Thursday, December 27, 2012

Open Letter to Both Houses of Congress

Please vote "no" on any so called "assault weapons" ban.

Anti-gun advocates are pushing hard in the heat of the moment to rush through legislation that violates the intent of the Second Amendment.  In their zeal to take advantage of any crisis, they seek to consolidate ever more power in Washington and eliminate perhaps the most important check on Federal abuse in the Constitution -- that being private citizens retaining the power to abolish a government that becomes too tyrannical.  The Federal Government was not formed to grant and revoke rights, it was formed to protect our God-Given rights.
"... to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
The Second Amendment is, as are all of the standing amendments, a part of the Constitution.  It can be revoked, but only by the Constitutional Amendment process.  I don't see anybody moving in that direction.  The movement is in the direction of what the Constitution, via the second amendment, specifically prohibits.
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
It does have an introductory clause, but that clause does not change the meaning of the declarative portion of the wording, which is " the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." 

It doesn't just protect our right to keep them.  It protects our right to carry (bear) them.  And that right -- protected as a directive to the Federal Government as to what it specifically cannot do ... SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.

What part of SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED do these people not understand?
1.Actively break the terms of (a law, agreement, etc.)
2.Act so as to limit or undermine (something); encroach on
The first definition applies in that to actively break the Natural Law that gives us the right would be an infringement.  But the second definition is the definition that most people think of ... to "act so as to limit or undermine".  So the Federal Government cannot act so as to limit or undermine the right of the people to keep and bear arms.  That's what it says.

It doesn't say it "shall not be infringed" "unless", or "until", or "as long as", or "but only if"...

It doesn't mention hunting.  It doesn't mention sport shooting.  It mentions security of a free state, though.  That bit was apparently far more important.

If we want to address mass murders, let's address mass murderers.  Let's also address the gun-free zones that enable them.   Let's not break the Constitution by infringing on the right of millions of law abiding citizens.

Your job in Washington is an important one.  It is not, primarily, to make laws.  It is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

Crossposted at RottenChestnuts.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Steyn on the Sandy Hook Murderer

Prescient, as always:
"..the infanticidal maniac of Sandy Hook was merely conscripting grade-school extras for a hollow act of public suicide. Like most mass shootings, his was an exercise in hyper-narcissism – 19th century technology in the service of a very contemporary sensibility."

The rest of it is good as well. RTWT

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Rotten Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

Hey, folks, this is a time of year when my blog posts typically slow down anyway, because, frankly, there are important things to be done this time of year that involve doing things for and being with family and friends and appreciating more what you have and griping less about it all going down the tubes.

That being said, there's a new blog in town.   Severian, Morgan, Cylarz, and I have banded together as a sort of Four Musketeers to create a joint blog, by, as jeffmon says, "fellow travelers", by fellow travelers.

Come visit us at

From our "About Us" page:

The Free Online Dictionary defines “chestnut” as “An old, frequently repeated joke, story, or song.”  Miriam Webster calls it “something (as a musical piece or a saying) repeated to the point of staleness.”

Put simply, chestnuts are those things “everybody knows.” For instance, “everybody knows” that Republicans hate women, that revenues go up as taxes go up, that Sarah Palin’s an idiot, that George W. Bush hates black people, that “corporate personhood” is some kind of evil Wall Street scam, that the “Palestinian peace process” exists (and when it breaks down, it’s all Israel’s fault).

Put bluntly, chestnuts are what people believe when they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

At Rotten Chestnuts we aim, in our own small way, to change that. To educate. To inform. To praise the praiseworthy and mock the mockable. To entertain, and — dare we hope? — to inspire.

If you’re tired of being labeled ignorant, or a “hater,” or simply uncool for using the brains God gave you to examine the world, then this is a site for you.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Echoes of Gunfire

An echoposter posted this cartoon on facebook in the wake of the Sandy Hook murders.  This was an exercise in echostopping ... and I think it was effective.  But I think it is ripe for analysis.  One thing that struck me ... this other commenter (echoer) is not concerned at all with actually arguing a point.  Again and again, he completely avoids it.  I know they tend to short-circuit actual discussion and try to pre-empt it, but I was completely blown away by this guy's pit-bull like grip on the tactic.  He had nothing else.

