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.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

While we have a Fighter in the Whitehouse...

A bevy of  "NeverTrumpers" have been writing that the defeat of Roy Moore by his decidedly left of center rival Doug Jones was a "win" for Republicans.  If so, Paul Gottfried thinks it was An Empty Conservative Victory. I agree.

First, there is doubt about most of his accusers, for which the most that can be said is that Moore's behavior indicates a somewhat immature man for age 30. What does a 30 year old man talk about with an unworldly juvenile child?  And yet some May-December romances have been truly loving.  I don't mean here to defend Judge Moore, but to say that most of these accusations have to be looked at with a high degree of skepticism.  And whenever Gloria Allred gets involved, my bullshit meter pegs out.  Why lie if  what you are trying to sell is the truth?

Second, is there any doubt that Doug Jones will  act to obstruct Trump's agenda?  Is not the Trump agenda also our agenda in many cases?  Has not Trump so far kept many of his campaign promises to conservatives?  Trump was not my first choice, any more that Moore would have been had I been an Alabamian, but I believe in voting for the most conservative candidate that can win, and that came down to Roy Moore.

Third, whatvever Moore lacks in savvy messaging, the fundamental fact is he is often correct on principle.  Placing the 10 Commandments in the court house established no religion, but did indicated the philosophical foundations of American law.  The gay agenda to have everyone acknowledge gayness as being somehow acceptable is wrong headed.  A gay couple will never be able to reproduce itself, thus ensuring that gays remain a tiny percentage of the population.  It is also morally wrong.  To state the obvious here does not indicate that you must actively discriminate against gays, nor does it indicate hatred of gays.   
But let’s be honest about the claim that the non-Left somehow dodged the bullet when a liberal Democrat was elected to the U.S. Senate in what had been a deep Red State. Does anyone in his right mind believe that Jones will not act as Trump said he would, as a tool of Chuck Schumer and those leftist constituencies that helped put him in office? And what about the laughable prediction made by Bret Baier and various Fox-Allstars that Jones would be a “centrist Democrat” in the tradition of West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp. Haven’t those who predicted this bothered to notice that their “centrist Democrats” have voted on every key issue against the President, on the side of Chuck Schumer?
Am I supposed to believe, moreover, that the attacks on Republicans by the Democrats as sexual predators will now stop because, according to National Review, we had a “conservative victory” in the Alabama election? The day after Moore was defeated, that longtime lackey of a highly probable sexual predator Bill Clinton, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, demanded that Trump resign, on the grounds that he harassed multiple women before he became president. Please note that Senator Gillibrand belongs to a self-described “feminist” party that has been led by such notorious womanizers and possible rapists as the “Lion of the Senate” Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton. Further, the Democratic Party abounds in office-holders who have benefited from the largess of perhaps the most notorious sexual predator in Hollywood, Harvey Weinstein.
Of course, I doubt that the attacks unleashed on Moore by Republicans, like Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and the editors of National Review and Weekly Standard, were entirely about Moore’s behavior forty years ago. The fact is he’s just too conservative on social issues to please those who would like to change certain conversations. Roy Moore is not at all happy with gay marriage and as a judge refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, as David French reminds us in a fit of outrage, in violation of the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v Hodges Decision. If memory serves, I recall the support from conservative Republicans last year that went to Kentucky Justice of the Peace Kim Davis when she refused to issue licenses for gay marriages. At the time Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and other Republican politicians hurried to Davis’s defense, as a Christian exercising her religious freedom. Why is the failure of Judge Moore to recognize what he sees as a bizarre and sinful travesty on traditional marriage a danger to constitutional government, which is what French contends it is? That Moore refuses to go along with a Supreme Court ruling that he and I (and lots of other Americans) found to be absurd and against his religious conscience would hardly make him a menace in the U.S. Senate. Would French, who wears his antiracism on his sleeve, have accepted the Dred Scott decision in 1857, which denied that slaves who were brought into non-slave states became free because of their relocation?
As a Christian who is a member of a congregation of the  Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, I have been reading the Hallmarks of Lutheran Identity by Alvin J. Schmidt.  One of the chapters in this book discusses Luther's theology of the two kingdoms.  The one kingdom is the Kingdom of Grace.  This is the Kingdom of God in which, as the Prophet writes:
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
But that is not the kingdom we living in today. Luther recognizes that the Kingdom of the world is thoroughly sinful and depraved.  No act of man (or woman) should shock us, because we are by nature sinful creatures who, but for God's grace, would be condemned to the pit.  In this world, sometimes we must choose the least bad as better than the worst.  We can not always have our pure principles, any more than we can have our pure doctrine.  Sometimes we must fight, and while we have a fighter in the White House, it seems like a good time to do just that.  Saving our country for our children seems like a good idea, don't you think?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Next year in Jerusalem

Daniel Greenfield is also known as "Sultan Knish" and he blogs under that title.  Greenfield often writes warnings about the dangers of letting so many Muslims into our nation.  In this piece, he underscores that in our war with Islam that exists, whether we wish to acknowledge that we are at war or not, President Trump has struck another brilliant blow.  Greenfield's article is titled What the War Over Jerusalem Is Really All About. In it, Greenfield points out that:
It’s not about a “piece of land here or there”, as the PA’s top Sharia judge clarifies, it’s a religious war. And Israel is not just a religious war between Muslims and Jews, but a shifting frontier in the larger war between Islam and the rest of the world. It’s another territory to be conquered on the way to Europe. And Europe is another territory to be conquered on the way to America.
The declaration by President Trump is not so much for the Israelis. Israelis know where their capitol is. It is more about showing that we are not going to be governed by what Muslims think. In acceding to their demands, previous presidents have to be seen in Muslim eyes as having submitted to Islam, thus proving Islam's supremacy. By defying that outlook, President Trump has struck a blow to their self image as supreme.
Jerusalem is a metaphor. Every free country has its own Jerusalem. In America, it’s the First Amendment. Our Jerusalem is not just a piece of land, it’s a value. And the Islamic Jihad seeks to intimidate us into giving it up until, as the Hadith states, we abandon our religion for Islam.
Moving the embassy to Jerusalem will do much more for America than it will for Israel.
I would say that Jerusalem is more than mere metaphor. It is spiritual. Jerusalem was to be God's shining city on the hill, and on the last day God will give us a new Jerusalem, which will really be that shining city on the hill, and where we will all finally be at peace. I disagree only that in that it is not only our First Amendment, but our entire Constitution, rightly serving as our guiding document, not something that some use for toilet paper. But I digress. Everyone seeming looks to his or her own version of a shining city on a hill where fallen man. living in the muck and mire, will someday live in righteousness and purity. In that sense, moving our embassy to Jerusalem was the right move.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Out of the mouth of babes!

There exists a moral difference between righteous violence in defense of the innocent and malicious violence if furtherance of selfish claims.  There exists a moral difference between self defense and the defense of one's family, and the aggressive violence of an attack.  My parents taught that there was no difference between the two, that all violence is morally repugnant, and used Jesus's saying that those who live by the sword will die by it as proof.  But carrying a weapon, and being prepared to use it in defense of yourself and your family is not "living by the sword."  I saw this fact then, and I still see the distinction today.

To accept whatever some thug wants to mete out to you is the essence of pacifism.  It is to admit that the strongest and the most ruthless thug among us will make the rules to suit themselves, and the rest of us will have to live with those rules no matter how unjust. I do not think that is the kind of world we should want, or accept.  As adults, we may have our sense of right and wrong beaten out of us.  We may believe that indeed children are traumatized by violence, but then one finds a story to remind you it is not true.

Don Cicchetti, writing at the American Thinker today tells a powerful story of an incident that happened to his the 7 year old daughter and himself that shows how children actually deal with thoughts of violence.  Cicchetti's piece can be found at What Being a Dad With a Gun Taught My Daughter. Go read the whole thing before you read the following. I wouldn't want to spoil the ending for you.

