When I was a kid, and moving into my teen years, I did magic as a hobby (and later, semi-professionally). As recounted in these pages. (Magic, The Magic Club)
And, pre-Internet, there were mail-order catalogs with all manner of tricks and novelties available from across the nation. Even the world. And I would spend my meager allowance on as much as I could afford.
One magic and novelty company (Elbee Magic Co.) had a huge catalog, and included among the trick card decks and whoopee cushions were things like vinyl record albums, and promotional posters. Showing folks like The Beatles, live at the London Palladium featuring YOUR NAME HERE!
How cool was that? I could get a wall poster or even a vinyl record printed as though I were co-starring with The Beatles! Featuring Guffaw!
I never did, though. I was more interested in getting the playing cards.
And, time passed, and the magic company eventually went out-of-business. And I thought, so much for THAT idea…
Here it is 2016. The Internet is in full force, and I can (and do) send emails to politicians I hope listen to me and vote accordingly.
Sometimes, I receive a response. Like those from Senator McCain’s office a month or two after the fact!
My congressperson is Kyrsten Sinema (D). Aside from sometimes supporting the troops (she reportedly comes from a military family), she mostly is a big government liberal. A (D) after her name. Quelle surprise.
But being significantly younger than McCain, I had expectations she would be more tech-savvy. At least it generally only takes her a few days to a week to respond to emails I send. Even though in matters of individual liberty we rarely agree. Gun control, anyone?
Here is the last (form) letter I received from her (in part). In fact, I received TWO copies. So much for tech-savvy…
July 29, 2016
Wrong Street Address
Flotsam’s Mistake, AZ XXXXX-XXXX
Dear Mr. Guffaw,
Thank you for contacting me about TOPIC. I always appreciate hearing from Arizonans about issues facing our state and country. It is important that we have conversations about topics that are important to you and your family, and I hope you will continue to reach out to me to share your perspectives and suggestions.
Thank you for contacting me about TOPIC?! Seriously?
Considering this was all electronic, one would think at least the address would be correct?
Maybe I’ll send the next one from YOUR NAME HERE.
It would be fun getting a letter addressed to YOUR NAME HERE, regarding TOPIC!
(apologies to G. Carlin for using his terrific fictional town name Flotsam’s Mistake, in lieu of the real town.)
(from The Firearm Blog, in part)
The last few months in the US have been pretty tumultuous if you have been watching the news. Without getting too political, we have seen terror attacks, hate crimes, and a multitude of other criminal activity. It is truly unsettling and has a lot of people on edge. Some people want to scream gun control or make other arguments, but I digress. What is interesting is what firearms some Americans think should be legal or illegal. Vox, an internet news site, tried to delve into that exact topic.
Vox teamed up with Morning Consult and tried to ask the question of firearm legality. They asked 2,000 people whether certain firearms should be legal or illegal merely based on appearance and their name. The infographic below is very telling. The less it looks like a hunting firearm and the more scary it appears lead whoever they surveyed to believe it should be illegal!
Results from 2,000 people surveyed on whether certain firearms should be LEGAL or ILLEGAL [Credit: Vox/Morning Consult]
You get some interesting, and maybe not surprising results, when you start to identify respondents by their political affiliation. Vox and Morning Consult took it a few steps further by dividing results from their survey by gender. Their full story and results can be found HERE.
Yeah, regardless of what the polls think (democracy), I will keep my guns and, if at all possible add more.
BECAUSE MY INDIVIDUAL NATURAL RIGHTS ARE NOT UP FOR DEBATE OR PLEBISCITE!
Associate Supreme Court Justice Scalia has passed away.
Having said this (from The Wall Street Journal)…
Justice Antonin Scalia
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died Saturday at the age of 79, will be remembered as one of the court’s most influential, trenchant and controversial voices. Below are a few outtakes from some of the more influential and notable opinions from his storied, 30-year career on the court.
•D.C. v. Heller (2008) By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court struck down Washington, D.C.’s blanket ban on handguns, ruling for the first time that the Second Amendment confers a right to bear arms in one’s home. Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion.
There are many reasons that a citizen may prefer a handgun for home defense: It is easier to store in a location that is readily accessible in an emergency; it cannot easily be redirected or wrestled away by an attacker; it is easier to use for those without the upper-body strength to lift and aim a long gun; it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police. Whatever the reason, handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid.
