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

Friday, February 29, 2008

Überpost Coming.

Sorry about the lack of posting. I've been busy, and I've been fermenting another überpost in my head. It will be a few days, however.

Fair warning - I think this one's going to break the record for length (and no, it's still not the post on Heller).

And half the reason I'm writing this post is so I can't back out of writing the one I'm promising, 'cause it's going to be a LOT of work.

UPDATE: Suitably chastened, the Heller post will come first.

It'll be easier anyway, and it is a good excuse to put the süper-überpost off a bit longer.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"Stop Ruining My Slogans With Your Logic!".

Heh. I wonder if this tactic will work after the Presidential primaries are over:

Dilbert strikes again!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Would the Sixteen Regular Readers of This Blog...

...please go vote in the poll at azcentral.com? It won't last much longer. The question is:

Do you think allowing guns on college campuses is a good idea?

As of this posting there have been 3646 votes, and "Yes" is losing 33% to 67%.

NOTE: Scroll down. It's near the bottom of the page, and you may have to refresh the page to get the "vote" button to show up. I did.

Monday, February 25, 2008

If You're Curious...

...about the "Unique Visitor" thing, here's the current-as-of-this-post "Visitor Loyalty" bar graph from Google Analytics:


(Click for full size)

So, how do YOU read that?
GBR III Dates Set!.

Mr. Completely informs us via email that the dates for the third annual Gunblogger's Rendezvous are now set - October 9, 10, & 11, 2008. This year's meet will be a little different with no Saturday night banquet. Instead, we'll have a pizza buffet in the hospitality room, which is just fine by me. The hospitality room will, in fact, be open each night INCLUDING Sunday, for those staying over and traveling on Monday. Now that I've made the Tucson/Reno run in one fifteen-hour stretch, I may stay all four nights.
That Was a BLAST!. (No Pun Intended)

Sunday morning I shot in my first action shooting match, the Steelworker's match at Pima Pistol Club. Prior to this, my only competition experience had been steel silhouette matches, which are run at a different pace entirely. In this match each shooter shoots five stages, each stage consisting of different quantities of steel targets at various ranges, and from various locations on the range, sometimes with obstacles to shoot around. Each shooter competes against the clock, with unhit targets counting as penalties that are added to your time. This is a "fun" match - it's not like IPSC or IDPA where there is at least a nod given to "honing your defensive firearms skills," this is putting lead downrange and smacking steel for the sheer fun of it. To be honest, I think it's set up mostly for creaky old guys who aren't too good at kneeling and laying down rapidly, much less getting back up again, so it's fine by me.

I shot my Kimber Classic using my preferred handload of 200 grain Speer Golds Dot over 7.0 grains of Unique, and I think I did pretty well for a newbie though the scores are not posted yet. About 25 people turned out for the match, and I'm hoping I finished in the middle of the pack for Stock pistol. I only made one really stupid mistake. The fourth stage was "El Presidente" - a fairly common stage at most pistol matches. Three roughly IDPA-shaped targets are set up about 10 yards downrange. Facing downrange, the shooter "makes ready," by loading and holstering his gun. Then, the shooter faces away from the targets and puts his hands in the air in the universal "surrender" position. At the sound of the buzzer, the shooter turns, draws, engages each target with two rounds, reloads, and again engages each target with two rounds for a total of twelve. If you miss, you may continue to fire until each target has been hit the requisite number of times. This stage is run twice, with the fastest time being the one recorded for score.

My pistol magazines hold eight rounds, so I drew, shot, dropped the magazine, inserted a fresh one, and shot again. At the end of the stage, I took out the second magazine (which now held two rounds) and put it back into a magazine pouch on my belt. A fresh magazine was inserted, and I was ready for round two. After the second run, I cleared my pistol, picked up my dropped magazines, reloaded them, and proceeded on to stage five.

Stage five was four steel targets of various sizes behind a barrier with two windows and a pair of swinging doors. The instructions were to shoot each target twice from the first window, from the swinging doors, and from the second window. Four targets, two shots each, so assuming I didn't miss that was one magazine per position. Loaded and ready, I awaited the buzzer. At the sound, I proceeded to the window, drew, and put eight rounds on steel. Moving to the doors, I changed magazines and dropped the slide.

Two shots, and I was empty.

I'd drawn the magazine from the end of the first run of "El Presidente" that I'd put back in the mag pouch and hadn't reloaded. Out of five magazines on my belt, I drew the ONE that had two rounds in it.

Needless to say, my time on the fifth stage was not stellar.

Still, I had a great time, and I'm looking forward to the next match, which will unfortunately be in April, since the fourth Sunday of March will be Easter.

Oh, while I didn't do a precise round count, I do know that at least 125 rounds of my ammo went down range, and damned near all of them hit what I intended them to.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I'd Like to Thank My Loyal Readers...

All sixteen of you.

According to Google Analytics, between Jan. 23 and the time of this post, TSM has received 23,129 site visits by 9,461 absolutely unique visitors. Of which 9,445 have visited exactly one time.

Which means, (carry the one...) I have sixteen visitors who have visited more than once in the last month.

And one of them is Markadelphia.

Boy, do I feel special! ;-)

UPDATE: It would appear that not only is Google evil, but it is capable of error. I feel like Nomad at the end of The Changeling!

Well, That Explains a Lot.

I have "The Knack."

Friday, February 22, 2008

Human Reconstruction, the Healing of Souls, and the Remaking of Society


From Hugh Hewitt's seventy minute interview with Jonah Goldberg discussing his new book Liberal Fascism: the Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning:
Hugh Hewitt: Jonah, at the risk of doing something that will have program directors across the United States screaming at me, I want to talk about Rousseau. This may in fact be the first time...

Jonah Goldberg: (laughing)

HH: ...ever on talk radio that Rousseau has been brought up. But I don't know how you get to fascism unless you cover Rousseau to the French Revolution, and then on to the branches in Europe and America. And basically, it's Rousseau's radicalism which unleashed the whirlwind on the West.

JG: Right, I mean, and there are two ways to talk about this. There's the intellectual history, which I think is what you're getting at, where basically it goes French Revolution... the French Revolution, I argue, is the first fascist revolution. It merges nationalism with populism. It tries to replace God with the state. You have these intellectual revolutionaries who use terror and violence to remake society and start over at year zero. They create a secular religion out of politics, where they change the traditional Christian holidays to state holidays. And all of this gets replayed in Nazi Germany, and fascist Italy, and in the Soviet Union. But I think there's an important point to be made, which is that this, it's not necessarily that the fascists of Nazi Germany were inspired by Rousseau, it's that the same thing was happening again, that they were following the same sort of Rousseauian path. And Rousseau, as a philosopher, he basically gives word to a desire that beats in every human heart, to create a tribe out of society, to create, to impose this notion of the general will, where anybody who deviates from what the collective thinks he should do is a heretic or a traitor, to sanctify politics. And that's what inspired the French revolutionaries. That's what they took from Rousseau. And in many ways, that's what people like Mussolini and Hitler took from the French Revolution, is this same sort of burning desire to create a religion of the state. And we see the same thing that happened in the French Revolution replay itself in Germany, and to a lesser extent, replay itself in fascist Italy.

HH: And you know, it's the same temptation over and over again, and it's one abroad in the land right now, which is why I want to pause on this, which is Rousseau believed that man was good, you know, that the state came along, or that society came along and screwed things up, but that actually, that men were innately good. And that's simply not a conservative view, Jonah Goldberg. It's anti-conservative. It's also anti-theology in most senses.

