Thursday, March 10, 2005

Northwest Challenge 2005 - Survivor

Northwest Challenge 2005 - Survivor

The NorthWest Challenge has a hard-earned reputation of being a GREAT IPSC match.

If you expect to be anywhere near the Upper Left-Hand Corner of America at the end of July, this is the place to be. Sixty bucks buys you ...

SWMBO and I WILL be there!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Terror Suspects Buying Firearms, Report Finds

The New York Times : Terror Suspects Buying Firearms, Report Finds

WASHINGTON, March 7 - Dozens of terror suspects on federal watch lists were allowed to buy firearms legally in the United States last year, according to a Congressional investigation that points up major vulnerabilities in federal gun laws.

The New York times has once again resorted to fear-mongering to support their Liberal gun-control agenda.

People suspected of being members of a terrorist group are not automatically barred from legally buying a gun, and the investigation, conducted by the Government Accountability Office, indicated that people with clear links to terrorist groups had regularly taken advantage of this gap.

The operative word here is "suspected". There is nothing present, nor was any clause proposed, in the Brady Bill to deny the rights of any person who is only "suspected" of violating the law.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, law enforcement officials and gun control groups have voiced increasing concern about the prospect of a terrorist walking into a gun shop, legally buying an assault rifle or other type of weapon and using it in an attack.

On the contrary, a 'terrorist' is not permitted to purchase a firearm. Nor is a felon.

However, a person is not a felon until he/she is convicted in a court of law of felonious activities. If you are suspected of a felony, you may be charged, tried and convicted.

Until you are convicted of a felony, you are "presumed innocent", and retain your full rights as a citizen.

Who is prevented from buying a firearm under the Brady Bill (Title 18)?
Convicted felons, juveniles, insane people, non-citizens, and "Terrorists".

What is a "terrorist"?

It is a person who is engaged in "terrorism":
(22) ....

For purposes of this paragraph, the term ``terrorism'' means activity,
directed against United States persons, which--
(A) is committed by an individual who is not a national or
permanent resident alien of the United States;
(B) involves violent acts or acts dangerous to human life which
would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction
of the United States; and
(C) is intended--
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation
or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by assassination
or kidnapping.

Okay, we've established some basic definitions according to Title 18. Let's look at the concerns reported by the New York Times:

The G.A.O. study offers the first full-scale examination of the possible dangers posed by gaps in the law, Congressional officials said, and it concludes that the Federal Bureau of Investigation "could better manage" its gun-buying records in matching them against lists of suspected terrorists.

F.B.I. officials maintain that they are hamstrung by laws and policies restricting the use of gun-buying records because of concerns over the privacy rights of gun owners.

(Emphasis added)

Let's look at two cogent phrases:

",,, gaps in the law..."

"...hamstrung by laws and policies restricting the use of gun-buying records ..."

First, there are no 'gaps in the law'.

The Brady Bill was designed specifically to prevent felons, juveniles, madmen, etc. from possessing firearms. This is clearly demonstrated in the fascinating essay "Battle Over the Brady Bill".

Title 18 performs the purpose for which it was designed. When a firearms dealer performs a background check, the Federal Government and their POC's (Points Of Contact) have the opportunity to prevent the sale. The burden of proof that a prospective purchaser is not eligible to buy the firearm is not on the dealer, nor on the purchaser. The burden of proof is on the federal government, which must prevent the transaction based upon clearly defined guidelines. If the purchaser is someone who is legally not permitted to buy a fun *, the POC has the opportunity and the responsibility to to say so in a timely manner. Again, "suspician" is not one of the guidelines. In fact, "suspician" is grounds for arrest, but arrest and even arraignmenton on the charge of a felony is not grounds for denying the purchase. Only a conviction, or proof tha the purchaser is demonstrably among certain other groups (juvenile, madman, etc.) is grounds for denial.

Second, the FBI (according to the article) contends that they are "hamstrung" by the law.

Well, yes. they are 'hamstrung' since the law (Title 18) specifically prevents them .. or any other agency .... from using the NCICS system to record who has purchased a firearm. Abuse of the system in this way (specifically forbidden by the context of the cited law) is registration. The Brady Bill may have been intended by its original drafters to impose registration, but that clause was quickly stricken down and was history before he bill was accepted. Somebody out there was paying attention to the Second Amendment.