• Kyllo v. U.S. (2001) The court ruled that the government couldn’t use thermal imaging technology to detect a suspected marijuana-growing operation without a warrant. Justice Scalia wrote that the use of sense-enhancing technology not in public use to gain information within the home constituted a search under the Fourth Amendment.
We have said that the Fourth Amendment draws “a firm line at the entrance to the house…That line, we think, must be not only firm but also bright which requires clear specification of those methods of surveillance that require a warrant. While it is certainly possible to conclude from the videotape of the thermal imaging that occurred in this case that no “significant” compromise of the homeowner’s privacy has occurred, we must take the long view, from the original meaning of the Fourth Amendment forward.
• Printz v. U.S. (1997) The court held, 5-4, that a federal law requiring local law enforcement to conduct background checks on gun purchases was unconstitutional. Justice Scalia wrote that the federal government may not compel the states to enact or administer federal programs.
Congress cannot circumvent that prohibition by conscripting the States’ officers directly. The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policymaking is involved, and no case by case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty.
• Vernonia School District v. Acton (1995) The court ruled 6-3 that public schools could randomly drug test student athletes. Justice Scalia wrote that the privacy interests compromised by giving urine samples under the district’s policy were negligible.
Just as when the government conducts a search in its capacity as employer (a warrantless search of an absent employee’s desk to obtain an urgently needed file, for example), the relevant question is whether that intrusion upon privacy is one that a reasonable employer might engage in, see O’Connor v. Ortega, 480 U. S. 709 (1987); so also when the government acts as guardian and tutor the relevant question is whether the search is one that a reasonable guardian and tutor might undertake. Given the findings of need made by the District Court, we conclude that in the present case it is.
• RAV v. City of St. Paul (1992) Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion in which the court struck down St. Paul, Minn.’s crime banning “hate-crime,” for violating the First Amendment’s free-speech guarantee.In so doing, the court tossed aside charges against a group of teenagers that burned a cross in the yard of an African-American family.
The dispositive question in this case, therefore, is whether content discrimination is reasonably necessary to achieve St. Paul’s [p396] compelling interests; it plainly is not. An ordinance not limited to the favored topics, for example, would have precisely the same beneficial effect. In fact, the only interest distinctively served by the content limitation is that of displaying the city council’s special hostility towards the particular biases thus singled out. [n8] That is precisely what the First Amendment forbids. The politicians of St. Paul are entitled to express that hostility — but not through the means of imposing unique limitations upon speakers who (however benightedly) disagree.
* * * *
Let there be no mistake about our belief that burning a cross in someone’s front yard is reprehensible. But St. Paul has sufficient means at its disposal to prevent such behavior without adding the First Amendment to the fire.
The Internet is rife with both praise and derision for this Justice. I shan’t post the hateful texts here. There is Great Fear amongst the conservative and libertarian elements of society that without his swing vote, and Constitutionally-measured opinions, that ‘we’ (civil libertarians, gun owners/carriers, and American Society at large) are doomed. Doomed to the progressive, post-Constitution era of further governmental intrusion on rights, and final loss of the America in which we were raised.
His body wasn’t even cold, when The President announced he would find a suitable replacement, and (some) Republicans suggested The Senate block ANY appointment for the next eleven months (until the next President could be sworn in)!
In other words, politics as usual.
God Save The United States Of America (while I’m still allowed to post this!)
Or should we?
Here in the United States, we pretend to have ‘Freedom of Speech’. The First Amendment and all that.
Of course, even that has it’s limitations. Child pornography for example. Yelling fire in a crowded theater. Criticizing a President, who happens to be Black.
Other countries, even those vanquished by us in war whom we rebuilt – not so much.
Germany, who placed restrictions on religion (Scientology). And, until recently, politics (National Socialism).
I don’t know if this is backlash to the influx of Muslim refugees, who obviously include some terrorists, or the resurgence of anti-Semitic thoughts and actions rising throughout Europe (and the World) during the past 20 years.
Or perhaps the ubiquitous yin-yang battle between Jews and Arabs…
But something new has been added. or perhaps re-added.
It’s one of the most talked about publications of the year. It’s not a new book. And it’s not even a well-written book. But Mein Kampf, by Adolf Hitler, which hits German bookshops for the first time in 70 years on Friday, is certainly attracting attention.
Hitler’s anti-Semitic tirade is seen as the forerunner to the Holocaust. But that is also why historians want it republished.
Hitler wrote it mostly while in prison in the mid-1920s, and academics say it helps explain the Nazis’ crazed ideology when they came to power less than a decade later.
