Category Archives: Totty

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Rule Five Second Amendment Friday

This is a good, thoughtful piece from the American Thinker’s Robert Curry:  How to Defend the Second Amendment.  Excerpt:

On one side of the debate, there is the left.  The Founders’ understanding is certainly not to be found there.  The left rejects the thinking of the Founders and is determined to take the Founders’ republic down.  On the other side, the defenders of the Founders do not even use the language of the Founders – and do not seem to realize how far afield they have wandered.  James Madison, who drafted the Second Amendment, would be astonished by this strange post-constitutional, even post-American, debate.  

How would any of the Founders have made the case for the Second Amendment?  Why, in terms of unalienable rights, of course.  The concept of unalienable rights is the key to understanding the American Founding.  The Declaration of Independence declared that we have unalienable rights.  It went on to declare that securing those rights is the very purpose of government – “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.”  According to the Declaration, any government that deviates from the noble purpose of securing those rights is illegitimate.

And:

Now, let’s consider the First Amendment before moving on to the Second.  Please notice how it begins: Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press[.]”  The very first words of the very first amendment are “Congress shall make no law.”  No rights are here granted to the citizen.  They cannot be because those rights are unalienable, that is, already possessed by the citizen. 

The First Amendment follows the logic of the Constitution as a whole; it restricts what the federal government – in this case, Congress – can do. 

So does the Second: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  That “shall not be infringed” is strong language and perfectly clear.  To infringe is to trespass, to intrude, to encroach.  “Shall not be infringed” in plain language means “No Trespassing.”  And it is the government that is warned to keep out.

I’ve used practical, utilitarian arguments myself in arguing against various legislatures, city, state and Imperial, wasting their time and my money with gun control laws.  Such laws have been largely ineffective at reducing crime rates or preventing mass-casualty situations; indeed, in the United States the opposite has been shown, as gun ownership and concealed-carry are at all-time highs, while the violent crime rate has dropped to a near-historic low.

But, as Mr. Curry points out, the Second Amendment, which very plainly puts forth the intent of the Founders, should be all the argument we need.  But the argument he makes, and its comparison to the First Amendment, has one flaw:  There are those among the Left who don’t much care for the First Amendment, either.  Take a look at the various “hate speech” proposals, or just take a gander at any left-wing protest and note the “hate speech is not free speech” placards.

We are in a time when basic freedoms and basic rights are very much under attack.  I’m afraid it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Rule Five Immigration Ideology Friday

This just in (well, earlier this week) from national treasure Dr. Victor Davis Hanson:  Illegal Immigration Ideology.  Excerpt:

The ideology of illegal immigration rests on certain illogical assumptions that must not be questioned. Immigration exactly is one-way. But why exactly do we simply accept that without inquiry? What is it about a free-market, constitutional, transparent, and law-abiding America that draws in millions desperate to abandon their homes in otherwise naturally rich landscapes in Mexico and Central America?

In the absence of intellectual honesty about the need for political and economic reform in Latin America, mythologies can abound. Millions are desperate to enter a country antithetical to the protocols of their own. They are even more desperate to stay here — even as many mask that paradox by expressing ethnic and cultural chauvinism, along with anger at their hosts. Witness the signs, flags, and symbols of many open-borders, anti-immigration-enforcement rallies. Apparently, nations that create conditions that drive out their own can be the objects of romance, but only at a safe distance.

The ethos of the Mexican government has become surreal. Its racist and imperial classes welcome the flight of 10 percent of its indigenous population. It assumes that the United States cannot, must not, adopt immigration laws similar to its own. Driving out one’s own people apparently vents social tensions in lieu of reform, and the government is thereby exempted from accountability for its utter failures. About $30 billion arrive in return as remittances, many of these transferences subsidized by American social services and entitlements.

Now, I’m not against immigration per se.  I am against illegal immigration.  I’m also against unchecked immigration; the day when the United States can absorb an unlimited number of immigrants is over.  We should now be selective in admitting only people who can contribute to our economy; we can either have a welfare state or open borders, but we most assuredly not have both.

I’ve been asked how, holding as I do minarchist libertarian opinions, I can favor restrictions on immigration.   While I do believe that people have a right to travel, in this case property rights take precedence, and to the people of a nation, the nation is their property; a nation is a defined structure, an association of people (a voluntary association, I might add – if you don’t like it in the U.S.,you are certain free to leave) and not only do we have the right to protect our property, our nation, against invasion, we also have the right of disassociation – the right to choose who we allow to join our group.

Dr. Hanson concludes:  When Jerry Brown or Nancy Pelosi lectures the state on its illiberality, or on the immigration sins of Donald Trump, or the advantages of nullification and a sanctuary state, we assume that these are just the penultimate chest poundings and virtue signals of rich septuagenarians about to go into apartheid retirements in Napa or Grass Valley.

In that context, all of their legacies above make perfect sense.

