Friday, April 25, 2008

Thoughts on Cops, III

Note: As before, this is in response to a response to a comment which inspired the original Thoughts on Cops. This post was slightly edited to remove identifying features, since I know the person who I am responding to.

My comments were not meant to denigrate officer safety, but to put it in context. In my (peacetime, pogue duty) time in the Marine Corps, mission accomplishment was priority one, and troop welfare (and, indeed, survival) was a secondary consideration.

We delegate substantial authority (and responsibility) to sworn law officers. We have, I think, on the whole gotten a pretty dang good bunch of sheepdogs. As I said, however, I don't like the trend lines.

I am no more opposed to officer safety than I was opposed to troop welfare during my (peacetime, pogue duty) time in the Corps. As I wanted then for me and mine, in terms of the best gear and the best training and the best tactics, I want, now, the best gear and the best training and the best tactics for sworn law officers.

Like you I oppose the "militarization of Hooterville PD." I'd much rather see Mayberry's PD, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't give Sheriff Andy a high cap Beretta and bullet proof vest.

My concern is simply that, in giving away our self-responsibility, we need guardians of the highest moral caliber. As a society, we submit to law enforcement. If a cop says "Stop," we stop. There have been times and places where the police didn't always use this authority properly. I'm not some America hating lefty, but I think it's our job to keep a jealous eye on anyone with authority over us.

I'll also point out that my post wasn't an attack on [the original poster] at all, or certainly I didn't regard it that way. I was going off on a tangent from Peel's seventh point. I'm afraid that today, that sense of unity is just . . . gone. Cops seems surprised when I wave at them. I hate that.

Maybe walking a beat simply isn't practical any more; but riding around in a car you're apart from the world around you, muffled in several tons of air conditioning and radio. Maybe Community Oriented Policing is really just a liberal scam, but the idea resonates with me.

As criminal offences multiply, as every department and every agency in every municipality gets "free government money" in the form of hand-me-down DOD ordnance, as unchecked illegal immigration fractures social cohesion and the economy goes in the tank under an orgy of spending and dollar devaluation, I wonder if it really can happen here.

Thoughts on Cops, II

Note: In response to my post "Thoughts on Cops" (on another forum), an anonymous commenter wrote:

Explain to me how officer survival is not the most important part of the jpb? If the officer doesn't survive while he is responding or intervening, just what is he supposed to do about "public safety"? Internet commandos always have a better way for police to work but rarely have had the courage to put a badge on and do the work.

I reproduce this anonymous comment to provide context for my response, reprinted below. As with the previous post, no editorial revisions have been made save for the inclusion of hyperlinks.

If "officer survival" was the most important part of the job, police officers would sit in their precinct houses, in sandbagged fighting positions, peering out at the world across the sights of a M249.

As I had feared, my comments were taken inadvisedly. Does that sound like a politician's apology? It's not. I don't care if you like what I say or not, but I will try and clarify.

If a sworn law enforcement officer's HIGHEST PRIORITY is going home at the end of the shift, then he's a time-serving POS who has "a job" and not "THE JOB."

If a sworn law enforcement officer's highest priority is going home at the end of a shift, he'll not dash out into traffic to grab up a little girl whose attention is all on her teddy bear and not on the 18 wheeler bearing down on her.

If a sworn law enforcement officer's highest priority is going home at the end of a shift, when he hears a gunshot from inside a house where a 911 assault call has come from, he will watch the front door and call for backup instead of going to investigate. (Umm, see "Columbine.")

I do not like the analogy of the sheep, the wolves and the sheepdogs. (After all, sheep are for shearing, and I don't like to think that that's how cops look at "mere civilians.") But let's work with it for a minute. Is the sheepdog's highest priority his (or her) survival? No. The sheepdog's highest priority is PROTECTING THE FLOCK.

I see John 15:13 quoted a lot about public servants (cops and firefighters, mostly). My KJV says, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Lay down his life.

That means sacrifice. Not the sacrifice of wearing polyester pants, not the sacrifice of juicy off-duty gigs directing traffic and bouncing in bars, not the long hours away from your wife and family, but to LAY DOWN YOUR LIFE to PROTECT THE FLOCK.

