Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Why Can't I Have a Missile Launcher?

An excellent question has arisen over the recent gun control debate. If semi-automatic rifles are protected under the second amendment, why aren't missile launchers? Why aren't grenades? Why aren't tanks?

It all started to Saint Valentine's Day 1929. On that day Al Capone sent a group of his South Side gangsters down to his rival's North Side gang's business. The South Siders lined up and killed 7 North Siders with automatic Thompson sub-machine guns.

The public was outraged. And instead of going after the real problem, prohibition of alcohol, they went after the guns. The National Firearms Act was passed. This was to protect the public from "gangster weapons", the buzzword the gun banners used at the time to make the guns sound scary and dangerous.

Sound familiar? It should. Today we have "Assault weapons" to make the guns sound dangerous. And we have our very own prohibition of drugs that is to blame for the majority of the murders in the United States.

The National Firearms Act made illegal virtually all military style weapons. Anything that blows up was covered in the broad category of Destructive Devices. This is also why if you want a suppressor (silencer), you need to go through a bunch of red tape.
The National Firearms Act is why it is very difficult to get an actual "Assault Rifle" (Remember that an Assault Rifle is one with a detectable magazine, fires an intermediate round, and has a selector between semi-automatic and automatic or burst fire).

The National Firearms Act is the foundation for all gun control laws since. Everything is based on its president.

So, how does The National Firearms Act square with the Second Amendment? The short answer is... we don't know because a full challenge has never been brought to the Supreme Court. Small challenges have been brought, most notably US vs Miller in 1938. Miller transported a short barreled shotgun across state lines. Short barreled shotguns are covered in NFA, so that was illegal. The state's argument was that short barreled shotguns are not military weapons, therefore would not be in use by a militia.
Interesting argument, because aren't automatic weapons needed by a militia?? hummmmm
Anyway, in district court, Miller won, because... The state's argument was stupid. However, on direct appeal to SCOUS Miller lost because... he didn't put up a defense in SCOUS... No one knows why, they just didn't show up for court.

Since then, the big money backer of cases dealing with the second amendment has been the National Rifle Association. The NRA's assertion has always been around hunting. Therefore their arguments have come from the hunter's perspective. When the founders first wrote the second amendment the focus was on allowing the people to be armed so that they could fight another revolution. They lived through a disarming of the public, and saw what happens when the population is unarmed against an armed, tyrannical government. The second amendment was put in place so that the people could retain the ability to fight.
Of course if you say that now, people think you are absolutely nuts and stop listening to you. The people are used to a relatively benevolent government looking out for them.

In my opinion, the argument should have never strayed away from the military function of the people. All you really need for hunting is a bow and arrow... Or a spear. This is not the function of the second amendment.

So, in fact the right of the people to keep and bare arms HAS been infringed. It has been infringed on so deeply that we are now fighting for the very last gasp of that right left to us.

Think of it like this. FICTION In 1924 it was decided that groups such as the KKK and other racial groups should not be saying what they are saying. An act was then passed to outright ban the KKK and put all forms of speech in to categories.
During WWII, we didn't want people to speak out against the war, so we banned that with another law, that drew on the KKK Act as its justification.
Since then, little laws here and there have been put in to place that restrict the people's ability to criticize ANYTHING that the government does.
A small fringe group of people liked political comedy. So they stuck up for the First Amendment only around the strict confines of Political Comedy.
Fast forward to 2012. A political joke was taken too far and the subject of the joke killed himself and his entire family by pushing them off a building then jumping over the edge himself.
The public is outraged, and serious talk is now called for to finally end this dangerous thing that is political comedy.
The fringe group is hard pressed to come up with reasons for why they need to have political comedy, because they have other forms of comedy out there. There may have been a need for political comedy back in 1776, but the founders never intended for political jokes to be so funny.

See the correlation?

So, after all of that, why can't I buy a missile launcher? Because some gangsters shot some rivals over a few barrels of hooch back in 1929.
The second amendment intends for the people to be as well armed as the government itself. You SHOULD have the ability to buy such weapons. The reason for these weapons is so that you and your neighbors can stage a revolution. That is not a crazy answer. That is a valid reason.
The right to keep and bare arms has been infringed to the point of irrelevancy. The gun nuts are only trying to hold on to the very last bit of their freedom. When this freedom goes, with the anti-gunners saying that it was an archaic amendment, what will happen to the other archaic amendments? Like the fourth amendment? The fifth amendment? The first?
Freedom is a fragile and difficult thing. It forces personal responsibility. That is something people just don't want anymore.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gun Terms - Quick Reference

Just a few terms that you will be hearing over the next few weeks. The media will almost always get these wrong.

For a more comprehensive look at terms and terminology, check out my earlier posts on the subject.

  • Assault Rifle
    • Rifle that fires an intermediate round, has a detachable magazine and has a selector switch that allows for semi-automatic, and automatic or burst fire.
    • AK-47s with a selector switch and fire the 7.62x39mm round are assault rifles
    • M-16s or M-4s with a selector switch and fire the 5.56mm NATO round are assault rifles
    • AR-15s or AK-47s that do not have the selector switch are NOT assault rifles.
    • AK-47s or AR-10s that fire the 7.62x51mm NATO round are NOT assault rifles, as the round is a full power round, not an intermediate round.
  • Automatic Fire
    • The weapon will fire repeatedly until the trigger is released
  • Semi-Automatic Fire
    • The weapon will fire only once per trigger pull
  • Automatic Pistol
    • A shortened term for an automatically loading pistol.
    • These types of pistols are sometimes erroneously called "semi-automatic" pistols.  While they are semi-automatic in fire rate, the term Automatic means auto-loading.  A revolver can be semi-automatic as well.  
  • Revolver
    • A pistol that has a revolving chamber.
  • Magazine 
    • The place where the firearms stores ammunition.
  • Clip
    • A device that aids in the loading of an fixed internal magazine.
  • Gun Show Loophole
    • It is currently legal for one private party to sell a gun to another private party with out the seller having to do a background check on the buyer.
      These types of transactions typically happen at gun shows, for the same reason that most art sales are done at art shows...  Because that is where the buyers and sellers to to by and sell art/guns.  
    • If you buy a gun from a licensed dealer, even at a gun show, a background check must be done.  However, if that dealer is at the show with their personal collection, and not store inventory, they can sell the gun as a private to private transaction. 

If you want more, check out the link above.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Connecticut School Shooting vs Oregon Mall Shooting

Before I start this, I have to say that the Sandy Hook Shooting has broken my heart. I wept during the President's speech on Sunday (12/16/2012) evening. It was a great speech by the way. President Obama absolutely is at his best when he is speaking from the heart. I really liked that he mentioned we have to change, without outlining policy. Everybody knows what his policy will be, but he didn't use the opportunity to start hammering gun control. Instead he gave a very powerful and heart felt speech as "Consoler in Chief." It was the best speech I have ever heard him present.

As information filters in from the tragedy in Connecticut we are starting to get a feel for the situation inside the school. Adam Lanza, armed with many weapons, came to the door of the school, and found it locked. He shot is way through the glass and entered the school. At that point the Principal and School Psychologist attempted to stop him. He killed them. He then went room by room shooting anybody he saw. One room he entered was full of first graders and two teachers. They were cowering, huddled together. He killed them all. Details are sketchy after that. At some point he entered the office, where the school secretary and another administrative professional successfully hid from him. At some point he entered the classroom of Victoria Soto who had hidden her students in closets. She had no place to hide and was killed.
After about 5 minutes or so, the Police arrived at the school, and Adam Lanza ended his rampage by putting a bullet through his own head.

Jacob Tyler Roberts walked in to a Portland Oregon mall with a rifle under his coat. He went to the second floor, pulled out his rifle and began shooting. He killed two people almost instantly, and wounded a third. At that point his rifle jammed, and he began to work the charging handle. At that point, Nick Meli, a legally licensed and trained armed citizen, drew his Glock 22 and put Roberts in to his sights. Meli did not fire, because of the people running behind Roberts, but Roberts saw Meli, and began to run away. After fixing his rifle, the next shot Roberts fired was in to his own head.

