Calling All Gun Nuts And/Or Rocket Scientists

Yes, this includes you, Foreign Minister, Polymath, and Air Marshal.

Over at Volokh there has been a sub-discussion about the stopping power of bullets. Some have argued that bullets cannot knock someone down. They say that the equal-and-opposite reaction (recoil) would knock the shooter down if the bullet had that much kick.

SayUncle says:

“Sorry, Eugene, but despite the movies, a hit from a bullet doesn’t knock you down (generally). you may fall or lay down but no knock down. If a round fired from a gun could knock someone down, the expulsion from the barrel would also knock the person doing the shooting down”

This just seems wrong to me.

First of all, I’ve seen my 307 round knock a deer clean over. I guess you could argue that the deer fell over when the round ripped through its heart and lungs. But my brain image has the deer falling over at the same instant the round arrives.

Secondly, I recall that the 45 was introduced during the Philippine Insurrection to counter the danger of the charging Filipinos. Wrapped in newspaper and stoned to the gills, the rebels would charge American lines with spears. The Americans would shoot, delivering fatal wounds, but the dying Filipinos’ forward momentum would carry them into American trenches where they would flail about with edged weapons as they died. My understanding is that the 45 became widespread because it knocked them on their asses and negated their forward momentum.

Thirdly, it seems to me that the recoil is distributed over a wider area of the body then the bullet.

Fourthly, I don’t think my shoulder absorbs all of that “equal and opposite reaction.” If the recoil translates the kinetic energy of the bullet to approximately twelve square inches of my shoulder and the round delivers all of its impact on .07 square inches of the target (.307 diamater = pi*.1535 squared) then my shoulder is feeling about 1/161th of the flesh at the point of round impact. The recoil is negligible, and even magnified by a multiplier of 161, it seems to me that it ought to hurt more. Doesn’t a fair amount of the energy released by the firing action exit sideways, expelling the spent casing as it goes?

But what do I know? I’ve come to the gun thing late and, being a humble servant of the soil, basic physics calculations are well beyond my tiny agrarian brain. So if all of you gun nuts and rocket scientists could enlighten me about whether bullets actually can knock people down, I’d appreciate it.

Bonnie’s Love Match


Bonnie appears to be caught. Her suitor this year was O-Man, one of the greatest Holstein bulls in American history.

He used to be the highest net merit bull, but he has been around long enough that recent generic progress has left him behind.

Here’s hoping for a heifer!

Polymath’s Dream Girl

Venus RameyI’m sure that Mrs. Polymath is glad that Venus Ramey is a bit long in the tooth for her husband. The former Miss America is quite the pistol-packin’ mama.

Via the Jawa Report and CNN:

WAYNESBURG, Kentucky (AP) — Miss America 1944 has a talent that probably has never appeared on a beauty pageant stage: She fired a handgun to shoot out a vehicle’s tires and stop an intruder.

Venus Ramey, 82, confronted a man on her farm in south-central Kentucky last week after she saw her dog run into a storage building where thieves had previously made off with old farm equipment.

Ramey said the man told her he would leave. “I said, ‘Oh, no you won’t,’ and I shot their tires so they couldn’t leave,” Ramey said.

She had to balance on her walker as she pulled out a snub-nosed .38-caliber handgun.

“I didn’t even think twice. I just went and did it,” she said. “If they’d even dared come close to me, they’d be 6 feet under by now.”

Ramey then flagged down a passing motorist, who called 911.

Curtis Parrish of Ohio was charged with misdemeanor trespassing, Deputy Dan Gilliam said. The man’s hometown wasn’t immediately available. Three other people were questioned but were not arrested.

After winning the pageant with her singing, dancing and comedic talents, Ramey sold war bonds and her picture was adorned on a B-17 bomber that flew missions over Germany in World War II, according to the Miss America Web site.

Ramey lived in Cincinnati for several years and was instrumental in helping rejuvenate Over-the-Rhine historic buildings. She returned to Kentucky in 1990 to live on her farm.

“I’m trying to live a quiet, peaceful life and stay out of trouble, and all it is, is one thing after another,” she said.

The First Amendment

Americans seem to be confused about the First Amendment.

One part of the First Amendment prohibits the government from infringing on speech.

Don Imus has not been fired by the government. He was fired by a corporate entity that made the decision that Imus’ description of the Rutgers basketball team had made him a commercial liability.

The Dixie Chicks claimed that their First Amendment rights were violated when people stopped buying their records.

You have the right to say (almost) whatever you want in America. The government won’t stop you. But customers have the right to stop patronizing you if you say things they don’t like. The fact that people take their business elsewhere does not a First Amendment violation make.

