More Tax Shifting

Looks like another attempt by the House Democrats to shift my taxes around in ways I don’t like:

The committee approved House Bill 1600, by Rep. David Levdansky, D-Forward. He proposes raising about $2.5 billion by doing three things. He would raise the state sales tax by 0.5 percent (making it 6.5 percent in most counties but 7.5 percent in Allegheny and Philadelphia counties.)

He would also raise the personal income tax rate by .22 percent, to a total of 3.29 percent. Those two moves would take effect July 1. Together they would generate an additional $1.5 billion, to which he would add the expected $1 billion from slots revenue once all 14 casinos are up and running. The resulting $2.5 billion would be used to lower property taxes.

Mr. Levdansky expects such tax shifting will slice several hundred dollars from the average homeowner’s property tax bills. The full House is expected to debate the bill in November.

Several hundred dollars?  That’s it?  The tax increase will cost me a more than that.   Is the concept of cutting spending and using that to cut my property taxes so hard to do?  Maybe if we didn’t have a governor wasting money on things like building soccer stadiums in Chester, we might be able to pull it off.

Welcome Rustmeister

Quite a bold statement buying the Distinguished Life Membership.  Even I’m not a life member.  The one thing I’d remind everyone is that if you’re an NRA member, you should also be aware of the Political Victory Fund, or as I like to call it, the “Defeat Hillary Fund”.  Thanks to our lovely campaign finance laws, PVF can only be supported through member donations.   Thanks John McCain!

Jayne Lynn Stahl – Part II

Jayne is posting another screed over at the HuffPo.  We will do this one in the style of a fisking.

It was never my intention to rant against the National Rifle Association, or law enforcement, but instead call for a closer look at a national ethos which enables, and legitimizes, the use of weapons, and deadly force in lieu of dedicated problem solving.

Have you ever tried dedicated problem solving with someone who has a gun or a kinfe pointed at you?  Would it be shocking that the criminals out on the streets, many who would kill you for a quarter, or just for the thrill, aren’t really that interested in working through their problems?   Are you really this delusional?  If you’d rather be a victim, I have no problem.  That’s your choice.  But don’t berate those who choose not to be.

Why this egregious absence of legislation attempting to stem the proliferation of assault rifles, hand guns, and illegal firearms in the past several years? A virile, righteous, and omnipresent gun lobby has successfully managed to silence their opposition, as has a vice president who, while he may not have the best aim, is himself a devout hunter, and a foreign policy which caters to the hunter ethos. Silencers aren’t only being used for firearms; they’re now handy ways to stifle dissent, too.

What outrageous ignorance and arrogance.  Do you know anything about the “hunter ethos”?  Do you know what an assault rifle is?  Do you know they have been illegal for several decades already?  Have you ever spent any time talking to hunters and other outdoor sportsmen?  No one is stifling your dissent.  You have a right to speak your mind, and we have a right to speak ours.  Any anti-gun person is perfectly free to come on here and comment.  We’d be happy to have a dialog.  Interested Jayne?

From the beginning of time, the forces of darkness have somehow managed to overpower, and silence, the forces of light. This explains the phenomenon of extinction. And, if things continue at this rate, we, too, will be staring down the barrel of an existential shotgun. One can only hope that it isn’t loaded.

Jayne, we’ve had firearms as a technology for at least half a millennium.  Why is it only now that we are suddenly so depraved as a society that we can no longer deal with them?  What a dour world view you have to believe darkness will always win in the end.  How can you look at the technological wonders we’ve created as a civilization, how the values embodied in The Enlightenment have been spreading all over the world, and conclude that the forces of darkness are winning and will win out in the end?  I would hope people of your persuasion would have a little more optimism than that.

The Underwhelming Senator

In 2006, Robert Casey unseated Rick Santorum from his senate seat.  To be honest, I decided to vote for Casey, despite the fact that Santorum had an excellent record on guns, and was endorsed by the NRA.  I voted for Casey because Santorum, quite honestly, scared the hell out of me with his views on a lot of social issues.  Casey got a good NRA rating, and kept saying he was a friend of gun owners, so I figured he’d be willing to fight for us.

I would appear to have been wrong.  I don’t think Casey is going to join the ranks of Chuck Schumer or Diane Feinstein any time soon, but he certainly doesn’t seem to be aware of the issues that are of concern to us, as his generic form letter response would indicate.

I’ve been singularly unimpressed by Senator Casey since taking office, mostly because I haven’t seen him doing anything.   Not that I want politicians to be busy doing things, other nursing a mild case of alcoholism in the local DC bars and eateries.  If more politicians did that instead of making laws, we might actually be better off.  But if Senator Casey dropped off the face of the earth, I don’t think I’d notice.  Would anyone notice?

Clearly, if The Senator wants to be a friend of gun owners, if he wants to earn his NRA rating, and maybe get an endorsement someday, he needs to get his staff to do a better job of communicating with gun owners.  We’re an important political constituency in this state, even for Democrats, and we’re not impressed by generic one-size-fits-all form letters.

DC Anti-Gun Programs

Thirdpower has a post detailing a fairly disturbing program that will be run in DC, that includes deputization of DC police as federal agents

Some days, the unit will employ “high-intensity traffic stops,” pulling over cars for minor offenses to try to establish probable cause to search vehicles. Officers also will use informants to help them secure search warrants for suspected gun holders.

Employ “high-intensity traffic stops?”  I’d rather call it by its real name. “high-intensity crapping on the fourth amendment.”

Brady Deceptions

Some of you might remember that earlier this year, The Brady Campaign put out a piece called No Gun Left Behind: The Gun Lobby’s Campaign to Push Guns Into Colleges and Schools. Howard Nemerov, who is the “unofficial” investigative analyst for NRA News, has produced an excellent piece [PDF] that highlights many of the Brady Campaigns deceptions in this report. Let’s take a look at one:

To bolster their claims, Brady’s report contains an appendix of stories where alleged CCW licensees broke the law. Of the two cases researched so far, both of these incidents have proven to be self-defense, while Brady insinuates both cases were murder.

