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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Could've Used This a Couple of Weeks Ago

The latest update from the upcoming Gun Blogger Rendezvous (Sept. 9-12, Reno, NV):
As the Gun Bloggers Unite this month in Reno Nevada, MidwayUSA would like to extend our special appreciation for what they accomplish in shooting industry. First, we would like for each Blogger to receive a special gift from MidwayUSA when they arrive at the Rendezvous. Second, we would like to extend some exclusive discounts for each of the Bloggers and their respected communities/following to take advantage of. We hope these exclusive discounts help as many people and Bloggers as possible to enjoy the shooting sports industry.

Mr. Completely, would you please forward the following promotion codes and guidelines along so that people can start saving on shooting and outdoor gear.

1) Place regularly priced in-stock products in your shopping cart and receive:

* $10 off a Purchase of $100 or more - Use Promotion Code 19410
* $50 off a Purchase of $500 or more - Use Promotion Code 59410
* $100 off a Purchase of $1,000 or more - Use Promotion Code 109410

2) Enter the promotion code in the box entitled "Promotion Code" on the shopping cart page.
3) You will see the discount on the Confirmation page before placing your order
4) Remember, this promotion code is valid for orders placed on MidwayUSA.com.
5) Limited to one per Customer and one promotion code per retail order.
6) Offer cannot be combined with Birthday, Special or Dealer Pricing.
7) Offer not valid on MidwayUSA Gift Certificates, Nightforce, Sale and Clearance products.
8) Offer valid on regularly priced products only.
9) Hurry, offer ends at 11:59 PM CT September 15, 2010.
Cool!

Oh, and here's a list of blogs and websites that will have representation at this year's Rendezvous. More of y'all need to pull the trigger and come on up!

Random Nuclear Strikes
True Blue Sam
Traction Control
The Smallest Minority (Me!)
The Molly Minute
The Packing Rat
Our Gun Thing
(Yes, we're being "infiltrated" by a gun-owning Lefty! Come show him the error of his ways!)
The Clue Meter
Anthroblogogy
AR15.Com
NSSF Blog
NRA Blog
* Joe's Crabby shack (Inactive)
CS Tactical
* Gunup blog (launching soon)
Mr. Completely
Keewee's Corner

Hell, all we need now is Oleg Volk and his cameras. And, of course, YOU. You don't need to BE a blogger, just read one or more of us. We don't bite! And we'll let you shoot our guns!

Quote of the Day - Education Edition

Our kids have become cannon fodder for two rival ideologies battling to control America’s future.

In one camp are conservative Christians and their champion, the Texas State Board of Education; in the other are politically radical multiculturalists and their de facto champion, President Barack Obama. The two competing visions couldn’t be more different. And the stakes couldn’t be higher. Unfortunately, whichever side wins — your kid ends up losing.

That’s because this war is for the power to dictate what our children are taught — and, by extension, how future generations of Americans will view the world. Long gone are the days when classrooms were for learning: now each side sees the public school system as a vast indoctrination camp in which future culture-warriors are trained. The problem is, two diametrically opposed philosophies are struggling for supremacy, and neither is willing to give an inch, so the end result is extremism, no matter which side temporarily comes out on top.

Both visions are grotesque and unacceptable — and yet they are currently the only two choices on the national menu. Which shall it be, sir: Brainwashing Fricassee, or a Fried Ignorance Sandwich?

Zombie - Ideological War Spells Doom for America's Schoolkids
Homeschool if at all possible.

UPDATE: Read ALL FIVE PARTS of Zombie's Überpost. I mean it. He's done parts I and II. I await with bated breath the rest of this magnum opus.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I'm Still Thinking About This

But you've got to admit, he drew an impressive crowd.

The media, however, has found its buzzphrase.

And we're supposed to believe that JournoList was some kind of unique aberrant behavior among that crowd?

Quote of the Day - Politics Again

This time from Mostly Cajun:
Then there’s our own upcoming election. The republican party may indeed win the house. They may indeed get a secure, cloture-proof number of seats in the senate. And then it'll be back to the same old tricks as the bright, enthusiastic newbies hit the capitol all filled with Tea party enthusiasm. forgive my cynicism, but I've seen it all before, back when Newt and the Gang rolled in with the Contract with America. And in one term, the bright faces of the iconoclasts were stilled, replaced every one with the steely glare of the Beltway commandos, happily buying into the idea that a seat in Washington was the single greatest expression of one's worth on the planet, and said seat could be secured by pork and pander.

Except that "pork and pander" has bankrupted the country, and about the first time that Billy Bob's paycheck fails to buy groceries due to the inflation of a failed monetary system, and the first time DaMarcus's food stamps don't work, there's going to be a new game being played.

I'm an old (well, getting there, anyway) man, and I'm an optimist on many things, but I fail to see a peaceful way out of this present unpleasantness. I can hope. I can keep trying, and do my little bit. I can remain watchful. But I'm thinking things will get MUCH worse before they get better.
I'm not quite as old as Dale, and I'm not an optimist, and I think he's accurately described exactly what's coming.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Twelve Days to the Rendezvous

Are you going? Still plenty of time to make travel arrangements. Here's some more incentives to come:

As you've already been told, Hi-Point is donating a pistol caliber carbine, Glock is donating a certificate for any standard model handgun, Ruger is sending a factory representative, the NRA is sending a representative, the National Shooting Sports Foundation is sending a rep, SFC Toby Nunn will be representing Project Valour IT, and Molly Smith will be there again, so you too can be beaten by a little girl at the game of Steel Challenge.

But in addition, Leupold has donated one of their new VX3 scopes, and Derek of The Packing Rat (who has won, I believe, two firearms at previous GBRs) is donating a Venturi Bronco air rifle for the raffle.

And last but not least, Mr. Completely says that something major is going to be announced at GBRV:
At this year's Gun Blogger Rendezvous the head of a major internet start up endeavor will be announcing something new and big and cool! It will involve the internet, guns, shooting, hunting, shooting sports, forum-ing (is that a word? Should it be?), 2nd. Amendment Issues, blogging, and a lot of other stuff too.
Sounds interesting!

Make your plans. It's one of the most enjoyable weekends you'll ever have.

Quote of the Day - Politics Edition

From the comments to the announcement that the EPA has decided not to consider a ban of lead in ammunition:
I wonder how many Donk congresscritters were calling up the EPA and screaming "NOT NOW! NOT F*&KING NOW!" -- Ragin' Dave

Friday, August 27, 2010

That Was Quicker Than Last Time

From the NRA:
EPA Denies Ammo Ban Petition

Friday, August 27, 2010

Responding to a grassroots outcry from gun owners, the Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it has denied a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity and other radical groups that had sought to ban the use of lead in ammunition.

Agreeing with the position of the NRA and the firearms industry, the agency explained in a news release that it "does not have the legal authority to regulate this type of product under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)." Further crushing the hopes of anti-gun and anti-hunting activists, the release added: "nor is the agency seeking such authority."
I guess somebody told them about the sudden rush on Wookie suits.

The NRA Finally Throws Harry Reid Under the Bus

Via email today:
In the coming days and weeks, the NRA Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) will be announcing endorsements and candidate ratings in hundreds of federal races, as well as thousands of state legislative races. Unless these announcements are required by the timing of primary or special elections, the NRA-PVF generally does not issue endorsements while important legislative business is pending. The NRA-PVF also operates under a long-standing policy that gives preference to incumbent candidates who have voted with the NRA on key issues, which is explained in more detail here.

The U.S. Senate recently considered a number of issues important to NRA members, including the confirmation of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Out of respect for the confirmation process, the NRA did not announce its position on Ms. Kagan's confirmation until the conclusion of her testimony before the Senate Judiciary committee. Her evasive testimony exacerbated grave concerns we had about her long-standing hostility towards the Second Amendment. As a result, the NRA strongly opposed her confirmation and made it clear at the time that we would be scoring this important vote.

