Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kleptocrats of the World, Unite!

His name isn't Barton, but he is certainly a Fink: Newly installed economic dictator Timothy Geithner.

Perhaps the only commendable thing newly installed Economic Dictator (and Barton Fink lookalike) Tim Geithner has done in a public career otherwise devoted to serving the Power Elite was to
"cheat" on his taxes.

Given that taxation is theft, "cheating" the taxman is bit like refusing to disclose every hidden pocket of household wealth to an armed robber.

Unless they're sick unto death with some form of collectivist psychosis, Americans submit to government taxation for the same reason they would pay off any other irresistibly powerful extortionist.

At some point in any conversation about taxes someone, acting with smugly misplaced confidence in the power of cliche, will deploy
Justice Holmes' dictum about taxes being "the price we pay for civilization."

Actually, taxes are the price extracted from us by those determined to undermine civilization, which is built on the peaceful, mutually enriching exchange of knowledge, goods, services, sound traditions, and culture among people of goodwill.

As Justice Holmes would have understood, had he not been a blinkered positivist and deranged militarist, taxation is what fuels the forces of barbarism -- the Warmakers, empire-builders, and practitioners of public plunder in all of its malignant varieties.

The "civilizing" deeds of such people are measured by the graveyards they have filled, the prisons and gallows they have built, and the number of names listed in the obscene war memorials they erect in their own honor, if that word applies. All of these depredations are made possible by taxation.

By way of contrast, all of the genuinely civilized functions of life -- those that take place in families, churches, the marketplace, and private associations of shared interest -- require not a farthing in taxes.

famously lamented the work of imperialists who make a desert and call it "peace." In the same fashion, tax-fed Kleptocrats impose systems of official plunder, corruption, and violence and call it "civilization."

As a young man at Kissinger Associates (KA), Geithner was deeply involved in brokering the kind of "civilized" deals the Power Elite thrives on. Among other things, Kissinger's influence-peddling operation helped arrange the Iraq War: It promoted the U.S. taxpayer-subsidized Iraqi arms build-up while simultaneously representing the state-owned Kuwaiti Petroleum Corporation.

Kleptocrat as Imperial Proconsul:
L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in occupied Iraq, makes his rounds under the watchful eyes of his Blackwater Praetorian Guard.

One of Geithner's associates at that enigmatic firm was L. Paul Bremer, who went on to become the imperial proconsul in "liberated" Iraq following the second Gulf War. Bremer has followed a pretty conventional Kleptocratic career arc: He ended up presiding over the "reconstruction" of a country whose demolition he and his KA comrades had helped to arrange.

This proved to be immensely profitable to Geithner's kleptocratic cronies, who were in a position to benefit from no-bid, "cost-plus" contracts and the other lucrative scams that proliferated during the festive orgy of official corruption called the "reconstruction" of Iraq. Oh, sure: Iraq itself was left -- and remains today -- a wrecked and ruined land. But at least the Lords of Plunder made out pretty well.

Geithner is pursuing a career trajectory similar to Bremer's, albeit in a slightly different field. In the years leading up to his coronation as Treasury Secretary,
Geither was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. This means he was a member in good standing in the world's most important criminal syndicate, the Federal Reserve System. It also means he spent a good part of his public career abetting the destruction of the economy he now has been given dictatorial powers to "save."

The Fed's loose money and credit policies created the inflationary boom and led to the ongoing economic bust.
Since the bust began, Geithner's chief priority has been to pillage the earnings of poor and middle-class Americans on behalf of the super-wealthy and politically connected. His first service of that kind came early last summer, when he helped devise a $29 billion taxpayer-backed bailout of the mortally wounded Bear Stearns investment house.

At the time, both Geithner and the Capo of his criminal order, Ben Bernanke, insisted that with that bailout the investment markets had been stabilized, and the economic downturn had been arrested. That was seven months and at least $3 trillion (and probably as much as $8 trillion) in taxpayer-backed bailouts ago.

During that time, Congress
enacted a measure giving the Treasury Secretary -- acting in collusion with the Fed Chairman -- unlimited and unaccountable power to appropriate "bailout" funds, and disburse them as he sees fit, without congressional review or accountability of any kind.

The power of economic "reconstruction" has thus been vested in two of the chief demolitionists of the world economy, one of whom, Mr. Geithner, belongs to
an uber-secret clique of central bankers and Keynesian socialists called the Group of 30. Not to put too fine a point on the matter, this group isn't composed of the kind of people whose sleep is troubled by concerns about the impact of their machinations on the civilized affairs of Main Street.

Given his vita and associations, there's every reason to believe that Geithner will use the means at his disposal to siphon the wealth that remains in our economy into the hands of the international Plunderbund. Perhaps the only genuinely interesting question left is this: What will parasites of his kind do once they have killed their host?

On sale now!

Dum spiro, pugno!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Torture State Endures

(Posted for purposes of illustration only; not intended as an advertisement.)

From Locke to Schlock: The t-shirt on the left, a juvenile celebration of the Khmer Rouge's favorite torture tactic, is a suitable illustration of what contemporary conservatism is all about.

Nil desperandum, conservative defenders of the Torture State.

The institutions of the Imperial Executive remain intact. And although the Soviet- and Nazi-inspired "enhanced interrogation techniques" ("verscharfte verernehmung," in the original German) have been put on the shelf, there is every reason to expect that they will quietly be pulled back down when the Anointed One, the Last Son of Krypton, He Who Will Bring Balance to the Force, even Barack the Blessed, considers them necessary.

You see, the key to understanding Obama's method of consolidating power is this: When he speaks, the masses listen to the "music" and ignore the lyrics. Blessed with a mellifluous voice and an appealing mien, Obama has a gift -- I'm tempted to call it Reaganesque -- for political misdirection.

His thematic pronouncements on matters of principle resonate so strongly with the hopes of his most ardent supporters, and even some cynics, that little notice is taken of slight but important discordances in the substance of his actions.

In the specific matter of torture, all
Obama's executive order has done is to suspend the CIA's use of patently illegal torture techniques and to move "expeditiously" to close down illegal torture facilities -- pending the announcement of new policies on these matters by a special panel that won't report its findings for at least six months. Until then, interrogations will be conducted in harmony with the restrictions of the U.S. Army Field Manual, and the requirements of Common Article III of the Geneva Conventions.