What do we see in these tragedies? The both are startling in their similarities:

  • Both shooters used AR-15 style weapons
  • Both shooters illegally possessed their weapons
    • Roberts stole his rifle from an acquaintance
    • Lanza murdered his mother and stole her rifle.
  • Both shooters had several hundred rounds left un-fired on their persons.
  • Both shooters were intent on killing as many people as possible.
  • Both shooters killed themselves on the first hint of resistance.
So, what is the big difference between the two? In the Oregon mall shooting, an armed response was immediately available through an armed citizen. Though he did not fire, Roberts knew that someone else in that mall could throw bullets back at him. Roberts immediately ended his own life. Would an armed citizen have made a difference in the CT shooting? What if the principal was armed and could have threatened or shot Lanza as he forced his way in? What if one of the teachers in the first grade class room could have shot Lanza as he burst in and began firing? What if Victoria Soto, after hiding her students, could have taken a defensive position behind her desk, and shot Lanza as he walked in? A phrase you will hear over and over again over the next few weeks will be, "If this xxx legislation could save just ONE child, it will be worth it." Well... allowing legally armed citizens to defend themselves has proven time and time again that it would saves lives. Had the principal been armed at the door of the school, this tragedy wouldn't have even gathered national attention. Remember the Colorado Springs Church shooting? No?? Because an armed citizen, Jeanne Assam, took down the shooter before he could kill more than two people. This phrase will be used time and time again, along with references to the dead children as emotional tools to remove our freedoms. This solution will be regarded as nuts by most in the media and in the general public. People just don't want to think about their children going to school where there may be guns around. However, when someone intent on killing as many people as possible comes in to that same school, only one thing can stop them. Another person with a gun. You call the police, because they will come with an armed response. But, they are several minutes away. They won't get there in time. The armed citizen is already there, ready to respond, because, quite literally, their life depends on it. The general mindset is that the average person is not competent to handle a gun in the outside world. Or that the normal person would just start spraying bullets around during a confrontation. This just isn't true. Check out the CATO Institue's white paper on the defensive use of guns "Tough Targets: When Criminals Face Armed Resistance From Citizens" At the end of all of this, the problem isn't the gun, it is the people pulling the triggers. They wish to be immortalized somehow. Their lives are unfulfilled, and they lash out in such a way as to "show" everyone who hurt them. They are throwing their final temper tantrum.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Reflex Holographic Sights... Where Have You Been My Whole Life???

I have zeroed my iron sights on the SCAR 17s, and I noticed right away that I would want to put some accessories on the rifle. First and foremost, I didn't like gripping the magazine or the Picatinny rail system that runs the length of the barrel. The rail system is difficult to grab and is very uncomfortable. Using a standard magazine hold was more comfortable, but... The SCAR uses a reciprocating charging handle. And that handle reciprocates right above the magazine... And if you get lazy with your thumb and let it creep up off of the magazine when you take a shot... OUCH!!!

So, I talked to several friends who use their their rifles for a number of different ways. One guy uses his rifle for hunting, one guy uses his exclusively on the range, and the other two... well... They hunt people. One being a member of a Midwestern State Patrol SWAT team, and the other a Special Forces Operator who is back, hopefully for good, from his second tour in Afghanistan. The guy who hunts uses a SCAR 17s, and the SOCOM guy had a SCAR-H mk17. The difference? Well, the 17s is the civilian version of the rifle, made in Belgium by FNH. It is a semi-automatic only rifle. The H mk17 is the military version of the SCAR made in the USA on contract from FNH by Bushmaster. It is a selective fire rifle with the option of semi-automatic and automatic fire settings. The other two guys use the M&P AR-15, both in semi-automatic. I asked them what they thought of my gripping problem.
Both the Hunter and SOCOM guy used a vertical fore-grip on their SCARs. Both saying that they liked the fore-grip because it allows you to very easily keep the muzzle under control much easier than the standard magazine hold.
The SWAT team guy liked the fore-grip for his AR-15 as well. He and the SCOM guy could not grip the barrels of their rifles because they hang so much junk off of the rail systems of their respective rifles. Flashlights, both UV and viable light, lasers, backup iron sights, you name it they hang it off their weapons. The fore-grip is necessary, because having all of that stuff hanging off the rifle shoves the Center of Gravity of the rifle forward. You can't use a magazine hold because the weight will pull your shots will be consistently low. The fore-grip fixes this issue.
The Range guy... He just uses the magazine hold. Not helpful.

Then an unexpected question was asked... What am I using for optics? I replied that I really didn't want to buy optics now, because I haven't really tried any out, I didn't know what to buy, and I didn't want to dump a bunch of money in to something that I could just use my iron sights to do. Iron sights came with the rifle, I have them zeroed, why would I need to buy something else??
Every one of the guys said that I needed to look at some optics for the rifle. They all said that the new sights have revolutionized shooting. No one uses iron sights anymore, said the SWAT and SCOM guy. You can't get on target fast enough, they give you a headache, and you have to have your face in a very particular place on the rifle to use them properly.
Great... What should I look at. SOCOM, used to the taxpayer funding his optic choices said Trijicon's ACOG/RMR combo. He liked the TA31F-RMR model. With the .308 Ballistic Reticle.

Wow... That costs as much as the rifle. I said.
Yeah, he replied, but you can use it in any situation. Long range you can use the ACOG for 4x zoom, and for close up you use the Reflex holographic sight.
But... It costs as much as the rifle.

The hunter uses a Mark 4 MR/T from Leupold. It is a 8x zoom.

Holy crap I said... I don't need that much magnification... And the thing costs a thousand dollars!!!!

The SWAT guy said he likes his Eotech XPS3 Holographic Reflex Sight.

He said that his main concern was close quarters combat and he liked the reflex sight because there was no magnification, he could keep both eyes open his head mobile, and still be able to put his bullets on target. He had his optic zeroed at 50 yards, because he wouldn't ever be shooting any farther than that. The snipers handle those shots. But... it costs $600!!!!

The range guy had a very simple Leapers UTG SCP RD40RGW A red dot sight.

It cost him $35 at Cheaper Than Dirt. Now we are talking!!

So, taking all of this knowledge, I started thinking about what the mission of my rifle is. Mostly, I will be shooting at ranges. I MIGHT go pig hunting with it, I MIGHT do some three gun training, but the vast VAST majority of my shooting will be at a shooting range. That means my maximum range will be about 150 yards. So, I don't need any thing with any type of magnification.
I will be doing most of my shooting "Off hand." Meaning that I will be shooting from a standing position. So, the biggest thing for me will be reacquiring the target shot after shot.
Also, I didn't want to dump a bunch of money in to an optic that I had no idea that I would like. I have never used a modern optic and I didn't know what to choose.

Where does that leave me? Some where between the SWAT team guy and the range guy. No long range shots, easy target acquisition, no magnification, and under $50.

Getting on to Cheaper Than Dirt I started looking for inexpensive Reflex Holographic sights. And I found the perfect one. The Sightmark Sure Shot SM13003B Holographic Reflex sight. Only $40.

Now... A little bit about reflector or reflex sights. Essentially they are a little heads up display. They have their own light source a mirror and the reflector screen where the image is projected. They are called "holographic" because the image is made by refracting a laser beam.
These types of sights have been used on aircraft, anti aircraft, and artillery guns since the 1940s. There is nothing new about the base technology. What is new is that they have been miniaturized to fit on to a personal, portable weapon.

Now... Anytime you are dealing with optics you have to talk about "parallax." Parallax is the difference in the in the apparent position of an object viewed along different lines of sight. For instance, hold out your arm, close one eye and sight directly down that arm on some point on the wall. Now open your other eye and close the original one. From the view of your other eye you are no longer sighted directly upon the same point. This makes a big difference when we are talking about gun sights. When looking down iron sights, the aim point seems to change according to where you hold your cheek on the butt stock (called the cheek weld). So, when you zero your iron sights you have to find the exact same cheek weld EVERY time you aim. Any deviation to this cheek weld, and your shot will be off. It is one of the frustrating things about trying to get consistent accurate shots with iron sights. It is also why shooting is a perishable skill. You forget where that cheek weld is, and you need to find it again.

The Reflex sight is essentially "Parallax free." What that means is that the holographic image, called the "reticle," will be on the bullet strike point, no matter where the shooter is looking at the reticle. The cheek weld can be different each time, and the aim point will be where it is zeroed. It takes a lot of the guess work right out of shooting.

One of the things you try to do in tactical shooting is to aim with both eyes open. You do this to keep aware of your surroundings, maintain depth perception, and to prevent blurred vision in the closed eye. Using iron sights, keeping both eyes open is very difficult. The image of your sights is blurry, or split or any number of problems. It gives you a head ache. The reflex sight is designed to be essentially ignored. You bring the weapon up and just look out on to your targets as you normally would the projected reticle simply shows up in your plane of view as if it is floating in air.

I bought the Sightmark and put it on my SCAR along with an inexpensive fore-grip. The "bad ass" factor of the rifle went up about 10 points.
I took the rifle to zero the sight. The difference in shooting with the reflex sight and without is a night and day difference. It is like going from a black and white 10 inch television to a brand new High Definition 70 inch TV. It absolutely redefines shooting. I the ONLY thing I have in my experience to compare the difference to is going from flying the traditional "steam" instruments in the airplane to a glass cockpit. Like flying with just a paper map and a compass to moving map GPS. After taking the first look through that sight, just as just as I knew I would never fly without a GPS again, I knew that I would never shoot iron sights again. The optic is an absolute necessity after the very first shot.
However, the sight is designed with the iron sights in mind. If you run out of battery charge, you don't need to remove the optic in order to use your iron sights. You simply flip up the sights and aim through the viewing screen just as if it wasn't there. Very cool!!

