Category Archives: Totty

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Rule Five Friday

2014_02_07_Rule Five Friday (1)Let’s look at a few gun stories today – the first, from our own Colorado.    GOP Attempts to Repeal Colorado Background Checks Law.  Excerpt:

Colorado Republicans revived the most contentious debate of the last legislative session when they tried to repeal gun purchase background checks.

State Sen. George Rivera, the Republican who replaced Democrat Angela Giron when she was recalled from office because of her support of this and other new gun control laws, sponsored the bill.

Most of the testimony revolved around the question of whether or not the new law — which requires background checks not only for gun purchases at retail stores but also in private sales between individuals — will help reduce violent crime. A background check is also required if a gun is loaned to someone for more than 72 hours, such as for hunting, sport 2014_02_07_Rule Five Friday (2)shooting or safekeeping.

What’s interesting about that article and the controversy around it is found in this line:

Opponents of the repeal pointed to 104 instances of potential gun buyers failing background checks during attempted private transactions since the law went into effect on July 1. The reasons ranged from previous convictions for homicide to sexual assault.

Ok, then; one hundred and four people have committed a Federal felony, in attempting to illegally purchase a firearm.

Where are the arrests?  Where are the convictions?  Why did the gang of Mensa dropouts we call the Colorado Legislature pass this law, which obviously nobody intends to enforce?

2014_02_07_Rule Five Friday (3)One of the more idiotic provisions of this piece of legislative stupidity is the requirement to undergo a background check if you borrow a firearm from a neighbor or friend, say for a hunting trip.  This provision is utterly unenforceable and will be roundly ignored.  Combine this with the total ignoring of people who fail the background checks, and we are left with one question:  What the bloody hell was this law meant to actually accomplish?

While we’re on the subject of abject stupidity:  School Officials Deeply Troubled Over Guns Appearing ON SIGNS BANNING GUNS.  Excerpt:

Nolan stressed that she is very concerned with “safety and security” and concerned that, somehow, someone could wrongly interpret an image of a gun emblazoned with the universal sign for prohibiting something.

2014_02_07_Rule Five Friday (5)“I think the general public will be alarmed by it and wonder if people have been allowed to bring guns to school in the past,” Nolan also fretted.

She said she would prefer “something more subtle.”

“You can’t look at this (sticker) and not think about Sandy Hook,” the principal added.

Let’s be honest:  Principal Nolan is a hypersensitive nitwit.

One more, this one a piece of good news; the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the pro-sportsman SHARE Act.  Blind hogs and acorns, as they say.  Excerpt:

2014_02_07_Rule Five Friday (4)(The National Shooting Sports Foundation), along with a number of its partners, has been working closely with members of the House to ensure inclusion of a number of legislative priorities in the SHARE Act including provisions that will protect the use of traditional ammunition and fishing tackle by hunters and anglers, provide greater flexibility for states to utilize Pittman-Robertson funds to create and enhance public shooting ranges and facilitate greater access to Federal lands and waters for hunting, recreational fishing and shooting.

Of course, this legislation still has to get through the Senate in one form or another, and be approved by the President, who by all indications is no friend of the shooting sports.  But, as mentioned earlier – blind hogs and acorns.  We’ll see.

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Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

This just in from the always-worth-reading Dr. Victor Davis Hanson:  A Beat-up, Exhausted, and Terrified Republican Establishment.  Excerpt:

On almost every contemporary issue there is a populist, middle-class argument to be made against elite liberalism. Yet the Republican class in charge seems ossified in its inability to make a counter-argument for the middle class. Never has the liberal agenda been so vulnerable, a logical development when bad ideas have had five years to prove themselves as very bad ideas. When Obama is all done he will have taken high presidential popularity ratings, a supermajority in the Senate, and a large margin in the House and lost them all — if only the Republicans can make an adequate case that they represent the middle class, the Democrats only the very wealthy and the very dependent.

The thing is this:  I’m not all that sure that the Republicans really do represent the middle class any more.  I’m not sure anyone does.  The Democrats sure as hell don’t; they represent an odd coalition ranging from radical environmentalists, the Occupy Wall Street nutbars, and the San Francisco latte socialists to labor-union activists and a few last old Truman blue-collar Democrats.  The GOP struggles to gather in what someone a few years back called the “Sam’s Club” Republicans – the small business, entrepreneur folks, the people that drive real economic growth.  But they aren’t doing a very good job of that, either.

Dual-BearsA big part of the GOP’s problem is their failure to adjust to a generational shift in attitudes.  The up-and-coming generation is open to the Republican’s low-tax, small government message, but is resistant to the party’s social wing, which insists on government interference into other aspects of people’s lives.