At least 44 times from February 2004 to June, people whom the F.B.I. regards as known or suspected members of terrorist groups sought permission to buy or carry a gun, the investigation found.

Question: How does the FBI know this? Administration of the NCIC system is the responsibility of the BATF. Are they sharing data with the FBI? You may think this is a good idea, but it is not legal.

In all but nine cases, the F.B.I. or state authorities who handled the requests allowed the applications to proceed because a check of the would-be buyer found no automatic disqualification like being a felon, an illegal immigrant or someone deemed "mentally defective," the report found.
That's the way the system is suppose to work. Do you suppose the NYT doesn't understand that?

The gun buyers came up as positive matches on a classified internal F.B.I. watch list that includes thousands of terrorist suspects, many of whom are being monitored, trailed or sought for questioning as part of terrorism investigations into Islamic-based, militia-style and other groups, official said.
"... sought for questioning ...? These " ... gun buyers came up as positive matches on a classified internal F.B.I. watch list ..." and the FBI did nothing? The article doesn't provide any details, but one wonders if these the situation was (a) the FBI didn't really care enough about the 'gun buyers' to go out and pick them up when they knew where they were at the moment, or (b) they didn't get the word from the ATF to apprehend them at the site.

Your guess is as good as mine, but it's an interesting question. Maybe, the FBI wasn't as 'interested' in these people as the NYT article would leave us to believe.

Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, who requested the study, plans to introduce legislation to address the problem in part by requiring federal officials to keep records of gun purchases by terror suspects for a minimum of 10 years. Such records must now be destroyed within 24 hours as a result of a change ordered by Congress last year. Mr. Lautenberg maintains that the new policy has hindered terrorism investigations by eliminating the paper trail on gun purchases.

This dog won't hunt.
"Terror suspects", in accordance with the tone of this article, will be whomever Frankie the Fink choses to label as such. What do you want to bet that the bill, if/when it is finally introduced to the Senate, is deliberately vague on the definition of "terror suspects". This means that it could be you, or me, or anyone ....

"Destroying these records in 24 hours is senseless and will only help terrorists cover their tracks," Mr. Lautenberg said Monday. "It's an absurd policy."

He blamed what he called the Bush administration's "twisted allegiances" to the National Rifle Association for the situation.

The "twisted allegiances" which Lautenberg refers to is the "twisted allegiance" to Federal Law, as it was composed and accepted by the U.S. Senate.

Frankie's just mad because the other boys and girls didn't want to play his game.

The legal debate over how gun records are used became particularly contentious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, when it was disclosed that the Justice Department and John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, had blocked the F.B.I. from using the gun-buying records to match against some 1,200 suspects who were detained as part of the Sept. 11 investigation. Mr. Ashcroft maintained that using the records in a criminal investigation would violate the federal law that created the system for instant background gun checks ....
This is typical of the Liberal Gun-Grabbers. They can't get the law written to suit them, but after the bill becomes Law they try to re-interpret it in their own warped context. Ashcroft was right; current federal law is NOT a registration scheme.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 states:

No such rule or regulation prescribed after the date of the enactment of the Firearms Owners' Protection Act may require that records required to be maintained under this chapter or any portion of the contents of such records, be recorded at or transferred to a facility owned, managed, or controlled by the United States or any State or any political subdivision thereof, nor that any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or dispositions be established. Nothing in this section expands or restricts the Secretary's authority to inquire into the disposition of any firearm in the course of a criminal investigation.

... but Justice Department lawyers who reviewed the issue said they saw no such prohibition.

One wonders whether they Justice Department lawyers bothered to read Federal law.

F.B.I. officials acknowledge shortcomings in the current approach to using gun-buying records in terror cases, but they say they are somewhat constrained by gun laws as established by Congress and interpreted by the Justice Department.
In other words:
'We (in the FBI) only enforce the laws you passed. You don't like it? Deal with it.'

