M-16’s, shotguns, militias etc.

Gotta admit. I don’t understand the facination with guns that many people here have. I’m also not a big fan of speaking about onesself in the third person, but that’s a whole other issue.

Granted, the Minister of Agriculture living in the wilds of central Virginia, might conceivably need to defend himself and his family from the roving bands of starving groundhogs, that have been known to actually dammage gardens. So he needs a gun.

The ML has found that terminating with extreme prejudice is an occupational hazzard at his new location of employment. So I guess he needs guns. And he needs an intern, but that’s another story.

And the Foreign Minister lives on hostile soil. Since ML is too cheap to get him a body guard, I guess he needs guns.

Me, I live in a house in suburbia. I have a geriatric spaniel protecting my estate.

Best Blog in DC?

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader bought a copy of “Washingtonian” magazine over the weekend to review the “Best of Washington” section that comes out annually. In the magazine they say that the Daily Talking Points Memo is the best blog in Washington (DC). Your Maximum Leader went over and reviewed the blog for a while yesterday. Politics aside, it didn’t seem that much better or different than many other DC area blogs… Humm… Your Maximum Leader smells payola…

Carry on.

Good on Ya, Mate!

Australia… home of AC/DC and the Wiggles. Are they the biggest contribution to world culture from Down Under? Maybe. Don’t laugh. These guys did 12 shows at Madison Square Garden this month.

Bye bye M-16…

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been mulling over how he is going to be responding to recent gay marriage posts. He thinks there are going to really be two posts. The first on the backlash/legislative decision v. judicial decision/slippery slope aspect. The second will likely be more philosophical and abstract.

Since we are speaking about guns here of late, your Maximum Leader read about how the US Army is phasing out the M-16. While this seems to be a good idea overall (your Maximum Leader has always thought the AK-47 is a superior general purpose military rifle), I didn’t know much about the rifle “system” that was slated to replace the M-16. Then I read over Kim Du Toit’s blog on the M-16 and the new “oik” rifle. Your Maximum Leader finds it hard to believe that the US Army is going to go with a 78 pound weapon that appears to as dainty as the M-16. Humm… Not good. As Du Toit alluded, what happened to the days of platoons that had a number of riflemen, one machine gunner, and a solider with an RPG? I agree that it seems to be a bad idea to have every solider perform every role himself. I sometimes worry about our military’s love of all things technological.

And speaking of that, how about this item about drone aircraft. I grew disturbed by the line saying that the F-35 might be the last piloted aircraft for the US Air Force. Am I the only one thinking that all an adversary of the US needs to do is find a way to implement a sophisticated communications jamming system in a regional battlefield to seriously upset the US’ ability to wage war? I remember reading about a war game done within the last five years were the “enemy” team had the typical Soviet era ground forces and air forces array - but one small nuke. The “enemy” team launched the nuke into space and exploded it to have the EMP disable US communications satellites and such stuff. The Pentagon “judges” declared the wargame over immediately after this saying the “enemy” didn’t play fair. The result of the EMP was that the US lost much of it high-tech advantage and was poised to loose on the ground. (I’ve tried for a few minutes to find a link, but had to give up…)

Disturbing trends overall I believe. Perhaps this is also an area in which all contributors to this space might agree…

Carry on.

Cuba.

Gretings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been following some of the Cuba debate alluded to by the Foreign Minister. I was not under the impression that a general lifting of the travel ban was enacted. (And this article shows my thought was correct.) Personally, I have no desire to travel to Castro’s Cuba. I do very much want to travel to Cuba in a general sense, but will not go while Castro holds sway over the Cuban people. I am under the impression that if Americans fly to other Caribbean nations (like Jamaica for example) they can get on a plane to Cuba, and when they arrive the Cubans will give them a Visa stamp on a separate piece of paper that they can hold in (but not attach to) their passport. Then when they leave Cuba, they dispose of the slip of paper with the Cuban Visa and the US Department of State is none the wiser.