JG: Right. I mean, I think the fundamental difference, the difference that defines the difference between American, Anglo-American conservatives and European welfare states, leftists or liberals, is Locke versus Rousseau. Every philosophical argument boils down to John Locke versus Jacques Rousseau.

HH: Yup.

JG: Rousseau says the government is there, that our rights come from the government, that (they) come from the collective. Locke says our rights come from God, and that we only create a government to protect our interests. The Rousseauian says you can make a religion out of society and politics, and the Lockean says no, religion is a separate sphere from politics. And that is the defining distinction between the two, and I think that distinction also runs through the human heart, that we all have a Rousseauian temptation in us. And it's the job of conservatives to remind people that the Lockean in us needs to win.
I emphasized those bits because I believe they are at the heart of the difference between the Left and the Right in this country and the world. Hugh Hewitt is accurate in his assessment that Rousseau believed that man was inherently good, and that society - more accurately "civilization" - was at fault for the corruption of Man's nature. You see it most explicitly in the mythos of primitive tribal cultures being "at one with nature" (as opposed to modern civilizations "rape" of it,) and so on. It is the belief that if Man was just restored to his inherent goodness, we would all live in a fair and free society where each would give according to his abilities and would receive in accordance to his needs.

But as Tony Woodlief once put it (I paraphrase), anyone who espouses a belief in the inherent Goodness of Man has never stood between a toddler and the last cookie.

Jonah mentions that Hillary Rodham in her commencement address at Wellesly in 1969 said this:
What does it mean to hear that 13.3% of the people in this country are below the poverty line? That's a percentage. We're not interested in social reconstruction; it's human reconstruction.
She didn't want to fix society, she wanted to fix humanity. Michele Obama tells us:
We have lost the understanding that in a democracy, we have a mutual obligation to one another, that we cannot measure our greatness in this society by the strongest and richest of us, but we have to measure out greatness by the least of these, that we have to compromise and sacrifice for one another in order to get things done. That is why I'm here, because Barack Obama is the only person in this race who understands that, that before we can work on the problems, we have to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation.
Yes, you see, society has altered us from our inherent goodness, and if we could just...
If we can't see ourselves in one another, we will never make those sacrifices. So I am here right now, because I am married to the only person in this race who has a chance of healing this nation.
I guess "fixing our souls" is a form of "human reconstruction." Michele Obama believes that her husband has that power, the ability to "heal the nation" by "fixing our souls" and returning us to our inherent goodness. She continues:
We say we're ready for change, but see, change is hard. Change will always be hard. And it doesn't happen from the top down. We do not get universal health care, we don't get better schools because somebody else is in the White House. We get change because folks from the grass roots up decide they are sick and tired of other people telling them how their lives will be, when they decide to roll up their sleeves and work. And Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism, that you put down your division, that you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones, that you push yourselves to be better, and that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.
What hubris.

But it is Rousseauian. As Donald Sensing put it, both parties now lurching Leftward
have a foundational philosophy that is the same:
America is a problem to be fixed, and Americans are a people to be managed.
Slightly altering that sentiment, Americans are a problem to be fixed, and America is a society to be managed.

Neither side has chosen a Lockean candidate for the office of President. John McCain has stated that he believes that rights are essentially creations of government. On the question of free speech, he said on Don Imus's radio program:
I would rather have a clean government than one where quote First Amendment rights are being respected, that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I'd rather have the clean government.
"Quote 'First Amendment rights.'" He says this as a Senator who must swear this oath upon assuming office:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
But the First Amendment apparently doesn't count - which makes one wonder which other parts of the Constitution he's willing to put "scare quotes" around.

Still, McCain doesn't seem interested in fixing humanity, just legislating for our better behavior. It is Hillary and Obama that worry me the most, as they are uncomfortably close to the levers of power, and their philosophical counterparts may hold sway in both houses of Congress after the next election.

Donald Sensing continued in his piece:
A friend of mine emigrated here from Romania after Ceaucescu’s regime fell. He told me the other day that Americans are over-regulated. Think about that; a man coming from a communist country believes that Americans are over-regulated. It chills.

A long time ago Steven Den Beste observed in an essay, "The job of bureaucrats is to regulate, and left to themselves, they will regulate everything they can." Celebrated author Robert Heinlein wrote, "In any advanced society, ‘civil servant’ is a euphemism for ‘civil master.’" Both quotes are not exact, but they’re pretty close. And they’re both exactly right. Big government is itself apolitical. It cares not whose party is in power. It simply continues to grow. Its nourishment is that the people’s money. Its excrement is more and more regulations and laws. Like the Terminator, "that’s what it does, that’s all it does."

I do not believe Bush’s domestic policies are in the best interests of our long-term freedom. I do not think that Bush’s domestic legacy will, in the long run, be good for the country.

Hence I cannot urge anyone to vote for Bush in 2004.

Which is not to say that I endorse any of the Democrats running for president; they are more strident big-government activists than Bush, and won’t protect us from terrorism to boot. So I feel caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.

I predict that the Bush administration will be seen by freedom-wishing Americans a generation or two hence as the hinge on the cell door locking up our freedom. When my children are my age, they will not be free in any recognizably traditional American meaning of the word. I’d tell them to emigrate, but there’s nowhere left to go. I am left with nauseating near-conviction that I am a member of the last generation in the history of the world that is minimally truly free.
As Tam put it yesterday, things have gotten worse:
If you'll excuse the geeky metaphor, we've come to the Kobayashi Maru election scenario.
The founding philosophical document of this nation, the Declaration of Independence, is absolutely Lockean. The founding legal document of this nation is Locke's philosophy made law.

And now we've abandoned Locke for either Rousseau or... I don't know what, but it isn't Locke. Jonah Goldberg concluded on the Locke/Rousseau topic:
(I)t is a natural human desire to want to recreate that sort of religious, spiritual tribal feeling. And we constantly are looking for it in our politics. The problem is it's fool's gold. You can never get it. And so we constantly are following these false prophets. And that's why in my view, all of these people who sell this stuff... Marxism was essentially selling this, that we're going to create a Heaven on Earth. Fascism was doing a thousand year Reich. All of these guys sell the same thing. That's why I think they're all reactionary, because they're all trying to recreate this feeling that we got when we lived in caves. And the only true radical, revolutionary, inspiring revolution of the last thousand years was the Enlightenment Revolution of Locke, Rousseau, the American founding, which said our rights come from God, and that government is our servant, not our master.
But it will become our master, because we'll let it in our desire to chase false prophets who can heal our souls, reconstruct humanity, remake society and create Heaven on Earth.

UPDATE: Read this associated post by the Geek from Election Eve of 2006, too.  (Link broken.)

For that matter, re-read my own Tough History Coming from November of 2005.
Quote of the Day.
Castro resigns, possible VP for Obama
Blog post title at Conservative Scalawag.

That's funny right there. I don't care who you are.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

CNN - The Most Busted Name in News.

Nothing like accuracy in journalism. Reader "homeboy" emailed me a link to a CNN report on YouTube designed to inspire PSH among the citizenry over "painted guns." Yes, the "Hello Kitty" AR-15 and various other firearms refinished in Gun Kote and other finishes. They even get a spokesman from Law Enforcement to inform the public about the dangers of pink guns. As SayUncle put it, "if you see a gun-shaped object then it is in your best interest to assume it is a gun and act accordingly."

But the point of this post is CNN's legendary accuracy. It's real, but it's NOT a Glock:

But they think it is.

