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

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Logic Over Ranting - Wins Every Time

Wince and Nod lays down a point-by-point logical smackdown on the "BUSH LIED" meme.

Excellent logic and exposition. Outstanding, Wince. Sorry it took me so long to find it.
See? Insomnia Brought on by Allergies is Good for Something!

Since I can't sleep for coughing and sneezing, here I am!

For those of you wanting an RSS feed, apparently this is mine: http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/atom.xml

It's now active.

And Bill Whittle has published Chapter Two in his latest series of essays, It's a Trap! That was worth the loss of sleep all by itself.

And I've posted another response to Tim Lambert's thread on self-defense in the UK.

Who needs more than three hours sleep anyway?

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Who's Gullible?

Tim Lambert, who authors the Australian blog Deltoid which is dedicated to the pursuit and exposure of John Lott as a fraud (and I tend to believe Tim is more right than wrong about that), picked up on the outrage many of us felt over a recent short news story I commented on last week. Tim writes that we seem gullible in jumping to the conclusion that "self defence is illegal in the UK." I've taken him to task over this topic in the comments to his post. He seems to be avoiding the pertinent questions here.
Department of Humor, Mental Image Division

Perusing the tracking data for this site, I find that I have had one visitor as the result of a Google Search for "smallest bikini in the universe," and on top of that, in that search The Smallest Minority comes up fourth on the list.

Yikes!

To anyone who has ever seen me, the idea of me in a SPEEDO is frightening.
Photoshoppers RULE!

Reader Steven Nielsen, a Senior from the University of Washington, sent me his latest effort. He explains:
I was inspired by an MSNBC News photo of John Kerry in Texas about a month ago. The picture, as I have doctored it, speaks for itself. With Kerry at the Helm, this is what we can expect...

Damn, that's funny. And I too support the 2004 Bush/Rice ticket.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Dept. of Our Collapsing Schools - Teacher's Lounge
I am a teacher . . . And I am tired.

Tired of......
> > politics, frustrated colleagues,
> > semiconscious students,
> > media hype and especially, ......I am tired of
> > parents who expect me to resolve their children's problems.

I simply do not have the answers.
I have tried everything...... I have hugged your child, listened to your child, bought supplies for your child, and reminded your child of the importance of getting an education ..... as well as the importance of caring about life with heart genuineness.

I have read......Theories on how to teach at-risk students. (this includes the entire student population, because "at-risk" is really defined as children growing up without parental supervision).

I have read....... theories on how to teach pregnant students, students on drugs, abused students, high-energy students, shy students, female students and male students.

I have...... attended conferences for ideas on how to teach hands-on activities, higher level thinking skills, cooperative learning groups, technology, standards-based education and numerous other strategies.

I have...... lain awake at night rolling over and over in my head solutions, and lamentations.

I have..... cried tears, trying to find the answers for motivating your child to have success in my classroom and in life.

I am a teacher.
I am not a doctor,
I am not a psychiatrist,
I am not a former drug addict.
I am not God, and.....
I am, emphatically and unequivocally, not your child's parent.

I am a teacher.

I am tired......
> of politicians blaming policy-makers,
> of state government blaming localities,
> of administration blaming central office
> of central office blaming school board
> of school board blaming city council, and........
> everyone blaming teachers.

But I have to tell you..... the students who have success in my classroom are the ones whose parents I have met at every open house and on every parent/teacher conference day. So, please, do not tell me that educators are the solution.

The solution.... the power and the state of your child's welfare lie in your hands. Not in mine, but in the hands of you, the parent. And if you don't want to lose another educator who cares, who sweats, who encourages your child.....then I suggest you get to your child's school and make education matter in your child's life.

Because I am a *teacher*!

Written by a TEACHER in the Jacksonville Florida Public School System
Copied in whole from Indigo Insights, because I wanted to archive it, and I couldn't figure out where the permalinks were.

More on U.S. v. Gould, aka "The Road to Hell..."

Via Eugene at The Volokh Conspiracy comes a link to this review of the decision by Ken Lammers of Crimlaw. Excerpt:
The court cites a number of cases which it claims support its position that protective sweeps are allowed once valid entry into the residence has been gained by an officer (I have not the time to check them but at least a couple appear to be inapposite plain view cases). Even later in the opinion it blows off the trial judge's finding that the police created any danger to themselves by entering the trailer and not picking up Gould later (ie: in the morning when he left for work). The trial court says they can't create a danger and then rely on it to abrogate constitutional guarantees. The appellate court says all the right things about how the officers cannot do such a thing and then makes an excuse for them doing it in this case.

--

My Opinion: The trial court had it right when it pointed toward the officers placing themselves in danger and then taking advantage of it to do a protective sweep. Herein lies the difference between Buie and it's progeny and Gould. There is quite often danger in serving a warrant and thus the deference to officers acting under the color of one. However, if an officer is acting without a warrant, probable cause, or even a report of immediate criminal activity he cannot be allowed to choose an action which places him in danger over safer courses of action and be allowed to violate the constitution because of the choice. How hard could it have been to have someone watch Gould's place overnight and stop him when he came out the next day? Sure it would have been inconvenient but that's far from the primary consideration in a constitutional analysis. This is the point at which the court errs in its constitutional analysis.
There's a lot more. Essentially he agrees with DeMoss in all the details. There are links to other legal reviews, too.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions


A recent 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision has hit the radar of those of us concerned over the ever-expanding powers of government in (to us) obvious violation of the Constitutional protections written in to limit that power. I first ran across this latest slip down the slippery slope over at Say Uncle, but the Geek with a .45 and John Donovan have also weighed in. What all three of these bloggers have commented on was this news story from New Orleans, home of the 5th Circuit Court.
Court Opens Door To Searches Without Warrants

It's a groundbreaking court decision that legal experts say will affect everyone: Police officers in Louisiana no longer need a search or arrest warrant to conduct a brief search of your home or business.

Leaders in law enforcement say it will provide safety to officers, but others argue it's a privilege that could be abused.
The decision was made by the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Two dissenting judges called it the "road to Hell."

The ruiling stems from a lawsuit filed in Denham Springs in 2000.

New Orleans Police Department spokesman Capt. Marlon Defillo said the new power will go into effect immediately and won't be abused.

"We have to have a legitimate problem to be there in the first place, and if we don't, we can't conduct the search," Defillo said.

But former U.S. Attorney Julian Murray has big problems with the ruling.

"I think it goes way too far," Murray said, noting that the searches can be performed if an officer fears for his safety -- a subjective condition.

Defillo said he doesn't envision any problems in New Orleans, but if there are, they will be handled.

"There are checks and balances to make sure the criminal justce
(sic) system works in an effective manor," (sic) Defillo said.
Our reaction to this story is understandable, I think. We're supposed to trust Capt. Defillo's word that "the power won't be abused" though he says "(t)here are checks and balances to make sure the criminal justice system works in an effective manor." (I think the word "manor" might be a highly appropriate freudian slip.) Yes, we're supposed to trust our overlords who just removed one of those "checks and balances" - checks and balances that aren't there to ensure the criminal justice system works effectively, but there to ensure that the rights of the individual are protected against government abuse. And these words come from a spokesman for a police department with a serious record of corruption. This is not encouraging.

I've just begun reading Professor Randy Barnett's latest book, Restoring the Lost Constitution, which opens with the following:
Growing up, I was like most Americans in my reverence for the Constitution. Not until college was the first seed of doubt planted in the form of an essay by a nineteenth-century abolitionist and radical named Lysander Spooner. In his best-known work, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority (1870), Spooner argued that the Constitution of the United States was illegitimate because it was not and could never have been consented to by the people on whom it is imposed. Although as an undergraduate I found Spooner's argument unanswerable (and I must admit so it remained until I was in my forties), the problem was largely theoretical. My mind may have doubted, but my faith remained.

Until I took Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School. The experience was completely disillusioning, but not because of the professor, Laurence Tribe, who was an engaging and open-minded teacher. No, what disillusioned me was reading the opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court. Throughout the semester, as we covered one constitutional clause after another, passages that sounded great to me were drained by the Court of their obviously power-constraining meanings. First it was the Necessary and Proper Clause in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), then the Commerce Clause (a bit) in Gibbons v. Ogden (1824), then the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in The Slaughterhouse Cases (1873), the the Commerce Clause (this time in earnest) in Wickard v. Filburn (1942), and the Ninth Amendment in United Public Workers v. Mitchell (1947).

