Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Musical interlude

Tonight's musical interlude - Schubert's Ave maria, performed by soprano Barbara Bonney:

Working our bums off ...

To bring you hard-hitting news stories, like this one, the "World's Most Beautiful Bottom" contest:

Viva la pop

Today's pop musical interlude, a video mashup by one DJ Earworm of the top 25 songs of 2008, according to Billboard Magazine:

From the video's YouTube page, here are the songs:
Flo Rida Featuring T-Pain - Low
Leona Lewis - Bleeding Love
Alicia Keys - No One
Lil Wayne Featuring Static Major - Lollipop
Timbaland Featuring OneRepublic - Apologize
Jordin Sparks Duet With Chris Brown - No Air
Sara Bareilles - Love Song
Usher Featuring Young Jeezy - Love in This Club
Chris Brown - With You
Chris Brown - Forever
Ray J & Yung Berg - Sexy Can I
Rihanna - Take a Bow
Coldplay - Viva La Vida
Katy Perry - I Kissed a Girl
T.I. - Whatever You Like
Rihanna - Disturbia
Rihanna - Don't Stop the Music
Natasha Bedingfield - Pocketful of Sunshine
Chris Brown Featuring T-Pain - Kiss Kiss
Ne-Yo - Closer
Colbie Caillat - Bubbly
Mariah Carey - Touch My Body
Madonna Featuring Justin Timberlake - 4 Minutes
Pink - So What
Finger Eleven - Paralyzer

Ok, I don't recognize most of these songs. So much for having my finger on the pulse of modern culture. :)

A few good men

As we get set for the upcoming BCS college bowl games, here's an article from a year ago, a gentle reminder of the bigger picture:
They play for one reason, and one reason only; for the love of the game. Their work ethic, sportsmanship and dedication to their country are the reasons why the Army, Navy, and Air Force epitomize what everything right is about college football.

There are no rumpled jerseys, no earrings, no flashy jewelry, no long hair nor beards on their sidelines. There are no touchdown celebrations involving unsportsman-like conduct. Questioning a coach's decision is a foreign thought; the respect they hold for authority is second-to-none. They are, arguably, the ultimate football players, and more importantly, the ultimate role models.

For most seniors, the last game of the year is the most emotional. Almost every player knows it is their last time on a football field. They also know that for some of them, it's the last time they will see some of their teammates' faces. Many of them will be deployed, and during wartime, some will not come back.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The year in pictures

From the Boston Globe, snapshots of some of the past year's events (Click to enlarge. Photos: Boston Globe):

(Lightning bolts appear above and around the Chaiten volcano as seen from Chana, some 30 kms (19 miles) north of the volcano, as it began its first eruption in thousands of years, in southern Chile May 2, 2008. Cases of electrical storms breaking out directly above erupting volcanoes are well documented, although scientists differ on what causes them. Picture taken May 2, 2008. (REUTERS/Carlos Gutierrez))

(Locals and tourists walk around the Dutch ship Artemis which ran aground on the beach of les Sables d'Olonne, southern French Britanny, western France, March 10, 2008. The boat had been driven onto the coast by the wind blowing more than 130 km per hour. (REUTERS/Stephane Mahe))

(A firefighter uses a flare gun to set a backfire in the rugged area of Little Tujunga Canyon, 20 miles (32 km) north of downtown Los Angeles in the early hours of October 12, 2008. Fifty miles per hour gusty winds spread the fire towards ranches and houses in the heavily-forested canyon. (REUTERS/Gene Blevins))

(Kerby Brown rides a huge wave in an undisclosed location southwest of Western Australia July 6, 2008, in this picture released November 7, 2008 by the Oakley-Surfing Life Big Wave Awards in Sydney. Picture taken July 6. (REUTERS/Andrew Buckley))

(The right hand of a young visitor is silhouetted against a jellyfish exhibition hall at the Ocean Park aquarium-amusement complex in Hong Kong on January 20, 2008. (REUTERS/Victor Fraile))

See the rest here.

Media bias 2008 awards

From the Media Research Center, comes a roundup of this year's thrill-up-your-leg compendium of media bias:

Co-anchor Chris Matthews: “I have to tell you, you know, it’s part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama’s speech. My — I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don’t have that too often.

Co-anchor Keith Olbermann: “Steady.”

Matthews: “No, seriously. It’s a dramatic event. He speaks about America in a way that has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with the feeling we have about our country. And that is an objective assessment.”

— Exchange during MSNBC’s coverage of the Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. primaries, February 12.

See the whole list here, or click on the image below:

Semi-autos are "weapon of choice" in Windy City

From Chicago, where handguns are banned:
When it comes to killing, semi-automatic handguns appear to be the weapon of choice in Chicago.

Semi-automatics topped revolvers as the weapon most often sent to federal authorities for testing last year, records show. Of 106 guns linked to homicides in Chicago, 54 were semi-automatic pistols, 44 were revolvers and eight were rifles, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Of the roughly 10,000 guns submitted to ATF last year from Chicago, the largest share were .38-caliber revolvers -- 1,900 of them. And the most common .38 was a Smith & Wesson.

But that doesn't necessarily mean .38 revolvers were the weapon used in most Chicago shootings. The federal agency was unable to provide information about the particular manufacturer and model of handgun most commonly associated with shootings -- including those resulting in murders -- in Chicago.

Chicago Police detectives said they believe that semi-automatic pistols -- particularly 9mm handguns -- are the most commonly used gun in shootings here. Detectives often find shell casings at the scenes of shootings. Semi-automatic pistols eject shell casings; revolvers don't.

But the police said they did not have a breakdown of weapons used in shootings.

Article here. Imagine that ATF ran traces on 10,000 guns from Chicago, a city that bans handguns and heavily restricts long guns. Of course, such inconvenient facts are evidently not worthy of media notice.

A look at Austrian and German gun laws

From Handguns Magazine, an article by attorney Don Kates on German and Austrian gun laws:
For generations, anti-gun fanatics have been claiming that Europe has highly restrictive gun control and low murder rates. Well, the latter is true, but European gun laws are not necessarily stricter than ours (or even as restrictive). They are just different.

German and Austrian murder rates are generally the lowest in Europe--about 50 percent lower than those of gun-banning England. So let's compare German and Austrian gun laws to ours.
So it is true that there are many differences between the gun laws of the U.S. and those of Germany and Austria, but the latter are not more restrictive. Indeed, sometimes they are less so. To legally possess a gun may involve more red tape. But having a handgun for self-defense is no more impossible.

And getting a permit to carry is far easier than in most of our most populous states. Austria, for instance, has three times more carry licenses than California with its 4.5 times greater population.

Moreover, the U.S. has literally thousands of felonies, many of them for relatively harmless behavior--anti-trust violations, cheating on your taxes, embezzlement or growing pot, for example--and a person convicted of any of them is barred from gun ownership for life. In Austria or Germany they would not be barred at all or, in more serious matters, for no more than 10 years.

Article here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Vanity plates

Tonight's collection of vanity plates that slipped by the DMV's screening process:


See more at Jalopnik here.

Book-lover Bush

Who knew? From a Karl Rove op-ed in the Wall Street Journal:
With only five days left, my lead is insurmountable. The competition can't catch up. And for the third year in a row, I'll triumph. In second place will be the president of the United States. Our contest is not about sports or politics. It's about books.
By coincidence, we were both reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals." The president jumped to a slim early lead and remained ahead until March, when I moved decisively in front. The competition soon spun out of control. We kept track not just of books read, but also the number of pages and later the combined size of each book's pages -- its "Total Lateral Area."

