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

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sometimes I Wish I Could Draw...

I can see the perfect image for a political cartoon describing the coming media frenzy over the civilian deaths in Haditha, Iraq. It would be a trench-coated figure with a "PRESS" badge in his fedora and a scourge in his hand, a look of savage glee on his face. But instead of self-flagellation - an act of contrition and shame - a U.S. Marine would stand, ripped and bloody, between the jagged tips of the whip and the reporter's back. And the pair would be standing on a brightly lit stage, surrounded by the world media, with jihadists in the background dancing in the blood of the slain.

The media isn't ashamed of the possible criminal actions of a few Marines in Iraq. The media no longer sees itself as being part of America. Instead, it's salivating over another chance to trumpet to the world how evil the United States is.

And I for one and sick to death of it.

UPDATE: It's the foreign press, but here's Exhibit A.

FURTHER UPDATE: I hereby retract the previous update.

Mea culpa.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Presser v. Illinois

Reader Addison emailed me with a link to this piece:
Militia proposal misfires

By Jeremiah Horrigan
Times Herald-Record

New Paltz - Mike Peters is finding he hasn't got many friends in high places.

Peters is chairman of the SUNY New Paltz chapter of College Republicans. He and three other campus leaders have made a national stir lately by advocating an on-campus gun-toting militia.

But last week, he lost the support of the National Rifle Association, which canceled at the last minute a scheduled lecture sponsored by the College Republicans.

So much for the gun lobby.

And now, the 200,000-member national organization behind the New Paltz chapter of the College Republicans has bailed on Peters for supporting the militia idea.

The College Republican National Committee has issued a statement distancing itself from the local group, saying it "lacks sensible action."

"It appears these allegations against the university police force "¦ are unsubstantiated," a spokeswoman for the group said in a statement.

Peters said he was surprised by the national group's statement.

"I can't see why they'd be upset with a group defending Second- and Fourth- Amendment rights, except for the name," he said.

The name - "militia" - is the root of the Peters' problem, according to Ira Margolis, a part-time SUNY student and an NRA trainer who helped organize the aborted NRA lecture.

"It's a bad term - but they're college kids, what do they know? They're still learning," he said.
He also included this follow-on:
NRA cancels presentation at New Paltz

By Jeremiah Horrigan
Times Herald-Record

New Paltz - Something happened to the National Rifle Association on its way to presenting a lecture at SUNY New Paltz yesterday - it "wimped" out.

That was the phrase that came immediately to the lips of several people who learned upon their arrival at a campus lecture hall of the NRA's cancellation of its presentation

Perhaps even more surprisingly, one of the organizers of the event was told the cancellation came as the result of the publicity surrounding a proposed gun-toting militia on campus.

A spokesman for the NRA could not be reached for comment at press time.

Mike Peters, chairman of the College Republican club that sponsored the event, said he was shocked by the cancellation.

Peters had expected to field questions about the proposed militia following the talk.

Instead, he answered questions from students who challenged the need for arms on campus, a challenge that Peters generally agreed with.

He said the news media had sensationalized the issue. "We got attention, much more than we ever expected, but it obscured many other aspects of our arguments," he said.
His comment to me was,
Now, as it happens, this is an interesting stunt, but without high-caliber (hah!) Civil Rights attnys on the speeddial, going to be pretty useless, after all.

But, the NRA cancelled a speech there? Why, couldn't they say "Well, we disagree with how they're going about this, but it's no reason we can't still talk about items of importance to us?"
My reply to him was pretty simple:
As to the "student militia" thing, that's a non-starter, and I sort of understand why the NRA would shy away. The Supreme Court's nineteenth-century Presser v. Illinois decision essentially makes private militias verboten if the State says "No." The students don't have a (legal) leg to stand on. The NRA would rather avoid that topic, I think. The "militia movement" is not one that most people want to embrace, since it's been wrapped by the media in the stink of white supremacy, wild-eyed anarchism, etc., etc.

Students carrying concealed on campus? OK.

Student militia drilling on the quad? Not OK.

My 2¢, YMMV
Presser v. Illinois was the Supreme Court's 1886 follow-on to their infamous 1875 Cruikshank decision. In Cruikshank the Court declared that the Second Amendment only protected individuals against infringement of the right to arms by Congress - i.e., the federal government. If your STATE wanted to violate your right to arms, the federal government had no power to interfere, said the court, despite ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868. The Presser decision was specifically on the topic of private militias. Illinois had a statute on the books prohibiting private militias. The court upheld that law, using Cruikshank as precedent, and leaving Mike Peters with no legal leg to stand on. Neither case has been overturned or even seriously questioned by a later decision.

And unless the NRA and its spokesmen want to come out in favor of private militias and all the baggage that comes with them, they're going to avoid this topic like the plague. There is no "good soundbite" that can come from it.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

"It Must Be Art."

If I don't have the time or inclination to post original content, I'll just plagiarize link.

Quote of the Week, from Tam:
Good ol' Bono. You can always count on just some amazing surrealism from a guy who was happy that the G8 summit was held on his home turf so he could get there via Bentley rather than Gulfstream to deliver his rants about the unfairness of capitalism. I don't know what he's doing; it must be art.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Work, Work, Work.

It's 5:54AM. I'm back at work. Actually, I got here at 5:30, but it takes me about thirty minutes to read my webcomics and The Bleat, check my email, and look for new comments on the blog.

I'll probably get out of here at about 18:00 tonight. Lather, rinse, repeat.

As you might imagine, this is not conducive to blogging. I really am working on that last piece on rights, I'm just doing it really slowly. Posting over the next few days will be, as they say, light.

Thanks for dropping by.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Blogging from Work.

It's Saturday. I'm in the office. Yesterday was Hellday - on the road at 4:00AM, home at 6:00PM - and this included 350 miles of windshield time. I'm trying to get caught up on drawings and quotations, but I'm taking a little break, and what do I find, courtesy of Blognomicon?
Lil' Annie: Go get your gun

When "Little Sure Shot" Annie Oakley became one of the first women superstars as a renown markswoman on Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in the late 1800's, her fancy shooting opened the flood gates to the idea that women had a place behind the trigger of a gun.

Although much has changed since the days of Oakley, women and guns remain somewhat of a taboo subject, while in recent years, the popularity of firearms with women has reached an all time high.

According to a survey taken by the National Rifle Association in 2004, over 17 million American women own some type of firearm.

Slowly, guns have been finding their way into the female populace for reasons ranging from hunting to a sense of security to self-defense.

There is a certain image that is associated with female gun ownership, one of strength and power, (See this piece from 2003. Ed.) but there is also something provocative to it as well. The appeal of firearms among women may be the impression of toughness that exudes from them; something that that says, "keep back."

Women are perceived as more delicate and helpless than their male counterparts, they are the targets of more violent crimes and therefore carry a greater fear of coming into harm's way.

When Smith & Wesson introduced their LadySmith model in 1989, they used the slogan that the handgun would "manage to be elegant without sacrificing any of their practicality."

Taking their message to women a step further, they tread upon a woman's propensity to nurture as a mother figure by reminding women of their responsibility to not only protect the family, but also protect themselves as caretakers of their loved ones.

Anti-gun mom turned firearm-advocate

Fellow gun-toting female Marcia Grann O'Brien, editor for the Narragansett Times, who has raised three children and is now a proud grandmother, was a self-proclaimed "huge anti-gun mom" when her own kids were growing up.