You seem to be calling me an internet commando, although if you read my original post, you'll notice that I stress that, while I am a veteran, I served in peacetime in a pretty pogue capacity. I dunno, maybe when I fall asleep, I turn into a mall ninja or something.

While I did serve in peacetime, and while I didn't, in point of fact, go anywhere or do anything, I thought seriously about the possibility that I would be killed while I was wearing the pickle suit. I thought about it long and hard, before I signed up and took the oath to defend the Constitution of the United States.

There are times when "making it home" just ain't in the cards, for sworn officers, for military personnel, hell, even for ordinary joes. There are times when you just have to hold that hill, even if there's a battalion of Japanese infantry coming and you've only got three guys left in your platoon.

That's what happened to the man who became the face of G.I. Joe. He lived, as it happened, but that night his survival was not the most important part of his job. The most important part of his job was holding that line. Guess what? He held the line.

At the same time, I'd like to tie back to the difference between the military and the police. How does the US Army and Marine Corps react when someone doesn't slow down fast enough at a roadblock in Iraq? Is that how we want police here in the "homeland" acting?

Hey, I could be wrong here, but in my mind a good cop is one who thinks protecting the flock is job one, not punching out at the end of the shift. Gotta protect the flock if you want to be a sheepdog. How do shepherds treat sheepdogs who aren't willing to lay down their life to protect the flock?

Oh, and thanks for questioning my courage.

I know some good cops, and I have nothing but admiration for them. Peace.

Thoughts on Cops

Note: This was originally posted on another forum. I have extracted my comments verbatim. Hyperlinks were added. I have not copied the original post, to which this was a response, since this is all about me, me, me. Plus, I could be wrong.

One of the things I have ALWAYS hated, even back before I was radicalized, was the "us vs. them" mentality pushed by cops. Although I have read, and continue to read, Mas Ayoob's writings, he's one of the primary offenders. When he writes about "the Job" I cringe. When I see "officer survival" advanced as the most important part of being a police officer, I not only cringe, I get angry.

Officer survival is NOT the most important part of the job.

An important part, yes. But "public safety" ought to outrank "officer survival"---otherwise, why be a cop at all? (I hope this isn't misunderstood.)

This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the militarization of law enforcement. It will surprise no one that I think this is a horrible, horrible idea. Back when I was a kid, and I'd read National Geographic stories from Spain, I would laugh at the sub-gun toting police, and the police in masks. That's so Third World, I'd think to myself. Masks! Put me down in the "Cooper corner" on this one: masks are a target designator. Bad guys wear masks. Well, color me "too stupid to foresee the future" because we've got it in spades now, right here in River City. (That's a Music Man joke, son, a Music Man joke---said in my best Foghorn Leghorn.)

Regardless of the ultimate outcome of the Yearning for Zion case, rolling in with a M113---to me---was a bad idea. It was a bad idea at Waco, and it was a bad idea in San Angelo.

I know the way the military is trained to deal with hostile encounters. (I hasten to point out for new readers that while I am a veteran, I served in peacetime, in a pretty pogue capacity, and never went anywhere, and never did anything, and am not trying to pass myself off as some salty hardened combat tactimal extreme operator. At all.)

I know the way the military is trained to deal with hostile encounters---and I don't want our police to react anywhere close to the same way. Unless I vastly misunderstand, the police are there "to protect and to serve." The military is there "to locate, close with and destroy the enemy through fire and maneuver." There ain't TOO MUCH overlap between those two things.

While Peel's professionalization of police forces did away with the "hue and cry" I remain convinced that the good old "h&c" had some real merit. It placed responsibility for the safety of the community . . . on the community. Obviously there were problems with the hue and cry as well, and in our increasingly urbanized life it would be, today, even harder to implement. Nonetheless, the trend of "outsourcing" isn't limited to call centers in Mumbai---we have increasingly surrendered our autonomy and sovereignty to others. From a division of labor standpoint, maybe that's a good thing, but it's as close to being "un-American" as I can imagine.

