Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Rand Simberg Weighs in on the O'Reilly Controversy

I can't compete with that. Go read it. Now.

(Nod to the Blogfather for the link. Who else?)
Another Opportunity for Free Enterprise and the Internet

JoinTogether.org continues to be an unending font of material for me. In this piece they report that More Newspapers Banning Gun Classifieds. This happened here in Tucson a couple of years ago. The result? UsedGunsTucson.com, a web-based classified system for people buying and selling their firearms privately. At no cost, mind you. This guy runs the site on his own dime. And I've used it. It works quite well.

I hope others establish sites like this to replace their newspaper classifieds.
"...they know [guns] are trouble and anytime there is one around, someone is going to get hurt."

That quote from this San Francisco Bay Guardian column on the local chapter of the Pink Pistols who are trying to get San Francisco's CCW permit process changed. According to the article there are only "five permits issued to non-law enforcement personnel in the city." Five. And you can bet they're either celebrities or government officials. Mere peons need not apply. And, of course, the header of the section on this push is entitled "Licensed to kill".

Here's the whole quote:
"This is an antigun city, and I'm proud to say that our District Attorney's Office has the highest gun-prosecution rate of any county in the state," District Attorney Terence Hallinan said. "San Franciscans don't like guns; they know [guns] are trouble and anytime there is one around, someone is going to get hurt."
Yeah, all those armed police officers sure are dangerous.

The article does get in this excellent zinger:
In California it's up to the discretion of the chief law enforcement agency in each county to grant a CCW permit. Evidently Marin County is lenient about CCW permits, as it issued one to actor and resident Sean Penn, who recently made the news when his car was stolen, along with two of his handguns, when he was in Berkeley. It is no secret that Penn has been convicted of assault and domestic violence, a history that would normally disqualify any applicant from permission to carry a concealed weapon.
But he's not a peon - he's one of the priviledged class.

And, of course, there's this inevitable question that comes up every time "shall-issue" is mentioned:
What would be the implications if more people were issued CCW permits in San Francisco? Would there be shoot-outs over parking spaces and taxis? Would queer bashing decrease but homicides by queers increase? Will there be a day when you'll have to check your gun at the bar, like in San Francisco of 150 years ago?
At least the author answers that question - "Not likely" he says.
I Think He'll be Charged with "Assault with a Deadly Weapon."

Nod to Acidman for the pointer.
Business Owner Chases, Runs Over Robbery Suspects In Hummer

A business owner in Phoenix, Arizona took matters into his own hands after a group of men robbed his business, according to a Local 6 News report.

Police say three armed suspects walked into the Mr. Insurance building in Phoenix and demanded money. A fourth suspect was in the getaway car, according to the report.

Investigators said after the suspects left with the store's money, the co-owner jumped into his Hummer and chased after the suspects.

Police said that the man, identified only as Peter, followed the suspects through a neighborhood and eventually caught up with them. He then rolled his Hummer over their car.

Two of the suspects were taken to the hospital in critical condition.

The two other suspects managed to get away but police later caught them as well.
I don't think he can claim self-defense here. The attached poll is running 85% against charging him, though. I'd like to be on that grand jury.

Man, the Hummer did a job on that car.


You can bet it wasn't an H2.
Just Googling Around, and I Find This:

From the Timberjay News in Minnesota, comes this little op-ed (I don't know how long the link will be valid - I suspect only one day) entitled: "Public's fear the biggest issue with concealed carry law"

Why, yes indeed, that is the biggest issue. And that fear is well fed by the gun-phobic groups and by the media. But the part of the editorial that really grabbed my attention was this:
Whether they are used or not, guns are intimidating to many people - and with good reason. Police officers carry guns and most never use them. But the presence of the gun is a reminder to the public that they have the ability to use deadly force if needed - and the intimidation factor that provides gives police officers an upper hand over the rest of us.
That's quite correct - government is essentially exercised through the threat of force against its citizenry. But it continues:
That’s acceptable when they are highly trained and their job is to enforce the law and keep the peace. But statewide polls have already demonstrated that the idea of the average Joe walking around with the same intimidating firearms isn’t appealing to most Minnesotans.
And why is that? Because most people have been taught that defending yourself isn't your job - it's the job of the state. You aren't "highly trained" or qualified to do that job. Leave it to the experts. The column continues, though, with this:
Are such fears irrational? Perhaps. The data is far from clear on the point, despite the rhetoric of supporters.
The data is far from clear??? We've got data from 35 states dating back years that proves "such fears irrational."

The piece concludes:
In the end, this debate isn’t really about guns—it’s about fear and public perception. And as public officials and polls around the state have been stating loudly and clearly, this new law will make more Minnesotans feel fearful, while offering an ineffective security blanket to a very small minority. Some of that fear will likely dissipate over time. Five years from now, many people will probably have forgotten about this and moved on to worry about something else. And as one letter writer pointed out, most people will stop carrying guns once the novelty wears off and they realize it’s mostly just an unnecessary burden.

But for now, it has increased the public’s fear in Minnesota, whether justified or not. Does that serve the overall public good? It’s hard to argue that it does.
If the strongest argument you can make against concealed carry is that it inspires a little temporary fear in the brainwashed populace, then please explain to me why fifteen states still don't offer "shall-issue" - 'cause that's a piss-poor excuse.
Eugene Volohk Fisks the "Guns in the Home = Risk" Meme

And well. In a National Review Online column today, Professor Volokh fisks a recent repeat of this nugget of half-truth that gets repeated as often as "thirteen kids a day" does.
What the University of Pennsylvania study found was a statistical correlation: Gun ownership is correlated with gun deaths. But that two things are correlated doesn't prove that one causes the other. The sex-crime rate is correlated over time with the use of air conditioning, but not because air conditioning causes sex crime; rather, both rise during the summer months. Likewise, whether someone in your home has been to the hospital recently is correlated with death in your home, but not because hospital care tends to kill people (though sometimes it does). Rather, both hospital stays and deaths often have a common cause: serious illness.
Logically what they are practicing is the fallacy of post hoc, ergo propter hoc - "after this, therefore because of this" - and it doesn't work that way, as he deftly illustrates. But here's the money quote, and the thing I find so angering about "studies" of this type:
Unfortunately, this is how conventional wisdom is molded. A badly flawed study leads to an even more flawed New York Times article. Readers read it and say "Wow, it's dangerous for me to own a gun" — or "Since guns endanger even their owners, there's really no reason to keep them legal." Precisely because the study seems so authoritative, so scientific, it's likely to be influential, even when it's misdesigned and misreported. And this is especially so when these flaws are repeated in study after study, as they have routinely been in the gun debate. Bad social science leads to bad legal policy.
Amen.

His piece concludes with a comment on the suggestion that medical professionals should make recommendations to their patients:
Finally, the study concludes with a recommendation to the medical profession: Physicians should "discuss with all patients" "the consequences of having access to guns." But "discussions" are only helpful if the physician actually knows what he's talking about. Many physicians have little personal knowledge about guns, and haven't read the rebuttals to these studies. If they start spreading this erroneous information to their patients, the results won't be good either for the patients or for the reputation of the medical profession.
They're way ahead of the curve on this one, Professor. Just look below at my post "This is the Kind of Thing That REALLY IRRITATES ME!"


I Can SEE!

Back from the eye doctor a couple of hours ago. My pupils are starting to come back down (very freaky having vampire eyes). So now I can read the computer screen.

Man, I missed some stuff.

Monday, June 16, 2003

This Concludes the Blogging for Today

I'm going to load some ammo.

Blogging will be light tomorrow, as I have an appointment with my opthalmologist, and she's going to dialate my pupils and practice Chinese Light Torture photograph my retinas, and do other things to and with my eyes. As a result, I won't be able to see very well for a few hours.

Have a pleasant evening.

Leave a comment, if you would.
Steven Den Beste Weighs In On Europe's Proposed "Right of Reply"

In which he states again that the EU is being set up as a benevolent dictatorship. For now.

Rachel Lucas weighs in on the topic, too.

I predict this is going to get ugly in a few years or less.