"I wouldn't even let my boys have posters with guns in them," said O'Brien, a Rhode Island native who lived in New York and then moved back to the Ocean State in 1993.

Oddly enough, it was her passion for the anti-gun movement that spurred her eventually love affair with firearms.

In 1995, O'Brien was in an editor's meeting and got wind of a potential story idea surrounding a group of women who frequently gathered at the Warwick Range to practice shoot. O'Brien decided to cover the story out of a sort of morbid curiosity.

"I wanted to see who those crazy women were," she joked. "I said to myself, 'if you are going to do a story on this, you at least need to shoot a gun.'"

She chose the .22-caliber revolver for her first shot.

"I was hooked the first bullet out," said O'Brien. "I loved it. I can't tell you how wonderful and exhilarating it was trying to hit that bulls eye."

Within a week, O'Brien was a gun owner, with her first purchase being her first love, the .22-caliber. She then moved onto a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver and finished her collection with a .45-caliber Eastern European semi-automatic. Shortly afterward she also obtained her Handgun Carry Permit.

"My kids get a huge kick out of it," she said when thinking back to her days as an anti-gun mom, calling her transition "beyond bizarre."

Although O'Brien sticks to target shooting and does not partake in hunting, she said she is not against the idea.

In terms of self-defense, O'Brien made clear that she would absolutely use her weapon to protect herself if she saw no other alternative.

"Running away is always the first choice, but if you can't get away, then you shoot," she clarified. "I feel much safer carrying."

In O'Brien's opinion, regardless of women's slight presence in the gun world compared to that of men, she finds that a women's touch makes for a superior shot.

"Women are better shooters because they don't have a macho thing to prove. So when you instruct them, they listen."

Local gun clubs

Eric Gould, president of the local Wincheck Gun Club in West Greenwich said he has noticed more female members frequenting the club in the last couple of years, although not as many as he would have expected due to its growing popularity.

According to Gould, most of the women he notices inside the club are members' wives who are either there to keep their husbands company or maybe fire off a few rounds for fun.

Although the numbers aren't staggering, Gould estimated that roughly a half a dozen single women have, in recent years, attended the club's firearm training class that they hold once or twice a year.

When the club hosts training classes for West Greenwich police cadets, Gould said he has noticed "quite a few" young women in attendance.

He also said that he has even noticed a handful of "little girls" when the club puts on their firearm education classes for children, as parents want their kids to know gun safety at an early age.

Although, many of the women go to the club's safety courses in order to obtain a permit to carry for protection purposes, according to Gould.

While statistically, women appear to get involved with guns for safety issues, Gould argued that those women who shoot for sport and those who shoot for safety are, in his experience, "all across the board."

"I've seen nurses who want to know how to shoot a gun, especially those who work in the city," said Gould, "but I also know a woman who loves to go deer hunting."

"You see a lot more women buying motorcycles, too," he said, noting that women have been moving out of their set gender roles for some time now. "They are becoming much more self sufficient."

Hunting, sport, and the Constitution

Pat Thompson, regional coordinator for Women in the Outdoors, a program that promotes basic gun safety, preservation of the hunting tradition and educational outdoor opportunities, picked up her first firearm 15 years ago and has never looked back.

Thompson has shot sporting clays competitively in Texas and New York State shooting contests, and she now devotes much of her time to the Women in the Outdoors, coordinating events around Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Like many women, Thompson began shooting as a way to spend time with her husband, who would shoot skeet with his friends often. According to Thompson, her and husband "did everything together," and therefore she would find him reluctant to join his friends at skeet shoots because he felt it was taking time away from her.

After seeing an advertisement in the newspaper for shotgun lessons, Thompson decided to give it a shot, literally.

"I really, really enjoyed it," she said, "and it turns out that I was halfway decent."

As Thompson got more involved with competitive shooting, she became concerned that her constitutional right to bear arms was coming under attack, so she took the road of caution.

Using her already extensive knowledge of firearms, Thompson became certified in shotgun instruction and took several hunting safety courses in order to prove she was a responsible, safety-concerned gun owner.

For her, hunting became the next step in her gun career, although she explained that she never thought of herself joining the hunting community. After deciding to keep her husband company on a hunt, Thompson brought her gun along, but didn't anticipate using it... that was, of course, until she laid eyes on her soon-to-be first kill.

"I saw a deer coming through the woods and I picked up my gun and just fired," she recalled. "It was the most natural thing in the world to harvest an animal."

On the other end of the spectrum, Thompson is also an advocate of women carrying firearms to protect themselves.

"A lot of protection against predators is confidence," stated Thompson, "predators lean toward women who appear to be weak or unsure of themselves, an easy target."

She finds that women who are in possession of a handgun carry themselves differently, deterring potential threats before they happen as well as offering women a means to defend themselves if a dangerous situation arises.
See also my piece How do You Convert a Gun-Phobe? and its follow-on, along with this nearly identical piece from 2004 about the conversion of author Diane Wagman. Excerpt:
Guns are bad. All my life, it's been that simple. At my son's preschool, if a child pointed a banana and said "bang," he was admonished to "use the banana in a happier way." As far as I was concerned, the 2nd Amendment gave us the right to protect ourselves against invading armies, not the right to buy a gun and keep it under our beds.

So what would make someone like me change my mind? I met this gun enthusiast. As research for my new novel, I asked him many questions, all the while voicing my disgust. My character might use a gun, but I never would. "Come to the range," the gun guy said. "I'll teach you to shoot."


First lesson, respect your firearm. I got a little talk about how powerful it was. I learned how to hold it. To load it. And finally to fire it. It was terrifying. The gun was so heavy, I couldn't keep it steady. It took both index fingers to pull the trigger, and then there was a flash of flame, a loud crack, a substantial kick. It was much harder than it looked in the movies.

I occasionally hit the target, but I also managed to obliterate the metal hanger that held it.

I have to admit: I loved it. I had a fantastic time. The power of that gun for me, a 5-foot, 3-inch woman, was immediately, shockingly seductive. The thrill when I hit the bull's-eye (once) was as great as making a perfect tennis shot.
I've said it before: If we want to preserve our right to arms, we must get more people to the range. The only way to convince them that a right to arms is important is to make them understand what it is the other side is trying to take away. And because women make up over 50% of the population, but are a tiny minority of gun owners, educating women should be our top priority.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


There's been a lot of discussion in the blogosphere about the difference between "the pack and the herd." I think the meme got started with an essay, On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs (highly recommended, if you haven't read it) by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman from his book On Combat, but I could be wrong about that. Glenn Reynolds expands a bit on the idea with several posts on the theme of "A pack, not a herd."

An interesting example comes from the December, 2005 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine - a story on the people who dropped everything and headed for New Orleans after Katrina plowed through. I covered one such story here back in September - the story of a man who loaded up his vintage military deuce-and-a-half and drove from Texas into Louisiana to do what he could to help. The Popular Mechanics piece is much the same, though on a little different scale.

One of the people covered is Mike Dillon, owner of Dillon Aero, manufacturer of mini-guns for the U.S. military and Dillon Precision, manufacturer of some of the best reloading equipment available. Mike Dillon owns a couple of helicopters, one of which is a Bell UH-1 Huey. According to the story, The Kindness of Strangers:
It's Saturday, Sept. 3; five days ago, Hurricane Katrina broke the levees of New Orleans and tens of thousands of desperate people are still in the city, trapped at the Superdome, huddled on rooftops and dying in attics.

