Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I really wish I could disagree with ya, Claire...

...but no.  I can't.

You don’t spy on millions of people, militarize your police, encourage neighbor to rat out neighbor, define thousands of innocuous activities as “domestic terrorism["], conduct checkpoints and VIPR raids, lock people up without trials, kick down doors in the middle of the night, or arbitrarily deny people the freedom to travel if you’re looking for mere criminals.

Claire speaks the unadorned truth all the time--one of the reasons we love her--but sometimes it hits harder than others.  Here, she's exploring some frighteningly dark territory.

The U.S. federal government has (covertly of course, and gradually) declared war on its citizens. That’s the reality. We’re not mere criminal suspects. We’re enemies — and by their choice, not ours.

Sure, some of us may have philosophically fancied ourselves enemies of the state. Some of us prefer to be ignorers of the state. Most of us have learned to live, one way or another, peaceably in the shadow of the state. But I don’t know one of us who has ever violently attacked the state — or wanted to.

But no matter what we think, or how we live, or with what civility and decency we conduct ourselves, in the eye of Mordor-on-the-Potomac, we are all enemies. All despised. And above all — all subject to destruction at the whim of power.

How can one argue with this?  We see it every day, and it's accelerating.  Further, most "regular people" not only do not want to contemplate it at all, but they actively avoid even the possibility of accepting an awareness of it.  Yesterday marks another episode of being "unfriended" on Facebook, in apparent response to a challenge to just one of the hypocrisies the blood-dancers are indulging in to lie and deceive their way past inconvenient obstacles to the crusade (e.g., statutory restraints, lack of popular support in the absence of heavy marketing, and the moral vacancy of the very concept).  On one hand, of course, this is hardly something new in the world of internet discussion, but it nonetheless becomes viscerally depressing when it starts to show up in people you know in person, that you did not expect it from.  I know it shouldn't get to me, but it does.

Times are already interesting enough, but some people are hell-bent on making them interestinger.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Show trial.

Another story that will wind up in the American re-write of Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago.  This one will go into Chapter 2, "The History of Our Sewage Disposal System".

It's a classic show trial.  First, consider the wrapper of Pious Outrage enveloping the story.  The title:

Gun rights advocates heckle father of 6-year-old Newtown victim at Connecticut hearing

The opening line:

Parents of children killed in the Newtown school shooting called for better enforcement of gun laws and tougher penalties for violators Monday at a hearing that revealed the divide in the gun-control debate, with advocates for gun rights shouting at the father of one 6-year-old victim.

And the money image:

A handful of people at the packed legislative hearing then shouted about their Second Amendment rights when Heslin asked if anyone could provide a reason for a civilian to own an assault-style weapon.

Well, that's certainly enough to make the propaganda point, creating visions of a heckling mob willfully violating the privacy and personal space of a grieving father, inserting their personal politics into tragedy.  Those unconscionably brutish and insensitive gun freaks!

And the point was effectively made.  I've started to see it in my Facebook stream, often with comments such as this one:

Is there no respect any more? The gun advocates could have kept their mouths shut for just a little bit.

Thing is, buried down at the bottom of the story is the video of the exchange.  (I originally tried to embed it directly, but the auto-start for the advertising was just too annoying.  Click and beware.)  Would you believe that this might tell just a slightly different story?

But no matter, when what you're pimping is a show trial!  There are minds to mold here, people, and the message to take away from the story is simple:  if someone who lost a child wants to use his tragic celebrity to soapbox for the further "legal" violation of the people who didn't do it, you should just shut the fuck up and let him do it.

I almost posted this entire response back out on Facebook, to one of the approving shares;  in the end, I shortened it and just used the first part.  It seemed worth documenting here, especially in the event that the video gets later disappeared for being insufficiently supportive of the meme.