Nor were these landmark decisions isolated cases. In countless other opinions, the Supreme Court justices affirmed they meant it when they said the Constitution did not mean what it apparently said.
Now, bear in mind IANAL (I Am Not A Lawyer), but I've read a LOT of case law over the last ten years or so in my study of the legal history of the right to arms and other rights of the individual, and I've found precisely what Prof. Barnett describes here - a slow but steady erosion of the power-limiting restrictions of the Constitution until the Constitution really doesn't mean anything any longer as far as a restriction on government power. Just two weeks ago my opinion was validated by Justice Antonin Scalia, who said during a speech in New Orleans:
It is literally true that the U.S. Supreme Court has entirely liberated itself from the text of the Constitution.

We are free at last, free at last. There is no respect in which we are chained or bound by the text of the Constitution. All it takes is five hands.
Knowing what I know about the accuracy of the press, I decided that I should once again go straight to the source, and read the decision to determine for myself just how bad it was. The case is U.S. v. Gould, and the decision was published last Wednesday. It was an en banc re-hearing by fifteen justices, including justices Garwood and DeMoss, who found in U.S. v. Emerson that the Second Amendment protected a right of the individual - the first rollback of any kind regarding judicial protection of the right to arms in any Federal court since 1939.

The basics of the case are relatively simple:
Louisiana deputy sheriffs, having received on October 17,2000, a telephone warning that Gould, known to be a convicted felon with a reputation for violence, was planning to kill two local judges, went that same evening to the approximately 14 x 16 foot trailer where Gould lived to talk to him, not then intending to arrest him. The officers, who had neither a search nor an arrest warrant, were admitted by another resident of the trailer, Dennis Cabral, who said Gould was asleep in his bedroom. The officers entered and proceeded down the hall towards the bedroom Cabral had indicated. The bedroom door was open, but the officers did not see Gould, and they then conducted a brief protective sweep for him, looking under the bed and opening the door to each of the two bedroom closets, in one of which they saw in plain view, but did not then seize, three rifles. They promptly then ran outside and later found Gould hiding in the woods. In subsequent questioning Gould stated he was keeping the rifles for their owner, a female acquaintance. Gould was then arrested, executed a consent to search, and the rifles were then seized.
Straightforward, no? The cops caught a known violent felon with some guns who had threatened to kill some judges. Score one for the good guys, right? Letting this guy go would have, once again, proven that the courts are "soft on crime," but they did the right thing and now this asshole is behind bars where he ought to be. Right?

The decision goes on some 32 pages, citing case after case of precedent before concluding:
We hold that a protective sweep as authorized by Buie (Maryland v. Buie (1990)) need not always be incident to an arrest. The district court erred in holding otherwise. Applying the standards and limitations articulated in Buie and the general reasonableness criteria of the Fourth Amendment, we conclude that the protective sweep here was valid. The district court’s suppression order is accordingly REVERSED.
This was not a unanimous decision, obviously. No, it was 11-4. There are 30 pages of dissent, and Justice DeMoss's (who was joined by Justice Smith) is the most eloquent and detailed. It starts at page 44 of the opinion, and I strongly recommend that everyone interested in individual right read the whole thing to see the mechanism of incrementalism thoughtfully dissected. Excerpts:
This case presents the difficult issues of: (1) whether the protective sweep exception defined by the Supreme Court in Maryland v. Buie, 494 U.S. 325 (1990), is limited to situations involving the execution of an arrest warrant as we held in United States v. Wilson, 36 F.3d 1298 (5th Cir. 1994); and if not (2) whether the search in this case was reasonable. In addressing these two issues, I think the majority makes three significant errors. First, the majority’s starting point in its Fourth Amendment analysis concerning a warrantless search of a home is faulty and therefore the majority does not fully account for the lack of consent in this case. Second, the majority’s reliance on the so-called "clearly" legitimate "knock and talk" police investigatory tactic is misplaced and therefore the majority’s holding leads to an end-run around the Fourth Amendment’s protections. Third, the majority has misconstrued the holding of the Supreme Court in Buie. I will address these three errors in order.
I.
The Fourth Amendment provides: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
U.S. Const. amend. IV. Further, "[i]t is a 'basic principle of Fourth Amendment law' that searches and seizures inside a homewithout a warrant are presumptively unreasonable." Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 586 (1980) (citing Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 477-78 (1971)). Additionally, the "physical entry of the home is the chief evil against which the wording of the Fourth Amendment is directed." United States v. United States District Court, 407 U.S. 297, 313 (1972). Accordingly, our law dictates that unless some exception applies, the search at issue in this case, a warrantless nonconsensual search of Kelly Gould’s bedroom in his home, must be found unconstitutional.
Justice DeMoss goes on for a while documenting his position in detail. On to error number two:
In satisfying its first requirement of this newly created exception to the protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment, i.e., that the officers were legally present in the mobile home, the majority relies on the "knock and talk" police investigatory tactic mentioned in United States v. Jones, 239 F.3d 716, 720 (5th Cir. 2001). The majority refers to this practice as being "clearly... recognized as legitimate." The "knock and talk" tactic is hardly well-established law. The Fifth Circuit case establishing the concept of "knock and talk" merely states that "[t]his investigative tactic is not inherently unreasonable." Jones, 239 F.3d at 720.

Use of the "knock and talk" tactic may be reasonable in some cases, e.g., police may follow-up on a lead and approach a citizen, seeking the citizen's cooperation. In this case, however, the officers conducted an intrusive search of a bedroom with neither consent, nor search warrant, nor arrest warrant, nor any exigent circumstances. The majority has created an exception that permits an officer to ask for permission to enter a home from a third party who may have authority to consent to only part of the home but not all of the home and then immediately contend that he, the officer, is so apprehensive about his own safety that he must conduct a protective sweep of areas where he has no consent to be, when the officer had no obligation or duty to enter the home in the first place. This new exception is really a "knock, enter, maybe talk, and search" police investigatory tactic, all conducted without a warrant, and resulting in an end-run around the protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment.

In addition, the majority has not stated why their new exception is necessary or why we should not find that the officers created a situation that resulted in a Fourth Amendment violation when they in fact had many other permissible ways to pursue their investigation, i.e., seeking a search warrant based on the informant's tip. The majority does address the issue of exigent circumstances that can sometimes make a warrantless search permissible. This search, however, as the majority agrees, is not based on any exigency.
Again, justice DeMoss goes on to make his case eloquently. Finally, error number three:
We decided to review en banc the Gould case to determine: (1) whether the rule established in Wilson that a protective sweep of a home was limited to an arrest situation, as defined by the Supreme Court in Buie, was correct; and (2) if the protective sweep exception to the search warrant requirement is not limited as Wilson and Buie indicate, whether the warrantless search of Gould's bedroom was reasonable.

The majority characterizes the rule outlined in Wilson as a "bright-line" rule; Wilson, however, directly follows the precise language used by the Supreme Court in its definition of the protective sweep exception in Buie. The protective sweep exception as outlined in Buie requires the following three elements. First, the officers must be executing an arrest warrant in a suspect’s home. See generally Buie, 494 U.S. 325 (mentioning over 65 times the concept of arrest in a home when defining a protective sweep). Second, the officers must perceive some danger from another person or persons. Id. at 332-36 (indicating that not every in-home arrest will justify a protective sweep and listing several factors that are used to validate the reasonableness of the perceived danger, such as the nature of the crime for which the arrest is being executed, the likely presence of cohorts, and the time and place of arrest). Third, the search may only be a quick and limited cursory inspection of those places another person might be hiding. Id. at 335-36. Here, the majority has ignored the first two elements and only addressed the third. (Which in my reading of many cases tends to be true. That and the - sometimes apparently deliberate - misreading of cases used as precedent.)

Of course, there is good reason for the limited definition as outlined in Buie and tracked by this Court in Wilson. Such a definition avoids the quagmire that the majority finds itself in after rejecting the language in Buie and Wilson. The majority is forced to fashion a new exception with alternative elements that are vague; and as such the new exception swallows the rule that a warrant is generally required for an in-home search.

