WolfesBlogArchives: March 2004

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

WASN'T THE UNPATRIOT ACT WRITTEN TO TAKE CARE OF THIS PROBLEM? That's what they said at the time, remember? But no. The 9-11 commission now says we need a new agency entirely dedicated to spying on Americans. Perhaps even a whole military command. The ideas vary -- and you might want to carry a barf bag while embarking on the article behind that link -- but whether they call it the Stasi, the KGB, or the All-American Star-Spangled Flag-Waving God&Country Good-Neighbor Homeland-Security Apple-Pie-Spy-Shop ... BOHICA. No matter whose plan you read, you're looking at a baaaaaaaad idea.

Time to build those gulches, folks. Time to think in terms of protecting and making discreet common cause with fellow freedom lovers so we can emerge after the fall of this police state and restore the concept of individual rights. The world doesn't want to be saved from itself (or from those who want to "help" it into totalitarianism). Save ourselves so we can save the vision that will let our kids and grandkids rebuild a free society out of the wreckage.

Posted by Claire @ 09:31 AM CST [Link]

AH, SPRING. Even when it looks as if the gloom and cold is never going to depart, campout weather really will be here soon. As I depart for parts unknown, Wolfesblog blogispondent Ian McCollum offers tips for novice backpackers. Being young and able to put up with anything, he ventured out earlier than us sensible sorts and shares a few lessons he learned ... [more]

Posted by Claire @ 09:25 AM CST [Link]

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

THE NEW BOOK IS ALL BOXED UP and goes in the mail today. Whew. On Thursday, I'll be leaving for an 11-day road trip and will be out of touch. In between, I'm catching up on unfinished business -- and the first order of business is to deliver some thank yous.

Wolfesblog -- Debra and I -- have had a handful of loyal donors from the get go. This month, two people surprised us with unusually large donations. Thank you cards are sitting on my kitchen counter, waiting for handwritten messages and postage stamps. So if you've been wondering why your generous gesture hasn't been properly acknowledged, it will be. Funny thing, it's easy to dash off a quick e-mail thank you for a small gift, much harder to find the right words to say for a bigger act of generosity.

And there are no adequate words to describe five pounds of California dried apricots showing up in the morning mail!

Debra will keep up the blogging during part of the time I'm gone. There will also be a few blogless days in early April. (If you wish to infer from that that Debra and I are off somewhere during that time, nefariously plotting and conspiring together, you may. But I assure you, we'll admit nothing, no matter how many apricots you bribe us with or how many members of the Bush or Clinton families you threaten to inflict upon us for keeping silent.)

Posted by Claire @ 09:36 AM CST [Link]

THE OTHER SHOE HAS DROPPED. Verizon has fired Jeffrey "Hunter" Jordan. They made the firing retroactive to January 7 to avoid paying him (up to now, he's been on unpaid suspension). And they gave no specific reason. If you've been wondering whether to write a letter on Hunter's behalf, now might be the time.

Posted by Claire @ 09:24 AM CST [Link]

NOW HERE'S AN UNEXPECTED TWIST. Debra here. In response to the concern over Mad Cow Disease, Creekstone Farm Premium Beef wants to privately test all the cattle it slaughters so they can ensure that their beef is Mad Cow free. Perfectly natural market response to consumer demand, right?

Here's where the irony comes in: the federal government (you know, the guys who swear they're doing "everything possible" to protect the beef supply) does not allow such private testing for mad cow disease.

"[The USDA] claims that a new government testing system it approved this month is perfectly adequate. More than 10 times the number of cattle will be tested for mad cow under the new system, but the government still will be testing less than 1% of the 37 million cattle slaughtered in the U.S. each year. That falls far short of the 100% testing Creekstone Farms is proposing and Japan provides.

That's not the end of Creekstone Farms' woes, either. Its competitors are complaining that Creekstone's testing plans would "set an expensive precedent." (Heaven forbid that other cattle producers have to actually compete, right? ). So the fed ban on private testing continues, competition is stifled, and consumers get the shaft.

ANY lefty who still believes the government wants to "protect" us is in utter denial.

Posted by Debra @ 09:21 AM CST [Link]

Monday, March 29, 2004

THIS STARTED AS ANOTHER DAY WHEN IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO CHOOSE WHICH BAD NEWS TO BLOG ABOUT. The latest court decision against the Fourth Amendment? The somewhat unsurprising claim that New York Times reporter was working as a federal informant? [Later edit: The reporter denies it; I've got a library hold on the book mentioned in the article & will check it out.]

The most poignant news of the day wasn't really news at all -- but a touching, terrible, riveting photo essay of a young Russian woman's motorcycle trip through the Chernobyl dead zone. Anybody who aspires to write post-apocalyptic science fiction should take the time to look at that one. Or anybody who needs a reminder of what socialism ultimately wrought.

Decisions, decisions. Then I went to the post office. And there was this big, fat, heavy package. A mystery package. And when I opened it I discovered ... California dried apricots!!!!! A bounty of apricots. A wealth of apricots. A delicious, rich, red-gold treasure of apricots.

Mr. Red Dog, you shouldn't have. (But I'm glad you did.) I'd be embarrassed had this gift come from a stranger. In a way it does; I've never met the giver. But I know him through the blog and the forums. I know him through the wicked exploits of his dogs. And he was already so precious to me for his good sense, kindness, and wit that I half regret that his apricots came with a note that said he wasn't angling for that trip to Tahiti.

Besides a lifetime (well, a coupla months' :-) ) supply of my favorite food, that box of apricots brought another reminder that, for all the perils of the world, the parts of the world we choose to surround ourselves with can be astonishingly good at times. And the people we choose as our friends can go a long way to make up for the abstract, faraway evils that lurk on the e-pages of the netly news.


Posted by Claire @ 12:33 PM CST [Link]

Saturday, March 27, 2004

WHEW. I'm about a day, maybe day-and-a-half, from being finished with the &^%$#! book I've been working on since October. My deadline's this Wednesday, and until a couple of days ago, I didn't think I was going to make it on time. Until just two or three weeks ago, I thought I might not be able to deliver at all.

Not sure why this book was such a struggle, since all the publisher asked for (and all I'm delivering, essentially) is a replacement for 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution and Don't Shoot the Bastards (Yet) with updated items and some new material. I spent a long time trying to Get Real Clever, but in the end I left the various false paths I'd started down and settled on simplicity.

