Saturday, August 20, 2011

Border Reivers--An armed society is a polite society

This little history lesson is a repost from my blog inspired by one our anonymous commenter's remarks that:

"A life lived without honor is worth less than a life not lived at all. A criminal who threatens my life is worth less than anything they might want."

That pretty much summed up this time in British History. I should also add the "enforced migration" to the Northern Irish Plantation and North America. Those who came through Ulster were called "Scots-Irish". That attitude may have been passed on to our anonymous poster:
Yes, Robert Heinlein's quote from Beyond This Horizon where duels may easily occur when someone feels that they have been wronged or insulted is attributed as a custom that keeps order and politeness. The pro-gun crowd has latched onto this cliche from Science fiction rather than looking at a time and place where the citizens were armed, and things were far from polite, the Border between England and Scotland during the 14th through 17th Centuries.

Reiver comes from "reive" is an early English word for "to rob", from the Northumbrian and Scots Inglis verb reifen from the Old English rēafian, and thus related to the archaic Standard English verb reave ("to plunder", "to rob")---they were robbers. This is a society that is probably far closer to what the "gunloons" want than the Western Frontier of the US.

England and Scotland were frequently at war during the late Middle Ages and Tudor period prior to the joining of the Kingdoms under the Stuarts beginning with James VI of Scotland (I of England) . During these wars, the livelihood of the people on the borders was devastated by the contending armies. Even when the countries were not at war, tension remained high, and royal authority in either kingdom was often weak. The authorities in the area could be just as corrupt as the citizenry. The fact that the area was pretty much a lawless zone usually made people a target for depredations rather than conferring any security. They looked to their extended families for security and a "code of law".

There were other factors which promoted a predatory mode of living. Among them was the survival in the Borders of the inheritance system of gavelkind, by which estates were divided equally between all sons on a man's death, so that many people owned insufficient land to maintain themselves. Also, much of the border region is mountainous or open moorland, unsuitable for arable farming but good for grazing. Livestock was easily rustled and driven back to raiders' territory by mounted reivers who knew the country well. The raiders also often removed "insight," easily portable household goods or valuables, and took prisoners for ransom.

The reivers were both English and Scottish and raided both sides of the border impartially, so long as the people they raided had no powerful protectors and no connection to their own kin. Their activities, although usually within a day's ride of the Border, extended both north and south of their main haunts. English raiders were reported to have hit the outskirts of Edinburgh, and Scottish raids were known as far south as Yorkshire. The main raiding season ran through the early winter months, when the nights were longest and the cattle and horses fat from having spent the summer grazing. The inhabitants had to live in a state of constant alert, and for self-protection, they built fortified tower houses. They also built fortified barns known as bastle houses> These buildings are a common characteristic of this area and period.

During periods of nominal peace, a special body of customary law, known as Border Law, grew up to deal with the situation. Under Border Law, a person who had been raided had the right to mount a counter-raid within six days, even across the border, to recover his goods. This Hot Trod had to proceed with "hound and horne, hew and cry", making a racket and carrying a piece of burning turf on a spear point to openly announce their purpose, to distinguish themselves from unlawful raiders proceeding covertly. They might use a sleuth hound (also known as a "slew dogge") to follow raiders' tracks. These dogs were valuable, and part of the established forces (on the English side of the border, at least). Any person meeting this counter-raid was required to ride along and offer such help as he could, on pain of being considered complicit with the raiders. The Cold Trod mounted after six days required official sanction. Officers such as the Deputy Warden of the English West March had the specific duty of "following the trod".

Far from being a polite society, the Borders were a lawless and violent society where brawling was commonplace. The border region has produced some of the best soldiers. The reivers were considered among the finest light cavalry in all of Europe. After meeting one Reiver (the Bold Buccleugh), Queen Elizabeth I is quoted as having said that "with ten thousand such men, James (VI) could shake any throne in Europe." Reivers served as mercenaries, or were forced to serve in English and Scots armies in the Low Countries and in Ireland.

I should add that it's perfectly safe these days and a super place to visit for tourism!


George MacDonald Fraser: The Steel Bonnets: Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers
Alistair Moffat: The Reivers: The Story of the Border Reivers
Robert Borland: Border Raids and Reivers
Philip Nixon: Exploring Border Reivers History
Keith Durham and Angus McBride: The Border Reivers (Osprey Men-at-arms Series)
Keith Durham and Gerry Embleton: Border Reiver 1513-1603 (Osprey Warrior Series)
Keith Durham and Graham Turner: Strongholds of the Border Reivers: Fortifications of the Anglo-Scottish Border 1296-1603 (Osprey Fortress Series)

ITV series The Reivers And The Making Of The Borders


British Crime Initiatives: the Knife exchange


This bulletin from The News At 4.37 introduces a brand new scheme which will eradicate knife crime forever. Weapons are exchanged for something a lot less harmful, but equally threatening...

Perhaps, the US can adopt a similar scheme for firearms.

I'm sure JadeGold would approve:

The Kobayashi Maru Test and Military Honour

Since MikeB is a trekkie, and I'm feeling lazy--Here's another post from my blog:

Someone just told me about the Kobayashi Maru Test from the Star Trek Series. Since I am not a trekkie, I may as well rip off the Wikipedia article's description of the test:
The Kobayashi Maru is a test in the fictional universe of Star Trek. It is a Starfleet training exercise designed to test the character of cadets in the command track at Starfleet Academy. The Kobayashi Maru test was first depicted in the opening scene of the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and also appears in the 2009 film Star Trek. The test's name is occasionally used among Star Trek fans or those familiar with the series to describe a no-win scenario.

Rescuing the civilian vessel Kobayashi Maru is the notional primary goal in a simulated battle with the Klingons. The ship is disabled and the approaching cadet crew must decide whether or not to attempt rescue of the Kobayashi Maru crew – potentially endangering their own ship and lives – or leave the Kobayashi Maru to certain destruction. The difficult decision to assist the Kobayashi Maru revolves around the issue of the disabled ship's location being in the Klingon Neutral Zone, as entering the zone would be in violation of the Organian Peace Treaty.

While I am not a trekkie, I am a former military officer, which takes me to the next part of the story about test:

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="125" caption="This man will personally kick the arse of anyone who cheated at a Military Academy."][/caption]
James T. Kirk took the test three times while at Starfleet Academy. Prior to his third attempt, Kirk surreptitiously reprogrammed the simulator so that it was possible to rescue the freighter. This fact finally comes out in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, as Kirk, Saavik and others appear marooned, near death. Saavik's response is, "Then you never faced that situation. Faced death." Kirk replies, "I don't believe in the no-win scenario." Despite having cheated, Kirk had been awarded a commendation for "original thinking."

Now, I know this is the movies, which is why the coming rant may seem odd.

