Thursday, August 30, 2012

Since it can't happen here...

...then absolutely nothing that William Grigg says here, can possibly be true.

The Republicans learned their lessons well in 1964, when they failed to stop Goldwater from actually achieving a national stage, and ultimately had to resort to sabotaging their own candidate in the general election to keep his libertarian tendencies from infecting the long-term party platform.  It doesn't take a lot of research to discover just how strongly the party leadership feared Goldwater's appeal, nor to figure out where the "he'll push the button!" scare really came from. At any rate, the intrasquad sabotage tactic worked, and we got another four years of the horrific Ell Bee Jay (who may well have come up with the idea himself, if he'd had to).

No more of that shit, now.  Anyone imprudent and impudent enough to try and inject an actual love of liberty into the Republican mainstream will simply be ignored (with as much force as is required) until he goes away*.  In that regard, I've long wondered what makes Ron Paul keep trying, but I think it's now fair to say that he's become even more feared than ol' Barry G was.

Within his text, Grigg presents the following video, which, if authentic, should lay to rest any remaining doubts about how party machines work. 

See how that works?  Maybe you're not getting the message.  How about this?
Alex Helwig, a Ron Paul delegate and Chairman of the Rules Committee, made a formal motion to remove the chair. In a fashion reminiscent of a third world dictatorship, Helwig was seized by Shreveport Police and removed from the room. During his brief detention, Helwig suffered several broken fingers – a punishment favored by Mussolini’s Blackshirts – and when he returned to the event he walked with the aid of a cane.

Any more questions?

Tell me again how replacing the Demon-rats with the Reich-publicans is going to accomplish anything--anything--of substance?

Gawd, my teeth will be happier when these cynical, choreographed circuses we call conventions are over with, and they can all at least pretend to hate each other across the aisle.

* Hm.  Ignore him until he goes away.  Hey, I wonder if that thought would work if the whole populace simply applied the same principle to Washington...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ah, those "highly trained" Only Ones...

It's a little disheartening to hear some otherwise knowledgeable people making excuses for the performance of the NYPD cops who wound up killing this character who shot his boss with one of those things that you're not supposed to have in NYC (you know, handguns).

You know, the two cops who approached to within ten feet or so of this guy, on a busy New York street, and fired sixteen rounds, missing him completely with nine, and hitting him with seven--and hitting several other people with the errant shots, complete penetrations, and fragments.  Just watch the climactic moment:

I've been informed that I should cut the poor coppers some slack, because 1) it's tough to hit someone that's moving, 2) it's tough to hit someone when you're moving, and of course the old saw 3) the Only Ones have had training From On High, of such quality as no mere peon could hope to attain, and so any thought that they could or should have done better is mere "keyboard commando" posturing.

Sorry fellas, that dog won't hunt, and there's several reasons why.

#1.  Grandpa can do it.  With a puny little .380.  And it wasn't two on one, it was one on two.  And both of these bad guys, up to the point of confrontation, carried much more aggressive body language than the "suicide by cop" posture of the NYC shooter above. 

Grandpa had complete control of this situation, and dominated it throughout, with no damage to bystanders. 

#2.  One word:  accountability.  See, here's the big difference between cops and Mundanes when it comes to engaging in a street fight:  we will be held accountable for every round we fire, from when it leaves the barrel until it comes to rest.  We can, and most enthusiastically will, be held responsible for any errant shots that find innocent bystanders.  Make no mistake:  a private citizen would be simply crucified if he performed like NYC's "finest" here.   The anointed enforcement class, however, can spray any quantity of ammunition over the busiest streets in the country, and will not be held accountable for what those errants do at all.  Invariably their actions are found to be "within policy" and above even question, much less reproach;  if you happen to get hit when the shit goes down, well, that's just tough.  See?  They have absolutely no reason not to open fire early and keep on shooting with whatever they've got, to ensure that they "can go home at the end of their shift".   Is it any wonder that private citizens fire fewer rounds and hit their targets more reliably than cops, in street fights?

You gotta love, too, all the ballyhoo that goes along with the selection of police ammunition that is least likely to penetrate the body of "the offender", and endanger someone else on the far side.  What good is any of that when you miss the target completely on a busy street at very nearly tag-you're-it range?

#3.  That "training" of theirs practically guarantees this result.  This is related to the accountability part--how the hell could it not be?--but it goes right to that vaunted "training" of theirs that we're so often reminded separates them from us.  Think, for a moment, of the training mindset that would accept, ethically, breaking a shot on a busy street that you cannot guarantee will hit the target.  As the old saying goes, "you can't miss fast enough to win";  if you are not perfectly sure that you have the shot in hand, you bloody well hold the goddamn shot.  And this is not a matter of marksmanship, either--we can be quite sure that these nine misses came from people who have documentably demonstrated marksmanship beyond the problem of a whole human body at ten feet.  Rather, this is a problem of attention under fire, and of an institutional acceptance that because it is difficult to keep your cool in a firefight, that taking errant shots is a tolerable tactic.

Oh, and when you're trained to "fan out" to make it more difficult to hit the both of you before one of you can hit him back:  the idea is that you do that before he draws down on you.  These two cops came in single-file, and only separated when he visibly produced his pistol, which is awful late in the game.


I'm sure I'll be castigated at some point for being insensitive to the poor enforcers, because it's hard to keep your cool and make good shots when someone is pointing a gun at you.  Well, no shit, Sherlock.  We little people have that problem too, and that's without access to backup, with hardware we usually have to hide, and without a legal system that will bail us out no matter what we do to passersby. 

You can't have it both ways.  If you're going to make yourselves out as better than us because of your elevated status and hi-speed, lo-drag "training", then suck it up and hold your ranks accountable when they underperform;  if on the other hand you're going to try and justify that nobody can do any better when the chips are down, go the fuck home and let those of us who are willing to do so, fend for ourselves without hassle.

