Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Testing a 25,000-ft jump in preparation for an attempt at the vertical sound barrier later this year.

How'd they get the picture?

The UndieShoe

They say it's all the rage in China.

Shooting At Shoplifters

Last Friday a mall security guard in Roanoke, VA fired a shot into the air to apprehend a shoplifter.

Yesterday in Montgomery County, MD a uniformed officer fired into a car in which two shoplifters were attempting to flee, and the driver was trying to hit the officer.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Miss Your Flight, Spend Four Days In Jail

At the Volokh Conspiracy, the Strange Case of Revell vs. Port Authority.

Passenger books flight involving a change of planes in Newark, New Jersey. (That was his first mistake right there.)

He was transporting a properly declared handgun and, in a separate, locked container, ammunition for same.

His flight was late arriving in Newark and he missed his connection. He collected his luggage and spent the night in a hotel. Ye Gods! In Newark?

The next morning he returned to the airport and attempted to check in for the next flight to his ultimate destination, Allentown, PA. He declared the unloaded firearm and was immediately arrested.

Interesting case and discussion of the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA).

Monday, March 29, 2010

NYPD Finds Huge Weapons, Drug Cache

Looks like a collection of old hunting rifles and shotguns, some of them older than I am. Neighbors told reporters that the guns were inherited from the old man's grandfather and uncle.

The drugs? Paxil, Xanax and so forth; the "suspects" had prescriptions for them.

Typical New York City hysteria. I wonder, what was the basis for the search warrant? Might be an interesting test case if all of the residents have clean criminal records.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fast Food Makes Us Impatient, Study Suggests

Marvelous headline, which unwittingly illustrates, in just seven words, the dichotomy between cause and effect. This is an actual scientific study from the University of Toronto.

The researchers are implying that something in fast food makes us impatient: trans fat, sugar, red meat, hormones, genetically modified veggies, or some combination.

It seems never to have occurred to the researchers that people who are already impatient might prefer fast food because it is, well, fast. That explanation fits the data just as well, and is considerably more plausible.

The headline should read, "Impatient People Prefer Fast Food", but that's an even more obvious tautology, and won't get you published.

U.S. Healthcare Reform Is Boon For India Outsourcing Companies

Oh, isn't that special!

Christian Science Monitor:

The bulge in administrative work may look like a nightmare to American insurance firms and government employees. But to outsourcing executives here in India, it’s heaven-sent. A number of Indian companies are already anticipating an increase in workload thanks to Obama's healthcare law.

The addition of 32 million insured Americans is “very significant” for Indian outsourcers, says Ananda Mukerji, chief executive officer of Firstsource Solutions in Mumbai. Companies like his will see “increased opportunities” as US health insurers and hospitals scramble to reorganize to comply with the new law, he wrote in an email to the Monitor.

This extra work will include processing new enrollments, organizing bigger member databases, processing more claims, providing more support services, and managing more revenue, he says.

Calfornia Ballot Initiative To Legalize Marijuana

"We spend so much time, our police do, chasing around these nonviolent drug offenders, we don't have time anymore to protect our people from murders and child molesters," said Jack Cole, president of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group that plans to champion the California proposal between now and the election.
The initiative, also known as the "Tax Cannabis Act," received enough signatures this week to qualify for the November ballot. If it is approved, California would become the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use by adults. The measure would also give local governments the authority to regulate and tax pot sales.
I'll never touch the stuff, but this is a step in the right direction. And I don't know how they can tax something that you can grow in you own backyard, but still...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Interesting Gun Case

In the Second Circuit. In Connecticut, a man named Peter Kuck applied for renewal of his carry permit. The Dept. of Public Safety phoned him and told him that he would have to provide proof of citizenship, because permits are not available to non-citizens. Kuck objected, since he had already documented his citizenship back in 1987 when he first obtained his CCW. The DPS denied his renewal and Kuck filed an appeal with the Board of Firearm Permit Examiners. The Board scheduled Kuck's hearing for eighteen months hence. Kuck sued.

The Board told the Court that their extremely heavy workload required such lengthy delays.

Here's the kicker: Kuck was a member of the BFPE and had access to their records. He showed the Court that in a single year, the Board had held only 40 appeal hearings; that's fewer than four a month, hardly a "heavy workload". In the same period, the Board "mooted" 249 appeals; that is, they made the applicant wait for 14-20 months, then quietly approved the application on the eve of the hearing. The Court found that this was consistent with an effort to use bureaucratic delays to deny "due process".

