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

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Sunday, December 31, 2006

How to Spend a Saturday.

Go to the range with a bunch of gun nuts!

Let's see, we had a big crowd, with at least three 1919's (one with a short barrel), a honest-to-goodness MG-42 (in 8mm!), a wide assortment of full-auto long arms and submachineguns, a whole host of suppressed firearms in different calibers, a guy who launched rockets, a guy who launched practice grenades, a guy who launched 40mm smoke grenades, and not one, but two flamethrowers.

Yes, flamethrowers.

I love America. And Arizona!

(Pictures courtesy of mjrowley and Carbinereloaded of AR15.com)

And we had chili, too!

What a beautiful day for a shoot!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

I Have Never Met a Cheaper Bastard than a Shooter


And I plead guilty to the charge as well.

I went to the "End of the Year" AR15.com shoot at the Casa Grande public range today, and shot off most of my remaining .223 ammo. It's time to order more components. My bullet of choice is the Hornady 75 grain boattail hollowpoint match. I load it over 23.5 grains of Varget (this is a safe published load, but use it at your own risk anyway) in LC brass - it's about all that will fit with that long, long bullet. I was able to pop clay pigeons stuck in the 250 yard backstop with this load off the bench, and bust any rock that was big enough to see. My 9" x 11" x 1" AR500 plate steel swinger was absolutely no challenge at all. But I'm out of the last thousand I bought, so I need more.

I went to the AR15.com reloading page and clicked on their list of reloading supplier URLs, then went through them one by one checking prices. This is what I found:
Midway Usa:

Hornady Match Bullets 22 Caliber (224 Diameter) 75 Grain Boat Tail Hollow Point Box of 100
Product #: 559619
Manufacturer #: 2279
Our Price: $14.29

Sinclair International:

P/N H2279
Hornady 22 cal 75 gr BTHP MCH Box/100
100 Count Price: $15.00 500 Count Price: $69.25

10% Discount When Purchasing 5-Pack Sleeves
Note: This discount ONLY applies if you purchase multiples of 5.
5 or more $13.85 ea.

Midsouth Shooter's Supply:
HORNADY 75GR BOAT TAIL HOLLOW POINT MATCH 100CT

Item: 003-2279
Status: In Stock
Price: $13.23/100

Widener's
Manufacturer: Hornady
Stock Number: H2279
Number In Stock: 0
Price: $13.50 each
And then I hit upon the Holy Grail for cheapskates:
Graf & Sons:

HRN 22c (.224) 75gr BTHP BULLET MATCH 600/BX
Item Number: HRN22796
Availability: In stock
Price: $69.99
And Graf & Sons includes freight. (There is a $3.95 "handling charge" per order, but that's still a great deal.)

I ordered two.

I am such a cheap bastard.
Happy Birthday to Me, Happy Birthday to Me...

An email from the Civilian Marksmanship Program included this little snippet:
M1 CARBINES SOON TO BE AVAILABLE FROM THE CMP . The Army has transferred to the CMP a significant quantity of M1 Carbines. We are currently processing these carbines through our Inspection & Repair operations and expect to have some ready for sale by 1 March, 2007, but it may be sooner. More information will be posted on http://www.odcmp.com/rifles/carbine.htm as it becomes available. At this time no decisions have been made as to grading, pricing, or limits. We are not accepting orders or establishing waiting lists at this time.
My birthday is in March. It's also when my non-interest-bearing payroll savings plan (read: income tax refund) pays off.

Guess what I'm getting!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Swift Justice.

Saddam, according to news reports coming out of Iraq, has been hanged. He was captured in early December of 2003, convicted in early November of this year, and was hanged tonight. Total elapsed time - including the much-delayed trial due to the killing and kidnappings of lawyers and judges - not quite three years.

Compare this to the trial of Slobodan Miloševic, which began in February of 2002, and after five years Miloševic died in his cell of a heart attack, with the trial still ongoing.

While I'm not a big fan of capital punishment, there are those occasions where the evidence is so overwhelming and the crime(s) so heinous that I'd be more than happy to be the guy pressing the plunger, pulling the handle, or throwing the switch.

The thing I'm happiest about is that, because the U.S. went into Iraq "unilaterally," we weren't forced to "try" Saddam in the Hague. The Iraqis got to try, convict, and execute him themselves, rather than watch the "international community" circle-jerk each other as we did with Miloševic.

I'm an atheist, but I hope Saddam's soul gets to spend eternity with his sons, tortured by those he and his spawn murdered.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Other Side

Whenever I write an essay or argue a point about "gun control," I always consider what the other side believes. While I've always had an individual-rights understanding of the topic, it took me the better part of a decade to construct what I believe is the logically defensible ideology to support that position. I have tried to repeat those logical points, sometimes ad nauseam, in order to reach a broad audience. After three and a half years that audience has about reached its maximum here, I think, but I'm not quite done yet. The other side certainly isn't.

A long time ago I came across an anonymous quote:
Simply put, gun control cannot survive without an accompanying sea of disinformation.
This fact is one of the major reasons I started this blog. I've found through my studies that this is a truism that most people simply don't recognize. I feel a need to counter that disinformation. I found another quote, courtesy of Triggerfinger that is almost a truism:
The difference between gun control activists and gun rights activists is simple: gun rights advocates know what they are talking about, because they have depth of knowledge and expertise about firearms and pay attention to the issue. Gun control advocates, for the most part, don't know anything about guns, aren't interested in guns, and only pay attention to gun issues when the latest blood-dancing press release arrives. There's no sustainability.
All but the last sentence is correct. There may not be individual sustainability, but the bad ideas, the erroneous memes, live on.

Today's example: an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Let us fisk:
Too many weapons

Control guns to stop the tide of death.

John D. Kelly IV is an associate professor and vice chair of orthopedic surgery at Temple University School of Medicine

Weeks ago, I witnessed - again - a young man's needless departure from this life. Another victim of the senseless gunshot violence that has besieged our city.
Note: Not "senseless violence," but "senseless gunshot violence," as though it is not the violent who are at fault, but the guns. Not the person behind the trigger. Not the person who acquired the gun, loaded the gun, aimed the gun, and pulled the trigger - but the gun itself.
As an on-call surgeon, I ambled into the emergency room before I left for home that evening to be sure that no orthopedic care would be needed for the "trauma category one" I heard announced throughout the hospital.

When I entered the trauma bay of our emergency department, I was mesmerized by the surgeons who were trying heroically, albeit unsuccessfully, to revive the young man who had been shot in the chest, presumably at close range. In the cacophony of the life-and-death rescue attempt, I couldn't help overhearing a nurse exclaim, "There is another gunshot wound to the abdomen on the way."

The poor lifeless body I beheld was essentially dead on arrival. I was overwhelmed by the childlike countenance of this poor victim, who was reportedly 21 years old, but appeared still an adolescent.
A 21 year-old who the Bradys will count as a "child" in their statistics, but by any measure ought to be an adult. And why isn't he an adult? Is that the fault of guns in society? Or is there a deeper problem that guns are a symptom, but not a cause of? Dr. Kelly doesn't, and won't, consider that question. He has bought the "guns-as-disease-vector" meme.
I remember my 21st year with the fondest of memories - family, friends, romance, sports, college, and the prospects of going to medical school. I grieve this young man's truncated existence - the loss of yet another precious life, a life that will never experience the full joys of early manhood, of vocational calling, of marriage and parenthood - all the things I revere about my blessed life.
I can infer from this that Dr. Kelly, the fourth, was not raised in the "inner city." That he was not part of the tiny identifiable population (young urban black males) who make up the largest portion of homicide victims in this country, at a ratio of 6:1 over any other group. That he was raised in a whole family, and was not exposed to drugs and violence and poverty and neglect from childhood.