If the day ever comes when I fail to avoid a fight, I certainly hope I'm up to the task I've tried to prepare for.  I'll certainly take that gamble over betting my life that one of "the finest" will do a better job for me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ruby Ridge: a disgusting anniversary.

A most disgusting anniversary. (Yes, even the Wikipedia article has enough to make the blood boil.)

On this date twenty years ago, our pious and heroic FedThugs, while sneaking not-so-secretly about the Weaver property trying to plan a suitable way to ambush and arrest Randy Weaver for his refusal to turn snitch after an entrapment ploy and legal railroading convinced him he couldn't get a fair hearing, killed his dog and son and shot at a family friend.

But stay tuned.  Twenty years ago tomorrow, the cynically named "Hostage Rescue Team" (which has a rather ironically more honest acronym, HRT) will shoot Randy too (in the back, while trying to get to the body of his dead son*), and kill his unarmed wife Vicki (standing in the doorway holding her infant daughter), and successfully shoot the same family friend.

And still they're not done.  During the ensuing "siege", why not taunt the survivors over the megaphone?  "Hey Vicki, we're having blueberry pancakes for breakfast.  What are you having?"

Prosecutions come next.  (Of the Weavers, silly.  The thugs were just following orders;  nothing has happened or will happen to them.)  Acquittals or dismissals on every single thing except for Randy's "failure to appear" from the original railroad, even though the state admitted it had given Weaver the wrong court date. 

Get that?  After all this, absolutely nothing stuck.  The legal case was so flimsy the only thing the judge could stomach hanging Weaver on was a technicality--a technicality so ridiculous that it sends its own clear message that some sort of conviction was pre-ordained, so that at least the state could say that it "got a conviction" out of the deal.

And nobody in officialdom was punished in any meaningful way.  As the late Jeff Cooper used to put it, "As far as I can tell, Lon Horiuchi is still walking around free."

But hey, don't get all uppity.  See, Randy Weaver apparently associated with white separatists, and furthermore was a gun owner, and (worse than all that) was distrustful of government, so the "extremist" just musta had it coming.  Not like he ever actually harmed anyone beforehand, of course--nobody seems to claim that.  But, see--and make sure you get the full gravity of this thought--he might have hurt someone.  And so "we" sent "our" noble protectors to ensure--to enforce--that he wouldn't.

And hey, did they not succeed?  Randy Weaver did not, in fact, hurt anyone.

See?  More funding, bitches!

* Perhaps the more recent "first, drone the principal, then drone the funeral" tactic has its official origins here?  Just wonderin'...

Friday, August 17, 2012

"We pay taxes for a reason."

Seen on Facebook, in the middle of yet still another among the True Believer chorus of "the state is noble and inevitable" bloviations:

We pay taxes for a reason.

Well, yes.  Nobody likes the thought of being murdered over money.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hiatus - or at least a change.

There's been a flurry of "documenting" posts lately;  it's been the first step in a housecleaning exercise.  "Housecleaning" in that it is both tying up some outstanding threads and also putting things in order for an intentional hiatus.

You know the example about the jar that represents "filling up" your life, the one into which you need to put the big rocks first, then the little ones, then the pebbles, and finally the sand and water?  If you don't put in the big rocks first, you'll never fit them in after adding the smaller stuff.

I need to work on some big rocks.

I'll still be here, and may possibly record some thoughts regarding the airgun concept, but I need some deliberate time to work on habits that make me happy.

Here's to rejuvenation, awakening, and--I do miss Guitar Craft--beginning again.

You wanna see heroism?

I'm as sick as anyone of the conspicuously modern vulgarity of attaching the word "hero" to anything and everything, which of course renders it increasingly meaningless*.  Just as with this great line from The Incredibles:

Then everyone can be super!  And when everyone is one will be.

With a deep tip of the hat to Claire, I think I've found a standard response to those who insist that something perfectly ordinary for a decent person, or (much worse) something that's actually vile and disgusting (such as the actions of a politician, enforcement thug, or their apologists), deserves to have the term "hero" attached to it.

You wanna see heroism?  Watch this:

I just saw it for the first time a few moments ago (it seems to have been posted back in '09), so I won't claim to have exhaustively determined the veracity of the report.  But Claire doesn't report things lightly, and at any rate it hardly matters to make the point.

For the stubbornly nit-witted:  yes, I understand that "hero" can encompass more than valor and courage, which are what is on display here.  But there is an enormous difference between what you see here, and the actions of, say, a cop who "just wants to come home from his shift" and so administers all sort and manner of unwarranted pre-emptive harassment and/or violence to ensure it.  The dog is a hero, the cop is a thug.  (To those who would remind me to think of the cop's family, I would simply say:  well hell, a whole lot of us Mundanes out here think about our families too, without resorting to using them as an affirmative and cynical justification for any sort of abuse of power you care to imagine.  And unlike anyone in "authority", we actually have to weigh all of that against the consequences of our actions.  Remind me again who the effin' hero is?  'Cause I kinda lost it in all the bullshit.)

* For anyone further interested in a useful discussion, here's one to ponder:  Consider the yin-yang implications of rendering "hero" meaningless among everyday actions.  That's a semantic example.  But how about a more conceptual example?  The whole concept of liberty is predicated on exactly this idea, but in reverse.  Just as heroism is only valid when it is truly exceptional, so liberty is only achieved when power is not just a little decentralized, but completely decentralized.  When nobody has "legally" sanctioned power over another, only then can one argue that they are truly (all) free.

"When everyone is one will be."  "Liberty is either for everyone, or it is for no one."  Two different applications of the yin-yang principle.  (The eagle-analysts may note that the liberty example, to be complete and truly yin-yang, would depend upon effective self-management in the individual, including the common fidelity to the non-aggression concept.  That is arguably problematic in a large population, but at least it's voluntary, and many of "us" would argue that is enough to make it preferable to the atrocity-circus that afflicts us now.  Anyway, there is much to discuss here, I would think.)

