Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

Monday, November 29, 2010

Well No WONDER He Didn't Read the Obamacare Bill!

Remember this?

It wasn't that he needed two days and two lawyers, it was because there weren't any pictures!

Srsly, dood?  Reading Looking at Playboy on a commercial flight?  At least Nancy has the, er, "decency" to fly private.  He needs to read Chapter IX of Despotism Made Easy. Of course, Conyers' wife is currently in prison, so perhaps the octogenarian needs a little "outside stimulus" that doesn't involve ten-digit dollar figures, but still...

Quote of the Day - Despotism Made Easy Edition

Nothing puts a damper on a reformer's day like a populace that will not embrace utopia. Of course, once dissenting voices are muzzled, the objections of the people will become more like white noise; an irritant but tolerable. But, and this is an important but, if the people are armed they can really play havoc with your agenda and legacy. Perhaps most disheartening to the reformer is the realization that armed resistance signifies that the people do not appreciate all you're trying to do for them.

History teaches that radically altering the social, political and economic order without first disarming the populace is untidy. Most citizens, given enough incentive, will get with the program, by why chance it. An accelerating program of firearm restriction, registration, taxation and confiscation will do much to ensure a smooth transition to a new era of social justice, equity, fraternity and solidarity.

Despotism Made Easy: A Self-Help Guide for the Aspiring Tyrant by Brad Lena, Chapter I: Disarm the People
H/t to Day by Day for the link. I wish I could say I thought it was funny, but it's uncomfortably close to the truth. Runner-up for QotD, same source,
At the end of the day remember that inmates of Communist slave labor camps in Siberia openly wept at the passing of Stalin so there will always be hope for your legacy if not actual change.
From Chapter X: Know When It's Time to Leave

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Quote of the Day - Tam Edition

You know, for the last hundred years there has been entirely too much Promoting of the General Welfare and Creating a More Perfect Union and way too damned little Securing of the Blessings of Liberty. - Tam, from Getting down to brass tacks...
Can I get an "AMEN!"?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Calling all Programmers!

Still no joy on migrating the old comments.  Something's going on, but whatever it is ain't right.  For example, I've imported the Echo export file to Disqus (with "unhandled exception" error) and I can see comments on the Disqus moderation page, but they don't link to the posts.  Case in point, the 573-Übercomment thread to My New Favorite Flag.  The link to that single post is http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2010/08/my-new-favorite-flag.html.  If I want to edit that post, the Post ID number is 8874806502897879244.  The link in Disqus for the comment thread to that post is "js-kit.com/api/static/pop_comments?ref=http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/&path=/8874806502897879244 comments".  Note the "path=" number matches the Post ID number.  That doesn't help, though, because when you go to the post itself, Disqus tells you there are 0 comments.

So this tells me that the post-December 2009 comments came through with something that identifies which post they should be linked to, it just isn't working.  The pre-December 2009 comments on the other hand?  I don't know.  Here's the code for the very first two JS-Kit comments from June 29, 2003 (left and right arrows replaced with {}):
{channel}
{title}smallestminority.blogspot.com comments{/title}
{link}http://smallestminority.blogspot.com{/link}
{atom:link rel="self" type="application/rss+xml" href="http://js-kit.com/rss/smallestminority.blogspot.com"}{/atom:link}
{jskit:attribute key="md5path" value="2ba805a528476df214be05f62ec3fe6e"}{/jskit:attribute}
{jskit:attribute key="path" value=""}{/jskit:attribute}
{description}RSS comments feed for smallestminority.blogspot.com{/description}
{generator}JS-Kit Bulk Site Exporter 0.8{/generator}
{lastBuildDate}Fri, 18 Dec 2009 21:16:10 +0000{/lastBuildDate}
{item}
{guid}jsid-1056907965-255840{/guid}
{pubDate}Sun, 29 Jun 2003 17:32:45 +0000{/pubDate}
{jskit:attribute key="IP" value="12.254.160.168"}{/jskit:attribute}
{author}Nate{/author}
{jskit:attribute key="Url" value="http://blogstudio.com/wastedelectrons.htm/index"}{/jskit:attribute}
{description}Yup. I may have to join you at Haloscan, my comments have been AWOL for almost a week now!{/description}
{jskit:attribute key="GravatarID" value="0fe77f30c5265ac50c01f76ba0de1052"}{/jskit:attribute}
{jskit:attribute key="sync_peer_3" value="31-255840"}{/jskit:attribute}
{jskit:attribute key="foreign" value="3"}{/jskit:attribute}
{/item}
{item}
{guid}jsid-1056851627-255839{/guid}
{pubDate}Sun, 29 Jun 2003 01:53:47 +0000{/pubDate}
{jskit:attribute key="IP" value="68.63.181.45"}{/jskit:attribute}
{author}Kevin Baker{/author}
{jskit:attribute key="Url" value="http://smallestminority.blogspot.com"}{/jskit:attribute}
{description}Testing, testing, testing...

Is this thing on?{/description}
{jskit:attribute key="GravatarID" value="6bac8ac442a85fa679bf5b7b52db5cd3"}{/jskit:attribute}
{jskit:attribute key="sync_peer_3" value="31-255839"}{/jskit:attribute}
{jskit:attribute key="foreign" value="3"}{/jskit:attribute}
{/item}
{/channel}
You'll note that the newest comment came first. The postID for that post is 105685175144057251, which you can see the start of under {guid}, but not the complete, correct number.  I have the same comments saved in a JS-Kit export from December just before the switch to Echo, and that code looks like this:
{?xml version="1.0" ?}
{comments}
    {thread id="105685175144057251"}
      {comment}
        {datetime}2003-06-29T02:53:47-05:00{/datetime}
        {name}Kevin Baker{/name}
        {email}gunrights@comcast.net{/email}
        {uri}http://smallestminority.blogspot.com{/uri}
        {ip}68.63.181.45{/ip}
        {text}{![CDATA[Testing, testing, testing...

Is this thing on?]]}{/text}
      {/comment}
      {comment}
        {datetime}2003-06-29T18:32:45-05:00{/datetime}
        {name}Nate{/name}
        {email}redacted{/email}
        {uri}http://blogstudio.com/wastedelectrons.htm/index{/uri}
        {ip}12.254.160.168{/ip}
        {text}{![CDATA[Yup. I may have to join you at Haloscan, my comments have been AWOL for almost a week now!]]}{/text}
      {/comment}
The postID is there.  Still no joy importing THOSE export files, either.

This is MADDENING.

Quote of the Day - Discord & Confusion Edition

Richard Epstein per Reason Magazine: "Epstein splits faculty appointments at the University of Chicago and New York University; he's also a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and a contributor to Reason. In books such as Forbidden Grounds: The Case Against Employment Discrimination Laws (1992) to Simple Rules for a Complex World (1995), and Skepticism and Freedom: A Modern Case for Classical Liberalism (2003), Epstein pushes his ideas and preconceptions to their limits and takes his readers along for the ride. A die-hard libertarian who believes the state should be limited and individual freedom expanded, he is nonetheless the consummate intellectual who first and foremost demands he offer up ironclad proofs for his characteristically counterintuitive insights into law and social theory."  As an example, they say, "His 1985 volume, Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain is a case in point. Epstein made the hugely controversial argument that regulations and other government actions such as environmental regulations that substantially limit the use of or decrease the value of property should be thought of as a form of eminent domain and thus strictly limited by the Constitution. The immediate result was a firestorm of outrage followed by an acknowledgment that the guy was onto something.
 
