I've been asked to guest-blog over at BlackFive, while he's on the road for a few days. Since most of you probably read his site as well as mine -- and since those of you who don't probably should -- I'm just going to be posting over there for the next few days. It will save everyone some time. :) If I come up with anything interesting, I'll post a link to it here so that regular readers can debate it at this site, should you prefer. B5 gets so much traffic that a debate can be harder in that context.

Rocky Mountain News: Columnists

Theft of a Loved One:

The Rocky Mountain News has an article on a new ban in Denver, coupled with the seizure of property. The property? People's dogs: seized and killed, because they were born pit bulls.

A uniformed officer arrives at a home. "I'll get him," she announces to her partner. Rather than fight it all, a distraught man emerges, weighs going to jail and a fine, and in the end hands over his dog.

"I'm definitely sad," he later tells a reporter. "He's like a member of my family."

Later in the day, a woman pleads: "I don't have no dogs!

"There ain't no dogs in the basement!" she yells as the uniformed man and woman, responding to an informant's report of a pit bull, interrogate her. Outside, squad cars filled with police officers wait to see if they are needed.
The Geek with a .45 wonders how these police happened to know who had a pit bull in the first place.
So, here we have the animal control officers, backed up by men with guns, operating on a tip, and apparently without a warrant.

The only thing we need to complete the scene is a refrain from the Nuremberg chorus.

Oh, wait! Here it is!
"I'm just doing my job," the woman officer later laments.
The Geek is making a point about how much this looks like the way government goes after firearms: first it registers them, promising that the registration will never lead to confiscation; and then it confiscates the registered property and destroys it. We have seen this happen over and over again, worldwide.

But there are other points of similarity as well.

The article quotes genuine dog experts, to see how much sense it makes to ban pitbulls. Answer: none whatever. The ban -- like the so-called "Assault Weapons" ban -- was written by the ignorant. It seeks to ban something that is scary to people who don't know anything about it.

Another reason, not cited by the article, is this: the ban is breed-specific. Pitbull purebreeds are not dangerous, as I understand it, having lived around and trained dogs my whole life. What is dangerous is crossbreeds, where a pit is bred to an animal of another breed (often a Rottie), with the individual two dogs chosen for being particularly aggressive. That is, you can make a violent animal if you set out to do it. But the pitbull as a breed is playful and gentle (except to my hats -- one pit I know, named Havoc, lept up and stole one right off my head and ran away with it, chewing it merrily).

The other thing is the willingness of the police to use "grey" tactics to enforce these laws. Gwa45 cites the lack of warrants. Here is an article which has a far worse abuse, by the BATFE. The article is about .50 caliber firearms, and while the author is not sympathetic to them, he is horrified by police tactics:
Several years ago, the BATF asked [Mr. Robert Steward, who makes perfectly legal 'kits' for collectors who wish to manufacture a firearm] to stop. He refused. Shortly after that (according to published reports) two men entered his gun shop with an AR-15 rifle, requesting that he adjust the scope mount. He put it on his bench and began to work on the scope. As soon as he put a screwdriver to the gun, the men produced BATF badges and arrested him for working on an illegal machine gun. The AR-15 had been illegally converted without changing the exterior appearance.
So how was he to know it was illegal? If he had taken it apart to see, he would have been just as liable under the law -- and the only reason it was in this condition was to enable the police to make him a felon. As a felon, he is forbidden from life from operating his business, as it would entail the possession of firearms.
Mr. Steward was arraigned on June 22nd. Over the objections of the prosecution, the judge released him on his own recognizance. (The prosecution claimed that Mr. Steward must be deemed a threat to his community because of his strong "second amendment views.").... It is a strange world where a federal prosecutor demands a high bail because the accused assumes the United States Constitution means what it says.
Can you think of any other case in which having "strong views" on the importance of a part of the Bill of Rights is said to make you a danger to the community?

How about the Fourth Amendment? There are no dogs in my basement. Get a warrant.

How about the Fifth? You can't just take my dog and kill him, without paying me just compensation. That includes compensation for the pain and suffering endured by the three-year-old boy, who has to watch armed men lead his best friend off and kill him.

Invoke either, and you face "jail time and a fine." Your dog isn't popular, you see. We don't like his kind -- or yours.

Print Story: Rice: Gun Rights Important As Free Speech on Yahoo! News

Dr. Rice Agrees:

The good doctor said something I agree with today:

Rice said she favored background checks and controls at gun shows. However, she added, 'we have to be very careful when we start abridging rights that the Founding Fathers thought very important.'