Interesting metric for use against similar regimes (NYC, DC, Chicago, etc.) in the future!

The Volokh Conspiracy, via Of Arms And The Law.

[Update:] One commenter adds: "The Second Circuit covers New York State and its arbitrary, discriminatory, expensive and burdensome pistol licensing scheme. After McDonald comes through, NY’s pistol licensing is in trouble!"

[Update] I should also point out that this decision is limited to a procedural question: now the suit may move forward and be heard on its merits. And another commenter points out, if the state can require proof of citizenship each time you renew your CCW license, can they also require proof of citizenship each time you vote? Hmmmm!

Pew Poll Finds Increased Support For Gun Rights

The figures for Republicans and Democrats haven't changed much, but there has been a large change in Independents.

A year ago, Independents were equally divided 48% to 45% in favor of gun rights, but that 3% gap has grown to 12 percent (53-to-41) in just one year.

Also, note that the overall approval rate for gun ownership is the highest that the Pew Poll has recorded in 17 years of polling on this question.

h/t Snowflakes In Hell.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


If health care is now a "right", and the federal government can compel Americans to buy health insurance, can they also pass a law to compel us to buy guns?

Record Numbers Now Licensed To Pack Heat

Surprisingly even-handed article from MSNBC. Excerpt:

In the 1980s and ’90s, as the concealed-carry movement gained steam, Americans were killed by others with guns at the rate of about 5.66 per 100,000 population. In this decade, the rate has fallen to just over 4.07 per 100,000, a 28 percent drop. The decline follows a fivefold increase in the number of “shall-issue” and unrestricted concealed-carry states from 1986 to 2006.

Be sure to hit the poll! So far the results have nearly 80% saying they "felt very safe" knowing that people around them might be CCW-holders.

h/t Maddened Fowl.

The Bronze Age

Well, perhaps not exactly the Bronze Age.

I'm reading an archaeological book on Alexander The Great, and on page 103 is this unusual bronze plaque, now in the collection of the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

OK, but one wonders, was this made from life? And what is that funny three-cornered hat?

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Surface Of Mars

NASA released this synthetic image made from a stereoscopic pair of terrain maps:

The perspective on the vertical axis has been "stretched" three-fold to show detail. Below is the "unstretched" version:

Still, way cool, no?

Berserk Man Gets Mohawked At Miami Airport

Oh, wait, that's:
Mohawked Man Goes Berserk At Miami Airport.

Caption: "OK, now I'm really mad!"

The Dragon Lady

That's what pilots call the U-2, still in service.

The 219

I don't see the passage of the HCR bill as a victory for Obama as much as a victory for the Boston-New York-San Francisco Axis of the Democratic Party. They would like to govern based on social engineering statistics: life expectancy, infant mortality, cancer survival rates, violent crime rates, etc. And freedom be damned.

“Interstate Commerce? What does that mean when people are sick?”

The federal courts have long held that insurance is a state matter and not covered by the federal power to regulate interstate commerce, because no physical product actually changes hands. Although after Raich vs. Gonzales, it seems that the feds can now use “interstate commerce” to do anything they damned well please. Angel Raich lost her appeal because the Justice Dept. argued successfully that the six marijuana plants that she grew on her back porch affected the interstate price of marijuana; even though they admitted that she had never sold any of it, and that it was for her own use.

The biggest blow is the hit to the cherished American concept of personal responsibility. It now becomes collective responsibility.

Interestingly, in Canada, with its full-on “single-payer” healthcare system, there seems to be no legal mandate for emergency rooms to treat foreign citizens. Administrators have been known to actually stop treatment for Americans injured in auto accidents until they could determine that the patient had private health insurance that the hospital could bill. On the web I found an interesting first-person account of this from an American physician who was licensed to practice in several U.S. States and Canadian provinces.

I wonder how American hospitals handle billing ER costs for Canadians injured in auto accidents in the U.S.? Anyone know?

A likely legal outcome of HCR is that the individual mandate to buy health insurance will be found to be unconstitutional. That will not affect the universal coverage requirement of HCR, so where will the money come from if the feds can't compel everyone to buy health insurance? The federal treasury, natch. One way the feds might try to make up this deficit is by raising personal income tax rates while simultaneously allowing people who have their own health insurance to deduct every penny of it on their personal income tax returns. It's already deductible now, of course, but it's “means tested” against your AGI (“Adjusted Gross Income”). Ending the “means testing” for health insurance premiums would create yet another yawning federal deficit unless there were a countervailing personal income tax increase. This would be a back door method for compelling everyone (or every tax-payer, anyway) to purchase health insurance without offending the Constitution, but it involves a tax increase, and a big one.