As such, they say, it’s a crucial academic text. Not pleasant reading, but essential to understanding the Holocaust and Hitler’s brutal rule.
Surprisingly, some Jewish groups have also supported this edition.
This is an annotated, critical version, with thousands of academic notes.
And without this republication, the only hard copies available in Germany would be the pre-1945 Nazi editions, still found in second-hand bookshops or online. Those are certainly not critical.
The idea is that republishing Mein Kampf will help undermine it.
Until now, the copyright has been in the hands of the Bavarian government. But because 70 years have now passed since the the death of the author – in this case, Adolf Hitler – that copyright has expired.
Germany could ban it. After all, the swastika and other Nazi symbols are outlawed here, under incitement-to-violence laws.
Germans see that not as an infringement of free speech, but as a way of guaranteeing it, by not allowing fascist groups to intimidate minorities.
But the problem with banning Mein Kampf is that this could simply increase its power. (taken in part from BBC-World-Europe)
Is censorship bad, prima facie?
Or does Europe need to look it’s demons in the face, full-on?
And by extension, we as well?
Federal Judge Susan Dlott wrote the book on racial profiling in 2002.
Last week, she ripped it into one million tiny pieces when three black people broke into her $8 million Cincinnati home and started beating her and her 79-year old husband.
“There’s three black men with guns at our house,” Dlott told a 911 operator after she escaped the home invasion and ran to her neighbor’s house one mile away.
And just in case the operator did not hear her the first time, Dlott said it again: “My husband and the dogs are still there. There are three black men with guns and masks at the house.”
That’s Racial Profiling 101: Identifying the criminals by race, as if that had something to do with it.
Profiling. Another of those politically correct terms like social justice.
I believe there’s a reasonableness factor. If you (as an agent of law enforcement) are stopping folks going about their daily business because of their perceived ethnicity only – that’s profiling!
If you’re doing it because their daily business is criminal act – like burglary, armed robbery, drug dealing or smuggling, how they appear racially really doesn’t enter into it.
Unless you need to break radio traffic to broadcast a physical description of the suspect in flight.
Guys walking furtively in groups in a remote part of the desert within a few miles of the Mexican border who don’t appear to be hiking, legally hunting or just camping, and are Latino in appearance. probably aren’t being stopped and questioned just because they appear Latino.
(Question – And why aren’t we actively patrolling the Canadian border, looking for Canucks who appear American and are taking pricier American jobs? Inquiring minds want to know!)
A controversial and popular Sheriff going to Hispanic communities and essentially rounding up folks wholesale, well that’s profiling and lazy policing!
Another area where political correctness will kill us – or probably kill law enforcement trying to do their jobs.
I used to know a State law enforcement guy who worked in an inter-agency gang taskforce. He knew his rational thinking had been skewed when every Latino he saw screamed armed robber to him, and every Black was a burglar.
So he walked away from that job.
(As posted on Cato.org)
Today Is Bill of Rights Day
Today is Bill of Rights Day. So it’s an appropriate time to consider the state of our constitutional safeguards.
Let’s consider each amendment in turn.
The First Amendment says that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech.” Government officials, however, have insisted that they can gag recipients of “national security letters” and censor broadcast ads in the name of campaign finance reformand arrest people for simply distributing pamphlets on a sidewalk.
The Second Amendment says the people have the right “to keep and bear arms.” Government officials, however, make it difficult to keep a gun in the home and make it a crime for a citizen to carry a gun for self-protection.
The Third Amendment says soldiers may not be quartered in our homes without the consent of the owners. This safeguard is one of the few that is in fine shape – so we can pause here for a laugh.
The Fourth Amendment says the people have the right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures. Government officials, however, insist that they can conductcommando-style raids on our homes and treat airline travelers like prison inmates by conducting virtual strip searches.
The Fifth Amendment says that private property shall not be taken “for public use without just compensation.” Government officials, however, insist that they can use eminent domain to take away our property and give it to other private parties who covet it.
The Sixth Amendment says that in criminal prosecutions, the person accused is guaranteed a right to trial by jury. Government officials, however, insist that they can punish people who want to have a trial—“throwing the book” at those who refuse to plead guilty—which explains why 95 percent of the criminal cases never go to trial.
The Seventh Amendment guarantees the right to a jury trial in civil cases where the controversy “shall exceed twenty dollars.” Government officials, however, insist that they can impose draconian fines on people without jury trials.
The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishments. Government officials, however, insist that a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense is not cruel.
