Sunday, November 30, 2008

A little hunting humor

Tonight's hunting humor:
Frank was excited about his new rifle and decided to try bear hunting. He spotted a small brown bear and shot it. Right after, there was a tap on his shoulder and he turned around to see a big black bear. The black bear said, "That was my cousin and you've got two choices ... Either I maul you to death or we have sex."

After considering briefly, Frank decided to submit to the latter alternative. Even though he felt sore for two weeks, Frank soon recovered and vowed revenge.

He headed out on another trip where he found the black bear and shot it. Right after, there was another tap on his shoulder. This time a huge grizzly bear stood right next to him. The grizzly said, "That was a big mistake, Frank. That was my cousin and you've got two choices. Either I maul you to death or we have rough sex." Again, Frank thought it was better to cooperate.

Although he survived, it took several months before Frank finally recovered. Outraged, he headed back to the woods, managed to track down the grizzly and shot it. He felt sweet revenge, but then there was a tap on his shoulder. He turned around to find a giant polar bear standing there. The polar bear looked at him very sadly and said, "Admit it, Frank, you don't come here for the hunting, do you?"

:)

Councilwoman: "Who really cares about it being unconstitutional?"

From the Keystone State:
Pittsburgh City Council gave its first approval today to legislation requiring that anyone report a lost or stolen firearm report that within 24 hours or potentially face a $500 fine.

The 6-1 vote, with two abstentions, sets up a final vote likely next week, which would send the legislation to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl for his signature or veto, and then potentially to the courts, where similar measures have been challenged.

"Who really cares about it being unconstitutional?" said Councilwoman Tonya Payne, a supporter. "This is what's right to do, and if this means that we have to go out and have a court battle, then that's fine ... We have plenty of dead bodies coming up in our streets every single day, and that is unacceptable." [emphasis added]

The lone no vote was by Councilman Ricky Burgess, who argued that it would be a "false cure" that would be "particularly cruel" to his violence-plagued northeastern Pittsburgh district.

"This legislation will not strike a blow to straw purchasers," he said. "This ordinance will not be enforced, no loopholes will be closed and no lives will be saved, because no municipality can legally regulate firearms of any kind, at any time, for any reason."

Article here. The sad part isn't that Councilwoman Payne doesn't seem to care whether the laws she votes for passes constitutional muster, or that she (presumably) took a solemn oath to support said Constitution, but that she will likely suffer no ill effects from such an outrageous statement.

Meanwhile, in Easton, PA, the city council rejected a similar ordinance proposed by that town's mayor:
City council resoundingly defeated a measure Tuesday that would have required the owners of lost or stolen handguns to report the missing firearms to police.

Council members Ken Brown, Elinor Warner, Pam Panto, Roger Ruggles and Sandra Vulcano voted against requiring that residents must report a missing handgun within 24 hours of discovering the gun lost or stolen. Violators faced a $1,000 fine or 90 days in prison.

Mayor Sal Panto and Councilman Jeff Warren voted in favor.

Panto introduced the measure in October as part of a coalition of eight mayors backing identical laws meant to send a message to Harrisburg about the need for stricter gun laws.

Despite a legal opinion from the city solicitor that the law would prove indefensible in court, the mayor pressed on Tuesday with the vote. Panto even said the city wouldn't pay to defend the law should someone challenge it.

"Why have an ordinance that doesn't hold up in court?" Ruggles asked.

Article here.

Scalia: Original intent making a comeback

From CNS News:
Anti-democratic judicial activists who place a premium on abstract notions of “human rights” at the expense of what constitutional texts actually say are spreading abroad at a time when U.S. courts have begun to re-discover “orginalism,” Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia said in a speech Saturday.

The idea that laws have fixed meanings that transcend generations has gradually been restored to a respectable station in the academic community and in the judiciary, said Scalia during the closing session of the Federalist Society’s annual meeting in Washington D.C.

Scalia credited the 26-year-old organization for focusing attention on key principles enshrined in the U.S. constitutional system that have helped make self-government possible. The Federalist Society includes legally minded conservatives and libertarians who seek to preserve constitutional structures such as the separation of powers.

Unfortunately, the “contagion” of a “living constitution,” one where written phrases can be divorced and reshaped away from their original meaning, has begun to spread internationally, even as U.S. courts have begun to show some improvement, he said.

“There is a belief throughout the world that judges somehow are charged with protecting human rights in the abstract -- never mind the text of a particular constitutional guarantee,” he said. “When one puts on a black robe, one becomes charged with protecting human rights as though we all agree as to what human rights are. There’s enormous disagreement. And to give the responsibility of determining the meaning of that abstract phrase to unelected magistrates is, it’s anti-democratic.”

Read the rest here.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Falling like dominos

Tonight's world record highlights -- from Domino Day 2008, a world record 4 million dominos toppled (4,345,027, but who's counting):

Irony

From the Realm of King Daley and Prince Barack (Chicago to us mere mortals):
Nearly 100 teens marched outside Chicago police headquarters Thursday night to protest the department's plans to equip officers with semi-automatic rifles, saying the weapons could make the streets more dangerous.

Carrying signs like "Stop the War on Youth," teens said they didn't trust police with the high-powered weapons and worried gangs would be encouraged to bolster their own arsenals.

"The only people who need these guns are in Iraq," said Arthur McGraw, 19, an organizer with the nonprofit Southwest Youth Collaborative, which organized the rally. "It'll shoot through brick, car doors. Say your family is in the house eating and there's some gang violence. When they shoot these [the bullets] can come into your house and shoot your kids." [emphasis added]

Article here. Hey, who says kids don't listen anymore? These kids have obviously heard Barack Obama say that "such weapons belong on foreign battlefields and not on the street." So does that mean Chicago isn't part of America anymore? :)

Also, notice how the Chicago Tribune calls them "semi-automatic rifles" when the police have them, but the same firearms are often get called "assault weapons" in the hands of non-government employees.

Frozen turkey to the rescue

From the unusual-improvised-weapons files:
FUQUAY-VARINA - Fred L. Ervin got his Thanksgiving turkey early this year.

A passer-by armed with a frozen turkey used the bird as a cudgel upside Ervin's head Sunday while coming to the rescue of a woman outside a grocery store on Sunday, Fuquay-Varina police say.

Police Chief Larry Smith said police think Fred L. Ervin, 30, of 9221 Ten-Ten Road, Raleigh, had gone to the parking lot to find a getaway vehicle after stealing cash from the cash register of the BP gas station, across the road from the grocery store. Ervin spotted a 53-year-old woman who was walking toward her car with groceries. He tried to wrest away her car keys, Smith said.

"The suspect attacked her and began beating her," Smith said. "Her injuries are fairly serious."

Some other shoppers witnessed the attack and called 911. Several ran to the woman's aid, including a man with a frozen turkey, Smith said.

Smith did not know how many times Ervin was struck with the turkey. He declined to release the name of the turkey-wielding hero.

Article here.

Maybe they should ban guns. Oh, wait ...

From the fast-sinking headquarters of the British Empire:
The blanket ban on handguns following the massacre of 16 children in Dunblane in 1996 means Britain has some of the toughest controls yet street gun crime has risen inexorably

If you get shot today in London, Manchester or Liverpool, chances the weapon will be a converted handgun.

The conviction of a 13 year-old boy in south London last week for possession of a converted Russian CS gas pistol, highlighted the pervasive use of these weapons and underlined the government's failure to check Britain’s growing gun culture.
...
The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, likes to boast about Britain having, “some of the toughest gun laws in the world” and probably only Japan could be considered tougher.

The blanket ban on handguns following the massacre of 16 schoolchildren in Dunblane in March 1996 has prevented similar mass killings from legally-owned pistols such as those witnessed in US, Germany and Finland. But in the meantime street gun crime has risen inexorably.

Last year, there were nearly 10,000 firearms offences in England and Wales, a third higher than in 1998 with 566 people fatally or seriously injured. [emphasis added]
...
The government's approach to rising gun crime has been a mainly legislative one, aimed at the individual possessor; in 2006, the Home Office increased sentencing to a mandatory minimum of five years for possession of an illegal weapon.

This much heralded measure has had “negligible” impact on the streets. The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies in their June report, said there was, “no compelling evidence' that the enforcement-led strategy is likely to prove a durable or effective way of dealing with firearm related offending”.