What really blew me away -- and probably shouldn't have, was that this was personal to him.  It was about him, "beating" me in an argument.  If I present a supporting argument from someone else, it doesn't count.  He's not arguing with that guy.  He's arguing with meTruth?  Doesn't matter.

update:  initial reports I read sounded like he left the rifle in the trunk and only used handguns.  A more recent report says he used his .223 rifle as well.

philmon Could it be that there were no tyrants overthrown because they knew they shouldn't bother to try? 2nd Amendment Mission #1 accomplished.

There are no "solutions" in life. Only tradeoffs.

echoposter Ill gladly trade some reasonable restrictions on firearm sale, ownership and possession for the murder rate in the rest of the civilized world.

philmon "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. " - Ben Franklin

We already have reasonable restrictions on firearms sales.

And of course, murder rates depend on how you count them, and different countries count them differently. And there are other ways to murder. Just because someone didn't use a gun doesn't make it any less a murder.

Half of our murder rate is gang on gang. These people aren't stopped by laws saying what they can and can't do. These people aren't obeying current drug laws, robbery laws, drug laws, gun purchasing laws ... why would anyone think they follow additional gun laws?

And these mass murders by crazy people? Always happen in "gun free" zones. Why? They know they will meet no deadly force, and it's pretty much all about the psychological power trip for them.

Arm teachers. Israel does it. Works pretty well. Encourage conceal and carry.

echoposter Since people break laws, should we therefore have no laws? Or do we simply need better laws?

echoer "The Tree of Liberty must be frequently watered with the blood of Patriots and Kindergarteners." Thanks for the rhetoric.

echoer The solution to obesity deaths is to eat more food. The solution to alcohol related deaths is to drink more alcohol. The solution to gun deaths is more guns. Someday everyone will realize how empty and pointless that argument really is.

echoer I am sure Ben Franklin could conceive of the day when any lunatic could arm himself for war and then go slaughter 20 children as they sat in a classroom two weeks before Christmas Eve. But I suppose if that's the cornerstone if your argument, then good luck to you....

echoer ...and again, thanks for the rhetoric.

philmon If by "better" laws you mean further restricting the essential liberties of law-abiding citizens with perhaps noble intent but to no further end, then no, absolutely not.

I would think that what Ben Franklin couldn't envision is one in which law abiding citizens would be deprived of options for defending against lunatics -- and lunatics we have always had. There was nothing in 1776 that would stop a man from going into a school and shooting 20 children. But it didn't happen to my knowledge.

But today's perhaps well-meaning gun laws let a person so inclined KNOW that the likelihood of him being able to accomplish his mission before he meets any life-threatening resistance is essentially zilch.

Of course, Ben Franklin's quote, while it carries a good deal of truth is not the cornerstone of my argument, because it isn't an argument, it's a statement which distills the truth of the larger argument behind it. The larger argument behind it doesn't have a lot of feel-good-ism to it, but it is the cold truth and it must be considered.

I can't put it any better than Bill Whittle put it years ago. It's not sexy. It won't fit on a bumpersticker. But here it is.

"This, to my mind, is the fundamental difference between the Europeans and the U.S.: We trust the people. We fought wars and lost untold husbands and brothers and sons because of this single most basic belief: Trust the people. Trust them with freedom. Trust them to spend their own money. Trust them to do the right thing. Trust them to defend themselves. To the degree that government can help, great -- but TRUST THE PEOPLE.

We as a nation suffer an appalling number of handgun-related deaths each year -- perhaps 11,000 of them. The number is not important; each is a personal tragedy and those lives can never be replaced.

If we attempt to reduce this horrible number by banning handguns, we are taking away the property of a person who has broken no laws, by a government whose legitimacy is determined by a document that specifically allows that property, namely guns.

Destroy that trust by punishing the innocent, by pulling a plank from the Bill of Rights, and the contract between the government and the people falls apart. Once the Second Amendment goes, the First will soon follow, because if some unelected elite determines that the people can't be trusted with dangerous guns, then it's just a matter of time until they decide they can't be trusted with dangerous ideas, either. Dangerous ideas have killed many millions more people than dangerous handguns -- listen to the voices from the Gulag, the death camps, and all the blood-soaked killing fields through history.

The Framers, in their wisdom, put the 2nd Amendment there to give teeth to the revolutionary, unheard-of idea that the power rests with We The People. They did not depend on good will or promises. They made sure that when push came to shove, we'd be the ones doing the pushing and shoving, not the folks in Washington. And by the way, gun rights supporters are frequently mocked when they say it deters foreign invasion -- after all, come on, grow up, be realistic: Who's nuts enough to invade America? Exactly. It's unthinkable. Good. 2nd Amendment Mission 1 accomplished.

