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

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Screw It, Redux.

I've had enough for awhile. I'm busy as hell, depressed as hell, and starting the process of doing some major remodeling on my home. (Eminent domain be damned.)

Alex has been unable or unwilling to carry on the gun control debate, so (hope you're reading this, Alex), I'm going to drop his permission to post here for the time being.

To put it plainly, I'm burned out on writing for the moment. I'm going to paint, do a little carpentry, and shell out a bunch of money to vendors and tradesmen for a few weeks. I'm going to load some ammo and take some trips to the range.

You might check in from time to time. Something might inspire piss me off enough to post, but I won't be posting on a daily basis, that's for certain.

Email still works. Drop me a line if you have something interesting to say. Right now, I'm going to go read a book.

Quote of the Week.

(via Instapundit)
In person Mr Bush is so far removed from the caricature of the dim, war-mongering Texas cowboy of global popular repute that it shakes one’s faith in the reliability of the modern media. - Gerard Baker, US Editor Times Online
Imagine! Question the reliability of the modern media? It's inconceivable!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Who Do I See About Investing?. And Reservations?

I heard about this on the radio this morning, a couple of people emailed me, plus a commenter mentioned it, but I think Logan Darrow Clements' idea of taking Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter's New Hampshire home through eminent domain in order to build a hotel is outstanding.

However, Randy Barnett doesn't think the idea is quite as amusing if Clements is serious:
Retaliating against a judge for the good faith exercise of his duty is not only a bad idea, it violates the holding of Kelo itself, for the intent would be to take from A to give to B, in this case to punish A.
What matters intent? How do you prove Clements isn't just trying to take advantage of an excellent finanical opportunity for both himself and the town of Weare? He states his reasoning plainly:
Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.
It's all about location, location, location! I don't know about you, but I think any reasonably decent skillful lawyer could successfully argue that, while the hotel could be built on the property of any of the five justices in the majority in Kelo, selecting Souter's home isn't punitive - after all, Souter would receive "just compensation" like any average American in a similar situation. And future "Lost Liberty Hotel" franchises could be opened on the (former) homesites of the other four Justices, plus the homesites of mayors and city-council members who vote in favor of such eminent domain seizures!

Well, maybe "Lost Liberty" convenience stores.

UPDATE, 6/30: Eugene Volokh sees it the same way I do:
Developers' intentions are often not public-regarding; even if they aren't political retaliation, they're often simply private gain, which is perfectly fine. If the developer here persuaded the city that the taking would indeed be economically beneficial ("Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land"), and the city was genuinely motivated by this public benefit, the developer's motives would, I think, be irrelevant.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Chris Muir on Kelo:.

Photobucket's down!

It would be funnier if it wasn't so true.

I'm sure Damon got "just compensation" for his beach house, though.

A Thousand Times, NO!.

More Supreme Courtage, lost in the news of today's Ten Comandment and Grokster decisions. Thanks to Mike of Feces Flinging Monkey for the heads-up.

Today the Court decided Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales just as I said it would back in November: The government is NOT responsible for your protection.

The background info, from the earlier piece:
(O)ne Jessica Gonzales has sued the town of Castle Rock for failing to enforce a protective order against her estranged husband, who abducted their three children, murdered them, and then committed suicide by cop. Ms. Gonzales sued because, she says, her husband violated the restraining order by abducting the children, and the City of Castle Rock police department made no effort to recover her children after she repeatedly asked them to enforce the restraining order. She sued under a due-process argument, claiming that the failure of the police to act violated her rights. Essentially, she argued that by obtaining the restraining order she had a "special relationship" that meant that either: A) the police were obligated to enforce the order; or B) the police were obligated to tell her that they would not.
I've written several posts on the failure of restraining orders to restrain anybody not willing to be restrained. Zendo Deb of TFS Magnum has made restraining order failures one of her specialties. The court ruled, 7-2, in a decision written by Scalia that Mrs. Gonzales's novel 14th Amendment Due Process argument failed because:
Respondent did not, for Due Process Clause purposes, have a property interest in police enforcement of the restraining order against her husband.
Scalia goes on some 20 pages to make the purely legal point, concluding:
Although the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 17 Stat. 13 (the original source of §1983), did not create a system by which police departments are generally held financially accountable for crimes that better policing might have prevented, the people of Colorado are free to craft such a system under state law.
Ah, once again SCOTUS secures State's Rights.

Justice Stevens' dissent is an interesting echo of a much earlier case I've referred to before. Here's part of what Stevens (joined by Ginsberg) had to say:
Respondent certainly could have entered into a contract with a private security firm, obligating the firm to provide protection to respondent’s family; respondent’s interest in such a contract would unquestionably constitute “property” within the meaning of the Due Process Clause. If a Colorado statute enacted for her benefit, or a valid order entered by a Colorado judge, created the functional equivalent of such a private contract by granting respondent an entitlement to mandatory individual protection by the local police force, that state-created right would also qualify as “property” entitled to constitutional protection.
Compare that with the NY Court of Appeals dissent in Riss v. New York from 1968:
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.

Linda has turned to the courts of this State for redress, asking that the city be held liable in damages for its negligent failure to protect her from harm. With compelling logic, she can point out that, if a stranger, who had absolutely no obligation to aid her, had offered her assistance, and thereafter Burton Pugach was able to injure her as a result of the negligence of the volunteer, the courts would certainly require him to pay damages. (Restatement, 2d, Torts, § 323.) Why then should the city, whose duties are imposed by law and include the prevention of crime (New York City Charter, § 435) and, consequently, extend far beyond that of the Good Samaritan, not be responsible? If a private detective acts carelessly, no one would deny that a jury could find such conduct unacceptable. Why then is the city not required to live up to at least the same minimal standards of professional competence which would be demanded of a private detective?
Pretty much the same language, 37 years later - with the same result. The State cannot, (or at least will not) be made financially accountable for failure to protect, because if it were liable, it would be bankrupted by lawsuits in short order. The goverment is not responsible for your protection because it's not possible for it to protect everyone, all the time.

Something which Mrs. Gonzales found out in a brutal and shocking fashion, and has now had her face rubbed in it.

Once again, it's time for that cartoon:

got tissue?

Think about that the next time you need to dial 911.

If you have the time.

Blake at Nashville Files has something to say, too.

UPDATE: The WaPo reports:
Groups Back Restraining Orders Amid Ruling

By JON SARCHE
The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 28, 2005; 9:15 AM


DENVER -- Victims' advocates scrambled to reassure the public that restraining orders are still effective for preventing domestic violence, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that police cannot be sued over the way they enforce them.

The 7-2 ruling Monday ended a lawsuit by a Colorado woman who claimed Castle Rock police did not do enough to prevent her estranged husband from killing their three young daughters. The ruling said Jessica Gonzales did not have a constitutional right to police enforcement of the court order against her husband.