Did you actually watch the video?  He asked his rhetorical question, and then there was an obvious, pregnant pause as everyone in the room politely let the question remain rhetorical.  NOT A SOUND.  Then, he said "Not one person can answer that question," indicating that the question had not been rhetorical at all, and that he had somehow taken the silence to be unanimous agreement.  At this point you hear a hardly-animated response from several people in the room, upon realizing that the question had actually been an open one, followed up by an immediate (and false) judgment.

Please, understand the difference between deserved outrage and theater.  The actual video, itself, taken entirely on its own without the wrapper of sanctimonious outrage provided by the "news" article, shows a grieving father overstepping his moral authority considerably, calling openly for the forcible subjugation of people who did not harm anyone, using his tragic celebrity to advance that cause against the voices of those to be violated. 

This is not someone who was accosted in his home, or heckled on the street, or, say, droned at his son's funeral.  He has let himself (I will give him the benefit of the doubt here;  the man did lose a son) be used by others who have already decided what the "solution" should be, and agreed to appear in a show trial to justify it.  Given the sneering sanctimony in his question and followup jab, he appears to have done so willingly.

The article attributes to Heslin the following statement:  "We're all entitled to our own opinions and I respect their opinions and their thoughts.  But I wish they'd respect min[e] and give it a little bit of thought."

It's rather hard to see Heslin's "respect" of others' opinions and thoughts, truly.  Peaceable people wanting nothing more than to be left unviolated, and he pushing to legally sanction their prior restraint violation not only without their consent, but against their vocal opposition.  This is moral authority?

And the "give it a little bit of thought" condescension is rather insulting to a whole lot of people who have quite carefully considered this sort of scenario, in advance, for years, even generations, and come to a very different conclusion than he has in his own six weeks of examination after the fact.

I take nothing--nothing--away from a grieving parent who has lost a child.  It's even unsurprising that in response to a tragedy of that magnitude, such a parent might be persuaded of things that they would not otherwise be persuaded of.  If that person's desire is to grieve privately and in peace, I would be among those who would show up to provide a living wall against hecklers, activists and demonstrators, even if I were 100% against his private beliefs.

Or, if he instead was genuinely curious about how others could look at the same history and arrive at a completely different conclusion than he does, in the interest of understanding the problem more completely and wanting to make double-sure that he does not lend his voice to something that sounds good and markets well but which may simply guarantee another horrible result in the future, he would find in me a willing, patient voice.  This would be what I always understood to be a "conversation".

But simply to use one's own tragic celebrity as a weapon of aggression against peaceable others, using "law" and the legislative-enforcement apparatus of the state as one's own personal heavy to do it...sorry, there's nothing that cancels out moral authority faster than that.

Law is not absolution, Mr. Heslin.  It did not protect your son from the person who took his life, it cannot bring your son back, and that will never change by adding more of it.

We should never confuse grief with vengeance, lest we confer a very dangerous moral authority upon the latter.

Gawd.  I have probably just got to leave Facebook, for my own health.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Stuck in my head.

And that's a good thing.  Neema just might be my new hero.  :-)

Original hat tip to Joel, who has a way with meaningful plaudits:
From Freedom Feens, a couple of unmutual, doubleplusungood ne’er-do-wells who should immediately turn themselves in for re-education.

The more I see from the Feens (who I seem to recall first from MamaLiberty, a while back), the more impressed I am.  If there is any good news to be had in this tiresome time, it may be that the spirit and practice of resistance is sharpening up in response.

Mosin-Nagant to rock the block...

Do you doubt that there's art in there?  I suspect that choice was quite deliberate, and it's delicious for anyone whose knowledge of gat-fu goes beyond "AK", "AR", "Glock" and "shoulder thing that goes up".

Keep it coming, Feens!

Oh, now this is just priceless.

With the usual disclaimer about veracity--if it's true--then this is just priceless.