In reality, Kirk would have been tossed out of the Academy on his arse for having cheated. If he did end up on a starship, he would more likely be a messmate with Lister and Rimmer on the Red Dwarf. This comes from Ethics and the Military:
He has integrity if his interest in the good of the Service is at all times greater than his personal pride, and when he holds himself to the same line of duty when unobserved as he would follow if all of his superiors were present.

Brigadier General S.L.A. Marshall, The Armed Forces Officer, 1950

The concepts of honor and integrity are reflected in the statement of core values of the armed services and provide the underpinnings of the military way of life. The occasional perception of misconduct among military personnel challenges the notion that the military holds itself to high ethical standards. In an effort to respond to media criticism and with an eye toward implementing a continuing process of self-examination, military writers, theorists, and professionals discuss ways in which the military can ensure that personnel adhere to high standards of accountability. Those standards are exemplified in behavior in everyday life as well as under the stress of combat. They are reflected in the military mind-set --the ways in which personnel not only relate to one another, but, also, in the manner in which they contribute to the decision making process, exercise leadership roles, and interpret significant and timely world events. Concerns range from an examination of honor codes at the service academies to consideration of more cosmic matters such as nuclear deterrence, the use of biological and chemical warfare, the development of just war doctrine, and the ethics of intervention. The Gulf War and recent peacekeeping initiatives did much to stimulate debate and discussion on a host of issues relating to ethical dilemmas and the ethical climate of the armed forces.

In other words, the military sets high standards for ethics. The US Military Academies have Honour Codes and I am going to take from the USMA's code the example of cheating:
CHEATING: A violation of cheating would occur if a Cadet fraudulently acted out of self-interest or assisted another to do so with the intent to gain or to give an unfair advantage. Cheating includes such acts as plagiarism (presenting someone else's ideas, words, data, or work as one's own without documentation), misrepresentation (failing to document the assistance of another in the preparation, revision, or proofreading of an assignment), and using unauthorized notes.

Three rules of thumb from the USMA's Honour Code are:
1. Does this action attempt to deceive anyone or allow anyone to be deceived?
2. Does this action gain or allow gain of a privilege or advantage to which I or someone else would not otherwise be entitled?
3. Would I be unsatisfied by the outcome if I were on the receiving end of this action?

I think that Kirk's actions fit quite well into rule (2).

So, rather than being a top Star Fleet commander who was awarded a commendation for "original thinking", Kirk would have been disgraced by his actions in the real world. Even if the Academy tolerated his actions, I have serious doubts that the other cadets and officers would have.

But, it's just a movie.

Update on One of the Mass Shootings

This makes Congresswoman Giffords appearance to vote on the debt ceiling recently all the more poignant.  What an example of courage and perseverence in the face of adversity this woman is.

From the AP by way of

Aide: Giffords now knows who died in shooting

Names of the dead were withheld from congresswoman until late July

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is now aware of who was killed during the January shooting rampage in Tucson that left her seriously wounded, her chief spokesman says.
The Arizona Republic reported that C.J. Karamargin confirmed Friday that the Democratic politician was told in late July the names of the dead, including her loyal aide Gabe Zimmerman; U.S. District Judge John Roll, a close friend; and 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green.
Giffords has been recovering from a gunshot wound to the brain from the Jan. 8 shooting that killed six people and wounded her and 12 others.
Her loved ones had been keeping the extent of the tragedy from her until she was strong enough to handle it.
Husband Mark Kelly said in June that she was aware of the number of casualties but not their names.
Deeply saddened Karamargin said she was deeply saddened by the news, which came days before her surprise Aug. 1 appearance on Capitol Hill.
Giffords was shot in the head in the parking lot of a Tucson grocery store while meeting with constituents.
The man charged in the shooting, Jared Lee Loughner, was sent to a federal prison facility in Springfield, Mo., after a federal judge concluded he was mentally incompetent to stand trial on 49 charges.
Interactive: Tragedy in Tucson: The shooting victims (on this page)
The paper reported that earlier this month, Giffords gave her personal condolences to Ross Zimmerman, Gabe's father, during a brief telephone conversation
"She still has some trouble with language, but there is no question that she can get her point across and her comprehension is 100 percent," Zimmerman told the paper. "It was Gabrielle — it was nice to talk to her."
Karamargin's last day with Giffords was Friday. He has taken a job as vice chancellor for public information and government relations at Pima Community College.

Newark Lawful Gun Owner Shoots at Mosquito-Spraying Truck

The Newark Advocate reports

A Newark man accused of shooting at a truck spraying for mosquitoes was charged with felonious assault for injuring the driver.

David B. Brown, 56, last known address 6 Kreig St., reportedly fired several shots at the 1997 Ford Ranger on Cherry Street between Maple Avenue and Hollander Street on Aug. 10, Newark police Sgt. Scott Snow said.

Brown told police he was trying to protect his dog, which he thought would be injured by the mosquito spray, Snow said.
Here's my question. Which categories of The Famous 10% do you think this guy belonged to? I say all of them except domestic abuser and rapist, but I'm just guessin'.

What do you think?

Another Pregnant Woman Killed

A Lancaster County man is facing two counts of homicide in the shooting death of his pregnant girlfriend.

Matthew Becker, 22, of Rapho Township, is charged with shooting Allison Walsh, 21, while she laid sleeping in bed inside of Becker's parents' home last Friday, August 12.

Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman told CBS 21 News that Becker gave police several different explanations of what exactly happened, and that they all were meant to make the shooting appear to be an accident.

Stedman said that in each of the stories Becker admitted to standing over Walsh, and handling a .22 caliber pistol he had just purchased that night.
I've always pointed out that generally speaking guns are bad news for women, but lately it's seems to be worsening. In June, Dog Gone reported on a pregnant woman in MN who was shot by her boyfriend. A couple months before that we saw a pregnant woman, this one in Montgomery County PA, killed.

In today's story, as well as the Montgomery County one, the point was made that the murder weapons were bought quite recently, I suppose inferring that waiting periods might have helped.

I'm not sure it's that simple.  I believe nothing short of a comprehensive and properly enforced regimen of gun control legislation will make a difference. This is something we've never tried, so the tedious rebuttals from the gun crown in which they cry, "what about Chicago and DC?" are meaningless.

The background check requirement needs to be tightened up as far as mental health screening goes. Domestic violence against women needs to be taken more seriously. Angry men who feel emasculated because of the economy, or whatever else their problem is, should not be so easily buying guns.

What's your opinion?  Please leave a comment.

Jon Stewart on Class Warfare

Friday, August 19, 2011

A better response for Tom...

Who asked:
"Tom, simple join the British Army and do two tours of Norn Iron."

OK, that's a start. So, is there a British Army manual that I could read? Or did you get special training for that duty?