Article here.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Tonight's a capella interlude

Tonight's polyphonic musical homage to Star Wars and composer John Williams:



Cute.

Don't mess with Uncle Sam's Misguided Children

From Military.com, on an insurgent ambush on our marines:
FARAH PROVINCE, Afghanistan — In the city of Shewan, approximately 250 insurgents ambushed 30 Marines and paid a heavy price for it.

Shewan has historically been a safe haven for insurgents, who used to plan and stage attacks against Coalition Forces in the Bala Baluk district.

The city is home to several major insurgent leaders. Reports indicate that more than 250 full time fighters reside in the city and in the surrounding villages.
...
“The day started out with a 10-kilometer patrol with elements mounted and dismounted, so by the time we got to Shewan, we were pretty beat,” said a designated marksman who requested to remain unidentified. “Our vehicles came under a barrage of enemy RPGs (rocket propelled grenades) and machine gun fire. One of our ‘humvees’ was disabled from RPG fire, and the Marines inside dismounted and laid down suppression fire so they could evacuate a Marine who was knocked unconscious from the blast.”

The vicious attack that left the humvee destroyed and several of the Marines pinned down in the kill zone sparked an intense eight-hour battle as the platoon desperately fought to recover their comrades. After recovering the Marines trapped in the kill zone, another platoon sergeant personally led numerous attacks on enemy fortified positions while the platoon fought house to house and trench to trench in order to clear through the enemy ambush site.

“The biggest thing to take from that day is what Marines can accomplish when they’re given the opportunity to fight,” the sniper said. “A small group of Marines met a numerically superior force and embarrassed them in their own backyard. The insurgents told the townspeople that they were stronger than the Americans, and that day we showed them they were wrong.”

During the battle, the designated marksman single handedly thwarted a company-sized enemy RPG and machinegun ambush by reportedly killing 20 enemy fighters with his devastatingly accurate precision fire. He selflessly exposed himself time and again to intense enemy fire during a critical point in the eight-hour battle for Shewan in order to kill any enemy combatants who attempted to engage or maneuver on the Marines in the kill zone. What made his actions even more impressive was the fact that he didn’t miss any shots, despite the enemies’ rounds impacting within a foot of his fighting position. [emphasis added]

“I was in my own little world,” the young corporal said. “I wasn’t even aware of a lot of the rounds impacting near my position, because I was concentrating so hard on making sure my rounds were on target.”

Article here. Thank God for our warrior marines!

Bailout-o-metrics

On today, Black Friday, the annual post-Thanksgiving high holy day of American consumerism, it's perhaps fitting we pay homage to the true professionals of big spending, our government. Barry Ritholtz of the Big Picture puts the cost of the bailouts in perspective:
If we add in the Citi bailout, the total cost now exceeds $4.6165 trillion dollars. People have a hard time conceptualizing very large numbers, so let’s give this some context. The current Credit Crisis bailout is now the largest outlay In American history.

Jim Bianco of Bianco Research crunched the inflation adjusted numbers. The bailout has cost more than all of these big budget government expenditures – combined:
• Marshall Plan: Cost: $12.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $115.3 billion
• Louisiana Purchase: Cost: $15 million, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $217 billion
• Race to the Moon: Cost: $36.4 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $237 billion
• S&L Crisis: Cost: $153 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $256 billion
• Korean War: Cost: $54 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $454 billion
• The New Deal: Cost: $32 billion (Est), Inflation Adjusted Cost: $500 billion (Est)
• Invasion of Iraq: Cost: $551b, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $597 billion
• Vietnam War: Cost: $111 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $698 billion
• NASA: Cost: $416.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $851.2 billion

TOTAL: $3.92 trillion

(data courtesy of Bianco Research)

That is $686 billion less than the cost of the credit crisis thus far.

The only single American event in history that even comes close to matching the cost of the credit crisis is World War II: Original Cost: $288 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $3.6 trillion

The $4.6165 trillion dollars committed so far is about a trillion dollars ($979 billion dollars) greater than the entire cost of World War II borne by the United States: $3.6 trillion, adjusted for inflation (original cost was $288 billion). [emphasis added]

Go figure: WWII was a relative bargain.

So who are the real turkeys here, hmmm?

Campus carry advocates to continue push for carry rights

From the Madison, Wisconsin Badger Herald:

Student groups supporting the right to carry concealed weapons on campus are preparing to push for legislation in their favor when state governments reconvene in January.

David Burnett, board member at large for Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, said in an e-mail Friday the goal of the organization is to ensure holders of concealed handgun permits can enjoy the same rights on college campuses that current laws afford them virtually everywhere else.

According to Burnett, SCCC formed shortly after the Virginia Tech shooting as a national non-partisan grassroots organization comprised of students, faculty, parents of college students and “concerned citizens.”

Since its beginning, the SCCC has grown in popularity and now includes a chapter at UW, Burnett added.

Of course, Wisconsin is one of only two states (the other is Illinois) that has no provision for concealed carry, so it's not surprising that the article quotes a government functionary opposed to the idea of armed citizens:
Dane County Assistant District Attorney Mike Verveer said he supports the Wisconsin law for concealed weapons as it currently exists.

“I think that allowing people to carry concealed weapons is a recipe for disaster, and I respectfully disagree with those who advocate their use,” Verveer said.

Although he acknowledges why some believe students should be armed in light of the “awful incidents that have occurred recently throughout the country,” Verveer said he believes this method is the wrong way to approach personal safety on campus.

“I believe that having students, faculty and staff armed with weapons would only perhaps cause more of these tragedies to occur and not less,” Verveer said. “Whether a tragedy occurs in the heat of the moment or under the influence of something, if you are armed, this will increase the potential for a weapon to be used.”

Article here. According to the article, 15 states have considered bills in favor of SCCC's position, although none have yet passed.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Music

Tonight's musical interlude -- Thanksgiving, by George Winston:

Civic literacy test

Today's interactive educational feature, the Civic Literacy quiz:
If there is any presidential speech that has captured a place in popular culture, it is the Gettysburg Address, seemingly recited by school children for decades. The truth is, however, Lincoln’s most memorable words are now remembered by very few.

Of the 2,508 Americans taking ISI’s civic literacy test, 71% fail. Nationwide, the average score on the test is only 49%. The vast majority cannot recognize the language of Lincoln’s famous speech.

The test contains 33 questions designed to measure knowledge of America’s founding principles, political history, international relations, and market economy.

While the questions vary in difficulty, most test basic knowledge. Six are borrowed from U.S. government naturalization exams that test knowledge expected of all new American citizens. Nine are taken from the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests that the U.S. Department of Education uses to assess high school seniors. Three are drawn from an “American History 101” exam posted online by www.InfoPlease.com. Two were developed especially for this survey and the rest were drawn from ISI’s previous civic literacy tests.

The results reveal that Americans are alarmingly uninformed about our Constitution, the basic functions of our government, the key texts of our national history, and economic principles.

Visit the site here for a list of the study findings, and take the quiz here. Good luck!

Change, it's a comin'

From the American Thinker:
Losing Rep. Dingell as the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee does not bode well for American industries, but there is another ominous reason to fear Henry Waxman's ascent to the Chairmanship. Dingell was generally a steadfast pro-Second Amendment voice during his long tenure in the House, where he helped defeat several gun control laws proposed by his more liberal colleagues.

Michael Barone gives us a nice summary of Dingell's pro-gun views from an account of his primary fight in 2002. The left needs to be reminded that it was Dingell, not President Bush, Wayne LaPierre, or some other fire-breathing right-winger who first coined the term "jack-booted thugs" in reference to abuses of power by agents of the BATF. Some years ago, Dingell, as Chairman of the committee concerned with promoting commerce, was instrumental in squashing gun control measures designed to close the mythical "gun show loophole." His job, as he saw it, was to protect the individual's right to engage in lawful commerce of a legal product free from harassment by federal government agents.

Article here. Reportedly, the main reason John Dingell (D-MI) lost his chairmanship of the powerful Energy and Commerce committee was his opposition to sweeping "climate change" legislation that would likely have devastated energy-sensitive industries (and ultimately the entire economy), including the Detroit auto industry. Mr. Waxman's (D-CA) elevation to the chair of this committee increases the likelihood of such legislation getting out of committee. Naturally, Mr. Waxman also possesses bona fide anti-gun credentials, with a solid "F" rating from the NRA, and an "F-" rating from Gunowners of America (GOA). Of note, GOA gave Dingell an "F" rating, although he did garner an "A+" rating from the NRA in 2003.

