Thursday, April 09, 2009
I try to provide as many helpful Internet resources as possible to students in the Introduction to USPSA" classes.
This is one good way to show what a Practical Pistol match looks like. Obviously, the selection-for-publication process usually serves only to show events which are intrinsically interesting. IPSC is not, after all, a Spectator Sport.
As an example, here's Yong Lee on "The Doors" stage from a Croc Dundee Banzaii Ballistic "You Got Bullets" match (from 2005)
If you don't think his 21 second time is impressive, I offer that I took 70 seconds to complete the same stage, and I breezed right past one entire target array AND I was cautioned by the Range Officer that I 'almost broke the 180) when engaging the back-leaning targets behind the barrels ... which are the last targets that Yong Lee engaged in this video.
Did I mention that Yong Lee was the Stage Winner?
That got me started thinking a bit harder about just what issues The Government (we're talking about the Federal government here) has assumed responsibility to administer ... and to impose.
While you listed a whole bunch of things that our government is in charge of, you managed to leave off the most important ones:
- VA Health care
Nobody but nobody would choose any of these if they had any other choice for their health coverage. What does that tell you about how well the gov would handle national health care? ...
My thoughts turned to a story about Davy Crockett. No, not the Davy Crockett portrayed by Fess Parker, but the Davy Crockett who was, among his many accomplishment, an elected member of the Federal Government. (He famously said: "Remember that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have." We should remember this.)
You can read the following story in great detail in Lew Rockwell's article "Davy Crockett vs. Welfare", and if you get nothing more from this I hope you read that illuminative lesson.
A brief summary of the story is that Crockett once voted in favor of a bill to provide Federal money to fund a worthy charitable effort. Later he discussed this allocation with a constituent, one' Horatio Bunce', and he was taken to task for his vote. The gist is that his constituent pointed out that Congress had no constitutional authority to spend tax money on this sort of effort. Certainly it was a worthwhile cause, but the nation did not OWE a debt; further, if the nation owed this debt to designated the recipients, then every other person in similar circumstances was owed the same debt. Finally, the amount of funding was arrived at arbitrarily, setting an unhealthy precedent for similar excesses in the future.
Think back again on the list that TheGunGeek provided:
- VA Health care
But Medicade and Medicare? Sure, it's "nice" that this is an option for indigent and elderly citizens, but the administration of such is a bureaucratic morass. And besides, does the Constitution authorize it?
In fact, many of the Departments of the Federal Government are not obviously constituted for the purpose of addressing a Constitutional debt. The Department of Education comes to mind.
Besides Defense, there are some other issues for which the Federal Government is Constitutionally obligated. With a few significant exceptions, Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States of America does a fine job of enumerating the powers and obligations of the Federal Government.
Most of the rest of the Constitution (including the Amendments) is generally characterized by enumerating the things which the Federal Government can NOT do! (There are some powers accorded to the individual States. )
Over the years, many of the Constitutionally assigned Powers and Obligations have been warped re-interpreted by successive Presidential Administrations and Congresses. Not least is The Commerce Clause (also found in Article I, Section 8):
... "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;"...
Various administrations and Congresses have interpreted this clause (a subset of a Section, itself as a subset of an Article) to provide them with the power to regulate the interstate transfer of firearms. These are currently in force, as we are 'generally' forbidden to purchase firearms in any state except our state of residence. (We get around this by purchasing by mail or internet, etc.; but the firearms must be shipped to a Local Licensed Dealer who performs the now-necessary function of accomodating the National Instant Check System verification of confirming that the end-user is legally permitted to purchase a firearm.) In fact, there is a declared intention of the Party in Power to re-impose not only restrictions on the purchase of firearms due to "firearm type", but to also require registration and to dis-allow transfer of some firearms across State lines.
(See also commentary by Michael Bane)
Excesses of Government have reached a new high ... or a new low, depending upon your point of view.
