20030408

A government program to arm everyone
Megan Mcardle asks, "if guns are widely available in Iraq, how come they've got this nasty dictatorship?" Please read her post and the comments.

  • Civil arms are necessary, but not sufficient, for liberty. Megan and commenters conclude that people have to believe that armed struggle will have a chance to succeed before they'll try it.
  • What constitutes "widespread" gun ownership is in the eye of the beholder. I don't agree that it's impossible to quantify gun ownership in Iraq in a meaningful comparison with that in the US or elsewhere. Of course, the news coverage of Iraqi gun ownership does not attempt honest quantification.
  • Clearly the falling regime made sure that its friends had more, or better; this regime was also expert at knowing who its friends, enemies, and even fence-sitters, were. And where they were, and what they were saying.

Please keep coming back to this: it did work the one time we tried it. We are as sure as we can be in retrospect that had we not been armed competitively with our rulers, we would not have achieved independence.

Iraq's experience does not disprove that assertion, nor those of the disarmament lobby.

Break break . . .

The United Nations has drafted a confidential blueprint for administering [post-Saddam] Iraq.

One more reason, if more were needed, to not allow the United Nations to administer Iraq after Saddam's fall: what civilian gun ownership exists there today surely would end.


20030407

He misses his dog
Jakester seems to be on a remote assignment to recover and/or reconstruct the Columbia. Please visit and deliver some linkage.
I have a dream, continued
Why have, or should, the United States undertaken this task of ending the nexus between Church and State power?

We may not have invented it, but we were the first to get it to work. We are the antithesis of the Church-State. Though we are disposed to leave people alone, our determination to be left alone places us naturally in opposition to Men of the One Book.
Timeo hominem unius libri or, I have a dream
Agree or disagree:

  • The United States is not engaged in a military campaign to liberate the people of Iraq from a hated secular tyrant. That may be a collateral benefit but it is not the goal of the campaign.
  • The United States is not engaged in a military campaign to eliminate a first-tier source of weapons of mass destruction. That is also a collateral benefit but again is not the goal.
  • The United States is not engaged in a military campaign to topple Al-Qaeda. Though these critters appear to be present in Iraq and have benefited from the regime that is about to topple, Al-Qaeda is mostly already toppled in their former seat of power. Fragments of their organization surely persist both in Afghanistan and scattered throughout the Islamic world, and they may still possess the resources and organization to mount an attack on the scale of the World Trade Center attack.
  • The United States is not engaged in a military campaign to topple Islam. Devoted WUTT readers (both of them) may complete this paragraph as an exercise of their superb wits.
  • The United States is not engaged in a military campaign to topple radical or fundamental Islam. Too much attention on the "Islam" part, to the extent that it distracts from the true and deserving goal.

The United States is, or ought to be, engaged in a campaign to defeat religious fanaticism where it wields secular power. This campaign has military dimensions as well as philosophical and political. The political dimensions will be articulated backward through time to roots that will include reverence and gratitude for Islam's turn as a custodian of Western thought, and forward to the day when any man or woman can claim Western thought as his or her birthright.
The military and philosophical dimensions of the campaign will demonstrate that the secular world functions according to rules that can be observed or deduced from it, and that those who ignore secular observations and deductions in favor of a One Book will fail or die, at the hands of those who master the rules rather than ignore them.
The present phase of the campaign appears then to be almost a violation of the overall campaign as framed here. Perhaps it is a mere stepping stone. Iraq is the center of gravity of the danger, and at the same time probably the most secular place in that center of gravity, where this campaign has at least a toehold, a snowball's chance of taking root.
The Men of One Book, though they and their Books are many, must be shown that they will not be tolerated as anointed, unquestioned holders of the reins of state power.

Extra credit for alert readers who can still see a shred of religious faith in the foregoing.
Quote of the day
Obviously, the army must strive to include a diverse population of Americans in its ranks, but forced diversity only polarizes the armed forces and the society they are sworn to protect. Diversity programs create an atmosphere of unfairness, which in turn undercuts trust. As part of the overall reform, the army must take a long-range look at diversity. Entrance into the officer corps, school and command selections, and promotions should be based on one standard: the need to win in combat.


Donald Vandergriff, The Path to Victory, p424.

20030406

Quote of the day
How the Dixie Chicks feel about the war is a matter of some indifference to me. If they had supported the war, I imagine their opinions would have come from the same well of ignorance.


Froma Harrop, "Taking the Chicks to task"
The will of the voters is heard perhaps too damned often
Today's Denver Post opinion pages begin with two columnists arguing about the value of voter initiatives.

I'll be right up front. I like the idea of TABOR, which would never have happened if it hadn't been an initiative, but I hate hate hate voter intitiatives. Voter initiatives constitute my paying twice for something that was supposed to be done right once. We already have a legislature that represents voter interests.

How exactly does a bad law, passed as an intitiative instead of through the legislative process, get repealed? How does a bad initiative get improved, modified, adjusted for agreement with Constitutional protections or even with existing Colorado law, before it goes on the ballot? Even attempts to make the initiative process obey simple requirements such as "single subject" are circumvented, often drawing the courts effectively into the business of legislating.

I agree with Mr Briggs, that initiatives to amend the Constitution are worse than legislative initiatives. A Constitution needs an amendment process that places as many hurdles as possible in the path of each amendment, from each branch of government as well as direct voter will, much like the path that ordinary legislation must take, but more stringent.

Conventions are hotbeds of potential for abuse too; witness New York's Constitution, that allows a Convention to be voted up or down only every 20 years. Otherwise, individual amendments must be passed through two consecutive sessions of the legislature, one before and one after a general election, before it can be put to a popular vote. Even with such controls in place to avoid seeming random or bizarre amendments, their Constitution has come to resemble an encyclopedia. What other hurdle could be added to this process to weed out nonsensical amendments? Still they exist.

There is a limit to how much we can rely on processes to make governments behave, however one defines "behave" and however one agrees in the first place with the premise that governments are supposed to behave.

We may have reached that limit in Colorado, and are now dealing with problems that are created by the tinkering with processes itself. The unspoken assumption may be that it shouldn't matter who we elect, or what kind of people we elect, the outcome will be acceptable. Further tinkering with processes will only mask our failure to elect officials who understand and obey their Constitutional constraints, or failure to eject public officials who ignore them.

And our failure to accept some of the downsides, compromises, and consequences that laws always bring with them.
Does this not make me green?
Contrary to Publicola's observation, I am not a manufacturer of death. I merely recycle it.

I am reloading brass empties that would otherwise go to a landfill---the firm that picks up my Number 2 plastic and clear glass does not provide a separate service to collect brass.

A businessman-hobbyist in Montana collects .22 LR spent cases, cleans them, and converts them into .224" bullet jackets. He probably sifts lead from the berms of his local ranges, and processes it to make the bullet cores. I buy from him, so not only am I recycling some of my own output, I'm supporting a local market for recycled content rather than buying from a gigantic multinational and helping to limit the spread of known environmental toxins.

Tools are also available, I hear, to convert .22 magnum cases into 6mm jackets. I'd rather have my kids doing that for pizza money than delivering newspapers.
The passive voice will be used
Further on the grammar and style of the construction that uses "based on": y'all would not annoy me so much if you used the active voice in the first place. Past participles inhabit that gray area between adjective and verb, like Republican Guards who doff their uniforms when it serves them---one is mischief, two together danger. A part of speech must commit, know its place and stay in it.