Monday, August 6, 2012

In which the boy discovers airguns.

I found out about .22s as a boy, but for whatever reason I've never got into airguns.

Maybe it just took me this long to really think about that.  I'm pretty thickheaded when it comes down to it, and the more I do think about it, the more inexplicable and dumb it seems.

Oddly, what may have caused the change in me is the concept of pest control.  We've been talking about culling some of the rabbits and snowshoe hares around the house--get this, one of our neighbors is said to feed the critters on purpose--and as rural as the area is, even a .22 somehow seems rude to me.

An airgun, though, might be a completely different story.

Then we went on a camping trip to Captain Cook State Park, about 90 miles up the road, in order to give our one-year-old her first multi-night camp.  That went famously, despite the conspicuous presence of a brazen field mouse who quite clearly knew the drill with visiting campers and the freebie meals that attend their cook-sites.  It was pretty humorous, as the lightest thing I had with me was the pistol I was wearing, and the concept of hitting a maybe-four-ounce critter with nearly a half-ounce of lead, while scaring the bejeezus out of all the Backpacker Magazine types in the surrounding campsites...well, let's just say that we studied our adversary in preparation for a future contact.

Because an airgun, now, that would have been just about right.

Okay, so then I did some looking into airguns, both for this specific utility and also (because this is me we're talking about) for the concept of the airgun itself, and despite it all* I'm learning a great deal of considerable interest.

I'm seeing at least three serious uses for airguns, and will post further details here as they coalesce.

First, pest control.  Even a lowly .177 BB from a compact, $30 air pistol would have neatly scuttled the clearly-habituated mouse with no fuss at all.  The rabbits and hares should get a little more powerful attention--I don't want a wounded animal to get back to the guy who might be feeding them;  much better that they simply vanish, silently--but this problem can be solved.  I can see a variety of "powerplants" working here:  pump-up pneumatics, CO2 cartridge pistols, spring- and gas-piston breakbarrel designs, and even the high-pressure gas-tank concept. 

Next, small game.  More importantly:  small game, silently.  More importantly:  small game, silently, with no long-term dependencies on tricky consumables such as powder or primers.   (Let's say I am suddenly interested in acquiring the capacity to self-cast BBs and pellets in .177, .22, and possibly .20 and .25.)  And I'd never really thought of pursuing birds with an airgun, but why not?  If TS ever really does hit TF, there are a whole lot of birds around here, and wholly aside from reducing my noise footprint against undesirable human attention, compressed air is a whole lot less likely to spook the next target than even a .22 would be.  Lots of possibilities here, and although I'd like to retain the capacity to have at least one rifle and pistol unburdened by supporting equipment dependencies (such as gas recharge, CO2 capsules, external pumps, etc.), almost any "powerplant" would serve the purpose.

Finally, training.  This is where Airsoft comes in.  There are a few "BB guns" and "pellet rifles" that do a little to try and emulate how a "real" firearm counterpart would work, but Airsoft guns are designed to do that from the beginning.  Magazines insert normally, and (like the pistols) may well work with existing leather.  Pistol slides often reciporocate, cocking hammers and even locking open when run dry.  There are some pretty creative designs, including some spring-charged bolt-action rifles that--imagine this--force you not to baby the action when running the bolt.  The standard "powerplant" seems to be compressed gas, charged by an external source and sometimes supplemented by batteries.

Airsoft is not going to replace standard training, but for a whole lot of fundamental mechanics--presentation, trigger control, sight management, turns and movement, stance and position, etc., it is going to allow much more cost-effective practice than live-fire, and much more realistic training than simple dry-fire.  Arguably, it may also enable realistic practice in places that wouldn't be possible or practicable with a firearm.  Very interesting possibilities here, for the little plastic .20-caliber pellets.

We'll see how it goes, then.  Should be fun!

* Special note:  while researching the Airsoft concept for the viability of using airguns for training, I ran across many a YouTube video review of this or that Airsoft gun.  Now I consider YouTube to be one of the great resources of this magnificent tool called the internet, and I fully understand that one of the costs of any truly free marketplace is that there will always be a goodly amount of drek floating around, through which one must wade in order to find the gold nuggets, or at least what the hell you're looking for.

That said...I am not quite sure how I managed to get through some of these videos to find what I needed to know;  the quality of gunhandling alone could only make it up to "appalling" with a considerable amount of dedicated attention.  One can only tolerate just so many adrenaline junkies "explaining" the manual of arms of a 1911 pistol (so...fucking...badly) while twirling the freshly-charged piece around like a Christmas ornament to give the 360-degree view...before it becomes impossible not to throw up a little in your mouth.  I did finally get to see what I needed to see, but I paid a heavy price that I'll not soon forget.

I think I see a great potential value in Airsoft for personal training maintenance, but I may never be able to play the games;  I'm just not going to hang around anyone who can't get his damn booger hook off the bang switch.  It's better this way for both of us;  I'm less likely to get shot by him for violating Rules One through Four at pretty much all times, and he's less likely to get shot by me (and not with an Airsoft either) because he's waving his muzzle all over the place and generally making the ghost of poor Jeff Cooper wonder why he even bothered.

Please pardon the rant;  a whole lot of that shit is just awful beyond my capacity to imagine--and I'm not often accused of having a dull imagination!

Props to someone who wants to listen.

This is a continuation of the last post.  Here, I address a question asked directly to me, on my own Facebook "wall".  The question was this:

Kevin - as usual you put together a very eloquent argument, most of which i could not follow :) question is not one of gun ownership as we have question is why are people allowed to own fully automatic or military grade weapons...? I have a driver's license but am definitely not allowed to drive Indy class, NASCAR or Open wheel class cars as I don't have the skill or knowledge etc...can't the same thing be said about the class of guns we are allowed to own?

