Monday, December 26, 2011

Three news stories

There are three news stories I am following with particular interest because they seem to me the most important of the present day:
  • The debt crisis in the Western democracies
  • Social change in China
  • The changing Mideast political situation, as regards mosque and state
These stories are interrelated, in some interesting ways. If the Western economies crumble it will affect the arising Chinese middle class. It will change the demand for oil, impacting the funding source for much of Islamism.

Other scenarios are possible. A Communist crackdown in China would disrupt China's economic development and China's role in world commerce, with results felt everywhere.  Contrariwise, the Chinese people might finally get fed up enough with their Communist officials to throw the rascals out. Individual Chinese citizens do not have much political power, but there are a great many of them.

An Islamist hegemony in the Mideast would change many things, possibly including who is a favored customer for petroleum and who isn't. (It is quite possible we Americans would not be favored.) Increased Mideastern hostility toward the West could accelerate our debt problems by creating a further drag on our economies, with impacts on Asia's investments in the West and Asia's trade with the Western countries. Once again the Chinese situation is affected, with consequences worldwide, and of course within China itself...

And so on--make up your own scenarios. While I do not say any of the above will come to pass, none of them is impossible, and there are still more scenarios that cannot be ruled out. The rise in the West of either ultra-conservative or ultra-socialist policies could, in falling domino fashion, affect both Asia and the Mideast. For example, a new American isolationism--close the doors on the rest of the world--would affect matters everywhere.

The cultures and economies of the world are more closely linked than at any time previously. There are at present three areas of great uncertainty about future developments, a Western one, a Chinese one and a Muslim one. Interesting times, indeed.

Friday, December 16, 2011

New .22 pocket revolver from Ruger

See it here:

Some  people on a discussion board I visit are asking what this little gun is good for, and in Internet echo chamber fashion, many people are opining it isn't good for much, because of its small caliber. I disagree. A DA snubnose in .22LR is an excellent thing to have, in some circumstances. I haven't shot the new Ruger yet, but have for many years owned another brand of .22 snub, so I feel I can comment.

  •  If you carry a .38 snub you can get in a lot of good practice with a .22 version. It is possible to learn to shoot a snubnose rather well, but it takes a lot of practice. The .22 makes practice cheaper because the ammo costs so much less, and less fatiguing because of the lesser blast and recoil. 
  • There are some people who cannot stand much recoil. This includes the elderly and arthritic, and also hale and hearty youngsters who have injured hands or wrists. Martial artists, for example, often injure their wrists. Touching off hot loads in a light .38 after someone has hurt you with an over enthusiastic wrist lock...well, it's not a good use of your time. A .22 is ordinarily not a problem unless the disability is severe indeed.
  • Many shooters keep a reserve of ammunition for a rainy day. The wisdom of this was shown in the ammo shortage of 2009. I would guess that typical shooters have more .22 squirreled away than anything else. I know it's true in my case. It therefore makes good sense to have a carry gun that can shoot this round, just in case you can't get anything hotter.
  • .22LR is the world's most popular cartridge, available wherever ammunition is sold. If you can buy commercial ammunition, even in an out of the way locale, you can find something to load into a .22. A revolver is better than an autoloader because it will  cycle with poor quality ammunition, while a .22 automatic is more finicky. 
Ruger's LCR-22 is, of course, based on their LCR .38 Special. The .22 holds eight shots. The .38 holds five. The LCR's are double action only. I do not see this as a drawback in a defense gun or a trainer for defensive shooting. The LCR design is noted for its smooth and even trigger pull; DA is the only mode you have but it is good DA. Since the .38 LCR seems to be holding up well, and the slightly beefed up .357 Magnum version does too, I conclude an LCR revolver using the .22's trifling power level will stand up to long use indeed.

Insofar as I can tell, there are no speedloaders available for the LCR-22. Perhaps they will be along shortly; the gun is new on the market. You can carry your spare ammo in Tuff QuickStrips if you like.

A good .22 snubnose is pleasant to shoot and easy to carry; in some circumstances, at least, it is even useful.  I think the new Ruger will prove a fine example of the type.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The "Buck and Roy" rifle: Roy Rogers, meet Buck Rogers

The lever action .30-30 is one of the handiest and most useful light rifles ever invented. I now count five manufacturers offering versions of this old weapon and I see it is as popular as ever among hunters of medium-big game.

The great virtue of the .30-30 is its fast handling. It is well balanced and points swiftly and naturally, the mechanism is  quick and simple to operate, and the cartridge does not have so much recoil that it rocks you back on your heels.

The little rifle's chief drawback is the antique, cowboy-style sighting arrangement. The factory sights are all right for backup but they don't give you all the accuracy the rifle has in it. The adjustments are vague and approximate and the sight picture is quaint.

The modern sight that best suits the .30-30, in typical uses, is the red dot. It improves on the rifle's best trait by making the weapon even faster to put on target. To use the dot sight, you look downrange with both eyes focused on the target, just as you would normally look at something. When you raise the rifle, the sight adds an aiming pip to your natural view of your surroundings. Sight picture acquisition is speeded up and your situational awareness is not compromised by peering at the front sight.

Doubtless some purists will take umbrage at the idea of mounting a 21st century sight on a 19th century rifle. They may take all they like, and send a truck for any they can't carry with them. The rifle and sight are very efficient when used together and that is what matters. Roy Rogers' rifle is much improved by a touch of Buck Rogers technology.

In my opinion the dot sight is best mounted aft, over the receiver, instead of forward over the barrel in scout rifle fashion. This mounting makes the dot slightly quicker to acquire, because the opening in the sight is relatively larger in appearance when it is closer to your eye. Once your eye has found the opening you can use the dot; you do not need to center the dot in the sight. I do, however, like to mount the sight far enough forward that it cannot possibly hit me in the eye. I have a tendency to "crawl the stock," so I like the optic far enough forward that it is well out of my way in any shooting position.

A word of caution is in order about red dot sights. There are some putridly bad ones on the market. In part this is because the better brands are being bought up, these days, by the military, reducing the supply and jacking up the price in the private sector. In part it is because some unscrupulous chaps are cashing in on the public's inexperience with this kind of sight, and palming off cheaply made garbage as if it were serviceable gear. I mention this because there are many shooters who are convinced that red dot sights are no good. And they are partially right: The ones they have tried are indeed no good. If the lamp won't stay lit, if the dot isn't bright enough to use on a sunny day, if the adjustments won't hold zero, the problem isn't the concept; the problem is you've been had.

