Saturday, January 19, 2008

Appeasement doesn't work

Part umpteen in our continuing series.

On March 11, 2004 a series of Islamic terrorist bombings lead the voters of Spain to reject their sitting government and install a new one, which promptly caved in to the terrorists' demands and pulled Spanish military forces out of Iraq. There is no doubt in my mind that this action emboldened their fellows in Iraq at the time, and lead to some unknowable number of additional deaths, including those of American servicemen.

As those of us that actually read and pay attention to history know, appeasement doesn't work over the long term. Never has, never will--because those whom you are buying off don't stay bought off.

FOXNews reports that Spanish authorities have arrested 14 people who were planning a "terrorist action" in an unnamed northern Spanish city.

I hope all those Spanish voters and government officials sleep well tonight.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sold out, but by who?

Jim Shepherd of The Shooting Wire has some interesting thoughts on the DOJ amicus brief (written, as we now know with the help of the ATF's chief consul) in today's column (scroll down the page to find it).

This wasn’t a sellout by the Bush administration.

The Bush administration is already history.

This was the bureaucratic machine pronouncing the time of death of the “W” presidency while simultaneously covering its own posterior at the expense of the Second Amendment.

While I don't totally agree with him (I still think that Bush or another highly placed individual in his administration had to have approved this monstrosity), it's still interesting stuff from a man who's been around the block a couple of times. It'sworth your time to read and consider.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Here's a good reason to vote for Fred

(Via Say Uncle)

Because he thinks the Bush administration has blown it with their amicus brief in the Heller case.

Fred Thompson obviously groks the Constitution.

FFLs--defend yourselves!

Jim Shepherd's The Shooting Wire has this interesting tidbit of news for FFLs:

Today at the AcuSport dealer show in Salt Lake City, UT, the company’s customers were given an exclusive first-look at FFLGuard, a new legal service offered by The Chiafullo Group, LLP (“the Group”), a law firm based in New Jersey, designed to provide legal assistance to independent gun retailers in the event of a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (“BATF”) compliance investigation or civil litigation aimed at scrutinizing the dealer’s business practices, without the costly expenses customarily associated with retaining legal counsel.

This could be a godsend to beleaguered gun dealers all across the US. If you have a favorite FFL that you really want to see stay in business, send them to visit www.FFLGuard.com. I've looked their site over quickly and I don't see costs outlined, but look at it this way--how much is that license worth?

More on the DOJ amicus brief

(Via Michael Bane)

Among all the other things I have to do, I've been trying to keep up on this subject. Michael Bane is doing the footwork for me on his blog. In this post, he links to a piece by the renowned John Lott. Here's the money shot:

The biggest problem is the standard used for evaluating the constitutionality of regulations. The DOJ is asking that a different, much weaker standard be used for the Second Amendment than the courts demands for other “individual rights” such as speech, unreasonable searches and seizures, imprisonment without trial, and drawing and quartering people.

Let's hope the Supreme Court doesn't miss this little point.

Lott also notes that "it may take an uprising by voters to rein in the Justice Department". Folks, what that means is that President Bush has the ability to order his Solicitor General to withdraw or amend this POS the amicus brief. It's time to crank up the email clients, the phones and the fax machines and let him know that he needs to do so. The contact info is:

Email: president@whitehouse.gov and comments@whitehouse.gov
Phone: 202-456-1111
FAX: 202-456-2461

The value of wood

(Found on Timebomb 2000)

In the event of a crash, would you rather have gold, or wood? Before you decide, you might want to read this essay.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Betrayal

(As found in various places, but first noticed on The Smallest Minority)

The effing Federal government has filed an amicus brief on the Heller case. Read about it on Dave Hardy Of Arms and the Law, but be warned, you aren't going to like what they say. I am beside myself. "Traitorous bastards" is just a starting point. "Oh yes, it's a right, be we want to reserve the government's ability to screw around with it whenever we please, as long as we can come up with some half-assed reason for doing so."

The NRA has also weighed in, for what that's worth.

You know, I worked hard to get President Bush reelected. Yeah, he wasn't perfect, but he was better than Kerry. Now we see just how small the difference really was.

May they rot in Hell, the lot of them.

(Edit: Michael Bane has a different take, from Jim Shephard, on his blog. I don't agree with Jim's take. This sort of wanting to have it both ways, which is reflected in the amicus brief (I've been reading), has all the hallmarks of politics at its worst. Just the sort of thing I tend to expect from Washington these days.

