It’s a Baaaad Time for It, But…

SayUncle points to a new anti-gunblogger, Robyn Ringler, who blogs at the Albany, N.Y. Times-Union newspaper’s website. Apparently they allow outsiders to use their bandwidth if the author’s blog topic is approved by the paper.

Somehow I doubt they’d approve of The Smallest Minority, so it’s probably a good thing I have no plans to move.

Ms. Ringler is both a nurse and a lawyer whose claim to fame is that she nursed Ronald Reagan after he was shot by John Hinkley. She started her blog April 17 – the day after the VA Tech massacre. In her second post she wrote:

Blame it on President George W. Bush–it’s all his fault. It may be considered in poor taste to talk about gun control right now, but he started it.

I first heard about the shooting on Monday while driving in the car. NPR reported that a gunman had killed multiple students at Virginia Tech. In the same broadcast, President Bush’s first reaction was released.

The president is “horrified” at the shootings, said a White House spokesperson, but he is still in favor of a constitutional right to bear arms.

Hearing that while driving a car was far more dangerous than any cell phone. If I could have fallen off the seat, I would have.
Translation of the president’s message: You can kill all the kids you want. I never have and never will do anything to prevent a mentally disturbed, violent person like Cho Seung-Hui from getting all the semiautomatic handguns and ammunition he or she wants.

(*sigh*) Oh, boy. In a later post she wrote:

The question is not, “Who should own a gun?” The question is “Who should NOT have a gun?”

There is no way to know by looking at a person and having a two-minute conversation. Here, in the motel lobby, I think, I NEED MORE INFORMATION.

Has a judge or magistrate ever committed that person to a mental institution because he posed an imminent threat to himself or others? Has he been convicted of a felony? What if he wasn’t convicted, but there were significant complaints against him or what if he plea bargained down from a felony to a misdemeanor? Is he a stalker? An abuser? Someone who doesn’t know how to use a gun safely? Or store it properly?

We need to take the time to ask the important questions. Our LEGISLATORS need to take the time to ask the important questions. They are our leaders. They are who we turn to in a crisis. They are the ones who need to act on our behalf. Where are they?

Ms. Ringler is obviously someone convinced that other people are responsible for her protection.

In the post that SayUncle points to first in his piece, he notes that Ms. Ringler, like essentially all anti-gun activists, is very poorly educated on her topic of passion. It seems that she wants to ban the .50 caliber BMG rifle. Apparently she believed (she has since retracted) that Muhammed and Malvo used a .50 in the D.C. Sniper shootings, among other things.

So, I have invited her to debate.

Let me be up front and state that I am an advocate for individual rights in general, and the right to keep and bear arms in particular. I would ask you to please not dismiss me out of hand because of that, however.

I’ve read several posts here, and have reached the conclusion that you are well-meaning, but misinformed. Obviously as a nurse and a lawyer, you have a good brain between your ears, but you’ve been mislead(sic). I understand what it is that you believe you are advocating, but I don’t believe you’ve thought out the actual implications of those positions.
I would very much like to debate the topic with you, either here or at my blog or even privately via email (though, obviously I’d prefer to have the discussion be public) on the topic of gun control. (Note to self: Proofread, proofread, proofread before hitting “submit.” – Ed.) I believe you would find it enlightening. Though I honestly doubt I would “convert” you to a gun-rights position, I know that you would receive a different perspective that would at least moderate your position.
In a public forum our debate would offer an opportunity for others to see both sides of the argument, discussed rationally and in a civilized manner, backed with facts and links to source information to allow readers to see and decide for themselves.
Thank you for your attention. I await your response.

Kevin Baker – proprietor, The Smallest Minority

I’m going to be busy as hell for the next, oh, eight weeks, so debating will be difficult at best, but to be honest I don’t expect her to respond. She certainly needs more information, but I don’t think she’s really interested in hearing from the other side.

UPDATE, 6/1: I’ll be damned. I left another comment at Ms. Ringler’s site, answering her list of ten questions. At the end of that comment, I left another invitation to debate, (note the “more on this below” in response #5) but it was edited out. It would appear that she is not at all interested in any kind of honest exchange with her opposition. I’m so disappointed.

Unsurprised, but disappointed.

Dept. of Our Collapsing Schools, Higher Education Div.

(via Instapundit)

Author and City Journal contributing editor John Leo riffs on writing and higher education in On Good Writing, a speech he gave in 2006. Excerpts:

George Orwell, at the beginning of his essay, “Politics and the English Language,” made clear that he thought the language had become disheveled and decadent. That was in 1946. Intending shock, Orwell offered five examples of sub-literate prose by known writers. But these examples don’t look as ghastly to us as they did to Orwell, because language is so much worse today.

Several kinds of writing heresies are thriving in the universities. One is that the ability to write is so unimportant that it should be expected only in the humanities department, maybe just in English courses. Another is the romantic notion that rules, coherence, grammar and punctuation are unimportant. What counts is the gushing of the writing self. One adherent of this school of thought told me that we should no longer talk about misspellings, but personal spellings. The self decides what is right and wrong. Writing in the Public Interest magazine, Heather Mac Donald reported that “students who have been told in their writing class to let their deepest selves loose on the page and not worry about syntax, logic, or form have trouble adjusting to their other classes—the ones in which evidence and analysis are more important than personal revelation or feelings.”

Grammar and clear expression are under another kind of attack as well. Rules, good writing, and simple coherence are sometimes depicted as habits of the powerful and privileged. James Sledd, professor emeritus of English at the University of Texas, writes in the textbook College English that standard English is “essentially an instrument of domination.” If proper English is oppressive, what could be more logical that setting out to undermine it? English Leadership Quarterly ran an article urging teachers to encourage intentional writing errors as “the only way to end its oppression of linguistic minorities and learning writers.” The pro-error article, written by two professors at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, actually won an award from the quarterly, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English. So you can now win awards for telling the young to write badly. (YU CAN NOW WIN A WARD IF YU CAN TELL YOUNG TO BADLY WRITE.)

When George Orwell wrote 1984 the “Big Brother” government controlled the language with specific intent. The control of language was termed “Newspeak,” and the purpose behind Newspeak, as Orwell explained in an appendix, was:

…not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc (English Socialism), but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought – that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc – should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meanings and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and by stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meanings whatever. To give a single example. The word free still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be used in such statements as ‘This dog is free from lice’ or ‘This field is free from weeds’. It could not be used in its old sense of ‘’politically free’ or ‘intellectually free’ since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed even as concepts, and were therefore of necessity nameless. Quite apart from the suppression of definitely heretical words, reduction of vocabulary was regarded as an end in itself, and no word that could be dispensed with was allowed to survive. Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum.

Newspeak was founded on the English language as we now know it, though many Newspeak sentences, even when not containing newly-created words, would be barely intelligible to an English-speaker of our own day.

The man was truly prophetic. Later in that appendix:

When Oldspeak had been once and for all superseded, the last link with the past would have been severed. History had already been rewritten, but fragments of the literature of the past survived here and there, imperfectly censored, and so long as one retained one’s knowledge of Oldspeak it was possible to read them. In the future such fragments, even if they chanced to survive, would be unintelligible and untranslatable. It was impossible to translate any passage of Oldspeak into Newspeak unless it either referred to some technical process or some very simple everyday action, or was already orthodox (goodthinkful would be the Newspeak expression) in tendency. In practice this meant that no book written before approximately 1960 could be translated as a whole. Pre-revolutionary literature could only be subjected to ideological translation—that is, alteration in sense as well as language. Take for example the well-known passage from the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of those ends, it is the right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government. . .

It would have been quite impossible to render this into Newspeak while keeping to the sense of the original. The nearest one could come to doing so would be to swallow the whole passage up in the single word crimethink. A full translation could only be an ideological translation, whereby Jefferson’s words would be changed into a panegyric on absolute government.

I quoted Thomas Sowell a couple of posts ago:

A recently reprinted memoir by Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) has footnotes explaining what words like ‘arraigned,’ ‘curried’ and ‘exculpate’ meant, and explaining who Job was. In other words, this man who was born a slave and never went to school educated himself to the point where his words now have to be explained to today’s expensively under-educated generation.

There is really nothing very mysterious about why our public schools are failures. When you select the poorest quality college students to be public school teachers, give them iron-clad tenure, a captive audience, and pay them according to seniority rather than performance, why should the results be surprising?

Ours may become the first civilization destroyed, not by the power of our enemies, but by the ignorance of our teachers and the dangerous nonsense they are teaching our children. In an age of artificial intelligence, they are creating artificial stupidity.

In a democracy, we have always had to worry about the ignorance of the uneducated. Today we have to worry about the ignorance of people with college degrees.

For those of us with a modern public-school education and a college degree, a “panegyric” is defined as “a lofty oration or writing in praise of a person or thing”. Orwell published 1984 in 1949. It is fascinating that he put the target date for the end of “Oldspeak” and the complete adoption of Newspeak to be about 2050.

We seem to be right on schedule.

Memorial Day

This memorial day, I’m posting a bleg. Not for me, but for the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who are stationed all over our country, and all over the world. And not for just them, but also their families. This year, in addition to that moment of silence, or that moment of appreciation for what our military secures for us, give something back – voluntarily.

Printed below is a list of charities dedicated to helping members of the military and their families. They are presented in no particular order. Choose one (or more than one) and donate what you can to them. Some will accept material goods, some will accept airline miles, all will accept cash donations.

The Fisher House:

The Fisher House™ program is a unique private-public partnership that supports America’s military in their time of need. The program recognizes the special sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and the hardships of military service by meeting a humanitarian need beyond that normally provided by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

Because members of the military and their families are stationed worldwide and must often travel great distances for specialized medical care, Fisher House™ Foundation donates “comfort homes,” built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers. These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful times – during the hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury.

If you donate unused airline frequent-flier miles this weekend, the airlines will match your donation.

Soldier’s Angels:

Soldiers Angels has been supporting our nation’s military men and women since 2003. Our mission is to provide aid and comfort to the military and its families, provide immediate response to hard situations, and make sure no soldier feels unloved.We start with letters, care pacakges, and comfort items to our deployed. We also help their families here at home as requested.

Through special projects, dedicated teams and individuals supporting our troops we hope to make a difference in the lives of our soldiers. Find out how you can get involved!

Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund:

Since September 11, 2001, United States Marines have been on the front line
of the War on Terror. Their bravery and dedication have had a price. Many have been wounded, some seriously, and some resulting in lifelong disabilities.

Because of medical advances, Marines are now surviving injuries that were not survivable in past wars. They face extended hospital stays and months if not years of recovery and rehabilitation.

Few families are prepared to deal with the personal and financial disruption associated with leaving their home, their family, and their job to be with their loved one through long months of hospitalization, rehabilitation and recuperation.

The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund provides financial assistance to:

·Marines injured in combat and in training

·Other service members injured while in direct support of Marine units

·Their families.

This assistance is in the form of a grant with no expectation of repayment. Grants may help with immediate financial needs such as travel, childcare, lodging or problems resulting from lost wages. Assistance is also given for long term needs such as modified homes and vans.

Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund:

The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund is a leader in supporting the men and women of the Armed Forces and their families. Begun in 2000 under the auspices of the Intrepid Museum Foundation, and established as an independent not-for-profit organization in 2003, the Fund has provided close to $60 million in support for the families of military personnel lost in service to our nation, and for severely wounded military personnel and veterans. These efforts are funded entirely with donations from the public, and hundreds of thousands of individuals have contributed to the Fund. 100% of contributions raised by the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund go towards these programs; all administrative expenses are underwritten by the Fund’s Trustees.

