Thursday, January 06, 2011

The constitution protects the rights of ... who?

Okay, consider this a High-School Civics Test.

No wait! It's a Supreme Court challenge of the most basic precepts of the Constitution of the United States!

Is there any difference between the two questions? Should there be?

The first .. the Civics test... wonders what we are teaching our new citizens today.

The second .. the SCOTUS .. wonders what we will be teaching our new citizens "tomorrow".

And who are our "new citizens"? Does this include only the children of today's citizens, or does it include naturalized citizens? Resident Aliens? Temporary (but legal) migrant workers? Illegal aliens?

Who is granted (acknowledged?) protections under the Constitution of the United States of America?

Let's look at the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
This enumeration of "our" rights; acknowledges freedom of religion, freedom of speech and of the press, freedom to gather ("in protest?") and to petition.

Who is here granted the right to worship as he or she pleases? Is it only natural born citizens? Natives or Naturalized? Immigrants, visitors, interlopers?

Who has the RIGHT to march with a La Raza flag and sign on our nation's streets?

Who would deny ANYONE that right, in America?

How about the Fifth Amendment?

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Who is protected against Double Jeopardy? Who protected from being impelled to bear witness against himself? Who may be imprisoned without a trial, or be deprived of his home?

For that matter, in regarding the Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Who is protected, constitutionally, against unwarranted search and seizure?


In America today there are many definitions of "The People", and it is so confusing that you and I are sometimes not only not certain who constitutes "The People", but we have no clear guidance, especially in the Constitution, to define what this body of people may be.

Sure, we have amendments to ascertain and define that much of the 14th Amendment was composed to address this question:

Note: Article I, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of the 14th amendment.

Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

This may be a clear and definitive description of those people whose rights under the Constitution may be applied: namely "citizens of the United States and of the State in which they reside".

That last part may be confusing to you, though. It is to me.

Should we assume that the only persons resident in the United States who are "citizens" enjoy the Constitutional Rights here defined?


For example, if a person is not a Citizen (either natural born, or naturalized),. may he publish a newspaper, meet with his neighbors to discuss Important Issues, freely practice his chosen religion, and be free from warrantless search?

Or do those who do not have the right to define themselves as "Citizens" not also have the right to enjoy constitutional guarantees?

I draw your attention to the Second Paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
Do "all men" find themselves under the protection of the Constitution, regardless of their legal status? We have generally accepted that certain classes of men .. felons, the insane, children who are too young to exercise the judgment which comes from maturity and experience .. may not be either entitled or competent to enjoy certain rights, at least until their individual situation changes.


But if "all men" is no more limiting than that "all men" be sane, mature and responsible people, and if these rights are ordained by God and not by The State .. .then do all Amendments of the Bill of Rights apply equally? Isn't this the basis of our American Society.

(Note that the 13'th, 14'th, 15'th and 19'th Amendments include more classes of people who have the right to vote ... does this define "citizen"? Is it the sole criteria of :people who are (citizens / legally resident . otherwise not legal, but resident) in the United States who are granted the "God given" right to liberty ... by The State?)

We who demand an all-encompassing "Individual Right" according to the Second Amendment have been vocal for decades in demanding that right be applied "universally", because it is a "God-given Right" and not 'granted' by the state.

But now we find ourselves having to deal with the question: what of a person who is a legal resident is not a "Citizen". Does the Second Amendment apply to him as well and as thoroughly and as definitively as it applies to "us"? We who may have born in this great country? Those whose most enduring monument is the Stature of Liberty, which enduring motto includes the phrase: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

How high do we lift that lamp; how many are TRULY welcome through that golden door?

Many of us are disrespectful of the American Civil Liberties Union, because it has presented and argued against issues which we intuitively believe should stand without need for defense. We believe that our definition/interpretation of the Constitution is obvious.

But is it?

Those of us in that assumptive group also believe that the Constitution is a rigid uncomprimising traditional, uncontroversial body of law, and those who disagree with our interpretation should, if they are sincere in their controversial beliefs, be willing to mount a movement to change the Constitution, rather than to "re-interpret" it to meet the "Interpretation De Jour".


Now we are met with an issue which challenges our most sacred beliefs, and to our astonishment we discover that there are multiple interpretations which may not both be true in accordance with our individual belief systems.

ACLU Sues to Protect Immigrant's Gun Rights From Change in South Dakota Law - FoxNews.com

We are here challenged to decide whether the constitution as written may be interpreted to deny Constitutional rights to (legal) residents who are not Citizens.

That is, specifically, the 2nd Amendment:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
That statement is obviously NOT worded to include issues of citizenship, or membership in any definitive body: The "Collective Rights" folks, who we have opposed for so long and have attempted to define it as supporting a governmentally sponsored, say that it has nothing at all to do with the citizenship of the individual, as long as that individual is a member of the "army:". We, however, have rejected that interpretation, and made it clear that it is an INDIVIDUAL right irrespective of support from the State.