One of the best arguments for universal coverage (although not the HCR Act) is the high cost of the huge number of people who use emergency rooms as their personal physicians. ER care is very expensive, and many of these folks could be treated better, and much less expensively, if they had a personal physician. But federal law requires ERs to treat and stabilize every patient who shows up, irrespective of ability to pay, and the hospitals pass the costs for that on to everybody else in the form of higher overhead, higher fees for services for patients who can pay. This is one of the reasons (of many) that healthcare costs in the U.S. are as high as they are. And the theory is that once everybody is insured, hospitals will reduce their fees commensurately.

I don't think so!

I think the hospitals will keep their rates just where they are and bill the federal government for treatment of uninsured people in their ERs. No cost savings at all, just more demands on the federal treasury.

One commenter on the internet said something like:

Somewhere in America there is a 500-lb woman with diabetes who just ate half a birthday cake and smoked her fifth cigarette of the morning. She can't afford health insurance, and we're gonna buy it for her.

I predict that large numbers of uninsured people will continue to show up in ERs and experts will wonder, “How can this possibly be?” The hospital administrators will push a clipboard of forms at these people, who will fill them out with false names and addresses, and get on with their lives. They don't want the “authorities” to know where they live or where they work, because it could cost them big bucks – get their wages garnished, for example. And this, in turn will create a demand in Congress for national identity cards; it's to prevent fraud, you see? It seems that a lot of the uninsured work at a variety of “day laborer” or temporary or part-time jobs or in the “cash economy”. These folks are not eligible for health insurance from their employers now, nor will they ever be: they change jobs too frequently for that, even under the new HCR Act. They don't have bank accounts, they don't own property, and they may not even have a fixed address. The idea that the feds will somehow be able to pin these folks down and get them to contribute to the costs of the new healthcare system is laughable.

Unless the HCR Act is repealed or amended, within a few years, the Dept. of Health and Human Services will begin issuing health insurance cards to everyone. These will be personal cards, issued to every American citizen (or “resident”, and that's a whole 'nother can of worms, isn't it?) and they will be extremely tamper-resistant. They will replace your current “Blue Cross” card (“too vulnerable to fraud, you know!”) and in fact, your own insurance company will stop issuing insurance cards in favor of the HHS card. These cards will become a defacto national identity card. Soon after that, the Transportation Security Administration will announce that these cards are now accepted as personal IDs for the purpose of air travel in the U.S. Then a few years later, the TSA will declare that these cards are mandatory for air travel (“compared to driver's licenses, they're more resistant to fraud and tampering, you know!”). The feds will attach a “rider” to a state highway bill mandating that states require drivers (and later, passengers) to carry these cards when traveling in a motor vehicle. Take that, Utah! Take that, New Hampshire! You will face sanctions if you do not carry this card on your person at all times.

At that point we will have a system of “internal passports”.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Tea Parties, The Constitution, And You

Interesting essay in the NYT by their Supreme Court correspondent about renewed interest in the U.S. Constitution. Excerpt:

The Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own guns, as opposed to one tied to militias, is another example of a transformation of a conventional understanding, Professor Levinson said, this one based on a view of the Constitution pressed by the National Rifle Association and its politically engaged supporters.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Chicks Rule, II

Women A 'Driving Force' In Ohio Handgun Sales

Mansfield, Ohio - The influx of new concealed carry permits comes as the image of the average gun owner -- a middle-aged man -- is changing.

At a recent gun show in Mansfield, where vendors peddling everything from flak jackets to military meals ready-to-eat gave the event the feel of a survivalists convention, more than a few women milled around among the scores of men buying or looking.

"Since the CCW permits, more women are getting their CCW permits than men," said David Holden, 43, owner of an East Canton gun shop and one of the show's sellers. "Women are the driving force in the gun sales."
h/t Maddened Fowl, via Buckeye Firearms.

Chicks Rule!

TCU women's rifle team ("The Horned Frogs") wins NCAA rifle team championship.

TCU Freshman Sara Scherer also won the Individual NCAA Smallbore Championship.

h/t Say Uncle.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

1941: U.S. Army Report Criticizes Garand Rifle

From Time Magazine.

