Thursday, November 09, 2006

 

Guide to Blogs for the Discussion Forum User

I wish someone would have provided a document like this to me LONG BEFORE I started reading blogs. It would have saved everyone a lot of grief, trouble, and futile attempts at banning readers. If you have a friend who likes discussion forums and is thinking about starting a blog or, even worse, reading other blogs, please point them to this document. It will do them a world of good.

The Guide

Guideline #1
Blogs are not discussion forums. Discussion forums are generally balanced areas for discussion. Blogs are generally theme-based meeting areas for people of like minds and, occasionally, like bodies. Being members of the same family tree is generally a plus, too.

Guideline #2
Blogs are not “news” nor are they “truth”. They’re ONE PERSON’S OPINION generally, and if the blog is very big, it’s one person WHO DOESN’T HAVE MUCH TO DO’S opinion.

Please don’t take a blog as truth, news, or anything you could cite in a research paper.

Guideline #3
It doesn’t take a genius to make a blog nor post things on it, however many bloggers consider each other as brilliant and poignant for authoring a blog. The caveat to this is that GENERALLY, this is limited to bloggers with similar themes and beliefs. Everyone else is, naturally, an idiot.

Good comment screening can make ANYONE look like a genius. Even me!

Guideline #4
It’s a poor idea to frequent blogs that you DON’T agree with. Eventually you’ll make the mistake of actually trying to comment on their blogs, and you will be quickly reminded that they don’t like your kind hanging around. Even more insulting, you could spend your time making a comment only to met by the “Your comment has been submitted for approval” screen. Hint: if you posted anything with more depth than “YOU’RE ABSOLUTELY CORRECT!”, don’t expect to see your comment in public ever again.

Guideline #5
There are generally three different kinds of people of offer comments on blogs. The first two are cheerleaders and dissenters. Cheerleaders post comments like “you go girl” and “you’re so smart!” Dissenters are identified by comments ranging from “I don’t agree completely” to “oh, that’s utter crap”. Dissenters quickly become the third type of comment authors: banned.

Guideline #6
If you read long enough, you’ll eventually realize that a huge number of really active bloggers are out of work, on disability, or have some other life circumstance that prevents them from working full-time. You’ll also see that a large majority of cheerleaders on liberal/feminist blogs are college professors. Actually, EVERYONE is a college professor if you take people at their word.

Guideline #7
If, by some odd chance, you actually find a lengthy discussion with point/counterpoint where the blog author and one commenter are REALLY going at it, you can probably bet solid dollars that the author and commenter are related.

Actually, if you view a blog long enough, you’ll find the heavy comment authors are relatives. It’s funny that way.

Guideline #8
If you finally get fed up and want to start your own blog, don’t bother. The people you WANT reading your blog, won’t. The conversation you WANT to happen on your blog, won’t. No one strays out of their home court advantage without a safety net.

Guideline #9
Most bloggers don’t nor haven’t had experience on discussion boards. They don’t understand why you would say their comment of “if we would quit attacking terrorists, they’d quit attacking us” is moronic and naïve. You’re supposed to agree with them on blogs. Even MORE moronic? WHEN they fling out a retort containing 23 expletives including some phrases that were stricken from the latest Chris Rock album, they end the rant begging the blog author to ban the offender for being mean and immature. And if you DARE respond to the rant, they will be aghast because you were offended by the home team. You, after all, OF ALL PEOPLE should know what type of farm animals your mother had sex with.

Guideline #10
If you REALLY like discussion boards, STAY WITH THEM. Blogging is not . . . NOT what you’re used to. Blogging is the OPPOSITE of discussion boards. Steer clear if you like discussion much deeper than “God, you’re so right . . . so right . . . and smart . . . and beautiful”.



 
Blogs Have Screwed Up Everything

Okay, maybe not, but CRIPES they can be frustrating sometimes.

I’m a veteran of the internet forums from years back. I’ve slung dung with abortionists, white supremacists, feminists, and God-knows what else in days past. What can I say? I like it. I like being challenged, and I like to see WHY people believe what they believe. In fact, I’ve changed my mind on a few issues here and there as much as I’ve had my existing beliefs cemented. Overall, I think it’s good for people with opinions to sharpen or dash them on the rock of others’.

Of course, that was in the discussion forum days. We’re out of that now. Welcome to the land of Blog i.e. the blogosphere.

You see, the blogosphere isn’t like the discussion forums. In the discussion forums, you’re invited to make your opinion public, challenge others’ opinions, and let the chips fall where they may. Sometimes feelings get hurt. Sometimes people are mean. Sometimes you learn that what you THOUGHT you knew, was crap. Generally, you just restate what you’ve felt for some time and maybe learn a little nuance here and there that you were unaware of.

The key is DISCUSSION, and for good discussion, you need some point/counter-point. Sometimes, it’s not always friendly. It’s almost NEVER for the feint of heart.

