October 25th, 2014

A certain kind of genius…

…can write a masterpiece within the confines of almost any restriction. Tchaikovsky was just that kind of genius.

He was one of the greatest composers for ballet who ever lived, transforming ballet music from the light and inconsequential into the symphonic and timeless.

From the Boston Ballet website, about the music of “Swan Lake”:

One interesting story that survives illustrates both the power possessed by the dancer and choreographer to dictate musical changes and Tchaikovsky’s in­tegrity and perseverance. In 1877, Anne Sobeshchanskaya made her debut as Odette. She distrusted the original• choreographer, Reisinger, so she went to the great choreographer Petipa and had him choreograph a new pas de deux for her to the music of Ludwig Minkus, for her to perform in Act Ill of Swan Lake. When Tchaikovsky heard of what was about to happen to his ballet score, he stated that whether his ballet was bad or good, he alone would take responsibility for its music. He offered to write a new pas de deux for her. Sobeshchanskaya refused saying she liked the choreography created for her Minkus score and would not change a step. Tchaikovsky then asked her to send him the Minkus score and pro­mised to send her a new pas de deux that would match the structure and form of the Minkus bar for bar, allowing her to per­form Petipa’s choreography to his new pas de deux. She was so pleased with the result that she asked him to write an additional variation. The entire new pas de deux was inserted into Swan Lake and was an im­mediate success.

How Tchaikovsky managed to write something so beautiful under conditions like that is beyond me. But how Tchaikovsky, or any other musical genius, can write music like that at all is also beyond me. But I’m certainly glad he did.

I was in a production of “Swan Lake” as a teenager at a summer camp for the arts long long ago. I still remember the first time we rehearsed with the full orchestra instead of just the piano. It was overwhelming. I actually shed some tears. To stand up on that stage and hear that music—

I could have selected almost any portion of the score to illustrate the point. But I decided on this pas de deux from the second act, where Swan Queen Odette finally overcomes her fear and she and the Prince dance a love duet.

There were many versions I might have chosen, so you might wonder why I put up this slightly blurry one of a live performance during the 70s. It’s Russian defector Natalia Makarova with Ivan Nagy of American Ballet Theater, a duo I saw many times in person, two of the greatest emotional interpreters of the roles. They were an almost perfect pair, delicate and subtle, and Makarova was technically magnificent for her time as well as combining a sense of magical enchantment and spirituality with a human quality. Compared to dancers today, her legs are not raised quite as high, but they are plenty high enough and I prefer that to the more gymnastic style:

Here’s a much more recent version of the same thing, in the more modern style, and the video is nice and clear. She’s a lovely dancer too, but to me too one-dimensional emotionally:

For those of you who have neither the time nor the inclination to watch the whole clip, here’s my favorite part. It highlights the emotional difference between the two couples, I think:

October 25th, 2014

Non-citizen voters

There may be quite a few non-citizen voters, and they may even decide elections in close races.

Why not? It may all be part of the plan.

And it may be harder to control than you might think, even if we had the will to do it. As Jim Geraghty writes:

But this section is fascinating:

“We also find that one of the favorite policies advocated by conservatives to prevent voter fraud appears strikingly ineffective. Nearly three quarters of the non-citizens who indicated they were asked to provide photo identification at the polls claimed to have subsequently voted.”

Is it really that a significant number of illegal immigrants now have a fake photo ID that looks realistic enough to fool voter registration and ballot box authorities? If that’s the case, it’s not really accurate to call them “undocumented immigrants,” now is it? More like “forged document immigrants.” Or is it that the poll workers manning the polling places that day aren’t really bothering to examine the IDs shown to them?

But, as Geraghty also points out, the number of non-citizen voters who were even asked for photo-ID was very small, so it’s not so certain what the effect of voter-ID laws actually would be on the phenomenon of voting by non-citizens.

However, as Hugh Hewitt has said, If it’s not close, they can’t cheat.

