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, May 31, 2013

More Unintended Consequences!

Rate Shock: In California, Obamacare To Increase Individual Health Insurance Premiums By 64-146%

One of the most serious flaws with Obamacare is that its blizzard of regulations and mandates drives up the cost of insurance for people who buy it on their own. This problem will be especially acute when the law’s main provisions kick in on January 1, 2014, leading many to worry about health insurance “rate shock.”

Last week, the state of California claimed that its version of Obamacare’s health insurance exchange would actually reduce premiums. “These rates are way below the worst-case gloom-and-doom scenarios we have heard,” boasted Peter Lee, executive director of the California exchange.

But the data that Lee released tells a different story: Obamacare, in fact, will increase individual-market premiums in California by as much as 146 percent.

Who saw that coming?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

So Gun Control is Ascendant, Eh?

At least, that's what The New Republic is spouting.  Well, they're saying the NRA is finished, which amounts to the same thing.

Of course, our side is pooh-pooing the idea.  That's because we understand that the NRA is not the pro-gun movement.  It is, of course, the 800-lb. legislative gorilla, but it's not the driving force - culture is.

Back in December, Salon cooed over the cancellation of Discovery Channel's reality-themed shows American Guns and Ted Nugent's Gun Country:
In the wake of the devastating school massacre in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, Discovery has canceled two gun-themed shows.


On Monday, the network announced that "'American Guns' concluded earlier this year," adding, "Discovery Channel chose not to renew the series and has no plans to air repeats of the show." Yet Deadline notes that Discovery is conspicuously not airing reruns of the show as well. The network is likewise bidding adieu to "Ted Nugent's Gun Country," with a confirmation that Nugent will not be returning any time soon.
They did allow, however:
Discovery has also recently 86′ed "Dirty Jobs" and "American Chopper."
The New York Times also proclaimed in December of last year, Gun-Focused Reality TV Shows Get New Scrutiny After Newtown Killings. So where are we with "gun-themed" TV shows today, after Tucson, Aurora, and Newtown?
Add to that "reality shows" where everyday firearm use is normal:
And this list doesn't include specialty "sportsman" channel shows like the Outdoor Channel's:
and about a dozen others. But that top list? Discovery, History Channel, CMT, Animal Planet, Arts & Entertainment Television.

The re-normalization of America's good gun culture proceeds apace. Which is why we have grassroots support and they have to get along with astroturf.

Unintended Consequences or "LOOPHOLE! LOOPHOLE!"

Fort Wayne, IN public school to cut part-timer's hours in order to avoid Obamacare penalties:
Fort Wayne Community Schools is trimming the hours of more than 600 part-time teaching aides and cafeteria workers in anticipation of a projected budget shortfall and to satisfy the requirements of the federal health care law, a school official said.

Kathy Friend, chief financial officer for FWCS, said the school district is dropping 610 employees from 30 hours to 25 hours per week starting June 3, rather than provide them with health insurance as mandated by impending federal regulations. Offering all of the district's 840 part-time employees health insurance would have cost $10 million, a price the district cannot afford, she said.

Friend said the decision to cut hours was also driven by the expectation that FWCS will have a tighter budget in 2015.

"We have to make the decision we're making because of a budget situation, and we really have to make it because of the insurance issue," she said.

"There's not an easy answer to this problem."

Beginning in January 2014, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, will require employers with at least 50 full-time employees to offer health insurance to employees who work at least 30 hours per week.

"This is not just an FWCS problem," Friend said. "It's something that almost all employers with part-time employees are trying to resolve."

The school district's penalty for not providing health insurance to legally entitled workers would have been $2,000 for every one of its roughly 4,000 employees, regardless of how many hours they work. This was a price the district was not prepared to pay.

"We didn't think it would be wise to spend $8 million and get nothing in return for it," Friend said.
Who saw that coming?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Peer Review! Peer Review!

Fascinating study on that topic, concerning psychological journals commented on by Instapundit.

"Ouch" is right.

Now do one on "climate science."

.gov Austerity

Got this one via email:
A guy stopped at a local gas station, and after filling his tank, he paid the bill and bought a soft drink. He stood by his car to drink his cola and watched a couple of men working along the roadside. One man would dig a hole two or three feet deep and then move on. The other man came along behind him and filled in the hole. While one was digging a new hole, the other was 25 feet behind filling in the hole.

The men worked right past the guy with the soft drink and went on down the road. "I can't stand this," said the man tossing the can into a trash container and headed down the road toward the men. "Hold it, hold it," he said to the men. "Can you tell me what's going on here with all this digging and refilling?"

"Well, we work for the government and we're just doing our job," one of the men said.

"But one of you is digging a hole and the other fills it up. You're not accomplishing anything. Aren't you wasting the taxpayers' money?"

"You don't understand, mister," one of the men said, leaning on his shovel and wiping his brow. "Normally there's three of us: Me, Elmer and Leroy. I dig the hole, Elmer plants the tree, and Leroy here puts the dirt back.

You see with the government sequestering, they are not buying any more trees so Elmer's job's been cut ... so now it's just me an' Leroy.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Had to Share This One!

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Lt Col Louis Edward Curdes

Born: November 2, 1919 Fort Wayne, Indiana
POW: August 27, 1943 Benevento, Italy, P-38G mechanical trouble

Died: February 8, 1995 Fort Wayne, Indiana

Louis Curdes joined the Army Reserves on March 12, 1942. He was commissioned a 2nd Lt, and rated a pilot on December 3, 1942 at Luke Field, Arizona. He joined the 329th FG, but transferred to the 82nd FG, 95th FS, where he saw action over North Africa, Sardinia and Italy flying P-38Gs. On April 29, 1943 he shot down three German Me-109s and damaged a fourth near Cap Bon, Tunisia. Two more Me-109s fell to his guns near Villacidro, Sardinia on May 19. On June 24 he brought down an Italian Mc.202 over Golfo Aranci, Sardinia. Another Me-109 was damaged on July 30 at Pratice di Mare, Italy. His last two victories in the Mediterranean Theater were two Me-109s over Benevento, Italy. During that action he was forced down and taken prisoner. He escaped from the POW camp on September 8, 1943 and managed to survive behind German lines until crossing into Allied territory on May 24, 1944. He requested combat duty in the Pacific, and joined the 4th FS (Commando), 3rd FG (Commando) in August 1944. On February 7, 1945 he shot down a Dinah while flying a P-51D thirty miles SW of Formosa. This feat made him one of three aces to have shot down enemy aircraft of all three Axis Powers. On February 10, 1945 he shot-up an American C-47 which was attempting to land on a Japanese held airstrip in the Batan Islands, Philippines; a chain of small islands north of Luzon. The aircraft force landed and thirteen crew and passengers were rescued. One of the passengers was a nurse that he later married. An American flag was added to the German, Italian and Japanese flags painted on his P-51D. After the war he transferred to the Air Force. He was promoted to Maj on September 1, 1951, and retired from the Air Force as a LtCol in October 1963.

Talley Record: 9 confirmed, 2 damaged

Decorations: 2 DFCs, PH, 15 AMs
Truth is stranger than fiction!

Requiescat In Pacem

Dedicated to my uncles Charles, Bob and Jack.

Edited to add:  Brigid has her say in her own eloquent and inimitable way.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Government v3.0, Confidence and Preference Cascades

In 1776 Thomas Jefferson, at the urging of the other Founders, wrote the Declaration of Independence - the fundamental philosophical document underlying the creation of these United States.  As a fundamental philosophical document it was, in part, a statement of how things ought to be, followed by a description of how things really were.  In particular, this passage was a statement of how things ought to be:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...
With very few exceptions in history, governments have been "instituted among Men" for very different reasons than to secure the rights of the governed.  Governments throughout history have been established for one reason and one reason only: to secure and expand the power and privilege of the powerful and privileged.