I'm really very curious, because I would like to have a set of skills that I -- a somewhat out-of-shape but not necessarily overweight -- man could call upon that are not lethal. Signing up for a tour in the US Army is also off limits because of my age.
I was a bit flippant in my first response, but my original advice was not too far off.

As a civilian, your best bet is to:

  • Try to stay out of that sort of area in the first place
  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • If you see an angry crowd coming down the street--go the other way!
While it may sound cowardly, it this is a more prudent course of action. First off, as a civilian you probably won't have the basic kit for dealing with riots, let alone the more specialist gear.

Basic kit would be
  • Nomex coveralls, with hood as well as reinforced knee and elbow pads
  • Riot helmet
You might be able to make due with motorcycle kit, but it's probably not flame resistant as is Nomex.

More specialised gear would be the perspex shield, baton, CS grenades, specialised transport (e.g snatch land rover), etcetera.

In the US, you could buy CS spray, but I am not sure of the legality of carrying it in your area. And you need a huge bottle of the stuff for crowd control.

But the military and the police have another advantage over civilians in crowd control--numbers.

I am assuming that you would be one, maybe two, at most a handful of people--not best to try to take on a large crowd without the gear in such circumstances. Snatch squads aren't that large,but they are well trained and well equipped.

And while Dan Snow caught and sat on a looter who ran past him carrying armfuls of shoes, he is a big strapping lad--a former member of the Balliol College rowing team (the rowing fraternity is pretty tall with Dan coming in at 6"5'), you are not.

Part of my reasons for writing a more in depth answer comes from having watched The Panorama episode on the August Riots. Far more frightening to me than the crowds was the burning. Seeing the fires in Tottenham where a family lost their home and Croyden where a 150-year-old furniture store burned down was particularly disturbing to me.

I will admit to PTSD from being in a petrol fire. The first thing that comes into your mind is that a tablespoon's worth of petrol fume has the equivalent explosive power to 4 sticks of dynamite. The second is "where the fuck is the fire extinguisher?" I did put out the flames, but unless you want to pack around a halon fire extinguisher you won't be prepared for such an eventuality.

Sorry, Jim.

Although some communities did stand watch to protect their property such as the Sikhs in Southall. People in Enfield, Hackney and Eltham also patrolled their areas with the police warning against vigilantism.

As for firearms.

It is alleged that a shooting was what caused the riots in the first place.

Also a gun isn't that useful in putting out a raging fire: the way a fire extinguisher would be.

Tariq Jahan's appeal for peace is what is supposed to have stopped the riots.

Draw your own conclusion.

I would also add that CCTV is proving to be quite an effective tool in catching the people responsible for these acts.

My area was fairly peaceful compared to where White Rabbit lives. The rioters broke into Hugo Boss and the Bureau de Change next to the tube station and the betting shop a bit further away.

We Brits tend to be fairly unflappable in the face of adversity though.

Although, one of my parent's friends opined the rioters should be made to do national service...

See also:
BBC News England Riots
Father of victim appeals for calm
England riots: Before-and-after images of the devastation

Climate change made easy

Armstrong & Miller - Climate Change

And an in joke for Dog Gone:

OK, she asked me about the local Farmer's Market.

Another American Opinion on the UK Riots

This time from the Economist Newspaper (Yes, the Economist calls itself a newspaper). And I'm going to be lazy and copy it in full:

A visiting American's perspective on London's riots: The right to compare arms

Aug 15th 2011, 9:26 by G.I. | LONDON

TO AN American visiting London, one of the more striking aspects of last week’s riots was how few people died. Not including the police shooting death that touched off the original disturbance, five deaths have been attributed to the riots and looting. By contrast, 53 people died in the rioting that followed the acquittal of police officers in the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles in 1992.

At least part, if not most, of the difference is down to the fact that Americans are armed to the teeth: the criminals, the cops and the shopkeepers all have guns, whereas Britain has one of the lowest rates of gun ownership in the world. The result is a low homicide rate: just 2 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2002, compared with 5.62 in America. Murders in Britain are much less likely to be committed with a gun. Its firearm murder rate, at 0.02 per 100,000, is a fraction of America’s, at 3.25. Three of the riots’ victims were run down by a car while guarding a petrol station and one died of injuries after being beaten. The fifth was a looter who is believed to have been shot by another looter.

Source: United Nations

Britons are not more law-abiding than Americans. Their rates of car theft, robbery and burglary are all higher, some substantially. But strict gun-control laws and borders that are more impervious to smuggling than, say, America's border with Canada, mean that guns are less likely to be used in crimes. That may also cut down on firefights: British police generally do not carry guns, in part because they worry less about being shot at. (Mark Duggan, the man whose death set off the original riots, was shot by a member of a special police firearms unit. Mr Duggan is believed to have had a gun but not to have fired it.)

It’s possible, as Ben Jacobs of the Boston Globe speculates, that Britain’s low level of gun homicide and high level of property crime are connected: criminals may be more likely to steal, rob or loot if they don’t fear being shot by a vigilante shopkeeper. Still, the data do seem to suggest that if you’re going to be caught up in a riot, it is better to be in London than in Los Angeles.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Mr Duggan was carrying a gun; in fact one was found nearby, not on his person. This has been corrected.

And you thought MikeB was joking....

This was in today's Guardian:

Aliens may destroy humanity to protect other civilisations, say scientists

Rising greenhouse emissions could tip off aliens that we are a rapidly expanding threat, warns a report

This highly speculative scenario is one of several described by a Nasa-affiliated scientist and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University that, while considered unlikely, they say could play out were humans and alien life to make contact at some point in the future.

Shawn Domagal-Goldman of Nasa's Planetary Science Division and his colleagues compiled a list of plausible outcomes that could unfold in the aftermath of a close encounter, to help humanity "prepare for actual contact".

In their report, Would Contact with Extraterrestrials Benefit or Harm Humanity? A Scenario Analysis, the researchers divide alien contacts into three broad categories: beneficial, neutral or harmful.

You're safe: nothing about gun loons!

Christianity, The Golden Rule, and Social Justice

I'm a bit bored, but I thought I would post this from my other blog. The relevance is that there is a serious ethical aspect to the concept of gun control and anti-death penalty. This gets to one of the basics in the debate.

There are many people who argue that the US is a Christian nation and needs to show Chrisitian values. Perhaps, they should start with this one:

I have had these thoughts simmering in my head for a while after having received something from a Jewish Social Justice site talking about the golden rule: Love your neighbor as yourself.
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Galatians 5:14)

The Golden Rule is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights, in which each individual has a right to just treatment, and a reciprocal responsibility to ensure justice for others. The main point of the Golden Rule is that a person attempting to live by this rule treats all people with the same consideration as he would expect to receive, not just members of his or her in-group. The "golden rule" is exemplified in many Christian stories, in particular the Parable of the Good Samaritan. One point that gets missed is that the Samaritans is that the Jews and Samaritans didn't get along, yet the Samaritan was the only person who helped the traveller.

