Friday, June 29, 2012

Unlimited government (illustrated)

If you've been paying attention to right-leaning media since this time yesterday, you've heard this question: Does the Supreme Court's ruling on "Obamacare" signal the end of America as we know it?

Answer: Of course it doesn't. We already knew that the People are being smothered by an intrusive federal government.

It does, however, in this independent citizen-patriot's opinion, mark the end of our country as it was founded.

See, even if the Supreme Court's decision mobilizes Liberty-loving citizens to deny Pres. Obama a second term, or even to press our elected officials to "repeal and replace" Obamacare -- a dumb idea, swapping one big-government program for another -- it establishes precedent at the highest level of the federal judiciary. With a single ruling, the Court cleared the way for our bloated government to regulate and tax not only what we do, but also what we don't do.

(Somewhere, HRH Michael Bloomberg is toasting his unexpected windfall with expensive champagne.)

The damage is done. There's a deep gash in our founding principles, hemorrhaging Liberty.

July 4th, the day that we celebrate independence, is less than a week away. America is still the best and freest country on Earth and I will, indeed, celebrate that -- but I'll do so on Wednesday with tears in my eyes, knowing that our liberties are, perhaps, mortally wounded.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Unlimited government, affirmed

The Supreme Court today affirmed that the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a "Obamacare," doesn't violate the Constitution -- not because it's permissible under the Commerce Clause to compel citizens to purchase a product or service, but because Congress has the power under the General Welfare Clause to levy taxes.

What was sold to the People as a penalty, not a tax, has been upheld as a tax, not a penalty. It's a distinction without a difference, either way, and now it's settled law.

Chief Justice John Roberts, whose siding with the 5-4 majority confounds me, concluded the Court's opinion with this:
"The Framers created a Federal Government of limited powers, and assigned to this Court the duty of enforcing those limits. The Court does so today. But the Court does not express any opinion on the wisdom of the Affordable Care Act. Under the Constitution, that judgment is reserved to the people."
Limited powers? My ass -- not any more.

This landmark decision fundamentally transforms our nation. It unleashes a government of virtually limitless reach.

It's dark day for the People, a very dark day for Liberty.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cave exploring

The other day I happened upon an essay entitled, "The Gun as a Weapon of Education," written by one Edward Cave and published in a 1918 edition of The Outlook.

The headline was intriguing, certainly, but the subhead hooked me:
"Lessons from the Long Trail that Goes 'Way Around Beyond the Bleak and Barren Mountains of Mere Marksmanship to the Happy Valley of Sportsmanship"
Knowing of the author's connection to Scouting, I scanned the piece for a mention. These lines jumped out at me:
"A couple of years before the Germans turned loose their war, for eight months I disturbed the pious and pacific calm of the National headquarters of the Boy Scouts with the rude idea that Baden-Powell, the British soldier who originated the Boy Scout idea, meant their slogan, 'Be Prepared,' to imply prepared to carry a gun, not a harp."
That, my friends, is absolutely priceless. Cave continued:
"Despite instructions, I drilled my troop of Boy Scouts, and drilled them hard. Since then I have had the satisfaction of vindication on both counts. In addition, I have had the satisfaction of helping a good many thousands of Boy Scouts and plain ordinary boys to learn how to shoot a .22 rifle properly. I joined the National Rifle Association of America and the United States Revolver Association, and recently induced the former to encourage boys to take up target-shooting outdoors with the .22 rifles."
Cave's assertion that he influenced "a good many thousands of Boy Scouts and plain ordinary boys" was no idle boast -- in 1915 he published Boy Scout Marksmanship, a seminal work on the subject and a valuable primer for boys within and beyond the uniformed ranks.

Later in the text, I chuckled at Cave's expressed intent to "square up some old accounts" -- that is, to needle certain types of people that he found particularly annoying. Specifically:
"Folks who are afraid of a gun, but otherwise all right.

"Folks who will not let a big-enough boy have a gun.

"Folks who are fond of roast chicken -- and, if necessary to get it, would chase a pet rooster till red in the face and chop his head off -- yet raise objection to all hunting, and are classified among wild life conservationists as sentimentalists.

"Pacifists -- the worst of the lot."
That passage is another keeper, for sure. Cave closed his engaging essay with this:
"Far away on the horizon you see what at first appears like a fog in some distant valley. It is the smoke pall above some city, and it reminds you, hunter that you are, of the vaporings of the city men you know who can never stand where you do, nor even rise above their droll little chimneys, yet presume to force upon their fellows their narrow conception of a world outlook.

"Poor little wall-warped and roof-stunted boys who were never allowed to have a gun!"
"The Gun as a Weapon of Education" is a fun read -- playful and unapologetic, relevant despite its advanced age. I recommend it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fighting over the kids

Long before the Winchester Junior Rifle Corps was launched in 1918, "schoolboy" rifle-marksmanship programs were conducted by the Boy Scouts, the National Rifle Association, the Public Schools Athletic League of New York City and various other organizations.

Remington, as far as I know, didn't push a club of its own during those years. Its advertising took a different tack as well.

"War Department Offers Rifle Shooting Medals to Boys," from a 1917 issue of the Saturday Evening Post, is an example of Remington's approach. It used the lure of government-sanctioned marksmanship awards, along with the credibility of the Boy Scouts and the NRA, essentially to soft-pedal the brand. An excerpt from the copy:
"Another thing -- you don't have to shoot any special make of rifle and ammunition to compete for these National Medals. You can use any make of .22 caliber rifle and .22 short cartridges.

"We hope, of course, that you will select Remington UMC. Certainly you will, if you ask advice from men who
Two years later the W.J.R.C. was on the scene. Remington adjusted its pitch accordingly.

