One of the great ironies of modern US politics is, in great measure, the same people talking about “defunding” or outright disbanding the police are also the ones who just recently were saying that only the police should have certain weapons, whether certain types of guns or guns in general.
This is utterly ridiculous.
My position: Police officers should be forbidden from using any weapons or equipment prohibited to ordinary citizens in their jurisdiction.
Justification: With the sole exception of folk going out to deliberately target police officers, a very small fraction of all the violent crime out there, every threat the police face is faced first by ordinary citizens. Any arguments about the police “needing” certain weapons applies equally well to the ordinary folk who face the threat first. As for other equipment, perhaps the police have a greater need for things like fingerprint kits and the like since the police are specifically tasked with investigations of crimes, it also doesn’t hurt anything to allow private citizens to have them as well. Laws against unnecessarily disturbing a crime scene (Doctrine of emergency applies against that) and tampering with evidence are all the shield against misuse that is necessary.
Note: My personal preference is to resolve the difference by reducing restrictions on what the law abiding “ordinary” citizens can have rather than restricting what the police may have. I simply worded this one to come at the concept from the other side.
On July 7, 1798, the United States Congress annulled the Treaty of Alliance we had signed with France during the American Revolution, leading to the undeclared “Quasi-War” with France.
This came as a result of the XYZ affair. In July 1797, three Diplomats from the US: Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, John Marshall (who would later become the fourth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court), and Elbridge Gerry traveled to France to negotiate problems that threatened to lead to war between the US and France. Among these problems were the French seizure of neutral vessels that traded with Great Britain, with whom they were then at war. Great Britain had likewise been seizing neutral ships trading with France but the US had worked out an accommodation with Great Britain via the Jay Treaty.
When they attempted to seek these negotiations the French Foreign Minister Talleyrand demanded bribes and a loan before formal negotiations could begin. While this was common practice in Continental European diplomacy to the Americans it was highly offensive. Despite nearly a year of attempts to meet for official negotiations Pinckney and Marshall left France in the Spring of 1798 without ever engaging in any formal negotiations. Gerry, hoping to avoid all-out war as Talleyrand had threatened to declare war if he left, remained until someone with more authority could replace him. It was not until later in 1798 that Talleyrand sent representatives to the Hague to open negotiations with Williams Van Murray, allowing Gerry to return home in October of 1798
Documents released by the Adams administration, in which the names of French Diplomats Hottinguer, Bellamy, and Hauteval were replaced by the letters “X”, “Y”, and “Z” respectively, leading to the name “The XYZ affair” being attached to the incident caused outrage in the US. Federalists used the incident as an excuse to build up the US’s military. (Never let a good crisis go to waste.) Considerable anger was directed at Jeffersonian Democratic Republicans for their pro-French stance and Gerry (still at that time in France) although himself non-partisan, was attacked as having significant responsibility for the commission’s failure.
The upshot of this outrage was that Congress annulled our Treaty of Alliance with France on June 7, 1798. This began the “Quasi-war”. Neither the United States nor France declared war on each other but for a period of two years they fought naval engagements attacking each others shipping in the West Indies. The nascent US Navy along with 365 privateers (privately owned vessels armed and authorized via “Letters of Marque and Reprisal” to fight our nation’s enemies) fared surprisingly well against the French.
John Adams, President at the time, steered a “middle path”, avoiding the outright war that some among his own Federalist party and those of the Democratic-Republicans who tended to favor France which did, after all, style itself as a republic (despite being radically different from the US Republic of the day). On the Federalist side, most notably, Alexander Hamilton favored war and expected in such a war to be the field commander of US Army forces that would be used to attack holdings of the French and their Spanish allies in the Americas. In this he had the backing of George Washinton, who would have been the titular head of the army but, being at this time too old for field command, his chosen Lieutenant–Hamilton–would have actually commanded in the field. This would have dramatically furthered Hamilton’s own political ambitions.