I definitely had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach at that.  Not that I didn't have an answer to it--hardly, as will shortly become obvious--but that I didn't want to go and make yet another enemy by both being fully honest and actually answering the question. "M" is a high school friend of mine and until I started using Facebook a few years ago, I hadn't had any contact at all since, oh, about 1988.  But something told me just to play it straight;  after all, I'm living proof that people can actually learn in spite of their education--by my current standards I hardly qualified as a human being back then--and I listened to it.

Here's the first part of the comment stream.  It's reproduced unedited, except for name-scrubbing to protect the friendly.  The original post here is mine, and the question was posed by "M".  "B" is another friend from the same circle and time frame as "M".

B:  Just curious.....who is on what side? Can I answer your question about military grade/ automatic guns?

Me[B], FYI, this began within a comment stream on a different post, so you may not have all the context you need. You should feel free to weigh in if you like; since [M] asked the question far more politely than most people seem to, I intend to respond deliberately and respectfully. But with me, of course, it'll take a few minutes to get there. :-)

B:  What side are you on, Kevin? Pro or against gun (military grade or not)?

B:  Class 3 license are not that easy to get...but attainable as a dealer. Most automatic guns are done in the black market or modified at home (buy parts and apply).

Me:   [M]: entirely beyond the forthcoming direct response to your question, consider a thought experiment. What most jumps out at me with your question is the *language* with which you ask it. The difference in the way we each look at the world is vast, and I would much appreciate your trying this experiment seriously.

Here goes. It's just two questions:

- Do you own yourself? This is not the trivial question that it sounds like. For the purposes of the experiment, what is your answer 1) right now, 2) immediately after reading, and 3) say, a week after cogitating on the concept?

- Which of these truly serves the other: the state, or the individual? Is the reality different than what you have been taught? Again, for the experiment, consider your response 1) now, 2) after reading, and 3) a week after chewing on it.

As further cogitation for both questions, consider these thoughts as well:
(There's a lot more than that available, but this is a decent sampler.)

Again, I'd be curious to see how it might turn out for you.

Me: [M's] questions. Apologies in advance; there's gonna be a reading list, because much has already been said before.

"...why are people allowed to..."

Look, if we are "allowed" to do anything--own one kind of gun but not another, drink pasteurized milk but not raw, drive here but not there, ingest this plant product but get prosecuted for that one, speak this but not that, etc.--then we're not talking about rights, but privileges. Privileges doled out arbitrarily by a master to a servant. This is exactly backward from the intentions of those who wrested independence from just such a controlling master; the US Bill of Rights does not "grant" anything of its own, but rather is a reminder list of several very specific things that the state may not do to individuals.

If you're persuaded by the intentions of the American Founding Fathers, look up the "every terrible implement of the soldier" quote from Tench Coxe, or a fairly broad range of quotes from Jefferson, Mason, and several others. The short answer is: the little people should always, *always* have equal or greater access to weapons than any standing military, lest that grow into a beast that might be used against the populace itself. (Anyone who believes "it can't happen here" is invited to explain Will Grigg's sobering "Rubicon in the Rear-View" series:, or just read the second chapter of Solzhenitsyn's "The Gulag Archipelago" and compare informally against today's newspaper headlines. For the even more inane "certain guns should only go the police or military" argument, see, or a genocide chart such as the one at JPFO: Talismanic incantations of the American Second Amendment are not the point; even a brief look at the history of mass murder makes it pretty clear that if you want to avoid the potential for death by the tens of millions, you disarm the STATE, and empower the plebe.

If you're persuaded by statistical pragmatism, there is also this: attempts to "control" street crime via "gun control" are laughable, and they always have been. (It certainly makes sense, too: the notion that disarming those already inclined to obey the law, as an attempt to deter those who are inclined to ignore laws against murder, is just absurd on its face.) When I first started paying attention, it was stated that there were over twenty thousand gun laws on the books; that was in the early 80s, and even taking into account the most generous reductio for overlaps, similarities, rewrites, jurisdictions, etc., it is authoritative enough to observe that any "gun control" scheme you can imagine has already been tried hundreds or thousands of times...and still here we are, again, watching one man-with-a-gun have his way with a crowd of people disarmed by force of law, policy, or simple cultural conditioning.

What, exactly, is any new law, policy, or cultural conditioning going to accomplish that the thousands of attempts that preceded it have failed to accomplish? "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me...ten thousand times?" The analogy of the battered spouse is really hard to avoid here. Doesn't "this time for sure!" get old after a while?

For me, though, the most compelling argument is moral. If a person has not harmed anyone, nobody--not me, nor you, nor "the most powerful man on earth", nor a ten-billion-strong collective under the most noble banner in the history of man--has the right to deny that person a peaceable choice. Creating "crime" out of the CAPACITY to do wrong has been brilliantly treated by much science fiction (e.g., "The Minority Report") as the creeping, inexorable evil that it is. The very instant that we cede that point, we're on the road to "pre-crime", and it's just a matter of how fast we're jonesin' to get there. (I still do not understand how so many people who can speak that point so eloquently regarding the PATRIOT Act, or the Holocaust, or the War on (Some) Drugs, can so completely fail to see the exact parallel here.)

Some people still insist on the technical, and it is at least instructive to discuss the technical if only to point out that the most rabid EBR (evil black rifle) haters are pure snake oil salesmen (, most of whom have absolutely no idea what they're talking about ( Consider at, the statement by Sugarmann that declares, quite openly, that purposefully deceiving the public about technical matters is the preferred tactic for scoring a political point. Much the same strategy--create deceptive appeals based on emotion rather than objective criteria--drove the modern gun-control movement after it failed to reach its desired goals in the 70s.

