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Showing posts from March, 2013

Comment Rescue (?) and child-related gun violence in Delaware

In my post about the idiotic over-reaction to a New Jersey 10-year-old posing with his new squirrel rifle , Dana Garrett left me this response: One waits, apparently in vain, for you to post the annual rates of children who either shoot themselves or someone else with a gun. But then you Libertarians are notoriously ambivalent to and silent about data and facts and would rather talk abstract principles and fear monger (like the government will confiscate your guns). It doesn't require any degree of subtlety to see why you are data and fact adverse. The facts indicate we have a crisis with gun violence and accidents in the USA, and Libertarians offer nothing credible to address it. Lives, even the lives of children, get sacrificed to the fetishism of liberty. That's intellectual cowardice. OK, Dana, let's talk facts. According to the Children's Defense Fund , which is itself only querying the CDCP data base, fewer than 10 children/teens were killed per year in Delaw

First California, then Missouri ...

The slippery slopes get ... more slippery: Earlier this month  Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder   held a press conference  to expose the backdoor gun registration operation in Missouri . Kinder accused the Missouri Department of Revenue of working with the Department of Homeland Security to install new hardware and software to obtain data on Missouri citizens and transfer this information to DHS and unnamed third parties. The last state senator to use his subpoena power was then state senator now Governor Jay Nixon. The Department of Revenue denied the claims. Yesterday, Missouri state  Senator Kurt Shaefer  subpoenaed the the Missouri Department of Revenue to produce all documents between the Department of Revenue and any federal agency, including but not limited to, the Department of Homeland Security or FEMA, regarding driver’s license and ID information of Missouri citizens. Senator Shaefer said this about the suspected privacy abuses, “This is one of the most appalling ab

A special feeding place for the troll who thinks I'm Satan

This thread.  You're now done everywhere else. And since it is your very own thread, Troll, I thought I'd grace it with one of my favorite magazine covers of all time (Alan Frazetta, 1972). This is your little spot under the bridge, Troll.  From everywhere else, you're banned.

Some honesty about Common Core standards

In the wake of the rush to adopt Common Core standards nationwide (which beautifully mirrors the standards movement of the early 1990s), Delaware held a major event this past weekend. Four things you should know about the Common Core standards: 1.  They've been adopted before they were even completed.  I guess we had to adopt the standards before we could know what's in them . 2.  They remain very controversial among education researchers and subject matter experts (since there are no social studies standards yet [see Nr. 1 above] I can only examine the English/Language Arts standards that overlap Social Studies, because it is in that field that I am a subject matter expert.  They are bad.  I will do a detailed analysis soon. 3.  They are not going to work as advertised because they are too extensive, and they are delusional in the expectations of teacher time and the realities of student preparation for them. 4.  Even the people who wrote them are already hedging the

Always read the article all the way to the end

It is no secret that Washington is the most pro-abortion rights state in the country. So I guess it would be no surprise to find the Washington legislature attempting to force all health insurers to provide abortion coverage : With 21 states having adopted bans or severe restrictions on insurance companies from paying for abortions, Washington is alone in seriously considering legislation mandating the opposite. The Reproductive Parity Act, as supporters call it, would require insurers in Washington state who cover maternity care — which all insurers must do — to also pay for abortions. OK, we could argue this one from a pro-abortion/anti-abortion point of view, or from an Obamacare/free market point of view, or ... But wait, why argue the point at all, since this is what you find in one of the last paragraphs of the story: At present, all major insurers in Washington state cover abortions, and Cody, the bill's sponsor, said she knows of no carrier with plans to change. I

With apologies to Hube: dopey WNJ comments of the week

(Well, Hube, at least I'm pulling out Facebook comments and not poaching on your preserve in the Letters.) You will all remember the case this week of the photo of the young man posing with the .22LR squirrel rifle that his Dad got him for his birthday with resulted in Family Services and the local police attempting to search his house.  The story itself is a travesty since neither the father nor the boy had done anything remotely illegal (and check out the picture for how careful the son is being not to have his finger inside the trigger guard when the photo was taken). But the incident is chiefly important for revealing in the Comments Section--within Delaware--the fact that many backers of "common sense gun laws" really do have the elimination of 2nd Amendment rights and eventual outright confiscation of all privately held firearms as their objective: Let's run that by again: Elliot Jacobson says, This instance is not a case of a father bonding with h

