Tuesday, August 31, 2010

But what if he's not an operator?

"When it's all over, there's going to be one guy standing there with a bolt Mauser on top of a hill, with no armor plating on, in short pants and tennis shoes with a hundred-year-old 1898 Mauser. He's going to be the last man standing. It's as simple as that." (Louis Awerbuck, Yavapai Firearms Academy)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Reading room

As I engage in some long-overdue personal definition and reinvention here, I've been doing less writing and more reading. I've certainly had the time for it.

Last weekend's surfing brought me to two familiar articles (book chapters, actually) addressing the subject of the armed citizen. The first is "
On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs," from On Combat by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, U.S. Army (Ret.). Here's an excerpt:
"Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: You didn't bring your gun; you didn't train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by fear, helplessness, horror and shame at your moment of truth."
The other article is "The Constitutional Right and Social Obligation to Carry a Gun," from Living with Glocks by Robert H. Boatman. Not only does the author pull no punches -- he demands that we not flinch:
"Anti-freedom zealots see nothing wrong with leaning on their neighbors to provide them with personal protection even though they would never consider returning the favor. They worship their effeminate fantasy of an all-powerful government with true religious fanaticism. They believe all other humans are as mentally weak, irresponsible, incompetent and self-hating as they know themselves to be. And they encourage only civilization’s most self-destructive tendencies."
I'd be doing KintlaLake Blog readers a disservice if I didn't include this gem in my preview of Boatman's article:
"The framers of the Constitution were under no pressure from the NRA when they wrote, '...the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.'"
In the interest of allowing you to form independent opinions about these articles, I'm presenting them without comment, except to urge you to click on the links and read them -- and think.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Restoring what?

I'm already on-record asserting that Glenn Beck is (probably) crazy. Still, I don't disagree with him categorically -- even a nutjob can have a good idea or two.

His "America's Divine Destiny" shtick isn't one of them. Neither, for the most part, is the "Restoring Honor" rally he's hosting today at the Lincoln Memorial.

Honor is a personal virtue, not a movement. Honor is neither political nor national. A government or corporation cannot demonstrate honor except through the actions of individuals. Honor is never collective.

Before honor comes intellectual honesty, and few public figures fail the intellectual Smell Test as often as does Glenn Beck.

Beck speaks his truth passionately and without apology, as is his right. And to be clear here, I appreciate his vigilance (until it verges on right-wing paranoia, anyway) and I join him in vigorous defense of constitutional principles (until he starts blathering that his God approves only those who share his brand of theology).

Unfortunately, his pursuit of religious and ideological purity undermines his credibility, along with his ultimate value to the task of saving our nation.

Today Beck will be surrounded (and adored) by his True Believers, exercising their First Amendment rights to assemble peaceably and speak freely. Someone should remind these folks, however, that they're throwing away their hero-worship on a cartoon character.

With that image in mind, it's not at all surprising that Beck's most disturbed disciples are suggesting -- seriously -- that he and Caribou Barbie would be a formidable ticket in 2012.

If that ever comes to pass, whatever "honor" might be "restored" today -- during what pundit John Avlon calls the "2010 Wingnut Super Bowl" -- will evaporate.

Did you know...?
Because Beck's three-hour "Restoring Honor" event is being held in Washington, DC and on property managed by the National Park Service, his website advises attendees,

The list of "Prohibited Items" includes these five bullet points:
• Firearms (real or simulated)
• Ammunition
• Explosives or incendiary devices of any kind (incl. fireworks)
• Knives, blades, or sharp objects of any length
• No firearms or explosive devices, no open fires
Two things are clear. First, the list obviously was prepared by the Federal Department of Redundancy Department.

And second, it's apparent that Glenn Beck chose symbolism over the Second Amendment.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Parallels & intersections

I don't remember exactly when I first heard these lyrics, but I do remember how I felt:

He got up every mornin'
While I was still asleep
And I remember the sound of him shufflin' around
Right before the crack of dawn
Is when I heard him turn the motor on
But when I got up they were gone

Down the road in the rain and snow
The man and his machine would go
Oh, the secrets that old car would know
Sometimes I hear him sayin'

Don'tcha gimme no Buick
Son, you must take my word
If there's a god in heaven
He's got a silver Thunderbird
You can keep your Eldorado
And the foreign car's absurd
Me, I wanna go down
In a silver Thunderbird

As Marc Cohn sang of his childhood he sang of mine, of growing up in northeast Ohio in the late 1950s and early 1960s. I walked through my youth 50 miles south of Cohn, who's two years (almost to the day) younger than me. For what it's worth, my dad drove an Olds.

Sometimes we follow music. Sometimes the music follows us.

* * *
In closing, if you'll permit me, I'll offer a recommendation.

Regular readers of KintlaLake Blog will recall that the music of
McGuffey Lane has had my attention for nearly 35 years now. The band's tenth album -- appropriately titled "10" -- has been out for less than a month and it's a bona fide winner. With all due respect to McGuffey Lane's considerable body of work, "10" may be the best yet.

photograph on the art accompanying the CD isn't bad, either.)