From 2000 to 2005 the Fund provided close to $20 million to families of United States military personnel lost in performance of their duty, mostly in service in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Fund provided unrestricted grants of $11,000 to each spouse and $5,000 to each dependent child; and $1,000 to parents of unmarried servicemembers. The payments were coordinated with the casualty offices of the Armed Forces, to ensure all families received these benefits. In 2005 federal legislation substantially increased the benefits granted to these families. With that mission therefore accomplished, the Fund redirected its support toward the severely injured.

Special Operations Warrior Foundation:

Special Operations personnel are conducting more missions, in more places, and under a broader range of conditions than ever before. These missions entail high operational tempos, heavy and unpredictable deployment schedules, personal hardships and, by their very nature, inordinate casualties both in operations and training. Unfortunately these casualties occur at an early age, at the beginning of their careers, thus leaving behind families who have yet to accumulate the resources to provide for their surviving children’s college education.

The Special Operations Warrior Foundation strives to relieve Special Operations personnel of the one concern, their families, that might distract them from peak performance when they need to be – and when America needs them to be – at their very best.

Today, more than 700 such deserving children exist who should not be denied the education their fallen parent would surely have wanted for them. With nearly 100 children eligible each year for college in the upcoming years, the Foundation’s estimated financial need through 2018 is $60 million.

The Army Emergency Relief Fund:

AER is a private nonprofit organization incorporated in 1942 by the Secretary of War and the Army Chief of Staff. AER’s sole mission is to help soldiers and their dependents.

AER is the Army’s own emergency financial assistance organization and is dedicated to “Helping the Army Take Care of Its Own”. AER provides commanders a valuable asset in accomplishing their basic command responsibility for the morale and welfare of soldiers.

AER funds are made available to commanders having AER Sections to provide emergency financial assistance to soldiers – active & retired – and their dependents when there is a valid need.

AER funds made available to commanders are not limited and are constrained only by the requirement of valid need.

For these reasons, the AER assistance program is conducted within the Army structure by major commanders and their installation/organization commanders through AER sections and other related organizations.

The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society:

Founded in 1904, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is a private non-profit charitable organization. It is sponsored by the Department of the Navy and operates nearly 250 offices ashore and afloat at Navy and Marine Corps bases throughout the world. The Society was incorporated in the District of Columbia and has its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. It is managed by a Board of Directors whose members are active duty or retired members of the Naval Services, or spouses of active duty or retired members of the Naval Services.

The mission of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is to provide, in partnership with the Navy and Marine Corps, financial, educational, and other assistance to members of the Naval Services of the United States, eligible family members, and survivors when in need; and to receive and manage funds to administer these programs.

The Air Force Aid Society:

The AIR FORCE AID SOCIETY (AFAS) is the official charity of the U.S. Air Force. It promotes the Air Force mission by helping “to relieve distress of Air Force members and their families and assisting them to finance their education”. It is rooted in the original Army Air Corps and the World War II Army Air Forces, whose members wanted to “take care of their own.” Through the years, AFAS has become increasingly effective in helping individuals with personal emergencies– as well as extremely useful when used by commanders to help solve personnel problems in their units.

The AIR FORCE AID SOCIETY, since its creation in 1942 as a non-profit organization, has helped countless members of the Air Force community. Strong support for AFAS programs and objectives is reinforced each year by the substantial personal contributions made by the active force, all of which are used solely for Emergency Assistance. Although AFAS receives no appropriated or non-appropriated funds, close ties are maintained between the Society and Air Force officials.

The Armed Services YMCA:

The Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA), a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, is a national member association of the YMCA of the USA and works with the Department of Defense. Headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, the ASYMCA has provided support services to military service members and their families for more than 140 years, particularly focused on junior-enlisted men and women – the individuals on the front lines defending our nation and their families. ASYMCA operates at 16 dedicated branch locations and nine affiliated community YMCAs, as well as six Department of Defense/Department of Homeland Security affiliates worldwide.

ASYMCA offers essential programs such as childcare, hospital assistance, spouse support services, food services, computer training classes, health and wellness services, and holiday meals, among many others. In 2006 alone, more than 9,133 individuals nationwide volunteered their time to the ASYMCA, logging 214,622 volunteer hours.

The Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund:

The Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that was founded October 23, 2003 by Rebecca Campbell and is based in the D.C. Metropolitan area.

After the attacks on our nation her youngest son enlisted in the U.S. Army and served with the 82nd Airborne out of Fort Bragg, N.C. Her nephew was already serving in the USMC and was deployed to Afghanistan as well as other close friends. In February 2003 her son was deployed to Baghdad and later that year with the help of family and friends she organized a fundraiser to help children affected by the loss of a parent. The idea was to help one or two children who had lost their parent(s) overseas during his or her deployment with college assistance. The first fundraiser was held two weeks later and was a big success! She simply cannot stop and with the help of volunteers and the public we continue with our mission of support. Her son, nephew and other close friends did come home, however, others have not and with the continual support from the public the dream to help our families in need is becoming a reality. As of today, April 24, 2007 Fort Bragg has lost 119 troops in the Iraq war.

Our Mission:

The CFSRF was founded in order to provide support to surviving U.S. Military children and spouses that have lost a loved one in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars or whose service member has sustained a serious disability.

Our objectives are to help U.S. Military children and spouses with College Grants as well as provide financial assistance to those families in need of help with housing, utilities, food and clothing. Often, when a loss occurs in these families what was a two person income becomes one. The financial hardships placed on these families are very difficult to deal with. Their lives are devastated and forever changed.

We are determined to help make the last wishes of those lost to the casualty of war possible by assisting their families with their needs. However, we can only do this through the help of others.


The AdoptaPlatoon Soldier Support Effort™ founded in 1998 is a nonprofit 501C-3 organization managed nationwide by volunteer mothers to ensure that deployed United States Service members in all branches of the military are not forgotten by providing needed mail support and to promote patriotism in our schools and communities. To provide a better deployment quality of life, lift morale, and assist military families, the AAP created projects that meet the need of military requests, established special projects for holidays, and assigns individual morale lifting mail support to service members of all branches of the U.S. military serving their Nation around the world.