We recommended volumes to each other (for example, he encouraged me to read a Mao biography; I suggested a book on Reconstruction's unhappy end). We discussed the books and wrote thank-you notes to some authors.

At year's end, I defeated the president, 110 books to 95. My trophy looks suspiciously like those given out at junior bowling finals. The president lamely insisted he'd lost because he'd been busy as Leader of the Free World.
A glutton for punishment, Mr. Bush insisted on another rematch in 2008. But it will be a three-peat for me: as of today, his total is 40 volumes to my 64. His reading this year included a heavy dose of history -- including David Halberstam's "The Coldest Winter," Rick Atkinson's "Day of Battle," Hugh Thomas's "Spanish Civil War," Stephen W. Sears's "Gettysburg" and David King's "Vienna 1814." There's also plenty of biography -- including U.S. Grant's "Personal Memoirs"; Jon Meacham's "American Lion"; James M. McPherson's "Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief" and Jacobo Timerman's "Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number."

Each year, the president also read the Bible from cover to cover, along with a daily devotional.

The reading competition reveals Mr. Bush's focus on goals. It's not about winning. A good-natured competition helps keep him centered and makes possible a clear mind and a high level of energy. He reads instead of watching TV. He reads on Air Force One and to relax and because he's curious. He reads about the tasks at hand, often picking volumes because of the relevance to his challenges. And he's right: I've won because he has a real job with enormous responsibilities.

In the 35 years I've known George W. Bush, he's always had a book nearby. He plays up being a good ol' boy from Midland, Texas, but he was a history major at Yale and graduated from Harvard Business School. You don't make it through either unless you are a reader.

There is a myth perpetuated by Bush critics that he would rather burn a book than read one. Like so many caricatures of the past eight years, this one is not only wrong, but also the opposite of the truth and evidence that bitterness can devour a small-minded critic. Mr. Bush loves books, learns from them, and is intellectually engaged by them.

Op-ed here. Not exactly the picture of "incuriousity" that the mainstream media paints, is it?

Stalin in running for greatest Russian

From Red Square. Well, Moscow, anyway:
The former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin may have killed millions of his own people but this weekend he could be chosen by Russians as their greatest-ever countryman.

Inspired by the British competition 100 Greatest Britons, one of Russia's biggest television stations Rossiya has been conducting a nationwide poll for much of this year.

From an original list of 500 candidates now there are just 12 names left from which viewers can select their all-time hero.

The winner will be announced on Sunday.

More than 3.5 million people have already voted and Stalin - born an ethnic Georgian - has been riding high for many months.

In the summer he held the number one slot but was knocked down several places after the producer of the show appealed to viewers to vote for someone else.

Amongst the others on the list are Ivan the Terrible, Lenin, Catherine the Great and Alexander Pushkin.

Article here. Goodness, what's next? Jews voting for Hitler as Germany's greatest leader? I see Ivan the Terrible is also in the top 12. I guess he wasn't bloodthirsty enough to zoom past Stalin and Lenin.

Mexico wants U.S. to ban "assault weapons"

From the Houston Chronicle:
WASHINGTON — A senior U.S. law enforcement official said Friday the Bush administration never assessed whether a decade-long assault weapon ban had reduced the flow of high-powered guns into the hands of Mexican drug gangs.

"I don't think we've ever really tracked it," said William McMahon, of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Since the expiration of the ban in 2004, Mexican drug syndicates have built up their stockpiles, Mexican officials say. They have long maintained that the weapons — many bought in Texas and smuggled into Mexico — have escalated the country's drug-fueled violence that has killed more than 5,400 people this year.

U.S. officials, by contrast, have insisted that the overriding challenge is to stem the relentless flood of illegal narcotics to American users.

The controversy flared Friday when the U.S. secretary of state and the Mexican foreign minister appeared at a joint news conference.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the ban's expiration had no bearing on Mexico's violence.

"I follow arms trafficking across the world, and I've never known illegal arms traffickers who cared very much about the law," Rice said. "And so I simply don't accept the notion that the lifting of the ban somehow has led arms traffickers to increase their activity."
[emphasis added]

But Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa said authorities in her country would favor restoration of the ban.

Article here. Typical. The Mexicans blaming America for Mexico's problems. Gee, maybe we could get the Mexicans to pass their own ban on "assault weapons". Oh, wait, the Mexicans already did, and they have their own draconian gun control laws. But in the spirit of international harmony and goodwill, perhaps we can make a deal: The Mexicans stop illegal drugs from entering the U.S., and we'll stop our guns from going South of the border. You first, Mexico.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Flamingo tango

Tonight's avian odyssey - Chilean flamingos doing a little mating dance:

Decision making

Interesting lecture by Harvard psychology professor Dan Gilbert on human decision making:

[Via The Big Picture]

Princeton scientist: Global warming science "mistaken"

Another scientist declares his Global Warming infidel status:
Noted energy expert and Princeton physicist Dr. Will Happer has sharply criticized global warming alarmism. Happer, author of over 200 scientific papers and a past director of energy research at the Department of Energy, called fears over global warming "mistaken".

"I have spent a long research career studying physics that is closely related to the greenhouse effect", said Happer. "Fears about man-made global warming are unwarranted and are not based on good science."

Dr. Happer views climate change as a predominately natural process. "The earth's climate is changing now, as it always has. There is no evidence that the changes differ in any qualitative way from those of the past."

In 1991, Happer was appointed director of energy research for the US Department of Energy. In 1993, he testified before Congress that the scientific data didn't support widespread fears about the dangers of the ozone hole and global warming, remarks that caused then-Vice President Al Gore to fire him. "I was told that science was not going to intrude on public policy", he said. "I did not need the job that badly". [emphasis added]

Article here. So science won't "intrude on public policy"? I guess that's what's called An Inconvenient Truth, at least for the warming cultists.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The year in review

Tonight's not-so-nostalgic look at 2008, courtesy Jib-Jab:

Tulsa lawmaker wants no taxes on guns and ammo

From Oklahoma:
OKLAHOMA CITY — A Tulsa lawmaker said Tuesday he will file legislation to repeal the sales tax on the purchase of guns or ammunition in Oklahoma.

"As Americans, we should not have to pay a tax to exercise our constitutional rights — especially our Second Amendment rights," said Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa.

The measure, by Proctor and state Sen. Kenneth Corn, D-Howe, D-Poteau, will not affect any dedicated revenue stream for wildlife or other programs, Proctor said, adding it would have minimal impact on the state treasury.
He said the tax should also be repealed because it could be a barrier for those needing protection.

"People shouldn't have to pay a tax to the government if they need a gun in the home for self-protection," Proctor said. "No matter what, the responsibility to protect your family is greater than the state's need to generate taxes."

Article here. Note that the two sponsors of the legislation are both Democrats. Of course, this is Oklahoma, and not some socialist hellhole somewhere like Washington, D.C.

