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

Saturday, May 31, 2008

More from the Petri Dish

More from the Petri Dish...

...that resides where Great Britain used to be. Via The Policeman's Blog comes this cheerful bit of news:
Firefighters attacked at least 40 times a week

By Norman D. Landings ⋅ February 11, 2008
News to me.
Firefighters are being attacked at least 40 times every week, according to shocking new figures published today.

Crews have been pelted with bricks, bottles, burning wood and stones as they try to save lives.

In some cases they have been called to hoax incidents and ambushed, according to the Easy Targets? report, commissioned by the Fire Brigades Union.

In one incident, an entire crew was taken to hospital after a gang armed with sticks and scaffolding poles attacked them.
Unbelievable. Read the Fire Brigades Union web page on this topic.

But here are the key graphs from the story:
The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, are four times the number of attacks recorded by the Government and rose by 15 per cent to 1,500 last year in England and Wales. The total for the UK was 2,100 attacks.

In contrast, official statistics claim assaults fell by 68 per cent to just 400 in 2006/07.
Yet we're supposed to believe that the British government reports on violent and gun-involved crime are accurate?

Go ahead. Pull my other leg.
The highest number of attacks was reported in the North-West of England.

Kevin Brown, from the regional FBU, said sometimes youths started fires just so they could target firefighters.

He added: “It tends to be in areas of social deprivation and poor housing, with gangs of youths fuelled by alcohol and drugs. They see the fire service as a target.”

In Tyne and Wear, crews have even been given 'spit kits' so DNA can be collected from those abusing or spitting at them.
I've covered "spit kits" before. As far as I'm concerned, they ought to be given "broken tooth" kits, so they can pick up the fragments of the teeth they knock out of the people who spit on them for proper forensic matching.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Local Government and Communities said they had not studied the report fully but would be happy to hold talks on tackling the problem.

She added: "This is an important issue and one the Government takes very seriously. It is unacceptable that firefighters should have to face such behaviour."
Yes, I'm sure talking will help.
Firefighters called for more protection following the publishing of the report.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said it is almost "beyond belief" that firemen and women can be attacked so viciously while fighting fires and trying to save lives.

"In some areas, attacking fire crews has become a recreational activity with very serious consequences. It cannot be part of anyone's job to face abuse, threats or attacks.

"The Government needs to take a lead rather than sitting on the sidelines ignoring the problem as it is doing in England. It is a different story in Scotland, Northern Ireland and increasingly in Wales where politicians are playing a more direct and active role."
Talking isn't "taking the lead"?
Research by the FBU showed that last October alone there were a series of attacks against crews across England, including:

• A hoaxer luring firefighters to a "car fire" in Cheshire before attacking them with bricks.

•A petrol bomb thrown at a fire appliance in Merseyside as firemen tackled a rubbish blaze.

•A gas cylinder exploded after being planted inside a wheelie bin and set ablaze in Cleveland.

In Lothian and Borders, incidents have included attacks with hammers, bricks, knives, lumps of concrete and coins while one crew reported that a breeze block was thrown off a bridge onto a fire engine.

Firefighters have ended up in hospital as a result of some of the attacks, which have led to delays of hours in attending emergency calls.

A spokesman for the Communities and Local Government Department said the Government believed the safety of firefighters was an important issue and it was "unacceptable" that crews should have to face attacks.

Legislation had been brought in last year to help the fire service take action against people who assaulted firefighters.

The spokesman said the department had not had a chance to consider the union’s report but would be happy to discuss the next steps with the FBU.
No wonder Brits are abandoning their country at the rate of 400,000 a year, while at the same time non-Europeans are streaming in.

When the Geek with a .45 decided to leave New Jersey for Pennsylvania, he wrote:
All I can say is, if you remember and cherish Liberty, and you live in a place like New Jersey, it's high time to get the hell out of Dodge.

JOIN ME.

We're Not Out of The Woods Yet…

We'll be starting the house hunt after the first of the year. With the miniGeeks, we need a bigger place anyway, and shortly, this will all be a bad dream.

The thing is, I don't think that'll be the happy end of the story. I think the story is just beginning to be told.

As I mentioned to Kim, there is a hidden exodus that you won't read about in the papers:


“People are moving away from certain states: not because they've got a job offer, not because they want to be closer to family, but because the state they are living in doesn't measure up to the level of freedom they believe is appropriate for Americans. We are internal refugees.”


The fact that things have gone so far south in some places that people actually feel compelled to move the fuck out should frighten the almighty piss out of you.
(His emphasis.) The fact that people are abandoning their home country over shit like this ought to frighten the almighty piss out of the ones they're leaving behind.

UPDATE: In comments, Kim du Toit councils, "Let 'em sink."

Damn, that's harsh.

Balkanization

I don't read Tucson's Arizona Daily Star much. It suffers from the same problems that most dead-tree publications around the country do today that are resulting in the spiraling loss of readership and revenue, but every now and then it does something that makes readers remember what local newspapers are really there for - to inform local citizens on what the hell is going on in their town.

Here's an example that I'm going to quote in full for archival purposes. Read and learn what the Tucson Unified School District thinks is a good idea:
TUSD's Raza unit survives under fire
Ethnic studies dept. could grow, reach younger kids
By Rhonda Bodfield

Calls are heating up to kill the Tucson Unified School District's ethnic studies program — at the same time it becomes more likely that the district's most controversial department could expand to reach more, and younger, students.

Critics, from the state's schools chief to lawmakers to conservative talk-show hosts and columnists, have singled out Mexican-American/Raza Studies in particular, saying it's divisive and turns students into angry revolutionaries.
For those unfamiliar, "Raza" is Spanish for "race." The group "La Raza" bills itself as a "civil rights" organization. It is also associated with the racist organization MEChA - Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán. You remember Aztlán, right?

Would we be comfortable with a German-American Studies department that went by "Der Volk"?
But supporters say the program's reach is too limited, given that it boosts student achievement by providing relevant and rigorous work to students all too often overlooked.

In a ruling last month that conditionally lifted the district's decades-old racial balance order, a federal judge noted that "it is unimaginable that the eight-staff Mexican American/Raza Studies department would be capable of serving the (district's) 30,118 Hispanic students."
It is unimaginable to me that a judge would be sanguine about "Race studies" in elementary and secondary education.
TUSD's budget crisis is putting the kibosh on any new money for this coming school year, but Governing Board member Adelita Grijalva says she's committed to seeing the program grow the following year.
Oh, I imagine she is. Adelita is the daughter of U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva. More on this later.
For now, she's asking for a discussion about equity within the ethnic studies' $2.3 million budget, given that African-American Studies gets more funding and staff in a district overwhelmingly Latino.

Raza Studies serves about 500 high school students, who take a four-course block of history, social justice and two Chicano literature classes.
There's that term again - "social justice." I like Eric Schie's take on it:
(T)he left-wing communitarian term "social justice," which, although indefinable, clearly implies that the legal system should be involved in things like property redistribution and "human rights commissions."
History? Actually teaching history would be great, but I imagine they use a text like Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States.
The program should reach younger students, a 2006 outside audit said. Auditors recommended a feeder pipeline starting in the elementary schools.

Although they criticized the African-American, Pan-Asian and Native American departments for too few accountability measures, they lauded Raza Studies as the program's "flagship."

Inside the classroom


It's the end of the school year and Raza Studies students at Tucson High Magnet School are presenting research findings to their principal.

Their PowerPoint presentation is critical of policies toward English learners; some concerns hinge on whether students are funneled to vocational tracks, and some focus on inferior equipment.

Then comes an exploration of classroom décor, with photos of classroom items students consider culturally insensitive.