AmericanSnipers (formerly Adopt a Sniper):

We are active local, state, and federal police snipers as well as snipers from the various military branches.

We are a tight-knit group that believes strongly in supporting our brothers that are deployed to the front lines. In return for that support, they then pass on their gained knowledge upon their return.

We work hard and believe in our missions.

We train hard so that when the time comes, we can accomplish our missions to the fullest of our abilities.

We are snipers that need support in the form of advanced gear as well as “creature comfort” items to help us pass the time while we are away from our jobs and our families.

We are the ones putting our lives on the line to help keep this great country safe and free from terrorism. We are your sons, your brothers, your husbands, your fathers, as well as your friends.

We invite you to directly support the effort of those that are going in harms way on your behalf.

Any Soldier:

Sergeant Brian Horn from LaPlata, Maryland, an Army Infantry Soldier with the 173rd Airborne Brigade was in the Kirkuk area of Iraq when he started the idea of Any Soldier® to help care for his soldiers. He agreed to distribute packages that came to him with “Attn: Any Soldier” in his address to soldiers who didn’t get mail.
Brian later completed a tour in Afghanistan and is now home, but continues larger then ever.

Any Soldier Inc. started in August 2003 as a simple family effort to help the soldiers in one Army unit, thus our name. Due to overwhelming requests, on 1 January 2004 the Any Soldier® effort was expanded to include any member, of any of the Armed Forces in harms way.

Books for Soldiers:

During the first Gulf War, several of my friends from school were in the reserves and were activated to fight the Iraqis. CNN reported that once the soldiers were deployed, they were faced with massive downtime and were restricted to their base due to the travel limitations set by the Saudi government.

I am a voracious reader and at the beginning of the Gulf War, I had a closet full of paperback books. Books that were not being used. So instead of selling them at the used book store, I packed them up in small care packages and sent them out to all the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen I had addresses for.

Within a few weeks, I ran out of books before I ran out of addresses. Friends and family members began donating their paperback books and in the end, over 1000 books were sent to the Gulf.

After the war, we received many thank-you notes from soldiers who got one of our books. Unless it was time for them to fly back home, mail-call days were one of the most anticipated events of deployment. Regardless of why the military is deployed, the men and women of our armed services are there for us. They deserve our support and if we can make their deployment easier, then all the better.

Operation Give, founded by MilBlogger Paul Holton, “Chief Wiggles”:

The most unique aspect of Operation Give is that it not only supplies humanitarian aid to civilians in combat zones, but it also provides US military personnel who are deployed in those areas with the opportunity to connect with the civilians. Through our connections and contacts in the military, we desire to provide them with the resources needed to accomplish their mission of winning the hearts and minds of the people. This mission is just as important to us as providing much needed supplies and resources for the children of the countries where the military are stationed.

The Mission Statement:
The mission of Operation Give is to bring hope and happiness to struggling people the world over by helping them to gain access. Through servicing the requests of caring soldiers and civilians, we are working towards bringing disconnected economies into the global community, that all may experience the benefits and the peace that comes from economic connectivity and world-wide trade. As a bastion of freedom we, through kind and generous donations will provide the U.S. soldiers and indigenous civilians with the resources they need. Our focus will be greatest on children in these areas.

The philosophy:
We believe the key to peace throughout the world comes only through the eradication of poverty. By linking the isolated economies to the global trade community, internal rule sets within these countries will find a working equilibrium with the rest of the world. This will greatly decrease the likelihood of military conflict and terror world wide.

Operation Quiet Comfort:

Our Purpose :

Established for the purpose of honoring and comforting members of the U.S. Armed Forces injured while in harm’s way, and providing support to those who care for them.

Our Mission:

We’re creating care packages to be sent to “Any American Hero” at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) in Germany and other medical care facilities abroad.

Often our injured men and women arrive for medical care without their belongings. Even when injured, our troops need access to items like hygiene and grooming products, clothing, entertainment, and communication.

Many of these men and women have families and friends who face challenges at home and aren’t able to do all they would like to provide support.

It is the mission of this effort to help assure those individuals are honored for their sacrifice and comforted by creating “GO BAGS”, or transition kits. These kits include comfort items like our “Four Freedoms Gratitude Quilt”, personal care items, and products that entertain and provide “down time” for their spiritual, emotional, and physical healing.

Wounded Warrior Project:

The mission of the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) is to raise public awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of severely injured service men and women, to help severely injured service members to aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs.

WWP accomplishes this mission by providing programs and services to severely injured active service members and their families during the critical time between their initial rehabilitation while on active duty and their eventual transition to civilian life. WWP employs staff with over 55 years of combined experience in providing direct services to active duty service members and disabled veterans, including benefits counseling, representation before the department of veterans affairs, bringing public attention to the needs of wounded service members, and advocating for regulatory and statutory changes beneficial to veterans and active duty service members.

The USO:

The USO is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide morale, welfare and recreation-type services to our men and women in uniform. The original intent of Congress — and enduring style of USO delivery — is to represent the American people by extending a touch of home to the military. The USO currently operates more than 130 centers worldwide, including ten mobile canteens located in the continental United States and overseas. Overseas centers are located in Germany, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Qatar, Korea, Afghanistan, Guam, and Kuwait. Service members and their families visit USO centers more than 4.7 million times each year.

This is just a short list. There are many more. Pick one you like, and make a donation of time, material or money this Memorial Day.

UPDATE: Reader Rumpshot recommends Packages from Home, a local Arizona charity:

Packages from Home began as a mother’s labor of love for her son, a soldier with the Army’s 1st Infantry Division. Kathleen Lewis’s son Christian was deployed to Iraq in March 2004. She began sending care packages to her son on a regular basis. She received a phone call from Christian and was thanked for all the comfort items from home, but she also found out that her son was the only soldier in his squad receiving any packages from home. Kathleen and some friends decided to adopt his squad, and began shipping packages to the men in his unit. This is the point where “Packages from Home” was born.

