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

Friday, October 31, 2008

Noonan's Response

Peggy Noonan has her own web page, unsurprisingly enough, and several days ago I made use of her contact page to ask her a question. It says right on the contact page:
(O)wing to the amount of spam I have received in the past, messages are not forwarded to me until they have been reviewed. That generally results in a delay of a day or two before I see the message.
I imagine she's received a flood of mail since she endorsed Obama, so I'm not all that surprised that my little missive has apparently not reached her notice.

I didn't save it, but I remember the gist of it. It was, after all, a variation of the one I sent to Rev. Donald Sensing. In Ms. Noonan's case, the piece she wrote was Oct. 27th, 2005's A Separate Peace, which inspired my essay, Tough History Coming. I quoted from her column:
Do people fear the wheels are coming off the trolley? Is this fear widespread? A few weeks ago I was reading Christopher Lawford's lovely, candid and affectionate remembrance of growing up in a particular time and place with a particular family, the Kennedys, circa roughly 1950-2000. It's called "Symptoms of Withdrawal." At the end he quotes his Uncle Teddy. Christopher, Ted Kennedy and a few family members had gathered one night and were having a drink in Mr. Lawford's mother's apartment in Manhattan. Teddy was expansive. If he hadn't gone into politics he would have been an opera singer, he told them, and visited small Italian villages and had pasta every day for lunch. "Singing at la Scala in front of three thousand people throwing flowers at you. Then going out for dinner and having more pasta." Everyone was laughing. Then, writes Mr. Lawford, Teddy "took a long, slow gulp of his vodka and tonic, thought for a moment, and changed tack. 'I'm glad I'm not going to be around when you guys are my age.' I asked him why, and he said, 'Because when you guys are my age, the whole thing is going to fall apart.' "

Mr. Lawford continued, "The statement hung there, suspended in the realm of 'maybe we shouldn't go there.' Nobody wanted to touch it. After a few moments of heavy silence, my uncle moved on."

Lawford thought his uncle might be referring to their family--that it might "fall apart." But reading, one gets the strong impression Teddy Kennedy was not talking about his family but about . . . the whole ball of wax, the impossible nature of everything, the realities so daunting it seems the very system is off the tracks.

And--forgive me--I thought: If even Teddy knows . . .
I asked her, as I asked Rev. Sensing, if the intervening years had altered her opinion, and if so in what way.

But here's an equally pertinent excerpt, the concluding paragraphs:
If I am right that trolley thoughts are out there, and even prevalent, how are people dealing with it on a daily basis?

I think those who haven't noticed we're living in a troubling time continue to operate each day with classic and constitutional American optimism intact. I think some of those who have a sense we're in trouble are going through the motions, dealing with their own daily challenges.

And some--well, I will mention and end with America's elites. Our recent debate about elites has had to do with whether opposition to Harriet Miers is elitist, but I don't think that's our elites' problem.

This is. Our elites, our educated and successful professionals, are the ones who are supposed to dig us out and lead us. I refer specifically to the elites of journalism and politics, the elites of the Hill and at Foggy Bottom and the agencies, the elites of our state capitals, the rich and accomplished and successful of Washington, and elsewhere. I have a nagging sense, and think I have accurately observed, that many of these people have made a separate peace. That they're living their lives and taking their pleasures and pursuing their agendas; that they're going forward each day with the knowledge, which they hold more securely and with greater reason than nonelites, that the wheels are off the trolley and the trolley's off the tracks, and with a conviction, a certainty, that there is nothing they can do about it.

I suspect that history, including great historical novelists of the future, will look back and see that many of our elites simply decided to enjoy their lives while they waited for the next chapter of trouble. And that they consciously, or unconsciously, took grim comfort in this thought: I got mine. Which is what the separate peace comes down to, "I got mine, you get yours."

You're a lobbyist or a senator or a cabinet chief, you're an editor at a paper or a green-room schmoozer, you're a doctor or lawyer or Indian chief, and you're making your life a little fortress. That's what I think a lot of the elites are up to.

Not all of course. There are a lot of people--I know them and so do you--trying to do work that helps, that will turn it around, that can make it better, that can save lives. They're trying to keep the boat afloat. Or, I should say, get the trolley back on the tracks.

That's what I think is going on with our elites. There are two groups. One has made a separate peace, and one is trying to keep the boat afloat. I suspect those in the latter group privately, in a place so private they don't even express it to themselves, wonder if they'll go down with the ship. Or into bad territory with the trolley.
I believe I have my answer. I think Ms. Noonan's opinion hasn't changed. She's just found a group of elites she fervently hopes might possibly save the ship, put the trolley back on the tracks, ignoring the fact that the elites never do the actual work. It's always left to Joe Six Pack. (Or Joe the Plumber.)

There's a scene from Frank Herbert's classic SF novel, Dune of a dinner party on the desert planet Arrakis where some rather delicate but vicious political maneuvering is going on. During the dinner conversation, Paul Atreides, the young hero of the novel (not at that point, though - that comes later) takes a political jab at one of the dinner guests himself:
"Once, on Caladan, I saw the body of a drowned fisherman recovered. He --"

"Drowned?" It was the stillsuit manufacturer's daughter.

Paul hesitated, then: "Yes. Immersed in water until dead. Drowned."

"What an interesting way to die," she murmered.

Paul's smile became brittle. He returned his attention to the banker. "The interesting thing about this man was the wounds on his shoulders -- made by another fisherman's claw-boots. The fisherman was one of several in a boat -- a craft for traveling on water -- that foundered . . . sank beneath the water. Another fisherman helping recover the body said he'd seen marks like this man's wounds several times. They meant another fisherman tried to stand on this poor fellow's shoulders in the attempt to reach the surface -- to reach air."

"Why is this interesting?" the banker asked.

"Because of an observation made by my father at the time. He said the drowning man who climbs on your shoulders to save himself is understandable -- except when you see it happen in the drawing room." Paul hesitated just long enough for the banker to see the point coming, then: "And, I should add, except when you see it at the dinner table."
And, I would add, except when you see it in political punditry.

Thomas Sowell Channels Robert Heinlein

From the fifth and final segment of the Uncommon Knowledge interview comes this snippet:
Thomas Sowell: I think before so many people went to colleges and universities, common sense was probably much more widespread.

Peter Robinson: Why is that? Why is that? Why is that? We keep coming back to higher education as a kind of pollutant in the American political system. That's been a theme of our conversation. WHY? What's going on?

Sowell: That's, that's a tough one. That's my next book, which is about intellectuals.

Robinson: Oh really?

Sowell: Yes. Yes. But . . .

Robinson: What have you found, what conclusions have you reached so far?

Sowell: That all the incentives are for people who are intellectuals, in the sense in which I would define the term, to venture beyond what they are competent to do. That is, we know that uh, who's the man at MIT, the linguist? Noam Chomsky.

