Monday, July 25, 2005

 

Cause And Effect

AnarchAngel, a frequent contributor to the Carnival of Cordite, decided to do a post where him and some buddies blow up a Koran. Now he's got a fatwah issued against him by a "known terror group". How'd he find out? The FBI called him. That's gotta be an eye-opener. This is not funny, of course, but certainly qualifies as highly bizarre, and unique in the blog community as far as I know.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

 

V for Vendetta

Oh, let me list the reasons I will see this movie:

1) Natalie Portman, even if she does end up with a shaved head
2) Hugo Weaving
3) The Wachowski brothers
4) Well, um, I'll let the tagline speak for itself:



Any movie that openly advocates rebellion against one's government deserves my $7.50.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

 

Liberating The Iraqis?

Not quite, at least not if their proposed new Bill of Rights is any indication. Freedom of speech? Only as long as "public security and morals are not harmed". Weapons may be purchased or possessed only by permit. Militias are illegal.Iraqis have the right to free health care. Seems a wee bit socialist, eh? Eminent domain is written right in. Virtually every clause that pretends to ensure the rights of the people ends in "except as by law", meaning that they can be revoked by a stroke of the legislature's pen.

If the US was formed under a similar Constitution, we'd be a far worse nation today.

 

Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

After hearing word that London police stopped a bombing by dumping five rounds into someone, a part of me wanted to say, "nice job!". But I should know better than to trust that little voice, especially when it agrees with John Gibson. It turns out that the guy wasn't carrying a bomb. Nor was he related to either of the previous bombing attempts/attacks; he simply lived at an address found on the body of a previous bomber. But that address simply referred to a group of apartments (oops, sorry - "flats" in Brit-speak).

At least he was from "south Asia" and coulda been one of those Muslims, right? Um, no, he was from Brazil. I imagine Chief Wiggum saying, "That's a dang fine use of racial profiling, Lou." I have no idea what the temperature was like in London on Thursday or what constitutes a "bulky, padded jacket", but the typical summer temperatures in his hometown might explain why he was wearing atypical clothing.

Yea, I know there's all sorts of justification for what the cops did, and I know there's the standard "don't run from the police and you won't get shot" line. But, uh, that forms some nasty circular logic in the minds of many, since if contact with the police means five in the head, then certain people may wish to put a bit of distance between themselves and the the police.

I've still got a bit of bleeding-heart in me, and I hope that I don't ever lose it.

UPDATE: I just read that the cops were plain-clothes officiers. Gee, five guns in streetclothes draw guns and start chasing after me - what am I going to do? Probably not wait around and see what their intentions are.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

 

Retraction Of The Retraction

Last week, I posted that the ATF was going to ban the importation of certain barrels for military-style weapons. Then I posted that they weren't. Now I'm posting that they're not only going to ban the importation of barrels, but also of "frames [and] receivers". This comes straight from the ATF, not some discussion-board rumor.

The relevant law is 925(d)(3), which states "it shall be unlawful to import any frame, receiver, or barrel of such firearm which would be prohibited if assembled". It's those last few words that are interesting, as there's many firearms which can legally be assembled from imported parts as long as no more than 10 imported parts (from a list of 20 parts deemed to be "significant") are used.

Anyways, I believe we have Gonzales to thank for this one. I apparently didn't give Ashcroft's pro-2nd efforts enough credit.

This is why I enjoy casting third-party votes so much.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

 

BusinessWeek Thinks That China/Unocal Deal Is OK

That is, if it's a money-maker for the US that'll pave the way for other deals with "cash-rich China" (their words, not mine). Read the article here (hit BugMeNot first) and see if you agree with my assessment.

You gotta giggle at some of the lip service they pay to the regulatory process. This passage really caught my eye:

First would be to make sure the Chinese government, which controls CNOOC parent China National Offshore Oil Corp. and the banks financing its Unocal bid, cannot unfairly subsidize CNOOC's future energy exploration or pricing efforts to the detriment of American competitors or provide it with below market-rate financing that is unavailable to U.S. companies.

OK, the Chinese government won't be able to subsidize exploration efforts? Sure, right. They're a Communist country! I'd like to see CFIUS do something about that.

Anyways, I do agree with BW that this won't be the last deal of this type, so set some rules now and live by them. Hopefully those rules manage to strike a balance between strategic security and short-term profit, instead of giving away our resources for the sake of a multi-billion-dollar hand-out to stockholders.