This always reminds me of the (possibly apocryphal) 18th Century quotation from Sir Alexander Frasier Tytler:
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury. From that time on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the results that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world's great civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence:

from bondage to spiritual faith;
from spiritual faith to great courage;
from courage to liberty;
from liberty to abundance;
from abundance to selfishness;
from selfishness to complacency;
from complacency to apathy;
from apathy to dependency;
from dependency back again to bondage.
I think the Europeans are just a bit ahead of us on the curve. They've hit "dependency" and are about to descend - voluntarily - back into bondage.
On a More Serious Note,

In relation to the Doctors for the Reduction of Handgun Injury piece below, comes this link from Prof. Volokh concerning a 52 year-old woman who used instructions she found on the internet to take her own life. Now St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce wants to prosecute the provider of that information for voluntary manslaughter.

Where do these people get law degrees?

Ms. Joyce believes that the suicide victim would not have killed herself if she hadn't found that information. What planet is she from? She'd have found some way to end her life, if that's what she'd decided to do. As I noted, 29,350 people offed themselves in the U.S. in 1999. Women don't use a firearm as much as men do. The tend to use asphyxiation or poisoning, generally by drug overdose. This woman could have just as easily used the Japanese method of throwing herself in front of a train.

Question to Ms. Joyce: What if this information had been printed in a novel?

I'm quite tired of the government trying to protect us from ourselves.
Department of "What the Hell Were They THINKING?"!

Thanks to some sharp-eyes over at AR15.com, I found this extremely humorous link.

It would appear that someone at Mattel wasn't thinking when they created the Harry Potter Nimbus 2000 Broomstick toy. Then again, maybe they were...and they should be investigated.

It appears that the toy is extremely popular with the young ladies.Bzzzzz......

Oh, and Amazon no longer carries the item for some reason....

(I predict a comment from the Reverend Falwell on the pernicious evil of making witchcraft into childs-play after this hits general circulation.)

UPDATE: Get your pre-ban's at ebay! It went for $51! I'm sure she'll really enjoy it!
No More Guns In Church! - Followup

Kim du Toit provides the link to the followup on this story.
Big Lake pastor to stand trial in killing of chapel intruders
GRAND JURY: Mielke indicted on charges of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide
Had this happened in Texas, no charges would have been filed. Note the money quote:
The location of the men's wounds probably swayed the jury, as did the distance between the chapel and Mielke's home and the fact that the pastor chose to confront the men rather than call 911, Kalytiak said.
Yup. Depend on the State. They'll show up after a while and take a report.

I bet the spree of church break-ins has stopped.
I Can't IMAGINE Why No One Has Interviewed BILL on Hill's New Book!



The artist is Steve Benson of the (Phoenix) Arizona Republic.
"We Come from Hearty Stock" - or - Our Ancestors Said: "Fuck You, We'll Leave!"

Mrs. du Toit has an excellent essay up on the kind of people who came to America - the ruly, unrepentant non-conformists.

What the hell happened to us?

I've said before that when a society becomes too restrictive, then the individualists will head for the new frontier. Unfortunately we no longer have much of a new frontier.

We'd better figure out a way to exploit space, and soon. I hate to think what will happen when the pressure builds up because there's no longer a safety valve.
The Sun May Have Set, But Some Brits Still Have A Pair

Also from Samizdata comes this story of Geoff Bean an unrepentant and belligerent Brit who has no patience with government bureaucrats. Here's part of what he wrote to his government:
Were I a one-legged homosexual Afghan refugee/terrorist living on the welfare state, you and your ilk would not dare write in such a manner for fear of having all the human rights lawyers in creation round your necks, but as you are speaking to an honest, hard-working and overstressed Englishman, you appear to think you can behave like all too many of the vast and ever-increasing army of totally useless, non-productive, arrogant and bloody-minded officialdom, who are now only too successfully doing more damage to this once great and free nation than was ever achieved by Adolf Hitler.
That's the kind of attitude we need more of here before we become more like there. Go read it.

Buy that man a beer!
Socialized Medicine - Equally Bad Care for All

Samizdata reports on the status of socialized medicine in England - this time in how it relates to soldiers injured in service.

Seems that if you were injured and need to see a specialist or require surgery, you get to wait six months to a year to see a government-paid doctor.

Or you can get it taken care of expeditiously if you want to pay for it yourself.

"I'm sorry leftenant, but that mine fairly mangled your foot. We can have it off and get you fitted for a prosthetic in, oh, eight months. What? What do you do until then? Well, here's a prescription for painkillers, and stay off that...foot. Eh wot?"

Remember Hillarycare? With that plan you couldn't pay for it yourself.
Lileks on the Wellstone Assassination Theorists
“Before you write me off as a crank . . . ” - ink’s dry, sir. Ink’s dry. “. . let me ask you a simple question. Do you know what caused the crash?” I’m guessing gravity had something to do with it. “If you don’t know, then how can you know that I am wrong?” He’s got me there. I also don’t know why the shuttle crashed, which is why I cannot rule out the possibility that Romulan warbirds fired their disruptors as the ship began its descent. But I suspect you are wrong about this, because you are wrong about nearly everything else. Want proof? Mr. Fetzer’s U of M website links to his other sites, assassinationscience.com and assassinationresearch.com.

As the saying goes: when all you have is an assassination-related URL, everything looks like a covert hit.
Oh, and Lileks also assassinates some ants. Good read.


At Home, I Have this Large Gun...



Day by Day

(I hope everyone had a nice Father's Day. I did!)

Saturday, June 14, 2003

More Control Loop Feedback from the Blogosphere

Mr. Harris over at Ipse Dixit has an excellent analysis and disassembly of Michael Kinsley's latest Slate piece, "Return of the Class War". This is why I loved reading his stuff back on Themestream and why I'm happy to find him still writing. An excerpt:
Gaze, my friends, at the living, beating heart of the Left. Here, in its natural habitat (an op-ed in an elitist, left-leaning publication), is the very essence of liberalism: The care and feeding of envy. No-one is wealthy but that they were blessed by "the luck of the draw." Capitalism in America is a massive, US$10 trillion lottery in which the lucky few get to drive Rolls-Royces while the rest of us toil and sweat to make their lives of ease and idleness possible. But they accept this dreary lot because - hey! who knows? - maybe one day they'll get the lucky hand and be given a key to the secret inner kingdom.

The facts: 80% of American millionaires are self-made. The average American millionaire earns US$150,000/year and drives a Ford. He lives modestly and saves 15% of what he earns. But you'd never know that reading to this quasi-Marxist pabulum.
Go read every damned word.

Oh, and I happen to work for two of those 80-percenters. In 1981 they risked everything they had to build a company - the company I've worked for the last 17 years, and that pays me a pretty damned good salary. I don't begrudge them their money at all. They busted their asses for it, and I helped them get where they are.

And if I want to take the risk they did, perhaps in ten or fifteen years I too can have the kind of income they draw now. This is America - land of opportunity, not the land of handouts.
The Sun Has Set on the British Empire

Emperor Misha has this post about the current status of English farmer Tony Martin, who was convicted for shooting two burglars in his home.

I've written about Martin before, as I studied what was available in detail during his trial. Unlike many gun-right supporters, I have said that even here (except in Texas, South Carolina, and some other localities) what Mr. Martin did would have put him in jail here, too. He set up an ambush, and he shot the perps with (regardless of how you feel about registration) an unregistered pump-action shotgun. Then he lied to the cops and claimed self-defense. The evidence proved otherwise.

HOWEVER, what's going on over there now doesn't border on the ridicuolous, it goes way over that line.

Go read it and be pissed off.

This is the Kind of Thing That REALLY IRRITATES ME

The organization Doctors Against Handgun Injury has produced a pamphlet that YOUR doctor can give you to help you recognize the dangers of keeping a firearm in your home. It's an Adobe Acrobat PDF file, entitled Is Your Family Safe? It's a two-page tri-fold, made up of little soundbite-sized blurbs of statistics and recommendations. Mixed in with a little reasonably good advice, is a lot of (I believe) intentionally misleading statistics, which I will illustrate here. I'm not going to quote the whole thing, just selected parts.
Why having a gun in the home is a problem
Well! Let's just start off with a blatent assertion! We're doctors, after all, and the only difference between a doctor and God is that God doesn't believe he's a doctor!

Having a gun in the home IS a problem? Not "may be" a problem? Not "can be" a problem? Not "is sometimes" a problem? Only "IS" a problem? When some 40% of households in this country have a firearm in them?

