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  • Archive for January, 2013

    We the Serfs

    Posted by David McFadden on 31st January 2013 (All posts by )

    The Preamble is one of the few parts of the Constitution that President Obama did not abuse in his first term. He corrected that omission in his second inaugural address by using “We the People” as a refrain. Democratic politicians love to use refrains in their speeches. At Democratic National Conventions the rabble gleefully and robotically chants the refrain with the speaker. The particular refrain Obama used reminded me of a fascinating talk Professor Richard Epstein gave during a panel discussion at the November 2010 Federalist Society Convention. At the time, I was surprised to hear Professor Epstein characterize “We the People” as the “most dangerous words in the American Constitution.” Now I understand that he explained exactly what Obama was up to:

    We have a deep ambiguity in our own minds when we start to evoke the image of “the people” in dealing with American constitutional law or indeed with any system of governance. . . . Sometimes we treat it as a celebration: “The American people have spoken and have decided x, y, and z ought to be president,” and what they really mean is that 54% of the voters happen to agree with one side and only 46 with the other, and what we do is we create a kind of an illusion of collective unanimity by taking a term like “people” and turning a majority into a total number. And in fact our Constitution does that in one place where I think it’s most misleading and most dangerous. I think the single most dangerous words in the American Constitution in one sense are the words “We the People,” which begin the Preamble. Now you would ask, now why is it that I would take such a negative view with respect to our document, particularly on this occasion? . . . You have to go back and see what the original draft of this particular provision was, and it said, “We the undersigned delegates of the following states,” and then you go through the rest of the thing. What it does in effect in one way is to kind of create this image of sort of coercive unanimity, and that’s the kind of language that you see also when you’re talking about the People’s Republic of China or the People’s Republic of East Germany–or closer to home, the People’s Republic of Cambridge, the People’s Republic of Berkeley–in which what you’re looking at is the notion that if you can get a majority, what you can do is to design and to organize the preferences of everybody. So the aggressive application of “the people” in terms of its ability to create and make law is in my mind a real open invitation to totalitarianism.

    Well, then you look at the other uses of the word people in the Constitution, and by detailed and sophisticated empirical techniques I was able to identify four such uses in the Constitution, all of which are contained in the Bill of Rights, one of them having to do with the right of assembly, one of them having to do with the various issues on searches and seizures, and one having to do with the Ninth and Tenth Amendments on reverse power. [The Second Amendment has another.] Well, this is what I call the benign use of the term people . . . because what you are doing is you are saying every individual within the society is going to be protected against the impositions of government so that the people can be secure in their homes. We do not mean by that sentence that all of us live in one giant tepee in which we have various separate rooms and they are going to be protected. What we mean is that each of us have private and individual rights and that each and every one of them should be protected against government. So the defensive use of the term people in the Bill of Rights has a completely different resonance and a completely different tone than the rather offensive use, i.e., attacking use, of the term when it starts to go into the Preamble. And this, of course, had real consequences with the design of the original Constitution because every time you start hearing the term people in the Preamble being invoked, it’s to sort of indicate the direct relationship of individuals to the central government, which necessarily is meant to sort of underplay and degrade the role of the states in the original system. So it’s not as though this is simply a rhetorical flourish without institutional consequences. It surely has those kinds of institutional consequences.

    As if to illustrate Professor Epstein’s point, Obama uses the phrase “We the People” five times to create an illusion of collective unanimity about (1) redistributionism, (2) the welfare state, (3) climate change (formerly known as global warming), (4) something opaque and equivocal about the war formerly known as the War on Terror, and (5) certain civil rights movements guided by equality “just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall.”

    Regarding that last one, he probably did not have in mind the men and women, or their predecessors, who would leave footprints along the Mall a few days later in the fortieth March for Life. And in addressing the illusory collective unanimity on the welfare state, Obama used another of his favorite rhetorical devices, the false choice. Those who say we have to choose between having our cake and eating it too are presenting a false choice, Obama argues. We can have our cake, preserving it for our children, and eat it too, he insists. (Actually, he said, “we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future,” but it’s the same thing).

    The inaugural address refers to “collective action” and shows Obama eager to use it to turn the illusory collective unanimity he claims into coercive unanimity. From the perspective of Obama and his infatuates, the Senate, with its advice and consent duty and its tradition of unlimited debate, is a problem to be “fixed,” for it stands in the way of the will of the people. Happily, that effort was checked on both fronts last week.