The Federal government receives something on the order of 500 billion dollars annually from Income Taxes. Yet this administration has, in the short span of 3 months (and without giving the Legislators sufficient time to properly review the Bills), obligated this nation to accept the fiscal obligation of over TWO TRILLION DOLLARS of new fiscal obligations. These are in excess of the 'normal' issues which must be paid for by our Nation.
And, finally completing the circular route of my reasoning, what are included in the "normal issues"?
- International Disaster Relief. A noble cause, a worthy charity. Not included in our Constitution.
- Foreign Aid. A noble cause, a worthy charity. Not included in our Constitution.
- Educational Grants (eg: "No Child Left Behind"). A noble cause, a worthy charity. Not included in our Constitution.
Perhaps a good idea. Perhaps to our benefit . Not included in our Constitution.
Education? Used to impose Federal influence on Local and State Educational priorities.
I'm not saying that all of these allotments of your money aren't a good idea. I'm just saying that the Constitution does not enumerate them among the Powers and Obligations of the Federal Government.
Congress, and Presidential Administrations through the year, have imposed these tax burdens on our Nation for, ultimately, the sake of expediencey.
But they have never addressed these issues in a manner which would make them legal. Namely, a Constitutional Amendment which would permit these bureaucratic entities to decide who gets how much of your tax dollar.
Going back to the Davy Crockett story:
I think we have reached that point. And I think that we should all stop a minute to consider the wisdom of Horatio Bunce.
"So you see, Colonel, you have violated the Constitution in what I consider a vital point. It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it, and no security for the people. I have no doubt you acted honestly, but that does not make it any better, except as far as you are personally concerned, and you see that I cannot vote for you."
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
But I digress.
If Obama is successful in placing the Federal Government in control of our Health Care ... we're screwed.
Remember, "The Government" (at various levels ... Federal, State and Local) are the people who are in charge of:
- The U.S. Postal Service
- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Tax and Explosives
- The Department of Environmental Quality
- The Department of Education
- The Justice Department
- The Department of State ("HillaryCare Part II")
- The Department of Motor Vehicles
- The Internal Revenue Service
- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
- Congress, which approved --- and The President --- who initiated T.A.R.P.
Are these the peoplewho should be in charge of your Health Service?
No. They're politicians and Bureaucrats, whose only priority is either getting re-elected or Empire Building ... or both. These people would screw up a Wet Dream; I dn't know abut you, but I don't want them to decide whether they should allow their limited resources to be allocated in relief of my medical miseries.
Here's a Case in Point, from our British Cousins:
GP refuses stroke call out
A FAMILY whose father died after medics misdiagnosed his stroke three times and refused a home visit have won an out of court settlement.Was this a case of "We're not interested in moving from our comfortable chair", or "Judging from your description, there's no major emergency here", or "We don't have the resources to respond to EVERY call, and we have other things to do right now"?
... Jeffery Wingrove, 48, died in hospital less than 48 hours after collapsing at home with severe vomiting and crippling headaches.
Too ill to move, his wife Isabelle, 52, rang her out-of-hours GP service run by a privately contracted firm who twice refused a home visit despite her pleas.
Claiming he did not qualify as he was not elderly, they instead offered to fax a prescription for pain killers to her local pharmacy for her to collect.
Paramedics were called as his condition worsened but they misdiagnosed Jeffery with severe vertigo and gave him paracetamol instead.
By the next day Jeffery was in so much pain he was rushed to hospital by ambulance where a scan revealed an infarct on the left side of his brain.
Part of his brain had been severely damaged by a stroke. Doctors attempted surgery but he died the following morning.
‘ All they had to do was come and see him, which my usual GP would have done at the drop of a hat. But it was too much trouble for them. ’
During the subsequent investigation harrowing call recordings were released of Isabelle pleading with the doctor to come and help him.
Isabelle, of Braintree, Essex, said: ”If he had been ill in on a weekday he would still be alive today. They held a gun to his head and they pulled the trigger. He was never given a chance of survival.
”All they had to do was come and see him, which my usual GP would have done at the drop of a hat. But it was too much trouble for them.