--

(T)he element that the officers must be executing an arrest warrant in a home in order to conduct a protective sweep cannot be so easily disposed of and an alternative substituted for it. As the Buie court noted:

The risk of danger in the context of an arrest in the home is as great as, if not greater than, it is in an on the-street or roadside investigatory encounter.... A protective sweep... occurs as an adjunct to the serious step of taking a person into custody for the purpose of prosecuting him for a crime. Moreover, unlike an encounter on the street or along a highway, an in-home arrest puts the officer at the disadvantage of being on his adversary’s "turf."
In place of this element the majority substitutes the following element: the police presence in the home must be for a legitimate law enforcement purpose. The majority's element is an inadequate substitution. There are many legitimate law enforcement purposes that may permit officers to do something short of conducting a warrantless search, e.g., enter a home for the purpose of talking to the person who gave the officers consent and had authority to consent to the entry. Such a legitimate purpose does not somehow give the officer carte blanche to then search the house. In the protective sweep situation, as defined by Buie, the officers must have more than a legitimate purpose to be in the home, the officers must have a compelling reason, i.e., be in the house under the obligation to execute an arrest warrant. This requirement is, in fact, the essence of the Buie holding and this requirement is a limiting factor on the officers’ conduct that is missing from the majority's opinion.
So, once again we have an example of what 9th Circuit Justice Alex Kozinski described in his dissent to the decision not to rehear Silveira v. Lockyer:
Judges know very well how to read the Constitution broadly when they are sympathetic to the right being asserted. We have held, without much ado, that "speech, or . . . the press" also means the Internet...and that "persons, houses, papers, and effects" also means public telephone booths....When a particular right comports especially well with our notions of good social policy, we build magnificent legal edifices on elliptical constitutional phrases - or even the white spaces between lines of constitutional text. But, as the panel amply demonstrates, when we’re none too keen on a particular constitutional guarantee, we can be equally ingenious in burying language that is incontrovertibly there.
They're obviously able to do the same thing with prior case law, as well.

But here's the kicker in the dissent that really got my attention:
Finally, in my view this case should have never been prosecuted in federal court. The original criminal conduct which precipitated the arrest was strictly local in nature: one Louisiana resident (Forehand) reported to the sheriff of one Louisiana parish (and not to the FBI, the DEA, the ATF, or the U.S. Marshall Service) that another Louisiana resident (Gould) had made oral threats to kill two Louisiana judges (not federal judges) and some other Louisiana residents (not residents of another state) apparently because of a proceeding of some sort in a Louisiana court (not a federal court) relating to a state law claim (not a federal question). If the admonitions in United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995) and United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598 (2000) about drawing a line between local and national interests have any meaning at all, then this criminal investigation would have undoubtedly fallen on the local side of the line. All of the law enforcement actors in this case were state officers.

Furthermore, I think it would be ridiculous to conclude that the firearms found as a result of a warrantless search in Gould’s closets in Gould’s bedroom in Gould’s trailer home in the woods of rural Louisiana had any effect whatsoever, much less a substantial effect, on interstate commerce as Lopez and Morrison require for a federal prosecution.

The events which precipitated this case occurred on October 17, 2000. The federal indictment in this case was not handed down until August 9, 2001, more than 9 months later, which clearly indicates that the federal indictment was an afterthought.

--

...I would suggest that the following conclusions should be readily drawn:

A.
The dismissal on March 5, 2001, of the state solicitation for murder charge for "no probable cause" pulls the rug out from under the government’s assertion that Gould’s "threats to kill" were sufficiently real and immediate to justify talking with him even without any warrant; and
B.
The decision of the state court on July 25, 2001, to grant Gould's motion to suppress pulls the rug out from under the subsequent federal indictment based on identical facts; and should have been disclosed to the federal district court addressing the federal suppression hearing. Had it been, the federal district court might well have based its decision on the alternate ground that the state had already ruled the seizure of the firearms was unconstitutional.
In summary, the Fourth Amendment is the keystone that holds up the arch of our Bill of Rights which in turn is the unique contribution of our founding fathers to our system of government which has now survived longer than any other representative government in the world. In his famous dissent in Olmstead v. United States, Justice Brandeis called privacy - which he defined as: "the right to be let alone" - "the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men." Justice Brandeis argued that the framers knew that Americans wanted protection from governmental intrusion not only for their property, but also for their thoughts, ideas and emotions. Take away the Fourth Amendment and the right of privacy disappears.

The deputy sheriffs here in Gould made no attempt to develop a sworn affidavit in writing from the purported informant, Forehand, and they therefore made no attempt to get either a search warrant or an arrest warrant from an independent third party magistrate on the basis of probable cause. I have no doubt that the deputy sheriffs believed that they were acting reasonably and with good intentions. But the old adage warns us that "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." In my judgment, that is precisely where the majority opinion wants to put us - by unhooking the "protective sweep" from its connection with the execution of an arrest warrant in a home, which is where the Supreme Court framed the concept. In my view the gambit of getting permission to enter a citizen's home in order to talk to someone and then conducting a protective sweep search under the guise of sensing danger to the investigating officer will effectively eliminate the need for complying with the Fourth Amendment and at that point we will all be, literally and figuratively, on the road to hell.
It has been a continuous theme on this blog that I believe that, through a slow but steady incrementalist approach, we have been stripped of the rights we as individuals are supposed to have under the Constitution as it was originally framed. This is the "slippery slope" argument, perhaps now the "road to hell" argument, and it is not limited to just the right to arms. Decisions like this one are but larger blips on a radar screen that is completely fuzzy with the chaff of earlier, less alarming but prerequisite decisions. We've had over 200 years of case law to fold, twist, spindle and mutilate to get where we are today.

I cannot put it more plainly - our freedoms are disappearing, and they are doing so through the conscious and unconscious machinations of all three branches of government, and in the majority with "good intention" on the part of the lawmakers and the judges who interpret those laws. Justice Brandeis also said in Olmstead,
Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.
We are frogs in the pot, but the mechanism that turns up the heat is human nature - the desire for immediate safety and security, without regard to future effect. In this case, a known violent felon was found to be in possession of firearms after he allegedly threatened to kill. He's off the street, we're all safer. But we're all less free than we were on March 23.

In University of Texas Law professor Sanford Levinson's Yale Law Journal article The Embarrassing Second Amendment he wrote:
One would, of course, like to believe that the state, whether at the local or national level, presents no threat to important political values, including liberty. But our propensity to believe that this is the case may be little more than a sign of how truly different we are from our radical forbearers. I do not want to argue that the state is necessarily tyrannical; I am not an anarchist. But it seems foolhardy to assume that the armed state will necessarily be benevolent. The American political tradition is, for good or ill, based in large measure on a healthy mistrust of the state. The development of widespread suffrage and greater majoritarianism in our polity is itself no sure protection, at least within republican theory. The republican theory is predicated on the stark contrast between mere democracy, where people are motivated by selfish personal interest, and a republic, where civic virtue, both in common citizen and leadership, tames selfishness on behalf of the common good.
Yes, our Constitution was written by men with an inherent distrust of the State, and it was written as a mechanism to limit the power of the State in favor of the rights of individuals, but that mechanism has failed. As Professor Barnett puts it in the introduction to Restoring the Lost Constitution:
Had judges done their job, this book would not need to be written. Since adoption of the Constitution, courts have eliminated clause after clause that interfered with the exercise of government power.
--
Without these missing clauses, the general scheme of the Constitution has been radically altered, which is precisely why they all had to go. The Constitution that was actually enacted and formally amended creates islands of government powers in a sea of liberty. The judicially redacted constitution creates islands of liberty rights in a sea of governmental powers.
Captain Marlon Defillo of the NOPD tells us not to worry, the new police power to search without a warrant won't be misused. Trust us, we're from the government, and we're here to help you. If you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear. It's for your safety and security that we take another bit of your rights away. You're not responsible enough for them, anyway.

Let me conclude with another bit from Judge Kozinski's dissent in Silveira:
The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed - where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.
The courts long ago lost their "courage to oppose" if they ever really generally recognized their responsibility to. They've been aiding and abetting the expansion of government power at the expense of the Constitution since shortly after ratification, and if they can eventually no longer find anyone to enforce their decrees, it might be because of decisions like the 5th Circuit's Gould finding of last week. We are, as time goes on, less and less a free people, and we are less free because we allow our government to expand its power. We're too busy living our lives, and we're too human in our desire to be safe and secure. Freedom is dangerous. Freedom is risky. And freedom must be paid for, either through "eternal vigilance," as Jefferson warned, or through conflict, as Robert Heinlein wrote in his novel Starship Troopers,
As to liberty, the heroes who signed the great document pledged themselves to buy liberty with their lives. Liberty is never unalienable; it must be redeemed regularly with the blood of patriots or it always vanishes. Of all the so-called natural human rights that have ever been invented, liberty is the least likely to be cheap and is never free of cost.
We've abandoned our vigilance. Our islands of liberty are constantly shrinking in the ever-rising sea of governmental powers. In Prof. Barnett's book there is supposedly a way to restore our "presumption of liberty" without armed conflict. I hope there is. Because without a way to reverse this trend peacefully, the only choices left to us are submission or armed revolt. I don't know yet if we've proceeded down the slope to the point of no return, and I don't think we can know until we get that empty feeling in the pits of our stomachs that free-fall induces.

