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Was It Wrong When Your Guy Did It?

I agree that DJT’s EO ending birthright citizenship is unconstitutional. But I’m seeing a lot of this:

Unconstitutional Executive Orders? Where could he gave gotten that crazy idea from? I have an Uncle that loves to throw our the charge of “Whataboutism,” also known as pointing out hypocrisy. True Whataboutism is using someone else’s flaws to distract attention away from your own. There are certainly people out there who cheer their team, right or wrong. But a lot of people who do that wrap their cheerleading up in high-minded rhetoric and ideals. Pointing out “No, it’s just cheerleading,” is calling it for what it is. It’s no surprise the people who are having that pointed out to them don’t particularly like it. No one wants to think they are a sucker.

If it is high-minded ideals, can we all agree now that rule by EO, and specifically unconstitutional EO, is a bad thing? If yes, do we have a consensus on dismantling executive power and making the executive branch much weaker than it currently is? Or is it only bad when the other guy has the pen?

On Our Discourse

This is very much worth your time to read. From my social media feeds, I’m seeing a lot more virtue signaling about hate than I am debate over gun control.  That’s should be a good thing. Who likes hate? But it’s all coming from people who do some pretty impressive hate mongering for anyone who disagrees with them on an hourly basis. There are nazis on every street corner, you see. Trump is responsible for each and every one of them! If you voted for Trump, so are you!

In other words, more than half of my Shabbat morning congregants, and in some more traditional synagogues, almost all of them, should have the doors barred against their entry. Jews who make minyans, pay shiva calls, underwrite nursing homes and kindergartens—people who make Judaism possible, with their flawed but real human presence, for other people—should be cast out of our midst because of the levers they pull in the privacy of a voting booth. And what, after all, would a Jew who fled from Iran know about anti-Semitism—or protecting the Jewish community?

Donald Trump is neither a devil or an angel. He is not Hitler, and fascism is not descending on America. I am becoming more convinced this madness is being driven by Baby Boomers who, as a whole, were never properly socialized for social media. I’ve been participating in online communities almost since there were online communities. You have to learn the pitfalls. People are not instinctively wired to interact in this medium.

I do know people my age who are being driven mad by the algorithms, and I know plenty of Boomers who have enough self-awareness necessary to put it in context or just stay away from it. But generationally, Boomers seem to have fewer tools to cope.

Social media is total poison. Even the dealers know it. I have to embrace Social Media to cultivate an audience these days. My motivation to keep doing that, in case you can’t tell, diminishes with the day. I must pay homage to the gatekeepers. They are the first to tell me, daily. Pay us money, and you can access your audience. Once upon a time I earned my audience without transfer payments to Silicon Valley. Not anymore. I won’t pay them, but I pay for it with reduced traffic.

Armed in Houses of Worship

I’m not the church going type, but I don’t think I’ve been in a church unarmed since I got my carry permit 16 years ago. The fact is they are juicy targets for whack jobs looking for headlines. Same for festivals and other public gatherings.

Gun-toting rabbi says congregants should arm themselves.

I couldn’t agree more. I get a lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea of guns in churches, but the fact is that the quickest way to end a mass shooting is accurate and prompt return fire. Doesn’t matter whether it’s the cops or someone else. Carefully aimed bullets are carefully aimed bullets, and despite what idiots in the media think, these are trainable scenarios where armed citizens usually prevail when around. Other than the emotional reaction, there’s nothing special about a church as a place that makes it different for carrying than any other place.

Giving Him What He Wants

There’s an article running in USA Today that is offering the mass killer exactly what he wants. I was reluctant to link to it, but people should see. “Who is [murdering loser]? Accused Pittsburgh synagogue shooter left anti-semitic trail.”. USA Today is hardly alone, though.

CNN: “Here’s what we know so far about [murdering loser], the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect.”

New York Times: “Who Is [murdering loser], the Suspect in the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting?

ABC: “Pittsburgh synagogue shooting: What we know about alleged mass shooter [murdering loser].”

Fox News: “Who is [murdering loser]? Pittsburgh synagogue suspect posted views online.”