Read it?  Good.  Now you may continue:
So I went back in the house and got Sam and my nice Ruger 9mm, and we sat down on the floor of the kitchen, because that's the place with the most walls between us and the outside world, which could be filled with bullets and anger at any moment.
While waiting, she asked me: "Daddy, what if the robber gets in our house?"
"Well, he would have to get past all those cops, and they all have guns, huh?"
"Yeah." She smiled for a moment but then got serious again. "What if he gets past the cops somehow?"
"Well, he would have to get past the bars on the windows, huh?"
"What if he breaks the bars and gets in the house?"
"Well honey, what do you think will happen then?"
"You'll shoot him!"
"That's right." And then a peaceful smile came across her face, and we waited for the all-clear sign. Turns out the miscreant was not in our yard after all, but I was proud of the aggressiveness and professionalism of the local LEOs. I hope they got the guy.
Out of the mouth of babes!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Embassy Moving To Jerusalem

President Trump is set to announce tomorrow that he is moving the U. S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, Israel.  Katie Pavlich has the scoop over at

No doubt this will throw the Arabs and Muslims into turmoil.  Indeed, anything seems to, as these people seem to be perpetually offended at the very existence of Jews and Christians.  Therefore I have never felt that the taking of offence by these people should be a reason not to move the embassy to Jerusalem.  And while I don't think the President is a very pious Christian, it certainly shows our support for Israel, and we all hope that eventually all Israel will come to Christianity in God's time.  We can also hope that the Muslims will do the same, but I am not holding my breath.

This day, we should all pray for President Trump.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

A Gripe: Lookyloos

I end up driving a lot, and one of the things I see constantly is the aftermath of fender bender accidents on the road.  One  of the great annoyances is that these seemingly ubiquitous  situations seem to always back up traffic for miles on end.  Recently coming out of Charlotte, my wife and I encountered a 2 mile back up that took an hour to get through.  Yesterday, a similar back up occurred on I-40.

It seems that each and everyone who passes the site of an accident has to look long and hard at the aftermath.  I call these idiots "lookyloos."  Lookyloos seemingly stop, backing every one else behind them. and stare for a few moments.  No doubt they wring their hands and tut tut, but what value are the adding?  They didn't witness the accident themselves.  They can not do anything for the unfortunates involved.  All they can do is cause more trouble by backing up the traffic.

Now, I am as sensitive and as empathetic as the next guy, but I have to think: " What if a doctor is trying to get to the hospital to perform an emergency operation?  What if a patient dies because the doctor could not get there in time due to these lookyloos?" Lookyloos seem to have a pathological need to show they care by stopping and looking at every tragedy that happens around them even though it doesn't involve them and even though they will just get in the way of anyone who might be able to actually help.

Lookyloos, stop it.  Next time think before stopping.  In all probability, the most useful thing you can do is the keep moving on.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Perhaps a Little Skepticism Is In Order?

Living in the same house with a feminist, who believes that the ONLY reason girls prefer to play with dolls is because that is how they are raised, I often find myself in hot water.  In other words she believes in nurture, not nature.  Of course, when she needs to, she is perfectly capable of playing the "but I'm just a girl" card, so there is that.

I have given up trying to explain that men, on average, are better at mathematics and science than women on average. But that "on average" is important because is says nothing about an individual person. I have known mathematical geniuses who are women. I have known more than my share of men who were mathematical dunderheads as well. Women on average are more drawn to become nurses, probably because it fits with their natural feelings of nurturing. But I know male nurses, and these guys aren't pansies. The point is that there are differences between men and women besides their plumbing, and those differences probably allowed us to survive long enough to be having these discussions today.

Whatever our philosophical disagreements, we both agree that women can be as ruthless, and predatory as can men.  So it was interesting to read Fay Voshell's piece today at American Thinker entitled Both Men and Women Can Be Sexual Predators. Voshell, coming from a Christian tradition notes that God makes no distinctions between men and women here. As St. Paul says, all have fallen short and deserve to die. But we are all, as she notes, redeemable.   What Voshell is arguing for is the same skepticism we give to those who commit other crimes. 
Maybe there is a little room for realistic cynicism.
As Angelo Codevilla recently pointed out, “Men, but mostly women, have been trading erotic services for access to power since time began.” As he observed sexual power plays during his eight years on the Senate staff, “Access to power, or status, or the appearance thereof was on one side, sex on the other. Innocence was the one quality entirely absent on all sides.”
Codevilla’s point is that all sexual transgression, including bargaining and power mongering, is held to be entirely the fault of men. But not all can be blamed on what radical feminists see as an inherently detestable and predatory patriarchy.
Women can be just as predatory as men, sexually and otherwise. Though assigned invisibility by most contemporary feminists who have a vested interest in the myth of women as always and forever victims of men, Phyllis Chesler and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, both cool-headed analysts, have shown that women can be as cruel and heartlessly manipulative toward men and other women as men can be toward women and other men.
Matt Lauer is the latest to be summarily fired based on being merely accused. NBC can, of course, do what it wants. Is Matt Lauer a cad? I don't know. And now I hear that Garrison Keillor has been fired as well. Both men were leftist, so one is tempted to allow oneself a moment of schadenfreude, but Christ's admonition is to pray for those who persecute you. Perhaps before these men are tried and found guilty in the kangaroo court of public opinion, some healthy skepticism is in order?

House Passes Concealed Carry Reciprocity Out of Committee

According to an e-mail alert from Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America, Concealed Carry Reciprocity has passed the House committee had now heads to the floor for a vote of the full House of Representatives.  That's the good news.  The bad news is they also passed along an NICS Fix bill.  Pratt estimates that Concealed Carry Reciprocity is a bigger deal that the NICS Fix, so overall good news.

The House is likely to pass both bills.  But Concealed Carry Reciprocity is unlikely to pass in the Senate, which members of the House know.  So this may be just window dressing to keep gun owners in their pocket.  Time will tell.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Are Mass Murders Uniquely American?

I noticed this post from Clayton Cramer over at Of Arms and the Law on Sunday, but have not had time until now to post it here. I used to read Clayton Camer all the time, but sadly of late I have not been as wide ranging due to limited time to do so. Cramer has an interesting take on the whole problem of mass murder when he asks Is Mass Murder Exceptionally American?

Cramer points out that none other than Barack Hussein Obama claimed that mass shootings and mass murder doesn't happen elsewhere in the world.  He implied that we Americans are particularly bloodthirsty, and therefore need to have our guns taken away by our betters.  But is that really the case?
The recent tragedies in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas, are causing many Americans to wonder, “Is this kind of mass murder peculiarly American?”
The facts suggest otherwise.
There is nothing exceptionally American about mass murder or even firearms mass murder —even though some of the rhetoric accompanying these tragic events portrays the U.S. as singularly plagued by them.
After defining what is meant by the term "mass murder" and clearly excluding the genocides of the 20th Century committed by governments against their own people, Cramer goes on to document a number of mass killings that have taken place around the world. Moreover, he shows that even in places with gun control of the sort the gun grabbers so want to do in our country, that mass murders with firearms still occur. But the other thing that comes to light is that if a person has murder in their heart, anything can be turned into a weapon: vehicles, knives, clubs, it really doesn't matter.

The gun grabbers are generally aware of these statistics as well.  They know their arguments will not stand up to the facts.  So what is their motive?  Frankly, I believe the Left wants to take away the guns from the average citizen in order to gain a monopoly of force that will allow them to dictate their desires on this great country.  Sure, we could protest, but they don't have to listen.  Everything would then be like Obamacare where they imposed it over our protests, and even continue to keep it even after we elected a new government.  The Second Amendment is the only real threat the people have!  And then only if we are willing to use it. We may not yet be willing to use the Second Amendment, but as my last post makes clear, it is inevitable unless something changes.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Can This Country Remain Together?