Robinson: Noam Chomsky.

Sowell: We know the man is a landmark figure in the study of linguistics,

Robinson: Yes.

Sowell: But we would never have heard of him if he stuck to linguistics.

Robinson: True enough.

Sowell: We know that our wonderful colleague Mr. Ehrlich . . .

Robinson: Paul Ehrlich here at Stanford.

Sowell: . . . has a reputation in entymology, but we would never have heard of him if he had stuck to entymology. And so all the incentives are to go beyond what you are competent to deal with, and to just assume that because you are wonderful at this, that this makes you sort of a general philosopher-king.
Robert Anson Heinlein dubbed this "The Expert Syndrome," stated thusly:
Expertise in one field does not carry over into other fields. But experts often think so.

The narrower their field of knowledge the more likely they are to think so.

Quote of the Day - Monster

Quote of the Day - Monster
"You ever heard of Richard Matheson? He wrote some pretty good science fiction back in the day, lots of Twilight Zone Episodes and a whole host of short stories back in the 50's and 60's. He's most remembered for one short story thats been made into a movie about a half a dozen times. It's called "I AM LEGEND". Its the story of the last man on earth after a plague wipes out most of the population. What parts of the population the plague doesn't wipe out, becomes transformed into what can best be described as 'vampires'. Most people know that narrative of the story, but most every filmed version and most retelling of the story forget is the main point of the story. The point is this; When you live on a planet where humans are normal and vampires are the monsters, thats something we understand. What Matheson's story forces the reader to come to grips with is the opposite, that when you live on a world where the vampires are the normal, then you, as the last remaining human, have become the monster.

"This is what we conservatives and libertarians have become. With the plague of 'fairness' now loose in the ecosystem of public ideas and discourse, we have become the monster. They are working to destroy our nest (the markets) and after that is destroyed, they will come for us." - Varifrank, Monster.

I've been holding this one for Halloween.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Even More

From the same portion of the Uncommon Knowledge interview of Thomas Sowell:
Peter Robinson: Back to Barack Obama. You mentioned the, uh . . . I think you would call it a naive view of world affairs. That he places a great deal of faith in rhetoric, the ability of rhetoric to solve global problems. This reminds you of the 1930's, it reminds you of Neville Chamberlain. I read you a quotation, the notion of "spreading the wealth around" and again you said that's perfectly pure Socialist doctrine from the 1930's. Is it . . . Would you argue that this man is the most leftwing, or the uh, purest embrace of the Unconstrained Vision that we've seen in American politics since . . . since when? Since the New Deal?

Thomas Sowell: Since there's been an American politics.

Robinson: Really?

Sowell: Yes. Yes, I mean, even FDR you know pulled back on some things. But Obama really, he does have the Unconstrained Vision which is really an elitist vision that says "I know what is the best to be done, and I will do it." When he says "I will change the world" you realize this is a man who's actually accomplished nothing other than advancing his career through rhetoric. And it reminds me of a sophomore in college, you know, who thinks that he can run the world, because he's never had to run anything. And you can believe that only until you have personal responsibility for consequences, and that's when it gives you a little bit of humility.

Robinson: Why don't the American people see through that? Isn't that the fundamental bet that the Founders made, that the, that voters would see through, ultimately they'd see through nonsense?

Sowell: Yes, but that was before nonsense became a large part of the curriculum of our educational institutions.
Again, absolutely. Absolutely.

Now, read this.

Too Good a Quote to Leave Until Tomorrow

Too Good a Quote to Leave Until Tomorrow

Aside from the fact that I have a QotD for tomorrow that I've been sitting on for a while.

Thomas Sowell from his Uncommon Knowledge interview with Peter Robinson, Part 4 of 5
When people ask me why am I going to vote for McCain rather than Obama it's because I prefer disaster to catastrophe.
To further quote Mr. Sowell: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

You've Got to be Kidding Me

You've Got to be Kidding Me

I got a link from the USA Today website. No, really.

I don't figure it will last, so I took a picture:

(Click to embiggen)

USA Today has a "Charlton Heston" page? And it grabs posts from gun blogs?

Are they that desperate? What, they couldn't find out what color thong Sarah Palin is wearing today?

As a Follow-On . . .

As a Follow-On . . .

. . . to We Are SO Screwed, I give you this, found at Theo Spark's:

Yup. That about says it.

Well, Thank You!

Ambulance Driver has awarded me this:

In the spirit of the thing, here's the source of the award and the rules:
* Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

* Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

* Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.

* Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!

* Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.
So I've done Item 2, Item 3, and Item 5. I will fulfill item four shortly, but here's Item 1 (after I perused the list of previous recipients among which were several I'd have chosen for my own.

In no particular order:
Crystal of Boobs, Injuries, and Dr. Pepper.

Mark Alger and Dolly of Baby Troll Blog

Rachel Lucas

LawDog of The LawDog Files

And last, but definitely not least, Tam of View from the Porch
If I didn't pick you, please understand - I could only choose five. You have looked at my blogroll, right? How do you pick only five out of all of those?

Anyway, thanks AD! I appreciate the nod.

I Will Not License, I Will Not Register. Period.

This is what licensing and registration are for:
Gun purchase glitch raises questions

Del.'s small-arms advocates shocked over DSP recordkeeping

Delaware State Police stopped Alvina Vansickle from purchasing a .22-caliber pistol for self-defense because she was too old and a woman, said Superintendent Col. Thomas MacLeish.

The outrage that followed led to the revelation that Delaware State Police had been keeping lists of gun buyers for years; state law requires them to destroy these records after 60 days.

Without so much as a traffic ticket, the 81-year-old Lewes resident should have sailed through the mandatory state police background check when she tried to buy a Taurus revolver from Charlie Steele's Lewes gun shop last August.

Problems started after Steele made the required phone call to state police for approval of the firearms transaction.

An employee in the state police Firearms Transaction Approval Program noticed Vansickle's age and gender, and brought the sale to an immediate halt.

Vansickle's application was then routed to Sgt. Benjamin Nefosky, who heads the firearms approval unit.

According to MacLeish, the transaction was halted over concerns "based upon age and gender."

"To be very honest with you, we have a legal obligation under the law to do approvals," MacLeish said. "We also have an obligation to make sure we're safe, and paying due diligence."

MacLeish said the initial call taker "was concerned this individual never purchased a weapon before. Age and gender caused her to take caution."

As to whether age and gender are included in the state statute as legitimate reasons to reject a firearms purchase, MacLeish stated, "No, they are not."

"I believe there was caution taken on behalf of the call taker," he said. "It was done without malice."

Vansickle's purchase was eventually approved -- 10 days after the initial application -- after she and the dealer were interviewed by police about the purchase. A normal delay is three days.

The sale eventually went through.
Government tracking feared

Word of the delay rebounded around Delaware's small-firearms community, eventually making its way to Dave Lawson, a retired state police lieutenant and firearms instructor. Lawson spoke to his former colleague Nefosky about Vansickle's dilemma, Lawson said.