Though unconventional, the match-up of red dot sight and lever carbine is a very good one.  The .30-30's long suit is speed, and so is the red dot's. The two complement each other extraordinarily well. The dot sight is not the best thing for long range work, but the long range specialist probably does not pack a .30-30.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Federal Cartridge's Handy Ballistics Calculator

***UPDATE (2014)*** The link below for 2013 still points to the interactive catalog/calculator, but here is something different. Federal now also offers a general purpose ballistic calculator. You can use it to check up on the behavior of factory cartridges or plug in the values for your own handloads.

***UPDATE (2013)*** The app has moved from its former location on the web. You may now download the current version here:

It is still free and still runs on just Windows. If it goes missing again, try a web search for Federal Interactive Ballistics Catalog. My review from 2011:

This application for the PC has been around for years. It is now more stable and reliable than it was, early on.  By using a point and click interface, you can get the detailed ballistic behavior of any factory cartridge offered by Federal. A clever feature of this app is you can use it to compare the performance of cartridges you select; you get graphs and tables that show your choices plotted against each other.

The interface is a trifle busy looking but after using it for a little while everything is easy to find. Installation was quick and trouble free.

You can input your own parameters for altitude, temperature and wind, and you have your choice of English or metric units of measure. I do not see a way to calculate time of flight, but that is of no interest for most uses. Of course the app lists only Federal products, but the performance of most brands is similar enough that you can get at least an approximation for other products by picking the Federal cartridge most like the one you're wondering about. In all, this is an app worth having if you are at all interested in the flight of your bullets.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Elizabeth Warren's Famous Rant

Elizabeth Warren achieved national fame overnight with some pungent words, widely reported"There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody.

"You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for..."

The rest is quoted below. She makes a powerful appeal in the populist, soak-the-rich tone the White House has been setting. But I find her understanding flawed. It overlooks (or ignores) that before we, the "rest of us," pay for anything, there must be enterprise and profit first of all. Most of us pay taxes out of wages, and wages come ultimately from the existence of profitable enterprises. That is true even of wages paid by the government--since those come out of taxes, and taxes come out of wages, and out of profits.
That has, of course, been true all along and it is true now. The government would have nothing to spend on roads, schools, police or fire fighters if there were no business being done. She has put the cart before the horse.
 She is arguing the status quo, as if it justified more of the same. That is a trifle dangerous: Could not the reverse be argued at least as well? All that is at issue is the amount of profit that should transfer from the private sector to the government. She obviously believes the proportion should increase, but that is not the case she made.
We already have rather considerable levels of taxation and regulatory overhead and business leaders are saying less of that  kind of thing would help them expand their enterprises. To turn Elizabeth Warren's argument on its head for a moment, "You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You already paid, directly or indirectly, for all the government services we have. You paid, by paying the wages the rest of us earned, for the roads, for the taxes we paid to educate our children, for the cops and firemen. What that didn't cover you paid for directly, through business taxes and fees and all the rest. God bless--keep an even bigger hunk of it, so you can do even more business. Grow the economy, employ more of your neighbors, build a thriving economy in which we all may benefit. We can struggle along with less government spending, somehow."
Of course she's saying the opposite. What she is doing is a little too clever, arguing the obvious as if it supported her case. You're not supposed to notice that.

"I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.' No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody.
You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did.
Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

Sunday, October 23, 2011

More Rule Four -- a death this time

This story out of Oregon is a tragic one, a young life snuffed out in a failure to apply Rule Four: Be sure of your target and what is beyond your target.

I remarked on a similar story just last month. To repeat: It is hard to imagine how you are going to have a shooting misadventure if you internalize the Four Rules pertaining to gun safety and always hold yourself to them.

If you do not know what the rules are, or have forgotten them--if you cannot repeat them off the top of your head--lock away your gun until you can recite them, with feeling.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

How to reduce defense spending

The U.S. started out without a large standing army and with militia units under state authority, that could be transferred into federal service at need. The idea was to avoid the risks to liberty, and the expense, of having a lot of armed federal employees trampling about.

Militia defense is a robust system. No one fights harder than someone defending his own turf. We saw this, for example, in the Second World War. The Japanese defending Japanese territory, on Iwo Jima and Okinawa, were reported by those on our side to be the damnedest thing you ever saw. These Japanese were regulars, in a national army, not militia, but the feeling--as reported from their side--was it was now personal. Other examples, from other countries, may come to mind.

Switzerland has a good example of a modern militia system. Their stance has long been one of neutrality backed by good riflemen. It seems to have worked very well: They have managed to stay out of the wars for a long time, with obvious benefits. Peace and prosperity generally go hand in hand.

The drawback of this kind of system is it is no good for conducting large scale wars abroad. I do not see this as a great drawback, for the world has not exactly fallen over itself thanking America for our foreign wars. Going back to a militia system would require a shift in emphasis to territorial defense. That idea is perhaps a little bit scary, as it might lead to war in our own streets, not someone else's. But if we are really clever about it, like the Swiss, we are unlikely to need to fight. Their habits of being financially welcoming, politically neutral and stubbornly independent are things we might advantageously consider.

The unpleasant solution to the public benefits problem

Social welfare schemes have a built-in tendency to grow and multiply, as politicians discover it is in their interest to expand them, and add new ones. Recipients of public largess tend--understandably--to support parties, politicians and programs that deliver the benefits.

If we want to know how all this ends we need look no farther afield than the countries of the Euro zone. Greece is the first to crack under the strain of debts it cannot pay; it will not be the last. Here in the United States are not at the breaking point yet but we are getting there. We are making the same mistake; we are spending money we do not have. Of course it seems like a good idea at first to dole out benefits at public expense, but there is a very considerable downside. It is  difficult to shrink social spending, a process that amounts to clawing back benefits from people who have become accustomed to think they deserve them.

Indeed, the United States' highly touted welfare reform under Clinton did not lead to permanent reductions in welfare spending; the total outlay has instead increased, when you consider all programs combined.