I have noticed with growing concern the many people on both sides of the aisle who are endorsing the current version of further infringements to our right to bear arms. Let me note that the current push to put more information on more people into the National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS) is a further infringement of the right to bear arms.  The NICS itself is an infringement because it is a prior restraint on a right.  It is the same as if before I could publish this blog post it had to be approved by  someone from the government, who would demand that I prove to his satisfaction that the blog post contained nothing false.  "But a blog post can't kill anyone," you say.  If the ideas in that blog post become popular enough, they can start a revolution, which could kill many.  So, yes, the First Amendment protections carry the same weight as the Second Amendment protections.

Of course, prior restraints on First Amendment rights would never by tolerated, or would they?  As I write this, the Supreme Court is considering two cases involving our First Amendment rights to freedom of religious expression. But make no mistake that the constant drum beat for political correctness is also an attempt to get you to self censor yourself to conform to the dictates of the Left. So, it was with some sense of despair that I read John Hawkins post of November 18, 2017 a entitled Do Conservatives and Liberals Have Enough in Common To Keep a Country Together Anymore? After some explanation of his position, Hawkins comes to the heart of the matter:
Recently, a Republican group in North Carolina asked me to come out and speak. After my speech, there was a Q&A session and someone there asked me, “Is it time for people who love their country to get their guns, head to D.C. and do something about what’s happening in our country?”
Just to be clear, he wasn’t advocating a terrorist attack or a random shooting; he was asking if it is time for patriots who love this country to attempt to overthrow the government to help bring our nation back to Constitutional governance.
What DIDN’T happen is worth noting. Nobody laughed. Nobody shouted, “Oh, come on!” Nobody said, “Oh, that’s just crazy, Dave. You’ll have to excuse him and his wild questions.” Instead, people sat quietly and listened for my response.
This should unsettle you if you are a patriot, and if you are a Leftist, it should be frightening. The fact that people instead of feeling bullied, believe that their patience is being tested beyond the breaking point should be disturbing to the Left. I agree with Hawkins that the ground work has not been done. We need a formal documentation of our grievances, but no doubt many will feel that the blocking of Trump agenda and the attempt to impeach a duly elected President would be enough.
The longer version of what I told him is that he’s right to be concerned about the country and that, yes, it is entirely possible we won’t hold together long term. What happens when we – almost inevitably at this point – have a debt-driven economic crash which causes Social Security and Medicare to be gutted? Other than wanting to get those checks, what do we have holding us together anymore? Eating lunch at McDonald’s? Watching The Walking Dead? NFL games….oh wait, sorry. We don’t even have that anymore.
We have broken bonds as a nation before: first, with the British, then during the Civil War. Regrettably, we may be headed toward another break down the road. That’s not something anyone should welcome, but when large percentages of the population are forced to live under grating rules they disagree with in the strongest of terms, paid for with increasingly large amounts of tax money they didn’t want to give up and implemented by people they don’t like, respect or feel bound to as a people, no wise person should assume that will continue indefinitely.
I can not help but mourn the loss of a great if flawed nation. I urge everyone to pray for our nation, and ask for guidance to do the right thing.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Godless Atheism and the Texas Church Murders

Selwyn Duke says what I have been trying to say relative to the Sutherland church shooting, only Duke says it better, and more clearly than I have managed to say it. Duke's article is at the American Thinker today and is entitled Godless Atheism and the Texas Church Shooter. Duke writes:
“If God does not exist, everything is permitted,” wrote Fyodor Dostoevsky in The Brothers Karamazov. Mentioning this in association with Devin Patrick Kelley, the militant atheist who last Sunday perpetrated the worst church shooting in U.S. history, is bound to raises hackles. Of course, few atheists will descend into committing murder; in fact, I’ve known some I’d call “good people.” Moreover, note that I myself once not only didn’t believe in God, but like Kelley thought religious people were “stupid.” Yet is it possible a straight line can be drawn between atheism (the belief) and increasing crime and immorality? Ideas do have consequences, after all.
Duke's point here is that unless we rely on a higher power than we men and women, everything becomes matters of preference. We can dress it up with pretty words, but at the bottom, that is what it means, and Dostoevsky is correct that everything is permitted. The idea that there are actions that are moral and those that are not, indeed to even discuss values, becomes a matter of consensus based on human preference.
This brings us to the true meaning of “You can’t be moral without God”: If divine law isn’t real, no one can be “moral” because you cannot conform to a non-existent standard. “Moral” is as incomprehensible a term in a universe without Truth as “physical” would be in one without matter. So, if God doesn’t exist, neither atheists nor theists can be moral — only in or out of fashion.
The reality, my atheist friends should note, is that embracing any moral is a matter of faith. We cannot see a moral under a microscope or a principle in a Petri dish. Science cannot prove murder (or anything else) is wrong — only possible. For science merely tells us what we can do, not what we should.
People generally don’t come to terms with these implications of atheism because most don’t take their world view to its logical conclusion; many also wouldn’t want to, for it means staring true meaninglessness in the face. It means that all the causes moderns fill their lives with are mere vanity. Tolerance can’t be better than intolerance, love better than hate, or respect for life better than murder in a godless, Moral-Truth-bereft world.
For me, I have been where these people are, as Duke says he was too. It was the realization of the ultimate meaninglessness of everything, the sense that there is nothing, that our lives mean nothing, and go nowhere, that caused me to keep seeking.  Looking into the abyss I took Pascal up on his wager.  The road of faith before seemed weak, turns out ti be the greatest of strengths.  To place oneself in the hands of a being we can neither see, nor understand, but rely on him to make it right, actually takes guts and strength. And once I began to have faith, I could see that I had really been running on nothing but faith all along.

So what does this have to do with the Texas shooter?  What does this have to do with gun control?  Just this, if you believe that man is truly the measure of all things, and that there is no moral truth, only men's preferences, then our right to self defense is not a God given, pre-existing right that can not be infringed (morally) but is a privilege once granted to our people at some previous time in history,   It has no meaning in today's world.  Also if you believe this way, then Government is indeed the only thing that can civilize an otherwise barbaric people.  Unfortunately, the government cannot be everywhere, and prosecutors cannot bring even an approximation of true justice, if one can say that such exists.

What the framers intended, was that we would be largely self governing.  The laws would be based on Christian teachings and the moral law.  Government, in this scenario, would necessarily be limited.  The people would have a right to arms as a way to keep government in check because, as every Christian knows, we are all poor miserable sinners, in need of the saving Grace of Jesus Christ.  Under this system,  there is no need for the police to be everywhere, no need for prosecutors to provide perfect justice, because God provides the ultimate justice.  Note that murder would be rare because to kill another human being, is to kill an image of God.

What I am saying is that there is no need for gun control, and in any case, it would be ineffective if the reason is to eliminate peoples ability to murder each other.  More people are killed with other instruments and tools.  On the other hand, if it is to put a totalitarian system in place, which I believe to be the real reason, it will not have an effect.  I know the power the elites think they will get by forcing all of us to live as they think we should.  But it is an illusion, and illusive.  Too late they will realize the emptiness of their lives.  Meanwhile, if there are 300 million guns in America, only one of those guns actually was used to murdered 26 people and injured 20 others.  The other 299,999,999 guns did not do anything. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Too many laws

Clark Neily over at asks If the Law is This Complicated, Why shouldn't Ignorance Be an Excuse? It is a fact that the average person can no longer know what the law is, and even lawyers do not really know all the law. Neily:
"Because I said so.” “Life isn’t fair.” “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” These are some of the great cop-outs of all time, and the last one is particularly troubling in a country with so many laws that it is impossible to count—let alone read—them all. When was the last time you sat down with a complete set of the federal, state, and local codes setting forth the tens of thousands of criminal violations for which you could be sent to jail? If you answered “never,” you’re in good company. Nevertheless, America’s judges still cling to the proposition that it’s perfectly fine to lock people up for doing something they had no idea was illegal. But it’s not fine, and the justifications for that palpably unfair rule have only grown more threadbare with time.
Things have gotten so bad that even an act as innocent as sharing a Netflix password or a bank website password with a family member could potentially carry criminal penalties if the website disallows password sharing. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 bans intentionally accessing a computer “without authorization,” and the Supreme Court has recently declined to hear a case from the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, United States v. Nosal, that held that password sharing could be prohibited by the Act. Although the majority opinion did not explicitly mention innocent password sharing, the dissent noted that the lack of any limiting principle meant that the majority’s reasoning could easily be used to criminalize a host of innocent conduct.
Emphasis is mine.  Nosal, for instance, was engaging in shady, unethical behavior if not outright fraud.  But there appears no provision for, as Neily notes, sharing a Netflix password with a family member.  Neily goes on to note that there are estimated to be 4000 Federal crimes, and 300,000 Regulations that carry the effect of law enforcing fines and jail time on the unfortunate who get caught up in them.  Then there are the State and local laws, ordinances, and rules that can further trip a person up.

