarten, and there aren’t enough studies to tell us what longterm effects that might have on the brain.
Of course, that’s purely conjecture, and maybe has nothing to do with this. But despite the shaky grounds for the theory, it wouldn’t hurt to have a society-wide discussion about the wisdom of drugging our kids, as well as whether normal boyhood behavior such as being aggressive, fidgety and rambunctious is really a mental condition. It’s long past time to question the ludicrous notion that masculinity is a toxic disease calling for drastic pharmaceutical treatment.
Meanwhile, David French in the National Review points up another possible explanation for the rise in school shootings, and it’s even more disturbing because it makes sense and trying to reverse it would be like trying to unscramble an egg. It’s a theory put forth by Malcolm Gladwell (a New Yorker writer, not an NRA conservative), based on studies by a Stanford sociologist. The theory is that school shootings aren’t isolated incidents, they are a riot happening in slow motion, sparked by the 1999 Columbine High School attack.
The argument is that riots are a social process in which more and more people do things they wouldn’t normally do. For instance, most people have too high a threshold of morality ever to throw a brick through a store window and steal something. But if one person does it first, then a couple more may join in. Those with slightly higher moral thresholds will resist until they see three or four people doing it, then they’ll join in. And on and on, up until the last holdout with the highest scruples sees everyone else smashing and stealing and thinks, “What the heck, why not grab something for myself?” Then you have full-blown chaos.
Gladwell argues that the Columbine shooters set off this slow-moving riot by laying down the “cultural script” for school shootings, complete with trench coats, pipe bombs, a manifesto and a website. Gladwell points out that virtually all the school shootings that occurred or were thwarted over the following eight years were inspired by Columbine. Even the Santa Fe shooter reportedly wore a trench coat, posted threatening images online and built pipe bombs, like the Columbine shooters.
To put it plainly, once the Columbine shooters did the unthinkable, it was no longer unthinkable. They lowered the threshold for what was unthinkable. The idea of shooting up your school was now out there in society, standing as a real option for achieving revenge and fame.
That’s why I don’t give the names of these shooters: I refuse to accord them the notoriety they dream of. That may be a small personal protest, but if every major media outlet joined me, maybe at least one potential killer would be swayed by knowing that he would never be famous, only shot or jailed. Please note I hope everyone would agree to that policy voluntarily. But if someone did argue for banning the reporting of shooters’ names by law, it would be hard for the press to protest. “If it stops even one shooting, it would be worth it” is the same argument liberal media outlets make to gun owners for revoking the Second Amendment, so shouldn’t they be willing to give up just a tiny fraction of their First Amendment rights for the same reason?
But that would be an easy out and not really address the bigger issue. You can’t stop these shootings by taking guns away from law-abiding citizens, any more than you can stop a riot by taking bricks away from bricklayers. This is not a hardware over-supply problem, it’s a sickness of the soul.
Our society has spent decades lowering the threshold for what is morally acceptable. Our children now grow up surrounded by celebrations of immorality and amorality, and the mocking and banning of traditional moral principles and their sources, especially the Bible. If we ever hope to stop this bloody, slow-motion riot, it won’t happen by banning bricks. It will happen when we start teaching our kids from the cradle that such disregard for the sanctity of life is absolutely unacceptable…and we start setting that example ourselves.
Speaking of efforts to restore respect for the sanctity of human life, here’s a story that was almost overlooked in last week’s avalanche of headlines about Israel, North Korea and “Russia-Russia-Russia.”
President Trump made good on his promise to defend unborn children when his Administration announced that it would send the Office of Management and Budget a proposal to update Title IX regulations to insure that family planning funds do not go to programs that provide abortion as a form of family planning. It would also reverse an Obama-era order that barred states from withholding federal funds from Planned Parenthood.
Currently, up to $60 million a year in Title IX family planning funds go to Planned Parenthood. Federal law already prohibits taxpayer funds from being used to pay for abortions, but Planned Parenthood gets around this by claiming that they are a women’s health service provider, and the taxpayer money that supports their clinics doesn’t pay for the wing where all the abortions are performed. Or as they call that in Hollywood, “creative accounting.”
I’m certain this will result in furious accusations of Trump and Republicans hating women and cutting off funds for women’s health care. That’s completely false. This represents no cut in funding for women’s health services -- not one penny. The money would just be redirected to clinics that don’t provide abortions. Planned Parenthood can even continue getting the money; they just have to disentangle their abortion services from actual women’s health services (and no, abortion isn’t a “health service.” It’s the only operation that’s considered a failure if someone doesn’t die.)
But considering how few women’s health services other than abortion Planned Parenthood clinics actually provide (if you don’t believe me, look at their own annual report that they were so reluctant to publish), redirecting those funds to other clinics that, say, actually have mammogram machines could only improve the quality of and access to health services for women.
I spoke more about this story last week on Fox News. If you missed it, click the link.
A big Huck’s Hero salute to 94-year-old World War II airman, Capt. George W. Starks. He came to the attention of writer Carole Engle Avriett after her husband went fishing with him and told her she needed to hear his story – and it was no fish story. Three years of interviews and research later, that story is now in a new book called “Coffin Corner Boys: One Bomber, Ten Men, and Their Harrowing Escape from Nazi-Occupied France.”