Both 101 and Don't Shoot contained 101 numbered action items or thought bits. This book is also organized into "bits." I didn't count them as I worked and figured I had maybe 110, 115. Only yesterday afternoon did I number each item header and discover ... 183. (Well, that explains part of the reason the ^%$#@! thing felt like so much work!)

The book still has no title & I somehow think 183 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution just won't do.

A tad bit of cutting, some polishing ... and off it goes to the publisher on Wednesday.

During the final days of the work, TC sent this Winston Churchill quote from a Higher Plane:

Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.

Yep. That says it.

This will almost certainly be my last "political" book. I still enjoy being political on the blog and the forums. But no more total immersion.

Posted by Claire @ 08:50 AM CST [Link]

DRUG COPS NEED TO GET A LIFE. They're busting into homes based on such damning evidence as having a high electric bill and putting your trash out on the morning of the collection. No kidding.

Posted by Claire @ 08:36 AM CST [Link]

Friday, March 26, 2004

NPR HAD A FASCINATING REPORT THIS MORNING on conflicts of interest among U.S. Supreme Court justices. You know the current flap over Antonin Scalia being buddies with Dick Cheney. Well, NRP's basically saying all these folks have been snuggly in bed with each other since the days of George Washington, and only in the last few decades has anybody expected justices to recuse themselves when their buddyhood gets too obvious.

No big surprise, really. But some interesting court history and trivia.

Yet it's also a perfect, typical example of swatting at gnats while failing to see the elephant that's pooping all over your living room carpet. Conflict of interest? How about this one? In any case in which the federal government is a party, every justice ought to recuse him (or her) self because -- DUH! -- they all receive their paychecks from the fedgov and work in a big fancy building provided by the fedgov. And they're chosen, vetted, and appointed by the fedgov. Whose side are they likely to be on?

Tax cases are where the conflict is worst. If you got into conflict with AT&T and your only choice was to go to court in which the judges, the building, the bailiffs, and the per diems of the jurors were all paid by AT&T, why would you even imagine you could get an impartial trial? But we're supposed to pretend we can get a fair trial from people who are paid with the very funds that tax avoiders are accused of withholding. (And I'm not just talking about the special IRS courts, which are too weird to be true; but any court funded by tax money -- which is all of them.)

If you had to resolve a conflict with AT&T or IBM or even the United Way in a court entirely funded by your adversary and packed with your adversary's employees, you'd howl and screech. The media would beat its collective breast. Congress would hold hearings and pass laws. Human rights organizations would hold candlelight vigils for you. But we accept exactly this same sort of conflict of interest with government just because "we've always done it that way." So nobody even considers that the elephant might be there.

Man, how much elephant dung is going to have to pile up before people notice the odor?

Posted by Claire @ 12:15 PM CST [Link]

REMEMBER THE DEADLY PERILS OF DIHYDROGEN MONOXIDE? Thank heaven the effort for a global ban on the substance continues.

Posted by Claire @ 11:57 AM CST [Link]

Thursday, March 25, 2004

IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN. So predictable. The IRS does it every time. One spring, it's Leona Helmsley. The next year it's some other high-profile scofflaw. This year it's Irwin Schiff who's being indicted just in time to terrify the taxpayers into submission:

"Schiff, Neun and Cohen were ordered to appear in federal court in Las Vegas on April 14."

April 14. Couldn't they be a little more subtle about what they're really trying to do?

Posted by Claire @ 01:41 PM CST [Link]

IF YOU IMAGINED THE U.S. ECONOMY WAS IN PERIL, you simply don't know how the rest of the world's suffering. Germany has been looking even more precarious (for one thing, Germans aren't having babies so there's nobody coming along to support the fogies). Now Wolfesblog's German correspondent, Rick (aka Ulrich), sends news that doom is at hand: the state of Bavaria has announced it will no longer subsidize the purchase of lederhosen for its yodlers and oompah musicians.

When a government makes such drastic cuts, you know catastrophe must be looming. Thank heaven Al Gore gave the U.S. a few more years of breathing room back in the 90s when he reinvented American government. We had to suffer through the loss of our vital National Tea Tasting Board. But at least we've momentarily been spared the kind of pain Germany is enduring.

Thank heaven our remaining few federal agencies are still able to afford to perform vital national functions like making sure Hollywood tells us the right things about the Department of Homeland Security. And our municipalities are still healthy enough that our benevolent city leaders can concern themselves with whether our dogs are wearing seatbelts.

Posted by Claire @ 10:20 AM CST [Link]

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

"CONFESSIONS OF A LIBERTARIAN POLYGAMIST." Hear, hear. It ain't nobody's business how many spouses you got, as long as they're all capable of consent and all in the relationship voluntarily. Me, I happen to think one spouse is too many. But if you like your partners multiple, more power to you.

I believe I know who wrote this anonymous article. But then again, maybe I don't. Maybe there are simply a lot more quiet little triads and quads out there and I'm quite wrong to think my acquaintance is the writer, just because the description fits that individual.

Posted by Claire @ 12:23 PM CST [Link]

IAN HAS MORE ON THAT FAL. Earlier this month Ian McCollum and friends went to the range to test some evil black rifles. As you might recall, the FAL they tried out that day had some minor malfunctions. I asked Ian to keep the blog posted on how he and his friend solve FAL-ups. Still workin' on it. Here's his latest update. (Thanks, Ian!)

Another Chapter in the FAL Story...

Well, I hit the range again with my friend and his new Ohio Rapid Fire FAL. The weather was much more pleasant this time, and our plan was to sight it in and shoot some groups for accuracy.

Unfortunately, we hit a snag while sighting it in. After moving the rear sight as far left as it can go, the rifle still hits about 3 MOA to the right of its point of aim.This is most likely an indication of a mis-timed barrel. Basically, the barrel is either tightened too far into the receiver or not far enough, resulting in a slightly canted front sight base. This is an endemic problem with imported AKs, but can happen with most any rifle made from a parts kit (I've read of one gent who had a mistimed rifle from DSA, of all places).

Anyway, my friend is talking to ORF about getting this fixed. I guess we'll see how good their customer service is. I'm not ready to really hold this against them because it is an easy mistake to make on a build and I haven't heard of many other people having problems with them. I'll report back when more develops.

Posted by Claire @ 11:51 AM CST [Link]

QUESTING FOR TRUTH. A long, immoderate rant for people who care about such things. [more]

Posted by Claire @ 11:35 AM CST [Link]

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

WELL, THERE GOES TRAIN TRAVEL. Is anybody even a teeny bit surprised?

