Western Rifle Shooters Association

Do not give in to Evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ya Just Gotta Wonder....

Why your tax dollars are being used to watch a loveable bunch of fuzzballs like us.

It's a Sunday, so someone in the FedGov must really be motivated (or bored) to be checking on this site twice in one day.

Judging from where our DHS friend went during his or her visit according to the Sitemeter record, maybe it's for our ongoing series of vocabulary lessons.

Oh well - whatever the reason, I'm sure it's legitimate government business and will make the Homeland more secure.

That's their job, ja?

It's not like agents of the FedGov are in the habit of trying to intimidate people who are exercising their First Amendment free speech rights.

After all, if someone from the FedGov were using a government computer while on duty to intimidate a US citizen from exercising his or her Constitutional rights, that would be wrong, wouldn't it?

How about this - why don't you ask Judge Chertoff and get back to us, m'kay?

With his background as a Federal judge, a US Attorney, and a big-time partner at Latham and Watkins, your uber-boss should know about the consequences of attempting to deprive citizens of their Constitutional rights under color of law.

And since you are surveilling us from your work computer, you are acting as his agent in the course of your normal duties, right?

Hope to hear from you soon.


Sunday Morning - Coming Down?

Sunday mornings can be lonely. Especially if you're one of the Only Ones stuck working for the Geheime Staatspolizei.

You must be very special to be on duty protecting the Homeland on a Sunday.

Why don't you just say "hi"? You've stopped by now four times, and you haven't left a single comment.

We're really a friendly bunch of folks around here. How's about telling us something about you?

We'd love to be BFF with ya.

The Jihaddis Are Winning

4TH UPDATE 12 APRIL 08: Here's a link to the current version of "Fitna", which which reshot by its author to remove a cartoon image of Muhammed that created copyright concerns. Other than that change (effected by the substitution of a new cartoon image), the movie remains the same. I have tweaked the original post below to remove the links to the old version.

3RD UPDATE 03 APRIL 08: I have restored the links below, courtesy of Yuri. I will update this post when Geert Wilders distributes the next version of the film.

2ND UPDATE 01 APRIL 08: Confirmation re "Fitna" site hacking from Jihad Watch.

UPDATE 01 APRIL 08: The movie "Fitna" is being reedited by its creator to avoid a copyright infringement allegation re the "turban Mohammed" cartoon. In addition, one of the mirror sites linked below appears to have been hacked. I will update this post and the links when the actual movie "Fitna" is once again available.

UPDATE 31 MARCH 08: Live Leak yesterday placed "Fitna" back on its distribution. Good on ya, Live Leak! And don't miss this non-PC British take on this overall situation in Europe.
Please take seventeen minutes and watch this movie before it disappears into our cowardly and dying civilization's memory hole.

If that site is down, scroll down in the link above for alternative sites. That link also contains translations into a growing number of languages, should you be interested in passing the story to non-Anglophones.

Fjordman reviews the movie, and here's some backstory if you are new to this important battle.

If you do not know whether or not you will submit to the Islamic onslaught, you need to make that decision soon.

Just as importantly, you need to know what decision has been made on that issue by your family and friends.

This clash between civilization and barbarism will not be over until the jihaddis have been suppressed, or Western Civilization has been destroyed.

Tempus fugit

Basic Rifle Markmanship Course - Coeur d'Alene, ID - 4/26-27

Join us at the Fernan Rod and Gun Club on April 26th and 27th in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho as the WRSA presents its two-day basic rifle marksmanship clinic. Whether you are refreshing your understanding of the basics, or laying a solid foundation for further study, you're going to learn a lot!

Topics Covered:

Safe Handling
Steps of Firing A Shot
Sight Adjustment/Zeroing Your Rifle
Sling Usage
Highpower and Practical Shooting Positions
Importance of Dry-Fire Practice
Caliber Choices
Equipment Recommendations
Tactical Scenarios

Equipment Needed:

Rifle: Whatever you would grab in an emergency. We recommend a good semi-auto battle rifle or carbine, but bring what you have. .22LR will suffice for many drills, and will allow you to conserve your centerfire ammo.
Ammo: 400 rounds, 4 Magazines, Mag Carriers
Sling: Web or 1907-style
Eye and Ear Protection
Other: Bring your lunch both days, plus any other food/water and other gear you’ll need to be comfortable (e.g., hats, ground cover, knee pads, elbow pads, sunscreen, raingear, etc.)

Administrative Details:

When: April 26-27, 2008; registration starts at 8:30 am

Where: Fernan Rod & Gun Club, Coeur d'Alene, ID

Directions: From Interstate 90, take exit 15 and proceed onto North Ferman Lake Road eastbound past the ranger station. North Ferman Lake Road will become East Ferman Lake Road as you drive past the lake. Follow WRSA signs to Ferman Rod & Gun Club.

How Much: $150.00 - Buddy System Pricing: Save 25% each (e.g, two shooters = $225, etc.)

Contact Info: westernshooters@gmail.com

Thursday, March 27, 2008

"Soft War" Update - Part I

Hat-tip to Billy Beck.

And yes, I realize that, as an edited presentation, this sample of the American electorate is not statistically representative of the voting public as a whole.

But you know darned well that there are plenty more of these chowderheads out in every precinct of this fair land.

A lot more of them (including many gun owners and others who should be in the pro-freedom camp, but are not) than there are of us.

Pogo got it right nearly 40 years ago:

"We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Tempus fugit.

Human Anatomy Resource

There are plenty of educational, medical, and tactical reasons to have a solid grounding in human anatomy.

For those of you with fairly modern 'puters (WinXP or better), you may want to check out Visible Body. Overview and tutorial vids are here.

Here's a blurb from the software vendor:

The Visible Body features:

* Complete, fully interactive, 3D human anatomy model
* Detailed models of all body systems
* Dynamic search capability
* Easy-to-use, 3D controls
* Seamless compatibility with Internet Explorer

This entirely Web-delivered application offers an unparalleled understanding of human anatomy. The Visible Body includes 3D models of over 1,700 anatomical structures, including all major organs and systems of the human body.

The Visible Body consists of highly detailed, anatomically accurate, 3D models of all human body systems. The models were developed by an extensively trained team with decades of experience in medical illustration and biomedical visualization. All anatomical content has been reviewed for accuracy by our panel of experts, including physicians and anatomists. The beta release includes content covered in an undergraduate-level Anatomy and Physiology course. Years of modeling and enhancement make it the most sophisticated and complete 3D model of the human body available.

The price is right, too - free.

The 3-D rotate feature is pretty darned useful, especially if you may face bad guys someday who might not have the couth to face you square on.

You know, so that you can shoot for the K5 zone like your paper targets.

Hat-tip to the good folks at Maggie's Farm.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Reminder: Ammo Group Buy Ends 3/31/08

Details here. Fresh ammo is a fine way to hedge against inflation and those depreciating dollars.

The Pragmatics of Patriotism

From Robert Heinlein, thanks to Jerry Pournelle:

On 5 April 1973, I delivered the James Forrestal Memorial Lecture to the Brigade of Midshipmen at my alma mater the United States Naval Academy. As the first half of the lecture, at the request of the midshipmen, I discussed freelance writing. This is the second half:

In this complex world, science, the scientific method, and the consequences of the scientific method are central to everything the human race is doing and to wherever we are going. If we blow ourselves up we will do it by the misapplication of science; if we manage to keep from blowing ourselves up, it will be through intelligent application of science. Science fiction is the only form of fiction which takes into account this central force in our lives and futures. Other sorts of fiction, if they notice science at all, simply deplore it -- an attitude very chichi in the anti-intellectual atmosphere today. But we will never get out of the mess we are in by wringing our hands.

Let me make one flat-footed prediction of the science-fiction type. Like all scenarios this one has assumptions -- variables treated as constants. The primary assumption is that World War Three will hold off long enough -- ten, twenty, thirty years -- for this prediction to work out. . .plus a secondary assumption that the human race will not find some other way to blunder into ultimate disaster.