* "FUN" ... the word probably should have been "GUN". A friendly reader graciously suggested that this was either a typo or a Freudian slip. Actually, this was a test. I slipped it in to see if anyone was paying attention. JD passed the test with flying colors. Thanx for the feedback! jB)

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
H. L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

Monday, March 07, 2005

Waiting for Documentation

This is a story in the Salem (the Oregon state capital) Statesman-Journal, published in the Sunday edition of March 6, 2005.

Nearly 2,000 people converged on McKay High School on Saturday to obtain services from the Mexican government.
Excuse me? Seeking to obtain services in Oregon from the MEXICAN government? They're living and working in Oregon. Why aren't they seeking to obtain services from the AMERICAN government?

They came seeking documents, information and help.

They came seeking assistance in finding a job, a place to live and securing a driver's license.

There were stories of unpaid wages, workplace discrimination and missing family members.

Oh. Okay, I get it now. These folks came to America with no prospects for work, no documentation, no authorization from their host country, and now they are upset because they can't legally drive an automobile in America. They are convinced that if they can acquire a "matricular consular card" from Mexico, they can resolved their problems. They have arrived in Oregon illegally, and now they discover that they don't have access to the same resources as have ... well ... American citizens.

Now, they're not seeking legitimization from America; only from Mexico.

As far as I know, Mexico has no special arrangement with America which established the same citizenship rights for Mexican citizens as do American citizens.

I'm pretty sure that Canada doesn't have this kind of agreement with America, either. On the other hand, most Canadian citizens who wish to move to America seem willing to jump through the bureaucratic hoops which allow them legally to reside and work in America. Likewise, American citizens who wish to move to Canada must apply for permission under a specific non-resident worker status, and must wait until the Canadian government grants them permission before they move there.

Citizens of Mexico, however, seem to assume a special status which is not codified under American law. When this assumption does not automatically result in full American citizen rights, when a job is not immediately forthcoming (when they discover that they cannot legally drive an automobile) they assume the mantle of an "underprivileged American Citizen" and demonstrate no compunction about complaining that they are the new downtrodden.

Coming to America" may have been the best idea they ever had, but they face an arduous journey in their struggle to make an living in a foreign land; a country in which opportunities are many, but they aren't legally allowed to take advantage of these opportunities.

We can sympathize with them, but one wonders what they expected when they illegally entered the country. Did they not know that it is illegal to enter the country without permission? That doesn't sound reasonable.

If I had found myself in the same situation, I would probably feel discriminated against.

Whose fault is that?

Y'ever read about a Canadian immigrant complaining that he/she can't get a driver's license?
Why do you think that is so?
Could it be because the Canadians, when they choose to immigrate, actually ... 'immigrate'?

You don't hear about Canadian Migrant Workers.
American newspapers don't print stories about how "Canadian Migrant Workers" are unable to find jobs, cash checks, or acquire drivers licenses.

Why is this?

Could it be because Canadian immigrants apply for permission before they "migrate" to another country?

Curiously, the cited story never makes it clear that the "... nearly 2,000 people [who] converged on McKay High School on Saturday to obtain services from the Mexican government ..." are people who never bothered to apply for permission from the American government to immigrate.

I wonder. If these people were a valuable asset to America, why didn't they apply for a visa?

Many countries require a visa to live and work there. (Australia is one of them!)

For example, Australia has many categories for a visa:

Does it seem curious to you that Australia lists no "unskilled labor" visa requirements?

However, under "skilled visa", the Australian website mentions:

Skilled Visa Basic Requirements
In order to satisfy labour market shortages, the Department of Immigration & Multicultural & Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) has set specific basic requirements for people who are interested in applying under the Skilled Migration Stream.

To qualify for skilled migration, you (or your partner) must be able to satisfy the basic visa requirements and meet the current pass mark. The basic visa criteria require you to meet specific age requirements, English language ability, minimum qualifications level, selection of a nominated occupation and recent work experience.

In addition to meeting the basic visa requirements, you are also required to satisfy the current points test. Points can be claimed for several items including skill, age, English language ability, specific work experience, spouse skills and other bonus categories.

That seems clear enough. Doesn't American have similar requirements?
Yes. In fact, the requierments are much more lenient than are Australia's.