But by then, the road to hell will have reached its destination.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

AllahPundit Nails It

I might just have to add the Creator of Worlds to my blogroll.

His screamingly funny Dean photoshops were one thing, but this latest piece defines the Kerry campaign.

Which is why I believe the Dems are going to Torricelli us and run Hillary, instead.
France Raises its Terror Alert Level

(Just received via email):
France has elevated its Terror Alert Level from from Courez! (Run!) to Peau! (Hide!) as a result of explosives found buried under railroad tracks outside of Paris.

There are only two higher alert levels in the French system, Reddition! (Surrender!) and Collaborent! (Collaborate!).

Friday, March 26, 2004

Can Someone PLEASE Explain This to Me?

The mentality of women who go back to their abusers is absolutely beyond me. I have referenced the case of Riss v. New York before, in Part II of Is the Government Responsible for Your Protection? I'll repeat the pertinent portion of the story:
Linda Riss, an attractive young woman, was for more than six months terrorized by a rejected suitor well known to the courts of this State, one Burton Pugach. This miscreant, masquerading as a respectable attorney, repeatedly threatened to have Linda killed or maimed if she did not yield to him: "If I can't have you, no one else will have you, and when I get through with you, no one else will want you". In fear for her life, she went to those charged by law with the duty of preserving and safeguarding the lives of the citizens and residents of this State. Linda's repeated and almost pathetic pleas for aid were received with little more than indifference. Whatever help she was given was not commensurate with the identifiable danger. On June 14, 1959 Linda became engaged to another man. At a party held to celebrate the event, she received a phone call warning her that it was her "last chance". Completely distraught, she called the police, begging for help, but was refused. The next day Pugach carried out his dire threats in the very manner he had foretold by having a hired thug throw lye in Linda's face. Linda was blinded in one eye, lost a good portion of her vision in the other, and her face was permanently scarred. After the assault the authorities concluded that there was some basis for Linda's fears, and for the next three and one-half years, she was given around-the-clock protection.
Riss met Pugach in 1957, not knowing that he was already married. When she discovered he was married and broke off the relationship in 1959, Pugach promised reprisal. He carried out his threat. A thug threw lye in her face blinding her and disfiguring her face. Linda Riss sued the NYPD and the City of New York for failing to protect her, and lost. Burton Pugach was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison for the crime in 1962.

Guess what? When he got out of prison in 1974 they met, and eight months later she married him. (New York Times story, registration required. Use 'newslinks' for both user ID and password.)

But that's not all! Sometime prior to 1997 Pugach got a mistress, and apparently repeated his earlier behavior. He went to trial for threatening her the same way he threatened Linda Riss.
Pugach Calls Ex-Wife As Witness

A Queens man on trial for allegedly terrorizing his mistress is defending himself today by calling the wife he blinded in a similar feud 38 years ago as a witness, reports WCBS' Irene Cornell.

Burton Pugach , a 70-year-old ex-lawyer accused of terrorizing a former lover has rejected a deal to serve 60 days in jail and three years probation, choosing instead to become his own lawyer.

Pugach would face a one-year sentence if convicted on charges of aggravated harassment and sexual abuse.

According to the Associated Press, in 1959, Pugach, who was married to someone else, was convicted of hiring three thugs to throw lye in the face of girlfriend Linda Riss because she threatened to leave him. He served 14 years in prison. Then, after divorcing his first wife, he married Riss.

A disbarred Pugach then allegedly began a campaign of harassment when his 42-year-old girlfriend tried to end their five-year affair and started dating a younger man.

The woman has testified that Pugach threatened to hire someone to kill her.

Pugach Affair Still Getting Straightened Out

A jury in Queens today begins sorting out the case of Burton Pugach, charged with threatening a former girlfriend with death after she broke off their affair, reports WCBS' Irene Cornell.

The 70-year-old disbarred lawyer defended himself. His chief character witness was his wife Linda. In 1959, when he was a young attorney, Linda was the girlfriend who dumped him after discovering he was already married.

Pugach hired thugs to throw lye in her face, scarring and blinding her, but she married him after he got out of prison in 1974.

Now she says she's forgiven him for his affair. And she says the only reason he's been charged in this case is because of his past.
Gee, YA THINK???

What is it that makes some women behave this way? The New York Times piece, published March 21, 2004, says very little about that 1997 prosecution, but it does say this about their relationship:
Over the years, Mrs. Pugach credited a number of factors for her decision to marry the man responsible for blinding her: a Christian sense of forgiveness, the advice of a fortuneteller, her increasing belief that the police were to blame, the fear that another woman would scoop up Mr. Pugach. "One friend told me," she said, "that Burt could leave his shoes under her bed any night." But mostly, she cited her need to move forward. "If you're going to remain bitter and obsessed,'' she said, "it will destroy you."
Moving on, I understand. Forgiveness, I understand, a little. But marrying the man who blinded you? That, I don't understand, and never will.
Go Ahead, Rely on the Government for Your Protection

(I don't have time for this, but...)

Mr. Free Market reports on another case where doing that resulted in the unnecessary death of a citizen. Doing a little Googling, I found this report on the case:
This frail ex-soldier was killed minutes after dialling 999 - but the police failed to respond

Sandy Clark was in fear of his life from a criminal with a violent record, yet as Daniel Foggo reports, his call for help was given the lowest possible status

Police failed to respond to pleas for help from a disabled Army veteran who dialed 999 minutes before he was brutally murdered in his own home. The operator at West Mercia police who took the call decided no action was required, even though it was the third time that day that Alexander "Sandy" Clark had told officers of his fears about the man who killed him.

Mr Clark, 63, who lived alone in Worcester, told the operator that he was being pursued by a man who had already stolen from him and who had stated, in an angry telephone call, his intention to come to his home and confront him. Instead of help being sent, Mr Clark was told simply to keep his door shut and dial 999 again if the man materialised. The call was officially logged as having the lowest possible status.

About 20 minutes later, Mr Clark was brutally beaten to death by Martin Rauwley, a career criminal who was the subject of Mr Clark's frantic calls. Rauwley, 39, got into Mr Clark's home and savagely beat him with his own walking stick, stabbing him to death with the fragments of the stick when it broke. His body lay undiscovered for more than 24 hours.
Mr. Clark's assailant didn't need a (prohibited) firearm or a (prohibited) knife to kill Mr. Clark. But Mr. Clark was denied the only weapon with which a frail 63 year-old man might defend himself from a strong, healthy 39 year-old assailant.
Mr Clark's son Mark and daughter Andrée believe that the police decision effectively to ignore their father's call cost him his life.
There's more to it than just the police dispatcher's decision. It's a long, long chain of things. But remember, the State isn't responsible for protecting any specific individual, just the public at large.
Although Mr Clark died two years ago, full details of his attempts to get help before his death have now been released by his family. They did not emerge at the trial of Rauwley, who had a string of previous convictions for fraud and violence. He was jailed for life for Mr Clark's murder in October 2002.

On the day of his death, March 4, 2002, Mr Clark spoke to West Mercia police three times about his concerns about Rauwley. The two had met in a pub and become friendly, but two days earlier, Rauwley had stolen some of Mr Clark's military medals. Mr Clark dialed 999 on March 2 to report the theft and was subsequently visited by officers.

Mr Clark first called 999 on March 4 at 10.53am to relate that Rauwley had pushed a note through his letterbox saying he was looking for him. The police later rang Mr Clark back but since Rauwley had not appeared, no more was done.

That afternoon, however, Rauwley telephoned Mr Clark and they argued about the medals. At 4.29pm, Mr Clark called 999 again and had a conversation lasting several minutes. Finishing the call, the operator assessed it as "grade four", the lowest of the possible levels of response. It meant that the operator judged that no police presence was required. Mr Clark was on his own.

