Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

More Idiot-Bashing at Quora.com

Since I'm not posting here much, I guess I can recycle my stuff from other sites.

In today's episode, I take one Nick Lilavois to task for his response to the question "Why are fully automatic guns banned for civilians without special permits in the US?"

Here's the thread to date, his responses in blue background, mine in green:
Why are only people with special permits allowed to fly a plane?

Because those who do not have those permits would be putting people's lives at risk.

Requiring some training, and some reason, why certain people are allowed to do certain dangerous things is a way to minimize death and injury for all of us.

And as a side thought- I get why someone would want to fly a plane. While it may be dangerous, when used properly it is not.

It is just not the same with a gun. When used properly, as intended by the manufacturer, someone ends up dead.
Really? I might agree with you concerning my M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, No. 5 Enfield, 1917 Enfield or P14, but my Thompson/Center Encore? My Ruger Mk II? My Remington XP-100? These are all designed to kill people?

My what an odd world you occupy.

Oh, the "tax stamp" you get from the government that allows you to possess a fully-automatic weapon, short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, suppressor, "destructive device" or "any other weapon" covered under the 1934 National Firearms Act is NOT a "license to operate" in the way a pilot license is. It's just a tax form. It requires no training nor "reason" - just approval from the government.
Quote:
"These are all designed to kill people?"

Pick any one of the items in your collection, load it, point it at your spouse or child and pull the trigger.

Notice what happens.

The odd thing about the world I occupy is that people like you would even WANT to own such things.
The odd thing about the world I occupy is that people like you don't seem to understand who is responsible for their safety. As a friend of mine once put it,
In a truly civil society peopled primarily by enlightened, sober individuals, the carriage of arms might be deemed gratuitous, but it is nonetheless harmless. In a society that measures up to anything less than that, the option to carry arms is a necessity.
We know what the world was like when nobody had firearms. It was run primarily by large men with swords, and was not just, fair, or democratic.

Now, which of us belongs to the "reality-based" community?
Still me, I'm in the reality-based community, because I realize the people responsible for my safety are the police and the military, and to an extent judges, lawyers, wardens, etc.

Not regular citizens with guns.

I never said I had a problem with cops having guns, and soldiers without guns would be silly.

As the constitution says rather clearly in the 2nd amendment, it is perfectly OK for men in a well-regulated militia to bear arms.

Not regular citizens NOT in a militia.

Heck, you still don't get that guns were designed to kill people, so you certainly can't claim you are dealing with reality.

BTW- you do know that democracy was invented in ancient Greece, LONG before the invention of guns, don't you?

You do realize that the presence or absence of guns has nothing whatsoever to do with curtailing the power of the government, because your vast arsenal will do nothing to save you from a drone strike, a tank, a grandee launcher, or anything else that took down the cult in Wacco, Texas? You do understand that, right?

So the whole concept that people having guns protects us from an imaginary government out of control is just a bunch of mental masturbation because, let's face it- you have guns because you WANT them. You LIKE them. You do not NEED them.

You collecting guns is no different from an old lady collecting little porcelain figurines from the Hallmark store, except that very few people get killed by porcelain figurines.

See? THAT was reality.
"Still me, I'm in the reality-based community, because I realize the  people responsible for my safety are the police and the military, and to  an extent judges, lawyers, wardens, etc."

So, have you ever read the Supreme Court's Warren v. District of Columbia decision from 1981?  Or the more recent Castle Rock v. Gozales decision from 2005?  I suggest you might find them enlightening.  From Warren:

"A publicly maintained police force constitutes a basic governmental service provided to benefit the community at large by promoting public peace, safety and good order. The extent and quality of police protection afforded to the community necessarily depends upon the availability of public resources and upon legislative or administrative determinations concerning allocation of those resources. Riss v. City of New York, supra. The public, through its representative officials, recruits, trains, maintains and disciplines its police force and determines the manner in which personnel are deployed. At any given time, publicly furnished police protection may accrue to the personal benefit of individual citizens, but at all times the needs and interests of the community at large predominate. Private resources and needs have little direct effect upon the nature of police services provided to the public. Accordingly, courts have without exception concluded that when a municipality or other governmental entity undertakes to furnish police services, it assumes a duty only to the public at large and not to individual members of the community." (Bold my emphasis.)

"Individual members of the community" being, well, YOU.  And me.  Something bad happens, they don't show up, they're not at fault.  They do show up and don't do anything, they're not at fault.

THAT'S the "real world."

"As the constitution says rather clearly in the 2nd amendment, it is  perfectly OK for men in a well-regulated militia to bear arms.

"Not regular citizens NOT in a militia."

Oh really?  Are you familiar with 10 U.S. Code § 311 - Militia: composition and classes?

"(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32,  under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of  intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female  citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are—
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard  or the Naval Militia."

In other words, if you're between the ages of 17 and 45, male and are or intend to become a U.S. citizen, or a female citizen member of the National Guard, you, my friend, are a member of the militia - by Federal law.

Have you read the 1857 Scott v. Sandford Supreme Court decision?  This one is reviled because it denied citizenship to blacks, free or slave, but it did so under the reasoning that citizenship:
"...would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognised as citizens  in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State  whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport,  and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to  go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without  molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a  white man would be punished; and it would give them the full liberty of  speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own  citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went."
It seems the Supreme Court of 1857 understood the Second Amendment somewhat differently than you do, seeing as THEY did not consider milita service to be a requirement.  So after a war in which hundreds of thousands died to determine just who WERE going to be citizens, we passed the 13th Amendment making blacks citizens, and the 14th Amendment ensuring that they would get the same rights as everyone else.  Of course, that didn't pan out too well with all those Jim Crow laws.  But in 1875's U.S. v. Cruikshank the court once again declared what it was the Second Amendment protected, while denying that protection to blacks:
"The right there specified is that of 'bearing arms for a lawful purpose.' This is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed; but this, as has been seen, means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress. This is one of the amendments that has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government, leaving the people to look for their protection against any violation by their fellow-citizens of the rights it recognizes...."

In other words, "It's not the job of the .gov to protect your (pre-existing, individual) right to arms (also not mentioning militia service). See your friendly neighborhood Klansman about that."

So we finally got another Supreme Court decision on the topic of the meaning of the Second Amendment in District of Colubia v. Heller, in which the Court said:
"The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes...."

And slightly later the McDonald v. Chicago decision "incorporated" the Heller decision under the 14th Amendment's "privileges or immunities" clause (which wording dates back to the Dred Scott decision) against STATE infringement of the fundamental, individual right, just as the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment and Fifth Amendments have been. (Third, too, but not by SCOTUS.)

THAT'S the "real world."

Democracy did originate in Greece, but it was a strictly limited franchise - you are aware of who the Helots were, right?  They didn't get to vote.

Or own swords.

"You do realize that the presence or absence of guns has nothing  whatsoever to do with curtailing the power of the government, because your vast arsenal will do nothing to save you from a drone strike, a tank, a grandee(sic) launcher, or anything else that took down the cult in Wacco(sic), Texas? You do understand that, right?"

I admit that I'm really curious as to what a "grandee launcher" would look like, and why would I want to launch a Spanish nobleman anyway? As to whether guns might "curtail the power of government," you might want to check in on what just went down in Nevada over the weekend.  Not the best example, but who blinked first?

Personally, I'm more concerned about what happened in places like Los Angeles during the Rodney King riots, or New Orleans post Katrina, when law-enforcement (you remember, those guys who are not responsible for your safety?) broke down in the face of riots and natural disasters. I recommend you read Jew Without a Gun on the topic of the LA riots.  Very enlightening.

True, I like guns, I want them, and I hope - fervently - never to NEED them, but as others have said it's better to have and not need than need and not have.

Finally, I'll quote Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on the topic of the Second Amendment from his 2003 dissent to Silveira v. Lockyer:
"The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed - where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees.  However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once."

Should those contingencies come to pass, I intend to still have a vote.

So: the government ISN'T responsible for your protection; depending on the courts is hit-and-miss; if you believe in non-discrimination, pretty much EVERYBODY is the militia; the Second Amendment protects an individual right to arms OUTSIDE militia service; Grecian democracy wasn't really all that democratic; the government DOES pay attention to armed citizens; and being armed is not useless in the face of adversity, disaster and runaway government.