Just a year earlier in his bestseller Common Sense, Thomas Paine wrote:
Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise.
That was written from the perspective of an eighteenth-century Englishman, having come from a nation in which the Divine Right of Kings was already pretty severely curtailed by a Parliament of Lords and Commons.  But the coming Revolutionary War was based in resistance to that government extracting wealth from its colonies in violation of the rights of the people living in those colonies.

I'm currently reading Why Nations Fail:  The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty.  I should probably have waited until I finished the book before writing this essay, but so much is going on right now that the urge to write struck, and I must obey.  I'm about a third of the way into the book, and the authors have made the point, repeatedly, that all governments are, in their term, extractive - that is, government takes from the governed and redistributes that wealth...somehow.  As Paine put it "we furnish the means by which we suffer."  In the overwhelming majority of cases throughout history, that wealth has gone to line the pockets of King and cronies - securing and expanding the power and privilege of the powerful and privileged.  At best, these extractive governments result in technological and societal stagnation.  At worst, eventual societal collapse.  BUT - in those rare cases where "the right people are in charge" - occasionally a government works to allow its people to increase the overall wealth of the State.

This generally doesn't last long.  Robert Heinlein put it thus:
Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded -- here and there, now and then -- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as "bad luck."
What about "anarchy"?  The authors provide a couple of examples, but these go to illustrate their contention that, if actual, measurable wealth-creation is desired then some sort of centralized control is a prerequisite.  But central control is not sufficient in itself.  It is a mechanism as easily (more easily) implemented to extract wealth as to allow its creation.

Why not?  Why does wealth creation not occur without centralized control, nor last long even with it?

Human nature.

John Locke identified the incentives that led to economic advancement in America:  life, liberty, property.  Governments that protect these three things provide incentive for that extremely small minority -- frequently despised, often condemned and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people -- to create wealth.  They create this wealth not for the betterment of their fellow man, but because they can be (largely) assured they can keep it.

Still, a rising tide lifts all boats as the saying goes.

And stealing is easier than work, as another saying goes. 

In 1911 fascist sociologist Robert Michels proposed what he called The Iron Law of Oligarchy: 
It is organization which gives birth to the dominion of the elected over the electors, of the mandataries over the mandators, of the delegates over the delegators. Who says organization, says oligarchy.
Historical evolution mocks all the prophylactic measures that have been adopted for the prevention of oligarchy.
In the ten years I've been posting on this blog, I have been echoing this Iron Law, calling it "entropy," but in the end, it all boils down to the same thing - human nature.  Stealing is easier than working, and where better to steal than from the lofty (and protected) perch of Government Authority?  It's already legal, how hard is it to just turn the screws a little tighter?  It's for the Greater Good, you know.  Once you've convinced yourself of that, how hard is it to justify a little well-earned luxury?  Or extorting a little graft?

Government is power.  Power corrupts and attracts the corrupt.  We forget this at our peril.  Per the Iron Law of Oligarchy, government set up for any reason other than the protection of power and privilege are inevitably suborned.  Henry Louis Mencken observed:
All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him. If it be aristocratic in organization, then it seeks to protect the man who is superior only in law against the man who is superior in fact; if it be democratic, then it seeks to protect the man who is inferior in every way against both. One of its primary functions is to regiment men by force, to make them as much alike as possible and as dependent upon one another as possible, to search out and combat originality among them. All it can see in an original idea is potential change, and hence an invasion of its prerogatives. The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.
Author and scientist Jerry Pournell has written what I think is a corollary to Michel's Iron Law of Oligarchy, Pournell's Iron Law of Bureaucracy:
Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that there will be two kinds of people:
First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.
The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.
And that second group will fight to retain and increase the power and privilege their position gives them.  The examples are almost endless, ranging from spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on vehicles and  lavish office furnishings to outright embezzlement

And it isn't just the executive and legislative branches that are affected by corruption and power-hunger.  The Judicial branch has examples as egregious.  But overall, the people have trust and confidence in their government.  The West in general, and the U.S. in particular is what is termed a "high trust" society.  Economics blogger Arnold Kling says this about social trust:
If you can trust the processes of government, then that is a good thing. Good trust in government is based on processes that provide for accountability, checks and balances, equal protection, and punishment of official corruption.

Trusting the virtues of government leaders is a bad thing. It leads one to cede rights and powers to government that are easily abused.

...My idea of a high-trust society differs from that of many elites. Elitist journalists think that a high-trust society is one where we trust the mainstream media. Elitist politicians and activists think that a high-trust society is one where we trust legislators, regulators, and experts to exercise broad authority. In contrast, I believe that a high-trust society is one in which processes ensure that elites are subject to checks and accountability. It is particularly important for legislators, regulators, and experts to have their authority limited and their accountability assured.
Robert Heinlein again:
Any government will work if authority and responsibility are equal and coordinate. This does not insure "good" government, it simply insures that it will work. But such governments are rare — most people want to run things, but want no part of the blame. This used to be called the "backseat driver" syndrome.
So, in general the population of the United States accepts a certain level of corruption, overreach and petty tyranny because, well, human nature. We believe that some people cannot be trusted, but most can.   We expect the mechanisms of our government, the checks and balances, to rein in the worst cases and we live with the minor stuff because overall, the system works.

In recent weeks multiple political scandals have hit the news, and older ones have been revived.  Let's list some:
I'll ignore the Benghazi scandal at the moment, because all of the items listed above share a common theme - suppression of political opposition by an administration - protecting the power and privilege of the powerful and privileged.  Here's Piers Morgan's take on it from a few days ago:

Peggy Noonan wrote last week in her Wall Street Journal op-ed This is No Ordinary Scandal about the IRS debacle, concluding:
Everyone involved in this abuse of power should pay a price, because if they don't, the politicization of the IRS will continue—forever. If it is not stopped now, it will never stop. And if it isn't stopped, no one will ever respect or have even minimal faith in the revenue-gathering arm of the U.S. government again.
She followed up with another piece, A Battering Ram Becomes a Stonewall, repeating:
Again, if what happened at the IRS is not stopped now—if the internal corruption within it is not broken—it will never stop, and never be broken. The American people will never again be able to have the slightest confidence in the revenue-gathering arm of their government. And that, actually, would be tragic.
Bob Krumm retorted to that last:
Actually it wouldn’t be “tragic” if the American people were not to have confidence in this or any arm of their government.  It would be exactly what the Founders called for. My favorite quotation from the entire 85 editions of the Federalist Papers is this one from Federalist 25 by Alexander Hamilton:
"The people are always most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the least suspicion."
In fact, you could almost sum up the gist of the entire Constitution with that single statement, as the Constitution attempted to set up a system where no branch of government was in sole possession of the means of injuring our rights.  How far we have strayed, however, when the wing of the government that determines how much of our labors are to be taken into the Federal trough also inquires about our associations,  our religious practices, and soon, our medical care. Peggy, you are right to call for a special investigator.  But you are wrong to assert that it is a tragedy if, as a result of this scandal, we no longer have  confidence in the IRS.  The real tragedies would occur as a result of believing that any branch of government was deserving of our unsuspicious confidence.
Thomas Jefferson also wrote in the Declaration of Independence:
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Back in 2004 TheGeekWitha.45 wrote:
We, who studied the shape and form of the machines of freedom and oppression, have looked around us, and are utterly dumbfounded by what we see. We see first that the machinery of freedom and Liberty is badly broken. Parts that are supposed to govern and limit each other no longer do so with any reliability. We examine the creaking and groaning structure, and note that critical timbers have been moved from one place to another, that some parts are entirely missing, and others are no longer recognizable under the wadded layers of spit and duct tape. Other, entirely new subsystems, foreign to the original design, have been added on, bolted at awkward angles. -- We know the tools and mechanisms of oppression when we see them. We've studied them in depth, and their existence on our shores, in our times, offends us deeply. We can see the stirrings of malevolence, and we take stock of the damage they've caused over so much time. Others pass by without a second look, with no alarm or hue and cry, as if they are blind, as if they don't understand what they see before their very eyes. We want to shake them, to grasp their heads and turn their faces, shouting, "LOOK! Do you see what this thing is? Do you see how it might be put to use? Do you know what can happen if this thing becomes fully assembled and activated?"
 But C.S. Lewis observed not so long ago:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences.
When "moral busybodies" achieve positions high in bureaucracies, when they "write the rules, and control promotions within the organization," then tyranny - even the petty tyranny of lemonade stand inspectors - is never far behind.