Posted by Claire @ 11:11 AM CST [Link]

LISA DEAN AS TSA PRIVACY OFFICER????? I justabout swallowed my dentures at that news. Dean has long been one of the nation's most vocal privacy advocates, first with the Free Congress Foundation, then with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She has adamantly opposed everything from national ID cards to the U.S.A.-Visit fingerprinting program.

Her match with the TSA can't work. Absolutely can't. There's simply no way even SuperWoman could ensure that abominations like CAPPS II contain "privacy protections." They're privacy-stealing horrors right from their inception. Only two things can happen here. Either Dean remains seriously committed to privacy and she's out of there after six months of total head-banging frustration or she stays and sells out by "softening" -- and thereby making more acceptable -- programs that don't belong in any free country.

Which will it be? Oh, Lisa, Lisa, Lisa, please don't sell us out!

The only way she could serve either freedom or privacy in that position is if she manages to completely kill CAPPS II, then goes to work getting rid of the airport Gestapo Gauntlet. Good luck ...

Posted by Claire @ 11:05 AM CST [Link]

Monday, March 22, 2004

AT FIRST IT SEEMED LIKE JUST ANOTHER LOCAL BIG BROTHER SCHEME. A Florida school district wants to fingerprint all kids and force them to give their thumb before being allowed on a schoolbus. Two million bucks to solve a non-existent problem. Conditioning kids to be good little ants in the nest, good little workers in the hive. So what else is new? Fingerprinting and tracking the government-school kiddies seems to be a bigger craze than Hula Hoops, Furbies, or body piercings ever were. It's not even news any more. But something kept me reading and of course, there's the kicker:

Superintendent Howard Hinesely said the district also plans to apply for a federal Homeland Security grant that could reimburse some of the cost.

Home-effing-land Security. It's good for prosecuting Las Vegas strippers. It's good for turning our kidlets into person-units in the inventory of the corporate state. Is there anything it isn't good for (other than freedom, of course)? All those gov-o-crats who spent the last 20 or 30 years snickering behind their hands over the tricks they were able to pull off in the name of the War on Drugs ... well, they were just amateurs, dilettantes. They were totally lacking in grand vision, those guys.

Homeland Security: Power only Orwell or Hitler could begin to dream of.

Posted by Claire @ 09:15 PM CST [Link]

AH, HYPOCRISY! You gotta love it. Debra here. Last month, the College Republicans at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island decided to offer a $250 scholarship for whites only. (Well, technically it was $50 to start, but as word got out, donations increased it to $250, where it stands today). The purpose of the scholarship was to show the inherent racism of scholarships based purely on skin color. It also mocks the application process by requiring an essay on "why you are proud of your white heritage".

Personally, I thought it a hoot. But then, I'm not a guilt-ridden liberal white chick.

In any case, George Curry of the Birmingham Times is not amused. "We should not let these silly White scholarships and phony bake sales blind us to the real threat posed by the Right-wing campaigns to eliminate affirmative action," he thunders. However, throughout the extensive article he never quite explains why offering discounts and subsidies to Whites (sic) is "silly", while offering them to Blacks (sic) is just common sense.

Posted by Debra @ 09:24 AM CST [Link]

BACKGROUND CHECKS ARE THE LATEST SUPERSTITIOUS RITUAL to ward off fear. Background checks and drug screenings. Last week I mentioned drug and alcohol screenings for volunteers in Seabrook, NH. Today, nanopro posts this article on The Claire Files forums. Background checks in a box. No kidding. Buy the tools at Sam's Club. Pick your snoop kit up along with your cases of Coke and your supersize tubs of laundry detergent. Several times in recent years I've had friends drop out of volunteer work on principle when the organizations they'd been working with for years (4H was one) demanded they submit to criminal checks.

Everybody wants to be safe. And the 4H screenings were, of course, "for the children," to try to find pedophiles before they find victims. But in a larger sense all this checking and screening is no more useful than waving a cross at somebody you think might be a vampire. No screening will help you find the really clever bad guy who hasn't gotten caught. Drug screenings might enable you to fire any suspected (even wrongly suspected) doper. But the totally incompetent employee who confines himself to legal drug use will go on effing up your business as usual. And for every real bad guy your screenings catch, there's going to be some potential good guy who's going to become less trustworthy because all your damn screenings tell him you already believe he is untrustworthy.

As my favorite private eye, Kinsey Millhone, once said, "If people think you're bad, you might as well be bad. It's more fun than being good."

And what about the drug users -- whether recreational or habitual -- who increasingly aren't allowed to work? Or the petty criminals or long-ago felons who also are also being increasingly screened out of mainstream work?

Aren't employers (and their friends in government, of course, who do all this criminalizing and convicting) creating a vast new underground outlaw class here? Or establishing a vast new welfare class? Perhaps if we're very lucky what we'll end up creating, instead, will be a vast new class of entrepreneurs -- people who can't work for anybody else, so they go into business for themselves. But I wouldn't count on it.

Something similar goes in the volunteer field. When you start making volunteers pee in a bottle or submit to examinations of their pasts, you're not only going to drive out dopers and criminals who've been dumb enough to get caught, you're also going to push out the best of the best -- people who believe trust has an important place in all relationships.

But don't worry. Ten years from now some other ritual will have replaced background checks and drug screenings in the ceaseless, desperate effort to guarantee ourselves total safety. Maybe we'll have to have our brainwaves read every morning when we report to work.

Posted by Claire @ 08:08 AM CST [Link]

Friday, March 19, 2004

ON THE SORRY ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF BUSH'S WAR IN IRAQ, Dave Gross writes a thoughful review of his year of legal tax resistance. Dave quit his job and reduced his income to avoid financing the slaughter. Since then he's encountered a few problems and discovered surprising blessings. He writes about his own experiences and the state of the world in his journal of his well-examined life.

Posted by Claire @ 12:49 PM CST [Link]

HADDA HAPPEN, I GUESS. The first virus is loose that installs if you simply look at your e-mail. Story says it can infect even if you've patched the proper Microsoft holes. Hm. And Novell has just announced the latest version of SuSE Linux. Could this be A Clue?

Posted by Claire @ 08:08 AM CST [Link]

Thursday, March 18, 2004

YOU CAN FORGET DOING EVERYTHING "FOR THE CHILDREN." That's so day before yesterday. In the future, the Big Brother horrors will be imposed "For the geezers."

Notice also that, once again, the "solution" (total remote surveillance of granny's tooth brushing, meds taking, and bowel movements) is needed largely because of a government created problem -- the coming collapse of the health-care system.

