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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

$2,287,706,658,821 ($2.29 Trillion)

$2,287,706,658,821 ($2.29 Trillion)

I received an interesting email today.

It turns out that the number $2.2 trillion is not an uncommon one. It seems that in 2007 the country spent $2.24 trillion on health care.

The IMF estimates that worldwide bank losses on U.S. assets topped $2.2 trillion.

The projected cost to repair America's infrastructure is estimated at $2.2 trillion.

Oil companies have paid a combined total of $2.2 trillion in taxes over the last 25 years, adjusted for inflation.

There's more, but that gives you a taste.

But how do you visualize that much money?

My correspondent was ingenious. According to WikiAnswers, a single crisp new dollar bill has dimensions of
6.6294cm (2.61") wide, by 15.5956cm (6.14") long, and 0.010922cm (0.0043") in thickness
Not much help.

Here's a visual:


That's Kheops' pyramid, the Great Pyramid at Giza. Click for a bigger version of the image.

It has a volume of 2,583,283 cubic meters.

Now imagine all that stone was instead stacks of $1 bills:

$2,287,706,658,821.00

$2.29 trillion.

Boggles, doesn't it?

I Have Something for All Who Voted for Obama

I Have Something for All Who Voted for Obama

Granted, I didn't think his victory would be quite as bad as it's so rapidly turned out to be, myself, but now that the fringe left is disowing the Obamessiah, here's something I'd like to give to those who saw a Chicago machine politician as the beacon of HopenChange:


And I'd like to give it to you good and hard.

I'd also like to give it to the people who thought that John McCain was the best we could do on the Republican side, and every bit as hard.

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

Instapundit commenting on a story where "the Tennessee Firearms Association is seeking to publicly identify each law enforcement officer and prosecutor who attended Gov. Phil Bredesen’s veto of a bill to allow people with handgun carry permits to take their weapons into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol":
If government officials do it to citizens, it might be an effort to chill people’s speech. But when citizens do it to government officials, it’s called political accountability.
Damned straight.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Friday, May 29, 2009

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
Has it ever occurred to malignant and thuggish do-gooders like Nancy Pelosi, I wonder, that she and the other idiots in Congress were elected to take responsibility for dealing with lunatic regimes like North Korea and Iran--and NOT for regulating every aspect of the lives of those who elected her?

WHY WHY WHY are we electing people like this?? It's suicidal in more ways than one....

Dr. Sanity, THE SUICIDAL IMPULSES OF THE AMERICAN ELECTORATE

Psssst! Hey, Still Wanna Win One of These?

Psssst! Hey, Still Wanna Win One of These?
OK, here's the deal as it stands so far:

I'm personally contributing one of these pistols for a raffle to raise money for Project Valour IT. As I mentioned previously, Project Valour is the charity that the Gun Blogger Rendezvous has adopted, so the drawing will take place on Saturday, September 12, 2009 at the GBR IV pizza dinner, the difference here being that you don't have to be present to win. We should be blogging it live, so you'll know immediately if you won or not. I'm still working out the details, but the plan is to have 100 entries at $10 each for a total maximum contribution of $1k for Project Valour. The gun will be shipped to the FFL of the winner's choice, but the transfer fee will be up to the winner to handle.

Oh, and it won't be a virgin gun when you receive it. The Gun Bloggers are going to fondle it and put some rounds downrange earlier that same Saturday most likely. It will be cleaned, however, before it ships. (Perhaps not well, but cleaned.)

Hey, it'll be a $10 1911 - you going to complain?

I'll have more information on how you can enter the raffle later on. Still interested?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Your Moment of Zen

Your Moment of Zen

After that last post, I thought this was needed:


According to the source, that's Lake Oesa in Yoho National Park, British Columbia.

We Know What $1 Trillion Looks Like

We Know What $1 Trillion Looks Like,

Thanks to Bill Whittle. Now thanks to Gerard Van der Leun we know what a projected four years of multi-trillion dollar deficit spending looks like:

Ah, Yes, the "Guns as Disease Vector" Meme!

Ambulance Driver sent me an interesting excerpt from the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine entitled Handguns, Health, and the Second Amendment, written by Leonard H. Glantz, J.D., and George J. Annas, J.D., M.P.H. ("J.D." is Juris Doctor - i.e.: graduated from law school, and "M.P.H." is "Master of Public Health") Their respective schools might want to check who they give degrees out to.

I was asked to fisk the piece. Who am I to turn down a request like that?

Let us begin.

The first couple of paragraphs contain nothing too objectionable:
The right to possess firearms by private citizens has been a major political issue in the United States since the founding of the country. James Madison, for example, argued that there need be no concern about forming a federal government because state militias would protect the people from any threat that a federal government would usurp their individual rights. In his words, "Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments [the states], to which the people are attached and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of." Later, after the Constitution had been adopted, Madison suggested in 1789 that specific rights of citizens be spelled out in a Bill of Rights.
Madison suggested it? Where did these guys learn history? A Cracker Jacks box?
Ratified on December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights included the Second Amendment to the Constitution that reads in its entirety, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

After 218 years, we are still arguing about what these 27 words mean.
Only because some of you won't listen.
They were obviously important enough to their authors to be ranked second in the Bill of Rights and to be included in the same collection of constitutional amendments that protect individual rights to free speech, freedom of religion, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the right to fair trials. From the time of its founding, America has been a nation of gun owners. Gun-control advocates focus on the serious negative effects of gun availability on health and safety, while gun-ownership advocates emphasize the lawful use of guns and their place in our history and culture.
And law.
The gun-control debate is often emotional and even reaches into presidential campaigns. Fear of strict gun-control laws are often used to rally conservative voters, and during his presidential campaign, Barack Obama felt a need to assure gun owners that they had nothing to fear from him.
Not that he was believed, as the run on firearms, ammunition, and reloading components well attests.
Guns represent a major public health challenge. Because of their prominent role in deaths from suicide and homicide, as well as the nonfatal wounds that they inflict, the editors of the Journal have noted, "By any standard, [firearm death and injury] constitutes a serious public health issue that demands a response not only from law enforcement and the courts, but also from the medical community." Nonetheless, most gunrights and gun-control advocates seem to agree that the Second Amendment affords some sort of right to bear arms.
Not to mention the Supreme Court of the United States.
The central controversy is whether the right is a collective or civic right directly related to the needs of a "well regulated Militia" or an individual right that protects gun ownership that is not associated with militias.
See above.
If it was meant to be an individual right, the Second Amendment could have been written to say, "The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed."
Uh, it does say that.
Or, if it was meant solely to ensure the existence of a functioning militia, it could have been written to say, "Members of state militias have the right to keep and bear arms."
And it doesn't say that.
But it was not written in either of these ways, and so there is a serious dispute about the relevance of the first clause that refers to militias (the so-called prefatory clause) to the second clause (the so-called operative clause), which says that the "people" have a "right" to "keep and bear arms." The crafting of this amendment is especially mysterious since other Constitutional articles and amendments in general do not give reasons in prefatory clauses for delineating the rights found within it. For example, the First Amendment does not say, "In order to ensure unfettered political arguments, Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech."
This is one of the oldest arguments going, and one that has been addressed ad nauseam in the literature (see Eugene Volokh's The Commonplace Second Amendment for just one example), but the audience here isn't gun-rights or gun-control advocates per se, it's medical professionals, who they only need to baffle with bullshit - which comes in the next paragraphs.
Before last year's District of Columbia v. Heller decision, the Supreme Court had decided only one case on the scope of the Second Amendment, and its analysis was far from thorough. In 1939, in United States v. Miller, the question was whether certain provisions of the National Firearms Act of 1934 violated the Second Amendment. Among other things, this federal law prohibited the interstate transportation of sawed-off shotguns, and the defendants were found guilty of this crime.
(My emphasis.) No, they were not. Their indictment was quashed by the federal district court. Judge Heartsill Ragon declared that the 1934 National Firearms Act violated the Second Amendment and dismissed the charges against Jack Miller and Frank Layton. The appeal was filed by the State.
At trial, their argument that this provision violated their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms was rejected.
It was not. It was accepted.
The Supreme Court, agreeing with the trial court, found that "in the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of any 'shotgun having a barrel of less than 18 inches in length' at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of [a] well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument."
The "absence of any evidence" was due to the fact that Miller & Layton's lawyer didn't file a brief nor did he show up at the Supreme Court hearing to provide any testimony. No one appeared to defend Miller & Layton, but for some strange reason our opposition always seems to omit this little tidbit of fact.