Let me switch gears here for a moment.  I follow Bill Whittle's work fairly closely, including his sporadic Stratosphere Lounge vidcasts.  For a while now, Bill has been painting a rosy picture of our political future.  He credits Thad McCotter, former Michigan Congressman, for the observation that our Constitution was written essentially by farmers for an agrarian nation.  It was not well suited to an industrialized nation where large and diverse populations lived crammed into urban areas, and an extremely small minority - despised, condemned, and opposed by all right-thinking people - accumulated vast quantities of wealth.  That produced Government v.2.0 - large, ponderous, heavily bureaucratized and regulating.  With the strictures laid down by the architecture of the Constitution, this took some time, but the Iron Law of Bureaucracy enabled the bypassing, dismantling, folding, spindling and mutilating of the original document under the banner of necessity.

But, McCotter advises, the Information Age will eventually change all of that.  When an individual can pick up an iPhone and order steel from China, the world is a very different place and our massive, sclerotic Gov.2.0 can no longer keep up.  Case in point - gun control.  The recently released design for a functional printable handgun resulted in the inevitable government crackdown on that design, but it's too late - "You can't stop the signal." 

The idea of Government v3.0 has resulted, unsurprisingly, in a book - America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity In The 21st Century.  Glenn Reynolds wrote an op-ed recently on the idea, Future's So Bright We Have to Wear Shades.  Excerpt:
The book's authors, James Bennett and Michael Lotus, argue that things seem rough because we're in a period of transition, like those after the Civil War and during the New Deal era. Such transitions are necessarily bumpy, but once they're navigated the country comes back stronger than ever.


If America 2.0 was a fit for the world of giant steel mills and monolithic corporations, America 3.0 will be fit for the world of consumer choice and Internet speed.

Of course, America 2.0 won't really vanish. Just as the America 1.0 spirit of entrepreneurialism and ingenuity survived in the shops and garages that gave birth to the Internet era, the big bureaucracies won't vanish -- they'll just become smaller and less significant. And, hopefully, more solvent.

In a way, our current problems exemplify the need for change. As Democratic strategist David Axelrod said last week, "the government is so vast" that we can't expect a president to actually be in charge of things. A government that is too big for its chief executive to manage is something that can't go on forever. Time for change, and the sooner, the better.
Bill Whittle thinks the way to Government v3.0 is through what he calls "parallel structures." One example is homeschooling. You pay your property taxes which go to fund public education, but you keep your kids out of that system and pay - again - to give your kid an actual education. Further, you join up with other homeschooling families and form a cooperative to keep your costs down. Get retired business professionals to teach, for example.

Another example - stop thinking of yourself as defined by your employment. Instead of doing the America 2.0 thing of trying to work for one company or in one industry for your whole career, think of yourself instead as a contract worker. What can you do? What are your hobbies? Can you monetize them? A good example of this is Larry Corriea, ex-gun dealer, ex-accountant, now author - but he could do any or all if necessary, and he's fully self-employed now.

It sounds wonderful.

But it ignores the Iron Laws of Oligarchy and Bureaucracy.

The transition from Government v.1.0 to Government v.2.0 was inevitable.  It was an expansion in the power of bureaucracy, and it increased the power and privilege of the powerful and privileged.  Government v.3.0?  Not so much.  If you think lemonade stand inspectors are bad, wait until the government really starts reacting against the Information Age economy.

The concept of the Preference Cascade is credited to Turkish economist Timur Kuran.  Glenn Reynolds described the idea in a 2002 op-ed, Patriotism and Preferences.  In short, average people behave the way they think they ought to, even though that behavior might not reflect their own personal feelings.  Given a sufficient "A-HA!" moment when they discover that their personal feelings are shared by a large portion of the population their behavior may change dramatically.  An example of this is the British colonists before and after publication of Thomas Paine's Common Sense.  A year before the Declaration of Independence, America was full of patriotic British convinced that things could be worked out with King George, but on July 4, 1776 the colonies were full of Americans determined that they needed independence.  Another is the recent "Arab Spring."  The catalyst there has been credited to the self-immolation of Tunisian merchant Mohamed Bouazizi in protest of his treatment by government authorities.

The Information Age allows the sharing of this kind of information at light-speed and it bypasses government censorship.  Note governments now trying to slam doors shut on IP telephony,  instant messaging, etc. 

In 2005 at the now-defunct blog Silent Running, its author wrote:
(Lord Kenneth Clark) said one of the most important features of a civilization, if not the most, was confidence. Confidence that it would still be around next year, that it was worthwhile planting crops now, so they could be harvested next season. Confidence that soldiers wouldn’t suddenly appear on the horizon and destroy your farm. Confidence that an apple seed planted in your backyard will provide fruit for your grandchildren. That if you paint a fresco, the wall its on will still be standing in a century. That if you write a book, the language you use will still be understood half a millennia in the future. And that if you hauled stone for the great cathedral which had been building since before your father was born, and which your baby son might live to see completed if, the good Lord willing, he lived to be an old man; your efforts would be valued by subsequent generations stretching forward toward some unimaginably distant futurity. And above all, the self-confidence that you are part of something grander than yourself, something with roots in the past, and a glorious future of achievement ahead of it. When the Romans lost that self confidence, when they began doubting their own purpose, they began to die. When the Rhine opposite Cologne froze on the last dying day of the year 406CE and the motley horde of Suevi, Alans, and Vandals charged across the Imperial border into the province of Gaul, that was the beginning of the end merely in the physical sense. They were simply taking an axe to an already rotten tree.
Here is a one-dollar bill:

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It's ink on paper. It represents an idea, one that is shared by billions of people all over the planet.

This is also ink on paper. It too represents an idea shared by billions of people all over the planet. 

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Why will one of them get you a hamburger off the value menu at McDonalds, and the other won't? Because of what those billions of people believe.

The current National Debt is in excess of $16,800,000,000,000. Our unfunded liabilities under current law exceed $124,000,000,000,000.

The Information Age is here. Government v.2.0 is massive, sclerotic, invasive, inept, corrupt, incompetent, malicious, vindictive - it is, in short, what the second type of bureaucrats make it in the furtherance of the bureaucracy and their own power and privilege.  And the Iron Law of Oligarchy says:
Historical evolution mocks all the prophylactic measures that have been adopted for the prevention of oligarchy.
People keep acting as though things can keep going on as they have, but as Glenn Reynolds keeps repeating, "Something that can't go on forever, won't."

