Sunday, January 14, 2018

Why Is No One Taking Trump's Question Seriously?

According to one Democrat, a group who's credibility has to be questioned at this point, President Trump uttered a vulgar remark about certain countries during a discussion about immigration.  But the question he asked has remained largely unanswered by those making the accusation.  Tom Trinko has the story in a blog post over at the American Thinker entitled Take A Step Back: Did Trump Really Even Say The S--- Word? Trinko writes what I have certainly been thinking all along:
Two leakers say he used the term "s---holes" to describe Haiti and African countries. However, the only person corroborating that as this is being written is a Democrat. Given that Harry Reid gleefully admitted to lying about Mitt Romney not paying taxes, it's not irrational to question that Democrat's veracity.
We also know that the leakers were willing to hurt the U.S. in order to gain a partisan political advantage. The leakers knew that whether they were telling the truth or not, it would hurt the U.S. and that didn't slow them down a bit. That indicates a lack of trustworthiness.
We further know that the leakers were wrong in that already Jake Tapper is saying Trump didn't attack Haiti in the way the leakers said Trump.
The real question, however, that nobody is addressing is why we are importing so many people who are unskilled, do not hold our Western values, and will not assimilate into American life and become productive members of society?  Trump's question is the question on the minds of many Americans. 
The reality is that Trump probably used coarse language to make a valid point: why are we letting people with no skills and whose allegiance is to their tribe, not their country in when we're keeping people with skills and whose allegiance is to the rule of law out?
In fact, we can easily imagine Trump describing countries like Somalia as hellholes. Interestingly, the use of "hellhole" – which is hardly less offensive than "s-hole" – to describe Haiti and Somalia is common; just check the internet. Apparently, only when Trump uses a pejorative to describe countries do the media go into a hissy fit.
Anyone who wouldn't say that Haiti and Somalia are hellholes is lacking in compassion. The people in Somalia and many other African countries live miserable lives, and pointing that out is hardly an act of evil. The real problem for the Democrats is that Trump is saying what most Americans believe: the role of immigration is to help America, not to help the rest of the world. If someone from Somalia has what it takes to be a good American, by all means, let him in, but that doesn't mean we should be taking pretty much anyone from Somalia while rejecting highly skilled people from Japan or Norway.
The fact of the matter is that what the Democrats (and thus the media as well) want is to import a dependent underclass who will vote for them. They care not a lick for poor black Americans, or for that matter, for the immigrants themselves. They want power, pure and simple. I do not know Senator Durbin, but based on his reputation, I would not believe him without independent confirmation, and even then I would look askance at it. What Durbin is trying to do is distract form the actual question Trump asked, and which is on the minds of many Americans. Shouldn't immigration be to help America rather than to help foreign countries?

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Firing the .38 Super

I have been fascinated with the .38 Super Automatic round for as long as I can remember, probably 40 or so years.  I finally got to fire a .38 super recently, and I want to tell you about it.

The .38 Super was a slightly more powerful version of the original .38 Automatic, around which the sainted John Moses Browning designed his automatic pistol of 1900 produced by Colt as the M1900.  You can find a history of the round here. Interestingly, after the development of the M1911 pistol for the Army, which fired the famed .45 Auto cartridge, it was discovered that a slightly more powerful round could be fired though the same weapon, if the barrel and chamber were modified for the different size cartridge and bullet.

The .38 Special of the era was a rather anemic round that was easily defeated by both automobile bodies and the body armor of the day.  But it was the round carried by most police officers.  Note that the .38 Super, with its .356 in diameter, 130 grain bullet is not related to the .38 Special, which fired a .357 in diameter, 158 grain bullet. The rather under powered .38 Special, however, caused people to look for a more powerful round.   Thus was born the .38 Super Automatic, the "Super" indicating that these rounds were loaded to a higher pressure, thus higher power that the .38 Special. For a few years in the early 1930s, the .38 Super Automatic was the most powerful handgun on the market. It could penetrate automobile bodies and the body armor of its day. But the introduction of the .357 Magnum cartridge and revolver to match ended police interest in the .38 Super round.