Suddenly, there's a distinctive whomp-whomp that only old Hueys make; it's Mike Dillon, swinging the helicopter he calls the Blue Ghost onto the flight line. Dillon, 70, is the president of Dillon Aero, in Scottsdale, Ariz., a company that designs and manufactures electric machine guns for the military. On Wednesday, Dillon dropped everything and flew his vintage 1968 Huey here in 16 hours. The spine of the American effort in Vietnam, the Bell UH-1 was the Army's first turbine helicopter, and Dillon's H model can carry about a ton, or 12 people, making it an ideal rescue vehicle. Since his arrival Dillon has been flying almost nonstop under the aegis of the Jefferson Parish sheriff's department. "I saw the catastrophe on TV," he says. "I had the right equipment to help and I could afford to do it. So I called a friend, a high-time ex-Vietnam helicopter pilot, to keep us out of trouble, and here we are."


The Sheriff's Department is treating the city as a war zone and so a fresh set of gunners bearing semiautomatic AR-15s with scopes climb into the Huey and buckle into webbed seats near the thumping bird's open doors in case looters or the desperate overwhelm the helicopter. "Welcome to Dillon Air," yells Vernon Rich, Dillon's crew chief, a Glock 9mm pistol on his belt. Rich, 51, the owner of a precision fabrication shop in Phoenix, has built race cars, served as crew chief for former world land speed record-holder Craig Breedlove, and once tried to recover a World War II-era B-29 bomber from a frozen lake in Greenland. But he's never seen anything like this. "Total chaos," he says, as we rise, bank hard, and head into the city at 80 knots and 300 ft.


No one knows how many civilians came, but they did--in helicopters and airboats, fixed-wing airplanes and runabouts, from Texas, Oklahoma, Florida and New Orleans itself. The civilian effort represents millions of dollars in donated time, hardware, fuel and supplies. In Dillon's case, it costs about $250 per hour to operate the Blue Ghost.
Mike Dillon's contribution was probably on the upper end, cost-wise. He spent four days and 35 air-hours on site, not including the 32-hour round trip to and from Louisiana. Others contributed just as much time, or more however:
Two mornings later the airboats on Napoleon Avenue are lined up like charter boats. Pickups arriving from throughout the South back up hard and then hit the brakes just so. The boats slide right off their trailers. Darel Bryan, a fishing guide from Leeville, La., has already been out for hours. His airboat does not carry its usual smell of fresh redfish and black drum; it stinks of bleach from washing the decks after 14 bodies in black bags pulled from a half-submerged funeral home were piled on his bow.

Bryan's airboat is a "big dog," as his brother Dan puts it--26 ft., powered by a 570 big-block Chevy. The hull is Teflon coated for skimming over wet grass, on which the machine can hit 60 mph. The boats are perfect for shallow, debris-tangled waters, and airboat associations from Texas, Oklahoma, Florida and Louisiana have rallied their members. Bryan sports a ponytail and a goatee, with a lump of chewing tobacco in his cheek. Instead of bow-fishing clients, he guides sheriff's deputies from Bernalillo County, N.M., wearing bulletproof vests and armed with AR-15s. "Right now, I don't have a job," he says, "or a house, either. So I might as well be here."


It has now been six days since the levees holding back Lake Pontchartrain broke, and except for the purr of Jimmy Delery's 250-hp four-stroke Yamaha engine, there isn't a sound as we idle north along Napoleon Avenue out of the Garden District in search of the last waterlogged souls clinging to their homes. The boat isn't Delery's; he commandeered it from somewhere. Looting, after all, is clearly in the eye of the beholder: Earlier in the day a CNN crew griped that National Guardsmen confiscated their rented boat for their own purposes; Delery took what he needed to make rescues; the poor grab food and water from neighborhood stores. Delery, a 50-year-old real estate investor, figures he's pulled 300 people from the waters over the past few days.
But here's the excerpt that prompted this post:
We pass a floater--a dead man lying facedown, spread-eagle on a blue mattress. "He's been here for days," Delery says, munching on barbecue potato chips. That's when it hits me: Delery is happy. So were Rich and Dillon. Dedicated and selfless, yes, but deep down, these men also enjoy the all-consuming intensity of their task. It's the unspoken theme of every war story: Calamity gives people purpose, lightens their souls and makes them feel alive.
Of course. Sheepdogs are happiest when they're working.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Men's Rules.

My wife hadn't seen this before, and when I read it to her she laughed until tears came, so I thought I'd post it here (from a thread at Note that all of the rules are numbered "1".
1. Learn to work the toilet seat.
You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down.

We need it up, you need it down.

You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.
1. Sunday sports range trips.
It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides.

Just let it be.
1. Shopping is NOT a sport.
And no, we are never going to think of it that way.
1. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what you want.
Let us be clear on this one:

Subtle hints do not work!

Strong hints do not work!

Obvious hints do not work!

Just say it!
1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it.
That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.
1. A headache that lasts for 17 months is a problem.
See a doctor.
1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument.
In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 days.
1. If you think you're fat, you probably are.
Don't ask us.
1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.

1. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done.
Not both.

If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.
1. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.

1. Christopher Columbus did not need directions and neither do we.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings.
Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit.

We have no idea what mauve is.
1. If it itches, it will be scratched.
We do that.
1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," we will act like nothing's wrong.
We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.
1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an answer you don't want to hear.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine...Really.

1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as baseball, guns and ballistics, or monster trucks.

1. You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. I am in shape.
Round is a shape.
Thank you for reading this. Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight; but did
you know men really don't mind that? It's like camping.

A Modest Proposal

From President Bush's (Illegal) Immigration Address:
Since I became President, we've increased funding for border security by 66 percent....


Tonight I'm calling on Congress to provide funding for dramatic improvements in manpower and technology at the border.


So we'll increase federal funding for state and local authorities assisting the Border Patrol on targeted enforcement missions.


And I will ask Congress for additional funding and legal authority, so we can end "catch and release" at the southern border once and for all.
Why don't we just pay the Mexicans on a monthly basis to go home and stay there, and cut out the middle-men?

It would slow the expansion of (already horribly bloated, ineffective) government. It would avoid the need to implement the President's "national ID card" - which would at first be for immigrant workers, but would shortly be made mandatory for everyone. It would be cheaper in the long run. (Look at what the illegals are willing to work for, vs. bureaucrat salaries and benefits.)

And unlike the President's recommendations, it might actually work.

And it's welfare. The Left would have to vote in favor!

Game, Set, Match!

(I mean, hell, we're going to dump a mountain of cash on the problem it the hopes of burying it anyway. Now that an issue has been recognized by the .gov, that is the pavlovian Congressional response.)
Truth in Advertising.

Today's PVP strip:

That's exactly what I thought the first time I saw one of those ads.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

And the Choice of Music is INSPIRED!.

Aaron's had enough of being hacked by jihadidiots, so he's put up something sure to pique them into cerebral aneurysms.

Give it a look. Don't be drinking anything when you do.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Enough Already

It is my intention to do whatever I can to ensure that John McCain does not get elected to dogcatcher ever again. First, he co-sponsors the McCain-Feingold incumbent protection "campaign finance reform" bill. Then he defends it, saying,
I would rather have a clean government than one where quote First Amendment rights are being respected, that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I’d rather have the clean government.
This, from a man who swears upon his enstatement in office:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
We know now how much John McCain's word is worth.