"News Indeed for the Young Man and his .22" popped up in a 1919 issue of Collier's. The ad's subhead -- "Individual Shooters Recognized by N.R.A. -- No need to join a Club" -- was an appeal to youthful independence and a shot across Winchester's bow. Later, this:
"Now don't hesitate to write us just because your rifle or ammunition is not Remington UMC. You don't even have to tell us what make you do shoot -- now. We'll take a chance that you will come to Remington UMC as your skill develops and you become more critical about your arms and ammunition."
And so the two companies exchanged volleys, vying for young shooters, their skirmish lasting nearly a decade. Which one prevailed?

Remington is still around -- it's the oldest company in the U.S. still making its original product, the oldest continuously operating manufacturer on the continent, the only American company that makes both guns and ammo here in the U.S. and the largest domestic manufacturer of long guns.

Winchester, which always struggled, sadly (or mercifully) is gone.

The W.J.R.C. had a successful nine-year run before it was absorbed by the NRA. Its descendant, the NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program, continues to thrive.

Monday, June 25, 2012

And you thought Scalia was cranky this morning...

[This irresponsible decision by the Department of Homeland Security reflects callous disregard for the People and stunning political arrogance. What are they doing to our country?]

Homeland Security suspends immigration agreements with Arizona police

The Washington Times

The Obama administration said Monday it is suspending existing agreements with Arizona police over enforcement of federal immigration laws, and said it has issued a directive telling federal authorities to decline many of the calls reporting illegal immigrants that the Homeland Security Department may get from Arizona police.

Administration officials, speaking on condition they not be named, told reporters they expect to see an increase in the number of calls they get from Arizona police -- but that won't change President Obama's decision to limit whom the government actually tries to detain and deport.

"We will not be issuing detainers on individuals unless they clearly meet our defined priorities," one official said in a telephone briefing.

The official said that despite the increased number of calls, which presumably means more illegal immigrants being reported, the Homeland Security Department is unlikely to detain a significantly higher number of people and won't be boosting personnel to handle the new calls.

"We do not plan on putting additional staff on the ground in Arizona," the official said.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that Arizona may not impose its own penalties for immigration violations, but it said state and local police could check the legal status of those they have reasonable suspicion to believe are in the country illegally.

That means police statewide can immediately begin calling to check immigration status -- but federal officials are likely to reject most of those calls.

Federal officials said they'll still perform the checks as required by law but will respond only when someone has a felony conviction on his or her record. Absent that, ICE will tell the local police to release the person.

Officials said they had concluded the seven agreements they had signed with various departments in Arizona weren't working and took the Supreme Court's ruling as a chance to scrap them.

[Read the complete article here.]

Righteous dissent

"After [Arizona v. United States] was argued and while it was under consideration, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced a program exempting from immigration enforcement some 1.4 million illegal immigrants under the age of 30."

"The husbanding of scarce enforcement resources can hardly be the justification for this, since the considerable administrative cost of conducting as many as 1.4 million background checks, and ruling on the biennial requests for dispensation that the non-enforcement program envisions, will necessarily be deducted from immigration enforcement. The President said at a news conference that the new program is 'the right thing to do' in light of Congress's failure to pass the Administration's proposed revision of the Immigration Act. Perhaps it is, though Arizona may not think so.

"But to say, as the Court does, that Arizona contradicts federal law by enforcing applications of the Immigration Act that the President declines to enforce boggles the mind."

"...There has come to pass, and is with us today, the specter that Arizona and the States that support it predicted: A Federal Government that does not want to enforce the immigration laws as written, and leaves the States' borders unprotected against immigrants whom those laws would exclude. So the issue is a stark one. Are the sovereign States at the mercy of the Federal Executive's refusal to enforce the Nation's immigration laws?

"A good way of answering that question is to ask: Would the States conceivably have entered into the Union if the Constitution itself contained the Court's holding?"

"Arizona has moved to protect its sovereignty -- not in contradiction of federal law, but in complete compliance with it. The laws under challenge here do not extend or revise federal immigration restrictions, but merely enforce those restrictions more effectively. If securing its territory in this fashion is not within the power of Arizona, we should cease referring to it as a sovereign State."

(U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, dissenting from the Court's majority opinion in the case of Arizona v. United States. Read the Opinion of the Court here; Justice Scalia's scathing 22-page dissent begins on page 30 of the pdf document.)

Lead us not

"Our environment is full of way too many temptations. This is one temptation that isn't really necessary."

(Henrietta Davis, mayor of Cambridge, Massachusetts, one-upping HRH Michael Bloomberg of New York City by proposing to ban not only large-size sugary drinks in the Cambridge area, but also -- brace yourself -- free refills. Oh, c'mon now -- so that's a proper role for government? What the hell is wrong with these people?)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

One for the grownups, one for the kids

My fascination with vintage ads, especially those promoting firearms and outdoors gear, continues. I'm especially drawn to depictions of the Winchester Model 67, of course, like the 1956 ad that I posted on Friday, and to the Winchester Junior Rifle Corps.

First up this morning is "Add a Colt to Your Motoring Equipment," clipped from a 1922 issue of Life magazine.

In the early days of the automobile Americans were learning that their new-found mobility, however rudimentary by today's standards, quickly could transport them "beyond the reach of help." What Colt called "the growing menace of auto bandits and thieves" was a relatively fresh concern for the motoring masses.

The other ad I'll share today, "Don't envy the fellows who own rifles," comes from a 1918 issue of Arms and the Man, forerunner of the National Rifle Association's American Rifleman magazine.

Even though the readership of Arms and the Man was predominantly adult males, clearly Winchester's aspirational pitch also drew a bead on young boys. This line spoke to both audiences:
"Every boy wants to own a rifle, and every boy who has the right stuff in him should have one."
What American boy, after all, doesn't believe that he has "the right stuff"? And what self-respecting father would admit that he's raising a boy who lacks it?

