You’ve Got to Admit, It Beats That Other “Award” I Got!

I just noticed that I’ve been tagged with the “Thinking Blogger Award” by fellow blogger Conservative UAW Guy. (Full disclosure: we’ve met, at the inaugural Gunblogger’s Rendezvous in Reno last year. Nice guy, charming wife.) I’m honored, really.

It beats the hell out of my last blogging “award.”

Anyway, this is another meme-thing. Here are the rules:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.

Err, I think something got scrambled there, but click the award icon for a link back to the originating post.

Here’s my list of five bloggers who make me think:

1. Steven Den Beste – Yes, I know he no longer posts as USS Clueless, but there’s stuff in his archives that still makes me go “Ah!”

2. American Digest. Gerard Van der Leun doesn’t post as much now that he’s a muckety-muck at Pajamas Media, but he still writes a few that stimulate the grey matter.

3. Bill Whittle’s Eject3. No explanation necessary. If you haven’t read him, start with “Honor” and work your way up the archives.

4. Wretchard at The Belmont Club. Thinking is what he does.

5. A Day in the Life of an Ambulance Driver. Read posts like this one and tell me they don’t make you think.

Thanks for the nod, JimmyB.

Hillary? Obama? Thompson? Iowahawk? Like Hell!

Reynolds-Lucas ’08, baby! A good idea whose time has finally come. We need bloggers in the White House, but it ain’t Burge. Rachel Lucas is back, and Glenn never left us. It’s time to get this freight train rolling. Elect the Great in 2008! We had this all planned out in 2003! Complete with (now slightly dated) campaign poster, penned by none other than Chris Muir!

It’s time to open a campaign headquarters and start raising some money!

Since I’m so obviously link-whoring, here’s the complete list of my posts on this from 2003:

Glenn Reynolds for President!

Denizens of the Blogosphere! I Present to You the Nominees for the 2008 Administration as Selected by YOU!

ALREADY the Reynolds/Lucas Ticket has Competition!

The Reynolds/Lucas 2008 Ticket Picks Up Steam!

Elect the Great in 2008?

Ah, ancient internet history. Don’tcha love it?

Too Bad They Didn’t Have a Wheelchair.

Unix-Jedi sent me an email with a link to this short, succinct story:

Couple admit using pepper spray

Jul 18 2007
Ellesmere Port Pioneer

A COUPLE have found that using pepper spray in self-defence is as illegal as firing a sub-machine gun.

Under the Firearms Act, it is ranked alongside rocket launchers in that using it carries a 10-year prison sentence.

Remember, everyone: England is held up as the golden standard of “reasonable restrictions” and “common-sense” laws. “England can do it! Australia can do it! We can too!”

Not here. Not on my watch.

Chester, Ellesmere Port and Neston magistrates heard Sally Arcari, 21, didn’t know pepper spray was illegal. Her boyfriend, Neil Marchant, 29, used it in self-defence outside The Platinum Lounge in Ellesmere Port before handing it to her.

The couple, of Newton, Chester, admitted possession of and discharging a noxious liquid or gas on April 29. They now face a three-week wait for sentencing.

Too bad they were unaware of the law. Had they known, they might have bought a wheelchair to go along with. That apparently saved Mr. Nicholas Ashworth in 2004 from prosecution for using teargas in self-defense, but not possessing it in the first place. I mentioned that case here, but the story is no longer available at the original site. It’s been reprinted here, and I’ll copy it for posterity as well:

I acted in self-defence says disabled robbery victim

A DISABLED man who used CS spray to fight off a robber is now facing the threat of legal action.

Wheelchair-bound Nicholas Ashworth, aged 22, sprayed his alleged attacker in the face with the CS spray.

He then climbed out of his wheelchair and limped across the road as the man screamed in pain. A passing police patrol spotted him in distress and stopped at the scene. Officers then arrested both men.

Today after being released on police bail pending further inquiries — which could result in police prosecution — Mr Ashworth defended his use of the CS spray. He said he bought it to protect himself after being attacked in Bridgeman Street three weeks ago. On that occasion his attacker hit him in the face before pinning him back in his chair. The man then rifled through his pockets and stole £100.

Mr Ashworth, of Fletcher Street, Bolton — who can walk just a short distance without his wheelchair — said the incident left him feeling vulnerable.

Can’t imagine why…

Only days later he used it when a would-be robber confronted him as Mr Ashworth made his way to a nearby supermarket.

Mr Ashworth said the attacker held a knife at his throat and threatened to stab him.

Boy, those anti-weapon laws really work, don’t they?

When he refused to hand over his money the man pushed him across the road and into bushes on the other side of the carriageway.

He said when he was threatened again he grabbed the CS canister and sprayed the man in the face.

He said: “I knew it was wrong and against the law but in my view I was acting in self defence. I thought the man was going to kill me.

“It is a sad state of affairs that disabled people like me have to carry such things like CS sprays for protection.”

Well, it’s a sad state of affairs that you’re victimized for defending yourself. It’s a really sad state of affairs that the government has pretty effectively disarmed you while leaving your attackers pretty much unaffected.

A police spokesman said that they were investigating the illegal use and possession of CS spray. He also revealed that a man was on police bail pending further inquiries into the attempted robbery of Mr Ashworth.

The stupidity coming out of Albion never ceases to amaze me.

Quote(s) of the Day.

I’m sorry I missed this last week while I was working, but July 7 was the 100th anniversary of Robert Anson Heinlein’s birth. RAH is, as I have previously noted, one of the people most responsible for the development of my personal philosophy. His writing influenced me greatly as an adolescent and into adulthood. As Dale at Mostly Cajun wrote last week, “He’s categorized as a science fiction writer, but if you’re looking for rayguns and spaceships, Heinlein is not what you read. You read Heinlein for people and philosophy, the kind of people who stand on their own two feet, who shoulder the load, who believe, who love life and have passions, people who draw lines and say, this far, and no further.” But that’s not the QotD. The next line in that post is:

The nation could do a lot worse than require Heinlein to be promoted in schools instead of Maya Angelou.

Roger that.

Dale selected his favorite quote from the book The Notebooks of Lazarus Long – a collection originally printed as “intermissions” between chapters in the novel Time Enough for Love. There are so many excellent quotes in that book that a single favorite is very hard to come by, but here’s three of mine:

Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.

The two highest achievements of the human mind are the twin concepts of “loyalty” and “duty”. Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute — get out of there fast! You may possibly save yourself, but it is too late to save that society. It is doomed.

Do not confuse “duty” with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.

But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is with the leech who wants “just a few minutes of your time, please — this won’t take long.” Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time — and squawk for more!

So learn to say No — and be rude about it when necessary.

Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly no time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you.

(This rule does not mean that you must not do a favor for a friend, or even for a stranger. But let the choice be yours. Don’t do it because it is “expected” of you.)

Damn, I miss that man.

Quote of the Day.