Carry on.

Piling on.

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader just loves it when the Minister of Agriculture has to revise prior statements. (Just as I am sure that he loves it when your Maximum Leader resists revising his…) Allow me to just say “here, here” to the Foreign Minister’s comments and then pile on with some of my own.

First, where exactly does he come up with ” Historically speaking, arguing that the militia consisted of all free men was bunk;…?” Humm could it be that historically speaking a “well-regulated militia” did in fact mean all free men. Let’s start with the Father of the Bill of Rights, George Mason who wrote this into the Virginia Constitution of 1776 (widely viewed as the precursor to the US Bill of Rights): “That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.” It is Section 13 of the VA Constitution of 1776. Check it out if you like. I will point out that this language was used to be the first draft of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.

Your Maximum Leader was just surfing around trying to find other sources to back up his position. And remembered that the good Eugene Volokh, of the Volokh Conspiracy, is a Second Amendment Scholar (among other things). And he has a lovely sampling of source materials on this issue. I commend them to the Minister of Agriculture so that he might become enlightened. A quick review of the source materials show that the good Minister of Agriculture seems to be talking out of his proverbial arse when he asserts “Additionally, the courts had always agreed with me.” Humm, it appears as though the courts haven’t always agreed with you.

Of course, my favourite part of the post is right at the end of that 8th paragraph where the M of A deliciously writes: “Last year, I had to send the Maximum Leader a congratulatory note; an appeals court actually overturned a gun law on the basis of the Second Amendment. Since I support the rule of law, I have to now concede that the Second Amendment does give some protections to an individual’s right to own firearms.” Your Maximum Leader just loves what the M of A can put into a note… Allow your Maximum Leader to summarize for the rest of the minions who may not have been reading too closely: the Minister of Agriculture said that there was no individual right to gun ownership; then said there is. Humm… Can’t get much clearer than that can we?

As for the whole public safety argument about guns… To what extent would it be acceptable to limit other civil rights in the name of “public safety” or the “common weal?” Isn’t this the very debate going on around the country concerning the Patriot Act? The M of A may be contented to allow the courts or the various legislative bodies around the country limit his liberty in the interest of nebulous interests of “public safety,” but until the MWO comes - your Maximum Leader is not. (And rest assured, the M of A’s liberty will be severely restricted during the MWO. Just to make a point…)

Carry on my minions.

Egad! Guns for me are fine but not those other nuts!

The M of A really believes all that stuff he writes which is why I love him so dearly. The beautiful thing about it all is, at this moment, he has more guns in his house than I do!

I also get a giggle out of the fact that he has leapfrogged over getting a shotgun (which he has always touted as the only legitimate firearm to own) and gone for the Big Guns and bought himself a rifle.

If I had told him 10 years ago he would be Bambi’s worst nightmare with a rifle he’d have never believed me.

At the same time, the M of A has some really good and persuasive arguments about Gun Control and I often have to rethink the whole issue. Hats off to him.

I have always approached it from a different angle though, and while I admit I spent more time in the bio lab than reading US history and Gov’t, I feel that a lot of what the founding fathers were doing was more about establishing a means for the people to protect themselves from tyrannical governments than from foreign armies or duck hunting. I know that is what voting is for but you never know about things.

On another note, I took both the quizzes that the M L posted below and I turned out to be 1) Glucose and 2) G W himself.

Personally, I am upset about the glucose thing, but it could have been worse. It could have told me I was a fat cell. Come to think of it, it would have been a bummer to have been Colin Powell.

Gay marriage
I seem to fall on the side of the fence that says love is where you find it and if that means you meet and fall in love with someone of the same sex (or different race, religion, or fan of another football team) than so be it. I don’t mind them using the word marriage either. So what?
All this from a Conservative Republican Southern Baptist. Or maybe if I really feel that way I aint such a Conservative, Republican, or Baptist. Maybe I am just mellowing with age (maybe I have been in Euroland too long.)

