Friday, March 31, 2006

A few music-related thoughts...

As Cactus Music & Video, Houston's largest independent record shop, closes today, this runs in the Houston Chronicle:

Today's closing of Cactus Music & Video on Shepherd has proved what we've all suspected: Independent music stores are dying. Fast.

The few independents left are neighborhood spots specializing in specific genres of music. Most are struggling because, although their niche customer base provides a steady clientele, they don't get the volume needed to stay in the black.
"A few months ago we were thinking about closing," said Clark Miles II, who runs Turntable II Records & Tapes on Fondren in far southwest Houston. "Man, it was ugly out here. It's hard to stay in business if you're a small shop."
Hard because of the nature of the music business, Miles said. Major chains can secure enough inventory from record labels to allow for low pricing that undercuts the smaller record shops. Making matters worse, major chains also are given free copies in exchange for prominent display, which further increases profits.

And, of course, it squeezes out the good folks on the smaller labels, too, as the big-box stores by and large see fit only to stock music from the more popular artists out there, thus depriving the regional artists on those smaller labels the chance to have their music out there on the shelf for those of us lucky enough to hear it and would like to own it. The vicious cycle is turbocharged as terrestrial radio sees fit to ignore the regional artists on the smaller independent labels, save for a few hours on Saturday and Sunday nights here in Southeast Texas, for example. And this is driven by exactly the same thing that's happened to the record industry -- rampant corporatization (if that's a word), that is, radio shifting from more regional companies to more nationwide, centralized companies that employ more of a one-size-fits-all approach. Just as the big-box stores (with few exceptions) see fit to stock only product from major artists, radio (with even fewer exceptions) sees fit to play only those major artists, which leaves a lot of good music falling through the cracks. I am as much of a capitalist as anyone, so I can't fault the people in charge for actually wanting to make money, but I don't understand, for example, why the folks who run country radio seem to think that the national audience for it would only like "country music" that comes from the Nashville-based labels. I know that's what the consulting firms' research says, but country radio's declining ratings nationwide over the last few years, in tandem with country music's decline in sales over roughly the same period, would seem to show that research is at least a little bit off the mark. I don't see it changing any time soon, and that's a real shame. I made a trip over to Cactus when I went to see George Strait at the rodeo, just to see what I could find, and I found about 40-plus copies (combined) of a few cds I'd gone looking for all over the Golden Triangle but had yet to find in Wal-Mart, FYE or Sam Goody. Before my plans to go to the rodeo, I'd considered making the trip just to buy those cds, but I am in a distinct minority as far as that goes, I am sure, with brick-and-mortar shops like Cactus being supplanted with direct Web marketing. That is a good thing for the artists on the small, independent labels like Houston-based D Records, but I don't know whether satellite or Internet radio will be enough to make up for the exposure the independents don't get on terrestrial radio. Only time will tell, but being a fan of the regional artists you can many times find only in the independent shops like Cactus or on the Web, I worry...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

An excellent point, that will very likely go unaddressed

David Codrea, as is his wont, once again makes an excellent point in response to this:

"They were just kids," Nicole laments in righteous indignation.

Two of them were. I have yet to hear those like Nicole asking what the hell grown men in their 20's and 30's were doing partying with 14 and 15-year-old girls instead of protecting them.

Why, Dave, it's part of their CULTURE, don't you know, you insensitive lout?
Seriously, though, I thought we once had a name for grown men in their 20s and 30s who partied with 15-year-old girls like this -- pedophiles, or at least pedophiles in the making. And the fact that this sort of thing is not looked down on in the "rave culture" is, of course, another sign of its dysfunctionality. Of course, the multiculturalists among us will say, "don't be so judgmental, you don't know their mind-set, their customs are just as valid as ours," though if you look at what the columnists are saying in the Seattle papers, it's quite plain they're passing judgment on all of us who think that mutant should be held responsible for his own actions and that the "rave culture" is what should be cast under the spotlight instead of some bullshit "culture of firepower."

And, of course, David had the perfect reply to the idiot columnist who would claim to know what I as a gun owner would want or need:
"Hey Nicole: Molon Labe. What I told Sallie goes double for you."

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

More Left-Coast Anti-Gun Lunacy...

from Robert Jamieson of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer...

Don't blame the rave scene for the Seattle's worst mass murder in more than two decades.

Blame the guns -- and a culture that celebrates firepower.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, this man is saying that you should blame the inanimate objects for the bad things committed with them, not the warped culture of what has come to be known as the rave, a wild party in which wild lighting and techno dance music are fused with all sorts of illegal drug use -- LSD, Ecstasy, GHB (also known as "the date-rape drug"), cocaine, and methamphetamines. I suppose we shouldn't expect much better, but still, it's quite maddening. Culture that celebrates firepower? What kind of blue-state horseshit IS that? If there's any culture that "celebrates firepower," it would much more likely be whatever you'd call the culture that drug-addled, brain-fried ex-ravers belong to. I would look at a raver much more suspiciously than I would any member of the NRA or any other pro-gun organization or person, because the without exception, every gun enthusiast I have ever come across has the utmost respect for human life and the power of a firearm and would never use it on anyone unless their lives or well-being were being threatened. How dare these elitist ivory-tower jackasses implicitly point the finger at those of us who own guns and view gun ownership as a sacred, inalienable right and say it's OUR fault that bad people do bad things with guns.

The uncomfortable truth is, the right to bear arms has become a right for lunatics to get tools of lethal efficiency and shoot up people.

No, Mr. Jamieson, the right to bear arms doesn't include any kind of "right" to go shooting at people who don't threaten you. So let's just go ahead and burn that straw man right here and now. And the NRA and every other organization that you so unfairly paint with your broad brush would tell you as much. The uncomfortable truth is that we as a society are now paying the price for the wrongheaded policies of the would-be gun-grabbers driving home the message whenever they can that children must be kept away from guns at all costs. It's been said before, but it surely deserves to be said again -- there are many lessons, valuable lessons, to be taught with the bearing of arms, and the sanctity of life is one of them, as it's hard not to respect that when you have something in your hands that enables you to so easily extinguish it. God only knows what prompted this mutant to do what he did, but maybe, just maybe, if when he was little, his dad or another trusted figure in his life had taken him out in the backyard to shoot tin cans off the fencepost with a .22, and gone from there, maybe he wouldn't have gotten so far off the path that he'd so easily pick up a gun and shoot at his fellow man. There's a hell of a lot to blame to go around here, no doubt...but a "culture of firepower" is a scapegoat, a figment of the paranoia-gripped gun-fearing wuss's imagination.

The Capitol Hill slayings present an opportunity for people to talk about how our nation is overrun with guns, including high-caliber assault rifles and semiautomatics.

No. The Capitol Hill slayings present an opportunity for us to talk about the fact that we as a society have gotten far, far off the beaten path trod by our forefathers. There is much I could say, but Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Joy Scott, one of the 19 students murdered at Columbine High School, said it so much better than I ever could...

"In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA - because I don't believe that they are responsible for my daughter's death. Therefore I do not believe that they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel's murder I would be their strongest opponent.

"I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy-it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! Much of the blame lies here in this room. Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves. "I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expresses my feelings best. This was written way before I knew I would be speaking here today:

Your laws ignore our deepest needs, Your words are empty air. You've stripped away our heritage, You've outlawed simple prayer. Now gunshots fill our classrooms, And precious children die. You seek for answers everywhere, And ask the question "Why?" You regulate restrictive laws, Through legislative creed. And yet you fail to understand, That God is what we need!
"Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, soul, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and reek havoc. Spiritual presences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation's history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact. What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine's tragedy occurs - politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties. We do not need more restrictive laws. "Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts. Political posturing and restrictive legislation are not the answers. The young people of our nation hold the key. There is a spiritual awakening taking place that will not be squelched! We do not need more religion. We do not need more gaudy television evangelists spewing out verbal religious garbage. We do not need more million dollar church buildings built while people with basic needs are being ignored. We do need a change of heart and a humble acknowledgment that this nation was founded on the principle of simple trust in God!

