Archive for June, 2008
27 Jun 2008

A Narrowly Defined Right May Not Be Much Better Than No Right At All

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Ilya Somin, at Volokh Conspiracy, advises Gun rights supporters not to rejoice too soon.

For many years, gun rights advocates have fought to persuade the Supreme Court that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. That battle has now been won in Heller. Indeed, all nine justices (including the four dissenters) seem to agree that there is some individual right to bear arms that goes beyond a “collective right” protection for state militias.

However, the experience of the struggle for judicial protection of constitutional property rights suggests that recognition of the mere existence of a right isn’t enough. If the scope of the right is defined narrowly by courts, recognition won’t mean much in practice.

Read the whole thing.

26 Jun 2008

Supreme Court Affirms Individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms

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As predicted, Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, which was naturally decided by Justice Anthony Kennedy in his capacity as decisive swing vote.

On first glance, I would say that the Court’s ruling primarily represents a strong rebuke to intellectually farcical sophistry and the kinds of whimsical and creative legal analysis which divorce themselves from the Constitution’s historical background, the expressed views and intentions of the framers, commentaries on the Constitution, and the entirety of history before 1932.

Justice Scalia writes at length, and with ill-concealed contempt, for efforts to eliminate the individual right to keep and bear arms by facile manipulation of the prefatory “well-regulated militia” clause, happily following the jurisprudential practice of recent decades of including a thorough and comprehensive survey of the relevant history.

And he concludes:

There seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both the text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms.

But, no sooner does Justice Scalia arrive at his bold conclusion than he begins retreating from its implications and striving actively to limit its practical consequences.

Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. …

Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time.” 307 U. S., at 179. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons.”

It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service—M-16 rifles and the like—may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of smallarms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.

In the end, the ruling merely affirms the existence of the individual right to keep and bears arms, and strikes down the District of Columbia’s ban on handgun possession in the home and its requirement that lawful firearms kept in a home be inoperable. It specifically declines to address licensing requirements (which Heller failed to challenge). Insofar as the Court affirms a right of self defense, it has done so only with respect to one’s home.

The moderation of Scalia’s opinion is likely to make its power as a decision stronger rather than weaker though, and District of Columbia v. Heller signals a major reversal in the direction of Constitutional Law at the Supreme Court level.

26 Jun 2008

The Obama Left

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J.R. Dunn, also at American Thinker, remarks on how the Obama left is made up of the entirety of the American left, in all its flavors.

The American left can be divided into three distinct strands, each with its own characteristics, identifiers, and methods of operation: the wimp left, the weird left, and the hard left.

The wimp left is the largest, most amorphous, and least impressive faction. These are the people who are leftists because the neighbors are. They’re the NPR listeners, the PBS watchers, the slogan repeaters. They view the left as a lifestyle choice, one that makes you a better person (as they never cease telling you). …

To many conservatives, the weird left — AKA the wacko left or the loony left, is the left, the perfect representation of left-wing thinking and behavior. The wacko left can be defined as leftism as personality disorder, the contemporary expression of Orwell’s “nudists, fruit-juice drinkers, and sandal wearers”. They tend to be obsessive single-issue types, overwhelmed with paranoia and consumed with conspiracy theories. …

The hard left is the core left, the armature without which the other factions would fall apart. They are directly descended from the communist groups (the CPUSA, Trotsyites, and so forth) of the ‘30s and ‘40s, through New Left organizations such as the SDS and the Weathermen. The hard left consists of intelligentsia and activists, people who spend their lives reading Alinsky and Gramsci and trying their damndest to put those dicta into practice. They are usually found in universities and surrounding communities, though they are also present in left-wing think tanks and lobbying outfits. Most of us will go through life without ever knowingly encountering one of them. Through their intellectual control over the much larger wimp left (who would be utterly lost without their direction), they possess influence all out of proportion to their numbers. The prototype of the American hard leftist is Tom Hayden. …

Usually, a political candidate running on a left-wing platform will be associated with one strand in particular. …