Hey M L! or anyone else in the cabinet, what is the latest on opening up US Citizens traveling to Cuba? I am dying to go myself. It would be a hoot to have the MWO meet there for a think tank or something else cool like that. I heard that the Senate and House approved it but that W was gonna give it the axe. I would hate to change from being a one issue voter to atwo issue voter.

Its almost midnight in Europe so I am signing off.

How the Minister of Agriculture Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Firearms

The Foreign Minister has evidently been hearing rumors from the Maximum Leader that their liberal anti-NRA comrade has become a death-dealing trigger-happy mass murderer.

Yes, my friend, it is true. While not quite up to world-record category, I have ended six lives over the last few months with my trusty 306. Bwa-ha-ha-ha.

However, in the best tradition of the Maximum Leader, I will refuse to acknowledge that my present actions in any way contradict my previously espoused positions.

Let me ’splain.

Back in college, the Foreign Minister and I engaged in regular debates over gun control legislation. Since college and his acquisition of firearms, the Maximum Leader has frequently put in his pro-gun two cents.

I held that handgun control was a GOOD thing. I advocated the use of shotguns for home defense since you are more likely to hit your target while stressed, deter the need to shoot, and were unlikely to send a round through the wall, across the street, through another wall and into the head of a seven-year old snug in her bed.

I strongly disagreed with the argument that anyone had a RIGHT to own weapons. It seems to me that anyone with a rudimentary understanding of the English language could parse the sentence “A WELL-REGULATED militia being necessary to the security of a free State the right of people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Historically speaking, arguing that the militia consisted of all free men was bunk; the “well-regulated” portion of the phrase was meant to directly contradict this. The Founding Fathers had no truck with the whole Nathaniel Bacon/Daniel Shays type of nonsense. The occasional idiotic Jeffersonian quip about the tree of liberty aside, the geniuses who created our nation and form of government did so in part to prevent citizens with guns from challenging the sovereignty of the government.

Additionally, the courts had always agreed with me. As I noted, the people who get to interpret the meaning of the Constitution wear black robes, not NRA buttons. No court had ever overturned gun-restrictions based on the Second Amendment, the pro-gun folks always challenged using other issues because using the Second Amendment was a sure loser. (Note: Last year, I had to send the Maximum Leader a congratulatory note; an appeals court actually overturned a gun law on the basis of the Second Amendment. Since I support the rule of law, I have to now concede that the Second Amendment does give some protections to an individual’s right to own firearms)

My argument wasn’t necessarily against guns. It was that gun laws should be judged on the basis of efficacy rather than in some silly “It’s mah raigh” context. Quite clearly, I believed, private ownership of weapons is not a right. Until recently, the courts had agreed with me.
So I had no problem with gun registration. What’s the big deal? (NRA parrots: “The first thing the Nazis did was to register gun owners.” MOA: “Gosh, you’re right. We also better make sure the trains don’t ever run on time!”)

I had no problem with limits on handguns other than a concern that enforcement was impractical — how do you get the millions of handguns off the streets?

I had no problem with banning assault rifles, machine guns and anti-tank weapons.

I also did not see the recreation argument as being sufficient in and of itself. If a gun law would effectively save lives, the fact that the Foreign Minister liked to light things up with his Nazi machinegun (and let’s face it; machinegunning targets is way cool!) isn’t a sufficient reason to allow bad folks to kill people with the same weapon. When lives are weighed against shits-and-grins, I’ll take lives any day as a matter of social policy. Convince me that banning machineguns won’t really save lives, and then the enjoyment factor will win out. My position is that people should argue the gun issue on the merits of the impact of particular laws. I guess a good analogy would be the fact that even though the Big Hominid enjoys publicly defecating in mall food courts, public health concerns outweigh his personal satisfaction and if he indulges in his hobby the government will lock him up.