[Hat tip: Ace.]

October 25th, 2014

Megan McArdle has a novel idea

Don’t buy a house unless you can afford one.

I’m old enough to remember when that wasn’t a novel idea.

She makes the point that low-down-payment loans only work in a rising housing market, and then when there’s an economic downturn they destabilize the market further because of increased foreclosures. That seems obvious, but lots of things weren’t obvious during the boom years, when housing prices rose so steadily and for so long that people forgot basic economic truths.

I don’t think all that many people remember them even now. As McArdle observes, quite a few think that 2008 was an aberration and the boom years for real estate are the rule.

After all, don’t we all deserve houses?

October 25th, 2014

School shooting in Marysville, Washington

This is terrible:

What he saw was freshman Jaylen Fryberg go up to a table with students, “came up from behind … and fired about six bullets into the backs of them,” Luton told CNN. “They were his friends, so it wasn’t just random.”…

The shooter died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Marysville police spokesman Robb Lamoureux told reporters.

Two girls are in the intensive care unit at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, and two boys are in ICU at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Providence spokeswoman Erin Al-Wazan said.

Three are “very critically ill” with “very serious” injuries, she said. One is in serious condition. One of the boys, age 14, suffered a jaw injury. The other, age 15, was critically injured in the head.

The shooter and his victims are members of the Tulalip tribe, and the two boys mentioned in the above quote are relatives of his:

My grandson and the shooter were best friends,” said the boy’s grandfather, Donald Hatch. “They grew up together and did everything together.”

The girls are not identified, but they were shot in the head and are in critical condition (another girl has died).

This is very different from the typical school shooting. Ordinarily the shooter is some sort of misfit—not always a bullying victim as sometimes thought, but often at least somewhat troubled in a way that was noticeable even prior to the shooting. Fryberg was apparently the opposite—a very popular and seemingly happy young man. He was also quite different in that he targeted a group of friends. I’m not sure, since I haven’t done an exhaustive study of the victims of school shootings, but I believe this is highly irregular and perhaps even singular.

My guess is that he was a sociopath. They often seem likeable, hide their antisocial nature quite well, and would have so little conscience that blowing away a bunch of friends might seem a good idea to them. They also are very difficult to spot, and if that’s the situation here the mental health field would have been of very little use.

[NOTE: By the way However, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the perpetrators in the Columbine massacre, were initially thought to be of the bullied misfit type. However, later research has indicated this was an error or at least an exaggeration, and that they were relatively well-liked. However, they had gotten into trouble with the law, although they fooled even the legal system into thinking they'd learned their lesson and were pretty good kids. Who were their targets? Actually, everyone at the school, and their intent didn't stop there. They were extraordinarily antisocial, nihilistic, and grandiose in their plans, most of which they had kept completely hidden. It was only their journals, read posthumously, that revealed the extent of their pathology and/or evil.]

[ADDENDUM: It's no longer certain that the shooter committed suicide. He may have shot himself accidentally while a teacher was grappling with him---that is, if this report is true. It's very unclear what the situation was.]

October 24th, 2014

And now for something completely different

And I mean completely different: toddler neo-neocon.

I came across these photos while looking for something else. This one has long amused me; I look so pouty! And, as was often the case back then, I’m sporting the off-the-shoulder look.

I think I’ve just turned, or am about to turn, three years old here, and I remember it well, although I have no idea what was annoying me so at that moment. My friend and I had just been given paper umbrellas from abroad (Japan?), and I loved loved loved mine. I thought it was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen, and I wish the photo had been in color.

