Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain and Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!  And thanks to our blogger pal Doug Hagin over at The Daley Gator for the linkback.

Moving right along:  The Daily Signal has documented eight stubborn facts about gun ownership in America. Read the entire article, of course, for detailed explanations of them all, but as a thumbnail, those eight are:

  1. Violent crime is down and has been on the decline for decades.
  2. The principal public safety concerns with respect to guns are suicides and illegally owned handguns, not mass shootings.
  3. A small number of factors significantly increase the likelihood that a person will be a victim of a gun-related homicide.
  4. Gun-related murders are carried out by a predictable pool of people.
  5. Higher rates of gun ownership are not associated with higher rates of violent crime.
  6. There is no clear relationship between strict gun control legislation and homicide or violent crime rates.
  7. Legally owned firearms are used for lawful purposes much more often than they are used to commit crimes or suicide.
  8. Concealed carry permit holders are not the problem, but they may be part of the solution.

Now, long-term readers of these virtual pages probably know that I mislike utilitarian arguments for policies of this type; the Second Amendment says I have the right to own and carry guns (that’s what keep and bear means) and that’s that.  Also, as a minarchist libertarian, the only legitimate law I recognize is “you can’t take my stuff,” which means that unless I transgress against another person, my liberty and property are sacrosanct.

Bearing Arms

But, it’s true, utilitarian arguments can be useful to persuade fence-sitters who have not yet formulated a strong position on a given issue.  And there are some pretty solid utilitarian arguments here.  For example:

  • Concealed carry permit holders are often “the good guy with a gun,” even though they rarely receive the attention of the national media. Concealed carry permit holders were credited with saving multiple lives in:

Over the years I’ve had plenty of people ask why I collect and use guns.  I’ve given a variety of answers, depending on who was asking the question and what their purpose was in doing so.  But the main reason I own and carry guns is this:  Because it suits me to do so.  As a law-abiding taxpayer, I require no other reason or justification  Anyone who thinks otherwise is certainly entitled to their opinion, but I am under no obligation to alter my actions even a bit because of it.

Rule Five “Liar or Incompetent” Friday

That notorious right-wing rag, the Washington Post, is calling out Democrat Presidential candidate Cory Booker on his lies about gun laws.  Excerpt:

In a rather strange turn of events, the Washington Post fact checked Booker’s recent claims that toy guns are more regulated than actual firearms. And guess what was concluded? That’s right. That Booker’s take is straight up bogus. 

Let’s review the evidence, shall we?

“Most people don’t know that consumer product safety literally — one industry that’s been exempted is the gun lobby. So we have different regulations for toy guns and no regulations for the weapons on our streets that are killing so many people,” he said during a CNN interview

In a medium post that same day, Booker’s campaign repeated the talking point.

“Nowadays, there is more regulation over toy guns than real ones. While medicine, children’s toys, and any number of other consumer products are subject to regulation by the federal government, firearms are exempt. In other words, gun manufacturers have little incentive to make their products safer. Cory will work to close this loophole in federal oversight and allow the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ensure gun safety by making safety warnings and issuing recalls for faulty firearms.”

And:

There are a few points that Booker seems to forget and National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) spokesman Mark Oliva pointed them out to the Washington Post. 

“Our industry is the most heavily regulated industry in the country. No other industry is regulated at the federal, state and local level to the extent our industry is regulated, which include design and performance standards,” Oliva explained. “The federal agencies that regulate the industry include ATF, FBI, State Department, Commerce Department, IRS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. No other consumer product requires the licensed dealer to conduct a criminal-background check on a prospective purchaser before they can sell the product. Firearm manufacturers can be sued for product defect claims, although such claims are exceedingly rare given that there are over 400 million firearms in civilian possession in the United States.”

It should come as a surprise to no one that Booker, like most anti-gun pols (or anti-gun anyone) knows fuck-all about guns or the current state of gun laws.  But seriously, folks, how could anyone be so ignorant, so incompetent to hold the position of U.S. Senator, to claim with a straight face that toy guns are regulated more than actual guns?  Is he incompetent, or just a liar?

