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 31, 2004

Kerry's Combat "V"

A lot of people are making serious accusations about John Kerry's DD-214 showing that one of his awards is a Silver Star with Combat "V", since the Navy doesn't award the "V" with the Silver Star - ever. Captain's Quarters blog notes, for example, that "John Lehman denies ever signing the modified citation Kerry's site has prominently displayed for months, and states categorically that he didn't write the additional language describing the engagement." FrontPageMag has two pretty comprehensive pieces on it. Much glee has been take in in a quote by Kerry over the suicide of Admiral Mike Boorda, in 1996. Then Chief of Naval Operations, his wearing of two small Combat "V" clips on medals to which he was not entitled was questioned, and shortly before a planned news conference he committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest. (From NRO):
What did John Kerry have to say at the time about the matter? Let us consult the Boston Herald of May 18, 1996:
Veterans said yesterday that although they would take offense at someone falsely wearing a "V" combat pin, they couldn't see how this could drive Navy Adm. Jeremy Michael Boorda to suicide.

“Is it wrong? Yes, it is very wrong. Sufficient to question his leadership position? The answer is yes, which he clearly understood,” said Sen. John Kerry, a Navy combat veteran who served in Vietnam.

Citing uncertainty of whether Boorda deliberately wore the pins improperly, Kerry added: “If he made a mistake, in my judgment it wasn't worth his life, so I'm very sad about it.”
And let us consult the Boston Globe for the same day:
“The military is a rigorous culture that places a high premium on battlefield accomplishment,” said Sen. John F. Kerry, who received numerous decorations, including a Bronze Star with a "V" pin, as a Navy lieutenant in Vietnam.

“In a sense, there's nothing that says more about your career than when you fought, where you fought and how you fought,” Kerry said.

“If you wind up being less than what you’re pretending to be, there is a major confrontation with value and self-esteem and your sense of how others view you.”

Of Boorda and his apparent violation, Kerry said: “When you are the chief of them all, it has to weigh even more heavily.”
My take on the matter? I'm more interested in why there are three different versions of the award (none of which mention a Combat "V") than what appears to me to be a typo that Kerry didn't bother to correct. And Lehman? Does he remember everything he signed? Doubtful.

But I'd like to know why Kerry isn't being asked about this by the press.
What Bush Actually Said

Of course by now you know that the Left is spinning Bush's comments from the Matt Lauer interview as hard as they can, but here's what he actually said (via Michelle Malkin's blog):
Lauer: “You said to me a second ago, one of the things you'll lay out in your vision for the next four years is how to go about winning the war on terror. That phrase strikes me a little bit. Do you really think we can win this war on terror in the next four years?”

President Bush: “I have never said we can win it in four years.”

Lauer: “So I’m just saying can we win it? Do you see that?”

President Bush: “I don't think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world –- let's put it that way. I have a two pronged strategy. On the one hand is to find them before they hurt us, and that's necessary. I’m telling you it's necessary. The country must never yield, must never show weakness [and] must continue to lead. To find al-Qaida affiliates who are hiding around the world and … harm us and bring ‘em to justice –- we're doing a good job of it. I mean we are dismantling the al-Qaida as we knew it. The long-term strategy is to spread freedom and liberty, and that's really kind of an interesting debate. You know there's some who say well, ‘You know certain people can't self govern and accept, you know, a former democracy.’ I just strongly disagree with that. I believe that democracy can take hold in parts of the world that are now non-democratic and I think it's necessary in order to defeat the ideologies of hate. History has shown that it can work, that spreading liberty does work. After all, Japan is our close ally and my dad fought against the Japanese. Prime Minister Koizumi, is one of the closest collaborators I have in working to make the world a more peaceful place.”

Lauer: “Your daughters are how old now?”

President Bush: “Twenty-two.”

Lauer: “Twenty-two years old. They’re approaching the age, President Bush, [when] they're going to have their own children. And when their kids are teenagers are they going to those kids – your grandchildren – be reading about al-Qaida in the newspaper every day?”

President Bush: “I know if steadfast, strong and resolute — and I say those words very seriously — it's less likely that your kids are going to live under the threat of al-Qaida for a long period of time. I can't tell you. I don't have any … definite end. But I tell you this, when we succeed in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's the beginning of the end for these extremists. Because freedom is going to have a powerful influence to make sure your kids can grow up in a peaceful world. If we believe, for example, that you can't win, and the alternative is to retreat … I think that would be a disaster for your children. I'll tell you why. If al-Qaida and their ideologues were able to secure a nuclear arsenal, then your children would grow up under the threat of nuclear blackmail. I think you would look back and say, ‘Why did George Bush not hold the line?’ We cannot show weakness in this world today, because the enemy will exploit that weakness. It will embolden them and make the world a more dangerous place.”
Will the mainstream media report the entire conversation, or will they just endlessly repeat the line highlighted in red?
Michael Moore Hit the Nail on the Head - Really!

In today's USAToday column:
Our side is full of wimps who'd rather compromise than fight. Not you guys.
And our side has concluded that if your side is in charge it would rather compromise with the Islamists than fight them. Just like the French.

No thank you.
KeepAndBearArms.com Under New Management

I literally just received this email:
KeepAndBearArms.com Under New ManagementSAF and CCRKBA Set to Lead KABA to Brighter FutureSeptember 1, 2004

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

KeepAndBearArms.com (KABA) has undergone a transfer of power and leadership. Launched in April of 2000, KABA has become a daily source for news and information about gun rights, gun control and gun-related activism.Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) have purchased the website, domain name and related assets associated with the website. SAF and CCRKBA combined have over a million members and contributors nationwide, and its leaders are confident in taking KABA to the next level of growth and development.

KeepAndBearArms.com Founder Angel Shamaya says "this move is in the best interest of KABA and in the best interest of my family. While we haven't had the resources to help KABA realize its full potential, SAF and CCRKBA have much greater resources and a commitment to immediately implementing needed changes to assure the website's success and longevity. They've been in the gun rights fight for over three decades, and they're prepared to lead KABA to new heights at a time where we're rubbing nickels together. Their ability to reach many people who don't currently know about the website can only strengthen public awareness about the war being waged against gun owners' rights. We thought about this situation for a long time before concluding to hand over the reins, and I believe we've made the right choice, for the above and other reasons. I am doing everything I can to assure a smooth transition and to assure that KABA thrives. I am grateful for all of the support KeepAndBearArms.com has received over the years, and it is my sincerest hope that the site will continue to receive support so it can continue to expand public awareness in defense of Liberty."

Second Amendment Foundation Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb has high hopes for KABA's future. He says, "KeepAndBearArms.com has been the premier daily website for gun rights news and information for quite a while now. They've done a great job in providing needed services to the gun rights community, and we salute them for their valiant efforts. We are working closely with key KABA staff to assure a smooth, seamless transition. We are also investing in a new server and in new development in key areas to begin expanding KABA's reach and influence. We are confidant in our abilities to build upon what KeepAndBearArms.com has become while continuing to provide valuable services to the gun rights community for which KABA has become famous."

KeepAndBearArms.com will continue to function as an independent gun rights website owned by KeepAndBearArms.com, Inc. whose shareholders consist of SAF and CCRKBA. The website will continue to be hosted by the NetSalon Corporation.

The transition to new KeepAndBearArms.com leadership is effective September 1, 2004. SAF and CCRKBA are committed to taking care of all existing members, including Life Members, and are eager to hear from KABA members about desired changes and upgrades to the site and services provided. And of course, new memberships and donors are always welcome.KABA Founder Angel Shamaya invites KABA members to join him in the Members' Forum to catch up, share thoughts, reminisce or just touch base and say hello. Members can log in to the members' forums here:

https://www.KeepAndBearArms.com/members

On the web:

http://www.KeepAndBearArms.com

http://www.saf.org

http://www.ccrkba.org

Another Classic Example of a Truism

As most of you are probably aware, Steven Den Beste is taking a hiatus, probably long-term, possibly permanent. I'm sorry to see that. I certainly understand his reasoning (can't help being envious of the traffic, but he's illustrated the problem very well.)