But the delicate umbrella didn’t last long. It ripped or broke fairly quickly, much to my sorrow (although that hadn’t happened yet in this photo). You can see why one of my mother’s nicknames for me was “sullen cherub”:

parasols1-001

The outfit, on the other hand, was much more sturdy. It lasted until I outgrew it, and even then I tried to save it for a while because I loved it, too. It was a light blue skirt of a fairly heavy material with embroidery, and a white peasant blouse. Both had been brought back from Mexico by my parents, who’d been on a two-week trip there. They’d left a woman in charge of me who scared me, telling me if I was bad they wouldn’t come back. Imagine my relief when they did return, and with the outfit, too, which matched my mother’s!

Mother-daughter outfits—do you ever see them anymore, or have they gone the way of the dodo? As you can see, this one made me very happy. No scowl at all here:

JeanMotherdresses

Is my mother making sure that blouse stays on my shoulder?

[NOTE: Speaking of peasant blouses and the off-the-shoulder look, I think I’ll put this 40s-50s icon up there. Why not attract some traffic?

No, this isn’t me, later:

RussellBlouse

October 24th, 2014

The ebola Maginot Line

I’ve got an article up at PJ about—what else?—our response to ebola. I conceptualize our response as a series of barriers, each of which was breached one by one by one, in ways that were supposed to have been either impossible or highly unlikely.

One little quibble: my original title for the piece was as above, “The Ebola Maginot Line.” A subtitle, “Ebola in US was clearly preventable” was added before publication. But I would say instead that, although it probably was not totally preventable, its entry here might have been prevented with a few commonsense measures and almost certainly could have been delayed. In addition, our response should have been far better.

But none of that makes a good subtitle.

You can comment there or comment here. Better yet, both places!

October 24th, 2014

Thoughts on the current New York City crises: hatchet man, and ebola doctor

I haven’t read much speculation about this, but isn’t it likely that the man who attacked two NYC policemen with a hatchet was trying to behead them, and missed? And then was shot by the other police before he got a chance to take better aim?

As for Dr. Craig Spencer, I fault the CDC primarily for not requiring strict quarantine on medical personnel returning from Africa, and on Doctors Without Borders as well, even more than I fault the doctor himself. He was doing what he was told, monitoring his temperature. Until his temperature elevated, according to the guidelines, he was allowed to go about his business.

I’ve said many times I think that people should act with more caution and quarantine themselves for 21 days, and I also blame Dr. Spencer for not doing that. But until the CDC makes them do it, they’re not going to for the most part. Because ebola patients are only considered contagious when they develop symptoms, and because the first symptom is usually temperature elevation, there is probably a very low chance of anyone (including his girlfriend) actually having caught ebola from Dr. Spencer.

But why on earth take the chance? Because the chance is not zero, and the stakes are very very high. Low probability, but high risk in that sense. It does not seem that much of a hardship to quarantine, and certainly health care professionals ought to understand. If a person is willing to take the time and make the effort to go work in Africa during this epidemic, why wouldn’t he/she be willing to relax in relative seclusion for 21 days afterward, to avoid any risk to his/her own country, the expense of contact tracing, and the anxiety to millions of people?

It also occurs to me that, as Nina Pham and Amber Vinson recover, they will be able to donate plasma too, if they wish. Pham has the same blood type as Dr. Brantly, but Amber Vinson has a different blood type (if I recall correctly, she was unable to get a transfusion from him, unlike Pham), and that will expand the possibilities for transfusion for future cases. And, as more and more survivors emerge from this mess, more transfusions will be possible. (Trying to look on the bright side, here; I know there’s a pony somewhere.)

Next, we have some New York City humor. This one’s not a joke; it’s a real quote:

Meanwhile, Robert Cedano, the super in Spencer’s building, said firefighters took the doctor’s door off its hinges when they removed him.

“Oh, lovely,” said Brooke Christensen, who lives in the building, after learning about her neighbor.

“I’m not concerned,” she said. “I’ve had no fluid exchanges with my neighbors.”

Also:

The CDC and the politicians keep reassuring us that there’s no danger. But with their track record, why would anyone believe a thing they say about ebola at this point?