Kathleen, along with her friends and neighbors, began having “packing parties” in her garage every month or so, sending requested and needed items to her son’s squad. As we all know, volunteerism for a good cause is contagious. As the small group of volunteers kept sending packages, more and more people began to get involved. In October 2004, the small organization received a call from a local a.m. radio talk show host. Bruce Jacobs from KFYI Radio invited Kathleen to be on his morning talk show to talk about her cause. After the appearance on his show, her phone lines lit up. Some people wanted to donate money, others wanted to donate items to support the troops, and others volunteered their time to help.

The grassroots effort began to grow in leaps and bounds from November 2004. By then we realized that the amount of donated goods, and the money coming in to ship the items, would require us to request charitable status with the IRS. Packages From Home is now a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

We are an all-volunteer group, with NO paid Officers and NO paid staff except for a nominal amount paid to a part-time bookkeeper. Our sole purpose is to provide food, personal care, seasonal comfort items and recreation items to deployed American troops, at no cost to the troops. With the one exception of the bookkeeper/CPA, none of us are paid, no one receives compensation of any sort.

UPDATE II: Markadelphia recommends Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America:

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America believes that Troops and Veterans who were on the front lines are uniquely qualified to speak about and educate the public about the realities of war, its implications on the health of our military and on the health of our country. These Troops & Veterans should be given a voice in the national dialogue and connected to the American public.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America believes that issues concerning our Troops & Veterans, the health of our Military, and our National Security are all interrelated. The IAVA philosophy/platform is that:

* A healthy, well-manned, well-equipped, and properly used Military is vital to our national security, but with substantial priority placed on personnel, not high-end weapons systems
* Our Troops must always be provided a clear mission (with goals and an exit strategy), be properly trained for the tasks it is given, and not be overextended in order to ensure success of the mission and to keep the military healthy.
* Our Troops must always be provided the best equipment and operating conditions that provide for the greatest level of safety and morale within reason.
* Veterans must be properly provided for, not only for moral reasons, but because it directly and significantly impacts recruitment and morale for the overall armed forces.

Now you may have perceived that this group is not exactly like the others, and you might be right about that. The most obvious difference I see is illustrated by this apparent dichotomy:

IAVA is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization. Your tax-deductible contributions are vital to our success.

As the Iraq War enters its fifth year, our obligation to show real support for our troops and veterans is both a moral duty and a crucial component of our national security. For 2007, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has developed the comprehensive IAVA Legislative Agenda to help legislators honor our men and women in uniform by addressing the real issues facing troops and new veterans. We look forward to working with the 110th Congress.

The IAVA Legislative Agenda covers four key areas: mental health, homecoming, health care, and government accountability. From these areas, we’ve chosen seven IAVA Legislative Priorities: actions Congress can take this session to show that they really support the men and women who have served and continue to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This charity, it seems, has a political agenda. Seeing as how they changed their name from “Operation Truth” much like “Handgun Control” changed their name, a rose by any other name…

Quelle surprise. But I assume they actually do some good.

Good Guys 1, Bad Guys 0.

From comes a “coulda ended worse” story. Let’s start with the post:

Ok so the other day i posted about a guy buying a gun wearing pink crocs…

The reason he wanted a gun was because a former employee stole from them and then he was fired. The employee then said they would hurt his family, throw acid in his wife face etc So he wanted to buy a gun for protection. No CCW so he has a 3 day wait. His Glock is still sitting on my shelf.

Yesterday two guys approached him in the drive way in the AM and pointed a gun at him and told him to go back inside the house. His wife was inside so he wasn’t going to do it. he jumped the guy with the gun and disarmed him and shot him. Killed the guy right there. The other guy took off.

Now the media’s version of the story:

Two arrested in connection with Cape homicide

Two people have been arrested in connection with a Cape Coral homicide, according to Cape Coral Police. But the man who pulled the trigger is not one of those charged with murder.

Damion Jordan Shearod, 20 of 3900 Central Ave., Fort Myers, and Jazzmyne Rahshel Carrol-Love, 19 of 611 Rabbit Road, were both charged with second-degree murder and robbery with a firearm. Shearod was also charged with trespassing. Both are in custody at the Lee County Jail.

Police spokeswoman Dyan Lee said Carrol-Love drove Shearod and the shooting victim to the address to commit an armed robbery. But a struggle ensued, the gun was dropped and the robbery victim fired at the suspects as they feld(sic) the scene.

The shooting victim still has not been identified.

From earlier today

Cape Coral police are currently investigating a shooting death at 2125 Northeast 1st Ave, just east of Santa Barbara Boulevard and north of Pine Island Road.

The unidentified victim, a black male in his 20s, police said, was face down on the driveway of the home when police arrived. Police said he died of a gunshot wound. Several neighbors reported hearing gunshots. The victim was not carrying any identification, police said.

Police have not officially ruled it a homicide, calling it a death investigation.

The victim does not appear to be a resident of the home, police said. Two other people — Jacob Sechler and Elizabeth Elizabeth Kachnic — are involved, but police are not sure in what capacity. According to the Lee County Property Appraiser’s website, the home is owned by Kachnic. The home, according to the website, was built last year for $297,000.

Kachnic was taken by police for questioning. Sechler was treated at the scene for injuries and released.He also was questioned by police. Sechler did place a 911 call about a disturbance at the house at 11:22 a.m.

Police believe the victim was running from the home prior to his death.

If it is officially ruled a homicide, it would be the third in three weeks in the city, after going almost the first four months of the year without one.

“Jazzmyne Rahshel Carrol-Love.” Sounds like a winner from one of Mostly Cajun’s Sunday birth announcements. Note the story indicates that the wealthy victim assailant shot that poor assailant victim in the back!

But here’s an update on the story:

Man shot dead in botched Cape robbery ID’d
Cape shooting has many unanswered questions

Police have identified the victim (editor’s note: No, the police have identified the dead alleged perpetrator. The victim pulled the trigger.) in a fatal shooting on Wednesday as John Patrick Moore Jr., 20, of 2616 Jean Marie Court in Fort Myers.

