Saturday, July 7, 2012

Lousy arguments

I'm not sure what some commenters are trying to prove with their comments, but if it is that they are responsible people who should be allowed a firearm--they are failing miserably.

One person is a case in point, I know he has an arrest, which shouldn't be used against him in court, but he tends to get drunk and leave abusive comments. Is that a person I really think should be allowed to own an object with a purpose to cause serious harm or death when used properly?

Gun control is about making sure that people who shouldn't have such items find it difficult to obtain them, which generally works when given the proper tools to enforce such laws.

In fact, it is truthful to say when someone who has a history of mental illness, antisocial behaviour, addiction, or frequent contacts with the police  says "you want to take our guns", that the answer is indeed "Yes", but that is because you probably are not the sort of person who should have a gun.

That may get all the gun loons in a corner who are already worried that some anonymous government agency is reading their thoughts through microchips to get even more paranoid and say "told ya so" with that paragraph being taken out of context, which is just plain off too bad.

So, I really don't give a shit if you know "who I really am" or where "I really live" because there are at least 5 CCTV cameras on my block and you will pass by many more to get to me.  Those are more useful in preventing your gun violence than more guns are.

Happy nightmares.

If you want to try to persuade us that you're not one of the 10, 20, 30, 40, and so on percenters--try to act normal and responsible.  That starts with not commenting while drunk, and not leaving abusive comments.

There is something about the relative anonymity on blogs which gives people a false sense of security in behaving badly.  Too often there is something about the presumption of empowerment on the part of weak people when they get their hands on a firearm that does the same thing - it turns them into assholes with poor judgment who still fail to impress anyone with their reasoning - OR their gun.

Gunloon non-arguments addressed

Let's see, there are so many ways they can take the argument off track starting out with saying something that is absolutely off topic, which is a good argument for moderation.

But let's start with something like "it's plagiarism", "copyright material", etcetera:
Serious non-argument for not addressing the actual assertion. Ironically used since gunloons tend to repost the same material all over the internet since it usually increases the position on search engine results.

That's probably why they hate it when the other side does it as well.
Saying something is plagiarism without addressing the substance is one of the more intellectually lazy attempts to silence the opposition that I know. This isn't an academic review--it's an effing blog fer chrissake!

The problem is that they are trying to block the dissemination of information while stacking the deck for their own.

Can't forget the old ad hominem, or some other comment about the person, rather than what has been mentioned in the post. Come on, people, address the topic that has been raised--not get personal.

The Gish Gallop, which is where you drown the opponent in such a torrent of half-truths, lies, and straw-man arguments that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood in real time: LegalEagle45 did that.

Basically, we are talking about tricks to keep from really addressing the issue and try to silence the opposition.

Yeah, yeah, you're gonna get all pouty on me and say, "but you're moderating our comments!"

Yep, we started doing it because you couldn't act like adults and try to have a real conversation.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Exercise your property rights to bar concealed carry,

Despite what the gunloon would like to think, it's fairly easy to spot someone carrying a concealed handgun. First off, they are going to be wearing loose clothing so that they don't "print" too much ("printing" is where you can see the firearm, which is next to impossible to totally eliminate). People who carry concealed firearms dress around their guns with rare exceptions. Also, most people who carry keep their weapon on their waist, usually on the side of their dominant hand.

Police mention the following behavioural traits as indicators that someone is armed. Things like:
  • frequently touching the firearm for reassurance,
  • adjusting the weapon for comfort, or because it has moved out of place,
  • an unusual walk or gait, and
  • blading their weapon side away from you, similar to the “interview stance.”
I've included this handy chart as a beginning step in to how to spot someone who may be carrying. You should ask if you believe that someone is carrying on your property: whether home or business.

The thing is that the property owner has every right to preclude people from carrying weapons onto their property. You have the right to know since that can bring you legal liability as the property owner in some jurisdictions. You are well within your right as a property owner to exclude someone from bringing a firearm onto your property without your permission.

Of course, think if every body called the cops because they suspected someone was carrying on their property--you get the idea why this idiotic idea has been allowed to flourish.

In fact, it's rude for someone to carry a concealed handgun onto another's property, whether a business or personal residence. After all, how do they feel if someone brings a gun onto their property? Especially if the person carrying may have unlawful intent.

I should add that it is probably more frightening to these people that they could be spotted "packing heat" since they like to believe they are inconspicuous. It's probably more frightening and disconcerting to them than having someone grab their gun from them.

Nothing would bother them more than the question "do you have a handgun on you?"

See also:

Repost: Second Amendment Fallacies from the Federalist blog

Second Amendment Fallacies from the Federalist blog

This came from an experiment I did to see if I received different results from the google search "Second Amendment standing armies" performed outside the USA. It came as no surprise that the non-US results provided more scholarly articles than the gun right related results one received in the US.
Of course, Nothing I haven't been saying here before, but I still want to repeat this since it neds to be said:
Second Amendment Fallacies
By P.A. Madison on September 28, 2010
I wanted to take the opportunity today to add some late commentary over the court recent ruling in McDonald v. Chicago that extended the protection of an “individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia” against state infringement which had been an open question since the earlier gun case of District of Columbia v. Heller. Specifically, I want to address obvious errors in the courts reasoning in supporting an “individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia” under the Second Amendment.
Before I do, I want to add the disclaimer that I am not arguing for or against particular gun laws but only arguing gun laws, no matter how wise or foolish, are not in any way applicable to the Second Amendment. Owning a gun for personal defense is a far different principle from the keeping and bearing of arms as part of the military power of a State through a well-regulated militia that had always been compelled by State law.
The first error I’ll address is the one that treats the Second Amendment as though it confers a right directly to people of the States. The federal Constitution, and specifically the Second Amendment, did not confer anything to the people in terms of individual rights and freedoms for the simple reason they already possessed such rights through their own sovereignty under their own constitutions. It was the States with the approval of the people who gave to the new federal government and not the other way around.
Amendments were asked for and offered only to calm anti-federalists fears over future claims of power of national government to do such things as establish and compel worship to a national religion, enact laws of seditious libel, or disarm and replace state militias with a standing army, etc. The Second Amendment’s purpose was declaratory much like the Tenth Amendment. The principle it declares is that the security of a free people (State) is through a well-regulated militia for which the reason of keeping and bearing arms shall not be infringed because there can be no security in a standing army during times of peace.
Perhaps no one explained the principle behind the Second Amendment better than Tench Coxe when he wrote in the Pennsylvania Gazette, 1788:
The powers of the sword, say the minority of Pennsylvania, is in the hands of Congress. My friends and countrymen, it is not so, for the powers of the sword are in the hands of the yeomanry of America from sixteen to sixty. The militia of these free commonwealths entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible [standing] army, must be tremendous and irresistible. Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom? Congress have no right to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American.
James Madison said standing armies during peace were “the greatest danger to liberty.”
One might argue the Second Amendment says nothing about standing armies but neither does the Third Amendment and historians agree it is rooted in the practice of maintaining a standing army during times of peace where law required people to quarter those troops on their property.[1] One of the things that made standing armies so odious was they lived among the people.
When early American patriots spoke of bearing arms they were talking about the safeguards of liberty through security of an armed and well organized citizenry in contrast to safeguarding their homes and families through a standing army and not any private right to own and use a gun. New Hampshire Governor John Page in June of 1841 explains these safeguards through an armed citizenry require efficiency through laws and organization:
The “right of the people to keep and bear arms,” is a right dear to every freeman; arms should be in the hands of every citizen of the Republic, who is able to wield them, and it is the duty of Government to prescribe such rules of organization and discipline, as will give those arms the greatest possible efficiency.
Pennsylvania Governor John Andrew Shulze said in 1829, “The right to bear arms is another important right guaranteed to all our citizens by the [Pennsylvania] constitution.” This right says he, imposes on the “legislature the duty of so organizing and disciplining the whole body of the citizens, that they shall be able, not only to bear arms, but to use them with confidence and skill, ‘in defense of themselves and the States, ’ if such a necessity shall arise.”
History shows all the States required by law those capable of bearing arms to do so, whether they were required by law to supply their own private arms or given public arms to use. Eventually all the States did away with compelling citizens to provide their own arms and instead armed their militias with public arms. When Tench Coxe once spoke of “private arms” he was referring to his own State of Pennsylvania law that militia members provide themselves with their own musket, else the fines for missing muster days would be used to purchase a musket for those unable to provide their own.
Armed militias of the citizens served as a vital function of providing a community with an armed police force when needed since there were no established police forces in early America that could respond to such events as rioting mobs. Framer James Wilson’s home was surrounded by an angry mob of 200 (some armed) in 1779 that required the calling out of the militia the following morning to disperse.
The bearing of arms was never considered a fundamental right of individuals to personally keep and use firearms but rather viewed as a civic duty, an obligation of citizenship in the same breath as casting a ballot or jury duty. One of the early arguments against granting suffrage to woman was it could lead to the obligation of them bearing arms. Proof of the civic function of bearing arms can be found in the denial of citizenship under former naturalization laws when potential new citizens refused to take an oath to bear arms.
The United States in July of 1863 issued orders forbidding citizens of the city of Baltimore and County to keep arms except those with the constitutional right to keep arms being members of a militia.
The court calls “explicit evidence” the words “constitutional right to bear arms” under §14 of the Freedmen’s Bureau Act that the 39th Congress viewed the right to keep and bear arms as a “fundamental right.” However, the insertion of these words was in response to the arming of all white militias within former Mississippi that excluded blacks. In other words, §14 of the Freedmen’s Bureau Act actually supports arms of the citizenry under a well-regulated militia rather than an individual right to arms outside of the service of a militia.
It is important to note the Freedmen’s Bureau Act was limited only to former rebel States that were then under United States military jurisdiction which in return made the Second Amendment applicable under any laws made by Congress while administering law within these former States.
This fact became very apparent with an act of Congress on March 2, 1867 that disbanded all the armed militias within former rebel States, leading to the charge Congress was infringing citizen’s right to keep and bear arms. President Johnson called the disbanding of the militias as “contrary to the express declaration of the Constitution, that ‘a well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.’” In other words, it was the people who bear arms that were the well-regulated militias that provided for the security of a free State.
The majority makes a bizarre claim that the Civil Rights Act of 1866 “similarly sought to protect the right of all citizens to keep and bear arms” as the Freedmen’s Bureau Act did, even though the Civil Rights Act made no mention about bearing arms. The majority tries to slink around this inconvenience by suggesting the words “the right … to have full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings concerning personal liberty, personal security, and the acquisition, enjoyment, and disposition of estate, real and personal” was understood by some to include bearing arms.
How did the majority come to this wild conclusion?
They think Sen. Lyman Trumbull suggested the Freedmen’s Bureau Act would have protected the right to bear arms without the words “constitutional right to bear arms” inserted. In reality, all he said was the insertion of “constitutional right to bear arms” under the Freedmen’s Bureau Act had no “material effect” to the already existing section.
The Civil Rights Act of 1866 is a bad act to cite since its author, Sen. Trumbull, said it was only intended to enforce the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States under §2 of Article IV, so “that a citizen of Massachusetts” could seek vindication or enforcement of a right in South Carolina courts. In other words, it isn’t horribly relevant since it was never viewed as advancing any personal rights under federal amendments to citizens under their own State.
Because all States compelled by law individual males of a certain age to keep arms (or arms were required to be stored in public armories) to bear when called upon to do so, dispels the idea of bearing arms was seen as a fundamental right for individual’s to own and use firearms outside of militia service. Instead, bearing arms was viewed as an obligation of citizenship in the service of the militia for both State and community defense and not anything to do with private firearms for personal use.
The declaratory principal found under the Second Amendment lies today in a dormant state due to the fact States no longer maintain and compel their citizens to serve in armed State militias as part of the security of a free State.
[1] Editorial comment: Not really true, There are drafts of the Second Amendment and other contemporary documents which make it quite clear that the existance of the militia was to prevent the establishment of a standing army. For Example:
XIII. That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; And that the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

Vermont: [T]he people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State -- and as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power (1777).
Virginia: That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.
See also:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

New bail for Zimmerman $1 million

Cross posted from
This guy is lucky he won't be spending every day until trial behind bars; and I'd give it a 50/50 chance  he does something else that gets bail revoked between now and trial. The man tried to deceive the court; his wife tried to deceive the court; the only difference was one of them lied by omission and the other by commission. Obtaining a second passport when only turning in one, the case is very good that these two were making arrangements to skip the country with money if things didn't go their way.

These are not good examples of innocent or law abiding people, they are people trying to scam and game the system, which makes their statements questionable. I'm still shaking my head over the allegation that Trayvon Martin stated "you got me" when Zimmerman shot him. That's bad dialog out of a z-grade old western movie; the other lines attributed to Martin are just as implausible. These are NOT believable people, and those who support them, those who gave them their hard earned money are just plain gullible.

From the STrib:

ORLANDO, Fla. - A Florida judge ruled Thursday that George Zimmerman can be released from jail a second time on $1 million bond, saying he set the bail amount significantly higher because Zimmerman may have been hiding money as part of a plot to flee the country.
Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester had revoked Zimmerman's $150,000 bond last month after prosecutors told the judge Zimmerman and his wife misled the court about how much money they had during an April bond hearing. Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
"It is entirely reasonable for this court to find that, but for the requirement that he be placed on electronic monitoring, the defendant and his wife would have fled the United States with at least $130,000 of other people's money," Lester wrote.
Prosecutors said a website Zimmerman created for his legal defense had raised $135,000 at the time of his first bond hearing. Zimmerman and his wife did not mention the money then, and Shellie Zimmerman even said the couple had limited resources because she was a student and he wasn't working.
The judge made his decision after listening last week to Zimmerman's attorney and a forensic financial analyst explain why he wasn't more forthcoming.
The judge expressed his unhappiness with Zimmerman and said that his actions suggest a possibility that he was preparing to flee to avoid prosecution.
"Under any definition, the defendant has flaunted the system," Lester wrote in the order. "The defendant has tried to manipulate the system when he has been presented the opportunity to do so."
Lester said he was granting bond because Zimmerman posed no threat to the community, and Florida law requires that most defendants receive bond if they pose no threat and can assure their presence for trial. The judge's order requires Zimmerman to be electronically monitored and residing in Seminole County, prohibits him from opening a bank account or obtaining a passport and implements a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. Zimmerman had been allowed to leave Florida under the conditions of his first bond release.
Prosecutors previously argued Zimmerman and his wife talked in code during recorded jailhouse conversations about how to transfer the donations to different bank accounts. For example, George Zimmerman at one point asked how much money they had. She replied "$155." Prosecutors allege that was code for $155,000. Their reference to "Peter Pan" was code for the PayPal system through which the donations were made, prosecutors said.
Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara sparred with prosecutors over those finances last week and questioned why his client is in jail at all, arguing that Martin's actions led to his death. O'Mara did not immediately return a phone message Thursday.
O'Mara ultimately decided against calling his client to the stand during last Friday's hearing, unlike during the first bond hearing, when Zimmerman apologized to Martin's family.
The defense attorney called Zimmerman's father to testify, and played a chilling 911 call from the Feb. 26 night when Martin was killed. The call includes a disputed cry for help and the fatal gunshot. Robert Zimmerman said he was sure that was his son's cry.
Shellie Zimmerman has since been charged with perjury. She is out of jail on $1,000 bond and her arraignment is set for July 31.
Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder for fatally shooting the unarmed 17-year-old Martin on Feb. 26 at a gated apartment community in Sanford. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty and claims the shooting was self-defense under the state's "stand your ground" law.
Martin's parents and supporters claim that the teenager was targeted because he was black and that Zimmerman started the confrontation that led to the shooting. Zimmerman's father is white and his mother is Hispanic.

The 44 days between the shooting and Zimmerman's arrest inspired nationwide protests, led to the departure of the Sanford police chief and prompted a U.S. Justice Department probe.

The Third Man - Cuckoo Clock Speech against Democracy, Peace & Brotherly Love

Stick to William Tell and the myth of the Universal Military, the reality is mush more depressing.

I found this in my surffing...

The Bill of Rights: Antipathy to Militarism by Jacob G. Hornberger, Posted December 3, 2004

The Third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that “no Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”
Obviously, the Third Amendment has little relevance today. But what is relevant for us today is the mindset that underlay the passage of that amendment — a mindset of deep antipathy toward militarism and standing armies. Our ancestors’ fierce opposition to a powerful military force was consistent with their overall philosophy that guided the formation of the Constitution and the passage of the Bill of Rights.
While the Framers understood the need for a federal government, what concerned them was the possibility that such a government would become a worse menace than no government at all. Their recent experience with the British government — which of course had been their government and against which they had taken up arms — had reinforced what they had learned through their study of history: that the biggest threat to the freedom and well-being of a people was their own government.
Thus, after several years operating under the Articles of Confederation, the challenge the Framers faced was how to bring a federal government into existence that would be sufficiently powerful to protect their rights and liberties but that would not also become omnipotent and tyrannical.
Their solution was the Constitution, a document that would call the federal government into existence but limit its powers to those expressly enumerated in the document itself. Thus, a close examination of the Constitution shows that the powers of the U.S. government originate in it. The idea was that if a power wasn’t enumerated, federal officials were precluded from exercising it.
Even that, however, was not good enough for our American ancestors. They wanted an express restriction on the abridgement of what had become historically recognized as fundamental and inherent rights of the people. In other words, they wanted what could be considered an express insurance policy for the protection of their rights. While government officials could not lawfully exercise powers that were not enumerated in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights would make the point even more emphatically that federal officials had no authority to abridge the fundamental rights of the people.
The Constitution provided other measures to protect against the rise of omnipotent and tyrannical government. One was the division of government into three separate branches, with the aim of establishing a system of “checks and balances” that would prevent the rise of powerful centralized government. Another was the Second Amendment, which ensured that the people would retain the means of resisting tyranny or even violently overthrowing a tyrannical government should the need arise.
Given their view that the federal government they were bringing into existence constituted the biggest threat to their freedom and well-being, constantly on the minds of our ancestors was the primary means by which governments had historically subjected their people to tyranny — through the use of the government’s military forces. That is the primary reason for the deep antipathy that the Founders had for an enormous standing military force in their midst. They understood fully that if such a force existed, their own government would possess the primary means by which governments have always imposed tyranny on their own people.

Using armies for tyranny
Historically, governments had misused standing armies in two ways, both of which ultimately subjected the citizenry to tyranny. One was to engage in faraway wars, which inevitably entailed enormous expenditures, enabling the government to place ever-increasing tax burdens on the people. Such wars also inevitably entailed “patriotic” calls for blind allegiance to the government so long as the war was being waged. Consider, for example, the immortal words of James Madison, who is commonly referred to as “the father of the Constitution”:
Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people.... [There is also an] inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and ... degeneracy of manners and of morals.... No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
The second way to use a standing army to impose tyranny was the direct one — the use of troops to establish order and obedience among the citizenry. Ordinarily, if a government has no huge standing army at its disposal, many people will choose to violate immoral laws that always come with a tyrannical regime; that is, they engage in what is commonly known as “civil disobedience” — the disobedience to immoral laws. But as the Chinese people discovered at Tiananmen Square, when the government has a standing army to enforce its will, civil disobedience becomes much more problematic.
Consider again the words of Madison:
A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.
The idea is that governments use their armies to produce the enemies, then scare the people with cries that the barbarians are at the gates, and then claim that war is necessary to put down the barbarians. With all this, needless to say, comes increased governmental power over the people.
Sound familiar?

The Founding Fathers
Here is how Henry St. George Tucker put it in Blackstone’s 1768 Commentaries on the Laws of England:
Wherever standing armies are kept up, and when the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.
Virginian Patrick Henry pointed out the difficulty associated with violent resistance to tyranny when a standing army is enforcing the orders of the government:
A standing army we shall have, also, to execute the execrable commands of tyranny; and how are you to punish them? Will you order them to be punished? Who shall obey these orders? Will your mace-bearer be a match for a disciplined regiment?
When the Commonwealth of Virginia ratified the Constitution in 1788, its concern over standing armies mirrored that of Patrick Henry:
... that standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.
Virginia’s concern was expressed by North Carolina, which stated in its Declaration of Rights in 1776,
that the people have a Right to bear Arms for the Defence of the State, and as Standing Armies in Time of Peace are dangerous to Liberty, they ought not to be kept up, and that the military should be kept under strict Subordination to, and governed by the Civil Power.
The Pennsylvania Convention repeated that principle:
... as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military shall be kept under strict subordination to and be governed by the civil power.
The U.S. State Department’s own website describes the convictions of the Founding Fathers regarding standing armies:
Wrenching memories of the Old World lingered in the 13 original English colonies along the eastern seaboard of North America, giving rise to deep opposition to the maintenance of a standing army in time of peace. All too often the standing armies of Europe were regarded as, at best, a rationale for imposing high taxes, and, at worst, a means to control the civilian population and extort its wealth.
In fact, as Roy G. Weatherup pointed out in his excellent article, “Standing Armies and Armed Citizens: A Historical Analysis of the Second Amendment” ( 1_stand.html), the abuses of their government’s standing army was one of the primary reasons that the British colonists took up arms against that army in 1776:
[The Declaration of Independence] listed the colonists’ grievances, including the presence of standing armies, subordination of civil to military power, use of foreign mercenary soldiers, quartering of troops, and the use of the royal prerogative to suspend laws and charters. All of these legal actions resulted from reliance on standing armies in place of the militia.
Moreover, as William S. Fields and David T. Hardy point out in their excellent article, “The Third Amendment and the Issue of the Maintenance of Standing Armies: A Legal History” ( Hardy2.html), the deep antipathy that the Founders had toward standing armies followed a long tradition among the British people of opposing the standing armies of their king:
The experience of the early Middle Ages had instilled in the English people a deep aversion to the professional army, which they came to associate with oppressive taxes, and physical abuses of their persons and property (and corresponding fondness for their traditional institution the militia). This development was to have a profound effect on the development of civil rights in both England and the American colonies.... During the seventeenth century, problems associated with the involuntary quartering of soldiers and the maintenance of standing armies became crucial issues propelling the English nation toward civil war.
Did the antipathy against standing armies mean that our ancestors were pacifists? On the contrary! After all, don’t forget that they had only recently won a violent war against their own government and its enormous and powerful standing army.
In their minds, the military bedrock of a free society lay not in an enormous standing army but rather in the concept of the citizen-soldier — the person in ordinary life in civil society who is well-armed and well-trained in the use of weapons and who is always ready in times of deepest peril to come to the aid of his country — but only to defend against invasion and not to go overseas to wage wars of aggression or wars of “liberation.” As John Quincy Adams put it in his July 4, 1821, address to Congress, America “does not go abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.”