Prediction: In the immediate future -- by that I mean in the course of the naval careers of the class of '73 -- there will be nuclear-powered, constant-boost spaceships -- ships capable of going to Mars and back in a couple of weeks -- and these ships will be armed with Buck-Rogerish death rays. Despite all treaties now existing or still to be signed concerning the peaceful use of space, these spaceships will be used in warfare. Space navies will change beyond recognition our present methods of warfare and will control the political shape of the world for the foreseeable future. Furthermore -- and still more important -- these new spaceships will open the Solar System to colonization and will eventually open up the rest of the Galaxy.

I did NOT say that the United States will have these ships. The present sorry state of our country does not permit me to make such a prediction. In the words of one of our most distinguished graduates in his THE INFLUENCE OF SEA POWER UPON HISTORY: "Popular governments are not generally favorable to military expenditures, however necessary--"

Every military officer has had his nose rubbed in wry truth of Admiral Mahan's observation. I first found myself dismayed by it some forty years ago when I learned that I was expected to maintain the ship's battery of USS ROPER in a state of combat readiness on an allowance of less than a dollar a day -- with World War Two staring down our throats.

The United States is capable of developing such spaceships. But the mood today does not favor it. So I am unable to predict that WE will be the nation to spend the necessary R&D money to build such ships.

(Addressed to a plebe midshipman:)

Mister, how long is it to graduation?

Sixty-two days? Let's make it closer than that. I have. . .7.59, just short of eight bells. Assuming graduation for ten in the morning that gives. . .5,320,860 seconds to graduation. . .and I have less than 960 seconds in which to say what I want to say.

(To the Brigade at large:)

Why are you here?

(To a second plebe:)

Mister, why are YOU here?

Never mind, son; that's a rhetorical question. You are here to become a naval officer. That's why this Academy was founded. That is why all of you are here: to become naval officers. If that is NOT why YOU are here, you've made a bad mistake. But I speak to the overwhelming majority who understood the oath they took on becoming midshipmen and look forward to the day when they will renew that oath as commissioned officers.

But why would anyone want to become a naval officer?

In the present dismal state of our culture there is little prestige attached to serving your country; recent public opinion polls place military service far down the list.

It can't be the pay. No one gets rich on the pay. Even a 4-star admiral is paid much less than top executives in other lines. As for lower ranks the typical naval officer finds himself throughout his career just catching up from the unexpected expenses connected with the last change of duty when another change of duty causes a new financial crisis. Then, when he is about fifty, he is passed over and retires. . .but he can't really retire because he has two kids in college and one still to go. So he has to find a job. . .and discovers that jobs for men his age are scarce and usually don't pay well.

Working conditions? You'll spend half your life away from your family. Your working hours? "Six days shalt thou work and do all thou art able; the seventh day the same, and pound the cable." A forty-hour week is standard for civilians -- but not for naval officers. You'll work that forty-hour week but that's just a starter. You'll stand a night watch as well, and duty weekends. Then with every increase in grade your hours get longer -- until at last you get a ship of your own and no longer stand watches. Instead you are on duty twenty-four hours a day. . .and you'll sign your night order book with: "In case of doubt, do not hesitate to call me."

I don't know the average week's work for a naval officer but it's closer to sixty than to forty. I'm speaking of peacetime, of course. Under war conditions it is whatever hours are necessary -- and sleep you grab when you can.

Why would anyone elect a career which is unappreciated, overworked, and underpaid? It can't be just to wear a pretty uniform. There has to be a better reason.

As one drives through the bushveldt of East Africa it is easy to spot herds of baboons grazing on the ground. But not by looking at the ground. Instead you look up and spot the lookout, and adult male posted on a limb of a tree where he has a clear view all around him -- which is why you can spot him; he has to be where he can see a leopard in time to give the alarm. On the ground a leopard can catch a baboon. . .but if a baboon is warned in time to reach the trees, he can out-climb a leopard.

The lookout is a young male assigned to that duty and there he will stay, until the bull of the herd sends up another male to relieve him.

Keep your eye on that baboon; we'll be back to him.

Today, in the United States, it is popular among self-styled "intellectuals" to sneer at patriotism. They seem to think that it is axiomatic that any civilized man is a pacifist, and they treat the military profession with contempt. "Warmongers" -- "Imperialists" -- "Hired killers in uniform" -- you have all heard such sneers and you will hear them again. One of their favorite quotations is: "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."

What they never mention is that the man who made that sneering remark was a fat, gluttonous slob who was pursued all his life by a pathological fear of death.

I propose to prove that that baboon on watch is morally superior to that fat poltroon who made that wisecrack.

Patriotism is the most practical of all human characteristics.

But in the present decadent atmosphere patriots are often too shy to talk about it -- as if it were something shameful or an irrational weakness.

But patriotism is NOT sentimental nonsense. Nor something dreamed up by demagogues. Patriotism is as necessary a part of man's evolutionary equipment as are his eyes, as useful to the race as eyes are to the individual.

A man who is NOT patriotic is an evolutionary dead end. This is not sentiment but the hardest of logic.

To prove that patriotism is a necessity we must go back to fundamentals. Take any breed of animal -- for example, tyrannosaurus rex. What is the most basic thing about him? The answer is that tyrannosaurus rex is dead, gone, extinct.

Which brings us to the second fundamental question: Will homo sapiens stay alive? Will he survive?

We can answer part of that at once: Individually h. sapiens will NOT survive. It is unlikely that anyone here tonight will be alive eighty years from now; it approaches mathematical certainty that we will all be dead a hundred years from now as even the youngest plebe here would be 118 years old by then -- if still alive.

Some men do live that long but the percentage is so microscopic as not to matter. Recent advances in biology suggest that human life may be extended to a century and a quarter, even a century and a half -- but this will create more problems than it solves. When a man reaches my age or thereabouts, the last great service he can perform is to die and get out of the way of younger people.

Very well, as individuals we all die. This brings us to the second half of the question: Does homo sapiens AS A BREED have to die? The answer is: No, it is NOT unavoidable.

We have two situations, mutually exclusive: Mankind surviving, and mankind extinct. With respect to morality, the second situation is a null class. An extinct breed has NO behavior, moral or otherwise.

Since survival is the sine qua non, I now define "moral behavior" as "behavior that tends toward survival." I won't argue with philosophers or theologians who choose to use the word "moral" to mean something else, but I do not think anyone can define "behavior that tends toward extinction" as being "moral" without stretching the word "moral" all out of shape.

We are now ready to observe the hierarchy of moral behavior from its lowest level to its highest.

The simplest form of moral behavior occurs when a man or other animal fights for his own survival. Do not belittle such behavior as being merely selfish. Of course it is selfish. . .but selfishness is the bedrock on which all moral behavior starts and it can be immoral only when it conflicts with a higher moral imperative. An animal so poor in spirit that he won't even fight on his own behalf is already an evolutionary dead end; the best he can do for his breed is to crawl off and die, and not pass on his defective genes.

The next higher level is to work, fight, and sometimes die for your own immediate family. This is the level at which six pounds of mother cat can be so fierce that she'll drive off a police dog. It is the level at which a father takes a moonlighting job to keep his kids in college -- and the level at which a mother or father dives into a flood to save a drowning child. . .and it is still moral behavior even when it fails.

The next higher level is to work, fight, and sometimes die for a group larger that the unit family -- an extended family, a herd, a tribe -- and take another look at that baboon on watch; he's at that moral level. I don't think baboon language is complex enough to permit them to discuss such abstract notions as "morality" or "duty" or "loyalty" -- but it is evident that baboons DO operate morally and DO exhibit the traits of duty and loyalty; we see them in action. Call it "instinct" if you like -- but remember that assigning a name to a phenomenon does not explain it.

But that baboon behavior can be explained in evolutionary terms. Evolution is a process that never stops. Baboons who fail to exhibit moral behavior do not survive; they wind up as meat for leopards. Every baboon generation has to pass this examination in moral behavior; those who bilge it don't have progeny. Perhaps the old bull of the tribe gives lessons. . .but the leopard decides who graduates -- and there is no appeal from his decision. We don't have to understand the details to observe the outcome; Baboons behave morally -- for baboons.

The next level in moral behavior higher than that exhibited by the baboon is that in which duty and loyalty are shown toward a group of your kind too large for an individual to know all of them. We have a name for that. It is called "patriotism."