The two-pronged approach is reminiscent, it seems to me, of another Winchester ad that I posted here last year.

Naturally, the ad includes the W.J.R.C. spiel. It's interesting to note that the program was taken over by the NRA in 1926.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Consider the source

One of yesterday's posts, "Nancy fails The Smell Test," included a link to "Nancy & The Big Shovel" as a reminder of who we're dealing with.

To recap, in May 2009 then-Speaker Pelosi was asked what, when, and how she knew about harsh interrogation tactics used on suspected terrorists. Her trademark blather bears repeating here:
"The point is that I wasn't briefed. I was told -- informed that someone else had been briefed about it."

"I wasn't informed. I was informed that a briefing had taken place."

"I was not briefed. I was only informed that they were briefed, but I did not get the briefing."

"I have not been briefed as to what they were briefed on.... I was just briefed that they were informed..."
Yes, that was three years ago -- but if any public figure deserves to have their self-inflicted wounds re-exposed, it's Rep. Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi of California's 8th district, Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives and member of the Democratic Party.

(Ok, Caribou Barbie comes close.)

If we direct our ire only toward Democrats or liberals, right-wingnuts or Republicans, however, we miss the mark by a Heartland mile. The real problem is politically entrenched ideologues of all stripes, elected officials who long ago ceased to obey the will of the People.

That's our fault -- we have the government we deserve.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Nancy fails The Smell Test

"They're going after Eric Holder because he is supporting measures to overturn these voter-suppression initiatives in the states. This is no accident, it is no coincidence. It is a plan on the part of Republicans."

"These very same people who are holding him in contempt are part of a nationwide scheme to suppress the vote. It is connected. It's clear as can be. It's not only to monopolize his time, it's to undermine his name."

"It's really important to note how this is connected with some of their other decisions. It is no accident, it is no coincidence, that the attorney general of the United States is the person responsible for making sure that voter suppression does not happen in our country."

(Rep. Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader, speaking to the media yesterday morning. I know that intellectual honesty and critical thought are endangered, even extinct, but Pelosi's shovelful of unfiltered bullshit is perhaps the most tortured spin I've ever heard.)

'The thrill is still the same -- and boys don't change much, either...'

(That ad, which featured the Model 67 just a few years before  Winchester pulled the plug on its 26-year production run, appeared in the April 1956 issue of Field & Stream magazine.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Quote of the week

"['God Bless the U.S.A.'] is a country song. This is Brooklyn. This is not the country."

(Dina Rosado, president of the PTA for NYC P.S. 90, voicing her disapproval of the school's kindergarten class waving American flags and singing the Lee Greenwood classic near the school on Monday. A week earlier P.S. 90's principal, Gina Hawkins, barred the five-year-olds from performing the piece at their graduation ceremony, judging its lyrics "too adult" and offensive to "some people and cultures.")


This morning Pres. Barack Obama invoked executive privilege, expressing his resolve to withhold documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee -- and thereby from the American People.

The intent of the ATF's gun-running scheme was to manufacture public sentiment in support of unconstitutional gun-grabbing legislation. Once the ploy was discovered and the investigation began, Attorney General Eric Holder and his Department of Justice set about stonewalling and outright lying to the committee -- clearly a cover-up of the operation's built-in corruption.

Today's assertion of executive privilege, which historically has been used to shield the confidentiality of the president himself, changes the game completely. In short, it implies that knowledge of Fast and Furious -- or involvement in the official cover-up -- went well beyond the DOJ, all the way to the White House.

Think about that.

Rep. Darrell Issa, who chairs the House committee, has been relentless in pursuit of the truth about Fast and Furious, and I admire his tenacity. Soon his committee will vote on citing Holder for contempt. There's only one proper outcome of that vote, of course, but the process shouldn't end there.

First, the People need to know what's in the documents now being withheld. More important, every elected official, unelected bureaucrat and political appointee who participated in subverting the Constitution -- and I mean every last one, all the way to the White House -- must be sent packing.

Monday, June 18, 2012

'That old Winchester...'

"If sales figures mean anything, the faster a .22 can shoot and the more rounds its magazine can hold, the more popular it is with American hunters. Just why that's so is kind of puzzling, considering the animals hunted, the ranges involved and types of shots normally offered. Most targets are relatively small; more are taken under 50 yards than over; and the majority are standing or sitting rather than moving.

"Admittedly, when a cottontail dashes hellbent for the nearest cover, a repeating rifle makes it possible to correct an improper lead or make up for poor range estimation and put a quick second or third shot where it counts. At least, that's so theoretically. From my own experience, and from what I have observed in the field, follow-up shots, especially those rapped out in short order, seldom put meat in the pot. My second .22 sporter taught me that many decades ago.

"My first was a Model 67 Winchester, a single-shot bolt action with a 27-inch barrel and open sights. If the first shot missed, the bolt had to be opened (ejecting the spent hull), a new cartridge pushed into the chamber manually, the bolt closed again -- and then the striker knob had to be pulled back to cock the action.

"Slow that action might have been, but memory says the rifle was deadly accurate. Of course, boyhood memories tend to mellow with time, but I remember quite clearly that whenever some serious shooting was in the offing, my buddies preferred to borrow my rifle instead of depending on their own.

"That old Winchester also taught me that if I took a few extra seconds aligning sights and target, there usually wasn't any need for a second shot."

(From Al Miller's "Rimfires" column in the September-October 1994 issue of Rifle magazine)

I'd like to post this at work

(I clipped that image from page 26 of Two Faces of Communism, a comic book published in 1961 by the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade of Houston, Texas; the organization is still around today. In the first frame, dig the Commie foreman with the buggy whip.)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Let's not show this to Glenn Beck, ok?

Now that I have your attention (or Catholics' attention, at least)...

