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, August 19, 2003

I Could Quit Chocolate...But I'm No Quitter!

When I got home tonight I asked my wife how her day went. She said "I think I'm allergic to chocolate."

"Why?" I asked.

"I gave the kids some this morning, and they drove me nuts all day."

True story.
No Blog for You! (Again)

I'm going to be very busy the next couple of days. I'm working on a long, involved, link-riddled post inspired by this Samizdata post about international crime rates, but it will be the end of this week at the earliest before I have it completed. In the mean time, I probably won't be posting at all. Sorry about that. If you're a new visitor, please read the archives. If you're one of the six or so regular readers, well,

Nothing to see here, move along. Move along.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Movie Review: Bad Boys 2

Yesterday my wife asked me if I wanted to go out and see a movie. I asked her what she wanted to see. "Bad Boys 2" she said, "I feel like watching a blowup movie."

Yes, I married the right woman.

We'd actually tried to catch BB2 on the opening weekend, but the theater was so full we couldn't get seats anywhere but the front row, so we exchanged our tickets and saw Tomb Raider 2 instead (woe unto Hollywood should someone have an idea for an original film. All the money seems to be tied up in making sequels.)

Usually Sunday afternoon is pretty slow at the theater, but BB2 was still pretty full. And now I know why.

I like Will Smith. He doesn't act so much as be the same character in every role (and he was excellent in Independence Day) but he and Martin Lawrence are outstanding together. The critics panned the movie (for obvious reasons - it is, after all, a blowup movie) but it was a lot of fun.

I just had one problem with it. There is one scene where a boy comes over to pick up Martin Lawrence's daughter for her first date. He is met at the door by Lawrence, then Will Smith comes to the door. In the subsequent hazing of the date, Will Smith's character threatens the kid with his pistol - finger on the trigger. Repeatedly.

The audience thought the scene was funny (it was, actually) but the gun handling bothered the sh!t out of me. It reminded me of the scene in Pulp Fiction where the kid in the back seat of the car was killed because the moron in the front seat pointed his gun at him and unintentionally pulled the trigger. Look, I know it was Hollyweird, where there is little to no association with reality, but a lot of people (especially when it comes to guns) don't. Just another example of "guns are toys" that kids (and there were a lot of kids watching this R-rated movie) will emulate.

Repeat after me: Guns are not toys. Don't point a gun at anything you aren't willing to destroy. Treat all guns as if they are loaded. After you pull the trigger, all the "Oh sh!t, I didn't mean to's!" in the world won't bring that bullet back and make the world right again.

Other than that, if you want to watch a good, mindless blowup movie, I recommend it. Best line: "You guys look like you've decided to do something stupid. We want to help."
Our Collapsing Schools Dept. - Humor

(In relation to the previous post.)

Teaching Math in 1950:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.
His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1960:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.
His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1970:
A logger exchanges a set "L" of lumber for a set "M" of money.
The cardinality of set "M" is 100. Each element is worth one dollar.
Make 100 dots representing the elements of the set "M."
The set "C", the cost of production contains 20 fewer points than set "M."
Represent the set "C" as a subset of set "M" and answer the following question: What is the cardinality of the set "P" of profits?

Teaching Math in 1980:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.
His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment:
Underline the number 20.

Teaching Math in 1990:
By cutting down beautiful forest trees, the logger makes $20.
What do you think of this way of making a living?
Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down the trees?
(There are no wrong answers.)

Teaching Math in 2000:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $120.
How does Arthur Andersen determine that his profit margin is $60?
How many documents were shredded to achieve this number?

Teaching Math in 2010:
El Loggero se habla with the truckero y se ponen de acuerdo con otro driver de la competencia y etc...
Our Collapsing Schools Dept.

Fox News comments on this New Orleans Times-Picayune story concerning the failure of the class validictorian at Alcee Fortier Senior High School to graduate because

(wait for it...)

she failed the math portion of the required exit exam.

Five times.

The exam tests at a 10th grade level.

She got an 'A' in algebra.

As Fox put it:
"They were giving her As for being a good kid. But they weren't teaching her."
I'm sure she felt good about herself. Until the real world reared up and smacked her in the face as it has a habit of doing.

Of course,
The principal blames the test.
It couldn't be the fault of the school system, could it?

Read both pieces. The Fox bit has a lot more on other education topics. The details in the Times-Picayune piece will make you want to burn the school down so we can start over from scratch.

Nod to Ravenwood for the pointer.

UPDATE:

Commenter Teri brings up something that I should have noted:
You didn't point out the absolute worst thing about this situation:
"With the kinds of grades she's earned, Green said she doesn't have any doubts about her abilities to do well in college. If she passes a summer retest, Green said she plans to enroll at Delgado Community College and pursue an elementary education degree."
Makes me want to scream!
Yup. Infinite feedback loop. With the kind of grades she's received, most people would expect to be able to do well. But earned? I think not. And if she goes to a college that actually requires her to learn, she might discover that those grades she "earned" have less value than the paper they're printed on.

And she wants to inflict her educational experience on our kids.

You're right, Teri, I missed that opportunity. Good catch.

And educators wonder about the people who home-school.
Well, THIS Should Stir Some Interest

Do you read Silflay Hraka? It's a multi-contributor blog that originated the Carnival of the Vanities (the August 20 installment to be hosted by Outside the Beltway). Well, now they've started what is sure to be a controversy. Contributor Captain Holley is going to recommend the four basic guns he recommends "to anyone beginning a gun collection." The first recommendation: A bolt-action centerfire rifle in .308 Winchester.

Allow me to weigh in here. I think there are actually six firearms anybody who shoots should have. These are:

A .22LR caliber rifle

A .22LR caliber handgun

A centerfire bolt-action rifle

A "sport-utility" rifle or, as I call it, your Militia rifle - semiautomatic, detachable magazine fed, in a military caliber.

A shotgun

A centerfire handgun

Of course, you are more than welcome to own more than one of any of these six, but one of each is a minimum. In my case, I have a 10/22 for the rifle, a Ruger MkII and a Contender for the .22 pistol (and I have a serious jones for a Ruger Single-Six), I own several centerfire bolt-action rifles (mostly military surplus sporters), an AR-15, a Mossburg 590, and my Kimber Classic Stainless round out the collection. (I have more than that, but I'm not going to give a complete inventory.) I'm far from completing the collection, however. Next up, when I can afford it, will be a Contender rifle barrel, stock, and forend to give me my first single-shot rifle, chambered in the wildcat Tactical .20 caliber (33 grain Hornady V-Max bullet with a muzzle velocity of 4,000fps.) And eventually, I'd like an FN-FAL, and I'm still looking for a S&W 25-5 .45 Long Colt with a 5" barrel, and.... Well, you get the idea.

I fully agree with Captain Holly's recommendation of a Savage Model 10 with a 3-9x40 scope in .308, though. Inexpensive and accurate. But I'd recommend starting with a .22 rimfire. You'll shoot more and learn more starting with something that doesn't kick. Recoil is an individual thing, but I'm convinced it's something you can learn to ignore (up to a certain point, and given reasonable ergonomics of the weapon.) If you start off with a rifle that whacks you pretty briskly, it's decidedly off-putting. I'm now to the point where I can run 100 rounds through my 1917 Enfield (.30-06) off the bench with very little discomfort, but lot of people complain that the .30-06 kicks too hard. If I hadn't spent a lot of time firing a No. 4 Enfield (.303 British) and a 96 Swedish Mauser (6.5x55) first, and just jumped in with the 1917, I might feel the same way. (I'm looking forward to getting my 48 Yugoslavian Mauser finished. The original military stock with the steel buttplate was a stout kicker. Perhaps with the new Richard's Microfit stock with a recoil pad it will be just as comfortable as the 1917. So, if you're going to start your collection with a centerfire rifle, the Savage Model 10 is an excellent choice - but get it in .223 caliber. Ammo is dirt cheap, and recoil is very light.

Reading the rest of Captain Holly's recommendations should be interesting.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Next Time, Stick it in His EAR

Via MadOgre comes this story of a man in North Carolina who came to the defense of a woman being robbed at an ATM. His weapon? A North American Arms .22 magnum mini-revolver.

The report:
Bystander shoots suspect during robbery at ATM

William "Don" Strickland takes his small-caliber handgun wherever he goes, just in case any criminals cross his path.
On Thursday, the former iron worker on permanent disability used it -- when he saw a young woman being robbed at an ATM and the robber trying to get away.