It seems that the question being asked today is "Am I my brother's keeper?" (Genesis 4:9) with the answer being "NO".

But does the Bible make a responsibility to watch out for and care for one another? When one turns to the New Testament, it becomes clear that the answer is in the affirmative. In fact, there are many passages which emphasize that people do have responsibilities to others, and not just our immediate families: hence the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10: 29-37

These were two groups that normally did not get along, yet the Samaritan showed the Jew compassion. Southern Beale had an interesting quote from Ezekiel 16:48-50 about Sodom and Gomorrah where God compares Jerusalem to Sodom:
As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done.

“‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.

Daisy Deadhead pointed out that Christ was no fan of the rich, and that is the Gospel. Daisy points out the passage:
Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Matthew 19:21-22

That is not the only place where riches and materialism are pointed as being contrary to proper spiritual growth. For example:
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6:19-20

Oddly enough, we have those who would say that the Gospel of Social Justice is a perversion of Jesus's message, yet that statement is wrong. There are more than enough examples of where there is the commandment to "be your brother's keeper" in most of the World's religions. I have only scratched the surface of where the Bible commands that should one maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor. The Bible contains more than 300 verses on the poor, social justice, and God's deep concern for both.

Ultimately. there is nothing wrong with a prosperity gospel, as long as it makes clear that EVERYONE deserves to share in the prosperity, not just the few. But, that's prosperity and not GREED that I am talking about. Social justice is about treating others as you would have them treat you. Indeed, it is being your brother's keeper in that you watch out for his welfare as you would your own.

See also:
Isaiah 58
Versions of the Golden Rule in 21 world religions
Am I My Brother's Keeper? | Daily Devotion from Genesis 4:9-16 |
The Bible on the Poor or, Why God is a liberal
God Calls Us To Show Mercy and Compassion to Our Fellow Man
How Greed Destroys America

Warning Shots

about a gun owner who did the only natural thing, he used his gun to break up a fight.
When the deputies questioned Foster, who cooperated with the investigation, he said that he witnessed a group of people hitting a defenseless female subject. He yelled for them to stop, but when they refused he said he fired two shots from his gun into the ground to scare the group away from her. He said that he felt it was the only way to get the group to stop.
Is it ever legitimate to do something like this? Are warning shots acceptable, compared to say, shooting people? Is there no other way to handle things like this?

Do you think he was arrested because the cops didn't believe his description of events? Or was he arrested despict the facts of the case, in other words, was he arrested because according to the law one cannot use a gun that way?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Registration of Guns and Licensing of Gun Owners from the Alien Perspective

Aliens from a distant galaxy were approaching our solar system. Identifying Earth as the only habitable planet, they came for a closer look. One of the first things they noticed from a great distance was the air traffic and high-speed train movement. Realizing these were conveyances for moving people, they marvelled at the efficiency and complete lack of collisions and near-collisions. The coordination was impressive.

Coming a bit closer they began seeing the cars. Unlike the larger means of transportation, these seemed to be involved in countless mishaps and explosions. Everywhere they looked cars were running into each other and into other objects. The death and destruction was incalculable.

One alien said to the other, since these primitive vehicles are operated by humans, why don't they assign a numerical designation to each one which could be linked to the operator. This way they could easily identify the ones causing all the trouble.

The other alien, scanning the highly-advanced computer system, said, it seems they already have done this. Perhaps it means the quantity of problems has already been reduced to the level we observe.

Coming still closer, but maintaining a distant orbit, they began to observe another phenomenon: gunshots. They recognized these as primitive projectile-ejecting weapons. With each blast their computers registered the event. They watched horrified and amazed that a civilization advanced enough to register all cars and license all car-drivers would allow this.

Wouldn't registering those guns and tying them to the users the way they've done with cars eliminate much of the damage, asked the first alien.

The other more senior crew member said sadly it's time to return and make our report.

Tom Coburn (R-OK)--Racist Gunloon Lunatic

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) is pretty clownish by low Midwestern standards.  Aside from pandering to the NRA, Coburn's schtick is to maintain a holier-than-thou faux-Christian facade, even when counseling a fellow GOPer on how best to get away with adultery and extortion.

But ever so frequently, Tom Coburn opens his yap and something stupid falls out.  Sometimes, many stupid things.

Yesterday,  Coburn was ranting to a bunch of slack-jawed rubes in his home state and said:

 "It's just a good thing I can't pack a gun on the Senate floor." 

Now, if you or I said we wanted to pack a gun on the Senate floor--to get things done the way we want--we should expect a visit from some law enforcement agencies.

But Coburn wasn't through being an imbecile:

"As an African-American male," Coburn said, Obama received "tremendous advantage from a lot of these programs." 

Who knew?  I guess that's why blacks are doing so much better than whites in this country.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

“anti-constitutional conservatives”

William Hogeland said this:
As for the Antifederalists before ratification: sure, they opposed many aspects of nationalism, including funding a public debt, but the “constitutional conservatives” whose reading of history my piece criticizes don’t cite the Antifederalists* in seeking founding support for their anti-tax policies. It’s actually a point of my piece that intellectual honesty would dictate that they should! If they’d only call themselves “anti-constitutional conservatives,” we’d all know what we’re talking about.
See also: Why Debt Ceilings and Balanced-Budget Requirements Violate the Original Intent of the Constitution

Where he says:

But no ratified amendment has ever qualified Congress’s power of the purse, which in the minds of the framers explicitly involved the power to take on debt and fund it. In their tweets and blogs, “constitutional conservatives” have been promoting a balanced-budget amendment with reference to the tired notion that since households and small businesses must balance their budgets (as if!), government must too. They link that economically useless prescription to the widespread fantasy that our Constitution was written, amended, and ratified for just such a purpose. The framers saw it just the other way.

*This may be a bit esoteric--The Anti-federalists (e.g., Patrick Henry) were against the adoption of the Constitution. They would have preferred to have updated the Articles of Confederation.

Seen in another forum

"US electoral democracy is just a structured system of legalised bribery."

Discuss possibly in relation to ALEC

Freedom Parrot Spiritual Story by Osho

reposted from:

Freedom Parrot
Spiritual Story by Osho

A man, a great man, a fighter for freedom was traveling in the mountains. He stayed in a caravanserai for the night. He was amazed that in the caravanserai there was a beautiful parrot in a golden cage, continually repeating "Freedom! Freedom!" And it was such a place that when the parrot repeated the word "Freedom!" it would go on echoing in the valleys, in the mountains.