No, I’m not back. I am, as a matter of fact, still in a hotel room in Willcox, AZ. I am not without internet service. It is just agonizingly slow service. Consequently, web surfing is not the joyous thing it is at home with 3.0Mbps download speed. Plus I’ve been working 12 hour days since 7/5. I will get this Sunday off (at home) but I’ll be doing laundry and catching up on my sleep. Monday I’m back at it.

Anyway, all that is just a prelude to this. In the hotel room, scarfing down some KFC carryout, I moseyed (and I do mean moseyed) over to Tam’s to catch some of the latest snark, and found an out-of-the-park homerun: You say “selfish” like it’s a bad thing… Please read it before continuing. Unlike me, Tam is brief and to the point.

Done? Good.

She’s almost exactly right. Here’s my single exception to Tam’s righteous smack-down: she wrote;

I am not concerned one iota with your safety. After all, I don’t know you from Adam’s housecat, so how does your fate affect me?

Actually, I (me, personally) am concerned about other people’s safety. The difference is, (and Tam groks this, too – I’m positive) I understand what Kelli and those like her refuse to accept. They refuse to accept that they are responsible for their own safety. So I care about their safety. I care that they continue to have access to the tools that can help them protect themselves. I care that they understand that when someone is intent on harming them, the only one that can protect them at that moment is themselves. And right then it doesn’t matter if that attacker is armed with a firearm, an axe handle, a broken bottle, or a pair of fists – the best defense to have is a firearm. Not a cell phone, not a bright orange whistle, not a loud scream, not a good pair of running shoes. A firearm and the skill and willingness to use it.

I do care about Kelli and her ilk. I want them to understand who it is who bears primary responsibility for their own protection. Far too many people find out far too late. How does their fate affect me? If they are not able to defend themselves, the predator that preys on them remains safe and free to prey on others. Possibly me and mine. Why else do you think Kim du Toit reports on each new goblin he hears about that achieves room temperature? Somebody else who won’t be preying on good citizens.

Once again, I go back to my essay “Is the Government Responsible for Your Protection?” where I concluded:

(The) majority is largely unaware that they are the ones responsible for their own safety. They depend on the police almost exclusively for their safety and protection from crime. In their fear of violence, they fear the other “herbivores” with guns, too. They do so because some gun owners are idiots, but mostly because they’re told that guns are the cause of crime, and they don’t know any better. They don’t accept that general citizens who are willing to resist crime are an asset, not a liability to society.

So what am I advocating? I am advocating educating the citizens of our society as to their rights and attendant duties. That way they can make educated decisions as to their own protection, and that of their fellow citizens. Then if they decide that, for them, actively opposing crime is not an option, they won’t be so eager to deny the means to those who decide it’s the moral thing to do.

Anyway, hiatus continues. Thanks for checking in.

UPDATE: Via Irons in the Fire, a perfect example of what I’m talking about at Seraphic Secret: My Hollywood Gun, Part I, Part II, and Part III. He received his education before it was too late, but it was a close thing.

If the Los Angeles riots taught us anything it’s that you’re a fool if you count on the authorities to protect you in times of civil unrest — in fact, at any time. In the end, only I can protect me and my family.

I’m never, ever going to allow myself to be outgunned by the bad guys. All the gun laws that are on the books, and there are thousands of them, just make it that much easier for the barbarians to amass weapons, and for good and law-abiding people like you and me to be at their mercy.

If you outlaw weapons, as so many squishy liberals yearn to do, well then, only the outlaws will possess weapons.

Read ’em all. Pass ’em around.

Validation from the Left

Happy 4th of July to everyone. This will be my last post on TSM for a while, as I’ll be out of town without internet access for several days. Others have done a creditable job of writing patriotic holiday posts, so I will forbear doing so in order to write this one. (Warning! 5,900+ words follow.)

Joe Huffman put up another of his “Quote of the Day” posts this morning which reinforced for me something I wrote back in April. Joe’s quote is this:

Emotion is what wins arguments, and there is a tremendous amount of emotion among those fighting to reduce gun violence — there always is when someone gets hurt or must go through the tragedies that we experience in this country as a result of gun violence.

That is important emotion, and it will do more for the argument for stronger gun laws than any facts or figures ever will.

We have to show legislators the human side of this issue, too, and force them to base their own decisions and policies off of that emotion…

I went to the Gun Guys site (no link – on purpose) and ran down the piece referred in it. It’s a excerpt from Emory University Professor of Psychology Drew Westen’s book The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation.

The piece I wrote? Gun Banners Have to Use Emotion…

Let’s see what Mr. Westen had to say:

Despite Large Majorities, Democrats Are Chicken on Gun Control

Right off the bat, Mr. Westen bases his entire essay on an incorrect hypothesis – that Democrats are chicken about “gun control.” Let’s see what he has to say to bolster his erroneous thesis:

On April 16, Seung-Hui Cho, a senior at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia, carried two semiautomatic pistols onto campus and killed 32 people. It was the deadliest shooting in modern American history.

The following week, a nation listened in horror as witnesses recounted stories of how they had barricaded desks against their classroom doors to keep the psychotic young man from entering, only to hear him spend a round of ammo, drop the spent clip, and reload in seconds.

Democratic leaders offered the requisite condolences. But that’s all they offered. They didn’t mention that the Republican Congress had let the Brady Act, which banned the sale of semiautomatic weapons, sunset in 2004.

True to form, a lie within the first three paragraphs. A blatant, unapologetic, bald-faced LIE. A lie, so far as I am concerned, deliberately written so as to inspire anger in the reader. Remember, this is an excerpt from a published book, and a piece also published in American Prospect. I thought these people had editors?

While most of my regular readers are aware of the facts, let me state them plainly for those who may come here and read this that don’t: The bill Mr. Westen refers to is not “the Brady Bill.” It’s the 1994 “Assault Weapons Ban” that wasn’t. That law did not “ban the sale of semiautomatic weapons.” It banned the sale of a small number of specific firearms – mostly rifles – and some semiautomatic firearms with certain specific features. Semiautomatic firearms were still perfectly legal to sell, and sell they did. I happen to own a “post-ban” semi-automatic AR-15 rifle I had legally custom built during the period that law was in effect.

What that law most emphatically did not do was place any restrictions whatsoever on the types of firearms used by Seung-Hui Cho – a Glock Model 19 9mm semiautomatic handgun and a Walther P22 semiautomatic handgun. While the law did affect the availability of new “standard capacity” 15-round magazines for the Glock, it did not affect the availability of used ones. At this point I am unsure whether Mr. Cho used 15-round or post-ban 10-round magazines in his shooting spree, but realistically it hardly matters. No, the point here was to lie to the reader, and induce strong emotion. In addition, from the reports I’ve seen Mr. Cho had only two magazines for each weapon, so he hardly was able to constantly “drop the spent clip, and reload in seconds.” He had to stop and reload the magazines, too – a relatively slow process. But this fact detracts from Mr. Westen’s narrative.