If your musical tastes run similar to mine, I believe you'll enjoy it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

One in five

According to The Pew Research Center, 18% of Americans say that Pres. Barack Obama is a Muslim.

In other wingnut news, an April New York Times/CBS News poll found that 20% of those surveyed believe that Pres. Obama was born outside the U.S.

Apparently I'm not the only one who wonders about these 20%ers. Yesterday's edition of The Washington Post included a brief article noting (among other things) that
one in five Americans admits to peeing in a swimming pool.

I suspect that these are the same numbskulls (
18%) who are more likely to vote for a candidate if Sarah "Mama Grizzly" Palin campaigns on their behalf.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

As we withdraw from Iraq

The whole "social media" thing generally gives me a rash. Every now and then, however, there's a case for redemption.

One of my wife's Facebook friends, a former military chopper pilot, posted this earlier today:

"I lost count of the dead I flew to Balad for the last flight home. I hope, my only hope in life, is that people learn not to hate.

"Please everyone remember why the Constitution is so important. Do not abridge anyone's rights to freedom. This includes the right to worship any religion you may feel represents you. I, as many, have defended that right for years. I hope my son does not see the things I have seen in the name of religion.

"Take care of those who have served and those who are willing to serve. They are a rare breed and will protect you 'til they can no longer."

That was worth getting up for this morning.

Please join me in honoring our warriors as they return, regardless of how they return. Serve the men and women who have served us.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Look who's talking

During the traditional White House Iftar held Friday evening, Pres. Barack Obama said,
"As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the Founders must endure."
The same people who criticize the President for policies that run roughshod over certain constitutional principles should praise him for his defense of this one. They won't, of course, roundly (and rightly) accusing him of cherry-picking the Bill of Rights to serve his purpose.

At this point, however, a mirror would be useful.

Insisting that Obama-Biden-Holder abide by the Founders' intent in crafting, say, the Second Amendment, while ignoring "the writ of the Founders" for the First Amendment raises hypocrisy to an art form.

That's what happens when principle takes a back seat to ideology.

In his remarks about the Manhattan mosque, Pres. Obama was absolutely correct. The pro-Constitution crowd -- this time, at least -- should stand up and say so, no matter how they feel about the President.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What say you?

Take a look at this TV spot promoting Sen. Harry Reid's re-election campaign:

For a moment, try to put aside the candidates and their parties -- focus on the ad's message that armed resistance against a tyrannical authority isn't among the "Second Amendment remedies" conceived by the Founders.

That's unfiltered bullshit, of course.

Almost exactly two years ago I quoted former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on this very subject:

"...the Second Amendment is not about hunting. I get so frustrated when some candidates asked about the Second Amendment, they start telling me, 'Well, I have a hunting license, and I’m a member of the NRA.' Look, so do I. It's not about the Second Amendment.

"The Second Amendment is about freedom. It's about protecting ourselves, our families, our property, and ultimately, if necessary -- I know this sounds pretty bold -- but from our own government, when they get out of control. That's what it's all about."

For another perspective, check out columnist David Codrea's commentary on the Reid ad. He got it precisely right.

Despite hyper-paranoid rhetoric from the (truly) extreme right, currently there's neither call nor cause for armed resistance. The People aren't suffering under a tyrannical federal government -- not even close. So for now, we work within the system to save our country.

But that's not the point.

When a career politician has either the gall or the ignorance to insult the fundamental intent of the Constitution -- the Constitution he swore he'd defend -- he insults me.

I call bullshit. What say you?

Friday, August 13, 2010

House rules, House fools

Free speech notwithstanding, two members of the U.S. House of Representatives have me wishing (again) that the Founders had expanded the First Amendment to include a sanity clause.

Rep. Charles Rangel, who's served New York's 15th for 40 years, is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for violating a truckload of rules. Even as a formal hearing looms, Rangel is also running for a 21st term representing his Harlem district.

You'd think that with reelection on the line he'd be trying to downplay the charges against him. Nope -- not Charlie.

Nearly every day now, he steps in front of the cameras to thump his octogenarian chest. Presumably he means to strengthen the case for his innocence -- instead, his narcissistic rants make the strongest possible argument for term limits.

Surely he knows that the last thing that besieged Democrats need, really, is an ethics scandal -- or rather another ethics scandal, since Rep. Maxine Waters (California's 35th, 20 years) likewise is in hot water with the House Ethics Committee -- but Rangel can't resist an opportunity to prance. Embarrassing as it is to the Dems, I shed no tears when either dominant political party takes it in the shorts.

That's entertainment.

Rangel proclaims, "I am not going away," demonstrating more than just personal corruption. He appoints himself the poster boy for the institutional corruption afflicting our politics, regardless of party or ideology.

Charlie Rangel must indeed go away, and he can take the rest of his power-drunk incumbent "colleagues" with him. And that, of course, will be up to The People.

I'm not holding my breath.

Republican Rep. Louis Gohmert of Tyler, Texas is a looney with a different tune. This is the former judge who took to the House floor to praise columnist Thomas Sowell as "a brilliant man" for equating the policies of Pres. Barack Obama with those of Adolf Hitler.