”I told the doctor he couldn’t lift his head off the pillow and I had no chance of moving him as he was 6ft tall and I’m only 4’10”.
”I was just ignored no matter how much I pleaded. The hospital told us if he had been treated sooner he would have survived.”
It's impossible to tell from the limited information given in the article.
One thing is clear, though: the National Health Services is controlled by Bureaucrats and Accountants, not by Medical Experts. Certainly, the people in charge are neither Philanthropists nor Care Givers. If they were, their priorities would have generated a certain sense of Urgency after the second call, certainly after the third telephoned plea for help.
Swell. The government (or NHS, which is the same thing) threw the doctor under the bus and washed their hands of all responsibility.
The family won a six-figure out-of-court settlement for clinical negligence from the East of England Ambulance Service and the GP involved last month.
The family - Isabelle and sons Marc, 14, and Danny, 23 - intend making a complaint to the General Medical Council about the GP who has not been named.
It is understood the GP no longer works for Primecare.
A spokeswoman for the East of England Ambulance Services NHS Trust said: ”We have co-operated fully with the investigation and do not feel that it is appropriate to comment at this time."
A spokesman for Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust said he could not comment on the specifics of what was a ”terrible tragedy” as the matter was still subject to possible future actions.
The lesson here is that the poliiticians make the rules, the Doctors are required to abide by them ... and when anything goes wrong, the Doctor gets the axe. Notice that the article does not mention a review of Governmental Policies or Procedures in an effort to prevent recurrence of this kind of tragedy.
Oh, let's call it what it really is: a screw-up of monumental proportions, because England cannot actually afford to run a National Health Service.
This should serve as a warning to we who are about to allow Obama to implement a similar bureaucratic quagmire on we, the Citizens of the United States of America.
Since Obama has saddled us and our children with (more or less) NINE TRILLION DOLLARS of debt (borrowed from the Chinese, who have no love for us), which is (more or less) equivalent to our Annual Gross National Product ... and in the process doubled our National Debt during the First One Hundred Days of his reign administration ... America also cannot afford to fund a National Health Service, either.
Sure, he claims that it will be 'an option', and that it is not intended to replace Private Medical Insurance plays but to supplement those plans available to those who can afford to pay for private insurance.
On the other hand, this is the same President who promised "The most transparent administration in American History", and that he would personally evaluate every bill which was presented to him "line by line" ... and then pushed for T.A.R.P., which was a 1600 page bill, before the members of Congress had time to read it. And doubtless before he had time to read it and discuss it, either. Not that he really cared; the bill fit his personal agenda, and that's the important thing.
Judging by the preceding editorial comments, one might arrive at the conclusion that I am becoming increasingly disillusioned about the leadership provided by Obama.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. Obama has never served in an executive position in a company which actually produces a product, which is accountable to stockholders (or employees), yet he has the unmitigated gall to presume to take over some of the biggest corporations in the country (eg: General Motors) to the extent that he has arbitrarily assumed the right to fire the CEO, set salaries, and determine the product line which that and other companies can produce.
Obama has committed to the establishment of a "Civilian Corps" with funding comparable to the American Military, with goals and directives which have not yet been determined, which is not accountable to anyone other than Obama, and the membership of which currently seems slated to be obligatory, rather than voluntary.
Hell, even our military is an "All Volunteer" organization, but not the Obama-Crats.
I do not trust the man. He is committed to tax rules which are specifically and clearly designed to accomplish his personal goal of "Redistribution of Wealth". He has established 'forgiveness' tax rules which establishes a Dolist population greater than the producing tax-payers. In fact, those who pay NO taxes will be rewarded with a 'tax rebate', taken from tax-payers.
Does this sound like the actions of a man whose intention is to provide quality Medical Care for lower-earning, retired and otherwise indigent Citizens?
Or does this sound like the actions of a man who wants the Government to control every aspect of our private lives?
I know what I think.
What do YOU think?
Is "The British Model" of Health Care appropriate to a bankrupt First-World Nation?
