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

Monday, June 30, 2008

WARNING! GRAPHIC!

WARNING! GRAPHIC!

My coworker who is an Obama fan sent me an email this morning entitled "Just before the pain strikes." The photos below are muy graphic, and not for the faint of heart:















And the pièce de résistance:

(*shudder*)

The AP Discovers Suicide Statistics

The AP Discovers Suicide Statistics

Yes, THAT AP. I'm not quoting so they don't sue me. (But will they sue me for linking?)

Mike Stobbe, AP Medical Writer posits on the surprising fact that over half of American deaths attributable to gunshot are suicides. He even links to the CDC, where the ever-useful WISQARS tool resides. I left a comment. Actually, two or three. You have to register to comment, but what the hell...

Another Guest Post

Another Guest Post

This is interesting. According to SCOTUSblog:
Hits. In five and a half years, we've never had more than 100,000 hits on SCOTUSblog. Yesterday, though, we had our first 100,000 hit day. And then our first 200,000 hit and 300,000 hit day. By the end of the day, we had over 370,000 hits, and 240,000 nominally “unique” visitors (though, as Tom mentioned, that's an imperfect count because it counts repeatedly the many people whose computers don't accept cookies). We're still amazed that our servers held up.

LiveBlog. According to our LiveBlog software provider, Coveritlive - who offer a terrific (and free) product, by the way - we had about 20,000 LiveBlog viewers during the hour and eighteen minutes that we had the LiveBlog open, including 10,000 unique viewers who stayed for more than five minutes. Over 6,000 people have replayed the LiveBlog since we ended it.

The opinion. We can track how many times the opinions are downloaded from our servers, which are above and beyond the web hits cite above. Wednesday was certainly a big day at the Supreme Court, and we saw over 8,500 downloads of the decision in Kennedy v. Louisiana and over 6,000 downloads of Exxon v. Baker. We expected, then, something in the neighborhood of a few tens of thousands of downloads of the Heller decision, since we knew it would be popular.

But we were way off. All told, from the moment we posted the opinion at around 10:22 am through the day yesterday, the opinion was downloaded over 93,000 times from our servers. Because of the rise of the Internet and the accompanying ease of distributing the Justices’ own words, there seems a good chance that Heller is on track to be one of the most widely read Supreme Court opinions by the general public of all-time.

And I've had not one, but two people send me essays via email, asking me to post them if I found them worthy.

Here's guest essay #2 by blogosphere commenter RAH:

Heller, Its Implications and Expected Influence
By RAH

First of all this was a very narrow case, because for decades people were scared the Supreme Court would say it was not an individual right. We all knew that it was because it so clearly states that, but there had been several Circuit Court cases that said it wasn't. These were the collectivist rights interpretations. The first break was the Emerson case, which was really a case about guns owned by people who had a restraining order but had permutations of the 2nd amendment. The research done by that Court led to the DC Circuit Court decision. The DC Circuit Court was well documented and really a landmark decision and since it was in DC and where really important cases often end up.

In order to make this as sure as bet as possible, several candidates were picked and were clean good, decent citizen; not criminals. Their stories were sympathetic and no one could feel that if they lost, they deserved it. That got rid of the animus to criminals caught and trying to get out via the 2nd amendment. Even so they barely got through on the standing issue.

Third, no other complications of incorporation were allowed to derail the central question: "does the 2nd Amendment protect individuals?" DC laws were not a complete ban on the private right to keeps firearms and handguns. Cop and retired cops were ok to have guns. DC did not have a reputation of prosecuting legitimate self-defense cases with a shotgun. There was such an instance about a year or two ago when a resident defended himself in the home with a shotgun and he was not prosecuted for failure to have it in a disassembled condition. DC did have a handgun ban and this case was targeted against the handgun ban. It included the onerous restrictions on the functionality of long arms just to prevent DC from saying they do allow self-defense capability. Handguns have been the target of anti-gun organizations for 30 years, not long arms. It is only in recent years that certain long arms and many common ones been slated for banning as shown by NJ this year. So this case included questions asked about long arms and handguns. DC conceded the long arms. The trigger lock requirement was a throwaway issue that the Heller team expected to lose. But by the grace of God the DC actual statute said the gun had to be disassembled and could not be move from room to room. That was so offensive that the trigger locks got thrown out.

If you had a case that argued trigger locks were unreasonable without the heinous obstructions on the very functionality and movement of the long arm that DC statute had, I am sure they would have been considered reasonable. NO case prior to this actually tried to get rid of trigger locks as a requirement. In fact the idea of making a gun inoperable by internal trigger locks or fantastic future tech that would only allow the owner to use was being debated in several state houses. In fact trigger locks were just accepted as a given since I had not heard of any state once they were instituted, that took them away. This ruling gets rid of them lock, stock and barrel.

So, a clean case with basically a single question and a throwaway question. Should have been a slam-dunk for individual rights. But Supreme Court had been ducking this for decades and no one was sure the Supremes wanted to take on a political hot potato.

But the DC circuit made it a very intriguing case with their extraordinary ruling. I believe that Alito, Roberts, and Scalia wanted to hear the case to make their mark for history. Plus Scalia has been concerned since early 1990's we would lose this question with the strange rulings coming out. Thomas was on the pro gun right side and Alito had indicated that he thought machine guns in a previous case were protected.

Kennedy was uncertain, but it really sounded this was personal to Kennedy, that he was personally afraid of an attack in his home and he wanted the right to shoot back without fear of getting charged in DC. I expect Kennedy has a residence in DC or at least has a personal fear of home invasion. Souter lives in New Hampshire and is a stubborn old coot, and he knows he is safe where he lives. No personal reason there to declare it is an individual right. Stevens and Breyer are too liberal and swayed by getting the right societal results. Ginsburg knows well this is an individual right, but she is pro gun control. (Ed.: Interesting side-note. Souter was mugged while jogging in May of 2004. I guess the old saw that "A conservative is a liberal who's been mugged" doesn't hold water.)

The militia preface is just a purpose, and individual ownership of arms fulfills that purpose. This goes hand in glove. But the arguments were surprisingly strong in previous cases and the scholarship that pushed the agenda of a collective right, which seems to be law-speak. Thankfully DC totally screwed up in the arguments before the DC Circuit Court. Plus, DC is not a state but a part of the federal government and as such, the militia right of the states to protect against the federal government does not apply.

Even with all that to support us, it was 5-4. Thus the strength of the emotional argument of the cities that in order to be able to govern themselves they have to be able to regulate the use of dangerous tools that really are making havoc with the abuse use by criminals. The Supreme Court has always been very respectful of the legislature's abilities to govern a city, and public safety is a strong emotional argument.

In order to make sure that Scalia had the control of the opinion without a lot of confusing concurrences and differing opinions that will just mess up future cases, he gave a few throw-away lines like "reasonable restrictions," like that was in the original militia acts that prevented felons, drunkards and crazy folk. In fact he deleted drunkards and left in women and children by implication by not explicitly disallowing them. This leaves the issue of age restrictions up to various legislatures where public opinion can argue that issue. Any statute is easier to overturn than what is stated in a Supreme Court decision.

He gave a bit away by very vague and later deniable restrictions on "unusual and dangerous." This was to relieve fears that the 1934 Act was imperiled. But he never said that machines guns are not covered by the 2nd. I thought that was very sly. Unusual and dangerous could be RPG's and Bazookas, not the standard M4. You have to admit less people have RPG's and Bazookas than machine guns. Plus the 1934 act allows machine guns and only taxes them to avoid that act being challenged as violating the 2nd. But the 1986 law is very exposed to challenge. That is a total ban of a class of arms that are common, just based on year or manufacture. That is capricious and arbitrary. This also shuts down the "assault weapons" bans since they are not unusual or dangerous as compared to hunting rifles.

Since registration was not argued, they could not decide that. Previous case law has indicated that you cannot license or register a right. This should be easily challenged on same grounds that you can't register a specific religion or newspaper or speech. He only allowed that Heller could register since Heller did not claim that was violation of his 2nd amendment right. Possibly Levy did not want to add too many questions to reduce chances of failure and confusion. That is easily left to another day and case. A side note is that Heller wanted to keep his work weapon to take home at night and he is a federal judicial security guard. They usually are using semi auto Glocks or Beretta 92F's. DC was explicitly ordered to give Heller his license, and if his gun is a semi-automatic, that gets rid of DC's desperate rear guard action of banning semi-automatics. (Ed, note: Not without another lawsuit.)

