Prohibition Works?

Over at The Agitator, Radley Balko points out an interesting study by some flip-top. Judging from the abstract, it appears the author thinks Prohibition was successful in reducing alcohol consumption in this country. Therefore, Prohibition was a success. Umm, yeah.

Leaving aside the difficulty in determining actual use statistics of alcohol during Prohibition some 70-plus years after the fact, if the thesis is indeed true, it doesn’t necessarily mean Prohibition was a success as a public policy. If the narrow argument is only that Prohibition reduced alcohol consumption, fine. That’s a simple question that is only complicated by the vagueness of available statistics. If you are, however, arguing that Prohibition was a successful public policy, there are a number of other effects that have to be considered. I would hardly think that providing organized crime with an almost guaranteed revenue stream is a desirable outcome of a public policy. I also don’t think the widespread disrespect of the law that policies like prohibition engender is an optimal result. However, I’m not a public health researcher.

Truthfully, I find all public health research that doesn’t directly involve contagious diseases to be somewhat suspect. Calling the results of individual choices a “public health epidemic”, as has been done with smoking, drug use, and obesity, simply means that some asshat busybody wants to tell you what to do under the guise that it will improve “public health”. It is, once again, the naked contempt of some academic wanker who thinks you and all the rest of the public are too stupid to make “correct” choices. Only those with greater knowledge and understanding are permitted to make choices, because all you proles will inevitably screw it up. The dream of the enlightened philosopher-king dies hard in academia and elsewhere, doesn’t it?


Full Agreement

There is in 2nd Amendment circles a continuum amongst the true believers. It starts somewhere around the concept of reasonable regulation and moves on out to die-hards like me. The majority of people cluster around the some regulation point. The details of the precise regulatory scheme are subject to debate. I full well realize I’m an outlier on the bell curve.

So for people like me, it’s always nice to see someone who agrees. Vin Suprynowicz has a column up about what weapons are covered under the 2nd amendment. I am in full agreement with him. I’m one of the people who thinks that I should be able to have any weapon I can pay for and store safely. By store safely, I don’t mean securely. I mean that if I decide I want a Patriot missile launcher, I don’t get to keep it in my backyard. If something goes wrong, the blast radius will take out my neighbors’ homes as well. They didn’t sign up for that, so I don’t figure they should have to deal with the consequences. On the other hand, if I have 10,000 acres in the Hill Country and I blow something up, oh well, too bad for me. I’m also bright enough to realize the changes in law necessary ain’t ever gonna happen. Still, I don’t see that giving up my rights does a damn thing to deter ne’er-do-wells and miscreants.

In a similar vein, Matt Welch calls bullshit on the notion that restricting our liberties makes us safer in any fundamental way. I’m not going to repeat hoary old quotes that everyone has heard and ignored many times before. I’ll just point out that any liberty surrendered to the government is only rarely given back, and then only with great struggle. This applies to any liberty, not just gun rights. It’s important because the executive branch is currently claiming a whole lot of power on some pretty thin justifications. The entire idea behind the Constitution is the restricting of the power of the federal government to prevent tyranny. Giving more power to the government is not conducive to that end.

Slightly Holidazed

Well, I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and is gearing up for a Happy New Year. If you celebrate different holidays, I hope they were festive and filled with the appropriate filling be that good cheer or strawberry jam. It's all about you having the holiday you so richly deserve. Of course, that means some of you got coal and ashes in the stockings, but that's just a cue to live a better life this year.

Me, I'm just tired. Of course, that could be because some random idiot called the house at 3 AM. It could be because I slept poorly. I had a dream where I joined the Marine Corp Reserve and had to go through basic training again. While not exactly a nightmare, it's still unsettling. I did that once with the Army, thankyouverymuch. I ain't doing it again.


Holiday Excitement

The turtle bit my dad. For your future reference, turtles don't like to let go once they bite something.


Limits To Power

So I’ve been following some of the debate about the NSA wiretaps. From my limited readings on the subject, my initial impression is wrong. I had the knee-jerk response of "Illegal!" When confronted with government actions of arguable constitutionality, it’s my default response. Apparently, I may be wrong. There is no settled law on the particulars of this case. I tend to think it’s a murky grey area at best, and I will let the law people argue the finer points of surveillance law. It appears that the government has been doing this for a long time, so I guess the policy debate is dead. Even if there is a roar of outrage from the general public, they’ll continue to do it. The government will spy on you. Moderate your paranoia level appropriately and deal.