Unless there is credible evidence of an intent to resist arrest, sending "raiding parties" to serve warrants is, also, unAmerican. (I think, at least.) If a federal warrant needed to be served in Waco, it should have been served by two US Marshals in a USG Ford Taurus, wearing regulation grey trousers and regulation blue blazers, with regulation 3" S&W 13s on their regulation hips.

When Charles Whitman was up in the Texas Tower ("How can you shoot civilians?" "Easy--you just don't lead them as much."), both sworn officers and plain ol' walking around "civilians" gunned up and returned fire. I believe that today, any civilian producing a firearm in a situation like that would be arrested if not shot.

I am not anti-cop. But dang if I like the trend lines.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fun with Jonah Goldberg

How Neo are the Neocons?
What is needed is a good dose of the neoconservatism of old.

By Jonah Goldberg

In the play Embedded, Tim Robbins’s 2003 satire about the Iraq invasion, a thinly veiled Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz shout with Nazi-like gusto, “Hail, Leo Strauss!” and get sexually aroused at the prospect of international conquest. During the post-9/11 age of neo-phobia, when an irrational fear of anything that might be called “neoconservative” gripped the nation, such critiques passed as intelligently nuanced.

Ed. Comment: I think they call referring to Tim Robbins in any serious discussion of ideas a “straw man.” For conservatives (whether politically or socially so defined), scorn from Hollywood is, umm, nothing new. Moving on from that, I’m not quite sure what Jonah Goldberg means about an age of neo-phobia following 9/11. Would that be the time when the United States Government more or less implemented the A Clean Break plan? Neo-phobia indeed. Would that be the time when Paul Wolfowitz as Deputy Secretary of Defense was a prime driving force behind US policy, hailed as an Acheson for our age? Yeah, I thought so. More like hydrophobia . . . .

Neocons have been attacked as secret Trotskyites, open imperialists and perfidious double agents for Israel. Some think the neocons are something like Jesuits (or perhaps Jewsuits) in the service of their dark anti-pope Strauss, a long-dead, German-Jewish political philosopher who emigrated to the U.S. to escape Hitler.

Why attack them as secret Trotskyites, when they come right out and admit it? (I like Schwarz’s line, by the by, “But they did not apologize, did not grovel, did not crawl and beg forgiveness for having, at one time, been stirred by the figure of Trotsky.” After all, who among us has not been stirred? Well, James Bond, I suppose. Shaken, not stirred. Personally, I’d have picked a different long-dead, German-Jewish political philosopher who emigrated to the U.S. to escape Hitler, but hey, that’s me. And yes, Mises was Austrian. I know.

In a hopeful sign that it’s once again safe to discuss the topic sanely, Robert Kagan of the Carnegie Endowment offers a renewed defense of neoconservative foreign policy in the latest issue of World Affairs Journal.

“The first thing that could be said about this neoconservative worldview is that there is nothing very conservative about it,” Kagan writes. “But a more important question is, how ‘neo’ is it?” His answer: not very.

Cat. Bag. Out. Here we to have one of the (many) Kagans asserting that neo-conservatism shares definitional attributes with the Holy Roman Empire, being “not what it’s called.” Neither, that is, new, nor conservative.

From our earliest days, Americans have supported the promotion of democracy around the world, often by force and without undue heed to international institutions. William Henry Seward, a founder of the Republican Party and Lincoln’s secretary of state, argued that it was America’s mission to lead the way “to the universal restoration of power to the governed.” A generation earlier, statesman Henry Clay championed the idea that America had the “duty to share with the rest of mankind this most precious gift” of liberty. Both world wars, Korea and Vietnam would be inconceivable without accounting for America’s dedication to the promotion and defense of democracy.

Anyone who honestly takes this seriously has been huffing paint. Seward famously said that “there is a higher power than the Constitution” which as sentiment is inarguable but for policy making is disaster. And on 1 April 1861, Seward proposed that he be given command of a war against, umm, Europe. Yeah, the guy who thinks the Constitution is a scrap of paper and a war against a continental civilization was a good idea. I can see how it fits the neoconservative outlook, but I don’t see how that’s a good thing.