U.S. foreign policy
Are the ideas and principles of the Founding Fathers relevant today? They couldn’t be more relevant. Many decades ago, President Dwight Eisenhower warned us about the growing power of the military-industrial complex in American life. Unfortunately, the American people failed to heed his warning. The result has been an ever-growing military cancer that is bringing death, ruin, shame, and economic disaster to our nation — just as our Founding Fathers said it would.
More and more people are finally recognizing that the anger and hatred that foreigners have for the United States is rooted in morally bankrupt, deadly, and destructive foreign policies — policies that have been enforced by America’s enormous standing military force. The resulting blow-back in terms of terrorist attacks, such as those on the World Trade Center in 1993 and 2001, have been used as the excuse for waging more wars thousands of miles away, and those wars have produced even more anger and hatred, with the concomitant threat of even more terrorist counter-responses. All that, in turn, has provided the excuse for more foreign interventions, ever-increasing military budgets, consolidation of power, increasing taxes, and massive infringements on the civil liberties of the American people.
It is not a coincidence that the president’s indefinite detention and punishment of American citizens for suspected terrorist crimes without according them due process, habeas corpus, right to counsel, jury trials, freedom of speech, or other fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are being enforced by the standing army that our ancestors warned us against. And make no mistake about it: Given orders of their commander in chief, especially in a “national security crisis,” to establish “order” in America, U.S. soldiers will do the same thing that soldiers throughout history have done — they will obey the orders given to them. Just ask the survivors of the massacre at the Branch Davidian compound at Waco or the victims of rape and sex abuse at Abu Graib prison in Iraq or Jose Padilla, an American citizen who is currently in Pentagon custody, where he has been denied due process, habeas corpus, and other rights accorded by the U.S. Constitution.
In determining the future direction of our nation, the choice is clear: Do we continue down the road of empire, standing armies, foreign wars and occupations, and sanctions and embargoes, along with the taxes, regulations, and loss of liberty that inevitably come with them? Do we continue a foreign policy, enforced by the U.S. military, that engenders ever-increasing anger and hatred among the people of the world, which then engenders violent “blowback” against Americans, which is in turn used to justify more of the same policies?
Or do we change direction and move our nation in the direction of the vision of our Founding Fathers — toward liberty and the restoration of a republic to our nation — toward a society in which the government is limited to protecting the nation from invasion and barred from invading or attacking foreign nations — a world in which the United States is once again the model society for freedom, prosperity, peace, and harmony — a nation in which the Statue of Liberty once again becomes a shining beacon for those striving to escape the tyranny and oppression of their own governments?
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.
This article was originally published in the September 2004 edition of Freedom Daily.

Classic Post: The best question for "Individual Rights Scholars"

What about the issue of standing armies? Wasn't that a significant aspect of the debates surrounding the adoption of the Constitution?

The Anti-Federalist who called himself "Centinel" wrote a series of letters that appeared in the Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer in late 1787 and early 1788. He referred to standing armies in his second letter as "that grand engine of oppression."

The "Federal Farmer" wrote a series of letters that were published in the Poughkeepsie Country Journal in late 1787 and early 1788. In his third letter, he lamented that under the new Constitution Congress "will have unlimited power to raise armies, and to engage officers and men for any number of years." He then voiced his objection to standing armies:

I see so many men in American fond of a standing army, and especially among those who probably will have a large share in administering the federal system; it is very evident to me, that we shall have a large standing army as soon as the monies to support them can be possibly found. An army is not a very agreeable place of employment for the young gentlemen of many families.
He also stated in his thirteenth letter that "we all agree, that a large standing army has a strong tendency to depress and inslave the people."

Those in the Pennsylvania ratification convention who objected to the proposed Constitution published their views in the Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser on December 18, 1787, as The Address and Reasons of Dissent of the Minority of the Convention of Pennsylvania to Their Constituents. In their address, these Pennsylvania delegates remarked that one of the helps to Congress completing "the system of despotism" is "when a numerous standing army shall render opposition vain." The delegates in the minority also stated that in case the new government "must be executed by force," the framers of the Constitution "have therefore made a provision for this purpose in a permanent STANDING ARMY, and a MILITIA that may be subjected to as strict discipline and government." They objected to a standing army because:
A standing army in the hands of a government placed so independent of the people, may be made a fatal instrument to overturn the public liberties; it may be employed to enforce the collection of the most oppressive taxes, and to carry into execution the most arbitrary measures. An ambitious man who may have the army at his devotion, may step up into the throne, and seize upon absolute power.
The Anti-Federalist who signed his 1788 essays in the Baltimore Maryland Gazette "A Farmer" gave historical examples in his second essay to show that "both political and civil liberty have long since ceased to exist in almost all the countries that now employ standing troops, and that their slavery has in every instance been effected and maintained by the instrumentality and invariable obedience of these living machines to their chief." He mentions not only that in England "a standing army is declared to be contrary to their constitution, and a militia the only natural and safe defense of a free people," but also that in America "the constitutions of all the States positively forbid any standing troops at all, much less laws for them." For example:
Massachusetts: "And as in times of peace, armies are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be maintained without the consent of the legislature."

Pennsylvania & North Carolina: "And as standing armies in the time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up."

Maryland & Delaware: "That standing armies are dangerous to liberty, and ought not to be raised or kept without consent of the legislature."
"A Farmer" also mused in this essay: "I was persuaded that the grave would have closed on my bones, before this question would be publicly proposed in America. — Are we then to look up to a standing army for the defence of this soil from foreign invasion?" In his sixth essay, he included as a "great and manifest" defect in the proposed government "the manifest danger to public liberty from a standing army, without limitation of number, in time of peace."