 

Lawn And Garden Tips...

...courtesy of The Onion. A few:


 

My New Least-Favorite Website

Here. That just about makes me want to sell a vehicle and buy a Barrett.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

 

Dammit

After surviving the chip-seal (tar, followed by coarse gravel) treatment being applied along my favorite bike route, I broke a spoke on my Zipp wheelset (this pic shows a wheel very similar to mine). A bit of roadside wheel truing resulted in some stripped aluminum nipples (sounds more painful than it actually is), but at least I was able to finish up the ride.

But now I'm faced with the prospect of finding a single titanium bladed spoke in an odd length. I might just end up replacing all of the spokes, since I'm not real confident in the rest of them (especially considering titanium's well-reknowned fatigue properties, which means a well-build part should last the lifetime of the wheel and then some). Wonderful.

 

Is A New Strategy Needed For The War On Terror?

I caught Ollie North on Hannity's radio show this afternoon, as he was considered to be the expert on Al Qaeda. He claimed that the cell who perpetrated the attacks (calling themselves "Al Qaeda Europe") was an indepedent group with no real contact to the greater Al Qaeda group. If indeed that is the case - and it certainly seems plausible - then how does this impact the WoT?

Certainly, if we're dealing with splinter cells that are setting their own goals and planning attacks without outside support, then indeed this whole thing does start looking like a local law-enforcement problem and not a international military problem, which is a statement that would have seemed foolish after the Sept. 11th attacks (and even the 3/11 Madrid attacks were immediately attributed to international terrorism). Certainly it's a statement that someone like Bill Quick (who I respect) would disagree with.

But I have to ask - if this is a search-and-destroy military mission, where does one start? Flattening a terrorist-sponsoring country in the Middle East isn't going to help - North said there's little/no connection, remember? Leveling London or Seattle or Detroit probably isn't the solution that anyone's looking for. So where does that leave things? Send in SEAL and Delta Force teams into Muslim neighborhoods? JDAM attacks on suspected terrorist strongholds/suburbs?

I don't think that's going to work, nor do I think that traditional law enforcement activities hold the solution. Obviously, since they didn't do much good in London despite the fact it's one of the most-surveiled (1 camera for every 14 residents) and thoroughly-disarmed cities in the world. How about civilian defense squads? I'm all about that idea, but it's kinda hard to understand how a civvie armed with a concealed pistol will be of much use against someone wearing a suicide bomb belt. What about "tough new laws"? Well, England already has a law allowing the government to confine suspected terrorists for up to 12 months without pressing charges, if the Home Secretary feels that they are more likely than not to be involved with terrorist activities. That's a pretty low standard, and yet didn't do anything to stop today's tragedy.

Former Sec. of State Lawrence Eagleburger is on Fox News right now and seems to be suggesting attacks against Syria and Iran. Gibson jumped into to add Saudi Arabia to the list, and then asked "what if these bombers were home-grown?" Eagleburger simply didn't have any suggestions to deal with that scenario, and then jumped right back on the concept of sticking it to Syria. That type of thinking isn't likely to help in this case, given the (extremely sparse) facts so far.

 

Random Comments On This Morning's News

1) So much for the idea that Al Qaeda is done. A sophisticated attack on London means that they remain an extremely strong threat. And if it's not AQ, then maybe that's even worse news.
2) Seeing that double-decker bus ripped apart was heart-breaking. That's just one of those symbols that never should be anything but amusing and joyful.

3) Powerline carries a great Churchill quote. But then John makes this ridiculous comment: "I suspect that at the moment there is not much fear and terror." That's kinda stupid, coming from someone who's safely nestled in a Minneapolis law office. Not nearly as stupid as John "Big Story (And Even Bigger Hair)" Gibson's commentary from yesterday (betcha he wishes he could take that one back - or maybe it doesn't even register with him).

4) Tony Blair did a magnificent job giving his statement this morning (the solo one he did off-the-cuff - although he also gave a good prepared statement with the other G8 leaders in the background). London's mayor (don't know his name) also performed extremely well and spoke very powerfully - shades of Giuliani, perhaps?

5) It took about 6 comments on a dKos thread before someone asked about "how Bush will spin this". That's, um, not quite helpful. It took 9 comments on a LGF thread before someone stated "no Islam no Terror". (the poster prior to him attempted the same quote but incorrectly used "Arabs", and is therefore disqualified on technical grounds). That's also not so helpful. And then I saw the comment "$10 says it wasn't an Iraqi" on the CamaroZ28.com board, which isn't at all helpful but is at least funny (in a really dark way).

