Monday, July 23, 2012

The Aurora Massacre: the usual calls for gun control commence

Snow is cold, the sun rises in the east, and leftists want to disarm you.

It didn't take too long after the murders in the movie theater for the usual suspects to begin calling for some kind of ban on guns.  Here in my city of residence, that call came from local gadfly Marcos Breton of the Sacramento Bee.

Breton half-heartedly tries to sound reasonable, saying "I don't want to take away your gun, so please spare me your Second Amendment screeds."  No, he only wants to ban "assault weapons," but in the end, he sings the same old tune.

First off, Mr. Breton, please define for me what an "assault weapon" is.  As Dennis Prager always insists: we need clarity before agreement.

Not that I would agree with Mr. Breton even if we had clarity.  Here is how he couches his argument regarding "assault weapons":
The AR-15 was initially designed for U.S. armed forces. According to the Associated Press, Holmes' weapon allegedly had "a high-capacity, drum-style magazine … some range from carrying 50-90 rounds apiece." Such a weapon is designed to kill large numbers of people quickly – in combat. That's it. So why are they sold legally to civilians under any circumstances?
I'll tell you why:  Because civilians have the God-given right to defend themselves from not only nut jobs like James Holmes, but from the tyranny of our own government.  Now, now - I can hear some of your eyes rolling already.  If you think I am being overly dramatic, kindly remind yourself how the United States became the United States in the first place:  We rose up against the tyranny of our central government (which at the time was King George III and Parliament).  We rose up and killed British soldiers, and we used weapons that were equal, and even superior, to the weapons the British soldiers had.

Again, throughout Breton's screed, he tries to sound reasonable.  He tries to emphasize that he is familiar with all the arguments that people like me (who only listen to the NRA according to him) use to support the keeping and bearing of arms.  The problem is that Breton badly contradicts himself.  Early in his screed, he says:
This isn't an argument about legislating ourselves into a better world. Many of us know that we can't eliminate danger in our lives. We can't send our kids to the movies with a guarantee they will come home safely. We can't stop emotionally detached and spiritually vacant misanthropes from killing us where we live. And you know what else? Many of us know about the epidemic of illegal guns and how gun-control laws often are obeyed only by law-abiding people while criminals keep stockpiling weapons and killing people.
So, Breton acknowledges - in so many words - that if guns are outlawed, then only outlaws will have guns. And yet, at the end of his anti-Second Amendement screed, Breton makes it clear that he apparently wants only outlaws to have guns:
As a culture, we're always preaching personal responsibility. Why can't we insist on more responsibility in the gun culture? No one is arguing that any and all public massacres can be prevented. Even without an AR-15 involved, people still likely would have been killed in Aurora. But maybe not as many people would have been killed. Maybe if it were harder to be a gun owner – if there were a federal assault weapons ban, longer waiting periods, stricter psychological evaluations linked to gun ownership – there would be fewer gun victims.
So Breton acknowledges that only law-abiding people abide by gun laws, and yet he wants to make it harder for law-abiding people to keep and bear arms. Seriously, Mr. Breton? The Bee is not a high school newspaper, yet your column sounds like it was written by a student who works for one. This is because the level of your analysis on this subject reaches only to that maturity level.

Let me explain this to you like you're a four year-old, Mr. Breton.  The bad guys are going to get any kind of gun they want, and they will willingly break any gun law to get it.  If James Holmes wasn't afraid to walk into a movie theater and break Colorado's murder and attempted murder laws 80+ times over, do you really think he is going to shed even one bead of sweat breaking any gun laws that are designed to keep "assault weapons" out of people's hands?

But don't just listen to me, listen to the great Thomas Jefferson, who said the same thing in a much more eloquent manner than I:
Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.
I own what you would consider an "assault weapon," Mr. Breton.  Come and take it.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be."  -Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Concealed Carry in action

In Ocala, Florida, just before 10pm, Duwayne Henderson and Davis Dawkins - both 19 years of age - burst into an Internet cafe with guns drawn.  They began to round up the customers, but while that was going on, Samuel Williams, age 71, pulled out his .380 semi-auto handgun and opened fire on the perps.  Henderson and Dawkins were both shot, but they survived their wounds, and are now residing in the Pokey.

The best part is that the whole affair was captured on the cafe's surveillance cameras.  You have got to see this video!  I was unable to imbed the video into my post, but click here to watch it.  Once the two perps come under fire, their efforts to hightail it out of the cafe are priceless to watch.