Happy Thanksgiving

A happy thanksgiving to all, especially those serving in uniform in faraway places away from their families.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Of bellybuttons and supermodels

Tonight's hard-hitting journalism comes to us via the BBC:
Underwear model Karolina Kurkova has no belly button. Is a barely-there navel for cosmetic or medical reasons?


(Photo: BBC)

The newspapers call it the "riddle of the £2.5m beauty". The beauty in question is Czech supermodel Karolina Kurkova. The riddle is her non-existent belly button.

Its absence was noticed this week when the 24-year-old graced a US catwalk for lingerie giant Victoria Secret. While most of us have an "outie" or an "innie", Ms Kurkova has a smooth indentation (although sometimes a tummy button is airbrushed onto her photos in post-production).

The UK Daily Mail has more (Photos: Daily Mail):
Victoria's Secret model Karolina Kurkova put her bombshell curves on show during a photo shoot in Miami over the weekend, but it was her peculiar belly button that was attracting all the attention.



The Czech blonde's unusual navel had onlookers perplexed as she frolicked on the beach over the weekend in a tiny white bikini.



It's not the first time her almost non-existent belly button has drawn attention.

A source has revealed magazine and catalogue art directors routinely airbrush one in for in post-production.

'Karolina’s body is amazing, but her belly button is unusual,' a fashion insider told Page Six magazine.

'It disappears in photos, so we keep a collection of belly button shots in different positions, and Photoshop them on to her whenever she’s doing a bikini picture.'

Still, if she was at all self-conscious, she didn't let it show as she posed up on the foreshore.

The following day she was once again strutting her stuff at the lingerie company's catwalk extravaganza.



Scandalous! We can't be having our Supermodel royalty in need of photoshopped body features -- what's the world coming to? I think this calls for an in-depth and close up investigation to get to the, uh, bottom of it all. I for one would be willing to put in the long, grueling hours needed to compile a detailed report on Ms. Kurkova's alleged anatomical anomaly, as well as investigate the possibility of further imperfections in her physique. In person examinations and interviews will no doubt be necessary. It'll be tough work, but hey, someone's got to do it. :)

New sniper locator device ready for deployment

From the UK Telegraph:
British and American forces fighting the guerilla insurgence in Iraq and Afghanistan could soon be protected by an anti-sniper device that can pinpoint the position of the shooter within a fraction of a second.

The palm-sized device designed by Qinetiq, the British defence firm that was once the government research laboratories, is pinned to the uniform and uses acoustic technology to calculate the exact position of the rifle fire.

Then a electronic voice passes on the "bearing and range" to the soldier allowing him to jump to safety and return fire.

The machine has already been purchased by the Americans for deployment in the New Year and the British are looking at a vehicle mounted version.
...
The device, which costs around £2,500, works by isolating the crack of the sniper rifle thanks to four microphones, a GPS system and a powerful microprocessor.

It takes less than a tenth of a second and provides the results in audio and visual formats. It can even send a grid reference via radio to supporting artillery and aircraft. ...

Article here.

When seconds count, the police are only minutes away

Even if they are right outside. From the anti-gun, reason-free paradise that is Washington, D.C.:
Tiffany Gates was so afraid for her life that she began making her own funeral arrangements.

The 33-year-old had been stalked by her former boyfriend, who relatives said abused her for at least a year. In August, he set her Southeast Washington apartment on fire. On Friday, authorities said, he stabbed her to death after she dialed family members and 911. Gates was on the phone with a federal marshal as she was being attacked.

"He is here and kicking my door in," she told him. The marshal called for backup, but by the time he and D.C. police entered the building a short time later, Gates lay dying.

The killing was the culmination of a violent relationship, as described in court documents and by family members and friends. Police arrested her former boyfriend, Roderick A. Ridley, 31, who was hiding in a vacant apartment in the building. He was charged with second-degree murder while armed.

The marshal and a D.C. corrections officer, members of a regional fugitive task force who were looking for Ridley because he had escaped from a halfway house, were outside the apartment building when the attack occurred. Family members questioned why the men did not rush in before police arrived. Two law enforcement officials familiar with the details raised a similar point but spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case. Family members also said they wish Ridley had been charged with first-degree murder. [emphasis added]

"Marshals were outside the door while they were stabbing her," said Manyka Gaither, a family friend. "It's an insult."

Article here. Remember, you don't need a gun, just call 9-1-1. Just be a good victim and make sure you make your funeral arrangements in advance.

West Virginia announces CCW reciprocity with Louisiana

From the Mountain State:
Charleston, WV - Attorney General Darrell McGraw today announced a concealed weapons reciprocity agreement with the state of Louisiana. This is the latest in the ongoing efforts of Attorney General Darrell McGraw to negotiate agreements with states across the nation.

West Virginians with valid concealed weapons permits are now allowed to carry concealed weapons in a total of 23 states. West Virginia now has agreements with the following states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia. The states of Alaska, Indiana, Montana, and Vermont formally recognize West Virginia’s concealed handgun license without an agreement. Idaho and Kansas have not formally acknowledged recognition but appear to do so.

“Negotiating agreements with other states will continue to be a priority of the Attorney General’s office and we are glad to have added Louisiana to the growing list of states that recognize West Virginia’s permits,”stated Attorney General Darrell McGraw. [emphasis added]

During the 2007 legislative session House Bill 3074 was passed and signed by Governor Manchin on March 9, 2007. The law then transferred authority from Governor Manchin to Attorney General Darrell McGraw to negotiate concealed weapon reciprocity agreements with other states. Prior to authority being transferred to the Attorney General, West Virginia had agreements with only Virginia and Kentucky. [emphasis added] ...

Press release here. Note the difference that having someone (in this case, the state's attorney general) who makes securing reciprocity agreements a priority can have in the number of reciprocal states -- WV went from 2 states to 23 in a year and a half.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

For Monty Python fans

Tonight's homage to Monty Python, on the launch of their official YouTube channel:




A couple of clips (warning: language and gore) - The Black Knight:



The French Taunter:

Handgun "knockdown" power

From PoliceOne.com:
The FBI report also emphasizes that unless the bullet destroys or damages the central nervous system (i.e., brain or upper spinal cord), incapacitation of the subject can take a long time, seemingly longer if one is engaged in a firefight.

Failing a hit to the central nervous system, massive bleeding from holes in the heart or major blood vessels of the torso, causing circulatory collapse is the only other way to force incapacitation upon an adversary, and this takes time. For example, there is sufficient oxygen within the brain to support full, voluntary action for 10-15 seconds after the heart has been destroyed. (3)

More often than not, an officer firing at a suspect will not immediately know if he or she has even struck the target. The physics are such that the body will rarely involuntarily move or jerk, and usually there is no noticeable spewing of blood or surface tearing of tissue. Often there is no blood whatsoever. (4) That is why military surgeons and emergency room physicians take great time and pains to carefully examine gunshot victims for any additional small holes. Often that is the only indication the person has been shot.
...
In the mid-1980s I was involved in my first shooting as a police officer. But to give the story context, I must go back to 1982 when I graduated from the Long Beach Police Academy. The first thing I was told by experienced training officers I trusted and looked up to, was to “get rid of that pea-shooter 38 they issued you and buy a real gun with some knockdown power!” Although we were issued .38 caliber revolvers, we were authorized to carry a number of different caliber weapons on duty, the largest of which was the 45 Long Colt.

Imagine my surprise when I was confronted by a suspect armed with a shotgun in a dark alley and my Long Colt didn’t live up to its billing. I fired five rounds at the suspect. It wasn’t until I fired my last shot — intentionally aimed at his head — that he went down. I can’t begin to relate to you the surprise and horror I felt when there was absolutely no outward indication I was hitting my target. It was the kind of situation cops have nightmares about.

What actually happened? I fired five rounds at a distance of about twelve feet. The first one missed completely. The second struck his upper leg and broke his femur. The third struck him in the shoulder/chest. The fourth round hit him dead center—in the heart. And of course, the fifth was a headshot. Three of the five rounds created fatal wounds, though only one had immediate results.