Sunday, April 05, 2009
I've posted it before, but it bears repeating because I so often write about the Rights which the British People have given up in the pursuit of A Peaceful Society,s which they clearly do not enjoy today.
The British have lately yielded their Rights in pursuit of a "Peaceful Realm", and have reaped the consequences of a realm which is not only NOT peaceful, but NOT cognizant of a Nation of Free Men.
Those of us who have read the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes are aware that Holmes frequently cautioned his Boon Companion, Doctor Watson, to "Bring your Webley with you, please." Holmes recognized that there are some situations in which possession of a firearm was necessary to the SAFE completion of a legitimate endeavor.
Brits today must acknowledge that, according to their Elected Government, there is NO situation which justifies the possession (let alone the use of) a Firearm. This includes the protection of property, neighbors, family or Self. That is to say, if you resort to a Weapon of any kind to protect these priorities, you place yourself in hazard of legal proscriptions which are legally equivalent to "Assault with a Deadly Weapon?" ... except that if you are the Victim, you have fewer rights than you would have if you were the Aggressor.
To their credit, "The Brits" are not entirely (or universally) ignorant of this distinction. And so a few of them have demonstrated in support of their Civil Rights ... which are NOT supported by current British Law. and has NOT provoked Parliament to adjust current British Law to the default position that a person who is physically attacked has a legal right to defend him/herself.
Parliament has ignored the British Demonstration, and they ("The Brits") continue to find themselves in the unenviable position of NOT being legally permit to defend themselves.
If we (Americans) do not insist that our Second Amendment freedoms are acknowledged and supported by our Government, we may find ourselves engaging in similarly unproductive demonstrations.
Is THIS what we really require from OUR government?
"If the only guys with guns are the bad guys, we're screwed!"
It doesn't get much plainer than that.
Lately, we've heard that ""90 percent of the guns used by Drug Cartels in Mexico came from the United States". (CNN is touting that message.)
Here's what it looks like on You Tube:
Perhaps it's passe' to contradict CNN, but Fox News did just that last Thursday:
Fox News goes further to suggest:
There's just one problem with the 90 percent "statistic" and it's a big one:
It's just not true.
In fact, it's not even close. The fact is, only 17 percent of guns found at Mexican crime scenes have been traced to the U.S.
What's true, an ATF spokeswoman told FOXNews.com, in a clarification of the statistic used by her own agency's assistant director, "is that over 90 percent of the traced firearms originate from the U.S."
But a large percentage of the guns recovered in Mexico do not get sent back to the U.S. for tracing, because it is obvious from their markings that they do not come from the U.S.
"Not every weapon seized in Mexico has a serial number on it that would make it traceable, and the U.S. effort to trace weapons really only extends to weapons that have been in the U.S. market," Matt Allen, special agent of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told FOX News.
In 2007-2008, according to ATF Special Agent William Newell, Mexico submitted 11,000 guns to the ATF for tracing. Close to 6,000 were successfully traced -- and of those, 90 percent -- 5,114 to be exact, according to testimony in Congress by William Hoover -- were found to have come from the U.S.
But in those same two years, according to the Mexican government, 29,000 guns were recovered at crime scenes.
In other words, 68 percent of the guns that were recovered were never submitted for tracing. And when you weed out the roughly 6,000 guns that could not be traced from the remaining 32 percent, it means 83 percent of the guns found at crime scenes in Mexico could not be traced to the U.S.
So if they don't come from the U.S., where DO they come from?
Fox lists "other sources", including:
- The Black Market
- Russian Crime Organizations
- South America
- The Mexican Army
Ed Head, a firearms instructor in Arizona who spent 24 years with the U.S. Border Patrol, recently displayed an array of weapons considered "assault rifles" that are similar to those recovered in Mexico, but are unavailable for sale in the U.S.
"These kinds of guns -- the auto versions of these guns -- they are not coming from El Paso," he said. "They are coming from other sources. They are brought in from Guatemala. They are brought in from places like China. They are being diverted from the military. But you don't get these guns from the U.S."
