Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dog workout

Tonight's workout video:

Too cute.

Death of a civilization

From LewRockwell.com, on the story of the Xhosa:
Death of a Civilization
by David Deming

Over the past several years we have learned that small groups of people can engage in mass suicide. In 1978, 918 members of the Peoples' Temple led by Jim Jones perished after drinking poisoned koolaid. In 1997, 39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult died after drugging themselves and tieing plastic bags around their heads. Unfortunately, history also demonstrates that it is possible for an entire civilization to commit suicide by intentionally destroying the means of its subsistence.

In the early nineteenth century, the British colonized Southeast Africa. The native Xhosa resisted, but suffered repeated and humiliating defeats at the hands of British military forces. The Xhosa lost their independence and their native land became an English colony. The British adopted a policy of westernizing the Xhosa. They were to be converted to Christianity, and their native culture and religion was to be wiped out. Under the stress of being confronted by a superior and irresistible technology, the Xhosa developed feelings of inadequacy and inferiority. In this climate, a prophet appeared.

In April of 1856, a fifteen-year-old girl named Nongqawuse heard a voice telling her that the Xhosa must kill all their cattle, stop cultivating their fields, and destroy their stores of grain and food. The voice insisted that the Xhosa must also get rid of their hoes, cooking pots, and every utensil necessary for the maintenance of life. Once these things were accomplished, a new day would magically dawn. Everything necessary for life would spring spontaneously from the earth. The dead would be resurrected. The blind would see and the old would have their youth restored. New food and livestock would appear in abundance, spontaneously sprouting from the earth. The British would be swept into the sea, and the Xhosa would be restored to their former glory. What was promised was nothing less than the establishment of paradise on earth.

Nongqawuse told this story to her guardian and uncle, Mhlakaza. At first, the uncle was skeptical. But he became a believer after accompanying his niece to the spot where she heard the voices. Although Mhlakaza heard nothing, he became convinced that Nongqawuse was hearing the voice of her dead father, and that the instructions must be obeyed. Mhlakaza became the chief prophet and leader of the cattle-killing movement.

News of the prophecy spread rapidly, and within a few weeks the Xhosa king, Sarhili, became a convert. He ordered the Xhosa to slaughter their cattle and, in a symbolic act, killed his favorite ox. As the hysteria widened, other Xhosa began to have visions. Some saw shadows of the resurrected dead arising from the sea, standing in rushes on the river bank, or even floating in the air. Everywhere that people looked, they found evidence to support what they desperately wanted to be true.

The believers began their work in earnest. Vast amounts of grain were taken out of storage and scattered on the ground to rot. Cattle were killed so quickly and on such an immense scale that vultures could not entirely devour the rotting flesh. The ultimate number of cattle that the Xhosa slaughtered was 400,000. After killing their livestock, the Xhosa built new, larger kraals to hold the marvelous new beasts that they anticipated would rise out of the earth. The impetus of the movement became irresistible.

The resurrection of the dead was predicted to occur on the full moon of June, 1856. Nothing happened. The chief prophet of the cattle-killing movement, Mhlakaza, moved the date to the full moon of August. But again the prophecy was not fulfilled.

The cattle-killing movement now began to enter a final, deadly phase, which its own internal logic dictated as inevitable. The failure of the prophecies was blamed on the fact that the cattle-killing had not been completed. Most believers had retained a few cattle, chiefly consisting of milk cows that provided an immediate and continuous food supply. Worse yet, there was a minority community of skeptical non-believers who refused to kill their livestock.

The fall planting season came and went. Believers threw their spades into the rivers and did not sow a single seed in the ground. By December of 1856, the Xhosa began to feel the pangs of hunger. They scoured the fields and woods for berries and roots, and attempted to eat bark stripped from trees. Mhlakaza set a new date of December 11 for the fulfillment of the prophecy. When the anticipated event did not occur, unbelievers were blamed.

The resurrection was rescheduled yet again for February 16, 1857, but the believers were again disappointed. Even this late, the average believer still had three or four head of livestock alive. The repeated failure of the prophecies could only mean that the Xhosa had failed to fulfill the necessary requirement of killing every last head of cattle. Now, they finally began to complete the killing process. Not only cattle were slaughtered, but also chickens and goats. Any viable means of sustenance had to be destroyed. Any cattle that might have escaped earlier killing were now slaughtered for food.

Serious famine began in late spring of 1857. All the food was gone. The starving population broke into stables and ate horse food. They gathered bones that had lay bleaching in the sun for years and tried to make soup. They ate grass. Maddened by hunger, some resorted to cannibalism. Weakened by starvation, family members often had to lay and watch dogs devour the corpses of their spouses and children. Those who did not die directly from hunger fell prey to disease. To the end, true believers never renounced their faith. They simply starved to death, blaming the failure of the prophecy on the doubts of non-believers.

By the end of 1858, the Xhosa population had dropped from 105,000 to 26,000. Forty to fifty-thousand people starved to death, and the rest migrated. With Xhosa civilization destroyed, the land was cleared for white settlement. The British found that those Xhosa who survived proved to be docile and useful servants. What the British Empire had been unable to accomplish in more than fifty years of aggressive colonialism, the Xhosa did to themselves in less than two years.

Western civilization now stands on the brink of repeating the experience of the Xhosa. Since the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the late eighteenth century, Europe and North America have enjoyed the greatest prosperity ever known on earth. Life expectancy has doubled. In a little more than two hundred years, every objective measure of human welfare has increased more than in all of previous human history.

But Western Civilization is coasting on an impetus provided by our ancestors. There is scarcely anyone alive in Europe or America today who believes in the superiority of Western society. Guilt and shame hang around our necks like millstones, dragging our emasculated culture to the verge of self-immolation. Whatever faults the British Empire-builders may have had, they were certain of themselves.

Our forefathers built a technological civilization based on energy provided by carbon-based fossil fuels. Without the inexpensive and reliable energy provided by coal, oil, and gas, our civilization would quickly collapse. The prophets of global warming now want us to do precisely that.

Like the prophet Mhlakaza, Al Gore promises that if we stop using carbon-based energy, new energy technologies will magically appear. The laws of physics and chemistry will be repealed by political will power. We will achieve prosperity by destroying the very means by which prosperity is created.

While Western Civilization sits confused, crippled with self-doubt and guilt, the Chinese are rapidly building an energy-intensive technological civilization. They have 2,000 coal-fired power plants, and are currently constructing new ones at the rate of one a week. In China, more people believe in free-market economics than in the US. Our Asian friends are about to be nominated by history as the new torchbearers of human progress.

May 13, 2009

David Deming is associate professor of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma.

Copyright © 2009 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

Article here.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Unionized brothel

Tonight's labor relations humor:
A dedicated Teamsters union worker was attending a convention in Las Vegas and decided to check out the local brothels. When he got to the first one, he asked the Madam, "Is this a union house?"

"No," she replied, "I’m sorry, it isn’t."

"Well, if I pay you $100, what cut do the girls get?"

"The house gets $80 and the girls get $20," she answered.

Offended at such unfair dealings, the union man stomped off down the street in search of a more equitable, hopefully unionized shop. His search continued until finally he reached a brothel where the Madam responded, "Why yes sir, this is a union house. We observe all union rules."

The man asked, "And if I pay you $100, what cut do the girls get?"

"The girls get $80 and the house gets $20," the Madam replied. "Now, that’s more like it!" the union man said.

He handed the Madam $100, looked around the room, and pointed to a stunningly attractive green-eyed blonde.

"I’d like her," he said.

"I’m sure you would, sir," said the Madam. Then she gestured to a 92-year old woman in the corner, "but Ethel here has 67 years seniority and according to our union work rules, she’s next."


Gun Rights News Roundup

Articles, news stories, and op-eds of interest to gun owners:

More whimpering from the New York Times about restaurant carry:
Beyond farce in statehouse politics — think New York, Illinois and South Carolina — there can be danger. Think Tennessee, where the Legislature just overrode the governor’s veto and rescinded a law barring patrons from carrying handguns in bars and restaurants.

Once again, politicians caved to the gun lobby’s “right to carry” agenda which insists that there is no place — campuses, workplaces, churches — that should be off limits to guns.

We fear that Gov. Phil Bredesen, a gun owner and hunter, was right when he warned his state: “It’s an invitation to a disaster.”

