Category: Mental Illness

Just So Sad . . .

school shootings 2Compared To . . . ?

About two months ago there was a high school shooting in Aztec, New Mexico that resulted in the deaths of two students.  The shooter, who died in the incident, was armed with a Glock pistol that he legally purchased.  The weapon is widely used by both law enforcement and civilians.

My sister lives in Albuquerque.  With the tragedy occurring in her figurative backyard, my sister an sent an indignant email to me.  The subject line was, “Just so sad . . .”

Because immigration is often a bone of contention between us, that vexed topic also worked it’s way into the discussion.  She was particularly upset that the shooter was a white, American male. And, according to her, that these are the people that pose a real threat to our safety-as opposed to illegal immigrants.  As she put it, “Who is killing more of us?  White American males or illegal immigrants?”

And now we now have an even worse school shooting in Florida.   Again, the shooter was a white, American male.  But this time the shooter survived the episode, was arrested and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.  The latest reports are that while the shooting was underway, four deputy sheriffs were hiding behind their nearby patrol cars-rather than storming the building. And that law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, ignored warnings signs of the danger posed by the shooter.  The shooter was armed with a legally purchased, semi-automatic, AR-15 rifle.  It’s estimated that there are several million of these weapons in circulation in the country.

Rivers of electronic ink have already been spilled discussing gun violence in this country.  What can be said that hasn’t already been said?  Well, here are a couple of ideas.

Compared To Most Of The World And Most Of Its History, America Is Peaceful

This is going to sound crazy coming on the heels of these horrific shootings, but by comparison to most of the world and for most of it’s history, America is peaceful.

The bloodiest war we ever fought was our Civil War, which left about 700,000 dead, more than the rest of our wars combined.  A terrible tragedy, without question.  But by comparison to the rest of the world, the US is a piker when it comes to blood letting.

One hundred years ago, Europe was nearing the end of World War I, the “war to end all wars”-which did nothing of the sort for that bloody continent.  In four years of savage trench warfare, over 9 million combatants lost their lives; additional millions of civilians perished.

But World War I was just the prelude to an even more horrifying conflict:  World War II.  This time, there were over 24 million military deaths, and nearly 30 million civilian.  American deaths (about 419,000), were a tiny fraction of these mind numbing totals.  And behind most of these countless deaths and maimings there were loved ones who, no doubt, experienced every bit as much grief as those who were left behind by our school shootings.

Am I making light of the shock and intense sorrow that has followed the school shootings in our country?  Of course not; it’s just to put it in context.  Do you charge me with being cold hearted?  Fair enough.  But what’s it called when you’re more grieved with 19 murders-than with the industrial scale slaughter of 24 million?

In light of these terrifying numbers, preachy articles like this one from an English newspaper, comparing European and US gun violence, and which are so prevalent after something like the Florida shooting, strike me, at best, as historically myopic.  And, at worst, as hypocrytical.

“But,” you say, “those wars were a long time ago.”  That’s right.  So was The Holocaust-and the 6 million who died in the gas chambers.  Are you saying, “It’s time to put The Holocaust behind us and focus on Florida”?  The question answers itself.

I could go on, but I’ll spare you the gruesome details.  But please, don’t lecture me about how “peaceful” Europe is in comparison to America.  Scholars estimate that the Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, may have been responsible for up to 50 million deaths.  This quote, usually attributed to the Communist monster, is particularly apt here: “A single death is a tragedy.  The death of millions is a statistic.”  Yes, America has its share of tragedies.  But, thank God, we’re short on statistics.

Compared To Whom?

There’s an odd thing about these mass shootings that you probably haven’t noticed.  And that’s that not all of them are committed by white, American males.  In fact, a sizable number of these killings are committed by culprits that aren’t white, American males.   And the reason you haven’t noticed this fact? Because the main stream media doesn’t want you to notice it.  It doesn’t fit into their meme of white, American males as violent, gun happy criminals.

