Mark Twain on the statistics of indiscriminate mass shootings in 2015

As the debate over how public policy should respond to mass shootings whips into a heated fury of facts, figures, statistics and memes, I can’t help but remember Mark Twain’s insight on the media: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” The last few days have seen a proliferation of examples of this. You’ve heard, repeated ad nauseam, that we’ve had more mass shootings this year than ever, more even than there are days in the year! If your internal BS radar doesn’t go off, then…

Don’t do stupid stuff is not a policy, it is a justification

On Sunday, Politico reported that the Obama administration has made a concerted effort over the past several weeks to publicize a new foreign policy doctrine. First reported by the Los Angeles Times in April, and later parroted by both the Chicago Tribune and New York Times, the West Wing’s new foreign policy strategy is: “don’t do stupid stuff” (but, as each of these papers point out, with “stuff” replaced with a four letter expletive). Apparently, we are all supposed to be impressed. The revelation of such a sophomoric, frat-boy attitude…

Itchy Trigger Middle Finger

Two stories. Both involve triggers. In the wacky world of academia, a story was published in the New York Times last week about liberal universities regarding the content of course material. The letters (RE: manifestos) were sent by student organizations (RE: Marxist bullies) asking (RE: or else) professors to consider putting in “trigger warnings” regarding course readings and materials. The assertion suggests that students who have experienced trauma in their lives might be susceptible to a post-traumatic reaction from reading or viewing anything that may deal with war, poverty, racism,…

Dark Money, From the NYT to Utah County

“Dark money” put Utah on the front page of the  New York Times. Utah found itself receiving prominent mention on the front page of the print edition of the New York Times for the recently released Utah House report on John Swallow. Calling it a “nightmare scenario,” the Times described “dark money” like this: A candidate colludes with wealthy corporate backers and promises to defend their interests if elected. The companies spend heavily to elect the candidate, but hide the money by funneling it through a nonprofit group. And the main…