The vote on Elena Kagan's confirmation to the Court, along with the previous year's confirmation vote on Sonia Sotomayor, are critical for the future of the Second Amendment. After careful consideration, the NRA-PVF announced today that it will not be endorsing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for re-election in the 2010 U.S. Senate race in Nevada.
The NRA, contrary to the beliefs that it is a exclusively Republican organization, has endorsed Harry Reid in the past because of his support of the right to arms, at least when voting on specific legislation. However, there's more to it than just that, and the NRA has at long last weighed the balance of Reid's behavior (or, on the other hand, sees which way the political winds are blowing) and has dropped that support like a hot rock.

About time.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Quote of the Day - "Word!" Edition

Tam expresses precisely my feelings about the EPA considering a ban on lead ammunition:
This would make me want to get my wookie on. This would make me want to saddle up and bust caps. If the .gov was wondering what it would take to turn me into a wild-eyed militia kook, well, they've found it.
And:
*There is anecdotal evidence that the banning of traditional ammunition would have an adverse impact on government bureaucrat populations.
Re-read Personal Sovereignty and "Killing Their Asses" if you don't believe me.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Oh HELL No! (Part II)

Well, one does have to wonder at the current .gov. Back in March 2009 the Department of Defense attempted to change its rules for the disposal of once-fired small-arms ammunition casings by requiring the brass to be destroyed, suitable only as scrap metal.

The reaction of the shooting community was swift, vocal, and effective.

Now the Environmental Protection Agency is considering banning lead in firearm ammunition. Click on that link. Follow the NSSF's recommendations. Write your congresscritters, then call them. Comment on the EPA's public commentary site. Write - hell, call - Administrator Lisa Jackson's office and voice your objections.

Repeatedly.

Be calm, be collected, be polite. But be insistent and persistent.

UPDATE: It's over. The EPA backed down.

In Even Better Political News . . .

Ruth McClung has won the Republican primary and will be running against (*hawk, spit!*) Raul Grijalva for the AZ Congressional District 7 seat. I met Ms. McClung at a blogger gathering in Phoenix a few months ago (she's not in my district, I live in District 8.) Now she has to face the Grijalva political machine. I wish her great luck.

One of her campaign slogans I really like is "Maybe it does take a rocket scientist . . . "

She's an engineer, and her expertise is in missile guidance systems.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lt. Col. Allen West Wins!

Ron Klein and Allen West set for contentious general election battle

Voters in Broward and Palm Beach counties set the table for a vicious political food fight in November – the race between U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, and challenger Allen West, R-Plantation.

Each candidate easily won his party’s nomination. Klein crushed Paul Francis Renneisen and West easily bested David Brady.

With half the precincts counted shortly before 10 p.m., Klein had 84 percent of the Democratic primary vote.

With half the precincts counted shortly befoare 10 p.m., West had 76 percent of the Republican primary vote.

In other news, it looks like McLame will be going back to the Senate for another six years.

Dammit.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My New Favorite Flag

We're not quite there yet, but we're closer than we've been since 1775. Or 1860.

In Our New Spirit of Cooperation . . .

Here's a story that backs up some of what Markadelphia has been saying:
Who's teaching L.A.'s kids?

A Times analysis, using data largely ignored by LAUSD, looks at which educators help students learn, and which hold them back.

August 14, 2010|By Jason Felch, Jason Song and Doug Smith, Los Angeles Times

The fifth-graders at Broadous Elementary School come from the same world — the poorest corner of the San Fernando Valley, a Pacoima neighborhood framed by two freeways where some have lost friends to the stray bullets of rival gangs.

Many are the sons and daughters of Latino immigrants who never finished high school, hard-working parents who keep a respectful distance and trust educators to do what's best.

The students study the same lessons. They are often on the same chapter of the same book.

Yet year after year, one fifth-grade class learns far more than the other down the hall. The difference has almost nothing to do with the size of the class, the students or their parents.

It's their teachers.
There's a lot more, many pages. And the differences are, of course, measured by means of standardized tests. But the differences are real.

Yes, teachers make a helluva difference - I've never argued otherwise. What we've been arguing about is what they're teaching. Or not teaching.

Book Update

I swung by my local used-book superstore, Bookman's. As others have noticed, Pratchett doesn't get traded in much. They had one hardcover of Going Postal. Period. So I went to Barnes & Noble and picked up Guards! Guards! and The Truth. I also picked up another book I knew nothing about, Craig Ferguson's American On Purpose.

Here's what sold me, from the preface:
One of the greatest moments in American sports history was provided by Bobby Thomson, the "Staten Island Scot." Born in my hometown of Glasgow, Scotland, in 1923, he hit the shot heard round the world that won the Giants the National League pennant in 1951. Had Bobby stayed in Glasgow he would never have played baseball, he would never have faced the fearsome Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca in that championship game, and he would never have learned that if you can hit the ball three times out of ten you'll make it to the Hall of Fame.

Today I watch my son at Little League games, his freckled Scottish face squinting in the California sunshine, the bat held high on his shoulder, waiting for the moment, and I rejoice that he loves this most American game. He will know from an early age that failure is not disgrace. It's just a pitch that you missed, and you'd better get ready for the next one. The next one might be the shot heard round the world. My son and I are Americans, we prepare for glory by failing until we don't.

I wish I'd known all this earlier. It would have saved me a lot of trouble.

"...Americans, we prepare for glory by failing until we don't."

And that right there is Quote of the MONTH.

This promises to be a most interesting book. Here's the rest of the preface:
In order to write this book I reached into the darkness for my past and found to my surprise that most of it was still there, just as I had left it. Some of it, though, had grown and morphed into what now appears to be hideous and reprehensible selfishness. Some of it had crumbled into the ruins of former shame.

This is not journalism. This is just my story. There are bound to be some lies here, but I've been telling them so long they've become truth, my truth, as close as I can get to what really happened. I left some tales out because to tell them would be excessively cruel to people who probably don't deserve it, and altered a few names for the same reason, but I believe I spared myself no blushes.

I didn't flee a dictator or swim an ocean to be an American like some do. I just thought long and hard about it.

I looked at the evidence of my life and gratefully signed up.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

"Our" Blog?

I just received this in email from Markadelphia - in its entirety:
http://www.theonion.com/articles/new-edition-of-bible-specifically-mentions-second,17882/

This has to be worthy of some kind of recognition on our blog, right?
"Our" blog?

"OUR"?!? (Must resist ban hammer . . . must resist . . . .)

UPDATE: In comments, Markadelphia apologizes for his Freudian slip:
Crap. I'm a moron. I left the "y" out of "our." All apologies and it was not intentional. I honestly am abysmal at typing.
Well, then.

Your Moment of Zen

Time for another:

(Click for full size.)

Regarding Pratchett

A couple of excerpts from Night Watch that resonated with me:
Swing, though, started in the wrong place. He didn't look around, and watch, and learn, and then say "This is how people are, how do we deal with it?" No, he sat and thought "This is how people ought to be, how do we change them?" And that was a good enough thought for a priest but not for a copper, because Swing's patient, pedantic way had turned policing on its head.

There had been that Weapons Law, for a start. Weapons were involved in so many crimes that, Swing reasoned, reducing the number of weapons had to reduce the crime rate.

Vimes wondered if he'd sat up in bed in the middle of the night and hugged himself when he'd dreamed that one up. Confiscate all weapons, and crime would go down. It made sense. It would have worked too, if only there had been enough coppers -- say, three per citizen.

Amazingly, quite a few weapons were handed in. The flaw, though, was one that somehow managed escape Swing, and it was this: criminals don't obey the law. It's more or less a requirement for the job. They had no particular interest in making the streets safer for anyone but themselves. And they couldn't believe what was happening.

--

And then, one after another, horrible things would happen. By then it was too late for them not to. The tension would unwind like a spring, scything through the city.