But back to the undeniable domestic cost: when confronted with the idea of banning handguns to reduce this horrible toll, many handgun defenders are tempted to point to the numbers killed on the highways each year -- perhaps four times that number -- and ask why we don't ban cars as well.

The logical response is that bans on travel -- cars, airplanes, etc. -- are a false analogy compared to banning guns, because cars have a clear benefit while guns don't do anything other than kill what they are aimed at.

While that is exactly true, I think it misses the point, which to me is simply this: we'd never ban automobile travel to avoid thousands of highway deaths. It's clearly not worth it in both economic and personal freedom terms. We choose, reluctantly, and with many a lost loved one in mind, to keep on driving.

Here is my dry-eyed, cold-hearted, sad conclusion: I believe that the freedom, convenience and economic viability provided

by the automobile is worth the 40,000 lives we lose to automotive deaths each year -- a number made more horrible by the fact that perhaps 40% are related to drunk driving and are therefore preventable.

By the same calculation, I accept that the freedoms entrusted to the people of the United States are worth the 11,000 lives we lose to gun violence each year.

I wish I could make both those numbers go away. I will support any reasonable campaign to make them as low as possible.

But understand this: 11,000 handgun deaths a year, over four years is very roughly 50,000 killed. In Nazi Germany, an unarmed population was unable to resist the abduction and murder of 6,000,000 people in a similar period: a number 120 times higher. Throw in the midnight murders of the Soviets, the Chinese, the various and sundry African and South American genocides and purges and political assassinations and that number grows to many hundreds, if not several thousand times more killings in unarmed populations.

Visualize this to fully appreciate the point. Imagine the Superbowl. Every player on the field is a handgun victim. All the people in the stands are the victims who were unable to resist with handguns. Those are historical facts. "

echoer Wow. I've never felt so persuaded! Thanks philmon! That dry-eyed, cold-hearted, sad conclusion is exactly what the nation needs on this particular Sunday morning.

echoer PS, Where did you get your awesome book of quotes?

philmon Yes, because shallow, dismissive sarcasm is surely the solution to serious problems.

philmon And "book" of quotes? Depends on the quote.

It's simple.

I read.

A lot.

echoer No, shallow dismissive sarcasm is surely the solution to smug, self-important people who are ready to condescend to others while patting themselves on the back for their erudition. I use it. A lot.

echoer And you started it, so nyaaah.

echoposter We have to play nice

echoer echoposter is right. Peace, philmon.

echoer By the way, here is a link to the names, faces, and life stories (some of the stories aren't very long, you'll be astonished to learn) of some of the most recent 11000 or so people you don't mind sacrificing for your 'liberty.'  (posts link to story about victims)

philmon Where?

And any particular part of the "rhetoric" you have a specific challenge to? Or is this just more, "if I can label it, I can dismiss it"?

echoer Or don't read it, I really don't care.

echoer "if I can label it, I can dismiss it"? Like you did with sarcasm a bit earlier? Hoisted by one's own petard, eh? One last point I would make--your willingness to sacrifice 11000 lives or more through gun violence: Do those sacrifices include the people in your photo albums? To the ones whose pictures are in your wallet? Would that sacrifice include echoposter and his family? Or me and mine? Anybody but you and yours? Are you really defending an ideal, or just your own hide?

echoposter We don't ban automobile travel. I haven't heard anyone suggest banning handguns, either. We regulate automobiles. You have to be old enough. You have to prove your understanding of relevant law. You have to demonstrate competence. You have to carry insurance to protect the interests of others, should something go wrong. You have to register your ownership. You have to have a license. None of these are giant hurdles. The huge majority of Americans over 16 possess an operator's license and own or have convenient access to automobiles, despite all those regulations.

echoposter As far as drug laws, I'm generally inclined to legalize at least marijuana and cocaine. I think laws banning those drugs are as ineffective and destructive as prohibition was 90 years ago. Bad laws are those that are difficult and expensive to enforce, to which people are largely non-compliant. People do speed, but most people don't commit egregious violations. And police don't often write tickets for 63 mph in a 55 mph zone.

philmon Well echoer, your sarcasm addressed nothing that was said, and added nothing to the conversation other than an attempt to dismiss any argument without addressing it. But since you don't care to read the other side of arguments anyway, I suppose you suffer from willful ignorance.