    It was to be expected, I suppose, that a demagogue par excellence would eventually find the Constitution’s “most misleading and most dangerous” phrase and exploit it to lend legitimacy to his program of undermining liberty and the constitutional structure.

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Obama, Political Philosophy, Quotations, Rhetoric, Speeches | 8 Comments »

    A three-sentence synopsis of America 3.0

    Posted by Lexington Green on 31st January 2013 (All posts by )

    A friend asked for a three sentence summary of the book, and this is what I came up with:

    America’s greatest days are yet to come. Just as the world of family farms and small businesses, America 1.0, gave way to the industrialized world of big cities, big business, big labor unions and big government, America 2.0, we are now moving into a new world of immense productivity, rapid technological progress, greater scope for individual and family-scale autonomy, and a leaner and strictly limited government. The cultural roots of the American people go back at least fifteen centuries, and make us individualistic, enterprising, and liberty-loving, equipping us to prosper in the upcoming America 3.0.

    There is a lot more to it, of course.

    You can preorder the book here.

    Posted in Book Notes | 7 Comments »

    Art of the Remake IX

    Posted by Lexington Green on 31st January 2013 (All posts by )

    “When I talk to Loretta, she makes me feel like number one!”

    The Nervous Eaters, Loretta (1976)

    Classic Boston early punk rock. Rough and satisfying.

    Neko Case, Loretta (2004)

    A nice (dare I say superior) remake by Miss Case, who has exquisite taste in covers.

    (I have always thought the original version sounded like it grew out of a jam based on the Velvet Undergound’s White Light / White Heat. But that is just a guess.)

    Posted in Music | 5 Comments »

    Tales from The Front (Part III)

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 31st January 2013 (All posts by )

    Our good friend Gerry from over at LITGM works for a major reseller of outdoor equipment including firearms and is on the “front lines” in this important debate. Here is his story…

    In the wake of a senseless tragedy and the residual madness regarding the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States I try to find the positive things. It’s not easy if you pay attention to the media but there are plenty of positives to witness first hand while on the front lines.

    Good news #1

    Ammo is coming in again, that is some good news. The bad news is customers snap it up as soon as it hits the shelves. Even with a ten box limit it disappears fast as if it were being given away. The magazine aisle is still barren. No backorders or rain checks are being issued. The reason is because manufacturers cannot guarantee when they will get it into our supply chain and that goes for firearms as well. Much of it has been wiped off the website. If there is no guarantee from a manufacturer then the company will not disappoint customers with a potentially false promise. Seems like a sound business decision.

    Yesterday a man approached me with the usual questions. Any .223 come in? No. Any 5.56 arrive? No. How about PMAG’s? No. What’s going on, when do you expect to get more? Don’t know. Do the delivery trucks come in overnight or during the day? Nobody knows. What is holding up the supply? Manufacturers cannot keep up with the demand. I heard some is coming in today, is that true? I’ll check.

    I told him to stick around while I made a personal visit to the warehouse and see. Some ammo came in and was being unloaded off the truck. What was on the pallets was unknown because it is all mixed up and shrink wrapped so there is no way to tell what exactly was in the shipment but I did manage to make out some branded shotshell cases. After my trip to the back I saw the department manager. He told me he heard some 5.56 was in but didn’t know how much and would get back to me when it was unwrapped. I explained that a customer had the shakes for some AR ammo. He said to tell him to come back in an hour or so and even then he did not know how much would be available since it sells instantly.

    By this time the man was accompanied by his wife who was pushing a cart with various handgun ammo boxes as I returned to the floor. I told him that yes, some had come in. When I told him it would be in an hour or so I detected that he was getting the shakes. On the floor I refer to these customers as being similar to drug addicts. I see it daily. Folks are so frightened of bans or restrictions or high prices they are taking the lack of availability way too seriously.

    He introduced himself as Sam and his wife Jill (not their real names). His shakes were brought on by the fact that he was due in for work in an hour. They discussed their situation in private. My take was they were after a twenty box limit between the two of them. Ten wasn’t enough with him having to leave. He pleaded with me to make it quicker but I explained that it was out of my control.

    Going about my business I spotted them an hour later in the archery department looking at crossbows. In another half hour I spotted them walking toward the checkout grasping their twenty boxes of American Eagle 55 grain 5.56 NATO. That’s 200 400 rounds total. They were all smiles as if they just scored an eight ball. We spoke.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, RKBA | 3 Comments »

    Raise a Glass

    Posted by Jonathan on 31st January 2013 (All posts by )

    Chicagoboyz community member Morgan Norval reminds us that January 22 was the anniversary of the Battle of Rorke’s Drift in 1879 (and immortalized in the famous movie, Zulu).