There were plotters, there was no doubt about it. Some had been ordinary people who'd had enough. Some were young people with no money who objected to the fact that the world was run by old people who were rich. Some were in it to get girls. And some had been idiots as mad as Swing, with a view of the world just as rigid and unreal, who were on the side of what they called "The People." Vimes had spent his life on the streets and had met decent men, and fools, and people who'd steal a penny from a blind beggar, and people who performed silent miracles or desperate crimes every day behind the grubby windows of little houses, but he'd never met The People.

People on the side of The People always ended up disappointed in any case. They found that The People tended not to be grateful or appreciative or forward-thinking or obedient. The People tended to be small minded and conservative and not very clever and were even distrustful of cleverness. And so, the children of the revolution were faced with the age-old problem: it wasn't that you had the wrong kind of government, which was obvious, but that you had the wrong kind of people.

As soon as you saw people as things to be measured, they didn't measure up.

--

The People's Republic of Treacle Mine Road lacked all the big, important buildings in the city, the ones that traditional rebels were supposed to take. It had no government buildings, no banks, and very few temples. It was almost completely bereft of important civic architecture.

All it had was the unimportant stuff. It had the entire slaughterhouse district, and the butter market, and the cheese market. It had the tobacco factors, and the candlemakers, and most of the fruit and vegetable warehouses, and the grain and flour stores. This meant that while the Republicans were being starved of important things like government, banking services, and salvation, they were self-sufficient in terms of humdrum, everyday things like food and drink.

People are content to wait a long time for salvation, but prefer dinner to turn up inside an hour.

OK, Now I Get Terry Pratchett

Most (if not all) of the cool people other gun bloggers have raved about Terry Pratchett and his Discworld books. Some time ago I picked up the first couple of the series, The Colour of Magic, and The Light Fantastic.

And they didn't do it for me.

I've mentioned that to a couple of people, and they were surprised to hear it, but a couple of others advised me to delve further into the 38-book series. Thursday afternoon I picked up Night Watch.

I haven't gotten a lot of sleep since then.

Last night I did a four (4!) hour Vicious Circle, signing off early (!) so I could get up this morning and go shoot a USPSA match. But I picked up Night Watch again, and read until I couldn't hold my eyes open. I finished it this morning.

I think I'll just take the 5R and the M25 to the range and do some load testing instead. And I may drop by Bookman's on the way home.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Quote of the Day for Saturday

Because I'm going to the USPSA match, and probably won't be posting anything tomorrow, and I don't want to post-date this particular bit of linkage. From Dr. Sanity:
Eleven score and four years ago, our forefathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Today we live in an Animal Farm world where our elites in Congress consider themselves more equal than you or I; and the wealth created by the productive people in our society is regularly redistributed to those who produce nothing; or, it is wasted on the pet projects of those preening elites who are certain that they know what is best for for everyone. In short, we (and our children and their children) are slowly but inexorably being transformed into slaves of the State.
From Our Very Own Little Country of Horrors which I urge you to read in its (brief) entirety.

Then skip down and read Between Brains, which is longer, deeper, and more important.

Dismantling America

Thomas Sowell has a four-part essay up at Townhall.com by that title. Read it.

I'll be on tonight's Vicious Circle where I'm sure this will be a topic, because I'm going to bring it up.

UPDATE: Dr. Sowell is again featured on NRO's Uncommon Knowledge. This week the topic is "American Collapse." I'm watching it now.

Quote of the Day - Education Edition

I stopped at the local BBQ tonight (we needed a fix, y'see). The two Sweet Young Things were yammering with each other as they rang up my sale.

One allowed as how she was allergic to lots of things. She explained, "I just say I'm allergic to things I don't like; cottage cheese, nuts, school ..."

I couldn't help myself.

"You don't like school?"

"Nope."

"How come?"

"Because NOW we have to actually DO the work."

Oh shit.

"What school is that?"

"College."

"What grade?"

"Junior."

"What major?"

"Elementary education."

Oh shit.
"Oh shit" indeed. That's from reader DJ in the comments to this post.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quote of the Day - Van der Leun Edition

It is no secret that classic liberalism, in the mold of FDR, JFK,and LBJ that reached its apotheosis in Hubert Humphrey, has long been consigned to the bone-yard. What has taken its place hates to be tarred with the brush of liberalism because, frankly, it isn't. It prefers to be called "progressivism" even as "a sociopathic political and social recidivism" more accurately describes it. - Gerard Van der Leun, The Not-So-Great Generation and the Vision That Dare Not Speak Its Name, American Digest.
RTWT. Twice.

More Evidence of Our Collapsing Schools

As if we needed it:
The Freshman Foul: Poor ACT Scores
High School Students Score Lower than Ever on ACT: 28 Percent Unprepared to Pass Even One College-Level Subject

It's the annual mid-August ritual for college students: moving into their dorms. But tests suggest an alarming number of high school graduates are arriving unprepared for college level class work, reports CBS News national correspondent Jim Axelrod.

"I have always had a hard time with math and science those are my two hardest subjects," Jeanette Settembre, a sophomore at Manhattan College, told CBS News. " I don't feel like I was prepared in those two subjects for when I went to college."

Those are two of four subjects measured by the ACT - a test taken mainly in the Midwest and the South that measures if students know enough to pass first year college courses.

Some 28 percent were unprepared to pass even one of the subjects - math, reading, English and science -- ACT measures.

"We've got a lot of work to do -- especially in math and science," said Cyndie Schmeiser, ACT's Education Division president and chief operating officer.

A lot. One recent study concluded high school students in 23 countries were outperforming U.S. students in math. Students in 16 countries were outperforming U.S. students in science. And nine countries did better in literacy.

While some reformers encourage students to take harder courses in high school, others say the solution lies in a more comprehensive overhaul.
Like a nuke from orbit.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

B B & Guns

I'll be on B B & Guns tomorrow with Bonnie and Breda, talking about Gun Blogger Rendezvous V coming up Sept. 9-12. I don't know who else will be on with us, but I'll be there! Tune in, or catch the podcast.

Monday, August 16, 2010

There are No Socialists in Our Government . . .

. . . what a silly idea!

DISCLAIMER:
The list is of the Progressive Caucus, which isn't affiliated with any socialist organization. Spun-up half-truth from WND.
Discussion @ http://www.theguncounter.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=13154
- Commenter "Fill"
There's about a dime's worth of difference between a modern "Progressive" and your run-of-the-mill socialist, but that's not the same thing as being a proud card-carrying member of the Democratic Socialists of America. Chris Byrne is right when he said:
"Now, once again, let me state an important political principle.

"When you use an argument, or cite a "fact" that you haven't done the research on, you make yourself look like and idiot, and you hurt your own side.

"When you make a provably false statement, you make yourself look like an idiot, and you hurt your own side.

"When you cite a known crackpot, you make yourself look like an idiot, and you hurt your own side.

"When you use a well known discredited or provably false argument, you make yourself look like an idiot and you hurt your own side."
I had planned to do more research on this before I hit "Post," but I didn't. Mea culpa.
American Socialist Voter–

Q: How many members of the U.S. Congress are also members of the DSA?
A: Seventy

Q: How many of the DSA members sit on the Judiciary Committee?
A: Eleven: John Conyers [Chairman of the Judiciary Committee], Tammy Baldwin, Jerrold Nadler, Luis Gutierrez,
Melvin Watt, Maxine Waters, Hank Johnson, Steve Cohen, Barbara Lee, Robert Wexler, Linda Sanchez [there are 23 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee of which eleven, almost half, are now members of the DSA].

