Saturday, December 31, 2011
New Years & Traditions - Resolutions
On the personal side...
Based on the last few years adventures, I need to adhere more closely to "if it makes me giggle, it's probably a bad idea". At the same time, learning to step away from the keyboard and the telephone when truly annoyed is an ongoing learning thing for me - it is far too easy for me to cut loose with unfiltered snark, resulting in distinctly less than amusing attempts at after action damage control. A resolution to attempt to be more measured with my interactions in the world would seem a good choice.
Similarly, while I've learned to let go a bit (certainly far more than when I was introduced to the notion) and roll with the punches, I think I've taken that lesson far enough and perhaps need to shift gears in 2012 and work more on planning and stability. It's been a long stretch of rolling with the punches, and I'd like a bit more control of events. So, a resolution to find a new middle ground between raving control freak and laissez-faire loser seems one worth taking up.
Gratitude is something that I continue to struggle with. I'm presently blessed with BOTH kinds of mentors in my life - both the kind I want in many ways to emulate, and the sort in whom I recognize parts of myself that horrify me (and need fixed, right fast) - the trick is recognizing both are good to have about, but the challenge is that one is far more pleasant to learn from than the other. Learning to be grateful for both seems a worthwhile goal for 2012, while equally important is learning from both sorts.
Over the last few years I've retreated more and more from social life - and no matter how wonderful a given event is, a single social event a year where one is surrounded by ones chosen fellows is simply insufficient - and in my instance, deeply unlikely to improve my dating prospects. Resolved for 2012: Get out more, maybe plan a dinner or two.
Similarly, for a variety of reasons, I've not been out shooting much in the last few years and as a result my skillset has melted. I'm reasonably sure I can make the broadside of a barn flinch in terror, but a 100 rounds a week could probably improve the precision of that sort of effort and create a higher plateau to deteriorate from should I find myself in a situation where I'm shooting for survival rather than satisfaction.
I need to write more, and with more precision in 2012. One is likely to follow the other. Must get to that.
I need to continue to support Mom better. On the list is getting her a new battery for her scooter device, getting her out more on excursions, and shifting the house to a lower maintenance stance while prepping it for eventual sale.
Clutter reduction. Oy Vey. I need to get rid of a BUNCH of crap - books, clothes, furniture, tools, a truck, etc.
I'm sure there's more, but there is plenty to keep me busy for a bit just with what's above...
Sunday, December 18, 2011
A few thoughts on abortion...
1) Under what circumstances and conditions is it justifiable to take a human life?
2) When does human life begin?
Traditionally, inconvenience/poor timing/negligence and "I don't wanna" have not been acceptable standards for killing someone. Nasty little names like murder, manslaughter, and negligent homicide have all been applied to such merry activities.
On the other hand, every legal system in the country has in it some provision in it for "he/she needed killing", typically wrapped in a self-defense statute, and usually with phrases like "threat to life", "engaged in a felonious act", or "reasonable threat to physical safety of self or others".
The felonious and assaultive abilities of an infant still in the womb are fairly minimal. There certainly exist medical circumstances where some variation of the dread choice "kid v. mom" needs to be made, as one is merely choosing coffin size, not the impending presence of coffins; and similarly, there exist at all points in life "quality of life" issues for a patient that we as a society have come to realize justify "plug-pulling".
Then we come to the challenging question - "At what point does human life begin?"
Surely, someplace between mitosis and age 70 we can come to an agreement that a human life, mostly worth protecting, is in progress.
The medieval definition could be considered "at birth" (whether natural or by primitive c-section). But the middle ages were a *long time* back, and survivability has advanced a little bit since then.
I think all the sane among us can agree that "once born, is life" and we can move on from that point with a narrower question - "Where, between mitosis and birth, does life begin?"
I would suggest that a reasonable expectation that if removed from the womb unmutilated by the process of infant survival indicates that the fetus/infant is a pretty clear indication that fetus/infant has achieved personhood. And killing off people without a damned good reason is murder, morally.
Being female, historically, has until quite recently not been a get out of jail free card. And in the presence of todays wide range of effective contraceptives and a 4-5 month pre-viability window (it ain't independently viable, thus not yet a person), there is no reason that it *should* be.
Now, I expect I'm in trouble now from both the "abortion is evil" and the "women are the only one that can make this decision, abortion is a RIGHT" crowds - and that's a good sign, because if you piss off the extremists at either end of a debate...you're probably making sense.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Gay Bashing: Far from Over
I remember when, as I was first coming out or not long after, Q Patrol (a LGBT-oriented "Guardian Angels" type group was founded in Seattle). And when it faded into history.
Things are better.
I remember reading of the common place violence, institutional and individual (and the widespread systematic and personalized discrimination and harassment) my predecessors in the LGBT community suffered to a far greater degree than I or any of my successors (who have had it yet better than I) have had to tolerate.
Things are better.
I am blessed with history to instruct me. Courtesy of those gone before, I am allowed to remember by proxy the burgeoning LGBT culture and openness of pre-Nazi Germany. I am allowed to understand that every shred of progress we have made stands on a foundation made of sand and hope, and every victory for freedom and individuality is potentially transitory - subject to the winds of economics, social whimsy, and fear. The battle never ends.
Things are better.
I am, unless I wish to distance myself from reality far more thoroughly than either Neville Chamberlain or Nancy Pelosi, forced to admit that things are far from perfect. That gay bashing still takes place, and that crosses still burn. And that cops, regardless of any special nobility or unique lack thereof, are merely human - that barring miraculous events, they get to show up with a mop, a notebook, and investigative tools...but can't make murder or assault somehow "un-happen"; that even hopes of prevention are wildly optimistic.
We are each responsible for making the choices necessary to guard our own safety, based on our own personal ethos, priorities, and in accordance with local legal conditions. Once we've made those choices, we need to take responsibility for them and at least admit them to ourselves - and allow others to make their own, similar, choices.