The governor found no safety in provisions that ban the licensed gun toters from drinking alcohol — is it the honor system or will bartenders do a search? — and allow bar and restaurant owners to opt out by posting a notice prohibiting guns. Unfortunately, there is no requirement for owners to post warnings of the dangers inside at the doorways of gun-friendly places.

The pity is that more than 30 states have similar laws. Travelers might want to check for sensible places to eat, unless they really believe the gun lobby’s propaganda that an armed diner at the next table offers an extra comfort. ...

Comment: What a pathetic, fearful existence it must be to be a New York Times editorialist. Baaa, Baaa, little sheeple.

[Arizona] House OKs guns in parking lots bill:
After lengthy debate, the House passed a bill on Friday that would prohibit property and business owners from banning guns in their parking areas, if the guns are locked in privately owned vehicles.

Legislators also amended Senate Bill 1168 to exempt certain lots. Parking areas that are fenced or guarded, or which provide temporary and secure gun storage, would still be able to prohibit firearms.

[Arizona] Senate passes campus carry bill:
PHOENIX -- Saying it will make people safer, state senators voted Friday to let people with concealed weapons permits carry them onto college and university campuses where they are now forbidden.

The 15-6 vote on the provision in HB 2439 came after backers said they believe that having people who are licensed by the state to have weapons should cut down on the number of massacres that occur on campuses. And Sen. John Huppenthal, R-Chandler, said that has happened in Arizona. He did not refer by name to the 2002 incident at the University of Arizona where three instructors at the College of Nursing were slain by student Robert S. Flores Jr. who then turned the gun on himself.

But Huppenthal said the evidence shows that it makes sense, from a safety standpoint, to let people carry guns.

"The states that have concealed carry (laws) have statistically significant smaller mass shootings," he said. ...

[Tennessee] Murfreesboro defers vote on parks gun ban:
Concerned with how a blanket ban on guns in parks will affect the city, Murfreesboro City Council chose to defer voting on the issue Thursday night.

“I’d like to wait to hear from the TSSAA and see if this would affect Spring Fling,” Mayor Tommy Bragg said.

City Manager Roger Haley proposed a city-wide ban in municipal parks after Tennessee’s General Assembly passed a law that allows carrying guns in state and city parks legal, as along as the individual has a carry permit.

“It’s not our intention to interfere with the Second Amendment rights of the people … (but) to provide for a safe environment for the children and public use our park facilities,” Haley said last night.

Councilman Toby Gilley disagreed in full, saying he wholly supports the new state law. Gilley was the only councilman who voted against deferring the measure.

Haley’s suggestion to outlaw guns in city parks backed is by Murfreesboro Police Chief Glenn Chrisman, Parks and Recreation Department Director Lanny Goodwin and Old Fort Golf Director Tracy Wilkins. ...

[New Jersey] Senate passes "one gun a month" law:
After literally years of effort, the powerful anti-gun forces in New Jersey politics have finally succeeded in passing a "one handgun per month" bill, which now heads to Governor Corzine's desk for his inevitable signature.
A measure sponsored by Senators Sandra Bolden Cunningham and Teresa Ruiz, which would prohibit the sale and purchase of more than one handgun per person, within a 30-day period was approved today by the full Senate by a vote of 21 to 15.

Unless I'm missing a state or two somewhere, that makes New Jersey the fourth to pass this kind of law (or fifth, if you count South Carolina, which repealed its version of the law in 2004, after finding it to be ineffective at reducing violent crime). The others that still have such a law are California (no surprise there, with it's Brady Campaign Number One Tyranny Rating), Maryland (again, no surprise, with Maryland ranking almost as "high" as California), and Virginia. The fact that Virginia is one of only three (soon to be four) states with such a law is probably a surprise to some. Virginia, after all, is blamed for having "lax gun laws" that contribute toward it being part of the so-called "Iron Pipeline" of guns that end up illegally in places like New York City. ...

Nevada will no longer recognize Utah of Florida permits

From NRA-ILA, a heads up for those with Utah or Florida CCWs:
Effective, July 1, Nevada will no longer recognize Right-to-Carry permits from Utah or Florida. They have, however, added Ohio and West Virginia as recognized states.

Each May, the Nevada Department of Public Safety conducts an audit of states and their Right-to-Carry laws for the purpose of determining which states it will recognize.

The Nevada DPS dropped Utah because it does not have a live fire requirement, which is a part of Nevada's training requirements. When the Nevada DPS first began its state by state audit of Right-to-Carry laws in 2007, DPS admitted to NRA representatives that they overlooked the live fire training requirement. After further review, they determined that Utah wasn't similar enough to keep it on the list of recognized states.

Florida will no longer be recognized because its permits are now valid for seven years instead of five. ...

Article here. I'm not sure why Florida's seven year versus five year permit validity would make a difference, although I suspect that the Nevada DPS was probably looking for any reason to limit the number of recognized permits.

GOA: Eight Republicans Help Confirm Hard-Core Gun Banner

From Gunowners of America:
"Too much work [was] left undone. After a few sleepless nights, I wrote for myself a list of issues on which I needed to do more in the years ahead. One of those issues was global regulation of small arms." -- Harold Hongju Koh (2001)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Imagine that. The Senate confirmed this week, by a vote of 62-35, a gun banner who stays up at night thinking of ways to impose more gun control upon American citizens.

Harold Koh is that gun grabber, and he was confirmed yesterday to be the Legal Adviser at the State Department.

On Wednesday, Senate Republicans attempted to kill the Koh nomination with a filibuster -- until eight of them crossed the aisle to help Democrats confirm Koh.

The back-stabbing Senators are: Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Mel Martinez (R-FL), Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and George Voinovich (R-OH). [emphasis added]

Once the filibuster was thwarted, Koh's nomination passed easily. The vote on final passage can be viewed here.

Koh is eager to assume his post at the State Department, having lamented that there is only so much that can be done from the outside to push gun control treaties, and that ultimately we need people like him in positions of power. The chief lawyer for the State Department is just the position someone like him needs to push more gun control through international treaties. ...

More here. Remember those names come election time.

The Revenge of the Jimmy Carter voter

It took thirty years, but it looks like these Californians have finally exacted their revenge with their election of The One We've Been Waiting For:

[Video via Transylvania Phoenix]

Another Second Amendment petition before the Supremes

From SCOTUSblog, on the Maloney case out of New York, dealing with whether the Second Amendment applies to the states, and if so, whether nunchaku are covered "arms" within the meaning of the Second Amendment:
A Port Washington, N.Y., lawyer and martial arts enthusiast asked the Supreme Court on Friday to use his case to expand the coverage of the Second Amendment’s “right to keep and bear arms” so that it applies to restrict or bar state and local laws, as well as those at the federal level.

James M. Maloney’s petition in Maloney v. Rice is the third case on that point to reach the Court in recent weeks. This one, however, seeks to challenge a ruling that has gained a special prominence because one of the judges on the Second Circuit Court panel deciding against Maloney’s claim was Circuit Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s choice for a soon-to-be-open Supreme Court vacancy.
The first question asks simply whether the Second Amendment’s guarantee of an individual right (as recognized by the Supreme Court last year in Distict of Columbia v. Heller) applies to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. The second question asks whether the individual right qualifies as “a privilege of immunity” of individuals, and thus applies to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privilege and Immunities Clause.

Maloney’s lawyers, in the new petition, urged the Supreme Court to agree to hear this new case along with the two previously filed to challenge a handgun ban in Chicago.

Hearing all three together as a unit, the petition argued, “would put before the Court the fullest possible range of factual and legal settings in which to consider and resolve the burning issue of Second Amendment incorporation.” ...

Article here. Read the petition here, and the petition's appendix here. Imagine that in New York, two pieces of wood connected by a string or chain is considered so ultra lethal that even mere possession of such a thing by residents of that state, in their own homes, is a crime.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Tonight's you-know-what's-coming, but-will-watch-the-video-anyway amateur lumberjack video -- (not so much) fun with chainsaws:

Urban survival

Fox News recently did a segment on urban survivalists:

Note the (mostly) lack of discussion of the importance of weapons until the very end, until Hannity brings it up. Weapons and the knowledge and will to use them are an integral part of survival, urban or otherwise. Certainly only a part, but an essential part nevertheless.