It’s a pretty problem, and one that neither party seems to be able to wrap their brains around.  Whichever one does first – and the GOP seems to hold an edge on the growing libertarian population – will have a majority advantage for some time to come.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

This is interesting.  Not surprising, but interesting.  Popular Anti-Fracking Study Discredited by Colorado Health Department.  Relevant excerpts:

“It is difficult to draw conclusions from this study, due to its design and limitations,” Dr. Larry Wolk, CDPHE’s chief medical officer, said. “We appreciate continuing research about possible public health implications that may be associated with oil and gas operations in Colorado.

“With regard to this particular study, people should not rush to judgment.”

Why? Because the study didn’t distinguish between active wells and inactive wells. It also did not distinguish between vertical, horizontal, oil or natural gas wells.

“This makes it difficult to draw conclusions on the actual exposure people may have had,” Wolk said.

Further, the researchers never considered outside factors that may have resulted in birth defects, such as drinking or smoking.

“Without considering the effect of these personal risk factors, as well as the role of genetic factors, it is very difficult to draw conclusions from this study,” Wolk said.

Also:

The researchers noted in the study that they never bothered to check where the mother lived during conception or the first trimester. This is when most birth defects occur, so not knowing what was going on in the mother’s life at that time is a significant problem in determining whether fracking was to blame.

In other words, shoddy science.  A case in point; the study mentioned noted a decrease in birth defect among women who live closer to wells, a seeming contradiction that should have raised some alarms on the study’s methodology.  Why?

Because contradictions don’t exist.  When a seeming contradiction is found in a study of this nature, one should check their premises; one or more of them will be wrong.

Here’s the crux of this issue; there can be no absolute right or wrong answer in a policy issue of this nature.   There can only be tradeoffs.  There is a level of mess we will accept in order to increase our energy independence and lower the cost of energy.  Worried about Shy Bearour chronically high unemployment rate?  Stagnant tax revenues?  Runaway Federal debt? Explosion of numbers on welfare?  The answer is economic growth, and cheap energy is a supercharger for economic growth.

And no matter what side of any given issue you might take, relying on shoddy, self-contradictory  science makes for a shoddy, self-contradictory argument.

Rule Five Friday

2014_01_321_Rule Five Friday (1)Let’s talk about marriage.  Not specifically gay marriage, or non-gay marriage, or plural marriage, or interspecies marriage; just…  marriage.

Let’s start with this, an idea I’ve given some thought to myself over the years:  Get The State Out of Marriage.  Relevant excerpt:

In Oklahoma this past Friday, State Representative Mike Turner boldly challenged, “whether marriage needs to be regulated by the state at all.” He floated a bill that would remove the state’s role of licensing matrimony. This was in response to a recent court order that strikes down Oklahoma’s definition of marriage as traditional one-man-one-woman.

Think about that for a moment.  Take your time, I’ll wait right here.

Ready?  Let’s move on.

Rather than defend the status quo, I’ll take a different tack; what good reasons are there for government to be involved in marriage?  I can think of one; marriage has a legal component to it, in that it is 2014_01_321_Rule Five Friday (2)a contract between competent, capable adults.  (Normally a man and a woman, but that perception is somewhat in flux at the moment.)   Now, contracts are written and agreed to between competent parties all the time without government involvement; government generally only becomes involved when one or more parties violates the term of the agreement in some way or another.

How is government involved in marriage?  In one primary way:  the issue of marriage licenses, usually at the county level.  Why do we need a license – in essence, permission from the county government – to get married?

Many, many years ago, when I was a little tad, we lived on a farm near Fairbank, Iowa.  Our neighbors were an older couple, Grace and Brownie, who formed a treasured extra pair of surrogate grandparents for me.  I have a distinct memory of sitting with my mother in Grace and Brownie’s kitchen listening to Brownie, a stubborn, no-nonsense WW1 veteran and lifelong farmer, talk about 2014_01_321_Rule Five Friday (3)his pursuit of a building permit to extend one of his farm buildings.  Most of all I remember his lament that “these days you have to get a permit from the county to take a shit.”

That was in the late Sixties.  Things have not improved since that time.

One could make an argument for building codes and the concomitant permits to make sure that those codes are adhered to, especially for commercial buildings.  But marriage?