First up is a baseball poster, which they say should be soccer or rugby to validate other cultures. Next up flashes the Pledge of Allegiance and a patriotic poster featuring the Statue of Liberty, the American flag and an eagle.

"Most of the kids are from a different country, and this is showing them that this is the country that's the greatest and yours doesn't matter," a student maintains.
Kid, you're living HERE. I don't think that schools in Guatemala teach that their country sucks. They teach patriotism, too.
Principal Abel Morado tells the students he disagrees with their perspective. An initial role of public education was to mold a citizenry united under one democratic blanket, he says.

"It's in our DNA in public schools to be sure we're teaching you about being citizens of this nation," Morado says.
The recent California court decision (PDF file) effectively banning homeschooling said very much the same:
A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare.
Welcome to America!
Morado says he considers the dialogue valuable because it's important to reflect that America does not have just one culture or value system.

Tom Horne, the state's superintendent of public instruction, considers the program's very premise grounds to publicly rail against it, and, if necessary, to ban it through legislation.

"One of the most basic American values is that we judge people as individuals based on what they know and what they can do and what their character is like — and not based on what ethnic group they happen to have been born into," Horne says. "I think it's profoundly wrong to divide students up by ethnicity."
Or religion. Or eye color.

When you do that, it's called "balkanization."
The director

Augustine Romero took over as head of ethnic studies two years ago, after running Raza Studies for four years. In his view, the system already divides students by ethnicity.

When he was a senior at Tucson High, his father asked school counselors to make military recruiters stop calling. His counselor couldn't believe Romero planned to go to college.

He proved the counselor wrong, and the 41-year-old just finished his doctorate. "Yes, there are examples of people who have made it, but we've made it by having to work harder than most people because we've had to endure the inequities of the system," he says.
Uh, dude... ANYBODY who earns a PhD has to work harder than most people. This is America. You bust your ass and try your best and HERE you have a chance to do anything you can dream. Ask Raul Grijalva, whose father was a migrant farm worker who entered the U.S. on the Bracero Program. How far do you think he'd have gotten if his father had stayed in Mexico?
Romero summons the work of Brazilian educationalist Paulo Freire to explain the premise of the program, hauling out a dog-eared and extensively highlighted copy of "Pedagogy of the Oppressed." He points to a passage: "This, then, is the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed: to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well."
Wow. Good to know I'm an "oppressor" just because my skin is white.
If people don't like being called oppressors, Romero offers no apology. "We have to be able to be honest. If we have cancer, should we not name the cancer and overcome it? If oppression and subordination are our cancers, should we not name them?"
Even better! I'm a cancer!

But they're not teaching hate or anything.
Anglos often don't see racism, he says, so it needs to be pointed out, even though it has led to accusations that he propagates reverse racism. "When you name racism, people think you're playing the race card and then they say, 'You don't like me because I'm white.' No, I don't like what was said. Because I'm one who names these things, some have the perception that I'm a racist and that I only care about children of color."

Those children clearly need advocates, Romero says. There are glaring performance disparities between white and minority students — even in this district, where whites are only 30 percent of the student body.
Gee, do you think it might be because of parental involvement in their children's education? There was a study recently published on that. There are "glaring performance disparities" between Asian students and all the rest, too. Is that because Asians discriminate against everyone else?
The recent court ruling noted test scores for black and Hispanic students lagged 10 percent to 15 percent behind those of their white counterparts, and up to 21 percent for Native Americans.
Ergo, it's the fault of whites?
A person can take two views on this, Romero says.

The first: Blame the students and say their ethnic heritage in some way is deficient.

The second: Acknowledge that the educational system perpetuates white privilege and is stacked against minorities. These students are not at-risk, he says. "The system created risk for them."
Yes, it's the fault of the whites.

Sweet bleeding jeebus. Here's an alternate for you Romey: Perhaps blame the students because they don't study enough. It's a proven cultural phenomenon. It's why Asians do, on average, very well in school and blacks do, on average, very poorly. How well you perform in school is directly related not to race but to EFFORT.
A program like Raza Studies can even the odds, he says. Raza students outperform peers on AIMS tests. Scores from the 2006 senior class show 95 percent of the students passed reading, 97 percent passed writing and 77 percent passed math. Five out of six on a recent survey said the program kept them in school.
That's great! But how? Did it make them mad enough to actually STUDY? You know, to "Prove whitey wrong"?

Do you think, just maybe, there might be some other way to motivate students to STUDY? Perhaps you should have a conversation with Jaime Escalante - but eventually school administration resistance made him give up and he went home to Bolivia.
Tucson High's Morado visits the classes and doesn't believe they're divisive. "They offer a sense of identity for students who have historically not found that within these walls."

One recent Raza Studies research project highlighted the fact that minorities take too few Advanced Placement courses and too many remedial classes — something the administration has been trying to address. "What those kids are talking about is the new civil rights movement of the 21st century," Morado says.

The critics

The program's critics range from elected state officials to high school students.

The campus Republicans at Tucson High circulated a petition in April to rein in the class after seeing a banner in a class window asking, "Who's the illegal alien, pilgrim?"

The petition, signed by 50 of the school's 2,900 students, was forwarded to a handful of state legislators, along with a note that maintained the department "is creating a hostile environment for non-Hispanic students and students who oppose creating a racially charged school environment."
Fifty out of 2,900. (Carry the one...) That's 1.7%. Big presence.
John Ward taught in the department in the 2002-03 school year. Of Latino heritage despite his Anglo-sounding name, Ward was all for more thoroughly integrating the contributions of Mexican-Americans into U.S. history. But once he started teaching, he became concerned about the program's focus on victimization.
Color me shocked.
"They really wanted to identify the victimizer, which was the dominant group — in this case white America — and they wanted students to have a revolution against upper-class white America," says Ward, who now works as a state auditor.
Ward, with his Anglo name, is obviously a race-traitor!
"They had a clear message that political departments in the U.S. are arms of the dominant culture designed to keep minorities in the ghetto and to keep them downtrodden. They're teaching on the taxpayers' dime that police officers and teachers are trying to keep them down. What a perverse message to teach these kids."

Such messages, he says, won't be found in the program's textbooks, such as "Occupied America."

"The department doesn't look bad on paper. It's what happens verbally that moves the debate from benign to pernicious," Ward says.

The tone worried him: "The students had become very angry by the end of the year. I saw a marked change in them."

That anger was evident in a presentation director Romero gave at a social justice symposium at the University of Arizona in April. Exploring ways schools create racially hostile environments, the presentation flashed quotes from former Raza Studies students.

Nate Camacho complained that teachers actually encouraged students to fight each other.

Vanessa Aragón said students see violence differently from what school officials see. "For us, it is violence we face from our teachers, administrators and TPD (the Tucson Police Department) every single day," she said.
So the teachers and administrators physically abuse the students on a daily basis?
Kim Dominguez maintained she didn't feel valued because nothing in class reflected her life. "We don't really have a chance," she said.
So they taught you self-pity. How wonderful!
Romero says anger is essential for transformation, but insists teachers work to transform that anger into something positive. "For me, there's a real fine line between anger and awareness," he says.
And you think you can control it?!?!
He chalks up the dispute with Ward to politics, saying Ward didn't fit in because he was a conservative while he and the teachers in the department are liberal.
And he's a race-traitor!
The students

Kristin Grijalva, 17, counts this last year as the most transformative of her school career. She was so shy as a young student that her teachers assumed she spoke only Spanish and put her in an English-learners class. "Now I've gained so much confidence," says Grijalva, who plans to attend the University of Arizona to study medicine, with a minor in theater. "I have learned so much about myself that now I can talk and use my voice to inform people."
And is Kristin the granddaughter of Raul? Even if not, shouldn't she learn something from the Grijalva family history here? From the son of a migrant farm worker to a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Why shouldn't she be able to do anything she sets her mind to?
Raza Studies teachers push students hard, she says, but are so supportive that they share cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses and encourage students to text or call anytime.