Note also the typical clueless reporter, who herself is admittedly unprepared, even apparently on a very basic level. Hopefully she and others will at least start the process of basic preparedness. Otherwise, when a large-scale emergency strikes, these sheep-like folks will become lambs for the slaughter, unable to take care of themselves or provide even the most basic necessities for their own survival. No doubt with lots of plaintive bleating for others to help them.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Toy science

Tonight's superconducting science lesson:

Gun Rights News Roundup

Articles, news stories, and op-eds of interest to gun owners:

Former NRA president Sandy Froman on Judge Sotomayor:
Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Barack Obama’s first nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, has a narrow view of the Second Amendment that contradicts the Court’s landmark decision in District of Columbia v. Heller. A heated debate has started in the U.S. Senate over her opposition to the right to keep and bear arms. This issue, which has decided the fate of presidential elections, could also decide her nomination. Gun owners, and especially the members of the National Rifle Association, must aggressively oppose Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.

On June 24, senators began speaking on the floor of the Senate expressing grave concerns over Judge Sotomayor’s Second Amendment record. Senator Jeff Sessions R-AL, the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, pointed out that although her record on the issue is “fairly scant,” she has twice stated that the Second Amendment is not a fundamental right. Senator Sessions also noted that in Second Amendment and other constitutional cases, Sotomayor’s analysis of important constitutional issues has been lacking suggesting “a troubling tendency to avoid or casually dismiss difficult Constitutional issues of exceptional importance.” Sotomayor’s view on the Second Amendment clearly reflects an extreme anti-gun philosophy, and some Democrat senators from pro-gun states are justifiably nervous. ...

Howard Nemerov rebuts a reader's comment:
... In his rush to derogate without performing his own analysis of the data, two points were neatly avoided:

· The comment distracts from the fact that, “significant” or not, there is a negative correlation between Brady grades and violent crime, personal freedom, etc. In simpler words, the higher Brady regards a state, the more dangerous it is to live in for law-abiding citizens, and they suffer more at the hands of the criminals and also their own government.

· None of the charts show a positive correlation. In other words, there is no data to support the idea that Brady may at least be partially correct.

I left a response that I would provide Excel data and formulae, but no response yet. While this is not surprising–my book includes a positive comment from Peter Hamm, Communications Director of the Brady Campaign, praising me as a “very good writer” while challenging none of my datasets or conclusions–we will re-examine the data in the near future to ensure that those final nails are firmly secured in the Brady Campaign’s coffin. ...

On D.C. and Chicago gun controls:
... Washington D.C. and Chicago have two things in common: the most restrictive gun laws in the country, and a near-"leadership" position in terms of murder rates. Whether or not one believes that the strict gun laws in those cities actually contribute to the violent crime, it would certainly be difficult to argue that they do much to reduce it.

Groups like the CSGV argue instead that those restrictive gun laws would be effective, if only similar laws were put in place everywhere else. In other words, violence would be reduced if the rest of the country would enact the kinds of laws that have been in place for decades in some of the most violent cities in the U.S. Yeah--that makes sense. ...

Republicans challenge Sotomayor on gun rights:
WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans vowed Wednesday to press Sonia Sotomayor on gun rights -- a politically divisive issue that they hope could potentially weaken Democratic support for the Supreme Court nominee.

While Republicans are a pronounced minority in both the House and Senate, they have used the gun issue to their advantage to divert the Democratic legislative agenda, forcing members from moderate and conservative states to take politically risky votes on gun provisions.

Sotomayor's judicial record appears to provide the GOP with another opportunity to bring the issue to light. Since the Supreme Court decided in a landmark case last year that restrictive gun laws in Washington, D.C. -- a federal entity -- infringed on a constitutionally protected right to own a handgun, the legal debate over guns has shifted to whether that ruling also affected handgun-control laws in individual states.

Earlier this year, Sotomayor was part of a three-judge panel on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York that held the Second Amendment didn't apply to the states. At a press conference Wednesday, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and other senators said they were concerned about the decision and pledged to grill Sotomayor about it at her confirmation hearings, which begin July 13.

The panel's reasoning, Sessions said, "would eviscerate the Second Amendment in many parts of the country." ...

Dave Workman says anti-gunners still in denial over Heller ruling:

Has it really been one year since the United States Supreme Court in a disappointingly narrow 5-4 ruling struck down the Washington, D.C. handgun ban and affirmed once and for all that the Second Amendment protects an individual civil right to own a gun that has no connection with militia service?

For some, it appears the ruling never happened at all. Even now, gun prohibitionists are loathe to acknowledge that they were wrong about the Second Amendment; that their own hostility toward the private ownership of firearms had led them to conclude – largely by misinterpreting and deliberately misrepresenting the high court’s 1939 ruling in U.S. v. Miller – that the Second Amendment protected only some mythical “collective” right of the states to organize a militia. My colleague, Daniel White, offers an analysis of the ruling here.
The Second Amendment is not a constitutional obstacle to the regulation of firearms, since the amendment by its own terms deals with the rights of the state militia, not individuals.” - Edward M. Kennedy, June 15, 2009

As Justice Antonin Scalia so wisely noted in his majority opinion, “Miller did not hold that and cannot possibly be read to have held that.” ...

[Michigan] Open carry picnic planned:
Gun advocates have a bang-up idea for a picnic in Traverse City.

A group called Michigan Open Carry Inc. plans to host a gun-toting picnic at Sunset Park on Saturday.

It's part of the nonprofit's ongoing effort to promote the legal, open carry of firearms and the Second Amendment to the Constitution. ...

[Arizona] House panel advances, expands restaurant carry bill:
PHOENIX -- State lawmakers agreed Thursday to let some gun owners bring their weapons into restaurants -- but not before they expanded the measure to also apply to bars.

That change in SB 1113 came not at the behest of the National Rifle Association which crafted the bill but after a push from the organization that represents bar owners. Lobbyist Don Isaacson of the Arizona Licensed Beverage Association said there is no sharp definition in state law that spells out what is a restaurant and what is a bar. But Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, noted that NRA lobbyist Todd Rathner has argued all along that the legislation is aimed at providing relief to gun owners who simply wanted to get a bite to eat and did not want to leave their loaded weapons in their vehicles. She called extending that right to places where food isn't served "a dangerous cocktail."

Sinema acknowledged that the law would preclude anyone who is armed from also drinking. ...

Op-ed: Terror list not the right tool for curtailing gun sales:
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg has a point, to a point.

The Democratic lawmaker from New Jersey says it “simply defies common sense” to allow gun sales to people suspected of being terrorists. He’s right – until he proposes that the government’s terrorism watch list should be the deciding factor of whether someone can buy a gun.

At Lautenberg’s request, the Government Accountability Office recently studied firearms and explosives purchases among terror watch list members. It found that people on the list tried to buy guns 963 times in the last five years, and nine out of 10 times they were successful because nothing else in their background disqualified them.

That sounds outrageous, but consider this: The FBI refused to divulge details about who was able to buy a gun and what their connection to terrorism might be. That itself makes conclusions rather hard to draw.

Then there’s the watch list itself, which has a number of problems, the first being its size. At last count, the list had more than 1 million names representing 400,000 people, and it’s growing quickly. Just four years ago, the list stood at one-fourth of its current size.

It’s also rife with errors. While much of the criticism can be attributed to cases of mistaken identity – such “false positives” have snared the likes of Sen. Ted Kennedy and members of the Federal Air Marshal Service – the list itself is also suspect.

Just last month, the Justice Department inspector general found that the list included the names of at least 24,000 people who may not have belonged on it. Other names that should have been on the list weren’t.

But the most significant concern is the secrecy surrounding such intelligence tools, which doesn’t necessarily make much room for due process.

A person may never find out that a government agency nominated them for the list, and even if he or she does, getting off can prove impossible. ...


From Tim Case, writing at LewRockwell.com:
... It was November 22, 1963 just before 10:30 AM Pacific Standard time; I was sitting in my English literature class, when those words were forever burned into my mind. I had no more finished reading Dickens’ opening paragraph when the school loud-speaker system came on with the disquieting news that "President John F. Kennedy has been shot in Dallas, Texas."

Within seconds many of the young ladies in the class began to quietly sob while an otherwise stunned hush fell over the class. Our literature teacher then gave permission for the girls to leave the class but told the males to stay put he had something he wanted to tell us.

As the last girl left the room, the door to the classroom was closed and locked. Turning to those of us remaining; that wise old sage in a controlled but stern voice said: "Gentleman, your world is going to change. I know most of you hunt. I doubt there is anyone here that doesn’t own a firearm. The day is coming when the Federal government is going to try and disarm you. I won’t see it, but you will. Mark my words and be on your guard, the Second Amendment is the only thing standing between you and the suffering you can’t comprehend. Class is dismissed."