Global warmism and public deception

From an article by climatologist Dr. Tim Ball in the Canada Free Press:
E. R. Beadle said, “Half the work done in the world is to make things appear what they are not.” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) does this with purpose and great effect. They built the difference between appearance and reality into their process. Unlike procedure used elsewhere, they produce and release a summary report independently and before the actual technical report is completed. This way the summary gets maximum media attention and becomes the public understanding of what the scientists said. Climate science is made to appear what it is not. Indeed, it is not even what is in their Scientific Report.
This and similar statements are based on the unproven hypothesis that human produced CO2 is causing warming and or climate change. The evidence is based solely on the output of 18 computer climate models selected by the IPCC. There are a multitude of problems including the fact that every time they run them they produce different results. They use an average of all the runs. The IPCC then take the average results of the 18 models and average them for the results in their Reports.

Tim Palmer, a leading climate modeler at the European Centre for Medium - Range Weather Forecasts said, “I don’t want to undermine the IPCC, but the forecasts, especially for regional climate change, are immensely uncertain.” This comment is partly explained by the scale of the General Circulation Models (GCM). The models are mathematical constructs that divide the world into rectangles. Size of the rectangles is critical to the abilities of the models as the IPCC AR4 acknowledges. “Computational constraints restrict the resolution that is possible in the discretized equations, and some representation of the large-scale impacts of unresolved processes is required (the parametrization problem)." (AR4 Chapter 8. p.596.)

The IPCC uses surface weather data, which means there is inadequate data in space and time for most of the world to create an accurate model. Limitations of the surface data are surpassed by an almost complete lack of information above the surface. An illustration of the surface problem is identified by the IPCC comment of the problems of modeling Arctic climates.
The very large area labeled “No Data” covers most of the Arctic Basin, an area of approximately 14,250,000 km2 (5,500,000) square miles). Remember, certainties of arctic ice conditions are core to Gore’s alarmism.

In the Southern Hemisphere the IPCC identifies this problem over a vast area of the Earth’s surface. “Systematic biases have been found in most models’ simulation of the Southern Ocean. Since the Southern Ocean is important for ocean heat uptake, this results in some uncertainty in transient climate response.” (AR4. Chapter 8. p. 591.)

Atmosphere and oceans are fluids governed by non-linear rather than linear equations. These equations have unpredictability or randomness - also known as chaos – it explains why the models get different results every time they are run. These problems well known outside of climate science were specifically acknowledged in the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR), “In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.” (TAR, p.774.)

Article here.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Your auto bailout dollars at work

Tonight's auto-of-the-future, courtesy of Iowahawk:

It's People Power, sort of

From Beverly Hills, the plastic, sorry, cosmetic surgery capital of the world, comes this story:
For a time, Beverly Hills doctor Craig Alan Bittner turned the fat he removed from patients into biodiesel that fueled his Ford SUV and his girlfriend's Lincoln Navigator.

Love handles can power a car? Frighteningly, yes. Fat--whether animal or vegetable--contains triglycerides that can be extracted and turned into diesel. Poultry companies such as Tyson are looking into powering their trucks on chicken schmaltz, and biofuel start-ups such as Nova Biosource are mixing beef tallow and pig lard with more palatable sources such as soybean oil. Mike Shook of Agri Process Innovations, a builder of biodiesel plants, says this year's batch of U.S. biodiesel was likely more than half animal-derived since the price of soybeans soared.
Using fat to fuel cars might be environmentally friendly, but it's definitely illegal in California to use human medical waste to power vehicles, and Bittner is being investigated by the state's public health department.
Although it's unclear when Bittner started and stopped making fat fuel or how he made it, his activities came to light after recent lawsuits filed by patients that allege he allowed his assistant and his girlfriend to perform surgeries without a medical license.

Article here. Ponder that as you recover from that big Christmas dinner. Now, the fat corpulent potbellied, er, "abdominally muscular" can just think of themselves as a mobile biodiesel storage facility. :)

Just what's up there, anyway?

From the Palm Beach Post:
RIVIERA BEACH — A day after he was hit by a stray bullet in the back of the head, 74-year-old E.T. Strickland was back at work today - with the slug still stuck in his skull.

"I am the luckiest guy in the world," Strickland said from his business, Sunrise Financial Corp. in Palm Beach Gardens. "An inch more to the front and it would have hit me straight on. As it is, it just glanced around and lodged in the back."

The bullet hurts, he says, but not enough to stop him from going back to work.

"We sell commercial real estate so it's got to go on," Strickland said. "I didn't know what else to do and I felt pretty good."

Strickland and his wife, Pam, were driving home to Singer Island from a belated birthday dinner at Taboo in Palm Beach on Tuesday night when he was hit by a bullet from an attempted armed robbery outside the Walgreens near Broadway and Blue Heron Boulevard.

"The instant it hit me, I felt like somebody had hit me with a baseball bat," he said. "I saw the hole in the window and the blood. I pulled over so I could bleed outside the car."
Meanwhile, he says he's not going anywhere even though his home has been broken into twice, his car was once stolen on Singer and his wife's car was broken into on mainland Riviera Beach.

"It would be unlikely that a fifth thing would happen," Strickland said, "but then again, that is what I said about the fourth thing."

Article here. Lucky guy.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Musical interlude

Tonight's musical interlude, courtesy of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, performing their Christmas Canon Rock:

A Christmas story

From Bayou Renaissance Man, my friend Peter's blog, comes this moving (and real-life) account of a Christmas he experienced in apartheid South Africa:
It had been a bad day. A very bad day.

Members of the so-called 'Mass Democratic Movement' (MDM - a front organization for terrorists) had been trying to 'politicize' a township in South Africa for some time. Most of them were members of one particular tribe - and in Africa, one's tribe counts for quite a lot. Their efforts had been resisted by many residents, who were members of another tribe, and didn't see why these upstarts from an 'inferior' tribe should be allowed to push them around.

Needless to say, the apartheid police, always eager to 'divide and rule', had encouraged the rivalry through not-so-discreet egging-on of the resisters. If Black people could be induced to spend their time fighting each other, instead of uniting to fight apartheid, it was a net gain for the State. Who cared about those who got caught in the crossfire? They were only Black, after all, and the State was White. That's the way it was, in that year, in that part of the country.

Matters came to a head the week before Christmas. The MDM moved a group of 'comrades' into the township, trying to enforce a consumer boycott of White businesses, threatening violence to those who resisted. Some women were forced to drink the liquid soap and cooking-oil they'd bought, and ended up in hospital. Others were threatened. Minibus taxis taking shoppers to a nearby town were met at the outskirts of the township, and forced to turn back. In response, the police shut down deliveries to the few shops in the township itself. Very quickly, people began to run out of food and essential supplies.

I got a phone call in the afternoon of December 24rd from a pastor in the township. I'll call him 'Fanyana' for his safety (he's still working there).

"Hey, Fanyana, what's up, brother?"

"It's bad, Peter." (Sound of scattered gunshots in the background. He was breathing quickly, shallowly, the fear evident in his voice.) "The comrades have been trying to shut the place down all week, and the miners have finally had enough. They've ganged together and they're out on the streets, looking for the outsiders. It's bad, man."

I sobered, very fast. If Fanyana was this scared, and didn't mind showing it, it was bad indeed. The previous year he'd dragged me clear of a riot, both of us bleeding, me almost unconscious. He had guts to spare. ...

Read the whole thing here. Powerful stuff. One of my favorite quotes is from St. Francis of Assisi, a man of great humility, who said: "At all times preach the Gospel. If necessary, use words." To wit: Actions speak louder than words; don't tell me how to live a virtuous life, show me by your good example. I think St. Francis would approve of courageous men like Peter, and all whose actions stand for justice, and against tyranny.

Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a safe, blessed and very merry Christmas!

Some Christmas music to start your day:

We wish you a Merry Christmas:

Jewel Kilcher and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Hark! The Herald, Angels Sing!

And Amy Grant's Sleigh Ride

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Musical interlude

Tonight's musical interlude, some Christmas eve music from the lovely Carrie Underwood, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra:

Carrie Underwood's Do you hear what I hear?

Trans-Siberian Orchestra's What Child is this?

For those deployed

Tonight's Christmas Eve message for our men and women deployed away from their loved ones:

May the Lord keep you and your loved ones safe.

Congress gives itself pay raise

From The Hill:
A crumbling economy, more than 2 million constituents who have lost their jobs this year, and congressional demands of CEOs to work for free did not convince lawmakers to freeze their own pay.

Instead, they will get a $4,700 pay increase, amounting to an additional $2.5 million that taxpayers will spend on congressional salaries, and watchdog groups are not happy about it.

“As lawmakers make a big show of forcing auto executives to accept just $1 a year in salary, they are quietly raiding the vault for their own personal gain,” said Daniel O’Connell, chairman of The Senior Citizens League (TSCL), a non-partisan group. “This money would be much better spent helping the millions of seniors who are living below the poverty line and struggling to keep their heat on this winter.”

Of course, being the slippery rascals that they are, Congress has set the system up so that they get their pay raises automatically. They'd have to vote to stop their pay raises:
Currently the average lawmaker makes $169,300 a year, with leadership making slightly more. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) makes $217,400, while the minority and majority leaders in the House and Senate make $188,100.

Ellis said that while freezing the pay increase would be a step in the right direction, it would be better to have it set up so that members would have to take action, and vote, for a pay raise and deal with the consequences, rather than get one automatically.

Article here. To quote Mel Brooks in History of the World, Part I: "It's good to be the king!"

NRA still powerful in Ohio

From the Columbus Dispatch:
First, the lobbyist stopped a bill dealing with dog breeders -- after Senate leaders scheduled it for a vote.

A few hours later, John Hohenwarter persuaded senators to stay after midnight to strip language out of a another bill -- an amendment backed by county sheriffs that would have increased fees for concealed-carry licenses by $8 -- after the bill already had passed the Senate by an overwhelming margin.

Not a bad night's work for a lobbyist who never set foot inside the Statehouse.

When you represent the National Rifle Association, sometimes all you need is a phone -- and lawmakers willing to take your call even during legislative sessions.

Some might argue that the NRA's national influence diminished after gun-rights attacks had little effect on President-elect Barack Obama's victory, and because congressional Democrats built bigger majorities while largely ignoring gun issues in their campaigns.

But the NRA's clout remains rock solid inside the Ohio Statehouse, even on bills that do not directly affect gun rights.

Article here. Robust gun rights organizations, of which the NRA is the 800 pound gorilla in the room, will likely be needed more than ever in the coming years. Gun owners should support as many of them as they can, including NRA (and their lobbying arm, NRA-ILA), GOA (Gunowners of America), JPFO (Jews for the preservation of fireams ownership), etc.

Taking Obama at his word?

A satirical look at Obama's "word", from the American Thinker:
To the great chagrin of gun shop owners, ammo suppliers, and those nefarious gun show peddlers, there is no longer a need for Americans to stock up on weapons and ammunition. What has been an incredible boon for the weapons market, the fear of citizens losing the right to bear arms is unfounded. The President-elect has spoken.

Knock off the snickering I am serious. President-elect Obama at a press conference December 7, 2008 assured folks that he isn't taking away their guns. It was somewhat notable that he did not mention their Bibles but since he is a Christian and the Bible was not a subject of the discussion we Bible-thumpers should have nothing to fear either.

Some may marvel at my calmness at the President-elect's assurance but the following statement is the genesis of my serenity:
"I believe in common sense gun safety law, and I believe in the second amendment and so, lawful gun owners have nothing to fear. I've said that throughout the campaign. I haven't indicated anything different during the transition, and I think that people can take me at my word."

What could possibly make one question the President-elect's word? It should be considered old news that Mr. Obama was completely surprised by Reverend Jeremiah Wright's hateful statements from the pulpit of the Trinity United Church of Christ*, of which the President-elect was a member for nearly twenty years.

It would be a stretch to call it a lie by Mr. Obama when back in 2004 he said "Look, I can unequivocally say I will not be running for national office in four years." How could a man say no to his country when it is obvious that he was the hope we have been waiting for, even though he said we were actually the hope. We knew what he meant.

Article here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Snowball Fight

Tonight's cute, and surprisingly addictive little game - Snowball Fight! You are the red team. Your goal is to defeat the green team in a snowball fight. Click on the red men to move and load a snowball, release to launch snowball. It's easy to figure out. Have fun!

Obama's Attorney General nominee

From Jeff Knox of the Firearms Coalition, via Ohioans for Concealed Carry:
Barack Obama’s nomination of Eric Holder to be the Attorney General demands an immediate and unequivocal response from gunowners and rights advocates and that response should be “Absolutely Not!”

Holder’s appointment to be AG must be approved by the Senate. While it is highly unlikely that opponents could muster the 51 votes needed to reject Holder’s appointment, a single Senator can place a “hold” on the confirmation and effectively lock up the system just as Democrats did with a number of President Bush’s judicial appointments and the appointment of John Bolton to be Ambassador to the UN. Once a “Hold” has been placed, a supermajority of 60 votes is required to break the hold. With enough vocal opposition to Holder’s confirmation, Obama could be forced to withdraw the nomination and select someone else to be his AG. Even if opponents cannot successfully block Holder’s appointment, a strong and concerted effort to do so will go far toward warning the Obama administration and the new Congress against trying to interfere with the rights of Americans to own guns.

As Attorney General, Holder would command the massive and powerful Justice Department which now includes BATFE, and has the expanded powers bestowed by the poorly named “Patriot Act.” Holder could make minor modifications in the way certain laws and regulations are interpreted and broadly expand restrictions on importation, transfer, and possession of a variety of firearms, ammunition, and gun parts. He would be in charge of the records of NICS checks and could be expected to attempt to create a de facto registration system by circumventing the law mandating the destruction of those records upon completion of a legal transaction. Holder would be responsible for interpretation and enforcement of the Gun Control Act of 1968 and would also set official policy as to what the government believes the Second Amendment actually means and how it is to be enforced or prosecuted. Since Holder has long been an outspoken advocate for more restrictive and intrusive gun laws and was a cosigner of an amicus brief endorsing the “collective right” theory of the Second Amendment – a theory rejected by all 9 Supreme Court Justices – it can be expected that his official interpretation of the amendment would not be a favorable one.

Read the rest here.


Today's zingers, courtesy of Vice-President Cheney:

Ouch! :)

Federal appeals court orders libel suit against NYC mayor back to state court

From Georgia:
ATLANTA (AP) - The federal appeals court in Atlanta has ordered a lawsuit claiming New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg libeled a Georgia sporting goods store by calling it 1 of several "rogue gun dealers" to be returned to the state court where it originated.

Friday's decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was the latest development in a 2-year legal battle that began when Bloomberg sued 15 firearms brokers in five states, including Georgia. The suit said they were selling weapons that ended up in the hands of New York criminals.