Amen, Mr. Scott. Amen.

Leave me and my fellow gun owners and our culture alone, Mr. Jamieson. It's your right to mouth off in your newspaper about things you haven't a clue about, but as you have such a large audience, it would behoove you to learn more about that culture. What is it? It's Kim du Toit's "culture of liberty and self-reliance." (thank you, Kevin Baker.) It's a culture that, contrary to your paranoid delusions, bears and nurtures a deep respect for life, both ours and our fellow man's -- which is why many of us pack that 12-gauge with the pistol-grip in the closet in case some mutant, who would so cavalierly extinguish human life, comes calling at 2 in the morning. It's a culture of which I am proud and deeply honored to be a part of. I hate that you don't understand it. I do so wish you would make a better effort at it. Both you and your readers would be much better off.

Morgan Spurlock Can Go To Hell

I always did think filmmaker Morgan Spurlock had at least a couple of screws loose, but I never knew he was such a Super Size Asshole.

The filmmaker who ate nothing but McDonald's meals for a month for his Oscar-nominated film "Super Size Me" gave a profanity-laced, politically incorrect speech at a suburban Philadelphia high school, but not everyone was lovin' it.

Speaking at Hatboro-Horsham High School's first-ever health fair, Morgan Spurlock joked about the intelligence of McDonald's employees, about "retarded kids in the back wearing helmets" and teachers smoking pot in the balcony.

Judas Priest. It just doesn't get much more despicable than that. I guess it's easy to look down on other people when you make truckloads of money, but to make fun of some of the most vulnerable people in society is just beyond the pale. You know what would be great? If people who pulled crap like that actually had to walk in those kids shoes, for an indeterminate amount of time,fully cognizant of the fact that they had once been, for lack of a better term, just like everyone else. Let them see what it's like to be stared at, pointed at, made fun of. Retarded. What a load. I bet most of those kids that jackass referred to as "retarded" would know, without some idiot filmmaker telling them, that eating fast food all the time is bad for you.
Do I take that sort of thing personally? Damn skippy I do...because but for the grace of God, it could have been me. I don't know the stories of those kids at the school at which Spurlock appeared, but I'd almost be willing to bet that one of or two have a full-blown case of what I have -- cerebral palsy. The doctors took care of business in time for me to to come out of it not too bad off, but I was left walking with a limp and having limited use of my right hand...and that's the extent of it. I still lead a full, normal life...go to the beach and get drunk, ride on an inner tube behind a boat, I am a decent shot with a pistol from 15 yards...I am indeed quite blessed. Most people with what I have can't take care of themselves, much less be independent and lead a normal life. And they, and every other person who was born with some sort of mental or physical defect, deserve better than to be made fun of by some asshole who, but for the grace of God, could have been walking in their shoes.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Hey Kimber, We Like Your Guns in the Lone Star State, Too...

From the Orange County Shooters Assn. (h/t Alphecca):

NY has some of the most repressive gun laws of any state including an Assault Weapons Ban and registration of all handguns but that is not good enough for anti-gun Sheldon Silver, and anti-gun rights groups. Several bills, some written by gun haters from Washington D. C. and California, have passed the NY Assembly that would have a severe impact on gun owners and close all gun stores in NY.
One bill requires all gun stores to close if they do not have a million dollar insurance policy that does not exist and will never be offered by insurance companies. Another bill requires that guns have a 10 lb trigger pull but the worse bill is the new “Assault Weapons Ban” that would require registration of many common rifles and shotguns and end the sale of new firearms that fit this very broad definition and totally ban many competition handguns.
...We don’t know how much this new long gun registration scheme will cost but NY City first registered all long guns for a small fee of $25 then started raising fees so it now cost $140 for a 3-year license and after several years, certain long guns, even if they were registered, were banned. NY City Handgun licenses cost $344 every three years and are not valid in the rest of NY State.

Perhaps as the word of this odious bill gets out, Kimber (and any other NY-based gunmaker) will follow the lead of the Illinois gun manufacturers and threaten to pull up stakes and leave the Empire State if this bill passes. I don't know if any other manufacturers are based there, so the economic impact of their departure might not be enough to make them sit up and take notice. We'll see as the time goes on. I know that if it were my company, I would be doing my level best to get the hell out of there, though I know that's not always a viable option and would not hold it against any gun manufacturer who decided to stay where they were. But, once again, if anyone in Yonkers is listening, Texas is a great place...heh.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Yet another reason gunnies need to be on guard at all times...

Yet another example from the Houston Chronicle, though, in fairness, they were merely reporting on someone else's bat-guano interp. of the 2A...

Leave the interpretation to the pundits.

That was the motto of Cathy Travis, the longtime spokeswoman for Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, while writing her first book, Constitution Translated for Kids.

...She said some people who have seen the book dislike her handling of the Second Amendment — "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."
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the original intent of militia just means the National Guard, she wrote.
The guys on the left want to know why I didn't make it clear that only the National Guard can have guns," she said. "The guys on the right are unhappy with me including the phrase about the militia. In politics, when both sides are unhappy, you've hit it straight down the middle."

mmmk, boys and girls, it's off to the races, yet again...
I'd say she has the leftists more or less pegged. It's leftists and Democrats (Gun Control Act of 1968, anyone?) who have been agitating for more "gun control", well, in at least in the years since the thugs at HCI and all the other gun prohibitionist organizations, and their ideological soulmates, started rearing their ugly heads on Capitol Hill and statehouses across the fruited plain.
As for "the guys on the right (being) unhappy...with (her) including the phrase about the militia," well, she has it partly right. It's not so much the inclusion of the phrase as it is an incomplete explanation of it. Had Travis been more complete, she would have included the fact that the National Guard was established some 150 years AFTER the Second Amendment was ratified, thus throwing into question the wisdom of the Supremes' rulings on original intent. She would also have informed her reader that, according to the United States Code, the "militia" is defined as all able-bodied males ages 17 and older -- NOT the National Guard. And then, of course, there's the fact that the rights enumerated in the other nine amendments in the Bill of Rights have all been taken to be individual -- not collective -- rights. It would seem that the Second Amendment is seen as the lone exception. I know well what Warren Burger has said about the 2A, the treasonous sack of guano, but it is the interpretation of the Second Amendment as a collective right that is the biggest -- and arguably the most dangerous -- fraud ever perpetrated on the American people. And for Ms. Travis to sit there and pat herself on the back, saying she has it split right down the middle, seems to me to be just so much shameless self-aggrandizement. Such should be expected from those cretins on Capitol Hill, but still, it's maddening just the same. Misinformation to the left of us, deception to the right, here we are, stuck in the middle, and it's a hell of a place to be, and not in a good way...

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Control of Language = Control of Debate; or, Handgun or Defensive Sidearm?

Not many who come to my humble corner of the blogosphere know this -- in fact, I don't know if any do -- but in addition to being a gun owner and enthusiast, I am a writer as well. As such, I am keenly aware that much of what argument consists of is the way certain things are referred to, what they're called; for example, as I've said before, there are those who would say my little Ruger 9mm semi-auto pistol is an assault weapon because of its 15-round magazine and the fact that I can reel off shots with it pretty rapidly because of its relatively low recoil. And, of course, we all know what kinds of images the term "assault weapon" conjures up. In other words, you can basically control the debate by controlling what language is used, that is, what terms are used in the debate. I was thinking about this today, as I was at work, making money for my next gun. ;) I saw this little tidbit on one of my daily reads the other day, from


Dihydrogen monoxide is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and kills uncounted thousands of people every year. Most of these deaths are caused by accidental inhalation of DHMO, but the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide do not end there. Prolonged exposure to its solid form causes severe tissue damage. Symptoms of DHMO ingestion can include excessive sweating and urination, and possibly a bloated feeling, nausea, vomiting and body electrolyte imbalance. For those who have become dependent, DHMO withdrawal means certain death.