What experiences had brought that literature teacher to make those proclamations, I’ll never know.

Of course, we didn’t see any immediate change in our lives. Groups of us still made the weekly rounds to the Sears’, Wards’, and Penny’s stores to look at and drool over the racks of firearms. We still bought our ammunition from these stores or the local gun shops even though none of us had reached our fourteenth birthday. No one gave us a second look when a troop of us walked through town carrying our weapons on the way down to the river to plink at tin cans or to go bird hunting.

If we were approached by a police officer, there was no fear. He was one of us and would tell us to be careful or warn us of something he had seen that we needed to know to stay out of harm's way. When bird hunting he would ask us to let him know where the birds were or to tell us where he had had some success during his hunts.

Life really hadn’t changed but we often talked about what that literature teacher had said and we wondered what was going to happen.

It was as Dickens’ had said, "the best of times…" while the worst times were not having the fifty-five cents it took to buy a box of 22 long rifle shells to plink with or the ninety-nine cents for a box of shotgun shells during bird season.

My, how times have changed! What we didn’t understand, in those early years, is that the government is an entity which stays benign only so long as those who make up its character are so disposed. The very soul, mind, heart and action of any government are a direct expression of the morality, or lack of it, by those who make up the government and those who elect them. ...

Read the rest here. I particularly liked this passage:
... A friend’s correspondence concerning what has occurred over the last 50 plus years seems more than appropriate. "I suspect that some of us recognize that with the term ‘sheeple,’ we herd up. We've got a shepherd, big government. That government even has dogs. ‘Don't worry, they're not there to attack you (even though they ... look like wolves), they're only to protect you from the wolves.’ And we buy that. Of course the shepherd is only willing to expend his time and resources because he can fleece us and maybe even sell us as mutton!"

A good point to remember: the wolf and the shepherd both seek to use the sheep for their own purposes. The lesson: Don't be a sheep.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Big Piano

Tonight musical interlude, playing the floor piano at FAO Schwartz in NYC:

On open carry

John Pierce on why the open carry movement is important for gun rights:
... However, the question that we, as pro-gun activists, should be asking is "What are the benefits to the gun-rights movement of my carrying openly?"

After all, we are bombarded, almost daily, by a variety of subtle and not-so-subtle anti-gun media messages. And it is amazing how effective this bombardment is, even for those of us with deeply held pro-gun beliefs. It is a dangerous mistake to assume that societal influences do not make an impact. They do! The number of pro-gun, pro-concealed-carry advocates who will chastise open carriers is a prime example of the fact that even we can be influenced to treat firearms as something "somehow unwholesome."

At the risk of sounding like a sociology professor, what we are dealing with is a general populace that has had their perceptions about firearms turned into prejudices by societal pressures. Most people are not anti-gun in the traditional sense of the word, but they can be counted upon to swallow whatever drivel is presented by the true anti-gun movement.

Make no mistake about it; if we do nothing to counter these negative stereotypes about gun owners, then our rights will be slowly taken away. Open carry is a very easy way to begin to counter these stereotypes.

To put it simply, open carry forces those you meet, be they friends, relatives or neighbors, to reconcile their preconceived notions and prejudices regarding firearms with the fact that you are exercising this right in a safe and responsible manner.

Prejudice thrives on ignorance. By openly carrying, we are showing the public what gun owners are really like. More importantly, we are showing them who we are. I cannot tell you the number of times that I have heard people say that they do not know any gun owners. They do, of course, but they are not aware that they do. This allows them to buy into the idea that gun owners are different; and people fear and distrust that which is different. Seeing you or I openly carrying a firearm forces them to confront the object of their prejudice.

Remember ... we are not just a collection of people who are interested solely in self-defense and personal protection tactics. We are also political activists! The anti's understand this and factor it into all of their public contact, but often we do not. ...

Article here. One point I would quibble with is the idea, mentioned earlier in the article, that concealed carry is "tactically superior" to open carry. Sometimes, sometimes not. It depends. Both open and concealed carry have their advantages and disadvantages. Open carry may be "tactically superior" when you're out hiking, for example, where concealed carry may be less suitable both from a comfort and a accessibility standpoint. In addition, you are probably less likely to be selected as a target if you're both confident and visibly armed.

Certainly, in urban environments especially, concealed carry has much to recommend it from a tactical standpoint. But as the article notes, concealed carry does nothing to dispel negative stereotypes about gun owners. Open carry makes a statement; concealed carry does not.

Quote of the day

From the insightful Maxed Out Mama, analyzing the latest economic numbers:
... Thus, the major questions facing the US economy are based on government policy initiatives, which is rarely a positive factor in forecasting. Barring massive investment in nuclear energy and further hydropower projects (the scope for which is limited in the US), there is no way to obtain "green" energy that is not considerably more expensive than current energy sources. This will cut US disposable personal and business incomes significantly, and strike another blow at domestic manufacturing. There is no way around it. All countries which have heavily invested in "green" power have cut jobs, raised consumer energy costs, and impaired their own economies. We will not be any different.

Further, any long-term shift to electric vehicles would certainly rely on steady, reliable and cheap generation of electricity. I experienced the oddest sensation of sheer incredulity when watching the Obama press conference this week. Economically, the Obama administration's plan amounts to finding an iceberg and running the ship of state into it, apparently on the theory that we are unsinkable. [emphasis added]...

Read her post here. You can be reasonably certain that if we do hit that iceberg, Obama and the political elites will be the first on the lifeboats. As you may recall, the Titanic didn't have enough lifeboats for everyone (she only carried lifeboats for about half of the people on board), so the rest of us will be left to go down with the ship.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Tonight's poetry humor:

Before I lay me down to sleep,
I pray for a man who’s not a creep,
One who’s handsome, smart and strong.
One who loves to listen long,
One who thinks before he speaks,
One who’ll call, not wait for weeks.
I pray he’s rich and self-employed,
And when I spend, won’t be annoyed.
Pull out my chair and hold my hand.
Massage my feet and help me stand.
Oh send a king to make me queen.
A man who loves to cook and clean.
I pray this man will love no other.
And relish visits with my mother.


I pray for a deaf-mute gymnast nymphomaniac with
big boobs who owns a bar on a golf course,
and loves to send me fishing and drinking. This
doesn’t rhyme and I don’t care.


Gun Rights News Roundup

Articles, news stories, and op-eds of interest to gun owners:

CNN's reporters need some education:
Should there be a background check for national reporters?

One wonders. On June 21, CNN’s Anderson Cooper aired a special report for CBS’ “60 Minutes.” In this report, Cooper repeated the tired, discredited, blatantly incorrect idea that 90% of Mexican drug cartels’ arms supply comes from the United States. In addition, Cooper showed some interesting B-roll footage of seized weapon, some of which clearly cannot be bought on the civilian market.

Initially, one might note the M16A1, M16A2, M4, and what appears to be a standard NATO-issue M60.

There are, however, semi-automatic civilian versions of some of these weapons available on the American market which look quite similar – without a closer look at the weapons, it is impossible to tell. That being said, there also appears to be a 40mm M203 grenade launcher attachment on one of the weapons. That, dear reader, is unavailable on the U.S. market – even in Texas. ...

More government, more crime (graphs available at link):
In the previous article, we examined how states considered the best by the Brady Campaign also have higher police officer density (more cops per 100,000 population). However, these states also have the highest violent crime and murder rates.

Another article examined how Brady’s favored states had the lowest levels of firearms ownership. For review purposes, the following charts show that as gun ownership levels increase, Brady scores, violent crime, and murder rates all decrease.
Not surprisingly, as Brady scores increase, a state’s Overall Freedom score decreased. This means that Brady’s “best” states really are best only if you work for the government. ...

[California] Southern California churches advocate concealed carry in church:
The genius of concealed carry of handguns is that would-be murders remain uncertain as to who is armed and who isn't. This is true for everyone interested in being as safe as they can be from future violence, because it comes to the realization of specific unalterable realities: you're on your own.

This week some Southern California Church Leaders came to that very same conclusion, and took up a position advocating not only a very discreet security presence of professionals, but also took the advice of their consultants and adopted the policy of advocating concealed carry of handguns among the congregation.