Grijalva says that when she learned more about Christopher Columbus, she became angry that he remains a celebrated figure. But she was taught to use her anger to be a warrior, not a soldier. Soldiers do what they're told, she says. Warriors fight with their minds.

Grijalva acted like a warrior when a student asked her to sign the "pilgrim" petition. Before, she would have ripped up the paper, she says. Instead, she explained to the student that pilgrims from Europe seeking freedom weren't all that different from Mexicans coming here.

Her fellow students would be just as angry to hear a white person called a "cracker" as a Mexican person called a "beaner," Grijalva says.

"We realize it's not only Euro-Americans who are against our class. There are our own Chicanos and African-Americans against our class," she says. "It's what we call 'internal oppression.' When you hate your own race, you're basically hating yourself, but they're going with what they hear instead of what they see."
Like I said - balkanization. Everyone against everyone based on external features.

"Warriors." Wonderful.
In class, students are encouraged to think critically and to defend their positions.

One day in early May, students analyzed a political cartoon to determine if the artist was liberal or conservative. With the newspaper required reading, they discussed the Democratic presidential nomination.

During a recent presentation, a student noted, "Even a game of chess can reflect the inequalities of our society. From way back, white always goes first."

Teacher Jose Gonzalez nodded approvingly. "That's deep. That's powerful."
That's petty and bullshit.
Amy Rusk, Tucson High's chief librarian who taught Chicano literature in the department for three years, says that as a white woman, she finds white privilege is "very much embedded in the system and that's why we have to talk about it."

Kids need to read literature where the grandmother switches back and forth between English and Spanish, just like they hear at home, she says.

They need to name 10 important Hispanic and 10 important black figures in U.S. history. And they need to know the system was set up to block minority achievement, she says. "I think to pretend everything is fine is very unfair to the kids," Rusk says.
I think to make them think every gesture or utterance is a slight is unfair to the kids.
She says she's heard students say they can't do some academic work because they aren't white and they aren't smart. But not Raza Studies students; they come to her library more than their peers, and are more able to do independent research.
Who tells them that they aren't smart because they aren't white? Who is it that tells black students that studying is "acting white"? It isn't white people.
"This program has much more to do with figuring out ways to help kids succeed who have not had academic identities before," Rusk says. "And this system has let them not have those academic identities."
"Academic identity." Is that one of those terms like "social justice"?

The afternoon paper, The Tucson Citizen published a guest editorial by John Ward, the teacher mentioned above. I suggest you give it a read, too. A sample:
During the 2002-2003 school year, I taught a U.S. history course with a Mexican-American perspective. The course was part of the Raza/Chicano studies department.

Within one week of the course beginning, I was told that I was a "teacher of record," meaning that I was expected only to assign grades. The Raza studies department staff would teach the class.

I was assigned to be a "teacher of record" because some members of the Raza studies staff lacked teaching certificates. It was a convenient way of circumventing the rules.

I stated that I expected to do more than assign grades. I expected to be involved in teaching the class. The department was less than enthusiastic but agreed.

Immediately it was clear that the class was not a U.S. history course, which the state of Arizona requires for graduation. The class was similar to a sociology course one expects to see at a university.

Where history was missing from the course, it was filled by controversial and biased curriculum.

The basic theme of the curriculum was that Mexican-Americans were and continue to be victims of a racist American society driven by the interests of middle and upper-class whites.

In this narrative, whites are able to maintain their influence only if minorities are held down. Thus, social, political and economic events in America must be understood through this lens.

This biased and sole paradigm justified teaching that our community police officers are an extension of the white power structure and that they are the strongmen used "to keep minorities in their ghettos."

It justified telling the class that there are fewer Mexican-Americans in Tucson Magnet High School's advanced placement courses because their "white teachers" do not believe they are capable and do not want them to get ahead.
I repeat: who is telling them that they aren't smart because they aren't white? Other hispanics. But that's not what they're being told. They're being told that whites think they aren't smart, and that's something else entirely.

They're building race-hatred, and blaming it on "the oppressor." And yep, he's a race-traitor, but in Spanish they call it "vendido" - "sellout."

What happened to teaching the three "R's"?

Ayn Rand Was Right

Ayn Rand Was Right
Do you really think we want those laws to be observed? We want them broken. There is no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is to crack down on criminals. When there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking the law. Create a nation of lawbreakers and then you can cash in on the guilt. Now that's the system! - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, 1957
Several bloggers have reported on the 10 year old Winchendon, Massachusetts boy who was suspended from school for five days for bringing a spent (that's "fired," "inert," or "empty" for those of you in the Journalism profession) blank (that's "never had a projectile" - the pointy bit that's designed to come out of the barrel, the long tube-thingy that... never mind.) cartridge case to his school - a fired blank case that was given to him by a veteran, presumably after it was fired in a 21-gun salute on Memorial Day.

Yes, that's outrageous.

But Sebastian at Snowflakes in Hell has a little different spin on the story:
Well, the problem is, if you don't have a license to have a firearm in Massachuetts, you can't even possess ammunition or ammunition components. The truth is, this kid and everyone involved in this situation is lucky that it's only resulting in a five day suspension. Under Massachusetts law, both the kid, the veteran who gave the kid the empty shell casing, and the teacher to took if from the kid could be looking at two years in prison for having ammunition components without a license.

These are the "reasonable restrictions" that the Brady Campaign wants to impose on the rest of the country. And they call us "nuts" and "paranoid" for arguing that these regulations are anything but reasonable.
I would be very curious to learn how often these laws are actually used in prosecution against armed robbers, drug dealers and the like.

A license to possess a spent cartridge case. It boggles.

I'm #1!

I'm #1!

Checking my Sitemeter referrals, I discovered that The Smallest Minority is the #1 Google return for a search for "2nd amendment blogs" out of over 900,000.



How cool is that?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week
Proofs in geometry class have been a mainstay of mathematics. In fact, proofs were always considered an essential part of high school geometry, not only because of their importance in higher math, but because learning the rules of logical argument and reasoning has applications in science, law, political science, and writing. To see proofs being shortchanged in a geometry textbook was shocking. - Barry Garelick An A-Maze-ing Approach To Math, Education Next, Spring 2005, Vol. 4, No. 2
If you have young children in school, read the piece. If you have older children in schools using "Everyday Mathematics" or other National Council of Teachers of Mathematics approved curricula, get them out.

Secondary QotD from the same piece:
The education theory at the heart of the dispute can be traced to John Dewey, an early proponent of learning through discovery.
My buddy Dewey...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Nuclear Option

The Nuclear Option

As I've noted previously, I have a copy of Barack HopeChange Obama's audiobook The Audacity of Hope, and I've been listening to it, off and on, throughout my workday. Today I began section 2, which contains chapters 2 and 3 (as far as I've gotten to date.)

But today's excerpt had something I found interesting and important. Beginning at about 35 minutes into part 2:
Gaining control of the courts generally, and the Supreme Court in particular, had become the holy grail for a generation of conservative activists. And not just, they insisted, because they viewed the Court as the last bastion of pro-abortion, pro-Affirmative Action, pro-homosexual, pro-criminal, pro-regulation, anti-religious liberal elitism. According to these activists, liberal judges had placed themselves above the law, basing their opinions not on the Constitution, but on their own whims and desired results, finding rights to abortion, or sodomy that did not exist in the Constitution, subverting the democratic process, and perverting the Founding Fathers' original intent.