My own fundamental guide in such matters is the notion that it is, under any normal circumstances, morally wrong to initiate the aggressive use of force against another person. That it is sufficiently wrong as to justify the application of the defensive use of force up to and including lethal force. Others mileage may vary. I also observe that very few principals stand in isolation.
I could wish that more members of the LGBT community seriously re-examine the prevalent views regarding self-defense and the tools thereof in the community. Being vulnerable hasn't, in my opinion, proven a really winning strategy for us - and it seems unreasonable to assume demanding others become vulnerable to the little inequalities of nature and numbers will improve the safety of either thus or those we would strip of extant civil rights.
Yet, things are better.
I write this after local hair dresser and pillar of the local Filipino community Danny Vega has died, subsequent to being beaten into a coma by three young assailants yet to be apprehended.
Most believe that Vega, as a visibly identifiable gay man, was assaulted in the course of a hate crime - a gay bashing. One that, now, includes his murder - his death from injuries his assailants inflicted.
Things are better. But they still sometimes suck. And this is certainly one of those times. Much remains to be done.
My condolences to the family and Mr. Vega's friends and admirers.
To the rest of the community? As individuals, examine how you think about your safety. Look at how well your assumptions stand up to reality. And consider learning some form of self-defense - something that will let you have a fighting chance versus 3:1 odds...even if you're 5'2", or with medically fouled-up body strength, or with asthma such that "run away, run away" isn't a valid option.
Not only does each LGBT person that becomes a "hard" or "dangerous" target (i.e., bad things are fairly likely to immediately and violently happen to those that attempt assault upon them) have a better chance of going home with roughly the same number of pieces they showed up with in the event of proposed mischief - but each time an assault on an LGBT person fails, disastrously, for the assailant(s) it works to shatter the meme that we are a populace safe to assault.
When, after all, was the last time you heard of a bunch of bigots gathering together to beat the crud out of a Blood, a Crip, a Hells Angel, or a uniformed cop? Bigotry rests on a foundation of cowardice, and is seldom eager to tangle with targets that - at a physical and effective level - fight back, and fight back in ways that may exact a terrible price from the assailant.
Things are better. We need to work to make them better yet.
Monday, November 7, 2011
The targets, they hang so low...
First, as shown in Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales ( https://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/28/politics/28scotus.html ), neither Bellingham PD nor any other PD/LEO have any specific duty to protect and serve.
Second, if we're going to enforce the law...let's enforce the law. At the same time this alleged bozo (I, too, am curious about *actual* violation of statute or ordinance - or, likely, lack thereof) is subject to potential arrest (assuming one can make probable cause, etc)so, too, are the protesters unlawfully occupying property in violation of local ordinance.
Waving a *protest this* sign is not, and should not, be a get out of jail/trouble/harsh words free card.
To advocate otherwise is simply intellectual cowardice and a betrayal of the principles of protest - a willingness to take the legal consequences for your actions is fundamental to peaceful protest.
It is possible to protest *within* the law. If you are going to go outside the law, be ready to accept the consequences - they await you. Don't whine, you made a *choice* - with predictable results.
If you take it to the next level, and get violent about your protest du jour, don't be surprised if folks return the favor..as Col. Jeff Cooper once said regarding an interview on the subject "...asked me in a recent interview if I did not agree that 'violence begets violence.' I told him that it is my earnest endeavor to see that it does. I would like very much to ensure — and in some cases I have — that any man who offers violence to his fellow citizen begets a whole lot more in return than he can enjoy."
Similarly, if you break the law...and you have somehow garnered political allies (or a group of politically powerful that find your misbehavior useful) that coerce an ethical police department into not performing their sworn duty...don't be terribly surprised if you get treated to a white mutiny - an absolute lack of any initiative to aid or assist you, and then only if directly ordered, and finally, then performing the absolute minimum to fulfill the *precise* letter of the order (at best. There are so MANY ways to misinterpret an order with just a bit of imagination).
So. Have fun out there reaping what you sow.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Seattle Parks Ban, Strike II
Today is another story. The Washington State Court of Appeals has ruled. MWhahaahahaha.
We won. The hoplophobes lost.
I reserve the right to take a few moments to gloat, even if it is a bit unseemly.
That little task completed, I'm rather hoping that Mayor McGinn can pragmatically quit while he and the City are behind - rather than pursuing ongoing, and in my lay opinion futile, expensive litigation with the goal of infringing upon the rights of a group of citizens that have consistently proven more law-abiding than most.
I'd like to particularly thank the Second Amendment Foundation for their fine work in this matter, but also extend my thanks to the legal team, the NRA, and to all of the co-plaintiff's in this suit.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Violent Protesters in Portland
Others may want to join in the commentary, but apparently Occupy Portland folks started to wave knives about and use racial epithets got a wee surprise - the proposed victim was armed.
Below find my somewhat edited response.
Knives are darned serious stuff, and constitute a lethal threat of force if displayed in an attempt to either deter or coerce action.Barring further data, in most states about the time that protester waved a knife at the gentlemen (particularly giving that, given the racial epithet, it could be labeled a hate crime) the gentlemen would have been completely within the law to not merely display a firearm, but draw and fire it *immediately* and without any warning at all with lethal intent under the self-defense provisions of such states.
Lesson: Don't be waving knives about threateningly. You may not get someone as forgiving or trusting as this gentleman. ( See the Oregon Revised Statutes: 161.200-267).
A knife wielded in a threatening fashion is a fairly clear imminent danger of death or severe bodily injury, justifying a response with deadly force.
And…an awful lot of us, perfectly lawfully, simply go armed about our daily business. We’ve figured out that “Bad Stuff”, when it turns up, is unlikely to pause politely when requested while we meander off to the nearest gun store and choose an appropriate device for personal defense and return to interact with said “Bad Stuff”.
Similarly, we’ve figured out that we are unlikely to get engraved invitations to interact with “Bad Stuff”…it’s going to almost certainly be on a “SURPRISE!” basis. And finally, we’re fairly sure that we won’t get a really cooperative response if we loudly declaim “I have summoned the Police! Wait here for them to arrive, and then we shall continue this!”