"The second tragedy in this case could very well be that victims of domestic violence will read this opinion to mean that protection orders are not worth the paper they're printed on, and that impression would be false," said Richard Smith, a Washington lawyer who filed a brief in support of Gonzales.
Might that be because, in some cases, protection orders aren't worth the paper they're printed on? Because, as Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson put it plainly, "An injunction is fine for someone who is willing to accept the rules... When someone is bound and determined they are going to do a criminal act, it is hard to stop it."
Trish Thibodo, executive director of the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said police still have a responsibility to enforce restraining orders and to take them seriously.
But the Court (and every other court so asked) has said they don't have that responsibility.
"Nothing's changed," she said.
Precisely.
City governments feared that a ruling in Gonzales' favor could open them to a flood of lawsuits. Judges in Colorado issued more than 14,000 restraining orders in fiscal 2004.

"The potential for liability was just completely out of this world," said Brad Bailey, an assistant city attorney in Littleton who filed a brief in support of the Castle Rock police department.
That's exactly it. It's a question of fiscal liability. A private business can be held responsible, but the State CANNOT.
Gonzales' attorney, Brian Reichel, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

On ABC's "Good Morning America," Gonzales said now that the Supreme Court has ruled, she is moving on.

"I'm going to continue my advocacy for other victims," she said. "I believe that there is a lot to be done, and this is a new beginning for me. And continuing to try to find some resolution for why my three children were murdered."
Because your estranged husband was a wacko.
Gonzales sued the Castle Rock police department, claiming officers ignored her pleas to find her husband after he took the three girls, ages 10, 9 and 7, from the front yard of her home in June 1999 in violation of a restraining order. Hours later, Simon Gonzales died in a gunfight with officers outside a police station. The bodies of the girls were in his truck.

Gonzales argued that she was entitled to sue based on her rights under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and under a Colorado law that says officers must use "every reasonable means" to enforce a restraining order.

She contended that her restraining order should be considered property under the 14th Amendment and that it was taken from her without due process when police failed to enforce it.

A federal judge in Denver dismissed her lawsuit, but the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived it, saying the restraining order was a government benefit that should be treated like any other property.

But Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the high court's majority, said Colorado's law does not entitle people who receive protective orders to police enforcement.

Smith, Gonzales' attorney, called the ruling "an open invitation to states to look at their statutes and enhance them and to provide the kind of protections that victims need."

He said lawmakers should ensure that police departments can be sued in state courts for failure to enforce protective orders. Under current state law, governments in Colorado and other states are immune from such lawsuits, forcing Gonzales to turn to the federal courts.

"The ultimate conclusion in this case is that states need to stand up and become accountable in protecting the innocent victims of domestic violence," Smith said.
They never will, because if they do then shortly after they will become liable for not protecting victims of non-domestic criminal violence, and then non-violent crime.
Castle Rock officials contend they tried to help Gonzales. Police twice went to the estranged husband's apartment, kept an eye out for his truck and called his cellular phone and home phone.

Gonzales reached him on his cell phone, and he told her that he had taken the girls to an amusement park in nearby Denver. Gonzales maintains that police should have gone to the amusement park or contacted Denver police.

"We all still feel really bad about this whole situation, but in response to the allegations we were unresponsive and so on, these were all totally not true," said Police Chief Tony Lane, who was chief at the time of the slayings.
The Washington, D.C. police department was unresponsive in the Warren case, and the NYPD was completely unresponsive in the Riss case, and they were cleared of any liability. This is absolutely no different.
"The deaths of these girls, while tragic, I think the learning experience we gained from this will help us deal better with these situations in the future," he said.
Or not. From a legal standpoint, it doesn't matter a damn.

(H/t to Mike, again.)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Sprinting Towards Despotism.


Back in February I wrote Slouching Towards Despotism on the Kelo v. New London eminent domain case. At that time I wrote:
First step down the slippery slope: "Urban renewal of blighted areas and slums" as justification.

Second step down the slippery slope: "Fair redistribution" as justification.

Third step down the slippery slope: "Boosting tax revenue" as justification.
Read the whole piece.

I'm not surprised by today's decision. I'm not angry. But I am heartsick, and I'm not alone.

Nor is this over.
Connecticut residents involved in the lawsuit expressed dismay and pledged to keep fighting.

"It's a little shocking to believe you can lose your home in this country," said resident Bill Von Winkle, who said he would refuse to leave his home, even if bulldozers showed up. "I won't be going anywhere. Not my house. This is definitely not the last word."
When I wrote Freedom's Just Another Word for "Nothin' Left to Lose" last week, this was precisely what I was writing about. Bill Von Winkle now has three choices: Submit, go to jail, or die. His legal options are finished.

And still this isn't the straw that will break the camel's back.

But it ought to be.

UPDATE:  Due to the herculean efforts of reader John Hardin, the original JS-Kit/Echo comment thread for this post is available here.
Sorry About the Lack of Posts.

I've been writing, just not posting. Lots of commentary, but no new posts.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Awwww, Screw It.

I sat down yesterday and hammered out an essay for about two and a half hours before the video card in my PC died. (I suspected that it was going, but it went toes-up for real last night.) I lost about a third of the essay, since it had been that long since I backed it up.

In the mean time, I've reread the tens of thousands of words I've written both here at at No Treason, and I've concluded that I was merely repeating myself.

If you want to know more, go here and start reading. The comment thread is 131 posts long, about 25 of which are mine.

That's my take on the topic.

Next!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Computer Problems.

I've been working on another really long post since about 7:15 this evening, and I just lost about a third of it due to a problem with my damned Dell.

Hopefully I'll get it completed (again) tomorrow. G'night.

More Linkage!.

Say Uncle has created a Gun Blogger's Community over at The Truth Laid Bear's newly revamped Ecosystem site. So far, Uncle has 44 pro-gun bloggers on the list, and is accepting applications for more.

Monday, June 20, 2005

"Reality Based"? What a Joke!.

Ravenwood has the full story behind the cartoon, if you're not already up to speed.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Gratuitous Commercial Endorsement


As you may recall, I bought an M1 Garand through the Civilian Marksmanship Program. I received it in mid-November, and wrote a post about it over at Say Uncle's Shooter's Carnival. I broke down and bought a new stock from Boyd's when I concluded that nothing I could do was going to make the original look all that good, and I'd already planned to refinish the mostly bare metal surfaces with Norrell's Moly Resin. I bought a quart from Norrell's before I figured out how to build an oven to bake the barrelled receiver in. No way was that going to fit in the oven in my kitchen, and after smelling the resin, no way would I have tried anyway.

On a recent trip to the range, I found a business card for Mac's Shootin' Irons. All Mac does is refinishing, mostly using Gunkote. Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained, I dropped Mac a nice email asking if it would be possible to have him refinish my rifle using the Norrell's I'd already bought. He actually looked up Norrell's site, researched their moly resin, and emailed me back that he would be happy to do the job, but he wouldn't be able to guarantee the durability of the finish - although he thought that Norrell's was probably the same as Gunkote.