Oh yeah, go read his manifesto and everything. From everything I’m seeing the guy was a loser. That fits the profile of most mass killers. For all the whack jobs in the tin-foil hat part of the gun community, saying this is a “false flag” because of the timing, it’s not. It all makes sense if you understand the motivation. We’ve unfortunately reached the point where in order to get the infamy you seek, you need to be politically useful to a narrative, or you need to kill a lot of people. Otherwise you’re act is going to get memory holed in a few days. If you want weeks of seeing your name in lights, you need to work for the media. This is not some crackpot theory. It’s also known that mass killers extensively plan their rampages:

Extensive planning indicates that rampage attacks serve purposes. These also fall into clear repeated patterns, including vengeance, infamy seeking, and a need for a sense of macho power, often with a background of long-term internal discord and interpersonal defeats.

We can’t do much about the other factors, but we can do someone about infamy seeking. I’m not asking the media to not cover news, and I would never suggest the government ought to restrict freedom of the press. But we can voluntarily take action. We can drive a culture that doesn’t offer infamy to those who seek it.

Don’t make the killer famous. I won’t even mention their names. I’m not going to quote the killer, but he has a quote which indicates he understood the timing of this. I believe he realized hitting this close to an election would make him useful and would drive heavy media coverage. The media fell right into place, on cue. “Who is <asshole murderer>?” Way to go guys. Out there, somewhere, the next murdering loser is taking notes.

 

 

 

Places to Shoot

It is basically impossible to maintain a healthy shooting culture without having places to shoot. Even if we change the laws in places like New York City, because they’ve been so utterly successful at destroying their gun culture, Bloomberg likely won’t ever have to worry about icky gun people in his city. There’s almost nowhere to buy a gun, and almost no places left to shoot. This is a city that once contained NRA’s primary shooting facility! Can you imagine that today? Actually, you don’t have to. This is where NRA’s range in New York City was:

Think there’s any chance of getting that facility back as a shooting range? Not a chance. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be possible to make new places to shoot in the Five Boroughs, but it’ll take generations, and a court willing to take the Second Amendment seriously.

It’s far easier not to lose those places to shoot in the first place. Generally speaking, I’m not going to air my club’s dirty laundry in a public forum. But I’ve spoken about some things either seeking advice or pointing out things that might be useful for people in the same position. I see a few comments here and there like this:

“Sorry, but, your club sounds like a Fudd club.  Are black rifles banned too?  Only 1 shot every two seconds?”

Now, my club it’s actually not a Fudd Club. It’s Gun Culture 1.5, to use that analogy. No issues with black rifles there: but we do have some rules that are… outdated. I am not likely as far behind as some other people would be in participating in an effort to bring Gun Culture 2.0 to a Gun Culture 1.0 club. But anyone struggling to help in such an endeavor has my respect: we owe it to future generations of shooters to try to preserve places to shoot.

I will fully acknowledge that some clubs and ranges are hopeless, and will die with their current leadership. I’m not suggesting every effort will always pay off, just that the effort is worth our collective time even if our individual effort fails. I can almost guarantee you that if you were to join a “Fudd Club” of sufficient size, you’re going to find allies in any effort to un-Fudd it. If you suddenly find yourself trying to take a Gun Culture 1.0 club into Gun Culture 2.0, I offer some advice:

  • Don’t be an asshole. No one likes someone who comes in with a personal agenda and has all the grace of a bull in a china shop. Those people are quickly flagged as trouble, because most of the time they are, no matter what they are selling.
  • Try some of the old shooting sports. I shot Silhouette for several years. I even shot air gun silhouette. It greatly improved certain aspects of my shooting. It’s also a great way to get to know people, which is key to changing anything. You’ll find friends in unexpected places. As I’ve introduced some more modern shooting sports, I’m finding a lot of unexpected crossover from shotgunners.
  • Be willing to help out. I was willing to help out when asked, or even when I wasn’t asked. Before I knew it, I received the ultimate punishment a club can administer to a member: I was given an officer’s position.
  • Don’t expect or push to change things overnight. I have been an officer for almost a decade at this point, and I’m just now starting to have enough influence to change some things. A lot of what got me to the point was circumstantial. It’s good to have an instinct for when an organization is ready for change, and when you’ll get resistance. When you get to those “ready for change” moments, go for it.
  • Talk to people. In deliberative bodies, if you bring an issue up and lose, that will be dead for a while. No one likes rehashing old shit that got shot down. So if you’re going to bring up an issue, be sure you have the votes. Have an idea which people are strong and weak yeas or nays. Think about compromise positions. Think about what you can do to firm up your weak votes.
  • Build systems and culture, not cults of personality. If you don’t bring other people along with what you want to do, even if you succeed in making changes, they likely won’t outlast you. People who are successful at building a legacy build systems and cultures. Culture is important, and it’s deliberate. It doesn’t just happen. It’s like a garden. You have to tend it.