To return the courts to their proper role required the appointment of strict constructionists to the Federal bench - men and women who understood the difference between interpreting and making laws.

Those on the Left saw the situation quite differently. With conservative Republicans making gains in the congressional and presidential elections, many liberals viewed the courts as the only thing standing in the way of a radical effort to roll back civil rights, women's rights, civil liberties, environmental regulation, church and state separation, and the entire legacy of the New Deal.
He then goes on to discuss how the nomination of Robert Bork was defeated, awakening the Right to the fact that they, too, needed "grassroots" organizations to promote and defend their nominees, and defeat those of the Left. He goes on to relate how the Republican majority defeated 61 of Clinton's nominees,
...and for the brief time that they held the majority, the Democrats tried the same tactic on George W. Bush's nominees.

But when the Democrats lost their Senate majority in 2002, they had only one arrow left in their quiver, a strategy that could be summed up in one word, the battle-cry around which the Democratic faithful now rallied: Filibuster!

The Constitution makes no mention of the filibuster. It is a Senate rule, one that dates back to the first Congress. The basic idea is simple. Because all Senate business is conducted by unanimous consent, any Senator can bring proceedings to a halt by exercising his right to unlimited debate, refusing to move on to the next order of business. In other words, he can talk - for as long as he wants. So long as he, or like-minded colleagues are willing to stay on the floor and talk, everything else has to wait, which gives each Senator an enormous amount of leverage, and a determined minority effective veto power over any piece of legislation.

Throughout the Senate's modern history, the filibuster has remained a preciously guarded prerogative, one of the distinguishing features, it is said, along with six year terms, and the allocation of two Senators to each state regardless of population, that separates the Senate from the House and serves as a firewall against the dangers of majority overreach.

There's another, grimmer history of the filibuster, though, one that carries special relevance for me.
He then goes on to detail how the Southern Democrats used the filibuster to protect Jim Crow and prevent any civil rights legislation from passing. Of course, he doesn't mention the fact that most of those Senators were Democrats. He mentions Richard B. Russell by name, and names his state, but not his party affiliation.

Then he returns to Bush's court nominations.
So it came to pass that President Bush, emboldened by a bigger Republican majority in the Senate and his self-proclaimed mandate, decided in the first few weeks of his second term to re-nominate seven previously filibustered judges. As a poke in the eye to the Democrats, it produced the desired response. Democratic leader Harry Reid called it a "big wet kiss" to the far Right, and renewed the threat of a filibuster. Republicans, sensing that this was the time to go in for the kill, announced that if Democrats continued in their obstructionist ways, they would have no choice but to invoke the dreaded "nuclear option," a novel procedural maneuver that would involve the Senate's presiding officer - perhaps Vice President Cheney himself - ignoring the opinion of the Senate Parliamentarian, breaking 200 years of Senate precedent, and deciding with the simple bang of a gavel that the use of the filibuster was no longer permissible under the Senate rules - at least when it came to judicial nominations.

To me, the threat to eliminate the filibuster for judicial nominations was just one more example of Republicans changing the rules in the middle of the game.
Uh, right. Like putting up Frank Lautenberg for Senate in 2002 when it became blindingly apparent that the legally nominated but corrupt Robert Torricelli was going to lose his election? A case in which the notoriously "liberal" New Jersey Supreme Court said "It's OK, go ahead and break your own rules!"? That kind of "changing the rules in the middle of the game"?

"Changing the rules," yes - but I was not aware that we were in the middle of the "game" of this Republic.

He continues:
Moreover, a good argument could be made that a vote on judicial nominations is precisely the situation where the filibuster's supermajority requirement makes sense. Because federal judges receive lifetime appointments, and often serve through the terms of multiple Presidents, it behooves the President and benefits our Democracy to find moderate nominees who can find some measure of bipartisan support.
I've written on the topic of the Courts on numerous occasions, and I'm going to repeat myself here because this is precisely the kind of post that demands it. Barack Bipartisan Obama said early on in this excerpt, "According to these activists, liberal judges had placed themselves above the law, basing their opinions not on the Constitution, but on their own whims and desired results, finding rights to abortion, or sodomy that did not exist in the Constitution, subverting the democratic process, and perverting the Founding Fathers' original intent", subtly pooh-poohing the very idea that results-oriented judges exist on the Left. Once again, I'd like to quote the words of 9th Circuit judge Alex Kozinski on this very subject:
Judges know very well how to read the Constitution broadly when they are sympathetic to the right being asserted. We have held, without much ado, that "speech, or . . . the press" also means the Internet...and that "persons, houses, papers, and effects" also means public telephone booths....When a particular right comports especially well with our notions of good social policy, we build magnificent legal edifices on elliptical constitutional phrases - or even the white spaces between lines of constitutional text. But, as the panel amply demonstrates, when we're none too keen on a particular constitutional guarantee, we can be equally ingenious in burying language that is incontrovertibly there.

It is wrong to use some constitutional provisions as springboards for major social change while treating others like senile relatives to be cooped up in a nursing home until they quit annoying us. As guardians of the Constitution, we must be consistent in interpreting its provisions. If we adopt a jurisprudence sympathetic to individual rights, we must give broad compass to all constitutional provisions that protect individuals from tyranny. If we take a more statist approach, we must give all such provisions narrow scope. Expanding some to gargantuan proportions while discarding others like a crumpled gum wrapper is not faithfully applying the Constitution; it’s using our power as federal judges to constitutionalize our personal preferences.

The able judges of the panel majority are usually very sympathetic to individual rights, but they have succumbed to the temptation to pick and choose. - Silveira v. Lockyer, denial to hear appeal en banc, dissenting.
George Will in a piece from 2005 wrote:
When (Senator Harry) Reid endorsed Scalia for chief justice, he said: "I disagree with many of the results that he arrives at, but his reason for arriving at those results are (sic) very hard to dispute." There you have, starkly and ingenuously confessed, the judicial philosophy -- if it can be dignified as such -- of Reid and like-minded Democrats: Regardless of constitutional reasoning that can be annoyingly hard to refute, we care only about results. How many thoughtful Democrats will wish to take their stand where Reid has planted that flag?

This is the debate the country has needed for several generations: Should the Constitution be treated as so plastic, so changeable that it enables justices to reach whatever social outcomes -- "results" -- they, like the result-oriented senators who confirm them, consider desirable? If so, in what sense does the Constitution still constitute the nation?
Barack Middle of the Road Obama suggests that the selection of moderate judges should be preferred, since they "benefit our Democracy."

It's not supposed to be a DEMOCRACY. It's supposed to be a CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC. One in which the CONSTITUTION defines and limits the powers of the federal government, and the Judicial branch has to abide by it just like the Legislative and the Executive. It is the Constitution that Senators swear an oath to uphold and defend, not our "democracy."

"Moderate" judges? I'll let Scalia answer that one, since he's been vetted by Reid himself and found to pass muster:
What in the world is a 'moderate interpretation' of the text? Halfway between what it really says and what you want it to say?

It is literally true that the U.S. Supreme Court has entirely liberated itself from the text of the Constitution.

What 'we the people' want most of all is someone who will agree with us as to what the evolving constitution says.