If you read the literature, you find the issue was standing armies: in particular, a Federal Standing Army--not personal weapons.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4th of July Trivia quiz!

Let's play 40 Patriotic questions - from

These are 20 questions selected from the U.S. citizenship test given to immigrants. I wrote the additional bonus questions which accompany each citizenship test question. Answers are provided after the test; you're on your honor not to cheat!
If you do well with the multiple choice format, keep in mind that immigrants seeking citizenship have to answer these orally, fully to the satisfaction of the test giver, WITHOUT the crutch of multiple choice answers being provided.
The bonus questions are provided by me, however, not MSNBC or the citizenship test.
1. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
A. George Washington
B. Thomas Jefferson
C. James Madison
D. John Hancock

Bonus point question -- WHERE did he write it?

2. When was the Constitution written?
A. 1774
B. 1776
C. 1787
D. 1865

Bonus point question - WHERE was it written?

3.What are the first words of the Constitution?
A. When, in the course of human events
B. In order to form a more perfect Union
C. To whom it may concern
D. We the People

These are way too easy - so here's the next bonus question: What are the LAST words of the original constitution? (sure, you'll have to look it up -- but what a great trivia question to ask your colleagues
on your next day back at work.)

4. What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?
A. The Preamble
B. The Bill of Rights (Your Answer)
C. The Statute of Liberty
D. Declaration of Independence

So let's test your knowledge of that Constitution a little further with a two part two point bonus question: What number was the amendment that resulted in prohibition of alcohol (aka the Volstead Act) and what was the number of the amendment that repealed prohibition?
5. Which of the following is NOT a right outlined in the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence?
A. Life
B. Liberty
C. Right to bear arms
D. Pursuit of happiness

Bonus question : How many patriotic revolutionaries signed the Declaration of Independence?
6. Which one of these is a right guaranteed by the First Amendment?
A. Freedom of the press
B. Right to trial by jury
C. Right to bear arms
D. Right to happiness

Bonus question - name three other rights in the First Amendment.

7. How many amendments does the Constitution have?
A. 10
B. 17
C. 23
D. 27

Bonus question - What was the 27th Amendment, and when did it go into effect?

8. Why does the United States Flag have 13 stripes?
A. One for each state in the Union.
B. The number of seats in the cabinet
C. They represent the 13 original colonies
D. One for each article of the Constitution

What was the greatest number of stripes that the official flag of the United States ever had?
9. Which of these was not among the original 13 states?
A. New Hampshire
B. New York
C. Delaware
D. Vermont

Which state was the first state to ratify the Constitution, earning that first star on the U.S. flag and the distinction of being the very first state in the United States?

10. What territory did the United States buy from France in 1803?

A. Maine
B. Alaska
C. Vermont
D. Louisiana

My bonus question - the Louisiana purchase included land that was later ceded to Canada, forming the southern parts of two provinces. What geographic demarcation that forms the 48 state northern U.S. boundary gave that Louisiana purchase territory to Canada?

11. Which one of the following is NOT one of the three branches of government?

A. Legislative
B. Executive
C. Judicial
D. Federal

Bonus question - how did we originally elect our Vice President?

12. The House of Representatives has how many voting members?

A. 100
B. 365
C. 435
D. 646

Bonus question - what early Vice President gave his name to oddly shaped congressional districts, and what is that kind of distorting of districts called?

13. We elect a U. S. Senator for how many years?

A. 2
B. 4
C. 6
D. 8

What were the first three new states admitted to the Union AFTER the original 13?

14. In what month do we vote for President?

A. January
B. February
C. September
D. November

Bonus question, when did it become the law that we vote on a Tuesday? (give yourself a pat on the back and a gold star if you know WHY we vote on a Tuesday.)

15. If both the President and the Vice President can no longer serve, who becomes President?

A. Secretary of State
B. Secretary of Defense
C. The Speaker of the House
D. President Pro Tempore of the Senate

Bonus question - what does the President Pro Tempore of the Senate DO?

16. How many justices of the Supreme Court are there?

A. 3
B. 5
C. 7
D. 9

Bonus question - which came first, a black Supreme Court Justice or a female Supreme Court Justice?
Double bonus points if you can name the first female Supreme Court Justice and who appointed her.

17. Who is the Chief Justice of the United States?

A. John Paul Stevens
B. John G. Roberts, Jr.
C. Antonin Scalia
D. Samuel Alito

Bonus question, does a Supreme Court Justice have to be a natural born citizen of the U. S.?

18. What did Susan B. Anthony do?

A. Hid John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Abraham Lincoln
B. Designed and made the original U.S. flag.
C. Designed the original U. S. currency
D. Fought for women's rights

Did the American revolution begin before or after the Declaration of Independence?

19. Who was President during World War I?

A. Theodore Roosevelt
B. Warren G. Harding
C. Franklin Roosevelt
D. Woodrow Wilson

Bonus question : Who was Abraham Lincoln's Vice President, who subsequently replaced him after Lincoln's assassination?

20. Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the federal government. Which of the following is NOT a federal power?

A. To declare war
B. To print money
C. To declare treaties
D. To provide education

Bonus question What was the name of the treaty that ended the American Revolution, and where was it signed?

1.B; 2. C; 3. D; 4. B; 5. C; 6 A; 7. D; 8. C; 9. D; 10. D; 11. D; 12. C; 13. C; 14. D; 15. C; 16. D; 17. B; 18. D; 19. D; 20. D

Bonus question answers:
1. the Graff House, also known as the Declaration House, in Philadelphia PA
2. the Philadelphia State House- there were three committees established - the declaration committee, the constitution committee, and the treaty with France committee, that went to work in Philly.
3. "done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,"
4. 18th and 21st Amendments
5. 56 - but they signed it over a period of months
6. Freedom of religion, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Speech
7. originating in 1789, it went into effect in 1992; it stipulates that no increases or decreases in salary for members of Congress do not go in effect until the next term of office / after an election has intervened.
8. 15; early in the history of the U.S., a new stripe and a new star were added for each additional state admitted to the Union.
9. Delaware
10. 49th parallel
11. the Vice President was originally the candidate who had the second greatest number of votes.
12. Elbridge Gerry, gerrymandering
13. Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee
14. Congress agreed on Tuesday in 1845, in 1875 included Congressional elections and in 1914 made it the official date for Senate elections
15. the President Pro Tempore presides when the Vice President is not present, and is usually the most senior member of the Senate; he or she is also just behind the Speaker of the House in presidential succession.
16. Thurgood Marshall was the first black Supreme Court Justice, appointed in 1967; Sandra Day O'Connor was the first woman Supreme Court Justice, appointed by Ronald Reagan.
17. There are absolutely NO requirements in the Constitution for becoming a Supreme Court Justice - not age, not age, citizenship, or experience - no law degree or previous experience as a judge is specified.
18. Before, by approximately one year
19. Andrew Johnson; while Lincoln was an early Republican, Andrew Johnson was a Democrat.
20. the 1783 Treaty of Paris ended the conflict between England and the U.S.; the Peace of Paris was a series of treaties that ended the conflict between U.S. allies France, Spain and the Dutch Republic and England - each nation signed a separate treaty with England.

a FAIR take on Fast and Furious -- and the errors of fact on the right

I would not advocate believing Eban's piece in Fortune on Fast and Furious, if it did not pass fact-checking (she's known for her meticulous, award winning research - and she isn't putting that rep at risk in this piece) and the sniff test.  It passes with flying colors on both counts.