"As Epstein told Reason in a 1995 interview, 'I took some pride in the fact that [Sen.] Joe Biden (D-Del.) held a copy of Takings up to a hapless Clarence Thomas back in 1991 and said that anyone who believes what's in this book is certifiably unqualified to sit in on the Supreme Court. That's a compliment of sorts.... But I took even more pride in the fact that, during the Breyer hearings [in 199X], there were no such theatrics, even as the nominee was constantly questioned on whether he agreed with the Epstein position on deregulation as if that position could not be held by responsible people.'"

Now that we have Prof. Epstein's bona fides established, here is today's QotD from this Reason TV interview:
All the ingenuity of gimmicks fails...We have more debt, more unemployment, and less happiness in this country now because Hope & Change turns out to be Discord & Confusion.  And there's no way that you can stop that.  You cannot stop the blunders of one government program by putting another one on top of it.  That's what I learned in the Yale Law School.  You don't like what the minimum wage does, you create a welfare program.  You don't like what a welfare program does, you have a back-to-work program.  If you just got rid of the minimum wage, you'd get rid of three programs and you'd free up lots of economies, and what people have to understand is that Mies van der Rohe was essentially a political theorist when he said "Less is More."  You get more production out of fewer regulations, and one of the great tragedies of the modern stuff is that you spend all this time on monetary and fiscal policy, where regulatory policy taken in the round and taken in particular cases is every bit as important.
Yup.  That's got to make the Denizens of D.C. recoil in abject horror, screaming "Heresy!  Heresy!"

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Still Mucking with the Comments

I have to disable Disqus for a bit, and re-enable Echo.  Sorry about that.

What a PITA.

UPDATE:  Still no joy on the comment archive.  Dammit.

Quote of the Day - Conflict of Visions Edition

From Stop Shouting!, My Rebuttal to a Progressive who Admonished Me to Play Nice ....
Realizing that you are losing your grip on the public schools, that the youth that propelled the boy-king to victory have abandoned you, that the bitter, blue collar white workers are now Tea Party grandmas and grandpas, that you have lost control of the federal checkbook and the legislative calendar,

now you want to petition for peace?

now you cry out for civility and consensus?

I have a message for you:

Go. To. Hell.
You GO girl! The pendulum has stopped its swing, and is now going back the other way. Our job: keep it from going too far.

Monday, November 22, 2010

"Inspiring" Doesn't Quite Cover It

Amazing doesn't either.

Cowboy Blob posts a YouTube video of a double-amputee shooting a 1911 with his feet, then dropping the magazine and reloading it.

America.  Fvck Yeah!

Comments Kinda Screwed Up for a Bit

I'm running an experiment.  Hopefully.  Still having problems getting the archive comments to link to their proper posts.  Something is screwed up somewhere. All the archived quotes are there, but they're dated 100 years before they were actually written.  (Oldest is dated 1903, newest, 1910.)  At any rate, they aren't linking to their posts.  I had to re-install Echo, which conflicts with DISQUS at least on the main page, to run the experiment.  I have no way to know if it's actually doing anything, though.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Well, THAT Isn't Any Better

I'm modifying the template to make TSM look more like it used to. However, the overall width of the damned thing seems to be fixed. Gotta look into that...

UPDATED: Ok, how's THIS?

UPDATE II, 10:08PM MST 11/21/10: I'm leaving it like this for a while. Comments seem to be functional, but I still have had no success in importing the archives. Dammit. I may contract out for Robb Allen or someone to rewrite the blog template, but I REALLY WANT MY COMMENTS BACK!

UPDATE III, 11/22: Comment importation has begun. We'll see how it works out. Chris Byrne said it can take well over a day for the import to complete. I can believe that, but I'm seeing comments from as far back as 2003 now, and that gives me hope.

I LOL'd. I Still Am.

You've GOT to see these ads over at Skippy's List. I don't drink, but I'd consider buying a fifth of their rum if I did.

Hat tip to Firehand for the pointer.

Oh, and don't miss the follow-on.

Quote of the Day - Mencius Moldbug Edition

The perfect leftist is the fanatical hypocrite. While his beliefs correspond precisely to his own advantage, he believes in them furiously just the same. His opportunism does not even slightly detract from his sincerity, which is palpable and enormous. Indeed, if the situation changes and so do his interests, his mind will change as well. And change sincerely.

Alas, this character is easier to describe than find. In the day of Gladstone, liberalism was young and crazy and full of juice. Today? The movement exudes the overwhelming odor of fatigue. It remains both fanatical and hypocritical - but not in one person. Its fanatics, who could be broadly described as the amateur left, are devoid of any tactical cunning. And its hypocrites, who despite Robert Gibbs constitute the professional left, are as passionless as an eggplant.

They try to care. They moan, they gasp, they writhe. But their eyes are dead, whore eyes. Now that we've seen it in the White House, we'd know it anywhere. You have to be an awfully blind fanatic not to see what you're looking at. Can the amateur left, the audience, the chumps who buy the magazines, find a professional leftist who actually cares about his ideals? They'll need a much brighter lantern than it took to find B.H. Obama.

In 2010, there is nothing fresh about the revolution industry. The idealistic professional leftist is the exact counterpart of the romantic porn star - a human impossibility.

Unqualified Reservations - The Lightworker wants to touch your junk
Found via Daphne. Read the whole thing.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

OK, What Do All Y'all Think?

If you want to comment, you may have to click on the post title to bring up that post alone.  The 'comment' function seems to be a bit hit-or-miss.  Still no joy on importing the comment archives.  I am NOT HAPPY about this, but the updated template has a lot more features (and a lot less real-estate for blog posts.  480 pixel maximum width for pictures?  That sucks.)  The archive feature is a lot better, IMHO.  I still need to add the "Best Posts" to the sidebar, but that promises to be tedious as hell, and I will save it for another day.

Tighten Your Safety Belts, We're Going In!

It's time to dump Echo. This means "upgrading" the blog to a new template, then exporting Echo comments to Blogsnot, and then exporting them from Blogsnot to Disqus, I think. This may take a while. Hopefully you don't get a 404 Error while I'm attempting this.

UPDATE:  What a PITA.  This is going to take a while.  Bear with me.

UPDATE II: Echo comments do not appear to be even trying to migrate. HEEEELLLPPP!!!!

Range Report: Fiocchi Primer Test

A while back (quite a while back) the folks at LuckyGunner.com asked me if I'd be interested in testing some large rifle primers by Fiocchi. They were willing to send me a sleeve if I would try them out and report on them - good, bad, or indifferent. I said I'd be happy to, but it would be some time before I'd get a chance to actually use them. I told them I would try them out in my Remington 700 5R with my pet load.

Well, that time finally came.

The Fiocchi primers are sold in sleeves of 1,500 rather than the industry standard 1,000.
You get ten packs of 150 rather than 100. The packaging is compact and fairly handy.


At the time of this writing, the Large Rifle primers go for $41/1,500, or 2.73¢ per primer, not including shipping and HazMat fees. By contrast, the CCI BR-2 Benchrest primers I normally use are $50/1000, or 5¢ each not including tax, purchased locally.