Also, Scalia left in a very broad definition of arms, which encompasses anything from edged weapons, nunchuks, and tasers or anything a person could use or throw. Please see the relevant section on pg 7:
Before addressing the verbs "keep" and "bear," we interpret their object: "Arms." The 18th-century meaning is no different from the meaning today. The 1773 edition of Samuel Johnson's dictionary defined "arms" as "weapons of offence, or armour of defence." Dictionary of the English Language 107 (4th ed.) (hereinafter Johnson). Timothy Cunningham's important 1771 legal dictionary defined "arms" as "any thing that a man wears for his defence, or takes into his hands, or useth in wrath to cast at or strike another." A New and Complete Law Dictionary (1771); see also N. Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language (1828) (reprinted 1989) (hereinafter Webster) (similar).
This includes state's prohibition of body armor for civilians and non-police

Once incorporation is won, we can use this definition to change a lot of unnecessary restrictions in state laws.

The carry provision is on pg. 11:
From our review of founding-era sources, we conclude that this natural meaning was also the meaning that "bear arms" had in the 18th century. In numerous instances, "bear arms" was unambiguously used to refer to the carrying of weapons outside of an organized militia.
Thus, carry is also explicitly stated in the decision as part of the 2nd amendment. I really like that he used Ginsburg's definition of carry which had carry in a variety of forms from pg 10:
In Muscarello v. United States, 524 U. S. 125 (1998), in the course of analyzing the meaning of "carries a firearm" in a federal criminal statute, JUSTICE GINSBURG wrote that “[s]urely a most familiar meaning is, as the Constitution’s Second Amendment . . . indicate[s]: 'wear, bear, or carry . . . upon the person or in the clothing or in a pocket, for the purpose . . . of being armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another person.' " Id., at 143 (dissenting opinion.)
The ability to carry was thus defined and protected despite DC attempts to think otherwise. That is why he gave the ability for legislatures to regulate concealed carry. Beside that has already been a traditional state privilege as evidence by the many states that have legalized CCW.


The term keep was also defined on pg. 8:
Thus, the most natural reading of 'keep Arms' in the Second Amendment is to "have weapons."
That demolished any future attempt to ban the ability to keep handguns and other arms.

Scalia gave the pro and con of incorporation with the definite implication that all of the Bill of Rights has to be incorporated against the States. It was like he gave the primer for the next case.


Scalia gave us everything we asked for and plus. He could not argue other facets because they were not part of the case, but he did give directions for those.

So future cases are the incorporation and bans in town and localities. Philly just lost any chance of a ban even if they could have got it past the PA legislature. This also gave cover for the PA state legislature to resist a city's emotional pleas.

So let’s celebrate, this was a real victory. But we must push further against Chicago, SF, and NYC on their capricious permits. Keep up with the fights for CCW in the states and preemption laws. Continue to contest all the little infringements like the hassling of open carry in PA and other states. Our goal is to get open carry nationwide and no restrictions on transport. Get to the point to buy and sell over interstate lines for handguns. Open and CCW carry in National Parks and Monuments and all federal lands. Allow them to restrict in government buildings, airports and probably the National Mall for anti terrorism purposes. But make sure these gains are done through the legislature since we may want to roll them back further later in the future. Like when the terrorism risk is much lower.

Not a bad analysis. Not bad at all.

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

Prelude:
If big business is so right-wing, why do huge banks fund liberal and left-wing charities, activists, and advocacy groups, then brag about it in commercials and publicity campaigns? How to explain that there's virtually no major issue in the culture wars - from abortion to gay marriage to affirmative action - where big business has played a major role on the American right while there are dozens of examples of corporations supporting the liberals side?
That's the lede for this:
Indeed, the myth of the right-wing corporation allows the media to tighten liberalism's grip on both corporations and the culture. John McCain perfectly symbolizes this catch-22 of modern liberalism. McCain despises the corrupting effect of "big money" in politics, but he is also a major advocate of increased government regulation of business. Apparently he cannot see that the more government regulates business, the more business is going to take an interest in "regulating" government. Instead, he has concluded that he should try to regulate political speech which is like decrying the size of the garbage dump and deciding the best thing to do is regulate the flies. - Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism, pp. 312-313.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
You should understand that many of us gun owners today feel the same way as the Cheyenne and Lakota did about the predatory federal government in 1876 -- especially after the Olofson case proved to all of us who were paying attention that Waco Rules still govern the ATF. You can and will do anything we can't or won't stop you from doing. The rule of law -- the faint hope for the justice of a fair trial -- is no longer likely for the gun owners your agency selects as targets. Olofson proves that. - Mike Vanderboegh at Mindful Musings, "Closed Hand": An Open Letter to the ATF's Jim Cavanaugh

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Damned Straight

Damned Straight!

Another Gun Blog notes that the calls for repeal of the Second Amendment have already started, and has informed the editors of the Chicago Tribune as to the facts they seem to dismiss - and I quote:
Repealing the 2nd Amendment doesn't make it go away anymore than repealing the rest of the Bill of Rights would allow the government to kick in my door and rob, beat, imprison and torture me with impunity. The 2nd Amendment is inherent and inalienable just like the rest of the Bill of Rights. Words on ink & parchment don't "grant" me the right to keep & bear arms, they merely codify a pre-existing right. My rights, all of them, exist independent of the Constitution.
Damned straight.

Now, about those 4th & 5th Amendment rights that have been folded, spindled, and mutilated over the last forty-odd years...

Help Another GunBlogger Out

Help Another GunBlogger Out?

Squeaky is kinda in a bind. It looks like she'll be eating ketchup soup for a week or two, if she can afford the water.

I've been a poor college student before. It sucks.

First, her job shorts her an entire week's pay, then her car died.

I can't forward her any money out of the Soldier's Angels/Jed's Dental Fund, but she's put up a tip jar (left sidebar of her blog) in her desperation. I've given her $50.

C'mon - help a gunblogger out. Any little bit helps. She's good people.

Heller High Water

Heller High Water

(Note: This essay is not authored by me. I received it by email with permission to reprint, but without full attribution. It's pretty good. I've modified it from the plain text email format for readability here, but other than that, I've done no other editing. The title of the piece is the author's. I'm not responsible for the pun, clever or not. - Kevin)

June 26th, the United State Supreme Court issued the opinion in District of Columbia, et.al. Petitioners v. Dick Anthony Heller, the first decision by the court to truly address the nature of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, and the extent of the rights it protects. As such, this was a highly anticipated decision, with momentous bearing on one of the most hotly contested issues in American society at the beginning of the 21st century. On one side of the debate stood millions of gun owners and the largest grassroots lobby in the United States, the NRA, and on the other a well funded lobby, and other citizens committed to the idea that guns are an unnecessary danger, prevalent in our society.

While the national corporate media has covered the outcome of this case, their analysis has been (and will be) long on the sensationalism of the arguments between these two sides, and very short on what the opinion actually says. For those who are interested in the actual language and analysis of the Heller decision, as well as some educated guesses as to the likely directions this decision will take us in the future, this analysis will deal with the issues of importance that stand out to both practicing criminal defense attorney and political science professor.

The most important things about Heller, other than the mere fact that it squarely addresses the Second Amendment, are that it is far more comprehensive than the national media are explaining. This is no mere overturning of the District of Columbia's pervasive gun ban, it absolutely establishes that the Second Amendment does indeed protect an individuals right to own and use firearms, as separate and distinct from any government controlled military organization. Justice Scalia, writing for the 5-4 majority, carefully analyzes each and every word of the Amendment, and does so from both a linguistic, legal, and historical perspective. He defines, "arms", "bear", "people", "right", "keep", "militia", "state", and fully deconstructs how they are put together. There is nothing left to define here, no words about which the meaning can be speculated, and no syntax structure left to be manipulated. Short of outright overturn of the decision (which every Supreme Court abhors to do), the individual nature of this right is now set in stone. Further, Justice Scalia (rightly) heaps scorn on some of the more obtuse and insultingly disingenuous arguments that have been made to eviscerate the meaning of the Second Amendment over the last few decades. We begin our examination of Heller with its disposal of those "chestnuts".