(But are we really that sure about this point?)

And .. what individuals may legitimately lay claim to this right?

The egregious Dred Scott decision, made by the Supreme Court of the United States, includes may arguments (and they of the SCOTUS were then honorable men) discussing how and why Negros would not and should not be counted as 'citizens'; not the least of which is that they were NOT entered into the country as 'immigrant's, willingly, but that they were universally brought into the country as "property".

Also, and this is the most frequently quoted portion of the judgementl we should consider it a 'telling' reflection of the bias of the SCOTUS at that time (although we are assured that the current SCOTUS has no comparable bias or 'hidden agenda': (quoted directly from FINDLAW):

The legislation of the States therefore shows, in a manner not to be mistaken, the inferior and subject condition of that race at the time the Constitution was adopted, and long afterwards, throughout the thirteen States by which that instrument was framed; and it is hardly consistent with the respect due to these States, to suppose that they regarded at that time, as fellow-citizens and members of the sovereignty, a class of beings whom they had thus stigmatized; whom, as we are bound, out of respect to the State sovereignties, to assume they had deemed it just and necessary thus to stigmatize, and upon whom they had impressed such deep and enduring marks of inferiority and degradation; or, that when they met in convention to form the Constitution, they looked upon them as a portion of their constituents, or designed to include them in the provisions so carefully inserted for the security and protection of the liberties and rights of their citizens. It cannot be supposed that they intended to secure to them rights, and privileges, and rank, in the new political body throughout the Union, which every one of them denied within the limits of its own dominion. More especially, it cannot be believed that the large slaveholding States regarded them as included in the word citizens, or would have consented to a Constitution which might compel them to receive them in that character from another State. For if they were so received, and entitled to the privileges and immunities of citizens, it would exempt them from the operation of the special laws and from the police [60 U.S. 393, 417] regulations which they considered to be necessary for their own safety. It would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognised as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a white man would be punished; and it would give them the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went. And all of this would be done in the face of the subject race of the same color, both free and slaves, and inevitably producing discontent and insubordination among them, and endangering the peace and safety of the State.
So we are given directly from history the most awful ruling of SCOTUS , based entirely on race and the dubious but well defined principle of "involuntary servitude" which is deemed not to qualify a human being for consideration under the Bill of Rights because .... come ON guys! .. the dude didn't want to be here in the first place, so why should we give him the same consideration which is naturally ceded to those folks who WANTED to be here?

(This argument, given the time in history, carefully avoids the question of "involuntary servitude" which may or may not characterize the ancestors of not a few men who were arguing the case .. and judging it.)

I ask you once again.
Upon what basis would you deny a person, who is resident within the geographic boundaries of the United States of America, the right to the full protection under law of the Constitution of the United States of America? Any clause, any amendment, any nuance?

If Dred Scott was denied Constitutional Protection because he was not a "voluntary immigrant", then what of the rights of those who are today "voluntary immigrants"?

Bell's Palsy

Here's the good news: I didn't have a stroke or even a "TIA".

The bad news? You can't tell by looking at me, because I look just as weirdly lop-sided as someone who has suffered a stroke.

According to the Mayo Clinic, it "... occurs when the nerve that controls facial muscles on one side of your face becomes swollen or inflamed. As a result of Bell's palsy, your face feels stiff. Half your face appears to droop, your smile is one-sided, and your eye resists closing. "

Well, that is a fair description of it. and WebMD has even more information:

The nerve damage may also affect your sense of taste and how you make tears and saliva. This condition comes on suddenly, often overnight, and usually gets better on its own within a few weeks.

Bell's palsy is not the result of a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA). While stroke and TIA can cause facial paralysis, there is no link between Bell's palsy and either of these conditions. Palsy simply means weakness or paralysis.

The cause of Bell's palsy is not clear. Most cases are thought to be caused by the herpes virus that causes cold sores.
I had trouble sleeping Monday night, because I had a stiff neck. The neck muscle on the left side, behind my ear, hurt to distraction. I tried a couple of aspirin and still didn't get much sleep.

Wednesday I was halfway through the day when I noticed that my lips felt numb. That evening I realized that I could feel it when I touched my lips, but they just felt ... weird. It was just like after you've been to the dentist and later the Novocain wears off ... you can't quite get the feeling that you can control your mouth.

This morning I was getting ready for work and realized that I couldn't control my left eye. My eyes were watering and I tried to squeeze my eyes shut. My left eye wouldn't squeeze. With experimentation, I found I could close both eyes normally, as if I were sleeping. But I couldn't wink my left eye; which was strange, because I've always been able to wink with each eye independently.