In 1947, as the Cold War dawned, the Catechetical Guild of St. Paul, Minnesota published Is this Tomorrow: America Under Communism! It's a graphic snapshot of the paranoia that marked those years.

The Roman Catholic church in the U.S. was most concerned about religious persecution, of course, but the Catechetical Guild used the comic's plot to weave a tapestry of fear -- racial strife, confiscation of guns, indoctrination in the schools, dictatorial rule and more.

Fundamentally, Is This Tomorrow collected everything that Liberty-loving post-war Americans were afraid of -- rightly so -- and ascribed it all to a bogeyman called "Communism."

If the Catholic guild's extremist strategy sounds familiar, it should.

In our own time, Liberty is under siege. Yes, the threats are real. Our challenge is to think critically about what we face, to separate facts from fears and to act in the best interest of the country we love.

[By the way, Pappy's Golden Age Blogzine has posted scans of all 52 pages of Is This Tomorrow -- click here.]

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A sign for these times

(Adapted from the now-iconic "Keep Calm and Carry On" propaganda poster, produced during World War II by Great Britain's Ministry of Information. For some entertaining background on the poster, click here and here. To create your own parody, click here.)

Pandering (defined)

"If he became convinced tomorrow that coming out for cannibalism would get him the votes he needs so sorely, he would begin fattening a missionary in the White House yard come Wednesday."

(H.L. Mencken of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1936)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Border crossing

This is today's big news -- so far, anyway -- as reported by Reuters:
"The Obama administration will relax enforcement of deportation rules for young people brought to the United States without legal status...."

"U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on Friday that illegal immigrants up to 30 years old who came to the United States as children and do not pose a risk to national security would be eligible to stay in the country and allowed to apply for work permits.

"'Our nation's immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,' Napolitano said in a statement. 'But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case.'"
It's a transparent attempt to pander to Hispanic voters and the open-borders crowd -- no doubt about that.

Despite what we're hearing from the Right, however, the move isn't illegal. It's not unconstitutional nor is it dictatorial. And although it does award de facto immunity to more than a million young illegal immigrants, granting them an official blanket exception to existing work-permit regulations, it's not amnesty per se.

Immigration law hasn't changed -- this is an enforcement decision. It's the federal equivalent of a local police department choosing how to allocate its finite resources, something that happens every day.

It's also shameful disregard for the will of the People.

The new DHS policy is wholly unacceptable to this independent citizen-patriot. It reflects the Obama administration's indisputably poor grasp of both economic issues and national security. Worse, it smuggles the ill-conceived DREAM Act through the back door.

In that sense, the action announced today is extra-constitutional, yet another example of the federal bureaucracy operating beyond the reach of representation.

That isn't in the best interest of our country -- but then, this is about election-year politics, not governing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

'Resist the narcotic paralysis of self-satisfaction'

Each time I re-read the faculty commencement address delivered on June 1st by English teacher David McCullough, Jr. to the Wellesley (Massachusetts) High School class of 2012, the more I realize that sharing it via KintlaLake Blog is the right thing to do.

Here it is, unabridged -- enjoy.

Dr. Wong, Dr. Keough, Mrs. Novogroski, Ms. Curran, members of the board of education, family and friends of the graduates, ladies and gentlemen of the Wellesley High School class of 2012, for the privilege of speaking to you this afternoon, I am honored and grateful. Thank you.

So here we are... commencement... life's great forward-looking ceremony. (And don't say, "What about weddings?" Weddings are one-sided and insufficiently effective. Weddings are bride-centric pageantry. Other than conceding to a list of unreasonable demands, the groom just stands there. No stately, hey-everybody-look-at-me procession. No being given away. No identity-changing pronouncement. And can you imagine a television show dedicated to watching guys try on tuxedos? Their fathers sitting there misty-eyed with joy and disbelief, their brothers lurking in the corner muttering with envy. Left to men, weddings would be, after limits-testing procrastination, spontaneous, almost inadvertent... during halftime... on the way to the refrigerator. And then there's the frequency of failure: statistics tell us half of you will get divorced. A winning percentage like that'll get you last place in the American League East. The Baltimore Orioles do better than weddings.)

But this ceremony... commencement... a commencement works every time. From this day forward... truly... in sickness and in health, through financial fiascos, through midlife crises and passably attractive sales reps at trade shows in Cincinnati, through diminishing tolerance for annoyingness, through every difference, irreconcilable and otherwise, you will stay forever graduated from high school, you and your diploma as one, 'til death do you part.

No, commencement is life's great ceremonial beginning, with its own attendant and highly appropriate symbolism. Fitting, for example, for this auspicious rite of passage, is where we find ourselves this afternoon, the venue. Normally, I avoid clichés like the plague, wouldn't touch them with a ten-foot pole, but here we are on a literal level playing field. That matters. That says something. And your ceremonial costume... shapeless, uniform, one-size-fits-all. Whether male or female, tall or short, scholar or slacker, spray-tanned prom queen or intergalactic X-Box assassin, each of you is dressed, you'll notice, exactly the same. And your diploma... but for your name, exactly the same.

All of this is as it should be, because none of you is special.

You are not special. You are not exceptional.

Contrary to what your u9 soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you... you're nothing special.

Yes, you've been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped. Yes, capable adults with other things to do have held you, kissed you, fed you, wiped your mouth, wiped your bottom, trained you, taught you, tutored you, coached you, listened to you, counseled you, encouraged you, consoled you and encouraged you again. You've been nudged, cajoled, wheedled and implored. You've been feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie. Yes, you have. And, certainly, we've been to your games, your plays, your recitals, your science fairs. Absolutely, smiles ignite when you walk into a room, and hundreds gasp with delight at your every tweet. Why, maybe you've even had your picture in the Townsman! And now you've conquered high school... and, indisputably, here we all have gathered for you, the pride and joy of this fine community, the first to emerge from that magnificent new building...

