Monday, October 31, 2011

Seattle Parks Ban, Strike II

Some of you will note that things have been a bit quiet on the "Seattle Parks Ban" front for some time now, what with that case being in appeals for a bit after the initial victory.

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"

Just back from a Barnes & Noble and my weekend "quiet time", sitting and reading over iced coffee (for a little bit longer...then it'll be hot coffee). It being a weekend, and in Washington, and just at that point between too warm for a jacket and too cool to do without - I'd said "screw it" and opted for DGAD (Don't Give A Damn) carry.

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...

  • Gay_Cynic: Beyond direct hires, the only way .gov *can* make jobs boils down to "getting out of the way" and a group crossing of fingers (group hug following strictly optional).

    It's a bummer, but there it is. :(
    5:13pm (2 hours ago) ·

  • 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!
    7:13pm (13 minutes ago)

  • 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.
    7:20pm (6 minutes ago) ·

  • 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?

There's a big stink on Fox as to why Media Matters remains a tax-exempt (501(c)3) organization seeing as they've "declared war" on Fox. The answer really isn't that complex, and I think it's fair to say Fox's coverage of this is a tad artful...but then again, Media Matters *has* declared war on Fox.

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) 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.