Realities are the core of solving the problem of church violence, and having the stomach to face those realities and to meet them. For too long, employers, churches, schools and others have said many different ways that they are sad to see things have to come to this, but this is a trap which serves not the people, but the killers. Fifteen Southern California church leaders refused to fall into that trap, and they sought out expert advice. It involves concealed carry of handguns in church, and they took it. Yes, concealed carry of handguns by the members who come to worship. ...

Comment: The only problem, of course, is that concealed carry permits are quite difficult for "ordinary" citizens to acquire in Southern California.

Debunking the 90% lie:
Less than 24 percent of the guns seized last year by Mexican authorities, mostly from drug trafficking organizations, were traced back to the United States, according to data released in a report by the Government Accountability Office.

Of the 30,000 guns seized by Mexican authorities in 2008, only 7,200, or approximately 24 percent, were submitted to the U.S. for tracing. Of those 7,200 firearms, 6,700 (or about 22 percent) were actually determined to have originated in the United States.

The country of origin for the remaining 22,800 guns seized by Mexico that were not traced cannot be known. ...

Why do liberals bleed?

So asks a psychotherapist unfortunate enough to live in that bastion of the far Left, Berkeley, California. Writing at the American Thinker, she even ponders the idea of gun ownership. An excerpt:
I've been thinking about learning how to fire a gun, maybe even buying one. Now if you are a lifelong conservative, Red State dweller, and NRA member, you might be thinking, "Big yawn. What's next? She'll be telling us what she had for breakfast?"

So let me try to convey to you the enormousness, the Alice in Wonderland quality of my even posing the question, something I've never, ever considered in my life. No one I know owns a gun. I've never seen a gun (well on a holster of a police officer but I never wanted to get up close and personal with it). I have given lots of good money over the years for gun control. Learning to fire a gun seems as ludicrous as deciding to take up brain surgery.

But, I am rethinking absolutely everything. There is not a single thing that I believed, that I held absolute and holy, that is not up for grabs. My brain is in a tizzy 24/7 and I don't know if up is down, or if east is west.

And the thought about a gun just came to me last week when I was listening to talk radio. A caller related how an armed citizen in the South stopped a take over robbery in a fast food restaurant. A light went on in my head. Suddenly I realized that the Red States may be on to something: the police are strongly supported, the citizens have guns, and, therefore, the gangsters may be a little reluctant to take over the local Burger King.

Contrast that to the Blue States where few liberals own guns and the police are being emasculated. You may have heard of the horrendous case in Oakland where four cops were killed by a known felon, on a parole violation for child rape. But the powers that be in Oakland sent out the message to the police to make nice and not scare the populace, so the officers never drew their guns when approaching this felon. (Anyone else notice how the Left is slowly but surely disarming the police and military, situation-by-situation?) When I expressed my heartfelt grief to a friend about the deaths of these brave officers, he said, "The man who shot them was a human being too." ...

Read the rest here. Unfortunately, even if she were to acquire a gun, getting a carry permit in Berkeley will likely be quite difficult (or more likely, impossible) for an "ordinary" citizen. But at least the lightbulb appears to have been turned on for her on the morally righteous nature of armed self-defense. Baby steps, baby steps.

[Via Thoughts Aloud]

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Spiderman's brother

Tonight's human agility video, featuring gymnast Damien Walters:

Impressive. I got tired just looking at the video.

Gun registration and the Belgian Corporal

On the dangers of gun registration, from an article by the late Neal Knox, via Paul Valone's Examiner column:
By Neal Knox

In the summer of 1955, I was a young Texas National Guard sergeant on active duty at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. A corporal in my squad was a Belgian-American named Charles DeNaer. An old man as far as most of us were concerned, being well over thirty, Charley commanded a certain amount of our respect, for not only was he older than the rest of us, he had lived in Belgium when the Germans rolled across the low countries by-passing the Maginot Line on their way into France. He had seen war.

One soft Oklahoma afternoon, sitting on a bunk in the half-light of an old wooden barracks, he told me his story.

In Charley's little town in Belgium, there lived an old man, a gunsmith. The old man was friendly with the kids and welcomed them to his shop. He had once been an armorer to the king of Belgium, according to Charley. He told us of the wonderful guns the old man had crafted, using only hand tools. There were double shotguns and fine rifles with beautiful hardwood stocks and gorgeous engraving and inlay work. Charley liked the old man and enjoyed looking at the guns. He often did chores around the shop.

One day the gunsmith sent for Charley. Arriving at the shop, Charley found the old man carefully oiling and wrapping guns in oilcloth and paper. Charley asked what he was doing. The old smith gestured to a piece of paper on the workbench and said that an order had come to him to register all of his guns. He was to list every gun with a description on a piece of paper and then to send the paper to the government. The old man had no intention of complying with the registration law and had summoned Charley to help him bury the guns at a railroad crossing. Charley asked why he didn't simply comply with the order and keep the guns. The old man, with tears in his eyes, replied to the boy, "If I register them, they will be taken away. "

A year or two later, the blitzkrieg rolled across the Low Countries. One day not long after, the war arrived in Charley's town. A squad of German SS troops banged on the door of a house that Charley knew well. The family had twin sons about Charley's age. The twins were his best friends. The officer displayed a paper describing a Luger pistol, a relic of the Great War, and ordered the father to produce it. That old gun had been lost, stolen, or misplaced sometime after it had been registered, the father explained. He did not know where it was.

The officer told the father that he had exactly fifteen minutes to produce the weapon. The family turned their home upside down. No pistol. They returned to the SS officer empty-handed.

The officer gave an order and soldiers herded the family outside while other troops called the entire town out into the square. There on the town square the SS machine-gunned the entire family -- father, mother, Charley's two friends, their older brother and a baby sister.

I will never forget the moment. We were sitting on the bunk on a Saturday afternoon and Charley was crying, huge tears rolling down his cheeks, making silver dollar size splotches on the dusty barracks floor. That was my conversion from a casual gun owner to one who was determined to prevent such a thing from ever happening in America.

Later that summer, when I had returned home I went to the president of the West Texas Sportsman's Club in Abilene and told him I wanted to be on the legislative committee. He replied that we didn't have a legislative committee, but that I was now the chairman.

I, who had never given a thought to gun laws, have been eyeball deep in the "gun control" fight ever since.

As the newly-minted Legislative Committee Chairman of the West Texas Sportsman's club, I set myself to some research. I had never before read the Second Amendment, but now noticed that The American Rifleman published it in its masthead. I was delighted to learn that the Constitution prohibited laws like Belgium's. There was no battle to fight, I thought. We were covered. I have since learned that the words about a militia and the right of the people to keep and bear, while important, mean as much to a determined enemy as the Maginot line did to Hitler.

Rather than depend on the Second Amendment to protect our gun rights, I've learned that we must protect the Second Amendment and the precious rights it recognizes.


Permission to reprint or post this article in its entirety is hereby granted provided this credit is included. Text is available at www.FirearmsCoalition.org. To receive The Firearms Coalition's bi-monthly newsletter, The Knox Hard Corps Report, write to PO Box 3313, Manassas, VA 20108.

Gun registration is a necessary prelude and precondition for effective gun confiscation. That's why it's important to educate all gun owners, particularly new gun owners, on why they must resist gun registration schemes.

Gunning for our rights

Article by Clark Neily, one of the attorneys involved in last year's historic Heller case, writing at Human Events on the likely next Second Amendment battle at the Supreme Court - the issue of "incorporation":
When the U.S. Supreme Court convenes for its next term in October, it will have an opportunity to correct one of the most glaring examples of judicial activism in our nation’s history -- when justices placed their personal preferences above the law. Specifically, the Court will have the chance to reconsider an 1873 decision that is as ugly in name as it is in effect. The Slaughter House Cases essentially deleted from the Constitution a key bulwark of liberty and helped create the conditions for the modern welfare state.

The opportunity to correct that mistake arises in the latest battle over gun rights. Last summer, the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller held for the first time that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. But because Washington, D.C. is a “federal enclave,” that decision only applied to the federal government. The question now is whether the right to keep and bear arms should apply to state and local governments as well. One federal appellate court recently said yes, but two said no. The Supreme Court has been asked to resolve that conflict.
The Fourteenth Amendment had an equally important but even more challenging job -- stamping out a culture of lawlessness and oppression that victimized not just blacks, but people of all races. Because that culture featured a complex web of laws, policies, and customs, the Fourteenth Amendment was couched in necessarily broad terms. It forbade the states from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; from denying any person equal protection of the laws; and from abridging “the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”

The words “privileges” and “immunities” may be unfamiliar today, but 19th-century Americans used them interchangeably with a term modern Americans know very well: rights. And two rights the Fourteenth Amendment was clearly intended to protect were armed self-defense and economic liberty, which includes the rights to own property, enter into contracts and earn an honest living. Officials throughout the South systematically violated those rights to keep newly freed blacks and white abolitionists in a state of poverty and terror. The whole point of amending the Constitution was to end those abuses.