Via Wendy McElroy, a Gary Gibson article at The Dollar Vigilante (about which I know precisely nothing) states that one of the acts at the Obama re-coronation spectacular (which I thankfully managed to stay away from completely) went a little off the reservation:

Limbaugh is a racist
Glenn Beck is a racist
Gaza Strip was gettin' bombed, Obama didn't say shit

The article then embeds a music video of Lupe Fiasco performing this piece, which is actually pretty powerful.  This particular embed seems to have scrubbed the curse words, but (as usual) you can tell just exactly what they are.

What's amusing beyond words is that the much-vaunted Obama marketing machine apparently didn't catch this little lack of solidarity at all, even though the tune seems to be credited to an album that was released in March 2011, and they scheduled the fella for Monday's cult of personality shindig inaugural festivities.  The Gibson article further states that Fiasco also said in a 2011 interview:

The biggest terrorist is Obama and the United States of America. I'm trying to fight the terrorism that's actually causing the other forms of terrorism...The foreign policies that we have in place in different countries that inspire people to become terrorists.

Again, presuming the veracity of the interview quote (Gibson does not link to that, but it wouldn't be that surprising given Fiasco's political views), isn't that just delicious?  I can only imagine having a conversation with Fiasco right before he went on stage.

Gibson then embeds a second video, which purports to be footage of Fiasco, at the inaugural, being "escorted" offstage in the middle of the set.  When I tried to play it, there was a takedown message that implied that a different party owned the content.  Chasing that name led me to this YouTube video:

And as it turns out, there are others, too (most point to the same raw footage), and with a few amusing twists, including an Illuminati claim.  Note too that the "The biggest terrorist is Obama..." quote seems to be validated by an appearance on professional windbag Bill O'Reilly's show.

It may be that Fiasco actually kept repeating the same "offending" verse, over and over, until event security shut him down.  This might well validate some of the claims of "bizarre rant" and "repetitive and jarring" that I've seen, but I'm not sure how that, in and of itself, would not simply further underscore a complete failure of the marketing machine:  if that is indeed what he did, then his tactic--repeating it until it could not be ignored any longer--is certainly a time-honored one.  (Here, one could begin conjecture on the utility of such a stunt to Fiasco's career.)

It's all part of "the show", of course, and it's not impossible to suggest that this somehow serves the Establishment's purposes, but ridicule where it's appropriate certainly can be fun, and the more people that notice, the better.

In that regard, you at least have to give Fiasco some sort of brass balls award for doing that at the coronation shindig.  (With all the cult-of-personality bullshit I've seen over the last couple of months--otherwise normal people going squee! over a known serial murderer and claimant to absolute power--this sort of thing is a breath of fresh air.)

Another interesting anecdote in these interesting times.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Now there's how you do defiance.

First, today, I noticed from Kent McManigal on Facebook that Larken Rose has a new video out.  It's a defiance message, and as usual with Rose the idea is great.  Take a look:

I do love me some Larken Rose.  I love the way he grabs hold of an idea and then uses it to bludgeon the crap out of whatever facile doubts you might have about it.  I love the way he speaks directly and plainly, especially with needed heresies like When Should You Shoot A Cop?, The Tiny Dot and The Jones Plantation.  He is certainly capable of powerful pieces of liberty messaging that need to be confronted by a whole lot of people.

But, with all due respect to Rose, this, my friend, is how you do defiance with style:

"Tastes like Dianne Feinstein's lunch."  Get that man a beer!

Deep tip of the hat to Mike Vanderboegh for pointing that one out.  Awesome.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I only mean that in the most 'reasonable' way.

Like many, I am weary--very weary--of the incessant use of the word "reasonable" as a cheap semantic attempt to excuse things that absolutely are not.  "Reasonable" is wielded like a literary or vocal talisman which somehow has the magic ability to...counteract whatever facile, disingenuous, or other morally unsupportable concept it is used with;  invariably something which, indefensible on its own, needs the help.  Lately, of course, the Mad Lib replacement noun is "guns" (as in "...reasonable restrictions on guns"), but it works with an ever-increasing set of both traditional "vices" (e.g., drugs, liquor, prostitution) and more modern Mencken-ian "hobgoblins" (e.g., fatty foods, raw milk, access to the Internet, free speech, privacy in general, and on and on...and on and on). 