He was one of three suspects in a botched robbery attempt.

At approximately 11:22 a.m. Wednesday, police said Moore and two other suspects,
Damion Jordan Shearod, 20, and Jazzmyne Rahshei Carrol-Love, 19, drove from Fort Myers to 2125 NE 1st Avenue, where, police said, they planned to rob Jacob Seckler. He lived at the residence with the home’s owner, Elizabeth Kachnic.

Carrol-Love, the driver, remained in the vehicle as Shearod and Moore exited the vehicle.

Moore was armed with a gun and both men went to confront Sechler and tried to force him into the home, but a struggle ensued. Moore dropped the gun during the struggle and Sechler picked it up.

Both Moore and Shearod continued to struggle with the victim to regain possession of the gun, but the attempt failed, and Sechler fired at the suspects, striking Moore.

Moore fell and died in the victim’s driveway.

Note that there is now no “shot in the back” inference.

Damion Jordan Shearod and Jazzmyne Rahshei Carrol-Love were arrested Wednesday and charged with homicide and robbery with a firearm. Sechler was not charged.

Updated 10:45 a.m.

When two Fort Myers youths were arrested Wednesday night in the Cape Coral shooting death of a friend during a botched robbery, it was a familiar scenario for one of the suspects. (My emphasis.)

Police said Damion Jordan Shearod, 20, Jazzmyne Carrol-Love, 19, and an unidentified male were involved in an attempt to rob a Cape Coral couple at 2125 N.E. 1st Avenue Wednesday morning. But when one of the suspects dropped the gun, the would-be victim grabbed it and shot one of the suspects, killing him in the driveway. Police still have not released that man’s identity pending notification of his family.

While it doesn’t appear Shearod pulled the trigger on his friend in that shooting, he and Carrol-Love have been charged with second-degree murder and robbery with a firearm. The Cape homeowners, Jacob Selack and Elizabeth Kachnic, were not arrested by police.

But Shearod had been convicted two years ago for pulling the trigger on another friend, Giannis Avrampoulos, killing him, on Jan. 6, 2005.

The News-Press archives indicate he should have been sentenced to 24 years to life in prison. It was not immediately clear why he did not remain in prison. (Again, my emphasis)

Originally, Lee County Sheriff’s deputies charged both Shearod and his brother, Euric Thomas, then 17, of Avrampoulos’ killing, in which he was choked, shot multiple times and then robbed. Charges were later dropped against Thomas, but Shearod was convicted for the killing on July 12, 2005.

Shearod was acquitted by a judge four months after he was convicted by a jury of second-degree murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison, court documents show.

It was not immediately clear why Lee Circuit Judge James Thompson reversed the jury’s decision to convict Shearod of shooting Avrampoulos, but the state was appealing the decision.

Updated 7:40 a.m.

One of the two youths in jail today on murder and robbery charges had been charged with another murder in January 2005, Lee County Sheriff’s Office booking records show.

Damion Jordan Shearod, 20, was arrested Jan. 10, 2005 in the murder of his friend Giannis Avramopoulos, 18, of Lehigh Acres, according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

Shearod was accused of getting into an argument with Avramopoulos, pulling a gun out of his waistband and shooting the teenager, the report said. Shearod was released by court order later.

Shearod’s court appearance for Wednesday’s charges is scheduled June 18. His last known address is 3900 Central Ave. #308, Fort Myers. He is also known as DJ.

The second youth arrested, Jazzmyne Rahshel Carrol-Love, 19, has no prior record with the Lee sheriff’s office. Her last known address is 611 Rabbit Road, Sanibel. She is also scheduled to appear in court June 18.

The identity of the third suspect, who died at the Cape Coral home, still has not been released.

Posted Wednesday

After a botched robbery attempt, two Fort Myers youths were arrested Wednesday night in connection with the shooting death of their friend in Cape Coral.

Both suspects are charged with second-degree murder and robbery with a firearm.

According to Cape police spokeswoman Dyan Lee: Damion Jordan Shearod, 20, and Jazzmyne Rahshel Carrol-Love, 19, along with an unidentified man, drove to the home of Cape couple Jacob Seckler and Elizabeth Kachnic at 2125 N.E. 1st Avenue with the intent to rob them.

But when the unidentified man tried to force one of the would-be victims into the home, he accidentally dropped the gun, Lee said.

“The unidentified (deceased) male dropped the gun during the struggle and (Seckler) picked it up,” Lee stated.

Shearod, Seckler and the unidentified male wrestled for control of the weapon, but Seckler ultimately overpowered the two and fired at the suspects, killing one at the edge of his driveway.

Lee said the deceased man is not yet being identified pending notification of his family.

It is the third homicide for the city in as many weeks following four months without one.

“I’m horrified,” neighbor Maralee Haldeman said. “I heard about four or five gunshots, and at first I thought it was fireworks or something. I rushed outside and that’s when I saw (the deceased) there.”

Initially, police responded to what they thought was a disturbance at 11:22 a.m., Lee said, but officers found the man dead when they arrived. He was not carrying identification.

Seckler was the one who called police.

Neighbors said Seckler, who is in his late 40s, moved into the home with his girlfriend Kachnic, 37, in January. Kachnic is the owner of the home, which was built last year.

Police questioned both Kachnic and Seckler, who was treated for minor head injuries caused by a scuffle on the scene.

A connection between the couple and the gunshot victim was not immediately clear.

Kachnic had contacted police Tuesday to report her housekeeper stole a $5,800 watch and checks worth $480. Kachnic told police her former employee admitted to taking the items, but then left several vulgar messages on her voice mail.

In one, the accused woman reportedly said, “Tell Elizabeth to come to Fort Myers and get her watch. When she gets here, I will whack her (expletive).”

“Elizabeth feels very threatened and wants her watch back,” reporting officer R. Schilke wrote. “But she doesn’t want trouble.”

