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Dec 19, 2013
I’ve finished with both my Civil War ancestors at the National Archives. I was really completely unprepared for how this whole thing was going to work, so I thought I might share some tips of anyone else decides to do some research there.
- You can bring your own flatbed scanner. I knew this ahead of time, so I brought mine. But a lot of documents are larger than the standard 8.5×11, so a standard consumer scanner meant for modern documents will fall short. If you can afford it, take a large format flat bed. The Archives does have one, but it’s usually being used by someone else.
- Be well hydrated ahead of time. They don’t allow any food or drink in the research room for obvious reasons, and it’s warm and dry. I was nearly ready to swill straight out of the Potomac by the time I got done.
- Don’t bring any more equipment than you can carry in. They do provide carts if you absolutely can’t carry your scan-o-magic 8000 deluxe, but everything is searched going in and out. No bags, or anything you can stuff anything into. They don’t check your pants though, so Sandy Berger is still good.
- The archives provides free locker space, but bring a quarter for the key slot. They also have a cafeteria.
- The research room is under guard and heavy surveillance. It’s pretty safe to leave your stuff and go catch a break.
- Bring a power strip. They have plugs under the desks, but one is occupied by your desk lamp. I chose to go without the desk lamp.
- Civil War pension files tend to be much much larger than you would expect. It took a good solid two hours to scan each one, though I have an 8.5×11 scanner, so I had to do a lot of shifting of larger documents to capture everything.
- The Archive staff are incredibly helpful and nice.
- It’s really easy to get a researchers badge. Basically follow a power point presentation on how not to destroy history, and on how they do things, and it’s yours. Pay attention though because they explain how you request and check out documents.
I was really surprised. It’s interesting to hold original documents that your 3x great grandfather wrote by hand in ink. Because the Archives stores these documents under pretty ideal conditions, 150 year old documents look better than some of my family documents from the 1950s and 60s.
And just for those anti-gunners that act like no gun ever killed someone before Satan invented the semi-automatic firearm and marketed to paranoid gun nuts, reading the description of what happened to my 3rd great-grandfather at Antietam was pretty horrific. I’d like to see someone tell him that those old muskets weren’t fine killing machines.
First, the mini ball blew his right thumb clean off. Then it entered his chest about 4 inches below the nipple. It blew one of his ribs apart. According to one surgeon’s report, the ball passed between his lung and liver, and exited near his spinal column. Another later physicians report said the lung had been shot through, because he later received a pension increase for that wound due to breathing issues. I would think shot through the lung would be fatal back then, but maybe his lung was nonetheless still damaged. I’m sure there were bits of rib floating around in his body.
Dec 18, 2013
Right now, if all goes according to schedule, Sebastian and I are likely in the National Archives looking over the Civil War pension applications from two of his ancestors and one of mine. This new genealogy hobby has opened the door to new political issues for us since, as you might expect from an overly expansive government, there are efforts to shut down resources utilized by genealogists. Since someone, somewhere might possibly misuse data, we must ban the estimated 80 million genealogists in the country from access to vital information!
What I found interesting and relevant to post on this blog was a peek at the influence of NRA on the political process compared to some other interest groups.
Back in 2012, there was a hearing held on the uses and value of the Social Security death records, and genealogists were not even on the witness list. In fact, it goes further than that:
No genealogist has ever been permitted to testify at a hearing regarding the SSDI. Melinde Lutz Byrne, at that time President of the American Society of Genealogists, sat in the hearing audience when Commissioner Astrue uttered his remarks. Her in-person testimony was banned by Chairman Sam Johnson.
Can you imagine a situation where Congress would refuse to listen to any pro-gun group at all on any major gun issue? Let’s face it, even if they only invite NRA to try and pick on them, even anti-gun lawmakers tend to want to hear from the opposition for at least political points. That doesn’t mean they take the pro-rights arguments seriously, but at least they allow a voice to be heard. The genealogists can’t even be heard – not even once.
I just found that to be an interesting little perspective on how hard gun owners have worked to be taken seriously. Now we just need some 2014 election wins to help remind lawmakers why they should keep listening to us.
Dec 18, 2013
The District of Columbia has changed their registration law, and they estimate as many as 40-50,000 gun owners may face up to a year in jail if they don’t make an effort to learn about the change in the law.
On Jan. 1, DC gun owners will have 90 days to jump through the entire gun registration process all over again. This means in person stops at the police department and all sorts of bureaucratic headaches. However, not jumping through these hoops (all over again) will mean that in 180 days, they are illegally possessing firearms and will face jail for it.
The media is highlighting that there are concerns that not all gun owners will learn about this change in the law, and that could cause unintentional non-compliance with extreme consequences.