It did, however, raise a question in the back of my mind that I have been contemplating. I am wondering what the limits of the Posse Comitatus Act are. My thought process runs something like this. We know that the government can, pretty much at will, declare you to be an enemy combatant. Your status is not really subject to review before they detain you. However, instead of using civilian law enforcement agents to arrest you, they simply send in a military unit to capture and/or kill you. I can see nothing that prevents the possibility of the government doing this. The PR blowback would probably be enough to bring down an administration if you hit someone who is provably innocent.

I am relying heavily on the text of the Authorization of Force quoted by Prof. Kerr in the post linked above. As I read that, the President can bring the full might of the US military against anyone who is determined to be involved in the 9/11 attacks, no matter where they might be. More generally, what are the limits of the President’s authority to order military operations against US citizens within the confines of the US? Are there any? It has always been my understanding that the President’s authority to order military operations is damned near unlimited. He is the CinC, and when he says go, people go. Is my understanding of this point correct?

I honestly don’t know. I’m not trying to figure out the possible repercussions yet. I just don’t know what is legally permissible. I’m starting to think that many of the issues involved in the fabulous and somewhat ill-defined War on Terror are inadequately addressed. I’m sure it’ll all come out at some point, but we’re still kind of flying blind with respect to how we conduct the GWOT.


Patriot Is As Patriot Does

Okay, I can’t stand Sen. Feingold (D-Illiterate) because he, along with asshat extraordinaire Sen. McCain (R-Psycho), sponsored the abomination that became campaign finance reform. Of course, the old adage about a stopped clock still applies in politics. Both of the ignorant illiterates mentioned are occasionally right. While rare, it still happens. Feingold was right when he was the only guy voting against the Patriot Act the first time and he’s right in opposing the extension of it now.

I was listening to Hugh Hewitt a bit last night on the way home, and once again, he has partaken fully and fulsomely of the Kool-Aid. Apparently, not renewing certain provisions of the Patriot Act means we’re going to lose the war. We are crippled in our ability to fight! Or something. I tuned out on it, because I thought most of the Patriot Act was horrible legislation in the first place. I was also flabbergasted that it passed so quickly. Nobody had time to read the damned thing before they voted on it. I tend to be of the bizarre opinion that my legislators should have read and comprehended the bills they’re voting on. There are none of the Senators involved that had time to do that, so they passed a law enforcement wish list with no consideration for the possible effects. The only good thing about the Patriot Act is the sunset provisions.

So it’ll expire on the end of the year. So what? If you can’t use the vast array of law enforcement tools already available to effectively combat terrorism, you’re a dolt. The degradation of our already abused civil liberties is not necessary to the prosecution of the war on terror. However, it is par for the course for the kind of mindset that thinks the response to criminal action is to reduce the freedoms and protections of the law-abiding. For some strange reason, I don’t think this approach is a long-term winner. I guess in Hugh Hewitt’s world, this means I suffer from BDS and want the US to lose for partisan political gain. Since I think the Democrats are fundamentally unsound on almost every issue, I can’t imagine who would get that gain. Oh, well. Hewitt is working on becoming a laughable party hack.


The Drug War Is Bad, MMMKay?

Radley Balko is all over the Cory Maye case. I leave it to you to go and read up on the particulars. Before you go, here’s a thought or two for you.

What should your response be to someone breaking into your house in the middle of the night? Assume you’re sound asleep and the first thing you hear is the door breaking down from a tactical entry. What do you do? Chances are good that if you, like some of us, have firearms around the house, you’re going to open fire. If you’re any kind of a marksman, you should do some damage to someone.

Who is at fault? You? The officers who decided a tactical entry was needed? A judge that feels the word of an anonymous informant is sufficient cause to break down your door in the middle of the night? A policy failure of enormous proportions called the War on Drugs?

I’ll pick that last one. The Drug War has done a fabulous job of creating more problems than it solves. Too bad some of the problems it creates are corpses. Of course, as long as one more non-violent marijuana possessor swells the ranks of our prison population, it’s worth it. Isn’t it?