Needless to say, I was pretty shaken by the whole thing. Not by the morality of what I’d done; the suspect had already fired at a bystander and taken a hostage earlier. He was also high on PCP. That wasn’t my inner struggle. What shook me was how unprepared I felt; how totally off guard I was taken by what occurred. No one ever told me it would be like that. The reality was contrary to everything I thought I knew about deadly force.

Article here.

The Kingdom of Seattle

From Seattle:
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels expects to introduce a city rule change in December that would ban all guns from city buildings and parks, despite objections from state officials and gun-rights advocates.

City staff released a draft of the proposed change to reporters Friday, which shows a change in line with statements Nickels made following a nonfatal shooting at the Northwest Folklife Festival in May.

The administrative change, which would not come to a City Council vote, would ban concealed weapons from city-owned property. Roads, sidewalks and most parking areas would not be included.

In October, the state Attorney General's Office issued an opinion asserting the mayor's proposed restrictions would violate state law blocking cities from enacting gun rules. The move also caught the attention of gun-rights advocates, who see it as an attempt by Nickels to pave the way for additional prohibitions.

Article here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Taking on the neighborhood crime watch

Tonight's Denny Crane moment:

Appeals court hears challenge to Oklamhoma gun ruling

From Denver, on Oklahoma's appeal of the ruling striking down the law allowing employees to keep guns in their vehicles in employer-owned parking lots:
DENVER — A lawyer who represents the National Rifle Association represented Oklahoma's governor and attorney general Wednesday in support of a controversial state gun-rights law.

The law requires employers to allow workers to have guns in locked vehicles where they work. It was struck down 13 months ago by U.S. District Judge Terence Kern in Tulsa.

In arguments Wednesday at the federal appeals court in Denver, lawyer Charles Cooper argued on behalf of Gov. Brad Henry and Attorney General Drew Edmondson that Kern was wrong.
...
Cooper contended that Kern wrongly concluded the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act pre-empts the state law.

He said OSHA is meant to require employers to maintain safe workplaces involving conditions over which employers have control.

"Employers have no control over random acts of violence that could occur anywhere," Cooper told a three-judge panel of the court.

Several employers, seeking to have the law struck down, sued the governor and attorney general after legislators passed the law in two stages in 2004 and 2005.

The law was passed in response to Weyerhauser Corp. firing eight workers at a timber mill in southeastern Oklahoma.

The workers had guns in their vehicles at the mill in violation of Weyerhauser policy.

Rep. Jerry Ellis, D-Valliant, a principal author of the gun-rights law, has said disgruntled workers who shoot people in the workplace are going to do so no matter what laws are enacted.

The appeals court, under its typical schedule, is likely to decide next year whether Kern was right to have issued a court order barring the state officials from enforcing the law.

The judges did not tip their hands Wednesday, but one of them, Bobby Baldock, said, "I've got a problem" with Kern's ruling that OSHA pre-empts the law.

Article here.

Can you hear me now?

From New Orleans:
When Ronald "R.J." Richard jumps on his tractor to do yard work, he normally clips his cell phone to the hip pocket of his overalls.

But Saturday he decided to hook it to bib of the garment, just over his heart. It was a decision made without a second thought, but it was one that might have saved Richard's life a short while later.

"Something hit me in the chest really hard, " said Richard, who initially thought he had been struck by a rock kicked up by the motor.

But when he took off his sweater and opened the nylon case for his Motorola Razr phone, a .45-caliber bullet fell out.

The stray bullet, probably fired from the woods near his 5-acre property on North Lee Road near Covington, shattered Richard's cell phone but left him with little more than a bad bruise.

Article here. Lucky guy.

Anti-gunners begin salivating

From an article by Brady Campaign president Paul Helmke, writing at the Huffington Post:
The elections two weeks ago reflected significant advances for the cause of gun violence prevention. Meanwhile, with stories of fear-driven gun sales emerging since the election, the shallowness of the gun lobby's divisive approach to America's problems has never been more apparent.

The Brady Campaign produced a well-documented report examining the November 4 results and exploring what the election means for the future of the gun violence prevention movement: Guns & The 2008 Elections: Common Sense Gun Laws Won, The NRA Lost, & What it Means.
...
President-elect Obama has consistently supported common sense gun laws in the U.S. Senate and in the Illinois State Senate, along with supporting an individual right to own a gun for self-defense in the home. Vice President-Elect Biden, one of the original authors of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban, has been a leader in gun violence prevention throughout his distinguished career. The Brady Campaign's choice was clear. In the middle of October, Jim and Sarah Brady and the Brady Campaign issued a strong endorsement of the Obama-Biden ticket.

By endorsing Sen. John McCain, the NRA was left backing someone they used to call "one of the premier flag carriers for the enemies of the Second Amendment." The NRA promised to spend millions of dollars trying to defeat then-Senator Obama in battleground states across the nation. By Election Day, the NRA had spent 30 times the amount of money against President-elect Obama than they'd spent against Al Gore in 2000. NRA bosses spent millions on television ads, campaign literature and Web sites screaming that Senator Obama would be "the most anti-gun President in history."

What happened (other than an increase in gun sales by those who believed this propaganda)? Over 64 million voters rejected the NRA's campaign of division and agreed with the Brady Campaign's choice for President. Barack Obama won the NRA's home state of Virginia -- the first time any Democrat for President carried the Old Dominion since 1964 -- and went on to win a cross-section of states from Florida to Indiana, Pennsylvania to Colorado, North Carolina to Nevada, Iowa to Ohio, and New Hampshire to New Mexico.

Article here. As the line of special interests forms in front of the White House and Congress waiting for Inauguration Day, you can bet the anti-gunners will be looking for their pound of flesh.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cars

Tonight's commercial humor:

For cheatin' Mercedes owners:




For faithful BMW owners:



I always did like BMWs. :)

The gun sales rush continues

From LewRockwell.com:
Seeking to reassure gun owners, Obama told a campaign audience in Ohio in October: “I will not take your shotgun away. I will not take your rifle away. I won’t take your handgun away.”

But the crowds mobbing America’s gun stores this week say a large number of Americans – including first-time gun-buyers – don’t believe it.

In 2003, while serving in the Illinois State Legislature, Barack Obama voted in favor of a bill in the Judiciary Committee that would have made it illegal to “knowingly manufacture, deliver or possess” so-called “semi-automatic assault weapons,” reports Chris Cox, chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. “Under this bill, a firearm did not actually have to be semi-automatic to be banned. According to definitions in the bill, all single-shot and double-barreled shotguns 28-gauge or larger, and many semi-automatic shotguns of the same size, would be banned as ‘assault weapons.’

“Any Illinois resident who possessed one of these commonly used guns 90 days after the effective date would have had to ‘destroy the weapon or device, render it permanently inoperable, relinquish it to a law enforcement agency, or remove it from the state.’ Anyone who still possessed a banned gun would have been subject to a felony sentence.”
...
Americans aren’t waiting to see which Barack Obama takes office in January. They’re voting with their feet, and their billfolds.

Glen Parshall of Bargain Pawn in North Las Vegas reported Wednesday that sales are “through the roof. I can’t get anything. I mean handguns, rifles, ammo, you name it. Ammo’s doubled in (wholesale) price in the past week if you can find it. I had a line of people waiting for me this morning when I showed up for work, waiting to buy AR-15s. Everybody’s fearful of the messiah, very, very much fearful, I mean hanging their heads and cannot believe he got elected fearful. [emphasis added]

“We had that rush in ’94 when they passed the first so-called assault weapons ban, but that’s nothing compared to what we’ve got going on now. I mean, people come through the door asking me ‘If I buy this now, they won’t be able to confiscate it next year, will they’? I tell them ‘My crystal ball is in the shop.’

“My biggest distributors nationwide, they’ve got a strict allocation of two AR-15 rifles per week per dealer – if they get them. Everybody wants ’em. Brownell’s is out of everything: nuts and bolts and screws. I just got done ordering a few barrels and upper receivers a few nights ago, but they’re out of magazines. I can’t buy a Glock anywhere in the country except the oddball ones, weird calibers or the ones in green with orange slides, things like that. I did find a couple ARs last week, match rifles that go for $2,000, I’ve got those coming in for customers. [emphasis added]

“In October before this all started, my sales were approximately double what they were last October. This week it’s up more than that, and it’d be a hell of a lot higher if I had anything. People are looking for handguns, looking for rifles, looking for magazines.