To prepare for this test, I decided I wanted everything as identical as possible. I had some Black Hills brass that had originally been the red box (new rather than remanufactured) 168 grain moly-coated match loads. I had reloaded this brass once with 175 grain Sierra Match Kings, so this would be the third time this brass had been loaded. I decapped and trimmed all forty cases to 1.950," chamfered the inside and outside of the case mouths, and then ran them in my tumbler to make sure they were shiny clean. Afterward, I ran them all through my RCBS small-base X-die to resize them.

These had been fired through the 5R before. I could tell because they all fit into my case gauge already, albeit just a little tightly. After sizing, they fall in and out with ease, and have just a tiny bit of wiggle-room at the case head end. This is what I have to do to get my reloads to feed in my M25 gas gun. In addition to testing the Fiocchi primers, I wanted to see what the small-base sizer does to accuracy in the 5R as opposed to neck-sizing only, which is what I normally do when reloading for my bolt-guns.

After decapping, trimming, chamfering, and resizing the brass, I sat down and hand-primed twenty cases with CCI BR-2's, and twenty cases with Fiocchi Large Rifle NIK primers using my Lee Auto-Prime. The all seated firmly and consistently, so dimensionally the Fiocchi primers are very uniform. Then, using my modified RCBS ChargeMaster (my technique with that particular device has been thoroughly revised since that post), I threw forty identical 46.4 (± 0.05) grain loads of Alliant Reloder-15 powder (Caution: use load data you find on strange web sites at your own risk!), and seated forty Lapua 155 grain Scenar hollow-point boattail bullets to a cartridge overall length of 2.80" using my Dillon RL-450 press and an RCBS seating die.

(Note to whom it may concern: The only thing I've been given in this entire review is 1,500 Fiocchi primers donated by LuckyGunner.com. Everything else I mention in this post, I bought.)

Anyway, now that I had forty rounds of .308 that differ only in the primer used to light them off, it was RANGE TIME! I swapped out the Leupold scope for the Nightforce I bought awhile back, and I've had to play with it to get the right eye relief, but I think I've got it now. Still, I had to make sure the scope was on target, so I sat down and put my last eight rounds of Black Hills 175 grain through the rifle at 100 yards. Here's that group:
The low-center hole is the cold-bore shot.  Even including it, that's a hair over an inch, center-to-center, and about what I've come to expect out of that ammo. Next I ran ten rounds of each test load over the chronograph, with a cooling off period between. Here's the data:

CCI BR-2 Load
Average Velocity: 2876fps
Extreme Spread: 58.40fps
Standard Deviation: 16.52fps

Fiocchi Load
Average Velocity: 2917fps
Extreme Spread: 42.96fps
Standard Deviation: 14.83fps

Now, I've gotten this particular load under 10fps Sd using neck-sized Lapua cases, but those are still damned good numbers. Obviously, the Fiocchi is a hair hotter than the BR-2, but it's every bit, if not more consistent.

How was accuracy, you ask? Here's the BR-2 load:
If you can't read it, that's 0.65MOA at 200 yards for ten shots.

Here's the Fiocchi:
If you throw out that one far-right shot, the group is easily under 1MOA. Both of these loads ran a bit hotter than I'm used to seeing. Normally that load gives me right at 2800fps, not 2880+, and that seems to be right where the rifle/bullet combination works best. I will blame the difference on the Black Hills cases, sized in the small-base sizer. UPDATE: Nope, I checked my records, and 2880 is normal. Case capacity is probably reduced compared to the Lapua cases. I still think I need to re-run the test with Lapua cases but the purpose of this test has been met: the Fiocchi Large Rifle primer is damned good, and a real value compared to CCI's Benchrest offering. I'm glad I have a whole lot more of them to experiment with. Thanks to LuckyGunner.com for the chance to try them out!

Quote of the Day - We're Not Voting Our Way Out Edition


The GOP once again demonstrates that they are simply the other wing of the federal bird of prey.

-- Mike Vanderboegh, Explain to me why this passed UNANIMOUSLY?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Another Excuse for Not Blogging

This is my current book queue:
(Click for full size)

I'm a bit over halfway through Sowell's Intellectuals and Society at the moment, and I just finished reading John Ringo's Live Free or Die (recommended, BTW) and Stephen Hunter's I, Sniper. That stack on the right is books I've already read. Those are all novels, mostly SciFi. Hardbacks go in a different pile. I read probably three or four novels to each non-fiction book. I had planned on slogging through those pretty much in the order they're stacked (not including books I pick up in the mean time), but after reading Tam's review of The Gun, I'll probably start on it as soon as I've finished Intellectuals.

I swear, sometimes I think my house is just a repository of horizontal surfaces on which I stack books.

Engineer Joke

This came out of a seminar at work today on the importance of specifications. Supposedly it's a true story from a few years ago. (And if I have to explain it to you, you're not an engineer and it won't be funny to you anyway.)
A note found on a Drawing at an Advanced Micro Devices semiconductor fabrication facility in Austin, Texas:
"3. Furnish and Install per MIL-TFD-1111."
The contractor filed a Request for Information:
"We find no MIL-TFD-1111 specification. Please provide."
The engineer replied to the RFI:
"MIL-TFD-1111: Make It Like The Friggin' Drawing For Once."

Quote of the Day - Margaret Thatcher Edition

We must not focus our attention exclusively on the material, because though important, it is not the main issue. The economic success of the Western world is a product of its moral philosophy and practice. The economic results are better because the moral philosophy is superior. It is superior because it starts with the individual. -- Margaret Thatcher

Quoted from Claire Berlinski’s There Is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters from NRO’s Uncommon Knowledge interview of Berlinski
See also yesterday's QotD.

National Ammo Day

Today is National Ammo Day (happy birthday, Kim!)
I'm not buying ammo this year, but I am loading it. Here's the result of the last couple of evenings at the press:
That's about 500 rounds of 200 grain hollowpoint .45ACP in a .30 cal ammo can. There's room for about another hundred, and I've got the components for a total of 600 more. I need to find another empty can someplace.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

That's 'Cause We Ain't Played Cowboys & Aliens Yet

Oh HELL yes. Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford:
YEEEEEE HAW! (Click on the picture for the trailer. Summer 2011.)

PSA - Wear Your Damned Seat Belt

Quote of the Day - Culture Edition

Really, there is no excuse for this kind of poverty. It's an attitude, an acceptance, an ignorance that there is something better. Americans wouldn't leave things this way. We'd figure out a way to make things better, even if it were through pure brutal labour. This is undeniable- even if you hate us, you know it's true. But somebody will be angry that I made the comparison. They won't be able to say exactly why they're angry, but they will be. Because it's racist somehow.

The wealth of my people is our culture. The things we have are a side effect.


-- The Bastidge, The Wealth of My People
RTWT

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Loading, not Blogging

Sorry about the light posting, but I really am loading ammo. Not (necessarily) for the Zombocalypse, but because I'm low on several calibers, most especially .45ACP. I'm down to maybe a hundred of my competition load, 150 defense (200 grain Gold Dot), and 200 factory hardball rounds. I loaded 250 .38 Supers on Monday, tonight I'm planning on cranking out 200 .45 target loads, and I'm going to try to do 200 a night until I've used up the thousand 200 grain Rainier Ballistics hollowpoints I've got. Next comes .223. I'm down to maybe 200 of those, but I have enough components for another thousand.

I'll be busy for several days, but I will be posting, just not as much. Oh, and this weekend, I get to tackle reformatting the blog and migrating comments. Oh boy!

Oh, plus a trip to the range. I've got some load testing to do.