Ah, but not the blogosphere! The blogosphere is a place where EVERYBODY matters . . . on their own site. It’s a place where you’re surrounded by friends . . . AND THAT’S ALL. It’s a place where everybody gets along and everybody agrees and everybody has similar opinions . . . or you’re asked to leave one way or the other. It’s a place where challenging discussion is a lively debate on whether the blog owner is ALWAYS right or just 90+% of the time. It’s a place where scientific polls have questions like:

Women’s Poll on Rape in America (choose one):
In your lifetime, you have been raped:
Option #1: Multiple times by friends and strangers alike
Option #2: Multiple times by friends
Option #3: Multiple times by strangers
Option #4: It’s been so many times by so many people, I’ve lost count

Men’s Poll on Rape in America (choose one you pigs):
In my lifetime, my rape totals are:
Option #1: One to two a week if I can get off work
Option #2: Only one or two a month, but I brutalize them a lot
Option #3: Two or three a year, but they’re elderly and I kill them slowly
Option #4: You can’t rape women because they’re all asking for it.
Option #5: The woman I’m raping is typing in the answer as we speak.

Okay, maybe that’s not funny. Neh, bullcrap, it’s funny. And it’s pathetic. And that poll would probably be greeted with nods and accolades if posted on a lot of the militant feminist blogs.

I think blogs are perhaps the antithesis of discussion forums. Blogs are a warm and inviting place for people to have EVERYTHING THEY BELIEVE confirmed. It’s not a place for challenge. It’s a place for confirmation and acceptance. It’s a place where people can say “YEAH!!! That’s awful . . . wanna’ hear something WORSE, THOUGH??”, “you go girl”, or “wow, man, you’re so perceptive”.

I keep reading blogs, and I keep hearing Henry Rollins singing in the background i.e. “I can really sympathize with the way you’re feeling . .. HAAAAAAAAAHHHHAAAAAAAA . . . LIAR!!!!! LIAR!!!!!!” LOL!

It’s weird to go to a website, read an opinion piece ending with “please discuss this!”, and then get angry responses for, dare I say, DISCUSSING IT. They should be honest. It should end with “please confirm what I’ve said in the comments section . . . and can you please tell me I’m beautiful and smart, too . . . I’m feeling a little low”.

Okay, so why should I care? People are free to read and say whatever they want on their own spot, right? YOU BET!! This is living proof, I guess. I dunno’, though. I guess I’ve read some REALLY interesting things on blogs and it enticed me to put together comments and responses IN THEIR comments and responses section. Generally, I find that I’m either the only one or the one of two people on the blog that offers a different slant or approach, and the differences sort of drive the conversation past the usual “yeah, great post” and “oh, I agree with you completely!” people. Many times, the conversation goes REALLY well and LOTS of interesting points come out. Right when things get REALLY good, though, out comes the “hey, why don’t you just leave” people and “why are you disrupting our discussion” remarks. It’s a bummer.

So, maybe I’m a jerk for going to a feminist website and say awful things like “I’ve never raped a woman”. Maybe I’m a bad person for going to a liberal website and say awful things like “sounds good, but how are you going to pay for it?” Maybe. I guess I am. It’s their punch bowl, and I guess I’m whizzing in it.

For the second time in my blog career (what a laugh there), I’m peeing on the fire and calling the dogs, I guess. I’m DEFINITELY going to curtail or cut out completely my commenting on other sites. I have one more entry to my blog I’m prepping now, and that will probably be it for a while. We’ll see.

Anyway, maybe I’ll find some conservative blogs and put on my pleated skirt and wave my pom-poms like everyone wants people to do. Confrontation is scary, I suppose. It’s especially scary if your point of view isn’t very defendable, I guess, but that’s irrelevant to many people.

In parting for this post, my blog not withstanding, I don’t think blogs are as wonderful and revolutionary as everyone thinks they are. Basically, they’re a one person discussion forum with opposition filters built into the administration . . . and pretty boring at that.

ED, WHY DON’T YOU POST ON YOUR OWN BLOG??? Simple. It’s boring. No one comments, no one raises a question, no one cares. Feh, what fun or value is that?


Monday, October 30, 2006

 
The Patriarchy

I’ve heard this word for some time now, and it seems to get thrown around a lot on feminist websites. Basically, from what I gather, it’s a term that is used to describe some kind of system in place in our society that keeps men in charge and women in some subordinate roll as second class citizens. Evidently, lots of people think that the guys have meetings and secret plans in order to keep women “down”.

If such meetings exist, I haven’t been invited to one.

Now, I’m not going to address decades ago when I didn’t live or understand what was going on. I can only address the “now”, and I think it’s safe to say that, as a whole, men don’t sit around thinking of new and exciting ways of maintaining power. For what it’s worth, we as individuals are struggling just to have any semblance of personal “power” without trying to unite against the “fairer” sex.

It’s funny, though. For every woman I meet who’s crusading against the patriarchy and chopping down windmills, there’s usually a woman in another part of the room who’s perfectly happy kissing her husband goodbye in the morning before she heads out to aerobics and then lunch with her friends. Hey, my wife would be home right now if she didn’t have to work. She’d be perfectly happy in a “patriarchy” as long as she could sleep late in the morning and surf Zappos a few hours every day.

Crap, who am I kidding? If my wife suddenly landed a job making $150k a year and told me to hit the house, I’d be there in a heartbeat . . . if I were still working at my previous job. I like my new one. I’d probably stay here just because I enjoy it. However, I’d be a “kept man” if given the chance . . . at least for a while, maybe.

I don’t think it’s as much about the “patriarchy” as it is about self-worth. I find that many of the people who rail against this supposed institution are angry. No, they’re REALLY angry . . . all the time. And EVERYTHING is “the system” working against them. And NOTHING seems to go their way. And . . . you get the picture.