Within minutes, Rauwley had entered Mr Clark's home and was beating the former soldier to death in his bedroom. Mr Clark, who had served 22 years in the Signal Corps, was suffering from a severe form of spinal rheumatism, Parkinson's disease and a heart condition. He was no match for his then 37-year-old attacker.

Rauwley left having pocketed some more of his victim's possessions. CCTV footage later showed him walking along a nearby street at 5.10pm. Mr Clark's body lay undiscovered for more than 24 hours.
Boy, those CCTV cameras really prevent crime don't they?
Rauwley, a drug-taking career criminal with convictions for fraud and violence, was quickly caught and convicted.

When Mr Clark's family were told by the police of their father's 999 calls, Mark and Andrée asked to see the transcripts. They were allowed to view them at police headquarters on the understanding that they could take no copies. Andrée, 43, said: "Reading them I could tell dad was scared and Mark felt the same."
Apparently there's no Freedom of Information Act analog in the UK. Why am I not surprised?
The brother and sister engaged a solicitor, Stephen Lodge, who arranged for them to view the transcripts again. On this second viewing, however, they appeared different. "The second time we got no impression that he was frightened," said Mark, 39. "It was like there was something missing."

Penny Fishwick, a solicitor for West Mercia police, explained the discrepancy in a letter to the Clarks' solicitor. She said that after listening to the tapes with a colleague "I requested a few minor amendments with a view to improving the accuracy of the transcript.
Riiiiiight. I believe that.
Unsatisfied, Mark and Andrée asked for Mr Lodge to get access to the tapes of the 999 calls. This he was eventually allowed to do, but only after signing an undertaking not to let Mr Clark's family have access to them, to spare them the distress of hearing their father's voice in his final minutes. More mysterious, however, was an admission from the police that the beginning of the last, and crucial, call had disappeared.
That didn't work for Nixon, why do they think it'll work here?
In a letter to Mr Lodge dated August 14, 2003, Miss Fishwick said: "I have just listened to this [final] tape and noted that the first three lines of the conversation are missing. I am sorry about this but I doubt that the first three lines are in any way controversial."
But we'll never know, will we?
After hearing the tapes, Mr Lodge said that notwithstanding the missing beginning of the tape, the transcripts appeared accurate. He has since moved to another firm of solicitors and his replacement has stated that he sees no point in pursuing the police.
And there isn't. They cannot be held responsible, as I've previously made clear.
Mark and Andrée, however, are anything but satisfied. "Now I suspect we will never know the full story since a part of the tape had just disappeared, which we find extraordinary," said Andrée. "I believe this case raises issues over matters such as the police's response to calls from vulnerable people.

"We feel, however, that West Mercia's response has been arrogant. When we managed to get a meeting with a senior policeman he told us that all the policing would be done exactly the same given the same circumstances again."
Yet the UK government requires its subjects to depend on the government for their protection exclusively.

And they cannot seem to understand why the violent crime rate in Britain is higher than in the the U.S. or the rest of Europe.
"We would still like to sue," she said, "and I will be writing to the Police Complaints Authority to take this matter further. We will not let it drop."

A spokesman for West Mercia said last week: "Following the death of Mr Clark, the grading of his calls to the police was reviewed. That review showed that the manner in which these calls were graded was appropriate in the light of the circumstances of the time. No formal complaint has been received by the force."
Thanks for the pointer, Mr. Free Market.

And if the link works, read this article about the frustration of crime victims in England over the inability of the police to do anything effective. Read this one, too.

Now, back to work.
Which Would YOU Rather Have in a President?

(My one post for today, probably)

I've been watching the ongoing battle between President Bush and the putative Democrat nominee John Kerry, and I'm saddened but not surprised by the polling data that shows them in a statistical dead heat at this time. Dick Morris was on TV last night and made a pretty cogent point - this race is between two issues, not two people. The issues are the war on terrorism, and jobs. People who believe the war on terrorism is most important will vote for George Bush. Among the Undecided Middle, people who think jobs are more important (regardless of the rebounding economy, low unemployment rate, et. al) will probably vote for John Kerry.

But for me, those two issues are beside the point. I am more in agreement with Dubya than I would ever be with Kerry, but then I don't really know where Kerry stands. Apparently nobody does. His positions seem more like probabilistic clouds, ruled by the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle - you can't know where he stands, and the act of trying to determine his position affects his position. I want someone in office I can trust, with positions I understand - even if I may disagree with some of his positions on some issues. Kerry never met an issue he couldn't waffle on. Bush says what he means, and does what he says - a political tactic that seems to have thrown the political analysts here and in other nations for a loop. Bush has said he doesn't do nuance.

Which reminded me of this article I found in the Sacramento Bee a while back that is still active. It's from May 27, 2003, and it has the single most illustrative quote I have ever seen defining the difference between President Bush and other politicians - most especially John Kerry:
"What is a little disconcerting for the French is an American president who seems to be principled," said Jean Duchesne, an English literature professor at Condorcet College in Paris. "The idea that politics should be based on principles is unimaginable because principles lead to ideology, and ideology is dangerous."
There's your choice in black and white. Do you want a President with principles, or do you want John Kerry?

Of course, there's still time for Kerry's campaign to implode before the convention. Then the Democrats could pull a Torricelli and nominate Hillary. But the choice would still be the same.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

No Time to Post Here, But...

Instead I engaged in a short exchange with a commenter to a thread over at Dean Esmay's:
Stu:

If you're a young, urban, black American male you have a very high chance of being murdered. If you're a young, urban, hispanic American male, your chances are lower, but still quite high.

If you do not fit either of those demographics, your chances of being murdered are about the same as the average Canadian's. Perhaps lower, because young, urban black males in America die of homicide at six times the rate of the rest of our population.

In comparing the US and England, the homicide rate ratio between the two countries has always been in excess of 5:1 - even when neither nation had any gun control whatsoever. I believe the ratio is currently just under 4:1, but I cannot be sure of that at the moment.

And finally, "'The reality is that banning guns does not keep guns out of the hands of criminals;' The logic of that statement completely eludes me. The primary source of illegal guns is theft from legal gun owners. So eliminate ALL of the guns, and criminals have a much more difficult time accessing them."

England has tried that. It made possession of all handguns illegal in 1996. All 156,000 legally-owned handguns
(Actually, I think it was 163,000) were turned in, along with 750,000 rounds of legally possessed ammunition. Handgun crime has gone UP every year since. England recently had a "firearm amnesty" where people could turn in illegal weapons, no questions asked. The collected almost 200,000 firearms and over a million rounds of ammo - but in the violence-ridden areas of London and Manchester there was almost no response.

Banning guns makes it more difficult for criminals to acquire them, but it does not make it effectively difficult, as England demonstrates.

It is not physically possible to "ELIMINATE ALL OF THE GUNS" - and since violent criminals represent somewhere around 1% of a population, it doesn't require very many guns to service that population. And they will be served - the first rule of economics is that demand will be met with supply.

Banning guns ignores these simple and obvious facts. And all it does is disarm the people you DON'T need to worry about. The inability to see this logic is what eludes me.


Posted by Kevin Baker on March 25, 2004 at 11:39 AM

Kevin: "If you're a young, urban, black American male you have a very high chance of being murdered. If you're a young, urban, hispanic American male, your chances are lower, but still quite high."

Chopping up demographics in this way is what I meant when I said "tortured statistics". Unless you're saying that this group doesn't count, or something.

Kevin: "In comparing the US and England, the homicide rate ratio between the two countries has always been in excess of 5:1 - even when neither nation had any gun control whatsoever. I believe the ratio is currently just under 4:1, but I cannot be sure of that at the moment."

Britain has had what would be considered to be tight gun control (in comparison to the US) since 1920. And the overall homicide rate ratio is 10:1

Kevin: "England has tried that. It made possession of all handguns illegal in 1996. All 156,000 legally-owned handguns were turned in, along with 750,000 rounds of legally possessed ammunition. Handgun crime has gone UP every year since."

And the homicide rate?


Posted by Stu on March 25, 2004 at 12:09 PM


Stu:

That's not "chopping up demographics" or "tortured statistics" - it's explaining that homicide is not homogenous throughout a society. Handgun ownership, for instance, is largely concentrated in the white male population, but homicide is heavily concentrated in the young, black, urban male population. You are attempting to make the case that "more guns = more homicide" yet that conclusion cannot be logically drawn given the facts. In the United States approximately 1 million handguns and two million long guns are added to the private market each year, yet we've had ten or more years of declining homicide rates.

