30 August 2008

Just one, please

Very well, we now have the line-up of the major parties for the fall:  Sen. Obama/Sen. Biden and Sen. McCain/Gov. Palin.

Can I choose just one?

I want the one without the Sen. in front of their name.

Gov. Sarah Palin.

No, really!  I don't agree with all of her positions, but she has more on the ball than the other three.

What?  "Experience"?

Ok, remove her experience as Governor, Mayor and heading up her own fishing business and what is left in the way of Executive experience amongst the other three?  Heading up a squadron is nice, but that is military leadership, not Executive experience in my book... if someone had to go and defend budgets, project cost expenditures and do the five-year out-cycle projections, that would be heading into military-executive experience.  That is why the 'ticket punching' in the military is necessary for advancement: it gets you into other areas of experience and gives a demonstration of your ability beyond combat leadership and equivalent of civilian-realm execution.

Sen. Obama's time on the failed Annenberg Challenge?  Well, just where did the money go?  Why doesn't he want to talk about it, and Bill Ayers and the money?  Look, if the guy is a failure at that and won't come clean about it, then how the hell can anyone vote for him?  It is 'Executive experience'... negative, yes, but some is better than none, isn't it?  We have had many failures in business and public projects that would be able to recover from those failures as they learned their mistakes.

That leaves Sen. Biden, and he has been in the Senate so long he has forgotten what the world outside of it looks like.  Before that its, what, three years as a lawyer?  Executive experience for him is nil.

So, I have a successful businessman, successful mayor of a small town for many years and successful Governor of a State bordering Putin's Russia, plus having worked a successful deal with Canada on an oil pipeline.

Executive experience?

1 out of 4.

Too bad she isn't at the top of the ticket.

Unfortunately, no matter how good a tactical move, even strategic move this is by Sen. McCain, I have the rest of his record to deal with.  If Gov. Palin is sent on an outreach to the old 'Rust Belt' States and in through the Appalachia from central NY State through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North and South Carolina to Georgia, plus Michigan, Colorado... then I will start to see something different from the McCain campaign.  Those regions play on Sarah Palin's strengths of having blue collar roots, leading a small business and being on the last, great wilderness of America and being more of a frontiersman than we have seen in over a generation on the political scene.  Her personal strengths and background will play very well in those regions.

If that is the strategic move by Sen. McCain, then the Republican Party may just survive, because there is a whole group of folks throughout those States that started walking out of the Democratic Party in 1968.  Reagan could entice them, but did not fundamentally change the Party to bring them in.  That frontier spirit is still alive and is the single largest rift in America since its founding.  These are the areas where women had to be strong as the wilderness was lethal, and where the men helped to cut a new life from that wilderness for their families.  Later they would slowly move to bend steel to their will along with those who were poor that came to help with good jobs.  They sought the frontiers of the West and finally Alaska.

To bring them in requires that Republicans stop moralizing and start enforcing their ethics on those things they claimed about small government, limited spending, low taxation, and protecting the Nation with her friends and allies in liberty.  Get this god damned government out of trying to do so much and interfere in our lives of freedom and liberty.  For that is the wilderness our founders wandered into - the great belief that each man should accomplish as best he can and society support its wholeness while government protects it.  That is the view of Thomas Paine in Common Sense, and I support it fully as it is rational and an excellent observation.

Government is not a 'solution' to anything: it is our accumulation of negative liberties used sparingly so that we can rest assured that they will not be abused in our names.  They are not good, those things we invest in government, and trying to make them into good assuredly destroys us.  At best we seek equal protection under the law, without government supporting some over others.

It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society-the farmers, mechanics, and laborers-who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing. In the act before me there seems to be a wide and unnecessary departure from these just principles.

- President Andrew Jackson's Bank Veto Message, 10 JUL 1832 (Source: The Avalon Project)

Our negative liberties are not evil, but their exercise by individuals would destroy society and civilization.  Those that live in wilderness see the Laws of Nature and abide by them and remember that society is precious, just as government is necessary.  "Reform" only is necessary when government has forgotten its place and tries to displace society in many places and utilize negative liberties of coercion and twists them to those means.  Those liberties protect us when applied to criminals or those seeking to make Public or Private War upon us.  They only become evil in their abuse against the citizenry and civilization when government no longer keeps to its limited place.

Gov. Palin, from what I have seen, can bring this message home as she has demonstrated ethics against her own party in the case of corrupt Republicans and 'The Bridge to Nowhere'.  In the single case where there has been a 'scandal' she has so opened her doors to investigation that no subpoena's needed to be issued as all came willingly when asked.  She 'walks the walk' and does not seek to provide special favors to some over others in regulations, unlike the other three who have each supported that... which is why I am allergic to voting for them as they have demonstrated more than enough twisting of the laws to special interests against the humble members of society, seeking to lift some up over others by race, gender or nation of origin.

She is a deep breath of fresh air in the fetid swamp of this Presidential election cycle.

There is a case to be laid out for a new direction of the Republican Party towards tradition, ethics and limited government.

I doubt that the 'maverick' will ever go that far.

But a strong fisherman from the Bering Sea?

She is the 'Deadliest Catch' this cycle.

Because it is 'Tougher in Alaska'.

A serving of moose stew, if you please.

25 August 2008

Greatest moral failure

At The Thirty-Thousand they have up a transcript of the Saddleback Civil Forum, which featured both Presidential presumptive nominees, and there are some things that, really, do bring up problems.  When asking Sen. Obama about the greatest moral failure of his life, Sen. Obama came out with:

Obama: Well, in my own life, I'd break it up in stages. I had a difficult youth. My father wasn't in the house. I've written about this. There were times where I experimented with drugs and I drank in my teenage years. And what I trace this to is a certain selfishness on my part. I was so obsessed with me and, you know, the reasons that I might be dissatisfied that I couldn't focus on other people. And you know, I think the process for me of growing up was to recognize that it's not about me. It's about —

[Warren: I like that. I like that.]

It's about ... absolutely ... but look, you know, when I find myself taking the wrong step, I think a lot of times it's because I'm trying to protect myself instead of trying to do God's work.

[Warren: Yeah, fundamental selfishness.]

And so that, I think, is my own failure.

Now here you have something that actually rings true!  Yes, it does tend to all be about him, doesn't it?  And yet, when he criticizes America's greatest mortal failure, here is what he comes up with:

Obama: I think America's greatest moral failure in my lifetime has been that we ... still don't abide by that ... basic precept in Matthew that: 'whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me.' And that notion of — that basic principle applies to poverty. It applies to racism and sexism. It applies to, you know, not ... thinking about providing ladders of opportunity for people to get into the middle class.

I mean, there's a pervasive sense, I think, that this country, as wealthy and powerful as we are, still don't spend enough time thinking about the least of these.

Ah, so very leftist this 'America can't do right because we just don't do enough' while outspending every other industrialized nation on the planet, per person, in charitable giving.  Not to speak of government help.  I've looked at that before, and no matter which way you cut it, be it cash, per capita, time volunteered... all of those are owned in the top spot by the American people.  But, of course, we don't count when it comes to these things... I mean we still have poor folks!  Which, in any competitive economic system you will *always* have a top and bottom 5%.  And the poor in America live much, much better than most 'middle class' people elsewhere on the planet.  In some countries our poor would be wealthy, if living in awful conditions... but that is due to having a rich nation that provides much for us, not a poor one with rich leaching off of their poor cousins.

What Sen. Obama forgot to tell you is that he has BOTH these moral failings: narcissism and being a miser towards the poor.

Or at least one poor man.

His 26 year old half-brother who he has met twice in Kenya.

That individual, George Hussein Onyango Obama, lives in a hut on $1... a month.  Three cents a day, give or take.

Andrew Breitbart on 26 AUG 2008 in the Washington Times reports on this, as only an Italian magazine and two London papers have actually done anything on this story.

Perhaps Sen. Obama would trot out not 'being his brother's keeper' as an excuse for doing nothing.

Growing up with poor relatives, not only in the US but in Poland, I was very familiar of sending money to them, 'slipping them a 5-spot' or bringing food over or taking someone out for shopping and a meal.  We couldn't get much together for packages to Poland in the Communist era, but the family did what we could, being basically lower-middle class and having some parts of the family done-right poor.  Poor, but not angry, not railing against government save for its asinine ways, not looking for a hand-out as family provided for them.

The American people understand poor relatives or those that have personal problems, and accepted that they at least had opportunity because of their relatives who did well.

Add this to the long list of problems I have with Sen. Obama: criticizing others for the faults that he has and not working to fix.  That is more than hypocritical when it involves family...



Do as you say.

Say what you mean.

Mean what you do.

24 August 2008

Sen. Obama lost in the wilderness of his own delusions

He's so new that he is passe, so great that he hasn't done a thing worthy of note that people feel compelled to say they support him.

And his supporters?


Got that knock on the front door yesterday morning after Democratic presumptive nominee Sen. Barack Obama decided to put Sen. Joe Biden on the ticket. Yes a man and woman in their late 50's/early 60's showed up to ask me if I had thought about my choice for President. Joy, oh rapture, no? They were, of course, Obama-rama-ding-dongs. Look, I can't help that as I have zero respect for Sen. Barack Obama and quite a lot of disrespect for the felons, terrorists, and Chicago Machine politics that he has used to get himself into such a 'hope 'n change' place like Washington that he couldn't even be bothered to address the problems of Chi-town's machine. Well, he can't help that, they are his backers, after all.