And, yes, with that, all the agitating by open-borders activists does make sense; like all statists, they favor most policies that they reckon won’t effect them.

Rule Five Off-Road Friday

Here are a couple of tidbits from Ford, the automaker of choice here at the Casa de Animal; first, the 2020 Bronco is finally getting a tease, and the 2019 Ranger is on its way.  Excerpt (Bronco):

When Ford first announced in 2017 that it was bringing the famous 4×4 SUV back, it only confirmed the name. The image reveals the Bronco to have a boxy, upright shape, a short-ish wheelbase, and minimal overhangs. We do know that it’ll challenge the all-conquering Jeep Wrangler and that it’s based on the 2019 Ranger.

The return of this proud old name is exciting – we still recall with great fondness our two Broncos, a ’74 and a ’92.  The first, the Green Machine, was a great truck – manual everything, sheet metal and vinyl interior, and it would damn near go up and down trees.  The second, the Dark Horse (black Bronco, Dark Horse, you get the idea) was bigger, more comfortable, and had an automatic transmission and transfer case, was damn near as capable off-road and much more suited for highway travel; the Dark Horse took us on outdoor adventures from Wyoming to the Mexican border, from Utah to the Mississippi.

But, as Ford informs us, the new Bronco will be based on that new Ranger, and that’s the subject of a little concern, at least to yr. obdt.:

It’s a real truck. The Ranger sits on a fully boxed, high-strength steel frame with six cross members. Suspension components of note include a double A-arm front suspension and monotube front dampers. Traditional leaf springs and shock absorbers help control a solid rear axle. Power steering will be electronically-assisted.

This Ranger gets frame-mounted steel bumpers with steel bash-plates and tow hooks. Two cab and bed options are available, but only one wheelbase is offered. SuperCab Rangers will have the longer of the two beds, while SuperCrew (full two door) Rangers will only get the shorter bed. Metal trim pieces over the wheel wells can be color matched or accented with a handsome magnetic grey color. The tailgate, front fenders, and hood are all aluminum, in keeping with one of the F-Series major brand identifiers. Engineers say that the Ranger has been tested to the same durability standards as the F-Series trucks.

That’s all good, but:

The only engine offered for the North American Ranger will be a 2.3-liter, direct-injected four-cylinder with a twin-scroll turbocharger. The crank and rods are forged steel. It will be mated to the 10-speed automatic with three overdrive gears co-developed with the folks at General Motors.

This isn’t an engine that will develop a lot of low-end torque.  It’s a car engine; a truck needs low-end torque.  But this is the real kicker:

The FX4 pack brings Ford’s Terrain Management system, a system first found on the ultra-capable Raptor. It has four modes: Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, and Sand. Grass/gravel/snow simply numbs throttle response. Mud/ruts carries with it the throttle numbing, while also throwing the drivetrain into 4-Hi for truck stuff. Sand activates 4-Hi, tells the transmission to grab the lowest gear possible, and relaxes the traction control to allow some wheel slip.

In addition to the Terrain Management tech, a system Ford calls Trail Control will debut on Rangers outfitted with the FX4 Off-Road package. Think of this as cruise-control blended with a hill-descent control system. Trail Control will allow the driver to set and maintain a low vehicle speed (1-20 mph) while traveling through less-than perfect trails on the way to the next adventure.

Here’s my concern:  All these electronic gewgaws are not desirable, for two reasons:

  1. They allow the driver to get into touchy situations without first requiring the driver to develop any real knowledge of their vehicle’s capabilities, and without necessarily developing any real off-road skills.
  2. All that high-tech stuff will break, and it will break at the worst possible moment – say, when you’re up in the back end of Firebox Park south of Eagle, ten miles from the county road.

I’m not sure why someone can’t build a simple, tough utility with a manual transmission, manual hubs, crank windows, and a small-block V-8.  My first Bronco, the Green Machine, was great because of its light weight, short wheelbase, 302ci V-8 and manual everything.  It was simple, easy to clean, easy to maintain, and tough, tough, tough.  Build a truck like that today, sell it for around twenty grand, and I bet you’d have people lined up to buy them.

In the meantime, I’ll keep my Rojito for woods-bumming.  It’s a tad underpowered, but the 1999 Ranger was still available with damn near manual everything, and that’s the way I like it.  I’ll probably go look at the new Broncs when they come out, but I’m prepared to be disappointed.

Rule Five Census Counts Friday

The Trump Administration is considering adding a question on citizenship to the upcoming census.  Excerpt:

While it might seem like the epitome of boring government bureaucracy, the count of every person living in America — which must take place every ten years, according to the Constitution — is extremely important, as the data is used to draw political districts and determine the distribution of federal funding. The Trump administration’s move is likely to give Republicans, who already have an edge in congressional and state legislative maps, an even greater advantage for years to come.