    Morgan adds:

    I’ve been to Rorke’s Drift and it was an interesting site. The Lutheran Mission is still there and Isandlwana is a few miles across the river and up the road. Fortunately for the Brits, the Zulus were unfamiliar with the rifles they picked up from Isandlwana as there was bluffs behind looking down on the Brits position at Rorke’s Drift and in the hands of skilled shooters shooting at the defenders would have been like shooting at fish in a barrel. Hollowood did a later move after Zulu called Zulu Dawn which was about the wiping out of the Brit’s regiment at Isandlwana. For one who wants to watch both just flip the sequence and watch Zulu Dawn before Zulu to get the complete historical picture Hollowood style.

    (I’ve corrected the spelling of Isandlwana in Morgan’s passage.)

    Posted in Anglosphere, History, War and Peace | 4 Comments »

    Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

    Posted by Jonathan on 31st January 2013 (All posts by )

    A Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea) flying over a pond in the Shark Valley section of Everglades National Park, Florida. (© 2012 Jonathan Gewirtz / jonathan@gewirtz.net)

    Posted in Photos | 4 Comments »

    US Foreign Policy, Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood

    Posted by Zenpundit on 31st January 2013 (All posts by )

    The Obama administration, though they would not characterize it as such nor have much desire to acknowledge it at all, have attempted  a strategic detente with the “moderate” elements of political Islam.

    This policy has not been entirely consistent; Syria, for example, is a quagmire the administration has wisely refrained from wading directly into despite the best efforts of R2P advocates to drag us there.  But more importantly, under President Obama the US supported the broad-based Arab Spring popular revolt against US ally, dictator Hosni Mubarak, and pushed the subsequent ascendancy of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Libyan revolution against the entirely mad Colonel Gaddafi. These appear to be geopolitical “moves” upon which the Obama administration hopes to build.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, International Affairs, Islam, Middle East, National Security, Obama, Politics, Religion, Society, Terrorism, USA | 5 Comments »

    2nd amendment penumbras

    Posted by TM Lutas on 30th January 2013 (All posts by )

    The US is ill served by having the gun lobby be the primary defender of the Constitution’s 2nd amendment. The first part of the text is, as the gun controllers correctly note, under analyzed:

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    The problem is that the gun controllers don’t seriously analyze it either. What is the militia is a question that has yet to be definitively answered. As clear from the statements of the Founders, the text of federal law, the collective wordings of the state constitutions and state laws, the militia is the whole of the people. Membership in the militia is pretty clear. But that doesn’t answer more than who is in the militia. It says nothing about what it is.

    What does the militia do? It must do either exactly what the military does or some subset of what the military does. How do you describe what the military does? Well the military has a listing of job descriptions called Military Occupation Specialty Code (MOSC). You never hear either side of the gun control debate discuss which MOSC are covered under the penumbra of the 2nd amendment’s recognition that the security of a free state makes a well regulated militia necessary. The gun controllers get the vapors at the idea that the 2nd amendment even has penumbras while gun groups aren’t much interested in potential penumbras beyond the right to ammunition for those guns they want and other ancillary questions strictly related to the subject of pushing lead downrange.

    I would suggest that seriously thinking about what a militia is and what it should be restricted from doing would leave a large body of activities that should be protected by the 2nd amendment but generally aren’t because of the outsized emphasis on the trigger puller protection portion of the text. What are the military missions that are appropriate for the US military that are inappropriate for the militia? That’s a reasonable question. Let’s start with a decidedly non-scary MOSC, quartermaster. The military will occasionally feed the hungry. Does the militia have that right? That seems fairly trivial but yes, they should be able to. But when cities try to stop the feeding of homeless in city parks, is it still trivial?

    When you live in a land of very limited laws, such questions do not arise. Of course you can feed the hungry and nobody need think too hard under what bit of the Bill of Rights is usurpation prevented. We exited that territory a few new deals ago. It’s time to start going over the text without skipping parts.

    Posted in RKBA | 19 Comments »

    RERUN–Jousting with a Phantom

    Posted by David Foster on 30th January 2013 (All posts by )

    (I originally posted this in July of last year. I thought it might be appropriate for a rerun given that so many otherwise-intelligent commentators are currently falling for the idea  that the Obamaites  truly and naively believe in “equality of outcomes.”  In reality they believe in no such thing, but are conducting horizontal class warfare with the intent of  collapsing the multiple ladders of success that have traditionally existed in American society into a single ladder, with access tightly controlled by people like themselves.)