The Supreme Court reversed the District court and remanded for FINDING - that is, they kicked the case back downstairs for the lower court to do the work - which it then failed to do, since Miller was dead by that time and Layton plead guilty.
The relatively brief opinion does not address the strange implications of this reasoning. It seems to indicate that whatever weapons a militia could use would be permissible for individual citizens to own and transport. The Court also did not say that a person must be in the militia in order to have a right to bear arms or that there is no individual right to bear arms. The problem as the Court apparently saw it was not that Miller was bearing arms, but that he was bearing the wrong kind of arms.
Which, as I've mentioned before, raises a particularly interesting question: The 1934 National Firearms Act put precisely the same restrictions on Miller's short-barreled shotgun as on a 1918 Browning Automatic Rifle - a weapon that most definitely did have "some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of [a] well regulated militia." The BAR was part of the standard Table of Organization and Equipment for U.S. Army Infantry units at the time, and - until 1934 - could be purchased by mail-order by anyone with enough money to pay for one, and it could be transported anywhere in the U.S. without the tax stamp that Miller's sawed-off lacked.

What if Miller had owned a BAR? Would the Supreme Court have still claimed an "absence of any evidence" in that case?

Continuing:
In Miller, the Court did consider what a "militia" is and why the individual right to possess firearms might be related to what militias do. At the time the Second Amendment was ratified, a militia was not a body of men who were employed to protect the state. Nor was it, as Madison had noted, an army that only could be raised by the federal government. Rather, militias were composed of "all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense." They were made up of civilians who on occasion might act as soldiers. Many state governments required every able-bodied man between 16 and 45 years of age to be "enrolled" in a state militia, and each of these men was required to provide himself with "a good musket or flint lock" and adequate ammunition. Individual citizens were not only entitled to but were required to possess firearms so they might fulfill their militia activities.

This history persuaded the Court that only ownership of weapons that could be used in the context of militia activities was protected by the Second Amendment. But the Court did not take into account that militias might use cannons, for example, which would then appear to guarantee the right of individual citizens to own cannons. It is inconceivable that this is what the Court had in mind.
Really? Why? The language is pretty clear. Cannon were privately owned by a number of citizens during the revolutionary war period and after. Cannon-armed privateers issued Letters of Marque and Reprisal were, for some time, the primary naval arm of the United States.
The murky Supreme Court opinion in Miller did not decide, one way or the other, whether individual citizens have a right to keep and bear arms — it simply did not directly address this issue. However, its outcome made clear that the government could constitutionally regulate possession and transportation of particular types of firearms.
Yes, weapons not suitable for military use - sporting arms, as it were. The ones we so often are told that we needn't fear being banned. So my AR-15's are safe, it's my .22 caliber Ruger handguns that are at risk?
The Heller case was initiated by proponents of gun ownership to test the constitutionality of one of the strictest gun-control laws in the country. Unlike the gun-running criminal defendants in the Miller case,
Wrong again - Miller and Layton were known moonshiners, not gun-runners.
Heller was a District of Columbia (D.C.) special police officer authorized to carry a handgun while on duty at the Federal Judicial Center. He applied for a registration certificate for a handgun to keep in his home, and his application was declined. Under the D.C. gun-control law, no individual citizen had been permitted to register a handgun since 1976, and it was forbidden to have any "functional firearm within the home." The law provided that any firearm in the home, whether a pre-1976 handgun or a rifle, had to be unloaded or have a trigger lock that would render it inoperable.
As Heller himself said, "As a security officer I carry a gun to protect government officers, but my life isn't worth protecting at home in their eyes."
Heller claimed that the Second Amendment protected his right to keep a loaded and functional handgun in his home that he could use for self-defense and that the D.C. law violated this right. His argument was all the more compelling because he met all the requirements for carrying a gun in public to protect others. He simply was not permitted to keep the same type of weapon in his home to protect himself and his family. The federal district court upheld the D.C. ban on the basis of the Miller case and interpretations of most U.S Courts of Appeal that held that the right to bear arms is a collective right and not an individual right. The U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia reversed the decision of the district court and ruled that the District violated Heller's individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in his home.
Best birthday present ever.
In a lengthy opinion, the majority of the Court of Appeals reviewed Second Amendment case law, legal scholarship, and history. On the basis of its historical review, the Court of Appeals concluded that rather than creating the right to keep and bear arms, the Second Amendment simply protected a right that predated the Constitution from the new central government.
Like this was a surprise or something.
Like Miller, the opinion recounted the history of civilian militias and the need for individual civilians to be armed in order to meet their militia obligations. The Court of Appeals noted that if guns can be restricted at all, such restrictions must be related to furthering the militia purpose of the Second Amendment. For example, a state could require a firearms proficiency test as a condition of gun ownership because it would help to ensure readiness for militia service, but the virtual ban on handgun ownership in the District cannot be related to any militia purpose. The Court of Appeals concluded that any law that forbids the availability of a handgun that can be used for self-defense in the home violates the Second Amendment. It is this decision that the Supreme Court reviewed.

The Supreme Court's five-member majority opinion, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, agreed with the interpretation of the Second Amendment by the Court of Appeals. In a long and detailed opinion, the Court interpreted every phrase of the amendment. It analyzed the meaning of the terms "militia," "well-regulated," "people" "keep," "bear," and "arms" in the context of the 18th century. It examined 18th-century English usage to determine the relationship between the prefatory and operative clauses. A group of linguists and historians submitted an amicus brief to help the Court decipher the particular use of words, phrases, clauses, and even commas in the 18th century; this brief was referred to at several points in the majority opinion.

The Court ultimately held that a primary purpose of the Second Amendment is to ensure the right of people in the United States to keep firearms in their homes for self-defense. Notably, nothing in the text of the Second Amendment makes any reference to self-defense. If reference to a well-organized militia has any meaning, it would only be in regard to communal defense. Instead, the majority noted that gun possession was widely accepted for personal defense in 18th century America; this is true, but it is a non sequitur. It provides no insight into the meaning of a constitutional amendment that says nothing about a right to weapons for self-defense in a home.
Aw, Geez. Not this again? Does the phrase "For defense of themselves and the State" ring any bells? Have they never read St. George Tucker? "The right of self-defense is the first law of nature . . ." Of course they know this stuff, but they're spinning a web of bullshit to indoctrinate a bunch of health care workers here.
A key contemporary fact that would seem important in interpreting the Second Amendment is that the states no longer have "well-regulated" militias.
Wait for it . . .
"Able-bodied men" are no longer required to keep guns, bayonets, and ammunition in their homes so they can be called to service at a moment's notice to protect their communities.
Wait . . .
Militias have been replaced by the National Guard, which provides arms to its enlistees.
THERE it is! "The National Guard is now the militia!" meme.