The interagency task force on detention and interrogation will be headed by the Attorney General and include the Secretary of State, the heads of the Homeland Security Department, the CIA, and the National Intelligence Agency, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and any other officials the chairman considers necessary. It's entirely likely that this entirely establishmentarian body will end up recommending that Obama embrace some attenuated form of the Cheney approach to "Homeland Security" through torture, all-encompassing surveillance, summary detention, and targeted assassination.

That was, after all, the advice the Beltway media was urging on Obama just prior to his inauguration. Now the same media resound in psalms of praise for Obama's "clean break" with the Bush Regime, and restoration of America's moral standing.
To judge from the hosannas being sung in Obama's praise by the "progressive" choir, and the shrill choruses of despair emanating from the Bushified Right, one would think that the new president had made the Augean Stables as pristine as a NASA white room. However, as an unnamed Obama adviser told Newsweek, "All we've done for now is set up a process."

A "process," as the term is understood in Washington, will almost always result in the qualified institutionalization of something previously considered unthinkable. After all, where the Feds are concerned, the powers of government can only expand, never contract -- and the powers accumulated by the Chief Executive under the lamentable reign of Bush the Dimmer will be considered simply too useful to discard by Obama and his colleagues, whose self-assigned
mission is nothing less than to reconfigure American society.

That kind of thing, after all, will require a government that can be painfully insistent when it encounters resistance.

Lethal instrument of the imperial executive's will: A CIA-operated Predator drone deploys a Hellfire missile.

Less than 72 hours after Obama's halting, stumbling public recital of the presidential oath (I suspect the words "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the united States" burned on his tongue), he underwent the now-familiar presidential rite of passage by becoming a war criminal. Specifically, Obama ordered a lethal airstrike using a Predator drone against a target in Pakistan, a country with whom we are not at war, but toward which Obama has expressed aggressive intentions.

This attack, in which several children were killed, was counter-productive in addition to being illegal: Pakistan is teetering on the brink of succumbing to an Islamist revolt, which would make it the first nuclear-armed Jihadist state. Repeated U.S. incursions and airstrikes have done nothing to enhance that country's stability.

Which means that it's no surprise that the Predator strikes are carried out by the same CIA whose powers Mr. Obama is supposedly seeking to curtail. (Overthrowing bad governments in favor of worse ones has long been a CIA specialty.)
And, most critically, the strike was carried out in secrecy, without congressional authorization -- apart, that is, from the same 2001 "Authorization for Use of Military Force" that the Bush Regime used as an Enabling Act for the Imperial Presidency.

Also significant is the fact that Obama, who supported the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program in the Senate, filed an appeal with a federal judge in San Francisco "to set aside a ruling in a closely watched spy case weighing whether a U.S. president may bypass Congress and establish a program of eavesdropping on Americans without warrants," reported Wired news.

That eavesdropping program, ritually described by Bush and his defenders as limited to scrutiny of international communications involving "legitimate" terrorist suspects, actually
encompassed practically all forms of electronic communication by tens of millions of Americans, including telephone calls, e-mails, financial transactions, and anything else susceptible to interception by the National Security Agency.

“It didn't matter whether you were in Kansas, in the middle of the country, and you never made foreign communications at all," explains NSA defector/whistleblower Russell Tice. "They monitored all communications.”
Obama, the supposed paladin of civil liberties, is determined to preserve this totalitarian surveillance program.

Yes, there may be modest or even significant adjustments in the implementation of the imperial agenda. Some of the most visible barbarities might end, or at least appear to. A certain superficial gentility might replace the pugnacious ignorance that characterized the Bush-era executive branch.

Where the powers and purposes of the imperial state are concerned, however, these are merely cosmetic enhancements and refinements of technique; it's a bit like giving a cannibal a makeover and teaching him to use flatware.

On sale now!

Dum spiro, pugno!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

At Least They Didn't Name Him "Sue" (Breaking News Update Below)

Love and death, or as they're known in Greek, Eros and Thanatos.

"Come here, Thanatos," called the young father, beckoning to a small boy who had surrendered himself unconditionally to an arcade game.

In my astonishment, I performed a double-take of almost comical magnitude, thereby fumbling my attempt to keep my pinball in play.

"You named your child
Thanatos?" I said, a blend of puzzlement and pity coloring the question.

"Yeah," the dad replied, visibly proud of his cleverness. "It means --"

"I know
what it means," I interrupted in what I hoped was a neutral voice. "I just hadn't expected to encounter a child with that name."

That shopping mall encounter took place twenty years ago. Apart from his bizarre choice of a name for his son, the young father displayed no visible signs of derangement. The boy was energetic, playful, and outgoing, and obviously loved his father.

Yet I can't help but suspect that under the right conditions today, the child would have been seized by child "protection" bureaucrats, who would consider naming a child after the god of death to be
prima facie evidence of parental unsuitability.

Adolf Hitler Campbell (center) and his parents Heath and Deborah.

For reasons only they know, and haven't chosen to share with the rest of us, Holland Township, New Jersey residents Heath and Deborah Campbell named their oldest child Adolf Hitler Campbell.

His younger sisters are named Joyce Lynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honszlnn Hinnler Jeannie Campbell, the latter name apparently an illiterate tribute of some sort to SS Chief Heinrich Himmler.

Mr. and Mrs. Campbell -- both of whom are disabled, unemployed, and receive welfare subsidies -- insist that they are not Nazi sympathizers. There is compelling evidence that they are avid publicity seekers. Their child made international headlines a few weeks ago when they demanded an apology from the management of a local grocery store when its bakery refused to inscribe Adolf's full given name on a birthday cake (a customer request that was eventually carried out by a Wal-mart).

About two weeks ago, child "protection" bureaucrats from the New Jersey Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) materialized in the Campbell household in the company of a police officer. Referring to a conveniently anonymous report alleging some unspecified "imminent danger" to the kids, the DYFS child-nappers seized the Campbell children and placed them in foster care.

Sgt. John Harris of the Holland Township Police was the officer assigned to accompany the child-nappers "to keep the peace and protect the [social] workers," as he told ABC News. Harris points out that the couple had not been charged with any crime. Nor was he aware of any complaint that had been lodged against either parent for any form of domestic abuse or neglect.

In fact, the police officer, who has known Mr. Campbell for a decade, could actually serve as a character witness: "Just from knowing Mr. Campbell from the past ten or so years, I've never known him to abuse his children, and when he has talked about his children he has been very much into his kids. [He's] very loving."