Ultimately, GOP pundits are right that Libertarian foreign policy views are a deal-breaker

I have friends in the Campaign for Liberty, friends among the Tea Partiers, and friends who insist that they are "small-l" libertarians who stay in the two-party system so as not to be marginalized. I respect them, often make common cause with them on civil liberties issues, but I firmly believe that if they think they are going to take over the Republican Party and remake it along more libertarian lines, they are simply ... wrong. I used to believe that the sticking point would be an obsession with regulating other people's morality, that the GOP could not give up wanting to be between the sheets, inside women's vaginas, and sniffing out pot smoke.  Ironically, there is a growing trend to change approach on many of these issues.  Generationally, young conservatives don't really care about marriage equality like their parents did, may be opposed to abortion on theological grounds but aren't picketing the clinics any more, and a lot of them really (at least

You have to remember that the same people who told us Obamacare would lead to lower health care costs ...

... are the ones telling us now that more gun control will reduce violence in American society. Three years after Obamacare became law, Investors Business Daily uses reports primarily from the General Accounting Office to discover (surprise! surprise!) they were completely wrong about cost containment. The middle class will pay up to $800 billion in new taxes, 7-20 million people will lose their current coverage, premiums will continue to skyrocket, the deficit will go up, and the plan as designed will still leave 30 million Americans uninsured. Funny, you don't actually hear them talking about what a great deal it is any more, do you?

The comedy and tragedy of FBI instant background checks

So much debate in Delaware over the propriety of FBI instant background checks for virtually all gun purchases ... ... and so little information about the background check system. This is critical because proponents of such checks have a belief that expanding them will dramatically improve public safety by limiting those who can possess guns, while opponents (including me) see an even greater unconstitutional police state in the making. So I went to the source:   the Government Accounting Office's July 2012 report on FBI Background Checks. What I discovered (and I am not through parsing it) is that the system is bizarre mixture of Charlie Chaplin and Big Brother. For example: The GAO report erroneously lists Delaware as ALREADY requiring background checks for ALL gun purchases, including private transactions.  Either the agency was psychic, knowing already in mid-2012 that HB 35 will be enacted into law, or just inept.  But it certainly makes me wonder how far I can tru

Will "illegal" guns become the new form of "civil disobedience"?

I'm not talking about criminals here, people who intend to use their firearms for stick-ups, or terrorizing former spouses, or for mass killings.  I'm talking about the 99.something % of all the gun owners who have never contemplated much less committed a violent act with their weapons. These are the gun owners who believe, that,  as it has already happened in California , the required records for universal background checks will inevitably become the basis for de facto gun registration and, ultimately, confiscation--as thousands of weapons have already been confiscated (and mostly destroyed) in that state: Other states may lack confiscation programs because they don’t track purchases as closely as California, which requires most weapons sales go through a licensed dealer and be reported. (Oops, that does sound a bit like HB 35, doesn't it?) What happens if they simply ignore the impending Delaware law requiring universal background checks for private arms transactio

The ULTIMATE conspiracy theory

This WILL be worth the 7 minutes of your life it will take to watch it. How Darth Vader conspired with Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia to destroy the Death Star:

If GOP Exec John Fluharty is for marriage equality ...

... then there is no excuse left for it not to pass this year in Delaware: Purchase Image The executive director of the Delaware Republican Party says he supports efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in the state, a position that’s at odds with many in his own party.   John Fluharty, who took the GOP director job after the last election, declared his support for marriage equality in an interview after attending a fundraiser last week for the group leading efforts to pass legislation legalizing gay marriage in the state. Important to note that the Libertarian Party of Delaware has been way out front of not just the GOP, but also many, many Dems.

Bloggers now much closer to being pirates in UK

pandora and I have often described bloggers (at least in Delaware) as "pirates." That outlaw status may soon be very apropos in the UK as Parliament (stung by the phone-hacking scandal) has just passed new laws impinging on press freedom that could eventually take down even bloggers. (Note to pandora:  since Tyler is not posting here on any regular basis, this blog qualifies as a "one-man show," and would theoretically be exempt from joining the state news regulator.  But Delawareliberal, on the other hand, would qualify far more quickly.) Of course, there is no guarantee that everything that happens in the UK will find its way to our shores, but there is generally no shortage of people advocating such causes.