And while Henry Clay may have talked up our duty to share the most precious gift of liberty, he was conservative enough to have been known as the Great Compromiser. You know, the “avert a civil war” compromise. As for the idea that World War One was fought to promote democracy, I’ll simply point out that we were allied with Great Britain, on whose empire the sun never set. Without bringing up India, or the vast swaths of Asia and Africa which were under the British heel, I will simply observe that our own national government had some disagreements with Britain on the subject of representative government.

Kagan traces such sentiments to the dawn of the republic. The Founders, he writes, saw the U.S. as a “‘Hercules in a cradle’ ... because its beliefs, which liberated human potential and made possible a transcendent greatness, would capture the imagination and the following of all humanity.”

George Washington, whose presence is reliably reported during some founding events, counselled that we should Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it 7 It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it ? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue ? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave.

Sorry—that was long, but at least one President George knew English.

Even amid the 15-month riot of Bush-bashing that has been the Democratic party’s fratricidal primary, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama conceded the core neoconservative principle of the Bush doctrine. “There’s absolutely a connection between a democratic regime and heightened security for the United States,” Clinton said, responding to events in Pakistan. Obama would not only unilaterally attack al-Qaida in Pakistan without Pakistan’s permission if necessary, but he also argues that anti-Americanism in the Middle East is a direct consequence of the lack of democracy.

Boy howdy, kids. The Clintons did it first! I must have missed the memo saying that the Clintons had pursued sound and effective foreign policies. As to Barack Obama, well, gee. Barack Obama doesn’t know beans about international relations, lounging on the beach in Indonesia aside. THIS is an argument in support of the neoconservative principles? From the most liberal senator in the US Senate?

Obviously, supporting the spread of democracy hardly requires you to support the Iraq war. But it works the other way around as well. Support for the Iraq war doesn’t automatically make you a neoconservative. Douglas J. Feith, a former undersecretary of defense after 9/11, argues in his new memoir, War and Decision, that democratization didn’t rank very high among the Bush administration’s early priorities. Moreover, the administration’s mistakes in Iraq — perhaps including the war itself — have less relationship to ideology than many think. “It is possible,” as Kagan notes, “to be prudent or imprudent, capable or clumsy, wise or foolish, hurried or cautious in pursuit of any doctrine.” (Just ask newly hired Hamas spokesman Jimmy Carter.)

OK, so, umm maybe a Trotskyite desire to light a fire in the minds of men, and advance a permanent revolution? Or that whole A Clean Break thing again? I control-F’d it, and not a mention of democracy to be found! Goldberg also asserts that Bush is not an evil man, just incompetent. Notice, please, how Kagan links the terms, good/bad. Prudent/imprudent. Capable/clumsy. Wise/foolish. Hurried/cautious. Umm, what? HURRIED/CAUTIOUS? No time for reflection, kids, them mullahs is about to nuke Seattle!

America’s forcible promotion of democracy has been both successful (Germany, Japan) and unsuccessful (Vietnam). Where Iraq will fall in the win-loss columns is unknowable right now. But the idea that the “Iraq project” is some bizarre and otherworldly enterprise will seem laughable to historians a century from now, even if it is viewed as a disaster.

I largely agree with Kagan on all of these points. But I have a problem, too. Kagan embraces and celebrates the definition of neoconservatism as a doctrine of democracy promotion abroad, moralism in foreign policy and unilateralism toward these ends when necessary. But the original neoconservatism of the late ’60s and early ’70s wasn’t about any of these things.

It was about domestic affairs, primarily the dangers of overreach. Less an ideology than a branch of skepticism about the ability of government to achieve anything like utopian goals, neoconservatism was the school for former liberals who’d been “mugged by reality,” in Irving Kristol’s words.

I get giggly when Jonah Goldberg talks about the dangers of overreach. No, really. I do.

