27 February 2008

Brinks Home Security vs. Real Home Security

I've been watching the Brinks Home Security commercials for a while now and I'm still as annoyed by them as I was when I saw the first one.

They all begin the same way. Somebody in a house is doing something normal, like getting ready for bed or getting dressed. Then somehow those people notice an intruder attempting to break in. The intruder breaks a window, the Brinks alarm goes off and the intruder runs away. The telephone rings... and lo and behold it's the Brinks people ready to send someone to come check it out.

Great commercial for Brinks except that it is completely unrealistic. Why should an intruder run away just because an alarm goes off? Maybe he will run away but there's a real chance that he won't and in fact there's a good chance that he's armed.

Let's figure this out. The window is broken... the Brinks people call... perhaps it is possible to answer the phone and maybe not... it's now approximately three minutes since the window was broken. Three minutes is an incredibly long time... especially when it will take Brinks another few more minutes to contact the police and have them respond. We're looking at least six minutes.

You may ask... six minutes? That's not so bad. Really? Six long minutes where the homeowner is in danger of being hurt or murdered. Six long minutes where the homeowner is completely defenseless and at the mercy of the intruder.

Six minutes is also an optimistic estimate. Ask those people who live in an inner city. While teaching at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan I asked those in my political science classes a simple question. How long did it take for the police to respond to their 911 emergency phone call?

The answer was astounding. 45 minutes or longer... or not at all. Those of us to live in the suburbs don't realize that it is not the police's job to protect us, it is our job to protect ourselves. This is not a condemnation of the police. The police are understaffed and underpaid. They cannot be everywhere as much as we may like them to be.

Rather than realizing that we are responsible for our own personal security we'll call out to the intruder on the front porch who just broke in the front window, "Hey, I just called the police... or Brinks Home Security... they're on their way!" Yup, I see that working.

Obviously you've figured out that I'm speaking about owning a firearm. I need to make clear that just because you have a firearm does not mean that you are necessarily going to fire it. There is the possibility of deterrence. The intruder would prefer not to get himself killed.

I'll give another example regarding the police. A few months ago on a Sunday morning, about 10 in the morning I awoke to the sounds of banging on my front door. I drag myself out of bed to look through my little peephole in the door. I see two police officers, one male and one female, neither one small.

I open the door and ask if I can help them. They tell me that they got a 911 emergency phone call from my apartment. I tell them that I only have a cellphone and that I hadn't called them. The officers radio back to the dispatcher to double check that they're in the right place. They were. It seems that a girl had called for help and I suppose didn't give them/or wasn't able to give them an address. I wished the officers well and they were on their way.

What a scary story. A girl is in trouble and does the right thing... she calls 911. The police do the right thing by responding... but end up at the wrong apartment. What's this poor girl going to do? What are her chances when dealing with this unknown (to me) danger?

Recently I've heard several times some interesting comments against self-defense with either pepper spray or a firearm.

"It may be used against you."

"You may escalate the situation."

"Learn Krav Maga/Karate."

I cannot understand this victim mentality. So it's better to be completely defenseless?! On the off chance that the pepper spray or firearm is used against you - it's better to have absolutely no chance to mount a defense at all?

The second argument "You may escalate the situation" is ridiculous. Who started the whole mess to begin with? Why is the victim the one responsible for the situation?

The third argument "Learn Krav Maga/Karate." Sure, no problem. Reality check. That stuff works in the movies. 200 pound fellow versus 125 pound little ole me (G-d forbid). I don't want to be within an arms length of anyone trying to do me harm. I'm not against learning hand-to-hand self defense, but my life better not be dependent on it.

So back to the Brinks commercial. I like that they're so optimistic about how home security works. The alarm sounds and the intruder runs off into the darkness. Any home security system has to be comprehensive. The alarm can be the first line of defense, but it should not be the last. Whether it be pepper spray or firearms - the homeowner or pedestrian on the street should realize that they themselves are the ones ultimately responsible for their own safety, not the police officer who may or may not show up at the wrong address.

13 February 2008

Time to Buy Danish!

It's getting awfully hard to buy merchandise these days if you buy politically. The Middle East is out of the picture (with their hatred of all that is right and good). China is also out of the picture because of unfair trade practice toward the United States. Unfortunatly, buying American is almost impossible.

Today we, political buyers, have something to celebrate. The Danish. Besides for being good to the Jews during World War II, they have decided to put it all on the line for free speech. 17 Danish newspapers are reprinting the "controvertial" Mohammed cartoon that "sparked" the Muslim riots around the world in 2006.

This is what is being reported:

At least 17 Danish newspapers printed a controversial cartoon of Prophet Mohammed Wednesday, vowing to defend freedom of expression a day after police foiled a murder plot against the cartoonist.

Three of the country's biggest dailies were among those that published the cartoon, which featured the prophet's head with a turban that looked like a bomb with a lit fuse.

The caricature was one of 12 cartoons published in September 2005 by the Jyllands-Posten daily which sparked violent protests in a number of Muslim countries in January and February 2006.

What is fascinating is that if you read carefully - it took from September 2005 when the cartoons were originally published to January and February 2006 when the riots actually began. It took 5 months for the Muslim world to finally get insulted. And when Muslims get insulted we get predictable results.