What about this bizarre requirement of eligibility for Australian "government welfare"?

Government Welfare

Generally, permanent residents have the same right to claim social security benefits as Australian citizens. However, in most cases, you must meet certain residence and eligibility rules. There is a two-year waiting period for newly arrived residents - this starts from the date of arrival in Australia.

This means that once you arrive in Australia on a permanent visa, you will have to wait two years before you can claim social security payments.


So ... it appears that it's not entirely a new idea for immigrants (NOTE: not "Migrants") to bring something to the table when immigrating to a new country.
Why is America so different? Could it be because the Rio Grande is not so grande as the Pacific Ocean, and it's just physically more difficult to move from Mexico to America than it is to move from Mexico to Australia?


You may say: "Hey, Geek! Where do you get the idea that the people who the Salem Statesman - Journal are talking about are 'undocumented immigrants?"

Granted, it's not intuitively obvious from the original article. However, even a Liberal Rag like the Salem Statesman-Journal can't get away with completely obfuscating the facts. Perhaps that's why, on the same page (c0ntinued on Page 3) it offers this companion article:

This is a story about a Mexican "migrant" who is searching for her sister.

Statesman Journal
March 6, 2005

The plea came from a petite woman, eyes brimming with tears.

"Can you help me?" she asked sheepishly in Spanish. "Please help me."

And then she began.

It has been five months -- five months of sleepless nights and anguish-filled days since Ilse M. Lopez last spoke to her sister.

The siblings were separated five years ago when Lopez, 28, left their home state of Chiapas, Mexico. They were to be reunited last fall in Salem, but 40-year-old Aide M. Lopez never arrived.

Aide had saved her money to hire a smuggler to get her to Oregon. But according to reports from acquaintances on the journey, Aide sprained her ankle somewhere in the Arizona desert. The injury slowed down the group of illegal immigrants she was traveling with, and she was left behind.

... had saved her money to hire a smuggler to get her to Oregon ...

Damn! What an unfeeling, inconsiderate country America must be, to force her to save her money to hire a smuggler. And when the smuggler didn't perform as expected, whose fault is it?

Ilse has lost her sister.It could happen to anyone.
I've lost pens, sun-glasses, money and my virtue. Somehow, I've never quite managed to lose my sister.

Whether Ilse's sister is hospitalized, incarcerated or dead is anyone's guess.

And when Ilse Lopez heard that the Mexican Consulate would be in Salem on Saturday, she showed up to see what options she had.

"I love my sister," Lopez said, tears rolling down her cheeks. "She left three children in Mexico with our parents."

This is like buying a used Chevy Citation, financing it through GMAC, and suing the USA when the the car goes 'missing'.
America holds the warranty.
Lopez wrings her hands, imagining the treacherous journey that her sister embarked upon last fall.

Returning to Chiapas to seek help is not an option financially for Ilse Lopez, so she reached out to the Mexican government here.

"Financially" not an option? What are the priorities here? At least Ilse has the grace to wring her hands. (So did Pontius Pilate.)

" Luis Elias, head of the department of protection for the Mexican Consulate, urged Lopez to provide a photograph of her sister so he could request an official investigation from the consular offices in Arizona."

In the midst of all this negative commentary on Ms. Lopez's attempts to find out what happened to her sister, it appears that something positive may occur after all.

I'm confused by all of this ... comentary ... from the Statesman Journal. Ilse Lopez seems to be a caring, loving person. She is worried about her sister, understandably so.

But what about the conditions which are so hopeless that the mother of three feels the only opportunity she has is to illegally enter a foreign country ... at great risk of her own life? I'm sure that Aide struggled to find an answer which would allow her to stay with her children. It must have been a difficult decision for her to make.

Who's the villain here? It doesn't seem to be either of the two sisters, who are only trying to make a decent living. It can't be America, which only wishes to preserve the integrity of its own borders (an even more vital consideration, in this age of terrorism.)

We're running out of candidates for villainism here. The only one I can see is the Mexican Government.

Sure, they're willing to set up a booth in Oregon where their citizens wait all day for a minimum of help.