Quote of the Day - Unconstrained Vision Edition

(H)ow I see the Right is that the Right is connected to Jeffersonianism and Jacksonian principles. In other words, limited government intervention, freedom and libertarianism. The Left wants the far Right to be known as some kind of Hitler or Mussolini, and unfortunately they're wrong, or FORTUNATELY they're wrong, because that kind of right is on the Left, that's why Hitler and the rest of them were known as National Socialists. Look, yes, I mean if you're on the Right and we understand the Right, you believe in individual freedom, limited government intervention and basically a free society. Now the Left is attracted to totalitarianism because you see the Left wants to build a perfect planet on this Earth. They want perfectibility in human beings and human institutions, ultimately. They want to build a utopia. So in order to build their paradise there needs to be a transformation. Now that transformation necessitates changing and molding the human being from what and who he is, and therefore necessitates destruction. And that's why every Leftist experiment, every socialist experiment has led to that kind of bloodshed, from the Soviet Union to Mao's China, Viet Nam, Castro's Cuba, the Sandinista's Nicaragua, you name it. So, to make a long story short, because the Left wants that kind of destruction, to build a new paradise on the ashes of the old Earth, they support - it makes complete sense who perpetrates Ground Zero: radical Islam. So you've got the Jihadis trying to build Sharia paradise, you've got the Left trying to build classless utopia, so therefore they are united in hate.

-- Dr. Jamie Glasov, NRO's Between the Covers interview for his book United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blog Changes Coming

Dammit. It looks like I'm going to have to change the template here at TSM. Chris Byrne has found a way to migrate comments off of Echo, but it requires a template change. I've also noticed that my archives in this current template are, shall we say, not complete. All the posts still exist, just you can't get to some of them through the archive function. Hopefully a template change will fix that, too. Maybe.

Anyway, I'm going to hold off until this weekend to attempt the change. Don't be surprised if there's nothing but a black hole here on Monday.

Quote of the Day - Politics Edition

The Obama camp ran their campaign in such a way that they won the election by dooming the presidency. Of course there is nothing new in politicians promising more than they can deliver. But Obama committed this political sin on such a gargantuan scale that it ought to be named after him. -- Timothy Dalrymple, The Wages of Sin

Monday, November 15, 2010

Not Only No, but HELL No!

There's a business opportunity out there for some bright coder as of right now.

Many of you (yes, you, U-J, among others) have been complaining about my comment system. I started off with JS-Kit's HaloScan free service back in 2003, and last December JS-Kit transitioned to Echo. Shortly after I started with HaloScan, I started paying JS-Kit a bit of money annually to allow looooong comments, which my readers over the years have often taken advantage of. When the switch to Echo occurred, paying was no longer an option, it was mandatory, but it cost only $9.95 for the "upgrade," which included comment threading, and. . . and. . . I'm not sure what else.

But now, via Anarchangel, I discover that beginning December 18 my renewal isn't $9.95 a year, it's $10 a month.

Sorry, Echo, but NFW. I'm not paying $120 a year for what you're providing.

I've gotten well over 40,000 comments in the last seven-plus years. I don't know exactly because I can't seem to find anywhere on Echo that will tell me. I can export my comments, but not into any format that will handily import into any other system that I'm aware of. Chris puts it this way:
So, I start investigating how to get rid of Echo comments... not so good... Apparently, nobodies comment service will import the XML file Echo exports to. The only way to migrate to another system without losing comments, is to resync back to blogger comments, then migrate from blogger.

In theory, Echo comments should be automatically synced to blogger comments... except they aren't.

In theory, this is because I'm using a legacy .css template for my blog, rather than the "new" blogger "advanced layout" templates (well... not "new" four years old now).

In theory, "upgrading" my template to a blogger advanced layout template will allow Echo to resync comments with blogger. Once that happens, then I should be able to add Disqus, or Intense Debate... or for that matter just migrate the whole damn blog (which I may do, to wordpress).
I'll be honest: I have no desire to relocate TSM to another format. I'm actually pretty happy with Blogsnot, though I, too, am running a legacy template.

I've exported my comments to this date at this time. Right now the download tells me that I've received, let's see, 46.2Mb of a 13.2Mb file. And it's still counting.

It should be interesting to see what I end up with.

56.2Mb, and it's done. The oldest date in the file that I can find is June 1, 2010. Somehow I don't think I got everything.

This is my surprised face.

Here's the opportunity: Some bright-eyed, bushy-tailed programmer could get paid some good dough if he/she/it can write some code that will take my comments from Echo and convert them into a format that is importable to some other commenting system, carrying along with them the links to the appropriate posts. (Are you listening, Robb Allen?) I'd be willing to pay money for this service - on a one-time basis. I don't want to lose seven years and 40,000+ comments, but I WILL NOT pay Echo $120 a year. Period.

HEEEEELLLLLPPPP!

Your Moment of Zen

Time for another:

As always, click for full-size.

Cool!

Back in September, Midway USA offered discount codes to bloggers attending the Gun Blogger Rendezvous that we could post on our sites for our readers to use. These discounts garnered 10% savings for any order of $100 or more. I just checked in with Colin Anthony, the marketing specialist for Midway, and he informs me that 45 readers of TSM took advantage, and that 17 of you were new customers. I hope your experience with Midway was as good as mine have been. And thanks for reading!

I wish they were still active. I need to order some stuff!

Quote of the Day

From Brian Micklethwaite at Samizdata from his post Assuming that everyone is like me:
In what way does my sometimes vehement libertarianism result from assumptions that I make about others mostly being like me? What do libertarians generally assume to be true of people generally, which actually isn't?
The first comment, by "Falco:"
With profound regret: That they want to be free.

Zombies!

I live in NW Tucson, but outside the city limits. The area has been annexed by the town of Marana, but apparently I'm just outside that, too. Still, this news is worrisome:


A digital road sign in Marana was reprogrammed over the weekend to warn drivers of undead corpses.

Someone without a dictionary tampered with a road sign on West Camino de Mañana, which is now West Twin Peaks Road, and issued this message to motorists: "Caaution Zombies Ahead!"

Area resident Dan Wolters first noticed the warning around 8 a.m. Sunday.
I need to load ammo! The zombie apocalypse is upon us!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Match Report: Copper, Lead and Wood Chips

Today we held our seventh monthly bowling pin match at Tucson Rifle Club. Fourteen people (besides myself) came to shoot, and eight of them brought a .22 along with their centerfire pistols. We changed the match format for this month. Instead of shooting qualifying times and then a handicapped best-of-three double-elimination tournament, everybody shot against everybody else once (except where I screwed up the scoring and had some people shoot against each other twice). Oh, and there were two ties that required reshoots.

We started the match at about 8:30, and went non-stop until about 1:30. That's a lot of shooting, ladies and gentlemen. (Hint: it shouldn't take that long! ;-)

So here are the scores, .22 Rimfire first:
Travis Higgins, Ruger MkIII: 7 wins (undefeated)
Elaine Tab, S&W Model 41: 5 wins
Cliff Reed, Kimber: 4 wins
Bill Tab, S&W Model 41: 3 wins
David Carr, Ruger MkIII: 3 wins
John Higgins, EAA Witness: 3 wins
Froilan Gutierrez, Ruger MkIII: 3 wins
Kyle Blecker, suppressed ?: 0 wins
Kyle had a lot of ammo trouble, but his gun sure was quiet!