Rice said the Founding Fathers understood 'there might be circumstances that people like my father experienced in Birmingham, Ala., when, in fact, the police weren't going to protect you.'

'I also don't think we get to pick and choose from the Constitution,' she said in the interview, which was taped for airing Wednesday night. 'The Second Amendment is as important as the First Amendment.'
If only everyone agreed with that last line, the first line would have a different context. If it weren't for the fact that there are almost endless devotees of the principle of disarming Americans, including not just Congressional lobbying groups but the United Nations' entire bureaucracy, we could have a different discussion about "checks and controls."

A government that took the Second Amendment seriously would enjoy a lot more trust when it thought it proper to regulate the expression of that amendment. Not perfect trust, of course, any more than any of us really trust them to regulate the First Amendment -- everyone from the ACLU to right wing bloggers agrees that the gov't can only be trusted just so far.

Still, even Second Amendment absolutists would probably agree to a national version of the Concealed Carry Permit -- a shall-issue permit that allowed carry anywhere in the United States, but in exchange for submitting to background checks and fingerprinting (at least for the purposes of the check; some states retain and others destroy the fingerprints after the check is complete). Such a government program, regulations based on a recognition that you have a right to keep and bear arms, would be broadly acceptable.

Indeed, it's possible that people might even feel comfortable enough to go further, if they could trust that the government really intended to respect the right rather than trying to regulate it away. Gun manufacturers could view government as a partner rather than an opponent, a force to help them get quality weapons to honest citizens instead of a force trying to run them out of business and possibly send them to prison.

Unhappily, we aren't there. There are too many people whose real interest is in infringing the Second.

Grim's Hall

A Long Day:

Got up at 0400 yesterday, and here it is 0100 and I'm still awake. I had to go into Falls Church to take one of those gov't examinations that sensible people left behind long ago, the kind with no. 2 pencils and instructions that have to be read aloud. These things are required for all sorts of duties nowadays, though I'm not sure why: the kinds of things you can easily measure with those sorts of tests are limited, so why not just look at one of the existing tests I have on file? I've taken tons of them; surely by now I'm as well-categorized as I can be. ("V. Good at abstract reasoning; not so good at mathematics involving actual calculation." "Good at analogies. Less good at understanding why it's important that he should take this test.")

I've even taken all the psych tests. I know what my psych profile looks like on every one of the major models. This has only increased my suspicion that psychology is the entrail-reading of the modern world. I see no reason to choose to use these models in making hiring decisions; in fact, I'm not sure it should be legal to do so. I don't suppose it qualifies as a "religious test" for the purposes of the Constitution, but you do have to subscribe to what amounts to a religion in order to put any faith in the models.

Oh, well. Just -- A little interagency cooperation, please? I'll sign the disclosure forms, but please let me retire the little bubble sheets once and for all.

Of course, the regular workload did not decrease simply because I had to take half the day for testing. And, tomorrow is another day....

Well, time to turn in. See ya'll tomorrow.

WOAI: San Antonio News - The Alamo a Symbol of Slavery?

Painting a Lead Balloon:

Green, as it happens. From Nickelodeon's segment on the history of the Alamo:

By the early 1800s, most of the people living in San Antonio were white farmers who brought their slaves with them.

In 1829, Mexico abolished slavery and what followed was years of conflict between white farmers who wanted to keep their slaves and Mexican authorities.

This conflict led up to the battle for the Alamo.
I guess this answers the question of whether Texas is part of the South or not. From now on, you are -- you've been consigned to the "evil slaveholding" part of America, whose every motive before about 1970 must be assumed to be racism. Having seen this train of thought work itself out in several other places, allow me to assure my history-loving Texas readers that they will require a steady supply of antacids henceforth. You have my sympathies for that, but I suppose you had to be punished for giving American Mr. G.W. Bush.

Hat tip: NRO. / News / Boston Globe / Ideas / how_good_was_the_good_war

V-E Day:

Both BlackFive and Baldilocks have joined the Armed Liberal against Englishman and author Niall Ferguson. Ferguson wrote recently an article entitled "V-E Day: A Soiled Victory," which is subtitled "A look at the WWII Allies' moral shortcuts."

As BlackFive says warriors need to have a clear-eyed view of war. There are times to set it aside -- the anniversary of V-E Day being one of those times. There are times to wave the flag and play the fife and drum, and choose to believe for a little while that all uniforms are dress uniforms. The wise man has room in his mind for both myth and history, because he recognizes that he needs both myth and history. A man, a nation, a society needs its myths to stay healthy.