Some guns, he said, "are legitimately shipped to the government of Mexico, by Colt, for example, in the United States. They are approved by the U.S. government for use by the Mexican military service. The guns end up in Mexico that way -- the fully auto versions -- they are not smuggled in across the river."
Many of the fully automatic weapons that have been seized in Mexico cannot be found in the U.S., but they are not uncommon in the Third World.
The Mexican government said it has seized 2,239 grenades in the last two years -- but those grenades and the rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) are unavailable in U.S. gun shops. The ones used in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey in October and a TV station in January were made in South Korea. Almost 70 similar grenades were seized in February in the bottom of a truck entering Mexico from Guatemala.
Here's the way the subject is parsed by Wayne LaPierre, spokesman for the National Rifle Association:
Jim Shepherd, of The Shooting Wire, offers his observations:
Yesterday, I was pleased to notice that "mainstream" media had begun to question the absurd statements being made by US officials concerning the "iron river" of firearms flowing from the United States into Mexico.
For the past weeks, we've heard politicians, bureaucrats and supposedly informed law enforcement officials blame the flow of US firearms into Mexico for that country's reversion back into its old, violent, ways. Today, the other side of our long, common border with the United States looks like some backwater dictatorship. Violence is no longer the exception, it's the rule, with drug cartels fighting it out with each other -and occasionally a corrupt Mexican police force.
Infuriatingly, high-ranking US officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have continued to spout inaccurate statistics that blame the US firearms industry and our retail system for the Mexican violence. They say ninety percent of all the illegal guns in Mexico come from the United States, purchased in legal or illegal transactions, then smuggled into Mexico to arm the cartels.
That is not a statistical fib, it is an absolute bald-faced lie. To repeat something you know isn't true makes whomever repeats it a bald-faced liar as well.
Unfortunately, it demonstrates this new administration's complete and utter disdain for the rest of us. They believe we're as incapable of questioning them as we are of deciding our own futures.
Fortunately, not everyone is buying into the lie.
With Mexican cartel battles involving full-auto rifles, grenades and other military-style weaponry, even the most naive reporter should eventually question officials saying they're being procured in the United States. A reader's note the other day asked "can you get me an address on those Texas gun stores where I can get the machine guns and rocket launchers that are being smuggled into Mexico? I'd like to have some of that for myself."
Finally, some hard questions are being asked.
In San Diego, KGTV television's investigative unit used a forensic firearms consultant to inspect a Mexican army cache of seized weapons. Based on those findings, it was obvious to consultant Marc Halcon that what was being stated by government officials as fact and parroted by reporters was not accurate. In fact, he reported that while US gun shops were getting the blame for supplying the cartels with weapons, the real fact was that many of the high-powered weapons the criminals were using come from the U.S. government. They had been given to the Mexican military to fight the cartels. Instead, it appears they were taken to the cartels by the more than 1,200 soldiers per month who go AWOL from the Mexican army - apparently taking their firearms with them. Since 2000, an average of 16,000 soldiers have deserted.
You do the math on the number of military firearms that could put into circulation.
Thursday, Fox News reported the government statistics, were simply wrong. More disturbingly, they reported, ATF officials didn't seem to be interested in doing anything to correct the inaccuracy.
Truth be told, only a small percentage of the tens of thousands of illegal weapons seized in Mexico each year come from the United States.
The statistic being quoted doesn't refer to the total number of weapons seized, only the ones with marking that allow them to be traced. Tens of thousands of illegal military weapons aren't traced, they're warehoused.
As the old expression goes, there are three kinds of lies: plain old lies, damned lies and statistics.
Still, the Obama Administration (in the person of A.G. Eric holder) seems determined to use this Not Ready For Prime Time moment to build momentum for a rejuvenation of the Assault Weapons Ban. This assumption is based on Obama's past history of support for Gun Control measures which would restrict Second Amendment rights ot by restricting access to firearms per se, but by restricting ammunition availability by enacting laws (eg: Microstamping and Bullet Encoding) which are prohibitively expensive to establish in an industrial manufacturing process.