I made arrangements to drop of the Garand on the Saturday before Memorial Day, and I spent some time talking with Mac. His prices are higher than John Norrell Arms for refinishing, but Mac does the teardown and reassembly that Norrell's doesn't. If you have a pistol with sights that cannot be coated or cannot withstand the curing heat, he removes and reinstalls them, and Mac's pricing includes return shipping. Since he lives in Tucson, I got a break on that, but Mac doesn't have a storefront. Most of his business is done via mail-order. Further, Mac zinc-parkerizes the firearm as a FIRST step before applying the Gunkote, something that Norrell's doesn't do.

I picked the Garand up today. Yes, that was three weeks after dropping it off, but he was doing an experiment with a coating he'd not used before, and he was cutting me some slack on the pricing to boot.

All I have to say is: Just DAMN! That beat-up old 1943 vintage Springfield Armory M1 looks GREAT! It looks like it just rolled off the assembly line! Every metal part on the rifle has a smooth, gorgeous, uniform dark gray matte finish with a slight greenish tinge to it that beautifully compliments the walnut Boyd's stock. I can't wait to take it back to the range and try it out.

Thank you, Mac. And every time someone asks me about it, I'll tell them who did it for me and how happy I am with it.

Friday, June 17, 2005

No, I Am NOT Surprised.- More "Guns for Me But Not For Thee"

Joel Rosenberg is on top of it again . (h/t to Instapundit)

Seems the gun control crowd just can't seem to understand that to be ideologically consistent, they themselves shouldn't possess guns. At especially not illegally modified ones. And they certainly shouldn't carry out vigilante attacks with guns:
Well, we had Million Mom March organizer, spokeswoman and activist Barbara Graham gunning down a man in an attempt to avenge the murder of her son (she shot the wrong guy, and crippled him). And then we had antigun activist Annette "Flirty" Stevens keeping an unlicensed handgun, with the serial (number) filed off, in her home -- along with some narcotics.

And now we've got antigun activist Sheila Eccleston calling the police about a burglary next door, and encouraging them to make it quick because she had a sawed-off shotgun in her home, one that she admits had been there for six months.

I think some of these folks are unclear on a lot of concepts.
Ayup. That they are.

Of course she was just "waiting to hand it in," she says.

For six months. Awaiting a gun turn-in amnesty, she says.

I wonder how long she'd have continued to wait?

Speaking of hypocrisy, there's also Diane Feinstein, who has (or at least had) a CCW - one of damned few issued to a resident of San Francisco. And Carl Rowan, gun control activist and newspaper columnist who shot a kid who had jumped his fence and used his pool, and who defended his actions by arguing that "he had the right to use whatever means necessary to protect himself and his family." He did, but apparently nobody else does? This is the same Carl Rowan who is quoted as saying:
There aren't any embarrassing questions -- only embarrassing answers.
I guess he would know.

Hoist on their own petard, so to speak.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

In Re: "A Pack, Not a Herd."


Billy Beck of Two-Four has been commenting here concerning the prospect of armed reprisals by individuals due to government overreach (real or perceived). He's got two recent posts on the topic, Coming Distractions and today, "A Pack, Not a Herd". I asked his permission to quote the latter, because it's directed largely at me and I have some (more) things to say on the topic. In Coming Distractions Billy said:
Here is the central problem surrounding what you people are talking about:

There is no coherent and cohesive philosophy underpinning it. Everybody's pissed off, but you all have your varying degrees of what you'll settle for. Someone like me comes along to suggest something like starving the Beast out of existence by not paying for it, or withdrawing the overt political sanction by not bloody voting -- like I've been doing for years to general laughter -- and, suddenly, nobody is so pissed off anymore. There is something everyone can agree on: "Beck's a kook."
I certainly acknowledge that there's not a coherent and cohesive philosophy underpinning our beliefs. There's a vague head-nod towards "freedom," or "individual rights," or "personal liberty," but a philosophy? No.

Philosophies are learned, and that's not something - wait, that's not right. I was going to say "that's not something being taught these days," but that would be wrong. The public schools are teaching a philosophy. The media; print, film, television, are teaching a philosophy. And we're seeing the effects of that philosophy in everything from college(!) students who "don't DO math!" to Senators who compare the physical discomfort of being too hot or too cold to treatment at the hands of Stalin's gulag guards or Pol-Pot's torturers.

Philosophical indoctrination is going on, but not in any overt, open, honest manner. And it's been going on for decades. Billy said, in "A Pack, Not a Herd":
Carol Ann Rand, of the Georgia Libertarian Party, once pointed out to me that the commies have it all over us when it comes to organization, because they're the ones who are built for "unity". "Trying to organize libertarians," she said, "is like trying to herd cats."
Trying to organize any group of individualists of any (or no) political stripe is the same.

Then Billy points out what I see as the inherent flaw in his complaint:
(O)nce each individual inclined to these affairs properly understood the importance of clean concepts, there would be no "leadership" required. This is the point to which I alluded with my remark about why people don't "lead themselves". The very first task is to think clearly, and this simply is not happening. However, it's the crucial difference between -- in the apt comparison -- a "herd" and a "pack". This whole issue is what led Ayn Rand to conclude: "It's earlier than you think." She was pointing out that the intellectual ground-work simply was not in place.

There simply isn't anything to "lead", now. But everybody in the joint thinks they know how to do it.
I'm in complete agreement with the sentiment "The very first task is to think clearly, and this simply is not happening." But I don't think I know how to do it, nor have I said that I do. I've simply been observing what's going on and noting what I think is going to happen.

There are others who believe that, at some point, the People will rise up in righteous anger and set things to right. I don't. I think that by the time enough people are pissed off enough to be willing to risk everything they have, it will be far too late to do anything (successfully) about it.

Billy says:
I don't know how to solve this problem. I have often pointed out: nobody can reach into someone else's head and bolt the concepts together for them. "In the end, we are all our own teachers."

I have, in recent times, begun to think that the internet in general, and (now), the rise of blogs in particular, are only working to exacerbate this problem. That's because the echo-chamber effect out there is reinforcing all kinds of bloody nonsense among the mutually nonsensical. This is part of why I view the recent discussions of violence with a fishy eye. I would be hard-put to come up with a more potentially disastrous circumstance than people who are not thinking, talking about guns.

It's like I keep saying: this is The Endarkenment, and the rocket-sled to hell is running right on time.
On the topic of not knowing how to solve the problem, we are in complete agreement. On the topic of the internet providing echo-chambers for the various members of the chattering class I am less pessimistic about. It is here, I hope, that someone with voice and vision might find a forum from which to educate. But I'll admit that, too, could be a pipe-dream.

Billy's commentary on "the recent discussions of violence" has been primarily disdainful of the idea that such violence will be constructive - and on that we also agree. But I think there will be more Carl Dregas, just not enough of them, and not soon enough. As I said, Claire Wolfe was wrong. It's not too early to shoot the bastards, it's too late. They have the power now, and won't be frightened into relinquishing it. Scaring them now will only make their grasp tighter and their reach longer.