Centerfire:
Kevin Baker, Kimber Classic, .45ACP: 14 wins (undefeated)
John Higgins, EAA Witness, 9mm: 12 wins
Clifford Reed, Norinco 1911, .45ACP: 10 wins
Jim Walters, EAA Witness, 9mm: 9 wins
Ken Cabrera, Sig 220, .45ACP: 9 wins
Jim Burnett, Clark Custom 1911, 45ACP: 8 wins
Bill Tab, Kimber Classic Target, .45ACP: 8 wins
Travis Higgins, Browning Hi-Power, 9mm: 7 wins
Rick Lavaty, 1911 (unknown), .45ACP: 6 wins
Joe Lancaster, Beretta 92, 9mm: 6 wins
Skip Blecker, Glock, 9mm: 4 wins
Larry Boykin, Rock Island 1911, 9mm: 4 wins
Elaine Tab, Kimber Classic Target, .45ACP: 3 wins
Froilan Gutierrez, Colt 1911 custom, .45ACP: 3 wins
Kyle Blecker, Glock 9mm: 2 wins
If you do the math, that's 28 rimfire matches and 105 centerfire matches for a total of 133 matches in five hours, or about one match every 2¼ minutes. We were busy.

I'd also like to say that this is the first match out of the seven we've held that I've won. Yeaaaa me!

Rick Lavaty won the prize drawing and at least got his gas money back, all $23 worth. Bill and Elaine Tab shared one .45 and one .22, and had to borrow guns to shoot against each other. Bill said he and Elaine went through about $200 worth of ammo for this one match, but it was better than "blowing it at the casino!" I can agree with that!

My tables are all shot up again, so it's time to rebuild them. Thanks to those who donated to the table fund! And thanks to everyone who helped set up, set pins, run the match, and especially tear down at the end! Special thanks to those of you who helped saw off pin tops for the .22 matches. That's a lot of work to do with your strong hand during a match.

Next month we're staying with the same format, but with one change - minor calibers will compete against minors, majors against majors, and the winners from each will compete against each other, best two-out-of-three for the title. That ought to cut down a bit on the round count and get us done a bit earlier. Plus, the match will start at 9:00AM instead of 8:00.

Sunday, December 12. Put it on your calendars!

Friday, November 12, 2010

If You Write for the Alt SF Weekly. . .

. . . does that mean you're a conservative?

I strongly recommend to you a two week old SF Weekly story, Let It Bleed, that begins like this:
"Infinite" is not a word you expect to find in a report on municipal spending. It's more of a science fiction–type term — Tremble, Earthling, before the infinite might of Galaxor! But there it was, in a recent report on San Francisco's finances: Spending on the city's employee retirement system in the past decade had grown at an "infinite" rate.

Naturally, that's an exaggeration. If you do the math, the city's retirement costs for employees in the past 10 years actually grew only 66,733 percent.

Still, you might call that a Galaxor-sized number.

In fiscal year 1999-2000, the city spent about $300,000 on its retirement system. In fiscal year 2009-10, it was $200.5 million. Benefits alone — not salaries, just benefits — for current and retired employees this year are budgeted at $993 million. Spending on retirees' health care and pensions is conservatively projected to triple within five years.

And after that? Infinite.
Oh, and this:
San Francisco has known about this looming crisis for a decade — and gone out of its way to make things worse.

In fact, on those few occasions when somebody has tried to do something about it, city government has worked with unions to successfully sabotage those efforts. San Francisco may not be in as deep a hole as many cities, but it's shoveling a lot harder.
Go. Read. And ask yourself how many other cities are in a similar bind, and what they're going to do about it.

Tough history coming, indeed.

Politically Incorrect Commercial

British, obviously, since the driver is on the wrong side of the car, but still...

It's better than that damned Audi "Green Police" ad.

The VW ad is an old one, but there are still a lot of people who've never seen it.

The Narrative

The first Stephen Hunter book I ever read was The Master Sniper, picked up at a library book sale many, many years ago. It was obvious to me then that the author was not one of those for whom a firearm is a magic talisman or an incomprehensible piece of technology. This guy understood guns. Yes, he exaggerated and embellished, but you had to know firearms to know that. At least nothing he wrote in that novel made me want to whack my forehead against a wall.

Later, I found more of his books, and discovered that his day job was as a film critic for The Washington Post, where he won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003. In his spare time, he cranked out novels, novels that always included firearms as minor, sometimes major, plot devices. Novels where the gun-handling wasn't unbelievable because it was wrong, it was just sometimes unbelievable because nobody's that perfect. Hunter's book Point of Impact was made into the movie Shooter in 2007. He retired from the WaPo in 2008.

A coincidence, I'm sure.

I've liked everything I've read that Hunter has written, and that includes his "homage" to the Tom Cruise film The Last Samurai, The 47th Samurai, which some people just didn't care for.

I'm currently reading his latest paperback, I, Sniper, which is living up to my expectations, but I want to relate one interesting passage. Remember, Hunter spent more than 37 years working for big-city newspapers, one of the few people in those organizations not fully a member of the media zeitgeist.

Stephen Hunter on "The Narrative:"
You do not fight the narrative. The narrative will destroy you. The narrative is all-powerful. The narrative rules. It rules us, it rules Washington, it rules everything.
--
The narrative is the set of assumptions the press believes in, possibly without even knowing that it believes in them. It's so powerful because it's unconscious. It's not like they get together every morning and decide "These are the lies we will tell today." No, that would be too crude and honest. Rather, it's a set of casual, nonrigorous assumptions about a reality they've never really experienced that's arranged in such a way as to reinforce their best and most ideal presumptions about themselves and their importance to the system and the way they've chosen to live their lives. It's a way of arranging things a certain way that they all believe in without ever really addressing carefully. It permeates their whole culture. They know, for example, that Bush is a moron and Obama is a saint. They know communism was a phony threat cooked up by right-wing cranks as a way to leverage power to the executive. They know that Saddam didn't have weapons of mass destruction, the response to Katrina was fucked up.... Cheney's a devil. Biden's a genius. Soft power good, hard power bad. Forgiveness excellent, punishment counterproductive, capital punishment a sin.
--
And the narrative is the bedrock of their culture, the keystone of their faith, the altar of their church. They don't even know they're true believers, because in theory they despise the true believer in anything. But they will absolutely de-frackin'-stroy anybody who makes them question that....

I, Sniper, pp. 231-232
I refer you now to The Church of the MSM and the New Reformation from January, 2008.

Hunter's next novel, Dead Zero comes out in hardcover in December. Oh, and Hunter doesn't take himself too seriously, either.

Monday, November 08, 2010

My Response to James Kelly

...which is seriously overdue, provided by Bill Whittle:

Bill is, as always, so very much more eloquent than I.

And brief.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

From Friday's "Learned Feudalism"

Madison said rights pre-exist government. Wilson said government exists to dispense whatever agenda of rights suits its fancy, and to annihilate, regulate or attenuate or dilute those others. Madison said the rights we are owed are those that are necessary for the individual pursuit of happiness. Wilson and the progressives said the rights you deserve are those that will deliver material happiness to you and spare you the strain and terror of striving.
From today, Barry Rubin's It’s How You Play the Game: The Fate of Western Civilization and Grade-School Soccer:
My son is playing on a local soccer team which has lost every one of its games, often by humiliating scores. The coach is a nice guy, but seems an archetype of contemporary thinking: he tells the kids not to care about whether they win, puts players at any positions they want, and doesn't listen to their suggestions.

