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GOOD GUY WITH A GUN: Deadly Oklahoma Walmart Shooting Stopped After Armed Citizen Puts Gun To Suspect’s Head.

TOXIC MASCULINITY: My Neighborhood Was on Fire. My Neighbors Came Together to Save It.

As Virginia Postrel noted on Facebook, this story has a real Army of Davids feel to it. Mostly I’m surprised that the NYT would present such a glowing vision of male cooperation and bonding, not to mention the scene where a good guy with a gun saves the day.

GOOD GUY WITH A GUN: Man stops what deputies said would otherwise have likely been a mass public shooting.

GOOD GUY WITH A GUN: Police: 7-Eleven customer shot 2 suspects during robbery, killing 1.

GOOD GUY WITH A GUN: This legally armed military man rushed into action to protect children during El Paso attack.

LUCKILY, HE WAS STOPPED BY A GOOD GUY WITH A GUN: Prosecutor: Antioch church shooter’s goal was to kill ‘a minimum of 10 white churchgoers.’

OLD AND BUSTED: Democrat presidential candidates promising to ban coal mines.

The New Hotness? NYC Mayor de Blasio: ‘We Are Going to Ban’ Glass and Steel Skyscrapers.

“We are going to ban the classic glass and steel skyscrapers which are incredibly inefficient,” he continued. “If someone wants to build one of those things they can take a whole lot of steps to make it energy efficient, but we’re not going to allow what we’ve seen in the past.”

The mayor added that New York’s government is going to get all its energy from renewable sources “in the next five years.”

New York has already begun implementing some of those policies.

Last week, the New York City Council passed a bill enforcing strict new standards on large buildings with the goal of reducing their carbon footprint.

To be fair, de Blasio’s apparent goal of banning New York’s subway system also appears to be going remarkably well.

UPDATE: De Blasio tries to explain daily SUV trips amid pitch for his Green New Deal.

LIFE IN OBAMA’S HOME TOWN: No One Had a Problem Watching a Man Get Beaten Up Until He Pulled Out His Gun.

Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt as after the pistol was drawn, the incident deescalated. The young men seemingly moved off, no longer interested in assaulting the older man.

Two things we can take from this…

For one, a good guy with a gun absolutely does see to it that violence is stopped. According to CWB Chicago, the man is not affiliated with a police department and appears to just be an armed citizen. The two young men seem to have little problem doing violence to the older man until the weapon is drawn and suddenly there was peace.

The second, however, is that though the firearm stopped the fight, it would appear that this is where people decided the situation was disagreeable. This is a problem. If the man was aided against the two men then perhaps the gun wouldn’t have had to come out. Sadly, no one did. He was forced to rely on the firearm.

Society seems to have less of a problem watching someone get beaten up than watching the would-be victim defend himself with the best means possible.

Well, some parts of society, anyway.

GOOD GUY WITH A GUN: “A bystander is being called a hero for shooting a man who investigators say had just gunned down his wife in a Kingsport dental office Wednesday morning.” “The sheriff said that a conceal-carry permit holder who was in the dentist office ‘eliminated a threat’ by shooting the suspect.”

GOOD GUY WITH A GUN: State police: Gun owner stops rolling road-rage on Pike. “Mark Fitzgerald, 37, of Ashland, and Richard Kamrowski, 65, of Framingham, were released on personal recognizance following their arrests. The incident ended with Kamrowski clinging to the hood of Fitzgerald’s 2016 Infinity QX70 for miles, smashing the windshield with a water bottle, until a third motorist state police said is a licensed gun owner drew his weapon on Fitzgerald and ordered him out of the SUV.”

ROGER KIMBALL: Radical evil, and the online lynching of a kid from Kentucky. Will journalists apologize if their portrayal of the Covington students vs Indian Elder incident turns out to have been wildly wrong?

Total non-sequitur of a question. When is the DNC-MSM ever wrong?

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): When do they ever apologize? (Except to offended lefties, that is).

But some better people are apologizing:

Maybe the reason journalists assume that James O’Keefe’s videos are deceptively edited is that deceptive editing is the ordinary course of business for them.

ANOTHER UPDATE (FROM GLENN): More good people apologize:

This guy hasn’t apologized yet, though. People on the right need to be more skeptical of this kind of thing, rather than rushing to jump on the “we’re better than that” (by which they really mean “I’m better than that”) bandwagon. Lefties rely on that to give momentum to their hit pieces. Instead, hold back and wait for facts to develop. Often — possibly more often than not — the facts will show things to be different than they first appeared.

MORE (FROM GLENN):

Also, I see that NRO’s big dump on the Covington boys now returns a Page Not Found. Why doesn’t it return an apology for jumping the gun?

Or maybe it should just go to this Kyle Smith piece: Nathan Phillips Lied. The Media Bought It. Including NRO. But the media didn’t just buy it. They were co-conspirators.

Plus, from the comments: “Anyone who thinks these recent attacks on these Catholic boys and on the Knights of Columbus aren’t geared to the next Supreme Court opening is kidding themselves.”

Stand up to bigotry: Support Amy Coney Barrett!

Also from the comments: “Amazing that this story occurred just 24 hrs after the BuzzFeed/Cohen fiasco with its obligatory non-stop MSM impeach-o-rama. Gellman amnesia at its finest. And when you see the Catholic hierarchy rush to throw these innocent kids to the wolves, you begin to understand the dimensions & persistence of the Church’s pedophile crisis. They are not the faithful & reliable stewards of our children they claim to be. CYA > justice.”

NRO needs a full, sincere apology here, and better behavior in the future. I mean, otherwise what do they bring to the table? CNN will already call people on the right bigots for free. NRO piled on the people they should have been protecting, out of a cowardly reflex to assume the worst and isolate the people the media were attacking. They should have looked into the story first, rather than relying on the word of people they should have known were untrustworthy. It was just two days ago that CNN was hyping the Buzzfeed “scoop.” Gateway Pundit is all over this story — and more creditably than NRO.

MORE STILL (FROM GLENN): An Apology From Rich Lowry of NRO: “I deleted my original tweet and we also took down a strongly worded post by my colleague Nick Frankovich that relied on the incomplete video. It’s another reminder — even for an old hand like me — that it’s best not to make snap judgments and to wait for all sides of a controversy to have a chance to be heard.”

You can’t trust what the likes of CNN and Buzzfeed say about people on the right. You absolutely need to do your own due diligence before piling on.

And for the record, here’s the archive version of the now-deleted NRO piece by Nicholas Frankovich The Covington Students Might as Well Have Just Spit on the Cross.

Related: The Media Wildly Mischaracterized That Video of Covington Catholic Students Confronting a Native American Veteran.

A bogus story about Trump supporters. Who could imagine such a thing?

Plus:

Related:

They deserve an apology. People who owed them fairness and consideration chose virtue-signaling instead.

RIP: BRIAN GARFIELD, AUTHOR OF DEATH WISH, DIES AT 79.

In his Death Wish novel, a New York accountant named Paul Benjamin is sent reeling when muggers kill his wife and leave his daughter fighting for her life. That spurs him to take justice into his own hands.

The rugged Bronson then played Paul Kersey, now an architect, in five Death Wish films that were released in 1974, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1994.

“I hated the four sequels,” Garfield said in a 2008 interview. “They were nothing more than vanity showcases for the very limited talents of Charles Bronson. The screenplay for the original Death Wish movie was quite good, I thought. It was written by Wendell Mayes — look him up; he was a great guy and a splendid screenwriter; but his Death Wish script was designed to be directed by Sidney Lumet, with Jack Lemmon to star as Paul.

“The last-minute changes in director [Michael Winner] and star were imposed by a new producer to whom the project was sold, rather under protest, by the original producers Hal Landers and Bobby Roberts. The point of the novel Death Wish is that vigilantism is an attractive fantasy, but it only makes things worse in reality. By the end of the novel, the character is gunning down unarmed teenagers because he doesn’t like their looks. The story is about an ordinary guy who descends into madness.”

Winner’s first Death Wish movie sums up New York in the 1970s remarkably well, and its cool Herbie Hancock score adds incredible atmosphere. The role of Paul Kersey defined Bronson and finally made him, after decades of acting, into a superstar. But it would have been a much more surprising film watching Lemmon’s transformation from milquetoast bleeding heart liberal architect to vigilante.

PATRIK JONSSON: Is it safe for a black man to be the ‘good guy with a gun’?

On Thanksgiving night, a shooter opened fire at the Riverchase Galleria mall in Hoover, Ala. Police killed one man.

But as has become increasingly clear, Emantic “E.J.” Bradford Jr. was one of the good guys.

The military veteran and legal gun carrier from Hueytown, Ala., was likely killed while trying to protect his fellow citizens, according to eyewitness reports. And for that, his family says, he died ignominiously. Police arrested the alleged shooter Thursday. . . .

The killing of Mr. Bradford is not a stand-alone example. Three days before his death, a young man named Jemel Roberson was buried in Illinois. An aspiring police officer and legal gun-carrier, Mr. Roberson singlehandedly apprehended a mass shooter at Manny’s Blue Room bar in Robbins, where Roberson worked as a security guard. A Midlothian police officer responded, and shot and killed Roberson. In June, Navy veteran Jason Washington was shot and killed by Portland State University police in Oregon, after reportedly trying to stop a fight outside a bar. Witnesses say Washington was trying to de-escalate the situation, including confiscating his friend’s gun. He had a pistol permit. A grand jury declined to indict the two officers involved.

Cops are too trigger-happy, thanks in part to training that treats officer lives as more valuable than anyone else’s. That sort of training brings stereotypes into play. Police need to be better trained — and when they get it wrong, they need to be held accountable, just as an ordinary armed citizen who made the same mistake would be.

GOOD GUY WITH A GUN: Dad at McDonald’s with kids shoots and kills masked gunman who opened fire.

PHIL BREDESEN IS ENCOUNTERING SOME OF THIS, TOO: Manchin trouble in West Virginia? Some people love him but won’t vote for him.

As the charismatic Democrat walks towards the Martinsburg High School float filled with high-schoolers, hay, and lots of boisterous cheers, Shank admits, despite wanting a photo with the senator and liking him, come Nov. 6, he will vote for Manchin’s Republican opponent, Morrisey.

“Yeah, he’s a good guy. I mean, his politics is … it is what it is. At least he got Kavanaugh into the Supreme Court,” said Shank of Manchin, a vote he added was that really important to him.

Curt Blickenstann says the same, but adds a caveat — switch parties and Manchin could get his vote. “Oh yeah, he’d get the support of West Virginia even more. West Virginia is a hard-working state. It’s middle-class people, and that’s what Trump stands for is the middle-class people,” he says of the president who won all of the state’s 55 counties and earned a whopping 67–26 percent statewide win over Hillary Clinton.

Manchin says he’s not doing that. “Why would I change — I am who I am no matter what party name is after my name, I’ve never changed,” he said.

Voters here haven’t really changed either, except they don’t vote much for Democrats anymore, even Democrats who look like Republicans in any other state but here. Why? Democrats here place faith in their platform and are pro-life and pro-gun.

So do Republicans here.

Well, stay tuned and see how it turns out.

GOOD GUY WITH A GUN: Licensed gunowner praised for joining cops in shootout with suspect near I-55. “The suspect kept running and shooting at the officers as Duarte and his partner returned fire, officials said. That’s when someone sitting in traffic on Cicero Avenue got out of his car and began shooting at the suspect as well, Chlada said. The suspect was hit once and taken to Stroger Hospital in serious condition, according to Chicago police. It wasn’t clear if the bullet that hit him came from the officers or the concealed-carry holder.”

IT’S OFFICIAL: WE NEEDED A GOOD GUY WITH A GUN. Head of commission investigating Parkland shooting says armed staffer could have stopped Nikolas Cruz. Of course, thanks to the Broward County Sheriff’s Department all we had were some cowardly guys with guns hiding out in the parking lot.

GOOD GUY WITH A GUN: Police: Armed bystander takes down gunman at Titusville back to school event. “A flyer posted on Facebook and Instagram said a back to school event called ‘Peace in the City’ was going on at the park when the shooting happened.”

As Keith Laumer once wrote, there’s nothing more peaceful than a dead troublemaker. Though in this case, just wounded was enough.

WELL, IT IS OKLAHOMA CITY, AFTER ALL: Turns out the OKC shooter wasn’t stopped by a good guy with a gun — he was stopped by TWO good guys with guns. Twice as nice. Sort of like my Sonny’s BBQ story. “I’m happy to have you carrying — if somebody tries to rob me, it’s two against one.”

GOOD GUY WITH A GUN: OK City police: ‘Bystander with a pistol’ took out shooter who opened fire in restaurant.

UPDATE: Amazing to see this headline at CNN of all places:

THIS IS NOT A GOOD LOOK FOR HOUSTON’S POLICE CHIEF: Remember Who Works for Whom, Chief Acevedo — Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo ‘Is Not Interested in Your Views’ on Gun Control.

After the school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, Houston police chief Art Acevedo took to Facebook to share his thoughts.

“I know some have strong feelings about gun rights,” he wrote, “but I want you to know I’ve hit rock bottom and I am not interested in your views as it pertains to this issue.”

I’ve met Chief Acevedo, and he seems to me a good guy with a tough job, but he’s out of bounds here. Like a great many police chiefs and other civil servants in this ailing republic, he could stand being reminded of who works for whom.

Police chiefs are not lawmakers. It is not Chief Acevedo’s job to decide what kind of gun laws Texas—or the United States—has or does not have. Like any citizen, Chief Acevedo is entitled to his opinion, but he doesn’t have any special competence or standing to speak on the issue of gun control. What he has is only a point of view.

Of course, he doesn’t have to be interested in anybody’s views on the issue. That’s one of the nice things about being an appointed official rather than an elected one. But what Chief Acevedo is engaged in here isn’t law enforcement—it’s politics. He went on Face the Nation and insisted: “We need to start using the ballot box and ballot initiatives to take the matters out of the hands of people that are doing nothing that are elected into the hands of the people to see that the will of the people in this country is actually carried out.”

When reminded of “who works for whom,” Acevedo lashed out on Twitter: Dana Loesch fires back at Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo after legal threat.

JOHN HAWKINS: EXPLAINING WHY LIBERALS ARE SO DESPERATE TO FIND THINGS TO BE OFFENDED ABOUT. After discussing Starbucks’ management donning their hair shirts, the mass lefty freakout over Kanye West’s pro-Trump comments, and the mass lefty freakout over a prom dress, Hawkins writes:

These stories, all of which have happened recently, are just a drop in the bucket. Liberals are perpetually offended by just about everything. Why? Because liberals have decided that being offended trumps logic, fact and every other argument that anyone can make. If it were up to liberals, we would not have free speech because too many people say things that contradict liberal ideas. So, they may not be able to put you in jail for believing that you can’t change genders or that it’s not smart to send gay men who may be sexually interested in teenagers out into the woods with them overnight as scout masters, but they can use a variety of different tactics to silence you. Outrage is one of those tactics because again, according to liberals, the second someone is outraged, the debate is over and they’ve won (Of course that only applies to liberals. If conservatives are offended by something, that doesn’t count.)

Of course, liberals love to use whatever they’re outraged about today as an excuse for government action or to gin up their base, but at the most fundamental level, liberal outrage is all about shutting up everyone who doesn’t agree with liberals. That’s the ultimate form of censorship. When you’re so scared that you might offend a liberal that you censor yourself. When you don’t wear the prom dress you want to wear. When you don’t make the joke. You don’t say anything that might make a liberal angry because you don’t want to deal with formal charges or 5,000 outraged liberals on Twitter that feel justified in calling you the worst names you’ve ever heard of because their widdle feelings are hurt. You can give in to their bullying if you like, but down that road lies a new liberal vision of totalitarianism where the bad guys win not because they deserve to or because they have guns pointed at your head, but because people are too afraid to speak the truth. For your sake, for the sake of your kids and for the sake of your country, don’t let liberal outrage determine what you can and cannot say.

In a 2014 post by lefty academic Freddie deBoer, which sadly is not on the Wayback Machine but quoted here, deBoer described a method of argument he dubbed “We Are Already Decided:”

This is the form of argument, and of comedy, that takes as its presumption that all good and decent people are already agreed on the issue in question. In fact, We Are All Already Decided presumes that the offense is not just in thinking the wrong thing you think but in not realizing that We Are All Already Decided that the thing you think is deeply ridiculous. And the embedded argument, such as it is, is not on the merits of whatever issue people are disagreeing about, but on the assumed social costs of being wrong about an issue on which We Are All Already Decided. Which is great, provided everybody you need to convince cares about being part of your little koffee klatsch. If not, well….

All of this, frankly, is politically ruinous. I meet and interact with a lot of young lefties who are just stunning rhetorically weak; they feel all of their politics very intensely but can’t articulate them to anyone who doesn’t share the same vocabulary, the same set of cultural and social signifiers that are used to demonstrate you’re one of the “right sort of people.” These kids are often great, they’re smart and passionate, I agree with them on most things, but they have no ability at all to express themselves to those who are not already in their tribe. They say terms like “privilege” or “mansplain” or “tone policing” and expect the conversation to somehow just stop, that if you say the magic words, you have won that round and the world is supposed to roll over to what you want.

Does the left want more Trump? Blocking arguments and debate, deplatforming prominent conservatives and calling Trump’s everyday supporters “deplorables,” and getting the vapors over minutia such as prom dresses, is the perfect way to ensure more Trump.

ACTUALLY, EVERYONE BELIEVES IN THE “GOOD GUY WITH A GUN” THEORY, THE ONLY QUESTION IS WHO COUNTS AS A “GOOD GUY.” Broward County Sheriff’s Office Oversaw Concealed-Carry Training for Mosque-Goers.

PATTERICO: The Story of the Deputy Who Stood Outside the School Shooting Keeps Getting Worse.

It’s fascinating to watch him being defended by the DNC-MSM, despite their being heavily invested in the narrative of error-free big government.

GOOD: Bad guy with a gun stopped by a good guy with a…car?

A GOOD GUY WITH A GUN: ‘Hero’ pulls gun to stop woman from being raped on Austin trail. “An Austin man takes his weekly trail run armed with a flashlight, cell phone — and a handgun tucked in a Velcro belt. Last month he pulled out the weapon to help rescue a woman who was being sexually assaulted.”

IT’S NOT THE GUN, IT’S THE GUY:  Good Guy With a Gun May Have Saved Lots of Lives in Texas Church.

GOOD GUYS WITH GUNS: Pictured: The two heroic locals who exchanged gunfire with Texas shooter, ran him off the road as he tried to flee and shot him dead. “Willeford, a local plumber, has no military experience, he is an excellent shot according to the resident, and when he came face to face with Kelley, he shot in between his body armor, hitting him in his side.”

PEAK SALON REACHED. “My liberal white male rage: What should I do about it?”

I’m a left-wing white guy. And a Jew. Since Charlottesville, I’ve noticed some strange changes in myself.

At work, I’ve spaced out for 20 minutes at a time during meetings, daydreaming about committing violence, always righteously, in overly dramatic, obnoxiously heroic ways, with a very troubling overtone of white saviorism. In addition to saving the girls from a male predator with my brute strength and righteous rage, I’ve had another recurring fantasy of saving the passengers on a plane hijacked by “911-esque” terrorists. I tackle an armed hijacker, turn his gun on him, immediately inspire the other passengers to team up to distract the terrorists, and then deftly fire bullets into all three terrorists’ heads. Dark blood drips down their noses from the wounds on their foreheads. If the meeting is particularly boring, I’ll concoct permutations, new endings. Because it just feels so damn good. Like the dopamine rush of a sex fantasy.

The Bernie tattoo on the arm of the man-bun coiffed Resistance-T-shirt guy atop the article adds a particularly creepy touch considering the ideology of the attempted assassin Of Steve Scalise.

HERO: Unarmed Security Guard Took On Las Vegas Killer Stephen Paddock: Jesus Campos found the mass murderer’s location — and drew his fire away from concertgoers — before cops or SWAT arrived. As the article says, he was a “good guy without a gun.” Would’ve been nice if he’d had one, though.

BENNET OMALU, CONCUSSIONS, AND THE NFL: HOW ONE DOCTOR CHANGED FOOTBALL FOREVER.

On a foggy, steel gray Saturday in September 2002, Bennet Omalu arrived at the Allegheny County coroner’s office and got his assignment for the day: Perform an autopsy on the body of Mike Webster, a professional football player. Omalu did not, unlike most 34-year-old men living in a place like Pittsburgh, have an appreciation for American football. He was born in the jungles of Biafra during a Nigerian air raid, and certain aspects of American life puzzled him. From what he could tell, football was rather a pointless game, a lot of big fat guys bashing into each other. In fact, had he not been watching the news that morning, he may not have suspected anything unusual at all about the body on the slab.

The coverage that week had been bracing and disturbing and exciting. Dead at 50. Mike Webster! Nine-time Pro Bowler. Hall of Famer. “Iron Mike,” legendary Steelers center for fifteen seasons. His life after football had been mysterious and tragic, and on the news they were going on and on about it. What had happened to him? How does a guy go from four Super Bowl rings to…pissing in his own oven and squirting Super Glue on his rotting teeth? Mike Webster bought himself a Taser gun, used that on himself to treat his back pain, would zap himself into unconsciousness just to get some sleep. Mike Webster lost all his money, or maybe gave it away. He forgot. A lot of lawsuits. Mike Webster forgot how to eat, too. Soon Mike Webster was homeless, living in a truck, one of its windows replaced with a garbage bag and tape.

I say this exceedingly rarely about anything in GQ, but read the whole thing.

I found the above 2008 article last night after Glenn linked to the article by Webster’s son on his dad’s phenomenally tough training regimen.  I knew Webster’s life ended badly, but had no idea how nightmarish his last days truly were. But it is fascinating to see the DNC-MSM pivot from “OMG, we must disband the NFL right now – if it saves one player’s life, it’s worth it,” to “OMG, look at how brave the athletes are and what a wonderful platform the NFL provides them to speak out for social justice,” thanks to one speech from Trump. Or as Howie Carr wrote last Sunday in the Boston Herald, The Liberal Media Hated the NFL – Until Yesterday.

The GQ piece explicitly compares the NFL to the tobacco industry during the ‘60s and ‘70s, and as Michael Walsh wrote last week in a piece titled “Farewell to the NFL,” “Football, which is practically the state religion in Texas and across the South, used to be closely tied up with patriotism and love of country. The militaristic component of the sport, which was presented as akin to war, appealed especially to red-state dwellers. But sportscasters and sportswriters are overwhelmingly leftist in their outlook, and their eagerness to turn Kaepernick into a civil-rights icon has repelled a sizable section of football’s core audience — and one that, by the current evidence is growing.”

And Roger Goodell played along from the start — in an era when he’ll need as much support as possible from fans to keep his sport alive moving forward.

SEE, THIS IS WHY CNN SHOULDN’T HAVE THREATENED TO DOX “HAN ASSHOLESOLO.” “How a Montana mom became the target of a neo-Nazi troll,” reports CNN. A Colorado real estate agent named Tanya Gersh was bombarded with threatening emails and phone calls, “after contacting tenants of a local building:”

Gersh says she was then called by the building’s owner, Sherry Spencer, the mother of white supremacist Richard Spencer.

Gersh says she warned Sherry Spencer about looming protests at the building in Whitefish, a Montana town of 7,300 where both women live.

Gersh says she advised Spencer to disavow the views of her son, including that the United States is a country for white people.

She says she offered to sell Spencer’s property as a way of defusing tensions in town. Gersh suggested Spencer donate money to a human rights group.

Sherry Spencer refused to speak to CNN when we reached her on the phone. Earlier, she wrote in a blog post that Gersh, a Realtor, had threatened her, saying protesters and media would turn up and drive down the building’s value if she didn’t sell.

That’s when, according to CNN, “DailyStormer.com, which spews neo-Nazi propaganda” went into full-on #hastanyalandedyet mode:

Andrew Anglin, the site’s founder, accused Gersh of extortion in a blog post. And he exhorted readers to send Gersh — whom he also identified as Jewish — enough messages to make a point.

“Let’s hit ’em up,” he posted. “Are y’all ready for an old-fashioned Troll Storm?”

He then told them: “(I)t’s that time.”

Obligatory reminder: it is never that time. And it shouldn’t be for CNN either, which makes their putting their mafia-like warning that “CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change” into their piece on the now infamous “Han Asshole Solo” all the more abhorrent.

“Now, before we move on, someone is going to point out that the meme guy is kind of a jerk and said stuff that offends decent people,” as Kurt Schlichter wrote last week. “So? How is that the point? This is a multi-billion dollar media corporation using all its power to threaten an individual into not criticizing it. How is that ever okay? And don’t pretend for a minute this media extortion precedent gets limited to outlier Reddit guys. Normal Americans are next.”

But normal Americans have already gotten the full troll storm from the left. Just ask the owners of Indiana’s Memories Pizza, who had the mob from a 1930s Universal Frankenstein movie dropped onto them as a result of badthink in response to a hypothetical question by a local journalist. Or Elizabeth Lauten, the low-level Republican staffer who had the temerity to write on her Facebook page that Obama’s daughters should “try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play,” and ultimately quit her job, after social media was whipped into a frenzy by the DNC-MSM (including, of course, CNN):

Lauten apologized for her remarks last Friday, but the backlash continued to grow. She later made her apology statement “private” on Facebook after threatening messages were posted in the comments section.

Both ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today show devoted segments to the controversy on Sunday and Monday, according to Newsbusters. Meanwhile, the Smoking Gun reported that Lauten had been arrested for shoplifting when she was 17 years old, and photos of her drinking beer were posted on Twitter with the caption “Yes America. This is the person who told Sasha and Malia to have some class.”

Lauten has also allegedly received threatening phone calls. On Twitter, dozens of users called for her to “die,” “choke,” and “kill yourself.”