So in the end, what's so special about [insert weapon type here]? Nothing, of course. Each plug-in is no different than the last: today it's "assault weapons", before that it was "sniper rifles", before that it was "concealable guns", before that it was "assault weapons" the first time, before that it was "plastic guns", before that it was "Saturday Night Specials" (concealable guns the first time), before that it was mail-order guns, before that it was full-auto guns and short barrels, before that it was guns in the hands of Negroes...even at the time of the American Revolution it was "long-range rifles", albeit the tyrants were British rather than American at that time. It's always been the same thing; the focus on mechanical differences is simply a red herring to follow so that you don't notice that what the disarmers really mean is all weapons held by someone either "unofficial" or other-than-them.

There's nothing exceptionally different about EBRs. Their much-vaunted "rate of fire" can be exceeded by a revolver (just look up Jerry Miculek or Ed McGivern sometime), and their internal mechanics are hardly any different from designs from before the year 1900. They certainly look all gonzo, which frightens some and amuses others (; as a long-time student of the craft of how to shoot I personally consider most of the designs inefficient and silly, but if it's to be a free country, then it's gotta be a free country, and frankly if it perturbs the nanny-staters, then I'll take two.

I could hold court at some length about relative technical merits of a variety of designs (and I suspect by now that you just might believe me on that :-) but you know, none of that would be a matter of public policy. Because that is an idea that is at once irrelevant, absurd, indefensibly evil...and if the rule of law matters, specifically prohibited.

And finally, a general reading list. Anyone who would try and establish a moral authority for forcible disarmament of the peaceable must be able to address the points made in the following stable (as well as the above text and links):

Me[B]: I sure hope the previous clarifies things a bit. :-)

At this point, having sent off that load, I was prepared to have completely alienated [M] and either hear a great deal of nothing, or something lashing back.  But wouldn't you know it, sometimes people offer a marvelous surprise.

M:  awesomeness...good stuff Kevin, give me a few days and I will be back.

M:  BTW...full disclosure, I am not sure where I stand at the moment

P:  Pardon me for intruding into your discussion guys, but I have to say that was an incredible read Kevin. Can you run for office?

M:  no doubt

B:  Kevin, is this a "bazinga" moment for me to read all that : )

B:  Kevin acts like it is beneath him : )

Me[M]: thank you for that. It's easy to make enemies with forceful speech, and I do seem to trend in that direction (I most often say a whole lot of not much, and there is reason for that). Here I took the risk of speaking plainly, and appreciate your trust, regardless of where you end up.

Me[P]:  this is where I alienate the rest of the people in the room. To my way of looking at the world, politics is not the solution to the problem--politics IS the problem.

Run for office? I'd sooner contemplate the short-sword. Given Oppenheimer's definitions of "the political means" and "the economic means", one could reasonably argue that the purest act of aggression one could ever commit would be to vote. (Those who recall me from the CLHS days may note the significant about-face here; it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure it out, but ol' dunderhead here can, in fact, learn. For that humbling reason, too, I tend to be somewhat patient with others who, like me, not only don't get there all at once, but kinda resent being pushed along the way.)

It's heresy, for sure--I make a lot of enemies by outing myself, and am regularly reminded that I "weigh the same as a duck"--but just about fifteen years after arriving at this place, I've seen nothing that would persuade me differently. Nothing.

A few observations in that regard:

And if you're really masochistic, this exchange seems to cover most of it in one place:

Me:  [B]:  "Kevin acts like it is beneath him"

I don't know precisely what you mean by that (who is the Sheldon to whom you refer?) but I sure don't mean to come across that way. I know I have a forceful style in general, and am rather obviously passionate about some topics, and one of my primary goals in saying anything is deliberately to rip through the dangerous airbrushing that people so often apply to topics that really demand plain, direct speech...but it actually quite bothers me when I come across as condescending or elitist. Hell, liberty is a concept that is as fundamentally non-elitist as a concept can be ("liberty is either for everyone, or it is for no one"), and I take a back seat to no one in my fundamental faith in individual human nature.

When I asked my wife about this a while back, she smiled and said "the way that you speak--it's just the way you speak--sometimes hardly permits people an 'in', much less an 'out'. That hurts. If I tried to explain just how hard I try not to needlessly close doors when writing even the simplest things, nobody would believe me--but as she so often is, she may well be right.

Is that the sort of thing you're getting at?

Quite seriously, I would invite that topic. If I do come across that way, what can I do to change it? I'm not in this to hear the sound of my own voice, although with my historically meager readership it might appear that way.

(Hm. On a technical note, I suppose I would say that politics is beneath *everyone*...maybe that's where it can come across that way. :-)

B:  Kevin, of all people, I thought you would watch the BIG BANG THEORY (tv sitcom). The physicist character named Sheldon Cooper in the show explains how the world (including himself) works thru facts…..lots of facts. When explaining (some view it as an insults), he uses facts and figures thru scientific process rather thru political correctness. I am not giving you things to read, here is a link of the show ( can only imagine you may give your own comments to the show : )

I forgot who I was talking to when I asked those questions. Like the character Sheldon, he gives you the answers more than most people can understand/ yourself (no offense). I was quoting some of the terminologies (ie banzinga) from that show without any indication of being pompous.

Yes, we have known each other for many years and no your answers (verbally or written) have never given me any indication of bias or portray as an elitist person or group. Sometimes “NO” is a good answer :- )...especially when reading your lines thru a 1.5x1.5 screen from a cell phone. Like you, Kevin, I prefer not to engage in politics, religion, or cultural can lose many friends thru these discussions. Gun topics are a little different depending how one views it and how it is defined as an automatic and etc.
As for changing your way of, don’t change it for me. I, on the other hand, come out blazing with fire and others view me as a totalitarian…..but that’s another topic by itself ;)

M:  Kevin - for all the years I have known you, no matter the circumstance, you have been nothing if not direct, honest and deliberate (thoughtful and well researched as well). I enjoy an open direct discussion no matter which side of the room you align with. Forceful, educated and honest is a hell of alot better than bombastic blowhardedness in my opinion.