Not to mention a related pair of other (partly) government created problems -- the destruction of family and community and the need for nearly all capable adults to be working outside the home, where they have no clue what's up with their family members.

And don't forget, RFID tracking of our bathroom habits isn't merely For the Geezers. It's also for the birds.

Thanks to Sunni and Pat for the leads.

Posted by Claire @ 08:43 AM CST [Link]

THE FSP TRULY HAS ITS WORK CUT OUT FOR IT. At least in the town of Seabrook, New Hampshire. If you want to hold a volunteer position with the local government there -- whether on a town planning board or as a teacher at the local rec center -- you'll have to submit to drug testing. And this idiocy was passed overwhelmingly by a vote of The People.

Oh yeah, this includes alcohol testing, and since certain positions are considered to be 24-hour-a-day responsibilities, if you take one of those volunteer positions, you won't be allowed a drink. Ever.

The People can be prize eejits when they get their hands on a loaded gummint.

This cheery item courtesy of Dave Gross and Drug War Rant.

Posted by Claire @ 08:30 AM CST [Link]

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

"THE MARINES HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR GUNS, but they've received only bullets."

So says NPR this morning in the gun-rights media quote of the year. The report is about U.S. Marines and other "international troops" in Haiti, going house-to-house, attempting selective disarmament of the poorest Haitians (who are the exiled Aristide's biggest supporters).

I've always felt a little cynical about the famous sig line, "They can have my guns -- bullets first." But apparently when people get desperate enough, and when the threat to confiscate their weapons by force is real, they mean it. Haitians have been shooting at would-be firearms confiscators from rooftops.

What the hell are U.S. Marines doing, trying to disarm Haitians? I don't take any side in the latest Dire Crisis of the Week in Haiti. I don't understand why the U.S. gov should take any side, either. No matter what side you take, there's no winning in that mismanaged hellhole of a country. If Haitians can't figure out how to govern themselves -- and after 200 years of almost constant chaos or dictatorship, there's no evidence they seriously intend to -- the U.S. or the U.N. sure's heck can't do it for them. But if house-to-house firearm confiscation is (as some have suggested) a practice run for future U.S. operations, I'm glad to see it'll take a lot more practice before they figure out how to disarm entire communities.

(If the above link doesn't work for you, try going here and scrolling down to the story, "Tenuous calm returning to Haiti.")

Posted by Claire @ 10:59 AM CST [Link]

THIS ONE SLIPPED BY QUIETLY THE OTHER DAY. The Defense Department and the Selective Service System are laying the groundwork for a new military draft -- but only for the skilled. If you have expertise in computers or foreign languages, the government may want to claim you as its property in a couple of years. Now, how's that for incentive?

Maybe you shoulda majored in diversity studies or wymyn's victimology instead of all that hard stuff.

Posted by Claire @ 06:51 AM CST [Link]

Tuesday, March 16, 2004


Posted by Claire @ 03:55 PM CST [Link]

I ALMOST FORGOT! "Miss Fitz's Guide to Guns, Part II went online at Backwoods Home magazine yesterday. This one is on how to shop for a sidearm without shooting yourself in the foot. Webmaster Oliver del Signore did his usual outstanding job formatting the column.

Next up (on April 1) is Miss Fitz on ammo -- which I expect to be the most difficult of the four parts and the most likely to draw howls from one coterie or another of ammo advocates. (This is when I'll be glad that Miss Fitz, not I, is writing this gun guide. The guys can yell at her -- if they dare.) There's no way to write about ammo without offending somebody. I admit to having no special expertise in the subject. Other than knowing that Glasers are an impressive round to use against attacking watermelons. So Miss Fitz and I will lean heavily on experts for that one.

Part IV is scheduled to appear on April 15. And no (darnit!) it won't be about how to shoot tax collectors. It'll be about training and where to get it. Then you can shoot the tax collectors.

Posted by Claire @ 09:01 AM CST [Link]


Service providers - not the government - would be asked to pick up the costs of any necessary modifications. The proposals allow ISPs to pass on these expenses to consumers.

New services that resisted police eavesdropping would be prohibited and suppliers would have just 15 months to build law enforcement backdoors into existing services.

Critics say the proposed regime will complicate Internet product development. There are also concerns about the scope of the proposals (as applied to data networks) and a perceived lack of safeguards against abuse.

How come these articles always mention "safeguards," as if that would make everything okay? How can you possibly have any "safeguard" that would compensate for a federal citizen-surveillance apparatus that has the power to forbid businesses to develop new products and the power to force industry to customize its existing products to the specifications of the KGB or the Stasi?

Posted by Claire @ 08:26 AM CST [Link]

Monday, March 15, 2004

WE'VE ALL HEARD SOME SICK S--T FROM GOVERNMENT. But this is about as low in the toilet bowl as you can sink:

We locked you up in jail for 25 years and you were innocent all along? That’ll be £80,000 please

(Tks to Katherine for this one -- who sent it "speechlessly.")

Posted by Claire @ 10:02 AM CST [Link]

THAT “GETTING IT” MOMENT. I learned to do a triplet yesterday. No, that's not some kinky sex practice; it's an extra-fast beat on the bodhran, the Irish drum I'm attempting to play. Other bodhran beats are made with the bottom end of the tipper (the drumstick). A triplet is made with the top of the stick and requires an extra wrist-twist in between regular strokes.

Until now, triplets had defeated me. I could make the motion. But it would be like .... UH ... trip-let ... DUH ... downstroke – producing something like an extra whole note, rather than the super-speedy 1/16th note that was the object.

1/16th note. I couldn't imagine. I considered giving up and becoming the world's slowest bodhran player. I hadn't even attempted triplets in days, and when I tried, I was as horrible as when I first made the attempt. Day after day of DUH. It was like that yesterday. I was horrible, fumbling, inept, hopeless, not improving one tiny bit ... and then suddenly, I was playing triplets.

Not playing them well, mind you. But playing them.

I still don't have the vaguest idea of what I did differently between the last hopelessly bad stroke and the first good triplet. From one moment to the next, I could just do it.

This “getting it” moment is what artists (and mathemeticians and scientists, too, from what I hear) live for. You beat your head and beat your head and beat your head on a problem. Nothing works. Every highway turns into a rutted dead-end. Every bright light turns out to be the proverbial train at the other end of the tunnel. Then, just when you're considering giving up ... wham! Something hits you -- and it's not that train.