The man thought: "I have seen many parrots, and I have thought they must want to be free from those cages... but I have never seen such a parrot whose whole day, from the morning to the evening when he goes to sleep, is spent in calling out for freedom." He had an idea. In the middle of the night, when the owner was fast asleep, he got up and opened the door of the cage. He whispered to the parrot, "Now get out."

But he was very surprised that the parrot was clinging to the bars of the cage. He said to him again and again, "Have you forgotten about freedom? Just get out! The door is open and the owner is fast asleep; nobody will ever know. You just fly into the sky; the whole sky is yours."

But the parrot was clinging so deeply, so hard, that the man said, "What is the matter? Are you mad?" He tried to take the parrot out with his own hands, but the parrot started pecking at him, and at the same time he was shouting "Freedom! Freedom!" The valleys in the night echoed and re-echoed, but the man was also stubborn; he was a freedom fighter.

He pulled the parrot out and threw him into the sky; and he was very satisfied, although his hand was hurt. The parrot had attacked him as forcefully as he could, but the man was immensely satisfied that he had made a soul free. He went to sleep.

In the morning, as the man was waking up, he heart the parrot shouting, "Freedom! Freedom!" He thought perhaps the parrot must be sitting on a tree or on a rock. But when he came out, the parrot was sitting in the cage. The door was open.

The Government in Miller was unopposed...

I have to point out that even though the appellee in Miller did not file a brief or make an appearance, although the court below had held that the relevant provision of the National Firearms Act violated the Second Amendment (albeit without any reasoned opinion). But, The Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, decision also was one in which only one side appeared and presented arguments. The absence of adversarial presentation alone is not a basis for refusing to accord stare decisis effect to a decision of the Supreme Court. See Bloch, Marbury Redux, in Arguing Marbury v. Madison 59, 63 (M. Tushnet ed. 2005).

Stevens pointed out in his dissent that:
The key to that decision did not, as the Court belatedly suggests, ante, at 49–51, turn on the difference between muskets and sawed-off shotguns; it turned, rather, on the basic difference between the military and nonmilitary use and possession of guns. Indeed, if the Second Amendment were not limited in its coverage to military uses of weapons, why should the Court in Miller have suggested that some weapons but not others were eligible for Second Amendment protection? If use for self-defense were the relevant standard, why did the Court not inquire into the suitability of a particular weapon for self-defense purposes?

Of course, if it can be demonstrated that new evidence or arguments were genuinely not available to an earlier Court, that fact should be given special weight as the Supreme Court considers whether to overrule a prior case. But the Heller Court did not make that claim that new evidence or argument was available, because it Could not. Instead, it chose to allege that the Miller decision was "unclear" and did not offer proper guidance--despite nearly 70 years of precedent to the contrary.

Although it is true that the drafting history of the Amendment was not discussed in the Government’s brief in Miller, it was not the drafting history that the Miller Court’s decision depended. Those sources upon which the Heller Court relied most heavily were available to the Miller Court. The Government cited the English Bill of Rights and quoted a lengthy passage from Aymette detailing the history leading to the English guarantee, Brief for United States in United States v. Miller, O. T. 1938, No. 696, pp 12–13; it also cited Blackstone, id., at 9, n. 2, Cooley, id., at 12, 15, and Story, id., at 15. The Heller Court was reduced to critiquing the number of pages the Government devoted to exploring the English legal sources. Only two (in a brief 21 pages in length)! Would the Heller Court be satisfied with four pages? Ten pages?

In short, there was no significant change in the law, new evidence, or arguments other than a couple of decisions which decided to follow "recent scholarship" of dubious quality that lead to certiorari in these cases.

A Polite Response to

Who made the following comments on the post "American Independence: A blessing or a curse?":

Flying Junior said...

That's the dumbest thing I ever heard in my entire life. Shut the fuck up and get the hell off of this blog, you dumb fucking limey barrister.

August 18, 2011 7:29 AM

Flying Junior said...


August 18, 2011 7:38 AM
This is an amazing demonstration of closed mindedness. You show an amount of ignorance which staggers belief for quite a few reasons.

First off, these are not constructive comments, but venting of emotion.

Secondly, You demonstrate a lack of understanding of late 18th Century North American History.

That is the North American Colonists were British subjects who were demanding their rights as Britons. One of the complaints in the Declaration of Independence was:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws

They also talk about "our British brethren". In fact, Thomas Jefferson said:
Believe me, dear Sir: there is not in the British empire a man who more cordially loves a union with Great Britain than I do. But, by the God that made me, I will cease to exist before I yield to a connection on such terms as the British Parliament propose; and in this, I think I speak the sentiments of America.—November 29, 1775
At least five signatories to the American Declaration of Independence and Seven Members of the Constitutional Convention belonged to the Middle Temple Inn of Court . How symbolic it is that copies of the American Constitution and the Declaration of Independence hang on the wall of the library of the Middle Temple in London. After all, they were the force behind both of them.

This is a description of one of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, Edward Rutledge:
After receiving a good English and classical education, young Rutledge commenced the study of law with his elder brother, John, who was then a distinguished member of the Charleston bar. As a finishing stroke in his legal education, preparatory to his admission to the bar, he was sent to England at the age of twenty, and entered as a student at the Inner Temple, London, where he had an opportunity of witnessing the forensic eloquence of those master spirits of the times, Mansfield, Wedderburn, Thurlow, Dunning, Chatham and Camden... A number of Inns of Court, or sort of colleges for teaching the law were established in London at various times. The Temple (of which there were three Societies, namely, the Inner, the Middle, and the Outer) was originally founded, and the Temple Church built, by the Knights Templar, in the reign of Henry II, 1185. The Inner and Middle Temple were made Inns of Law in the reign of Edward III., about 1340; the Outer, not until the reign of Elizabeth, about 1560.
Here is the biography of another signer of the Declaration of Independence, Arthur Middleton:
His parents were Henry Middleton and Mary Baker Williams. He was educated in Britain, at Harrow School, Westminster School, and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He studied law at the Middle Temple and traveled extensively in Europe where his taste in literature, music, and art was developed and refined.

Keenly interested in Carolina politics, Arthur Middleton was a more radical thinker than his father, Henry Middleton. He was a leader of the American Party in Carolina and one of the boldest members of the Council of Safety and its Secret Committee. In 1776, Arthur was elected to succeed his father in the Continental Congress and subsequently was a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence. Also in 1776, he and William Henry Drayton designed the Great Seal of South Carolina. Despite the time he spent in England, his attitude toward Loyalists was said to be ruthless.

While it is hard for one to understand how life was twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, yet alone 240 years ago, I believe I have a good understanding of the mindset of the founders having a similar background to them as a dual US-UK Citizen.