So, as a result, I tend to believe in the use of shotguns for home defense. I have also come to see that rifles are a useful tool for farmers. I can see banning rifles in urban areas since I can envision no non-anti-personal use for a rifle in an urban area. (Check out the multiple negatives in that sentence! Weep, English major, weep!)

However, as a farmer, my 306 is a useful tool. Groundhogs are bad for pasture they dig holes that can break the legs of cattle. While I personally think groundhogs are cute, if they threaten my animals, I’m going to do them in.

The same thing is true with roaming dogs. I am very sorry that my irrational distaste for shooting a poultry-chasing dog resulted in the loss of one of my guinea hens. If I had shot the dog on the first visit (as was my legal right) instead of returning it to the owner, the second fatal visit would not have occurred. I (hope) I won’t make that mistake again.

I use the rifle most often to protect my orchard, small berry planting, and vineyard. These items are deer magnets and if I left them unprotected, I would in short order lose thousands of dollars worth of plantings and considerable amounts of labor.

I first tried to keep the deer out using a slant fence that screws up the depth perception of deer. The Maximum Leader and his family helped my father and I put the slant fence together, a very laborious and expensive proposition. I then electrified the fence. This worked for a little over a year. At that point, some deer found the weak point in the fence, the unslanted truck gate. I had some serious damage. As a commercial grower, I called the game warden and he came out and gave me a kill permit to protect my crops. The rifle, therefore, is a useful tool.

That being sad, I don’t want yahoos running around with loaded weapons even if they are sons of the soil. I am very careful with every shot I take, I make sure that even if I miss (not a problem with a scope but it was a problem when I was using the open-sighted unzeroed weapons I borrowed from the Maximum Leader and the Foreign Minister) the round will not travel and accidentally kill a neighbor. There are plenty of people who are not that careful. As my father often says, you can’t legislate against stupidity. So if the government required me to take a gun safety course as a prerequisite to owning a rifle, I would not object. In fact, in Virginia you are required to take a gun safety course before you get a hunting license (but if you are only hunting on your land you do not need a license).

I have killed six deer over the last few months. I don’t necessarily enjoy the killing part but I have come to take a certain pride in the fact that my kills have been instant and the deer didn’t suffer. I guess there is a certain enjoyment in the technical aspect of the achievement, shot placement, etc. I also enjoyed serving venison at a big family dinner, just as with fish, it always tastes better when you caught it yourself. Finally, it is nice to donate meat to food pantries.

So, to some it all up:

Yes, my friends, I am using a firearm on a regular basis.

BUT

I still believe in rational gun control if it means that lives will be saved.

– Minister of Agriculture

Shocked and Appalled!

The Minister of Agriculture has followed the Maximum Leadervvs link to the Boston.com article about Sushi.

Allow me to say that as a liberal, I am shocked, just shocked, that there are men who objectify women in this way.

But at least the models are partially clad. Itvvs not as if itvvs a bunch of guys at a bachelor party in Williamsburg eating Sushi off of an entirely naked woman named Taya. That, my friends, would be truly disturbing.

– Minister of Agriculture

For the Monty Python geek in all loyal minions…

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader thanks Eugene Volokh for answering the true riddle of the Grail: What is the airspeed velocity of an unladed swallow? Answer: About 24 miles per hour.

Carry on.

Enzymes, Rove, and Reason.

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was over reading Classical Values, and is normal on Friday, there are some Quizilla tests there. Your Maximum Leader took one and discovered that if he was a molocule he would be an enzyme. Here is the skinny:

Enzyme
You are an enzyme. You are powerful, dark,
variable, and can change many things at your
whim…even when they’re not supposed to be
changed. Bad you. You can be dangerous or
wonderful; it’s your choice.

Which Biological Molecule Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

In another test, your Maximum Leader discovered that if he were in the Bush Admin he would be Karl Rove.

You're a friggin' genius!
You’re Karl Rove! You’re the de facto leader
of this great nation, also serving as godfather
of the family Bush.