At some point there will be a preference cascade. What that cascade will result in is impossible to predict, but I doubt it will be the rosy Government v.3.0 predicted by Bill Whittle and the authors of America 3.0.  I think Bill doubts it, too.  During his speech here in Tucson last week, he pulled out a dollar bill and one of those hundred-trillion Zimbabwe dollar asswipes.  During the Great Depression, he said, America had not fully transitioned to the Industrial Age.  A great number of people still lived on farms or at least grew a significant portion of their own food in gardens, so starvation wasn't a significant cause of death, but now?  Cities and suburbs exist on two or three days worth of food that must be trucked in.  If the common belief in the value of the dollar goes away, what will that look like?  And, pace Peggy Noonan, if people lose all confidence in not just the revenue-gathering arm of Government v.2.0, but all of it, what will that look like?

One thing's for sure - the powerful and privileged will do whatever it takes to keep as much power and privilege as they can.  And Government v.2.0 will be the tool by which it's accomplished.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bill Whittle - Real People

And Ignorant of All

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Or they plead the Fifth.

(h/t: 90 Miles from Tyranny [NSFW!])

Paradigm Shift?

If real, this could be as significant as Watt's perfection of the steam engine: Finally! Independent Testing Of Rossi's E-Cat Cold Fusion Device: Maybe The World Will Change After All

Read it and all the links, but here's the pullquote:
While a few commentators have raised criticisms concerning how the measurements were made and sources of error others have argued that the energy produced is so significant even knocking off an order of magnitude on either axis still portrays a process with insanely valuable output.
Faster, please.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


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Joe Scarborough Agrees with Piers Morgan

It feeds into this notion that government is either inept, or it's corrupt. -- Sam Stein, Huffington Post @ 1:15
How about BOTH?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Quote of the Day - Affirmative Action Edition

From Grumpy Old Fart in a comment:
Affirmative Action is, and always has been, the political equivalent of insisting that Tiger Woods use the women's tee because he's black.
Can I get an "AMEN!"?

And read the rest of the comment. Spot-on.

Thomas Sowell - Intellectuals and Race

I may be giving you filler, but it's QUALITY filler.

Must be Something in the Air, pollen.

I feel another Überpost coming on.  I think this one will be pretty long.  Content will be light in the interim.  The Free Ice Cream Machine is set to "LOW."

Friday, May 17, 2013

"If You've Lost Piers, You've Lost all 3 of His Viewers"

Piers Morgan's grudging admission:

Post title comes from one of the comments to the video.

Shut Up, Peon

James Kaleda explains that the proposed NJ Gun Bills will not save any lives but will endanger them. He is ejected by Committee Chair Senator Norcross. This took place at the NJ Senate gun control hearings in Trenton on April 30, 2013.
As the Geekwitha.45 puts it, "The dark and fascist state of New Jersey."

Edited to add this:

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Overreach. Overreach. OVERREACH?!?

So the Chicago Tribune posts an op-ed on Wednesday, Obama and overreach: Americans see evidence of truth-shading, arrogance and intrusion.

First, let me check the definition of the word "overreach":
1: to reach above or beyond : overtop

2: to defeat (oneself) by seeking to do or gain too much

3: to get the better of especially in dealing and bargaining and typically by unscrupulous or crafty methods
I think they were going for definition 2, but NOT.  And "truth-shading" is a polite way of saying "lying."  Let us fisk:
•Multiple White House claims about Washington's handling of the murderous raid in Benghazi stand exposed as false.

•Internal Revenue Service officials admit a worse-by-the-day scandal that appalls fair-minded Americans.

•The U.S. Department of Justice scrambles to explain its clandestine collection of records on work and personal telephone lines that The Associated Press says are used by more than 100 of its journalists.

In reaction, the White House blames political opponents, disavows ownership or pleads ignorance.
Like this:

And this:

And, edited to add this:

Hard as it may be, then, set aside your own politics and ask yourself which of these Monday statements rings truer:

"The whole issue of talking points, frankly, throughout this process has been a sideshow. ... And suddenly, three days ago, this gets spun up as if there's something new to the story. There's no 'there' there."

— President Barack Obama, dismissing congressional scrutiny of his and his subordinates' statements about Benghazi as a "political circus"

"Americans should take notice that top Obama administration officials increasingly see themselves as above the law and emboldened by the belief that they don't have to answer to anyone."

— House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa
For now, many among us would take Option 2. With each of these troubling disclosures, the Obama administration finds itself reacting to appearances of overreach, of arrogance, of determination to dodge its embarrassments rather than to take ownership of them.
"Many among us" only in Chicago. In the rest of flyover country, it's about 100%.
We don't expect unanimity of agreement on this. On each of these controversies, though, even some of the president's most loyal supporters — from Capitol Hill to the liberal commentariat to Main Streets across the land — are questioning the government's conduct on his watch. That turnabout either angers or amuses opponents inclined to ask the supporters, "Where have you been?"
Or "Where were you before the election?" Mostly directed at the MEDIA.
At each of these turns, the Obama administration has looked manipulative, defensive and peevish. In one sense those aren't startling reactions; they're vulnerabilities for any White House that, like this one, wants an image of moral righteousness, honesty and transparency.

Taken together, though, these controversies project a less flattering image of truth-shading, hubris and intrusion. In the week of humiliating disclosures that started with last Wednesday's congressional hearing on Benghazi, Americans haven't seen the administration exhibit ... one shred of humility:

•The White House and State Department have taken vague responsibility for Benghazi mistakes, but neither has produced answers to the most crucial questions, starting with:

Who, exactly, had rejected repeated requests for security upgrades from U.S. officials in Libya? Who, exactly, decided not to attempt a military rescue, an F-16 flyover, a NATO or other allied reaction, something, during the eight-hour assault? Who, exactly, let the task of informing the American people deteriorate into an orgy of tail-covering and lies? And why, exactly, does the president's spokesman still mislead Americans by suggesting that the Central Intelligence Agency, rather than the State Department or White House, drove that process — essentially blaming CIA staffers who did the typing rather than blaming administration officials who told them what to type?
I'll let Attorney General address those questions:

•The IRS' disclosure that it had inordinately targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status was astonishing. No more astonishing, though, than Tuesday's news that the IRS allegedly gave nonpublic information about nine of those groups to ProPublica, an investigative journalism organization.

Obama called the early disclosures outrageous and vowed to learn "exactly what happened on this." The president would have better served himself and his administration, though, by acknowledging the shriekingly obvious: If IRS officials were trying to hinder conservative groups that opposed Obama, that means high-level federal officials were trying to steer the Nov. 6 election to the president. There was no such candor from the president or, Tuesday, from his spokesman.

•Americans thus far know less about the Justice Department's grab of AP staffers' phone records. But here, too, many of those Americans can't help but ask if all the president's men and women stay up late, trying to look intrusive.
The question they ought to be asking is whether this is Standard Operating Procedure for government entities. I have no illusions that this kind of behavior began with Obama's administration - they're just less competent at it.
By the AP's account, Justice subjected the organization to an unprecedented invasion of its news-gathering operations. The evident goal: to identify the government source(s) of a May 2012 AP story about a CIA operation in Yemen that had stopped an al-Qaida plot to bomb a U.S.-bound airplane.

Once again, a question raised by the Benghazi debacle resonates loudly: As the 2012 presidential election approached, were some federal officials overstepping bounds to shore up the president's campaign claim that, as he said at the Democratic National Convention, "al-Qaida is on the path to defeat"?