He never criticizes a player or suggests how a player could do better. My son, bless him, once remarked to me: "How are you going to play better if nobody tells you what you're doing wrong?" The coach just tells them how well they are playing. Even after an 8-0 defeat, he told them they'd played a great game.

And of course, the league gives trophies to everyone, whether their team finishes in first or last place.

I'd even seen an American television documentary about boys and sports which justified this approach, explaining that coaches were doing something terrible by deriding failure, urging competitiveness, and demanding victory. So were the kids really happier to be "relieved" of the strain of trying to win, "liberated" from feeling bad at the inequality of athletic talent?
As George Will said, "the agenda is constant." But RTWT. It won't surprise the Madisonians. The Wilsonians will ignore it.

Bowlin Pin Shoot - Tucson, Sunday November 14

Tucson Rifle Club action range. Registration begins at 8:00 AM. Sign in at the range office, but if all you're going to do is shoot the match, you don't need to pay the daily use range fee - it's part of the match entry fee for non-members. $10 for the first gun, $5 each for additional guns. First round downrange (hopefully) by about 8:30.

This one's going to be a little different.

Centerfire and .22 rimfire will be run as separate classes, other than that, it's everybody against everybody.

Smallest centerfire allowed: .38 Special. Hollowpoint and flat-point bullets work better at carrying pins off the tables than round-nose or FMJ bullets do, regardless of caliber.

If you show up, you'll be paired off against all other shooters for one (1) man-on-man competition each. Bring enough ammo. Attendance has been running in the 12-15 shooter range, If you shoot against 12 other people and only five rounds per match, that's 60 rounds.

Most people take more than five shots.

A LOT more.

Even if you lose the match, you get to keep shooting until you've cleared your table. Consider it practice for the next round.

Whoever wins the most tables will be declared victor of the day. Your only prize: the accolades of your peers.

Everyone who hangs around until the end of the match will be put in for the drawing. $1 of each entry goes into a pot. A drawing from the names of those present will be taken, and the winner gets the whole pot. It's been running about $20, so you get your entry fee back, and a little gas money.

See you next Sunday!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Back from the Range

Man, I'm beat. I got up at 4:00AM this morning, partly because the better-half decided that this would be a good weekend to have a yard sale, and I had to move my truck out of the driveway so she could set up. I didn't leave until about a quarter after six, since I had to help, but I got to the range about 7:15 and Exurban Kevin was right behind me. My new cart was one of the best purchases I've made recently. It really helped in getting all of the stuff from my truck to the shooting benches and then downrange and back again.

A total of about twelve people showed up, mostly from AR15.com, but besides us the range was PACKED. One group showed up with some full-auto fun and a single-shot .50BMG, about half of the rest of the crowd had EBRs of one flavor or another. My steel took quite a beating. I managed to break a weld on the one I hung up at 100 yards, but the other weld held so we kept shooting at it. Now my ammo stocks are low again and I need to do some serious reloading. Thankfully the component drought has ended and I have a pretty good supply on hand so that I can.

Thanks again to Exurban Kevin for the idea, and we'll have to do this again next year. (Pictures to follow - though not many, I was busy shooting - when I get a chance to download them.)

Off to the Range!

I'm almost finished packing up the truck for the hour-long drive to the range. Hope to see you there!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Learned Feudalism

On May 13, George Will delivered the keynote speech at the Cato Institute's biennial Milton Friedman Prize dinner. You can listen to the podcast, or if you prefer, I've cleaned up the voice-recognition transcript that was, to put it mildly, "not 100% accurate" below. It's a good speech, and after Tuesday, it's even more relevant:
Someone once said that the Chicago Cubs are to the World Series as the Tenth Amendment is to constitutional law: of rare and inconsequential appearance. Thank you Ed for that generous introduction that proves that not all forms of inflation are painful. It put me in mind of the Renaissance Pope who used to travel about Rome being greeted by crowds with cries of the "Deus Est, Deus Est" - "Thou art God, Thou art God." The Pope said "It's a trifle strong, but really very pleasant."

I want to thank all of the people in this room for making Cato and its work possible. And I want to thank a few million more people who in recent weeks have toiled to demonstrate in a timely manner why Cato is necessary - I refer of course to the people of Greece.

Milton Friedman, whose name we honor tonight, was honored often for his recondite and subtle scholarship. But it was complemented by a sturdy common sense much in fashion nowhere now. About forty years ago he found himself in an Asian country where the government was extremely eager to show off a public works project which was inordinately and excessively fond – it was digging a canal. They took Milton out to see this, and he was astonished because there were hordes of workers, but no heavy earth moving equipment. And he remarked upon this to his government guide, and the man said "Mr. Friedman, you don't understand this is a jobs program. That's why we only have men with shovels.” To which Friedman said, "Well, if it's a jobs program why don't they have spoons instead of shovels?"

The attempt to educate the world to the principles of rationality and liberty never ends. It began in earnest for a lot of us in 1962 with the publication of Capitalism and Freedom. In 1964, two years later, we got a demonstration of how urgent it was to have that book when Lyndon Johnson, campaigning for president said, "We're in favor of a lot of things and we're against mighty few."

Well the man running against him at that time, 1964, was of course Barry Goldwater, who, to the superficial observer, seemed to lose because he only carried 44 states. When the final votes were tabulated sixteen years later however, it was clear that he had won. However it was a contingent victory. In 2007 per capita welfare state spending - per capita welfare state spending, adjusted for inflation - was 70% higher than it had been when Ronald Reagan was inaugurated 27 years earlier.

The trend continues and the trend is ominous.

Fifty-one days ago now, the President signed into law the Health Care Reform, the great lunge to complete the new deal project, and the Great Society project. The great lunge to make us more European. At exactly the moment that this is done the European Ponzi scheme of the social welfare state is being revealed for what it is. There's a difference. We are not Europeans, we are not in Orwell's phrase "a state-broken people." We do not have a feudal background of subservience to the State. No, that is the project of the current administration. It can be boiled down to "Learned feudalism."

It is a dependency agenda that I have been talking about ad nauseam. Two recent examples. When the government took over student loans, making that the case that now the two most important financial transactions of the average family - get a housing mortgage and a loan for college tuition - will now be transactions with the government, they included a provision in the student loan legislation that says there will be special forgiveness of student loans for those who go into work for the government or for non-profits. One-third of the recent stimulus was devoted to preserving Unionized public employees' jobs in states and localities, and so it goes. The agenda is constant.

In 1965 with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the final dissolution in some ways of the sense of restraint on the part of the federal government, it was advertised as aid for the poorest of the poor. Ten years later, in 1975, 80% of all school districts were participating in this. It is a principle of liberal social legislation that a program for the poor is a poor program. The assumption is that middle class Americans will not support a program aimed only for the poor.

That is a theory refuted by the fact that the earned income tax credit, supported and expanded by Ronald Reagan, is extremely popular in this country. But it does reveal the fact that dependency is the agenda of the other side. It is the agenda to make more and more people dependent in more and more things on the government. We can now see today in the headlines from Europe where that leads. It leads to the streets of Athens where we had described by media as "anti-government mobs."

The "anti-government mobs" were composed almost entirely of government employees.

The Greeks - the Greeks and the Europeans have said all along as they increase the weight of the state, in danger of suffocating the economy, "So far so good." They kept saying, "So far so good."

