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Currently Browsing: Government

UFA Renewal Passes Senate

Passed by unanimous consent, which is effectively the same as 100-0, but it looks like Chuck Schumer is going to remain disappointed. This is not a victory of any sort — we simply avoided losing more ground — but I don’t mind Schumer remaining disappointed.

Quote of the Day: ATF Sting Edition

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel deserves some kudos for something you don’t see much of these days: real reporting. The article details that the botched tactics used in Milwaukee weren’t limited to that city. It includes this gem of a quote:

“To say this is just a few people, a few bad apples, I don’t buy it,” said David Harris, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and an expert on law enforcement tactics and regulation. “If your agency is in good shape with policy, training, supervision and accountability, the bad apples will not be able to take things to this level.”

The fish rots from the head. “A few bad apples,” was the excuse for Fast and Furious too. Is Jones doing anything at all to clean up the agency? Not that any of us had high hopes, or really any hope at all, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Petty Tyrants & Nannies

You’ll need to pardon me for venting, but I’m just getting really sick of petty tyrants and nanny staters in all walks of life. It’s not just in the gun issue. It turns out that my newest hobby – genealogy – has some rather extreme examples, as I have recently discovered.

Getting into genealogy, you quickly learn that you will never stop learning and that you’ll never know everything. You have to understand people, families, history, local issues to where everyone was living, etc. The best example of just how complicated it can get just doing the paperwork genealogy is in this summary of a shifting political boundary situation highlighted in a DAR brochure: “Thus, in 1800, a man who had lived on the same land in Mason County for less than a quarter of a century had resided in two states and five counties, and he had not moved an inch!” This doesn’t include the nightmare of different record keeping requirements for different times and states. In other words, you have to be a naturally curious person who is eager to learn in order to effectively and correctly conduct genealogical research.

Now, mix in genetic genealogy. This means taking DNA tests to discover genetic cousins who you might not have found yet doing traditional genealogy. This also means learning even more about science so you know how to use those results, along with everything you need to know about traditional genealogy. In other words, you have to be a seriously inquisitive person to really take up this hobby. Sebastian and I are pretty inquisitive folks, so we’ve been learning quite a lot as we go along.

To supplement our learning, I joined a Facebook group set up by super users of an atDNA comparison tool to learn from the conversations and questions that come up there. It’s administered by a couple of women who are very experienced with genetics, so I have learned some things. (For example, there’s a ~50% chance that any of your given 4th cousins won’t show up as a DNA match, despite the fact that you both likely carry at least some DNA from the people who were your common ancestors.) However, I recently discovered that these women are kind of psychotic gatekeepers. It’s like the worst stereotypes of the church trying to keep the masses uneducated for their own good in that place.

I merely argued that Maryland’s current system that restricts DNA testing through companies like 23andMe is silly because people shouldn’t be given barriers to their own genetic information. Good lord, it’s like I advocated for complete anarchy. “But people might get confused!” “But people might not interpret something correctly!” “What if someone makes a bad decision?” Suggesting that people make poor decisions every day and that there are already many things that confuse many people, and that maybe confusion is what inspires learning got me banned. Yup, banned. (More about the NY & MD restrictions on DNA testing here if you’re interested.)

We’re not talking guns here, folks. We’re talking education. They were appalled that I would suggest opening up the doors of testing that might lead more people to better understand their own personal DNA. I was actually criticized for being possibly more reasonable than other people and daring to assume that others are even capable of being as logical as I might be.

But it didn’t stop there.

Someone posted a link to a genetic genealogy blogger who recently solved a 30-year genealogy mystery through DNA connections and she used thresholds lower than normal to do it. They are normally thresholds of measuring DNA that aren’t worth investigating because they are too small to easily point you in the right direction. However, because this woman has discovered many genetic cousins and identified their common ancestors, she knows how to effectively use these smaller connections and tells people about her success. In the group run by petty tyrants, she was condemned for daring to share her discovery because somewhere, someone might possibly read it and get their hopes up about making connections on these small shared DNA segments.

So, in other words, they are against giving people access to their DNA results since someone might get confused. They are against bloggers blogging about how they have successfully used DNA results to make genealogical discoveries because someone might get confused. They are against allowing conversation on topics which might confuse people, too. (They recently announced a ban in the group on conversations about smaller segment DNA matches since even the conversation might confuse people.) To me, it was like the BS that Chicago initially tried to pull after McDonald – you need training, but we won’t allow ranges where you can learn. The same thing in Boston (assuming they still do this) where you have to shoot a certain score on a target to get your gun license, but you can’t buy your own handgun to practice with until you get the license.

I don’t know how you solve this problem when their ultimate goal is to keep people stupid. Clearly, this is not a new attitude in human history. We’ve seen it repeated over and over. Regardless, it still drives me nuts since I can’t seem to get away from them, even when I take up a new hobby!