If you have a child playing sports, read this

Concussions in school athletics are a big deal. I know this from personal experience:  my daughter has had three concussions (not all sports-related) since last May, and is only now returning to play. She experienced months of headaches, inability to concentrate, sensitivity to light, and compromised balance.  She missed over 60 days of school since last May. We were fortunate enough to receive treatment through Dr. Vince Schaller's concussion network in New Castle County and the Sports Medicine Center at Temple through Dr. Peter Torg. But Alexis is still on three meds to keep the headaches from returning, regularize her sleep patterns, and assist with her balance.  All of the docs (including the Temple neurologist we saw on consult) tell us she will be dealing with the headaches until she is 19 or 20 (she is 17 now). The major concussion that started this all was a fluke:  she is a soccer keeper and in ten years of play at that position had never been hit in the

I would have bet money I'd never have agreed with the government of Pakistan on much of anything ...

... but I would have lost:   Officials have revealed that Islamabad has insisted that increased reliance on drone strikes for combat operations may cause serious harm to global peace and stability. When the head of the United Nations team investigating civilian impact of drone use travelled to Pakistan last week, Ben Emmerson was not only conveyed Islamabad’s strong opposition but was also told that the use of pilotless aircraft must be discouraged. A senior foreign ministry official told  The Express Tribune  that Islamabad was making all efforts to develop consensus at the  UN against the unilateral drone use  for counter-terrorism operations in any country. “The drone technology is now very common and if its unilateral use is not discouraged, it will set a dangerous precedent,” said the official requesting anonymity. The official was part of Pakistan’s team which had briefed Emmerson on the implications of the continued US drone attacks in the tribal areas of the country.

Gee? Who would have seen a sudden spike in domestic drone sales coming?

You gotta wonder: “The sky’s going to be dark with these things,” said Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired, who started the hobbyist Web site   DIY Drones   and now runs a company, 3D Robotics, that sells unmanned aerial vehicles and equipment. He says it is selling about as many drones every calendar quarter — about 7,500 — as the United States military flies in total. And, guess what? Senator Patrick Leahy just figured out that domestic drones could be a problem: Senator Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who is chairman of the committee, said this year: “This fast-emerging technology is cheap and could pose a significant threat to the privacy and civil liberties of millions of Americans. It is another example of a fast-changing policy area on which we need to focus to make sure that modern technology is not used to erode Americans’ right to privacy.”   I'm super impressed.  That only puts Pat about what--five, six years behind the curve?

Which fiction and reality meet ....

And, of course, the ultimate merger of fact and fiction ...

President Barack "Skynet" Obama and the height of hypocrisy

Wow!  And they actually said this with a straight face: (Reuters) - President  Barack Obama , who vastly expanded U.S. drone strikes against terrorism suspects overseas under the cloak of secrecy, is now openly seeking to influence global guidelines for their use as  China  and other countries pursue their own drone programs.   The United States was the first to use unmanned aircraft fitted with missiles to kill militant suspects in the years after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. But other countries are catching up. China's interest in unmanned aerial vehicles was displayed in November at an air show . According to state-run newspaper Global Times,  China  had considered conducting its first drone strike to kill a suspect in the 2011 murder of 13 Chinese sailors, but authorities decided they wanted the man alive so they could put him on trial.   "People say what's going to happen when the Chinese and the Russians get this technology? Th

Benjamin Franklin was right

When representing American commercial interests in London during the 1760s, various English politicians and merchants approached Franklin to ask him how they could more effectively tax the colonial sugar/molasses and rum trade.  Franklin would chuckle and explain to them that what they were asking was essentially impossible, because every penny they succeeded in extracting in taxes from American shippers, merchants, and distillers would be taken back from them in the form of higher prices charged to English buyers. Franklin's logic is apropos to the concept of taxation removing surplus energy from a system.  (I first encountered this concept in the work on Manuel de Landa , but I do not know if it is original to him or not.)  Essentially, if a large non-linear system (like the Atlantic trade in the 18th century) is producing a large enough energy surplus (which means that the level of profit is such that it does not distort the system's balance), governments can successfully

Cyprus savings theft by EU: The first time ....

... but certainly not destined to be the last: European finance ministers have agreed an £8.7bn bailout for  Cyprus which includes all Cypriot bank customers handing over up to 10% of their savings. Cyprus becomes the fifth country after Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain to turn to the eurozone for financial help amid the region's debt crisis, but also faces a possible run on its banks as depositors try to avoid losing up to 10% of their savings. The savers, half of whom are thought to be Russian, will raise almost €6bn. It is the first time a bailout has included such a measure. A question for the students:  how safe are you and yours when not just your government, but an international association can take your stuff without you having any recourse? 