Reminds me of - everything does sooner or later – of baseball stories. True story. In 1951 Warren Spahn, on the way to becoming the winningest left handed pitcher in the history of baseball, was pitching for the then Boston Braves against the then New York Giants in the then Polo Grounds. And the Giants sent up to the plate a rookie who is 0-for-twelve. It’s clear this kid would never hit big league pitching, some kid named Willie Mays. Spahn stood out on the mound sixty feet six inches from home plate, threw the ball to Mays. Crushed it. First hit, first home run. After the game the sports writers went up to Spahn in the clubhouse, said “Spawny, what happened?” Spahn said, “Gentlemen, for the first sixty feet that was a hell of a pitch.”

It's not good enough in baseball and it's not good enough in governance either. Let me give you a sense, a framework to understand this extraordinarily interesting moment in which we live. I believe that today, as has been the case for 100 years and as will be the case for the foreseeable future, the American political argument is an argument between two Princetonians: James Madison of the class of 1771, and Thomas Woodrow Wilson of the class of 1879.

I firmly believe the most important decision taken anywhere in the twentieth century was the decision taken as to where to locate the Princeton graduate college.

President of Princeton Woodrow Wilson wanted it located down on the campus. Other people wanted to located where it in fact is, up on the golf course away from the campus. When Wilson lost that, he had one of his characteristic tantrums, went into politics and ruined the twentieth century.

I'm - I'm simplifying a bit.

Madison asserted that politics should take its bearings from nature, from human nature and the natural rights with which we are endowed that pre-exist government. Woodrow Wilson, like all people steeped in the nineteenth century discovery (or so they thought) that History is a proper noun with a capital "H," that history has a mind and life of its own, he argued that human nature is as malleable and changeable as history itself, and that it is the job of the state to regulate and guide the evolution of human nature, and the changeable nature of the rights we are owed by the government that in his view dispensed rights.

Heraclitus famously said "You cannot step into the same river twice," meaning that the river would change. The modern progressive believes that you can't step into the same river twice because you change constantly. Well those of us of the Madisonian persuasion believe that we take our bearings from a certain constancy. Not from, well to coin a phrase "the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society."

That has become, that phrase from Justice Brennan, has become the standard by which the constitution is turned into a "living document." A constitution that no longer can constitute. A constitution has, as Justice Scalia said, an anti-evolution purpose. The very virtue of a constitution is that it is not changeable. It exists to prevent change, to embed certain rights so that they cannot easily be taken away.

Madison said rights pre-exist government. Wilson said government exists to dispense whatever agenda of rights suits its fancy, and to annihilate, regulate or attenuate or dilute those others. Madison said the rights we are owed are those that are necessary for the individual pursuit of happiness. Wilson and the progressives said the rights you deserve are those that will deliver material happiness to you and spare you the strain and terror of striving.

The result of this is now clear. We see in the rampant indebtedness of our country and the European countries what someone has called "a gluttonous feast on the flesh of the future." We see the infantilization of publics that become inert and passive, waiting for the state to take care of them. One statistic: 50% of all Americans 55 years old or older have less than $50,000 in savings and investment.

The feast on the flesh of the future is what debt is. To get a sense of the size of our debt, in 1916, midway in Woodrow Wilson's first term, the richest man in America John D. Rockefeller could have written a personal check and retired the National Debt. Today the richest man in America, Bill Gates, could write a personal check for all his worth and not pay two months interest on the National Debt. Five years from now interest debt service will consume half of all income taxes. Ten years from now the three main entitlements, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security plus interest will consume 93% of all federal revenues. Twenty years from now debt service interest will be the largest item in the federal budget.

Calvin Coolidge, the last president with whom I fully agreed, once said that when you see a problem coming down the road at you, relax. Nine times out of ten it will go into the ditch before it gets to you. He was wrong about the one we now face. We are facing the most predictable financial crisis, most predictable social and political crisis of our time. And all the political class can do is practice what I call "the politics of assuming a ladder." That's an old famous story of two people walking down the road, one's an economist the other's a normal American, and they fall into a pit with very steep sides. The normal American at the bottom says "Good lord we can't get out!" The economists said, "Not to worry, we'll just assume a ladder."

This seems to me what is the only approach they have to the Ponzi nature of our own welfare state. I think what it is time for us to understand, that the model that we share in a somewhat attenuated form so far with Europe simply cannot work. It is that on the one hand we should tax the rich, AKA the investing and job creating class, yet count on spending the revenues of investment and job creation. No one has explained to the political class that it is very dangerous to try to leap a chasm in two bounds.

We are now being told that a value-added tax is going to be required. Well, the value-added tax would help the political class to shower benefits on those who can vote for them while taxing people who can't vote for them. The beauty of the value-added tax is that it taxes everybody but nobody quite notices it.

We are going to come now to a time when America's going to have to revisit Madison's Federalist Paper 45, and his statement "the powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined."

Few and defined.

The cost of not facing this fact of not enforcing the doctrine in some sense of enumerated powers, is that big government inevitably breeds bigger government. James Q. Wilson, one of the great social scientists in American history, put it this way: "Once politics was about only a few things. Today it is about nearly everything. Once the legitimacy barrier has fallen, political conflict takes a very different form. New programs need not await the advent of a crisis of extraordinary majority, because no program is any longer new. It is seen rather as an extension, a modification or an enlargement of something the government is already doing. Since there is virtually nothing the government has not tried to do, there is little that it cannot be asked to do."

And so we have today's death spiral of the welfare state: an ever larger government resting on an ever smaller tax base. Government impeding the creation of wealth in order to enforce the redistribution of it. We're not fooling, however, the American people. The Wall Street Journal this morning announced with a sort of breathless surprise that about 80% of the American people disapprove of congress. Raising a fascinating question: who are the 20%?

It is a sign of national health that Americans still think about Washington the way they used to talk about the old Washington Senators baseball team, when the saying was "Washington: first in war, first in peace and last in the American League." Back then they were run, the Senators were, by a man named Clark Griffith who said, "The fans like home runs, and we have assembled a pitching staff to please our fans."

That is why the American people do not mind what they are instructed by their supposed betters to mind, that is the so-called problem of gridlock. Ladies and gentlemen gridlock is not an American problem, it is an American achievement. When James Madison and fifty-four other geniuses went to Philadelphia in the sweltering summer of 1787, they did not go there to design an efficient government, the idea would have horrified them. They wanted a safe government to which end they filled it with blocking mechanisms. Three branches of government. Two branches of the legislative branch. Veto. Veto override. Supermajorities. Judicial review. And yet I can think of nothing the American people have wanted intensely and protractedly that they did not eventually get.

The world understands. A world most of whose people live under governments they wish were capable of gridlock, that we always have more to fear from government speed than government tardiness. We are told that one must not be a party of "NO." To "NO" I say an emphatic "YES!" For two reasons. The reason that almost all "improvements" make matters worse is that most new ideas are false. Second: the most beautiful five words in the English language are the first five words of the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law."

No law abridging freedom of speech, no law establishing religion, no law interfering with the right to assemble to petition for redress of grievance, and the bill of rights goes on in a litany, a tissue of "noes." No unreasonable searches and seizures. No cruel and unusual punishments, and so it goes. The American people are, I think, healthier than they are given credit for. They have only one defect: We have nothing to fear right now but an insufficiency of fear itself. It is time for a wholesome fear of what people are trying to do.

We have few allies. We don't have Hollywood. We don't have academia. We don't have the mainstream media. But we have two things: First we've arithmetic on our side. The numbers do not add up and cannot be made to do so. Second, we have the Cato Institute. People in this room are what the Keynesians call a multiplier. And for once they are right.