Behaving on a still higher moral level were the astronauts who went to the Moon, for their actions tend toward the survival of the entire race of mankind. The door they opened leads to hope that h. sapiens will survive indefinitely long, even longer than this solid planet on which we stand tonight. As a direct result of what they did, it is now possible that the human race will NEVER die.

Many short-sighted fools think that going to the Moon was just a stunt. But that astronauts knew the meaning of what they were doing, as is shown by Neil Armstrong's first words in stepping down onto the soil of Luna: "One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

Let us note proudly that eleven of the Astronaut Corps are graduates of this our school.

And let me add that James Forrestal was the FIRST high-ranking Federal official to come out flatly for space travel.

I must pause to brush off those parlor pacifists I mentioned earlier. . .for they contend that THEIR actions are on this highest moral level. They want to put a stop to war; they say so. Their purpose is to save the human race from killing itself off; they say that too. Anyone who disagrees with them must be a bloodthirsty scoundrel -- and they'll tell you that to your face.

I won't waste time trying to judge their motives; my criticism is of their mental processes: Their heads aren't screwed on tight. They live in a world of fantasy.

Let me stipulate that, if the human race managed its affairs sensibly, we could do without war.

Yes -- and if pigs had wings, they could fly.

I don't know what planet those pious pacifists are talking about but it can't be the third one out from the Sun. Anyone who has seen the Far East -- or Africa -- or the Middle East -- knows are certainly should know that there is NO chance of abolishing war in the foreseeable future. In the past few years I have ben around the world three times, traveled in most of the communist countries, visited many of the so-called emerging countries, plus many trips to Europe and to South America; I saw nothing that cheered me as to the prospects for peace. The seeds of war are everywhere; the conflicts of interest are real and deep, and will not be abolished by pious platitudes.

The best we can hope for is a precarious balance of power among the nations capable of waging total war -- while endless lesser wars break out here and there.

I won't belabor this. Our campuses are loaded with custard-headed pacifists but the yard of the Naval Academy is not on place where I will encounter them. We are in agreement that the United States still needs a navy, that the Republic will always have need for heroes -- else you would not be here tonight and in uniform.

Patriotism -- Moral behavior at the national level. Non sibi sed Patria. Nathan Hale's last words: "I regret that I have but one life to give for my country." Torpedo Squadron Eight making its suicidal attack. Four chaplains standing fast while the water rises around them. Thomas Jefferson saying, "The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed form time to time with the blood of patriots--" A submarine skipper giving the order "Take her DOWN!" while he himself is still topside. Jonas Ingram standing on the steps of Bancroft Hall and shouting, "The Navy has no place for good losers! The Navy needs tough sons of bitches who can go out there and WIN!"

Patriotism -- An abstract word used to describe a type of behavior as harshly practical as good brakes and good tires. It means that you place the welfare of your nation ahead of your own even if it costs you your life.

Men who go down to the sea in ships have long had another way of expressing the same moral behavior tagged by the abstract expression "patriotism." Spelled out in simple Anglo-Saxon words "Patriotism" reads "Women and children first!"

And that is the moral result of realizing a self-evident biological fact: Men are expendable; women and children are not. A tribe or a nation can lose a high percentage of its men and still pick up the pieces and go on. . .as long as the women and children are saved. But if you fail to save the women and children, you've had it, you're done, you're THROUGH! You join tyrannosaurus rex, one more breed that bilged its final test.

I must amplify that. I know that women can fight and often have. I have known many a tough old grandmother I would rather have on my side in a tight spot than any number of pseudo-males who disdain military service. My wife put in three years and a butt active duty in World War Two, plus ten years reserve, and I am proud -- very proud! -- of her naval service. I am proud of every one of our women in uniform; they are a shining example to us men.

Nevertheless, as a mathematical proposition in the facts of biology, children, and women of child-bearing age, are the ultimate treasure that we must save. Every human culture is based on "Women and children first" -- and any attempt to do it any other way leads quickly to extinction.

Possibly extinction is the way we are headed. Great nations have died in the past; it can happen to us.

Nor am I certain how good our chances our. To me it seems self-evident that any nation that loses its patriotic fervor is on the skids. Without that indispensable survival factor the end is only a matter of time. I don't know how deeply the rot has penetrated -- but it seems to me that there has been a change for the worse in the last fifty years. Possibly I am misled by the offensive behavior of a noisy but unimportant minority. But it does seem to me that patriotism has lost its grip on a large percentage of our people.

I hope I am wrong. . .because if my fears are well grounded, I would not bet two cents on this nation's chance of lasting even to the end of this century.

But there is now way to force patriotism on anyone. Passing a law will not create it, nor can we buy it by appropriating so many billions of dollars.

You gentlemen of the Brigade are most fortunate. You are going to a school where this basic moral virtue is daily reinforced by precept and example. It is not enough to know what Charlie Noble does for a living, or what makes the wildcat wild, or which BatDiv failed to splice the main brace and why -- nor to learn matrix algebra and navigation and ballistics and aerodynamics and nuclear engineering. These things are merely the working tools of your profession and could be learned elsewhere; they do not require "four years together by the Bay where the Severn joins the tide."

What you do have here is a tradition of service. Your most important classroom is Memorial Hall. Your most important lesson is the way you feel inside when you walk up those steps and see that shot-torn flag framed in the arch of the door: "Don't Give Up the Ship."

If you feel nothing, you don't belong here. But if it give you goose flesh just to see that old battle flag, then you are going to find that feeling increasing every time you return here over the years. . .until it reaches a crescendo the day you return and read the list of your own honored dead -- classmates, shipmates, friends -- read them with grief and pride while you try to keep your tears silent.

The time has come for me to stop. I said that "Patriotism" is a way of saying "Women and children first." And that no one can force a man to feel this way. Instead he must embrace it freely. I want to tell about one such man. He wore no uniform and no one knows his name, or where he came from; all we know is what he did.

In my home town sixty years ago when I was a child, my mother and father used to take me and my brothers and sisters out to Swope Park on Sunday afternoons. It was a wonderful place for kids, with picnic grounds and lakes and a zoo. But a railroad line cut straight through it.

One Sunday afternoon a young married couple were crossing these tracks. She apparently did not watch her step, for she managed to catch her foot in the frog of a switch to a siding and could not pull it free. Her husband stopped to help her.

But try as they might they could not get her foot loose. While they were working at it, a tramp showed up, walking the ties. He joined the husband in trying to pull the young woman's foot loose. No luck --

Out of sight around the curve a train whistled. Perhaps there would have been time to run and flag it down, perhaps not. In any case both men went right ahead trying to pull her free. . .and the train hit them.

The wife was killed, the husband was mortally injured and did later, the tramp was killed -- and testimony showed that neither man made the slightest effort to save himself.

The husband's behavior was heroic. . .but what we expect of a husband toward his wife: his right, and his proud privilege, to die for his woman. But what of this nameless stranger? Up to the very last second he could have jumped clear. He did not. He was still trying to save this woman he had never seen before in his life, right up to the very instant the train killed him. And that's all we'll ever know about him.

THIS is how a man dies.

This is how a MAN. . .lives!

"They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old; Age shall not wither them nor the years condemn; As the going down of the sun and in the morning, we shall remember them..."

-Tomb of the Scottish Unknown Soldier, Edinburgh

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Best Radio Program in America

If you feel the need, as I do, to keep at least one finger pointed in the direction of mainstream news sources, let me strongly suggest John Batchelor and his three-hour Sunday night current affairs program.

Available from 10 pm eastern until 1 am via KFI in Los Angeles and from New York from 7 pm eastern until 10 pm on WABC in New York (click on the "listen live" button on each website), this excerpt from his show's promotional materials tells it all:

... The John Batchelor Show is an essential tool for understanding the new order in the 21st Century. The world is now facing a dangerous and fanatical enemy determined to destroy Western civilization on both political and military fronts. In this, the first great ideological battle of the new millennium, it is imperative to know the major players and the theaters in which they operate.