This characterization is supported by Harris's boss, Police Chief Van Gilson. "He loves his kids -- there are no ifs, ands or buts about that," Gilson told the New York Times, adding that Heath Campbell "broke down" on hearing that his children were to be seized and taken away.

These comments summon an important question: Since the Campbells are innocent of any crime, and no complaints had been filed with the police,
why did Sgt. Harris permit the DYFS officials to abduct the children? His moral and constitutional responsibility was to prevent the kidnapping of the Campbell children, not to act as an armed accomplice to it.

The role played by Sgt. Harris in this crime illustrates a fact that simply cannot be repeated too often: In our system, the police do not exist to defend our rights, but rather to enforce the will of the nearest state functionary who claims the "authority" to violate our rights.

The Campbells have odd and reprehensible taste in names for their children, certainly. But it was the
conduct of Sgt. Harris -- who was only following the orders of his superiors -- that displayed the same authoritarian conformity that facilitated the evil acts carried out by the National Socialist regime.

New Jersey DYFS spokeswoman Kate Bernyk insists that "We wouldn't remove a child based on their name," and maintains that some unspecified "danger" prompted the removal of the children from an eccentric but by all accounts loving home. True to form, the agency has shut the children off from parental contact, slapped a gag order on the parents, and started the familiar tactic of drawing out legal hearings in the matter as long as possible.

The isolation of the children and the use of dilatory measures will help the agency create an after-the-fact rationale for its kidnapping, thereby justifying either permanent separation of the children or the imposition of a "parenting plan" to re-educate Heath and Deborah Campbell regarding their parental roles.

Not including their traumatic separation from their parents at gunpoint, there is only one documented sense in which the children have been recently endangered: Somebody sent a death threat to the parents. If this is the "imminent danger" DYFS refers to, then finding and prosecuting the author of the death threat is the appropriate course of action, rather than breaking up a viable family.

A fertile, and frequently evil, mind: H.G. Wells, popularizer of the Fabian agenda for war and totalitarianism.

The fact that the Campbell household is entirely dependent on government transfer payments italicizes one little-understood facet of the Welfare State: The same government that pays to feed and shelter the children implicitly claims them as its property, and stands prepared to exercise that claim whenever its functionaries see fit to do so.
This principle was laid out with admirable frankness by H.G. Wells (yes, that H.G. Wells), a supporter of Britain's Fabian Socialist movement, in his 1919 book New Worlds for Old.

After briefly describing the challenges, privations, and problems afflicting British families, Wells informed his reader that "Socialism comes not to destroy but to save" the family through firm but benevolent state intervention.
"Socialism regards parentage under proper safeguards ... as `not only a duty but a service' to the state; that is to say, it proposes to pay for good parentage -- in other words, to endow the home," he elaborated.

The Fabian program, continued Wells, was to provide welfare subsidies primarily through the mother. This had -- from the collectivist perspective -- the very useful effect of making the state the
de facto father of welfare children. It also turned the mother into a kind of state concubine; sure, the father retained certain marital prerogatives, but where raising the children was concerned, the mother was to be accountable to the state, on pain of separation from her offspring.

Wells didn't hestitate to spell this out explicitly: "Neglect [the children], ill-treat them, prove incompetent, and your pay will cease, and we shall take them away from you and do what we can for them...."
Who is to determine when a parent is "incompetent"?

In the arrangement Wells describes -- which is integral to every welfare state extant, our own emphatically included -- that decision would be made by bureaucrats who have strong institutional incentives to rule against parental authority.

It should surprise nobody that Germany's National Socialist welfare/warfare state operated on exactly the same principles. Hitler and his clique earned the support of many traditionalist Germans by condemning the Communist assault on conventional social institutions.

However, as G.K. Chesterton, the Catholic social commentator who was a passionate critic of all forms of collectivism, pointed out, the National Socialist approach was just as inimical to parental rights and the traditional home:

"Hitler's way of defending the independence of the family is to make every family dependent on him and his semi-Socialist State; and to preserve the authority of parents by authoritatively telling all the parents what to do.... In other words, he appears to interfere with family life more even than the Bolshevists do; and to do it in the name of the sacredness of the family."

To examine the case of the Campbell family is to collide with the irony that it is the supposed protectors of the Campbell children who are acting on collectivist assumptions identical to those of the Nazis. To be sure, naming a child after a Nazi is in incomprehensible bad taste -- but isn't acting like a Nazi under the color of government authority a much more serious offense?

Furthermore, it would be helpful if the Regime's child welfare directorate would make up its collectivist mind regarding the parental rights of people devoted to totalitarian icons.

Less than a decade has passed since theApril 2000 raid on the home in Miami's "Little Havana" where then-seven-year-old Elian Gonzalez, who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Communist Cuba, was staying with relatives. Elian and his mother were part of a small group of Cubans who fled to Florida in ramshackle boats that were barely seaworthy. Elian was the sole survivor after his mother was claimed by the sea.

For two days the child was adrift alone before being rescued bywo commercial fishermen. In what many regarded as nothing short of a divine miracle, Elian was found -- on Thanksgiving Day, 1999 -- in the middle of protective pod of dolphins that sheltered the struggling child from sharks.
Once in Miami, Elian was embraced by his mother's extended family.

His father Juan Miguel Gonzalez -- whose marital and legal status at the time of these events was ambiguous -- demanded that he be given custody of Elian, who would be compelled to return to Cuba. The Castro regime orchestrated street protests in support of Juan Miguel's claims -- not because the Cuban government recognizes and respects parental rights, of course, but because it claimed Elian as its own property.

A father's rights are not contingent on the soundness of his religious or ideological views, so it would have been improper to dismiss Juan Miguel's petition for custody simply because he was an active member of the Cuban Communist Party. Given the fact that he had divorced Elian's mother, however, there was some legitimate question as to whether he was the
legal custodial parent. With Elian in a secure, comfortable, loving environment, the custodial issues could have been worked out carefully and proper deliberation.

However, the same Clinton Regime that massacred dozens of children at Waco in April 1993 wasn't willing to grant the necessary time for these issues to be settled rationally and equitably. Its designated "expert" on Elian's state of mind, pediatrician Irwin Redlener, insisted that Elian was in "immediate danger" and "suffering from psychological abuse" by living with relatives whose love and concern for him were palpable.