No it's not. And while, granted, there are no laws on the books requiring everyone to keep a militarily useful firearm and ammunition for same in the home, the militia is legally quite well defined by U.S. Code, Title 10, Subtitle A, Chapter 13, section 311:
Militia: composition and classes

(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

(b) The classes of the militia are -
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and

(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.
Since the National Guard is armed and equipped by the Federal government, it doesn't really qualify as State militia, but everybody else represents the unorganized militia as recognized by FEDERAL LAW. You, me, your spouse - everybody of legal age.

Are you prepared if called upon?
As important is the fact that the arms used today by the National Guard — machine guns, high explosives, and so forth — are explicitly outlawed for personal use.
No. They. Are. NOT.

Machine guns are still quite legal in many jurisdictions. The 1934 National Firearms Act merely taxed them. The 1986 Hughes amendment to the Firearm Owner's Protection Act made it illegal to register new machine guns for private use, but there are a LOT of them already in private hands. And the possession and use of explosives is also regulated, but not outlawed or I couldn't have had the wonderful time I had at Joe Huffman's last Boomershoot. Besides, if you believe the Violence Policy Center, semi-auto versions of full-auto military weapons are somehow more lethal than their full-auto cousins.

Do you smell the B.S. these guys are pushing?
It would be extraordinary for any court to rule today, as it appeared to do in Miller, that individual citizens have the right the keep and bear "arms" that are used by the National Guard.
Really? Again, WHY? Because you say so? You thought Miller & Layton lost in District Court.
The essential question is this: Since militias no longer exist,
An assertion I have already disproved,
is the Second Amendment now entirely devoid of meaning and effect? Has social change entirely nullified the force of a constitutional amendment for the first time in our history?
Which, since I've disproved assertion A) it pretty much makes question B) moot. But look at it from this perspective:

Is the First Amendment protection of free speech limited to hand-printed handbills and shouting from a soapbox in the public square? Or did we expand the right with changing technology? Is someone going to tell the Algiers Point Militia that they weren't really a militia, and should have given up their guns (and their property) instead of defending themselves because there's no right to self-defense in the Constitution? I don't think so.
The majority concluded its opinion by noting:
Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.
And the New England Journal of Medicine isn't here to praise the Second Amendment, but to bury it.
The Court did not explain why it could not pronounce the Second Amendment extinct. No Court has ever ruled any amendment extinct, but no other constitutional provision has been so profoundly affected by social change that has led to the disappearance of an institution the amendment called "necessary."
Actually, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals did try to rule the Second Amendment extinct. It failed. As to the much ballyhooed "disappearance of an institution," tell that to the Koreans who, during the 1992 LA riots, protected their lives and property - with arms - when the LAPD wouldn't. Tell that to the survivors of Hurricane Andrew who apparently coined the phrase "You Loot, We Shoot" when neither the local police nor the National Guard could provide protection against looters. Tell it, as I said above, to the Algiers Point Militia. Tell it to the thousands of people each year who defend themselves with a firearm. Perhaps the "well-regulated" portion has passed, but the militia is still alive and well.

Still, the poo keeps getting flung:
In this instance, the Court's "strict constructionist" justices are not so strict in their construction. Their ultimate conclusion that the Second Amendment provides individual citizens with the constitutional right to keep and bear a loaded, unlocked handgun for the purpose of self-defense is not supported by any of the amendment's 27 words.
Totally disregarding the pages of examination that reviewed the understanding of the Second Amendment at the time of its passage, since, you know, that doesn't meet with the needs of the NEJM readers.
Even if there were such a right to self-defense in the Constitution, one might conclude that a rifle or shotgun would be sufficient for this purpose. But the majority opinion noted that "handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid." The majority opinion even stated that a handgun is better suited for self-defense than a rifle or shotgun because it is easier to store in a location that is readily accessible in an emergency, it cannot be easily wrestled away or redirected by an attacker, it is less difficult to use by persons without the upper-body strength to lift and aim a long gun, and it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while using the telephone with the other. Although the majority refused to hold the entire Second Amendment "extinct," it did just that to the prefatory clause that refers to a "well regulated Militia." The case was decided as if that clause no longer exists.
Awww. We have a pair of Sad Pandas here, don't we?
Justice John Paul Stevens wrote a lengthy and scholarly dissenting opinion that is starkly critical of the majority opinion.
It's also wrong in a couple of places because he and his clerks were badly mislead by some amicus briefs about on the same level as this NEJM piece.
It appears that the dissenters concluded that there is no individual right to bear arms, but the fuzziness of some of their language makes this difficult to say with any certainty. In concluding his opinion, Justice Stevens wrote, "Until today, it has been understood that legislatures may regulate the civilian use and misuse of firearms so long as they do not interfere with the preservation of a well-regulated militia." But the case was not about the restrictions on the state’s authority to limit the use or misuse of firearms — it was about ownership of a gun in one's home. Furthermore, although Justice Stevens emphasized the relationship of gun ownership to a well-regulated militia, he did not say what this means today when there are no such militias. Do he and the other dissenting justices believe the Second Amendment is extinct?

In his concluding paragraph, Justice Stevens said:
The Court would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons, and to authorize this Court to use the common-law process of case-by-case judicial lawmaking to define the contours of acceptable gun control policy.
Yes? And . . . ?
This argument is not particularly persuasive.
Nice of you to admit.
In addition to again conflating the regulation of gun ownership with the regulation of use, the fact that the majority opinion will lead the Court to "case-by-case judicial lawmaking" is simply a description of what it does in every area of constitutional adjudication. Like the majority, the dissenters made a clause in the Second Amendment extinct — in this case, the operative clause.
Which is what your side of the argument has been angling for for decades - and lost.
The "real" meaning of the Second Amendment will never be known.
Oh, BULLSHIT.

I'm sorry, but I am flat-out DISGUSTED with people who can sit and pontificate such obvious cowpatties. The Founders had just fought a rebellion against the most powerful military force the world had yet seen, and WON, and they had started that war with privately owned firearms and started it over that government's decision to disarm the populace. The "real" meaning of the Second Amendment was perfectly well known: The government will not disarm its own citizens wholesale - ever. Read a history book or ten.
What is known is that in Heller, the only right the Court affirmed is the right of qualified individual citizens to have a loaded handgun or rifle that is readily accessible in the home for self-defense.

Advocates of gun ownership often argue that their constituency has "rights."
What's with the "scare quotes"?
Similarly, gun-control advocates often express the concern that the recognition of an individual gun owner's right will make deadly weapons become easily available.
Well outright banning them certainly doesn't seem to affect availability.
But for both gun-control and gun-ownership advocates alike, the most important legal and practical issue now is (and probably always has been) the extent to which government can regulate gun ownership. Whatever the Heller right might be, the right to keep and bear arms is far from absolute, and states have substantial leeway in limiting the right of their citizens to own firearms.