The only regret I have in my purchase is that I didn't buy something more robust. When I break the Sightmark, and I will break it, It is just that flimsy, but what can you expect for $40??, I will look in to getting the Eotech that my SWAT buddy likes so much.

My SCAR 17s with the fore-grip and Sightmark Sure Shot Reflex Sight

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Warren Buffet, and the Tax Me Please Crowd

A lot is being said about raising tax rates on the wealthy. Many people cite Warren Buffet as saying that the tax rates on the wealthy should be raised. A man that I greatly admire, George Takei, wrote a blog post on how he should be taxed more.

Takei, and others, say that they should be taxed more to avoid the "Fiscal Cliff." Others, like the President, claim that the wealthy aren't paying their fair share. Still others say that they should pay more because they won't notice it.
The other side says that taxing those who make over $250 will hurt businesses. They say raising the tax rate on Capital Gains will discourage investment.
While history, and simple mathematics, side with the latter, I tend come at this from a very different angle.

With me, the freedom angle always comes first. For those of you wealthy wanting to pay more... Nothing is stopping you. You may donate as much money as you want to the Federal Government. They will take it. When you pass laws raising tax rates, however, you are removing the freedom of those who do not wish to donate their money to the Federal Government. You are putting a gun to their head and compelling them to remit their property. This is not freedom.

Next, is simple mathematics. If those making over $250K a year were taxed at %100 of their income, it wouldn't even solve the current budget deficit, let alone make a dent in to the federal debt. In other words, additional revenue will NOT solve the problem. The problem is a spending one. We spend too much money. Plain and simple. Cuts, real cuts, not just cuts in increases, need to be made across the board. Entitlements, Defense, Government Operations, you name it, it can be, and should be cut.

There is no Fiscal Cliff. If there was one, we have already jumped over it with Vietnam and LBJ's Great Society. We must come back to baseline. We must cut the government.

BUT... we won't. It will continue to grow. President Obama is not Bill Clinton. When Clinton lost the house and Senate back in 1996, he changed his way of governing to allow for changes and cuts to be made. The President is more of a hard core socialist liberal, and doesn't have such a need for everyone to like him. He is more of a narcissist who thinks everyone likes him just because he is who he is. The President will not give up the fight for higher tax rates. He doesn't need to. The Republicans, will cave in the end. They don't have the intestinal fortitude to continue the fight. There will be some who will continue the fight, but they will be labeled crazy, and on the fringe.

The math doesn't work. It doesn't pass the freedom smell test. Congress will do it anyway.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

SCAR 17s First Dance

Ok... So I bought the rifle. I spent too much. The money was in no way justified in any situation. I just have a very expensive toy. Not as much as most motorized toys that I have owned, but pretty close.

Here are the specs:
  • 7.62x51mm NATO (308 Win.)
  • Semi-auto only
  • Short-stroke gas piston
  • Rotating, locking bolt
  • Hard-anodized monolithic aluminum
  • MIL-STD 1913 accessory rails at the 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock positions
  • Adjustable folding front and folding/removable rear iron sights
  • Hammer-forged, chrome-lined, fully free-floating
  • Telescoping side-folding polymer stock
  • Adjustable cheekpiece
  • A2-style pistol grip
  • Ambidextrous safety lever and magazine release
  • Charging handle may be mounted on right or left side
  • Enlarged trigger guard for easier access when wearing gloves
  • Composite polymer trigger module
  • 10 or 20-round capacity
  • Steel or aluminum body
  • Low friction follower

The iron sights are variable for both windage and elevation, so... You need to get an initial zero on them when the rifle comes out of the box, just as you would if you had an optic or scope or something.

I was excited to shoot it, so I forgot all of my tools... No matter, I would shoot it to see where the sights were and to get a feel for the .308 round.
I have shot large caliber rifles before, along with shotguns of just about every gauge, and of course handguns in various calibers. One thing is universal about big calibers. RECOIL. How that recoil is handled is generally dependent on the shape of the rifle, and how the rifle handles the gas. Traditional stock rifles tend to recoil upward and back in to the shoulder. This is due to the barrel being right about even with the grip on the stock. Modern rifles drop the grip down in to a pistol grip, moving the barrel up a bit so that the recoil goes directly inline with the shoulder. Rifles, like the SCAR, also add a muzzle break on the end of the muzzle to diffuse the gas and greatly reduce muzzle flip. The result is that the recoil on the SCAR goes almost completely backward in to the shoulder. The major problem with high caliber semi-auto weapons is that follow up shots are difficult to place because the muzzle flip draws the rifle so far off target. When the recoil goes directly in to the shoulder and the break prevents muzzle flip, you can place follow up shots on target very easily.

The SCAR's muzzle break and design makes the recoil very manageable, and very easy to put back on to target. I burnt through the big 20 round magazine in very short order.

The action is so smooth that when I went through my first magazine, I checked to see if the rifle malfunctioned when it stopped shooting. The mag goes dry that fast. About my only complaint was that I shot through the 60 rounds I had with me so quickly. I am going to spend a TON of money in ammunition with this gun.

I shot some nice groups at 25 yards, telling me that the rifle is very accurate. However all of my groups were low and to the left... I need to bring the gun back and adjust the iron sights to get a true zero.

There are a few things that I know I will have to do to the rifle. I will need a front grip. Doing a standard magazine grip is actually a little dangerous with this rifle because it uses a reciprocating charging handle. If your thumb is in the way, the charging handle will break it. Doing a standard front grip is a bit awkward and uncomfortable.
I also know that I want to put some sort of optic on it. Optics are cool, and the new ones have variable power scopes so that you can choose your magnification with the push of a button.

So what will I end up with?? Something like this:

Only my rifle is black.

Bob Costas, Piers Morgan, and Gun Control

Bob Costas took the opportunity, with God Bless America playing in the background, to call for the banning of handguns. He spoke of how guns "Don't enhance our safety, exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us to embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it."

Really? If that was true, why are not the streets of 39 states flowing with the blood of thousands of shootouts? Why did the violent crime rates of EVERY one of these states drop after the implementation of Shall-Issue CCW laws?

You see, Costas, and many like him, believe that gun owners need some sort of psychological crutch. They believe that you purchase a gun as this crutch. You need it to fill some sort of insecurity in your life. You couldn't possibly enjoy sending bullets down range in to the same hole over and over again. You want to go out and be John Wayne. Your thoughts of defense against people who want to do bad things is only a veneer for insecurity. That is why, without a gun, no one would ever approach a car in a connivance store with loud music playing. Why would you? Without guns, people never look for conflict. Would, as Costas said, these two people be alive if a gun was not available? If Jovan Belcher wanted to hurt or even kill someone there is very little anyone could do about it. He was a giant man of enormous strength and athletic ability. Not to mention a finely tuned aggressive instinct. Mr. Belcher could use any weapon he wanted to to kill his girlfriend. If no weapon would have been available, he could have just as easily used his body to do the deed.

Inanimate objects like guns, rope, knives, cars, etc can not do anything on their own. They are inanimate. It takes a human will to move them, use them, kill with them. It is the human being that decides. It is the human being that acts.

The next person to show a gross misunderstanding of the Constitution, and of the Framer's reasoning behind the Second Amendment is Piers Morgan. He took to Twitter to have the following exchange with Carol Roth:

Morgan touts out the old and tired argument that the Framers only had muskets in mind when they wrote the Second Amendment. This is ABSOLUTELY FALSE. First, at the time, the musket WAS the military weapon of its day. In many cases in early American history, the individual was better armed than the regular army. This is beside the point... During the framing of the second amendment individuals could not only purchase the military arm of choice, they could also purchase cannon and other artillery pieces that the military used. In the beginning of The war of 1812 The United States Navy mostly consisted of Privateer ships, or armed ships that were owned and operated by PRIVATE citizens. These we not just merchant ships, some were full on Ships of the Line purchased and used to escort merchant fleets. To say that the Second Amendment was only about muskets shows a complete disregard for the history that the Amendment was drafted in.

Other than the history, how can we tell what the Framers were thinking? Hummm... FROM THEIR OWN WRITINGS!!!!!!!! Madison, Jefferson, and Adams all wrote that the Second Amendment was written for self defense of the individual against crime, invasion, and the GOVERNMENT. Madison went on to say that the individual should be able to obtain whatever weapon the military had in its arsenal.
These were men who were deeply distrustful of standing armies. It wasn't until after The War of 1812 that a standing American army was even proposed. These men believed that it was the job of the militia to defend American soil. To do so required the weapons that would match whatever military attempted invasion.
So, if the Framers had their way, they would not be working to limit guns, they would be pushing the extreme position that individuals should own tanks, fighter jets, and aircraft carriers.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Would You Let Jesus Inside?