As I’ve already written, I actually don’t think anyone will catch ebola from Dr. Spencer. But I don’t believe that because Frieden or the Mayor or the Governor of New York told me so. Yes, I actually believe that health authorities around the world are most likely correct that ebola is hard to catch except through direct contact with body fluids in the later stages of disease. But I also am encouraged to believe it because I have observed the pattern of contagion in this country so far, and the only people who have caught it here have been health care workers who attended patients in later stages (even though those workers were wearing protective gear). No one else—even family members of Thomas Eric Duncan, who were exposed without protection when he was far sicker than Dr. Spencer is—has gotten it. That indicates to me that the disease’s contagiousness starts very low and rises quickly and exponentially but certainly not immediately.

I realize, of course, that we’re dealing with a very small “n” here, but it’s a very encouraging trend that backs up the idea that casual contact in early stages is not going to spread the disease.

We’re getting a chance to see, I guess. A real-world experiment, one I wish we were not experiencing.

October 23rd, 2014

[See UPDATES] Hope…

this turns out to be a false alarm.

But it’s apparent that more and more of these suspicious cases are occurring on our soil, and sooner or later it stands to reason some of them will turn out to be ebola.

It’s also been apparent for quite some time that caring for an ebola patient is a very dangerous activity, even with what we regard as full protection.

UPDATE 9 PM: The patient has tested positive. Press conference pending.

That is very bad news. The only silver lining would be if this new case spurred the government to institute more commonsense rules about travel and quarantine.

In further dreadful news, a man in NY attacked a group of NYC policemen with a hatchet. Two are wounded, one in critical condition. The man was shot dead, and a woman bystander injured.

Not much has been said about the attacker yet, including his name. But we can certainly guess at his motives, although there are enough garden-variety lunatics to go around, too.

UPDATE 9:07: Very preliminary reports are that his Facebook page supports jihad.

UPDATE 9:15: I have long expected smaller attacks like this in the US. I was puzzled right after 9/11 that there were not more of them. Al Qaeda seems to have preferred the grand gesture. Now the idea is many small gestures to sow seeds of widespread fear, and to use anyone as a vehicle for it—crazy freelancers are just fine.

October 23rd, 2014

Republicans vs. Democrats: does it even matter?

Commenter “George Pal” started a discussion yesterday with this remark in the “voter fraud” thread:

Reason #1016 NOT to vote: a corrupt government with gin trap election procedures. Participating in pretense legitimates the pretense. The system, the procedures, become more dishonest than the simple ways of voter fraud such as stuffing ballot boxes. Ultimately, people get not what they vote for but what they will stand for – Brave New America.

I replied rather briefly:

That makes zero sense for a conservative. Zero.

All not voting does is allow the fraud more chance of working, and empower and elect those who would perpetuate and extend it.

Others joined in, such as commenter “parker:

Not every gop candidate will be a Palin, Cruz, or a Gowdy. And yes, there are many big government gops. However, you need to consider SCOTUS appointments and treaties, plus allowing house legislation to come up for debate in the senate. I agree the country is destined for a big fall. I am concerned with the height of the fall. I’ll take 20 feet over 200 any day.

To which George Pal replied:

I have considered SCOTUS and recall Bush appointed the reprehensible John Roberts. Taking into consideration all the other disastrous appointments made by Republican presidents I don’t consider such considerations as worthwhile. As to the House, have they not, by and large, talked like Patton but rubber stamped like good commissars – even if only by silent acquiescence? And finally, 20 feet or 200 – makes no difference to once fine crystal.

There was quite a bit of additional back-and-forth around this, although I didn’t participate except for that single short comment. One of the reasons is that I’ve had this argument already so many times with so many people going back so many years. It’s not only tedious and repetitive, but those taking the George Pal position usually seem quite unpersuadable. They are nothing if not confident of the rightness of their position.