“Ammunition? 7.62-by-39 was $180 a case last month, now it’s $350 for a (thousand-round) case. .223 was $300 a case, I haven’t been able to find any, but it would run me over $400 if I could get any. A guy across town got in two pallets” (about 100,000 rounds) “of 9 millimeter, it lasted about a day and a half. It’s absolutely mind-boggling. I’m still selling a lot of revolvers. I can’t get short shotguns.” [emphasis added]

Article here.

Lending a helping hand?

Article from Police Magazine on asking bystanders for assistance:
Recently, I got to thinking about Nicola Cotton, the New Orleans police officer shot and killed with her own sidearm by a wanted rape suspect early this year. For seven minutes, Cotton struggled with her assailant in clear view of numerous civilian witnesses. None came forth to help the officer who was half the size of her assailant. Cotton, as well as the unborn baby she was carrying, paid the ultimate price for the apathy of those who milled around, idly intrigued by the sordid life-or-death drama that played out before them.

I was both depressed and disheartened by the incident. Depressed by the loss of another officer’s life; disheartened that so many she was trying to protect didn’t try to do as much for her.
...
Fortunately, there are those civilians who—requested or not—will jump into the fray in a cop’s hour of need.

People like twenty-one-year-old Ben Saks, who in 2006 was shot in his left hand while helping a police officer.

Or Texan Travis Neel, who, having witnessed the shooting of a Harris County deputy sheriff, pulled his own gun and fired, driving the deputy's assailants away.

Article here. One important consideration to be aware of if you take action to assist an officer being attacked is friend-or-foe identification for responding officers. In other words, how will responding officers know you're a good guy and part of the solution, rather than part of the problem, especially if you have to employ your gun and the officer you're assisting becomes incapacitated and cannot communicate your "good guy" status to responding units.

Another concern is liability, although many states have laws that will provide some measure of legal protection if you act under the orders and at the direction of a sworn law enforcement officer acting within the scope of his duties. Note however that regardless of whether you're acting under law enforcement direction or not, you are still responsible for acting within the use-of-force laws, that is, the laws pertaining to non-deadly and deadly force still apply, and any actions you take must conform to those laws.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A little humor

Tonight's medical-automotive humor:
A gynecologist had a burning desire to change careers and become a mechanic. So she found out from her local tech college what was involved, signed up for evening classes and attended diligently, learning all she could. When time for the practical exam approached, she prepared carefully for weeks, and completed the exam with tremendous skill.

When the results came back, she was surprised to find that she had obtained a mark of 150%. Fearing an error, she called the instructor, saying "I don't want to appear ungrateful for such an outstanding result, but I wondered if there had been an error which needed adjusting."

The instructor said, "During the exam, you took the engine apart perfectly, which was worth 50% of the total mark. You put the engine back together again perfectly, which is also worth 50% of the mark. I gave you an extra 50% because you did all of it THROUGH the muffler..."


:)

The car of the future

More hilarious satire from IowaHawk:
All new for 2012, the Pelosi GTxi SS/Rt Sport Edition is the mandatory American car so advanced it took $100 billion and an entire Congress to design it. We started with same reliable 7-way hybrid ethanol-biodeisel-electric-clean coal-wind-solar-pedal power plant behind the base model Pelosi, but packed it with extra oomph and the sassy styling pizazz that tells the world that 1974 Detroit is back again -- with a vengeance.

We've subsidized the features you want and taxed away the rest. With its advanced Al Gore-designed V-3 under the hood pumping out 22.5 thumping, carbon-neutral ponies of Detroit muscle, you'll never be late for the Disco or the Day Labor Shelter. Engage the pedal drive or strap on the optional jumbo mizzenmast, and the GTxi SS/Rt Sport Edition easily exceeds 2016 CAFE mileage standards. At an estimated 268 MPG, that's a savings of nearly $1800 per week in fuel cost over the 2011 Pelosi.

Even with increased performance we didn't skimp on safety. With 11-point passenger racing harnesses, 15-way airbags, and mandatory hockey helmet, you'll have the security knowing that you could survive a 45 MPH collision even if the GTxi SS/Rt were capable of that kind of illegal speed.

Read it all here.

Gun control, New Jersey edition

From a letter to the editor on NJ.com:
It seems most of our legislators have this unfounded fear that if Bill A1282 is enacted, everyone will rush to get their concealed carry permit and there will be millions of guns on our streets which will result in a bloodbath the likes we have never seen. History shows since concealed carry legislation was passed in Florida in 1987 only an estimated 3% of the Floridian population has chosen to obtain a concealed carry permit.

Now, let's return to New Jersey. The latest Census estimate the population of NJ is 8.7 million. If two percent of citizens are granted a concealed carry permit, that would be approximately 174,000 people. That also means there will only be 2 people per square mile who would have their permit to legally carry their weapon. There are 10 times more criminals and street gang members in our cities that are illegally carrying concealed right at this very moment! So what exactly are we afraid of???

Read it here.

Those evil guns

From formerly-Great Britain:
A memorabilia collector has been jailed for five years for possessing a Second World War rifle listed as a prohibited firearm. The rifle was not in a condition to fire live ammunition.

But Stafford Crown Court heard replacing the deteriorated pin would have made that possible. Phillip Peter Kent, aged 29, of Owen Walk, Highfields, Stafford, was arrested in the street by police acting on information at 7.30am on June 20 this year.
...
“He was told by the person who sold it to him it was de-commissioned. He was a bona fide, not secretive, collector and was immediately and absolutely co-operative.

“The gun was in the state in which he received it and, although that does not make it a non-prohibited weapon, there was no ammunition, no evidence of his seeking any or of intentional or actual use.”

Article here. Thank goodness the British government got that non-functioning World War II evil deadly assault weapon-of-mass-destruction rifle "off the streets"! Although I'm a bit surprised that the rifle wasn't sentenced to the mandatory minimum five years in prison.

Close quarters considerations

From LawOfficer.com, but applicable to anyone who carries a gun:
According to Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted 2007, 55 officers were killed by gunfire last year. 27 of the officers killed were within zero to five feet from their offender and another ten officers were between six and ten feet from their offender. Two of the officers were killed with their own firearm.

So why are agencies still devoting so much of their allotted training time to shooting from the 25-yard line and beyond? Why are agencies still treating firearms and defensive tactics as separate disciplines?

I'm not suggesting that we stop practicing shooting from distances greater than ten feet, but I firmly believe that we need much more comprehensive training in close quarter shooting. When faced with a deadly threat within five feet, we have to be proficient at fighting with our gun.

We may have to use our non-gun hand to strike or to thwart incoming strikes, creating an opportunity to draw our firearm. Additionally, we must be prepared to protect our firearm from this range to avoid being disarmed.

Article here. I am not a fan of the two handed close quarters position mentioned in the article. At contact distances, the less dominant (non-gun) hand is typically better employed blocking and counter-striking the attacker, than providing a two handed hold on the gun.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Risky Business, Improved

Tonight's Friday night guitar hero -- Heidi Klum:

CCW equipment considerations

From Buckeye Firearms Association, on some concealed carry equipment selection considerations:
It is easy to forget or overlook some of the equipment essentials when it comes to carrying a concealed handgun. Here a very quick and basic over view of some of the essential equipment. The topic of holster or handgun selection could easily fill up several hundred pages and still leave many important points out. So, let’s take a few minutes to review five pieces of essential equipment related concealed carry.

Article here. Pretty basic stuff, but may be of use to those who are new to guns and are considering carrying for the first time. The article touches on handgun, holster, and gunbelt selection, as well as the need to carry extra ammo and a cell phone. I would also add a small "tactical"-type flashlight to the list.

A look behind the scenes at the history of the Heller case

From Reason Magazine, a look at the background and history of the Heller Second Amendment litigation:
In retrospect, D.C. v. Heller seems almost inevitable, because of shifting public and academic attitudes toward gun rights. But victory came only after a protracted struggle, with many pitfalls along the way. It was pulled off by a small gang of philosophically dedicated lawyers—not “gun nuts” in any stereotypical sense, but thoughtful libertarians who believe Second Amendment liberties are a vital part of our free republic. Together they consciously crafted a solid, clean civil rights case to overturn the most onerous and restrictive set of gun regulations in the country. In the process, they set the stage for further legal challenges to other firearms restrictions from coast to coast.