Well, if that isn't going to work there is another solution, which is to do nothing, or give lip service to the idea of reform while making only small cosmetic changes, and let the costs run up. That can't go on forever, but it will eventually solve the problem, when everyone wakes up and sees they are redistributing less pie as time goes on. When there is no more pie the situation will obviously require fresh consideration. I don't know if anything less than that--a large scale economic breakdown--will be sufficient to prompt reconsideration of the basic dynamic: social programs are easy to grow, difficult to shrink.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The 'Hands Off My Department' Department

In this article the IRS commissioner claims that cutting his operating budget would be disastrous. Where have we heard that before? Why, we hear it every time anyone proposes cutting any spending in Washington. Can't be done! Preposterous! Impossible! It would wreck the economy or be cruel to the least fortunate, or something.

It happens every single time! A government spending cut is proposed and then the howling starts--oh no, you must not cut this. So you move along to the next thing, only to be told you can't cut that, either. Or the other thing! It ends up in a big double shuffle in which you're told you can't cut anything. At all. Ever. At least nothing serious--maybe the Marines have too much coffee money. Take it up with them.

The Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner opposes cuts for Puerto Rico.
“I recognize the need to reduce our nation’s deficit in a thoughtful and deliberate manner. But, as a recent editorial stated, ‘these are the wrong cuts, to the wrong programs, at the wrong time,’ said the Resident Commissioner in a statement he submitted for the Congressional Record.

Okay, Mr. Commissioner. Give us a call when it's the right time for you, and let us know what programs you want cut. You know--when it's convenient.

A suggestion to trim the Federal Aviation Administration budget was shot down by opponents who said it would hinder economic growth and was dangerous.

I can never find a story where the response is, "Why sure, cut our budget if you like; we're mostly useless in this department, anyway."

Could every government project we are funding be all that valuable? I guess so! To hear them tell it in Washington, not only do all projects need doing, we shouldn't propose to do them for less money. It's the wrong time. Dangerous. Disastrous. Or cruel. They all say it, so it must be true.

Just for fun: Search Google for "opposes budget cuts."

Monday, October 10, 2011

The invisible hand is clutching our throat

The economy is on everybody's mind these days. No one, aside from a few professionals, thinks about the economy when it is good. It's like your health: You only think of it when you are sick. Here are a few thoughts that are rattling around in my head, these days.

1. The bailouts were categorically mistaken. When businesses fail they should collapse. This is as natural, and as necessary, as fallen leaves providing mulch for the forest floor. When businesses fail in the normal and proper way, the people who take the losses are those who invested in questionable schemes and the rest of us get off scot free. New opportunities are created for new businesses that will seek to avoid the mistakes of their predecessors. This leads to improved business practices and a better economy over time, but of course that only works if people bear their own risks and take their own losses.

2. I knew just what was wrong when I heard Dubya gabbling about violating free market principles to save the free market.  I knew we were doing something stupid and self defeating. There would have been severe short-term disruptions in the economy if nothing had been done. So we traded that for long drawn out suffering with no end in sight. That was not an intelligent tradeoff.  We should have taken our medicine--ridden out the crash, then gotten on with our lives and rebuilding the economy.

3. But, having committed ourselves to the course of bailouts and takeovers and 'quantitative easing' (over my objections) we are now stuck with it. If we could claw back the TARP money and all the rest, the same thing would happen that the government's interference was meant to avert, the collapse of some firms that are called too big to fail and short term disruptions to the  delivery of goods and services. There is some reason to suppose the crunch would be worse now than it would have been had it occurred a few years back, for we are now maxed out on public debt.

4. We have at best postponed the inevitable reckoning. At worst, we have distorted the economy in ways that assure a Greater Depression. I am not an economist. I have some measure of business experience and it has taught me to respect the 'invisible hand' economists talk about. TANSTAAFL! Instead of dealing with our problems in ways that honestly confronted over-valued assets and runaway debt, we have masked the underlying problem with more debt. So far as I can see, the present economic policy is composed entirely of moonbeams.We can't get traction for a real recovery because we won't face the real problems.

5. I used to think it was neat being a fiscal conservative because in the long term, anyway, you are always right, regardless. If people do stupid things with money it will catch up with them. This is true when great nations or big companies do it, just as it is true for individuals. Now I'm not feeling so good about being right--it's all right to be smug when you have money, but I don't.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The real Greek crisis

In this article, AP's Christopher Torchia gives us a somber reflective look at Greece's economic situation, and sums up with some words from Aristotle on the seductiveness of riches. I like the article but the author quotes the wrong ancient Greek. Aesop's story of the goose that laid gold eggs is more apropos.

Greece's problem is government took too much out of the economy to give to too many people for too many reasons. Greece is not the only country that is doing this and it won't be the only one to fail economically because of it. They are going first because they have relatively a small and weak economy. The others will succumb by and by.

The idea of paying people with their own money is so preposterous that, like the big lie, it escapes immediate detection.  In the long term, of course, truth comes out whether we like it or not.

Æsop. (Sixth century B.C.)  Fables.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
The Goose With the Golden Egg
ONE day a countryman going to the nest of his Goose found there an egg all yellow and glittering. When he took it up it was as heavy as lead and he was going to throw it away, because he thought a trick had been played upon him. But he took it home on second thoughts, and soon found to his delight that it was an egg of pure gold. Every morning the same thing occurred, and he soon became rich by selling his eggs. As he grew rich he grew greedy; and thinking to get at once all the gold the Goose could give, he killed it and opened it only to find,—nothing.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Science versus religion? Ah, go on with you!

People who assert that science trumps religion are making an error in reasoning. It is a subtle error but serious.

Science has for its basis the philosophical idea called naturalism. (Consider science's former name, "natural philosophy.") Naturalism is the assumption that we will explain what we observe without reference to gods, devils, ghosts or  fairy godmothers. What can repeatedly be observed and measured is the whole scope of discussion. It is a good and useful assumption: It has been a great help, in bygone times, in sorting out received superstitions from actual facts about the natural world. It has also led, in our era, to progress in finding ways to manipulate the world around us: new medicines and materials and machines and marvels galore. (It has also brought us atom bombs, gas warfare and unintended consequences like drug resistant bacteria and ways to die by accident that no one a century or two ago had heard of or imagined.)