On the Democratic-Republican side, Jefferson strongly favored making peace with France and even alliance. Strongly pro-Republican and anti-Monarchist, he saw in France an extension of the same revolutionary impulse that had created the United States. Even the Reign of Terror, over by the time of the quasi-war, did not sway him from this view. (Both of Jefferson’s and Hamilton’s role in the Quasi-war is covered in David McCullough’s biography of John Adams.)
In the end, Adams’ middle course succeeded. The success of the US and Royal Navies (the Royal Navy was also operating against the French in that area although not in any joint capacity with the United States), along with the more conciliatory position of First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte, severely reduced the activity of the French forces in the West Indies. The Convention of 1800, on September 30 of that year, ended the Quasi-war.
Yesterday was the Fourth of July, Independence Day. And a lot of people are saying that it’s a horrible holiday, we’re a horrible nation (and were worse then), and it’s horrible to celebrate it. Celebrating the Fourth of July is, they say, celebrating White Supremacy. It’s celebrating slavery. It’s celebrating the horrible, dishonest, violent way white Europeans treated the American natives.
I say that’s utter cark.
Yes, the nascent United States was not without big, glaring flaws. Yes, we had slaves. Yes, the white European settlers often thought of themselves as superior to every other people’s on the planet. Yes, the way the natives were treated was terrible. So stipulated. But the chain of events set in motion by our declaring Independence from Great Britain has led to the greatest birth of Freedom and prosperity this world has ever known.
In a nice, neat, ideal world we could have gotten it perfect from the start. There would have been no chattel slavery. Men and women would have had equal rights, including suffrage, from the start. We would have negotiated peacefully with the indigenes and come to equitable arrangements for land and resources. (Some of the founders of the original colonies made a point to buy the land they used from natives and generally lived in peace with their indigenous neighbors–until somebody from a neighboring colony started behaving differently. See the founding of Rhode Island as just one example.)
But the real world is messy. It’s always been messy. There’s no reason to believe it will ever be anything but messy. So, yeah, there was a lot wrong with the colonies that declared their Independence from Britain in July of 1776, but there was a lot right too. And a smaller step than we would, in hindsight perhaps prefer, it was a move in the right direction.
So give thanks and praise to whatever gods their might be that those learned men in Philadelphia in July of 1776 took the steps they did and brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated the the proposition that all men (in the old sense of “humankind”) are created equal.
Contrary to what he might think, I cheered the sentiment (oh, not the stuff he went on to say, but his desire to own a gun).
Are you a law abiding citizen? If so, then I _want_ you to have a gun. I don’t care if you’re black, white, or purple with green polka dots. If you are a law abiding American I want you to be able to have a gun if you choose.
I don’t care if you have an innie or an outie, whether you have an innie and think you would be better with an outie (or vice versa or anything in between). I don’t care how you like to connect your particular arrangement of Tab A with Slot B, or whatever arrangement of tabs and slots you prefer (so long as it’s consensual). If you are a law abiding American I want you to be able to have a gun if you choose.
To paraphrase an old TV character, I don’t care if you eat bagels, burritos or French toast. I don’t care if you’re ancestors came across the land bridge from Siberia or got off the boat five years ago (minimum time living in the US to apply for citizenship). If you are a law abiding American, I want you to be able to have a gun.
I don’t care if you vote D, R, L, S, I, X, Y, Z, W, T, or F. I don’t care if you are rich, poor, or middle class. I don’t care if you own, rent, or shelter under an overpass. If you are a law abiding American, I want you to be able to have a gun if you choose.
Am I getting through to you here? I have only one requirement on my desire that you be able to have a gun if you choose, that’s “are you a law abiding American.”
And that’s not even as restrictive as it might seem. After all, those who are not law abiding can always get guns if they want them. No laws we pass can change that. Gun control in the US has been an abject failure every single time it has been tried. Every. Single. Time. Other countries? Well, ask for a documentable example of a country that had high violent crime, passed gun control, and ended up with low violent crime. It just doesn’t happen. And, no, Australia isn’t an example. Their violent crime rates were trending down before they passed their gun ban. They continued trending down at about the same average rate afterward. Some anti-gun folk pick a high point in the year to year random variation around the general trend before the ban to compare with a low point afterward to “prove” the gun ban reduced crime. But that’s okay. Some pro-gun people pick a low point before the ban and a high point afterward to “prove” that crime actually went up. The truth is that the ban had no discernible effect (except the rise in the use of homemade guns by criminals.)