For at least a couple of decades, we've been forced to endure the catchphrase that the Second Amendment only would allow private ownership of muskets and muzzleloaders, since that was what the founders were calling firearms. This was what would be called a "compromise position" uttered by the self congratulatory, semi-educated, through a haze of clove cigarette smoke. Justice Scalia harshly brought them to reality with the following:
Some have made the argument, bordering on the frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 19th century are protected by the Second Amendment. We do not interpret constitutional rights that way. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications, and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search, the Second Amendment extends, prima faciae, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.
The second venerable "chestnut" that has long been a lamppost for gun opponents to slouch against during any debate, has been to claim that the Second Amendment is only a "collective" right, indicating that it has to do with "militia service" or some existent group organized by the government, such as police forces, National Guard Units, or the proverbial "posse". While Justice Scalia spends considerable time on the exploration of the "militia" idea, before disposing of the gun opponents agenda for that phrase, he deals a swift death blow to the idea that the Second Amendment is some kind of "collective" right. He notes that the Second Amendment specifically says the "right of the people", and goes on to add that;
The unamended Constitution and the Bill of Rights use the phrase "right of the people" two other times, in the First Amendment's Assembly-and-Petition Clause and in the Fourth Amendment's Search-and Seizure Clause. The Ninth Amendment uses very similar terminology.[direct quote removed] All three of these instances unambiguously refer to individual rights, not "collective" rights, or rights that may be exercised only through participation in some corporate body.
In footnote here he says that Justice Stevens contention that the right is conditioned on membership in a militia, and is "primarily collective in nature", Justice Scalia calls "dead wrong", citing McDonald v. Smith, 472 U.S. 479(1985) which defined the historical origins of another individual right set forth in the Bill of Rights. Writing for the majority Justice Scalia notes that, "Nowhere else in the Constitution does a 'right' attributed to 'the people' refer to anything other than an individual right." In fact, he says, "We start therefore with the presumption that the Second Amendment right is exercised individually and belongs to all Americans."

The opinion spends much of its length dealing with just how, precisely; the "militia" concept is entwined with the right to bear arms. In short, he says that the Second Amendment is divided into two distinct parts. The part that talks about "militia" is what he calls a "prefatory clause", a phrase used only to clarify or justify the important part of the statement, the "operative clause". The operative clause here is, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed".

He clearly states that the operative clause is based on the long standing conflicts in England, where the government sought to disarm groups that opposed it, to better establish tyranny, and is the codification of a pre-existing right. Hence, the word "infringed", making it clear that the people already have a right to keep and bear arms. Had the amendment been designed to give a heretofore unknown right to the people, it would have read something like, "…does hereby grant to the people a right to keep and bear arms". (The founders were followers of the philosophy of the 18th century liberals philosophers, like John Locke, and believed that humans had inalienable rights, not that humans were only to be "given" rights by a sovereign.)

He says that the prefatory clause does not serve as a limit on the operative clause, and that "…operative provisions should be given effect as operative provisions, and prologues as prologues….[if] the prologue itself should be one of the factors that go into the determination of whether the operative provision is ambiguous [that] would cause the prologue to be used to produce ambiguity rather than resolve it."

He notes that the Constitution itself empowers congress to make a Navy and to raise Armies, but that the militias are something different. He argues that the plain language and history indicate the militias were pre-existing to the government, and were composed of all able bodied men, armed with their personal weapons. He conveys that there were many reasons the founders felt that a militia would be "necessary to the security of a free state", among them repelling invasion. Though he does not mention it specifically, it is worth noting that Admiral Yamamoto advised the Japanese military ruling council against a land invasion of California, primarily because the large number of armed citizens would make it an ungovernable quagmire. This shows that the founders belief that the security of the nation would be bolstered by having an armed populace was borne out, at least through the 20th century. Scalia also draws attention to the writings of Hamilton describing that a nation of armed, able bodied men, are better able to resist tyranny, and also spends some time discussing the history of the struggles between Catholics and Protestants for control of the monarchy, as the origins of this knowledge of armed resistance to tyranny. Thus he illuminates that the prefatory phrase about the militia is merely explanatory as to the operative phrase of just why it is so important that the "right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed".

The fundamental right established, the remaining three elements of this decision, upon which so many people waited so anxiously, were how the court was to deal with "crime", "regulation", and the types of "arms" protected.

Justice Scalia repeatedly referred to the right to use firearms to protect oneself in the home or on ones property. Over and over again, this entered into his analysis at all levels. This established two things never before addressed by the Court. First, that the 2nd Amendment is now related to an individual's right of self defense, not merely as a mechanism for defense of the nation against foreign aggression or domestic tyranny. Secondly it clearly establishes the right of a person to use a firearm in self defense. This second point, while it has escaped comment in the popular media, was hammered home, by repetition, throughout the opinion. By choosing this language, Judge Scalia laid a bulwark against any future efforts to undermine this right of self defense, such as is currently happening in England. There, many recent cases have found persons convicted for using deadly force to defend themselves from violent attack. It seems likely Judge Scalia took this opportunity to prevent such a perversion of justice from finding roots here in America. He goes so far as to call it the "core lawful purpose of self defense".

The court acknowledges the difficulties posed to communities by "handgun violence" but says that the Constitution leaves communities with a variety of tools for combating the problem, "But the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table". To wit, governments and communities can't absolutely prohibit handguns, "held and used for self defense in the home".

As to the right of the government(s) to regulate ownership of firearms, the court clearly states that some regulations are permissible. The court notes that like most rights, this right is not unlimited. Just as there are permissible limits on the freedom of speech, and the freedom to practice ones religions, so too there are reasonable limits that can be placed on ones right to keep and bear armaments. Scalia and the court note that the longstanding prohibitions which prevent convicted felons, or the mentally ill from owning firearms is permissible, as are restrictions preventing the carrying of firearms into sensitive locations. Specifically named are schools, and government buildings. Likewise the opinion specifically permits laws which impose conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Scalia says these are merely examples, and are not to be seen as the complete list, so we can presume that many more specific restrictions will not be undone by this opinion. It seems the ATF officers who conduct checks on gun stores and licensed dealers will not need to be updating their resumes, nor will the wand wielding inspectors at our courts, schools, and airports. However, the strong wording on the right to use a firearm to defend oneself in the home makes it likely any "school zone" bans which overlap anyone individuals private residence are likely defunct.

Lastly, the court did give some guidance in the area of the types of firearms protected by the 2nd Amendment, the area of great interest to both the enemies of gun ownership and firearms enthusiasts alike. Over the last couple of decades, this has been the central arena in the battle over guns in the US. Though this decision in no way creates a definitive list of what specific guns can be regulated or to degree, there is some pretty strong language limiting the governments reach in this regard. On several occasion in the opinion, the court specifically upholds the ban on sawed off shotguns, as an example of the type of permissible regulation of weapons that are "unsafe" and not typical of the weapons used by the average soldier. The opinion cites the colonial regulations on the storage of gunpowder to minimize fire damage, and a singular colonial era regulation on keeping a loaded firearm for its danger to firefighters. This analysis would indicate that the government may prohibit ownership of particularly unusual or dangerous armaments. Do not expect regulations prohibiting flame throwers, rocket launchers, explosives or heavy weapons to be invalidated. (I would note here that flamethrowers are not prohibited, or even heavily regulated. In fact, you can buy them fairly easily, as they have agricultural uses. - Ed.) However, this does not seem to extend to any weapons commonly used by the average soldier, or citizen. The popularity and utility of handguns, for use in personal self defense is given a great deal of discussion, and it seems that any "handgun" ban is going to be absolutely unconstitutional. Justice Scalia notes that many people prefer handguns for defense within the home because of their ease of handling in close quarters, and the fact that they free a second hand to do such necessary tasks as dialing the police, and though he doesn't mention it, hold a flashlight.