Or Justine Sacco, which brings us back to last week’s threatened doxxing by CNN:

This isn’t [senior CNN editor Andrew] Kaczynski’s first attempt at destroying a private citizen’s life. As a BuzzFeed reporter, he gained notoriety for publicizing a lame joke Tweeted by a 30-year-old PR director named Justine Sacco. As Sacco was boarding a plane from London to Cape Town, South Africa, she poked fun at many people’s poor understanding of the continent. Kaczynski decided the joke was racist and helped gin up a digital lynch mob while she was in the air for 11 hours sans internet. By the time Sacco landed, she was mobbed by reporters, was fired from her job, and had to go into hiding. [Update: Another link demonstrating Kaczynski’s role is here.]

If it’s wrong for an alt-right group to combine doxxing with intimidation – and it is – it’s also wrong for CNN to threaten the same tactics, knowing full well, as Kaczynski does, that outing Mr. AssholeSolo will send up the Batsignal for the Twitter mobs. Or as CNN contributor Mary Katharine Ham wrote yesterday at the Federalist,Going To The Mats For Free Speech Sometimes Means Letting Trolls Go Unpunished:”

HanA**holeSolo isn’t some great modern-day pamphleteer whom we should ensure at all costs can keep delivering us (and the president) hot memes from his den of racist sh*tposters. He’s not, and the fact that the White House finds inspiration in these corners of the Internet is newsworthy. Some of his other creations, including a a composite with Stars of David next to the Jewish CNN employees, are truly disgusting.

But media should be very careful about when they expose private citizens for the sin of political speech. They should be especially careful not to imply that content of political speech that crosses a big media entity is the reason for exposure. The media don’t owe every troll on the Internet his or her anonymity, but doing disproportionate warfare with them can endanger and chill the speech of others.

As Vox’s German Lopez put it simply, “The Internet is not proportional.”

“The problem here is that the internet is not proportional. People wouldn’t merely react to this guy making some offensive remarks on the internet by making some offensive remarks to him. They would react as the internet has reacted before to these kinds of situations — with potentially thousands of hateful messages, death threats, attempts to get him fired, and harassment not just against him but also his family. Lines would quickly be crossed.”

And it’s not just the Internet that’s not proportional. Media has shown an inability to gauge its coverage of the online speech of private citizens.

Bravo for CNN for reporting on Tanya Gersh – but their reasons for doing so appear to be more than a little self-serving. And in threatening “HanA**holeSolo” with doxxing – and with it, the implicit threat that they would the sturm und drang of social media down upon his life, they are yet the latest reminder that the left shouldn’t be surprised when the alt-right adopts the odious tactics they themselves popularized.

YEAH, THAT’S TOUGH TO CLAIM, NOW THAT THE “REFEREES” ARE BUSY OUTING THE IDENTITIES OF THE BLEACHER BUMS: MSNBC Panel Bemoans ‘Impartiality’ as ‘Mistakes of the Past,’ a ‘Disservice:’

MSNBC’s self-crowned political referee, Chuck Todd, appeared to throw in the towel on enforcing D.C.’s political rules, or at least the journalistic ones. During the first segment of Monday’s MTP Daily, Todd and two of his panelists, Brian Karem and David Folkenflik, whined about how the media was expected to be impartial with President Trump attacking them. “But look, two generations of us as reporters. We’re trained and conditioned to don’t show emotion, we’re the umpires and the referees.” Todd claimed. “When somebody is insisting on making you the story, what do you do? … I struggle with it.”

It was clear that Todd didn’t know how to be an unbiased reporter as he opined about how he and other journalists weren’t trained to deal with Trump’s “moral failings.” “Somebody tweeted that journalists today were never trained to cover moral failings very well. And in some ways, this is what makes this more difficult,” he told his fellow partisans. “We’re not good with having to say what’s right and wrong sometimes because again, we have been trained to be dispassionate and the umpire.”

Of course, when dealing with the previous president’s moral failings and lack of empathy, Todd had no problem justifying them away:

CHUCK TODD: I would say the real danger for the president on issues like this, is less about this, and more about — Paul Begala one time said this to me — he said, you know, the guy really is his mother’s son sometimes when it comes to studying society.  He’s anthropoligcal about it.  Remember that time when he was studying people in Pennsylvania, and he said to that fundraiser in Pennsylvania, you know they cling to their guns.  He wasn’t meaning it as demeaning in his mind, but it came across that way.

ANDREA MITCHELL: It’s intellectualized.

TODD: He’s the son of an anthropologist, and I think sometimes he goes about religion that way, almost in this, as I said because he’s very well studied on, not just Christianity but on a lot of religions, but in that, frankly, anthropological way, and that can come across as distant.

Trump’s excesses, and the media’s obvious boiling anger that Hillary lost, are simply the latest excuses for the DNC-MSM to drop the mask and claim that objectivity is unwarranted – not that they ever need much of excuse:

Big Journalism, September 28th, 2013

— Column in liberal MSM industry house organ Editor & Publisher in 2007.

— Twitchy.com, July 13, 2013.

— Ed Driscoll.com (aka, me) June 25th, 2013.

— The Daily Caller, April, 2013.

— Twitchy, April, 2013

— Newsbusters, February of 2010.

— Newsweek cover headline, February of 2009.

— Ed Driscoll.com, February 24, 2012.

Nobody believes the MSM is objective anymore (not that they ever really were) – and their insanity is, ironically, the best thing that could happen to Trump. As Glenn quipped earlier today, “This is the point where the Wilford Brimley character turns and says ‘Mr. Trump, I seem to want to ask if you set all this up. But if I do, you ain’t gonna tell me, are you?’ No.”

CBS’S SCOTT PELLEY LOSES A FIGHT RIGGED IN HIS FAVOR: Ever since it was created by Don Hewitt in 1968, CBS’s Sixty Minutes has functioned as a sort of ritual kabuki for its audiences: it made stars of its left-leaning investigative journalists, who would grill the offending conservative politician or businessman of the week. By the mid-’80s, the show’s formula was summed up brilliantly in the classic parodies by Martin Short’s Nathan Thurm character on Saturday Night Live, who would be drenched in sweat and chain-smoking Marlboro 100s by the time he was done attempting to survive the hammering from the crusading journalist on the other side of the desk.

But CBS made its bones during the days when, as Rob Long wrote of NBC’s Johnny Carson, “There were three big channels—and maybe an old movie on one of those fuzzy UHF stations—so if you didn’t like what was on, you were out of luck. Network television didn’t compete with cable channels or Hulu or Amazon Prime. It competed with silence.”

And such lack of competition allowed the networks’ news divisions to create self-contained worlds where they could absolutely control the dialogue, as Walter Cronkite did throughout his career at CBS, while signing off each night “And that’s the way it is.” His successor’s career at CBS ended there with a Sixty Minutes segment…well, we all know how it ended there, right?

Which brings us to CBS’s Scott Pelley and his recent interview with Mike Cernovich, whom Breitbart.com’s Ezra Dulis describes as “a lawyer, independent blogger/author/filmmaker, and a dominant voice on Twitter,” and whom BuzzFeed describes as “a troll.” The latter Website of course is home of the infamous Trump golden showers with Russian hookers story and an editor who believes covering Trump “sometimes…means publishing unverified information in a transparent way that informs our users of its provenance, its impact and why we trust or distrust it.”

Whatever Cernovich’s excesses, assuming this transcript of the full unedited interview is accurate, it’s fascinating much more for what it reveals about Pelley, watched by six and a half million viewers on the CBS Evening News, than for Cernovich. Here’s how the transcript begins:

Scott Pelley: How would you describe what you do?

Mike Cernovich: I’m a lawyer, author, documenter, filmmaker, and journalist.

Scott Pelley: And how would you describe your website?

Mike Cernovich: Edgy, controversial content that goes against the dominant narrative.

Scott Pelley: What’s the dominant narrative?

Mike Cernovich: The dominant narrative is that there are good guys and there are bad guys. The good guys are liberals. Everybody on the right is a bad guy. Let’s find a way to make everybody look bad. Let’s tie marginal figures who have no actual influence to anybody we cannot overwrite. That’s the narrative.

Scott Pelley: That’s not a narrative I’m familiar with. Who’s narrative is that?

In 2008, Pelley compared global warming skeptics to Holocaust deniers. Ben Rhodes, who until January was Obama’s deputy national security advisor, is the brother of CBS News president David Rhodes. John Dickerson, the host of Face the Nation and the “political director” for CBS, wrote an article for Slate in 2013 charmingly titled “Go for the Throat! Why if he wants to transform American politics, Obama must declare war on the Republican Party.” Katie Couric, whom Pelley succeeded as Evening News host, read a poem on her broadcast to shill for the passing of Obamacare, and after leaving CBS had a Rathergate-like moment of her own, attempting to marginalize gun owners.

But back to the transcript of Pelley and Cernovich, where eventually, the hunter is captured by his prey:  

Scott Pelley: You wrote in August a story about Hillary Clinton’s medical condition the headlines said, “Hillary Clinton has Parkinson’s disease. Position confirms.” That’s quite a headline.

Mike Cernovich: Yeah, Dr. Ted Noel had se-sent a story to me anonymously, that I checked out, analyzing her medical condition. And –

Scott Pelley: It isn’t true.

Mike Cernovich: How do you know?

Scott Pelley: Well, she doesn’t seem to have any signs of Parkinson’s disease.

Mike Cernovich: She had a seizure and froze up walking into her motorcade that day caught by a citizen journalist.

Scott Pelley: Did you, well, she had pneumonia. I mean –

Mike Cernovich: How do you know?

Scott Pelley: Well, because that’s what was reported.

Mike Cernovich: By whom? Who told you that?

Scott Pelley: Well, the campaign told us that.

Mike Cernovich: Why would you trust a campaign?

To ask the question is to answer it. In a post headlined “‘Shamefully Stupid’: CBS’s Scott Pelley Loses a Fight Rigged in His Favor,” Breitbart.com’s Ezra Dulis adds in response, “Pelley has no answer for those six words — ‘Why would you trust the campaign’ — as his entire profession goes berserk with literal-minded fact checks for every tweet from President Trump. Pelley also seems to forget the fakery that Clinton World attempted hours before its pneumonia statement — with the candidate smiling and waving outside her daughter’s apartment, greeting a little girl, and assuring reporters everything was a-okay.”

More:

Mike Cernovich: So let’s be, let’s be honest with one another, which is that you are reporting that the Hillary Clinton campaign-

Scott Pelley: I didn’t report that she had Parkinson’s disease.

Mike Cernovich: You just told me she’s healthy though. Based on what was told to you by the campaign. See? That’s what I’m saying about the double standards which is I don’t take anything Hillary Clinton’s going to say at all as true. I’m not going to take her on her word. The media says we’re not going to take Donald Trump on his word. And that’ why we are on these different universes.

Scott Pelley: Why should anyone take you on your word?

Mike Cernovich: Oh, you should always double-check. You should always fact check. And if people don’t agree with me, people express that disagreement, and I’m completely, completely open to criticism.

Insert Glenn Reynolds’ Rathergate-era comments about the positive nature of the Internet being a low-trust environment here. Not to mention Michael Crichton’s Gell-Man Amnesia Effect.

Let’s give Pelley the exit quote: “Well, the benefit of intermediaries is having experienced editors check things out and research people. Check the facts before it goes out to the public. You don’t do any of that.”

Mary Mapes could not be reached for comment.

UPDATE: “Was Pelley not around in 2004?” John Hinderaker asks at Power Line. “Has he forgotten how stupid that refrain sounded then? (‘Layers and layers of fact-checkers’) Does he not realize how false it rings today? We have been here before: the liberal media are in a panic because their authority is being challenged. It must be worse now, though, than it was in 2004. Then, Time’s refrain was a relatively benign ‘Who owns the truth?’ Now, they ask, ‘Is truth dead?’ We can translate: ‘Is the liberal news media monopoly dead?’”

GOOD GUY WITH A GUN: Arizona trooper shot in ambush attack; Good Samaritan kills gunman.

ALWAYS BE CARRYING: Good Guy with a Gun Kills Perp Beating a Cop.

ALSO: Pizza shop customer shoots 2 robbers, killing 1.

FLASHBACK: GOOD GUY WITH A GUN STOPS BAD GUY WITH A KNIFE. And his wife was a hero, too:

Laura Creed, meanwhile, was rendering first aid not only to the mortally wounded George Heath, but Sheenah Savoy, a pregnant waitress Heath, a father of two, died helping to save.

“My initial reaction was I need a land line to call 911. Then nurse mode kicked in and I wasn’t going anywhere without this guy,” an emotional Laura Creed said at a press conference this morning with her hero husband and George Heath’s widow Rosemary Heath.

“We’ve talked about when something happens, he helps and I run. But I wasn’t going anywhere without him,” Laura Creed said, holding James’ hand.

It’s a heartwarming story, though it would have been better if the crazy guy hadn’t been let out.

GOOD GUY WITH A GUN STOPS BAD GUY: Off-Duty Sheriff’s Deputy Who Shot Suspect In Taunton Stabbings Hailed As Hero.

FLOATS LIKE A BUTTERFLY, STINGS LIKE AN ELECTRIC EEL: Trump Paralyzed Hilary’s Campaign.

This boilerplate Democratic campaign strategy would be fine — perhaps even compelling – if deployed against a vanilla Republican candidate. Trump is, however, no Republican cast in the same mold as George W. Bush, John McCain, or Mitt Romney. In fact, as Team Clinton was revealing its intention to attack Trump for his proposal to ease the tax burden on the rich, the news cycle was already dominated by Trump’s decision to buck Republican orthodoxy on taxes in an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd.

In that “Meet the Press” interview, Trump signaled his willingness to surrender his opening bid in the coming fight over tax code reform (well before negotiations had even begun) by insisting that his cuts on the highest marginal rates will likely be pared back by congressional Democrats. “I have a feeling we pay some more,” Trump said of his fellows in the top tax bracket. “I am willing to pay more, and you know what, wealthy are willing to pay more. We’ve had a very good run.”

Despite Trump warning the Clintons for weeks that he intends to borrow heavily from self-described socialist Senator Bernie Sanders’ playbook, Team Clinton was unable, or unwilling, to preemptively reform their message and tailor it to Trump’s populist progressivism. Nor could they adapt and respond to a news cycle dominated by Trump’s remarks on taxes and the stunning departure they represent from typical Republican economic philosophy. If Democrats fear that Clinton’s team has ossified and grown complacent, this episode should confirm those suspicions.

It’s hard to get inside the decision loop of a guy who doesn’t know what he’ll do next himself.

THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE VIDEOFREEX FROM MARS. We now take for granted YouTube’s ability to birth DIY performers who eventually acquire large followings and of course, video cameras built into smart phones and tablets have become ubiquitous. But just as DARPA was crafting the notion of an interconnected network of computers in the late 1960s, portable DIY video technology was also being birthed during that period, as authors Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad write near the beginning of their 1985 book Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live. Without Sony’s invention, “It’s possible that the underground [comedy movement, which SNL creator Lorne Michaels tapped into for his first stars and writers] might have bypassed television altogether had it not been for the Sony Corporation’s introduction in the late 1960s of portable video cameras and recorders that were affordable by the public at large:”

That technology spawned a movement known as guerrilla television, which was populated by hundreds of long-hairs carrying Porta-Pak units, nascent auteurs who’d previously had no access to the mechanisms of television production and who set out to invent their own kind of programs. One such guerrilla remembers showing up with his partner at the house of a famous Hollywood writer, hoping to tell him some of their ideas. They were laden with gear, their hair hung well past their shoulders, and they wore fatigue jackets and pants. The memory of the Manson murders was still strong at the time, and the writer’s wife, answering the door and seeing the equipment they were carrying, thought it was some kind of machine gun and ran screaming back inside.

In his latest film review at NRO, Armond White explores the Videofreex, one of the leftwing underground groups producing guerrilla television in the years that preceded SNL, the subject of a new documentary Here Come the Videofreex:

Entitlement is quite different from “Civil Rights,” and Here Come the Videofreex helps us understand how the two things became closely linked and then were tied in with the self-satisfaction of media domination. Directors Jon Nealon and Jenny Raskin observe those Sixties youth who felt that through the then-new video technology they could more accurately address the proletariat — a sense of righteous free expression like the social networking of cell phones, Twitter, and innumerable blogs. They were eventually crushed by corporate media’s ultimate indifference. CBS sacked the Videofreex but let them keep the “worthless” technology, which led to the Videofreex’ brief pirate TV enterprise.

It’s amazing to see this all laid out in an indie documentary while we currently contend with the bewildering, flip-flopping propaganda of MSNBC, Fox Cable News, and the shamelessly pandering CNN — all 21st-century videofreaks with small regard for reporting or objectivity. Their “news” cycles merely exploit American politics.

Co-director Raskin had worked on the 2013 Our Nixon, the most compassionate of all Watergate documentaries, which most reviewers misunderstood — seemingly deliberately. Today’s media politics all result from class privilege: Millionaire newsreaders follow the dictates of their behind-the-scenes tycoon bosses (broadcasters committed to the status quo and partisan politricks). They’re determined to influence the voting and polling patterns of viewers and readers. This is what the now-aged provocateurs of Here Come the Videofreex teach us. Parry Teasdale, Davidson Gigliotti, Skip Blumberg, Chuck Kennedy, Carol Vontobel, Ann Woodward, Bart Friedman, and others recall their pasts without guile, even as they lament their inability to fully “democratize” the U.S. media.

And note this: “When a veteran hippie mused, ‘Turning people on to video was like turning them on to grass,’ it seems stunningly naïve. It’s also au courant.”

Which dovetails well with an encomium to a man who also seemed to singlehandedly craft his own culture during the early 1970s, David Bowie. As Nick Gillespie writes in the latest issue of Reason, “David Bowie Was a Time Traveler from Our Hyper-Personalized Future — The star who made it cool to be a freak,” though a very different “freak” from the Videofreex, needless to say:

In 1987, he returned to West Berlin, where he had made an exceptional set of records in the late 1970s, including several with his muse and protégé Iggy Pop. There he played a concert so loud it could be heard in communist East Berlin. The Internet abounds with footage from the show, which is capped by an absolutely brilliant version of “Heroes,” his ballad of doomed lovers who literally meet in the shadow of the Berlin Wall to steal a moment (“I can remember standing by the wall, and the guns shot above our heads”).

Just days after the concert, President Ronald Reagan also performed in Berlin, delivering one of his most memorable lines: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Who’s to say that the example of Bowie, who personified not only the freedom of expression but the sybaritic desire that the Communists had unsuccessfully tried to stamp out, wasn’t as important to the Wall’s destruction as the arms race? The day after his death, the German government tweeted, “Good-bye, David Bowie…Thank you for helping to bring down the #wall.”

Bowie was exceptionally well-read (his list of 100 favorite books ranges from Madame Bovary to The Gnostic Gospels) and was renowned for his knowledge of blues, folk, jazz, and experimental music. (He introduced U.S. audiences to the German avant garde perfomer Klaus Nomi on Saturday Night Live, of all venues.) Yet only fools look to celebrities and artists—especially rock stars—for moral instruction and political programs. We’re wiser to seek artists for inspiration and ideas on how we might expand our own horizons and think about our own possibilities.

It’s in this sense that Bowie was a time traveler from our own future, where we all feel more comfortable not just being who we are but in trying out different things to see whom we might want to become. Certainly, an entire species of performer, from U2 to Madonna to Lady Gaga to Jay-Z (who sampled “Fame” in his 2001 track “Takeover”) were influenced by him.

And unlike many rock stars, Bowie created continuity with earlier forms of popular music, not only by covering various old songs (“Wild Is the Wind” is a memorable instance) but by incongruously appearing with Bing Crosby on der Bingle’s 1977 Merrie Olde Christmas TV Special, which gave birth to Crosby and Bowie’s enduringly beautiful and strange duet of “Peace on Earth/The Little Drummer Boy.”

Back in 2007, I wrote a piece for the Rand-themed New Individualist magazine titled “Welcome to My.Culture — How Emerging Technologies Allow Anyone to Create His Own Culture.” (Somehow, when the piece went to the Web, the subhead replaced the editor’s original title from the print edition, unfortunately):

Through television, newspapers, radio, and advertising, the mass culture of the twentieth century created easily understandable points of reference for virtually everyone. Often, these were low and crude and coarse. But everyone knew who Ralph Cramden was. Who Batman was. Who Vince Lombardi was. You might not have known who Gene Roddenberry was, but you knew that NBC had a show starring a guy with pointed ears.

Today, however, we’re looking at that shared culture in the rearview mirror, and with mixed emotions. In fact, we’re witnessing the death throes of mass culture. It’s being replaced, not by the elder President Bush’s “thousand points of light,” but by a thousand fractured micro-cultures, each of which knows only a little bit about what’s going on in the next micro-culture thriving on the website next door.

As James Lileks of Lileks.com and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Buzz.mn told me a couple of years ago: “Take a basically divided populace—the old red and blue paradigm—and then shove that through a prism which splinters it into millions of different individual demographics, each of which have their own music channel, their own website, their own Blogosphere, their own porn preferences delivered daily by email solicitations. I mean, it’s hard to say whether or not there will eventually be a common culture for which we can have sport, other than making fun of the fact that we really lack a common culture.”

This trend has both good and bad aspects. But before we turn our attention to that—and what it may bode for our future—it might be useful first to review how we got here.

Though I have no doubt that I’ll be repulsed by their reactionary socialist-anarchist message, I’m looking forward to seeing the Videofreex documentary, at least when it comes to Amazon Prime or Netflix. Decades before YouTube, iPhones and GoPros, their taking advantage of the first portable video technology was itself the real revolution (a textbook example of McLuhan’s “The Medium is the Message” aphorism). Gillespie makes a very good case that Bowie was a similar sort of revolutionary — and the recording studio technology he (and his frequent producers Tony Visconti and Nile Rodgers) mastered is similarly now available inside of a reasonably-equipped PC. And as old media continues to be an even vaster version of the vast wasteland that JFK’s FCC Chairman Newton Minnow infamously described, making your own culture as an alternative seems more important than ever. Think of it as the Nockian Remnant with iPhones.

WHAT IF OBAMA DID WHAT TRUMP DOES?, Andrew Klavan asks:

Grove’s sources further report that Lewandowksi apologized to Breitbart’s Washington political editor, Matthew Boyle, and said to Boyle “that he and Fields had never met before and that he didn’t recognize her as a Breitbart reporter, instead mistaking her for an adversarial member of the mainstream media.”

So again, Substitution Game: How would Trump supporters react if Obama’s guy said he had roughed up a reporter because he thought the lady was with Fox News?

Now Lewandowski is saying he never did it at all. If Obama’s guy said that, after reportedly apologizing, would you believe him?

Look, Trump has repeatedly called for violence against hecklers — and violence against hecklers and protesters has followed. In the video above (around the 8:30 mark) Megyn Kelly shows a man sucker punching a black protester who is being escorted OUT of a Trump event. Afterward, the thug explains that the protester wasn’t “acting like an American,” and that “the next time we see him, we might have to kill him.” This is not an isolated incident, but one of a number of such outbursts, which Trump and his people have repeatedly excused.

Substitution Game: what would the Trumpians say if a black man devoted to Obama had cold-cocked a white protester at an Obama rally? Especially after Obama had instructed his followers to “knock the crap” out of anyone who might oppose him. Use your imagination.

Or reverse the races and recall the disgusting details of Kenneth Gladney being roughed up by thugs wearing SEIU t-shirts when Gladney dared protest Obamacare in 2009 at a town hall meeting hosted by then-Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO), after Obama and his colleagues had throughout his campaign the year prior instructed supporters to “argue with neighbors, get in their faces,” “punch back twice as hard,” and as Obama told a crowd in Philadelphia, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun. Because from what I understand folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”

A headline at the Washington Post today is titled “It’s not just Trump. Authoritarian populism is rising across the West. Here’s why.” No. Here’s why:

I’ve had fun over the past several months pointing out comparisons of our current reality show president and his would-be successor. But it’s truly disgusting to see these sorts incidents where Trump’s goons and his more zealous fans stoop to the level of Obama his enablers.

BROADWAY BABIES SAY IT’S MORNING IN AMERICA: Mark Steyn, who knows a thing or two about theater and stagecraft, reviews Donald Trump’s rally in Steyn’s backyard, the perilously blue (David Brooks dubbed it “latte town” 20 years ago) Burlington, Vermont:

Trump has no prompters. He walks out, pulls a couple of pieces of folded paper from his pocket, and then starts talking. Somewhere in there is the germ of a stump speech, but it would bore him to do the same poll-tested focus-grouped thing night after night, so he basically riffs on whatever’s on his mind. This can lead to some odd juxtapositions: One minute he’s talking about the Iran deal, the next he detours into how Macy’s stock is in the toilet since they dumped Trump ties. But in a strange way it all hangs together: It’s both a political speech, and a simultaneous running commentary on his own campaign.

It’s also hilarious. I’ve seen no end of really mediocre shows at the Flynn in the last quarter-century, and I would have to account this the best night’s entertainment I’ve had there with the exception of the great jazz singer Dianne Reeves a few years back. He’s way funnier than half the stand-up acts I’ve seen at the Juste pour rires comedy festival a couple of hours north in Montreal. And I can guarantee that he was funnier than any of the guys trying their hand at Trump Improv night at the Vermont Comedy Club a couple of blocks away. He has a natural comic timing.

Just to be non-partisan about this, the other day I was listening to Obama’s gun-control photo-op at the White House, and he thanked Gabby Giffords, by explaining that her husband Mark’s brother is an astronaut in outer space and he’d called just before Mark’s last meeting at the White House but, not wishing to disturb the President, Mark didn’t pick up. “Which made me feel kind of bad,” said the President. “That’s a long-distance call.” As I was driving along, I remember thinking how brilliantly Obama delivered that line. He’s not usually generous to others and he’s too thin-skinned to be self-deprecating with respect to himself, but, when he wants to get laughs, he knows how to do it. Trump’s is a different style: He’s looser, and more freewheeling. He’s not like Jeb – he doesn’t need writers, and scripted lines; he has a natural instinct for where the comedy lies. He has a zest for the comedy of life.