Literally, from FAIR, a site on factual reporting, spotlighting bias in the media:

Media Advisory

Not So Fast on Fast & Furious
CBS sold 'scandal' on false premises

If you've paid much attention to media reports about the "Fast and Furious" scandal, you may be under the impression that government agencies inexplicably allowed guns to be purchased in the United States and shipped across the border to drug lords in Mexico, where they ended up being connected to the December 2010 death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Soon after Terry's death, the story bloomed into a political scandal, with conservative lawmakers demanding to know who was behind the program. Barack Obama has claimed executive privilege to block the release of internal Justice Department communications about the program. That led to a congressional vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt.

But an investigation in Fortune (6/27/12) shows that there are serious holes in the Fast & Furious narrative told by right-wing media--and, most influentially, by the CBS Evening News.

The most obvious question about the program--run out of a Phoenix office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)--is one journalists are taught to ask first: Why? Why wouldn't law enforcement officials arrest gun buyers in this country who were placing unusually large orders of powerful weapons and shipping them to Mexican drug gangs? According to the story told by CBS, the point was to let guns "walk" in order to catch the bigger fish on the other side of the border.

Risky as that sounds, some on the right have accused the program of having even more sinister aims: The Obama administration, they charge, deliberately let guns fall into the hands of criminals, hoping to use the ensuing crisis to push for new, more restrictive gun laws. Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who has championed the scandal, raised this possibility in an appearance before the NRA. (ABC's Jake Tapper questioned Issa about his remarks on June 24.)

But according to the new investigation by Fortune's Katherine Eban, the real story is very different. As Eban wrote:

Indeed, a six-month Fortune investigation reveals that the public case alleging that [local ATF official Dave] Voth and his colleagues walked guns is replete with distortions, errors, partial truths and even some outright lies.

One key fact is that Arizona, home to many "straw buyers," boasts incredibly lax gun laws. As a result, local prosecutors would not prosecute the drug cartels' gun buyers--because, they said, charges wouldn't stand up in court. The permissive gun laws that make it exceedingly difficult to indict suspicious gun buyers, Eban points out, are championed by groups like the NRA. Eban noted the irony:

Republicans who support the National Rifle Association and its attempts to weaken gun laws are lambasting ATF agents for not seizing enough weapons--ones that, in this case, prosecutors deemed to be legal.

Indeed, ATF agents compiled what they believed to be detailed cases against specific buyers--20 suspects paying $350,000 for over 600 guns as of January 2010. One suspect--who was apparently receiving food stamps--had purchased $300,000 worth of firearms in six months.

[Let me interject here into the FAIR piece, that in the operation in Minnesota which was the forerunner to this effort by the ATF, there was NOT a similar problem with a willingness to pursue prosecution; however there WAS a problem with adequate resources to pursue the cases that the ATF produced.  The prosecutors couldn't come close to handling the cases produced in a gang activity focused task force's results.  The problem in a sense was the opposite of AZ; too many, not too few.]

But prosecutors thought otherwise, as Eban explained:
It was nearly impossible in Arizona to bring a case against a straw purchaser. The federal prosecutors there did not consider the purchase of a huge volume of guns, or their handoff to a third party, sufficient evidence to seize them. A buyer who certified that the guns were for himself, then handed them off minutes later, hadn't necessarily lied and was free to change his mind. Even if a suspect bought 10 guns that were recovered days later at a Mexican crime scene, this didn't mean the initial purchase had been illegal. To these prosecutors, the pattern proved little. Instead, agents needed to link specific evidence of intent to commit a crime to each gun they wanted to seize.

Eban's investigations shows that ATF officials were forced to go to considerable lengths--involving wiretaps of suspected recruiters--in order to build cases that prosecutors would follow up. But wiretap applications dragged on in some cases. Prosecutors did not step in, Eban reports, until the Terry murder--at which point 20 suspects were indicted.

So why did Fast & Furious become a national scandal? Obama's claim of executive privilege certainly aroused suspicion, and some genuine concern about government transparency. Conservative media have been obsessed with the story. But the "scandal," as Eban shows, gained a national platform thanks mostly to CBS Evening News and reporter Sharyl Attkisson.

Attkisson's first report (3/3/11) alleged that her ATF agent source, whose job is to "stop gun trafficking across the border," was told to do something else:
He says he was ordered to sit by and watch it happen. Investigators call the tactic letting guns walk. In this case, into the hands of criminals who would use them in Mexico and the U.S.

Attkisson told viewers that "the idea was to see where the guns ended up, build a big case and take down a major cartel." She added that the ATF "not only allowed the guns to walk, they videotaped it."

This was how CBS reporters consistently described the operation: "ATF was allegedly allowing Mexican drug cartels be armed with assault rifles from the U.S.," Attkisson explained (3/4/11). Anchor Bob Schieffer (10/3/11) told viewers that
the idea was to allow illegal guns to be shipped into Mexico so investigators could be traced where they were going and get a better handle on where Mexico's criminal cartels were operating. The program has been a disaster.

[Another interjection here - I watched the original airing of that episode of Face the Nation.  No one was questioning - and they should have - the explanation for what happened.  BAD reporting.  I thought there was something missing at the time -- the prosecutor aspect.]
And on June 20, 2012, Attkisson offered this recap of the story:

In late 2009, ATF agents in Phoenix noticed a flurry of gun purchases in the United States by suspected traffickers from Mexican drug cartels, including giant 50-caliber rifles. But instead of stopping the weapons, agents say their superiors ordered them to let the guns cross the border. It's called gun walking, to see where they ended up and see if they would lead to a major drug cartel leader.

The Fortune investigation demonstrates that CBS's reporting of the story is, at best, highly misleading. There was, in fact, no plan to purposely allow guns to flow into Mexico. What there was, rather, was a belief that applicable gun laws made it impossible to legally seize the guns.

That flawed assumption formed the basis of CBS's reporting on the issue. And Eban notes that in one CBS segment (3/3/11), Attkisson shaped the facts to match that storyline:

There was so much opposition to the gun walking that an ATF supervisor issued this e-mail noting a schism among the agents.

That is inaccurate. As Eban reports, the "schism" involved office politics-- including "petty arguing" and "adolescent behavior." It was not an argument over the supposed ATF plan to let guns flow to drug cartels. (The Fortune website includes the entire memo.)
What about the gun that was found at the scene of Brian Terry's murder? According to CBS's Attkison (3/3/11), "Two assault rifles ATF had let walk nearly a year before, similar to these, were found at Terry's murder." But Eban points out, the guns in question were purchased legally. By the time the ATF was notified by the gun dealer, "the legally purchased guns had been gone for three days. The agents had never seen the weapons and had no chance to seize them."

The Fortune investigation calls into question the very foundation of the story that has been reported by major news outlets. And it documents the impact of lax gun laws, which would seem to be the main factor limiting law enforcement from stopping these weapons transfers.