Lawson said what Nefosky told him revealed there was a much larger problem in the firearms approval unit than keeping a small-caliber revolver out of the hands of an 81-year-old woman.

Lawson said Nefosky told him he searched seven years of firearms transaction records to see if Vansickle had ever bought a gun before.

Some gun owners fear any government agency that tracks gun purchases or keeps lists of who has them. They worry these lists could someday aid in weapons confiscation, fall into the wrong hands and serve as a road map for burglars and thieves, or result in increased scrutiny by law enforcement.

"I was totally drop-jawed," Lawson said. "I asked him how far back the records went. He didn't know. He didn't care. He felt she was possibly a threat because of her age, a threat to herself or her family. That's what the implication was. He was concerned that never having bought a gun before, why would she want one now, at 81?"

Lawson served in the State Bureau of Identification as a lieutenant, which includes the firearms approval section and other specialty units. He knew the law. Nefosky's concern about Vansickle's age and sex, he said, should never have come into play.

Lawson also knew the gun records should have been destroyed.

MacLeish would not allow Nefosky to be interviewed.

In an interview with The News Journal, MacLeish claimed all paper firearms records are destroyed every 60 days.

The electronic records, however, are another story.

"Our review of our electronic records indicated we had a glitch in the system, back to August 2005," he said. "They have since been purged."

The electronic records never posed a threat, MacLeish said.

"The info was in an electronic file that no one did anything with," MacLeish said. "We've since purged that file in its entirety.

Enter the National Rifle Association.
Civil rights of gun buyer at risk

John Thompson is president of the Delaware State Sportsmen's Association, the local affiliate of the NRA.

Several people told him of Nefosky's delay, and expressed their outrage about the list of gun owners maintained by the Delaware State Police.

Thompson, an attorney, had worked with state lawmakers in the early 1990s to craft the state's background-check law.

Legally, he said, Vansickle's reasons for wanting a firearm are moot, and he knew the lists were a problem.

"This suggests two violations: one is denial without cause, and the other is keeping records of gun purchases," Thompson said. "Under statute, the Delaware State Police are required to destroy any purchase records that involve approvals. Now they're maintaining lists of gun owners, which we think is inappropriate. We did not create this system to allow this to happen."

Vansickle's civil rights were violated, he said.

"There is nothing in the Second Amendment or the Delaware Constitution that says the right to own firearms is limited to people of a certain age," Thompson said. "We don't have any problem with age restrictions regarding children, but we don't think someone ought to arbitrarily decide people are too old to own guns."

Retired Dover police captain John Sigler is president of the National Rifle Association, a position once held by legendary actor Charlton Heston.

"I was literally shocked that such an event would occur in the state of Delaware," he said. "I am very, very troubled that an individual -- based on her age -- was denied the ability to defend herself."

Both Sigler and Thompson pointed to the recent Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the court found that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess firearms for personal use, such as self-defense.

While Sigler expressed "the highest respect" for the Delaware State Police and MacLeish, he found it intolerable that the agency "has been keeping records they're not supposed to have, for at least seven years."

"That means that for seven years that office has been violating Delaware state law and thumbing their nose at the state Legislature," he said. "I certainly hope it's not true, but it appears that it is."

Sigler brought the goings-on in his home state to the attention of Bob Dowlut, NRA general counsel.

In a letter to MacLeish sent Aug. 28, Dowlut and the NRA requested two separate investigations: one to focus on Nefosky's denial, "and all other transactions of similar scope and nature." According to the letter, the second investigation should focus on who's responsible for keeping lists of gun owners in the state.

"NRA respectfully requests to be notified about all actions taken to correct this situation," Dowlut wrote. "At this time, there are a number of people urging the filing of a lawsuit to remedy this matter, however, taking of corrective steps immediately would be preferable to litigation for all concerned."

MacLeish said two internal investigations "have been initiated by myself, by the division."

Dowlut copied his letter to Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, who declined to comment for this story.
Elderly woman's husband speaks out

Vansickle's husband, who has legally purchased several weapons over the past several years, spoke on her behalf about the delay.

"Apparently, they thought she might shoot herself with it," said J.R. Vansickle, 83. "She has a clean record. There was no reason to turn her down. I lost both legs through diabetes. I'm in a wheelchair. We're an elderly couple. She wanted the gun for self-defense in our home."

The state police firearms unit was established as a result of the Brady Law, which took effect in 1994.

Nefosky supervises four criminal-history employees, who take calls from gun dealers around the state, and approve or deny the purchases based on the buyer's criminal history.

According to state police, during 2006 and 2007, the unit processed 21,304 transactions, which have resulted in 711 denials.

Dowlet told the newspaper that for police departments, the types of problems the Vansickle case exposed are extremely rare.

"Most police departments, when they put someone in charge of a unit like that, they need to be completely familiar with the law," he said. "There's an anomaly here, someone in the Delaware State police who wasn't following the law. Most police departments -- especially in our litigious society -- if that's what the statute says, that's how they enforce it."
"Glitch" my aching sphincter. That was a deliberate decision made by a nanny-state employee - a "civil servant." And as Heinlein once observed, "Civil Servant" is semantically equal to "Civil Master." This is a perfect example of that fact.

Firehand has said about everything that I wanted to concerning the incident (as it's been making the rounds of the gunblogs for a couple of days now) except this: Yes, I know that I have "licensed" myself by getting a CCW. Yes, I know that filling out a 4473 when I buy a firearm "registers" me and records the gun. But given the current state of things, it is not possible for the State to know exactly what or how many guns I own - just that I probably own several.

However, if an official licensing and registration scheme is implemented, I will not comply. As noted by Charles T. Morgan, at the time Director of the Washington office of the ACLU said in Senate testimony in 1975 when asked about gun registration:
What the administration's and Congressman McClory's bills . . . call for is a whole new set of Federal records. . . .

I have not one doubt, even if I am in agreement with the National Rifle Association, that that kind of a record-keeping procedure is the first step to eventual confiscation under one administration or another.
I am in complete agreement. That is, realistically, the only purpose of a registry. Now the gun owners of Delaware, some of them anyway, are aware that a defacto registry exists. Will any heads roll over this?

'Tain't likely, McGee.

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
I have never in my life been so ready for an election season to be over and done with. I can hardly wait for the Messiah to be sworn in so unicorns will start farting rainbows on the front lawn of my gold house and I can run them over with my rocket car on the way to my governmentally-guaranteed middle class job. - Who else? Tam, of course!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Link O'the Day

Link O'the Day

Reader GrumpyOldFart pointed me at this: Dear Mr. Obama.

Give it a read. Even the MSM can't bring itself to obfuscate everything.

Michael Ramirez Strikes Again!

Michael Ramirez Strikes Again!