One blog I haunt is run by a 270+ pound lesbian who lives with another 270+ pound lesbian . . . and their children. Basically, one of the “mothers” is out of work on disability. They don’t have much money. One of the kids has been in trouble with the police and worships death and Satan. Everyone in the house hates men. Everyone in the house is a devout atheist and hates God all at the same time. They have health issues, too, and no one gets along. And, OF COURSE, all of them have been raped multiple times. Actually, I’m not sure that ANY of the women concerned hasn’t been raped by about every man they’ve ever known. EVERY MAN has raped them.

The culprit: men of course. It’s all the “patriarchy’s” fault. It’s all the system against them . . . keeping them from taking charge of their lives, and being happy.

Maybe there IS some kind of patriarchy way above where I am in life. Maybe women SHOULD be mad because more of them aren’t top CEO’s in Fortune 500 companies. I think they’re about 1% of the top management. Okay, so there’s 10,000 women in the U.S. who are qualified and are “kept down” because of the patriarchy. Fine and dandy. THEY should be mad. Hey, I’m mad because affirmative action as probably cost ME some good jobs, too . . . maybe. Who knows?

The point is that most of the people who complain about systemized forms of persecution probably aren’t doing much to help themselves, either. My ex was a social worker, and she told me about families who lived in trailers and who cried about how hard it was to make it in the world, how sick they were, how they couldn’t work, how the government was corrupt, and how it was all against them . . . while the chain smoked Camels, maintained a 2 – 3 case inventory of Bud Light in the fridge, and had 5 kids living with them.

You know, sometimes . . . JUST SOMETIMES . . . it’s not all everyone else’s fault.


Monday, October 23, 2006

 

Local SWAT Team uses SHAQ ATTACK . . . on the wrong house

I read this over at saysuncle.com, http://www.saysuncle.com/archives/2006/10/23/thanks_shaq/, and I couldn’t help but to comment on it here. Take a look for yourself, but basically, some local police acting on a child abuse operation raided the wrong house in the rural Northeast. Basically, the “men in black” came out to some guy’s farm and arrested him and his wife. Evidently, the police threatened them with weapons and all that good stuff in order to scare them into confessing. Then, when the kids got home later that day, they got the same treatment. The “raid” lasted about 5 hours, and the police found . . . nothing. Sometime during the mess, the word came down that, dare I say it, a MISTAKE was made. The police had the wrong physical address to match the IP address to the house. In other words, the police screwed up and raided a bunch of innocent people.

Okay, so that’s a shame and all, but you argue that the police must use such tactics to ensure the safety of the officer. Ummmm . . . not REALLY. You see, they had a special “guest star” officer on the team. Shaq is evidently a reserve officer in this town . . . that he doesn’t live in. They gave him a gun, and let him accompany the raid. In other words, it was a publicity stunt gone TERRIBLY wrong. Waco anyone? Yes folks. We got a professional basketball player guest starring in our law enforcement community.

Here are the direct links:

http://www.wpcva.com/articles/2006/10/19/chatham/opinion/opinion01.txt

http://www.theagitator.com/archives/027150.php

The police across this country are using this type of “raid” more and more often for almost any alleged crime or warrant service. Granted, child related crime is about as distasteful as it gets, but it’s not something that is associated with violent resistance to the police. I mean, we don’t associate guns and explosives with dirty pictures. There was no real reason that the police couldn’t have just driven up, grabbed the computers, and made the arrests if need be. Of course, that’s not as much fun, you don’t get in the paper, and you don’t get to break out your MP5’s and black PJ’s for that.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not “anti-police” or “soft on crime”. I’m neither. I think my hometown’s police chief does an A1 job here, and I’m proud of our police force. I’m glad I have personal friendships with several of them. On the other hand, I don’t mind saying that it really makes me uneasy knowing my little town of 10,000 “needs” a SWAT team complete with fully-automatic weapons and an “assault vehicle”. I guess it’s one of those things that you’ll probably never need, but IF YOU DO, you need them, but I’m afraid that as we get comfortable with idea of our “beat cops” doubling as SWAT guys, we’re going to get more and more comfortable using SWAT tactics on a daily basis.

I want you to think about something, especially if you’re an older person. Twenty years ago, police uniforms were grey, brown, black/white, and sometimes even green. Now, they’re almost exclusively black on black on black. The baton has been replaced with the TAZER gun. The policeman’s hat has been replaced by a black balaclava. The .38 Special revolver has been replaced by a high-capacity Glock. The shotgun has been replaced by the MP-5 machine pistol or an M4 Assault Rifle. The bullhorn has been replaced by the stun grenade. The “paddy wagon” has been replaced by a “Police Assault Vehicle” i.e. a tank without the cannon.

As bad as this sounds, I’m not sure how easy it’s going to be to tell our kids that, if they get scared, go find a policeman. I mean, it was fine for my generation when the policeman wore a police hat, a white shirt, and looked REASONABLY approachable. Now though, our kids have the option of the “nice stranger with some candy” or the 6’3”, 300 pounder with the crewcut and the black uniform. Crap, I might have taken my chances with the stranger had I not known the cop.

Now, I know times are a’ changing and the “bad guys” have all kinds of machine guns, grenades, and lawyers. I’ll also be HAPPY to say that the police that I know are really great people that I’m proud to call friends. However, I also don’t mind saying that the police now don’t seem as approachable as they were 20 years ago. While the dark glasses, black uniforms, and body armor might make a better presence on the street when confronting gangs, I don’t think they work particularly well in all cases and situations.