With that in mind, protesters might consider a bit before waving knives about or getting all confrontational.
A lot of folks, if it looks like they are about to be attacked by a group of even unarmed and spritely young thugs can make a really good argument that:
(a) they can’t effectively flee, and
(b) they were at risk for their lives – followed by a hail of gunfire from the proposed victim.
This is referred to as a fatal error in the victim selection process.
Play nice. Or play an unusually complex and inconsiderate form of russian roulette.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
On getting "made"
I've had my CPL for decades, and Open Carry is also legal here. Soooo...why fret?
As I prepared to leave, I got up and stretched before putting on my coat. Two little girls sitting nearby asked me if that was a gun on my belt. Being polite, I replied "Yes, it is" and when asked if I was a policeman, was quite clear that I was no such thing.
When they asked why I had a gun, I initially replied "because I'm legally allowed to" - and then elaborated.
I pointed out that like a fire extinguisher, one bought one and hoped to never ever need it. But that if a need suddenly arose - for a fire extinguisher or a pistol - odds were not good that one would be able to excuse oneself to rush off and buy one.
At this point the delightful grandmother (a southern grand dame of the old school) of the 10yo's chimed in asking me if I wasn't a police officer, and I again confirmed that I wasn't. I mentioned I'd picked up my license (not required for open carry in WA, but to reassure...) about twenty years ago before bidding the trio a pleasant adieu and meandering home.
And that's how you do it. You're an ambassador when you open carry or when concealment fails. You need to be unfailingly polite and considerate, use "ma'am" and "sir" liberally, and budget the time (even when it takes a deep breath) to have a few moments of positive interaction with the curious, the confused, and the flustered.
Less than 5 minutes showed three people that folks that are neither cops nor criminals can legally carry a gun and be pleasant and polite - just perhaps changing a couple of young worldviews (and MAYBE an older one...) by not being gruff or standoffish.
I'd call that a win for the day.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Facebook Exchange with an "Occupy This" ninny...
Occupy Loon: There have been jobs created by government, esp. via the stimulus package. I wrote a story on it so it does happen. However, since so many of those who CAN hire are choosing NOT to simply to make the current POTUS look bad, there's not much we can do. It's a shame how the GOP is willing to keep millions out of work just so one man will lose his job in 2012! GayCynic: I suspect that uncertainty about the regulatory and tax environments, in addition to concern about the economy, has rather more to do with business decisions than "making the president look bad".Certainly the current round of protests would make me deeply hesitant to hire or expand in any region that they were taking place - indicates instability and the demands of the protesters if met, would create a ridiculously hostile business environment.
Most business folks I know right now, having taking their lumps, are carefully tucking their assets away and not planning to come out from under their rocks until either desperation forces them out or the amount of risk looks a bunch better to them.
Occupy Loon: You're kidding yourself then. Businesses--both large and small--have gotten tax cut after tax cut, not to mention the other "encouragements" from the govt. But they sit on THEIR money rather than grow their businesses or hire because they are GREEDY. There has always been and always will be regulation and there should always be, for god's sake. The Bush tax cuts were supposed to spur spending hiring. Why hasn't that happened? Because the businesses "leaders" want that money for themselves. The business class in this country are greedy, they can't get enough. They have more than they need but they want more, more, more.
7:25pm (about a minute ago)
Monday, October 3, 2011
Why Media Matters remains a tax-exempt 501(c)3?
One might say that if you declare war on the big kids, you've got to expect to take some lumps.
For the unfamiliar, 501(c)3 refers to a specific section of the tax code that very specifically defines which organizations are "tax exempt", or more accurately, which organizations may receive tax deductible donations.
Because it's so specific, even a lay person (like me) can take a stab at understanding the code and getting it right.
If you're starting up or operating a 501(c)3 (and there are other 501 organizations, each with their own benefits, worth considering instead) you have some limits on how you may operate and what you may do.
Your bright shiny new organization must fall within the purposes permitted - i.e., you can't just start the Society of Belly Button Lint Collectors and achieve 501(c)3 status.
The group must be founded for purposes related to charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, public safety testing, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, or preventing cruelty to children or animals.
The fine folks at the Infernal Revenue Service tell us that the term charitable is used in its generally accepted legal sense and includes relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged; advancement of religion; advancement of education or science; erecting or maintaining public buildings, monuments, or works; lessening the burdens of government; lessening neighborhood tensions; eliminating prejudice and discrimination; defending human and civil rights secured by law; and combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency.
In other words, just to start the critter, you need to follow some rules and keep following them.
Once founded, however, more rules apply. The organization must not
1) Be organized or operate for the benefit of private interests (in other words, the nice money can't end up funding a private organization or person).
2) Attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.
That's it, as far as I understand it, as far as 501(c)3 and its' attendant bozo no-no's go.
Media Matters has declared war on Fox, a private organization. They have not attempted to solicit legislation (to the best of my knowledge) or run candidates as part of their tactics. They have not been found to have diverted funds for private benefit.
In the busy little check box on the 501(c)3 application form, they checked "educational" as their purpose. And regrettably enough, they are acting to "educate" the general populace and, more tactically important, Fox's advertisers that "Fox is bad, m'kay?".
This may not be *nice*, but IMHO, is well within the rules. So, as Fox talking heads ask with great dudgeon "why hasn't the IRS done anything when all these citizens are sending in complaints" the answer is fairly straightforward, and likely understood by the nice lawyers at Fox (who may be off in an isolated room at Fox HQ thumping their forehead against the wall in frustration)...i.e., "they aren't doing anything that violates the terms of their charter, dummy!".
Given that for good or ill, one cannot accurately describe the leadership of Fox as either stupid or legally uninformed the question becomes..."what are they doing?"...
Well, I can only offer a few suspicions...
Having found themselves, and their advertising revenue stream, under attack they may have decided to strike back - both in the court of public opinion ("HEY! No FAIR!") and possibly in the far more dangerous arena of congressional action, perhaps laying the groundwork to further restrict the actions of 501(c)3 groups and their participation in the public exchange of ideas by campaigning to change the tax code.
