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

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Speechless


Amira Willighagen, nine, sings opera and stuns Holland's Got Talent judges

Girl who performed O Mio Babbino Caro says she taught herself to sing with YouTube tutorials


A nine-year-old Dutch girl has won the hearts of the nation – and the global internet masses – after a stunning rendition of an operatic classic on a televised talent show.

Amira Willighagen's performance of O Mio Babbino Caro from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi on Holland's Got Talent amazed judges and audience alike and won her a "golden ticket" that will take her straight to the competition's live show.
Not an opera fan, but sweet jeebus, what a voice!

Happy Halloween!

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Quote of the Day - Obama Edition

Actually, this one comes from Glenn Reynolds:

So many layers of disaster here. It's like peeling an onion of fail.

He was talking about Obamacare, but it's pretty universal for this entire administration.

Most Transparent Administration EVER!








Orly?

CBS News: Obama Reneges on Health Care Transparency (Warning: video runs automatically.)

Firedog Lake: Record Number of Leaks Prosecutions Downplayed by Obama Administration

HuffPo: Obama Whistleblower Prosecutions Lead To Chilling Effect On Press

Also HuffPo: 'Reporter's Privilege' Under Fire From Obama Administration Amid Broader War On Leaks

New Yorker magazine:
When President Barack Obama took office, in 2009, he championed the cause of government transparency, and spoke admiringly of whistle-blowers, whom he described as "often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government." But the Obama Administration has pursued leak prosecutions with a surprising relentlessness. Including the Drake case, it has been using the Espionage Act to press criminal charges in five alleged instances of national-security leaks—more such prosecutions than have occurred in all previous Administrations combined. The Drake case is one of two that Obama’s Justice Department has carried over from the Bush years.

Gabriel Schoenfeld, a conservative political scientist at the Hudson Institute, who, in his book "Necessary Secrets" (2010), argues for more stringent protection of classified information, says, "Ironically, Obama has presided over the most draconian crackdown on leaks in our history—even more so than Nixon."
UPDATE:  Except, of course, when the leaker damages the Left's enemies.  (End update.)

L.A. Times: Benghazi witnesses grilled in secret on Capitol Hill

CBS News: Government's answer to "Fast and Furious" records requests: Blank pages
For more than a year, CBS News has been investigating the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms' "Fast and Furious" operation and related cases that also employed the controversial tactic of "gunwalking." With Justice Department officials refusing all interview requests to date, CBS News requested numerous public documents through the Freedom of Information Act.

So far, all of the requests that have been answered have been denied in part or in full.

This week, we received a partial response to a request made more than a year ago. It asked for communications involving "Project Gunrunner," the umbrella program for Fast and Furious, from 2010 through April 2011. Specifically, it sought any communications to which any of the following top Justice officials were a party: Attorney General Eric Holder; Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division; Kevin Carwile, chief of the Capital Case Unit; and Deputy Assistant Attorney Generals Bruce Schwarz and Kenneth Blanco.

The response includes mostly-blank pages.

HuffPo again: Obama Executive Privilege Asserted Over Fast And Furious Documents (Another autoplay video.)

U.S. News: Court: White House Can Keep Visitor Logs Secret
In a potentially devastating blow to transparency, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled Friday that the executive branch can choose not to release White House visitor logs.

The court ruling was in reaction to a lawsuit from Judicial Watch seeking thousands of records not voluntarily disclosed by the Obama administration.

And it's not just .gov documents and employees:

New York Times: Head of The A.P. Criticizes Seizure of Phone Records

And now CNN:


Finding all those didn't take long.  How's that Hopenchange going?

Just shut up and drink your Kool-Aid take your soma.

Morning Funnies

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I'm pretty sure Wally was the project manager on the initial rollout.

Monday, October 28, 2013

What Happens When the Media Narrative™ on Gun Control Loses Traction?

They go back to scaaaaary numbers!  And they beat their drums made from the skins of dead children.
Terrible tally: 500 children dead from gunshots every year, 7,500 hurt, analysis finds
That's the headline. Here's the first line of the piece (emphasis mine):
About 500 American children and teenagers die in hospitals every year after sustaining gunshot wounds — a rate that climbed by nearly 60 percent in a decade, according to the first-ever accounting of such fatalities, released Sunday.
Children and teens - which includes 18 and 19 year-old "children" who are legally adults.

But wait! It gets better!
In addition, an estimated 7,500 kids are hospitalized annually after being wounded by gunfire, a figure that spiked by more than 80 percent from 1997 to 2009, according two Boston doctors presenting their findings at a conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics, held in Orlando, Fla.

Eight of every 10 firearm wounds were inflicted by handguns, according to hospital records reviewed by the doctors. They say the national conversation about guns should shift toward the danger posed by smaller weapons, not the recent fights over limiting the availability of military-style, semi-automatic rifles.
So the urgent need to reinstate the assault weapon ban is not so urgent after all?

Just as an aside, I did a Google search on the name of one of the authors, Dr. Arin L. Madenci. Google returned 9,380 hits. The first eight pages are almost exclusively this announcement. Of the dozen or so stories I scanned, not one had a link to the actual report, just the database that spawned it.

So let's look at some numbers.