MB also notes that Dave Kopel at the Volokh Conspiracy has a very different take. Kopel notes that the Bush presidency had a big impact on the 2006 UN gun control conference, as well as Protection of Lawful Commerces in Arms Act, and that's all true. Things like that are why I worked for Bush. However, I have to agree with Michael's comments--anything this contentious would almost have to have the President's sign off. Folks, we've been thrown under the bus again.)

Got juice?

Among the many projects I've wanted to take on for some time is making some provision for electricity if the grid is down for an extended period. (It does happen, in the 2002 ice storm power was out in this house for 8 days.) I have a generator, and generators are a wonderful thing--until the fuel runs out. My little Honda is a fuel sipper, but if things drag out long enough, the gas supply will run out. In the case of a multi-day outage my plan is that the generator is for powering the fridge and the freezer a couple of times per day to keep the food from spoiling, and maybe an hour or so at night. That ought to stretch the fuel out for literally weeks--long enough to use up the cold stuff.

However, that leave many nagging needs for electricity that remain unsatisfied. Lights, TV/radio and all manner of other things want electricity to run. (Yes, my preparedness plans include some level of creature comforts. My ancestors didn't move out of the caves just so I can move back in.) You can substitute battery-operated appliances, but you can only keep so many batteries. And trust me, in the event of a prolonged power outage, you and a zillion of your friends and neighbors will all be combing every store around for replacements. Not a good situation to find yourself in. Besides, what if instead of an ice storm, it's the Dread Nonspecific Pandemic that has lead to a grid-down situation? You really don't want to be out there with the infected and potentially infected, do you?

A solar setup large enough for the entire house (a traditional off-the-grid type setup), is economically out of the question. I've considered a more limited setup, but the price and complexity are still far more than I'm willing to deal with. So my research has turned to alternative solutions such as the various sorts of solar battery chargers and self-contained kits.

There are a number of solar "trickle chargers" like this one for vehicle batteries. They're meant for times when you've parked the car for a long period, and you want to keep the battery topped up. At 2-6 watts, they aren't going to recharge a heavily used battery very quickly. That doesn't make them much good for my purpose. Still, I might buy one of the largest ones as a backup.

Then there is this interesting 10 watt "high speed" solar battery charger, that has the added benefit of being able to power some smaller 12 volt devices. It can charge AAA, AA, C, D or 9V Ni-Mh batteries at a max of 600 mA (I assume that's per hour). That means if you charging 4 1800 mA AA batteries, it's going to take at least 12 hours. Doable, but you're going to make some hard choices about where the batteries are used, unless you buy several. At $170 each, that could get expensive.

PowerFilm has a line of flexible solar panels in sizes up to 18.5 watts (15.6 volts @ 1.2 amps). They're made with marine-grade components. Somewhat expensive (around $400 for the 18.5 watt model, without accessories), but we're getting up to a usable size, and the portability aspect could be useful.

There are also kits designed for the RV/boating crowds. Go2Marine has this 110 watt kit for under $1200. You'd still have to add mounting hardware and batteries to that. Another company, ETA Engineering, has several kits that have everything but the batteries.

The last option I've found is the seller everyone loves to hate (but uses anyway), eBay. In their "Alternative and Solar" category, you can find just about everything except the wire to set up a complete solar system of about any size. Cut down on the number of panels and batteries, and you can roll your own solar setup. Intriguing, and it makes reopening the previously dismissed small off-the-grid system more attractive.. But remember, it's eBay. Watch the prices, the shipping and the feedback ratings. The saying "caveat emptor " may have been invented for eBay.

I haven't arrived at a decision yet. I'm really attracted to the roll-up panels, but the attraction of being able to do a less portable but higher power and better bang-for-the-watt may be the deciding factors. Considering that our primary plan is to bug-in rather than bug-out, it makes a lot more sense. At any rate, whenever the time comes, expect blog posts and lots of pictures.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Will work for taxes?!

(Found on Timebomb 2000)

If you move around in the "doom and gloom" circles on the Internet, you've surely ran across the Mogambo Guru. He's the sort of guy that isn't above telling you what he thinks, even if it makes you uncomfortable. (Maybe especially if it makes you uncomfortable.)

One of his recent pieces is "Will Work For Taxes", where he talks about Greenburgh, NY and its plan to allow senior citizens to work for the town (at the princely pay of $7/hour) in order to pay their property taxes. Yes, you are reading that correctly.

The Guru's reaction is, shall we say, to the point:

Instead of the town saying, "Oh, my God! What kind of ravenous vampires have we become?" and lowering their damned spending and the damned taxes, "The town is pushing a program that would let seniors work part-time, for $7 an hour, to help pay off some of their property taxes."

It seems that, at least in Greenburgh, all that is old is new again. Welcome to the New Feudalism, indeed.