The justices in the majority clearly acknowledged that states continue to have the authority to limit gun ownership by licensing gun ownership and by regulating which persons may receive such licenses. The Court majority opinion explicitly said, for example, that "nothing in our opinion should cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons or mentally ill persons, or on laws that forbid the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings or laws limiting the conditions and qualifications of commercial sale of firearms." In addition, the majority indicated that prohibitions against carrying a concealed weapon are also permissible under the Second Amendment. The Court of Appeals opinion took a similar approach toward regulations that "promote the government's interest in public safety," including firearm registration and user-proficiency testing. Like post–Roe v. Wade opinions reviewing state abortion laws passed to test the limits of the constitutional right to privacy as it relates to the termination of pregnancy, future litigation in this area will involve determining the constitutionality of new gun-control regulations. Heller, however, indicates that most of the current regulations on gun ownership would probably be found to be constitutional.
With the exception of complete bans such as in Chicago, and laws prohibiting concealed-carry in Illinois and Wisconsin, and . . .

It is going to be interesting the next few years, assuming the economy doesn't completely crater in the mean time.
Our review of federal court cases since Heller did not uncover a single case that overturned a gun-control provision.
You haven't waited long enough, methinks.
One case upheld a provision that prohibited people under restraining orders for domestic abuse from having a gun, one upheld a provision that ex-felons may not own a gun, one upheld a federal law making possession of machine guns illegal, one upheld a law that made it illegal to have a firearm in a glove compartment of a locked car in a parking lot of a post office, and one found that the right to have a firearm in one's home did not extend to one's car.
That's OK, we'll keep picking away. Count on it.
The District of Columbia has revised its gun control laws to eliminate its total ban on handguns in a home. It has, however, adopted new requirements for gun registration. These requirements exclude from gun ownership anyone convicted of a crime of violence or any weapons offense, anyone under indictment for one of these crimes, anyone convicted of a narcotics offense in the past 5 years, anyone acquitted of a criminal charge by reason of insanity, and anyone committed to a mental hospital in the past 5 years. Only one gun per month may be registered under the law. The District also amended its laws on safe storage of firearms; these laws require that guns must be securely locked or placed in a secure location if the owner "reasonably knows or should know that a minor is likely to gain access to the firearm without the permission of a parent or guardian." A person who violates this provision is subject to a $1,000 fine and 180 days in jail, and if the violation leads to a minor causing death or injury to himself, herself, or others, the penalty is increased to $5,000 and 5 years in prison.
Tell me, has D.C. changed its law that defines a semi-automatic handgun to be a "machine-gun", thus limiting its law-abiding residents to revolvers?
There is nothing in Heller that would indicate that any of the District's new restrictions would be invalid under the Second Amendment. In fact, consistent with Heller, the regulation of guns could go substantially further. For example, state law could require that guns kept in a private home be unloaded and locked away any time the registered owner is not at home. Since the person registered to own the gun is not at home, that person cannot use the gun for self-defense in the home, the right protected under Heller. We also believe that permitting an individual citizen to register up to one gun every month is far more lenient than what Heller requires. A total limit on the number of guns each person could register would seem to be constitutionally permissible, given the fact that only one gun is necessary for self-defense in the home. Further, requiring proficiency tests, safety-instruction courses, regular reregistration, and a waiting period between the time of the purchase of a gun and the time when possession is obtained would increase safety without abridging the right to have a gun in the home for self-defense, the right Heller created.
But really, we gun owners don't have a thing to fear. These are all reasonable restrictions, just like Fenty & Co. insisted the complete ban was!

Don't drop your guard. Not ever.
Heller does not eliminate the political fights over gun control in the legislatures. After the murder of 32 faculty members and students by a student-gunman at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, many people believed it would be a moment to push for stricter gun-control laws. However, the reaction was often the opposite. In February, for example, the Virginia legislature declined to pass a law proposed by the governor that would have required private sellers at gun shows to conduct background checks. It also voted to repeal a law that prohibited anyone from carrying a concealed weapon into a club or restaurant where alcohol is served.
Surprised you, didn't it? "The people have spoken, the bastards."
Among the estimated 200 to 250 million legal firearms in the United States today, one third are handguns. These guns were all acquired before Heller. There are also an untold number of illegal guns. Gun violence is a real problem in the United States, a much greater problem than elsewhere in the world.
Again, I call bullshit. Yes, we have a high homicide rate involving firearms for an industrialized nation, but we rank 24th in the world for homicide, far behind Mexico, Columbia, South Africa, and Venezuela - countries not known for their lax gun-control laws. And our homicide epidemic is heavily concentrated in a tiny, easily identifiable demographic: young, black, urban males. In 2006 (latest data available from the CDC) there were 18,573 deaths recorded as violent homicides. Of those victims, 7,611 or 41% were black males. Of those, 5,589 were under the age of 35. Black men under 35 are just 3.7% of the population of the country, but they provided 30% of the victims of violent homicide in 2006.

You want to do something about the number of deaths in this country? Stop trying to blame the guns, and start addressing the cultural problems that lead young black men to kill and get killed at a rate eight times greater than the rest of the population.

But that's too hard. It's not PC to point out that reducing the homicide rate among young black men would drop America's overall rate to that of, say, Finland.

No, "gun control" is what you do instead of something.
Gun-control advocates need to have a full appreciation of what the Court did and did not do in Heller. The Court did strike down one of the strictest gun-control laws in the country. States continue to have very broad authority to regulate gun ownership.
But we're working on that. "Incorporation." Perhaps you've heard of it?
Perhaps Heller can serve not as an occasion for celebration by the pro-gun lobby, but as an impetus to reexamine current state and local laws to determine whether they are as strict as the Court's interpretation of the Second Amendment would allow.
Just remember: You can no longer rely on the courts to legislate from the bench. You're back to trying to accomplish what you desire through legislative means, and the People have, by all indications, had enough.

And note, not one place in this entire article did the authors even question whether or not "gun control" actually provided any benefits. It's simply a "given" that "gun control" is a good thing, even though it was quite blindingly apparent that D.C.'s complete ban that Heller overturned didn't make the city safer. D.C. was (and remains) one of the most violent cities in the country.

Lie, twist, obfuscate, manipulate. It's the standard operational procedure for the Other Side.
Simply put, gun control cannot survive without an accompanying sea of disinformation. - Anonymous
And the New England Journal of Medicine just unzipped and made another contribution to that sea.

Update: Rogue Medic has a slightly different take on the piece.

Communism as the Default State?

Communism as the Default State?

A few days ago, reader Mastiff left this in a comment:
I would argue that the Enlightenment was flawed from the beginning.

That did not make it a bad thing; the Enlightenment contributed a vast amount to human reason and welfare. But no system of social order is complete that cannot see to its own perpetuation, and clearly the Enlightenment has failed to do so.
Dr. Sanity points today to a post at One Cosmos, Stone Age Economics of the Left: Who Would Jesus Bail Out?, and this interesting excerpt:
But one of the things that never changes is the hysteria of the left. The hysteria results from the conflation of existential and economic realities. In other words, when it comes to existence, there is always something to bitch about. But if you shift this to the plane of economics, then you can imagine that otherwise insoluble existential problems are susceptible to solutions.