Kagan and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol (son of Irving) actually rejected the label “neoconservative” when describing their ideal foreign policy in a now-famous 1994 Foreign Affairs essay, “Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy.” Yet, since then, their neo-Reaganism has simply been called “neoconservatism.”

Hence the irony: The best cure for today’s neoconservatism is a big dose of the neoconservatism of old.

— Jonah Goldberg is the author of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.

(C) 2008 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Because You Suck. And We Hate You.

OK, now work with me here.

Reading a post by Lew Rockwell and this paragraph leapt out at me:

NB: At the other end of the country spectrum, the tiny free-state of San Marino has the smallest percentage in prison. Maybe this is a better measure of relative freedom than those neocon Heritage or Koch Foundation studies.

Probably a result of my killer ear-ache, but I read it as “Heckler and Koch” and not Heritage and Koch. That reminded me of Larry Correia’s renowned rant about Heckler & Koch, “Because You Suck. And we hate you.” Hmm.

Heritage and Koch. Because you suck. And we hate you. Works for me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Oh crikey, NR is at it again

You know the oddest thing is that lately I've been reading John Derbyshire a good bit. Is this an American weakness, for the acerbic Brit? Dunno, can't say. The brothers Hitchens, Eric Blair, the brothers Cockburn, and, of course, John Derbyshire.

Anyway. The oddest thing is that I've been reading some Derbyshire lately, I've found myself drifting over to National Review Online, searching for his posts in The Corner. Unlike the predominately Catholic corpus writeri of National Review, "Derb" is as best I can tell a sort of dish-water Anglican (if that is not redundant).

Lest that sound, umm, harsh, let me say that I'm pretty sure Derb would quite agree with the Jefferson Bible---and agreeing with ol' Tom is one of the ways to get on my good side, just generally speaking.

However, it now seems that Derb has gotten on the wrong side of Ramesh Ponnoru. There are various and sundry snide comments from "Ram" (I'll allow myself this liberty), and an absolute smashing post title from Derb ("Shut Up, He Explained").

I think it all started here, and if it's interesting to anyone, use F10 and just check all of Derb's and Ram's posts. Of note though is "K-Lo" (how cute) flapping around trying to maintain comity.

I fear a purge be in the works, mateys.

Actually, given the very purgist history of NR (think: Frum, as only one example), and Derb's recognition that Ron Paul is far and away the most Republican of the Republican candidates, I could have called it a couple of months back. But I didn't, of course.

Kilts, Pistols and Politics, and Life

That's what this blog is about.

Kilts--I'm no professional Scotsman, but like a lot of East Texans, I'm your basic Celtic mutt. Scots and Irish, and Scotch-Irish, probably some Welsh, and likely some English and African as well. I've been wearing kilts on and off for the last four or five years. I like the comfort, I like the attention, I like the heritage. Regarding tartans, I tend to like either fashion tartans, universal tartans, or occupational tartans. That is, I don't wear clan tartans much.

My favorite tartan? The leatherneck, of course!

Pistols--I like guns. It's kind of funny how the world looks at it, you can be a sports enthusiast, a fan of philology, but if you like guns, you're a gun nut. (This goes hand in hand with being a gold bug.) Nut? Bug? Let's say "enthusiast" and leave it at that.

Although I like many types of guns, I mostly like pistols. Handy, portable, hopefully "always there when you need one", the pistol is primarily a defensive weapon, a way to deter and deny aggression. I believe that self-defense is an inalienable and God-given right for all mankind.

Although I particularly dig on revolvers, with some emphasis on big bore double action carry guns, modern automatic pistols deserve some attention, and they get it from me as well.

Politics--this is one of those tough issues. I am a conservative libertarian, which always ties people up in knots. (That is, my being a conservative libertarian ties people up in knots, I do NOT tie people up in knots, at least not literally. Not my bag, baby.) By "conservative libertarian" I mean that my personal tastes and inclinations are conservative, but I don't think Agents of the State ought to swoop in and beat people until they agree with me.

My main interest in politics, however, starts at the water's edge. I am a foreign policy geek, and have a strong interest (and strong opinions) about how we interact with them funny furriners the rest of the world seems to be filled with. My strong opinions tend to run hand in hand with "the other George W" (anyone else remember that ad?).