And THAT'S the world I live in.  I submit that it reflects reality a great deal more closely than does the one you apparently occupy
No response as of yet.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I Got Called RACIST!™ Again

A while back over at Quora.com I responded to the question,  "How do you solve the gun problem in the United States in a realistic way?" thus:
America does not have a "gun problem."  It has an inner-city violent crime problem.  Yes, I understand that the majority of deaths attributable to firearms are suicides, but suicide rates seem to be unaffected by firearm availability.  If firearms are not available, other methods are substituted and are equally effective.  The U.S., for all of its guns, ranks rather low for suicide internationally.

Criminal homicide is heavily concentrated in large urban centers, in specific areas of those large urban centers, and among a very small, self-identifying group in those specific areas.  Yet no one raises a hue-and-cry when one more inner-city youth is gunned down by another inner-city youth, especially when both of them have long criminal records of escalating violence. 

It's been two years since Trayvon Martin died.  During that period, more than 10,000 young black men 34 years of age or younger have died of criminal homicide by firearm. 

Name three without using Google or another search engine.

Yet every time the media gets a victim they can run with, it's the rural gun owner in Ohio or Wyoming they want to slap new restrictions on.  We've watched it happen for literally decades, a slow-motion hate crime against gun owners, because "the problem" is defined as (and only as) "too many guns."

Young black men are killed - overwhelmingly by other young black men - at a rate six times higher than the rest of the population.  A demographic that consists of less than 7% of the population makes up over 40% of the victims, but no one wants to talk about it, or try to find a solution for it other than "midnight basketball" or greater welfare subsidies.

No, it's much easier (and politically safer) to blame "gun availability" and the "gun culture."  Here's a newsflash:  There are three distinct "gun cultures" - one recreational, one defensive, and one criminal.  Guess which one "gun control" doesn't have any effect on?
So tonight I get an email that someone has responded to my answer. Here's the comment in its entirety by one "Jesse James Richard":

Interesting answer, but yes the US does have a gun problem by the standards of highly developed nations based on gun related deaths. From your answer I get you're saying gun related death don't matter because they are committed by black people.

Violence in the developed world is invariably related to poverty, so by extension I read that it gun related deaths don't matter because they happen to the poor and should be dismissed because they rarely effect white (important) people.

I am a gun owner.
Here's my reply:
"From your answer I get you're saying gun related death don't matter because they are committed by black people."

Then you need to improve your logic skills.

"Violence in the developed world is invariably related to poverty, so by  extension I read that it gun related deaths don't matter because they  happen to the poor and should be dismissed because they rarely effect  white (important) people."

So I'm not only a racist, I hate poor people too.  Check.

"I am a gun owner."

You forgot the "But...."  My logic skills are quite good, though, so I know it's implied:  "I am a gun owner, but not a racist, classist, homophobic, anti-immigrant climate-denier like you."  Did I miss anything?

Now that we've gotten your obvious social sensitivity and implied moral superiority out of the way, let's discuss FACTS.

Here's the deal, Jesse James:  facts are not racist.  They're not classist, they're not homophobic, they're not anti-environment, anti-immigrant, anti-handicapped or anything else - they're just facts.

The inability to look at FACTS because of the fear of saying something politically incorrect is the reason nothing ever gets done.

Gun control - what politicians do instead of something.

I'm saying deaths - all deaths - matter, not just "gun deaths."  And that if you want to affect THAT problem, then you have to look at who is dying and where they are dying and why they are dying.  Making rural and suburban gun owners license and register their firearms does not address the deaths of inner-city youths, regardless of the color of their skin.  It so happens that inner city youths are overwhelmingly black, but that is not the fault of guns.  But addressing the epidemic problem of inner-city youth homicide can't be done because to do so would be considered "racist" by our political victim class.

The FACT of the matter is that homicide in the U.S. is heavily concentrated in a very small, easily identifiable demographic to the point that it severely skews the overall numbers.  If it were possible to reduce homicide within that group to the same level as the average of the rest of the population, then the overall homicide rate in the U.S. - despite all of our guns - would be more in line with the rest of the "developed world."

Look up the Centers for Disease Control's WISQARS tool.  Here are some relevant FACTS.

Leading causes of death, all races, both sexes from 1999 - 2010, from 15 years of age to age 34

1. Unintentional injury
2. Homicide (15-24 years of age) and Suicide (25-34)
3. Suicide (15-24) and Homicide (25-34)
4. Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
5. Heart disease
6. Congenital anomalies (15-24), HIV (25-34)
7. Flu and pneumonia (15-24), Diabetes (25-34)

Now, if we look specifically at black men in those groups:

1. Homicide - both age subgroups, by almost TWICE the runner-up, "unintentional injury."  Over that twelve year period, the CDC recorded 57,349 young black men between the ages of 15 and 34 died as a result of homicide - 46.2% of the total victims of homicide in those age groups (though they are only 7.2% of that population), 58% of the male victims of homicide in those age groups (14.2% of that population - I guess I'm anti-male, too), and 27% of all homicide victims, though they make up only 2% of the total population.

But I'm racist for pointing this out and saying "LOOK!  THIS IS A BAD THING WE DON'T TALK ABOUT!"

Yet you want us to believe this is a "GUN problem"?

The homicide rate in 2010 according to the CDC was 5.27/100,000, all races, both sexes, all ages.  For young black men ages 15-34 it was 73.21/100,000 almost fourteen times higher. 

When performing triage on a patient, don't you want to stop the arterial bleeding first?  Or am I a racist for saying that?

If we could somehow reduce the homicide rate in this group to the 5.27/100,000 average of the nation, that alone would have saved the lives of 4,343 people in 2010.  Is that not a goal to strive for?  Then why are we talking about "assault weapon" bans and magazine size restrictions?

Oh, and by reducing the homicide rate in that demographic to 5.27/100,000, the total U.S. homicide rate would then decline to 3.86/100,000.  I leave extrapolation of THAT data to you. 

Yeah, we kill each other a lot.  I get it.  But when arterial blood is spurting from a limb, putting a Band-Aid™ on the victim's finger doesn't help.  (OMG!  A brand name!  I must be in the pay of evil CORPORATIONS!!)
I wonder if he picked up on the subtle "FUCK YOU!" in my response?

UPDATE:  He replied!
First let me state that your retort is great and your band aid tm made me laugh. You can chose to value or devalue this as disingenuous if you so see fit. It's not.

By no means do I think you're a racist or hate the poor, but it sure reads that way and this why:

If this question was about anything that killed people en-mass race, or really any social subclass, say gender, height, weight, educational background, surely would not have been brought up, right? It's only because it's guns and violence that we talk bout thugs before we talk about the guns.

1) do we have a problem with obesity in this county
2) do we have a problem with car accident-related deaths in this country
3) do we have a problem infant mortality in this count

You could never answer "we don't have a problem with shitty drivers, we have a problem with women who are four to one more likely to crash a car." That might be true, but you still have a problem with cars killing people.

You didn't really answer the question, that's my point. You skirted the issue and said we don't have a problem with guns we have an inner city violent crime problem. Both might be true, but the fact that the US has between 5 - 10 x the gun related homicide deaths compared to other developed counties. This does suggest you have a problem with guns.... Or not, I guess. That's up to you as an American.

Stats aren't racist, on that we can agree.
He's a Canuck, BTW.  Haven't decided if I want to beat on him some more.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Friday, April 11, 2014

Remington Rifle Recall

Came across this at AR15.com tonight.  My new .300 Win Mag 700-5R is affected, and it's got a muzzle brake, a detachable box magazine conversion, and a trigger job. Oh frabjous joy.
Remington Arms Announces Voluntary Product Recall

April 11, 2014
Madison, N.C. - Remington Arms Company, LLC (“Remington”) today announced a voluntary recall of Model 700™ and Model Seven™ rifles with X-Mark Pro® (“XMP®”) triggers, manufactured from May 1, 2006 to April 9, 2014.

Senior Remington engineers determined that some Model 700 and Model Seven rifles with XMP triggers could, under certain circumstances, unintentionally discharge.
IN THE INTEREST OF SAFETY, THESE PRODUCTS ARE BEING RECALLED.