For example, you can give "free college" to everyone, but this won't alter the fact that 50% of human beings are of below average intelligence. In fact, you'll only end up diluting education, so that if someone wants to be educated, they will have to do so outside of college. With the exception of the hard sciences, we're pretty much at that point now. Once college is universal, it becomes worthless. And if Obama has his way, the same thing will occur in medicine: everyone will be entitled to their government-rationed portion of mediocre healthcare.

Now, when Marx was writing his critique of industrial capitalism in the mid 19th century, living standards were finally rising after hundreds, and even thousands, of years of stagnation. Workers were just finally rising above subsistence levels and beginning to be able to purchase necessities and eventually luxuries that would have been completely unavailable to them in the past. Pockets of Slack were starting to break out everywhere, instead of just being available to the upper-upper classes.

In short, the means of creating unlimited wealth weren't really stumbled upon by human beings until the rise of industrial capitalism. Human beings had finally discovered the key to economic growth, which came down to the magical combination of individual liberty, free markets, strong private property rights, sound money, and the rule of law. And then get the hell out of the way.

And even then, it took several hundred more years to tame the "boom or bust" cycle [oops!], to the point that people no longer expect economic recessions, much less, depressions. It is now as if people imagine that unlimited economic growth and prosperity are the norm instead of an extraordinary deviation from the past. And with that, a sense of entitlement is nurtured, which in turn is rooted in what the psychoanalyst Melanie Klein called constitutional envy.

As I have written before, I believe envy must have had some evolutionary utility, or else it wouldn't have survived the process of natural selection. Since 99% of human evolution took place in small bands of hunter-gatherers, my view is that envy must have ultimately served the purpose of group cohesiveness.

Human beings couldn't possibly have survived as individuals, but only as part of a tightly bonded group. Therefore, anything that promoted the fitness of the group is likely to have been strongly reinforced. In a small group, it would have obviously been detrimental for one member to horde all of the resources, so we might say that envy is a mechanism that is actually selected by evolution in order to maintain our intrinsic communism.

In other words, communism is our default state (as seen in our immediate families), whereas certain traits and habits of mind associated with capitalism must be learned, among them, trust of the stranger, the tamping down of envy, a focus on the future instead of the present, and an understanding that economic exchange isn't a zero-sum game.
Please, go read the rest. It's worth your time.

One more, very short excerpt:
Liberty is not a built in -- much less universal -- value, and I think you can see how this is a major part of understanding the motivations -- or shall we say, the deep structure -- of leftism. Classical liberals wonder why leftists don't value freedom, but they shouldn't.

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
You Can’t Possibly Take Care of Yourself

What worries me about Obama is not the specifics of the nationalization of GM and Chrysler, the government rescue of the United Auto Workers, the effort to take over college financing, proposed universal health care, massive deficits and tax increases, although they are worrisome and only the beginning, but the attendant culture of ‘inflate your tires’ and ‘wash your hands’ paternalism. I think we are entering an age in which the federal government will increasingly guide our thoughts into what is deemed correct-the sort of car we must drive, the type of salary we should make, the sort of job we should have, even the type of thoughts we are to express, and all in the name of collective brotherhood. The slavish manner in which the media lock stepped into Bush the near fascist for tribunals, wiretaps, intercepts, renditions, Patriot Act, Iraq, and Guantanamo, followed by choruses of Obama the sensitive, anguished overseer of tribunals, wiretaps, intercepts, renditions, Patriot Act, Iraq, and Guantanamo was one of the most frightening things I've seen in a free society in 50 years. - Victor Davis Hanson, EuroAmericans?
(h/t to Because I Say So)

I have two images to go along with that quote. The first is "Washington Toilet Paper":


The second, is from Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism:


Donald Sensing was prophetic.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thomas Sowell on Sotomayor

Thomas Sowell on Sotomayor

Much is being made of the fact that Sonia Sotomayor had to struggle to rise in the world. But stop and think.

If you were going to have open heart surgery, would you want to be operated on by a surgeon who was chosen because he had to struggle to get where he is or by the best surgeon you could find — even if he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and had every advantage that money and social position could offer?

If it were you who was going to be lying on that operating table with his heart cut open, you wouldn't give a tinker's damn about somebody's struggle or somebody else's privileges.

The Supreme Court of the United States is in effect operating on the heart of our nation — the Constitution and the statutes and government policies that all of us must live under.

Obama's repeated claim that a Supreme Court justice should have "empathy" with various groups has raised red flags that we ignore at our peril — and at the peril of our children and grandchildren.

"Empathy" for particular groups can be reconciled with "equal justice under law" — the motto over the entrance to the Supreme Court — only with smooth words. But not in reality.
Read the whole thing.

David Hardy Exhibits the Proper Attitude

David Hardy Exhibits the Proper Attitude

After seven hours of surgery.

Get well soon, David. There's a lot left to be done.

STOP SCREWING UP OUR INVESTMENTS!

STOP SCREWING UP OUR INVESTMENTS!
China warns Federal Reserve over 'printing money'

China has warned a top member of the US Federal Reserve that it is increasingly disturbed by the Fed's direct purchase of US Treasury bonds.
As we all should be.
Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, said: "Senior officials of the Chinese government grilled me about whether or not we are going to monetise the actions of our legislature."

"I must have been asked about that a hundred times in China. I was asked at every single meeting about our purchases of Treasuries. That seemed to be the principal preoccupation of those that were invested with their surpluses mostly in the United States," he told the Wall Street Journal.
In other words, "We've bought a lot of your bonds, and we expect them to be worth more than toilet paper."
His recent trip to the Far East appears to have been a stark reminder that Asia's "Confucian" culture of right action does not look kindly on the insouciant policy of printing money by Anglo-Saxons.

Mr Fisher, the Fed's leading hawk, was a fierce opponent of the original decision to buy Treasury debt, fearing that it would lead to a blurring of the line between fiscal and monetary policy – and could all too easily degenerate into Argentine-style financing of uncontrolled spending.
Degenerate into uncontrolled spending? Since when have we had controlled spending? But I guess it was this chart that finally grabbed their attention:


It scares the hell out of me.
However, he agreed that the Fed was forced to take emergency action after the financial system "literally fell apart".

Nor, he added was there much risk of inflation taking off yet. The Dallas Fed uses a "trim mean" method based on 180 prices that excludes extreme moves and is widely admired for accuracy.

"You've got some mild deflation here," he said.
Time to buy, buy, BUY! Before the inevitable hyper-inflation.
The Oxford-educated Mr Fisher, an outspoken free-marketer and believer in the Schumpeterian process of "creative destruction", has been running a fervent campaign to alert Americans to the "very big hole" in unfunded pension and health-care liabilities built up by a careless political class over the years.

"We at the Dallas Fed believe the total is over $99 trillion," he said in February.
Ninety-nine trillion dollars. That's a number I don't think anyone can really get their heads around. Certainly not 535 Congresscritters.
"This situation is of your own creation. When you berate your representatives or senators or presidents for the mess we are in, you are really berating yourself. You elect them," he said.
Which, again, explains why our education system and our media are the messes that they are. Who wants an intelligent, informed and engaged electorate? What is there in that for anybody? It's much easier to promise the ignorant, apathetic masses bread and circuses for their votes.

(Via Glenn.)