One of the problems is the increasing number of laws prohibiting morally blameless activity that nobody would naturally think would be a criminal act.   For example, picking up a feather you find on the forest floor while out hiking:
Moreover, as noted, the increasing criminalization of morally blameless conduct makes the punishment of innocent mistakes even more likely. For example, federal law makes it illegal to possess the feather of any native migratory bird even if one just picks it up off the ground, and the potential penalties for doing so include fines and even time in prison. Think federal prosecutors would exercise their discretion to prevent miscarriages of justice under such obscure laws? Think again. Contrary examples are as numerous as they are horrifying.
Neily goes on to cite a number of examples. But we have seen other examples of the overcriminalization of the law before. Back in 2011 a Missouri family faced a $4 million fine for selling more than $500 worth of bunnies in a year. The Dollarwhite family didn't abuse their rabbits, and kept them exceptionally clean and well cared for. Apparently the Dollarwhites did not know about the obscure requirement to obtain a license when they sell to another for resale.  The license is to ensure that they are not abusing their rabbits.  But why didn't the USDA merely inform them of this "paperwork violation" and help them get licensed?  In my opinion the reasons for putting this family through hell can only be because of malice on the government's part.  And in the end, the Dollarwhite family did not do their due diligence by hiring an attorney and paying him to find out all the laws rules and regulations pertaining to the practice of rabbitry. 

But this gets to the heart of the problem, doesn't it?  If one has to consult an attorney before taking any action, knowing that one could be liable even if your attorney thinks you are allowed to do it, maybe the law has become to complicated.  Maybe its time to clip the wings of the regulators, and maybe its time to force our Congress to do its real job, and legislate sensible laws that we can all live with. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The problem with gun violence is people, not guns

Another shooting, this time in Sutherland Springs, Texas on Sunday at a church service.  Someone who should not have been able to buy a gun somehow slipped right passed the eagle eye of the NICS system run by those super sleuths of the FBI, and bought a gun from a gun store. He violated laws against murder, against felon in possession of a gun, and lying on 4473 form.  So the existing laws clearly did not stop him from murdering 26 people, and injuring 20 others.  And guess what?  The proposed laws won't stop the next guy either.  Why?  We'll get to that below.  First I want you to go to the American Thinker, and check out the article by Daniel John Sobieski entitled When Jeanne Assam's Gun Stopped a Church Massacre.

Sobieski's point is that only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun. It is a hard fact, one that can only be ignored, but who's truth can not be denied. Only when confronted by someone else with a gun do these people finally stop, either shot by the good guy with a gun, or by suicide, or rarely by surrendering.  Guns are not inherently evil in and of themselves.  I have yet to see one jump up of its own volition and begin shooting up the place.  They also have no power to turn an otherwise good guy into a bad guy.  A gun does not, like some movie scene suddenly start calling out to the person in possession of it "Come use me to shoot a bunch of people in a church."  There is no evil spirit in the gun.  Guns are also not magic talismans, instantly shooting down people without aiming as in movies.  No, a gun must be trained with and the skills one develops are perishable.

Interestingly, gun violence has gone down as the number of guns has grown.  It is as if John Lott was right all along.  Today you are less likely to be killed by gun fire that at any time since the 1960s.  By the way, you are approximately twice as likely to be killed in a traffic accident as with a gun.  But what has increased is the number of mass shootings.  Glenn Beck speculated yesterday that the increasing number of mass shootings may have to do with  way the media seems to lionize these people.  In any case I have made a policy  of not including the name of the shooter in any of my recent posts.

One of the interesting things about mass killings is that most have occurred in legally defined gun free zones.  Schools, shopping malls with no gun signs, theaters with no gun signs, churches, government offices and so on.  To me this speaks of the killers deliberately planning to kill as many people as possible without having anyone else armed with equivalent force.  In other words, evil intent.  Which leads me to the idea that it is not the guns that are the problem to be solved, but rather the people wielding them.

The solution for guns in general, and mass shootings in particular lies with a recognition  that the world is a morally ambiguous place, at best.  People with evil intent are everywhere, and even those with the best of intentions often do evil anyway.  The idea that the police can be everywhere and stop every bad thing from happening is an illusion.  Police can not be everywhere all the time.  And even if they could, the police are not angels, but composed of the very same people that inhabit the rest of the world.  Whether you attribute the evil that stalks the world to the devil or to man's perversion, the fact remains that it is the people themselves that must be dealt with, not the instrumentality.  How does it help to leave even more victims defenseless in even more locations?  What is needed is more responsible people with guns in more places to be able to quickly respond with a gunman decides to do evil things.     

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Our Country is Under Siege

Today, David Soloway asks at the American Thinker Is Islamic Reform Possible?. He then answers with a resounding "No!" He goes on to suggest things we can do to limit the damage. I agree with most of Soloway's article, and most of his policy prescriptions. The one bone I have to pick is his insistence on calling Islam a "faith." Islam is not a faith, and nowhere in the Koran is there a requirement that its adherents had to demonstrate "faith." Rather, Islam demands obedience. If you do the various duties required of a proper Muslim, you are golden. What you believe or think is of no importance. If you can justify something legalistically, then you are allowed to do it, no matter how perverse.

This is in sharp contrast with Christianity, where what you believe in your heart affects how you relate to the world. You must believe in your heart that God humbled himself to become a man (while still being God), suffered and was tempted as man is, but lived a perfect life, and became THE innocent sacrificed for our sins, to be raised. The bad news is the Good News! God has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. I may be a poor miserable sinner, but when God looks at me, he sees Christ, and is pleased. Thus God deliberately fools himself to save a sinner like me. Alleluia.  Jesus taught that if you murder a man in your heart, it is the same as if you had murdered him in the world.  Thus it is in your heart that you must change, and that will change your outward practices.  Islam doesn't address the inward man.  More wonderful still, the Holy Spirit does the work of remaking you if you let him in. 