In Athens, the so called cradle of democracy, the Demos - a Greek word, "the people" - have been demonstrating in recent days the degradation that attends a people who become state-broken to a fault. Who become crippled by dependency and the infantilization that comes with it. Well, we shall see. I think America is organized around the very principle of individualism, which I can best illustrate with what I promise you is the last baseball story.

True story. Rogers Hornsby was at the plate, the greatest right-handed hitter in the history of baseball, and a rookie was on the mound who was quite reasonably petrified. The rookie threw three pitches that he thought were on the edge of the plate but the umpire said "Ball one, ball two, ball three."

The rookie got flustered and shouted in at the umpire, "Those were strikes!" The umpire took off his mask, looked out at the rookie, and said "Young man, when you throw a strike, Mr. Hornsby will let you know." Hornsby had become the standard of excellence. If he didn't swing, it wasn't a strike. We want a country in which everyone is encouraged to strive to be his own standard of excellence and have the freedom to pursue it. Now there are reasons for being downcast at the moment. Certain recent elections have not gone so well. Let me remind you something again going back to 1964. In 1964 the liberal candidate got 90% of the electoral votes. Eight years later the liberal candidate got 3% of the electoral votes.

This is a very changeable country.

I would recall the words to you of the first Republican president, who two years before he became president spoke at the Wisconsin state fair with terrible clouds of civil strife lowering over the country. Lincoln told his audience the story of the oriental despot who summoned his wise men, and assigned them to go away and come back when they had devised a statement to be carved in stone to be forever in view and forever true. They came back 'ere long and the statement they had carved in stone was "This too shall pass away."

"How consoling in times of grief," said Lincoln. "How chastening in times of pride. And yet," said Lincoln, "if we cultivate the moral world within us as prodigiously as we Americans cultivate the physical world around us, it need not be true." Lincoln understood that freedom is the basis of values. It’s not the alternative to a values approach to politics. Freedom is the prerequisite for the moral dimension to flower.

Given freedom the American people will flower. Given the Cato Institute, the American people will have in time secured freedom. Thank you very much and thank you for your help to Cato.

Quote of the Day - Thomas Sowell Edition

(Y)ou can't depend on the government because the government is not some brooding presence in the sky. The government is an organization with its own interest which it will serve over and above whatever interest it is supposedly being set up to serve. -- Thomas Sowell, interviewed at Right Wing News
Correspondingly, Shepherd Book from Firefly, "War Stories" -
A government is a body of people, usually, notably ungoverned.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

QE2

So, the Fed announces that it's going to purchase $600,000,000,000 in Treasury bonds, since the rest of the world (read "China") has decided that America isn't a good risk anymore.

Remember this?

Don't think QE2, but Titanic.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Quote of the Day - Conflict of Visions Edition

Adherents of the unconstrained vision are idealists, those who believe in Utopia, or Heaven on earth. Unfortunately, their attempts to create these Heavens on earth have always led to Hells, and always will. The reason? Believing human nature is perfectible, they must always project all evil onto other people, who must be sacrificed in order to leave only the "good." The term for this is "scapegoating," and as M. Scott Peck clearly noted, it is "the genesis of human evil."

If I had to describe the left (those who believe in the unconstrained vision) in three phrases, it would be the "lust to destroy," the "lust for power," and the "lust for attention." Those three traits, in the West, are the main ones of Satan, who wanted to be God. His sin was that of hubris, as it is the main sin of the left.

As I noted, these divisions exist even among libertarians. Objectivism, for example, is strongly leftist, with its belief in a minuscule group of intellectually and morally superior people who have the right to rule over a destroyed world. Since Objectivists are idealists who believe in a perfect Galtian Utopia, those who do not are in their minds not merely mistaken, but evil.

--

The Constrained and Unconstrained Visions, Bob Wallace, The Price of Liberty
Interesting essay.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Your Moment of Zen - Blue and Gold Edition

Just...wow:

Click for the full-size version.

Quote of the Day - Election Edition

Remember this one as you go to the polls tomorrow:
Leftists perpetuate hopelessness while conservatives are optimists. If you believe that you have no hope of making the most of yourself and building a prosperous life, then the hopelessness of Leftism makes sense to you and you believe that money comes from luck and/or exploitation and you can only get it by taking it from those who are making it. In contrast, fiscal conservatism is about optimism in the individual’s ability to create wealth and the recognition that the system that allows individuals to keep the majority of the wealth they create harnesses one of the greatest powers in the universe: human ambition.

Cynthia Yockey, A Newly Conservative Lesbian - The economic theory of Leftist hopelessness vs. conservative optimism
Do read the whole piece. It's quite good.

Southern Arizona Blogshoot - Update

OK, here's what we have:

ExurbanKevin and I are setting up a completely informal get-together of bloggers, message board members, and readers. We did this last year and had a very good time. I want this one to be bigger. The weather should be beautiful.

Date: Saturday, November 6, 2010
Time: 7:00AM 'till ?
Location: Elsy Pearson Public Shooting Range, Casa Grande, AZ, just off of I-8, just West of the I-10/I-8 interchange.

The Elsy Pearson Public Range has three areas with shooting benches and sun shades. There is a 100 yard range, a 300 yard range, and a 25 yard range. There's also a bigass rock outcropping on the side of the mountain about 600 yards downrange if you want something to bounce bullets off of. The city of Casa Grande has finally seen fit to equip the range with a Porta-pottie, but there still isn't any running water. Everyone needs to bring lots of fluids, if nothing else. Oh, and sunscreen. It may be cool, but the UV count is still high.

The range is unattended. We are expected to behave ourselves and clean up afterward. The site is posted "Absolutely No Explosives," so no Tannerite on site, and no exploding targets of any kind. Sorry. They don't like .50BMG at the range, but I've seen people shooting them there and so far as I know, no one has complained.

The same cannot be said for Tannerite.

Full auto, on the other hand, is A-OK. (Just have your paperwork. The police range is about 400 yards away.)

There are concrete shooting benches, but no chairs. Bring your own. The shooting area is fenced, so no vehicles downrange. If your stuff is heavy, bring a cart that'll fit through a 3' man-gate. (I have to get one of those.)

I plan on bringing my tables and bowling pins and setting up for pin shooting on the 25 yard range - no charge, just come shoot. I have my steel plates (9" x 11" x 1" AR500 armor - they'll stop a .50) and I'll be bringing a few of those for people to shoot at. (That's why I need a cart. Those mothers weigh 35 lbs each!) I'll bring some other things to play with, too.

The range HAS NO TARGET STANDS. Bring something to put your targets on. The ground is about as hard as concrete, so the cheap-ass wire frames you're supposed to stick in the ground? Uh-uh. My stand is made of 2" PVC pipe and 2x2 lumber. Other people just bring big cardboard boxes they set on the ground, or their own target stands that just sit on the surface. Whatever works for you.

Oh, NO GLASS. If you want to shoot something that breaks, I'll be bringing some clay pigeons.

We're planning on lunch at the range. I'm going to bring a small gas-fired grill and some burgers 'n fixin's, I encourage others to do the same. Sharing is fun! (Please don't share salmonella.)

Bear in mind, this is a public range. Other people not associated with this shoot will be there, too.

Please do plan on coming. See you Saturday!

Oh, and BTW, aside from some short posts this week, I won't be blogging much. I need to load some ammo for the shoot.