Monday, June 30, 2014

Tactically Deluded

An English writer recently found fault with American "gun culture".  To his credit, he is not anti-gun and he understands that banning firearms in the States is unrealistic.  He does think we ought to be better and more thoroughly trained.  Unlike some of what are clearly my brother Americanus Redneckus making comments, I think Fiske-Harrison takes a generally reasoned approach to the subject -- though I disagree with him in a couple of points.

This gentleman believes that Americans are foolish to think that we can resist the FBI or the American military armed with AR-15s.  He's right in that in direct confrontations, a single citizen, however well-armed, is not likely to come off victorious against whatever tyrannical authority lines up against him.

What Fiske-Harrison seems to miss is that the more rational among us do not expect to win.  We expect only to die fighting, as opposed to begging.  We consider Solzhenitsyn one of our heroes.  What would he say about resisting government tyranny?

And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?... The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If...if...We didn't love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation.... We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.

One of the reasons we oppose registration is that we do not want the government to be able to isolate and systematically target owners of firearms.  Keep them guessing.  Keep them worried.  Obviously Americans don't want this kind of conflict at all.  There are no winners.  We do, nonetheless, want the government to be uneasy about the prospect.  We do not trust the government.  This brings me to the next point upon which Mr. Fiske-Harrison and I disagree, that government should have a monopoly on violence and the tools of violence.

It is easy to document abuses by the police and various government agencies.  I believe Lord Acton was an Englishman as well, and he rather famously said, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."  A monopoly of any kind of power is a bad idea.  The Founders did not like the idea of a standing army for that very reason.  Some of us still do not like it, especially when it takes the form of quasi-military forces wielded by government bureaus and departments that operate against our fellow citizens. 

Another, perhaps lesser known quote from Lord Acton seems eerily appropriate these days, "And remember, where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that."

Then there is Fiske-Harrison's apparent faith in the "superior" training of the professionals, which seems just a bit naive in light of the frequency with which innocent bystanders are hit in police shootouts or the number of rounds expended in such encounters.  The professionals make a lot of mistakes.  The first, last, and only time I ever picked up an AR-15 (as of this date that is -- though I have no use for it, I sometimes consider buying one just to be part of the crowd), I qualified with it on a law enforcement course.  It was unimpressive but adequate.  That I could do that leaves me somewhat skeptical of the quality of law enforcement firearms training.

The clowns elite operators that dressed up in digital camo on city streets and terrorized law-abiding residents to hunt for the Boston Marathon bomber then proceeded to riddle a citizen's boat after he found the little punk for them are the only people we should trust with the tools of violence?  The guys that shot up a blue Toyota Tacoma driven by two Asian women thinking it was the charcoal Nissan Titan owned and driven by the black and male Chris Dorner are the ones we should allow to have a monopoly on violence?  And by the way, we thank God that those idiots highly trained members of the LAPD were such lousy shots as they expended at least 100 rounds in the general direction of the pickup striking one of the ladies twice in the back, non-fatally, and injuring the other with shattered glass.  There looked to be about fifteen or twenty rounds that actually struck the back of the truck, if I remember the picture correctly. 

There is way too much of a monopoly on violence on the part of the government.  Government should fear its citizens.  Not the other way around.  I know that's not European, but it's right.

I agree that we have too much violence in this country and far too much of it involves firearms, as I have been saying recently.  I wish I had a way to resolve it.  Fiske-Harrison charges the NRA with being "repugnantly racist" for suggesting that most of our homicides are the result of gang-related, inner city violence.  I have a hard time seeing how it is racist for anyone to point to the fact that a lot of our problem is occurring in a particular subculture.  His accompanying remark about a lack of respect for the rule of law is even more mystifying.  I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he is on a higher intellectual plane and talking over my head because that makes no sense to me at all.

What I do understand and what I find extremely amusing -- this is the reason I'm writing this -- is this gem by Mr. Fiske-Harrison who, still speaking of the NRA and calling them "tactically deluded", says the NRA "assume[s] that as long as someone has a pristine Sig they’ve no training with in their bedside drawer, they’ll stand a chance when battle-hardened, tooled-up gangbangers come through the front door. They won’t."

Sorry, man, you've watched too much TV and listened to too much rap music.  That's just laughable.  The average cop can't hit the side of a barn.  The average "hardened gangbanger" can't hit the side of barn standing inside the barn.  The Mexican drug cartels rely on volume rather than precision.  How much more the doped-up, teenage gang member with his "Glock" held sideways.  Criminals are not looking for fire-fights.  They are looking for victims.  They try to catch the weak and the vulnerable -- like all predators.  Put up a fight, or even look like you are capable of putting up a fight, and these punks won't slow down for ten blocks.

That's the way it is now.  That can change as society deteriorates, and parts of our country start looking more like Mexico.

I would be the first one to tell anybody that a firearm without training in safety and effective use is a recipe for disaster.  In this Mr. Fiske-Harrison and I are in total agreement.  As an NRA member, I know that members are encouraged to participate in shooting matches to sharpen their skills.  The majority of NRA members are probably like me -- mostly paper punchers.  I still hunt a little when I have time and dispatch the occasional pest or varmint, but mostly I just like to shoot.  I would venture to guess that the NRA member with "no training" is a rather rare bird. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Photo ID Needed

To adopt a pet from the humane society

Adopters must be at least 18 years of age and possess a valid photo ID.

But you don't need one to vote because that would be racist.  