Homicide in England has trended - slightly - UP since the handgun ban. The proportion of homicides committed with handguns has gone UP since the ban.

This suggests that guns are not the cause of homicide, yet gun bans treat them as though they are.

"Britain has had what would be considered to be tight gun control (in comparison to the US) since 1920. And the overall homicide rate ratio is 10:1" That is incorrect. The U.S. homicide rate in 2000 was 5.64/100,000. England & Wales had a rate of 1.61/100,000, for a ratio of 3.5:1. The firearm homicide ratio is 10:1. What you consider to be "tight" gun control may differ somewhat from mine.

Dean's comment section is not an appropriate place to hold this discussion IMHO. I have a blog that I set up specifically for discussions of this type. Would you be interested in debating this topic with me there?


Posted by Kevin Baker on March 25, 2004 at 1:39 PM

"Dean's comment section is not an appropriate place to hold this discussion IMHO."

I disagree. This is what the comments section is for.

Why did you just post the homicide rate for England and Wales, and not include those of Scotland and NI? Even so, what would attribute the higher homicide rate in America to?

Posted by Stu on March 25, 2004 at 1:57 PM


Stu:

It's inappropriate because it's his bandwidth, and it's an awkward place to make extended points - which a discussion of this type requires.

I excluded Scotland and Northern Ireland because they are not normally included in the general comparison between the U.S. and what most people here think of when you say "Britain." If you average England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the rate is about 2.25/100,000. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland have higher homicide rates than England & Wales. That would bring the ratio down to about 2.5:1.

Homicide is a largely cultural thing, but it is exacerbated by the illicit drug trade and consumption of mind-altering substances, both of which are concentrated in specific demographics in both the U.S, the UK, and Canada. The culture of the U.S. is still relatively young compared to Europe, and it is historically violent. Europeans seemed to prefer engaging in killing wholesale (with war after war after war) we tend to do it retail. Canada seems to be more European in nature.


Posted by Kevin Baker on March 25, 2004 at 2:15 PM
I guess that means he won't debate me over at The Fabulous Baker Boys. Too bad. That would have been fun.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Citizen Smash Interviews One of Stalin's "Useful Idiots"

I have no idea how he kept from throttling her, but if you haven't read it already, go now.

These are the people our public school systems are producing.

And Time magazine has the temerity to suggest that homeschooled kids aren't good citizens?

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

The Next Time Someone Tells You that Self-Defense isn't Illegal in the UK,

(for all intents and purposes,) show them this:
Man Who Killed Armed Intruder Jailed Eight Years

A man who stabbed to death an armed intruder at his home was jailed for eight years today.

Carl Lindsay, 25, answered a knock at his door in Salford, Greater Manchester, to find four men armed with a gun.

When the gang tried to rob him he grabbed a samurai sword and stabbed one of them, 37-year-old Stephen Swindells, four times.

Mr Swindells, of Salford, was later found collapsed in an alley and died in hospital.

Lindsay, of Walkden, was found guilty of manslaughter following a three-week trial at Manchester Crown Court.

He was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment.

After the case, Detective Chief Inspector Sam Haworth said: “Four men, including the victim, had set out purposefully to rob Carl Lindsay and this intent ultimately led to Stephen Swindells’ death.

“I believe the sentences passed today reflect the severity of the circumstances.”

Three other men were charged with robbery and firearms offences in connection with the incident, which took place in February last year.
Manslaughter. For bringing a sword to a gunfight.

Excuse me, Chief Inspector Haworth, but the victim here was Carl Lindsay, and the other three men should be in jail for homicide in the death of their accomplice. Mr. Lindsay should have received a hearty pat on the back for ridding society of a violent perpetrator.

UPDATE - 3/24/04: Reader Ben D comments:
Just a quick note-there is a follow up story on Moorewatch stating that this may actually have been a drug buy gone bad. The man wielding the sword was apparently a dealer. Not that he should be punished for defending himself (especially not for defending himself with a sword-way to go!), but there may be more nuances here.
I responded:
However, were you a reader of this story - provided without nuance - would you not draw the conclusion that defending yourself against attack is legally risky?

That's my point - the general public in the UK is actively discouraged from self-defense, in fear of prosecution.

"You can't protect yourself! You're not qualified!"
(Added to the original post because comments tend to eventually disappear.)
Dept. of Our Collapsing Schools - Homeschooling Starts to Hurt

This month's Time magazine has a three-page cover article on homeschooling entitled Seceding from School. It makes a passing attempt at "fairness," with comments and quotations from both sides of the issue, but (IMHO) it leans towards public schooling with a near declaration that parents who homeschool are being elitist and shirking their civic duty by not making their children suffer through the same educational morass that less fortunate families cannot escape.
Thomas Jefferson and the other early American crusaders for public education believed the schools would help sustain democracy by bringing everyone together to share values and learn a common history. In the little red brick schoolhouse, we would pursue both "democracy in education and education in democracy," as Stanford historian David Tyack gracefully puts it. Home schooling forsakes all that by defining education not as the pursuit of an entire community but as the work of one family and its chosen circle. Which can be great. Despite some drawbacks, there are signs that home-schooling parents are doing a better job than public schools at teaching their kids. But as the number of kids learning at home grows, we should pause to wonder: Better at teaching them what? Home schooling may turn out better students, but does it create better citizens?
That's the fourth paragraph of the article.

That last sentence left my mouth agape.

I think that if Jefferson saw what passed for "education" in many if not most of today's public schools, he'd be in favor of burning the existing "system" to the ground and starting over.

My stepdaughter graduated from high school in 1997. Her knowledge of American history, civics, and even geography is essentially nil. When the movie Pearl Harbor came out, I asked her if she knew what Pearl Harbor was. No clue.

She is hardly an exception to the rule.

Perhaps we should look to what the author might mean by "better citizens," then. Founding Father Thomas Paine (whom my daughter has never studied) said "Reason and Ignorance, the opposites of each other, influence the great bulk of mankind. If either of these can be rendered sufficiently extensive in a country, the machinery of Government goes easily on. Reason obeys itself; and Ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it."

Connie du Toit once wrote
The other day our Carpenter's helper heard me say something along the lines of, "it is difficult to conclude that incompetence is the reason why our public schools have deteriorated. There comes a point where you have to suspect sabotage, or a conspiracy."

He asked me if I really meant that. I gave him the five minute explanation of John Dewey's known affiliation with communists, his frequent essays and articles about the wonders of the Soviet education system, and his quote, "You can't make Socialists out of individualists. Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming where everyone is interdependent."

I then went on to tell him about how public schools changed at the turn of the last century. That there were others involved in turning Americans from free-thinking individualists to factory drones. I also added that many people probably went along with it because it seemed like a good idea, but there were certainly enough people behind the scenes, who knew that the goal posts had been moved. THAT is a conspiracy.

Yes. There does come that time when you are forced to don the tinfoil hat.

The incompetence excuse only works once. Incompetence this great is impossible to attribute to accident.
Count me in the tinfoil-hat brigade. Especially when I see peices like this Time one suggesting that it's our civic duty to indoctrinate our children and make them better citizens.

In my opinion, the homeschooled are far more likely to be reasoning, free-thinking individualists, and that means better AMERICAN citizens - the kind willing to make decisions unpopular with the UN.

The Time article continues:
To see how home schooling threatens public schools, look at Maricopa County, Ariz. The county has approximately 7,000 home-schooled students. That's only 1.4% of school-age kids, but it means $35 million less for the county in per-pupil funding. The state of Florida has 41,128 children (1.7%) learning at home this year, up from 10,039 in the 1991-92 school year; those kids represent a loss of nearly $130 million from school budgets in that state. Of course the schools have fewer children to teach, so it makes sense that they wouldn't get as much money, but the districts lose much more than cash. "Home schooling is a social threat to public education," says Chris Lubienski, who teaches at Iowa State University's college of education. "It is taking some of the most affluent and articulate parents out of the system. These are the parents who know how to get things done with administrators."
Get things done? Like what? They seem to be completely unable to alter curricula so that the kids get an actual education.

I've said before that my sister is a teacher, so I have a little bit of insight into just who has the ability to 'get things done with administrators.' It's the ones who threaten lawsuits for not advancing little Johnny to the next grade, even though he's illiterate, because not doing so will "hurt his self-esteem." People are pulling their kids out of public schools because they can't affect the system - it's far too ingrained at this point. The Titanic doesn't take course corrections any longer, even though it's obvious the iceberg is dead ahead.