Unlike Media Matters, Fox *can* do that. Fox can endorse or support politicians, donate (or solicit donations for) political candidates, take positions on ballot measures, and more - it's a *private* organization, a body of individuals that do not suffer under the restrictions of 501(c)3...so while money that folks give them (for goods and services) isn't tax deductible (nor should it be), a private organization can be as political as it wants to be barring other provisions of law.
In other words, Fox (and NBC/ABC/CBS/etc) all have bigger and better hammers that a 501(c)3...and Media Matters has volunteered to be hammered.
Ooops. I may not agree with what I suspect will be Fox's techniques, and be particularly worried about unintended consequences - but I recognize that Media Matters may well have made an organizationally fatal mis-step.
Friday, September 16, 2011
NFL to Fondle Fans
Not being struck down by football madness myself, it doesn't affect me beyond it being yet another "safety nazi" measure chipping away at civilization - I can simply continue my years long tradition of neither attending nor watching NFL events.
I would point out, though, that major league sports events have been considered significant and vulnerable targets for both "traditional" and NBC terrorist strikes since 2001 and not without justification. Particularly with this new NFL initiative, where else are you going to find 50,000+ unarmed and unarmored targets in a single place with minimal security?
Perhaps it's time on general principles to avoid such ill-advised events - not just because the organizers insist on enforcing helplessness amongst their patrons, but because it's just bad strategy to be at one of the more likely ground zero's for the next major terrorist act on American soil.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Go help JayG now....
It seems he's in this "Kilted to Kick Cancer" contest, and he's not entirely clear on fashion faux pas, or the difference between a kilt and a pinafore. Someone really ought to help him.
If you're nearby, take him out for coffee (if you can separate him from his "glamorous" new outfit) and explain the difference, would you? And while you're at it, click on the poor confused boys pic and donate to the cause - it may be the only way to save him!!
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Obama & Jobs
Just maybe the best possible thing a government can do for an economy is to - get out of the way.
The best a government can offer a healthy young man or woman in these dark times might be an infantry position guarding our southern border - three hots and a cot, a crap salary, and a tent not being a bad way to wait out a recession as we reach a tipping point where those welfare checks just won't cash any more.
Perhaps a flat tax, with a floor beneath which folks are figured to be sufficiently bad off that they don't need their income taxed to achieve the recommended daily amount of misery - that they are sufficiently busy trying to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads that we don't need to sap their minimal resources with yet another burden.
Rather than using the income tax for social engineering, perhaps we are better served with it just generating revenue without inspiring an entire industry dedicated to enforcing and evading its onerous legal and fiscal requirements. The money saved by business could hire innumerable new workers - if business felt it was safe to hire them in the first place.
Towards that end, let us repeal the abomination of ObamaCare - rammed through unread in the middle of the night, with neither debate, consideration, nor comprehension. "You have to pass it in order to read it!".
Starting over and trying again appears a far wiser choice than moving forward with the vast and unsustainable financial burden known as ObamaCare that inspires only uncertainty, fear, and visions of doom in the business community.
Imposing a ten year moratorium on the creation of new federal regulations might not hurt, either - particularly if accompanied by an effort to repeal many of the existing regulations presently burdening the productive sector of society. See "get out of the way".
I'm sure others, wiser and more knowledgeable than I, can offer far more insightful and canny suggestions - but that's the best I can come up with off the cuff, and rather than sit and rant about the absolute crapulence of the current administration... I'm going to try and, at least occasionally, put out a few positive thoughts on how the current cluster could at least start to be untangled.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Coffee & Offices
Having parted ways with my former employer, I've landed a new job with a group whose goals I believe in that's populated by decent and down to earth folks - all very cool things.
Like any new job, there's the challenge of learning the way the new team does things, and usually some kind of physical challenge or another involved someplace.
In this case, I'm looking at coffee (the stuff of life) not being terribly convenient...and an office that's really nice, but so dead quiet that mere thought rattles the windows. After a bit of contemplating, I have some solutions..
I've not been a fan of Keurig in the past as it seemed like locking yourself into a proprietary system that didn't have any real guarantee of continuing - something that didn't thrill me. However, if I'm only making coffee for *me*, keeping muss and fuss to an absolute minimum...the Keurig canister system seems to be made of win with its' canister system, eliminating loose grounds and filters.
One Keurig-style coffee machine, coming up.
I work better with *some* kind of background noise to keep the creative juices flowing, but not so much as to irritate co-workers. After a bit of pondering, found a glorified clock radio with an integrated iPhone dock.
It's not the art-deco piece I'd like (sadly, nobody is making those), but it's at least got some warmth to it, I can play the work-safe iPod tunes on there at a pleasantly muted volume, and I got a "floor-model" deal on it.
I'll call that a win..and still pretty darned happy with the new job.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
On this day
I remember a twin sense of fear and anger as the news kept coming in and I made the call that I would be working from home that day. I remember favoring, if the target could be determined, an all-out effort to destroy the individuals responsible for this attack on our nation.
The anger is cooler today, if only because that sort of fury cannot be sustained. We have been at war in the Afghanistan and Iraq for 10 years now, with immense cost in life and treasure - and the job is far from done. Osama Bin Laden and many of his cronies are gone, but their habit of thought persists.
Today, we have among us more than a few appeasers and cowards leading our nation, emerged from the boltholes of falsehood and glory-hounding they sought out in the early days of this conflict, made bold by the cooling of the nations wrath since the early days after the assault upon our nation.
These cowards and fools would have us believe that our task in Afghanistan and Iraq is coming to an end, and that our obligation to both our nation and our dead - and to the people of those benighted lands - is at an end, and it is time to bring our troops home.
Yet our troops are still wounded in combat, and the invaded nations are still simmering hotbeds of the more radical sorts of Islam...ready to burst again into flame the moment we turn our back. Our President and his party fail to discern the lesson of WWII...that sometimes, an extended occupation (see: Germany, Japan) is not merely a good idea, but simply necessary.