To be honest, the design of the original .38 Super pistols head spaced the cartridge on its rim rather than on the case mouth, which didn't contribute to accuracy.  Then there was the fact that a revolver would fire under the worst adverse conditions, whereas the automatics of the day were also somewhat unreliable "jamomatics."  A police officer, when he had to pull his weapon, wanted it to fire every time, and not choose that moment to jam and leave him vulnerable.  Even today, pistols, though heads and shoulders more reliable that their ancestors of 100 years ago, are still not quite as reliable as a revolver.   Even so, civilian interest in the round, and the weapon that fired it continued until after WWII.

Turning to the weapon itself, Iver Johnson was a maker of inexpensive firearms for the working man.  The Iver Johnson company started in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1871, and along with manufacturing firearms, made bicycles and motorcycles before returning to its roots as a maker of arms.  Iver Johnson pistols were used in the assassinations of President McKinley, and Robert Kennedy.   Why someone who wants to assassinate a major political figure always seems to choose an off brand  cheap gun to do the deed is incomprehensible to me, but there it is.

The old Iver Johnson company finally closed up shop in 1993,  Its name was sold to several people, but finally in  2006 the company reopened in Rockledge, Florida, now importing pistols from the Philippines.  The current crop of 1911 style pistols, including this one, are inexpensive compared to Kimber, Les Baer, Wilson Combat, Springfield Armory and others.  But if the finish is a bit sharp, the fit is excellent.  By "sharp" I mean that sharp edges have not been rounded off. Putting the safety on, one thinks it might cut a finger, but it does not.  But the slide is tight, and the gun does not rattle.   The safety transitions to "off" easily enough, but sometimes is a little stubborn returning to "on."  On the other hand, one should not be too anxious in combat to put the safety back on in case other bad guys are about.  Being hard chrome, the slide is very slick.  On firing, it shoots to point of aim.    Interestingly, the .38 Super remains a dominant pistol in IPSC competition, where race guns often dominate.  But the Super is also an accurate round, and carries 9 rounds in the magazine, as opposed to 7 for .45 Auto, for a total of 10 rounds as opposed to 8.  More rounds is always better. 

Firing the .38 Super is like firing a 9 mm Luger round from a 1911 style pistol.   They have very similar pressures and ballistics.  There is some recoil, but very manageable, and shooting one handed, as one does if one hand or arm is injured, is also quite pleasant.  After firing 100 rounds break in, I fired 50 rounds in a series of drills designed to enhance defensive shooting.  First up were 20 shots from the holster, to ready, to full extension and fire on obtaining a flash site picture.  Next were one handed, 5 each for each hand.  These were followed by 20 shots from the ready position.

Bottom line, I like the .38 Super round.  Now, if I could find a reliable source of ammunition.

Bondage of the Will

Today, at the American Thinker, Fay Voshell has an excellent piece entitled The Triumph Of the Will Reborn. She notes that the original movie, The Triumph of the Will by Leni Riefenstahl captured what was truly wrong with the NAZI movement, and therefore led to its downfall:
Riefenstahl's genius was not limited to technologically advanced camera work and exciting new photographic angles. Her brilliant cinematography, accompanied by heroically themed music, captured the hypnotic power of Nazi ideology, including its messianic hope that one man could, by the mere power of his will, completely re-order German society and, through it, re-order the entire world.
This is where so many get everything all wrong. They believe that because we can choose what to have for breakfast, what to wear to work, what route to take, and so on, that somehow our will can conquer anything. But while we have all the free will in the world to hang ourselves, we do not have the free will to get us into Heaven. No work can be so great to make us righteous in God's eyes. For even if we lived perfectly, and nobody does, we would only be meeting basic expectations.  This is why one man can not, by his will, restructure even his own life, let alone a whole nation or the world, into Utopia.
William Shirer, author of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, was later to comment on the intoxicating effect Nazi rallies had on the masses. He wrote that "every word dropped by Hitler seemed like an inspired word from on high. Man's – or at least the German's – critical faculty is swept away at such moments, and every lie pronounced is accepted as high truth itself." Hitler himself declared that the Nazi Party "will be unchangeable in its doctrine, hard as steel in its organization, supple and adaptable in its tactics. In its entity, however, it will be like a religious order[.]"
In Martin Luther's On Bondage of the Will, he explains it in theological terms. Too bad that Hitler was not a Christian, and especially not a Lutheran. for then he would have understood that it is only through the Saving Grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, that man can be reconciled to God, and it is only through Him that our works have any merit whatsoever.