To be sure, some of the gags can be a little – what’s the word? – mean-spirited. The performance was interrupted by knots of protesters. “Throw ’em out!” barked Trump, after the first chants broke out. The second time it happened, he watched one of the security guys carefully picking up the heckler’s coat. “Confiscate their coats,” deadpanned Trump. “It’s ten below zero outside.” Third time it happened, he extended his coat riff: “We’ll mail them back to them in a couple of weeks.” On MSNBC, they apparently had a discussion on how Trump could be so outrageous as to demand the confiscation of private property. But in showbusiness this is what is known as a “joke”. And in the theatre it lands: everyone’s laughing and having a ball.

Plus this:

The headline in Friday’s local paper read: “BURLINGTON TRUMPED”. That’s what his fans liked. In the liberal heart of a liberal state, the supporters streaming out of the Flynn Theatre, waving genially to the social-justice doofuses across the way, couldn’t recall a night like it. Not in Vermont. In New Hampshire, sure. In South Carolina. But not in Vermont. It felt good to be taking it to the other side’s turf. And they’d like a lot more of it between now and November.

As Kathy Shaidle writes in her link to Steyn’s article, “I’d add ‘read the whole thing’ but you won’t be able to stop anyhow…”

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT LAST WEEK, Frank Cagle’s Must-Read Column On The GOP and Trump:

What I don’t understand about the Republican establishment these days is that they fail to recognize that Trump uses outrageous statements to garner attention, but he taps into issues of real concern to the American people. But if you want to stop Trump, don’t attack him; appeal to the people who support him. Offer sensible solutions to problems he has identified, rather than his half-baked, unrealistic rhetoric.

For example, when the Syrian refugee controversy erupted Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz suggested that maybe we could take only Christian refugees from the Middle East. They were excoriated for the idea. President Barack Obama stood in the Oval Office and said America could not have a religious test for admission and it was un-American. He should know better.

The 1965 immigration reform act, which still governs, has specific criteria for the admission of refugees: people fleeing religious persecution. Who is facing more religious persecution than the Christians in Syria and other areas controlled by ISIS? Beheading, buried alive, machine gunned. Any country has the right to decide who can be admitted and who cannot. Until 1965 Third World immigration was prohibited. There are Christian relief agencies in the Middle East that could help vet refugees facing persecution and help them resettle here.

Did Bush double down, make the case and provide an alternative to Trump’s bellicosity? No, he just attacked Trump’s idea to stop Muslim immigration temporarily, instead of making the issue his own. Trump’s plan? How would that work? Offer anybody getting on the plane a ham sandwich and bar anybody who didn’t eat it? His half-baked idea is about as practical as his plan to have Mexico pay for the border wall.

I think a Trump presidency would be a disaster. While he talks a good game, he has no practical way to carry out his promises. Like Cas, he will say anything to grab attention, get a headline and get on television. But his success should be a warning to the political establishment. The American people are fed up with political correctness, and if you do not provide sensible solutions to the issues Trump has raised, don’t be surprised when he stand on the podium as the GOP nominee.

Jeb’s not the guy to do this, it appears.

THE THING IS, OBAMA BELIEVES THAT THE RIGHT SIDE WON: The Lost Revolution:

Afghanistan was not the only foreign policy disappointment of the last seven years. Barring the administration’s “historic” nuclear deal with Iran and his Climate Change accord, the foreign policy landscape is one of desolation. This week marks the 5th anniversary of another epic chance missed, a once in a century opportunity turned to ashes: the Arab Spring. Once synonymous with hope it has become shorthand for the Mother of All Screwups. . . .

Imagine a Battle of Lexington leading to a War of Independence that went horribly, horribly wrong. That wouldn’t be hard if you could conceive of a leadership that decided to ‘lead from behind’. Sohrab Ahmari, writing in the Wall Street Journal, says that when the old order collapsed an Islamism waiting in the wings came out to fill the vacuum left by a distant Barack Obama. ‘Good Guys’ who were without guns found themselves abandoned by Western governments to bloodthirsty Mustache Petes in the cynical belief that it was easier to make a deal with political Islam or dictators than build a region on new democratic principles.

This was for some reason regarded as smart. Ahmari argues that by the time West found they could not negotiate with bad guys it was too late to reverse the damage.

They say never to attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence. But can they really be this incompetent?

A COMMENT SECTION GOES HORRIBLY WRONG: In order to pretend they didn’t completely jump the gun on the Ahmed the clockmaker story, the DIY-oriented Hackaday Website runs – just out of the blue, totally for kicks and grins, no reason, just seems so pleasin’ – a story titled “Clocks for Social Good.” Things begin to go awry in the comments, starting here:

You know how you periodically investigate a kick-starter, going over public pictures and asking real questions about “is this real”?

The difference in the way you are approaching Ahmed’s clock and a random kickstarter is really really painful to watch. Your credibility is on the line here and you really really need to say “yeah okay we were taken in by a story that was too good to check”.

Ahmed’s clock was just a disassembled commercial clock. It’s painfully obvious. And to your readers, it’s even more painfully obvious than it is to a lay person.

I’m embarrassed for you guys. You keep doubling down on “lay people hate science” when what they really hate is being lied to to advance a narrative.

Right now, it’s starting to look like you either are incapable of spotting an obvious fake, or that you don’t like facts get in the way of the story you want to tell. Neither is good for your credibility.

All that said, these are really cool clocks, and the bomb post was good too. But it’s obvious you’re trying to cover up your error. Quit blowing smoke and own up to it.

Hey, you knwo what? It would make a good “fail of the week” post. And for the same reasons. Failure happens, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, and we cant’ let it get in the way of trying. We need to normalize admitting error so that more people will do it.

I also think a post where you examine Ahmed’s clock the way you examine anything else, trying to identify chips, boards, and model numbers would be good forensic work.

Well, that article’s already been written. The video version is much shorter for those who don’t wish to type TLDN in response:

But stop by the comments section yourself if you’d like to join in on the “fun.”

(Headline inspired by this long running series at Small Dead Animals.)

TAMARA KEEL: Sales Pitch.

Thing is, I don’t think what I do is sell guns so much as talk about guns. All you have to do is pull my string on the topic and off I go, in positively Aspie-like levels of detail and enthusiasm, on a topic near and dear to my heart. And then people buy the thing about which I am talking.

When I was in sales, one thing I learned was that when a customer told me I was a great salesman, it meant I had lost the sale. If they were enthusiastic about the product, though, it was good. And they were more likely to be enthusiastic about the product if I was enthusiastic about the product.

What I find funny among my law students — and it was far more prevalent among law students at Yale — is the idea that sales is a job that any idiot can do if they can’t get something better. I remember somebody in the dining hall there talking about “selling insurance” as that sort of job, and I pointed out to them that it’s really hard to get people to buy insurance, because it costs money and requires them to think about the prospect of bad things happening. They were surprised.

In Norah Vincent’s Self-Made Man, she gets a sales job and discovers that it’s really hard, and that she has to get in character like an actor getting up for a part, and suddenly all those sales-training and motivational seminars that always seemed so cheesy to her make sense.

Of course, there are plenty of lousy salespeople out there. I remember car-shopping and driving up to the dealership where several of the salesmen were sitting on folding chairs shooting the breeze. The guy I talked to couldn’t answer basic questions that were answered in the brochures in the rack sitting right behind where they were shooting the breeze. If I had had his job, learning what was in those brochures would have been the very first thing I did.

But any job is easy to do badly. People who think that succeeding — or even just getting by for very long — in sales is easy don’t know what they’re talking about.

WHO ARE TRUMP’S SUPPORTERS? Not Who You Think. I think to some degree it depends on what you mean by “supporters.” Lots of people support Trump’s kicking sand in the faces of the media and GOP establishment who don’t actually support him for President.

UPDATE: It’s paywalled for some people, apparently, but I can get through fine. But here’s an excerpt for the gist, for those who can’t read the whole thing.

Today’s prototypical conservative base voters are infamously principled. Their views are hardened, their heels dug in. They are armed with all kinds of litmus tests and purity tests to make sure the “fake” conservatives are weeded out from the good ones, often to the chagrin of the party.

It shifts with time, but at the moment the ideological guillotine falls on issues like immigration (are you for a pathway?), abortion (are you for exceptions?), guns (are you for universal background checks?), education (do you support Common Core?) and climate change (do you think it’s real?). Departing from doctrine on just one of these can cast a foreboding shadow of skepticism upon an otherwise devout and disciplined conservative.

For Republican base voters, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush are unforgivably moderate. While to the rest of the country people like John McCain and Mitt Romney are sufficiently conservative if not “severely” conservative, to use Romney’s phrasing, to the hardened base voters the 2008 and 2012 presidential losses were proof that voting for the so-called electable candidate, instead of the principled one, leaves them with nothing to show for it. They got neither the satisfaction of voting their conscience — be it for Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum — nor the consolation of a less than conservative Republican in the White House.

The idea that in 2016 these voters would simply turn off their hard-wired orthodoxy and support a guy who has voted for Democrats, said “the economy does better under the Democrats,” refused to pledge to support the Republican nominee if it’s not him, openly defended Planned Parenthood, approved of exceptions to abortion bans, supported a single-payer health care system, backed an assault weapons ban and advocated a one-time 14.25 percent mega-tax on the wealthy to erase the national debt is, to put it in Trumpian language, really, really stupid.

Base voters will stick with candidates like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, who demonstrated their conservative bona fides by shutting down the government, filibustering the Patriot Act and pledging to repeal Obamacare. The more evangelically inclined will support Huckabee and Santorum, or maybe even Marco Rubio, who recently said he personally opposes any exceptions — rape, incest, health of the mother — for abortion.

So who is the Trump supporter, if not the conservative base? I’d argue it’s mostly disaffected moderates who no longer strictly identify with either party. They think the political system is rigged. They think politicians are corrupt. They want a total collapse of the ruling political class.

While Trump probably gets more support from the right, running as a Republican, he attracts from the left as well.

So there.

THE SUPER BOWL OF SUPERHOLES: This past weekend, Donald Trump dominated the headlines for his assholish attack on John McCain’s war record. But back in the late 1990s, as Mark Steyn notes in a new article, the DNC-MSM were more than happy to blackout coverage of the asshole side of John McCain, because he was their kind of asshole – a Republican who, the vast majority of the time, bashed fellow Republicans. Flash-forward a decade and a half:

Trump’s right: This country treats its veterans appallingly, far worse than most other civilized societies, consigning far too many to food stamps and entrapping them in a third-class health-care system. A New Hampshire neighbor of mine, a Vietnam vet exposed to Agent Orange and thus given cancer as a war-losing bonus, just received the usual letter from the VA telling him his benefits were being cut. Oddly enough, he loathes McCain and is gung-ho for Trump. Do you want to bet he’s in a minority down at the Legion? John McCain doesn’t embody the grand variety and diversity of America’s warriors; John McCain embodies John McCain: That’s it. So, when the Republican establishment spends two news cycles huffing about the amour propre of a wealthy career politician, they’re only reinforcing Trump’s critique: that the GOP is a party of “losers” and “failures” obsessed with peripheral trivia nobody else cares about, while ignoring everything that’s killing your future.

Finally, re that “asshole” business, I should add that I don’t mean it as a criticism. Personally, I’d like it if Calvin Coolidge were on the ticket, or indeed the Marquess of Salisbury. But they’ve decided to sit out Campaign 2016, so one must take what one can get. And a citizenry that votes for an asshole is less deluded than one that votes for a messiah. Thus, voting for, say, Silvio Berlusconi (a kind of wealthier mini-Trump, and yet the third longest serving prime minister in Italian history, after Mussolini and Giolitti) is less psychologically unhealthy than voting for Barack Obama. And, come to that, less damaging to republican virtue than voting for the previous guy’s wife or brother.

Read the whole thing.

And then check out John Nolte of Big Journalism, who notes the folly of GOP consultants, like McCain himself last week, attacking and belittling Trump’s supporters. As Nolte writes, “There are all kinds of good arguments to convince a Republican to turn away from Trump. But when the delivery system is a smug, condescending dickishness, we’ve already lost.”

See also: Election of 1992.

TOM MAGUIRE ON HILLARY’S BIGGEST POLICY DEBACLE (THAT WE KNOW OF): Eerily Prescient On The Libyan Debacle.

For a bit of Sunday afternoon quarterbacking, let’s excerpt this from March 22 2011, by Adam Garfinkle of The American Interest:

As noted, there is a regional and tribal element to the fight in Libya. It is unlikely that the Benghazi-based rebels could by themselves establish stable control over the whole country. It is almost as unlikely that the Tripolitanian tribes could re-establish firm control over Cyrenaica. Qaddafi managed the feat through a combination of patronage, terror and cooptation. That will be a very hard act to follow in the wake of so much bloodletting. We are therefore looking into the maw of a Libya that may well be divided, in the throes of some kind of protracted, at least low-level civil war, and that could very easily produce an insurgency spilling over the Egyptian and Tunisian borders—complete with refugees, the usual dysfunctional NGO triage operations and all the rest. And in due course, if the fractious mess lasts long enough, there is a reasonable prospect that al-Qaeda will find a way to establish a foothold amid the mayhem.

Who will want to send in peacekeepers to baby-sit a Libya that looks like that? Who’ll want to go to the UN to get the job authorized? The African Union?

Now, given that this sort of problem is foreseeable, and that it was also foreseeable before the cruise missiles started flying on Saturday, it stands to reason that a responsible, serious government will have thought about all this in advance, and come up with some plan for the post-combat “Phase IV” of the Libyan War, right? Not on your life; the President and his war council almost certainly have not even begun to think about this sort of thing, because they’re still in denial that it could happen. This is, after all, just a limited, humanitarian mission as far as they’re concerned. They don’t realize it yet, but these guys are on a path to make even Donny Rumsfeld and Tommy Franks look good—and you thought that was impossible.

Well, no I didn’t.

Maguire’s conclusion: “The guy who got elected on ‘No More Iraqs’ gave us a new Iraq (and lost the original one!). With Hillary at his side encouraging our involvement.”

TODAY IN “WORKPLACE VIOLENCE:” FBI probing suspect’s recent conversion to Islam in Oklahoma beheading.

UPDATE: Stopped by “a good guy with a gun.”

Lewis confirms that Hufford was stabbed several times and that Nolen “severed her head.”

At that point, Lewis claims Nolen met 43-year-old Traci Johnson and began attacking her with the same knife.

Officials say at that point, Mark Vaughan, an Oklahoma County reserve deputy and a former CEO of the business, shot him as he was actively stabbing Johnson.

“He’s a hero in this situation,” Sgt. Lewis said, referring to Vaughan. “It could have gotten a lot worse.”

Yep.

SOME HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE FROM TAM:

In the Twenties, cops had better guns than the military. Submachineguns and self-loading rifles were widespread in law enforcement before they ever were in the Army. People need to stop getting their history from Andy Griffith reruns. Frank Hamer didn’t gun Bonnie and Clyde down from ambush with a flintlock musket, you know.

In the Sixties, they’d have already turned the dogs and water cannons on the Ferguson protestors. In the Twenties, Andy and Barney would have broken the old Potato-Digger out of the armory and started mowing them down. The po-po used to be pretty quick to go weapons-free on unruly crowds, especially if such crowds were made up of black folk or commies.

Realistically speaking, the rate of police violence (like all violence) is probably at a low ebb, but in this age of social media, ubiquitous cameras, and the 24-hour news cycle, you get to hear about every bit of it. (And of course the media is 100% infallible when they report on police brutality, the way they are with gun-related stuff. We mock the “shoulder thing that goes up” utterances and then Gell-Mann our way across the page to nod in sage agreement at reported use-of-force abuses.)

Sure, in the old days, Officer Flatfoot walked a beat and said “Hi!” to the kids and helped people carry their groceries in. He also “tuned up” the occasional vagrant with some brass knuckles for giving him lip or helped a black guy ensure that the sun didn’t set on his back in Pleasantville, and everybody just shrugged and went on, because that’s how things were.

Let’s everybody be thankful that, so far, Ferguson 2014 hasn’t turned into either Los Angeles 1992 or Tulsa 1921.

True. What’s amazing about Ferguson is that, for all the sturm und drang, the casualty count is pretty light.

ARMED DOCTOR THWARTS SHOOTER IN PHILY HOSPITAL, a gun-rights case is born. “The question of whether it’s a good idea to arm doctors and teachers and others who work in places historically targeted by mass shooters has been recurrent in the news since even before the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn. . . . For one thing, police are still trying to figure out why Silverman was armed in the first place since bringing a gun to work is against the rules at the hospital.”

Yeah, the rules didn’t stop the bad guy either.

MALCOLM GLADWELL ON THE GOVERNMENT AND THE BRANCH DAVIDIANS.

There is a telling moment during the siege when Schneider is talking to an F.B.I. negotiator about an undercover A.T.F. agent who used the name Robert Gonzalez. The A.T.F. believed that the Branch Davidians—who ran a small business selling weapons at gun shows—had converted a batch of firearms from semiautomatic to automatic without the proper permits. Gonzalez’s job was to infiltrate the Davidian community and look for evidence. (He found none, a fact that—along with the A.T.F.’s bizarre decision to serve a warrant on Koresh by force, rather than arresting him on those numerous occasions when he ventured into town—loomed large in the many Waco postmortems.) Here is Schneider and a negotiator talking about what happened after the Davidians realized that Gonzalez was not who he said he was:

F.B.I.: Why didn’t you have a confrontation [with Gonzalez] and say look, l just . . . don’t appreciate you being here?
SCHNEIDER: Well . . . because here’s a possible guy, here’s a soul maybe, here’s someone like myself—
F.B.I.: Yeah. But he wasn’t there to have his soul saved, right?
SCHNEIDER: Well, who knows, though? You never can tell.
F.B.I.: Wait a minute. I know . . . I worked under cover years and years ago and I wasn’t there to have somebody save my soul.

The F.B.I. agent expected that the Davidians, like a fragile cult, would turn paranoid and defensive in the presence of a threat. He didn’t grasp that he was dealing with a very different kind of group—the sort whose idea of a good evening’s fun was a six-hour Bible study wrestling with a tricky passage of Revelation. It was a crucial misunderstanding, and would feed directly into the tragedy that was to come. . . . In the government’s eyes, the Branch Davidians were a threat.

On a related note, let me recommend David Kopel, et al., No More Wacos: What’s Wrong With Federal Law Enforcement and How to Fix It. It would be an understatement, however, to say that the advice contained therein hasn’t been much followed.

WAYNE LAPIERRE ON NAVY YARD SHOOTINGS: There weren’t enough good guys with guns.

Not even a SWAT team, whose mysterious stand-down order remains unexplained.

UPDATE: Tamar Tabo: What We’re Not Talking About When We’re Talking About Guns.

(1) Contrary to some initial news reports, Alexis did not use an AR-15 assault rifle. Rather, he used a shotgun, which he brought with him, and a pistol he appears to have taken from an armed guard at the Navy Yard. So, arguments about banning “military-style assault rifles” don’t fit this particular — still tragic — narrative.

(2) Alexis had a Secret security clearance. More than a simple criminal background check, the procedure requires a few months to a year of investigation. So, the usual arguments about basic background checks for gun ownership preventing tragedies of this sort don’t fit this narrative either.

So, what does fit? What changes to law and policy can we talk about in the aftermath of this week’s tragedy?

We need to have some tough conversations about identifying severely mentally ill individuals, treating them for those conditions involuntarily if necessary, and warehousing them, if absolutely no other therapeutic option remains. Historical precedents teach that these issues can be easily mishandled. That fact, though, does not mean that we don’t need to do our best to handle them properly now.

We must also have some uncomfortable conversations about pharmacological treatment of mental illness and the liabilities that come with prescribing drugs that may affect individual patients in difficult-to-predict ways.

Indeed.

NSA WHISTLEBLOWER GOES PUBLIC. Some are calling him a hero, others a traitor. I’d say it’s a bit early to form an opinion, though the stuff he’s released is creating a much-needed stir. It’s very interesting to see the traditional left-right split erode, as Glenn Beck praises Glenn Greenwald’s big scoop.

UPDATE: A dissent from the widespread sentiment by reader John Burke:

I think it’s reprehensible that so much of the right of all colorations have fallen over themselves to team up with Glenn Greenwald, a hard-core leftist who finds nothing to like about the US or its policies and consistently defends terrorists, and the Guardian, a foreign left-wing paper to recklessly bash NSA intelligence gathering — no doubt in most cases because it casts Obama as a hypocrite on counter-terrorism issues.

A close reading of the NSA disclosures so far makes clear these are programs designed to collect foreign intelligence information at a time when most international communication has moved onto web platforms and phone calls are mostly mobile. Exposure of details about these programs risks harm not only to counter-terrorism activities (just how do you suppose CIA pinpoints al Qaeda targets in Pakistan for drone strikes?), but to all of our intelligence gathering and counter-espionage activities. Buried in a NYT story about PRISM is a reported fact that should give everyone pause: the biggest haul of data from PRISM in one recent period came from Iran.

Now, Greenwald’s stoolie has fled to Hong Kong where he hopes to be shielded by the Communist Chinese, great lovers of freedom as they are, while he spouts about how courageous he is.

It would be very disappointing to at least some of your longest term readers if you fell for this. These guys are out to do as much damage as they can to the United States.

Well, as I say, stay tuned.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails:

In response to reader John Burke’s comment on your post, specifically this part:

“These guys are out to do as much damage as they can to the United States.”

Who says this isn’t the same goal of the current regime in Washington? Everything that has happened since Obama took office either seems designed to hurt the US as much as possible or is the product of complete incompetence. Unfortunately, I don’t think Obama is that dumb. Biden, maybe.

I work in higher ed in a high level administrator position, so please don’t attach my name to anything as I face Obama fanboys all day long. It would make my already challenging days more difficult.

Good point. And reader Mark Cridland writes:

I lost a lot of respect for you a few minutes ago when reading your comments about Snowdon. I can’t imagine why it would be “a bit early to form an opinion.” This is just as clean a call against overpowering and centralized government authority as can be imagined.

(Why do NSA disclosures require “a close reading”?… Except that perhaps Burke-types like to imagine themselves as specially-perceptive people who really know how to parse information, just like these monsters in our government who’ve spent our money collecting it. About us.)

Well, I’ve been counting on Twitter for a couple of years now, and it handily completes the chores that your blog handled in the early days after the attacks, when Kaus so aptly described your perspective as “catholic.” I’ll never understand how intervening events have left you so timid, but it doesn’t really matter.

There’s a good chance that even Snowden doesn’t really know who he’s working for. Bear that in mind. But reader Chris Bray writes:

Your anti-Snowden reader is full of shit. The NSA is not building that Utah facility to narrowly examine carefully chosen foreign targets as security threats. We’re transitioning to a total surveillance society, and Edward Snowden is trying to tell us about some of it. This is where we sort the limited government conservatives from the Lindsey Graham crowd.

Well, stay tuned. Just remember that you may or may not know what’s really going on.

JOURNALISM PROFESSOR CALLS FOR FIRING SQUAD, MISSILE ATTACKS ON NRA.

UPDATE: Some background from Bryan Preston.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Mockery from reader Kevin O’Brien:

He writes: “But, the gun safety debate is B.S. This foaming at the mouth, Obamar is coming for the guns, Nanny Bloomberg is a bad billionaire, and most despicable of all, those survivors and victims are pawns in the liberal agenda is knuckle-dragging Cretan talk.”

One would think a Card Carrying Journalist™ would be able to distinguish between a Cretan and a cretin. Evidently not.

(One is a resident of a large Greek island. The other, it seems, is a professor at a university best known for its football squad. NTTAWWT).

Extra credit: diagram that sentence.

And there’s this: “Except it won’t be a boot. It’ll be an M1A Abrams tank, supported by an F22 Raptor squadron with Hellfire missiles. Try treason on for size. See how that suits. And their assault arsenal and RPGs won’t do them any good.”

Er, Hellfire missile isn’t used by the F22. And I don’t know where he gets the idea that RPGs are widespread among the Americans he hates (or is it the Cretans? I don’t think they have RPGs either).

If this guy thinks he’s propping up the anti-gun, for-renewing-AWB-before-he-was-agin’-it, “background checks”-as-registration Manchin, well… I bet Joe doesn’t want the propping.

But politics aside, shouldn’t a professor of anything be able to express himself in English? STEM grad assistants, maybe not, but a full professor? Of Journalism, lord love a duck?

There’s a reason the higher education bubble is popping.

MORE: Another reader emails: “Headline: Journalism Prof Swindell insults Greeks: Academic cretin has Greek Parliament in uproar.”

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: The Boston Manhunt and the MSM’s Gun Control Blind Spot.

We wrote about the MSM’s inability to grasp the politics that caused the gun control bill to fail in the Senate this week. The aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing illustrates the divide.

Millions of Americans listening to the bulletins on the developing manhunt were either glad they had guns in their homes or thought seriously about getting them. Yet for many professional journalists, and maybe especially those in the Acela corridor in the Northeast, this reaction is incomprehensible.

Put simply, millions of Americans don’t want to depend only on the police for protection. They think about the inevitable interval between calling 911 and the arrival of the cops, and they don’t want to wait helplessly for the good guys to arrive. Events like this one reinforce deeply held public beliefs about the dangerous world we live in and the limits of the state’s ability to protect the people from the bad guys.

This may not strike enlightened and well credentialed Acela liberals as sensible or rational, but that’s not the point.

They talk about empathy and understanding for other cultures. But . . . .

JACOB SULLUM: Obama Responds to His Gun Control Defeat With Self-Righteous Solipsism.