But it's guns that are the problem.
With every gunshot-related death I read about or discover on TV, there always seems to be a continual lament: This violence and senseless killing must stop. With the recent death of Philadelphia Police Officer Gary Skerski, the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the slaying of Officer Daniel Faulkner, and the recent Springfield High School tragedy, the public outcry against gun violence seems to have reached its zenith.
For this month. But as I've pointed out, Birchwood, Wisconson is not Hungerford, England, and Philadelphia is not Dunblane.
Alas, nothing has changed. Yet one blatant truth remains: There are too many guns.
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what every single one of us who believes in the right to arms must never forget:

The Other Side BELIEVES THIS. Absolutely. Without question.

It is their single article of faith.

And it is why we cannot trust them when they assure us that they "don't want to take our guns away," because if the "one blatant truth" is that there are "too many guns," then the only answer is to reduce the number of guns.

This is simple logic.

If the single tenet of the gun control faith is that there are too many guns, the end purpose of "gun control" must be to eliminate them, or - at a minimum - reduce the number to some arbitrary "this is OK" level which I suspect must be significantly close to "nobody but the police and the military can have them" as to be indistinguishable from zero.

Yet we've seen what that's done for England. A complete ban on full-auto weapons? Gun crime increased. And full-auto weapons are still used in crimes, such as the January, 2003 shooting of two young women at a party in London, or a young man at a carnival in August of 2004, or the group, including a 14 year-old girl, arrested in October for supplying guns to criminals - including a sub-machine gun. What do they all have in common?

Youth gangs and drugs. Poverty and crime. Failed government policies based on "blatant truths."

Oh, and full-auto, completely banned firearms on an island.

What about their ban on semi-auto and pump-action rifles? Gun crime went up. The ban on handguns? Well, according to the BBC, "there were 4,903 firearms incidents recorded in 1997 when Labour first took power" and banned handguns. In the 2004/2005 reporting period there were 10,979 recorded firearms crimes according to the Home Office. Fifty-eight percent of them involved handguns.

The handgun ban removed over 160,000 - legally owned - handguns from the UK with the insistence that the "number of guns" was the problem, and the promise that banning them would make the public safer.

Go ahead. Pull my other leg.

The British government estimated in 2000 that some three million firearms were held illegally there. Boy, those bans really worked well, didn't they?
A wounded culture simply does not need more weapons to settle its conflicts. Until this truth is embraced and conquered, the carnage will continue.
Par for the course, once you've erroneously identified the problem, the platitudes commence. There's a "wounded culture," all right, but "more weapons" isn't the cause of it, nor will removing those weapons cure that culture even if it was possible. England is the petri-dish that proves this. Until that truth is embraced, the real problems will never be addressed - because it's far easier to point to an inanimate object than it is to overcome cognitive dissonance and accept the facts of human nature and failed social policies.
The state legislature's failure last month to pass a paltry "one-gun-a-month" limit speaks volumes about Pennsylvania's resistance to change. Who on God's earth needs more than one gun a month?
Ah, yes. The "need" argument. Who needs "X." Fast cars? Trans-fats? Cigarettes? Why not ban it? If you can limit purchases to one a month, why not one a year? One a decade? If someone is already a gun owner, how does limiting them to one a month stop them from committing a gun crime with one they already own? Or how does preventing a purchase from a dealer prevent a purchase on the street? Criminals won't pay attention to "one gun a month" laws. They don't pay attention to "murder is illegal" laws. This is another example of "feel good" legislation that acts as "the next step."

The next step to what? To not taking our guns away, of course!

Because the "blatant truth" is the number of guns is the problem!

Oh. Wait...
Pennsylvania eased restrictions on gun permits in 1985. Since then, the number of citizens authorized to carry a handgun has risen from 700 to 32,000.
Wait for it...
Guns are simply too accessible and too often used to settle disagreements.
By CCW permit holders?
Our beloved city saw 380 homicides in 2005, the most since 1997. Of those, 208 deaths were over "disputes." Drug-related killings accounted for only 13 percent. This year, we are on track to surpass the total.
Again, BY CCW HOLDERS?

That's certainly the implication he's blatantly making. Oh, and according to the Pennsylvania State Police, there are currenly not 32,000 carry licenses on issue in Pennsylvania, but 101,643. This report does not mention how many of those permits have been revoked, so I must assume that (as it is in other states) the number is insignificantly small, but these are the people Dr. Kelly thinks should be disarmed.

Because we know they have guns. They've got a license to carry.

And what were those "disputes" about? Could it be "disrespect?"
I have had the profound privilege of caring for injured members of our beloved police force for the last 17 years. These men and women risk their lives every day for our society. Yet they continue to be outgunned by their foes. Even an Uzi submachine gun, classified as a handgun, is not difficult for a criminal to procure.
It's not too hard in England, either, and sub-machine guns have been banned there since 1935. Also, Uzi submachine guns are classified by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as fully-automatic weapons, not handguns, unless you're talking about the semi-auto version called the mini-uzi. The full-sized semi-auto Uzi is considered to be a rifle. The submachine gun version is heavily restricted, and it is difficult for a law-abiding citizen to procure. But remember this Violence Policy Center advice from 1988:
Although handguns claim more than 20,000 lives a year, the issue of handgun restriction consistently remains a non-issue with the vast majority of legislators, the press, and public. The reasons for this vary: the power of the gun lobby; the tendency of both sides of the issue to resort to sloganeering and pre-packaged arguments when discussing the issue; the fact that until an individual is affected by handgun violence he or she is unlikely to work for handgun restrictions; the view that handgun violence is an "unsolvable" problem; the inability of the handgun restriction movement to organize itself into an effective electoral threat; and the fact that until someone famous is shot, or something truly horrible happens, handgun restriction is simply not viewed as a priority. Assault weapons—just like armor-piercing bullets, machine guns, and plastic firearms—are a new topic. The weapons' menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons - anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun - can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.
Dr. Kelly provides another example of that "sea of disinformation" and his willingness to prey on the public's ignorance.
Our country experiences 30,000 firearm-related deaths each year. The estimated cost to society - including loss of productivity, pain and suffering, and reduced quality of life - has been estimated at $63.4 billion per year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2004 the total was 29,569. Of those, 16,750 - 56.6% - were suicides. Yet America ranks relatively low for suicide internationally. Japan, with almost no privately owned firearms has a far higher suicide rate. France, higher still.

But guns are at fault for all of this?

There were 5,733 non-gun homicides and 15,689 non-gun suicides in 2004. What inanimate object is at fault for those? And why are we only concerned with gun violence? (And why don't they call it the "Gun-Violence Policy Center"?)
Contrast these figures to countries with strict handgun prohibitions, where the number of gunshot-related deaths is but a handful.
Like England? Where the number of gunshot-related deaths has always been "a handful?" But has done nothing but increase since they addressed the "one blatant truth" that there were "too many guns?" Or how about Switzerland, where every eligible male of military age possesses a military (read: "full-auto") firearm and ammunition for it, and handgun regulation is minimal?

Care to run that one past me again?
It is time we embrace the obvious. Unless we make it more difficult (if not impossible) to carry a concealable firearm, the loss of precious life will inexorably continue.
Yes, let's "embrace the obvious." How do you plan to accomplish this? Force everyone to walk around naked, or dressed in Saran-Wrap sarongs? How do you propose to make the some 65 million (in reality, probably far more) handguns already in private hands unconcealable?