So... Let me get this straight... You are asking me if I would let a white guy with a beard, long hair, wearing robes and sandals, and claiming to be Jesus Christ in to my house... In Oklahoma??

No. No I would not let Jesus inside... I would call the Police and be waiting with many guns just in case Jesus tried to force his way in.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How Can the Obama Administration Ban Gun Sales Without Banning Gun Sales?

A funny thing happened on Black Friday... Twice. People, myself included, spurred on by THREE anti-gun bills (OK, one is a treaty) working their way through congress, and the Obama Administration coming out with strong support for a new "Assault Weapons" Ban, have decided that if they are going to buy a gun they better do it now before something happens.

They went to the gun stores in record numbers. About 160,000 registered purchases of firearms that require background checks were made. The volume was so high, that the computer that actually does the checks, the National Instant Check System (NICS), crashed. Twice. All states require a NICS check before the purchase of a firearm. With NICS down no purchases could be made. And a thousand light bulbs went on over the head of anti-gun activists everywhere.

I have said time and time again, that with the current congress, and the next congress, it will be very difficult to get another Assault Weapons Ban, or any type of firearm ban through congress. The Republicans still hold the House, and they just won't allow any of the anti-gun legislation through. Their base consists of too many single issue voters for the House Republican caucus to budge on this issue. However, the Democrats own both the White House and the Senate. These two bodies have tremendous power to make life difficult for gun owners, and potential buyers.

First, the Office of the President is the Executive power in our government. That means that all of the inner workings of the Government are controlled, ultimately, by the President of the United States. With this power comes the power of Bureaucracy and Regulation. Because Congress long ago ceded its regulatory power to the Executive, it is up to the President to take laws passed by congress and put them in to enforceable practice. Thus when the Brady Bill became law, it was the Executive that set up this NICS computer to comply. What if the President decided that the computer was too expensive and we needed to do everything by pen and paper? Boom. Done with a stroke of a pen. What if the President decided that human signature and oversight was needed for each application? Boom. Done. To pay for all of this additional overhead the user fee for a NICS check is raised to $100 per check. Or $200 per check.
Not possible? Guess how an application for an automatic weapon is processed... Paper copies, finger prints, and a $200 processing fee. Is it in the law? No, it is in the regulations.

This is how the Administration will go about making life difficult for gun buyers. A good pistol already costs upwards of $500. Tack on tax and NICS processing fees, and you have a $500 gun that is flirting with $700 retail price.

How could you increase the prices of guns? Require "micro stamping." Micro stamping is a process in which the serial number of the gun is etched on to the firing pin. What's a firing pin? Do a search on this blog for it... I have written plenty about it. Anyway, every time the gun is fired the serial number is stamped on the primer of the cartridge. Under a microscope the Police can then trace the cartridge to the gun the fired it. The process is incredibly expensive. Driving the price of the firearm up by an estimated $200. So now your $500 pistol is now flirting with $1000 price tag. All of this done without congress, just with the power of the executive.

Now we add in the Senate. What can the President do with the Senate's approval? Make treaties. What is a treaty that is working its way through the United Nations with the approval of the Obama Administration? An international registry on gun sales. I wrote about it earlier.

So, what next? A treaty with Mexico that bans gun sales. This would require legislation to prevent weapons crossing the border. More regulation. More expense. Before you know it, you are priced out of the market, with firearms being so expensive the normal person can not afford them.

Think it can't happen? How much does a Cessna 172 cost now as opposed to the 1970's before regulation? Same air frame. Same engine. Go ahead look. Can the normal person afford it?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cover Better Than the Original?

Brooke Benton wrote a little song in 1959. His friend, "The Lion of the Blues" Bobby Bland, recorded it in 1960, and they had a minor hit. It has a similar feeling to many of their contemporary Nina Simone.

The lyrics and slow rhythm makes it an easy cover for many artist trying to present themselves as soulful singers. Most recently Drake and Rihanna created this musical abortion:

I mean WHAT THE FUCK????? It makes my ears bleed. Instead of taking some musical initiative with awesome material, and using Rihanna's considerable talent to create something very special, they bent poor Brooke Benton over and Legitimately Raped him. Like the bad kind of rape, not the kind that you will get a "Gift from God" from, but the kind of rape where a woman shuts down her reproductive process. I think it is called "rape-rape" or some such.
Have these "artists" every heard of a melody? Seriously, WTF???

The good news is that Beth Heart and Joe Bonamassa also did a cover of this song. Beth is well known for a soulful voice that is reminiscent of Janis Joplin, if Janis could actually carry a tune from time to time.

So, which is better? My opinion should be clear... I think the Heart/Bonamassa cover is amazing. The original is nice, but a little uninspired, and the Rihanna/Drake cover is just pure crap.

Friday, November 9, 2012

New Term, New Assault Weapons Ban??

In the election between Santa Clause and Santa Clause Lite, Santa Clause won and with the win, and the idiotic Constitutional term limit enforced on Presidents, President Obama is free to pursue what ever agenda, no matter how unpopular, he wants to.

One of the Constitutional powers the President, granted to him in Article II Section 2 is
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The important part of this clause is "He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur". Keep this in mind as we move forward...

This week, actually Wednesday (yes, I am well aware that it was AFTER the election...), Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice moved that the General Assembly take up talks to ratify the U.N. Treaty on Small Arms. This measure passed, and they will take up talks on March 18-28.

This Treaty is very controversial in the U.S. first because it would require signature countries to keep a 20 year record on the "end user" of any gun purchased across international lines. So, for example, I own a Beretta PX4 pistol. If the treaty would have been in effect at the time of my purchase, the U.S. Government would have to keep track of me, and my gun, for 20 years. Telling Italy every time I moved, bought a new gun, or sold the Beretta. It is effective gun registration for any gun purchased from a foreign company...
Add to this the sketchy language "take the necessary legislative and administrative measures, to adapt, as necessary, national laws and regulations to implement the obligations of this treaty" it gives anti-gun judges the ability to use this treaty as a way to effectively ban certain types of weapons.

But, Mr. Ninja, you say, doesn't the Senate have to have a two thirds majority to ratify the treaty? Excellent question, I reply. The answer is NO. Take a look at the language in the Constitution.
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur
They just need two thirds of the Senators present. In the past, both parties have used this language to ram through legislation and even treaties by calling for their vote in the middle of the night, during holidays, etc etc etc. The fact of the matter is that the Majority Party in the Senate controls the agenda. All the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Harry Reid, needs to do is announce the vote when he has support of two thirds of the Senators present. This is how the Democrats will get this piece of very unpopular legislation passed.

But..., you say, Judges just can't ban types of guns outright. They need congress to pass laws!!! No, I reply again.
Congress has given over its regulatory power to the Executive. Things like gun registration and background checks, how deep they go, how much they cost, blah blah blah, are up to the Executive. Using this new treaty as a justification, the Executive can, without the need of congress, and with out the fear of not being re-elected, can regulate in to obscurity those weapons that could be used in the illegal weapons trade. What weapons are those??? "Assault weapons" that is read, scary looking ones with external magazines, and picatinny rails, and LASERS!!!!! AHHHHHH!!!! I scared myself.

So... What do we do about it?? Myself, I am going to piss my wife off something spectacular by buying a rifle that will surely be banned in a few months. When I buy the rifle, I will buy at least 4 high capacity magazines for it. I will also buy as many high capacity magazines for my pistols as I can, likely another 3 or 4 per gun. I will also buy a tube magazine extender for my Remington 870.
I will have to wait and see how things play out for optics... Eventually I want to purchase a red dot optic with variable 1-4x magnification. I don't know if these will be banned... They make the gun look scarier, so maybe it will banned. If it looks like these optics will be banned as well, I will risk my wife's ire again and buy a good one.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Order of Operations and the American School System

One of the fundamental theories in Mathematics is the Order of Operations. The Order of Operations determines in what order you do the operations solve math problems.

When I was in school, as you learned how to do the various operations, you learned in what order to do them. Thus when you finally covered all of the operations, you knew exactly which order to solve them in, and it was second nature. When you went over the Order of Operations, it was a "duh" moment. We were then given a handy mnemonic to remember the order for the rest of your days. PEMDAS!!
  • Parentheses
  • Exponents
  • Multiplication
  • Division
  • Addition
  • Subtraction
Easy, right? In Mathematics there is only one order. This is universal... until you get to non euclidean type Mathematics, but that is for another day.

So, I started seeing on the web these very strange questions. Things like "What does 2+2+2+2+2+2+2+2-2+2 x 0 equal?" It should be obvious, the answer is 14. You use the Order of Operations and first multiply 2x0 that is zero, so what is left is 2+2+2+2+2+2+2+2-2+0. Then you do all of the addition and get 16-2. Finally you do the subtraction and get the final answer, 14. Young people were coming up with something completely different. Many said the answer was 0, because anything multiplied by 0 is 0. I could not believe it.

