Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A resource: 'The Secret History of Guns' from The Atlantic

It was some years ago now that I recall being impressed by an article at The Atlantic regarding "the gun issue".  That was The False Promise of Gun Control, by one Daniel Polsby.  Perfect?  Nah, but what is?  Nonetheless...it was thoughtful, dispassionate, nontrivial, and drew rational conclusions from an analysis of history--hell, it read like actual reporting, which distinguished it from almost everything else at the time (then as now).

Well lookee here.  The Atlantic's Adam Winkler has given us another capital-R resource:  The Secret History of Guns.  For a tease:

The Fourteenth Amendment illustrates a common dynamic in America’s gun culture: extremism stirs a strong reaction. The aggressive Southern effort to disarm the freedmen prompted a constitutional amendment to better protect their rights. A hundred years later, the Black Panthers’ brazen insistence on the right to bear arms led whites, including conservative Republicans, to support new gun control. Then the pendulum swung back. The gun-control laws of the late 1960s, designed to restrict the use of guns by urban black leftist radicals, fueled the rise of the present-day gun-rights movement—one that, in an ironic reversal, is predominantly white, rural, and politically conservative.

There is so much right in this article, it's hard to explain.  Winkler does an outstanding job of cataloguing all the main characters, in context, including most of the substantive warts that partisans of "both sides" continually gloss over.  Just read the whole thing;  it is perhaps the best executive summary of how we got to the sorry pass we're in that I have yet seen.

Another tease:

After the February incident, the Panthers began a regular practice of policing the police. Thanks to an army of new recruits inspired to join up when they heard about Newton’s bravado, groups of armed Panthers would drive around following police cars. When the police stopped a black person, the Panthers would stand off to the side and shout out legal advice.

Don Mulford, a conservative Republican state assemblyman from Alameda County, which includes Oakland, was determined to end the Panthers’ police patrols. To disarm the Panthers, he proposed a law that would prohibit the carrying of a loaded weapon in any California city. When Newton found out about this, he told Seale, “You know what we’re going to do? We’re going to the Capitol.” Seale was incredulous. “The Capitol?” Newton explained: “Mulford’s there, and they’re trying to pass a law against our guns, and we’re going to the Capitol steps.” Newton’s plan was to take a select group of Panthers “loaded down to the gills,” to send a message to California lawmakers about the group’s opposition to any new gun control.

The Panthers’ methods provoked an immediate backlash. The day of their statehouse protest, lawmakers said the incident would speed enactment of Mulford’s gun-control proposal. Mulford himself pledged to make his bill even tougher, and he added a provision barring anyone but law enforcement from bringing a loaded firearm into the state capitol.

Fantastic.  And these really are little teases;  there's much more there and it's all worth it.

If you already knew all this:  please, recognize it as the resource it is and help share it with others.  The Atlantic can reach an audience that cranks like you and I, though we may say exactly the same thing, cannot reach.

If you didn't already know about some or any of this:  please, digest it all, and reconsider "what you know" about any political issue.  (Hint:  at the level of the incentive-driven ballet among their respective players,  they're all the same.)  If you've ever wondered why an increasing number of "gunnies" now refer to NRA as "the nation's oldest and largest gun-control organization", or why disarmament freaks can actually find some solace in American history*, you will find out here.

Kudos, Winkler.  This is a valuable resource.

Hat tip to Vanderboegh, who would (quite rightly) contest Winkler's statement that the NRA is "the unquestioned leader in the fight against gun control".  Vanderboegh is also savvy enough to call Malcolm X on the technicality of his otherwise admirable statement, "Article number two of the constitutional amendments provides you and me the right to own a rifle or a shotgun."  (The Second Amendment provides no such thing, it merely recognizes a right that all human beings have already, and simply prohibits the State from infringing it.  It is truly a technicality;  the real point Malcolm X is trying to make is perfectly valid, and I suspect that he would not have blinked at a simple word change making it clear that even without the Second Amendment, every human still has the right to arm in self-defense.)