The NBC piece states:
Madenci, and his colleague, Dr. Christopher Weldon, a surgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital, tallied the new statistics by culling a national database of 36 million pediatric hospitalizations from 1997 to 2009, the most recent year for which figures are available.
During that period, hospitalizations of kids and teens aged 20 and younger from gunshot wounds jumped from 4,270 to 7,730. Firearm deaths of children logged by hospitals rose from 317 in 1997 to 503 in 2009, records showed.
Wait - "aged 20 and younger? I thought we were talking "children and teens"?

The Centers for Disease Control has a tool, WISQARS, which stands for Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System. It has subsections on fatal injury, non-fatal injury, and violent injury statistics, though the last covers only sixteen states and is "not nationally representative." That's OK though. The fatal and non-fatal statistics can be searched by "violence-related" or "unintentional." The CDC numbers go through 2010.

In 1997, according to the CDC, for "children" aged 0-19 there were 4,223 gunshot fatalities, not 317. Apparently the overwhelming majority of these gunshot fatalities never made it to a hospital. The non-fatal data only goes back to 2000, so I can't do a comparison, but you'd think they'd want to use the higher number. But here's the interesting part where this "news" piece becomes an opinion piece without bothering to inform you of the fact:  of the total of 1,005 words in the NBC piece, the first 298 of them are about the study and its results. The remaining 707 are about how you should feel about it. They relate to the tragic death of 3-year-old Will McAnaul who died from an accidentally self-inflicted gunshot wound. As I have said before, this is the kind of thing that really irritates me. As I said then:
 
Now, what are you to infer from this?
 
You are to infer that the majority of these injuries and deaths are accidental, are you not?

Let's look at the CDC's numbers in more depth.
For 1997, children 0-12 years of age, gunshot fatalities: 318
Unintentional: 84
Violence-related (includes suicide): 226
Known suicide: 20
Eighty-four accidental deaths. Over two hundred homicides.
For 1997, children 13-19, gunshot fatalities: 3,905 (12.63/100,000 population)
Unintentional: 222
Violence related: 3,616
Suicide: 1,242
That means 2,374 were homicides.

Let's jump to 2009.
Children 0-12, gunshot fatalities: 209
Unintentional: 44
Violence-related: 156
Suicide: 14

Age 13-19 total gunshot fatalities: 2,502 (8.25/100,000 population)
Unintentional: 90
Violence-related: 2,383
Suicide: 735
Excuse me?

The story plainly states that:
...hospitalizations of kids and teens aged 20 and younger from gunshot wounds jumped from 4,270 to 7,730. Firearm deaths of children logged by hospitals rose from 317 in 1997 to 503 in 2009, records showed.
But the Centers for Disease Control data also plainly states that the total "firearm deaths" of children aged from birth to nineteen years of age went from 4,223 to 2,811 - a decrease of 1,412 in raw numbers and a death rate decrease of almost 63%Accidental death by gunshot dropped by 60%.

And all of this in the face of expanding "shall-issue" concealed-carry legislation, and at least four million new guns being purchased each year - at least half of them handguns.

The CDC numbers are far higher than those used by Doctors Arin L. Madenci and Christopher Weldon, and they are nothing to be proud of, but they trend DOWN, and dramatically. You can't frighten people with declining statistics. Instead, they had to find numbers they could cherry-pick to support The Narrative™ that guns are a disease vector, and that more guns = more "gun deaths."

And every news service in the country, and many more worldwide picked up the "story" (and I use that word with dripping sarcasm) and ran with it.

LAYERS of editorial fact-checking!!

Agenda?  What agenda?

Remember, they're The Other Side.  It's what they do.  It's all they do.  And they absolutely will not stop.

So we can't either.

UPDATE: NBC reporter Bill Briggs, who wrote the linked article, is on Facebook. I asked him about his story. Specifically, I asked:  "Mr. Briggs, I read your piece. Don't you guys have fact checkers?"  His response:
The study conducted by these surgical residents came from the first-ever data mining of firearms injuries/deaths from this statistical set (KID). It warrants coverage. We noted in the article that this pediatric database typically includes anyone 20 and under (although for one year of data, the cut off was younger). We typically try to put faces and personal stories with any numbers reported in all our stories, no matter the topic.
I asked him:
Doesn't it bother you - even a little - that they reported a significant increase in fatalities (317 in 1997 to 503 in 2009) while the Centers for Disease Control reported a significant DECREASE in fatalities (and a MUCH higher total count)? Does that not tell you that the KID statistical set is pretty much USELESS for the purpose they put it to (if you don't assume that their purpose was to push gun control)? Doesn't THAT "warrant coverage"? Doesn't it make you ask "Why"?
We'll see if he replies.

UPDATE II:  He did.  Here's the remainder of the exchange:
Yes, we cover all those trend lines.

Also, if you read the abstract written by these two surgeons, you'll note that they are not pushing a social agenda. They speak to the statistics from a clinical perspective. They only venture slightly down that road when citing the higher percentage of handgun injuries in contrast to ongoing debates about so-called assault rifles.
Bill, where was the link to the abstract in your piece? I saw links only to the KID website and to Patcine McAnaul's blog. (And though you chose Will McAnaul as the face for your story, I think even you would admit that stating his case "may" have been one included in the data is stretching it. He was "declared dead" at the hospital, not admitted.)