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
With the election of Barack Obama as president, the liberals have launched a massive, two-front offensive they believe will end in victory. They have judged that our public education system is so degraded that only a few Americans are left who even understand what a democracy is, and how the free market actually works. They are convinced that the majority of Americans are too frightened by the current recession to care about preserving the principles that made us the most powerful, productive and innovative country the world has ever known. In short, the liberals are reaching for victory because they believe that history now is on their side.

The speed of their offensive is breathtaking.

At the core of democracy is the rule of law, and we have already lost it. The liberals lecture us incessantly that everything is "relative," but that's not true; some things are absolutes. You cannot claim to be faithful to your spouse because you never cheat on her -- except when you're in London on business. And you cannot claim to have the rule of law if the government can set aside the rule of law when it decides that "special circumstances" have arisen that warrant illegality. When the President and his aides handed ownership of Chrysler Corp. to the United Auto Workers union, they tried to avoid sending that beleaguered company into bankruptcy by muscling its bondholders into accepting less money for their assets than the law entitled them to collect. These contracts, and the law under which they were signed, were mere obstacles to a thuggish President bent on paying off his political supporters.

It's going to get much worse, fast.

American Thinker, Revolution by Herbert Meyer
Via Mostly Cajun.

As always, RTWT.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Unconstrained Vision


Last October, National Review interviewed Dr. Thomas Sowell on the topic of his 1987 book Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles which had just been re-issued. I wrote about it shortly after the interview appeared, and excerpted some of the exchange from the second portion of the video interview. Please do go read the earlier piece for the necessary background information.

Here's the pertinent portion for this piece:
Peter Robinson: Let me give you a couple of quotations. John McCain in the presidential debate of October 16 on the kinds of judges he would nominate to the Supreme Court:

"I will find the best people in the United States of America who have a history of strict adherence to the Constitution and not legislating from the bench."

Barack Obama during the same debate:

"If a woman is out there trying to raise a family, trying to support her family and is being treated unfairly then the court has to stand up if nobody else will, and that's the kind of judge I want."

Thomas Sowell: That's unconstrained. That somehow or other there are people with the judicial robes on who can just decide these things ad hoc, which among other things would mean we would no longer really have law. You would discover, once you got into the courtroom in front of the judge, you would then discover what the decision is, but you would have no clue beforehand.

Robinson: So that would. . . A full embrace of the Unconstrained Vision, which Barack Obama seems intent on, would overturn the fundamental basis of American law which is a nation of laws, not of men, . . .

Sowell: Absolutely.

Robinson: . . . it would be a nation of men, of judges.

Sowell: Yes!
And now, the words of Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee:


A nation of judges, not laws.

As long as the "right people" are in charge. Right?

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
I wonder what it's like to wake up one day and realize all the power you've thought you've held over public opinion doesn't amount to a teaspoon of frothy spit? From the tone of newspaper opinions recently, they've got a lot of the frothy stuff everywhere. - Robb Allen, Taken to Task
Sorry about the lack of posting. I spent my holiday weekend sick in bed for the most part.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
I've occasionally thought to myself that I could keep the thing going on major news stories, rather like skipping a stone across a pond. The day-to-day cop hemocides and venal corruption in every goddamned spot on the map doesn't do it, though. Another 9/11 would naturally strike sparks, but look: the Obama regime is the story, but it needs depths of treatment that only very few are up to.

We are now in the fait accompli of American socialist revolution. Most peoples' ignorance of history doesn't allow them to really grasp how rapidly this is happening now, but this wheel is turning like never before.

I have no illusions that I can change any of it . . . . - Billy Beck, Dealing with the Imperative
Part II, Billy Beck from "Hell Is The Impossibility Of Reason":
A great deal of of the crisis of the age is in the scale of it: it's so big that many people are flatly intellectually incompetent to even get started on seeing it. There are enormous chains of cause & effect running over generations, compounded by general ignorance of history cultivated with conceptual infirmity and general anti-thought.

It's all part of what constitutes Endarkenment, a unique event in human history, coming as it does in the wake of The Age of Reason. It's an amazing thing to consider: that human beings are un-thinking their way down from heights that thousands of generations of their forebears could not have hoped to have dreamed.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Good Thing The MSM has All Those Layers of Review

Good Thing The MSM has All Those Layers of Review

Like editors.
Too Much Cola Can Lead to Paralysis?

By Chelsea-Badeau
Thu, 21 May 2009 19:45:46 GMT


Forget about tooth decay and obesity, it looks like there might be an even more serious reason to cut back on your cola consumption.

A report written by Dr. Moses Elisaf scheduled to be published in the June issue of the International Journal of Clinical Practice, says that drinking excessive amounts of cola (diet or regular) can cause potassium levels in the blood to plummet, which could lead to muscle problems, weakness, an irregular heartbeat, and in some cases, even paralysis.

“We are consuming more soft drinks than ever before and a number of health issues have already been identified including tooth problems, bone demineralisation and the development of metabolic syndrome and diabetes” says Doctor Elisaf from the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Ioannina, Greece.

According to the research review, worldwide annual consumption of soft drinks reached 552 billion liters, the equivalent of 83 liters per person, per year in 2007. That figure is expected to climb to 95 liters per day by 2012. The average American drinks about 600 cans of soda every year.
Ninety-five liters a day. That's a touch over 25 gallons.

Yes, I know it's a typo, but still . . .

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

The GeekWithA.45:
Even Justice David Souter...

Who, among many other things, could not see a protection for the individual right of arms in the plain language of the second amendment (Heller v. D.C.), who did not see any problem with the use of government force for the taking for private gain (Kelo v. New London) and could not see how the first amendment protected people's rights to Assemble for the purpose of disseminating political messages 60 days before an election (The fraud of McCain-Feingold) actually can see the Endarkenment slouching towards us...

Quote:
----------------
In a speech at Georgetown University Law Center today, retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter made a powerful plea for re-educating the American public about the fundamentals of how government works.

The republic, Souter said, "can be lost, it is being lost, it is lost, if it is not understood." He cited surveys showing large majorities of the public cannot name the three branches of government, something he said would have been unheard of when he was growing up in rural Weare, N.H. What is needed, Souter said, is nothing less than "the restoration of the self-identity of the American people."
----------------

Perhaps, as he enters retirement, he can meditate on his own contributions to the matter to arrive at some understanding of just what that identity of the American people actually is. Perhaps then he will understand that he should beg the American people for forgiveness.


That snarkily being said, the man is right.
And too late.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Psssst! Hey, Wanna Win One of These?

Psssst! Hey, Wanna Win One of These?
That's ParaUSA's new GI Expert entry-level 1911. The specs are:
Caliber: .45 ACP
Barrel: 5 inches, stainless steel
Twist: 1 in 16 inches, left-hand
Action: Single-action, Semi-automatic
Sights: Dovetail Fixed, 3-White Dot
Receiver: Carbon Steel
Trigger: Medium length
Hammer: Skeletonized Spur
Magazine: 8-round with removable base pad (two provided with pistol)
Overall Length: 8.5 inches
Height: 5.75 inches
Weight: 39 ounces
Finish: Covert Black Para Kote™
Stocks: Checkered Polymer
Safeties: Slide Lock, Internal Firing Block, Grip
Additional Features: Lowered and flared ejection port, beveled magazine well, flat mainspring housing, grip safety contoured for spur hammer
MSRP: $599
I handled one at the NRA convention. It looks like a good, solid piece with just enough enhancements to make it a great shooter.

Keep checking in here for more details.

