Solidarity, Baby:

Workers of the world, etc. When Solidarity isn't.
Bear Stories:

Reader S.D. sends this, apropos of the bear post:
The Colorado State Department of Fish and Wildlife is advising
hikers, hunters, fishermen, and golfers to take extra precautions
and be on the alert for bears while in the Dillon, Breckenridge,
and Keystone area.

They advise people to wear noise-producing devices such as little
bells on their clothing to alert but not startle the bears

They also advise you to carry pepper spray in case of an
encounter with a bear. It is also a good idea to watch for signs
of bear activity.

People should be able to recognize the difference between black
bear and grizzly bear droppings.

Black bear droppings are smaller and contain berries and possibly
squirrel fur.

Grizzly bear droppings have bells in them and smell like pepper
James Jackson:

It is, again, time to celebrate the greatest Georgian, and perhaps the greatest American: James Jackson.
James Jackson was a hero of the Revolution; a delegate to the First Congress; a U.S. Senator, State Senator, Governor of the State of Georgia, U.S. Senator again, and is buried in a place of honor in the congressional cemetery. His monument in Jackson, Georgia, names him "Prince of Duellists."

In the days after the Revolution, an early corporation called the Yazoo Land Company bought up almost all the land in the state of Georgia. Jackson, who had been elected Governor by a grateful populace, but had declined the office on account of being too young, was serving instead in the (honestly, in those days) less important capacity of U.S. Senator. An advocate of the Jeffersonian "yeoman farmer" tradition, he was outraged.

Because in those days people understood Federalism, he did not attempt to override the Georgia Legislature with a Federal decree. Rather, he resigned his U.S. Senate seat, and ran for a seat in the State Senate. Having won it, he carried the fight against the corporation's right to the land.

Duelling was not only legal in that age, but obligatory when questions of honor arose. The corporation hired four different professional killers to find a pretext on which to challenge Jackson to fight them in duels. All this was to remove him, so that their ownership of most of Georgia would be unchallenged. Jackson accepted all four duels, and slew the killers each and all.

At last he won the revocation of the bill allowing the Yazoo Company to buy the land. He had all the copies of the bill gathered up on the lawn of the State House, where an old man with a prism came forth an focused sunlight on them until they smouldered and caught flame. Thus it is still said today that this unjust law was "consumed by the fires of Heaven."

Instead of corporate ownership, Jackson's party had the land distributed by lottery to the people of Georgia. In that way, he created a whole state of small, independent, yeoman farmers.

In my opinion, he was the greatest American, only perhaps excepting Washington. Certainly his is my model for right politics: an activity of personal courage, in defense of individual liberty.

Foggy Bottom:

I'll thank Pat Robertson not to set off any nuclear devices at Foggy Bottom. I work within the 12-mile limit.

Of course it's just rhetoric, since Mr. Robertson has no nukes. But really--could we tone down the wrath a bit? Between Chuck 'Save this Goddamn nation' Rangel and Mr. Robertson, you'd think we didn't have real enemies. We do, mates. There's a war on--pull yourselves together, and start acting like countrymen, or at least allies.

Guns in America:

A good article by Dave Kopel, on the history of guns in America. Hat tip: Kim du Toit.
Amnesty, Accidentally:

AI's new report on the arms trade is available now. You can tell that this is going to be an unbiased and careful study by the title, "Shattered Lives." (Warning! This is a 3.2 meg .pdf file. If your computer can't handle that, you can get the report in small pieces from the Amnesty website.)

Nevertheless, buried in this report was some excellent news:

There are approximately 639 million small arms in the world today, produced by more than 1,135 companies in at least 98 countries. Eight million new weapons are produced every year. Nearly 60 per cent of small arms are in civilian hands.
"Small Arms" for AI's purpose is any kind of weapon that you can use yourself. The next category up is "light arms," which is that category of weapons the military calls "Crew-served," because you need a crew to operate them. AI reserves "heavy weapons" for tanks and such.

Sixty percent of these weapons are in civilan hands, they say--that will be about 383 million weapons. Now, I believe that the US accounts for most of those--about 223 million, according to the US Dept. of Justice (US Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Guns Used in Crime, 7/95, from ATF data. I rush to add that the report is titled "Guns Used In Crime," but 223 million is only the estimated total number of guns in America).