My ability to play a triplet on the bodhran hardly ranks up there with Watson's insight that the structure of DNA is like a spiral staircase or Newton's observation of a falling apple. But between the big boys and me lies a whole continuum on which creative people from caves to highrises have lived and thrived. The WHAM! moment, the “getting it” moment, is what keeps sensitive arty types from killing themselves from frustration and is certainly one of the things that helps the human race find its way as it lurches unsteadily into the future.

Someone once gave me that analogy (I don't know who originated it) that human progress is like a huge staircase, whose steps are higher than a human head. When people [more]

Posted by Claire @ 09:28 AM CST [Link]

Friday, March 12, 2004

"THANK GOODNESS THAT PRESIDENT BUSH TRUSTS THE PEOPLE." Anthony Gregory writes about just how awful, awful, awful things would be if those hateful big-government Democrats were in office!

If you're looking for the perfect cure for some of your R-addicted friends, Anthony might just have found it. Very funny, too.

Posted by Claire @ 11:20 AM CST [Link]

SUNNI SEZ SHE AIN'T NO FEMINIST. No, not even an individualist feminist, and you might be risking your hide if you come to her looking for "the woman's perspective" on anything. I laughed all the way through this feisty, spirited piece. IMHO, it's one of the best things Sunni Maravillosa has ever written.

But reading it, I also realized I have a very different perspective on "the libertarian woman's voice." And I'm going to try to blog about that sometime next week, if I can get out from under these deadlines. (Trying to finish a book and plan a trip out of town at the same time doesn't leave a lot of time for being brilliant & witty.)

Posted by Claire @ 11:15 AM CST [Link]

Thursday, March 11, 2004

SUNNI MARAVILLOSA WEIGHS IN AGAINST THE "FAIRTAX." She links to the taxers' own Web site. And you know what? It looks phony to me. It's supposed to be some "people's" group. But finding out what actual people are behind it is a bit of a trick. It's very bland, too. Almost looks like what some bureaucrat would wrongly imagine a grassroots tax-reform Web site would look like.

Well, whoever's behind a national "consumption" tax is no friend to liberty, as I blogranted a few days back. Mark my words, the "FairTax," should it ever be inflicted upon us, will make us nostalgic for the days when the IRS ruled alone. The FT will be that much awfuller. And we'll have it on top of the income tax.

Posted by Claire @ 09:50 PM CST [Link]

SOME DAYS LEAVE ME SPEECHLESS, and this was one. The bombings in Spain, blowing 200 people to bits and injuring well over a thousand more, are almost as heartbreaking as 9-11. The statisticians can say how much worse one attack was than the other. But you can't measure human pain and horror like that. How do you measure the blood and brains and guts of babies and innocent commuters rainging down on urban train stations?

What kind of person kills the innocent and calls it good in any cause?

An all-too-common kind of person, I think. A person who can't even recognize what he really is when he looks into a mirror. A person who doesn't realize how much he's like his worst enemies.

Aaron Zelman forwarded an article today by Benjamin Shapiro, in which a failed Palestinian suicide bomber was quoted as saying, "For me, all the Jews are soldiers, and I wanted to kill as many as I could ... As long as I am alive, I will never leave the Jews alone."

How convenient to define all of any group as "soldiers" to justify slaughtering them. How wrong-headed and how disgusting.

But while expressing righteous rage over the bomber's comment, Shapiro himself defines all anti-Semites as "Amakelites" -- the genocidal biblical enemy of the Jews. According to Samuel, God hated the Amakelites so much he ordered the Jews to slaughter each and every one of them, right down to their babies, and including their farm animals. And -- as Shapiro himself implies (though never directly states) -- all modern-day "Amakelites" should be killed. Not only those who actually aggress against the Jews, but all those who are "morally degraded" or who'd like to see the Jews gone.

By a conservative estimate, that's about 100,000,000 Islamic fundamentalists Benjamin Shapiro wishes to see dead.

Well, sorry, Benjamin. If you really mean it's right and righteous to slaughter people just because they hate Jews and not because they've actually aggressed against Jews, that makes you a moral cousin to the bomber babe who said your infant daughter and your ancient grandmother were "soldiers." Jews aren't all soldiers, deserving to be killed. And people who dislike Jews aren't all Amakelites, deserving to be killed. (And it's interesting that Shapiro justifies slaughter on the grounds that some target group is "morally degraded." Has he forgotten that "moral degradation" was one of the major charges Hitler used to excuse the ostracism and eventual slaughter of the Jews?)

And those commuters on those Spanish trains ... whoever killed them, those innocent people weren't all whatever cliche their murderers used to justify targeting and slaughtering them, either. Yes, you can be sure, even though we don't know who planted those bombs, that they did persuade themselves that all those innocents were "infidels" or "vermin" or "collateral" or "soldiers" or whatever other cool term of dismissal appealed to the murderers at the moment.

The one thing all these "death to my enemies" crusaders have in common -- and not coincidentally, the one thing they all also have in common with governments everywhere -- is a complete and total failure to value individuals. A total failure to recognize that everybody has a heart, a spirit, hopes, dreams, aspirations, and varying levels of innocence and guilt that neither the Pentagon nor the PLO nor the ETA nor Al-Quaida nor Hitler nor the Mossad is competent to pass capital judgment upon. It doesn't matter a damn whether it's flying planes into the Pentagon or dropping bombs from planes onto Afghani children. Doesn't matter a damn whether it's blowing up trains and office buildings or whacking the arms and legs off little Iraqi boys. It's all done by people who think something else in this world trumps the rights, and the value, of individuals. And who'll make convenient excuses to themselves to justify their neverending slaughter until they day they destroy the whole helpless world.

A pox on all their houses.

Posted by Claire @ 08:43 PM CST [Link]

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

ML SEYMOUR'S LATEST LIBERTY ACTION OF THE WEEK Contains this link to an eye-opening Web site about the Pledge of Allegience. Yeah, you probably already know the pledge was written by a socialist to generate mindless loyalty to the state. You may have even heard what the original pledge salute looked like. But lawyer Rex Curry has the photographic evidence. Want a nice little chill? See All-American kiddies doing that. Lots of good background info on the pledge, too.

The big current flap over the pledge is a classic case of "conservatives" ardently defending something that would have horrified them, had it been initially imposed during their own lifetimes.

Posted by Claire @ 11:47 AM CST [Link]

JesterJones_AshcroftWatching (11k image)

JesterJones_TraitorsTalk (12k image)

JESTER JONES, I LOVE YOU! Rodney Jones writes from some mysterious corner of the world to tell the world about his marvelous, hysterical, fantastic, clever Simon Jester sticker designs.

