Swift Water

I’ll be in the river all weekend in training as a Swift Water technician. You’re on your own for a couple of days.


I did not include this in the text of the letter because I doubt the sincerity of the politicians raising this issue, and therefore its real rhetorical force. However, I note that these 'Red Flag' laws run into the teeth of the entire Black Lives Matter / Defund the Police movement's stated goals. Some activists may really care about it, so it's worth noting separately.

These aggressive 'Red Flag' laws are going to be enforced disproportionately against the black community, because that is where policing resources are already disproportionately focused. Likewise, rural sheriffs like mine are not going to enforce these laws because they won't believe in them. It could very well be that black Americans end up being the chief victims of these midnight raids by armed agents of the state into the sanctity of their homes, when they have committed no actual crime. It may well be that the accidental police shootings that will inevitably occur from these policies will chiefly affect the black community.

And even though I assume the police won't intend to kill anyone, the risks are great. They are being dispatched to someone's home whom they've been assured is so potentially dangerous that they must go disarm him right now. They're going to be on edge, and will deploy with officer safety in mind. The chances of someone getting accidentally shot are very high.

Indeed, if these raids are conducted at night when children are home, there's a high probability that this policy will actually kill more American children than the school shootings it is meant to prevent. This is because school shootings are random acts by a tiny fraction of the population, whereas these Red Flag laws would be enforced systematically across the country by organized police forces on a daily basis. Even though the police would not be intending to kill any one, the far greater incidence of these events coupled with their high risks make it likely that more innocent lives will be lost than saved. 

By night, these will sometimes include children who were sleeping at home. America will have relocated its gun violence problem from its schools to its homes, while dramatically intensifying the problem's incidence and scale.

Dear Senator

An open letter you are all free to deploy if you like.
Dear Senator:

School shootings are a problem, but they are a problem that is easily resolved without violating the Bill of Rights. The solution is a single point of entry, the sort the military calls an "entry control point (ECP)," plus a school resource officer inside the building to control it. Then even if someone attempts to force entry there is a trained, armed officer immediately on the scene whose job is simply to hold the entry from a covered position until responding units arrive to catch the attacker in a pincer. This tactic uses best practices to ensure student safety while also maximizing officer safety. Do that.

What you must not do, under any circumstances, is compromise one inch on the Bill of Rights. The proposals being floated violate the 2nd Amendment, certainly, but also the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th. We must not allow unconstitutional laws in a fit of emotion.

That the 2nd Amendment is being violated by so-called 'assault weapon' bans should be clear from the logic of both the Heller vs. DC decision by the Supreme Court, but also the logic of the 20th century US v. Miller decision. Heller held that weapons are protected by the 2nd if they are in common use for lawful purposes. The AR-15 is the most popular rifle in America, in very common use; and rifles of all kinds put together, including the AR platform and also all other rifles, account for fewer homicides than blunt instruments. Almost all rifle use is lawful. Thus, Heller's test is satisfied. 

The Miller test was of a claim that the National Firearms Act unconstitutionally proscribed sawed-off shotguns. The Miller court found that it was constitutional to ban them, however, because the 2nd Amendment specifically protects weapons that are fit for militia service. That is to say that 'military style' or 'assault weapons' are precisely what the Miller court thought enjoyed 2nd Amendment protection. The AR-15 is exactly the weapon that the US military would ask citizens to provide themselves with should, for example, a situation similar to Ukraine's ever eventuate here. While semi-automatic, its mode of operation is similar enough to the military's standard rifle that every Marine or Soldier could teach citizens its accurate use and proper maintenance. Further, stocks of spare parts and ammunition are widely available and distributed across America's military stockpiles. This is the clear choice for a militia rifle in the present moment; and thus, Miller's test is also satisfied especially by this particular weapon and its class.

The 4th Amendment requires probable cause for searches. All jurisprudence on this issue for centuries establishes that 'probable cause' means 'probable cause that a crime has been committed.' The 'Red Flag' laws being proposed eliminate this standard because they mean to effect seizures before any crime has been committed -- perhaps before one has even been contemplated. This is plainly unconstitutional.

The 5th Amendment provides that no one's property shall be seized without due process of law. The proposed 'Red Flag' law deprives people of the due process of law that has held sway since this country's founding. 

The 6th Amendment requires that citizens be presented with the opportunity to confront witnesses against them. 'Red Flag' laws also dispose of this bit of due process by having the issue handled outside the normal legal processes. The 6th does apply to criminal prosecutions, which these actions could not be as no crime will yet have occurred; but the core principle that one should  not be condemned by secret evidence or hidden witnesses must be preserved even here.

The 8th Amendment prohibits excessive fines. Seizing valuable firearms constitutes an excessive fine given that no crime has occurred that might justify any sort of fine. So too does requiring the condemned to hire a lawyer and fight a court case to prove his innocence in order to recover his property -- especially since his actual innocence is uncontested, since even the state admits he will have committed no crime at the time of the fine being imposed.

None of these are acceptable concessions. There are clear and affordable solutions that are readily available, as described in the opening paragraph of this letter. Use them, and preserve the Bill of Rights intact for we citizens and for future generations of Americans.

With all Due Respect,


Let's Check in on the Department of Justice

Just a collection of news here.

Buzzfeed (BF): Secret DOJ report clears itself of political wrongdoing in Gen. Flynn unmasking

AP: Clinton lawyer cleared of wrongdoing in Durham case

Fox: Former US Attorney Brett Tolman: "There is not a single district court in this country other than Washington, D.C., where this [Clinton lawyer acquittal] would have happened."

WLTX: A Year and a Half Later, More People from the Carolinas now being arrested by DOJ in January 6th probe. "The FBI and prosecutors with the U.S. Department of Justice are not slowing down their effort to track the hundreds of people believed to be involved in the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol."

The Guardian (UK): DOJ Appears to be Investigating Donald Trump

Sword and Sorcery

An essay by Richard Fernandez.

UPDATE: Somehow I accidentally linked that originally to a YouTube performance of the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack. The link is now fixed, but I kept the Conan link here in case anyone happened to want a link to that soundtrack.

Memorial Day 2022

The chaplain said in his prayer that we are a broken nation, and begged God to forgive and restore us. Another year that might have seemed unpatriotic; but not this year. 

Women failing for no good reason

Unfortunately, when you fail for no good reason, you're likely to latch onto a dumb explanation for failure and therefore advocate fixing the wrong thing.

The Wall Street Journal descended to a little pandering recently with an article about how women don't get promoted enough because they get asked to do scut work that's considered "non-promotable."

It should be obvious that any corporation not run by saintly geniuses is full of people who are very good at figuring out which hapless co-workers can be conned into doing their scutwork. The ones who qualify for promotions have the good sense to decline. It does seem that men disproportionately figure this gambit out, perhaps because women are too focused on playing Nice Girl and expecting a a warm, nurturing pat on the head as they are positioned for success, and therefore miss the chance to play Competent Team Member and earn a promotion honestly. If Nice Girl is more important, fine, more power to you, but accept that a promotion isn't in the cards. Your reward will have to take another form. Luxuriate in your indifference to filthy lucre and rejection of tainted patriarchal status.

The Journal cut off comments after receiving only about 55, but not before several women exposed the article's absurd premise.

"We will kill you graveyard dead"

The short version:

The long version:

Oh Dear

"'Guns should not be in the hands of the mentally unstable' says senile old man with nukes."