First Strickland shot the tires of the getaway car; then he shot the man inside once in the right leg.

The robber escaped, but soon Clayton police arrested Morris Levi Stith of Clayton after Stith checked into Johnston Memorial Hospital with a gunshot wound to the right leg. Stith was charged with robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, Clayton police said. Strickland probably will not be charged.

Stith complained about being shot as he hobbled into the magistrate's office in downtown Clayton with a police escort Thursday afternoon. "It's wrong, man," he said.
Oh, the irony.
The incident occurred a few minutes before 9 a.m. in front of the Bank of America branch at Clayton Corners Shopping Center in the western part of town.

Rebecca Lynn Newton, 20, of Barber Mill Road in Clayton said she was about to insert an envelope containing $400 from her paycheck into the ATM slot when a man shoved her from behind and said, "I'll take that."

Newton spun and grabbed the unarmed man by the shirt, causing him to fall, and she started screaming.

Strickland, 35, of Four Oaks was in his car waiting for the bank to open. He said in an interview that he heard a woman scream -- "Help, help, help, he's robbing me!" -- and sprang into action.

He said he "don't get around too good" because of an injury several years ago that required four titanium rods to be inserted in his back. Still, Strickland ran to a white Chevrolet Cavalier that was backed into a parking spot.

The robber had jumped into the car, and Newton was struggling with him by the car door.

The car started moving, and Strickland hollered at the robber to stop, his North American Arms .22-caliber Magnum revolver in his hand. Then he fired twice at a rear tire.
You can tell this is not a "big-city" paper. The word "hollered" would never be seen in the New York Times unless it was a quotation.
"He still wouldn't stop," Strickland said. "I was standing beside the car, and he tried to run me over.

"I had my hand in the car" with the gun in it, Strickland said, "and I asked him to stop again, and he wouldn't do it, so I shot him in the leg."
Just a bit of advice, but if you stuck the barrel in his ear he might hear you better.
When police arrived, Strickland told them he was sure he had shot the man in the right leg, and police notified area hospitals to be on the lookout for a patient with such a wound, said Lt. Bill Newsome of the Clayton Police Department.

Officers found $360 in cash on Stith, Newsome said.

Newsome said Strickland is unlikely to be charged because he is listed as the victim of the assault. Tom Lock, the Johnston County district attorney, said a person has a right to use deadly force to resist deadly force.
And this is the South, where people aren't punished for doing right.
"If the suspect in this case was attempting to run over a person, then that person could use deadly force to resist the assault," Lock said.

He added that intervening in a robbery involves some risk. "No one wants to encourage vigilante justice, but I certainly can understand that a person might feel compelled to intervene when he saw a crime being committed. I might do the same thing under similar circumstances."
Just have to get that "vigilante" word in there, don'tcha?
Strickland, who does not have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, said the gun had been lying on the dash of his car.

"I don't go to the grocery store without something today, because of things like that," he said.

Newton, a gas station clerk who took the day off after the robbery, said Strickland is her hero.

Her fianc e,
(sic) David Little, 40, said he, too, was grateful.

"I'm going to call him over the weekend and ask him what kind of steak he likes," said Little, who moved to Clayton with his fiance e this summer from Atlanta. "I'm going to have him and his wife and kids over for dinner."
Yup, that's the South. I do miss it sometimes.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Just Fvcking Marvelous

Looks like we've got another random serial killer.

Excerpt 1:
Serial sniper suspected in convenience store killings in W.Va.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Bullets that killed three victims this week outside Kanawha County convenience stores were fired from the same caliber and class of weapon, police said Friday night, but they stopped short of saying they were fired from the same gun.

"All three balls had the same characteristics," Kanawha County Sheriff Dave Tucker said after getting ballistics results from a State Police crime lab. "But we can't say for sure it's the same gun."
Excerpt 2:
Sniper suspect is large white man

Shooter might be serial killer, sheriff says.

Police speculated Friday that a large, white male driving a black pickup with an extended cab may be responsible for Thursday night’s killings outside two Kanawha County convenience stores, and possibly others.

Kanawha Sheriff Dave Tucker said at a Friday afternoon media conference that the killer “could be a possible serial-type murderer.”

Both victims of Thursday night’s convenience store shootings, Jeanie Patton, 31, and Okey Meadows, 26, were shot in the head area in a manner similar to the shooting of Gary Carrier Jr., 44, who was shot outside a Charleston convenience store Sunday night.
Please, let some armed citizen whack this nutcase.


Frank J. Continues his Firearms Tutorial

Money quote:
500 S&W Magnum: After caving in the anti-gun nuts, Smith & Wesson had to win back the heart of their consumers. They did this by making a freaking huge handgun caliber. If someone is robbing the house four houses down from you, you can shoot through all the houses and hit him with this.

If all of these calibers are too weak for you, those crazy Israelis at Magnum Research can make revolvers for you chambered in rifle rounds like the venerable .30-.30. The only purpose of these is to freak out people at a gun range, and it takes a lot to freak out people at a gun range.
Go read the rest here.

Hurry. Frank has declared WAR!! on Glenn Reynolds.

His site could become a smoking radioactive crater at any time.

THIS is TOO Weird!

Try it!

(Nod to Feces Flinging Monkey for the link)

Friday, August 15, 2003

Another Friday Five

1. How much time do you spend online each day?

Way, way too much.

2. What is your browser homepage set to?

I have a version of John C. Dvorak's Personal Portal installed on my harddrives both at home and at work. I like it.

3. Do you use any instant messaging programs? If so, which one(s)?

No. I use the IM feature over at AR15.com occasionally (when the site is up - the servers are in NY and are still down.)

4. Where was your first webpage located?

You're lookin' at it!

5. How long have you had your current website?

Let's see...Since Wednesday, May 14, 2003 at about 1:00 PM. (First post was 1:39, but I managed to wipe my first contribution without posting it. Newbies, sheesh.)
More on the Gun Industry Bankrupting Lawsuits

From that font of information, Jointogether.org, comes this update on the D.C. sniper lawsuit against Bushmaster:
Denied Again: Judge Refuses Bushmaster's Plea In Sniper Lawsuit

Tacoma, WA - Bushmaster, a gun distributor and manufacturer that is charged with supplying the DC-area sniper suspects with their assault weapon, was denied its second plea for a dismissal in the sniper lawsuit. The decision was announced in a ruling by Judge Frank E. Cuthbertson of the Pierce County Superior Court in Tacoma, Washington, on August 11, 2003. The court refused to overturn its prior ruling where it held that based on plaintiffs' allegations, Bushmaster knew or should have known that Bull's Eye was a reckless and incompetent dealer. The case is presently set to go to trial next July.
Really? "Charged with supplying...?" Bushmaster isn't charged with anything. That implies that there is a criminal "charge" layed. Bushmaster is defendant in a lawsuit where it is accused of negligence.

Bushmaster supplied the gun? It was my understanding that Malvo admitted to stealing it. And if Bushmaster "knew or should have known that Bull's Eye was a reckless and incompetent dealer" then why isn't the BATF being sued for not pulling their Federal Firearms License? Bull's Eye, if you weren't aware, was connected to Buford Furrow in 1997 when one of the guns he possessed was traced back to that shop. Bull's Eye had been investigated by the BATF for some time prior to Malvo's five-finger discount, according to this story. In fact, Bull's Eye could not account for 160 firearms two years prior to the theft of the Bushmaster rifle. So, who really is responsible? Sure as hell not Bushmaster, but they'll pay through the nose to defend themselves from this ridiculous lawsuit.

Question: Does the BATF tell gun manufacturers that licensed dealers are "reckless and incompetent?" If not, how else would they know?

Question 2: If the BATF can prove a licensed dealer is "reckless and incompetent," why don't they pull the license?
The DC-area sniper suspects, who were prohibited purchasers, obtained their assault rifle through the negligence of Bull's Eye Shooter Supply of Tacoma, Washington, one of Bushmaster's handpicked gun dealers. The gun lobby is attempting to override the judge's decision in this case and other gun related lawsuits with federal legislation immunizing the gun industry from liability in virtually all civil suits brought by gun violence victims.
So, according to the Brady Center (source for this "release") theft = negligence. If someone steals from you, you were obviously negligent and it's all your fault. All actions involving the stolen property are also your responsibility. Therefore, by this logic, if someone steals my truck and uses it in a drive-by shooting, I am liable and can be sued by the victims and their families because I was negligent and allowed the vehicle to be stolen, and both the dealership and Ford are liable because they knew they were selling a vehicle into a high-theft area.