If you think for a second that I haven't seen the faces and names of the kids and the quick thinking young teacher and felt deep pangs of sorrow sympathy for them and their families, you're sorely mistaken. I find it extremely disturbing as any mentally healthy human being would. If you think I'm "dismissing" their deaths, you've missed the point. But of course you've missed the point because you don't bother to read something you have decided ahead of time you disagree with.

Life isn't a bumper sticker. There is evil in the world. Always has been. Always will be. There are things we can do to mitigate a lot of its effects, but each remedy comes with a cost, and many remedies merely shift the cost to things that are harder to connect. There are people who have studied and thought long and hard about these things. And many of them disagree with your opinion and have thoughtful arguments as to why they believe what they do.

So far, all I've seen from you is ridicule and derision. These tools are used to avoid engaging in any sort of meaningful discussion - in fact, they are typically used to pre-empt any discussion whatsoever.

echoposter is smarter than that. We disagree on lots of stuff, but at least he has actual concrete ideas.

philmon If you haven't heard of anyone suggesting we ban handguns, you should pay more attention. Short of banning them, however, we've made it nearly impossible, certainly completely impractical, for any law-abiding citizen to legally carry one through the course of a normal day due to restrictions on where you can and can't (legally) have one on you. On the other hand, criminals do not care whether or not they can legally carry one wherever they want to carry one. So all you end up doing is leaving the law-abiding citizen unarmed making the criminal's monopoly on force all but certain. The criminals are very aware of this, and use it to their advantage.

Before buying each firearm I own, whether at a store or at a gun show, I am subject to a criminal background check, which I pass with flying colors every time. I'm all for that, and we have it. (Criminals have no compunction to obtaining firearms illegally, though).

I actually wouldn't mind, in fact, I'd be in strong favor of general firearm safety and the laws concerning their legal use being taught to everyone whether you ever own one or not, because this *is*, in fact, serious business. I have taken such courses. I do prefer that the law treat us as responsible adults, and expect responsible behavior in return.

Nonetheless, some will be irresponsible, and the most effective way of dealing with them is to have responsible adults on the premises deal with their threats in real time, since the police can't be everywhere.

So we agree on education. There!

Sounds like we agree on drug laws in general as well.

To severely curtail these mass shootings at schools, I would encourage the arming of teachers. I know people in this day and age recoil at the idea -- "a gun in the school" ... but the gun won't leap out of the teacher's holster and start shooting people. Do you believe teachers love the kids they teach? I do. Look at Vicki Soto.

Now imagine how different things would likely have been if Vicki had had a 9mm glock on her.

Imagine if the killer who went there to basically shoot fish in a barrel had known that a lot of teachers were armed.

He likely never would have shown up. It would have ruined the power trip. But if he did show up and find Vicki Soto in an empty classroom where she had hidden the kids in lockers looking down the sights of her sidearm at him - his spree would not have lasted as long as it did. It would shut it down as no law ever could. And Ms. Soto might be alive today. She would at least have had a fighting chance.

Licensing and registration ... these are contentious mainly because once such lists are made, they are invariably used down the road to disarm citizens, which removes an essential liberty and a plank in the balance of power. For the reasons Mr. Whittle laid out above, I'm against it. But education? Education I'm all for.

echoer Thanks philmon. The slaughter of innnocents revolts me, and people who write them off as 'unfortunate statistics" fill me with disgust. Arming teachers is a stupid idea--most rational people I know abhor the idea of guns around their children. Israel does not do it. Some Israeli teachers may carry arms, but the nation does not do it. But you're right--maybe if an armed teacher had been able to intercede, then there would have been 12? 10? What number of children would you find acceptable?

echoer Any citation of the numbers of people killed by automobiles is a false equivalency. I didn't bring it up; you did.

echoer At no time did I turn this into a discussion of handguns; you did.

echoer And comparing handgun deaths in this country to the slaughter of the Holocaust is the stupidest thing you have said today.

echoer Right after your cool Superbowl analogy.

echoer This nut walked into a schoolhouse and shot 26 people. Most of them were shot between six and eleven times.

And he did it in seconds. If you think all is right with the world and that your 'sound reasoning' passes for meaningful discussion, then I guess that's your little red wagon.

echoer You may respond if you wish, but I am finished here. Good night.

philmon Ok. I don't recall anyone saying all is right with the world ... as a matter of fact, I specifically recall saying that all will never be right with the world, and that there are tradeoffs to any mitigation you wish to try which must be considered.