I'm waiting for suggestions. You know, that don't include "Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them all in."
Let's get back to the fundamentals: Life is more important than outdated "Second Amendment rights" or special-interest groups.
At least Dr. Kelly recognizes that the Second Amendment stands in the way of his vision of utopia. Unlike most, while he considers it a withered appendage, it's not yet powerless to him. Life is more important than a lot of things. That's one reason so many people have gotten concealed-carry permits, 101,000 in Pennsylvania alone. My "special interest group" supports the Constitution of the United States and all of the Bill of Rights. My "special interest group" recognizes that even über-liberal Alan Dershowitz understands the problem illustrated here:
Foolish liberals who are trying to read the Second Amendment out of the Constitution by claiming it's not an individual right or that it's too much of a public safety hazard, don't see the danger in the big picture. They're courting disaster by encouraging others to use the same means to eliminate portions of the Constitution they don't like.
And so does Ninth Circuit Judge Andrew Kleinfeld:
About twenty percent of the American population, those who live in the Ninth Circuit, have lost one of the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights. And, the methodology used to take away the right threatens the rest of the Constitution. The most extraordinary step taken by the panel opinion is to read the frequently used Constitutional phrase, "the people," as conferring rights only upon collectives, not individuals. There is no logical boundary to this misreading, so it threatens all the rights the Constitution guarantees to "the people," including those having nothing to do with guns. I cannot imagine the judges on the panel similarly repealing the Fourth Amendment’s protection of the right of "the people" to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures, or the right of "the people" to freedom of assembly, but times and personnel change, so that this right and all the other rights of "the people" are jeopardized by planting this weed in our Constitutional garden.
The populations of the states in the 9th Circuit could, if they wished, do as Washington DC has done and ban the possession of handguns, for all the good it has done DC. That Court has said that the Second Amendment does not protect against this. But Judge Kleinfeld understands the danger, and he is not alone. Dr. Kelly apparently rejects or has never considered the argument.
Society's cultural ills, including the dissolution of family, departure from God, and the degradation of mores, will not be cured overnight. In the meantime, guns remain the default option for conflict resolution, and more guns lead to more killings. One more senseless killing is one too many.

Excuse me for now. I must rest and prepare for the next call. I pray my spirit can withstand what befalls my eyes in my next sojourn to the ER.
And here I will ask Dr. Kelly Joe Huffman's "Just One Question":
Can you demonstrate just one time, one place, throughout all of human history, where restricting the access of handheld weapons to the average person made them safer?
Because that's what Dr. Kelly is advocating.

The only people he and those like him can disarm are the law abiding, as England has discovered. All they can accomplish is to build a population of disarmed victims for what we know is a small but willing pool of violent criminals who will never be prevented from getting all the weapons they want or need. England and Wales may not have the murder rates that the U.S. does (and never has), but their rates of many other violent crimes - muggings, home invasion, assault - outstrip ours now.

As I illustrated in Questions from the Audience?, the United States just went through a decade of significantly declining violent crime - including homicide - while "the number of guns" here increased each and every year. During the same period, the UK experienced significantly increased violent crime, even though they banned handguns. How does Dr. Kelly reconcile this fact with his belief that "too many guns" are the cause of violent crime? I submit that he cannot.

His position is, as it is for all who support "gun control" as a solution to violent crime, based on an erroneous ideology. His solution is, as Mencken (or someone) put it, "simple, neat, and wrong," but it's the one "solution" that all fervent gun-control supporters believe. "If we could only get rid of the guns..." But we can't. They're not going to go away.

And that is why we must reach those fence-sitters out there and educate them. The best way I can think of is to make them shooters too. As Teresa Neilson Hayden put it:
Basically, I figure guns are like gays: They seem a lot more sinister and threatening until you get to know a few; and once you have one in the house, you can get downright defensive about them.
I think Mike S. Adams might be on to something. Interesting idea, anyway.

UPDATE, 1/1/06: Dr. Kelly responds:
Kevin, thanks for writing. I am all for individual rights but life is sacred. Too many guns end up in the wrong hands. Whatever reason, the youth of North Philly too easily obtain firearms which are designed to seriously wound. Furthermore, the folks who wrote the constitution also owned slaves. Times do change and we have not demonstrated that the masses, unlike you, can responsibly control firearms. Peace, JK
My reply to the good Doctor:
Dr. Kelly:

You didn't read the piece, did you?

Read your email to me carefully. What you're saying here is that "the masses" - your words - are "the wrong hands." Apparently I'm OK, though.

Sorry, Doc. "The wrong hands" belong to about 1% of the total population - i.e.: by definition, not "the masses." But your "solution" is to disarm them, with the erroneous belief that doing so will disarm "the wrong hands." We have evidence that this doesn't work. That the fundamental idea behind it all - that there are "too many guns" - is in error.

Are you familiar with the term "cognitive dissonance"?

Oh, and as to "the Founders owned slaves" - yes, they did. And seventy years after the ratification of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights we went to war over that. Following the war, we amended the Constitution. Read the Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868, the one that contains this clause:
No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Are you familiar with the Dred Scott decision? The 1856 Supreme Court case that declared that blacks, free or slave, could not be citizens because:
For if they were so received, and entitled to the privileges and immunities of citizens, it would exempt them from the operation of the special laws and from the police regulations which they considered to be necessary for their own safety. It would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognised as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a white man would be punished; and it would give them the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.
I don't think the "privileges or immunities" language in the Fourteenth Amendment was an accident. I think Chief Justice Taney quite well understood what the Founders intended with the Bill of Rights, and he and six others on the Supreme Court denied fundamental human rights to blacks because they were "the wrong hands" in their eyes.

So you're in good company. You've just broadened the bigotry.
UPDATE: The good doctor sent another reply. So did I.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Time is Here...

I Missed This One Last Year:.

Passing Parade has the informative story of why there are "twelve days of Christmas." It's a repeat from last year that I obviously missed. If you did too, it's an enjoyable read, as long as you don't take this stuff too seriously.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Can We Get a Big "AMEN!"?.

JustBarkingMad responds to Joseph Rago's OpinionJournal screed against blogs and bloggers with perhaps the finest example anyone could want in his post Revisiting Rob. I had been considering a rebuttal myself, but I cannot improve on this.

And ditto on the "self-absorbed dandy" comment.

"No, Ace. Just You."

Dr. Sanity has an interesting, if depressing article on how to possibly deter a nuclear-armed Iran from doing what it has threatened - wiping Israel off the map with a mushroom cloud:
Is there anyone naiive enough to think that these homicidal fanatics would hesitate for one second to use a nuclear weapon against Israel--even if it meant millions Iranians would be also destroyed in a counterattack? From their warped perspective, the involuntary martyrdom of a few million muslims in Iran is a small price to pay to "wipe Israel off the map" and finish the job that Hitler started.

What a grand gesture for the muslims of the world to witness and emulate! Iran strapping on the suicide bomb around its entire population to gloriously rid Islam of the Jewish menace.
Read the piece.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Changing Face of the Shooting Sports.

Women are an increasing percentage of gun owners, recreational shooters, and self-defense advocates. This is a good thing, because otherwise the gun-owning demographic would be edging toward ever more elderly white males. The research has shown that, while the total number of guns in circulation has been going up, the total number of gun owners has been declining. That's changing. Gun ownership, recreational shooting and hunting are no longer male-exclusive activities. Books like Abigale Kohn's Shooters, Paxton Quigley's Armed & Female, Women Learning to Shoot, by instructors Diane Nicholl and Vicki Farnam, and Debbie Ferns' Babes with Bullets, are part of this growing trend.

