Rule Five Friday

2014_12_12_Rule Five Friday (1)This just in from Pew Research:  Growing Public Support for Gun Rights.  Excerpt:

For the first time in more than two decades of Pew Research Center surveys, there is more support for gun rights than gun control. Currently, 52% say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns, while 46% say it is more important to control gun ownership.

Support for gun rights has edged up from earlier this year, and marks a substantial shift in attitudes since shortly after the Newtown school shootings, which occurred two years ago this Sunday.

The balance of opinion favored gun control in the immediate aftermath of the Newtown tragedy in December 2012, and again a month later. Since 2014_12_12_Rule Five Friday (2)January 2013, support for gun rights has increased seven percentage points – from 45% to 52% — while the share prioritizing gun control has fallen five points (from 51% to 46%).

This is interesting but not overwhelming?  Why?  Two reasons:

  1. The poll shows a tendency, but not an overwhelming one.  The number of survey respondees favoring gun ownership is only leading by six points.  The trend is interesting but not necessarily significant – at least not yet.  It’s a step in the right direction though.
  2. This is the primary one; public opinion polls are interesting, but not a good basis for public policy, even when we like them.  As an 2014_12_12_Rule Five Friday (3)Objectivist one should favor a scrupulous examination of facts, intelligently derived statistics and solid data.  Fortunately the facts favor the pro-gun side; look at any of the data following the passage of liberalized (in the classical sense) concealed-carry legislation.

For the last forty years or so gun control has been a highly partisan issue.  Democrats as a rule favor restrictions on guns, Republicans as a rule are against them.  There are exceptions but they are just that – exceptions.  But of late gun control has been a losing issue, politically, as three Colorado state senators here learned to their sorrow.  Even today, as the Democrats nationally are lurching to the left, there is still a solid leavening of older Truman Democrats in that party, blue-collar folks who own and use guns and don’t like seeing them messed with.

2014_12_12_Rule Five Friday (4)Zell Miller, one of the last true moderate Democrats, understood that.  Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi don’t.  That may be one of the reasons the Democrats self-destructed last election cycle, although in all candor it wasn’t a major issue.

Pew concludes:  In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

2014_12_12_Rule Five Friday (5)In other words, the fight will continue.  At the heart of it are these words:

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.

It is plain language.  The Supreme Court has, in more than one case, ruled that yes, it does present an individual right.

So why are we still arguing about it?

2014_12_12_Rule Five Friday (6)

Back OnLine

tumblr_lqln1td4rH1qf2i1ho1_1280OK, we’re back.  A technical issue (crappy server security) on our old web hosting service led to us having to find a new hosting company on short notice, but all is well now.  Regular posts will resume with Rule Five Friday tomorrow.

The young lady pictured here works for neither the old nor the new hosting company, nor did she have anything to do with resolving our technical issues.  Her appearance here is purely gratuitous.

Your patience is appreciated!

Goodbye, Blue Monday

2014_12_08_Goodbye Blue Monday
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Looks like yr. obdt. will be heading back to work soon, and not in any of the anticipated/feared locations (Cleveland or Frisco.)  No, it looks like the upcoming 3-6 month gig will be in a place I’ve worked before and loved – Ogden, Utah.

Why?

1) John Browning’s birthplace.  Seriously, maybe some of that gun designer genius will rub off?  If any True Believers happen to find themselves in Ogden, I highly recommend a visit to the Browning museum.  The hand-made prototypes of world-changing guns like the 1911 and the Auto-5 alone are worth the visit.

2) Climate/location.  8 hours from home by Rojito, 90 minutes by air.  Same time zone as the homestead.  Pretty much the same mild winters, at least compared to the upper Midwest where I’ve spent the last two winters.  Arrival will be too late for grouse hunting or much else, but rabbit seasons are open until end of February, so it may be worth taking a .22 along.

3) Scenery.  My previous visit to Ogden got cut short before I could get a good look at the Great Salt Lake, a genuinely unique landmark in this area – and the Wasatch Mountains are a great place to spend a weekend bumming around.

4) Folks.  Say what you will about Mormons, but in my experience they are some of the nicest, friendliest folks around – and there are enough gentiles in the Ogden area (gentile being the Mormon term for any non-Mormon) that I can get a beer if I want one.

2014_12_08_Goodbye Blue Monday II
Blue Monday Bonus!