How is adopting a pet from a shelter like voting?  Neither one is a right.  There have always been restrictions on voting.  There is no right to vote in the Constitution.  Voting requirements can be defined by the state -- that was the Founders' intent and expectation. 

Historically, much of the issue regarding voting rights arose because Democrats in southern states after Reconstruction did their best to suppress voting by black citizens.  That was racist and needed to be addressed.  The right of qualifying voters, though, still ought to reside within the jurisdiction of state government.

What is clearly wrong is to rob honest citizens of their votes by allowing fraud to be perpetrated.  Photo identification makes fraud more difficult.  It does not make voting more difficult, nor does it impose an undue hardship on poor people because these identification cards will be provided free of charge to voters when they register.  You can get the picture taken and your laminated operator's license in your hand in a matter of minutes.  It would be no different for a photo ID for voting. 

 Of course, 99% of potential voters already have a valid photo ID.  

The only reason for politicians to oppose a photo ID is because they benefit from voter fraud.   

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Beyond 25 Yards

I am not bragging about my shooting as a good shot would beat this off-hand, but I might be bragging about my Springfield.

I got my .40S&W Springfield XDM out, loaded with CCI Blazer 165-grain FMJs.  I had an old cardboard box ready to burn, so I drew a six-inch zombie watermelon on it, and set it up at a measured 100 yards.  There was about a 10-15 mph crosswind, blowing left to right, somewhat gusty.  

Once I figured out where to hold, I fired five shots, sitting with my back to a wall, resting off  my knee.  I don't know where the 5th shot went.  None of those in the picture are it unless it is the one that clipped the far right.  I probably just flinched big or something.

The advertised velocity on these Blazers is 1100 fps.  These are short, blunt bullets with a modest ballistic coefficient, at best, thereby being very susceptible to drift.  I had a regular, squared up sight picture and was holding at the lower left corner to put those 4 out of 5 in the "killzone".

A defensive autoloader with a 4.5 inch barrel and stubby bullets is not a sniper rifle, but I was pleasantly surprised by the inherent accuracy of the Springfield.   Don't buy the bull about handguns being necessarily inaccurate.  They can be hard to shoot, and, as Scarlett O'Hara observed, it is easier to shoot straight if you don't have to shoot too far.   And you certainly have to dope the wind a little if you are going to try stretching your handgun range.  It's good practice, though. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Mass versus Velocity

Jeff Cooper used to say something like interesting things begin to happen to bullets at 2200 feet per second, roughly twice the speed of sound.  Everyone knows that a bullet will penetrate a ping-pong paddle while a ping-pong ball will bounce off. 


But imagine a ping-pong that breaks the sound barrier. 

Check out this GIF and video on the Blaze.  Seriously, click on over, the video is even better.

They tried to tell us that speed kills. 

The lesson here is that velocity adds a lot to the equation -- velocity is squared in calculating energy.

For a bullet weighing 100 grains at 1000 fps -- 100/100 *1000/100*1000/100*2.22 or 222 foot-pounds.  Double the velocity to 2000 fps and you get four times the energy -- 888 ft-lbs, whereas doubling the mass just doubles the energy to 444.  

  You could get a somewhat similar effect from a more solid, heavier ball at lower velocity, though I'm not sure if it would penetrate as prettily.  The mass would tend to get imparted to the paddle slower, still resulting in it snapping off at the handle, but the blade would have time to start moving away from the impact.  You certainly won't get the cool disintegration effect.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Illusions of Technology

American Digest had Cobb in the sidebar.  I decided to read the whole thing.  If you haven't already, you should, too.  Cobb says, You Don't Know Beans. 

I would add that being able to do clever things with your smartphone and apps does not make you an expert on technology, a programmer, or a geek.  That's like thinking that being able to press your accelerator to the floor and go 110 mph in your Ford Fusion makes you a mechanic or mechanical engineer, or, for that matter, a good race car driver.

Technology for the common man was perfected 60 or 70 years ago. Everything since then has been for university presidents and rich people who fly in jets on the regular. There's no new technology that is more enabling. It's all just marginal improvements and fashion conceits. All you ever need were Levi's. You needed to learn algebra. You needed to read and understand Shakespeare and the basic laws in your small town. You needed to learn how to use a needle and thread, a hammer and sickle, a mortar and pestle, and pots and pans. You needed to learn how to take care of your own basic needs - food, clothing and shelter.

There's something about that particular paragraph that bothers me, but I don't have time this morning to figure out whether it is conflict or conviction.  Maybe it's just his timeline, because I'm a coder and I'd hate to go back to writing on punch cards for mainframes.  I do agree with what he's trying to get at in the article as a whole.  Technology that doesn't actually help you be more productive at a job that is productive is not all that wonderful.

Entertainment can have some value.  Things that merely distract us from the emptiness and lack of purpose in our lives are detrimental.  

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Discussions versus Tantrums

Denninger expounds on a topic we touched on a few days ago, how the gun control crowd distorted statistics for emotional mileage.  Click over and read it.  The reality is a little different, as Karl points out:

The point here is that we're less than six months into the year and Chicago has had 141 people shot and killed thus far (as of 6/14).  Chicago, one city, has more than ten times the number of people shot and killed in six months than a three-times-longer period across the entire nation in our 98,817 public schools.  
 (The embedded link and emphasis are from Denninger's original.)

