Surly Curmudgeon

   The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
-- Robert A. Heinlein
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    Thursday, July 29, 2004

    It will never happen here...

    I always heard that door-to-door gun confiscation could never happen in America. Well guess what folks, that just isn't so. See here and here.

    Oshkosh, Wis. -- In what appears to be an admission of wrong-doing by the Oshkosh Police Department, Fox 11 WLUK (Green Bay) has reported that area resident Terry Wesner was offered an apology by the department.

    Police evacuated citizens from their homes within a quarantined area near Smith Elementary School Saturday night (July 17, 2004) to conduct a broad gun sweep of the neighborhood following the shooting of Oshkosh police officer Nate Gallagher.

    Residents reported returning home from area shelters -- where they were herded by police -- to find their guns gone.

    Others watched in awe as police took their firearms after giving police consent to search. Some were told by police their firearms would be subjected to ballistics tests, and would be returned.

    "However, the bullet that hit officer Gallagher was not found," said Corey Graff, executive director of Wisconsin Gun Owners Inc. "So how can police conduct ballistics tests if there's no bullet with which to match the results? It defies logic."

    Graff said the biggest issue is what he calls the department's "Guilty-until-proven-innocent" posture towards citizens.

    In what appears to be a blatant knee jerk abuse of police power, the department unleashed the dogs — literally — when the Special Weapons and Tactics Unit (SWAT) showed up with its K-9 Unit to begin house-to-house searches.

    Posted by Tom, 7/29/2004 6:50:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Law is no substitute for morality

    I just love Walter Williams.

    Some might rejoin that all of this is a result of a democratic process and it's legal. Legality alone is no guide for a moral people. There are many things in this world that have been, or are, legal but clearly immoral. Slavery was legal. Did that make it moral? South Africa's apartheid, Nazi persecution of Jews, and Stalinist and Maoist purges were all legal, but did that make them moral?

    Can a moral case be made for taking the rightful property of one American and giving it to another to whom it does not belong? I think not. That's why socialism is evil. It uses evil means (coercion) to achieve what are seen as good ends (helping people). We might also note that an act that is inherently evil does not become moral simply because there's a majority consensus.

    Couldn't have said it better myself.

    Posted by Tom, 7/29/2004 6:40:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Use the State to Smash the State

    The Incrementalator has some interesting things to say about using the state against itself, and I am intrigued. I have always been a fan of the idea that the model for the State should be a snake eating its own tail, so it's possible this could work. The danger is the addictive lure of power in the process. Can libertarians remain ideologically pure while using the power of the State? It's a difficult question, and one not likely to be answered soon.

    Posted by Tom, 7/29/2004 6:34:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, July 28, 2004

    Take it from the horse's mouth:

    Posted by Tom, 7/28/2004 6:50:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, July 27, 2004

    John Kerry and Civil Liberties

    Since Bush and crew are being played up as the tyrants already (and rightly so), and we haven't had much discussion on what the Kerry record is on civil liberties, I submit the following:

    In the 1980s war on drugs, the laws were stretched so that property that had been used for criminal purposes could be seized by law enforcement even if the owner of that property was innocent. If a drug dealer rode in your car or your airplane, for example, it was subject to seizure, and you would have to sue to get it back by proving you had no knowledge that a dealer had used it for illicit purposes. This was the case even if you had never been charged with any crime. The resale of impounded property became a source of revenue—and corruption—for local police departments. Even in cases where there were actual criminal convictions, governments would often seize assets that were not related to the crime or to compensating victims.

    In the mid-1990s, a bipartisan movement arose to reform the forfeiture laws, with conservative Republican Reps. Henry Hyde of Illinois and Bob Barr of Georgia joining with such liberal Democrats as Reps. John Conyers of Michigan and Barney Frank of Massachusetts. They wanted to increase the burden of proof on the government when it seized property. As with encryption, there was stiff opposition to reform from Janet Reno's Justice Department.

    What was Kerry's position? He thought U.S. asset forfeiture laws were working so well that he wanted to export them. "We absolutely must push for asset forfeiture laws all over the planet," Kerry wrote in The New War. "In the words of one plainspoken lawman, 'Get their ass and get their assets.'" There was, tellingly, no discussion at all of civil liberties issues.


    Many on the left and right worried about overreach from the federal "Know Your Customer" regulations of 1997-98, which would have required banks to monitor every customer's "normal and expected transactions." Those proposed rules were eventually withdrawn after the ACLU, the Libertarian Party, and other groups generated more than 100,000 comments in opposition. But from his writings and statements, John Kerry seemed worried that the regulations did not go far enough. "If the standards by which banks accept money were lived up to with the same diligence as that by which most banks lend money, the 'know your customer' maxim would have teeth," he wrote in The New War. "But too many bankers pretend they are doing all they can to know what money crosses their threshold and pretend they are not as key as they are to law-enforcement efforts."