You know, George Washington, the DWM who talked about peace, friendship and commerce with all nations, entangling alliances with none.

I've read a reasonable amount about the Great Game, the tripartite struggle between the British Empire, the Russian Empire, and India. The bigwigs tasked with the defense of (British) India subdivided into two schools of thought. Those who favored the forward policy wanted to "fight them there so we don't have to fight them here" and believed in pushing, umm, forward. The other school, derided as "masterful inactivity", looked around and said, "Hey, let's stand firm here, let's not chase after problems, if the Russians want to over-run India, let's see them over-run Afghanistan first, and cross the Pamirs, and we'll meet them this side of the Hindu Kush, where we have the Great Trunk Road to help us maintain good interior lines of communication and logistics." Well, ok, maybe they didn't phrase it JUST that way, but close enough.

Hey, it's time to go get my children up and moving, so that's all you get for right now.

Oh, and I could be wrong about this stuff, you know.

Hush those pipes, ye mongrel Scotsmen!

From The Sunday Times
April 20, 2008
Pipe down! Brussels slaps a noise order on heart of Scotland
Jason Allardyce

THEIR high-pitched skirl has put fear into the hearts of Scotland’s enemies and sent sensitive tourists reaching for the cotton wool.

Now, however, the bagpipes are to be quietened by an edict from Brussels.

From this month, pipers must adhere to strict volume limits or risk breaking European Union health and safety laws. Bands have been ordered to tone down or wear earplugs to limit noise exposure to 85 decibels.

Typically, a pipe band played at full volume peaks at 122 decibels outdoors, noisier than the sound of either a nightclub or a chainsaw, which rises to 116 decibels.

The prospect of more subdued bagpipes will be welcomed by some, but musicians have warned performances will suffer.

Pipe majors claim it is virtually impossible to play quietly or to tune a band when the musicians are wearing earplugs, raising the prospect of a cacophony at showcase events such as the Edinburgh military tattoo.

The rules in effect limit practice without earplugs to about 15 minutes a day.

While piping schools have begun issuing students with hearing protectors, pipe majors are preparing to make a stand.

Ian Hughes, head of the RAF Leuchars band at an airbase in Fife, claimed the new legislation in effect outlawed bagpipe playing for the first time in more than 250 years.

The last time was after the Jacobite rising of 1745 and the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s clansmen at the battle of Culloden.

“These limits are far too low. If we have to go with these regulations, pipe bands won’t exist,” said Hughes. “Every pipe band in the world will be above the maximum volume level.

“Bringing in a law making pipers wear ear protection means the playing of pipes is outlawed. Earplugs take away the clarity of the sound and create a problem if you’re trying to tune a band up to a certain standard.

“You can’t play the pipe quietly; they haven’t got a volume switch.”

The rules are part of the control of noise at work regulations, introduced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following a Brussels directive.

The rules cap weekly average noise exposure at 85 decibels, meaning periods of loud play need to be cancelled out by quiet periods. The idea is not to protect audiences at concerts but performers and other staff.

The new directive also affects rock and classical musicians. Classical orchestras are considering whether they may have to hold quiet rehearsals for music by composers such as Wagner or Verdi to offset the loudness of their concerts.

The loudest rock bands have included the Who, who in 1976 reached 126 decibels. They were beaten last year, however, by the Watford punk band Gallows, who hit 132.5 decibels.

Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, lead singer of Motorhead, the heavy metal band, said he would resist any attempt to force him to turn down the music.

“The essence of rock’n’roll is loud music,” he said. “How the hell can we be expected to enjoy ourselves if we’ve got to turn it down?”

“Audiences will see musicians in orchestras wearing earplugs in the future,” said Mark Pemberton, director of the Association of British Orchestras. “We are also looking at other ways of reducing noise such as putting acoustic screens between musicians.”

An HSE spokesman said: “If an employer discovers an employee has been exposed above the exposure defined in the regulations they must take action.”