Dihydrogen monoxide:

  • is also known as hydroxl acid, and is the major component of acid rain.
  • contributes to the "greenhouse effect."
  • may cause severe burns.
  • contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape.
  • accelerates corrosion and rusting of many metals.
  • may cause electrical failures and decreased effectiveness of automobile brakes.
  • has been found in excised tumors of terminal cancer patients.
Contamination is reaching epidemic proportions!

Quantities of dihydrogen monoxide have been found in almost every stream, lake, and reservoir in America today. But the pollution is global, and the contaminant has even been found in Antarctic ice. DHMO has caused millions of dollars of property damage in the midwest, and recently California.

Despite the danger, dihydrogen monoxide is often used:
  • as an industrial solvent and coolant.
  • in nuclear power plants.
  • in the production of styrofoam.
  • as a fire retardant.
  • in many forms of cruel animal research.
  • in the distribution of pesticides. Even after washing, produce remains contaminated by this chemical.
  • as an additive in certain "junk-foods" and other food products.
Companies dump waste DHMO into rivers and the ocean, and nothing can be done to stop them because this practice is still legal. The impact on wildlife is extreme, and we cannot afford to ignore it any longer!

The American government has refused to ban the production, distribution, or use of this damaging chemical due to its "importance to the economic health of this nation." In fact, the navy and other military organizations are conducting experiments with DHMO, and designing multi-billion dollar devices to control and utilize it during warfare situations. Hundreds of military research facilities receive tons of it through a highly sophisticated underground distribution network. Many store large quantities for later use.

In 1997, Nathan Zohner, a 14-year-old student at Eagle Rock Junior High School in Idaho Falls, based his science fair project on a report similar to the one reproduced above. Zohner's project, titled "How Gullible Are We?", involved presenting this report about "the dangers of dihyrogen monoxide" to fifty ninth-grade students and asking them what (if anything) should be done about the chemical. Forty-three students favored banning it, six were undecided, and only one correctly recognized that 'dihydrogen monoxide' is actually H2O — plain old water.

It's all in the language, you see. And while this may be an extreme example of language manipulation -- a reductio ad absurdum, if you will -- its lesson still stands: you can get the people to go along with just about any idea if you use the right language.
Which brings me to the issue of firearms, once again. We all know well the tripe peddled by HCI, the Violence Policy Center, etc., about how, "guns 'r bad, m'kay?" And, of course, they're always talking about those eeevil "handguns" (ooooh, a gun that'll fit in your HAND!) and how they're good for nothing but death and destruction. Well, we know which way the cost-benefit analysis goes vis-a-vis crimes committed with handguns vs. good things being done with handguns; that is, the benefits of civilian handgun ownership far, FAR outweigh the costs. So, taking into consideration the good things that happen because of civilian handgun ownership (i.e., the approximately 2.5 million-3 million defensive gun uses per year), in place of the term handgun, let us instead plug in the term defensive sidearm. To wit:

Every Defensive Sidearm Is Aimed At You: The Case for Banning Defensive Sidearms -- book by Josh Sugarmann, VPC executive director -- one of VPC's myriad hysteria sites

"I hate defensive sidearms. Defensive sidearms are used to shoot people and as long as they are around, people will shoot each other." -- Daniel Craig, the new James Bond

"If we allow (law-abiding) citizens to carry defensive sidearms in public, blood will flow in the streets." -- NOT an actual quote, but it sums up perfectly the gun prohibitionists' position on any type of concealed carry

And there are a thousand more examples where those come from; the ones above put in rather stark display the utter lunacy of the gun prohibition movement. But here's one more, just for good measure:

"It is said that a total ban on defensive sidearms, including .22s, would take away innocent pleasure from thousands of people...Is that more or less pleasure than watching your child grow up?" -- Sean Connery, in an ad on the BBC, after the Dunblane massacre

Would that the disarmament lobby in Britain had been so up-front. Had Connery actually used that term, it might have been more clear to the British that what they were giving up was a hell of a lot more than just "innocent pleasure."

Perhaps if we could get the terms of the debate changed -- at least that particular term -- we could turn the focus of the debate from the guns to the people doing bad things with them. We do not have an epidemic of handgun violence in this country. We have an epidemic of bad people using defensive sidearms for things they were not intended to be used for. And maybe if we could get the focus on the bad people who commit the crimes, and get the public to wake up to the benefits of defensive sidearm ownership, we might just be able to make some positive steps toward cutting down on violence perpetrated with guns. Thoughts from readers?

Carnival of Cordite No. 52 up at Gully's place, parts 1 and 2, double the goodness in honor of the carnival's 1-year anniversary! Much gunnie goodness contained therein, check it out!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Equal Treatment for All...Even Retired Cops

The 2006 San Diego County Fair opens June 10, and still unresolved is whether off-duty law enforcement officers can carry their weapons inside the fairgrounds.

Off-duty law-enforcement officers routinely carry their weapons and are expected to respond to a disturbance or other situation. Fairgrounds officials are concerned that an off-duty officer responding to an incident in civilian dress could pose a threat to other officers and to the public's safety.

The Deputy Sheriff's Association of San Diego County and the San Diego Police Officers Association, along with the police officers associations in Escondido and Oceanside, disagree.

"An off-duty officer should be able to carry weapons anywhere," said James Duffy, president of the deputies' association. "We're an asset to public safety."

Jeff at Alphecca makes this comment:

These anti-gun types actually consider off-duty cops to be a threat to public safety! Folks, if I was one of those cops, I'd be posted day and night outside the fair, and the organizer's homes just waiting for some traffic violation.

I'd also be so insulted that I'd make sure that if a call or alarm went out from either, I'd first stop at the nearest Krispy Cream to fortify myself before answering the call.

While I have a hard time arguing with that, I also have a hard time justifying letting retired law-enforcement officers carry but not California concealed-carry permit holders, even if federal law says to let retired peace officers carry. The deputies may well be an "asset to public safety," but so, too are the people who go through the arduous process to get their license to carry -- and that's been shown to be the case in pretty much every state that has gone to shall-issue, in the form of lower rates of certain violent crimes after the respective states passed their concealed-carry laws. It would be wise to let the retired peace officers carry, I think -- but it would be wrong not to let concealed-permit holders do the same. I know, I know...they have special training civilians don't, they have more experience with their firearms, andonandonandon (and actually, that last thing isn't always the case)...but it reeks of favoritism, and elitism too. Such isn't exactly rare in California when it comes to how civilian gun owners are regarded vs. the good folks behind the badges, but still, it's wrong, and Californians should not stand for it...but, of course, they probably will...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Hammer, Meet Head Of Nail

Clicking through old posts over at SayUncle a moment ago, I ran across this quote:

...telling someone else they’d be better off going to a shelter, or buying a can of mace, or one of those dandy little whistles - that is a nearly criminal lie. Preventing, or helping to prevent a woman from acquiring the knowledge, licence, and tool she needs for effective self defence - well, as far as I am concerned that is "accessory before the fact."

Yes, yes, yes! Shout it from the rooftops, run ads saying this in every medium, put it on billboards from Long Island to Long Beach! It just can't be said any better than that, although I am tempted to go a little further and say that anyone who discourages a woman from getting the aforementioned knowledge, license and tools for effective self-defense would be a borderline accessory before the fact. Someone once told me that they'd rather their daughter be raped and deal with the aftermath than give her a gun (or even suggest the option, let alone encourage it) and risk an attacker taking it from her and using it on her. And that is something I just cannot fathom, even from a gun-fearing wuss. I guess this is a little personal for me, as my life and the life of someone I once knew would be completely different now, if she had taken the lethal-force route on her sadistic ex-boyfriend. Still, however, I believe with every fiber of who I am that 230 grains of prevention (administered at 850 feet per second) beats 230 tons of cure (administered any way), every time. I once saw a figure from a study that said a woman uses a gun to stop a rapist on average about 416 times a day, or an estimated 152,000 times a year. How many more could be prevented if every woman armed herself?
Once again...there is no such thing as an armed victim.