It will be interesting to see if [M] did go through that thought experiment.  It's not a lightweight exercise, and I certainly don't expect a full-blown Rothbardian proto-anarchist to emerge on just that basis.  But I gotta say, this whole episode has reminded me that some people really are willing to listen, and as frustrating as it can get, month over month, trying to reach people who are committed to misunderstanding you, those few who do wish to use their ears make it all worth it.

Now, if I could just gracefully tell these folks that I only became the sort of person they all seemed to think I was, at least ten years after we parted ways...well, then we'd really have something.  :-)

"Someone intent on killing will find a means."

This Facebook post came from a high school friend who has before made observations worth noting.  The original post, regarding the Aurora theater shooting, was this:

"Someone intent on killing will find a means."

Pretty good article that doesn't choose "sides."

I wanted to capture the comment stream (before Facebook ages it out of all our feeds), which is as follows, as of this writing.  Comments are presented in full, unedited, and with names scrubbed to protect the friendly.  The original poster is "J", there is a "K" who is not me, and I am listed as "Me".

K:  I saw or heard something yesterday (maybe on NPR?) to the effect that Japan has very strict gun control and very few gun homicides. I don't recall that the piece made any mention of the sarin attack in the Tokyo subway not so many years back ...

Me:  It does rather read like actual reporting--which, sadly, is a noteworthy thing anymore.

Me[K],welcome to the world of straw men and red herrings. For anyone who is persuaded by statistics (full disclosure: I myself am not--the moral argument is always more powerful than the pragmatic one), digging a little deeper will also reveal that Americans kill far more people with bare hands and other weapons than Japanese, in almost exactly the same proportion as the "with gun" numbers--and it's been that way since as long as people have kept records for comparison. Dig a little further and you'll then find that the homicide rates for Japanese *Americans* are pretty much the same as Japanese living in Japan--much lower than the rest of the American populace, regardless of weapon type. By this stage of discovery, the point is pretty clear: the only reason anyone would attempt to establish causation from guns, is if that is the pre-ordained conclusion he set out to "prove" in the first place.

Lies, damned lies, and statistics.

For many years (and by that I mean more than twenty) I chased the stats. I wanted to be able to respond to the victim disarmament crusaders nobly, and by "nobly" I assumed "in kind", both by disproving their stats and by offering better ones of my own. And of course the truth is (even taking into account that lots of "good guys" perpetuate either bad stats or bad analysis of good stats), the available body of data provides absolutely no credible support for the idea of forcible victim disarmament--at least not as any sort of effective vehicle to minimize victimization of the peaceable. Statistical support for deliberately going the other way is somewhat less obvious, but still very strong.

"They" got nothin', in short--and yet it doesn't matter. Never has. Never will. It took me an embarrassingly long time to admit--to really admit--that victim disarmers don't actually care about statistics at all. I'd long understood that they didn't understand that the "just one life (furda children)" meme was meaningless because it's based on the absurd assumption that guns cannot save lives but only take them, but it's beyond that. Eventually, I reached the point of demanding that they declare their own threshold, if nothing else as a thought experiment: at what point would the numbers tip the other way, and prove "pragmatically" that empowering individuals was the proper "public policy" instead? "Describe that to me: what would it take? What would it look like?" Universally, their reactions proved to me that the stats didn't matter at all, but were simply a marketing tool of convenience to push a pre-ordained conclusion.

What didn't take quite so long after that, but which was a bit more surprising, was to realize that I don't care about stats either. Think about it: if you engage in a policy discussion governed by statistical "pragmatism", that means that somewhere along the continuum of possible statistics is a firn-line that, when crossed, causes a change in the approach to policy. In this case, we're talking about competing policies of 1) forcible disarmament of the peaceable and 2) no forcible disarmament of the peaceable, and at some threshold the objective preference changes from 1) to 2), or vice versa. For many years my standard was "guns save more lives than they take", and using any credible stats I've ever seen, that is still a reasonably comfortable position. But...what if the day ever came when that changed? This is ultimately the same question I asked the disarmers, and as it turns out I learned from it too. It caused me to re-frame the question morally, rather than statistically:

Is there any statistic that is suddenly, upon meeting some threshold, going to justify the forcible disarmament of even one person who has done nobody any harm?

No. No, there is not. Period. There is no equivocating here. Liberty is either for everyone or it is for no one.

This is a much better position to defend, and from which to attack. It is not subject to any change in real statistics, and it is inherently impervious to the sort of misleading, artificially "enhanced", or outright falsified stats that the disarmers have such a well-earned reputation for generating.

M:  Kevin - as usual you put together a very eloquent argument, most of which i could not follow :) question is not one of gun ownership as we have question is why are people allowed to own fully automatic or military grade weapons? I have a driver's license but am definitely not allowed to drive Indy class, NASCAR or Open wheel class cars as I don't have the skill or knowledge etc...can't the same thing be said about the class of guns we are allowed to own?

Me:  For any forewarned-but-yet-inexplicably-still-curious followers of this thread: I indulge [M's] question at [Facebook URL, here redirected to a separate blog post that covers it]

K:  Kevin: Regarding "actual reporting" - Charlie Sykes, a talk radio guy in Milwaukee, when he came upon a piece of actual reporting by the media, would refer to it as "a flagrant act of journalism."

Regarding straw men, red herrings, statistics, etc. - I agree that the claim about Japan that I heard is misleading in that way too. I do think that the point [J] highlighted - "Someone intent on killing will find a means" - is a worthwhile one also. i.e. - it's true that Japan has fewer non-gun homicides than America does - it is also true that they do have some homicides, i.e., that even with gun control, someone there who wants to kill a bunch of people can find a means.

