Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"Hippy, do me a favor. . . ."

". . . . .and stay off my side."

Look, I swear to you, I tried not to care about the Miss California deal. I did. A flap between a sparkly beauty queen and a sparkly internet drama queen is not something I want to admit I care about . . . . but today I caught some of Perez Hilton's comments on video, and it jogged some thoughts loose, so here we go.

First, I was struck by the way the whole thing was presented. If you haven't heard yet, the Miss USA pageant was held recently, and "Perez Hilton" (get it?!?) was one of the celebrity judges. I didn't watch it, and for a few days afterward, I heard over and over on sources from NPR to local radio to TV news and the internet that there had been a repeat of the " . . . and such as!" incident from a year or two ago. Nobody actually quoted what the woman said; I didn't even find out that she'd said something about gay marriage until a few days after. When I finally found out what she'd said, my first thought was that she was wrong, but . . . . where was the stupid? Where was the idiocy we were all supposed to mock? I just wasn't seeing what was so idiotic about a woman giving her opinion on the issue.

Later, when I saw Hilton's statements, I could only sigh and wish that he and I were on opposite sides of this issue. Unfortunately, we're not. I agree with him; if two adult people say they both want to commit to a marriage, everybody else should butt out. And I disagree with Miss California; her opinion is her opinion, but I think we all know gay marriage is coming, and it's not going to hurt anybody else's marriage when it does. If you're not buying that, you're entitled to your opinion, too, but keep me updated as Iowa's family structure falls apart in the coming years, because I may miss it.

Still and all, sharing Perez Hilton's side of anything is uncomfortable. Here he is blathering on at length and in detail about how Miss USA has to "represent everyone" and Miss California was "being divisive" with her answer. Really? Who asked the question, Pez-head? Was that you? Did you notice that you asked a simple, binary, yes-or-no question? She couldn't answer your question honestly without alienating someone. Your trouble is that you're defining "represent" as "agree with" and alleging that if she doesn't agree with you, she isn't representing you. That's a problem for two reasons, the first of which is that you think Miss USA is supposed to represent you. In what body or proceedings are you ever going to be represented by Miss USA? I'll tell you right now, Miss USA doesn't represent me. Ever. Actually, I probably shouldn't throw stones, since my federal representatives include Barry "Barack" Obama, Roland "Tombstone" Burris and Dick "Dick" Durbin. Maybe I should look into being represented by Miss USA and Miss America in future, actually, but that's neither here nor there.

I promised you two reasons, didn't I? Well, the second reason is that Hilton asked the question and thus set Miss California up to make a choice. The only choice he left her was between "representing" (in his parlance) either the people who want to prevent gay marriages or the people who want to allow gay marriages. That was it. Since he defines representation as slavish agreement, it's not possible for her to represent both sides--for one side to get what it demands, the other side has to lose what it wants. There really isn't a middle of the road. He could just say "Obviously, I disagree, and here's why gay marriage is important . . . " But that would require thinking his position through and considering whether it's really what he believes, and that's a lot like work. I shouldn't expect more than that from someone who snarks celebrities for a living, but apparently I did.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

You Sure About That?

I hate to tell you your business, Lookman, but are you sure that's the story you want to go with today?

My names are Lookman David. I am the director of information Her Majesty Custom and Revenue, London United Kingdom.. . . ."

Monday, April 20, 2009

One More Thing About Right-Wing Terrorists

Let me just make sure I have this right, before we move on to the next meme and abandon the "Right Wing Terrorists who quote the Constitution" stuff. According to the Obama administration, there are two lists.

People who are not terrorists:
William "Oops" Ayers
Bernardine "Dig It" Dohrn

People who are terrorists:
Anybody who went to a Tea Party

And Now a Word From Our Sponsors: Numbers 9, 2, and 14

So I'm sure anyone who reads this blog has already seen the news: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the 2nd Amendment applies to state and local governments, because the right to keep and bear arms is considered "fundamental," "necessary to an Anglo-American regime of ordered libarty," and "deeply rooted in this nation's history and tradition."