There’s no real solution I admit. Hey, if I were a cop, I’d want the biggest and best equipment available to make my job easier and my chances of survival that much better. However, we as Americans should ALWAYS keep this in mind. The police are paid to keep US safe. We’re not expected to sacrifice our safety for them. Also, whenever we get excited to see our local SWAT team dressed up like the SAS making a drug bust on some guy in our town, we need to keep this in our mind: they’re using our tax money in order to train how to best assault . . . us. When the SEALs train, they’re training how to assault an enemy of the State somewhere overseas. When 5 or 6 of your town’s finest leave to go to “SWAT school”, they’re going to prepare how to best attack citizens like us. Maybe not us PERSONALLY, but people like us. And before you say “only criminals need to worry about it”, think again. This family was innocent . . . COMPLETELY innocent. The police made a computer glitch. This happens more than we like to admit. The police raid almost exclusively “legally” innocent people, anyway, don’t they?

Innocent people die like this every year, but we don’t hear about it that much. I’m REALLY afraid the police are going to raid the “wrong house”, and it’s really going to be the WRONG HOUSE i.e. a house full of adults who are heavily armed and equipped to deal with such a threat. What do we, as a society, do when 2 or 3 officers are killed in a raid by the occupants of the home after we find out the police had the wrong house? What do we do to officers if they raid the wrong home and kill the occupants?

We’ve always had similar problems, but I really believe that if we continue to allow and even encourage military-style raids on American citizens for any type of warrant at the department’s discretion, we’re going to have more and more close-call mistakes.

This family, while being unlucky, was EXTREMELY lucky. Imagine what would have happened if the police would have attacked at night. Would the family taken up arms to resist? If so, how many would have been killed on either side? The police ADMIT they had no idea there were kids in the household. Would they have gone in shooting? Maybe. Afterall, it was a bunch of perverts, anyway. At least, that’s what the report said.



Friday, October 06, 2006

 

The Steve Principle

I’m discussing some relationship things on another board, and I know this will come up, so I decided to put it here first.

Let me preface by apologizing to people REALLY NAMED STEVE. Sorry I borrowed your name. Also, let me fully conceded that this is not the end-all, be-all commentary on women and men. This is a small facet on the corrupted gem that is relationships. I’m simply putting this here to keep me from having to type it over and over.

Throughout my life, I’ve noticed that most young, single women (25 and less) have a friend we’ll call Steve. This is their “good friend” or “best buddy” who they just think the world of. Steve accompanies the young female on almost any outing of her choice EXCEPT for dates or anything remotely romantic. Generally, he’s a stand-in for either an absent or non-existent boyfriend. He’s there to be a shoulder to cry on, a driver when she’s too drunk, and even someone to make fun of when her ego is feeling a bit low. This is Steve: all around great friend.

Steve sees things differently. Steve loves the girl. No, Steve REALLY loves the girl. Steve is waiting for the day when she realizes that it’s he who has been there for her, cares for her, and would be the perfect boyfriend/husband for her. Given enough time and enough terrible relationships, eventually it will become obvious to her that Steve is the man of her dreams. This, of course, NEVER HAPPENS. Steve, however, will never get it.

What’s funny is that the girl really doesn’t see it. Well, maybe she does but DOESN’T all at the same time. Maybe she feels a little extra tug when Steve hugs her or a little sad sigh when she goes on and on about the cute guy she met at the bar when Steve was getting her another drink, but any real consideration of that would destroy the wonderful girl/Steve relationship. After all, she’d NEVER lead anyone on. That’s just something her friends do to those guys that follow them around and take them to . . . well, on to something different before it gets too heavy. LOL!

I’ve had this principle for some time now, and most guys agree with it. Girls almost exclusively say “yeah, I see that a lot, but I’d never do it”. After a little questioning, that usually turns into “oh, yeah, there was this one guy I had as a friend for a while, but I’d never do it again”.

Now, there’s a counter to Steve. I call her “Janet”. She’s the female Steve, and they exist for some people. The difference I find with them is, unless they’re hideous, eventually the guy usually has sex with her at least once. This either ends things as she expects him to be exclusive with her or cements things as now two people form a “friends with benefits” relationship. I find the former is pretty rare as GENERALLY one of the two always has a significant other and is rarely available when the other one really needs them.

Anyway, that’s the Steve Principle. Now, back to our scheduled program.



 

Setting the Bar High

Some nut kills five Amish girls at an Amish school. Probably a sixth one will die today or tomorrow. It’s an utter tragedy. Even the Phelps morons can’t keep away.

People weep and wail and curse the killer, the world, and even God.

Then the light shines in a bit. A group of people start a fund to pay for the wounded girls’ medical bills. Contributions of $1 to $500,000 start rolling in. The good in humanity just can’t be held down.

But that’s the easy part. Leave it to the simple Amish to raise the bar up and throw Christ at problems.

The Amish have . . . embraced the family of the killer. The family has invited the killer’s widow and her young children to gather with them at the funerals and mourn. Understand, NO ONE is allowed at the funerals. There is a 2.5 mile air bubble for the services. The Amish, almost exclusively private, embrace the people that need them most, even in their time of sorrow. And it was one of the little girls’ MOTHER who made the invitation personally in love.

Now, feel bad, yet. Wait for it if not. The Amish have INSISTED that there be a fund setup FOR THE KILLER’S WIFE AND KIDS. The seem to have a much better grasp on humanity than anyone.