I should also add that being a Tory did not mean that one was against Independence. You can see what a Tory North America would be by simply looking to the North: Canada. The Treaty of Paris (1783) recognized American independence and ceded territories south of the Great Lakes to the United States. New Brunswick was split from Nova Scotia as part of a reorganization of Loyalist settlements in the Maritimes.

Canada eventually gained it's independence, but through legal and non-violent means.

The Tories were not like those who wanted Independence and wanted it NOW (then?). There were those who felt that Independence should be achieved through legal means. It can be argued that that would have been the correct course of action, but that is through hindsight. Additionally, there were those who supported Independence, yet once they had thought that their goal had been achieved chose to support Britain--Most Notably Benedict Arnold.

But before you tar and feather Arnold, be aware that he distinguished himself through acts of cunning and bravery as a leader of the Continental Army. His actions included the Capture of Fort Ticonderoga in 1775, defensive and delaying tactics despite losing the Battle of Valcour Island on Lake Champlain in 1776, the Battle of Ridgefield, Connecticut (after which he was promoted to major general), operations in relief of the Siege of Fort Stanwix, and key actions during the pivotal Battles of Saratoga in 1777, in which he suffered leg injuries that ended his combat career for several years. Arnold's Role in Saratoga was so significant that it was still commemorated with a monument.

The Problem is that the Tories were the losers. John Adams said that 1/3 of the US Population Supported Independence, another 1/3 supported Union with Britain, and 1/3 couldn't care either way. Historians' current best estimates put the proportion of adult white male loyalists somewhere between 15 and 20 percent. Approximately half the colonists of European ancestry tried to avoid involvement in the struggle — some of them deliberate pacifists, others recent immigrants, and many more simple apolitical folk. The patriots received active support from perhaps 40 to 45 percent of the white populace, and at most no more than a bare majority

I would direct you to an event known as Shays' Rebellion which occurred only three years after the American Revolution ended, thousands of Massachusetts citizens took up arms against their new state government. This site tells the story of Shays' Rebellion which was a crucial period in The United States' founding when the survival of the republican experiment in government was neither destined nor assured.

Shays' Rebellion was a significant factor in the decision to rewrite the Articles of Confederation, an exercise that turned into the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. Here are common reactions to Shays' Rebellion of the Time.

Henry Lee:
"You talk, my good sir, of employing influence to appease the present tumults in Massachusetts. I know not where that influence is to be found, or, if attainable, that it would be a proper remedy for the disorders. Influence is not government. Let us have a government by which our lives, liberties, and properties will be secured, or let us know the worst at once."

Samuel Adams said this about the Rebellion:
"Rebellion against a king may be pardoned, or lightly punished, but the man who dares to rebel against the laws of a republic ought to suffer death."

George Washington wrote:
"I am mortified beyond expression when I view the clouds that have spread over the brightest morn that ever dawned in any country... What a triumph for the advocates of despotism, to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves and that systems founded on the basis of equal liberty are merely ideal and fallacious."

As I said, your comments demonstrate a considerable amount of closed mindedness and ignorance.

I don't appreciate your unwillingness to be open to the well grounded opinions of others.

You are under no obligation to read my posts. I am not forcing you to do so.

I do resent your desire to silence me because I said something that you are too closed minded to appreciate.

I will remain here, but someone who shows the inability to make positive and constructive comments and lacks knowledge or willingness to learn like yourself is not a loss to this forum.

See also:
Hogeland, William Declaration: The Nine Tumultuous Weeks When America Became Independent, May 1-July 4, 1776
"" " Inventing American History"
(Actually all of Bill's books are excellent)
Edward Rutledge
Peyton Randolph
Loyalist (American Revolution)
Revolutionary War Loyalist history and genealogy


The idea of ethics rules for judges arises from the belief that Judges as impartial arbiters of the law should avoid actions which could lead to an appearance of a conflict of interest or bias. Most Judges function under a Code of Judicial Ethics of some sort, with the exception of the US Supreme Court.

The first rules governing the conduct of judges in the United States were the Canons of Judicial Ethics, which were written in 1924 by an ABA committee chaired by William Howard Taft, then chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to the promulgation of these canons, no cohesive framework existed to inform judges of the ethical obligations of their position. Judges were subject to removal, but only through the cumbersome, politicized procedures of congressional impeachment, address, or recall.

A judge's leadership as the commissioner of professional baseball helped provide the inspiration for the Canons of Judicial Ethics.

In 1919, eight members of the Chicago White Sox conspired to purposely lose the 1919 World Series in exchange for payments from bookmakers. To restore public faith in the professional baseball league, the owners of the teams, on November 12, 1920, asked prominent federal judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis to be the game's new commissioner. Landis accepted the position, which he subsequently filled while simultaneously serving as a U.S. district court judge in the Northern District of Illinois. Landis helped restore professional baseball's integrity, but his highly publicized role as the sport's commissioner damaged the integrity of the judiciary.

The ABA considered his simultaneous service as a federal court judge a conflict of interest, and it voted to censure Landis in 1921. Landis resigned from the bench on March 1, 1922. In 1924, in part as a response to the Landis affair, the ABA promulgated the Canons of Judicial Ethics to regulate the activity of judges.

The Current Model Code of Judicial Conduct was formulated by the American Bar Association (ABA) in 1972. The code itself does not have the force of law, but federal and state governments have adopted it and use violations of its rules as the basis for punitive action against judges.

The Supreme Court often becomes A significant player in times high partisan divisions in American politics and the ethics of individual justices become a focus of criticism.

Common Cause, for instance, discovered that Justice Clarence Thomas failed to report his wife's nearly $700,000 in income when she worked for the conservative Heritage Foundation. The failure was indeed a clear violation of the law, but it was also the kind of oversight that occurs routinely on disclosure forms, and Thomas quickly amended his filings for a 13-year period, saying he had misunderstood the law's requirements.

Ethics experts agree that while Virginia Thomas' political activities may be unseemly to some, there is nothing in the judicial Code of Conduct that would require her husband to recuse himself from cases involving the issues she has spoken so publicly about. Nor should Virginia Thomas' public opposition to matters such as the Obama health care law require Justice Thomas to recuse himself from future challenges to the law.

New York University law professor Stephen Gillers, author of a leading text on legal ethics, notes that federal law bars judges from participating in any matter in which they or their family have a financial interest, but ideological issues are another matter entirely.

"A spouse of a judge can have a full political life and take positions on political issues and legal issues, even ones that come before his or her spouse," Gillers says.

What did trouble legal experts about Virginia Thomas' Liberty Central role was that she was being paid by an organization funded by secret donors. Liberty Central was started with two large gifts totaling $550,000, and under the tax law governing nonprofits, the identity of neither those nor subsequent donors had to be disclosed.