Someone was going to reach the Supreme Court with a challenge to firearms regulation. In the 2001 Fifth Circuit case U.S. v. Emerson, a federal appeals court for the first time declared unequivocally that the Second Amendment, despite containing the word “militia” in its preamble, did indeed protect an individual right to bear arms. Though groundbreaking in the judicial system, that individual rights interpretation was already dominant within the legal academy, after decades of scholarship chipped away at the once-preeminent “collective rights” view that the amendment only protected either a state’s right to maintain a militia, or an individual’s rights within the context of militia service.
...
Yet Heller was almost derailed on a series of occasions, sometimes by the very people who cherish gun rights and constitutional protections the most, including the National Rifle Association (NRA). Many lacked confidence that the Court was ready to catch up with the legal academy. In the hour of opportunity, many blinked. Victory over these self-doubts provide a powerful reminder that, as Barry Goldwater reminded us, sometimes an overly fearful moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue, and that even decades of bad policy and bad political philosophy can turn around with smart, tenacious efforts.
...
Heller isn’t a sweet lady trying to turn around a dodgy neighborhood; he’s an outspoken ideological activist seeking to push the federal government back within its constitutional bounds, and therefore (his lawyers fretted) potentially off-putting to judges, media, and citizens alike. One of his best friends, a thick, intense, walrus-mustachioed man named Dane vonBreichenruchardt, runs a small-scale political action group called the Bill of Rights Foundation, appears with Heller at most press conferences and events.

The best hook about Heller was his day job, as a trained and licensed special police officer contracted by a private firm to provide security services for the District of Columbia. For years, he carried a gun every day at the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judicial Center, yet he still had to turn over his sidearm and bullets at the end of each workday and go home, defenseless.

The city could hardly maintain that it was inherently unsafe for Dick Heller to possess or handle a weapon, since he does it every day as part of his job, and is deputized to do so by the city itself, background checks and all.

Heller knew his lawyers weren’t comfortable with him openly discussing many of his anti-government enthusiasms. When the cameras or notepads were in front of him, he wanted to talk about “the insanity of it, the overreach of government relegating all of us to second-class citizenship. The government grants us a gun then takes it away, says your life is not worth spit, but says ‘take care of us 9-5.’ That’s where I developed the idea that we truly are second-class citizens. How is that any different than Moscow?”
...
How is it that Heller alone survived the standing challenge? Even before the Parker case was officially filed, his friend Dane vonBreichenruchardt knew Heller was involved and intending to be a plaintiff—it was vonBreichenruchardt, who already knew Levy, who had introduced Heller to Levy.

VonBreichenruchardt had been a plaintiff in a previous case against certain regulations affecting the operations of nonprofits, rules that he felt amounted to a prior restraint on his First Amendment rights. He saw his case dismissed for lack of standing, for various reasons, one of which was that since he had not actually been punished for violating the law, it could be said that his claim that the regulations in question violated his rights was merely speculative.

So vonBreichenruchardt encouraged Heller to fill out a form to register one of the handguns Heller owned (apparently stored outside the district), even though he knew there was no way the city would actually accept the illegal pistol.

“It makes all the difference in the world that this one guy went down and filled out an absolutely meaningless piece of paper which you knew in advance was a futile act,” Neily says. “It was not intentional on the part of Alan, Bob, and myself, but it was intentional on the part of Dick and Dane, and it was very important that Dane had that insight and did that.” Heller slid in because he had a permit denied: a clear injury with a paper trail.

Read the rest here.

On Obama's likely Attorney General nominee

From the no-big-surprise files comes word that President-elect Obama's likely nominee for Attorney General, Eric Holder, who served in the Clinton Justice Department, wants to close the gun show "loophole". From a June 1999 statement by then-deputy Attorney General Holder:
"But while the Brady law has done a lot to make this country safer, the law has a dangerous loophole that criminals and others who cannot legally buy guns at a licenced gun shop exploit. While everyone who buys a gun through a licenced dealer must undergo a background check to determine if they are eligible to buy a gun, the current law allows unlicenced sellers at gun shows to sell to anyone -- with no questions asked.

"It's not hard to see what kind of message that sends to criminals.

"But it is hard for me to believe that any reasonable person -- including those who serve in Congress -- could oppose taking the simple step necessary to close that gap.

"Last month the Senate passed a bill that does close the loophole. And this week the House has an opportunity to join them in this very logical decision.

"This should be an easy decision. But for many Members it will not be, because of the pressure they are under from the NRA. We must urge Congress to resist the gun lobby's pressure to vote for the sham gun control being pressed on the House.

Read his statement here.

A National Review article also raises Mr. Holder's position on the "loophole":
The fact that Attorney General nominee Eric Holder is no friend to gun owners is not a surprise. What may be a surprise, and worthy of examination at his confirmation hearing, is Holder's post-9/11 contention that a pressing threat to our national security is terrorists shopping for weapons at U.S. gun shows.

Article here.

Another National Review article discusses some of Mr. Holder's record in the Clinton Justice Department:
In any other time, Holder would simply be an uninspired choice. But these are not ordinary times — we face a serious, persistent threat from Islamist terrorists. At the same time, Democrats have expressed outrage over both the alleged politicization of the Justice Department and the reckless disregard of its storied traditions. For these times, it is difficult to imagine a worse choice for AG than Eric Holder.

Much has been made, and appropriately so, of Holder’s untoward performance in the final corrupt act of the Clinton administration: the pardons issued in the departing president’s final hours. Of these, most notorious is the case of Marc Rich, an unrepentant fugitive wanted on extensive fraud, racketeering, and trading-with-the-enemy charges — but granted a pardon nonetheless thanks to the intercession of his ex-wife, a generous donor to Clinton’s library and legal-defense fund.

Holder’s role was aptly described as “unconscionable” by a congressional committee. He steered Rich’s allies to retain the influential former White House counsel Jack Quinn (Holder later conceded he hoped Quinn would help him become attorney general in a Gore administration); he helped Quinn directly lobby Clinton, doing an end-run around the standard pardon process (including DOJ’s pardon attorney); and he kept the deliberations hidden from the district U.S. attorney and investigative agencies prosecuting Rich so they couldn’t learn about the pardon application and register their objections.

Article here.

Finally, Dave Kopel, writing at Volokh, notes that Mr. Holder signed an amicus brief supporting Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban in the D.C. v. Heller case before the Supreme Court earlier this year:
Earlier this year, Eric Holder--along with Janet Reno and several other former officials from the Clinton Department of Justice--co-signed an amicus brief in District of Columbia v. Heller. The brief was filed in support of DC's ban on all handguns, and ban on the use of any firearm for self-defense in the home. The brief argued that the Second Amendment is a "collective" right, not an individual one, and asserted that belief in the collective right had been the consistent policy of the U.S. Department of Justice since the FDR administration. A brief filed by some other former DOJ officials (including several Attorneys General, and Stuart Gerson, who was Acting Attorney General until Janet Reno was confirmed)took issue with the Reno-Holder brief's characterization of DOJ's viewpoint.

But at the least, the Reno-Holder brief accurately expressed the position of the Department of Justice when Janet Reno was Attorney General and Eric Holder was Deputy Attorney General. At the oral argument before the Fifth Circuit in United States v. Emerson, the Assistant U.S. Attorney told the panel that the Second Amendment was no barrier to gun confiscation, not even of the confiscation of guns from on-duty National Guardsmen.

As Deputy Attorney General, Holder was a strong supporter of restrictive gun control. He advocated federal licensing of handgun owners, a three day waiting period on handgun sales, rationing handgun sales to no more than one per month, banning possession of handguns and so-called "assault weapons" (cosmetically incorrect guns) by anyone under age of 21, a gun show restriction bill that would have given the federal government the power to shut down all gun shows, national gun registration, and mandatory prison sentences for trivial offenses (e.g., giving your son an heirloom handgun for Christmas, if he were two weeks shy of his 21st birthday). He also promoted the factoid that "Every day that goes by, about 12, 13 more children in this country die from gun violence"--a statistic is true only if one counts 18-year-old gangsters who shoot each other as "children."(Sources: Holder testimony before House Judiciary Committee, Subcommitee on Crime, May 27,1999; Holder Weekly Briefing, May 20, 2000. One of the bills that Holder endorsed is detailed in my 1999 Issue Paper "Unfair and Unconstitutional.") [emphasis added]

It's going to be a long four (or eight) years.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tonight's laugh

Tonight funny car commerials:

GCO files appeal brief

From GeorgiaCarry.org (GCO):
GCO has filed its brief in support of its appeal in the Atlanta Airport gun case. GCO sued Atlanta in federal district court because of Atlanta’s threats to arrest people lawfully carrying firearms in the Atlanta Airport. The district court granted Atlanta’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, finding that GCO had not introduced sufficient evidence that HB 89 (which decriminalized carrying firearms “on public transportation” for GFL holders) applies to airports (overlooking the fact that a party is neither permitted nor required to introduce evidence in opposition to a motion for judgment on the pleadings). GCO has appealed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

Info here. Read a copy of the brief here.