* I find it absolutely telling (and delightful) that the disarmament partisans still have no idea how to articulate the sort of historic support for their cause that Winkler effortlessly documents here.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The eggs and ham are really green from the poisonous mold.

From a Facebook friend:

Dr Seuss 2011
I do not like this Uncle Sam, I do not like his health care scam. I do not like these dirty crooks, or how they lie and cook the books. I do not like when Congress steals, I do not like their secret deals. I do not like ex-speaker Nan, I do not like this 'YES WE CAN'..I do not like this spending spree, I'm smart, I know that nothing's free. I do not like their smug replies, when I complain about their lies. I do not like this kind of hope. I do not like it. nope, nope, nope.

Cute...as long as the ending of the book is updated too.  In the modernized story, we have already "tried" green eggs and ham...and, to quote Chevy Chase from Spies Like Us:

So, uh, thanks for the bruises and you can keep the stool samples...

Trust that first thought.  You do not like this Uncle Sam.  You do not like what he has planned.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Maybe S&P just didn't understand...

More theater of the absurd.

So S&P warned clearly that a downgrade (of the US' AAA credit rating) was possible, and then they clearly stated what conditions were necessary to avoid it, and then they reiterated their warning when it became obvious that "we" weren't coming anywhere close to meeting the necessary conditions to maintain the rating...and when the Unicorn Army in DC blew its final-pixie-dust-answer at them, carried through on the downgrade.

Scoundrels!  Let's investigate 'em!

A Senate Banking Committee Panel has initiated an investigation of S&P regarding the decision to downgrade the U.S. credit rating. Timothy Geithner & Co. claim that S&P’s decision is based on erroneous information created by human error that overstates national debt projections.

The strategy, of course, should be eminently familiar to any observer of the state and its customary machinations:  bicker intramurally about whether Team Red or Team Blue is to blame for public anger, threaten everyone who questions its infinite wisdom (moreso in times of crisis), and above all proceed as if nothing is wrong and everyone agrees.

The funniest part about all this, of course, is that it's a great reminder that our "leaders" are so completely unfamiliar with the very concept of "if...then...else" honesty that they simply could not fathom its practice by anyone they'd choose to deal with.

H/Ts to Denninger and De Coster.

Get used to this.

Put aside, for the nonce, minor considerations of detail, and also put aside the more important consideration that politics will not, cannot solve this problem because it was politics that made this problem fully and completely inevitable in the first place. This isn't about those things.

Just watch.  Do not make the mistake of stopping it too soon--just watch.

That was beautiful.  Simply, elementally beautiful.

Now I don't know this Dylan Ratigan from Adam;  I suspect there may be much we might disagree on in the course of an evening's discussion.  Doesn't matter.

It's also possible that he's actually acting here;  after all it does seem to be the Dylan Ratigan Show.  If so, I would say that his acting was good, but ultimately that doesn't matter either.

None of that changes the sheer, raw beauty of the setup and explosion:  the standard setting and launch of the discussion, the entirely predictable bickering among the cookie-cutter partisan players...we've all seen that before a zillion times, haven't we?  The inane, "file-photo" bickerfest is usually followed by some sort of Final Word by either the designated protagonist-expert or the show host (pimping whatever Establishment wing they're beholden to), and we hardly even blink anymore when their words get "heated"...mostly because even the "hottest" words are all just talking points, delivered with all the conviction of a phone-book recitation.

Not here.  Ratigan explodes (check out the multiple stereoscopic winces of the bickering babes--it's fantastic), and I can't imagine an actor who could do it more genuinely.  Best of all, the Team Blue and Team Red representatives had nothing in return.  (They still have no idea why people are so pissed off.  None.)

Caveats aside, I loved it.  More of that, please.

(Hat tip to Karl Denninger.)

Friday, August 5, 2011

'Point out to me one Libertarian society on this planet.'

Had to do it.  From the comments to this juvenile screed, of the "we mock what we quite clearly don't understand" category:

"I asked you to point out to me one Libertarian society on this planet."

There's a lot more "I sure don't get it, but I sure can add my unbridled snark to reprinted talking points" in there, but that really sums it up.  To which, of course, I had to say:

And you cannot even conceive the boundless irony in that, can you?