Just the headlines should tell you that much of what the Obama administration is doing is illegal

Appeals Court Rejects CIA Secrecy on Drones FBI surveillance tool is ruled unconstitutional UN Official: US Drone War in Pakistan is Illegal So I guess I'm left to wonder why virtually no Democrats and damn few Republicans actually get what appears to be true to the judiciary and to most observers abroad:  this administration's foreign policy is roughly comparable (in terms of brazen illegality) to President Nixon's secret wars in Cambodia and Laos.

The expansion of libertarianism into the mainstream ...

... is not something I personally would have chosen to occur inside the Republican Party, but there it is. NYT today has a long piece on how libertarian non-interventionist foreign policy ideas are causing a major rift in the GOP:   WASHINGTON — For more than three decades, the  Republican Party  brand has been deeply tied to a worldview in which the aggressive use of American power abroad is both a policy imperative and a political advantage. Now, a new generation of Republicans like Senator  Rand Paul  of Kentucky is turning inward, questioning the approach that reached its fullest expression after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and signaling a willingness to pare back the military budgets that made it all possible. Put this together with Senator Rob Portman's crystallization of the Republican inner angst over marriage equality, and you begin to see the remaking of the GOP (for the third time in about 20 years).

Oh great. The same minds that gave us Race to the Top are now being entrusted with even bigger challenges

What's your reward for saddling Delaware schools with Race to the Top? How about the cabinet-level position atop the Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families, where you have even greater scope to bring bad policy-making skills into play where they really count? From the Governor's press release (via Delawareliberal) : Jennifer Ranji served as Educational Policy Advisor in the Office of Governor Markell from September 2009 to July 2012.  She was the lead staff person on Race to the Top and Early Childhood Race to the Top initiatives and played a leading role in developing the Governor’s education policy agenda... Probably the next thing we will see is data coaches to train foster parents on how better to manage their children.

Senator Rob Portman comes out for marriage equality

At first blush I thought it was cynical, Rob Portman suddenly discovering that same-sex marriage is something to be supported right after his son came out of the closet, but then I read his own words . Their son announcing his sexuality sent Portman and his wife not into denial, but introspection, and the Senator did not flinch from acknowledging what he found. I am particularly impressed with his reasoning as a Christian and a conservative:   I wrestled with how to reconcile my Christian faith with my desire for Will to have the same opportunities to pursue happiness and fulfillment as his brother and sister. Ultimately, it came down to the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God. Well-intentioned people can disagree on the question of marriage for gay couples, and maintaining religious freedom is as important as pursuing civil marriage rights. For example, I believe that no law should force religious institutions to per

You really do need to care about how the sausage is made

Witness what even the News Journal called "a debacle" yesterday when Representatives Rebecca Walker and Helen Keeley decided that, despite legions of people signed up to testify for and against a bail modification bill, even limiting participants to 60 seconds was too much lip-service to the concept of citizen input: Rep. Jeff Spiegelman had seen enough, noting that lawmakers had only minutes earlier been handed a thick booklet of information about the bill and had no time to do their “due diligence.’ He called for a tabling of the bill so a full and fair hearing could be held. Keeley objected, urging members to send the legislation to the full House with the promise that differences would be ironed out before she called for a full vote. Yep, Walker calls for a hearing the same day that HB 35 is up for public comment and is then surprised to find herself in trouble.  Keeley decides that committee members neither need to read their materials nor hear from citizens before v

Delaware Police Chiefs stand up for the State's power to execute people

There's really not a more accurate way to put it. Yesterday our state's Police Chief's Council came out against the repeal of the death penalty , seeming aggrieved that anyone would even have the stones to raise the issue. My first reaction was wonder exactly when the people we hire to run our police forces got the idea that while in uniform they had the right (they'd say "responsibility") to lobby publicly for or against the laws that they are sworn to enforce. Think about it for a moment.  When the debate raged over women in combat, or gays in the military, service members not called to testify before Congress knew that they had no authority to stand up and speak as representatives of the military for or against the question. Think about the people who criticized (in some cases rightly so, in other cases by whining about it) the teachers in Wisconsin who spent school days protesting the governor, or--in Delaware's case--the teachers who trooped t