So I looked in the mirror and sure enough, the left side of my mouth drooped, the lips looked somehow thinner on that side than the right side. When I open my mouth, it's a great teardrop shape rather than round. So much for me singing the Hallelujah Chorus. Or whistling "Dixie".

I called my doctor and described my symptoms to my doctor; the left side of my face feels numb, and I don't have any motor controls on that side, and there's a pain on my left side behind my ear.

I didn't tell them I thought I might have had a stroke. This is fear fighting with denial. It has always worked well with me.

They cleared some time for me in the schedule, and I went in to see the doctor this afternoon.

When the nurse came in to get me out of the waiting room, she mentioned as she walked me into the Treatment room: "Well, looks like you have a good case of "Bell's Palsy".

Huh?

Turns out it's better than having a stroke, because they can treat this. Just take a few pills a day for a couple of weeks, and it will go away.

So it's all fix-able, but there are only 3 problems:
  1. Sense of taste is all messed up; nothing tastes good, except for very strong flavored foods. I'll be eating sausage, garlic, and sour-cream-and-onion potato chips for a while.
  2. My manly visage is twisted horribly (?) out of shape, ruining my regular features. You may think this is no great loss, but at this moment there are hundreds of young virgins weeping.
  3. The eyelid, according to the doctor, may not close while I'm sleeping. This causes the cornea to dry out, possibly causing permanent damage to the cornea. I have to use eyedrops regularly, and at night I have to tape my eyelid shut and then tape a gauze patch over it. Fortunately, I found a black eyepatch so I can still look handsome even in my sleep.


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Dead Zero


I walked out to the mailbox this morning, and it was just like Christmas. I found Stephen Hunter's new "Bob the Nailer" book Dead Zero in the familiar plain brown cardboard wrapper, and settled in with a cup of coffee to read it.

I have deliberately not read any pre-publishing notes, or the end-wrapper notes on the book jacket. So I don't have any idea what the book's about. And so, I have no preconceptions.

Kind of kewl, right? I've read all the other Hunter books after a humungous amount of press releases (except for the first one I read ... "Point of Impact" ... which was a serendipitous event and made me believe in tooth fairies and Leprecauns), so I've almost always started reading Hunter books with a certain amount of preconception.

Not this time.

I don't even know if "Bob the Nailer" is mentioned in the book, let alone know the general plot. Which in a way is a blessing, after the disappointments of some of Hunter's books such as "Havana" and "The 47'th Samurai".

So I just spent a few minutes on the couch with Stephen Hunter, and if you'll try to resist the temptation to read anything sexual into the statement, I'm really turned on.

No matter what the rest of the book looks like, just judging from the first ten pages, "Dead Zero" reads like the very best of the W.E.B. Griffin books .. on steroids.

Watch this space.

No blogging until I've finished the book. Then MAYBE I'll have the energy left to confirm or deny my original impression.

BTW .... Hobo Brasser, you one-book-out-of-the-series book lender; buy your own copy. You don't want to wait until the snow melts in Oregon before you borrow my copy.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Note on Sidebar Changes

When I recently reported on the new format and database for the USPSA website, I neglected to change this website to accomodate the changes.

I have had a "search for your USPSA Classifier Scores" widget on my sidebar. I have deleted it, as it no longer functions.

If I find a replacement widget, I'll install it at some future date.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Cleaning Compensators

Everyone who owns an Open pistol knows that the most difficult part of cleaning it is to clean out the caked gunpowder residue in the Compensator ports. This stuff achieves the consistency of concrete within seconds, and it builds up with every shot taken. By the time one has completed a match, there is at least an hour's worth of effort to clean it out with knife, screwdriver, dental pick, and/or whatever your favorite tool may be.

Over the years SWMBO and I have attempted to make the effort more ... well, effortless ... by soaking the compensator in various solvents. Hoppes #9 seems to be the best solvent found so far, but that is only by virtue of imbuing the room with the wonderfully manly aroma of the solution; we havent' found that it aids significantly in actually softening the residue, or making it easier to remove.

The best solvent seems to be old-fashioned "elbow grease". Cursing may help, but that depends on the individual character .. or lack of it.

I noticed several years ago that there are various electrolytic systems on the market which promise to make it much easier to remove metal fouling (lead, copper) from the grooves in a barrel. They usually involve submersing the barrel in a special liquid and inserting an electrode or two into it, and then running electricity through the whole arrangement. I haven't tried that, since my primary concern is to remove gunpowder residue, which I suspect has no chemical properties which will lend itself to electrolysis.

But I may be wrong.

So my question to you is: does anyone know of any process other than the extravagant (and time-consuming) application of elbow grease to clean the powder residue from compensators?