So, it looks like a good gig coming up.  It may lack some of the perks of other locations I’ve worked, like southern California’s salubrious climate and ample supply of the Feminine Aesthetic, or Japan’s great food, beautiful scenery and wonderful wackiness, or Minnesota’s incredible fishing, but all in all I’ll take Ogden.

Travel will probably happen in the next few days.  And now that I’ve got my excitement about the new gig out in the open, regular news/commentary posts will return tomorrow at the latest.

Excelsior!

Rule Five Friday

2014_12_05_Rule Five Friday (1)For our Friday edification (and maybe warning) here’s another piece from the inestimable Dr. Victor Davis Hanson:  War Clouds on the Horizon.  Excerpt:

In the decade before World War I, the near-hundred-year European peace that had followed the fall of Napoleon was taken for granted. Yet it abruptly imploded in 1914. Prior little wars in the Balkans had seemed to predict a much larger one on the horizon — and were ignored.

The exhausted Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires were spent forces unable to control nationalist movements in their provinces. The British Empire was fading. Imperial Germany was rising. Czarist Russia was beset with revolutionary rebellion. As power shifted, decline for some nations seemed like opportunity for others.

2014_12_05_Rule Five Friday (2)The same was true in 1939. The tragedy of the Versailles Treaty of 1919 was not that it had been too harsh. In fact, it was far milder than the terms Germany had imposed on a defeated Russia in 1918 or the requirements it had planned for France in 1914.

Instead, Versailles combined the worst of both worlds: harsh language without any means of enforcement.

The subsequent appeasement of Britain and France, the isolationism of the United States, and the collaboration of the Soviet Union with Nazi Germany green-lighted Hitler’s aggression — and another world war.

Could we be headed into a third global conflict?  Dr. Hanson thinks there is a distinct possibility:

The ancient ingredients of war are all on the horizon. An old postwar order crumbles amid American indifference. Hopes for true democracy in post-Soviet Russia, newly capitalist China, or ascendant Turkey long ago were dashed. Tribalism, fundamentalism, and terrorism are the norms in the Middle East as the nation-state disappears.

2014_12_05_Rule Five Friday (3)Under such conditions, history’s wars usually start when some opportunistic — but often relatively weaker — power does something unwise on the gamble that the perceived benefits outweigh the risks. That belligerence is only prevented when more powerful countries collectively make it clear to the aggressor that it would be suicidal to start a war that would end in the aggressor’s sure defeat.

What is scary in these unstable times is that a powerful United States either thinks that it is weak or believes that its past oversight of the postwar order was either wrong or too costly — or that after Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, America is no longer a force for positive change.

A large war is looming, one that will be far more costly than the preventive vigilance that might have stopped it.

Yr. obdt’s concern is this:  America is weak, weaker than it has been since before the Second World War.  While we still maintain the shell of military might – in the post-Cold War world America has known a degree of unchallenged military supremacy unknown since the fall of the Roman Empire – it’s only a shell.  We can’t sustain it; we lack the industrial capacity or, worse, the will as a nation to sustain a lengthy struggle.  Were the WW2 Pacific conflict in progress today, one can only imagine the evening news broadcasts and frantic web videos showing carnage in far-away places like the Solomon Islands and the cries to “leave the west Pacific to Japan” and bring our Marines home.

2014_12_05_Rule Five Friday (4)And there’s more; a third world war will proceed with catastrophic speed.  One of the few constants in the history of war is that celerity has increased with technology.  WW1 armies fought bitterly for months over a few miles of ground, while in WW2 Allied armies smashed from Normandy and the Caucasus to the gates of Berlin in a few months.  Imagine a third world war fought in the modern world – where nonuniformed irregulars take advantage of commercial air travel and flow across porous borders with the greatest of ease.

America’s heavy industrial capacity is much reduced, and in a new world war, we will not have the luxury of time to ramp up.  The oceans no longer provide a barrier to aggressors, and our borders have become a sad joke.

But Americans are far more concerned with the coming Sunday’s football and Kim Kardashian’s ass than with the legions of thugs across the world who want to destroy America and kill Americans.  It’s Rome all over again, and too few of us see it coming – our political “leadership” least of all.

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Animal’s Daily News

Silver BearIn the style of the esteemed Dr. Sowell, here today are some random thoughts and notes on the passing scene.

Some interesting work possibilities are in progress.  Bids are out on four projects; two in the Bay Area, one in Cleveland, and one in Ogden, Utah.  Of the four the Ogden job is vastly preferable.  As far as the work itself there is little to differentiate the four, but the Ogden area is vastly preferable to the others; quiet, scenic, friendly, reasonably close to home, and the climate and landscape are familiar.  We are reliably informed there is some great waterfowling in the area.