I, too see the rocket-sled to hell. I, too see that there is no coherent philosophy underpinning American society. But I see humanity differently than Billy does, I think. Billy believes that it's possible to educate the majority in a libertarian philosophy, and I don't. The Geek with a .45 put it well:
A truly enlightened society must ultimately be composed of 95%+ enlightened individuals...and the bell curve just doesn't support that premise.
Perhaps not 95%, but certainly over half, because there are competing philosophies out there - Communism being just one of them - that are far more attractive to people who'd rather not work (or think) for a living. And it appears to me that that philosophy, and various and sundry perversions of it, are what are fueling that rocket-sled.

I'm not sure what Billy's purpose behind blogging (and commenting) is, exactly. Perhaps he has or will explain it, but I'm here to advocate. I'm here to advocate an understanding of the Constitution of the United States that says "What's yours is yours, what's his is his, and the Constitution is there to protect that. To the extent that we need to contribute to a society that protects that ideal, great, but let's not get carried away." I do this with the full understanding that human nature means we'll get carried away.

The Libertarian Philosophy, just like the Marxist Philosophy, just like the Constitutional Philosophy requires a "New Man" to work as envisioned - that "enlightened society." John Adams said
Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
And he was right. But I'm willing to try a holding action, maybe even try to roll the rock back up the hill a bit, rather than just ride the rocket-sled, so I'm doing what I can to try to get people's attention and show them what it is they're gleefully throwing away.

Yes, I have a little echo-chamber here and the effort may be futile, but I am trying. And the point may come where I pull a Carl Drega in the full knowledge of the futility of the act because, come right down to it, it is better to perish than to live as slaves.

But I have to ask, Billy: What will you do if the IRS decides that it's time to enforce the rules on you?
Sweet. Bleeding. Jeebus.

The comment thread on Freedom's Just Another Word for "Nothin' Left to Lose" has drawn out blogger Billy Beck once again. Billy says, in one of his comments,
At the root, I don't understand how and why individuals don't "lead" themselves.
I write a lot in here on the failures of our education system. Most of the posts are titled "Dept. of our Collapsing Schools."

You want to know one reason why, Billy? Kim du Toit's Forum Page has a thread that illustrates it perfectly.

"I don't DO math!"

Jesus.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Let's Try This, (Part II of the Great Gunrights Debate).

I emailed Alex after his opening post:
Alex:

Not a bad opening salvo. I stuck a title on the post and edited it just a little bit for layout consistency with my other posts. I fixed a typo ["9" instead of a "("] too.

The only problem is that, for someone just walking into the discussion, they'd be a little lost if they haven't read our exchange at No Banannas.

May I suggest we reset everything back to zero and start afresh? Pick a particular topic near and dear to your heart, perhaps, and let's flog that until we're done, then move on to the next. Otherwise we're going to be zinging all over the place and it will be difficult to follow.

Kevin
Alex agreed:
Sounds good.

Obviously you've got me out manned on BF, so I'd concede that point (for now)

I am always one for the "there are sensible compromises out there" vs. "no touchin my 2nd amendment" debate.

I am also looking more at the gun industry and what it does to influence the debate.

Of course there are the basics: the meaning of the 2nd gun control vs. gun confiscation (slippery slope stuff) Statistics, lies and damned lies

Or if you have a "just once I'd like to see one of those weak kneed liberals try and defend THAT point" topics, I'd love to take a crack at it.
I used to be a (fairly) middle-of-the-road gunrights advocate, until I started digging into the debate deeper. The more I dug, the worse it looked until I finally decided that "this far, no further" was the only position I could personally take.

There's a lot more to it than just the right to arms for me, but the right to arms is the keystone from my perspective. The fact is that the Constitution is and has been under concerted attack for a wide variety of reasons and rationales almost since its ratification. My current stance (which is not absolutist from the perspective of many) is based on my understanding of the meaning and intent of the Constitution, and the meaning and intent of the Second Amendment and all of the other amendments.

So let's start there. What do those twenty-seven words mean, and is the Constitution a "living document"? That was the point of Ian Hamet's post at Banana Oil! that originated this discussion. Because from my perspective the meaning and intent of the 2nd Amendment is clear, and the Constitution is not and cannot be a "living document," and I can explain why. Everything I support and espouse is based on this bedrock. These are the questions we must address first before we can argue "sensible compromises" and the like.

Let the Discussion Begin! Opening Salvo by Guest poster Alex:

Kevin- instead of taking the “Jane you ignorant slut” approach to a response, I will go point by point and refute your arguments. In many cases I think the logic just doesn’t hold, and in others it may just be a difference of opinion.

That being said, let the games begin.

You say:

“I suggest you read, very carefully, the opening paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence. It was written by Thomas Jefferson and signed by quite a number of intelligent, well-educated, propertied men who decided to stand up against tyranny and break the law in so doing. They pledged their (yes, I know it’s a cliché) “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” in that decision. And most of them lost their lives and fortunes, and several their families. But they kept their honor. Is your argument that there is never a time to rise up against tyranny? Or is it that our government can never become tyrannical?”
Ok, aside from the implication that I haven’t read the Declaration (which is wrong), you completely muddle up what I originally said, and even what I think you are trying to say. But if we look at the first paragraphs of the Declaration we can clear up both points. I never made an argument “that there is never a time to rise up against tyranny” or “that our government can never become tyrannical”. My point was actually simple. That vigilantes- however well intentioned are not revolutionaries, and that when you start talking about throwing off the oppression of the government, it needs to be against actual tyranny- not just something you don’t happen to like.

The opening paragraphs of the Declaration are clear on this point. “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes”. Pretty clear. It then goes on to list specific and demonstrative overreaches of the King which necessitate the formation of a new government. No representation (this is fundamental to all forms of tyranny). King’s control of the judiciary. The king’s ability to ignore passed laws. Placing the military superior to the civilian. These are major transgressions. And they are designed to keep people from ever having the power to peacefully change their own government through democracy. When, and only when, that right is taken away should the “take up arms for the struggle” idea be flouted.

However none of your previous examples were examples of anything but self defense or vigilantes. And when you support vigilantes you are, in fact supporting tyranny (via mob rule). Long way to go to make my point, but you gun guys like to wrap yourselves up in the flag and say you are preserving democracy and “keeping the government in check”. That is a total crock (my opinion) and belittles the true strength of our democracy- to change without guns through the system in place.

You say:

“All too many of the other great tragedies of history - Stalin’s atrocities, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Holocaust, to name but a few - were perpetrated by armed troops against unarmed populations. Many could well have been avoided or mitigated, had the perpetrators known their intended victims were equipped with a rifle and twenty bullets apiece, as the Militia Act required here. If a few hundred Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto could hold off the Wehrmacht for almost a month with only a handful of weapons, six million Jews armed with rifles could not so easily have been herded into cattle cars.”
Ah yes- the tired line of “if only everyone had guns, there would have been no [fill in the atrocity]”. A classic, and wholly flawed argument. It assumes that there is no final solution but armed confrontation, and that any despot attempting tyranny would be thwarted at the first armed resistance. History dictates that armed conflicts can escalate into protracted civil wars, which can be far more devastating to a society than an occupation (and eventual overthrow) of a regime. Take the civil rights struggle in this country. There is no denying how brutal, oppressive and despotic the efforts made to deny a population of their civil rights were from the 40’s to the 70’s in the south. (Yes I know the rights movement began before that, but the really dangerous times- ones in which the demand for equality was met with swift retribution began in earnest in this time) So just arm them, right, and no problems?