But the ink was scarcely dry on the Fourteenth Amendment when five justices of the Supreme Court defied the popular will and recast the Privileges or Immunities Clause as little more than a rhetorical flourish. In the Slaughter House Cases, the Court rejected a Fourteenth Amendment challenge to a corrupt, government-chartered monopoly on the sale and butchering of livestock in New Orleans on the grounds that the right to earn a living was not a privilege or immunity of American citizenship. There followed a series of cases in which the court held that basic civil liberties like free speech, assembly, and the right to keep and bear arms were not among Americans’ “privileges or immunities” either.

The Court began trying to fix its obvious mistake around the turn of the century, but it did so in a piecemeal way that fails to protect key liberties while exposing the Court to credible charges of activism for inventing other rights out of whole cloth. That approach is called “incorporation,” and it requires the Supreme Court to decide, on a case-by-case basis, which rights in the Bill of Rights are important enough to be protected not only against the federal government, but against state governments as well. But that approach has significant problems, including allowing courts to designate rights like property ownership and occupational freedom (and perhaps even the right to keep and bear arms) as insufficiently “fundamental” to merit protection from state governments. ...

Article here. As Mr. Neily notes, the Supremes could use the Second Amendment issue to take a more logical and holistic approach to the Fourteenth Amendment's purpose, rather than the current piecemeal "selective incorporation" approach. Indeed, Justice Scalia may have suggested as much in his Heller opinion.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

People of influence

Tonight's biography lesson, an interactive painting of influential people throughout the ages. Place your cursor over a figure to see the person's name, click to go to that person's Wikipedia entry.

Click on the image below to go to the site:

(Discussing the Divine Comedy with Dante. Painting by Dai Dudu, Li Tiezi, and Zhang An, 2006, oil on canvas.)

ATF harrassing gun owners in border states?

NRA-ILA has recently received several calls from NRA members in border states who have been visited or called by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. In some cases, agents have asked to enter these people's homes, and requested serial numbers of all firearms the members possess.

In each case, the agents were making inquiries based on the number of firearms these NRA members had recently bought, and in some cases the agents said they were asking because the members had bought types of guns that are frequently recovered in Mexico.

This kind of questioning may or may not be part of a legitimate criminal investigation. For example, when BATFE traces a gun seized after use in a crime, manufacturers' and dealers' records will normally lead to the first retail buyer of that gun, and investigators will have to interview the buyer to find out how the gun ended up in criminal hands. But in other cases, the questioning may simply be based on information in dealers' records, with agents trying to "profile" potentially suspicious purchases.

On the other hand, some of the agents have used heavy-handed tactics. One reportedly demanded that a gun owner return home early from a business trip, while another threatened to "report" an NRA member as "refusing to cooperate." That kind of behavior is outrageous and unprofessional.

Whether agents act appropriately or not, concerned gun owners should remember that all constitutional protections apply. Answering questions in this type of investigation is generally an individual choice. Most importantly, there are only a few relatively rare exceptions to the general Fourth Amendment requirement that law enforcement officials need a warrant to enter a home without the residents' consent. There is nothing wrong with politely, but firmly, asserting your rights. [emphasis added]

If BATFE contacts you and you have any question about how to respond, you may want to consult a local attorney. NRA members may also call NRA-ILA's Office of Legislative Counsel at (703) 267-1161 for further information. Whether contacting a local attorney or NRA, be sure to provide as many details as possible, including the date, time, and location, agent's name, and specific questions asked.

Article here. Know your rights. Don't let yourself be intimidated. See my post here on your right to remain silent (and why you should use it).

Gun Rights News Roundup

Articles, news stories, and op-eds of interest to gun owners:

NPR: Gun sales surge (audio available at link):
The recession has put the brakes on all sorts of industries, but the upward spike in gun sales that began about the time President Obama was elected continues.

In California, for example, sales over a six-month period late last year and early this year are up 32 percent from the same period a year ago. And while no national figures on gun sales are available, the FBI reports a strong surge in applications for background checks — the best available indicator.

Gun retailers, consumers and politicians on both sides of the aisle attribute the spike to the election of Barack Obama and fears that his administration and a Congress controlled by Democrats will seek new restrictions on gun ownership. ...

[Arizona] Permitless concealed carry bill advances:
PHOENIX — Siding with gun owners over cops, the Senate Judiciary Committee agreed Friday to let people carry concealed weapons without getting a state permit.

The 4-3 vote came despite comments from several police officers who said letting anyone at least 18 have a hidden gun will make their jobs more dangerous. Friday's vote sends the measure to the full Senate. ...

U.S. Army orders .300 Win Mag for snipers:
The U.S. Army has ordered 38.4 million rounds of .300 Winchester magnum ammunition for its newly modified M-24 sniper rifles, as well as similar SOCOMs Mk13 models. The new ammo will cost about $1.30 per round. The .300 Winchester magnum will be ordered in minimum lots of 56,160 rounds (117 boxes of 480 rounds each). The entire 38.4 million rounds will last a while.

All this is in response to requests from snipers for a longer range weapon, but not one as bulky and heavy as the 30 pound .50 caliber rifle (which is good to about 2,000 meters). Thus the army is modifying existing M24 rifles to fire the more powerful .300 Winchester Magnum round. It was felt that this gave the snipers all the additional range they needed, without requiring a much heavier rifle. SOCOM has been using this approach since the early 1990s. ...

More lies: Mexican Attorney General blames U.S. for Mexico's gun problem:
Mexico's police are overwhelmed in part because drug traffickers have them outgunned. Mexico's Attorney General Eduardo Medina-Mora is helping lead the effort to break up the cartels.

"Half of what we seize, 55 percent are assault rifles. And this is what gives these groups this intimidation power. Over 17,000 assault rifles, throughout the last two years. Two thousand and 200 grenades, missile and rocket launchers. Fifty caliber sniper rifles," the attorney general explained.

It might surprise you to learn where all these guns are coming from. It turns out 90 percent of them are purchased in the US.

"The Second Amendment was never designed to arm criminal groups, and especially not foreign criminal groups as it is today," Medina-Mora said.

Asked if he blames the U.S. for not doing more to stop this flow, he told Cooper, "We believe that much more needs to be done. We need a much more committed effort from the U.S." ...

Jamaica: Another failure of gun control:
KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Ships from Miami steam into Jamaica's main harbor loaded with TV sets and blue jeans. But some of the most popular U.S. imports never appear on the manifests: handguns, rifles and bullets that stoke one of the world's highest murder rates.

The volume is much less than the flow of U.S. guns into Mexico that end up in the hands of drug cartels _ Jamaican authorities recover fewer than 1,000 firearms a year. But of those whose origin can be traced, 80 percent come from the U.S., Jamaican law enforcement officials have said in interviews with The Associated Press. ...

Comment: Jamaica has had some of the strictest and most draconian gun controls in place for decades, yet criminals are still well armed. If you can't eliminate guns from an island nation (just ask the Brits), you cannot possibly expect to do so in a nation with land borders. Duh. Jamaican criminals are well armed. The only people in Jamaica who want guns but don't have them are those who obey the law.

New Jersey Sen. Lautenberg introduces another infringement:
New Jersey Democrat senator Frank R. Lautenberg plans to introduce legislation designed to cancel the Second Amend rights of well over a million U.S. citizens this coming week, according to the New York Times. “Mr. Lautenberg plans to introduce legislation on Monday that would give the attorney general the discretion to block gun sales to people on terror watch lists,” the newspaper reports. ...

Comment: Denying a fundamental human right based on a classified list reportedly riddled with inaccuracies and subject to no meaningful judicial oversight, with inclusion on the list at the whim of government bureaucrats and without due process, is something worthy of a police state, not a free republic. Of course, Lautenberg is probably quite comfortable with such police state tactics.