I saw no mention of "trend lines" other than "hospitalizations of kids and teens aged 20 and younger from gunshot wounds jumped from 4,270 to 7,730. Firearm deaths of children logged by hospitals rose from 317 in 1997 to 503 in 2009, records showed."

With respect to the doctors, you don't find this comment suggestive? “Policies designed to reduce the number of household firearms, especially handguns, may more effectively reduce the number of gunshot injuries in children,” Madenci said.

This INSISTS that "the number of gunshot injuries in children" is INCREASING - an assertion BELIED by the CDC data that says it's DECREASING - dramatically - WITHOUT such "policies" despite the increasing number of firearms in private hands - especially handguns.

In short, your piece provides false information in support of a false narrative, but it "warrants coverage" while the truth - as uncomfortable as it is - does not.

And you wonder why people no longer trust the media?
Thank you for your thoughts. The American Academy of Pediatrics can offer additional information on this research.
Thank you for your responses.

As my daughter said to me tonight on the telephone, "I kept waiting for him to respond, and he never did."

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Quote of the Day - Instapundit Edition

I’m just amused at how quickly after the implementation of ObamaCare the whole “death panel” thing was transformed from a paranoid fantasy of that yokel, Sarah Palin, to an obviously good idea that all thinking people support.
All Leftist outrage has an expiration date.  And they have no memory.

From his link to Walter Hudson's PJ Media piece, The Twisted Morality of Death Panels.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bill Whittle on Common Core

"Cookie Cutter Curriculum"


Quote of the Day:
And like Obamacare, with Common Core all of the faults get incorporated into a single point of failure. And then that point fails. But you can always call the toll-free number: 1-800-IMSHOKD, which will play you a recording directing you back to the Common Core Website, which will direct you to call 1-800-IMSHOKD.
Please hold for the next available bureaucrat.

Oh, Right, Like THAT'LL Happen!

Got this one in an email tonight.  Actually, it's a pretty damned good idea.

Doesn't have a snowball's chance, but it's a good idea:
Amend the Constitution:
.
Amendment 28:  If during any Federal fiscal year the government operates at a deficit equal to or greater than 3% of Gross Domestic Product, no sitting member of Congress shall be eligible for re-election during the next election cycle.

On that "Reset Button" Question...

Hi, my name is Kevin, and I've been away for a little while. 

In trying to get caught up on my blog reading, I ran across a link to a little piece by Daniel Greenfield over at Sultan Knish that I think more people (lots more people) should read.  It's titled The Supersessionists of the Liberal Confederacy, (h/t Otto).  Daniel's premise is that, well:
Ted Cruz has come the closest to understanding that the other side just doesn't play by any rules, but lacks the leverage to make much of that. Cruz is still a product of a system in which there are rules. And that system is as unfit for challenging the left-wing radicals running things as trying to play a game of chess against an opponent who feels like moving the pieces any which way he feels like and always claims to have won.

Law is a consensus. If you stop keeping the law, the police arrest you. If a gang of left-wing radicals in a basement somewhere stopped following the law, they might be locked up. It's not a certain thing considering that mad bomber Bill Ayers is a university professor. But once those same left-wing radicals control much of the system and the media that reports on the system, they have no reason to follow the law.
He explores the consequences of this loss of consensus. To wit:
On one side there is no consensus and no law; only sheer will. On the other there is a body of legal traditions going back centuries.

It's painfully clear that two such approaches cannot coexist within a single government. And those who have the power and follow no rules have the supreme advantage of wielding government power without the legal restrictions that were meant to bind the abuse of that power.
I've read the piece twice. I don't think he's wrong.

I'm reminded once again of Thomas Sowell's A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles, his magnum opus. I recommend you read (if you haven't) my ├╝berpost on it from January, 2010.

This will not end well.

Edited to add:  Just after hitting "Publish" on this piece, I went and read Bill Whittle's latest essay, Bamboo Spears.  Also highly recommended.

BAZINGA!!

Robb Allen, you have outdone yourself!!



I literally LOL'd.

"Glitch," my muscular buttocks.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Hey! A Post!

Not exactly (my) original content, but...



The comic is Failure to Fire.  NSFW.  Definitely done by someone a bit Left of the political center, but definitely a gunnie.

In Case You Hadn't Noticed....

...no blogging, it's because I've put in 38 hours at work since Sunday.  Tomorrow looks like it might be a bit more reasonable, but you can never tell for sure.

What have I been missing?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Shock! TEA-Party Members Aren't Knuckle-Dragging Ignoramuses!

Got this one via Instapundit.  (Sorry for the dearth of posting, but I've been working a LOT of hours.)

So a Yale law professor (and apparently amateur statistician) did a study.  Reports Politico:
Yale law professor Dan Kahan posted on his blog this week that he analyzed the responses of more than 2,000 American adults recruited for another study and found that, on average, people who leaned liberal were more science literate than those who leaned conservative.

However, those who identified as part of the tea party movement were actually better versed in science than those who didn’t, Kahan found. The findings met the conventional threshold of statistical significance, the professor said.
At the actual post, the Professor says:
I've got to confess, though, I found this result surprising. As I pushed the button to run the analysis on my computer, I fully expected I'd be shown a modest negative correlation between identifying with the Tea Party and science comprehension.