What you would have created there is a second civil war. An armed insurgency within our own borders, and, as is the inevitable conclusion of all civil wars, mass casualties and utter destruction. Take the number of blacks tortured, maimed and killed during this period (and it is not a insignificant number, I know) and compare that to a full fledged armed conflict between blacks and whites in the south. Yes, it is comparing a known figure with an unknown, but that is exactly the part the gun guys gloss over. Do you think the whites would have just given up? “Whoa, they are armed, this changes everything… better pack it all in and just leave them alone!” or do you think they would have hunkered down, and gone all out to wipe them out completely. And, in the end, the side with the most resources is more likely to win any conflict, so the blacks still would (probably) have lost the struggle, but at a far greater toll. The civil right struggle would have ben set back decades, and all the rights they eventually gained would still have to be earned- through non-violent means- meaning they got decimated just to do the same thing they had to do anyway. Before you say “an armed populace is a free populace” study the nature of civil wars, because that is the logical conclusion of “everybody has guns”.

You say:

“You ask, “Who(se) definition of society do we have to abide by”? Good question, and one we’re constantly answering. My personal opinion: the one defined by the Constitution. No wonder forces on both the Left and the Right are trying to “reinterpret” it to mean whatever they want it to mean. This is the crux of the entire discussion. I want to keep the power to say NO!! and make it hurt in the hands of individuals, and the Statists - both Left and Right - want to ensure that the use of violence remains strictly in the hands of Government. My way, a lot of day-to-day mayhem takes place. The other way has, historically, can lead to what Professor Rudolph J. Rummel terms “Democide”. There’s that mistake you only get to make once.”
Here we are again at the “my gun is preserving your democracy” argument. This is based on an outdated, romantic delusion of being the struggling freedom fighter single-handedly battling back the “jack booted thugs” trying to take away out liberty. At some point in history, that may have held water, but it doesn’t today. You want to know what will actually take away our freedom? It’s people (on the right and left) who tell us what we can and cannot say, or even think. Being “politically correct” on the left, or “supportive of our troops” on the right has led people to suggest some pretty large steps to tyranny. They brand anyone that doesn’t think exactly the way they do as a threat to “our way of life”, and seek to squash this minority. No debate, just my way or the highway.

The ability to consolidate media in the hands of a few (and to prevent the media from serving as the nation’s watchdog, as it should and must), the ability to allow money to influence our legislature to the degree it does, the attacking of an independent judiciary which is they very backbone of any democracy, and the attempt by those in power to change the rules and checks and balances within the system to stay in power- THESE are the actual threats to a modern democracy. And all your guns won’t do a damn thing to stop them.

You keep waiting for the army to come kicking down your door and “take away the guns”, while the hyper-real threat just unfolds before your eyes and you do nothing. Talk about taking your eyes off the ball. If the groups that spend all the resources crying about how the big bad guvment wants to take away their God-given right to own a bazooka spent half their time actually doing something about the real threats to democracy, we’d all be better off. But I guess putting your money where your mouth is seems like to much to ask. Better to just keep deluding yourself as the nation’s last line of defense, instead of actually realizing that a bunch of nitwits in cammo armed to the teeth are doing zero to protect us from the real threats. But, hey, as long as they support the 2nd amendment we’ll all be OK, right?

You say:

A bunch of arguments about ballistic fingerprinting, gun control efforts in other countries and ineffective tracking measures. (There was a lot of arguments entangled here, and I am not dismissing them by not breaking them out individually, you had very good points -it just seemed like a long recap, so I skipped reprinting them).

You made some decent points here, and I definitely need to educate myself more about the current technologies available before I can refute your considerable evidence. It will take me a while to do that, so all I can do for now is attack a simple premise.

Even if I concede that the technology currently used in attempts at “ballistic fingerprinting” (BF) today does not work effectively (which I am not ready to concede until I get a full assessment, not just the “gun guys spin”), nothing you have shown that it could not be made to work should the technology improve. (i.e. there is no fundamental hurdle that seems impossible to overcome). Star Wars (the military technology- not the once great movie series bastardized into mindless pap), as an example, contains a fatal technology flaw. EMP (the force generated during a nuclear blast) wipes out mechanical and electronic components within a very large radius. So, even if you build a prefect missile hunting satellite (which is still a ways off), the entire network can easily be wiped out by a few detonations in space. This is a fundamental technological flaw- something that no scientist has even hinted at having an idea how to overcome. BF, even in its currently flawed state, does not seem to have these “there is no way imaginable to make this work”. It just needs to improve the technology in place.

Plus, this technology has had zero assistance from the gun manufacturing industry (in fact there has been outright hostility to this approach). So it is natural to assume (at least until proven otherwise) that should the engineers that design guns and ammunition, actually become engaged in producing traceable evidence, the technology would be significantly advanced. Put simply, if the gun industry actually separated the efforts to track criminals from the efforts to control all guns, we’d get somewhere. But they don’t. They look at any sensible reform efforts as the tip of an iceberg that will annihilate the second amendment. Now if there is a reason to oppose the concept of BF, I’d like to hear it. It only affects criminals and aids in their capture (again, the concept- not necessarily the current science). If you want to argue on the practicality of the current state of technology, that’s fine. But if you want to attack the entire idea of BF, that seems wholly indefensible. Sorry I cannot be more specific in this argument about the specifics on the current state, but you presented enough compelling evidence to convince me that it is far more complicated than I originally thought, although I don’t think it is as dire as you portray it (however I can’t back that up… yet)

To recap this diatribe:

1) Yes, you can rise up against a despotic regime imposing tyranny. However, taking the law into your own hands just because you don’t like something the government is doing is being a vigilante. And the examples you gave were of just that. Bullets are not needed as long as ballots are used.

2) It’s easy to say “this would never have happened if they were armed”. Yet it ignores the effect of a protracted armed conflict, which often times would be far worse than the oppression in the first place. At a minimum it is lazy thinking that presumes that guns will stop people from committing terrible acts.

3) You gun does not prevent tyranny. Tyranny today disguises itself in the “need to protect our values” and the Orwellian doublespeak that passes as governance today. It doesn’t come in through a kicked down door by the government, it comes in through defining certain speech as acceptable, and the people who don’t speak like that as “threats”. It lures the unsuspecting in with catch phrases and litmus test that weed out the “troubling elements” and says “we want what you want so lets punish the other guys”. Until you become an “other guy”. And all the guns in the world wont stop it.