Having never been involved in a situation like this, it was interesting for me to watch the dynamics of the people involved.  When you see these two hooded, masked thugs enter the cafe, they seem so intimidating - almost invincible.  But all it takes is for one of their would-be victims to start shooting back, and the dynamics quickly change.  These two formerly intimidating thugs are now reduced to two frightened jackrabbits who literally trip over themselves in their wild attempts to get out of the cafe as Mr. Williams is shooting them.

This is a good lesson for the people with whom I have had arguments debates in the past where they insisted that carrying a concealed weapon would do no good because the bad guy would simply take it away from you.  As you can see, these two perps were not the fearless supermen that many people think they are.  Instead they were - as criminals often are - a couple of cowards who tried to bluff their way through a robbery with the expectation that no one would dare fight back.  When someone did fight back, you can see the results on the video.

I can't help but wonder if this incident will make Mssrs. Henderson and Dawkins think twice about continuing their life of crime.  That is what exercising your right to defend yourself is all about.  How does it go?  An armed society is a polite society.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be."  -Thomas Jefferson

Monday, July 16, 2012

Gutting Prop 13: Going after the symptoms instead of the cure

Sometimes, all the information you need is right there in front of you... it's just not always on the same page.

In the Forum section of yesterday's Sunday Sacramento Bee, the above-the-fold editorial was (and always seems to be) yet another hatchet job on Prop 13 entitled Is Prop 13 behind the times?.  The Leftists and Statists here in the People's Republic of California have always hated Prop 13 because it limits the amount of taxpayer moolah that can be pissed away on their dreams and schemes.

For all you non-Californians out there, Prop 13 was passed by California's voters in 1978 in response to exploding property tax rates that were going up as the value of houses went up.  Many people - especially those on fixed income - were often unable to afford their annual property taxes (even if their house was paid off) and were being kicked out of their own homes because the government mafioso here in Sacramento wasn't getting enough tribute.

Enter Prop 13, which limited an annual rise in property tax to 2% (essentially the rate of inflation), and required that a house could only be reassessed to determine property tax rates when that house was sold.  For instance, say a guy buys a house in 1980 for $50,000; he would pay his taxes based on that amount as long as he owned the house.  If he sell the house 30 years later for, say, $400,000, the new owners will now pay property tax based on that new, much higher, purchase price.  Before Prop 13, the 1980 owner, after 30 years owning that home, would have found himself with a property tax bill that was 800% higher than when he first bought the house.  It was madness.

Ever since Prop 13 was passed, California's statists have blamed it for California's budgetary woes.  Since homeowners couldn't be gouged every year, that must be causing our fiscal shortfalls, right?  It couldn't have anything to do with out-of-control spending, right?

The Bee editorial simply posits that Prop 13 is out of date because circumstances in California have changed since 1978: Instead of increasing housing prices causing property taxes to spike, we now worry about falling prices. So let's just get rid of Prop 13, right? As the Bee's anti-Prop 13 editorial puts it:
In the decade ahead, we no longer must guard against explosive, runaway house prices. Instead, we would be grateful if foreclosures ended and house prices stopped falling.
So the bottom line is: get rid of Prop 13 because unlike in 1978, our state's economy stinks and our housing market along with it. What is not explored in this editorial is what made our economy stink in the first place.

For that, we turn to another editorial in the very same Forum section; this one written by none other than Dr. Arthur Laffer (as in Curve).  In an editorial entitled Brown should go back to idea of a flat to help the economy, Laffer lays out exactly why California is in such a financial mess. After talking about how California's Democrat-dominated government spends way too much and taxes way too much, Laffer sums it up:
Between 1992 and 2008, the Golden State lost a net total of 869,000 tax filers. Add up all the taxes they would have paid had they stayed put, and California lost roughly $500 billion.
So out-of-control government that is spending and taxing California citizens into oblivion is causing taxpayers to flee the state, but the Statists who support all this taxing and spending keep trying to tell us that the reason California is in such financial doldrums is because Prop 13 prevents them from getting hold of even more of our money. I love my home state of California, but I don't know how much longer it is going to last.  

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, July 15, 2012

While I was away...

The fam and I have been in South Lake Tahoe since early this week attending a family reunion on my wife's dad's side of the family.  That is my partial excuse for having not attended to my blog.  I guess I could blog on the road if I really wanted to, but doing so on my iPhone is downright cumbersome.

I don't enjoy all the other people who are enjoying Tahoe the same time I am, but I certainly understand why so many people go there.  More beautiful country you would be hard-pressed to find.  That and there is so much to do!