[Louisiana] New Orleans "assault weapons" ban resolution fails:
BATON ROUGE -- Legislation urging the New Orleans City Council to enact a citywide ban on assault weapons was shot down by a Senate committee Tuesday.

The Judiciary B Committee failed to muster a single vote for House Concurrent Resolution 150 by Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, killing it unanimously. The non-binding measure is an expression of the feelings of the Legislature on an issue and would have called on council members, but not required them, to act.

The council can enact a ban on the assault weapons on its own. ...

Bailout perspective

From Barry Ritholtz's The Big Picture, comes this chart comparing the recent bailouts with other large projects, wars, etc. in our nation's history - relative sizes of expenditures are inflation adjusted (click on chart to biggify):

From his post:
[The chart] includes the total outlay for all the bailouts to date. In just about one short year (March 2008 - March 2009), the bailouts managed to spend far in excess of nearly every major one time expenditure of the USA, including WW1&2 (omitted from graphic), the moon shot, the New Deal, total NASA budgets (omitted from graphic), Iraq, Viet Nam and Korean wars — COMBINED.

206 years versus 12 months. Total cost: ~$15 trillion and counting . . .

This level of spending totally blows away anything else in human history. What are the chances we'll have a good result?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dumb Lawyer, Smart Blond

Tonight's lawyer joke:
A lawyer and a blond are sitting next to each other on a flight from Los Angeles to New York. The lawyer asks if she would like to play a fun game. The blond is tired and just wants to take a nap, so she politely declines and rolls over to the window to take a nap.

But the lawyer persists ....

He explains how the game works. "I ask you a question, and if you don’t know the answer, you pay me. You then ask me a question, and if I don't know the answer, I pay you." Again, the blond politely declines and tries to get some sleep.

The lawyer figures that since his opponent is a blond he will easily win the match, so he makes another offer, "If you don’t know the answer, you pay me only $5, but if I don’t know the answer, I will pay you $500."

The blond figures there will be no end to this torment unless she plays, so she agrees. The lawyer asks, "What’s the distance from the Earth to the moon?" The blond reaches in to her purse, pulls out $5 and hands it to the lawyer.

Then she asks the lawyer "What goes up a hill with three legs, and comes down with four?" The lawyer is puzzled. He uses his laptop to search for references. He taps into the air-phone with his modem and searches the Internet and the Library of Congress. Frustrated, he sends emails to his co-workers and friends. No luck. After an hour, he gives up. He wakes the blond and hands her $500.

The blond politely takes the $500 and turns away to get back to sleep. The lawyer, who is going nuts trying to figure it out, wakes the blond and asks, "Well, so what goes up a hill with three legs and comes down with four?"

The blond reaches into her purse, hands the lawyer $5, and goes back to sleep.


Gun Rights News Roundup

Articles, news stories, and op-eds of interest to gun owners:

[Massachusetts] State's top court to review gun lock law:
BOSTON — Massachusetts’ highest court plans to review the constitutionality of state law that requires gun owners to lock their weapons.

The Supreme Judicial Court decided to look at the law after a District Court judge cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision in dismissing firearms charges against a Billerica man who had been accused of keeping unlocked weapons.

That decision said the District of Columbia could not require gun owners to keep their weapons disassembled and the Second Amendment gives people the right to keep and bear arms. ...

[Ohio] From Buckeye Firearms Association: Attorney General Cordray refuses to sign pro-Second Amendment letter:
Twenty-three attorneys general went on record last week, asking the federal government in a letter to not re-impose the so-called assault weapons ban. Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray was not among them.

The measure, formally known as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, was passed in desperation at the height of the crack-fueled drive-by killings of the 1990s. It was famously ineffective, and expired in 2004. (It turns out the best way to get murderers off the street is to convict them of murder and lock them up.)

The issue was pretty much off the table, with the exception of a few people on the far left who simply don't think anybody should have any firearms at all. Then U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder created a furor when he said the Administration would like to renew the expired ban.

The bipartisan group of states attorneys general sent a letter to Mr. Holder on June 11. Although it included predictable states from the West and the South, it also included attorneys general from places like Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and New Hampshire.

But it did not include Ohio's attorney general, Richard Cordray. And no one in the news media has asked him why he did not sign the letter. ...

Comment: Note that the op-ed was written by a county prosecuting attorney who is running for Attorney General.

Be careful what you wish for

Victor Davis Hanson on Obama's tenure thus far:
I think the Europeans, who, remember, caught Obamania quite early, thought they were going to get more of the bipartisan American security shield, albeit with a charismatic multicultural veneer that would resonate with their citizens: no more Texas. No more Christianity. No more twang. No more nuclur. No more Iraq. But same old NATO. Same old bad cop to their good cop. Same old wide open Ami economy. Same old chance for triangulation. And?

As we are seeing in the Middle East, in the case of Israel, with Turkey, on the recent Iranian upheaval, and during the South America visit, Obama is clearly to the left of Europe. He sees himself more as multicultural prophet born out of the Third World, foe of colonialism, angry at past imperialism, skeptical of capitalism, eager to showcase his non-traditional ancestry and tripartite nomenclature. By coming from the West, but separating himself from the history of his own country, Obama has become a citizen of the world, who polls far higher, as intended, in the Middle East, than does his own country.

At no point does he suggest that the fact his father left Kenya for the U.S. and fathered at least one son who would grow up American rather than Kenyan was a great gift, as we see with the ordeal of many of the Obama half-siblings in Africa. Yes, he talks about change in America, but never tells the world exactly how an America of many races and faiths never descends into the hatred and violence we see most elsewhere in diverse societies. How, after all, does one apologize for success? (”I am sorry we are not killing as in the Balkans; so sad we do not follow the Rwandan model; schucks, no Kurd-Shiite-Sunni troubles here.”)

It used to be cute to talk about how “Bush turned off the Europeans.” Perhaps. But beneath all the public demonstrations and burning effigies, the old guard knew that Bush, like Clinton, Bush, and Reagan (but not Carter), would be there should the Russians, Koreans, Chinese, the lunatic regimes in the Middle East, the Al Qaedists and the rest threaten Western interests.

I don’t see how they can assume such a thing any more.

From the trivial like the treatment of the Churchill bust or the DVD gift to Gordon Brown, to the profound like the serial apologies, voting present on Iran, and deer-in-the-headlights stance on Korea, they must assume that the “European Rapid Deployment Force” is now their primary bulwark against the foes of civilization.

Bottom line: “Be careful what you wish for.” ...

Read the rest here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

These glutes are made for walkin'

Tonight's exercise video, with apologies to Nancy Sinatra:

Gun Rights News Roundup

Articles, news stories, and op-eds of interest to gun owners:

[Montana] On guns in national parks bill:
... I view the passage of HR 627, a credit card reform bill with the highly publicized national park gun amendment attached, as valuable testimony for my past claims that the war to preserve the sanctity of the Second Amendment has been won. Clearly, most politicians are so gunshy about any recordable vote casting them as anti-gun and lowering their NRA grade – and therefore making them vulnerable to defeat in the next election – they go to untold lengths to avoid it.

Gun rights advocates must – and surely will – remain vigilant, but the victory in the Battle of the National Parks should give them confidence tthat hey have the political force with them. ...

[Florida] Concealed carry permits on the rise:
TAMPA - About a month ago, Audry Sauceda was carjacked and fought back.

He stuck a gun in my side and told me to get out of the car," Sauceda said while sharing her story with FOX 13 on May 15. "And I pulled out my gun and stuck it in his face, and told him, he needed to get out. He screamed and jumped out of the car."
It's been almost a year now since the June 26, 2008 landmark ruling in which the Supreme Court overturned the strictest gun-control law in the country, a ban on handguns.

And since then, Florida has been dealing with a rush of requests for concealed weapons permits.

Back at the Shooting Sports Gun Range on Dale Mabry in Tampa, Range Officer Fritz Caspers has seen the number of people signing up for his concealed weapons class double. ...

[Tennessee] Beale Street bans guns:
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - When Performa Entertainment Real Estate and the Beale Street Merchants Association failed to convince state lawmakers Beale Street should be exempt as a historical district, they came up with another plan in order to keep guns far away from its restaurants and bars.

"Our paramount concern is to provide for the safety and enjoyment of our guests and we're going to take any and all measures necessary to do that," said Onzie Horne Jr., Executive Director of the Beale Street Merchants Association.

Now weapons are banned on Beale starting the first weekend after a new state law allowing guns in bars takes effect.