They didn’t mention that in the decade or so after the passage of that act, 100,000 felons lost their right to bear arms, but not a single hunter lost that right.

Unless, of course, some of those felons were, you know, hunters too.

Instead, the Democrats ran for political cover, waiting for the smoke to clear.

This wasn’t the first time Democrats scattered when threatened with Republican gunshots. They were silent as the Beltway sniper terrorized our nation’s capital a month before the midterm elections of 2002. And they have been silent or defensive on virtually every “wedge” issue that has divided our nation for much of the last 30 years. When the Republicans tried to play the hate card again in 2006, this time under the cover of immigration reform, Democrats scrambled to pull together a “policy” on immigration, instead of simply asking, “What’s the matter, gays aren’t working for you anymore?”

What I find really interesting here is just who’s “playing the hate card.” Apparently (according to Mr. Westen) the Rethuglicans hate gays and brown people, as that’s the only conceivable reason they would support or oppose legislation on those topics. I’d say that’s “hate speech” on the part of Mr. Westen, myself, but what do I know? I’m one of those oppressive white conservative types who likes guns.

So how did we find ourselves where we are today, with an electorate that has finally figured out that the once larger-than-life Wizard of Terror was nothing but a projection on a screen — and an opposition party that can’t seem to find its heart, its brain, or its courage, and instead wonders what’s the matter with Kansas?

And most importantly, how do we find our way back home?


Visions of Mind

Behind every campaign lies a vision of mind — often implicit, rarely articulated, and generally invisible to the naked eye. Traces of that vision can be seen in everything a campaign does or doesn’t do.

The vision of mind that has captured the imagination of Democratic strategists for much of the last 40 years — a dispassionate mind that makes decisions by weighing the evidence and reasoning to the most valid conclusions — bears no relation to how the mind and brain actually work. When strategists start from this vision of mind, their candidates typically lose.

Mustn’t. Lose. Self. Control… BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! “Weighing the evidence and reasoning to the most valid conclusions”??? We’re talking about legislators here – a group of people at best only tenuously tethered to reality! Regardless of which side of the aisle they sit on.

Democrats typically bombard voters with laundry lists of issues, facts, figures, and policy positions, while Republicans offer emotionally compelling appeals, whether to voters’ values, principles, or prejudices. As a result, we have seen only one Democrat elected and reelected to the White House since Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Bill Clinton, who, like Roosevelt, understood how to connect with voters emotionally) and only one Republican fail to do so (George Bush Senior, who ran like a Democrat and paid for it).

G.H.W. Bush lost for one reason and one reason only: “Read my lips. No new taxes.” Had it not been for that, I believe, not even Ross Perot would have derailed his re-election. Note also that, while Bill Clinton did win twice, neither time did he win a majority of the vote. He might have been able to “connect with voters emotionally,” but he didn’t reach most of them.

Our brains are nothing but vast networks of neurons. Of particular importance for understanding politics are “networks of associations” — bundles of thoughts, feelings, sounds, images, memories, and emotions that have become linked through experience. People can’t tell you much about what’s in those networks, or about what’s likely to change them (which happen to be the central determinants of voting behavior). They can’t tell you because they don’t have conscious access to them, any more than they can tell you what’s going on in their pancreas. And if you ask them, they often get it wrong.

In polls and focus groups, voters told John Kerry’s consultants that they didn’t like “negativity,” so the consultants told Kerry to avoid it. To what extent those voters just didn’t know the power of negative appeals on their own networks, or didn’t want to admit it, is unclear. What is clear is that George W. Bush won the election by spending 75 percent of his budget on negativity against a candidate whose refusal to fight back projected nothing but weakness in the face of aggression — precisely the narrative Bush was constructing about Kerry.

Oh, please. “I actually did vote for the $87 billion dollars before I voted against it” had nothing to do with that image? “Christmas in Cambodia“? Even über-lefty blogger Markos Moulitsas understood how bad a candidate John “Reporting for Duty” Kerry was, and said as much in his 12/24/04 piece What the Hell Happened

Of course, there’s a silver lining to all of this. A Kerry presidency would’ve been an unmitigated disaster, with a hostile congress, budget woes, the mess in Iraq, etc. Not a good time to be in charge.

Actually, I think it’s remarkable he got as many votes as he did, because I think a lot of people understood what an unmitigated disaster a Kerry presidency would have been. But no, according to Mr. Westin, it’s all because George W. Bush (more likely Karl Rove) spent 75% of his campaign money on “negative ads.”

The American electorate are such mindless sheeple.


If you start with the assumption of a dispassionate mind — of voters who weigh the utility of each candidate’s stand on a range of issues and calculate which candidate has the greater utility — you inevitably turn to pollsters as oracles to divine which issues are up, which are down, and which are best avoided. The vision of the dispassionate mind represents public opinion in one dimension — a straight line, from up to down, high to low, pro-choice to anti-abortion, anti-gun to pro-gun.

But this is a one-dimensional rendering of three-dimensional data. If you start with networks, you think very differently about campaigns, from the way you interpret polling data to the way you handle the wedge issues that have run Democratic campaigns into the ground for decades. On virtually every contentious political issue — abortion, welfare, gay marriage, tax cuts, and, yes, guns — polls show a seemingly “mixed” pattern of results, with the electorate endorsing what seem like contradictory positions. The vast majority of Americans support gun regulations but also support the right to bear arms. So are Americans pro-gun or anti-gun?

The majority is pro-gun, Mr. Westen. They’re anti-CRIME.

That’s the wrong question. And it inevitably leads Democratic strategists to the wrong answer: “Take the issue off the table — it’s radioactive.”

This kind of one-dimensional thinking fails to appreciate that voters may be of two minds about an issue. The same issue often activates two or more networks that lead to different feelings in the same person (e.g., concern about guns in the hands of criminals, and support for the rights of law-abiding citizens to protect their families), and different groups of voters may have radically different associations to the same thing (whether to guns, gays, abortion, or immigrants). Unfortunately, these are just the kinds of issues that arouse the most passion and, hence, have the biggest impact on both voting and get-out-the-vote efforts. And they are generally the issues Democrats try to avoid.

If you cede the contentious issues, you cede passion to the other side. And given that people vote with their “guts,” if you cede passion, you ultimately concede elections.

Wait… wait. NRA membership: approximately 4 million. Brady Campaign membership: ?? Who’s ceding what? It’s a numbers game, Mr. Westen. And people don’t like being lied to (see paragraph 3 above.) They really don’t like it when they realize they’ve been manipulated. But that’s what you’re advocating here, isn’t it? For our own good, no? Because you know better than the voter, and they should just do what you tell them without complaint, no?