Avoiding the bucket

Article on the need to avoid inculcating bad habits during training:
US law enforcement was rocked in the 1950’s by a string of what was then termed “Mad Dog Killers”. They were people who couldn’t take their dull and dreary lives any more, so they geared up with a gun and went on a murder spree until killed by the cops. What was really alarming is how many police officers these losers were taking with them.

Investigations after the fact turned up some surprising trends. When faced with a madman who didn’t care if he lived or died, officers would shoot their revolvers empty and then never get around to reloading. Most of them were found, shot dead by the perp, with six empty cases in one hand and their gun in the other with the cylinder open. Most of the officers never even tried to reload from the extra rounds riding on their belt.

But wait, it gets weirder. Witnesses would report that a few officers would even break cover and wander around in the open, staring at their feet. They, too, would have a handful of spent brass and an open gun.

It was a mystery until a smart FBI agent thought to visit a few police pistol ranges that were operated by departments that lost men in shootouts. He found that most of them were modern facilities that were well maintained. But it was that same care lavished on the property that was reducing the chances of coming out the other end of a gun fight in one piece.

Article here. If I recall correctly, some of the CHP officers killed in the infamous Newhall, CA shootout were found to have had empty brass in their pockets. As I recall, the rangemaster at their unit reportedly required officers to not drop their empty brass on the ground during qualification so as not to litter his neat, tidy range. The officers apparently took that trained response with them to their fatal gunfight. As the old adage goes, "train the way you want to fight, because you will fight the way you have trained." Bad habits and all.

More nonsense from New Jersey

Op-ed on more anti-gun legislation in New Jersey:
It seems that those intent on dismantling the Second Amendment brick by brick have found a new target of opportunity to demonize and ban: guns with a larger hole in the barrel than others.

On November 17, the New Jersey Assembly is set to consider A2116, which bans most firearms which shoot projectiles of 50 caliber or larger.

Many hunting and historical firearms fall into this category, so A2116 would ironically ban Revolutionary and Civil War flintlocks and muskets that won the very freedom that the legislation seeks to take away, not to mention popular hunting rifles. It could also ban a truly evil scourge of society that shoots 100+ caliber projectiles: marshmallow guns.

Apart from obvious absurdity, A2116 makes the fundamental mistake of banning hardware rather than punishing criminal behavior. It's a truly awful piece of legislation that will accomplish little to advance public safety, but plenty to erode the Constitutional rights of law abiding citizens.

Op-ed here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

May I have the rings, please

Tonight's wedding video:



Oops!

Bailout vs. Bankruptcy

From the New York Times, on the bailout talks for the auto industry:
G.M is using money so quickly that a $10 billion infusion made today would disappear by February. That is why taxpayers shouldn’t fork over a cent, at least until shareholders are wiped out, management is tossed out and the industry is completely reorganized.

But there is a fix. Call it a government-sponsored bankruptcy, a G.S.B., if you will. It might sound a bit like an oxymoron, but it is an idea that has been quietly making the rounds in Washington. It makes a lot of sense.
...
Bankruptcy would give G.M. enormous leverage with its debt holders — and, perhaps more important, with the U.A.W., whose gold-plated benefits are one reason G.M. is no longer competitive. A bankruptcy filing would also give G.M. the cover to close plants, rid itself of unprofitable brands and shed dealerships. In fact, unless G.M. files for bankruptcy, state laws would make it prohibitively expensive to shut dealerships.

So, first, the government would force G.M into a prepackaged bankruptcy now — even before policy makers may think it needs to be. As an inducement, the government would allow the merger with Chrysler to go forward. (There’s a lot of resistance to saving Chrysler too, but we need to look at the industry as a whole. And don’t worry: Cerberus, the private equity firm that owns Chrysler, would have its equity wiped out too.)
...
In all, the 35 plants of G.M. and Chrysler would probably be cut by half.

Then the auto workers, whose benefits are off the charts.

G.M. currently employs about 8,000 people who actually don’t come to work. Those who do go to work are paid about $10 to $20 an hour more than people who do the same job building cars in the United States for foreign makers like Toyota. At G.M., as of 2007, the average worker was paid about $70 an hour, including health care and pension costs. [emphasis added]
...
The automobile industry has argued that bankruptcy will be a disaster for the industry; that people won’t buy vehicles while they’re in bankruptcy for fear that the warranty won’t mean anything. There’s a fix for that too. The government should establish a warranty insurance fund that would insure the warranties of all G.M. and Chrysler vehicles bought while the combined company is still operating under bankruptcy protection. The cost to taxpayers should be next to nothing, assuming the company survives and can takeover the warranty obligations.

Article here.

Also from the New York Times, Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and Republican presidential candidate has an op-ed on the bailout:
IF General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.

Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.
...
First, their huge disadvantage in costs relative to foreign brands must be eliminated. That means new labor agreements to align pay and benefits to match those of workers at competitors like BMW, Honda, Nissan and Toyota. Furthermore, retiree benefits must be reduced so that the total burden per auto for domestic makers is not higher than that of foreign producers.

That extra burden is estimated to be more than $2,000 per car. Think what that means: Ford, for example, needs to cut $2,000 worth of features and quality out of its Taurus to compete with Toyota’s Avalon. Of course the Avalon feels like a better product — it has $2,000 more put into it. Considering this disadvantage, Detroit has done a remarkable job of designing and engineering its cars. But if this cost penalty persists, any bailout will only delay the inevitable.

Second, management as is must go. New faces should be recruited from unrelated industries — from companies widely respected for excellence in marketing, innovation, creativity and labor relations.

Read the op-ed here.

Naturally, the CEOs would rather receive bailout money. From Bloomberg:
Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Chrysler LLC Chief Executive Officer Robert Nardelli told Congress his automaker studied a prearranged bankruptcy before dismissing the idea as unworkable and approaching the U.S. government for money to survive.

In recounting the deliberations, he spotlighted the industry's objections to a so-called prepackaged bankruptcy as championed by some Republican lawmakers. While proponents say such a filing would let U.S. automakers survive, the companies say going to court would end in their liquidation.

``We did look at prepackaged,'' Nardelli said at a hearing in Washington. ``We looked at pre-negotiated. We've looked at almost every alternative within Chrysler as a privately held company before we came here and asked for support.''

Nardelli and General Motors Corp. CEO Rick Wagoner, who has repeatedly ruled out bankruptcy, told senators yesterday that a failure would produce an economic ``catastrophe'' much costlier than the $25 billion in aid being proposed by Democrats. GM has said it may run out of operating cash this year.

The question isn't whether there is going to be pain; lots of pain is pretty much a foregone conclusion. The question is who should bear the brunt of that pain -- the auto companies and their (unionized) workers and company execs, along with suppliers, towns and businesses associated with Detroit automakers, or workers across the nation working in industries wholly unassociated with automaking. In other words, should the general public pony up for the failures of Detroit and its unions, or should those who created and actively participate in those failing enterprises suffer the consequences of their long history of greed, incompetence and mismanagement.

Of course, political considerations are likely to overwhelm any other considerations. Unions are no doubt going to explain to the Dems in Congress the ramifications of not making Joe and Jane taxpayer foot the bill for their gold-plated worker benefits. The auto execs (who reportedly traveled to DC in their companies' private jets) testifying begging before Congress today are merely the front men for this taxpayer con-game.