Soloway points out that because there is no command and control structure in Islam, it is devilishly hard to effect changes.  Indeed, the only way is for all of us to get in the faces of Muslims and constantly urge them to change everything about Islam:
In “Reform Islam or Live the ‘New Normal’ Forever,” Roger Simon argues that Donald Trump’s often frustrated travel ban on problematic countries, though not illegal, is insufficient. “It's only a meager beginning in dealing with a situation that has not changed in any real sense since 9/11, as the events in New York Tuesday testify. If we do not move even more seriously to prevent them, they will indeed become the ‘new normal.’ ” The violence, he continues, “will never be squelched until the ideology is defeated and reformed… We must all now be obnoxious, politically incorrect busybodies and get in Islam's face, demanding reform in every way possible, economically, socially, theologically and, yes, militarily.”
This is a bravely unpopular stance to adopt vis à vis Islam that will surely be opposed and condemned by progressivists and offended Muslims. In fact, however, it does not go nearly far enough. Islam is a notoriously resistant and tentacular faith. I have long argued in book and article that Islam cannot be reformed. For starters, it features no single “pontifical” authority that could institute real change. Moreover, the canonical network is too intricate and too vast to admit of effective modification. Expurgating the Koran, were it even possible, is only the tip of the sand dune. The hundreds of thousands of Hadith would need to be reviewed and amended, as would the Sunnah and Sirah, the five schools of jurisprudence, Twelver Shia, centuries of ulemic literature, and the underlying cultural predispositions, beliefs, ideals, and orthodox practices that form the bedrock of 57 Muslim nations and the West’s Muslim populations.
I understand why the Left seems to adore Islam. Islam isn't a religion at all, but a totalitarian political system disguised as a theology. Rather than demand that the man change, as Christianity does, it codifies and tolerates the perversity of mankind. Osama Bin Laden supposedly spent some time in London and found their morals to be loose. What then would he think of the Muslim practice of marrying a prostitute for an hour, having sex with her. and then divorcing the woman. Is that what he calls living morally?  The Left loves Islam because they don't have to change, they just have to not be caught, same rules they live by now.  As a bonus, they get to tell everyone else how to live.  As for offended Muslims, this jihad goes on in their names, so either they own it or renounce it.  But if they renounce it, they also have to renounce Islam itself.

Soloway goes on to note that we should ban all Muslim immigration since the practice of taqqiyah prevents us from knowing whether they are individually moderate or not.  But we also must investigate every Mosque and be ready to close down those that are preaching jihad.  It is in  these Mosques that many young men are radicalized.  Now the left will say that we can not do that because the 1st Amendment.  But understanding that Islam is not a religion as we haave understood such, but a totalitarian ideology that is at odds with the founding of this country, allows us to ban it, just as we have banned Mormons in the past.

This country is under siege from multiple enemies. We have a Leftist 5th column,  We need to rediscover our heritage, which was to stand for our principles while walking humbly in the world.  We also need to rediscover Christian values, if not Christianity itself. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Professors want the Supreme Court to limit gerrymandering

So, here we go again.  Some professors want the Supreme Court to, as they say, "limit gerrymandering", so that they can put more anti-gun Democrats in power at the state level to get guns out of the hands of Americans.  This is just rich.  Here in North Carolina, the state government was run by Democrats, for Democrats for over 100 years.  Gerrymandering was of course practiced, and nobody said a word.  Now that the Republicans have taken over, its lawsuit after lawsuit to end gerrymandering, at least until the Democrats take over again.  What hypocrisy.

But the question on the table is about guns, isn't it?  Over at, Beth Baumann has a piece from November 2, 2017 entitled Washington Post: Supreme Court Could Make a Move on Guns...In An Unconventional Way. The argument boils down to this:
The professors believe the reason "significant new gun laws" haven't be enacted in recent years is because gerrymandering has allowed the GOP to stay in power.
Nothing fancy here, just that the Democrats are losing, so it needs to be changed, because the American people once again don't know what is good for them, so we, their betters, must decide for them. And while it is stating the obvious, apparently Ms. Baumann is forced to say that boys will be boys, and politicians will be politicians:
There's one simple reality behind gerrymandering: It has always taken place and it always will. Asking people to put their political differences aside to draw these lines is unfathomable. That's asking political movers and shakers to put their political aspirations and beliefs aside for the greater good of their constituents.
But what about guns? How does this affect guns, you ask?
Liberals have an absolute obsession with the NRA. How a liberal feels about guns and the NRA has become their litmus test. That being said, these professors are no different. Arguing that gerrymandering is the way to fix America's "gun violence" problem is just...stupid.
The Second Amendment is a fundamental right protected by the United States Constitution. Those of us who want to protect ourselves for self-defense — or simply because we want to utilize our right — shouldn't be punished by anti-gunners who feel we're overstepping our boundaries.
These professors should be absolutely ashamed of themselves...
That is, if they had any shame, but they do not.

Once again, the professors argument presupposes that the problem lies with the instrumentality, rather than with the person wielding the instrumentality. But guns are inanimate objects. They do not jump out of their holsters of their own volition and begin shooting people. A person has to make the decision to take hold of the gun and direct it towards another person and pull the trigger.  There can be no justification for doing that short of defense of self or ones family from imminent death or serious bodily injury.  Also the fact that absent a gun, a car, a hammer, an ax or screwdriver will also do says that eliminating guns will not stop crime.  Therefore the motives behind the anti-gunners push for gun control is to give the government an overwhelming monopoly of force.

And of course, that can't be spoken about out loud...

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

500th Anniversary of the Reformation

Today is Halloween, or the Eve of All Saints Day. It is also the 500th Anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. On this day, 500 years ago, Martin Luther started a revolution with the nailing of 95 theses on the doors to the Wittenburg Church. Luther's intention was to start a discussion on certain practices of the Roman Catholic Church that were not biblically based. For instance, the Church sold "indulgences" which were pieces of paper stating that the Pope would reduce your time in Purgatory for a fee. Of course there is no such thing as Purgatory. And any Christian is entitled to forgive the sins of another. Thus the Lord's Prayer contains the petition "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Powerful stuff that, for it asks God to measure us by how we measure others. Is that what you really want?  It is a hard truth, and to live it requires a new way of thinking.  We don't naturally think this way.

I am a Lutheran, and in celebration of the 500th Anniversary, I have been reading Hallmarks of Lutheran Identity by Alvin Schmidt. In terms of explaining Lutheran Theology, as opposed to that of Calvin, or Wesley, or the seeming hundreds of others who popped up in the United States, the book is excellent, and highly readable.  I have also been restudying Luther's Small Catechism, and now realize I should have been devoting more time to it all along.  I am also engaging in something that was illegal in Luther's time.  I am reading the Bible!  In English!  Indeed, William Tyndale was executed for, among other things, translating the Bible into English from the original Greek and Hebrew.  Thanks to Martin Luther, I know that the work of Salvation has already been done by Jesus Christ on the Cross, because I could not do it for myself.  Only Christ, with no help from me.  Only Scripture, no other word is necessary.  Only by faith in Jesus, God's only begotten Son.  Only by Grace, because I deserve none of it.  Thanks be to God.

I recently had some experience with Luther's theology of the two kingdoms.  Luther noted that there are two kingdoms:  the Kingdom of Grace, and the Kingdom of the World.  The Kingdom of Grace is God's Kingdom, where your past sins are forgiven and everyone is perfect.  In the Kingdom of Grace, the Lion truly lies down with the Lamb, and doesn't lick his chops.  The Kingdom of the World is the one we experience every day when we encounter a set of blue lights on our tail, as a police officer pulls us over for speeding.  As Christians, we live in both Kingdoms.  So, for example, because the Kingdom of the World requires us to be armed, it may be that soldiers are needed to defend the country against a foreign invader.  It is no sin to serve as a soldier, or to kill in war.  But as a Christian, you should pray for your enemies, difficult as that may be.  Understanding in which Kingdom you are acting at any moment clarifies your duties.  Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.

I should note that in keeping with Luther's theology of the two kingdoms, I have been explaining opposition to abortion in mixed terms.  To the world, I should explain it in terms of natural rights.  To Christians, I can appeal to the Word.  In either case, it is wrong.  To the worldly, we have a right to life, that extends from our conception until natural death.  Abortion denies a child this right.  Therefore it is wrong.  Mea Culpa.
Today at the American Thinker, Scott S. Powell explains that the United States of America would not exist as a separate nation, nor would we have the Constitution we have if not for the Reformation. Powell's article can be found at The 500th Anniversay of the Reformation and What it Means Today. Powell explains that the American founders were heavily influenced by Reformation thinkers and theologians such as John Calvin. It is interesting, and true. We are a Christian Nation, founded upon Christian principles. We ought to start acting like it.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Would Republicans rather lose than fight?