Which member of the Bush Administration are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

On the discussion with the Poet Laureate, your Maximum Leader will have to give some careful consideration to his upcoming post. It might take some time to compose. (Just warning you all not to expect a treatis today.)

Update: Your Maximum Leader sees the Minister of Agriculture has weighed in on gay marriage too. Will review and respond accordingly.

Carry on.

The Minister of Agriculture on Gay Marriage, Smugness, and Fatherhood

The Maximum Leadervvs Minister of Agriculture would like to (briefly) re-enter the fray over gay marriage.

<< Pre-missive note: The last time I posted on this topic the Maximum Leader called my essay vv shrill.vvp Conservative v. Liberal name calling, anyone? At any rate, his mockery led to a rebuke from Mrs. Maximum Leader and an apology of sorts from our megalomaniacal standard-bearer who made amends by appointing an Assistant Minister of Agriculture. This missive, unlike the last, does not rely on reasoned argument and actually is rather shrill. If the Maximum Leader feels I have crossed the line, I beg him to forgive my rhetorical excess and to delete this post. I would prefer, however, to repeat the earlier cycle of nastiness/apology so that I might acquire an Undersecretary of Agriculture. I believe Mademoiselles Theron, Diaz, or Milano could handle the portfoliovѬ >>

GAY MARRIAGE: SMUGNESS AND FATHERHOOD

I am feeling rather smug because I know that vv right will out.vvp Opposition to equal rights for gays is a generational issue. As old bigots die, justice will prevail. (That last sentence brought to you courtesy of the Big Hominid and the MLvvs discussion of political name-calling. How ya like dem apples, ya liberal-bashing conservatives?)

Seriously, the expansion of equality is a recurring theme of American history. Thomas Jefferson, able to sit down and contemplate justice and freedom while watching his slaves out of Monticellovvs windows, may have only meant white male property owners over the age of 25 when he wrote vv all men are created equal,vvp but a free peoplevvs sense of social justice has been continually expanding the definition of vv all men.vvp

The Maximum Leader and his ilk may egofetishworship at the altar of Judeo-Christian tradition. One suspects that, back in 1860, they would have been vociferous supporters of the Reverend Wilson and vv tradition.vvp Wilsonvvs sermon, vv Mutual Relation of Masters and Slaves as Taught in the Biblevvp which reflected the vast majority of religious opinion in the South, can be found at:

http://docsouth.unc.edu/wilson/menu.html

(And yes, you English majors out there, I am fully aware that there is no such verb as vv egofetishworship.vvp But as a German-American, I feel a certain license to combine words like my erstwhile countrymen. This glorious tradition has brought us the wonderful noun vv schadenfreude.vvp)

So while the bigots reject reason and justice and cling to vv tradition,vvp I can take comfort from the fact that Americavvs traditional, if slow, pursuit of justice will eventually win. Just look at the poll numbers broken down by age groups. The Maximum Leader and I share a reverence for a certain P.M. who once said vv America can be depended upon to do the right thing vv after exhausting all the other options.vvp

However vv

It is hard to be complacent and wait for the inevitable victory. I am reminded of the better, but often forgotten, second half of Goldwatervvs maxim: vv Moderation in pursuit of Justice is no virtue.vvp

As a father, this takes on a new immediacy. I have a wonderful daughter and I want her to have all the opportunities in the world and I want her to be happy. Even if she is gay. I hope and pray that she is not vv I would not want my daughter to grow up with an orientation that leads to rejection and persecution at the hands of the bigoted (current and temporary) majority. But, facing reality, there is a 3-5% chance that she is gay. If I truly love my daughter, and I emphatically do, I do not want her to be a second class citizen in her own society.

A person who is peripherally involved in this debate has claimed that fatherhood has made him MORE opposed to granting equal rights to homosexuals. I would like to hear him weigh in on this issue. At the risk of sounding like a Rawlsian*, if his child is too young to have begun demonstrating orientation, wouldnvvt a father want to hedge his bets out of love for that child?