Naturalism, though a very useful assumption, is an assumption. That is what we must not forget. By ruling out the supernatural, science can now say nothing about it. It must remain silent on such matters, because the grounds of discussion selected by science have fenced them out.

When you hear science argued as if it contradicts or disproves religious beliefs, the assumption about no gods or devils is being regurgitated as a conclusion. That is not good logic; it is an empty tautology.

The problem is not in logic itself, nor is it a flaw in science. It is a matter of exceeding one's warrant. We know logic is no bar to religious thought; some highly logical theologies show us that. We need a different starting point, that's all: for example, the assumption that the Bible describes reality as it exists beyond our everyday experience.  From a truly scientific viewpoint, that assumption is, at best, true but irrelevant. At worst it is false and irrelevant. But science is powerless to say which. How can it?

Divine revelation is a miraculous matter. A miracle, by definition, is not an everyday occurrence, but a one-off event. It is not repeatably measurable. (Notice the same is true if you do not believe in miracles.) But science relies on repeatability of observations and measurements. Something miraculous is, by definition, an exception to the usual order of things. That puts it outside what science can investigate. Science is formally incapable of passing judgment here; it hasn't the tools.

The explanation the Bible offers, for the events it recounts, is inherently outside the naturalistic assumption of no supernatural factors. A scientist can say, quite rightly, that he can't investigate that, using only the rules science gives him. He may say more if he likes, but not as a scientist.


Addendum: A scientist objected to this line of thinking by saying science does not exclude the supernatural. Science can investigate whatever it likes, by an iterative process of observation and description. I am sure he missed the point about miracles being exceptional events, rather than being part of the fixed patterns of the world's operation. There is no predictability to miracles, in the sense that making a study predicting what will happen, and when, will do you no good whatever. There is no opportunity for independent verification by repeating the event and no chance to reproduce the event for further examination.

The example I gave my scientist friend was that of Ezekiel. Christianity and Judaism say that Ezekiel received elaborate visions that revealed things about the purposes of God. It does us no good today to stand where Ezekiel stood and wonder when the next show starts. We have Ezekiel's account and that is that.

Naturalism's unannounced assumption is that the world follows fixed patterns that can repeatedly be observed. It does not deal in exceptions to this rule. I find it interesting that so many scientists feel compelled to speak, mainly in the negative, about religion; it is a subject area that their field of study is unequipped to consider at all.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rule Four in San Francisco

Every shooting misadventure I hear about involves violation of at least one of the Four Rules of gun safety.

In this story from the Chronicle, cops in San Francisco shot at a suspect, missed, and hit two bystanders. This shows us the reason for Rule Four,  Be sure of your target and what is beyond your target.

To the obvious question, "What were the officers thinking," the obvious answer is, "They weren't."

The suspect was uninjured.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fair Play To Obama

I do not believe claims that Obama is intentionally working to tank the American economy, by following the radical Cloward-Piven strategy. I am no fan of Obama but this seems to me an unwarranted charge. For it to be true, we would have to prove the same against all the European heads of state. Europe has the same kinds of problems we do: The governments spend too much, borrow too much and lack the political courage to make changes that are big enough to amount to more than halfway efforts at reform.

Since Europe has the same problems, we would need a worldwide conspiracy theory to explain why all the governments are headed by Cloward-Piven radicals. It's ridiculous.

What Europe and America are finding out is that government programs for social welfare--public solutions to private problems--are double whammy poison. These programs suck money out of the production economy. At the same time they take labor out of the economy, to the extent that people take government money instead of working for the things they need. When a good intention has two bad effects, we ought to reconsider whether the intention is as good as it seems.

The recipients of government largess are not the whole problem, though. We have too many government workers, busy about too many affairs and costing us far too much. Recognize this quote? It's from the Declaration of Independence. "He [King George III] has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance."

Of course there will always be some people who must live on charity, for they can be nothing else, the very crippled, the profoundly retarded, the thoroughly insane, the deathly ill, the very old. That has always been so. It is not at issue, and that is where the issue sometimes becomes confused. Here or abroad, any talk of cutting and eliminating programs is met by hand-wringing references to throwing these truly helpless people, friendless, into the streets to die. This is always a straw man argument, for no one suggests doing that.

It is sometimes said that we cannot cut social payments to the rest of the recipients either, or the poor will riot. Many attribute the recent disturbances in England to plans to reduce payouts.  But there is something odd about this whole line reasoning. If the poor are hale and hearty enough to riot they are fit enough to work at steady jobs.

But--it may be said--that's heartless! There aren't jobs for them!

And why are there not? Economies with high ratios of public spending to GDP have chronic unemployment, or low growth, which is the same thing. So it becomes a vicious cycle in which the poor do not have work because government has become inclusive of everyone's needs.

So, no, Obama isn't a secret radical intent on destroying the economy. He is simply in a trap that he can't figure a way out of, and he is not alone.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Snitch Watch

The Obama administration has launched a new web site where right-minded followers can report media, net traffic and rumors unfavorable to the Prez:

This begs the question of how you tell an "attack" from the usual, and necessary, debate that happens in elections. Is it an attack to say Obama is massively confused on basic issues to do with the economy? Or is that a legitimate thing to say, if you think it?

The attackers featured on the site today include rival candidates Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, and broadcaster Glenn Beck. You can also click a link to get "the facts," such as:

By providing assistance to auto companies, President Obama saved more than a million jobs and prevented the American auto industry from collapsing.

The Affordable Care Act promotes quality, affordable health coverage for all Americans, regardless of the industry they work in or their union status.

I hope this is all transparent to American voters: It is an attempt to put a patina of truth and fairness atop the same old spin doctoring. It has a worrisome aspect, though, despite its apparent silliness. It invites Obama supporters to be snitches: To point the finger at fellow Americans for saying things which they have, last I checked, every right to say. This new effort at election spin resembles, though in a half assed way, the 'official truth' of totalitarian regimes. Good Obama supporters will go to the web site to find out what to think when they hear something that confuses them; the Orwellian note in all this is clear, but muted by overtones of farce.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Train Wreck America

The country's financial course is unsustainable. The way I visualize it is as a train on a track. We need to get off the track we are on, and switch onto another. Yet we continue to rumble past the switches that could head us toward safety, as government shows a lack of political will to do what is necessary to live within its means, which means within our means. Washington continues to spend money nobody has.