See, if they were really concerned about the loss of human life, they would try to fix Chicago which has long had very strict regulations on firearms.  I get over in Illinois every once in a while as part of my job, and I have some friends around Springfield, IL.  One of them refers to the "draconian gun laws" that restrict them even in the downstate and more rural areas.  I think you have to have a license to buy or own firearms and ammunition.  I think the acronym maybe FOID, which might be Firearms Owner Identification.  Of course you don't need a photo ID to vote in Illinois.  That would unfair and unjust and a terrible hardship on the Chicago precinct captains herding their voters from poll to poll.

Anyway, I've been thinking and wondering if there really is something we could do to prevent some of this senseless death and destruction.  Even though we are only talking about twelve or fifteen people being killed in eighteen months in a nation of over 300 million, why does it happen?  Does it have to happen?

My problem with gun control is that I think the motives of the anti-gun crowd are disingenuous, for the most part.  I genuinely want to stop these acts, and there may some of the anti-gunners who really think some of these measures might help.  Most, though, simply want to disarm the average citizen because that makes us more dependent and more compliant.  More European, in other words.

I would be willing to treat guns more like cars.  I would be willing to have potential gun owners pass the equivalent of a drivers test to demonstrate a minimal level of knowledge, skill and safe handling.  Licensing owners makes more sense to me than licensing guns.  And you might even have levels -- you know, there's the basic drivers license, then there is motorcycle qualification, then there's CDL -- professional level drivers.

With a basic drivers license, you can drive any four-wheel vehicle on a public road that you can afford to buy and drive.  You get motorcycle qualified, you can ride a TW250 or Z1.

I'd like to come up with a standard way for people to own whatever firearms they like without a lot of hassle.  Further I don't see why driving without a license is a minor "traffic violation" while even having a concealed weapon without a permit will get you a felony conviction.

If we are going to make guns more like cars then fine.  You don't have to get special permission from the government and pay a special fee to put a muffler on your car.  Why do you need to jump through hoops to put a suppressor on your rifle or handgun?  Suppressors, above all, are a totally commonsense, reasonable thing.  I won't say they should be required because of the prevalence of older designs and classics, but they should certainly be encouraged rather than penalized.

Removal shoulder stocks for handguns, short-barrel rifles, short-barrel shotguns, smooth-bore handguns, there's no good reason for these weapons to be restricted and require special licensing.

If you have passed your test and have your shooters license, that should be all you need to purchase, carry and shoot the weapon of your choice.

These are just ramblings.  I'm still working on my manifesto.

But, again, my point is to address the problem of senseless murders.  The point of the gun controllers, too often, is to demand that more laws be passed which will do nothing and would have done nothing to prevent the crime.  Even Colorado Governor Hickenlooper, who signed a controversial magazine ban after the Aurora shooting, admitted to some Colorado sheriffs he no longer thinks his law is all that great:

But in the end, Hickenlooper said that he hadn't had all the facts from the beginning of the debate. And he questioned the efficacy of the law.

"If we'd known that it was going to create -- that it was going to divide the state so intensely, I think we probably would have thought about it twice," Hickenlooper said.
That's exactly what happens when you go off based on misleading visuals and emotional arguments.  You have another stupid, pointless, worthless limitation that adversely impacts the law-abiding citizen but does nothing to effectively limit the options of a law-breaker, like, say, a mass murderer.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Joni Ernst Appalled by Her Husband's Honesty

Joni Ernst is the Republican candidate for the open Senate seat in Iowa.  She had made some political hay out of her Democrat opponent's allegedly "sexist" remarks about her, so it's more than a little amusing that her husband is in trouble for some questionable Fakebook postings about prominent womyns.

The New 2014 Rule #1 -- If your wife is running for Senate, especially if she is a Republican, stay off Fakebook. 

This replaces 2012's Rule #1 which was, if you are a male Republican candidate for the Senate never ever say anything about rape.  Say you are pro-life and then SHUT UP!

Mr. Ernst called Hillary Clinton a "Lying hag" and "more of a hag" as compared to when she was First Enabler back in the '90s.  I don't know if she is "more of a hag", certainly she's an even uglier hag than she used to be.  Otherwise, I'm finding it difficult to disagree.

Ernst was upset by the ammunition shortage (this guy is a kindred spirit) and blamed former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, calling her a "Traitorous skank!"  His wife, candidate Joni said:

"I'm appalled by my husband's remarks," said Joni Ernst, a state senator from Red Oak who beat four other Republicans last week to become the GOP nominee for Iowa's open U.S. Senate seat. "They are uncalled for and clearly inappropriate. I've addressed this issue with my husband and that's between us."

I'm appalled, too.  Traitorous skank is clearly inappropriate.  Janet is a traitorous bull-dyke.  Skank has a whole other connotation.

Anyway, because I would like to see Harry Reid lose control of the Senate as he has already lost control of his mind, I suppose I have to root for Ernst to win the slot formerly held by a Democrat.  There is a part of me that says if she is willing to turn on her husband -- yes, it was stupid -- publicly like that I can't really trust her to stand up for the truth.  I'm sure she would be better than Democrat Braley.  Once more, I am glad I don't live in Iowa. 

All this from Des Moines Register reporter, Jennifer Jacobs..

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Everybody Hates the IRS

We have a good reason.  The IRS has long been tyrannical and intimidating.  You are guilty until proven innocent.  The rules and regulations are gargantuan, layered, and arcane, and almost anybody except the most standardized wage slave has the potential to run afoul of them.