Interesting in light of subsequent events. I believe we won that war.

Patton: "The greatest battlefield implement ever devised."

That sort of thing.

h/t Say Uncle.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Other Woman

John Edwards' mistress, Rielle Hunter, gives her first interview, in GQ.

And of course, there's already a "making of" video:

There's a lot of bitterness and vitriol on the Web, but my favorite is this limerick:

Rielle said she went with the flow
In GQ & let her skin show.
Had she been less reckless
And got a pearl necklace
Then Johnny's seed never would sow.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My "Slaughter" Amendment

I offer this as our next amendment to the Constitution:

Except as provided for elsewhere in this Constitution, neither house of Congress shall conduct any business except by a simple majority of those present and voting. The term "business" shall include, but not be limited to, any question, motion, resolution, ruling or vote.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pelosi "Deems" Elections Unnecessary

The comments about the "Slaughter Solution" over at the Volokh Conspiracy are priceless:

Why not have an up or down vote on the Senate bill? Because it will fail. It will fail because representatives get to go before the voters every two years.

That is why the “deems” foolishness is unconstitutional. They may as well “deem” they have been reelected.


Don’t give them ideas; There are probably some of them who’d argue, in all seriousness, that they could do exactly that under the Constitutional language that, “Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members”


“If this is done, this will create the greatest Constitutional crisis since the Civil War. It would be 100 times worse than Watergate.”


If the “Slaughter Solution” is allowed, then this is a damning indictment against our government. It might very well be time to dissolve it.


When the Republicans take back the House, can they adopt a rule which “deems” that whichever Democrats who are still in office have tendered their resignations even if none of them have actually resigned?


This is without a doubt the scariest thread I’ve ever seen on this site, the more so because of Kopel’s silence in the face of these lunatics. It took less than two hours for the first threat of violence to appear. Not a promise to push for a court challenge, or for the electoral defeat of representatives, or to amend the Constitution to explicitly forbid this action, but the murder of elected officials and the overthrow of the US Government.

When it comes to these threads, especially when you specifically solicit comments, qui tacit consentire videtur is not an unreasonable presumption. For the love of God, Dave, speak the hell up and denounce these psychopaths.


Americans will indeed exhaust every reasonable non-violent means of resolving unconscionable usurpations of the Constitution long before they turn to revolution. However, no wanna-be despot should make the mistake of assuming that Americans will simply lie down and allow them to destroy democracy. Let’s not forget that even Humbert Humphrey observed that despotism seems remote in contemporary America, but it is always possible.

There are simply some lines that no sane man crosses, and some Dems are coming close to crossing those lines. If warning them by reminding them of American history and of the character of Americans prevents unconstitutional usurpations, we are all the better for it, and violence, which no one is suggesting is imminent, may be avoided.

The Slaughter Solution

Over at The Volokh Conspiracy there is a very lively discussion of the issue, including this comment:

Any representative who votes for this is a traitor who is mounting a coup against the Constitution of the United States. Pass it, and about 80 million otherwise law-abiding citizens would consider justice served if each and every one should be summarily seized, marched against a wall, and have their heads blown off by a firing squad. Even better if it were televised nationally pour encourager les autres.

These foolish, selfish little children playing at government have no idea of how dangerous the game has become.

The "Slaughter" Solution indeed!

In other news, isn't there a Second Amendment March being planned for April?

Highly recommended reading! The usual libertarian law wonks at the VC are boiling mad about this and talking about "treason" and "blood in the streets".

Social Security

The Social Security Administration holds about $2.5 trillion in U.S. bonds. This year, they will cash in about $29 billion in order to pay benefits.

That's the good news.

The bad news?

According to Barbara Kennelly, a former Democratic congresswoman from Connecticut who is now president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare:

"Those bonds are protected by the full faith and credit of the United States of America," Kennelly said. "They're as solid as what we owe China and Japan."

Two Snaps

Every Sunday morning I jaywalk across the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Sixth Street at 3:30AM. This morning there was a steady rain.

Oh! And I baked some bread.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Kirstin Loves Mikey...

... But Mikey hates Kirstin. From today's NYT:

The mayor went to Ms. Gillibrand's Washington office, prepared for a robust debate on gun issues. After all, Ms. Gillibrand, who had represented an upstate Congressional district, had long opposed gun restrictions, and the mayor was a leading advocate of them. Instead, she offered to introduce an antigun bill, according to two people with direct knowledge of the meeting.