But the facts, here, tell a different story.  Immigrants of all races, both legal and illegal, have killed at least 635 and wounded at least 2,160 as of December, 2017.  And that doesn’t even count the 3,000 killed and over 6,000 injured in the September 11 attacks.  But these facts are often concealed in the coverage of these immigrant crimes because the main stream media usually doesn’t even talk about these attributes of the culprit. Unless he’s a white, American male.

So, is it atrocious when a white, American male is involved in one of these horrific crimes? Absolutely.  But it’s every bit as bad when the criminal is an immigrant, regardless of his race.  And if it’s relevant that some of these crazed criminals are white, American males, then the ethnicity and immigration status of the the culprit should be relevant and reported in all cases.

Compared To What, Realistically, Can Be Done

I live within a few miles of where the Columbine High School massacre occurred.  The body count in that tragedy left 15 dead (including the 2 perpetrators) and 24 wounded.  The Superintendent of that school district, Jason Glass, knows all too well the suffering caused by these crimes. Since the Florida shooting, he has weighed in on school safety with some ideas worth paying attention to.

First, he doesn’t believe that more restrictive gun control laws or arming teachers will get any more traction this time than it has after the numerous, previous incidents of this kind.  Thus, he doesn’t believe we should waste energy on the politically impossible.  And, that, instead, we should focus on the politically possible.

Superintendent Glass thinks the following are possible:

  • Putting trained, armed law enforcement officers in every school.
  • Increase funding for school mental health services.
  • Redesign schools to be more like airports, stadiums, and other public facilities, so that access is better controlled.
  • Create a federally funded center to study school safety and security.

I think three of the four of these ideas make sense.  I’m opposed, however, to turning the problem over to the federal government-even the funding.  If the feds fund school safety research, it will almost certainly try to impose a “one size fits all” solution.  When I was in the legislature, I learned that the “golden rule” rigidly applies to federal funding:  he who has the gold, makes the rules. Colorado isn’t California or North Dakota or New York or Alaska. We’re smart enough to come up with a solution that works for Colorado; keep the feds out of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Not Left Or Right

male refugees floating in by boatIt’s Globalist Or Nationalist

My sister, to put it mildly, is well traveled.  Throw a dart at the globe, and there’s a good chance that, on one trip or another, she’s been there.  Or, at least, on that continent.

While I’ve been out of the country a few times, I’m pretty much a home body.  That gives us a different perspective on things.

It’s also true that, politically speaking, she comes down to the left of me.  Which isn’t too surprising, since I fall somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun.  Our political  discussions can be contentious.  On more than one occasion, I’ve stated my resolve that “We just shouldn’t talk politics.”  She responds, “You’re right.”  And, don’t you know, next time we’re together, we’re back at it.

One of the issues that has been a regular bone of contention is immigration.  We’ve emailed articles and links to websites back and forth trying to drive home our points.  All to little avail.

But she gave me an article from a recent edition of The New Yorker during our last visit that made an impression on me.  It’s entitled, You Will Not Replace Us.” The European thinkers behind the white-nationalist rallying cry” by Thomas Chatterton Williams.  I’ve got to hand it to my sister, it’s definitely worth a read.  And, I must confess, goes a good way toward proving her contention that she’s more open minded than I am.  Which, again, isn’t too surprising, since when it comes to immigration, I can pretty much look through a knot hole with both eyes open.

The line in the article that really jumped out at me appears near the end when the author turns his attention from Europe to the United States:  “And yet the country has nonetheless arrived at a moment when once unmentionable ideas have gone mainstream, and the most important political division is no longer between left and right but between globalist and nationalist.”

Coming from an historically leftist publication that’s produced in a city that has represented the belly of the leftist beast, this is a remarkable concession.  Politically speaking, it’s the equivalent of a tectonic shift in earth’s crust in the blink of an eye.