"The crunch point comes if Mrs. Thomas' [tax-exempt nonprofit] gets substantial contributions from companies or trade associations that have interests in matters that are pending at the Supreme Court or headed for the Supreme Court," Gillers says.

In the end, Virginia Thomas stepped down from her position at Liberty Central to take another job that was political in nature but less visible.

There is every reason to believe that Justice Thomas' colleagues, his fellow justices or perhaps the chief justice quietly made clear that Virginia Thomas' activity could harm the Supreme Court's credibility as an institution. Professor Gillers says the first line of defense should be self-restraint.

There are indications that the justices also exerted pressure on Justice Antonin Scalia when he participated in a 2004 case challenging then-Vice President Dick Cheney's use of executive power.

Three weeks after the court agreed to hear the case, Scalia went on a long-planned duck hunting trip with Cheney. After a two-month drumbeat of criticism in the media, and a formal request from the Sierra Club that he recuse himself, Scalia finally issued a 21-page memorandum explaining that the trip was an annual event with his son-in-law, that he was one of 13 hunters on property owned by a friend in Louisiana, that he had never been alone with Cheney on the trip, and that "a rule requiring Supreme Court justices to recuse themselves from cases in which the official actions of friends were at issue would be utterly disabling."

Almost immediately, the sting went out of the duck-hunting controversy.

By the time he was through reading the memorandum, says the Brookings Institution's Russell Wheeler, he had concluded "there's not a problem here. But why did he wait so long? Why not just deal with these things upfront?"

Justice Samuel Alito has also been the subject of ethics scrutiny — most prominently for his repeated attendance, and on one occasion his role as keynote speaker, at fundraising dinners for The American Spectator magazine, published and supported by conservative political activists.

The judicial code of conduct bars judges from fundraising activities because, as Professor Gillers puts it, the judicial mantel carries a lot of prestige, and "it's very hard to say no to a judge."

Even attendance at overtly political conferences has provoked criticism. Justices Thomas and Scalia were criticized for their attendance at dinners sponsored by Charles and Elizabeth Koch during what are widely billed as conservative political strategy events put on each year by the conservative Koch brothers.

Scalia and Thomas, however, have said they were invited to speak by the conservative Federalist Society, a legal group. Scalia's speech was about international law, and Thomas' about his then recently published book. Thomas did say he attended one panel at the Koch brothers' conference, but that he could not remember which one. Scalia said he did not attend the Koch conference. Both Justices said their expenses were paid by the Federalist Society.

The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch has also suggested that Obama Supreme Court appointee Elena Kagan should recuse herself from participating in any of the upcoming challenges to the Obama health care law. But the documents that the group sought and obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show Kagan — who was already under consideration for the court at the time — explicitly keeping herself out of the White House and Justice Department discussions about how to defend the law.

Whatever the merits of each of these examples, they illustrate how the court is being buffeted by interest groups over ethics questions.

These groups "perceive, with some justification, that the court's overall credibility is in play," says NYU's Gillers." They see that they can get mileage from that kind of publicity." Even though the efforts to force Kagan and Thomas to recuse will fail, he says, the purpose is "to undermine the credibility of the decision, whichever way it goes."

"Today, with information moving as fast as it does, it would be very difficult for any justice to hide any improprieties, and I think the court is therefore an extremely ethical place," he says.

But many ethics experts believe the court is asking for trouble by not being formally bound by the same judicial code of conduct that applies to lower court federal judges.

"If the public begins to believe that there is a political agenda" rather than a legal one at the court, says NYU's Gillers, "the court's credibility — the willingness of the public to accept its decisions — will be harmed."

The Constitution says only that Supreme Court justices shall hold their offices "during good behavior."

As long as there has been a Supreme Court, each justice has decided for himself or herself when to recuse, when to step aside and when to not participate in a case. Yes, there are rules of the road, but at the end of the day, the decision rests with each individual justice.

But the ultimate reason for the Supreme Court to adopt ethics rules is to avoid the appearance that Justice can be bought. Justice should be equal for all classes, creeds, and races. It should not be something that the rich can buy their way.

Equal Justice Before the Law.

See Also:
Code of Judicial Conduct
Bill Puts Ethics Spotlight On Supreme Court Justices
ALEC Watch
Source Watch--Koch

Lawyer Nabbed Buying Illegal Guns

A Wauwatosa lawyer has been charged with a felony after police say he paid an informant $400 for two purportedly stolen guns and an illegal silencer, court records say.
I don't think his being a lawyer has anything to do with it. Nor do I think the "silencer" is important in the story. Mr. Barrett is a good example of what I call "the hidden criminals."

The way it works is this. Among gun owners you've got the law abiding, the criminal and a very large gray area in between. This Venn Diagram doesn't show the right proportions, but it gives you an idea, which works like this.

A = criminal gun owners
B = law-abiding gunowners
AUB =all of the in-between guys, including but not limited to the following.

1. anyone who has ever violated a gun-law but has never been convicted of a felony.
2. anyone who abuses his wife or children in any way but has never been convicted of it.
3. anyone who is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol but has not yet been disqualified.
4. anyone who has ever dropped a gun or caused a negligent discharge.
5. anyone who has become elderly or otherwise physically incapacitated.
Area B would be the smallest, Area A next biggest and Area AUB would be by far the biggest. Remember in addition to the 5 categories listed above, those in the Famous 10% would also fall into the gray area.

What's your opinion?  Why do you think law-abiding and responsible gun owners who truly fit into category B become so defensive and antagonistic about this? Group B, law-abiding gun owners, although the smallest of the groups, still accounts for many, many individuals. I have nothing but respect for them and cannot understand why they aren't on the front lines of gun control activism along with us.  They would be the biggest winners.

What do you think?  Please leave a comment.

For the Semper Paratus Crowd

It might look like a poorly drawn picture of an alien, but this is actually one of the most advanced types of skin ever made - that can even stop bullets.

Researchers genetically engineered goats to produce milk which is packed with the same protein as silk spiders.

Once this is milked out it can be spun out and weaved into a material that is ten times stronger than steel.

The fabric can then be blended with human skin to make what the scientists hope will be tough enough to stop even a bullet.
Any man who is truly interested in protecting his family has to sit up and take notice.

‘Now, let’s take this one step further, why bother with a vest: imagine replacing keratin, the protein responsible for the toughness of the human skin, with this spidersilk protein.

‘This is possible by adding the silk producing genes of a spider to the gnome of a human: creating a bulletproof human.
I think Robert and Brad should start selling the stuff. They'd make a fortune.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

No, Jim, you're wrong!

Heller is not the Supreme law of the land.

Article 6, Clause 2 of the US Constitution states:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Concept of Judicial review does not come from the Constitution, but originates from Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803). Marbury is a landmark case in United States law and in the history of law worldwide. It formed the basis for the exercise of judicial review in the United States under Article III of the Constitution. It was also the first time in Western history a court invalidated a law by declaring it "unconstitutional", a process called judicial review. The landmark decision helped define the "checks and balances" of the American form of government.