New Rules on Lost and Stolen Guns?

Apparently the Obama Administration are drafting new rules, along with ATF, who know a thing or two about losing track of guns, I hear:

Currently, gun dealers with a federal license are required to tell federal agents after they discover a firearm has gone missing, but they aren’t required to do routine checks.

“They can discover a gun missing today and have no idea when it went missing, which really makes that information useless to law enforcement,” said Chelsea Parsons, associate director of crime and firearms policy at the Center for American Progress.

The White House office has 90 days to review the proposed rule before releasing it to the public and allowing them to comment.
My guess is they will require inventory be taken on some ridiculous and burdensome regular interval. Anything to harass more dealers out of the business. What’s interesting it that appropriations riders prevent ATF from implementing such a rule. This is definitely something to keep an eye on.

Less Than Sober Police Can Arrest You For Being More Sober

Did you know that in Ohio, some police officers are allowed to be on their way to legal intoxication, get in a car, drive to pull over other motorists, and arrest people who have lower BACs than the officer making the arrest? This special protection is offered through union contracts, and chiefs who have been disturbed by the double standard can’t get it removed.

This is just a reminder that it’s not just on gun issues that we see special protections for police officers who may have the authority to arrest a citizen for engaging in the same kind of behavior that isn’t hurting anyone else.

Quote of the Day: Government Screw-Ups Edition

Tam shares my befuddlement that people are shocked, SHOCKED that the government could possibly screw up something as big as Obamacare.

The naive credulity these people have towards the power of government, their blind faith that they can tamper with the machinery without it hurting anybody, differs in kind nor quality not one lick from the most snake-handlin’ Pentecostal’s faith that Jesus will keep the serpent from biting.

They look down on people of faith, but they are just as much the same. Even worse, because they put their faith in men.

The Gift the Keeps on Giving

More dead people in Mexico thanks to the Obama Administration’s gun walking scandal… err… sorry… grenade walking scandal. This scandal would have brought down a Republican administration, had something like this happened on their watch. But as it is, it was too easily dismissed as the work of lower-level incompetence.

UPDATE: Just to be clear, the title is sarcastic.

Justice Ginsberg and the Second Amendment

Justice Ginsberg still believes in the militia theory of the Second Amendment, but I think it’s good she doesn’t feel any pressure to retire while Barack Obama is President. She believes the next President will be a Democrat anyway. It’s a gamble for the Heller dissent. If Ginsburg retired during Obama’s Administration, there’d be a strong likelihood she’d be replaced by another justice who would like to overturn the Heller decision and redact the Second Amendment right out of the Bill of Rights.

But I don’t really blame Justice Ginsburg for wanting to hang on. For one thing, she might be right about a Democrat winning in 2016. Conventional wisdom for Democrats in DC is that the Republicans are finished, and they need not worry about losing the White House again. I think that’s wildly optimistic on their part, but it’s a common belief. The other reason I don’t blame her is I’m not sure I’d want to retire either. What would you do all day? I’d find things to amuse myself, sure, but I’d imagine Justice Ginsburg’s work is far more interesting than anything one would typically find for amusement in retirement.

How’s That Shutdown Working For Ya?

Today the sun came up, the Internet still works, I was able to buy gas, and it would seem that a partial shutdown of the government has no effect on the properties of concrete and asphalt. I can keep this up as long as they want. I don’t get why people get so angry over stuff like this, as polls show the government shutdown is unpopular. Do you notice? I don’t. Apparently NICS is considered critical, so gun sales aren’t stopping. I guess Obama didn’t want to risk the default proceed.

Waiting Periods are Back

It looks like Washington, DC wants to institute new waiting periods. The reason?

“They can’t be responsible for themselves, as well as the person doing the work on them,” [Council member Yvette M. Alexander] said. “We’re making sure when that decision is made that you’re in the right frame of mind, and you don’t wake up in the morning . . . saying, ‘Oh my God, what happened?’”

The new waiting periods are for tattoos and piercings. The people cannot be trusted to make decisions with their own bodies, so the government must restrict it.

I love how the tattoo artist interviewed notes that if the concern is regulating regret, then they could just restrict serving clearly intoxicated patrons. Instead, the new regulations will likely drive business underground where they won’t even honor basic regulations that actually have to do with public health concerns. Everyone will be more at risk to health problems because the DC City Council wants to institute a waiting period to stop even perfectly sober people from being pierced or inked on a whim.

For what it’s worth, I’ve had multiple piercings done on a whim. When I decided that I regretted one, I didn’t need a government bureaucrat to solve the problem for me. I managed to allow the hole to close completely on my own without an overbearing nanny state holding my hand. I’m sure that somewhere a bureaucrat is weeping to know that a citizen managed to make a decision without them.

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