I guess the Dixie Chicks really do have nothing to lose, but still...

this just sucks.

...the new single, "Not Ready To Make Nice," takes aim at the band's critics, and the people who wrote threatening letters following Maine's comments.

"I made my bed and I sleep like a baby
With no regrets and I don’t mind sayin’
It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Sayin’ that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over"

I do agree that the threatening letters were over the line. The Dixie Chicks did (and still do, it should be noted) have the freedom to spout off inanities about whatever goes through their leftist noggins, and it was wrong for those who disagreed to write those threatening letters...but, as for that last part, would it be so wrong of me to ask, why in the hell didn't they just shut up and sing in the first place? It's like they jumped right into the turd pile and then started yelling, "back the truck up and dump another load!" They may be mad as hell, as the song's lyrics say, but there are those of us who get more than a little offended at those who use the fame and fortune bestowed upon them -- by those of all political persuasions -- to gain an unearned outlet for whatever political views they espouse, no matter what those views are. Of course, it would seem that the Chicks have also veered away from the path they've trod musically, from the comments here:

"i dont like country songs for the most part, but this wasnt TOO i liked it"
"I've hated pretty much all of their previous singles, but I like this."

Comments like that say a lot on their own. I keep thinking of a comment someone made one morning when I was back in high school and Shania Twain's "Any Man of Mine" came on the TV during the announcements the broadcast journalism department made over the school's network every morning: "This is the only country song I like!" She probably liked all the country-labeled bubble-gum tripe that Shania Twain and her husband foisted on country radio over the next few years, too. I shudder to think of how many people who call themselves "country music fans" think more or less the same thing, which can, for many people, be boiled down to:
"I like country music, just not all that twangy, whiny shit."
I'd like to think the Chicks won't take the Shania Twain route here -- indeed, indications are they won't -- but it also looks like the new cd might have more than a little leftist agitprop on it, and while all my Chicks cds are still intact and will remain in my collection and get spun in my disc player now and then, I think I might just have to pass on this one. Shut up and sing, indeed...leave the politics off the stage and out of the studio.

Monday, March 20, 2006

More on HCI Grades: The Mad Hatter Takes the Ball and Runs...

...and he scores. (emphasis mine):

if you just went by the percentage of crimes involving firearms, it would seem that the Bradys' Report Cards are justified. However, the A-list's higher overall crime numbers, despite its lower percentages involving firearms, suggest something students of human nature have known for a long time: if you can't commit a crime one way, another way can be found--if you can't use a gun, a knife might do the job just as well.

Here's a fun fact about California that proves my last statement:
over 29,000 of California's robberies were just done by the force of the perp's own strength, without gun, knife, or other instrument. And this state rates high with the Bradys for its attempts to keep guns out of the hands of its peasantry.

A-yup. The damning evidence is right there under the nose of whoever cares to look beyond HCI's "grades." It's a shame you only see the bloggers digging this information up and analyzing it. Of course, on the flip side, I saw nothing of HCI's grades in any of my local media. One would think the Houston Chronicle, at least, would have a blurb on it.
That in itself is encouraging, but still, the lies and deceptions are out there and being propagated every day by gun-grabbers on every corner. And as such they need to be exposed. It's a shame that HCI did not issue these grades in the form of grade-point averages. Some enterprising soul could take the data and plot it on several graphs -- HCI GPAs vs. Actual Crime Rates. It would be interesting to see what kind of equation could be wrung out of that...I have a feeling I already know what the graph would look like...

No Remorse, (and we all hope) No Regrets

Yet more media bias against gun owners, from today's Houston Chronicle. Notice the headline:

'I ... have no remorse now for killing a man'

As well he shouldn't. From the story...

...someone called Harvey to ask if he had any shipping boxes. Though an unusual request on a Saturday, Harvey told the caller he had some at his home.
Four Spanish-speaking men seeking boxes arrived outside Harvey's home about 15 minutes later. While showing the men boxes in his garage, they pulled out guns and ordered Harvey and his wife to give them money. Inside, the men rounded up the couple's five children in the living room and stood guard over them.
The men repeatedly pointed their weapons at the heads of family members as they demanded money. One man vaguely threatened Harvey by telling him not to worry because he would be sleeping after they left.
"I knew he was going to kill me," Harvey said.
As one man stood guard over Harvey in the kitchen, another took his wife into another room to seek her jewelry.
"After they took my wife I knew I had to do something," he said. "I felt I had to react."
He wrestled the gun out of his captor's hands then shot him dead before the other three men ran back toward the kitchen. A shootout followed as the men fired their weapons at Harvey. He was struck three times as he returned fire until emptying the gun in his hand. His wife and children were unharmed.
The man's family was in grave danger. He did what he had to do. He damn well should feel no remorse from defending his family from those mutants...the only thing wrong with his approach was that he did not have his own home defense gun -- or at least he did not use it.
Now, as for that headline. We all know how the media paints gun owners and pro-gun people, all too frequently -- as knuckle-dragging troglodytes. And here they do it again, as they take what was probably the most sensational quote from the interview and make it the headline -- of course, you could argue that's just good headline-writing or copy editing or whatever, but that's beside the point. We've all seen the bullshit that Handgun Control has spouted from time to time when the "Stand Your Ground" and "Castle Doctrine" and concealed-weapons laws come up in the state legislatures. And we all know how they feel about citizens defending themselves from mutants instead of the police. James Brady himself reportedly said, "For defense of the home, that's why we have police departments." No doubt every last one of these nanny-statist control-freak asshats is going to seize on this man's quote, and the headline of that story, and say:

(begin style of Mr.Mackey from South Park)
"See? SEE? We keep tellin' you, m'kay? Guns in the hands of civilians'r bad...m'kay? They're all bloodthirsty Neanderthals, m'kay? And this guy proves we're right, m'kay, even if he was defending his family, from a bunch of savages, m'kay? Violence is only good when it's administered at the hands of the state, m'kay?"

(end style of Mr. Mackey from South Park)

How ironic that so many of those morons who spout crap like that last thing oppose the death penalty...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A Modest Proposal, and Sobering Thoughts...

...from The LawDog Files...
I've got people who have seen this kind of thing before telling me that the U.S.-Mexico border has turned into a classic Low Intensity Conflict. There are folks down there - both local law enforcement and citizens - who are buying camoflage clothing and asking around for advice regarding weapons and training in the use of said weapons.
...We've got the local citizenry getting fed up, while very vocal, very influential, very loud special interest groups have taken notice of the border problem, yet at the same time our Government refuses to take notice of same...
...If Congress and the Executive Branch don't get a grip on this thing right now, we're going to have a full-blown blood war on our hands with the next five to ten years.
And, speaking from extensive personal experience, when your local good citizens start militarizing, you're a hellua lot closer to the five year mark than you are the ten.