A while back I did a couple of pieces on Emily Yoffe, a contributor to Slate and to NPR who had learned to shoot as part of her "human guinea pig" project. Her Slate piece was entitled How I Learned to Love Firearms. I transcribed her NPR interview a couple of days later. I found the original Yoffe piece via Zendo Deb of TFS Magnum. She and several others of the distaff-gunblogger persuasion tend to find op-eds and news stories that illustrate the growing female membership in the ranks of today's shooters - something I could not be happier about, though Tam has commented:
Why is it that when some bright spark in the marketing department at Apple, Cannondale, or Pontiac notices that slightly more than 50% of the planet's population is setters rather than pointers, it gets two column inches on page 24 of the WSJ, but when their counterpart at Remington or Smith & Wesson does likewise, it calls for a panting TeeWee news spot from ABC? Build a Saturn that has room to stow a purse in the front passenger compartment, and nobody notices. Make a SIG small enough to fit in that purse, and shoulders get dislocated in newsrooms across America as folks reach for dusty tomes by Freud.
I don't mind. It's all good publicity.

So are things like this, and today's link from Instapundit: Husker's Top TCU, Air Force. How about that? Some universities still have pistol and rifle teams, and there are very definitely women shooters there!

May this trend increase! Which would you rather be the public face of shooting? This:

or this:

I know my answer.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

And Now for Something Completely Different...

...at least for me.

If you're weak of, uh, spirit, you might want to skip this post. I damned-near didn't write it. However, the late and greatly lamented Rob Smith began the tradition of Crap-Blogging, which was taken up by no less a literary light than James Lileks just days later (albeit about a dog.) In fact, Rob's inspiration led to no less than three "Carnival of the Crapper" aggregations before they, thankfully, sank from sight (so to speak.)

Here is my initial (and probably final) foray into scatalogical bloggage. Hopefully it won't be a "striver."

As I noted a couple of posts ago, I'm ill with whatever the current creeping-crud is. Sinuses that alternately flow like rivers or block up like my head is full of winter molasses, sore throat, croaking voice, general low-level fever (that's now thankfully gone), green goo from my eyes, etc.

Post-nasal drip tends to have a negative effect on my gastrointestinal tract. Hopefully without sharing too much information, my GI tract ain't all that "regular" anyway. As I've noted before, I have a genetic condition (Acute Intermittent Porphyria) and it also has some influence on what my body does. While AIP tends to trend most people it affects towards constipation, I am apparently the exception to that rule. "Normal" bowel movements for me are rarities. I can't tell you how unusual it is for me to (as an acquaintance once so crudely but poetically put it) "pinch off a three-pound Brown Boneless sewer trout." My condition has rendered me somewhat... curious about the end-result of my digestive process.

Don't get me wrong! I'm not obsessive about it. I mean, I haven't gone out and bought one of those German shelf toilets or anything (but I know they exist, which is a weirdness I think I'll not pursue further here.) But I have to admit to some fascination when, a mere eight hours after dining on Mongolian Chicken from my local favorite Chinese restaurant, I stand and see undigested green onion pieces floating in the bowl.

It gives one pause to consider the wonders of the alimentary canal, digestive acids and enzymes, peristalsis, and the miracle that is the Charmin Ultra Double-Roll.

Anyway, when I'm ill, and especially when I'm not being hounded cared for by my lovely and concerned wife, I tend to not eat. As I discovered however, the "not eating" thing tends to aggravate the Porphyria, so I do try to force myself to consume something. The results of what I eat, along with post-nasal mucus are generally uninteresting in the extreme, in addition to being dully repetitive. (Take soup, add scum, result: bleh.)

Except Wednesday. While I'd have rather been in bed, I had to be on the work site programming away in anticipation of start-up. Thus, I tended to ignore the urges of my abdomen a bit, until they couldn't be ignored anymore. The results were, um, a bit explosive, but not... ah, er, liquid, you might say. It felt... odd.

My curiosity was piqued, I must admit.

No, I hadn't dropped a three-pound Brown Boneless. In the bottom of the bowl were...

Turdpoles!

(I swear, that's what popped immediately to mind. Little light brown tadpoles. Turdpoles! That and "I ought to blog this!")

So, what did I eat to fend off the Porphyria?

Tootsie rolls. Midgees, to be precise.

Science. Isn't it fascinating?

Truer Words...

Or, as Henry Louis Mencken put it in the 1930's:
The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can't get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods.
And:
A professional politician is a professionally dishonorable man. In order to get anywhere near high office he has to make so many compromises and submit to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker.
One more, for good measure:
Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule--and both commonly succeed, and are right... The United States has never developed an aristocracy really disinterested or an intelligentsia really intelligent. Its history is simply a record of vacillations between two gangs of frauds.
As Jan says, "until we're all involved...." This is why I'm personally convinced that both parties are complicit in the destruction of public education. One more quote - not Mencken, this time:
Reason and Ignorance, the opposites of each other, influence the great bulk of mankind. If either of these can be rendered sufficiently extensive in a country, the machinery of Government goes easily on. Reason obeys itself; and Ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it. -- Thomas Paine

Friday, December 15, 2006

Glenn Reynolds: Behind the Curve.

Today Glenn says "HEY, MAYBE I should run for President!"

If he'd been paying attention, he'd have seen that the Blogosphere nominated him in 2003 for the 2008 ticket.

I wonder if Rachel Lucas is still interested in that VP position?

Rachel? Rachel? Anybody?

UPDATE: I forgot this poster by Day-by-Day creator Chris Muir:

It's a little dated, but still a classic!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Not Ennui, ILL Me.

Sorry, sorry, sorry. Haven't posted in quite a while. I'm out of town on business AND sick as a dog. Went to bed last night about 7:30 PM, and at 9:30 some yahoo pulled a fire alarm handle. I went out and sat in my truck and shivered until the damn thing warmed up. Once the fire department verified there was no smoke, much less a fire, I discovered that the electronic lock to my room was toes-up. After three trips to the front desk, I finally got someone to let me in using an actual KEY.

And has anyone noticed how weird fever dreams are?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Vote for Bruce!.

The 2006 Weblog Awards is now taking votes. Bruce of mAss Backwards is on the ballot for Best of the top 2501-3500 blogs. This sounds a little ridiculous until you realize that there are literally tens of millions of blogs out there, and that Truth Laid Bear tracks over 58,000 of them. The "top 3500" represents the top sixth percentile of that 58,000+.

Bruce is escaping Taxachussetts (Live Free or Die Here), and will be retiring mAss Backwards once he moves to his new digs in (slightly more free) New Hampshire where he and his family will be living side-by-side with the thirty-five or so die-hard (big "L") Libertarians who moved there for the Free State Project. I think winning this Webby would be a great and well-deserved send-off to mAss Backwards, and I wish him all the luck in the world in his new state of residence.

So, go vote for him already!

UPDATE: I'm informed via email that "almost 200" libertarians of the big and small "L" variety have moved to New Hampshire as part of the Free State Project. According to this site, a whopping 663 people have pledged to move there before 12/31/08. Just for your edification, the 2005 population estimate for New Hampshire was 1,309,940.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Ennui.

Due to various influences - workload, current events, some specific business-oriented things not workload related, family issues, etc. - I have not been posting much lately. My apologies, but this may continue for a bit. I'm going out in the desert tomorrow with a bunch of guys from work to expend a bit of ammo. Perhaps I'll come back in a better frame of mind.

Perhaps not.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Is it Denial, or is it Deliberate?.
(Not that it matters, much.)

James Lileks expresses - as only he can - my take on current events in today's Bleat:
I heard some of the confirmation hearings for the new SecDef and was impressed, providing they’ve changed the name of the office to the Secretary of Deference. I think they should have pressed him to list all the other countries he opposed “attacking” just so everyone’s clear and we can begin the new year on the same page.