Then, last Saturday, John McCain spoke at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University and said this:
When I was a young man, I was quite infatuated with self-expression, and rightly so because, if memory conveniently serves, I was so much more eloquent, well-informed, and wiser than anyone else I knew. It seemed I understood the world and the purpose of life so much more profoundly than most people. I believed that to be especially true with many of my elders, people whose only accomplishment, as far as I could tell, was that they had been born before me, and, consequently, had suffered some number of years deprived of my insights. I had opinions on everything, and I was always right. I loved to argue, and I could become understandably belligerent with people who lacked the grace and intelligence to agree with me. With my superior qualities so obvious, it was an intolerable hardship to have to suffer fools gladly. So I rarely did. All their resistance to my brilliantly conceived and cogently argued views proved was that they possessed an inferior intellect and a weaker character than God had blessed me with, and I felt it was my clear duty to so inform them. It’s a pity that there wasn't a blogosphere then. I would have felt very much at home in the medium.
Instead, he got a little older, kept the sense of complete superiority over all other mortals, and got himself elected Senator. There he could conclude that the only accomplishment of the Founders was that they'd been born before him, too.

Still unwilling to suffer fools gladly, he could now use his elected office to dictate to those of us with inferior intellects who had put him there, and kept putting him there.

I was reminded by the Senator's little diatribe of an excerpt from David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed on the poor state of education in Colonial Virginia:
When asked in 1671 by the Lords of Trade about the state of schools in Virginia (Governor William Berkley) made a famous reply: "I thank God," he declared, "there are no free schools nor printing, and I hope we shall not have these [for a] hundred years; for learning has brought disobedience, and heresy, and sects into the world, and printing has divulged them, libels against the best government. God keep us from both!"
Politicians haven't changed much, but at least Governor Berkley was appointed, not elected. Senator McCain makes a similar protest against the blogosphere - essentially, "Can no one rid me of of this troublesome priest?"

In McCain's eyes the blogosphere is full of nothing but opinionated teenagers.

I'm 44, and I vote. I'm a blogger, and I have a voice. And if I have anything to say about it, this is McCain's last term in elected office.

ANYBODY but McCain. He and everyone who voted for McCain-Feingold ought to be ejected from the House and Senate on grounds of violation of their oaths of office. And McCain should be tarred and feathered for good measure.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

3rd Blogiversary.

On Wednesday, May 14, 2003 I started The Smallest Minority. According to Blogger, this is my 2117th post, and according to Sitemeter, this blog has received (as of this writing) 557,464 site visits and 675,975 page views since I signed up for the service in, I think, June or July of 2003. According to Haloscan, there are over 10,000 comments archived. TSM is, according to The Truth Laid Bear, a "Large Mammal" in his "ecosystem," curently ranked 832nd out of over 50,000 blogs tracked. Technorati ranks TSM as 10,278th out of the 39.4 million sites it tracks. Depending on how often I post, and how popular those posts are, my site traffic ranges from 450-850 hits a day (about 550 lately, since I haven't been writing much).

At the Nation of Riflemen shoot up at Ben Avery a couple of weeks ago, a reader came up to me and said "I've been reading your blog for the last four years!" What I said to him was "You couldn't have. I've only been posting for three." Forgive me. I was feeling ill. What I should have said was "It only seems that long!"

I've met, both online and in meatspace, a lot of great people through this blog, and had hours and hours of interesting and thought-provoking (and research-provoking) discussions. And it's provided me a place to vent, most importantly. I am pleased and somewhat humbled by the fact that there are so many people out there willing to take the time to read what I write, much less comment on it. I know that you're busy, and I appreciate that you spend some of your busy day here.

I am also encouraged to see more and more voices like mine out there. The number of "gunbloggers" when I started was, as far as I knew, pretty small, but it has grown and grown over the last three years. We have a voice, and we're using it. This is a good thing. And we're being read - this is a better thing.

Anyway, the point of this post is to thank you for dropping by. I write this stuff mostly for me, but if no one read it, I doubt I'd keep it up. Like most bloggers, I experience periodic episodes of burn-out, and also like most bloggers, real life interferes from time to time. But I don't have any plans to stop any time soon.

Oh, and Happy Mother's Day, everybody.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

I Can't Wait to See the Feature-Length Version...

...of Battlestar Simpsonica! (h/t, Banana Oil!)


In his email to me, Professor Saul Cornell asked,
I wonder how you feel about Nelson Lund's NRA chair at GMU law school. Would you say he is shilling for NRA?
To which I answered: "Yes." defines "shill":

One who poses as a satisfied customer or an enthusiastic gambler to dupe bystanders into participating in a swindle.


1. To act as a shill for (a deceitful enterprise).

2. To lure (a person) into a swindle.
I must apologize to Mr. Lund.

I truly think that both Mr. Lund and Professor Cornell believe that which they profess. They are not attempting deceit as they see it. Each is professing honestly held beliefs. (At least, I hope so.)

The difference, however, is in how closely those beliefs relate to reality, and how much each person is willing to ignore or even manipulate fact in order to promote their own particular world-view.

It was this willingness to avoid or manipulate that prompted Sanford Levinson to write The Embarrassing Second Amendment. He wanted to put a spotlight on the fact that the meaning of the Second Amendment was avoided in modern law simply because it made so many people uncomfortable. He wrote:
I cannot help but suspect that the best explanation for the absence of the Second Amendment from the legal consciousness of the elite bar, including that component found in the legal academy, is derived from a mixture of sheer opposition to the idea of private ownership of guns and the perhaps subconscious fear that altogether plausible, perhaps even "winning," interpretations of the Second Amendment would present real hurdles to those of us supporting prohibitory regulation.
Note that he included himself in that group supporting "prohibitory regulation."

I've said before that I really started studying the topic of the right to arms - and, by extension, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights - starting about 1995. I have stated that I had a certain understanding of that right, and in fact all of the rights protected by that document before I began that study. To some extent, my education has lead me to some conclusions I don't particularly care for. For instance, I think state-permitted concealed-carry is historically justifiable (but prohibition of unlicensed open carry is not.) The one thing I have noted, however, is that when people actually take the time to study the topic, the conversion of opinion goes only one way: If they believe the right to arms is an individual one, their opinion is not changed. If they believe there is no individual right to arms, either they are converted to the opposite belief, however grudgingly, or their personal prejudices prevent them from doing so. But no one is converted from believing that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to an opposite conclusion. The evidence is too overwhelming.