Check 'em out, all you potential Jesters out there! Rodney has remixed some old WWII posters to give them contemporary homeland security themes. He invites you to download his designs, make stickers out of them to put on envelopes (or on any other handy surface) -- and subvert away! Click on the link "So what's this site about, anyway?" to get instructions and ideas for using the stickers in Jestering.

Jones credits me and 101 Things for inspiring his idea. I'm grateful -- and delighted to spread this quiet little rebellion, along with some inspired others. But the original notion belonged to Robert Heinlein in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Posted by Claire @ 08:28 AM CST [Link]


My name is Alexander Navarro; I am a Boy Scout with Troop 13, in Queensbury, New York. I am currently working on my Eagle Project for the Eagle Scout rank, the highest rank in Boy Scouts.

A fundamental requirement of an Eagle Project is community service. JurorsRule will do this by educating people about their rights, duties, and powers as potential jurors. Such powers are not explained in the States' Jurors' Handbook, and are rarely explained by a judge during court. (See What Judges Don't Tell Juries)

Another requirement of an Eagle Project is to get others to participate by delegating various activities to them. This is where you come in, and you can help with my project in two ways:

His goal is to inform 1,000,000 people about jurors' rights. Pass the word.

Posted by Claire @ 07:58 AM CST [Link]

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

WASH YOUR HANDS, advises the most recent system manual for Dell's Latitude D600. Debra here. A special section labeled "For California Residents" gives the following warning:

WARNING: Handling the cord on this product, or cords associated with accessories sold with this product, will expose you to lead, a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. Wash your hands after handling the cord.

The emphasis is theirs. Is California run by a bunch of loons or what?

Posted by Debra @ 11:32 AM CST [Link]

MILITARY EXPANDS ROLE IN DOMESTIC SPYING. You know it's bad news when this many smart people send you a copy of the story. The Wall Street Journal looks at military intelligence (sic) within the borders of the U.S. and finds it growing everywhere. A sample:

Another little-known Pentagon group, the Counterintelligence Field Activity, was set up two years ago. With 400 service members and civilians stationed around the globe, the CIFA was originally charged with protecting the military and critical infrastructure from spying by terrorists and foreign intelligence services. But in August, Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, issued a directive ordering the unit to maintain a "domestic law-enforcement database that includes information related to potential terrorist threats directed against the Department of Defense."

The CIFA also works closely with the FBI and is conducting some duties for civilian agencies. For example, according to Department of Agriculture documents, the CIFA is in charge of doing background checks on foreign workers and scientists employed by the department's agricultural-research service. The group also provides information to the Information and Security Command, or Inscom, the Army's main intelligence organization, based at Fort Belvoir, Md.

CIFA? Who are these people? Does Congress even know they exist? Who's overseeing them? Where did they get their authority? What constitutes a potential threat against the Defense Department? (Seems anti-war demonstrations increasingly come into that category -- at least in the eyes of authoritarian paranoids.)

And you remember the little squawk a few weeks ago, when the feds subpoenaed university records after an anti-war conference? They eventually backed off. But the WSJ notes that that wasn't the only such incident ...

(Thank you to Jim and the Iron Man.)

Posted by Claire @ 10:26 AM CST [Link]

Monday, March 8, 2004

MARTHA GOT SCREWED. Harry Browne says it so well and explains why Martha Stewart's catastrophe is a problem for everybody. I likedLew Rockwell's header for the Browne article, too: "Free the SEC One!" Amen.

Later: Duncan Frissell, the Technoptimistic lawyer, adds his own advice to you, based on Martha's hard-learned lessons. The short version:

(That last item could be difficult if you're married to a fed. Or if you are one. But I trust you'll work that problem out on your own.)

Posted by Claire @ 09:20 AM CST [Link]

TWO FALS AND AN AR-10. Ian McCollum and friends went to the range yesterday and celebrated Evil Black Rifle Day. Ian gives Wolfesblog an exclusive report on how his friends' collection of these rifles handled and performed. [more]

Posted by Claire @ 08:46 AM CST [Link]

Sunday, March 7, 2004

JUST RECEIVED THE WORD THAT GWB HAS APPOINTED BILL PRYOR TO THE FEDERAL BENCH. This came in from Ernie Hancock's e-list. Pryor was the Alabama attorney general who gave Judge Roy Moore his ultimatum to get the 10 Commandments out of the courthouse. I think Judge Moore was wrong, but it's not a big deal to me, either way. I don't imagine the presence of the 10 Commandments in a courthouse ever particularly hurt anybody. But I don't see a whole lot of virtue being inspired by their presence, either. So as my redneck cousins say, "I ain't got no dawg in this hunt."

But by damn ... What on earth is the Twig trying to do to his conservative base??? Spending like three Clintons, proposing the guest worker program, enacting that monstrous Medicare drug debacle, and now this. (Not to mention that a lot of the real-o-cons, as opposed to the neocons, must be pretty distressed at the loss of civil liberties and the horrorshow of foreign intervention, too.)

Republicans always know their fans will take a beating on gun-rights and still keep coming back for more. So it was really a bit of a miracle when Sen. Larry Craig, with the backing of the NRA (from what I hear), pulled his own bill rather than see it compromised by victim-disarming dreck. But overall, the Bush admistration seems to be charging straight into the Valley of Death on its own orders.

Are these folks so cocky they figure that "patriotism" and "security" alone will hold these millions of core supporters? Do the Busheviks really have that much reason that the conservatives will always vote for them, even if they don't actually do anything "conservative" at all ... simply because the alternative is worse? -- When the alternative in this case is a medal-winning Vietnam War hero?

Posted by Claire @ 07:11 PM CST [Link]

CHARLES ROBERT CARNER IS THAT RARE BEING -- a Hollywood director who's also a friend to gun rights. He's not only co-founder of GunTruths and Citizens of America, but he's generously given creative advice to JPFO and me. Tomorrow, Monday, March 8 at 9:00 p.m. (8:00 Central), his latest TV film, Judas airs on ABC. Read the description at that link. It sounds as if this film has a lot of relevance not only to Christians, but to anyone caught between hope, principles, a desire for action, and the power of the almighty state.