The Rule of Law vs. The Rule of Man

On Saturday I posted the "Quote of the Election" excerpted from a piece at by Peter Robinson. The piece was a discussion of Thomas Sowell's theory of "Competing Visions" as applied to the upcoming election. As I quoted in the previous post, the "Competing Visions" theory holds that two competing philosophies underlie Western thought:
Sowell calls one worldview the "constrained vision." It sees human nature as flawed or fallen, seeking to make the best of the possibilities that exist within that constraint. The competing worldview, which Sowell terms the "unconstrained vision," instead sees human nature as capable of continual improvement.

You can trace the constrained vision back to Aristotle; the unconstrained vision to Plato. But the neatest illustration of the two visions occurred during the great upheavals of the 18th century, the American and French revolutions.

The American Revolution embodied the constrained vision. "In the United States," Sowell says, "it was assumed from the outset that what you needed to do above all was minimize [the damage that could be done by] the flaws in human nature." The founders did so by composing a constitution of checks and balances. More than two centuries later, their work remains in place.

The French Revolution, by contrast, embodied the unconstrained vision. "In France," Sowell says, "the idea was that if you put the right people in charge--if you had a political Messiah--then problems would just go away." The result? The Terror, Napoleon and so many decades of instability that France finally sorted itself out only when Charles de Gaulle declared the Fifth Republic.
Today I found that Robinson had interviewed Sowell for his Hoover Institution video series "Uncommon Knowledge." The interview is in five parts being posted this week at NRO. Yesterday's was quite interesting. Here's my transcript of the pertinent exchange:
Peter Robinson: Let me give you a couple of quotations. John McCain in the presidential debate of October 16 on the kinds of judges he would nominate to the Supreme Court:

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

Barack Obama during the same debate:

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

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

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

Sowell: Absolutely.

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

Sowell: Yes!

Robinson: Alright. September of this year the Rasmussen polling company asked this question: "Should the Supreme Court make decisions based on what's written in the Constitution and legal precedents, or should it be guided mostly by a sense of fairness and justice?"

Eighty-two percent of McCain supporters said that the Supreme Court should base its decisions on the Constitution, 29% of Obama supporters agree, 11% of McCain supporters said that the Supreme Court should make its decisions on fairness, 49% of Obama supporters said that it should.

Now, here's the question: You've said McCain constrained, Obama unconstrained. But what this would seem to indicate, this polling data, that this is not just a debate taking place among politicians or American elites, it's reached very deep into the American public.

Sowell: Oh, absolutely.

Robinson: Forty-nine percent of Americans think the Supreme Court should. . .

Sowell: Of Obama supporters.

Robinson: Excuse me, 49% of Obama supporters, exactly. Does that startle you? Does it alarm you?

Sowell: It doesn't startle me, it depresses me. But you know this has been going on for a long time. People complain about a court decision on the basis that they wish it had turned out differently, but that isn't the judge's job. There's a wonderful case, and I wish I could remember what the title of it was, in which Clarence Thomas said that he really agreed with the position taken by one of the litigants in the case, but that he wasn't there to decide that issue. He was there to decide what did the law say? And the law said otherwise, and so he voted against them. You see the same thing in Oliver Wendell Holmes where in a number of cases he makes very cutting disparagements of one of the litigants in the case, and then votes in favor of them, because "I'm not here to decide what the merit is." One of his decisions, he says "I am not at liberty to discuss the justice of the Act. The Act is what it is, and once I know what that is, that is the decision I have to make."

Robinson: Well then, if you see . . . Well, one more question here. You write "The unconstrained vision" - again, I'm quoting you - "has tended historically toward creating more equallized economic and social conditions in society, even if the means chosen implied great inequality in the right to decide such issues and choose such means."

Inequality and the right to decide issues. Does that tell us why the Left in the United States seems so much more comfortable with having courts make social policy?

Sowell: Oh absolutely.

Robinson: That's what's going on.

Sowell: Absolutely. They want equality of outcomes and they will choose how to make the outcomes equal. But they don't want equality of choice on the part of the people themselves. Many of the liberals say that they're for the familiy because they're for creating all kinds of goodies to give to the families, but they want to take away the family's fundamental function which is making decisions for members of the family itself, particularly the younger members who aren't yet grown.
I am reminded of some quotes from Antonin Scalia that I've used here before:
It is literally true that the U.S. Supreme Court has entirely liberated itself from the text of the Constitution.

What 'we the people' want most of all is someone who will agree with us as to what the evolving constitution says.

We are free at last, free at last. There is no respect in which we are chained or bound by the text of the Constitution. All it takes is five hands.

What in the world is a ‘moderate interpretation’ of the text? Halfway between what it really says and what you want it to say?

The only reason you need a constitution is because some things you don't want the majority to be able to change. That's my most important function as a judge in this system. I have to tell the majority to take a hike.
And Justice Thomas when faced with an "Unconstrained Vision" decision by the Court:
Something has gone seriously awry with this Court’s interpretation of the Constitution. - Clarence Thomas (dissenting) Kelo v New London (2005)
They didn't interpret the Constitution, they used two previous bad precedents and ignored it.

And got a decision that the five Left-leaning Justices thought was "Just."

Without regard for, you know, THE LAW. Just like Barack "I'm Not a Socialist" Obama wants. "Justices" who think that the headline "World to End Tomorrow: Women and Minorities Hardest Hit" is not a joke.

The fact that 49% of Obama supporters polled want the Supreme Court to ignore the Constitution depresses me as well. As I have written about endlessly in here previously, this is a reflection of the fact that we don't teach philosophy as a subject in schools here, though there's a lot of indoctrination going on undercover (and often openly) that promotes this kind of thinking. (And not a lot of indoctrination going on that counters it.)

It goes back to one of the earliest themes of this blog: What is a RIGHT?

I got to listen to a little of Rush Limbaugh's show today, specifically the part where he played excerpts from an FDR speech (he was a little vague on the source - a fireside chat, or FDR's fourth Inaugural address?). Here's the pertinent part:
We have come to a clearer realization of the fact, however, that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. Necessitous men are not free men. People who are hungry, people who are out of a job, are the stuff of which dictatorships are made. In our day these economic proofs have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a Second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all, regardless of station or race or creed.
This could have come directly out of Marx's mouth, or out of Das Kapital
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industry -- our shops, our farms, our mines of the nation. The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation. The right of every family to a decent home. The right to adequate medical care. The opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health. The right to adequate protection from economic fear, from old age and sickness and accident and unemployment. Finally, the right to a good education.
Well hell, what about the right to feel safe?

But more and more people believe that it is the job of government to provide these "rights." And, as I noted back at the beginning of this blog, a "Right" is what the majority of the population in a society believes it is.

At least until they smack their noses on concrete reality.

Or crater in from a much higher falling point.