I don't mind admitting my ignorance, so please don't spare my feelings when you reply: "Hey, Geek, where have you been? The XYZ Company has been marketing the MacDonald's Magical Powder Residue machine for years; it's inexpensive, it works overnight, and every body else is already using it!"

Oh dear, I DO hope such a wonderful solution (excuse the pun) is available.

New Year Prognostications, Part I: Air Security

Every year about this time, we read predictions from wise people about what the next twelve months will bring. (And sometimes, people even follow up the following January to report on how well their prognostications were fullfilled .. or not.)

I've got a couple of ideas about what the next year may look like, but I haven't thought them all through; that is, I haven't extended them to their logical absurdity. So I'll start out with one (which may be #10), and for now I'll merely present that one:

#10: TSA and Airplane Safety: By the end of 2010, people will no longer be permitted the same laxity in air travel as they have before. Everyone will be required to strip before entering the plane, and will spend the entire flight (no matter the distance) entirely nude. That especially applies to international flights bound for American ports. Rather than sitting in chairs ... eww, nasty with naked people! ... they will be strapped to hand-trucks ala Hannibal Lecter in "Silence of the Lambs" and will be "parked" in a standing-up position with their hand-trucks locked to tie-downs on the floor of the passenger cabin. For sanitary purposes, the floors will be bare metal, not carpeted, and will feature drains in the floor. This will make it easier to route the water when the cabin attendents perform their single remaining responsibility ... hosing down the floor on an hourly basis, since no passengers will be allowed to exit their "security module" for potty breaks.

The exquisite beauty of this scheme is that it eliminates completely the need for intrusive scanning and body search.


(I would appreciate some help here. Anyone who has questions about what the year 2011 will bring is invited to submit suggestions in the COMMENTS area. Or perhaps you have your own predictions on your favorite topic?)

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Reading

For the last couple of weeks I've been doing a lot of reading, mainly focusing on a couple of new authors.

Greg Iles:
Iles writes in the mystery/adventure mode, most stories are centered in his home state of Mississippi and many in the exotic (oldest city on the Mississippi river? in America?) of Natches. It is a measure of his writing skill that I now wish to visit Natches almost as much as I wish to visit Charlotte, and Savannah.

Iles has a 'core' cast of characters who he often includes in apparently "otherwise unrelated" stories. At the same time, he manages to make each book unique and always entertaining.

It's interesting to look at the back-cover pictures of the authors. In the case of Iles, based purely on his photographs, I wouldn't be surprised to have him walk up to me on the mean streets of Corvallis, Oregon and beg me for loose change; although I would be even more likely to see him camped on the concrete doorsteps of the local "Curves" building between the beltline feeder street and the newest Safeway store, with his mangy cur mutt and his cardboard sign declaring him a Vietnam Veteran willing to work for food .. in hopes of a handout from the lady of the house through the passenger-side window (rolled down only a couple of inches). He is THAT weird looking!

I think that the very best, most innovative writers are probably weird looking. Distinguished looking best-selling authors such as James Patterson and John Sandford tend to write according to a strict formula, and early in their career take on a coterie of 'co-authors'; "apprentices" who perhaps do all the work under nominal guidance from their best-seller "master". (Okay, that last part probably applies more to Patterson than to Sandford.)

Andrew Klaven:
I first "met" Andrew Klaven as a supporting member of the PJTV universe. There he "plays" a befuddled man striving mightily but with little success as an apologist for the Obama Administration. Last Christmas (2009) he read a 5-part Ghost Story, not all of which I was able to read before PJTV changed their membership policy, and I was (and still am) unwilling to spend as little as $5/month to subscribe to the "premium" and archived articles.

But when I was searching for Greg Iles books last month, I noticed that on the bookshelf section to the right of the "I-books", there was a section of "K-books" and Andrew Klaven's name caught my eye. I bought one of his books ("Shotgun Alley") and after I had read all of the Iles books that I bought last week, I then read the Klaven book.


This week when I went to the book store, I bought the two remaining unread Iles books ... and a half-dozen of the Klaven books.

It was only after I read Klaven's 1995 book "True Crime" .. which was made into a major motion picture starring Clint Eastwood ... that I realized that I had bought not only the original book, I had also bought the version which came after the release of the motion picture.

Well, I was in a Feeding Frenzy and I didn't realize my duplicated effort until I sorted them all out. Anyone want an almost-new, almost-unread of "True Crime"? I can get it for you wholesale.

Klaven as a writer is not much like Iles. In the first place, his cover-jacket photo is much more "normal". In fact, it's hard to reconcile his 1995 photo with his 2010 appearance on the Internet videos. He originally had some close-cropped hair, and a close-cropped beard. Today on PJTV, he is entirely smooth shaven on both pate and chin. The only clues are the shape of the nose, the chin, and the eyes. But his website makes it clear that not only is he both presenter and author, but he is still writing mystery/adventure stories.