There's really no reason for me to bore you with more punditry on this, so I'll just put up one more link and go install a bathtub.

SHOCKING STORY: ABC Lied to Gun Owners

OK, OK, let's all settle down for a minute! I know you're SHOCKED. I'm SHOCKED, too, but I'm afraid it's true. I didn't want to believe it, either, but the fact seems inescapable:
ABC lied to the gun owners featured in their recent story . . . . and they lied to the rest of us about the gun owners featured in their recent story.
I know, I know, it hurts me inside too, but . . . . uh . . . . you know, I have to say, and I'm not judging anyone here, it seems like the rest of you are not all that shocked.

It's almost as if you expected ABC to create a one-sided smear job created by manipulating honest people. Well, click the link and watch the video of the interview with ABC's evil, gun-owning father, Jan Nickels. When you know his name and he gets a few minutes to explain what really happened, it begins to look like reality is the opposite of what ABC portrayed.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Chicago Still Argues the 2nd Amendmentment is "Collective"

-----Chicago finally submitted its brief in the lawsuits against it (there were two suits, one brought by the NRA and one by the ISRA, SAF, and four residents of Chicago. The two suits were consolidated, so Chicago's brief addresses both. This is for the federal appellate court; it's likely that whoever loses here will appeal to the Supreme Court.) I'm still slogging through it (hey, I don't get paid for this) but I'm struck by Chicago's decision to open their arguments, more or less, with the assertion that the 2nd Amendment protects a collective right and certainly wasn't intended to enumerate an individual, "deeply rooted" right to keep and bear arms.
"And in fact, the inclusion of the 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights says nothing about whether the right it protects--interpreted in Heller as a right to own weapons in common use--is a fundamental personal liberty interest within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. Unlike other enumerated rights, the Second Amendment was not codified to protect individual liberty. Rather, although conferring an individually held right, the scope of the Second Amendment's protection is circumscribed by its primary purpose of preventing federal disarmament of the militia."
-----Really, Chicago? Really? That's what you came up with? The Second Amendment "confers" an individual right, but since the individual right it "confers" is connected to a collective purpose, it's really a double secret collective right, and Heller is double plus undone and down the memory hole? I can't wait to read the rest.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Nobody Drives Corvettes for Racing, They're Too Slow

Snowflakes in Hell has video of Ed Rendell talking like a loon . . . . which he has already taken apart pretty well. I'm not going to redo the work Sebastian has done; I just find myself tickled at Rendell. Is he talking out his . . . . uh . . . sleeve, about things he doesn't understand? Or is he lying? It's hard to decide. What I do know is that Ed Rendell says nobody uses AR-15's to hunt because they're inaccurate, and nobody uses AK-47 clones for home defense because, and I quote, "they jam a lot, and they're the last thing you want. You should have a revolver or something like that."

That's right, kids. That guy on the gun forum who keeps telling everybody to get a revolver, because revolvers don't jam? That could very well be Ed Rendell. And remember not to rely on that AK clone, because everyone knows the AK design is a jam-a-matic, especially if it gets a little dirty, right?

That got me thinking about what other things are really not well-suited to their uses:
  • Don't drive Corvettes on road courses, because Corvettes are slow.
  • Don't use a pickup to haul gravel, because pickups don't carry loads very well.
  • Don't use Ed Rendell to govern your state, because Ed Rendell is ignorant and proud of it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I'm So Proud of Her . . . .

I borrowed My Bride's van yesterday to go get the dogs. When I keyed it on, the CD player began playing where it had left off. It was an audiobook . . . . it was very familiar . . . and then people cowered before the Vogons.