Of course they have a right to speak their minds. But no, their emotions are not relevant when it comes to empirical questions such as the impact of background checks, “assault weapon” bans, and limits on magazines. Their pain tells us nothing about the effectiveness or constitutionality of such measures. To the contrary, it obscures those issues with an impenetrable emotional fog.

Obama does a fine job of empathizing with the parents of Adam Lanza’s victims. But that is something any decent human being should be able to manage. Where he has trouble, despite his lip service to the idea of putting himself in the other guy’s shoes, is in empathizing with his opponents. He not only says they are wrong, which is to be expected. He refuses to concede that people who disagree with him about gun control are acting in good faith, based on what they believe to be sound reasons—that they, like him, are doing what they think is right. His self-righteous solipsism is striking even for a politician.

Most politicians, even if they feel that way, are better at hiding it, because they realize that it’s generally bad politics.

Related: “Let’s put it this way: Passion may have a place, but it is not a substitute for rational argument.” Well, it was used as a substitute here, and as a way of saying if you disagree with me it’s because you don’t care about dead kids, but it didn’t work. Maybe it would have, if life were a Very Special Episode of The West Wing.

More:

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), co-sponsor of the background-check amendment, disagrees. Here is how he solicited support for that measure: “If you want to remember those 20 babies—beautiful children—and the six brave teachers…and you want to honor the most courageous family members I have ever met, please vote for this bill.” By extension, if you dare to point out that background checks have absolutely nothing to do with the Sandy Hook massacre, you are dishonoring the memories of those innocent victims. Anyone “with a good conscience,” Manchin claimed, could not possibly question whether a bill supposedly aimed at preventing mass shootings would actually do that. Could it be that Manchin’s intimidation tactics not only failed but backfired?

“This was a pretty shameful day for Washington,” President Obama declared after today’s votes, saying senators who voted against the amendments he supported “caved to pressure.” That seems a more apt description for legislators like Reid and Manchin, who for years opposed gun control measures based on what they claimed were principled grounds, only to abandon those principles because they were afraid of seeming insensitive in the face of raw emotional appeals. But as I’ve said before, Obama seems incapable of imagining that his opponents have any principles at all.

Indeed.

UPDATE: Reader Matt Kreutzmann writes:

With the defeat today of even a modest gun control measure, I’m starting to think of Obama’s 2nd term and the election differently…

Winning by getting out low-information voters that wouldn’t otherwise vote is kind of like all the various SEO practices designed to game the Google algorithm and get a site on page one of the results – it might work, but it doesn’t make you relevant. Relevance takes hard work and authenticity, neither of which comes readily to this President.

Interesting analogy.

TWO REDFORDS IN ONE: “Actor-director Robert Redford used his opening address at the Sundance film festival last night to add to the pressure on Hollywood to rein in its depiction of gun violence in the wake of the Newtown school massacre,” the London Guardian reported in January.

The Guardian failed to mention that Redford’s next film, due out in American theaters early next month, is a homage to Bill Ayers and the Weather Underground. When it played the Venice Film Festival in September, Time magazine gave it a boffo review: “Robert Redford’s The Company You Keep: Old Radicals Die Hard:”

For how many decades of your life do you have to be the person you were in your twenties? Small-town lawyer Jim Grant (Robert Redford) wonders that when he hears the news that Susan Solarz (Susan Sarandon), a long-ago member of the Weather Underground who has lived incognito as a quiet housewife and mother, had been arrested and charged with murder for her radical activities in the ’70s. For Jim, the question is not academic. Under his real name, Nick Sloan, he had been one of Solarz’s comrades in the bombings of government buildings at exactly that period when political idealism soured into potentially lethal criminality.

This film sounds like the bomb!*

Time’s review adds, “The Company You Keep is streaked with melancholy: a disappointment that the second American Revolution never came…” I wonder if Time realizes the implications of those words, even as employees of Time-Warner-CNN-HBO continuously attack those Americans who would seek to defend themselves if it ever did.

Fortunately, to borrow a phrase used by one of Ayers’ acquaintances, Michelle Malkin and Sean Hannity rhetorically punch back twice as hard at Redford’s moral equivalency; watch the video at The Right Scoop.

Incidentally, this isn’t the first Hollywood film that’s a paean to the Weathermen; 1988’s Running on Empty was directed by the late Sidney Lumet and starred otherwise good guy actor Judd Hirsch in the Ayers-inspired role of a former terrorist on the lam.

* To paraphrase the late Andrew Breitbart’s remarks in response to the dinner that Ayers himself served him, after the Daily Caller pledged the most in a fundraiser to win a surreal dinner date with Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn early last year.

UPDATE: Redford’s pro-Weathermen film was originally shot in 2011, and Kathy Shaidle was writing about it when it was previewed at Sundance in January of 2012:

Over twenty years after Running on Empty came out and more than ten years after Bill Ayers told The New York Times (in its 9/11/01 morning edition, no less) that he regretted not setting more bombs, Robert Redford’s next movie sees him playing “a fugitive Weather Underground radical who has been in hiding for 30 years.”

I suppose it makes for a nice change from Weather Underground radicals who teach at major universities and hang out with the president.

No doubt when the film, called The Company You Keep, tanks at the box office, Redford will issue a condescending statement bemoaning the ignorance of America’s moviegoing public. Thank God he doesn’t have to rely on us plebes, though. The 2012 Sundance Festival has just wrapped up, but it doesn’t take a weatherman to know which movie will top next year’s roster.

I wonder if the gap between when it was originally filmed, when it was previewed at Sundance and its opening in American theaters means that a lot of editing has been going on in an effort to salvage the film. That could also explain its relatively low rating at IMDB — 6.3 on a scale of one to ten — and IMDB readers definitely tend to grade on a curve — as of the time of this post.

(Cross-posted at Ed Driscoll.com, if you’d like to comment there.)

VIDEO: GUY IN BLOOMBERG GUN-CONTROL ADS BREAKS ALL THE MAJOR RULES OF GUN SAFETY: “I really do hate to be a stickler, but if there’s one thing to be a stickler about, the basic rules of gun safety while you’re in an ad for alleged advocates of gun safety is a pretty good choice.”

A MYSTERY OF SCIENCE: So this weekend I went shooting with a friend. We shot an AK-74, an SKS, and a civilianized M4, as well as a cool Colt cowboy revolver. The guns didn’t shoot themselves, and neither of us was transformed into a mass murderer. Go figure — from what I’ve read in the New York Times that’s practically unheard of . . . .

How’d I do? Not bad, for a law professor. He’s a Special Forces veteran. He outshot me on the rifles by a significant margin, I outshot him on the pistol by a not-so-significant margin. I’ll take that.

UPDATE: Reader Gerald Hanner writes: “For a Special Forces type, a handgun is the last resort — or maybe a knife or club is. For most of us flyers the only thing that we could get in the cockpit, usually, was Colt combat masterpiece. And that wasn’t much when a bunch of guys with AK-47s were looking for you.”

Yeah, my old secretary was a Marine combat engineer reservist, and I had to give him pistol lessons before his second deployment. He said the Marines didn’t teach him much about pistol shooting (it’s “every Marine a rifleman,” not “every Marine a pistolero”) but it’s hard to carry an M-16 while you’re squatting down to defuse a bomb. I’m a decent shot with a handgun, though — as I find out whenever I shoot in competitions — while my accuracy is good, I don’t have the speed that real pistol competitors have. They’ll get off five shots in the time it takes me to get two, and they’ll be at least as accurate as me.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Several readers point out that the “Combat Masterpiece” is a Smith & Wesson, not a Colt.

GUNS: Woman hiding with kids shoots intruder.

A woman hiding in her attic with children shot an intruder multiple times before fleeing to safety Friday.

The incident happened at a home on Henderson Ridge Lane in Loganville around 1 p.m. The woman was working in an upstairs office when she spotted a strange man outside a window, according to Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman. He said she took her 9-year-old twins to a crawlspace before the man broke in using a crowbar.

But the man eventually found the family.

“The perpetrator opens that door. Of course, at that time he’s staring at her, her two children and a .38 revolver,” Chapman told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh.

The woman then shot him five times, but he survived, Chapman said. He said the woman ran out of bullets but threatened to shoot the intruder if he moved.

“She’s standing over him, and she realizes she’s fired all six rounds. And the guy’s telling her to quit shooting,” Chapman said.

The woman ran to a neighbor’s home with her children. The intruder attempted to flee in his car but crashed into a wooded area and collapsed in a nearby driveway, Chapman said.

See, this is where one of those “assault weapons” might have come in handy.

UPDATE: A reader emails: “When some politician starts pontificating that no one needs more than a 10 round clip capacity (or 5, or 3) this is the story that should be shoved in their faces. She fired 6 shots, put 5 in the attacker and he was still kicking. What if there had been multiple attackers. Then that 30 round clip suddenly seems appropriate.”

See, that’s why I make sure the Insta-Wife has plenty of bullets. It’s out of kindness to any home invaders. Because what she’d do to them if she were out of bullets would be worse.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Donald Sensing emails:

I have some insight as a retired Army artillery officer. First, you never want to be in a gunfight with barely enough firepower. The principle is called, “overmatch,” which should be self explanatory. As a Marine friend told me, when you go to a gunfight, bring not just a gun, bring all your guns. Bring all your friends and have them bring all their guns.

Bottom line, you do not want a gunfight to be a fair fight, whether on the battlefield on inside your own home.

Every time I read some bozo gun controller talking about what he thinks is “not necessary” for self defense, it further proves that gun controllers know nothing about guns, but plenty about control, and the gun-control movement is heavily northeast urban in character.

There is more out here in the real world to defend against than muggers or home invaders, hence I explained, “Why I Am an Armed Pastor.”

I also read on another blog the comments by a western rancher who explained that he always carries a .223 semi-auto rifle when working his own property. Why? Because of wolves. Six charged him one day and it took far more than 10 rounds from his “assault” rifle to drop two of them, after which the other four fled. Naturally, he started shooting at them at long range and they were running fast to boot, so he missed most shots. Which is exactly right: “Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes” is musket shooting, not a good tactic to defend against multiple predators.

But gun controllers don’t get things like that. They think everything works like on TV or the movies, when a shooter never misses and every hit immediately kills. A more ignorant bunch can hardly be identified in America today.

Well, that’s certainly true. And reader Ron Jones emails:

Take a look at the home in the story – this is the soccer mom haven, the bastion of the American middle where no evil doth enter, yet here is the worst scenario possible. Woman alone at home with her children. We need images like this house/setting to combat the images of the anti-gun lobby. Images are powerful!

Yes, and a guy who would chase down a woman and her kids to an attic crawl space was planning on something worse than lifting a TV, I suspect.

RADLEY BALKO: In Which Harold And Kumar Go Into Hiding.

Well, dammit.

I was so very excited about all that sensible drug policy we were going to get out of President Obama in his second term. I mean sure, Obama had spent a good deal of his first term waging more raids on medical marijuana clinics in four years than Bush had waged in eight. And his administration defended DEA agents who point guns at the heads of children during drug raids. And his appointees continued to defend the carnage in Mexico as merely the consequence of good, sensible drug policy.

Sure. There was all of that. But there were also all of these progressive pundits who kept telling drug war reformers that they should go ahead and vote for Obama anyway . . . because they just knew, or at least they were pretty sure, or at least they had heard rumors, that maybe, possibly, Obama would turn the corner and show some leadership. . . .

You’d think that if Obama were going to “pivot,” simply leaving alone two states that overwhelmingly legalized pot and gave him their electoral votes would be the best place to start.

As for “bring some cases against low-level marijuana users….,” I think that means you, Harold and Kumar. Hope you guys aren’t dog people.

The Drug War is about control. Obama likes control.

RIDE RIGHT THROUGH THEM, THEY’RE DEMORALIZED AS HELL: In the middle of September, when Glenn linked to one of Peter Ingemi’s patented “Ride right through them, they’re demoralized as hell!” posts at his Da Tech Guy blog, my first thought, especially after the media’s attempt to create a “September Surprise” for Romney by playing, en masse, Mother Jones’ “47 Percent” clip as some sort of death blow smoking gun was…well, I want to believe.

Then came Romney demoralizing the hell out of MSNBC during the first debate, the New Yorker cover, the surging polls, and now Joe Biden’s weird performance last night, a cross between The Joker, Dennis Hopper’s nitrous-fueled Frank Booth in Blue Velvet, and if you’ll pardon the insult to the two aforementioned men, Al Gore.

Regarding Biden’s performance, Peggy Noonan, who praised Obama in 2008, and would normally love Biden when he’s in Goofy Ol’ Uncle Joe Mode, writes, “National Democrats keep confusing strength with aggression and command with sarcasm. Even the latter didn’t work for Mr. Biden. The things he said had the rhythm and smirk of sarcasm without the cutting substance.”

Along similar lines as Noonan’s observation, Richard Fernandez, my fellow PJM colleague, described Biden’s style as a reincarnated “Berserker” last night, noting that Biden played on that weird exaggerated macho angry pose that so many of the left seem to affect:

The Democratic debate strategy was apparently to put on a show in which Biden would visually dominate Ryan. This will have two effects. The first is it will convince the Democrats that they “won” the debate. But it will probably not convince anyone else. On the contrary, Biden seems to have infuriated all the conservatives who were watching the proceedings. The basic effect of the Biden-Ryan debate on the Democrats is to reassure themselves that they are not sissies.

Biden is doing a war chant for the benefit of the base. They are making the poor old man dance. From some of the tweets, you get the sense that Biden is taking the act a little too far, past eccentric and into gibbering.

Chris Rock ‏@chrisrockoz
Joe Biden should just reach over and slap Ryan in the face and say ‘Don’t forget, Osama Bin Laden is Dead, General Motors is alive’ #debate

VANITY FAIR ‏@VanityFair
Biden now calls Romney his “friend.” What do you think Biden thinks the definition of “friend” is?

Markos Moulitsas ‏@markos
Funny seeing manly-men conservatives whining that Biden is being too rough and aggressive.

How will this net out? Biden will have not have succeeded in showing Ryan to be unworthy, a bully, unstatesmanlike, or arrogant — that was the principal pitfall that Ryan sought to avoid. But Biden might have convinced enough conservatives that he is a buffoon. The Democrats must be thoroughly demoralized if they found that spectacle bracing. My guess is that Biden has brought the president no net gain.

Concurrent to Richard’s post, at Ricochet, Clarke Judge watched the debate and asked, “Will the Bottom Drop Out for the Democratic Ticket?”  Judge writes, “Biden channeled the now defunct Air America, the leftist talk radio that was full of rage, a tone that put them out of business.”

Before the debate, Mike Flynn of Big Government posited that Biden challenge was to “Keep Down-Ballot Dems From Jumping Ship:”

Biden needs to go beyond his tendency to misspeak and make gaffes and nail a coherent vision for Obama’s second term. If he doesn’t, down-ballot Dems running for the Senate or the House will start to aggressively move away from the national ticket. Obama may do a better job in the debate next week, but without a powerful assist from Biden on Thursday, many Dems won’t be able to wait that long.

Polling margins in many high-profile races are narrowing in the wake of Romney’s epic debate performance. There is clearly nothing coming from the Obama campaign until next week, when he tries to undo his disastrous debate. So, it all settles on Biden. If he doesn’t clearly beat Ryan, Democrat candidates will likely try to strike out on their own path for November. At the end of the day, a political career trumps political parties.

There’s one theme that ties all of these posts together: if you’re posturing because you’re worried about locking down your base and propping up down ballot races in the middle of October – you’ve got big trouble. Add to that Stephanie Cutter’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day yesterday, along with the Most Powerful Man in the Free World clutching onto Big Bird like he’s Radar O’Reilly’s teddy bear — to the point where even Jon Stewart is worrying — and you’re seeing a collective bunker-time flight into fantasy. And no wonder Stewart is raising an eyebrow, as the administration’s embrace of a surreal TV icon seems eerily reminiscent of Congressional Democrats in 2010 asking Stewart’s colleague Stephen Colbert to pop in for a Congressional visit – a month before they lost their Congressional majority, at a time when they had to have had plenty of internal polling data to all know the thumpin’ was on its way. (The administration once again underbussing inconvenient segments of their base is also highly reminiscent of 2010, as I mentioned yesterday.)

Does that mean that Romney-Ryan has it in the bag? Absolutely. Not. (The cockiness – do not acquire it, to paraphrase our Insta-host’s frequent refrain.) But it does indicate all the signs of a base on the left that’s demoralized as hell. Ride right through ‘em, as Da Tech Guy would say.

OBSERVATION CAN BECOME AN INTERVENTION: Andrew Ferguson’s “Press Man” back page column at Commentary is always my first read when the new issue arrives each month. I believe his newest column is currently behind the subscriber paywall, but he makes a great observation in the excerpt below, beginning with a riff on the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle:

Heisenberg’s principle can be crudely generalized (it’s the best I can do) as follows: An observer can change the nature of a thing or an event merely through the act of observation. Observation all by itself can become an intervention. Heisenberg was describing how reality works at the level of quantum mechanics, where a wave becomes a particle and vice versa depending on how it’s being measured. But it applies, too, at the level of political journalism, where reality is even stranger. There, facts can become interpretations, interpretations can become facts, and events of no significance can achieve an earthshaking importance simply by virtue of being pawed over by a large number of journalists.

A typical journalist, if he’s any good, insists at least theoretically on the iron divide between observer and participant. At its best the press corps sees itself as a squadron of Red Cross workers, wandering among the combatants in a battle zone and ensuring their own safety with a claim of strict neutrality. The Heisenberg Principle of Journalism puts the lie to all that. You see it at work whenever a news anchor announces that “this story just refuses to go away” or a headline writer insists that “questions continue to be raised” about the conduct of one hapless public figure or another.

The story refuses to go away, of course, because the anchor and his colleagues won’t let it; and the questions that continue to be raised are being raised by the headline writer and his editors. Reporters create more news than anybody, just by pretending they’re watching it unfold.

And the reverse is true as well:

For decades, the establishment media has been in the tank for the left — to the point where Bill Clinton was paraphrased by the Washington Post in 2006 as saying, “There is an expectation among Democrats that establishment old media organizations are de facto allies.”

But both halves of the equation used to be better at going through the motions of pretending about the nation’s welfare.

Or to put it another way, as the Washington Examiner notes tonight in an editorial, “To believe Obama is to forget the last four years.” That’s what both the Obama Administration and their palace guard are hoping.

UPDATE: I’ve cross-posted, in slightly modified form, the above post at Ed Driscoll.com, if you want to comment on the Daily Caller’s video drop.

TONY WOODLIEF CRUNCHES THE NUMBERS:

The thing is, I didn’t know we’d all gotten together and decided to officially call this guy “the Prophet Muhammad.” I know that’s what he is to 2 billion or so Muslims, but that leaves around 5 billion of us who are undecided on the matter.

It seems to be the case, however, that major news outlets have begun using the honorific title far more frequently. I don’t think that’s very good journalistic practice. I mean, to 2.2 billion Christians, Jesus Christ is “Lord Jesus Christ”—but we don’t expect The Washington Post to call him that.

History demonstrates that violence is an effective tool, especially when directed toward people without strong beliefs of their own.

THE END OF RETAIL? Why The Future Of Shopping Doesn’t Need Workers.

This end of retail might have begun in 1997, the year the great jobs race was all tied up.

In that year, there were 14 million people working in retail, 14 million people working in the health & education super-sector, and 14 million people working in professional & business services. So, for a split second, there was virtual tie in the race within service jobs.

Fifteen years later, the tie-game has turned into a blow-out. Health care jobs grew by almost 50%. Professional/business services — a catch-all that includes such wide-ranging jobs as law, software engineering, and waste management — rode the roller-coaster of two recessions and wound up 4 million jobs biggers. And then there’s retail. In 15 years, retail added only 400,000 new workers, or 26,000 jobs a year. In the time that health/education jobs grew by 50%, retail grew by 0.2%. . . . Today, as Brad Stone and David Welch report in Bloomberg Businessweek, the future of retail looks like a wasteland. Even with stores like Circuit City out of business, it might be too late for even the survivors like Best Buy to have a sustained recovery.

Well, Best Buy can’t compete on service. Or, at least, it hasn’t tried. Meanwhile, some thoughts on an alternative approach.

UPDATE: Reader Sean-David Hubbard writes:

I’m finding more and more that I’m being let down by brick and mortar stores in terms of selection. I’m a big guy, 6’4, so finding clothes in my size is an exercise in frustration. A good portion of the clothes I wear now, I purchased off of Amazon. And just this morning, I was looking for a specific frozen food item (Chicken Tandoori with Spinach, in case anyone’s interested) in both Trader Joe’s and The Fresh Market and came up empty on both counts. It seems the the range of products available to the consumer are wider than ever, yet the brick and mortar stores only have so much self space. As a result more people are going to have to turn to Amazon, and similar online retailers to find what they’re looking for.

And reader Martin Murcek comments: “Well, it seems the Universe has a quota for disinterested – rude workers. As the need to interface with retail sales people fades, it seems the ‘can’t be bothered’ types smoothly transitioned to jobs in the healthcare sector. I anxiously await the day when everyone but my actual physician is a machine. At least I could forgive a drone for acting like – a drone.”

ANDREW BREITBART HAS DIED. “Andrew lived boldly, so that we more timid souls would dare to live freely and fully, and fight for the fragile liberty he showed us how to love.” (Bumped).

UPDATE: A Whirlwind Dies.

Plus this:

ANOTHER UPDATE: Matt Yglesias shows his true colors, along with a lot of other people. Schmuck.

Related: Twitter Hate: The Left’s Breitbart Memorial. Retweet all the nasty stuff they say — it’s what Andrew would have wanted. He liked to expose these people for who they were, rather than who they pretended to be. He continues to do that even in death.

And reader Jonathan Rubinstein writes: “The outpouring of ghoulish and sophmoric hatred at the death of Andrew Breitbart is a warning to us all that the remaking of America is not a conversation over coffee in the late afternoon. The real struggles that are ahead have hardly begun. Politics is ruthless and the failed political class will not go quietly. The disgusting comments are not a tribute to the decline not of civility — there has never been much in America — but the complete disintegration of self-respect. We will engage, we will remake America, we will miss Breitbart but there will be many more joining the struggle.”

Plus, a very moving tribute from Greg Gutfeld.

And a nice remembrance from Josh Marshall.

MORE: Prof. Jacobson: “I’ve often wondered where to go with this blog. I now know.”

We Are All Andrew Breitbart Now.

An Army of Andrew Breitbarts?

Thoughts from Dan Riehl.

“The biggest mistake we can make at this juncture is to go back to waiting around for the next Whoever to ride in and save us. Because that’s a strategy full of FAIL.”

Christian Science Monitor: A “Happy Warrior.” “Taken as a whole, his short but brazen career as a journalistic pugilist dug at something deeper and uniquely American, friends said: that humor leavens, confrontation works, and free speech is worth making enemies over.”

Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone: “Good! Fuck him. I couldn’t be happier that he’s dead.”

Remember this stuff the next time one of these people tries to play the “Have you no decency?” card. As I said, even in death Andrew is exposing them.

YESTERDAY’S MENTION OF LASER SIGHTS produced this email from reader Scot Echols: “I used to work a couple of blocks from Crimson Trace. A coworker and I walked down one day to play with their laser grips, and one of the designers told us that they were learning from law enforcement agencies that they were shooting fewer people since switching to laser grips. It seems that being able to see the red dot on your chest causes criminals to make better choices in their own best interest. Fascinating concept.” That would make sense.

UPDATE: Reader Matt Murphy writes:

Hi Glenn. I’m a former infantry Marine who spent several years as a security contractor in Iraq after getting out. I’m currently an executive protection specialist and new competitive shooter. I’ve spent a lot of time around firearms. I think of this every time you mention Crimson Trace, but few if any experienced shooters use them. What I’ve witnessed on the rare occasions I’ve seen them in “the wild” is poor shooters using them as a crutch rather than applying the fundamentals of marksmanship. Specifically, they will watch the “dot” on the target instead of using the sights with proper grip, stance, sight alignment etc. This makes it very difficult to stay on target, and you will see people “chasing the dot” around and jerking the trigger when the dot is where they want it to be. While Crimson Trace may have a place somewhere, there are no shortcuts to competence with firearms and gadgets are no substitute for training and proper technique.

That’s certainly true. As a late adopter, I have many years of establishing habits about sight pictures, etc. I certainly think that people should acquire their skills first. On the other hand, in a home-defense situation, I think the laser sight is likely to be quite helpful, in addition to its intimidation benefits.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A female reader emails:

I wanted to comment on the discussion regarding marksmanship and laser sights. I am a middle aged female that has been carrying concealed in Washington state for over 20 years. My first gun was a Taurus .38 revolver purchased 20 years ago. Last year, my partner gave me a Ruger LCR .38 revolver with Crimson Trace laser (what a guy!). I have to say that is has not changed my shooting style, however, getting that red dot in the right place in relation to the sights for an accurate shot is so much easier on the eyes – especially if you are at the range shooting for any length of time. I don’t know whether its aging eyes, the low light of most shooting ranges, or the shortcomings of progressive lenses or contacts…but I always found myself squinting and peering at the sights on my Taurus – not so with the Ruger. While the Ruger is a more comfortable gun all around, my accuracy, at least at the range, is much improved with the laser.

Good point.

AND IT SEEMS TO BE WORKING: Law-Abiding Mexicans Taking Up Illegal Guns.

In Mexico, where criminals are armed to the teeth with high-powered weapons smuggled from the United States, it may come as a surprise that the country has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the world.

Law-abiding Mexicans who want a gun to defend themselves have no good options. Either they fight government red tape to get a legal permit, or they buy one on the black market.

After an outbreak of violence, one embattled community in northern Mexico called Colonia LeBaron has begun to ask if it’s time for the country to address its gun laws. . . .

The cold-blooded murders of Benjamin LeBaron and Luis Widmar galvanized the community, Julian LeBaron says. It prompted them to take a stance that is familiar to Second Amendment advocates in the U.S., but one that is taboo in Mexico.