Thus, when we hear that Lerner's emails have been "lost" due a "crash", even the most leftist of leftie talking heads can't help mocking this dreaded and despised cyclopean (to use an apropos Lovecraftian adjective) bureaucracy.  Anybody who has used a computer for any length of time knows your emails don't disappear if your hard drive goes toes-up.  We also know that any mail server will routinely and regularly backup all data to other drives and tape.  We know, above all, that the IRS would be required to have an extensive backup protocol.

So we know the IRS is lying.  If Lerner's emails can't be produced, they were deliberately destroyed.  There is a term for that, as the Other McCain points out -- obstruction of justice.  Lerner, her boss, and her immediate reports need to be jailed for obstruction of justice and contempt of Congress -- not to mention insulting the intelligence of and thumbing their noses at the American people.  They should stay in jail until they decide to cooperate and tell the whole truth, which most likely implicates some people the regime would rather not have implicated.

Using the IRS to harass political enemies goes way back.  It's clearly a byzantine system that needs to be abolished and replaced with something simpler.  I have always thought the Fair Tax would be good, although I understand the objections of those -- like myself who have already been fleeced by income tax over the decades and would rather not be hosed again with a VAT.  A Fair Tax-type solution would require the dismantling of the current income tax system and the retention of the IRS only as a clearinghouse for the minimum monthly refund checks for the taxes paid on basic expenses, as Neal Boortz used to explain.  But I would be happy with a true flat tax -- anything to diminish the destructive power and reach of the IRS.

Meanwhile, Lerner's pleading of the Fifth along with this ridiculous story about the emails shows that the IRS is indeed guilty of political targeting and that members of the regime might well have instigated and supported the attacks.  The question remains as to whether Congress really wants to do something about this and bring people to justice.  Republicans may have been guilty of using the IRS as well and would rather not lose their best bludgeon.  After all, they, too, are part of the ruling class and think the serfs must be kept in line.

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Flat Head Ford

On a bike?  Read about it here at

Bill Becker of Boscobel, Wis., rode his hand-built Ford flathead V-8 powered custom to the Knuckle Shuffle. It doesn’t have overhead valves or chromed rocker boxes like a Knucklehead, but it does have eight cylinders and uses them all!

The winters be long in WI.

Wanting the Impossible

Spengler explains, I think, well some of the errors in American foreign policy.  Be sure and read the whole thing. 

America has neither the students nor the teachers to fix its problems overseas. There are a few sages still left, notably Angelo Codevilla, who holds up the example of John Quincy Adams against the utopian obsessions of the major schools of foreign policy thinking.

On the left, we have the likes of Obama’s so-called national security team, including human-rights dabblers like Samantha Power and Ben Rhodes. On the right we have the neoconservatives, who believe that Being Determines Consciousness (democratic institutions will make people into democrats), and Catholic natural law theory, which boils down to the assertion that unaided human reason will lead everyone to the Western idea of individual liberty and democratic governance.

I share Goldman's belief that Iran was the key to addressing the problems in the Middle East, that taking out Saddam and using Iraq as a temporary base to destroy Iran made sense, but that what we ended up doing was both completely unrealistic and worse than doing nothing in the long run.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Debunking the Debunking of the Debunking

The Bloomberg anti-gun group published an infograph alleging 74 school shooting that have taken place since the horrific events of Newtown, Connecticut, in December, 2012.

A journalist, Charles Johnson, examined these cases and said that, in context, 7 of these events -- far too many -- are similar to the Sandy Hook School shooting.  

Next, along comes Brandy Zadrozny to explain that Johnson is misleading us because the Everytown people did not claim that each and every event was exactly analogous to Newtown.

Except, that's exactly what the Everytown people wanted low-information clickers to believe.  The table at the site does have a footnote that explains these incidents include suicides and accidents, but look at the picture at the top of the page.  They are tying every single one of these occurrences to the murder of babies at Newtown. 

There are multiple ways to lie.  You can just make crap up like the Clintons, Joe Biden, and Nancy Pelosi do.  You can also present true facts in such a way as to obscure the reality and create a false narrative, as Obama does so well, and as the Everytown site has done.  It gives you an out when you get caught.  Bill Clinton did it, too, haggling over the definition of "is". 

The truth is that Everytown presented their evidence, especially the map infograph, so as to make people think that 74 times since 12/2012, crazed gunmen have gone into a school and murdered little children with guns. 

To me, the seven legitimate cases would have been sufficient.  That's way too many, and we need to find a way to deal with this problem. 

I don't know what is required to prevent these incidents.  What I do know is that disarming and restricting law-abiding citizens such as myself will not keep them from happening. 

Let's have discussion about why these things happen, but it has to be a legitimate discussion based on the truth.  Let's stop trying to silence our opposition with emotional barrages and speak rationally about what might work and what we know doesn't work.  Stop equating self-defense with assault and justifiable homicide with murder.  The vast majority of the time, whether wielded in front of a badge or by a private citizen, a firearm doesn't even have to be discharged to do its job.  Most people have sense enough to cease and desist when the business end of a shotgun or handgun gives them that unblinking metallic stare. 

The murderer at Newtown would not have been stopped by limits on magazine capacity.  He would not have been stopped by more restrictive carry laws.  He would not have been stopped by more extensive background checks or background checks at gun shows.  He was not stopped by a "no weapons allowed" sign.  He was stopped by a bullet.  Too bad it wasn't fired by someone else before he shed so much innocent blood. 

Is Homosexuality Genetic?