Poor, abused little Elian Gonzalez, seen here suffering at Disneyland with his stern and forbidding cousin, Marisleysis.

It mattered not that Redlener, whose name must be one of history's whimsical little puns, was neither a psychiatrist nor a psychologist, and that he had never met Elian in person: His was the voice of government "authority" in the matter. So Attorney General Janet Reno, the same maniacal virago who had approved of the assault on Mt. Carmel with tanks and poison gas, ordered a pre-dawn paramilitary assault on the Miami home of Lazaro Gonzalez, Elian's uncle.

The attack -- which was "authorized" by a spurious search warrant -- took place on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter, a holy day for Cuban Catholics. It was also a high holy day for Communists of both the Cuban and Clintonian varieites -- April 22, Lenin's Birthday, the Marxist equivalent of Christmas.

Wielding machine guns and clad in body armor, a squad of eight federal stormtroopers used a battering ram to beat down the front door. Trampling underfoot the family's cherished religious icons, the "child rescuers" painted the foreheads of Elian's unresisting relatives with their laser sights while spitting out such compassionate suggestions as "Give us the f*****g boy or we'll shoot you."

A visibly terrified Elian was pried, at gunpoint, from the arms of Donato Dalyrymple, the same fisherman who had plucked the boy from the ocean six months earlier.

Elian was reunited with his biological father, and -- more to the point -- taken into the proprietary embrace of the Cuban state, which now treats him as a cherished icon of the revolution, which was the whole point of this exercise (in addition, perhaps, to demonstrating that precious little of substance separates the Regime in Washington from the one in Havana).

Because he is so valuable to the regime as a symbol, Elian enjoys privileges not available to typical Cuban children.
Whatever his father's intentions may have been, Elian has been used to embody the regime's dogma that all Cuban children are the property of the revolution.

This was explained to me in some detail by Rev. Oscar Bolioli, who in 2000 was head of the office on Latin America and the Carribbean for the National Council of Churches (NCC). Although it claims to be an association of Christian churches, the NCC's ruling ideology is a kind of paleozoic Stalinism; its Trinity is Marx, Lenin, and Castro.

Bolioli was arrestingly blunt in reciting the Communist doctrine of
parens patriae. While Elian's father had a limited role in supervising the child's upbringing, this had to be done in the interests of socialism, Bolioli insisted. "The state is trying to give the socialist mentality to the child because that is what is necessary for the basic good of society," he explained. "This is why the state has to limit the decision-making power of people."

Ah, yes -- this is so much better than Disneyland: Castro takes ownership of Elian, seen here wearing the neckerchief of the Communist "Young Pioneers."

When I asked him why the Cuban state refused to permit the free emigration of people -- such as Elian's mother and his relatives still residing there -- Bolioli replied: "In Cuba's Marxist system, it is understood that the human resources are to serve that society, rather than
other societies. It is understood that Cubans must render service to that community."

It seems clear to me that the reason the Clinton Regime acted with such potentially lethal urgency to seize Elian was not to vindicate Juan Miguel's parental rights, but rather to prevent Elian from losing the "socialist mentality" he had begun to develop in Cuba -- the willingness to consider himself a "human resource" to be used by that state as it saw fit. That is, after all, the same mindset that collectivists of the Clinton/Obama variety are trying to cultivate here in the U.S. as well.

Living among resolutely anti-Communist relatives in Little Havana, Elian was "in danger" of developing individualist tendencies that would have complicated matters dramtically. So Janet Reno sent in the stormtroopers.
All of this was done, remember, to prevent the "abuse" of this seven-year-old by removing him from a totalitarian environment.

Now, in the case of the Campbell family, the same child-snatcher apparatus (let's dispense with the idea that we're dealing with anything other than a monolith here) has seized three children from parents who named them after the leaders or adherents of a long-dead and unlamented totalitarian regime.

Hypocrisy being the natural consort of tyranny, I suppose this sort of thing should terrify but not surprise us.

Breaking News Update

Whoop, there it is.

From today's Boston Globe:

"A man accused of a horrific rape and killing spree told investigators that he was `fighting extinction' of the white race and had stockpiled 200 rounds of ammunition to "kill 'nonwhite people' such as African Americans, Hispanics and Jewish people," according to a police report filed today in court."

From this space, January 14 -- Something to keep in mind:

"This is emerging as a standard narrative among federal law enforcement agencies: A plummeting economy + the election of a black president = a racist renaissance and a surging tide of hate crimes.... Given the prominence of federal informant/provocateurs among white supremacist groups it's quite likely that federal seed money is the only thing keeping that movement alive; it's simply too useful an antagonist for the Feds to permit it to die outright."

There's no way to tell if this murderously unbalanced individual was a self-propelled instrument of mayhem, or if someone was pushing his buttons. I wouldn't be surprised to learn, had I sufficient resources to do the necessary excavation work, that he was influenced by one of the racial hate-merchants on the Federal payroll.

On sale now!

Dum spiro, pugno!

Monday, January 19, 2009

In Praise of Paul Blart (Updated, January 21)

It's funny, 'cause it's true: Paul Blart, the unarmed mall security guard hero of the new film, is a more suitable exemplar of the "protect and serve" ethic than the government's armed enforcement agents.

When tyrants rule, jesters often boldly tell truths that falter on the lips of fear-plagued philosophers. Perhaps this explains why, amid the consolidation of a totalitarian Homeland Security State, it fell to Kevin James, gifted comic actor, mixed martial arts fan, and cinematic role model for economy-sized American men, to put into play the notion that we would be better off doing away with government police forces outright, and entrusting security to private citizens and entrepreneurs.

James co-wrote, co-produced, and stars in the new movie Paul Blart: Mall Cop, a modestly produced family comedy whose immense opening weekend success (it took in something north of $34 million, or nearly twice what the studio expected) surprised everyone but the viewing public. Dismissed by most professional critics but warmly reviewed by paying customers, the film displays every indication of becoming the sleeper hit of Hollywood's post-Christmas discard season.

I earnestly hope the film generates a wave of positive word-of-mouth, not only because it is a nearly ideal family film -- genuinely funny and engaging, wholesome without being insipid -- but also because it is gently subversive in promoting the idea that the increasingly militarized government law enforcement system is at best useless.