The John Batchelor Show features a multitude of distinctive elements. John's themes cover every detail - from military battles, presidential campaigns, planetary exploration, and Hollywood politicos to his own international travel. John has broadcast from many corners of the world and in his program he calls out to all points, including New York, Jerusalem, Des Moines, Kazakhstan, Orlando, Manchester, Morocco, Boston, Taipei, Washington, and Baghdad...

Remember - you're NOT going to get anti-NWO material here.

What you will get is the consistently most intelligent, in-depth discussion of domestic and foreign geopolitical topics I've found on radio - think NPR without the smug leftist point of view. Most importantly, you WON'T hear many of these issues discussed in the mainstream media for several days after Batchelor addresses them, if ever.

That's been my experience since 2002 and the start of GWII, when I started listening.

Give it a try, either live or via podcast/web recording (scroll about 3/4 down the page and look for Batchelor under the "Sunday" listing).

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Musical Interlude - Lest We Be Deemed 'Too Gloomy'

I'll be offline this weekend, but thanks to Theo (caution: sensitive viewers may be offended by pics of full airplane nudity and pin-up girl female forms), the Leningrad Cowboys, and the Red Army Choir, we have this different version of an American classic.

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 21, 2008

"I Know - Let's Print Another Boatload of Fiat Money & Use It to Buy Worthless Junk!"

Yeah, that should work.

Check out this article from the UK's Financial Times (note: free registration may be required to access full article):

Central banks on both sides of the Atlantic are actively engaged in discussions about the feasibility of mass purchases of mortgage-backed securities as a possible solution to the credit crisis.

Such a move would involve the use of public funds to shore up the market in a key financial instrument and restore confidence by ending the current vicious circle of forced sales, falling prices and weakening balance sheets.

The conversations, part of a broader exchange as to possible future steps in battling financial turmoil, are at an early stage. However, the fact that such a move is being discussed at all indicates the depth of concern that exists over the health of the banking system.

It shows how far the policy debate has shifted in recent weeks as the crisis has spread to prime mortgage assets in the US and engulfed Bear Stearns, the investment bank.

The Bank of England appears most enthusiastic to explore the idea. The Federal Reserve is open in principle to the possibility that intervention in the MBS market might be justified in certain scenarios, but only as a last resort. The European Central Bank appears least enthusiastic.

Any move to buy mortgage-backed securities would require government involvement because taxpayers would be assuming credit risk. There is no indication as yet that the US administration would favour such moves. In the eurozone it would require agreement from 15 separate governments.

One argument among policymakers and bankers has been that new international rules have exacerbated the credit squeeze by requiring assets to be valued at their current record lows rather than at face value.

But a strongly held view at one European central bank is that it is not “mark-to-market” accounting that is to blame for severe weaknesses in banks’ balance sheets but that prices of MBS securities have fallen to levels that imply unrealistically high rates of default. (emphasis added)

Or, just perchance, the "severe weaknesses in banks' balance sheets" could be due to the fact that many of those banks' assets are, in fact, impossible to sell and are thus worthless, at least functionally.

Keep these facts in mind as you consider the implications of this latest piece of Federal Reserve craziness:

1) The FedGov is $9,392,204,908,953.75 in debt to the creditors of the world, as of March 20, 2008;

2) In addition to that incomprehensibly-huge $9 trillion-plus amount, your elected representatives in Congress (the states and the locals have done the same, remember) have promised to pay an additional $52.7 trillion in benefits over and above the resources currently being set aside currently to do so; and

3) Funding for the bulk of this ongoing spending binge comes from Japan, Communist China, the UK (including its offshore banking havens), and the world's oil-exporting countries.

Did you ever wonder what would happen if one or more of these buyers of the FedGov's IOUs (that's all a government bond is, after all) said that they would prefer to do something else with their money, rather than keep lending it to such an out-of-control spendthrift?

No need to wonder - it's already happening:

As feared, foreign bond holders have begun to exercise a collective vote of no confidence in the devaluation policies of the US government. The Federal Reserve faces a potential veto of its rescue measures.

Asian, Mid East and European investors stood aside at last week's auction of 10-year US Treasury notes. "It was a disaster," said Ray Attrill from 4castweb. "We may be close to the point where the uglier consequences of benign neglect towards the currency are revealed."

The share of foreign buyers ("indirect bidders") plummeted to 5.8pc, from an average 25pc over the last eight weeks. On the Richter Scale of unfolding dramas, this matches the death of Bear Stearns...
Now, on top of that very shaky platform, comes a private entity called the Federal Reserve with multi-hundred-billion dollar "rescue plans" that will cost the American taxpayer his shirt, both through whopping tax increases (needed to make the interest payments on the ever-mounting pile of debt) and likely hyperinflation.

BOHICA, my friends.

And as our little Chinese friend advised, hold that gun tightly in your hands.

You're going to need it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Heller and the Supremes

Here's David Hardy's notes on the oral argument today. His initial call:

...My guess is a 5-4 for us, possible a bit better but I wouldn't bet on it, and a narrow opinion by Roberts: a total ban on a class of arms violates the 2nd Amendment. The lower courts can figure out any additional inplications, and after a few years we may take another case to flesh it out some more. As Roberts pointed out, first amendment standard of review is a creation of the courts, and they took years on it.

Key event: Justice Kennedy turns out to be strongly pro individual rights. Read the notes.

The blog run by big DC law firm Akin Gump has this recap.

My call?

- RKBA is an individual right

- subject to reasonable regulation in furtherance of important governmental objectives (i.e., intermediate scrutiny)

- requiring the current DC ban to be re-written to pass Constitutional muster

- but permitting the continuation of 90%+ percent of existing gun laws

- including the new AWB II to be enacted in the first 100 days of the new Administration and Congress in 2009.

Tempus fugit.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Another Visit From Our Federal Friends

Remember a while back when our friends from DoJ and DHS stopped by?

They must have been feeling shy, 'cuz they didn't leave any comments.

But as the screen capture above demonstrates, that little scamp from DHS was back today, during work hours, courtesy of the American taxpayer.

If you've got questions, we've got answers.

Feel free to ask.

We're here to help.


Watch This Video

It will take maybe twenty seconds.

The thoughts it invokes will last a while longer.

Hat-tip to Tam.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


David Codrea, through his indispensable War on Guns blog, has been covering the investigation and trial of Ryan Horsley, an Idaho gun dealer persecuted by the BATFU for minor clerical errors in his gun sales records.

At the conclusion of Horsley's trial, a Federal "Judicial Security Inspector" approached Horsley with a message for Codrea.

Codrea picks up the story from there:

Taking the Bait

An Open Response to

US Marshal Judicial Security Inspector

David A. Meyer

I understand you took Ryan Horsley aside at the conclusion of trial testimony and instructed him to advise me of the Court Security Improvement Act of 2007, specifically, "Inspector Meyer asked me to contact you in regards to posting any information with the intent to threaten, intimidate, or incite the commission of a crime of violence against that covered official... "

In other words, this:

`Sec. 119. Protection of individuals performing certain official duties

`(a) In General- Whoever knowingly makes restricted personal information about a covered official, or a member of the immediate family of that covered official, publicly available--

`(1) with the intent to threaten, intimidate, or incite the commission of a crime of violence against that covered official, or a member of the immediate family of that covered official; or

`(2) with the intent and knowledge that the restricted personal information will be used to threaten, intimidate, or facilitate the commission of a crime of violence against that covered official, or a member of the immediate family of that covered official,

shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

`(b) Definitions- In this section--

`(1) the term `restricted personal information' means, with respect to an individual, the Social Security number, the home address, home phone number, mobile phone number, personal email, or home fax number of, and identifiable to, that individual;

`(2) the term `covered official' means--

`(A) an individual designated in section 1114; or

`(B) a grand or petit juror, witness, or other officer in or of, any court of the United States, or an officer who may be serving at any examination or other proceeding before any United States magistrate judge or other committing magistrate;

`(3) the term `crime of violence' has the meaning given the term in section 16; and

`(4) the term `immediate family' has the meaning given the term in section 115(c)(2).'.

Your message has been received loud and clear--along with your warning that you will not hesitate to come down and arrest anyone you suspect of violating this law. Before I give you my reply, I want to make it clear that my response is mine alone. Any retaliation is mine to face, and taking it out on the man who passed your message along at your direction will not be something you can now do outside of a brightly focused light.