The Bush doctrine has been dead for some time, but this was the funeral oration. I don’t believe in “rope-a-dope,” and I don’t believe in the miraculous Israeli strike, and I don’t think the momentum can be reversed. It’s as if we invaded France and spent three years getting their government back on their feet before proceeding to Berlin. Given this, the debate over the ISG’s recommendations is rather superfluous, but the report does tell you where some people’s heads have become permanently socketed.
Go read the rest.

Peggy Noonan in her "Separate Peace" column from last year said (and was pilloried for saying):
Our elites, our educated and successful professionals, are the ones who are supposed to dig us out and lead us. I refer specifically to the elites of journalism and politics, the elites of the Hill and at Foggy Bottom and the agencies, the elites of our state capitals, the rich and accomplished and successful of Washington, and elsewhere. I have a nagging sense, and think I have accurately observed, that many of these people have made a separate peace. That they're living their lives and taking their pleasures and pursuing their agendas; that they're going forward each day with the knowledge, which they hold more securely and with greater reason than nonelites, that the wheels are off the trolley and the trolley's off the tracks, and with a conviction, a certainty, that there is nothing they can do about it.

I suspect that history, including great historical novelists of the future, will look back and see that many of our elites simply decided to enjoy their lives while they waited for the next chapter of trouble. And that they consciously, or unconsciously, took grim comfort in this thought: I got mine. Which is what the separate peace comes down to, "I got mine, you get yours."
Let's see what the elites of the "Iraq Surrender Group" recommends we do:
RECOMMENDATION 15: Concerning Syria, some elements of that negotiated peace should be:

• Syria’s full adherence to UN Security Council Resolution 1701 of August 2006, which provides the framework for Lebanon to regain sovereign control over its territory.

• Syria’s full cooperation with all investigations into political assassinations in Lebanon, especially those of Rafik Hariri and Pierre Gemayel.

• A verifiable cessation of Syrian aid to Hezbollah and the use of Syrian territory for transshipment of Iranian weapons and aid to Hezbollah. (This step would do much to solve Israel’s problem with Hezbollah.)

• Syria’s use of its influence with Hamas and Hezbollah for the release of the captured Israeli Defense Force soldiers.

• A verifiable cessation of Syrian efforts to undermine the democratically elected government of Lebanon.

• A verifiable cessation of arms shipments from or transiting through Syria for Hamas and other radical Palestinian groups.

• A Syrian commitment to help obtain from Hamas an acknowledgment of Israel’s right to exist.

• Greater Syrian efforts to seal its border with Iraq.
Right. We went through how many years of trying to get Saddam to comply with UN Security Council resolutions? And if Syria decides not to play? What then? We issue another strongly-worded condemnation? The report also says:
The United States must build a new international consensus for stability in Iraq and the region.

In order to foster such consensus, the United States should embark on a robust diplomatic effort to establish an international support structure intended to stabilize Iraq and ease tensions in other countries in the region. This support structure should include every country that has an interest in averting a chaotic Iraq, including all of Iraq’s neighbors—Iran and Syria among them. Despite the well-known differences between many of these countries, they all share an interest in avoiding the horrific consequences that would flow from a chaotic Iraq, particularly a humanitarian catastrophe and regional destabilization.

A reinvigorated diplomatic effort is required because it is clear that the Iraqi government cannot succeed in governing, defending, and sustaining itself by relying on U.S. military and economic support alone. Nor can the Iraqi government succeed by relying only on U.S. military support in conjunction with Iraqi military and police capabilities. Some states have been withholding commitments they could make to support Iraq’s stabilization and reconstruction. Some states have been actively undermining stability in Iraq.
Like IRAN and SYRIA...
To achieve a political solution within Iraq, a broader international support structure is needed.
Who does the Iraq Surrender Group think we need the aid of? Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, and Jordan, in addition to Iran and Syria.

Let me think... What was one of the reasons for the invasion of Iraq, the overthrow of Hussein and the establishment of a democratic form of government in the heart of the Arab world? Oh, yeah. Let Charles Krauthammer express it more eloquently than I, from his Time Magazine piece after Lebanon's "Cedar Revolution":
Jon Stewart, the sage of Comedy Central, is one of the few to be honest about it. "What if Bush ... has been right about this all along? I feel like my world view will not sustain itself and I may ... implode." Daniel Schorr, another critic of the Bush foreign policy, ventured, a bit more grudgingly, that Bush "may have had it right."

Right on what? That America, using power harnessed to democratic ideals, could begin a transformation of the Arab world from endless tyranny and intolerance to decent governance and democratization. Two years ago, shortly before the invasion of Iraq, I argued in these pages that forcefully deposing Saddam Hussein was, more than anything, about America "coming ashore" to effect a "pan-Arab reformation"--a dangerous, "risky and, yes, arrogant" but necessary attempt to change the very culture of the Middle East, to open its doors to democracy and modernity.
And it wasn't just Krauthammer. See line 4 of the eye chart:

That's a Henry Payne cartoon from 2004.

And the clowns elites of the Iraq Surrender Group expect the existing governments of the Middle East to HELP us establish the viper we've deliberately tried to place in their midst?

What were they smoking? Or are they just trying to convince and placate us, while really knowing the reality on the ground?

Today is the 65th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Back then we, as a nation, understood the job and the risks. While we've never, really, been 100% united about anything, during that period I'd say the percentage behind the effort was in the 90's. But now I think Peggy may have been more right than anybody wanted to acknowledge. They've got theirs. No one in "the elites of journalism and politics, the elites of the Hill and at Foggy Bottom and the agencies, the elites of our state capitals, the rich and accomplished and successful of Washington, and elsewhere" wants to stand up and say "we've got to roll up our sleeves and sacrifice." No one's going to do a Churchill and say "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat." It might affect the sales of Playstation 3's. Or their chances of getting re-elected.

We'll just wait 'till a young muslim male chanting "Allahu akhbar!" presses the button on a nuclear weapon in some American port city, and then report on how we need "greater understanding" and ask ourselves - again - "why they hate us."

In his October 2001 speech, President Bush concluded with:
The battle is now joined on many fronts. We will not waver; we will not tire; we will not falter; and we will not fail. Peace and freedom will prevail.
Well, we've wavering, the public is apparently tired (since the media chants nothing but defeatism at them), and the Iraq Surrender Group recommendations indicate that faltering should be official U.S. policy. Lileks is right. The Bush Doctrine is dead.

All that's left now is the failure part.

Ah, well. How 'bout them Chargers?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

This has to be Some Kind of Record


Reader Robert Gallagher, webmaster of 2ndWatch.org, sent out a blanket email a couple of days ago:
This is a little bit odd.
I went to the State Departments Bill of Rights website and every area of our enumerated rights were covered EXCEPT the 2nd Amendment.
In place of the essay was this statement:
(The accompanying essay is under review.)
The Website is:
http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/rightsof/homepage.htm
That rang a fuzzy bell, so I dug through the archives and found this old post.

That essay has been "under review" since Professor Eugene Volokh spanked it severely back in March of 2004. Pushing three years now, and they still haven't come up with a suitable essay?

D'you think they'd like some outside contributions?

UPDATE: Joe Huffman recommends that the State Department depend on this Justice Department memorandum opinion for its essay. I concur.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Quick! Somebody Tell the 9th Circuit!