The Shallowest Generation

Interesting but thought-provoking rant, for want of a better word, on the Baby Boomers and their role in the global financial crisis:
The Baby Boom Generation will never be mistaken for the Greatest Generation that survived the Great Depression and defeated evil in a World War that killed 72 million people. I hate to tell you Boomers, but putting a yellow ribbon on the back of your $50,000 SUV is not sacrifice. Our claim to fame is living way beyond our means for the last three decades, to the point where we have virtually bankrupted our capitalist system. Baby Boomers have been occupying the White House for the last sixteen years. The majority of Congress is Baby Boomers. The CEOs and top executives of Wall Street firms are Baby Boomers. The media is dominated by Baby Boom executives and on-air stars. We have no one to blame but ourselves for the current predicament. Blaming Franklin Roosevelt or Lyndon Johnson for our dire situation is a cop out. Baby Boomers had the time, power, and ability to change our course. We have chosen to leave the heavy lifting to future generations in order to live the good life today.

Of course, not all Baby Boomers are shallow, greedy, and corrupt. Mostly Boomers with power and wealth fall into this category. There were 76 million Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1963. They now make up 28% of the U.S. population. Their impact on America is undeniable. The defining events of their generation have been the Kennedy assassination, Vietnam, Kent State, Woodstock, the 1st man on the moon, and now the collapse of our Ponzi scheme financial system. They rebelled against their parents, protested the Vietnam War, and settled down in 2,300 square foot cookie cutter McMansions with perfectly manicured lawns, in mall infested suburbia. They have raised overscheduled spoiled children, moved up the corporate ladder by pushing paper rather than making things, lived above their means in order to keep up with their neighbors, bought whatever they wanted using debt, and never worried about the future. Over optimism, unrealistic assumptions, selfishness and conspicuous consumption have been their defining characteristics.

Read the rest at The Big Picture here. Some good charts and graphs as well.

Winnetka gun ban (finally) falls

From NBC Chicago:
Despite pleas from residents gathered at a town hall meeting Tuesday night, Winnetka officials voted to repeal a 20-year ban on handguns.

A Supreme Court ruling in June declared that the Second Amendment guarantees the right of individual Americans to keep and bear arms.

In September, three Winnetka residents and the National Rifle Association sued the village, stating that the local ban violated their rights protected by the Constitution.

The plaintiffs claimed they were "subjected to irreparable harm in that they were unable to obtain handguns and ammunition to protect themselves in their homes ... subjecting them to endangerment from criminal intruders."

The Village Board referenced both the high court ruling and the lawsuit in making it's decision Tuesday night. Council members said they feared if they didn't repeal the ordinance it would cost the suburb thousands of dollars to fight the suit with the real risk of still losing in court.

Article here.

PETA calls for ban on hunting by those under 18

From US Sportsmen's Alliance:
(Columbus, Ohio) – The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) decries the most recent effort of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to ban hunting in Arizona.

On November 11, PETA sent a letter to the Governor of Arizona, Janet Napolitano, urging support of legislation that would ban hunting by anyone younger than 18.

PETA is attempting to exploit recent November 5 news coverage of a tragedy in which an eight year-old boy allegedly shot and killed his father, Vincent Romero, and Timothy Romans with a .22-caliber rifle. The organization claims that the violent act was fomented by a recent family prairie dog hunting trip.

PETA told Gov. Napolitano that hunting teaches “children to see others as nothing more than living targets.”

Press release here.

Another lead bullets study

From Wyoming:
JACKSON - Preliminary results of a study by a University of Montana graduate student suggest that lead bullets may be poisoning grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem.

Tom Rogers sampled blood from 13 grizzlies during hunting season and found nearly half had elevated levels of lead, possibly because the bears had eaten lead bullet fragments in big-game carcasses left behind by hunters.

Lead typically stays in an animal's blood stream for about two weeks before it is deposited in organs and other tissues. Lead poisoning in human children can cause serious health problems including stomach pain, anemia, lower intelligence and poor school performance.

In all, Rogers checked blood samples of 24 grizzly bears for lead contamination. The 11 bears sampled outside of hunting season did not have elevated lead levels.

Article here. The drumbeat by the anti-gun, anti-hunting folks will continue. Hunters better wise up and be prepared for this latest line of attack.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On a desktop far, far away

Tonight's Windows XP adventure -- war of the icons:

Global warming, er, cooling

From the UK Telegraph:
A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore's chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China's official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its "worst snowstorm ever". In the US, 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.

So what explained the anomaly? GISS's computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running.

The error was so glaring that when it was reported on the two blogs - run by the US meteorologist Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre, the Canadian computer analyst who won fame for his expert debunking of the notorious "hockey stick" graph - GISS began hastily revising its figures. This only made the confusion worse because, to compensate for the lowered temperatures in Russia, GISS claimed to have discovered a new "hotspot" in the Arctic - in a month when satellite images were showing Arctic sea-ice recovering so fast from its summer melt that three weeks ago it was 30 per cent more extensive than at the same time last year.

Article here. Oops!

Evil hunters and their evil lead bullets

From a Washington Times editorial:
The wealthiest animal rights organization in the country, the Humane Society of the United States, is again asking for a nationwide ban on lead-shot ammunition.

It says the North Dakota Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have preliminary findings that show you will end up with higher levels of lead in your blood if you eat wildlife killed with "lead bullets" than with other types of ammo.

Please, no laughing just yet. Wait until the end because there's good and bad news in all of this.

Op-ed here.

Obama and guns

From Buckeye Firearms Association:
So, as believers in the civil right to bear arms, where do we go now that the most anti-gun president in history takes office in January?

To be fair, for us, nothing changes. We simply attack this problem as aggressively as we attacked the Clinton administration and the Republicans who turned their back on us and voted for the Joe Biden-authored 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. We stand up and force the elected officials to consider the danger to their future electoral viability if they try to take our guns.

Our job is to remind them of the Democrats bounced out of office after the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban passed. We need to remind them of Al Gore losing his home state of Tennessee in 2000 due to his willingness to take our guns, and we need to remind them that John Kerry lost in 2004 largely because of his stance on gun rights.

President Elect Barack Obama did a great job of convincing people who haven’t been paying attention that he isn’t anti-gun. Well, those of us in the movement know better. But, his duplicitous campaign does us a lot of good going forward. If Obama comes for our guns, all the pro-gun voters who were tricked and voted for him will help our cause. They are likely to feel burned by his glad-handing ways.

Our biggest cause for optimism is Obama’s election year lie about his support for gun rights. The backlash he will likely experience if he tries to change that tune is likely to get him, and all the pro-gun politicians who told us he wouldn’t come for our guns, booted from office.

Each day, we need to make sure all the people who promised us we have nothing to fear from an Obama presidency know we will hold their feet to the fire, just like his.

Article here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Time Machine

Tonight's interactive time machine, er, waster -- at the end you get to make a decision on the course of the movie:



Happy trails!

Bathtime in style

Tonight's watery delight, at least for the super-rich crowd (via Newsweek):

Talk about a luxurious soak in the tub. The Amaltea bathtub, designed by Baldi of Florence, Italy, is made entirely of the precious purple gem amethyst, and adorned with 24-karat gold-plated legs. Matching lotion dispenser, soap dish and tumbler are also available. Now there's no reason for a bather ever to get out (€95,000; baldi.biz).



I guess it's for those who haven't already taken a bath in the stock market. :)

Flu in your area? Maybe Google knows

Interesting article from the New York Times on using Google to track outbreaks of the flu:
SAN FRANCISCO — There is a new common symptom of the flu, in addition to the usual aches, coughs, fevers and sore throats. Turns out a lot of ailing Americans enter phrases like “flu symptoms” into Google and other search engines before they call their doctors.

That simple act, multiplied across millions of keyboards in homes around the country, has given rise to a new early warning system for fast-spreading flu outbreaks, called Google Flu Trends.

Tests of the new Web tool from Google.org, the company’s philanthropic unit, suggest that it may be able to detect regional outbreaks of the flu a week to 10 days before they are reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In early February, for example, the C.D.C. reported that the flu cases had recently spiked in the mid-Atlantic states. But Google says its search data show a spike in queries about flu symptoms two weeks before that report was released. Its new service at google.org/flutrends analyzes those searches as they come in, creating graphs and maps of the country that, ideally, will show where the flu is spreading.

Article here. Interesting. This capability might actually be useful in the event of a flu pandemic, allowing the CDC and others to track and possibly predict the spread of the disease, which might give them a few extra days to position and deploy scarce resources to the expected target areas most in need.