The extraordinary thing about Barack Obama is that he’s intimately connected to all these factions in a way that may never quite have been the case before. The wacko left is represented by Jeremiah Wright and James P. Meeks, with their AIDS conspiracies and related yarns, and ACORN, the leftist fringe group for which Obama served as attorney for many years. The hard left is represented by his Marxist mentor Frank Marshall Davis, who introduced Obama to left-wing politics at an early age, Fr. Michael Pfleger, an advocate of “liberation theology”, the application of Marxism to Christianity, and former Weatherman Bill Ayers, who was contending that America could be set right by a few bombs as late as September 11, 2001.

The wimp left is, obviously enough, the Obama voter.

Read the whole thing.

26 Jun 2008

Reading the Second Amendment

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While we’re waiting for the Supreme Court decision in Heller, Larrey Anderson, at American Thinker, has a bit of fun applying ordinary language philosophy to the oh-so-inscrutable meaning of the Second Amendment.

It is depressing to imagine how a Court which finds execution by lethal injection for child rape violative of the cruel and unusual punishments clause of the 8th Amendment is capable of reading the Second Amendment.

25 Jun 2008

Annual Oklahoma Full-Auto Shoot

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Put this on your calendar for next year.

Mike Friend began the event five years ago for his customers who wanted a bigger experience than just his indoor range. At a remote spot, a rifle shot from the Missouri state line, they can really let her rip.

“They come out here to see the real thing work,” says Friend, who first organized the Full Auto Shoot.

“Once you try it you’re hooked,” beams shooting range official David Meyer.

MSNBC 2:10 video

Full-Auto Shoot web-site

25 Jun 2008

Man Killed by Mountain Lion in Southern New Mexico

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A mountain lion attacked, killed and partially ate a New Mexico man, authorities said on Tuesday.

A search party found the body of Robert Nawojski, 55, in a wooded area near his mobile home in Pinos Altos, New Mexico, late last week, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish said.

Investigators concluded that Nawojski had been attacked and killed by a mountain lion, or cougar, at a spot close to his home, where he lived alone and was known to bathe and shave outdoors.

Spokesman Dan Williams said the lion subsequently dragged the man’s body a short distance into nearby woodland and ate and buried parts of it.

Nawojski was reported missing by his brother last week. A search party found a mountain lion lurking near his home, and reported it to the Department of Game and Fish, who shot and wounded the animal.

25 Jun 2008

George Friedman Analyzes Mediterranean Flyover Story

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George Friedman, of the Stratfor subscription service, refects on the probable realities behind the headlines.

On June 20, The New York Times published a report saying that more than 100 Israeli aircrafts carried out an exercise in early June over the eastern Mediterranean Sea and Greece. The article pointed out that the distances covered were roughly the distances from Israel to Iranian nuclear sites and that the exercise was a trial run for a large-scale air strike against Iran. On June 21, the British newspaper The Times quoted Israeli military sources as saying that the exercise was a dress rehearsal for an attack on Iran. The Jerusalem Post, in covering these events, pointedly referred to an article it had published in May saying that Israeli intelligence had changed its forecast for Iran passing a nuclear threshold — whether this was simply the ability to cause an explosion under controlled conditions or the ability to produce an actual weapon was unclear — to 2008 rather than 2009.

The New York Times article, positioned on the front page, captured the attention of everyone from oil traders to Iran, which claimed that this was entirely psychological warfare on the part of the Israelis and that Israel could not carry out such an attack. It was not clear why the Iranians thought an attack was impossible, but they were surely right in saying that the exercise was psychological warfare. The Israelis did everything they could to publicize the exercise, and American officials, who obviously knew about the exercise but had not publicized it, backed them up.

25 Jun 2008

Reading the Tea Leaves on Heller

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Tom Goldstein at the SCOTUS blog:

There is very little information that can be gleaned with confidence about the authorship of the remaining opinions from the Term.