Look at this example of supposed balance in the Time story:
Despite its growing acceptance, there are nagging shortcomings to home schooling. If you spend time with home schoolers, you get a sense that some of them have missed out on whole swaths of childhood; the admirable efforts by their parents to ensure their education and safety sometimes seem to have gone too far. In 1992 psychotherapist Larry Shyers did a study while at the University of Florida in which he closely examined the behavior of 35 home schoolers and 35 public schoolers. He found that home schoolers were generally more patient and less competitive. They tended to introduce themselves to one another more; they didn't fight as much. And the home schoolers were much more prone to exchange addresses and phone numbers. In short, they behaved like miniature adults.

Which is great, unless you believe that kids should be kids before they are adults. John McCallum, 20, of Wheaton, Ill., began learning at home after fourth grade. On the whole, he valued the experience. But if he could change anything about his teen years, he would want more interaction with people his age. "I don't date, and that's something I attribute to home schooling," he says. Or consider Rachel Ahern, 21, of Grand Junction, Colo., who never set foot in a classroom until she went to Harvard at 18. As a child, she socialized with older kids and adults at church and in music classes at a nearby college. "I never once experienced peer pressure," she says. But is that a good thing? Megan Wallace of Atlanta says if she had gone to high school, "I would have gotten into so much trouble." One could argue that kids need to get into a certain amount of trouble to learn how to handle temptations and their consequences."
They're complaining that homeschooled kids aren't little hooligans. One "could argue that kids need to get into a certain amount of trouble" but I'm not one of them. I prefer to let them mature and see the errors that they missed. I think that eighteen year-old mature adults are, by definition, good citizens, and something to strive for.

We used to get them out of the public school system, not all that long ago.

(Homework assignment: Read Francis Porretto's most recent piece, The Assault on Accuracy for more illustration of the collapse of our schools.)

UPDATE, 3/24/04: Chris O'Donnell of O'DonnellWeb points out that this Time piece is actually a couple years old. I don't know where I first ran across it, but I assumed it was current. All the better, as homeschooling has had a couple more years to irritate the Statists.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Blogging will be Reduced

My apologies. I am absolutely overwhelmed with work, and I will be limited to posting (if at all) in the evenings. Bummer. I have about seven weeks until my one-year blogoversary, and I was really hoping to have 100,000 hits on Sitemeter on or about that date, but lack of posting tends to drop my readership numbers.

Thank you for visiting, and remember the archives off there to the left for your reading enjoyment.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

1975 in Washington, D.C. vs. 2004 in Canton, Ohio


This is an odd coincidence.

Quite a while back, shortly after I started this blog, I posted "Is the Government Responsible for Your Protection," a two-part essay on one reason there is a right to arms. In Part I I used the transcript of the 1981 D.C. Court of Apeals en banc decision of Warren v. District of Columbia in which Carolyn Warren, Miriam Douglas, and Joan Taliaferro sued the District of Columbia for failing to protect them from a pair of rapists, even after they had called the police and the police had come to the home. If you've not read it before, I strongly recommend you do.

These women lived in the District in 1975, a short while before D.C. passed its draconian firearms restrictions, but in any case none of them were armed, and they depended on the State for their protection.

Skip forward twenty-nine years, nearly to the day, and shift your coordinates to Canton, Ohio. Clayton Cramer's Civilian Gun Self-Defense Page posts from the Akron Beacon-Journal the following story that I will copy shamelessly:
Man shot to death in Canton

The first time Carolyn Warren called police, she wanted to be rescued from a man she said was trying to break in her door.

Three minutes later, she called back to say the man was in her apartment, but she didn't need to be rescued anymore.

The man was shot dead.


Kenneth G. Riggs, 38, died about 12:30 a.m. Thursday
(March 11, 2004) of a gunshot wound to the head. He was shot inside Warren's apartment on Mahoning Road Northeast, less than a block from his home.

Canton Police Lt. Tom Thomas said the two women in the apartment knew Riggs, but he declined to describe their relationship. Police say the shooter is a 31-year-old woman, who Thomas said was identified in the 911 call as Warren's daughter.

The mother apparently made the calls and the daughter allegedly fired a .22 rifle at Riggs twice after he forced his way into the apartment.

Police did not arrest the woman. Thomas said information from the shooting investigation will be turned over to the Stark County prosecutor.

A telephone number listed for Warren was out of order Thursday.

Riggs, who lived in the 2600 block of Mahoning Road Northeast, had a history of arrests in Stark County that stretched back to the late 1980s. Court records include a one-year prison sentence for illegal possession of a firearm and using a weapon while intoxicated. The records also list multiple arrests on charges of assault, aggravated burglary, menacing, drug abuse and violating a protection order.
Is it the same Carolyn Warren? Her daughter would have been born in 1973, two years before the attack in D.C, so I think it's highly doubtful. But notice the stark difference between the two cases - one in which there was a .22 rifle and someone who knew how to use it, and one in which the victims were unarmed.

The name coincidence was just too weird not to comment on.
Tilting at Windmills

But I honor them for it.

Dan of Jackalope Pursuivant emailed me a link to a post at The England Project. It seems that America's Citizens Committe for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) has opened an office in London:
The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) today announced that it is opening an office in London, and joining with embattled British citizens in their fight to restore their firearms rights.


It is the first time an American firearm civil rights organization has opened an office on foreign soil. CCRKBA Chairman Alan M. Gottlieb has appointed veteran Conservative Party activist Greg Smith as the organization's European representative.


"British citizens and gun owners from other European countries will be funding this effort," Gottlieb said. "Just as with America's war against international terrorism, we are taking the fight against international gun control to our enemies. With the attack on gun rights becoming global, it is important to fight these battles on every continent before we find ourselves isolated from an important human civil right.


"Extremist gun control measures have disarmed the British people," Gottlieb continued, "leaving them vulnerable to criminal assault. Incredibly, if they do defend themselves, they can be prosecuted and imprisoned. Since the United Kingdom banned privately owned handguns in 1997, gun crime has nearly doubled. What more appropriate place for the Citizens Committee to be than in the middle of this battleground, offering whatever help we can to British citizens in their efforts to take back their neighborhoods and make their communities safe once again?"
There's more to read in the press release.

Other than outraging some members of Parliament and a bunch of panty-wetting gun haters, I don't see the London CCRKBA office accomplishing much from a legislative standpoint, but hats off to them for at least making the effort.
Tyranny and Its Fringes, Part VIII

Francis Porretto has Part VIII of his essay "Tyranny and Its Fringes" up. If you've not read any of it before, here are the links to the previous pieces:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Part VII
Another of Those Rarities - A News Report of a DGU With No Shots Fired!

This time from Oakland, Michigan:
Woman's gun may have saved her life

Web-posted Mar 20, 2004


By STEPHEN FRYE
Of The Daily Oakland Press

Four years ago, she was helpless as a man robbed her at gunpoint. On Friday, legally armed with a handgun, she may have saved her life.

And Farmington Hills Police Chief William Dwyer, who dreaded a change in the law in 2001 to make it easier to receive a concealed weapons permit, admits that he's changing his mind about that law.
Yes, after the predicted "blood in the streets" and "Dodge City Shootouts" that never occur, then law-enforcement begins to re-think their opposition.

Why they can't study the other states and draw a similar conclusion prior to CCW passage is beyond me.
Dwyer said the woman could easily have been killed after she was targeted by a couple looking for an easy score. They were waiting at 6:30 a.m. outside an office building at the southeast corner of 12 Mile and Drake roads.

Angela, a married mother of two, was arriving at the office where she has worked for six years. She asked that her last name and hometown not be made public.

She saw a car in the lot that she did not recognize, with two people inside, putting her on her guard. When she left her car, a man got out of that car and walked toward her.

He passed the entrance to the building and continued toward her. The man came within 10 feet of her, and she knew she had to act.

"I didn't get a chance to get in the office," she said. "He had his hands in his pocket with his hood pulled up. I opened my purse and pulled my gun out.

"I felt my life was in trouble. The first instinct was to pull out my gun."

The man turned tail and walked away, and the car pulled up to him near the roadway. He jumped in and they drove off.

No shots were fired.
And THAT's how it's done.