But then again, I don't know a single person who identifies with the Tea Party.
Paging Pauline Kael!
All my impressions come from watching cable tv -- & I don't watch Fox News very often -- and reading the "paper" (New York Times daily, plus a variety of politics-focused internet sites like Huffington Post & Politico).

I'm a little embarrassed, but mainly I'm just glad that I no longer hold this particular mistaken view.

Of course, I still subscribe to my various political and moral assessments--all very negative-- of what I understand the "Tea Party movement" to stand for. I just no longer assume that the people who happen to hold those values are less likely than people who share my political outlooks to have acquired the sorts of knowledge and dispositions that a decent science comprehension scale measures.
But that's not the best part.

The blog comment thread is.

At the time of this writing, it runs 249 comments long, overwhelmingly pro-TEA Party, and IMHO this one is the best:
Let me add an international twist:

I am a Brazilian self-taught Software Engineer. I also taught myself English, to the point where I managed to hold a Cambridge CPE, despite the fact that I've never stepped on anglophonic soil and zero formal training. So my analytic and reasoning faculties seem to be in working order.

Now, with that out of the way, here's why I strongly identify with the Tea Party: in my view, they are right, and they are the US's lifeline. They represent the virtues that led to American Exceptionalism (and YES, this does exist).

I find caricaturing Tea Partiers extremely ironic, and it would be hilarious, weren't it so revolting. In my experience, being a lefty liberal is EASY. It is the default stance of the intellectually lazy. All you have to do is feel (specially "good about myself" kind of feel), and never solve anything. Here's, in my view, why:

I live in the logical endpoint of Fabian socialism. Born to and raised in a culture where the concepts of "right" and "left" are non-existent (I take that back, actually "right" is a language stand-in for "evil"). We have over 30 political parties, and they are all some variant of the left. From Social Democrat parties to "Trotsky-ish" parties. Our *current* constitution, which dates back all the way to the Gun'n' Roses era (1988), is pretty much a Soviet Constitution (1936) copy/paste job. Culturally, the population is in pretty much a state of "1984 meets Brave New World" in terms of ideology.

Brazil is also a country where:

- the utter government control of the private sector trough bureaucracy managed to destroy entrepreneurship. To the point that it exists, it has to deal with the accepted fact of life that the bribes which feed the corrupt bureaucrats demand to allow business to exist have to be factored in business plans.

- a crushing tax burden that sustain a permanent dependent underclass of favelados in welfare ensures the populists remain eternally in power and that any semblance upward mobility is quickly "corrected". For an employer to put 10.000 in the pocket of an employee, with will costs him nearly 18.000, so jobs market are always tepid at best so informal work and tax dodging schemes are commonplace.

- The relentless attack on Catholicism (the historical prevalent brand of Christianity practiced here) over the past decades eroded any semblance of morality form a large chunk of the country, and that coupled with utter corruption and/or incompetence of law enforcement made way for drug cartels to take over. Violence and crime spiraled to such inhuman degrees that between the 50K murders in average a year, this year we saw a soccer referee stab a player to death and then be beheaded and quartered in the field by the spectators for his trouble. His head was placed in a spike in the middle of the field, as an added dramatic bonus (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2357453/Brazilian-referee-beheaded-Angry-fans-head-stake-stabbing-player.html).
This act barely caused a murmur.

I could go on for ages with more evidence of social rot, but you probably already got the gist of it.

Now, remember, being immersed in this cultural cesspool since birth I, like most Brazilians, never even *knew* that this wasn't actually just "the way things are". I mean, we get a gut feeling that something is off, but like Plato's cave dwellers, light is something really frightening and instinctively avoided. And the *obvious* solutions by all the *smart people* are always the same: more government "compassion". More "social programs". More "awareness". Less "greedyness".

Imagine my shock when by a quirk of fate a Mark Levin book ended in my hands. That led me to Burke, Locke, Smith, Mises, Friedman, Hayek and many others. Conservative philosophy is what gave me a glimpse of the shinning city in the hill and a will to fight, along with a battle plan, to improve my lot in life, and of those I can reach.

So, Dan, I understand you are surprised that your results showed Tea Partiers not the raging bufons the media portrays them as being. The most obvious things are often the easiest to miss. But never doubt that being conservative is quite the intellectual effort, if only to overcome the moroseness of the mind that liberalism creates imposes with all its group-think and easy answers.

Best wishes,

Rodrigo

PS: written in a hurry on lunch break, no time to proof-read, so apologies in advance for eventual typos.

October 18, 2013 Rodrigo Del Cistia Andrade
The anti-Tea Party comments? Mostly ad hominems and "Your data/conclusion is not valid" arguments.

I cannot help but wonder if we're not approaching another preference cascade.

Edited to add:  I'll just leave this right here:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

So, Who Was Shocked by the Republicans Caving at the 11th Hour?

Not I.  The only thing I found surprising was they waited that long.

Someone likened the Republican "government shutdown" gambit to attempting an amphibious invasion without air superiority (media support). [ETA:  It was Instapundit.]  Can't say I disagree with that assessment.  The major media outlets were in full uniform howl, predicting doom-'n-gloom, downplaying and avoiding the embarrassingly childish acts of the National Park Service, blaming the Tea Party for its intransigence, and hurling epithets like "hostage-taker," and "terrorist."  It's almost like there's a narrative or something.  (*cough*Journolist*cough*)

And, honestly, I think the Republicans would have been far better off to have made noises about their inability to affect the implementation of Obamacare, and pointing out its every single failure - and they are legion.  Where else have you seen this image?