Republicans go straight for these gut issues, and they now have the confidence that they can do so even when support for their position is in the range of 30 percent, as is the case with their absolutist stance on abortion (that abortion is murder and should be illegal under all circumstances) and guns (that the right to bear arms is inviolable, no matter what the death toll). Democrats usually don’t contest them, the public never hears a compelling counternarrative, and public opinion gradually shifts to the right.

WHAT? You mean all that television time, all those prime-time episodes of Law & Order and CSI Paducah where gang-bangers buy full-auto weapons from eeeeevil neo-Nazi licensed gun dealers, and Desperate Housewives accidentally (?) shoot their lovers, and all the news coverage of 19 year-old “children” gunned down doesn’t count as “compelling counternarrative”?

I’m shocked, shocked I tell you!

If you understand how networks work, you understand that candidates should never avoid anything — particularly when the other side is talking about it. Doing so gives the opposition exclusive rights to the networks that create and constitute public opinion.


Hunting for principles

If ever there was an issue on which Americans are of two minds, it is guns. Most Americans believe in the Second Amendment, but most Americans also support a host of restrictions on gun sales and ownership. In the 2004 pre-election Harris poll, slightly more than half of Americans reported favoring stricter gun laws, but far fewer — only one in five — wanted to relax the current laws. (When Harris framed the question more specifically in terms of handguns, the percentages became even more lopsided, closer to 3-to-1 in favor of stricter regulations.) Only a small majority, however, supports tougher gun regulations, and many of these people are clustered in large urban areas and on the coasts. This is one of those mixed pictures that lead Democratic strategists to run for the hills.

The point so often (always) left out here is that so few people actually know what the existing restrictions on gun sales and ownership are. By far the best current example comes from this piece at Seraphic Secret:

“I can’t believe I’m here. I’ve been against guns and violence my whole life.”
“Did Ned threaten you, physically, I mean?”
“Said I belong to him and no one else. That’s about it. But I know what he means.”
“What did the police say?”
“The last cop, as he was leaving, whispered for me to get a gun.”

I tell her that owning a gun isn’t sufficient. She has to take safety classes, self-defense classes. She has to know what she’s doing. I grab NRA brochures from the counter, make her promise that she’ll sign up as soon as she gets her gun in ten days.

“Ten days?” she cries.

“First you have to take a test, here in the store, a written test. They’ll give you a booklet to study from. Then you get a certificate making you eligible to buy a weapon in California. After you purchase the gun there’s a ten-day waiting period until you take possession.”

“But why?”
“Background check. To make sure you’re not a felon, a psychopath, an illegal immigrant, a terrorist, a drug addict; it’s the law.

And because people like her have “been against guns and violence” – and in support of “stricter gun laws” – their whole lives.

Revelations like this come as a shock quite often when people finally understand who it is that’s responsible for their protection.

Al Gore epitomized Democrats’ discomfort with guns in an exchange with Bush in their second presidential debate in 2000:

Moderator: So on guns, somebody wants to cast a vote based on your differences, where are the differences?

Gore: … I am for licensing by states of new handgun purchases … because too many criminals are getting guns. There was a recent investigation of the number in Texas who got, who were given concealed-weapons permits in spite of the fact that they had records. And the Los Angeles Times spent a lot of ink going into that. But I am not for doing anything that would affect hunters or sportsmen, rifles, shotguns, existing handguns. I do think that sensible gun-safety measures are warranted now.

Look, this is the year — this is in the aftermath of Columbine, and Paducah, and all the places in our country where the nation has been shocked by these weapons in the hands of the wrong people. The woman who bought the guns for the two boys who did that killing at Columbine said that if she had had to give her name and fill out a form there, she would not have bought those guns.

Behind this response we can hear the whirring of the dispassionate mind — the gratuitous reference to the Los Angeles Times, the reference to Columbine without offering an evocative image. But what is most striking about this response is the lack of any coherent principle that might explain why Gore would place restrictions on new handguns but not on old ones. (Are the existing ones too rusty to kill anybody?) Nor does he justify why he is excluding hunting rifles, although the viewer can infer (correctly) that he wants to get elected.

Bush couldn’t respond to the most powerful part of Gore’s response, about the woman who had handed the guns to the Columbine shooters. So after reiterating his opposition to requiring gun purchasers even to show photo identification, he switched to a “culture of life” message (aimed at activating anti-abortion networks under the cover of guns) and a “culture of love” message (suggesting that somewhere out there there’s a child longing to be told he’s loved — which would presumably prevent massacres like Columbine). Bush’s message was not only cognitively incoherent; it was actually lifted from a phenomenally moving eulogy Gore had delivered at Columbine.

True to the dispassionate vision of the mind, Gore failed to mention that he had been at Columbine. With all their debate preparation, his campaign strategists never realized that the vice president’s best weapon on guns was that magnificent eulogy, in which he artfully invoked “that voice [that] says to our troubled souls: peace, be still. The Scripture promises that there is a peace that passes understanding.”

Bush presented Gore with a golden opportunity to personalize the issue, to put the face of a child on it. With a response like the following, he would have placed in bold relief the extraordinary indifference implicit in Bush’s response and the extremism of the conservative narrative Bush was embracing:

Governor, I walked with those shocked and grieving parents, teachers, and children at Columbine; I shed tears with them; and I delivered a eulogy that Sunday by their graveside. I remembered with them the heroism of their beloved coach and teacher Dave Sanders, who bravely led so many to safety but never made it out of the building himself. I remembered with them a young girl named Cassie Bernall, whose final words were “Yes, I do believe in God.”

I just told you how the woman who bought the guns that took the lives of Dave Sanders and Cassie Bernall wouldn’t have done it if she’d just had to fill out a form and show a photo ID. And you still can’t feel for Coach Sanders’ wife and children, who’ll never wrap their loving arms around him again? You still can’t weep for Cassie’s parents? You still think it’s sensible to require someone to show a photo ID to cash a check but that it’s too much to ask that they show an ID to buy a handgun?

Americans do have a clear choice in this election. And it is about a culture of life. They can do something to honor the lives of those who died that day at Columbine. Or they can vote for a man who, as governor of Texas, signed a law allowing people to bring guns into church.

Right. Texas, where seven defenseless people were shot dead in a church in 1999. Boy, those “gun free zones” really do make people safer, don’t they? That law allowed the law abiding to legally carry a defensive firearm. It did nothing to help or inhibit the shooter that day.

But to people who see firearms as totems of evil, it doesn’t matter who has the firearm (unless they wear a uniform and collect a government paycheck). Guns are bad, mmmmkay?

Although most Americans were much closer to Gore than Bush on guns in the 2000 Harris poll, they thought Bush was stronger on gun control. Although Kerry had hunted all his life,

“Can I get me a huntin’ license here?”

Bush was the overwhelming choice of American sportsmen, even though he’d purchased his Crawford ranch as a prop only two years before running for president — something Democrats never thought to mention in two presidential campaigns. Nor did they mention, as James Carville and Paul Begala have pointed out, that Bush had stocked his ranch’s man-made lakes with fish because the river running through it was too polluted.