It was The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. And a single tear welled up in each eye as I considered the magnificent creature I have wed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009's Valinda Rowe Rebuts 20/20 Hit Piece

WSIL, a local ABC station in Harrisburg, IL, ran the 20/20 story "If I Only Had a Gun." Nothing wrong with that; they're an ABC affiliate, and they pay big money to run that program. But they took a step that I'm willing to bet most local stations around the country didn't think of: they invited advocates of both sides of the issue to appear live on the nightly newscast to discuss the piece. According to WSIL anchor Angie Wyatt, both the ICPGV (Illinois Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence) and the Brady Campaign (Formerly Handgun Control, Inc.) were called, but neither responded. Imagine that! The only one who took the station up on its offer was Valinda Rowe, spokesperson for

Personally, I think ICPGV and BC made the right choice. The NSSF refused to comment on 20/20's hit piece, because it was clear that it was intended to bury the NSSF's point of view and make it impossible for them to give their side of the argument. Putting two anti-gun shills at the same table as Valinda Rowe of and forcing them to defend their arguments with whatever facts they can muster is the same kind of foregone conclusion. If they had agreed to play fair against Valinda, they'd have had no one but themselves to blame for the results. The 20/20 piece made all their arguments about as well as they're able to make them; there was nothing to gain for them in trying to debate.

Monday, April 13, 2009

And a Good Time Was Had By All

I had an excellent time in Chicago this weekend. Just a great day in Chicago, followed by some great times in the suburbs. This is very unusual for me.

In Chicago, we hit the packed-to-the-rafters Chicago Field Museum mainly to see the "Real Pirates" exhibit with relics from the Whydah Galley, the flagship of "Black Sam" Bellamy. The Whydah was originally a slaver taking part in the "triangle trade" but was captured by Bellamy and converted into the ultimate pirate ship; the Whydah was one of the most technologically advanced sailing ships of its time, and there was really nothing in the Atlantic to match it--except the hurricanes, which eventually sank it off the coast of what would later be the United States. The exhibit was excellent, as advertised, and I did pick up some good new information. The only tickets left were for 3:00, and we couldn't have gotten those if we hadn't been members of the museum, but we got our money's worth. They had to shoo us out at 5:00! First, though, we started the day by taking a tour with a friend who works at the Field Museum. We didn't see anything top secret--you can see the same things at the semi-annual Members' Nights--but we never get to those because we simply live too far away.

The next day, we had lunch with some of my wife's old friends and watched the babies play together for hours. I don't know what we did for fun before we had babies to watch, but now that fills an afternoon nicely.

Later, we had dinner at the home of a Chicago gun-rights activist whose comments you've probably seen many times at online news articles; he and his beautiful wife grilled delicious lamb chops and made cookies that would have been illegal inside the city limits. Other guests included semi-vegetarian teenagers ("I don't think it's wrong to eat meat, it's just, well, gross") and two other Chicago-area activists who are actually suing the city of Chicago to overturn its onerous "registration" laws. One of the guests brought some really weird Hungarian wine called "Bull's Blood," which actually wasn't half bad (had my glass of wine for 2009--maybe I'll have a nice Chardonnay in 2010.) In a stunning reversal of standard procedure, the twins charmed everyone in the place while Sean screamed and threw tantrums. There was actually remarkably little gun talk as we enjoyed each others' families; the conversation turned more to wordplay and personal histories. Of course, there was some showoff time, and unfortunately, the only gun I had available to show off was my Gun Blog .45. Luckily, others were along to take up the slack. Essentially, their gun collections put me to shame, the hosts' lovely house put my money pit to shame, their dogs are well-behaved and their teenagers sat at a table with 12-year-old boys and had a friendly meal with them. Clearly these people are a great deal more competent than I, but they're gracious about it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Firsthand Account of Snuffy Pfleger's Lobbying Day

INDENTTonight the irrepressible and inimitable Tom Shafer regaled the monthly meeting of the Sangamon County Rifle Association with tales of his up close and uncomfortably personal encounter with Father Michael "Snuffy" Pfleger:

Pro Tip: Lobbying Days Require Grassroots, Not Astroturf
INDENTYou may remember that Illinois gun owners had our Lobbying Day at the state capitol in Springfield on March 11. One week later, Snuffy Pfleger had his own Lobbying Day on March 18. He brought several buses down from Chicago to lobby for passage of HB0048, the bill that would have made it illegal to transfer a gun in Illinois without first giving it over to a federally-licensed gun dealer--even if you were loaning or giving the gun. This bill was the absolute top priority for the gun banners in Illinois, so Snuffy organized a bus trip for three groups of people: members of his St. Sabina's Catholic Church, students from the Simeon Career Academy in Chicago, and students from Howard University in Washington, D.C. The Simeon kids were here in memory of a classmate who was killed at a basketball game, while the Howard University kids were on an "Alternative Spring Break" on which they were supposed to be "addressing gun violence."
INDENTThe interesting part is that Tom lucked into the chance to attend the event when he was visiting the capitol on other business that same day and happened to hear Rep. Edward "Don't You Know Who I Am?" Acevedo say something about going out to "the gun rally." He followed the group outside, where Pfleger's folks were disembarking from their buses, and joined the demonstration.

INDENTTom estimated that the crowd at its largest was between 80 and 100 people. I found that very interesting, since I've had a chance to crunch some numbers. Remember the kids from Simeon Career Academy and Howard University? Well, here are the numbers for those:
INDENTMy arithmetic makes that 54+14=68 college students bused in from 900 miles away, in addition to ~50 students bused down on school buses on a school day to be used as political props (nothing new for Chicago Public Schools.) That's 118 blades of astroturf. If we're extra generous, assume Tom was wrong, and they must have gotten 150 or so, that still means that roughly 80% of their "grassroots citizen lobbyists" were school kids taking the day off or college kids from four states away. Compare that to the numbers IGOLD generated--with everyone paying his own way--and you can see why legislators were not jumping on the Pfleger bandwagon.

"I Love You, I Hate You, I Just Don't Know Anymore"
INDENT"Ma'am, I'm from Springfield. Can I get some of your materials, please?" Tom asked the big, happy lady at the door of the bus.
INDENT"Well, of course!" she said. "You're doing the right thing. I just love you!"
INDENT"I do appreciate that, ma'am, but I'm from the pro-gun side of things . . . ."
INDENT"Well, then, I guess I just hate you!"
INDENT"Well, ma'am, I still love you."

Good Touches and Bad Touches: The Hand of Pfleger
INDENTAt one point, after Pfleger was done haranguing the crowd and embarassing Dan Kotowski, Tom walked up to him and asked him whether he regretted calling for John Riggio and state legislators to be "snuffed out." That's when things got weird. According to Tom, Pfleger reacted by grabbing his shirt with one hand, which caused both police and Chicago school students to close in a bit and look edgy, then began "stroking (me) with his other hand. I wasn't sure what was going on, so I just told him to keep it above the waist, buddy," Tom told the group. As he "stroked" Tom, he explained that his comments had been taken out of context and that he'd never actually said he wanted anyone to hurt John Riggio. The video is at the top of this post; I'll let you decide for yourself whether Pfleger was unfairly taken out of context. Also whether he's a howling maniac.

Playing In Traffic
INDENTDuring IGOLD, several thousand gun owners marched across 2nd Street in Springfield and gathered in front of the Lincoln statue on the capitol lawn. We had to get them all across the street safely and then keep everyone out of the street, because 2nd Street is a city bus route and we couldn't block it (it can be done, with the right permit, but there's so much extra work fitting yourself to the bus schedule that it isn't worth it.) Pfleger's group didn't have a permit to block any streets, much less a main artery like 2nd, but according to Tom, they decided that was the best way to get some attention. There were scattered shouts to the effect that they would jump into 2nd Street and stop traffic. I'm not sure what the purpose of that was supposed to be; maybe just pure mischief. In any case, the kindly police officers escorting the group quashed that particular brainstorm so early that no one was hit by a bus, which I suppose is for the best.
INDENTFinally, Snuffy, sensing that no one was going to cover this circus and knowing that the planned vote/spectacle on HB0048 was not going to happen because the votes weren't there, decided to try one last attention-getting tantrum: he and his merry band announced their intention to "storm the Governor's Office and occupy it." Contrast that with IGOLD, when Governor Quinn refused to meet with us, but Thirdpower and I chatted amiably with his secretary and the Ladies of IGOLD presented an assistant with Quinn's plaque.
In any case, it was not to be. The Secretary of State's Police officers suggested, as Tom put it, that "that would be a very bad idea." Disappointed, and with opportunities for mischievous street theater exhausted, Pfleger loaded his merry band on the buses and went home.