“I think there would be less violence if there were more guns, in the sense that I could barge in here and do whatever I want, knowing that this guy doesn’t have a gun,” says Jose Widmar, the brother of slain Luis.

Today, if the gangsters return, the LeBaron colony is locked and loaded.

What’s really interesting is that the NPR coverage is surprisingly positive. And SayUncle comments: “Maybe ATF could walk some guns to the good guys?”

IN RESPONSE TO YESTERDAY’S POST ON SOUTHERN MANNERS, reader Jill Wildermuth writes:

As a recent (female) Yankee transplant to the south, I can’t speak of past southern manners, but I can speak of what I’ve seen and experienced since I’ve been here. It’s been nothing short of culture shock, in a wonderful way. I work in a retail store where it’s occasionally required of me to help customers out to their cars with heavy packages. I have no problem with this, but I have yet to seen a man let me take the heavier box, and if I try to, they won’t let me. My male co-workers won’t curse in front of me, or even discuss “inappropriate” subjects without first saying “excuse my language” or “pardon me for this”. I routinely have customers tell me not to worry about helping them with heavy packages, and that I should make the guys carry them. I’m called “ma’am”! (And occasionally, “darlin'”, which is also perfectly acceptable.) I’m treated like a lady wherever I go, not just another random customer. I rarely have to open a door for myself, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been offered assistance to my car when my arms are full after grocery shopping, from both men and women alike.

And the women are no less polite and warm-hearted. They’re happy to have a quick chat or offer an opinion on something if asked by a random stranger. They’ll politely catch your attention if you’re dropped a penny or a piece of paper from your purse to return it. They seem to have a big, wide, authentic smile and a kind word for everyone. They say “Please” and “thank you”, and mean it. And most shockingly, those mothers who bring their young children with them into the stores actually discipline them to make them behave, and will even apologize to the employees if their kids are being unruly.

I’m amazed and grateful for a culture that teaches such manners. If this is a decline in southern manners, then I can only imagine what they were like at their peak.

Shh. Don’t tell anyone. Stories like that one from the NYT are plants, designed to discourage immigration from the North.

UPDATE: Reader Bruce Webster writes: “I’ve lived in Texas twice — two years in Houston (1979-81), and 18 months in Dallas (1998-99). The phenomenon is real. There is a cultural graciousness that permeates all ages. It doesn’t mean there aren’t jerks there (though I suspect a lot of them are transplants), but it does mean that there are genuine good manners everywhere. I think it’s the guns. :-) ..Bruce.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Kevin Menard writes: “As a long term (30+) transplant, will you stop this? We got too many Californians and New Yorkers here already. Austin is damned near unlivable with them. Tell the truth: Lynchings! Religious Fanatics with guns! Mexican gangs! Asian gang wars! Deliverance is real. They shoot your pets, there are no dentists, and no one can read. Yankees are targeted for abuse and mistreatment; their cars get stolen and their children kidnapped. Californians are hunted in a 50 week long season. Fire ants, poisonous snakes, large hairy spiders, coyotes that eat your poodle, wild hogs that eat your cats! Lots of biting bugs…. Stay home where it’s safe!!!”

THINGS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED OVER THE WEEKEND, if you were out having a life or something:

Busting Obama’s “Anti-Gay” Demagoguery.

Gunwalker Under White House Control? New documents reveal extensive White House communication with the ATF head behind the scandal.

Thoughts on amending the Constitution in my Sunday Washington Examiner column.

Ken Anderson on the legality of the Al-Awlaki killing. Plus thoughts from Walter Russell Mead, Stephen L. Carter, and Richard Miniter. And Professor Bainbridge mocks some hypocrites.

John Hinderaker: Peppered In NYC. “One can only assume that this kind of police abuse has been going on for a long time, but was not often revealed–at least, not this starkly–before the era of ubiquitous digital photography and video. But the days are gone when a policeman can wantonly assault protesters, no matter how obnoxious they may be–let alone photographers. That’s a good thing.”

How’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya? The Forever Recession.

What do you call people who are obsessed with Chris Christie’s weight as a disqualification for the Presidency? Why, “girthers,” of course!

The latest crime wave: Sending your child to a better school. Plus, a tree grows in Scottsdale. [I see what you did there — ed. Of course you do.]

Poll: Obama Cratering In Swing States.

DARPA’S 100-year starship.

A Sicilian explains what’s really behind the Wall Street protests.

I’m guessing not: Will Morgan Freeman answer Ali Akbar?

Plus, for all the “pass the bill” talk, Obama’s Jobs Bill Still Has No Cosponsors, in either the House or the Senate. Perhaps some enterprising journalist should call House and Senate Democrats and ask them why they’re not cosponsoring the President’s bill!

LOW RATES, No Interest: “A major problem, of course, is that current low interest rates are a result of falling confidence in the economic outlook. It’s cheaper than ever to borrow, but that’s because no one wants to borrow.” How’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya?

UPDATE: Reader Kevin Ryan emails:

I think one underappreciated factor is the difficulty buyers are having in taking advantage of those rates. Anecdotally, at least, it remains extremely difficult to get a loan, even for well-qualified borrowers. Banks are no doubt gun-shy given their weaknesses and recent experience, but an increased regulatory burden also seems to be an issue.

I’m a case in point. I haven’t had any W-2 income (except from a part-time National Guard gig which ended with my retirement at 30 years’ service) for years, and last year when I was buying the current Hog Manor, mortgage underwriters were alarmed by this. For two decades my principal income has been on 1099s (consulting returns), K-1s (partnership returns), and from investments (also reported, mostly, on 1099s). My income has been high but variable — I was living by my wits, but living well, before it was cool. I had $2million plus in cash and zero debts — I paid for college and grad school as I went, and didn’t borrow a dime. I run a credit card (one) for travel, but pay it off every month.

I’m an ideal borrower, right? The guy who doesn’t need the loan?

Apparently not. I had no credit score (not a low credit score, NO credit score, like a newborn baby. I’m 53!). After months of messing around with underwriters, I simply cut a check for the house.Didn’t do my nonexistent credit score any good but put a roof over my head. The divorced couple I bought from were delighted to get the check, as were all the realtors involved. (listing broker, my buyers’ agent). The bankers didn’t care about the lost mortgage opportunity — they get paid the same whether they lend or not; with the long-needed demise of the brokers who were paid for originating paper without respect to quality, we now have misaligned incentives in the other direction. “The pendulum done swung.” My price was about $340k below the peak appraisal. I expect the house is now worth $100k less than I paid, but it’s a good “machine for living” so I am happy.

Funny thing: who is more likely to be in a position to make his payments five years from now, the 1099 flexible-career dude, or the guy with a W-2 from GM or some green-jobs boondoggle? If you can answer that, you are overqualified to work in banking. But we knew that.

I ride my bike around town and could show anyone properties that I looked at in 2009 and 2010 that are still for sale. Some of those had been on the market for two years already. The market is not clearing; other, empty properties are going unlisted because they are so far underwater, and/or listings are saturated.

One question: what happens to the people who haven’t saved a couple of million, or haven’t earned it in the first place? A lot more of them than there are of me.

I’m sure.

SCOTT JOHNSON: Someone Is Putting Words In Jen Rubin’s Mouth. “The Washington Post management doesn’t seem to get it. One James Fallows — he who made light of earthquakes in China and never offered a word of apology for his screwy defamation of conservatives in the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords — and a swarm of foul-mouthed and openly anti-Semitic tweeters have raised a ruckus over a Washington Post/Right Turn post in which Jennifer Rubin speculated that there might have been an al Qaeda connection in the Norwegian terrorist attacks.”

Related item here. I guess when Glenn Greenwald does it, it’s different.

And yeah, we’ve never seen much of an apology for the blood libels revolving around Jared Loughner, have we?

UPDATE: God and Oslo:

In the Arkansas army shootings and the Ft. Hood shooting and a host of others, the media and the left have sought to downplay any possible connection to Islam the attackers or would be attackers have had. And when those of us on the right have pointed it out, we’ve been accused of racism and those on the left have demanded to know why it even mattered.

Contrast that with the coverage of the Oslo shooter and already the New York Times is making sure in its first few paragraphs everyone knows the guy described himself on Facebook as a “conservative Christian.”

That’s because they don’t want to encourage prejudice against Muslims.

MORE: Kook Lefty Bloggers Say Sarah Palin, The Right, Caused the Norway Massacres. Well, to be fair, everything is Sarah Palin’s fault.

And some related thoughts here.

MORE STILL: Prof. Jacobson: My Challenge To Charles Lemos. Well, Jacobson, you did rely on the New York Times . . . .

Related: “It’s tempting to say that the Democrats have gotten lazy of late, but I don’t think that’s why their attacks have been so clumsy. They’re afraid (and for good reason) and that fear has made them sloppy and desperate.”

STILL MORE: Ed Driscoll looks on the bright side: At last, one man’s terrorist is no longer another’s freedom fighter!

Plus, Jeffrey Goldberg:

The question arises, then, why did Jennifer Rubin make this outrageous assertion about jihadism and Norway?

Well, perhaps it was because she was reading the Atlantic. Shortly after the bombing in Oslo, the Atlantic re-posted on its home page a very interesting piece from last year by Thomas Hegghammer and Dominic Tierney entitled “Why Does al Qaeda Have a Problem With Norway?” You can read it here. In the piece, Hegghammer and Tierney discuss why Norway, against all odds, has become a favored target of al Qaeda. They give several reasons, among them fallout from the Danish cartoon crisis, and Norway’s participation in the war in Afghanistan. And then they bring up a third possibility: The presence in Norway of the aforementioned Mullah Krekar.

Read the whole thing, especially if you’re, say, James Fallows.

AND MORE STILL: Reader Bill McLane writes:

I noted the disparity between the FT. Hood killer and the current one in the Times’ coverage. Blaring headline level. And jumping right in to link the nut-case killer to the “right wing,” and we know who they are, both in Europe and at home.

There is a wonderful book, The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism, by Pascal Bruckner. He examines just about every ramification of this tendency (what Hitchens in a blurb to the book calls this “morbid addiction to self blame”) to condemn the West while glossing over the real, much more serious threats to civilization. And can you believe it?–The book was written first in French. The English translation came out last year.

Yes, I have a copy.

Plus, why so much racism against blond Norwegians?

KEVIN WILLIAMSON ON THE DEBT: The Democrat Downgrade: Reality and Repercussions.

Question: How many U.S. banks and insurance companies do you think will remain rated AAA if the U.S. government gets downgraded?

That is not a rhetorical question.

The direct consequences of a downgrade of Uncle Sam’s credit on U.S. public finances would be pretty bad. But, as with natural disasters, the aftershocks of this man-made catastrophe might prove more devastating than the main event. In this case, imagine a tsunami of rolling corporate downgrades following the earthquake of a Treasury downgrade, a run on the banks, a discredited FDIC, frozen money-market funds, and a plunging dollar.

It’s not Beijing that’s going to take it in the shorts — it’s our still-fragile financial system.

Standard & Poor currently gives AAA ratings to six major insurance companies: New York Life, Northwestern Mutual, etc. Those companies already are on the watch-list for a downgrade, simply because of their extensive holdings of U.S. Treasury securities — regardless of the fact that Treasuries themselves have not yet been downgraded. . . . The thing that has not been sufficiently understood, I think, is this: The United States is not on a downgrade watch because the markets fear we won’t raise the debt ceiling in time to avoid a default; the United States is on a downgrade watch because the markets believe the debt-ceiling debate presents the last real opportunity for the government to enact a meaningful fiscal-reform program before it is well and truly too late to avoid a national crisis. The credit agencies, wisely or not, aren’t worried about the short-term political fight leading to an immediate default, but about the near- to medium-term fiscal situation, which is plainly unsustainable.

Read the whole thing. And note that some ratings agencies have already downgraded the U.S.:

Credit rating agency Egan-Jones has cut the United States’ top credit ranking, citing concerns over the country’s high debt load and the difficulty the government faces in significantly reducing spending.

The agency said the action, which cut U.S. sovereign debt to the second-highest rating, was not based on fears over the country not raising its debt ceiling.

Instead, the cut is due the U.S. debt load standing at more than 100 percent of its gross domestic product. This compares with Canada, for example, which has a debt-to-GDP ratio of 35 percent, Egan-Jones said in a report sent on Saturday.

You have been warned. Meanwhile, reader Michael McFatter writes with a troubling thought:

I’m worried. See if you follow my concern. Thus far the Democrats have proved intractable on these negotiations. But more than that, they seem to be living in denial as regards the national debt and more importantly the deficits. Right now we’re projecting deficits of 1.5 trillion every year for the next ten years. But those projections are based on growth rates of something like 3 – 3.5% from 2013 onwards. Which is unrealistic when you consider the current debt load plus piling on 1.5T more every year. It’s obvious that these projections are pure fantasy. They’re in denial about Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid sustainability and about Obamacare. They genuinely believed O-care was going to “bend the cost curve”! It’s ridiculous.

Now, we all know this. None of this is new information. What has me worried is the idea that the Democrats ACTUALLY DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS IS THE END OF THE ROAD. What if they actually aren’t capable of recognizing when they’ve lost? Or when we’ve run out of other people’s money? None of these people work for a living. Their concept of where money comes from and how wealth is created (and destroyed) is completely divorced from reality because they live in a government bubble. And the very small minority among them that do understand this from previous jobs and experience are okay with Progressive policies aimed at leveling/equalizing/delivering-economic-justice because they just assume that the economy can handle some siphoning. And usually it can. But not at this volume or for this time scale.

Here’s the position I think we may be in. We’ve been negotiating with the President and The Democrats in Congress on the assumption that they’re sane. It’s okay to play hardball with these guys because eventually, whether they like it or not, reality insists upon itself and they have to cave. It’s a painful process so you expect some tantrum throwing and caterwauling, but eventually they HAVE to accept reality. Except if they’re not sane. If they want five apples and there’s only two plus two but they CAN’T ACCEPT that two plus two equals four. Orwell wasn’t just writing a parable about the eventual end point of IngSoc. He was describing what human psychology can drive Ministers to inflict upon the populace for the sake of “justice”. I’m worried they’ll pull the trigger on default as just one more “political” step in the march towards freedom from want or whatever other principle they’re operating under. They’re playing this game as if they could win, as if taxes in a downturn are a good idea with benign consequences. As if debt equivalent to GDP is survivable for the world’s anchor economy/currency, let alone sustainable.

And so maybe, just maybe, Republican strategy (what little there is of it) has badly misread the opposition. Obama tried to add 400 billion in taxes to a deal he had already agreed with Boehner at the last minute. Boehner walks out cause Obama is negotiating in bad faith and has been all along, but what if Obama is actually incapable of good faith negotiation? I think right now that it’s actually possible we won’t see a deal at all. Because the Republicans are looking at the math and at reality and saying “Okay, Democrat demands can’t be serious because they can’t possibly work” and Democrats are looking at politics and how it works and saying “We don’t have to give in cause that’s not how you win these things. You pin it on the other guy politically and then reap the political dividends.” I wasn’t around for the start of WWI, but I get the feeling I understand Kennedy’s fascination with Tuchman’s Guns of August. I’m not talking about a shooting war, but about leaders overestimating and underestimating and just plain misjudging each other in a brinksmanship scenario. In short, it could be too late to do anything when people finally wake up. The crisis may have already arrived with an economic and fiscal momentum all it’s own that no amount of dealing or compromise or statesmanship can stop..

Actually, Tuchman’s The March Of Folly seems equally applicable. Or maybe you just want to skip Tuchman and go straight to Dave Voda’s How To Protect Your Money From The Coming Government Hyperinflation. . . .

UPDATE: Jim Bennett emails: “What problem? All they have to do is find Scrooge McDuck’s money bin and haul it away in trucks to the Treasury, and that fixes everything. Except that they haven’t been able to find it yet. But it’s there, it really is.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Warren Bonesteel writes:

“The crisis may have already arrived with an economic and fiscal momentum all it’s own that no amount of dealing or compromise or statesmanship can stop”
Sorry, but its too late. We’re already there. Embrace the doom. The ‘crisis’ has already arrived. …but no one wants to admit it. That’s the real insanity of the situation. Were it a house fire? The fire has already engulfed the building. There’s nothing left to save. We must begin anew, from scratch.

People keep looking for a magical solution or for a ‘saviour’ or a hero. We’re it, I’m afraid…and no one else is going to show up and magically save us from our own folly. Even a decade ago, it was too late. Twenty or thirty years ago? Yeah, we could’ve changed our trajectory and altered the outcome. Now, it is simply too late. Stock upon the beans, bullets and band-aids and get to know your local prepper/survivalist.

I hope that’s wrong.

MAYBE THIS IS WHY COPS DON’T LIKE PEOPLE TAKING PHOTOS: “Not only does this Seattle police car appear to be parked more than 12 inches from the curb, its officers carelessly left this AR-15 rifle sitting on the trunk of the car while they ate donuts or drank gourmet coffee or whatever it is Seattle cops do . . . Police officials now say they are ‘very embarrassed’ over the incident, adding that they are not sure if the gun was loaded, which means it probably was.”

And people need to read Morgan Manning’s piece on photographers’ rights.

UPDATE: Reader Phil Dean writes:

Since you linked this incident and connected it with Morgan Manning’s piece, I think it’s only fair to point out that the photographer here was not charged, harrassed, or anything like it. In fact, the SPD expressed GRATITUDE to the person, who flagged down other officers and brought it to their attention.

Lots of creepy gratuitous cop-hate in the comments at Pixiq, though, including a guy who expressed outrage that a female officer placed her car behind him with the lights going while he was changing his tire on the side of the road.

Good point.

ANTI-GUNS-ON-CAMPUS BLOWBACK: You know, I raised this issue with a Faculty Senate colleague and was dismissed, but here it is: “Gun owners should remember this vote when UT comes whining back to legislature to beg, cajole and whine for more money.” I think too many faculty have their backs up over budget issues — and the legislature going Republican — and have chosen this as an issue to push back with. If gun owners care, that will be a big mistake. if they don’t care, well. . . that’s a bad sign in a different way.

UPDATE: For what it’s worth, the bill’s favored almost 2-1 in this online poll from the News-Sentinel.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s the news story that the poll accompanies.

MORE: Here’s a letter that was circulated to the faculty today.

Open Letter to UTK Faculty, Staff and Students,

The Tennessee state legislature is considering legislation that would
decriminalize the carrying of concealed weapons on state university campuses
by individuals who have Handgun Carry Permits. The UTK faculty senate,
administration, campus police, and student government association have gone
on record as opposing this legislative change.

Since emotional arguments may have more weight for opponents of permitting
responsible adults to legally carry weapons on college campuses, let me
relate that I was on the faculty at Virginia Tech for 25 years and I still
have many friends and colleagues there. However, one less colleague is alive
today because a deranged student shot him and 32 others dead. I don’t know
how many of these people might be alive today if just one of the several
hundred people locked in Norris Hall had a weapon, but I do know that all of
these people had a right to life and a right to defend it. This right,
however, was usurped by laws designed to disarm law abiding students and
faculty. The proposed legislation would formally reinstate that inalienable
right of self defense to imagined ivory towers of Tennessee higher education.

The deranged student at Virginia Tech brought weapons onto campus with the
express intent to commit murder. Having made this decision, I am sure he was
not overly concerned about breaking the law by illegally carrying weapons on
campus. For the record, the student did not hold a handgun carry permit.
It seems to me that a great many involved in higher education, who
notionally profess to hold reason and scientific method as high ideals,
abandon logic and reason in favor of emotion when the subject of guns arises.

For those who claim to have an open mind, I ask that you consider the
following:

Only Licensed, Legally-Armed Citizens Would Carry

Current Tennessee law requires a minimum age of 21, a comprehensive FBI
criminal background check, fingerprints, classroom instruction and live-fire
certification to receive a Handgun Carry Permit. Consequently, legally-armed
citizens already have training and experience with firearms, and have
demonstrated responsibility. Holders of concealed carry permits in the U.S.
are arrested for violent crimes at a rate five times lower than non-license
holders (even lower than police officers in many states).

Whether or not you support concealed carry, it’s already an existing right
in Tennessee and most other states. Under current law, armed citizens can
carry a concealed weapon into literally thousands of places throughout their
state, including movie theaters, restaurants, banks, shopping malls,
churches and grocery stores, and have done so responsibly for years. In view
of this, prohibiting these same responsible individuals from carrying a
concealed weapon on a college campus doesn’t make sense.

“Gun-Free Zones” Don’t Work

History is clear. Stickers on campus doors saying “no guns allowed” don’t
stop criminal offenders. In fact, no law will ever affect criminal behavior
because criminals, by their very nature, do not follow the law. What these
signs actually do is create (and advertise!) a defense-free zone, removing
legal guns and forcibly disarming victims. This is exactly what makes
colleges most attractive to killers who seek easy targets.

Killers don’t take time to register their firearms or obtain permits for
their murder weapons. Virginia Tech and a host of other college shootings
demonstrate that. Responsible individuals carrying legal weapons on campus
are the very ones that could make a difference in a hostile situation.

The Net Effect is Positive

Many students state they would not feel safe if concealed carry were
allowed. However, concealed carry at Virginia Tech was blocked with the
specific goal of “feeling safe.” On April 16, 2007, it became clear that
feeling safe isn’t the same as being safe.

In reality, more than 70 college campuses currently allow concealed carry on
campus, including all public universities in Utah and multiple college
campuses in Colorado. According to crime statistics and inquiries to campus
officials, there hasn’t been a single reported instance of shootouts,
accidents or heated confrontations resulting from concealed carry on campus.
In fact, Colorado State University’s crime rate has declined steadily since
allowing concealed carry. While no one can irrefutably claim this is due to
concealed carry, we can at least state with certainty that allowing
concealed carry does not increase risks to a campus population and may even
help.

Everyone deserves protection

Opponents of concealed carry on campuses frequently point out that colleges
are safer than cities and urban environments. However, crime rates on
college campuses have risen in recent years, and statistics show that,
nationwide, there are nine sexual assaults reported on college campuses each
day. Furthermore, the low probability of becoming a victim doesn’t help the
47 victims at Virginia Tech, or the 27 victims at Northern Illinois
University, or any of the other countless victims of crimes on campuses.
Current policies give such victims the option of playing dead or huddling
under desks.

Colleges can’t protect students

Campus officials have introduced multiple responses to the problem of campus
crime — all of which are reactionary. Campus police, text message alerts and
cameras are all good ideas that demonstrate an awareness of the problem. But
awareness is not the same as readiness; text messages are ineffective,
police are often thinly-spread across vast campus grounds and cameras will
do nothing more than capture footage for the nightly news. The fact remains
that colleges are open environments with invisible boundaries and little to
no secure prevention measures. They cannot guarantee protection to students
or prevention of armed assaults. In all honesty, it’s not fair to expect
them to. It’s completely impractical to expect colleges to provide
airport-grade security with a secure perimeter, metal detectors, armed
guards, bag inspections and pat-downs. Even if they could, few people want
the nature of a college campus changed so radically.

Therefore, any institution that cannot provide for protection for its
visitors must not deprive those visitors of the ability to protect themselves.

Common Arguments Made by Opponents of Concealed Carry on Campuses

Argument: Guns on campus would lead to an escalation in violent crime.

Since the fall semester of 2006, state law has allowed licensed individuals
to carry concealed handguns on the campuses of the nine degree-offering
public colleges (20 campuses) and one public technical college (10 campuses)
in Utah. Concealed carry has been allowed at Colorado State University (Fort
Collins, CO) since 2003 and at Blue Ridge Community College (Weyers Cave,
VA) since 1995. After allowing concealed carry on campus for a combined
total of one hundred semesters, none of these twelve schools has seen a
single resulting incident of gun violence (including threats and suicides),
a single gun accident, or a single gun theft. Likewise, none of the forty
‘right-to-carry’ states has seen a resulting increase in gun violence since
legalizing concealed carry, despite the fact that licensed citizens in those
states regularly carry concealed handguns in places like office buildings,
movie theaters, grocery stores, shopping malls, restaurants, churches,
banks, etc. Numerous studies1,2,3, including studies by University of
Maryland senior research scientist John Lott, University of Georgia
professor David Mustard, engineering statistician William Sturdevant, and
various state agencies, show that concealed handgun license holders are five
times less likely than non-license holders to commit violent crimes.

Argument: Guns on campus would distract from the learning environment.

Ask anyone in a ‘right to carry’ state when he or she last noticed another
person carrying a concealed handgun. The word ‘concealed’ is there for a
reason. Concealed handguns would no more distract college students from
learning than they currently distract moviegoers from enjoying movies or
office workers from doing their jobs.

In most states with “shall issue” concealed carry laws, the rate of
concealed carry is about 1%. That means that one person out of 100 is
licensed to carry a concealed handgun. Therefore, statistically speaking, a
packed 300-seat movie theater contains three individuals legally carrying
concealed handguns, and a shopping mall crowded with 1,000 shoppers contains
ten individuals legally carrying concealed handguns. Students who aren’t
too afraid to attend movies or go shopping and who aren’t distracted from
learning by the knowledge that a classmate might be illegally carrying a
firearm shouldn’t be distracted from learning by the knowledge that a
classmate might be legally carrying a firearm.

Argument: Colleges are emotionally volatile environments. Allowing guns on
campus will turn classroom debates into crime scenes.

Before shall-issue concealed carry laws were passed throughout the United
States, opponents claimed that such laws would turn disputes over parking
spaces and traffic accidents into shootouts. This did not prove to be the
case. The same responsible adults—age twenty-one and above—now asking to be
allowed to carry their concealed handguns on college campuses are already
allowed to do so virtually everywhere else. They clearly do not let their
emotions get the better of them in other environments; therefore, no less
should be expected of them on college campuses.

Argument: In an active shooter scenario like the one that occurred at
Virginia Tech, a student or faculty member with a gun would only make things
worse.