Representative Maxine Waters, long a proponent of generous government spending, is now calling for a trillion dollar jobs program. She is one of the most vocal proponents of a particular vision of government: To right wrongs and solve problems, the government must spend money. Lots of it.

She is not alone; there are many who share this vision, of a world where things are put to rights by the strong hand of government intervention, including the wielding of vast sums of public money.

I am not sure what Rep. Waters would say to it, but some of her fellow liberals plainly believe something like this: The reason stimulus spending has failed is that we have not done enough of it. The reason previous jobs programs have been failures, to the point of being ridiculous, is that we have gone too cheap on them. That is to say we should throw good money after bad. The money spent did not have its intended effect; the answer is to spend more. It doesn't make sense to me, but then I am not a member of congress.

What Republicans have done so far is not encouraging either. They have staved off a small tax increase and slightly slowed the increase in government spending. Of course, this made the Democrats howl like it was the end of the world, but it really was peanuts when you compare it to the total size of the problem. After the 2012 elections the Republicans hope to have more clout. They may have a great deal more. But even in the past years of their ascendancy they have not really been about shrinking the government.

The people we elect to look out for our interests, of both parties, are asleep at the switch. There is not the moral courage on either side of the aisle to say stop, enough, we are on the wrong track. The government is spending money the taxpayers do not have and may never be able to repay. If you think about this you know where things are heading: Right where they've been going all along. We are headed for the end of the line, and picking up speed.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Problem With Being Right

The awkward thing about being a fiscal conservative, these days, is I'm right whatever anyone says. The old order, in Washington, passeth away. So also the state governments, city councils and borough banditries. Either they run a much tighter ship, on all fronts of government spending, and shrink in proportion to the money that can be allotted them, or else governments are going to go broke. They are reenacting the old story of the goose that laid golden eggs.

It's an awkward time because I like the part about having being right all along, but on the other hand I dread the consequences when irate grannies riot in the streets because the Social Security checks didn't show up--older folk  can be quite spry for a little while if we take plenty of aspirin along with caffeine. More immediate dangers arise when the urban poor, who have been funded for so long by social welfare schemes that it now seems their right to continue to be so, decide to stir things up a bit. England lately had riots over small cuts in welfare entitlements--England, the land that gave us the very definitions of staid and stolid, and boring. What shall happen here, in the Home of the Brave?

I have suggested elsewhere that government bailouts of failing businesses--Wall Street, automotive or anything else--are categorically mistaken. Bailouts remove the disincentive for bad decision making and thus poison the marketplace. The bad decisions continue and the ground is not cleared for newer and smarter businesses.

"Too big to fail" translates to "Too inept and inefficient to make it, without special favors." I see a problem there. I actually see more than one.  The biggest one is it is not government's mandated role to pick winners and losers, that is, to take someone else's business losses and assign them to me and my fellow taxpayers, as our losses. The losses ought belong to those who stood to profit. That is the way our system of business works: by taking your chances, with the best ideas you have. It will not work on another basis. There is a system of government that wraps itself around the affairs of business, but it is a different system, with a different name and an odious history.

Our military spending problem--and here is a truly revolutionary idea--may be reduced by moving to a stance of territorial defense, using a system of local militias, cashiering our large standing armies, and using only small expeditions abroad. It does not cost a lot. It is effective because everyone fights hardest for his own turf. Let us be determinedly neutral, financially welcoming and a bit hard to read: You know, like the Swiss. Some will object that the USA will then no longer be the world's superpower. But I cannot see what being a superpower has gotten us. The world's thanks and love?

Like us, the Swiss passed through a period as military arbitrators of other people's squabbles: They were outsiders who came in on one side or the other. The Swiss got over doing that. I do not say their motives in going to war were better or worse than ours, but they thought of a better course at some point and followed it.

Let us be a superpower in inventions and industry, finance and agriculture. Let us maintain a stubborn independence from the rest of the world. Some of the world seems to have trouble with basic civilized ideas like honest voting, toilet paper and sensible budgets. Perhaps these are matters for them to work out for themselves.

We knew about sensible government budgets once. It's nothing we can't relearn. It will take a good deal of relearning, maybe the hard way. The President is taking a luxury vacation on Martha's Vineyard, playing golf.  The real America is keeping the country going with duct tape and baling wire. We are boiling the dog for dinner, while government expenditures pass any record in the history of the world.

We still can come to our senses. We can return to the common sense that made us formerly great. Earn more than you spend, save and invest, think of new products and services and farm the good earth. These are the American ideas. The rest of the world has little to offer America: We, still, today, have everything to offer it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

In The Belly of the Goose

What the European riots are about, at bottom, seems clear. The social welfare state is unsustainable and its clients are feeling that keenly. The recipients of various benefits need more largess from the government: more, though, is not to be had. They need more because in the present economic climate of inflation and unemployment and little growth, the dole doesn't go as far as it used to. While I was not the first to guess the direction things would take, I was accurate at least. If you rob Peter to pay Paul, Peter goes broke eventually, and then Paul turns rebel.

It's not only happening in Europe. We are beginning to get reports from America of the disaffected and disadvantaged acting out in similar ways. There is not a lot of press coverage: an incident at the Wisconsin State Fair, some peculiar events in Philadelphia. More incidents are, doubtless, coming soon.

The Western democracies are discovering the fundamental error in their thinking about social welfare spending. In America, the idea that we could promote tranquility by making payments to  the urban poor has long been questioned. We cannot get rid of the system, however, because it comes with its own built-in voting block of supporters, consisting of those who get the benefits, and it has another block of supporters, at least as dedicated: those who think "redistributive justice" (to use Obama's term) is somehow the fair and kindly thing, and not to do it is cruel.

Of course, we now see that the supposed moral questions are moot, since the system of social welfare spending must collapse under its own weight. We have done no favor to those whose expectation in life is that the government charity check will always be there--for it won't.

The elderly, who receive old age pensions through Social Security--well no one worries about them, so much, because old people do not riot in the streets, as a general rule. But of course they are prone to vote against cuts to Social Security. "Hey! I paid in all my life. Where's mine!?" If they were given the real answer to their question, they might take to the streets, old or no; Tylenol works wonders, for a little while.