When that day of celebration is suitably past, however, we have to return to the clear-eyed view. We will set it aside again at the appropriate time in the future, but we should be able to consider it now. If Ferguson can't provide it -- if his piece seems "tainted," to use his own words -- perhaps others can. Yet who else is interested in doing so?

Consider this piece from the Boston Globe, by Englishman Geoffery Wheatcroft, entitled "How Good was the Good War?"

Some of these legends are more obvious than others. The French suffered a catastrophic defeat in 1940, and the compromises many Frenchmen made with their conquerors thereafter ranged from the pitiful to the wicked. More Frenchmen collaborated than resisted, and during the course of the war more Frenchmen bore arms on the Axis than on the Allied side. Against those grim truths, Charles de Gaulle consciously and brilliantly constructed a nourishing myth of Free France and Resistance that helped heal wounds and rebuild the country.
We can see that this is true -- and I don't think we hold it against de Gaulle. This is what I meant when I said that a nation needs its myths to remain healthy. You can't build a nation on a recognition that yours is a society of collaborators. That is what de Gaulle would have had to have done, if he had not made myths. So, he made myths; and he was wise to do it.

One may ask why the English authors are so eager to unmake these myths, at this time. The answer is obvious: the rise of anti-war politics in Britian, which has split both their left and right political wings. The recent elections have only heightened the tensions, and so the business of scorning all wars -- even "the Good War" -- is on the minds of some.

The English are not alone. The Germans have an interest in it too. Here is a piece from Sign & Sight called "The Mongol Devastations":
The historic fires in San Francisco, Hamburg and London had nothing in common with the procedure whereby in only 17 minutes (Würzburg) or 21 minutes (Dresden), cities were showered with hundreds of thousands of incendiary bombs. These sparked thousands of fires, which within three hours became a flaming sea, several square kilometres wide. Large natural fires normally have a single source, and are driven for days by the wind. But war statistics showed that such winds played a minor role in fires caused by bombs. The real destructive power was not in the wind that drives the fire, but in the fire itself, which unleashes its own hurricane on the ground.

Neither buildings nor people can escape the logic of the elements of fire and air. A fire starts, it sets the air in motion, fire and air form a vortex extinguishing life and all that belongs to it: books, altars, hospitals, asylums, jails and jailers, the block warden and his child, the armourers, the people's court and all the people in it, the slave's barracks and the Jew's hideout, the strangler as well as the strangled. Hiroshima and Dresden, Tokyo and Kassel were transformed from cities into destructive systems.
The Germans have their reasons for wishing to teach this lesson as well. Much has been written about the experience of Nazism, and what it has done to the German conscience -- I have written on it before myself. But, as I wrote in an email to someone on the topic of the new Pope's wartime activities. My correspondant felt that the young Pope's resistance was not sufficient, and that he should have been part of the active resistance:
The moral landscape of WWII Germany is not nearly as clear as it appears to Americans in retrospect. For a German citizen -- enduring both the experience of Nazism, but also the Dresden firebombings -- it would have been entirely reasonable to choose no side, but to withdraw and pray for the end. It would have taken real faith, not in God but in America, to believe that a nation that [could carry out the bombing of Dresden] was one you should aid by force of arms. We Americans naturally feel that faith, but I see no reason that a German should.
We Americans do naturally feel it, and it is right that we should. America is our mother, and it is right and natural that you should love your mother even if she is a grizzly bear. Indeed, if your mother is a grizzly bear you have no better friend in the world. You can laugh and play when she overturns boulders and rips open beehives. Neither her claws nor her strength should frighten you.

Not so, the man who finds himself between her and her cub!

Not, that is, unless he is a berserker -- a "bear-shirt," who fears neither fire nor iron, because he is also a bear. Such men are myths, but they are not only myths. It is through living the myth that the road to health lies. I mean that literally. She's twenty-five feet away. The man who has convinced himself that he is living in a myth will find the strength of will to do what he must: to use his pepper spray, or his rifle, against the eight-hundred pound giant charging down on him at thirty miles an hour. Try that if you are concentrating on a "clear-eyed" view of what she's going to do to you when she gets here. There are times when "rational" and "wise" are not the same thing.

The mayor of Hiroshima, Tadatoshi Akiba, spent part of last week waving around the blackened fingernail of an atomic bomb survivor -- the word is hibakusha in the Japanese. The Japanese say that theirs is the only nation of hibakusha. That prompted the Koreans to form an organization of "Korean hibakusha," who had been kidnapped by Japanese imperialists and forced to work in Hiroshima until the American bomb blew it away.