4) There are certainly valid concerns about the existing BF technology. But using that to throw out the entire concept is crazy. The question should be, “could we make traceable guns and ammunition that resist tampering?” But the gun industry won’t have it. Better to just look at the first attempt and say “see, it doesn’t work. Better can the whole thing.” All science evolves, and if there isn’t a fundamental scientific reason BF can’t work in concept, then we just have to try harder.

Despite this long winded response, I still don’t think this argument gets at the real core of someone who is in favor of some sensible controls, and a typical “from my cold dead hands” fanatic.

I’d like to challenge you to a larger debate (I don’t think these issues get at the heart of our differences). One that looks at the gun industry as a whole, where reform makes sense, typical straw men used in gun rights arguments, and a comparison of international efforts for gun control. I think only in this type of debate could we really expose some sloppy thinking (on both sides) and dispel of the classic sound bites that do nothing to advance either side’s argument.

(Edited just a little bit by siteowner for readability, and to give it a title.)

Monday, June 13, 2005

Freedom's Just Another Word for "Nothin' Left to Lose".

I ran across a quotation a few days ago that struck me pretty hard. I don't really know why. It isn't, in content, any different from many others I'm familiar with. Then this evening I read a post at No Quarters that reminded me afresh. Gunner posted the entire "Give me Liberty" speech by Patrick Henry which was certainly apropos, and I'll repost it here:
No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The questing before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free-- if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending--if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained--we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable--and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
Strong words, spoken at the end of hope for any peaceful resolution.

In the post immediately below that one, Gunner discusses Claire Wolfe's much-repeated quotation:
America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards.
He quotes Claire talking about that quip:
People have started using the expression "Claire Wolfe time" and "half past Claire Wolfe" to talk about how bad our loss of freedom is becoming. I can't tell you how strange it is to have my name becoming a metaphor for the moment a shooting war begins.

--

What's scarier is that I can no longer think of any moral reason not to "shoot the bastards." I can think of many, many pragmatic reasons not to attack government thugs and their bosses. I'm still not advocating that anyone commit violence (not even against TSA screeners, federal prosecutors, or cops at checkpoints -- though I understand the impulse).

But with freedom being sucked away and absolutely no one making any effective large-scale effort to restore it (but lots of people making effective large-scale efforts to destroy it), I can easily see how the next checkpoint or the next arbitrary detention or the next demand for biometric ID will simply be The Moment for some of us. Not just for the edgy Carl Drega people, either. But for good, solid, sensible people who must make the choice either to live with themselves or live as a cowed, obedient comrade of the Stalinist state being created around them.

--

Sometimes survival of freedom's soul requires uttering a big, fat, frickin' loud, emphatic, get-out-of-my-face right this minute, no doubt about it, this planet ain't big enough for the two of us NO.

And that "NO" -- as governments understand and dread -- is best enforced at the point of a gun in the hands of a determined citizen willing and ready to use it.

Why must anyone be squeezed into making that choice in America, of all places? Nothing is more heartbreaking. Why the hell can't governments just get out of our way and let ordinary people go about their business unmolested?
I left a comment on Gunner's blog pointing to my conclusion that Claire was wrong. It's not too early, it's too late.

There's a discussion running over at AR15.com this evening about the Supreme Court's vacating the 9th Circuit's U.S. v Stewart decision and what it means. I'm sure there are discussions on many other boards about it. Here are a few example posts in reaction:
Exactly as I expected after the Raich ruling. The Feds can now legislate/regulate just about anything in your daily lives and to hell with what the states think.

Knew it was going to happen, but it still sucks.

--

Raich and McCain-Feingold basically said that the Federal government has unlimited powers, and state's rights no longer exist. The United States of the Founders is gone, and the US Constitution can be ignored at will.

--

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. US Declaration of Independence.

Time to do it again.

--

The very reason for the Supreme Court was to validate rulings using the Constitution as the final arbiter.

Now all the entire legal system does is base shitty and unconstitutional law on previous shitty and unconstitutional law using the bullshit excuse of "precedent".

We're fucked.

The system was set up as a LIMITED Federal government GRANTED those powers not reserved to the States and the People. It's been totally flipped the other way. The Federal government has given themselves virtual control over EVERYTHING that is done in this country. The States are merely annoying political sub-divisions that are obstacles to get around (again through more "interpreted" laws). The ultimate tool is financial. The system has been rigged to give most of states citizen's tax monies to the Federal government and therefore if you don't comply with what the Feds want, we'll simply find one of those hundreds-of-thousands of laws we've created that say we can't give you any of YOUR money back. Too bad, so sad.

States rights were at the heart of the first Civil War. The ground work is being laid for the second one in exactly the same way.

I'm 48. I wonder if I'll see it happen before I die?

--

We are governed by tyrants and traitors. The Constitution is regarded by the government it created as a contemptible rag.

We, and our own fathers, allowed the Republic the Founding Fathers authored to be slowly digested by those who promise that intrusions are so small as to be meaningless, or shriek that transitory emergencies must be allowed to override ancient liberties.

We have a health care privacy law whose primary effect is to ensure the right of hospitals and insurers to sell your private health information. We lurch toward national ID cards; our anonymity when unoffending is not assured by the privacy right that allows us to kill unborn children and sodomize one another. Your 12 year-old daughter has a right to privacy that assures that she can undergo an invasive surgical procedure without your knowledge, but does not guarantee that she can walk down a public street without disclosing her identity to any interested minion of the law. The First Amendment protects pornography - even simulated child pronography - and flag-burning, but it does not guarantee the right to criticize a congressman in the 60 days before an election.

We begin to reap the consequences of the ill-considered forbearance that allowed Chief Justice Hughes to say "We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is," and escaped unhanged. What generations of lawyers and politicians have taken as elevated drollery or cynical realism was in fact civic blasphemy and open treason. We have for centuries said with pride that we are governed by laws rather than men; we have celebrated the rule of law. It is time we began to dig its grave. We are governed by men, by majoritarian whim, by horsetraders and whores in Congress, by judicial cowardice and caprice, by every vile, low, unworthy, ungodly, despicable artifice and trick that led to the rebellion of '76, lacking only a crown.


We draw closer and closer to the hell of totalitarianism or the hell of revolution. Wise men will contemplate their choice of poisons.

--

You know, when a computer gets bogged down with too much shit floating around in it... memory leaks, orphaned processes... you need to do a CTRL-ALT-DEL to reboot, just to get a fresh start.

The gov't needs a CTRL-ALT-DEL every so often just to get rid of the accumulated shit that's built up.

And it doesn't need to be by force... the founders should have made a mandatory maximum sunset clause for every law that was passed, and each one must be be brought up for debate individually before renewing it. Eventually you would get to the point where all our elected officials would have time to do is renew laws. They wouldn't have the time to cram anything else down our throats.

--

Yes, all that is interesting but can you tell me when the next American Idol comes on please. All this talk of government wears me out. I need to know who: is voted off the island, or makes it too the next round, or can't control their kids, or will have a house built for them they can't afford thanks to lease payments to the federal and state government.