    Those people who call themselves “progressives” are talking a lot about equality and inequality these days. And conservatives/libertarians, in response, attempt to explain why “equality of outcomes” is infeasible and unwise.

    To a substantial degree, though, they/we are jousting with a phantom. Because leading “progressives” don’treally believe in anything resembling equality—indeed, quite the contrary.

    Consider, for example: Many people in “progressive” leadership positions are graduates of the Harvard Law School. Do you think these people want to see a society in which the career, status, and income prospects for an HLS grad are no better than those for a graduate of a lesser-known, lower-status (but still very good) law school? C’mon.

    Quite a few “progressive” leaders are members of prominent families. Do you think Teddy Kennedy would have liked to see an environment in which he and certain other members of his family would have had to answer for their actions in the criminal courts in the same way that ordinary individuals would, without benefit from connections, media influence, and expensive lawyers?

    The prevalence of “progressivism” among tenured professors is quite high. How many of these professors would be eager to agree to employment conditions in which their job security and employee benefits were no better than those enjoyed by average Americans? How many of them would take a salary cut in order to provide higher incomes for the poorly-paid adjunct professors at their universities? How many would like to see PhD requirements eliminated so that a wider pool of talented and knowledgeable individuals can participate in university teaching?

    There are a lot of “progressives” among the graduates of Ivy League universities. How many of them would be in favor of legally eliminating alumni preferences and the influence of “contributions” and have their children considered for admission–or not–on the same basis as everyone else’s kids? Yet an alumni preference is an intergenerational asset in the same way that a small businessman’s store or factory is.

    The reality is that “progressivism” is not in any way about equality, it is rather about shifting the distribution of power and wealth in a way that benefits those with certain kinds of educational credentials and certain kinds of connections. And remember, power and connections are always transmutable into wealth. Sometimes that wealth is directly dollar-denominated, as in the millions of dollars that former president Bill Clinton was paid in speaking fees last year, or the money made by a former government official who leverages his contacts into an executive job with a “green” energy company–even though he may have minimal knowledge of either energy or business. And sometimes the wealth takes the form of in-kind benefits, like a university president’s mansion. (Those who lived in the old Soviet Union and Eastern Europe can tell you all about in-kind benefits for nominally low-paid officials.) And, almost always, today’s “progressivism” is about the transfer of power from individuals to credentialed “experts” who will coerce or “nudge” people to do with those experts have decided would be best.

    To a very substantial extent, the talk about “equality” is a smokescreen, conscious or unconscious, behind which “progressives” pursue their own economic, status, and ego agendas.

    Writing in 1969, Peter Drucker–who was born in Austria and had lived in several European countries–wrote about what he saw as a key American economic advantage: the much less-dominant role played by “elite” educational institutions:

    One thing it (modern society) cannot afford in education is the “elite institution” which has a monopoly on social standing, on prestige, and on the command positions in society and economy. Oxford and Cambridge are important reasons for the English brain drain. A main reason for the technology gap is the Grande Ecole such as the Ecole Polytechnique or the Ecole Normale. These elite institutions may do a magnificent job of education, but only their graduates normally get into the command positions. Only their faculties “matter.” This restricts and impoverishes the whole society…The Harvard Law School might like to be a Grande Ecole and to claim for its graduates a preferential position. But American society has never been willing to accept this claim…
It is almost impossible to explain to a European that the strength of American higher education lies in this absence of schools for leaders and schools for followers.

    The “unwillingness of American society to accept this claim”…the claim of elite education as the primary gateway to power and wealth…has been greatly undercut since Drucker wrote. And “progressives” have been among the main under-cutters and the leading advocates for further movement in that direction.

    Related: Paying higher taxes can be very profitable.

    Original CB discussion thread here.

    Posted in Academia, Civil Society, Education, Political Philosophy, USA | 5 Comments »

    Mush!

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 29th January 2013 (All posts by )


    ChicagoBoyz understand that not all athletes are human.