ANOTHER Debate Invitation

ANOTHER Debate Invitation

A couple of days ago I replied to a rhetorical question at another blog. That blogger responded:
Kevin, Sorry it took me so long to get over here and thank you for the mention.

There have been times when pro-gun guys have pointed out to me that guns aren't the only factor contributing to the violence, even the gun violence. I've always responded that I never said guns were the only factor. I realize there's drug and alcohol abuse, there's economics, family dysfunction, and other things that all combine to give us the gun violence we have.

In your comment you seem to be talking as if gun availability is the only factor. Since it's not, even if your stats are perfectly accurate about the numbers of guns that were pumped into the society while the murder rate when down, there may very well have been other factors to explain that. For example, changes in certain laws, the flow of drugs into the inner cities, like crack cocaine, etc.

Besides, you conveniently leave out the accidents and suicides and talk only of murders. That's not fair.
So, always trying to be fair, I've invited "mikeb30200" to debate:
Mikeb, I'll make you the same offer I make to everyone willing to discuss the topic of gun control: I'm willing to debate you on all of the topics you mentioned above - homicide, accident, suicide, etc. - either at my blog (I'll give you guest posting privileges) or by trading posts at our respective blogs. I don't expect to change your mind, nor you mine. I do this so that you can present your arguments and defend them in public, and I can do the same for mine. That way, those people who have not formed concrete opinions on the topic can see both sides and make informed decisions for themselves.

If you're sure you're right, are you willing to defend your position?
I left the same invitation at his blog. We shall see. But I ain't holding my breath.

UPDATE: Invitation declined:
Kevin, I'm afraid I have to decline. The reason is I honestly don't have the time to do it. I appreciete the offer, it's one that Bob S. has made a few times. I would also like to say, it wouldn't really be a fair debate, my being an amateur and actually a newcomer to the gun issues and you and your friends being true experts. It's one of the things I respect about you guys the most, you certainly have done your homework.

Since my knowledge and experience is so limited compared to yours, I'd have to invest serious time in research and referencing just to make a half way decent showing, and unfortunately I just can't right now.

Over the last year since I have become involved in the debate I've learned a lot. At this rate, hopefully in a year or so, I won't be quite so out-classed as I would be now. It would be like my getting in the ring with the Pacman.
Not that his admitted ignorance will keep him from promoting "obvious truths" that aren't.

Good Capitalism

Good Capitalism?

(h/t Galdalf 23) I'm going to quote this piece in whole, too - it's that good. From Stumbling on Truth, Unafraid in Greenwich Connecticut:
Clifford S. Asness, Ph.D.

The President has just harshly castigated hedge fund managers for being unwilling to take his administration's bid for their Chrysler bonds. He called them "speculators" who were "refusing to sacrifice like everyone else" and who wanted "to hold out for the prospect of an unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout."

The responses of hedge fund managers have been, appropriately, outrage, but generally have been anonymous for fear of going on the record against a powerful President (an exception, though still in the form of a "group letter", was the superb note from "The Committee of Chrysler Non-TARP Lenders" some of the points of which I echo here, and a relatively few firms, like Oppenheimer, that have publicly defended themselves). Furthermore, one by one the managers and banks are said to be caving to the President’s wishes out of justifiable fear.

I run an approximately twenty billion dollar money management firm that offers hedge funds as well as public mutual funds and unhedged traditional investments. My company is not involved in the Chrysler situation, but I am still aghast at the President's comments (of course these are my own views not those of my company). Furthermore, for some reason I was not born with the common sense to keep it to myself, though my title should more accurately be called "Not Afraid Enough" as I am indeed fearful writing this... It's really a bad idea to speak out. Angering the President is a mistake and, my views will annoy half my clients. I hope my clients will understand that I'm entitled to my voice and to speak it loudly, just as they are in this great country. I hope they will also like that I do not think I have the right to intentionally "sacrifice" their money without their permission.

Here's a shock. When hedge funds, pension funds, mutual funds, and individuals, including very sweet grandmothers, lend their money they expect to get it back. However, they know, or should know, they take the risk of not being paid back. But if such a bad event happens it usually does not result in a complete loss. A firm in bankruptcy still has assets. It's not always a pretty process. Bankruptcy court is about figuring out how to most fairly divvy up the remaining assets based on who is owed what and whose contracts come first. The process already has built-in partial protections for employees and pensions, and can set lenders' contracts aside in order to help the company survive, all of which are the rules of the game lenders know before they lend. But, without this recovery process nobody would lend to risky borrowers. Essentially, lenders accept less than shareholders (means bonds return less than stocks) in good times only because they get more than shareholders in bad times.

The above is how it works in America, or how it's supposed to work. The President and his team sought to avoid having Chrysler go through this process, proposing their own plan for re-organizing the company and partially paying off Chrysler's creditors. Some bond holders thought this plan unfair. Specifically, they thought it unfairly favored the United Auto Workers, and unfairly paid bondholders less than they would get in bankruptcy court. So, they said no to the plan and decided, as is their right, to take their chances in the bankruptcy process. But, as his quotes above show, the President thought they were being unpatriotic or worse.

Let's be clear, it is the job and obligation of all investment managers, including hedge fund managers, to get their clients the most return they can. They are allowed to be charitable with their own money, and many are spectacularly so, but if they give away their clients' money to share in the "sacrifice", they are stealing. Clients of hedge funds include, among others, pension funds of all kinds of workers, unionized and not. The managers have a fiduciary obligation to look after their clients' money as best they can, not to support the President, nor to oppose him, nor otherwise advance their personal political views. That's how the system works. If you hired an investment professional and he could preserve more of your money in a financial disaster, but instead he decided to spend it on the UAW so you could "share in the sacrifice", you would not be happy.

Let's quickly review a few side issues.

The President's attempted diktat takes money from bondholders and gives it to a labor union that delivers money and votes for him. Why is he not calling on his party to "sacrifice" some campaign contributions, and votes, for the greater good? Shaking down lenders for the benefit of political donors is recycled corruption and abuse of power.

Let's also mention only in passing the irony of this same President begging hedge funds to borrow more to purchase other troubled securities. That he expects them to do so when he has already shown what happens if they ask for their money to be repaid fairly would be amusing if not so dangerous. That hedge funds might not participate in these programs because of fear of getting sucked into some toxic demagoguery that ends in arbitrary punishment for trying to work with the Treasury is distressing. Some useful programs, like those designed to help finance consumer loans, won't work because of this irresponsible hectoring.

Last but not least, the President screaming that the hedge funds are looking for an unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout is the big lie writ large. Find me a hedge fund that has been bailed out. Find me a hedge fund, even a failed one, that has asked for one. In fact, it was only because hedge funds have not taken government funds that they could stand up to this bullying. The TARP recipients had no choice but to go along. The hedge funds were singled out only because they are unpopular, not because they behaved any differently from any other ethical manager of other people's money. The President's comments here are backwards and libelous. Yet, somehow I don't think the hedge funds will be following ACORN's lead and trucking in a bunch of paid professional protestors soon. Hedge funds really need a community organizer.

This is America. We have a free enterprise system that has worked spectacularly for us for two hundred plus years. When it fails it fixes itself. Most importantly, it is not an owned lackey of the oval office to be scolded for disobedience by the President.


I am ready for my "personalized" tax rate now.
What about IRS audits?

When You've Lost Glenn Greenwald . . .