I have already written to my Senators and representative that unless they finally get on the ball and begin working to pass the Trump agenda, I really don't see any reason to continue voting for any of them.  Of course, I won't vote for the Democraps either, but I don't see a good reason to vote for Republicans.

So, it came as a surprise to see that Brian C. Joondeph at the American Thinker was asking if the GOP would rather lose than fight? on 29 October 2017.  I've talked to others who feel the same way.  Perhaps the Senators and Representatives can afford to lose my one vote, but if these others are any indication, can they afford to lose all of them?  In any case:
Then why aren’t these things happening? Now nine months into the Trump presidency, ObamaCare is still in place, so are high taxes. The border wall isn’t funded. There is little Congressional support for Trump blowing up the Iran nuke deal and the Paris climate accords. For cutting regulations. Cleaning out the swamp creatures of the deep state. Expeditiously confirming conservative judges, Neil Gorsuch aside.
This is a recipe for disaster. A big league electoral loss. The GOP, it would seem, prefers to lose rather than fight. A recent Fox News poll, a generic congressional ballot for the 2018 midterm elections, illustrates this quite clearly. Democrat candidates lead Republicans by 15 points. Granted, this is over a year ahead of the midterms, but still a bad omen for Republican members of Congress. Wimps or fighters?
Go read all of Joondeph's article. If you are inspired, write your Representatives and Senators as well.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Alexa is watching you

I recently had a conversation with someone who had the nerve to claim that I was a luddite because I did not jump on the latest in gadgetry.  While it is true that I am judicious in adopting new gizmos, I am anything but a luddite.  The term luddite comes from one Ned Ludd, who supposedly broke into a stocking weavers shop and destroyed his equipment in protest of workers losing their jobs to the new technology.  Like most people, I am not opposed to new technology, I just pick and choose which new technology I wish to adopt.  Also, I am a slow adopter, waiting to see what falls out from other users first.  "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread"

According to Pem Schaeffer in his article at the American Thinker today, that is exactly what I should be doing.  Pem asks the question: Alexa, what are you doing in my room? He then proceeds to answer that question, and what Alexa is doing is not necessarily benign. My friend was raving at what all Alexa could do, when fundamentally all Alexa is doing is a bunch of simple calculations at very high speed, not actually "thinking" as we understand the word "to think."
A.I. has not broken through the mysteries of innate human intelligence. Instead, techniques have evolved for applying massive computational power to simulate various human capabilities. Prominent examples include interactive systems in the newest automobiles. They recognize voice input, speak back in response, and perform various tasks at our behest. All use inexpensive digital hardware running highly evolved computer programs. The irony is that while their performance seems dazzling, they are in fact doing what they do through an extremely fast series of the simplest acts.
If my friend wishes to be dazzled by this display of simulated human intelligence, that is fine, but I remain unimpressed. I would as soon turn on my own coffee in the morning, and switch on and off my own lights, thank you. However, the really scary part is not the ability to turn the lights on and off, it is that Alexa is connected to the internet, and therefore you are inviting the world to see what is in your house, what you are doing, and as they say, case the joint.  Do you really want to give some criminal access to your home in order to case it and decide if there is anything worth stealing?
Echo, where Alexa lives, while complex in one sense, is remarkably simple at the human interface level. It has speakers for talking to you (with Dolby performance, no less), a microphone for listening to you (with similar high-performance specs), and a wireless interface to the internet via your home network. Newer versions include a video camera to watch you even in the dimmest of ambients. All versions are noticeably absent display screens and other interactive devices like a touch panel, keyboard, or mouse.
So far, so good. The immense power of Echo and Alexa lies not in voice recognition and voice synthesis capabilities, but in the connection to the internet. Voice recognition simply digitizes inputs to the microphone and analyzes them for language content. Voice synthesis is the reverse of this process – creating spoken words from series of ones and zeros.
The magic of digital technology is that it reduces everything to elementary operations, executed by incredibly fast, inexpensive, and nearly error-proof electronic building blocks suggestive of basic LEGO pieces. That the A.I. technology is primitive is not as relevant as the very fact that humans are investing billions in it...but for what purpose?
...snip again...
The main point here is that simple as the Echo device may seem, once you connect it via the internet to the GDI, it is accessible to any other processing element of that global structure. Anyone who listens to and speaks to Alexa opens himself up to monitoring by and voice prompting from a vast universe of digital resources operated by unknowable entities in unknowable locations. And without realizing it, he willingly provides input to "big data" archives. This is what "the cloud" means. Instead of being connected to your neighbor's laptop, or Amazon's server bank in Timbuktu, you're interacting with a vast, unstructured, indeterminate array of digital resources in the ether.
One thing to note is that the internet stores everything forever. We warn teenagers today that if they don't want nude pictures of themselves turning up years later in some porn site, don't allow nude pictures of yourselves to be taken. But there are far more nefarious creatures out there than a mad boy friend. Peoples private data has been stolen from a number of companies and institutions you thought were protecting that data. Ever hear of names like Target, Yahoo! and Equifax? Interestingly, the way to find out if your data was released in the Equifax fiasco is to input your private data over the internet. Have these people no self awareness?

Please go read the whole article. If you have children and grandchildren, be especially careful, and choose your technological wonders with extreme caution. You never know who is watching you and why.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Why Abortion is Wrong

I am reading the Bible using the Lutheran Daily Lectionary published by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. If you read each day's lectionary lesson, you will at the end of the year, have read the entire Bible. Then you start all over, because the Bible is a deep book, and what you read last year will mean something different and more wonderful today.  Today's readings included the 23rd chapter of Ezekiel. The prophet Ezekiel writes at the time of the Babylonian exile.  In his prophesies of the destruction of Jerusalem he writes:
For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands; with their idols they have committed adultery, and they have even offered up to them for food the children whom they have borne to me.
Back before the Babylonian exile, the Israelites waged a constant battle against the fertility cults that surrounded them, and lived among them.  . Believers in these cults believed, in the manner of infantile egoism, that they through their actions in keeping the fertility gods favorable to them, could bring the rains, and make the crops grow. So, the believers performed rites in front of the idols of these gods, and sacrificed children to them.  (Compare these believers in fertility gods to global climate change alarmists today.)   While their motives were certainly different, they were more understandable. For if there was no rain, there would be no crops, and the people would starve to death. Thus they had a powerful incentive. One can even understand in the circumstances that an ancient Israelite might take out a little insurance, right?

But, the one unforgivable sin, you see, is failure to trust in the Lord, the one who brought them out of Egypt, the one who defended them time and again. For as Jesus says, in Matthew 5:45:
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
So, our God, Creator of everything that is and everything that is not, finds the murder of your children as abhorrent as do we.  Whether it is because of a lack of trust in God, or for other reasons, abortion is wrong.

But you don't believe in God, do you?a  You are a modern woman, and above all that myth and legend, and superstition.  And I am not here to change your mind, for that would be a fool's errand.  I am here to tell you though, that you will not be happy as a result.  You will pine for your child, and you will curse the day you listened to the feminists who said you could have it all.  Another false promise form false prophetesses, for everyone must make choices, and some choices foreclose others.  Be careful in the choices you make.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Why we can't give in on bump stocks

Selwyn Duke has an article today that explains why the gun rights community will fight tooth and nail to prevent the government from infringing our Second Amendment rights by banning bump fire stocks.  Dukes article entitled Why I Oppose Banning Bump Stocks in today's American Thinker perfectly captures the attitude of a lot of people in the gun rights community. Duke:
The latest firearm-equipment boogeyman is the “bump stock,” a device allowing one to fire a semi-automatic rifle more rapidly. Liberals learned of bump stocks because Las Vegas murderer Stephen Paddock had modified 12 of his rifles with them.
This has made them a target for prohibition, and an easy one, too. After all, almost no one wants to buy a bump stock, so even many Republicans — and the National Rifle Association — are willing to place greater restrictions on the device. I also have no plans to acquire one, but I wouldn’t even consider outlawing the stock. Why?
Well, for that, you will have to read the rest of the article.  Suffice it to say that Duke is past weary of the ever changing drive to ban whatever it is that is the latest piece of firearm equipment.  If you are old enough, you will remember when they wanted to ban the so called cheap  "Saturday night special" because supposedly urban blacks used them to kill each other.  Notice the racist overtones here, and these were Democrats that wanted them banned. But it doesn't really matter.  What matters is that they can ban something, anything, then they will be back the next shooting for another slice.