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Certainly not in the major media. That's the 7-foot, 11,500,000-word stack of regulations spawned by the 2000+ page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that we had to pass to find out what was in it.

As some wag put it, "Pass it to find out what's in it?  That's not a law, that's a stool sample."

Why isn't Rand Paul or Ted Cruz wheeling one of these stacks around everywhere he goes?  Apparently we're learning more every day, but we've got a long way to go.

Remember this?

 photo dscn1160.jpg


Those are pocket editions of the Constitution, and include the Declaration of Independence.  As P.J. O'Rourke famously said of it:
The U.S. Constitution is less than a quarter the length of the owner's manual for a 1998 Toyota Camry, and yet it has managed to keep 300 million of the world's most unruly, passionate and energetic people safe, prosperous and free.
Today?  Not so much.  It's keepers have fallen down on the job.

Edited to add this:

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Theory of Value

Sarah Hoyt has an interesting post up, Fifty Shades of Marx*, a discussion of her assertion that the ideas of Marx are currently ascendant - an assertion I concur with.  This bit reminded me of something:
You want to look at the decay of Western civilization? It's mostly the unexamined absorption of Marxist ideas.

Now, I'm one of those people who live too much in books and theories, and, as such, I can tell you why they're absorbed and treated as gospel: it's because they make internal sense. This is not the same as having even a glimmer of real world application, of course, but they satisfy the minds of intellectuals by dividing everything into categories and presenting a (false but deceptively smooth) system for historical change and, in general, sounding REALLY plausible.

Take the Marxist theory of value. It is utter nonsense of course. The idea is that what gives value to something is the labor put into it. You can see how this would appeal to Marx, or, indeed, to any intellectual. Laboring forever over a book that sells one copy is now a genuine, bonafide "injustice". The book is valuable. Just look how much work you put into it.
This came to mind immediately:


RTWT


Ouch! ;-)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

You're American If You Think You're American

One of the advantages of having a ten-year backlog of posts is pulling up stuff from the past and linking it with current web content.  Several years ago when Steven Den Beste was still doing regular blogging, he wrote a post, Non-European Country that discussed some of the differences between Americans and non-Americans and why America really is different from all other nations.  I've quoted from it several times, but this is the excerpt for today's post:
European "nations" are based on ethnicity, language or geography. The American nation is based on an idea, and those who voluntarily came here to join the American experiment were dedicated to that idea. They came from every possible geographic location, speaking every possible language, deriving from every possible ethnicity, but most of them think of themselves as Americans anyway, because that idea is more important than ethnicity or language or geographical origin. That idea was more important to them than the things which tried to bind them to their original nation, and in order to become part of that idea they left their geographical origin. Most of them learned a new language. They mixed with people of a wide variety of ethnicities, and a lot of them cross-married. And yet we consider ourselves one people, because we share that idea. It is the only thing which binds us together, but it binds us as strongly as any nation.

Indeed, it seems to bind us much more strongly than most nations. If I were to move to the UK, and became a citizen there, I would forever be thought of by the British as being "American". Even if I lived there fifty years, I would never be viewed as British. But Brits who come here and naturalize are thought of as American by those of us who were born here. They embrace that idea, and that's all that matters. If they do, they're one of us. And so are the Persians who naturalize, and the Chinese, and the Bengalis, and the Estonians, and the Russians. (I know that because I've worked with all of those, all naturalized, and all of them as American as I am.)

You're French if you're born in France, of French parents. You're English if you're born to English parents (and Welsh if your parents were Welsh). But you're American if you think you're American, and are willing to give up what you used to be in order to be one of us. That's all it takes. But that's a lot, because "thinking you're American" requires you to comprehend that idea we all share. But even the French can do it, and a lot of them have.

That is a difference so profound as to render all similarities between Europe and the US unimportant by comparison. But it is a difference that most Europeans are blind to, and it is that difference which causes America's attitudes and actions to be mystifying to Europeans. It is not just that they don't understand that idea; most of them don't even realize it exists, because Europeans have no equivalent, and some who have an inkling of it dismiss it contemptuously.

It is that idea that explains why we think being called "cowboys" is a compliment, even when Europeans think it's an epithet. It is that idea that explains why we don't care what Europeans think of us, and why European disapproval of our actions has had no effect on us. It is that idea which explains why, in fact, we're willing to do what we think is right even if the entire rest of the world disapproves.

It is that idea which convinces us that if by our actions we "lose all our friends in the world" then they weren't really friends to begin with, and that we're better off without them.

And it is that difference that continues to mystify and frustrate Europeans, who incorrectly assume that America is a European country, and who try to explain our behavior on that basis. And because our behavior is inexplicable for a European nation, they conclude that it is the result of foolishness and immaturity and lack of sophistication.

They come to those conclusions because that's the only way one can explain how a European country could act the way America has acted. What they miss is that America is not European, not at its deepest levels. It derives from European roots, and the majority of us are derived genetically from European stock, but it is utterly unlike Europe in the ways which matter most.
I get occasional emails from the Quora.com website with interesting questions answered by the membership. Today's included this question:  What facts about the United States do foreigners not believe until they come to America? The answers are fascinating, because as much as other cultures do not grok Americans, the reverse is equally (if not more) true. I will only excerpt one answer that I found particularly insightful, but I do recommend you read the whole thread, comments and all:
Convenience is rather pleasant.