Q: Who are these members of 111th Congress?
A: See the listing below

Co-Chairs
Hon. Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-07)
Hon. Lynn Woolsey (CA-06)

Vice Chairs
Hon. Diane Watson (CA-33)
Hon. Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX-18)
Hon. Mazie Hirono (HI-02)
Hon. Dennis Kucinich (OH-10)

Senate Members
Hon. Bernie Sanders (VT)

House Members
Hon. Neil Abercrombie (HI-01)
Hon. Tammy Baldwin (WI-02)
Hon. Xavier Becerra (CA-31)
Hon. Madeleine Bordallo (GU-AL)
Hon. Robert Brady (PA-01)
Hon. Corrine Brown (FL-03)
Hon. Michael Capuano (MA-08)
Hon. André Carson (IN-07)
Hon. Donna Christensen (VI-AL)
Hon. Yvette Clarke (NY-11)
Hon. William “Lacy” Clay (MO-01)
Hon. Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05)
Hon. Steve Cohen (TN-09)
Hon. John Conyers (MI-14)
Hon. Elijah Cummings (MD-07)
Hon. Danny Davis (IL-07)
Hon. Peter DeFazio (OR-04)
Hon. Rosa DeLauro (CT-03)
Rep. Donna F. Edwards (MD-04)
Hon. Keith Ellison (MN-05)
Hon. Sam Farr (CA-17)
Hon. Chaka Fattah (PA-02)
Hon. Bob Filner (CA-51)
Hon. Barney Frank (MA-04)
Hon. Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11)
Hon. Alan Grayson (FL-08)
Hon. Luis Gutierrez (IL-04)
Hon. John Hall (NY-19)
Hon. Phil Hare (IL-17)
Hon. Maurice Hinchey (NY-22)
Hon. Michael Honda (CA-15)
Hon. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (IL-02)
Hon. Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30)
Hon. Hank Johnson (GA-04)
Hon. Marcy Kaptur (OH-09)
Hon. Carolyn Kilpatrick (MI-13)
Hon. Barbara Lee (CA-09)
Hon. John Lewis (GA-05)
Hon. David Loebsack (IA-02)
Hon. Ben R. Lujan (NM-3)
Hon. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14)
Hon. Ed Markey (MA-07)
Hon. Jim McDermott (WA-07)
Hon. James McGovern (MA-03)
Hon. George Miller (CA-07)
Hon. Gwen Moore (WI-04)
Hon. Jerrold Nadler (NY-08)
Hon. Eleanor Holmes-Norton (DC-AL)
Hon. John Olver (MA-01)
Hon. Ed Pastor (AZ-04)
Hon. Donald Payne (NJ-10)
Hon. Chellie Pingree (ME-01)
Hon. Charles Rangel (NY-15)
Hon. Laura Richardson (CA-37)
Hon. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34)
Hon. Bobby Rush (IL-01)
Hon. Linda Sánchez (CA-47)
Hon. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)
Hon. José Serrano (NY-16)
Hon. Louise Slaughter (NY-28)
Hon. Pete Stark (CA-13)
Hon. Bennie Thompson (MS-02)
Hon. John Tierney (MA-06)
Hon. Nydia Velazquez (NY-12)
Hon. Maxine Waters (CA-35)
Hon. Mel Watt (NC-12)
Hon. Henry Waxman (CA-30)
Hon. Peter Welch (VT-AL)
Hon. Robert Wexler (FL-19)

Via Gateway Pundit.

Get that? That's 70 out of 435 members of Congress willing to be identified as members of the Socialist Progressive Caucus, including Maxine "We're Gonna Socialize You" Waters. Almost half of the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are self-identified members.

These are people who swore to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, yet in order to be Socialists, they must subvert that very document. The two philosophies ARE NOT COMPATIBLE.

But we're constantly assured that there's nothing to be worried about! The specter of socialism is merely a hobgoblin of The Cult™ created just to frighten the kiddies! (Dime's worth of difference.)

Pitchforks and torches and rope, oh my!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Quote of the Day - Edumacashun Edition

From the comments at Tam's:
I tutor children from our public schools and I, too, had a high-school senior who didn't know that the Sun is a star around which the Earth revolves, that the Moon is a planet that revolves around the Earth, or that light travels very fast. This student had memorized the multiplication tables in elementary school but didn't know what multiplication "means."
Another example was with a high-school senior taking an "AP Chemistry" class. This student wanted help understanding how to calculate the molarity of a solution. I kept working "backwards" through the "things one needs to know" in search of the student's baseline competence. At one point I posed the question "If you have two five pound bags of sugar, how much sugar do you have?" The student responded, "Twenty-five pounds. You multiply don't you?"

Several years ago, I had a third grade student who needed help with arithmetic. This student was very bright but didn't seem to be retaining much from her class at school. I made an appointment with the teacher to try to get more information about what and how my student was being taught.

At one point in the conversation I mentioned that my student didn't seem confident in even basic facts like knowing the "multiplication table." The teacher said, "Well, we're not as concerned about their knowing the exact answer as how they feel about that answer."

At this point, I knew I had found the root of this student's problem. I thanked the teacher for taking time to meet with me and backed slowly out of the office.

Again, all of the students in these examples were very bright and had managed to be very successful in their classes. They were all eager students and found their way to me because they really wanted to learn. They all came from homes where their parents were present, loving, dedicated, and involved in their lives. In every case, their performance improved quickly once we put some of the basics in place. All graduated from college and are successful in their careers. The first is now an accountant, the second is a nurse, and the third is a psychiatrist. In short, the only thing preventing them from getting a high quality education was the Educational System itself.
- "Larry"

Friday, August 13, 2010

Even I Didn't Think It Was This Bad

From AR15.com:
I was watching Band Of Brothers with a group of people (The episode where they find the concentration camp)

No lie...No embellishment...No exaggeration...

I had to explain, in detail, to a 31 year old individual who Adolf Hitler was... Why "the Jews hated him so much"... Why the people were in the prison camp, and why they were so skinny.

This particular person was a straight A, honor roll student in high school...has a Master's degree in business management...and, is a corporate director for a national organization.

I asked her how she managed to get through school, and 31 years of life without ever hearing of Hitler or the Nazis.

She said she has heard the name (Like, when people compare a politician to "Hitler"... Or, call an overbearing person "Little Hitler", or "Nazi") but she never knew where the reference came from.

(She was horrified when I gave her a quick and dirty, abridged version of what happened in Nazi Germany).

I am still in disbelief


On the bright side... She is VERY bright...And, she is now very interested to learn a little bit about history. So, I am building a list of reading and viewing material for her.
Thirty-one. Born in 1979, just like my daughter, who didn't know what Pearl Harbor was.

Sweet bleeding jeebus.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Quote of the Day - Words to Live By Edition

I looked at Bobbi today at the fair and said "You know, it'd be a damn shame to live 80 years on a planet with elephants on it and die without ever having ridden one."- Tam, in a comment to her own post What I Did on My Summer Staycation
Word.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Another Data Point on the Road to the Endarkenment

And today's Quote of the Day from Daphne's brother Doug:
How could anyone with a functioning brain stem find celebrity whores so goddamn fascinating? Do these mindless plebes think those talentless stars even realize they exist as anything more than dollar signs filling up their fat bank accounts? The economy is in the shitter, there are few replacement jobs for normal people who want to work, need to work, the federal debt is out of control, we’re busy fighting two long wars, my people (he’s retired Airforce) are coming home in body bags or damaged beyond belief and shameful few of my fellow neighbors take the occasional minute to notice this awful, bloody fact, much less bow their heads in distressed prayer. Washington is so corrupt we might as well call it Goat Fucking Kabul and these mindless, well-heeled women are busy discussing Lady Gaga’s genetically mangled, fucked up crotch for a solid hour like it’s the Holy goddamn Grail.
Can I get an "AMEN!"?

And on that cheerful note, I'm going to bed.

Critical Unthinking

So yesterday Robb Allen of Sharp as a Marble sends me a link to a story at LewRockwell.com about a high school valedictorian and her graduation speech. Robb said he thought I might find it interesting because young Ms. Goldson mentioned John Taylor Gatto in her speech. She also quotes Mencken. Unfortunately, I don't think she found quite what she's concluded she found.

Let us fisk:
There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, "If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen? The Master thought about this, then replied, "Ten years." The student then said, "But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast – How long then?" Replied the Master, "Well, twenty years." "But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?" asked the student. "Thirty years," replied the Master. "But, I do not understand," said the disappointed student. "At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?" Replied the Master, "When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path."
And a severe case of strabismus.
This is the dilemma I've faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.