So, of course, his detractors are gleeful:
I've been at this a long time. I know what's important, and a pompous ignoramus like Den Beste doesn't qualify. He's a run-of-the-mill, rote, conservative, which means: when it comes to politics and the whole cultural and philosophical underpinning of the thing, he couldn't think his way to the nearest light-switch on the wall with the earnest intent to flip the thing on.
Once again proving the old adage that "Those who can, DO. Those who can't, teach. And those who can't teach, criticize."
Note to PJ: James Lileks has Your Number

A couple of posts below I respond to a bit of hate-mail from reader "PJ." Well, I wish I'd read this before I wrote my response, because James Lileks has been there, done that: Another Swing Vote: the Sufferers of Sudden Bush Hatred Fatigue Syndrome. Two pertinent excerpts:
He's a tool of big oil, small minds. He's a scarily devout Jesus-freak Christian AND the dupe of Saudi Wahhabist puppetmasters. He led the country to war on bizarre and fabricated assumptions -- sure, Clinton made Iraqi regime change standard American policy, but that was just a scarecrow to stick in the field. Plus, George W. Bush is Satan! Just look at the cover of Jim Hightower's book, where the author draws devil horns and scribbles a mustache and goatee on a Bush poster. Bush isn't just wrong. He's bad. Super-extra evil. Get it? GET IT?

--

One can understand why Southerners like him, since they're all two-toothed crackers with gun racks and Klan sheets neatly folded in the trunk in case they drive by a good ol' fashioned flaming cross. Right?

It's harder to understand why putatively normal people like him. These creatures are frankly incomprehensible to any right-thinking person. Maybe they're just so full of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh they don't understand that their drinking water is now composed ENTIRELY of arsenic, or that we have completely squandered the goodwill of several hundred chain-smoking French intellectuals.
How scarily similar is that?
I've Said it Before, I'll Say it Again...

England is done. Stick a fork in it.

Acidman points to this Bloomberg story illustrating, once again, the complete inability of the gun-fearing to see any difference between legitimate and illegitimate gun use (and they have absolutely no sense of humor):
Ford's Land Rover Ad Banned by U.K. Regulator on Use of Gun

Aug. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co., the world's second biggest carmaker, has had a television commercial for its Land Rover brand banned by the U.K. communications regulator after it was judged to "normalize'' the use of guns.

The advertisement, which featured a woman brandishing a gun later revealed to be a starting pistol, breached the Advertising Standards Code and must not be shown again, Ofcom said in an e- mailed statement. The regulator received 348 complaints against the ad, many concerned that the commercial glamorized guns and made it "appear that guns are fun and cool.''
Might that be because guns are "fun and cool?"
Carmakers in the U.K. often come to the attention of regulators for their portrayal of speed in ads, which the advertising code says must not "encourage or condone fast or irresponsible driving.'' Ford's Land Rover division did not immediately comment on the ban.

Ofcom said glamorization is "part and parcel'' of the advertising process but this commercial "normalized'' gun ownership in a domestic setting. The pistol, fired by the woman into the air as a man got into his car, was used in "an apparent casual manner and just for fun,'' Ofcom said.
I shoot all of my guns mostly "just for fun". So?
The large number of complaints compares with 427 against an ad for Virgin Mobile Holdings Plc, the highest number Ofcom received this year. Earlier this month, the regulator dismissed the complaints against Virgin Mobile's ad, which portrayed a young man being helped to urinate by an attendant at a urinal.
So, let me see if I got this straight: In a country with a population of, oh, 60 million, they receive complaints from 348 people with their panties in a bunch, and have an ad yanked. BUT when 427 people (22.7% more) complain about a DIFFERENT ad, it's NOT yanked.

Because there was a different 'gun' involved.

What are they putting in the water over there?

UPDATE: David Carr of Samizdata comments there:
The right to keep and bear arms is not a debate in this country. Nor is it an issue or an idea or an argument. It has all been subsumed into a deep national psychosis for which I see no prospect of any cure.
That's what I just said.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Hell, That was EASY

I read in this week's Tucson Weekly the obligatory News of the Weird. The story that caught my attention (naturally) was this one:
Almost All True

Three of these four things really happened just recently. Are you cynical enough to figure out the made-up story?

(a) The New Zealand government issued a 100-page occupational health and safety guide for prostitutes.

(b) An appeals court in Michigan ruled that a man suffering chronic depression can, under the Americans With Disabilities Act, carry a loaded pistol in public because holding it in his hands helps him therapeutically, according to doctors.

(c) Turkmenistan ruled that drivers cannot get licenses unless they pass tests on the moral values described in President Saparmurat Niyazov's writings.

(d) The owner of a gym in downtown Baghdad held a bodybuilding competition on July 30 in honor of the birthday of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

(Answer: The three foreign stories are true.) [Hindustan Times- Agence France-Presse, 7-31-04] [Reuters, 8-2-04] [Reuters, 8-2- 04]
I had absolutely no problem figuring it out. An appeals court letting a man have a loaded firearm in public? You MUST be joking!

It does say something about our laws and court systems, however, that the author thought that the idea was plausible enough to include in the list, doesn't it?
I Think He's Right

Mike over at Feces Flinging Monkey has called the election:
I'll go way out on a limb and call this one: Bush is going to win this election, and it's not even going to be close.
Why? Four reasons:
He's got graphs and links and everything, so he must be right...

;-)

But I think he is anyway.

And here's the quote-of-the-day:
The Anybody-But-Bush people are diehard stalwarts this time around, but the Enthusiastic Kerry Supporters Of American could hold their national convention in a Hotel Six.
Ayup.
A Reminder to the Left:

Ravenwood has illustrated for you the difference between free speech and the abridgment thereof. Note which party is supporting the former for their opponents.

I don't see barbed wire anywhere. Do you?

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Glenn Reynolds has a New Cocktail Recipe?

Say it ain't so, Professor!
I Feel Special! I Got Hate-Mail!

Reader PJ, who also resides in Arizona, sent me an email today. I've responded, but I had to put it up here. My responses are interspersed in his screed, below:
Mr. Baker,

I am a Democrat and proud owner of several fire arms. I don't believe that our government is going to protect us so let's just say that I am prepared for the worst. It seems to me that you are not being fair to Democrats. You are labeling them Liberals when we are not.

Not all of you, certainly, but the moonbat wing has certainly grasped the reins of power in the party. And they're NOT liberals, they're Leftists. (Big "L").
I'm sure Junior Bush and his administration has had a hand in brain-washing the words "Liberal Democrat" into your mind.
You are? Let me assure you, four years of Jimmy Carter followed by eight years of William Jefferson Clinton cemented the words "Liberal Democrat" in my mind long before George Walker Bush was tapped by the Republican cognoscenti to be the 2000 nominee for President. And a reminder: Al Gore was "Junior," as in Albert Arnold Gore II. George Walker Bush is the first son of George Herbert Walker Bush. He is not G.H.W. Bush II. Do try to strive for accuracy.
Do you always believe everything Mr. Bush tells you?
I do not, but I have found him to be much more plainspoken (in all meanings of the word) than previous spinmeisters who have occupied that office. Do you believe every utterance of John Forbes Kerry? He's proven to be deliberately mendacious, you know.
Did you duct tape your home when he told us to?
Actually, I believe it was Tom Ridge who made that announcement, and no, I did not. Again, strive for accuracy.
Did nipple-gate distract you and take your mind off of what was really happening in Iraq?
Do you think Bush invented "nipplepgate" or that the Bush Administration simply grasped it as something to wave in America's face? Or do you understand that there is a large percentage of the population that found that incident to be offensive, and the government felt quite a bit of pressure (you remember government - supposed representative of the People?) to respond?