Next:
Doctors treat the victims of gun violence every day. We want to reduce the number of deaths and injuries and prevent you and your family from being a statistic.

• 16,599 Americans used a gun to commit suicide in 1999

While suicidal thoughts may be fairly constant, the decision to act on those thoughts is usually brief – often fading within just a few seconds or minutes. If a gun is available, that is enough time for thought to turn to action.
Ah, yes, the "guns are the cause of suicide" argument. Except they don't tell you some other interesting information. Yes indeed, according to CDC statistics 16,599 Americans did kill themselves with firearms in 1999. Another 12,764 killed themselves by other means. The total number of suicides was 29,350, and the rate per 100,000 population was 10.66.

That puts the United States, with its 200,000,000+ firearms, over 65 MILLION of which are handguns firmly in the MIDDLE OF THE PACK for suicide internationally. If firearms actually cause suicide, then our population should have offed itself a few generations ago. Let's look at some comparitives, shall we?

Japan, a nation with a population of about 126,600,000 in 1999, a little less than half our own, suffered 31,385 suicides - a rate of 24.8 per hundred thousand population. And there are essentially NO privately owned firearms in Japan. Even Japanese police officers leave their firearms at work when they go home. The Japanese kill themselves by asphyxiation (either by hanging or car exhaust) or by jumping off of buildings or in front of moving trains. To be fair, Japan's suicide rates have skyrocketed with their recent economic downturn (it would appear that a bad economy represents a much higher risk of suicide than individual ownership of a firearm.) On average, the suicide rate in Japan has run at about 17 per 100,000. Considerably higher than the U.S. but not more than double.

But most people are aware of the high rate of suicide in Japan, and dismiss it as being "cultural." Are they also aware, however, of the suicide rates in France? According to this CDC report from 1998, France had a suicide rate of 21 per 100,000. Leading method? Suffocation. France is followed closely by Denmark with a suicide rate of 18 per 100,000. Leading method? Pretty much evenly split between suffocation and poisoning.

According to this table, in 1997 of the eleven countries with the top per capita Gross National Products (the US ranks in the middle), the US has the second lowest suicide rate. Only the Netherlands was lower. See the chart:



Yup. All those guns CAUSE suicide. But the pamphlet reinforces this claim:
• 10,828 Americans died in firearm homicides in 1999

The presence of a gun in the home triples the risk of homicide and increases the risk of suicide fivefold.
The source of this assertion? "Suicide in the Home in Relation to Gun Ownership" from the New England Journal of Medicine, August 13, 1992. Primary author? Dr. Arthur Kellermann of Emory University, and staunch defender of thorougly discredited history professor Michael Bellisiles. They were, after all, both professors at Emory, and they are both apparently practicing deliberate mendacity when it comes to firearms statistics.

Dr. Kellermann is also the source of the "43 to 1" claim of guns in the home being more deadly to the occupants than to criminals. The organization Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership (an admittedly biased group) produced this excellent piece: Disarming the Data Doctors: How to Debunk the "Public Health" Basis for "Gun Control" where it disassembled that "study." Kellermann's biased research resulted in Congress pulling $2.6 million from the CDC's budget in 1997 - precisely the amount the CDC had spent on the National Centers for Injury Prevention and Control research into gun-related injury - because of blatant bias in their research. This article by Dr. Miguel Faria on that topic is worth the read. Dr. Faria is Editor-Emeritus of The Medical Sentinel of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons, and a neurosurgeon. This piece entitled "Guns in the Medical Literature - A Failure of Peer Review" by Dr. Edgar A. Suter of the Doctors for Integrity in Research & Public Policy is also a good one.

Pardon me if I take Dr. Kellermann's statistics with a grain pound of salt. I wish everyone would, but with government funding and backing from the CDC and journals such as the NEJM, his numbers are the ones repeated in citation after citation as "fact."

Next:
• 824 Americans died from unintentional firearm incidents during 1999
THIS is the part that REALLY CHAPS MY ASS. Indeed, in 1999 the CDC reports that there were 824 unintentional firearms deaths in the U.S., but associated with this fact comes the line
Research shows that educational programs designed to teach children not to touch guns do not work. If kids find guns, they usually play with them. Such play can quickly turn deadly.
And right next to it, this picture of a toddler reaching into a dresser drawer:
Image server down

Now, what are you to infer from this? That the overwhelming majority of those 824 accidental deaths were that of very young children, no? This is pure propaganda, and it's propaganda that works, as illustrated by my favorite reference, Jean Hanff Korelitz's Salon.com piece "What a few good women can do" from March of 2000:
And what about the more than 4,000 children who die in gun-related accidents each year? That's 11 kids a day. And we're not talking about crimes, or intentional shootings. We're talking -- or not talking enough -- about accidents.
She believes not 824 little kids, but 4,000 die from gun accidents.

Let's look at the facts, as unpleasant as they actually are. In 1999, as the piece says, 824 accidental deaths by gunshot were recorded. But how many of these were children? If you define it as I do as "under the age of 18" then the total number of "children" who died by accidental gunshot wound was 158. If you mean small children, such as the one in the picture - say, under the age of 10? 31. Not 4,000. Not 824. Thirty-one.

Compare that to the number of children under the age of 10 who died by drowning in 1999: 750. The number under the age of 10 who died in bicycle accidents? 81.

But we're told endlessly that they're no longer interested in gun-control any more, but now it's gun-safety they pursue. I'm sorry, but guns are apparently safer than water or bicycles, at least for small children.

Next:
• Firearms are the second leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults

Guns kept in the home can threaten the health and safety of the family, especially if they are not stored securely.
Again, the intention to mislead. Firearms ARE the second leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults. Between the ages of 15 and 24, it isn't accidental death, it's homicide. "Safe storage" doesn't have any effect on that. The third leading cause of death in that age group is suicide, and hopefully I've already covered that topic in sufficient detail.

But here's something really interesting that will undoubtedly get me labled as a racist: Who makes up the overwhelming majority of the homicide victims? In 1999 a total of 4,998 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 (inclusive) died from homicide. Of those, 2,453 were black males - 49%. But black males between the ages of 15 and 24 (inclusive) represent only 7.6% of the population of the US of that age. Read that again - 7.6% of all Americans between the ages of 15 and 24 provide 49% of the victims of homicide by all methods for that age group.

Now, is it a "gun storage" problem, or is it something else?

Finally:
• For every time a gun in the home is used in self-defense, there are 22 criminal, unintentional or intentional self-inflicted shootings

The data suggest that the risks of a gun in the home, especially a handgun, outweigh any benefits.
Source? "Injuries and Deaths due to Firearms in the Home," Journal of Trauma, 1998. Author? Dr. Kellermann again. You think they'd try and find someone else just to be a bit more broad, but you'll notice in the pamphlet that they don't tell you who the author is, just the prestigious journal the "statistic" was published in. This is toned down from his "43 times more likely" claim, but only barely.

Now I ask you, given the statistics provided by the CDC itself, do you think "guns in the home" are the problem?

(Extensive use of the CDC WISQARS tools were used to compile the data in this post.)
I Vote With Her

Another laser-guided strike on being over 40:

Friday, June 13, 2003

Sometimes I REALLY, REALLY Hate Myself

I just spent the last hour and a half working on a killer post, and I just deleted it - BY ACCIDENT.

Rule #1: Back up your work.

Rule #2: See rule #1.

It's too late to generate it again tonight, but rest assured I'll do it tomorrow.

DAMNIT!
Reloader's Alert!

If you reload, especially if you reload military rifle calibers (.223, .308, .30-06 & such) then you might want to look at Widener's, specifically their military surplus pulldown powder. "Pulldown" powder is powder recovered from unfired surplus ammunition. They are apparently having a sale on WCC-844 (equivalent to Hodgdon H335) and WC-846 (equivalent to Hodgdon BL(C)-2). They're selling both for $49 per 8lb. keg, plus freight and hazmat charges. I just bought one of each, and it worked out to $8.25/lb. Considerably better than the $20/lb. plus tax that I pay for the commercial versions here in town. I've seen the same powder elsewhere at $64 per 8lb. keg.

Oh, and that nice group I shot with the Enfield? The powder was WCC-844.