Giving money for some poor kids shot by a maniac is kinda’ easy. Giving money to that killer’s widow and kids, eh, that’s a lot harder. It’s A LOT tougher setting up the fund, I’d imagine. Now, think about doing that if it were your kids who were killed.

The Amish did it. Could we who claim to be Christians as well do it?



Monday, October 02, 2006

 
Required Foley Post

Okay, since everyone is making a Foley post, I guess I should do one myself.

He's a predator. His party affiliation is irrelevant. Boot him out of office. If he broke the law, prosecute him. Whatever happens, happens. Deal with him, and let's move on.

Now, with all of that said and done, some things DO stick with me.

First off, fooling around with the pages isn't anything new. It happened in the 80's. I can't say I'm shocked. I remember it happening before.

What DOES bother me is that we're finding that people in the page organization knew about this guy back around 2000 or 2001. They were informally warning pages not to get too friendly with the guy. No one, however, took official action.

In a way, I can see that because the LAST thing you want in any political or business organization is for your secretaries and "pages" to start airing dirty laundry. It doesn't "forgive" them, but, as Chris Rock said, "I don't condone it, but I UNDERSTAND."

Now for the part of this post that is NOT going to win friends, but it MIGHT influence some people. *sigh*

The way I understand it, this guy was going after male pages who were 15+ years old. Okay, these are young people, but they're not "children" in the traditional sense. To some degree, depending on maturity levels, at least SOME of these kids knew what was going on.

You also have to consider that these are supposedly kids who are/were a lot smarter and more mature than the average kid. I mean, they WERE chosen out of a group of candidates to be pages. They're not randomly chosen from a home room at the local high school.

Also, they more than likely knew the guy was the way he is. So why give him the time of day unless you're interested?

At least 2 or 3 of the pages were actively communicating with the guy . . . possibly more. From what I understand, even though LEGALLY there couldn't be consent, some of the participants weren't complaining nor avoiding contact. This tells me that some of the "kids" weren't terrified and intimidated. Some of them were doing what they wanted to do.

Put it this way. How would this all be different if the offending politician was an attractive 36 year old representative from California, and she had met 4 or 5 pages over the years for sexual escapades? I don't know, but going off what I've seen of attractive female teachers having sex with 14 year old boys, I'd say "feh, not much probably."

Would this have changed if this would have been a really great looking rep from Washington State who played around with some 17 year old female pages? Possibly. Who knows? I think it would be about as bad in the media.

Now, let's look at the cold, hard facts here. Yes, the man was in a position of power. Yes he had time to perfect his "craft". Yes he should be prosecuted as much as the offense deserves. Enough of that discussion, though. Let's get to some different ground.

Think of this. Over about six years, this guy found numerous young men to have some varying degree of sexual contact with. Pages aren't there forever. It's a rotational "honorary" thing, so he had limited time. And, now we're finding out the pages were actually warned about the guy. So, with relatively impulsive-only exposure, this guy was able to initiate homosexual-based communications with minors who were aware of his tendencies.

Anyone else see a problem with this?

Granted, when I was 16ish, there were a couple of female teachers in my school who could have probably seduced me. There was one I was REALLY HOPING would try and seduce me! LOL! She really missed a great opportunity to have an amusing plaything if she had wanted one!

On the other hand, there were NO male teachers who could have convinced me to do anything with them sexually. I was approached indirectly when I was barely 18 and in a very vulnerable time in my life, but I heard Obi-wan saying "RUN LUKE RUN", and I did. I doubt that me being 16 or even 15 would have caused any different a reaction.

I think we're just seeing the beginnings of our new sexual generation. The line between "children" and "adult" is REALLY getting blurred as far as sex goes. I think we're just getting a preview of what's to come later.


 
Good Entertainment but is it Good Reality?

I caught a good article on another blog called "The Nijafication of Police". The link is here.

Basically, the article is questioning the need for local police to use SWAT teams to execute search warrants for relatively minor ALLEGED offenses. Alleged could be an operative word here.

The example given was a local SWAT team tossing in a "flashbang" grenade, breaking down a door, and storming the house with a fully outfitted SWAT team to serve a search warrant for a small amount of pot. The resident hid upstairs and refused to surrender in fear of being shot by one of the officers running around his house with an automatic weapon.

In a way, I kinda' understand this guy's fear.

From what courts have ruled, the police can basically knock once, identify themselves, and then kick the door in. Actually, they can just kick the door in and scream "POLICE! SEARCH WARRANT!" at their discretion. Tossing in a flashbang is just icing on the cake, I guess.

The reason for doing this is to keep drug dealers from flushing evidence down the drain or destroying it in other ways. Okay, it sort of makes sense. I can see that. Sort of . . .

On the other hand, there's no qualification for determining when to knock on the door to serve the warrant and when to assault the house with machine guns and grenades.

Of course, do we really care if some drug dealers get rousted? Isn't it cool on COPs when they bust a bunch of meth cookers, throw people to the ground, put the cuffs on them, and then toss the place for drugs? I mean, every Sunday night we all get a kick out of these morons getting busted by the cops. Isn't it cool?!

Again, sort of. I think it's "cool" when the cops shoot the bad guy before he can hurt innocent by-standards. Then again, I don't want every cop in America shooting at bad guys as the first tactic of law enforcement, either.

Okay, let's qualify "cool". It's cool as long as they get the right guy(s) and nobody gets hurt. Much like any other situation in life, everything is "right" as long as nothing goes "wrong".