What is worse than allowing an execution-style massacre to continue
uncontested? How could any action with the potential to stop or slow a
deranged killer intent on slaughtering victim after victim be considered
‘worse’ than allowing that killer to continue undeterred? Contrary to what
the movies might have us believe, most real-world shootouts last less than
ten seconds4. Even the real Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, a shootout
involving nine armed participants and a number of bystanders, lasted only
about thirty seconds and resulted in only three fatalities. It is unlikely
that an exchange of gunfire between an armed assailant and an armed citizen
would last more than a couple of seconds before one or both parties were
disabled. How could a couple of seconds of exchanged gunfire possibly be
worse than a ten-minute, execution-style massacre?

Argument: The job of defending campuses against violent attacks should be
left to the professionals.

Nobody is suggesting that concealed handgun license holders be charged with
the duty of protecting campuses. What is being suggested is that adults
with concealed handgun licenses be allowed to protect themselves on college
campuses, the same way they’re currently allowed to protect themselves in
most other unsecured locations. According to a U.S. Secret Service study5
into thirty-seven school shootings, ‘Over half of the attacks were
resolved/ended before law enforcement responded to the scene. In these
cases the attacker was stopped by faculty or fellow students, decided to
stop shooting on his own, or killed himself.’ The study found that only
three of the thirty-seven school shootings researched involved shots being
fired by law enforcement officers.

Argument: How are first responders supposed to tell the difference between
armed civilians and armed assailants?

This hasn’t been an issue with concealed handgun license holders in other
walks of life for several reasons. First and foremost, real-world shootouts
are typically localized and over very quickly. It’s not realistic to expect
police to encounter an ongoing shootout between assailants and armed
civilians. Second, police are trained to expect both armed bad guys AND
armed good guys—from off-duty/undercover police officers to armed
civilians—in tactical scenarios. Third, concealed handgun license holders
are trained to use their firearms for self-defense. They are not trained to
run through buildings looking for bad guys. Therefore, the biggest
distinction between the armed assailants and the armed civilians is that the
armed civilians would be hiding with the crowd, and the armed assailants
would be shooting at the crowd.

References

1″Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns,” John Lott and
David Mustard, Journal of Legal Studies (v.26, no.1, pages 1-68, January 1997);

2“An Analysis of the Arrest Rate of Texas Concealed Handgun License Holders
as Compared to the Arrest Rate of the Entire Texas Population,” William E.
Sturdevant, September 1, 2000; Florida Department of Justice statistics,
1998; Florida Department of State,
3“Concealed Weapons/Firearms License Statistical Report,” 1998; Texas
Department of Public Safety and the U.S. Census Bureau, reported in San
Antonio Express-News, September 2000; Texas Department of Corrections data,
1996-2000, compiled by the Texas State Rifle Association
4In “The Line of Fire: Violence Against Law Enforcement”, U.S. Department of
Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Institute of Justice, 1997
5“Safe School Initiative: An Interim Report on the Prevention of Targeted
Violence in Schools,” U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center
in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education with support from the
National Institute of Justice, Co-Directors Bryan Vossekuil, Marissa Reddy
PhD, Robert Fein PhD, October 2000

The foregoing issues and arguments were extracted with minor editing from
www.concealedcampus.org where additional relevant information and references
to research studies may be found.
Sincerely,

Jack C. Parker
Research Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Tennessee

I’m inclined to agree.

CIVIL RIGHTS UPDATE: Campus Carry Likely To Pass in Texas, Elsewhere; University Officials Unhappy. Relax guys. Those people may not seem like your kind, but they’re not as threatening to your way of life as you think. Your worries that this will “change the culture” will soon seem bigoted and out of place as the integration process proceeds.

Is it just me, or is the notion that guns are especially dangerous on university campuses because they’re lawless and full of alcohol and drugs one of those arguments that “proves too much?” If campuses are really that bad, isn’t the problem, you know, bigger than just whether someone with a permit has a gun there?

UPDATE: Two further points. First the reporting at Inside Higher Ed is usually good, but this story is extremely one-sided, reading like a press release for the anti-campus-carry folks. Second, the university administrators here don’t do anything to further a reputation for critical thinking, since they keep stressing the danger of 18-year-olds carrying guns when, as is pointed out repeatedly in the comments, the permits are only available to those 21 and over. Credentialed, not educated . . . .

DAN BAUM IN THE HUFFINGTON POST: After Tucson: Stricter Gun Laws Aren’t the Answer.

Gun control not only does no practical good, it actively causes harm. It may be hard to show that it saves lives, but it’s easy to demonstrate that we’ve sacrificed a generation of progress on things like health care, women’s rights, immigration reform, income fairness, and climate change because we keep messing with people’s guns. I am researching a book on Americans’ relationship to their guns, and keep meeting working-stiff gun guys — people whose wages haven’t risen since 1978 and should be natural Democrats — who won’t even listen to the blue team because they’re convinced Democrats want to take away their guns. Misguided? Maybe. But that’s democracy for you. It’s helpful to think of gun control as akin to marijuana prohibition — useless for almost everything except turning otherwise law-abiding people into criminals and fomenting cynicism and resentment. All the talk of a new large-magazine ban hits gun guys’ ears like liberals using this disaster to trim back gun rights a little. It reinforces the toxic narrative that the Democrats are the enemy of regular guys, which is the last thing we need right now.

Well, the toxic narrative is pretty much true, but this is a good piece.

UPDATE: Reader Jim Hogue on the “toxic narrative:”

Older white males are the enemy of every TV show, commercial, and the Democrat party.

We got the memo they sent decades ago.

Sorry Dan. Too little, too late.

Ouch.

SO YESTERDAY’S POST ON LOW-BUDGET DISASTER PREP has produced still more email. Mostly it’s suggestions for what more people can do. That, of course, goes all the way up to a custom bomb-shelter / retreat in the mountains somewhere. But for most people, resources are limited. What are some things you can do that go beyond just keeping some extra groceries and bottled water? But not too far beyond?

You can keep a case or two of self-heating MREs around. They last a long time, they aren’t bad, and they’re more portable than canned foods if you have to leave home, but they don’t need separate water to prepare them like freeze-dried foods.

You might invest in a water filter, which will let you turn iffy water into drinkable water.

You should stock first-aid supplies and extra needed medications, in case you can’t get prescriptions refilled.

You might want some sort of backup power, ranging from a big uninterruptible power supply (keeps laptops and internet going for a long time, recharges cellphones, etc.) to a generator. Generators take annoying degrees of maintenance; a UPS can back up your computer or modem/wireless router until needed for more. But they put out a lot less power than a generator, and won’t keep your freezer from thawing. But generators cross the line into “more serious” as opposed to “slightly serious” preparedness, which is what this post is about.

Some additional source of heat. If you have a gas fireplace, make sure you know how to start it without an electric igniter. If you have a woodburning fireplace or stove, make sure you have plenty of wood, and matches and kindling, etc. (Woodburning fireplaces aren’t much good for heat, really; stoves on the other hand put out a lot). A backup kerosene or propane heater is good, too. Propane is easier to store than kerosene, and there are some propane heaters that are supposed to be safe for indoor use — though I’d invest in a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector to go with any kind of backup indoor heat. Also, extra blankets. And wool socks! Maybe even a Snuggie or two. In case the power goes out in the summer, make sure you have screens on your windows so that you can open them without filling your house with bugs. A small battery-powered fan is nice, too — clip it on to the headboard of your bed and it’ll be easier to sleep on a sticky night. Keep plenty of batteries, too.

Backup lamps and lanterns. One nice thing I have are plug-in nightlights that turn on when the power goes off, so that stairs, etc., remain navigable. I have them at the top and bottom of stairs, and in parts of the house that would be really dark if the power went off. They double as flashlights. These look good, too.

A list of phone numbers for family, friends, neighbors, and various services — plumbers, doctors, etc. — that you won’t be able to look up on the Internet if the power’s out.

A shovel, a crowbar, a water shutoff tool that fits your hookup — make sure you know that it works, how to use it, and where your hookup is in advance — and other simple tools.

A couple of tarps. During the Great Water Incident of a couple of years ago, one of these saved my basement carpet when water started coming out of the ceiling. . . .

Duct tape, duct tape, duct tape. And extra plastic garbage bags. Very versatile.

Any other reader suggestions for things that don’t cost too much, but would take disaster-prep up a level from yesterday’s post?

UPDATE: Reader Thomas Leahy writes: “Don’t forget a little extra food for the pets.” Good point.

Reader Peter Gookins emails:

This goes a bit beyond “prep on the cheap,” but you asked…

Generators-most people get one that’s much bigger than they actually need. Back north, I needed a large 240 volt generator (Honda ES 6500) to power the well pump, fridge and freezer when power went out (“locked rotor current,” which is the technical name for the high amperage required to start an electric motor from rest, on a 1 HP deep well pump is a LOT higher than the 8-12 amps (which, at 240 volts, is 1/2 the amperage it would be at 120; figure starting draw on most motors will be about 4X-5X running current; the 6500 puts out 52 amps and at pump start you could tell it picker up a lot of load) it takes to run the pump, and don’t forget that some stuff – like most -but not all- deep well pumps – are 240 volt only); here in Florida I’m on county water. During the 2004 hurricanes I loaned the big one to a neighbor, and it wound up feeding three houses for refrigerators, fans and TVs. I ran off a portable 120 volt 3K watt portable Honda RV generator (EU 3000) just fine, which powered the fridge, fans, lights and and a window AC at night for sleeping. Since then I’ve picked up a 2K watt Honda to use as “an infinite extension cord” at the gun club – it’ll power ONE saw, or a couple of floodlights and a fan, run cordless drill battery chargers, etc, and it weights 47 lbs. so it’s portable. Turns out it will run my fridge, some lights and a fan OR my window AC and some lights, all on less gas than the 3K watt Honda used. The fuel tank is small, but the RV crowd has solutions for that, just Google “EU2000+fuel tank.” And, Honda sells kits (but it’s cheaper to make your own) that allow tying two EU2000s together to get 3200 watts at 120 volts (about 26 amps) steady output. RVers do it all the time.

Remember, the smaller the generator the less fuel it uses. You can get aftermarket propane conversion kits for the Hondas, which I’ve considered doing with the 6500 when I move back north next year, because even with wheels under it it’s not very portable. I haven’t considered doing it with the 3K or the 2000 because having to drag around a propane tank reduces the portability, but if one expected a semi-stationary use, a propane conversion kit and a couple of 70 lb propane tanks would be a good investment. If I were staying in Florida I’d convert from electric water heater to propane tankless, and replace the electric range with a dual-fuel range, and stick a 250 gallon propane tank in the back corner of the yard. All the propane dealers here brag about how their trucks are propane-powered and they never missed a delivery during the hurricanes.

Speaking of well pumps…there is a great advantage to replacing the small well tank ( about 3.5 gallon draw down – one flush with old style toilets, so your pump is starting up a lot) builders always put in because it’s cheap with multiple large tanks. Well-X-Trol makes one that has a 46 gallon draw down from full before the pump needs to start and refill it. I put in two back north; in daily use the pump starts fewer times and runs longer, which extends its life, and when the power went out I ran the pump on generator until the tanks were full, which gave us 92 gallons before we needed the pump again. With water saving shower heads and minimal flushing we could get through an entire day (BTW, with a little judicious circuit breaker adjusting, one can power only one of the heating elements in an electric water heater with one’s generator, preferably the bottom element; takes a little while, but in 30 minutes or so you have a tank full of hot water. Check what wattage the elements are and replace the bottom one with a 4500 watt or 3800 watt (assuming the original is a 5500 watt) to ease the load on the generator. During normal use you won’t notice the difference.

If I were building my house from scratch, I’d consider putting in an underground propane tank and running everything off propane instead of natural gas, with a propane-powered generator thrown into the mix. A couple of deliveries a year and you’re semi self-sufficient.

Reader Anthony Swenson writes with a low-budget point that’s more in the spirit I meant for this post:

One of the cheapest things you can do – it won’t cost you anything but a nice smell in your laundry – is to make sure you always buy plain, unscented, unflavored chlorine bleach.

“In an emergency, think of this (one gallon of Regular Clorox Bleach) as 3,800 gallons of drinking water.”

Yeah, bleach is good for sanitizing stuff, too. I keep extra around — but it’s harder and harder to find plain old Clorox bleach anymore amid all the scented, splash-resistant, etc. stuff on the shelf. Read the label carefully. . . .

UPDATE: Reader Henry Bowman writes:

Another item to consider if you have a hybrid vehicle: a large inverter. I read an article a couple of years ago about a fellow in Connecticut who ran many of his electric appliances in his house for three days off his Prius, with inverter. He claimed it cost him 5 gallons of fuel. Seems like an inexpensive backup, and one for which you don’t need to worry about starting often, as is the case with a portable generator.

My sister and brother-in-law, who live in the Houston vicinity, were without power for 13 days after Hurricane Ike. They have two Priuses: they could have used a couple of inverters.

A big inverter is a lot cheaper than a comparable generator, and probably safer, too. And you can use it to recharge your UPS. But the hybrid thing isn’t as easy as it sounds. The guy you mention modded his Prius, because the big honking battery that drives the electric motors doesn’t put out 12v DC, and the 12v power system that starts the motor in the Prius (or in my Highlander) is separate. So I’m not sure there’s any special benefit to having a hybrid unless it’s modified, but correct me if I’m missing something.

Speaking of cars, think about when you’re not at home. Reader Mike von Cannon writes:

A note about disaster kits: I work for the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office and starting the morning of Dec 26 our dispatch center was flooded with calls from tourists in rental cabins who were stranded and running out of food (it was even worse during the blizzard in 93, which also hit on a weekend), so even on vacation it would pay to buy extra in case we get more snow than you expect. many tourists who thought they’d be going home sunday were stranded til Wed or Thur.

Good advice. And you should travel with at least a bit of helpful stuff. I keep some emergency stuff in the back of the car — some food bars, water, a spare pair of shoes in case mine get nasty while changing a tire, etc., and assorted minor toiletries and hygiene products and, very important, a roll of toilet paper — which helps. (And if you can produce tampons in a pinch, you can be a hero to women everywhere.)

I use these food bars, because they stand up to the heat in the summer better and they’re not appetizing enough that people will snitch ’em just for a quick snack, and these water packets because they don’t burst if they freeze. Most of this stuff never gets used, but being stuck by the side of the road for an extended period just once makes it worth having.

Also: Some survival blankets, some basic tools, and a Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman. (Make sure it’s one with a can opener/bottle opener). And a roll of duct tape! I keep all of this in a small pack that takes up very little room in the back; there’s one in Helen’s car, too.

Reader Gary Saffer writes:

A couple of things that I didn’t notice in your disaster preparedness posts.

Chemical light sticks. A friend of mine suggested these for general use. They’re cheap, they provide enough light to move around, and they save batteries for more light intensive tasks. And of course, you can get them at Amazon.

Consider that under most circumstances, it’s going to be 48-72 hours before rescue or relief shows up. If you are planning for much longer periods of being off the grid, consider moving to a rural area where you can build you entire house around being off the grid for long periods of time.

Firearms. You don’t mention them, but everyone should have a means of self defense. The veneer of civilization is thin at the best of times, it vaporizes in a real emergency. The predators will be out fairly quickly because their disaster plan is to use your prepared material to survive on. They don’t know specifically who you are, but they’ll keep looking until they find someone who has the stuff they want. Or a firearm they want no part of.

Yeah, light sticks are cool, even if Joe Biden thinks they’re drug paraphernalia. The gun issue is a whole separate post, but a gun (or several) is important disaster-prep, but that moves beyond the “easy steps” focus of this post. And the rural retreat approach goes way beyond it.

Reader Tina Howard writes:

For those who actually have a landline: an old-fashioned, non-electric telephone that plugs into the phone jack & has the handset attached to the phone. Easy to identify because there is no electric cord with it. Our phone lines worked after 2003’s Hurricane Claudette but the cordless phones wouldn’t. Very cheap at Salvation Army Thrift shops.

In the same vein, keep the necessary cords to plug a computer directly into the phone modem, because the wireless router is also electric. We were able to get online and check weather and news reports, as well as make posts to update others.

Good advice. Yeah, an old-fashioned landline phone that uses line power is good to have. Cellphone batteries die. Phone company line power is more reliable than utility power. Some multi-handset wireless phone setups or answering machines have a handset at the base that still works when the power is out. (Mine does). Most don’t. You can also hook the base into a big UPS — they don’t draw much power so they’ll work for days that way if you do. Ditto your cable/DSL modem and wireless router.

Reader J.R. Ott writes:

Three lengths of sturdy rope,5/8 climbing rope,inexpensive clothesline type,for bundling up stuff,para chute chord,All three are handy for bug out 50′ min and a few short hunks.Each bundle of rope has a snap knife taped to it (about a dollar each from the paint dept) . . . . Lastly if folks can afford it a Westie dog or a Shepard,good alarm and a Westie will shred an attacker as they are very possessive Terriers and if the dogs women folk are attacked you would not believe how damaging the dog can be.

Dogs are good to have around. More advice on low-cost preparation here, from a reader.

I should also note that while having extra stuff is handy — if the roads are blocked, and you don’t have enough food, there’s not much you can do — it’s also important to have skills. Most of the survival books are aimed at somebody lost in the woods, but, again, a low-budget approach means being able to deal with home-based small-scale disasters. This book, When Duct Tape Just Isn’t Enough, is a good focus. My own skillset is nothing to brag about: I can do basic plumbing, electrical, and carpentry stuff, but I don’t really like it because I’m a perfectionist, but not skilled enough to make it perfect very fast so I get frustrated. (Plus, I’ve usually got an article I should be writing, or something) However, it suffices for quick-and-dirty solutions to problems like clogged or burst pipes, etc. Being able to deal with that sort of thing is a big leg-up, and that’s the kind of thing this book addresses.

FINALLY: Good advice from reader Spencer Reiss: Keep some cash around. Preferably in relatively small denominations: “The universal solvent–gets anything else you need. and no power, no phone=no ATM, no credit cards. Post-Andrew desperate Miamians were driving halfway to Orlando to get some (and in some areas systems were down for up to two weeks). Much easier/smarter to keep $1000 stashed somewhere.”

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN the good guys and the bad guys.

THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR JOHN MCCAIN, TANKS WOULD BE ROLLING THROUGH AFGHANISTAN: And they were right! “The U.S. military is sending a contingent of heavily armored battle tanks to Afghanistan for the first time in the nine-year war, defense officials said, a shift that signals a further escalation in the aggressive tactics that have been employed by American forces this fall to attack the Taliban.”

UPDATE: A reader emails:

Heavy battle tanks in Afghanistan?

I am pretty worried about this development. It seems that we are following the Russian plan. That turned out well. Are we sure we aren’t just putting valuable ( and expensive ) targets into the fight so the Taliban can get some propaganda points? The loss of helicopters is bad enough, but at least they also represent a mobile mountain hopping capability. A burned out tank covered with “freedom fighters” creates a different PR visual.

Is Obama turning into LBJ? Is he trying to recreate the Vietnam experience? Is this part of the vaunted “Smart Diplomacy” we were promised?

I want to back our troops 110%, but the first step is a great plan. I hope this is part of one. I don’t really trust the political cats we’ve got right now.

Let’s pray for a good result to all of this.

I’ve never thought of tanks as a good counterinsurgency tool, but General Petraeus has been right in the past.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A military reader emails:

A couple of things stand out about the tanks to Afghanistan story. First, it is a single company, which should have 14 tanks. Second, it is the Marines bringing them in. This is the same group that ignored the conventional wisdom that tanks couldn’t possibly operate in the jungle and sent its tanks to Vietnam. Of course, this was because they had an institutional memory of actually using tanks in the jungle during WW2. Eventually the Army realized that they were right and followed suit. I think the Marines are right again. They are not following the Soviet model, which was a large and at first almost totally mechanized/armored force, but they do recognize that the protected firepower of a tank is sometimes impossible to replace. I expect that the Army will follow suit again if we stay much longer.

Well, stay tuned.

MORE: Reader Dave Parmly writes:

Coming from a guy who commanded a bunch of them, let me say that you get a lot farther with a kind word and a 120mm gun than with a kind word alone.

The commenter who referenced the Marines was correct, though a more recent example is the 2 BDE/3d ID use of tanks in the assault in Baghdad, counter to lots of “conventional wisdom”. Used as stationary pillboxes? We might see the propaganda uses as they get picked off at the enemy’s time/place of choosing. However, this is to fail to use the M1 at its most lethal: On the move, disrupting things at 40 MPH.

Still, not sure what sort of target the enemy in A-stan presents that needs a tank, but better to have them and not need them than need them and not have them.

Well, those 120mm guns outrange most snipers. . . .

MORE ON THIS LATER, but had fun shooting this afternoon with SayUncle, Les Jones, and some guys from LuckyGunner.com, an ammo company started by some of my law students. Among other things, I fired an AR-15 modified to shoot a .50 BMG round, from Zel Custom. Kinda heavy, and almost as tall as Helen, but fun. And I was able to fire it from the shoulder. Perfect for home defense — if you’re defending your home from Terminator robots!

Note the helping hand with some rounds of ammo . . . .

UPDATE: Frank Wilson emails: “Good heavens … law professors clinging to their guns!” You have to admit, though, that I don’t look even a little bit bitter.

And Charles Oliva emails: “Good finger discipline.” I was well trained.

MORE: Reader Pat Gang writes: “Glenn, that picture gives me new hope for our country.” Heh. Well, the culture has changed a lot on guns, that’s for sure, and to a degree that would have seemed — heck, did seem — unthinkable less than twenty years ago.

MICHAEL YON SENDS THIS DISPATCH TO INSTAPUNDIT READERS. I don’t usually run things this long on InstaPundit, but although domestic politics have eclipsed war coverage in a lot of places, what’s going on in Afghanistan is still important, and Michael is providing the best coverage out there. Note that he’s supported by reader donations, so if you like his work, hit his tipjar. He needs more support if he is to go back.

Patterns

Arghandab, Afghanistan

Written 19 December 2009

Published 13 February 2010 (Instapundit)

This is a story of warfighting and technology, and what life is like on the ground for our troops, as they do their best in war.

Last night a soldier from the 82nd Airborne Division was killed. The attack occurred just hours before the 82nd was to relieve 1-17th Infantry from duties in portions of the Arghandab River Valley near Kandahar.

Earlier that morning, soldiers from 1st Platoon, B-company (1-17th) had taken me on a short, easy mission out to a micro-base called “Brick 1.” The Platoon leader was 1st Lieutenant Ryan Fadden, while SFC Dimico was the platoon sergeant. The platoon was ready. Despite the filthy environment, weapons were clean, the gear was sorted and the men were in good spirits and a businesslike frame of mind. They seemed confident. It looked like Lieutenant Fadden and SFC Dimico were on their jobs. The battalion had lost 21 men KIA during the first several months of combat—the Brigade lost 31. An article was about to be published in the Army Times which might lead one to believe that the 1-17th is not combat-ready. The author, Sean Naylor, is as highly respected as he is experienced, and so his words are taken seriously. Yet during my first week, despite serious stresses in some places, the men seemed ready.

And so 1st Platoon drove in their Strykers from COP Jelawur, stopping a couple kilometers away from a small ANA (Afghan National Army) base just on the edge of the Green Zone of the Arghandab River near Kandahar. The heavy Stryker ramps hissed and dropped with a dull thump. The soldiers piled from the backs of the four machines. Two white dogs with wagging tails greeted the men, and the men greeted the dogs as if they were old buddies.

Chaplain Gary Lewis said a prayer, then 1st Platoon left the Gate heading to “Brick 1”

The soldiers checked weapons yet again and adjusted gear, and we walked out the gate, keeping intervals so that a single bomb couldn’t get many of us at once. Sometimes enemies “daisy chain” bombs together like a trotline, killing or wounding many soldiers simultaneously.

The morning was cool, bright and dry, and so the fine dust left perfect boot prints. This was to be the final mission for 1st Platoon in the area before the 82nd Airborne would take over responsibilities at around midnight.

As we walked out the gate, the older female dog which, by her looks, apparently had nursed dozens of suckling puppies in her years, decided to stay behind. The younger white dog trotted out the gate with us.

We walked on the road for a short distance under the direct view of a machine gunner on the perimeter. The roads, trails, and any places that are easy to walk are dangerous. Some bombs have been planted for months and the rains and winds have erased visible signs. The enemy will fire rifles or machine guns, trying to use American aggressiveness against our troops by luring young leaders into traps. The enemy has frequently succeeded in planting bombs very close to American and British bases, and so the minute you step out that gate, watch out. Some of the most dangerous places are closest to the bases where movements are most predictable. In Sangin, a guy tried to plant a bomb in clear view of a British guard tower, so close that the sentry could have killed him with a bow and arrow. Some people believe the Taliban are cowards, but in fact they are audacious and brave.

We moved off the road and patrolled across a freshly ploughed field of rich brown soil, soft as cotton. A shovel lay in the field. The brown boots of soldiers ahead raised dust puffs that caught in the gentle breeze. To attempt to mimic steps of the soldier ahead would glue eyes to ground, away from potential firing points. And besides, the bombs often kill someone far back in the patrol, even in places where others clearly have stepped. British and American soldiers have seen men killed after others had walked directly on a bomb maybe twenty times, until finally a friend disappears on what seemed safe ground. The enemy plants bombs at obvious choke points, but also in random places such as the middle of fields. Planting bombs in covered places drives us into the open, making it easier to ambush with rifles and machine guns. In war, this is fair play.

No matter how hard soldiers try to vary their routes, patterns are set that transcend particular units. The 5/2 SBCT is using an interesting method to avoid making patterns called the “Honesty Trace.”

Our vehicles carry various tracking gear, one of which is the “BFT,” or Blue Forces Tracker. We are the Blue Forces. A “blue on blue” incident usually means we accidentally attacked our own people or allies, which we try hard to avoid. The BFT has many functions, but the prime function is to track the friendly vehicles, representing each with a circular blue icon on the screens.