Apparently Rick Perry, who is doubtless going to run for President in a couple of years, thinks homosexuality has a genetic component.

Homosexual activists have claimed for years now that there is a "gay gene".

So why is Perry being attacked for agreeing with that proposition?

The very reasonable folks at Gay Patriot (h/t) explain it all quite well.

More or less, what Perry said echoes the old saw about astrology and the stars, which, like genes, "incline; they do not compel":

"Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that," Perry said. "I may have the genetic coding that I'm inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way."

As a natural-born alcoholic, I understand that perfectly.  My mother used to tell how her father, my maternal grandfather, would get hauled home dead drunk, often in a neighbor's conveyance, any time they went to a fair or carnival or other venue where alcohol was available.  My mother never drank.

Mom told my wife she would need to watch me with liquor as "he has it on both sides."  My father got into a little moonshine-related trouble on a few occasions.  He once said he had not been drunk since he was 30.  I'm about the same.  Dad and I learned to deal with our tendency to overindulge.  Grandpa never did.    

Alcohol causes a lot of problems for a lot of people.  I don't drink anymore.  Nevertheless, I would be against any attempts to reinstate Prohibition -- not just because it didn't work and caused more problems than it solved, but because it's not right.  People ought to be able to do what they like as long as they injure no one else in the process.

I have never really understood the appeal of homosexuality.  I like girls.  I am sure those who are tempted to homosexual behavior find it just as much of a challenge as I used to trying to avoid bad heterosexual behavior. 

Still, we can always decide how we are going to live, act, and behave.  I respect the rights of other people.  I may not agree with their choices, but they are their choices, not mine.  I won't try to make your choices, and if you don't try to make mine, we'll get along fine.  Common courtesy is civilization.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lost Lessons

Would the people of Iraq have been, for the most part, better off if we had not toppled Saddam?  I don't think there is any question that as brutal and oppressive as Hussein was, the majority of Iraqis would have preferred the stability to the chaos and bloodshed of the last eleven years. 

I know this sound terrible, but I don't really care that much about the answer to that question.  The question for me is, would Americans have been better off?  Originally, I believed that it was in our best interests as a nation to remove Hussein and put pressure on Iran by having a military presence on both of their borders. 

I believed this because I assumed that our military had learned the bloody lessons of Korea and Vietnam, and they understood that fighting a war meant taking it to enemy and destroying his ability to attack us.  I began to have doubts very soon, when Bush was talking about how we didn't need to sacrifice, that we should go shopping, and live our lives. 

As a people, we were ready, after 9/11, to take it the enemy.  Our leaders never had that intent.  The war on terror -- a stupid name -- became a means for controlling us and removing more privacy and liberties through the provisions of the Patriot Act, the establishment of Homeland Security and the totalitarian tactics of the TSA.  Corporate Friends of Government were rewarded with fat contracts.  The reach of the federal government was extended, and its power over our lives was consolidated. 

The destruction of terrorist strongholds should have been over years ago.  Our troops should never have spent more than a few months in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Intelligence agents, Special Forces, and smart ordnance could have dealt with the threats without the need for billions poured into worthless hellholes, the loss of thousands of lives, and the mutilated bodies of thousands more in conflicts that were never intended to resolve anything -- wars we never intended to win. 

Now Iraq falls, strengthening Iran's hand, offering new opportunities to the increasingly Islamist government of Turkey.  Afghanistan is all but surrendered to the Taliban.  What do we have to show for all we have done since 2001?  A wrecked economy and a butcher's bill.

I was never a neocon, but I had too much faith in a politicized military.  It's time to severely cut defense along with everything else. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Amnesty and Apple Pie

This is about the message of Eric Cantor's primary loss in Virginia.  Cantor, as House Majority Leader, has been a point man in the push for amnesty for the millions of people who have illegally crossed -- mostly -- the southern border of the United States. 

I cannot legally go into Mexico without the proper permission.  Right now a United States Marine sits in a Mexican jail because he accidentally crossed the border with his weapons in his car.  Obama's big on swaps.  How about 30 million Mexicans for a Marine? 

In 2006, the Republicans lost control of Congress, partly because people were getting tired of Bush, but also partly because of the GOP's attempt to pass a Dream-Act type bill -- i.e., amnesty for border jumpers and special privileges for their children, supported by Bush.  In fact, I think Bush claimed that they were definitely going to pass it no matter what.  A lot of us were put off by that, and people that might otherwise have voted Republican chose not to do so. 

Amnesty is not a conservative value.  Hispanics are not going vote Republican because we allow a bunch of people -- all of whom broke the law by entering this country and many of whom are guilty of other, even more serious crimes -- to become citizens and participate in our elections.  Hispanics are often Catholic and probably mostly pro-life.  Guess what?  Most black people in this country are Christians -- often very devout, sincere Christians, mostly pro-life and anti-gay marriage.  I've been in church with these people, and I love them as brothers and sisters in Christ.  Ninety percent of them still vote Democrat. 

Hispanics are no more a "natural constituency" of the GOP than are our black citizens. 

We are all familiar with the quote from Mark Twain:  "You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I'll tell you what his 'pinions is."

If you are getting your corn pone from the government, you are not so likely to be vehemently opposed to bigger government.  Some people are going to vote their corn pone instead of their conscience.  