I find that oddly comforting.

He is also unlike Iles in that he has a strict formula (in the books which I have so far read; I admit that I have not read enough to discern a departure from the formula) in his creations. The Klaven book I'm currently reading, "The Occult", seems to be different in the first hour of reading from his previous books ... but then, he has a mini-series which he seems to return to occasional, and I haven't read enough of his work to discern the common characteristics of his authorship. I'm hoping that his formula applies mainly to his mini-series; or if not that, then the organization by chapters reflects his publisher more than it does his personal style.

By this time next week, I may be sufficiently familiar with his work to provide a more definitive characterization. I'm holding the last Greg Iles book as "desert" after I wrap up the current collection of Klaven. Who knows? Maybe by the time I finish I may consider Klaven to be the desert, and Iles the entree'.

Summary:
I initially started reading Iles because my so-called friend, the egregious Hobo Brasser (who regularly swaps books with me) included in his latest return "The Turning Angel" by Iles. As is usually the case .. he did the same thing to me by including one copy of Vince Flynn in 2009, and so far it has cost me over $50 $100 to find, buy and read all of Flynn's other "Mitch Rapp" novels. He did the same thing to me in 2007 with Lee Childs' "Reacher" novels.

I have most of the Iles novels, and perhaps half of the Klaven novels (published to date).

You can be sure that I will provide The Hobo Brasser with a couple of Iles books ... those with repeating characters and an obviously incomplete story .. and a similar selection of Klaven novels as well. It is my most fervent hope that I cause my so-called "friend" a similar economic hardship, if only to make a point.

Besides, that, I'll do it because I'm essentially a vindictive S.O.B.
And because I can.

Officers and Ungentle Men

Spurred by a comment in a Michael Bane blog, I was tempted last week to read "Principles of Personal Defense", by the late Col. Jeff Cooper. When I ordered the book from Amazon.com, I noticed that "People who read this book often also read" the seminal work on Handgun Combat "No Second Place Winner" by William Henry Jordan ... Bill Jordan, as most of us probably know him.

The Cooper book (paperback pamphlet, 79 pages) cost $8.88; the Jordan book (hardbound book, 115 pages) cost $15.95. With $4.98 in shipping charges, it was significantly more economical to order them both together. And I've always wanted to read the Jordan book.

I ordered them just before Christmas; they were delivered on Friday.

Today I spent 2 hours and read them both. They had very little in common; Cooper was talking about Principles, and nothing at all about tactics, techniques, or equipment. Jordan, on the other hand, spent most of his time on the latter and little on the former. It occurs to me that they were two complimentary works, while noting that much of what Jordan had to say was dated by technological changes in firearms, ammunition and auxiliary equipment. Is it fair to say that Jordan's writing is "timeless", but Cooper's is "even more timeless"?

Principles of Personal Defense:

Colonel Jeff Cooper spent some quality time in the military (hence the "Colonel" designation), and later went on to found and run one of the Premier combat training ranges in the world. Thunder Ranch* Gunsite Academy established the Gold Standard of firearms training, and it is not by accident that he is sometimes referred to as "The Guru"

The book .. again, actually more of a "pamphlet" than a book, is organized to present his Seven Principles of Personal Defense.

  1. Alertness
  2. Decisiveness
  3. Aggressiveness
  4. Speed
  5. Coolness
  6. Ruthlessness
  7. Surprise
The list of Principles underscores that he wrote in terms of "Personal Defense", not for the service officer (either military or Law Enforcement). This concept has to do with one man finding himself in a situation where he must defend himself against an aggressor. It's especially noteworthy that Principle 6: "Ruthlessness", is absolutely not 'appropriate' to a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO). LEO's may well find themselves in a situation where Ruthlessness is needed, but it is decidedly not appropriate for a Public Servant to openly cultivate that quality. The common motto "To Protect, And To Serve" is not served by ruthless men.

On the other hand, it may be an unspoken necessary quality in men whose career choice is expected to lead him into confrontational situations on a frequent basis.

Here is part of what Cooper has to say on the subject:

"Anyone who willfully and maliciously attacks another without sufficient cause deserves no consideration. ... The attacker must be stopped --- at once, and completely. [Y]our first concern is to stay alive. Let your attacker worry about his life. Don't hold back. Strike no more after he is incapable of further action, but see that he is stopped. The law forbids you to take revenge, but it permits you to prevent. ... Take no chances. Put him out."
[Emphasis in the original text]

It is obvious in both this, and his other writings (especially including both Volumes 1 and 2 of "The Gargantuan Gunsite Gossip", where he refers to aggressors as "Goblins") that Cooper has no respect for the right of those predators to enjoy continued existence at a body temperature above room temperature.