Sleepy-BearGasoline prices continue to drop.  We filled up Mrs. Animal’s Explorer today for $2.66 a gallon.  Before the Thanksgiving holiday gas here in the metro Denver area was over $3.  Apparently the Saudis are ramping up production to try to squeeze out the boom in North American shale production, but either way it’s good for consumers, and when the sheiks run out of oil the shale fields will still be there.  And they can’t touch us on natural gas production, which will continue.

The 2016 presumptive Democrat Presidential front-runner, Hillary Clinton, is underwhelming crowds.  In the considered opinion of yr. obdt., who has been a dedicated election-watcher since the 1976 contest, she won’t be the nominee.  She is carrying more baggage than a Samsonite factory, and she is old news.  And remember – she was the presumptive nominee in 2008 as well, and was adroitly taken out by a newcomer nobody much had heard of before that year.

Manly Arts.
Manly Arts.

One of our favorite state wildlife areas, the 891-acre Brush State Wildlife Area, no long requires reservations!  This SWA is a great place to jump-shoot some tasty wild mallards, and there are white-tailed deer, rabbits, a few pheasants, quail and squirrels on the land as well.  The Brush SWA is also not what most non-Coloradans think of when they think of our state; east of Ft. Morgan, it’s all Platte River lowlands, flat and lightly wooded with cottonwoods and ash trees.  It’s a fun place to take a shotgun and wander around for a couple of hours, and now that we can do it on short notice – which work schedules frequently mandate – it’s back on the list of Things That Need Doing.  Maybe this week sometime.

One that outdoorsy note, we return you to your Thursday, already in progress.

Animal’s Hump Day News

2014_12_03_Hump Day
Happy Hump Day!

One more piece of news on the Ferguson kerfuffle, this from the always-worth-reading Dr. Thomas Sowell; Opinion Vs. Facts.  Excerpt:

Soon after the shooting death of Michael Brown, this 285-pound young man was depicted as a “gentle giant.” But, after a video was leaked, showing him bullying the owner of a store from which he had stolen some merchandise, Attorney General Eric Holder expressed displeasure that the video was leaked. In other words, to Holder the truth was offensive, but the lie it exposed was not.

Many people who claimed to have been eyewitnesses to the fatal shooting gave opposite accounts of what happened. Some even gave accounts that contradicted what they themselves had said earlier.

Fortunately, the grand jury did not have to rely on such statements, though some in the media seemed to. What the grand jury had, that the rest of us did not have until the grand jury’s decision was announced, was a set of physical facts that told a story that was independent of what anybody said.

The facts have been available for some time.

Item:  The confrontation was initiated by Officer Wilson when Brown and his companion were walking in the middle of a street and defiantly refused to move to the sidewalk.

Grizzly-Bear-FaceItem:  Michael Brown’s blood and DNA were found inside the police vehicle and on Darren Wilson’s service sidearm, corroborating Wilson’s testimony that Brown lunged into the vehicle and attempted to grab the officer’s weapon.

Item:  Several autopsies confirmed that all of the shots that struck Michael Brown did so from the front, not the back.

Item:  Several witnesses confirmed Officer Wilson’s testimony that Brown was charging the police officer, head down “like a football player,” when Wilson fired the fatal shots.

Add to this that the burden of evidence for a grand jury is quite a bit lower than that demanded in a trial.  In a criminal trial, the prosecution is required to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.  To return an indictment, all a grand jury needs is a preponderance of evidence, or a likelihood that charges are justified.

This grand jury found no such preponderance of evidence.

So what do the Ferguson protestors want?  The rule of law junked for this case?  The decision of a legally convened and conducted grand jury thrown out to appease the demands of a mob?

Such a thing is unthinkable in a nation that claims to value the rule of law.

Splashing-BearsDr. Sowell concludes:  Who benefits from the Ferguson riots? The biggest beneficiaries are politicians and racial demagogues. In Detroit, Mayor Coleman Young was one of many political demagogues who were able to ensure their own reelection, using rhetoric and policies that drove away people who provided jobs and taxes, but who were likely to vote against him if they stayed. Such demagogues thrived as Detroit became a wasteland.

This, True Believers, is why the paid protestors and out-of-towners in Ferguson are rioting, stealing and burning.  They don’t give a damn about Michael Brown.  They have their own agendas, and this is an opportunity to chip away at the rule of law.

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