Article here. This ruling likely favors the gun dealer plaintiff, as a Georgia state court may be more sympathetic to that in-state plaintiff, versus the mayor of New York City.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Tonight's lawyer joke:
A lawyer and two friends--a Rabbi, and a Hindu holy man--had car trouble in the countryside and asked to spend the night with a farmer.

The farmer said, "There might be a problem. You see, I only have room for two to sleep in the house. So one of you must sleep in the barn."

"No problem," chimed the Rabbi. "My people wandered in the desert for forty years. I am humble enough to sleep in the barn for one evening." With that he departed to the barn, and the others bedded down for the night.

Moments later a knock was heard at the door; the farmer opened the door. There stood the Rabbi from the barn. "What's wrong?" asked the farmer. He replied, "I am grateful to you, but I just can't sleep in the barn. There is a pig in the barn, and my faith believes that is an unclean animal."
His Hindu friend agrees to swap places with him. But a few minutes later the same scene reoccurs. There is a knock on the door. "What's wrong?" the farmer asks. The Hindu holy man replies, "I, too, am grateful for your helping us out, but there is a cow in the barn. In my country cows are considered sacred and I can't sleep on holy ground!"

That left only the lawyer to make the change. He grumbled and complained, but went out to the barn. Moments later there was another knock on the farmer's door. Frustrated and tired, the farmer opens the door, and there stood the pig and the cow.


Norfolk pays to settle lawsuit stemming from open carry

From Virginia:
A Yorktown gun-rights advocate who sued Norfolk after his arrest at Town Point Park for openly carrying a handgun will receive a $15,000 payout to settle the federal lawsuit.

Chester "Chet" Szymecki Jr. sued the city after his arrest in June 2007 on a charge of violating a city ordinance prohibiting firearms at Harborfest. The city later learned that the ordinance is unenforceable because state law prohibits localities from regulating firearms.

Szymecki sued in U.S. District Court claiming violations of his Second Amendment right to bear arms, but a judge threw out that part of the case. The judge ruled, however, that city police may have violated Szymecki's privacy rights by demanding his Social Security number.

The case was scheduled for trial Tuesday.

City Attorney Bernard A. Pishko said the settlement avoids the high price of going to trial. The city did not admit any wrongdoing, he said.

Article here.

Nex Mexico lawmakers want more legal protections for homeowners who act in self-defense

From New Mexico:
FARMINGTON — A person who kills or hurts a criminal while defending his or her property should be immune from lawsuits, two Farmington lawmakers say.

State law does not protect home and property owners from lawsuits brought on by criminals injured while committing crimes, state senators Bill Sharer and Steve Neville said.

Neville wants to pen legislation that would force those lawsuits to be dismissed. He has not yet written the proposed law, but he hopes to gauge support for it before the next legislative session begins in January.

A similar law was defeated by state legislators in the past.

Article here.

Lawyer files suit against Pennsylvania county's gun policy

From Pennsylvania:
Delaware County was hit with a federal lawsuit yesterday claiming that its policy of refusing to return confiscated firearms unless the owners obtain a court order is unconstitutional.

The civil-rights suit was filed by C. Scott Shields, a gun-rights attorney and small-town political firebrand who has been the National Rifle Association's point man in fighting Philadelphia's attempt to write its own gun laws.

The plaintiff, Thomas DeOrio, 21, of Glen Mills, argues that the county government, judges and Sheriff's Department illegally retain confiscated guns - even if a crime hasn't been committed - when the owner is entitled to retrieve them.

Article here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Inspirational movie speeches

Well, sort of. Tonight's movie speech mashup:

Los Angeles passes more gun control ordinances

From the Los Angeles Times:
The Los Angeles City Council approved a package of gun control laws Wednesday, placing new requirements on ammunition sellers and banning the sale of military-style ammunition in the hopes of further reducing the city's gun and gang violence.

The measures ban the sale of .50-caliber ammunition, capable of penetrating a car's engine, and would require the city's ammunition vendors to be licensed, to sell ammunition face-to-face instead of over the Internet and require gun dealers to report a full accounting of their inventory twice a year to the Police Department.

The council passed laws prohibiting the installation of secret compartments for guns in cars and allowing the city to permanently seize vehicles used by certain gang members during a crime, which was proposed by City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo.

The council also approved an ordinance that would allow landlords to evict tenants who are convicted of illegally possessing weapons or ammunition within 1,000 feet of the rental property.

A lawyer for the National Rifle Assn. said his client probably would file suit to block some of the measures.

Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who helped develop the ordinances with Councilman Jack Weiss and other members, praised the package at a news conference before the vote.

"We use this to stop a vehicle," Bratton said, holding up a .50-caliber bullet longer and thicker than a finger. "Unless you are out trying to kill Godzilla, and I think the last time we saw Godzilla was in the 1950s, there is no need for this type of weapon" unless it is in the hands of the military or law enforcement, he said. [emphasis added]

Read the rest here. And just what the heck is "military-style ammunition", anyway? Such terms are likely part and parcel of the mainstream media effort to demonize guns. Indeed, if they are referring to the .50 BMG, I doubt many, if any, gang-bangers are using guns chambered for that round in their drive-by shootings, or armed robberies, or murders of ordinary citizens.

Maybe we should start referring to pens owned by mainstream journalists as "commie-style writing instruments"? Except they might take that as a compliment.

Orange County supervisors part ways with Sheriff on CCW permits

From California:
Orange County supervisors this week abandoned their traditionally cautious approach and formally urged Sheriff Sandra Hutchens not to revoke any concealed gun permits.

Hutchens' response: "I think we're going to get to a point where we have to respectfully agree to disagree."

The fledgling sheriff triggered a firestorm earlier this year from gun activists when she announced that the sheriff's department would adopt a stricter approach toward handing out concealed weapons permits and would reevaluate the existing 1,100 licenses held across the county. Nearly 100 activists, including National Rifle Association attorneys, showed up last month at a county supervisors meeting, threatening to politically oppose Hutchens and any supervisors who backed her gun policies.

After that meeting, Hutchens announced a temporary halt on more than 400 potential gun permit revocations.

This week's action, coming at the end of an update on the issue, signaled a heightened sense of frustration amongst supervisors that a sheriff appointed to fill out the term of indicted former lawman Mike Carona has caused so much rancor among second amendment activists in a very Republican county.

Article here.


From the Big Apple, comes this truly heartwarming story:
Sometimes when old Marines die they do fade away into unmarked graves in Potter's Field.

Such might have been the case for Gaspar Musso, USMC 925050, who fought in the Battle of Tinian in the Marianas Islands in 1944 and who died Nov. 15 at age 84 in a Brooklyn nursing home.

(Marine Gaspar Musso from his World War II days. Photo: NY Daily News)

Enter Police Officer Susan Porcello, a PBA delegate at the 68th Precinct in Bay Ridge and one of those big-hearted New Yorkers who still make this the best city on Earth.

"No way was I going to let this brave old Marine who fought for his country in WWII get buried in Potter's Field," she says.

Porcello first met Musso back in July when she responded to a 911 ambulance call to the retired insurance broker's one-bedroom apartment on, appropriately, Marine Ave.

"When my partner, Eddie Ennis, and I arrived at his apartment Gaspar seemed a little bit down about himself," Porcello says. "He said he felt alone in the world. We talked to him a bit and as I looked around his tidy apartment I noticed that he had served in the military - the Marines to be exact."