Still, you have to love the con-job being pulled that will get out two such young looking near retirees out on a Saturday morning to canvass for him. Virginia is, of course, a swing state. And you know the script, I presume, so the bare lead-in is necessary, but the man did most of the talking:

'Have you thought about who you are going to vote for this election?'

-Why, yes, yes I have.

'Have you thought about Barack Obama?'

-I've examined him, yes. [I always try to remain cordial, respect elders, etc. Even if they are goofballs.]

'Will you be voting for him?'

-No, no I won't.

'Will you be voting for Sen. McCain?'

-Probably not, depends on different factors.

'Will you be voting for a third pary?'

-No, no I won't.

'Will you be voting?'

-Yes, yes I will.

'I see... who will you be voting for in the Senate race?'

-I am still making up my mind. [Perhaps it is time for a write-in campaign? What a mess this place is.]

'How about the Representative's race, will you be voting for Frank Wolf or [insert non-descript name of Democratic candidate here]

-That depends, does she think a trip to Syria as a good thing to do? I've pretty much had it with Congressmen supporting foreign dictators and tyrants.

'... ahh... I see... You aren't registered for a party. Do you consider yourself a Democrat?'

-No, I don't.

'A Republican?'


'Do you have any affiliation towards a party?'

-I'm a Jacksonian.

'Ah... a... a what?'

-A Jacksonian.

'We don't see many of those around anymore.'

-You would be surprised.

[Now the woman asks] 'What is a Jacksonian?'

-We are a live and let live people. While we support liberty everywhere, we can only safeguard our own, but to those that befriend us as friends and allies, we should stand with them to help them defend their liberty. If we cannot stand with our friends and allies in the world in their support of liberty then who should we stand with? It is a great good to help those seeking liberty to stand up and teach them to defend themselves to secure their own liberty as best as they can. We believe that the greatest gift we have is our liberty used via charity and good works. We do not hand over things to government that rightfully belong in our hands as the people, as government is the place we put our negative liberties so that we may have the greatest exercise of our positive ones. It is not a political philosophy but a way of living life that is good and honest. [Highly paraphrased, but you get the idea. I do not seek active antagonizing, that reflects poorly upon me as an individual]

[The woman continues] 'Who are you supporting this election?'

-No one. None are worthy of my support.

[Back to the man] I see. Thank you for your time. May we leave some literature for you to read?

-Of course. [The landfills don't mind.]

'Have a good day then.'

-And to you both. Thank you.

Ah, the light was dawning on someone there, in those misty hours where the sun had not yet made the dew chase away from the grass... but we have a north facing house, that is pretty normal. Still if you add up the 'live and let live', 'keep government small', 'support friends and allies', 'support charity', 'support liberty', and 'you are measured by those you do support in liberty', then you get a pretty fair thumbnail-sketch of things as the need for the Civil Sword should be rare but not seen as unnecessary. People like to concentrate on the latter and miss the former, and how much Jacksonians do value their friends in this world. Of course the denigration of those seeking to give respite or succor to tyrants, despots and dictators does point out the great lacks of Sen. Obama: he hasn't seen a one he won't meet with to 'seek peace'.

Just like Neville Chamberlain. And a number of the later rulers of Rome once the barbarians were at the gates.

Yes, a disturbing undertone there that will nibble at the conscience of two people who should be wiser for their age.

Their race? Does it matter? Black, white, asian, jewish, hispanic... if you are a citizen you deserve the respect of not having that matter, and those who bring it up are generally Democrats. We are supposed to be equal before the law with no 'set-asides' or 'special interests' or 'quotas', but to be equal under the due process of law both on the criminal and civil side, as citizens. I have said the same, basic, overlay to people of many different ethnic extractions because we are all created equal and all citizens of this great nation. Those who play 'favorites' end up with names like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Castro, Hussein [really, that isn't against the Senator!], bin Laden, Mugniyah, Ceau┼čescu... dictators, tyrants, despots, mass-murderers, terrorists - THEY play favorites. Not a good thing to emulate, that.

There is one other thing that has shown up since the Biden naming for VP candidate, and that is this bit from (H/t: Allahpundit at Hot Air) a Rasmussen poll:

Not surprisingly, Democrats were more supportive of Obama’s decision than anybody else—52% of those in his party agreed with his pick while 19% disagreed. However, just 43% of Democratic women said the presumptive nominee made the best pick while 23% disagreed.

Yes, a snap-poll and all that, so sacks of salt on the wagon. The anti-Obama sentiment amongst Democrats may have subsided from its height (about 30% from what I've seen) and the 'unity' may have brought that down to around 20%. That is pretty much the hard-core group, the PUMA group: Party Unity My Ass. This is a problem for Sen. Obama as the move to bring in Sen. Biden and not even talk to the PUMA's standard-bearer, Sen. Clinton, and the slow attempts to marginalize them and her are driving a race/gender/age based set of wedges into the Democratic Party. That work to *not* continue on with party tradition by having a traditional roll call vote for the nomination, not work with Sen. Clinton, not to even vet her for the VP slot, not to help out with a couple of fundraisers where he does more than say 'oh, and could you help Sen. Clinton, too?' each of those is a point of antagonism within the identity driven politics of the Democratic Party.

He has also forgotten what happens when a nominee *loses* in the fall: they tend to get excluded a bit from party leadership roles while always talked about as to 'how good their campaign was'. Ask Gore and Kerry on that.

And if this was an attempt at 'hope 'n change' then why did Sen. Obama pick the man who led the Iraq Study Group? Remember the folks who wanted to divide up Iraq? Apparently they both wanted to lose there.

Divide and Lose.

That should be the campaign slogan of their campaign.

It is only 'Divide and Conquer' when you do it to your enemies.

Something wholly treacherous when it is proposed for your friends.

Jacksonians also have a long memory, and that will not be forgotten.

22 August 2008

Arms and the common man's defense of liberty

This is, perhaps, the best time to be alive in the era of firearms.  While the long tradition of firearms goes back centuries to Chinese hand cannons and rocket launched arrows, the era of more common arms has moved from hand made, hand forged by the village smithy to small companies of the industrial revolution growing large and dominating the market for decades if not a century or more.  There has always been the streak of 'can do' work in US businesses, and the feeling that one man or woman with a vision can achieve their dreams.  If one is looking to purchase a firearm you can go to one of the large outfits and get some customizing done to suit your needs, and many of those companies have large and vocal clientele in support of each of them.  As an individual coming into the market I bring a different outlook on firearms, as witness by my writing, and business.

Supporting Amendment II, for me, requires understanding Article I, Section 10, then seeing how the liberty of the common man as applied to business allows driven individuals and ideas that take hold to give those holding them great value above and beyond money in their lives.  To support that, I then have criteria that are a bit different than most in the realm of arms, and they aren't necessarily technical excellence, although that, too, plays a role.  Let me step you through the 'rough and ready' criteria:

1)  Small Business -  If the heart of the American economy is small businesses, then it is there that I must look to uphold that more common value system of my fellow man.  Small business, to me, means a few things, not necessarily devoted to actual size of the company.  One of those things is size and getting to feel that the business is run due to stated, honest criteria that I agree with in some form.  Family run businesses that remain family run and see more than titular spots for family members is another strong criteria - I don't really care much if the next generation is just pushing papers, but if they are in the design, manufacture and testing part of the business and continuing its tradition, then that is a strong qualifier for this no matter how big the company is.  That man or woman with a dream or vision making good is another part of this, and their sticking to it and their values is extremely important no matter the company size, unless you are Microsoft.  The idea is supporting that American dream and all the Constitution, not just selected portions of it, while keeping it small, directed and personal.

2) Tradition -  The US has a good and strong history of firearms and keeping that tradition alive by ensuring that older weapons are appreciated and brought to the public so that one can get a living feel for our history is a major decider.  Here a minor American movement is seeing not only older styles of arms, going back to the muzzleloaders and percussion cap arms, but the personal touch that many of those arms had.  Be it the Revolution, Civil War or Cowboy era, these arms have a special place in American history, and as the antiques may not be that reliable due to age (or unobtainable) the modern reproduction and faithfulness to design becomes paramount.  Again dedication to mission almost certainly guarantees that this will go into the small business realm, as the strong tradition of firearms manufacturing in the US comes from that small, dedicated vision of what a good weapon is and should be.

3)  Innovation -  Of the area that the US should have under lock and key, it is the plethora of small business startups that fail.  They fail for many reasons, beyond manufacturing capability or how good the design actually is.  That said the 'following the vision' of a more perfect weapon covers a wide swath of things, beyond just good looks and minor changes to arms.  This is the category most overlooked in the US and is one where our true strength is found.  If the Kentucky Long Rifle was key to the Revolution, then it is those dedicated weaponsmiths of that time who made that gun possible and found its niche of ready purchasers that would come to shock the most powerful military of its era.


Those are the three, major criteria and notice that actually executing a good design is necessary, but the technical arguments for/against any particular weapon to me is, well, technical.  And so, let me put up some of the companies of interest, why they are of interest to me, and a signature weapon from each.