But rather than reassuring him, the offer aroused suspicion that Ms. Gillibrand lacked conviction, a grievous flaw in the eyes of a man who prides himself on his willingness to stand up for principles, whatever the political cost.

"It was the worst thing she could have done with Mike Bloomberg," said a top Bloomberg adviser who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the episode publicly.

The sense that she was wishy-washy stuck with Mr. Bloomberg, who complained about it to one of her colleagues, Representative Carolyn McCarthy, a Long Island Democrat who had openly talked about running against Ms. Gillibrand for the Senate. Interactions between Mr. Bloomberg and Ms. Gillibrand have been rare since.

Weird! The more she endorses gun control, the more suspicious he becomes. We all knew she was an unscrupulous, unprincipled, self-aggrandizing phony anyway. Maybe Bloomberg already has enough of those in his MAIG organization.

Saint Catherine

It's Kitty Genovese Day.

h/t Maddened Fowl.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

It has sprung here in the Old Dominion, anyway.

This is the front yard of a house a few blocks away. There must be thousands of crocuses. Literally stops traffic.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dum-Dum and Cordite

Do you suppose they still make it in the original factory!?

Over at Tam's there's a thread about expanding bullets that sent me off on a web-wander and here's some of the places I went and the thangs ah seen!

Over at The Box Of Truth I found this picture:


The one on the left is a round from the Indian ammo factory in Dum-Dum India.
The middle one is a round of WRA, loaded with Ball powder, surprisingly.
The one on the right is from the Royal Laboratory in Woolwich Kent, England.
It was loaded with the Cordite that you can see there.
You can also see the small piece of cardboard that covered the Cordite.
Apparently there is such a city in India, actually a municipality of the larger city of Kolkata. Dum Dum was the site of a British armory and jail. Gandhi was jailed there in 1946.

"Royal Flying Corps near Dum Dum, India, 1930"

They've got a modern rail station there. says,

The 'dum-dum' was a British military bullet developed for use in India - at the Dum-Dum Arsenal - on the North West Frontier in the late 1890s.

The dum-dum comprised a jacketed .303 bullet with the jacket nose open to expose its lead core. The aim was to improve the bullet's effectiveness by increasing its expansion upon impact.

The phrase 'dum-dum' was later taken to include any soft-nosed or hollow pointed bullet. The Hague Convention of 1899 outlawed the use of dum-dum bullets during warfare.

During the First World War the Belgian government faced German charges of having used dum-dum bullets in battle. Kaiser Wilhelm II wrote a telegram to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson on 7 September 1914 protesting such use; the Belgians strongly denied the Kaiser's charges.

The city of Dum Dum is still a going concern, as can be seen from this commercial notice I found, an RFP for Hewlett-Packard computers:

Street vendor in modern Dum Dum.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Open Carry

Sebastian links to a (relatively balanced) article in the NYT on open carry.

The open-carry movement is a wild card in gun rights advocacy and in some ways is to the N.R.A. and other mainstream gun rights advocacy groups what the Tea Party movement is to the Republican Party.

Never Bring A Knife To a Gun Fight, III

This month's episode of Never Bring A Knife To A Gunfight comes to us from Memphis, Tennessee. The knife-wielding wacko was slain.

Fans of the series may recall NBAKTAGF: Maryville.

And who can forget NBAKTAGF: Indianapolis.

"Guns" by Victoria Jackson

Victoria Jackson is a comedian and actress who used to appear on Saturday Night Live. Her specialty was playing "the ditzy blonde". In this essay, she begins:

I have a gun. It has never shot anyone. Not even people I’m mad at. It just lies there, like it’s sleeping.

I bought it in 1986 when Richard Ramirez was on a killing spree in Los Angeles and I had a new baby. You know, the guy who used his victim’s blood to paint pentagrams on their walls? They said he liked yellow houses. I lived in a yellow house in Laurel Canyon. It was hidden in the trees far away from other houses so no one would even hear us scream.

So, I bought a gun to protect my daughter.

Eyes on  Nipples SNL[1]

Click on the picture to read the whole thing. She continues:

My husband Paul shot and killed a man. Paul is a cop. Actually, it happened to be the night he was flying from Miami to NY to see me at Saturday Night Live for his first time. We were dating long distance. Maybe he was anxious to see me or something. He had to stay up all night filling out paperwork and getting counseling, because I guess that’s what happens when you shoot someone. He finally got to SNL and I was on the stage getting out of an alien space ship with eyeballs on my nipples because we were doing a sketch about a planet where women’s eyes have mutated to their nipples because men stared at women’s chests for so long. Kirstie Alley was our leader. I said, “Paul this must be so surreal for you…to kill someone… and stay up all night…and see me in a spaceship.”