I’m inclined to say he’s a liar.  Here’s why.

What Booker is implying, of course, is the legal protection gun manufacturers have been accorded from liability for the criminal misuse of their product.  It’s true that no other industry has such a legal protection – why?  Because no other industry has ever needed it.  Nobody is proposing to sue General Motors or Ford for drunk driving deaths.

But Booker isn’t worried about product liability in the normally accepted sense.  What he wants is punitive liability, the ability to hold gun manufacturers liable for criminal misuse of their products, something he would not advocate for any other industry.  Why?

Because it’s an end run around the Second Amendment.  Most gun manufacturers are small companies; even the big ones aren’t terribly large as corporations go.  Booker and his ilk salivate at the idea that a few strategic lawsuits brought in the right areas could bankrupt them, even if they win, in our ridiculously twisted tort system.

Pols lying is nothing new.  But Booker’s lies are just too damned egregious.  Fortunately his Presidential campaign appears to be going nowhere.

Animal’s Daily Random Notes News

Here are a few bits and pieces from the morning’s news.

Beta O’Rourke live-streams his haircut.  Last time it was a teeth-cleaning.  What’s next, his colonoscopy?  What a schmuck.

Robert Stacy McCain has some thoughts on champions.

If you aren’t reading the daily Glibertarians links, you ought to be.  One thing I love about that community:  You can read the comments.  Glibertarians boasts one of the most intelligent commentariats I know of.

Big surprise; Kamala Harris shoots off her mouth (hah!) about gun control, meanwhile revealing she knows bugger-all about guns.  Watch this space tomorrow for an even more egregious example of this sort of assholery.

Speaking of assholes:  Lieawatha Warren says Fox News is “…a Hate-For-Profit Racket That Gives a Megaphone to Racists and  Conspiracists.”  I find that I’m in the odd place of being in the same position as Princess Spreading Bull here; neither of us have any idea what the hell she is talking about.

Denver talk-radio legend Mike Rosen weighs in on school shootings.  Relevant quote:

One sanctimonious, simplistic anti-gunner was moved to proclaim that “we are avoiding the hard truth about the root cause of a chronic, pernicious illness in this country. We love our guns more than we love our children.” What irrational blather. This is a false dichotomy. Gun owners can both love their children and also defend the Constitutional right to possess a firearm, which can be used to protect their children from a home invader (or from shooters in schools). And the use of the personal pronoun “we” in this emotional rant is presumptuous. “We” aren’t the “root cause” of school shootings and our entire society isn’t sick. An infinitesimal fraction within it are sociopaths who shoot up schools. It’s “they,” who are sick.

As usual, Mike is correct.  Incidentally, I had the pleasure of meeting Mike in person once and, better still, spent two hours in studio on the air with him in 2001, when I was promoting Misplaced Compassion. He’s a brilliant man and possesses a razor-sharp wit.  That two hours was great radio and great fun.

From blogger pal Doug Hagin over at The Daley Gator:  Actions have consequences.  Who knew?

And on that rather satisfying note, we return you to your Thursday, already in progress.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Thanks as always to The Other McCain and Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links – and be sure to catch Part Two of my History of Bolt Guns series over at Glibertarians!

Meanwhile:  The SpyGate investigation has begun!  Excerpt:

Attorney General William P. Barr has assigned the top federal prosecutor in Connecticut to examine the origins of the Russia investigation, according to two people familiar with the matter, a move that President Trump has long called for but that could anger law enforcement officials who insist that scrutiny of the Trump campaign was lawful.

John H. Durham, the United States attorney in Connecticut, has a history of serving as a special prosecutor investigating potential wrongdoing among national security officials, including the F.B.I.’s ties to a crime boss in Boston and accusations of C.I.A. abuses of detainees.