Everything one knows about American convenience culture: 24 hour shops, fast food, "have a nice day" etc. appears tawdry and degraded when you only know it exported elsewhere in the world. At best it looks sad and desperate to be copying the US, and at worst, like a bad case of cultural imperialism as US companies come in and try to impose their models on your society.

But actually *in* the US, there's something rather charming about it. A McDonalds in a mall in Beijing or Brasilia is a horror. But go to one for breakfast in Los Angeles and it all kind of works: the design and appearance, the food, the behaviour of the staff. Not a wooden formula but a living culture.

Americana travels badly but is surprising comfortable in its native environment.

Quote of the Day - Facebook Comment Edition

Cheap and Tacky have replaced Hope and Change as the watchwords. - J Anne Stewart

Friday, October 11, 2013

Another Interesting Data Point

Even though my office is close to home, I tend to eat lunch at the various restaurants around the area.  When I'm eating lunch by myself, I always have something to read - usually whatever nonfiction book I'm working on at the time.  At one restaurant I almost always get the same waitress, a pleasant woman a few years older than I am, who takes an interest in whatever I happen to be reading.  We've had some interesting, if abbreviated, discussions.

I hadn't been there for awhile, and they have a pretty good patty melt, so that's where I went today.  After taking my order and then serving me, she said - out of the blue - "At your job, were you able to keep your health insurance?"  When I said yes, she asked how big the company I worked for was.  It's about 100 people.

Turns out, her husband works for a much smaller company.  She and her husband had just received a letter informing them that they were losing their company-assisted health insurance and would be moving to the Obamacare pool.  The "Silver" plan that would be automatically replacing their previous insurance would cost them an extra $400 a month.

And has an $8,000 deductible.

They could, of course, decline this automatic option and go shopping for themselves.

If, of course, the web site every actually - you know - works.

"So much for being able to keep the plan we were happy with!" she said.  

UPDATE:  Here's another.

Non-Essential

Bill Whittle's latest Afterburner:


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Don't Kid Yourself - They're Still Working Toward It

So Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, goes on The Daily Show to be interviewed by Jon Stewart.  I watched the whole thing.

I didn't hear what Journolist Andrea Mitchell apparently heard:

I'm Safe!

 photo iTkEkCc.gif

Did my annual Mining Safety and Heath Administration refresher today.  Good for another year.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

XKCD Spikes the Ball

Quote of the Day - .Gov Shutdown Edition

From a comment at Instapundit:
All this havoc wreaked through the Park Service. Consider that for a moment. The National Park Service has managed to barricade scenic vistas in North Dakota, piss off World War 2 vets in DC, and keep small children from getting home to their parents after school in Tennessee. And it's just the Park Service! Imagine if the federal government were as omnipresent and powerful as the left wishes it were. "Sorry; we'd love for you to have your kidney transplant, but the government is shut down. All because you pesky citizens wouldn't behave!"

But holy crap, it's the Park Service! The absurdity is stupefying. Just the thought of using something as innocuous as the PARK SERVICE to cause so much damage--all for the sake of causing damage and pissing people off--confounds the mind. It's like a confederacy of clowns on tricycles, swarming over the nation, wreaking havoc with balloon animals and confetti--because those are the only tools at their disposal.

But, in any case, Obama's intended lesson was meant to be, "See how awful life is without your Federal Family?" But the lesson learned--I hope--is, "See how awful your Federal Family can make your life if you tick it off?" We're not seeing the absence of government; we're seeing an excess of bad government.
But only if you go online and look for it.

My brother posted this picture on Facebook a day or so ago. Pretty much says it all:

Monday, October 07, 2013

Your Moment of Zen

I needed this:


I don't know where this is, but it is calming.

Quote of the Day - Barrycade Edition

From Dave Carter at his Ricochet post When the Bleeding Heart Becomes the Iron Fist:
Welcome to liberal utopia, where barriers are not erected against terrorists or illegal aliens on our nation's borders, but rather against citizens, and where wheelchair-bound veterans enroute to honor their comrades face tighter security than terrorists enroute to murder a US Ambassador. This is where up is down, wrong is right, illegality is celebrated as progress, and where Constitutionalism is derided as racist. No longer relegated to the fever swamps of academic fancy, utopia has acquired real estate and made known its demands.

"Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual…" the First Lady warned us, and she wasn't just whistling Alinsky either.
As usual, RTWT.

I'm reminded once again of something from an earlier piece, True Believers, wherein I quoted Glen Wishard from his (currently abandoned) blog Canis Iratus - specifically his post A Thumbnail History of the Twentieth Century. That quote was this (emphasis in the original):
The rise and fall of the Marxist ideal is rather neatly contained in the Twentieth Century, and comprises its central political phenomenon. Fascism and democratic defeatism are its sun-dogs. The common theme is politics as a theology of salvation, with a heroic transformation of the human condition (nothing less) promised to those who will agitate for it. Political activity becomes the highest human vocation. The various socialisms are only the most prominent manifestation of this delusion, which our future historian calls "politicism". In all its forms, it defines human beings as exclusively political animals, based on characteristics which are largely or entirely beyond human control: ethnicity, nationality, gender, and social class. It claims universal relevance, and so divides the entire human race into heroes and enemies. To be on the correct side of this equation is considered full moral justification in and of itself, while no courtesy or concession can be afforded to those on the other. Therefore, politicism has no conscience whatsoever, no charity, and no mercy.
"...politics as a theology of salvation.... Political activity becomes the highest human vocation...and so divides the entire human race into heroes and enemies."