But why do I bother? It’s not because I have some special beef with George Pal, it’s because attitudes such as his seem widespread among so many on the right (at least, among those who comment on right-wing blogs), and I think they represent a profoundly destructive and also illogical point of view.

So here I go again. And although these comments take off from what George Pal wrote, they’re not meant to refer exclusively or even primarily to him.

It’s an old, old battle, older even than our country. Let’s just say (at the risk of going all literary on you) that I think this argument is a subset of the dichotomy represented in Don Quixote by the Don and Sancho Panza. Lest you wonder, I consider my side the Sancho side.

However, the GP world is as much a fantasy world as the one the Don lived in. My questions about the actual real-world consequences of such attitudes and the actions based on them have never been answered except for some version of “because the parties are not different enough for my tastes, they’re exactly the same and so it doesn’t matter who you vote for,” and/or “if we let liberals be elected, eventually it will drive people towards conservatism.”

I’ve already responded to that second claim at some length here as well as here. I’m not going to recap in this post, but suffice to say that my opinion is that it’s not the most likely result at all, and that people espousing that point of view (and I have no idea whether that’s George Pal’s reasoning, although it’s the reasoning of many) gravely underestimate the way the left operates with power, and how easy it would be to fight and defeat them once they are even more entrenched in power. Such a viewpoint, to me, is just another version of what Orwell once said about left-wing thought: that it’s a “kind of playing with fire by people who don’t even know that fire is hot.”

But let’s get back to some of the specifics of George Pal’s point of view. He cannot forget that “Bush appointed the reprehensible John Roberts,” and goes on to say “Taking into consideration all the other disastrous appointments made by Republican presidents I don’t consider such considerations [the notion that SCOTUS appointments by Republicans would be better than those by Democrats] as worthwhile.”

What an extraordinary statement, and one which is all too typical. GP takes into consideration all the other “disastrous” appointments made by all Republican presidents. What about the good ones? What is the ratio of the first group to the second? Because without that, the argument is meaningless or absurd.

I would imagine that GP would included Earl Warren and David Souter in the “disastrous” camp. Perhaps there are others—oh, no doubt there are others—but the numbers pale in comparison to the conservative justices that have been appointed by Republican presidents.

So, we have had a few justices who were originally thought to be more conservative than they actually have later revealed themselves to be. Some (Warren, for example) even turned into outright—and quite influential—liberals. We’re all disappointed; I get that. And it seems (although I haven’t done an exhaustive study on this) that it doesn’t happen that way with liberal appointments all that much; they remain reliably liberal, and don’t turn conservative. But because a few Republican appointments haven’t worked out (although Roberts, by the way, certainly has voted with the conservatives on many occasions), here’s a great idea: let’s have none! Let’s have 100% liberal judges—because that’s what you’ll get if you go the GP route.

Ah, how wonderfully principled. That will get us where we want to go. And people defend themselves by saying that this is not some sort of self-indulgent, unrealistic perfectionism? I beg to differ.

To go into a bit more detail—right now the composition of SCOTUS is such that many important votes are decided 5-4, sometimes for the liberal side and sometimes for the conservative side. I haven’t done a study of how often it’s one way or the other, but for the purposes of this discussion it’s irrelevant, because my other point is that some of those justices are getting old and will probably retire soon. If just one of the liberals retires, the next president gets to choose his/her successor. If the next president is a Republican, the chance of that justice voting with the conservatives to create a conservative majority is very high (not 100%, but very high indeed), and the Court becomes a reliably conservative one. And if two liberal justices retire under a Republican president, so much the better.

However there is almost no doubt that if a conservative justice retires under a Democratic president, his/her replacement is just about 100% certain to be liberal, and the Court becomes reliably liberal. They would preside over the unleashing of the power of the left to a much greater degree. A conservative Court would at least hold the line against the tsunami of the left (and by the way, this doesn’t just affect SCOTUS, it affects all the federal courts and appointments to them). It might even actually reverse some trends in that direction, and protect our liberties to fight another day.