So what we have, looking at welfare, Social Security and the myriad of other social benefit programs, is a system of payments that cannot endure and which we are unable to stop. We have bumped up against Stein's Law in one of its uglier manifestations. If you prefer old stories to modern maxims, we have become actors in a retelling of Aesop's story of the goose that laid gold eggs.

There is no help for it. The idea is too firmly entrenched: Government should draw money out of the productive economy, to help the poor. It is a thing thoroughly believed by all the deeply caring liberals and by nearly all the beneficiaries  of social programs.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Troubling statistics -- Gov't workers abound

I have written previously about the excessive growth of government and the economic hazards that poses. I now read that government workers--state, local and federal combined--outnumber those employed in all these private sector areas, combined: 

  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Farming
  • Fishing
  • Forestry
  • Mining
  • Utilities 
As the author of this article points out, the takers outnumber the makers.

Now, looking around, it seems to me that we are up to our elbows in various government functionaries and we have laws and rules and forms in triplicate for every occasion. The cost and scope of government have grown beyond anything envisioned by the nation's founders or ratified by the people. 

The good news is our excess of government will collapse of its own weight, if we do not manage to rein it in, for things economically unsustainable do not continue. The bad news is the same. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Free shooting lessons from experts

Here are manuals from the U.S. Marine Corps on how to shoot the rifle and the pistol. The Marines have been thinking carefully about practical shooting since 1775, and have developed some rather definite opinions on how it should be done. The manuals linked here assume use of the M16A2 rifle and the M9 pistol, but the how-to information is adaptable to any rifle or pistol.

The lessons are also adaptable to any use of the rifle or pistol afield, not necessarily in warfare. Being quick, accurate, using a steady position and so on won't hurt your chances if you're just after rabbits with a .22.

The links go to sizable PDF files and may take a while to load.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Random Press Items

Since D.C.'s handgun ban ended, well-heeled residents have become well armed

This Washington Post story gives some good insights on gun ownership in D.C., but cannot avoid a bit of liberal whine tasting: Well heeled residents register more guns than the poor. (I wonder if WaPo intended the pun: Well heeled, get it?)

From the other end of the country: Hawaiian Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Ban Sales of Toy Guns To Children.

Maybe the idea is, when they grow up they'll be used to the idea. Guns = bad, m'kay?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Polymer cartridge cases for centerfire rifles!?

PCP rifle ammo is not available in the stores yet, but it promises the performance of brass case ammo with less weight. The makers say they have got the bugs worked out. They claim a new, patent-pending process. I hope this stuff really works, because there are several circumstances where lighter ammo would be a Good Thing.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Free Ebook --The American Rifle by Townsend Whelen (1918)

So begins Townsend Whelen's 1918 book, The American Rifle.  You can read or download it free at Google Books; click here. It is more than 600 pages long. It covers so much that it is more nearly like an encyclopedia than a recreational read. A look at the table of contents will give some idea what I mean.

This book was the current info as of the year 1918. There have been advances since then. The powders, primers and optical sights are better now. Some actions are in use today that were undreamed of back then. But it is curious how much of the information and reasoning still stands up. It is also interesting that some favorite rifles from those days are still used and enjoyed today. (Others have long gone by the wayside.)

There is a chapter of more than 100 pages giving the details of rifle models in use at the time. The descriptions are accompanied by illustrations, cutaway views and instructions for taking each rifle apart. Rifles covered include the wares of Remington, Winchester, Savage and Marlin, and some also-rans like Ross and Newton. Here's what Whelen has to say about one of my favorites, the Winchester '94:

That's a pretty thorough run-down, I'd say.

The section on cartridge reloading covers the use of a tong tool to resize case necks. Some people still use
those, but bench-mounted presses able to resize the full length of the cartridge case are more popular today. The book's lessons in taking a cautious and conservative approach to handloading are still fully applicable today. (Don't try to use the antique loading data from the book, though; get a modern and up to date reloading manual.) The instructions on casting, sizing and lubing your own bullets are practical, coming from the era when casting bullets was a common practice; the details are well covered.

There is, of course, much more besides, covered in the same thorough and matter of fact style. Some of it is obsolete information and quaint, unless one wishes, for hobbyist reasons, to understand authentic old methods such as loading a Schuetzen style cartridge rifle from the muzzle end (Chapter XX).

Much of the book is still fully up to date in its thinking, if some of the tools and weapons have changed. I particularly enjoy Chapter XLI, The Rifle in the Wilderness. It is filled with advice such as this:

This sounds to me like the kind of advice old timers sometimes pass along--think of this book as a very long visit with an old timer. This book is a historical snapshot of rifle shooting as it existed in the distant days when some riflemen were legends and all of them wanted to be. Thanks to the Internet and Google Books, it is free. You can read it online or download a PDF. That link, again, is:

Free Ebook, Whelen's The American Rifle

If you fall in love with this book and decide you have to have it in a bound printed copy, here are some options:

The American Rifle (Original, first edition)
The American Rifle: A Treatise, A Text Book, And A Book Of Practical Instruction In The Use Of The Rifle (1918)
The American Rifle; A Treatise, a Text Book, and a Book of Practical Instruction in the Use of the Rifle
The American Rifle
The American Rifle: A Treatise, a Text Book. and a Book of Practical Instruction in the Use of the Rifle (Special Edition for The Firearms Classics Library)
The American Rifle: A Treatise, a Text Book, and a Book of Practical Information in the Use of the Rifle

Monday, January 17, 2011

What became of my muttons?

I got led somewhat away from my muttons by the latest political crapfling. I like to run mostly gun tech content on this blog but sometimes I get distracted. Stay tuned for something very techy but sorta vintage at the same time, coming up shortly.

I thought I'd say that so I wouldn't lose readers, due to people thinking, gee whiz, he's turned into another gun politics guy--where's the nuts & bolts stuff?