Well, you'll have that sort of nonsense, especially from a card-carrying wingnut like Louie. What really got my attention is something else that Gohmert said on the House floor, apparently in support of changing the Fourteenth Amendment's provision for "birthright citizenship":

"I talked to a retired FBI agent who said that one of the things they were looking at were terrorist cells overseas who had figured out how to game our system. And it appeared they would have young women, who became pregnant, would get them into the United States to have a baby. They wouldn't even have to pay anything for the baby. And then they would turn back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists. And then one day, twenty, thirty years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life. 'Cause they figured out how stupid we are being in this country to allow our enemies to game our system, hurt our economy, get set up in a position to destroy our way of life."
That's right -- according to Gohmert, an unnamed former FBI agent says that unnamed terrorists are executing an evil 30-year plot to raise as-yet-unnamed "terror babies" with U.S. citizenship.

Naturally, Gohmert refuses to identify the mystery G-man or otherwise substantiate what he's presented as fact. Another Texas Republican, Rep. Debbie Riddle, also has adopted Gohmert's message, saying only that "former FBI folk" passed the warning to her congressional office.

The Bureau, for its part, has categorically debunked Gohmert's claims -- publicly and on background, officially and unofficially. Former Assistant Director Tom Fuentes, who oversaw the FBI's overseas operations, has said that "the idea that they would somehow grow terrorist babies from the ground up is ludicrous."

Yes, so-called "birth tourism" is real and growing. There's no disputing that illegal immigration is out of control. Our porous borders are, in truth, a pressing matter of national security. Still, none of that justifies making shit up as if the facts aren't scary enough.

Like the corrupt Rangel, the intellectually bankrupt Gohmert doesn't have the good sense to fall down once he's dead. That's the only possible explanation for his agreeing to be interviewed live on
CNN last night. Let's go straight to the video.

Clearly, Gohmert had been coached to start a-hollerin' whenever Anderson Cooper posed a question. The host by no means engaged in a game of journalistic gotcha -- he simply (and repeatedly) asked his guest to provide evidence. Cooper didn't have to undress the congressman as a fool -- Gohmert willfully stripped off every stitch of credibility early in the interview.

If you don't find his performance shameful, you're not using the brains you were born with -- but don't worry, you're far from alone. The American electorate is dominated by mindless citizens who prefer fear to facts and favor ideology over intellect.

And that's why we'll keep re-electing the likes of Louie and Charlie -- it's the government we deserve.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Rewind: 'Duck and Cover' (1950)

I was introduced to Bert, the very alert turtle, when I was in first grade. For a variety of reasons (not all of them good), this five-minute film is worth remembering.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Liberty's difficulty

Despite the common assertion that we're "a nation of laws," often it seems that we've become a nation of sideshows. Some of these carnival acts do serve a purpose, though, nudging us back toward our true foundation.

Take California's ban on same-sex marriage. On Election Day in 2008, 52% of the state's citizens approved the ban by voting for the infamous Proposition 8. To all but the most myopic among us, it was obvious that the law violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution:

"...nor shall any State...deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Marriage is a religious sacrament. A church which refuses to marry a same-sex couple is within its rights, but the state has no place prohibiting it.

That a majority of California citizens endorsed fear- and faith-based discrimination, by the way, is irrelevant -- we live in a representative republic governed by laws, not in a democracy ruled by ideological convenience. That's why we have judicial review.

Fortunately, yesterday a federal judge struck down the patently unconstitutional ban. His ruling surely will be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which should be hard-pressed to favor California's wispy, laughable arguments over the Law of the Land.

And then there's the noisy dustup over a developer's proposal to site a mosque two blocks from where radical Islamists murdered more than 2,600 people on September 11, 2001. Opponents of the plan call it "inappropriate" and "disrespectful."

(The incurably inarticulate Sarah Palin tweeted, "Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn't it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate!" Noting Palin's use of the made-up word "refudiate," one blogger tweeted back, "If Republicans can demand that immigrants speak English, can't we demand same of Sarah Palin?" It's impossible to overstate what a dolt this woman is.)

Ok, back to intelligent discussion here. The First Amendment to the Constitution begins,

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...."
No, those words don't guarantee the developer's right to build his mosque near Ground Zero. They simply preserve one of our nation's most precious principles.

So when we say that we support constitutional principles, do we mean it or not?

In my opinion, anyone who seeks to block this mosque is flouting the constitutional principle of freedom of religion. The louder the protests, the clearer the message -- these folks show themselves to be nothing more than unprincipled xenophobes, thus confirming to the terrorists that they've gauged their target accurately.

We're better than that. Or we should be, anyway.

We find it easy to pay lip-service to our liberties when defending something we agree with. It can get downright uncomfortable, however, when a black citizen must acknowledge that a KKK chapter has a right to assemble peaceably, or when a Christian citizen realizes that the free exercise of Islam is protected, or when a heterosexual citizen has to defer to the Constitution rather than to his homophobia and allow a gay couple to enjoy the same pursuit of life, liberty and property.

Talk is cheap -- liberty has a price. Either we buy the principles we're selling or we don't.

I do.