It's often partnered with judicious use of the word "extreme" to describe anything that might cast doubt on the morally-untenable-on-its-own-but-a-surprise-winner-by-virtue-of-being-"reasonable" idea being pimped.  And for the credulous, this is apparently quite a one-two knockout punch of persuasion, because there are a whole lot of people who are so scared of appearing "extreme", and so desperate to appear "reasonable", that they just eat this shit up, and then go regurgitate it off to others, to demonstrate to be seen demonstrating their anti-extreme reasonableness.

I'll hand this to the ones who use the tactic deliberately:  right now, with the smell of the blood of those kids in the air, your efforts are working like a charm.  Congratulations.  Your ability to manipulate people's most primal fear, and steer it to the advancement of your own social goals, is not in question.  You will very likely get something you want out of this big push;  your machine may not be able to do fuckall about making anyone any safer (QED Sandy Hook, and all the other atrocities that seem to happen in "gun-free zones"), but then it's never really been about that, has it?  You've succeeded where it counts;  you sell deception and fraud like no other, and you've won friends and influenced people doing it.  A gold star for you.

Enjoy that, while it lasts.  One price of that success is that you now must either be willing to successfully maintain the illusion--indefinitely, all the time--or you must be prepared to confront the millions you have deceived when you slip and they figure out they've been had.  Now maybe you've thought about that, and maybe you haven't.  You certainly seem confident about it all, and that's probably good, given how much you have riding on the gamble.

All this brings me around to the original idea for this post.  (I'm sure others have thought of it before now, but it occurred to me just today.)  Those who pursue the "reasonable"/"extreme" tactic (or "big but" or other semantic equivalent) on purpose, also seem to be fond of dismissing certain individual-rights arguments on the idea that the individualist doesn't mean what he says;  specifically this seems very much in evidence with what might be called the "no" argument to forced disarmament.  Maybe this is just prima facie evidence of an inability to operate without projection, but given the deliberate deceptions of the disarmers, this just struck me as ironic and funny...and for whatever reason, today my brain just came up with a simple, pruriently in-kind response.


"Surely we can agree that we need reasonable restrictions on guns."
"But who really needs..."
"But high-capacity assault clips..."
"Molon labe."
"But assault weapons..."
"Cold dead hands."
"You can't be this extreme!"
"Oh, not at all.  I only mean 'no' in the most reasonable way."

Seems useful enough, and I just may have to try it out.  For a while now I've been fond of voicing the similar idea that once this whole "rule of law" thing stops protecting us from them, it also stops protecting them from us, too.  (Yes, I'm aware that humanity has advanced itself in spite of, and not because of, the rule of law in the first place, but this observation can be useful to someone who hasn't arrived in that place yet.)

Snark aside, it seems clear enough that the disarmament crowd fully intends to find out whether people do mean it or not. 

If they do push it, I suspect they will find out, one way or the other.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Springfield Armory XD-S .45 ACP

Got another chance today, while in Soldotna, to check out a gun counter, and this time I ran into another piece I had not yet met:  the Springfield Armory XD-S single-stack .45 ACP.

Not a lot in the gun design world excites me any more, with most new offerings being "new hat!" re-hashes of traditional designs and features that seem to impress people who don't shoot very much.  There are a few, of course, that are and have always been exceptional, and they remain.  But it can be hard to get really jazzed about new designs when their feature sets seem to have come from a marketing department rather than from people who live with the guns every day.

Which is why I very much wanted to meet this XD-S.  This design actually does seem exciting, although to be blunt there is absolutely nothing revolutionary about it.  It simply represents a collection of attributes that is operationally useful to someone who actually wears a gun regularly;  that is:  it's exciting because it should prove really good at its intended role.