Excuses for the failures ranged from "I suck at math." to "I never learned that in school." to my very favorite, "I'll never use this shit!!"

I got to thinking. It was a significant amount of people. The only thing I can come up with was that it WASN'T being taught in the schools any more, or it wasn't being stressed as much anymore. The instruction of Mathematics and Science are increasingly not being taught in schools. Why? I don't know. Math and Science are not very well taught anymore. Is it because there are no teachers? Is it because Math and Science are black and white, right or wrong? Are teachers so focused on student self-esteem that they simply do not put that much emphasis on Math and Science?

Math and Science are fundamental to a child's education. Why? They teach HOW to think. They teach HOW to solve problems. They teach critical thinking on abstractions. They teach HOW problems can be solved even if some of the steps are missing.
In everyday life you are presented with problems that need solutions. You always have some sort of parameters governing the solution. What does that sound like? Math.
In everyday life there are problems that need solutions, but you don't know exactly what is causing the problem. You need a framework to find out the problem, so that you can devise a solution. What teaches that?? Science.

Without critical and abstract thinking skills and a good knowledge on how to use the Scientific Method to solve problems, how can you make good decisions on your future? Is this why we saw so many people fall victim to loans with Adjustable Rate Mortgages? Was it that the buyer could not conceive what would happen when their rate changed? Did they not have the ability to comprehend the Math involved in calculating their mortgage and how the payment would change when the rate changed? Could they not do the basic calculations involved in figuring out how much they could pay every month, based on their income?

Instead we have a population that is easily manipulated by mathematics that simply does not work out, because they "suck at math." Saying you suck at math is putting a sign around your neck that says "Take advantage of me. I can not think critically, nor do I have any desire to attempt to."

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Romney Tied or Leading in All Major Polls

For the first time in the campaign, Mitt Romney is now leading or tied with the President. An interesting development...

Gallup has Romney ahead 52% to 45% among likely voters, 49% to 46% among registered voters

Rasmussen has the Electoral College set at 237 for Obama and 235 for Romney, a virtual dead heat.

Wall Street Journal/NBC's poll has it at 47% a piece.

This is interesting because most polling data skews left, as most polls use land line phones, and most people who have land line phones tend to vote Democrat. Also most polling companies are using a weighting system that is based on the 2008 presidential election turn out, heavily skewing the results left.

Now, what does all of this mean? Probably nothing. It does show that Romney is surging and the President is fading. Why? Well... It looks like Romney wants it, the President's surrogates want it, but the President himself is kind of phoning this election in. I don't know why. Personally, I think that he, the President, is tired of having to work so hard to move his agenda. I think he was blindsided two years ago with the loss of the House of Representatives, and I think he takes the creation of the Tea Party movement personally. He just doesn't want it.

Now... Will all this matter? I don't think so. I still think that the President will win re-election. I don't think that Romney is enough of a contrast to the President to really give anyone a good choice. I think that Romney is not nearly charismatic enough to win anybody over to his personality. And I think that Romney has flipflopped on so many issues that it is impossible to tell what kind of decisions he would make.

To me the election is about control of the Supreme Court. I know what kind of Justices that the President will appoint. What kind of Justice will Romney appoint? Somebody like Justice Kennedy. A moderate. Which means that the court will veer hard left. Not that it matters. The Obamacare decision along with Kielo and other abominations have destroyed freedom in the United States, no matter how it is spun (No, I don't believe that Roberts voted for Obamacare to put limitations on the Commerce Clause, No I don't believe that Roberts voted for Obamacare to put limits on Congress' definition of a "fee" or a "penalty"). So it really doesn't matter who wins. Romney nor Obama will really face what we need to do to save the Republic, neither will embrace real tax reform, and neither will do a thing to stop the march of the TSA and other government agencies to total Totalitarianism.

I Want A Rifle...

I want a rifle. I have nothing that I wish to hunt with the rifle. I really have no desire to go somewhere and try to shoot long range with the rifle. It might be fun to do a "Three Gun" practice run, but I really have no desire to compete. So... Why do I want a rifle?? I have no reason to get one other than I want one. I think they are cool.

They look cool, they sound cool, and they shoot cool rounds. They are just cool!! In the last 15 years there have been big advances in rifles, I mean the design, the repeating rifle hasn't changed much since being introduced in 1855, so some very interesting and fun designs are out there.

What are my criteria? Hummmm... good question. Since I am looking for cool, and not really practical application, I guess I can set my criteria based on my own biases on what I think a good multipurpose rifle should have.
  • The rifle must be in a reasonable caliber. I HATE the 5.56mm/.223 round. That round was designed for volume of fire, and light recoil. Since it is just me, and not a squad shooting, I want a more versatile round. The .308 comes to mind or something in the 7mm range.
  • I want the rifle to be light weight. As much as I like wood and steel, I want something very Tommy Tactical. This allows for greater flexibility in add ons, a rail system, optics, blah blah blah blah. Not to mention the weight savings, and whatnot. Also, the new rifles are all based on a composite frame, anything wood and steel is going to be a re-issuing of an old design.
  • No direct impingement systems! This is a bad system to cycle your rifle. It blows all of the fouling back in to the chamber making the system prone to jamming. Sure, I will never fire off enough rounds in one sitting to have this problem, but why even have the possibility in the first place? Piston only systems!!!
  • The rifle must be easy to break down and clean. I don't want to have to pull out a special tool, or a screwdriver to field strip the rifle. I want breakdown leavers, and not too many parts that fall out and I have to replace when I loose them...
So, let's take a look what's out there.

I have to give the obligatory look at the "latest" AR design in .308. Lots of companies make these from "Sons of Guns" fame RedJacket to mom an pop shops in your home town. The AR platform has been out there so long that if the round can be shot, you can bet there is an AR platform that will shoot it. One of the "better" custom shops out there that makes a .308 AR is POF-USA. They offer their rifles in many different configurations, but the one I would look at is their P308 16.5". This is their standard piston cycled .308 AR with a 16.5" barrel. They also make them with a 20" or 12.5" barrels, but these lengths are either too long to be effective indoors or too short to be used as a reliable long range rifle. The 16.5" is just right.
This rifle is just on the bubble for what I want. The AR system breaks down easily, but it can be difficult to clean. The rifle was not meant to use a piston system, so there are issues with trying to force a system to do something it was never originally designed to do. BUT there are TONS of these rifles out there. I will have no trouble at all finding someone willing to work on it for me.
POF-USA sells these retail for about $3K.

Ok, now that the old stuff is out of the way, on to the NEW stuff. Beretta has just about the coolest new rifle around. The ARX 160 is not yet available to the civilian market, but it will be about mid way through 2013.
This rifle is truly a step forward in rifle design. Its ejection port and charging handle can be changed, toollessly, in just a few seconds from right to left handed, and vice versa. This means that the left handed shooter, can configure the rifle to his preference, but more importantly, if there is some problem or fouling on one side of the rifle, the ejection port and charging handle can be moved to keep the rifle in the fight.
This rifle also comes with barrels that can be switched out, again, toollessly. In just a few short seconds a 12" carbine barrel can be swapped out for a longer, more accurate 16" barrel. What this also means is is that if a barrel or gas-piston system is damaged, the barrel can be changed and keeps the rifle in the fight.

The ARX 160 comes with a folding, adjustable stock. I can understand the adjustable stock, but I am not sure why a folding stock is a good thing. Most of the new rifles have this feature, so somebody must be asking for it...
The ARX 160 is intended to be a 5.56mm platform, but will be sold in the US civilian market with a model that will fire 6.9mm Remington round. This 6.9mm version would be the one I would get.

Finally, there is the FN SCAR 17S. This is the new rifle that has been adopted to replace the U.S. Special Forces' M14. It too has an ambidextrous charging handle and ejection port, but you need time and special tools to change it up. Same thing with the barrel, BUT because the 17S shoots the heavy 7.62 round it starts with a 16" barrel, and can be changed to a 20" barrel for very long range shots. This means that the sniper can carry the same rifle platform and just needs to swap out barrels when it comes time to make the long shots.
This rifle also comes with an adjustable folding stock. See above for my thoughts on that.

Given the mission of the rifle, I think that the best buy for me would be the FN SCAR 17S. It has all of the features I want, shoots the big .308 or 7.62mm NATO round, and can be easily reconfigured for the long shot. Guys in the Special Forces that I talk to (Internet chat with) think that it is a great rifle. These are guys who wouldn't give up their M14s for ANYTHING. Because of the easy change of the barrel, I could use this rifle in the 16" configuration to hunt pig or deer, then change it out to hunt something bigger like Elk or... I don't know... Moose or something.