Removing government from the business of marriage makes a great deal of sense.  It would make no inroads on the religious observation of marriage.  Churches of all sorts could go right on conducting marriages exactly as they do now, with a little less paperwork.  It would make no inroad on the secular observation of marriage.  People who are not religious (like me) could conduct any type of ceremony or observation that suits them.  Would some people forgo marriage altogether?  Probably, yes; some people already do.  The numerator may change some, but the denominator remains the same.2014_01_321_Rule Five Friday (4)

Here’s the real rub, though, and this is why advocacy of this could be a winner for the slowly-growing libertarian wing of the GOP:  Removing government from the business of marriage removes the thorny issue of gay marriage from the debate.

“But Animal,” you might ask, “doesn’t that open the door for all sorts of domestic arrangements?  Doesn’t that open the door to polygamy, polyandry, and all sorts of other polys?

My reply:  “Well, sure.  But if government isn’t involved in the licensing of domestic arrangements at all, what changes?  People all over are free to indulge in those kinds of domestic arrangements now, they just can’t get a license from the county to formalize it.  And why should they?”

2014_01_321_Rule Five Friday (5)My take on social issues of this sort is based on one simple principle:  I don’t give a damn what people do, as long as they leave me alone.

Now, I’m about as heterosexual as you can get, in case you hadn’t figured that out from my penchant for Rule Five cheesecake.  I like women, and to my very good fortune women have always liked me.  (Mrs. Animal most of all.)  It’s beyond my capacity to understand why a man would be sexually attracted to another man.  But then, it’s beyond my capacity to understand why people like watching football on television.  And that’s OK; the fact that other people do those things doesn’t affect me.  It doesn’t affect my marriage.  It doesn’t affect my life.  It doesn’t affect me if two men, or two women, or three men and five women, or two men and a rosebush want to live together and call it “marriage.”

I know there are religious objections to gay marriage; I’m not religious and I don’t share them, but I acknowledge the depth of conviction of people who do hold those views.  This proposal can easily address that as well.  Churches that object to gay marriage should be free to refuse to conduct them.

Removing the licensing requirement from the equation removes the controversy.  It’s a good idea.  This Oklahoma proposal should be taken on the road.

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Rule Five Friday

2014_01_24_Rule Five Friday (1)Dr. Victor Davis Hanson, a historian and scholar of classical times, a man whose opinion I respect, worries that we may now be in The Last Generation of the West and the Thin Strand of Civilization.  Excerpt:

Over 90 million Americans who could work are not working (the “non-institutionalized” over 16). What we take for granted — our electrical power, fuel, building materials, food, health care, and communications — all hinge on just 144 million getting up in the morning to produce what about 160-170 million others (the sick, the young, and the retired who need assistance along with the 90 million idle) consume.

2014_01_24_Rule Five Friday (2)Every three working Americans provide sustenance for two who are not ill, enfeebled, or too young. The former help the disabled, the latter take resources from them. The gang-banger has only disdain for the geek at the mall — until one Saturday night his liver is shredded by gang gunfire and suddenly he whimpers (who is now the real wimp?) that he needs such a Stanford-trained nerd to do sophisticated surgery to get him back in one piece to the carjackings, muggings, assaults, and knockout games — or lawsuits follow!

Given that the number of non-working is growing (an additional 10 million were idled in the Obama “recovery” alone), it is likely to keep growing. At some point, we will hit a 50/50 ratio of idle versus active. 2014_01_24_Rule Five Friday (3)Then things will get interesting. The percentage of workers’ pay deducted to pay for the non-working will soar even higher. So will the present redistributive schemes and the borrowing from the unborn.

Why does Dr. Hanson’s opinion matter?

From his biography:  Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester 2014_01_24_Rule Five Friday (4)courses in military history and classical culture.

Dr. Hanson is a scholar with few peers, a dedicated student of history with a deep background in the rise and fall of past republics, including the Rome and Greek republics – two nations which were in large part the inspiration for our own republic.  And it is familiarity with the manner in which those republics self-destructed that makes one pessimistic about our own future, for reasons Dr. Hanson articulates very plainly in this column many of his other works.

Dr. Hanson concludes:

2014_01_24_Rule Five Friday (5)Each day when I drive to work I try to look at the surrounding communities, and count how many are working and how many of the able-bodied are not. I listen to the car radio and tally up how many stories, both in their subject matter and method of presentation, seem to preserve civilization, or how many seem to tear it down. I try to assess how many drivers stay between the lines, how many weave while texting or zoom in and out of traffic at 90mph or honk and flip off drivers.

Today, as the reader can note from the tone of this apocalyptic essay, civilization seemed to be losing.

I wish I could find more reason to disagree with him.