This continues in the next post, with me choosing not to defile [J's] wall with another rant.  ([J] never asked me to do that, and might not have minded if I'd kept it here, but I made my choice and left the link.  :-)

"When the 2nd Amendment was written the most lethal gun available was the musket."

Documenting another Facebook conversation.  This started with a reliably "liberal" FB friend's link to this double-facepalm dose of The Stupid:

When the 2nd Amendment was written the most lethal gun available was the musket.

Of course, this was in the middle of all the blood-dancing that immediately followed the theater shooting in Aurora.  All the usual channels had pretty clearly just issued a new set of talking points and bloody shirts to wave, and when this sleazed past on the FB stream, I just couldn't let it lie.  (That's not a trivial statement, either.  I let a lot of stuff lie.  A lot.)

I must admit, in addition to having something to say myself, I was pretty impressed at the other comments too (I don't know either of them).  The thread was "A"s, and I don't think that "A" expected this sort of response.  :-)

Comments were (in full, unedited):

D:  and everyone was on equal footing.

A:  It's a brave new world.

D:  and I still want to be on equal footing.

Me:  Putting aside for a moment the term "most lethal gun available", which broadcasts a complete topical ignorance in exactly the same way that "the gay agenda" does...the above statement is still pure BS.

If you remember your government-approved school textbooks, you may recall that the principal combat advantage that those seditious, secessionist, gun-loving terrorists to the Crown's authoritah demonstrated over the British regulars during the American Revolution, was their use of the "Kentucky Rifle", which was either the "assault weapon" or the "sniper rifle" of the day (depending on whatever you might regard as more evil), and the distinctly cheeky tactical habits of hiding and of targeting officers as an effective disruption of chains of command. The muskets of the regulars had an effective precision range of about 100 yards; the rifles were effective at two to three times that distance. It was significant.

Now although none of that is secret, and it would sure be nice if people would go to the trouble to say things that don't immediately discredit the point they're trying to make before they even get there, it is a bit of a technical matter, and ultimately I don't give a damn about technical matters when it comes to liberty. Given that the usual purpose of such a statement as [B's] is to act as a visibly pious lament that things are somehow just oh so different now--with the transparent implication that we should "fix" some technical loophole that the Founders could somehow "never have foreseen"--it is at least somewhat relevant to point out that, ah, no, things have not changed at all since the writing of the Second Amendment. It wasn't then, and isn't now, about reserving some types of weaponry for the state and some lesser subset for the plebes; anyone who doubts this is invited to explain Tench Coxe's "every terrible implement of the soldier" statement, and a fairly extensive selection from Jefferson, Mason, and several others.

This isn't some catechismic worship of the Second Amendment, either, which of course "grants" no right at all (like the rest of the BoR, it is simply a member of a list of specific things that the state is proscribed from doing to the individual...if the BoR did "grant" rights, it could then rescind them by repeal or further amendment, and therefore they would by definition be privileges rather than rights), but rather affirms a pre-existing right that someone has by virtue of breathing.

Finally...presumably, [B's] comment was delivered in the context of the recent "movie massacre", which has certainly unleashed the predictably standard torrent of quests for moral absolution via further state intervention. How it is that so many of these come from people who speak passionately (and eloquently) of the evils of, say, the PATRIOT Act, the Holocaust, or the War on (Some) Drugs, I fail to understand, but the failure to recognize history is rampant.

And I share the redoubtable Arthur Silber's perspective on what I've come to refer to as "the faux piety":

What happened right next to where I lived for fifteen years is horrible. So horrible that the only thing that could possibly make it worse is to do more of what made it possible in the first place: deliberately disarm those inclined to obey the law while not only failing to protect them from those who are by definition not so inclined, but absolving themselves explicitly from any legal responsibility for same.

M:  The recent mass shooting in Colorado (and others like it in recent years) is not a gun-control problem. These are mental health problems.

Reasonable, mentally healthy individuals do not act out violently. Regardless of whether the act was deliberate or not... regardless of whether the perpetrator had any sense of "right and wrong"... the act, itself, is the outward sign of a mentally unstable mind.

The similarities between this shooter and other mass shooting perpetrators seems to support that assumption.

The guns this man used did not make him commit these horrible acts. It seems reasonable to assume he would have acted out violently regardless of the tools available to him. (Don't forget he also used homemade bombs and booby traps.)

On Chick-fil-A...

Documenting a Facebook thread which seemed important enough to put here.  As usual, names scrubbed to protect the friendly.

This thread was mine.  Originally:

More of this, please. An excellent take on how the absurd concept of "enforcing" tolerance strips all moral authority from even the most noble concept.

The following comments ensued (selected for relevance, but if a comment appears, it appears unedited.  Also, note that "K" is not yours truly;  I am listed below as "Me"):

K:  This is like when homosexuals and their more attention-hungry supporters in the music community suddenly started urging people to boycott Danelectro (maker of guitars and guitar effects) a couple of years ago because its current president donated money to the campaign fund of a congressional candidate who opposed gay marriage. My reaction was, "What, I'm supposed to punish an entire company, one with a storied history, and its associated service and retail firms just because its current president exercised his  political rights?" No, I don't think so.

A:  I am in agreement with her point about government intervention, but after that she kind of lost me. She tries to tie all the other happenings regarding this issue into that one innapropriate governmental situation. 

First, it is not opinion. It is not Coke vs. Pepsi. If Mr. Cathy had stated that he could not abide inter-racial marriages, proudly stood against them, and used his wealth to lobby against them - Americans would have lost their minds. However, go back 50 years ago and such actions would have been acceptable. To stand against Homosexual marriage is still a somewhat acceptable discrimination, but it is at a turning point.