Paul said, “It is.”

When I introduced him to the cast, Mike Meyers said, “Hey, you got any war stories? Ha, ha!”

Paul said, “I killed a man last night.” Silence.

I realized our worlds were completely opposite. But we do have some things in common.

1) We both like donuts

2) We both could die, him for real and me onstage, and they’re equally painful, and

3) We both get rewarded for a big bust!

Funny stuff!

h/t Frank W. James.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010

Robert T. McCall

Visionary space artist dies at age 90. He did some amazing work, including the famous poster for the movie "2001 - A Space Odyssey" showing a sleek spaceship docking with an enormous wheel-shaped space station.

Obit in the NYT.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

European & Soviet Retro Sci-Fi Art

Very, very cool!

h/t New Jovian Thunderbolt.

"To Roosevelt! To Stalin! And To Studebaker!"

Ambassador John Beyrle at the Russian Museum
in St. Petersburg, Russia on February 18, 2010

Wandering around the web looking for info on Joseph Beyrle, I found a story about an exhibit of his exploits in the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, which opened on February 18th. Here's a quote from the story:

The ambassador said Russian soldiers were grateful for billions' worth of Allied military aid sent to the Soviet Union during the war — including U.S. Studebaker trucks.

He said he and his sister asked their father if he ever drank vodka with the Russians. "'Yes, we drank vodka,' he would reply. 'And here is a toast we had: To Roosevelt, To Stalin, To Studebaker!'"

The exhibit includes his boots, uniform, decorations and the telegrams notifying Beyrle's parents of his capture. The exhibit moves to Moscow on May 6th.

Man, I would LOVE to see that! With his son now the ambassador, I wonder if the Smithsonian could borrow that exhibit?

Ambassador Beyrle said that when he was studying Russian in the old Soviet days, a lot of Russians were suspicious or hostile until they heard his name. Then they would ask, "You aren't by any chance related to Joseph Beyrle, are you?" Apparently his father is a well-known "footnote character" from the Great Patriotic War (as the Soviets called WWII) and just about every Russian has heard of him. Sorta like being related to Betsy Ross or Lafayette. So his father's name was a great ice-breaker, and he spent many days and nights as the honored guest of ordinary Russians.

Joseph "Jumpin' Joe" Beyrle

Joseph Beyrle's mug shot, taken at Stalag XII-A.
I like his expression here; he seems to be saying,
"You ain't seen the last of me, Fritz. Not by a long shot."

In the news today, the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, John Beyrle (“BUY-early”) returned a silver medallion that had once belonged to Czar Nicholas. The medallion had been stolen from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

Ambassador Beyrle is the son of Joseph “Jumpin' Joe” Beyrle, who gained fame as the only American in World War II to serve in both the American Army and the Soviet Red Army.

On D-Day, Beyrle, a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne, was dropped miles from his intended drop point. Captured by the Nazis, he was placed in a POW camp. As the Allies pushed eastward, Beyrle was transferred to one camp after another, moving continually closer to the Russian Front. After several unsuccessful escape attempts, he could finally hear the Russian artillery in the distance and made one final, successful attempt to escape.

Joseph Beyrle's POW identification card

He reached the Russian lines and surrendered, using the only Russian he knew: “Tovarisch Amerikanski!” All of his uniform and insignia had been taken away from him by the Nazis, but the Russians found an officer who spoke a little English and they were able to establish that he was an escaped American POW.

Beyrle wanted to continue fighting the Nazis and the Russians said they needed a turret machine-gunner on one of their tanks, so Beyrle was given a Russian uniform and was shortly traveling westward to get a little payback.

It didn't last long. After about a month he was wounded in a dive-bombing attack by a Stuka and was evacuated to a field hospital. Red Army commander Zhukov made an inspection tour of the hospital, possibly to make sure that the doctors weren't wasting their time on wounded Germans, and when he heard that there was American in the hospital he asked to see him. Through an interpreter, Beyrle told Zhukov his story. Zhukov spoke to one of his subordinates, who snapped to attention and saluted. The next day Beyrle received a letter, on ornate official letterhead, signed by Zhukov. He couldn't read it, of course, but the Russians in the hospital were very impressed.