And you wonder why I call so many Democrats "Liberals" (Actually, I prefer the term "Leftist" - I'M what used to be called a 'classical liberal' - interested in freedom for all and minimal intrusion by government into our lives.)
Do you really believe that stem cell research to help cure diabetes and other illnesses is evil?
Haven't read much of my blog, have you?
Do you really believe that women who have endometriosis and other “female diseases” should just pray to God instead of getting treatment (like our great commander and chief believes)?
Got a cite?

You REALLY haven't read much of my blog. That's obvious.
I have one request…When you write, please remember that there are two parties: Libertarians and Democrats. Dem's are not going to follow the religious right wing like your current President does.
Um, no. There's that accuracy thing again. There are several parties. The two primary ones, and a scattering of ones that can't get anybody elected to office.

The Dems aren't going to follow the religious right? That's fine with me. I'm not all that happy with the "religious right wing" myself, being an atheist. I am, however, less enthusiastic about the Socialist mandate of the Democratic party than I am concerned about the Religious Right.
He is a dangerous man with a dangerous religious right agenda.
You just echoed my favorite Bush criticism. It's a quote I found in a Sacramento Bee piece from May of 2003:
"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."
You're apparently in fine company.

Bush is a man with principles based in his interpretation of the Christian religion. Which is, I am convinced, better in a President than having no moral center. We must, I think, agree to disagree here. It is the job of Congress to restrain him if he attempts to push a "Religious Right Agenda." Bush runs the Executive Branch. Legislation is the duty of the Legislative Branch.
He needs to be removed from office.
Not if the alternatives are John Kerry, Ralph Nader, and Michael Badnarik. We happen to be in the middle of a war that wasn't started by us, and Bush is the only one of that group I trust to prosecute it. There is much I dislike about Bush, but his actions in this war do not rank among them.
He dodged Vietnam by going to the National Guard. I don’t know how old you are, but back then, that was about as courageous as going to Canada.
Or dodging service as Clinton did? And consistency once again raises its ugly head. I don't blame him for that, and thousands of others didn't either. As I recall, bringing up Clinton's avoidance of the draft during the 1992 election was pooh-pooh'ed because avoiding the draft was considered an HONORABLE thing to do, since everybody on the Left KNEW the war in Vietnam was illegitimate and illegal and horrible. I'd think you'd be PROUD that Bush avoided dropping napalm and killing babies.

You see, one of the problems I have with the Left is their absolute inability to be consistent on anything. It's that lack of a moral center thing, I think.
At least John Kerry signed up to go to Vietnam, and that is more courageous than anything Junior Bush has ever done in his life (for maybe the exception of giving up cocaine and alcohol).
Yes, he signed up, got out of combat just as quickly as he could manage, came back here and (while still an officer in the Naval Reserves) testified that horrible things were going on in Vietnam on a regular basis with the full knowledge of the upper echelons of the military, giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Mr. Kerry stated in the 1971 "Winter Soldier" testimony that Vietnam represented no threat to the U.S., then he stands before the American people and states that as a young man he fought in Vietnam and "defended America." Well, which is it? He testified in the Senate that he was in Cambodia on Christmas of 1968 - a memory SEARED into him - that never happened. Don't tell me how courageous Kerry is. Flying a single-engined jet interceptor isn't exactly a Sunday drive even on "routine" missions. So? Kerry got shot at. Tens of thousands of Americans got shot at in Vietnam. That doesn't qualify them to be President. And if Clinton avoiding the draft wasn't reason to reject him outright for the office, then Bush serving in the National Guard shouldn't be either.

Again - try logical consistency. It might give you some insight into conservatism.
The great John McCain has stood up for John Kerry and said he is a friend and he has confidence he can handle terrorism and the security of our country.
Ah yes, John McCain. The Republican the Democrats wanted as Vice President. As FIRST CHOICE. Lacking a little depth in candidates?

The "great John McCain" is responsible for the first really egregious Federal violation of the First Amendment (along with Feingold) in the Campaign Finance Reform Act. I'm pissed at Bush for signing it, and appalled that the Supreme Court didn't throw it out on it's ear. Apparently neither the Congress, nor President Bush, nor SCOTUS can interpret "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech..."
I believe Mr. McCain because he is not caught up in the religious right.
No, you believe McCain because his position agrees with yours. It's an emotional response.

I want to see him out of office. He's done enough damage.
I will do everything in my power to remove Junior Bush and his radical right wing agenda out of office.
As long as you act within the law, more power to you. I will do what I can to see him re-elected.
Just yesterday a stem cell research facility was bombed (more wacky right wing nut-balls).
Tell me, are they in any way associated with the Leftist nutballs that trash medical research centers that use animals for testing? (Even stem-cell research?) Or the ones who burn down SUV dealerships and high-end houses that are under construction? It seems that nut-balls are to be found on both sides, eh?
Tell me, why is it okay to use stem cells for in-vitro practices, but not to help people with child-hood diabetes?
You're shooting at the wrong target here PJ. I'm all for stem-cell research. I think Bush is wrong on this one. But I hold that the problem of radical Islamic nutballs who want to see us ALL dead is the bigger problem here. I'll deal with the stem-cell problem through my congresscritters. They're the ones who write the laws.
The stem cells are discarded after the in-vitro process….what’s the difference between in-vitro and stem cell research other than it’s their agenda to produce more children in this world…I would think for an engineer you would be more intelligent than what I am reading on your site.
I'd think you'd do more reading before leaping to conclusions.
Your views are simply more “brain-washed”, hateful etchings of what Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity spew each day.
As opposed to the reasonable, dulcet voices of Michael Moore, Janeane Garofolo, Al Franken, et al?
These men are sad, pathetic, dangerous men.
Because they say things you don't want people to hear? And I thought the Left was all for Freedom of Speech! Except, of course, when that speech shows the Left up as hypocritical in the extreme. Here's another example of the party that believes in Democracy not trusting the American public's own bullshit detectors. No, according to the Left, Americans are too stupid to be trusted to vote correctly because Limbaugh and Hannity are able to brainwash them, but the Left is unable to do the same. So, again, which is it? Are we to be trusted to make our own decisions, or is the enlightened intelligentsia of the Left to make our decisions for us because we're just too stupid to do so? A stupidity exemplified by the fact that half the nation was willing to vote for Bush over his obvious intellectual superior, Al Gore?

Sorry, PJ. The "sad, pathetic, dangerous men" are the ones who don't trust the People. Check a mirror.
You sound like a decent guy, but the more I read, the more you frighten me.
Good. I'm glad.
I would not want to go shooting with you in fear that you might shoot me in the back.
That's the difference between us, PJ. I'm apparently something you have no experience with. I am a man of honor and principle. It's the Left that has a long history of shooting people such as me in the back of the head as a means of "re-education." I assure you, if I ever found it necessary to shoot you, you'd be facing me, and you'd be armed.

UPDATE 8/30: I received a reply from PJ: "Why am I not surprised?" Hmm... Lack of imagination?

Friday, August 27, 2004

Late Again

But at least I found it. (Via Knowledge is Power)

Relatively new blogger Varifrank has a damned fine analysis of The Grand Unified Theory Of Vietnam. There's just far too much to excerpt from, but to give you an idea, I saved it to my "Essential Library" file. It's that good. But, in the interest of making sure everyone reads this piece - and I mean EVERYONE, here's a taste:
And then, something happened that no one foresaw.

An outside force, for the first time since December 7th 1941, had attacked and killed Americans at home. Only this time, it wasn't at an obscure military base in the Pacific, but was in Manhattan, Liberal, Libertine, New Yorker Magazine-- If you lived here, you'd be home by now-- Manhattan.