6) The Aruba missing-teen story still gets above-the-fold coverage at CNN.com (as of 11:51 EDT). Wankers.

7) The TV coverage on Fox News was quite good - probably the result of their connection to Fox News. And it took until nearly noon until they started talking about how this might affect European involvement in Iraq.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

 

Snark, Part II

So, Alberto Gonzales was Public Enemy #1 for liberals only a few months ago, and The Right Man For The Job according to conservatives. Now we're hearing that he'd likely be confirmed with ease by liberal senators as a Supreme Court justice, and conservatives are the ones getting their underwear in a bunch.

While I understand that the job description of an Attorney General is significantly different than that of a SC justice, this is just one more example of how no one's interested in selecting a person for a position based on their character and morals. The Republicans loved Gonzales because he was perceived to be tough on terror; Democrats are happy (OK, maybe that's too strong of a word) about him because he might lean pro-choice. This sort of single-dimensional thinking is terribly destructive to a republic.

UPDATE: Don't let it be said that Bill Quick isn't principled when it comes to Mr. Gonzales. Whew - nice to see some consistancy.

 

A Retraction Of Sorts

So maybe the ATF barrel import ban isn't real after all. Those who supposedly received verbal confirmation of the ban from the ATF were either lying, exaggerating, or were talking to a clueless agent (even odds on all three scenarios). Or it's a forthcoming thing that hasn't officially cleared the rulesmaking process yet.

 

Snark

Can someone explain to me why we're flying F-16 jets over Aruba to look for a missing teenager? Yea, the talking head on the news is saying that they're equipped with IR cameras, but I'm wondering if anyone actually thinks this is going to do any good.

Missing teenagers and shark attacks dominate the news, gathering more attention than the situation in Afghanistan and the prospect of a new SC justice. Man, it's like the summer of '01 all over again.

Monday, July 04, 2005

 

Not What I Wanted To Read On The 4th

It's often been said that President Bush has not yet done anything to infridge upon the 2nd Amendment, despite his support of the "assault weapon" ban. Well, that may have been true - until now. The ATF is now denying Form 6 importation of barrels for weapons that either do not meet the interpretation of "sporting purpose" or those weapons that were specifically mentioned by name in the 1989 import ban. This presumably will also apply to receivers (goodbye, inexpensive Imbels).

For those of us that are fans of military-style semi-automatic rifles, this means that the import of AK-47 and FAL-style parts kits (as well as whatever other obscure retired weapons still lurk out there) is pretty much stopped. Yes, domestically-sourced barrels are available, at least for FAL-style rifles. But that'll shoot the price of a build through the roof, as if it wasn't already bad enough to throw away a bunch of perfectly-good mil-spec parts to comply with the 1989 import ban (that particular piece of law places a limit on the number of imported parts in a weapon that does not meet the definition of "sporting purpose").

The problem with the "sporting purpose" provision of the 1968 Gun Control Act is that it's nearly impossible to determine what it means. In my mind, it should eliminated since it's so vague, and if not, then it needs to be defined in the broadest possible sense. Rep. Ron Paul feels the same way, too, and has introduced a bill into the House that would eliminate this provision of the GCA (I would not recommend holding one's breath while waiting for this to pass, especially since the NRA has gone limp-wristed on this one).

In the meantime, I call on President Bush to call off the minions in the ATF, and allow the import of parts that will almost certainly be used on legally-assembled firearms. That is, if he sincerely believes in the 2nd Amendment, which is something I still doubt (and I doubt even further that he thinks the true purpose of the 2nd is to protect the people from their government).

UPDATE: More on HR1703 here.

 

A Heck Of A Shot

Congrats to NASA for hitting its target. Let's see - 900 lbs, 30,000 FPS; that's about 12.5 billion ft-lbs of energy. A typical .44 Mag load is about 800 ft-lbs.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

 

Some Real 4th of July Fireworks

NASA will attempt to impact a comet with a copper projectile tomorrow:

NASA has fired a 400-kilogram probe at a comet in hopes of hitting the target, about 800,000 kilometres away.

The space agency hopes to smash a hole in the Tempel One comet, but hitting it isn't going to be easy.

Once on auto-pilot, the probe has only three chances before the collision to fire its thrusters to adjust its flight path for a direct strike.