    Kerry then expressed his belief that bank customers are entitled to essentially zero privacy. "The technology is already available to monitor all electronic money transfers," he wrote (emphasis added). "We need the will to make sure it is put in place."

    Tell me again why I should vote for this chump?

    Posted by Tom, 7/27/2004 7:20:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, July 23, 2004

    Oh puh-leeze...

    From an article about Keira Knightley, one of the stars of the new King Arthur movie:

    Knightley loved being able to hit her male co-stars while they were prohibited from hitting her. Indeed, she's all about female empowerment.

    "Women are stronger," she says with a laugh. "We have to go through childbirth. Please! Not a question! Women are stronger."

    What the...? Nobody is allowed to hit her, and this is somehow empowering? Compare this to Vox Day's female sparring partner in a full-contact dojo. I know which woman I think is empowered.

    Posted by Tom, 7/23/2004 9:59:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Science and Science Fiction

    The line is getting blurred even more all the time. Now we have true teleportation, and the potential for increased computing power can only be guessed at. Check it out.

    In other news, Ender's Game is one step closer to the big screen. With Card himself at the helm, I can rest a little easier, knowing that the author's original vision will be preserved -- unless he's as dumb as Stephen King.

    Finally, a freakish ocean phenomenon has been confirmed. Apparently the ocean occasionally throws up giant waves for no readily discernable reason. The existence of "rogue waves", once thought the fevered imaginings of drunken trawler captains, has been confirmed through the use of satellite imagery. And to think it only took 30 years for someone to say "hey, I'll bet if we watched the oceans with one of those satellites we've got hanging around, we might see something".

    Posted by Tom, 7/23/2004 9:36:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Gun news

    Here's some tidbits on the latest in the gun control arena:

    The NRA reports that the FBI is finally implementing some of the rules for gun owner privacy originally proposed by John Ashcroft. Apparently the FBI has also issued some statements rebutting the arguments of the anti-gun crowd for continuing to invade our privacy. It's just too bad that we can't wave goodbye to the whole NICS system.

    Here's an interesting little rant about "gun-free" zones, and how we need some "gun-rich" zones. I wonder if the author has thought of gun shows?

    Finally, I came across this really cool news aggregator for the latest and greatest in firearm-related news.

    Posted by Tom, 7/23/2004 9:27:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, July 22, 2004

    Shock to the system

    George W. Bush says D.C. politics are nastier than he expected. "I didn’t realize Washington was going to be so bitter," the president says in the August issue of Ladies Home Journal. "Austin was not a bitter place. Washington turns out to be a lot different town than I envisioned it to be."

    That's funny, I always thought of Washington as being full of powermongering, greedy, self-righteous twits. Guess I was smarter than George on that count.

    Posted by Tom, 7/22/2004 7:26:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Employees get pink slips

    And it's a good thing. KFC's slaughterhouse escapades have been documented by PETA (not for the squeamish), in one of the first things I've seen PETA do which is not just stupidly self-serving and arrogant. It might actually qualify as useful. 11 employees so far have been given the boot.

    Posted by Tom, 7/22/2004 7:02:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, July 21, 2004

    As if we needed proof...

    ...our government is apparently full of criminals, con artists, and deadbeats. Shocking and surprising, I know.

    Posted by Tom, 7/21/2004 7:23:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, July 7, 2004

    I might actually want to see it now...

    Here's the first interesting review I've read of Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11". I like the points made:

    Some people are willing to dismiss this on the grounds that Moore is a partisan hack. These people are called Republicans. Other people acknowledge Moore's liberal bias, but they applaud it, and they applaud him for showing this footage in his film. These people are called Democrats. There's little doubt Moore's on the Democrats' side. The honest truth, though? It's hard to take that stuff seriously when you're watching real scenes from real wars. These scenes would be awful even if Moore had never been born. His political leanings don't affect their impact in the least.

    And that's just the thing: If he makes a mistake in this movie, it's not that he's careless with the facts, as some allege. It's that he suggests Bush is the cause of our problems, when, in fact, Bush is just the result.


    So here's the bottom line: With its focus on Bush, and its implied endorsement of Kerry, "Fahrenheit 9/11" misses its chance to pinpoint political power as the root cause for war. To its credit, however, it gives us an example. And so it ought to be seen.

    Too bad Moore isn't bright enough to figure this out on his own.

    Posted by Tom, 7/7/2004 6:56:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Teach 'em young

    I'm not sure if the little girl in this story has really absorbed the moral lessons of hunting, but she certainly seems to know her way around a gun, which is a good thing.

    Posted by Tom, 7/7/2004 6:53:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...