Porcello asked him about family and friends. "Look around you, what do you see?" Musso said. "I have no family or friends."

To which Porcello said, "Well, I'm your friend."

Right there, with those four beautiful words, Gaspar Musso was destined to die with the dignity he'd earned with a rifle in his hands, fighting in a USMC uniform, in a war that saved civilization.

Go read the rest here, it will warm your heart. Heroes come in many different forms. NYPD Officer Porcello's selfless actions, backed up by her own hard earned money, exemplify the best of our great country's law enforcement officers, and her kindness, compassion, and generosity (and those of the other officers who assisted in giving Mr. Musso a dignified burial) should serve as an inspiration to us all.

New Pittsburgh gun control ordinance goes into effect

From the Keystone State:
A controversial gun-control law passed by Pittsburgh City Council will take effect within 10 days without Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's signature.

Whether it will be enforced remains to be seen.

The law, which many believe violates the state Constitution, requires gun owners to report a lost or stolen gun within 24 hours of noticing it's gone. The measure is designed to stop the flow of guns into the streets through straw purchasers -- people with clean records who buy guns to sell to criminals.

In a letter to council, Ravenstahl said the city's Home Rule Charter, as well as the state Uniform Firearms Act, "preclude enforcement of this ordinance." A similar law in Philadelphia was struck down by Commonwealth Court, a decision that was appealed to the state Supreme Court.

The law might violate a 1995 agreement between the city and gun rights advocates, in which the city agreed to leave gun-control laws to the state, Ravenstahl said.

City Council passed the law Dec. 2 in a 6-1 vote, making a veto "futile," Ravenstahl said Monday.

Article here.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Great blowjob

Tonight's talented young lady:

Impressive. And hopefully, you didn't have anything else in mind. :)

Musical interlude

Tonight's musical interlude -- Jingle Bells, the hard way:

Seattle holds public hearing on proposed gun ban

From Seattle Weekly, on this week's public meeting on Mayor Nickels' proposed gun ban:
Although it is convenient to characterize the opponents of Nickels' gun ban merely as a lot of flannel and camo-clad yokels from Auburn or Kent or Enumclaw, the audience was far more representative of the city as a whole than one might stereotypically expect.

There were healthy numbers of liberals and progressives, environmentalists and community activists mixed in with Republicans and Libertarians who were opposed to the notion that, despite being licensed to legally carry a concealed firearm, they'd be forced to walk unarmed in city parks while gang members, stalkers and sundry other criminals are free to pack heat.

Lonnie Wilson, a Lynnwood resident, said he and his partner frequently visit Seattle because it is the center of gay cultural life in the region. He has had a concealed pistol license for eight years.

"As a gay man, I have to be very careful about holding the hand of my partner in public," Wilson said. "I don't want to hide myself just to be safe. Minorities such as myself are the biggest target of hate crimes."

Yvonne Kinoshita Ward, a civil rights lawyer and former President of the Asian Bar Association of Washington said the ban hurts the most vulnerable in the community, minorities, women, domestic violence victims and the disabled. She quoted FBI crime statistics stating that of the 9,000 hate crimes committed in 2007, 41 percent occured on government-owned property.

"Wicked and cowardly men who commit hate crimes do not obey the law," Ward said. "Do not disarm or criminalize those they seek to harm."

Maggie Willson, from Seattle, described herself as a "gun-toting tree-hugger" who campaigned for Barack Obama. She spoke about being raped at knife-point and living in fear for several years before a friend taught her how to shoot.

"Gun bans hurt women more than they hurt men," Willson said adding that she now feels secure, as a CPL holder, to hike at Carkeek Park.

Article here.

The Men In Black: When FedEx isn't an option

Here's an article on the guys whose day job is transporting nuclear weapons from place to place:
On a ribbon of asphalt in the Nevada desert, a strange convoy of odd vehicles with darkened windows slides along in relative obscurity. There are no signs or placards to suggest who these guys are, but the tell-tale license plate reads Federal Government.

At a weigh station near Laughlin, the convoy pulled over to evaluate who we were, so we waited too. As we did, more of the mystery trucks zipped past.

Since May, when an unknown object crashed near the Colorado River south of Needles, residents have reported seeing so-called Men in Black in unmarked vehicles.

"Had seen them in the area over the last couple of months and sometimes many of them, not just one or two," said Dave Hayes with KTOX Radio.

Eyewitnesses say the men in the trucks had a military bearing, close cropped hair, but wore civilian clothes.

Ex-cop Frank Costigan says he chatted with one outside a grocery store, "He was wearing a shirt that said, ‘Nevada Test Site.' I said, ‘Exactly where is it?' and it never did dawn on me that it was Area 51. And then he says, ‘Area 51.'"

Back at the roadside encounter, the situation grew even tenser when one of the trucks pulled up beside us. A man got out, told us to produce some ID, so we asked him to first show us his.

The badge was from the NNSA, the National Nuclear Security Administration, the branch of the Department of Energy responsible for nuclear weapons. NNSA is a constant presence in Nevada, particularly at the test site, but it has a little known, elite component which doesn't interact with media.

"We're asking you to just stay out of our way, not interfere," said an agent.

What we stumbled upon was the OST, Office of Secure Transportation, the special unit created to transport nuclear weapons and weapons-grade material. Since its creation in 1975, its convoys have logged more than 110 million miles without any serious incidents, carrying the world's deadliest cargo right through cites like Las Vegas, and only a handful of people are in the know.
The 1,200 employees of OST do a few things very well, they drive, they shoot and they train.

Agents are mostly ex-military Special Forces -- combat hardened. They must pass rigorous background checks, psychological tests, and a grueling 21 week academy. They train 800 hours every year, in particular on weapons and tactics, preparing for anything they might encounter on the road, everything from drunk drivers to hijackers to terrorists.

"They are well capable and there are significant numbers of them on each shipment," said Flynn. "We train so we could use deadly force as necessary to protect those weapons."

Article here. Part two. Video news report available at the links as well. Eight hundred hours of training a year is a lot of training! That's the equivalent of over 15 hours a week! But given the nature of the cargo they babysit, and the potential consequences of that material falling into the wrong hands, a well-trained force is a very good thing.

D.C. passes "final" gun regulations

From Washington, D.C.:
The D.C. Council on Tuesday gave final approval to regulations governing guns in the District, six months after the Supreme Court struck down the city's decades-old ban on handguns.

"It's been a pretty comprehensive effort, and I think we've got a good, balanced program that balances safety with the Second Amendment right to have a handgun for self-defense in the home," D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles said.

The council unanimously passed legislation requiring D.C. gun owners to register their weapons every three years and go through a background check every six years.

Mary Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat, and Harry Thomas Jr., Ward 5 Democrat, also won approval of an amendment to the bill mandating that residents complete a firearms training or safety course that requires them to spend at least one hour at a firing range and four hours receiving classroom instruction.

Article here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Musical interlude

Tonight's musical interlude, Wizards in Winter by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, set to a holiday lighting extravaganza by a guy in Frisco, TX (some people really do have too much time on their hands!):

Top ten worst globular warming predictions of 2008

From Australia's Herald Sun and the land Down Under, where it's summertime:
GLOBAL warming preachers have had a shocking 2008. So many of their predictions this year went splat.