(And the New Jersey Superior Court)

Eugene Volokh reports that the Washington Supreme Court has declared in State v. Williams:
In the present case, we are similarly concerned that possessing a firearm can be innocent conduct. Citizens have a constitutional right to bear arms under both the federal and state constitutions. U.S. Const. amend. II; Wash. Const. art. I, § 24. A person may lawfully own a shotgun so long as the barrel length is more than 18 inches in length and has an overall length of less than 26 inches.
This is an error. The overall length must be greater than 26 inches, not less. The decision gets this right in at least two other places.
See RCW 9.41.010(6). RCW 9.41.190 precludes possession of a short-barreled shotgun. Moreover, the statute also criminalizes possession of a short-barreled rifle and a machine gun. The factor concerned with innocent conduct is particularly important in the case of a machine gun, which can be altered in ways not easily observable.3 If strict liability is imposed, a person could innocently come into the possession of a shotgun, rifle, or weapon meeting the definition of a machine gun but then be subject to imprisonment, despite ignorance of the gun’s characteristics, if the barrel turns out to be shorter than allowed by law or the weapon has been altered, making it a machine gun. The legislature likely did not intend to imprison persons for such seemingly innocent conduct.
This decision did uphold Mr. Williams' conviction for possession of a short-barreled shotgun, but contrast this wording to, for example, New Jersey's Superior Court in State v. Pelleteri. Here are the facts of that case:
On May 30, 1990, our Legislature proscribed the "knowing" possession of "assault firearms." N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5f. Persons legally in possession of such firearms prior to the effective date of the statute could retain these weapons by obtaining the appropriate registration. N.J.S.A. 2C:58-12. Included in the definition of "assault firearm" is "[a] semi-automatic rifle with a fixed magazine capacity exceeding [fifteen] rounds." N.J.S.R 2C:39-1w(4). Defendant was convicted of "knowingly" having in his possession an assault firearm, a semi-automatic rifle with a magazine capacity of seventeen cartridges.
--
Defendant, an expert marksman who at one point was employed as a firearms instructor, won a Marlin semi-automatic rifle in the late 1980's by placing first in a police combat match. An avid gun collector, defendant placed the weapon in his safe. Defendant claimed that he neither inspected nor used the firearm. When the police recovered the gun from defendant's residence in December 1993, it still had the manufacturer's tags and the owner's manual attached to the trigger guard. The owner's manual indicated that the rifle could hold at least seventeen cartridges. Defendant claimed that he never read the manual. While conceding that he knew the rifle was a semi-automatic weapon, defendant contended that he was unaware that the firearm had a magazine capacity exceeding fifteen rounds.
And here's the court's decision:
We are concerned here with a statute dealing with gun control. "New Jersey has carefully constructed a 'grid' of regulations" on the subject. In re Two Seized Firearms, 127 N.J. 84, 88, 602 A.2d 728, cert. denied sub nom Sholtis v. New Jersey, 506 U.S. 823, 113 S.Ct. 75, 121 L.Ed.2d 40 (1992). This is an area in which "regulations abound and inquiries are likely," and where the overarching purpose is to insure the public safety and protect against acts and threats of violence. State v. Hatch, 64 N.J. 179, 184, 313 A.2d 797 (1973); see also Burton v. Sills, 53 N.J. 86, 248 A.2d 521 (1968). "[T]he dangers are so high and the regulations so prevalent that, on balance, the legislative branch may as a matter of sound public policy and without impairing any constitutional guarantees, declare the act itself unlawful without any further requirement of mens rea or its equivalent." State v. Hatch, 64 N.J. at 184-85, 313 A.2d 797. When dealing with guns, the citizen acts at his peril. In short, we view the statute as a regulatory measure in the interests of the public safety, premised on the thesis that one would hardly be surprised to learn that possession of such a highly dangerous offensive weapon is proscribed absent the requisite license.
Here's that "highly dangerous offensive weapon" that the State of New Jersey declared an "assault firearm.":
Actually, that's not true. The picture here is of the current Marlin Model 60 .22 rimfire semi-automatic tube-magazine rifle. The new one has been redesigned so that it can only hold fourteen of the horrificly deadly .22 rimfire rounds, thus rendering it not an "assault weapon" in the eyes of the State of New Jersey.

Then, of course, there's the Ninth Circus, who, in Hickman v. Block declared:
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution states: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." U.S. Const. amend. II. Hickman argues that the Second Amendment requires the states to regulate gun ownership and use in a "reasonable" manner. The question presented at the threshold of Hickman's appeal is whether the Second Amendment confers upon individual citizens standing to enforce the right to keep and bear arms. We follow our sister circuits in holding that the Second Amendment is a right held by the states, and does not protect the possession of a weapon by a private citizen. We conclude that Hickman can show no legal injury, and therefore lacks standing to bring this action.
In the later Silveira v. Lockyer case, Judge Kleinfeld wrote this in his dissent to the decision to refuse to hear the case en banc:
The panel opinion holds that the Second Amendment “imposes no limitation on California’s [or any other state’s] ability to enact legislation regulating or prohibiting the possession or use of firearms” and “does not confer an individual right to own or possess arms.” The panel opinion erases the Second Amendment from our Constitution as effectively as it can, by holding that no individual even has standing to challenge any law restricting firearm possession or use. This means that an individual cannot even get a case into court to raise the question. The panel's theory is that “the Second Amendment affords only a collective right,” an odd deviation from the individualist philosophy of our Founders. The panel strikes a novel blow in favor of states’ rights, opining that "the amendment was not adopted to afford rights to individuals with respect to private gun ownership or possession,” but was instead “adopted to ensure that effective state militias would be maintained, thus preserving the people’s right to bear arms." It is not clear from the opinion whom the states would sue or what such a suit would claim were they to try to enforce this right. The panel's protection of what it calls the "people's right to bear arms” protects that “right” in the same fictional sense as the “people's” rights are protected in a “people's democratic republic.”
--
About twenty percent of the American population, those who live in the Ninth Circuit, have lost one of the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights. And, the methodology used to take away the right threatens the rest of the Constitution. The most extraordinary step taken by the panel opinion is to read the frequently used Constitutional phrase, "the people," as conferring rights only upon collectives, not individuals. There is no logical boundary to this misreading, so it threatens all the rights the Constitution guarantees to "the people," including those having nothing to do with guns. I cannot imagine the judges on the panel similarly repealing the Fourth Amendment’s protection of the right of "the people" to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures, or the right of "the people" to freedom of assembly, but times and personnel change, so that this right and all the other rights of "the people" are jeopardized by planting this weed in our Constitutional garden.
Washington's Supreme Court has stated that the Second Amendment and Washington's Constitution both protect an individual right to arms, but Washington is one of the states in the 9th Circuit. If someone attempts to appeal in FEDERAL court on the grounds that they have such a right, said claim will be rejected. Hickman v. Block settled it.

UPDATE: Ben at Carnaby Fudge has an excellent take on the search that resulted in Mr. Williams' arrest for possession of the sawed-off. But in my case I think I'm just going to stick with telling the officer, "No, you can't come in without a warrant."

And I want one of these for Christmas.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Still Trying to Make Hay.with the "Shipping Fallen Soldiers as Freight" Meme

Last December I got into a urination contest with Jack Cluth, proprietor of The People's Republic of Seabrook over his apparent outrage that, well as the original story put it:
Family Upset Over Soldier's Body Arriving As Freight

Bodies Sent To Families On Commercial Airliners

SAN DIEGO -- There's controversy over how the military is transporting the bodies of service members killed overseas, 10News reported.

A local family said fallen soldiers and Marines deserve better and that one would think our war heroes are being transported with dignity, care and respect. It said one would think upon arrival in their hometowns they are greeted with honor. But unfortunately, the family said that is just not the case.

Dead heroes are supposed to come home with their coffins draped with the American flag -- greeted by a color guard.

But in reality, many are arriving as freight on commercial airliners -- stuffed in the belly of a plane with suitcases and other cargo.

John Holley and his wife, Stacey, were stunned when they found out the body of their only child, Matthew John Holley, who died in Iraq last month, would be arriving at Lindbergh Field as freight.
You can read the rest of the piece for yourself. There's even a video link of the story apparently showing a body being unloaded from a commercial aircraft.