Dec 17, 2013
After the Colorado recall success, I got the impression that some gun owners online thought that pro-Second Amendment forces could tackle any anti-gun effort anywhere. As any reader of this blog knows, we’re fans of political reality, so cheering on a recall effort should be done only after careful consideration.
There was a minor recall attempt in Exeter, RI that went badly for gun owners there, and now the leaders feel vindicated.
This is just one more reminder that it’s absolutely vital that activist gun owners get involved in their local communities so that they can factor in feelings on the ground about lawmakers and consider all of the details that may make a difference between victory and defeat that might embolden anti-gun forces.
We were both pretty cautious about the latest Colorado recall effort, but then a state resident pointed out important factors (like the length of her term and district makeup) that made the case for recall. And, even though the Democratic replacement is still anti-gun, we won that since it still sent a political message that just like your healthcare plan, you can’t keep your seat.
While being tuned into the gun debate around the country is handy to see what other people do to successfully promote the Second Amendment, it’s more important to be involved locally so that you remind your own lawmakers that you are watching their votes before there’s a need to recall them.
Dec 16, 2013
Link here. It’s a very in-depth article, and there are a lot of potential takeaways, including how remarkably dumb our opponents were. But I would note I’m rather skeptical of the sources of some items in this report, as I suspect they are mostly Joe Manchin’s office, and other people who have a vested interest in discrediting NRA. Generally speaking, NRA won’t speak to investigative reporters, so if there’s a source for, say:
In their conversations, Cox told LaPierre that he did not yet have a clear sense of how their congressional allies were reacting to the Newtown shootings. Cox’s instinct was that the N.R.A. should stay quiet for the time being, as it had done following past shootings. Instead LaPierre decided to respond forcefully, without consulting the N.R.A.’s lobbyists or its full 76-member executive board. One week after the shootings, he stood behind a lectern at the Willard InterContinental hotel a few blocks from the White House and broke into a blistering attack on the news media, the movie industry and video-game manufacturers while defiantly declaring, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
It would be interesting to know who’s talking to the enemy (The NYT is the enemy). I suspect a leak from a member of the Board. A lot of people are upset that the report states they were working with Manchin’s office. I would note the source for this is likely Joe Manchin’s office, who aren’t exactly enamored with NRA these days.
But I’ll accept that it’s true, for the sake of argument. Even if it’s true that they were negotiating over the bill, I would kind of expect NRA to be sure, if there aren’t votes to stop it, that what passes is less of a disaster for gun owners. Note this from the article:
The N.R.A. declared war on those who helped pass the 1994 assault-weapons ban, most of whom were Democrats, but while the bill was being crafted, the N.R.A. worked with two of its House Democratic allies, John Dingell and Jack Brooks of Texas, to weaken it so that if it did pass, it would apply to only a limited number of firearms and would expire a decade later. (It did not pass again.)
As it was this time, we had the votes to kill the Manchin-Toomey deal outright, so it was done. Did GOA have anything to do with that? I’m sure they believe they did, and I’m also sure they likely told that to the author of this article. But does anyone seriously want to argue that we’d have been better off if Dingell and Brooks hadn’t negotiated to get important element like the sunset provision? Does anyone feel confident after failing to outright repeal the bill in 1996, we’d have had any luck now?
Too many people think politics is all binary choices. It’s not that kind of game. If you can buy yourself a little insurance, in case the vote goes badly for you, you do it. If we hadn’t done that in 1994, we’d all still be living under the federal assault weapons ban, and that ban would have looked more like California’s than what eventually passed.
Dec 12, 2013
This is veering off topic, but while I have the makings of another tab-clearing news link, everyone is all atwitter about the Ryan budget deal. I haven’t been able to get all that worked up about it, to be honest, because it seemed another case of the grassroots conservatives wanting to fight on every front all of the time rather than picking battles carefully. I see this quite often in the gun issue. A lot of people got worked up over UFA renewal, but it’s the wrong battle to fight at the wrong time. The bill has nearly zero impact on every day gun rights, and for a lot of reasons I think it’s fine to kick that fight ten years down the road for now.
Megan McArdle wrote an article today I think is correct in term of analyzing the Ryan deal.
But if they do nothing at all, many reason, they get all the sequestration cuts. Why trade them away?
To avoid another showdown. Though I, too, would like government to shrink, I think this is the right policy trade-off; shutdowns are making it harder and harder to talk about rational budget policy in this town. And tactically, I think this is a clear win for the Republican Party. The last thing they need right now is to take the focus off the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and revive Obama’s flagging poll numbers with an ill-timed budget battle. Their best shot at a budget they really like is, after all, to retake the Senate in 2014.