Pirate Sneak Preview

From William: The Worst Pirate Ever, now available at fine booksellers nowhere:

“I do believe our newest volunteer is awake, Travis, and no doubt ready to serve King and country, eh? Run get the captain, that’s a good lad.” The grin more than made up for a slight lack of teeth with a heady mixture of tobacco and rum fumes.
More to come. This project has changed a lot in the last month, but it's starting to come out on paper in story form, so I think the changes have been for the best. We shall see.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

EMS Calls With Regional Flavor

There are certain calls you just get a lot more of in a small midwestern town. I doubt Los Angeles EMS goes on a lot of calls where they rush to the local coal mine and then sit and wait because the patient was an hour underground when he was hurt. Boston probably doesn't have to do standby at the Combine Demolition Derby, and there couldn't have been many silo fires in Miami last fall. Similarly, we don't get a lot of calls for shark attacks or people falling off mountains out here on the vast and unyielding prairies.

New York EMS must be running hundreds of calls tonight . . . . and I bet not a single one of them involved a volunteer firefighter falling off an ass. We had two of those.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you've ever been injured during a spirited game of Donkey Basketball . . . . it's just possible . . . . you might be a redneck. If the EMT's on scene film you with their phones instead of treating, you're probably a firefighter.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Did IL State Rep. Dunkin Really "Table" his $1 Million Insurance Bill?

Armed and Safe: Did IL State Rep. Dunkin lie about tabling mandatory $1 million liability insurance for gun owners?

Short answer? Maybe, but as of today, he did actually table it. Confused yet? Here's the short-short version:
  1. Representative Kenneth Dunkin introduced House Bill 687 in the Illinois House. HB0687 set a requirement that every Illinois gun owner immediately take out a $1,000,000 insurance policy to cover himself against any damages done with any of his firearms, including willful misuse.
  2. Word spreads, and even national media take notice.ISRA, NRA, and grassroots lobbyists pester Dunkin relentlessly, explaining why his bill would wipe out gun ownership (and is therefore unconstitutional and, after D.C. v. Heller, impossible to defend in the courts.
  3. Thousands of Illinois gun owners descend on the Illinois state capitol on Gun Owners Lobbying Day. Representative Dunkin is interviewed by Cameron Gray of NRANews; he cheerfully announces that he has been "educated" by gun owners and has "tabled the bill."
  4. About two weeks later, on April 2, HB0687 moves to 2nd Reading, one step away from coming up for a vote. Gun owners sigh and prepare to be screwed. Again. Phone calls to Rep. Dunkin's office begin.
  5. The next day, on April 3rd, the bill suddenly shows as "Tabled by bill sponsor" on the IL General Assembly website. Rep. Dunkin's office begins calling gun owners back to let them know about the change (at least, they called me, and since they have no idea who I am, I assume they called everyone back.)
So that's where we are right now. I haven't spoken to Rep. Dunkin, and the man is slicker than a greased Senator so it's hard to know where we stand with him in any case. Did he think HB0687 could slip by until it was too late to prevent a vote? I don't see how anyone could think that, given the way gun owners are bulldogging the capitol this year, and I don't see how he could possibly have the votes given that every anti-gun priority has gone down to defeat so far. So did he and his staff simply not follow through for whatever reason? That's my guess.

Just Because We Lied Doesn't Mean We're Wrong (The Mexican CanardTM)

Days of our Trailers: What he said then and what he says now...

Paul Helmke says The Mexican CanardTM is now to be considered separate from the lie that 90% of Mexican crime guns come from the United States civilian market, which is now to be considered "a red herring."

Paul, we knew that lie was a red herring the first time you repeated it. The problem from your point of view is that we already know you and yours intended it to fool the rest of the country, not the other way around. The pro-gun side of things didn't introduce the idea of the 90% myth, you know--that was you. For you to call your own argument a red herring is kind of a big slip.