To eradicate an idea, to shatter a pattern of thought, takes far more than combat and much more than military victories. It takes decades of education, and of creating institutions built in something other than corruption, cronyism, and tribalism. Inculcating the notion that religion and governance are bad bed mates is a work of generations, not a mere decade.
Until that work is done, we are at hazard of needing to re-visit Iraq and Afghanistan with further rounds of blood and thunder, merely to run a gore-covered red queens race to get back to where we are now.
Yet our leader would have us withdraw to the near certainty of embracing such a bloody future for all of three nations. Our work there is not nearly done, and our work has been hampered far too much by sensitivity and political correctness.
At home, those same leaders pay lip service to some of the most critical lessons of September 11th, 2001 - that "government" not only will not always be there to save us, but that it cannot always be there to save us. That the responsibility for stopping evil in its tracks rests, more often than not, with individuals such as the heroes of Flight 93.
We are left with the "look busy" efforts of the scum and villains of the TSA, performing Security Kabuki and with a vastly understaffed Air Marshal program and the promising armed pilot program first hobbled by opponents at its' creation and then de-funded by the current administration - crippling what few actual efforts at effective air security have been made.
Instead we have airports turned temples of anti-constitutionality, where probable cause and reasonable suspicion are mere trivia paid lip service, at best. With privacy shattering radiation producing scans and intentionally abusive pat-down searches as an option, our nation celebrates the sacrifices of our nations soldiers and the dead and wounded of that first Taliban offensive.
Today is rightly a day of national mourning and remembrance - but not with the hand-wringing over-blown sensationalism of the national media, but rather with a quiet moment in each of our hearts asking "is our job in Afghanistan and Iraq so finished that we may be reasonably assured of no more evil from those lands?" paired with "is our nation the bastion of freedom, privacy, and individual liberty - or have our leaders substantially emasculated that which the Taliban found most offensive, our freedom?"...
And, upon pondering those questions, I find my answers are far from reassuring. Our nation has strayed far from the track of sanity in favor of sensitivity, and from freedom to false safety.
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
~Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Thuggery & Felonies, let me count the ways...
Let's count the crimes, shall we? At first glance, I'm guessing about four separate crimes, but we may have more here. Let's look closely.
LONGVIEW, Wash. (AP) — Hundreds of Longshoremen stormed the Port of Longview early Thursday, overpowered and held security guards, damaged railroad cars, and dumped grain that is the center of a labor dispute, said Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha.
Ok, holding someone hostage is a criminal act - specifically Unlawful Restraint (RCW 9A.40.040) at a minimum and (a Class C felony under Washington law, good for up to 5 years), and depending on technique (Was deadly force used or threatened?) possibly either Kidnapping 1 (RCW 9A.40.20 - up to life imprisonment) or Kidnapping 2 (RCW 9A.40.30 - a Class B Felony under Washington law, good for up to 10 years).
Six guards were held hostage for a couple of hours after 500 or more Longshoremen broke down gates about 4:30 a.m. and smashed windows in the guard shack, he said.
Now, when the nice Longshoremen broke down the gates, they were almost certainly intent upon what a reasonable person would consider "criminal activity" as shown by their subsequent hostage-taking. This would, in turn, lead to a legitimate charge of Burglary in the First Degree (RCW 9A.52.020) for all of the co-conspirators, another Class A felony.
When they smashed the windows in the guard shack and broke down the gates, most likely doing more than $750.00 in damage, they managed to commit Malicious Mischief in the 2nd Degree (RCW 9A.48.080) - another Class C Felony, good for another 5 years.
By cutting brake lines, the union thugs further pursued their felonious adventures in violation of RCW 81.60.070, Malicious Injury to RailRoad Property and and engaging in RCW 9.05.060 (Criminal Sabotage) - by tampering "in such manner as might, if not discovered, endanger the safety of any engine, motor, car or train, or any person therupon" with railroad equipment. And managed to make themselves eligible for another 10 years in prison.
No one was hurt, and nobody has been arrested. Most of the protesters returned to their union hall after cutting brake lines and spilling grain from car at the EGT terminal, Duscha said.
And then there's the matter of that grain...which, not surprisingly, didn't belong to the union goons. Now, the laws of Washington take a dim view of depriving others of the use of their property without the blessing of the courts. We call that theft (RCW 9A.56.20-50) , around here - and when you add the icing of using coercive force or the threat thereof, we consider it upping the ante to robbery (RCW 9A.56.200-210).
And, based on the evidence today, also believes in a most unusual right to commit felonies with reckless abandon without suffering censure or penalty.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union believes it has the right to work at the facility, but the company has hired a contractor that's staffing a workforce of other union laborers.
Not content with their other criminal activities, threatening a police officer with assault with a deadly weapon (and yes, a baseball bat is certainly such) is considered at absolute best a bit of a faux pas - and likely a criminal one, though I'm not able to find a citation at this late hour.
Thursday's violence was first reported by Kelso radio station KLOG.
Police from several agencies in southwest Washington, the Washington State Patrol and Burlington Northern Santa Fe responded to the violence to secure the scene that followed a demonstration Wednesday.
"We're not surprised," Duscha said. "A lot of the protesters were telling us this in only the start."One sergeant was threatened with baseball bats and retreated, Duscha said. "One officer with hundreds of Longshoremen? He used the better part of discretion."
Arrests should be made. Soon. A picket line is all well and good. Nasty letters and mean looks are just dandy. But when an organization crosses the line into felony assault, kidnapping, death threats, and random property destruction in a campaign of blatant intimidation... the fun is pretty much over and it's time to bring the hammer down.
The train was the first grain shipment to arrive at Longview. It arrived Wednesday night after police arrested 19 demonstrators who tried to block the tracks. They were led by ILWU International President Robert McEllrath, who said they would return.
The blockade appeared to defy a federal restraining order issued last week against the union after it was accused of assaults and death threats.
EGT chief executive Larry Clarke said it was unfortunate that law enforcement needed to make arrests.
Given the apparent prior assaults and death threats, it looks like ILWU is naught but a thuggish criminal organization worthy of the full weight of RICO...an abhorrent law far to often abused, but designed (however badly) as the best way to deal with such criminal organizations.