If you are a law abiding American, I want you to be able to have a gun if you choose. I want to remove every possible restriction away from your ability to have a gun. I want the regulations and taxes that drive up the cost making guns harder to afford gone. I want the licensing and other restrictions that make it more difficult and troublesome to own a gun removed.
If you are a law abiding American, I want you to be able to have a gun if you choose.
And when you meet a real racist, sexist, transphobe, fascist, white supremacist, bigot of any stripe, or just plain ordinary garden-variety criminal, who puts you in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury, I want you to put several large holes in him both to stop his threat to you and “pour ecourager les autres.”
And if you expected anything different from me or my gun-owning friends then you are the one who needs to examine your assumptions.
All of the hand-wringing (and hand folding–see below) about the government telling us what we should do, what we must do (with Men with Gunstm ready to enforce that) over Winnie the Flu brought this post from a couple of years ago to mind.
The late Science Fiction writer Isaac Asimov had a great many short stories and a number of novels that involved humanoid robots. A common feature of most of these (there were a few exceptions) involved his “Three Laws of Robotics.”
A robot may not harm, nor through inaction allow to come to harm, a human.
A robot must obey the orders of a human so long as those orders do not violate the first law.
A robot must act to preserve its own existence provided that action does not violate either of the first two laws.
Most of the stories involved unexpected consequences of those laws or, in some cases, what happens if the laws are modified a bit. One story involved strengthening the third law a bit and weakening the second causing the robot to get caught in a loop requiring setting up a situation invoking the first to break it free.
The stories were basically upbeat. The robots, limited by their laws, a net positive to humanity.
And most of this relies on the robots being, on the whole, rather dim and not carrying those three laws to their ultimate nature. Yes, some robots were presented as quite intelligent–R. Daneel Olivaw of the original “Robot Novels” was a police detective fully equal to his human compatriots–they still were “dim” when it came to carrying out the laws to their fullest.
To show where those laws could lead consider Jack Williamson’s Humanoids as presented in the story “With Folded Hands.” The Humanoids’ Prime Directive was simple: “To serve and obey and guard men from harm.” Parse that and it’s basically the first two of Asimov’s laws of robotics. And while “To serve and obey” is placed before “guard men from harm” it becomes rapidly clear that the latter takes priority over the former.
The Humanoids offer their services for free. And they soon become very popular. And because they are interested in guarding men from harm they get jobs directing traffic and many other ways. But soon a darker side becomes apparent. Oh, they’re not trying to take over humanity to enslave or exterminate us or anything like that. No. They want to “protect” us.
Drive? Oh, no, it’s much too dangerous for a human to drive. Let me do it for you. No. I insist. I really insist.
The tools in your workshop? Too dangerous. You could lose a finger or put out an eye. No, these are much safer. You can play with this foam board. If you need any real furniture or anything like that, we’ll make it for you. That’s much safer.
Exploring? Oh, good heavens no. People get hurt, even killed exploring the unknown. Just stay here where it’s safe. I insist.
And so on, anything with the least component of risk, they are oh so sorry but you simply cannot be allowed to do that. They need to protect you don’t you know. The Humanoids didn’t want to enslave or exterminate humanity. They wanted to turn us into pampered pets, not allowed the least little bit of challenge or risk. And so the protagonist accepts his ride home “with folded hands” for there is nothing left to do.
Jack Williamson wrote this story in the aftermath of World War II. In interviews he said that it was with atomic weapons in mind, showing how some inventions turn out to be far more dangerous than ever imagined.