Ugly Truth Revealed

I always knew those sneaky flip-tops were not to be trusted. Now I have proof! I urge all patriotic Americans to be on their guard against infiltration from the North. Treat all Canadians and anyone wearing a maple leaf with the suspicion and opprobrium they so richly deserve.

Of course, if the Canadians keep up their current course, they’ll be disarmed. The foolish Canucks don’t realize that we have encouraged the Liberal Party to disarm the civilian population over the past 50 years. When we decide to invade and take the annoying quasi-socialist bastards over they will be unable to resist. Then we can gut their nationalized health care system and take all their oil. Those who resist will be forcibly deported to France and/or England, depending on their primary language. The Maritimes will be spun off as separate protectorates, much like Puerto Rico. Alberta and Saskatchewan will be considered for admission as full states, following a suitable probation period. Quebec (both province and city) will be bulldozed and replanted as a nature preserve. I’m unaware of the details of what happens to the rest of the country. I hear large portions will be sold to Disney so a sort of Super EPCOT can be built. Frankly, it’s Canada. If I didn’t deeply mistrust the sneaky flip-tops enough to assure myself of their eventual destruction and assimilation, I wouldn’t even know this much.

The doom of Canada approaches, though. Rest assured that we will someday eradicate the scourge of the North from our doorstep. Dominion shall be ours.



Yesterday was my birthday. I am officially older now. Woohoo! I also got my highly anticipated present, a fine 1911A1 from the nice people at Springfield Armory. It doesn’t look like that anymore, since I already went and added a Smith & Alexander mainspring housing with integral magwell. I also replaced the stock recoil spring with a Wolff variable power. I need to finish and swap out the firing pin spring with the Wolff that came with the recoil spring. At some point, I’ll have to get someone to install a beavertail grip safety and tighten up the magwell fit. I’m not going to attempt anything that requires metal removal myself. I will leave that to a trained professional. I also have 5 Chip McCormick mags to go with my new gun. I have 200 rounds of Winchester 230 gr. FMJ from Wally World. So later this week I hope to hit the range and see if I remember how to shoot a pistol. I used to be okay at it. We’ll see how much I suck at it now.

In addition to buying me the pistol, my lovely wife took me out to the Strip House for dinner on Saturday. I broke one of the cardinal rules by eating a piece of prime rib bigger than my head. The food was excellent, and I highly recommend it. She also got me the Complete Calvin & Hobbes, all 24 pounds of it. Bill Watterson was probably the finest practitioner of the daily comic strip during the time he was working. His work holds up extremely well. I recommend the set if you don’t already have everything, or even if you do.

Other gifts received include one of the tiny Leatherman tools in a further attempt to clutter up my keychain. That came with a bright purple sweater and a copy of Home Hacking Projects for Geeks. Other people presented me with the new Lileks book, Mommy Knows Worst, and How to Make War. I also got a book about Festivus. There were a couple of gift cards, one to Barnes & Noble. More books! So if y’all will excuse me, I’m gonna go read now.


Kill Your Television

George Will is kind of an old curmudgeon and has been for a number of years. I think he got his panties in a wad a few years ago about rap music, which is honestly the last time I recall even paying him the vaguest amount of attention. However, he nails some of the big government lunacy going on right now in a column about digital television subsidies. Apparently, television is now such an inalienable right the government has to subsidize it. I feel so warm and fuzzy knowing the government is looking out for all of us like this. I'm glad to see a Republican majority leads to fiscal discipline insanity.

Personally, I don’t care that much about television. I find the Music Choice channels the most worthwhile thing about having cable. If J weren’t around, the only thing that would get watched on TV would be DVDs and X-Box games. Of course, I probably wouldn’t have an X-Box, because until J and I got married, I didn’t own a TV. When I moved back to Texas in 1995 I left my TV at my dad’s house. Frankly, I didn’t really miss it. For sheer entertainment value, almost nothing beats looking at people when they bring up some television event and telling them "I don’t have a TV." You get the strangest looks from people. Most people literally have no response to that. Some people would occasionally ask dumbass questions like "Well, what do you DO?" as if they could not imagine what on earth I could be doing with my time without television. My stock response was always "Not watch TV". My mother-in-law once told me that it really disturbed her that I didn’t have a television, because only people like child molesters and rapists and drug addicts didn’t have televisions.