Posted by Claire @ 11:55 AM CST [Link]

THE POLICE STATE OF OHIO ISN'T THE ONLY BIG CORPORATE ENTITY that may be trying to damage liberty's friend Jeff "Hunter" Jordan. Since Hunter's arrest, he hasn't been going to his job, either (for reasons he's not allowed to talk about, but that appear mighty, mighty suspicious). Has his employer, Verizon, kicked him off the job merely for being arrested -- not convicted! -- of doing something that would be perfectly legal in his home state? Carl Bussjaegger is organizing a letter-writing campaign to Verizon and the media. He's organized all the contact info and urges others to join him.

Posted by Claire @ 11:43 AM CST [Link]

Friday, March 5, 2004

HOW TO GUARD AGAINST REMOTE BUGGING of your conversations and your computer's RF emanations. In the wake of the news that the U.S. and Brits bugged Kofi Annan, the BBC printed this advice. Weird that ordinary people need to worry about such high James Bondisms. But in this day of casual, omnipresent snooping, we do. Maybe not as much as Kofi Annan should have worried. But nobody with a controversial opinion is safe.

We have to be paranoid about those people who are so paranoid about us.

Posted by Claire @ 01:24 PM CST [Link]

THE TERM "USEFUL IDIOT" COMES TO MIND any time I hear some well-meaning person advocating a national sales tax. My lord, even supposedly pro-national-tax articles like this one make it obvious what sort of catastrophe the badly named "fair tax" would be.

Yet efforts to inflict the tax upon us are moving steadily ahead. Supporters say they expect to have 100 congressional sponsors of their scheme by (oh, the irony!) July 4.

Aside from the fact that the income tax won't actually go away if they pass this monster (and anyone who believes it will is stunningly naive) ... aside from the utterly disruptive, destructive impact of a 23% national tax that punishes us for buying and selling ... aside from the black markets and tremendous corruption such a system would generate ... aside from the fact that everyone's savings (especially those of old people) will end up being double-taxed (even if the income tax actually, by some miracle, was completely abolished) ... aside from the fact that there is absolutely no such thing in this world as a "fair" tax ... aside from the fact that a limited government doesn't need either the income tax or a national sales tax to operate ... this scheme contains -- as an intentional part of its structure -- a plan to put millions of Americans, including formerly proud and independent people, on monthly welfare from the fedgov.

Yes. Everybody below a certain income level (and how will they determine that? through income-reporting, naturally) will receive a monthly check from the fedgov. It's a "rebate" check to pay them back for the estimated amount of tax they paid on food, clothing, and other necessities. But no, it isn't. It's simply welfare, to make everyone more dependent.

(This would, incidentally, defeat people like me. I can avoid the income tax by, among other things, keeping my income modest. But if my major monthly expenses leaped by 23% overnight, I might not be able to survive without surrendering to the goverment and accepting their effing welfare dependency. In a post-"fair tax" U.S. could you survive without federal welfare, you young parents with children, you college students, you disabled people with low-wage jobs, you formerly proud-to-stand-alone homesteaders and homeschoolers?)

I've been hoping to write a full article on the multitude of outrages and catastrophes this "fair tax" would inevitably bring down upon our heads. Haven't had time. But I did interview Katherine Albrecht, who has her own -- and terrifying! -- ideas about how the national sales tax ties in with RFID chips and purchase tracking. That monthly rebate check business ... it's so inefficient (never mind so demeaning). Let's do away with it in favor of adjusting individuals' tax levels at the checkout counter according to their personal profile of income and expenses, which is of course contained in a federal database, keyed to the number on their implanted chip.

And then, of course, for the sake of the children, and the War on Obesity, and to prevent the nationwide Epidemic of Irresponsible Consumption, let's adjust that 23% tax -- just a wee bit, you understand, and never for frivolous purposes. Make it a 200% tax on margarine and meat and certainly on McBurgers. Or, are we "going Atkins" this year and putting the heavier tax on carbs? And naturally, guns ought to have a 1000% tax. And oh, those wicked SUVs ... But on the other hand, the products of Archer-Daniels-Midland and Halliburton and whoever else gave us huge campaign contributions this year, now those products, being essential to the security of the United States and the very future of Freedom itself, should only be taxed at 12% ...

If we end up with a national sales tax, I predict we'll shortly look back with glowing nostalgia on the days when we had only the income tax to rule our economic lives.

It's beyond comprehension that so many otherwise-intelligent people are marching enthusiastically toward this black abyss, waving the banner of freedom. The national sales tax would be the biggest boon to the state -- and the worst catastrophe for individuals and free markets -- since the income tax, the federal reserve, and the New Deal/Great Society/21st-century Nanny State combined. Its unprecedented opportunities for manipulating markets, breaking politically incorrect industries at will, raising government revenues, and controlling and monitoring the lives of individuals are giving Big Brother an orgasm already. And some freedom lovers are for it.

Unbelievable. If you think the 20th century was the century of the state, just wait until we get the national sales tax -- complete with its perpetual War on National Sales Tax Cheats and all the bureaus, auditors, and ninja thugs needed to wage that war upon us.

Posted by Claire @ 08:00 AM CST [Link]

THIS BUSINESS WEEK ARTICLE is the first I've seen that makes me feel optimistic about keeping RFID chips out of the products we buy. And it's mainly due to the intelligent, passionate work of one individual -- Katherine Albrecht, founder of CASPIAN -- and the other individuals she informs and inspires.

Posted by Claire @ 07:40 AM CST [Link]

Thursday, March 4, 2004

JEEZ, WHY DON'T WE HAVE POLITICIANS LIKE THIS? The mayor of an Argentine city advises farmers to gun down thieves on their property. And he gives a fine reason why farmers' lives are worth more than thieves' lives, too.

Rick found this one. Nice find, guy.

Posted by Claire @ 05:03 PM CST [Link]

I AM *SO** SHOCKED. John Kerry is a hypocrite on privacy. Datamining his own volunteers is okay. It's only bad when other people do it.

Posted by Claire @ 01:52 PM CST [Link]

WOW. DID YOU SEE THIS COLUMN BY JOE BLOW on Strike-the-Root? "Mr. Blow" is the pen name of a schoolteacher living on the left coast. He describes a very powerful lesson about the loss of freedom that took place in his class last Friday. I don't think I've ever heard of a government schoolteacher bringing teenagers so strongly and quickly to an understanding of what they're losing.

(Tks to Randall the Dreamer for sending the story.)

Posted by Claire @ 12:52 PM CST [Link]

PRE-PAID CELLPHONES ARE GREAT FOR ORDINARY PRIVACY, but the Iron Man sends this fascinating tale that demonstrates once again that if "they" want you, they'll get you. In this case, the sorta dumb cellphone users were real terrorists. But next time it could be political dissidents.