L.W. Seecamp and Co. -  How would you like to make a new firing design that is then used by the Big Boys?  The maker of pocket pistols has that distinction and their patented work is used by Glock, Kimber, Cold, Para Ordinance, Kahr, Springfield,Taurus... yes, good old US small business with a dedicated vision making good by having the highest honor paid to them: others wanted their work.  If you want a small weapon that is easy and safe to carry, then why go to a large manufacturer when the original company can still provide you with it?


That is the Seecamp LWS .380, and it has a 6+1 round capacity and is about the size of a deck of standard playing cards.  Here it is the driven vision of making something for a part of the market that didn't have reliable weapons that put this on the charts along with technical innovation.  A vision led company to do one thing and do it well with technical excellence and innovation puts L.W. Seecamp and Co. on the list.  Ludwig (Louis) Wilhelm Seecamp was trained in the tradition of German gunsmithing in pre-WWII Germany and brought that to the US, and his company continues on as he founded it.  His patent has long since expired, but his company hasn't and the best homage to any innovator is to see those innovations copied and used.  If you like the Big Boys and their firing action, then perhaps you just might like the small guns that gave them that reliability.  As they say - "Size Matters".

Personal rating on 5 stars: SB - 5, Trad - 3, Inno - 3


Barrett Firearms Company -  I've mentioned Ronnie Barrett a few times as he was one of the first in the large bore revival movement in US firearms.  His dream was to create a .50 cal sniper rifle that would be accepted by the US Army, and when his weapon came up for test it would pass with flying colors, to become the M107 Sniper Rifle.  This puts him in an elite class of gunsmiths who have had total control over their design from start to finish and then would sell that design to the US Army:  Samuel Colt, John Browning,  and Eugene Stoner.  His innovative work came at a perfect time, when needing to reach out and hit someone in Afghanistan would matter a great deal.

With confirmed kills at distances that make your eyes water squinting into the distance, this gun can not only do the job and do it well.  Perhaps the Barrett Company didn't like the Macmillan TAC-50 and the Hornady Round getting the longest confirmed kill in Iraq, so they have designed a new cartridge, the Barrett .416 which will go long with a more stable flight and remain supersonic at well past a mile.  Although the day of needing a computer to hit longer than that in a reliable fashion is dawning, one must give credit to Ronnie Barrett and his dedication to firearms which would drive the competition to compete with an all American one man design.  Tag line - "Dependable. Reliable. Well-designed."

Personal rating on 5 stars: SB - 5, Trad - 3, Inno - 5


Kahr Arms - Where Amendment I and Amendment II meet is with Justin Moon, son of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Kahr Arms.  Here there is the simplicity of loving firearms and the frustration of not finding just that one weapon that he wanted, and he would explain it:

I had been licensed to carry in New York State since I was 18 and had looked for an ultra-compact 9mm pistol. However, to my chagrin, I could not find a pistol with the quality of construction and features in design which I felt were appropriate for a carry gun. Therefore, I decided to design an ultra-compact 9-mm. pistol that I could carry. I spent the summer and much of my senior year designing the mechanical layout of the pistol and prototyping various designs concepts. By the time I graduated I had pretty much solved all the conceptual problems that hindered the manufacture of the pistol that I had in mind. From there I partnered with Saeilo to move to prototype the pistol and prepare for production.

Yes, you read that right, he was designing the pistol he wanted as a junior in college.  You really can't deride the Moonies if they can get a young man to do *that*, considering what most young men are doing in college at that age.  While Kahr is part of the Moonie owned Saeilo Group, it is run by Justin Moon and his drive for a weapon that he could use that met his specifications.  Still, Justin goes beyond that to one other aspect here, and that is the historical arms arena which pretty well makes Kahr a unique company even without the Unification Church - I would be citing the company because of vision and tradition.  The tradition?  Why picking up a well known company and then continuing its work with weapons that Americans know almost instinctively at this point.  That company was Auto-Ordinance Corp. and their main claim to fame was this gem:

Thompson 1927-A1

That is the Thompson 1927-A1 sub-machine gun.  The infamous "Tommy Gun" seen in the hands of so many gangsters in Chicago and guys like Winston Churchill that it carves an almost indelible image in the American psyche.  And this is the semi-automatic pistol version:

Thompson 1927-A1 TA5

Yes, it has a 50 round barrel magazine and you can even get a 100 round barrel magazine for it, State Laws permitting, of course.  You can even get a violin case for it!  Beyond that they also do a the M1 .30 cal Carbine, to bring back memories of that weapon.   The tagline from Justin Moon -

When it came to marketing the pistol, I did not feel that Saeilo would be a "catchy" name to put on my gun. I wanted a name that was short, easy to remember, and symbolic of the high quality of manufacture. Given Germany's renown for engineering prowess and quality, I wanted a name that sounded German. That's how I came up with "Kahr."

Personal rating on 5 stars: SB - 3, Trad - 4, Inno - 3


North American Arms - Sandy Chisholm was the man who resurrected Rocky Mountain Arms under a new guise to continue the work started by Dick Casull, and the company was bought traded to other companies until it was going to be chopped by its then owner Teleflex:

I was a 10-year employee of Philadelphia-based Teleflex serving in an M&A role on the corporate staff and had been closely involved in the Talley acquisition. Similarly, after the dust settled, I was charged with the NAA divestiture. It turned out to be a difficult sale; NAA was profitable and not requiring any time, attention or other resources from the parent, who was rather stubborn on both price and terms. During the two-year period I attempted to market this business on behalf of Teleflex, I saw first-hand the capabilities of the management team and the opportunities available to the business, given just a modest investment of time, "love" and money. So, in a "Victor Kiam/Remington moment," I chose to leave the corporate world and become a small business owner, which occurred in November of 1991.

Yes, success can be its own failure and if you don't require any upper management you can often find the company you work for about to go under because its parent just doesn't need it.  Sandy Chisholm would see the same area that L.W. Seecamp and Kahr would be going into, but from a different perspective: that of pure personal protection.  Personal protection would mean something different to him than the pure concealed carry vision of Seecamp or the effective 9mm of Justin Moon:

Another ignorant remark questions the "effectiveness" of such a small weapon/round, to which I reply "I don't care about the frame size or caliber of any gun; if it's pointed at me, it will absolutely change my behavior." There are reams of evidence that show that simply brandishing a gun will avert a potentially threatening situation.

And their arms look it!  At this size of pistol you start to get into the pure limits of what you can put together, and to show how that form factor pushes design similarity, we can look at this:

NAA Guardian 380 

That is the NAA Guardian .380 with 6+1 magazine, and its design similarity to the Seecamp is obvious.  Unlike Seecamp, NAA also goes for the revolver and puts together something very different:

NAA 22 Magnum Mini-Revolver

That is the NAA .22 Magnum Mini-Revolver 5 shot.  Again the concept is small and yet durable, so it can sit in a tackle box, purse, golf bag, or glove compartment with relative safety.  These are not, of necessity, weapons meant for a one shot kill, but to change the equation of an attacker to know that they are no longer in for a zero cost confrontation should they carry it out.  That, as Sandy Chisholm points out, is an effective deterrent in a vast number of situations where no longer being defenseless, even with something like these guns, is effective against the human psyche.  If this is your need and just for yourself, then even something like these guns will change minds and possible save a life.  Yours.

Tagline - "Convenient, Reliable, and very Effective."

Personal rating on 5 stars: SB - 5, Trad - 3, Inno - 2


E.M.F. Company Incorporated - From the era of black powder we can get a feeling for how our forefathers made and used weapons, and seek to experience that through modern replicas of those arms.  The Early and Modern Firearms Company in California is just such a company dedicated to bringing those weapons back by using original designs and recrafting those guns of yesteryear.  Their reason for being is clearly stated:

EMF Company is a leading source of historically accurate, collectible quality reproduction firearms of the Old West and Cowboy and Civil War eras, In 1956 EMF (Early & Modern Firearms) was founded to supply the demand for the guns seen in the movies and on television. EMF became a major distributor, and then manufacturer of the Great Western, the first reproduction of the famous Colt Model 1873 SAA.

EMF's mission is to provide quality, authentic, but safe firearms at the best prices. The keystone of EMF's "Cowboy Way" is to provide friendly, personal customer service and stand behind out products.

That dedication to Early/Early Modern firearms is seen up and down their line from black powder revolvers to Sharps rifles.  Not only in outward form, but with the same cosmetic appearance given by early industrial manufacturing these guns look new but to an older way of doing things.  Those eras helped to form the modern arms industry, and the weapons have that look that we have seen from movies, photographs and drawings not only modern but of their time.  So the real introduction to them is in their work:


The 1847 Model Walker Black Powder Revolver, .44 caliber 6 shots.

And on the long gun side:


The 1860 Henry Rifle, .45 caliber 24" blued octagonal barrel.

These are weapons that speak to the dedication of the manufacturer to their work.