Anyhow, now that I’ve digressed from my main point, George Will has a great line in his column:

Pick it up and read on, because this story illustrates the timeless truth that no matter how deeply you distrust the government's judgment, you are too trusting.

I think every small-government conservative and libertarian should have that prominently displayed. It also brings to mind something a friend of mine used to say:

The question is not whether you’re paranoid. Anymore, the question is whether you’re paranoid enough.

Should I repeat the mantra that the government is not your friend? No? Okay. Go and buy this album if you don’t already own it. It’ll give you something to listen to while the government spends a billion dollars on ensuring your right to watch crap on TV.


May I Have Another?

Okay, I have no idea if the suburbanites to the north have actually followed through on the idiotic plan to ban handguns. I found this through Dave Kopel’s post outlining the sordid and sorry tale of how the Canadian government slowly stripped away the rights of its citizen-subjects.

There are two things going on here that I find amusing. One is the absolute bone-headed insistence by some people on pursuing a failing policy with more of the same. Guns are thoroughly controlled in Canada, yet the rate of gun crime is going up. What to do? Make more laws restricting guns! Because that will stop criminals! After all, a criminal is defined as someone who engages in gross violation of the law. So passing more laws will… will… Okay, I honestly admit I have no idea what passing more laws against things that are already illegal is supposed to do. If someone is willing to kill another person, I don’t think the fact the pistol they plan on using is illegal is going to deter them. Someday, gun people won’t have to flog this particular deceased equine anymore because idiots will get the point: Disarming the law abiding does not affect the criminals.

The other amusing issue is we have proof, yet again, of people arguing registration is not a prelude to confiscation being wrong. England, Australia, and now Canada are why gun owners and the NRA fight so hard against any type of registration scheme. You cannot compromise with people whose goal is the eventual destruction of your rights. You gain nothing with such a "compromise". We also have a strong suspicion that many of the people pushing for "reasonable restrictions" are lying. Some are blatant about their desire to destroy the 2nd Amendment, while others are sneaky. Regardless, the wise and crafty gun owner would do well to trust no one who advocates more restrictions of their rights. The ultimate goal may not be what they say it is.

Honestly, I don't understand why anyone who care about individual liberty lives in Canada anyway. They have a long and bizarre tradition of hostility to free speech and most other individual rights. If any of you Canadians decide you don’t want to give up your guns, move down here. Texas is not going to ban any kind of gun in the foreseeable future. Plus, it’s not 25 degrees outside where I am, unlike Toronto.

Update: Paul Martin did go ahead and pull the trigger on his idiot proposal. GWA.45 has some thoughts for those of you in gun grabber territory. I heartily second his ideas. If you think your state may get around to banning some variety of weapon, prepare early with minimally documented weapons. Me? I'm not so worried. I live in Texas. Plus, the weapons recently given to me by my mother-in-law would be minimally papered, if at all. Remember: purchases between private individuals are not usually subject to much paperwork, if any. Gifts are even better!


Doctor, Doctor

I am growing tired of going to the doctor. I’ve been to the doctor more times this year than I have in the past ten. I went again yesterday for a follow up from a previous visit. Poking and prodding and testing, oh my. Apparently I am on the low end of normal in a variety of categories. Aside from that, I am mostly okay. Now I’m just tired from the collection of drugs I’m taking.

In other news, a federal judge in New York has decided, all prior indications to the contrary, that Congress ain’t the boss of him. Said judge apparently thinks the NYC suit against gun manufacturers can proceed despite the passage of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. The case claims gun manufacturers have created a public nuisance through negligent marketing. While facially absurd to me, the judge apparently believes in the merits of the case so much he’s willing to tell Congress to go pound sand. I would think that’s not a method for ensuring career longevity as a judge, but what do I know? Seems to me pissing off the only group that can fire you is not a recipe for success.