But do not get the idea you're anything special. Because you're not.

The empirical evidence is everywhere, numbers even an English teacher can't ignore. Newton, Natick, Nee... I am allowed to say Needham, yes? ... that has to be two thousand high school graduates right there, give or take, and that's just the neighborhood Ns. Across the country no fewer than 3.2 million seniors are graduating about now from more than 37,000 high schools. That's 37,000 valedictorians... 37,000 class presidents... 92,000 harmonizing altos... 340,000 swaggering jocks... 2,185,967 pairs of Uggs. But why limit ourselves to high school? After all, you're leaving it. So think about this: even if you're one in a million, on a planet of 6.8 billion that means there are nearly 7,000 people just like you. Imagine standing somewhere over there on Washington Street on Marathon Monday and watching sixty-eight hundred yous go running by. And consider for a moment the bigger picture: your planet, I'll remind you, is not the center of its solar system, your solar system is not the center of its galaxy, your galaxy is not the center of the universe. In fact, astrophysicists assure us the universe has no center; therefore, you cannot be it. Neither can Donald Trump... which someone should tell him... although that hair is quite a phenomenon.

"But, Dave," you cry, "Walt Whitman tells me I'm my own version of perfection! Epictetus tells me I have the spark of Zeus!" And I don't disagree. So that makes 6.8 billion examples of perfection, 6.8 billion sparks of Zeus. You see, if everyone is special, then no one is. If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless. In our unspoken but not so subtle Darwinian competition with one another–which springs, I think, from our fear of our own insignificance, a subset of our dread of mortality -- we have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement. We have come to see them as the point -- and we're happy to compromise standards, or ignore reality, if we suspect that's the quickest way, or only way, to have something to put on the mantelpiece, something to pose with, crow about, something with which to leverage ourselves into a better spot on the social totem pole. No longer is it how you play the game, no longer is it even whether you win or lose, or learn or grow, or enjoy yourself doing it... Now it's "So what does this get me?" As a consequence, we cheapen worthy endeavors, and building a Guatemalan medical clinic becomes more about the application to Bowdoin than the well-being of Guatemalans. It's an epidemic -- and in its way, not even dear old Wellesley High is immune... one of the best of the 37,000 nationwide, Wellesley High School... where good is no longer good enough, where a B is the new C, and the midlevel curriculum is called Advanced College Placement. And I hope you caught me when I said "one of the best." I said "one of the best" so we can feel better about ourselves, so we can bask in a little easy distinction, however vague and unverifiable, and count ourselves among the elite, whoever they might be, and enjoy a perceived leg up on the perceived competition. But the phrase defies logic. By definition there can be only one best. You're it or you're not.

If you've learned anything in your years here I hope it's that education should be for, rather than material advantage, the exhilaration of learning. You've learned, too, I hope, as Sophocles assured us, that wisdom is the chief element of happiness. (Second is ice cream... just an fyi) I also hope you've learned enough to recognize how little you know... how little you know now... at the moment... for today is just the beginning. It's where you go from here that matters.

As you commence, then, and before you scatter to the winds, I urge you to do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its importance. Don't bother with work you don't believe in any more than you would a spouse you're not crazy about, lest you too find yourself on the wrong side of a Baltimore Orioles comparison. Resist the easy comforts of complacency, the specious glitter of materialism, the narcotic paralysis of self-satisfaction. Be worthy of your advantages. And read... read all the time... read as a matter of principle, as a matter of self-respect. Read as a nourishing staple of life. Develop and protect a moral sensibility and demonstrate the character to apply it. Dream big. Work hard. Think for yourself. Love everything you love, everyone you love, with all your might. And do so, please, with a sense of urgency, for every tick of the clock subtracts from fewer and fewer; and as surely as there are commencements there are cessations, and you'll be in no condition to enjoy the ceremony attendant to that eventuality no matter how delightful the afternoon.

The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life, is an achievement, not something that will fall into your lap because you're a nice person or mommy ordered it from the caterer. You'll note the founding fathers took pains to secure your inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness -- quite an active verb, "pursuit" -- which leaves, I should think, little time for lying around watching parrots rollerskate on YouTube. The first President Roosevelt, the old rough rider, advocated the strenuous life. Mr. Thoreau wanted to drive life into a corner, to live deep and suck out all the marrow. The poet Mary Oliver tells us to row, row into the swirl and roil. Locally, someone... I forget who... from time to time encourages young scholars to carpe the heck out of the diem. The point is the same: get busy, have at it. Don't wait for inspiration or passion to find you. Get up, get out, explore, find it yourself, and grab hold with both hands. (Now, before you dash off and get your YOLO tattoo, let me point out the illogic of that trendy little expression -- because you can and should live not merely once, but every day of your life. Rather than You Only Live Once, it should be You Live Only Once... but because YLOO doesn't have the same ring, we shrug and decide it doesn't matter.)

None of this day-seizing, though, this YLOOing, should be interpreted as license for self-indulgence. Like accolades ought to be, the fulfilled life is a consequence, a gratifying byproduct. It's what happens when you're thinking about more important things. Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you. Go to Paris to be in Paris, not to cross it off your list and congratulate yourself for being worldly. Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion–and those who will follow them. And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you're not special.

Because everyone is.

Congratulations. Good luck. Make for yourselves, please, for your sake and for ours, extraordinary lives.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

And this is how it happens

HRH Michael Bloomberg's proposal to ban large servings of sugary drinks was presented to New York City's Board of Health today. These political appointees voted unanimously to allow the proposal to proceed to a public hearing on July 24.

By itself that's not worth reporting -- not here, anyway. No, what's truly stupefying is how excited Board members were about HRH Bloomberg's idea.