Hey, why not? CNN believed that a post-ban AK couldn't destroy cinderblocks, and pre-ban AK's were fully automatic.

There's not a single recreational shooter working at CNN, is there?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"...as if it were something ominous."

Megan McArdle links to this CNN story that reports:
Steven Kazmierczak had been taking three drugs prescribed for him by his psychiatrist, the Northern Illinois University gunman's girlfriend told CNN.

Jessica Baty said Tuesday that her boyfriend of two years had been taking Xanax, used to treat anxiety, and Ambien, a sleep agent, as well as the antidepressant Prozac.
The first question I had upon hearing about the shooting was "I, for one, wonder if the shooter was on anti-depressants."

Megan doesn't see it that way:
This is being reported as if it were something ominous, perhaps the cause of the tragedy. This seems a little much. It's not exactly shocking to find out that people who go on shooting sprees are often depressed, anxious types with difficulty sleeping.
Megan seems to be missing the point. This kind of rampage murder/suicide was extremely rare. It has since become something that occurs two, three, or four times a year. Everybody asks "what changed?" Most seem to blame "the number of guns" or "gun availability," but the fact of the matter is that "gun availability" has never been the issue - guns have always been available. Some people blame violent video games, but there doesn't seem to be a correlation there.

The one thing that seems to be consistent is that the shooters are often on (or recently off of) medications like Prozac. According to this NY Times piece:
Over the years, the antidepressant Prozac and its cousins, including Paxil and Zoloft, have been linked to suicide and violence in hundreds of patients. Tens of millions of people have taken them, and doctors say it is almost impossible to tell whether the spasms of violence stem in part from drug reactions or the underlying illnesses.
Tens of millions. Well, gee, how many "rampage shootings" did the U.S. (or the world, for that matter) see prior to the widespread use of these drugs, and how many do we see now? And if these drugs affect only 1/100 of 1% of people this way, that's 1,000 out of every 10,000,000.

So yes, Megan, many of us are wondering if Prozac wasn't a contributor to Kazmierczak's decision to murder a bunch of college students and then kill himself. The correlation seems to point in that direction.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Quote of the Day.
I raised my eyebrow so violently it probably made a noise.
From this Reason Online "Hit & Run" post.

(Too busy with personal things to blog. This will have to do.)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Quote of the Day.
I'm enjoying this Democratic primary, as it seems to be causing our friends to the left to notice phenomena that they had previously pooh-poohed. - Instapundit on the Left's infighting over the Democratic primaries
Don't worry, Professor. After it's all settled, they'll deny it all again. Like a Terminator, it's what they do. It's all they do. And they never, ever stop.

(Hey, I'm making a habit of the QotD thing!)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Book Meme.

This one's been all over the web. Nobody tagged me with it (that I know of) but I like it, and I thought I'd respond to it:

Which [type of] book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?

Anything on Oprah's list(s).

If you could bring three [fictional] characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be?

Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan in his position as Imperial Auditor; S.M. Stirling's Raj Ammenda Halgern Da Luis Whitehall; and R.A. Heinlein's Mycroft Holmes. Mike could come along by satellite relay, and we could plot and carry out the conquering of the planet!

You are told you can't die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realize it's past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?

That was Samuel R. Delany's Dahlgren. I read it until I saw the bright light, and then I put it down.

Come on, we've all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you've read, when in fact you’ve been nowhere near it?

None. If I haven't read it, I say so.

As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realize when you read a review about it/go to 'reread' it that you haven't? Which book?

Nope.

You've been appointed Book Adviser to a VIP (who’s not a big reader). What's the first book you'd recommend and why? (if you feel like you’d have to know the person, go ahead of personalize the VIP).

Depends on the VIP. If it's a politician, Bill Whittle's Silent America. The "why" is self-explanatory.

A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with?

Oy. I don't have enough time to read the stuff I want to that's in English. I'd say Latin. There's a bunch of Roman-era stuff that would be interesting in the original, and French, Italian, and Spanish are all latin-based, which would make picking those languages up much simpler.

Alternately, Mandarin Chinese.

A mischievous fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick?

Frank Herbert's Dune, if I'm going to read for pleasure. I reread it about every five years as it is.

I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What's one bookish thing you 'discovered' from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)?

I read a huge amount of non-fiction now that I never would have read before, and it is spurred exclusively from me wanting to know more about the subjects that interest me that I've found through blogging.

That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she's granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leather bound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favorite authors have inscribed their works?

Realistically, I prefer paperbacks for their handiness and compactness. If I could have a "dream library, all my books would be paperback-sized printed on archival acid-free paper and archival bound.
Quote of the Day.
Let me know when you stop regarding us religious types as ignorant, irrational subhumans.
Francis Porretto, proprietor of Eternity Road (which I have listed on the sidebar under "True Excellence," BTW) from a comment to yesterday's QotD.

Compare and contrast that with this comment by Sarah, of the blog Carnaby Fudge:
"What has been your best blogging experience?"

Arguing with Kevin from The Smallest Minority over religion and philosophy.
Things that make you go, "Hmmmmm....."

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Quote of the Day.
(A)t heart, most US citizens are libertarians by default - it is simply that most of them have "pet" projects they consider to be exceptions. Libertarianism is political atheism, and, to paraphrase Dawkins, everyone is a libertarian on most subjects, some just go one political project further.
"Adirian" in a comment to the post Really, It's Worse Than That.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Compare and Contrast.

A while back, City Journal ran a piece entitled The Myth of the Working Poor (which I highly recommend, BTW). Here's an excerpt:
Books like Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed and David Shipler's The Working Poor tell us that the poor are doing exactly what America expects of them—finding jobs, rising early to get to work every day, chasing the American dream—but that our system of "carnivorous capitalism" is so heavily arrayed against them that they can't rise out of poverty or live a decent life. These new anthems of despair paint their subjects as forced off welfare by uncompassionate conservatives and trapped in low-wage jobs that lead nowhere. They claim, too, that the good life that the country's expanding middle class enjoys rests on the backs of these working poor and their inexpensive labor, so that prosperous Americans owe them more tax-funded help.

Though these books resolutely ignore four decades' worth of lessons about poverty, they have found a big audience. The commentariat loves them. Leftish professors have made them required course reading. And Democratic candidates have made their themes central to the 2004 elections.
And they're still using it today.
Like communists who claim that communism didn't fail but instead was never really tried, Barbara Ehrenreich made her public debut with an attempt to brush aside the War on Poverty's obviously catastrophic results. The 46-year-old daughter of a Montana copper miner-turned-business executive, she joined Cloward and Piven to co-author a 1987 polemic, The Mean Season: The Attack on the Welfare State. The War on Poverty had failed so far, the book claimed, not because of its flawed premises but because the government hadn't done enough to redistribute the nation's wealth. America needed an even bigger War on Poverty that would turn the country into a European-style social welfare state. Pooh-poohing the work ethic and the dignity of labor, the authors derided calls for welfare reform that would require recipients to work, because that would be mortifying to the poor. "There is nothing ennobling about being forced to please an employer to feed one's children," the authors wrote, forgetting that virtually every worker and business owner must please someone, whether boss or customer, to earn a living. Welfare's true purpose, the book declared, should be to "permit certain groups to opt out of work." (The authors never explained why all of us shouldn't demand the right to "opt out.")
What a surprise.
Her 1989 book, Fear of Falling: The Inner Life of the Middle Class, blamed poverty's continued existence in America partly on the Me Generation, which Tom Wolfe had so brilliantly made interesting to the nation. America's emerging professional middle class had started out hopefully in the 1960s, Ehrenreich claims, the inheritor of a liberating cultural revolution. But because that class depended on intellectual capital to make its living, rather than on income from property or investments, it felt a sharp economic insecurity, which by the late 1980s had made it "meaner, more selfish," and (worse still) "more hostile to the aspirations of the less fortunate," especially in its impatience with welfare.