Cooper's purpose here is clearly to encourage the reader to do whatever is necessary to avoid thermodynamic equilibrium.

No Second Place Winner:

Bill Jordan enjoyed decades of experience as a U.S. Border Patrol Officer on our Southern Border. Not to put too fine a point on it, in his own words, he spent the most productive years of his life as a federal officer charged with regulating predations of, as he unashamedly (and politically incorrectly) identified as "Pistoleros, Narcotrafficantos, and wetbacks". Many of his 'normal' engagements began in the dark of night, along the Mexican Border, with the Border Patrol announcement: "Manos Arriba! Federales!" (Hand Up! Federal Officers!)

He might as well have said "Let the Dance Begin!", for that is the not uncommon outcome of this introduction.

From that point on, the miscreants responded in either of two ways: either surrender and return to the Happy Mexican Ways, or a shootout in the dark, with the only light the muzzle flash of their guns. (Which, according to Jordan, was often the only indicator of who was armed. He mentioned that they made fine aiming points.)

Yes, there are a few War Stories there; most of them were identified as primarily being a way to pad the page-count of the book and make it 'entertaining', as suggested by his agent.

Most of the book, however (and in contrast to the Cooper book), was preoccupied by a discussion of weapons, equipment, tactics and other "technical stuff".

Just in passing:
  • If you want to practice with your revolver without spending too much money, it's a good idea to make 'wax bullets' -- he provides detailed instructions on how to roll your own;
  • Revolvers are a better combat handgun than automatics ("Yes I know ..." that they're actually Semi-Automatic Pistols) because he's an LEO and is obliged to use Factory Ammunition. The .45 ACP is probably the best of the bunch, but FMJ ammo is not very effective and semi-wadcutters are not reliably fed into autos.
  • The best stopping round available in revolvers is the .357 Magnum
  • The VERY best stopping round in revolvers is the .41 magnum, and within ten years (the book was published in 1965) there will probably be enough manufacturers of .41 Magnum pistols that they will replace the .357 for police departments across the country
  • Equipment: best holster leaves the trigger exposed, is hip-mounted, and includes a metal 'shank' in the suspension of the holster so it can present the revolver vertical, grip away from the body, and it can be bent and/or twisted so that when you draw the gun you get "a fistful of gun", rather than "a fistful of everything"
  • "Practical Pistol Competition" is better than no "high pressure at all" training, but its emphasis is on competition, not on survival in a combat situation
  • The 'grip' on a double-action pistol which is best used for "long range" shooting (over 25 yards) includes having the left thumb over the right wrist; this allows the shooter to easily re-cock the hammer for single-action shooting; otherwise, the left thumb should be overlapped by the right thumb
  • Most pistol (read: "revolver" in this as in most discussions) grips are not what we might call "ergonomic"; they either don't fit the hand, or they fit the hand 'wrong' as they don't accept the weight of the pistol on the 2nd finger of the right hand, and they tend to force the hand down toward the butt of the pistol. (This is just wrong in so many ways, when you may have to take multiple shots.)
Techniques of the draw; the trigger pull; the sight picture (necessary only at distances in excess of 25 yards, when shooting at a human target); point-shooting as an essential element of fast-draw combat shooting ... these elements and more are covered by Jordan and one cannot fault his expertise as he has demonstrably excelled in all of these areas.

Equipment requirements of the pistol, the sights (when used), the grip, the ammunition, the holster; training, practice -- all of these elements and more are covered by Jordan in this, the recognized most authoritarian work on Combat Shooting.

And rightly so.

Some of Jordan's prognostications do not take place. He predicted that the .41 magnum cartridge would replace the .357 magnum; that didn't happen. In fact, the FBI tried to introduce the 10mm (.40 magnum?) and found that it wasn't acceptable to agents any more than the .41 magnum was accepted by police forces.

Why? Because the average agent or LEO wasn't willing to "man up" to the increased perceived recoil of either cartridge.

Actually, I don't much blame them. They were accustomed to either 9mm or .38 Special cartridges, and compared to that the 1omm and .41 Magnum were bears .. hard to get use to, and the recoil included some pretty intimidating muzzle-flip, compared to the cartridges they (the agents and the LEOs) had grown accustomed to.

NOTE: Long after Jordan's book was published, Smith & Wesson came out with pistols chambered in the .40S&W (Smith and Wesson, although I tend to refer to them as "Slow and Wimpy" ... because it offends people, and because I can) which was actually a fairly acceptable compromise between the .38/9mm and .41m/10mm. It took a while to get accustomed to the (slight) difference in perceived recoil, but it wasn't intimidating. Read: scarey. And lots of pistol manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon and provided (semi-automatic) pistols in that caliber. Smith&Wesson, Colt, and even foreign interlopers such as Glock and Sig Sauer.