This piece also reminded me that in 2005 Laurence Tribe announced that he would not be releasing a third revision of Volume II of his textbook American Constitutional Law. As I excerpted at the time:
Tribe's announcement came April 29 in a letter to Justice Stephen Breyer, who had asked him casually how he was coming on the second volume, which was scheduled to cover individual rights issues. (My emphasis.)

Tribe decided to write Breyer back. His "Dear Steve" letter and a 12-page elaboration will be published by Green Bag, Davies' law review at George Mason.

Tribe, 63, said neither personal factors nor ennui were at issue in his decision not to proceed. "It's not my health, which is fine," he wrote. "Or that I've lost interest in the questions the unpublished chapters would have discussed or the drive to pursue them doggedly."

Rather, Tribe said he had made his decision because, as he told Breyer, "conflict over basic constitutional premises is today at a fever pitch," moving rapidly in unpredictable directions. "No treatise, in my sense of that term, can be true to this moment in our constitutional history -- to its conflicts, innovations and complexities."
As Thomas Sowell noted above: "That's unconstrained. That somehow or other there are people with the judicial robes on who can just decide these things ad hoc, which among other things would mean we would no longer really have law. You would discover, once you got into the courtroom in front of the judge, you would then discover what the decision is, but you would have no clue beforehand."
Tribe implies that a mere catalog or hornbook reciting recent decisions might be achievable, even if rapidly outdated. But a treatise seeking to explain constitutional themes and pull together seemingly disparate doctrines can't be done now, Tribe asserts. "I do not have, nor do I believe I have seen, a vision capacious and convincing enough to propound as an organizing principle for the next phase in the law of our Constitution."
In other words, (my interpretation) too many judges are making it up as they go along.

The philosophy of the Founders has been lost, and instead we have too many people in robes on benches making ad hoc decisions based on "fairness" or whatever floats their boats rather than on the LAW.

Now, I have also argued that one of, if not the primary flaw in our legal system is that there is insufficient review of prior legal decisions. It seems that bad precedent is very seldom overturned, but that that particular duty should fall on the shoulders of the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, they've been failing at it, as Justice Thomas noted in his Kelo dissent. We were very lucky with the Heller decision, but a lot of that credit goes to Alan Gura for so carefully selecting the case, the plaintiffs and the venue.

It should not have even been close.

But Barack "Spread the Wealth" Obama likes it this way, and wants more of it.
If a woman is out there trying to raise a family, trying to support her family and is being treated unfairly then the court has to stand up if nobody else will, and that's the kind of judge I want.
I want one who applies the law, because I want to live in a country where you can predict what the Courts will do, and what they will do is uphold my individual rights.

Why I Will Never Be Bill Whittle

I write a post like From the Horses's, . . . er, . . . Mouth.

Bill writes one like SHAME, CUBED and proves conclusively why he is a paid professional and I am still a lowly blogger.

Some time ago in comments someone suggested that we, the public, needed a new Thomas Paine who would write the things that fired the Revolutionary-era public up.

I think that if things get bad enough to make Bill Whittle angry, he would be that writer.

And I shudder to think how bad it would have to get before Bill would get that angry.

Quote of the Day

Whole enchilada unconstitutional? We can only hope.

Also, can the Supreme Court issue a writ of mandamus to have Lautenberg kicked in the testicles? Or would that raise separation of powers issues? - "Jim W" in a comment to Lautenburg Amendment going to Supreme Court at Of Arms and the Law
The Lautenberg Amendment isn't the only problem, but it is a problem.

Let me say up front that if someone is physically abusive and found so by a court then due process is served. This case appears to be ex post facto. Second, a restraining order is not ajudication of physical threat. Restraining orders seem to have become a divorce tactic.

Finally, the law that needs to be given judicial review under the Heller precedent is 18 USC section 922(g)(1) in its entirety:
It shall be unlawful for any person -

(1) who has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;

(2) who is a fugitive from justice;

(3) who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802));

(4) who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution;

(5) who, being an alien -
(A) is illegally or unlawfully in the United States; or

(B) except as provided in subsection (y)(2), has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa (as that term is defined in section 101(a)(26) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(26)));
(6) who has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;

(7) who, having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his citizenship;

(8) who is subject to a court order that -
(A) was issued after a hearing of which such person received actual notice, and at which such person had an opportunity to participate;

(B) restrains such person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child; and

(i) includes a finding that such person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child; or

(ii) by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury; or
(9) who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,

to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.
Any crime punishable by a term exceeding one year.


Have any idea how many crimes today can get you a sentence of "more than one year"?

Well, for example, remember those cheerleaders?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Quote of the Day

It's difficult not to froth when one reads, as I did again and again this week, doubts about Sarah Palin's “intelligence,” coming especially from women such as PBS's Bonnie Erbe, who, as near as I recall, has not herself heretofore been burdened with the Susan Sontag of Journalism moniker. As Fred Barnes—God help me, I'm agreeing with Fred Barnes—suggests in the Weekly Standard, these high toned and authoritative dismissals come from people who have never met or spoken with Sarah Palin. Those who know her, love her or hate her, offer no such criticism. They know what I know, and I learned it from spending just a little time traveling on the cramped campaign plane this week: Sarah Palin is very smart.


Now by “smart,” I don't refer to a person who is wily or calculating or nimble in the way of certain talented athletes who we admire but suspect don't really have serious brains in their skulls. I mean, instead, a mind that is thoughtful, curious, with a discernable pattern of associative thinking and insight. Palin asks questions, and probes linkages and logic that bring to mind a quirky law professor I once had. Palin is more than a “quick study”; I'd heard rumors around the campaign of her photographic memory and, frankly, I watched it in action. She sees. She processes. She questions, and only then, she acts. What is often called her “confidence” is actually a rarity in national politics: I saw a woman who knows exactly who she is.

For all those old enough to remember Senator Sam Ervin, the brilliant strict constitutional constructionist and chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee whose patois included “I'm just a country lawyer”… Yup, Palin is that smart. - Elaine Lafferty, "a former editor-in-chief of Ms. magazine as well as a feminist activist" - Sarah Palin's a Braniac
And Biden?

Monday, October 27, 2008

From the Horses's, . . . er, . . . Mouth

Reader DJ has found the ultimate Barak "Spread the Wealth" Obama quote. From an NPR interview in 2001:
If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court. I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed people, so that now I would have the right to vote. I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order as long as I could pay for it I’d be o.k. But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in the society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf, and that hasn’t shifted and one of the, I think, the tragedies of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.
"From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." Redistributive change.

So we have proof that Obama understands the purpose of the Constitution - "a charter of negative liberties." But he decries that the Warren Court didn't go farther and re-interpret the Constitution to give the government the powers of "redistributive change." Barring that, the civil rights movement should have eschewed the court system (or at least not have concentrated so exclusively on that path) in order to achieve said redistributive change by other means.

Here it is, 2008, and Barack "I'm Not a Socialist" Obama still holds the same beliefs.