It does look exceptionally likely that Justice Scalia is writing the principal opinion for the Court in Heller – the D.C. guns case. That is the only opinion remaining from the sitting and he is the only member of the Court not to have written a majority opinion from the sitting. … So, that’s a good sign for advocates of a strong individual rights conception of the Second Amendment and a bad sign for D.C.

It would certainly be nice if he’s right.

24 Jun 2008

Always Something New Out of Inland Western Australia

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Central Ranges Taipan, Oxyuranus temporalis

The Australian (March 9, 2007):

The still unnamed species was discovered during an expedition to a remote region about 200km northwest of Uluru in September last year.

Dr Mark Hutchinson, reptile and amphibian curator at the South Australian Museum, caught the immature female taipan while it was crossing a dirt track.

He said the reptile was about one metre long but, because it was one of the most venomous snakes in the world, he did not inspect the creature on site.

Dr Hutchinson was part of a research group from the South Australian and West Australian museums that was in isolated outback region to make the first scientific inventory of the area’s animal and plant species.

Dr Hutchinson said he bagged the snake and sent it, along with others captured from the trip, to the Western Australian Museum in Perth for closer inspection.

It was not until two weeks later that the new species was studied.

“It was a bit of a surprise,” Dr Hutchinson said.

“In fact I found it really hard to believe at first.

“This isn’t the 19th century – you usually don’t find a new species that big out in the open, well not in Australia.”

The two known species of taipan are not found in sandy desert habitats, with the closest family members to the new discovery recorded some 800km away.

The inland taipan was the last taipan reported in the region – and that was seen more than 125 years ago.

Dr Hutchinson said the discovery demonstrated the incredible diversity of the Australian outback.

He said he expected other undiscovered species to be out there as well.

He said further tests were now underway and a paper would soon be published outlining the new discovery.

WA Museum herpetologist Paul Doughty said the reptile was named the Central Ranges Taipan, or Oxyuranus temporalis, and was likely to be extremely venomous. “But we won’t know just how venomous until more of them are caught and the venom tested,” Dr Doughty said.

Science Network Western Australia

It was awarded a place in the Top Ten New Species of 2007 by by the International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) at Arizona State University.

24 Jun 2008

Ivy League Education=”Really Excellent Sheep”

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William Deresiewicz, like some other people around here, spent time at Yale, and has some apt criticism of both the objectives and results of American elite education.

Even though he’s a liberal and a romantic who seems to think we need to be producing poets and revolutionaries, he is not wrong in noting that independent thought is not exactly what our most prestigious educational institutions are aiming at.

As one student responds to Deresiewicz in class: “So are you saying that we’re all just, like, really excellent sheep?”

No, he’s calling you “tools,” actually.

Being an intellectual begins with thinking your way outside of your assumptions and the system that enforces them. But students who get into elite schools are precisely the ones who have best learned to work within the system, so it’s almost impossible for them to see outside it, to see that it’s even there. Long before they got to college, they turned themselves into world-class hoop-jumpers and teacher-pleasers, getting A’s in every class no matter how boring they found the teacher or how pointless the subject, racking up eight or 10 extracurricular activities no matter what else they wanted to do with their time. …

The world that produced John Kerry and George Bush is indeed giving us our next generation of leaders. The kid who’s loading up on AP courses junior year or editing three campus publications while double-majoring, the kid whom everyone wants at their college or law school but no one wants in their classroom, the kid who doesn’t have a minute to breathe, let alone think, will soon be running a corporation or an institution or a government. She will have many achievements but little experience, great success but no vision. The disadvantage of an elite education is that it’s given us the elite we have, and the elite we’re going to have.

Hat tip to Tim of Angle.

24 Jun 2008

Karl Rove: Obama “Cooly Arrogant”

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This Obama Girl 2008 Poster Unintentionally Does a Good Job of Illustrating Karl Rove’s Metaphor

Jake Tapper, at his ABC News Political Punch blog first recounts an amusing Karl Rove story I had not heard.