Second, if Mr. Cathy were just an Archie Bunker mumbling his discriminations, it would probably not affect my going to chic fil a. If he wants to believe that the voices in his head forbid him from being a homosexual... fine. However, he is a person with considerable means and is using those means to fight against equality for others. His opinion is not personal; he works to make it universal. MY supporting his companies puts money in his pocket to work against equality, so I cannot in good conscience support his companies with my dollars. To the author, people like me have been suckered into the fascism of the mainstream press and are bullying poor Mr. Cathy's company. She tacitly admits that I and the Muppets have the right not to go to chic fil a... but we are still being manipulated by fascism if we do. Nonsense.

Me:  "that one innapropriate governmental situation"

Yeah, like "that one time" the sun came up in the east.

Let's not forget that this whole flap did not come about because of anything that Chick-fil-A suddenly started doing. It became news because a political figure arbitrarily decided to use the power of his polity's "legal" monopoly on "permitting" peaceable commerce, fully backed up by same polity's "legal" monopoly on enforcement, in order to punish an unpopular political viewpoint.

I've got no beef--so to speak--with anyone who would boycott Chick-fil-A because of the politics of its ownership. Personally, to the exact extent that the company attempts to use the political system to remove choices from peaceable others, I myself find it contemptible without excuse. (No, I do not accept the "everyone else is doing it" excuse.) But nor do I give a pass to the mayor of Boston for making a unilateral decision that effectively--"legally"--shuts a business down overnight, in the complete absence of anything that can conscionably be called a "crime". Now Chick-fil-A can certainly weather such an attack, since its business is nationwide, but if this had instead been a local business, the mayor's action may well have completely destroyed--destroyed--it.

There is no comparison between the *potential* harm that Chick-fil-A *might* cause by turning away some of its customers (and I still have yet to see evidence that they have ever done that) as any matter of free, even if bigoted, will, and the very *actual* harm done by a political figure by unilaterally and without any sort of "mala in se" justification, destroying overnight a business' "legal" sanction to do business. Anyone who would equate those two things because of some pet peeve with the arrogance/bigotry/scruffiness/religious affiliation/etc. of the private party involved, should just stop pretending to advocate for a free society and openly admit to accepting fascism.

Would it have been okay for the city of New London, NJ to seize Susette Kelo's land and property simply because Kelo belonged to a militia, or if she used racial epithets to make her case in court? How about if she was affiliated with "the Tea Party"? Or perhaps "OWS"? Look, if any one of these "factors" would make it okay for the state to harm someone that nobody contends harmed anyone else, then ALL of those "factors" would be equally justifiable--and with enough time, THEY ALL WILL BE. The only way to have a free society is to vigorously protect the very people that you find most repellent.

Most people are grown up enough to learn how to live around people who disagree with them. Then there are those who just can't stand it, and have to "do something" about "those people". Thus was born politics.

A:  No, a political figure made an innapropriate move to a "flap" that was already occuring. Few people who are boycotting Chick would think it is appropriate for a goverment official to try to stop Cathy's stores from opening. Also, the boycott is not really in response to Cathy's remarks... that simply brought the awareness. Cathy has a right to his bigotry... people have a right not to give him money which he actively uses to harm their lives. I really can't see why that is such a bizzare idea.

Me:  Maybe my mileage varies more than most, but I've grown quite weary of all the "serves 'em right" comments I've seen. (FWIW, I also find much of the "defense-of-Chick-fil-A" rhetoric to be equally annoying in that oh-so-sanctimonious way that Team Red/Team Blue players seem to get whenever "their team" gains a momentary technical advantage...rhetoric that vanishes in a hurry when the time inevitably comes later to chide their own teammates for the same offense. It's not about the principle--only about the gameplay advantage.)

And what's most infuriating is that the political system which made ALL this possible (both the license rescinsion and the promise of legal favors and leverage which make lobbying inevitable) will suffer nothing for any of this. The problem isn't that this political figure made "an inappropriate move"; the problem is that the power of "his" office makes it possible for it all to happen in the first place--and again. *That* will not change. Even in the event that "the people of Boston" decide to punish him by not re-electing him or even removing him from office, whoever his replacement becomes will have the same threat and power at his (or her) disposal. Successors may declare piously that they would never do such a thing--and maybe that is true--but they'll never give up the option.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"The Second Amendment...starts to make sense to me too."

Courtesy of Glenn Greenwald, the following video from RT:

The most surprising exchange is within the segment that begins at 4:18;  the zinger happens at 4:42 for host Alyona Minkovski, and at 4:51 for guest Jane Hamsher.  The latter ultimately says:

The Second Amendment...starts to make sense to me too...maybe it's something in the air.

I admit, I can't make out one word in the middle of that statement (it sounds more like "analogy" than "argument" but I'd rather not conjecture further), but the point is made.


(I think I also agree with Greenwald when he says "[w]hatever one thinks of the RT network, Alyona Minkovski, a host of a show on that network, is an excellent journalist and interviewer."  I've also seen praise for both RT and for Minkovski from Grigg, on Facebook, but until now I've never seen her work.  Impressive.)

Greenwald's article, itself, is typically brilliant and thought provoking, totally aside from the video.  Just a teaser:

Isn’t it amazing that a newspaper editorial even has to say: you know, the President isn’t really supposed to have the power to act as judge, jury and executioner and order American citizens assassinated with no transparency or due process? And isn’t it even more amazing that the current President has actually seized and exercised this power with very little controversy? Recall that when The New York Times first confirmed Obama’s targeting of citizens for assassinations in 2010, it noted, citing “officials,” that “it is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing.” No longer. That presidential power — literally the most tyrannical power a political leader can seize — is also now a barely noticed fixture of our political culture.  [Emphasis in original.]

Do please RTWT.