Something to think about the next time you see the President spouting off about family values not stopping at the border, or some Chamber of Commerce-type blowhard whining that his supply of cheap labor would dry up if we finally got serious about protecting our borders. Thomas Friedman writes regularly in his columns about what he perceives to be the need to raise our gas prices up to European levels to force Americans to get serious about conservation and energy independence. You could make the same argument about the industries in which high numbers of illegals are employed -- get rid of them, by way of toughening up border security, and deal with the ensuing rise in prices of the goods and services coming from said industries.
Of course, this seems to be another of those "third rails" of American politics, along with Social Security -- touch it and you die politically. Of course, we all know what's behind it -- the growing, highly coveted Hispanic vote and the activist groups. Just as the blacks have grievance-mongers like the NAACP, the Hispanics have LULAC, La Raza (that's espanol for the race -- and people would call me a racist for daring to breach this subject), and more extreme groups like Aztlan, which advocate the re-conquest of the southwestern United States from Texas to California.
Now, as readers of this blog know, issues of arms are frequently discussed here...and here we go.
No doubt more than a few people would be aghast at the prospect of citizens in possession of military-style arms. (Hell, even my Ruger P89 with its 15-round magazines is regarded as a fraggin' "assault weapon" in some places!) We've all seen the usual suspects gnashing their teeth and wailing about "machine guns" (never mind the fact that the possession of a fully automatic weapon in this country is highly regulated), the vaunted .50-caliber rifle (you know, the one with which some malcontent fresh out of jihad school could shoot down a 747 or a B-52 at cruising speed and altitude *snort*) and the list goes on.
Well, looking at the LawDog's observations, one is left to ask -- just WHAT in the bloody hell are we supposed to do here? The Border Patrol is undermanned, underfunded and increasingly outgunned, year after year after year. Vast swaths of the budget are eaten by entitlements and pork. Some have suggested sending in the military to police the border, but then, again, there's the Hispanic voters who would spontaneously combust at even the thought of that, never mind the fact that the borders are open to ANYONE who manages to make it into Mexico, not just the natives looking for work. (Can you say "Middle Eastern terrorist with a suitcase nuke"? I knew you could!)
My question is: What would be so wrong with allowing civilians to possess military-style arms and defend the borders with them? There are those who would decry such a proposal as unworkable, but really, what's unworkable -- and intolerable -- is the status quo. .50-caliber rifles? Full-auto weapons? Yes, and yes -- maybe even both in one, with a few Browning M2s (that's .50-cal ma-sheeeeeen guns, for you novices out there) thrown in for the rows with the drug traffickers, coyotes and such. Grenade launchers? "How many you need, sir? Delivered today before 12, gratis!"
Maybe that's a bit extreme to some...but what are we going to be saying, for example, the morning after downtown Chicago is leveled and rendered uninhabitable for the next 500 years? What if laymen with military-level arms patrolling the border could prevent such a ghastly occurrence? Our future as a nation is at stake here. And if the federales won't let us acquire the means to defend our borders ourselves, then they need to get off their derrieres and pony up the dough to do it themselves -- as they are compelled to do anyway by the Constitution of the United States. I fear for the future...

Friday, March 17, 2006

My hand still hurts after a box of .357 Magnum with my Ruger SP101, but now I don't feel so bad...

A couple of weeks ago, the GeekWithA.45 ruminated at length on his backup gun, a Smith & Wesson 642 LS .38 Special, with a 2-inch barrel. Long and short of it, he felt like he was leaving some performance on the table by not having the option of loading the gun with .357 Magnum. After he'd done a little research, he found this, at
.38 Special +P, 135 gr.: 860 ft/sec
.357 Magnum, 135 gr.: 990 ft/sec

Now, your typical .357 Mag cartridge, at that weight (125-135 gr.) is loaded to about 1450 ft/sec, measured out of a 4-inch barrel, one of the fastest defensive sidearm cartridges out there. .38 Special, not so fast.
Normal load is about 850 ft/ sec for the same weight, around 945 ft/sec for +P. Now, it looked like not a whole lot of advantage was gained by being able to load .357 Magnum. (Incidentally, the Geek later found out the loads he was looking at were underpowered.)
Now here's where my interest in that particular topic comes in. I have a Ruger SP101, with the 2.25-inch barrel. My typical outing with it consists of a box of .38 Special, and a box of .357 Magnum. .38 Special ain't so bad, but after the box of .357 Mag, I have this nagging pain in my wrist for a bit. And while I am shooting, yeah, it hurts. You have to have a death grip and a half on that thing or you're gonna end up shooting a bird out of a tree! Yes, that was hyperbole, but that little SP101 does indeed have a ferocious kick to it when it's loaded with .357 Magnum. And I would hate to think that I was dealing with that kick and that LOUD BANG! and getting jack in return. So off I went to Google and went looking for some ballistics data for the SP101. And here's
what I found...

...the Remington 125-grain jacketed hollow point...actually did pretty well in the 2-inch Ruger, reaching an impressive 1,357 feet per second.
Now, considering the Remington 125-grain JHP is loaded to 1,450 ft/sec, that's pretty good out of that little 2-inch barrel. (The link escapes me, but I could have sworn I saw this same load chronographed out of the 2.25" barrel at 1,378 ft/sec.) You still end up with about 90% of the energy the .357 imparts on whatever it hits at its rated velocity...assuming, of course, you're not more than a few feet away from your intended target. Which I'd really like to be, due to the aforementioned kick. I do indeed feel better now...just keep me away from the Ruger Super Redhawk, in .480 Ruger with the 2.5" barrel...

Lonestar: The Air Supply of Country Music

It's rodeo time in Houston, and RodeoHouston rolls on tonight with the featured musical act being Lonestar. There was a rather amusing blurb in today's Houston Chronicle:
The Tennessee band with the Texas name has, over the past 12 years, moved its sound further away from the classic country that defined it early on. In the process, Lonestar has pulled in millions of fans with its pop-tinged country fare like Amazed and My Front Porch Looking In.
Well, I don't know about that whole "classic country" sound that "defined it early on." I didn't go buy Lonestar's first couple of cds, but from what I heard of them sounded like what they've been doing all along, although with the schlock-o-meter turned down from what it is now. As for the millions of fans they've pulled in with the bubble-gum dreck they've been doing as of late...well, I daresay it's fans like that who are the reason mainstream country music is in the sorry shape it's in. Many people will say that Lonestar, Tim, Faith, etc. are "a different kind of country." I guess you could say that -- if you called that kind what it really is, "country music for people who don't like country music." I've heard Lonestar called the Air Supply of country music, and with songs like "Smile," Not A Day Goes By," and "Let's Be Us Again," that charaterization is quite difficult to dispute. And the likes of "My Front Porch Looking In" and "Mr. Mom" catapulted these guys into a heretofore-unknown level of suck. Cross Canadian Ragweed frontman Cody Canada's comments come to mind:

Nobody wants to hear about you being drunk and losing everything. They want to know how snappy you dance...Some of that music — the majority of it, I guess — just doesn’t have traction. I’m about to have a kid, but if I write a song about sippy cups and being Mr. Mom, shoot me.
Yes, indeed. When the Dixie Chicks made their infamous comments on that London stage in the run-up to Gulf War II, I remember thinking, "if I was gonna be ashamed of anything being from Texas, it'd be the band Lonestar." I know they were referred to in the Chron article as "the Tennessee band with the Texas name," but as I recall, they (or at least a number of their members) hail from the Dallas area. Maybe that was just John Rich. It would be fitting, as he seemed to be the only thing in the band that kept them from going completely over the bubble-gum pop cliff. How ironic he's since become one-half of the biggest joke in "country" music since Eilleen Lange came rolling down the pike 11 years ago. They oughta change their name. Let a real Texas country band have the name. Of course, the band that has the name now has arguably tainted it forever, or at least a long, long time...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Rod Blagojevich's Demented Puppetmaster

Bill Whittle said, in one of his essays, "I should spend an hour a day prostrate and thanking God I was born an American." Those of us who are not gun owners in Illinois should spend another hour a day prostrate and thanking God for that, as well. From the Illinois State Rifle Association web site:
In a statement delivered yesterday, a highly agitated [Richard] Daley [mayor of Chicago] demanded that the state's 1.5 million law-abiding firearm owners trek to Chicago to appear before him and explain why their firearms should not be banned and confiscated.
Why, indeed. My money says Daley and his puppet Rod Blagojevich (the gov. of Illinois) wouldn't understand this, but this is what I'd say to him:

"Because, you would-be tyrant, better, wiser, more moral men than you fought and died -- pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor -- to see to it that the balance of power between the citizens and their government remains even. I am not your servant -- you are mine. Why should my firearms not be banned or confiscated? Because it is my birthright, my natural right as a human being to have them, once again, a right that better men than you have made the highest sacrifice to protect. I have broken no laws, I have no evil thoughts, I am a peaceble individual. It is neither mine nor my fellow gun owners' fault that your ways of controlling the mutants who prey on your defenseless subjects have failed, and failed utterly. And it's not our fault that you have your head stuck so far up your statist ass that you can't figure that out."