    Posted in Photos | 14 Comments »

    It’s a Matter of Trust

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 28th January 2013 (All posts by )

    As the old Billy Joel song goes; that is, a fair portion of a civil society is built on trust. Or at least – a large portion of the citizens in that society not only trust each other, but they generally also trust the civil institutions, too. There is an assumption, albeit slightly frayed around some edges that our institutions are generally benign and have the well-being of the larger public at heart. We assume, or did in the past, that laws are passed for our benefit, that rules are instituted for the same reason, that our elected leaders did, or at least mostly made a convincing pretense of representing the interests of their constituents, and not those of lobbyists bearing large favors. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Conservatism, Deep Thoughts, Health Care, Human Behavior, Law Enforcement, Medicine, North America | 26 Comments »

    Posted by Jonathan on 28th January 2013 (All posts by )

    the longest fry

    Chicagoboyz research team discovers world’s longest french fry.

    Posted in Humor | Comments Off

    Hype and Promise

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 27th January 2013 (All posts by )

    This week I walked by the always-mobbed Apple store on Michigan avenue where they had a big window display for the new iPad mini. I liked the expression on this woman’s face as she looked at her new iPhone.

    Down the street you can see the lonely Garmin store. Garmin, the GPS related company, has its only retail store in the world (per wikipedia, at least) on Michigan Avenue and I have been by it many times and it is sparsely populated, at best.

    GPS used to be a great hype story, with the possibilities seemingly endless, and companies poised to clean up with huge stock prices. Soon, however, GPS became a widely used tool, background almost, and the hype was forgotten. Garmin (GRMN on NASDAQ) initially was a darling of the stock market, a momentum stock, but which has since transformed itself into what appears to be a well-run and diversified company spread across the marine, flight, exercise, and auto areas. They have changed from a stock touting the limitless growth of GPS to a practical stock that explains their gross and operating margins for each segment clearly and also how they are using the free cash flow that they receive to pay investors a large and growing dividend – go here for a brief presentation for investors from their web site.

    It is interesting to see how our perception of a company or stock is based on our personal experience with the consumer devices. We see Apple at home or at work, and interact with it every day of our lives (if you are an “Apple” person). On the other hand, few of us think much about Garmin, but it is integrated into cars, exercise devices (one of the few stand alone devices that really seems to be growing), planes, boats, and many other areas. At one time it seemed that everyone would have a stand alone GPS devices, but then the “coolest” consumer application components were integrated into iPhones and Android phones and became commonplace in autos so it just became less exciting over time.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Business, Chicagoania, Tech | 6 Comments »

    The Controversial CTC Report

    Posted by Zenpundit on 26th January 2013 (All posts by )

    Cross-posted from Zenpundit.com

    The Center for Combating Terrorism at West Point released a report on domestic terrorism that raised hackles for a number of reasons. Despite the dismissals of liberal political pundits, the reasons for objections to the CTC report are legitimate but they did not need to arise in the first place and might have been avoided with a slightly different editorial approach or appropriate caveats (I just finished reading the report, which is primarily focused on the usual suspects). Here’s why I think the normally well-regarded CTC stumbled into a hornet’s nest:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, Law Enforcement, Libertarianism, Military Affairs, National Security, North America, Political Philosophy, Politics, Society, Terrorism, USA | 12 Comments »

    Diet Update

    Posted by Jonathan on 25th January 2013 (All posts by )

    Here’s a proven way to lose weight: The Chicagoboyz anchovy diet.

    Cut out the sweets and sticky buns and load up on as much healthful anchovy protein as you want. Simple and delicious.

    I’ve lost 289 pounds so far.

    Chicagoboyz bring the anchovies

    Posted in Humor, That's NOT Funny | 9 Comments »

    A Winter’s Tale

    Posted by David Foster on 25th January 2013 (All posts by )

    “It is so cold in here,” said Gretchen. “The fire is almost out.”

    “I will go to our woodpile and bring more wood,” said Hans.

    “There is none left, Hans,” replied Gretchen sadly. “We have used all our wood that we saved for the winter.”

    “I will go into the great forest,” responded Hans, “and bring more.”

    “Hans!” said Gretchen with alarm. “The forest wardens will take you! I have heard that there are more of them, and they are fiercer than ever toward wood thieves!”

    “Nonetheless, I must try, dear Gretchen,” replied Hans firmly, “for you and for the little ones.” He put on his thin overcoat, opened the door, and stepped outside into the icy, howling blast.