Sure, there was a period of KaBOOMS! type experiences with pistols in that caliber, until (a) the manufacturers decided that merely using 9mm-built pistols in the new caliber wasn't enough .. they needed to consider using .45acp-built pistols because the new cartridge was closer to the .45acp than to the 9mm; and (b) they needed to use fully-supported chambered barrels to managed the increased pressures; and specifically IPSC competitors needed to avoid using the really-really fast gunpowders, and to load the cartridge with a LONG over-all length, because seating the bullet too deep into the .40S&W case tended to create really monstrous over-pressures on a cartridge that wasn't really built for that kind of pressure.

But those learning-curve experiences, and the technological changes which were the result, happened LONG after Bill Jordan put his two cents worth of (very usable) advice into 115 pages of surprisingly well-written and exceedingly readable lore.

Yes, some of what Jordan wrote has been obviated by technological advances which he couldn't possibly have foreseen. And much of what he wrote in 1965 may have been obviated, but that doesn't mean that what he said wasn't universally legitimate, reasonable and (generally speaking) very good advice.

Anyone who picks up a revolver today with the expectation of using his advice in either a combat or a competitive application will find that, except for the unexpected technological innovations which he could not have anticipated (such as various effective ammunition for, and changes in the design of the 1911 pistol), every word in his books is golden.

Just pure 24 caret gold. And I don't care if I am a 1911 bigot. Reading Bill Jordan gives you the pure pleasure of sharing the thoughts of a man who really knows what the hell he's talking about, and speaks intelligibly and entertainingly.

* Thanks to Guy for correcting my error. Cooper did indeed establish Gunsite Academy, not Thunder Ranch.

Anniversary

Cogito Ergo Geek quietly celebrated the end of its seventh year of production on December 15, 2010. With a mere 315,000 hits to date, nobody can claim that this is one of the most popular websites on the internet ... after all, it was considered a slow week by the estimable Kim du Toit when he didn't meet or exceed that level of readership, and on occasion he met that number in a single day.

On the other hand, I'm holding down a full time job and for the past couple of years I've been spending most of my off-work hours with SWMBO, so I consider my blogging time vs "having a life" time to be appropriately proportioned.

I haven't been blogging much at all for the past six months, but starting this week I expect to be spending a great deal more time typing on this keyboard.

(I say "this keyboard", but that's merely an expression. Last week I spilled an entire glass of ice water on my hi-tech WiFi keyboard, and after two days of drying out it still typed nonsense syllables. Many of you might exclaim in surprise that I noticed the difference, but that's probably due less to my spelling and composition skills than your low-brow expectations. I've replaced my keyboard with an older hard-wired version, and I miss my WiFi conveniences; on the other hand, this keyboard was used for such a short time before being replaced, the white letters on the black keys are not worn away. Better spelling is one expected consequence.)

Even when I was plagued by low productivity, I noticed that I was still registering at least a couple of hundred 'hits' per day. On my best days, such as when I was running a series like "Encoded Ammunition" and "Microstamping Ammunition", or when I was reporting daily on Major Matches such as the "Dundee Annual Croc Match" I often approached 700 - 800 hits per day.

The low-traffic days have been my most rewarding. I'm aware that those days were defined by the "Usual Suspects". These are often folks who know me personally or have corresponded with me and habitually check in for a few seconds just to see if I've posted anything new. My apologies for frequent "disappointments" should be in order, but knowing that I tend to over-write, I suspect that days when I had nothing to say (or no initiative to write it) may have been greeted with a modicum of relief on your part.

This may not be one of those days.


Thank you all for your patronage, for your support during good times and bad, for your continued readership, and especial thanks to Regular Readers such as "Antipoda" ... Bob, you have GOT to get a life!

We now return you to our Regularly Scheduled Programming.

Lunar Eclipse

December 21, 2010 -- Total Lunar Eclipse of the Moon!

I missed it. Did you?

Here's a second chance, a video using time-lapse photography. Don't have to go outside in the snow, and you don't have to stand around waiting for something to happen.

No, don't thank me. It's all part of the service.

Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse from William Castleman on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Court stunned by 'mutiny' from jury pool over marijuana case -

Court stunned by 'mutiny' from jury pool over marijuana case -:

"Attorneys in Montana had to work out a plea agreement after potential jurors revolted in a pot case and made it clear that they would not convict someone for possessing a tiny amount of marijuana, The Missoulian newspaper reports.

As the jury pool was being polled in Missoula last week, most of the 27 potential panelists, one after the other, said they would not convict for possession of a 16th of an ounce of pot.

One juror even wondered why the county was wasting time and money prosecuting the case at all, the newspaper reports, quoting Deputy Missoula County Attorney Andrew Paul.