Some might think that harsh, but really, so what? If Daley and his puppet get their way with this "assault weapons" ban, then what's next? A total, UK-style ban on handguns statewide? Really, where would it end? And Daley and his puppet have thus far completely ignored the gauntlet the Illinois firearm manufacturers threw down in saying they'll leave the state if Daley's "assault weapons" ban is passed. The cards are on the table. Do Blagojevich and his master think Springfield, Rock River, Armalite, etc. are bluffing? Do they want to call it? Do the down-staters really mean that little to them? I guess it probably doesn't matter either way to them, because it's not their oxen that are being gored; it was a Chicago-area Democrat in the Illinois House that introduced the bill. (Of course, it would be a spectacle to end all spectacles to see 1.5 million gun owners marching on Chicago -- with their arms. Brings a tear of happiness to this gun owner's eye just thinkin' about it.) We'll see what happens. Let Springfield and all the rest of 'em come to Texas. We love their products here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

More Context on HCI Grades Vs. Real Crime Rates

In the last post, of course, we looked at the grades issued by the Organization Formerly known as HCI and the murder rates in Washington and Houston, two places with almost diametrically opposed grades and gun laws. Some will say more than just the murder rate needs to be considered. Which, of course, is true, as more crimes than just murder (i.e., rape and robbery) may be facilitated with guns. So, let's look at them. From the sources cited in the last post:

2004 Rapes
Washington: 218, or 39.3 per 100,000
Houston: 908, or 44.4 per 100,000

2004 Robberies:
Washington: 3,057, or 552.2 per 100,000
Houston: 10,182, or 498.3 per 100,000

2004 Aggravated Assaults:
Washington: 3,863, or 697.9 per 100,000
Houston: 12,065, or 590.4 per 100,000

2004 Total Violent Crimes (incl. homicide):
Washington: 7,336, or 1,325.3 per 100,000
Houston: 23,427 or 1164.0 per 100,000

Washington leads Houston in all those categories, with the exception of rape. The total violent crime rate of Washington is 13.8 percent higher than that of Houston. And even with the fact that the murder rate in Houston is lower than that of Washington, it's more than a little short-sighted to focus just on violence perpetrated with guns, especially in light of the numerous studies on defensive gun uses (Lott, Kleck, the Clinton Justice Department -- certainly no friend of the American gun owner, etc.) that show the numbers of them to be at the very least in the hundreds of thousands. I am firmly convinced that if the Bradys, et al. really gave a damn about making America a less violent place, they would among the most vigorous, unconditional advocates of the natural right to arms, as opposed to the disarmament shills they are.

UPDATE: Numbers had to be run again, and yes, they were double- and triple-checked...boy, do I ever feel like a heel...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

HCI Grades Efforts, No Word On Actual Results

A few days ago, the Organization Formerly Known As Handgun Control (better known as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Ownership...Gun Violence, excuse me) released their annual state-by-state ratings -- "report cards," if you will -- based on each state's gun laws. My state, the great state of Texas, got a D-minus, and here are just a few of the reasons...

-- No monthly limit on gun sales; i.e, no "one-handgun-a-month" law
-- No bans on "assault weapons," whatever the hell those are...
-- The fact that Texas is a shall-issue state when it comes to concealed-carry permits
-- Texas prohibits its cities from suing the gun manufacturers & distributors
-- No license required to buy a handgun
-- No gun registration requirements

I could go on and on, but, well, you get the general idea. We can buy as many firearms as we damn well please, we can carry them just about anywhere we fancy (if we pass the government's test), we don't hold the gunmakers & distributors responsible for things other people do with guns, and the Texas Department of Public Safety doesn't have a central registry of gun owners, like they do in, say, the crime-free utopia of Illinois (or, more accurately, crime-free utopia known as the People's Republic of Chicago).
The Organization Formerly Known As Handgun Control gave Washington, D.C a B-plus. Now, many of us politically-minded gunnies know this already, but the gun laws in our nation's capital are unbelievably strict. Every firearm must be licensed and registered. Rifles and shotguns are required to be disassembled and locked up when not in use. The possession of a handgun by a D.C. resident is forbidden. The Organanization Formerly Known As Handgun Control, of course, applauds these measures; the only thing they saw wrong with the draconian D.C. gun laws was that they could be repealed by Congress. Now, you'd think that with the strict laws in D.C., and the not-so-strict laws in Texas, D.C. would be the kite-flying utopia Michael Moore portrayed Baghdad as in Fahrenheit 9/11, and Houston would be like Dodge City on the Third Coast, or, if you prefer, (pre-2003) Baghdad on the Bayou.
Well, guess what? In three words, it ain't so. Some figures

Population, July 1, 2004 (according to
Washington, D.C.: 553,523
Houston: 2,012,626

2004 Murders
Washington, D.C.: 198 (
Metropolitan Police Department)
Houston: 272 (
Based on 2004 FBI Crime Reports)

2004 Murder Rate (computed using above figures)
Washington, D.C.: 35.771 per 100,000
Houston: 13.515 per 100,000

So there you go. Washington D.C.'s murder rate is almost three times that of Houston, yet the Organization Formerly Known as Handgun Control is effectively saying that D.C.'s disarmament of its citizens is the way to go. It seems to me that the Organization Formerly Known as Handgun Control is issuing these "grades" to the states solely on the laws themselves, with absolutely no regard for how the laws actually make the citizens safer -- in other words, states make the grade on effort, not results -- "They're tryin'! They're tryin' reeeal haaard! What they're doin' ain't workin' worth a damn, but they're tryin' and that's what really counts!" Anyone over 18 should know that it's results -- not efforts or intentions -- on which our capabilities are ultimately judged. I've long believed that the Bradys and their cohorts live in a fantasy world. And I believe that even more now.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Another way to cut back on abortions...or, Reason 1,456,348 that Disarmamament Is Wrong And Immoral

From today's Houston Chronicle, a letter from Annette Burrhus-Clay, executive director of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (second letter on the page):

...creating a rape exception to sweeping abortion bans would do a disservice to many victims, because few victims report the crime or seek medical attention.
...In Texas, only one in five rape victims reports the crime. Too many survivors are embarrassed or afraid of their attackers, and don't tell anyone about their assault — not even their doctors. If abortions are only available to womif reproductive services (from emergency contraception to abortion) are only available to rape survivors, some women may falsely claim that they were assaulted. An even deeper cynicism than we see today would develop toward women and girls who come forward and say that they were raped.
In addition to jaded questions about her morality and judgment, a victim would be subjected to the insinuation that she is only reporting a rape to access abortion services. That is cynicism we can do without.

While I will admit she has a point, there seems to be one thing that always seems to be overlooked, or even advised against, when the topic of rape, its consequences, or its prevention comes up -- armed resistance. It's often said that "the attacker might take your gun and use it on you." While this is undoubtedly true, there are ways to guard oneself against that, no matter one's gender, and we all know what they alert, on the lookout, and, ultimately...
Be aware of the fact that there are evil people out there capable of and willing to commit unspeakable evil deeds on your person, and act and prepare accordingly.
It's often been said you're not necessarily armed just because you have a gun -- you also must know how to use it and prepare yourself for the possibility of having to use it. However many women there are out there who are armed and prepared to defend themselves with that lethal force in the event of evil being visited upon them, just one woman being unprepared is an unacceptably high number. Not every woman (nor every man, for that matter) should be armed...but women as a whole would be much better off if they all rid themselves of their fear of guns; accepted the fact that lethal force is sometimes acceptable -- even mandatory -- to prevent further harm from coming to themselves or their fellow humans; and, once again, acted and prepared themselves accordingly.

There is no such thing as an armed victim.

Free us from the Bonds...or rather, their emasculated alter egos...