Color me unsurprised. In the report it is also detailed that Brady claimed a CCL holder, Jon Loveless, shot a man because he gave him a “weird look”. Howard manages to dig up the context for that accusation:

Loveless told detectives he thought it was going to be a friendly meeting to discuss a piece of radio equipment, but when he pulled his truck alongside Eichhorn’s truck he said Eichhorn had a gun pointed at him.

Loveless, who has a concealed weapons permit, said he retrieved his gun from his glove compartment and pointed it at Eichhorn.

“Loveless claims that he directed Eichhorn to drop the weapon but that Eichhorn got a weird look” on his face,” Detective Jon Thompson wrote. “Believing that Eichhorn was about to fire his handgun, Loveless instead fired his handgun several times.”

So it would seem that even the examples of CCL holders that Brady has managed to dig up and hold out as criminals are turning out not to be criminals after all. Download and read Howard’s whole report.

The Moral Foundation

This post from Clayton got me thinking about something I wrote last year when I was still writing on Live Journal for an audience of about 25 people.

When evaluating current events, a good knowledge of history is essential for being able to place those events in context and understand them. It makes sense why even very educated leftists often overlook history, or seldom appeal to it; leftism is a forward looking philosophy that desires to achieve the perfection of man.

The history of man is replete with evidence that he is not perfectible. Human history is really nothing but horror and brutality, followed by periods of civilization, which also contain horror and brutality, just on a lesser scale, and accompanied by wonderful achievements.

I am not a religious man, but I do think, as a philosophical construct, the Judeo-Christian notion that man is fallen from God is a worthwhile one. An agnostic would say that man is just a primate species that has language and thumbs, and otherwise isn’t all that different from most other hominids. Can we really expect perfection of a bunch of damned dirty apes with big brains?

I don’t believe in the perfectibility of man, but I do believe man can and should better himself, which is what our civilization, based on the values of The Enlightenment, is about. The radical elements of Islam wish to take us back to a pre-enlightenment age, essentially destroying our current civilization. Many people on the right and center right wonder how those of the radical anti-war left can be so dismissive of radical Islam as a threat, since it stands against everything the left claims to hold dear. But I think their desire to perfect man, rather than accept him as fallen, offers an explanation. While those of the left are products of our civilization, they despise its lack of perfection, and therefore have little issue with it being swept away and replaced.

I agree with John Adams that you need a moral society to have civilization, but you don’t need a religious society to achieve that. It is possible to achieve moral status without being religious. But you do need a population that buys into the moral constructs of your civilization. Where people like Clayton and I sometimes find disagreement is on what those moral constructs ought to be.

I think the moral constructs embodied in our Constitution, which I would note does not once mention God, and the other founding documents of our nation, which sometimes do, are our nation’s moral foundations. This was best summed up by James Madison in Federalist 51:

It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

Madison was aware that what was to become the federal government was to rely primary on flawed human being for its just administration. Our founders harbored few notions about man’s perfectibility, and thankfully our system was well designed to be administered by flawed human beings.

As much as I disagree with some religious folks on a great many social issues, the greatest risk we face as a nation is from those who desire to put too much faith in men, not those who put too much faith in God.

“They Will Never Come For My Deer Gun”

We’ve all heard that line from hunting aficionados. We’ve certainly seen groups like American Hunters and Shooters Association claim that we can have “reasonable” gun laws, and it won’t threaten hunting. In the past few weeks we’ve seen examples in the State of California and the State of New Jersey, that show hunters have a lot to fear when their gun rights are infringed.

The State of New Jersey has been eroding gun rights and slowly strangling its shooting culture since 1968. There are still a lot of shooters over in The Garden State, but they have been in the political wilderness since the early 1990s.

The State of New Jersey, under Governor Corzine, has canceled the bear hunt for the past several years, despite serious problems in the Garden State with overpopulation of bears, and increasing bear/human encounters. Now the animal rights groups, such as the Humane Society of the United States, and PETA, want to get the legislature to put animal rights activists on the Fish and Game Council:

Under current law, the council is made up of 11 members appointed by the governor, with stipulations that three of the members must be farmers and six must be nominated by the New Jersey Federation of Sportsmen.

The legislation proposes to reduce the council to seven members, with two appointments reserved for farmers and no appointments reserved for sportsmen. The bill also alters language defining the council’s mission — deleting the goal of “development of fish and game for public recreation and food supply” and instead defining the mission as investigating the use of “non-lethal alternatives for dealing with wildlife conflicts” and exploring “ecotourism” opportunities.

Hunters need to let that sink in real good. Activists in New Jersey destroyed gun rights first. Now they are coming after hunting. Fortunately, hunters staged a successful rally, with about 500 sportsmen, to protest A3275 and S2041.

It’s important to note that the entire New Jersey Assembly is up for election next Tuesday. If you’re in the Garden State, make sure to vote the bozos who are supporting this crap out of office, and vote for the people who are behind sportsmen.

But New Jersey hunters aren’t alone in their struggle. Everyone knows that Arnold signed the lead ammo ban in California Condor habitat, which effectively ends hunting in large swaths of California. Now it turns out they are trying to push that in Arizona as well. I doubt they will find so hearty a reception to that idea in the Grand Canyon State as in California, but it’s important to note that they eroded gun rights in California before the foundation was set for going after hunters.

I’m hoping this presents a good case for the reason that hunters and shooters need to stick together. Our fates are inexorably intertwined. Let’s hang together… I think everyone is aware of the alternative at this point.