A handful of examples:
"'Why stop here?'" (Health Commissioner Thomas Farley)

"This does not solve all problems, and there's plenty more issues to take up." (Board member Pamela Brier)

"We're really looking at restricting portion size, so the argument could be...what about the size of a hamburger or jumbo fries?" (Board member Dr. Michael Phillips)

"There are certainly milkshakes and milk coffee beverages that have monstrous amounts of calories in them, and I’m not so sure what the rationale is not to include those." (Board member Dr. Joel Forman)

"I was thinking about the typical movie theater with a 32-ounce drink and 32 ounces of popcorn -- the popcorn isn't a whole lot better from a nutritional point of view than the soda." (Board member Dr. Bruce Vladeck)
We could've predicted this -- unelected bureaucrats, people who haven't met a regulation they didn't love, greasing the slippery slope.

See where we're headed?

Nanny says: 'Watch your language!'

MIDDLEBOROUGH, Mass. (Associated Press) -- Residents in Middleborough voted Monday night to make the foul-mouthed pay fines for swearing in public.

At a town meeting, residents voted 183-50 to approve a proposal from the police chief to impose a $20 fine on public profanity.

Officials insist the proposal was not intended to censor casual or private conversations, but instead to crack down on loud, profanity-laden language used by teens and other young people in the downtown area and public parks.

The measure could raise questions about First Amendment rights, but state law does allow towns to enforce local laws that give police the power to arrest anyone who "addresses another person with profane or obscene language" in a public place.

Matthew Segal, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the government cannot prohibit public speech just because it contains profanity.

[When I shared that news with Mrs. KintlaLake early this morning, she had a two-word response -- a present participle followed by a plural noun. In Middleborough it could've cost her twenty bucks, maybe forty. (I love that woman.) Read the complete AP story here.]

Monday, June 11, 2012

Just 'cause it sounds stupid...

If the name "Charles L. Worley" doesn't ring a bell, maybe you've seen his work, a portion of which went viral on YouTube recently. Worley is pastor of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, North Carolina, and on May 13th this is what he preached to his mindless flock:
"I figured a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers. Build a great big large fence -- 50 or 100 mile long -- put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can't get out. And you know what, in a few years, they'll die out. Do you know why? They can't reproduce!"
To be sure, that kind of garbage spews from Christian pulpits each and every Sunday all across this country. It's not only bigoted and antithetical to Liberty, in Worley's case it's downright idiotic.
"...In a few years, they'll die out. Do you know why? They can't reproduce!"
Think about it. Worley sure didn't.

Problem is, stupid shit often sticks. Worley's hateful words, while they probably won't result in internment camps for gays, have a large and enthusiastic audience. They will have an effect -- count on that.

I mean, why do you think New York City is the way it is?

Now here's another name for you: "John R. Thompson" -- restaurant baron (whites only, please) and leader of a 1920s crusade to ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns.

In 1921, Thompson took out ads in newspapers nationwide -- one of which got the attention of Horace Kephart -- issuing this challenge:
"I will pay $1,000 to anyone who will give one good reason why the revolver manufacturing industry should be allowed to exist in America and enjoy the facilities of the mails."
His rationale?
"The revolver always has been and still is a menace to any community. It merely is a weapon for the thug, the holdup man and the murderer. It is impossible to turn to any useful purpose, as one uses the rifle or shotgun. Where would our holdup man, doing such a thriving business in Chicago today, be, if he could not get hold of a revolver? He couldn't very well go round packing a shotgun or a rifle, and if he carried only a piece of lead pipe or club the victim would at least have a fighting chance."
Obviously -- to me, anyway, and probably to you -- Thompson's theory of "disarmament" is arrogant and completely unhitched from reality. It's strikingly similar to Worley's gay-camps-with-electric-fences proposal in its utter silliness.

We shouldn't dismiss Thompson, though, merely because his campaign is long-dead and his ideas were inarguably dumb -- exactly the same pitch is being hurled by today's gun-control crowd.

Stupidity is always a threat to Liberty and, thanks to citizens who don't take time to think, it never goes out of style.

[Thompson ad from the June 9, 1921 Concordia Sentinel (Louisiana).]

Sunday, June 10, 2012

More on 'Sullivan Law'

New York's insidious Sullivan Law, enacted in 1911 and discussed in yesterday's post, is still on the books. It was introduced and debated [sic] virtually unnoticed by the citizenry, thanks to a corrupt sponsor and sleepy legislators easily duped by "common good" rhetoric.

Once passed, the Sullivan Act had an immediate and obvious effect on law-abiding New Yorkers. Worse, it triggered a wave of similar bills in state legislatures nationwide.

Protests against such repressive and patently unconstitutional laws were mustered, for the most part, too late to stem legislative tide. The August 1912 issue of Field and Stream, for example, led its editorial page with "National Disarmament." A few excerpts:
"The so-called 'anti-pistol laws,' all of them modeled more or less upon the notorious Sullivan Law passed in New York State in 1911, have become a veritable epidemic, disarmament bills having been presented in forty-seven states, culminating in the drastic Simms bill introduced at Washington prohibiting the sale or use of firearms for any purpose or under any conditions whatever.

"It is high time that the sportsmen's magazines, revolver, rifle and shotgun clubs, and all to whom either the grooved-bore or the smooth-bore is a means of sport and recreation, got together in a campaign which would show the nation the real sentiment of the people with regard to these disarmament measures, and make it unsafe, politically, for any demagogue or cheap politician with a black-mailing scheme up his sleeve to introduce such bills into our State and national legislatures."