Wow. Who knew James Bond's alter egos -- every stinking last one of them -- were such poseurs?
David Codrea, of the always excellent blog The War On Guns, writes a column this month for GUNS magazine on the subject of how each and every one of the tools who has played James Bond through the years is, more or less, an advocate of civilian disarmament. I would recommend you read the whole thing, but I was really most disappointed in the revelation that Sean Connery was instrumental in pushing through the effective disarmament of the British people after the Dunblane massacre. Mr. Codrea writes that Connery said, (in ads on the BBC, I gather), "It is said that a total ban on handguns, including .22s, would take away innocent pleasure from thousands of people...Is that more or less pleasure than watching your child grow up?"
I suppose some might think I beat certain issues to death, but still, I have to say, this is, as the British would say, bollocks. I know logic and reasoning are in dreadfully short supply among the glitterati, but I really expected better from Mr. Connery than a pandering presentation of an outrageously false choice. If it indeed was a choice between being able to shoot guns and watching your child grow up, then shooting wouldn't really be such an "innocent pleasure," now would it? There is (and was) absolutely no reason the British people cannot watch their children grow up and, in the process, teach them the values, virtues and life lessons inherent to the handling of arms -- yes, Sarah and Jim, with the actual handling of arms. (See Eric S. Raymond's excellent essay Ethics from the Barrel of a Gun for some great thoughts on this.) The anti-gunners will keep saying we should follow their lead, but the fact is that the British people, driven purely by emotion, sold their freedom, their natural right of self-defense, down the river for a false sense of security. And they're paying the price for it now. That's been said many times before, but I just find it amazing that people who would play such a character as Double-Aught-Seven would have such an aversion to one of his main tools, let alone the tool being trusted to the hands of someone who doesn't act under the auspices of the government. It reeks of hypocrisy. Such is nothing new from the Hollywood crowd, but I know I will never look at James Bond the same way again...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

It's all about personal responsibility...

Parade Magazine comes in the Sunday editions of the Beaumont Enterprise, Houston Chronicle and many other newspapers. One of its features is a Q&A column from one Marilyn vos Savant. In today's edition, a reader asked Ms. vos Savant if she thought it was consistent treatment for fast-food outlets and gun manufacturers to have immunity from lawsuits while the tobacco industry didn't have that immunity.
Her reply was, to paraphrase, consistent with what? Food and guns can be used properly and without abuse while tobacco cannot. I found her answer to be quite surprising, especially in regards to firearms, as so many people in the media think the complete opposite. I must take issue with her statement that tobacco cannot be used properly, though. It can be and most often is used's just that proper use of tobacco leads too many people to an early grave, and that's the cost they pay for the high it provides. I guess vos Savant supported the '90s government crusade against the tobacco industry. And that's all fine and good -- but here's the thing. The same reasoning that led various government entities to file suits against the tobacco industry, later led them to file all the lawsuits against the gun industry -- they were both seen as a public health problem by the leftists in charge, exacerbated by deceptive advertising (in the case of tobacco) and negligent distribution (in the case of guns -- I personally think that's a load of crap). Personal responsibility seemed to be completely removed from the equation, just as it was when Stella Liebeck sued McDonald's after she spilled hot coffee on her leg.
I used to support squeezing the tobacco companies dry, too. But in my case, it was more personal. I lost someone I loved very much -- my grandfather -- to cigarettes. The pain of that loss was bad enough, but as I remembered the tobacco companies sending him a letter thanking him for being a loyal smoker, it just made it that much worse. I remember the day he died, as my tears flowed, I mentioned that letter to my parents..."a loyal smoker...and look where it got him..." I wanted to see those bastards pay, oh yes. Personal responsibility wasn't a foreign concept to me then, but I was just blinded by emotions, in addition to being young and stupid already. I was too young to vote back then, and even after I got a job and I turned 18, my main priorities as far as my money went, were keeping gas in the truck (that my grandfather left me) and buying a cd with every paycheck...not donating to any kind of political campaign that aimed to squeeze a company for misuse of a legal product by an independent third party. I thank God for that now...because in the aftermath of the cigarette lawsuits, came the gun lawsuits, and I don't even want to think about how much of each of my gun purchases has gone to attorney's fees for frivolous lawsuits filed against the gun manufacturers. It doesn't hurt so much to admit to myself now that it was my grandfather's choice to smoke those cigarettes, and, ultimately, his choice to go to that early grave. Lord knows I miss him terribly and wish he was still around, but those cigarettes were one of the things he enjoyed. I know smoking costs the government money...but ultimately, that's OUR money. Money you and I pay in various taxes, every day. What needs to be done in the case of tobacco is to get people off it by showing them what it does, and showing them that they're paying for their habit -- and their fellow smokers' habits -- in more ways than one. I have no doubt that once they saw they were paying out the nose and mouth for that habit, more than a few would stop it. It may not get us back as much money as we've spent, as fast as we've spent it, but ultimately, that's the right thing to do...not bleed the tobacco companies, or any other company for that matter, for making a lawful product that many people enjoy.
And those of you who do support such lawsuits, should could be YOUR politically incorrect pet product or habit they come after next...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

A few words on courage...real, bona-fide courage...

As the header says, just pull up a seat...
What is courage? Well, beyond the dictionary definition, it's probably safe to say that one's a little bit nebulous. Subjective, even. You ask ten different people what courage is, and you're gonna get ten different answers. When I think of courage, I think of many things, and here are a few...

The Stand in Tiananmen Square, April-June 1989. Student-led demonstrations against the Chinese government were brutally suppressed by the Chinese military. Estimates of deaths ranged from 400 to 2,600, injuries from 7,000 to 10,000. Courage was captured, I daresay perfectly, in this image, taken by Jeff Widener of the Associated Press. Even if that image was purely symbolic, it still said so much -- a single protestor, single-handedly stopping the advance of a tank column, simply by just standing it in its way.

Courage, Example No. 2: The Civil Rights Movement in the United States, starting with Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott. Just a simple Southern seamstress, with her quiet, subtle act of defiance, sparked the epic battle for civil rights and equality, that this nation might do a better job of living up to the Declaration of Independence's bold contention that "all men are created equal." You can add to this all the other brave souls who risked everything and even gave their lives to see to it that America lived up to its creed.

Courage, Example No. 3: The Warsaw Ghetto, 1943. Faced with deportation to the concentration camps and certain death, Jews in the Polish capital rose up and fought against the Germans who had come to take them to their deaths. Some 750 to 1,000 Jews, with smuggled-in and air-dropped weaponry -- guns and explosives -- fought off over 2,000 German troops and SS officers for about four months; the uprising was, of course, eventually crushed by the Germans and some 50,000 residents of the ghetto were sent off to the death camps.

Now, with those examples firmly entrenched in your mind, let's take a look at what many other people think of as courage. *ahem*...

No. 4. March 2003. Natalie Maines -- the frontwoman for the Dixie Chicks, one of the most successful bands in American country music history, with 15-million-plus copies of their three studio albums sold -- says, before a largely sympathetic audience in merry olde England, "...we are ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas."