We are free at last, free at last. There is no respect in which we are chained or bound by the text of the Constitution. All it takes is five hands. - Antonin Scalia, excerpts from a speech quoted in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, 3/10/04
Then we get to the meat of the excerpt:
Few of the Bush (appellate court) nominees in question fell into the "moderate" category. Rather they showed a pattern of hostility towards civil rights, privacy, and checks on executive power that put them to the Right of even most Republican judges. One particularly troubling nominee had derisively called Social Security and other New Deal programs quote "the triumph of our own socialist revolution" unquote.
Interestingly, Barack I'm not a Socialist Obama doesn't tell his readers (or listeners) that the "particularly troubling nominee" was Janice Rogers Brown, an African-American woman nominated to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C. district. Her remark comes from a speech she gave to the Federalist Society, April 20, 2000, entitled "A Whiter Shade of Pale": Sense and Nonsense - The Pursuit of Perfection in Law and Politics, which I strongly recommend you read. Here's her quote in context:
There is nothing new, of course, in the idea that the framers did not buy into the notion of human perfectibility. And the document they drafted and the nation adopted in 1789 is shot through with provisions that can only be understood against the supposition that humanity's capacity for evil and tyranny is quite as real and quite as great as its capacity for reason and altruism. Indeed, as noted earlier, in politics, the framers may have envisioned the former tendency as the stronger, especially in the wake of the country's experience under the Articles of Confederation. The fear of "factions," of an "encroaching tyranny"; the need for ambition to counter ambition"; all of these concerns identified in the Federalist Papers have stratagems designed to defend against them in the Constitution itself. We needed them, the framers were convinced, because "angels do not govern"; men do.

It was a quite opposite notion of humanity, of its fundamental nature and capacities, that animated the great concurrent event in the West in 1789 — the revolution in France. Out of that revolutionary holocaust — intellectually an improbable melding of Rousseau with Descartes — the powerful notion of abstract human rights was born. At the risk of being skewered by historians of ideas, I want to suggest that the belief in and the impulse toward human perfection, at least in the political life of a nation, is an idea whose arc can be traced from the Enlightenment, through the Terror, to Marx and Engels, to the Revolutions of 1917 and 1937. The latter date marks the triumph of our own socialist revolution. All of these events were manifestations of a particularly skewed view of human nature and the nature of human reason. To the extent the Enlightenment sought to substitute the paradigm of reason for faith, custom or tradition, it failed to provide rational explanation of the significance of human life. It thus led, in a sort of ultimate irony, to the repudiation of reason and to a full-fledged flight from truth — what Revel describes as "an almost pathological indifference to the truth."

There were obviously urgent economic and social reasons driving not only the political culture but the constitutional culture in the mid-1930's — though it was actually the mistakes of governments (closed borders, high tariffs, and other protectionist measures) that transformed a "momentary breakdown into an international cataclysm." The climate of opinion favoring collectivist social and political solutions had a worldwide dimension.

Politically, the belief in human perfectibility is another way of asserting that differences between the few and the many can, over time, be erased. That creed is a critical philosophical proposition underlying the New Deal. What is extraordinary is the way that thesis infiltrated and affected American constitutionalism over the next three-quarters of a century. Its effect was not simply to repudiate, both philosophically and in legal doctrine, the framers' conception of humanity, but to cut away the very ground on which the Constitution rests. Because the only way to come to terms with an enduring Constitution is to believe that the human condition is itself enduring.

For complex reasons, attempts to impose a collectivist political solution in the United States failed. But, the political failure was of little practical concern, in a way that is oddly unappreciated, that same impulse succeeded within the judiciary, especially in the federal high court. The idea of abstract rights, government entitlements as the most significant form of property, is well suited to conditions of economic distress and the emergence of a propertyless class. But the economic convulsions of the late 1920's and early 1930's passed away; the doctrinal underpinnings of West Coast Hotel and the "switch in time" did not. Indeed, over the next half century it consumed much of the classical conception of the Constitution.
Barack New Deal Obama protests that nominees like Ms. Brown want to "roll back" the "progress" that the courts have brought about. I've discussed this before, too. Law professor (and now Dean of the U.C. Irvine School of Law) Erwin Chemerinsky appears on the radio talk show of Republican apparatchik Hugh Hewitt weekly as one of the "Smart Guys," along with Chapman University law professor John Eastman. Coincidentally, on Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - the day of Janice Rogers Brown's confirmation to the Appellate position on a partisan 56-43 vote (with only one Democrat crossing the aisle to vote in her favor - Ben Nelson of Nebraska) - the Smart Guys were on Hewitt's show, and Chemerinski made precisely the same argument. First, Eastman responds to Chuck Schumer's objection to Brown's confirmation
You know, I mean, it's just so preposterous, I don't even know where to begin. The reason Chuck Schumer is so upset about this is Justice Brown is the kind of judge who will, you know, adhere to the Constitution. And when the members of the legislature, even the exalted Chuck Schumer himself, want to take actions that is not authorized by the Constitution, she'll be willing to stand up and do her duty, and strike it down. That's not an arrogance, that's what the judges are there for, to adhere to the Constitution, and not to let the legislature roll over them and do whatever they want. You know, it really is preposterous. We've turned this upside down. The judges that do exactly what they're supposed to do are demonized, and those that take a powder and let the legislature get away with every abuse, every extension of power imaginable, are touted at the cocktail circuit.
Chemerinsky then throws in the "roll back" language - in his case "shred" - used by Obama:
I think what Senator Schumer is saying, and is absolutely right, is that Janice Rogers Brown's repeated statements that she believes that the New Deal programs like social security are unconstitutional, is truly a radical view. That's not a judge who wants to uphold the Constitution. That's a judge who wants to shred the last eighty years of American Constitutional law. Janice Rogers Brown saying she believes that the Bill of Rights should not apply to the states, would undo the last seventy years of Constitutional law. That's not a judge who wants to follow the law. That's a judge who wants to make the law in her own radical, conservative views.
But Eastman understands exactly what Chemerinski - and, by extension Obama, is arguing:
Hang on, here, because Erwin...there's a wonderfully subtle change in your phraseology that demonstrates what's going on here. You said she won't follow the Constitution, and then you said it's because she won't follow the last seventy or eighty years of Constitutional law. What happened seventy or eighty years ago that changed the Constitution? There was not a single amendment at issue in the 1930's that changed the Constitution. Some radical, federal programs were pushed through. Some radical judges, under pressure, finally signed on them, and the notion that we can't question that unconstitutional action that occurred in the 1930's, and somehow that defending that unconstitutionality is adherent to the rule of law, is rather extraordinary. There are scholars on left and right that have understood that what went on in the 1930's was...had no basis in Constitutional law, or in the letter of the Constitution itself.
So Obama wants moderate nominees?

The title of this essay is "The Nuclear Option." I named it that for a reason. John McCain has caught a lot of flak for preventing the implementation of "The Nuclear Option" with his Gang of 14 who negotiated the compromise that also resulted in Judge Brown's confirmation.

But he was right.

As we go into the 2008 elections, the Democrats will, once again, control the House and Senate - perhaps with significant majorities. No matter who ends up in the White House, the Senate Judiciary Committee will be run by Democrats, and any and all nominees will be vetted by them. If John McCain wins the White House, then "moderates" are the best we as a nation can expect to see confirmed, but if Obama or Hillary wins, then Republicans will be in precisely the same position the Democrats were in. Filibuster will be the Republican's only arrow in their quiver.

What do you want to bet that "The Nuclear Option" will be brought up by the Democrats in that event?

At least that's not a tool the Republicans generously handed them.

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
Stress is the great finisher of the unpracticed shooter. After the battle of Gettysburg, 27,574 muskets were collected from the field. Of these, 24,000 were loaded; 12,000 were at least double-loaded, and of these, 6,000 had anywhere between 3 to 10 charges down the barrel. The soldiers who had left them behind were so terrified that they loaded without realizing they were not firing. - David E. Petzal, Field & Stream's "The Gun Nut," Amateur Hour
I'd seen those stats before, I believe, in On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by LTC Dave Grossman, but I thought it was interesting enough to be QotD.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
Every human life counts. Your life counts. You have a right to live it as you choose, to follow your bliss. You have a right to seek satisfaction in accomplishment. And if you chase after the almighty dollar, you just might find that you are led, as if by an invisible hand, to do things that improve the lives of others. - David Boaz, Our Collectivist Candidates, Wall Street Journal Online, 5/28/08, p. A17 of the dead-tree version.
Found at The Volokh Conspiracy.