When will the arrests begin?
Saturday, September 3, 2011
The Bigotry Test
The test is easy enough - take a statement that someone makes about a group of individuals, and substitute either a group you're actually a member of or a group that's generally acknowledged as having been selected out to put up with truly egregious amounts of crap, historically.
For me, variants of the phrase "gay" work. For others, words like "christian, white, muslim, heterosexual, etc" may provide the needed sting to burn through cultural assumptions.
Fortunately, the folks over at the The Oregonian (PortlandLive.com) and members of the Portland LGBT community have been gracious enough to provide us with a good demonstration.
Ok, so far, pretty darned neutral. Mars Hill Church is, in fact, an evangelical set of congregations.
Again, the Oregonian and writer Steve Beaven are doing a great job reporting objectively. No meat here, yet.
Southeast Portland’s Sunnyside neighborhood, one of the city’s most liberal districts, is bracing for a culture clash next week with the arrival of a conservative, evangelical church whose founder preaches against homosexuality and once said yoga is "demonic."
Last week, the Seattle-based Mars Hill Church bought a vacant, 106-year-old church building at 3210 S.E. Taylor St. for $1.25 million.
On Sept. 10, the congregation will meet its new neighbors, some of whom were trying to understand Thursday why an evangelical congregation would move into a neighborhood known more for its leftist politics than its devotion to church.
The man who sold the ornate stone building to Mars Hill doesn’t believe neighbors will warmly accept the new church. David Rinella, who previously lived in the basement of the church with his family, said Thursday that area residents never made him feel welcome.
“They do not want that to be a church,” said Rinella, who is the owner of Rinella Produce and hosted religious services at the church for years. “They would have been happy if that was a McMenamins (pub). I think there are a lot of hypocrites in that neighborhood.”
You wonder why Deumling would feel a need for a good neighbor agreement, but still no meat. The test has yet to show naughtiness.
Ok, so far we're still exploring the wonderful world of fact (and good reporting on the part of The Oregonian). Darn it, surely there's got to be some meat here SOMEPLACE.
A spokesman for Portland’s Q Center, which serves the LGBTQ community, said the organization would “extend an olive branch” to the Mars Hill congregation and invite them to the Q Center’s headquarters in North Portland.
“We’ll be respectful of them and try to make friends,” said the Q Center’s Logan Lynn.
Mars Hill Church was founded in 1996 by Pastor Mark Driscoll and operates nine campuses, mostly in Seattle, with three more on the way, including the one in Portland. Driscoll is a tech-savvy minister who preaches — often in jeans and baseball caps — against homosexuality and urges gays to turn from sin.
There we go!! Let's try the test...
Hmmm. The thud you hear is the lead balloon hitting the ground. No, that *fails* the bigotry test. But to be fair, let's keep trundling through and see what passes or fails, shall we?
“A inter-racial couple walks into your group, you’re supposed to tell them to repent,” Driscoll said in a sermon posted on the church website. “And if at any point you don’t tell them to repent, you’re not faithful to Biblical Christianity.”
Regarding the Mars Hill Church:
What, you mean like a Pride Parade?
The faces and costumes change, but bigotry is fairly evenly distributed across every demographic you'd care to name. Based not only in fear and unfamiliarity, it's based in laziness - it's EASIER to just lump folks into a group and stick them under a set of labels and expected behaviors.
The problem with bigotry isn't only that it's "not nice" in so very many ways, but that it lays a cornerstone for a delusional view of reality. Whoever you are, try the "test"...and if you catch yourself or others *failing*, then wake up and rejoin reality.
Now, go read the article and even browse through the paper. The way the writer handled this article actually eroded, a tiny bit, my cynicism regarding the journalistic profession.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Some links worth exploring
Michigan Bar Owners Take Stand, Bar Electeds...
Frankly, I applaud them. I don't smoke myself, but creating smokers as some kind of second class citizen barred from public life...I don't much hold with. If this sort of resistance cropped up more often on more issues, we'd likely have a better nation for it.
Irresponsible bicyclists not paying their fair share
Author makes a start, but doesn't really get into the meet of the failure of most bicycle plans and madness - safety. Coercively integrating slow vehicles with low mass with normal and high speed vehicles of substantial mass should be regarded as nothing less than criminal negligence, perhaps manslaughter. A brief example would be if one must have an integrated bicycle lane, integrate it *inside* the line of parked cars (on the passenger side) so that the parked vehicles form a barrier to prevent lethal interactions between bicyclists and motor vehicles.
Why are you making it so hard for me to think well of you?
In an incident first reported by Ambulance Driver, after publicly criticizing local police, said police come out and shoot the victims dog. Is there some kind of slow-moving infectious neurological disorder spreading throughout police departments across the nation, affecting all but a small percentage of unusually ethical officers?
Sunday, August 28, 2011
A most thorough fisking, indeed.
The history of "gun control" in New England is fraught with racism and oppression, and not precisely a thing of beauty worthy of pride. From the 17th century gun control laws (where we define gun control as barring one or more classes of person from firearms ownership/usage - as opposed to requiring possession of firearms and secondary firearms products, a far more common practice in early New England) sporadically barring firearms to Native Americans or specific tribes thereof (with the distinct goal of discouraging forcible eviction of the colonists by the native populace)1 to the 1906 imposition of the subjective (and thus inherently discriminatory) License to Carry law, and on to the yet more oppressive (and most likely unconstitutional) Firearms Owner Identification card requirement we see a history of a state ever more hostile to one of its' major industries.
With the implementation of the Approved Gun Rosters, the environment became yet more hostile - but did not impose involuntary expense upon in-state manufacturers if they simply chose to ship their entire production out of state. Annoying for individuals who might prefer to purchase those locally produced products, but not so much for the manufacturers.
As is any manufacturer or businesses right - should a business environment become so toxic (whether for legislative, labor, or other causes) - to move to another location more compatible with its line of business. When the cost of tolerating the toxic condition du jour (in this case, micro-stamping) exceeds the cost of relocation, or looks to be a precursor of such imbalance, the decision becomes much easier for the business.