You are so beholden to the idea that any society must, ipso facto, be of a vertically-aligned structure that looks like a recognizable state to your "I have a hammer" eyes, that you are either literally incapable, or simply unwilling, to see something so simple as an actual alternative to what you have so carefully been taught.

Are you one of those who would believe that the pre-Incas were primitive simply because they didn't leave us a written record?

Kent is right when he says that "anarchy" (absent the truly sophomoric pejorative snarl which so often accompanies the term) exists in and around us, all the time, every day. It is the only method of interacting with other human beings that I know of which can effectively exist and even thrive, while fully trapped within other systems which are entirely committed to its destruction. (As opposed to, say, traditional authoritarian states, which we have been reminded very recently can topple simply by the withdrawal of sufficient consent!) I marvel at it every day, because it makes human beings out of "the people", and continuously reminds me how magnificent human beings are, stripped of the influence of "legitimate" forcible compulsion.

Meanwhile, the onanistic charade of bickering about the size, shape, and permissible content of the "legitimate" mob--as though such rearrangement is suddenly going to start doing what it never has done before--continues.

And like any crusade, the crusaders' greatest bile and contempt is reserved not for any of their intramural enemies, which after all are pretty much directly fungible, but rather for the heretics, who ruin the whole exercise by pointing out what might otherwise be obvious to normal people: you could actually try something different.

And now, to sit back and watch  what happens.  I'll take it as a compliment if it never gets printed, as that will not only indicate that he's got no response, but that he knows he's got no response.  More likely, he's just sighted himself a witch, and will duly unleash his FEENOMEENAL KOSMIK POWERS upon my (to quote others) "sad, misguided" observations.

With the caveat that uh, yes, I do understand the difference between Ethiopians and Somalians, this whole exchange reminds me of this great return-of-serve from moviedom:

"Get out of my face Hubbard, or I might just decide you're an Ethiopian."
"You know, you are stupid enough to think that that's an insult."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Grigg, channeling Solzhenitsyn again...

...shit, just spend some time over at Pro Libertate, and pick any random article.  Cross-reference with even the first few chapters of The Gulag Archipelago.  That latter book may be the single most frightening historical document that a modern American could read--because it's in progress, right now, here, where things like that don't happen.

Grigg's most recent rage generator is on "rogue cops"--meaning peace officers rather than law enforcers--and what happens to them when they stray from the Cheka playbook:

Witness the case of former Austin Police Department Officer Ramon Perez, who joined the force as a 41-year-old rookie cop because of a sincere desire to protect people from crime. During a January 2005 domestic violence incident, Perez refused an order by a superior officer, Robert Paranich, to use his Taser on an elderly man who was not a threat to himself or anybody else.

Owing to the fact that the subject was a frail man of advanced years, Perez was understandably concerned that the portable electro-shock torture device would kill him. Furthermore, using the Taser in that situation would have violated the explicit provisions of the Austin PD’s Taser Policy. Perez was able to resolve the situation through de-escalation, rather than by using potentially lethal force to “impose authority.”

Two days later, Perez was given what could only be considered a punitive transfer to the night shift. Two months later, following a second incident in which Perez chose de-escalation over armed compulsion, he was invited to what he was told would be a “counseling” session with the APD’s staff psychologist, Carol Logan. The purpose of that meeting, Perez was told, was to help him develop better “communication skills” with his fellow officers. In fact, it was a disguised “fit-for-duty review” convened to find a pretext to purge the probationary officer from the force before the “rogue cop” could infect others with his respect for individual rights.

There's lots more, as usual, over at Grigg's site, and it's hard to actually stop once you start seeing all the parallels with Solzhenitsyn.  They're everywhere.

And they cut both ways, too.  When you start to get depressed that we're just hurtling toward the same conclusions with no one seeming to care, remember that huge numbers of the Only One faithful met their own Vasili Blokhin as well.

Get that, thugocrats?  There's always someone Onlier than you.  And that's if you succeed.