One of the most telling (and typical, these days) points in the article was buried way down deep. Because this handful of bad guys used the "anonymous" phone cards, the country where the card's chip was manufactured (Switzerland) banned all anonymous purchases of cellular phone chips.

Can you imagine what our lives are going to be like once governments ban or control everything that can be misused by criminals?

Posted by Claire @ 11:23 AM CST [Link]

Wednesday, March 3, 2004

SOMETIMES IT'S THE "LITTLE" STORIES THAT MOST TEAR AT YOUR HEART. Here's one about Florida teenager Omar Paisley, who pleaded guilty to cutting a neighbor with a soda can in a fight. He had barely begun serving his sentence in a juvenile lockup when he became seriously ill. If you have a weak stomach or a caring heart, you may not want to read about what happened during the next several days, as prison officials (including nurses) ignored and repeatedly insulted him ... until he died in desperate agony of a ruptured appendix. Those few who cared and realized something was really wrong were powerless to move the immovable "system."

One reason stories like this get to me is that I can very well imagine ending up in prison someday. The thought of being helpless in the "care" of such people is one of the worst things I can imagine about the experience of being locked in a cage. You know, some people say it's inhumane to put a serial killer to death by injection, which might take a couple of minutes to kill you. But this kid was sentenced to death by days of the most horrific torture. And for what? Who was worse? The kid who got in a fight or the people who sneered at him as he screamed and puked and his insides filled up with poisons?

Posted by Claire @ 02:35 PM CST [Link]

"CONFESSIONS OF A WELFARE QUEEN." John Stossel does an excellent job of pillorying the rich and well-connected -- including himself! -- who wallow in welfare from the federal government. There's something Michael Moore-ish about this piece. Except more honest. Ya gotta love his subtitle: "How rich bastards like me rip off taxpayers for millions of dollars."

Posted by Claire @ 08:01 AM CST [Link]

Tuesday, March 2, 2004

SIMON JESTER IS FIRST IN WITH THE NEWS. The Senate votes down the bill to protect gun manufacturers against lawsuits (after it got so overloaded with anti-gun crap that its own sponsor, Larry Craig, disavowed it). That seems to mean they also voted down the ugly-gun ban extension. Wouldn't that be loverly ...

Here's KABA's report.

Posted by Claire @ 04:47 PM CST [Link]

WELL, IT MAY NOT BE THE OSCARS, but I just learned that Innocents Betrayed has won a Telly Award. The Tellys are given for local, regional, and cable programs, local, regional, and cable commercials, and non-broadcast film or video productions. Innocents received a Bronze Telly for placing second overall in the history/biography video category.

Yeah, it may not be the Oscars, but I can receive my plaque or statuette while wearing my sweatpants instead of some frou frou gown. That makes the Tellys okay by me.

Congratulations to Aaron Zelman, Richard Stevens, IV Media (our great production house) and to all you people out there who donated money, contributed photographs, and cheered the project along.

There's more good news coming about Innocents Betrayed, but I promised Aaron I wouldn't scoop him on everything

BTW, if you haven't got your copy yet, or if you want extra copies for libraries, friends, gun clubs, etc. order here. I guarantee you, Innocents Betrayed is one powerful mind-changing tool. I can't believe the number of letters JPFO has received from people saying their friends or family members went from anti-gun to pro-gun in a single viewing -- no big arguments, no volumes of reading, no necessity to get mugged before grokking the value of armed self-defense -- just Ohmigod, NOW I get it ....


Posted by Claire @ 03:54 PM CST [Link]

"MISS FITZ BUYS A GUN, PART I." My latest column is online at Backwoods Home. It got there thanks to a lot of help from the folks at The Claire Files forums.

This one's especially for women thinking about buying their first serious self-defense sidearm & if I don't get fired before I finish, it'll be the lead-off for a four-part series covering:

  1. Which firearm to buy
  2. How to buy it
  3. What ammo to choose
  4. How to learn to shoot it

Posted by Claire @ 08:37 AM CST [Link]

Monday, March 1, 2004

"YOUR PAPERS, PLEASE!" Are Americans required to carry ID at all times? Must you identify yourself any time a cop insists, even if he refuses to give a reason? The Supreme Court will examine those questions this month.

The story's a bit more complex than the article above implies. The man bringing the suit wasn't just standing around minding his own business. He was having an argument with his daughter by the side of a road. But does that mean a cop can demand ID from him without any clear justification? Here's more background, including video of the arrest.

Posted by Claire @ 09:01 AM CST [Link]

YESTERDAY THE NRA SENT A NEWS RELEASE trying to quash rumors that it might compromise and support legislation extending the Clinton ugly-gun ban. (The release is behind the "more" link, if you haven't seen it.)

Well, we can sure hope they mean it. But no such rumors ever would have taken hold if the NRA hadn't already earned a well-established reputation for "compromising" in favor of every major gun-control measure, from the 1934 National Firearms Act to the Brady Bill. And their loud protestations about how hard they've fought against the ugly-gun ban over the years ring just a teeensy, tiny bit hollow, given their ardent support for Project Safe Neighborhoods -- the program to create 700 federal and state prosecutors whose sole job is to throw people in prison for "gun crimes" -- overwhelmingly including the very sort of technical violations of technical laws that the NRA claims to oppose.

PSN also aims to federalize state crime. That's a plan state prosecutors are happy to go along with, partly because it means much longer sentences for such "crimes" as having a firearm locked in a trunk in another room while you do a drug deal, or harmlessly pocketing a .22 cartridge you find on someone's floor, never imagining that little act will cost you 15 years of your life.

Since 2000, federal gun prosecutions nationwide have increased by 68 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Last year, more than 13,000 people were charged with federal gun crimes as part the project. Ninety-three percent of those convicted went to prison, and most were sentenced to more than three years.

So much for the NRA's (and the Bush administration's) real viewpoint on guns. If these jailed folks were all criminals who'd used firearms violently or threateningly in crimes, then they'd rightly serve time in state prisons. And nobody should feel sorry for them. But that's not the story here.

Still ... maybe the NRA really means what it says this time. It could happen. [more]

Posted by Claire @ 08:47 AM CST [Link]

GOVERNMENT AND MARRIAGE. Pretty good op-ed by Vox Day on marriage and the state Why the heck would anybody invite the government into their bedroom? Eeeeeew.

(Tks, Iron Man.)

Posted by Claire @ 08:32 AM CST [Link]

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