Well, we know for sure who Barack's enemies are now, don't we?  And doesn't "no conscience whatsoever, no charity, and no mercy" pretty much describe today's Political Class?

Saturday, October 05, 2013

But When a Long Train of Abuses and Usurpations...

Let's see...

First there was the "Barrycading" of the WWII Memorial, Vietnam Memorial and Lincoln Memorial, and the not-so barricading of the WWI Memorial.  Then there was the not-National Park that was closed by the National Park Service, and the parking lots for Mt. Vernon were closed, even though Mt. Vernon is also not run by the Park Service.  Then the National Park Service evicted people from their homes and houseboats on Lake Mead.  If that's not petty enough for you:
The National Park Service placed cones along highway viewing areas outside Mount Rushmore this week, barring visitors from pulling over and taking pictures of the famed monument.
But there's more!  Unknown to me before today, I discovered that the Pentagon spent $5.5 billion in the days leading up to the "government shutdown," and  I was told today by a reliable source that the Marine Air Station in Yuma, Arizona has been "flying every aircraft in its inventory" over the last several days - beginning last Friday.  Also apparently the "government shutdown" has caused Catholic priests in military (to) face arrest for celebrating Mass.

And in what is quite possibly the single greatest example of .gov hubris in modern history,
Just before the weekend, the National Park Service informed charter boat captains in Florida that the Florida Bay was "closed" due to the shutdown. Until government funding is restored, the fishing boats are prohibited from taking anglers into 1,100 square-miles of open ocean. Fishing is also prohibited at Biscayne National Park during the shutdown.
Yup. The government is trying to close the ocean.

As one Park Ranger has been quoted:
We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.
This shot pretty much sums up the whole thing for me:

 photo Lincoln_outrage.jpg

I was blog-surfing tonight, and I visited /var/log/otto as I do about once a week or so. In Otto's post from Thursday, Fence Sitting is No Longer an Option was this:
This morning on the radio they played clips of Obama and company comparing Republicans and Tea Partiers to terrorists ... I was in the car with my wife - who doesn't actively follow the political scene, but she's not ignorant either - and after hearing the clips she said, "He's trying to start a civil war." And you know, I don't think she's wrong. He has to frame it correctly, of course, he can't look like the bad guy, but he's got the American media in his pocket, they are his puppets and they do what he says. The international scene is a distraction from what he wants to do- crush the American way and any who would defend it. He doesn't attack any international crisis with the relish and enthusiasm he attacks and mocks his political enemies. I say Obama, but he has a huge array of like-minded comrades both in and out of government. They are a real and present danger. They want an uprising so they can crush it. I don't doubt this any longer.
It certainly appears that way. The Media Narrative™ is that hordes of violent, racist TEA Partiers who hate the .gov and have been stockpiling weapons and ammunition are just waiting for the spark that will give rise to anti-government riots.

And Obama has fired up the grinder and is throwing all the sparks he possibly can.

I don't see another explanation, do you?

Edited to add:  Brietbart has a more complete list of closures and other idiocy.

Update, 10/7:
Folks who live in the Great Smoky Mountains have just about reached their breaking point with the federal government.

"It's almost like they are pushing to see how far they can push before the American people say enough is enough," said Ed Mitchell, the mayor of Blount County, Tenn.
Almost?
"We were founded on a declaration of independence. And they are about to push the people to the line again."

Nearly a third of Blount County is inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. So when the federal government shut down the park, it also shut down one of the area’s chief sources of revenue.

The National Park Service also closed the Foothills Parkway, a major thoroughfare in the county. The closure came without warning and left the local school district scrambling to get children back to their homes.

The children live in the eastern Tennessee community of Top of the World – serviced by School Bus 49. Normally, the bus travels along the Foothills Parkway. Other roads leading to the isolated mountain community are impassible by bus.

"It's dangerous," said Nancy Kemp, the spokesperson for Blount County Schools. "It's very curvy and straight up the mountain. It’s just not a safe route."

One local resident told Knoxville television station WBIR that the alternative roads are "white knuckle routes."
"White knuckle"? That's RACIST!

So much for "Doing it for the CHIIILLLDDDREN! Of course, if a busload of kids dies in a horrible accident, the media will report it as being the fault of House Republicans the TEA Party.

As Instapundit says:
If the press covered Obama the way they'd cover a GOP President who did this kind of thing, he'd be toast. But they don't, because they're on his team. Just think of them as Dem operatives with bylines and you won't go far wrong.

Out With the Old, In With the ... Older! (Pt. II)

So, back in 2005 I suspended my search for a Smith & Wesson Model 25-5 Lew Horton special N-frame 5" barreled .45 Colt and instead purchased a 4" Model 25-13 Mountain Gun in that caliber.  Then, early the following year I bought a Winchester '94 rifle in the same caliber.  Early this year, I traded my '94 for a smaller, handier Rossi '92 - again in .45 Colt.