    A folk tale from the Middle Ages?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Energy & Power Generation, Environment, Europe, Germany, Leftism | 20 Comments »

    History Friday: Bass Reeves and the Last of the Lawless West

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 25th January 2013 (All posts by )

    In the year of the Centennial of the United States, the last of the West left relatively unscathed by the forces of law and order was that part of present-day Oklahoma set aside as homeland for the native Indian tribes. This was a 70,000 square mile territory in which anything went … and usually did. Among what was called the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole) there were native law enforcement officers, who upheld the law among their own. But they had no jurisdiction over interlopers of any color, or tribal members who committed crimes in company with or against an outsider, and the Territory was Liberty Hall and a refuge for every kind of horse thief, cattle rustler, bank and train robber, murderer and scalawag roaming the post-Civil War west. Just about every notorious career criminal at large for the remainder of the 19th century took refuge in the Oklahoma Territory at one time or another, including the James and Dalton gangs.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Diversions, Film, History, Law, Media | 5 Comments »

    Cool Retrotech: a New Oldest Computer

    Posted by David Foster on 24th January 2013 (All posts by )

    The world’s oldest functioning computer  is now the WITCH, aka the Harwell Dekatron Computer, recently resorted to operating condition in Britain. It is also, almost certainly, the world’s slowest functioning computer.

    The WITCH, built at Britain’s Atomic Energy Research Establishment,  was designed circa 1949 and completed in 1951. Circuits are comprised of dekatrons..a type of electron tube with an inherent count-to-ten capability..and ordinary telephone relays. The machine can store 40 eight-digit numbers, and while it can operate in stored-program mode, it was more normal to execute programs directly from punched paper tape. A “loop” when operating in this mode was an actual physical loop, with the ends of the tape glued together.

    This computer was designed for reliability rather than blazing (by the standards of the time) speed, and it was so slow that a human could keep up with it for a limited period of time—but after half an hour or so the human would have to drop out, exhausted, while the machine plowed on, “utterly relentless.” I’d guess that the WITCH..taking into account its ability to operate unattended..could do as much computation as a human group of 5-10 people. Despite the machine’s slowness, the staff at Harwell found it useful, and it continued in use there until 1957, when it was given to Wolverhampton Polytechnic…which is where it got its current name, the Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computer from Harwell. There it supported research and teaching until 1973. It was rescued from storage a few years ago and restored by volunteer efforts. It is now on display at Bletchley Park, the WWII center for codebreaking.

    The restored WITCH displaces the previous oldest-working-computer champion, the Ferranti Pegasus.

    WITCH video here.

    Related post about the reconstruction of another early British computer, the EDSAC.

    Posted in Britain, History, Tech | 3 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 24th January 2013 (All posts by )

    Ann Althouse:

    The issue there was not guns but the use of tax money to pay for teachers of religion. In the paragraph quoted above, Madison went on to say that citizens should object to the requirement of paying even “three pence” to support a religion because a government that extracts even that trifle may go on to coerce religious conformity. The small things are not small. The small things are where the people still have the capacity to fight authoritarian government.
     
    Democrats know this. They are part of this American culture of deeply engrained belief in constitutional rights. What is different to the Democrats is that they don’t believe that the right to keep and bear arms is a constitutional right. They think the Supreme Court misinterpreted the Second Amendment when it found a constitutional right. District of Columbia v. Heller was a 5 to 4 decision, and the 5 are the 5 Justices, still on the Court, whom the Democratic Senators would love to have a chance to replace.

    Read the whole thing.

    Democratic politicians claim that they don’t want to take away people’s guns, but the pols’ behavior belies the claim. As Althouse points out, the Democrats appear to be looking at all possible ways to restrict the right to arms. The only things that hold them back are the Republican controlled House of Representatives, fear of a backlash by voters, and the courts. But we can be sure that the Democrats will seize any opportunities to restrict the RKBA that appear.

    If you haven’t yet done it, now might be a good time for you to join or renew your membership in the National Rifle Association. I just joined. The NRA isn’t perfect but it’s the most effective advocate for the right to arms that we have.

    Posted in Politics, Quotations, RKBA | 12 Comments »

    Fashion

    Posted by Jonathan on 23rd January 2013 (All posts by )

    high-carb diet book

    (Published 1985.)

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Photos | 15 Comments »

    Gun Trafficking

    Posted by David Foster on 22nd January 2013 (All posts by )

    high-powered weapons being provided to someone who should not pass a basic background check.

    The first four F-16 fighters are on their way to Mohamed Morsi’s Egypt. The total package will be 20 planes, all being paid for out of your tax dollars.

    As I noted here, each F-16 is equipped with a M61-A1 Vulcan gun—the capabilities of which vastly exceed those of any “assault rifle”—in addition to considerable other weaponry.