But now, the fatal idea has been reborn with the fantastical idea that each individual can somehow reorder society to their own fantasies.  A person can be of the opposite sex, if desired, and all society must recognize that fact, and even celebrate it:
It is sadder to recognize the ideology that supported the Third Reich. Namely, the deeply flawed and essentially falsely religious idea that the power of the unfettered human will can restructure reality continues in the West, albeit in new forms.
The fact is that the belief in the triumph of the human will to power continues to be reformulated in today's identity politics. It exhibits itself in the belief that any human being can identify one's essential being as one wishes and in the idea that society must then be restructured to suit the perception and the will of the self-identified. To put it another way, fascistic messianism has been rerouted to individuals, including mere children, who supposedly have an infallible inner divine light that gives the right to identify the self and to reorder society to conform to one's chosen identity.
That such a pathology migrated to our shores and now is expressed by the American left, now hopefully in its death throes, is a testament to the so-called intellectual flaccidity in academia, including many of the nation's seminaries. Too often, orthodox theology concerning mankind as created imago Dei has been sidelined as a specialty with no particular relevance to modernity other than to fight old battles of the past, engage trivialities of the present, or provide a justificatory framework for new "progressive" ideals of modernism and postmodernism.
The new fascistic messianism now available to the masses repudiates both nature and revelation in order to embrace the lies of the ideologies of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, relying on fantasies that have been proved disastrous over and over again in all their multitudinous forms, be they the fantasy of the perfect Aryan or the perfect communist. The rebirth of the pernicious idea that any human being can redefine being and force the complete restructuring of society in order to reinforce the fantasies conjured in his brain at any given moment is disastrous.
The idea that man can reorder society, and in fact reality itself by sheer force of will is a lie, and lies lead to violence. As an example, let us take the global cooling/global warming/global climate change hoax. In the 1970s, experts told us if we didn't change our ways, we were going to drive the environment into another ice age. That didn't work. Then the decided to attempt a new tact, called global warming. Taking the kernal of truth that the earth did indeed warm a little during the period of rapid industrialization, coupled with a still improving stand of living for most Americans, they posited that the earth was warming because of our "destruction" of our planet and our environment. To a scientifically illiterate public, it made a sort of sense. But then actual scientists began exposing the lie. At first the warmists resorted to Alinsky style tactics such as ridiculing the opposing scientists. But as the evidence against global warming accumulated, and the evidence of their lies became more public, the resorted to the idea of prosecuting what they called "deniers" and putting these people in jail. Now I am not aware of Anthony Watts doing anything but publishing the truth and showing these hoaxers for the liars and fraudsters that they are, but they want to use violence (for that is what force is) to shut him and anyone like him up.

And there is the fatal flaw in the thinking that man can change reality by his own will.  Sooner or later one will encounter someone who insists on shouting the truth, who won't be shut up by Alinsky tactics and who continues to shout the truth.  Then the only thing one can do to maintain the illusion is to use force.  In the 20th Century, untold numbers were killed to maintain the illusions.  Maybe instead it is high time we rediscover:
That is because the sum of Truth resides not in the will of man, but in the mind and heart of God the Savior, who alone can free the individual from the tyranny of Self.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Stealing Our Money By Legal Fraud

The other day, our favorite weatherman Greg Fischel made a statement that surprised me.  He said that 2017 was heading to be the warmest year on record until the last 3 days of the year, when it became the second warmest. Actually, I did not find this year to be that warm.  I can remember years when the high temperature never got below 90 degrees all summer, whereas this year there were days below 90 degrees. Now I find that NASA is still adjusting data from past years as Randall Hoven updates NASA's Rubber Ruler.