Personal rating on 5 stars: SB - 5, Trad - 3, Inno - 1


Kel-Tec CNC Industries - Kel-Tec originally started off as Interdynamic USA which was part of Interdynamic AB of Sweden.  It introduced the KG-9 to the US market and became Intratec, and the weapon designed by George Kellgren would become the Tec-9 as Carlos Garcia took the company over and George Kellgren left it.  Under a flurry of anti-gun lawsuits because the semi-automatic Tec-9 could be converted to a full automatic weapon, Intratec went under in 2001.  George Kellgren went on to start his own, privately owned business and called it Kel-Tec and he was the chief engineer as well as owner.  Thus the strange history of Interdynamic USA from Sweden to Intratec to Kel-Tec follows the path of companies and one man who made a gun to fit a part of the market that no one else was addressing: making the lightest, flattest semi-automatic 9mm on the market.  From there Kel-Tec would also address the concealed carry market for the plainclothes police needs and continue work into the rifle market.  Thus the old Tec-9 would disappear, but find some lineage in some of the other pistols designed at Kel-Tec:


That is the PLR-16 Pistol, 5.56 NATO, 10 round or M-16 compatible magazine.  These are not weapons designed for their good looks, but for use, emphasizing function above all and breaking into the top 10 of handgun sales in the US by doing that.  Here the work of one man to just make good weapons that function as necessary shines through the spartan finish, and even such a spare outlook can have a beauty all of its own.

Personal rating on 5 stars: SB - 5, Trad - 2, Inno - 3


Magnum Research Inc. - Jim Skildum and John Risdall are the majority owners of a company that has helped change the landscape of large bore pistols to the American mainstream.  They started, however, as contract designers for the Israeli military that would become the Desert Eagle pistol.  While others would make those under contract, all the design work, patents and copyrights were with Magnum Research.  From there they would produce rifles and single action magnum revolvers as well as a new line of Desert Eagle pistols:


That is the Mark XIX Desert Eagle Pistol in Black Oxide 10" barrel, which can be done in .357 magnum, .44 magnum or .50AE.  Also available in 6" barrel models with a variety of finishes, including the famous Tiger Stripe:


That .50AE is not something one comes to expect from a pistol, really, but the work and care taken on these pistols has won a small but devoted group of fans who swear by them.  Depending on a whole bunch of factors, I can see the use of these guns on the big game hunting scene.  If you need to stop a suddenly appearing bull Moose who has taken a disfavor to you, this is what you want as your feet are unlikely to be a rescue.  Or a sentient Mack Truck that has suddenly decided it doesn't like humanity... and even with limited defense needs, they would still be a hoot to shoot is my bet.   That and their Biggest Finest Revolver group, also show this same dedication to getting the most and most accurate handgun firepower in the hands of the common man, and for that there must be due consideration and thanks.  And it just might start a new renaissance in the American desire for the very large bore pistol.

Personal rating on 5 stars: SB - 5, Trad - 3, Inno - 4


Navy Arms Company - Our past is never far from us and Navy Arms seeks to ensure that history is not forgotten in the realm of firearms.  Started by Val Forgett Sr. who was dubbed the Father of the Modern Replica Firearms Industry, he worked to ensure that the skills and craft of previous eras was not to be forgotten, going so far as helping to form the US International Muzzloading Team in 1976.  Val Forgett III continues on that family tradition of replicas that do more than just replicate function, but require the knowledge and wisdom of the era to back them.  Their work starts in the Flintlock era and moves forward through percussion and black powder through to the late 19th century.  On each of their pages they give some of the background to the gun, who made it and why it was important to preserve as an active gun into the modern era.  Thus we can see this from the Flintlock era:


The 1763 Charleville Musket, .69 cal which the Marquis de Lafayette brought a personal delivery of 25,000 with him to the colonies during the Revolutionary war.  Beyond that they also sought out designs to some of the guns that may not have been so famous, but still played a role in our history, like this sidearm used by General J. E. B. Stuart:


The Cavalry Model Le Mat with a ball diameter of .451, 9 shot.  These were first made in Philadelphia by John Krider, but then were made in France during the Civil War and then exported through the UK where it gained British markings as it went through Bermuda to run the blockade of the South.

Navy Arms shows more than just replica care for their traditional arms, but the desire to popularize them so that we can understand how our liberty and freedom was secured by such weapons.  Their tagline: "First with the finest in quality replica firearms"

Personal rating on 5 stars: SB - 5, Trad - 5, Inno - 2


Charter Arms - The concealed and inconspicuous gun market has a number of companies in it that have each taken a different approach as to why they make the guns they do.  Douglas McClennahan started Charter Arms in New England came to it with his own set of reasons:

To produce a high-quality, reliable handgun that was also highly affordable.

His first gun was one for undercover police officers in a .38 special, so that they would have at least one weapon that was reliable for their work that was also safe to carry.  Charter Arms would suffer from small business buyouts, mis-understandings and stock deals that were pretty complex for the size of the company.  Doug McClenehan and his life long friend, David Ecker, owned the company and David Ecker eventually bought the place and after the stock deals and such Nick Ecker, David's son, would finally end up with sole ownership of it with a temporary name change to Charter 2000 just before the millenia and then back to Charter Arms afterwards.  The company, however, prospered due to good quality manufacturing and a lifetime warranty on all their guns, which has made them a go-to for those in need of this type of gun.  Still their original Undercover line has prospered with many variations on the theme:


That is the Charter Undercover #13820, 5-shot, .38 special +P.  They also have a very similar looking one in a .44 special, and they also do a derringer:


Which covers their Dixie Derringer .22 in LR and Mag, 5 shot.  Throughout it all Charter Arms has remained dedicated to producing high quality, low cost personal defense guns for both police and civilian use.  Tagline: "Personal protection is your responsibility"

Personal rating on 5 stars: SB - 5, Trad - 3, Inno - 2


East Ridge Gun Company Inc. - Can't afford a Barrett and yet still want the .50 BMG rifle?  Then ERG is your best bet to look for in the competition rifle arena, and they have rifles from the very spare benchrest to their high end competition series.  As Barrett may have signaled a new beginning to the large bore target rifle skill in the US, folks like ERG are necessary to popularize the fact that a more everyday crowd can enjoy the use of such guns and still have them not cost a few major limbs.  What is interesting is that the more spare the design, the more engineering that goes into giving the shooter a stable and accurate gun, so that one at the high end is a rifle that uses a sandbag and not a bipod:


That is the ERG Lightweight Competitor 2000 and it does set one back, although only about 2/3 cost of a Barrett while this model:


the ERG Shorty in black (also has a nice walnut version) is only about 1/3 the Barrett.  Extras not included.  For Larry Lyle this must be a passion that puts him into the area of seeking to share his enjoyment of this type of rifle with more people and it is a great encouragement to the sport of precision long-range shooting.  Apparently that is what it takes to get this sort of thing going, and I do hope they succeed in that as the solo, unaided shooter at long range is an exacting test of skill and patience rarely seen in other sports.

Personal rating on 5 stars: SB - 5, Trad - 3, Inno - 3


Para-Ordnance - Ted Szabo and Thanos Polyzos were two boyhood friends who shared a deep passion for guns.  They started out making not a regular firearm, but an autofire paintball gun!  You have to love how some of these companies start, really.  Ted had a problem with the 1911 gun platform: it didn't carry enough rounds.  He wanted to fix that.  There were some other problems with the 1911, as he saw it, but he recognized that John Browning had known what he was doing and respected that throughout his design re-work.  He took care that his improvements were those of modern understanding of guns and manufacturing that John Browning didn't have, so that each would be incorporated into the re-design and yet still retain the original look and feel of Brownings work.  A major case was the cartridge extractor, which had proven not only troublesome but actually dangerous in the original design and that attempts to shift the extractor to outside the housing actually made problems worse, not better.  Their site tells this part and it is telling:

Szabo reasoned that Browning had used an internal extractor to avoid both the dirt and containment problems but, not having 21st Century technology, he had done the best he could with his extractor design. Using the latest CAD/CAM design computers, Szabo studied the function of the extractor and looked at what areas could be improved.

The most obvious challenge was to maintain constant extractor tension on the rim of the cartridge case. This is important because, in addition to extracting an empty case, the extractor is also vital in feeding a fresh cartridge into the chamber. By giving the extractor a greater range of movement, Szabo created not only a better extractor, but also a controlled feed capability that would improve both feeding and extracting reliability.

The other area of improvement was in the size of the claw on the extractor that comes into contact with the rim of the cartridge case. With twice the surface area on the claw, twice the surface area contacts the case for positive feeding and extraction.

When you have to change the design, recognize the original intent and don't go beyond that - take the innovative path of conservative redesign.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it, and if it is broke, make sure the fix makes it work like its supposed to. 

Para Ordnance is dedicated to the highest quality, highest precision and most durable weapons that can be made on the 1911A1 platform as a start, and they are setting out to demonstrate that the old fashioned way:  by torturing their guns.  The poor things!  The premier gun for this torture test is the Para PXT 1911 and they were not kidding when they said they were going to torture it


And they set out one major question:  how fast 1,000 rounds of .45 ACP could be poured non-stop through a Para PXT 1911?  The day before the test they got the gun 'warmed up' by just firing 1,000 rounds through it and cleaning it overnight.  Have to make sure everything works, right?  Then they got World Speed Shooting Champion Todd Jarrett to use his pick of ammo and a couple of folks madly refilling the magazines and the result was: 10 minutes and 44 seconds.  Which was a new world's record... and the barrel was a 'deep golden color' which probably isn't the thing you like to see in a barrel of a pistol, I would gather.  They let it cool off and then did some performance target shooting.  And then more shooting all day, until 5,000 rounds went through it of various types.  In two days it had taken 5,000 rounds, with a single cleaning between the first 1,000 and the next 4,000.   I hope they used the 14+1 mag, but then they didn't say if the reloaders were on the torture line, too.