I’ve heard stories of clubs that change through outright revolution. I recall a story told to me a while ago about a club in Pennsylvania who had a cadre of members that wanted to put on a machine gun shoot. The leadership said no. Next election, they replaced the leadership. That club now has an annual machine gun shoot. If you have the votes and the people willing to step up to affect that kind of thing, it’s an option. I am a reasonably good administrator. I’m a poor revolutionary. I’ve always wondered how the people who used the outright revolution managed it. I have to work within the confines of my own strengths and weaknesses, which I guess is a good final bit of advice. I’m always curious to hear stories in the comments from anyone who’s got one.

This Could Be a Disaster for Gun Control Too

Bloomberg’s The Trace is touting a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll that shows a lot of voters rank Gun Policy very high on their list of concerns. From Bloomberg’s propaganda wing:

The survey indicates that Republicans’ traditional turnout advantage on the gun issue may have eroded: 16 percent of both GOP and Democratic voters ranked gun policy as their most important issue, along with 15 percent of independent voters.

Actually, if you read the poll, GOP voters rank 17%, with Independents ranking 13%. It’s an awful stretch to assume that this means gun control is ascendent. What they are hoping is that people just assume those are gun control votes. We know there are still some Dems who care about gun rights, and I’d be very surprised if most of those independent numbers are votes for gun control.

Gun Policy is very important to me too, and I’d tell a pollster that if asked.

At Least We’re Not The Only Ones

Maybe the issue is just that not enough people give a shit about guns, if both sides are resorting to dabbling in other issues:

Gun control advocates shift attention, money to other issues ahead of midterms

I think NJT is right: there’s a viable “gun rights only please” coalition. There actually isn’t one for gun control. But both sides are seeking safety in broader coalitions. It’s hard to read the pitching seas and know what direction to steer the ship. It’s comforting to follow. But are you following everyone to disaster?

The fundamental problem is in a realignment like we’re going through, no one knows where your pet issue will end up. There’s strong temptations to seek out coalition partners that might make sense in the short term, but in the long term aren’t beneficial. You just want to get through the storm.

The Campaign to Make Us Pariahs Continues

Opinion published in Sunday’s USA Today says the Boy Scouts should ditch NRA and create their own firearms training program. This is just one guy’s opinion, so I’m not sweating it. But it shows the concerted effort to place us outside the mainstream, likely coordinated by Bloomberg, is continuing.

The NRA needs the BSA more than the BSA needs the NRA. The BSA is perfectly capable of creating a firearms safety program of its own without the NRA participation.

You want to test that nice theory? If you ask me, this is a bigger threat to the Boy Scouts, because I believe we have the cultural power in the circles BSA depends on to end it as a national organization of any consequence. This would not be a wise fight for the BSA to pick.

The Populist Backlash & Transnational Respectability

We’re pretty clearly in the middle of a global nationalist populist backlash against transnationalism.

If you had to boil the current political climate to one sentence, I think that would be it. It’s not just true in the United States, but across the whole western world. Fighting against globalization is a fool’s errand. Eventually, globalism will win, because it’s technology that’s driving it. The real fight is over whether the global order will be arranged by those who wield economic and political power for their own benefit and for the benefit of people like them, or whether the global order will be democratic and driven and arranged in such a way as to benefit the most people. In either system, the nation state probably becomes less important. In the former system, transnational institutions become less democratic and more powerful as nation states become weaker.

Currently few of our transnational institutions are democratic. The UN certainly is not. The EU has some window dressing that’s democratic, but the EU at its core it’s an undemocratic institution. The transnational corporations at the heart of the global order are not democratic at all, and have hardly any accountability.

People pretty much everywhere are voting the people who have arranged this order out of power. The United States is not immune to the populist backlash, as we learned in 2016. Trump basically took office on a promise to restore strong nationalist institutions in order to check transnational institutions that a large portion of the population believed were stacked against them. Victor Orban of Hungary is cast from the same mold. All Trump’s rhetoric on trade, the wall, immigration, etc, fits that model. It also fits with trends that we see in Europe.