Remington’s investigation determined that some XMP triggers might have excess bonding agent used in the assembly process, which could cause an unintentional discharge. Therefore, Remington is recalling ALL affected products to fully inspect and clean the XMP triggers with a specialized process. Remington has advised customers to immediately cease use of recalled rifles and return them to Remington free of charge. The rifles will be inspected, specialty cleaned, tested, and returned as soon as possible. Do not attempt to diagnose or repair recalled rifles. Remington established a dedicated website and toll-free hotline to help consumers determine whether their Model 700 or Model Seven rifle(s) are subject to recall:
Website: http://xmprecall.remington.com

Toll-Free Hotline: 1-800-243-9700 (Prompt #3 then Prompt #1) Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT.
The website and hotline provide guidance on returning recalled rifles free of charge. “Remington takes safety extremely seriously,” said Teddy Novin, Director of Public Affairs and Communications. “While we have the utmost confidence in the design of the XMP trigger, we are undertaking this recall in the interest of customer safety, to remove any potential excess bonding agent applied in the assembly process. We have established significant safety and technical resources to determine which rifles are affected and to minimize any risks. Our goal is to have every recalled firearm inspected, specialty cleaned, tested and returned as soon as possible.”
“We’re putting our customers and their safety first by voluntarily recalling all potentially affected rifles. We also want to take this opportunity to remind everyone of the Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety,” Novin concluded.

The Free Ice Cream Machine

As you've possibly noticed, the TSM free ice cream machine has been on the fritz for a bit.  That's going to continue to be the case for the next couple of weeks, I think, as I deal with some work issues and some personal stuff.  I may throw some stuff up in the mean time, but I promise:  when I come back there's going to be an epic-length überpost.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Modern Education

No, the plural of "anecdote" is not "data," but I had an interesting occurrence this evening.  I'm out of town on a job, and had dinner at a little restaurant.  Standing at the register to pay, the waitress rang up my total as $15.54.  I handed her a $20.  She punched $20 on the register, and the display showed "PPPPPPP."

"Well, that's different," I said, as she stared at the display.  But when she reached for a calculator, I said "$4.46."

She looked at me like I'd just pulled a rabbit from a hat.  "I can't do math in my head like that."  She appeared to be about 19 years old.

I weep for our future....

I Know the British Army is Economizing, but Seriously?

British sniper in Afghanistan kills six Taliban with one bullet

A British sniper in Afghanistan killed six insurgents with a single bullet after hitting the trigger switch of a suicide bomber whose device then exploded, The Telegraph has learnt.

The 20-year-old marksman, a Lance Corporal in the Coldstream Guards, hit his target from 930 yards (850 metres) away, killing the suicide bomber and five others around him caught in the blast.

--

The same sniper, with his first shot on the tour of duty, killed a Taliban machine-gunner from 1,465 yards (1,340m).

Several hundred British and Afghan soldiers were carrying out an operation in December when they were engaged in a gun battle with 15 to 20 insurgents.

"The guy was wearing a vest. He was identified by the sniper moving down a tree line and coming up over a ditch,” said Lt Col Slack. "He had a shawl on. It rose up and the sniper saw he had a machine gun.

"They were in contact and he was moving to a firing position. The sniper engaged him and the guy exploded. There was a pause on the radio and the sniper said, 'I think I’ve just shot a suicide bomber'. The rest of them were killed in the blast."

It is understood the L/Cpl was using an L115A3 gun, the Army's most powerful sniper weapon.
No, this is NOT an April Fool's post!

This is the L115A3, an Accuracy International .338 Lapua rifle:

Nice shooting!!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

More on Runaway .Gov

Fran Porretto has more on Robert and Adlynn Harte, whom I mentioned in the überpost below. Fran also links to Nice Deb's piece, The Horrendous Criminal Enterprise Known as the Democrat Party which is absolutely worth your time.

Having said that, however:


Fran also links to another piece you should read concerning Common Core and the teaching of American History. A long time ago, Steven Den Beste wrote an essay on the four most important inventions in history, upon which I based my überpost Those Without Swords Can Still Die Upon Them. Den Beste stated in his peice:
In my opinion, the four most important inventions in human history are spoken language, writing, movable type printing and digital electronic information processing (computers and networks). Each represented a massive improvement in our ability to distribute information and to preserve it for later use, and this is the foundation of all other human knowledge activities. There are many other inventions which can be cited as being important (agriculture, boats, metal, money, ceramic pottery, postmodernist literary theory) but those have less pervasive overall affects.
In the intervening years, I've written a lot of posts on education (236 tagged that, according to Blogger). My point in focusing on education has been that the Left has used the last two of those inventions infiltrating and controlling what each new generation is taught, laying the foundation for our future.

Fran's post Sometimes One Weapon is Enough expands on that. Chillingly. He links to this piece, which explains:
We have a new set of AP American history standards and it’s only the first out of 33 AP course standards to be written. We can give thanks to the Architect of Common Core and College Board president, David Coleman. He has taken the five page outline currently given to teachers and has turned it into a 98 page Framework.

The new standards interpret American History for us.

Jane Robbins describes a few problems:
The new Framework inculcates a consistently negative view of American culture. For example, the units on colonial America stress the development of a "rigid racial hierarchy" and a "strong belief in British racial and cultural superiority." The Framework ignores the United States' founding principles and their influence in inspiring the spread of democracy and galvanizing the movement to abolish slavery. The Framework continues this theme by reinterpreting Manifest Destiny—rather than a belief that America has a mission to spread democracy and new technologies across the continent, the Framework teaches that it "was built on a belief in white racial superiority and a sense of American cultural superiority.”
She goes on to note:
A particularly troubling failure of the Framework is its dismissal of the Declaration of Independence and the principles so eloquently expressed there. The Framework's entire discussion of this seminal document consists of just one phrase in one sentence: "The colonists' belief in the superiority of republican self-government based on the natural rights of the people found its clearest American expression in Thomas Paine's Common Sense and in the Declaration of Independence." The Framework thus ignores the philosophical underpinnings of the Declaration and the willingness of the signers to pledge "our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor" to the cause of freedom.
The weaponization of public education kicks into high gear.

At this point, however, it seems redundant.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

R·S·P·E·C·T for and the Rule of Law

I've been saving links for just a few weeks for this piece, and - once again - it's been like drinking from a fire hose trying to select the best (worst?) out of the stream. 

Let us begin with the oft-repeated quote from Atlas Shrugged:
There is no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is to crack down on criminals. When there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking the law. Create a nation of lawbreakers and then you can cash in on the guilt. Now that's the system!
The Heritage Foundation reports that there are now so many federal criminal laws, no one knows just exactly how many there are:
Two objections to the current state of federal law have been that no one knows how many federal crimes there are, and no one can easily find them all. Heritage and others have encouraged Congress to direct the executive branch to compile a list of all federal offenses and to make that list readily accessible to the average person without charge. Recently, the Senate Judiciary Committee took a positive step toward that goal.

The American legal system has always presumed—often incorrectly—that every person knows every criminal law. In fact, no one—no police officer, no prosecutor, no judge, and no law professor—knows all of them. One reason why this problem has existed is that there is no compendium of all federal criminal laws that a person—or a lawyer—could turn to when issues arise.

In the past the Justice Department and the American Bar Association (ABA) separately attempted to prepare a list of federal offenses. Neither the Justice Department nor the ABA succeeded, no other component of the executive branch has picked up the baton since then, and no comprehensive, easily accessible list exists today.
 If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.
-- Winston Churchill
Attorney Harvey Silverglate believes there are enough that pretty much everyone unwittingly commits Three Felonies a Day.

I've been writing about abuses of our "justice" system (it's a legal system - very little "justice" gets done, and that generally by accident) almost since I started this blog.  Here are some recently bookmarked news stories:

Video Shows Officer Confronting Man Filming Arrests In Towson (MD)
Meghan McCorkell reports Baltimore County police officials say they are concerned by the video and they've launched an investigation.

Early Sunday morning, a man videotaped as Baltimore County Police arrested two people in Towson. As the video rolled, he was confronted by an officer.

"I'm allowed to do this," he told the officer.

"Get it out of my face," the officer replied.

"I have my rights," the man said.

"You have no rights," the officer said.

But the man didn't stop rolling and was once again aggressively approached.

"Do you see the police presence here? Do you see us all? We're not [expletive] around. Do you understand? Do not disrespect us and do not not listen to us," the officer said. "Now walk away and shut your [expletive] mouth or you're going to jail, do you understand?"
"You have no rights."

From a cop.

Next!

Family Says Moore Police Beat Father To Death (OK)
Nair Rodriguez and her daughter Lunahi told News 9 they got into an argument at the Warren Theater around midnight. Nair said she slapped her daughter then stormed away. Her husband, Luis, chased after her. That was when the family said officers confronted Luis Rodriguez and asked to see his identification.

According to Lunahi and Nair, he tried to bypass the officers to stop his wife from driving off because she was so angry. They said officers took him down and it escalated.

Lunahi Rodriguez said that five officers beat her father to death right in front of her, in the parking lot of the movie theater.