The easiest way for the president and his White House to further that rising suspicion — we emphasize that it's thus far unproven — is to demonstrate three things to his newly energized foes and to his friends who didn't expect this sort of conduct: that his subordinates will end their egregious stonewalling on Benghazi, will pursue the IRS scandal as high as it goes and will demand full disclosure of whether his Justice Department scrupulously followed the law in its pursuit of journalists' phone records.
Um, excuse me, but what about Fast & Furious? Can we pursue that scandal "as high as it goes" and "demand full disclosure" of his Justice Department?
Until the president makes and keeps those three assurances, he'll continue to make Issa's accusation ring true: This administration looks guilty of overreach — of believing it is above the law.
The administration looks guilty, but not of "overreach."

Quote of the Day - IRS Scandal Edition

Where, one wonders, did "anyone at the IRS that was involved in this" get the idea that it was a good thing to do? Were they just going to drop it on the porch, like a cat bringing home a dead sparrow, and hope they would be praised by He Who Wieldeth the Opener of Cans?

It's possible, but it's not the way to bet. I leave the implications (for now) as an exercise for the reader.

-- MiddleAgedKen

Photographic Evidence

Sorry about the pause in blogging, but I took my grandson to see Iron Man 3 last night.

So, photographic evidence of Bill Whittle's appearance in Tucson on Tuesday:

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Bill at the podium

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Bill and local talk-radio host James T. Harris.

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Bill and me.

As I said, the man does give a helluva speech, and afterward he took questions as "Mr. Virtual President." I asked him why Thomas Sowell had never been made Secretary of the Treasury. Bill's answer: "Because about thirty seconds after confirmation, the Fed would cease to exist."

Edited to add this five minute segment of Bill's speech - how to sell freedom, wealth creation and virtue to college students:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Safe, Low Gun-Violence Britain

Where they now have some cops foot-patrolling carrying honest-to-jeebus assault rifles:
Playground gun law: In a grim portrait of modern Britain, rifle-toting police mix with children on estate plagued by gang shootings

  • Bedfordshire town suffers nine shootings in four month crime wave

  • Police say armed patrols in place for 'foreseeable future' to deter violence

  • Officers with guns and dogs will also be increasing searches to find weapons

  • With a heavily-armed policeman guarding the playground, assault rifle at the ready, it could be the scene of a terror alert.

    In fact, this is a routine patrol just yards from a suburban primary school.

    The show of force is designed to calm residents of an estate plagued by gang shootings.

    In the past four months there have been nine gun-related incidents in Luton linked to the Marsh Farm and Lewsey Farm estates.

    In the latest, a 16-year-old boy was shot in the back early on Saturday morning. He may never walk again.

    The violence has left law-abiding families so terrified they welcome the patrols, even if they risk scaring children.

    Faye Bell, 37, a mother of two, said: 'The armed police might seem heavy-handed to some people but to us they are hugely reassuring.

    'It's very sad that it has come to this but we need the police to be armed so they can protect our kids.'

    The officers, with a dog unit, have been patrolling the estate near the rundown Purley shopping centre all week.

    Marsh Farm residents told the Daily Mail yesterday that the armed patrols had given them the confidence to go outside.

    Shannon Read, 17, said: 'I don't really come out of my house at all so it's reassuring to know these patrols are here.

    'I knew the lad who got shot on Saturday so it has been even more terrifying recently.'

    Darren Putney, 46, added: ‘Some of the children on the way to school or in the play area look frightened.

    'But the police need to make their presence known.'

    The officers carry Heckler and Koch G36C assault rifles with 5.56mm calibre ammunition that can pierce body armour.
     photo article-2324949-19CDC3EF000005DC-867_306x615.jpg

    But those are only good for spray-firing from the hip and gunning down large numbers of people!!  How is that gun control working out for you, again? And what about these people's right to "freedom from fear"? I thought the "strictest control of firearms" was supposed to protect them, not Bobbies carrying assault rifles.

    (h/t to expat Phil B. from New Zealand via email.)

    Tuesday, May 14, 2013

    Steven Den Beste Returns

    In a rare political post on his anime blog Chizumatic, Steven opines on the media's reaction to the current Washington scandals in See no Evil.  My only disagreement with Steven comes from this excerpt:
    So even though we're increasingly uncomfortable acting as a shill for the government instead of as an opposing force, the way we always thought the press was supposed to be, ...
    The press doesn't take that position. The press has an administrative control bias that is decidedly Leftist in slant. They're an "opposing force" only when the wrong people are in charge, or are doing something that the New York Times editors don't agree with.  The rest of the time they see their job as conveying the divine grace of government to the laypeople of the public.

    Other than that, spot-on.

    Perhaps now someone in addition to Sharyl Atkisson of ABCNNBCBS will do some actual reporting.

    Bill Whittle... even better in person than he is on video. Unfortunately, I can't download the pictures or the short video clip I recorded at the moment, but it was great to hear him speak, to hear him answer questions extemporaneously (no teleprompter!) and to speak to him afterward. I got him to sign my 1st Edition copy of Silent America: Essays from a democracy at war, too.

    Best blogiversary present ever.

    Mr. Virtual President on Entitlements

    Really looking forward to seeing Bill tonight here in Tucson.

    Even Jon Stewart Gets It

    In a few short weeks, you've managed to show that when the government wants to do good things, your managerial competence falls somewhere between David Brent and a cat chasing a laser pointer, but when government wants to flex its more malevolent muscles, YOU'RE FUCKING IRON MAN!
    Yup. That's it exactly. (Had to look up the David Brent reference.)

    Edited to add this as Quote of the Day:
    This has, in one seismic moment, shifted the burden of proof from the tinfoil behatted to the government.
    Where that burden ought to be all of the time.

    This Blog is 10

    I did this post on the first blogiversary of TSM, and now on its Tenth, I thought I'd dust it off and update it. Forty-four Things About This Blog:

    1) I started this blog on Wednesday, May 14, 2003.

    2) I'm 42 51 years old.

    3) I'm male, white, married, and overweight. I drive a pickup. (4WD. No gunrack, though.) The '99 4.0L Ranger supercab is long gone, replaced by a 2006 (2WD) Tundra and more recently by a 2002 F250 7.3L diesel 4x4.

    4) I have an IQ somewhere in the 130's, and my Meyers-Briggs personality type is INTJ. (My wife says I should frame that description for future reference - it's that accurate.) Supposedly INTJ's make up only one or two percent of the population. That would explain a lot.  No changes.

    5) I have a BA degree in General Studies after spending 5½ years in college studying Physics, Mathematics, and Engineering.  No changes here, either except for an advanced degree in the School of Hard Knocks.

    6) The Arizona Board of Technical Registration says I'm a qualified, registered Professional Engineer, (Electrical). The State of Nevada is similarly convinced.

    7) I have a rare genetic enzyme disorder that causes a condition known as Acute Intermittent Porphyria. My case is relatively mild and doesn't affect my mental balance, but it hurts pretty bad when it occurs and it requires me to sustain a carbohydrate-heavy diet - just ONE reason I'm fat. However, since I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes, I haven't had another porphyria attack.  Oh, joy.  Now I have to learn to NOT eat carbs.  Which sucks.

    8) I do not smoke, I do not drink, and I've never taken an illicit substance. I've never been intoxicated and never wanted to be. I don't understand the attraction and don't want to. But I don't believe it's the business of government to tell me that I cannot.  No change here, either.