The US is demonstrably more stable than the regions to which Amnesty devotes its attention. There are no large bands of roving brigands in the US, excepting of course in those areas (South Central LA, parts of downtown Washington D.C., etc.) in which we have strict gun control. So, AI's report shows that the secret to stability apparently includes guns in civilian hands, does it not? 'A rifle and revolver in every house' should be our motto, and see how quickly that puts paid to brigands in Africa and Ba'athists in Iraq.

Up the militia!

Up the Militia!:

Thanks to reader S.D., an official US Army flyer on how the 82nd Airborne helps build the militia. It's good to be on the right side of things, eh?
Defender of the Faith:

My Catholic readers will perhaps be interested in this exchange. I'm not sure why I am always defending the Vatican, however, instead of you guys doing it. Catholicism is a huge religion--there must be some of you out there who'd like to pick up the old sword.

Or, maybe not. I was thinking about it the other night. Having been raised a Protestant, I find Catholicism to be fascinating but impossibly complex and full of endless symbols and rituals that I don't understand. On the other hand, even though I am kindly disposed to the faith, not one of you has ever tried to convert me. No one has ever offered to explain the rituals or the symbols. Why not? Aren't you supposed to be fishers of Men?

Not that I'm planning to convert, mind you. But aren't you supposed to try?

All Blessings on the United States Marine Corps:

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: We are lucky to have United States Marines.
It is, in fact, the people that have stayed with the young Marine, the faces of waving children peering from behind a mother's dress or hefted onto a father's shoulders as the American motorcade passed. Strange enjoyed handing out the small gifts he and his fellow soldiers carried with them. "You realize pretty quickly that all kids, regardless of their language or the country in which they live, love candy."
Has there ever been an army like these Marines? Has there ever been a unit, sworn to war, so decent even to the children of the foe?
Putin, KGB:

The New York Times has an article today about how much trouble Vladimir Putin is having getting people to forget that he was a long-time KGB agent.

Here's a hint: Take a look at the picture that ran with this article, Mr. Putin. If I wanted to draw you a picture of what I thought a KGB agent should look like, that would be it. Maybe you should consider a change of wardrobe.

Reality, if you please:

No one is a bigger advocate of grizzly-bear protection than I am. However, if you're going to advocate any cause, you need to be extremely responsible about the truth.

The truth about grizzly bears is that they are highly intelligent animals who, if they decide you even might be a danger, will take the precaution of killing you. Their cousins the brown bears are almost as ruthless. What to make of this story?

Treadwell was the founder of Grizzly People, an organization devoted to the protection of grizzly bears and their habitat. According to the group's Web site, Treadwell's practice was to travel to bear country without weapons.
First impression: Treadwell is a dope.
Treadwell, a former drug addict, was featured on the Web site of actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio. According to a biography on the site, Treadwell beat his addiction by spending time in the Alaskan wilderness, where he developed his fondness for bears.
Second impression: blame the dope. I am as fond of bears as anyone, but you don't go hiking in Grizzly country without a .460 Weatherby Magnum (although I notice Kim du Toit suggests a lighter caliber). I'd carry my .44 Remington Magnum revolver along as a backup, too.

The little wife suggests that the Rangers sue Grizzly People (and any associated groups) for the loss of the two bears shot. I frankly think that's a fine idea. As these organizations feel we ought to be protecting the bears, they'll have no problem with a precedent for suing idiots who do dumb things that result in bears having to be destroyed. It's one thing to shoot in self-defense against a bear you've tried to avoid; it's another thing to force a confrontation, knowing that the law requires the bear be killed if you get hurt.

Misha I:

I don't normally link to the Nice Doggie, for the same reason I don't normally link to Allah: I have readers from a fair number of different faiths, including Muslims, and I don't want them to feel unwelcome here.

Nevertheless, this time I have to. It doesn't touch on religion, but California. This is the best Fisking I've seen in ages. If you're new to the art, and you want a good example of how the Masters do it, here you go.

Arafat Dead?

Over at FreeSpeech I've posted a roundup of the news from Palestine, and reasons to think Arafat may be dead. Evidence is sadly inconclusive.
Bad Eagle:

My sense of community with this site has jumped, as I see that it has a Scottish forum! Outstanding!
Most Boring Blog Ever:

A new winner: Here's the thing, guys--to be interesting, a blog has to have a voice. A committee is not a voice. Get your candidate to blog, if he has time (I doubt the President has any such time), or give it up.
New Link:

I've just added a new link, Bad Eagle. I salute a fellow patriot.

What's the bravest thing you've ever seen?