Some of you may be thinking, "Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn't you learn something? Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible.
She has a valid point here, but . . . well, I'll come back to this.
I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination.
She is, at least, aware that she's been indoctrinated - something her peers probably don't realize.
I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work.
That's what a high school diploma used to mean. Now it requires a BA?
But I contend that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker.
Here we begin to see her problem.
A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave.
No young lady, you were not a "slave." No one beat you if you didn't study. (Ask the slackers.) No one threatened to sell you if you didn't perform. You were a conformist, and particularly adept and successful at conforming. There's a great difference between a conformist and a slave. Ask real slaves.
I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker.
"Great artists," eh? How many can make a living off their art? This kid is a "great artist." Most of your doodling classmates will be lucky if they can get a job at McDonalds. And then they will be unable to make change without the aid of the electronic cash register. If even one makes it as a commercial or fine artist, they will be the exception rather than the rule. And even artists have to work to earn their livings.
While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment.
Those people may succeed, as long as their extracurricular reading interest wasn't Lady Gaga or who Paris Hilton is banging these days.
While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it.
So all of the people who didn't do their schoolwork are great artistes?
So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I'm scared.
Scared is good! Scared is better than cud-chewing obliviousness. Fear, when properly channeled, can tend to focus the mind. From my youthful reading:
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. - Bene Gesserit litany against fear, Dune by Frank Herbert
Continuing:
John Taylor Gatto, a retired school teacher and activist critical of compulsory schooling, asserts, "We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness – curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids into truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then. But we don't do that." Between these cinderblock walls, we are all expected to be the same. We are trained to ace every standardized test, and those who deviate and see light through a different lens are worthless to the scheme of public education, and therefore viewed with contempt."
And here's a beautiful example I received in my email box at work this morning. (It's a joke:)
Our teacher asked us what our favorite animal was, and I said, "Fried chicken." She said I wasn't funny, but she couldn't have been right, everyone else in the class laughed.

My parents told me to always be truthful and honest, and I am. Fried chicken is my favorite animal. I told my dad what happened, and he said my teacher was probably a member of PETA. He said they love animals very much. I do, too. Especially chicken, pork and beef.

Anyway, my teacher sent me to the principal's office. I told him what happened, and he laughed too. Then he told me not to do it again.

The next day in class my teacher asked me what my favorite live animal was. I told her it was chicken. She asked me why, just like she'd asked the other children. So I told her it was because you could make them into fried chicken. She sent me back to the principal's office again. He laughed, and told me not to do it again.

I don't understand. My parents taught me to be honest, but my teacher doesn't like it when I am. Today, my teacher asked us to tell her what famous person we admire most.

I told her, "Colonel Sanders".

Guess where I am now...
So yes, the school system encourages conformity. Encourages hell, demands it. But that's the nature of the system, as Gatto is well aware. It's also one of the reasons I strongly recommend taking off and nuking the entire site from orbit as the only way to be sure that the failure that is the American education system is "reformed."

Continuing with Ms. Goldson's speech:
H. L. Mencken wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not "to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. ... Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim ... is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States."

To illustrate this idea, doesn't it perturb you to learn about the idea of "critical thinking?" Is there really such a thing as "uncritically thinking?" To think is to process information in order to form an opinion. But if we are not critical when processing this information, are we really thinking? Or are we mindlessly accepting other opinions as truth?

This was happening to me, and if it wasn't for the rare occurrence of an avant-garde tenth grade English teacher, Donna Bryan, who allowed me to open my mind and ask questions before accepting textbook doctrine, I would have been doomed. I am now enlightened, but my mind still feels disabled. I must retrain myself and constantly remember how insane this ostensibly sane place really is.
And here, I'm afraid, I have to whip out the Reynold's-Wrap yarmulke and suggest - just suggest! - that the "avant-garde" Donna Bryan is an acolyte of Paolo Freire's "Critical Pedagogy." Ms. Bryan exposed young Ms. Goldson to some information she has never seen before, and suddenly it all became so very clear!
And now here I am in a world guided by fear, a world suppressing the uniqueness that lies inside each of us, a world where we can either acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism or insist on change. We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us.

We are more than robotic bookshelves, conditioned to blurt out facts we were taught in school. We are all very special, every human on this planet is so special, so aren't we all deserving of something better, of using our minds for innovation, rather than memorization, for creativity, rather than futile activity, for rumination rather than stagnation? We are not here to get a degree, to then get a job, so we can consume industry-approved placation after placation. There is more, and more still.
How many Leftist buzzwords and phrases can you pick out of those two paragraphs? Who wants to bet that a Ché poster or T-shirt is in her immediate future (assuming she doesn't have one already), capitalism be damned?

Do I think the teacher, Ms. Bryan, is a member of the Tuesday Night Socialists Club? No, but I have no doubt that she's a true believer who has found her calling in the educational system where she sees it as her duty to "save" as many kids as she can reach. From the site 21st Century Schools:
"The fundamental commitment of critical educators is to empower the powerless and transform those conditions which perpetuate human injustice and inequity (McLaren, 1988). This purpose is inextricably linked to the fulfillment of what Paulo Freire (1970) defines as our "vocation" - to be truly humanized social agents in the world. Hence, a major function of critical pedagogy is to critique, expose, and challenge the manner in which schools impact upon the political and cultural life of students. Teachers must recognize how schools unite knowledge and power and how through this function they can work to influence or thwart the formation of critically thinking and socially active individuals.

"Unlike traditional perspectives of education that claim to be neutral and apolitical, critical pedagogy views all education theory as intimately linked to ideologies shaped by power, politics, history and culture. Given this view, schooling functions as a terrain of ongoing struggle over what will be accepted as legitimate knowledge and culture. In accordance with this notion, a critical pedagogy must seriously address the concept of cultural politics y(sic) both legitimizing and challenging cultural experiences that comprise the histories and social realities that in turn comprise the forms and boundaries that give meaning to student lives. (Darder 1991, p. 77)" Antonia Darder, 1995
Sounds about right.

As I told Robb, I find it constantly surprising, though I don't know why, that such intelligent people as Ms. Goldson can be so easily led around by the nose. First it was conforming to succeed within the educational system, now it's conforming to her new-found philosophy. She believes that she is now thinking for herself when instead she is absorbing - again without question - the revolutionary mindset of the Left. But youth is where this capacity is best exploited, because the young have no experience.

Ms. Goldson has been exposed to the Received Wisdom of the Left, and her first impulse is that of every convert to a new religion - proselytizing:
The saddest part is that the majority of students don't have the opportunity to reflect as I did. The majority of students are put through the same brainwashing techniques in order to create a complacent labor force working in the interests of large corporations and secretive government, and worst of all, they are completely unaware of it. I will never be able to turn back these 18 years. I can't run away to another country with an education system meant to enlighten rather than condition.
Like, say, Cuba's? 100% literacy!
This part of my life is over, and I want to make sure that no other child will have his or her potential suppressed by powers meant to exploit and control. We are human beings. We are thinkers, dreamers, explorers, artists, writers, engineers. We are anything we want to be – but only if we have an educational system that supports us rather than holds us down. A tree can grow, but only if its roots are given a healthy foundation.
I seem to recall that this nation - a nation of thinkers, dreamers, explorers, artists, writers, and engineers - managed to get to the moon and back several times with a school system that had very little influence by the pedants of Critical Pedagogy. In fact, John Taylor Gatto himself marks the date of the change in the educational system to 1965, long after the people responsible for the moon missions were out of primary school. Of course, it started long before 1965, but that's when critical mass in the Schools of Education and Boards of Education were reached. Now, 45 years later, we have the nationwide disaster that public schooling has become, in large part (I argue) because schools aren't teaching basic skills and knowledge. Too many are too busy "critiqu(ing), expos(ing), and challeng(ing) the manner in which schools impact upon the political and cultural life of students." Again, an education joke I've used before:
Teaching Math in 1950:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.
His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1960:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.
His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1970:
A logger exchanges a set "L" of lumber for a set "M" of money.
The cardinality of set "M" is 100. Each element is worth one dollar.
Make 100 dots representing the elements of the set "M."
The set "C", the cost of production contains 20 fewer points than set "M."
Represent the set "C" as a subset of set "M" and answer the following question: What is the cardinality of the set "P" of profits?