Personally, I think it speaks poignantly to the danger of government paternalism. Rules and restrictions designed to keep people “safe” not just advice where reasoning adults can make an informed decision for themselves but a governmental pat on the head saying “now, now. Daddy knows best.” Daddy knows best what you should drive. Daddy knows best what you should eat. Daddy knows best what you should drink. Daddy knows best what activities you can engage in. Oh, it starts “reasonably” enough. There are some things that are recklessly dangerous not just to the person doing them but to everyone around them. But it never stops there. There’s always some new “too dangerous to allow” activity. And one after that and another after that. And there’s no definitive stopping point, particularly once you go past “people will have to use resources to care for you” to “people will be sad” (had that one used against me about why drugs should remain illegal–people will be unhappy if you get harmed by drugs) as an excuse for further restrictions.
Jack Williamson gave us the Humanoids, insinuating themselves into society taking away all choice in the name of “safety.”
(Note: “Ice Follies” is my somewhat self-deprecating term for my ongoing attempt to learn to skate at the ripe old age of 59.)
The local rink finally opened again last week. I wasn’t able to go then, but I was able to go yesterday and today.
Back before the virus issue closed everything down I was working on my backward edges, backward crossovers, and two-foot spins. Basically working my way through the “Adult 5” curriculum. I also was just starting some preliminaries on trying to learn hockey stops which I’d missed in “Adult 4”. I wanted to see how much I’d lost in the interim with the enforced layoff.
First thing I noted is that I didn’t lose as much of my balance as I feared I might. I think the various one-leg partial squats and other exercises I do to build strength and suppleness in my legs might be helping with that. I did have a bit of an issue on front-back balance, occasionally catching the toe picks or “windmilling” to avoid falling over backward. Rink wasn’t terribly crowded so I was able to spend some time working the circle so I could work both directions. I played a bit with backward edges and they were shakier than they had been, but not too bad. I didn’t try backward crossovers. I think I want to get a bit more stable on those backward edges first. After some initial shakiness, I was able to do forward crossovers in both directions fine. When doing them, I don’t aim for power and speed. Instead I aim for “smooth and graceful.”
A perennial problem I have going backwards is getting my weight too far forward and dragging the toe picks. I’m not sure if there’s anything specific I need to do to correct that or if it’s just a matter of practice. (Any suggestions?)
In the end, I was able to skate for a good 35 minutes before fatigue caught up to me and I started getting dangerous–an accident waiting to happen and not being terribly patient. Before the layoff I’d been going a good hour in a session. At my age, conditioning falls off fast] in the absence of continued work.
Classes resume in mid-July. That gives me a little bit of time to get back up to speed before returning to them. And I hope I’ll be able to continue helping with the Snowplow Sams as I was doing before everything shut down.
I only wish I progressed as well as this young lady in my first year back.
I really need to get back into posting here regularly. Things have been insane at home so it’s tended to fall by the wayside.
Over in “Memories” on the Book of Faces, I saw this:
The Left never seems to be able to realize that a program or policy, any program or policy, was simply wrong. They always, _always, a.l.w.a.y.s. double down. If they ever acknowledge that things have gotten worse since the initiation of the policy their pat answer is “but it would have been much worse without…”.
There is literally no feedback to say whether a policy works or not. And without that checking, well, there are vastly more ways to be wrong than to be right, the result is a whole lot of wrong policies that turn into perpetual metaphorical millstones around people’s necks.
In the market, at least (if it’s actually allowed to operate) there _is_ feedback. If someone makes a mistake, puts forward a bad “solution” to a “problem”, well, people vote with their trade and take it elsewhere. If, however, someone comes up with a better solution (“better” in that more people prefer it) well, people again vote with their trade.
Now, what people actually prefer may not be what some particular individual or group of individuals like, say, political pundits think they _should_ prefer. Take an example. Back in the days when video cassette recorders were just coming out, there were two primary formats: Betamax and VHS. Now, many people claimed that Betamax was technically superior but somehow VHS “won” and became the de facto standard. However, as it happened while that was going on I was taking a TV repair correspondence course (which also covered video cassette recorders). One of the things I noticed. VHS tapes, at Standard Play, were a full two hours. Betamax were not (I don’t remember the exact length). It seems clear to me that the value of being able to stick a tape in and record a two hour movie off the television (as most movies were, with commercial breaks, edited to length for broadcast) without having to babysit it and hope to change tapes without missing anything was preferred to the image quality superiority of Betamax (my roommate in the AF had one and, yeah, it did provide a clearer picture). Sure, there were “long play” and “extended play” settings which could put more on a tape but using them (for technical reasons I need not go into here) reduced reproduction quality.