The best example of this I know of is Professor Laurence Tribe. Professor Tribe is a professor of Law at Harvard, and is author of the textbook American Constitutional Law, which is used in (I believe) the majority of ConLaw classes in the U.S. Professor Tribe is a self-described member of the Left, and was a member of Al Gore's legal team during the 2000 election debacle. I have absolutely no doubt about Professor Tribe's position concerning gun control - he's in favor of it. In the first two editions of his textbook, printed in 1978 and 1988 respectively, he relegated discussion of the Second Amendment to footnotes. But in his third edition, published in 2000, he dedicated nine pages to the topic, concluding:
Perhaps the most accurate conclusion one can reach with any confidence is that the core meaning of the Second Amendment is a populist / republican / federalism one: Its central object is to arm 'We the People' so that ordinary citizens can participate in the collective defense of their community and their state. But it does so not through directly protecting a right on the part of states or other collectivities, assertable by them against the federal government, to arm the populace as they see fit. Rather the amendment achieves its central purpose by assuring that the federal government may not disarm individual citizens without some unusually strong justification consistent with the authority of the states to organize their own militias. That assurance in turn is provided through recognizing a right (admittedly of uncertain scope) on the part of individuals to possess and use firearms in the defense of themselves and their homes -- not a right to hunt for game, quite clearly, and certainly not a right to employ firearms to commit aggressive acts against other persons -- a right that directly limits action by Congress or by the Executive Branch and may well, in addition, be among the privileges or immunities of United States citizens protected by §1 of the Fourteenth Amendment against state or local government action.
A November 1999 Wall Street Journal piece, Liberals Have Second Thoughts On the Second Amendment discusses the topic as well. (The galley prints of Prof. Tribe's book were out by then - and were already stirring controversy.)
Mr. Tribe believes the right to bear arms is limited, subject to "reasonable regulation in the interest of public safety," as he and Yale Law Professor Akhil Reed Amar wrote in the New York Times last month. But Mr. Tribe has written that people on both sides of the policy divide face an "inescapable tension. . . between the reading of the Second Amendment that would advance the policies they favor and the reading of the Second Amendment to which intellectual honesty, and their own theories of Constitutional interpretation, would drive them."

Journalist Daniel Lazare, a liberal gun-control advocate, acknowledges the tension, writing in Harper's: "The truth about the Second Amendment is something that liberals cannot bear to admit: The right wing is right." Mr. Lazare argues for amending the Constitution to repeal the Second Amendment.
And there is the point I want to make with this piece. Daniel Lazare wrote to the WSJ in response to the piece:
Ms. Levey is right that I agree with constitutional scholars like Sanford Levinson and Laurence Tribe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms. But she is wrong elsewhere.
First of all, she describes me as a liberal. In fact, I'm a socialist.
Second, she calls me a "gun-control advocate." In fact, nowhere in my Harper's article, "Your Constitution is Killing You," did I specifically argue in favor of gun control; all I said, rather, is that if that is what the democratic majority wants, that is what the democratic majority should get, Second Amendment or no Second Amendment.
Third, she says that I argue in favor of "amending the Constitution to repeal the Second Amendment." Not so: I devoted much of it to pointing out that the amending process is quite useless in this instance. Under the terms set forth in Article V, as few as 13 states representing less than 5% of the population can block any change desired by the emaining 95%. Given that no one would have any trouble drawing up a list of 13 rural states in the South or West, states for whom repealing the Second Amendment would be akin to repealing the four Gospels, the amendment is, under anything like present conditions, invulnerable. Even though polls indicate that a majority of Americans do not want an individual right to bear arms, a Constitution made in the name of the people says that is what the people must have whether they like it or not.
This is anything but democratic. Rather than amending the Constitution, my position is that we should toss this antiquated document and create a new plan of government from scratch, this time one based on strict majority rule.
Daniel Lazare
New York
There is an honest man. A fucking socialist, but an honest man.

Which, in my humble opinion, Professor Saul Cornell is not. (Honest, not socialist - though he might be that as well.) He is at best a self-deluded man. He twists logic, consciously or unconsciously, to justify a position that cannot be reasonably held by someone willing to look reality squarely in the face. As I said to him previously:
You, an historian, have taken it upon yourself to distort history - something that you yourself claim is unacceptable. You claim that the Justice department's recognition of the "standard model" of the Second Amendment is somehow "well beyond" a "living document" re-interpretation. I'm sorry, Professor, but if you actually believe that you're delusional, and if you know better you're a bald-faced liar. I honestly cannot tell which.
And I can't.

But it doesn't really matter. He's working willingly for the Joyce Foundation - a group dedicated to, among other things, disarming Americans. David Hardy has an interesting post from April of last year concerning the Professor, his association with the Joyce Foundation, and a symposium put on by Fordham University. Hardy notes:
You must, of course, apply to Joyce for a grant. And its standards make it clear that the project -- or in this case law review -- is expected to advance the enactment of gun legislation (buzzword = "policy").
The Gun Violence Program supports efforts to bring the firearms industry under comprehensive consumer product health and safety oversight as the most promising long-term strategy for reducing deaths and injuries from handguns and other firearms.
Program priorities are:
• Supporting state-based policy initiatives in Illinois and Wisconsin that can achieve meaningful reforms and provide a model for gun policy nationwide ....
• Supporting focused research to inform state policy efforts.
From its grant FAQ,
Do you fund educational programs in violence prevention? We generally do not fund such programs.
Do you fund research? We fund research that is likely to have a strong impact on public policy.
Please tell me more about your focus on public policy. We focus our grantmaking on initiatives that promise to have an influence on public policies. That includes advancing the public debate about important policy issues, most notably the need for federal consumer product health and safety standards for the firearm industry. We believe such policy initiatives can lead to broad, systemic changes that affect the most people over the long run.
In other words: don't come to us with a law review that will explore the Second Amendment. Come to us with an idea for one that will help enact gun laws. That is what we fund.
Now, I'm sure the professor would point out that Nelson Lund is under similar restrictions regarding NRA funding - they don't support anti-gun research, either.

But the NRA isn't trying to swindle Americans out of their Constitutionally guaranteed rights.

And that IS a difference.

UPDATE, 5/15: I sent an email to Prof. Lund with a link to this piece. He responds:
Mr. Baker--

Thanks for your message and consideration. I took a quick look at the web page to which you provided a link, and feel that I should point out that it is incorrect to say that "Nelson Lund is under similar restrictions regarding NRA funding - they don't support anti-gun research, either." My academic work is under no such restrictions. The dean of my law school has designated me the Patrick Henry Professor of Constitutional Law and the Second Amendment. I do not answer to the donor, any more than hundreds or thousands of other holders of named professorships in this country answer to those who donated funds to establish the chairs. Nor has my dean ever so much as suggested that I am under any obligation to conform my views or the results of my research to the preferences, presumed or expressed, of the donor that provided funds for the professorship to which I was named. In short, I am perfectly free to publish "anti-gun research" if that is where the search for truth leads me, and I do not believe I would suffer any financial penalty of any sort if I did so.

If you could find a way to alert your readers to these facts, I would be grateful.

Nelson Lund
Consider it done.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Prof. Cornell Responds!

I'll give him credit for that, anyway. Here is his email in its entirety:

Thanks for the e-mail. I wonder how you feel about Nelson Lund's NRA chair at GMU law school. Would you say he is shilling for NRA? Any way, I am in the midst of grading essays so I can't respond to all of the errors in your blog. I think you confuse laws aimed at preventing slave revolts and the infamous Black Codes enacted after the Civil War, with earlier laws aimed at reducing gun violence. I agree with you that Tucker is quite important, but I fear you have taken his writings out of context. Tucker's primary concern is with the danger posed by disarmament of the militias during the Alien and Sedition Crisis, not an individual right of self defense. The latter right was well established under common law and Federalists showed no interest in enacting laws that might impact this right. What Tucker wished to guard was the right of citizens to keep and bear arms in state controlled militias. In this sense, this aspect of Tucker's thought does not fit either of the modern theories of the Second Amendment. I suggest you read my forthcoming book on the subject. You will find quite a few surprises in it.
In regard to Mr. Lund, the answer is "yes." Like yourself, Professor, I'm certain Mr. Lund believes what he says, but I also believe he wouldn't be sitting in an NRA-endowed chair if he wasn't aligned with the NRA's agenda.

