Sunday, February 28, 2010

Falklands Redux?

From a recent story over at The Mirror, it looks like things are hotting up in the Falklands again.

Seems that British oil exploration firm, Desiree, has begun drilling off the Falklands of late (about 60 miles north) and the Argentine governmental types are getting all wrought up, claiming to take control of waters between Argentina's shoreline and the Falklands, in theory awarding themselves the authority to blockade the Falklands.

In ongoing developments, on February 25th the British destroyer HMS York intercepted (according to some British journalists, not the worlds least sensationalistic nor most reliable bunch...but then again, our own seem to be eagerly diving down that rat hole...) the Argentine corvette ARA Drummond in British waters near the Falklands. After a brief radio exchange, the Argentine vessel left British waters.

Thus far, the Argentinian position consists largely of bloviating whilst laying the diplomatic groundwork for naval and, perhaps ground-based, military adventurism.

But as we saw in the last Falklands war, in 1982, Argentinian politicians are far from uniquely resistant to utilizing military adventure and ginned up nationalism to distract their populace from domestic issues. Of course, last time around, it didn't work out terribly well for them.

Regrettably, Britain will have to go it alone if it comes to conflict given the current U.S. administrations disinterest in providing support to its' allies and the European Union rumored signaling of opposition to "supporting British aggression".

Britain, having for some years been busy about the business of emasculating its military, may have cause to regret those decisions. It is to be hoped, for the sake of the Falklands residents who appear quite enthused about remaining British subjects (as opposed to being assimilated by Argentina), that the formerly great Britain can triumph against the odds.

Another fine example of Stupid

"If you illegalize sleeping, camping, lying, sitting, congregating, then what's left: walking?" said Paul Boden, director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project, which aids the homeless.

From an otherwise interesting article on how perhaps, finally, San Francisco may be preparing to do something about street crime and pedestrian harassment (which are such great business incentives for an area) comes this example of both the failure of public education and the sort of semi-educated nimrods we have participating in public discourse these days.

To put it in terms they might understand...

"You go 'way now. Come back when can talk right. No can listen now without pointing and laughing at you!"

A British Tea Party, and more...

To my pleasure, all hope may not yet be lost for the formerly great Britain. It seems a Tea Party movement is springing up there, as well, in a surprisingly hopeful development that has (with a brief Thatcherite interlude) been circling the bowl since Churchill left office.

Take a quick read of Daniel Hannan over at the UK Telegraph - cheering, really.

The Stupid, it hurts!

A local country music station, striving to find a new marketing ploy, has chosen pseudo-clever mis-spelling as a ploy, witty souls that they are...

Their tag-line?

"We spell Country with a K!!"

Let's see how that plays out, shall we?


Umm. I'm thinking....not so clever, and they are darned lucky that very few members of Radical Women and the Freedom Socialist Party that listen to C & W music lest the pitchfork and torch-bearing PC sorts turn up on their doorstep.

Just to take it further, is this a hint that folks that enjoy C&W are simply too stupid to spell properly? Or that being illiterate is somehow cool?


Saturday, February 27, 2010

On new taxes - A letter to the editor

The writer does not go far enough, and a prior commenter picked up on a basic reality - setting loose the legislature without restraints such as were imposed by the now-suspended Initiative 650 is a perilous thing indeed for voters and the economy.

When an economy is stressed (say, in a Depression, as is now the case) it has entered a cycle where fewer folks are buying, leading to unemployment all along the production path as demand for products fall, and this in turn leads to yet less buying as unemployed folks spend what little they have on basic food and shelter rather than new cars, houses, and baubles.

Taxation increases prices - driving down consumer demand even further, and in turn shifting many businesses from lay-offs to bankruptcies, which in turn sends yet another wave of unemployed into the marketplace.

Today, businesses that were "doing ok" during better times have already collapsed. Businesses that were somewhat prosperous, are hovering on the edge of collapse and many have already laid off staff and cut expenses to the bone in an attempt to weather out current conditions. Businesses that were comfortably profitable are laying off and cutting costs as well, as it's difficult not to feel the bankruptcy judge breathing down your neck when good people and successful businesses are going under all about you - and these concerns, and the logical decisions based on them, only build the sense of economic panic in yet others.