In the wake of the Fortune story, more information is coming out that challenges the CBS storyline. NBC Nightly News (6/29/12) interviewed former ATF agent William Newell, who said: "The notion that we somehow intentionally let guns walk is insane. It never happened."
[This brings us to the crux of so many conservative conspiracy theories -- they are full of holes, they aren't factually accurate, and they should be implausible on the surfact to anyone who engages in critical thinking.  Consistently, the right FAILS utterly to ask the right questions or to pursue honest answers instead of answers and fantasies that conform to their ideology.]
But CBS Evening News, which did so much to turn this story into a national scandal, does not appear to have followed up on the Fast & Furious story since the Fortune piece came out.

Classic Post: The Second Amendment and the Military Industrial Complex

OK, Maybe the coin has dropped and the concept that the Second Amendment has nothing to do with "gun rights", but is related to the prevention of the establishment of a standing army (like its neighbour the Third Amendment) has soaked in.

The US Constitution is pretty much a pacifist document with the original concept being that the military would follow the Swiss Model. That is there would be a small professional army tasked with training and administration that would support the larger amature (part-time/non-professional militia) Militia. The hope was that would prevent the establishment of a standing army.

As the Swiss model shows, that is an excellent defense force. But it's not very good for aggressive purposes. Also, the Swiss model requires a lot of commitment from people in regard to time. It's not just sitting there saying you're a member of some "unorganised militia"--it's actually training, drill, and other military duty.

We can also add in to this whole stew that the Congress has the power To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 12).

The real fear was standing armies, or to quote Elbridge Gerry:
What, sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty. Now, it must be evident, that, under this provision, together with their other powers, Congress could take such measures with respect to a militia, as to make a standing army necessary.
In 1961, President Eisenhower says this in a speech:
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
According to Carl Bogus for nearly a century, the collective right model remained not only widely accepted but uncontroversial. The first article advocating the "individual right" interpretation appeared in 1960. Titled The Right To Bear Arms, A Study in Judicial Misinterpretation, it was a student article in the William and Mary Law Review. Robert J. Spitzer comes to the same conclusion:

"Including these three early articles, a total of eleven articles on the Second Amendment appeared in law journals from 1912 to 1959. All of them reflected what is here labeled the 'court' view of the Second Amendment - namely, that the Second Amendment affects citizens only in connection with citizen service in a government-organized and regulated militia."
Is it coincidence that the "individual" (non-Militia) right interpretation appears at roughly the same time as Eisenhower is warning about the influence of the Military-Industrial complex?

Moreover notice how what Bogus calls "widely accepted" and "uncontroversial" has become controversial--especially on the internet.

Is it a coincidence that this is happening at a time when the Military is being built up to the largest it ever was?

If you've read the primary sources you'll see the founders gave a rat's arse for private ownership of guns. Their prime concern was the possibility of the establishment of a large standing army and the evils such a body brings.

That's what they meant when they were talking about tyranny:
It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people.

See also:

Classic Post: Pride and Prejudice...and THE MILITIA!

Yeah, we're talking the Jane Austin Pride and Prejudice where the Bennet girls become friendly with militia officers stationed in the nearby town. The militia is leaving town, which makes the younger, rather man-crazy Bennet girls distraught. Lydia manages to obtain permission from her father to spend the summer with an old colonel in Brighton, where one of the officer's regiment will be stationed.

The subplot of the militia in Pride and Prejudice is a constant throughout the novel. Though members of the militia were only required to train for twenty eight days of the year, they were often thought to be superior patriots and were generally held in high regard. The militia served as Britain's standing army of reserve troops; during the the late Georgian and the Regency eras. Their purpose was to defend Britain in case of a French invasion. When Pride and Prejudice was written, Britain was on the verge of war with France and eventually became involved in the Napoleonic Wars, therefore Austen's inclusion of officers in Pride and Prejudice merely accurately reflected the perception of the militia at the time.

Since training lasted only twenty eight days of the year, Lydia's expectation that Colonel Forster would host a ball in Meryton was not unrealistic at all, and given the lack of conflict on British soil combined with widespread respect for the patriotic militia officers, their presence at such social events was probably commonplace. Indeed, in Pride and Prejudice the absence of the militia greatly affected Elizabeth in that "parties abroad were less varied than before; and at home she had a mother and sister whose constant repinings at the dulness of everything around them, threw a real gloom over their domestic circle". Essentially, the absence of soldiers did not affect the safety of the surrounding area of their former camp, but the social life.

Wickham's position as an officer in the militia and a gentlemen allows him to escape from paying his debts for quite awhile, but when Mr. Gardiner and Mr. Bennet must finally research his debts, it is found that he has many "debts of honor"to other officers, and that he was a "gamester". Such debts demonstrate the laxity of the volunteer military atmosphere and the culture of the military regiments, the greater implication being that many militia men are involved in gambling, and that Wickham is one of the few who dishonorably ignore his debts.

Of course, the role of the militia is much more interesting in the later versions of Pride and Prejudice--Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls where the militia proves useful in combatting the dreadfuls (otherwise known as zombies). That and the Bennet girls' ladylike martial arts abilities.

See also:
  • Fulford, Tim, Sighing for a Soldier: Jane Austen and Military Pride and Prejudice, Nineteenth-Century Literature, Vol. 57, No. 2. (2002), pp. 153-178.

Hot Shots!

Shoot-em Up gun advocates are burning up acres of private and public land.
Despite the clear and obvious dangers, gun nuts are more concerned about asserting their predilection for shooting, and the damages to the property of others, or the losses to state lands that belong to all of us be damned.  Their patriotic 2nd amendment fervor is really just selfish narrow-mindedness.
From USA Today:

Gunfire blamed for more wildfires; target shooting limited

By Michael Winter, USA TODAY
Updated 43m ago
Here's news that may start a firestorm: Officials say gunfire has ignited some wildfires in the bone-dry West, and some states are limiting outdoor shooting to reduce fire risk.