For the first time, the generation which had rejected war as a tool of the oppressor, used largely by American business as a club to subjugate poor countries, was itself faced with an enemy that did not differentiate between the military and civilian, between Marines and little girls on their way to Disneyland and worse, between the real enemy and the enlightened masses of Manhattan. This generation was faced by an enemy that wanted to kill us all, left and right, progressives, liberals, men, women; it made no difference to them. The only choice the Jihadi's gave us was submission to Islam, or death. This generation had never concided this dogma in their "Grand Unified Theory Of Vietnam." Kill us? Why? We didn't vote for George W. Bush! The Terrorists should have attacked Texas!

The Jihadi's act of violence and insanity shook the world, but no group in it more so than the generation who’s "moral order" was established in Vietnam. "Why do they hate us?" They asked. "It must be our policies." They said, "See! This is a reaction to globalization. This war thing makes no sense, Europeans live with terror, so why can't we? Why - it’s just a pretense for the consolidation of power, THAT'S IT!.....
By George, I think he nailed it.

Please, please, PLEASE read the whole thing. And pass it around to your internet-challenged friends.
The Third SwiftVets.com Ad is Up

Here. (Windows Media file.)

How are Kerry and the media going to smear Steve Gardner?

Ignoring him is apparently out of the question.
"Ghost Voting" and Pressing the RESET Button

There has been some discussion over at AR15.com over the California Assembly's passage of AB50 - a bill prohibiting the sale of rifles chambered for the .50BMG round, and requiring registration of currently owned rifles. (Or does it? The bill text I have referenced says "bans the sale of" but this Tri-Valley Herald piece quotes Sandra DeBourelando, principal assistant to the bill's sponsor Paul Koretz saying that acquiring a .50 after Jan. 1, 2005 will require a permit and:
It won't be easy to get a permit. You would have to show a good reason why you need it.
Of course you realize that the position of the gun-grabbers is that no one needs a .50. She also says:
We're not going to confiscate guns.
The "yet" is, as always, unspoken.

It was reported by the Fifty Caliber Institute that the bill lost on the original vote by a tally of 35 yeas to 36 nays (total: 71 total votes.) Then they revoted using what is known as "ghost voting" - that is, a legislator votes using the pushbutton at his or her desk, then gets up and walks over to the desk of an absent legislator and votes again. You know, like the people who are registered to vote in both New York and Florida can. This time the vote was 45 ayes, 32 nays with four abstentions (total 77 votes, 4 abstentions). Now, granted the number of nays dropped by four, but "ghost voting"??

This spawned, as you can imagine, some outrage over at AR15.com, and this question came up: At what point do we fight?
First let me be clear.

It is not my intention to incite, propose a Turner Diaries solution or promote any violent activity on the part of anyone else.

But THIS generation has witnessed the 89 Import Ban, the 94 Crime Bill (including the various State versions which DO NOT sunset) and is now looking down the barrel of a Cali .50 Ban which could spread like a cancer to even the Federal level.

Some have witnessed the 86 MG ban and the initial restrictions of the 1968 GCA which gave us the unconsitutional "Sporter" clause.

So when do we stop permitting Representatives who don't represent us and pass laws contrary to the Constitution?

Where do we draw the line in the sand? And when do we finally throw the tea in the harbor? If at all?

What are possible alternatives? Is there a way to turn it back?

Can residents of other states do anything besides just blame Cali residents?

And can anyone HONESTLY expect anyone with a family, good job, comfortable home and life to risk and sacrifice it all?

I don't have the answers...
It is reminiscent of the the Pressing the "RESET" Button essay in this response:
I've already started.
There are plenty of laws I don't obey. If I get caught for the smaller ones I'll just suck up alittle slap on the wrist. If I ever get nailed for something big? I pity the person who puts his job in front of the U.S. Constitution. Will I win...no...but I damn sure will take some with me.

I know I know...the supreme court tells me what the constitution means...but ya know. I have a pretty good measure of common sense and I CAN read.
And this one:
(H)earing about "ghost" votes in CA is pushing me a lot closer. That is clear evidence of a tyrranical government.

I have the feeling I'll be leaving this world the same way I entered it: kicking, screaming, and covered in someone elses blood.
There does appear to be a growing sense that Claire Wolfe's idea of "shooting the bastards" is becoming the only option.

At this time the discussion covers five pages of posts. Were I a legislator, I'd be paying attention to the grumblings of the populace.
Where are the Moderate Muslims?

Well, some of them are right here at Muslims for Bush (via One Hand Clapping). There's an interview with the founder on this page with some interesting comments, such as:
(W)e truly believe that President Bush is good for Muslims. We feel like he is getting a bad rap. A lot of Muslims are going against him not for the right reasons. If there is someone who is very wrong for the job, it is John Kerry. Bush is the right guy for Muslims.

--

(Kerry) is bad at a lot of levels. The first reason is that he was responsible for writing many parts of the Patriot Act. The second reason is that Kerry has said that he wants to denuclearize Pakistan. Pakistan has been America's greatest ally in the war on terror. If John Kerry is going to ruin that, it will hurt Pakistan and the war on terror.
And this piece is outstanding, a Q&A for the American Muslim considering who to vote for. Question #14 is my personal favorite, but check #1:
Question #1 – Did President Bush go to Iraq for oil?

Answer #1 – Anyone who thinks that President Bush went to Iraq for cheap oil, has obviously lost the power of reasoning. If President Bush wanted cheap oil, he would have done a deal directly with Saddam. In that way, Saddam would have given an arm and a leg to be in the good graces of the United States. He likely would have given the oil for free, in order to maintain his position as the legitimate ruler of Iraq, much as he did through the corrupt ‘Oil for Food Program’ that the United Nations and France heavily benefited from. Cheap oil was never the agenda.
Apparently some Muslims have recognized that the Left has "lost the power of reasoning." Not that it's a difficult conclusion to reach.

Interesting stuff, and another reason an atheist like me reads the Rev. Sensing.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Payback's a Bitch, Ain't It?

As the Left is beginning to discover. Chris Muir nails another one in Day by Day.

Conservatives claim their views curbed on campuses

Students for Academic Freedom

Mallard Fillmore has something on the topic as well:

Political Correctness? Take THAT!

"Tolerance" works BOTH WAYS.
An Example of the Skillful Use of the Broadsword

Banagor of Shining Full Plate and a Good Broadsword reviews an excellent comment left on an anti-Nader site, and delivers an "Off-at-the-knees!" stroke of his own.

Teaser:
Democrats don’t get it. They don’t understand that some people won’t do something no matter how long or hard you talk.

That is why I have to laugh at their efforts and their sites. They are idiotic in their attempts to try to change the inevitable. They simply can’t do it, just like they can’t convince Sudan to stop killing thousands of people just by flinging potentially harsh words at them, or try to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb with finger-wagging.

Some people just won’t listen.

So what do they do? They attack other people’s freedom of speech and Constitutional rights. They can’t attack Nader on the issues because they have none, so they attack his right to run for President. They can’t attack the Swift Boat Vets on their testimonies, so they attack them on their right to speak out during an election. They can’t attack Bush on the current issues of the war because they have no solutions, so they attack him with Kerry’s thirty year old record of Vietnam.

This isn’t a party of issues any longer, but a party of idiots.
THAT'S gonna leave a mark!
Amen, Claire, Amen.

Claire, "La Profesora of Moonbatology" and contributor to SondraK.com, has an excellent post up. You need to read the links, too. Here's a teaser, and something I agree with wholly:
We lost that war in Viet Nam and the Vietnamese people paid. Dearly. We cannot afford to lose this war through the same mistake of refusing to believe in ourselves and each other. This time, not only will we pay dearly, but the people of many other nations will pay, in turn.