Soldiers in 5/2 also use something called “Land Warrior,” which includes a small backpack with GPS, radio and soldier-worn computer, similar to a BlackBerry but not as sophisticated. The entire system with batteries weighs about nine pounds. The Land Warrior (LW) is potentially an incredible system, but it “breaks a lot,” according to one soldier. Major Doug Copeland, the Assistant Product Manager for Land Warrior, said we have over 800 LW systems in the field, which have experienced a 3% component failure rate during about seven months of combat. Soldiers report the systems are not yet fully waterproofed, and they’re too heavy for comfort. (Infantrymen think in terms of bullets, and nine pounds equals about 270 bullets.) As the system matures, it should greatly increase our effectiveness.

An eyepiece fits on the helmet with a tiny computer screen that replicates a 17” monitor. The soldier uses the display when he needs to view friendly and enemy forces, which can be populated by the user, HQ, or other units. In other words, a Predator or helicopter could spot and report enemy forces and those enemy forces would appear on the “common operating picture.” The user can navigate, and send/receive digital orders and messages. Importantly, the user can send/receive graphics and images. Images are important. I recall a case in Mosul, Iraq in which a key figure was detained and released even though a soldier thought he recognized the man. Had the soldier been able to quickly send an image to HQ, the terrorist would have been arrested. Instead, he was released.

When viewing the display, the soldier wearing Land Warrior looks like a cyborg. The eyepiece displays his exact location, and that of other Land Warrior equipped soldiers and vehicles, including Strykers. Lieutenant Ryan Fadden, leading the patrol, keeps all the previous IED strikes programmed into his Land Warrior, and so he can see the exact location on the screen, and HQ can see the precise location of each Land Warrior-equipped soldier, as can our A-10C and F-16B30 pilots, though most aircraft cannot see the Land Warrior or BFT.

The Land Warrior and BFT can be coupled with current, already-installed communications systems. This is largely the baby of Captain Jared Cox, who as a lieutenant made a connection that aircraft should be able to track the BFT and Land Warrior. Captain Cox had been the unfortunate victim of a U.S. airstrike during a training mission at home. An American jet destroyed the car that he and an NCO were driving in. It’s a wonder they survived with only scratches. Captain Cox and some A-10C pilots answered my questions about this new system. I wondered how Captain Cox, as a young lieutenant, got enough leash to run with such a wild idea without the Pentagon first spending millions on a feasibility study. His answer was simple: Colonel Harry Tunnell, the Brigade Commander at 5/2 SBCT, thought he was on to something, and so let him try, but with specified goals and conditions. Result: we are using it in combat right here, right now.

Why is this important? Many reasons. We frequently use airpower to help level the extreme terrain advantages the enemy enjoys. In addition to trying to avoid civilian casualties, we try to avoid blue on blue, which, despite precautions, still occur. For instance, a British unit that I was with in Helmand was aggressively pursuing the enemy during a firefight. The British soldiers had located the enemy and pinned them, and were assaulting in. Meanwhile, an Apache helicopter strike was called. During the interim minutes, the ground forces had closed on the enemy, and they had gotten so close so quickly that the pilot thought they were the enemy. The British Apache wounded British soldiers while the enemy got away.

Below are the first unclassified images, released to me by the Air Force and Army, of this system at work in combat.

American A-10C spots British vehicles that were not seen by naked eye. In fact, the British probably do not realize that our A-10Cs have spotted them using the British BFT. Result: the British ground commander can bring our A-10C aircraft to bear with less delay.

Again, through the haze and difficulty, British vehicles can be spotted, allowing for faster, safer airstrikes when British call in American aircraft. It’s important to note that the British don’t have to invest a dime. Most British and American forces don’t know about this emerging capability—just make sure to keep your BFT on and the A-10C and F-16B30 can see you. Apaches and other aircraft cannot as of this writing. When soldiers are dismounted and using the Land Warrior (LW) system, the LW can relay through the vehicles to the A-10C/F-16B30, so the pilots can also see our dismounts, and the vehicles, on their HUDs (Heads Up Displays).

In Afghanistan, we continue to have “DUSTWUN” calls. DUSTWUN means Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown. These have happened especially near rivers, and in the mountains. We lose soldiers, especially after bombings. If the soldier was wearing a LW, we would either know his location, or his last known location. The LW also has a “call for medic” feature. The soldier can push a button that reports location and need for a medic. If he or she is good to type or talk, details can be transmitted.

American A-10Cs and F-16B30s can now track many vehicles from Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States.

An A-10C commander told me about an instance where American forces had called him in. The man on the ground insisted they were at point “A,” but the A-10C had picked up his LW, and said, “No, that’s not where you are,” and they quickly figured it out and kept working.

Between data from BFT and LW, headquarters can track just about every step soldiers take, and they can see stigmergic “ant patterns” develop. And so the Army hired a civilian expert who creates a pattern analysis to work at 5/2 HQ, and his reports warn unit leaders when they are setting patterns. This applies over time.

Just because 1st Platoon didn’t repeat a certain route doesn’t mean 2nd Platoon or 4th Platoon didn’t already set that same route. A unit that was there two years ago will have already created a pattern, and if the enemy paid attention—this enemy pays very close attention—they don’t need to wait until we draw a map with our boots. The enemy will predict how we move based on previous units. (Emergent patterns transcend particular persons or units.)

Explosives for sale in market in Sangin, Helmand. Ammonium nitrate is used as fertilizer but was recently outlawed in Afghanistan. Ammonium nitrate was used in the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

The enemy sets patterns. The primary indicator that an IED is present is that an IED was there before. In this war, lightning strikes the same places repeatedly. Explosives are cheap. To avoid bombs, instead of going through doors, soldiers blast holes. They avoid paths, avoid bridges that are not observed, avoid the obvious. Some choke points are unavoidable, and so often the best course of action is to spend extra effort on nearby families, trying to develop relationships so they will give tips. By far, the number one counter-IED strategy is cultivating local people. If the local people don’t want you to get blown up, there is a strong chance you won’t get blown up, so long as they feel safe in passing the information. We saw this landslide of support occur in Anbar Province, Iraq, in late 2006, then spread through much of Iraq during 2007. As we pushed more troops into neighborhoods and lived with the people, the people flooded us with information.

There were farmers and kids in the immediate area.

This morning, we crossed the first field, and an irrigation canal. “White Dog” stepped daintily stepped across the stones. Our soldiers have been killed at canal crossings. When there are bridges, the explosives often are just off the bridge, apparently because the enemy doesn’t want to blow up the bridge.

Farmers worked close by—and so we kept going through a hole in a wall, but only because there were farmers right there beside it, who smiled as we stepped through.

The next fields were vineyards, but unlike American vineyards where vines often are trained on wires, these vines are trained on low mud walls that would easily stop cannon fire from an Apache or A-10.

When the Soviets attacked in this same area, Mujahedeen recounted hiding under garlands of grapevines. They waited until soldiers got close and shot them. A 5/2 soldier was shot from up close in the area. The bullet nailed his front plate and knocked him flat but he was okay. Later, an IED took him out of the fight, though comrades say he is doing fine. During winter, the vines are dormant and so there is little cover.

Moving through the vineyards, we walked single file on a hump between rows. The soil was hard as cinderblock. A few hundred meters later we came to Brick 1, the patrol base that had been set up in an abandoned farm compound.

At Brick 1, soldiers had cut down the pomegranate trees inside the compound walls, saying the owner was living in Kandahar and he knew we had occupied his compound and that he would be compensated. Nobody knew the price per tree. During 2008, when I was with British 2 Para in Helmand, a farmer was shooting at us nearly every day. SIGINT (voice intercept) was clear that he was shooting because the British cut down his trees but offered meager compensation. Shortly after I left, a soldier was shot in the head but I do not know if the death stemmed from the trees.

The Stryker soldiers said they typically stay at Brick 1 for about two weeks with no showers, though there is a foreign-built well. They didn’t have a Stryker, just an MRAP, and all their supplies get humped in by foot. They tried to drive in resupply but got blown up, they said. They eat MREs, and there is little going on other than attacks and missions. Inside the compound were bullet holes and marks where RPGs had come in.

Soldiers had collected the expended white casings from mortar illumination; the enemy uses the cases for bombs.

Soldiers can be seen in the field moving closer to the IED.

At Brick 1, everything seemed fine; soldiers were cutting up, saying Perez the sniper couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.

We walked to the roof of Brick 1 where Perez had his calculator out, doing the math for a long shot, and I wondered who he was going to shoot. Turns out he was only preparing to fire at an IED that had recently been placed within direct sight of patrol base. A patrol had moved out to get a closer look at the bomb.

Though December is dry and brown, the micro-terrain in the valley is like a Harry Potter invisibility cloak. The enemy can still sneak around. And so the area immediately outside the perimeter is likely to have a bomb that wasn’t there the day before.

A couple of helicopters could be seen in the far distance, doing who knows what.

A fat puppy slept on the roof near one of the machine guns, while a brown sheep was running around in the courtyard below. Keeping dogs on base has been against regs since at least World War II, yet I have never been to a single base in Afghanistan or Iraq that doesn’t have at least one. It’s highly doubtful that Secretary Gates or Admiral Mullen really cares about the dogs. At these isolated, small posts, dogs have probably saved a lot of American lives, but mostly they just make good pals. Families send puppy chow through the mail and it’s common to see soldiers with bags of dog food and puppy chow.

On the roof were two interpreters. One “terp” wore the nametag “Tarzan,” saying an American captain had given him the name and he liked it. Afghan men tend to be fanatics for professional wrestling, so there was little doubt he tried to live up to his appellation. He seemed very proud to be called Tarzan.

The soldiers and terps were joking, despite the new bomb nearby which indicated that someone in the neighborhood wanted to kill them. Only the lone sheep seemed unhappy in his loneliness. There was an explosion in the far distance. There were no birds in the air, other than helicopters in the distance. The day before, the Dutch had come in with a giant helicopter to FOB Frontenac and picked up one of their helicopters that had come back from a mission with bullet holes. The Dutch took off the rotors, drained fluids, and flew it away.

Roof of Brick 1: Kandahar Airfield, and Pizza Hut is only about 10 minutes away by helicopter, though these soldiers go weeks eating MREs. Everyone’s war is a snowflake; no two wars are the same. One of Mullah Omar’s wives came from just a few minutes away.

Soldiers at Brick 1 said a mortar strike made this hole in their roof but that fight happened before they arrived. There is the saying that war consists of long periods of sheer boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Here there’s something pretty much always going on, though often we don’t know what it is. You can hear explosions or firing, or see the helicopters or jets up to something, but you don’t know what.

1st Platoon prepared to depart Brick 1, leaving the current inhabitants nearby.

We moved through fields and four men were searched but mostly the soldiers just smiled and kept moving.

We didn’t see girls or women during this part of the walk.

This soldier noticed that the wall on the left had been patched since the last time he was there. The enemy often plants bombs in walls.

We walked for maybe another half-mile through a small village that Lieutenant Fadden said previously had been abandoned, but after soldiers had moved into Brick 1 and began regular patrols, families starting coming back. This is a good effect of our work. Creating safety for the local population is the basis of an effective counterinsurgency strategy. LT Fadden’s statements are consistent with observations I’ve made elsewhere in Afghanistan, and also what we saw in Iraq in 2007. Despite much grim news from Afghanistan, there is clear progress in some areas.

This same confusion was evident nearly every step of the way in Iraq between 2004 and mid 2007: clear progress in some respects with clear backsliding in others. This is the nature of progress in the face of opposition. It’s like a ship whose engines are pushing one way, while the currents are flowing another, while the changing winds are blowing yet another, and it’s all happening at night, and there is no GPS. You just have to wait for clear nights to check the stars, and, as it has been said, smooth seas never made a successful sailor. This military has weathered ferocious storms over the past eight years, more than even they can remember, often enduring setbacks and tragedies, sometimes blown off course. Over that time, there has been movement toward our goals, but not enough, and the enemy is strengthening.

Along the way, young boys wanted their photos taken, but girls were nowhere to be seen.

This village had water wells similar in form to what can be seen in many villages in Afghanistan.

The base of this water well indicates the Danish installed it back in 2003, when the world seemed to know that the Taliban were whipped and we decided to attack Iraq.

Elsewhere in Arghandab are plentiful signs, apparently erected by us, which today mock our “progress.” People say that Americans, British and others are losing patience with our progress here. It’s reasonable that citizens at home expect demonstrable progress in 2010, after 8 full years. People at home have a right to know how we are spending the lives of our people, and our money.

We walked back to the ANA base without incident. Some 82nd Airborne soldiers were preparing for a mission. They had no way of knowing that an earthquake was brewing in Haiti and other 82nd soldiers would soon be swooping in there to save lives.

Tonight, 18 December 2009, their unit would take command of the area, and the 1-17th would go out to FOB Frontenac to take a different area. Stryker soldiers from the 1-17th talked quietly about the Humvees, sadly predicting the loss of 82nd brethren, and then changed the subject to more lighthearted matters.

A few minutes later, I joined a different Stryker convoy for the several-hour journey back to FOB Frontenac. We would travel through the area where five Canadians—four soldiers and a journalist—would soon be killed. This was shortly before the suicide bombing at a base that attacked CIA officers, killing eight people. The CIA is out here working hard but they don’t get much credit. That’s the way it must be.

As we crossed dangerous terrain, a helicopter from some unknown country swooped over the convoy a couple times. The Strykers are bad about getting stuck in the desert, but are better than the heavy humvees, and so we crossed some wadis at 90 degrees. Over my headset, soldiers talked about the high danger of this area. Later that night, we got back to FOB Frontenac and learned that an 82nd Airborne Convoy had been hit in a wadi that we had crossed. The humvees cannot cross wadis like Strykers can. A ranking soldier explained that the humvee had driven in the wadi and been hit. Two soldiers were wounded. Sergeant Albert Ware, an 82nd Airborne soldier from Chicago, had been killed. Albert was originally from Liberia and on his second tour in Afghanistan. A story in Chicago would say the following:

“Tragically, the war monument in the Pullman neighborhood will soon bear another name, after a 27-year-old father of three was killed this week by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

Sgt. Albert Ware died after his Humvee was blown up while he was on a secret mission…When Ware told his parents he’d joined the military after the Sept 11 terror attacks, they were angry that he voluntarily chose to go to war.

‘I was afraid,’ said his father, Thomas Ware.”

Sergeant Albert Ware died in service to the United States. He is an American hero. Since this mission, the Coalition has lost about a hundred more. The war goes on.

_____

As I mentioned, Michael Yon is supported by reader donations, so if you like his work, please give generously.

ANALYSIS: Press Largely Ignored Incendiary Rhetoric at Bush Protest. Gee, do you think?

When Bush visited Portland, Ore., for a fundraiser, protesters stalked his motorcade, assailed his limousine and stoned a car containing his advisers. Chanting “Bush is a terrorist!”, the demonstrators bullied passers-by, including gay softball players and a wheelchair-bound grandfather with multiple sclerosis.

One protester even brandished a sign that seemed to advocate Bush’s assassination. The man held a large photo of Bush that had been doctored to show a gun barrel pressed against his temple. . . . Although reporters from numerous national news organizations were traveling with Bush and witnessed the protest, none reported that protesters were shrieking at Republican donors epithets like “Slut!” “Whore!” and “Fascists!”

Yes, I remember the Bush-assassination chic. But it was different. All in good fun, you know.

Related item here. “It’s interesting though, when discussing responsibility and accountability, that STILL nothing is said about Kenneth Gladney on the left – oh, aside from the same ol’ same ol’ racist uncle Tom comments from people who are more eager to defend a liberal black man than an independent one. I guess that independence is what gets them. They excuse the bad behavior for the advancement of liberalism but freak when things exponentially unequal to those offenses occur on the right. Because their silence and ridicule condones that action, their credibility on other issues is compromised. . . . Yes, LET’S have the discussion as to who has been statistically more violent and rabble-rousing at protests. I think what you find may shock you. Or not. Listen …. crickets.”

Plus, from Victor Davis Hanson:

At one time not so long ago, those on the Left, and mainstream Democrats as well, apparently believed inflammatory language, Hitler parallels, and perverse expressions of real hatred were acceptable means to the noble end of discrediting the Bush presidency.

During the bleak days of Iraq, demonstrators carried swastikas and Hitler portraits of Bush habitually. Nicholson Baker wrote a novel in which characters are contemplating killing Bush. Films were praised imagining the assassination of the president. Michael Moore, courted by the Democratic elite, lamented that bin Laden on 9/11 had hit a blue state — and once compared the killers of Americans in Iraq to Minutemen.

Al Gore customarily used excessive language like “brown shirts.” Senators Durbin, Kennedy, and others compared our soldiers to Saddamites, Pol Pot’s killers, and Nazis. Ward Churchill compared the victims in the Twin Tower to “little Eichmanns.” Sen. Robert Byrd likened Pres. George W. Bush’s policies to what transpired in Nazi Germany. Linda Ronstadt, Harold Pinter, Scott Ritter, Ted Rall, and George Soros agreed with Fidel Castro, the Iranians, and North Koreans in comparing Bush to Hitler.

Jonathan Chait wrote in the New Republic on why “I hate George W. Bush.” Garrison Keillor likened Bush’s Republicans to “brown shirts in pinstripes.” Even old hero Sen. John Glenn said of the Bush agenda: “It’s the old Hitler business.”

There’s more.

UPDATE: Reader Julie Carlson thinks the townhalls are tame:

I haven’t seen this mentioned anywhere, but it occurred to me with all the media wetting themselves over the tenor of the town hall meetings, haven’t they ever watched Question Time on C-Span? I realize the ones doing the questioning are other politicians, but the whole atmosphere is hardly polite. Lots of jeering, laughing, shouting out, and the Prime Minister has to stand there and take it and dish it out as well. And these are the Brits! I thought we Americans are the ones who were supposed to be so rough around the edges. Our politicians act like a bunch of hot house flowers at these meetings. My son does middle school debate – one of the time-honored traditions during your opponent’s speech is to knock on the desk and shout “shame!”. If a bunch of middle-schoolers can handle it why can’t a seasoned Congressperson?

Our guys aren’t used to being challenged.

SAYUNCLE: “I see the crazy talk is back. It has come full circle. I remember the good old days when the New World Order Black Helicopter guys said the same thing about the first George Bush. Looks like a combo of the Prison Planet/Infowars/Truther crowd. Anyway, this is some world class silliness and no one should encourage them.”

Plus, the changing narrative: “First, this uptick in violence was blamed on guns. Then the NRA. Then right wing radio. Then a 911 operator. Now, it’s the economy.”

UPDATE: Weirdness from Glenn Beck, though Dan Riehl comments: “Contrary to Charles’s claim the audience as a whole is not eating it up.” But Beck seems to have taken the Olbermann slot in the opposition-cable ecosystem. Well, it worked out for Olbermann — though, of course, the mainstream treated Olbermann as a serious player, not a nut.

THUMBS UP FOR GRAN TORINO: “Driving home, I was thinking: Clint Eastwood is the best Hollywood guy ever.”

Plus this: “This is a good movie for people who like cars and guns and tools.”

And, from the comments: “It says something about America that the toughest guy in the movies is 78 years old.”

Vaguely related item here.

UPDATE: Randy Barnett liked Gran Torino too.

JOHN THOMPSON:

The Mumbai attacks represent a scenario that few Western police and security forces have dared envision. Fewer still have prepared for it.

The basic strategy: use a large number of attackers to overwhelm a target city’s ability to respond, and then suddenly switch focus to high value targets and seize hostages.

Of course, if significant numbers of citizens were armed, the response would be much harder to overwhelm.

UPDATE: Reader Andrew Samet writes:

So you think that ordinary citizens armed with handguns would slow down a surprise attack by trained paramilitary forces armed with automatic weapons, grenades and who knows what else? I’m curious how you see that scenario playing out.

The way I see it, if terrorists such as these could rely on a “significant number” (and I don’t know what that means, exactly – 10 percent? 20 percent?) of their targets carrying guns, they wouldn’t bother taking hostages. They’d just slaughter everyone in sight. They might take a few hits, but they’d have planned for that, just like any army would.

Well, let’s see. There were about 25 terrorists in Mumbai, according to the reports I’ve seen. I’m not sure how many people were at the Taj hotel but it’s a big place. Say it’s 2000 and 10% are armed. That’s 200 vs. 25 (and it’s really better odds than that, since I don’t think there were 25 terrorists at the Taj, but rather 25 overall; these numbers will likely turn out to be wrong, but probably not wrong enough to affect this analysis.) Now the 25 terrorists were practiced at working together, and probably fairly proficient (though I saw an Indian commando saying they were skilled because “most people cannot operate an AK rifle or throw a grenade” which isn’t, by itself, a stirring tribute to their military skills). Nonetheless, 1-8 odds, even with a weapons and training advantage, aren’t great. Would they take hostages? It would probably be a lot harder. Would that prevent raids like this? Maybe not, but if you’re just out to kill people and not take hostages, why not just use a car-bomb? Plus, when your “victims” are shooting back at you and killing you, they’re not really victims any more, are they? Kinda undercuts the whole terrorism game.

Meanwhile, reader D.A. Rodgers emails:

You wrote, after excerpting Thompson:

“Of course, if significant numbers of citizens were armed, the response would be much harder to overwhelm.”

Thus, Texas will be last place to face this kind of terrorism.

Seriously, this reminds me very much of the situation after the Rodney King verdict. In L.A., where no law-abiding citizen (Korean-Americans excepted) carries (or even owns) a gun, the rioters were able to “use a large number of attackers to overwhelm a target city’s ability to respond.” In Houston, attempts were made to start a similar riot in response to the Rodney King verdict. Would-be rioters shot from the freeway into the neighborhoods. The residents shot back.

End result? No riot. Not even one Ranger.

We saw armed Houstonians patrolling their own streets after Hurricane Rita, too. I’ll note that it hasn’t been that long — only a few generations — since people expected to have to resist brigands, etc., in all sorts of situations. Back to the future?

ANOTHER UPDATE: According to Reuters, there were only ten terrorists. That would make the odds 20-1 in favor of the good guys in the hypothetical above, which would seem to be quite a burden for the terrorists to overcome. But Reuters calls them “militants.”

Anyway, people don’t stop killers, people with guns do. Maybe we need a rifle in every pot?

MORE: Reader Peter Sterne writes: ‘Your reader, Andrew Samet, expressed skepticism about an armed citizenry’s ability to successfully fight a trained paramilitary force. I kind of remember something about an armed citizenry successfully taking on a trained military very early in the history of this country … it’s not a perfect analogy with Mumbai, and everyone was much better acquainted with firearms back then, but, you know, I’m just sayin.’”

STILL MORE: Dave Hardy comments: “I really wouldn’t give ten men attacking a few thousand Tucsonans much of a chance. About 2% of Pima County has a CCW permit; others carry openly or have one in their car (you don’t need a permit to have a holstered gun in the glove compartment). So an attack on 2,000 people means an attack on *at least* forty who have a gun on them, and more who will have one available in seconds. A fair number of whom will be behind the attackers’ backs.”

No guarantees on how it turns out, of course — but from the attacker’s point of view, that’s the problem, isn’t it? Because when you attack a bunch of unarmed people, well, the guarantees are a lot closer to hand . . . .

FINALLY: Reader Drew Kelley comments: “It seems a lot of people need to be reminded why the Japanese were very reluctant to launch an invasion of the United States proper. And then, after assimilating that information, they need to refamiliarize themselves with the basics of being a rifleman, and pistol marksmanship. It seems we are surrounded by crocodile feeders.”

My Popular Mechanics columns are here.

My USA Today columns are here.

My New York Post columns are here.

My Washington Examiner columns are here.

My TCSDaily / TechCentralStation columns are archived here.

My old MSNBC blog is here.

Previous columns written for FoxNews.com (I stopped in 2002) can be found here.

A (partial) list of my law review articles can be found here. It’s not usually up to date, but it’s the best I can do.

Also, downloadable copies of many of my law review articles can be found here, through SSRN.

Contributions to The Guardian are (mostly) rounded up here.

You may find my discussion of the state of the blogosphere with Cass Sunstein on the University of Chicago Faculty Blog interesting. Scroll forward from that link for the whole thing.

Some other items are listed below:

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The New York Sun, April 16, 2002
Whizzer�s Legacy
Glenn Harlan Reynolds

�The milk of human kindness,� a well-known federal judge once remarked to me, �does not flow through Whizzer�s veins.� He meant this (mostly) as a compliment.

Byron �Whizzer� White served as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court at a time when compassion, as personified by judges like his colleague William J. Brennan, Jr. and federal appeals judges like J. Skelly Wright, was regarded as the cardinal virtue of the bench. But, as befitted a man who was once the highest-paid professional football player in the nation, White favored a more strenuous approach.

Like his colleague John Marshall Harlan, White was a kind of liberal, but he was a liberal of a species now nearly extinct, a species for whom compassion was only one � and not necessarily the foremost one � among many values. With Harlan, White voted to strike down the Connecticut anti-birth-control law in Griswold v. Connecticut. But, also like Harlan, he wrote separately to express a more modest rationale for the decision. For White, unlike the majority, the biggest problem with the law was not that it infringed a fundamental right of privacy � it was that it did not make sense. The State of Connecticut claimed that its law against birth control was intended to prevent premarital and extramarital sex, but the statute, and its enforcement, did something else entirely.

�I wholly fail to see,� he wrote, �how the ban on the use of contraceptives by married couples in any way reinforces the State�s ban on illicit sexual relationships. . . . [The statute] has been quite obviously ineffective, and [its] most serious use has been against birth-control clinics rendering advice to married, rather than unmarried, persons.� In short, White found, the law violated something as important as privacy � the right to expect a law (and the arguments made in court supporting the law) to make sense. If the State of Connecticut had a legitimate government purpose for enacting the birth-control statute, then it had done a particularly bad job because the law simply didn�t serve the purposes it was claimed to.