No number of dead children is acceptable. 12 is better than 28, I hope you would agree. But there they will be regardless of whatever well-meaning legislation you pass, making it still more certain that children will be unprotected, and make attractive targets for disturbed individuals looking for a body count.

The holocaust occurred in an unarmed population, as did the rest of the cited mass murders of millions, even 10s of millions of people. It's completely relevant. As a matter of fact, it is of utmost importance. There lie the bodies of 11,000 people in a ditch in an armed society. There lie tens of millions of bodies in an unarmed one. Your choice isn't 28 or zero. It would be awesome if it were, but it is not.

The arguments against handguns are basically the same as the arguments against any firearms. Bill happened to be talking about handguns, but the principles still apply.

Especially since our recent shooter used .... not "assault rifles" .... but ...handguns. Also completely relevant.

But hey, kudos for at least going back and reading it. I'm proud of you.

philmon Heh, as to where I "started" the dismissive sarcasm ... I think perhaps you and I have a different understanding of the meaning of the word "started". I addressed your dismissive sarcasm with dismissive sarcasm. Tit for tat, I suppose.

I see that echoer thinks my arguments are "stupid", but makes no attempt at addressing how -- I suppose because he, as he said, doesn't bother to read them, and then -- that isn't enough, he makes up "my" arguments and derides them. ("The Tree of Liberty must be frequently watered with the blood of Patriots and Kindergarteners." WTH? I missed that little gem.)

This is the state of political discourse in the country today. "I'm right and you're stupid."

Damn. We have a lot of work to do.

philmon One also wonders what echoer's stance on spending more money to get out of debt would be given his aversion to counter-intuitive propositions. But I can wager a good guess.

Of course, the bottom line is spending more money doesn't deter more spending, more alcohol doesn't deter more drinking, more food doesn't deter more eating ... but more guns in the population does deter the illegitimate use of them.

echoer I owe you a sincere apology. Upon careful perusal of your earlier posts, I see that the one in which you made your points didn't contain any original thoughts. I thought that the first paragraph after you introduced someone named Bill Whittle was the entirety of Mr. Whittle's remarks, and that the rest were your original contribution to the discussion. Turns out--I was wrong. The REST of the post is also a cut and paste job. It seems that my sarcasm should be directed at somebody named Whittle. It wasn't your supercool Superbowl analogy, or your silly and stupid comparison to the Holocaust (the cliche of all political discussion), nor was it your false automobile equivalency--those arguments are all someone else's. You aren't the one who is wrong--Bill Whittle is! I'll try harder next time.

echoer Nitey nite!

philmon Yes, everything after I introduced Bill was, indeed, Bill Whittle's words.

The fact that they were not my words, or as you say, "any original thoughts" does not negate the fact that they are, in fact, thoughts, and thoughts with which I agree. Again, you merely attempt to dismiss them by deriding them as "unoriginal".

And it's clear you think that the parallel between murders by gun and automobile deaths is "false" ... but "false" is a declaration, not an argument. You'll have to back that up to actually make an argument.

My guess ... and I admit it's a guess, but I'm pretty sure of it, is that you think it is "false" because automobiles provide a benefit to society, while guns do not. Even if that were true, though, the fact remains that 40,000 people die as a result of automobiles every year, and they are just as innocent and just as dead as those 11,000 killed by guns. And you're apparently groovy with that, since you think I'm groovy with the 11,000 gun victims and you're not for banning cars.

Where we disagree is over the benefit of personal weapons to a society where the people have the power to fight back, whether against a criminal or to deter tyrants.

Your "argument"?

It's "false". I've presented lots of original thought here. You? Contempt, derision, slander ... just about everything except anything like an argument ... and especially no proposed remedies.

But we do know, thanks to you, that mine, are, as you say, "stupid".

echoer No, not yours--they are Bill Whittle's stupid thoughts.

echoer You want remedies? Let's talk about mental health issues. Let's talk about the gun fetish. Let's talk about the Golden Calf that no one want to discuss. Let's talk about responsible gun ownership. Let's talk about reasonable laws that keep guns out of the hands of people that are too unstable to have access to firearms. Let's talk about why this happened, instead of What If or If Only scenarios. I would be happy to share, but not with Bill Whittle. Or anyone else for that matter.

philmon The original source may be different, but your "argument" remains the same.

echoer Yes, and my beef's with Bill Whittle, not philmon.

philmon You mean "if only" scenarios like "if only we could keep guns out of the hands of people that are too unstable to have access to firearms"?

