Guns & NO

The Lawyers and New Orleans:

Small comfort to the people who have been disarmed at gunpoint by armed bandits the New Orleans police, but the lawyers are indeed prowling over whether this action is either legal or Constitutional. Volokh hosts the debate, which is carried on by Dave Kopel (arguing that it violates even the Louisiana emergency act) and Orin Kerr (arguing that it may not violate that act, though it still may violate the Louisiana constitution, the US constitution, etc).

There is little to be done for the citizens of New Orleans until the courts resume their activity, except to write your Senators and ask them to join in the protest against this business. But there is important work to be done in your own state: take a look at the emergency laws operating where you live, and then speak to your state legislators about them. It seems to me that the Second Amendment prohibits this sort of conduct on its face. However, it never hurts to have a few extra ranks of legal spears between us and those who care nothing for the rights of men, and who are willing to leave them and their families defenseless in a wilderness.

This is an issue to be watched. If you see any posts out there about the emergency laws of the several states, or further posts from lawyers about the issue in contention in NO, mention them in the comments and we'll keep an updated list.


Eric Blair's Tour to the Stars:

There's a new section of links called "Eric Blair's Favorites" over on the sidebar. It's between "Easy Company, MilBloggers" and "News." He picked a number of things that interested him, and which I didn't already have on the links bar.

Some of the choices will be familiar to regular readers of blogs, but there are others that will be a surprise. One of the two biggest surprises for me was Cronaca, a remarkable site with some fascinating posts from the world of archaeology.

The other big surprise for me was the Countercolumn, formerly "Iraq Now." It was a surprise only because I was sure I'd always linked to Captain von Steenwyk's site. I was quite surprised to go over my links bar and find that, indeed, it wasn't already there.

I apologize for its long absence, because it is certainly a worthy read. I'll take the opportunity now to commend it to those of you who don't already read it.



Apparently Eric was right about that:

Waters were receding across this flood-beaten city today as police officers began confiscating weapons, including legally registered firearms, from civilians in preparation for a mass forced evacuation of the residents still living here.

Police officers looking for survivors today in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans.
No civilians in New Orleans will be allowed to carry pistols, shotguns or other firearms, said P. Edwin Compass III, the superintendent of police. "Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons," he said.
I have never had the first minute's trouble with any law enforcement agency, beyond the odd traffic ticket from my wild and misspent youth. Still and all -- if any law enforcement agency ever lets me down the way the NOPD has let down the people of New Orleans, prepare to be very disappointed when you ask for my guns.
But that order apparently does not apply to hundreds of security guards hired by businesses and some wealthy individuals to protect property. The guards, employees of private security companies like Blackwater, openly carry M-16's and other assault rifles. Mr. Compass said that he was aware of the private guards, but that the police had no plans to make them give up their weapons.
And no capability to do so, either. Blackwater would hand them their hats. I've had occasion to work with the gentlemen, via a mutual friend.

But there were still signs of confusion and uncertainty over government plans. FEMA's director, Michael D. Brown, had said his agency would begin issuing debit cards, worth at least $2,000 each, to allow hurricane victims to buy supplies for immediate needs. More than 319,000 people have already applied for federal disaster relief, and many evacuees began lining up at the Astrodome, in Houston, early today in hope of getting cards.
Two thousand dollars, eh? So that's, eh, five hundred bucks to replace the firearm with something suitable, and the rest for Raman noodles and a couple suits of clothes until you can find a new job.

Somewhere else.

I used to think the Atlanta city government was corrupt and mismanaged. Apparently, they were rank amateurs.

I'm thinking this fellow isn't going to be on the Huffingtion Post too much longer. (via Instapundit)

Make sure you read his bio.

Oh, and speaking of political humor, the Anarchist Pogo Party in Germany has taken advantage of the 'equal time' law by broadcasting what sounds like a very curious politcal commercial.

Reminds me of the Dadaists and Surrealists of the 1920's and 30's. Politics as theater. We're getting enough of that lately. And finally, as an antidote to that, Dennis the Peasant has a whole lot of things to say. Just keep reading. Accountants are sensible people.


Code Pink:

Code Pink has apparently accepted SMASH's challenge to help raise funds for the Katrina disaster. You might want to help out.



Congratulations to "Da Grunt," son of our own frequent commenter JarHeadDad, who has made corporal. Semper Fi.



Up the militia! Even, one supposes, the hastily assembled and fairly ignorant militia:

It's been a terrifying nine days for the four, scrambling for food, water and gasoline for their generator and an arsenal of weapons they feared they would need if complete lawlessness broke out in the historic neighborhood of renovated 19th century homes. The neighborhood having survived the storm without flood damage, Pervel and Harris, both former presidents of the Algiers Point Association, worried that looters and others seeking high ground would invade the community.

Yet they have not had to fire a shot.

And that's a good thing for them. They were not sure if any of the borrowed weapons even worked.
This isn't the best way to go about fulfilling your Second Amendment rights and duties. It's best for a militiaman to have his weapons ready, to be familiar with their operation, and prepared to serve at a moment's notice in the cause of the Republic.

Doc has a comment on the topic, which ends: "Have gun. Will travel." And that, my friends, is the the mark of a Paladin.

Not the ballad I'd pick for myself, but a worthy one.


A Letter from China:

Wang Jisi is a classic figure from the Chinese landscape: a scholar with influence at the court. He is, in fact, dean of the school of International Studies at an important Chinese university (which in Chinese is DaShui, lit. "Big School"). But more important than that is his position at the Central Party School of the Chinese Communist Party.

Dr. Wang has produced a paper for the journal of the Central Party School, which was revised and expanded for publication in English. It appears in the September/October issue of Foreign Affairs, and can be read here. It is an interesting document in several respects.

The first thing that is interesting about it is its circumstances. The paper, in its earlier Chinese form, will have been read and debated at the highest levels of the Chinese Communist Party. That they desired to see it "revised" and then issued in English is notable. It purports to be a piece of analysis from a respected scholar; it is in fact a letter from China's rulers as a whole. Dr. Wang is just far enough from the halls of power to let them speak without making formal promises; yet he is so close to those halls that we cannot doubt that they gave their blessing to his words.

Wang begins:

The United States is currently the only country with the capacity and the ambition to exercise global primacy, and it will remain so for a long time to come. This means that the United States is the country that can exert the greatest strategic pressure on China. Although in recent years Beijing has refrained from identifying Washington as an adversary or criticizing its "hegemonism" -- a pejorative Chinese code word for U.S. dominance -- many Chinese still view the United States as a major threat to their nation's security and domestic stability.
He is telling us that China has been trying to be friendly. But he also is giving us the formula, so we will understand what follows. Throughout the piece, Wang writes according to this formula: without formal reference to "hegemony," in friendly terms that play up the need for cooperation rather than competition, but explaining why China might reasonably view the United States as a threat.

That formula is followed precisely. When he speaks of US policy, it isn't "hegemony," but a "global security policy." He explains his understanding of US interests, so we will know that he is sympathetic:
Further bolstering U.S. primacy is the fact that many of the country's potential competitors, such as the European Union, Russia, and Japan, face internal problems that will make it difficult for them to overtake the United States anytime soon. For a long time to come, the United States is likely to remain dominant, with sufficient hard power to back up aggressive diplomatic and military policies.

From a Chinese perspective, the United States' geopolitical superiority was strengthened in 2001 by Washington's victory in the Afghan war. The United States has now established political, military, and economic footholds in Central Asia and strengthened its military presence in Southeast Asia, in the Persian Gulf, and on the Arabian Peninsula. These moves have been part of a global security strategy that can be understood as having one center, two emphases. Fighting terrorism is the center. And the two emphases are securing the Middle East and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The greater Middle East, a region stretching from Kashmir to Morocco and from the Red Sea to the Caucasus, is vital to U.S. interests. Rich in oil and natural gas, the region is also beset by ethnic and religious conflicts and is a base for rampant international terrorism. None of the countries in the area is politically stable, and chaos there can affect the United States directly, as the country learned on September 11.

On the nonproliferation front, the United States' main concerns are Iran and North Korea, two states that are striving to develop nuclear technology and have long been antagonistic toward Washington. In 2004, the United States carried out the largest redeployment of its overseas forces since World War II in order to meet these challenges.
Note particularly the list of 'potential US competitors': "European Union, Russia, and Japan." The absence of China from that list is not an accident, but a statement -- even an invitation.

We all know that China is grieved, and concerned, with the US military bases in central and southeast Asia. Wang brings them up early in his list of places where the US is exerting power, and recognizes the strength of the position. But he defuses it from being an issue between us and them: "These moves have been part of a global security strategy that can be understood as having one center, two emphases. Fighting terrorism is the center. And the two emphases are securing the Middle East and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

This is part of the mindset of classical China, which influenced much of Asia in the days when they were ascendant. Social harmony requires "a beautiful mask" to cover "the ugly truth." Politeness, a central duty of everyone, means upholding that mask to prevent the webs of social harmony from being disturbed. It is not that anyone actually believes it -- it is that everyone adheres to it, that harmony can be maintained in spite of everything.

Here we are given that mask as a gift. China's Communists are making us an offer. They are willing to pretend to see our actions in that context, if we will pretend that that is the only context for them.

The rest of the piece is much the same. It is a fascinating read because it lays out how China is prepared to meet us halfway on the great issues of the day. Iraq, Asia, economics: from first to last, with one exception, we are being offered an understanding for mutual benefit. That one exception of course is Taiwan -- it is the condition on which all this is laid.
History has already proved that the United States is not China's permanent enemy. Nor does China want the United States to see it as a foe. Deng Xiaoping's prediction that "things will be all right when Sino-U.S. relations eventually improve" was a cool judgment based on China's long-term interests. To be sure, aspirations cannot replace reality. The improvement of Chinese-U.S. relations will be slow, tortuous, limited, and conditional, and could even be reversed in the case of certain provocations (such as a Taiwanese declaration of independence). It is precisely for this reason that the thorny problems in the bilateral relationship must be handled delicately, and a stable new framework established to prevent troubles from disrupting an international environment favorable for building prosperous societies. China's leadership is set on achieving such prosperity by the middle of the twenty-first century; with Washington's cooperation, there is little to stand in its way.
Should we accept the deal that has been placed on the table? Much depends on how much we trust the Communists to keep their word. Yet the offer is backed, not merely with promises, but with reason. The explanations for why the United States and China have aligned interests are compelling. Having lived in China, too, I sense that they will adhere to the mask once they don it -- so long as we do also. If we accept what is offered, it will become in their mind a matter of honor to uphold the masks that protect the greater harmony.

The deal is much starker when it is viewed the way Americans like to view things. We prefer the ugly truth, and here it is: Taiwan for peace. If we will do that, speak more kindly of them, pretend that our interests are what they have described them to be -- they don't care if we change our policies a whit, just how we talk about them -- then we can have peace, and all the benefits that are laid out before us in the document. Yet it contains, plainly but softly, the threat of war if we do not accept.

It is a kingly document, courtly and well-spoken. Every word of it is structured and considered, and every word -- in its fashion -- is meant. We must think carefully what answer to make, and where our interests lie.


Viking Ships:

When I got home last night from the feasts, although it was after nine o' clock, I discovered the the grandparents whom we are visiting down here in Georgia had not put the boy to bed. Three-year-old Beowulf was sitting up watching television with them.

When I came through the door, he lept up happily and came racing over to me, dancing with every step. "Wow!" I thought to myself. "He's never been this happy to see me. I guess having me and his mother gone all day has made him extra glad to see us, and..."

So much for that train of thought. It turned out that the grandparents had bought him a present that afternoon, but told him he couldn't have it until Daddy came home.

He went racing off into their bedroom, and then came out with this huge blue box under his arm. The thing was so big that "under his arm" could be accomplished only with great difficulty, and he was dragging the thing along the floor rather than carrying it. "You gotta open this!" he said.

I picked it up to look at it. It was a fine gift indeed.

"Get your knife out!" Beowulf shouted, dancing in place with anticipation.

So I did. What a happy boy.


Evenings in Ellijay:

Ellijay is the seat of Gilmer County, Georgia, the apple-growing capital of... well, the world, as far as I know, but they claim only to be the Apple Capital of Georgia. Apples were the crop they settled on to avoid the destruction of the boll weevil, when it destroyed the major part of the economy of Georgia in the 1920s. Georgia had an economy based on what social scientists call "monoculture farming," which is to say that the whole economy is based around a single crop -- like coffee or sugar in some places today.

In Georgia, it was cotton, until the boll weevil. The people then had to figure out something else to grow, and start from scratch. Meanwhile the financial machine made things worse: all the banks crashed because they weren't getting payments on their agricultural loans; everybody lost their lands when the banks seized it and tried to sell it to cover the loans; and so on. It took about ten years to get it sorted out, which was just in time for the Great Depression to smash everyone equally. That means that, for Georgia, it was really a twenty-year depression.

Nevertheless, people got by. First they grew subsistence crops on the land, and eventually they managed to develop new forms of agriculture. These days, pine trees are the major crop up in the north of the state -- short needle pines, which are easily made into pulp that can be used to make paper. There are also the apples, and peaches, soybeans somewhat further south, and many other things as well. And, of course, these days we can grow cotton again too.

After yesterday's meal at the Pueblo Grill, I encountered a flyer for a local festival. I transcribe it below. I promise that I have typed it in accurately; or, as Dave Barry says, I am not making this up.

1st Annual
Think we're kidding? Just be there!
Ellijay Music Park
September 9 & 10, 2005

7:00pm Karaoke Contest
With Southern Entertainment

11:00am Hot wings cookoff

Saturday Special Events:
Flea Market (Call to Reserve Space)
"Redneck Truck Show"
Redneck Horseshoes with Toilet Seats
Tobacco Ring Jeans Contest

For the Kids:
Remote Control Hunt
Mudpit Belly Flop
Water Balloon Fight
So, out of tragedy and hardship came a people with what appears to be a very good sense of humor. They don't mind if America laughs at them by calling them Rednecks and assigning all these stereotypes to them. They just want to laugh along.


Many Meetings:

Today Grim pulled his great viking ship up on two high shores, and held feasts among the wrack. It was a very pleasant day, the best I've had in quite a while. I'd like to thank everyone who came out.

The first feast was held with the crew of Del's FreeSpeech, an Atlanta area blog. Del's a libertarian blogger, whose editorial philosophy has always been to give out guest accounts to anyone who felt like they had something to say. It's an interesting place to drop by.

We met at the Pueblo Grill, which is surely the finest Mexican restaurant in the mountains of North Georgia. A good time was had by all, I think I can report.

Later in the evening, we held a second feast at the Applebee's in Buford, Georgia, whose location proved to be more difficult to triangulate than anyone expected. Nevertheless, it ended well. JarHeadDad and his gracious and lovely bride came out to dine with us, and we ate well of the best that the house had to offer. Those of you who have been worried about him lately can stop worrying: he seems to have recovered nicely from the knock he took from Thor's hammer.

It was a pleasure to meet a number of readers, and to eat and drink and hold council. Thank you, everyone who came out. I am glad to have known you all.

You can just feel the frustration.

Over at Countercolumn, Jason van Steenwyk is ripping Bob Herbert and the NY Times a new one.

Not that I think they're going to notice.

But I'm hopeful others will. I see that Instapundit noticed too.


A Challenge From the Right:

There have been two pieces recently charging that the American Right, and particularly the Republican party, is splitting. The first of these was Jonathan Rauch's, "America's Anti-Reagan isn't Hillary Clinton, It's Rick Santorum." The second is in today's Opinion Journal, where Cass Sunstein has a piece called "John Roberts, Minimalist."

Now, I'm a Southern Democrat, which is to say that I have no obvious home in the politics of modern America. I'm a Classical Liberal rather than a conservative, and a Democrat of a very old type rather than a Republican of the modern strain. Still, most people would locate me on the Right, and I suppose that qualifies me to consider the topic.

Rauch posits a divide between conservatives who believe in the modern concept of Freedom, versus those who believe in the original American concept of Liberty. As he writes:

In Santorum's view, freedom is not the same as liberty. Or, to put it differently, there are two kinds of freedom. One is "no-fault freedom," individual autonomy uncoupled from any larger purpose: "freedom to choose, irrespective of the choice." This, he says, is "the liberal definition of freedom," and it is the one that has taken over in the culture and been imposed on the country by the courts.

Quite different is "the conservative view of freedom," "the liberty our Founders understood." This is "freedom coupled with the responsibility to something bigger or higher than the self." True liberty is freedom in the service of virtue -- not "the freedom to be as selfish as I want to be," or "the freedom to be left alone," but "the freedom to attend to one's duties -- duties to God, to family, and to neighbors."
The Sunstein piece suggests that there is a similar divide between the judicial/legal thinkers on the right:
Minimalist conservatives insist that social change should occur through the democratic process, not through the judiciary. They do not want to extend the liberal Supreme Court decisions of the 1950s and '60s. On principle, they prefer narrow decisions and small steps, nudges not earthquakes. When confronted by contentious issues, minimalists focus on details and particulars, and are prepared to rule in ways that run contrary to their politics.

Fundamentalist conservatives do not believe in small steps. They think that in the last 50 years, constitutional law has gone badly, even wildly, wrong. They want to reorient it in major ways. They oppose Roe v. Wade, of course. But they also reject the right of privacy itself, arguing it lacks roots in the Constitution. They do not hesitate to use judicial power to strike down affirmative action and to protect property rights. They are entirely prepared to restrict the authority of Congress by invalidating laws protecting the environment, campaign finance reforms or gun control restrictions. They also have an expansive view of presidential power.

In many areas, then, fundamentalists welcome a highly activist role for the federal courts. Consider a remarkable fact: Since 1995, the Rehnquist Court has struck down over 30 acts of Congress, including parts of the Violence Against Women Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Fundamentalist conservatives generally approve of these decisions, and would like to see more of the same.
I've been thinking about these splits and/or divisions, and the truth is, I don't think they'll turn out to be very serious. The simple reason I feel that way is this: I can't see any path that works except the road between them.

In the case of the first split: Sure. Liberty is meant to be put in the service of virtue. And it's very important to make that argument. Aristotle pointed to happiness as the point of ethics; but he defined happiness as "Rational activity in accord with excellence or virtue." That's an ancient, correct understanding for how life ought to be lived.

On the other hand, there's no way to have a free society in which you dictate what excellence or virtue means. People who aren't free to decide that aren't free at all.

So, there's no way forward except persuasion. Santorum's crowd is right this far: you have to be making the argument that people should use their liberty in pursuit of duty and virtue. You shouldn't leave that unsaid. But they are wrong to any degree that they think that it can be dictated or legislated. If it isn't freely chosen, it isn't free; and Americans in general will rebel against anything you try to shove down their throats.

You end up having to take both sides, which is to say that you choose the road between. You have to argue for virtue and also you have to argue for your particular conception of virtue. You can't use the government to enforce either.

As for the judicial philosophy, it looks the same to me. Should you take the path of moderation, respecting the decisions of the democratic branches? Yes, of course -- as long as they can point to the part of the Constitution where they get the authority to do what they are doing. If they can do that, the courts should stand aside. The attempt to find judicial solutions for problems yields the necessity of finding judicial solutions to every problem, which is more weight than the courts can bear.

On the other hand, if a decision or a law is plainly unconstitutional, you should always overturn it. Otherwise, what's the point of the Constitution? It's not a book of suggestions.

So, am I in favor of liberty or freedom? Yes.

Am I in favor of minimalism? Yes. Of fundamentalism? Yes.

And I guess I'm opposed to them all, too.

Asian news

Asian News:

Reading newspapers is rather like developing a taste for a regional cuisine. You have the British newspapers, which are so brash and over the top. You have the French newspapers, which are outrageously leftist in their every thought. You have the American newspapers, which pretend to an objectivity they neither desire nor feel. And then you have the Asian newspapers, which... well, see for yourself.

From The Independent of Bangladesh:

Maulana Fariduddin Masud, a former director of Islamic Foundation, who was arrested from Zia International Airport on August 22 for his suspected links to August 17 bombings across country, is now undergoing treatment at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Suhrawardi Hospital after he reportedly fell sick during interrogation.
Ah, yes, that will happen. Poor fellow -- sick enough to need visit the ICU for six days, as the article goes on to explain.

He must have been terribly ill when he got on that plane. Lucky he got arrested, so he could get the care he needed at the state's expense.