Para-Ordnance does the 1911 and they do it well, which marks high up in the dedication line.  Plus they respect the tradition started by John Browning on the 1911A1 and stick to that as best they can.

Personal rating on 5 stars: SB - 5, Trad - 4, Inno - 4


Henry Repeating Rifles - When the Henry Rifle Co. was bought out by Winchester, way back when, a gap has been left in the hearts of many who adored the Henry Rifles and wished to bring them back.  Many replica companies offer them, but few get the inspiration to see if the ability to do the fine quality craftsmanship at an affordable price and then continue on in that spirit of the original company could be done if it were still around.  So, while Henry Repeating Rifles is in no way related to the original company, they are working to do what the original Henry:

Today, the Henry Repeating Arms Company, a descendant of the venerable gunmaker, makes its home in a historic industrial area in Brooklyn, New York. From our inception our goal has been to manufacture a line of classic, well-crafted firearms that every enthusiast would find readily affordable. Every single part in each Henry rifle is made in America, and engineered with features that other gun makers often charge twice the price for. For that reason, our corporate motto is “Made in America and Priced Right”.

Hey, if a descendent of Sam Adams can dig up the original recipe to make beer, then a descendent from the original can rediscover that part of history and start from scratch but with the same outlook of their ancestor.  Today Anthony Imperato runs the family business of Henry Repeating Rifles with a dedication to high quality reproduction, craftsmanship and innovation so that modern designs in the same spirit of the original Henry Rifles can stand next to their predecessors and be compared to them for those areas of quality, craftsmanship and design outlook.  Are they replicas?  No.  These are newly designed guns made to have the look and feel of the original guns, even while being thoroughly modern in their capabilities:


That is their Big Boy Lever Action octagonal barrel, .44 Mag/.44 special, 10 rounds.  Seeing that and you understand how look and feel matters, even when it has thoroughly modern mechanisms in it.

Personal rating on 5 stars: SB - 5, Trad - 3, Inno - 3


Shiloh Sharps Rifles - There is a difference between replica and hand made to specifications, and that latter is where Shiloh Sharps Rifles comes in.  Many other companies offer replicas, but few offer the depth of customization and original action and work that Shiloh Sharps does.  Their webpage clearly states it right up front that this is not your normal replica company:

As you look around the pages of this site, you will discover that, as with the original Sharps, our rifles are not intended for the mass market. They are for the shooter, hunter, competitor and collector who wants something special. Therefore, we will NEVER SACRIFICE quality for higher production figures. To do so would compromise the "soul" of this product, and disappoint those wishing today for the quality that was the norm in the 19th Century American firearms. We feel that Shiloh Sharps Rifles reflect the extra time and effort that go into their manufacture.

They offer exactly two rifles, at present, the Sharps 1863 and 1874, custom made.  As is the case with the variations on original manufacture, so they replicate those as best they can.  Luckily, those arms had a large number of variants, so the customer gets those to choose from, like this:


That is the 1874 Military Carbine, base, which you can then go through the drop-downs to customize against original types.  Because these are custom made and to the exacting standards both of the original guns, the customer and their own craftsmanship, these are not cheap rifles.  They also have warnings about using modern smokeless in these rifles, as its pressures are far higher than the original powder, so the customer must be skilled in the use of the traditional powder.

Personal rating on 5 stars: SB - 5, Trad - 5, Inno - 2


Rohrbaugh Firearms - The concealed carry area of arms has, apparently, grown like gangbusters and yet the problems of finding a good and reliable firearm that can actually do some damage while being small has continually driven on gun makers to try yet another caliber and see if they can create that perfect concealed carry weapon.  Here I will let the company speak for itself as to why it came about:

Like all great inventions, the Rohrbaugh 9mm was born of necessity. Over a 20-year career as a firearms instructor and handgun trainer, Karl Rohrbaugh long recognized the need for a truly effective self-defensive pistol. Time and again, his clients had complained that currently available handguns were too big and bulky to carry and conceal comfortably, and to use effectively.

Mr. Rohrbaugh also noticed that the trend among manufacturers toward making their products smaller has not produced high-quality firearms. With millions invested in their current products, manufacturers have chosen to cut corners by simply cutting back on barrels and grips to give their guns a smaller look and feel. No major manufacturer has committed to invest in the considerable new design work, R&D and retooling required to produce a truly effective smaller pistol.

So, Mr. Rohrbaugh is hitting this from the R&D and stopping power side of things, which is track that some other companies haven't taken.  To that end the company concentrates on exactly two models:

R9 and R9s weighin

The R9 on the left is the .380 ACP while the R9s is on the right in 9mm, both carry 6 rounds.  There is lots of room at the bottom, as Mr. Feynman said about machining, and that appears to be very true in handguns.  Yet a company willing to invest in research to look for new ways to save space, weight and yet not sacrifice safety will push this market and require everyone to step up their performance to cut those things while not cutting quality.

Personal rating on 5 stars: SB - 5, Trad - 3, Inno - 4


Freedom Arms Inc. -  From the fine state of Wyoming comes Freedom Arms, specializing in revolvers.  These are not replicas, although many are made in an old west style, but modern revolvers made to custom specifications.  In the arms market there will always be a place for those specialists who keep to traditional forms of manufacturing and craftsmanship and Freedom Arms brings that to their revolvers.  Thus their work not only looks to the past but to the present and they have also joined that arena of large bore handguns with the Model 83 5-shot revolver Premium Grade:

Freedom Arms Model 83 Premium adj sights

Available in 4.75", 6", 7.5" and 10" barrels, the gun can be made to handle .357 Mag, .41 Remington Mag, .44 Remington Mag, 454 Casull, .457 Linebaugh and .500 Wyoming Express.

By stressing accuracy, ballistics and the craftsmanship necessary to ensure the ballistics is used to its greatest potential, Freedom Arms represents the old school of making guns that fit the needs of the customer to the highest possible standards.  As these are not mass produced arms, the cost is commensurate with the work necessary to create them by hand.

Personal rating on 5 stars: SB - 5, Trad - 4, Inno - 4


Hi-Point Firearms - It is hard to say exactly what part of the market Hi-Point hits save that it is the low cost, lifetime guarantee end of it.  And that is 'no-questions asked' on the warranty, too, so that even if you are the third, fourth or millionth owner of the gun, if it fails, they will repair it for free.  That said, it is difficult to describe a first reaction to seeing one:


That is the 45ACP, 9 shot magazine pistol.  Combine low cost and guaranteed free repairs and no matter how it looks there will always be a ready market for anything with that, save, possibly, Yugos.  Still there is a thriving business and fans and simple design is often a reward on its own as far less can go wrong  with it.  Simple, easy to use, low cost, and guaranteed repairs for free means value, and most likely decent profits.  You can't knock that and I can personally see where a gun that *just works* has a very, very high value.  And since it doesn't look like a 1911, that means that the basics of innovation and trying to capture a different market are in place, and obviously working as there are many people who don't like the style of gun and would prefer something different in weight, grasp (not grip) and balance.

Personal rating on 5 stars: SB - 5, Trad - 2, Inno - 2


Bond Arms - The Double Barrel Derringer is a classic gun and Bond Arms continues that history to the modern era as the original concealed carry gun is an active concept with them.  Because of its simplicity of action the Derringer continues to be the ready alternative to the modern semi-automatics and revolvers as the moving parts are trimmed down even more: there is less to go wrong:

Bond Arms Ranger

That is the Bond Arms Ranger with 4.25" barrels.  What Bond Arms has done is made an interchangeable barrel system so that a customer need only buy the barrels they need to the caliber they want and they can swap out barrels on-the-fly.  This allows for a form of reload in which pre-loaded barrels are kept secure until they are needed and swapped in.  For a modern Derringer that is, actually, a very, very good piece of work and innovative.  Other manufacturers may make Derringers, but by specializing Bond Arms can ensure that its market segment is well cared for and maintained and since it is a niche market, by retaining innovation it is very difficult for other manufacturers to get a significant portion of it.  And as the entire line of Derringers has interchangeable barrels for their frame it then allows the customer to decide exactly what they will need and still get variety of performance, all the way up to .410 shot shells.  And that would be some 'ace in the hole' when everything else runs out.  Tagline - "The finest in double barrel protection"

Personal rating on 5 stars: SB - 5, Trad - 4, Inno - 3


Calico Light Weapon System - There are guns and then there is Calico.  This firm started out in the petroleum industry making specialized equipment.  They then had this strange idea that turns the idea of how to get ammunition into a firing chamber on its head... if you want innovation of a gun from top to bottom, inside and out, then what you want to look at is a Calico.  Their revolution was a feeding system called the Helical Feed Magazine and I can't recall ever having seen anything like it and yet it is so intuitively obvious that one wonders why it hasn't been done before:


That is the Calico Liberty III, 9mm.  What is that thing on top of it?  The 50 round magazine.  They also have a 100 round magazine available. 