Target shooting or other firearms have started at least 21 wildfires in Utah and nearly a dozen in Idaho, the Associated Press says. Gunfire has also been cited for causing wildfires in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Washington.
But as officials seek to limit outdoor shooting or ammunition, they are running up against a formidable force: the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, is taking heat for authorizing restrictions on target shooting on state and county land after it was determined that gunfire started one blaze. Officials were deciding today how to impose the politically charged ban in some areas because of the fire risk, the Salt Lake Tribune says. A decision is expected soon.
"This does not abridge anybody's constitutional right to bear firearms," Herbert said. "But we're facing a serious fire season, and the state forester has the authority to limit [shooting] in unincorporated areas."
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has limited target-shooting hours at the 114,150-acre Wenas Wildlife Area after shooters started a fire June 23 that burned seven acres. From now through Sept. 30, target shooting is allowed only from sunrise to 11 a.m.
AP explains the numbers of gunfire-caused fires:
Statistics on wildfires caused by firearms are incomplete because the federal government does not list "shooting" as a cause on its fire reports. But some officials write in "target" or "shoot" as a cause, said Jennifer Jones of the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.
On land managed by the U.S. Forest Service only, the center found 17 such wildfires in 2010, 28 last year and 13 so far this year.
This year, the Bureau of Land Management said 11 of 31 wildfires it has battled in Idaho have been sparked by shooting activities.
The Salt Lake Tribune writes the state has experienced more than 400 wildfires this year, with "more than a dozen linked to discharging firearms." Here's background on one of them, the Millville fire.
Nevada authorities say a spark from a shooting range apparently ignited a 6-square-mile wildfire that damaged power transmission lines between Ely and McGill.
Gun-rights advocates have doubts that firearms are responsible for so many fires.
"I don't know how much of a problem it really is," said Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Sports Shooting Council. He estimated that target shooter may be responsible for perhaps 5% of wildfires in the state this year.
In a later statement to CBS News, the shooting group said, "We may concede that the improper acts of some shooters may have in fact caused fires, but to impugn all shooters and the sport is to demonize an activity that is safely done by tens of thousands of Utahns every week."
MSNBC notes some of the other causes of wildfires: lightning, campfires, cigarettes, car crashes, ATVs, climate change, trains and railroad saws.
Utah officials say sparks from steel-jacketed bullets striking rocks have ignited the dry, surrounding vegetation. They also blame target that explode when hit.
Officials are recommending shooters use lead bullets because they don't spark, although they pose poisoning dangers to wildlife and the environment.
"We're not trying to pull away anyone's right to bear arms. I want to emphasize that," Louinda Downs, a county commissioner in fire-prone Davis County, Utah, told AP. "We're just saying target practice in winter. Target practice on the gun range.
"When your pleasure hobby is infringing or threatening someone else's right to have property or life, shouldn't we be able to somehow have some authority so we can restrict that?"
Update at 8:47 p.m. ET: The Utah State Forester has announced restrictions on target shooting and ammunition, along with limits on various other actions that could cause wildfires, The Herald Journal reports.
The bans, which apply to land, roads and trails in unincorporated areas of the state, take effect Wednesday at 12:01 a.m. MT.
The state is prohibiting the firing of steel-jacketed or steel-core ammunition, tracer ammunition and on using exploding targets. Limits are also being placed on smoking and open fires, along with cutting, welding or grinding metal.
The state's Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands said only incorporated cities and towns are exempt, along with those with permits for the prohibited actions.

American idiot from Gary Tank Commander

And if this lot is calling you idiots...

Of course, I dedicate this song to some of the more obnoxious commenters--especially the anonymi. This reminds me of you and why I find you unpersuasive.

The original vid:

Thank God, we don't have you lot part of country!

yeah, yeah, you're a bunch of geniuses.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fast and Furious - the inherent contradiction

I've been perusing a bit of the right wing blogosphere.  Their take on the Eban expose of the Fast and Furious scandal is interesting, if neither fact based nor logical.

The premise of the Fast and Furious scandal is that ATF agents observed straw purchases of firearms, often in large quantities, that were quickly turned over to people who were not legal purchasers, as private transactions which are not subject to FFL checks.

These firearms then were trafficked over the border to a drug cartel.

The glitch in the right wingnut crazy conspiracy theory is that arrests should have been made.

The documentation is that those arrests were forbidden by the prosecutors, because of lax gun laws that made such transactions to drug cartels effectively legal.  Without prosecutorial approval, arrests could not take place. PERIOD.

This does not make the ATF responsible for the sale and transfer of those firearms.  This just proves they witnessed and documented that such transactions occur daily, whether they are monitored or not.

I was surprised to see that some gun nuts believe that this was some sort of sting operation, that there was some form of encouragement by the ATF to cause these straw purchases to occur.  That is not the case.  In those who claim to 'fact check', I have yet to see anyone debunk that 1. prosecutor approval is necessary for an ATF arrest; and 2. that there were no such arrest approvals received by the ATF from prosecutors.

Rather it is clear that these prosecutors in states like Arizona with NRA sponsored lax gun laws routinely DO NOT PROSECUTE STRAW PURCHASES -- not through arrests by the ATF, or DEA, or local police, or state law enforcement.

I have yet to see where anyone of the pro-gunner gun zombies can explain how useful it would be to make an arrest without prosecution, or at least reasonable expectation of prosecution.  And I have yet to see where anyone can demonstrate that such prosecution in these states like Arizona occur, EVER.

IF you cannot provide that documentation, which has not been sought by the Issa investigation, you cannot fault the ATF for failing to make arrests.  As to the hysteria that Eric Holder did not produce documentation as requested, in fact he produced a considerable amount.  It was a relatively small subset of subpoenaed documents that were in question, and Holder made an effort to find ways to provide those, or at least most of those, to Congress IF - big IF - security for the information could be negotiated.

Ordinarily I would be reluctant to take the side of anyone resisting a congressional investigation, but I believe that Issa, along with a few other notable members of congress, like Congressman Peter King, who have on a variety of topics, not just this one, turned congressional investigation into cheap political theater, and witch hunts on the order of the late, debased Senator Joe McCarthy.  The McCarthy House Unamerican Activities hearings are among the darkest, most despotic and tyrannical of our history.  The recent hearings on everything from Islam in America to the ridiculous and nasty contraception hearings that resulted in the Fluke scandal that so appropriately damaged Rush Limbaugh are not proper, honest hearings, and I agree with Holder that these are not members of Congress who have demonstrated that they operate in the scope of ethics that a Congressional hearing should encompass.

So long as the right persists in being post-truth liars and deniers, so long as they engage and propagate conspiracy theories and fact averse disconnects from objective reality, there is a legitimate concern that these investigations are not legitimate investigations, they are attempts to smear people.  A genuine investigation is based on a fair and thorough investigation that does not have a predetermined outcome.  That cannot be said of any investigation so far conducted by Daryl Issa.

Maintaining an electronic data base to verify numbers on guns trafficked across the border, instead of having to go through the much more time consuming and less effective, less efficient paper records, is NOT about gun control of legal weapons, and is a ridiculous claim of gun grabbing policies.  It is simply an attempt to use the same computerized investigation techniques used in every other aspect of law enforcement.  To try to spin this into something it is not, before seeing where a legitimate investigation would lead, is a perfect example of the outcome of an investigation being pre-determined BEFORE seeing evidence.  A pre-determined outcome is a witch hunt.

And yet, when the Democrats unanimously support something like the Brian A. Terry Memorial Act, and the President SIGNS it, they get no credit for it.  I would question why it is the President's job to popularize this.  Where was Issa?  He was the legislative sponsor for this.  Why didn't he publicize it instead of grandstanding fact-averse statements to the media?  Clearly Issa can get the attention of the media when it suits his purpose to do so.  One has to ask, why is Issa so uninterested in sharing the limelight on his legislation with democrats -- is it because it doesn't suit the agenda of his puppet masters, the NRA and other right wing special interests? From the excellent web site resource,

H.R. 2668: Brian A. Terry Memorial Act

112th Congress, 2011–2012
To designate the station of the United States Border Patrol located at 2136 South Naco Highway in Bisbee, Arizona, as the "Brian A. Terry Border Patrol Station".
Jul 27, 2011
Rep. Darrell Issa [R-CA49]
Signed by the President
Bill titles and summaries are written by the sponsor. H.R. stands for House bill.