I fear the nation left to my daughter will be no better than any other socialist hell by the time I'm off this mortal coil. Sometimes I wish it would just come to a boil so we can get on with it.... slide down the sewer or pick a fight. My heart wants to think men will not stand for it. My head tells me only a very few will risk their middle-class home, 3 cars, and big screen for any ideal such as freedom. It makes me sad.

I hate to quote a movie but one of my favorite quotes from The Patriot: "Why would I trade one tyrant three thousand miles away for three thousand tyrants one mile away. An elected legislature can trample a man's rights as surely as a king". The real tyrant is an ignorant population. They are all around you and only 1 in 50 can correctly tell you what any portion of the Constitution means or why it's important.
That last one was the most insightful, accurate post in the thread.

Just yesterday I finished re-reading Heinlein's masterpiece The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I can't tell you how many times I've read it. I know I, personally, have worn out three copies. It's a great read, and a sobering look into the mechanics of revolution. I am constantly in awe of the men and women who carried off our American revolution and then made the government that we, their descendants, have so badly mangled. Claire Wolfe asks "Why the hell can't governments just get out of our way and let ordinary people go about their business unmolested?" Heinlein has an answer:
Must be a yearning deep in human heart to stop other people from doing as they please. Rules, laws - always for other fellow. A murky part of us, something we had before we came down out of trees, and failed to shuck when we stood up.
I'm beginning to believe that Edward O. Wilson's analysis of Marxism, "Wonderful theory. Wrong species." is applicable to self-government as well. It certainly appears to be.

So what was that quote? I found it a few days ago at American Digest. It's from a speech Alexander Solzhenitsyn gave at Harvard in 1978. It's taken out of context, but it really does stand alone:
In a state of psychological weakness, weapons become a burden for the capitulating side. To defend oneself, one must also be ready to die; there is little such readiness in a society raised in the cult of material well-being. Nothing is left, then, but concessions, attempts to gain time and betrayal.
Claire Wolfe thinks that we'll individually reach some breaking point: "I can easily see how the next checkpoint or the next arbitrary detention or the next demand for biometric ID will simply be The Moment for some of us." I made that observation myself in Pressing the "RESET" Button:
I don't think you're going to see a widespread armed uprising. What you're going to see is individuals and small groups who've simply had enough arming and striking - and probably dying in the process. If you've read John Ross's Unintended Consequences you'll get the idea, but I don't expect anything like the level of response he writes of. Not enough people are pissed off enough to do that.

Of course the media will spin it as "lone deranged gun-nuts" or "anti-government militias," but if you pay attention you'll note an increase in the numbers over time.
Read that whole piece.

Thomas Jefferson's greatest fear has come home to roost, "lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty." Many, but not most of us can see what's happening. Most, but not all of us who see it simply ignore it, shoving it into the recesses of our consciences. We have too much to lose. There's still some hope. It's not our responsibility. Who's getting booted off of Survivor tonight? Can you believe that Michael was acquitted?

For more and more of us, though, I think Claire's right. A few of us are going to reach our own individual Moments and those reactions will be used as excuses to further tighten the clamps, but for the majority the "cult of material well-being" has resulted in psychological weakness. "Give me liberty or give me death" is not a phrase they can embrace.

So as for me? I'm going to stick to my own advice:
(M)y life, my fortune, and my sacred honor stand ready to be sacrificed in the defense of my rights and the rights of those I love as I understand them. I am a citizen of this nation as much or as little as it protects and defends those rights under which it was founded, not as they are (mis)understood today. I will obey those laws with which I agree, follow those laws I am unwilling to suffer the penalty for, and I will disobey those laws I find egregious. This may mean that, at some time in the future, the State may decide to "selectively enforce" itself on me to make an example. At that time and at that place I will decide how to respond, for that choice is mine and always will be. In the mean time, I will agitate for those rights, making sure those in power remember that they swore oaths to defend them whether they understood them or not. I will continue trying to educate others so that they, too, understand what it is they are losing, what they are allowing others to throw away, and so they will hopefully not choose slavery.

That's what I owe my grandchildren.
But I weep for the legacy they should be receiving.

Gonzales v Raich Draws its First Gun Law Victim.

If you haven't, read my earlier piece "Game Over, Man. Game Over." It gives decent background information on the U.S. v Stewart decision in which the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of a man for possessing a firearm after being convicted of a felony, but decided that his possession of a home-made fully-automatic weapon was not per se illegal as it did not affect interstate commerce and therefore was outside the power of the Federal government to regulate.

If you weren't aware, an individual can build himself a firearm with perfect legality. He just can't ever sell it. The Stewart decision said that individuals can build themselves fully-automatic weapons, too, even though the 1986 Firearm Owner's Protection Act carried a rider making it illegal to manufacture any new fully-automatic weapons for the general public. (Police, other government agencies, and properly licensed corporations were excepted from this ban.)

Well, that decision (unsurprisingly) was appealed to the Supreme Court. They granted certiorari on it today, vacating the decision and remanding it to the 9th Circuit. Note the instructions:
The motion of respondent for leave to proceed in forma pauperis is granted. The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted. The judgment is vacated and the case is remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for further consideration in light of Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S.
I wrote a little piece on the Raich decision, and quoted Justice Thomas:
If the Federal Government can regulate growing a half-dozen cannabis plants for personal consumption (not because it is interstate commerce, but because it is inextricably bound up with interstate commerce), then Congress' Article I powers--as expanded by the Necessary and Proper Clause--have no meaningful limits. Whether Congress aims at the possession of drugs, guns, or any number of other items, it may continue to appropria[te] state police powers under the guise of "regulating commerce."

--

If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything--and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers.
It's pretty obvious that the Supreme Court just told the 9th Circuit, "No homemade machineguns. To hell with limited powers."

That was quicker than I expected. Good to know where we stand, I suppose.

Of course, David Hardy covers the story earlier and better than I did.

I'm So Ashamed to be American...

Lileks is at his screedy best today, fisking Time's breathless exposé of "prisoner torture" at Gitmo. It's a must-read. Excerpt:
And at one point the reader might assume that if something really bad had happened, we might have read about it by now. I know a little bit about modern journalism, and we tend to emphasis the splintery plunger up the butt over the mocking puppet show. In any case, this detail makes you almost want to weep in frustration; domestic politicians are posturing for the camera, huffing about then horrors of Gitmo, insisting that the rest of the world won’t forgive us until we close the joint down and pave it. Over what? A Punch and Judy show? If we gang-mimed the guy and had 17 men in striped shirts with white makeup pantomime falling out of a burning skyscraper, would the critics demand we not only let the guy go but pay him a per diem for his troubles? I’ve read the story twice, and I keep wondering if I missed the part where the suspected 20th hijacker spits teeth into a chamberpot rimming with own bloody urine while massaging the welts the jumper cables left on his groinal division. I mean, I take all that for granted, because our soldiers are all killbot brutes - except for the lower-class ones who got drafted against their will and can only hope Bruce Springsteen sings a monotonal account of their disaffection.
You've GOT to read the lyrics! And the rest of the piece, for that matter.