Teaching Math in 1980:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.
His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment:
Underline the number 20.

Teaching Math in 1990:
By cutting down beautiful forest trees, the logger makes $20.
What do you think of this way of making a living?
Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down the trees?
(There are no wrong answers.)

Teaching Math in 2000:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $120.
How does Arthur Andersen determine that his profit margin is $60?
How many documents were shredded to achieve this number?

Teaching Math in 2010:
Un hachero vende una carretada de madera por $100.
El costo de la producciones es $80. Cuanto dinero ha hecho?

Teaching Math in 2040:
ومسجل تبيع حمولة شاحنة من الخشب من أجل 100 دولا

تكلفة الإنتاج هو صاحب 5/4 من الثمن. ما هو الربح له ؟
Ms. Goldson is just another victim of that system. She does have some advice for her fellow victims:
For those of you out there that must continue to sit in desks and yield to the authoritarian ideologies of instructors, do not be disheartened. You still have the opportunity to stand up, ask questions, be critical, and create your own perspective. Demand a setting that will provide you with intellectual capabilities that allow you to expand your mind instead of directing it.
This setting is known as "detention."
Demand that you be interested in class.
LOL, whut? "Demand" that of whom?
Demand that the excuse, "You have to learn this for the test" is not good enough for you. Education is an excellent tool, if used properly, but focus more on learning rather than getting good grades.
Education isn't a "tool," it's a path. Schools are tools. Education is what you can pursue there if it is in good working order and you do your part of the job right.
For those of you that work within the system that I am condemning, I do not mean to insult; I intend to motivate. You have the power to change the incompetencies of this system. I know that you did not become a teacher or administrator to see your students bored. You cannot accept the authority of the governing bodies that tell you what to teach, how to teach it, and that you will be punished if you do not comply. Our potential is at stake.
They can't? Your potential might be at stake, but their jobs are. Your "avant-garde" Ms. Bryan is in no danger of losing her teaching certificate, but woe unto anyone who attempts to violate the edicts of the Administration by, you know, actually requiring students to work in order to pass. Woe unto the teachers that deviate from the Accepted Plan. Woe unto teachers who try to get disruptive students removed from their classrooms, etc. etc. etc.
For those of you that are now leaving this establishment, I say, do not forget what went on in these classrooms. Do not abandon those that come after you. We are the new future and we are not going to let tradition stand. We will break down the walls of corruption to let a garden of knowledge grow throughout America. Once educated properly, we will have the power to do anything, and best of all, we will only use that power for good, for we will be cultivated and wise. We will not accept anything at face value. We will ask questions, and we will demand truth.
In other words, destroy the system, but it'll be OK because now the RIGHT PEOPLE will be in charge!! It'll be UTOPIA! There'll be rainbows and unicorns!

It's the same siren song the Left has always preached.
So, here I stand. I am not standing here as valedictorian by myself. I was molded by my environment, by all of my peers who are sitting here watching me. I couldn't have accomplished this without all of you. It was all of you who truly made me the person I am today. It was all of you who were my competition, yet my backbone. In that way, we are all valedictorians.
No, they're the ones you were measured against. You are now one of the Intellectual Elite, and you will be assured and reassured by your new peers that you - and only you - are capable of understanding how things really are and deciding how things ought to be. That you and your new-found friends ought to be in charge, but aren't only because of the greedy rich.
I am now supposed to say farewell to this institution, those who maintain it, and those who stand with me and behind me, but I hope this farewell is more of a "see you later" when we are all working together to rear a pedagogic movement. But first, let's go get those pieces of paper that tell us that we're smart enough to do so!
(*Sigh*)

If you've read this far, you might find this Thomas Sowell piece interesting as well: Cheering Immaturity

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Not Feelin' It

Robb Allen sent me a link today that, along with a column from Thomas Sowell, should have inspired me to an extended post, but I'm just not feelin' it today. Wasn't yesterday either.

It's 7:45. I think I'm going to bed. And tonight I'm locking the damned cat OUT of the bedroom.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Chris Muir Weighs In . . .

I have a hard time packing it into 500 words, he does it in eight panels.

500 Words

"In your opinion, what is an emerging threat to freedom?" Or, more plainly stated, "What, in your opinion, is the most critical threat to our society today?"

Interesting question(s).

The threats are many and they are varied, but they seem to have all boiled down into one overwhelming symptom: the schism in American culture. America has been hailed throughout its history as "a melting pot" or "a salad bowl." We're a mixture of diverse peoples melded into one culture. Certainly we have our differences – classes, ethnicities, religions, etc. However, throughout our history people have come here to become American. Regardless of our ancestries, we have been Americans first, united by that globe-spanning idea that here (more than any other place in the world) you can pursue happiness. Your future is not restricted by your past. You too can become rich and famous. You too can own your own home and raise a family. You too can sleep easily at night with no fear of a midnight knock on the door. You too can run for public office and participate in the system that keeps us safe and free.

But what has happened over time is that human nature has overcome the checks and balances that Madison and the other Founders put into that system to minimize the damage that human beings can do. Those men understood that power corrupts and attracts the corrupt, and they attempted to construct a system of government that would allow the most freedom individuals had ever had under any government, while still providing enough power to the government to allow it to do the things that we form governments for. It worked well for a very long time, but as someone observed, once politicians realized they could bribe the people with their own money, the Republic was doomed.

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public employment as sinecure with unsustainable retirement benefits. Public sector pay that exceeds private sector equivalence. State legislatures that convene nearly year-round, passing literally hundreds of new laws and regulations annually. Elected officials leaving office only when someone has to scrape their festering corpses out of their chairs. We have allowed ourselves to become divided into the political class and the governed. Our politicians pass laws that don’t apply to themselves. They pass laws they openly state that they haven’t even read because to do so would require too much work. They pass 2,000-plus page monstrosities and tell the governed class that they had to do it "to find out what's in it."

And the governed class is not happy with any of this. True, many are dependent on those entitlements, but the rest of us understand who is responsible for paying for all of this, and we understand that no one in the political class is listening to us.

This is not a sustainable path, the political class seems unable or unwilling to recognize this fact, and as Ambrose Bierce observed, revolution is "an abrupt change in the form of misgovernment."

(P.S. - This post is an entry in the blog contest responding to the new book, New Threats to Freedom edited by Adam Bellow. The contest is open to all and further information can be found here. You don't think I could keep it this short for any other reason, do you?)

Even Teddy Knew, Peggy

The normally pollyannish Peggy Noonan doesn't check her own archives enough. Drudge links to her latest colum in the Wall St. Journal, America Is at Risk of Boiling Over. Excerpt:
It is, obviously, self-referential to quote yourself, but I do it to make a point. I wrote the following on New Year's day, 1994. America 16 years ago was a relatively content nation, though full of political sparks: 10 months later the Republicans would take the House for the first time in 40 years. But beneath all the action was, I thought, a coming unease. Something inside was telling us we were living through "not the placid dawn of a peaceful age but the illusory calm before stern storms."

The temperature in the world was very high. "At home certain trends—crime, cultural tension, some cultural Balkanization—will, we fear, continue; some will worsen. In my darker moments I have a bad hunch. The fraying of the bonds that keep us together, the strangeness and anomie of our popular culture, the increase in walled communities . . . the rising radicalism of the politically correct . . . the increased demand of all levels of government for the money of the people, the spotty success with which we are communicating to the young America's reason for being and founding beliefs, the growth of cities where English is becoming the second language . . . these things may well come together at some point in our lifetimes and produce something painful indeed.