RTWT. From my reading of it, the Ryan deal is meant to avert another government shutdown, which the Democrats have been preparing to do. Another shutdown would be a disaster for the GOP, because as Megan says, it would take the focus off the flaming train wreck that the ACA is turned out to be. That’s why the Dems would love to precipitate another shutdown in order to distract the low-information voters from their own failures and focus everything back on how awful the GOP is.
Of course, the GOP won’t say that, because they would rather piss on your leg and tell you it’s raining, and that, I think, pretty much sums up the GOP’s problem, which is messaging and communication. That gets back to what Glenn Reynolds noted:
I think that’s right. I think the problem is that a lot of the grassroots don’t trust the GOP leadership to do that. The leadership might want to think about what it can do to build such trust.
No one trusts them because a) the 1994 revolution turned into a non-revolution, and b) the GOP sucks at communicating. The Ryan deal may be necessary, but the GOP leadership would rather kick the grassroots in the teeth and offer platitudes than talk to them like actual adults. Want to understand the popularity of Chris Christie? Because he communicates, and treats voters like adults. Corbett, by contrast, just hiked my gas taxes and then has the nerve to send me a fundraising letter bragging about how he eliminated the retail gas tax (failing to mention that he accomplished this through a massive hike in the wholesale gas tax). Maybe we had to hike the gas tax. Maybe that was the only way to get a transportation bill funded. But don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining. Level with me. The GOP might be playing a bad hand the best they can right now, but you’d never know it, because they have no idea how to communicate to voters. If you ask me, that’s the GOP’s number one problem.
Dec 11, 2013
Imagine a situation where an armed robber breaks into your home, but maybe you do or don’t have a means to defend yourself. What you do have is a phone with access to 911, and let us pretend for a moment that the local cops can get there in time to save you. What would keep you from using the phone in that situation?
Well, thanks to the efforts of Bloomberg-ally and MAIG Mayor Tom Leighton, you might lose your home if you call the police. You may face permanent eviction if you dare call the police while in danger. If you live paycheck-to-paycheck and can’t afford another place to live, then maybe you hide in the closet and hope for the best instead of calling the police.
See, this MAIG mayor has instituted a “one-strike ordinance” that allows his city to shut down any property for up to six months (without a hearing or notice) if the property is ever the site of a single gun or drug crime.
Another town instituted a similar rule that, instead of shutting down a property, fines the landlords as punishment, and a victim of domestic violence was threatened with eviction after the police were called to help her. When the boyfriend showed up again and stabbed her in the neck, she was too fearful of losing a roof over her young daughter’s head to call the police. Even as she was bleeding from her wounds, she pleaded with her neighbors not to call the police on her attacker because she and her daughter would be the ones punished and left without a home.
That case has resulted in litigation, and despite seeing the impact of this rule on a domestic violence victim, MAIG Mayor Leighton stands by using the one-strike ordinance, even if the ultimate result is to punish the poor for calling police when trouble lurks in their neighborhoods.
By supporting efforts to disarm citizens, Leighton forces them to rely on police. Now he’s punishing those who do rely on the police and who cannot afford to move if their landlords evict them because they dared call the police while in danger.
Dec 9, 2013
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.
Dec 9, 2013
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.
Dec 6, 2013
There are accusations that discounted or free licenses to carry are being granted to political friends and supporters of the Sheriff of Beaver County, and the story just gets weird from there.
From the various reports, it apparently started when a citizen sitting in a public area of the public office recorded a conversation between the Sheriff and a Constable that revealed he was undercharging for permits for selected people. The recording became public, and the Sheriff’s first response appears to have been to call the District Attorney and demand that there be an investigation for violation of the wiretap laws and leaking of confidential information rather than address the real problem of using licenses to carry in this manner and possibly shorting the county its share of fees.
It turns out that the DA found there was zero expectation of privacy between the individuals given their roles as public officials and where they had their conversation, and nothing confidential was leaked. So, the Sheriff now appears to claim that it was all above board because he was purposefully handing out the licenses in order to see if one of his secretaries who had recently filed a grievance against the office was leaking information. However, the person who benefited with the discounted license was apparently never informed prior to the event that he was part of such a plot and had to pay up later. Needless to say, there are people who doubt the after-the-fact claims of a secret investigation.
It appears the DA has turned the evidence related to the issuance of discounted licenses to carry over to state authorities, and a source tells the local paper that a grand jury has been called related to some sort of investigation into the Sheriff’s office.
They also report that the state Auditor General’s office found the Sheriff may not be charging the appropriate fees mandated by the state for carry licenses or writs of execution, which now means the County Controller is also investigating.
It’s very odd, indeed. Even if the licenses are being issued according to the law in regards to background checks, it is very troubling to hear that there are concerns that discounts and freebies are being used to benefit political supporters while those who aren’t so well-connected are forced to pay the higher, state-mandated price.