I've taken Tucker out of context? I quoted, so far as I know, the entire passage concerning Tucker's understanding of the Second Amendment. I find it difficult to believe I have misinterpreted Tucker when he says "The right of self defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible," and "Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction. In England, the people have been disarmed, generally, under the specious pretext of preserving the game: a never failing lure to bring over the landed aristocracy to support any measure, under that mask, though calculated for very different purposes. True it is, their bill of rights seems at first view to counteract this policy: but the right of bearing arms is confined to protestants, and the words suitable to their condition and degree, have been interpreted to authorise the prohibition of keeping a gun or other engine for the destruction of game, to any farmer, or inferior tradesman, or other person not qualified to kill game. So that not one man in five hundred can keep a gun in his house without being subject to a penalty."

He's talking about the individual rights of possession and self-defense, and organized defense against tyrannical government. What part did I get wrong? And are you not championing "robust regulation" - by government - up to and including "broad-scale prohibition?" The very thing Tucker decried? Sorry Professor, but that's more pretzel-logic.

After your book comes out, I'll see if I can pick one up on the used market. I'm sure it will be as fascinating and fact-filled as Michael Bellesiles' Arming America.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Saul Cornell, Unbiased Researcher

Professor Saul Cornell of Ohio State University and I have had our differences before. Back in February of last year Prof. Cornell (then associate professor) published an op-ed in a number of papers that lit my fuse, so I fisked it, and sent him a link to the post. To my surprise, he responded. I was surprised that he responded. I was not surprised by the response. In March I received a nice email from a student at OSU who had penned a story for the school's alternate student paper, The Sentinel, entitled Something's Fishy at the John Glenn Institute, noting that the "Second Amendment Research Center" at the John Glenn Institute was established with a $400,000 grant from The Joyce Foundation. It's a good piece.

The Geek with a .45 has done a lot of research on the Joyce Foundation and who and what it supports. That's worth a read, too.

Anyway, it looks like the good Professor is still earning his grant money, as Rob Smith has discovered yet another op-ed by that unbiased historian, entitled Reconstructing the Second Amendment. Let us fisk:
Reconstructing the Second Amendment

By Saul Cornell
History News Service

Few issues in America are more controversial than guns. Yet even among hot button topics in American public life there is something perverse about the dynamics of the debate over guns.
Only since we've figured out that your side intends to disarm us, the law-abiding. Controversial, yes, but I don't consider it "perverse." Interesting choice of word though, don't you think?
Polling data for decades have shown that most Americans favor stronger gun laws. Indeed, surveys demonstrate that such policies are even supported by most gun owners. Yet pundits and political soothsayers have written off this issue because it is perceived to be a loser at the polls.
That's because the issue IS a loser at the polls. Yes, when interviewed with generic questions most people say they want "more effective gun laws," (who wouldn't?) but almost every time your side proposes a specific "next step" the response at the ballot box is "Not THAT!!"
Gun rights and gun control have long histories. Although both sides in the great American gun debate have claimed to have history on their side, each has presented a version of the past that is highly selective.
True, to some extent.
One of the many embarrassing truths about the debate over the right to bear arms that neither side wishes to admit is that gun rights ideology is the illegitimate and spurned child of gun control.
Au contraire, mon ami. One of the most embarrassing truths about the debate over the right to bear arms is that gun control is the illegitimate and spurned child of racist laws designed to disarm blacks after the Civil War. Want to discuss that topic? I believe I mentioned that in the initial rebuttal to a Saul Cornell op-ed.
Efforts at gun control, particularly policies aimed at broad-scale prohibitions of firearms, have generally led to an intensification of gun rights rhetoric and activism.
You don't say. I can't imagine why "broad-scale prohibition" would raise our ire. Is that the "perverse" reaction the professor was alluding to?
Understanding the history of this tangled relationship, one of American history's more bizarre examples of ideological co-dependency, may provide some insights into how we might move this debate forward and break this cycle.
Hmm... perversion and co-dependency. Interesting how the professor - of history - is couching his argument in terms of abnormal psychology, isn't it? Do you think he's implying anything?
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's recent summit on gun violence reminds us that this is not the first time in American history that gun violence and gun control have been on the minds of New Yorkers. DeWitt Clinton, mayor from 1803 to 1815, bemoaned the problem posed by handguns almost 200 years ago.
Yes, I believe DeWitt Clinton fought a duel in 1802, shooting his challenger, John Swartwout, once in the thigh and once in the ankle. (They exchanged five shots during the duel.) I imagine he had some interesting things to say about gun violence and gun control. Too bad Prof. (of history) Cornell didn't bother to tell us any of them. As to New York and gun control, the thing that comes immediately to my mind is New York's 1911 Sullivan Law that made it mandatory to get a permit from the police to possess a handgun in the city. You have to wonder just who it was they were trying to disarm, don't you? And were they successful?

Well, if Mayor Bloomberg has found it necessary to hold a "gun summit," 95 years after the passage of that law, it would appear not. So that "next step" would seem to be San Francisco's "broad-scale prohibition," wouldn't it? It's worked so well in Washington D.C.
As long as there have been guns in America there have been regulations governing their use and storage.
Really? Use, yes, but storage?
Without government direction there would have been no body of Minutemen to muster on the town greens at Lexington and Concord.
Minutemen who brought their own guns from their own homes where how they were stored was no business of the government? What was that argument again?
If the Founders had imbibed the strong gun rights ideology that drives today's gun debate we would all be drinking tea and singing, "God save our gracious Queen."
This is the thing about Prof. Cornell that just floors me. He attempts to invert reality in his op-eds, counting that his position as an "authority" will convince the ignorant. In the first piece I fisked the good Professor insisted that it was "activist judges" who were responsible for "striking down existing gun laws," and that returning to the original understanding of the Second Amendment in his words, "goes well beyond the idea of interpreting the Constitution as a living document that must respond to changing times." Now, according to the esteemed Professor, if the Founders had really believed that citizens should have the right to keep and bear arms, we'd have lost the Revolutionary war!

I have to wonder what color the sky is in Professor Cornell's world. Green, probably. That Joyce Foundation money must be really impressive. (Actually, I think the Professor really thinks like this regardless of where his grant money comes from, but I'm sure he's more than happy to have it.)
Ironically, the Second Amendment does not prohibit robust gun regulation, it compels it.
Let's see what the Second Amendment really says:
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
So, if we change the language to say "A well-read populace, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and carry books, shall not be infringed," it compels "robust regulation" of the possession (and storage) of books?