Young people who’ve grown up on on-demand streaming video and newer formats that record sound and video at greater resolution even than the historically vaunted Betamax may not really grasp how important that was, but it was a big issue in the day. And so, VHS was preferred by the market for reasons that the “but Beta was better” advocates either did not recognize or simply ignored.
It was market feedback that ensured, in the end, that people got what they actually wanted. Make it government regulated instead and how easy it would have been for someone, sitting in an office somewhere to simply declare “Betamax is better” and declare that to be the standard. And in so doing they would have rendered video cassettes useless for one of their primary purposes–recording movies and TV shows (which came in half hour, hour, and two hour blocks) unattended to watch later–at least until LP and EP came out and then with reduced video quality.
Government solutions, with few exceptions, tend to be the wrong solutions to the wrong problems leading to the wrong results. At best they benefit the few at the expense of the many. But that never seems to stop advocates from doubling down on those wrong solutions expecting that somehow, magically, they’ll get the right results out of them.
New (to me anyway) car. 2009 Kia Spectra LX (the base model) 2.0L I-4 engine with a 5 speed manual transmission. It was relatively lively during the test drive, at least as far as an economy coupe goes. (0-60 is probably comparable to my old Miata’s but the handling…not so much.)
The ride was very soft (which has its good and bad sides–that makes handling less precise, but more comfort on the road). Brakes were solid and controllable. The engine has more than enough power to break loose the front wheels (FWD, of course) in first.
Big advantage over many cars I’ve driven, right off the bat, was that it fits. I have odd proportions–really short arms and legs and a long torso. To give you an idea, I stand 5′ 9″ but I had a roommate back in the Air Force who was 6′ 1″. Sitting side by side on a bench, the tops of our shoulders were dead even. Usually, I have to lean the seat back for headroom, move the seat up close to reach the pedals, and that leaves the steering wheel practically within kissing distance of my gut–which has my shoulders at the right position for good steering wheel control. From driving autocross, I like to have about a 90 degree bend in my arms when my hands are at 10 and 2. In the Kia, I had a much more comfortable seating position with easy reach to the steering wheel and the pedals.
The one “fit” problem was that the clutch pedal was closer to the brake than I’m used to. That will take a bit of getting used to.
The gear shift had a much longer throw than I’m used to, but I quickly adapted to it. Shifting was smooth and easy. The AC blows cold. A previous owner removed the stereo (probably installed a higher end unit and pulled it when selling the car so I’ll need to install a new one. I checked and the harness is in place, so it should be a simply drop-in project. (Dash kit, adapter harness, and the unit itself.)
Unlike my old Explorer, it does not have power locks or remote control for the mirrors. That’s a minor inconvenience so long as I’m the only one driving it. I only need to set them once. Plenty of storage room for things like Athena’s cello. It might be a little packed for some of my bigger road trips (like LibertyCon). There are advantages to a trunk that’s distinct from the passenger compartment.
Now, provided it doesn’t just decide to crap out on my a dozen miles down the road (and considering my luck lately, I can’t eliminate that possibility), we should be good.
So, more statues and monuments are being torn down or vandalized.
[The original post] post was prompted by a recent news item about a statue to Karl Marx being vandalized. A monument to a vile philosophy of the past being damaged if not outright destroyed? Well, I wouldn’t be surprised given what’s been done with other monuments except this one, sad to say, is not “of the past.” If you don’t go looking, you may not realize how much Marx saturates the “intelligentsia” in the US. He’s been ascendant in the Education-Entertainment Complex for generations (plural). Arguments that are, at best, thinly veiled Marxism are treated as serious and, indeed, conventional. Opposition is considered extremism.
How can this be allowed to continue?