This also explains why Republicans keep pushing amnesty.  They are getting corn pone from corporations and groups like the Chamber of Commerce that support border jumping for their own economic benefit.  An influx of young, eager, slightly naive people desperate for jobs will ease the pressure to push wages higher.  If these people become citizens or are at least allowed to participate in the system legally, they become taxpayers and contributors to Social Security and Medicare. 

Cantor lost because of amnesty.  The Republicans lost the House and the Senate eight years ago because of amnesty. 

Do you think maybe Republican voters are against amnesty?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

All Are Bases Aren't Covered

Chicago PubliK SKools seem to have a little problem, but I'm kind of unsure whether it is spelling or grammar.

I am sure I have made that typo, but, if someone else made it, I think I'd see it. 

Bloggers are abusers, certainly, as we have no editors for the most part.    

When I went to school -- yes, I know, that was a long time ago, we had advisers and sponsors who were teachers and adults.  You almost have to think this was intentional, a declaration of linguistic independence.  Grammar and spelling have limited our -- excuse me, are freedom of expression for far too long.  Or should that be, far fore two long?

Anyway, we obviously don't pay teachers enough, and we should all be more supportive of the teachers' union.

  H/T Free Republic

Monday, June 9, 2014

Bad Deal or No Deal -- Steyn on Bergdahl

Mark Steyn unleashes on the Bergdahl trade.  Please follow the link and read the article.  As he points out, part of the problem is how we have failed to clearly define the nature of the conflict between civilization and savagery ever since 9/11.  Is it war or isn't it?

If it is a war, it isn't over:

The Taliban are going to continue fighting until they're back in partial or total control of the Afghan government, and they will kill anyone who stands between them and that end - American, Nato troops, Afghan army... So Obama is replenishing the enemy in time of war. Seen strictly in war terms, there is no deal.

All right, Steyn says, then suppose it is not a war but a negotiation with terrorists similar to the arrangement between the UK and the IRA in which the government released prisoners in exchange for an end to the bombings:

And the bombing has stopped. So yes, there's a few people wandering around Belfast and Derry one might prefer to see hanging from a gibbet, but at least they're not blowing the legs off grannies at bus stops. That's not a small thing. In this case, the Taliban will still be engaging in the Afghan equivalent of granny-bombing - killing and terrorizing their way back to power. So again, in terrorist-negotiation terms, there is no deal.

Finally Steyn considers the possibility that it is a law enforcement issue.  That seemed to be the track Obama followed in his recent West Point speech where he spoke of America following international norms:

But in this case he's releasing on to the world stage war criminals accused of war crimes by the "international community", who would like at least two of this guys on trial in the Hague. Mullah Noori, for example, is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Shia Muslims. Meanwhile, a schlub who made the mistake of having dinner at a Boston restaurant with the Tsarnaev brothers is facing 40 years in the slammer. So, even in law-enforcement terms, there is no deal.

Steyn concludes by reminding us that the real heroes are not Bowe Bergdahl or his father or Obama, but the men who stayed with their posts, did their duty, and lost their lives as a result of Bergdahl's desertion.  

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Establishment Clause

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That's how Amendment I reads.

Congress shall make no law a) that establishes a national religion, or b) prohibits any individual's free exercise of religion, or c) abridges freedom of speech, the press, or assembly.

I grew up not far from Lebanon, Missouri.  It's a town of about ten or twelve thousand, the main drag of which is old Route 66.  It sits just off Interstate 44.  I have stayed and dined at the Munger Moss Motel, and last time I passed by it was still in operation.  People honk a lot there, and it always seemed like busy place, a sort of trade center for that area south of the Lake of the Ozarks.  A lot of hillbillies picked up some cash money selling stave bolts to the old Independent Stave Mill.  You knew you were getting close to Lebanon when you saw the smoke rising from the kilns.  If you go out on Highway 64, you will soon reach Bennett Springs State Park, a destination for trout fisherman, especially every March 1st. 

The principal of Lebanon High School, Kevin Lowery, made Fox News, with a bit of our patented Ozark snark as he reminded graduates that:

... [T]he nation’s motto of “In God We Trust” can be found on U.S. currency and in Francis Scott Key’s original version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Lowery also wryly noted during the May 23 commencement that even though “God is reflected in the very fabric” of the nation, it would be inappropriate to mention The Almighty at a secular ceremony.

“So while it would not be politically correct for us to have an official prayer this evening, I would like for us to have a moment of silence in honor of tonight’s graduates,” Lowery told students. “Thank you. And just in case you’re interested, during my moment of silence, I gave thanks to God for these great students, their parents, their teachers and for this community.”

The funny thing about this is that he riled up the atheist and "freedom from" religion crowd.  Fox quotes David Muscato, a spokesman for American Atheists:

“I find this extremely objectionable,” Muscato said. “I think it’s clear that Kevin Lowery violated the spirit of the First Amendment separations of religion and government. This was an underhanded and dishonorable way for him to forcibly inject his personal religious views onto his students and the others present and into his role as a government official.”
 Imagine my surprise when I could not find where Kevin Lowery is a member of Congress or where he passed any kind of law.  You see, Mr. Muscato had to throw in "the spirit of" because it is impossible for anyone other than Congress to violate the letter of the First Amendment. 

Actually, I'm wrong.  The Supreme Court and other federal courts routinely violate the actual letter of Amendment I by limiting the free exercise of religion and speech of American citizens.  When a Christian baker who believes that, according to his religion, homosexual marriage is wrong, he may be forced by the courts to violate the dictates of his conscience and acquiesce to those demanding he bake a wedding cake for them.