Today I went to see my favorite Merchant O'Death, and he said, "Kevin, you like Smith & Wesson revolvers! Wanna see something interesting?"

It's not a Lew Horton, but it is a custom Model 25-7, 5" .45 Colt. No stupid lock, heavy barrel, unfluted cylinder, firing pin on the hammer. Looks like this:




(click for full size)

Now I need to get it to the range to see how it shoots.  It weighs about 5 oz. more than the Mountain Gun and a lot of that is in the barrel, so hopefully it'll be a bit less brisk with the 285 grain cast load I shoot in that caliber.

It belonged to the guy who owns the gun shop I bought it from, so I'm expecting good things.

Friday, October 04, 2013

More Truth in Fiction

I recently picked up Larry Correia's latest, Swords of Exodus and I started reading it tonight.  I'm only a short way into the book, but this passage struck me:
I've lived in every shit hole on Earth, and they’re all the same. It pisses me off to see the same thing creeping in here. There are always assholes who want to hurt the regular people, and then along come the control freaks who want to capitalize on fear of the scary assholes to control the regular people. The scary assholes just don't care, so repeat, repeat, repeat. Government's like a ratchet, and it just keeps on cranking down. This isn't the country I grew up in anymore. People got too scared of the assholes so now the ratchet's getting real tight. People think they're trading chaos for order, but they're just trading normal human evil for the really dangerous organized kind of evil, the kind that simply does not give a shit. Only bureaucrats can give you true evil.
Word.

Quote of the Day - Empress of Snark Edition

Tam on the question:  "Do you think the member of Congress that serves your district is doing a better job than Congress as a whole?"
(I)f there's a lower bar than "better job than Congress as a whole", it's currently being used at a paramecium limbo contest.
Bazinga!

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

"Why Would We Want to Do That?"

To paraphrase an ex-Secretary of State, "What difference does it make?"



What happened to "If it saves just one life!"?

That clip is going to make the rounds of the interwebs, youbetcha!

Lost Another One

Tom Clancy has died.  I remember reading The Hunt for Red October when it came out in paperback.  It was a great story, well paced, and with believable and interesting characters.  I DEVOURED it.  I read Red Storm Rising - in hardcover - as soon as it came out. 

Just, wow.  I missed a lot of sleep with that one.

I then read everything Clancy wrote up through Debt of Honor.  After that I felt that he was largely mailing it in, though I did find his non-fiction book with Gen. Chuck Horner, Every Man a Tiger an extremely fascinating look at the 1991 Gulf war in the air.  Stephen Green reports in his piece on Clancy:
Against All Enemies (with Peter Telep) remains the only Clancy book I couldn’t get through — and quickly. There was just something was missing from that one, but the others since 2010 have all read like “classic” Clancy of the ’80s and ’90s. Just a few days ago I pre-ordered Command Authority, due out in December. I suppose it will be his last.
I may have to pick up a new (to me) Clancy and give him another shot.

Fair winds and following seas, Mr. Clancy.  Thank you for the hours of entertainment and the technical education you provided.

Edited to add this bit of Clancy wisdom:

I'll Be Interested to See if More of These Show Up

Seen on Facebook, so take it with a grain of salt until there's corroboration. Purported report from someone who tried to sign up on the ACA website:
I actually made it through this morning at 8:00 A.M. I have a preexisting condition (Type 1 Diabetes) and my income base was 45K-55K annually I chose tier 2 "Silver Plan" and my monthly premiums came out to $597.00 with $13,988 yearly deductible!!! There is NO POSSIBLE way that I can afford this so I "opt-out" and chose to continue along with no insurance. I received an email tonight at 5:00 P.M. informing me that my fine would be $4,037 and could be attached to my yearly income tax return. Then you make it to the "REPERCUSSIONS PORTION" for "non-payment" of yearly fine. First, your drivers license will be suspended until paid, and if you go 24 consecutive months with "Non-Payment" and you happen to be a home owner, you will have a federal tax lien placed on your home. You can agree to give your bank information so that they can easy "Automatically withdraw" your "penalties" weekly, bi-weekly or monthly! This by no means is "Free" or even "Affordable."
So, uninsured now, paying $0 annually, unlimited out-of-pocket expenses.

Now has the "option" of paying $7,164 annually, with a $14k deductible (essentially no coverage short of completely catastrophic), or paying $4,037 a year with, again, an unlimited deductible. Of course, now with the ACA, he no longer has the option of not paying anything except out-of-pocket expenses, his annual health insurance tax, penalty, tax bill is $4,037 for which he gets exactly zilch.

Gotta pay his fair share! Yes, the Affordable Care Act has added an army of bureaucrats, but not one doctor, will increase the number of people who supposedly will have health insurance ($7,164 per annum, with a $14k deductible counts as "coverage," you see), and will save us all money because we'll be sharing the burden!

And if you believe that you're a moron or a Democrat.

If more of this comes out, expect some blowback.  Delay Obamacare?  Why?  Why not let the Democrats experience the full reaction of the people who actually pay taxes?

Quote of the Day - Sultan Knish Edition

Gun control is the assertion that the problem is not the guns; it's the lack of central planning for shooting people. It's the individual.
From his essay, The Central Planning Solution to Evil. RTWT.