Get it while you can.
The Friday the 13th Five

1. What's one thing you've always wanted to do, but never have?

Shoot a 40x40 in IHMSA competition. Several 39's but no 40's. I guess I choke. (Or the damned turkeys dodge.)

2. When someone asks your opinion about a new haircut/outfit/etc, are you always honest?

"Honey, does this look good on me?" (Translation: "Honey, do you ever want to have sex with me again?") Suuuuurrre. I'm always brutally honest. Right.

3. Have you ever found out something about a friend and then wished you hadn't? What happened?

Not that I can remember.

4. If you could live in any fictional world (from a book/movie/game/etc.) which would it be and why?

The Captain Kirk era of the Star Trek universe seems appealing. Not too PC and merit still counted for something. And pre-holodeck. If I had access to a holodeck, I'd never come out. My wife can attest to this.

5. What's one talent/skill you don't have but always wanted?

A real talent? I'd like to have an excellent singing voice. ANY talent? I'd like to fly like Neo in The Matrix. THAT would be BAD.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

More Time Wasted When They Could be Doing Something USEFUL

JoinTogether has this little nugget about cops wasting valuable man- sorry, person-hours.

N.Y. Police Collect Forgotten Firearms

An initiative by the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department in upstate New York encourages residents to search their attics, basements, and closets for long-forgotten firearms, the Syracuse Post Standard reported June 4.

"Family members who originally have owned the guns could have died and the relatives don't have permits," said sheriff's department spokesman Sgt. John D'Eredita.

To prevent unwanted or forgotten guns from ending up on the streets, law-enforcement agencies are reading obituaries daily to match names with pistol permit holders.
Oh, yeah, I'm sure this is really effective at keeping guns off the streets. People are just waiting for their relatives to die so they can sell their firearms on the black market.

Jeebus.
In addition, the Department of Vital Statistics in Syracuse is including a form letter when it sends out death certificates to encourage surviving family members to contact the sheriff's department if the deceased had weapons.

"I've had more than 500 turned in just in the past three years," said Detective Ray Herrick of the pistol licensing bureau with the sheriff's department. "In that same period of time, there's been another 1,100 I'm trying to track down that belonged to people who have died."
Wow! Five hundred recovered and a whopping 1,100 unaccounted for! In three years! Be still my beating heart! How about doing something about the drug dealers who do a side business out of the trunks of their cars? Think that might be a bit more effective? Or is Onondaga County kinda like Mayberry there, Deputy Fife Detective Herrik? Tell me, did anybody get compensated for this valuable property? Or did they just surrender it to the State, gratis? And is this all you do, or does it cut into the backlog of robbery, rape, and assault investigations you have on your hands? Hm?
Herrick said many of the guns being turned in are loaded, and many family members don't even realize there are bullets inside.
Then don't you think if sex-ed is so important, that gun safety might not be a bad thing to teach?
"It's just crazy out there -- guns under people's beds, in bookcases, linen closets, attics, basements and sometimes there are guns people living there don't even know about," he said.
Yeah, that's crazy alright. Everybody in the house ought to know what guns are there, and how to use them.

It's no business of the government.

[UPDATE:] C. Dodd Harris has an excellent take on this over at Ipse Dixit.. Go read.
Interesting How Little Media Attention THIS Gets, Isn't It?

Seen on several blogs, comes this bit of news: Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski, New 'No License Required' CCW Law, and No permit needed to carry concealed guns.

It seems that we now have two states that have no requirement for a permit to carry concealed.

Did NBC, CBS, or ABC cover it? CNN? MSNBC? Fox News? The Yahoo! Gun Control Page?

No.

Just one little Associated Press story in the Anchorage Daily News, and coverage on the gun rights forums and on gun bloggers pages.

Interesting, no? Minnesota just goes through histrionics to pass permitted concealed carry, and it's NATIONAL NEWS! Colorado makes gun regulation unform across the state, and it's covered everywhere! But Alaska passes "Vermont Carry" and *YAWN*. Damn, isn't anyone outraged? Even JoinTogether hasn't had anything to say on this - yet.

Perhaps they're hoping none of us in the flyover states will notice.

Oh, and doesn't Minnesota make it 35 states with either no permit required or "shall-issue" concealed-carry?
Sometimes Summary Execution IS Called For

And, once again, Child Abductive Services screws the pooch:

Police find emaciated boy, 7, locked in closet; parents held
PHOENIX - A 7-year-old boy was found bruised and emaciated locked in a closet at a Phoenix home, police said.

Police went to the home Sunday when Isaac Loubriel's grandmother called saying she was worried she hadn't seen the boy for several months, said Phoenix police Detective Tony Morales. She also told police her grandson looked malnourished when she last saw him.

When police went to the home, Isaac's parents - Melanie Loubriel, 28, and Ricardo Loubriel, 39 - were evasive when asked about the boy, Morales said yesterday.
Police then noticed a closet locked from the outside, with a bed pushed against it. They heard noises inside and found the boy in the closet. Isaac weighed just 36 pounds.

His parents told police they had been locking Isaac in the closet since the beginning of the year to discipline him. Morales said they also admitted they sometimes didn't feed the boy for up to a week at a time.

Four of the couple's six children lived in the home, but only Isaac was injured. He and three of his siblings were in the custody of Child Protective Services yesterday. Two of the couple's children live with their grandmother.

Melanie and Ricardo Loubriel were booked in Maricopa County jail on child abuse charges.

Bail was set at $500,000.

The couple declined an interview request.
Oh, but that's not the best of it!

CPS boss 'reeling' over case of boy kept in closet He'd better be reeling. His head ought to be rolling:
Child Protective Services could have done more in the case of a 7-year-old Phoenix boy found Sunday locked in a dark closet and severely malnourished, Department of Economic Security acting Director Bill Bell said Wednesday.

"I believe we have some significant issues to deal with here," Bell said after an initial review of Isaac Loubriel's case. "I'm quite concerned about what seems to be surfacing with our involvement here."
Oh, really? Some "significant issues," eh? You don't say?
Former neighbors and friends of the Phoenix family said they had called CPS over the past several years to report abuse, but nothing was ever done. Isaac was found Sunday at his family's north Phoenix apartment after his grandmother asked police to check on him because she hadn't seen him in months.

He weighed just 36 pounds when police pulled him from the locked, filthy closet. His parents were arrested, and his four siblings, all under age 8, were placed in CPS care.
Where they'll probably end up in the "care" of child molesters.

AAAAAAGGGHHHH! This shit pisses me off! It seems in the actual occasions that removal of children from abusive households should occur, these incompetent assnuggets don't do anything at all

And the title of this post? I'd have given the cops a medal if they'd capped the so-called "parents" immediately after finding the boy.

No trial was necessary here.

Somebody ALWAYS Beats Me to It.

Publicola dissects an op-ed in the Denver Post by the ironically named Tom Mauser (permalinks bloggered, the post is June 11, 10:02PM). Mr. Mauser lost his son at Columbine, so his bias is at least understandable, but he's disconnected from reality here. I suppose losing a son explains that, but I don't forgive him for it.

Anyway, Publicola does a good job dismantling his arguments against the lawsuit protection legislation. Excerpt:
"Imagine a world in which one of its most dangerous products is exempt from consumer-protection laws. Imagine a world in which the makers and sellers of that product are immune from civil lawsuits related to that product.
The first scenario is already the case; the second is close to happening, right here in America."
Translation: We're not going to be dealing with much factual information, so let's try to get used to the make believe world I'm about to describe to you.
Go read.

Oh, and read the post right below that one too. Excellent!
I Think I'LL Vote for Kucinich in the Primary, Too.

I am, after all, registered as a Democrat in Arizona.

ISN'Tapundit has an outstanding fisking of a recent Salon.com column on the "Take Back America" conference. Apparently Dipnut actually paid for the Salon.com "premium" (and I use that term tongue-in-cheek) service so he had access to the entire piece. I don't, so I won't link to it here. The link is available on Isntapundit, if you too help support that...site.

Carol Moseley Braun is a taco short of a combination plate, but Kucinich actually has a following, according to this piece. Nowhere has the term "barking moonbat" been more apt.