I don't see it. But then, I don't live in Prof. Cornell's topsy-turvey world, either. Ironic, isn't it?
Today's gun rights ideology is antithetical to the original understanding of the Second Amendment and only emerged in the 19th century when individual states began passing the first gun control laws to deal with the new problems posed by hand guns.
No, today's gun rights ideology is antithetical to the gun control laws first passed in the 19th century that were written to deal with the new problems of armed free black citizens. Let me quote Chief Justice Taney from his late 18th century decision in Dred Scott v. Sanford again:
(Citizenship) "would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognized as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a white man would be punished; and it would give them the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went. And all of this would be done in the face of the subject race of the same color, both free and slaves, and inevitably producing discontent and insubordination among them, and endangering the peace and safety of the State." (My emphasis)
Let's see, the Chief Justice gave a pretty good list of the rights of citizens in the United States that were protected by the Constitution, didn't he? But Prof. Cornell wants you to believe that the laws passed that were intended to disarm blacks were actually in response to the introduction of handguns. (Even though handguns had been around since long before the 18th century.) Just like he wants you to believe that if the Founders had really believed in a right to arms, we'd have lost the Revolutionary War.

I'm not buying, Professor.
There is much to be learned from America's first gun violence crisis and the first gun-control movement.
I'll say. And it's not the bilge you're selling.
It is not surprising that during that struggle gun rights supporters tried to lay claim to the Second Amendment by reinterpreting it as an individual right of self-defense.
Um, sorry. Professor, you're supposedly an historian. Haven't you heard of St. George Tucker and American Blackstone, his 1803 (that's 19th century ante-bellum) legal text? A text that came out during the same period in which DeWitt Clinton lived and fought his pistol duel? Quoting Tucker on the Second Amendment:
This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty. . . . The right of self defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction. In England, the people have been disarmed, generally, under the specious pretext of preserving the game: a never failing lure to bring over the landed aristocracy to support any measure, under that mask, though calculated for very different purposes. True it is, their bill of rights seems at first view to counteract this policy: but the right of bearing arms is confined to protestants, and the words suitable to their condition and degree, have been interpreted to authorise the prohibition of keeping a gun or other engine for the destruction of game, to any farmer, or inferior tradesman, or other person not qualified to kill game. So that not one man in five hundred can keep a gun in his house without being subject to a penalty.
St. George Tucker, arguably one of the greatest authorities on American law during the period immediately after Ratification understood the Second Amendment as a protection of the individual right of self-defense, and the individual right of the possession of arms.

Yet the good Professor of HISTORY insists that no, no! That's a modern reinterpretation of the Second Amendment! A reinterpretation that "goes well beyond the idea of interpreting the Constitution as a living document that must respond to changing times."

Again, I'm not buying. I'm experiencing deja moo - I've heard this bullshit before.
This argument continues to be effectively employed by opponents of gun regulation.
Perhaps because it's true?
Modern gun-control proponents have generally been embarrassed by the Second Amendment, viewing it as an anachronism.
As beautifully described by a real student of history, Law Professor Sanford Levinson in his 1989 Yale Law Journal paper The Embarrassing Second Amendment where he wrote:
I cannot help but suspect that the best explanation for the absence of the Second Amendment from the legal consciousness of the elite bar, including that component found in the legal academy, is derived from a mixture of sheer opposition to the idea of private ownership of guns and the perhaps subconscious fear that altogether plausible, perhaps even "winning," interpretations of the Second Amendment would present real hurdles to those of us supporting prohibitory regulation. Thus the title of this essay--The Embarrassing Second Amendment--for I want to suggest that the Amendment may be profoundly embarrassing to many who both support such regulation and view themselves as committed to zealous adherence to the Bill of Rights....
Such people as Professor Saul Cornell, who must twist himself into a logical pretzel to make the arguments he keeps making - and getting published across the country on the basis that he's a professor of history, and must therefore be an unbiased and informed voice only interested in educating the hoi polloi.
Early proponents of gun regulation did not make the same mistake. Rather than dismiss the Second Amendment as a remnant of America 's revolutionary past, they venerated it, reminding their opponents that the Second Amendment was about an obligation citizens owed to their government and communities to contribute to public defense.
No, they couched their arguments in terms of "public safety" while nudging and winking at each other because their intent was merely to disarm blacks and other minorities - in direct violation of the Second and Fourteenth Amendments.
They also staked out another right that has not been much talked about recently in this debate: a right to be free from the fear of gun violence.
Yes, this is a new topic - the "right" to be free - not of "gun violence," but the fear of it.

A right to be free of fear. Who thought that one up?
What does all of this mean for the contemporary gun debate? Proponents of gun control must not demonize gun owners, particularly given the fact that most gun owners support reasonable gun regulation. Any solution to America's gun problem must have the support of gun owners.
Read: "We must confuse and trick them into giving up what they will not otherwise yield willingly."
Rather than abandon the Second Amendment and dismiss it as a relic of another era, supporters of gun regulation need to reclaim this part of our constitutional heritage.
"Just so long as, you know, we don't acknowledge that it actually protects anything."
Supporters of regulation need to point out that liberty without regulation is impossible. The right to be free from the threat of gun violence deserves as much respect as the right to bear arms.
Tell me, Professor, do I have a "right" to be free of the fear of, say, cancer? The "right" to be free of the fear of man-made pollutants? The "right" to be free of the fear of car accidents? The "right" to be free of the fear of being the victim of a violent crime committed with a weapon other than a firearm? The "right" to be free of the fear of a planet-killing asteroid? Global warming? Alien abduction?

Rob Smith has it absolutely right:
I have just one question: Why is it that the more imaginary "rights" people invent, the less personal freedom I have?
And why didn't the Salt Lake Tribune note that Prof. Cornell was also Director of the Second Amendment Research Center at the John Glenn Institute at Ohio State University?

Saturday, May 06, 2006


The company I've worked the last 20 years for supports the copper mining industry. From about late 1999 through the first quarter of 2004, copper prices were below a dollar a pound. Depending on the mine, it costs $0.60 to over a dollar to produce. Needless to say, the mines weren't very profitable, and they didn't spend very much of the money they weren't making. Not much was spent on preventive maintenance, and a lot of them cut back or just shut down. We went from supporting about five mining companies and fifteen or so mines to two mining companies and about six mines. Our competition fared about as well. We're still here. Many of them are not.

Look at this chart, though:

Remember, if the price is over a dollar a pound, it's profit.

Needless to say, we're just a wee bit busy at the moment, as every property within reach and outside of it is doing everything in their power to make every ounce of copper they can. They're doing stuff like buying equipment to increase production, but not installing it because that would require turning off production for a couple of days. On top of that, during the downward trend we diversified into other areas - sand & gravel, lime, coal, cement, asphault, general industry. The economy in those sectors has improved as well. (It's all George Bush's fault.)

What I'm trying to illustrate here is I'm really busy. In fact, I'll be at the office the rest of the day working on a couple of bids. One runs about $2 million, the other, well into six figures. One's due Monday, the other Thursday, but I will be out of the office on Monday and Tuesday (six to seven hour round-trips both days, plus time on site.)

Let's just say that if I don't get anything posted over the next few days, it won't be because I'm lazy.

I'm still working on that (hopefully) last piece on rights. I may (!) get it finished on Sunday, but don't hold your breath.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Han Shot First!

In 1977 I was fifteen years old. Star Wars was a phenomenon, and I was the perfect target for it - the adolescent male geek. I was first in line for the opening of Empire Strikes Back, and not far back for Return of the Jedi. When these films came out on VHS, I bought them.

When Lucas "remastered" them, I went to see them.

I was not impressed. So much so that I own this t-shirt:

I wore it to the range last Saturday, as a matter of fact.

My grandson, now six, is a major Star Wars fan, having damn near worn my video tapes out. To my knowledge, he's never seen the bastardized "director's cut" editions. I've never purchased them - and I won't.