Of course, I’m confused by the basis behind the lawsuit, anyway. Gun manufacturers are creating a public nuisance through negligent marketing? WTF? Are gun billboards falling on people’s heads or something? I think there’s some crap about selling more guns in states where the gun laws aren’t as restrictive. This only makes sense to me, because if you lower the barriers to ownership, you’ll have more owners. I don’t know. It’s some asshat trying to hijack the legal system to achieve a policy outcome. I think it’ll fail spectacularly, but I’ve been wrong on my judicial outcome predictions many times before.


AP Hack Job on Barrett

I read over at Say Uncle that an AP reporter lied to gain access to Barrett Firearms so she could write a factually inaccurate politically motivated hatchet job. We are all surprised by this behavior, aren’t we? No? Damn. I guess the fine folks at AP have managed to spark a wee bit o' cynicism about their motives in the reading public.

Of course, I’ve noticed one aspect of this story before now. While there are some exceptions, notable by the extreme rarity, most journalists know nothing about military equipment. When they can’t even get the most basic details of weapon systems right, what makes anyone think the rest of the story is accurate? One might credibly begin to think that perhaps journalists don’t know anything about anything and just mindlessly parrot what they are told by others. They’re similar in many respects to education majors. Of course, both of my degrees actually required me to learn how to do things, so I can’t really relate.


In an odd post today, Prof. Volokh muses on the purported futility of certain comparisons, like the old standby of apples to oranges. He then mentions the futility of trying to compare certain things like apples and democracy. I don’t see why he considers this a necessarily difficult task.

Any sort of comparison is easy if you start with a few simple principles. First off, why are you comparing the items? Usually, it’s to rank order the items in some kind of preference to facilitate decision making. So, in my counter-example of comparing apples and democracy, what’s our ultimate goal? Do we want a tasty, nutritious snack or preferred system of government? Let’s try tasty snack first.

Now we need a few criteria to use for the comparison. Let’s go with taste, nutrition, and portability. Next up, we’ll rank our items on each criterion on a simple 5 point scale, with 5 being the best and 1 being the worst. How do they stack up?

Apple – 3. Truthfully, I prefer citrus fruits and bananas. Apples aren’t high on my list.
Democracy – 1. Not exactly edible, but probably kind of nasty if it were. At lot goes on under the label of democracy, and much of it is distasteful.

Apple – 5. Not only good, but good for you. Or something like that.
Democracy – 2. Famously devoid of nutritional content, but does allow for the possibility of nutrition better than many other governmental systems.

Apple – 5. Handy to carry around, especially if cut into slices or dried.
Democracy – 1. Unwieldy and not susceptible to carrying around in pockets.

Now that we’ve ranked our item on our criteria, it’s time to sum up. I’m lazy, so I’ll just add, but alternative methodologies include weighted averaging and other fun mathematical games. Apple gets a 13 while Democracy barely registers with a 3. Obviously, Apple gets the nod for tasty snack. I’m sure you can run this exercise in the other direction for preferred system of government. I think we can all see that comparison is not such a difficult thing to do after all. Of course, a comparison similar to my example is mostly absurd and not of any real use. Perhaps deriving any real utility from comparisons of thoroughly dissimilar objects is the difficult feat.


Well, it’s been a fun few weeks at YPS Manor. I got a cold, which the doctor feels lowered my resistance enough so that I could catch another virus. I got laid low while J was decorating the new shiny aluminum Christmas tree. Let me tell you, having a coughing fit from the one virus that causes you to puke from the second one is no way to spend a holiday weekend.

I did, however, get my check from the county for working the election. I think, all things considered, I made just above minimum wage. So the kid working the cash register at McDonald’s makes about as much as the people working elections. Keep that in mind the next time you bitch about the electoral system, at least in Texas. Anyhow, I’m dithering about what to buy with my hard-won gains. I want a cheap digital camera for work purposes and to carry around in the truck. I also want a plethora of other things, so I guess the winnowing procedure has to commence first. This Samsung looks pretty good fro just over a hundred. Alternatively, this bag looks like a good deal, too. Decisions, decisions.

I can fritter away my time on things like this because we are done with holiday shopping. Well, almost. I have to go and get gifts for my lovely and talented wife, but I have a pretty good idea what I’m getting. It’s just a matter of actually going to the store, which will probably be accomplished tonight. After that, the holiday season is just one long excuse to eat and drink. Woo-hoo!