The Ninth Amendment says that the enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights should not be construed to deny or disparage others “retained by the people.” Government officials, however, insist that they will decide for themselves what rights, if any, will beretained by the people.
The Tenth Amendment says that the powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states, or to the people. Government officials, however, insist that they will decide for themselves what powers they possess, and have extended federal control over health care, crime, education, and other matters the Constitution reserves to the states and the people.
It’s a disturbing snapshot, to be sure, but not one the Framers of the Constitution would have found altogether surprising. They would sometimes refer to written constitutions as mere “parchment barriers,” or what we call “paper tigers.” They nevertheless concluded that having a written constitution was better than having nothing at all.
The key point is this: A free society does not just “happen.” It has to be deliberately created and deliberately maintained. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. To remind our fellow citizens of their responsibility in that regard, the Cato Institute has distributed more than six million copies of our pocket Constitution. At this time of year, it’ll make a great stocking stuffer.
Let’s enjoy the holidays (and remember many of the positive trends that are underway) but let’s also resolve to be more vigilant about defending our Constitution. To learn more about Cato’s work in defense of the Constitution, go here. To support the work of Cato, go here.
Why, you might ask, did I not post it here?
Well, the President fails to mention any of the First Ten Amendments specifically, but does mention The Civil Rights movement, LGBT rights, equality and ‘fairness’.
No mention of no-knock warrants, secret prisons, ‘enhanced’ interrogations or wholesale privacy erosions.
You can go an read it for yourself, if you like.
How to celebrate the day? I’d suggest reading the entire Bill of Rights aloud, then going shooting! :-)
Freedom of Speech and all that…
Bet Che’ t-shirts aren’t banned…because it’s for the children!
I love how Lenin’s useful idiots clamor for freedom of speech, and protection from other’s speech simultaneously. Not realizing that if the agenda they so love comes into power they will no longer have that freedom!
h/t Brock Townsend
as stolen from Wirecutter:
Between 1989 and 2010, U.S. attorneys seized an estimated $12.6 billion in asset forfeiture cases. The growth rate during that time averaged +19.4% annually.
In 2010 alone, the value of assets seized grew by +52.8% from 2009 and was six times greater than the total for 1989.
Then by 2014, that number had ballooned to roughly $4.5 billion for the year, making this 35% of the entire number of assets collected from 1989 to 2010 in a single year.
Now, according to the FBI, the total amount of goods stolen by criminals in 2014 burglary offenses suffered an estimated $3.9 billion in property losses. This means that the police are now taking more assets than the criminals.
Now, assuming these statistics are close to accurate (and we all know about assuming), this is a sobering statistic!
Does ANYONE remember their American History? Life, Liberty, Property? Bueller? Bueller?
I’d two encounters regarding drones the other night.
One was an episode of Madame Secretary, wherein the female Secretary of State co-opts her own brother to obtain information to locate and assassinate an American-born Isis member.
Via a drone strike in a foreign land.
(I’ve an ongoing discussion regarding this TV show – a friend thinks it’s a stalking horse to put Hillary Clinton in the White House. I disagree. The protagonist is a former CIA officer, married to a religious ethics professor at The War College, who is a part-time NSA guy. Hardly The Clintons!)
The second encounter was a TV commercial showing a drone package delivery (Amazon? – I don’t remember, we have The Hopper and fast-forward through most of the commercials!🙂 )
Now, I don’t know if this was a planned placement of drones on commercial television to get us used to the idea of them flitting about, or serendipity, or what?
I do remember this administration’s last attorney general not ruling out the idea of drone strikes against American citizens on our own soil(!)
Two drones and The Hopper in one evening? Perhaps it’s just coincidental? Showing us how far technology has advanced?
Regular readers know I come from a law enforcement family, and am supportive of ‘the police’ in general. No one who stands with The Blue Line should be subjected to abuse, criminal violence or murder.
After all, they are the men (and women) on the street representing the government and it’s laws (theoretically, anyway…).
I stand against violations of the Bill of Rights, and the ongoing militarization of police. We need Reed and Malloy, not jackbooted, masked thugs!
I’m not a fan of propaganda, either…
With the “war on cops” narrative on the rise again, you might be wondering: When it comes to lethal violence against police officers, how does 2015 stack up against other years? Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute took a look at the annual number of cops who died of non-accidental gunshots, as measured by the Officer Down Memorial Page. This year isn’t over yet, obviously, but if the trend thus far continues, 2015’s rate will be higher than 2013’s. It will also be lower than every other year since 1870: