Dragons of Occoquan

While waiting for my evening flight, I visited the little riverside town of Occoquan

Wild Coincidence

While here in DC, I caught up with a good friend from the Iraq war. We randomly went into an Italian restaurant because the place he wanted to eat was closed. This flag was in a frame there. The certificate has a picture of the Al Faw palace in Iraq, which was on Victory South where we were stationed together. The date of the certificate is a day we were there together, and it’s signed by the general who was our Corps commander.

Still at it

It's a month past Christmas, but my snowflake mania hasn't abated yet.

Years of War

The NYT is reporting that the Pentagon plans to increase production of 155mm artillery shells for Ukraine to 90,000 a month — in two years. 

Without getting deeper into it, that accords with what I’ve been hearing up here in Mordor. They think they’re going to drag this out for at least two years, and bleed Russia white. Can you imagine the effects of 90,000 heavy artillery shells a month on a nation? Those are the big boy shells used by platforms like our Paladins. 

Sorrows of Parting

It’s always hard to leave behind someone you really love. 

I mean the bike, not the Winchester ’94.

I crossed the high pass at Panthertown this morning. It was 34 degrees and pouring. After a long day of airports I’m in rain-soaked DC. I’ll be here through Saturday. 

Traveling Anew

Today I am packing for another trip to the DC region, my second in a month. I will be there for a week in case any of you are passing through. 

Someday I hope I get to go somewhere more fun than DC and various other warzones. Once I did get to go to Jerusalem, for which I remain very grateful; and some of the warzones have had their attractions. The southern Philippines were truly beautiful, and Iraq was at least a field of honor and a place of great interest. Perhaps it is too much to wish to go to Scotland, or to Spain.

UPDATE: That piece is from the "Ladies Love Outlaws" album, which has also this funny song that I don't think I've ever put up here before.

And of course, for those who have gotten to travel widely, there's always the piece initially made famous by Hank Snow, and yet more famously recorded by Johnny Cash.

Two Differences from the Declaration

In the comments to the post on arms below, Tom asks after two differences between the logic I offer and the one from the Declaration of Independence.

The Declaration asserts two things that I’m not arguing here:

1) That there is a right to life (it is named, alongside ‘liberty and the pursuit of happiness’);

2) That establishing a government is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for defending these rights.

I’m not arguing (1) because I am not sure about it. I’m not arguing for (2) because I hope it isn’t true.


I would be very interested in your thinking on these two things you aren't arguing.
The latter is easily explained. I hope it will prove to be true that an adequate defense can be made through voluntary organizations of free individuals, which would not rise to the level of 'a government.' An adequately distributed capacity for resistance might make a populace sufficiently prickly, as it were, that even a tyrannical state would find it to hard on their throat to swallow. 

One might argue that something like that proved to be true in Afghanistan. The analogy benefits from setting aside the question of what constitutes tyranny, and focusing purely on the dynamic of whether a free association can prove indigestible to the most highly-organized government. The Taliban's loose organization of families and those freely choosing to resist conquest proved impossible for the United States and its coalition to digest, though it kept Afghanistan in its gullet (as it were) for two decades. Previously the Soviet Union had a very similar experience, substituting for American technical proficiency significantly brutal tactics. That did not work either. 

In other words, Joe Biden's favorite claim that resistance to the American government requires F-15s instead of AR-15s is likely exactly backwards. A government that depended on F-15s would have logistical chains that could be easily broken by the American military, quickly collapsing its ability to resist conquest and domination. A nation adequately provided with AR-15s could have a distributed capacity for resistance to those things that would be insuperable even by the US Army and Marine Corps even if they were provided with air superiority, fire support, and decades of time. We might do better to ship rifles to Taiwan than air defense systems. 

That is what I hope is true. It does not admit of a logical proof such as I was offering in the post below, only pragmatic arguments. If it is true, though, then we can organize ourselves in the human future along the lines of anarchy: no leaders, no masters, no domination. Just free individuals defending each other's liberty, as we come together to do other worthy things -- whether churches or volunteer fire departments, accepting that the latter would require another funding model in the absence of grants from tax-funded state agencies. That would be a better way forward, one that lacked even the mechanisms for the grasping to exert power over others. It is the 'Black Flag America' that I hope someday might become the freely-chosen human future.

I will put the other question after the jump.

Jimmie Rodgers

AVI mentioned the famous singer at his place yesterday. As I noted in the comments, he continues to be remembered. Here's Coulter Wall, from the recent music analysis post, citing Jimmie Rodger's famous "Blue Yodel #9" during an imagined encounter with the RCMP.

Here's Jimmie Rodgers' original.

And here's Waylon Jennings memorializing Jimmie in his own time. In addition to the direct reference, he adapts some lines from the song above.

Sidebar and Authors

I added James' blog to the sidebar, the absence of which was merely an oversight on my part. If any regular readers/commenters have blogs they want added, drop them in the comments. I'll be happy to include anyone of good will in the links.

Also, regular commenters who might like to write/post here occasionally should reach out to me, either in the comments or at grimbeornr (note final 'r') at yahoo. I'm 

Arms and Human Dignity

I. The Necessity of Arms to Human Dignity

The necessity of arms to a dignified human being arises from self-defense. That already assumes dignity, though, which ought to be explained. Unlike a rock or a fallen twig, a human being cannot just be broken or otherwise used for your amusement or instrumental purpose. A child might enjoy throwing rocks in a stream, or floating twigs down it; it might be useful to repurpose a rock as part of the foundation of your house, or a set of twigs to start a fire to warm that house. Another human being cannot be seized by force and used without their permission: this is to say that they have a dignity that rocks and twigs and the other merely material stuff of the world does not.

That dignity entails a right of self-defense. Should someone attempt to seize you, use you, or destroy you in order to advance their own ends, as a dignified being you have a right to resist. You have a right to insist on having your dignity respected, and to using such means -- including force and violence -- as are necessary to that defense of your dignity. Because you have this right, you have also a right to the necessary means to the end of defending your dignity. Because those means are a necessary condition of the right, to deny the means is also to deny the realization of the right. 

To deny you the realization of the right of defense therefore entails denying you your dignity. Note that such a denial itself is the kind of attack on your dignity against which you are entitled to defend yourself. The potential for such a denial therefore itself entitles you to the means to defend yourself against such a denial.

II. Why Government Does Not Satisfy this Necessary Condition

Readers will note that the discussion so far follows the logic of the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence
(Assumption) All men are created equal.
(Assumption) All men have certain inalienable rights (such as this dignity).
(Unstated Assumption) There are dangers in the world that imperil these rights.
∴ Governments are instituted among men to protect these rights.
One might argue that the establishment of a government -- with an army, a police force, etc. -- itself satisfies the provision of a means to defend one's dignity. Arms could then be restricted to the police, army, etc., without such a restriction being an attack on human dignity.

The pragmatic lesson of the 20th century (and likely most or all other centuries also) is that one's government is in fact the chief danger to dignity, as well as to life, liberty, and other rights. Imperial Japan in its domination of the Chinese nation used terrible modes of oppression, and tested plague bombs and other weapons on the Chinese people. Even so, it did not come close to killing as many Chinese people as did their own government under Mao Zedong: the Great Leap Forward alone killed at least thirty million Chinese people, and perhaps twice that many. German losses in World War II were over three million people, which is approximately half as many of their people as the government killed through its genocidal policies. The Soviet losses were far worse, but nowhere near as significant as the number starved to death on purpose by their own government. 

Given the clear evidence that one's government is itself a chief danger to one's human dignity, the provision of the means to defend human dignity must also include the means -- at least collectively, in such large scale cases -- to reject one's government. 

This, not coincidentally, lines up exactly in agreement with the logic and conclusions of the next section of the Declaration of Independence. Far from being a radical opinion, it is the founding logic of the United States and of the American model.

Therefore: the right of the people to keep and bear arms is a right that no government, this nor any other, can infringe upon without a basic denial of human dignity. Such a denial itself entails a right of self-defense against such a government; and the everlasting potential for such a denial therefore entails an everlasting, permanent, and basic right to arms. Human dignity does not merely entail but absolutely requires the right to keep and bear arms.

America is a Safe Country

A fact about the United States that is apparently difficult to grasp is that almost all homicide happens in a very small number of neighborhoods. Most American counties have a murder rate of zero -- not zero percent, zero murders. The vast majority of the remnant have very few murders. The murder rate of the United States as a whole is driven as high as it is not even by a few bad cities. It is driven there by a few neighborhoods within a few cities. For the most part, America has no violence problem, no 'gun violence' problem, no crime problem.

This should have major public policy implications, but it doesn't because the Democratic party and the Republican establishment that enables it prefer global solutions. Officially the argument is that focusing on the problem smacks of discrimination. Imposing new rules on everybody everywhere is fair because it treats everyone according to the same rules. That this approach also enables the government to assert power over the lives of everyone -- and not the tiny minority in a tiny subset of places who are causing the problem -- is of course merely a coincidence. 

A similar issue occurs in the gun control debate. Almost all gun crime occurs in those same places, not across the broad country that owns hundreds of millions of guns peacefully. Also, gun crime is the product of handguns, not so-called 'assault weapons,' nor long guns in general. 
In 2020, handguns were involved in 59% of the 13,620 U.S. gun murders and non-negligent manslaughters for which data is available, according to the FBI. Rifles – the category that includes guns sometimes referred to as “assault weapons” – were involved in 3% of firearm murders. Shotguns were involved in 1%. 
Likewise, 80% of gun crime is carried out with illegally possessed firearms. Gun control laws won't affect these guns at all: to have any effect, they'd have to drop the level of legally-owned firearms so low that stealing guns was very difficult. That's a non-starter in a nation that has more guns than people, as well as a constitutional right to keep and bear them that is vigorously and rightly defended by the citizenry. 

Any sensible gun control proposal would thus focus on (a) handguns carried in (b) the particular neighborhoods that produce the crime and violence problem. The police there would react to handguns they lawfully encounter, whether via arrests or legal searches, by checking to see if they are stolen; if so, arrest would be followed by intense prosecution. At most this policy might extend to nearby neighborhoods; it need not trouble the most of the United States, where mostly lawful people engage in the exercise of their constitutional rights responsibly and to the common good. 

While this would impose a higher incidence of police interaction on those poor people living in these troubled neighborhoods, I'd wager they'd mostly be grateful for it. They probably want to know why the police are so hard to find in their neighborhoods. Concentrating the resources where the problems are would almost certainly improve the lives of the suffering majority in those areas. Those who found the police unbearable could, of course, move: they are free to do so now. 

Yet the desire of the powerful is not, of course, to fix the problem. It is to cement control, and to destroy a constitutional right that they find troublesome to their overweening ambitions -- to their hubris, to put it in a single meaningful word.