We need to reacquaint ourselves with what is good and right and pure and unique about The Great Experiment that is America. We need to return to the roots of belief in the basic goodness of Man from which our approach to governance sprang. We need to give ourselves permission to be proud of all that we have accomplished in our mere 228 years and believe that we, indeed, still have the Right Stuff to continue to do credit to our forefathers, and to ourselves. We need to give ourselves permission to protect ourselves because what we have created and what we have done is worth protecting. And what we will do will be principled, and decent and right.
Go read it all. Spread it around.
Damn, I Really Want One of These

Midway USA has the Alexander Arms 6.5 Grendel AR-15 upper. I want! I want! Check the ballistics chart. I already have a lower with a target trigger.

I'd also need this, and a couple of these, and four or five of these, and a few boxes of these, too.

Oh, and one of these.

I need to win the lottery.

(Or I could divorce my wife and marry an heiress, I suppose.)
Boy, Does Kerry Do Nuance or WHAT?

Ravenwood has found possibly the seminal example of John F'n Kerry's incredible skill at nuance yet, via the New York Times no less!
The truth, which is what elections are all about, is that the tax burden of the middle class has gone up while the tax burden of the middle class has gone down
I'm in awe.

And it's TRUE! I saw the CBO report that said that the percentage of the total tax burden has gone up for the middle class after the tax cut that let the middle class keep more of their own money! See! See!
Recommended Read

(Hat tip, Kim du Toit)

Charles Krauthammer (a conservative who happens to think that civilian disarmament is a remarkably good idea - boo, hiss) has written an excellent essay entitled Democratic Realism. Highly recommended. As Kim noted, this is not a piece you can easily excerpt from, but here's a taste:
We like our McDonald's. We like our football. We like our rock-and-roll. We’ve got the Grand Canyon and Graceland. We’ve got Silicon Valley and South Beach. We’ve got everything. And if that’s not enough, we’ve got Vegas--which is a facsimile of everything. What could we possibly need anywhere else? We don’t like exotic climates. We don’t like exotic languages--lots of declensions and moods. We don’t even know what a mood is. We like Iowa corn and New York hot dogs, and if we want Chinese or Indian or Italian, we go to the food court. We don’t send the Marines for takeout.

That’s because we are not an imperial power. We are a commercial republic. We don’t take food; we trade for it. Which makes us something unique in history, an anomaly, a hybrid: a commercial republic with overwhelming global power. A commercial republic that, by pure accident of history, has been designated custodian of the international system. The eyes of every supplicant from East Timor to Afghanistan, from Iraq to Liberia; Arab and Israeli, Irish and British, North and South Korean are upon us.

That is who we are. That is where we are.

Now the question is: What do we do? What is a unipolar power to do?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Ooooh! Ouch!

The site SaintKansas.com has the best Ted Rall slam piece I've ever seen:

There's quite a bit of other entertaining stuff there as well.

(Hat tip, Clayton Cramer's blog.)
Actual REPORTING!

The Washington Times has an Assault Weapons Ban article that is ACTUAL REPORTING, in the unbiased "Just the facts, ma'am" style that the media swears is all they do. Connect that to the AWB primer I linked to a couple of days ago, and you have a very powerful education tool for the uninformed.

I think Jerry Seper of the WT will probably be fired for not following the AP Stylesheet when writing a firearm-related article. It wasn't misleading or frightening enough.

Monday, August 23, 2004

OK, ONE more: Sometimes I Fear for Our Future

Checking my tracking I found a link from a blog I'd never seen before, so I clicked the link. It must have been someone using Blogger's new header-bar with the "next blog" link, because there's no way this blogger actually linked to me.

All I have to say is: "WTF, over?"
One More: HMO (black) Humor

My dad sent me this one:

Q. What does HMO stand for?
A. This is actually a variation of the phrase, "HEY MOE". Its roots go back to a concept pioneered by Moe of the Three Stooges, who discovered that a patient could be made to forget about the pain in his foot if he was poked hard enough in the eyes.

Q. I just joined an HMO. How difficult will it be to choose the doctor I want?
A. Just slightly more difficult than choosing your parents. Your insurer will provide you with a book listing all the doctors in the plan. These doctors fall into two categories - those who are no longer accepting new patients, and those who will see you, but are no longer participating in the plan. But don't worry, the remaining doctor who is still in the plan and accepting new patients has an office just a half-day's drive away, and a diploma from a Third World country.

Q. Do all diagnostic procedures require pre-certification?
A. No. Only those you need.

Q. Can I get coverage for my pre-existing conditions?
A. Certainly, as long as they don't require any treatment.

Q. What happens if I want to try alternative forms of medicine?
A. You'll need to find alternative forms of payment.

Q. My pharmacy plan only covers generic drugs, but I need the name brand. I tried the generic medication, but it gave me a stomach ache. What should I do?
A. Poke yourself in the eye.

Q. What if I'm away from home and I get sick?
A. You really shouldn't do that.

Q. I think I need to see a specialist, but my doctor insists he can handle my problem. Can a general practitioner really perform a heart transplant right in his office?
A. Hard to say, but considering that all you're risking is the $25 co-payment, there's no harm in giving him a shot at it.

Q. Will health care be different in the next decade?
A. No. But if you call right now, you might get an appointment by then.
Been to Flashbunny.org Recently?

Flashbunny.org is a site run by an AR15.com contributor. Wickedly funny and very effective flashmedia movies and photoshopped posters dealing with gun control and politics. (This one's probably his most famous.) Well, Bastiat may not be running a 527, but he wants to ramp up in the period just before the election - and screw McCain-Feingold. However, he needs some help:
This is the part of the site where I become like a PBS fundraiser - asking for donations for the site. Why? Because doing what need to be done costs money - something I don't have enough of right now to do this right.

That's right, I need money. To take this site to the next level for the presidential election and the fight against liberalism, it needs to be more than funny pictures and informative flash movies. It needs professional level videos and multimedia to be ready for the onslaught by the left this election year. And all that costs money for hardware and software to get it done right.
How much? The shopping list tops out at $5,000.


Some previous purchases have already been made thanks to your help and me working a second job. But because the election season is so close, it needs to get done faster. The Democratic national convention ends July 29th. Their campaign officially starts then, but will be underway long before that. My goal is to have everything needed in place by June 30th so I can get up to speed and hit the ground running. That's a little over 4 months from my writing this. $1,250 a month can be done, based on the number of visitors and fans of this site. Just consider this:

If 1,000 people gave just $5.00, we'd be there.

If 500 people gave $10.00, we'd be there.If 250 people people ponied up $20.00, we'd be there.

And if just 50 people were extremely generous and gave $100 each, it would be a cakewalk.

So there you have it. $5,000 in a little over four months. Can it be done? Yes. Will it be done? That's up to you.

And what will you get from it? Plenty of videos and other features that you'll be able to send to friends and foes alike. Things you wish other people would do but don't because they don't have the guts to say them. With your help those things can be said for the world to hear.

"The preservation of a viable constitutional government is not a task for wimps." - Judge Janice Rogers Brown

If you're up to the challenge and want to help out, you can make a donation the following way:

By Mail:

APSGPO Box 415Elm Grove, WI 53122

Just put 'donation' on the memo portion of your check so it will be earmarked as such.

Via Paypal:

donations@flashbunny.org

And no, donations are not tax deductible.

"...I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." - Thomas Jefferson
I know I'm late, but I hadn't seen this before. Help him out if you can. As he says, give till it hurts - a liberal.
You Have to Ask Yourself: Why is this NATIONAL NEWS??