The book vibrates with Ehrenreich's rage toward middle-class Americans. The middle class, she sneers, obsessively pursues wealth and is abjectly "sycophantic toward those who have it, impatient with those who do not." To Ehrenreich, "The nervous, uphill climb of the professional class accelerates the downward spiral of society as a whole: toward cruelly widening inequalities, toward heightened estrangement along class lines, and toward the moral anesthesia that estrangement requires." Ironically, Ehrenreich's economic prescription for a better America was for government to create one gigantic bourgeoisie: "Tax the rich and enrich the poor until both groups are absorbed into some broad and truly universal middle class. The details are subject to debate."
Aren't they always? Ehrenreich and her ilk would, of course, be the ones doing the taxing and redistributing, since they are The Anointed and know what's best for the rest of us.
Ehrenreich's anger propelled her to write Nickel and Dimed. Beginning life as a piece of "undercover journalism" for Harper's, the 2001 book purports to reveal the truth about poverty in post-welfare reform America. "In particular," Ehrenreich asks in the introduction, how were "the roughly four million women about to be booted into the labor market by welfare reform . . . going to make it on $6 or $7 an hour?"

Nickel and Dimed doesn't fuss much with public-policy agendas, messy economic theories, or basic job numbers. Instead, it gives us Ehrenreich's first-person account of three brief sojourns into the world of the lowest of low-wage work: as a waitress for a low-priced family restaurant in Florida; as a maid for a housecleaning service in Maine; and as a women's-apparel clerk at a Minneapolis Wal-Mart. In her journeys, she meets a lively and sympathetic assortment of co-workers: Haitian busboys, a Czech dishwasher, a cook with a gambling problem, and assorted single working mothers. But the focus is mostly on Ehrenreich, not her colleagues.

The point that Nickel and Dimed wants to prove is that in today's economy, a woman coming off welfare into a low-wage job can't earn enough to pay for basic living expenses. Rent is a burden, Ehrenreich discovers. In Florida, she lands a $500-a-month efficiency apartment; in Maine, she spends $120 a week for a shared apartment in an old motel (she turns down a less expensive room elsewhere because it's on a noisy commercial street); in Minneapolis, she pays $255 a week for a moldy hotel room. These seem like reasonable enough rents, except perhaps for Minneapolis, judging from her description of the place. But with her entry-level wages—roughly the minimum wage (when tips are included) as a waitress, about $6 an hour as a maid, and $7 an hour to start at Wal-Mart—Ehrenreich quickly finds that she'll need a second job to support herself. This seems to startle her, as if holding down two jobs is something new to America. "In the new version of supply and demand," she writes, "jobs are so cheap—as measured by the pay—that a worker is encouraged to take on as many as she possibly can."

What's utterly misleading about Ehrenreich's exposé, though, is how she fixes the parameters of her experiment so that she inevitably gets the outcome that she wants—"proof" that the working poor can't make it.
Here's the point of this post - refutation of Ehrenreich's argument in the form of a similar experiment carried out by someone who intends to see it through honestly: Homeless: Can you build a life from $25? - an article in the Christian Science Monitor. Excerpt:
Alone on a dark gritty street, Adam Shepard searched for a homeless shelter. He had a gym bag, $25, and little else. A former college athlete with a bachelor's degree, Mr. Shepard had left a comfortable life with supportive parents in Raleigh, N.C. Now he was an outsider on the wrong side of the tracks in Charles­ton, S.C.

But Shepard's descent into poverty in the summer of 2006 was no accident. Shortly after graduating from Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass., he intentionally left his parents' home to test the vivacity of the American Dream. His goal: to have a furnished apartment, a car, and $2,500 in savings within a year.

To make his quest even more challenging, he decided not to use any of his previous contacts or mention his education.

During his first 70 days in Charleston, Shepard lived in a shelter and received food stamps. He also made new friends, finding work as a day laborer, which led to a steady job with a moving company.

Ten months into the experiment, he decided to quit after learning of an illness in his family. But by then he had moved into an apartment, bought a pickup truck, and had saved close to $5,000.
Rather different from Ms. Ehrenreich's experience.
The effort, he says, was inspired after reading "Nickel and Dimed," in which author Barbara Ehrenreich takes on a series of low-paying jobs. Unlike Ms. Ehrenreich, who chronicled the difficulty of advancing beyond the ranks of the working poor, Shepard found he was able to successfully climb out of his self-imposed poverty.

He tells his story in "Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream." The book, he says, is a testament to what ordinary Americans can achieve.
Now there's a book that might be worth picking up. Of course, I'm sure Ms. Ehrenreich would claim his experiment didn't prove a thing.

After all, Shepard is a man.

Read the CSM interview. It's worth your time.
Really,.It's Worse Than That


(Click for full size)

Really, it's worse than that.

The stupid people vote in the primaries first.

Both side's primaries.

And, obviously, they outnumber the intelligent people now and have for a while. I blame the public education system, and have for a long while.

It's easier to lead stupid people around than intelligent, informed ones. Here's that Connie du Toit quote again:
The other day our Carpenter’s helper heard me say something along the lines of, "it is difficult to conclude that incompetence is the reason why our public schools have deteriorated. There comes a point where you have to suspect sabotage, or a conspiracy."

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

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

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

The incompetence excuse only works once. Incompetence this great is impossible to attribute to accident.
Amen.

And you may want to give a listen to some sound clips from a recent speech by Michele Obama. I'm fairly certain I don't want my government trying to fix my soul so that the Great Collective functions as she seems to believe it ought to.
Quote of the Day.
You see, I can already predict how things would go if it were demonstrated that anti-depressants have a determinant role in sudden outbursts of homicidal-suicidal violence.

Promotion of responsible use of these drugs? No way.

Pharma companies would be sued nearly out of existence and the use of anti-depressants strictly regulated (some of them may be banned altogether), all to the detriment of those people who'd actually benefit from them. - Fabio C. in a comment to Another Gun Free Zone.
What do you expect in a country where there's one lawyer for every 300 of us? Hey, they gotta eat!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hey!.I Just Realized...

...Bush signed the "economic stimulus package" - i.e. "giving us our money back because we know better how to spend it." I figure the check will arrive in May or June - just in time to pay off my trip to the 2nd Amendment Blog Bash.

I wondered how I was going to pay for that.
Holster Recommendations?.