The citizenship question has not been included in the decennial Census since 1950, though it is included in some smaller population surveys. Adding the question is expected to discourage noncitizens — a population already difficult to count accurately — from responding to the Census. A majority of undocumented immigrants live in 20 metropolitan areas, so undercounting this population would shift power and resources away from more Democratic-leaning cities and toward Republican-leaning rural areas.

As the Washington Post explains, the shift could give Republicans an additional tool in years to come by providing a count of U.S. residents who are eligible to vote. The courts have long mandated that U.S. House districts must be based on the total population, which includes children, undocumented immigrants, and others who cannot vote. However, for many years conservative advocates have discussed the possibility of drawing state and local districts based only on eligible voters — which would exclude nonvoters, who are disproportionately minority.

Drawing districts on the basis of eligible voters, not just gross population, is a good idea – but it would face massive court challenges.  The Constitution mandates the census but doesn’t mandate how districts are drawn; theoretically that is up to the several States, but in recent years such issues have been decided by the courts, who have become a de facto legislature.  But the pushback isn’t just coming from the courts:

Former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder, who has devoted his post-Obama administration career to fighting the GOP’s state-level advantage, said he intends to sue as well.

“We will litigate to stop the Administration from moving forward with this irresponsible decision,” said Holder, who is now chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. “The addition of a citizenship question to the Census questionnaire is a direct attack on our representative democracy.“

My immediate response to this, coming as it does from the architect of the Fast and Furious gun-running operation, is “oh, fuck off, Holder.”  My second, more considered response, is “since when are you concerned about representative democracy – and do you even know that the United States is not a democracy, but a constitutional republic?”

RHEEEEing from both sides of the issue aside, I don’t think this will have much effect on the census or on redistricting.  The 2020 census will probably, more than anything else, serve to point up the increasing urban v. rural divide that is drawing our nation apart – and the addition of the citizenship question won’t make much difference there.

With that said, I would like to see districting and so forth apportioned on the basis of a count of actual citizens.  I’m not at all clear on exactly why non-citizens should count in apportioning representation in the Imperial City.  But adding a question to the census, unfortunately, won’t accomplish much.

Rule Five NRA Founding Friday

Stupid, easily disproved statements are not, sadly, exclusive to the political Left.  Lately, with the gun control debate again hotly contested in the news and on the interwebs, I’ve seen an old one recycled, which I will paraphrase as “the NRA’s attackers are racist because they don’t know the NRA was formed to arm freed slaves against the KKK.”  Even though I would find the actions of anyone in those times seeking to do exactly that to be laudable, that’s not why the NRA was founded; indeed, it’s just stupidly easy to show otherwise.  From the “About the NRA” page:

A Brief History of the NRA

Dismayed by the lack of marksmanship shown by their troops, Union veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate formed the National Rifle Association in 1871. The primary goal of the association would be to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis,” according to a magazine editorial written by Church.

After being granted a charter by the state of New York on November 17, 1871, the NRA was founded. Civil War Gen. Ambrose Burnside, who was also the former governor of Rhode Island and a U.S. senator, became the fledgling NRA’s first president.

An important facet of the NRA’s creation was the development of a practice ground. In 1872, with financial help from New York State, a site on Long Island, the Creed Farm, was purchased for the purpose of building a rifle range. Named Creedmoor, the range opened a year later,and it was there that the first annual matches were held.

Political opposition to the promotion of marksmanship in New York forced the NRA to find a new home for its range. In 1892, Creedmoor was deeded back to the state and NRA’s matches moved to Sea Girt, New Jersey.

The NRA’s interest in promoting the shooting sports among America’s youth began in 1903 when NRA Secretary Albert S. Jones urged the establishment of rifle clubs at all major colleges, universities and military academies. By 1906, NRA’s youth program was in full swing with more than 200 boys competing in matches at Sea Girt that summer. Today, youth programs are still a cornerstone of the NRA, with more than one million youth participating in NRA shooting sports events and affiliated programs with groups such as 4-H, the Boy Scouts of America, the American Legion, Royal Rangers, National High School Rodeo Association and others.

We only embolden our adversaries when we use stupid arguments like “the NRA was founded to arm freed slaves.”

Readers of these virtual pages know that I have long attacked the gun-grabbers for their abysmal lack of knowledge of the very items they want to regulate out of existence.  Many on the Left fancy themselves the party of “science” and “reason,” but when it comes to firearms, they are anything but; it’s all about the feelz, and they can’t be bothered to actually learn anything.  Take Senator Feinstein’s bleating on how the 5.56mm NATO round fired by the AR-15 is “more powerful than a typical hunting rifle,” for example, or the famous “shoulder thing that goes up” remark.

So let’s co-opt their science and reason for ourselves.  When it comes to firearms, we are the ones who know the specifics.  Please, please, please don’t ruin it by making stupid claims like the one above that can be dis-proven in a ten-second web search.

Full disclosure:  I’ve been an NRA member since the late Seventies.  Mrs. Animal and I have both been Life Members for over twenty years.  I know damn well why the NRA was founded.  So do they.  So should everyone.