Haldeman described the neighborhood as quiet, and Kachnic and Seckler as “very nice.”

“They didn’t have any enemies,” she said. “They didn’t live here long enough to know many people at all. That’s why I think this burglary has something to do with it.”

Records show the couple moved to Florida from New Rochelle, N.Y., about 20 miles outside New York City.

As for the suspects, Carrol-Love does not appear to have a prior criminal record, but Shearod was arrested in the past for another homicide in 2005, as well as burglary and vehicle theft. It was not immediately clear why he was released after the 2005 homicide charge.

Yep. Those waiting periods really help keep the public safe, don’t they? One wonders if the dead perp had to wait three days before he took possession of the revolver that ended his life.

The original poster updates with this:

A person who worked the scene and who is a good customer here shared some awesome info.

The dead bad guy was wearing a shirt that said “Murder King, Have it your way”
I guess he had it his way….
he had baggy pants on and when he started to run his pants fell down around his ankles and tripped. He was NOT shot in the back. he was shot in the side. It was a 38spl s&w. One round entered the left lung and continued into his heart.

Who says that the .38 Special isn’t enough round? Defensive shooting is like real estate: location, location, location! And another update:

The gentleman came to pick up his gun today. Went it and shot it a bit. Did very well. Picked up a holster and some ammo. he was pissed… his eye had swelled up . he more upset about the black eye than anything.
here’s somethig pisses us off. the PD told him not to go home for 2 months. Told him to take a vacation. they searched the dirt bags house and found quite a few firearms there. Told him not to go home and he doesn’t want to go there alone. I gave my cell number and said i was off the next two days and i would go with him ,clear his house so he and his wife could get whatever they needed and check on their house. Don’t go home for 2 months. Thats a damn joke.
Another member here graciously offered to cover a course for him and his wife at Front Sight. i let him know and he said he would love to. i forwarded the e-mail to him.

Please note that is a message board. The finer points of capitalization, punctuation, and grammar are lost to a large portion of humanity. Still, it was an interesting story, and one with even a better ending: As I understand it, Florida recently passed a law protecting people from civil lawsuits if they are involved in a justifiable homicide. The victim here will not be further victimized by the legal (not “justice”) system. In England I have no doubt that Mr. Sechler would be sitting in a jail cell while the Crown Prosecution Service did their best to prove that he used “excessive force.” He would at least suffer a six week murder investigation as did Thomas O’Connor. Interestingly enough, Mr. O’Connor was advised to move away after his incident as well.

The 30th Anniversary of Star Wars.

I have to comment. I was 15 (!) when Star Wars hit the theater. I was then (and remain) a major fan of Science Fiction, but I had been burned by so many bad SciFi movies that I was not one of those who saw the film in its opening week. Actually, it took about three weeks before the word-of-mouth was irresistible and I went.

Just… wow. The opening scene was awesome, and it just got better from there. I’ve been a fan of the original trilogy ever since. I cite as evidence my “Han Shot First” t-shirt that it just so happens I am wearing as I write this. But I lost interest when Lucas ruined the trilogy with his “director’s cut” versions for the first DVD and theatrical re-release, and I was further put off by the prequel trilogy that – to put it bluntly – just sucked. This is best exemplified by the PVP cartoon strip that said it all:

Joss Whedon, for those of you who don’t know, is responsible for the outstanding but ill-fated TV series Firefly and the feature-film Serenity.

So, in celebration of this momentous anniversary I give you the best piece of satire I have ever seen from the Star Wars universe: Darth Vader calls the Emperor after the destruction of the Death Star:


Oh, and don’t forget the Femtroopers and . . .

. . . the abomination below her. (That post is still drawing hits today.)

Movie Review: Pirates of the Carribean: At World’s End

My wife had made noises about wanting to see this movie when it opened. On Thursday when I got home, she asked me if we were going to see it that night. I told her that I didn’t think the first show was until midnight, so we’d have to wait. At about 2 o’clock Friday afternoon, my daughter called me at work and asked what time the three (3) of us were going to the movie.

I guessed that meant I’d better get tickets.

Y’know, Fandango works pretty good. I bought three tickets for the 7:40 showing, in DLP digital. I got home, we loaded up, went to dinner and then arrived at the theater about 6:30. Yeah, we were pretty early, but we weren’t the first in line, either. We got the seats we wanted, which was the important thing, and the house was eventually FULL.

Let me say right off the bat that in Dead Man’s Chest I’m pretty sure the editors could have cut half an hour to 45 minutes out of the beginning and it wouldn’t have adversely affected the film. At World’s End runs 2:48, and I never once looked at my watch to see how much time was left. Once again, Johnny Depp IS the show. Well, him and Keira Knightley’s eyes. The supporting cast, however, is every bit as good. Geoffrey Rush reprises his role as Captain Barbossa with the same “Arr, matey” accent, Chow Yun-Fat plays Chinese pirate captain Sao Feng with just the right touch of excess. Bill Nighy once again pulls off the part of Davy Jones, with that incredibly awesome full-head prosthesis that had to tie up an additional two or three puppeteers.

And Keith Richards.

When I heard they were going to cast Keith Richards as Jack Sparrow’s father, I had my doubts.

He was perfect. puts the critical reviews at about 48% positive.

This goes to show you that professional film critics are self-important idiots.

This is the essential Summer Blockbuster – it’s just supposed to be entertaining, and it is very entertaining. The special effects are excellent, though a bit overwhelming, and I had a great time.

This is not, however, a film for the kiddies. It’s rated PG-13, and I suggest you follow the recommendation.

Better Late than Never.

But still about 20 30 years too late: The UK Countryside Alliance organizes the First-ever National Shooting Week.

The first-ever National Shooting Week was launched on Monday 21st May at the National Shooting Centre at Bisley, known as ‘the home of shooting’.

From Saturday May 26th to Sunday June 3rd, thousands of people across the UK will try one of the most exciting Olympic sports during National Shooting Week.