When You've Lost Glenn Greenwald . . .

From The New Editor via Instapundit:
Salon's Glenn Greenwald has a piece noting that President Obama's policies on terrorism are almost identical to those of President Bush.

A commenter notes: (emphasis added)
I do not know what the future holds where Obama is concerned.

I see very little correlation at this point between words and deeds. ... It seems he's all about the power and the money in that order.

Maybe that was the plan all along
.
Gee, ya THINK?

Greenwald's piece begins:
I wonder how many people from across the political spectrum will have to point this out before Obama defenders will finally admit that it's true. From Harvard Law Professor and former Bush OLC lawyer Jack Goldsmith, systematically assessing Obama's "terrorism" policies in The New Republic:
Many people think Cheney is scare-mongering and owes President Obama his support or at least his silence. But there is a different problem with Cheney's criticisms: his premise that the Obama administration has reversed Bush-era policies is largely wrong. The truth is closer to the opposite: The new administration has copied most of the Bush program, has expanded some of it, and has narrowed only a bit. Almost all of the Obama changes have been at the level of packaging, argumentation, symbol, and rhetoric. . . .

[A]t the end of the day, Obama practices will be much closer to late Bush practices than almost anyone expected in January 2009.
And in an addendum, Greenwald points to this "Tom Tomorrow" cartoon.


Either Markadelphia's alter-ego is Tom Tomorrow, or he takes his marching orders from that cartoon, verbatim!

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
Somewhere in lots of basements around the country, there are millions of rounds of ammunition being stored.

-
Ammunition factory operator Darren Newsom, quoted at Missoulian.com:, More stockpiling ammunition: Fear of potential Obama laws causing mass sales
Runner up, same source:
"I get a million primers in every other day and most are shipped out the very next day," he said. "I have 100 million primers on back order right now. We just can't get enough of them."
Which explains why I can't seem to find any.

See Under: "Irony"

See Under: "Irony"
It must be said, that like the breaking of a great dam, the American decent(sic) into Marxism is happening with breath taking speed, against the back drop of a passive, hapless sheeple, excuse me dear reader, I meant people.
That's the opening line in an op-ed . . .

. . . in PRAVDA. It's titled American capitalism gone with a whimper.

I shit you not! (Hat tip, Arms and the Law). Here's some more:
True, the situation has been well prepared on and off for the past century, especially the past twenty years. The initial testing grounds was conducted upon our Holy Russia and a bloody test it was. But we Russians would not just roll over and give up our freedoms and our souls, no matter how much money Wall Street poured into the fists of the Marxists.

Those lessons were taken and used to properly prepare the American populace for the surrender of their freedoms and souls, to the whims of their elites and betters.

First, the population was dumbed down through a politicized and substandard education system based on pop culture, rather then the classics. Americans know more about their favorite TV dramas then the drama in DC that directly affects their lives. They care more for their "right" to choke down a McDonalds burger or a BurgerKing burger than for their constitutional rights. Then they turn around and lecture us about our rights and about our "democracy". Pride blind the foolish.

Then their faith in God was destroyed, until their churches, all tens of thousands of different "branches and denominations" were for the most part little more then Sunday circuses and their televangelists and top protestant mega preachers were more then happy to sell out their souls and flocks to be on the "winning" side of one pseudo Marxist politician or another. Their flocks may complain, but when explained that they would be on the "winning" side, their flocks were ever so quick to reject Christ in hopes for earthly power. Even our Holy Orthodox churches are scandalously liberalized in America.

The final collapse has come with the election of Barack Obama. His speed in the past three months has been truly impressive. His spending and money printing has been a record setting, not just in America's short history but in the world. If this keeps up for more then another year, and there is no sign that it will not, America at best will resemble the Wiemar Republic and at worst Zimbabwe.

These past two weeks have been the most breath taking of all. First came the announcement of a planned redesign of the American Byzantine tax system, by the very thieves who used it to bankroll their thefts, loses and swindles of hundreds of billions of dollars. These make our Russian oligarchs look little more then ordinary street thugs, in comparison. Yes, the Americans have beat our own thieves in the shear volumes. Should we congratulate them?
There's more.

One of my commenters has been insisting that Obama is not a marxist/socialist. He also insists that we should pay attention to "primary sources."

Pravda is a primary source, is it not? At least for this topic.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rendezvous!

Rendezvous!

You've probably noticed this over on the left sidebar:



Yes, the Fourth Annual Gun Blogger Rendezvous is fast approaching.

What is the Rendezvous, you ask? It's a gathering of bloggers, readers, and a few industry people for a weekend of eating, talking, shooting, drinking, eating, talking, a little gambling, and damned little sleeping. Mr. Completely and the lovely and gracious KeeWee host the GBR each fall, and each Rendezvous has been bigger than the one previous. This one will run from September 10 through September 13 (Thursday through Sunday). The first three Rendezvous were held at the Circus Circus hotel and casino in Reno NV, but since we did most of our eating at the attached Silver Legacy, this year we'll be staying there instead. Room reservation information is available here. You don't have to be there all four days (I'll be showing up Friday afternoon, I think), but you can if you want!

Mr. Completely tries to schedule some activities for us each year. Last year we took a guided tour of the Reno Cabela's (free fudge!), on Friday night we do a "what did you bring" get-together, and on Saturday we always go to the very nice Washoe County Parks Department Public Shooting Range where we throw a lot of lead downrange with the stuff we showed around the night before. But the primary attraction of the Rondy is the people. Each year the hotel provides a hospitality room where all weekend we can sit around and imbibe adult beverages and talk until the wee hours of the morning.

On Saturday after the range trip, we will be having a pizza dinner and raffle for the benefit of Project Valour IT, Maj. Chuck Zeigenfuss' project to provide laptops with voice recognition software and Wii game systems (and other technology) to wounded veterans to help speed their recovery. Maj. Zeigenfuss attended the second GBR and on that Saturday evening he told his story of getting blow up by an IED and his recovery process. The Major was a blogger before he deployed, and when he arrived back in the States he had only one unbandaged finger with which to punch a keyboard. Soldier's Angels set him up with a laptop, a reader gifted him with voice-recognition software, and he was back online. Instead of sitting in his hospital bed punching the morphine button while watching Wheel of Fortune, he was traveling the Matrix, chatting with his friends, dictating blog posts, and leaving comments.

We adopted his ass right then and there. (How can you not love a man, seriously wounded, who after being dragged out of the stinking ditch the IED blew him into, pops up and asks "Am I still pretty?")

We also raised about $600 for his cause. The next year we did without a speaker, and raised $2,030. I hope we top that this year by a fair margin.

And did I mention the raffle? Mr. Completely has lined up sponsors for the Rendezvous each year, and the list keeps getting longer. Brownell's has been a sponsor from the beginning, and I have a damned nice range bag thanks to Larry Weeks and Mr. Completely, and Larry brings a lot more swag than that each year. Last year's sponsors included Hi Point Firearms, Dillon, ParaUSA, Remington and Nosler. This year Glock, excuse me, GLOCK is added to the list. Trust me, everyone goes home with something. the registration form for the dinner and raffle can be found here.

So make plans. I'll be reminding you from time to time in blog posts, and that countdown clock will remain on the sidebar until the Rondy starts.

See you there!

UPDATE: USCitizen RAWKS! And if he pulls this off, I will literally prostrate myself before him and worship at his feet! I will not be worthy!