ABC News’ Christianne Klein reports that at a breakfast with Republican insiders at the Capitol Hill Club this morning, former White House senior aide Karl Rove referred to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, as “coolly arrogant.”

“Even if you never met him, you know this guy,” Rove said, . “He’s the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by.”

Rove said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., “needs to come right at him.”

And then Tapper goes after Rove.

How dare that Karl Rove speak ill of the Obamessiah! Criticizing Obama in any way, shape, or form is racism. After all, Obama is “the first major party African-American presidential candidate.” All you can decently do is vote for him and shut up.

Tapper will show Karl Rove.

Thereupon, the Dartmouth-educated Mr. Tapper climbs into his raggedy-peasant Halloween outfit, and goes all class warrior on poor Karl Rove, playing the bogus stereotype card, beloved of all liars and phonies working for the MSM.

Interesting that Mr. Rove would use a country club metaphor to describe the first major party African-American presidential candidate, whom I’m sure wouldn’t be admitted into many
country clubs that members of the Capitol Hill Club frequent.

Yeah, right! Oh, sure. It’s so difficult today for Harvard-educated Presidential nominees to get into country clubs. And we hear all the time about Tiger Woods being refused entry, too.

What a lot of hooey! The toniest country clubs started actively looking for black members, precisely in order to avoid these kinds of accusations, around forty years ago. But it’s true that Obama probably couldn’t join the Capitol Hill Club though. (It’s real name is the National Republican Club of Capitol Hill.)

24 Jun 2008

Fox Cub Video

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Many years ago, an English foxhunter from Gloucestershire found a tiny female fox cub shivering in a field one morning after some heavy rains. Presumably the vixen had been trying to rear her litter of cubs in a drain culvert, and the family wound up dispersed when their home was flooded out. He took the cub home, where he and his wife raised her to adulthood. They named the cub “Samantha,” after a sexy film star of the period.

The fox was acclimated to the wild by being permitted to run around outdoors in the daytime, and was eventually released into the wild (after she developed an unfortunate habit of slaughtering a neighbor’s rare breed poultry in broad daylight).

He recently assembled and posted some period home movies of Samantha (which are delightful) on YouTube as a 3:05 video to share with an online foxhunting community.

The foxhunter apologized for the less than ideal quality of his video, which resulted from his slow Internet connection. Unfortunately, cable & DSL Internet connections are commonly not available out in the country.

23 Jun 2008

The USA is Hated For the Same Reasons as the Red Sox

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Argues Assistant Village Idiot, and liberals in New England need to wise up.

Boston fans, you know with a certainty that much of the resentment comes from the mere fact that we won and they didn’t. That other stuff is just scrambling for justifications, because no one wants to admit that they hate you just because you’re successful.

New England and especially Massachusetts, are among the most politically liberal areas of the country. A lot of those Boston fans who know in their gut that they are hated more from envy than from anything they have done to deserve it, nonetheless refuse to understand this about the larger world they live in. These are the folks who believe that America is hated because of our foreign policy, because we exploit everyone, because of George Bush, because of our arrogance.

Not really. Those negative things are partly true, of course, and we shouldn’t go to the other extreme and discount all criticism. But the European elites hate us because we have rescued them, protected them, created the consumer goods and medical techniques they love, and it is too painful to admit that. Middle Eastern countries hate us because we are rich. Because they have contributed nothing to the world for about 7 centuries except the oil they happen to be living over, they must find ways to delegitimise our success. It should be theirs. They deserve it. We must have cheated somehow.

So remember that when you go to the polls Sox fans, Pats fans, Celts fans. You know in your gut the real reason that the rest of the country resents you, and now you know why the world resents America, and rejoices in our losses. Don’t fall for the excuses again.

Also via Dr. Mercury.

23 Jun 2008

Join the Jihad: “We Throw Grenades, Miss, and Run Away Really Fast”

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Allahu Akhabar! Rusty Shackleford has an (inadvertently very funny) Islamist recruitment 0:36 video. They would never recruit Ace with this one.

Hat tip to Dr. Mercury.

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