And I still think we have to "embrace teh suck" and vote McCain, because - as Rachel Lucas opined -
I don’t give a flying fuck that McCain is more liberal than we would like and that he’s basically an asshole, because I’m operating with the awareness that he’s still better than Obama by about a hundred orders of magnitude.
Okay, maybe only five or six orders of magnitude...

Bumper Stickers


As noted in the post below, I'm offering for sale the "F^*K IT! McCAIN '08" bumper sticker. I have some on order now, but not enough to cover the orders (if y'all are being serious) that have already come in.

I prefer to run The Smallest Minority as a non-profit. It makes that "fair use" disclaimer at the bottom of the page much more believable if I don't benefit from the operation of this site, but handling a bunch of bumper sticker orders looks to me to be at least a minor PITA, so earning a little cash on the deal is tempting.

Was tempting.

I hereby announce that any and all profits on these stickers will go to Jed at Freedomsight to help pay for his very necessary dental work. In fact, if we can arrange it, I would prefer that you hit his tipjar then he can contact me and let me know where to send the bumper stickers, and how many. That way I'm not even handling the money.

Let me know what you think. I haven't even sprung it on him yet, but I will as soon as I hit the "Publish Post" button.

UPDATE: We're on! Jed emails:
My observation of PayPal e-mails is that they provide a comment area, so purchasers can supply quantity and mailing address, and I can just forward that info to you.
So head on over, hit his tipjar, give him the name and address in the comment area, and we can get this show on the road!

For those preferring another payment method over PayPal, drop me an email at gunrightsATcomcastDOTnet and we'll see what we can work out.

Pricing:

Qty. 1 to 4, $5 each

Qty. 5 to 9, $4 each

Qty. 10+, $3 each.

So if you want 4 it's $20, (and you'll receive 5).

These prices include postage. And remember, it's for a good guy, that's why the pricing is wacky. (Are you really going to order nine???)

UPDATE: Jed has his system worked out now. Go here, follow his instructions and place your orders.

Again, if you don't want to use PayPal, drop me an email.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Repulsive Presidential Candidates

Hmm... Perhaps I should print a few gross of these up and sell them:
It's getting to be popular. Snowflakes in Hell mentioned it, and the inestimable Rachel Lucas picked it up not once, but twice. Ol'Broad gave it a mention last week, too.

If you've seen it elsewhere, cited or not, please let me know.

UPDATE I: As others have reminded me, it has also appeared at The Geek with a .45, where Curtis Lowe found it. Candy for Idiots has placed it on their sidebar, and Gary Cruise has posted on it as well.

It's a meme!

UPDATE II: At the request demand of the Blue-Eyed Infidel, I have some of these on order. I expect them to take a few days to get here, though. How does $5 each or 5 for $20 sound, postage paid? Get your orders in.

UPDATE III: It is a meme! The bumper sticker is now linked at:

Classical Values

Grief in Brief

Political inSecurity

Pun Salad

And The Jawa Report.

So far (if they're serious) I have 41 requested.

Edited to add: One commenter at The Jawa Report suggested a good alternative:
Unfortunately, not enough people get the military slang.

And another one:
The text is too small, but the sentiment is perfect.

UPDATE IV: If you've just clicked in to this post as a single, and you're at all interested in purchasing a bumper sticker or twelve, please read the post above this one.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Range Report

Range Report

To celebrate Memorial Day, I took the 700 5R back to the range with a small range of loads to test. First, yesterday afternoon I thoroughly cleaned the barrel until it was as sqeeky-clean as I could get it. I did not, per the recommendation, use Bore Paste on a patch wrapped around a brush, since this barrel had, at that point, only 50 rounds fired through it. I scrubbed it three times with foaming bore cleaner, followed by Butch's Bore Shine until the patches came out clean. Then I treated it with Ultra Bore Coat per the instructions, and let it sit overnight.

At the range, after setting up everything (except my spotting scope, which I neglected to bring), I fired 20 rounds at a load-and-fire rate to warm the barrel up and condition it, also per the UBC instructions. If you recall from my previous range trip, I had to move the scope back on the Picatinny rail, so it was no longer sighted in. It took me another 15 rounds before I was back on paper, because it was shooting a little low and a lot right. After I got it sighted in, I cleaned. The instructions warn to not use a bore brush, and if you must, us a nylon one. I used just a slotted jag and a patch soaked with Butch's Bore Shine, and then a button jag and patch after patch. The first couple of patches had flakes of what I assume must be the Bore Coat material - black, shiny specks, but fairly rapidly the patches started coming out clean. No copper fouling was evident.

Then I settled in to do some shooting.

I brought 100 rounds of 175 grain Sierra Match Kings in Lapua brass, loaded with Varget and primed with WLR primers. Twenty each of 42.0, 42.2, 42.4, 42.6, and 42.8* grains. I'd burned two of each load warming up the barrel, and fifteen more of the 42.0 getting on target. That left me three of the 42.0 load, and eighteen each of the others. I fired the three 42.0's to foul the barrel, and then started shooting for groups.

Overall, I'm pretty happy. The heavier I went with the charge weight, the better it shot. After I'd put about forty rounds through it, I cleaned it again, and I was getting almost spotless patches quite rapidly. (As I noted previously, I don't like cleaning, and I'm not a fanatic about it.) The best group of the day was the last one I shot - rounds 91-95, with a center-to-center spread of 1.24" at 200 meters, or a hair over 0.6MOA.

That was with the 42.8 grain load. One other thing: this rifle craters primers. Even at 42.0 grains, there's a little cratering evident, so I'm no longer going to assume that the cratering I saw previously is actually a sign of high pressure. There was no evidence of piercing at all.

Other comments: The HS Precision stock looks very nice, but it is not very ergonomic - at least not for me, shooting off the bench. My right hand is sore from assuming an odd position in order to get my finger on the trigger properly. Major kudos to Ninth Stage for providing the spirit level. It's amazing how easy it is to cant the rifle off of vertical without noticing, and that little device stops that cold. Ninety-five rounds of 175 grain SMKs at something on the order of 2600fps beats the CRAP out of you. Individually, they're not bad, but the beating is cumulative. I let somebody else shoot the last five. I think my next test will be with the 155 grain Lapua Scenars, which are actually as long as the 180SMK. The Williams bottom metal was worth the money, as was the Evolution Gun Works 20MOA scope base. The bottom metal doesn't make it shoot better (I don't think), but it appears to be a lot more rugged. The Burris Xtreme mounts do not let the scope move a nanometer, and the scope? Given its wince-inducing price, it does the job I bought it for. It's clear and crisp, the adjustments are positive and repeatable, the side focus works as advertised. I'm very pleased with the whole package.

*Use this load data at your own risk. Not responsible for typos or tyros who blow up their guns using load data from someone you don't even know. This is safe in MY rifle. YMMV.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

THIS is What the Internet Was Invented For

THIS is What the Internet Was Invented For!

It's a good thing that on the internet no one knows you're a dog. Via Lawdog I found something hysterically funny (if you're a guy). Cranky Epistles writes of men and Gold Bond Medicated Powder.

Follow the links. Read the threads. Place beverages out of reach. (Not in that order.)

A teaser:

NO ONE would write these things for publication if their identities were known!

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
In an educated world, Rep. Waters would be hounded from office and reduced to asking if Mr. Hoffmeister would like fries with that; an occupation admirably suited to her self-evident lack of economic acumen.