I need an inside-the-waistband holster for an Officer's-size 1911 (my Ultra CDP). I'd like something that puts some leather between me and the hammer. Any suggestions? And a decent 1.5" gunbelt?
Another Gun Free Zone Does its Job.
Gunman Opens Fire at Northern Illinois University

A heavily armed man burst into a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University this afternoon and opened fire, wounding as many as 18 people, four of them critically, before taking his own life, authorities said.
According to radio reports, "heavily armed" was a shotgun and a pistol.
The shooter, a thin white male dressed in black and wearing a stocking cap, went into Cole Hall on the university's campus in DeKalb, entered a science class through an emergency door and began shooting at students and a teacher, witnesses told a local radio station and a student newspaper.
Well, at least we're back to the "angry white male" demographic.
There was conflicting information on fatalities. A hospital reported that there were none besides the gunman, but the Chicago Tribune quoted the campus police chief as saying four of the shooter's victims had died.
Last I'd heard there were 17 victims, three critical, and the only dead was the shooter (not included in the 17.) However, those three were head wounds. I expect more fatalities.
NIU campus police chief Donald Grady told reporters that the gunman apparently had a shotgun and two handguns, including a Glock, but that only one of the handguns was immediately recovered. He said the shooter, who appeared to have been acting alone, had not expended all of his ammunition.
Which matches the radio report with the exception of the extra handgun.
School officials said they knew of no motive for the shooting. The gunman does not appear to have been a student at the university but may have been a student somewhere else, they said. He emerged from behind a curtain near the stage and began firing, they said. The man has been identified, but his identity has not yet been released.

"This is a tragedy, but from all indications we did everything we could when we found out," Peters said. "Our security people were there right away."
Yes, when seconds count, the authorities are only minutes away.
Grady said police officers were at the scene within two minutes of the shooting and that a campus-wide alert was issued within 15 minutes.
As I said...

And once again a rampage shooting ends when the shooter decides he's done.

According to this story, there have been four fatalities in addition to the shooter, but this is the part that sticks with me:
Katie Wagner, a student who was inside the classroom, tells CBS 2 that there were 70 students inside room 101 at Cole Hall when the shooting happened. She said the gunman entered from a side door near the front of the lecture hall and started to fire shots.

She described the gunman as white, tall, skinny and wearing a black tee shirt - and maybe something red.

She said she went to the ground immediately and just started staring at the floor.
Waiting to die.

I am reminded once again of Tam's declaration:
I ain't goin' out like that. Whether it's some Columbine wannabe who's heard the backward-masked messages on his Marilyn Manson discs, distressed daytrader off his Prozac, homegrown Hadji sympathetic with his oppressed brothers in Baghdad, or a bugnuts whackjob picking up Robert Frost quotes transmitted from Langley on the fillings in his molars, I am going to do my level best to smoke that goblin before my carcass goes on the pile. I am not going to go out curled into a fetal ball and praying for help that won't arrive in time.

--

Even if the police are right there, it might not do me any good. Heck, I might not do me any good. But, dammit, I am going to try.
There doesn't seem to be much of that attitude in today's youth.

Expect there to be immediate blaming of the guns for this.

I, for one, wonder if the shooter was on anti-depressants.

UPDATE: From ABC News:
Stephen Kazmierczak, the 27-year-old who opened fire on a crowded Northern Illinois University lecture hall, killing five and then himself Thursday, was described as "fairly normal" and an "unstressed person" by NIU campus Police Chief Donald Grady.

But in the last few weeks his behavior had become erratic, according to Grady, and it is believed the Kazmierczak had stopped taking his medication. The type of medication he was on is unknown.



UPDATE II: According to the same report, the shooter purchased two of his four firearms last Saturday, from a licensed dealer in Champaign. According to this report, it was nine days ago.

Illinois has a 24 hour waiting period for long gun purchases, and a 72 hour waiting period for handguns. I'd assume he started the purchase nine days ago and picked them up on Saturday after the 72 hour waiting period for the handgun.

Boy, that waiting period really helped.
Quote of the Day.
"There is something about a Republican that you can only stand him just so long; and on the other hand, there is something about a Democrat that you can't stand him quite that long." Will Rogers
Found at my boss's blog. (I didn't know he had one until today!)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Quote of the Day.
I don't have MDS (McCain Derangement Syndrome)...but I'm not dazzled by the image of McCain as President.
It's not good when your candidate's slogans could be:

Meh, you could do worse.

or

Meh, he's not that bad, I guess.

While the Democrats with Obama are selling Hope and Change!!!, we're dealing in meh.

We are screwed.
From a comment by "Mumblix Grumph" at American Digest

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Personally, I Think "Violence Policy Center" is a HELL of a Name

for a gun store!

They could use Jeff Cooper's quote on "violence policy" in their advertising:
One bleeding-heart type asked me in a recent interview if I did not agree that "violence begets violence." I told him that it is my earnest endeavor to see that it does. I would like very much to ensure—and in some cases I have—that any man who offers violence to his fellow citizen begets a whole lot more in return than he can enjoy.
Life Intrudes.

Remember my long-range rifle? The one I bought back in NOVEMBER? I've got it back from refinishing, and I have a scope base for it, but I have yet to purchase a scope for it.

Glass is expensive.

I thought I was at the point where I could afford to drop some fairly serious cash on one, but I need new glasses for my Eyeball Mk. I's, so I had my (bi-)annual eye exam today. (BTW, my eyes SUCK.)

My new glasses cost as much as a decent scope.

All I've got to say is, when they come in they'd better be 4.5-14X and have a mill-dot reticle!

(My eyes have finally returned from being fully dialated, so I can actually read the screen now.)
Truth.

Also via Tam, American Thinker's Conservative Grief. Must-read.

I'm more of a libertarian, but he's right on the money.
Quote of the Day.

From Tam:
Look, if I want to read about failed relationships, career problems, family struggles, and substance abuse, I'll write a friggin' diary. The characters in the books I like to read have problems, too, but they usually solve them with laser beams or tactical nuclear warheads. I read these books because I wish I could solve my problems that way, too. This is called "escapism", and is why most folks seek entertainment in the first place.
Hear hear!

This was almost the QotD, from the same post:
See, housing costs money, and you need a house to keep your books in so that they don't get wet or blow around too much. If it weren't for books you wouldn't need a house and could just live under a bridge someplace, which is a lot cheaper and would therefore allow you to retire now.
My only argument with that is that my house also keeps my guns dry and rust-free. Other than that, no quibbles.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Quote of the Day.

From this PSH story linked to by many concerning a "buy-back" (how can they "buy back" what they never sold in the first place?) in which anti-gun California State Senate President pro-tem Don Perata "sold back" a .357 Magnum revolver, but admits he keeps a shotgun at home for protection.

But what's the QotD? This:
Perata introduced the program last month at a news conference outside the Piedmont Avenue piano store where 10-year-old Christopher Rodriguez was hit during a piano lesson by a stray bullet fired during a nearby robbery. He was left partially paralyzed.

"What happened to Christopher is sad," said Perata. "Guns are causing this kind of violence everywhere, and we have to stop it."
So long as you keep misidentifying the cause, you're never going to stop it.

There's a second interesting part to this story, as well. Perata turned in his revolver but,
He said he had a permit to carry a concealed handgun until it lapsed a few years ago.
Must be nice to be connected. However:
In December, a gun-wielding man robbed Perata of his sporty state-leased car at a red light in North Oakland.

"Nothing brings it home like having a gun pointed 6 inches from your face," he said.
Right. Well, at least you've made sure you can't defend yourself on the street, so if "giving them what they want" isn't enough...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Quote of the Day.

Via Shooting the Messenger from the NY Post op-ed, Fools Rush In:
Conservatives are one Justice away from completing the tantalizing half-century project to get the Supreme Court to stop using the Constitution as an Etch-a-Sketch for their ideas about right and wrong.
Fits disagrees with the op-ed, but that one pull-quote says a lot.
Better Connected to Reality.

Zendo Deb links to a truly surprising Cincinnati Enquirer piece on concealed carry, Concealed-carry course graduates are armed but not dangerous. Apparently the editors of the CI didn't get the Editor & Publisher 1993 memo that urged other editors to "step up the war against guns."