Now, the George Pals of the world may say they don’t care. They may say (and I know I’m putting words in his mouth, but I’m speaking of the group in general rather than him in particular) that even with a conservative court it wouldn’t matter enough to stop anything important, and that they don’t even care about slowing it down. They say it’s best (or the same) to just let the whole thing go to pieces quickly, and they usually assume that nothing but the rise of a conservative third party is good enough. They are ready to dismiss any idea of incremental change in favor of the grand gesture that makes them feel good, oh-so-superior to the rest of us compromising fools.

It’s a grandiose vision they have, in which they are the principled vanguard of a better world to come. And if not that, they’re at least the ones who saw the coming disaster clearly and weren’t fooled by the hypocritical Republicans who have disappointed them so many times before, and whom they wish to punish.

October 23rd, 2014

The unguarded government

Something about the fact that Canada’s national government buildings had surprisingly lax security rang a bell.

This was the sound of the bell:

The commission said key public buildings had to be better secured and that the Norwegian National Security Authority should start supervising these measures. It noted the need [after the Breivik attack] for a more-robust helicopter service and called for the introduction of better communication systems for emergency services.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said the government would launch a thorough review of the police, adding that the commission had uncovered significant weaknesses.

A debate about Norway’s security has until now largely been postponed in anticipation of the commission’s investigation. More than a year after the attack, key buildings such as the Norwegian Parliament have no car bomb protection, despite repeated complaints from several members of Parliament.

In contrast to the Parliament building, the U.S. Embassy in Oslo, about 800 meters away, is a heavily fortified structure with steel fences and armed guards on the outside.

The Norwegian Parliament had been choosing a softer strategy, with security personnel chasing away illegally parked cars.

What is it about countries that think if they don’t prepare, if they project a kinder, gentler face, it won’t happen there? I’d love to still live in the 1950s in that respect, too. But it just isn’t appropriate any more, unless you want to be sitting ducks.

[NOTE: Also, see this article I wrote about Norway's lack of preparedness for violence in general.]

October 23rd, 2014

More on the Canadian Parliament shooting

Facts I’ve either read or heard today:

(1) A friend of the shooter reports that a few years ago:

“We were having a conversation in a kitchen, and I don’t know how he worded it. He said the devil is after him,” Bathurst told the CBC. “I think he must have been mentally ill.”

That seems extremely weak evidence, however, especially in a person who has recently converted to or is considering converting to a religion such as Islam. In Islam the devil, whose “primary characteristic…[is] hubris,…has no power other than the power to cast evil suggestions into humans and jinn, although the Quran mentions appointing jinn to assist those who are far from God in a general context.” So the shooter’s speaking the way Bathurst reports would not necessarily be a sign of mental illness.

(2) I repeat my question of yesterday: if Zehaf-Bibeau, the shooter, and Couture-Rouleau, a Quebec man who on Monday had run down two soldiers with his car, were both on watch lists and had had their passports revoked for planning trips to Muslim countries to join militant jihadists, why on earth were neither actually watched more carefully? It’s not as though blocking a jihadi from trips abroad is going to defuse his desire to fight you, it just will keep it local. And ISIS had called for attacks on the military. These two incidents should have been easy to predict, not just in general but in particular regarding both of these perpetrators.

(3) I haven’t seen an article about this, but I heard a Canadian commentator on Fox (unfortunately I didn’t catch his name) describe the shooting in more detail, particularly what occurred inside the building. He said that the way Zehaf-Bibeau entered the Parliament building was through a back door with lax security, although the front entrance has pretty good security. The back door is the way MPs usually exit. I imagine that Zehaf-Bibeau must have known about the lax security there and entered that way for that reason. There are guards at the exit but they are unarmed. So the shooter (much like the White House fence jumper who entered the White House not long ago) was able to get fairly far inside.