His inquiry is the third known investigation focused on the opening of an F.B.I. counterintelligence investigation during the 2016 presidential campaign into possible ties between Russia’s election interference and Trump associates.

The department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, is separately examining investigators’ use of wiretap applications and informants and whether any political bias against Mr. Trump influenced investigative decisions. And John W. Huber, the United States attorney in Utah, has been reviewing aspects of the Russia investigation. His findings have not been announced.

Durham has a reputation for being a bit of a pit bull – he also has the reputation for being an operator of unshakable integrity.  But watch!  As soon as he starts digging into the Steele dossier, the resulting FISA warrants and other shenanigans of Obama Administration bureaucrats, the long knives will come out.

Suddenly this U.S. Attorney will become a major demon of the Left.  Democrat politicians will accuse him of syncophanty, of corruption, of anything and everything except integrity and a simple desire to find out what the hell actually happened.

But if John Durham lives up to his reputation, and I suspect he will, he will uncover some very, very interesting things about how the Obama Administration and other Democrats attempted to weaponize the FBI and the nation’s intelligence apparatus.

On a sadder note:  RIP, Time Conway.  He was one of the best natural comedians that ever lived; he was the only performer who I ever saw make my notoriously taciturn father laugh out loud.  We’ll miss him.  Here’s one of his better bits, from a rehearsal of The Carol Burnett Show.  Enjoy.

Rule Five Failed Coup Friday

This came out almost a week ago over at Human Events, but I needed a few days to digest it before commenting.  Excerpt:

This is a story about a legal chess match played for the highest stakes imaginable: Trump’s Presidency – and whether it would be under the cloud of an endless special counsel investigation – hinged on the result.

John Dowd, Ty Cobb, Jay Sekulow, and the rest of President Trump’s personal legal team were on one side. Mueller, Andrew Weissmann, and the Special Counsel’s office were on the other.

The dispute was a year-long struggle over the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2).

No judge ever ruled on who was right about the meaning of this obstruction statute. No formal decision was ever rendered.

All the same, Trump’s legal team prevailed on February 14, 2019.

That’s the day William Pelham Barr was confirmed as United States Attorney General.

FRAMING THE DISPUTE

So why, exactly, was the interpretation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2) so contested?

Let’s start by looking the statute, excerpted here:

(c) Whoever corruptly—

(1) alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record, document, or other object, or attempts to do so, with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding; or

(2) otherwise obstructs, influences or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so [is guilty of the crime of obstruction]. (Emphasis added).

Why was this so important to Mueller? Because most of the obstruction statutes couldn’t possibly apply to President Trump’s behavior, as they require that a defendant obstruct a “pending proceeding” before an agency or tribunal.

It is settled law that an FBI investigation does not constitute such a proceeding. But § 1512(c) applies to acts of obstruction done with the intent of impairing evidence for a future, potential proceeding. That made it potentially usable against the President.

Second – the language of subsection (c)(2), read in isolation, is *very* broad. Removing subsection (1), it reads like this:

“Whoever corruptly… obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so [is guilty of the crime of obstruction].”

If taken to its extreme, it could be read to cover any act – no matter how lawful – that has the effect of impeding a federal investigation. That would include, for example, asking an FBI director to lay off an investigation, or firing an FBI director. The Mueller Report revealed that Mueller interpreted § 1512(c)(2) in just such a broad fashion.

Please do read the whole thing, and as I did, take some time to digest it.  This analysis is well worth bending a few neurons over.  Go on, read it right now – I’ll wait right here.

All done?  OK, let’s go on.

What this article points out, to my thinking, is how narrowly we avoided a legal coup d’état intended to remove a duly elected, sitting President.  This wasn’t Watergate, after all, where there was an unambiguous, unmistakable cover-up after which President Nixon’s own party told him he had to resign.  This was an utterly partisan exercise intended to undo the 2016 Presidential election, which many in the Imperial City establishment felt hadn’t gone the way it was “supposed” to go.