The Drug War in Delaware ... and Will McVay

It is educational to note that both the News Journal and the State News have expended more coverage on Will McVay's arrest this week than they did on any of his political campaigns. One would have to ask why this is. The answer, I think, are pretty self-evident from the story itself. First, Will is a Libertarian and had been an LPD party official.  Of course, the LPD is so statistically small, reporters tell me (just over 800 folks registered in the party and just over 8,000 voting for at least one Libertarian in 2012) that it doesn't merit coverage in the normal run of things.  I can even recall one reporter advising me to have our candidates "do something dramatic" if they wanted coverage.  I guess this was dramatic enough to suit them. But, second, I think that the charges proffered by the State probably figured into the mix.  After all, Will has been charged with: Possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, drug dealing and possession of

It's not good news, but it is Libertarian news

Will McVay arrested on weapon and drug charges. I'm not going to comment further till I know more, but I think everybody should remember that--as with Tyler Nixon's case--things are not always what they seem to be at first blush. That said, anybody who wants to take their free shot in the comments section, have at it.

Today's New Journal makes it clear: our laws are only for you and me ...

... and not for ex-cops, politicians, or bankers ... So Delaware is having (sort of--most of the real talking as usual will be done behind closed doors) a debate on gun control. Mayor Dennis Williams (a former Wilmington cop) has a concealed carry permit, and has used it even in Legislative Hall.  You see, state legislators are exempt from the rules that keep other people from carrying weapons there. Ironically, Pete Schwarzkopf, who is shepherding through legislation in HB 35 that will dramatically curtail your rights with regard to firearms, has no trouble with Mayor Williams' concealed carry: While saying there may be a loophole for state lawmakers because the screening policy pertains to “visitors,” Schwartzkopf said he was fine with Williams keeping the gun in his office.   A former state trooper, Schwartzkopf said he does not carry a gun anymore and believes Capitol Police provide adequate security for lawmakers. Still, he did not want to judge Williams for carryin

Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn favors retaining some larger capacity magazines for home defense

Gun control conversations are ... interesting. Recently, Libertarian Greg Callaway wrote to Lt. Gov. Matt Denn expressing his opposition to proposed new gun control legislation .  Most of the answer (which you can read here) is fairly typical politico-speak.  But then Denn talks about magazine restrictions, which leads to one oxymoron and one really interesting point. First, the oxymoron: There is now strong statistical evidence that responsible regulation of large capacity gun magazines does reduce the number of those magazines used by criminals. A study published this year of Virginia law enforcement data showed that following the implementation of the 1994 federal restrictions on large capacity magazines, the percentage of criminals’ guns confiscated during arrests which had those magazines dropped by half. When the ban expired, the percentage of criminals’ guns with high capacity magazines increased all the way back up to the levels seen before the federal law.   OK, leaving

An act of local journalistic malpractice regarding the Shroud of Turin

Not politics, but religion this time. There is a local showing of a replica of the Shroud of Turin on display at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in Wilmington.  (I will hold off giggling about the use of the phrase "Vatican-approved replica" of an item whose authenticity has never been proven.) Many are queuing up to see the replica of the supposed shroud in which Jesus was buried, and they are in full (replica) religious ecstasy, apparently: “The shroud itself is 14 feet long, in a glassed encasement that’s 3 feet wide and raised up at an angle,” says parishioner Jerry Dawson, who is also a member of the Knights of Columbus who are helping organize the event. “You are moved when you see it, but when you listen to the DVD that explains the history of the shroud and the science of the shroud, then you really do understand that it’s the garment that Jesus was buried in.” I don't have any particular problem with Mr. Dawson holding the belief that this IS the bu

USAF moves back in time ... to 1984

Not content with suppressing current information, the US Air Force has now (on orders from the administration, one suspects) begun revising the past with regard to our drone strikes : As scrutiny and debate over the use of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) by the American military increased last month, the Air Force reversed a policy of sharing the number of airstrikes launched from RPAs in Afghanistan and quietly scrubbed those statistics from previous releases kept on their website.   Last October, Air Force Central Command started tallying weapons releases from RPAs, broken down into monthly updates. At the time, AFCENT spokeswoman Capt. Kim Bender said the numbers would be put out every month as part of a service effort to “provide more detailed information on RPA ops in Afghanistan.”   The Air Force maintained that policy for the statistics reports for November, December and January. But the February numbers, released March 7, contained empty space where the box of RPA statis