Where were they when their citizens found themselves in such mean circumstances that their only hope was to leave their families, their children, and risk their lives in a venture which, under the most benign turn of events, will require years of separation and hard work before they can be reunited?

I have a great deal of respect for Mexican 'migrants'. Those whom I've met are hard workers; honest, decent people who only want to make a decent living for their families.

But there are 'the other kind' as well. Predators, who find the pickings much richer in a richer land. How is America to sort them out?

It's not Mexico's problem. The Mexican government is perfectly willing to export both their indigent and their predators, and then to criticize the U.S. government for the way we deal with their emmigrants.

There are no good solutions here. But if there were, the best would be for Mexico to take care of its citizens ; to provide jobs, a decent standard of living, and the kind of social welfare for which it seems to prefer that America accepts the responsibility.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Even More Blogmeat!

Y'know how, every now and then when you're surfing the web, you come upon articles that you find interesting and you want to save for later reference? Sometimes, you actually go back and read them again. Usually, though, they end up being ignored for no better reason than that there's always something new to be read.

One advantage of a personal web log ("blog") is that you can preserve them for quasi-posterity, and even share them with others. These oh-so-interesting websites thus graduate from the status of "interesting things I have read" to "BLOGMEAT!"

I keep the URL's for these websites in my 'favorites' folder (which, by the way, is HUGE!) and from time to time I share a random selection here. Some folks do this all the time, and it constitutes the bulk of their blog. But I keep them just so I can parcel them out pusilanimously, reviewing them fondly in a manner reminiscent of orgasmic dribbles, so I can share the best of the best. That is to say, even if YOU don't appreciate them, I find them fascinating.

Well, it's my blog and I can do anything I want.

It may not be The Best Of The Web, but I like it!

Top of the list today, The Geek is mentioned by Resistance is Futile! (a Eugene, Oregon RKBA Blogger) in his Carnival of Cordite #3. (Note the link to this website on this sidebar.)

The Los Angeles Times sucks up to the Dear Leader (or whatever he demands to be called) in a recently blogged-to-death article titled North Korea, Without Rancor. Didn't we forgive CNN for proselytizing Sodom Hussein for the sake of "access" in such a manner last year?

From New Scientist:
The US military is funding development of a weapon that delivers a bout of excruciating pain from up to 2 kilometres away. Intended for use against rioters, it is meant to leave victims unharmed. But pain researchers are furious that work aimed at controlling pain has been used to develop a weapon. And they fear that the technology will be used for torture.

Malaysia News Online introduces a five-year-old boy who walks, runs and plays with other children his age even though he is no bigger than the stuffed toys I give to my grandchildren.

Arizona Central, one of my favorite news sites, quotes USA Today in describing the latest ID Theft problems of ChoicePoint. This kind of data-abuse affects even such blogosphere luminaries as Andrew Sullivan. We're all vulnerable to this abuse of confidence, and it doesn't matter who you are when the ID coyotes raid the chicken coop.

"Working For A Change" offers sage advice on how to "Argue Like A Conservative".
(NOTE there is no link in the sidebar for this website. We'll show you how to argue like a Liberal!)

The San Diego Union Tribune , offers a poll which opines that:

A majority of Mexican migrants living and working in the United States would be willing to participate in a temporary-worker program, according to a recent nationwide survey, even many of those who say they would prefer to stay in the country indefinitely.
Uh, well ... yes. Considering that this includes a large number of 'migrants' who are in the U.S. illegally, it stands to reason that they would be in favor of a 'temporary-worker program", since this might legitimize their illegal residence in the United States.

More on this later, in a subsequent essay on migrant workers in Oregon.

"Bootfinder" is a new system being used in Conneticut to randomly search automible license plates and match them with 'tax delinquets'. When a car is found to belong to an owner who has not payed all current taxes due to The State, then The State knows where to find ... and confiscate! ... the car.
Big Brother is not just an Orwellian fantasy. He's alive, and well, in Connecticut

Oh. You're already familiar with Orwellian fantasies? Well, it is about to come to the Web.
FEC to extend campaign-finance to Web
Commissioner warns of threat to blogs, online punditry
Be afraid.
Be very afraid.