A citizen votes at the polls. A business votes with its feet.
Any state legislature about the business of regulating any industry needs to take into account that, if they create a sufficiently hostile environment in comparison to other locales, that the regulated industry may simply up stakes and migrate to friendlier turf - whether it is Boeing re-locating its' headquarters and ever more of its' manufacturing outside the state of Washington, Bar-Sto's migration out of California, Olin Corporation's move of their ammunition facility from Illinois to Alabama, or Colt Firearms contemplating the cost/benefit ratio of a migration out of New England2.
In the face of being forced to implement the expensive microstamping boondoggle and with other states welcoming firearms industry and the accompanying high-paying jobs with open arms, it should be no surprise if Smith & Wesson, Savage, Marlin, and Mossberg all are discovered to be engaged in quiet boardroom contemplation of friendlier climates.
Substantial doubts have been cast upon the validity of the assertions regarding the real-world application of micro-stamping technology (aside from significantly increased cost) made by proponents of the notion, specifically by a study out of UC-Davis3 indicating a number of serious technical flaws in the expensive technology.
However, at least one manufacturer is trying to force the matter. Proposals to require that guns be made suitable for micro-stamping, a technology which would allow shell casings to be traced back to the exact gun they were fired from, have been introduced in the Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts legislatures.
Further field criticisms will be offered below.
Again, as is the right of any business large or small. Regulation is by its very nature a balancing act between advancing the interests of the State - legitimate or not - vs. driving business (and thus jobs and tax revenue) out of a state.
In yet another example, a rising new holster maker - Dragon Leather Works - is leaving New York this month to relocate to Tennessee, at least in part because of New Yorks regulatory structure that prohibits, at a felony generating level, any person (even a holster maker) from receiving or possessing normal capacity magazines - a fairly fundamental barrier if your customer is demanding you make a belt carrier for such a magazine; when similar barriers affect the firearms themselves, re-location seems a wise choice.
The New England states are not somehow magically immune from these fundamental laws of politics and economics, and have worked long and hard to create an environment hostile to industry generally and the firearms industry specifically - but until now, by avoiding imposing a major business expense upon manufacturers, have avoided stimulating manufacturers to begin considering whether the cost of moving legacy operations to a friendlier locale might provide a better operating environment.
Given that such a move would almost certainly include tax credits from the new host jurisdiction, production cost savings after initial investment resulting from re-tooling with current generation (as opposed to legacy) tooling and automation, and the option of operating in a right to work state with fewer workplace strictures...and New England states may be faced with the choice of not just backing away from micro-stamping laws, but back-pedaling furiously if they want to retain the operations base of the now-awakened firearms manufacturers who could go almost any place else in the nation and find a friendlier operating environment.
In comments on a public Pink Pistols (a pro-2A LGBT group) forum, one of the founders of that group, Gwen Patton, points out a number of the field impracticalities reducing the micro-stamping technology to expensive foolishness:
It’s questionable how effective micro-stamping would be. The legislation would require firing pins on new makes of handguns to leave microscopic impressions of the gun’s serial number on each casing. Criminals could tamper with the firing pin to prevent impressions from being made or even leave used casings from other guns at crime scenes to cause confusion. Nonetheless, it might still provide useful clues in some cases. But this is a balancing decision that should be left to the legislatures, not gunmakers.
And the entire concept is idiotic.So not only is micro-stamping faced with technical flaws (imprint erosion, ease of defeating the device by criminals and civil rights activists, etc.), but it is easily defeated in the field as well - and that before we consider that not all small arms ammunition is loaded in relatively malleable brass cases - but that steel cased ammunition is also produced, and is not only less likely to accept the expensive micro-stamp, actively damage the micro-stamp mechanism, and is anything but rare...
Step 1: Use a revolver that doesn't eject brass.
Step 2: Scatter micro-stamped brass from someone else's gun that you picked up at the range while wearing gloves.
Step 3: Let's watch the fun, as the forensics morons try to match slugs to brass, and bring in sixteen different owners in for questioning, then find out the slugs weren't even from a semi-automatic weapon, and ALL of the brass is a red herring!
Actions have consequences, and legislatures are not immune from this basic truth. We return to the basic failure of the author to understand that lobbying is merely the equivalent of getting up on a soap box and advocating one clever idea or another.
While firearms manufacturers have a right to lobby against this legislation and explain their objections to it, it is inappropriate to wield the jobs of hundreds of workers as a weapon.
The vote of an industry is expressed by whether its ethos or business realities are so negatively affected as to make doing further business in the affected region unacceptable. And short of proposing state seizure of industry, that remains a fundamental right of any business...to move its operations to the locale the business owners and operators feel best suits their needs.
There exists no shortage of locales that would welcome Colt, Mossberg, and even Smith and Wesson with open arms and, more than likely, open pocketbooks. It is up to Massachusetts, Conneticut, and other New England states that have so studiously demonized the industry to find a way to make remaining in such hostile jurisdictions desirable.
Whether a flat-out lie or based in mind-numbing ignorance, the above is simply untrue. The costs of implementing the patented and sole-source monopoly microstamping technology is simply boggling4,5, even before you face up to the fact that any monopoly can ramp up the cost of their product from mind-numbing to cost-prohibitive whenever the whim strikes once the product is required by law - from the projected increased cost at current pricing of $200 per firearm to vastly more.
Micro-stamping does not place any significant burden on the sale or manufacture of guns. It is not a ban or an arduous tax. It merely requires the engraving of a serial number in one more place on the weapon. If a state legislature decides micro-stamping is appropriate, it should not be forced to choose between citizens’ lives and citizens’ livelihood.
That Massachusetts has had gun control laws, often discriminatory and based in bigotry, corruption, and favoritism for a very long time is beyond dispute. Such is the case when any law is implemented based in unequal treatment of citizens, implemented to a random and subjective (and whimsically variable) standard by authority whether in the chill climate of New England or sunny California.