In this world, however, her constituents will cheer her words, and vote her another term.

Tam, from See Atlas. See Atlas shrug. Shrug, Atlas, shrug!
There's a lot more that's even better, but this piece makes a nice standalone quote.

This was in response to Rep. Waters' (Socialist - Los Angeles) pronouncement to oil company executives that "This Liberal will be all about socializin... ah, uh, uh... Will be about... basically taking over, and the government running all of your companies."

Fox News said that the word she was so desperately searching for was "nationalizing," but I disagree. She recognized her Freudian slip. "Socializing" was precisely the right word, and the one that could not be uttered in a chamber where she swore to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. (And obviously lied about it.)

Friday, May 23, 2008

When Your Only Tool is a Hammer...


I have an audiobook copy of Barack ChangeHope Obama's The Audacity of Hope, and I just began listening to it this morning.

Pardon my cynicism, but something struck me from the very prologue. During Barack HopeChange Obama's run for the Senate, he says, he toured around Illinois talking to people, and this is what they told him (from pages 5 & 6):
(W)hether I was meeting with two people or fifty, whether I was in one of the well-shaded, stately homes of the North Shore, a walk-up apartment on the West Side, or a farmhouse outside of Bloomington, whether people were friendly, indifferent, or occasionally hostile, I tried my best to keep my mouth shut and hear what they had to say. I listened to people talk about their jobs, their businesses, their local school; their anger at Bush and their anger at Democrats; their dogs, their back pain, their war service, and the things they remembered from childhood. Some had well developed theories to explain the loss of manufacturing jobs or the high cost of health care. Some recited what they had heard on Rush Limbaugh or NPR. But most of them were too busy with work or their kids to pay much attention to politics, and they spoke instead of what they saw before them: a plant closed, a promotion, a high heating bill, a parent in a nursing home, a child's first step.

No blinding insights emerged from these months of conversation. If anything, what struck me was just how modest people's hopes were, and how much of what they believed seemed to hold constant across race, region, religion, and class. Most of them thought that anybody willing to work should be able to find a job that paid a living wage. They figured that people shouldn't have to file for bankruptcy because they got sick. They believed that every child should have a genuinely good education - that it shouldn't be just a bunch of talk - and that those same children should be able to go to college even if their parents weren't rich. They wanted to be safe, from criminals and from terrorists; they wanted clean air, clean water, and time with their kids. And when they got old, they wanted to be able to retire with some dignity and respect.

That was about it. It wasn't much. And although they understood that how they did in life depended mostly on their own efforts - although they didn't expect government to solve all their problems, and certainly didn't like seeing their tax dollars wasted - they figured that government should help.
Now, on the surface this sounds marvelous. Look at the simple values that we as Americans all desire: A living wage. A good education. Health. Safety. Security.

And we don't think government should solve all our problems!

Here's HopeChange's reaction to this subtle enlightenment:
I told them that they were right: government couldn't solve all their problems. But with a slight change in priorities we could make sure every child had a decent shot at life and meet the challenges we faced as a nation. More often than not, folks would nod in agreement and ask how they could get involved. And by the time I was back on the road, with a map on the passenger's seat, on my way to my next stop, I knew once again just why I'd gone into politics.
By George, he's a politician! He'll make government do as much as it CAN!

When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.

Let's look at how well government has done so far:

"Anybody willing to work should be able to find a job that paid a living wage." The current federal minimum wage is $5.85 per hour, or $12,168 per year based on a 40-hour work week. The federal poverty level for a single person household is $10,210. Ta-daaaa! Problem fixed! If you can get a job flipping burgers for 40 hours a week, you can live above the poverty line (unless you're doing it in Hawaii.) For a three-person household the poverty level is $17,170, so at least two have to work, one at least part-time.

That problem would appear to be fixed, at least by government definition, would it not?

Oh, wait... What if there aren't any jobs where you are? Why, should fixing that be the responsibility of government, too?

"People shouldn't have to file for bankruptcy because they got sick." That one's a lot tougher. Illness and injury can take you out of the workforce, and if you're not covered by insurance, or if the insurance you do have isn't any good, then you're pretty much up the creek unless you are bankrupt or close to it. Most minimum-wage jobs don't have much in the way of benefits, and if you are long-term or permanently disabled the money will run out fast unless you're Bill Gates.

This really, truly, deeply sucks, and if you want to know why big-"L" Libertarianism isn't more popular, this is one very large reason. There is no explaining to someone why their child, parent, sibling or spouse has to suffer, why their insurance company won't pay for medicines or procedures, why their life's accumulation of wealth and property has to be used up, sold off or given away just so they can qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. "Life isn't fair" isn't any comfort at all.

But Medicare and Medicaid - as limited and restrictive as they are - took up $511 billion of the $1.412 trillion federal budget for fiscal year 2006. That's more than a third of the entire budget, and it's expected to go higher. Much higher.

Individuals going bankrupt would appear to be the least cause of our angst. In fact, it would appear that our government's attempts at "solving" one problem has led to one a few orders of magnitude larger.

Oopsie!

"Every child should have a genuinely good education." Well, we're definitely failing at that (and I have an upcoming post - really! - on the topic). Jimmy National Malaise Carter created the Department of Education in 1979 with the specific intent of reversing the downward trend. It's failed to live up to the task.

So we throw more money at it. Kinda like Medicare and Medicaid. As Dean Esmay once put it,
When a government agency screws up, it argues that it would have done a better job if only it had more money and power, and it often gets it.
But Barack No Child Left Behind Obama says "with a slight change in priorities we could make sure every child had a decent shot at life and meet the challenges we faced as a nation." Wow. That's great!

Specifically, what change, and in what priorities? 'Cause I think it would be great if we could just make sure every child could read - something I don't think we were all that far away from less than 100 years ago. Before the Federal government had its hands in everything.

"Those same children should be able to go to college even if their parents weren't rich." You know, I haven't figured out just when it was that a college degree became an entitlement. Back when a high school diploma meant more than a student had a merely adequate attendance record, a college degree indicated that the bearer was somewhat extraordinary, not just the son or daughter of someone wealthy. Albert Einstein didn't come from a rich family. Neither did Percy Julian. While most who graduated with a BS or a BA weren't geniuses, college was difficult enough that expense wasn't the only thing that kept people from attending.

But now, with degree programs in such disciplines as Women's Studies and EcoSocial Design, pretty much anyone can get a sheepskin, and unless the degree is in something technical it may only mean that the holder is able to learn. Maybe.

What entitlement is next? Everybody should be able to get a Ph.D?

"Safe from criminals and terrorists." That would be nice. How safe do you want to be? 100%? 99.4%? Shall we put CCTV cameras on every corner (and discover, as the Brits have done, that it doesn't really help?) Should you completely farm out your protection to the State, where a 911 dispatcher might not give a s#!t about what happens to you? Or the cops? We were promised an additional 100,000 police officers under Bill Clinton's administration, but that didn't work out so well. Of course, under a ChangeHope administration, we will never be allowed to fail! And when we begin engaging in unconditional negotiations with our ideological opponents in Tehran, Pyongyang, Beirut, Damascus, and a luxuriously goat-skin upholstered cave in the mountains of Northern Waziristan, terrorism will become but an unpleasant memory!

"Clean air, clean water, and time with their kids." We've actually done pretty well with the clean air and clean water thing, though with standard government "efficiency." The Great Lakes are cleaner than they've been in the last 50 years, Los Angeles is no longer synonymous with killer smog, and acid rain is now a problem primarily in Europe and Asia. Of course, most of the heavy industrial manufacturing has moved primarily to Europe and Asia, but hey, our air and water are cleaner! And time with the kids? With one parent working 40 hours a week and the other part time, why can't they spend time with the kids? Besides, the government will soon, I'm sure, be passing a new Family and Medical Leave act that forces businesses to pay their employees up to twelve weeks each year to spend time with their kids!