Except in some jurisdictions Angela would be charged with "Brandishing," because they don't allow their proles to carry in self-defense, and doing so is an affront to the State.

Good thing her workplace doesn't have a "no guns allowed" policy, isn't it? Or does it? Does she now face dismissal from the job she's held for six years because she carries a firearm to work? But like Tracey Warner said, "Sometimes you do what you have to do."
Dwyer said there was "no question" she was in trouble.

"She took the appropriate action," Dwyer said. "She probably saved her life. She is a very fortunate young lady. (Also) she did an excellent job as far as giving a description of the vehicle and the suspect. She's a very courageous young lady."

Her calm demeanor and quick thinking - she called police from her cell phone immediately after the suspect drove off - led police to the man and his female accomplice within a minute of the robbery attempt, Dwyer said.

He said the couple - a 21-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman from Detroit - would be charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

Police confiscated a loaded 9 mm handgun from the couple's car. The man has several outstanding warrants and the woman was convicted for receiving stolen property.

Later Friday, Dwyer said a 28-year-old Southfield woman who knows Angela had been arrested for setting up her robbery.

Police are seeking a fourth suspect.

Dwyer, who as head of the state's police chief's association opposed the change in state law that made it easier for residents without criminal backgrounds to carry guns, acknowledges that the law has saved at least one person.

"I always said the CCW (Carrying a Concealed Weapon permit) legislation is somewhat controversial," he said. "I'm certainly rethinking it."
Perhaps because the ratio of people using guns in self-defense vs. those accidentally shooting people is so tremendously high? Remember, the argument against CCW is always that "more guns on the street" means "more wrongful injuries and death."
He credited her for taking the appropriate training and, equally important, using common sense.

"I'm just a woman," Angela said. "You hear about things like this. I didn't want to be a victim again."
Yes, Angela is "just a woman" - who didn't have her gun taken away and used against her as we are repeatedly told will happen.

Good for you Angela.

It's amazing, actually, that I've found two stories in less than a week in which handguns were used defensively and nobody got shot! Usually, unless someone bleeds it never makes print. Actually, unless someone dies it hardly ever makes print, when it comes to defensive gun useage.

UPDATE: 3/21/04 - From Clayton Cramer's Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog comes this typical example of how defensive gun useages are covered in the local media, the same story related above as "reported" by ClickOnDetroit.com
Woman Stops Robbery With Own Gun

Farmington Hills Office Robbers Surprised

POSTED: 4:17 pm EST March 19, 2004

A woman in Farmington Hills stopped a robbery Friday with a concealed weapon she was carrying.

Police tell Local 4 the woman was entering an office building around 6:30 a.m. when two men confronted her. She reportedly pulled the gun and called 911. Police responded and arrested the two men.

The woman has a concealed weapons permit for the gun.
That's it. No blood = no story.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

I See One of These Uppers In My Future

The "26 Grendel" - a 6.5mm round for the AR-15 style rifle.

Watch the video. (Windows Media file)

Pushes a 120 grain 6.5mm round out to a realistic 1,000 yards.

Sounds interesting!
More on "Guns for Me, but Not For Thee"

Clayton Cramer reports (as did an anonymous commenter) that Ft. Wayne, Indiana Journal-Gazette editor Tracey Warner wrote an editorial on why he has a concealed-carry permit. Here are the hypocritical parts:

Position A:
On the other hand, the experience has provided insight into why people have weapons. The police are not 24-hour armed guards, and few of us can afford our own. Having a gun reduces one's sense of vulnerability. Indiana's constitution and state law expressly allow me to carry one for my protection. After having long rejected the idea, I have decided to at least have the option.
Position B:
Over the years, The Journal Gazette's editorial page has long called for strict control of guns and opposed state efforts to allow citizens to carry handguns in public. I agree with gun control. Having a gun permit, by definition, is gun control.
Yet the editorial, written by Tracey Warner, that spawned all of this was against OHIO IMPLEMENTING PERMITTED CONCEALED-CARRY.

But "having a permit, by definition, is gun control."

As I said: "Guns for me, but not for thee."

Something Mr. Warner shares with Diane Feinstein, and others enthusiastic about "gun control."

Friday, March 19, 2004

Another Criminal Stopped by a Citizen with a Gun

That won't be reported on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox or any other national news outlet because no child was shot.

Sacramento radio station KTKZ reports that Roseville resident William Castle caught a burglar trying to steal his pickup truck right out of his garage. He held the man at gunpoint until the police arrived. No shots fired. The kicker:
Officers arrested 21-year-old David Cerniglia on suspicion of burglary. Allison says the supect may be tied to a number of similar crimes over the past few weeks.
But
Consider how many stories you read about an armed citizen preventing a crime - and, no doubt it happens. Compare that with the number of stories of people who accidentally shoot someone else, accidentally shoot themselves or purposely shoot someone in the heat of an argument. Common sense suggests that the more guns on the street, the more wrongful injuries and death.
So says Tracey Warner, editor of the Ft. Wayne Indiana Journal-Gazette. But how many stories like this one - where no shots were fired - get reported? And if they aren't reported, how are we to know about them and what does that do to our "common sense?"
Another Friday Five

If you...

1. ...owned a restaurant, what kind of food would you serve?

American. You know; Lasagne, pizza, meatloaf, steak, stir-fry, hamburgers.... Oh, and breakfast anytime. With GRITS.

2. ...owned a small store, what kind of merchandise would you sell?

Guns and ammo and other associated stuff. And I would be strongly tempted to name it BloodBath and Beyond, but I might be convinced to go with Accessory After the Fact.

3. ...wrote a book, what genre would it be?

I keep toying with writing a book on gun control, but it's been done so many times before.

4. ...ran a school, what would you teach?

Reading, writing, math, science, civics, world history - with special emphasis on some dead rich white guys, and philosophy - with special emphasis on some dead rich white guys.

5. ...recorded an album, what kind of music would be on it?

I am personally so unmusical it's not even funny. Any album I recorded would be somebody else's stuff. But rock. Definitely rock.
I Hope One Day to Write This Well

Every weekday morning I have one ritual I repeat if at all possible: I sit at my computer and read first Day by Day, the excellent cartoon penned composed on computer by Chris Muir, then I read James Likeks' Bleat, which he composes on computer Monday through Friday unless he's overwhelmed with working on the writing he does that pays.

Todays Day by Day:

is a perfect example of Chris's skills.

As today's Bleat is of Lileks'. I've been on the road a lot the last couple of days, and when I'm doing windshield time, I try to listen to stuff that engages my brain. Pop music has a tendency to put me to sleep. Country music generally just irritates me (slide guitar and warbly voices can be like fingernails on a blackboard to me.) Music from the Spanish-language stations is annoying as well. (What is it with the accordions? Accordions annoy me.) So, unsurprisingly, I listen to talk radio.*

Yes, I'm a brainwashed toady of the far-right wing, hypnotized by the minions of the vast conspiracy: Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Hugh Hewitt et al. Except for Michael Savage. I cannot stand Michael Savage. But I blame Savage on his surroundings; perhaps if I lived among the vast hoards of leftist undead of the San Francisco Bay area, I too would become as embittered and vile as Savage.

Which is just one more reason I deliberately won't live there.

At any rate, while listening to talk radio this week, I was able to hear the majority of several speeches given by President Bush, VP Dick Cheney, and James Carville - speeches covered (if at all) with extreme brevity by the standard news media outlets. Talk radio has no such limitations. Getting back to Lileks, I find in today's Bleat a paragraph that sums up precisely my thoughts - a summation so precise that I could not have accomplished it in less than a full essay (thus this piece):
I heard four speeches this week – one by Carville before some firefighters, screaming like cat that had been dipped in turpentine; one from Kerry about something or other (it’s hard to stick with it; he sounds like a 45 RPM record played at 33 1/3, and you keep making revolving-hand motions in the hopes you can somehow, like a butterfly that flutters its wings in Brazil and causes typhoons in Tahiti, cause him to pick up the pace a little); one from Dick Cheney, and one from Bush. Cheney’s speech was tailor-made for his speaking style, which consists of pressing the point of the sword into the opponant’s arguments and slowly pushing the entire blade in with steady force. Bush’s speech had many thick sheets of boilerplate, but it had economy and optimism.
The description of Cheney's speaking style is so perfect, it defies improvement. As does the description of Carville's. Damn.

*(I also listen to NPR, which - like talk radio - when filtered for bias has a surprising amount of useful information contained therein.)