Bush v. Moonbat Kucinich? Bring it on! (Perhaps Dennis can pick Carol as his running-mate. That would be too perfect.)
Crossbreeding a Llama with a Vacuum Cleaner

James Lileks weighs in today on the "roadmap to genocide," er, "peace."
They don’t have helicopters, we're told, so they use suicide bombers. If they had helicopters, they would have strafed the bus and everyone waiting at the corner. Give them a nation where Hamas runs unchecked, and they’ll have helicopters. They won't be Apaches. The bill of sale will be calculated in Euros and the manual written in French.
Yup.

He also discusses the local weather, tax rebates, the cycle of life, and crappy hotels in New York. You know, the standard Bleat excellence.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

"Guns offer false security" Says a Grad Student

AlphaPatriot sent me this USAToday op-ed by Kimberly Shearer Palmer, hoping, I suspect, that I'd fisk it.

Who am I to let a reader down?

Let's begin:
Before I held a revolver, I thought only police officers and psychopaths shot guns. Guns seemed uncontrollable objects that could inflict death at any moment; I preferred to avoid them.
Ooh! "police officers and psychopaths!" I ought to drag out the Freud quote.
Then I learned how to shoot. My friends arranged a trip to a shooting range outside Chicago. Our instructor, a former police officer, taught us how to stand and point, hunching our shoulders for accuracy. We shot at the target silhouettes' heart and lungs before aiming for its head. In real life, our instructor explained, our attackers might wear bulletproof vests.
One of my absolute favorite quotes belongs to blogger and author Teresa Nielsen Hayden: "Basically, I figure guns are like gays: They seem a lot more sinister and threatening until you get to know a few; and once you have one in the house, you can get downright defensive about them." Seems she discovered the truth of that.
I was thrilled with my new power. A technological advantage now would let me fight the bad guys, even ones bigger and stronger that I am — or so I thought. Guns give women equal killing ability, but they also draw us into the dangerous illusion that owning one makes us safe.
Then her instructor did a piss-poor job of explaining what a gun can and cannot do. Owning a gun doesn't make you safe. NOTHING makes you "SAFE."

Owning a fire-extinguisher doesn't make you safe from fire, either. It simply provides you a tool in the event that one occurs. Just as, in the event of a fire, an extinguisher provides you the means to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your property until the fire department arrives, a firearm provides you the means to protect yourself, your loved ones and your property in the event of a crime until the police can arrive. But you have to have more than that. You need to know what the tool can do and cannot do - be it a gun or a fire extinguisher. You have to have it available - keeping it locked up and/or empty or simply where you cannot reach it in an emergency renders it useless. You have to know that you will be able to use it if necessary - if you don't believe you can, having it won't do you any good.

There's more to owning a gun for self-defense than simply purchasing it.
More women are using guns. The number of National Rifle Association Women on Target programs — shooting clinics for women only — more than doubled between 2001 and 2002, says Stephanie Henson, manager of the NRA's women's programs. Last year, clinics were held in 38 states. Henson says women's interest is so strong that the NRA recently launched Woman's Outlook, its first magazine aimed just at women.

Self-defense is the reason the overwhelming majority of Women & Guns' readers are interested in using guns, says Peggy Tartaro, the magazine's executive editor.
Then I hope like hell they're getting better training than Ms. Palmer got.
But gun popularity among women is based on two misconceptions. First, gun advocates often call guns the great equalizer between men and women. In reality, according to a new study by the University of California at Davis, women who own handguns are more than twice as likely to be murdered with a firearm by their partners than those who do not. While this may be partly explained by the fact that women who fear an attack are more apt to buy a gun, the study shows guns often fail to help women protect themselves.
Perhaps because they don't understand, as Ms. Palmer does not understand, what having a gun for self-defense requires? Where before she seemed to believe that guns were some kind of magic talisman OF evil, now she seems to believe that they are some kind of magic talisman to WARD OFF evil. They are neither.
"Having a gun gives women a false sense of security," says Naomi Seligman, communications director of the Violence Policy Center, a Washington non-profit that urges stricter gun control. "Guns can be taken away, and women can be killed by their own guns."
And Naomi Seligman is an unbiased source of fact, I suppose? How often are "guns taken away" from someone? Approximately 1% of the time. If you have a gun and are prepared to use it, no one's going to take it from you.
The second misconception is that guns are the only solution to help otherwise "weak" women protect themselves. In fact, a wide range of self-defense options, from chemical sprays to street fighting, gives women the tools to fight back.
Except according to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service "(W)hile 33 percent of all surviving robbery victims were injured, only 25 percent of those who offered no resistance and 17 percent of those who defended themselves with guns were injured. For surviving assault victims, the corresponding injury rates were, respectively, 30 percent, 27 percent, and 12 percent." Defending yourself with a gun provides the best chance of escaping injury yourself. A 110 pound woman against a 180 pound man means, even if she gets away, she's probably going to be injured.
A popular new form of self-defense training simulates attacks on the street and in the bedroom by male "attackers" wearing protective padding. This realistic-training approach includes verbal and psychological elements that prepare women for real-life situations. Fighting off a man in a simulated attack is much more likely to resemble a real incident than shooting at a target-range silhouette.
I wholeheartedly agree. If you're going to carry a gun for self-protection, then training for real-life situations is an excellent idea. But that training should not denegrate the advantage that having a gun provides. Consider, if you are about to be assaulted; robbed or carjacked, and your training has prepared you, which is more likely to put off your attacker: a can of pepper spray, or a .38 revolver aimed at his abdomen? And what if he has a firearm? Which is more likely to deter him then?
Self-defense classes also offer a significant psychological benefit. After taking self-defense courses with simulated attacks at The Empower Program Inc., a Washington non-profit, my younger sister and I felt more confident walking down the street. We were aware that at any time, anywhere, we knew how to fight back. The course also taught us how to avoid violent situations and how to de-escalate encounters before they become deadly. Like Jennifer Lopez's character in the 2002 movie Enough, in which she learns to fight to protect herself and her daughter against her abusive husband, we had reclaimed our right to feel safe while depending only on our own bodies.
More magical thinking. She felt more confident. Yahoo to Jennifer Lopez, but I'd like to remind you that that was a movie. However, we have actual stories like this one where a woman awoke with a man on top of her. She took HIS gun and killed him with it. "In this case, the victim made the decision to struggle and fight back...She made the decision that she was going to survive this incident."

It's about mental attitude. A gun is just part of that. More stories:

In December, 2002 in Tucson AZ, Martha Lynn Chaney shot her abusive boyfriend when he tried to force his way into her home. (Story no longer available online)

In March, 2002 in Colville WA, 71 year-old Bethan Scutchfield, an invalid woman, shot and killed a 28 year old man who was physically assaulting her. The man was her granddaughter's ex-boyfriend who was violating a restraining order.

December 2001, A LaCenter OR woman, Cheryl Swenson, shot her abusive husband when he broke down a bedroom door in order to continue beating her.

The June 11 issue of the Indiana StarPress reports that Charlotte Johnson shot and wounded her ex-boyfriend in self-defense.

WZZM news in Grand Rapids, MI reports that Robin Trumbull used a handgun to defend herself from an attacker.

The March 23 edition of the Macomb Daily online edition reports that a 40 year old woman was the victim of an attempted robbery, but she told the robber: "If you're going to shoot me then do it, 'cause I'm definitely going to kill you," when she pulled her 9mm handgun on him. He ran.
Considering guns as women's only shot at self-defense is like eating fat-free cookies to ward off obesity; they can make the situation even worse. Instead of buying a gun, I'm sticking to basic street smarts that will always be there when I need them most.
Try a combination, Ms. Palmer. "Street smarts" and a gun will protect you better than "street smarts" without one. But a gun without "street smarts" is still better than having neither, so long as you're willing to defend yourself.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

The Debate Continues

Over at The Commentary. (Sorry, permalinks don't work there.)

It looks like we're having a communication problem, even though I've refrained from the 5,000 word posts.

No blogging tomorrow. I'll be out of state all day, probably returning late. Sorry.
It's Not Justice, But It Could Have Been Worse

Thanks to Kim du Toit, I now know what happened in the case of Ronald Dixon, the Navy vet who shot an intruder in his home. Dixon discovered the intruder in his son's bedroom. Said intruder had a LONG criminal record.

Dixon was charged for using an unlicensed handgun to defend himself and his family. This was, after all, New York City - where they consider deporting resident aliens who shoot robbers because said alien used an unlicensed handgun while defending his life.