Impact is expected at 1:52 a.m. EDT on Monday. Those with the best chance of seeing the impact from the ground are people in the the southwestern part of the western hemisphere.

That kinda overshadows my idea of filling the discarded toilet from our recent bathroom renovation with gasoline, placing an ignition source nearby, and then shooting it with my FAL. I have no means of viewing the impact event, but I look forward to seeing pictures of it. If I'm doing the calculations right, I think the required accuracy for this shot is about 1/16 MOA. Pretty impressive, considering the fact it's a moving target.


 

Iranian President-Elect Continues To Get Creepier

Not only did Iran's president-elect Mohmoud Ahmadinejad participate in the takeover of the American embassy in 1979, but is now being linked with the 1989 assassination of Kurdish opposition leaders in Vienna. I'm going to really go out on a limb and suggest that such an individual will not help improve the stability of that region.

 

Military Meets Recruiting Goals... Or Not

So the Army finally exceeded its recruiting goals in June (by about 10%), after missing it the previous four months. Just don't mention that those goals were quietly decreased by about 20%. And who's to blame? Liberals, obviously:

"With the deluge of negative news that we get daily, it's just amazing to me that anybody would want to sign up," said Sen. Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican.

Ah, yes. Attack the messenger, not the message. Now, I don't doubt that there's a lot of good news that's underreported, but I don't think that a lack of good news is a determent to recruiting so much as the abundant bad news (and even at that, the daily toll of homicide bombings and US military deaths is quickly becoming background noise in the media).

And frankly, I'm guessing that a lot of people are getting tired of hearing the administration talk about "turning the corner". Saddam's sons. Saddam himself. Drafting a constitution. A handover of power to the Iraq provisional government. Cleaning up Fallujah. Voting. All of those events were supposed to bring us around the corner, and so far, they've pretty much failed to alter the course. If I wanted to get that sort of BS, it can be found in any typical full-time job, and my bad days don't involve car bombs or gunfire.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

 

Plame Source Revealed?

If it's true that Rove was the source, then the subsequent perjury charge couldn't happen to a more-deserving guy. Maybe that's a suitable payback for hijacking the conservative movement. I'm not happy that the independence of the media has been compromised in such a manner, but then again Time isn't so much independent media as it is a propaganda outlet for Ted Turner.

 

Paul Harvey - Time To Consider Retirement?

I've often enjoyed Paul Harvey's commentary, but this leads me to believe it's time for him to hang up his microphone before he does any more damage to his reputation. I can forgive an awful lot, but fondly reminiscing about giving smallpox-infected blankets to Indians and suggesting that the same level of savagery would serve us well in Afghanistan and Iraq is something I'm unwilling to gloss-over.

 

Mandatory SCOTUS Post

I'm with John Cole on this one - Dobson and his crew aren't necessarily concerned with finding a new Supreme Court justice who'll uphold the Constitution. That group is more worried about seating a justice that'll rule in their favor. I am also deeply uninterested in any justice that'd find acceptance with Senate Democrats. The net effect is that I'm likely to be unhappy with any choice that's made.

Radley Balko (The Agitator) has a good column on recent SCOTUS rulings up on Fox's website. He concludes:

This means that America may have finally achieved Madison's dim vision: "An excess of power" now prevails, and we're now living under a government that neither respects our right to property, nor acknowledges the property we own in our rights.

Perhaps this isn't the cheeriest of columns to write over Independence Day. But it's certainly appropriate. Thomas Jefferson famously wrote that, "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." We obviously haven't been vigilant enough.

Coincidentally, July 4 marks not only the birth of America, but the death of two of its founders — Jefferson and John Adams both died on this day in 1826, the 50th anniversary of America's independence.

Perhaps we should mark the date not only by celebrating America's independence, but by working to insure that this July 4 doesn't also mark the death of the ideas that animated its founding.

Amen.

I recently saw an interesting post on The High Road - what if the Kelo case means that eminent domain can be used against intellectual property? In this case, firearms patents were the IP of interest, but the same idea could be extended much, much further. That's a scary thought.


 

A Real Benedict Arnold Corporation

I would hope that those with a little money to invest and with any concern whatsoever for the principles of democracy and a free society would read this post on Cisco before getting all weak-kneed over the prospect of future profits. It's frustrating that an American company would act as a servant of a Communist dictatorship and do so much to ensure the victory of fascism over liberty.

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