Though critics of the majority opinion in Griswold often call the right of privacy it recognized radical, White was in fact calling for something far more radical than a new individual right. White�s hardheadedness made him hard to pigeonhole: he voted with the liberals on (most) civil rights matters, and with the conservatives on (most) criminal matters.

But his approach was in many ways a foreshadowing of what was to come. In the 1996 case of Romer v. Evans, for example, the Supreme Court struck down an anti-gay-rights provision adopted in a Colorado referendum. The majority�s reasoning was that the provision � which barred localities from adopting gay-rights ordinances � failed �rational basis� review because the Court could identify no legitimate governmental purpose behind it. Instead, the Court held, the provision was motivated by a �bare desire to harm an unpopular group.�

Although �rational basis� analysis was long taught in law schools as being synonymous with �the law will be upheld,� White was long a champion of a more rigorous approach. The Romer decision is a fitting example of White�s legacy for another reason, too: it was criticized from both left and right. The left didn�t like it because it contained no ringing affirmation of gay rights. The right didn�t like it because it was insufficiently deferential to the state.

It may seem odd to link White�s legacy to a gay-rights case, given that his most unpopular opinion was probably the majority opinion he authored in the 1986 case of Bowers v. Hardwick. The Bowers case involved the constitutionality of a Georgia law making homosexual (and, actually, heterosexual) sodomy a felony punishable by up to twenty years imprisonment. White�s majority opinion upheld the law, finding no �fundamental right� of homosexuals to engage in sodomy.

White�s opinion was, in my own opinion, wrong. Under the logic of Griswold and Romer, the Georgia law is irrational � though since, despite the disingenuous claims of Georgia�s counsel at oral argument, it applied to heterosexuals and homosexuals alike, it was at least nondiscriminatory.

But though White may have been unable to bring himself to follow his own lead in Bowers, the courts of many states � including Georgia � have since struck down their sodomy laws on precisely the ground that they are irrational, and fail to advance a legitimate governmental purpose. In court after court, judges have examined the various justifications offered for laws banning homosexual sodomy (for example, that homosexual relationships can�t lead to children) and concluded that they didn�t make sense (after all, we allow heterosexuals who are sterile, or too old to reproduce, to have sex). White�s methodology, it turns out, may have had more impact than the opinion he authored.

What�s more, this principle is spilling over from traditionally liberal subjects like gay rights to those generally regarded as conservative. We see even economic regulations � once almost immune from judicial scrutiny � being examined in terms of rational basis and governmental legitimacy today. Just recently, for example, the Institute for Justice persuaded a court in my home state of Tennessee to strike down a law banning the sale of caskets by anyone other than a licensed funeral director, even though independent sellers could offer the same caskets at a fraction of the price. The state�s asserted justifications, it was found, were irrational: no one ever �protected� a consumer by keeping markups at four hundred to six hundred percent.

The principle that laws should make sense is, in fact, a radical one. While it has a long way to go before it has occupied the field, it has made great strides since Justice White began championing it. Like White himself, it will produce decisions that sometimes look conservative and sometimes look liberal. But it is really a species of muscular skepticism that � like White himself � is not made for ideological pigeonholes.

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Glenn Harlan Reynolds is Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee, and publishes the InstaPundit.Com website.

Wall Street Journal, December 28, 2001
Of Capitalism and Third Places
Glenn Harlan Reynolds

Senators have �hideaway offices,� and so do I. Theirs are scattered in various nooks and crannies around the Capitol. Mine is at the local Borders. Theirs are more prestigious, but mine has better coffee.

I have an office with a nice computer, and I have a study at home with a nicer computer. But I often pack up my laptop, or a book that I�m reading, or student papers to grade, and relocate to this third place: somewhere more congenial than the office, less isolated than home.

Others must feel the same way, because when I�m there I find myself surrounded by people of all sorts. On a typical day there will be two or three with laptops intently writing, well, something. There will be tables full of high-school or college students, alternately studying and flirting, a home-schooling parent drilling a child on Babylonian history, one or two road-warrior salespeople catching up on scheduling and messages, a claque of bible-studiers arguing about Job, and a leather-clad cyberpunk-looking youth sitting with his more conventional mother. By now, I know all the regulars by sight, and many by name. We keep up on each others� lives in a casual sort of way.

This third place, of course, is the �Third Place� that sociologist Ray Oldenburg called essential to civilization in his 1989 book, The Great Good Place. The third place had several characteristics: it had to be free or inexpensive, offer food and drink, be accessible, draw enough people to feel social, and foster easy conversation. Another characteristic that Oldenburg identified was that such places were disappearing.

In 1989, they were. In 2001, they�re not � and you can thank the much-maligned �chain book superstores� for this. Certainly when I moved to my upscale Knoxville suburb in 1989, there weren�t many such places. Nor had there been many in Washington, D.C., where I came from: the Afterwords caf� at Kramerbooks was the closest thing, but it didn�t really fill the bill. When I lived in New Haven, the famous Atticus books was like a poor man�s Borders � without public restrooms. (They�ve since added them, in the face of competition from the palatial Barnes & Noble – operated Yale Co-op down the street).

Now, within about a mile of each other, are three big bookstore/caf� complexes: Borders, Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million. All seem to be doing well.

They�re doing well because they�ve identified a need, and they�re meeting it. You�d think that this would make a lot of people happy � and of course, it does, as I can tell just by looking around. But you�d think it would make more than just the customers happy; you�d think that it would please the people who are always worrying about America�s need for �community.�

In that, however, you would mostly be mistaken. While hostility toward book superstores has receded from its late-90s peak, it is still very real. Independent bookstores, we are told, are genuine; chain bookstores are all about marketing. Chain bookstores are bad for small presses, bad for communities, and � as Carol Anne Douglas writes in Off Our Backs � bad for feminists, whose books apparently can only be bought at �feminist bookstores.�

I don�t know about the feminists, but small press sales appear to be up thanks to chain bookstores� larger selection of titles. Communities are surely benefitting from the introduction of pleasant third places where such didn�t exist before. And what�s more, with the exception of a handful of independents, chain bookstores are better at being third places.

That�s because independent bookstores have traditionally been run by people who like books. Those people generally aren�t interested in offering the other amenities that Oldenburg calls important and that superstores offer, like coffee shops, comfy chairs, and live music performances. At many independent bookstores, they like books better than people, and want you to know it � the bookish version of the music geeks in the movie High Fidelity. The chains, however, aren�t in business for personal gratification. They just want to keep customers coming back. Want coffee? Got it! Want a triple mocha latte, and handmade fresh salads from the Tomato Head restaurant downtown? Got it! And, interestingly, the extra traffic that these amenities produce means that chain stores typically can afford a better selection of books than the independents, too, which is why small presses are benefitting right along with latte-lovers.

Well, no surprise there. That�s what capitalism is all about. Funny that it�s a dirty word to some people.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds is professor of law at the University of Tennessee and publisher of InstaPundit.Com.

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The Boston Globe, November 25, 2001
Ashcroft and the Second Amendment
Glenn Harlan Reynolds

The Attorney General was asked a question at a Congressional hearing: “What in your opinion would be the constitutionality of a provision added to this bill which would require registration [of firearms]?” His answer: “I am afraid it would be unconstitutional.”

The year is not 2001, but 1934, and the Attorney General is not John Ashcroft, but Homer Cummings. Cummings was hardly the first to think there were constitutional barriers to gun control. Throughout the nineteenth century, leading scholars like Thomas Cooley, Joseph Story, and St. George Tucker had found the Second Amendment protected an individual right to arms against federal interference. Congress agreed: the 1866 Freedmen’s Bureau Act provided that “the constitutional right to bear arms, shall be secured to and enjoyed by all the citizens.”

Leading modern scholars of constitutional law agree. Laurence Tribe of Harvard has written that the Second Amendment protects an individual right. So have William Van Alstyne of Duke, Eugene Volokh of UCLA, Randy Barnett of Boston University, and many others. They also agree with Ashcroft’s statement that this right does not bar reasonable regulations aimed at preventing crime, rather than disarming honest citizens.

The twentieth century Congress agreed with its nineteenth century counterpart: the 1986 Firearms Owners’ Protection Act found that “the rights of citizens to keep and bear arms under the second amendment to the United States Constitution” required additional legislation for their protection. An accompanying Senate Judiciary Committee report on the Second Amendment stated that “what is protected is an individual right of a private citizen to own and carry firearms in a peaceful manner.” And in several cases � some quite recent � the Supreme Court has, though admittedly in dictum, lumped the right to arms together with clearly personal rights like free speech.

Despite this, Attorney General John Ashcroft’s recent statement that the Second Amendment protects an individual right was treated as a lurching departure from settled law by some. Yet Ashcroft’s interpretation sits rather comfortably with the mass of opinion from other branches.

The chief opposition to the individual-rights view comes from gun-control advocacy groups. I’ve never quite understood why gun-control groups have felt it necessary to adopt an absolutist no-right-to-bear-arms position, when it is clear that the individual right view leaves room for reasonable regulation, so long as that regulation is really about preventing criminals from getting guns, not disarming ordinary citizens. (I myself have written that gun registration wouldn’t violate the Second Amendment). But such absolutism is one of the dynamics of our ongoing culture war, on the left as much as on the right.

Some critics of Ashcroft’s view have claimed that it conflicts with United States v. Miller, the 1939 Supreme Court case that is its only opinion directly addressing a Second Amendment argument in the past hundred years. Miller, we are told, makes clear that the Second Amendment only protects the National Guard. There are two major problems with this argument. One is that Miller never mentions the National Guard. The other is that the only action actually taken in Miller was to remand the case back to the District Court (which had previously held the National Firearms Act unconstitutional on Second Amendment grounds) for factfinding on the issue of whether a sawed-off shotgun was the kind of weapon the Second Amendment protects. Whatever Miller did, it did not endorse the “National Guard” theory.

The lower federal courts are a different story. The lower courts’ resistance to the individual-rights view has, at least until recently, been widespread, and those criticizing Ashcroft’s position have been quick to point to these decisions as evidence that Ashcroft is somehow off the reservation. Yet on closer examination, the lower courts’ opinions are less persuasive. In a recent article, Professor Brannon Denning of Southern Illinois University Law School analyzed all the lower court decisions on the Second Amendment, and concluded that , “lower courts have strayed . . . from the Court’s original holding to the point of being intellectually dishonest.” Many lower courts in fact have endorsed the National Guard theory. Of course, many of them also claim that Miller did the same, which it clearly did not, and to read these opinions in series is to see lower courts progressively and unashamedly moving the goalposts in order to ensure that � regardless of the arguments offered by counsel � no one could possibly succeed in a Second Amendment challenge. This line of cases is no great testament to the rule of law. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit agreed with this last month when it essentially adopted Professor Denning’s criticism of other lower court decisions and held that the Second Amendment does in fact protect an individual right. In response to this decision, Michael Barone noted that “It will now be very hard�I would say impossible�for any intellectually honest judge to rule that the Second Amendment means nothing.”

On analysis, therefore, it appears to be the lower federal courts (except, now, for the Fifth Circuit) who are out of the mainstream on this issue. So are the gun-control groups who so vigorously invoke the lower courts’ opinions to deny any possibility that the Second Amendment (which is, after all, one-tenth of the Bill of Rights) does anything so uncouth as to create an enforceable constitutional right.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds is Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee, and writes for the InstaPundit.Com website.

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IS SARAH PALIN RONALD REAGAN? Some people are asking, but I’d have to say the answer is “no.” Though Reagan was portrayed as an amiable dunce, he in fact spent many years working out his ideas before running for President. Palin hasn’t done that yet. She has considerable natural talent as a politician, but she’s no Ronald Reagan. Then again, neither was Ronald Reagan, at 44.

At any rate, the Republicans shouldn’t be looking so hard for another Reagan. Reagan came along as a sort of savior, but the party needed saving because it had become too comfortable, too afraid of the press, and too anxious to go along and get along. A strong farm team — producing lots of Palins, if not Reagans — would do them more good than a single savior.

Meanwhile, is Obama the Democrats’ Reagan? That, perhaps, is a topic for a different post.

UPDATE: Reader Mark Zoeller emails: “Your proximate posts today re: the Palin debate among conservative pundits and the cover-up of the Edwards story jogged this random thought. Why do we hear no comparisons of the relative merits of Gov. Palin as a VP candidate today, and the Dem’s attempt to foist John Edwards on us as VP In ’04?” The press covered for Edwards; they’re gunning for Palin.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader S.J. Himel writes: “Look, I’ve accepted the fact for years that you’re a closet Dem, pretending to be a libertarian (though lacking any perceptible enthusiasm or credentials for the latter viewpoint), but you know what? That Obama/Reagan comparison was actually so stunningly offensive it’s forced me to rethink every opinion I’ve held about you. And in no way for the better.”

You know, I’ve long since gotten used to the idea that everything I blog will be misunderstood by somebody, but still . . .

MORE: Another reader emails:

So why do you suppose that fellow was so offended by your tongue -in-cheek post wondering if Obama can be viewed as the dem’s Reagan? Is he a dem horrified that anyone could compare Obama to that trodglydite Reagan? Or a repub aghast that anyone could compare the great Reagan to that one? Then again he did mention libertarian in such a way you’d think maybe he leans that way. Was Reagan a libertarian hero? Naw, I suppose he must be a dem.

I like his line about you being a closet dem. I decided a while back you’re like me,..you really, really want to be a dem, you have in fact been a dem and even associated with dems in the past and present, but a lot of the time you say something you think is commonsensical and obvious and even somewhat progressive and you get denounced as as some right-wing collaborator. Tough luck for a guy who just wants to blog about guns, gadgets and space exploration.

Yeah, but I soldier on.

THE FANNIE MAE / FREDDIE MAC DOOMSDAY SCENARIO. Related item — including the Jim Johnson / Obama connection — from Mickey Kaus.

UPDATE: Reader Nick Foresta emails:

The failure of Fannie and Freddie would be a new paradigm. These entities would create a trickle down effect and it’s not only mortgage bonds and CDO’s that would be effected. European banks are coming to terms with their own structured credit problems in the form of SIV’s (Structured Investment Vehicles). These bonds are basically derivatives of other credit instruments but the banks that sell them retain a portion of the downside risk. If the agencies defaulted, several banks would be almost immediately insolvent. Credit would tighten further, the banks left standing would have a hard time lending money to anyone as their balance sheets deteriorated. Companies and individuals would cause a run on banks and the whole system would be in danger of collapse. Scary but true. The markets are not capable of bailing out these two behemoths. The real problem is this. These guys own a good deal of the most toxic mortgage bonds. Those bonds are booked at face value now but we all know they’re close to worthless. The agencies are hoping the market rebounds and they can get at least part of their money back but they’ve been waiting for that rebound for nearly a year and the situation hasn’t improved. They will have never be able to sell those bonds into a market that’s collapsing. What will they do? They will offload some of that bad debt to a fund that will include wall street and fed money. It’s the only real option.

So I guess I should be investing in shotgun shells and canned goods. . . . ?

GEE, WHAT DO YOU THINK? L.A. red light cameras clicking for safety or revenue?

Plus, traffic fines are for the little people: “Among the thousands of drivers who have been issued $40 fines after being nabbed by Montgomery County’s new speed cameras are scores of county police officers. The difference is, many of the officers are refusing to pay.”

UPDATE: Various readers like this highlight from the Montgomery County story:

In recent weeks, officers have twice been photographed speeding past a camera and extending a middle finger, an act that police supervisors interpreted as a gesture of defiance.

Yeah, that’s how I interpret it, too. I suspect those officers aren’t as sympathetic when defiant gestures are aimed at them. This sense of entitlement and exceptionalism among law enforcement is a good reason to cut taxes and buy a gun . . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: This guy thinks I’m calling for a revolution, and shooting cops. No, I’m calling for layoffs in the police force, with armed citizens protecting themselves from crime instead. Amusingly, he compounds his error by lumping me in with the Murray Rothbard crowd. Good grief.

MORE ON OBAMA’S SMALL-TOWN SCREWUP, from Tom Maguire.

Plus this: “Obama To Rural Pennsylvanians: Vote For Me, You Corncob-Smokin’, Banjo-Strokin’ Chicken-Chokin’ Cousin-Pokin’ Inbred Hillbilly Racist Morons.” That’ll sell. Can’t anybody play this game?

UPDATE: Still more:

Barack Obama has done what Democratic candidates for president invariably do — he has revealed the profound sense of unearned superiority that is the sad and persistent hallmark of contemporary liberalism. Obama’s statement today that small-town folk “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations” may be the most distilled example of this train of thought I’ve ever seen.

I still think that knocking the anti-trade stuff is pretty hypocritical given Barack’s own position. And wasn’t it just the other day he was telling us he’s the pro-gun candidate?

I once saw Alan Dershowitz argue an appeal back when I was a law clerk. He made clear from the beginning that he thought he was the smartest guy in the room — which, as one of the other clerks remarked later, proved that he wasn’t. He lost. Must be a Harvard Law thing . . . .

MORE STILL: Heh: Obama Reaches Out to Bitter Religious Pennsylvanians.

Mickey Kaus:

I used to think working class voters had conservative values because they were bitter about their economic circumstances–welfare and immigrants were “scapegoats,” part of the false consciousness that would disappear when everyone was guaranteed a good job at good wages. Then I left college. …

And follow the link for Michael Lind’s comment: “Hunting is part of working-class American culture. Does Obama really think that working-class whites in Pennsylvania were gun control liberals until their industries were downsized?” How would he know otherwise?

Plus, “Let’s have a national dialogue about egghead condescension!” It’s got to work better for Obama than the dialogue about race has . . . .

SADR BLINKS: “Six days after the Iraqi government launched Operation Knights’ Charge in Basrah against the Mahdi Army and other Iranian-backed Shia terror groups, Muqtada al Sadr, the Leader of the Mahdi Army, has called for his fighters to lay down their weapons and cooperate with Iraqi security forces. Sadr’s call for an end to the fighting comes as his Mahdi Army has taken serious losses since the operation began. . . . Since the fighting began on Tuesday 358 Mahdi Army fighters were killed, 531 were wounded, 343 were captured, and 30 surrendered. The US and Iraqi security forces have killed 125 Mahdi Army fighters in Baghdad alone, while Iraqi security forces have killed 140 Mahdi fighters in Basra.” But it’s likely a blink, not a major defeat.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey: Remind me again — who’s losing in Basra? “Did our media give anyone this context? No. They reported it as some kind of spontaneous eruption of rebellion without noting at all that a nation can hardly be considered sovereign while its own security forces cannot enter a large swath of its own territory. And in the usual defeatist tone, they reported that our mission in Iraq had failed without waiting to see what the outcome of the battle would be.” No surprise there — that’s what they do every time.

MORE: Heh: “The speed at which the MSM went from ignoring Iraq to proclaiming that we were losing was actually pretty impressive. I didn’t know they could move that fast any more. But when they had to back up their narrative of our loss with facts like ‘230 people have died in Iraq because of this latest battle’ (not saying where those 230 people were or which side they were on) I knew that the good guys were winning.” It’s like deciphering coverage in the old Soviet newspapers.

BATTLING EDS: Ed Cone says Ed Morrissey is wrong about the media coverage. But one of Cone’s commenters disagrees. The NPR coverage I’ve heard was of a similar tone, though I do remember thinking the other day that if this was an effort to stage a Tet it was failing, because NPR spent more time on a story about contaminated Mozzarella in Italy than on the fighting in Iraq.

STILL MORE: Media criticism from Abu Muqawama.

MORE STILL: The Mudville Gazette: “Few have noticed that this round of fighting – the heaviest occurring in Basra and reportedly with flare ups primarily in the Iraqi-controlled southern provinces – is a fair approximation of what both Democratic Presidential candidates (and most everyone else in America from the President on down) desire for a future US military role in Iraq – providing a support function to Iraqi combat troops. Within the next week we’ll have some idea of how close to reality that goal is.”

Plus, comments from Dean Esmay.

AND MORE: Reader Thomas Wictor suggests that this video explains why Sadr backed down:

Intense firefight in Sadr City in a raid conducted by Iraqi and Coalition special forces. It appears that most of the vehicles and troops are Iraqis.

Don’t let all the pundits and analysts fool you: the JAM is now seriously outgunned by the Iraqi security forces.

Given this level of firepower, do you really think Maliki would “cave in” to al Sadr the way the media is spinning it?

The whole video is shot in Infrared, and it’s interesting how you can see the targeting lasers all over. Michael Yon was just telling me about that the other day, but this is the first time I’ve seen it.

ROMNEY suspends his campaign.

UPDATE: Mark Hemingway: “Just finished watching Romney’s terrific speech, and I bet a lot of people are wishing that he displayed more of that inspirational quality and verve in the campaign.”

Also here: “He’s giving an amazing speech. A really, really good speech – unlike any that I’ve seen him give during the course of this campaign. . . . He’s speaking with passion and conviction. Now that it’s over. For some reason, it seems like Romney seemed free only to be himself once it was over.” Video here.

WHITHER (OR WITHER?) THE GOP? Bill Quick has been soliciting ideas for a third party. And lots of people — even Tom Delay — are saying they’ll stay home if the wrong guy gets nominated. Even Rush Limbaugh is saying he might not support the nominee.

Well, I’ve already said I’d vote for Hillary over Huckabee, but I’m not a Republican so that’s not as newsworthy. But the GOP folks seem pretty unhappy. Weirdly, a lot of people are unhappy that Fred Thompson isn’t running well, but not a lot of people seem to have, you know, actually voted for, or donated to, Fred.

A lot of that’s Thompson’s own fault — I mentioned before that in my dealings with the campaign they seemed utterly disorganized. And I just got a copy of Townhall magazine in the mail, and Bill O’Reilly is saying the same thing. Blowing things with the Glenn & Helen Show is one thing, but blowing off O’Reilly is another. Thompson’s good on policy, and I like him, but he’s run a lousy campaign so far. Still, Thompson aside you’re left with four Republicans of the less-than-conservative variety: McCain (good on the war, but what about immigration, campaign finance, etc.), Rudy (abortion, gun control, etc.), Romney (abortion, gun control, etc.) and Huckabee (“I’m from the government and I’m here to help!”). So you can see why people are unhappy.

Some people think it’s time to teach the party a lesson. Fine, but I thought 2006 was supposed to do that. Did they learn anything? Seems to me that things are about what they were when I put up my pre-mortem post that had Limbaugh exercised. (For that matter, did losing in 2000 and 2004 improve the Democrats? What, exactly, have they learned that led to the Hillary/Edwards/Obama offering? Are political parties capable of really learning?)

People will make up their minds closer to the date. Meanwhile, here’s a suggestion: If you care about saving the Republican Party, don’t blog about it. Get to work at the local and state level. Push your views, and find and promote candidates you like. Meanwhile, my earlier thoughts about culture and politics are still relevant. If you feel that way, then focus your energies there. But either way, don’t expect a candidate to be all you want. They seldom are, in my experience.

But note that neither political party is producing high-quality leadership, and that’s been the pattern for a while, even as we’ve lowered the bar on what counts as quality. That’s a systemic problem, and it’s bigger than what’s going on with either party, or any particular election.

UPDATE: “Isn’t it remarkable how quickly zero becomes normal?” Okay, different topic, but it fit.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Mark Martin emails:

I don’t know, Professor Reynolds. The whole “I’ll sit things out because no candidate fits my litmus test(s) 100%” seems infantile.

Particularly given the threat of Islamofascism and (perhaps even more importantly) the possibility of THREE Supreme Court appointments.

Maybe the folks who want to sit things out need to sit down and ask Hillary/Barack/John their plans for Iraq? For dealing with terrorism? For appointing Supreme Court justices?

And saying that McCain or Romney wouldn’t do much better isn’t a genuine answer, because it is not true. Pointing out squishy appointments in the past (Stevens by Gerald Ford) is a justification that seems forced to me.

Sitting out the election *assures* a Democratic victory in the Presidency, Senate, and House. And what it sounds like to me is “…so things will go awfully and then folks will come running back to REAL conservatism…”

And that is not a mature attitude. I’m nobody important, but it sounds precisely like my seven year old on the playground.

You gotta do what you gotta do. But figuring out what you gotta do — well, that’s not for sissies.

MORE: Reader Richard Rollo emails:

I chuckle at the idea of “teaching the Republicans a lesson.” When I was a Democrat, we thought we were teaching the Democrats a lesson but every year they would forget. Politicians are more like cats than dogs, and we all know that cats only learn what they decide to learn.

It’s all explained here.

STILL MORE: Reader Alex Bensky emails:

I don’t claim to represent anyone but myself. For what it’s worth I am a lifelong Democrat and not just as a political rooting interest. I was active in Teen Dems, Young Dems, on the county committee, etc. And in the Michigan primary I voted for the candidate I want to win in November, John McCain. I probably would vote for any likely Republican candidate except Huckabee.

I did so because in this election I’m a one-issue voter: national security. I don’t have any confidence in either of the likely Democratic candidates on this issue, and I even no confidence at all in their advisors, especially Obama’s.

As I watch the campaign I am often reminded of Elmer Davis’s remark that “the first requirement of any society is that it win its wars.” As a corollary, a society needs to recognize that it is in a war and want to win it.

True enough. As I predicted a while back, I think the fact that the war is going better has caused people to focus more on other issues, which is bad for the GOP.

SNAPPY ANSWERS TO SILLY QUESTIONS ABOUT GUNS: (1) We don’t allow felons or the mentally ill to carry guns. Iran seems to fit in to this category . . .

(2) Suits against gun manufacturers are an attempt by government officials to circumvent the political process, using tort law to do what they can’t do via legislation because the voters oppose it. I don’t think that applies to my example at all.

I’ll add that I’m pretty sure that nobody in the Omaha mall was thinking, “Good thing the crazy guy is the only one here with a gun.”