That said, OK, I recognize bait when I see it. I'll bite. Here is my considered response. Now that you've snagged me, hang on tight.

First off, if you have anything to say to me, say it directly. Don't go presuming sovereign citizens are your personal messenger boys.

Second, how dare you?

Don't presume to have authority to impose any prior restraint on what I write. Don't presume to warn me about what you will or will not allow me to say.

For you to imply any of my work might be illegal is a vile slander and you know it--if it wasn't, I'd already be in custody (assuming I was allowed to survive the arrest). Hell, you even admitted as much, but qualified that while I hadn't broken any laws, people who comment on this blog might.

That ain't your call, either, Bub. Don't presume to tell my guests what they can say--I run this site, you don't. I don't moderate and pre-approve comments, so if you have a problem with that, take it up with Blogger, which provides this as a standard option.

I've made it clear on numerous occasions that I allow "comments except for those that are...something that could be legally perceived as a threat against a specific person other than myself..."

Those get removed. And I've even warned people against it.

I've also speculated that comments that may be perceived as threatening are invariably posted anonymously, and that trolls doing it could very well be agents provocateur attempting to bring discredit or worse to my site. Heck, they might even work for the DoJ--it's not like you guys don't hang out here at all hours.

But you apparently need to establish a plausible cover story. Let's see--the same mighty BATFU that sends armed invaders smashing into people's homes and businesses is just scared out of their jackboots over what's being said about them on... blogs, so they need to enlist a protector, that would be you, against "Homegrown terrorists".

That would be people like me?

I dunno, Dave. It seems more likely they don't have confidence Judge Lodge will arrive at the verdict they've invested--what--how many hundreds of thousands of dollars in(?)--so they're coming up with Plan B in case they don't get the vindictive satisfaction they crave?

And we know they don't like light being shined on their activities--hell, we knew that when they presumed to authorize whether or not reporters could be present when they conducted public business, and maintained that bloggers were not "Authorized Journalists."

For the record:

I've never threatened anyone nor encouraged anyone else to threaten any one. I don't threaten people.

I've never given out any specific identifiable information about any of the agents, inspectors or witnesses involved in this case.

Now we get to the word "intimidate" and boy, that's kind of like beauty, you know--in the eye of the beholder? I mean, that's kind of like the anti-gun loons who say they have a right to feel safe, like I have any control over how they react emotionally.

So with no watchdog press, and with this edict you're warning me about in practice, "intimidation" might be construed as taking of photographs of government agents in action who end up being witnesses. If this is now verboten, well, there's only one set of lights left to turn off: RKBA (look it up) bloggers.

Now I have on occasion meant to ridicule, like now, and even dare and defy, like..uh...now again.

So if you think you have grounds to arrest me for violating this new law you just had to issue an official warning on, if you think you can prove I'm out there doing anything illegal, immoral or fattening, well, y'all know where my taxes get sent to, so I don't think you'll have any problem finding me.

I think it more likely you're just engaging in one of those color of authority abuses to try to chill free speech. I think BATFU's tired of having their vindictive actions exposed and they wanted you to throw some fear out there to make it stop. Well, hell, why would you expect people who don't respect the Second Amendment to give a damn about the First?

Funny how unintended some consequences are, isn't it? Instead, here I am calling attention to things even louder. Say, do you think Judge Lodge will appreciate hearing about your ham-handedness in this? I'm going to write him and find out.

So here's the thing, Dave. If you want to take this further, just say the word. I won't talk with you on the phone unless I can record the conversation, or in person unless I have an attorney present, but you're free to email me back (dcodrea AT hotmail DOT com) as long as you know I'm going to post it at WarOnGuns. Aside from that, if you want to go even further and arrest me (and why would a US Marshal send me a warning that he was prepared to do just that if that wasn't the ultimate card in your hand?), I do hope you can conduct things peaceably, as I would have no intention of missing my day in court.

At the risk of sounding paranoid (right, BATFU fears people like me and my site visitors?), I want to establish a record that I will not physically resist. If anything transpires that says I did, it will be a lie.

Easy. I've got kids in my house.

So with all that out of the way, I guess there's nothing left to do but present you with this. I bit, so now it's your turn:


This warning on the part of a federal marshal is chilling, and it was intended to be. By making specific mention of not just this blog, but of you who comment on it, and by warning us against something we've never engaged in, it's pretty clear what the intent was here.

Unlike many bloggers, I write under my own name. I do so because better men than me pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor, and bequeathed to me a sacred inheritance. If I am to consider myself even minimally worthy of their great sacrifices, I can do no less than strive to do the same--albeit with full humility in acknowledging my comparative shortcomings.

But I knew when I got involved in 2A activism many years ago that doing it sincerely would involve potential legal repercussions--from defying the state of California on registering my property, to chiding the City of San Francisco on their elitist hypocrisy and lawlessness. I do this not because I'm self-destructive, but because these are the agents of the state who rely on fear to impose their will, and I'm more resentful of that than I am afraid.

Governments are instituted among men to secure the blessings of Liberty. People should not be afraid of their government. I want to help dispel that fear. And I can't do that if I'm hiding in the shadows. I can't encourage others to do that--which is what we need if we're ever to secure meaningful reforms.

So I long ago made the decision that my Internet activities would be an open book. What I have written cannot be erased--at least by me. The good marshal here is free to look at everything I've ever said on this site and elsewhere, and he'll not find a shred of evidence supporting his decision to warn me--and you, the WarOnGuns correspondents--against committing a federal crime.

It's the same with emails. Many of you have written me and know I always make a good faith attempt to write back. And yes, at times I've wondered if some of my unknown correspondents might be trying to get me to write something imprudent. I've not only never taken that bait, but I don't even use encryption--something I've been urged to do, but my instincts say I will be better able to defend myself if I can demonstrate I've never tried to hide anything.

Regulars here will note that this post is a lot longer than I usually write. I did it because this time--with the specific mention of willingness to make arrests on the part of a federal LEO, I know making a post like this will not only anger him, but will get me as close to the line as I can get--knowing full well that this may still inspire him to increase the pressure, instead of just going the hell away and leaving me the hell alone.

Without meaning to sound paranoid, if the fedgov did decide I'd crossed their line with this and sent someone out to enforce their new edict against me, what do you think the chances are they'd send out someone to the home of a known "gun extremist" to politely ring my doorbell and hand me papers?

I figure my best protection at this point is to either let them cow me into silence, in which case this post would never have been written--or else shine as much light and bang as many pots as I can in case they decide to follow through. That's what I'm doing.

The ball is now in their court.

The floor is now open for comments. Careful now, both in what you say here and in what you say if you choose to email Inspector Meyer. As with so much else, and as he has made abundantly clear, intimidation and threats are the sole province of "The Only Ones," and they will brook no competition.

And if anybody wants to make a copy of this post, just as insurance in case there are repercussions, go right ahead.


The hour is very, very late.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Update 3/17/08: JPFO nails it, as this excerpt reveals:

Judging from both their activities and their expressed attitudes over the years, BATFE's highest objective is to violate -- and to ultimately obliterate, under color of law -- the highest law of the land, the first ten Amendments to the Constitution, commonly known as the Bill of Rights. This especially included the Second Amendment and now, apparently, they're going after the First Amendment, as well. This is an egregious affront to every enduring principle of American liberty.

It seems especially hypocritical when the anonymity -- and with it, the impunity -- that BATFE demands of its victims is contrasted with government's insistence that ordinary citizens be increasingly fingerprinted, retinal-photographed, DNA-recorded, stripped of their personal and financial privacy entirely, and affixed with electronic leashes of various kinds including the so-called "Real ID" system. Government has installed surveillance cameras everywhere -- some can even see through people's clothing -- and devices for peering through the walls of their homes in blatant contempt for the 4th and 5th Amendments.

And yet its agents strive to retain their anonymity and avoid responsibility for their acts. This reminds us of yet another morally questionable practice of many federal, state, and local police agencies: since when did American cops start wearing masks? Isn't it the bad guys who wear masks, Mr. Meyer? Aren't they properly anxious to conceal their identities to avoid responsibility for their criminal acts?