One of the really nice things about all of the rifles I have mentioned is that they all come with the modular Picatinny rail system. With this system, just about any kind of optic, laser, flashlight, handle, grenade launcher (seriously) can be attached to the rifle. The plus for the 17S is that the iron sights fold down so that the optic can be mounted directly to the rifle without the need of a riser. That means that you can mount almost any conventional long range scope to the rifle. AND it is much easier to zero. Because the rail system is designed to snap accessories on and off quickly, you can go from a long range magnifying scope to a CQC red dot style optic in scant seconds, toollessly if the optic allows it.
Now to get the wife to agree in spending almost $3K on something that I have no business owning...

Totally tricked out FN SCAR 17s with Long Range scope, stabilization handle, laser, and desert paint.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Global Warming?

According to newly released data, global warming over the last 16 years  has been non-existent... On top of this, warming since 1880, when reliable measurements started, the temperature has only warmed to 0.75 degrees centigrade.  What does this tell us?  Two things.  First, the computer models that have said that global warming was a catastrophic problem are horrifically flawed.  Not only do the models not predict this temperature plateau, but they state that the temperature should be much warmer than it is today.  Second, the influence of solar activity has much more of an effect on the earth's temperature than previously thought.

So, with this new data will the Global Warming alarmists stop ringing the alarm?  Not a chance.  They will continue to pursue their agenda.  Why?  Because it brings them power, which is really what any movement that is based on the restriction of the free market and restriction of freedom is about.  They want control over the way you spend money, and the way you live your life.  There is no coincidence that the global warming people are hardcore left wingers.  They want to change the economy to a centralized Keynesian style, and the "environment" is how they do it.

If this wasn't so, we would see a much more scientific results and data view from these people.  We do not.  We simply see the push for more and more restrictions despite evidence over the last 16 years to the contrary.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Gathering Wealth

Despite two very sore knees, I went to help the young guys get ready for fights today. After the work out, we began to talk about things that young guys like to talk about... One of the guys had recently been over to my house, and another was part of the team that mows my lawn. They know I live in a brand new house in a nice neighborhood. They knew that I had a job as a computer guy, and that my wife is a doctor. Their question to me was, why don't I drive a big nice car? I could certainly afford the payments of virtually any care that I wanted to buy. Yet I drove a very plain Jane Mazda 3. Most of the young guys had nicer cars. So, why not dive a nice one?
After my obligatory fake show of offence at my car not being "nice," I gave them my basic philosophy on gathering wealth.

I told them that my car served its mission, an inexpensive mode of transport that gets me around the city.  After receiving some blank looks about a car's "mission," I expanded my reasoning.  Before I buy anything, I sit down and work out what the mission of the purchase is.  Finding out the mission of the purchase frames what the purchase is for and fleshes out the reasons for why the purchase is needed.  The concept of  getting a reasoning behind why a purchase is needed is really an alien thought to most of the young guys.  The only reason they need is "I want it."  So, I needed to expand on my philosophy.

Earned money represents life.  It is earned by the sacrifice of my time, my life, to another party, that compensates me with money.  Thus, money equals life.  I consider my life valuable, therefore money is valuable.  Therefore, any wasted money is, in fact, wasted life.  So, every purchase needs to be needed, and have a clear mission.  Finding the mission is important, because that will determine how much of something is needed.

This explanation was good enough for most of the guys to shake their heads and walk away.  For them, money is simply something that is spent.  For the two guys that have been to my house, they wanted more.  So, I set forth my philosophy on gathering wealth.  It is a very simple philosophy:

  • Spend less money than you make
  • Create a budget and stick to it
  • Savings are the first item in the budget, and is paid out FIRST.  Any funds not spent at the end of the month are transferred to savings.
  • An emergency fund of at least 3 months salary must be maintained at all times.
  • Have the proper insurance.
  • Map out major purchases so that the mission and reasons for purchase is clear and well defined.
  • Recognize the difference between "Want" and "Need"
  • Never make a purchase with only the Want defined.
  • When making purchases, Quality of the product is the highest priority
The guys had a very hard time with the first few.  They could understand that you should spend less money than you make, but why create a budget?  Why are savings paid out first?  Why have an emergency fund??

First, a budget is a map to how you spend your money.  Without a budget, it is WAY too easy to simply spend money willy nilly.  If you spend willy nilly, you never know if you will have money to pay your bills.  How can you know what you can afford if you don't know how much you are spending right now?? 
A budget tells you how much money goes out and how much you should be spending.  You will, therefore, know how much money you can additionally spend.
"But," they say, "you can't have any fun on a budget."  
"Why?"  I reply.  "I have a budget, and I go out, go on long crazy vacations.  I have fun.  I simply add fun in to my budget."  
The lack of "fun" is always what comes up in discussions about budgets.  Why?  Because the main reason people get on a budget in the first place is that their spending is so completely out of whack that they are in desperate straights.  If you are in desperate straights, you don't get to have any fun, because there is no money for fun.  If you get ahead of your spending, and you are not in desperate straights, you can easily add fun in to the budget.

Why are savings paid out first?  If savings are put out first they are funds that are not used for anything else.  They must be treated as a bill or a payment, because otherwise, "fun" and other stuff would suck up those funds very quickly.  Why put any left over funds in to savings?  Because it grows your savings.  Saving money for when you need it is extremely important.  You don't know what tomorrow will bring.  You need to have a robust savings, otherwise, when the unexpected occurs, you will not be prepared.  Also, savings earn money.  An easy way to make more money is through compounded interest.

Why do I need an emergency fund?  Emergencies happen.  Your car needs a repair.  Someone gets sick.  Someone gets injured.  The house has a problem.  You have to relocate.  You loose your job.  The emergency fund is there to take care of things like these so that you don't have to go in to your savings.   

Insurance.  Nobody likes to buy insurance.  Unless you need it, insurance seems to be a useless expense.  Many young guys don't have the proper insurance.  Insurance is absolutely essential.  If something happens, insurance saves you ass.  The biggest threat to your wealth is your health.  Health care is very expensive.  Not only that, but if you can't work, you loose income as you conveless.  You may not have income, but you are still spending money.  The proper insurance replaces your income, and pays for your medical care.  It may be an annoying cost every month, but it is absolutely necessary.  

I like to have a defined mission for my purchases.  The mission is defined as the primary use for the purchase.  My car is a good example.  The major need for my car is to take me around the city for less than 20 mile runs.  If this is the main purpose, what is the need for a large luxury car?  It would use too much gas, and I wouldn't be in it long enough to take advantage of the luxury features...  Except for maybe heated seats...  If I would be traveling more miles a day, or if I had to frequently make long trips, a luxury car makes more sense, but as a commuter car?  No.

The quality of the purchase is very important.  Things that are made with good quality last longer, and breakdown less frequently.  One of the things that guides my software development quality control is the phrase:  "It is better to have nothing at all than something that sucks."  This is absolutely true.  Things that suck simply frustrate your life.  Spend a little more on quality, and you will never regret it.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Freedom and Mandatory Vaccinations

I had a long and somewhat heated discussion with my wife over the very old topic of Mandatory Vaccinations. As a resident physician at a major university medical program, my wife has a unique view on the topic of communicable diseases. I, of course, am an insane Libertarian. That's Libertarian with a capital "L."

My wife deals with a reality that not many Americans know exists in this country. This reality is that the health system is overrun by illegal, and consequently uninsured, immigrants. These people only see a physician when they are in dire need of help. So, they come to the Emergency Room full of sickness, disease, and injury. Because they are the poorest of the poor from an assortment of third world nations, they carry all of the diseases that the third world has in abundance, but that we don't see very often in the "regular" United States. Diseases that we have virtually wiped out, Polio, TB, Yellow Fever, Pertussis (Whooping Cough)and other crawling nasties, all make the scene in these people. My wife has often commented that the only difference between her an a doctor working with Doctors With Out Borders is that she can go home at night.

So, armed with her perspective and experience, and I armed with my insanity that people should actually be allowed to decide what kind of health care and treatments they should receive, we began our discussion.

Of course, my wife was all for mandatory vaccination. Her position was that the benefit of vaccination doesn't come in to play unless ALL people are vaccinated. My position was that an individual should be allowed to choose what they put in their body. Our arguments are old ones. Medial professionals have been making this argument since vaccinations have been available. And... They are right.
Without mandatory vaccination, Polio would still be rampant in the US. Without mandatory vaccination, Small Pox would still be a world wide killer. I choose these two diseases because they are virtually unheard of in the modern world. Small Pox has been eradicated. Polio is only seen in the extreme rural ares of the third world where modern medical facilities are simply not available.

My stance is that vaccinations should be strongly encouraged by medical staff, but the government, with its monopoly on force, should not compel people, at the point of a gun, to be vaccinated.