'I thought, 'Geez, I don't know if we can seat a jury,'' District Judge Dusty Deschamps, who called a recess, said after polling the potential jurors."
The case in point ("Cornell") reflects the opinion of a jury which, if it had found the defendant guilty of possessing a small amount of marijuana, would have been obliged to sentence the defendant to a greater penalty than they felt reasonable, given the facts as they were presented.

I have not mentioned Jury Nullification here before, but I agree with David Friedman. (The Beacon, December 23, 2010: "Jurors' Moral Duty".) Sometimes the law is much more harsh than it should reasonably be in the opinion of the jury; this is the opportunity, the right, and perhaps the obligation of jury members to correct the moral inequity of egregious laws.

The United States Government is organized so that the three branches of government ... executive, legislative and judicial ... act as checks and balances on each other.

But this nation is predicated on the rights of the individual, and sometimes people just seem to "fall through the cracks" of laws which are passed, courts which impose excessive sentences for minor offenses, and an executive who is unlikely to rectify a perceived wrong.

Yes, when the system works the result might be that the executive over-rules judges who apply the strict rule of law to situations which may lead to excessively punitive sentences. A good recent example of this might be when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie commuted the sentence of a man who was sentenced to 7 years for having guns ... legally obtained in Colorado ... for having unloaded firearms in the trunk of his car.

The jury in that specific case had asked the judge for clarification of fine points of the state laws, but since the judge declined to respond they felt obliged to find the defendant guilty as charged, which resulted in a 7-year prison sentence for defendant Brian Aitken. The jury, believed that the sentence was excessive but felt that they lacked the power to ignore the implied direction from the judge and find him not guilty .. which was obviously their preferred judgment.


The case originally cited ("Cornell") would have imprisoned a defendant who possessed a small amount of marijuana to a similarly long period of incarceration. Rather than to drag the Executive Branch (governor, in this case) into the discussion, the jury merely refused to find the defendant guilty ... primarily because the sentence would have been excessive under the given circumstances, in their opinion.

The controversy, as defined in the Beacon article, was whether (a) the jury had a responsibility to follow the Judge's implied direction, and allow the Executive Branch (governor) to decide whether to intervene; or (b) follow their own individual moral guidance and decline to render a decision which would have led to an unrealistic (but lawful) punishment.

In this single specific case, they decided that the law was inappropriately harsh under the specific circumstances, and so they found the defendant "Not Guilty" .. even though they thought he might have broken the law.

In the Friedman opinion, he suggests that free men have not only a right, but an obligation to "nullify" application of a law, when it leads to misjustice. On the other hand, federal Judge Alex Kozinksi disagrees. He thinks that:
...juries do not have a right to disregard the law. In fact, juries are sworn to apply the law. If they can’t do that or won’t do that–and you would not want to be before a jury that is lawless. … It’s an abomination. It’s a crime. It should not be allowed to happen. The juries should be told in no uncertain terms that if they can’t apply the law as instructed by the judge, they ought to get off.

This situation is quit similar to the Olofson case, in which the defendant lent an AR-15 rifle to a friend, the rifle chain-fired multiple bursts on a single pull of the trigger, and the BATF successfully prosecuted defendant Olofson for transferring a fully automatic weapon ... even though the BATF technician testified that the full-auto burst was only replicable under certain narrowly defined circumstances.

What looked like a "full auto" offense to the BATF may have looked like a "malfunction" to people who are fully cognizant of the technical aspects. The jury was not conversant with the technical points, so Mr. Olofson was also sentenced to prison.

A better informed jury, the members having been aware of the concept of "Jury Nullification", might have decided to apply a more lenient sentence -- especially considering that the prosecutor and the judge conspired to provide narrow definitions and instructions to the jury.

If the reports are to believed the Defendant (Olofson) had no intent to create a full-auto weapon ... and if he had, it would have been the height of folly to then loan the rifle to
an acquaintance. [His representation in court may not have been as effective as it could have been, either.]

The jury in the Aitkens case might also ruled differently, if they were less intimidated by the judge's instructions .. or in that case, lack of instruction.

But now, in the "Cornell" case, we see a clear precedent that a jury might successfully interfere with the smooth flow of "justice" when they believe that Justice is not served by either an excessively harsh interpretation of the law, or by judicial instructions.

Might we all perhaps discover that our duty as jurors is to decide on the side of Justice, rather than "justice"?

David Friedman:

I don’t think I have a moral obligation to abide by the law when the law is wrong. I may have a moral obligation to violate it, but this could be a very long argument.


(Video of the full discussion, hosted by the Independent Institute", is available at The Beacon Magazine here. It's presented in 5 parts, and you may be forgiven by skipping the first part. In fact, the entire discussion is pedantic, boring, and seems a forum for the individual speakers to pimp their own books as much as to examine legal controversy. Part 5 has the dialogue ... and lasts for 37 minutes.)