Duke's idea is to try to pin down liberals as follows before we give in to any sort of ban:

*  You say bump stocks allow a person to fire too rapidly. Okay, what exactly is the maximum number of rounds per minute a weapon available to the public should be capable of firing? What’s your reasoning?
*  “High-capacity magazines” is an ambiguous term. Exactly what size magazine should citizens be allowed to own? What’s your reasoning?
*  Don’t tell us about “high-powered rifles.” Tell us exactly what the maximum muzzle velocity of a publicly available firearm should be. What’s your reasoning?
*  Another ambiguous (and misleading) term is “armor-piercing ammunition.” What exactly should the maximum penetration power of a publicly available round be? What’s your reasoning?
Once you formulate your concrete vision (for the first time in your lives), please present it. If we accept it, though, note what the agreement means: You don’t get to ask for more anti-gun laws ever again. There’s no more politicizing of the issue after every shooting. The vision is conceived, articulated, agreed upon — and then set in stone.
Of course, Duke realizes that this is highly unlikely, and short of them offering a unified, all gun grabbers agree on this list, there is really no point in discussing it further

Thursday, October 12, 2017

My Stack On Medium Quick Access Safe

About a year ago Mrs PolyKahr saw a good deal for Stack On Medium Quick Access Safes to keep curious fingers off our guns when we don't have immediate control of them. We each stuck one on our night stands, and programmed the biometric lock with a combination that we each could remember. Of course, a biometric lock requires batteries or a secure source of electricity, which means that the biometric lock has to be backed up with a mechanical lock and key.  Batteries will fail at the moment you need them the most, and there is no such thing as absolutely secure electricity.

Mind you, these are not like a Liberty Safe that is so heavy the bad guy can't steal it, and is fireproof and all the other proofs.  These safes are not designed to thwart all comers.  These are just designed for peace of mind if you have young children running around.

I personally take my weapon out at night and keep it on top of the safe, because if awakened by a bad guy in my house at night, I don't want to have to be fumbling with the biometric lock to get to my gun.  That being said, I have noticed of late that the battery case, which is on the upper part of the inside of the safe has begun to sag a bit, making contact with the batteries somewhat iffy at times.  Of course, I can always use the key, but that means I could have bought a cheaper safe if I didn't have to have the biometric lock.  Otherwise, the safe has done the job it was intended to do.  However, I would not buy another one, there are cheaper alternatives. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Make No Mistake-This Is War

There have been several articles about the recent assault on the Second Amendment as a result of the mass shooting in Las Vegas. While the dead are buried, the wounded are tended, and the police search for a motive, the Left is busy calling for a bunch of stupidity that will not affect the next mass shooting, but will burden all the law abiding people that did NOT have anything to do with the mass killing. I intend to highlight a few of those today, gentle reader, if I may.

The first is Alicia Colon's article that appeared in the American Thinker October 8, 2017 entitled The Unbelievable Stupidity of Those Who Believe that Laws Stop the Lawless. As a readers digest version, the title says it all. Of course the Left doesn't really believe that there is some magic incantation or formula that will suddenly cause evil people to be good. Indeed, if there were, the whole of the Christian Church could declare victory and the reign of Jesus on earth. But there is no such magic incantation, and so one must view the manufactured anguish of the Left as nothing more than an attempt to convince the American public to give up their Second Amendment rights. In any case, go and read the whole thing, as she makes some other good points as well.

Next up is William Sullivan's piece on October 9, 2017 at the American Thinker entitled The Logical End of the Left's Antigun Crusade.   Sullivan takes as his starting point an interview with Representative Don Calloway on the Tucker Carlson show:

Recently on Tucker Carlson’s show, Don Calloway (Rep D-MO) opened with this pearl of insight into the leftist mind, suggesting that “mass shootings are the result of the types of weapons that are available to our society, and the lethality of weapons that are available to our society.”
But are mass shootings truly “the result of the types of weapons available to our society?” Follow that logic to its reasonable end.
Following which, Sullivan destroys the logic of the Left by pointing out that the total number of people killed by mass shooters in the last 51 years is 948 people. This is tragic. More tragic still is that 3,827 people were killed in 2014 alone by either being beaten of stabbed. Morally, there is no difference between being stabbed, or beaten, or being shot by a mass shooter. Yet one is held out as being more reprehensible. Moreover, it is not the existence of the weapons themselves that are the cause of these mass shootings, but the murderous intent of evil people.  Guns, as always, are inanimate tools.  They do not influence people who do not have the desire to kill, to become killers.  The problem, as always, is the people themselves.

Today there are a number of proposals out there to ban the so called "bump stock" to prevent someone from doing the same thing the Las Vegas shooter did. Years ago one of the flashy moves in cowboy movies was to "fan" the hammer of a Colt 45 Peacemaker or similar single action revolver while the shooter held down the trigger. The result was a very rapid rate of fire. But no one actually did this in real life. It was only the trick shot artists who might fan his revolver in a demonstration. One could not actually aim while fanning. Similarly, bump fire has been around, but it is not very accurate, and people don't (usually) use bump fire in real life. So, conservatives are not all fired up to defend the bump fire stock since, as Spike Hanson points out in his piece at the American Thinker entitled To Win the Second Amendment War:
Whether or not bump stocks end up banned is a trivial matter. The war over the Second Amendment will not hinge on the outcome of this particular battle. Both sides know this; the importance of the issue is entirely psychological.
For progressives, a win would be a move in the right direction, evidence that conservatives are vulnerable. It would be comparable to the Doolittle Raid against the Japanese homeland in 1942 – a strike of no great strategic import but invaluable as a way to shift national confidence from the Japanese to the American side.
For conservatives, there is little to be gained by thwarting this progressive gambit (which is the reason some are prepared to make a tactical retreat). Why expend resources on such an insignificant matter when winning it will not much advance the Second Amendment cause? Why, indeed! The answer is that a defensive mindset leads to defeat. Fainthearted people rarely win at war. This is no less true for a political war than it is for a military one.
And there it is. I myself have no real interest in fighting this fight. But we must, because we can not give on inch. Not one more inch. This is a war, and we can not lose it. The NRA has signaled that they are agreeable to banning bump fire stocks. But then the NRA have been the Neville Chamberlains of the gun rights movement since I can remember. Their appeasements have given us the gun control laws we have today. And those laws have nothing in common with the American system of Constitutional government, but more with Fascistic and totalitarian governments. Therefore I urge readers to consider joining the GOA effort to stop Congress from passing a bump stock ban, and get back to work giving us National Reciprocity.

This is war. We can not lose it.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Solution to Las Vegas Is Not Making Things Illegal

The shooting in Las Vegas has spawned many emotions.  Everyone of course deplores what the shooter did.  Most of us are also impressed with the speed with which the police responded, and are comforted by the stories of people helping people at the scene.

Some people believe that somehow we need to do SOMETHING, anything, even if what we do would not have stopped the Las Vegas shooter.  So it is with the calls to make the bump fire stock and similar products illegal.  Supposedly, the reason the shooter could fire so rapidly is because he had a "bump fire" stock installed on his semiautomatic rifles.  With training, the bump fire stock allows more rapid fire that one can achieve with the trigger finger only, approximating what can be achieved with a fully automatic weapon.  It sounds reasonable, right?  If the killer couldn't get a hold of a bump fire stock?  Similarly, if Cain hadn't had easy access to a rock, Able would have still been alive.  But of course we can make rocks illegal, can we?  Indeed, trying to protect people by making things that can kill illegal is a fool's errand.