But you have to catch him by surprise to get him to admit it.

More at Stop the ACLU.

Jennifer Rubin has something to say about it, too.

Back Online!

Back Online!

Well, I'm on the job, staying in an apartment in Wickenburg for the nonce. Cox Cable finally got us connected today, so I'm back online after a day and a half of hell.

Internet withdrawal sucks!

Blogging to continue, lightly, anon.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Anybody Know How to Reach David?

Anybody Know How to Reach David?

Over at Random Nuclear Strikes? I don't have an email for him, and I want to discuss his Thompson/Center Encore .308 pistol.

I just bought an Encore frame.

UPDATE: Got it! Thanks!

UPDATE II: How's THIS for service? David has put up a post on the pistol, and is promising more!

Y'know, I own a 7BR-chambered XP-100. . .

More from the Petri Dish

Apparently shocking, SHOCKING news has been released in the place where Great Britain used to be that the .gov there has been manipulating crime statistics! From the Daily Mail:
Violent crime up 22% as Home Office admits police have been under-recording serious offences for ten years

Public trust in crime statistics has been dealt a devastating blow after ministers admitted the figures have been downplaying serious violence for up to a decade.

The Home Office admitted that as many as one in five of the worst attacks has been wrongly classified in published figures.

As many as 4,000 serious assaults each year were mistakenly recorded as minor incidents - and officials conceded they 'simply do not know how far back it goes'.
So we should believe them when they say they've only been doing it for ten years, right?
Critics claimed the revelations were another serious blow to the credibility of Government crime figures following years of complaints of spin and statistical manipulation.
Claims I've made here dating back to at least 2004.

Here's some of the BBC's view of the story:
Police miscount serious violence

A number of police forces in England and Wales have been undercounting some of the most serious violent crimes, the government has admitted.

It means figures for serious violent crimes rose by 22% compared to last year - rather than showing a fall as previous figures appeared to indicate.
I'm curious as to what prompted the admission.
The mistake happened when some crimes classed as "grievous bodily harm with intent" were recorded as less serious.

Figures say overall crime is down, and ministers say these can be trusted.
And we should trust you . . . why?
A former Home Office crime consultant told the BBC the government had been "hiding behind" its changes in the crime counting rules.

Professor Marian Fitzgerald, a criminologist at the University of Kent's Crime and Justice Centre, said the long-term trend of increasing violent crime was now "catching up" with the government.
Pesky facts have a way of doing that.
The Conservatives said the new figures "fatally undermined" government claims that violent crime was in decline.

Shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve said: "They betray a government that is completely out of touch with what is going on, on our streets and in our communities."
Not "out of touch," in denial.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith insisted all the crimes in question had been investigated by the police.

She told the BBC: "What the statisticians are clear about is that the increases in the most serious forms of violence have actually in terms of numbers been more than counteracted by the decreases in less serious violence."
Which means a good chunk of Britain's petty criminals have learned that violence pays. But Home Secretary Smith seems to believe this is a good thing.
Crimes of "grievous bodily harm with intent" committed between April and June this year were being mistakenly recorded as lesser crimes.

When the figures were recounted using the correct classification, the official total showed serious violent crime had risen 22%.

Previous measures under the old rules had shown decreases every quarter of up to 15%.
And didn't that make their political masters look good? Except to the victims of these crimes who apparently voted them out of office.
But Professor Fitzgerald said that the government was aware of the long trend of serious violent crime which had been rising over "several decades"

She told the BBC: "It started to go up really quite steeply from the early 1990s.
The handgun ban was completed in 1996.
"The problem this government has got is that when it came to power it dismissed out of hand the trends in police recorded crime which were a fairly good measure of serious violence

"It preferred instead to rely on the British Crime Survey which is very poor at picking up violence."

For good measure it has actually interfered with the police figures by keeping changing the ways in which they have been recorded.
(My emphasis)
"What's catching up with them now is the fact the police figures are reflecting that long term trend increase in serious violence. The government are hiding behind changes in the counting rules to try to explain it away."
I repeat: And we should trust them . . . why?

Again, this is another example of "Cognitive Dissonance" explained once succinctly by Steven Den Beste thusly:
When someone tries to use a strategy which is dictated by their ideology, and that strategy doesn't seem to work, then they are caught in something of a cognitive bind. If they acknowledge the failure of the strategy, then they would be forced to question their ideology. If questioning the ideology is unthinkable, then the only possible conclusion is that the strategy failed because it wasn't executed sufficiently well. They respond by turning up the power, rather than by considering alternatives. (This is sometimes referred to as "escalation of failure".)
Crime could not be going up in the wonderful Utopia that Labor was building in the UK. Therefore the statistics had to be wrong, and the government would manipulate them however it was necessary to prove that said crime was declining.

When that didn't work, "Do it again, only HARDER!" Escalation of failure.

You'll note that Labor is no longer in power in Britain.

We are SO Screwed

We are SO Screwed

In relation to the Quote of the Election below, I forwarded the Forbes piece to my office-mate who is an Obama supporter for his reaction. Here is our email exchange on the subject:
From: Kevin
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2008 6:55 AM
To: Obama Supporter
Subject: Something you should read

From: Obama Supporter
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2008 9:34 AM
To: Kevin
Subject: RE: Something you should read

Interesting thoughts, but I am not sure I completely buy the "Holier than Though" position assigned to McCain. In the end, during every presidential election, both sides promise the moon and in the end neither ever seems to deliver. Yes, McCain might cut taxes in one spot, but he would raise them in others as every president does. It is all perception. Bread and Circus.... it is simply which crowd is being pandered to and who will contribute the most votes to get the best for the individual casting the vote. It would be great if a president could change the world, but I have never heard of one doing so... at least not for the better.

In the end, I think McCain is an optimist. A "stick to what you know" kinda guy. A "walk softly and carry a big stick" kinda guy. A guy that you want and need on that wall of freedom and protection because he has a military background to support that role. You know he will take a bullet for you, because that is just who he is.

Obama on the other hand, well... I think he is more of an opportunist and realist. He (like myself) sees this country as a great place with lots of potential. We used to be a grand country and we have found many ways to stumble and make ourselves not so grand anymore. He wants to rekindle the fire that once drove our country to be the world power. How is this done? By believing in your common man and helping him to succeed again. Give him every opportunity to make something of himself, starting with our educational system. Provide the foundation and then provide the building materials. Instill in the youth of today so they can then instill the concepts for the youth of tomorrow. We can look around and say, "It has never worked before. Every where it has been tried, it failed." Well... you are right. But then, the USA has never tried it before and if we are as good as everyone says, then I can't believe that we would fail at this if we really try. Yes, it means sacrifice. It means patience. It means a lot of hard work and investing in ourselves.