 Hoven first wrote about NASA's adjustment of prior year data going back to 1880 in 2012, when he downloaded than current data from NASA's site into a spreadsheet. He recently downloaded the latest data to discover that they are still adjusting the old data that they had previously adjusted.
In 2012, I wrote an American Thinker article on the status of global warming at the time. I used the latest available NASA/GISS data to do that analysis, which was the version NASA had on its website on April 30, 2012 (Land-Ocean Temperature Index [LOTI]).
At that time, the data from 1880 through 2011 showed a warming trend of 0.59 degrees Celsius per century.
What is that warming trend using the latest data from NASA's website (December 30, 2017), using those same exact years (1880-2011)? The answer is 0.66˚ C.
How did warming accelerate if we are looking at the very same years?
How, indeed.  Hoven also makes the point that IF, and its a big "if" at this point, global warming is actually happening, then:

We need to answer four questions before we take real action to address man-caused, catastrophic global warming:
Is the globe getting warmer?
If so, is man doing it (or most of it)?
If so, is it bad? If so, is the massive-reductions-in-CO2 approach the best way to deal with it?
The temperature record does not even address the last three of these questions. Yet even that first, most basic, question is on shaky ground. One could say that warming is man-caused: men adjusted the temperature record.
Now, Hoven just wants to be able to study global warming for himself, but can no find any non-adjusted data. Me? I am concerned that if the global warming prescriptions are implemented, trillions of dollars will flow from you and me to people like Al Gore.  If they earned this money by providing a useful product that we all wanted to purchase, I would have no problem with this.  But they want to take our money from us by fraud.  I don't know about you, but to me this sounds like they are stealing my life.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Constitutionalists are not Conservatives

Robert Curry has an article today at the American Thinker entitled The Trouble With Conservatives that speaks to a problem I have wrestled with, but have not come up with an entirely satisfactory answer. The trouble with the term "conservative" is that it doesn't really express what we are. It meets William Buckley's idea of "standing athwart history yelling "Stop!"," but there is more to it than that.  Curry states that conservative embodies a state of mind, a way of being, that applies in principle do different people in different circumstances differently.  As Curry writes:
The classical liberalism of the American founders focused on reining in the powers of government. The purpose of the founders' design of the government was protecting our unalienable rights from encroachment by people in the government. Taking their cue from the German thinker GWF Hegel by way of Woodrow Wilson, the Progressives instead put their faith in the state. They rejected the idea of the American Republic root and branch. But the original Progressives understood the American people well enough to know that overthrowing the Republic by force and violence was out of the question. So they set out to overthrow it little by little, progressively.>
Probably every society and every time has its conservatives, with tenets specific to each society's traditions. For example, English conservatives today might want to preserve the monarchy, the Church of England as the established church, and the British aristocracy. In the same way, those Iranians who opposed the revolution that changed Iran from a monarchy to a radical Islamist theocracy or those Russians who long for the return of the Soviet Union are often referred to as "conservatives." However, to call them conservative is not to suggest that they hold similar political principles or that their political principles are similar to those of an American dedicated to the principles of the American Founders.
Exactly so. Our founding, and Constitutional order was born out of a successful revolution and an idea that the government that governs least, also governs best. The term "conservative" does not describe the people who want to return to living under such an idea. Do you know how unlikely a revolution is to succeed?  Oh, sure, the old order may be overthrown, but waiting in the wings are always those who seek to pounce upon a good idea and turn it to their own purposes. Look at France, and Russia. Look at the English revolution, for crying out loud. No, one must ascribe the outcome of the American Revolution to God's providence.