    9) I'm a shooter and a reloader. Those are two of my hobbies. My blog is another, though it has consumed the majority of my time, spare and otherwise, over the last year ten years. I also own a 1967 fastback big-block Mustang that will (someday) be built into a 500Hp highway-cruising hotrod.  I sold the '67 in 2008, and then bought a 1989 to fix my jones, but I ended up selling than one, too.  And buying a 2011 GT. 400Hp will do, though.  I have it and the F250.

    10) I have two siblings; a brother five years older who is a professional auto mechanic, and a sister four years older who is a public school teacher.  Sister's getting ready to retire, I think.

    11) Both of my parents are still alive and in their (late) 70's. (My dates were screwed up.  They were in their late 60's in 2004.) We all live in the same city.  Mom's getting pretty frail.

    12) I was pretty much apolitical for most of my life. I was 12 years old when Nixon resigned, and I was quite happy when Jimmy Carter won the Presidency. THAT was short-lived. I turned 18 in 1980 and voted for Ronald Reagan for President. It was quite obvious to me that Carter was a nice man, but a lousy President. He's still a nice man, but he should stick to building houses and stay the fuck out of policy. Still hold the same opinion, but I think less of Jimmuh today.  And even less of the current President.

    13) Since that time there has not been a single candidate I was happy to vote for but quite a number I was more than willing to vote against. In almost every case, my vote has been against the Democrat running.  Still voting against.

    14) In 1992 I voted against G.H.W. Bush AND William Jefferson Clinton by casting my ballot for H. Ross Perot. I did not make that mistake a second time, though by then it didn't matter. I didn't really want Dole either. Nor have I wanted G.W. Bush or McLame or Romney.  I want to vote for the best candidate, but he never RUNS!

    15) In 2000 I cast my vote against Al Gore. On Sept. 12, 2001 I was very glad I had. I'm not quite as content with my decision today, but I still believe that Gore would have been an unmitigated disaster. (G.W. Bush is merely a mitigated one. His domestic policies are a mess. His prosecution of the war is not.) I believe the same to be true of any potential Democrat candidate for the seat this year. As I note below, I don't think Kerry will be the name on the ticket come November.  Wrong on that one.  Ever since then, I've voted against the Democrat candidate, even going so far as to vote for McLame.  We're now into Obama's second term.  Things do not look good for what's left of the Republic.

    16) In general, my politics are those of a pragmatic libertarian (small "L"). I believe in maximum freedom and personal responsibility. I recognize that those are relatively rare traits. (Remember my Meyers-Briggs personality type. "Does it WORK?")  Still hold to that.

    17) I had an AR-15 "post-ban" "assault rifle" custom built for me in 1997, specifically because of the 1994 AWB. And that sucker shoots. But it's still the pipsqueak .223 varmint cartridge.  I have since purchased a Stag Arms M4gery upper, a complete Bushmaster lower, and built my own lower on a York Arms stripped receiver, topped with a Rock River .458 SOCOM upper.  That's three evil black rifles, and not one of them has killed anybody.  Must be defective.

    18) When the AWB sunsets, I intend to buy an FN-FAL "black rifle" in celebration. Probably about 2006. There are other guns I want more in the mean time.  In fact, instead of an FN-FAL, I had an LRB M25 forged receiver built up into a very nice semi-auto M-14, but it took until 2010 to get it.

    19) I'm a shooter, not a collector. I don't like overly fancy guns, but functional ones. I like hitting small things from a long way off, so most everything I've got is rifled. I have one shotgun, a Mossberg 590 model 50665. It is not a Sporting Clays gun. Still have just the one scattergun.  I might eventually get a semi-auto, but it's not high on my list of desires.

    20) I'm primarily a handgun shooter, though I really like rifles. I am the match director for the local International Handgun Metallic Silhouette matches a the Tucson Rifle Club.  Gave that up several years ago.    

    21) I'm also the TRC's Pistol Director, though that duty hasn't required much of me.  I dropped that when I stopped running the IHMSA matches.  I was re-elected to the board again when I started running Bowling Pin matches, but I stopped running those as of January this year.  I resigned as Pistol Director in April.  They needed someone who spent more time at the range than I've been able to.

    22) My favorite target pistol is my Remington XP-100 center-grip chambered in 7mm Benchrest. Haven't shot that one much since I stopped shooting IHMSA.  Now my favorite target pistol is my Kimber Classic Stainless, which I have used to shoot both Bowling Pin and USPSA.  I'm not actively competing currently, but I'm considering Steel Challenge.

    23) I'm a shooter, not a hunter. I understand the appeal that hunting has for some, but for me hunting is "taking your gun for a walk." If you do it right, you only pull the trigger once, and then things get messy.  Feral Hog is beginning to appeal to me, as is prairie dog.  In both cases, you don't have to do anything with the carcasses.

    24) I prefer shooting steel to punching paper. I like reactive targets. Still do.

    25) I have shot clay pigeons in the air with my sporterized 1917 Enfield in its standard .30-06 chambering, shooting Korean military surplus 147 grain FMJ ammo. I hit three out of the first ten. I have witnesses. (I missed all of the next ten, though.)

    26) I want to do it again.  But haven't since.  Still would like to, though.

    27) My favorite handgun is my (aforementioned) Kimber Custom Stainless 1911 in its John Moses Browning intended caliber of .45 ACP. My favorite load (Disclaimer: Use At Your Own Risk) is a 200 grain Speer Gold Dot hollowpoint over 7.0 grains of Unique. Out of my pistol it pushes 950fps, hits with a 6 o'clock hold at 25 yards and with a dead-on hold at 50. It feeds and functions with complete reliability. I wonder if I could hit a clay in the air with it.  Still do.

    27) When it comes to bolt-action rifles, I'm a cock-on-close enthusiast. My first bolt gun was a No. 4 Mk I Lee Enfield, my second a 1896 Swedish Mauser. Now that I've acquired a 1917 Enfield and a P-14 Enfield, I'm even more convinced that cock-on-close is the way it ought to be. Your mileage may vary. I don't give a shit.  I have, however, gotten used to cock-on-open, even though it seems odd.

    28) I'm also convinced that recoil, at least to some point, is something you can simply learn to ignore. When I started shooting rifles, my .303 No. 4 kicked pretty damned hard. Now I can sit at a bench and put 100 rounds through my 1917 with essentially no discomfort. I've fired a couple hundred rounds of .30-06, .303, and 12 gauge high-base in a single afternoon and had barely a bruise and just a tiny bit of stiffness the next day.  I have also learned to like muzzle brakes, as long as I'm BEHIND it.  I recently purchased a .300 Win Mag.  That one has a brake.

    29) Flinching, on the other hand, requires a LOT of practice to overcome, and it comes back if you don't keep up your practice. Intentionally setting off an explosion a few inches from your face is not a natural act. It takes a while to convince your subconscious that everything is copacetic, and I don't think it remains convinced long.  And hard-recoiling guns (like my .45LC M25 Mountain Gun with 285 grain bullets at 950fps) tend to cause flinch to return with a vengeance after a few cylinders full.

    30) I think I prefer handguns because shooting a handgun well is more difficult than shooting a rifle well. I like the challenge.  But I like the challenge of hitting stuff a long way off, so rifles are gaining.

    31) I like reloading because it requires concentration and precision, just like shooting does. Loading my own ammo adds that much more control over the entire process. It doesn' hurt that it costs a lot less than buying commercial, either. But I won't load for someone else, and I won't shoot someone else's reloads.  No change here except I've added a lot more equipment for reloading in the last ten years.