These are just the kinds of facts and images that win elections. And they are just the kinds of facts and images that should win elections, because they tell where a candidate really stands, not just where he stands for photo ops.

This is precisely the kind of information that informs the emotions of the electorate.

Then why didn’t it?


Gunning for common ground

To understand the poll numbers on guns in three dimensions, you have to consider the different associations the word “gun” evokes in urban and rural America. If you prime voters who have grown up in big cities with the word “gun,” you are likely to activate a network that includes “handguns,” “murder,” “mugging,” “robbery,” “killing,” “crime,” “inner-city violence,” “machine guns,” and “criminals.” If someone in New York City is packing a piece, he isn’t hunting quail.

No, but that someone might be Margaret Johnson, a resident of Harlem who defended herself from a mugger with her .357 Magnum. Or Ronald Dixon, a resident of NYC who shot an intruder in his child’s bedroom.

You don’t hear much about these people because it’s so damned hard and expensive to get a permit to possess a firearm in New York – unless you’re famous or politically connected. Of course, that difficulty doesn’t seem to affect the criminals….

But now suppose we prime a group of voters — let’s make them men — in rural America with precisely the same word, “gun.” This time, the associations that come to mind include “hunt,” “my daddy,” “my son,” “gun shows,” “gun collection,” “rifle,” “shotgun,” “protecting my family,” “deer,” “buddies,” “beer,” “my rights” — and a host of memories that link past and future generations. A voter who lives in a rural area knows that if an armed intruder enters his house, it could take a long time before the county sheriff arrives. The notion of being defenseless doesn’t sit well with southern and rural males, whose identity as men is strongly associated with the ability to protect their families.

An idea apparently stripped from the metrosexual urban male?

Just askin.’

There are some voters you just can’t win. As my colleagues and I discovered when we scanned the brains of partisans during the last presidential election, roughly a third of Americans’ minds won’t bend to the left no matter what you do or say (roughly the percent who continue to support Bush). But southern and rural voters are not unambivalent in their feelings toward guns. Rural voters have no fondness for what happened at Columbine or Virginia Tech, and they have little genuine affection for handguns or automatic weapons. If the National Rifle Association scares them into supporting semiautomatics for felons and teenagers with its slippery-slope argument about “taking away your guns,” the fault lies as much with the Democratic Party, which has put such a powerful safety lock on its own values that no one knows where Democrats really stand — on this or virtually any other moral issue.

Ah, more fearmongering! “Supporting semiautomatics for felons and teenagers.” Yes, this is exactly what the NRA is doing! As opposed preventing the goverment from taking my private property in violation of the Second Amendment, which is what the Left (and Mr. Westen) is advocating.

When a party finds itself courting potentially winnable voters who have seemingly incompatible associations, the first task of its strategists should be to look for two things: areas of ambivalence and ways of bridging seemingly unconnected networks to create common ground. The areas of ambivalence on guns are clear, but Democrats should be searching for the common ground that connects left to right on guns. One of the most powerful “bridging networks” revolves around law and order. A central appeal of conservative ideology is that it emphasizes the protection of law-abiding citizens. Those in the cities who want gun control for the protection of their families and those in the countryside who decry the lawlessness of the cities share the same concern: the freedom and safety of law-abiding citizens. Democrats should also connect the dots between the extremist message of the NRA and another powerful network: terrorism. You can’t fight a war against terrorists if you grant them unrestricted access to automatic weapons on your own soil.

Err, I’m sorry, but isn’t this exactly the strategy advocated by the Violence Policy Center in 1988? Aren’t they the ones who published a white paper on banning “assault weapons” which included this passage:

It will be a new topic in what has become to the press and public an “old” debate.

Although handguns claim more than 20,000 lives a year, the issue of handgun restriction consistently remains a non-issue with the vast majority of legislators, the press, and public. The reasons for this vary: the power of the gun lobby; the tendency of both sides of the issue to resort to sloganeering and pre-packaged arguments when discussing the issue; the fact that until an individual is affected by handgun violence he or she is unlikely to work for handgun restrictions; the view that handgun violence is an “unsolvable” problem; the inability of the handgun restriction movement to organize itself into an effective electoral threat; and the fact that until someone famous is shot, or something truly horrible happens, handgun restriction is simply not viewed as a priority. Assault weapons — just like armor-piercing bullets, machine guns, and plastic firearms — are a new topic. The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons — anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun — can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.

There’s a lot more, but that’s the gist of it. “Get them to vote our way through the exploitation of fear – and to hell with the facts.” This is precisely what Mr. Westen is advocating with his language of “granting (terrorists) unrestricted access to automatic weapons on your own soil.” Lying to inspire fear. It’s not like this is a new idea.

This convergence of networks suggests a simple, commonsense, principled stand on guns that Democrats could run with all over the country:

Our moral vision on guns reflects one simple principle: that gun laws should guarantee the freedom and safety of all law-abiding Americans. We stand with the majority of Americans who believe in the right of law-abiding citizens to own guns to hunt and protect their families. And we stand with that same majority of Americans who believe that felons, terrorists, and troubled teenagers don’t have the right to bear arms that threaten the safety of our children. We therefore support the right to bear arms, but not to bear arms designed for no other purpose than to take another person’s life.

As someone once said, if the guns I own were “designed for no other purpose than to take another person’s life,” then all of them are defective. I own an M1 Garand – a weapon designed by a government employee and described by General Patton as the “greatest battle implement ever devised.” Was it designed for “no other purpose than to take another person’s life”? Should I be allowed to “bear” that arm? I own a 1911-pattern semi-automatic pistol, the sidearm issued to our military for over fifty years. What about it? I own an AR-15 carbine, another semi-automatic firearm that most police departments currently issue to their patrol officers. In fact, many departments issue the fully-automatic M-16 version. Are the police issued arms that have the sole purpose of “taking another person’s life”?

Facts are pesky things, aren’t they? Emotion is so much easier to manipulate.


Shooting blanks

At Virginia Tech, we witnessed another Terri Schiavo moment, when Democrats could have asserted a progressive moral alternative to an extremist narrative of the far right. But once again, they cowered in the corner, hoping to convince the American public that they’re almost as right as the Republicans. Unfortunately, you never win elections by being almost as principled as the other side. If only one side is talking about its values, its candidate — not the moral runner-up — will win over voters.

With the polls strongly at their backs, Democrats had a historic opportunity to turn the Republicans’ indifference to the suffering at Virginia Tech into a moral condemnation, and to put every Republican in Congress on record as caring more about the blood-soaked dollars of the NRA than about the lives of our children.

Isn’t this more “hate speech”? Rethuglicans are “indifferent” to suffering? The NRA’s “blood-soaked dollars”? I’m personally pretty pissed off at Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker, who applauded that school’s “no guns on campus” policy on the grounds that it made people feel safe, when in fact it made them all defenseless.