I see you're willing to "talk about" a lot of things ... but still no actual ideas about WHAT to do and how it would be effective. But only with people you agree with.

philmon And to consider the unintended consequences.

echoer You're right, philmon. You win, philmon. The undisputed master of the debate, philmon. Bye, philmon.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Missing Something

A friend posted a quote and a link to a Jack Shakley opinion piece in the LA Times.
In February 2003, 450 economists, including 10 of the 24 living Nobel laureates in economics, made a public plea to President George W. Bush not to enact the recent tax cuts passed by Congress. [..]

In the nearly 10 years that have elapsed since that plea, the budget deficit has ballooned, the gap between the wealthy and the middle class has expanded, and the American economy has spiraled into the greatest decline since the Depression. History has proved the 450 economists were correct. On Dec. 31, these same Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire. This, we are told in hushed or hysterical tones, could push the American economy off a "fiscal cliff."

Am I missing something here? Can letting a failed tax policy die be such a bad thing?
Ignoring the huge non sequitur that 1) the tax cuts were implemented and 2) all this bad stuff happened, that 3) the bad stuff happened because the tax cuts were implemented, because a big sounding number of economists including 10/24 sooper smart people said it would (does anyone wonder what the other 14/24 thought?), I said ... yeah, you are missing something.

Something like any sort of balancing opinion.

So I linked that day's Thomas Sowell column on the subject, in which he directs us to look at the Obama Administration's own economic report as well as a New York Times headline from after the tax cuts were passed expressing surprise at increased tax revenue from corporations and "the rich".

To which a friend of that friend thoughtfully countered Sowell's argument and evidence with the brilliant argument, and I quote, "Thomas Sowell is a shill".

He followed that with something very close to (I later embarrassed him into deleting his own comments, so I'm not sure how word-for-word this is ...) "and before you go spouting off about the founders, let's remember they crapped in buckets, owned slaves, and wore satin pants and powdered wigs. But times change, don't they?"

I did politely hit him back exposing his puffery knee-jerk stink bomb throwing, which apparently eventually embarrassed him into deleting those comments. Hey. Progress. They CAN be made to feel sheepish about their rude and thoughtless puffery.
Sowell is a shill, eh? There's a deep and thoughtful assessment, Jim. So, can you tell me exactly where you think the "shill's" argument ran off the rails and why, or, as I suspect is more likely true, that it is your attempt to pre-empt any sort of thoughtful discussion by dismissing an opinion you don't like with a quick ad hominem?

The Republicans who lost "big time" still hold a solid majority in the House, and they are there to represent the people who voted for them. I'm pretty sure no Republicans ran on increasing taxes or increasing spending, so I'm going to assume people didn't vote for them to do that. By pushing back, they are doing their jobs. And I'm pretty sure none of them own slaves (since they are of the party that was formed specifically in opposition to it, ended it, got the 14th amendment passed, elected the first several black congressmen, and got the civil rights legislation through the 1950's and 1960's passed, all on the principles of equal treatment under the law that those bucket-crapping, slave owners framed in the Constitution) .... and I'm also pretty sure none of them crap in buckets or wear powdered wigs.
Now, I told you that story to tell you this one.

The "founders were slave-owners" tack is a common one. The bucket crapping, satin-pantsed powdered-wig wearers ... well, I gotta admit that was a new one on me. But this was clearly shut-uppery, which thanks to Andrew Klavan, I don't fall for anymore. I really do think this guy thought had the last "sane" word on the subject, and that if I did pick up the mantle of the founders, it would be met by the ridicule of all onlookers.

Don't back down, and don't let them have their red meat. What I did was mock his shallow attack. I called him out on it and exposed his attack for what it was. I did limit it, though, and I'm going to go on a bit here with some thoughts for future trips down the road this guy tried to take it.

As far as times changing ... yes, they indeed do. But human nature does not. We still have the same basic weaknesses. We want to get the most for the least amount of effort. It's the basis of all economics, and anything that doesn't recognize this as a central fact to be dealt with is doomed to failure, and doomed to cause more problems than it seeks to overcome.

We want a better life for our kids. We want to share our happiness with our families and our friends. The more noble of us also want to share it with strangers, and we do through our churches, community aid centers, our pet charities ... and sometimes on our own, person to person.