"When they flipped him over you could see all the blood on his face, it was, he was disfigured, you couldn't recognize him."

By the time it was all over, Nair Rodriguez said that she knew her husband was dead.
NEXT!

Dashboard cam catches cops in unbelievable series of lies that led to man's false arrest (NJ)
Police charged a New Jersey man with resisting arrest and assaulting an officer, but recently revealed footage from a dashboard camera told a different story: Not only did the officers start beating the man for no apparent reason, but they actually crashed one of their vehicles into the man's car.

Then they allegedly lied about what transpired and suppressed the evidence, but were somehow found innocent during an internal investigation.

Prosecutors, however, dropped all charges against 30-year-old Marcus Jeter, a black man, once they saw the incredible video footage, which fully corroborates Jeter's side of the story.
NEXT!

What's in a name? For the wrong Cody Williams, 35 days in jail (FL)
They arrested the wrong Cody Williams, and then kept him in jail for more than a month.

The Clay County, Fla., Sheriff's Office punished a deputy Tuesday for the wrongful arrest of 18-year-old Cody Lee Williams, who didn't even share the same middle name as a man accused of having sex with a young girl.

"Other than the name, there's no other similarities," Kris Nowicki, Cody Lee Williams' attorney, told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday. "Cody Williams had never met this girl and didn't know anything about her."
OK, that's a (very) few representatives of the front-line enforcers (and I won't even touch on "asset forfeiture" in this piece), but they're the kind of thing that inspires this:


Now, let's move up the chain.

Leawood couple battle to open police investigation records
Public records never meant a lot to Robert and Adlynn Harte — until police raided their upscale Leawood home two years ago.

The failed search for marijuana set the Hartes on a yearlong crusade for documents to shed light on what led to a search likened to a military operation that produced no charges or evidence.

The Hartes spent $25,000 working to get the records.

Now they're lobbying the Kansas Legislature to make it easier to get at such records.

"We're accidental activists," Adlynn Harte said.

--

Kansas is the only state in the country that keeps such documents from public view, say open-records advocates who argue for more transparency on the activities of police and prosecutors.

--

"How can we possibly judge whether law enforcement and the courts are doing their job," Kansas Press Association executive director Doug Anstaett said in an email, "if we have no access to the information that would help us form that opinion?"
Just last year, Glenn Reynolds wrote a Columbia Law Review piece, Ham Sandwich Nation: Due Process When Everything Is a Crime that begins thus:
Prosecutorial discretion poses an increasing threat to justice. The threat has in fact grown more severe to the point of becoming a due process issue. Two recent events have brought more attention to this problem. One involves the decision not to charge NBC anchor David Gregory with violating gun laws. In Washington D.C., brandishing a thirty-round magazine is illegal and can result in a yearlong sentence. Nonetheless, the prosecutor refused to charge Gregory despite stating that the on-air violation was clear. The other event involves the government’s rather enthusiastic efforts to prosecute Reddit founder Aaron Swartz for downloading academic journal articles from a closed database. Authorities prosecuted Swartz so vigorously that he committed suicide in the face of a potential fifty-year sentence.

Both cases have aroused criticism. In Swartz's case, a congresswoman has even proposed legislation designed to ensure that violating a website's terms cannot be prosecuted as a crime. But the problem is much broader. Given the vast web of legislation and regulation that exists today, virtually any American bears the risk of being targeted for prosecution.

Attorney General (and later Supreme Court Justice) Robert Jackson once commented: "If the prosecutor is obliged to choose his cases, it follows he can choose his defendants." This method results in "[t]he most dangerous power of the prosecutor: that he will pick people he thinks he should get, rather than pick cases that need to be prosecuted." Prosecutors could easily fall prey to the temptation of "picking the man, and then searching the law books . . . to pin some offense on him." In short, prosecutors' discretion to charge—or not to charge—individuals with crimes is a tremendous power, amplified by the large number of laws on the books.

Prosecutors themselves understand just how much discretion they enjoy. As Tim Wu recounted in 2007, a popular game in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York was to name a famous person—Mother Teresa, or John Lennon—and decide how he or she could be prosecuted:
It would then be up to the junior prosecutors to figure out a plausible crime for which to indict him or her. The crimes were not usually rape, murder, or other crimes you’d see on Law & Order but rather the incredibly broad yet obscure crimes that populate the U.S. Code like a kind of jurisprudential minefield: Crimes like "false statements" (a felony, up to five years), "obstructing the mails" (five years), or "false pretenses on the high seas" (also five years). The trick and the skill lay in finding the more obscure offenses that fit the character of the celebrity and carried the toughest sentences. The, result, however, was inevitable: "prison time."
Do read the whole thing. The point of the piece is that "longstanding aphorism that a good prosecutor can persuade a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich."  And these days, an indictment is as good as a conviction:
...fewer than 5 percent of cases brought by American prosecutors every year lead to an actual jury trial, while the rest play out in plea bargains almost entirely behind closed doors. In practice, that means juries have all but vanished from the justice system, replaced by a highly efficient machine that processes cases without ever stopping to consider what seems moral or fair.
Or just.  How bad has it gotten? Radley Balko reported on March 7:
I've addressed the problem of prosecutorial misconduct here a few times before — both its prevalence, and the fact that misbehaving prosecutors are rarely sanctioned or disciplined. Recently (or perhaps the better word is finally), some judges have begun to speak out about the problem including, most notably, Alex Kozinski, the influential judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

Late last year, South Carolina State Supreme Court Justice Donald Beatty joined Kozinski. At a state solicitors’ convention in Myrtle Beach, Beatty cautioned that prosecutors in the state have been "getting away with too much for too long." He added, "The court will no longer overlook unethical conduct, such as witness tampering, selective and retaliatory prosecutions, perjury and suppression of evidence. You better follow the rules or we are coming after you and will make an example. The pendulum has been swinging in the wrong direction for too long and now it's going in the other direction. Your bar licenses will be in jeopardy. We will take your license."
You'd think prosecutors would be abashed at that kind of down-dressing. Well, you'd hope anyway, but no:
Beatty singled out South Carolina's 9th Judicial District in particular. There's a good reason for that: He noted in his talk that two prosecutors from that district, overseen by Solicitor Scarlett Wilson, had already been suspended for misconduct and at the time of his talk, another complaint was pending. A recent complaint by the state's association of criminal defense lawyers recently laid out a list of other complaints against Wilson's office.

But Wilson took personal offense at Beatty's comments. She accused him of bias and sent a letter asking him to recuse himself from criminal cases that come out of her district. In one sense, Wilson is unquestionably correct. Beatty is biased. He’s clearly biased against prosecutors who commit misconduct. But that's a bias you probably want in a judge, particularly one that sits on a state supreme court. It's also a bias that isn’t nearly common enough in judges. (Not only do most judges not name misbehaving prosecutors in public, they don’t even name them in court opinions.)

Other prosecutors around the state jumped on, and now at least 13 of the head prosecutors in the state's 16 judicial districts, along with South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, are asking for Beatty's to be recused from criminal cases. This would presumably end his career as a state supreme court justice.
Read the original piece and all the links.

Here's an example of why South Carolina was called out: Death row lawyer: 'If I throw in the towel, a client dies'
By the time Edward Lee Elmore won his freedom at age 53, he had spent 30 years -- most of them on death row -- imprisoned in South Carolina for a crime he says he did not commit.

Law enforcement planted evidence and prosecutors manipulated facts to cast Elmore as the only suspect in the 1982 murder of 75-year-old Dorothy Edwards, his lawyers claim.

Even with seemingly overwhelming evidence in Elmore's favor, it took nearly two decades to win his release, in what an appeals court called "one of those exceptional cases of 'extreme malfunctions in the state criminal justice systems.' "
So this abuse is hardly a new thing, and it makes one wonder just how "exceptional" that "extreme malfunction" of the justice system really was. But this is hardly limited to the states. Mother Jones reports:
Federal prosecutors, judges, and other officials at the Justice Department committed over 650 acts of professional misconduct in a recent 12-year period, according to a new report published by a DC-based watchdog group, the Project On Government Oversight. POGO investigators came up with the number after reviewing documents put out by the Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). According to one little-noticed OPR document published last year, a DOJ attorney failed to disclose a "close personal relationship" with the defendant in a case he was prosecuting, in which he negotiated a plea agreement to release the defendant on bond. An immigration judge also made "disparaging remarks" about foreign nationals. POGO contends that this number is only the tip of the iceberg and OPR needs to release more information about this misconduct to the public.