I think both men are quite qualified to run the country. I think both can do a far better job than their predecessor did. I simply think you have to take the taste challenge... are you a Coke or Pepsi kinda guy. Me... I don't drink soda... so I have to chose the one I rather drink if I did drink soda. Go figure. I think that is what America is facing today. We face an election of one of two men that neither is the preferred choice. I think it used to be this simple, but it no longer is. Before a Coke or Pepsi did fine, but now there are diet soda drinkers and tea drinkers and coffee drinkers. Some like milk and sugar and others want it black (no pun intended). Others want plain water. Where are the candidates that satisfy these peoples' thirsts? Why have we stuck with a system that is now failing? Obama was right when he said we are ready for change. And in the absence of real change we are willing to select a candidate that looks like change, but is just like all the others. We need change in this country or it will most definitely die. A proud nation so inspired by itself, it could not adapt and died. We must learn to adapt, and thus evolve to meet the needs of the modern people. The constitution is a living, breathing document... it has the ability to adapt, yet represent the people of today as well as those 200 years ago. We just need smart people like you and I to argue the points and realize that not everyone wants the same thing, and how can we make it work for the majority. And for those it doesn't work for, we provide a different option. The world is not fair, nor will it ever be. This does not mean we can't make it a little less hurtful in the process. We are a caring nation... it is time we started to care for ourselves for a change.

From: Kevin
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2008 9:53 AM
To: Obama Supporter
Subject: RE: Something you should read

"Obama on the other hand, well... I think he is more of an opportunist and realist. He (like myself) sees this country as a great place with lots of potential. We used to be a grand country and we have found many ways to stumble and make ourselves not so grand anymore. He wants to rekindle the fire that once drove our country to be the world power. How is this done? By believing in your common man and helping him to succeed again. Give him every opportunity to make something of himself, starting with our educational system. Provide the foundation and then provide the building materials. Instill in the youth of today so they can then instill the concepts for the youth of tomorrow." - Obama Supporter

"I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views." - Barack Obama

Obama's father was a Marxist.

His early mentor Frank Marshall Davis was a Marxist.

His pastor of 20 years was a Black Liberation Theologist - a Marxist theology of victimhood and revolution.

William Ayers is an unrepentant communist. They worked in the same building on the same floor for at least three years, worked together (really!) on the Annenberg project and another project. Obama wrote a review of an Ayers book. Point being, Ayers was not "just a guy in (his) neighborhood". They were associates.

Obama was a member of the New Party - also Marxist.

By all indications, Obama is the closest thing to a thorougoing Socialist (big "S" on purpose) to run for President (with a chance of actually winning) that we've ever had.

But he "serves as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views."

I think Sowell is right: "This man [Obama] really does believe that he can change the world. And people like that are infinitely more dangerous than mere crooked politicians."

It really is a decision not between something as trivial as Coke and Pepsi but between John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. And I think Rousseau very well might win this time, and America will finally completely cease to be what the Constitution was written to ensure it would remain. It's taken us decades to reach this point, and the blame does not rest entirely on one party, but that's how I see it.

From: Obama Supporter
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2008 10:17 AM
To: Kevin
Subject: RE: Something you should read

Keep in mind that the very document that was "to ensure it would remain" is the same document that allows for someone like Barack Obama to "serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views". The fact that the country is going socialized is purely the workings of the people themselves. This is what they want and this is what they get. They elected the politicians that added the amendments. They are the ones that voted (or didn't vote) for those that wrote the laws of this country. All our politicians asked for in return was money and power. A fair trade for the people of this country to get the socialized society they wanted. Like you said... Bread and Circuses. The politicians have provided the feedbags and the entertainment, the common man that cares about nothing else is happy. And what made it possible? The constitution.

From: Kevin
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2008 10:49 AM
To: Obama Supporter
Subject: RE: Something you should read

The fact that the country is going socialized is purely the workings of the people themselves. This is what they want and this is what they get. They elected the politicians that added the amendments.

Err, no.

The last amendment added to the Constitution was ratified in 1992. There are 27 of them. Not one changes our form of government from Constitutional Republic to Socialist State. (Although a weak argument could be made about the 16th.) FDR began the gutting of the Constitution with the assistance of Congress and the capitulation of the Supreme Court.

What has allowed this to happen is the indoctrination of literally generations of Americans into believing that their government should do things it was never empowered to do. If they had amended the Constitution to give the government those powers, I would not be objecting (as much), but they did not.

Instead, we got the "living, breathing document" BULLSHIT fed to our parents, ourselves, and now our children. And we're paying the price. And our children will be paying it in perpetuity.

I don't know if you've seen it, but there's this very popular (probably apocryphal) quote attributed to Alexander Frasier Tytler supposedly written about the time of the ratification of the Constitution. It goes like this:

A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the worlds greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage.

This goes along with an actual quotation from Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America from the same time:

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.

Guess where we are now on Tytler's scale?

From: Obama Supporter
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2008 11:21 AM
To: Kevin
Subject: RE: Something you should read

The problem is that all of these ideals come from a historical view. The world has changed. It has advanced (and regressed) in many ways. While yes, we are on the end of Tytler's scale and about to leap off, the world is much more stable and controlled than it used to be. The US is the US. It is to big, to powerful and to recognized to suddenly fall into dictatorship as suggested by Tytler. Yes it has never worked before, because it could not work before. Will it work now? I don't know. But I do no we live in a completely different time with completely different rules. I think there is a way to bridge these ideas. Whether you believe John Locke or Jean-Jacques Rousseau was right... it has been long enough these two concepts stood opposed. Much like Rodney King said as he was being beat by the government employees... "Can't we all just get along?"

From: Kevin
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2008 12:11 PM
To: Obama Supporter
Subject: RE: Something you should read

As it will be in the future, it was at the Birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit, and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wobbling back to the Fire;

And after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return.

The last two stanzas of Kipling's "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" - 1919.

The times may have changed, but Man is still the same. And the Fool's bandaged finger, it appears, is about to go wobbling back to the flame.
Yuri Bezmenov was right.

As an aside, the complete Yuri Bezmenov interview is available here. I intend to watch the whole thing as soon as I get a chance.

Now that it's too late, of course.

Quote of the Election

Thomas Sowell on Locke v. Rousseau with respect to this election, via Peter Robinson in
Then there is Thomas Sowell, the economist and political philosopher. He prefers an older way of looking at American politics--a much older way. In his classic 1987 work, A Conflict of Visions, Sowell identifies two competing worldviews, or visions, that have underlain the Western political tradition for centuries.

Sowell calls one worldview the "constrained vision." It sees human nature as flawed or fallen, seeking to make the best of the possibilities that exist within that constraint. The competing worldview, which Sowell terms the "unconstrained vision," instead sees human nature as capable of continual improvement.

You can trace the constrained vision back to Aristotle; the unconstrained vision to Plato. But the neatest illustration of the two visions occurred during the great upheavals of the 18th century, the American and French revolutions.