Here’s their problem: they’ve been scaring us for so long that it’s now possible to check if things are turning out as hot as they warned.

And good news! I bring you Christmas cheer - the top 10 warming predictions to hit the wall this year.

Read, so you can end 2008 with optimism, knowing this Christmas won’t be the last for you, the planet or even the polar bears.

The British Met Office is home to the Hadley Centre, one of the top centres of the man-made global warming faith.

In April it predicted: “The coming summer is expected to be a ‘typical British summer’. . .”

In fact, in August it admitted: “(This) summer . . . has been one of the wettest on record across the UK.”

In September it predicted: “The coming winter (is) likely to be milder than average.”

In fact, winter has been so cold that London had its first October snow in 74 years—and on the very day Parliament voted to fight “global warming”.

Lesson: If the Met can’t predict the weather three months out, what can it know of the climate 100 years hence?


SPEAKING of the Met, it has so far predicted 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2007 would be the world’s hottest or second-hottest year on record, but nine of the past 10 years it predicted temperatures too high.

In fact, the Met this month conceded 2008 would be the coldest year this century.

That makes 1998 still the hottest year on record since the Medieval Warm Period some 1000 years ago. Indeed, temperatures have slowly fallen since around 2002.

As Roger Pielke Sr, Professor Emeritus of Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science, declared this month: “Global warming has stopped for the last few years.”

Lesson: Something is wrong with warming models that predict warming in a cooling world, especially when we’re each year pumping out even more greenhouse gases. Be sceptical.

Article here.

Mumbai and gun control

From the Wall Street Journal, on the role India's strict gun control laws played in facilitating the Mumbai attackers plans:
For three bloody days, just 10 determined killers held a city of 18 million hostage. The sheer ignominy of this fact has jolted Mumbaikars -- and Indians -- out of their fabled chalta hai (anything goes) attitude, and into a burst of citizen activism. Even Mumbai's business community has shed its habitual political timidity and filed an extraordinary public-interest lawsuit demanding that the government fulfill its constitutional obligation to protect its citizens.

But Indians shouldn't just stop there. They should also demand reform of the country's draconian gun laws -- a holdover from British times -- that prevent them from defending themselves. That would surely deliver far quicker results than waiting for India's slow-moving political classes to plug the vast lacunae in the country's security apparatus.
The true problem was not a shortage of heroism in those three horrible days. The courageous staff at the two hotels was nothing if not heroic, likely saving as many people as the police watched being killed. At the Taj, one employee even took the bullets for a group of guests he was trying to escort to safety.

But if the hotel staff could take bullets, the question is why couldn't they return them? The reason, as P.R.S. Oberoi, chairman of Oberoi Group, noted, is that none of the hotel's security staff was armed, thanks to the country's strict gun laws that make it virtually impossible to obtain permits. This is also perhaps why the gunmen moved around the city as if they owned it without fearing that anyone would shoot back.

India's gun laws have their genesis in colonial policy when -- following the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny -- British authorities drastically restricted gun ownership. So notorious were these laws that even the great apostle of nonviolence Mahatma Gandhi condemned them. "Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest," he said.

Op-ed here here.

Missouri CCWs increasing

From the Show Me state:
HALLSVILLE - Missourians are doing more to protect themselves from burglaries and other crimes.

They're carrying concealed weapons, legally.

While Conceal and Carry instructor Tim Oliver takes aim at his target, his students are eyeing the calendar.

It's 40 days until Barack Obama's administration, and many Missourians are applying for a conceal and carry permit.

"Based on voting record and past statements, a lot of people feel that President-elect Obama is going to interfere with our gun rights," Oliver said.

Since the fall there's been an increase in these Conceal and Carry courses. Oliver has doubled the amount of classes he offers, and in those classes, the amount of students has also doubled.

Article here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Honey, how bout you hold the glass next time?

Reportedly shot in the thirties, a husband shoots an early version of bullet resistant glass while his wife holds the pane:

Must be true love! :)

Here are some more recent tests. The following tests are on on plate, tempered, and bullet-resistant glass:

And what test would be complete without the big .50 BMG against 2.5 inches of bullet resistant glass:

Clean through -- gotta love the big fifty!

Texas to consider campus carry law again

From the Lone Star state:
AUSTIN - Last June, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Washington, D.C., ban on handguns, some state legislators and legal experts thought the high court's ruling affirmed Americans' right to own firearms and saw no need for any gun legislation in next year's session of the Texas Legislature.

But Sen. Jeff Wentworth, author of last year's castle doctrine law - which gives Texans the right to attack an intruder if they feel threatened at their home, business or car - says Texas needs at least one more gun law, and he is planning to author it.

The San Antonio Republican is drafting a bill that, if the Legislature approves and Gov. Rick Perry signs into law, would allow Texans with concealed gun permits to carry their weapons on college campuses, where concealed weapons are now prohibited.

"I want to introduce this bill because I want the students to have a chance to live if something like that happens again," Wentworth said in reference to last year's shootings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University, which claimed the lives of 32 and six people, respectively. "Right now, they are sitting ducks."

In addition,, a relatively new but well-organized group based in northern Virginia, has launched a major campaign to lobby the Texas Legislature to pass an "open carry" law, which would let people wear their firearms in plain view, just like law enforcement officers in uniform.

Article here.

Suzanna Gratia-Hupp on the Second Amendment

Former Texas Rep. Suzanna Gratia-Hupp, whose parents were murdered before her eyes in the Kileen, TX, Luby's massacre, testifying before Congress:

Money quote at the very end.

Climate change

From the American Thinker:
Last week, soon-to-be President Barack Obama met with former Vice President Al Gore to discuss global warming. In a brief presser following their closed-door rendezvous, Obama proclaimed, "the time for denial is over."

Ironically, as Obama yammered, Louisiana hurriedly prepared for a powerful cold front which would arrive the following night. The wintry storm ultimately dumped 6 inches of snow in Livingston Parish and dusted New Orleans with its earliest snowfall since records were accurately established in 1850. And the deep-south cold snap was not an isolated event.

For most of the United States and much of the world, this has been one of the colder autumns in well over a decade, with reports of unseasonable snowfalls and plummeting temperatures from the American Great Plains to the Alps of Europe and into the inner reaches of Asia. Even China's official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its "worst snowstorm ever" in October. In the U.S., the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years. In fact, it's likely that 2008 will go down as the coldest year since in the United States since 1997.

So who's in denial?

Article here.

Student group plans lawsuit to overturn CU carry ban

From Colorado:
Representatives from Students for Concealed Carry on Campus said they will file a lawsuit Thursday asking the court to strike down the University of Colorado's concealed carry ban.

The Colorado Springs chapter of the Students for Concealed Carry on Campus has argued before, to the school's regents, that gun-free zones on college campuses translate into a ban on self-defense. Members want the university to loosen gun-control rules and allow those with handgun permits to pack heat on campus.

Article here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas lights

Tonight's Christmas display, set to Amazing Grace (I know, not exactly a holiday staple):

GCO settles open carry lawsuit

From Georgia:
GCO settled the federal lawsuit in Richmond County involving Staff Sergeant Zachary Mead, who had his firearm seized while carrying it openly outside Kroger. Richmond County consented to an Order declaring the seizure to be a violation of the Fourth Amendment, paying damages, court costs, and attorney fees. More importantly, Richmond County has assured GCO that it has no policy of detaining Georgians merely for carrying a firearm.