Even if the Obama administration is too shy to prohibit access to firearms, this might seem to be an attractive alternative to meet the same end. That is, the practical imposition of legal means to meet an illegal objective: "imposition of laws to restrict firearms ownership" by "other means".
Essentially, making ammunition prohibitively expensive has the same effect on Firearms Ownership as making gasoline prohibitively expensive has on Automobile Ownership: if you can't buy gasoline, you can't use your automobile. Similarly, if you can't buy ammunition, you can't use your firearm.
It may be that this entire thesis is flawed; Obama may have no intention to restrict the private ownership of firearms, nor to impose such legal access to ammunition as will render the firearms useless.
Still, the American Public seems convinced. Political Pundits have often expressed the homily that Americans "Vote with their wallets". This is a reflection of the basic tenets of Capitalism (a dirty word in the Obama Admistration.)
What we have seen in the ten weeks since the enshrinement of Barack Obama is that the American Public has rushed to buy guns and ammunition, to the point at which the Manufacturers have been unable to supply the Retailers sufficiently to meet the spike in Consumer Demand.
If all those people who are rushing to buy guns and ammunition had voted AGAINST Nero, he would today be nothing more than than the Junior Senator from Illinois.
Why didn't they "cleave to their Guns and their God" in November?
Only it didn't boot up. Instead, I got a message from Norton GoBack (which takes checkpoints during the time the computer is operating) saying that the last checkpoint was 4.3.2009 and the system date is 1.1.07 at 12:39 am. It asked me if the GoBack checkpoint timestamp should be updated, or the system date?
So I updated the system date (today at 5:26pm).
When I confirmed the new system date to be correct, I expected the system to reboot at the last checkpoint version.
Instead, I got a "Load Error! Press a key to reboot ..." error message on the Black Screen of Death.
Pressing a key returned:
DISK BOOT FAILURE, INSERT SYSTEM DISK AND PRESS ENTER
What boot disk? My puter has gone for 30 months without a hiccup, and now I'm dead Dead DEAD!
I have Norton 360, antivirus and GoBack installed, so I invoked GoBack on the reboot. The oldest goback checkpoint it was able to find was last Friday ... which was when I turned the computer off. I haven't turned it on between Friday Morning and Sunday Evening,'
Still, my desktop computer will not boot.
Fearing that it had something to do with either the Conficker worm, or the cable modem, I turned off my computer and also turned off (and disconnected) my cable modem "for at least two minutes".
Then I connected my laptop, which has not been connected to the Internet since last September, to the cable modem.
The laptop booted right up.
So for tonight I am able to post to the Blog, and also check my email.
Of course, not all of my bookmarks are available because they are on my desktop computer ... or they are six months out of date.
My agenda for the rest of the night is to (a) do whatever I need to do on my blog, (b) catch up on my email, and (c) disconnect my desktop and put it in the car so I can take it to the local Computer Doctor to see what can be done to 'fix' it.
The good news is, in the final analysis the worst that can happen is that I will lose a little data. Much of the data on my hard-drive is backed up on my external hard-drive.
The bad news is, I haven't backed up the hard-drive for several months. I've been unwilling to crawl under my computer disk to re-connect it, so I can't say that I have less than 1 month new data missing on my backup.
(My data is fully backed up at last monthly on my workstation at the office. I have my priorities.)
If there is a moral lesson here, it is that it is insufficient to have the resources to back up data. We also need to do the actual backup on a regular basis.
The only consolation I have here is that at least two of my 'favorite bloggers' ... Michael Bane and Xavier Thoughts ... have reported computer crashes lately. Both websites reported system outages lasting for several days. It isn't The Geek who experiences Schadenfreud when SHTF. [Shit Hits The Fan]
At least this disappontment provides another excuse for me not to complete my tax return for a few more days.
Oh, yeah, I almost forgot.
I really don't like my laptop, because the keyboard is so ... tiny. And the function keys aren't where they belong.
Still, I'll do my best to keep up, and to serve as a Bad Example to the rest of the world.