Jack was outraged. OUTRAGED!
OK, let’s imagine something for just a second. Let’s say that Bill Clinton was still in office. And let’s say that the bodies of dead American soldiers were being shipped to their families as freight, stuffed in the cargo hold of a plane along with the luggage?

If Republicans were to get wind of this sort of Democratic perfidy, CAN YOU IMAGINE THE WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH, AND THE PEALS OF RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION that would be raining down upon a Democratic Administration? And guess what? They’d have a damn good point. So why then is it acceptable for Our Glorious Leader’s Administration to be shipping the bodies of fallen soldiers as they would Aunt Ethel’s luggage? It’s simple, really; because Democrats simply lack the cojones to to raise Hell and demand that this disrespect stop IMMEDIATELY.
Yes, Jack was outraged that the Democrats hadn't raised hell over this disrespect, thus getting themselves some much-needed positive press. After all, Clinton (blessed be his name) would NEVER have done anything so disrespectful!

But he did. The government always has. Bodies are shipped as air cargo via commercial carrier - just like they did your great-aunt Melba when it was time to send her body home. Was that disrepectful of her?

John Holley, father of Matthew Holly, protested:
What do you mean civilian aircraft? Why isn't he flying into Miramar or North Island and having the military handle, you know, the military can handle the military. I mean he's a war hero for crying out loud. If it was the President or some general or somebody like that, this wouldn't be occurring.
No, probably not. But your son isn't a general or the president. He's a soldier. As I explained in the earlier post, bodies are shipped home via air cargo - with military escort. This is done for several reasons. First, I imagine, is economy. Should the military send all remains to the nearest military air base, as Mr. Holley asked? Should they be on a dedicated cargo aircraft? Wouldn't it be just as "disrespectful" to ship the body on a military plane otherwise full of spare parts, mail, or other cargo? What if the parents of the fallen soldier don't live anywhere near a military air base? Or should the military dedicate a C-37 (the military version of the Grumman Gulfstream V) for the deceased and his entourage? Wouldn't somebody then complain about the astronomical expense?

The fact is, soldiers are shipped home honorably. Your grandmother may go back to old Virginnie as air cargo to be met by the local undertaker, but our honored military dead get an escort to ensure that they are treated properly. Noplace is this better described than by The Rocky Mountain News in their absolutely outstanding and emotional piece "Final Salute," which I strongly recommend you read if you haven't already. Be prepared to spend some time, and bring a hanky.

Well, once again, the "disrespectful treatment" meme has raised its ugly head. On Wednesday the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle published a "guest essay" decrying this same practice. Cynthia Hoag penned the essay after reporting that she saw a flag-draped coffin come down the baggage conveyor out of the cargo hold, under the observation of the escorting soldier, and then she watched it
disappear into the cart with the rest of the luggage. The waiting soldier stayed with the casket and rode in the cart as they pulled away.
She was shocked! Shocked, I say!

Well, her essay stirred up some controversy. In today's edition there was a story saying that the Army was probing the report, but Northwest Airlines was saying they did everything according to procedure. The most interesting thing about the story, though, wasn't the story. It was the comments. Like this one by "Reader11722":
This administration doesn't care how the soldiers are treated when they are alive (i.e., improper vests and inadequate protection on Humvees), why would they care in death? This lady is probably 100% correct and the misdeeds of this administration are about to worsen. However, Iraq is a bloody diversion. As the army attacks Iraq, the US gov't erodes rights at home by suspending habeas corpus, stealing private lands, banning books like "America Deceived" from Amazon, rigging elections, conducting warrantless wiretaps and starting 2 illegal wars based on lies. Soon, another US false-flag operation will occur (sinking of an Aircraft Carrier by Mossad) and the US will invade Iran (on behalf of Israel) costing more American lives.
Yes, the moonbats were attracted to the light! (And make sure you take a gander at the book he's hawking.) Another, "rwb100":
Boy. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill!! The lady was appalled at seeing a flag draped coffin on a baggage cart? What I want to know is why she wasn't appalled at the fact that the soldier was even in the coffin in the first place. If you want to be appalled at something, be appalled at that!! Be appalled that our fearless leader, King George The Pea Brained, had the audacity, tumerity, and unmitigated gall to get us into this senseless war in the first place. And as for one comment I read about treating our "fallen military heroes" this way, well, as far as I am concerned, anyone who voluntarily signs up for the military, knowing full well that it just might mean having to go to war, is an idiot, not a hero. Especially those who volunteered after this war was started, with the express intent of going to Iraq. War is never the right answer to any problem, anywhere, anytime. Never!!! Now I know all of you red state republican flag waving lemmings out there probably have steam spewing out of your ears right about now, but if you would all just pull your heads out of your collective anal orifices and take a good look around, you will no doubt see as clearly as I do that you have all been sold a bill of goods by the current administration. George Bush is by far the stupidest president that this country has ever had, not to mention the most dangerous. By comparison, he makes Nixon look great! Maybe you remember immediately after 9/11 how America had the sympathies of pretty much the entire world. Everyone was in our corner then, but Bush has, in just a few short years, completely reversed world opinion about us. We are hated and reviled the world over, thanks to the backwards, mean-spirited, and paranoid policies of the Bush administration, and the sooner we all wake up and tell them NO MORE!!!!! , the better off we all will be. So again , I say WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!! End this bloody war now, and then we won't have to see any more flag draped coffins on conveyor belts, baggage carts, or anywhere else for that matter. Now, what a wonderful world that would be!
Had to archive that one for posterity.

On a more sober note, MJL posted:
Last December I was waiting to board a flight from Atlanta to San Antonio. I looked out the window at my plane and noticed a large box being loaded into the cargo hold. I wondered what it was and then noticed a soldier standing at attention, watching the box move up the conveyor. I looked around...it was cold, freezing rain outside, and typically hectic inside the airport terminal. I couldn't see anyone who had noticed or was watching besides the soldier, the baggage handlers, and myself. After we were in the air the first announcement the pilot made was regarding the fallen soldier's remains and the accompanying soldier. In this case I saw nothing but quiet, subdued respect.
"Mudflap" posted:
I worked for 20 years as a customer service agent. I have worked on the ramp, inside, the warehouse and baggage service. The coffin is too big to put in a regular baggage cart. It is brought to the warehouse where freight is prepared for shipping. It is put on a open cart and does not carry extra baggage, unless it was the military's member luggage that was accompanying the coffin. It is taken over to the freight house where the vehicle can pick it up. It has to come off the plane on the conveyor belt. It is heavy and long, and the plane sits off the ground quite a bit. There also has to be enough people to be able to lift it on and off the cart. I find the story hard to believe. In all my years at the airport, nothing but respect is paid to a coffin weather it be civilian or military.
"USAF2T2" chimed in:
As an Air Force Transportation Specialist, we handle the human remains of fallen soldiers within specific guidelines ordered by Air Force Regulations. They do return in "transfer cases" but are carefully placed level, with the heads stowed towards the nose of the aircraft - the head ALWAYS higher than the feet. NO OTHER CARGO is loaded on top of remains' transfer cases. When they arrive at a terminal such as Dover AFB, human remains are stored in a secure area and separated from other cargo. At that point the shipment is made available to the receiving individual or agency.

So from the military's point of view, as a RULE, we handle all with care and respect.
Do they also travel in commercial baggage area? Of course they would with they(sic) same rules applied. BTW, the baggage area is not a bad place to travel in (many pets travel that way) and when you consider how annoying some passengers are, it’s probably more preferable.