I'm going to reproduce the whole thing here for archival purposes:
On a cold and early Saturday morning, the class at Scarlet Oaks in Sharonville begins the usual way. Students take their seats and the instructor introduces himself.

Then he makes an announcement: "No guns today."

"Did anyone bring their gun in?" he asks. Nobody raises a hand. Good. The shooting starts Sunday morning.

A few plan to bring .22 revolvers. A man with a neatly trimmed gray beard says he and his daughter will use .38s. Others mention Colts, Smith & Wessons, a .32 Beretta. A big man across the room says he's bringing a 1911 Colt .45, and he's not talking about malt liquor.

"That's a man's gun," says the instructor, retired FBI agent Dennis R. Lengle.

I don't have a man's gun. I don't even have a woman's gun or a "mouse gun," which is what serious shooters call .22s. I don't have any gun at all. But the Great Oaks Police Academy Concealed Carry Course has a great deal. For $25, I can rent a Smith & Wesson .38 revolver and get 200 rounds - cheaper than cartridges alone.

There's a 20-something couple in the back, but most of my classmates are 40s and 50s, I'd guess. A man in bib overalls wants to legally carry the gun he uses on his farm. A husband and wife own a business. One man tells me his kids are grown and he's interested in shooting. Another guy says during a break that he worries about being mugged when he goes for walks. He says he has no doubt he'd use a gun if he has to.

But a few hours later, after we've been through the legal minefield and gritty details of what "controlled expansion" hollow-points do to a body, someone half jokes, "I'm not so sure I want to do this anymore."

I understand.

The course is excellent. We start by naming the parts of a cartridge, a revolver and a semi-automatic pistol, then move on to 25 true-false questions on dozens of topics. "Being armed is a tremendous responsibility," it says. True.

And while police cadets open fire at the indoor range across the hall, making muffled bangs like someone pounding a file cabinet with a ball bat, Lengle targets safety, safety and more safety.

He tells true stories of stupid gun tricks by trained lawmen who shot the carpet in their office, or put a 9mm round into their neighbor's car - through their own house and the garage next door. Lengle has our attention. During the state-mandated 12 hours of instruction, all 17 students are riveted.
This surprised me - using stupid cop tricks to illustrate that even supposedly well-trained people can be idiots, and a badge is no guarantee of infallibility.
In cover and tactics, Lengle warns that a doorway is a "vertical coffin," a "fatal funnel" for anyone silhouetted in its frame. If an intruder ignores warnings and keeps coming, "immediate incapacitation is your only goal."

And that requires accuracy.

So Sunday morning we go to the range. I start out jumpy, but get the hang of it and pass all the tests, hitting paper outlines of bad guys from five, 10, 15 and 20 feet.

Safety is drilled in as loud and clear as that booming 1911 Colt, which barks with deep authority, even through ear protection.

Everyone passes. Nobody gets hurt. From what I can tell, legal concealed carry is nothing like the anti-gun crowd made it sound when Kentucky and Ohio passed laws in 1999 and 2004. There are no cowboys. No wild shootouts. No blood in the gutters, as gun-banners predicted. Just law-abiding adults who want to exercise their Second Amendment right to self-defense.
(Emphasis mine.) That floors me, coming from a big-city newspaper.
As we're leaving, classmate Jim Hansel, who lives "out in the country," tells me about the night he woke up to a break-in. He called 911, told his son to take cover and waited on his couch with a shotgun. He warned he would shoot, but the guy kept coming until the cops arrived, 40 minutes later. "He had seven outstanding warrants for automatic weapons use," Hansel says, shaking his head.

Now Hansel has a certificate to get a concealed carry permit from his county sheriff. "It gives me knowledge and confidence," he said. "Most people are afraid of guns because of what they don't know."
Ditto.
If every gun owner took a class like this, we'd all be safer. But meth-heads, crack junkies and street muggers don't take classes. They don't get permits or certificates like the one Lengle gave me Sunday. They just grab a "nine" and use it against defenseless victims.

Each month another concealed-carry class graduates from Scarlet Oaks. And the bad guys are a little less sure their next victim is defenseless.
Perhaps there is some hope of sanity after all.

The author is Peter Bronson, pbronson@enquirer.com if you'd like to drop him a thank-you note.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

You Want Gun Pr0n?.

Via Cowboy Blob, you've GOT to check out this estate auction. Six hundred and seventy-two (so far) pieces ranging from the merely rare to the exotic to almost literally unobtanium. Everything from Perazzi shotguns to a Ma Deuce. A 20-round box magazine fed scoped 1903 Springfield (yes, you read that right) to a Boyes .55 caliber anti-tank rifle. Check this out: there's both a Lahti AND a Solothurn. And don't get me started on the pistols!

The original owner must have been collecting for decades. UPDATE: He was. He was Bruce Stern, attorney (of course) and NRA director who died last July. It must've taken this long just to catalog everything. Dave Hardy said about him last July:
I have been honored to have Bruce Stern as a personal friend for the last 40 years. We met on our first day of active duty in the Army at Ft Lee Va, and served together at Long Binh in Vietnam. I accompanied him several times on "shopping" trips for weapons both in the States and in VN. He was truly passionate about firearms collecting, and I sorely miss him. Rest in peace my friend
Oh how I wish I could win the lottery!

(Tam will be disappointed - he apparently didn't collect Smiths.)
From Comments:.

In the comments to Still a Man Hears What He Wants to Hear... below, Markadelphia responds (stereotypically) with:
So, this piece begs the question...what if guns were allowed in schools and people chose not to carry one? Would that person be a moron? Is anyone that choses not to arm themselves stupid?
My reply:

Mark, as noted in the piece, 97-99% of the eligible population chooses not to get a CCW permit in the first place. In 2006 there were approximately 836,000 sworn full-time police officers in the U.S. according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Approximately 70% of those are "field" officers, as opposed to desk officers, so that brings the number down to about 585,000. Split by three shifts, and you get about 200,000 officers "on the street" at any particular time.

Divide that up among a population of 300,000,000 and there is one cop for every 1,500 of us. Obviously we don't have a uniform distribution of either population or police officers, but still, you can see why police officers so seldom prevent or stop a crime in progress, they show up afterwards usually to take a report.

"Most Americans," Mark, don't think about it. Many do, and weigh the odds of needing a firearm against the irritation and responsibility of actually carrying one, and decide that they like their chances. (And carrying a firearm is a pain in the ass.) I'm OK with that. It's called rational decision-making. You pays your money and you takes your chances.

Some people are like Barry - terrified of the responsibility and convinced that they are not mature and competent enough to be trusted with a firearm. I'm OK with that, too so long as they do not work to deny me the right to choose for myself.

Consciously choosing not to carry is not a mark of stupidity. Not considering the question is, however.

As noted above, there are about 836,000 sworn officers in the U.S. - that's about 0.3% of the total population. If 1% of the general adult population (which the CDC estimates at about 210,000,000) chose to carry concealed, an additional 2.1 million people would be out there, armed in defense of themselves and (one would hope) their neighbors.

Out of every 100 teachers and administrators, one would probably be armed, familiar with the school and staff, and on site if anything should happen that would require armed response - because when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

It's not stupid to decide to go unarmed in this world, Markadelphia. It IS stupid (and in my view, evil) to deny people the CHOICE.
Leibowitz Does it Again!.

Bob Leibowitz has reviewed the Gura & Possessky responding brief in D.C. v Heller, and done a bang-up job of it so I don't have to. Hell, go to the main page and just start reading.