The audience meets the titular protagonist during fitness trials for applicants to the New Jersey State Police Academy. Short, chubby and visibly on the cusp of middle age, Blart is surprisingly athletic, blowing through the obstacle course with confidence where younger, less motivated applicants falter. But Blart falls just a few feet short of his objective as he is immobilized by a hypoglycemic blackout -- a condition that will plague him throughout the story.

Like many of us whose gravitational profile is less than optimal, Blart has an unfortunate habit of treating food as a refuge from life's indecencies. A single parent to an adorable child (the mother, an illegal immigrant, abandoned father and daughter once her foothold in the U.S. was secure), Blart works long hours as a mall security guard (he prefers the term "security officer," but
allows that there is some controversy over the proper designation).

Customer service:
In a scene from earlier in the film, Officer Blart takes a moment to help a small shopper with a problem.

Owing to his girth, his habit of patrolling while mounted on a Segway-style personal transporter, and -- let's be candid -- his job, Blart endures what sometimes seems like an incessant onslaught of demeaning, even emasculating moments. But he remains cheerful, helpful, and generous, doing whatever he can to make things easier for the paying customers.

While he speaks often about protecting the safety of mall patrons and merchants, it's clear from his actions that he understands the importance of facilitating commerce. Unfortunately, Blart aspires to be a state trooper, which might explain some of the mistakes he makes early in the film -- such as threatening to issue a "speeding citation" to a senior citizen in a motorized wheelchair, or to make a "citizen's arrest" of a turbulent woman at Victoria's Secret.

The latter incident ends with the woman -- whose size and body composition are similar to Blart's -- thrashing the hapless security guard, not because Blart is unable to handle her but because he simply will not, under any circumstances, assault a woman.

The civilized self-restraint displayed by this fictional security guard contrasts very well with the documented behavior of too many real-life government police hooligans.

He's scared, but he's not running away: Officer Blart conducts a recon of the hostage site (left), and leads several pursuing robbers into an ambush (below, right).

While making his rounds just prior to Thanksgiving, Blart has what movie people call a "meet cute" with a pretty wig merchant named Amy, but the romantic possibilities initially appear to be stymied by developments I won't describe here.

When "Black Friday" -- the day after Thanksgiving, the busiest retail shopping day of the year -- rolls around, Blart is at his post, helping the gears of commerce turn smoothly. A video arcade proprietor, eager to go to the bank before it closes down, asks Blart to "mind the store" briefly. Blart is thus lost in the aural jungle of video game noises when a crack team of armed robbers shut down the mall, drive out the paying customers, and seize hostages at the bank -- including Amy.

When the cops arrive, their tentative and by-the-books effort to enter the mall is quickly repulsed. The police contact Blart, tell him about the hostage situation, and urge him to join them behind a secure perimeter. As he reaches the exit, Blart espies something that forces him back inside: Amy's 1965 Ford Mustang.

Blart doesn't know exactly what he will do, but he's not about to leave Amy in the hands of the criminals. So, in violation of the Prime Directive for government police -- "officer" safety uber alles -- Blart screws up his courage to a sticking place, downs the contents of a Pixie Stick to ward off hypoglycemia, and heads back into the mall to confront the evildoers.

Not only is this a satisfying dramatic choice by the protagonist -- who at this point officially becomes a hero, whatever the outcome -- it also acts as an oblique rebuke to the familiar police approach to hostage situations: Call in the SWAT team, which will take forever establishing a "secure perimeter" while innocent, unarmed people are at the mercy of armed criminals.

Middle-aged portly guys REPRE-SENT! In a scene straight out of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull or Quantum of Solace, the Blartster takes down a bad guy, sending the two of them crashng through a skylight and hurtling from a lethal height. (Don't worry, their fall is broken in a family-friendly way.)

After Blart decides to rescue the hostages, the film becomes a family-friendly but surprisingly tense palimpsest of Die Hard, as Blart out-thinks, out-maneuvers, and out-fights the robbers, who are a pack of feral X-athletes. "The mind is the only weapon that doesn't need a holster," Blart tells a trainee earlier in the film (who appears later in a somewhat surprising capacity). Blart's mind is whetted to a fine edge by his desire to protect something in which he was fully invested -- the task of protecting a business he valued, a woman with whom he might fall in love, and eventually his daughter, who finds herself among the hostages later in the film.

Describing the film beyond this summary would take us into spoiler territory. Suffice it to say that the third act did something I hadn't expected, and was delighted to see: It depicted the utter uselessness of the paramilitary goon squads called SWAT teams in dealing with hostage crises, and actually offered a compelling illustration of the opportunities for corruption presented by militarized law enforcement.

I will spoil one element of the ending: Offered an immediate posting to the New Jersey State Police, Blart turns down government "work" in favor of what he decided is his true calling -- protecting the businesses of the shopping mall and the people who spend their hard-earned money there.

It's true what they say about this guy: Walter Peck, the federal bureaucrat villain from Ghostbusters.

It was that final development that elevated Paul Blart: Mall Cop onto my list of vital anti-government films. That list includes Ghostbusters, whose villain, Walter Peck, was a bureaucratic eunuch employed by the EPA, and The Simpsons Movie, in which the villain is the entire federal government, as embodied by a deranged corporatist named Russ Cargill ("Sir, I'm afraid you've gone mad with power," cavils an underling, to which Cargill replies that it's boring to go mad without power, since "no one listens to you"), who heads the EPA.

In a less worthy film, Blart would have accepted a government job as a due "reward" for his heroism, thereby graduating from mere private sector work into the exalted realm of official coercion. This is the payoff for which audience expectations had been prepared -- and having the character decline it is a pretty bold statement, albeit probably an unintended one, about the superiority of commerce and private means of security and dispute-settlement.

Other delicious touches season this unexpectedly tasty cinematic offering. The swaggering, gravel-voiced SWAT commander, who shoulders everyone aside and militarizes the hostage stand-off, is revealed to be a middle-aged, unreformed High School bully -- and then something even more unsavory. Given recent scandals in New Jersey involving both corrupt and inept SWAT teams, this depiction is likely to resonate with at least some residents of the Garden State.

Hey, stay safe, guys: Heroic (ahem) SWAT operators visit a Hooter's on the way back from arduous duty in Katrina-ravaged New Orleans.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop is co-produced by Kevin James and Adam Sandler, who have a lot to atone for after inflicting I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry upon the public. They've made a solid downpayment by creating this delightful film, which is both terrifically entertaining and commendable for finding the dignity and even heroism in a private security job that is easily mocked but in principle superior to the state's alternative.