"The bottom line is we just don't know how well the Justice Department investigates and disciplines its own attorneys for misconduct when it occurs," says Nick Schwellenbach, a contributor to POGO. "The amount and types of misconduct DOJ's own investigators conclude has happened suggests more [information] should be public than is already, including naming names of offending prosecutors that commit serious misconduct."
All that report means is they got caught 650 times. There's no telling how many times their malfeasance went undetected, and - detected or not - that malfeasance remains unpunished.

But the problems are hardly limited to cops and prosecutors.  What about the judges?
A fundamental premise of American constitutionalism is that an independent judiciary stands guard against abuses of power by the other two branches of government. But independence leaves judges with immense power. Although the vast majority of judges at both the federal and state levels have genuine respect for the rule of law as a constraint on their power, it takes only a few self-important or ambitious judges to create precedents that other courts may later rely on in the name of the rule of law.

Some judges are easily tempted to engage in such law making. Putting aside political ambition and other personal conflicts of interest that are countered only by strength of character, all American judges have been trained in the centuries-old tradition of the common law. That tradition, it is often said, is one of judge-made law. Although a more accurate understanding is that the common law reflects judicial recognition and articulation of evolving popular custom and practice, there are many examples of policy-driven judicial modifications of common law rules, sufficient to persuade modern judges that they have law making power even in a constitutional system of separated powers.

Most present day judges have been encouraged in this view by armies of special interests advocates and a generation of law professors whose writings and teachings often emphasize the role of law as an instrument of change. Because most law teaching, even in an era of pervasive regulation pursuant to ever more complex statutes, relies on the reading and analysis of judicial opinions, courts are regularly portrayed as agents of change and students are encouraged to pursue policy objectives through imaginative interpretations of prior judicial rulings and existing laws and regulations.

More than a few judges find themselves persuaded that, as descendants of common law judges, they have an important role to play in updating and improving the law. Besides, making policy to serve the public good is far more interesting and gratifying work than interpreting and enforcing laws made by others. And if they have qualms about venturing into policy making, judges can have reference to higher authorities like Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and 7th Circuit Judge Richard Posner whose books defend judicial lawmaking pursuant to theories of a "living constitution" and "judicial pragmatism" respectively.

Judges can all too easily fancy themselves philosopher kings with special talents for objectivity and doing the right thing in a world of uncompromising partisanship. Recent state court decisions in Pennsylvania, New York, and Montana bear witness to the fruits of environmentalist persistence in the courts and the concomitant threat to the rule of law.
Over the years, I've written a bit on "judicial activism" as well.  But that's not the only problem.  Judges are often appointed for life (or until they're bumped up higher in the pecking order), and are notoriously hard to unseat.  Like Pennsylvania county judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. who was sent to prison for 28 years.  For what?
...for taking $1m in bribes from the builder of two juvenile detention centres in a case that became known as "kids-for-cash".
As a result, 4,000 convictions were overturned.

Or the case of Michigan Circuit Court Judge Bruce Morrow:
Morrow, who works in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice overseeing criminal cases, is accused of engaging in conduct that "demonstrates a lack of impartiality, failure to follow the law, an abuse of judicial power and violations of the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct," according to the complaint filed in March.
From a Massachusetts School of Law publication, The Long Term View, a 1997 paper, WITHOUT MERIT: THE EMPTY PROMISE OF JUDICIAL DISCIPLINE:
Judicial independence is predicated on "good faith" decision-making. It was never intended to include "bad-faith" decision-making, where a judge knowingly and deliberately disregards the facts and law of a case. This is properly the subject of disciplinary review, irrespective of whether it is correctable on appeal. And egregious error is also misconduct, since its nature and/or magnitude presuppose that a judge acted wilfully, or that he is incompetent.

--

Every case has many facts, any of which may be inadvertently "misstated" in judicial decisions. But judicial misconduct is not about innocent "misstatement" of facts, and certainly not about peripheral facts. It involves a judge's knowing and deliberate misrepresentation of the material facts on which the case pivots. These facts determine the applicable law. If the applicable law doesn't allow the judge to do what he wants to do, he's going to have to change the material facts so that the law doesn't apply. When judges don't want to put themselves on record as dishonestly reciting facts, they just render decisions without reasons or factual findings.

The prevalence of intellectually dishonest decisions is described by Northwestern Law Professor Anthony D'Amato in "The Ultimate Injustice: When the Court Misstates the Facts". [PDF]  He shows how judges at different levels of the state and federal systems manipulate the facts and the law to make a case turn out the way they want it to. It quotes from a speech by Hofstra Law Professor Monroe Freedman to a conference of federal judges:
Frankly, I have had more than enough of judicial opinions that bear no relationship whatsoever to the cases that have been filed and argued before the judges. I am talking about judicial opinions that falsify the facts of the cases that have been argued, judicial opinions that make disingenuous use or omission of material authorities, judicial opinions that cover up these things with no-publication and no-citation rules.
Afterward, when Professor Freedman sat down, a judge sitting next to him turned to him and said, "You don't know the half of it."
No, I'm afraid we really don't.

Finally at the top of the chain, we have this:

And this:

Not a season passes without new disclosures showing Nixon's numerous attempts at criminal use of his presidential powers and in fact the scorn he held for the rule of law.
― Bob Woodward.
The Wall St. Journal - All the President's IRS Agents:
Few presidents understand the power of speech better than Barack Obama, and even fewer the power of denying it to others. That's the context for understanding the White House's unprecedented co-option of the Internal Revenue Service to implement a political campaign to shut up its critics and its opponents.

Perhaps the biggest fiction of this past year was that the IRS's targeting of conservative groups has been confronted, addressed and fixed. The opposite is true. The White House has used the scandal as an excuse to expand and formalize the abuse.

About a month after the IRS inspector general released his bombshell report about IRS targeting of conservative groups last May, Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel unveiled a "plan of action" for correcting the mess. One highlight was that targeted groups would be offered a new optional "expedited" process for getting 501(c)(4) status.

The deal, which received little public attention, boiled down to this: We'll do our job, the IRS said, if you give up your rights.
Remember: "You have no rights."

The LA Times - The president's power grab:
Recently, a bizarre scene unfolded on the floor of the House of Representatives that would have shocked the framers of the Constitution. In his State of the Union address, President Obama announced that he had decided to go it alone in areas where Congress refused to act to his satisfaction. In a system of shared powers, one would expect an outcry or at least stony silence when a president promised to circumvent the legislative branch. Instead, many senators and representatives erupted in rapturous applause; they seemed delighted at the notion of a president assuming unprecedented and unchecked powers at their expense.

Last week, Obama underlined what this means for our system: The administration unilaterally increased the transition time for individuals to obtain the level of insurance mandated by the Affordable Care Act. There is no statutory authority for the change — simply the raw assertion of executive power.

The United States is at a constitutional tipping point: The rise of an uber presidency unchecked by the other two branches.

The Washington Examiner - Obama threatens vetoes of bills requiring him to follow the law:
President Obama is threatening to veto a law that would allow Congress to sue him in federal courts for arbitrarily changing or refusing to enforce federal laws because it "violates the separation of powers" by encroaching on his presidential authority.

"[T]he power the bill purports to assign to Congress to sue the President over whether he has properly discharged his constitutional obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed exceeds constitutional limitations," the White House Office of Management and Budget said Wednesday in a statement of administration policy. "Congress may not assign such power to itself, nor may it assign to the courts the task of resolving such generalized political disputes."

The lead sponsor of the measure, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said it was designed to curb Obama's abuse of presidential authority, most notably in his frequent changes to Obamacare.
However, one of the jobs of the Chief Executive of the United States spelled out under the Constitution that Obama swore twice to uphold and defend is:
...he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed....
NOT "...he shall decide which parts of the Laws will or won't be enforced today...."

Also from the Washington Examiner - 'Most transparent' White House ever rewrote the FOIA to suppress politically sensitive docs:
It's Sunshine Week, so perhaps some enterprising White House reporter will ask press secretary Jay Carney why President Obama rewrote the Freedom of Information Act without telling the rest of America.

The rewrite came in an April 15, 2009, memo from then-White House Counsel Greg Craig instructing the executive branch to let White House officials review any documents sought by FOIA requestors that involved "White House equities."

That phrase is nowhere to be found in the FOIA, yet the Obama White House effectively amended the law to create a new exception to justify keeping public documents locked away from the public.
Rewriting the Freedom of Information Act is also not within the powers of the Executive.