Of course, if you WANT a permit in NYC, it costs a minimum of $329 and takes a minimum of six months to get - unless, of course, you're politically connected or a celebrity (but I repeat myself.)

In Mr. Dixon's case, enough people raised enough stink that the prosecutor found it necessary to reduce (but not drop) the charges to "disorderly conduct." Dixon will, unfortunately, serve three days, but the conviction will not show up on his record. So, supposedly he could still qualify for a permit. But seeing that the number of permits in NYC has been declining, and given the difficulty and expense involved in getting one (especially since Mr. Dixon currently works two jobs) I don't see how he's going to have the time.

Now, how about we raise a stink and get Sr. Acosta's charges reduced to "disorderly conduct."

And let's see if we can get some NYC District Attorneys out of office next year.

One other thing: The NY Post editorial called Acosta and others who recently defended themselves in NYC "vigilantes." Note to NY Post: Use a dictionary. A vigilante is defined as "a member of a volunteer committee organized to suppress and punish crime summarily." What these guys did was self-defense. Let me see if I can clarify the difference. A vigilante is someone like, oh, say Barbara Lipscomb, (AKA Barbara Graham) who shot a young man who she thought was responsible for the death of her son. He wasn't. But even if he had been, that would have been the act of a vigilante, as per the dictionary definition. But shooting someone who is directly threatening your life and property? That's called self-defense - not "vilgilantism."

Oh, and Mrs. Graham/Lipscomb/Martin? She was one of the organizers of the original Million Mom March. And she was supported during her trial by Bernadette Trowell, the President of the MMM organization.

Odd, that.
Real Quick:

The tidal wave of hits from getting Instalaunched seems to have passed. For those of you who decided to hang around like driftwood washed ashore, welcome! I promise to build a bonfire I'll try to post something worth reading this evening.

In the meantime, read up on Canada's complete disaster otherwise known as their attempt to register all (legal, honest) gun owners and their firearms.

It seems that they had recent computer crashes that wiped out quite an unknown number of names in the registry. But that's just the latest in a long series of problems.
Here's what has happened since May 7:

- The Justice Department revealed it had awarded $400,000 to a gun control coalition last year and the money was used to hire lobbyists to press the government to maintain the program;
I cannot help but wonder if The Brady Center or The Violence Policy Center receives federal dollars. I know that the Centers for Disease Control are using tax dollars to promote gun control as a "health care" topic.
- The former head of the centre said no one was fired at the centre despite Prime Minister Jean Chretien's claim that people were dismissed or demoted as the costs of the registry soared;
You mean he lied? But, but, he's a government official!
- It turns out the government had spent at least $17 million more on the firearms registry than the outrageous $1 billion cost cited by Auditor General Sheila Fraser last fall; and

- Ontario announced it will join Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Alberta and Manitoba in refusing to prosecute people who have not registered their guns, leaving the job up to already over-burdened federal prosecutors.
The registry, which was sold to Parliament and the general public on the promise that it would only cost taxpayers $2 million, and then be self-supported from fees. Now, according to this piece, the bill has exceeded the $1 billion that the Auditor General projected. I have to give her the benefit of the doubt - she did say that the accounting was so screwed up and that the information was so hard to drag out of anybody that at best the $1BN was a guess, but she figured it would take until 2005 to hit that mark. It's only 2003. And estimates are that at least a quarter of Canadian gun owners have not registered. There's some question as to just how many gun owners there are in Canada, but the government estmates that 500,000 owners have not complied. They have until the end of this month.

On the good side, five of Canada's provinces have refused to prosecute violators, leaving it up to the federal government to enforce.

But gun control proponents here think, for some reason, that American gun owners would go along with the idea.

Not bleeding likely.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Great, Juuuuust Great...

I get linked by the 800lb gorilla of blogdom, and I'm swamped and unable to post new, gripping, insightful stuff.

Not only do I not have time to blind you with brilliance, I don't have time to baffle you with bull#^!t.

My posting will be restricted all week, and possibly for some time. Apparently the economy is improving.

Hopefully I be able to get something worthwhile in in the evenings, but I'm not promising much.

To new visitors, please read the "Best Posts." They might make your visit worthwhile. And remember, this is a new blog. Don't expect War and Peace.

Thank you for your attention. We now return you to our regular programming.
Mystery Solved

Now I know what it's like to be linked to by the Blogfather.

YOWZA! Talk about traffic!

Thank you, Professor Reynolds!

UPDATED 6/17/03 because of image server problems

Want to see the power of Instapundit?

I started this blog May 14. On June 2 I won the inaugural New Blog Showcase competition. The evening of June 8 Glenn Reynolds linked to the Chuck Asay cartoon. Here's the hit trend for the last month:



Nothing further need be said.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

OK, Who Linked to Me?

According to Sitemeter, over the last two hours this site has been hammered by visitors.

Who do I thank?
Whittle Alert! Whittle Alert!

Bill has an extended dance remix version of Magic up, by popular demand. It is, he says: "by far the longest (essay) to date." Great! I'll make popcorn!

Go read!

And we might get to see Trinity (the essay, not the Matrix star) by next weekend. But I wouldn't count on it. I imagine Bill's going to polish and buff that one to a high gloss before putting it on display.
Another Golden Oldie

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far away.... Wait, that was Star Wars.

A couple of years ago there was a failed experiment called Themestream.com that was, for all intents and purposes, a really BIG multiuser blog. The primary difference between Themestream and the blogs was that contributors were supposed to post not just little bits and pieces they found interesting, but essays. It was a site for aspiring writers, whether those writers were op-ed producers or poets or fiction authors, and the site paid you to write, (at least at first) based on the number of hits your pieces garnered. It produced a surprising amount of really good stuff. C.D. Harris, of Ipse Dixit was one of the better contributors. There was one author, C.D. Cameron, I wish I could find again. Hopefully he's blogging somewhere if he's not writing professionally (which he should be.) Alas, the experiment failed and Themestream bit the dust.

I was a contributor there almost from inception, and I learned to polish my writing quite a bit. I also practiced the then-unamed art of "fisking" on some of the pieces written by others. In perusing The Truth Laid Bear's New Blog Showcase (see post below), I noticed that there were several contributors of the moonbat liberal persuasion. At first, my thought was "Awww, isn't that cute," but on reflection I remembered a piece I'd written on Themestream (and I saved everything before it collapsed) that I thought I'd post here. This piece was written on April 9, 2001 (remember the election debacle) in response to a somewhat erratic piece by another contributor, a self-confessed liberal. I've taken the liberty to insert additional commentary.

I entitled it:

Liberal v. Conservative: Both are Necessary (Names have been changed to protect the guilty innocent.)

John Doe's article "The Aims and Abilities of Liberals and Conservatives" was quite interesting and thought-provoking. As a conservative-leaning libertarian type, I thought I'd comment on the article, but there was so much to comment on, I thought that perhaps a response article would be a better choice.

On Basic Philosophy:

Mr. Doe writes that "Liberals are nomads" who are open-minded and have widely varying viewpoints due to their "various travels", and who have a hard time getting together because they "live in separate truths, with no single reality dominating their lives". This is, he says, in opposition to conservatives who "exist in cliques" because they "largely possess one mind." ("We are Borg. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.") Conservatives, he writes, "have the ability to mobilize very quickly by repeating the same thought until they convince themselves of it." (I cannot help, however, in reflecting just how fast the Liberals mobilized themselves and repeated "we must count all the votes" until they convinced themselves that it had not happened.) ("No Blood for Ooooiiiiilllllll!!!!" comes to mind presently. And "BUSH LIED!" And others, but I digress.)

"Conservatives", he says, "may not communicate the truth, but they have the ability to change reality so that it reflects their truth."

Excuse me? If Liberals "live in separate truths" then what makes the Conservative version of "truth" any less valid than the myriad Liberal versions? Because more than one person believes it at any one time? This strikes me as psychobabble. Is there "truth" at all? How does one judge? It seems to me that the objective criteria is: is your version of "truth" consistent with observable reality? If not, it doesn't matter if you're Liberal or Conservative, you're wrong.