Rather than permitting the State -- the enemy of all human prosperity and social progress -- to monopolize and militarize security functions, we should be dis-establishing government police mechanisms as rapidly as possible and relying on private means (beginning with ubquitous civilian firearms ownership) to provide security for persons and property.

Alas, in the real world we're forced to inhabit, Officer Blart would either be shoved aside by, or assimilated into, some militarized monstrosity like the corporatist (which is to say fascist) police force that patrols Oakland's BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) system. The BART police earned tragic notoriety on New Year's Day owing to the unprovoked lethal shooting of Oscar Grant III, a helpless, unarmed, cooperative young man who was face-down and surrounded by police on a subway platform.



This homicide -- merely the most recent in a string of needless killings by Oakland's BART police, a "public-private police partnership" in the worst sense of the expression -- provided a horrifying reminder that the murderous tactics and official corruption common in government law enforcement quickly infect any nominally private entity seduced into such a "partnership."

Prior to the advent of cellphone cameras, The BART police had been able to cover up and dismiss four very suspicious lethal shootings. The Grant shooting, however, occurred in the YouTube age, which means that this entirely avoidable killing was added to the large and growing corpus of evidence that police today see themselves as, and behave like, an army of occupation -- and the BART police force's familiar cover-up tactics weren't successful.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop is an exercise in cinematic whimsy. But the need for our society to embrace genuinely private security arrangements is a deadly serious one: The state's armed enforcers are rapidly becoming a caste apart from, and supposedly superior to, the public they supposedly serve. Facile as it may seem to say so, it can properly be said that, where maintaining public order is concerned, we are presented with a choice between Blart and BART.

Update, 1/21 --

David Codrea, who compiles the utterly indispensable War On Guns blog, expresses understandable concerns that Paul Blart: Mall Cop is extolling the value of "unarmed protectors" and peddling the reliably lethal myth that "arms are superfluous when confronting violent evil-doers."

As indicated in the very first caption to the essay above, I do think the character of Paul Blart, the central figure in what is, after all, "an exercise in cinematic whimsy," embodies the "protect and serve" ethic, but this isn't because he's unarmed; it's because he's willing to confront the predators immediately, with whatever he can seize upon as a weapon, rather than huddling behind a heavily armed perimeter, as police generally do in hostage situations, waiting for the overkill factor to be high enough to ensure officer safety.

Firearms are vitally important in dealing with malefactors of all varieties. The most dangerous armed criminals are those employed by the state. This is why I was so struck by the fact that the Blart character actually turns down a chance to join the police (read: occupation) force at the end of the film.

While I reject civilian disarmament with every molecule of my being, I'm willing at least to chew on the notion that civic order would be improved if we were to disarm the police, at least while they're acting in an official capacity. There really is no institutional substitute for the practce of armed self-defense.

A quick personal note --

I want to thank everyone who has suggested names for the Grigg family's newest member, who is scheduled to arrive on or around February 6. Korrin and I are really stumped by this one, and we appreciate both your input and your very generous kind wishes.

On sale now!

Dum spiro, pugno!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Bipartisan Homeland Security State

For two years,
Bart McIntyre was deeply involved in the insignificant, thinly populated white supremacist movement.

Though it may be difficult to believe, this actually represented something of an improvement in McIntyre's social circle, since his paying job was a position in one of our country's most repellent criminal syndicates, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Explosives, and Persecution of
Unsanctioned Political and Religious Minorities (or ATF, for the sake of convenience).

Unsavory as their personal beliefs may be, most adherents of the white supremacist movement actually work for a living, unlike the tax-engorged parasites of the ATF. Tiny though that sub-population is, I'll bet that less than one of every 1,000 white supremacists ever commits a crime against the person or property of another human being.
The core mission of the ATF, on the other hand, is to commit various kinds of aggression against gun owners and other harmless people, and the agency is indelibly tainted by its role in the 1993 mass murder at Mt. Carmel.

But this is simply the predictable fruit of a very evil tree. The ATF's progenitors were the properly despised 18th Century "Revenuers" whose haughty impositions helped precipitate the Whiskey Rebellion; the agency also played a key federal enforcement role during the demented quasi-puritanical social experiment called "Prohibition." In that role the agency's immediate ancestor was an appendage of the federal Bureau of Internal Revenue, as the IRS was known at the time.

It was only with the enactment of the Nazi-derived U.S. Gun Control Act of1968 (the German National Socialist pedigree of that measure has been capably documented by Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership) that the ATF blundered into its present role as chief persecutor of law-abiding gun owners and firearms dealers. So it was in his day job as an ATF Special Agent, rather than his part-time deployment undercover in the white supremacist milieu, that McIntyre forged his connections with those devoted to keeping Nazi ideals alive.

As he prepares to retire, McIntyre
has taken the opportunity to warn that the ongoing economic collapse may re-invigorate the moribund white supremacist movement. "In society, you have a very small number of people who are going to push the envelope and take it to the next step" beyond grievance and intemperate talk and into criminal violence.

This is emerging as a standard narrative among federal law enforcement agencies: A plummeting economy + the election of a black president = a racist renaissance and a surging tide of hate crimes.
The Regime's publicity arm has already treated the public to several variations on that theme, even though the evidence to support it is thin to the point of translucency.
The point of all this is not to address a plausible threat, of course, but rather to provide a the proper reductionist framing device so that any tremor of organized resistance to Obama's Neo-New Deal can be
interpreted in terms of racial resentments.

Sic semper tyrannis: ATF agents, after staging an illegal raid of a peaceful church fellowship and getting their asses kicked, retreat in shame. The Branch Davidians were within their moral and legal rights to gun down every single one of the ATF assailants, but to their considerable credit they displayed the Christian trait of mercy, permitting the criminals to gather the bodies of their dead and retrieve their wounded comrades. The Regime displayed no similar leniency in dealing with the Davidians' justified resistance, eventually immolating nearly all of them.

Give the prominence of federal informant/provocateurs among white supremacist groups it's quite likely that federal seed money is the only thing keeping that movement alive; it's simply too useful an antagonist for the Feds to permit it to die outright.