Of course, as he took office Obama promised:


"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."
But that was January of 2009, and as we've learned, all of Obama's promises have an expiration date.  Apparently that date was April 15.

"Rule of Law" is defined by Webster's as "adherence to due process of law :  government by law."  But when the government is obviously not adhering to the law, what then?

Several years ago, Steven Den Beste wrote in his essay Non-European Country:
The apparent similarities between Europe and the US are entirely cosmetic. ("The US and UK are two peoples divided by a common language.")

The differences are deep and profound, because we are held together by an idea, and Europeans do not have any equivalent. And both the cosmetic similarities and the deep differences manifest most clearly in our concept of liberty, for our concept of liberty is utterly unlike the European concept of "freedom". It covers some of the same ground, but that is at best coincidence. And there are many, many differences.

Our freedom of speech and the press are critically different. In large parts of Europe, hate speech is a crime. But in America, hate speech is protected speech. So when a French judge tried to order an American company to remove Nazi symbols from their site in the US, an American judge told the French judge to get stuffed.

Americans may use deadly force to defend themselves and their property. A Brit who shoots a burglar in his home may land in prison. An American who does the same will probably be treated as a hero. That idea we share admits of no other conclusion; the man who kills a dangerous intruder in his home proves his dedication to that idea as strongly as anyone can without serving the nation in wartime.

A lot of Europeans don't understand why Americans of good conscience can hate what the Nazis stand for and also believe that their symbols should not be suppressed. They don't understand why so many of us are so opposed to gun control. But that's because they don't even understand that those are part of the same thing. They're both aspects of that idea we all share.

It is that idea which explains why Americans may use deadly force to defend a total stranger, and why so many of us actually will do so. And it is that idea which explains why it is that we have not "gotten over" the attacks in September of 2001, and why we're not going to.

And if I've learned anything in the last two years, what I've learned is that it is an idea which is totally foreign to the European mindset, or at least the mindset that dominates Europe's chattering classes and polity and most of its press.
In his 2010 speech at the Cato Institute, George F. Will expanded on the thing that makes us different from Europeans:
Fifty-one days ago now, the President signed into law the Health Care Reform, the great lunge to complete the new deal project, and the Great Society project. The great lunge to make us more European. At exactly the moment that this is done the European Ponzi scheme of the social welfare state is being revealed for what it is. There's a difference. We are not Europeans, we are not in Orwell's phrase "a state-broken people." We do not have a feudal background of subservience to the State. No, that is the project of the current administration. It can be boiled down to "Learned feudalism."
UPDATED to add:

Alexis de Tocqueville published the first volume of his opus Democracy in America in 1835 - less than 50 years after the ratification of the Constitution.  From Chapter VI, titled "What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear," comes this passage:
I seek to trace the novel features under which despotism may appear in the world. The first thing that strikes the observation is an innumerable multitude of men, all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives. Each of them, living apart, is as a stranger to the fate of all the rest; his children and his private friends constitute to him the whole of mankind. As for the rest of his fellow citizens, he is close to them, but he does not see them; he touches them, but he does not feel them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone; and if his kindred still remain to him, he may be said at any rate to have lost his country.

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things;it has predisposed men to endure them and often to look on them as benefits.

After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.
(My emphasis.)  Which pretty much defines "a state-broken people."  End of edit.

Will continued later in his speech:
We see in the rampant indebtedness of our country and the European countries what someone has called "a gluttonous feast on the flesh of the future." We see the infantilization of publics that become inert and passive, waiting for the state to take care of them. One statistic: 50% of all Americans 55 years old or older have less than $50,000 in savings and investment.

The feast on the flesh of the future is what debt is. To get a sense of the size of our debt, in 1916, midway in Woodrow Wilson's first term, the richest man in America John D. Rockefeller could have written a personal check and retired the National Debt. Today the richest man in America, Bill Gates, could write a personal check for all his worth and not pay two months interest on the National Debt. Five years from now interest debt service will consume half of all income taxes. Ten years from now the three main entitlements, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security plus interest will consume 93% of all federal revenues. Twenty years from now debt service interest will be the largest item in the federal budget.
"The project," I have come to believe, IS to make us a "state-broken people," inert and passive, waiting for the state to take care of us.

But we are Americans, not Europeans, and we are not yet (and I hope never will be) a state-broken people.

Glenn Reynolds has a recurring theme at Instapundit - that Congress doesn't pass a lot of legislation that could actually do some good because "they provide too few opportunities for graft." I wish he was being humorous, but I'm certain he is not. He has a couple of others concerning pitchforks, and Tar. Feathers.
If citizens cannot trust that laws will be enforced in an evenhanded and honest fashion, they cannot be said to live under the rule of law. Instead, they live under the rule of men corrupted by the law.
― Dale Carpenter, Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas


When government acts according to no limit but its own discretion – when the citizen can only know what the rules are after the ruler announces them, and only for that moment, until the ruler changes them again – the citizen’s rights are insecure; he is vulnerable to the self-interested or abusive acts of the ruler. He cannot make plans or deal with others safely and rationally. These evils follow regardless of whether the arbitrary power is wielded by a monarch or by a democratic voting majority.
― Timothy Sandefur, The Conscience of the Constitution

The rule of law can be wiped out in one misguided, however well-intentioned, generation.
William T. Gossett
Our government is well down the path to lawlessness.  As it goes, we follow.  When people no longer trust the system, they stop relying on it.  When they stop trusting the government, they stop obeying it.

Og over at Neanderpundit wrote an interesting piece recently - Watch This Space.  Pullquote:
At some point the regulations and laws will make it impossible for businesses of certain sizes to survive, and then things will change dramatically. People will turn to practices that are illegal in order to make a living, just as the oppression of communism drove commerce underground. We are very near to that tipping point; I see people doing riskier and riskier things to stay afloat. Do not confuse illegal with immoral; and do not assign moral values to legislators- in the main, they have none to impart.

American industry is prepared to do what it has to, to get through the coming shitstorm. And it will involve, in many cases, bending, skirting, or downright breaking the law. Are you ready? Can you break the law day in and day out without acting so guilty a cop notices immediately?

In ten years if you cannot you will be in trouble.
I'm not so sure it's that far away. After all, if Harvey Silverglate is right, business operators (and everyone else) are currently committing three felonies a day. Prosecutors just haven't set their sights on them (or us) yet. 

But if they haven't broken us to the State by the time all those spinning plates start falling off their sticks, well, as I've said before, our "austerity protests" are going to be SPECTACULAR.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Quote of the Day - A 911 Dispatcher's View

I'm fortunate to never have had a personal moment where I've needed a firearm - though I've had a handful of situations that fortunately deescalated before I felt the need to draw my firearm. That being said, I live in many many of other peoples moments where they are glad to have a firearm or wishing they had one.

I'm a 9-1-1 and police dispatcher.

It is not uncommon for one of two scenarios to play out for me when a homeowner calls in what they suspect is someone breaking into their house (sometimes it is a false alarm going off, or a drunk banging on the door, or legitimate home invasions - but it always is real to these people when they are waiting for police.)
1.They have a gun and they usually listen to my advice to patiently maintain a defensive stance in bedroom or with kids in kids bedroom. Wait for police to arrive.
2.They do not have a gun and they spend the same time either hiding in complete fear, arming themselves with utterly ridiculous items (seriously I've had grown men tell me they are armed with a wiffle bat.), or spend the whole time worrying about if the police will get there in time.

In my professional opinion the majority of people in group 1 while being afraid enough to call police generally do ok knowing they have a viable means for defense. The people in group 2 generally wish at that moment they were a member of group 1, and owned a firearm.

*there is a very minority group of people who have chosen to arm themselves with other weaponry with varying levels of practicality and are more similar to group 1. Samurai swords, throwing knives, crossbows, etc... I respect but question their choice of defensive weapons over a firearm but they generally seem confident.

James Darkhollow's answer to the question "What are some specific examples where being a gun owner got you out of a bad situation?" at Quora.com

Monday, March 17, 2014

Hi There!

Yes, this is a blog - one of those dying things that are being replaced by Facebook™ and Twitter® and other Social Media© platforms.

I'm supposed to be posting something to it every day in order to maintain traffic and reader feedback.

FAIL!!

I am, however, working on a new überpost, which is a format not supported by Facebook or Twitter or any of those other media outlets.  We'll see if I actually finish this one.

Stand by.  It may be a few days.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Gun...Pr0n?

Stumbled across these two ... abortions on the web:



That's a S&W .500 Magnum snubbie with a "tribal" paint job.

Just, why?