Makes sense to me. (Not!)
Daniel Vice, an attorney for nine families of victims of the DC-area snipers said, "Any Senator who honestly reviews this case of negligent and reckless behavior by these gun sellers would immediately work to defeat the special interest legislation that seeks to strip away the rights of gun violence victims. The gun lobby's mission to protect bad apple gun sellers and take away victims' rights is absolutely detrimental to America's public safety." Mr. Vice is a Staff Attorney for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
That fisks itself. I can't do it justice.
The suit was filed on January 16, 2003 against Bushmaster Firearms, Inc., the distributor and manufacturer of the Bushmaster XM-15 E2S .223 caliber semi-automatic assault rifle used by the snipers and against Bull's Eye Shooter Supply, the gun dealer from which the Bushmaster mysteriously "disappeared," ending up in the hands of the snipers. A total of 238 guns have "disappeared" from Bull's Eye's store in three years - an average of more than one gun per week. Bull's Eye's guns have been traced to more than fifty crimes. The suit also names as defendants the two individual owners of Bull's Eye, Brian Borgelt and Charles N. Carr, as well as sniper suspects John Muhammad and Lee Malvo.
If they could prove that Bull's Eye sold the gun "under the table" to Muhammed or Malvo, then they have a case - against the shop. If an employee of Bull's Eye ripped it off and sold it, they'd have a case against that employee. But in no way could it be the responsibility of Bushmaster. Again, if Bull's Eye was known to be "reckless or incompetent" to the BATF, then they should have yanked the license (which they finally did.) Why isn't the BATF being sued? Oh, right - in order to sue the government, you have to get its permission. Not bleeding likely.
The suit charges Bull's Eye with operating its gun shop in such a grossly negligent manner that scores of guns, including the high-powered Bushmaster, inexplicably "disappeared" from the store. The suit asserts that Bull's Eye took the gun into its inventory in July 2002, that both sniper suspects visited the store after that date and that Muhammad practiced his sharpshooting in the store's shooting range. Because both sniper suspects were legally prohibited from buying guns, they could not have obtained the gun without the gun shop's negligence. Bushmaster Firearms is charged with negligence in continuing to sell high-firepower assault rifles through Bull's Eye even though government audits of the store had revealed hundreds of "missing" guns.
Government audits from before the theft of the gun. Again, since when is "theft" equal to "negligence?" And why is it BUSHMASTER's fault? (Because they are eeeeeeevil and have the deepest pockets - conditions which to liberals are often one and the same. But we are talking a gun manufacturer here. They're especially eeeeeevil.)
Legislation to grant the gun industry unprecedented immunity from legal claims passed the House of Representatives on April 9 of this year. It is currently pending in the Senate with 54 cosponsors. Several Senators have vowed a filibuster against the bill should it move to the Senate floor. The National Rifle Association has declared that the immunity legislation is its top legislative priority in Congress.
And this case is a perfect example of why.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

The NRA Gets Off its Ass and On the Silveira Bandwagon

After opposing the Silveira case in the California court system, the NRA files an amicus brief in favor of the case being heard by the Supreme Court. It's a good one, too. Go read.

My favorite part? They hammer on the "incorporation" question right off the bat. That one's been my particular hobby-horse since I started studying gun "control."

Here's hoping.
And This is a Bad Thing...Why?

Artist is John Sherffius, St. Louis Post Dispatch.

I don't think that's supposed to be my reaction to the cartoon, but it is. It's also my reaction to this one, also by Mr. Sheriffus:

Apparently I just don't get it.

Good for me.
Things That Make You Go "Hmm...."

On the way in to work this morning, I was behind a car that had a standard 8.5x11" piece of paper taped up in the hatchback window. Printed on it was a quotation, apparently printed on an ink-jet or laser printer in a bold, legible font:

"Nothing Enduring is Built on Violence" - Gandhi

Well, isn't that profound. But what was the point?

Of course, my first thought was "This person is a Bushwar protester" - as in "The use of violence to oust Saddam will result in nothing good." But then I thought about it a bit more. Saddam came to power violently, and maintained his rule violently. And he did not endure.

But it took violence to oust him.

What we're trying to do in Iraq now is non-violent - the reconstruction of a nation and the establishment of representative government.

Gandhi said some other things, too, one of which was:
"Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest."
Gandhi had a lot to say about the use of violence, but what it seems to boil down to is that initiating violence is evil, responding to it is not. The difference between those who oppose and those who support the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq is the understanding that those invasions were a response to, not an initiation of violence.

This is why I find the liberal desire for the U.S. to intervene militarily in Liberia so hypocritical. They expect us to go in there and bang heads in order to stabilize the country, but they object to our military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. It's use of violence in all three cases. The only difference is that Liberia has essentially zero U.S. national security implications. The same cannot be said about Iraq nor Afghanistan.

The funny thing is, the use of non-violent protest in the mode of Gandhi would probably be effective in Liberia - assuming you could get the international press to pay much attention. The use of non-violent protest in Iraq and Afghanistan would only have resulted in a lot more mass graves.

Often non-violence doesn't work.

Ask the victims of Tiananmen Square.
"We are Kevin of Blog. You Will be Assimiliated. Resistance is Futile."

(Thanks to Kevin Schaum of Lazypundit for the title of this post.)

Kevin of Whizbangblog has this week's Blogging Kevins post up, and I'm a contributor. Damn, there are a lot of us! (I almost used Kevin McGehee's post title: "My God! It's Full of Kevins!" but that would be unethical.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

OK, THIS is Interesting...

Steven "Spock" Den Beste has a three part essay up on the difference between Europe and America, and some predictions as to what the future holds for Europe. In particular, I found this passage fascinating:
(T)he general trend in Europe is to continue to reduce the work week while continuing to implement policies which give businesses a disincentive to invest and hire. If there's any way out of this trap, I haven't seen any discussion of it.

There are really only a few ways this can end. First, the voters in Europe could come to their senses and face the reality that their current policies are unsustainable. They'd have to accept a radical reduction in entitlements, a radical reduction in business regulations, and a lot of other changes all of which would be viewed in the short term as being hostile to labor and friendly to business. There would have to be broad acknowledgement that Socialism isn't economically sustainable. But before there can be any chance of that kind of political change, things are going to have to get a lot worse. And if things do get worse, that's probably not how the voters would react.

For one thing, the kind of people who would feel that way and help push the system socialism won't be there. Europe has a safety valve to release capitalist sympathizers: they emigrate to the US. People who hate the US system will stay behind and it will be those who will end up trying to solve this. (It's one of several ways in Europe is badly damaged by brain drain.)

So what's far more likely is that the voters will blame business leaders. They're generally thought of as villains now, and eventually someone will point out that if business leaders are unwilling to take the risk of expansion, then the government will need to force them to do so. The business leaders should be making their decisions on the basis of social conscience, not in crass pursuit of profit. Profit is evil anyway, and if the leaders refuse to serve their nations the way they should, well then we'll damned well force them to do what's right. And that way we can get job growth without having to eliminate the extremely important and obviously just job protection regulations or reward the filthy money-grubbing capitalists with tax cuts.
As I've noted, I'm slogging through Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged for the first time, and that is her entire premise in a nutshell.

I've said in here before that she never made a point she wasn't willing to beat to a bloody pulp, but that doesn't mean she was wrong.

I disagree with a lot of the Objectivist philosophy, but when it comes down to describing the behavior of socialist governments and the people willing to live under them, she was, apparently, spot-on.

Steven concludes, though, with this cheery prediction:
So in the end what you'll get is economic collapse. There are various ways in which this can play out, but none of them are good. And as long as Europe is locked in this economic death-spiral, they are unlikely to be a military threat to us, and at least that's a blessing.

But what comes after the collapse or emerges politically during the collapse? The historical record suggests a new rise of Fascism is the most likely outcome. In the midst of economic chaos, with a huge population of unemployed and people who are dissatisfied, charismatic leaders will appear who will blame the problems on foreigners and claim they can solve the problems if only they're given unrestrained power. Once elected, they abolish elections, dismantle most of the programs which are causing trouble, and actually do improve the business climate. But they do other things, too, and few of them are likely to be good.

The classic example of this is the rise of the Nazis after the fall of the Weimar Republic, but that's by no means the only example of that kind of thing from European history. Historically speaking, when things go to hell in a handbasket, Europeans tend to look for charismatic and nationalistic demagogues who promise them pride and glory in exchange for strict obedience. That's a price Europeans have seemed almost eager to pay.