Let's see here. In the first two examples, we had people risking and sacrificing their lives, and one could say, their fortunes, even (and NOT the monetary kind -- this one is much more valuable) for what they believed in. In No. 3, an oppressed people stood up and declared quite loudly that they would not go gently into that good night, that they would go down fighting and retain their dignity rather than surrender to the barbarians who intended to slaughter them. And in the last example, we have...someone who makes TONS of money, who arguably has more of it now than her children's grandchildren could ever spend, daring to criticize the president of her home front of an audience who largely agreed with every word she said. How utterly...pedestrian...
I am fully aware that Ms. Maines had some idea of how her comments might be received back in the good old U.S. of A....and, well, pardonnez mon francais, but in the words of the great Merle Haggard, "if someone said I ever gave a damn, they damn sure told you wrong." I didn't agree with the backlash the Chicks received. I still have all my Chicks cds and still listen to them. But...courage? This may be the raving right-winger in me, but it just seems to me that the Chicks' actions on that London stage and in the aftermath, leading up to this day, are nothing more than the symptoms of a full-blown case of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Real courage would have required coherent, reasonable and logical arguments that addressed the other side's arguments, and what I saw from many supporters of the Chicks was just more of the same pedal-to-the-metal leftist moonbattery that is already in plentiful supply at sites like the Daily "Screw Them" Kos and the Democratic Underground.
Courage? More like abject, utterly cheap pandering. The comment was made right before they went into Bruce Robison's "Travelin' Soldier," itself an exquisite, heart-rending tale of a soldier going off to the jungles of Southeast Asia. I support the war in Iraq, but I can still see quite clearly how Bruce Robison's song resonates today, even though it speaks of a different war in a different time. I remember the first time I heard the Dixie Chicks' rendition of my car coming home from work in the heat of Southeast Texas in mid-July, it gave me chills. Songs like that speak loud enough all by themselves, and it was more than a little crass for the Chicks to do what they did, even though they did believe what they said. Courage? Much more courage like that and this country is most assuredly doomed...

A sad more ways than one

Little did I know it, but yesterday was the 10-year anniversary of the Dunblane school massacre -- those of us who keep up with gun politics remember this as what prompted the UK to ban private ownership of handguns. The quote from Kenneth Burroughs, author of the War Universe, comes to mind.

After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it. I sure as hell wouldn't want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.

And I for one am damn glad I don't live in such a society. As a gun owner who abides fully by the laws and keeps his guns locked up (well, except for the .45 beside the bed), I for the life of me cannot understand why I should bear ANY responsibility for the acts of mutants such as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, or, for that matter, anyone who commits a crime with a handheld weapon. It seems to me that personal responsibility is an anachronism for far too many people, most notably the treasonous bastards at the Brady Campaign (formerly known as Handgun Control), the Violence Policy Center and the various and sundry other gun prohibitionist groups out there. God help us if ever we go down that will be opening the gates of the Sanctuary just a little bit wider.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Yet more idiocy from the stars...

...this time, from Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, whom some call the reigning King and Queen of Country Music. We'll leave aside how sad a commentary that is on the state of mainstream Nashville "country" music, and just look at their comments. From ABC News:

"To me, there's a lot of politics being played and a lot of people trying to put people in bad positions in order to further their agendas," McGraw, a 38-year-old native of Delhi, La., said after ABC News Radio's Dan Gordon asked about Katrina.
"When you have people dying because they're poor and black or poor and white, or because of whatever they are — if that's a number on a political scale — then that is the most wrong thing. That erases everything that's great about our country."

Now what does one say to this? Me, I say Timmy Boy is full of what comes out of the bull's posterior end. The people in New Orleans didn't die because of their color or socioeconomic status. They died for lack of preparation, on their part and the part of the LOCAL and STATE governments. No doubt many of you have seen the infamous pictures of what's come to be known as the Ray Nagin Memorial Motor Pool -- some 400-500 Orleans Parish school buses, unused school buses, sitting in I don't know how many feet of water. I guess when you get to make as much money as someone like Tim McGraw does, and you're married to somebody like Faith Hill -- who, despite my intense dislike of her music after the Faith cd, I will admit, is pretty good-lookin' -- you tend to forget that bad things happen. But despite what Timmy Boy and his wife think, bad things are continuing to happen. Yes, I am a member of
Bill Whittle's Grey Tribe, and I make no apologies for that. I've come to accept that bad things happen and are sometimes beyond my control, and, as the peerless Mr. Whittle describes the philosophy of the Grey Tribe, "...beyond the control of the smartest and best people we have, even beyond the awesome, subtle and unlimited control of the simpering, sub-human village idiot from Texas." Tim McGraw apparently doesn't agree with the last part of that philosophy, though...
McGraw specifically criticized President Bush. "There's no reason why someone can't go down there who's supposed to be the leader of the free world … and say, 'I'm giving you a job to do and I'm not leaving here until it's done. And you're held accountable, and you're held accountable, and you're held accountable.
"'This is what I've given you to do, and if it's not done by the time I get back on my plane, then you're fired and someone else will be in your place. '"
Well, that all sounds fine and dandy, but there's one little kink in that hose -- actually, it's a really big kink. The cluster-copulation that post-Katrina New Orleans became was largely, if not overwhelmingly, due to the stupefying incompetence, corruption and malfeasance of the local and state governments. New Orleans, and you could probably say Southeastern Louisiana in general, was more or less a huge mess government-wise long before Hurricane Katrina came rolling in last August, and these overpaid stars can talk all day long about the racial and social inequalities that Lady Katrina exposed -- but it's patently dishonest and morally and intellectually bankrupt to point the finger at President Bush and not point at least as many, if not more, fingers at the corrupt individuals the people of New Orleans chose to lead them. Whether New Orleans will live or die has yet to be seen, and there are things the federales can do, but whether New Orleans' fate is just a reprieve or a phoenix-like rise from the ashes is going to depend 100% on the people of New Orleans and the people they elect to lead them. Such is the nature of the beast of federalist system. I guess Tim was just daydreaming the day they taught the concept of federalism in government class.
And the idiocy doesn't stop there. From Mrs. Tim McGraw...
"I fear for our country if we can't handle our people [during] a natural disaster."
Hey, um, Faith? Guess what? There was another real big natural disaster that hit just down the coast from New Orleans barely four weeks after Katrina. Rita? Does that ring a bell? Judas Priest, I know celebrities are by and large not intellectuals, but this level of airheadedness is just astonishing. You wanna know why the gov. is so damned inefficient, Faith and Tim? It's because over the years it's gotten so big because of all the goodies it gives people that you seem to think they're entitled to! In fact, I saw an article just today in the Beaumont Enterprise on the difficulty businesses are having getting adequate staffing.
Owners and salesman of The Boat Ramp in Port Neches are trying to install motors and electronics. Parts people are doing mechanic work, said Colleen Mitchell, the parts supervisor.
"The one mechanic we got is stretched to the limit," she said.
They're down three people and nobody wants to come in for an interview, she said.

The response she's getting from candidates is "I'm enjoying not working now."
Enjoying not working now? Far be it from me to say that all these folks are living on the dole, but it's more than a little difficult for me not to believe that more than a few of them are. (We all remember from our childhoods how easy it was spending other people's money...) I remember well my own post-Rita experiences...I had my last paycheck from my job before the storm, and the FEMA money and some assistance from my employer. And I won't lie -- I did enjoy the break from work. But I still watched my finances and went back to work as soon as I could. I know everyone's situation is different, but somebody needs to tell the people who are capable of working to get off their derrieres and go to work. As I write this it's been almost 6 months since Rita hit. Time to go back to work, folks, and support yourselves like you did before Rita rolled through...but I am gettin' off track here...
As far as "handl[ing] our people during a natural disaster"...I don't remember the exact number right offhand, but I think around 5,000,000 people evacuated the upper Texas coast -- from Beaumont-Port Arthur to Port Lavaca, and that includes Houston-Galveston, the 10th-largest metropolitan area in this great land -- in anticipation of Rita's landfall. Unless my memory fails me, less than 100 people died due to Hurricane Rita in Texas and Louisiana, and that figure includes the elderly Houston-area assisted-living facility residents who perished in the bus explosion south of Dallas. No widespread looting, no raping, no BLATANTLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL confiscation of firearms from law-abiding citizens by the very people SWORN to uphold that other words, everything was pretty much under control. And furthermore, the people didn't have to be handled, because they pretty much controlled themselves. It's not the president's fault that post-Katrina New Orleans became the disaster it did. And we here in Southeast Texas don't owe our resilience and rebuilding to President Bush. We're taking care of business ourselves.
Once again, readers, this is one more reason I love people like George Strait and Alan Jackson...I hate it, HATE it, when stars use their fame as a bully pulpit to spout off on things they know little to nothing about. Shut up and sing, damn you!