"The actual result of the Sullivan Law so far has been an unprecedented wave of crime in the big cities; bank messengers were robbed in automobiles with impunity as the burglars knew they were not armed; the number of murders have increased over the preceding year and at the same time respectable citizens, no matter whether citizens of New York State or not, were unable even so much as to transport a revolver across New York City without becoming a felon and liable to fine and imprisonment."
Perhaps it shouldn't surprise us that an outdoor-recreation magazine would criticize Sullivan Law, but Field and Stream wasn't alone in objecting. In its May 24, 1913 edition, The New York Times ran "A Change in the Pistol Law." From the Times editorial:
"That the concealed weapon law has not worked as well as was expected, or at any rate hoped, by those of us who commended it in principle, if not in all its details, is a fact too obvious for denial.

"Criminals are as well armed as ever, in spite of the sternness with which the law has been applied to a few of them, while there has been a rather general impression among honest men, mistaken but none the less real, that they were wrongly deprived, if not of the means, at least of the right to have the means, for defending themselves and their property. And if the dealers in firearms are keeping the required record of their sales -- which seems doubtful -- we are not hearing of the promised good effects, and perhaps the worst consequence of the law is that many good citizens, as well as all bad ones, have defied or ignored it without suffering much from their consciences."

"...The rightness of having or carrying a pistol is not at all a matter of money, but wholly one of character and avowable need. Something very much like a natural instinct tells the honest householder that to make him ask anybody's permission to have a revolver in his bureau drawer, or even under his pillow, is a hardship, tinged with absurdity."
Both of those editorials were right on the facts and righteous in their intent, and yet Sullivan Law remains in force today. What's more, literally thousands of similar measures (and worse) have been enacted over the last century -- at the federal, state and local levels. Why?

We, like Americans a hundred years ago, don't understand what it means to be vigilant. We continue to elect our representatives based on affinity and identity, pandering and promises of pork, instead of demanding unequivocal defense of constitutional principles.

And when we do earn a victory, we spike the ball -- meanwhile, the enemies of Liberty draw up new plays to exploit our overconfidence.

The threats to our Second Amendment right never vanish, never diminish. Considering what's at stake, we can't relax, ever. Just ask a New Yorker what the price is for failing to be vigilant: Sullivan Law, 100 years and counting.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Pew: More Americans are 'Independents'

[From the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press -- read more here. For a pdf version of Pew's complete report, Trends in American Values: 1987-2012, click here.]

Reading Room: 'Why Not Have A Pro-Gun Law?'

Guns magazine, which I've brought into KintlaLake Blog many times, produced its first issue in 1955. I find its evolution interesting, in part because it's been around almost exactly as long as I have.

Guns was marking its second year (and I my second month) when it published "Why Not Have a PRO-Gun Law?" by William B. Edwards. This is how the piece was previewed in the editors' up-front column:
"'Why Not Have A Pro-Gun Law,' is possibly the longest article we have ever published. It may well be also the most important article we have ever published. The 'call to arms' which ends the story, urging all firearms enthusiasts to write to the Director of the [BATFE], to protest new revised federal regulations in the gun law field is a little like Paul Revere's 'one if by land, two if by sea.' Only now it isn't the 'British are coming,' it is the bureaucrats."
Nothing about that dates it to 55 years ago. Like other articles I've shared here -- notably Horace Kephart's "Arms for Defense of Honest Citizens" and "The Right to Bear Arms" three decades earlier -- it reminds us that today's Liberty-loving Americans aren't the first to battle those who seek to dismantle our constitutional rights.

Here's how "Why Not Have a PRO-Gun Law?" begins:
"The anti-gun lawmakers are having a brisk season for 1957. With the practical nature of Andrew Volsteads and the subtlety of Carrie Nations they have attacked the root of all evil and the ills of mankind by the simple expedient of trying to take away all guns. Recently proposed Treasury regulations came close to this ideal; they could have destroyed the firearms industry and the shooting sport. Under the guise of protecting the people, these makers of rules who push anti-gun bills such as these are forging weapons, not into ploughshares, but into an iron collar of restraint, worthy of a fascist state. Year by year more anti-gun laws are proposed. Meanwhile, pro-gun collectors and shooters are mollified by the excuse 'these laws are thought up by well-meaning, innocent do-gooders.' Certainly a few anti-gun advocates may seem to be well-intentioned, but let's look at 'well meaning' legislators in the forefront of anti-gun legislation.

"Take a good look at genial, charming, personable 'Big Tim' Sullivan, who disarmed the citizens of crime-ridden New York in 1911 with the grandaddy of anti-gun laws, then went mad the following year and was confined. Says the biographical dictionary, 'Vice and crime were carefully organized in his territory and paid graft to his machine, as did many lines of legitimate business, including push-cart peddlers.... When charged with grafting, or partnership with crime and vice, he could rise in the [New York state] Assembly or on a campaign rostrum and, by telling the story of his tenement boyhood and the sacrifices of his mother, reduce even hardened political opponents to tears...."

"Big Tim was of the cloth of Adolph Hitler and the spellbinders of the ages. Election fights which stimulated the public pulse in those days hampered Big Tim's grasp on politics. So he pushed through a law requiring everyone in New York state to get a police permit to buy or possess a pistol or revolver. Sullivan knew he could control the police. This meant that when Sullivan's boys went on their ballot-box stuffing sprees, they could be reasonably sure of having no opposition. Big Tim was not a 'well-meaning legislator' in his pistol law ideas. The Sullivan law weakened the opposition, sweetened the Tammany kitty. Anti-gun bills are a popular stepping stone to political fame, and many in the anti-gun ranks share Big Tim's motives."
Notice that by the second paragraph the Guns article brings up New York State Senator Timothy "Big Tim" Sullivan and the Sullivan Act. There's a reason for that -- author Edwards knew that becoming familiar with the Sullivan Act was essential to readers' understanding of the insidious nature of gun control.