Since it defined judicial review, it also provided guidelines for that review--the most important of which is the one I keep mentioning--that "It cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect".

According to Marbury, One cannot presume that any language in the Constitution is mere surplusage--is entirely without meaning.

Additionally Marbury states that:
Between these alternatives there is no middle ground. The Constitution is either a superior, paramount law, unchangeable by ordinary means, or it is on a level with ordinary legislative acts, and, like other acts, is alterable when the legislature shall please to alter it.

If the former part of the alternative be true, then a legislative act contrary to the Constitution is not law; if the latter part be true, then written Constitutions are absurd attempts on the part of the people to limit a power in its own nature illimitable.
The question is how does one deal with a decision from a Judge which departs from the text of the constitution and precedent--as happened in the Heller-McDonald decisions?

Unfortunately, the Constitution is silent on this topic. Does one revert to prior settled law, which in this case is US v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174 (1939), which was a unanimous decision?

The problem is, Jim, that The Heller decision set some very bad precedents if you are truly aware of how the case progressed. It unsettled 70 years worth of law. Three years and more than 400 legal challenges later, courts — so far — have held that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Heller was narrow and limited, and that the Second Amendment does not interfere with the people’s right to enact legislation protecting families and communities from gun violence.

Will a court ultimately see that the Heller decision is incorrect and that Stevens's dissent is the proper interpretation? After all Silberman overruled settled law in Parker v. District of Columbia, 478 F.3d 370 (D.C. Cir. 2007), cert. denied, 128 S. Ct. 2994 (2008).

If anything, Marbury reinforces that the Rule of Law applied in the US:

"The Government of the United States has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of men. It will certainly cease to deserve this high appellation if the laws furnish no remedy for the violation of a vested legal right."

The essential characteristics of the rule of law are:

i. The supremacy of law, which means that all persons (individuals and government) are subject to law.
ii. A concept of justice which emphasises interpersonal adjudication, law based on standards and the importance of procedures.
iii. Restrictions on the exercise of discretionary power.
iv. The doctrine of judicial precedent.
v. The common law methodology.
vi. Legislation should be prospective and not retrospective.
vii. An independent judiciary.
viii. The exercise by Parliament of the legislative power and restrictions on exercise of legislative power by the executive.
ix. An underlying moral basis for all law.

Heller violated the rule of law and other principles given for Judicial Review in Marbury.

Heller in and of itself is an unconstitutional decision since it is judicial legislation.

I am not wasting my time, and the more people like you tell me that I am wrong, the more I become resolved in my quest to make the truth known.

As one of my professors in law school told me:

"go out and make some law."

Oathkeepers in the News..Rapist Edition

We've written several times about these grifters, losers, racists, teatards, terrorists, wannabes and crooks before.

Oathkeeper, Terrorist, Child Molester, Gunloon
Well, it seems one of their leaders, a certain Charles Dyer, is all upset because he's pretty sure the Ewww Esss Constitution gives him every right to rape seven year-olds and to steal grenade launchers from the US Army.  So much so, he decided he couldn't get a fair hearing from our Kenyan Socialist Judicial System--so he's on the run.

So...if you ever meet someone who's an Oathkeeper--you might want to keep the kiddies far, far away.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Miller and sawed off shotguns

The Heller court misinterpreted this from US v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174 (1939):

In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a "shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length" at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment, or that its use could contribute to the common defense. Aymette v. State, 2 Humphreys (Tenn.) 154, 158.

The contention that Miller stands for the proposition that Congress may regulate only those classes of weapons which have, or have no, relationship to the militia is absurd. The Supreme Court "did not intend to formulate a general rule in Miller, but merely dealt with the facts of that case." Warin, 530 F.2d at 106 (citing Cases, 131 F.2d at 922). Given the destructive capabilities of modern weaponry, it is inconceivable and irrational to suggest that Congress may only regulate weapons which have no possible relationship to the common defense today "such as a flintlock musket or a matchlock harquebus."

I would also add that Miller uses the term Judicial Notice which is a rule in the law of evidence that allows a fact to be introduced into evidence if the truth of that fact is so notorious or well known that it cannot be refuted. This is done upon the request of the party seeking to have the fact at issue determined by the court. Matters admitted under judicial notice are accepted without being formally introduced by a witness or other rule of evidence, and even if one party wishes to lead evidence to the contrary.

Judicial notice is frequently used for the simplest, most obvious common sense facts, such as which day of the week corresponded to a particular calendar date.

The fact that McReynolds states that "it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment" demonstrates that the firearm was not the issue.

Had it have been, then it would have been entered into evidence that sawed off shotguns were used for the common defence. It was an unrefuted fact that Sawed Off Shotguns are used by the military.

See This for an explanation of Aymette

Aymette v. State, 2 Humphreys (Tenn.) 154, 158.

In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a "shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length" at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment, or that its use could contribute to the common defense. Aymette v. State, 2 Humphreys (Tenn.) 154, 158.

The above quote from US v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939), references Aymette v. State, 21 Tenn. (2 Hump.) 154 (1840), 158 which says:

To make this view of the case still more clear, we may remark, that the phrase, "bear arms," is used in the Kentucky constitution as well as in our own, and implies, as has already been suggested, their military use. The 28th section of our bill of rights provides, "that no citizen of this State shall be compelled to bear arms, provided he will pay in equivalent, to be ascertained by law." Here we know that the phrase has a military sense, and no other; and we must infer that it is used in the same sense in the 26th section, which secures to the citizen the right to bear arms. A man in the pursuit of deer, elk and buffaloes, might carry his rifle every day, for forty years, and, yet, it would never be said of him, that he had borne arms, much less could it be said, that a private citizen bears arms, because he has a dirk or pistol concealed under his clothes, or a spear in a cane. So that, with deference, we think the argument of the court in the case referred to, even upon the question it has debated, is defective and inconclusive.


There are over 550 Million firearms in Worldwide ciculation. That's 1 Firearm for every 12 people on the planet. The only question is "how do we arm the other 11?"

The fictionalised Victor Bout in the film Lord of War.

See also:
'Arms dealer' Viktor Bout's lawyer challenges US trial
Profile: Viktor Bout
Alleged Arms Dealer's Past Debated Before Trial


I'm seeing from a lot of comments here that the love of guns is driven from a strong sense of fear.

That fear produces an unreasonable belief in the efficacy of firearms to protect an indidividual which is given excessive weight. This leads to a failure to consider other, possibly better, self-defence alternatives. Additionally, this also leads to a less accurate risk assement and a exaggerated fear and less objective view of reality.