If you read the arguments surrounding the birth of our Constitution -- and I recommend it highly -- for without them the Constitution is indeed vague in places if you don't understand the frame of mind they were in -- it is very clear that the Founders understood human nature and its fundamental weaknesses from wanting something for nothing to it's ultimate manifestation in those who gain power ... power corrupts. The government was limited not because they wanted people to do

whatever the hell they wanted, but because they knew what happens when you give people the power to dictate to others what they will and won't do. It's far worse than allowing sinners to sin outside of basic, natural law. These guys, though they may have crapped in buckets, knew their sh*t. They were far more well-read than your average mouthy pundit or blogger (on the left or the right, sadly, though I do think the right probably has a bit of a lead in at least reading the Constitution and maybe the Federalist Papers). I'll still go ahead and say it. They were far better read than I am, though I have read a lot in the past 9 years.

So here's a rule we need to try to live up to as best we can when we go to Stop Echoes -- expose rotten chestnuts for what they are -- know your sh*t. Don't wander into unfamiliar territory and spout things you think are facts as facts. But when you have your facts, I'll tell you those Alinsky rules for radicals are very easy to turn on these people.

These three are particularly useful to turn on them

#1) “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.”

The thing here is, the enemy thinks you're an uniformed idiot, and that they have a monopoly on truth. When you show that you are not, it shakes them up. What they'll likely do at this point is dismiss with an ad hominem on your source, or they'll move the goal posts ... shift the argument to a new subject. It's good to bring them back to the point that made them uncomfortable in the first place and make them sweat a little bit more before you decide whether or not you want to aim at their new goalposts.

#2 “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone.

In this case, "your people" is you. Don't spout off stuff as fact things you only think you know and can't back up. This is good advice for anyone from Mr. Alinsky.

#3 “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.

Oh yes. Well there are some better-read leftists, and you do have to size up your opponent. But chances are, at our level, they're just spouting off opinion and misinformation they read on HuffPo or in the MSM somewhere. They don't know jack about the Constitution or the principles that produced it, and what's good about it. And most of them have never read Alinsky, either ;-) At this point, we know our sh*t better than they do, even about some of their own people.

Easily verifiable facts make them squirm. And while that can be fun when arguing with a real a**, remember the main objective of Stop an Echo ... you're really not trying to change their mind. You're publicly challenging the leftist point of view in front of bystanders. If they're watching this guy squirm, his words will carry much less weight.

I recommend not getting nasty in public, either. When you do, unless everyone can see the guy is a real a**, your words carry much less weight.

And finally, on to that slave-owner thing.

It's not like the Founders invented slavery. Many were abolitionists. The slave-owners themselves were born into being slave owners. They didn't just wake up one day and say "hey, I think I'll import some slaves". Jefferson himself tried at least three times during his political career to try to restrict or abolish it. In his original draft of the Declaration of Independence, he pretty much let the King have it on the whole institution of slavery -- and they created the Constitution that put the country directly at odds with the whole idea.

They even tried to restrict it, with an eye toward abolition, TWICE, in the Constitution. One is the oft-cited 3/5ths clause, which leftists love to bring up when trying to discredit the Constitution. They only considered blacks to be 3/5ths of a person, man!!!!! Racists!!!! Uh... no.

The slave states wanted to count their slaves as 5/5ths, or one -- person -- oh yes, they did. Why was this? Not because they thought their slaves were people. They wanted them counted as a part of the population, because representation in Congress was determined in proportion to population. That's right. They wanted the additional weight of the slave population to increase their representation in Congress ... and do you think that representation was going to be used in the interests of the slaves?

Absolutely not.

The 3/5ths compromise was put in ... by the abolitionists ... to water down this effect. The abolitionists didn't want slaves to count as a part of the population being represented, because their interests wouldn't be represented.

Incidentally, the only race mentioned in the Constitution is American Indians, and even that was not brought up in a racial context, but a national context -- the Indian Nations. Slave was a legal status. Africans were not the only people enslaved by others over the course of history. There were some free blacks (who could vote!) and there were probably even a few white slaves in America at various points. Slavery had been around for far longer than written history. Our country was created less than 100 years before its ultimate demise, and the ideas the Constitution was based upon had a lot to do with that.

But hey, man, they crapped in buckets and wore powdered wigs. So we can dismiss anything they had to say.

The other is that in the Constitution, it was written that the importation of slaves was to cease. Now this wasn't abolition. But it was done in the hope that slavery would eventually die as an institution. Like I said, they were born into a slave-owning society. As they put together documents outlining a philosophy that said that "all men are created equal" ... it dawned on them that the institution of slavery was diametrically opposed to these ideals. It is very easy for us to sit back and criticize these men, and they certainly deserve some for that. But I think that only underscores the fact that men are weak, and that power corrupts. These men were imperfect, but they had high principles that in their time they were not living up to. What they poured into the documents that founded the Republic.