Calico feed

Calico also has a speed loader, so that the 50 round magazine can be loaded in 15 seconds and the 100 in 30 seconds.  Due to the design of the magazine, there is not spring tension problems or wear if you keep it constantly loaded as the spring relies on torsion, not compression.  By redesigning the gun the spent chambers eject down, thus reducing muzzle climb.  The redesign also allows for a 5 second tool-less weapon strip.  The sights are on the magazine and adjustable so that you can adjust for distance and the offset between barrel and sight.  So that means you can have magazines of high capacity, always loaded, ready to go and an easy gun to maintain, to boot.  And the cost is very, very reasonable, to boot.  Available currently in .22LR and 9mm, soon in the 40 cal.  Tagline: "Running out of ammunition is a malfunction"

Personal rating on 5 stars: SB - 5, Trad - 3, Inno - 5


There are, of course, many others that I am leaving off, including LAR Manufacturing Grizzly and their .50 caliber work, Les Baer custom 1911's, Cimarron Firearms (although its hard to tell the natives from the imports), O. F. Mossberg & Sons Firearms, Wilson Combat Arms, and Nighthawk Custom arms.  But learning about the firearms market by scratching its surface in the US has given me a far greater appreciation for its scope and depth, from the custom traditional to the truly innovative.

We are truly blessed with having such capability and respect for tradition in our country.

And I can say that even restricting myself to just these businesses would still leave me with far more in the way of choices than I can readily conceive.  Because supporting liberty through small businesses doesn't mean getting short-changed.  Not by a long shot.

21 August 2008

Dumb Looks Still Free: Diversity?

This post started off as a series of random thoughts after reading Jeff Goldstein's post on Diversity at Protein Wisdom

Humans are a diverse lot within our species - we come in a myriad of hues, outlooks and personal views on things.  Some of these things arise from 'culture' but that cannot explain such things as 'personality' and 'attitude'.  In fact humans are allergic to actually defining and quantifying those latter, and we get some dreadfully inhuman feeling that trying to actually define something like, say, extroversion so as to factor it in to our views of self and society, and then put a means to measure it that is verifiable and quantifiable is just... well... dehumanizing.  Sort of like taking your blood pressure and factoring it in to your lifestyle so you can adjust various factors and not keel over dead due to complications from it.  Or not, as the case may be.

What?  You get your blood pressure measured?  Pretty damned unnatural, that, wanting to know what it is your body is doing in a general way - why not ignore it and just keel over when various factors finally make your system go down?  You know, just die naturally as your body intends it to?

You want to LIVE LONGER?  Damned unnatural, that.

Unless you like living, of course, then actually putting a peg on your blood pressure and other bodily functions so as to understand how they interwork and why is of importance.  While your genetic heritage will play a large part in your demise, your own actions will be a determining factor that is, actually, under your control.  As a person in a body that has multiple and diverse functions, you want to understand those functions and how they interact so as to take precautions and preventative measures in case your genetic material has some innate failings.  At that point you are working to adjust the actual function of that sub-system (be it organ or interaction of biochemicals system-wide) so as to ensure that the system continues to function well and within boundaries that are 'normal' to you as an individual.

Now that genetic heritage imparts many things to you: tendencies towards certain disorders based on ethnic heritage, similar based on familial lineage, an admixture of genes from two parents that may have recessive genes for a disorder that become dominant when taken together, and a whole host of other things, such as body morph type of your parent's background modified by that new gene suite that is yours.  Even with all conceptions being equal, and being born equal, that genetic suite will play a large role in determining how you live and how long you live.  And it has a large part to play in personality, attitude and the internal traits that will show up to you, as an individual, as you develop in your life.  That combined suite and interaction makes you something unique within the species and within the history of life:  an individual.

Just like a snowflake.

Walk up to a glacier and see the snowflakes!


The properties of the water molecule and how it nucleates so as to freeze and form a crystal is based on many things, but when they are taken cumulatively they then start to form something different.  Get lots of snow and keep on adding more and reduce melt-off for a few centuries and you start to see that the oldest flakes are changing under pressure and beginning to turn into ice.  They still retain much of their background from their formation, but their individual structures have coalesced into a mass structure.  Once that is done and pressure mounts the ice begins to act as a slow moving, viscous fluid and heads downhill.  That earliest mass of individuals, now forgotten, have formed something different and created a new thing that depends on the contribution of all intervening layers from the topmost, individual flakes, to those layers of flakes getting compressed into ice to the bottom most melting under pressure and friction to allow movement of the whole mass.

When applied to human society, those historical contributions are called 'culture'.

Taken as a whole they become a new thing called 'society'.

Your individual contribution in the living stance is important: you are standing atop a vast, deep structure formed by hundreds of generations of human culture coming to coalesce into societies that are based on those cultures.  Geography then plays a role that is determinative, just like with glaciers, and allow for there to be variation of glaciers based on position, time, changes in snowfall, changes in insolation, how much of the underlying surface is entrained, and the actual composition of the snow based layers that can alter the chemistry of the glacier once they become compressed.  While all snowflakes are created equal, all glaciers are different.  Some are in places with very little snow and no melting worth counting, and thus move slowly, others get wet, rich snowfall in the tens of feet per year and turn into fast moving glaciers (as these things go), and still others get stuck in areas that are lower than surrounding mountains and actually circle around and around, finding no outlet.

When society meets geography we begin to get these things called 'states'.  These 'states' have a composition based on ethnicity, personal outlook, history of those that came before, how culture developed and along what lines, and then what is being added to the top layers as time goes on.  That pressure at the bottom begins to lose all but the most important societal and cultural memories and uses the vast bulk to engender motion of that society.  All of that takes on characteristics that are particular to geographic circumstances, so that even people of identical ethnic background will wind up with two entirely different formulations of culture and society based on geography.

The structure of a glacier, like that of a state, in no way belittles the importance of the top most individuals who happen to be part of that structure: they are necessary to the structure's continuation.  As individuals living in states we come to prefer a regularized means of adapting our needs to the general society and culture, and form an organizational structure to help ensure that this is done to our needs as individuals who are members of that greater organization.  We call these things 'nations', and they are the regularized means of actually trying to make sure our human created affairs don't implode under social, cultural and individual pressures and that a way of life continues that is amenable not only to the present generation but to past practices and 'lessons learned' by our ancestors.

Just as there are structures within your body, as an individual, that allow for your continuation of life, so, too, are there structures in a glacier that allow it to continue on its way based on geography.  Nations also have organs within them and become the accumulation point of those things that, when utilized by individuals, is a negative or detriment to the overall structure we call society and states. 

As individuals living under the Law of Nature you have complete liberty.  And you have no one to stop you save, by the Law of Nature, others exercising THEIR complete liberty upon YOU.  Since we are all created equal or start out at the equal base-state with some genetic factors, it is then incumbent upon each of us to understand that this complete suite of liberty to the individual has a high cost overhead.  'Nature red of tooth and claw' means that you are dinner to someone or something else, none excepted from the lowliest virus to the greatest predator you can name, each has perfect and complete liberty based on their heritage and will succumb to complete liberty.

The foundation of culture is understanding that some of that liberty can be passed over to a group of our fellow beings in which we will act in unison: we create culture to reduce friction and bring ourselves together in common accord for our protection and restricted exercise of those liberties that are negative to our personal survival that would be the case without our grouping them together.  That group culture has member based limits, usually pegged at between 120 and 150 individuals, after which the intergroup problems cause sub-groups to splinter off.  To create something more than that requires a society of agreed-upon common understandings and the formation of some way to organize the policing of those standards.  That organizational structure concept may have started as early as 8,000 BC, but once invented it spread like wildfire and still remains with us to this day.

That internal working order and compliance system to reinforce the common agreements amongst ourselves in the larger than 150 member group comes by a name:  government.  We have handed government the negative means to enforce compliance of the individual with society, when individuals break that common agreement.  Government is no boon to mankind, but a necessary creation of humans so that we can live together in common agreement and accord.  That expanded structure over a geographic region that may encompass many similar societies that have a larger basis for agreement becomes a National Government to protect their common State.  No other structure yet devised can protect individuals from the full suite of liberty they are born with as well as governments.  By using the coercive bulwark of following the agreed-upon structures across the societies in a Nation, government then brings the members into compliance with that common agreement.

That is this thing called Diversity with common agreement for a mutual society.

Individuals may have problems with some of the sub-structures in that society, but so long as the outward manifestations of the common agreement are held upon in public and for the common good, trying to force each individual into any greater compliance becomes an authoritarian move to utilize some other vision of what the common agreement 'should be' rather than what it is.  What is forgotten is that the Nation, like a glacier, is guided not by the top but by the bottom and the geography it has: the intervening layers take a lot to change and there is usually a huge death toll in trying to change them.

Japan lost its centuries of Imperial Military culture during World War II: the glacier that was Japanese culture hit a chasm that the underlying structure fell into taking that leading edge along with it.  Some of the partially melted and solidified layers emerged on the other side while the old Imperial culture filled the chasm and was lost.  The death toll to do that was horrific by any measure.  Once bridged that new culture retained positive aspects that helped it along, and formed a new basis for movement at the bottom.