With much back and forth, my wife used my own liberty smell test on me... My smell test with any law or policy was put forth by Thomas Jefferson in talking about religion. Jefferson said "...But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." I use the last part as my smell test. Does it break my leg, i.e. injure me or violate my rights? Does it pick my pocket, will it require the government to confiscate my property to accomplish?

My wife after hearing my smell test, I thought it failed because the government would "pick my pocket" to pay for vaccinations. My lovely and brilliant wife immediately came back with the Government can't pick my pocket if I am dead. That stopped me in my tracks.

Becoming deathly ill certainly falls in to the "break my leg" category. I needed to go back and read up on the issue to find out if I could come up with any better arguments. Why? I don't like to loose arguments. And my wife had just used my own stuff to kick my ass. This is what happens when you marry somebody MUCH smarter than you are. You end up getting your intellectual ass handed to you.
Anyway... To the interwebs I went.

It turns out... there are no better arguments. The founders typically allowed the police power of the government to be used to set up quarantines, many against the wills of the people trapped within. Of course it didn't become a federal issue until 1905. Jacobson v. Massachusetts came to SCOTUS. Jacobson brought the very same argument that I had to the Court. The Court said, with a vote of 7 to 2, that the state did indeed have the right to use police power to force vaccination on citizens.

I looked to Libertarians to give a cogent personal liberty angle against mandatory vaccination. I found that there really isn't a good angle. Why? Because getting someone else sick does indeed violate their rights. After reading many of the arguments presented by hard core Libertarians supporting mandatory vaccination. The only ones really advocating against vaccination were trying to make a religious argument. I reject this argument entirely, because it flys in the face of these institution's own teachings. If life is scared, you must do all you can to preserve it. Rejecting lifesaving medical treatment because you put things in God's hands is NOT preserving life. It is throwing it away. No dice on that argument.
The other arguments either say that vaccines don't work, or that they give kids autism. Complete bullshit Vaccine effectiveness is well documented, and the connection with autism has no scientific basis.

So... Where do I come down? I STILL think that it is vital that the individual have the right to determine the course of their medical treatment, whatever their beliefs. HOWEVER, after reading the Court's ruling in Jacobson v Massachusetts, I also think that the government does have the right to use its police power to enforce vaccinations. The safety of the general population, especially from contagions that are easily spread, is an inherent part of the social contract that governments have with their citizens.

I then re-read the Bill of Rights. When I am in doubt about something, I go back to the Bill of Rights, and Madison's Federalist Papers. Madison points the way. In those documents, the words that stuck out, are the ones with the force of law. The Fifth Amendment:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
...nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. The Constitution guarantees that we can not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without DUE PROCESS OF LAW. What that means is that the government does have the ability to deprive people of all of the above, but it must be through due process. So, the government can force us to take a vaccine, as long as due process is followed.

So where do we draw the line? Small Pox is deadly, but the Measles is not. Pertussis is spread through the air, but HPV is not. If we can prevent Polio with a vaccine, and we can prevent Rubella, do we not have an obligation to eradicate both? I think that these are the questions that need to be vigorously debated. Are they? Unfortunately not. Congress has all but totally gave its power in this debate over to the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services.

I can square my wife's argument with the Constitution. I am fine with some mandatory vaccination. As long as there is significant risk from a very communicable disease. I am not happy with it, and it feels wrong, but there are very specific times were the common good must be put before the individual. Now the only hard part is trying to come up with a way that I can tell the wife I have come over to her way of thinking, without having to admit that I was wrong...

Jacobson v Massachusetts

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Entitlement Attitude Now a Virtue????

A little while ago I wrote a post about my own experiences trying to come to terms with the entitlement mentality, and the dependence on Government. I found that the dependent attempted to justify their dependence and the money they received by saying that they work hard and are therefore OWED this assistance. I could not square that logic with well... actual reasoning.

After taking a look at new attack ads run by a labor union that is working for the re-election of President Obama, it seems as if the entitlement attitude is actually a virtue now.

Check out this video featuring Richard:

Richard... If you know your body is going to break down, why are you not prepairing for that eventuality? Why are you not looking for other work? Why are you not training yourself on weekends and evenings on marketable skills that will allow you to get a job that does not involve lifting??????? Richard, I did not put a gun to your head and force you to be a garbage man. YOU, however, are using the Government's monopoly on force, literally a gun to MY head, to pay for YOUR lack of planning.

But wait there's more!!! Check out Tito:

Tito... if you get laid off you might loose your house. I have an idea... Why don't you save some money so that if indeed you do get laid off, you WON'T loose your house. I have ALWAYS had such an emergency fund. Do you know why??? BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO LOOSE MY HOUSE IF I GET LAID OFF!!!!!!! Tito, you don't look like you miss many meals. What if you cut back on the calories, and use that extra money to build yourself an emergency fund like a responsible person would do. Oh, wait, that's right... You have a gun to my head forcing ME to pay for your lack of planning. Awesome.

One more... meet Joan:

Alright Joan... Let's pretend that the Office of the President has any control at all over these jobs, he doesn't because they are municipal jobs, not federal jobs, but we don't want to bring reason and logic in to this discussion now do we? Ok, the President waves his magic pen and cuts the jobs on the beach. What would happen? The very next day the Home Owners Association will get together and hire people to do the job. Problem solved. In fact the HOA will likely spend much less money doing the same job, because they will not bother with the cumbersome union that attaches itself to government jobs. So... your argument really has no merit.

The attitude presented by each one of these people is exactly the entitlement victim mindset that is propagated by those that will not be voting for Mitt Romney. The first two are solved by simply planning for the future. The first rule of life is to spend less than you earn. The second rule of life is prepare for likely emergency by creating an emergency fund, and buying insurance to protect against unforeseen emergencies. Did no one teach them these rules? Did they not learn this when they were growing up? Did they not see that the ones who could afford the nice things were the ones who were careful with their money???????? No, they didn't, or they just don't care. They simply want what the other guy has, and are willing to use force to attain it.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Who Pays?

I was hanging out with a bunch of younger guys yesterday afternoon as they cut weight for their tournament the next day.  When you are cutting weight, it can take some time, and you do light exercise to keep your body temp up and to keep the sweat rolling.  It can get boring, so various topics come to the front of the conversation.  We came upon the interesting topic of who pays in various situations.  I found it interesting, because I am decidedly old school.  I grew up on the farm with traditional, excuse the phrase, middle class Mid-Western parents.  Most of the guys at the gym are "new school" in that they grew up in various cities and are from various economic classes and household types.  The majority are from singe parent (mother) households in the lower range of the economic middle class.  Being from Oklahoma City and other Southwester Cities the Latin influence is very strong.

So...  who pays?  I found that there were some very different thoughts about this.  So different, in fact that it borders on a distinct cultural shift between the younger and older generations.


My view on dates is that the man ALWAYS pays.  No exceptions.  Ever.  It is absolutely unthinkable that there be any situation that the woman would pay for the date.  

The younger view was that the first date would be paid for by whomever did the asking out.  Subsequent dates would be "dutch" or both would pay their own way.  The exception to this rule was if there was a large economic disparity between the two people and the expense of the date's location.  The more expensive the date, the more the it was assumed that the man would pay, or if the man made a great deal more than the woman, then he would always pay.  

I found the new view to be emasculating.  I would expect that my view comes from the traditional notion that the man paying for the date shows the woman his ability to take care of her financially.  If both parties are paying, how can I demonstrate that I can provide for the woman?  One of the primary purposes of dating is removed from the social construct.


When I go out for drinks, with friends not in a date situation, I expect that we will pay for rounds of drinks.  I buy the first, you buy the second, he buys the third, so on and so forth.  If food is ordered, even if it is communal, it is paid for by the orderer.  

Their thought is that everything is divided up between all parties at the end of the session, or separate checks are to be made out for everyone.  

I can see why this view is popular, with computerized POS systems it is easy for the wait staff to create separate checks, and it is fair that everyone pays for what they consumed.  But...  part of the fun of going out for drinks is buying and receiving drinks from your friends.  If I just pay for my drinks, again, the social construct of gift giving is not exchanged.  Sure it is fair, but it is the same as if we were strangers in the bar.  Not friends sharing time and libations.

Dinner With Select Group

This is where things got a little heated.  My view on dinner with a select group of friends normally just two or three couples, is if I have invited you, I pay the bill.  Dinner is my gift to you for sharing your company.  If you insist on paying your way, I find it to be an insult, and I will likely never ask you to dinner again, and I will be reluctant to accept a dinner invitation from you.
If you invite me out I expect to pay my own way, however if you say that you will pay, I will give you a perfunctory "Are you sure?"  Then accept the gift of food and drink from you.

The other view was insistent that everyone pay their own way.  It seemed too much like showing off if one person paid for everyone.