We can't discount the possibility that in fifty years the EU and most existing national governments in Europe will be gone, replaced by a new Fascist dictatorship, which among other things chooses to make the investment in a modern military and which hopes to use it in yet another round of world conquest.

And we might not be able to interfere before this point, because France has nuclear weapons. Even though Europe won't have the ability to threaten us using conventional forces for the next few decades, they do have the ability to threaten us with nuclear conflagration. Of course, if they nuked us we'd also nuke them, but the threat of it means that we might not be able to significantly interfere to prevent the rise of a new Europe-wide Fascist state, which could follow historical patterns and become militaristic and expansionist.

If that happened, the world would become a very interesting but much less safe place.
Which doesn't give me the warm fuzzies for the future my grandchildren will be living in. But I think Steven makes a very strong case, the same as that made by Alexander Tytler. I just hope that we are able to avoid the same fate here. A lot can happen in 50 years.
This is Too Cool

Aaron the Liberal Slayer has put up the 2008 Blogger Ticket on the right-hand side of his blog so it's always on the front page. Thanks, Aaron!
Bring 'Em On

Instapundit has been covering the "flypaper" theory of the American occupation of Iraq acting to draw Islamist militants into conflict with our military there, rather than our civilian population over here. His coverage started back in July, and here's some more evidence. A New York Times article describing exactly what's going on:
Iraq luring militants eager to fight U.S.

In much the same way as the Russian invasion of Afghanistan stirred an earlier generation of young Muslims determined to fight the infidel, the U.S. presence in Iraq is prompting a rising tide of Muslim militants to slip into the country to fight, Iraqi officials and others say.

"Iraq is the nexus where many issues are coming together - Islam versus democracy, the West vs. the axis of evil, Arab nationalism vs. some different types of political culture," said Barham Saleh, the prime minister of a Kurdish-controlled part of northern Iraq. "If the Americans succeed here, this will be a monumental blow to everything the terrorists stand for."
That's the idea.
Violence against U.S. troops continued Tuesday. One soldier from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment was killed and another wounded when their convoy struck three improvised explosive devices while driving near Ramadi, about 60 miles west of Baghdad.

The death brought to at least 57 the number of American servicemen killed in attacks since the end of major combat operations on May 1.
I believe, however, that these men have died doing what they volunteered for - defending their nation. At least they often get the chance to capture or kill the people trying to kill them.
Well-organized fighters

Recent intelligence suggests the militants are well-organized. One returning group of fighters from the radical Ansar al-Islam organization captured in the Kurdish region two weeks ago consisted of five Iraqis, a Palestinian and a Tunisian.

Among their possessions were five forged Italian passports for a different group of militants they were apparently supposed to join, said Dana Ahmed Majid, the director of general security for the region.

The fighters sneak over Iraq's largely unpoliced borders in small groups, bearing instructions to go to a safe house where they can whisper one password to gain admittance and then lie low awaiting further instructions, according to Iraqi security officials.
As opposed to slipping over America's largely unpoliced borders in small groups and doing the same thing over here, but to civilians.
Flourishing amid chaos

Iraqi officials say they expect a broad spectrum of Muslim militants to flood Iraq. They believe that Ansar al-Islam, a small fundamentalist group believed to have links with al-Qaida, forms the backbone of the underground network. The group was forced out of northern Iraq by a huge attack during the war.

"All previous experiences with the activities of the underground organizations proved that they flourish in countries with a chaotic security situation, unchecked borders and the lack of a central government - Iraq is all that," said Muhammad Salah, an expert on militant groups and the Cairo bureau chief of the newspaper Al Hayat. "It is the perfect environment for fundamentalist groups to operate and grow."
But for how much longer?
The extent of their activities remains cloudy. But Web sites believed linked to al-Qaida are clear enough about the envisaged fight: "The struggle with America has to be carefully managed, the 'electric shock method' must be applied, relentless shocks that haunt the Americans all the time everywhere, without giving them a break to regain balance or power."
Last shocks of a dying electric eel? We'll see. The difference between the Russians in Afghanistan and the Americans in Iraq is that we're trying to make their lives better, and the majority of Iraqi's seem to know this. But you wouldn't know that from the reporting the major news media is giving us.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

If You Really Think Public Health-Care is a Good Idea, Consider Public Housing, Public Restrooms, and Public Pools.

Chuck Asay, Colorado Springs Gazette.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Talk About Standing Up for Your Beliefs!

Via SayUncle, comes the continuing saga of Francis Warin, a Frenchman who moved to the U.S. in 1961 at the age of 30 so he could be a weapon designer. Peripherally involved in a BATF entrapment case (imagine that!) in 1970, he studied the Second Amendment and concluded (as have a large number of gun rights proponents) that it meant what it said, and not what the politicians and the judges said it meant, he first filed a class-action lawsuit that was denied.

Then he got serious.

He manufactured a machine gun (weapon designer, remember) and refused to pay the $200 'tax.' When that didn't get him arrested, he took it physically down to the local BATF office where they not only didn't shoot him or stomp on his pets, they didn't even bother to arrest him. He finally had to embarrass the government by telling his story to a newspaper before they arrested and charged him.

Let's just say it didn't turn out like he wanted. The case was U.S. v Warin, and it was one of the worst cases for gun-rights supporters we've seen. It was, in fact, a textbook example of the "collective rights" interpretation of the Second Amendment based on U.S. v Miller and other cases subsequent to Miller. (Remember, this was 1975 - as the gun-control movement and the "collective rights" argument was approaching its zenith in the post-60's, post-Nixon era.)

Mr. Warin was convicted of a felony and received probation with an interesting stipulation: He had the permission of the court to retain his right to arms even though he was a convicted felon because otherwise he'd be out of a job.

So Mr. Warin went back to his job.

In 1999, now retired, Mr. Warin tried to buy a gun from a dealer. He filled out a Form 4473 and, in accordance with the requirements, indicated that he was a convicted felon, but thought that the court decision allowed him to purchase a gun. Wrong again. And he couldn't get a hearing on it, either. So he apparently intimated to the FBI that he could "bring a bomb" to them. They were not amused. They raided his home (I don't know if any kittens were stomped - this was the FBI) and took 22 weapons. But didn't press charges. He fought for return of his property, and lost.

So this time, he manufactured a suppressed .22 pistol and sent it via registered mail to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Toledo. He got arrested again and thrown in jail where he is now on a hunger strike.

I will grant that Mr. Warin has courage and is resolute in his quest for justice. Unfortunately, I don't expect him to fare any better than John Lee Haney did when he essentially repeated Mr. Warin's original argument.

What Mr. Warin did, and is doing again is tilting at windmills. Now, at 72 and starving, he looks the part of Don Quixote. We need people willing to tilt at windmills. We need people to be unwilling to move to the back of the bus. We need people willing to stand up for their rights.

And we need to spread the word when they do, not let it languor on page 6 of section Q of the local newspaper.

Make no mistake, this is civil disobedience by someone convinced he is right, and who is willing to pay the consequences of, well let Voltaire say it:
It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.
As for me, I'm an reminded of Claire Wolfe:
It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards.
It might not be too late. The next test is Silveira v. Lockyer. Will the Supreme Court hear it? And if so, how will they decide?

Mr. Warin is a brave man, and I honor his grit. I just don't hold much hope of him winning against this particular windmill.
The Power to Tax = The Power to Destroy

From Keepandbeararms.com comes the link to this story:
Feeling salty over pepper spray

Getting pepper spray in Massachusetts has never been easy. New fees make it even harder. Will local legislators help make the Bay State the 'spray state?'


In theory, buying a can of pepper spray isn't really all that hard. In most parts of the country, getting hold of such self-defense sprays poses little challenge for citizens of legal age with $20 in their pocket and a desire to temporarily incapacitate any shady character that comes too close.

Having a relatively speedy Internet connection helps, too.

By just typing the words "pepper spray" into any Internet search engine, dozens of self-defense-related Web sites immediately appear, all of which offer customers the chance to buy personal protection sprays in any number of shapes and sizes.

"It stops your attacker ... it hurts them," promises one such Web site that not only sells pepper spray in the standard aerosol cans, but also caters to customers who prefer to remain incognito. Pepper spray containers in the form of pens, lipstick cases, cell phones and pagers are also readily available to those looking to fend off foes.

"It will slam their eyes shut for 10 minutes while you safely get away," the Web site continues. "Hours later, you're safe, and they are left miserable and humiliated."

Sound unpleasant? You bet. But as the Web site explains, people have a right to protect and defend themselves. Seeing as how pepper spray remains one of the few non-lethal and relatively inexpensive means of self-defense on the market, it's availability to customers is a no brainer.

Unless, of course, you live in Massachusetts.

Here, carrying even a miniscule vial of aerosol self-defense spray without acquiring it through the proper channels may be considered criminally consistent with smuggling fireworks across the New Hampshire border or illegally downloading music onto computers. Get it, but whatever you do, don't let anyone catch you with it.

It's been that way since 1998, when state legislators passed the Gun Control Act, otherwise known as Chapter 180, and made it impossible for anyone in Massachusetts to own a weapon without first being approved for a Firearms Identification Card. Living in a post-Columbine world where serious questions are continually raised about gun ownership, legislators wasted no time in passing Chapter 180.

Still, there are those who feel the law is imperfect - for starters, the fact it required anyone who wanted to buy pepper spray for protection to acquire an FID card. And cough up the $25 fee that went with it.

Earlier this year, with the state in financial turmoil and Gov. Mitt Romney using all kinds of stopgap solutions to try to solve the budget crunch, the FID card registration fee quadrupled to $100. The move not only made it that much harder for anyone in Massachusetts to buy pepper spray, it also fueled a growing sentiment among Bay Staters and North Shore residents that people looking only to protect themselves are instead being penalized.

They are people like Richard Griffith, who recently encouraged his fiancée to consider carrying pepper spray, only to discover that it could take up to 140 days for her to receive her FID Card, not to mention the hassle of being fingerprinted and undergoing a thorough background examination.

To Griffith, the recent fee increase coupled with the state's already stringent laws regarding pepper spray simply makes little sense. He says it borders on ludicrous when a sea of red tape and prohibitive fees stymie people whose only interest is self-protection. In his eyes, it's time Massachusetts eased up and made pepper spray more accessible

"I think there's definitely an anti-self-defense component to all of this," Griffith says. "I know the people that sponsored Chapter 180 were very well intentioned, but the legislation really seems slapped together.

"I can't really criticize legislators for wanting to be proactive and wanting to prevent tragedies from occurring, but sometimes I think they do things that are foolish," he adds. "This is one of them."

There are signs, however, that some legislators are looking to atone for their officious deeds. State Rep. Bradley Jones, who represents part of Lynnfield, has sponsored a bill that could free pepper spray seekers from having any responsibility to pay exorbitant amounts for an FID card. Whether that actually happens remains to be seen, but Jones believes it would definitely be a step in the right direction.

"I just don't think it's necessary (to have these fees), says Jones. "We're just making it that much more difficult for people. These are non-lethal weapons we're talking about. They're just ways for people to protect themselves in a difficult situation.

"I think he need to recognize that instances of physical aggression and sexual violence is far too prevalent," Jones adds. "Pepper spray is one way for victims to be able to protect themselves."
(All emphasis mine.)

There's much more. Here are some appropriate quotes:
Experience teaches us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent. - Louis D. Brandeis

The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding. - Louis D. Brandeis

The people of the various provinces are strictly forbidden to have in their possession any swords, short swords, bows, spears, firearms, or other types of arms. The possession of unnecessary implements makes difficult the collection of taxes and dues and tends to foment uprisings." - Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598), Japanese Shogun

"False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Can it be supposed that those who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity, the most important of the code, will respect the less important and arbitrary ones, which can be violated with ease and impunity, and which, if strictly obeyed, would put an end to personal liberty --so dear to men, so dear to the enlightened legislator-- and subject innocent persons to all the vexations that the guilty alone ought to suffer? Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man. They ought to be designated as laws not preventive but fearful of crimes, produced by the tumultuous impression of a few isolated facts, and not by thoughtful consideration of the inconveniences and advantages of a universal decree." - Thomas Jefferson, quoting Beccaria

"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible to live without breaking laws." - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

"The ruling class doesn't care about public safety. Having made it very difficult for States and localities to police themselves, having left ordinary citizens with no choice but to protect themselves as best they can, they now try to take our guns away. In fact they blame us and our guns for crime. This is so wrong that it cannot be an honest mistake." - former U.S. Sen. Malcolm Wallop (R-Wy.)

If you think of yourselves as helpless and ineffectual, it is certain that you will create a despotic government to be your master. The wise despot, therefore, maintains among his subjects a popular sense that they are helpless and ineffectual. — Frank Herbert

Many politicians are in the habit of laying it down as a self-evident proposition, that no people ought to be free till they are fit to use their freedom. The maxim is worthy of the fool in the old story, who resolved not to go into the water till he had learned to swim. If men are to wait for liberty till they become wise and good in slavery, they may indeed wait forever. — Lord Thomas Macaulay
Sorry, but that's my way of ranting. Or one of them, at least.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

If I Had Emotions, I'd be Pleased

According to this quiz I'm Data:

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

A controlled personality with a vast range of skills and behavior, you are often intrigued by the people and places surrounding you.

Can't say I'm surprised.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

READ THIS!

NOW!!! (click the post title)

Via Acidman.
Frank J. Gives Basic Gun Instructions

You've GOT to read this! Excerpt:
Here are the different types of guns:

* Revolver: this is a gun with a cylinder that "revolves"
* Semi-automatic pistol: this is a pistol that's sorta automatic
* Shotgun: this is a "gun" that fires "shot"
* Rifle: I don't what the hell this is. Apparently it's rifled or something
* Machine gun: This is a gun that uses a little machine to fire bullets rapidly. Don't bother looking for the machine; it's very small.
* Sub-machine gun: Like a machine gun, but it goes underwater.
* Glue gun: Fires hot glue. If you're creative, it's great for arts and crafts. If you're really, really creative, you can kill someone with it.
Sometimes Frank just slays me!
I Wish MY Job Application Looked Like THIS One!

Just received this in e-mail:
WAL-MART Job Application: This is an actual job application that a 17 year old boy submitted to Wal-Mart in Florida .. and they hired him because he was so honest and funny! He now works in loss prevention...
Well, I don't know if I believe THAT, but it reads good!
NAME: Greg Bulmash.

SEX: Not yet. Still waiting for the right person (or one who'll cooperate)

DESIRED POSITION: Company's President or Vice President. But seriously, whatever's available. If I was in a position to be picky, I wouldn't be applying here in the first place.

DESIRED SALARY: $185,000 a year plus stock options and a Michael Ovitz style severance package. If that's not possible, make an offer and we can haggle.

EDUCATION: Yes.

LAST POSITION HELD: Target for middle management hostility.

SALARY: A lot less than I'm worth.

MOST NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT: My incredible collection of stolen pens and post-it notes.

REASON FOR LEAVING: It sucked.

HOURS AVAILABLE TO WORK: Any.

PREFERRED HOURS: 1:30-3:30 p. m. Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL SKILLS? Yes, but they're better suited to a more intimate environment.

MAY WE CONTACT YOUR CURRENT EMPLOYER? If I had one, wouldn't I be there?

DO YOU HAVE ANY PHYSICAL CONDITIONS THAT WOULD PROHIBIT YOU FROM LIFTING UP TO 50 Lbs.?: Of what?

DO YOU HAVE A CAR?: I think the more appropriate question here would be "Do you have a car that runs?"

HAVE YOU RECEIVED ANY SPECIAL AWARDS OR RECOGNITION? I may already be winner of the Publishers Clearing house Sweepstakes.

DO YOU SMOKE? On the job no, on my breaks yes.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE DOING IN FIVE YEARS? Living in the Bahamas with a fabulously wealthy dumb sexy blonde supermodel who thinks I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread. Actually, I'd like to be doing that now.


DO YOU CERTIFY THAT THE ABOVE IS TRUE AND COMPLETE TO THE BEST OF YOUR KNOWLEDGE? Yes. Absolutely.

SIGN HERE: Aries.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Photoshoppers RULE

One of the guys on AR15.com created this faux movie poster, and I just had to put it up here:

That's OUTSTANDING!
Pass a New Gun Control Law, Make Lots of New Criminals Out of Good Citizens

Australia has "tightened" the "loopholes" in its gun laws again, and is about to engage in a buyback compensated confiscation of firearms from innocent civilians. But many, according to this report, won't comply. And that will make them criminals. In for a penny....

The money quote?
Geelong Gun and Rod Association president Miles Hodge said most antiques were harmless because ammunition was unavailable ``or they're so ancient they're more likely to blow up in your face than they are to kill someone''.

He said the buyback would not make the community safer because illegal unregistered firearms used for criminal purposes outweighed registered banned guns used by genuine collectors.
That's because it isn't about safety. It's about control.
The Friday Five

1. What's the last place you traveled to, outside your own home state/country?

Portland, Oregon. That's where I was Tuesday through Thursday. Actually, Forest Grove, but it's a suburb.

2. What's the most bizarre/unusual thing that's ever happened to you while traveling?

On my honeymoon my wife and I got the last room at the Holiday Inn in the town I grew up in - and a hurricane came ashore right on top of the town that night. Wasn't much of a hurricane, though. I'd been through worse.

3. If you could take off to anywhere, money and time being no object, where would you go?

The Alpha Quadrant. Warp factor nine.

4. Do you prefer traveling by plane, train or car?

If I have my druthers, I'll drive.

5. What's the next place on your list to visit?

I'm planning to spend my tenth wedding anniversary on a beach in the Lower Keys. But that's just under two years from now.
Please, Allow Me to Fisk...

Instapundit pointed to this USA Today piece on the political third-rail that gun control has become. I thought it was interesting, but (of course) I had some comments:
Gun-control debate gets muzzled

On the same day last month, five factory workers in Mississippi were shot and killed by a co-worker and five people in a family in Bakersfield, Calif., were killed by gunfire.

Not too long ago, dramatic slayings such as these would have created a new chapter in the national debate over gun control. There would have been angry speeches in Congress and new proposals to crack down on firearms.

But today, there is mostly silence.
That's a point I made in an earlier essay.
Democrats, who believe that their calls for gun controls might have cost them the White House in 2000, are less willing to take on the gun lobby. Polls suggest that public fears about terrorism have helped mute the debate.

Meanwhile, the gun industry is racking up legislative wins. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, says there are not enough votes in the House to renew Congress' 1994 ban on certain assault weapons when it expires next year.
I certainly hope so. I was pissed off enough when it passed. I'd really be P.O.'d if Dubya signed the renewal.
And now, gun rights supporters are closing in on what probably would be their most enduring victory.

The Senate is close to passing a bill that would shield firearms manufacturers and dealers from civil lawsuits brought by victims of gun crimes. The measure, which the House passed 285-140 as 63 Democrats voted with the GOP majority, is an effort to shield the gun industry from the type of lawsuits that have been successful against tobacco and asbestos companies.

The popularity of the bill — it has 54 co-sponsors in the Senate, including several top Democrats — underscores the changed political dynamics of gun control. Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid, D-Nev., has signed on, and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., might do so.
Which would be a pretty fair gauge of just how at-risk Daschle thinks his seat is.
The political divide over gun control has long cut geographically: Rural areas generally oppose greater controls on firearms, and urban areas generally favor them. Republicans usually oppose restrictions; Democrats usually back them. But Democrats in rural areas where hunting is a tradition have a tough time winning elections if they are seen by voters as anti-gun.
Let me interject something here: I know that the term "anti-gun" is just shorthand reporterese, but realistically the term successfully redefines the issue. It isn't that the electorate thinks the politician is "anti-gun," but that the electorate believes the politician wants to disarm law-abiding citizens. That isn't anti-gun, that's anti-citizen - and the electorate has generally known it. Since 911, a lot more of the electorate has woken to that fact.
That longtime party dilemma came into sharp focus after Democrat Al Gore, a supporter of gun controls, lost the key states of Arkansas, Tennessee and West Virginia en route to his narrow defeat in the 2000 presidential election. Some Democrats believe Gore's stance on guns was to blame.
Some Republicans, Libertarians, and Independents thought so too.
Democrats became even more reticent after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, made improving security a national priority.

When Republican pollster David Winston asked Americans about plans to allow pilots to carry guns in the cockpit, he found that married women with children — traditionally the strongest voices favoring gun control — were among the biggest supporters.

"The soccer mom who wants to gets guns off the playgrounds through gun control is the same mom who wants pilots to be armed " he said. "The dynamic has changed. . . . It's putting it in the context of safety."
And didn't that shock their socks off! Hell, we've always put it in the context of safety. And for that matter so has our opposition. We say it increases your safety, they say it increases your risk. Looks like the soccer-mom contingent has made its choice.
Immunity legislation

Today, much of the conflict over gun control is focused on the litigation bill that is before Congress.

The bill would stop pending civil lawsuits and prevent future claims by victims of gun crimes against companies that sold, imported or manufactured the weapons used in such crimes. Similar legislation has been passed in 32 states. But opponents say the federal proposal is more sweeping and could prevent the firearms industry from being sued in almost any circumstance.

"I would say the breadth of the immunity granted is unprecedented," says Dennis Henigan, legal counsel to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. "No other industry enjoys the kind of protection from legal actions that this bill would grant the gun industry."
So sayeth the mouthpiece of the organization that promotes the book Every Handgun is Aimed at You: The Case for Banning Handguns by Josh Sugarman, executive director of the Violence Policy Center. What do you expect him to say?
The Brady Center, which is providing legal assistance in about two dozen lawsuits against the industry, says the bill would stop a lawsuit filed by relatives of those slain in a series of attacks that included the sniper shootings last fall in the Washington, D.C., area.
As well it should. The whole point of these lawsuits is to bankrupt the manufacturers since the gunban control groups have failed to shut them down legislatively.
Representatives of the firearms industry say legitimate businesses that sell guns legally should not be held responsible when the guns end up in criminals' hands. They say the legislation before Congress is needed to protect gunmakers and dealers from bankruptcy, which has become a threat as the number of lawsuits against the industry increases.

Lawrence Keane, general counsel of the National Shooting Foundation, says gun dealers or manufacturers have not lost a case yet but have spent more than $100 million in legal fees defending themselves.
Now, it might be that my tinfoil hat is on a bit askew, but was it an innocent mistake to screw up Lawrence Keane's position? He's Vice President and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. So, he represents sport shooters, not gang-bangers. OK?
"If a dealer sells a legal product to a consumer who has undergone a criminal background check and filled out the federally required forms, and (who) later gives that gun to someone else to commit a crime, that dealer should not be sued," Keane says. Dealers or manufacturers who violate gun laws should be subject to lawsuits, he says. But Henigan counters that if the federal bill becomes law, the victims' families in the sniper lawsuit would have to prove that the owner of the Bull's Eye Shooter Supply in Tacoma, Wash., willfully violated gun laws involving the specific gun used in the slayings.
Well, HORRORS! Apparently Mr. Henigan believes that, simply because the owner of Bull's Eye Shooter Supply should pay regardless of the facts.
That could be difficult to prove in court, Henigan says. The shop owner, Brian Borgelt, has claimed that the rifle allegedly used by John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo was shoplifted.
The facts are that Brian Borgelt ran a shoddy operation, that the BATF knew he ran a shoddy operation, but the BATF only recently yanked Mr. Borgelt's license because of all the publicity. It would seem to me that the party that needs to be sued for not doing their job is the BATF, but we know how likely that is. According to a Seattle Times report, Lee Boyd Malvo confessed that he stole the gun from the gun shop. (Original story is not available on-line, but reference to it is in this one.) Yes, by all appearances, Bull's Eye was badly run, but it's the job of the BATF to control that - not stomp kittens. If Malvo had fingered Borgelt for selling the gun under the table, then there'd be grounds for a suit, and the "immunity" legislation wouldn't save him.

But somebody please explain to me why (other than perceived deep pockets) Bushmaster is being sued? How is it their fault?
The bill to shield gunmakers and sellers from lawsuits was passed by the House in April, while much of the nation's attention was focused on Iraq.
With the unspoken: "Those sneaky bastards!"
In the Senate, sponsors quickly signed on. Opponents, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., promise to filibuster the bill to try to prevent it from coming up for a vote. But sponsors need just six more votes, for a total of 60, to end a filibuster and force a vote.

Tobacco model

Litigation against the gun industry has come on the heels of lawsuits that cost tobacco companies billions of dollars in settlements.
From an industry that can support those kinds of losses. The gun industry in America is not so large, regardless of our love of guns. The tactic isn't to milk the companies for everything they can, it's to bleed them to death through lawsuit after lawsuit, regardless of the outcome. That's why the legislation is necessary.
In 1998, Chicago, which had banned the sale of handguns, sued the firearms industry. The city claimed that the industry had created a public nuisance through sales patterns that allowed guns to be diverted to criminals. Within two years, 33 other cities and counties sued on similar grounds.

There is no count of the number of gun crime victims who have sued, but their claims include allegations of unsafe design and negligent distribution.
And they can still sue for unsafe design - but not if the gun goes off when the trigger is pulled. Negligent distribution? That one doesn't fly anywhere.
So far, none of the lawsuits has been successful.
Gee, I wonder why?
Suits in New Orleans, Miami, Atlanta, Wilmington, Del., and Camden County, N.J., have been dismissed. Boston and Cincinnati voluntarily dropped their claims, in part because of cost.
And remember, they're doing it on the taxpayer's back. The gun industry isn't.
About a dozen of the local lawsuits are still working their way through the courts. Henigan says he is heartened by several appellate decisions that have allowed suits in Ohio, Illinois and New Jersey to go to trial. But he believes that much of the pending litigation could be dismissed if Congress passes the immunity bill.

Even without the legislation, advocates of holding gunmakers and dealers liable for gun violence may have trouble convincing juries of it.

Peter Schuck, a Yale Law School professor, says gun litigation differs from tobacco litigation in key ways. Juries, he says, have little sympathy for cigarette companies, but they do for gunmakers.

Establishing liability on the part of the gun industry, he says, will be more difficult. "It is almost universally accepted that smoking causes lung cancer," he says, but linking gunmakers and dealers to violence is more difficult to prove.
Perhaps because they can't? And they know it?
Mike Ramirez Responds to the Secret Service

In case you weren't aware, Pulitzer Prize winning political cartoonist Mike Ramirez got into a bit of hot water with the Secret Service with this cartoon:

(which I put up a while back.)

Well, now he has a cartoon up in response to the reaction of the Secret Service:

Ayup.

And here's one worth a thousand words:



I really like Mike!
Blogsnot Strikes Again!

Apparently Blogger is having a problem with permalinks. Old ones work. New ones don't. Bummer.
The Reynolds/Lucas 2008 Ticket Picks Up Steam!

Although there are still a few holes in the proposed Cabinet, the "Elect the Great in 2008" campaign continues. Now Jeff Soyer of Alphecca has gotten Chris Muir, of Day by Day to create the first campaign poster - which kicks ass! Go take a look.

I'm still waiting for Cox & Forkum to weigh in.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

"Gun SAFETY" = "Gun ELIMINATION." Just Like "Gun CONTROL" Used to.

Via Acidman, I find this Washington Post Times piece on the latest proposed "Gun SAFETY" bill. Excerpts:
Gun violence folly

In the latest display of how far gun control advocates will go to devise new methods to limit law-abiding Americans' ability to purchase guns, Sen. Jon Corzine, New Jersey Democrat (and chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee), and Rep. Patrick Kennedy, Rhode Island Democrat, have come up with a bill giving federal bureaucrats far-reaching authority to regulate gun "safety." The recently introduced Corzine-Kennedy bill would give the Justice Department the authority "to set minimum safety standards for the manufacture, design and distribution of firearms, issue recalls and warnings, collect data on gun-related death and injury, and limit the sale of products when no other remedy is sufficient," Mr. Corzine's Web site says.
Minimum safety standards that, of course, will need to be endlessly "tightened" to eliminate "loopholes" and "save just one life." Recalls and warnings on guns that have been manufactured for decades, but are now found to be "unsafe" - because they're capable of hurling small metal projectiles at high velocity when someone operates the trigger. And "limit the sale of products" means "limit the sales to zero for the general populace, but let government officials have whatever they deem "necessary."
The legislation is backed by a coalition of gun control supporters and liberal groups, including the Brady Campaign, the Violence Policy Center, the NAACP, the American Bar Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Consumer Federation of America.
The usual suspects.
A careful reading of the Corzine-Kennedy bill, however, suggests that it would give sweeping powers to an attorney general (particularly if someone like Janet Reno were to assume that position) to make life miserable for anyone involved in the sale or manufacturing of firearms. Title I of the bill would give the attorney general the authority to put forward any regulation he or she deems "reasonably necessary to reduce or prevent unreasonable risk of injury" from a particular gun. Moreover, "any person" would be allowed to petition the attorney general to "require the recall, repair, or replacement of a firearm product, or issuance of refunds with respect to a firearm product." If there are any limits on such powers, they certainly aren't apparent from reading the bill.
It is one of my greatest fears that someone like Maryland AG J. Joseph Curran will get appointed to that post under some future Democratic administration.

Mr. Curran is the author of the anti-gun manifesto "A Farewell to Arms."

Read what he advocates.

At least he's honest enough to say it.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Another Blast from the Past!

A quick one before I head for the airport. Jane Galt had a recent post on "Why can't the Democrats seem to get it together?" and it's stirred a bit of controversy in the comment section over just who actually won the 2000 election. That reminded me of a piece I wrote during the debacle on the lost, lamented Themestream.com site (which was also picked up by Keepandbeararms.com - this is the piece that got me banned from posting at Democraticunderground.com. Can't imagine why.)
An Uncomfortable Conclusion

With the continuing legal maneuvers in the Florida election debacle, I have been forced to a conclusion that I may have been unconsciously fending off. The Democratic party thinks we're stupid. Not "amiable uncle Joe" stupid, but DANGEROUSLY stupid. Lead-by-the-hand-no-sharp-objects-don't-put-that-in-your-mouth stupid. And they don't think that just Republicans and independents are stupid, no no! They think ANYBODY not in the Democratic power elite is, by definition, a drooling idiot. A muttering moron. Pinheads barely capable of dressing ourselves.

Take, for example, the position under which the Gore election machine petitioned for a recount - that only supporters of the Democratic candidate for President lacked the skills necessary to vote properly, and that through a manual recount those erroneously marked ballots could be "properly" counted in Mr. Gore's favor. They did this in open court and on national television, and with a straight face.

So, it is with some regret that I can no longer hold that uncomfortable conclusion at bay:

They're right. We are.

Not all of us, of course, but enough. Those of us still capable of intelligent, logical, independent thought have been overwhelmed by the public school system production lines that have been cranking out large quantities of substandard product for the last thirty-five years or so. The majority of three or four generations have managed to make it into the working world with no knowledge of history, no understanding of the Constitution or civics, no awareness of geography, no ability to do even mildly complex mathematics, no comprehension of science, and realistically little to no ability to read with comprehension, or write with clarity. And we seem to have developed attention spans roughly equivalent to that of your average small bird.

After all, about half the public accepted the Democratic premise that we were too stupid to vote correctly because their guy didn't win by a landslide, didn't they? And the other half was outraged, not that they made such a ludicrous argument, but that they didn't want to play fair and by the rules that no one seems to understand or to be able to explain.

The other majority party isn't blameless in this; they like an ignorant electorate too. It's easier to lead people who can't or won't think for themselves. It took both parties and many years of active bipartisan meddling to make the education system into an international laughingstock.

However, the end result of this downward spiral has been an electorate ignorant in the simple foundations of this country and its government. Most especially the foundation of a rule of law in which EVERYONE is equal under the laws of the land. The Democrats have taken advantage of this general ignorance to its logical extreme. President Clinton, when testifying under oath, debates the meaning of the word "is", and essentially gets away with it. Vice President Gore, when shown to be in direct violation of campaign finance law states that there was no "controlling legal authority".

Laws don't MEAN anything to them. A law is an inconvenient bit of wording that just has to be "interpreted" properly to achieve their ends. When they file suit, they must shop for the proper judge, or they might not be able to get the "spin" they want. Like the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, words mean just what they want them to mean, no more no less. And that meaning can change at any time.

What has this election proven? The system is broken beyond a shadow of a doubt. Humpty-Dumpty is smashed. Regardless of who wins the recount in Florida, we have a system that has abandoned the rule of law because the populace let it, not knowing any better. Everything is up for interpretation. We don't live in the United States of America anymore, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. We live in `Merica, land of the free to do whatever we please, with no adverse consequences to our actions because that just wouldn't be "fair". Ain't Democracy wunnerful? Let's just vote ourselves bread and circuses and wait for the Barbarians to come over the walls. Bet that'll get more than 49% of the vote, huh?
I still stand by this piece.

Back to posting Thursday night or Friday.

Monday, August 04, 2003

History Calls - Will We Answer?