Of great interest in light of the recent battles fought over "assault style weapons", was a singular paragraph of great depth and analysis, that this author has yet to see addressed in the popular media. It is almost a summation of the entire analysis of the 2nd Amendment;
It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service - M-16 rifles and the like - may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendments ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias of the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large….But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.
This seems to say that like the analysis of the right of speech to be extended to our fax machines and cell phones, the right to militarily useful weapons should be protected. Light machine guns, and squad automatic weapons are probably not protected and may be "infringed", but the average infantryman's rifle, "M-16 rifles and the like", appear to be protected specifically by the Second Amendment. At least, for as long as the Supreme Court stands as it does today.

That said, the opinion does expose some weaknesses in the protection if affords. The exceptions made for regulation and licensing of firearms would be deeply disturbing if adopted on a wider scale than by the small political areas that will now be losing their comprehensive bans. The weakness in the decision, specifically, is that there is great deference shown to "licensing", which is treated as an acceptable accommodation to the right, for the District of Columbia. If licensing is a permissible way to regulate handguns, then by analogy, it would be permissible for the Federal government to potentially require licensing of all firearms. To allow this to occur would build a fatal weakness into our basic freedom, since registration makes later confiscation, by tyrant or invader, not only possible but likely. Historical examples of registration based confiscation are common, and not limited to the activities of the Nazi's, both in Germany and immediately upon conquest of a neighboring state which "enjoyed" a gun registration scheme.

Also, there is the phraseology that places it within governmental power to regulate the commercial sale and interstate commercial transport of arms. This may be the single greatest threat to our continued enjoyment of the benefits of the Second Amendment. There have been and continue to be ongoing attempts to prohibit or limit the person to person sale of firearms, without involving a "licensed" intermediary. These efforts to "close the gun show loophole" are largely unopposed by the firearms manufacture and retail industries, because they see the used gun market as competition to their revenue flow. However, this simple custom in the law is the razor thin edge between our current system and de facto national registration. This is not merely speculation, for this author personally worked on a felony criminal case in Arizona, which directly demonstrated the existence of national gun registration in the year 2003.

In that case, an Arizona native, and lifelong resident of the state, with no criminal record, was charged with shooting at a "repo" man. There was no physical evidence of the event, no shell casings or bullet strikes, and no gunshot residue on the hands of the Arizonian. The only basis for the stop and arrest were the word of the "repo" man, and the fact that the Arizonian did own a firearm. In the several months before the case went to trial, the prosecution was able to send the serial number of the pistol to the BATF, who contacted a licensed gun dealer in an outlying city in Arizona. That dealer FAXed the firearm purchase form, which had been filled out nearly 10 years prior, at the purchase of the pistol by the man now accused of the crime. During the trial, the local county prosecutor was able to produce a copy of the actual form filled out by the defendant, with his handwriting, and signature, from a lawful purchase nearly a decade old. Bear in mind, this was not a federal crime, or even a high profile crime, when the accused had no criminal record, and there were no injuries. If a low level, local, prosecutor, chasing down a simple local crime, can easily acquire the purchase forms from a lawful firearms purchase, nearly a decade old, from merely a manufacturers serial number, how is that not a national registration scheme already in place? Only because if a "gun confiscator" came to the addresses on each of those forms, the persons named could now answer, "I sold it to some guy 5 years ago". If the Heller decision permits laws to be passed which require all purchases to be either from licensed dealers, or that the transaction be done through a licensed dealer, the we automatically have national gun registration. The first and most important step for confiscation by either invader or tyrant.

While Justice Scalia concludes the majority opinion by writing "it is not the role of this court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct", it will unfortunately require ongoing activism and vigilance to make sure another government body does not make it moot. - D. Roth

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
If the 2nd (Amendment) took the mugging yesterday that the 4th had taken through the '80s and '90s, we wouldn't be allowed to own butterknives, much less duck guns. - Tam

Friday, June 27, 2008

Complete Silence

Complete Silence

It's been almost 48 hours since the Heller decision was delivered. The Brady Campaign has made a statement. The Violence Policy Center has made a statement. The ACLU has made a statement.

But there is one organization that, for as long as I can remember, has stated that there can't be an individual right to arms because the State must have a monopoly on violence:
The rule of law, the state's monopoly on violence, and the state's internal sovereignty all mean the same thing.

--

Any hint of protection for a fundamental or procedural right to be privately armed outside of a military or militia context would validate not just a malignant, anarchic vision of social and political life but also an insurrectionist doctrine. The Constitution becomes perverted. It defines treason as the waging of war against the United States and then secures a civil right to commit the same. Several amici refer to the insurrectionist doctrine but do not emphasize the centrality of this in gun right ideologies, how widely it is adhered to, and its constitutional impermissibility. The right of armed self-defense includes the right of armed self-defense against the government itself, the same government the gun rights claimants want to secure the right.
The Potowmack Institute has been silent since March 5, 2008, just before oral arguments were heard.

Personally, I'm with commenter "dr mac" from a post at SayUncle:
If 4 of 9 SCOTUS justices can so easily cast aside the Bill of Rights then I will always hang on to my guns, thank you very much.
I think "insurrectionists" make him nervous or something. I suppose Mr. G. Eyclesheimer Ernst thinks we should all be "good citizens" and go along with whatever the government tells us needs to be done because they know better, even if that includes killing people the government doesn't like and cremating them in big ovens.

After all, the government has to have a monopoly on violence!

Like hell.

So, wazzup Mr. Ernst? Cat got your tongue? Or have you packed to go to Mr. Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe? You know, where the government has a monopoly on the use of force.

Selling the Mustang

Selling the Mustang

I have a 1967 original big-block fastback Mustang - 390FE, C6 auto, 3.25:1 open 9", originally equipped with power steering & A/C (that doesn't work), overhead console, but no floor console, floor shifter, power front disc / rear drum brakes. It's been repainted from the original Raven Black to a metallic blue so deep you have to see it in bright sunlight to realize it's not black.

I've owned it for more than ten years.

I've put less than 2,000 miles on it.

It's been parked in my garage for three years and does not currently run.

I also have a 428CJ bare block that's been magnafluxed and sonic checked, and a 428CJ crank that's been turned .020/.020 under, and a brand new in the box Edelbrock Performer RPM intake manifold, and some other miscellaneous pieces and parts from a '68 GT.

I've decided it's time to choose one expensive hobby and stick with it, and shooting is the winner. It's time to sell the 'Stang.

When I bought it, it had an appraisal that said it was worth $11,900. I have no idea what it's worth now. I need to get it running, and cleaned up thoroughly. I'm afraid the paint is burned from having bird droppings on it for an extended period (yes, I know), and it's got a touch of body cancer in the passenger side door that was there when I bought it.

So, for anybody out there, is eBay Motors worth it? Have you bought/sold a car through that venue? Any clue what my asking price should be (once I get it running?) I'd take pictures, but it's filthy, and I can't easily get it out of the garage, where it's surrounded by a ton of crap.

Any advice is welcome.

Want to Ask Dave Hardy a Question

Want to Ask Dave Hardy a Question?

In a public forum? He'll be online at the offices of the Arizona Daily Star at 1:00PM Mountain/4:00PM Eastern for an online chat.

He'd Have Loved Yesterday

He'd Have Loved Yesterday

I am reminded by Mostly Cajun of a sad anniversary:

Rob Smith passed away two years ago yesterday.

I started blogging over five years ago just to debate a commenter from his site on gun control.

He'd have loved yesterday's Heller decision. And he'd have gone BALLISTIC (pun intended) over this story that, strangely no one but FOX News wants to cover:
Police Union Standing By Mexican Militia Reports

Police documents show that at least one of the suspects involved in a home invasion and homicide were active members of the Mexican Army.

A top member of a Phoenix police union is standing by reports that at least one of the men involved in a Monday morning home invasion and homicide was an active member in the Mexican Army.

"Even if you put aside the Mexican military, you have illegals in the country...they're protected with tactical gear using tactical strategies in police uniforms willing to ambush police officers. I think that's bad enough," said Mark Spencer, President of the Phoenix Police Enforcement Association.

While on the J.D. Hayworth show Tuesday, Mark Spencer announced that the suspects were hired by drug cartels to perform home invasions and murders.

The incident at 8329 W. Cypress St. resulted in the death of the homeowner. Between 50 and 100 rounds were fired at the house.

Spencer said a police officer told him that one of the men captured said they were completely prepared to ambush Phoenix police, but ran out of ammunition.

He added that all were all dressed in military tactical gear and were armed with AR-15 assault rifles. Three other men involved in the invasion escaped.
ABCNNBCBS? Not a peep I can find. Only FOX had even a short blurb about it.

I still miss the crusty old fart. Guitar Man, indeed.

As Ragin' Dave put it,
Never once did you read his writing and go "Meh. Whatever."

There's still nobody like him writing today.
RIP, Rob.

Screw that. If there IS an afterlife, I hope he's raising hell there!

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
Being a gentleman of decency, restraint, and a high regard for the social niceties, I elected not to pursue my momentary desire to utilize my extensive martial arts training in order to break both their necks and thereby prevent the evolutionary horrors the two of them might one day unleash upon an unsuspecting planet should they ever happen to stumble upon a method of propagating their brainless species.

--

Call it the Art of Enlightened Condescension or the Zen of Contempt, whatever you like, but the only other serious option is to withdraw into a hermit's cave and never communicate with the larger part of humanity again.
- "Vox Day," The importance of condescension

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Because Heller Was a 5-4 Decision

Because Heller Was a 5-4 Decision

Just a reminder, the "F^*K IT! McCAIN '08" bumperstickers are still for sale, proceeds benefiting Soldier's Angels. Feel free to pass the info around, and if you're a blogger who bought some, please give us some linky-love like Rachel and Nathan did.

I Just Spoke to Alan Gura

I Just Spoke to Alan Gura

No, I'm not kidding.

I called his office number hoping to leave him a message on his answering machine. He picked up the phone.

I congratulated him on the win, and thanked him for all the work he did to get us here today.

Good news: Alan is working with the Second Amendment Foundation and the Illinois State Rifle Association in the lawsuit they filed this morning against Chicago's handgun ban. More information is available at ChicagoGunCase.com. There will be a press release tomorrow, but right now it says:
Following Thursday’s (5-4) ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects an individual civil right to keep and bear arms, and that a municipal gun ban violates that right, the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) filed a federal lawsuit (complaint) challenging the City of Chicago’s long-standing handgun ban.

“Chicago’s handgun ban has failed to stop violent crime,” SAF founder Alan Gottlieb stated. “It’s time to give the Constitution a chance.”

Go! Read!

We live in interesting times, indeed!

HELLER AFFIRMED

HELLER AFFIRMED!!

The decision was, unsurprisingly, 5-4 on partisan lines: Justice Breyer dissented, joined by Justices Stevens, Souter and Ginsburg. One opinion on each side, so there goes that fear.

Correction: TWO dissents, not one.

A link to the decision as soon as it is available.

The decision is HERE (157 page PDF file).

First excerpt, p. 1:
Held:
1. The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.
(Emphasis mine.)

Last update for me this morning:
Because Heller conceded at oral argument that the D. C. licensing law is permissible if it is not enforced arbitrarily and capriciously, the Court assumes that a license will satisfy his prayer for relief and does not address the licensing requirement. Assuming he is not disqualified from exercising Second Amendment rights, the District must permit Heller to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home.
So licensing and registration is not "infringement."

Fuck THAT.

Interesting Statistics

Interesting Statistics

SCOTUSblog is running three polls on its live coverage.

The questions are:

Why are you following our coverage today: A) the Heller decision, B) another reason.

Heller: 96%

Are you A) a lawyer, B) a law student or C) neither.

A) 18% B) 14%, C) 68%

How many firearms do you own: A) 0, B) 1, C) 2, D) more than 2

A) 26% B) 6% C) 4% D) 63%

Are you a member of the NRA? A) yes, B) no

A) 46% B) 54%

They're paying attention, too:
We will know the result in the Heller case almost immediately -- i.e., affirmed, reversed, or vacated and remanded. But the nuances will be critical and we won't get the opinion itself for a few minutes. So be patient.
But I WANT IT NOW!!!! ;-)

SCOTUSblog is concerned by the level of interest:
Note that we're temporarily disabling comments to make sure the server isn't overrun.
UPDATE: New poll question: Are you pleased with the decision in Heller?

86% YES, 14% NO.

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
The America of my time line is a laboratory example of what can happen to democracies, what has eventually happened to all perfect democracies throughout all histories. A perfect democracy, a 'warm body' democracy in which every adult may vote and all votes count equally, has no internal feedback for self-correction. It depends solely on the wisdom and self-restraint of citizens… which is opposed by the folly and lack of self-restraint of other citizens. What is supposed to happen in a democracy is that each sovereign citizen will always vote in the public interest for the safety and welfare of all. But what does happen is that he votes his own self-interest as he sees it… which for the majority translates as 'Bread and Circuses.'

'Bread and Circuses' is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure. Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader—the barbarians enter Rome. - Robert A. Heinlein To Sail Beyond the Sunset
The Heller decision will be handed down a little bit later this morning. That decision will help tell us just how far our "cancer of democracy" has metastasized in the body politic.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Do They WANT Vigilantism

Do They WANT Vigilantism?

Today's Kennedy v. Louisiana Supreme Court ruling (PDF file) is another 5-4 "victory" for the politically Left-leaning members of the Court. Beginning at page seven in the decision is a graphic description of what the scrote did to his eight year old stepdaughter. That description begins:
Petitioner's crime was one that cannot be recounted in these pages in a way sufficient to capture in full the hurt and horror inflicted on his victim or to convey the revulsion society, and the jury that represents it, sought to express by sentencing petitioner to death.
He's right. By the end of it I was wondering why the sack of excrement was still breathing. This is Louisiana, right? Don't they have a lot of swamp and alligators down there?

I have a nine year old granddaughter. If some subhuman did this to her, I'd sit in a prison cell for the rest of my life, or take the needle content in knowing that he'd never do it to anyone else - ever, at the same time anguished that I hadn't prevented it in the first place. I've made this point before.

Justice Alito wrote the dissent. It begins on page 42:
The Court today holds that the Eighth Amendment categorically prohibits the imposition of the death penalty for the crime of raping a child. This is so, according to the Court, no matter how young the child, no matter how many times the child is raped, no matter how many children the perpetrator rapes, no matter how sadistic the crime, no matter how much physical or psychological trauma is inflicted, and no matter how heinous the perpetrator's prior criminal record may be. The Court provides two reasons for this sweeping conclusion: First, the Court claims to have identified "a national consensus" that the death penalty is never acceptable for the rape of a child; second, the Court concludes, based on its "independent judgment," that imposing the death penalty for child rape is inconsistent with " 'the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.' " Because neither of these justifications is sound, I respectfully dissent.
He then goes into a heavily annotated and deeply legal discussion of the existing precedents, but to my mind this is the key graph of the dissent:
The Court is willing to block the potential emergence of a national consensus in favor of permitting the death penalty for child rape because, in the end, what matters is the Court's "own judgment" regarding "the acceptability of the death penalty." Although the Court has much to say on this issue, most of the Court's discussion is not pertinent to the Eighth Amendment question at hand. And once all of the Court's irrelevant arguments are put aside, it is apparent that the Court has provided no coherent explanation for today's decision.
(My emphasis.) In essence, Alito just illustrated that the court did what Alex Kozinski called constitutionalizing their personal preferences - "build(ing) magnificent legal edifices on elliptical constitutional phrases - or even the white spaces between lines of constitutional text."

Today on the Hugh Hewitt radio program Hugh had "the Smart Guys" on again - Law professor (and now Dean of the new U.C. Irvine School of Law) Erwin Chemerinsky and Chapman University Dean John Eastman. Chemerinsky was ecstatic over the "evolving standards of decency" language of the decision. I'm trying to get a transcript of that portion of the show, because it is a textbook example of "Living Document" interpretation of the Constitution, and Alito points it out here. Alito makes one more excellent point:
The Court's final — and, it appears, principal — justification for its holding is that murder, the only crime for which defendants have been executed since this Court's 1976 death penalty decisions, is unique in its moral depravity and in the severity of the injury that it inflicts on the victim and the public. But the Court makes little attempt to defend these conclusions.

With respect to the question of moral depravity, is it really true that every person who is convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death is more morally depraved than every child rapist? Consider the following two cases. In the first, a defendant robs a convenience store and watches as his accomplice shoots the store owner. The defendant acts recklessly, but was not the triggerman and did not intend the killing.

In the second case, a previously convicted child rapist kidnaps, repeatedly rapes, and tortures multiple child victims. Is it clear that the first defendant is more morally depraved than the second?
One wonders how Justice Alito managed to refrain from accusing the Court's majority in this case of moral depravity of their own.

As an aside, my boss has his own idea as to how child-rapists should be punished.

In Premature Celebration

In Premature Celebration...

...I'm going to spend the rest of my short evening loading 100 rounds of .308 Winchester with 155 grain Lapua Scenar bullets and Varget powder. I need to make a trip to the range this weekend, and I want to see how the 5R likes the lighter projectile.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Oh, THAT Should Be Fascinating

Oh, THAT Should Be Fascinating

The D.C. Wire reports:
The U.S. Supreme Court today did not release its long-awaited ruling on whether the District's handgun ban violates the Second Amendment. That means the potentially landmark decision will almost certainly come tomorrow morning when the court is planning to issue the last of its rulings for the term. The case, District of Columbia v. Heller, which was argued nearly four months ago, could settle the decades-old debate over whether the Second Amendment grants individuals the right to own firearms.

Mayor Adrain M. Fenty is planning to hold a news conference at the John A. Wilson Building after the decision is announced.
It should be every bit as well-reasoned and factual as his last one.

And the Verdict IS

And the Verdict IS...

Exxon v. Baker - $2.5 Billion in punitive damages was too much. $507.5 million, tops, to match the compensatory damages.

Kennedy v. Louisiana - baby-rapers don't get the death penalty unless you can prove an intent to commit murder. If no one died, then... No one dies.

One more opinion pending today (leaving four for Thursday).... (@ 10:11 Eastern time)

Giles v. California. I'm not real sure what this one is, but Scalia wrote the majority opinion. You can read it here. (PDF file)

SCOTUSblog says "at least one more decision coming" leaving three for Thursday...

No Heller today. I guess the Justices want to be on a plane out of town when that one hits the 6 o'clock news. Thursday it is.

The last decision of the day is Plains Commerce v. Long Family Land and Cattle. Be still, my beating heart. Another 5-4 wherein the eeeevil right-wing has stolen more from the Red Man. Ginsberg, Stevens, Souter and Breyer dissented.

The Court has announced that "all of its remaining opinions" will be released tomorrow at 10:00AM Eastern.

Heller is tomorrow, for sure. It will not carry over.

UPDATE: Read this related piece at Concurrent Opinions.

In Keeping with Harshing Your Mellow

In Keeping with Harshing Your Mellow...

I would not be at all surprised if SCOTUS hands down the Heller decision today, since there has been another rampage shooting in a workplace this morning.
An employee shot and killed four of his fellow workers at a plastics plant in Henderson, Ky., on Wednesday, before shooting himself, the police said.

Two other workers at the plant, Atlantis Plastics, were also shot and they were transferred to hospitals in Evansville, Ind., the Henderson Police Department said in a statement. "The cause behind this incident is unknown, however, the suspect is known to have gotten into an argument with a supervisor earlier in the evening," the police statement said.

After the argument, the suspect left the plant for his regular break and when he returned he was carrying a handgun, police said. The identities of the victims and of the suspected killer were not immediately released, and it was not clear whether the supervisor was among those killed.
According to the radio report I listened to on the way in to the office this morning, the shooter went home, got a gun, came back and started shooting.

Boy, it's a good thing that people aren't allowed to keep firearms in their cars at work, isn't it? That kind of "common-sense thinking" prevents this sort of incident!

Right?

So, anyway, with this story starting off the day, I will not be surprised for SCOTUS to say, today, in Tam's words,
"It's an individual right, but only not."
Sorry, but the more I consider it, the less likely I find the idea that the courts will save us, and I've felt that way a LONG time.

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
I am incredibly lucky. I exist in the middle of the American middle class – the graviest of the gravy trains in the history of the planet. Hell, if I had a blindfold, a million darts, and a map of the world, nine-hundred-thousand throws would land me in a place worse off than here and now, and a lot of those would be traumatically worse. - Mike, in Wheel of Fortune at MIKE-ISTAN
Sometimes I need to be reminded of that, myself.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
Went to Kevin's place for my regular dose of "There went THAT good mood" .... - Firehand

Monday, June 23, 2008

No Heller Today

No Heller Today

SCOTUSblog reports that only three of the remaining ten decisions for this term were announced today. They also report:
The only opinion remaining from the March sitting is Heller. The only Justice without a majority opinion from that sitting is Justice Scalia.
Further:
The Court has announced that it will release opinions against(sic) at 10am Wednesday. Because seven opinions remain, it will almost certainly have one additional day. Based on past practice, that day likely will be Thursday.
Anybody taking bets on Heller being announced Thursday?

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
Criminals are often poor people who are led away in chains and go to state prison, for decades or lifetimes, for using guns as weapons against taxpayers. Politicians wear nice suits, drive luxury cars, and when they go to prison—federal prison, and only for a few months—they go away for using government as a weapon against taxpayers.

--

It is all about power in the end.
- John Kass, Chicago Tribune, Of course it's fair that they have guns and you don't
RTWT - it's worth your time.

Of course, politicians only go to jail if they use that weapon too obviously. Generally they get off scot-free.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

More Unintended Consequences

More Unintended Consequences

Or were they really unintended?

Do you own a turbo-diesel pickup truck? Buy it on the understanding that you could get good performance and fairly decent mileage, and your fuel would cost less than gasoline? Do you own a diesel car for the same reasons?

Are you now pissed off that diesel costs more, significantly more, than gasoline? Have you been blaming it on Congress for passing "low sulfur" restrictions? Do you believe that it costs more at the pump because it costs more to refine?

You'd be wrong.
One reason why diesel fuel today is higher priced than gasoline is because of the unintended consequences of the 2007 EPA mandated ULSD (Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel) fuel - and not necessarily because it costs more to produce...

Everything changed in October of 2006, when the new U.S. ULSD regulations were implemented. Current U.S. ULSD is regulated to contain no more than 15-parts per million sulfur. In actual practice, U.S. ULSD contains just 7 or 8-ppm, which perhaps not coincidentally allows our ULSD to meet the somewhat stricter 10-ppm sulfur regulations in Europe. So, ULSD produced here in the United States has, for the first time, become acceptable for use in Europe. According to a 2/08 article in Reuters entitled "ANALYSIS-Exports keep U.S. diesel prices above gasoline", they reported that U.S. diesel fuel is currently being exported in quantity. The economics of "Supply & Demand" no longer apply to the U.S. diesel fuel market. American truckers could boycott diesel fuel, and it wouldn't necessarily produce lower diesel fuel prices.

According to a June 2008 article at MSN, entitled: Why is the U.S. exporting gasoline and diesel?, they report that U.S. oil companies were exporting more than 1.8 million barrels of crude oil, gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined products per day. The top five buyers of U.S. petroleum products were Mexico, Canada, the Netherlands, Chile and Singapore. This article also indicated that Venezuela owns three CITGO refineries in the United States, and that about 30,000 barrels of refined products per day are being shipped back to Venezuela, where government-subsidized gas/diesel is currently being sold for a whopping $0.19 per gallon. If we weren't exporting diesel fuel, there would be more of a surplus, which could result in parity between gas and diesel fuel prices. What can we do? What should we do?
Hey, Maxine Waters and Maurice Hinchey, how about we "socialize" CITGO's refineries? I'm sure your good buddy Hugo Chavez wouldn't mind a bit!

In associated news, the same article reports:
Surprisingly, most of the world's "unconventional" sources of oil exist right here in the United States. These unconventional sources include the vast oil shale deposits called the Green River Formation, which are found spanning an ancient 17,000 square mile lake bed beneath Colorado, Utah and Wyoming (80% on federal lands). Oil shale can produce anywhere from 22-40 gallons of oil per ton of oil shale. A barrel of crude oil contains 42 gallons. Based on current extraction technology, at least 100 billion barrels of "commercially viable" crude oil is thought to exist in Green River Formation. (Note: the total amount of all oil shale within the U.S. is thought to contain a staggering 1.4 trillion barrels of crude oil, which is more than four times the estimated historic levels of oil found beneath Saudi Arabia.) With a current U.S. consumption rate of 20 million barrels per day, 100 billion barrels of crude oil derived from oil shale could meet all of the U.S. oil consumption needs for another 14 years - all by itself. See: www.fossil.energy.gov to learn more.

Shell scientists have created the technology required to economically extract large amounts of crude oil from oil shale without wrecking the environment. In fact, Shell's method is capable of extracting high quality light crude oil from oil shale deposits utilizing heated wells - not a rock mill operation, which does little damage to the environment. According to a November 2007 article in CNN Fortune - online magazine, a Department of Energy study was referenced that indicates the Green River deposits are predicted to produce 2 million barrels of oil per day by 2020 and as many as 5 million barrels per day by 2040 - assuming of course, that the environmental lobby and Washington could be convinced that the future of the U.S. depends on us becoming energy independent. Indeed, this level of production would rival that of the largest conventional oilfields in the world. 2007 estimates for cost per barrel came in at a low of $30/barrel, while cost estimates for a broader range of oil shale deposits range from a low $30 to as high as $90 per barrel. Shell's production methods are expected to yield more than one million barrels of oil per acre. Keep in mind that the Green River Formation encompasses 17,000 square miles.
I was certain I'd referenced Shell's extraction technology, called the "in situ conversion process" here before, but damn if I can find the piece now.

Adlink FAIL

Adlink FAIL

In association with a previous piece, It's a Good Thing the Japanese Don't Have any Guns!, I found a reference to this particular form of offing oneself as "Detergent Suicide." I did a quick Yahoo! search on the term.

Somehow, I think someone's adlink generator needs adult supervision. Click to see full size:

This One's for Most of the Marbles

This One's for All Most of the Marbles
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. Had they brought the same generous approach to the Second Amendment that they routinely bring to the First, Fourth and selected portions of the Fifth, they would have had no trouble finding an individual right to bear arms. - Alex Kozinski, dissenting (PDF file) the denial of an en banc rehearing of Silveira v. Lockyer in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, May 6, 2003
On March 9, 2007 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit found in favor of the plaintiffs in Parker vs. District of Columbia, for the first time overturning an existing gun law on the grounds that it violated the individual right to arms that is protected by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The D.C. Circuit is only the second to have found that the Second Amendment does, indeed protect an individual, and not a collective right. The first was the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in the U.S. v. Emerson decision of October, 2001 wherein the Court decided that the right protected was an individual right, but the law in question met that court's understanding of "limited, narrowly tailored specific exceptions or restrictions for particular cases that are reasonable and not inconsistent with the right of Americans generally to individually keep and bear their private arms as historically understood in this country" - "albeit likely minimally so".

Emerson and Silveira (along with the 9th Circuit's Nordyke v. King and Hickman v. Block before it) represented a "circuit split," wherein different circuits of the Courts of Appeal held different understandings of a fundamental Constitutional question. Emerson was appealed to the Supreme Court, and the appeal was denied. Silveira was appealed to the Supreme Court, and the appeal was denied.

Parker was appealed to the Supreme Court as D.C. v. Heller, and appeal was granted.

Oral arguments were heard on March 18, 2008.

It is most probable that the Supreme Court will hand down its decision tomorrow, the last Monday of this term.

The fundamental question at hand, and the only one I expect the Court to actually rule on, is whether the Second Amendment protects an individual right to arms, and that handguns are such arms as are protected by that Amendment.

I do not expect SCOTUS to rule on any other topic. Not on the level of scrutiny, not on the standing to sue of the other plaintiffs in the Parker suit (Dick Heller was the only person found to have standing to sue.) Not on the question of what other weapons are protected. And, most definitely, not on whether the Second Amendment is "incorporated" under the 14th Amendment's "equal protection" clause against infringement by state governments.

This one's for most of the marbles. IF our side wins (and after the Boumediene decision, I'm no longer quite as sanguine), there's still a long way to go.

And a Democrat Congress to approve new judges for at least the next two, probably four, and possibly sixteen or more years.

But as early as tomorrow we will get to see, again, just which Justices on the Supreme Court are willing to "constitutionalize their personal preferences."

UPDATE: As usual, the GeekWithA45 says it better than I can.

SayUncle Sez

SayUncle Sez...

"Don't scare white people."


Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

Generally good advice.

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
The bobsled is already over the edge of the slope, all we can do is try and ride out the bumps.

At least future generations won’t damn us, since they’ll be unable to read. - Tamara K.
Bringing you the finest in black, black snark since August, 2005

Useful Idiots

Useful Idiots

...at least, that's what the Soviets called them.


UPDATE: GreatBlueWhale informs me that this is the work of Carl Moore, who pens State of the Union. Thankee.

Here's another sample:

Heh. Indeed.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Watermelons


You know, "Green on the outside, Red on the inside."

This is pretty interesting. Via American Digest comes two links to two connected pieces; one by author Orson Scott Card, the other, a bit lower, by Rev. Donald Sensing.

From Card's piece, Obama's Real Religion:
Obama is a true believer in the religion of Environmentalism.

Not the science of the environment. Where that science survives, it provides us with a vital service; and it doesn't take any faith to believe in the findings of genuine scientists doing science properly.

No, I'm speaking of the religion. It's not an organized religion (though the U.N. did organize the great testament of faith in the utterly unproven doctrine of human-caused global warming), but neither was the English Puritanism that it so strongly resembles.

But don't take it from me. Take it from Freeman Dyson.

--

...in a recent review in the New York Review of Books, he wrote the following paragraphs that refer specifically to the Religion of Environmentalism:
All the books that I have seen about the science and economics of global warming ... miss the main point. The main point is religious rather than scientific.

There is a worldwide secular religion which we may call environmentalism, holding that we are stewards of the earth, that despoiling the planet with waste products of our luxurious living is a sin, and that the path of righteousness is to live as frugally as possible.

The ethics of environmentalism are being taught to children in kindergartens, schools, and colleges all over the world.

Environmentalism has replaced socialism as the leading secular religion. And the ethics of environmentalism are fundamentally sound. Scientists and economists can agree with Buddhist monks and Christian activists that ruthless destruction of natural habitats is evil and careful preservation of birds and butterflies is good.

The worldwide community of environmentalists -- most of whom are not scientists -- holds the moral high ground, and is guiding human societies toward a hopeful future. Environmentalism, as a religion of hope and respect for nature, is here to stay. This is a religion that we can all share, whether or not we believe that global warming is harmful.

Unfortunately, some members of the environmental movement have also adopted as an article of faith the belief that global warming is the greatest threat to the ecology of our planet. That is one reason why the arguments about global warming have become bitter and passionate.

Much of the public has come to believe that anyone who is skeptical about the dangers of global warming is an enemy of the environment. The skeptics now have the difficult task of convincing the public that the opposite is true.

Many of the skeptics are passionate environmentalists. They are horrified to see the obsession with global warming distracting public attention from what they see as more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet, including problems of nuclear weaponry, environmental degradation, and social injustice.

Whether they turn out to be right or wrong, their arguments on these issues deserve to be heard.
Barack Obama's comments, however, reveal him to be in the religious-faith category. The Environmental Puritans believe that any opposition to their dogmas is heresy, and that anything that doesn't match their vision of how humans should live is a sin.

Since their vision of how humans should live is "without making any difference in how the world would be without humans," we are all, alas, sinners. However, some are more sinful than others, and the United States is the most sinful of all.

No, not China, because the Environmental Puritans, like the rest of the world, expect America to live by a higher standard than other nations. Fair enough -- we claim to be a special nation, and so we should meet a higher standard.

Still, the Environmental Puritans agree with the ayatollahs on this one point: America is the Great Satan. And Obama echoes that view when he refers to our gasoline consumption, our eating, and our air-conditioning and heating as if they were sins for which we are accountable to the rest of the world.
RTWFT! I mean it.

I have a Freeman Dyson quote on the wall of my office. I brought it from my previous job where it hung for about ten years. It says this:
Engineering is very different from physics.

A good physicist is a man with new ideas.

A good engineer is a man who makes something that works with as few new ideas as possible.
Sexist.

But you get the point. Dyson is a physicist, and a damned bright one. He's also quite the engineer.

Rev. Sensing takes off from Dyson's book review in his piece Environmentalist religion explained. Here's a couple of excerpts:
There are other religions than Judaism and Christianity, of course, but modern environmentalism was born in the West, whose cultural heritage and common languages are steeped through and through in Christian tradition, which was itself a daughter of Judaism.

The common themes of both scriptural Judaism and Christianity deal with deity, the natural world (existing first in a purity state), a corruption of the purity state (Augustine: "fall from grace,"), redemption and liberation/salvation. Then follows paradise. A prominent, though not universal, strain in both Judaism and Christianity is a looming apocalypse that in potential or in fact destroys enormous swaths of humanity.

Modern environmentalism has all these elements, with an emphasis on apocalypticism.

--

Dyson wrote that, "Environmentalism has replaced socialism as the leading secular religion." I demur. Environmentalism has not replaced socialism at all. Instead, the old-line socialists, faced with decades of the failure of political socialism, have jumped on the environmentalist bandwagon to keep socialism alive. Environmentalism has become a much better vehicle to achieve a rigid regulation of people's lives than political socialism ever was. After all, the fate of the entire planet is at stake! Environmentalism has already led some British members of Parliament to propose that the government regulate almost every aspect of buying and selling by private individuals. If this is not socialism, it is a distinction without a difference.

So there you are. At bottom, modern environmentalism has discarded scientific rigor to embrace something not much different than Leninism, the desire to control the major components of the way individuals live. From there it is a short step for environmentalism to Leninism's successor: Stalinism, the desire to control every aspect of the way we live. That's our future, minus the gulags. We hope.
Again, RTWT. Including the links.

All of this has me deeply concerned.

Why?

Back when I wrote True Believers I was not aware of Eric Hoffer and his book True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, but I was pointed to it by a comment, I got a copy and read it.

And was disturbed. Two months later I wrote Reasonable People, drawing on a lot of what I was reading in Hoffer's book. For example:
The True Believer, being written in the immediate post-WWII years, was primarily about the mass movements of Italian and German Fascism and the rise of Communism, but Hoffer did not limit his observations. He reflected on mass movements throughout history, including the Zionist movement in pre-revolutionary Russia, the French Revolution, the Protestant Reformation, and others. He makes a point, in fact, that,
When people are ripe for a mass movement, they are usually ripe for any effective movement, and not solely for one with any particular doctrine or program.
Which explains in a sentence the current enthusiastic crossover between the eco-movement, the gay-rights movement, the anti-war movement, the socialist movement, et al.
And:
A rising mass movement attracts and holds a following not by its doctrine and promises, but by the refuge it offers from the anxieties, barrenness and meaninglessness of an individual existence. It cures the poignantly frustrated not by conferring on them an absolute truth or by remedying the difficulties and abuses which made their lives miserable, but by freeing them from their ineffectual selves -- and it does this by enfolding and absorbing them into a closely knit and exultant corporate whole.

It is obvious, therefore, that, in order to succeed, a mass movement must develop at the earliest moment a compact corporate organization and a capacity to absorb and integrate all comers. It is futile to judge the viability of a new movement by the truth of its doctrine and the feasibility of its promises. What has to be judged is its corporate organization for quick and total absorption of the frustrated. Where new creeds vie with each other for the allegiance of the populace, the one which comes with the most perfected collective framework wins.

--

The milieu most favorable for the rise and propagation of mass movements is one in which a once compact corporate structure is, for one reason or another, in a state of disintegration.

--

The general rule seems to be that as one pattern of corporate cohesion weakens, conditions become ripe for the rise of a mass movement and the eventual establishment of a new and more vigorous form of compact unity.
Reasonable People was largely about "Bush Derangement Syndrome," but it had broader application. I wrote:
What we have in America today is the result of about a hundred years of Leftist influence in American culture, best exhibited by the rise of "Transnational Progressivism" (read the whole thing) - an ideology that essentially places the blame for all iniquity around the world at the feet of a single enemy, the United States; and one group in the United States, heterosexual conservative white males. That's rather narrow. For some it's just "white people." (link broken) For others it's anyone who is "conservative." (link broken) (Especially if they, themselves, are white males.) For groups outside the U.S., (and some inside it) it's more broadly "Americans." However defined, this group is symbolized in effigy at the present time by one individual - George W. Bush. But that won't last forever.

Remember Hoffer's words: "It is futile to judge the viability of a new movement by the truth of its doctrine and the feasibility of its promises. What has to be judged is its corporate organization for quick and total absorption of the frustrated." It doesn't matter if the idea is illogical, ridiculous, or outright insane. It matters if you can mobilize the disaffected to the cause.

What we are seeing today is the coalescing of a new mass movement. There are many disaffected out there who are members of various fringe groups and organizations - the ones Dr. Santy defines as those who "hate Bush because he stands between them and the implementation of their collectivist "utopian" vision." But the efforts of the Leftist intelligentsia and the "underclass" have splintered our culture. We are no longer "one people." We are no longer one culture made up of many smaller, meshing cultures. We are "Red America" and "Blue America." There is sand in the gears, and corporate cohesion is being lost. As a result there is a slowly rising tide of the disaffected, frightened of the future and looking for someone to blame and someone to promise them utopia.

Hoffer again:
Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all unifying agents. It pulls and whirls the individual away from his own self, makes him oblivious of his weal and future, frees him of jealosies and self-seeking. He becomes an anonymous particle quivering with a craving to fuse and coalesce with his like into one flaming mass. (Heinrich) Heine suggests that what Christian love cannot do is effected by a common hatred.

Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil. Usually the strength of a mass movement is proportionate to the vividness and tangibility of its devil. When Hitler was asked whether he thought the Jew must be destroyed, he answered: "No.... We should have then to invent him. It is essential to have a tangible enemy, not merely an abstract one." F.A. Voigt tells of a Japanese mission that arrived in Berlin in 1932 to study the National Socialist movement. Voigt asked a member of the mission what he thought of the movement. He replied: "It is magnificent. I wish we could have something like it in Japan, only we can't, because we haven't got any Jews."
Meet the new Jews, and George W. Bush as Satan incarnate.
I gave very serious consideration to ending the essay right there, and probably should have.

So, where are we now? Bush is on his way out. Either Obama or McCain is on his way in. As Orson Scott Card predicts, "(I)f Obama gets the whole ignorant-of-history-and-world-affairs vote, he'll win by a landslide."

After doing the research for The George Orwell Daycare Center essay, you can imagine what I think is most likely.

What concerns me is that there really is a large portion of the population really ready for a mass-movement. That was obvious to me back before 2005. Right now they're splintered, but as Hoffer notes, "It is futile to judge the viability of a new movement by the truth of its doctrine and the feasibility of its promises. What has to be judged is its corporate organization for quick and total absorption of the frustrated." The religion of environmentalism is well organized and well prepared. After all, Dyson notes that "The ethics of environmentalism are being taught to children in kindergartens, schools, and colleges all over the world." My own grandchildren among them. We're bombarded daily by the media. Anthropogenic Global Warming isn't even questioned in the Legacy Media. It's accepted as fact.

So we have the necessary framework, and the necessary population. We have the necessary target of hatred now that G.W. is on his way out. Driving around doing my errands this afternoon, I was tuned into a local weekend talk show, Inside Track. It's run by our own local Libertarian and co-hosted by a center-Lefty. Usually interesting. Today they had a caller who was nearly apoplectic about (and I paraphrase) "300 pound Americans driving their gas-hog SUVs," among other things.

Hey! I resemble that remark!

All we need is one "compact corporate structure" in a state of disintegration and a Charismatic Leader.

Looked around lately?

Collapsing bridges?

Fuel prices?

Food prices?

Floods?

Tornadoes?

Elections?

I understand that a lot of people believe that the Mayan calendar runs out on Dec. 21, 2012, predicting an apocalypse.

Maybe they're on to something there.

UPDATE: Tangentially related content here.

UPDATE, 7/3: Eric S. Raymond states Why Barack Obama sets off my “Never Again!” alarms

Yup.