I have  very difficult time coming to grips with this view.  I invited you out.  I asked for your company.  I pay.  I don't see the other view that this is showing off.  It is a gift of food and drink.  Not me showing off.  I invited you out for the very reason that you share my good fortune.
It is the same if you have invited me.  I share in your good fortune, accept the gift, and am simply happy to have you as a friend.

Dinner With a Large Group

This was the only time that we all agreed.  Having dinner with a large group of people at a restaurant, that is not some sort of formal event where the restaurant is not catering the event, think pre-nump meal,  it is convenient and acceptable for everyone to get separate checks and pay their own way. It is too expensive, and excessively difficult to deal with splitting the check up at the table.  Better to simply announce separate checks and use technology to figure it out.  The large group is not the intimate gathering as the select group, the social construct is a party of communal gathering, not an exclusive event.

I am obviously a dinosaur.  The traditions are changing, and I must change with them.  However, I will still attempt to pay in select groups.  I will still feel offended if I am not allowed to.  I will still attempt to pay for rounds of drinks.  I will still feel left out if I am not allowed to, or if a round is not bought for me.  I no longer date so I don't think I will have that issue in the future.  But if I did, I would NEVER let the woman pay.  There is only so far you can go...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Am I Being Detained?

Check out this "freeze" drill done at PHX airport by the TSA:
I can't tell you what this is about other than a group of government employees flexing non-existent power.  If you want to fly, you must submit to a search.  After you leave the security check point, you are covered under the 4th Amendment again.  What does that mean?  It means that the TSA does NOT have the right to detain you without due process or without Probable Cause. 
If you are confronted with this absurdity, simply ask the question "Am I being detained?"  If the answer is "NO" keep on going.  They do NOT have the right to detain you, so don't let them.  They don't have the right to check your drink in the gate.  Don't let them. They only have the power that we give them, and if you let them...  They will abuse it.

BTW, this is a section of the Government directly under the control of the Executive Branch.  They are under Homeland Security, which is a cabinet level department.  So, yes President Obama is directly responsible for these unlawful detentions.  Why no questions about them????

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The 47%

Mitt Romney said that 47% of Americans will vote for the President because they are dependent on Government, and that they have a victim or entitlement mentality.

This is a view that is held by many on in the Republican party.  I don't think that the number is that high.  Certainly, there are 47% of Americans who do not pay income tax.  Many of those 47% actually get money in the form of a Tax Refund that come from a negative tax liability from tax credits.

I went on to Facebook and to other forms of social media to take a look at what was being said, and to try and dissect the mindset that some of these people who were dependent on the Government.  I come at this little unscientific social experiment with my own mind set of disdain for any government assistance, what so ever.  I actually spent my self nearly in to debt paying off my wife's student loans when they were forcibly taken from the private banking institution we were lending from and put in to Government hands.  Interestingly enough, the government still believes that I have a balance on these loans, even though I have letters and receipts saying that I do not.  I expect to be fighting them for quite some time.

I digress, I went on to the various liberal web sites, The Huffington Post, Mother Jones, The Daily Kos, and watched what was being said on Facebook sites.

What I found was extremely interesting.  An amazing amount of people openly deceive themselves on exactly what dependence is, and vociferously deny an entitlement attitude while obviously displaying one.  Another vocal group has no idea what a tax credit is, how they work, but are positive that the rich have more than they do.  Nearly everyone, conservative or liberal, have very little idea what the tax brackets actually are, and almost everyone knows the difference between income tax and capital gains tax.  The fictional "effective" tax rate is bandied about like some sort of mythical sword that slayes the evil hording Smaug that is "the rich" (Little Hobbit reference for you there, apt in this context, no?)
What I also found very very interesting was the definition of who was "rich."  Almost to a man the liberals said that anyone making over $250,000 a year was rich.  When asked where they got this figure, they all said from the government.  When informed that the government has no such distinction, they go absolutely insane.  If anything, the government says that if you make $388,350 a year you are rich, because that is what puts you in to the highest tax bracket.  But nowhere, in current law, does it say that $250K is the line between "rich" and...  well...  no one can define what is the "class" that limits on $249K.  It isn't middle, because $249K is still a lot of money.

So, in to this land of no definitions I went.  My main problem going in was this acceptance of no definition of terms.  The phrase, "Everybody knows" is thrown about as a definition, or as if this is its own evidence.  I have to admit that my arguments were sometimes completely stymied by my instance that terms be defined.  Apparently, it is acceptable now a days to derive conclusions and form entire world views on things that have no solid definition.  I don't know how this is done, but...  wow.  It is evident that Science was not a strong subject for well...  the entire Internet.

Anyway getting back to my very unscientific findings. I broke down the people receiving assistance and voting for the President in to three groups:

  • Receiving assistance, and not working, or caring to ever not receive assistance.
  • Receiving assistance, but working.
  • Receiving assistance, but not knowing that they are receiving assistance.

The first two groups had very similar arguments for receiving their assistance.  They were too injured/fat/lazy to work and needed money to live.  Or they couldn't find a job, or they were caring for dependents that they needed money for.

When directly asked by what right they had to my earnings, many said that they weren't taking my earnings, they were being "given" money from the Government.  One actually said they were being given money directly from President Obama.  I ignored this person entirely, because...  well... they are a moron and you can't have an intellectual discussion with stupid.
Learning that these people thought they were receiving money not from me, but from the Government pointed to a fundamental misunderstanding of how Government gets its money.  When told that my tax dollars went to fund their gifts from the Government, arguments switched to "Who is going to take care of my children/father/mother?"
This is a fundamental emotional argument.  If I say "You" I am a heartless person who only wants to see children and old people dead in the street.  This is, of course, not true, but it is very effective at shutting the faint of heart up.  Since I don't care, I did say YOU, and dealt with the fallout.   

Those that received assistance, but were working had an other interesting, but false, claim to the money.  They claimed that they "worked hard" and deserved the money because they could not afford their lifestyles.  It was because they "worked hard" that they felt that I and the rest of the tax payers "owed" them something.
I have never really dealt with this kind of argument before.    These people were serious.  One said that he worked harder than any CEO, so he deserves the money that the CEO makes.  I admit this kind of thinking is absolutely foreign to me.  I can not make the logical connection between hard work at a low paying job and the CEO owing me more money than they are willing to compensate me for the job that I have done.  My brain just shorts out there.
The ones that receive assistance, but don't know they are receiving assistance have one of two mental issues.  They either have convinced themselves that they are not receiving assistance, and can not be told otherwise, or they don't know how their taxes work so they don't know that their tax refund is not actually money that they paid, it is negative tax liability coming back to them.

If you are looking to buy votes, there is nothing better than a tax credit to do it.  The people who pay taxes get to pay less tax, and the people who don't pay taxes get government money put in to their pocket.  How do tax credits work?  Well say you have a tax liability of $1000, and I have one of $0.  We both receive a tax credit for $100.  Now your tax burden is $900, and mine is -$100.  You cut a smaller check to Uncle Sam, and I get a $100 check from the Treasury.  But you didn't pay any tax!!!!  Yup, I didn't, but I am still owed the "credit."  Many of the Bush Tax Cuts are set up this way.  Those that do not pay tax, are still getting money.  This is one way that you receive government assistance without knowing it.

As far as pointing out that someone has an entitlement mindset...  I actually found it a lot of fun reading what these people were trying to say wasn't an entitlement mindset, when it obviously was.  Many of them went like:  I don't have an entitlement mindset.
But, you feel you owed, or entitled to the money you receive.
No, but I need it because I work hard, need for kids/mom/dad/dog/iPhone, etc
What would happen if that money went a way.
I would raise holy hell.
That isn't you feeling entitled, or like a victim because you need to take care of your insert care thing here?
No.  Because who would take care of my cat?  give me an iPhone? pay my house payment?  I need the money
But that is the definition of an entitlement mindset.
No.  Because I need these things.

A lot of fun was had when probing these people's finances and what they had in their houses.  All had a computer.  All had a car.  All had very nice large screen TVs.  All had air conditioning.  All had cell phones with data plans.  All had WAY more than enough to eat.  All went out to eat at least once a week.  All had access to or outright owned one or more game console.  All had cable or satellite television.  All had broadband internet connectivity.  NONE thought that they needed to give up any of these luxuries, because they were receiving government assistance.  The mindset was overwhelmingly along the lines of "Everybody has these things, why shouldn't I?"

A familiar counter argument or justification for the assistance was that "everyone" receives government assistance in one way or another.  Roads, public works, police force, military protection, etc.  This argument should fall apart when it is pointed out that these services are public services that are shared, and that the assistance to the individual is a transfer of property from one private party to another private party.  That distinction is lost on may of these people.

At the end of the day, there is a stark difference in thinking between myself and those that receive government assistance.  I will go out of my way to avoid the chains of government servitude.  Others willingly embrace the slavery that comes with government control.  I want to live free, they simply want to live in a land where Big Brother takes care of them from cradle to grave.