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Rule Five Friday

2014_01_17_Rule Five Friday (1)I had originally intended to spend today’s bandwidth talking about secular arguments on gay marriage, but something else captured my attention – something breathtakingly stupid.  It seems Hollywood director Harvey Weinstein and actress Meryl Streep are planning a movie taking aim (use of metaphor deliberate) at the NRA.  Excerpt:

Movie producer Harvey Weinstein announced for the first time on Howard Stern’s radio show that he is making a full feature drama to try to destroy the National Rifle Association.

Mr. Stern asked Mr. Weinstein on Wednesday whether he owned a gun. The Hollywood heavyweight replied that he did not and never would. “I don’t think we need guns in this country. And I hate it,” the producer said. 2014_01_17_Rule Five Friday (2)“I think the NRA is a disaster area.”

Mr. Weinstein then revealed his secret project about the gun rights group. “I shouldn’t say this, but I’ll tell it to you, Howard,” he said. “I’m going to make a movie with Meryl Streep, and we’re going to take this head-on. And they’re going to wish they weren’t alive after I’m done with them.”

If you’ll allow me to make a prediction, Mr. Weinstein (and even if you won’t) I will make one, and also an observation:

  1. The NRA will be just fine, in fact they may gain members because of you, and
  2. You’re an idiot.

2014_01_17_Rule Five Friday (3)In the first place, political movies never go down well, whether they are Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth or the right-of-center American Carol.  The American movie-going public wants to be entertained, not to be lectured or harangued – yr. obdt. included.   These kinds of movies attract pathetically low audiences made up almost exclusively of viewers who already agree with the political statements being made in the film.

In the second place, the NRA is nothing like the silly caricature Mr. Weinstein seems to have in mind.  (Full disclosure:  Mrs. Animal and myself are both Life Members of the NRA.)  The NRA is not a sinister organization run by a cabal of masterminds; it is, honestly and in every sense of the word, a true grass-roots organization boasting 2014_01_17_Rule Five Friday (5)more than four million dues-paying members.   The NRA’s officers and Board are elected by their members, and the organizations by-laws and organization priorities are likewise decided by the members.

How many other civil-rights organizations can make that claim?

So, the NRA is powerful because its members give it the power.  Through memberships starting at $35 a year, they empower the NRA to act on their behalf, not only to provide training, insurance and a host of services but also to protect their Second Amendment rights in Washington and the several state capitols, because they believe it’s the right thing to do.

So, this film, assuming it gets made, will amount to naught.  But it’s worth examining Mr. Weinstein’s credits as a producer, which include violent, gun-filled films like Django Unchained and 2014_01_17_Rule Five Friday (4)Grindhouse.   Weinstein is a hypocrite of the worst sort.

And, incidentally, this won’t be his first act of cinematographic futility.  Does anyone remember 2009’s Capitalism – A Love Story?

Anyone?

Anyone?

Me neither.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Halfway to Friday!

Not many people know that the United States’ oldest corporation is a gunmaker, namely the Remington Arms Company.  From 1918 to 1927 Remington made the Model 51 pistol, a small pocket piece in .380ACP and .32ACP.  The Model 51 was a popular pocket pistol; George Patton owned one, and reportedly used it to fire at German bombers attacking his North African headquarters in 1943.

Remington 51
Remington 51

Incidentally, even though General Patton is one of my personal heroes and was a warrior without peer, shooting at an attacking bomber with a .32 is pretty much the definition of futility – but, knowing Patton’s flair for the dramatic, it’s likely the motive was a bit of inspirational showboating, rather than effective fire.

Now, in a bid to enter the fast-growing concealed-carry market, Remington has given the Model 51 an update and redesign, and is re-introducing it as the R51.

Remington R51.
Remington R51.

The R51 is a neat-looking piece of hardware.  It’s a 9mm rather than the .32/.380 of the original, which gives it a little more punch.  Better still, the R51 is rated for +P ammo, which gives it quite a bit more punch.  The layout looks simple and usable, with a 1911-style trigger, a grip safety and a slim grip wrapped around a single-stack magazine.

What’s best about this new Remington?  Quite possibly this:  The price tag.  Suggested retail is $420, which means the gun will probably retail most places for $375-400.  Upshot:  Remington is going after the mid-priced compact 9mm market in a big way, and the R51 has the Ruger LC9, the Beretta Nano, the Taurus PT709S and the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield squarely in its sights.

Remington went through some bad times in the past, particularly during the phase of importing some truly awful Russian-made P.O.S. shotguns and putting the Remington name on them.  The R51 would seem to be an indication that they are on the way back.  Let’s hope that trend continues.