When the Danish newspapers reprinted the original cartoon (one newspaper printed all twelve), the Muslim community in Denmark had this to say:

Imam Walid Abdul Pedersen, a Protestant who converted to Islam, said: "It's not a good idea to reproduce it and the newspapers could have defended the cartoonist differently, without resorting to provocation."

"It's good to have a dialogue on freedom of expression, but you shouldn't seek out a confrontation from the start," he said.

He said it was possible the reprinting could prompt "negative reactions abroad."

Why do Muslim always have to hint to the threat of violence?

The words: "provocation", "confrontation" and "negative reactions" are all directed toward the newspapers.

Muslims around the world have to clean their own home before getting "insulted" by the world around them. Stop the terrorists in their midst. Stop producing childrens shows that show Jews and the United States as murderers. Stop threatening those who "insult" you. And stop threatening the rest of the world with destruction. That's what needs to happen.

In the meantime, while we wait for the Muslim community to get it's act together, we can support the Danish for standing up and doing the right thing for Western Civilization. Look for the "Made in Denmark" label and buy their products.

04 February 2008

John McCain's Attack on the 1st Amendment

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

John McCain will be unable to honestly take this oath of office. As we've seen through his passage of McCain-Feingold and his attacks on 1st Amendment rights he is incapable to say the words "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution" without chocking.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Let's begin with his attack on the 1st Amendment with McCain-Feingold.

Dissenting Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia called it “a sad day for freedom of speech.” And so it was, because the Court’s decision upholding the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform presages more assaults on our First Amendment rights.

Let’s be clear about what a slim majority of the nation’s highest tribunal approved: The Constitution says “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech,” but Justices Stevens, O’Connor, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer say Congress can legally silence political speech expressed in TV “issue ads” beginning 60 days before a general election and 30 days before a primary.

This is a huge blow to the 1st Amendment. 30-60 days before an election is just when the electorate is starting to pay attention to any issue. Beside for the fact that it has been established that monetary donations are considered "political speech". To limit political speech in any form is detrimental to our democratic system.

Whether we like these "issue ads" are not, they are necessary. Every voter out there has the right to hear about the candidate's position on a topic. These topics range from guns to health care to children's education from both sides of the aisle. In fact, this is not a Democrat or Republican issue... it is an American issue.

There are people who believe that "special interest" groups are bad news. This is a complete misunderstanding of the situation. For example: If I am an older American, while I may be retired, I do not have the time or energy to go to Washington DC to speak to my representative about issues that concern me. Instead I may decide to join the AARP, one of the largest "special interest" groups out there. I pay my annual fee - and they do the work for me. This holds true for all interest groups, no matter the issue.

Democracy is about individuals being involved in governmental affairs. We are no longer in ancient Athens, where Athenians themselves sat on a hill and voted on each issue themselves where it was a direct democracy. The United States is a republic, which means that we are a representative democracy. We send people to Washington to represent us whether as a Representative, Senator or President. In this same way, we send our other representatives - the "special interest" group of our choice to Washington as well.

McCain wants the American people to believe that "special interests" are bad for elections and politics in general. He doesn't doesn't blink an eye when confronted with the little "problem" of the Bill of Rights.

He [Michael Graham] also mentioned my abridgement of First Amendment rights, i.e. talking about campaign finance reform....I know that money corrupts....I would rather have a clean government than one where quote First Amendment rights are being respected, that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I’d rather have the clean government.

By limiting monies going into the electoral process by way of political advertisements he believes that the American citizen is stupid and incapable of making up their own mind about what is good for them. Certainly at the worst, he doesn't believe in upholding the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

An important point of clarification here. The Bill of Rights does not bestow its rights on the American people. These rights are "inalienable" and given to us by G-d. The Bill of Rights codifies and protects these rights from government infringement. The concept of the Bill of Rights was seriously discussed during the Constitutional Convention Debates.

The first consideration that this review suggest, is the omission of a BILL OF RIGHTS, ascertaining and fundamentally establishing those "unalienable and personal rights of men, without the full, free, and secure enjoyment of which there can be no liberty, and over which it is not necessary for a good government to have the control.

Pennsylvania Minority Dec. 18, 1787 (Ketcham 247)

The freedom of press was of concern to a Pennsylvania anti-federalist "Centinel" when analyzing the Constitution before a Bill of Rights was included. We must take his words to heart.

The framers of it [the Constitution], actuated by the true spirit of such a government, which ever abominates and suppresses all free enquiry and discussion, have made no provision for the liberty of the press, that grand palladium of freedom, and scourge of tyrants; but observed a total silence on that head.

"Centinel" Number I Oct. 5, 1787 (Ketcham 236)

The 1st Amendment is not to be trifled with. It is one of the ten building blocks on which this country was founded. The Constitution would not have been accepted without the Bill of Rights.

No Democrat or Republican, or even John McCain has the right to trample of the first of these G-d given rights. These rights do not belong to the government to parcel out to whom they choose. And without a doubt it is certainly not theirs to decide who gets to watch what advertisements on television 30-60 days before an election.

Quotes for the Pennsylvania Minority and "Centinel" are taken from The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Conventional Debates, edited by Ralph Ketcham.