* The Maximum Leader and I read Rawls together in college and both concluded that his philosophy is untenable. However, it strikes me that the rhetorical tool of the original position is useful here.

While it is easy to advocate discrimination in the abstract, it is generally harder to advocate discrimination against someone you know. Unless you are the Speaker of the House and your sister is gay.

Even if the Maximum Leader rejects arguments of reason and justice, perhaps contemplating the villainettes will pry his lips from the teats of tradition.

I stand ready for the firing squad.

Minister of Agriculture

Welcome a new blogging minion!

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is pleased to see that his trusted Foreign Minister has decided to post in this space from Germany. The Foreign Minister is a longtime friend (and minion) of the Maximum Leader. The FM is living the high life on the banks of the Main River in Germany, and will (I hope) give us his thoughts and views of the situation in Europe; as well as his thoughts and opinions on events, happenings, and life in general. Like the Minister of Agriculture, the Foreign Minister and the Maximum Leader go way back to our (growing ever distant) halcyon college days. (In case you cared, your Maximum Leader has known the Air Marshal since Middle/High school; and the Poet Laureate since 3rd grade.)

Welcome my Foreign Minister. May your opinions be pointed, your powder dry, and your beer European.

Carry on.

Foreign Minister moves into new office on Banks of Main River

Well, it seems that as soon as the FM moves away from the good ol’ UK, they let all the loonies out to protest in the streets.

It is certainly refreshing that our Muslim friends in Iraq now have this right as well. Hell, I will even go so far as to say, that as fk’d up as the press is reporting Iraq to be, it is probably (as we speak) the most liberal country in the Middle East now. All that was formally “verboten” (porn, alcohol, sodomy, protesting government etc) is now out in open and able to be experienced.

Of course your Islamic brothers may mash your head in for doing it but hey, welcome to democracy!

Anyway, I have now set up office on the banks of the Main River (pronounced vv minevvp for you philistines out there) and am pleasantly settling in to the Germanic way of life.

One interesting note, contrary to stereotyping of the German people, they actually love to party. They will use any excuse imaginable to throw up a tent and start drinking and eating. Good fun.

Also, now I have figured out why records have a vv Bvvp side. The Germans love that stuff. Take any hit record flip it over and play it for the Germans, theyvvll love it and will probably know all the words.

Its no wonder that folks like David Hasselhoff are vv big in Germanyvvp.

A big thank you to the ML for letting me post on this site. Hopefully I will be able to chime in with news from the front from time to time.

General news and updates.

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader decided to post one or two more things today and then go up to his comfortable bed in the ole Villainchloss and give Mrs. Villain some good luvin’.

First. Has your Maximum Leader ever said on the record that Winds of Change is possibly the best all around blog in the blogosphere? It is. Great mix of opinions and essays and news for everyone. Your Maximum Leader read this article by Armed Liberal, and thought it was topical to the ongoing discussions here. Just like the Minster of Agriculture’s comments about burial in veterans cemeteries, these comments are powerfully emotional.

Next, your Maximum Leader and the Poet Laureate might go out and see a movie tomorrow. It is hard to decide what to see. It will likely be on of these three: Kill Bill, Matrix Revolutions, or Master and Commander. Your Maximum Leader is leaning towards Master and Commander - as it is probably the best of the three. Perhaps we shall also catch a bite to eat too… Fun fun!

Beautiful, just beautiful. Now lets see if he is convicted and gets jail time. Michael Jackson strikes me as one who would have to be in solitary a lot.

Has the Poet Laureate read this? Although not a strict enough in this department, your Maximum Leader is a big believer in sensible diet and regular excercise.

Check out the last “talking Derb Doll” quotation. It sounds like something your Maximum Leader would say in the most purple prose he could summon up.

And lastly, your Maximum Leader has invited another loyal minion to guest blog in this space. So if you see an unfamiliar tag line, it is likely him.

Carry on.

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