Who's the loudest?

Gallows punk band: 132 decibels

Boeing 747 taking off 100 yards away: 130 decibels

The Who, 1976 concert: 126 decibels

Pipe band: 122 decibels

Pneumatic drill: 120 decibels

Nightclub: 110 decibels

Orchestra performing Wagner’s Ring Cycle: 110 decibels

Underground train: 94 decibels

Vacuum cleaner: 70 decibels

Normal conversation: 60 decibels

Monday, April 14, 2008

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Pot, Kettle, Black

I was reading a George Will article linked from Lew Rockwell's blog, and although it was, in the main, about Bob Barr, it reminded me again of the funky narcissistic quality of America. It seems stronger now, but maybe I'm just noticing it more. Justin Raimondo says that there's been a rip in the warp of space and time itself and we are now living in Bizarro World. I wouldn't be too surprised.

Anyway, American, narcissism, and that whole pot-kettle-black thing. Maybe y'all remember, Russia recently held elections. Elite opinion here in the Greatest Democracy in the History of Mankind was not, shall we say, enthusiastically supportive. It was felt that disallowing opposition parties the chance to run based on "technicalities" like the, umm, law, was somehow unfair, and evidence of a systemic bias in favor of the "officially approved parties."

OK. I'll say it so you don't have to: Pot. Kettle. Black.

Writes Will:

The party's immediate challenge is to win ballot access. Barr and Cory say the party almost certainly will be on the ballot in 48 states, and perhaps on West Virginia's, but probably not Oklahoma's. Although Libertarian candidates have been on all 50 several times, the two major parties use laws and litigation to impede ballot access.

In 1968, George Wallace's supporters, with little national organization and negligible financing, got him on all states' ballots on the American Independent Party line. California required 66,000 signatures—not a daunting total but the signatures had to be gathered in 1967, and all signatories had to fill out a two-page legal-size form to register as members of Wallace's new party. More than 100,000 did. Ohio required Wallace supporters to gather 433,000 signatures—in 10 weeks. When that total was surpassed, an Ohio court ruled that Wallace's party was "fictional" because it was a phenomenon of spontaneous combustion. Wallace stopped execrating the U.S. Supreme Court long enough to ask it—successfully—to order Ohio to put him on the ballot.

Move along, folks. Nothing to see here.

Bad deviationist 9mm thinking

As many of you've noticed, shooting is getting more expensive, and I've been having some "bad deviationist 9mm thinking" as I mention in the title of this post.

For the last couple of weeks, I've been thinking about the "moderate-service-sized 9mm" issue, and going over the long, long, long long long list of moderately sized service 9mms.

I thought about the newest poly-poppers, like the S&W M&P, the "sig heil" HK, FNs and the ol' grandaddy Glock itself. (For me, the main problem with a Glock is that there's just so much stuff you can do to it, turn it into another project gun like a 1911 or something---no, honestly.)

I've concluded that as much as I like the CZ75, and as good as it feels when I grip it, trigger reach is just not comfortable for me. Exit the CZs, stage right.

Taurus actually makes some nifty pistols, both in poly and aluminium, and my (personal) experience with Taurus has been all to the good, notwithstanding internet chatter about lemons. They didn't make the final cut---but they were in the running.

Another contender was the new Stoeger Cougar, yep, just a Beretta Cougar built on Beretta machinery in Turkey. I'm a sometimes sucker for neat new ideas, and I've never owned a rotating lockup pistol. It might be neat to at least try one out, and with service on teh Stoegers through Beretta USA I'd expect superlative customer service should such be necessary.

In a move I'd never considered before, I looked over the Ruger line of 9mms. "Rugged" and "value" spell Ruger, and I looked at everything from the P89 through the "old style" P-series polymer guns, and the SR9. The SR9 looks pretty dang cool.

However, none of the foregoing made the cut. I ended up going with just about the cheapest pistol I could find, $299 shipped and that's not the whole story.

S&W is offering a rebate on some of their new pistols, good for $50 and a couple of spare magazines. You may have guessed by now, I got a Sigma.