The political conquest of America by white supremacist ideology is about as likely a prospect as a winning streak by the Washington Generals. This doesn't prevent collectivists of a certain ilk --
Philip Roth being a suitably loathsome exemplar -- from peddling the notion that America must always be caught up in a foreign war or similar undertaking in order to domesticate the white population's resilient racism and direct it outward, rather than letting it coalesce into an American Reich. People preoccupied with such concerns don't object to the mechanisms of fascist rule; they simply prefer that those mechanisms be controlled by, and for the benefit of, their faction.

Ironically, or perhaps not, the incipient Obama Regime seems prepared to consolidate many of the fascist-flavored innovations of its predecessor. One very interesting illustration of this continuity is the apparent selection of Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano to serve as the next Commissar for Homeland Security.

Napolitano, who first attracted public attention in 1991 as a legal adviser to Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, is widely perceived as a mildly "progressive" Democrat. But in her career in Arizona, first as a federal attorney and then as Governor, she has displayed an uncanny ability to exploit the racially charged issue of immigration for her political advantage.

Michael Lacey, publisher of the Phoenix New Times, refers to Napolitano's career as a "cocktail of mediocrity," made up of roughly equal parts of incompetence and "rank opportunism." As a state bordering Mexico, Arizona has a very large population of immigrants, both those who arrived through legal channels and those who didn't. It also has a very large and politically organized constituency for immigration reform.

Most -- actually, nearly all -- Arizonans concerned about unchecked immigration are entirely innocent of racial prejudice. A handful are entirely consumed by it. And the state's most successful politician has ruthlessly capitalized on the issue as a way to deflect public attention from his spectacular incompetence and unvarnished corruption, and the cost those attributes have imposed on the taxpayers. The politician in question is Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who would likely be in prison were it not for a favor done long ago by Janet Napolitano.

As the elected head of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO), Arpaio has cultivated a media image as "America's Toughest Sheriff." He has made himself famous by creating and maintaining a county detention system in which various forms of petty belittlement -- such as forcing male inmates to wear pink underwear and eat green bologna -- are inflicted on the inmates, most of whom have yet to be convicted of an actual crime.

Both male and female detainees are forced to work on chain gangs, and those consigned to Arpaio's "Tent City" are deliberately exposed to extremes of climate, which in Arizona can mean temperatures in excess of 110 degrees. (Arpaio seems to take a perverse pleasure in making life especially difficult for female inmates: Until a federal lawsuit forced him to stop, he maintained a jail netcam broadcasting female detainees using the toilet. That fact provides a certain nauseating subtext to Arpaio's publicly expressed desire to have authorities in L.A. extradite Paris Hilton to Arizona to serve out her jail term for DUI-related offenses.)

During the past decade, while Arpaio has labored to make himself a household name, people have been dying in the custody of his deputies. Lawsuits resulting from the death of inmates at the hands of Arpaio's brown-shirted homeboys have cost the county more than $13 million in legal settlements, and a five-fold increase in insurance premiums. Last September, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care revoked its accreditation of the MCSO jails owing to Arpaio's refusal to provide adequate health care to inmates. The following month, U.S. District Judge Neal Wake (a George W. Bush appointee), ruled that the MCSO detention system violated legal standards of inmate treatment. Both the revocation and Judge Neal's ruling will probably result in additional lawsuits.

In 1996, four years after Arpaio was first elected and while Janet Napolitano served as a Clinton-appointed federal prosecutor in Arizona, a petty drug offender named
Scott Norberg was attacked and beaten to death by nearly a dozen county correctional officers. Much of the lethal violence was committed while Norberg was shackled to a torture device called a "restraint chair": Bound and unable to defend himself, Norberg was beaten by the brave men of the MCSO until he died.

Arpaio didn't order the murder of Scott Norberg, but he was deeply involved in the cover-up. "Notes taken the night of the killing were destroyed," writes Phoenix New Times' Michael Lacey. "Critical X-Rays were destroyed. County authorities, under the watchful eye of the sheriff, hid the fact that Norberg's larynx was fractured." What evidence did exist was forwarded to the FBI. The Norberg family's attorney, Michael Manning, provided Napolitano -- by way of her assistant US attorneys -- with much of the evidence that had been suppressed by the MCSO.

And that's where the case died.

Before the investigation found traction, Napolitano was dismissive of Arpaio's critics, insisting that he ran "a strict jail but a safe one."

Arpaio's "progressive" ally Janet Napolitano, soon to be Commissarina of Homeland Security.

The Justice Department's final report, which was issued two years after Napolitano punted on the issue, fleshed out the skeletal term "strict" in interesting ways, noting that excessive and abusive use of force was common and often involved unjustified use of restraint chairs, hog-tying and beating of inmates, and other forms of deadly restraint.

The report likewise scored Arpaio's staffing decisions, which left the jail "below levels needed for safety and human operations."
The Justice Department, as former Arizona Republic reporter Tom Zoellner pointed out in Slate, "filed suit and settled with the sheriff the same day" in exchange for promises of various reforms.

Napolitano was at Arpaio's side when the sheriff called a press conference to call the settlement a personal vindication.
Napolitano, recall, had been handed clear evidence of murder committed under Arpaio's authority, and a criminal conspiracy led by his office cover up that crime; she simply threw it out and refused to prosecute.

The Sheriff would eventually reciprocate by crossing party lines to support Napolitano's subsequent politicall career, first endorsing her bi to become state attorney general and, in 2002, throwing his support to her in a gubernatorial race that was decided by a handful of votes. But this was the least Arpaio could do for the woman whose malfeasance of office not only saved his career, but probably kept him out of prison.

In 2005, Napolitano became the first governor to sign what is called a 287(g) aggreement with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) -- the component of the Homeland Security Department in charge of border enforcement. Agreements of that kind permit state and local law enforcement agencies to take the lead in border enforcement.

And this handed Arpaio a new use for his Tent City: It could now hold immigrants collected during
high-profile sweeps conducted by Arpaio's office, in which people of Mexican ancestry -- citizens, legal residents, and illegal immigrants alike -- are subject to pretext stops and searches by MCSO deputies. These anti-immigrant sweeps are hugely popular with a large segment of Arizona's electorate. It's likely that the popularity of the sweeps would suffer somewhat were the public adequately informed of one very troubling cost incurred by them.

Overkill, cubed: Some of Arpaio's arsenal (left, and below right).

A recent study by the Goldwater Institute entitled "Mission Unaccomplished: The Misplaced Priorities of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office" documents that Arpaio's project of turning the MCSO into an immigration control agency has effectively crippled it as a law enforcement entity.