US society had a wedge of rock that divided it for its first decades and no one knew if the structure would be considered whole or not.  Was this going to turn into two separate valleys or was this a structure that would be ground down and away by the society?  Blood joined the two parts into a whole and while still fractured in that area, the mass continues onwards in a single valley.  We still have the inclusions in American society that shows up that older stand of rock that proved to be a separation but not a division, that due to the outcome of the Civil War.  That could have proven otherwise, but did not do so and because of the outcome of that conflict the US must be addressed by society.  The original agreement that formed the Nation included that separation and reconciling it was expected to be done in a civil fashion over years.  Instead that separation had kept to a feeling that the original papering over of how the Nation was formed was to be for all time.

The actual effort to remove that separation, demonstrate that all men are created equal and that by coming into this world and being born into should not place an individual into a separate bin according to race, class, or ethnic backgrounds took that bloodshed to finally establish and remove the underpinnings of the separation.  Grinding away at the inclusions, those artifacts brought into the overall culture and finally diminishing them and removing the worse of them is not an overnight affair and takes generations.  Citing differences in culture due to that separation belies the underlying structure of seeing each individual born into the world as free and having liberty.  That liberty is not 'cost free' to exercise in restraint: we give up the negative aspects of it to government so that we may exercise the positive aspects to be better individuals and create a world where the positive aspects of liberty overwhelm its negative aspects.  That is our job at the top of the glacier of the Nation called the United States that is composed of many and diverse people.

Where Jeff Goldstein goes, and I do concur, is that modern 'Diversity' views are not set up to help bring the positives of other societies into ours while removing the negative hold-overs.  The strange concept that you can come to ANY Nation and not want to be a part of its culture and, indeed, work to establish a separate culture within the Nation is not only divisive: it is lethal.  Coming to a Nation means agreeing to the social compact of that Nation which represents the state, society and cultures of that Nation.  To do that one must partake of love of that Nation for the things it represents via that culture, society, state and government. 

If one puts forward that the ever present proviso of 'but you should criticize it for things it does wrong' then you cannot absolve yourself from that exact, same criticism if your actions are an attempt to divide, not just separate, cultures within a Nation away from the common accord.  To the profound dismay of many, it is that second aspect of 'asking questions' that rises above the common accord to cause division and dissension by trying to establish cultural enclaves and communities that do not represent the agreement to have a Nation in common.  This does not mean that there are not cultural references to other cultures, that is profound and true of the common agreement in the United States, but it does point out that it is that act of finding something that is American that will underlie all of those who wish to consider themselves to be American.  That common understanding must come first, separate of other cultures, because the United States is attempting to make a unique culture unlike any other on this planet.

'Why can't we be like everyone else?'

Because we set out to be profoundly different FROM everyone else and show a way in which liberty could be held accountable and yet its positive aspects fully emphasized to create the greatest freedom for mankind that has ever been witnessed in history.  By inserting a hyphen and creating the -American, you are creating a negative sign in the equation that puts other culture, ethnicity and 'diversity' FIRST and then subtracts American from it.  That is one of the most insidious of mental cues that can be done to a Nation as it demeans and belittles that National experience of culture, society and state and then purports that the part subtracted, after taking America away, still leaves good things that are not taken into the culture as a whole.

If they are so good, then why aren't they put forth in a way that is acceptable to EVERYONE so that we may share in that common good?  What happens is that the 'diversity' is then enhanced to try and make individuals feel SPECIAL because of that ethnic heritage, emphasize that ethnic heritage and cause divisiveness in a land where everyone is born EQUAL.  If one can subtract the American part of the hyphenated Americans and still be left with good things, then someone is not sharing their cultural wealth with the whole of the Nation and is no longer agreeing to that common cultural compact to create a NEW culture that emphasizes accountable liberty for the greatest possible positive freedom.  And the judge of the actual, positive value of those things brought in is NOT the individual, but the acceptance or lack of same of those cultural artifacts by the greater society as a whole.  That is how the good gets winnowed from the bad, and no matter how good this or that cultural trait may seem to those who practice it, they are not the final arbiters for the entirety of acceptance by society.

One area where America demonstrates tolerance is in the upkeeping of the Peace of Westphalia which established different realms for the spiritual realm of religion and the secular realm of the state.  That cultural artifact pre-dates the United States by over a century, and yet is seen as a primary inclusion into the Nation as it affords toleration of religion that does not seek to upend the common society as a whole.  That was included not only because of the obligations placed upon us by Westphalia via lineage, but also due to the wisdom of keeping religion out of the secular common good so that it would not divide peoples along those lines.  Those rallying to the fact that the founders were 'Christians' ignore that they were being 'Good Christians' and upholding the Peace of Westphalia so that the differences in Christianity would not divide the new Nation.  The most ardent supporters of that were priests and the clergy of many sects already in America as part of separate states that would form the Nation of the United States.

As that comes to pass we also tolerate a wide 'diversity' of religions, so long as they do not seek secular power to differentiate between men based upon religion.  We give high honor to those Good Christians who formed this Nation because, on the religious side, they had vehement and deep disagreements with each other and yet agreed not to let that bigotry stop them from creating a Nation that would respect all religions.  That did not stop their personal bigotry towards other religious outlooks, but it limited it to the private sphere of discourse because that is a POSITIVE liberty: discussion in society over issues of a profound moral character.  Government is restricted from that area as it cannot seek its guidance from any single source, but from the entirety of the experience of the people as represented in their majority and minority.  Neither minority or majority are allowed to dictate to society: majority rules, but minority circumscribes those things that would negatively impact the greater Nation as a whole.  In the realm of religion that actually has voice in the most personal religion possible, which is that practiced by a sole believer.

Arguments and ideas pulled from the realm of the spiritual then must face the test of the secular in being agreeable to the majority, not infringe on the minority and respect the rights of the individuals of society.  Religion can and does have a place in the public square as a source of moral guidance.  The question of the good of that guidance cannot be decided by religion for the common man, but must be represented as a good and secular force *beyond* religion.  This is one of the nastiest points of the separation of the spiritual and secular: they are not separated but have defined limits of activity upon them.  A religious doctrine may be good, upstanding and moral within that defined religion, and yet not have rigorous backing that is acceptable to the secular state and the common accord.  It can even be Christian and fail in this test, and any wishing to make religiously guided teachings a part of the common culture and law must do the exact, same thing and demonstrate the worthiness of that belief or set of beliefs to the secular whole.

Of course every secular idea has to do the same.

Some folks seem to forget that.

Because the test is equal.

'Diversity' by creating a glamour around cultural differences is not an attempt to ensure that common richness is held by the entire society, but to impute that the differences due to those things is more important than the shared, common values.  That, too, faces the secular test of culture and society before even getting to the level of the overall state.  One of the pernicious attitudes is that those cultural artifacts due to class, race or ethnicity creates something different and that those differences should be emphasized.  What that does is not create an object in the landscape to face the test of the overall state representing society, but to attempt to drive wedges into the state to break up society along those hyphenated lines.

Ghettos and poor areas in America had been the place where the new immigrants typically landed as they were poor and unfamiliar with the culture they were trying to adopt to.  Yet, those ghettos would see a great diversity over time as various ethnic groups moved through them and into larger American society.  Waves of Poles, Italians, Irish, Chinese, Dutch, Spanish, French, Russian, Lebanese, Turks, Arabs... all have or are going through an acculturization experience in which they shift from being who they were to becoming Americans.  It is only in the near modern era when a view towards uplifting that diversity and enshrining it by creating a separate culture of the ghetto would attempt to wash out that long background and create a separate experience based on race, not culture. 

Those groups, individuals and companies who seek to emphasize this are trying to create a permanent underclass and place for certain portions of the population in what is traditionally a transitory place to achievement at a personal and cultural level.  The poor in urban ghettos are only 'poor' in comparison to their fellow countrymen in the main, and not poor as compared to the majority of humanity and, indeed, the majority of all humans living and dead.  Yet that success, perhaps one of the greatest monuments to mankind where a beggar in the streets of a modern American city has more access to the keys to succeed than nearly anyone else for all of human history is, instead, used as a 'wedge issue' to divide the Nation based on monetary class and race.  If we cannot acknowledge the success that our forefathers have allowed us to build upon, then we will forever be tearing at that self-same structure to make everyone exactly equal for all of life, and thusly perpetually poor.

If race were a determinant, then the 20% of black sub-population (a.k.a. the African-American community, although blacks come from more places than just Africa) in America who have shifted from the poor ghetto to the suburban middle class would not be possible.  By trying to maintain a poverty by race culture, those seeking that end are trying to permanently curb a group of our fellow citizens into perpetual poverty and unrest.  Seeking 'reparations' for slavery is a slap in the face to the generations of those who have stood between that era of emancipation and who had worked hard, damned hard, to ensure that their children get a better life and the full recognition of their equality as men.  That 20% is not an all time statistic, but representing a shift away from the ghetto culture as black Americans come to terms with the rest of society of what it means to be black in America without trying to tear down the rest of society to do it.  But then slavery and involuntary servitude was never a sole black issue, just a majority one, and the emphasizing of race then demeans those who were WHITE and brought here in slavery and servitude or, even worse, thrown out by a mother Nation because they were given a choice that was very stark for crimes committed: leave or die.  Others would flee because they were social outcasts due to religion, sexuality, promiscuity, or just unable to get along with anyone else and they faced a certain, lethal, end if they stayed where they were.