Could government's masks be revealing something about government?

There is no room, Mr. Meyer, for secret police in an open society. No gun-toting government employee should ever be allowed to appear in public in civilian clothing, but should be required instead to wear a distinctive uniform on the job, complete with his or her name and badge number in six-inch reflective letters on the back and in three-inch letters on the chest. It should be a felony for any "law enforcement officer" to conceal his or her face, even with protective headgear.

Understand that, as outlandish as that idea may seem right now, the more threatening agents of the government make themselves appear, the more frequent and brutal the operations they carry out, the more people whose rights they crush beneath their jackboots, the more reasonable the idea will seem to our increasingly frightened fellow citizens.

We strongly suggest, Mr. Meyer, that you obey the law, instead -- the real law, that is -- and either start enforcing the Bill of Rights exactly like the highest law of the land that it happens to be, or that you quit now and find some employment more appropriate to your talents...

Read the whole thing.

And remember the Boy Scout motto.

Living in an Imperial World: The All-Seeing Eye

This story from the front page of today's Wall Street Journal speaks for itself:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Five years ago, Congress killed an experimental Pentagon antiterrorism program meant to vacuum up electronic data about people in the U.S. to search for suspicious patterns. Opponents called it too broad an intrusion on Americans' privacy, even after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

But the data-sifting effort didn't disappear. The National Security Agency, once confined to foreign surveillance, has been building essentially the same system.

The central role the NSA has come to occupy in domestic intelligence gathering has never been publicly disclosed. But an inquiry reveals that its efforts have evolved to reach more broadly into data about people's communications, travel and finances in the U.S. than the domestic surveillance programs brought to light since the 2001 terrorist attacks.


Congress now is hotly debating domestic spying powers under the main law governing U.S. surveillance aimed at foreign threats. An expansion of those powers expired last month and awaits renewal, which could be voted on in the House of Representatives this week. The biggest point of contention over the law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, is whether telecommunications and other companies should be made immune from liability for assisting government surveillance.

Largely missing from the public discussion is the role of the highly secretive NSA in analyzing that data, collected through little-known arrangements that can blur the lines between domestic and foreign intelligence gathering. Supporters say the NSA is serving as a key bulwark against foreign terrorists and that it would be reckless to constrain the agency's mission. The NSA says it is scrupulously following all applicable laws and that it keeps Congress fully informed of its activities.

According to current and former intelligence officials, the spy agency now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic emails and Internet searches as well as bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel and telephone records. The NSA receives this so-called "transactional" data from other agencies or private companies, and its sophisticated software programs analyze the various transactions for suspicious patterns. Then they spit out leads to be explored by counterterrorism programs across the U.S. government, such as the NSA's own Terrorist Surveillance Program, formed to intercept phone calls and emails between the U.S. and overseas without a judge's approval when a link to al Qaeda is suspected.

The NSA's enterprise involves a cluster of powerful intelligence-gathering programs, all of which sparked civil-liberties complaints when they came to light. They include a Federal Bureau of Investigation program to track telecommunications data once known as Carnivore, now called the Digital Collection System, and a U.S. arrangement with the world's main international banking clearinghouse to track money movements.

The effort also ties into data from an ad-hoc collection of so-called "black programs" whose existence is undisclosed, the current and former officials say. Many of the programs in various agencies began years before the 9/11 attacks but have since been given greater reach. Among them, current and former intelligence officials say, is a longstanding Treasury Department program to collect individual financial data including wire transfers and credit-card transactions.

It isn't clear how many of the different kinds of data are combined and analyzed together in one database by the NSA. An intelligence official said the agency's work links to about a dozen antiterror programs in all.

A number of NSA employees have expressed concerns that the agency may be overstepping its authority by veering into domestic surveillance. And the constitutional question of whether the government can examine such a large array of information without violating an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy "has never really been resolved," said Suzanne Spaulding, a national-security lawyer who has worked for both parties on Capitol Hill...

Read the whole thing.

Tempus fugit.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Living in an Imperial World: Cameras, Cameras Everywhere

And not a pause to think....

Consider the consequences of this story:

A British company has developed a camera that can detect weapons, drugs or explosives hidden under people's clothes from up to 25 meters away in what could be a breakthrough for the security industry.

The T5000 camera, created by a company called ThruVision, uses what it calls "passive imaging technology" to identify objects by the natural electromagnetic rays -- known as Terahertz or T-rays -- that they emit.

The high-powered camera can detect hidden objects from up to 80 feet away and is effective even when people are moving. It does not reveal physical body details and the screening is harmless, the company says.

The technology, which has military and civilian applications and could be used in crowded airports, shopping malls or sporting events, will be unveiled at a scientific development exhibition sponsored by Britain's Home Office on March 12-13...

Think too about this story, from this side of the pond.

You may ask, "Who gives a fig about the installation of government surveillance cameras in slaughterhouses?"

But would the answer to your rhetorical question change if you recalled

- the surveillance cameras in parking lots and street corners?

Researchers and security companies are developing cameras that not only watch the world but also interpret what they see. Soon, some cameras may be able to find unattended bags at airports, guess your height or analyze the way you walk to see if you are hiding something.

Most of the cameras widely used today are used as forensic tools to identify crooks after-the-fact. (Think grainy video on local TV news of convenience store robberies gone wrong.) But the latest breed, known as "intelligent video," could transform cameras from passive observers to eyes with brains, able to detect suspicious behavior and potentially prevent crime before it occurs.

Surveillance cameras are common in many cities, monitoring tough street corners to deter crime, watching over sensitive government buildings and even catching speeders. Cameras are on public buses and in train stations, building lobbies, schools and stores. Most feed video to central control rooms, where they are monitored by security staff.

The innovations could mean fewer people would be needed to watch what they record, and make it easier to install more in public places and private homes.

"Law enforcement people in this country are realizing they can use video surveillance to be in a lot of places at one time," said Roy Bordes, who runs an Orlando-based security consulting company. He also is a council vice president with ASIS International, a Washington-based organization for security officials.

The advancements have already been put to work. For example, cameras in Chicago and Washington can detect gunshots and alert police. Baltimore installed cameras that can play a recorded message and snap pictures of graffiti sprayers or illegal dumpers.

In the commercial market, the gaming industry uses camera systems that can detect facial features, according to Bordes. Casinos use their vast banks of security cameras to hunt cheating gamblers who have been flagged before.

In London, one of the largest users of surveillance, cameras provided key photos of the men who bombed the underground system in July 2005 and four more who failed in a second attempt just days later. But the cameras were only able to help with the investigation, not prevent the attacks.

Companies that make the latest cameras say the systems, if used broadly, could make video surveillance much more powerful. Cameras could monitor airports and ports, help secure homes and watch over vast borders to catch people crossing illegally.

Intelligent surveillance uses computer algorithms to interpret what a camera records. The system can be programmed to look for particular things, like an unattended bag or people walking somewhere they don't belong.

"If you think of the camera as your eye, we are using computer programs as your brain," said Patty Gillespie, branch chief for image processing at the Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, Md. Today, the military funds much of the smart-surveillance research.

At the University of Maryland, engineering professor Rama Chellappa and a team of graduate students have worked on systems that can identify a person's unique gait or analyze the way someone walks to determine if they are a threat.

A camera trained to look for people on a watch list, for example, could combine their unique walk with facial-recognition tools to make an identification. A person carrying a heavy load under a jacket would walk differently than someone unencumbered — which could help identify a person hiding a weapon. The system could even estimate someone's height.

With two cameras and a laptop computer set up in a conference room, Chellappa and a team of graduate students recently demonstrated how intelligent surveillance works.

A student walked into the middle of the room, dropped a laptop case, then walked away. On the laptop screen, a green box popped up around him as he moved into view, then a second focused on the case when it was dropped. After a few seconds, the box around the case went red, signaling an alert.

In another video, a car pulled into a parking lot and the driver got out, a box springing up around him. It moved with the driver as he went from car to car, looking in the windows instead of heading into the building.

In both cases, the camera knew what was normal — the layout of the room with the suspicious bag and the location of the office door and parking spots in the parking lot. Alerts were triggered when the unknown bag was added and when the driver didn't go directly into the building after parking his car.