"MCSO's massive diversion of resources into policing illegal immigration ... coincides with growing rates of violent crimes, plummeting arrest rates, and increased response time to citizens' calls for help," notes the report. "At the same time, [an investigation done by the
Arizona Republic newspaper] found that crime rates in areas that were the subject of saturation [immigration] raids were largely unchanged after the sweeps."

Arpaio's office is the depository for all warrants issued to law-enforcement agencies in Maricopa County. As of September 2008, 77,949 warrants were outstanding, including 42,297 felony warrants. Many, perhaps most, of the felony charges dealt with violent crimes against persons and property.

The soi-disant "toughest sheriff" in the land boldly sends his deputies to drag Mexican mothers from their cars while their children scream in terror, and deploys paramilitary units to seize janitors fromwhile their children scream in terror, or their jobs at Mesa City Library or City Hall.

Meanwhile, actual violent criminals remain free and the crime rate continues to climb -- and Arpaio capitalizes on that latter fact by describing it as a product of unrestricted immigration, rather than a reflection of his own politically opportunistic priorities.

Two recent developments prompted Arpaio to discover, however tardily, the merit of enforcing felony warrants. The first was Napolitano's grudging decision to withhold some state funding from the MCSO until something was done to address the backlog of outstanding warrants. The second was
the development of a "reality television program" featuring the MCSO entitled "Smile! You're Under Arrest."

The program -- a product the Fox network, natch -- features people subject to felony warrants (involving non-violent offenses for the most part) being "punk'd" through elaborate on-camera ruses before being arrested. The process is long, expensive, needlessly complicated, and self-indulgent. To Arpaio, an insatiable publicity whore who cannot resist an opportunity to thrust his unsightly mug in front of a camera, the opportunity to star in his own television show outweighed any practical liabilities.

Endlessly vain and incurably power-intoxicated, Arpaio doesn't venture out in public without being surrounded by a phalanx of grim-faced bodyguards. This is supposedly made necessary because of purported death threats received by the sherriff, at least one of which was a "bomb threat" that was actually contrived by the Sheriff's Office itself.

In October 2007,
Arpaio sent his Selective Enforcement Unit to arrest Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, the owners of the Phoenix New Times, which has produced a steady stream of critical stories examining the sheriff's empire of authoritarian corruption. Lacey and Larkin were charged with publicizing secret grand jury proceedings by publicizing a subponea they had received from the local prosecutor, a priggish authoritarian and Arpaio ally named Andrew Thomas, that demanded, inter alia, "Every note, tape, and record from every story written about Sheriff Arpaio by every reporter over a period of years" as well as "detailed information on anyone who has looked at the New Times Web site since 2004" as well as every individual "individual who looked at any story, review, listing, classified, or retail ad [in the publication] over a period of years."

All of this was part of a campaign of official harassment and intimidation provoked by a
New Times investigation into Arpaio's personal real estate holdings. One story published by the paper gave Arpaio's home address, thereby supposedly posing "a serious and imminent threat" to his personal safety. The charges against Lacey and Larkin were dropped, and the New Times is pursuing a lawsuit against the rogue sheriff and his ally in the County Prosecutor's office.

Arpaio continues to use the powers of his office to punish and intmidate his critics, whether this involves
threatening to arrest reporters for seeking public records about the MCSO or arresting citizens who politely applaud his critics during meetings of the County Board of Supervisors. (People who applauded other speakers at the same event were left unmolested by Arpaio's minions.) Arpaio's preferred tactic is to file "disorderly conduct" charges against people who confront or criticize him or his office; in fact, he's been captured on video trying to provoke a citizen into some act, gesture, or vocal inflection that could be construed as "disorderly":


Just as "progressives" of a certain kind support the exercise of draconian powers against "hate criminals" and peaceful gun owners, conservatives of the Hannity/Savage/Beck variety regard Arpaio to be something of a folk hero. Oh, sure, he's a bit uncouth, they'll admit; he lacks rudimentary social graces and looks as if he combs his hair with buttered toast -- but at least he's doing something to battle the Brown Peril.

There is something of a dialectic at work in the consolidation of the Homeland Security apparatus. During the Clinton era, the embryonic Homeland Security Department focused most of its attention on "home-grown" extremists; this had the useful effect of provoking conservative concerns about due process, the Bill of Rights, and abuses of government power.

During Duhbya's reign, the focus has been on the dreaded "other" -- particularly Muslims and dusky-skinned immigrants from south of the border. This catalyzed resistance among left-leaning civil liberties groups, even as most of the conservative movement embraced many of the same measures they found intolerable under Clinton.

Now, in the name of bipartisanship and national unity under the rule of the Sainted One, even His Holiness Barack Obama, we're likely to see a synthesis of the worst elements from both the Bush and Clinton eras.

As Attorney General, Eric Holder, an unabashed proponent of civilian disarmament and the prosecution of "hate crimes," we can expect to see the ATF will let off its leash and a cascade of federal initiatives targeting "hate groups."

Under Commissarina Napolitano, the Homeland Security Department will continue to militarize and federalize law enforcement, cultivating ties with Joe Arpaio wannabes nation-wide and turning them into squalid little satellite despotisms in the service of Washington. (Incidentally, like Arpaio, the Homeland Security Department now has its own television show.)

Although it is almost certainly too much to hope for, but it would be a substantial blessing were a bipartisan -- or, better yet, trans-partisan -- synthesis to emerge among opponents of government power, with conservatives taking alarm over police state measures being used to enforce immigration laws and liberals loudly defending the rights of the rural gunowners Obama has referred to so contemptuously. What is necessary is for people to decide that they love liberty more than they despise their political enemies, which is a direct reversal of the way politics almost always operates.

A personal note --

I wish to apologize, yet again, for another unscheduled hiatus. Everybody in my house has been sick, myself included.

Korrin, as many of you have learned, is expecting again, a blessed circumstance complicated somewhat by her long-term chronic health problems. Both mother and baby are doing well, but are in need of an exceptional level of paternal attention. That, plus Isaiah's appendicitis scare (it turned out to be something else), plus my own ongoing bout of the flu, have kept me occupied away from my keyboard.

To those who noted the oblique announcement in the header to this blog, and offered congratulations, I extend sincere thanks. The new member of the Grigg Clan will arrive on the third of next month; he's a boy, and we're always open for those who wish to suggest what to name him.

On sale now!

Dum spiro, pugno!