Then there's this:



All 'bout the Benjamins!

Please pardon me while I hurl....

If You Haven't Read It...

...pop over to Rummel's place and read his old essay Confessions of a Deathbeast.  It disappeared for a while, but I asked him about it, and he reposted.

Bill Whittle

In keeping with my recent practice of "no new original content," here's Bill Whittle's latest Afterburner - Gulliver, Unbound:

)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Kabuki Theater

According to Wikipedia:
Kabuki is a classical Japanese dance-drama. Kabuki theatre is known for the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by some of its performers.
The individual kanji, from left to right, mean sing, dance, and skill. Kabuki is therefore sometimes translated as "the art of singing and dancing". These are, however, ateji characters which do not reflect actual etymology. The kanji of 'skill' generally refers to a performer in kabuki theatre. Since the word kabuki is believed to derive from the verb kabuku, meaning "to lean" or "to be out of the ordinary", kabuki can be interpreted as "avant-garde" or "bizarre" theatre.
Apparently, it can also mean "Senate Democrats Trying Desperately to Change the Subject."
In the summer of 2010, it was Harry Reid, the Senate’s Democratic leader, who squelched his party’s efforts to pass a climate change bill, declaring it could never attract enough votes to pass. In the years since, he has rarely spoken publicly about the issue.
But on Monday night, an impassioned Mr. Reid took to the Senate floor to kick off a nearly 15-hour climate-change talkathon by about 30 Senate Democrats, part of a campaign by a new Senate "climate caucus" to make it a politically urgent issue.
Yeah, it's "politically urgent," all right. Getting Obamacare off the front page is their FIRST priority.


Edited to add:

I stumbled across something that fits this post perfectly. From James Lileks a while back:
If everyone in America had been tied to a chair and forced to watch the debate Clockwork-Orange style, we'd all realize that the Senate is just a holding tank for people whose self-regard and cretinous reasoning is matched only by their demonstrable contempt for the idiots they think will lap this crap up.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Live One! Part II

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, in playing over at Quora.com I managed to draw a Wall-'o-Text comment from one Alex Nuginski, to which I gave an (uncharacteristically) brief reply.  He responded.  So I fisked.  (His quotes have the colored background and are in italics.)
Yes, my reply did require some thought and prior research that I had done in the past... you might consider the same for your replies.

Dude, you have NO IDEA what you’re asking for.  I freaking LIVE for this.  You want Wall-‘o-Text, I’ll GIVE you Wall-‘o-Text:

1) "The bipartisan Manchin-Toomey bill to extend background checks to gun shows and Internet sales has died in the Senate. It got 54 votes, but that wasn't enough to overcome what was essentially a Republican filibuster. - April 2013 - Washington Post"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/bl...


Yeah, so?

2) Personal insults?  "Tea Baggers" is the initial name choice that those who now call themselves the "Tea Party" chose for themselves before they figured out the urban meaning of that phrase, so I am merely respecting their original name for themselves.

You?  Respect?  I've read some of your other comments.  Don't make me laugh.

3) How does the NRA get a cut from every gun sale?  Here ya go!...

"How The Gun Industry Funnels Tens Of Millions Of Dollars To The NRA"

http://www.businessinsider.com/g...


QUOTE:

"Since 2005, the gun industry and its corporate allies have given between $20 million and $52.6 million to it through the NRA Ring of Freedom sponsor program. Donors include firearm companies like Midway USA, Springfield Armory Inc, Pierce Bullet Seal Target Systems, and Beretta USA Corporation. Other supporters from the gun industry include Cabala's, Sturm Rugar & Co, and Smith & Wesson.

The NRA also made $20.9 million — about 10 percent of its revenue — from selling advertising to industry companies marketing products in its many publications in 2010, according to the IRS Form 990.

Additionally, some companies donate portions of sales directly to the NRA. Crimson Trace, which makes laser sights, donates 10 percent of each sale to the NRA.

Taurus buys an NRA membership for everyone who buys one of their guns. Sturm Rugar[sic] gives $1 to the NRA for each gun sold, which amounts to millions. The NRA's revenues are intrinsically linked to the success of the gun business.

The NRA Foundation also collects hundreds of thousands of dollars from the industry, which it then gives to local-level organizations for training and equipment purchases."

UNQUOTE


So Sturm Ruger and Taurus, Springfield, Smith & Wesson and Beretta donate to the NRA.  And many BUY advertising! In GUN MAGAZINES!  (And I wold like to point out that Taurus OFFERS an NRA membership with every gun sold, but that hardly means that they get taken up on the offer every time. Lots of buyers are already members.) But your assertion was – and I QUOTE: “the NRA, who gets a cut from every legally sold gun…”

Not “Crimson Trace.”  Not “Midway USA,” not “Pierce Bullet Seal Target System,” EVERY GUN MANUFACTURER.  Now, are you insinuating that Armalite, Astra, Browning/FN, Colt, Glock, Heckler & Koch, IMI, Izmash, Remington, Shiloh Sharps, Sig Sauer, Tanfoglio, Walther, Weatherby, Norinco, Zastava, CZ, MKE, Miroku, Pietta, Pedersoli, and literally HUNDREDS of smaller manufacturers have a checkbox on their invoices marked “cut for NRA” or not?  Sure looked that way to me.

“Since 2005, the gun industry and its corporate allies have given between $20 million and $52.6 million to it through the NRA Ring of Freedom sponsor program.”  OK, let’s assume it’s on the high end, $52.6 million since 2005.  And, let’s assume that the cutoff is 2010 for the most recent data when that piece was published, so six years.  $52,600,000 / 6 = is $8,766,667 PER YEAR.  If the NRA is getting “a cut from every legally sold gun” it’s a damned small cut.

The number of NEW guns manufactured in the U.S. PER YEAR according to the ATF:

2005:  2,163,864 Page on atf.gov

2006:  3,268,255 Page on atf.gov

2007:  3,531,279 Page on atf.gov

2008:  3,866,444 http://www.atf.gov/files/statist...

2009: 5,008,623 Page on atf.gov

2010:  4,900,313 Page on atf.gov

That’s (carry the one…) 26,270,057 firearms manufactured over the period where the NRA got (at most) $52.6 million from the ENTIRE “firearms industry,” including many, many companies that don’t MAKE guns or even SELL them.  Being insanely generous, you’re looking at a whopping $2 per gun! 

Now, look at 2010.  Here’s the NRA’s IRS Form 990 for that year:

Page on documentcloud.org

Their income was listed:

$12,573,541 from “related organizations.”  That would be, for example, the rifle range I’m a member of.

$58,572,260 from “all other contributions, grants, gifts, and similar amounts not included above.”  I’m going to assume the monies from Crimson Trace, Midway USA and Pierce Target Systems and the like are included here, but are hardly exclusive. That’s money retailers get from people like ME, when I buy stuff and when I use their “NRA Roundup” option to support the NRA.

$6,552,336 from “Program fees.”

$100,531,465 from “Member dues.”  I’m a Life member.  I don’t pay dues anymore, but I do occasionally write them a check that goes into that pile two line-items above.

$852,154 from “Investment income.”

There’s a lot more, but total revenue for 2010 was listed as $227,811,279.  Total guns manufactured in 2010 were 4,900,313.  At $2 per gun, that’s $9,800,626, or LESS THAN 5% of total income, and I’m being INSANELY generous here.  So, the “gun industry funnels millions of dollars to the NRA.”  Granted. 

What’s your point?  "The NRA's revenues are intrinsically linked to the success of the gun business."  Yeah, so?  The overwhelming majority of their funding comes from sources other than the firearm industry.  The American Automobile Association's revenues are "intrinsically linked to the success" of the automobile industry.  What I don't get is why this important to you.

4)  Again, you failed to tell me how you can tell the difference between a law abiding citizen and a citizen who wants a gun for nefarious reasons, whether they be convicted felons with a criminal record or just felon wannabes who have no record.

How do internet gun sales people distinguish the difference between a criminal or an illegal gun dealer and a law abiding citizen?  It seems you fail to address that issue because you can't respond in a logical way.


Sure I can.  We can’t.  We’re prohibited by law from using the NICS system without transferring through a licensed dealer.  But generally, I’m not worried that the guy I sold a Marlin lever-action .30-30 rifle to was going to use it to hold up a liquor store, or the guy I sold a Mossberg 500 shotgun to was going to use it to whack his neighbor.  I figure if Joe Felon wants a gun, he’ll get it from the same guy he gets his weed or his meth from, or his cousin Sumdood.