Similar technology is currently in use by Marines in Iraq and by the subway system in Barcelona, according to ObjectVideo, a Reston, Va., firm that makes surveillance software.

ObjectVideo uses a "tripwire system" that allows users to set up virtual perimeters that are monitored by the cameras. If someone crosses that perimeter, the system picks it up, sends out an alert, and security staff can determine if there is a threat...

- the surveillance cameras in airports?

- the surveillance cameras along California's highways, for example?

- the surveillance cameras in metropolitan New York?

- the surveillance cameras in Chicago?

- the surveillance cameras in Washington DC?

- the surveillance cameras in smalltown America?

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. -- This snowy village, in the shadow of Fall Mountain and alongside the iced-over Connecticut River, is the kind of place where a little of anything usually suffices. There are just eight full-time police officers on the town's force, two chairs in the barbershop and one screen in the theater.

A little of anything -- except surveillance cameras. Bellows Falls has decided it needs 16 of those.

Using federal grant money, police plan to put up the 24-hour cameras at such spots as intersections, a sewage plant and the town square. All told, this hamlet will have just three fewer police surveillance cameras than the District of Columbia, which has 181 times Bellows Falls's population.

Similar cameras are already up in the Virginia communities of Galax and Tazewell, where police can pan right down Main Street, and in tiny Preston, Md., with two police officers and five police cameras. An interest in public, permanent video surveillance -- as well as the federal dollars to pay for it -- seems to be flowing down to the smallest levels of American law enforcement.

So far, the growth of small-town surveillance camera systems has not received much national notice. But it already seems to be changing the way such Mayberry-size places are policed...


But, despite the popularity of these systems, some critics still question whether they are any good at stopping crimes in progress. In Washington, for instance, the worst offense caught on police cameras so far seems to have been a car break-in -- in 2001.

"Nothing will be happening most of the time. Multiply that by several cameras with nothing happening, all the time. It's very difficult for any human being to be vigilant," said Michael Scott, director of the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, which gets federal funding to write guidelines for police procedures.

Small-town surveillance would seem to offer only a whole lot more nothing. Still, some smaller police departments have been drawn in: An informal search turned up 17 with 100 or fewer officers that either had a surveillance system or plans to put one up. All but two of these departments had either created or expanded their system since 2001.

They come as big as the department in Salisbury, Md., with 88 officers, which plans to put up seven cameras this year. The smallest included the Hoopa Valley Tribal Police in Northern California, where the nine-member force often has no officer on duty from 4 to 8 a.m.

In several cases, funding to buy cameras appears to have come from the federal government, either for community policing or homeland security.

On Maryland's Eastern Shore, for example, Ridgely Police Chief Merl Evans got a homeland security grant, funneled through the state, to pay for five cameras apiece in Ridgely, population 1,300, and Preston, population 573. The cameras went up on water towers, at water-treatment plants and in the two small downtowns.

"It was difficult to be able to find something to use the money for," said Evans, who is also temporary chief in Preston. He said because the grants needed to be used on "target hardening" -- protecting infrastructure -- "the cameras fit in real nice."

Spokesmen for the departments of Justice and Homeland Security said they were unable to compile information about how many small-town camera programs the agencies had funded, or how much had been spent...

- or the funding source for all of those cameras?

Thought not.

And besides, it's not like there some big plan to coordinate all of the collected images and other intelligence amongst all of these departments which have received Federal law enforcement/Homeland Security grants.

After all, as the man said - it can't happen here.

Tempus fugit.

The Last Test: Finale

As promised, here's the final chapter in L. Neil Smith's series in The Libertarian Enterprise on how to save the American experiment.

Any idea on how to drive these Good Words though the static in the American collective semi-consciousness?

Here's a good start, from the prior chapter.

Tempus fugit.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Lao Ji Xuelei Chou, Jin Wo Shou Zhong Qiang

More wisdom from the East from Free Market Fairy Tales, who reminds us:

Never forget the hatred, forged of blood and tears,
and hold that gun tightly in your hands!


Living in an Imperial World: Ve Vish To Keep You Zafe, Ja?

Just a little article from today's Washington Post re the latest from our anointed Protectors:

Several thousand law enforcement agencies are creating the foundation of a domestic intelligence system through computer networks that analyze vast amounts of police information to fight crime and root out terror plots.

As federal authorities struggled to meet information-sharing mandates after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, police agencies from Alaska and California to the Washington region poured millions of criminal and investigative records into shared digital repositories called data warehouses, giving investigators and analysts new power to discern links among people, patterns of behavior and other hidden clues.

Those network efforts will begin expanding further this month, as some local and state agencies connect to a fledgling Justice Department system called the National Data Exchange, or N-DEx. Federal authorities hope N-DEx will become what one called a "one-stop shop" enabling federal law enforcement, counterterrorism and intelligence analysts to automatically examine the enormous caches of local and state records for the first time.

Although Americans have become accustomed to seeing dazzling examples of fictional crime-busting gear on television and in movies, law enforcement's search for clues has in reality involved a mundane mix of disjointed computers, legwork and luck.

These new systems are transforming that process. "It's going from the horse-and-buggy days to the space age, that's what it's like," said Sgt. Chuck Violette of the Tucson police department, one of almost 1,600 law enforcement agencies that uses a commercial data-mining system called Coplink...

However, certain cynics and politically-unreliable malcontents have dared to question the Elites:

...But even some advocates of information-sharing technology worry that without proper oversight and enforceable restrictions the new networks pose a threat to basic American values by giving police too much power over information. Timothy Sample, a former intelligence official who runs the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, is among those who think computerized information-sharing is critical to national security but fraught with risks.

"As a nation, our laws have not kept up," said Sample, whose group serves as a professional association of intelligence officials in the government and intelligence contracting executives in the private sector.

Thomas McNamara, chief of the federal Information Sharing Environment office, said a top goal of federal officials is persuading regional systems to adopt most of the federal rules, both for privacy and to build a sense of confidence among law enforcement authorities who might be reluctant to share widely because of security concerns.

"Part of the challenge is to leverage these cutting-edge tools so we can securely and appropriately share that information which supports efforts to protect our communities from future terrorist attacks," McNamara said. "Equally important is that we do so in a manner that fully protects the information privacy and legal rights of all Americans."

Miranda, the Tucson police chief, said there's no overstating the utility of Coplink for his force. But he too acknowledges that such power raises new questions about how to keep it in check and ensure that the trust people place in law enforcement is not misplaced.

"I don't want the people in my community to feel we're behind every little tree and surveilling them," he said. "If there's any kind of inkling that we're misusing our power and our technology, that trust will be destroyed."

Read the whole thing. And remember:

Ve are ze "Only Vuns".

Und ve know vere you liff

And work.

And play.

And who your friends are.

And your enemies as well.

And what guns you own.

And how much ammo.

And what drugs you take - prescription and otherwise.

And what drugs you don't take - yet.

And where your children go to school.

And where your children play.

And what you own.

And what you owe.

And what your political beliefs are.

And your religious views as well.

And where you sleep.

And with whom.

Tempus fugit.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

There, Our Troubles Began: Garet Garrett & The Revolution of 1933

With the US dollar today trading at historic lows against the Euro and other major currencies, it's helpful (albeit in a post-terminal-diagnosis sense) to understand how our economy and our country got into this mess.

And understand - a collapsing dollar, while supportive of US exports by reducing prices for American goods shipped to importing countries, means that Americans pay more for every single item being imported into this country. Food, oil, textiles, industrial raw materials - everything imported costs more per unit in dollar terms when each of those dollars is worth less and less each day.

How did we get here? The story begins more than eighty years ago, with the run-up to the Great Stock Market Crash of 1929. Although controversy remains as to the causes of the Crash, there is considerable agreement that a contributing factor was the widespread availability of low-interest credit during the Twenties. That credit was used to both expand production and, more ominously, for debt-based speculation in stocks and bonds.