Adding taxes, at this point, is a great way to assure we remain enmeshed in our current economic mess for the forseeable future, at absolute best. More likely, new taxes will drive an additional wave of layoffs and shutdowns in the face of consumer demand yet further reduced.

The answer, grim as it is, is an all-cuts state budget - where, for once, our legislators and our spendthrift governor learn to live within their means while attempting to avoid penny-wise/pound-foolish over-broad decisions.

It will, without doubt, be absolutely no fun for anyone involve. State employees will be laid off, state services will either vanish or be privatized, and state assets will be sold.

But with cuts taking State Government down to a level current taxes can pay for, we take the best action we can to at least not make things worse.

Further, if we actually *reduce* our taxes, we can draw businesses struggling in the essentially hostile environment of California, Massachusetts, New York and other over-regulated and heavily taxed states to Washington - where they can grow, prosper, hire people, and pay taxes.

We can return to prosperity. We can, eventually, regain our footing and the level of services we've grown accustomed too. But we need a prosperous economy to do that, and new taxes (even a failure to reduce taxes to compensate for stressed business conditions) are a path away from that prosperous economy.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Furnace Company Follies - An Update

Some may recall that I had some small difficulties with a local furnace company some time ago. I was of the view they'd been rather enthusiastically naughty.

Over lunch today, I got a rather interesting phone call from the Office of the WA State Attorney General - it appears that the company in question is willing to settle for the original, agreed upon, sum. I'm waiting for the paperwork, but upon receipt, I'll be sending off the certified check in the originally agreed upon sum.

Sometimes, the system does work. Pity it's not more often.

Friday, February 19, 2010

For your reading pleasure, the transcript of the hearing and Judge Shaffers' verbal ruling on the Seattle Parks Gun Ban Case ....

Read. Enjoy. PARTICULARLY the judges comments at the end.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"There are many kinds of whores...some of them take money to get naked...others just sell out their friends (and anyone else handy) for cheap short term gain... frankly, the naked-getting ones seem less objectionable...better value for money..."

I'm going to strive to be nice, and not mention names. A week is plenty of notice to any competent person to find a substitute speaker, guest, or host. It takes some real gall to ask someone who has spent months being ignored, talked over, and patronized - and STILL takes the classy way out - to come back and play substitute for the primary offender.

To then, when the classy person just can't bring his/herself to betray his/her principals and further enable the misbehaving sort, rush out and publicly deride said individual goes beyond gall, right into the land of the vile.

Myself...once certain boundaries have been crossed, I find it best to simply eject sufficiently objectionable persons from my life, shunning them with some vigor, as they are simply not worth the time, high blood pressure, or irritation that EITHER playing nice with them for the sake of politeness requires...or the effort required to truly show ones depth of dismay with such creatures.

Malice clearly would tend to qualify, but I argue that narcissism combined with being hurtful to someone I consider a friend and worthy intellectual playmate qualifies such a person for shunning...and that continued acknowledgement of their existence in all but the most indirect terms (unless it's for cheap laughs, of course...and even that should probably be avoided as "too easy") will probably only irritate me, and merely serve to lengthen the period of time required for the objectionable one (if capable) to achieve sufficient personal growth as to become a worthwhile conversationalist.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Well, here we go again, Mr. McGinn

Mayor McGinn of Seattle, our recent replacement for the vile Mayor Nickels, doesn't seem to quite have come to terms with "guns are a third rail - don't touch" in Washington politics. At least in his formal response to the City's recent court defeat after their attempt to defy state law and the state constitution certainly doesn't lead one to that conclusion...

"In a statement after the ruling McGinn said "cities should have the right to restrict guns in playgrounds, pools and community centers where children are present. The court's ruling was based on a state law, RCW 9.41.290, which preempts Seattle from regulating the possession of firearms. It's time for the state Legislature to change that law."" Seattle-PI Online 2/13/10 12:25pm

Le Sigh.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

And now, a letter to the City Librarian

Good Morning -

I write to inquire, in light of the February 12th ruling by Superior Court Judge Cathy Shaffer overturning the Parks Gun Ban on the grounds that it violated RCW 9.41.290 and RCW 9.41.300, Article I, Section 24 of the Washington State Constitution, and quite possibly the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution as incorporated under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution as interpreted in the post-Heller era, when your office will strike "Possession, except by law enforcement officers, of a firearm on Library property." from Category E (Serious Violation Toward Person(s) or Property) listed in the Seattle Public Library Rules of Conduct?