I have struggled with what to call ourselves.  Conservatives, we are not.  Oh. I will admit to a certain prudence in adopting new ideas.  I was not an early adopter of many of the electronic gizmos that we surround ourselves with today, but I did adopt them as they became part of the mainstream.  As a result, I don't have any old Betamax tapes.  This is known as "prudence."  And when I have violated the laws of proper prudence, I have always lost money.  Every time.  However. while I have that conservative tendency to hold back, to turn a new idea all around and look at it from its various angles, that is not the spirit that makes me want to return our government to its Constitutional roots.  For that, I think the term "Constitutionalist" applies.  I shall use that term from now on.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Principled Argument on Guns

Interestingly, it turns out that the rise in overall US murder rate for the year 2017 over 2016 was due to local factors. For example, New York, Los Angeles, and Washington DC were not in the news for their horrific murder rates this time, but Chicago was. It turns out that one third of the rise is attributable to just 5 Chicago neighborhoods in a 4 mile radius of West Garfield Park. You can read the entire post over at the American Thinker today at One Third of US homicide spike came from 5 Chicago neighborhoods, by Thomas Lifson.

Isn't Chicago a sanctuary city? Why, yes, I think it is. And hasn't Chicago resisted the issuing of concealed carry permits to law abiding people? Yes, I seem to remember that they did resist, though now it is theoretically possible to carry concealed in Chicago.  Here is an article by a "journalist" citing the "myths" that Chicago is not friendly to concealed carriers, and whining that nobody understands how tough it is to be an urban area.  Puhlease!

However, all of this is just to use a utilitarian approach to whether we can defend ourselves or not.  The problem with the utilitarian argument is that it makes the criminal element the arbiter of the rights the law abiding have. If crime goes up, even if it has nothing to do with the law abiding, to the utilitarian it shows that the law abiding must give up their guns for the sake of lowering crime. But this never lowers crime because the criminals never give up their guns.  And since the utilitarian argument is being used in support of gun grabbers, even if the crime rate goes down, guns will never be allowed again.

The utilitarian argument goes something like this: as long as the as the homicide rate is below a certain figure (which the gun grabbers are loathe to reveal) you can have your guns, but if it goes above a certain number, we must take your guns away, for your own good of course. Notice the smug sense of superiority of that statement. We know better that you, and we have a natural right to tell you how to live your life. Keep in mind that the law abiding people who lived there did not invite the criminal gangs into their neighborhoods. Many people have to provide services to the people who live in these precincts.  Is the telephone or electrical lineman supposed to take the risk the police will not?  Is a single mom trying to raise her kids right supposed to just hope that her kids will not be killed in a crossfire between rival gangbangers?

Keep in mind too that the police are almost never around when a crime is being committed, so that the true first responder is the person being assaulted. If that is you, don't you think you have a right to defend yourself? Don't you want the most effective tool with which to do it on your person?  Do you believe that someone who is not in your situation, who has no responsibility for your life or those of your loved ones can tell you what you may do to save it?

The other approach is to argue on the basis of principles, derived from the natural law.  The Second Amendment is such a law.  You may have a gun for any lawful purpose, which includes self defense, defense of others, defense of the state, hunting, target practice, and so on.  You may own them so long as you do not use them to commit a crime with them.  At that point, you give up your right to own guns, but not until then.

I appreciate Thomas Lifson bringing this to our attention.  It shows once again that the principled approach is the correct approach when properly looked upon.  However, the only legitimate argument is the one from principle.  No one has the right to play God with other peoples lives, for no one is more moral, more upright, that anyone else.  And to have people who have access to armed security forces declaring the law for poor people who can not afford such security is the height of hypocrisy. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Uniqueness of the Second Amendment

Sam Bocetta has an article today over at the American Thinker that asks the question  Is the Second Amendment Unique? Of course, the answer to that question s a qualified "yes," but for those who want to find out more, read on.