Wahabism delenda est
. And we're still using kid gloves.

UPDATE: Welcome Salon readers, especially those of you from the left side of the spectrum. I'm honored that The Daou Report saw fit to link to little old me. (Must've been the post title.) Take some time, peruse the site. And if you see anything that really irks you, drop me an email. Or leave an anonymous comment like you usually do. Be sure to read my invitation to my readers, though!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Another Best of Me Symphony.

Edition #81 of the Symphony is up at The Owner's Manual, and yes, I have an entry this week. This week's guest-host: Pat "Barking-Mad" Buchanan, the Republican Right's version of Gov. Dean.

Only Pat isn't running the Republican Party's fundraising effort.

(Which party is the Stupid Party, and which is the Evil Party again? I'm a little gray on that.)

Myths


I found this quote in a book review, but it resonates:
While our technology influences the means by which we live, it is the myths we believe in that determine how we live.
That is an idea that I understand. Abigale Kohn subtitled her book Shooters, "Myths and Realities of America's Gun Cultures." Strewn throughout that book are illuminating paragraphs like this one:
In the 2000 movie The Patriot, South Carolina farmer/landowner Benjamin Martin (played by Mel Gibson) reluctantly rejoins the colonial militia to take on the British during the Revolutionary War. With his wily bravery and unorthodox battle strategies, Martin embodies the ideal citizen soldier, displaying the kind of courage and principle that Aemricans have always imagined marked the early militiamen. The Patriot assures viewers that abstract political principles can have significant personal impact, and that American mythic history, wars and violent conflict forge timeless links between manhood, citizenship, and patriotism. Such mythic (re)tellings continue to resonate with how Americans process their own history, as the success of such movies demonstrate at the box office.
She says that almost like it's a bad thing.

I've had long, involved discussions here at TSM on the subject of what "rights" are, and from my perspective they are our shared myths, and our unique, glorious gift to the world. (Don't write letters! Oh, hell, go ahead.)

There are three things I'd like you to take time to read. None is short, so make a hole in your schedule for them. The first is Michael Yon's latest dispatch from Iraq, The Battle for Mosul. The next is not online today, but it will be in a week. However, you should be able to find it pretty easily, since it's in today's Parade Sunday insert. The story is entitled Proud to be an American, and it's about the U.S. Navy's hospital ship Mercy and its recent tour of the tsunami-smashed Indian Ocean area. The third piece I want you to read is an AP (!) piece, Special-ed kid who won't quit hits one of life's great 3-pointers.

Read those three pieces. Reflect on the myths that we as Americans share that lead us to such behavior, both as individuals and as a whole people. And then compare that to the myths that lead people to drive car bombs into crowds of children killing them wholesale, or encourage them to use a child as a decoy, that let them murder foreign journalists and aid workers, that convince them that it is better for young girls to burn to death inside their schoolhouse than to allow them to escape the flames with their heads uncovered.

And tell me then, if you can, why I should concern myself over whether some guards in Guantanamo have shown disrespect for the Koran.

Contrary to popular belief, some cultures are superior to others, regardless of what the American Left espouses.
Honesty is Such a Lonely Word...

Color me shocked when I saw the cover of today's Arizona Daily Star:

The story is available online here. Excerpt:
They're pulled from backyard pools and bathtubs each year, tiny limp bodies, blue and not breathing.
A young life can vanish quickly under water. A survivor can endure a lifetime of disabilities. Either way, families are torn apart by an almost always preventable tragedy.
Standard summer companions in our desert climate, swimming pools can be deadlier for children than guns. A child is 100 times more likely to die in a swimming accident than in gunplay, writes Steven D. Levitt, University of Chicago economics professor and best-selling author.
Levitt analyzed child deaths from residential swimming pools and guns and found one child under 10 drowns annually for every 11,000 pools. By comparison, one child under 10 each year is killed by a gun for every 1 million guns, according to his research, outlined in a new book "Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side to Everything," which he co-wrote with journalist Stephen J. Dubner.
Someone should inform Jean Hanff Korelitz. She thinks that "more than 4,000 children...die in gun-related accidents each year". But let's check the numbers anyway. According to the CDC, in 2002 there were 676 drowning deaths for children up through 9 years of age. There were 26 accidental firearm deaths. There were 142 firearm deaths of all intents; accident, homicide, and suicide. According to the 2003 UN Small Arms Survey, there are an estimated 238 to 276 million firearms in the U.S. Wouldn't that mean somewhere between 238 and 275 "children under 10" dying by gunshot, not 142? Professor Levitt really ought to review his numbers more rigorously. It looks like the ratio is more like 175:1.

Shocking, no?

Still, the headline (above the fold!) was quite attention-grabbing.

P.S: My grandchildren are in mortal danger! I own (several) guns, and my wife and I are considering getting a pool!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Welcome, Joe Katzman.

Joe, a Canadian, has embraced the idea of the right to arms as a fundamental human right. Go read his Winds of Change essay on what changed his mind. Here's the opener:
As many of you know, I'm from Canada. We have a pretty different attitude to guns up here, and I must say that American gun culture has always kind of puzzled me. To me, one no more had a right to a gun than one did to a car.

Well, my mind has changed. Changed to the point where I see gun ownership as being a slightly qualified but universal global human right. A month ago in Yalta, Freedom & The Future, I wrote:

"Frankly, if "stopping... societies from becoming the homicidal hells Mr. Bush described in his Latvia speech" is our goal, I'm becoming more sympathetic to the Right to Bear Arms as a universal human right on par with freedom of speech and religion. U.S. Secretary of State Condi Rice's personal experience as a child in Birmingham [Alabama] adds an interesting dimension; I hope she talks about this abroad."

This week, I took the last step. You can thank Robert Mugabe, too, because it was his campaign to starve his political/tribal opponents and Pol-Pot style "ruralization" effort (200,000 left homeless recently in a population of 12.6 million) that finally convinced me. Here's the crux, the argument before which all other arguments pale into insignificance:

The Right to Bear Arms is the only reliable way to prevent genocide in the modern world.

And Zimbabwe is the poster child for that proposition.
Go read the whole thing.

And this would be a good time to re-read the Dangerous Victims trilogy. Oh, and most especially, Those Without Swords Can Still Die Upon Them.

Commerce Clause Satire.

(Title stolen from The Volokh Conspiracy - thanks to Mike of Feces Flinging Monkey for the email pointer.)

Fafblog! has taken a bit of umbrage at this week's Raich decision, and has decided to lampoon harpoon the decision with a little satire illustrating the mental gymnastics required to reach that decision. Good read, with graphics and everything, but here's the bit that got my gungeek attention:
Special Bonus Commerce PARADOX! A cat is in a box. According to quantum mechanics, it is neither bought nor sold. Instead it is a cat commerce waveform sold in all possible states at the same time until it is confiscated and destroyed by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Cats.
ZING!!!