And it still is. A century after being enacted, Sullivan Law remains in force, oppressing citizens of (and visitors to) New York. As Michael A. Walsh wrote in the New York Post earlier this year:
"...Savor the irony of an edict written by a corrupt politician to save his bad guys from the electric chair’s now being used against law-abiding citizens from other states."
If we're to preserve our Second Amendment right, we must get acquainted with the history of threats against it. When we invoke the truism, "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns," we should be able to cite Big Tim Sullivan -- a crime boss who manipulated soft-headed fellow legislators into disarming law-abiding citizens, thus ensuring that his street gangs would have the upper hand.

"Why Not Have a PRO-Gun Law?" would be a good place to start our history lessons. For a pdf version of the September 1957 issue of Guns magazine, click here. The lengthy article begins on page 22.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

'.22's for Survival?'

While casting about the 'Web over the last 20 years, I've noticed that finding what I'm looking for doesn't stop me -- often it only spurs me to search for something else. That's what happened last week, when I unearthed that January-February 2009 issue of Rifle magazine.

Thus encouraged, I began stalking an even older rag that's eluded me.

I posted "Back fifty-two to 'Fifty-nine" about 18 months ago, talking about the preparedness mindset and providing links to pdf versions of two issues of Guns magazine from 1959.

I also linked to a fascinating article from a 1958 issue of Guns. At the time I couldn't offer a pdf of the piece.

Now I can -- click here to download the August 1958 issue of Guns magazine. The article ".22's for Survival?" begins on pages 34 and 35, continuing on page 58. Even though 54 years have passed since its publication, I believe it's as useful now as it was provocative then.

Monday, June 4, 2012

This is what we're up against

I hate to keep kicking this steaming pile, really I do, but the news is teeming with rancid rhetoric worth passing along.

Now, if we can agree once again that it's Liberty (not the Big Gulp) that's under attack, we can go straight to the idiocy of Michael Tomasky of The Daily Beast. Here's what he said on Saturday:
"There's only one way to say something like this, and it's loud and proud and without apology: I wholeheartedly support Mike Bloomberg's war on sugar. It's unassailable as policy. Refined sugar is without question the worst foodstuff in the world for human health, and high-fructose corn syrup is little better. We are a fat country getting fatter and fatter, and these mountains of refined sugar that people ingest are a big part of the reason. The costs to the health-care system are enormous, so the public interest here is ridiculously obvious. Obesity is a killer. Are we to do nothing, in the name of the 'liberty' that entitles millions of people to kill themselves however they please, whatever their diabetes treatments costs their insurers?

"We have this 'liberty' business completely backward in this country, and if Bloomberg can start rebalancing individual freedom and the public good, God bless him, I say."

"It's a policy designed to guide people toward a certain kind of behavior. This talk of 'freedom' is absurd."
That, my friends, is nothing short of breathtaking contempt for personal responsibility. Tomasky makes it clear that he's afraid to meet life's opportunities and risks on his own, preferring to be swaddled in a blanket of government regulations.

His bald presumption that "we have this 'liberty' business completely backward in this country" is so false as to be laughable -- truth is, as a nation we're moving away from Liberty. His wish that government engage in "rebalancing individual freedom and the public good" ignores the fact that our individual liberties aren't merely eroding -- they're on the verge of collapse.

In other words, Tomasky and his anti-libertarian cronies rest their case on irresponsibility and lies.

This is the same ideology that routinely disarms law-abiding citizens, infringes constitutional rights and outsources personal defense to government authorities. It stifles excellence by promoting equal outcome and calling it "equal opportunity."

It "confuses the distinction between government and society," holding that each of us is entitled to government-approved and taxpayer-funded nourishment, housing, education, employment, healthcare and financial security, from cradle to grave.

Michael Tomasky, following his idol HRH Michael Bloomberg, carries the standard for those who would see this great country, which owes its very existence to courageous Founders who stood for Liberty, once and for all destroyed.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

In the interest of clarity

in·fringe verb \in-ˈfrinj\

transitive verb
1 : to encroach upon in a way that violates law or the rights of another

Origin : Medieval Latin infringere, from Latin, to break, crush, from in- + frangere to break (first known use 1513)

From today's edition of The New York Times

The Center for Consumer Freedom is running this full-page ad in today's edition of The New York Times, challenging HRH Michael Bloomberg's proposed large-soda ban.

I ask again: Is it possible that this is what it takes to finally push New Yorkers over the edge? For cryin' out loud, People -- get 'hold of yourselves, pull together and get rid of this assclown!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Nanny (defined)

For a moment, try to ignore that the specific target of HRH Michael Bloomberg's latest nannying is large servings of "sugary drinks." Instead, think of it as manifest ignorance of Liberty in general -- because that's what it is.

With that in mind, check out what HRH Bloomberg said to MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on Thursday:
"We've got to do something [about 'obesity']. Everybody is wringing their hands saying we've got to do something. Well, here is a concrete thing.

"You can still buy large bottles in stores. But in a restaurant, 16 ounces is the maximum that they would be able to serve in one cup. If you want to order two cups at the same time, that's fine. It's your choice.

"We're not taking away anybody's right to do things. We're simply forcing you to understand that you have to make the conscious decision to go from one cup to another cup."

"It's not perfect. It's not the only answer. It's not the only cause of people being overweight -- but we've got to do something. We have an obligation to warn you when things are not good for your health."

"I would just like to force the consumer to hopefully move over to the less fattening drinks and everybody will be better off."
That's one of the most un-American, anti-libertarian rants I've heard in a very long time. As I said of HRH Bloomberg in November of 2010:
"New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg arrogant son of a bitch who treats the U.S. Constitution like a menu, and for whom patriotism is little more than a hat he wears only for certain public appearances."
Again, it's not about soda pop -- or, for that matter, about trans-fats or firearms or smoking. It's about Liberty.

If you ever forget that, just remember what HRH Bloomberg said:
"We're not taking away anybody's right to do things. We're simply forcing you to understand...."
Get it?