One thing COPs DOESN'T show is when they bust the wrong house and "detain" the wrong people. And this DOES happen. The ATF has a particularly poor record of raiding the wrong home and, on occasion, shooting the wrong people. I think it was 2 years ago when they raided a nice home and shot two occupants in one of the bedrooms. After turning on the lights, it turned out to be an elderly couple in bed. The house belonged to them. Instead of drug dealers, the man was a retired lawyer and the woman was his wife of 30+ years. What covers this? "Ooops, my bad" just isn't quite enough.

As it turns out, a snitch turned over a random address as part of an agreement to be set free. Nice, huh? Two people die, and it's legally "nobody's" fault.

And these are our Federal guys who probably have 10 times the training and 100 times the resources as our local SWAT team.

I guess it worries me that we're arming thousands of local beat cops across America with threat 4 suits, submachine guns, explosives, grenades, sniper rifles, and, in some cases, assault vehicles (tanks without cannons). Within the last year, a medium machine gun was removed by the ATF from a local SWAT team because the police aren't allowed to use such a device. Now, this wasn't the LAPD or NYPD. This was a small county in Tennessee.

Now, there's nothing against these officers wanting to have the best of the best weaponry. Hey, if I were a cop, I'd want an MP10, a REALLY nice assault rifle, some of the best armor, and a good long-range rifle. I'd want to be prepared for ANYTHING. However, I'm not a cop, and possibly, that's one of the reasons. LOL!

I'm afraid that, one of these days, some poor guy is going to be the wrong address to get raided. Some father of 3 is going to be watching the UT game when a flashbang is going to be flung through his door. The police are going to fly in, and when the dog barks, they're going to open fire with machine guns on Rover (and they will . . . dogs get shot on raids quite frequently). Dad's going to, at worst, get hosed with bullets, or at least get pummeled by three hyped up SWAT guys. God hope mom is not in the kitchen chopping up beans for supper. "Your honor, she rushed the team with a knife." If the kids dodge stray bullets, they get cuffed and tossed onto the floor next to their dead dog. Later, after everything in the house has been ransacked, some poor SWAT schlup comes in and says "this is 1200 MayFAIR Street . . . not 1200 MayBERRY Street."

My bad? That just doesn't cover it.

Our hometown police force got funding to issue semi-automatic M4's in the squad cars. For the non-gun people, this is a semi-automatic version of the standard issue "special forces" M16. Now, this rifle is not a machine gun, and it's not going to blow holes in a tank. It's legal for anyone to own. Crap, I OWN ONE. Fine piece of weaponry. However, it's now an issue weapon in a small town patrol car because small town officers feel they need the firepower. Do they need it? Probably not. Yeah, IF they do, it will probably be justification for having them, naturally, but IF they need something that heavy, they'd probably be better off with something a lot heavier oddly enough. But, I digress . . .

I guess I'm afraid that we're slowly changing police roles from crime prevention and law enforcement to a quasi urban assault force. And this trend towards forming assault teams in local police forces is a little scary, too. It gives me the creeps to see local cops with automatic weapons dressed in black pajamas attacking, well, homes just like mine.

I think we, as a country, have been lucky for the most part. Every day some SWAT team somewhere blows open a door and 10-20 heavily armed and armored men charge in with little or no resistance. However, what happens when the "drug dealers" inside don't comply? What happens when 10 or 20 guys open up in an apartment complex with automatic weapons?

I can tell you what happens when specially trained law enforcement troops take the glamorous path and raid a well defended position. See Waco. Whether they were nutso or not isn't the point. They were well defended and trained . . . and GENERALLY, their weapons were of the legal variety. Granted, 2 or 3 BATF agents were wounded and/or killed by the dreaded and feared "cop killer" bullets. That's true. Oddly enough, the BATF were the only people in the U.S. that had the bullets, though . . . and they were issued to many of the agents involved in the raid. A "cop killer" bullet has never been either used or even found in civillian hands that I'm aware of.

Okay, long, rambling post. I know. It may SEEM "anti-cop", but it's not. On an individual basis, I have lots of people in my life that I care about who are police officers. They're good people. I try to respect the law, as well. However, when we not only arm the police with military weapons and tactics, but we also allow them almost 100% discretion in using these tactics for things such as search warrant service, then the POTENTIAL for real abuses and tragic errors goes up tremendously.

I'm all for the safety of the officer, but when does it become abuse? Hey, for the safety of the officer, one could argue that every traffic stop should start with having the offender get out of the car so the officer can "safely" TAZER the person, cuff them, and then conduct a license and I.D. check. That WOULD be a lot safer.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll get the "you don't understand what it's like to be a cop" responses, and that's true. I don't. I couldn't be a cop. The stupid people would eventually drive me nuts. However, I think that we really need to look at the permissions that we're giving our authority figures more often than we do.

I think as you get older and the illusion of "those older people are smarter and wiser than me, and they wouldn't do anything wrong" starts to fade. Maybe that's what's happening to me.


Thursday, September 28, 2006

 
Gun People Can Make Lemonade

It's funny. Some people can take a bad situation and make something good out of it. Case in point: the now defunct assault weapons and hi-cap magazine ban.

Let's set the scene. It's 1993ish, and the world is a good place. The economy is decent, and a man (or woman!) can buy a REALLY good SKS rifle made in China for less than $100. You can buy a GREAT AK-47 (Chinese) for about $250 new. Sure, there are some $1,000 - $3,000 pieces out there, but you can buy some fun to shoot stuff for cheaps.