"While we are certainly for second amendment rights and the rights that go with them we thought it was a bad bill," said John Elkington with CEO of Performa.

Beginning July 17th visitors to Beale Street can expect to be screened with metal detector wands at all entry points. Those enforcing the new ban liken it to the kind of security you experience at the airport.

Merchants say it shouldn't take long to get into the party area and once inside signs will remind everyone, "no guns allowed." ...

[Tennessee] Permit privacy bill fails in Senate:
NASHVILLE — The bill to close public access to records identifying Tennessee’s 220,000-plus handgun-carry permit holders fell three votes short of winning approval in the state Senate on Wednesday night.

It was a reversal for the gun lobby, which has been successful this year in winning approval of several bills to expand the places where permit holders are legally allowed to carry their sidearms, including parks and places where alcohol is served. The bill had passed the House 83-12 in May. ...

[D.C.] Smile, you're on gun cam - bill would put cameras on cop guns:
A D.C. Council member has reintroduced legislation to equip guns used by the District's police forces with cameras after a man was fatally shot by police in Northeast.

Council member Harry Thomas Jr. on Tuesday introduced a bill requiring Mayor Adrian M. Fenty to come up with a "plan for the installation of video and audio recording devices on service firearms of all police and special police officers."

Similar legislation died in the council's public safety committee last year after opposition from police, who say the cameras are bulky and fail to capture crucial evidence because they only begin recording once the officer draws the weapon. ...

[Pennsylvania] Appeals court invalidates Philadelphia "assault weapon" ban and straw purchase ordinances:
Two key provisions of Philadelphia's latest attempt to impose local gun controls - banning assault weapons and "straw purchases" of handguns - were invalidated yesterday by a state appeals court.

Following judicial precedent that doomed previous Philadelphia gun-control laws, Commonwealth Court held that the state Supreme Court ruled in 1996 that only the legislature has the authority to enact gun laws. Counties and municipal governments are out of luck.

But the 6-1 majority in Commonwealth Court affirmed part of the 2008 decision of then-Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Jane Cutler Greenspan and allowed three other provisions. They require reporting lost or stolen handguns, allow temporary seizure of guns by police after probable cause is demonstrated, and bar gun ownership by people subject to protection-from-abuse orders.

Greenspan, now on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, had ruled that the National Rifle Association and other challengers were not affected seriously enough to have legal standing to sue over those provisions.

The reporting provision is in effect, but the other two have not yet been implemented because they are legally complex and require the city to draft and adopt regulations, said Richard Feder, chief of appeals in the city Law Department

Feder said his office was "seriously considering" appealing the assault-weapon and straw-purchase provisions to the state Supreme Court. ...

[Louisiana] Gun dealers can't keep ammo in stock:
HOUMA — In 15 years of selling guns and ammunition, he’s never seen anything like it.

Shotgun shells, rifle cartridges and pistol rounds have been flying off the shelves with such speed at Houma Auto Parts, Calvin Prevost’s gun store on Honduras Street, that the owner has taken to hiding what ammunition he can in the back so customers who buy a gun can leave at least with a single box of rounds. Wednesday afternoon, there were wide gaps between the boxes of ammunition for sale at the shop, formerly an auto-parts and gun store but now strictly a firearms business.

“That shelf is usually packed,” Prevost said. “If we don’t hide ammo, they’ll buy it all.” ...

[Tennessee] Guns in parks debate moves to cities, counties:
FRANKLIN — State lawmakers have put local officials on the hot seat with the recent passage of a law allowing guns to be carried in public parks.

The legislation, which was signed into law last week by the governor, immediately opens state-owned parks to people who have handgun carry permits. Municipalities have until Sept. 1 to opt out of the new provision and ban guns from their own parks. ...

[D.C.] City expands approved gun roster in response to lawsuit:
The D.C. government released emergency regulations yesterday that greatly expand the models of handguns that District residents can own, a shift designed to stave off another lawsuit over its compliance with the Second Amendment.

The new regulations, which come as the District continues to grapple with last year's Supreme Court decision that threw out the city's gun ban, will allow residents to legally obtain at least 1,000 additional types and models of handguns.

City leaders sought to play down the effects of the new regulations, but gun rights advocates said they were another boost to their efforts to undo the District's long-held restrictions on personal possession of weapons. ...

A special message to the people of Iran

Satire from Iowahawk:
A Special Message to the People of Iran

By Barack Obama
President of the United States

Greetings. As president of United States -- or, if you prefer, the Great Satan -- I have have been following with keen interest the vigorous post-election debate and vibrant political dialogue which has been taking place in your great and noble Islamic Republic of Iran over recent days. It has been both educational and fascinating, and as a sports fan I have thrilled to the pageantry, the suspense, and the fast-paced, hard-hitting action. I have to say It's been as exciting as a double overtime game seven NBA final between the Lakers and Celtics! Like millions of others around the world, I can't wait for the exciting conclusion of your distracting nail-biter so I can finally focus on my big health care project at the office. (Now that's what I call a real crisis!) But no matter who prevails in your hard-fought contest, you can rest assured that I will be out there in the stands watching, and ready to congratulate the team who brings home Tehran's coveted Golden Centrifuge Cup.

Now, I know that our two nations have had our differences in the past, and so it would be totally understandable if some of you were possibly upset my previous statements expressing "troubled concern" and "measured consternation" over your current situation. Please, do not interpret those statements as somehow taking one side or the other. I was not trying to be provocative or inflammatory, and far be it from me to interfere or play favorites. As we say over here in the Great Satan, "I don't have a dog in this fight," and so I was merely "calling 'em like I see 'em." Frankly, if America is going to regain respect as a geopolitical superpower, we need to make the tough call to sit quietly on the sidelines. That's why I have instructed my diplomatic team remain strictly neutral and to "let 'em play." With time and patience, I hope you will come to think of us as a bigger, flatter version of Switzerland. With less yodeling.

To clarify, my only real concern is over sportsmanship. In democracies like ours elections can sometimes be difficult and messy. "Politics ain't beanbag," as we also say over here. As I learned on the basketball courts and ward precincts of Chicago, the birthplace of modern Democracy, a hard fought game sometimes involves a little trash talk, an occasional sharp elbow, or a mysteriously malfunctioning scoreboard. But this doesn't mean we always have to resort to flagrant fouls, or angrily shooting our opponent in the parking lot, just because he showboated after a layup. Let's all remember the lesson of Ron Artest -- charging into the stands and savagely beating a heckler might feel good at first, but in the end it just might mean losing that big shoe contract with Nike. ...

Read the rest here.

Imagine breaking up the United States

So ponders Paul Starobin in the Wall Street Journal:
Remember that classic Beatles riff of the 1960s: “You say you want a revolution?” Imagine this instead: a devolution. Picture an America that is run not, as now, by a top-heavy Washington autocracy but, in freewheeling style, by an assemblage of largely autonomous regional republics reflecting the eclectic economic and cultural character of the society.

There might be an austere Republic of New England, with a natural strength in higher education and technology; a Caribbean-flavored city-state Republic of Greater Miami, with an anchor in the Latin American economy; and maybe even a Republic of Las Vegas with unfettered license to pursue its ambitions as a global gambling, entertainment and conventioneer destination. California? America’s broke, ill-governed and way-too-big nation-like state might be saved, truly saved, not by an emergency federal bailout, but by a merciful carve-up into a trio of republics that would rely on their own ingenuity in making their connections to the wider world. And while we’re at it, let’s make this project bi-national—economic logic suggests a natural multilingual combination between Greater San Diego and Mexico’s Northern Baja, and, to the Pacific north, between Seattle and Vancouver in a megaregion already dubbed “Cascadia” by economic cartographers.

Devolved America is a vision faithful both to certain postindustrial realities as well as to the pluralistic heart of the American political tradition—a tradition that has been betrayed by the creeping centralization of power in Washington over the decades but may yet reassert itself as an animating spirit for the future. Consider this proposition: America of the 21st century, propelled by currents of modernity that tend to favor the little over the big, may trace a long circle back to the original small-government ideas of the American experiment. The present-day American Goliath may turn out to be a freak of a waning age of politics and economics as conducted on a super-sized scale—too large to make any rational sense in an emerging age of personal empowerment that harks back to the era of the yeoman farmer of America’s early days. The society may find blessed new life, as paradoxical as this may sound, in a return to a smaller form. ...

Read the rest here.