Have you already changed the rule, such that if I visit a library while lawfully armed, that I will be allowed to proceed about my business within the bounds of state, county, and municipal law? Do you intend to change (and publish the change) in the near future?

I note that the regulatory and enforcement structure are nearly identical to the overturned "Parks Ban", and strongly suspect that if adjudicated, a similar result (particularly in light of stare decisis) would result after significant legal expense at a time when the Library budget is already best described as perilous. I believe it in the best interests of the City, the Library, taxpayers, and the general populace that action be promptly taken to address this issue.

I look forward to your prompt reply.

Best Wishes,


Friday, February 12, 2010

Seattle Parks Ban Goes Poof!

And who's a sad panda?

On May 4th of 2006, then Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels wrote Washington House Majority Leader Rep. Frank Chopp in which he stated "Our hands are tied at the local level and we are unable to adopt any local laws to protect our residents from gun crime".

On October 13th of 2008, at the request of State Sen. Bob Morton, the Attorney General of the State of Washington issued a formal opinion, the summary of which reads: "The answer to your question is no. RCW 9.41.290 “fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation” and preempts a city’s authority to adopt firearms laws or regulations of application to the general public, unless specifically authorized by state law. Accordingly, RCW 9.41.290 preempts a city’s authority to enact local laws that prohibit possession of firearms on city property or in city-owned facilities."

On December 15th, 2008 a public hearing was held regarding the proposed gun ban, and opposition was overwhelming.

On June 9th of 2009, then Mayor Greg Nickels issued an executive order prohibiting the posession of guns by any person not a law enforcement officer at city parks, community centers, buildings, and the Seattle Center.

On October 28th of 2009, the Second Amendment Foundation, the National Rifle Association,Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the Washington Arms Collectors and five individual plaintiff's filed suit (after numerous warnings) against the City of Seattle alleging that the ban violated state Pre-emption as described under titles 9.41.290 and 9.41.300 of the Revised Code of Washington.

On February 12th of 2010, King County Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer ruled that "Seattle's Department of Parks and Recreation's Rule/Policy Number P 060-8.14 ("Firearms Rule") violates Washington law and on that basis, is null and void." Written ruling here, oral ruling to follow.

That, however, is only the bones of the ruling. I was there, sitting in the courtroom, as Judge Shaffer issued her ruling from the bench with eloquence, logic, and a fine analysis of the case law before her before offering her well-reasoned conclusion - a conclusion much more far reaching than the media depicts. I look forward to posting it in it's entirety as soon as the court reporters transcript becomes available. It is a beautiful logical construct and a testament to a fine legal mind operating in top form. Today, however, lacking a recording device, I can only report my best recollection.

Judge Shaffer began with an analysis of constitutional issues - matters brought by neither plaintiff or defendant, but of which she took judicial notice as background information. Article I, Section 24 of the Washington State Constitution reads "RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS. The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men." And, of course, the Judge noted the Second Amendment - about the time she brought up Heller and the potential 14th Amendment (Section 1) implications, audible gasps of horror began to erupt in the back benches of the courtroom.

The sad panda's of CeaseFire and their allies appeared to be realizing they were about to have a very bad day. They were not mistaken.

Judge Shaffer proceeded to the three cases brought by the City's pro bono attorneys as precedent. The first, decided in 1958, regarded an E. WA city and whether it had the authority to decide who it would rent a community stadium to - the Judge found the case inapplicable as the parks were open to the public, not rented to specific individuals. The second case, Pacific Northwest Shooting Park, et Al, Appellants v. City of Sequim, Police Chief, Respondent, was dismissed similarly irrelevant as not applying to a rule to be followed by the general public. The third case, Cherry v. Mun. of Metro. Seattle, 116 Wn.2d 794, 802, in which the WA Supreme Court stated that muni/county/etc employers could bar employee's w/ concealed pistol licenses from otherwise legal on-the-job carry was also irrelevant.