During the winter is the skiing of course, but I actually enjoy Tahoe more during the summer.  You can swim, boat, hike, bike, and walk around without freezing your parts off.  And then there is parasailing.  Who would pass up the $65 opportunity to hang from a parachute while being pulled across the lake by a motorboat.  My son and I took a tandem ride, and we LOVED it!  I am horrible at judging distances, but we had to have been somewhere around 300-500 feet in the air.  I was able to take my camera with me and caught our takeoff:

It was quite a thrill ride, and I can't think of anything else I have ever done where I felt so absolutely exposed.  Here are some still shots to give you an idea of the view from up there:

If the mood strikes me, I might post some more pics of our activities, but this experience did it for me!  My son, too!  Next year, when she weighs enough, my daughter has already made me promise that she gets to go up as well.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be."  -Thomas Jefferson

Monday, July 02, 2012

"I felt like I was in the 1950s"

So said my wife in her positive description to me of her enjoyment of the Folsom Rodeo, which we attended tonight with our children and my wife's sister's family.

We sat in the stands and enjoyed the experience of being surrounded by several thousand happy, enthusiastic, polite, patriotic spectators.  These thousands of spectators were treated to a night of witty banter between the announcer and the head clown; a mass Army enlistment ceremony on the floor of the arena; a parachutist landing on the floor of the arena with a giant U.S. flag hanging from his leg, and then the flag being held by a large group of volunteers while a family sang the National Anthem in a three part harmony.  Notice all this excitement, and I haven't even mentioned any of the actual rodeo events yet!

Then there was the calf lassoing, steer wrestling, bronco busting, 5-6 year old mutton bustin', barrel racing, and - my favorite - bull riding.

My wife and I just sat in amazement at thousands of people having a good time in a safe environment that made for a wonderful time for our 6 year-old daughter and 8 year-old son. 

I wish that this experience tonight was the rule for how our country could be, rather than the exception.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be."  -Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Seeing Obama's incompetence with my own eyes

UPDATE 7/6/2012:

It seems that the Heritage Foundation link I used in this post to source my list of the government's green energy investment failures has gone belly-up.  This new link gives not only the same list, but numerous links to news stories about the failure of each company listed.

The family and I spent the last couple days in the... um... interesting... town of Santa Cruz, California.

Actually, I didn't seem to see the sheer number of absolutely insane street people that I saw in the late-'90s.  Oh, there were plenty of dirty, greasy guys and gals with nasty dreadlocks that looked like a bunch of turds hanging from their heads, but overall, my impression was that Santa Cruz has calmed down just a tad.  I could be wrong.

We took the long, scenic route to Santa Cruz - leaving Sacramento on I-80, crossing the Bay Bridge, taking I-280 across the peninsula, and then traveling along Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) to Santa Cruz.

On the way home, we just wanted to get back to the house, so we took the dreaded Highway 17 to San Jose, and then traveled up I-880, which takes you up the East Bay.  It was while we were driving through the city of Fremont on I-880 that I saw a familiar sight up ahead:  The Solyndra building.  You remember Solyndra, don't you?  Obama blew $535 million of yours and my tax dollars on this company that he was aware was already failing when they received the money.  I knew Solyndra was headquarted in Fremont, but I had no idea that it was right along the 880 freeway.  I frantically asked my wife to get out her iPhone and snap some pics as we zoomed by.  Here is what she caught:

You know, if I were the Obama administration, I would use those fascistic strong-arm tactics for which they are known, and convince someone in charge to take down all the big Solyndra logo signs that adorn that absolutely massive building that sits right along the freeway.  On second thought, forget I said anything.  Leave it just the way it is.  Think of the thousands of commuters in the Lefty Loony Land of the East Bay as every day, they drive past this monument to Obama's green energy boondoggles.

And keep in mind folks that Solyndra is by no means the only failed so-called green energy project that received Obama's venture socialism money, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer.  I found this list at the Heritage Foundation's website that lists plenty of other boondoggles where Obama used the sweat of our brow to create something destined to fail:
  • Evergreen Solar
  • SpectraWatt
  • Solyndra (received $535 million)
  • Beacon Power (received $43 million)
  • AES’ subsidiary Eastern Energy
  • Nevada Geothermal (received $98.5 million)
  • SunPower (received $1.5 billion)
  • First Solar (received $1.46 billion)
  •  Babcock & Brown (an Australian company which received $178 million)
  • Ener1 (subsidiary EnerDel received $118.5 million)
  • Amonix (received 5.9 million)
  • The National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Fisker Automotive
  • Abound Solar (received $400 million, only borrowed $70 million of that)
  • Chevy Volt (taxpayers basically own GM)
  • Solar Trust of America
  • A123 Systems (received $279 million)
  • Willard & Kelsey Solar Group (received $6 million)
  • Johnson Controls (received $299 million)
  • Schneider Electric (received $86 million)
Money well spent, eh?  Ugh.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be."  -Thomas Jefferson