If we are looking for a solution, we are looking in the wrong direction if we are seeking to make various inanimate objects illegal  The problem is not the existence of semiautomatic rifles, or indeed any firearm.  It is also not the existence of devices like the bump fire stock.  The problem is that a man decided to commit an evil act and kill as many people as possible.  Since everybody is an image of our Creator, the desire to kill another human being indicates a hatred of God.  Of course, murder is already illegal.   There is nothing our legislators can do, except of course posture and virtue signal.

The truth is that tragedies like  Las Vegas can't really be prevented.  The only way to prevent a tragedy is to change the killer's heart.  No man can do that, only the Holy Spirit can do that.  But the Holy Spirit can only do that if he can be exposed to the Christian message.

Update:  Please also read The Ugly Truth for Liberals: Gun Control Will Not Stop Mass Shootingsm by John Hawkins.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Digital Amateur Radio

I wanted to talk a little today about the "digital" modes of transmitting information over the radio waves.  A digital mode involve signals that transmit some combination of discrete frequencies by one station that can then be decoded by another station to reveal the information being transmitted.

The oldest "digital" mode is what is called Continuous Wave (CW) that transmits Morse code.  The transmitter is either on or off.  The length of the elements are either long or short.  These long, often called "dah" and the short, called "dit" thus make up a binary code, the differing combinations of which make up all the letters, digits, punctuation and pro-signs of Morse code.  CW is still practiced in Amateur Radio, and can be used anywhere in the amateur bands.

Radio Teletype, abbreviated RTTY, is a radio implementation of a land line technology that was an early form of sending text over the phone lines.  The wire services such as UPI, used teletype extensively.  RTTY uses two tones, usually 170 Hz apart, to transmit the letters, digits, punctuation, and again certain pro-signs to transmit text as opposed to voice.  RTTY proceeds at 45.45 baud, or about 60 words per minute.  Once upon a time, to operate RTTY one had to make a substantial investment in converting old teletype machines to transmit over the air.  But with the advent of personal computers, software took over this function, and with a simple sound card as the interface between the computer and the transmitter, one could be in the RTTY business.   Today, the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) promotes RTTY as a digital mode that is very popular.  It is also one of the easiest to understand, and to set up the software to run. But in fact, only a few experts with RTTY operate during contests, and there seems to be little other activity.  So I have to question the ARRL's notion of the term "popular."  As a result, a new practitioner can not get any experience themselves, because RTTY operators only use their equipment at certain times when a new person will be reluctant to try out the mode.

Since 2000, a number of digital modes using inexpensive sound cards as the interface between your computer and a transmitter have popped up like mushrooms.  One of these, PSK31, is a digital mode that uses phase shift keying to key the transmitter at 31 baud.  The mode was designed to be used as a conversational mode for "rag chewing" as opposed to simple contesting.  As late as 2012, ARRL was promoting PSK31.  The advantage of PSK31 is that 25 or 30 conversations can be going on simultaneously in the same bandwidth as a voice conversation over Single Side Band (SSB).  Unfortunately, PSK31 has fallen out of favor as well.

The latest bright shiny object in the digital amateur radio constellation is a product called FT8.  I have not looked into FT8 yet, but it comes out of the same developers as JT9 and JT65.  These modes were designed to explore the common problem of digging a signal out of the noise.  The high frequency bands, where Amateur Radio operates are plagued by varying degrees of static noise.  As more and more electrically powered devices come on the market, the static noise has become stronger and stronger.  The JT programs are capable of digging a readable signal that is buried deep in the dirt.  They are great for contesting, for DXing (radio talk for contacts between two countries) and for QRP (radio talk for low power operation).   However, these programs are not designed for conversing.   A typical exchange involving call sign, grid locator, and signal report takes 6 minutes!   Radio, if it is to be more than an expensive toy, must be able to convey more that the person calling, and a location and signal report.  In times of disaster, we must be able to convey what we need to survive, health and welfare traffic, and other emergency communications.  In good times, Amateur Radio shows that people, wherever they are, are fundamentally the same.

While it is interesting to get signals out of static, and amateurs should pursue that, I would like to see more activity on modes that operate at or just above the noise threshold such as RTTY and PSK31.  These modes actually can convey useful information in a timely fashion.  Using PSK31 signals, I have noted that my CQs have been heard as far as Europe, South America, Africa, and across the U. S, at only 25 watts of power.  Imagine that a signal with the power of a 25 watt light bulb can be decoded at half way around the world, in high static conditions.  Yet no one is responding.  I guess they are all chasing after the latest shiny object.  

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

In 65 Years, the World Has Turned Upside Down

This piece was published on August 30, 2017, but with Labor day coming, and preparations for a house full of guests, I didn't have much time to devote to finding stories to highlight for readers.  The article in question is by David French at the National Review entitled Can a Progressive's 'Inclusive Values' Include Christianity? French starts off by acknowledging that he has signed the Nashville Statement, which, as he points out:
Over the weekend, I was honored to sign a document called the Nashville Statement. It’s a basic declaration of Christian orthodoxy on sexuality, sexual orientation, and sexual identity. Its 14 articles can be boiled down to a simple statement: We believe the Bible is the word of God, and the word of God declares that sexual intimacy is reserved for the lifelong union of a man and a woman in marriage. It acknowledges the reality of same-sex attraction as well as the reality of transgender self-conceptions, but denies that God sanctions same-sex sexual activity or a transgendered self-conception that is at odds with biological reality. In other words, it’s basic Christianity.
Too often I think we hear the words of condemnation: we have sinned, but we don't hear the words of grace: but if you truly repent, God will forgive you. The Nashviille Statement contains both the condemnation and the grace. It is thus well balanced, and indeed, I signed it myself. Would that the church body to which our congregation belongs, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America could write such a powerful, yet Biblically accurate statement of faith. Alas, it has been taken over by radicals like so many other institutions in America. But according to French, many Evangelicals think that being a Christian means never hurting anyone's feelings:
The backlash was of course immediate, with multiple liberal Evangelicals deriding the statement as cruel or mean. In their theology, God’s word is subject to an overriding cultural and political test. One can reject even His clearest commands if those commands are “mean” or “intolerant.” And what’s “mean” or “intolerant” is — oddly enough — defined almost entirely by secular social revolutionaries...
The statements by Jen Hatmaker, a respected Evangelical and author, are troubling to say the least. It is as if she has read and internalized only one half of the Bible, and discarded the other half. But Jen Hatmaker at least represents just one person's opinion. She has no power to make us do anything. The mayor of Nashville, Megan Barry's statement that the Nashville Statement does not represent the "inclusive values of the city & the people of Nashville" is more troubling because:
This statement is in many ways far more ominous than anything that comes from the liberal Evangelical world. The liberal Evangelical argument is one reason that the Nashville Statement was necessary. The authors and signatories expected pushback. Barry’s statement, however, is different. It’s not separation of church and state, it’s a declaration of state against church. We are reaching a troubling stage of American politics when the reality of American pluralism is yielding to a demand for cultural and religious uniformity. Megan Barry is expected to have a position on civil rights and civil liberties, but that’s a far cry from stating that Biblical orthodoxy is incompatible with the “inclusive values” of a city that’s located in the heart of the Bible Belt. The Southern Baptist Convention has a headquarter building right in downtown Nashville. You can’t drive five minutes in Nashville without seeing a church that’s teaching exactly the values and beliefs contained in the Nashville Statement. Is Barry’s position that they should change their ways, shut up, or leave?
We are living in times not much different that those Paul describes in his letters to the Corinthians. In 65 years the world has been turned upside down. Father give us strength to keep proclaiming your word.