At any rate, the receiving agency is responsible for the remains once released. Since the reporter of this "story" did a poor job of doing his journalistic duty of investigating and getting the facts, all we have is a "story" which, as we know, can be as fictional as "The 3 Little Pigs". But then had he dug into the story and found the truth, we wouldn't be here on this site reading about it. Such is modern news, entertainment (to sell more papers/ad space) at the expense of a few.

May God Bless the family of Army Sgt. 1st Class Tony Knier especially at this time of the year when the rest of us sit around the tree and enjoy our families. Sgt. Knier truly sacrificed his life (as others) so that our children and we can continue OUR traditions and way of life; not one forced upon us by radical Islamics.
Now there's a voice of reason. Finally, I'll select the post by "gvenema" though there are pages more:
I don't understand the outrage, Beenthere is correct.

I worked the Ramp 10 years ago in Minneapolis. There are no special carts for Human Remains. There is no special unloading crane painted red white and blue just for military personnel. The ramp agents have to use the equipment they have. How else are the remains supposed to be removed from the aircraft?

The outrage is over the remains being unloaded and placed into a cart.

From the article:
Northwest Airlines, on which the casket was flown, said in a statement tonight that a military escort stood at attention as three airline agents transferred the casket from the aircraft to an empty cart, then closed the privacy curtains. Northwest said it complied with all military and airline procedures.

There isn't even a real disagreement on what happened. I guess people expect a band playing stars and stripes to follow around every casket until the funeral.
That's how it appears to me.

It also appears that this is just another opportunity for the Left and Right to scream at each other. Reading the six pages of commentary, that's much the impression I got. This comment by "aki009" said it well:
I have to say that we live in a day and age where I find myself having to question all the data that is being presented to me from essentially any source. I had to add photography to the list of things to question thanks to Reuters, UPI and others with their contributors who took a free hand to "enhance" images. Unfortunately such doubt can cause something genuine to fall into the questionable category.

Perhaps some day various forms of media will regain my trust.

In the meantime, ill-educated swipes from the left _and_ the right simply undermine any remaining trust I have in any form of communication from either side. Though from my perspective it seems that the left fabricates a significantly larger volume of "information" than the right.
Doesn't it, though?

The Top 100 Things to do as an Evil Overlord.

Via the webcomic A Miracle of Science (which I quite enjoy), I bring you The Evil Overlord List, a hilarious take on what to do if you ever become an Evil Overlord. First up, The Top 100 Things I'd do if I Ever Became an Evil Overlord. A sample:
4. Shooting is not too good for my enemies.

5. The artifact which is the source of my power will not be kept on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of Eternity. It will be in my safe-deposit box. The same applies to the object which is my one weakness.

6. I will not gloat over my enemies' predicament before killing them.

7. When I've captured my adversary and he says, "Look, before you kill me, will you at least tell me what this is all about?" I'll say, "No." and shoot him. No, on second thought I'll shoot him then say "No."

8. After I kidnap the beautiful princess, we will be married immediately in a quiet civil ceremony, not a lavish spectacle in three weeks' time during which the final phase of my plan will be carried out.

9. I will not include a self-destruct mechanism unless absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, it will not be a large red button labelled "Danger: Do Not Push". The big red button marked "Do Not Push" will instead trigger a spray of bullets on anyone stupid enough to disregard it. Similarly, the ON/OFF switch will not clearly be labelled as such.

10. I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum -- a small hotel well outside my borders will work just as well.

11. I will be secure in my superiority. Therefore, I will feel no need to prove it by leaving clues in the form of riddles or leaving my weaker enemies alive to show they pose no threat.

12. One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.

13. All slain enemies will be cremated, or at least have several rounds of ammunition emptied into them, not left for dead at the bottom of the cliff. The announcement of their deaths, as well as any accompanying celebration, will be deferred until after the aforementioned disposal.

14. The hero is not entitled to a last kiss, a last cigarette, or any other form of last request.
Also included are an additional 51 really good ideas, such as:
109. I will see to it that plucky young lads/lasses in strange clothes and with the accent of an outlander shall REGULARLY climb some monument in the main square of my capital and denounce me, claim to know the secret of my power, rally the masses to rebellion, etc. That way, the citizens will be jaded in case the real thing ever comes along.
And he's taking suggestions, too. Pretty evil, eh?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Militarization of the Police.

Instapundit links to a Wall Street Journal column by a retired officer on the recent shooting of three black men in an automobile. Some fifty shots were fired by three officers. According to a link provided by Zendo Deb, one officer fired thirty-one rounds - 15 +1 in the chamber, and another full magazine. According to the WSJ piece, the police opened fire after the driver of the vehicle struck a plainclothes police officer who had identified himself.

A week ago Tuesday, three Atlanta police officers performed a raid of a 92 year-old woman's home on a drug warrant. She opened fire, hitting the three officers in their extremities. They killed her. At most, minor amounts of marijuana were found on her property. There are serious questions about the way the warrant was obtained and the "confidential informant" who gave the evidence for it. This is hardly an unusual occurrence. Radly Balko is probably the best source for in-depth coverage of stories like this one, and others such as Cheryl Ann Stillwell's, or Cheryl Lynn Noel's; or just look at his map of botched raids.

A commenter to Instapundit's piece said:
Police officers carry "high-caliber" semi-automatics nowadays because they should have access to the best tools possible when they are really needed. Trust me on this: even the most routine call is an "extraordinary circumstance" to a cop in trouble.
I have no problem with this. If my life was on the line and I carried a gun as part of my professional duties, I'd want it to be semi-automatic and in a caliber starting with .4 myself. I certainly agree that the .38 Special is not really up to the task, nor is the standard-issue "riot gun" the best long arm an officer might use.

My problem is with the tactics and the attitude.

A lot of cop-bashing goes on over at AR15.com, where more than a few members are uniformed and plainclothes police officers. A lot of comments about "going home safe at the end of the shift" get bandied about, like a scene from "Hill Street Blues." Cops go dressed in body armor and face-masks. They crash through doors with battering rams in "dynamic entries" ostensibly for their own protection. I realize that this can be a necessity. It should not be standard procedure.

Glenn Reynolds also has a piece up at Popular Mechanics which largely makes the point I want to here:
Dress like a soldier and you think you're at war. And, in wartime, civil liberties—or possible innocence—of the people on "the other side" don't come up much. But the police aren't at war with the citizens they serve, or at least they're not supposed to be.
I'm fond of quoting Sir Robert Peel's Nine Principles of Modern Policing:
1. The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.

2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.

3. Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.

4. The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.

5. Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.

6. Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient.

7. Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

8. Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.

9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.
It would seem that we've abandoned at least a couple of those principles. Specifically, we've abandoned #7, and #6 seems to be on the wane. The public are now "civilians," and the police apparently no longer see themselves as also civilians. But they are. The police are not subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, they're under the same civil law as the rest of us - except they get away with a lot more than we do, because they're "professionals," I guess. To a lot of cops, the rest of us don't even seem to qualify as amateurs.

Most of the militarization of the police, I think, can be placed at the feet of the War on (some) Drugs™. Dealing with heavily-armed drug dealers meant that cops had to up-arm and "go tactical" too, but it's greatly increased the police perception of the citizenry as "them" instead of "us." I don't want to disarm the police. I don't think it would be a good idea to strip them of their AR15 rifles, MP-5 submachineguns, 15-round Glock pistols, body armor, etc. But I would prefer it if their attitude was less "as long as I go home safe at the end of the shift" and more like the Coast Guard's "We have to go out. We don't have to come back." After all, their job is supposed to be "To Protect and Serve," not "Kill People and Break Things."

UPDATE: Say Uncle prefers the term "Ninjafication" to "Militarization," and makes a good argument for the difference.