I've seen, and done, a lot of reckless things, the kind of stuff Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics condemned as a vice that consisted in an excess of bravery. I've been witness to a fair amount of real bravery. At length, though, I think this is it:

My father was a Captain of our county's Volunteer Fire Department. I remember once when one of their men fell through a floor into a basement and had his leg pinned. They tried to get him out, tried hard, but he burned alive. His radio worked until the end, so they all got to hear it. Then, on top of that, the state didn't pay his pension--he was a professional firefighter in another county, but since he was acting there as a volunteer, his kids and wife got nothing. All those firefighters saw all that. They heard the radio, they saw the State saving money on the backs of his kids.

The next fire, they were back on the line. That, I think, is the bravest thing I've ever seen or known.

French perfidy:

The Polish government is pressuring its military to keep quiet about those missiles, while issuing a statement through its civilian leadership that their military officers were mistaken. Well, that's a relief. Who would believe the French would sell top weapons to our enemies?

The Federation of American Scientists believes it. FAS was founded by scientists who had worked on the Manhattan project, and wanted to make sure their work was not misused or allowed to proliferate wildly. Here's what they have to say on the subject of the Syrian biological weapons program:

France has played the key role in building up Syria's very well developed pharmaceuticals industry. With the active encouragement of the French embassy in Damascus and French government export credits, the biggest names in the French pharmaceuticals industry flocked to Damascus in the 1980s. Many of them opened branch offices and built production facilities in Syria, to make French pharmaceuticals under license. As a result, the French increased their share from 13.11% of Syria's pharmaceuticals imports in 1982 to 23% by 1986. This was all the more unusual since Syria was expanding its domestic production and therefore importing less during this same period.
The French government screens exports to determine whether goods proposed for sale to Syria, Iran, Libya (and other countries) merit review because of proliferation concerns. While France has been applying the guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime for several years, she only began applying controls on production equipment that could go into a chemical weapons plant in early 1992. "Only in the past six months has there been a universal will to impose this type of controls," a senior French foreign ministry official said in May 1992. "Before then, CW production equipment was freely available."
Like Britain and Italy, France has been unwilling to impose unilateral export controls on CW production equipment without an internationally-accepted control regime, so French companies could not accuse the government of putting them at a disadvantage on lucrative Third World markets. The Australia Group, which oversees the control of CW precursors, only finalized a list of production equipment that should also be subjected to international controls in late 1991. It was only adopted (after stiff opposition from France and Great Britain) in June 1992.
"Every day I sign off on export licenses," another senior French licensing official present at the same forum said, "and I wonder whether I have not just signed my resignation. In the area of chemical weapons manufacturing equipment, it is totally impossible to distinguish between civilian and military end-use," he admitted. "The equipment is strictly identical."
How about the Egyptian ballistic missile program?
Egypt is believed to have produced the Scud-B indigenously - perhaps modifying them to extend their range - with some North Korean assistance. An enhanced Scud-C (called "Project T"), with range/payload of 450 km/985 kg, is reported to have been developed and may be in service. In cooperation with the French Soci�t� Nationale des Poudres et Explosifs (SNPE), Egypt has developed, produced, and deployed the Sakr-80 rocket as a replacement for the aging Frog missiles. The Sakr factory is responsible for producing the warheads, launchers and fire control systems for the Sakr-80.
Perhaps you'd like to know who helped to design China's premier attack helicopter?
The new WZ-9 helicopter gunship, the WZ-9 [export model code-named Z-9G] is a gunship converted from the French-designed Z-9 helicopter produced under license in China.
The Chinese military considers its mission the ability to defeat the U.S. military. That implies that they are at least a potential enemy, and certainly there have been high tensions over Taiwan. If the U.S. Navy has to fight for Taiwan, it will do so in the face of a few goodies China bought from France:
China has used French helicopters to reinforce its weak antisubmarine
warfare capabilities. According to open sources, China has imported or built under license between 65 and 105 modern French turbine-powered helicopters, including about 40 after 1989.
According to experts, China's only effective ship-to-air missile is the French Crotale missile system. China has deployed the Crotale on four ships, including its two most modern destroyers. Also, China has reverse-engineered the Crotale--reducing China's dependence on foreign suppliers.
Other French equipment on the Luhu destroyers includes the Sea Tiger naval surveillance radar, the Dauphin-2 (Z-9) helicopter (described later), and the TAVITAC combat data system (which is used to integrate the Luhus' various onboard systems).
Those Chinese helicopters, by the way, were delivered to China after a 1990 embargo on giving the Chinese such technology; and of course the Syrian program is playing fast and loose with import/export controls on biochemical weapons.