Links to the court filings are available from this link.

Oklahoma to consider campus carry law again

From the Sooner State:
Legislative leaders said Tuesday it’s likely a measure that would allow students to carry concealed weapons on campus would be taken up again next year despite their opposition.

House Democratic leader Danny Morgan, a member of the National Rifle Association and a hunter, told members of The State Chamber that legislators are under political pressure to support the idea. His opposition to this year’s measure resulted in him receiving a lower grade from the NRA.

House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa, said he opposed the original bill, but didn’t mind a later version that would have restricted the privilege to military veterans and others with gun training.

The State Chamber opposes carrying concealed weapons on college campuses; it’s part of the legislative agenda board members approved Tuesday.

Article here. Sadly, I expect that it will take another mass shooting on a college campus before this issue gains traction. Fortunately, more and more people are realizing the folly of "gun free zones" and their danger to peaceful, law-abiding citizens.

NYT whining on National Parks CCW rule

Op-ed in the New York Times ("All the Anti-gun News that's Fit to Print") on the promulgation of the final rule allowing lawful concealed carry in National Parks:
Anticipating what Barack Obama has called “common-sense gun safety laws,” the Bush administration has rushed through a last-minute gun rule that is the antithesis of common sense. The Interior Department published a rule last week that will allow loaded, concealed weapons in nearly all of this country’s national parks.

The rule, which will take effect next month, will apply to national parks in every state that has a concealed carry law, even if guns are prohibited in state parks. The administration — again — also has ignored the point of a public comment period. It received 140,000 comments on this proposed rule change, the vast majority opposing it, and still went ahead.
Unfortunately, far too many states have laws that allow citizens to carry concealed weapons. But no one should misinterpret those laws as the will of the people. They too are the will of the N.R.A., which has done everything in its power to force dangerous gun laws through one State Legislature after the next.

We hope that one of the incoming Obama administration’s first steps in bringing common sense to bear will be the reversal of this absurd and dangerous rule. [emphasis added]

Op-ed here. Sadly, I would not be surprised if the anti-gunners file lawsuits to overturn the rule, or if the incoming Obama administration moves to rescind the new rule.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Penis: It's what's for dinner

Tonight's gastronomic, uh, adventure:

Faux conservatives and guns

From Reason Magazine:
Of the many critiques that followed the Supreme Court's landmark gun rights decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, perhaps the most interesting came from conservative federal Judge J. Harvey Wilkinson III. In a Virginia Law Review article entitled "Of Guns, Abortions, and the Unraveling Rule of Law," Wilkinson denounced Justice Antonin Scalia's majority opinion for engaging in judicial activism and compared the reasoning in Heller to that in the abortion rights case Roe v. Wade (not exactly a compliment from one conservative judge to another).

Now George Mason Univesity's Nelson Lund and the Independence Institute's David Kopel have written what looks to be a decisive critique of Wilkinson's article, which they recently made available via the Social Science Research Network. ...

Links to Judge Wilkinson's article is available at the article above. The Lund/Kopel critique of Judge Wilkinson's article is available for download here. From the article [footnotes omitted]:
The core of Judge Wilkinson’s argument starts with this proposition: “Society is a defined balance between individual and community. When rights are enumerated, courts are empowered to strike the balance; when they are not, or only ambiguously, the
balance is set by democracy.”5 Because Judge Wilkinson believes that the rights recognized in Heller and Roe are both bereft of unambiguous support in the Constitution, he concludes that both decisions were outrageous usurpations of legislative prerogative. He then goes on to elaborate at considerable length the “values” that the Heller Court violated by practicing what he calls an “aggressive
brand of originalism.”

In this response, we challenge his critique. Like many others, Judge Wilkinson deploys the “activism” epithet to attack results he dislikes. But in rejecting what he calls “originalism,” Judge Wilkinson is in fact rejecting the Constitution. He replaces the Constitution with judicial “values,” which he then manipulates in
order to reach results that he finds attractive.

Part I shows that Judge Wilkinson’s analogy between Roe and Heller is untenable. The right of the people to keep and bear arms is in the Constitution, and the right to abortion is not. Contrary to Judge Wilkinson, the genuine conservative critique of Roe is based on the Constitution, not on judicial “values.” Judge Wilkinson, moreover, does not show that Heller’s interpretation of the Second Amendment
is refuted, or even called into serious question, by Justice Stevens’ dissenting opinion.

Part II shows that Judge Wilkinson himself does not adhere to the “neutral principle” that he claims to derive from “judicial values.” Under the principle of judicial restraint that he articulates, many now-reviled statutes, including the Jim Crow laws of the twentieth century, should have been upheld by the courts. Judge
Wilkinson does not accept the consequences of his own supposedly neutral principle, preferring instead to endorse or condemn Supreme Court decisions solely on the basis of his policy preferences. That is not judicial restraint. It is judicial lawlessness.

South Carolina to consider Vermont-style carry

From the Palmetto State:
COLUMBIA, SC (AP) - A South Carolina House member is filing a bill to allow residents to carry weapons without a permit.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Cooper of Piedmont said Tuesday he has filed legislation to allow any law-abiding citizen to carry a weapon.

The Republican says concealed weapons permit laws and other restrictions make it less likely people who obey the law will be armed and does nothing to disarm people willing to break the law.

Article here. The article doesn't specify, but Alaska-style carry -- no permit needed, but the state will still issue permits for those who desire one for reciprocity and/or permit recognition purposes when visiting other states -- would probably be preferable to Vermont-style carry. No permit is needed in Vermont, but the state doesn't issue permits for reciprocity and/or permit recognition purposes, so Vermont residents are out of luck unless they obtain, say, a Florida or Utah permit (which are recognized by a substantial number of states).

Kidnapping prevention expert is ... kidnapped

From the New York Times:
MEXICO CITY — An American security consultant who has helped negotiate the release of scores of kidnapping victims in Latin America was himself kidnapped last week in northern Mexico after delivering a seminar there on how to avoid that fate, officials said Monday. [emphasis added]

The F.B.I. and Mexican law enforcement officials are investigating the abduction, which took place Wednesday evening in Saltillo, an industrial city a three-hour drive from the Texas border.

The consultant, Felix Batista, 55, was giving security seminars for business owners in Coahuila State when he was abducted by a group of armed men.

Article here. Unfortunate, but ironic, no?

CCW permits on the rise in Florida and Oregon

From Florida:
Jacksonville - Right now, more than a half million people in Florida have a concealed weapons permit. That's a 50% jump from three years ago, according to the Department of Agriculture. More than 23,000 of those people are in Jacksonville.

People you wouldn't even expect to carry guns now feel like they have to. We spoke to two Beaches businessmen, who rallied their friends, and got all of their permits together.

Note that Florida issues permits to residents of other states, who often seek a Florida permit due to the large number of states where the Florida permit is recognized.

And in Oregon:
BAKER CITY, Ore. -- More Oregonians will get concealed weapons permits in 2008 than in any year since tallies began in 2000.

The Oregon State Police say sheriffs reported 115,600 permits for the first 11 months of 2008, with estimates of another 10,000 expected in December.

The total for 2007 was 97,227 permits, the highest previous annual number.

I wouldn't be surprised if other states start seeing increased permit applications as well.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tonight's gloriously gratuitous gallery of military women. Click on photos to embiggen (the photos, obviously):

See the rest here. Or here.