And I won't have to:
Lucasfilm Goes Back to Star Wars 1.0

In spite of strong statements from creator George Lucas that 2004's digitally remastered, restored, and enhanced versions of his original Star Wars triology were the definitive versions of his films, Fox and Lucasfilm have announced they will release new two-disc DVD sets that will include the original versions of Star Wars,The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi as they were originally shown in theaters when released in 1977, 1980, and 1983, respectively, along with the remastered "definitive" version. The movies will be priced at $30 each and will go on sale September 12, 2006, and be available only until December 31, 2006.

"Over the years, a truly countless number of fans have told us that they would love to see and own the original version that they remember experiencing in theaters," said Jim Ward, President of LucasArts and Senior Vice President of Lucasfilm Ltd. "We returned to the Lucasfilm Archives to search exhaustively for source material that could be presented on DVD. This is something that we're very excited to be able to give to fans in response to their continuing enthusiasm for Star Wars."

The video quality of the original theatrical versions will not be as high as 2004's remastered versions, and Lucasfilm is reportedly adamant that Lucas has not changed his mind about which versions he considers authoritative. But re-releasing the theatrical version is a concession to fans, and—master of merchandizing that Lucas is—the films' creator seems to have found a way to satisfy those requests while keeping the Star Wars money train rolling.

Star Wars fans of a certain generation will be happy to point out what they feel are significant differences between the films, aside from effects shots. In the words of one colleague, "C'mon. Han shot first! Really, all that needs to be said."
Damned straight.

I'm still a geek, and proud of it.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Including the Majestik Møøse.
Moose rampage in Skien
A Møøse once bit my sister...
Chaos resulted when three moose paid a visit to downtown Skien on Wednesday morning.
No realli!
"We got 70 phone calls from people who were afraid of the moose. Because there were several of them. At least three moose had strayed into the city. Unfortunately one of these had to be put down by the wildlife committee, near the Skien Library," operation leader Åge Halvorsen of the Telemark police told news agency NTB.
She was Karving her initials øn the møøse with the sharpened end of an interspace tøøthbrush given her by Svenge - her brother-in-law -an Oslo dentist and star of many Norwegian møvies: "The Høt Hands of an Oslo Dentist", "Fillings of Passion", "The Huge Mølars of Horst Nordfink"...
"It's unusual for three moose to be downtown at the same time," Helge Røssaker told newspaper Varden after felling the moose.

"It is important that people keep their dogs leashed, you can't be reminded of that often enough. And a moose in the city is nothing to fool with, if you meet a moose downtown, retreat and call police," Røssaker said.
Mynd you, møøse bites Kan be pretty nasti...
The wildlife committee worked in concert with the police to track down the others. They managed to lead two of the animals out of the city and back to the woods.

The large animals had by then wandered through a day care center, and according to reports by NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting), pulled down fences and dented several cars.
After a few hours the situation seemed to be under control.

"At least we haven't had any more calls," Halvorsen said.
The directors of the firm hired to continue the credits after the other people had been sacked, wish it to be known that they have just been sacked.

Brought to you by "RALPH" The Wonder Llama.

(And I wonder how many fans of Python are in my audience?)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


First we embraced the sobriquet "gun nut." Then we were the "guys in pajamas." Some of us thought the tag "digital brownshirt" went too far, but what the hell, considering the source.

But now?


From Captain's Quarter's:
Our friends on the port side of the blogosphere have had quite a time tossing around funny little nicknames for those of us who support the war on terror and use our blogs to express our convictions about it. We've seen the names here at CQ in the comments section -- the term "chickenhawk" has appeared more than once, and others in the blogosphere have assigned us to a unit called the 101st Fighting Keyboardists.

I've thought about that for a while, wondering what exactly about both epithets appear so fascinating to left-wing bloggers.


That's why Frank J of IMAO, Derek Brigham of Freedom Dogs, and I have decided to create -- for real -- the 101st Fighting Keyboardists and adopt the chicken hawk as our mascot. First of all, the term "fighting keyboardist" describes our efforts pretty well, and we think the pseudo-military terminology is pretty danged amusing. Derek himself designed the logo.

And why the chicken hawk? When we looked into it, it turns out that the chicken hawk is a pretty impressive predator. It's the largest of its family. This species vigorously defends its territory, getting even more aggressive when the conditions get harshest. It adapts to all climates. Most impressively, it feeds on chickens, mice, and rats.

Make of that what you will.
Been there, done that:
"If you are so gung ho about Our Glorious Leader's excellent adventure in Iraq, you'd think you'd have the balls to enlist. Of course, it IS safer to fight your battles from behind the safety of your keyboard, eh?" - Jack Cluth, 12.15.05 - 11:29 am
I think I'd be proud to call myself a Keebee.

Captain Ed reports that the Left is not amused.

Of course not. They had their sense of humor surgically removed.

I've Been a Baaaad Blogger.

Sorry about that. I've been busier than the proverbial cat covering..., um, one-legged man in an..., er, one-armed paper-hanger. I managed to have a bout of porphyria over the weekend. (My episodes are comparatively mild - compared, that is, to what they could be. They're no damned fun, I'll tell you that.) I spent a lot of last week getting ready for the meet-n-shoot (that just doesn't sound right...) then didn't get to really attend it.

And yes, y'all, I am that asocial normally. As I noted in comments, I'm a much more outgoing person in print.

But I haven't been posting much. My apologies. Anyway, I'm working on not one, but two new essays. One is in response to Sarah's question from March. (No, I'm not avoiding it. Just haven't gotten around to it.) The other, which I'll finish first - because in part it's a lead-in to the second piece (I hope) - will be one more component of "The 'Rights' Discussion" series. Hopefully (but doubtfully) it will provide closure on that particular topic.

I'd also like to note that Publicola has fired another shot across the bow concerning the philosophical differences between the Absolutists and the Incrementalists. I'm not sure if I'm going to comment on that again or not.

OK, I will, very briefly. Publicola wrote:
While it may seem so, in reality the Shall Issue permit laws are simply reinforcing the legislature's belief that they have the authority to regulate, condone or prohibit what is a Right. It's just that in the case of Shall Issue they're condoning the carrying of arms, albeit conditionally, so those who don't look deeper than the surface see this as a good thing.

But once a legislature establishes that they may permit something it is fallacy to believe they cannot prohibit something. The same states that permit you to carry with the right piece of paper can turn around at any time & prohibit carrying arms permission slip or no.

Where my "greedy" solution is preferable is that once a Right is established & recognized by law it's much harder to do away with it at a legislature's whim.
Where "shall issue" didn't (or did) previously exist, the legislature already had the power to regulate, condone, or prohibit what is a Right. The Supreme Court said so in U.S. v. Cruikshank in 1875, and again in Presser v. Illinois in 1886. No Court since has overturned that power.

I've said it before: The Courts Will Not Save Us. (Hint: See left sidebar.)

Anyway, I will again be posting excruciatingly long, verbose, intricately linked pieces. Just not right at the moment.

And hopefully, I'll get some short posts in every now and then, too.

Quote of the Week.

Comedian Stephen Colbert to Ohio Representative Stephanie Tubbs-Jones:
Twenty-two astronauts were born in Ohio. What is it about your state that makes people want to flee the earth?
I don't know why, but that made me laugh out loud when I read it.