False gun-control solutions

Tucson and gun control: False gun-control solutions after Tucson - "After Tucson shooting, ineffectual solutions abound"

The above is a pretty good article about the paucity of good ideas from the gun banners. It is from the Chicago Tribune and written by Steve Chapman. Apparently, some people in Chicago get it.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cool the rhetoric? Leftist, heal thyself

Media Research Center Documents Liberal Death Wishes Against Conservatives | " – The Media Research Center released today a list of comments made by members of the media in recent years that call for the death or suffering of conservative leaders. These quotes are evidence of the double standard that certain media exercise in blaming conservatives for the shooting in Tucson, Ariz., while ignoring liberals’ death-wish-like rhetoric against conservatives, said the organization in a press release. [...]"

'Do as I say, not as I do."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The New Magazine Ban Bill

Carolyn McCarthy unveils gun-control bill - Shira Toeplitz -

“The only purpose for the existence of these devices is to be able to shoot as many people as possible as quickly as possible,” McCarthy wrote in a letter to her colleagues that accompanied the bill. “There is no reason that these devices should be available to the general public.”

Here Congresswoman McCarthy makes a fundamental mistake. The general public should have gun parity, more or less, with what the bad guys are using. We do not want the good people outgunned by the bad people. Oddly enough, the bad guys often manage to get whatever they want, no matter what the laws say.

The armed citizen should have normal capacity magazines of more than ten rounds for the same reason the cops have them. These magazines are good for stopping bad guys.

Let us suppose (for one possible example) that my home is invaded by multiple gang members, armed to the teeth and intent on doing me grave harm or killing me. Here I do indeed want to "shoot as many people as quickly as possible," and my cause is legally justified. Deadly assailants may take several shots apiece before they go down, and I, like anyone, am likely to miss some of my shots under deadly pressure, so, plenty of shots on hand is good. An empty gun in that situation is not good.

Plenty of ammo is also needed when shots are being traded from behind cover. Other scenarios could be raised in which more ammo is better than less and the context is justifiable self defense.

The proposed ban on normal capacity magazines of over ten rounds reaches once again into the laundry list of pending anti-gun proposals the left always brings out when there is a high profile shooting. This measure was tried before and did no good, but here it is again. Can anyone explain?

Remember: When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sarah Palin's notorious target map...and one from the Democrats

See: Blog O'Stuff: According to Leftists ...

The above link takes you to an awesome blog post. Voices on the left are decrying Sarah Palin's campaign target map and suggesting it drove Arizona nutcase Jared Loughner to commit murder. Oddly enough, though, this map has drawn no comment from the lefties.

More? You can see a thorough rundown on recent use by Democrats of targeting maps on the Verum Serum blog.

Sarah Palin responds to the Arizona shooting

See: Sarah Palin: America's Enduring Strength | Facebook

Sarah Palin weighs in on the Arizona shooting and the ensuing call from the left to curb political discourse. I'm not backing her for prez, but her heart's in the right place.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Predictably, calls for more gun control

See: MSNBC's Richard Lui: 'Is It Time to Rethink the 2nd Amendment?' |

It's predictable as rain and barometers. After every high-profile shooting the call goes up for more anti-gun laws. The words echo with the pious zeal of social reform, but what we are presented with is merely the next item on the laundry list of restrictions the left has promoted for years. In this case it is the return of a measure that was tried before, did nothing useful, and was rolled back with the end of the Assaulty-Looking Weapons Ban.

I would think there is a good deal of cynicism involved when the left sounds like true believers in a noble cause, though the measures promoted are not known to have any impact on misuse of guns by criminals or the deranged, but do hamper the rights of the law abiding. That, I think, is the point--to harass and denigrate 'the gun culture.' The aim is to take and exercise power over people who are doing something the left doesn't much like, arming themselves. It's simple bullying. That is at least all I can figure out. If the point were really to reduce misuse of guns, more sensible ideas could be put forward.

It's time we blamed the hand, not the gun. In my previous post I suggested the mental healthcare community has let us down by not pushing anymore for commitment and adjudication. These legal proceedings are red flags that someone is off his rocker and trigger a prohibition on owning guns. Ah, but heaven forbid we now send some lunatic to a "snake pit," or put something in the public record that might embarrass him.

The law as written prevents adjudicated mental defectives and committed inmates of asylums from receiving guns, and the background check system now detects those people as a rule. But the system assumes the shrinks play their part, and make public the dangers certain people pose 'to self and others.'

Intervention, though, has become a dirty word, and commitment something to be avoided instead of promoted. Present day, politically correct psychiatric practices need to be reconsidered. The law is impotent to stop the lunatic who remains under the legal radar.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Crazy man with a gun

Our national laws prohibit gun ownership by the insane. That is, the laws prohibit adjudicated mental defectives and those committed involuntarily to mental institutions from possessing or receiving firearms. This was good enough in 1968, when that provision took its present form.

Something has since changed in the way society deals with the hopelessly out of touch. Institutionalizing the insane is now often seen as inhumane and it is seldom done. The lesser measure of having them declared mentally defective in a hearing is seen as intrusion on the patient's privacy. It is now rare for health professionals to suggest commitment proceedings or court hearings to establish mental state. What changed, exactly?

In a fit of social zeal, crusaders for the good cause du jour labeled mental institutions as "snake pits" and decried conditions there. Mental hospitals were portrayed as hell on earth. The do-gooder campaign against institutionalization was successful. Emphasis shifted away from identifying crazy people and putting them away, to letting them go, and leaving them alone, or medicating them and hoping for the best.

Our laws for keeping crazy people from getting guns were sensible enough, back when we knew who the crazy people were and where to find them. If the address on your yellow sheet was "Happy Acres State Home," you didn't get the gun.

Today, if someone is insane, it is less likely to be apparent from public records. I attribute this to the trend toward leaving the deranged person in society and not seeking a) adjudication of his mental state or b) commitment. These legal processes formerly established when someone was a) nuts or b) nuts and furthermore needed to be kept apart.

The assumption in back of the 1968 framing of the law was that mental health professionals would do their jobs and flag those who had some sort of dangerously debilitating problem. Doing so was routine practice; it isn't any more. It was a part of the profession's presumed role in society but they got away from doing it. Somehow they transcended the idea that one very important role of the mental health system is to identify nut cases and keep them off the street.