    And while providing this weaponry to the Morsi regime, the Obama administration actually wanted to send a bill to our traditional ally, France, for the logistical support we have provided them during their Mali operation. The total amount of the payment demand (which was dropped after France went public with its criticism) was about $17-19 million. This amount of money is very close to the cost of one of the 20 F-16s we are providing to Egypt.

    Posted in Aviation, France, Middle East, Obama, War and Peace | 18 Comments »

    Suppose the Syrian Regime Used Chemical Weapons…

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 22nd January 2013 (All posts by )

    …and the USA ignored it.

    Impossible?

    It just happened.

    Lee Smith reports the following:

    Last week, we learned of a secret State Department assessment that forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad had recently used chemical weapons. The State Department cable, signed by the U.S. consul in Istanbul and based on interviews with doctors, defectors from the Syrian Army, and activists, made what one unnamed administration official called a “compelling case” that the Syrian military had used Agent 15, or BZ gas, in Homs last month against the Sunni-majority opposition. Nonetheless, within 24 hours, the State Department challenged the news report and the cable’s conclusion, stating that it “found no credible evidence to corroborate or to confirm that chemical weapons were used.”

    Hat Tip to Instapundit for the above link.

    Please note that this denial by the Obama Administration is not unique in American history. In fact it has been the unofficial policy of the US Government to ignore evidence of chemical weapons use since at least the 1930’s.

    See this PDF document by Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi York University, Toronto on the Japanese use of chemical weapons in pre-World War 2 China that documents what the American government knew at the time, compared to official US government policy.

    Posted in Big Government, History, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Politics, USA, War and Peace | 13 Comments »

    The Wages of Partisan News Reporting

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 21st January 2013 (All posts by )

    I have noted recent news reports decrying incidents of Sandy Hook trutherism with a certain degree of cynical un-surprise. This then, is the fruit of modern journalism; now we have news consumers who are absolutely convinced that the mass murders either didn’t happen, didn’t happen as most reports have it, or believe that it was a put-up job entirely. Of course there have been conspiracy buffs since human history began; wherever there was a tragic or shocking event there have always been unexplained details, dangling loose ends and things which just seemed to convenient, too coincidental for some observers. Supposing the existence of a conspiracy explains shattering and usually random events all very neatly, which is why people are attracted to conspiracy theories in the first place. Since I was in grade school, I’ve been hearing about the plot, or plots which supposedly took down JFK. It’s to the point where I can paint myself as a radical just by insisting that Oswald was a lone radical nut-case and no, it wasn’t that hard a shot. And sometimes suspicion of a conspiracy has been very well based; look at the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Human Behavior, Media, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, Tea Party, The Press, USA | 18 Comments »

    Warren Buffett The Hypocrite

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 21st January 2013 (All posts by )

    Taxes are very complex in that there are many different types of taxes designed to raise revenue and modify behavior that the government wants to incentivize or dis-incentivize. At the highest and most simplified level you have:

    Sales Taxes – generally taxes paid by the buyer to the seller at the point of purchase (tax on food at the grocery store)
    Income Taxes – taxes on money people earn paid to the Federal, State or Local governments. Often this money is “withheld” from your paycheck. Typically there are myriad deductions applied to determine the amount owed
    Property Taxes – taxes levied on property owned based on valuation and paid to the local government annually
    Excise or “Sin” Taxes – taxes on specific items that the government wants to dis-incentivize such as cigarettes and alcohol, collected at the point of purchase
    Payroll Tax – tax on wages used to “fund” social security and medicare and are levied on the employer and employee alike, to a certain amount, with few or no deductions
    Capital Gains Tax – tax on the profits of securities, properties or businesses sold when the amount received is greater than the cost
    Estate Tax – tax on the accumulated assets of someone who died, paid to the government.

    There has been talk in the media about wealthy individuals who advocate “higher taxes” for various reasons, and they receive disproportionate press coverage for their “selfless” actions. Warren Buffett in particular has called for higher taxes on the rich, specifically INCOME taxes, as you can note below:

    As fiscal cliff talk buzzes around Washington and Wall Street, Buffett on Monday published a New York Times editorial calling on Congress to impose a 30% tax on people making $1 million to $10 million a year and 35% percent above that.

    However, Warren Buffett is taking significant steps to actually avoid paying the ONE tax specifically designed for him – the estate tax. Here he joins with other billionaires on their “pledge” to give away their fortunes (to trusts that they would designate how the money gets spent).