Here’s the conclusion:

When the June 2018 Barr memorandum became public in December, many Democrats tried to weaponize it against him. But because Barr’s memo was specific to a particular statute, and was perfectly defensible legal analysis, it was hard for the Democrats to get any traction.

In hindsight, however, it’s clear that Barr was the assassin Democrats feared.

Within six weeks of his confirmation, the Mueller probe was over.

When Mueller equivocated on obstruction in his report, Barr affirmatively determined that there was no viable obstruction charge.  In a twist, Barr didn’t rely on a narrow reading of § 1512(c)(2); instead, he exploited the malleability of Mueller’s theory and determined that Trump lacked the requisite intent to commit obstruction.

At the same time, he made clear during the press conference that he didn’t agree with Mueller’s legal theories; one has to suspect he was referring to the debate over § 1512(c)(2).

In any event, Mueller and Weissman had lost the chess match. Trump and his team had won.

No Collusion. No Obstruction. No more Mueller Investigation.

Checkmate.

Indeed.  But here’s my worry:  Corruption in government only grows.  It is the nature of government to grow ever more intrusive, ever more corrupt, and it is in the nature of those in power to seek to retain that power.  And it’s also increasingly obvious that the real power in the Imperial City is not in the hands of the elected officials with their increasingly-unhinged kabuki posturings, but in the bureaucrats that work behind the scenes.

The Mueller investigation has laid that bare, but the question remains, so what?  What can be done about it?  This swamp won’t be so easily drained; I’m worried that we may well already be past the point of no return.

Animal’s Daily About Damn Time News

New Army Service Uniforms! (Image from article)

So, finally, long after my time in Uncle Sam’s colors, the U.S. Army is finally going back to a uniform that doesn’t make you look like a traffic cop or… ugh…  a sailor.  (Just kidding, all you present and veteran squids out there.)  Excerpt:

The United States Army wanted a spiffy new service uniform, one that would stand out in a tough recruiting environment and polish the Army’s image after a generation of grinding and divisive wars.

So it turned the clock back. Way back.

It chose a new uniform that looks almost exactly like the old green gabardine wool field coat and khaki trousers that officers wore in World War II. Probably not by coincidence, that’s what the Army was wearing the last time the nation celebrated total victory in a major war.

“We went back and asked, when is the most prominent time when the Army’s service to our nation was universally recognized, and the answer came very quickly,” said Daniel A. Dailey, the sergeant major of the Army, the highest-ranking enlisted soldier in the service. “That victory, that impact on the nation, is still felt today by the sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters of the ‘Greatest Generation.’”

And:

The Old Man in 1945, his 1911 at his side.

Army Greens will be the military equivalent of a business suit, which the Army largely stopped using during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just as civilians have been dressing more casually in professional and social settings, troops have been wearing camouflage fatigues in situations that used to call for a jacket and tie, like office work or travel between bases. Even in the Pentagon, officers spend a good deal of their time in combat boots.

With far fewer troops deployed in combat operations now, though, the Army has signaled that it wants to get back to the old spit and polish. It is hoping that reintroducing an iconic service uniform from the days of the Band of Brothers and Rosie the Riveter will help reframe its public image.

This does have the distinct look of the WW2 uniforms, although the difference between officer and enlisted uniforms will be less pronounced, it appears.  Dad used to comment that in the Forties, you could tell an officer from an enlisted man from across the parade ground; not a good thing in combat, but possibly handy in garrison.

Honestly, though, I like the return to a bit of spit and polish.  It’s part of the soldier’s discipline to keep one’s self strack; back in my Cold War days, when in garrison, we took a great deal of pride in looking high-speed, low-drag, with pressed OD’s/BDUs, spit-shined boots and blocked caps.  And boy howdy, the yarns you’d hear spun in those late-night boot-shining parties.

A soldier should look soldierly.  You’re representing the entire U.S. Army when you wear that uniform, and more than that, you’re representing your country.  You should wear the uniform with pride.

Deep thoughts, news of the day, totty and the Manly Arts.