I do have an idea how to make this work without having to go through the background check, but I doubt you’d be interested in hearing about it, given your obvious political proclivities.

5) Requiring full background checks for internet gun sales and gun show sales IS NOT making sales of guns in those places illegal... that is something that you apparently cannot differentiate.

Did I say it was?  Please, point out where, specifically.

6) As far as giving a gun to someone as a gift, YES, I think that ANYONE who will the[sic] take ownership of that gun should go through a background check and gun licensing procedures.

I’m glad we’ve got that out of the way.

You guys love the comparison of guns to cars so much, then there it is... if you get a car as a gift, you STILL have to get a driver's license, requiring weeks of education and training, and then getting the car registered is a seperate procedure... it SHOULD BE same for guns, with maybe at least a 3 day gun safety and training course instead of 6 or more weeks for a car.  There, I'd say I'm being pretty generous there.

I love this comparison?  Actually I’m tired of it, but here we go:  If I don’t drive it on public roads, I need neither a driver’s license nor vehicle registration.  There’s no limit on the horsepower it has, how much fuel it can carry, or whether it has a manual or fully-automatic transmission.  I can buy a muffler for it at any parts store without paying a $200 tax and requiring an extensive background check and sign-off by a local chief law enforcement officer.  Neither licensing nor registration prevents me from using the vehicle illegally or prevents accidents.  I’d say your argument is empty.

7) Guns stats for England and Australia compared to the U.S. that were in my original post above...
________

Homicides-2013:
AUSTRALIA:  13,000 gun homicides
UNITED KINGDOM:  4,000 gun homicides
UNITED STATES:  360,000 gun homicides

Adjusted for population size:
AUSTRALIA:  22.68 million people
UNITED KINGDOM: 63.23 million people
UNITED STATES:  313.9 million people

The   U.S. population is 13.84 times the size of the Australian   population, but it has a gun murder rate 27.69 times as high.

The U.S. population is 4.96 times the size of the U.K. population, but it has a gun murder rate 90 times as high.


What happened to your meticulous sourcing? 360,000 “gun homicides” in the U.S. in 2013?  4,000 in the UK?  What color is the sky on YOUR planet?  The most recent data I’ve seen comes from the FBI Preliminary Six-Month Crime Stats for 2013 Releasedand it’s for only the first six months of 2013:

“In the violent crime category, forcible rape was down 10.6 percent, murder was down 6.9 percent, aggravated assault decreased 6.6 percent, and robbery was down 1.8 percent.” 

The stats for 2012 showed TOTAL homicide in the U.S. in 2012 at 16,259 with firearms being the cause of death in 11,078 of them: FASTSTATS - Homicide

Get better stats.  Then we can talk.  Or, you know, not.

8) So skipping a lot of what I wrote buys you a lot of credibility, I guess then, right?  Well, I guess that's worked for Republicans in the past, so you fit right in.

I skipped a lot of what you copied-and-pasted.  This is the comment section of a Quora answer. If you want to write Wall-‘o-Text comments, you really should start a blog.

Or therapy.

9)  Tell me what hand gun (besides an Uzi) or rifle (besides a semi-automatic or fully automatic rifle) can kill 27 people in THREE DIFFERENT CLASSROOMS consecutively in less than 3 minutes, please.  One would need to have the children lined up and standing still to kill as many with a handgun, reloading, then continuing to fire.

Pretty much anything that holds more than one or two rounds.  As illustrated in that video you just ignored.  Here’s another you can ignore:



And another:



Jerry’s using a revolver in this one.  He’s hella-fast, but you’re talking 27 aimed shots in THREE MINUTES.  Not a problem for Joe Nutcase unless he's missing a hand.

A guy I know tried to make the argument that Adam Lanza or James Holmes could have killed just as many children and adults with a knife if the knife had poison on the blade, provided that he got the poisoned knife in their jugular vein.  Yes, if all the people lined up and tipped their heads back and stood still, perhaps with one big poison knife blade slash, one could do that.

Your argument, Kevin, is just as ridiculous.


We’re not talking about knives, Alex, we’re talking about firearms.  And you're arguing with ME, not "a guy" you know.  YOU’RE the one insisting that the AR-15 type rifles used by Lanza and Holmes were absolutely necessary in the infliction of large scale deaths.  I’m merely pointing out that YOUR argument is ridiculous.

10)  Obama and the Democrats in Congress proposed extended background checks (see link at the top of this post) but it is the gun snugglers like you who keep interjecting gun ban hysteria, going in to some kind of "nam myoho renge kyo" type chant about the 2nd amendment whenever background checks come up, so THAT'S why I refer to the banning of some semi-automatic weapons, which does make perfect sense to me, however it has nothing to do with the topic of extended background checks, in spite of efforts by people like you trying to tie the two together.

OK, let’s look at this argument.  You, personally, support a ban on semi-auto weapons.  You seem to believe that extending the background check system to all firearms transfers would somehow help prevent these mass shootings.  I don’t get the association, since Lanza’s mother DID undergo a background check for the weapons she purchased, and Lanza killed her to take them from her.  Holmes also passed a background check each time he purchased one of the four firearms he used in Aurora.  He also bought explosive materials that he used to booby-trap his apartment.  Why he didn’t use bombs in the theater, we’ll never know.

But as for bans, how’s that working out in Connecticut? Massive civil disobedience.  I thought Lefties were all for civil disobedience?

How do you take something if you don’t know where it is and the possessor of it doesn’t want to give it up?  How does a background check system work if you don't know who owns what?

11)  I would fathom that your study can be traced back to some NRA sponsored Repblican[sic] think tank (oxymoron) or "The Herritage Foundation" or "Freedom Something or Other", or the Koch brothers, like so many gun, health insurance and anti-gay studies can be traced back to.

Is your tinfoil hat a little tight?  You want sources?  The 2007 United Nations Small Arms Survey estimated that the number of firearms in private hands in the U.S. was between 270,000,000 and 290,000,000.  Page on smallarmssurvey.orgI refer you back to the 2008, 2009, and 2010 ATF production reports and ask you to extrapolate on to 2011, 2012 and 2013. I don’t think you can argue convincingly that the UN Small Arms Survey is “NRA sponsored” or a tool of the eeeeeeeeeeeevil Koch Brothers.  The 100 million estimate for the 1980’s comes from a study commissioned by the Carter administration in 1979, published as Under the Gun:  Weapons, Crime and Violence in America in 1983.  It’s available at Amazon.  Interesting read.

Here are my stats, again, not sponsored by any politically affiliated group...

Gun crime statistics by US state
http://www.theguardian.com/news/...

"Gun ownership globally: US ranks first, ahead of Yemen"

"The United Stateshas 88 firearms per 100 people. Yemen, the second highest gun ownership country in the world has 54.8."


Note that your Guardian link shows the number of firearm-related homicide in 2012 at 8,855, not 360,000.  DO try to be consistent.  And note that the Guardian also puts the number of guns in the U.S. at “roughly 35-50% of the world’s civilian-owned guns.”  The statistical error-bars on that number are pretty high. Me?  I’m going with the Small Arms Survey.

This Washington Post article has some telling facts on the subject of gun violence, and not all of it favors my argument, but much of it does, so in all fairness, I included it.

Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States
http://www.washingtonpost.com/bl...


Yet your argument was – and I quote – “It's a simple equation - more guns, more guns deaths.”  Your own link illustrates your error.  I repeat:  The number of guns in the U.S. has increased threefold since the 1980’s, yet the rate of “gun deaths” over the last fifteen to twenty years has declined dramatically.  Your “simple equation” is simply incorrect.

Wikipedia:
Gun violence in the United States
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun...

"During the 1980s and early 1990s, homicide rates surged in cities across the United States (see graphs at right).
wikipedia.org
[26]
Handgun homicides accounted for nearly all of the overall increase in   the homicide rate, from 1985 to 1993, while homicide rates involving   other weapons declined during that time frame."

But YOU want to ban semi-automatic RIFLES.  I fail to see the logic.

For further damning facts and links, please refer to my original reply, above.

Your turn now, Kevin, but try to keep it accurate and truthful this time.


THIS TIME?  I’M not the one claiming 360,000 “gun deaths” in 2013.  I’m not the one claiming “more guns, more gun deaths.”  I’m not the one claiming that background checks will somehow stop mass shootings in some kind of underpants gnomes logic:



Step 1:  Universal Background Checks
Step 2: ?
Step 3:  No more rampage shootings!

It's been fun playing with you, Nugi, but really, the comments to Quora questions is NOT the forum for this  kind of thing.