(Waits for the boos and catcalls to die down.)

Well, ok, it's not "really" a Sigma anymore, but a SW9VE. Heck, I can't pronounce that, so I keep on calling it a Sigma. I actually bought a Sigma when they first hit the market, in '93 or '94, in .40 S&W (and in CALIFORNIA, no less---with FIFTEEN ROUND MAGAZINES!). The trigger was heap-big troublesome in comparison with what I was shooting at the time. Of course, I was shooting a Springfield Armory 1911 tuned by Ten-Ring Precision, so some allowances ought to be made.

The recoil with the .40 was a touch stout, and this girl I was going out with didn't care for it much, so I ended up swapping it out on a Browning HP .40, but that's no nevermind.

I ordered from Bud's Gun Shop and should be picking it up next week from Briley---a whopping three miles from me as the crow flies and not much more as the crow drives.

The trigger on the Sigma series has been upgraded some over the years, and I've spent a lot more time shooting double action sixguns so I've scant worries about the fire control system. It's kind of surprising to realize that the Sigma is now a pretty mature design, and it's comforting to know that it's backed by S&W. Should there be any problems, I'm pretty sure S&W will make 'em right.

Another thing, more applicable to me than to most shooters, is that there just isn't much out there to do to the Sigma. I think Lasermax USED to make a laser for them, but they don't know, and aside from perhaps a Hogue Hand-all I think the only money I'll be spending on the Sigma is for ammunition.

Like I said---bad deviationist 9mm thinking!

Oh yeah--it's also the sidearm of the Afghan National Police, and I get kind of a kick out of that.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sigh, even at Lew Rockwell . . .

Criminal Unions
Posted by Lew Rockwell at April 11, 2008 08:56 AM

Unions are organized haters of their benefactors, employers. When they do not get their way--more pay for less work--they seek to harm the firm (and non-union workers), often through violence. This time, airline unions used the violence of government to harm their employers. So now airlines like American and Southwest have to jump through impossible bureaucratic-paperwork hoops, leading to vast groundings and harm to passengers. This is exactly what the unions want, since they have all the foresight and ethics of the scorpion in Aesop's story. And now Frontier Airlines has filed for bankruptcy.

Now, at the risk of sounding like one of those wistful Commies ("Well, Stalin failed, to be sure, but we'll do better."), I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with unions. Hmm, let's see, a free association issue, to be sure ("we choose to band together to negotiate on our behalf"), probably even a freedom of contract issue ("I'm gonna hire non-union guys, thanks."). The problem is GOVERNMENT. The problem is not that unions exist, the problem is that unions are mobbed up with the government, getting special privileges. (Oh, and google up the etymology of privilege ---a private law, i.e., differential treatment, hmmmm . . . . )

Lashing out at unions makes as much sense as lashing out at business. Same quest for privileges, same mobbed-up mentality. The problem with American business is not capitalism, it's corporatism.

So there.

Mike Ledeen, at it again

I think General Petraeus is trying to force the Bush Administration to recognize these hard facts and act accordingly. He is saying that we cannot accomplish our objectives in Iraq without challenging the regime in Tehran. This does not necessarily entail an expansion of the war. I know of no high-ranking military officer or civilian official who favors a military assault on Iran (or on its strategic ally, Syria), and there are many things we can do to make the mullahs and their friends pay a steep price for attacking our people in Iraq and in Afghanistan as well. These range from operations against the terrorist training facilities and assembly plants for rockets and mines in Iran and Syria (acts of legitimate self defense) to active support for the broad-based Iranian democratic movement, which is supported by a big majority of the citizens.

Now YOU TOO can play "let's square that circle."

Was a time, I suppose, when launching air strikes against a country was considered an act of war. If it was done without declaration of war, it was regarded as perfidy and evidence of the vile subhumanity of those hissing Japs. Now Mighty Mike says, it's not a military assault if you just bomb shit! I mean, it's only self-defense!

(Note: as someone who believes in the inalienable right of all people everywhere to exercise their rights to self-defense, I think Mike Ledeen is a monster.)