Kevin Lowery, though, did not force anyone to pray.  He voiced his opinion as an educator, spoke correctly about the history of his country, and spoke of his own personal action.  He did not mention a name of God.  He did not mention Yahweh, Jesus Christ, Allah, Mohammed, Buddha, Joseph Smith, Zeus, Hecate, or Bob Dobbs.  If I were to speak to Mr. Muscato, I would ask he to tell me from what he said to which religion Mr. Lowery belongs and which religion he was promoting.

The spirit of the First Amendment is that we let everybody believe as they like.  We let everybody say what they like even when we find what they say objectionable, challenging, or offensive, because, Mr. Muscato, saying "Have a nice day" or "Don't worry; be happy" doesn't really need protecting.

Kevin Lowery is paid by taxpayers, like David Muscato and other atheists as well as by Christians like me and 95% of the people in Lebanon,  to serve as an administrator for a government school.  In his position as principal, his job is not to evangelize or teach Christianity or any kind of theism.  However, a person is their character.  We are, at least in part, a product of what we believe.  We all everywhere have the right to say what we believe.  We, none of us, have the right -- not private citizen or government official or lawyered-up atheist -- to impose our beliefs on anyone else. 

We are not endowed by our Creator with the right not to be offended by what someone else says, or to control, censor or suppress their speech because they don't agree with us.  I understand the taxpayer side of this.  I understand that atheists are offended by the "proclamation" of any type of theism, and I respect their right to be offended.  Be as offended as you like.  Wail and moan and squeal like a cut pig.  But do not tell me to shut up -- unless you are a lot bigger than I am, and even then you might want to make sure I don't have an axe handle with me.

Now look at what Lowery said, "...during my moment of silence, I ...".  What if he had said, "During my moment of silence I was silent because I don't believe there is a god to whom we can pray"?  Would I have been offended?  Maybe.  But I would not have tried to invoke the First Amendment.  I would have said everybody is entitled to their opinion, and it's a free country -- or at least it used be. 

That really seems to me more like the American Way. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Firearms and Dementia ...

... or I always liked to take my guns for canoe rides on the lake, and one day, there was a horrible accident.

Elderly Americans, of which, I suppose, I am one by some definitions and soon will be by any definition, own firearms.  Sometimes old people suffer from dementia.  Sometimes old people get depressed.  Firearms are the most common means of suicide among all age groups.

A doctor suggests that older people be questioned about firearms by their physicians.  

Folks, here's your test for senility:  if your doctor asks you about firearms and your answer is anything other than "none of  your (insert expletive) business", you are probably senile.

Snowden versus Bergdahl

Snowden was working for the NSA, he claims now, as an operative and not just an analyst.  He became concerned about the extensive amount of data the agency was collecting on American citizens who were not suspected of terrorism.  Clearly, what the NSA is and has been doing is a violation of our Fourth Amendment protections against warrantless searches without probable cause.  I don't care what courts or agencies or politicians have approved this kind of action, it is wrong.

"If you are not doing anything wrong, what are you afraid of?" they ask.

I ask, "If I'm not doing anything wrong, why are you investigating me?  If you don't have evidence of a crime, what are you looking for?  I do not know the Power Ball numbers."

In this case, I believe, it is the government agency that is engaging in criminal activity.  But there's a law, right, that allows them to do that?  I suppose you could pass a law to make murder legal for certain people -- rather like the police in some places think we have done.  It's still murder. 

So, Snowden, to me, looks like a whistle-blower, and whistle-blowers are supposed to be protected.  Yet he had to flee his country to avoid immediate incarceration and prosecution.  Is he a hero?  I'd like to know the truth.  The people who want Snowden prosecuted are the ones who have been involved in illegal data mining.  I would like to see someone go to jail for that.  I'd really like to see Snowden allowed to return to his country.  If he committed a crime, I'd like to know what it was.  If he didn't, I'd like for him to live as a free man and get the hero's welcome that he deserves.

I find that I cannot believe what this government says about Edward Snowden. 

On the other hand, we have Bowe Bergdahl who was not happy with his role in the military.  He looks a lot more like a defector than a POW.  He may have collaborated with the Taliban.  Some of his unit is saying he was a deserter.  All that remains to be seen.

Why is he being treated differently than Snowden?  Why are they calling Bergdahl a hero and Snowden a traitor?  Bergdahl, if it can be determined that he left in order to join up with the Taliban -- and I'm not saying he did, should be shot.  I don't know because this has all been done, except for the big photo op at the White House, surreptitiously.  Our elected representatives in Congress were not informed of what was going on -- which may have been unlawful. 

What I do know about this is that we negotiated with a terrorist organization, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda, in violation of our laws.  We released known terrorists whose capture was at the risk of American blood, and, in fact, some of our people may have been killed or wounded taking these ragheaded gangsters alive.  Now, they are back with their people, and every American overseas is just a little bit less secure than they were a few days ago because terrorists believe we might negotiate for the release of a kidnapped citizen.

One wonders.  One wonders if Ambassador Christopher Stevens had been taken alive, would these or other terrorists been released in exchange for him?

I find that I cannot believe what this government says about Bowe Bergdahl, any more than I can believe their story about Benghazi.