At the gym this evening I was watching CNN (not my choice, that's what was on the TV) while pedaling away, and one of the stories was about how a Florida father managed to shoot his 31 year-old daughter with a .357, mistaking her for a burglar. It's not on CNN's web page, but they had it also on the newscrawl on the bottom of the screen. The story is available on the web here:
Startled father accidentally shoots adult daughter

Pasco County, Florida - With her two children and her things piled high in her mini-van, Teri Lee Moody went to stay at her parents’ home on Hays Road near State Road 52 and the Suncoast Parkway.

But it was 5:10 in the morning, and they didn't know she was coming. Her mom heard a noise coming from the front door.

PASCO CO. SHERIFF’S SPOKESMAN DOUG TOBIN: “Her mother woke up, notified the father, the father got his 357 Magnum went to the front door, and apparently either got startled or somehow the gun accidentally went off and that’s when the shooting took place.”

Moody's children, ages 4 and 10 are staying with relatives. She's listed in fair condition at Bayfront Medical Center after being shot in the abdomen.

So what should you do if you hear a noise in the middle of the night? Pasco County Sheriff’s deputies say call 9-1-1 and stay put. They say you should not investigate the noise, or try to confront someone. (My emphasis.)

DOUG TOBIN: “5:10 in the morning something happens, everyone has a right to protect their person and their property and apparently that’s what this person was trying to do. But you also have a responsibility to make sure the gun doesn’t accidentally go off shooting one of your loved ones.”

Neighbors told us off camera, Moody's father, George Ingram, 54, is a nice, relaxed person, who tows stranded boaters for a living. Deputies say there are no charges pending against him.
(Yes, everyone has a right to protect their person and property - but don't actually try to. The State doesn't think anyone but they are qualified because a few individuals actually aren't.)

But that's NATIONAL NEWS!

Yet stories like this one NEVER air on CNN or CBS or NBC or ABC or even FOX:
Officials: No charges in Sunday shooting

Colorado’s Make My Day Law will likely keep an Aurora man from facing charges after he shot a gun-toting intruder in the face Sunday morning, police said.Police said the a 19-year-old man and another 20-year-old man were surprised about 10:30 a.m. Aug. 8 when two armed men barged into the house at 805 Oakland St. One of residents got a gun and a gunfight erupted inside the house. At one point, one of the intruders was shot in the face, and the two intruders fled.

The injured man later turned up at an area hospital for treatment and was arrested. He was later identified as 21-year-old Johnathon Vann. Police said neither Aurora man were injured. The other suspect was not identified and remains at large.

Charges are not expected to be filed against the resident of the house because he is protected under Colorado’s Make My Day Law, police said. The Make My Day Law allows residents to use “justifiable use of force” against intruders into their homes as long as residents have reason to believe that an intruder may commit a crime other than the illegal entry and have a legitimate belief that the intruder will physically harm them.

Police did not release details of the crime, and investigators did not say if the residents know the intruders.
(Gotta get a shot in at that irresponsible "Make My Day" law!)

Or this one:
Pistol-packer scares thieves

Tuesday, August 17, 2004 9:27 AM CDT
By
LORI DUNN Texarkana Gazette

One of four burglars pointed a pistol at a Bowie County homeowner but then fled when the homeowner shot at him.

Investigators with the Bowie County Sheriff's Department are looking for the four men, who fled in a dark-colored four-door Ford Escort.

Investigators are not certain if the one thief was injured.

"He (the homeowner) is not sure if he hit him or not," said Bowie County Sheriff James Prince.

The incident occurred about 3 p.m. Monday on County Road 1303 off U.S. Highway 67.

"The resident had left the house for about 10 to 15 minutes and when he returned, he found four men in the process of breaking into his home," Prince said.

The burglars had taken guns and a DVD player, Prince said.

As the homeowner pulled into the yard, one of the suspects pulled a pistol on him, Prince said.
However, the homeowner had a pistol in his truck and used it to shoot at the suspect, Prince said.


Prince said the homeowner had every right to protect his home and property.

"Especially if he (a burglar) is pointing a gun at you," he said.
Or even this:
Senior citizen foils two burglary attempts

70-year-old man wrestles down one suspect, shoots at others

By LISA ROBERSON
Gazette Staff Writer

The message was clear, and it was delivered by a feisty 70-year-old man twice in one night last week.

That message -- I refused to be victimized. (Damned straight - ed.)

Robert Gillum thwarted a pair of burglary attempts Wednesday in his Douglas Avenue home, sending the would-be thieves scurrying away without any money.

According to a police report, the elderly man was alone inside his home watching television when, around 10:15 p.m., an unknown man came into his house demanding money. Gillum told officers the man, whom he could identify only as being 5 feet 6 inches tall with a medium build, raised his arm and may have had a handgun inside a sock.

Before Gillum complied with the intruder's request he lunged at the thief and the two began to wrestle. Gillum was struck once in the mouth with the intruder's weapon. After the struggle, the man ran from Gillum's home while Gillum called police.

"I know he had a gun, but I guess I'm a little crazy," he said. "I don't know why I did it. I just didn't feel like being screwed around."

The incident was shocking to Gillum, but before he was able to fully gain his composure, he was faced with another would-be robber.

And just like the first time, the elderly man wouldn't go down without a fight.

The second attempted robbery took place about 90 minutes later, and this time the attacker knocked Gillum to the floor, took his wallet and fled the scene. Gillum got to his feet, grabbed a .410-caliber Derringer from his living room and fired two shots at the suspect's vehicle as it sped away.

"He got away because I couldn't catch him," the elderly victim said.

Even after two attempts, the robbers may have actually left empty handed because after the first attack, Gillum switched wallets.

The latter suspect reportedly fled in a late-model, tan-colored Toyota or Honda with a black female in her late teens or early 20s inside whom Gillum could identify only as "Christy".

"I got my handgun and gave him a few buckshots," he said. "That man was lucky I didn't have it in my pocket. I would have killed him. No doubt about it.

"Oh, well, you can't win 'em all."
You'd think that last one would be national news material: A 70 year-old man? Two attempts in one night? That's not man-bites-dog enough?

I mean, jeeze, you'd think the media has an anti-gun agenda or something.
An Excellent Post

Fellow Arizona blogger Jackalope Pursuivant commented on my post about the six people beaten and stabbed to death in Florida last month. My point was that a "gun control" strategy aimed at disarming citizens was obviously wrong - obvious to the point of suspicion. Dan commented that he had answered my somewhat rhetorical question in an earlier post of his own, and he was right. It's a damned good post - read all the links - and the quotation he cites is most appropriate:
If you once agree that despotism is a convenient tool for arresting the rise in heinous crimes, you give the government an interest in heinous crimes increasing. It will be careless in its surveillance in order to force you to give it unlimited powers. - Benjamin Constant, Principles of Politics Applicable to All Governments

The More of These, The Better

Jed S. Baer has his own weekly compendium (this is issue #2) of gun-related items he calls The Weekly Fusillade. Submit your entry for next week's edition.

Perhaps I'll enter Those Without Swords Can Still Die Upon Them.
21 Days Left - So What Did the AWB ACTUALLY DO?

Here's an excellent primer - and a test of your understanding - on the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994: The AWB Primer

Be sure to take the test at the bottom of the page that opens. Spread this one around to the people who think the law actually accomplished anything.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Those Without Swords Can Still Die Upon Them

Or: Why I Am a 'Gun Nut'

First, let me say that despite the source of the quote that names this blog, I am not an Objectivist. While I respect much of what Rand had to say, I hold that she, like all idealists, ignored the influence of reality on her model of ideal human behavior - even though it was obvious from the example of her own life that even she could not live up to her ideals. Nevertheless, Rand propounded many important concepts, such as these:
A 'right' is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all others are its consequences or corollaries): a man's right to his own life.

--

The concept of individual rights is so new in human history that most men have not grasped it fully to this day.

--

It was the concept of individual rights that had given birth to a free society. It was with the destruction of individual rights that the destruction of freedom had to begin.
I concur with much of the above, but the last line I've got some issues with.