Before going on, however, allow me to talk a bit about those who see the 2nd Amendment as the palladium of rights versus those who believe the 2nd Amendment has outgrown its usefulness.  The framers of the Constitution were scholars of history, of the Bible, and of the law, and had a wide understanding of the human condition.  One thing they believed was that the nature of man has never changed since he first walked on the earth.  Jonah Goldberg has often cited this quality with the phrase "human nature has no history."  They also subscribed to the Augustinian belief that man is a fallen creature; in other words that man is sinful in everything he does.  These twin beliefs, along with the writings of John Locke and others who had built up Western philosophy and religious thought eventually resulted in a Constitution of limited government in which the various parts of government were seen to compete with each other for power, leaving the individual largely alone.  Little noticed, but equally important is that man's nature can not change.  If one truly looks at his own motives for doing anything, he will see that nothing he does, even the good things, is done without personal gain in there somewhere.  Today we call such people "conservative."  For them, the 2nd Amendment will always be relevant.

But what if you don't particularly believe in God as understood by the Western tradition, what then?  You might come to believe that man can change if you incentivize him enough.  You might believe that you can create the conditions for heaven on earth, where the lamb lies down lion, where swords are beaten into plowshares, and where man doesn't learn war any more.  In other words, Utopia (meaning nowhere),  The belief that they can change human nature causes people with this belief to do all sorts of tragic and comic things to effectuate a change that never happens.  If only they elect the "right" person, or inscribe the right magic incantation into law, people will become enlightened and see the error of their ways.  They always are disappointed.  Such people, who have worked under various banners: Marxists, Communists, Fascists, Socialists, Progressives, Liberals, Leftists and probably some I have missed, tend to speak a different language, and if you are sensitive to it, you begin to hear the lie in everything.  For instance, whereas conservatives talk about the "people" meaning individuals with different lives, different situations, and different things they where find success in life, the Collectivists talk about the "masses."  The difference is that "masses" implies a collection of identical widgets in a grand organic machine, each of which has the same ambitions, desires, and goals, and each can be treated with a one size fits all solution.  For these people, the belief in the perfectibility of man means that the 2nd Amendment has now, or will eventually, outlive its purpose.

So, is the Second Amendment unique? 

Given the context in which the constitution was written -- that of a new country keen to free itself from the clutches of an overbearing English tyranny -- it is strange that the Second Amendment is actually based on English law. Specifically, the English Bill of Rights of 1689 codified what was regarded as a natural right to self-defense. This bill essentially limited the power of the English king to disarm his subjects, after Charles II had tried to disarm Protestants, whom he viewed as a threat to his power.
Interestingly, the same debate that rumbles on today about the importance of a “well-regulated militia” dates back to this time. In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the question of whether English Bill of Rights created a new right, or merely codified an existing one, was tackled. The Supreme Court found that the English right at the time of the passing of the English Bill of Rights was "clearly an individual right, having nothing whatsoever to do with service in the militia," and therefore predated the bill.
In any case, by the time the Second Amendment was passed in 1791, the understanding of the earlier bill had developed. Before the U.S. became independent, the American colonies had an approach to firearms regulation that had been inherited from English Common Law. By 18th-century England, for example, armed travel had been limited to a few well-defined occasions such as assisting justices of the peace and constables. Members of the upper classes also had a limited exception to travel with arms. What we would now consider standard concealed carry was even more restricted back then, and the city of London banned public carry of handguns entirely.
In short, the Second Amendment developed from English common law, and is therefore not unique in a historical context. However, the fact that the amendment appears in a constitution, and can therefore not be watered down by successive legislation, means that it has slowly become unique as the laws it was based on were themselves changed.
The Constitution of the United States of America was unique in its day, and remains unique even now. We are losing our rights not because the Constitution has changed, but because the courts have illegally and lawlessly "reinterpreted" it to say things it does not say. Worse, our politicians today see themselves as a uniparty of elites who basically agree with the courts. They do not trust us. And if they do not trust us, one wonders if we should trust them? Our Second Amendment is unique and precious. The elites would have taken over long ago except for the deterrent it provides. We must not let it be watered down by progressively more restrictive interpretations. To do so is a mistake we only get to make once.