--

The biggest political change in my lifetime is that Americans no longer assume that their children will have it better than they did. This is a huge break with the past, with assumptions and traditions that shaped us.
This echoes things others have said that I have quoted here. The perennial favorite from Rev. Donald Sensing from 2003:
I predict that the Bush administration will be seen by freedom-wishing Americans a generation or two hence as the hinge on the cell door locking up our freedom. When my children are my age, they will not be free in any recognizably traditional American meaning of the word. I’d tell them to emigrate, but there’s nowhere left to go. I am left with nauseating near-conviction that I am a member of the last generation in the history of the world that is minimally truly free.
Or this one from the GeekWithA.45 as he looked to relocate from the People's Democratic Republic of New Jersey that same year:
People are moving away from certain states: not because they've got a job offer, not because they want to be closer to family, but because the state they are living in doesn't measure up to the level of freedom they believe is appropriate for Americans. We are internal refugees.

The fact that things have gone so far south in some places that people actually feel compelled to move the fuck out should frighten the almighty piss out of you.

Ten or fifteen years ago, I would’ve dismissed that notion, that people were relocating themselves for freedom within America as the wild rantings of a fringe lunatic, but today, I’m looking for a real estate agent.

It is a symptom of a deep schism in the American scene, one that has been building bit by bit for at least fifty, and probably more like seventy years, and whose effects are now visibly bubbling to the surface.

Just open your eyes and take a long look around you.

If you’re an informed firearms enthusiast, you know how much has been lost since 1934.

Even if you lay aside gun rights issues, let me ask you some questions.

No, on second thought, let’s save the 50 questions for another posting, for now, lets just ask one:

When was the last time you built a bonfire on a beach, openly drank a beer and the presence of a policeman was absolutely no cause for concern? Hmmm?
Peggy refers to an earlier piece from 1994, but omits the one she wrote in October of 2005, A Separate Peace, from which I quoted at length some time after it hit print in my essay Tough History Coming, from which the title of this post is inspired. Instead of reprinting that piece, I'll just point you back at it. It's still valid.

And yes, Alan, pessimistic.

Quote of the Day - "Damned Straight" Edition

American movies used to be important because the stakes were so high. We were the last, best hope of earth. What happened here mattered to everyone. If the good guys lost in America, they lost everywhere. If they won, everyone had a fighting chance. The Left has sought to make us forget this about ourselves. They teach that it’s virtuous to believe this country is just one more in the list of nations. It’s not. History proves it never was. -- Andrew Klavan, City Journal, American Movies, Foreign Minds

Thursday, August 05, 2010

NCSTL.org

That's the "National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law" at the Stetson University College of Law from which I received a page view today from a link to my 2005 technical dissertation on "Ballistic Fingerprinting."

Damn, I'm a resource for the National Institute of Justice! Pretty cool. Very, very low traffic, but cool!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

I'm Not Much of a Shotgunner . . .

...but I need to try this:



You've gotta wonder how well a cheese Danish would fly. Six days old, I'd bet they "dust" pretty good, too!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Quote of the Day - ARFCOM Edition

Step 1: You're being oppressed (by the rich, by whitey, by corporations, etc)
Step 2: Give me power and I will fix this
Step 3: I haven't fixed it yet because you haven't given me enough power
By AR15.com member HarryStone.

Yeah, that's about it. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Monday, August 02, 2010

But What if Your Loyalty is to the Constitution?

Part (No pun intended.)

This is the third post with the same title I've written here at TSM. The first was in 2004, a reflection on a Steven Den Beste essay, The Civil War. Excerpt:
Steven Den Beste has a piece on "What prevents another Civil War?"

Steven has two answers: The first, sort of flippantly, the U.S. Army. The second, the fact that we as citizens no longer see our loyalty as being primarily toward our State but toward our Nation (unless you're a fringe leftist, in which case your loyalties are towards some nebulous "world government" currently represented by the corrupt UN.)

There's more to it than that, though. With the advent of easy high-speed travel, the State borders have no real meaning to us beyond what the tax rates look like, and the climate and scenery. State borders aren't just unimportant, they are largely meaningless (unless you're a Texan) to us in terms of loyalty.

But what happens when a large (but minority) portion of the population becomes convinced that the Federal government has abandoned the founding legal structure it supposedly "protects and defends?"
My answer at that time:
Our Constitutionally enumerated and protected individual rights are under constant legal assault under the aegis of the War on Crime, the War on Drugs, and the War on Terror, and all three branches of the government are complicit. The media - the unacknowledged Fourth Branch - largely is too.

What prevents another Civil War?

Thomas Jefferson predicted it long, long ago in his letter to William Smith concerning Shay's Rebellion of 1787:
And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it's motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always, well informed. The past which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive; if they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty.
And Jefferson was right, as we have seen. Jefferson continued, though:
We have had 13. states independant 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it's natural manure.
Seems that Jefferson counciled a bit of revolution from time to time.

Libertarian pundit Claire Wolfe wrote a while back, "America's at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." Claire had it wrong. The time to shoot the bastards is early on. Now it's too late.

What prevents another Civil War here isn't the Army or the fact that we hold a higher loyalty to our Nation than to our State of residence, it's ignorance and apathy.
The second piece by the same title came just last year, after the DHS released their report Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.

After listing off the groups that truly frighten those currently in power, I noted:
They missed the single biggest group out there: those of us who aren't anti-government, we just want our elected and appointed officials to do what they swear to do upon taking their offices: uphold and defend The Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic. As one ARFCOMmer put it:
This "homeland" shit that suddenly started up in the last couple years pisses me off. It reeks of the "fatherland" and "motherland" propaganda shit our enemies used throughout the 20th century. The Nazi regime was "father" to the German people. The Soviet regime was "mother" to the Russian people.


This guy is our uncle and that's as close as I want the fucker.

I don't need the government to be my big brother, my parent, my nanny, or my caretaker. It needs to maintain public services (roads, etc.), maintain foreign relations and the military, keep the states from squabbling, and stay the fuck out of my life.
This desire, apparently, makes us "antigovernment rightwing extremists."

So be it.
On May 11, National Review published an essay, The Constitution, at Last by Charles Kesler, a "professor of government at Claremont McKenna College" and Senior Fellow of the Claremont Institute. Excerpt:
Once upon a time, and not so long ago, American politics revolved around the Constitution. Until the New Deal, and in certain respects until the mid-1960s, almost every major U.S. political controversy involved, at its heart, a dispute over the interpretation of the Constitution and its principles. Both of the leading political parties eagerly took part in these debates, because the party system itself had been developed in the early 19th century to pit two contenders (occasionally more) against each other for the honor of being the more faithful guardian of the Constitution and Union. Even from today’s distance, it isn’t hard to recall the epic clashes that resulted: the disputes over the constitutionality of a national bank, internal improvements, the extension of slavery, the legality and propriety of secession, civil rights, the definition and limits of interstate commerce, liberty of contract, the constitutionality of the welfare state, the federal authority to desegregate schools, and many others.

What’s different today is that, although it still matters, the Constitution is no longer at the heart of our political debates. Today’s partisans compete to lead the country into a better, more hopeful future, to get the economy moving again, to solve our social problems, even to fundamentally transform the nation. But to live and govern in accordance with the Constitution is not the first item on anybody’s platform, though few would deny, after a moment’s surprise at the question, that of course keeping faith with the Constitution is on the program somewhere — maybe on page two or three.

--

For the most part, the Constitution’s diminishment was the work of modern liberalism, beginning in the progressive era and accelerating with the New Deal. Though the original Constitution has not disappeared entirely, it grows less and less relevant, or even legible, to our political class.
RTWT.