I'm sure the reasons were grounded in compassion. Showing someone to be mentally incompetent impacted his ability to form contracts, and to get credit. It harmed his job opportunities, and had other ramifications in addition to making him unable to get a gun. It was kinder, gentler psychology not to draw attention to the sufferer's problems--not to 'out' the patient, as it were. But by showing this supposed kindness and compassion to the deranged, the shrinks have let down the rest of us. The law of unintended consequences, which seems particularly apt to strike when do-gooders are involved, strikes again.

I do not know as yet just what involvement, if any, mental health professionals had in the life of Jared Lee Loughner, the fellow who did those shootings in Arizona the other day. Here, though, we have a clear case of someone who was certifiable but not certified. He should not have had a gun. That's obvious enough, in hindsight, but the dealer had no way of knowing it. Presumably, Loughner refrained from deranged and sinister behavior while he was in the gun store, but he had displayed a good deal of it previously.

John Hinckley, who shot Ronald Reagan, had a mental health history. So did Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter. These high profile cases prompt the question, how often does it happen that some other crazy man with a gun does a shooting that does not get high profile coverage? The high profile cases may be only a part of the story.

I think it's time the mental health community reevaluated its present, hands-off stance on commitments and interventions. Hint: You had it right before. If you know someone is a danger to others, you owe it to your fellow citizens to act on that knowledge; this must be considered in parallel with your concern for compassion toward the mentally ill.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Barry Noreen: Concealed carry permits haven't caused problems in Colorado Springs (Co. Springs Gazette)

Since 2007, the number of concealed-carry permits in El Paso County has more than doubled, but there has not been a corresponding jump in gun violence by the permit holders.
You can believe whatever you want, but at some point it comes down to results, and nothing suggests that life here has become more dangerous because of concealed-carry permits... READ MORE...


The why of the scout rifle

The point of a scout rifle is its versatility. It will do, fairly well at least, as a mountain rifle, plains rifle, brush gun, camp gun, ranch rifle or tactical carbine. There are various rifles that will do any one of these things better, but that is not the point. The point is to get away from specialization, of the kind that requires a safe full of rifles. The scout rifle's lack of extraordinary ability in any area is compensated somewhat by the user's greater familiarity with it, if he really does use it as intended, using it for everything, instead of dividing his time among a collection of rifles. "Beware the man with one gun."

That is the matter as I understand it. The scout rifle concept would catch on quicker if there weren't all those millions of lever .30-30's already out there,  giving good service. For a long while the lever gun was the most versatile light rifle going, and in some minds it still is. It is a hard sell to convince the .30-30 man that he needs something better. He fills his game tags just fine with the lever action, and so did his father and grandfather. Any number of bad men have been run off with the old gun, or something worse happened to them. As a utility rifle around ranch or farm, and as a camp and cabin gun, it has been a favorite for a long time because of its handiness and reliability.

To sum up my thoughts on how the two guns compare, the lever gun is quicker, though its advantage can be reduced somewhat if the bolt gunner is well practiced and understands fast bolt work. The scout wins in range, power, accuracy and speed of reloading. (All the currently offered factory-built scouts, Steyr, Savage and Ruger, load with detachable magazines.)

To me the important difference is you get more reach--useful range--with a .308 bolt gun, due to its flatter trajectory, improved downrange energy and (usually) better accuracy. The .30-30 is perhaps the greatest woods and brush gun of all, but is not at its best for longer shots.

Another gun getting in the way of scout rifle sales is the AR-15. It is vastly popular, and deservedly so. It is light to carry. Its excellent ergonomics and light recoil make it easy to shoot and its accuracy is usually very fine. Here what the scout can boast of is more power, pure and simple. It cannot boast about its rate of fire.

The AR-15's .223 cartridge is decidedly substandard for hunting game larger than medium-small, and in many jurisdictions is not allowed for the purpose. The great variety of loadings for the.308 cartridge makes the scout  vastly more versatile afield. There are varmint loads for the .308 but no moose loads for the .223. So while the AR-15 may be the best thing ever for rural pest control and has few equals as an urban carbine, it may be criticized for its small caliber.

Rapid firing for close range personal defense is a very strong suit for the AR-15 and it is the scout rifle's weakest area. I would rate the .30-30 somewhere in between the two, for this use; it is better balanced and shaped for snap shooting than the AR-15 but cycles slower and kicks more.

The scout comes in last of the three. But the scout is not useless, by any means, for fast close shooting. Learning the "Tommy finger" technique may add to your confidence in the scout for close quarters use. The "goblin cap" accessory is helpful for aiming. Though the scout comes in last for this particular use, it will do some other things neither of the other rifles does satisfactorily. Other lightweight, compact rifles can be compared to the scout with similar results--better in some ways, but not in all ways. Of course! That's the idea.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Kel Tec Bullpup Shotgun

Kel Tec's new shotgun bears a certain resemblance to the South African Neostead design. It is a short bullpup with dual magazine tubes. It is NFA legal but no longer than it needs to be to achieve that. Operation is pump action. The gun is liberally festooned with Picatinny rail, so you can suit yourself in regard to sights and lights.

I post fairly often about scout rifles and the general purpose rifle question, but basically I'm a shotgun kinda guy. A good 12 gauge will solve most shooting problems that you can't hide from, which are the kinds you absolutely must solve.

A bullpup configuration makes sense because of its compactness. The action parts are relocated back into the stock so the overall length is reduced. We'll see if this idea catches on. Other U.S. manufacturers have tried it, and not gotten very far, but they were working with adaptations of conventional shotguns, while the Kel Tec is designed from scratch to be a bullpup.

No word on the delivery date.

Update: Company video. Also: There is a discussion forum going for this gun over at KTOG.

Traver Off Target -- Article by Kevin D. Williamson

Traver Off Target - National Review Online

Pres. Barack Obama has nominated Andrew Traver, an episodically dishonest campaigner against Americans’ right to keep and bear arms, to be head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. ATF is arguably the least competent of our major federal law-enforcement agencies and unquestionably the least impressive of them.... READ MORE...
So begins Kevin Williamson's in-depth look at President Obama's controversial nomination of Andrew Traver to head the ATF. Some of the points he raises about the ATF's perennial problems are very interesting, and he coins the phrase "anti-policing" to describe some of it. (If you're with the ATF, pour yourself a Pepto-Bismol before settling down to read this. It's hotfoot journalism.)