And every pistol is 9mm with 15+ rounds with spare mags for pennies. Okay, maybe not EVERY pistol, but you get the point.

I was preparing to buy my first cheap AK when the dreaded "assault weapons ban" went into place. My $250 rifle was now about $700. Bummer. The world was coming to an end.

See, I'm not in the militia or anything like that. I'm not a survivalist. I'm not even paranoid. I like to put little holes in paper with a firearm. That's about it. An "assault weapon" is perfect for this as it's fairly inexpensive, shoots inexpensive ammo, has decent iron sights, and is MADE to shoot thousands of rounds without blinking. Plus, as stupid as this will sound, it's REALLY HANDY to have a 20-30 round magazine so I don't spend half my shooting day reloading. Hey, it's not a glamorous answer, but it's pretty accurate.

Anyway, all the "gun people" were weeping and wailing and gnashing our teeth. Gone were nice AK clones for Saturday shooting. Gone were 18 round 9mm mags. Gone were the days of freedom and liberty.

Okay, not really, but the drama is good, right?

Given all these lemons, it's only natural SOMEBODY started making lemonade.

A couple of years into the "ban", somebody finally figured out that since the 9mm had no "firepower" advantage, anymore, it would be a good idea to start looking at new ways to toss a .45ACP bullet downrage. BRILLIANT!!! You mean it might be a great idea to improve handguns that shoot arguably the best self-defense handgun round ever made? Wow! Way to go guys. Of course, it didn't hurt that during this time state after state was enacting handgun carry permits. Hmmmm . . . maybe people might want a decent gun to carry?

Someone then came up with this brilliant idea. Lots of people think the .45ACP kicks too much and isn't suitable for smaller/weaker people, BUT the 9mm just wasn't enough (especially with the 10 round limit). Thus the .40 S&W was born. Oddly enough, S&W didn't make the first gun to shoot this round. I believe it was Glock. Feh, doesn't matter. Born was possibly the best caliber to come out in a decade or two. It's at least one of the most practical.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, American gun makers were figuring out ways around the verbage in the ban. The BIGGEST loophole was that most of the disqualifiers for "assault weapons" were based on country of manufacture. If a certain percentage of the parts were made in the U.S., and the gun itself was assembled in the U.S., the gun was legal to sell.

Before you knew it, there were gun companies you'd probably never heard of making semi-copies of normally REALLY expensive rifles. Even more amusing was that x% of the cheapo "knockoff" was actually the expensive parts. An HK91 might cost $2,000 to $3,000, but a Federal Arms "knockoff" was about $300 to $400 with an HK91 design, HK barrel, HK action, HK mags, and various other HK parts all over the gun. Yeah, the receiver was BUTT UGLY American and the stocks were el cheapo, but, feh, who cares? For $300, you had MOST of a $3,000 rifle, and it tended to work flawlessly. And they were everywhere.

The height of comedy has to be the AK clones. Americans actually found ways to make "quality" AK clones better than the originals at about the same price. With parts, magazines, and accessories all over the market, it was financial genius. Sure, you could no longer import 30 round magazines for an AK-47. You would just have to make due with one or two of the 300 million that were already in the country. Basically, the ban drove AK mag's prices up from $7 to $15-$20. Feh . . .

Back to handguns. About 7 years into the ban, there were .45's and .40's everywhere. One of the speed freak guys came up with an AMAZING idea. What if . . . what IF you could come up with a round for an automatic that’s ROUGHLY a .357 Magnum with regards to energy and all. So, the brilliant people took a 40 S&W, necked it down, and made the .357 Sig round. That's the story. Actually, I think it's a 10mm they necked down, but it doesn't matter. Fine round, though.

Also, oddly enough, I don't think Sig was the first gun to chamber the Sig round. Once again, I THINK it was Glock. Go figure.

And speaking of the 10mm . . . Once the .40 and .45 became popular, the "yeah, but ours go to eleven" guys felt the need to move up a notch. Before the ban, carrying a .45 ACP made a statement. It said "I take my self-protection more seriously than others." Okay, maybe not. Maybe more accurately it said "I can handle the extra kick." Seven years into the ban, feh, .45's were everywhere. Taurus had LITTLE .45's that held 10 rounds and were comfy to shoot. Lots of, dare I say it, little women were learning that the feared .45 really wasn't that bad to shoot at all.

So what were the macho guys to do? While a "big ole" revolver can pack lots of punch, they're so . . . 3 decades ago. With the .45 becoming "common", where is there to go for the auto-lover looking to standout. Ahhhh, the 10mm! It's an "old" round with lots of punch. And didn't it used to actually BREAK guns chambered for it? And doesn't GLOCK make one that WORKS? AND TED NUGENT LOVES THE 10MM!!! What more could you ask for?

Okay, so it's not THAT popular, but it IS seeing lots of fresh interest and plenty of companies make ammo again. I know I like mine! :)

I think someone should mention Cowboy Action Shooting really sprung up strong during this time, too. Honestly, I don't know much the sport other than it has a huge following, and it's made a lot of people look at the .45 Long Colt cartridge as a serious fun and self-defense round. They should.