    32) Back to politics: I think our political system has degenerated from "loyal opposition" to out-and-out "the other side." I think this bodes ill for our future as a nation. The polarization affects about 10-15% of the population, leaving 70-80% in the middle pretty sick and tired of all the crap they have to put up with. Unfortunately, very few in that middle bother to vote much. Fewer bother to think.  This trend has apparently accelerated.

    33) I'm a REPUBLICAN but not a member of the "Republican Party." By that, I mean that I believe our Founders had it right in that Democracy was a quick path to Hell. As one local op-ed columnist put it recently
    The Electoral College stands as an elitist and blatant reminder that the founders of this nation believed the rabble - that's us - couldn't be trusted with the task of directly choosing our president.
    And they were right. About that and a lot more. But we've managed to (mostly) overcome the safeguards they built in, and the rabble - that's us - has managed to do what DeTocqueville (or someone) warned against:
    "The American Democratic experiment will succeed until the people realize they can vote themselves money from the public treasury... then it will collapse."
    That's what a Republic is supposed to prevent. It failed. It was supposed to be foolproof, but we keep making better fools. I have become convinced that the manufacturing of said fools has been deliberate.

    34) I have a stepdaughter, about to turn 25 34, who is a product of Tucson's public schools.

    35) I have two grandchildren, one four thirteen and one five fourteen, who will also be have been exposed to that system. I hope to be I have been able to intervene, or at least mitigate the impact. I am not, regardless of my sister's chosen profession, a public school enthusiast. I am convinced that the public school systems are a tool, deliberately crafted twisted by the left to produce mindless, unthinking, compliant, obedient proles. And they are largely successful in spite of the efforts of teachers like my sister.

    36) And I'm beginning to wonder about the effects of 20+ years of public school systems ON my sister.  I don't wonder anymore.

    37) I hope that the world my grandchildren grow up in is a bright, cheerful, and safe one. With the rise of radical Islam and the moonbat Left, I don't think it will be.  Still don't.

    38) I intend for them to be able to think for themselves and stand up for their rights. And I will threaten violence, if necessary, to keep the "authorities" from putting my grandson on Ritalin or any other substance when he happens to exhibit a personality in the classroom.  They haven't threatened that yet.

    39) I concentrate in this blog on the right to arms because, to me, it is the litmus test of the politician's faith. If you do not trust the populace with arms, you should not be a leader. A Republic needs to be lead by leaders, not people courting popular support. Always understand that some will not be worthy of that trust, but that's not reason to strip all of their rights. Government is there to protect the rights of its citizens, not parent them.  And ten years on, I still believe this, and still blog.

    40) In a Democracy, the majority rules. If 50% +1 decide that all left-handed redheads should be exiled, then it's law and that's all there is to it. A Constitutional Republic has a basis in law that says "Government may NOT DO" and "Government may ONLY DO" and when it strays from those rules, its citizens lose. That system WORKS, as long as we let it. But once we start bending those restrictions for personal advantage or the "general welfare," it begins to fail. Our system began failing almost from inception, but for over 200 years it has worked better than any other government in history, making the United States of America the most free, most productive, and most hopeful nation on Earth.

    And I hope we can prevent it from collapsing under the weight of 225 years of being fucked with "by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."

    (41) This, according to Blogspot, will be my 1,020th 6010th post since starting this blog.  

    (42) Sitemeter says there have been over 3.5 million site visits.   

    (43) This site says TSM ranks 15th among the gunblogs.

    (44) I have met probably fifty or more other bloggers over the last ten years, easily a dozen just a couple of weekends ago.  You have been uniformly some of the nicest, most generous and most intelligent people I could ever have hoped to meet.

    And, in a now well-established TSM tradition, I'd like to use someone else's words once again to say what I want to say better than I could say it myself.  In the Vicious Circle podcast from the week after the passing of William the Coroner, Tribes, Breda said this:
    I'm one of those people - I like people, I'm personable, but I don't really have "friends" friends, because I just don't connect to people really that well.  But then blogs happened, and I found a whole group of people that I fit in with because I'm weird and they're weird in kinda the same way, and yea for our mutual weirdness.  So, thank you for being weird with me.
    "Thank you for being weird with me."  Pretty much says it all.

    Sunday, May 12, 2013

    "...people are not inherently good in nature..."

    Some people misunderstand what that phrase actually means, even after it's been explained to them.

    (h/t to Van der Leun for the video.)

    Friday, May 10, 2013

    New Coke

    Bill Whittle's latest Afterburner:

    Increasing Gun Ownership

    Another example:
    Pit bulls kill jogger

    A pack of up to four pit bull terriers has been blamed for the death of a jogger in rural Los Angeles, with officials warning on Thursday that the dogs remained on the loose.

    Sheriff's Lieutenant John Corina said a woman in a car saw the dogs attacking the female jogger, 63, on Thursday morning. The witness called police and blew her car horn to try to get the dogs to stop.

    "When the first deputy on scene saw one dog still attacking the woman, he tried to chase the dog away," Corina said. "The dog ran off into the desert, then turned around and attacked the deputy, the deputy fired a round at the dog and tried to kill the dog, and the dog took off into the desert."

    The woman died while she was in an ambulance on the way to a hospital, said Evelina Villa, county animal control spokeswoman.


    Residents near the site of the attack said stray dogs were constantly roaming the area and had attacked people before. "It's really scary," Diane Huffman, of Littlerock, told KABC-TV. "I don't know what to think. I really think I'm going to be getting a gun to protect myself."
    Everyone repeat after me:  "When seconds count, the police are only minutes away!" 

    Good luck to her. Should be interesting when she finds out what the hoops are she has to jump through to get a gun in California, much less a carry permit.

    Nobody Wants to Confiscate Your Guns

    Nobody but the New Jersey legislature.  Confiscate, confiscate, confiscate.

    As Sebastian says,
    You know what would help prevent gun owners from always being paranoid that gun control activists and politicians were after their guns? Not actually being after our guns.

    Agenda? What Agenda?

    Steven Crowder's latest:

    Yup.  Nobody knows nothin' because as former President of CBS News Richard Salant put it:
    Our job is to give people not what they want, but what we decide they ought to have.

    Quote of the Day - Thomas Sowell Edition

    Saw this on Facebook yesterday and decided to use it as QotD today.  This is from Thomas Sowell's A Personal Odyssey.  That book just went on my Wish List.  At the time this incident occurred, Sowell was still a Marxist, but he says that working for the .gov cured him of that particular disease.

    I imagine this was a big part of the cure:

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    Thursday, May 09, 2013

    Quote of the Day - "Artistic Bravery" Edtion

    Found via SayUncle:
    You want to impress me? Dress up as Mohammed on the top part, with your pubes shaved into a crescent, and hand out rape whistles. Then I’ll be impressed with your edginess.

    No Catholic is going to come and chop your head off for dressing up like the Pope. -- Phelps

    Tuesday, May 07, 2013

    Jim Henson Lives!

    Jim Henson, creative genius behind the Muppets, was involved in several other things during his career.  From 1983 through 1987 he did a show for HBO called Fraggle Rock.  If you'll recall, HBO was still quite new to most people as cable television spread around the country.  We'd moved to Arizona in 1981, but it was my brother (five years older than I) who moved into an apartment and got HBO first.

    He loved Fraggle Rock.

    Apparently, someone in New Mexico does too.  For as long as I've been driving back and forth between Tucson and Silver City (or, more recently, Houston and Tucson) someone has kept the paint on their own personal Fraggle Rock fresh:

     photo IMG_2364.jpg

    That was taken out the passenger window of the Mustang at 75MPH on my way west on I-10 just six miles west of Lordsburg.