On Liberal v. Conservative and Government:

He continues with a discussion of the difference in how Liberals and Conservatives view the role of government. I agree with his description to a large extent, but not his reasoning. "Liberals", he writes, "believe in the power of government, and people, because they fundamentally believe that human beings have the ability to improve themselves and their behavior." Ok, well and good. He also writes "Liberals have a fundamental faith in the ability of humans to better themselves and act appropriately when the situation calls for it."

Oh really? Then why do Liberals find it necessary to use Government to coerce people to do things they think are obvious and necessary? If Liberals truly believe that humans will "act appropriately when the situation calls for it", then isn't legally mandated behavior contraindicated? Why, for example, is it necessary for us to pass a law requiring the government to take hard-earned money from its citizens and use it to support those less fortunate than ourselves? If humans will "act appropriately when the situation calls for it", shouldn't that behavior be voluntary and automatic?

"Conservatives", he writes, "believe humans are mostly stuck with a terrible nature, and cannot really do much to over come (sic) it, at least not with human help. They believe that any organized efforts to improve the human condition will only make things worse." Well, yes and no. We believe that some people are stuck with a "terrible nature", and that given the opportunity, those few can cause some real damage. Overall, however, we believe that most people are good and decent or at least neutral, and will do the right thing when the situation calls for it without being forced to by law. You see, we've looked at history and noted those occasions when those few with that "terrible nature" have taken control and the mayhem that has resulted.

He writes further, "Thus governments, while necessary to prevent total chaos - which can lead to the worst of human behavior - are inherently evil because they are simply the tools of humans to either coerce other humans into evil acts, or to make humans the slaves of evil acts. Government is supposed to be held at bay, like a dog on a leash. If there must be government, conservatives don't trust people to run it. They trust written laws and procedures to make sure human behavior stays in check." Again, yes and no. Again, Conservatives trust most people to do the right thing MOST of the time, but we understand that there are those who will not. We understand that those who will not are attracted to power, and government is nothing if not power.

In that vein, I must disagree with his assertion that "the worst of human behavior" results from total chaos. That is not correct. The worst of human behavior occurs when humans are directed by a malignant governing force. That is why government should be held at bay like a dog on a leash. Examples: the organized slaughter of Native Americans by our own government (in violation of our own laws, by the way), the Holocaust under Hitler, the Stalinist purges, China's "Cultural Revolution", the "Killing Fields" of the Khmer Rouge... the list is nearly endless of governments who have killed large numbers of their own people. This does not even touch on wars between nations. Therefore it is simply prudent to make the accumulation of power very difficult through written law and procedure and to enforce those laws and procedures. These limits aren't there to stop the majority from doing what is necessary, but to restrict the few who will abuse the system for their own gain at the cost of the rest of us.

"Liberals", he writes, "believe that collective human efforts bring out the best in people". On the other hand, he says: "Conservatives believe that collective human efforts can only bring out the worst in people, robbing people of their individuality and coercing people with the 'General Will' ". BZZZT! I don't think so! The difference, Mr. Doe, is in whether the "collective human effort" is voluntary, or coerced. The space program of the 1960's was a perfect example. It was a government program. It was a "collective human effort" that was incredibly well supported by those directly involved. In fact, I daresay that if those who worked on the project hadn't involved themselves to the incredible levels that they did, it would have failed. The "general will" was behind it, but those involved were dedicated on a voluntary basis.

Contrast this project with the democratically popular idea of "universal health care" in which all people have access to government sponsored medical attention. Sounds great, but one of the restrictions in the original plan was if you paid the doctor for better care, you both went to jail. This means that you are coerced into settling for a lower standard of health care than you might otherwise afford. You'll note, that idea died a rapid death here. It does work to varying degrees in other countries, but you'll note that our system - as obviously flawed as it is - attracts people from all over the world (including our neighbor to the North) for better health care than they can get at home.

On the Constitution and Government Expansion:

Mr. Doe writes: "Liberals apply a loose-constructionist interpretation to the Constitution. Conservatives apply a strict-constructionist interpretation." Truer words were never written. I sometimes wonder if Liberals have actually bothered to read the Constitution before attempting to "interpret" it. It's a clearly written document, not overly long. It even includes rules by which it can be modified. But instead of actually following those rules in order to form the kind of government Liberals think we should be living under, they'd rather just "interpret" what they think it should mean. I object to that. I guess that makes me a "strict-constructionist". Guilty as charged.

"Liberals believe", Mr. Doe writes, "society is getting better and better, if it simply has the framework to grow. Conservatives believe society gets worse and worse as it moves further away, temporally and intellectually, from the values and ideals of historical thinkers." Pardon me if I disagree again. Conservatives recognize that society is changing. Change is the one thing we can never escape, nor should we wish to. However, the Constitution provides the framework to grow. In an earlier article a writer commented that we'd freed the slaves, and given blacks and women the right to vote, and I pointed out that we certainly had - using the rules set up in the Constitution, not by "interpreting" it. By using the framework of the Constitution it ensures that we will have a government that always recognizes the rights of that smallest minority - the individual. (So that's where that came from! I'd forgotten!)

What Conservatives actually believe is that "interpreting" the Constitution is a grievous error. If it needs to be changed, by all means change it, but you ignore its rules at everyone's peril. Remember, those "historical thinkers" put the rules by which the Constitution can be changed right into the document. They understood that times do indeed change, and our government must be able to change along with them. "Interpret" that.

Conservative v. Liberal Thought:

"...liberals always have to play catch-up with conservatives in acting, but conservatives usually have to play catch-up with liberals in thinking. The conservative's thought is eventually debunked, while society suffers for their actions based on anachronistic thought. The liberal's thought is eventually vindicated, and society is only able to act upon it after it has become fed up with the actions of conservatives." My first reaction to this was "Oh, bunk", but he does have a point. Conservatism does act as a brake on rapid change. This does tend to extend the period between when a real injustice is recognized and when a corrective change occurs. The examples given above - slavery and universal suffrage - are good examples of this. However, rapid knee-jerk reactions that are not restrained can also cause problems.

The braking action that conservatism provides is a good thing for the health of a nation overall. If the change is truly needed, the majority of people will eventually overcome the inertia of the society and change it. Hey, that's what democracy is all about, no? If the liberal's initial reaction to "DO SOMETHING!" isn't immediately acted upon, and eventually turns out to not have been such a great idea after all, it disappears without a whimper and is never heard from again. No foul, no error. This beats having to live with the consequences of a bad idea passed in haste, doesn't it? The question, then, is "Is it better to have a few old bad ideas last too long while we come up with a workable solution, or have a whole lot of new bad ideas get implemented while we try to fix our problems?"

I'll skip over a good chunk of the article to the next important point he makes:

Liberals, Conservatives, and History:

"Liberals are so scattered, always turning over a new leaf to adapt to today's circumstances and trying to figure out what the next big idea is to reflect society, that they really don't remember anything past today." I don't really get the "reflecting society" reference, but boy, am I glad he admitted to the part about ignoring history. Who was it who said "Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it"? (Ed.: Santayana) Conservatives, he writes "...act today and tomorrow on the basis of yesterday." I don't have a problem with that. Past behavior has been proven to be a good predictor of future behavior. Why would anyone simply ignore it? "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Liberals, it seems, can be fooled every time?

Liberals, Conservatives, and Ideas:

"The tendency of conservatives is based on a fundamental premise: some ideas are superior to others, and their ideas are better, and truer, than all the rest. The tendency of liberals is based on the opposite premise: all ideas have equal merit, and the ideas that should be implemented are those that match the needs of the moment." Now, given that Liberals admittedly tend to ignore history while Conservatives study it, might it seem a novel idea that some of the ideas Liberals propose have been attempted in the past? And failed? That Conservatives might actually be right when they suggest that a proposed Liberal idea is unworkable or counterproductive? It is demonstrably untrue that all ideas have equal merit, and it is demonstrably true that some ideas are superior to others. Whose position does this more accurately reflect?

Liberals, Conservatives, and Individuals:

"Many liberals...would willingly have the government take from them (obligatory charity, in their view) to help causes that are greater than them. The liberal perspective is that the cause - the idea or ideal - is greater than any one person, and thus the individual should serve the cause.... The conservative perspective is the opposite: instead of the individual serving the cause, the individual is the cause, and all ideas serve the individual." That's a bit convoluted but an essentially correct observation. And it illustrates the primary disagreement I had with Mr. Doe's entire essay. Remember, at the beginning he wrote:

"Liberals have a fundamental faith in the ability of humans to better themselves and act appropriately when the situation calls for it."