So, to recap, basically if it weren't for the assault weapons ban, we probably would not have the .40 or the .357 rounds. People would probably STILL be arguing over 18 rounds of 9mm vs. 7 rounds of .45 ACP. We probably would still have to pay big bucks for a decent AR-15 or HK rifle. And who knows if Cowboy Action Shooting would even be around?

The ban is now, happily, dead, and we don't see anymore $100+ magazines for Glocks and Sigs. Fortunately, we still see lots of inexpensive semi-auto rifles that take military repair parts and accessories. I still miss $89 SKS rifles and $250 MAK-90's from Norinco, but, oh well. I wouldn't trade them for my .357 Sig or my 10mm (or my .40 S&W for that matter). I DEFINITELY wouldn't trade them for my wife's PT-145.

So, once again, Americans prove that if you put us in a "bad situation", not only do we survive, but we figure out a way to make it a little better for a while and then we turn it to an advantage. And, lol, we figure out a way to make a LOT of money off of it.

God Bless America! LOL!


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

 
Healthcare

This and immigration are probably the toughest political issues going right now. Maybe the war in Iraq should be in there, but I think immigration and healthcare overshadow the war. Maybe it's just me.

Okay, so what do we do? We want everyone insured. There's only one way to do it. You have to mandate the government "issue" insurance. You CAN'T make it voluntary with subsidized rates. If you think you CAN, I offer you this: do some research on how many citations are issued to drivers without automobile insurance every year. That's required by law and generally a lot cheaper than health insurance, but people don't carry that, either.

Okay, so you just mandate socialized medicine. Basically, you've just destroyed the worlds best healthcare system (with regard to quality and research) and saddled Americans with a HUGE financial burden.

Simply put, socialized medicine will not work.

So now what? Perhaps government insurance that ANYONE can get for a specific amount of money? Something like for $100 per person per month, you get a government subsidized health insurance. Now THAT sounds good, right?

Well, maybe. First, if you offered that, you'd have to make some hefty HMOish agreements. That means you'd have to ration care for lack of better words. Then you'd have to come up with either an independent agency to run the plan OR another government bureaucracy. Which one would you rather have? You're either going to pay big tax dollars to the government OR you're going to be living with a private company trying to shave every dollar out of the plan they can. Neither is particularly tasteful (to me).

But, hey, let's say you do it. You come up with a government mandated "cheap" insurance. Let's look at a timeline.

Who will be the first to get the plan? Easy, people without insurance through work OR people who can't get insurance because of a pre-existing condition. Ponder this group for a bit. They will be people with cancer, AIDs, and other chronic diseases that can't qualify for private insurance. They'll also be a large group of people with disabilities and/or people with excessive prescription costs. And, of course, you'll have elderly people snatching it up.

In other words, you'll have every person who will be at a financial advantage paying $100 a month instead of paying the medical costs out of their own pocket. There will be VERY FEW people who won't pay more than they receive. That equation does NOT work out. Basically, the tax payers will pick up everyone's medical bill.

That being the case, the government will be motivated to get "healthy" people on the plan. The only way to do that is to encourage businesses to stop carrying insurance to push their employees onto the government plan. After all, you can't have successful insurance UNLESS you have a positive cash flow. So, even though many of us have benefits of our choosing now, odds are our employers will drop health insurance like a hot can of Ebola virus once there is a government "alternative".

So, eventually, having an inexpensive government "alternative" healthcare will probably drive away commercial varieties. They would lose their bargaining power since businesses would be pushed into not offering private healthcare in order to prop up the government healthcare. You'd get a backdoor socialized medical system.

Now, the final phase? Complete breakdown, and here's why. Right now, my healthcare is fairly expensive for me and my family ($300+ month). Let's just say that government insurance costs $100/month. Oh, let's say it's $150/month for a family. I'm ASSUMING that it's going to be pretty decent coverage as most poor people can't afford much of ANY healthcare much less a plan with a $50 co-pay and a $5,000/year deductible. Well, if it's GREAT coverage, do you think I care if I get 30 prescriptions, 2 MRI's per month, and a weekly cardio check-up? Nope. Neither will anyone else. I figure we'll clog every hospital in America in hopes of finding SOMETHING wrong with us. Maybe we can get a cool prescription, or, better yet, and impairment rating for disability. Hey, it could happen.

Of course, at the same time, you'd be regulating doctors' pay, prescription costs, and other things. In other words, you'd stifle research and the attraction of the best minds to the business.

Another thing to remember, with the government running this and the individual having little or no say-so in the level of care they receive, what's the financial motivation for keeping the sick, old, and disabled alive? Simple. There isn't one.

Oh, and abortion now is paid for by everyone. And abortion SURE IS a great financial alternative to raising a baby, right?

Basically, what a government offered plan would do is destroy private insurance and remove the individual's ability to provide an improved or enhanced level of healthcare should the desire so. Well, it would limit the middle-class's ability to. Rich people can get what they like (REALLY rich people). It's people like me and my family who would have to sacrifice our level of healthcare.

Maybe that's the noble thing, you know? Maybe I should tell my family that they may or may NOT get the best level of care but they should find comfort in the fact that the guy who's hooked on crack and stole our television WILL be helped by the plan. No, I can no longer get cutting edge treatment for my heart blockage, but hey, the unemployed mother pregnant with her 7th kid will, most certainly, get the care she needs.

Somehow, as evil as it sounds, I'm not comforted by that. I think that the more you remove the motivation for people to succeed, the less effort they'll put into succeeding. This is just another thing that will remove motivation from the working people.

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