Friday, February 08, 2008

I Am an Odd Bugger...

On the flight home this morning, I saw an ad in the in-flight magazine, a variation on this one that Vox found last year, only in this ad the wording was changed a bit, and the picture was a combination photo/MRI/Da Vinci anatomical illustration.

In this ad the question asked was "How does a 67 year old man have the body of a 30 year old?"

Without hesitation, my twisted mind responded "Cut into steaks, chops, and roasts and stored in a freezer in his basement?"

Still the Man Hears What He Wants to Hear and Disregards the Rest...


(with apologies to Simon & Garfunkel)

Markadelphia dropped this in a comment on the post about the school shooting in Portsmith Ohio:
So, there were guns there and nothing could be done to stop it. Having people armed in schools will prevent nothing. While I think that if many people here were armed in a school would be responsible, most Americans, unlike Israelis, are fucking morons who jump at their own shadow and would probably shoot someone by accident. Simply put, I don't trust most American and I don't think you do either, Kevin, as evidenced by your writings.
Let us parse:
So, there were guns there and nothing could be done to stop it.
Really? You again exhibit your God-like powers of prescience and prognostication. Wherever do you find those? Is there a pill?
Having people armed in schools will prevent nothing.
Is that so? Well it is difficult to "prove a negative." The probability that such an incident doesn't happen because a gunman was dissuaded due to the fact that one of his victims might shoot back (or first) is, admittedly, impossible to calculate. Oregon school teacher Shirley Katz seems to believe with a weapon she could prevent her ex-husband from doing something unpleasant to her (since restraining orders are essentially tissue paper and she knows it), but the law requires her to be a disarmed target while she's at work.

Just like Christi Layne.

However, it's never really been that much about prevention, Markadelphia, it's been about attenuation. Only two things will stop a rampage shooter - either he (or she) decides they're done, or someone with a gun stops them.

As Tam put it so eloquently after the Montreal college shooting in 2006:
I ain't goin' out like that. Whether it's some Columbine wannabe who's heard the backward-masked messages on his Marilyn Manson discs, distressed daytrader off his Prozac, homegrown Hadji sympathetic with his oppressed brothers in Baghdad, or a bugnuts whackjob picking up Robert Frost quotes transmitted from Langley on the fillings in his molars, I am going to do my level best to smoke that goblin before my carcass goes on the pile. I am not going to go out curled into a fetal ball and praying for help that won't arrive in time.

--

Even if the police are right there, it might not do me any good. Heck, I might not do me any good. But, dammit, I am going to try. If a 51 year-old nurse can overcome a hammer-wielding psycho with her bare hands, the least I can do is go out on my feet. I'm not going to wait for the coup de grace under a desk; I'm not going get in the abductor's car; I'm not going to comply with their demands; I'm not going gently.
Help in this case didn't arrive in time to stop the shooter before he decided he was finished, nor did it in the Baton Rouge shooting yesterday, but it did in the City Hall shooting in Missouri. There's no way to know how many people Charles Lee 'Cookie' Thornton intended to kill before he decided he was finished, is there?

But now we get to the heart of the matter:
While I think that if many people here were armed in a school would be responsible, most Americans, unlike Israelis, are fucking morons who jump at their own shadow and would probably shoot someone by accident. Simply put, I don't trust most American and I don't think you do either, Kevin, as evidenced by your writings.
Then you've not been reading what I've been writing. (There's a surprise.)

Prior to Florida starting the current trend in 1987, there were eight "shall-issue" states, where citizens who applied for a CCW permit and who passed a background check and a minor licensing requirement had to be issued a permit. It was not at the discretion of local law enforcement to deny. Vermont has always been a "no permit required" state. Seventeen states were "no issue" - you couldn't get a CCW at all. Since then the number of "shall issue" states has increased to 37, Alaska has joined Vermont in not requiring a permit, and only two states remain "no issue."

In each of the states where "shall issue" is the law, approximately 1-3% of the eligible population jumps through the relatively minor hoops in order to get a permit. The number of people who actually carry is unknown. What we do know is that those people are remarkably law-abiding. They are much less likely to be arrested for anything than the general population.

In point of fact, they do not "jump at their own shadow" or "shoot someone by accident" - at least if they do shoot someone by accident, it's at rates far below those of police officers. It is a fact that the worst thing you can say about "shall issue" concealed-carry legislation is that it might not have contributed to the decline in violent crime during the same period. In state after state, opponents to the laws have had to admit that none of the "blood in the streets" and "shootouts over fender-bender" fearmongering came true.

You're right, Markadelphia, I don't trust "most Americans," and with reason. Apparently "most Americans" are like you. But I do trust those who get CCW permits far above and beyond "most Americans" because - for the overwhelming majority - they've given thought to their own protection, and understand that the police can't be everywhere, all the time. They are connected to reality in a way "most Americans" really aren't.

And if you're interested in the efficacy of concealed carry, I suggest you peruse the archives of Clayton Cramer's Civilian Gun Self-Defense blog. Admittedly, the number of CCW defensive gun uses are low, but they do happen.

Contrast Tam's words above with these of Barry of Inn of the Last Home from a while back:
I just...I just blink my eyes in amazement everytime this crops up - actually watching people feel the need to carry a concealed weapon in public...

If I were to take a live, armed weapon and carry it on my person, in public, it would eat away at my sanity just as if it were emitting lethal radiation. To know that I carried an instrument of sure and certain death on my person, available and ready to be pulled out and used at a moment's notice to possibly kill...a child. A homeless person. An innocent.

Obviously that is not your intent. You want to protect yourself - maybe that is how you feel in California. But being brought up in Eastern Tennessee I've never once felt the need to protect myself from imminent bodily harm in public. And if I were aware of a location that might be unduly hazardous - a dark alley, a badly lighted parking area - I would avoid it. I've never been mugged, nor can I readily pull up a name of any person I've ever met that's been mugged or even bodily threatened in my whole life.

What scares me most is the arbitrary nature of self-defense. What line must be crossed to signal to you that there is imminent danger or threat? Is it a criminal pulling a gun on you? In which case, unless you're a gunslinger, you're not going to outdraw him. Is it someone pulling a knife? Threatening words? Bad language or rude gestures? Where is that one point where you decide, "Yes, my life or the life of my loved ones is in danger and I must now take it upon myself to take the life of another person." What if the guy is reaching into his jacket, and you are sure, absolutely certain that it is a weapon. You pull your gun and shoot--and see he's reaching for his wallet. Or worse, you miss and hit a child running in the street. Where is that line?

The radiation would rot my brain and I would never be able to live with myself.

Maybe it's different in California. Maybe it's different in Tennessee. Maybe I don't love my family enough...maybe I love them too much. But I know myself, and know that if I surrendered to the paranoia - and I mean that in the most basic sense - there would be no turning back.
You can bet your ass I don't trust him to make decisions for me.

UPDATE:  Original JSKit/Echo comment thread is available here. Thank you, John Hardin.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Great Company.

I just got back from dinner with Matthew of Triggerfinger (again) and KevinP, the guy who maintains this outstanding Wikipedia page on The Joyce Foundation. Kevin is also one of us gunnies who take newbies out to the range for the first time. We had a good dinner and great conversation. Damn, it's nice to sit down and talk with people who know the topic and are as involved and passionate about it as I am.

Unfortunately I have to get up at 5:00AM tomorrow (4:00AM Arizona time) to catch my flight back, so this is it until the weekend. Good trip, and meeting new people (never my strong suit) has been an enjoyable experience.
Wow. Those "Gun Free School Zones" Really Work, Huh?