    Now THAT's a FAN.


    OK, I've covered this topic before, but since it seems to be one of the Democratic Talking Points™ being parroted widely these days, time to take it up again.

    A recent survey announced (and was touted by the media):
    The share of American households with guns has declined over the past four decades, a national survey shows, with some of the most surprising drops in the South and the Western mountain states, where guns are deeply embedded in the culture.

    The gun ownership rate has fallen across a broad cross section of households since the early 1970s, according to data from the General Social Survey, a public opinion survey conducted every two years that asks a sample of American adults if they have guns at home, among other questions.

    The rate has dropped in cities large and small, in suburbs and rural areas and in all regions of the country. It has fallen among households with children, and among those without. It has declined for households that say they are very happy, and for those that say they are not. It is down among churchgoers and those who never sit in pews.

    The household gun ownership rate has fallen from an average of 50 percent in the 1970s to 49 percent in the 1980s, 43 percent in the 1990s and 35 percent in the 2000s, according to the survey data, analyzed by The New York Times.
    And again:
    The number of US households with guns has dropped 15 percent since the 1970s, from 50 percent the population's households to 35 percent, according to a new survey.
    And again:
    All the stories about people rushing out to buy guns after recent mass shootings may give the impression that more Americans have guns at home. Yet a survey reveals that the percentage of U.S. homes with a gun has been in steady decline over the past four decades, with a surprisingly sharp drop in the South and Western mountain states. Whereas an average of 50 percent of households owned a gun in the 1970s, that number declined to 35 percent in the 2000s, with 34 percent of households reporting gun ownership in 2012, notes the New York Times.
    And again:
    When we see attendance at gun shows and reports of brisk gun sales at gun stores, it's easy to get the impression that a larger percentage of Americans are choosing to purchase firearms. There is, however, ample evidence to the contrary -- even as gun sales go up, the percentage of households with guns goes down.
    ad infinitum. As goes The New York Times, so goes the world they say.

    The Wall Street Journal had, I think, the most balanced opinion piece on the subject, Guns Present Polling Conundrum. I recommend you read the whole thing, but here are some pertinent excerpts:
    Press clippings over the last 25 years show reported counts of gun owners fluctuating from 44 million up to 192 million, with dozens of different figures cited, some in the same year, and some — such as the 192 million figure — the result of confusing estimates of guns in American households with counts of gun owners, some of whom own more than one gun.

    The polling discrepancies have baffled pollsters.


    Michael Dimock, director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, said he also expected question wording to explain the difference: "I was sure we’d find the answer there." However, Dimock said "you don't see those things having a consistent effect" — some ask very similar gun questions and get very different estimates. "It's certainly to me one of the biggest polling puzzles I've come across in the last few years."

    "Nobody's really explained why they come up with such dramatic differences," Aaron Karp, senior consultant to the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey and senior lecturer in political science at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., said of pollsters.


    Who answers the phone in the household could affect responses. "We know that in a survey where respondents are randomly selected from adults in the household, a household headed by a married couple is substantially more likely to report guns in the home if the husband is selected than if the wife is selected," said Philip Cook, an economist and gun-violence researcher at Duke University.

    Also, some gun owners may be reluctant to tell researchers they own guns, because of legal and political considerations, which makes the question more like behavioral or attitudinal questions than like questions that ask basic facts about respondents. "This is an unusual demographic-type question," said Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup.
    I'm reminded of the Slate piece by Emily Yoffe, the "human guinea pig," in her piece Guinea Get Your Gun: How I learned to love guns:
    So anathema are guns among my friends that when one learned I was doing this piece, he opened his wallet, silently pulled out an NRA membership card, then (after I recovered from the sight) asked me not to spread it around lest his son be kicked out of nursery school.
    Lest his son be kicked out of nursery school. Yeah, there's real incentive to admit gun ownership!  (Do read that whole piece.  Her experience is what scares the piss out of The Other Side™ - guns ARE fun!)

    The Gallup poll they reference is this one - Self-Reported Gun Ownership in U.S. is Highest Since 1993, which concluded in 2011:
    Forty-seven percent of American adults currently report that they have a gun in their home or elsewhere on their property. This is up from 41% a year ago and is the highest Gallup has recorded since 1993, albeit marginally above the 44% and 45% highs seen during that period.
    That's just a hair below the 50% Gallup reported in 1991. And it adds this tidbit:
    The new result comes from Gallup's Oct. 6-9 Crime poll, which also finds public support for personal gun rights at a high-water mark. Given this, the latest increase in self-reported gun ownership could reflect a change in Americans' comfort with publicly stating that they have a gun as much as it reflects a real uptick in gun ownership.
    So we have one side insisting - and I quote: "More guns, fewer homes," and "Number of US households with guns drops 15 percent," etc., etc., but what do the numbers actually say? Well, if we take the General Social Survey results at face value, the percentage of households containing a firearm has dropped from 50% in 1970 to 35% in 2012. According to this site, the NUMBER of U.S. households has increased from 63.5 million in 1970 to 114.8 million in 2010. That's a net increase in households containing firearms of 8,430,000. If Gallup is right and the percentage has declined from 50% in 1991 to 47% in 2011, then the total number of households containing a gun has increased by - again - just over eight million, but in a much shorter period. The discrepancy between the two estimates is right at 13.8 million households.

    Either way, there were apparently eight million more households in 2011-12 with firearms than there were at some time in the past.

    And yet violent crime, homicide, suicide AND accidental deaths by firearm have declined year-by-year for over a decade.

    Now, when I walked the floor at the NRA convention in Houston last weekend, I took time to speak with several vendors and some people I saw walking the show, asking them how business had been for them.  One such vendor was Aaron Ludwig of Action Target, the company that recently rebuilt the indoor range at NRA headquarters in Fairfax, VA.  I asked Mr. Ludwig how business had been doing for Action Target year-on-year.  He informed me that when he joined the company ten years ago, annual sales were $15 million.  Last year the company did $100 million in sales.  Robert Lewis of EAR Inc. said they'd just had their best year ever.  I stopped Susan Rexrode and Natalie Levasseur of Shooting for Women Alliance as they were walking down an aisle in front of me because they were both wearing vests with "Instructor" embroidered on them.  SFWA has, they informed me, trained over 10,000 women since its inception.  They'll train men, too, but the men MUST be accompanied by a woman.  Business has been so good they are planning to expand this year. I've already quoted Kathy Jackson of The Cornered Cat on her training business's success. Jeff K. of Magpul Industries of course reported that they're selling everything they can make.  Their shipping department has grown from four people to ten, and they still can't keep up.  The CCI representative for their ammunition manufacturing division stated the same concerning ammunition - demand has been steadily increasing until the recent overwhelming demand - and no, the .gov isn't actually buying more ammo than they normally do - at least not from CCI/Speer.

    I personally know two people who recently went into business making holsters for a living.  They're doing well, too.

    The NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits increased its floorspace this year to 440,000 square feet from 340,000 square feet last year.  I believe them.  I walked the whole thing.  Attendance was up, too, from 70,000+ last year to over 86,000 this year.  I believe that too - it was wall-to-wall people all day Saturday.  I cannot imagine where they all parked.  Membership has reportedly surged as well, to 5 million.

    And then, on top of all of this, comes the undeniable fact that guns are being sold at record rates, and have been for several years.  Yet we're supposed to believe that the number of people who own guns is declining?

    On what planet?