The Japanese are now allies, who still yet may not have an army or a navy because their own nationals will not vote for a change in their constitution. The Koreans rage against everyone, Chinese, Japanese or American; they build nuclear bombs, both North and South Korea having admitted to clandestine enrichment programs in the last year. The Germans are pacifists. The English rush to cast away the mantle of victors, and to assume the mantle of victims: shame-filled creatures, made so by their fathers, whose sins they feel they have inherited. The French -- well, we have seen much of them in the last few years. They sputter like madmen, unable to decide if they are anti-warriors or imperialists, morally against American "mercenaries" or morally eager to sell arms to China.

This is what comes of breaking myths. The English want to help us break ours, even as the Koreans wish to break those of the Japanese. Thank you for the kindness, but we should prefer our myths intact.

The human mind needs both myth and history to be healthy. I am aware of all these facts, and can use them at the appropriate time, in the appropriate way. That way is this: to understand the events of today, where they are rooted and why; and to find there reasons for compassion for and fellow-feeling with the Germans, the Koreans, the Japanese. I see their anguish, and I sympathize with it. I wish to soothe it. I want them to know health, and strength, again: to be men, and even myths.

America remains healthy. It does so not because it remains strong -- it remains strong because it is healthy. It is healthy because so very much of it still retains its myths, though we are great consumers of works of history: witness any bookstore.

Raise the flag, and play "The Star-Spangled Banner." See how many American men lack for tears in their eyes. There is myth, and joy, and pride.

Take your clear-eyed look at war, and take it boldly. But look also at those who have dwelt upon the abyss, and what it has done to their hearts. Myth and poetry are the gifts of gods who love us, to bear us up and soothe our souls. There is greater health in the Iliad than in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The modern world needs both. The wise man neglects neither.

Musings of The GeekWithA.45

The Busy Days of Spring:

Congrats to The GeekWithA.45 for getting those items off his checklist. Meanwhile, Doc Russia has been doing CPR. And ParaPundit has sniffed out yet another job being done by "the invisible hand of the market."

Busy hands, all.

Marine Corps Times - News - More News

Body Armor:

The Marine Corps Times has the story:

The Marine Corps issued to nearly 10,000 troops body armor that government experts urged the Corps to reject after tests revealed critical, life-threatening flaws in the vests.

In all, the Marine Corps accepted about 19,000 Interceptor outer tactical vests from Point Blank Body Armor Inc. that failed government tests due to “multiple complete penetrations” of 9mm pistol rounds, failing scores on other ballistic or quality-assurance tests, or a combination of the two.
Won't stop 9mm pistol rounds! I've seen Sunday papers that would stop a 9mm round. I'm sure we all remember the photo of the guy whose tooth stopped one.

The officer in charge of Marine Corps Systems Command obviously knows this is bad, bad trouble. You can tell by the way he's taking full responsibility onto himself. Lt. Col. Gabriel Patricio is his name. One thing you will never see is a corporate or civilian government employee standing up to take a hit like he is doing. Can you imagine an FBI or CIA officer standing up and saying, "Yes, this was my responsibility, and I am the only one to blame"?

Pity we can't. Those agencies would be a lot better off if they were staffed with men like this. Every government agency must sometimes say that "mistakes were made." Not enough, not nearly enough, have men willing to say, "I made them."

Hat tip JH(G)D.

BLACKFIVE: Marine's Take Care Of Their Own

A Fallen Marine:

BlackFive has a story about a fallen K-9 Marine, and his escort out. When a Marine dog dies, he isn't buried in some shallow ditch, as a dog might be.

I am part of an organization that believed it was important enough to send two helicopters and their crews, into harms way in order to retrieve the body of one of its fallen. It made no difference that the Marine killed in action was a dog and not a man, what does matter is that each one of us involved felt the same.

To us, not only was it a warranted and reasonable utilization of Marines, Marine Corps assets and resources, but the risk to eight Marines and two aircraft was far outweighed by a pervading sense of honor, commitment and espirit de corps. Why else am I here, if not to go get a boy and his dog - both of whom are fellow Marines. Few things here have been as important as that mission to me, and to my crew as well.
The Air Force treats its dogs well, too. I would be surprised to discover that any American military unit did not. It is a high demonstration of the civilization we defend, and of why it is worth defending.

The Adventures of Chester

Interagency Seams:

The Adventures of Chester has an interesting piece of commentary on the subject today. Chester, an officer of Marines, examines the failure to capture bin Laden in this light -- but also several important, and less public, successes.