One of the first writers to advance this theory - that the speculative bubble of the Twenties led naturally to a correction to the overvalued stock prices that resulted - was Garet Garrett (photo above). In 1931, Garrett wrote The Bubble That Broke The World, in which Garrett, according to this article by Jeffrey Tucker:

...ascribes the crash to the pile up of debt, which in turn was made possible by the Fed's printing machine. This created distortions in the production structure that cried out for correction.

What is the answer, according to Garrett? Let the correction happen and learn from our mistakes.

Such is the thesis, but take note: this book was a big seller in 1931. In other words, two years before FDR arrived with his destructive New Deal, ascribing the depression to capitalism and speculation, Garrett had already explained what was really behind the correction...

Garrett spent the rest of his life sounding the alarm as to the unprecedented power-grab by FDR and other advocates of limitless government. His essay The Revolution Was is essential, as are the articles contained in the collection Salvos Against The New Deal. "The Revolution Was" is joined with two other essays - "Ex America" and "Rise of Empire" - in what was one of Garrett's last works, The People's Pottage.

Most relevant to today's economic tribulations is this article by Garrett, from the March 3, 1934 Saturday Evening Post, in which he explains how the Democratic Presidential candidate in the 1932 election first vehemently vowed to support the gold backing of the US dollar, and then, upon election, reversed course.

Here's a sample from that article:

..."One of the most commonly repeated misrepresentations by Republican speakers," said Mr. Roosevelt, "including the President, has been the claim that the Democratic position with regard to money has not been made sufficiently clear. The President is seeing visions of rubber dollars. This is only part of his campaign fear. I am not going to characterize these statements. I merely present the facts. The Democratic platform specifically declares, ‘We advocate a sound currency to be preserved at all hazards.' That's plain English."

In so far as the popular vote that delivered the Government to the Democratic Party was touched by thought of money or monetary principles, it was a vote for sound money and for the gold standard. That is to say, what followed was without color or suggestion of a mandate from the people.

And what was it that followed?

First, gold payments were suspended. Next, the gold standard was forsaken, though, as it were, temporarily. Then it was flatly repudiated by law, the President referring to it as one of the "old fetishes of so-called international bankers," now to be replaced by an idea of planned currency. "The United States seeks," he said, "the kind of dollar which a generation hence will have the same purchasing power as the dollar value we hope to obtain in the future."

To take the country off the gold standard, certain steps had been necessary.

It did not happen all at one stroke. The time it took altogether was three months; and during these three months the Government sold to banks and investors $1,400,000,000 of securities, all of them bearing the engraved words, "Principal and interest payable in gold coin of the present standard of value."

On March 9th the Congress enacted an emergency law investing the President and the Secretary of the Treasury with absolute power to control money and banking, including the power, if necessary, to require all private owners of gold to deliver it up to the United States Treasury in exchange for paper money. Then, as the banks began to reopen under strict Treasury regulations, they were forbidden to pay out gold, except by particular permission of the Government. Gold payments, therefore, were suspended by all banks, though not yet by the Government. The country was still on the gold standard. To suspend gold payments in a great emergency is by no means the same as to abandon or repudiate the gold standard.

On March 12th, the United States Treasury sold $800,000,000 short-term bonds, called certificates of indebtedness, and on each bond was engraved the promise of the Government to redeem the principle and pay the interest "in United States gold coin of the present standard of value." On March 15th it sold $100,000,000 Treasury bills, which is a form of IOU, and these also were payable in gold.

On April 5th the President issued an order commanding all private persons and all private banks to deliver, by May 1st, their gold and gold certificates to the nearest Federal Reserve Bank in exchange for paper money, under penalty of fine and imprisonment. After that it was a crime to have more than $100 in gold or gold certificates in one's possession. A gold certificate is, or was, simply a Treasury receipt for gold coin, reading on its face: "This certifies that there have been deposited in the Treasury of the United States ten dollars" [twenty, one hundred or one thousand dollars] "in gold coin, payable to the bearer on demand." This had been, for longer than anyone could remember, the finest money in the world - simply a receipt by the United States Treasury for coin held in trust in its vaults, payable to the bearer on demand. And now suddenly, both as money and as faith, it was broken...... April 5th, parallel to the President's order commanding privately owned gold to be surrendered, the Secretary of the Treasury issued a statement, saying: "Those surrendering gold, receive an equivalent amount of other forms of currency, and other forms of currency may be used for obtaining gold in an equivalent amount when authorized for proper purposes." That is a fairly good statement of what gold-standard money is. It is paper money that may be exchanged for gold, dollar for dollar, when one wants the gold for any purpose for which gold itself may be properly and rationally required. The Secretary of the Treasury added: "Gold held in private hoards serves no useful purpose under present circumstances. When added to the stock of the Federal Reserve Banks, it serves as a basis for credit and currency."

Thus people understood they were surrendering gold in time of emergency only to strengthen the banking system and that the paper money they received for it was, as the Secretary of the Treasury said, the equivalent of gold. There was yet no the slightest suggestion that the Government intended to devalue the standard gold dollar by reducing its gold content, purposely to destroy the equivalent value of that paper money, nor was there even a remote suggestion that it was writing a law to repudiate its gold contracts.

On April 19th the President proclaimed an embargo on exports of gold. That meant that the Government had decided to let the dollar go. Foreign holders of United States Government bonds could no longer expect to receive the principle and interest in gold - at least, not for a while - foreign holders of the United States Treasury receipts, called gold certificates, could no longer convert them into gold at any bank in the world. All over the world the value of the American dollar began to fall. As it turned out, that is precisely what the Government wanted. It wished the value of the dollar to fall in the international money market, thinking that this would cause American commodity prices to rise..... And yet only in a sense of payment were we off the gold standard. We had stopped paying gold, yes, but that is not the same as to repudiate the gold standard. Once before for nearly two decades the American Government had to pay with paper money. That was during and immediately after the Civil War. But it held all the time to the gold standard and ultimately restored all its paper money to gold parity. And now what immediately followed gave many people the idea that such was the case again.

On April 23rd, only four days after the President had proclaimed the embargo on gold exports, thereby serving notice to the world that the American Government would no longer hold its dollar to the gold standard - for that is what the embargo meant, and every banker and speculator in the world so understood it - only four days after this, the United States Treasury offered and sold $500,000,000 short-term bonds, called three-year notes. It made them in small denominations and recommended them to small investors; and in the Treasury circular offering these bond the Government said: "The principle and interest of these notes will be payable in United States gold coin of the present standard of value." People bought them on that representation, unaware that the Government was then writing the law to repudiate the contract.

On April 28th, five days later, the Senate passed the inflation law - namely, the Thomas amendment to the Agricultural Adjustment Act, authorizing the President to debase the gold-standard dollar by reducing its gold content one-half, to print and issue three billions of fiat money, and to exchange three billions of paper currency for outstanding Government bonds. Even that was not final. There was one more step.

On June 5th, responding to the wishes of the Administration, the Congress by joint resolution repudiated the gold clause in every form of public and private contract; as to all existing Government bonds, Treasury notes and certificates of indebtedness, bearing on their face the unqualified promise of the Government to pay them, principle and interest, in gold - including the $900,000,000 sold by the Treasury 12 weeks before and the $500,000,000 sold 6 weeks before - it declared they were payable, not in gold according to the covenant, not in paper money equivalent to gold, but in any kind of paper money the Government might see fit to print.

Thus in three months the Democratic Party had not only thrown the country off the gold standard; it had repudiated the gold standard utterly. More, it had repudiated the contract on every existing obligation of the United States Treasury in the form of a gold bond, a gold note or a gold receipt. The only thing left was the silver certificate, redeemable in silver coin on demand. That had not been repudiated; but the right to repudiate it had been reserved...
Thus, with affirmation of this grandest larceny by the Supreme Court in U.S. vs. Bankers' Trust Co., 294 U.S. 240 (1935), was set the course that brings us to today. The repudiation of silver redemption having been accomplished by 1968, we Americans are left with a collapsing fiat currency, backed by no more than the dubious promise of a thoroughly bankrupt United States government.

Take the time to read the entire article. The audacity of the monetary bait-and-switch is simply appalling, as someone who was raised on the myth of the sainted Roosevelt.

Then read The People's Pottage and Salvos.

You'll be a sadder but wiser camper as the coming Storm grows in fury.

Tempus fugit.