Shaffer went on to note that if the rule in question were allowed to stand, the City could just as easily bar gun-owners from streets, sidewalks, the waterfront, and any other area under City control.

However, the fun had yet to truly begin. Shaffer ruled that Article 1, Section 24 of the State Constitution and the Second Amendment were *individual* rights and thus barred such a rule, and further, that the rule since it affected the general public and imposed a criminal penalty (i.e., "we're not regulating gun possession. We're just withdrawing permission to remain on premises, and summoning SPD to criminally trespass those that don't immediately obey" isn't going to fly in the courts) was in violation of the pre-emption statutes, RCW 9.41.290 and 9.41.300.

I was amazed I didn't hear the whipcrack reports of multiple spontaneous implosions as this came down, given the presence of CeaseFire members.

This ruling, if sustained on appeal (and I half expect the City to push it all the way to the WA Supreme Ct, at which point a ruling against the City would create binding precedent across the state), effectively emasculates attempts by gun-banners and hoplophobes to implement a nightmarish patchwork of confusing jurisdiction to jurisdiction rule changes and eccentricities. It means that any gun law changes (or "rules" - regulation/law in heavy drag) will need to originate in the WA State Legislature. It further sets at least advisory precedent for other courts regarding the Second as an individual right.

In my considered opinion, it means that for the forseeable future, CeaseFire might as well fold up shop or take up knitting tea cozies.

It's a GOOD day. More to come later.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Let's just settle this up front - I have not served in the military, and as I approach my 45th birthday, it appears vanishingly unlikely that I shall. Beat up as I am, I suspect they would need to be relatively desperate before I got the gilt-edged invitation. Nigh on 25 years ago..I nearly joined, but was effectively deterred by the, um, harsher policies of that era on the matter.

I suspect a tour of service would likely have my younger self a fair amount of good, and I did want to serve. Coincidentally, for those new to this blog (joining my three regular readers, and yes, I know, I really should write more often) I am, in fact, an adult male of the fey persuasion.

That said and my starting point established. Let us sally forth and discuss DADT...

In 1993, "Don't ask, Don't tell" was the Clinton-era successor to the numerous previous iterations of counterproductive policies. A step forward, it remained a long way from equality, efficiency, or sanity - but as a politically driven measure, it was the least bad measure - even as it codified a culture of deceit and blackmail in our military.

DADT resulted, as had its' prior iterations, in the waste of military resources (training is NOT free), damaged lives, and a fair amount of controversy and wheel-spinning that served absolutely nobody well. Sometimes this sort of half-step is politically politically necessary, but it is seldom ever good for the folks at the business end of affairs.

Now talk is being heard of going forward towards equality, and "how do we do it". History has a lot to teach us about "How NOT to do it", and a few hints on possible approaches as well.

"How not to do it" pretty much includes anything not based in a strict meritocracy. Any system that operates on any other principle (say, "making up for past wrongs") will merely create resentment in the ranks, and worse, undermine the authority and respect for LGBT folks who *are* promoted or hold positions of responsibility.

I'd argue there are pretty much two viable approaches to integrating openly serving LGBT folks.

1) Full Out. Bright'n'shiny one morning, DADT vanishes, and LGBT folk may serve openly in the ranks. (option - give a thirty day window for current service members who are *just horrified* to bail, after the window, UCMJ addresses assaults on fellow service members well) and apply standard fraternization rules as needed.

2) Scream twice. Acknowledge the world is a deeply imperfect place. Implement "open and accepting units" with a slightly higher rate of pay in all services. Assign *all* new recruits to the "open and accepting" units and transfer folks in the old-style units to the new either on request or when it becomes apparent they are practicing members of the LGBT community. Anti-fraternization rules still apply.

I think (2) is both less desirable and more practical, unfortunately, given both political and military reality. It's a longer road, but I think it is more sustainable and less damaging to our current military posture - and more likely to avoid the pitfalls of affirmative action and all its' accompanying headaches.

Revisions possible. Written w/o Caffeine. Errors and poor phrasing should be blamed on said lack.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A word to our FFL friends

While I despise the IRS with all the vigor of anyone else, they seem to be going on a buying spree - and I'd rather my FFL friends benefit than some random faceless stranger. A 60 shotgun deal is nothing to sneeze at.

Bid at the link :)