However (and this is where it gets really interesting, if this report is true), at the top of a staircase the shooter had to pass by two armed guards. Neither shot him, although they could clearly see he was armed and dangerous. The reason, according to the speaker, was that the hallway was full of schoolchildren finishing up a tour, and the guards were afraid of causing carnage among the schoolchildren (although it seems logical that they might have been even more afraid of the shooter causing carnage among either the schoolchildren or in Parliament itself). At any rate, making a split-second decision, one of the guards grabbed the end of the shooter’s rifle and jerked it downward (perhaps trying to get it away from him?) and was shot, although not fatally. The other doesn’t seem to have done anything; at least not anything effective, and the shooter kept going down the hall.

Zehaf-Bibeau had gotten very close to the entrance of Parliament when sergeant–at-arms Kevin Vickers shot and killed him. Vickers, a former member of the RCMP, has a largely ceremonial role now. He has an office towards the end of the hall near the entrance to the House of Commons, heard the commotion and violence, “grabbed his sidearm” (that’s a quote from the guy being interviewed on Fox), stepped out into the hall, assessed the situation rapidly, and shot Zehaf-Bibeau dead. If not for Vickers and his sidearm (which may have been something he carried as a private citizen rather than in his official capacity?), I am almost certain we’d be reading a different, and much more dreadful, story today.

It is pretty clear that Zehaf-Bibeau wasn’t intent on killing random people; he didn’t fire at the schoolchildren or other visitors. He targeted the soldier at the tomb, and he was going for the government officials. Only Vickers and his sidearm stood in his way.

October 22nd, 2014

Terrorist attack in Canadian Parliament

I was waiting for more information about the terrorist attack in Canada today before writing about it, but I thought I’d offer a quick post so you can comment on it if you like.

It seems to me the new pattern is for Muslims—perhaps especially home-grown Muslim converts—to take up the glorious call of ISIS and free-lance in Western countries and go on a killing spree. This was a bold one:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in an evening address that Canada would not be intimidated by Wednesday’s “brutal and violent attack” in Ottawa, in which an armed attacker shot and fatally wounded a Canadian Forces member at the National War Memorial before being shot dead in Parliament’s Centre Block.

The slain soldier is Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, a reservist from Hamilton.

Moments after Cirillo was shot at his post by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, MPs and other witnesses reported 30 to 50 shots fired inside the main Parliament building.

It was confirmed later the gunman was shot dead inside the building, felled by the House of Commons sergeant-at-arms and RCMP, according to MPs’ accounts.

A few thoughts: the soldier guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was apparently unarmed and therefore a sitting duck (although with a surprise attack, being armed would not necessarily have made a difference). The sergeant-at-arms in the House oF Commons, however, whose role I would have thought merely colorful and ceremonial, was apparently armed, as befitting his title.

I just heard on the news that the suspect, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, had a criminal record. I’m wondering whether this might have been another case of a prison conversion to Islam.

UPDATE:

Bibeau, who was born in 1982, was a convert to Islam and had a history of drug use before he converted, two sources said.

His passport had been confiscated by Canadian authorities when they learned he planned to go fight overseas, a U.S. law enforcement official told CNN’s Susan Candiotti. The official said it was not clear when that happened.

So, did they know he was planning to fight with ISIS or a similar group? And did they just let him go after taking away the passport? Was he not under surveillance?

My prediction is that the left will call this another lone-wolf operation. Certain people such as Zehaf-Bibeau may be acting solo in the actual murders they commit (although there are some reports that Zehaf-Bibeau may have had an accomplice), but they are not alone. They are part of a global movement, and are inspired and encouraged by that movement.

UPDATE 11:04: I’m hearing on Bill O’Reilly from Mark Sutcliffe, a Canadian talk show host, that the Canadian government has almost no security. I find that shocking.

UPDATE 11:17: Several photos of the soldier who was murdered, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24. Heartbreaking, RIP.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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