Consider: The number of Africans shipped to the US as slaves was never very great, totaling under 400,000. Most of the more than 10 million Africans sent overseas to be slaves in the “new world” went to the Caribean and South America. Frankly, I do not think that the US can be held accountable for the slave trade elsewhere. Of course there were many more slaves in the US than that over time, thanks to the “natural increase” (i.e. slave women having children born in slavery and growing up to be slaves) but even so, the 1790 census reported just under 700,000 slaves in the United States. By 1860, the eve of the Civil War, the number had risen to just under 4 million.
Given average lifespan even under the harsh conditions of slavery the total number of slaves in the US over the entire history of legal slavery cannot be more than about 15-20 million.
By contrast, Marx’s “ideas” have been responsible for over 100 million deaths and many more subject to oppression every bit as crushing as that of slavery. It’s just the oppressor was the “government” (acting entirely for “the people” It Says Here).
If the institution of Slavery is so vile (and no one disputes that it was vile) that we must erase people like Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry from history (slave owners, although of mixed feelings on the subject–Patrick Henry being a particularly interesting case) let alone folk like Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson, remove their names from schools and street signs, and pull down statues to them, then how much more should we not destroy the monuments to Marx? (And, seriously, how can anybody wear those revolting “Che” shirts given what a monster Che was–a monster molded by Marx.)
If slavery was, and is, a blight upon the Earth (and I assure you, it was), it is not the only blight, nor even the worst one. If one considers the innocents slaughtered and the lives ruined, then how much greater the blight of Marx?
Some might argue that it’s unfair to compare slavery in the US with the horrors of Marxism worldwide but that speaks to the influence the individuals and cultures memorialized in the US have had–which was strictly American at the time with the US only becoming a world leader well after the abolition of slavery–with that of Marx which has been global. He and his ideas have led to far more misery and death than Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, Patrick Henry, and every other slave owner in the US combined.
My position is relatively straightforward. While neither should be removed from history, both should be left in the past where they belong:
Cautionary tales, bad ideas unworthy of emulation.
With everything going on from the disconnect between “going to church is bad and will kill us from COVID” and “massive anti-police protests are good; don’t worry about COVID” to actual insurrection (a group seizing territory and declaring itself independent of law and government) I have to see the silver lining and that silver lining is all the usual suspects spinning everything as all coming down to “Orange Man Bad.” And so, as I said a couple of years ago:
People who know me know that I did not support Trump before the election. Given his history I didn’t believe his conservative rhetoric. Even in the campaign he threw five, arguably six, of the Bill of Rights under the bus and showed no signs of interest in restoring those that have already been stomped into the ground. Not even Hillary had a worse record than that on the issue that’s most important to me. So, I fully expected him to turn around and govern from the Left–worse, I fully expected the disaster that would follow from that to be attributed to the Right (leftists have done that before).
I am on record as saying that I was wrong. He did not live down to my fears. And I have never been so glad to be wrong in my life. (Well, maybe the time I lost control of a motorcycle at 100+ MPH and thought “I’m dead” as I went over the handlebars–walked away from that one.)
But I wonder why he so thoroughly rejected his history. Did he actually have a “Road to Damascus” moment sometime before running? I don’t know. But I can’t help but wonder if part of the reason isn’t the way the Left has gone so utterly batshit insane on the subject of Trump. Where the author of “The Art of the Deal” might well have been willing to “make a deal” they were so utterly opposed to anything with the “Trump” name attached that they didn’t just burn any bridges, they burned them with nuclear fire, leaving nothing but scattered elementary particles.
If so, let me give my thanks to those on the left. Thank you for your inarticulate screams of rage. Thank you for your pussy hats, your riots, your claims that anyone who supports Trump a “Nazi” or “Nazi Sympathizer.” Thank you for your marches and your safe spaces. Thank you for your demands for counseling because of the PTSD you got from seeing a pro-Trump message written in sidewalk chalk. Thank you for your faked hate crimes.
And thank you for a government shutdown because you wanted to ensure benefits for non-citizens who are in the US illegally and that was much more important than the actual citizens of the United States.