As a land of opportunity, however, if one can trace direct descent to those given the actual promise of help to a new life, then I do support that promise.  'Forty acres and a mule' represents a path given to better oneself, start a new life and work hard to establish that life in the community.  I fully and completely support a new life for those seeking it via hard work, so long as they throw away all the excuses used, now, to denigrate their forefathers for the hard work they did to give them a better life.  America should always stand up for those seeking to remake themselves as vital citizens who do not seek to denigrate or destroy society, but instead seek a better life for themselves and their children via hard work.  Because that is what forty acres and a mule WAS, and the value of the land and mule may have changed, but the value of the hard work to make something with one's own hands with those modest means is perpetual.  We have vast swaths of land that can be farmed by individual farmers who can find the means to scratch a living from the earth and any who want reparations *now* should have that exact, same offer given to them.

Sans bank account.

Sans school records.

Sans telephone.

Perhaps with the tools, seed grain and a short stack of MREs to tide them over.

A new life, a new land, a new way to demonstrate your worth to yourself by taking up those things your grandparents or great-grandparents were denied.  I am more than willing to see that for those who feel that what they have today is in any way what those who were emancipated were denied.  You cannot claim to be deprived and yet have iPods, expensive clothes, television and car as that places you ahead of the vast majority of humanity.  Not to speak of your forefathers.

To those who come here voluntarily, they have made a willful choice to adopt to a new land.  While modern electronics may make it difficult to leave one's home culture behind, it must be recognized that the physical change in venue means that the home culture is no longer operative for you, as an individual.  If you can't leave it behind, then why leave in the first place?  America is not here to attract the rich, but to attract those who wish to exercise liberty on behalf of themselves and their family.  The invocation of liberty is not to be separate but equal, but to be equal and prosper or not by your ability to live by what you can do.  In that area, the United States stands alone, culturally, as your birth does not circumscribe success for the individual: the individual does that for themselves.  Some will define success modestly, to what others see, and yet have great meaning in modest success beyond what any who achieve fame and fortune can ever find in those things.  It is not the height of the overall goal, but the steadfast work to achieve it that is the measure of a man in America.  Sadly, not all succeed, and that is in the nature of being human: we may all have an equal start in life but our gifts may not be equal to our aspirations.  While those who seek fame and fortune and then fall from the light of fame due to their lacks may have a more spectacular rise and fall, that is nothing compared to a man who sets modest goals in life and finds his gifts unequal to their achievement.

Learning is the movement to take in new knowledge and skills and then seek to apply them, then evaluate success.  Some individuals have in-born talent and tools that can make the most complex of things look ridiculously easy... until you try them.  Others come to terms with their lacks and yet their goals place them squarely in the path of their lack of talent and that individual must then ask if the goal is worth this effort on their behalf?  Finally, others will see that a single goal can be met by different paths and eschew a common way to approach things and blaze a new trail for themselves that may wind them up forever lost, but with an appreciation of what they have done and, possibly, finding an even better goal than the original.  Here there is diversity due to individuality, not by culture although that plays a part in it as individuals cannot divorce themselves from culture.

Government has very limited role to play in a land where liberty is paramount, as it is the basis of liberty for each to achieve as they are able for themselves and then live on those fruits of their labor.  Pure monetary reward is not the only measure of a man nor income, the ability to sustain a life according to how well they succeed in what they do and their satisfaction with that: that is reward.  Some individuals get rewarded in a monetary way out of all proportion to their work, they get 'rich' by doing very little in life.  That is how our culture is arranged, and if you create a cheap fad and profit from it by your understanding of human nature, then you are due the compensation in proportion to whatever you can get for that meager work.  The incredibly rich, those well off beyond all understanding of simple checkbook math, are those that can put forth those funds as they choose, and even try to influence and 'guide' the society around them through those creations.  The disdain and even hatred for George Soros is an echo of that felt for Carnegie, Rockefeller and a host of Robber Barons and 'Captains of Industry' throughout our history.  And when those individuals and groups try to get their hands on the form of power that is from the common man, namely government, the blessing of small government is witness and manifest: there is nothing there to control.  Limited government is controlled government, with restrictions upon itself that it crosses only at peril of disdain, hatred and revolution.

Here the 'diversity' is in ensuring that the common good cannot dictate to all the citizenry, so that liberty can flourish in those areas where doing good means doing well.  The moment one thinks to 'transfer wealth' or 'soak the rich' and then allow taxation upon the individual citizen to be unequal, we become unequal before the eyes of government.  Equality before the due process of law must be regular and complete across all aspects of government, and only where wealth gives power to destroy society or enslave it must government step in.  But the nature of that aid has its own peril, especially when charity that is the heart of the common man, is given to the punisher of government.  The effect of ensuring handouts to the poor, without having to do a thing to get them, is not 'good' but an enticement to stop striving completely and hand your ability to survive over to government.  That has a word in our language: slavery.

When the call to break our common agreement via amendment, to allow government to tax individuals unequally, it was promised then that this would never, ever, not once, go beyond the 'top 5%' of those who had wealth in the Nation.  To our shame, We the People bought that idea and now gave our common and collective protector and handler of the tools of punishment a way to treat the common man unequally.  That promise to 'soak the rich' went quickly by the wayside as those in the realm of government sought to create 'diversity' of taxation and find new and better ways to tax the individual as they saw fit.  Prior to that government must, by necessity, treat everyone equally because it could not differentiate on any basis amongst the citizenry.  The rich could influence society, but only in limited ways via government, and only when the tools of taxation unequally became available did discrimination BY government become a form of diversity imposed from above.  Government would not have dared to insinuate that individuals could not earn their keep, that they must accept funds from government, that not working was perfectly acceptable and that moving to government run housing that would be perfectly in-place in the USSR was a 'good thing' for the poor in America.  Yet by the 1960's 'diversity' had seen so much government power over-running the poor that this was the case.

For those of today who seek 'reparations' they really should ask how their people, once enslaved by the law were to become enslaved by the power handed to government to discriminate based on wealth.  While that slightly poisoned and addictive drug of handouts might be good in the short run, the long run is lethal to those seeking liberty and to be free.  Now that we head into an era of 'cultural sensitivity' based on any perception of any discrimination amongst minor things in life, each of those is made out to be the looming chasm of racism, sexism and a host of other maladies that are, by and large, gone from society.  Instead of individuals or society discriminating, now it is GOVERNMENT that does so by playing 'favorites' and pitting class against class, ethnicity against ethnicity, gender against gender, all to 'right wrongs' of times past which are, strangely, passed and not the present.  The very insurance of equality was equal treatment via due process of law, but the law is now very unequal in distributing goodies across society, and uplifting some at the expense of others.  That 'top 5%' pays for more than 50% of all public good, while the bottom 50% pays virtually NOTHING, which means that between 51% and 94% you see the other 50% of payments to the 'common good'.

I thought this was supposed to be an equal venture with everyone paying their way?

Just as society started to come to terms with racism was the exact, same time that government started to enforce racial quotas, racial distribution of wealth and started to dictate to a portion of the population that being enslaved to government welfare was far better than 'discrimination'.  The very thing that the poorest lobbied for, 'soaking the rich' would come back to haunt them as the rich paid the bulk of the load and those paying nothing went into virtual slavery to ensure that a government check would show up for them.  That would not only hurt this nation economically, by dooming a portion of society to perpetual servile attitudes of the 'gimme' type, and expecting hand-outs, but also it is a loss to liberty and freedom for everyone.  The very thing we now see as a bane amongst ourselves is enshrined in law and perpetuated by those seeking power in keeping those divisions in place.  What is even worse is that this was slowly devouring those who had modest jobs, and yet still were able to keep families going and enshrine an idea of self-worth through self-work and achievement.  Ending perpetual handouts is not an evil act, but one that recognizes an individual must have some dignity on their own to achieve, no matter how modestly, for themselves.  We abandoned the 'poor houses' for government mandated housing, and got ghettos that were run down the moment they were completed and fostered an idea of perpetual poverty.  No longer could the poor work together with some help from government to achieve on their own and lift themselves up out of poverty by their own hands.  Those who cried in sorrow at that plight of our fellow citizens never lived to see that turned into social isolation worse than any gulag as crime and anti-societal groups ran free in those areas.  And the actual property that was owned by citizens that was wiped out to bring this supposed good, ensured that those individuals would loose any chance to build themselves out of poverty.

Those deeply driven wedges into this state and its society are still being worked from government, no longer the problem created by society, but instead a far worse remedy than any problem it is supposed to solve.  Many of those housing projects were condemned in a short decade after opening as they crumbled into decay and the people in them had no ownership of anything, save personal goods.  In a society of monetary achievement there will always be a 'rich' and a 'poor', an upper 5% and lowest 5% that is pure math and cannot be changed save to make everyone monetarily equal and, thusly, their worth of no value whatsoever as no matter what you achieve, you are just the same as the next man.  Only government can mandate that, and become tyrannical to an absolute degree to achieve it.  It would end 'diversity' unlike any other thing on this planet and be absolutely 'fair' as it would treat everyone as servants of the state.  Yet it is in calling for that sort of 'fairness' to recognize 'diversity' that will assuredly end it.

We are a diverse people, from diverse backgrounds and diverse views.

Yet we join together to uphold liberty and equality so that we may all be equal before the punisher of government and give it no special power over any single one of us.

Because that is a good thing for all of us.

Out of diversity we become one single people, dedicated to liberty and freedom

Out of many, One.