Instead, they turned tail and ran, fearing they’d be branded as “anti-gun” and pushed down the slippery slope the NRA has used to pick them off at the ballot box for years: “They want to take away your gun.”

Because, in fact, you want to take away our guns. The ones you define as “designed for no other purpose than to take another person’s life.”

That would be pretty much all of them, I think.

But you only have to worry about getting branded and being pushed down slippery slopes if you’re playing checkers while the other side is playing chess — worrying about their next move when you should be anticipating six moves ahead. Democrats didn’t do what they knew was the right thing because of their concerns about the political fortunes of red-state Democrats like Heath Shuler in North Carolina.

Wait! Wrong metaphor. Not checkers, not chess, but three-card-Monty. What, precisely, Mr. Westen, is “the right thing”?

Could it be “taking away our guns”?

Could it be anything else?

But they wouldn’t have had to worry — and they would have picked up a lot of “security moms” and plenty of dads — if they had simply put Shuler in front of the camera, flanked by a couple of pro-gun Democrats like Montana Senator Jon Tester, with a hunting rifle over his left shoulder and an M-16 over his right, armed with a simple message:

This [pointing to the gun on his left] is a rifle.
This [the gun on his right] is an assault weapon.
People like you and me use this one [left] to hunt.
Criminals, terrorists, and deranged teenagers use this one [right] to hunt police officers and our children.
Law-abiding citizens have the right to own one of these [left].
Nobody has the right to threaten our kids’ safety with one of these [right].
Any questions?

Yes, I have a few. Isn’t the one on the left a “long-range sniper rifle”? Why are our police armed with the one on the right? And where can I buy a new M16? They’ve been off the market since 1986. A used one costs in excess of $16,000. That is, if you live in a jurisdiction that will allow you to own one, and you can jump through all the legal hoops – background check, permission of your local head of law-enforcement, $200 transfer tax – to qualify.

Once again, facts are pesky things, aren’t they?

If you can’t speak the truth and win elections, you need to learn another language. The language that wins elections is the language of the heart.

And here’s the heart of it. Translation: If the truth doesn’t work, lie. Lie big. The bigger the better. And go on the offensive. Change the subject when challenged on your lies, but never back down from the lies. Make the lies bigger, because you’ve got to lie in order to frighten the idiot sheeple in the direction you want them to go.

Risking invocation of Godwin’s Law, does that remind you of anything?

Let me finish with the conclusion reached by James D. Wright and Peter H. Rossi in their 1983 meta-study of gun control laws, Under the Gun: Weapons, Crime and Violence in America – a cold, factual assessment of gun control:

The progressive’s indictment of American firearms policy is well known and is one that both the senior authors of this study once shared. This indictment includes the following particulars: (1) Guns are involved in an astonishing number of crimes in this country. (2) In other countries with stricter firearms laws and fewer guns in private hands, gun crime is rare. (3) Most of the firearms involved in crime are cheap Saturday Night Specials, for which no legitimate use or need exists. (4) Many families acquire such a gun because they feel the need to protect themselves; eventually they end up shooting one another. (5) If there were fewer guns around, there would obviously be less crime. (6) Most of the public also believes this and has favored stricter gun control laws for as long as anyone has asked the question. (7) Only the gun lobby prevents us from embarking on the road to a safer and more civilized society.

The more deeply we have explored the empirical implications of this indictment, the less plausible it has become. We wonder, first, given the number of firearms presently available in the United States, whether the time to “do something” about them has not long since passed. If we take the highest plausible value for the total number of gun incidents in any given year – 1,000,000 – and the lowest plausible value for the total number of firearms now in private hands – 100,000,000 – we see rather quickly that the guns now owned exceed the annual incident count by a factor of at least 100. This means that the existing stock is adequate to supply all conceivable criminal purposes for at least the entire next century, even if the worldwide manufacture of new guns were halted today and if each presently owned firearm were used criminally once and only once. Short of an outright house-to-house search and seizure mission, just how are we going to achieve some significant reduction in the number of firearms available? (Pp. 319-320)

Yup. Facts are pesky. Emotion’s all they’ve got.

I’ll be back in a while. Thanks for visiting.

Spread This Alert Far and Wide.

I’ll give our opposition this: they never cease trying to find new ways to accomplish their ends. Latest up, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (motto: “Protecting Stupid People from Themselves Since 1972”). According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation:

Proposed OSHA Regulation Threatens
Firearm and Ammunition Industry

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the government agency charged with assuring the safety and health of America’s workers, is proposing a regulatory rule affecting the manufacturing, transportation and storage of small arms ammunition, primers and smokeless propellants.

As written, the proposed rule would force the closure of nearly all ammunition manufacturers and force the cost of small arms ammunition to skyrocket beyond what the market could bear—essentially collapsing our industry. This is not an exaggeration. The cost to comply with the proposed rule for the ammunition industry, including manufacturer, wholesale distributors and retailers, will be massive and easily exceed $100 million. For example, ammunition and smokeless propellant manufacturers would have to shut down and evacuate a factory when a thunderstorm approached and customers would not be allowed within 50 feet of any ammunition (displayed or otherwise stored) without first being searched for matches or lighters.

NSSF and SAAMI have already had a preliminary meeting with OSHA officials to begin the process of explaining to them the major problems this proposed rule presents for all levels of the firearms and ammunition industry. Furthermore, NSSF and SAAMI are each seeking a 60 day extension of the public comment period (currently scheduled to expire July 12).

NSSF is urging all retailers to contact OSHA directly and request a 60-day extension of the public comment period. Retailers should inform OSHA that the proposed rule constitutes a “significant regulatory action” as defined in Executive Order 12866 (1993) Section 3(f)(1) in that it will clearly “adversely affect in a material way” the retail sector of the firearms and ammunition industry, productivity, competition and jobs and that the annual compliance cost for all retailers of ammunition will far exceed $100 million dollars.

Click here for a template letter. If you choose to draft your own letter, the reference line must read as follows:

RE: Docket No. OSHA–2007–0032
Request to Extend Public Comment Period and Request for Hearing on
“Significant Regulatory Action” as Defined in Executive Order 12866

Please fax the letter to: 202-693-1648 (include the docket number and Department of Labor/OSHA on the cover sheet and in the reference section of your letter).

Please e-mail the letter by visiting: and following the submission instructions.

(h/t Michael Bane Blog) I did a search for this Docket Number on the website and found no reference to it, but I’m still going to cover my bases and send a damned letter.

The Latest on Crime in that Petri Dish I Like to Call Britain

First, there’s this:

Gun and Knife Murders Out of Control

Gun and knife killings are getting out of control as six Londoners were murdered over the past week and one child is stabbed to death each week, anti-crime campaigners warned.

Local communities were being blighted by run-away violence as gang members who believe they are “untouchable” carry guns and weapons as a matter of routine to carry out crimes and to settle scores.