In short, I expected to be impressed, on the strength of buzz such as this...and I am impressed.

The gun really is tiny (0.9" slide and grip width, 1" overall width at slide stop, 4.4" tall from the top of the slide to the bottom of the magazine floorplate, and less importantly, 6.3" overall length) and yet controls are well-laid out and my large-ish hand had no problem getting a good hold on the grip.  This is scarcely larger than a Kahr CM40, in the most important dimensions for a carry gun:  width and height.  And the XD-S is a 5+1 .45 ACP, whereas the Kahr is a 5+1 .40 S&W.  No slight to the .40 there, but let's face it:  the reason I'm interested in the .40 in the first place is that I can either get a smaller gun than the same in .45, or with the .40 I can get another round or two in the magazine at the same size.  Hmm.

It's a 21.5 ounce gun.  This is right in between the lightest .40s like the Kahr (17.7oz), and the smallest aluminum-framed 1911s (~25oz).  The only place you're going to notice this being a heavier gun is on your ankle or in your pocket;  in a serious carry holster it's going to "carry lighter" than many other guns which may weigh less but have fat or long grips.

The XD-S is striker-fired, and the trigger on the sample I saw today was a very good striker-fired trigger.  Distinctly better than any Glock I've met, if not quite up to the luxurious pull quality of Kahrs, and of course it may break in smoother with use.  There is a perceptible amount of overtravel, but that seems to be inherent in all the partial-cocking striker designs, and I admit I was looking for things to find wrong.  What was unequivocally outstanding was the short reset.  It's not "1911 short" (nothing is like that), but it is much, much better than its competitors, which typically require a revolver-length reset.

Reset length is one of those things that is trivial, until it's not.  And there are two cardinal values of a short reset.  The obvious one is what it can do for delivering multiple shots.  Anyone who has learned to "ride the disconnector" on a 1911 understands just how much easier it is to deliver a second precision shot with a short-reset trigger, than (as most of us learned the comparison originally) with a revolver.  (It's one of the reasons why 1911 aficionados can't shut up about how good the trigger design is:  it really is that exceptional.)  But here is a less obvious value that may be even more practically important than that:  a short-reset trigger, combined with a generous trigger guard, is a demonstrably superior "glove gun".  In places where you get a lot of winter (ahem), you're often wearing gloves, and the last thing you want is to manage to get off your first shot, but be unable to deliver your second because the gloved trigger finger, having fully depressed the trigger and subsequently poked fully through the trigger guard, now actually prevents the trigger from returning far enough forward to reset.

In the space of a few dry-snaps, my conclusion was that the short reset was very noticeable on the XD-S, and highly appreciated.  At speed (well...what you can do simulating a reset shot in a gun store), it seemed even shorter, and the backlash less pronounced:  all in all, an excellent trigger for its purpose.

The steel magazine seemed very sturdy and the release buttons (one on each side of the grip) were positive.  Magazine release and seating seemed positive and natural, and I'd expect reloads to be quick and smooth.  Most of us will need to open the shooting hand slightly to avoid pinching due to the short grip length, but we've learned how to do that already, and it's no different here.

My understanding is that the guns run extremely well, but in the case of stoppages the controls are ergonomic enough that it feels little different than a full-sized pistol.  And speaking of ergonomics, I found the little grip safety completely un-noticeable, there were no notable sharp edges, and even with the larger backstrap insert in place (I'd almost certainly swap it for the smaller one) the grip shape and texture is excellent, promising control without being "sticky".

What don't I like about the piece?  Well, I sure don't go in for chamber indicators--as Jeff Cooper used to say, "I would rather look and see than put my trust in a gadget"--but it doesn't seem to get in the way, either.  I admit I'm not a fan of the fiber-optic front sight, but that's easy enough to replace, and hell, I may wind up changing my mind on that anyway as my eyes age.  Likewise, I would always prefer to have a 1911-style manual safety, but that's a personal preference, and if I can't get a frame-mounted, up-for-safe down-for-fire, positive safety lever, I'll be quite happy with the striker guns' passive internal safeties, thanks.