That stuff is gold.

Read it. Know it. Love it. Teach it.

Crossposted at Rotten Chestnuts

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Nah, Don't Fire Bob Costas

Last weekend the wife, reading the paper, told me about another murder-suicide.

Every time I hear about one of them, I always think they got it backwards.   If life is really that bad and they're bent on offing themselves, they should just start with themselves and they'll never know the difference.  This way the people they thought it would be cool to take out with them are free to decide for themselves what they'd like to do with the rest of their lives.

I know, they've typically got some deep seeded mind parasite, as Gagdad Bob calls them.  I get that, too. But tragic death of innocents always gets under my skin.

The space shuttle tragedies, 9/11, Lockerbie ... even the Titanic.... all of these things have caused real sleepless nights for me at various points in my life.

I saw the headlines about some Costas on-air anti-gun rant and didn't connect it to the KC murder-sucicide until after I finally went and read the rant.  I saw calls for his firing.  My position is, let's not be them.   They're the ones who always want people fired for saying things they disagree with.   To the point that there is a double-standard on the left, I get that.  But if that's your point, make sure you say that.   Whether or not Costas keeps his job is completely up to his employer.  And I think his employer generally agrees with him.  May have even encouraged him.  That's their call.  Free country.  Free press.

But that doesn't mean I can't criticize.  ( Personally, I wish he'd stop coloring his hair. He looks ridiculous.)

The meat of Costas' rant wasn't actually written by Costas ... he was quoting another sports journalist, a Jason Whitlock who wrote:
"Our current gun culture ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead."
Now I don't know what "gun culture" Whitlock was talking about for sure.  I'm pretty sure I know what Costas and NBC mean.

But in our "multicultural culture" (see things I know #5) ... there's more than one culture.  And there's more than one gun culture.

Severian pointed out in his last post, while making an unrelated point to mine, said:
I’ll actually grant Costas his precious “gun culture” as a way of piling on Ace’s second point.  Unlike Bob Costas, who probably doesn’t know a single person who has ever seen a gun except on tv, I grew up in the South and am comfortable asserting that yes, there is a “gun culture,” full of “gun nuts” who want an AK-47 in exactly the same way I want a vintage ’65 Mustang convertible, and for the same reason — in the social circles we travel in, these things carry cachet far beyond their dubious practical value.

And yes, that sometimes leads to people saying  –and doing– stupid things in defense of their preferences. And yes, that occasionally has bad consequences.
There is another gun culture, and it’s not the same one that wants an AK like they want a ’65 Mustang. Because those boys? Those boys don’t talk about bus’in’ caps and then go out and do it. They’re not the ones leaving teenagers bloodied and dead.

No, the culture those boys live in teach that killing outside of self-defense. Not all of them live up to that teaching (murders occur in every culture, guns or no guns), but the vast, vast majority of them do live up to it and would never consider doing otherwise. They certainly don’t have a genre of music practically dedicated to violence, murder, and mayhem.(murders occur in every culture, guns or no guns), but the vast, vast majority of them do live up to it and would never consider doing otherwise. They certainly don’t have a genre of music practically dedicated to violence, murder, and mayhem.

I don’t follow professional sports these days outside of the Baseball Cardinals, and even then just barely. I’d never heard of Jovon Belcher until … well, until I read about Costas’ rant. I did hear about the murder when my wife read about it in the paper. Point is, I don’t think he’s a part of the “gun culture” gun control advocates speak of when they give their disparaging speals. You know, the kind that go to gun shows, rifle ranges, like to blow up milk cartons full of water or knock cans off of fenceposts.

That culture is the heir to the culture that forged this nation. It is a culture that values self-reliance and personal responsibility.

I know. A lefty reads this, and they’re going to go all “you mean WHITE culture. Dead White Men!”

But unlike them, I do not conflate race with culture, biology with ideas and ideals.
And I do not think all cultures are equal.

They are all imperfect, but that doesn’t mean that some aren’t superior to others. No, I don’t think one should be forced upon others. But there are merits and demerits, and by their fruits you will know them.

There is probably no better response to Costas' rant ... than Bill Whittle's essay, FREEDOM.

To see basically the same thing in video form, see "What We Believe - Gun Rights".