I've written before, and extensively recently, on the concept of "rights" and what they, in practice, are. My position is that a right is what a society believes it to be, where a "society" is defined as a group of people living in a the same geographic region who share a set of beliefs. Rand proclaims that the one fundamental right is "a man's right to his own life," yet that right has been unrecognized throughout most of human history. Those with power had all the rights, and power was defined as physical might. Rand's ideal of "a right to his own life" is meaningless when those who wield power don't recognize that right, and the individual himself cannot defend it against infringement. An excellent example of this is the medieval idea of droit du seigneur - the supposed right of a feudal lord to have sex with any vassal's bride on her wedding night. But bear in mind: The guy with the sword (or the most sword arms behind him) pretty much has the "right" to have sexual relations with anyone who cannot defend themselves, or is not ably defended by others. Droit du seigneur may have been more myth than fact, but rape and pillage by rampaging barbarians, and later, invading soldiers certainly was factual, and with a far longer history.

Steven Den Beste once wrote his list of the four most important inventions in human history:
In my opinion, the four most important inventions in human history are spoken language, writing, movable type printing and digital electronic information processing (computers and networks). Each represented a massive improvement in our ability to distribute information and to preserve it for later use, and this is the foundation of all other human knowledge activities. There are many other inventions which can be cited as being important (agriculture, boats, metal, money, ceramic pottery, postmodernist literary theory) but those have less pervasive overall affects.
I think Steven is right in his emphasis on what are all communications technologies as being most important, because it is through the exchange of ideas that societies form. Like-minded people organize, others learn from an exchange of information and are able to associate with those with whom they agree. The development of communications technologies allows people from larger and larger geographic areas to associate with others of similar mind - from tribe, to village, to city, to state, to world.

The invention of the Gutenberg printing press in the mid 15th Century is responsible for the exchange of more ideas than probably any other in history until the advent of the Internet. For example, the spread of the knowledge and philosophy of the ancient Greeks can be traced to Italian printers who, needing something to sell, printed the works of the Greek philosophers - in Greek, and later in translation - for public consumption. And consume them they did.

But what does any of this have to do with weapons? (Other than their being used to subjugate others?)

I believe that there are three things crucial to the rise of individual freedom: The ability to reason, the free exchange of ideas, and the ability to defend one's person and property. The ability to reason and the free exchange of ideas will lead to the concept of individual liberty, but it requires the individual ability to defend one's person and property to protect that liberty. The ability to reason exists, to some extent, in all people. (The severely mentally retarded and those who have suffered significant permanent brain injury are not, and in truth can never be truly "free" as they will be significantly dependent on others for their care and protection.) The free exchange of ideas is greatly dependent on the technologies of communication. The ability to defend your person and property - the ability to defend your right to your own life - is dependent on the technologies of individual force.

Let us consider for a moment the history of the technologies of individual force. At base, there is simple muscle and fist, and one step above it, the ability to use a club or throw a rock. In this case the strongest and most physically adept get to make and enforce the rules. Generally of this group the smartest strong-man rises to the top, and with the aid of other willing strong-men they cow and control the output of weaker people by recruiting the strongest and killing those who will not yeild. The invention of early weapons such as the sword merely increased the separation of the enforcers from the enforced, as competence with weapons of this type requires extensive training. Give a strong novice a sword and face him against a physically weaker but experienced swordsman, and the novice will shortly be looking at his internal organs spilling from his abdomen. Peasants with pitchforks and scythes are no match against trained soldiers with swords, as history has illustrated repeatedly. Consequently the peasants supplied the labor to support the soldiers who spend their time practicing the skills needed to control the peasants. It's a self-sustaining cycle, or it was for centuries.

And then, too, there is war - when groups of these elites fight each other over territory, or resources, or religion, or whatever other reason occurrs to them. In every war, it is the common people who suffer the most, as they are taxed to support the war effort, their property and crops are stolen or destroyed, starvation and pestilence ravage the land, and they and their families are raped and murdered by the invaders or the defenders or both. Again, history has illustrated this too - repeatedly, for centuries, even up to today.

The history of civilization stuck to this model for literally thousands of years until there was one significant change in the technology of individual force - the English longbow - and the strategy of its proper use (and believe me, strategic thought is every bit as much of a technology as the yew bow.) From The Medieval English Longbow:
From the thirteenth until the sixteenth century, the national weapon of the English army was the longbow. It was this weapon which conquered Wales and Scotland, gave the English their victories in the Hundred Years War, and permitted England to replace France as the foremost military power in Medieval Europe. The longbow was the machine gun of the Middle Ages: accurate, deadly, possessed of a long-range and rapid rate of fire, the flight of its missilies was liken to a storm. Cheap and simple enough for the yeoman to own and master, it made him superior to a knight on the field of battle.
Note that last line - "Cheap and simple enough for the yeoman to own and master, it made him superior to a knight on the field of battle."

Here's the Webster's definition for "yeoman" as it relates to that sentence:
(O)ne belonging to a class of English freeholders below the gentry
Below the gentry - the aristocracy, or ruling class. The guys with the swords.

For the first time a simple peasant could be superior to a man trained at arms, armored and astride a horse. To be sure the longbow required a great deal of training and strength itself, and a single archer was no match for an army of knights, but a single archer could best several knights by the virtue of his ability to strike from a distance. However, the critical factor in the technology of the longbow was the need for massed, skilled firepower. Training began as early as seven years of age, and the law of England made it mandatory for all men and boys to train with - and own - the longbow. There were periodic competitions, and only the best were taken to war. Note, however, the striking difference between the top-down rule of the nobility - the knights who were armored and armed with sword, lance, and other contact-distance weapons - and the archers who were otherwise mere peons. But skilled peons, and peons skilled at killing knights. This fact meant that there was to be a significant shift in philosophy, due to man's ability to reason, and the free exchange of ideas.

What did it mean to the peasantry when they provided the striking power of the army? No longer relegated to the pike, where the armored knight was king of the battlefield. When they held in their hands the means with which to kill the ruling class? (The ruling class of the other side, to be sure, but a man in armor is a man in armor....) And what did it mean to the ruling class? What did they discuss in their camps at night after a battle?

It meant that there was a shift in power beginning in England. The peasants could no longer be simply viewed as a resource and otherwise ignored, and they knew it.

In 1215 King John was forced by his Norman barons to sign the Magna Carta - this was before the acceptance of the longbow as a military weapon there, but important in its own right, laying down as a legal reality that the King was subject to the law, not superior to it. More importantly, the text of the Magna Carta was printed, distributed, and read aloud throughout England so that all English subjects could hear it. The information technology of the day was used to spread information so that those who could reason would think on it. And think they did.

In 1415 at Agincourt a small, weary, disease-ridden English army consisting of 5,000 archers and 900 men-at-arms - many of whom were suffering from dysentery - faced a French army of over 20,000 - about 10% heavy cavalry. A lot of strategic and tactical factors were involved in the English victory, but the fact remains that 5,000 longbowmen - commoners - decimated the flower of French chivalry that day. This lesson was not lost on the English people.

In 1642, after King Charles I proved himself to be a total disaster, the English people supported a revolt against him, and the English Civil War resulted in the execution of Charles - a rather shocking act to the nobility around the rest of the world. More to the point, a man barely more than a commoner himself rose to power through merit rather than heredity. Things were changing.

The English longbow had a significant political impact on both the nobility and the peasantry, increasing the power of the latter at the expense of the former. I believe that the longbow and the tactics of its use are responsible for the beginnings of the Western philosophy of Rand's one, fundamental right - the right to one's own life. But the longbow was not to last. It was superceded by the application of gunpowder to war, a technology that I believe was responsible for the true rise of a philosophy of individual rights.