The book tells the story of how a then-19-year-old Starks was shot down over France and made his way 300 miles to Switzerland, dodging Nazis and walking on a broken foot with a 20mm shell fragment in his thigh. It also honors the many people he met along the way who risked their own lives to help him. You can bet this will become a great movie someday, but to George W. Starks, it was all too real. To learn more right now about his perilous trek behind enemy lines, click the link.
And here’s some news that I’m sure Capt. Starks and many other surviving World War II veterans will be relieved to hear. It’s now official: Adolph Hitler is really and truly dead. He did not survive his bunker. Over the years, there have been countless theories that he escaped to Argentina or even to a secret underground base in Antarctica.
But recently, a French forensics team was given access to Hitler’s alleged skull and teeth in Russia’s archives for the first time since 1945. From tests on the teeth and his dentures, and a comparison of the skull to a radiograph of Hitler’s head taken when he was alive, they concluded that there’s no doubt those are his remains and that he both took cyanide and shot himself in the head. So if you are an elderly Argentinian with a toothbrush mustache who was hoping to make some money off the tabloids, you’ll have to find a new angle. Try claiming you’re Charlie Chaplin.
With all that’s coming out now about the government spying on people in the Trump campaign, there’s one thing that really jumps out at me, and I don’t think it’s gotten much attention, at least not yet.
According to the report by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the FBI had considered giving Trump a heads-up on their concerns about some of the associations of Carter Page and Paul Manafort. If that is correct, it would surely make good sense to have done it. If the FBI was so concerned about Russians and their possible effect on the outcome of our election, wouldn’t that have been the thing to do?
But the committee’s report goes on to say that then-FBI Director James Comey and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch decided against briefing him. According to the Daily Caller News Foundation, various reports say that U.S. officials did not want to do that because it might tip off any Russian agents who might be circling around Trump. You have to read down ten paragraphs or so in their story to get to this stunner, and to me, it’s a case of burying the lede. (I’ll wait for you to come back if you’d like to read the story now.)
So, let me get this straight. The FBI had concerns about some of the associations Carter Page and Paul Manafort might be bringing to the table at Trump Tower, but they chose NOT to warn Trump about it and sent in human “informants” (spies) instead. Gosh, if they’d tipped off any Russian agents, the agents might have gone away. Problem solved, right? Get the Russians out of our election! No –- they WANTED the Russians sniffing around the Trump campaign. If the Ruskies got scared off, it would be a lot harder to spin out the story of Russian “colllusion.”
Besides, it sure looks like the “informant” (spy) played a role in setting up the players, most obviously in the case of George Papadopoulos, who was sent on that fishy trip to London on the pretense of getting a writing assignment that paid him $3,000 but concerned a subject on which no report appears to have been published. It was on the London trip that Papadopoulos met Australian diplomat (and Hillary associate) Alexander Downer, whose story supposedly led to the opening of the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation and the FISA warrants. (Comey, in typical bureau-speak, said it was part of a “broader mosaic of facts.”) But Papadopoulos’ drunken reference to stolen Clinton emails appears to have been “fed” to him beforehand by this “informant” (spy).
The only way it makes sense for them not to have alerted Trump is if the government’s main concern wasn’t the Russians, but Trump. They COULD have tipped him off --- maybe even enlisted his aid in trapping some Russian operatives; wouldn’t that have been great? --- but they chose not to. If pressed, you can bet the FBI will excuse the inexcusable by saying this is just “standard operating procedure.” If it is, there’s something terribly wrong within our intelligence community.
On the other hand, Hillary’s campaign and her tenure at the State Department featured plenty of Russian contacts, some of whom funneled money to her. Apparently the FBI and DOJ were too busy figuring out how to avoid charging Hillary with numerous felonies to bother spying on her.
It’s really still a mystery what prompted the investigation into “collusion” in the first place. What was that “broader mosaic of facts”? The DOJ is still refusing to provide committee chairman Devin Nunes with the documentation on that. And in breaking news, Trump is officially demanding, as of Monday, that the current DOJ address the issue of surveillance for political purposes, specifically to find out if the Obama administration was behind it.
Nothing seems serious enough to have warranted the investigation, let alone the spying. The Christopher Steele “dossier” was unsubstantiated, as Comey himself has said. The FBI had known Carter Page since 2013, when a Russian operative approached him and he shared some academic research, and he cooperated with the government in its investigation of the Russian spy ring. He wasn’t found to have done anything wrong. As for Papadopoulos, he appears to have been set up, and even then, he told the “informant” (spy) that he didn’t know anything about Russian interference. Michael Flynn was induced to plead guilty to making false statements when his interrogators didn’t even think it was deliberate. Regarding Paul Manafort, if the FBI had legitimate concerns about his Russian ties and any potential for those ties to impact our election, they might have at least briefed Trump on what they knew.
It would have gone a long way towards keeping the Russians out of our presidential campaign. If that’s what they’d wanted to do.
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