The American Revolution embodied the constrained vision. "In the United States," Sowell says, "it was assumed from the outset that what you needed to do above all was minimize [the damage that could be done by] the flaws in human nature." The founders did so by composing a constitution of checks and balances. More than two centuries later, their work remains in place.

The French Revolution, by contrast, embodied the unconstrained vision. "In France," Sowell says, "the idea was that if you put the right people in charge--if you had a political Messiah--then problems would just go away." The result? The Terror, Napoleon and so many decades of instability that France finally sorted itself out only when Charles de Gaulle declared the Fifth Republic.
That's not the QotD. That's lead-in for it:
Take it all together, Sowell believes, and this election will prove decisive.

"There is such a thing as a point of no return," he says. If Obama wins the White House and Democrats expand their majorities in the House and Senate, they will intervene in the economy and redistribute wealth. Yet their economic policies "will pale by comparison to what they will do in permitting countries to acquire nuclear weapons and turn them over to terrorists. Once that happens, we're at the point of no return. The next generation will live under that threat as far out as the eye can see."

"The unconstrained vision is really an elitist vision," Sowell explains. "This man [Obama] really does believe that he can change the world. And people like that are infinitely more dangerous than mere crooked politicians."
Read the whole piece. Print it out and pass it around.

Friday, October 24, 2008

WTH is This?

WTH is This?

My wife came back from a thrift store with an antique (says "1916" on the bottom!)

What the hell is it?

Any clues?

UPDATE: The container is about 8" tall, the wood-ball-on-iron-stick assembly is about 12" in overall length.

UPDATE II: OK, we've concluded that it's a fire starter. That would explain why there are ashes in the container. My guess is that the original pumice-stone or unglazed ceramic ball was replaced at some point with a wooden one.


A Comment Made of WIN!

A Comment Made of WIN!

From Breda's excellent post, Death & Taxes, "Old NFO" wrote:
Today on my way to lunch I passed a homeless guy with a sign that read "Vote Obama, I need the money." I laughed.

Once in the restaurant my server had on a "Obama 08" tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference -- just imagine the coincidence.

When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need--the homeless guy outside. The server angrily stormed from my sight.

I went outside, gave the homeless guy $5 and told him to thank the server inside as I've decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy was grateful.

At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but the server was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn, without his consideration of whether I should have even have don’t(sic) that; though in my opinion the actual recipient needed the server’s money more.

I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application.
I bow in your general direction!

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
The Weathermen’s plans included putting parts of United States under the administration of Cuba, North Vietnam, China and Russia and re-educating the uncooperative in camps in located in the Southwest. Since there would be holdouts, plans were made for liquidating the estimated 25 million unreconstructable die-hards.

The most interesting moment of the video comes when (Undercover agent Larry) Grathwohl asks the viewer to imagine what it’s like to be in a room with 25 people, all of whom have master’s degrees or higher from elite institutions of higher learning like Columbia, listening to them discuss the logistics of killing 25 million Americans.

Actually, it’s easy. What’s hard to imagine is sitting in a room full of plumbers discussing the same thing. - "Concerned American", Western Rifle Shooters Association, The Plan

Thursday, October 23, 2008

John Ringo, the ANTI-PC Author

John Ringo, the ANTI-PC Author

John Ringo, of "Oh John Ringo, No!" infamy has authored another book, The Last Centurion which is, as far as I am able to ascertain, intended to cause the Patchouli crowd to suffer massive brain aneurysims. In fact, as long as she has not seen the "Ghost" series of novels referred to in that first link, I'm relatively confident that this book would cause Rachel Lucas to spontaneously ovulate.

I'm only about a third of the way through it, and I won't give you any spoilers if you intend to read it, but it's about the simultaneous occurrence of a killer flu pandemic and global cooling worldwide in 2019-2020. It's written "blog-style" by the author - essentially (so far) running posts of explanation of "how we got to where we are now" for the uninformed. The main character is writing in first-person of his experiences and observations of what happened, when and why. A précis is here.

And he is VERY anti-PC.

As one reviewer objected:
(T)he beginning of The Last Centurion is about as interesting (to me, at any rate) as reading one of the zillion blog posts by people who cannot stand the junior senator from New York and go on for paragraphs about how HRC is the second coming of Eleanor Roosevelt, only uglier and more thuggish. Still, since this was John Ringo, I skimmed through the polemic because I knew there was some quality combat SF in there somewhere.

Which there is; only problem is that there's only about 3-4 short chapters worth, and then we're back in CONUSstan where the Army does the best it can to save the country from mass starvation, economic collapse, and the kind of political coup both Reagan and W were accused of preparing. Needless to say, they do this in spite of the increasingly deranged President and apparently without much help from the Air Force, Navy or Marines. It reads like the bastard child of Atlas Shrugged and Gust Front, only without John Galt or the Posleen . . . .
I haven't gotten to the "quality combat SF" yet. I am, however, enjoying the polemic.

Here's an excerpt that I found particularly fascinating - John Ringo on American Exceptionalism:
The U.S. is a strange country. Growing up in it I never realized that, but spending those tours overseas really brought it home. We're just fucking weird.

Alex de Touqueville(sic) spoke of this weirdness in his book Democracy in America way back in the 1800s. "Americans, contrary to every other society I have studied, form voluntary random social alliances."

Look, let's drill that down a bit and look at that most American of activities: The Barn Raising.

I know that virtually none of you have ever participated in a barn raising. But everyone knows what I mean. A family in an established community has gotten to the point they can build a barn or need a new one or maybe a new pioneer family that needs a barn puts out the word. There's going to be a barn raising on x day, usually Saturday or Sunday.

People from miles around walk over to the family's farm and work all day raising the barn. Mostly the guys do the heavy work while women work on food. That evening everybody gets together for a party. They sleep out or in the new barn, then walk home the next day to their usual routine.


Only ever happened in America. It is a purely American invention and is from inconceivable to repugnant to other cultures.

A group of very near strangers in that they are not family or some extended tribe gather together in a "voluntary random social alliance" to aid another family for no direct benefit to themselves. The family that is getting the barn would normally supply some major food and if culturally acceptable and available some form of alcohol. But the people gathering to aid them have access to the same or better. There is a bit of a party afterwards but a social gathering does not pay for a hard day's work. (And raising a barn is a hard day's work.)

The benefit rests solely in the trust that when another family needs aid, the aided family will do their best to provide such aid.


Americans form "voluntary random social social alliances." Other societies do not. Low trust societies do not. (Example omitted)

In other countries an extended family might gather together to raise the barn or some other major endeavor. But this is not a voluntary random alliance. They turn up because the matriarch or patriarch has ordered it. And family is anything but random societally. (However random it may seem from the inside.)
You know, I'd never considered that.

The entire chapter is pretty fascinating, and I'm enjoying the book very much. In fact, I think as soon as I hit "Publish" I'm going to go to bed and read some more!