One last observation, I don't think that we can draw any conclusions from the behavior of Robert Bergdahl.  The Washington Post, I think it was, described him as "fiercely intelligent".  What that conjures up for me is a picture of an arrogant, argumentative type who thinks he is smart because other people get tired of trying to talk sense to him.  I could be wrong.  I'm just reacting to the phrase.  He could be a really good guy and kindred spirit.  He was a UPS man, and he has workin' man hands.  In any case, he's more than a little flaky and doesn't appear to be a particularly stable person so I would not try to read too much into his bizarre performance at the White House.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Weather or Climate?

This has been a highly promoted video that is supposed to be "devastating" to "climate deniers".

Strangely, I'm not devastated.  Most people who question the influence of human activity on the climate and, particularly, the effect of CO2 as a greenhouse gas, have long dismissed storms, droughts, heat waves, and such as exactly what Dr. Tyson says:  weather.  It's the global warming crowd with their media megaphones that makes the latest record heat wave in some city a sign of global warming.

When Tyson says climate has changed many times, this is true.  Then he says the change is always traceable to a "global force".  The thing is that we do not know what those "global forces" were in most cases.  Sometimes it was solar activity.  Sometimes it was an increase in volcanic activity.  Sometimes we are not sure. 

The big pivot is when he says that the "strongest force driving climate change right now is the increasing CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels".   It's an interesting theory, a theory based on computer models.  Those models predicted that the average temperature would be significantly higher than it is now.  They were wrong.  Tyson then falls back on the claim that the oceans are warming.  Again, this was not predicted by the climate models.  The models were wrong.

Ocean temperatures are like everything else, cyclical -- El Nino and La Nina patterns are examples of this.  If the oceans are warming, it may well be part of a natural process unrelated to the CO2 level.

Tyson confirms what we "deniers" have said all along -- most of what the global warming alarmists are screaming about is really just weather.  The reason Dr. Tyson is doing this spot is because we have had a couple of years in the United States, not only without significant warming, but with cooler than normal temperatures in much of the country.  Having the Great Lakes iced over was kind of a bummer for the AGW crowd, and they needed a pep rally.

I do not claim to speak as an expert on meteorology.  It's a physic-based discipline and quite complex.  But here's the thing:  Tyson's analogy is, at base, a statistical argument.  Climate is predictable as a statistical model based on historic data.  It assumes that the data points are comparable across time.  What if your thermometers are more precise or calibrated a little differently than they were two hundred years ago?  What if we collecting more data now than we were a hundred years ago?  What if we are collecting data from more places and in different ways than we were fifty years ago?  What if some of our historic baselines built on ice core samples and tree ring data are less than perfect?  It's like anything else, if you are a little off on the foundation, your rafters can end up a foot apart.  It's also pretty easy to get a distortion built into your projection based on a few outliers in the recent past.  In fact, if you look at the current divergence between reality and the majority of model predictions, it's kind of what you would expect if extremes in recent years had inordinately influenced the line.    

"Deniers" are not the ones who confuse weather and climate.  "Deniers" are not disputing climate change.  What we are denying is the certainty of a statement like that one Tyson made in the video about the strongest force driving climate change being CO2 from oil and coal.  There is no proof of that.  The strongest force is probably solar activity.  Another powerful factor may be cyclical changes in ocean temperatures unrelated to CO2 -- which, we should recall, is the product, not just of fossil fuel combustion, but of all animal life on the planet.  It is necessary for plants to have CO2 in order to thrive and produce their by-product, O2.   

The problem is that we are not talking about science in some theoretical sense.  The impact of implementing measures to curb carbon dioxide emissions could be devastating to economies as well as the lifestyles, health, and well-being of much of the human population.  If you are going to make the kinds of claims that warmists are making, you had better be able to back it up with something other than cute but vapid propaganda.

If this is such a big deal, why are we not talking about Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTR)?  Instead we focusing on wind and solar that work fine for backyard and off-grid electrical generation but are inefficient, expensive, and environmentally damaging in large arrays feeding into a distributed power grid.  We are talking about electric cars that run on power generated by traditional power plants.  We are penalizing developed nations and ignoring nations like China and India that produce more pollution and emissions each and every year.     

Monday, June 2, 2014

Otherwise Known as Fascism

Everything I know I learned from Thomas Sowell.  It's not a long article -- please go over and read all of it.  Sowell explains why Obama -- and frankly most of the political types in America -- are fascists.  Because a fascist regime in Germany ended up fighting a communist regime in the old Soviet Union, history and popular culture were able to portray fascism as "right wing".  It is not.  It is simply the preferred form of socialism. 

Dr. Sowell says:

What President Obama has been pushing for, and moving toward, is more insidious: government control of the economy, while leaving ownership in private hands. That way, politicians get to call the shots but, when their bright ideas lead to disaster, they can always blame those who own businesses in the private sector.

Politically, it is heads-I-win when things go right, and tails-you-lose when things go wrong. This is far preferable, from Obama’s point of view, since it gives him a variety of scapegoats for all his failed policies, without having to use President Bush as a scapegoat all the time.

Then he addresses the confusion:

Back in the 1920s ... when fascism was a new political development, it was widely — and correctly — regarded as being on the political left. ...

Mussolini, the originator of fascism, was lionized by the left, both in Europe and in America, during the 1920s. Even Hitler, who adopted fascist ideas in the 1920s, was seen by some, including W.E.B. Du Bois, as a man of the left.

It was in the 1930s, when ugly internal and international actions by Hitler and Mussolini repelled the world, that the left distanced themselves from fascism and its Nazi offshoot — and verbally transferred these totalitarian dictatorships to the right, saddling their opponents with these pariahs.