When he was well enough to travel, he asked to go home, and the best way to do that was through Moscow. So he boarded a train for the trip, which would take several days. There were KGB agents on the train, and more at each station platform. All the passengers' papers were checked at each stop. The whole area was crawling with POWs, refugees, displaced persons, collaborators, black marketeers, deserters, etc. Beyrle didn't even have a train ticket and spoke only a few words of Russian. So every time he was asked for his papers, he produced the letter from Zhukov.

The effect was electric. The KGB agents snapped to attention and saluted. They even told a Red Army colonel that he would have to give up his private stateroom for an “important passenger”. The colonel protested, and the KGB tossed him out into the train corridor and told him to go find a seat with the enlisted men.

When Beyrle reached Moscow, he was taken to the American embassy and his letter was taken from him. The U.S. Army had listed him as KIA on June 10, 1944. After establishing his identity, he was issued a new passport and set off through the Black Sea to Port Said, Egypt then Naples, Italy. He celebrated V-J day home in Chicago.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, an exhaustive search of the KGB files was made to try to find Beyrle's letter. It could not be found. One can only guess at what it might have said.

Jumpin' Joe Beyrle died in 2004.

When Editorials Are Outlawed...

...only outlaws will write editorials. Or something like that.

Somebody in Chicago must've seen a bumper sticker and it changed his mind. At last.

The result is a really breathtaking editorial in this morning's Chicago Tribune, "Chicago's Pointless Handgun Ban - City Gun Ordinances Proved To Be A Failure".

In the years following its ban, Washington did not generate a decline in gun murders. In fact, the number of killings rose by 156 percent — at a time when murders nationally increased by just 32 percent. For a while, the city vied regularly for the title of murder capital of America.

Chicago followed a similar course. In the decade after it outlawed handguns, murders jumped by 41 percent, compared with an 18 percent rise in the entire United States.

One problem is that the bans didn't actually have any discernible effect on the availability of guns to people with felonious intent. As with drugs and hookers, when there is a demand for guns, there will always be a supply.

Who places the highest value on owning a firearm? Criminals. Who is least likely to fear being prosecuted for violating the law? Criminals. Who is most likely to have access to illicit dealers? You guessed it.
After all of the decades, and all the barrels of ink, that newspaper editorial writers used to mock the slogan, "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns," they finally admit that it was actually true.

Except why use 9 words when 900 will do.

h/t Maddened Fowl.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

NYT On McDonald

The Heller case placed limits on what the federal government could do to regulate guns, and the issue before the court now was whether the Second Amendment applies to state and local laws as well. It seemed plain that at least the five justices in the Heller majority would say yes without reservation.

CNN Poll On McDonald Case

It's 50-50 right now. Click on the picture above to go to the page and then scroll down to the bottom for the poll.

More Progress In The Old Dominion

From VCDL email alert:
YES!!!!! A clean sweep!

SB 334, Senator Hanger's restaurant ban repeal has PASSED the House UNCHANGED by 72 to 27! (Delegate Morrissey wasted everyone's time on the floor asking inane questions about the bill until they got fed up).

SB 408, Senator Vogel's bill to allow non-CHP holders to have a loaded handgun in a locked container or compartment in their motor vehicle or boat PASSED UNCHANGED by 74 to 25!

SB 3, Senator Smith's bill to allow CHP holders to renew their permit through the mail passed UNCHANGED by 81 to 18!

These bills will be signed by the Governor in about a week. They go into effect July 1, 2010.

McDonald Transcript Released

Here's the link.

Favorite exchange:
JUSTICE BREYER: You are saying they can have -- no matter what, that the city just can't have guns even if they are saving hundreds of lives, they cannot ban them?

MR. GURA: The city cannot ban guns that are within the common use as protected by the right to arms.

JUSTICE SCALIA: There is a lot of statistical disagreement on whether the Miranda rule saves lives or not, whether it results in the release of dangerous people who have confessed to their crime but the confession can't be used. We don't -- we don't resolve questions like that on the basis of statistics, do we?

First Reports on McDonald

"Chicago To Join The USA" says Second City Cop:
First of all, Shortshanks [Mayor Daley] is going to lose out on tens of thousands in sales taxes as all gun shops are currently located in the suburbs. This amuses us.