    Warren Buffett got 11 more billionaires to agree to give away half of their wealth to charity.

    It is hypocritical for those billionaires like Buffett to set aside their money in charities to be directed for purposes that they “believe in” while everyone else’s money is funneled to Federal, State or Local governments to fund whatever that governmental body decides to do with it. You and I can’t control where our payroll, income, sales or property taxes go – and we have to accept that. Then Buffett, too, should accept that when he calls on higher taxes for everyone (but income taxes hardly dent him since his wealth would be taxed through capital gains if he chooses to sell or most likely the estate tax on all of his unrealized gains through his lifetime) he should dismantle his “estate tax” protections and just show up and give his billions directly into the US Treasury when he dies, to be used for whatever purpose the government chooses, likely to pay interest on debt that we issue to the Chinese or to pay for some sort of poorly run entitlement or wealth transfer scheme.

    Warren – if you believe in the call for higher taxes, then just die without an estate plan, and let the Federal government get their 40% of your billions. It is the right thing for you to do, since you believe (apparently) that they will spend this money wisely.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Taxes | 19 Comments »

    More Tales from the “Front Lines” on Gun Control

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 21st January 2013 (All posts by )

    This article is from our good friend Gerry over at LITGM, who works on the “front lines” of gun control.

    While a good portion of the rifle display is vacant, while half the handgun case is empty and the ammo aisles are barren we still see a lot of customer traffic. A lot. One veteran employee coworker told me earlier in the season that after Christmas the store would be empty and part-timer hours would be cut. Some may be laid off. Didn’t happen. After five years of working there, Ed is surprised.

    Ed claims four years ago, after his first election and due to his past history Obummer frightened the masses enough they began stocking up, causing a mad rush for ammo but not so much for firearms. After the ammo was gone (most popular was handgun ammo at the time I recall as a customer) the crowds subsided after a few weeks. Not this time. Customers flock in during certain hours interrupted by more moderate, what we now call rest periods. The worst times are early mornings, after 5pm and on weekends all day long. We are at the point where customers are buying anything in stock and will make compromises. Definitely a seller’s market.

    They come in and comment on the barren shelves. Without a prompt they comment on politics and politicians. Military veterans and law enforcement officers seem to be the most vocal in opposition to potential new laws and bans. Do not believe the liberal media propaganda machine.

    Some customers will stand and stare, some just gape, slack-jawed at what little ammo selection is left, as if miraculously more will appear or the price will suddenly drop. If you are reading this and like to shoot and/or hunt you had better buy any ammo available. Prices have already gone up and will not, in my opinion, be going down again anytime soon.

    Last Friday an older retired gent pushing a cart wearing a hearing aid needed assistance. He and his wife were standing in front of a free-standing display that holds buckshot and slugs. Because of his hearing loss the wife acted as translator and at times repeated what I said very loudly. He explained that his WInchester pump shotgun was nearly fifty years old and he has had it in a closet, unused for the past twenty. His question was, is it safe for him to use 00Buck in such an old weapon? My response at first was to ask what was the fixed barrel choke (knowing that an older shotgun such as his was without changeable screw-in choke tubes) set at? He claimed that it was a full choke since he used it for goose hunting. We never recommend anything regarding firearms unless the customer is very specific in a request or I can visually inspect the firearm for which they want to buy ammo, scope mounts, scope rings, etc..

    Here is where you may have a few problems sir. First you should have your shotgun inspected by a professional gunsmith. Second, a constricted full choke creates a potentially dangerous situation when firing 00Buck no matter how new a shotgun may be. when firing, the muzzle may splinter or the barrel may bulge by being over pressured. At that point his wife jumped in and loudly said, “That would be ironic, here we’re trying to protect ourselves and we could end up being the ones getting hurt.” In this situation something I often do is suggest they get a second opinion. There are two others who work in my area with much greater knowledge in firearms than I so I will call for one on the 2-way when the need arises. Roger came over and confirmed my advice. We then set the gent and his wife up with a box of #4 lead shot. It’s not 00Buck but #4 should get the job done. Larger lead shot for wing shooting such as #4 is always hard to find but we had a few boxes.

    This couple is no different than many of the customers who have come in lately. They are either first time buyers or aged owners who put away their firearms long ago for whatever reason and now want to have them back in good working condition. These folks are taking what they believe could be their final chance to possess personal firearm protection legally.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Law Enforcement, RKBA | 13 Comments »