And:

"Conservatives believe humans are mostly stuck with a terrible nature, and cannot really do much to over come (sic) it, at least not with human help."

You see, if Liberals really believed that humans will voluntarily act "appropriately when the situation calls for it" then "obligatory charity" would be unnecessary. In reality (and yes, Virginia, there is a reality) what he refers to as "obligatory charity" is an oxymoron. If it's obligatory it cannot be charity. It's extortion at gunpoint. Conservatives understand that, and rightfully object when they see "liberals and liberal government are continuously by overt and covert action, plotting to "take things from me" in order to meet their objectives...." To Conservatives, if the cause is worthy it will be voluntarily supported by people who actually believe in doing the right thing. To Liberals, if they believe the cause is worthy, well then they must immediately coerce the rest of the population into supporting this obviously worthy cause. And they cannot understand when "conservatives" object.

You will note that nowhere in Mr. Doe's essay did he state that Liberal ideas are majority ideas until after these ideas overcome Conservative inertia. I therefore submit to you that both groups are necessary for a healthy, functioning society. Without Liberals our society cannot advance, and will die from stagnation. Without Conservatives our society will die from chaotically running in search of the next "truth." Liberals provide the wind in the sails. (Being largely blowhards...) Conservatives provide the rudder. The Constitution provides the ship in which we all sail.

Forgive me if I think it appropriate for some of the crew to object when others start pulling up the planking for a bonfire just because some of the passengers are cold.
In the Interest of Paying Back

The Truth Laid Bear's New Blog Showcase is up for its second week of competition. In a stunning come-from-behind fashion (and no one was more stunned than I) my blog won the inaugural competition last week. As a result, I got a LOT of traffic, and quite a few links.

It seems only fair that I pay back that largesse by voting on a couple of contenders out of this week's entries.

I believe that blogging is about to take off like CB radio did back in the late 70's. Steven Den Beste stated that 90% of the blogs out there right now are crap, and I'm afraid that he's largely correct, but the difference between CB and blogging is that feedback is immediate, and it's a positive loop correction mechanism. If you're crap, nobody links to you or reads you. There is no equivalent to slapping a 100W booster on your station and using a Moonraker to wipe out everybody within 50 miles. And good bloggers have come to act as really excellent corrective feedback loops on the mainstream media, as the recent New York Times debacle, and the even more recent Guardian fauxs pax have proven.

So I found this entry by The Blog Herald really interesting: Europe goes to the Blogs. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing. Lets hope that it reaches Iraq very, very soon.

I also liked Rkayn Knowledge's post of Tuesday, June 3 (scroll down, the link may be bloggered) concerning the state of judicial nominees. Fact checking Elanor Clift of (and) Newsweak. See what I'm talking about? Corrective feedback. Pass this one around. The Truth Shall Make You Free.

I WANT to read Graham Lester's column, "A Nonbeliever's Defense of Religion," just on the strength of the blurb he put up on TruthLaidBear's site, but apparently Blogger isn't the only service to have problems. I get a "Cannot find server" error at this time. I'll give him a vote anyway.

My final vote this go-round goes to DANEgeurs's quite well-done fisking of Gary Hart. More feedback!

It will be interesting to see who wins this week.
I've Started Reading Atlas Shrugged

I'm probably not the first to mention this, but when Rand wants to make a point, she's certainly not subtle about it, is she? Not when she can bludgeon the reader a few dozen times, just to make sure he gets it.

One-thousand sixty-nine pages.

I hope it gets better.

Soon.
That It, This Guy Goes on the Blogroll

Feces Flinging Monkey points to this really cool animated illustration of the growth of "shall issue" CCW in the U.S. He notes that he found the link at Lead and Gold.

Ah, I love interconnectedness.
Back from the Range

Just one picture, a 5-shot 100 yard group from the Enfield, off sandbags. Remember, this is open sights, where the front bead is the diameter of the black bull at that range:



No one is more surprised than I am.

Of course, I wasn't able to duplicate that group, but I'm blaming that on the wind. Yeah, that's the ticket!

Saturday, June 07, 2003

My 1917 Enfield

Just a few pictures as a test.




The Redfield rear sight.


The front sight.


Close-up of the receiver. Winchester, baby!

There's supposed to be a screw-in aperture for the rear sight which didn't come with the rifle. I'm trying to locate one. As it is, the rear sight is about equal to a No. 4 Enfield's "battle sight." I miked it at about 0.15" Not quite big enough to drive a truck through, but...
No More Blogging Today

At least not until much later. I have honeydo's to do, and I'm going to load some ammo. I'm going to the range tomorrow. I want to play with my "new" 1917 Enfield (made by Winchester in 1918) and my Kimber Custom Stainless .45. And maybe my 1896 Swede (Carl Gustaf, 1916). And yes, both rifles are sporterized (not "bubba-ized").
Our Collapsing Schools - Update (Trying out a new header style)

In my last post on this topic I covered the story of the teacher that had been attacked by the student she had suspended, the student's brother and his mother. Rachel Lucas has more on this topic. This is not, apparently, an isolated case.

Why am I not surprised?

Friday, June 06, 2003

You People ELECTED This Asshat?

More from the Pasadena Star News article about the proposed 10¢ per round tax:
Assemblyman Mark Ridley- Thomas, D-Los Angeles, authored AB 992 because he said he believes the state's health- care system needs relief during the current fiscal crisis. Officials estimate that the state's budget shortfall is about $38 billion over the next 13 months.

Ammunition qualifies for a sin tax because guns are even more harmful to society than alcohol and cigarettes, he said.

"Alcohol and cigarettes are not by definition designed to do destruction. Guns are,' Ridley- Thomas said.
Really? Let's see: According to this Centers for Disease Control site, "Cigarette smoking accounts for approximately one in every five deaths in the United States." Some 2,403,351 deaths occurred in the U.S. in 2000. That would make tobacco the cause of some 480,000 deaths that year.

According to this CDC page, "Excessive alcohol consumption is an important factor in more than 100,000 deaths in the United States each year." According to this CDC report alcohol is directly responsible for 19,358 deaths not including "accidents, homicides, and other causes indirectly related to alcohol use as well as deaths due to fetal alcohol syndrome." According to this site Fetal Alcohol Syndrome affects about 1 in 1,000 newborns and "(t)wo to three times that many are born with an alcohol-related developmental disorder, but they do not have any obvious physical abnormalities." There were 3,959,417 births reported in the U.S. in 1999. That means that over 3,900 infants were the victims of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Some 8,000 to 11,000 more suffered from alcohol related disorders. I thought the big concern was over The Children(tm)? Alcohol was a contributing factor according to this CDC site, in 17,448 motor vehicle fatalities. That's on top of the 19,358 deaths caused directly by alcohol, and just a small part of the 100,000 deaths annually.

Death by gunshot, both homicide and suicide accounted for 28,663 of the total, and many of them also involved alcohol or other, illicit drugs. If you take suicides out of the equation (and I do, because I don't believe that the method of suicide has much to do with the act of suicide) the number drops to 11,807.

Considering that there are an acknowledged 200,000,000 plus guns in private hands, that's an awfully low number for something "designed to do destruction."
Gunshot wounds, about half of them accidental, cost the health-care system more than $250 million annually, Ridley-Thomas said.
Yeah? According to this site, the percentage of accidental gunshot injury nationwide over the period from 1993 to 1997 is 20%. Are Californians somehow more accident-prone than the rest of America? And according to this site, "the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that alcohol-related crashes in 2000 were associated with more than $51 billion in total costs." Thats Billion. With a "B." Divide equally by 50 states (although California has far in excess of 1/50th the number of automobiles in the country) and you're still looking at over a billion dollars.
"We just have the proliferation of these weapons of destruction and it has a completely negative effect on society,' he said.
It doesn't have a negative effect on ME. It doesn't have a negative effect on the absolute minimum 108,000 people each year who use a gun to defend themselves.

Come out and say it, goddamnit. If you want to ban guns, say it. Stop this incremental death-by-a-thousand-cuts before you piss us off enough to do what the Declaration of Independence says we ought to. Put it up to the voters and let them decide. Enough of this nanny-state "we know what's best for you" bullshit!