Second, he's going to waste millions more attempting to make registering a gun nearly impossible. He's going to lose those cases in court because even if he wants to "tax" a Right guaranteed by by Constitution, he cannot make it so exorbitantly expensive that regular citizens are frozen out of the process. That means your Englewood resident is entitled to be able to own a legal handgun the same as a Gold Coast condo dweller is.

We may have to wait until June, but today it looks like Chicagoans were restored a Right that an out-of-control despot had deprived them of for years and the despot looked like a complete ass while it happened and was weakened politically once again.

More at The Volokh Conspiracy.
Justice Scalia said the “privileges or immunities” argument was “the darling of the professoraet Volokh Conspiracy commenters” but wondered why Gura would “undertake that burden.”

And "Justices Signal End To Chicago Gun Ban" from the Chicago Tribune:
At one point during the argument, Justice John Paul Stevens suggested the right to bear arms could be limited to homes. A liberal who dissented in the earlier gun-rights case two years ago, Stevens said the court could rule for the Chicago homeowners and say they had a right to a gun at home. At the same time, the court could say it is not "a right to parade around the street with a gun," Stevens said.

But that idea got no traction with the other justices, and a lawyer representing the National Rifle Association said the court should not adopt a "watered down version" of the 2nd Amendment.
Josh Blackman's blog:

Unsurprisingly, Justice Breyer fixated heavily upon the statistics showing the dangers of guns. If the right is incorporated, public safety decisions would be made by judges. If the right is not incorporated, public safety decisions would be made by legislators, who can consider the danger of weapons. Every case involving the second amendment, according to Justice Breyer, considers life versus guns.

To this, Gura replied that the Court should consider the case in the same fashion they considered Heller. Breyer proceeded to disagree with Heller, though he noted that “that was the dissenter’s view.” Justice Scalia retorted that Miranda rule releases dangerous people, and does not save lives. The Courts should not resolve questions on that basis.

Big Mac, VII

I stood outside the Supreme Court this morning for two or three hours watching the comings and goings.

Fox anchorwoman doing her standup.

The line of spectators beginning to move into the building. If you look closely, Sebastian and Bitter can be seen at the lower left corner.

After the oral arguments, the NRA's LaPierre, Clement and Cox spoke to the press.

Otis McDonald and the other plaintiffs walk from the building to the press area.

Alan Gottlieb, Otis McDonald, the ISRPA guy and Alan Gura.

Fox anchorwoman got down in the trenches and stood in a snowbank to make notes during the interviews. Note the Louis Vuitton bag.

I had a nice chat with Sebastian and Bitter. They seem to be on a first-name basis with everybody at the NRA. Nice folks, too!

UPDATE: The New York Times on the early birds:
WASHINGTON — Mike Sacks likes to be the first person in line for big Supreme Court arguments, and he was feeling pretty confident when he arrived at the court Monday morning around 8, 26 hours before the court would hear a big gun-control case.

But he found a couple from California already set up in lawn chairs. Robert Cumberland and Larken Euliss, two chemists from California, had arrived before dawn.

“I felt bad for him,” Mr. Cumberland said of Mr. Sacks. “But I’m not going to abdicate. I flew across the country for this.”

Mr. Cumberland wore a button that said “Guns Save Lives,” and he said the case to be argued on Tuesday, McDonald v. Chicago, was “going to force states like California to recognize that the Second Amendment is an individual right.”

Working The Phones

I just overheard the Brady Center guy tell an interviewer, "If you were a betting person, you would have to say that the Supreme Court will extend the Second Amendment to cover the states."

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Sebastian and Bitter made it inside the building for the 3-minute rotating seating.

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Outside The Supreme Court

Long line to get in. Second Amendment Sisters are here. Brady Center, too. Sebastian and Bitter are in line. The newsies have already done their standups and gone to warm up, but the cameras are still set up. After the oral arguments, the lawyers will come out and the TV interviews will start.

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Monday, March 1, 2010

McDonald Meets Heller

This shows Otis McDonald meeting Dick Heller at the CATO Institute about 5PM this afternoon.

I had just introduced myself to Mr. McDonald when Dick Heller walked up and said, "I wonder if I might introduce myself, Mr. McDonald." This was their first meeting.

Alan Gura Here, Too

It's a Who's-Who of the Second Amendment. Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation is in the next row. Some guys from VCDL, too.

I feel privileged to be here. Or maybe immunized.

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McDonald and Heller!

In the same room! Dick Heller is here in the audience at CATO and Otis McDonald just walked in!


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