Now as a matter of “urgency,” police should carry out random and targeted stop and search to catch weapon wielding thugs backed up with the introduction of a mandatory five year prison sentence for those carrying illegal knives – the same penalty as carrying guns.

Last Sunday Lee Ryner, 30, was stabbed in Romford. Then father of three Ken Hong, 38, died of his injuries after being thrown from his car as he tried to stop a car thief in Streatham on Wednesday.

Two days later Brazilian Carlos Moreno, 23, was gunned down as he arrived outside a friend’s home in Acton on Friday evening.

Hours later Mikey Brown, 24, was stabbed to death during a row in a nightclub in Kinsgston at 2am on Saturday morning, and four hours later 17-year-old Annaka Pinto was shot dead during another row in an Tottenham club.

Then just before midnight on Saturday a 16-year-old was stabbed to death in a gang clash in Beckenham.

Victims of Crime Trust director Norman Brennan said Britain was quickly gaining a reputation as being one of the most violent countries in the Western world, scarring communities and leaving millions in fear of crime.

Now he urged tougher action to stamp out the spiralling violence, claiming the Government has failed to uphold its pledge to make Britain’s street safer.

He said: “In the past six days there have been three people stabbed to death, two people shot dead and one father fatally injured when he was run over by his own car whilst trying to prevent it from being stolen.

“A child is stabbed to death on the streets of Britain every week and knife homicides out number gun homicides by three to one. If these measures were introduced it would greatly reduce knife crime and consequently save lives.

“I believe that the government who came into power with the slogan ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’ have failed to deliver on their promises to make the streets of Britain safe.

“We have many individuals and gang members that carry guns and knives as a matter of routine to commit crime and protect themselves and their turf, believing that they are untouchable.

“Unless we can change this attitude and trend, senseless murders will continue unabated and the widespread fear of crime will continue to be controlled by such individuals.”

“Each murder affects on average three hundred people. Murders committed in various parts of the country or particularly within a close radius of each other have a ricochet affect and dramatically increase fear within communities.”

He added although government figures show a small reduction in gun related crime, it is under reported and has to be viewed against “unprecedented” high levels of knife and gun crime over the last five years.

Although the Trust welcomed the fact the majority of murders leads to an arrest and conviction, prevention is a better cure it said.

Mr Brennan said: “There are currently 270 recorded firearm related offences committed on the streets of Britain every week.”

Wow. 270 firearm related offenses recorded every week in a country with full firearm registration, and bans on semi-automatic long guns over .22 caliber, pump-action rifles and shotguns, full-auto weapons, and all handguns.

I wonder how many aren’t recorded. Because next we have this:

Government figures ‘missing’ two million violent crimes

By David Barrett, PA Home Affairs Correspondent
Published: 26 June 2007

An extra two million violent crimes a year are committed in Britain than previously thought because of a bizarre distortion in the Government’s flagship crime figures, it was claimed yesterday.

A former Home Office research expert said that across all types of crime, three million offences a year are excluded from the British Crime Survey (BCS).

The poll caps the number of times a victim can be targeted by an offender at five incidents a year.

If anyone interviewed for the survey says they have been targeted more than five times a year, the sixth incident and beyond are not included in the BCS.

The authors of a report by think-tank Civitas said the five-crimes limit is ” truly bizarre” and “misleading”.

Professor Graham Farrell of Loughborough University and the former acting head of the Home Office’s Police Research Group, Professor Ken Pease, calculated that if the cap is ignored, the overall number of BCS crimes is more than 14 million rather than the current 11 million a year estimate.

Violent crime is 82 per cent higher at 4.4 million offences compared with 2.4 million in the BCS, the survey claims, including a 156 per cent rise in ” acquaintance violence” from 817,000 incidents to 2.1 million.

Domestic violence is 140 per cent higher, up from 357,000 incidents a year to 857,000, the authors said, while there are nearly three million common assaults a year rather than the 1.5 million estimated by the BCS, a rise of 98 per cent.

Burglary is 20 per cent higher than currently estimated, at 877,000 a year, and vandalism is 24 per cent higher, the report calculated.

Robbery is 7 per cent up on the official estimates, or an extra 22,000 crimes bringing the yearly total to 333,000.

“If the people who say they suffered 10 incidents really did, it is capping the series at five that distorts the rate,” the authors said.

“It is truly bizarre that the victimisation survey, based as it is on the assumption that people will by and large tell the truth about what happened to them, … suddenly withdraws its trust in their honesty when what they are told does not chime with their own experience.

“Yet the reality is that some people are very frequently victimised, and that frequent victimisation is what they suffer rather than being an invention or exaggeration.”

The cap of five crimes for repeat victims has operated ever since the inception of the BCS in 1981.

Ministers claim the survey – which now polls 40,000 people a year about their experiences of crime, is the most reliable indicator of crime levels,

The authors said: “The unwillingness to believe the facts of chronic victimisation means that crime control, police training and criminal justice action are now substantially misdirected.”

In particular, the system means that the most vulnerable people in society may not be getting the police protection they require from repeat offenders, the report said.

Meanwhile, the Church of England can’t seem to tell fiction from fact, since it wants a cash settlement from Sony for… Well, you read it:

Church wants cash for ‘sick’ game

LONDON, England (CNN) — Entertainment giant Sony has been branded irresponsible for using a cathedral from a city plagued by gun crime in a violent video game.

The Church of England says the company did not seek permission to use the Manchester Cathedral in the game, and is demanding an apology and a large donation to be used in its work with young people.

Church leaders have accused Sony of the “desecration” of the cathedral after the firm set the top-selling the new PlayStation 3 game, “Resistance: Fall of Man,” in the place of worship.

The game, which has sold more than one million copies, sees a virtual shoot-out between humans and gun-toting aliens with hundreds killed during a battle inside the cathedral.

Sony has been criticized for choosing Manchester — a city where gun violence is rife, and has left tens of youngsters dead. Every year a candlelit memorial services is held in the Manchester Cathedral in honor of people who have been killed by guns.

The Dean of Manchester Cathedral, The Very Revd. Rogers Govender, said Monday the use of the cathedral in the game was “beyond belief.”

He said Sony’s product undermined the important work the church did and created an image the church did not want to be connected with.

Church officials, who have described Sony’s move as sick and sacrilegious, met Monday to discuss the next steps in the dispute and draw up a letter of demands to be issued to Sony.

Church leaders want the game removed from shop shelves or modification of the section of the game to remove the Cathedral interior. They also want an apology from the company for using “realistic photo quality” images of its building without permission. Govender said the church would also seek a donation to be used in its work with young people. He did not specify how much the company would be asked to pay.

Govender urged Sony to get in touch with the church within the next few days to discussed the points raised by church leaders, and hoped the two parties would be able to find a “mutually satisfactory conclusion.”

Spokesman for Manchester Cathedral David Marshall told PA the church had received emails in support of its stance against the multinational.