About as well as restraining orders, apparently:
Suspect in Ohio School Shooting Dies

PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — A teacher's husband charged into her fifth-grade classroom Thursday morning, then stabbed and shot her as students watched, police said. He later was found dead in his home after apparently shooting himself during a standoff with police.

The teacher, Christi Layne, was in critical condition at Cabell Huntington Hospital in nearby Huntington, W.Va., a hospital spokeswoman said.

The shooting happened around 9 a.m. at Notre Dame Elementary, a Catholic school on the main road of a town in southern Ohio near the border. Student Emmaly Baker said she hid in the classroom's coatroom when the gunman came in.

"We heard gunshots, and we heard her yelling. I was scared," she told WSAZ-TV. "The police officer came and got us and she was still laying there and she was hurt really bad."

The suspect fled, and for hours after the shooting, a SWAT team surrounded a house about two miles away. Neighbors said they heard gunshots coming from the home and police firing back. Police Chief Charles Horner said after the conflict ended that the man apparently shot himself.
SayUncle linked to a particularly appropriate piece of black humor today:
New Iraqi Law Requires Waiting Period For Suicide Vest Purchases
Yeah. That pretty much covers it.

Look to "lax gun laws" to be blamed for this incident as well.
A Pleasant Evening.

I had a very pleasant evening with Sarah "Stickwick Stapers" and her husband last night. Dinner at The County Line, and then a little star, planet, and nebula gazing through one of the UT Austin Astronomy Dept. telescopes. Mars was a blob, but Saturn was quite beautiful. I was reminded of an art print I have, Sword of Herschel, a piece done by a Tucson artist, Kim Poor.


Click for larger image

We then returned to the restaurant parking lot where I'd left my car and stood around talking until almost 11:00. We would have done it longer if we didn't all need to get up early this morning.

Now I get to add Sarah to the list of "bloggers I've met." And no, we didn't discuss religion!
Craptastic.

Well, Mitt has put his campaign on "hold" (i.e.: I quit, but didn't really say so). Huckabee doesn't have a prayer outside the Bible-belt, so that pretty much means that John McCain is a shoe-in for the Republican nomination.

If Hillary wins the Democratic nomination, it will be a horse-race to see which horse's-ass crosses the finish line first.

If Obama wins the Democratic nomination, I think he'll be the next President of the United States. Put him next to McCain on a stage and a public obsessed with American Idol ain't going to pick the cadaver.

Here's what each means, insofar as I can tell.

McCain: He'll keep us in Iraq until it's stable, even if that lasts throughout his term (I sincerely believe he's only going to get one.)

He MIGHT select decent judges for federal benches up to and including SCOTUS.

He will try to "work with the Democrats Left". The Republican Party will lurch even further Left with him.

"Immigration Reform"? Essentially open borders, and amnesty for everyone.

Hillary: We'll probably stay in Iraq until she can pull the troops out without looking like an international loser.

She WILL select Leftist judges who will be hell to stop, and who are perfectly comfortable wiping their asses with the Constitution.

She will LEAD the Democrats to even more social entitlement programs, greater spending, higher taxes, and the beating of the taxpayers will continue until morale improves. She may get two terms, too.

Either Hillary or one of her appointed Federal judges will find some way to foist "universal health care" on us all with her blessings.

Bill Clinton will be in the White House - again. Some fear he will be appointed to some high office or another. I think it's a reasonable fear. Hillary would probably like to get rid of him once she achieves her life's dream.

Obama: As CIC, I have no doubt that he'll yank our troops out of Iraq immediately, and then ignore whatever happens in Iraq, placing the blame on the Iraqi authorities for not taking care of their problems themselves. Expect a new wave of "boat people."

Immigration reform? Hell if I know.

Social programs? I think he's even farther Left than Hillary.

If either Hillary or Obama wins, I expect there to be a great exodus from the military. McCain? I don't know.

I have concluded, however, that Confederate Yankee has the right of it:
McCain for President. Or we're really screwed.
I expect to see that on bumper stickers very shortly.

I'm almost 46 years old. The next Presidential election will be 2012 and I will be 50. I'm getting too old for this sh!t.

I think it's past time that the Republican Party went the way of the Whigs, because if America doesn't get off its collective ass and continue to support individualism, personal responsibility, capitalism, and individual rights, it appears that no one is going to.
Last Meal in Austin, TX.

OK, the arrangements for tonight are:

Dinner, 7:00PM at the Iron Cactus on Stonelake Blvd.

The relatively late start will give everyone a chance to get there (I hope). Looks like there will be at least three besides me. Please RSVP in comments if you can. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Thursday Night Blogmeet.in Austin?

Reader KevinP suggested via email that we get together Thursday night for dinner and conversation, along with anybody else who'd like to attend. I think that's a great idea. Please leave comments suggesting a location and an RSVP. We're planning on meeting for dinner wherever about 6:30PM.

So what say you, Austinites?

Monday, February 04, 2008

No John McCain - Better Stated.

Bill Quick does a detailed fact-filled analysis of why John McCain should be the LAST choice for President in his post john mccain: the list of infamy (I don't know why Bill is channeling ee cummings). I strongly suggest you read it if you haven't.

Apparently Ann Coulter has.
Well This is Shaping Up Nicely...

Dinner tonight with Triggerfinger, and dinner and stargazing with Stickwick and her husband on Wednesday.

This blogging thing has great fringe benefits! Everywhere you go, you "know" somebody!

UPDATE: Just got back from a pleasant dinner with Triggerfinger. Now I know why I own a pickup truck instead of a 'Vette - my ass slides straight onto the seat of the pickup. I have to climb down into the pavement to get into a 'Vette.

Good food, good conversation. Beats the hell out of trying to read a book in insufficient light.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

On the Road Again...

I'm in Austin, Texas through Thursday for some software training. First impressions: flat, warm, muggy. And it's supposed to rain tomorrow. My hotel room was 83°F when I checked in. The A/C's been running an hour now and it's still 79°. Wait... 78°. Woohoo!

So, any bloggers/readers in the Austin area? What is there for a non-drinking, crowd-hating, unarmed gunblogger to do here in his off-hours? Any restaurant recommendations? I've got five nights to kill, and Showtime®™ looks like it's going to wear very thin very fast. I brought two books, but I think I'll have finished them by Wednesday.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Quote of the Day.

From House of Eratosthenes, where I need to spend some time perusing the archives:
Today's Best Sentence I've Heard or Read Lately (BSIHORL) award goes to Ramesh Ponnuru, writing in the National Review Online, who writes about Caroline Kennedy's Political Romanticism

She says that Obama could be a president like her father. I assume that means that he'll be overrated, not that he'll bring us to the brink of nuclear war.
I don't know about that. Obama seems to have some curious ideas about how to deal with Pakistan....
Movie Gun Meme.

The day before yesterday The Munchkin Wrangler wrote about the best movie prop ever - the M41-A pulse rifle from Aliens. Yesterday, Jay G wrote about his personal movie prop, Judge Dredd's "Lawgiver." Today, Say Uncle linked to both of those, and threw in his personal favorite, the gun used by Robocop.

A long time ago I wrote about movie prop guns, too, and coincidentally one of them was from Aliens...

Plus, I was reminded by all of this of the piece I wrote about the making of Aliens about a year later.

UPDATE: Cryptic Suberranean votes for Decker's "Chief's Special" from Bladerunner.