Shooting schools and clubs are putting on more than 200 open days across the country so the public can try shooting for the first time.

I will be fascinated to see what the turnout for this looks like.

(via Uncle.)

UPDATE, 5/28:

Minister urges teenagers to take up shooting

(UK Telegraph, 5/27/07)

Anti-gun campaigners have accused the Government of making a U-turn on firearms after a minister urged teenagers to take up shooting to improve their behaviour.

Richard Caborn, the sports minister, has backed a drive by shooting groups to increase participation in the sport among children as young as 12. He believes that the sport helps young people to become more responsible and disciplined, and vowed that significant funds would be made available to help boost participation.

I’ll believe that when I see it.

Handguns were banned in Britain in 1996 following the Dunblane massacre, in which 16 children and their teacher were killed at a primary school.

Previously, the Government has taken steps to crack down on shooting by increasing the age limit for buying air weapons, as well as banning handguns.

After five gun murders in February in London alone, Tony Blair warned that 17-year-olds could face mandatory five-year sentences for possessing illegal guns.

What? The ASBOs are proving ineffective?

“We want to boost the number of people who take part in shooting sports, particularly among young adults,” Mr Caborn told The Sunday Telegraph. “We are investing £600 million in developing medal winners for 2012 and shooting will benefit greatly from that.”

Schools have been encouraged to increase the involvement of young people in shooting sports and Mr Caborn welcomed the first National Shooting Week, which begins this weekend, as a good way to raise levels of participation.

Though according to the first commenter to this post, none of that £600 million apparently went towards advertising National Shooting Week.

He has already upset the anti-gun lobby by supporting moves to relax the ban on handguns in the hope of boosting Britain’s chances of winning pistol-shooting medals at the 2012 London Olympics. Lending his support to the week-long campaign has raised its fears further. However, a Labour Party document, for which he wrote the foreword, argues that there is a need to work with shooting organisations to develop ways “to demystify firearms”.

How did this guy end up as a minister in Britain’s government?

The party has published a Charter for Shooting, which it released after promising in the 2005 general election to ensure that country sports would be protected.

In the charter, it says that Labour is fully supportive of shooting organisations. -“Government ministers have noted the benefits of introducing young people to the sport in terms of developing habits of safety, self-discipline and responsibility,” it says.

However, Gill Marshall-Andrews, the chairman of the Gun Control Network, said that she was alarmed by Mr Caborn’s backing for National Shooting Week, which aims to introduce people to shooting for the first time and improve people’s understanding of guns.

“The Government should be ashamed of itself for putting its energies into encouraging people to take up shooting when we should be ensuring that there are fewer and fewer guns available,” she said. “By backing this initiative they’re sending out the wrong message.”

Ms. Marshall-Andrews? They’ve tried that. And failed miserably. Repeating the same actions over and over while expecting a different outcome is defined as “insanity.”

Mrs Marshall-Andrews accused the Government of helping to make guns seem acceptable and of creating a society in which they will become prevalent.

And this is the part I love:

Since 1997, firearms crimes have risen from 12,410 to 21,521 in 2005/06 (an increase of 73 per cent), including incidents involving handguns, which have nearly doubled in this period, from 2,636 to 4,671, despite their being banned.

(Emphasis mine.) “Will become prevalent”?

However, according to David Penn, the secretary of the British Shooting Sports Council, an umbrella body for shooting groups, there is no correlation between gun crime and the level of gun ownership.

“To own a gun, people have to go through rigorous checks and it takes a long time,” he said. “People who argue that these guns are falling into the wrong hands obviously don’t understand the real statistics.”

• Ministers are dragging their feet over the introduction of laws to tackle imitation firearms, campaigners claim. Legislation banning the import or manufacture of realistic fake guns, of the kind used by criminals to threaten victims, was approved by Parliament last year. However, the measure is not due to take effect until this autumn.

Yes, banning look-alike guns is really going to help. What’s next? Banning “super-soaker” squirt-guns?

Nasty Factses. Ugly Factses. We HATES ‘Em!

The Anchoress authors a thoroughly link strewn post, Let’s do it; Let’s Impeach Bush, that I strongly recommend to everyone – especially those suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome. For one thing, I love watching people experience cognitive dissonance – they’re so cute when they deny reality – and for those who can’t quite manage it, watching blood leak from their eyes and ears as their systolic pressure spikes into the stratosphere is almost as rewarding.

Yes, by all means! Let’s have hearings!

UPDATE, 5/28: Roger puts it all together in a video:
Replay video | Share video | Watch more videos

Ah, No. I Don’t Think So.

For some reason my urge to add a Browning Hi Power to my collection has returned. I looked at an inexpensive Inglis model at a gunshop a couple of days ago, but it was a bit on the worn out side. So I did a little research looking for new ones. Sportsman’s Warehouse had a two-tone .40S&W about six months ago that I passed on. It (of course) is gone now. So I did a little web shopping.

It would appear that the only version currently available (25 in stock at the distributor) is this model:

As Rachel Lucas put it so politely: I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Ah well. It’s less expensive than this Cylinder & Slide custom job:

Which I absolutely lust after, but cannot afford.

Still, I think I’ll pass on the camo. I’d probably set it down somewhere and never find it again.

First I’ve Heard of It.

Remember last year’s Rocky Balboa? A pretty good flick, really. Small, unpretentious, well acted, good story. Nothing surprising about it other than it was good. Well, through Ian Hamet comes a clip for Silvester Stallone’s latest explanation for his possession of Human Growth Hormone, and another character-titled film, John Rambo. It looks like a good old-fashioned Lone Wolf movie, an action-packed butt-kicker where John Rambo once again puts the hurt on an entire army single-handedly. Very, very un-PC.

And there is no squeamishness about the gore. (After “Saw,” and the other similar splatfests, I should hope not.)

Check out the trailer while it lasts.

Tagline: “When you’re pushed, killin’s as easy as breathin’.”