For longbows to be effective in battle a massed concentration of bowmen was necessary, and those bowmen had to train from childhood. The advent of effective mobile artillery spelled the end of the longbowman, as cannon could decimate any formation of archers from extended range, and it could do the same to armored knights. The invention of the harquebus also spelled the end of the archer, for while the archer was able to kill or wound accurately out to over 200 yards, the arquebusier didn't require years of training - any poor peon could be conscripted and taught to fire an arquebus in a few days, and then kill nobles and skilled mercenaries with it. The matchlock firearm was introduced early in the 15th Century and didn't supplant the archer until the mid to late part of the century, but the firearm spelled the end of the armored knight. Wearable armor capable of stopping an arrow could be made, but no functional armor could be made to stop a bullet.

During that time the power of the firearm and its (relative) ease of use was taken advantage of, as the European nations, when not fighting and killing each other, used the new technologies of transport - the compass, the sextant, good maps, the lanteen sail - to explore and exploit the rest of the world. Firearms technology slowly advanced: the wheellock, the snaphaunce, the flintlock, the rifled barrel, improvements in gunpowder and projectile production. Functional useable handguns were developed, and lighter, more accurate long guns. Each of these developments made firearms more reliable, easier to use, and subsequently of greater lethality.

Where before war had been the playground of the ruling class and trained mercenaries, more and more commoners were conscripted into militaries to feed the grinder of war, and the exploitation of the New World and the East. Over the same period - the 15th through 17th Centuries, the study of philosophy was rekindled. Ancient Greek and Roman texts were published on the new printing presses and sold and discussed throughout Europe. Schisms evolved in the Catholic Church with Luther and Calvin. Protestants and Catholics went to war. Now, instead of battling over territory and resources, vast armies battled over Christianity. Plagues spread through Europe, brought by trade and exploration and spread by populations displaced by endless war, decimating those populations, and making the labor of the survivors more valuable to the (surviving) nobility.

Note, the firearm didn't make war worse than it had been. Soldiers died on the battlefield as they always had. Death by gunshot is hardly more horrible than by sword, mace, spear or lance wound. People still died, in droves, from disease, from famine, and from being in the wrong place when the armies moved through. The difference now, largely, was that the armies were more and more made up of the people who in the not so distant past had merely been the spectators to (and victims of) the wars - conscripted and trained to operate the new technologies that could be learned in a few weeks, rather than over a lifetime.

And those who came home retained that knowledge, and spread it. The knowledge of how to be a pikeman in a pike square isn't very useful to a farmer. The knowledge of how to load and fire a musket can be.

They had fought in religious wars. They had seen the merciless death of war and of starvation and disease. They had heard the spreading humanist ideas of the Greeks and Romans, and seen corruption in their Church and in their supposed nobility, and many of them had, quite simply, had enough. The New World offered an escape, the chance to go somewhere where they could have a right to their own lives, and many took it. They took with them the means with which to defend that right: the firearm. And they had much occasion to use it. The European wars followed them. The native locals were none too happy about their arrival in many cases, either. But over time the pressures of colonization abated, and time became available to tinker with inventions and ideas and philosophy.

The printing press as of 1750 was 300 years old, and much knowledge was available to those with the time and the wealth and the inclination to seek it out. Texts such as: The Ordinance of William the Conqueror, establishing the first modern separation of Church and State; the Magna Carta noted above; the Declaration of Arbroath wherein Scotland in 1320 claimed independence from England; Machiavelli's The Prince - a cold-blooded and calculating look at how to rule effectively; the various works of Martin Luther and Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion and many more. There was time to reason, the ability to exchange ideas, and the means with which to defend ones person and property - and all of these were necessary to the rise of the power of the individual against the oppressive State. When England in fact became a force of oppression against the American colonies, this tripod became the support under which a people stood up and said "NO!" - and made it stick.

The firearm is the tool that makes any man or woman physically dangerous to the trained soldier. (Ask any Revolutionary-era Redcoat. Ask any soldier today in Iraq.) No other weapon is as effective at force-equalization. There is more than a little truth in the sales slogan, "God made man. Sam Colt made them equal." Combine that lethality with rigorous training and formidable armies can be created. Instill in those armies an aberrant philosophical grounding - a coercive religion, a need for "living space," a belief in racial superiority - and aggressive and immoral war will result. A fundamental belief in individual liberty, however, will produce government that fights only when it must, and quits when it believes itself safe. And it will produce an army that will fight with both ferocity and morality - as moral as war allows, at any rate. (Read The Jacksonian Tradition by Walter Russell Mead for more on this topic.) Further, a population that believes in individual liberty, and is armed to defend it, offers a formidable challenge to either invasion or internal usurpation.

Individual, private possession of firearms isn't the only thing that permits individual liberty, but it is one of the essential components in a society that intends to stay free. An armed, informed, reasoning people cannot be subjugated.

So what do you do if you want to fetter a free people?

1) Remove their ability to reason.

2) Constrain their ability to access and exchange information.

3) Relieve them of the means with which to defend themselves and their property.

Which of these seems easiest, and how would it be best accomplished? And best resisted?

UPDATE:  Original JSKit/Echo comment thread available here, thanks to the efforts of reader John Hardin.
Bang. On. The. Nose.

Phelps is right on the money:
I just heard John Kerry say:
But here's what you really need to know about them. They're funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Republican contributor out of Texas. They're a front for the Bush campaign. And the fact that the President won't denounce what they're up to tells you everything you need to know. He wants them to do his dirty work.
Hmm. Moveon is funded by millions of dollars from a Democrat out of Europe. They are a front for the Kerry campaign. And the fact that Kerry won't denounce what they're up to tells you everything you need to know. He wants them to do his dirty work.

I think that in Psychology that is called "projection".
Heh. Indeed.

Bravo, Phelps. Bravo.
An Unaswered (and Unanswerable?) Challenge

The Rev. Sensing has thrown down a particularly interesting gauntlet:
If you support Kerry for president, I invite you to write a guest post for this blog explaining why. Here's why it's a challenge:


To be published, you must explain why Kerry is to be preferred in terms that do not simply say he's not Bush. This is not an invitation to rage about Bush; it is an invitation to be positive about Kerry.


It will be insufficient merely to declare that Bush is wrong on Iraq, taxes, education, etc. You must explain why and how Kerry is right.


You must cite and provide links to Kerry's speeches or campaign releases to back up your claims. These cites can reach all the way back to when Kerry declared his candidacy for the 2004 race.


Citing the Dermocratic platform will be unpersuasive, since neither party pays a lot of attention to its own platform once the election is over, even if they win.


Length limit is 1,500 words. That's a long post, by the way.


I will not rebuild your html code, so when you email your entry to me, you MUST email it in plaintext format (not an html email) with html coding revealed intact. Do not email me asking how to do that. You may write the essay as a *.txt document and send it as an attachment if you wish, but I won't take responsibility if my security software alerts and sets phasers to kill.


Your subject line must read OHC KERRY CHALLENGE ENTRY. I get pretty well buried in email every day, and unless it's obvious your entry is there, I may well miss it and even delete it.


I do not have time to be your editor. If you can't spell or use good grammar and syntax, I won't help you. Your essay must be publishable in style and readability!


I am not promising to publish anyone's essay. I will publish no more than one essay. I will not fisk any essay that I do publish, I will present it unedited and unabridged with your byline. You MUST include your real name; I will delete pseudonymous essays without reading them.


I reserve the right to publish (maybe with attribution, maybe not) excerpts of any essay submitted.


No - "means no" - profanity. Using the first and last letters of a cuss word with *** in the middle counts as profanity. When quoting someone else, delete profanity used in the quote.


ABSOLUTE DEADLINE is Saturday, Aug. 28 at 7 a.m. CDT.
The original challenge was issued yesterday.

This should be interesting.