Massachusetts has had gun-control laws for almost three centuries, and the Connecticut River Valley has been a center of gun-making since George Washington established an armory in Springfield. There is no reason that both gun control and gun manufacturing cannot co-exist for the next few centuries as well.
However, until recently, the demonization of firearms as an alternative to actually *doing something* about criminal bad actors in Massachusetts society has not significantly impacted the firearms industry that generates so many high-paying jobs in the New England region and so much could be overlooked.
Even if Smith & Wesson or Colt were unable to sell, due to regulatory stricture, a single firearm in Massachusetts, they could muddle along with the remaining 49 states and not go broke.
But imposing vast new costs on an industry in the midst of the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, and then expecting them to just eat those costs - or pass them on to customers who are doing well to afford their products in the first place, before such pseudo-tariffs are imposed - when the problem can simply be resolved from that industries viewpoint by simple re-location? And then claiming that said manufacturers were in the wrong for refusing to cooperate in their destruction?
That, my anonymous editorialist is self-righteous and self-centered narcissism taken to an extreme rarely reached even by President Obama, a gentleman of vast skill in that field.
Further, it may just be that the microstamp kerfluffle is going to be enough to make those eager firearms-friendly states look a *lot* better to manufacturers.
You had a good industry that provided good jobs. You may just have, in your totemization of inanimate objects and deodands, managed to lose the jobs, the industry, and the tax revenue - at a time when you can least afford it.
Clayton Cramer, Gun Control in New England Available online at http://www.claytoncramer.com/popular/GunControlColonialNewEngland.PDF
Charles Francis Adams, Jr., ed.,
Nathaniel B. Shurtleff, Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England (Boston: William White, 1853), 1:196;
Joseph H. Smith, ed., Colonial Justice in Western Massachusetts (1639-1702):
James B. Whisker, Arms Makers of Colonial America(Selinsgrove, Penn.: Susquehanna University Press, 1992), 16.
|Timothy Williams, New York Times: States Pitch a Lifestyle to Lure Gun Makers From Their Longtime Homes, 8/10/2011, available online at https://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/10/us/10guns.html?pagewanted=all
Firearms Microstamping Feasible but Variable, Study Finds,
5/13/2008, available online at
Opposition To Firearms Microstamping Grows In New York
Amid Concerns Of Expense, Lost Jobs And Results Of Independent
Testing, 6/15/10, TheStreet.com, available online at
Dramatic Price Increases and Reduction in Supply ,
1/23/2009, National Shooting Sports Federation, available online
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Freedom, Policing, & Governing
The police are the people, the citizenry. They are not a military force, and to the extent an individual or department forgets that, they are deserving of every bit of contempt that may be summoned - and more.
- Sir Robert Peel, founder of modern policing (1788-1850)
The core principals Peel advocated focused on accountability, ensuring that the police are not simply arresting job-lots to make quota, and the accountability of the police to the public - not authority.
That, in other words, police are (or should be) officers of the peace rather than enforcers of unlawful or unconstitutional laws and orders, and that they should not be so inflated by their authority as to believe themselves any more special than any other member of the public.
- Every police officer should be issued a identification number, to assure accountability for his actions.
- Whether the police are effective is not measured on the number of arrests, but on the lack of crime.
- Above all else, an effective authority figure knows trust and accountability are paramount.
And some few of us worry that, ultimately, policing (and officer safety) depends upon the support and cooperation of the public of which said law enforcement officers and organizations are *members*, and - if pushed far enough - support may be withdrawn at much more than a mere budgetary level.
The final guarantee, that I think that the very same "some few of us" hope never to see in our lifetimes, rests on what Roadkill refers to - that, sooner or later, the most officer-safety oriented officer needs to go home - assuming someone will sell or rent to an officer of a department or organization held in vast contempt. And a landlord can *always* find an acceptable reason to refuse to rent if they are sufficiently motivated.
That officers have loved ones, and that when that most dreadful of lines is crossed, they become in the eyes of the angry legitimate proxy targets (thankfully, it's been a very long time since we've seen much of this in the United States...but it doesn't take a terribly deep gaze abroad to find places where this occurs).
When 500 bars in Michigan are now refusing service to elected officials in protest of a smoking ban..is it such a stretch to believe similar hostility might not be shown to other organizations held in vast contempt?
This is not a place I want to see my country go, as I believe it is at best hazardous to the freedoms we hold dear and places both officers and citizens at risk of harm to persons and property. A police department viewed as an occupying force is neither a good thing, likely to endure, or likely to be effective.
I view such a course of events with all the enthusiasm I would have for a civil war or a barbed wire enema. Filled with badness, pain, and suffering with very little hope of any improvement.
I do not believe things have reached the state where things would go that far south. But with the rash of recent incidents that breed contempt for both the law and its enforcers, we come ever closer to that unhappy day.
If we don't want to see that day (or a great many other possible bad days available), we need to get involved. We need to ask inconvenient questions. We can no longer stand aside and assume that all is well.
We must support our friends in law enforcement that ARE paragons of Peelian principles, gentleman and ladies of the badge possessed of ethics and morals. I continue to believe that they and like-minded folks represent the majority of those in law enforcement, but it only takes a small minority screwing up with sufficient vigor to bring on the stupid we'd all like to avoid.
And it appears that it is time for another great swell of reform to purge the petty tyrants and thugs from our law enforcement organizations and elected office - ideally a purge accomplished by judicial and electoral means.
That discussion, ladies and gentleman, was the foundation of the recent great hooraw on GBC - and it is one we vitally need to have with each other online and off. And I believe it is that which RK addresses, and which I try and come at from a different direction.
In short, a plea for common sense - that we REALLY don't want to see our nation go there, and are worried we may have idiots dancing on the cliffs edge about to pull the rest of us over with them.
Friday, August 26, 2011
New Blogroll Link
I'd like to welcome Roadkill to the blogroll, and hope that his blogging is more frequent and expands to include his offbeat irreverence and odd humor, in addition to his current largely factual postings.
It's a bummer, but there it is. :(