But consider.  Running on a decidedly nationalistic platform, Trump’s resounding victory confounded everyone:  the Republican establishment; Hillary still hasn’t resigned herself to it; the mainstream media remains in a state of dazed disbelief; the pollsters missed it by a mile.

The Brexit vote was equally unexpected.  And, basically, was also a show down between globalism and nationalism.  And the resentment in the European Union over the heavy handed, “right thinking” globalist bureaucrats in Brussels doesn’t stop with Britain.  A majority of citizens in many European countries support a ban on further immigration from Muslim majority countries: they want their nations back.  In this, they are following the lead of the globalists’ favorite te noire, Donald Trump.

The article quotes at length a leading French philosophe, Bernard-Henri Lévy, who, according to Thomas, “has long embodied elite thinking on the French left.”  With respect to the hordes of impoverished Syrian refugees washing over Europe, Lévy has written, “They are applicants for freedom, lovers of our promised land, our social model, and our values.  They are people who cry out ‘Europe! Europe!'”

At this, Thomas charges Lévy with “blithe cosmopolitanism” when, from his impeccable apartment in an exclusive Parisian neighborhood, the multi-millionaire Lévy dismisses the concerns of average Europeans about the hordes of Muslim refugees descending on the continent.  This callus attitude, continues Thomas, “can fuel resentment toward both intellectuals and immigrants.”  To which I can only add this suggestion for Monsieur Lévy: “Keep it up.”  And so he does; further on in the article, he flatly declares that France “has no refugees.”

The central theme of the article is one originally suggested by the French writer and member of the alt-right, Renaud Camus:  “The Great Replacement is very simple.  You have one people and, in the space of a generation, you have a different people.”  Explains Camus, the replacement is the result of mass immigration and low birth rates among native French people-and other Western countries and peoples.  (Here, by the way, is a thoughtful, non-boogieman manifesto of the alt-right coauthored by a gay, Jewish prankster/bomb thrower and a writer for Breitbart.)

When asked why the notion of the great replacement resonates so widely in so many places, Lévy dismisses it as a “junk idea.”  “The Roman conquest of Gaul,” asserts Lévy, “was a real modification of the population in France.  There was never something like an ethnic French people.”

It’s ironic that Lévy is so dismissive of the possibility of French ethnicity.  Because, as a Jew and a strident proponent of Zionism, he certainly seems to believe that Jewish ethnicity is no “junk idea.”  And, for that matter, that Jewish blood is sufficiently pure to be inextricably linked to the soil of Israel.

In January, 2015 Lévy addressed a meeting of the UN General Assembly on antisemitism in these terms:  “The Jews are detestable because they are supposed to support an evil illegitimate state-this is the anti-Zionist delirium of the merciless adversaries of the reestablishment of the Jews in their historical fatherland.”

This is intriguing language.  Imagine his “delirious” outrage if a member of the alt-right, on the basis of ethnic “purity,” attempted to claim an “historical fatherland” in front of an august body like the UN.  Lévy would be calling for their heads on a platter.  Evidently, only a Zionist is entitled to argue for an “historical fatherland” on the grounds of ethnic purity.  And only Jewish blood is sufficiently pure to save it from being a “junk idea.”

But Lévy, no more than any other disciple of identity politics, can’t have it both ways.  If Jews can press their case on the basis of race or ethnicity, so can blacks, and Hispanics, and Asians.  They do.  And they are.  As the article asserts, this is the new way of the world.  So, why not whites?

Lévy might not like the fact that it’s “no longer left and right, but globalist and nationalist.”  At least, when it comes to Europe and France.  But he, apparently, is perfectly content with the notion that Israel and Zionism and Judiasm represent a near apotheosis of blood and soil.  He better get used to the idea of other groups practicing what he really preaches.  Because it’s coming.

On Pins and Needles

I served on the Health, Insurance, and Environment Committee when I represented Centennial in the Colorado House.  One of the many bills we heard dealt with ear acupuncture.  The testimony, which I initially took with a grain of salt-actually, a truck load of salt-was that sticking pins in the ears of someone suffering from mental illness could effect a cure.  Or at least relieve the symptoms.