Throughout history, man has made advances that were the result of individual genius, and advances that were the result of the joint work of many. Each advancement made has been, goes the cliché, on the shoulders of the giants that came before. The concept of democracy as first practiced by the Greeks can be argued to be the result of the genius of one man. The creation of the theory of relativity by Einstein was the work of a singular genius. More often, though, the same great stride is made - almost simultaneously - in many places around the world. When that happens, it is the result of a confluence of ideas that together affect the consciousness of many and that lead almost inexorably to one conclusion. Darwin's Origin of Species was a new idea, but it wasn't his alone. The accumulation of biological and archaeological knowledge, plus the weakening hold of religious dogma around the world was leading many people down the same path. Darwin merely had more and better firsthand knowledge and the brain required to put it together - and publish - first.


The United States of America was the result of the confluence of many ideas, and some lucky accidents of geography, and psychology, and timing. It was, in fact, one of those rare, low probability events that just happened to work. Beginning with John Locke's Two Treatises of Government in the late 17th century, great thinkers were publishing works on the inherent rights of man, and the ills and excesses of government. America became, during that time, the place that those who didn't fit into their own societies could go and be free to do what they wanted, rather than what society dictated they do. It was a place for the religiously oppressed, the economically restricted, the nonconformist. Mix a population of that type with a burgeoning philosophy of self-reliance and individual rights, economic freedom, the autonomy that a a new land and 3,000 mile of separation provides, add a dash of tyrannical rule by a monarch on the other side of the ocean and not right in the head, stir vigorously with an iron military fist, and we got the American revolution.

That part's not surprising. What is surprising is that we won, and even more suprising is the government that came out of that victory - the first government to recognize, in writing, the danger of government. Throughout the writings of the Founders, it is apparent that they all understood that government is the concentration of power. That government, always and everywhere, tends to grow at the expense of those it governs. "The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government" said Thomas Jefferson. "There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty" said John Adams. "Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one" wrote Thomas Paine. "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master" said George Washington. Government, like fire, is a tool we cannot live without, but a tool that can wreak destruction if it's not carefully controlled. Destruction on a small scale, like "no-knock" raids on the wrong house, or destruction on vast scales like World Wars, and on medium scales like Stalin's purges and the Killing Fields of Cambodia.

In democratic governments the accumulation of power is usually gradual and slow, not noticed generally. In fact, major accumulations are often greeted with the approval of the populace, because these accumulations must be accomplished with the cooperation of the governed. Almost never is there recognition that power accumulated by government is done at the expense of the individual, nor is there much consideration of the possibility of future abuse. Power is yeilded most often for what are considered the best of reasons - the promised betterment of others, or the defense of the population against some new threat.

Don't misunderstand - I'm not here shouting "Conspiracy! Conspiracy!" I'm fully aware of Hanlon's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by human stupidity." But Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis illuminated the problem:
"Experience teaches us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent."
and
"The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."
Henry Louis Mencken described the mechanism:
"The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can't get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods."


So, knowing these things, why does government still grow? Because of human nature.

Greed. Selfishness. Fear. Hate.

Charity. Compassion. Love. Honor.

And it does so because of ignorance. Because not everyone does know these things. Our democratic form of government offers almost universal suffrage. The only requirements are citizenship and the age of majority. The only disqualifications: a criminal record or mental incompetence. (Which, were there any justice, would bar most politicians from office.) There is no requirement - nor should there be - that voters actually have any knowledge of that on which they are voting. Like all rights, the right to vote comes with a responsibilty to exercise that right intelligently, but there cannot be any law to force one to do so, and most don't. And why? Because staying current is damned near impossible for any one person to do. It's too much work. And if you depend on someone else to do that work for you (as we've depended on Big Media to do for decades) how can you know you can trust them?

I read an interesting essay a couple of days ago that helped inspire me to write this one. That essay was The State of the Republic, written in May of this year by Barry Hirsch. In it were these thoughts:
Democrats in general, and progressives in particular, are hell bent on converting our democratic republic into a quasi-socialist state. Everything they think, say and do supports this. Republicans in general, and conservatives in particular, espouse preserving the republic as close to its original concept as possible, yet, for years they've been merely leaving ruts in the dust with their heels as the country is dragged ever closer to socialism.

--

The prognosis isn't good, ladies and gentlemen, because we have been systematically outflanked on almost every front. For remedial action to take place, the majority of America must first understand what has happened, experience the outrage of betrayal, distill true civic motivation, and resolve to embark undeterred upon the path to restoration. That, my friends, is a tall order.
Recent history being our guide, I think the first sentence is essentially accurate. The second sentence is half-truth, as while the Republicans talk a good game, those heel marks appear awfully light to me. But I fully agree with Mr. Hirsch's last statement - embarking on a path to restoration, or to any path other than the one we're being led down is, indeed, a tall order. How do we accomplish this reversal? Mr. Hirsch advises:
First, the generations now of the age of exercising civic power are products of incremental miseducation, and those presently in the government indoctrination system will be worse off than their predecessors. At least the majority of adult Americans now in the civic loop can read and comprehend basic principles. Those in the pipeline will not be able to do that effectively, because they aren't being taught the tools necessary to think comprehensively; they are instead being brainwashed. The current crop of adults has been conditioned in the mindset that things are more or less as they should be. This makes them unreceptive to ideas that would place their emotional comfort in jeopardy. That is the first hurdle that must be cleared, and they must then be convinced to replace their local, state and federal representatives with people who are dedicated to restoring the republic. They must see to it that their kids are either placed in private schools with civics curricula that accurately impart the principles upon which the nation was founded, or commit to teaching their kids the truth themselves.
Mr. Hirsch has the key - education - but while he sees the problem, and he sees the solution, he recognizes the barrier, the hurdle, that must be overcome before the solution can be implemented.

How do we overcome that hurdle when it will make people uncomfortable and "place their emotion comfort in jeopardy?" What would it take to engender the "outrage of betrayal" in the majority of the population?

The attack on Pearl Harbor awoke America to an uncomfortable reality. September 11, 2001 did too. What would it take to make the majority recognize the danger of government again and do something about it? Some overwhelming travesty of justice? Well, we've seen several travesties in recent years, but none of them awoke the populace. At least, not the majority of the populace. But, as Jesse Jackson once said, "In politics, an organized minority is a political majority." Nothing illustrates that better than the power of the merely (yes, merely) 4 million member NRA - recognized as one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington. The NEA holds similar power, as does the AARP.

Education is the key, but Mr. Hirsch, I think, sees the wrong lock. Not the population at large, but a segment of it is all that is truly needed, and it can stop the apparently inexorable slide toward statism. Last week, Jeff Soyer of Alphecca wrote, tongue-in-cheek, that we needed libertarian bloggers in high public office. (Small "l" libertarians.) And he said this: "The fact is, us(sic) bloggers have some power now. We really are the new media. Let's get cracking!"

And you know what? He's right! He's just aiming too high to start. A number of us have experienced the outrage of betrayal. Our emotional comfort is worn thin. And we're more than just the "new media" - much more.

The internet is the most important step forward in human communication since moveable type. It is, arguably, the most important invention in history. Steven Den Beste lists it among his four most important inventions in history: "spoken language, writing, movable type printing and digital electronic information processing." These technologies, in conjuction with other advances, allowed man to spring ahead to greater individual power and freedom. As someone said, were it not for moveable type, Martin Luther's 95 theses, and Luther himself, would have disappeared into the maw of the Catholic Church. Instead, the printing press spread his ideas throughout Europe and fomented a revolution. The people of that time used the technology, then not 100 years old, to educate themselves. Thus it is now with the internet, raised to an exponential power. Not only can we learn, we can discuss, argue, and fact check - and we can do it across the country in realtime. Fact and truth, reality and reason rule on the Web. "Idiotarians" don't fare well here because illogical or mendacious appeals to emotion can be (and are) exposed with ease, and the information is disseminated with almost no effort whatsoever. We represent a minority, but an organized, informed, intelligent minority - and that can make us a political majority.

One problem, though, and it's illustrated by another quote:
"It stands to reason that self-righteous, inflexible, single-minded, authoritarian true believers are politically organized. Open-minded, flexible, complex, ambiguous, anti-authoritarian people would just as soon be left to mind their own fucking business." R.U. Sirius
Ain't it the truth?

We are living at one of those historical confluences of technology, thought, and opportunity. The possiblity exists that we, the denizens of the internet, the anti-idiotarians, could be the spark of a revival of the rights of individuals in opposition to the creeping statism that we see every day. "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," is the inscription on the National Archives building in Washington. We've fallen down on the job.

Time to pick up the (much lighter) burden, and get back to what made this nation great. Let's not let this opportunity slide by, and descend again back into bondage.