The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt. Rev. Nigel McCulloch, said: “It is well known that Manchester has a gun-crime problem.

“For a global manufacturer to recreate one of our great cathedrals with photo-realistic quality and then encourage people to have gun battles in the building is beyond belief and highly irresponsible.

“Here in Manchester we do all we can to support communities through our parish clergy; we know the reality of gun crime and the devastating effects it can have on the lives — it is not a trivial matter.”

Patsy McKie, from the Manchester-based group Mothers Against Violence, told CNN she was pleased the church was taking action over the game.

In 1999, her 20-year-old son died after he was shot in Manchester.

“We are concerned about the amount of violence in these games,” McKie said Monday. “It’s real for us. We are living the reality here. It’s not just a game.”

It is understood photographers may have visited the Cathedral to take pictures for use in the game, PA said.

During the game players are asked to assume the role of an army sergeant and win a battle.

A spokesman for Sony Japan confirmed to CNN Monday that the interiors depicted in the game were based on the Manchester Cathedral. He said Sony was taking the complaint very seriously and is looking into the matter.

Asked what Sony’s next move would be, a spokesman said on Monday: “We are now in contact with the Cathedral authorities and will be dealing with them directly,” according to a Reuters report.

David Wilson, a Sony spokesman, told The Times: “It is game-created footage, it is not video or photography. It is entertainment, like Doctor Who or any other science fiction. It is not based on reality at all.

“Throughout the whole process we have sought permission where necessary.”

This is a profoundly fvc!ed up culture. And gun control activists want us to follow their lead! We don’t need to get any more fvc!ed up than we already are. I prefer our culture where elderly restaraunt patrons can defend themselves, and fathers can defend their daughters rather than one where a shopkeeper gets fined (and could have gotten a prison sentence) for doing what used to be his civic duty.

Yes, we’re both violent, but they’re fvc!ing insane.

New Hires.

Received via email (thanks, Jim!)

A simple and effective problem solving technique for new hires…

Determining the right spot for the new employees.

1. Put 400 bricks in a closed room.

2. Put your new hires in the room and close the door.

3. Leave them alone and come back after 6 hours.

4. Then analyze the situation:

a. If they are counting the bricks, put them in the Accounting Department.

b. If they are recounting them, put them in Auditing.

c. If they have messed up the whole place with the bricks, put them in Engineering.

d. If they a rearranging the bricks in some strange order, put them in Planning.

e. If they are throwing the bricks at each other, put them in Operations.

f. If they are sleeping, put them in Security.

g. If they have broken the bricks into pieces, put them in Information Technology.

h. If they are sitting idle, put them in Human Resources.

i. If they say they have tried different combinations, they are looking for more, yet not a brick has been moved, put them in Sales.

j. If they have already left for the day, put them in Management.

k. If they are staring out of the window, put them in Strategic Planning.

l. If they are talking to each other, and not a single brick has been moved, congratulate them and put them in Top Management.

m. If they are doing nothing, but billing you for their time, put them in Legal.

n. Finally, if they have surrounded themselves with bricks in such a way that they can neither be seen nor heard from, put them in Congress.

That last one isn’t quite right. We see and hear too damned much from Congress. More correctly, if they’ve surrounded themselves with bricks in such a way that they can’t see or hear YOU is more accurate. Still, I found it amusing.

Always Blaming the Wrong (but EASY) Target.

Via No Looking Backwards, Bruce reprinted this entire op-ed from the Boston Herald, published after the death of an eight year-old boy at the hands of his seven year-old cousin with a firearm. It’s that good, and (as Bruce points out) the piece will vanish into the Herald‘s archives soon, but it ought to be available to everyone – especially anti-gun advocates like Robyn Ringler – so I’m going to republish it, too. “Fair Use” I think applies here:

Mayor’s tirade again is way off-target
By Michael Graham
Thursday, June 28, 2007

It’s “hugs for thugs” from Menino and nasty notes to the NRA and Congress.

Two little boys, looking forward to starting second grade.

Two excellent readers, always ready to laugh, and with little sisters who sometimes annoy them.

Two little boys with relatives who own guns and know how to use them.

One of these boys I know only from media reports and his heartbreaking picture in the Boston Herald.

But the other boy I know very well. His name is Galen, and he’s my son.

As Galen’s dad, the scene that haunts me from the tragic life and criminal death of Liquarry Jefferson is this: It’s 11 o’clock on a Sunday night, and four children – ages 15, 8, 7 and 2 – gather around a loaded handgun without a parent in sight.

Forget the gun for a moment. What the heck is a 2-year-old doing up and about at 11 p.m.? My 7-year-old son wouldn’t be able to con himself into a round of Candyland at that hour, much less a game of “Give The Glock To The Unattended First Grader.”

Mayor Tom Menino’s reaction to Liquarry’s death has proven to every Boston parent that he just doesn’t get it. He comforted the so-called “family” and assaulted the National Rifle Association.

Blaming the NRA for the death of Liquarry Jefferson is like blaming the American Cutlery Institute for the O.J. Simpson murders. Even the most ardent gun control advocate must admit that, for most of little Liquarry’s life, the least of his worries was the state of America’s gun laws.

Liquarry’s world consisted of an unwed mother who is also a repeat, violent offender; a convicted killer for a father; a 15-year-old half-brother already busted for gun possession – the son of a convict who recently beat a murder rap; various siblings from sundry fathers; and a community that looked at this dysfunctional mess and thought nothing of it.

That’s the family Mayor Menino visited and offered comfort to. That’s the family that social worker Nia Sue Mitchum described as “beautiful – she’s a good mother.”

If that’s a good family, could someone in the mayor’s office please tell me what it takes to be a bad one?

The mayor doesn’t want to talk about the reckless, outrageous and (in my opinion) criminally negligent behavior of this shabby gang. Instead, it’s “hugs for thugs” from Menino and nasty notes to the NRA and Congress.

Like most responsible parents, I know that if I had allowed my son to get shot in my home this way, the public official most likely to show up would be a police officer. If I left Galen alone with a gun, my neighbors wouldn’t comfort me. They would condemn me.

Claiming, as the mayor does, that Liquarry was killed by lax gun laws is an insult to every parent in Massachusetts, regardless of whether he or she owns guns.

Every day, moms and dads from Dorchester to Duxbury make hard decisions and tough sacrifices for their children. Some work two jobs. Others do what my wife has done and set aside successful careers to raise their children.

You could fill these parents’ homes with enough guns to stock a tax evader compound in New Hampshire, and still those children would be safely in bed at 11 p.m. Sunday.

Yelling about a “war on guns” is easy. That’s why the mayor does it. Holding the citizens of Dorchester responsible for the community they’ve created is hard. But it’s got to be done.

Liquarry and other children like him deserve it.

Amen. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you very much for saying it, Mr. Graham, and thanks to the Herald for publishing it.