But I began to sit up and take notice when the witnesses, including a woman named MK Christian, began talking about the work they were doing at the state mental hospital in Pueblo.  She made it sound as if they were having considerable success.  And, when more conventional, allopathic doctors supported their claims, it really got my attention.  They said it helped the patients sleep better and reduced their dependence on medication.

I am bipolar.  As is fairly typical, I originally manifested the illness as a young adult in my early 20s.  While Churchill’s black dog of depression was my more usual companion, I had bouts of mania as well.  External events often contribute to and exacerbate the mood swings, which was certainly the case with me.

In my early 20s I broke up with a long time girl friend.  I was desperate, suicidal, broken on the rock of my sin.  I wondered into a church and, less than an hour later, came out as a newly minted Christian.  It was as if someone had popped the top of a champaign bottle; I was effervescent.

Unfortunately, a few days later I went on a pheasant hunting trip with my father and some of his friends.  Believe it or not, guns and mania don’t work all that well together.  No one got hurt, but my father, understandably, was deeply concerned with some of my bizarre behavior.  On our return to Denver, my folks had me involuntarily committed.  I was driven to the Mount Airy Psychiatric hospital in the back of a Denver sheriff squad car.

It was, no doubt, the right thing to do.  But I felt like a blood brother to McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  They put me on medication, I was compliant in the “group” sessions, and met with the psychiatrist, Dr. Walker, whose testimony had convinced the probate court to commit me.  But when I got out two weeks later, I’d had enough of the drugs.  And didn’t believe I need more counseling.  In fact, I really thought that it was my parents that should be seeing a shrink.

So, like many in my situation, I quit taking the medication.  And seeing Dr. Walker.

It was a very long and winding road from there to the point when, in my 50s, that I finally was willing to admit I needed help.  It began with another bout of mania that reduced my two wonderful daughters to tears.  Which, predictably, was followed by a visit from the snarling black dog.   But it was still a struggle for my long suffering wife to persuade me to try to find a psychiatrist. Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for my former partner, he had a son with similar, but even more severe problems-so he was able to refer me to a Dr. Jay Carlson.  Smart, with a gentle and yet probing sense of humor, it didn’t take Dr. Carlson long to get me on a course of medication that worked-most of the time.  And which didn’t have too many side effects.

So, by the time that I heard the bill on auricular acupuncture,  I certainly knew enough about the illness to be aware that adequate sleep was an important component to keeping the beast at bay.  When the testimony was over, I found MK in the crowded hallway outside the committee room and asked for her card.

Within a few days I was  in her quaint old Victorian on Franklin Street, laying face down on a table, staring at the floor through a head rest while she kept up a reassuring patter as she put needles in my scalp, ears, neck, back and ankles.  “There,” she said with what I soon learned was characteristic enthusiasm, “that will be a good treatment for you, guy!  Now, you rest!”  With that, she dimmed the lights, put a heat lamp on my feet, and turned on some soothing music on the Bose.

I woke up about an hour later.  I don’t think I was drooling-or snoring-that time.  But I know that on subsequent treatments I have done both.

How does it work?  I have no idea.  I’m not really convinced that MK does either.  My daughter, when she couldn’t get pregnant, was referred to an acupuncturist by one of the high tech, high cost infertility clinics she and her husband had begun seeing.   They got pregnant with acupuncture instead.  And now they have a second little daughter-and this time without any intervention.  One time, I asked MK,  “How does acupuncture help with infertility?”  Her answer?  “I’m not really sure.”

Has acupuncture “cured” my bipolar?  No.  I still take daily medication.  And, especially in the dark days of winter, the black dog can still nip at my heels.  But I do think that it helps me sleep better.

And, by the way, on a wall of her clinic there is a picture of MK looking over the shoulder of Governor Hickenlooper as he signed the auricular acupuncture bill into law.