"When they got old, they wanted to be able to retire with some dignity and respect." You know, before Social Security, that generally was the case, only family members did the caring and respecting. Now even with Social Security - $544 billion, or 38.5% of the federal 2006 budget - we've still got seniors who can't afford dignity or respect. Of course they're living, on average, fifteen years longer than was the median in 1940 when the first check went out (due in large part to our incredibly expensive, highly advanced health care system, Medicare and Medicaid).

So, in balance our government has managed to accomplish some good, but the question I have is "how much and at what cost?" Milton Friedman once wrote:
I want people to take thought about their condition and to recognize that the maintenance of a free society is a very difficult and complicated thing and it requires a self-denying ordinance of the most extreme kind. It requires a willingness to put up with temporary evils on the basis of the subtle and sophisticated understanding that if you step in to do something about them you not only may make them worse, you will spread your tentacles and get bad results elsewhere.
He also noted:
There are four ways in which you can spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you're doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I'm not so careful about the content of the present, but I'm very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else's money on myself. And if I spend somebody else's money on myself, then I'm sure going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else's money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else's money on somebody else, I'm not concerned about how much it is, and I'm not concerned about what they get. And that's government. And that's close to 40% of our national income.
As Friedman noted, spending someone else's money on somebody else is what government does. And the job Barack Utopia Obama is going for is to be the engineer in the locomotive that is our federal government.

The support for Obama comes largely from idealists who think that government is the mechanism for making the world a better place, and it will accomplish this end if only the right people are in charge. I have a quote for them from C.S. Lewis:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences.
Hillary is looking less and less loathsome as time goes by...

As for me, I concur with the words of Louisiana attorney Ashton O'Dwyer, who stayed in his home in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina plowed through. In the face of police officers and national guardsmen moving through his neighborhood disarming homeowners in the name of making them safe, he said "Treat me with benign neglect." That is what I would prefer my government do.

Unfortunately, he and I are among the few who hold that position.

All But Two

All But Two
Buy a Car, Get a Gun

The dealer says every buyer has selected the gun, "except one guy from Canada and an old guy"

By Paul Westcott
Clear Channel Online


A Missouri car dealership is offering a free gun with every car purchase. Max Motors is offering customers the choice between a $250 gas card or a hand gun. Most have chosen the gun.

Owner Mark Muller said: "We're just damn glad to live in a free country where you can have a gun if you want to."

The dealership sells used and new cars mostly GM models and has a logo of of a cowboy holding a pistol.

In the past three days the dealership has sold 30 cars and trucks, an increase which the owners say is due to their promotional offer.

Muller recommends a Kel-Tec .380 pistol, which he describes as "a nice little handgun that fits in your pocket". He added that the promotion was inspired by recent comments from one of the Democratic nominees for the presidential election, saying: "We did it because of Barack Obama.

"He said all those people in the Midwest, you've got to have compassion for them because they're clinging to their guns and their Bibles. I found that quite offensive. We all go to church on Sunday and we all carry guns."

The website advertisement for the offer, which continues until the end of the month, mentions that an approved background check on gun ownership is required.

See Max's site.
I see the Obamessiah really did offend a lot of people in flyover country. There have been a number of similar giveaways I'm aware of, but the ones I can remember here in Tucson have usually been a Marlin lever-action rifle or something similar, not a handgun suitable for concealment.

All I can say is, I bet the firearm industry is looking at this election with a combination of hope and fear. If the Democrats win, their sales will likely skyrocket.

For a while.

Also, there's a survey! "Do you think offering a free gun with the purchase of a new car is a good idea?" Of the 4600 people who've responded so far, 65% say "Yes."

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
Some like Uncle and Tam do wonders in small spaces. I follow more of the Kevin Baker school of thought and prefer to produce by the pound. - Armed Canadian, Tidbits
Hear, hear!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

An Interesting Perspective on the Question

An Interesting Perspective on the Question

Also from Ian Hamet:
John McCain served America honorably and heroically in the Vietnam war, but only himself as a US Senator. Anyone who supported, let alone authored, the direct assault on every citizen’s right of free speech that was the McCain-Feingold bill has no business anywhere but locked in stocks in the public square for daily ridicule, or else wearing a suit of tar and feathers while being given a ride out of town on a rail. The Presidency has had some vile men in it, but rarely one who has been so openly contemptuous of the Constitution before he even takes the oath to uphold and defend it. There is no way in hell I will (vote) for McCain.
An understandable position, but insofar as I can see, McCain is hardly alone in is contempt for the Constitution.

Please, RTWT. What he has to say about Hillary alone is reason enough.

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
This is bad in a jaw-dropping "they can't really be serious, can they?" kind of way. The closest comparison I can draw is to Neil LaBute's "Wicker Man" and, like that film, the only consolation I can offer potential theater-goers is that you might want to see it just to be in on the ground floor when the film gets its ass handed back to it. - An Early Review of M. Night Shyamalan's THE HAPPENING
It looks like Shyamalan's directorial career has bottomed out.

After viewing Lady in the Water I didn't think he could go any lower. It would appear I was mistaken.

(h/t to Ian Hamet for the heads-up.)

From the Department of "DUH!"

From the Department of "DUH!"
As outraged politicians called for an investigation Monday into how a violent parolee got his hands on a semiautomatic rifle and shot three people at a Granada Hills church festival, frustrated law enforcement officials admitted what has become painfully clear - if criminals want guns, they'll find them.

Despite some of the country's toughest gun laws, California's violent ex-cons, like Fernando Diaz Jr., 33, have no problem arming themselves. - Shooting spotlights gun sales problem
The "semiautomatic rifle" was a .22.

I wonder if it was a Marlin Model 60 "assault weapon."

More "DUH!", same source:
"We try and enforce the law, but those that are intent on breaking the law will break the law," said Lt. Steven Nielsen, head of the LAPD's gun unit.
A lesson a lot of women with "restraining orders" learn - the hard way. And another:
Despite years of cracking down, officials say the strong demand for weapons - everything from revolvers to semiautomatic handguns - continues to fuel an underground arms trade organized by gangs and other criminals.
Father Guido Sarducci's five-minute university economics curriculum: "Supply and Demand. That's it."

But the response? Do it again, only HARDER!
Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich argues that more safeguards must be put in place to prevent the tragedy that rocked Granada Hills last weekend.
(h/t to Zendo Deb for the pointer.)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
Somewhere, there is a line between reasonably prudent and cautious, and stark nutjob paranoid. The Secret Service doesn't even trust the soldiers, sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, and obey the orders of the President.

Screw those Praetorian assclowns.

Heartless Libertarian - Forget "No Guns in the McCain Room"
Wow. Did the Secret Service require the crew of the USS Abraham Lincoln to disarm all the aircraft and disable all the anti-aircraft weapons when he flew aboard on that COD Viking?

RTWT. This is nuts.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I See Famous Gunnies

I See Famous People Gunnies

Well, they're famous to us. Other people post pictures of Oliver North and Glenn Beck and Ted Nugent. Not me! How about Sandy Froman!

Larry Potterfield (and, unfortunately, me):

Cam Edwards:

Jim Scoutten:

And, finally, R. Lee Ermey (and some guy who stood in line for an hour to have his picture taken professionally with the Gunny):

Wait until tomorrow when I post pictures of David E. Young and David Hardy! (And I swore I took pictures, but I can't find any of Robert Cottrol or Dave Kopel!)