All this nationalist populism is extremely threatening to the people who are arranging transnational institutions to benefit themselves. Everything you’ve been seeing in the gun issue lately fits that. Google censoring pro-gun views? Facebook doing the same? Big transnational companies like Levi’s donating large amounts to gun control? Financial institutions refusing to do business with gun makers, the NRA, etc? NRA not being able to obtain basic business insurance? That’s all been the people who control these transnational institutions attempting to put the brakes on populist sentiment using the institutional power they maintain control over. You didn’t see this happening a decade ago because a decade ago a lot of these institutions didn’t exist, or hadn’t cemented power. Facebook literally went from nothing, to a transnational corporation that can and possibly does decide national elections in 13 years. Think about that.

Very little is more threatening to an established order than the idea that they might be the targets of an armed revolt. Despite what many people think, it’s not because transnational elites want to kill you. Few of them are potential mass murderers, and most of them really do believe the order they are establishing is kind, civilized, and will benefit humanity. In fact, mass murderers have more often been from populist movements. Nazism and Bolshevism were not movements of elites. What transnational elites want to maintain first and foremost is the acceptance and respect of other transnational elites who are like themselves.

In most countries, the established order can keep their thumb on the peasantry to maintain an order to their liking and still maintain respectability. In the democratic countries of Europe, ordinary people can still complain, and still participate in their democratic institutions, but they can’t complain that much. In authoritarian states like China and Russia, ordinary people can’t complain in any meaningful way at all. While China might be fairly concerned with respectability, Russia is not really at all.

It’s a different story here. Our peasantry can complain: with guns and bullets. It’s almost happened a few times recently in the US, so this isn’t some abstract possibility, only applicable in theory. We’ve seen it. And the people who did it are, for the most part, still alive and not in prison. Some people will argue this is a bug. I think it’s a feature. It’s a feature because while I believe in democratic institutions, I don’t worship at the altar of majority rule. We’ve seen that democratic institutions can be coopted. We’ve seen it’s possible for an indifferent and entitlted majority to ignore minority interests completely.

Whether some want to admit it or not, having an armed population is a significant check for minorities against the depredations of the majority. I’m not speaking only of racial or religious minorities necessarily here, though it’s true for them too. It goes back to the old quote from Al Capone: “You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.” To the kind of people arranging the transnational order, this is the Worst Thing Ever. Not necessarily because it threatens their power in the immediate, but because it threatens their respectability with other people like them.

Cliven Bundy and his family are still alive. Is there any reader out there who thinks Eric Holder couldn’t have given an order to ruthlessly crush the Bundys and anyone who came to their aid? Almost certainly he could have. Whether that would have set in motion a chain of events that would have escalated toward a much wider conflict I think is debatable, and I think it probably would have. But in the immediate, Holder could have wiped them out. There would have been bloodshed on both sides, but in the short term, Holder would have won. But he didn’t give that order. Why? Because he would have lost all respect from other transnational elites. Ruthlessly crushing rebellions isn’t a respectable business these days in those circles. That kind of thing might get you respect in Moscow, but not Davos.

They hate your gun because your gun is a threat to their respectability. They can never be the equal to the European transnationalists, because no matter how carefully things are arranged, as long as you remain armed, you get to have a say. You can force them to risk their respectability by behaving more like Tsar Vladimir, or having to actually listen to you and take your interests seriously. They find both options distasteful. Most pro-gun people intrinsically understand this. And yes, many anti-gun folks do as well. Bloomberg, I’m convinced, understands this completely.

Draw From Holster

With club elections now behind me, a new system to manage prospective members in place and seemingly working, I’ll have some more time now. I’m interested in bringing a Steel Challenge match to my club. The only problem is we don’t allow drawing from holster. Maybe I could get an exception for the match, but I think that’ll be a tough climb. The fact is there are some risks associated with letting any yahoo draw and fire from holster, and I’ve seen enough sloppy gun handling there to be wary of it even myself. But I’m also finding people will rise to the competence that’s expected of them… in other words, as I’ve been running matches, I’m seeing gun handling practices get better.

If I were to run a Steel Challenge-like match, I’d probably need to get people’s gun handling skills up before we could do anything like draw-from-holster. I’m curious what other people might have done in this situation, and how other clubs that allow draw from holster or allow limited draw from holster manage it. If you run a Steel Challenge match, which means it’s an open match, how do you know the shooter showing up actually knows how to do a safe draw? Is there ever any safety check? Pre-qualification? Do you police equipment? I’ve looked at other clubs in the area, and some allow it, but only for qualified people.

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