In the hand, the gun has the feel of having a lot of mass up high.  This is mostly a trivial aesthetic thing;  this gun is nothing at all like the "who actually thought anyone would buy this thing?" Heckler & Koch .40 caliber P7, which feels like someone took a regular P7 and welded a solid steel 2x4 to the top of the slide.  WTF?  Nonetheless the impression struck me, especially after comparing against the luxuriously small and light Diamondback DB9 further down in the case.  (Now that thing really is a whole class lighter and smaller than the XD-S or CM40;  a 6+1 9x19mm that is 0.80" wide, 4.0" tall, and only 11 ounces.  Noticeably flatter, and enough lighter that it really would be at home in a pocket.)

Yeah, that's about it for dislikes.  And again, I was trying to find things wrong.  Presuming that the guns run like the previous entrants in the XD line (which is to say, spectacularly), and that hits in live-fire are as simple and easy as the design seems to promise, it would be hard to establish a superior choice for a general-purpose, do-it-all carry piece.

Shit.  Now I want one.

UPDATE:  Updated to reflect the correct height of 4.4", not 4" as I originally read.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

' is forbidden to be stateless.'

Sometimes, they just come right out and say it.

So it's been interesting to watch Gerard Depardieu as he attempts to take the advice that so many of us have been given before, usually with a whiny, dismissive tone:  "If you don't like it here, just go somewhere else."  Normal, well-adjusted human beings would of course read that statement as implying that the offer is to actually do that, taking with you what is yours and demanding nothing more in return.

Well, yes...or, rather, no.  This being the State, after all, the...oh, go with it, let's call it a "deal" just to soak up the full effect...the "deal" has two little conditions attached to it.  To wit:

  1. You can't leave without paying us what we, in our sole discretion, think is a fair price.
  2. You can't leave our protection racket without proof that you've selected another one, of which we, in our sole discretion, approve.

This is not hyperbole.  Via William Grigg on Facebook, the AP today reports:

MOSCOW — Gerard Depardieu, the French actor who has waged a battle against a proposed super-tax on millionaires in his native country, has been granted Russian citizenship.

A brief announcement on the Kremlin website on Thursday revealed that President Vladimir Putin signed the citizenship grant following an application from the actor.

The former Oscar nominee and star of the movie "Green Card" has been vocal in his opposition to French President Francois Hollande's plans to raise the tax on earned income above €1 million ($1.33 million) to 75 percent from the current high of 41 percent. Russia has a flat 13-percent tax rate.

Now heaven only knows what Pooty-Poot's real motivation might be in this--I shudder even to contemplate it--but certainly this shows at least arguably rational thinking on Depardieu's part.  Thirteen percent may be thirteen percent too high for non-voluntary extraction, by any moral standard, but on a practical level at least it's not more than half an order of magnitude higher.

But here is where (through the perfectly-to-type "Authorized Journalist") they just come right out and say it--the point entire:

France's Civil Code says one must have another nationality in order to give up French citizenship because it is forbidden to be stateless.

" is forbidden to be stateless."  There it is, for the next simpering statist who attempts to dismiss you with the "luv it or leave it" argument.  It should be enough, of course, to simply ask, "Where?" since there is not a square inch of land on this planet that is not claimed by at least one nation-state...but then again it should be enough to argue that it's simply wrong to forcibly compel anyone who has not harmed another.

" is forbidden to be stateless."  That's pretty clear, and the attitude behind it is even clearer:  your life is not your own, but belongs to the State.  You will be milked like a cow, and the only reason we might leave you alone, is if you can prove to our sole satisfaction that you've subjected yourself to the milking ministrations of another racket just like us.

Any questions?