In the most recent issue of American Spectator, professor Angelo Codevilla authored his essay America's Ruling Class -- And the Perils of Revolution. Excerpt:
As over-leveraged investment houses began to fail in September 2008, the leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties, of major corporations, and opinion leaders stretching from the National Review magazine (and the Wall Street Journal) on the right to the Nation magazine on the left, agreed that spending some $700 billion to buy the investors' "toxic assets" was the only alternative to the U.S. economy's "systemic collapse." In this, President George W. Bush and his would-be Republican successor John McCain agreed with the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama. Many, if not most, people around them also agreed upon the eventual commitment of some 10 trillion nonexistent dollars in ways unprecedented in America. They explained neither the difference between the assets' nominal and real values, nor precisely why letting the market find the latter would collapse America. The public objected immediately, by margins of three or four to one.

When this majority discovered that virtually no one in a position of power in either party or with a national voice would take their objections seriously, that decisions about their money were being made in bipartisan backroom deals with interested parties, and that the laws on these matters were being voted by people who had not read them, the term "political class" came into use. Then, after those in power changed their plans from buying toxic assets to buying up equity in banks and major industries but refused to explain why, when they reasserted their right to decide ad hoc on these and so many other matters, supposing them to be beyond the general public's understanding, the American people started referring to those in and around government as the "ruling class." And in fact Republican and Democratic office holders and their retinues show a similar presumption to dominate and fewer differences in tastes, habits, opinions, and sources of income among one another than between both and the rest of the country. They think, look, and act as a class.

--

Our ruling class's agenda is power for itself. While it stakes its claim through intellectual-moral pretense, it holds power by one of the oldest and most prosaic of means: patronage and promises thereof. Like left-wing parties always and everywhere, it is a "machine," that is, based on providing tangible rewards to its members. Such parties often provide rank-and-file activists with modest livelihoods and enhance mightily the upper levels' wealth. Because this is so, whatever else such parties might accomplish, they must feed the machine by transferring money or jobs or privileges -- civic as well as economic -- to the party's clients, directly or indirectly. This, incidentally, is close to Aristotle's view of democracy. Hence our ruling class's standard approach to any and all matters, its solution to any and all problems, is to increase the power of the government -- meaning of those who run it, meaning themselves, to profit those who pay with political support for privileged jobs, contracts, etc. Hence more power for the ruling class has been our ruling class's solution not just for economic downturns and social ills but also for hurricanes and tornadoes, global cooling and global warming. A priori, one might wonder whether enriching and empowering individuals of a certain kind can make Americans kinder and gentler, much less control the weather. But there can be no doubt that such power and money makes Americans ever more dependent on those who wield it.

--

Laws and regulations nowadays are longer than ever because length is needed to specify how people will be treated unequally. For example, the health care bill of 2010 takes more than 2,700 pages to make sure not just that some states will be treated differently from others because their senators offered key political support, but more importantly to codify bargains between the government and various parts of the health care industry, state governments, and large employers about who would receive what benefits (e.g., public employee unions and auto workers) and who would pass what indirect taxes onto the general public. The financial regulation bill of 2010, far from setting univocal rules for the entire financial industry in few words, spends some 3,000 pages (at this writing) tilting the field exquisitely toward some and away from others. Even more significantly, these and other products of Democratic and Republican administrations and Congresses empower countless boards and commissions arbitrarily to protect some persons and companies, while ruining others. Thus in 2008 the Republican administration first bailed out Bear Stearns, then let Lehman Brothers sink in the ensuing panic, but then rescued Goldman Sachs by infusing cash into its principal debtor, AIG. Then, its Democratic successor used similarly naked discretionary power (and money appropriated for another purpose) to give major stakes in the auto industry to labor unions that support it. Nowadays, the members of our ruling class admit that they do not read the laws. They don't have to. Because modern laws are primarily grants of discretion, all anybody has to know about them is whom they empower.
There's plenty more and all worth your time, but on Friday, July 30, Investors Business Daily printed a very interesting op-ed by Ernest Christian and Gary Robbins. Christian was "a deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Ford administration," and Robbins "served at the Treasury Department in the Reagan administration."

The title of their piece was, Will Washington's Failures Lead to a Second American Revolution? Excerpt:
The Internet is a large-scale version of the "Committees of Correspondence" that led to the first American Revolution — and with Washington's failings now so obvious and awful, it may lead to another.

People are asking, "Is the government doing us more harm than good? Should we change what it does and the way it does it?"

Pruning the power of government begins with the imperial presidency.

Too many overreaching laws give the president too much discretion to make too many open-ended rules controlling too many aspects of our lives. There's no end to the harm an out-of-control president can do.

Bill Clinton lowered the culture, moral tone and strength of the nation — and left America vulnerable to attack. When it came, George W. Bush stood up for America, albeit sometimes clumsily.

Barack Obama, however, has pulled off the ultimate switcheroo: He's diminishing America from within — so far, successfully.

He may soon bankrupt us and replace our big merit-based capitalist economy with a small government-directed one of his own design.

He is undermining our constitutional traditions: The rule of law and our Anglo-Saxon concepts of private property hang in the balance. Obama may be the most "consequential" president ever.

The Wall Street Journal's steadfast Dorothy Rabinowitz wrote that Barack Obama is "an alien in the White House."
It goes on.

It would appear that ignorance and apathy are waning.

We've recently discovered that public-sector employees get better pay and benefits than equivalent private sector employees do. Reason.com predicts "war." It very nearly came to that recently in Bell, California.

I've just started reading a book, 46 Pages: Thomas Paine, Common Sense, and the Turning Point to Independence by Scott Liell. Excerpt:
It had already been an unbearably hot summer, and the first week of July brought no relief. On the floor of the Philadelphia State House the delegates to the second Continental Congress were engaged in an equally heated debate on the subject of a declaration they were in the process of creating. The unfinished declaration was far from universally endorsed by the congressional delegates. There were significant differences as to exactly what to declare, what to demand, and what to threaten should those demands not be met. They were, however, agreed almost to a man about one important point. What the Congress as a whole would not contemplate -- what they did not dare to declare, demand, or threaten -- was independence.

The year was 1775, and the document the delegates would ultimately agree to on July 6 was the Declaration of Causes and Necessity of Taking up Arms. The purpose of this declaration was to justify before the world their armed resistance to the British Parliament's attempt to enforce an absolute authority over the colonies. Close upon the heels of that primary objective, the document also showed a desire to define the limits of that resistance. The entire enterprise had been undertaken over the objections of a small but vocal minority in Congress, men such as John Adams who insisted that the time for such grovelling gestures had long since passed, but the climate in the colonies in the summer of 1775 was not right for such men or such ideas. The conciliatory declaration of July 6 was ultimately signed by all delegates, even Adams, as was a similarly styled petition directly to King George III ratified and signed two days later on July 8, 1775. This second document has come to be called the Olive Branch Petition, and that is what it truly was. Together, these documents represented a sincere if optimistic attempt by the second Continental Congress to lay out their grievances, describe the conditions that would have to precede the ultimate reconciliation they all expected and desired, and assure the crown of the still-strong bonds of affection and loyalty that would surely outlast these momentary quarrels.

--

In many ways these two documents offer an accurate snapshot of the second Continental Congress, and indeed of the colonial mood in general, one year before the Declaration of Independence. They reveal a people who increasingly believed that their way of life was under attack and that their traditional liberties were being eroded. At the same time, they felt that English law was on their side and even appealed to "their" constitution, the English constitution, to support that claim. The colonials saw the Parliament and the king's ministers as their enemies, not George III himself. And they believed that, if conflict could not be avoided, it would be a civil war between disaffect segments of the British Empire, not a war for independence. For all their anger and perceived ill treatment, they saw themselves as British citizens living abroad, not as American citizens struggling against a foreign oppressor.

How is it, then, that one year later that same Congress, composed of most of the same delegates and representing the same colonies, could find itself so utterly changed?
In short, one 46-page pamphlet - Common Sense, which hit the bookstands January 10, 1776.

A while back in an open letter to Bill Whittle, I implored him to author the modern version of Common Sense. In the comments he declined. He promised great things were coming, but not that.

Too bad.