Cho’s Family

I’ve heard several people express sympathy for what the Virginia Tech murderer’s family is going through.

Call me a heartless bastard, but your humble Smallholder is all out of pity.

They knew that their son was mentally disturbed. Apologists defend their failure to get their son help by saying that it is culturally difficult for Asian parents to seek psychological help for their children because it is seen as shameful.

Not to be crude, but I call bullshit. This doesn’t make me feel sympathetic. Cho’s family, out of pride, chose not to get the son their help he so manifestly deserved. Their inaction allowed their son to remain at large, buy guns, and destroy 32 families, and seriously harm many others. Because they didn’t want to feel shame?

They ought to be ashamed.

Carhart v. Gonzales: Implications for the Legality of Abortion

If we want to analyze the impact of Carhart on the future availability of abortion, we have to start with some historical context. Bear with me.

Roe v. Wade was a 1973 decision that created/discovered/acknowledged for the first time that a woman had a constitutional right to an abortion.

That right is not an enumerated right – it is not explicitly listed in the Constitution. The definition of an abortion as a right rests on a chain of “penumbras” or shadows of enumerated rights.

The place to start when rooting out the Constitutional protection of abortion is the Fourth Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

And the Ninth Amendment:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

In the 1965 case Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court ruled that the Fourth and Ninth Amendments created a fringe, or penumbra, which included the right to privacy. Griswold struck down a Connecticut birth control law. The federally established rights (and their penumbra of privacy) were applied using the Fourteenth Amendment.

Originally, the Constitution limited only the Federal government. However, Republicans’ frustrations with the South’s post-Civil War resistance to Black civil rights led to the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment, which said that states may not infringe on federal rights without due process of law. The Cardozo Doctrine, named after a Reconstruction era justice, applied the individual protections of the Bill of Rights to the states (except, some argue, the 2nd Amendment).

Thus, the ruling in Griswold limited states’ invasions of privacy.

In 1973, the court found that the right of privacy established a right to control one’s own reproduction and that state limitations on abortion violated that right. This emanation of the penumbra was eventually extended further in the 2003 Lawrence case that said that control of your own reproduction created a penumbra over private, consensual sexual activity.

Of course, rights are not absolute. You can’t yell fire in a crowded theatre. You can’t publish knowingly false and malicious information (libel).

The Fourth Amendment’s protection against warrantless searches is set aside in pressing circumstances – such as the plain view exception and the emergency/ongoing crime exception. If, for example, you have a meth lab in your garage and the door is up when a patrol car rolls down the road, the fact that the meth lab is in plain sight means that the policeman can stop and arrest you. If the police believe that you have a kidnapped child in your basement, they can burst in to stop the ongoing crime and no court will throw out the evidence they discover.

The right to privacy is limited as well, particularly if you are a public figure.

Roe v. Wade specifically acknowledged that there were limitations on privacy as it applied to the right of abortion and set a standard of viability, which is problematic because medical technology developed since 1973 has gradually pushed theoretical viability earlier and earlier. The issue of personhood cannot be established by medical technology, and this is the crux of the abortion debate. If you believe that a fetus is fully human (ensouled?) at the moment of conception, any abortion is, by definition, murder. The Supreme Court’s arbitrary (even capricious) declaration that personhood begins at viability is unsatisfying to almost everyone.

Deciding how to balance individual rights and societal interest under the constitution is a difficult process. Based on the importance of the right and the strength of societal interest, the Supreme Court uses four levels of review:

1) Rational basis: Can a rational person see that a law is designed to balance a public interest?

2) Intermediate: Between rational and strict

3) Strict: Has three standards that must be met for the right restriction to be constitutional:
a) Compelling state interest (is the consequence of not limiting the right so horrible that a primary purpose of government cannot be achieved)
b) Narrowly tailored (does the law only address the compelling interest or would the restriction bleed into other areas?)
c) Least restrictive (Is there another way to achieve the compelling state interest that would be less restrictive of the limited right?

4) Super-Strict (No, I’m not making this up, even if it does sound like “super-secret double probation”): I’m only aware of it being applied to prior restraint of speech or the press.

When a right is recognized as fundamental – as abortion was in Roe – any state attempts to limit that right is evaluated by the courts using “strict scrutiny.”

In several following court cases that fleshed out the balance between the woman’s right to privacy and the state’s compelling interest to protect a potential child, Sandra Day O’ Conner emerged as the swing vote on interpretations of the right/public interest interface. Her decisions were based on an interweaving of “narrowly tailored” and “least restrictive.” – the “O’Connor Standard” assessed whether a limitation on abortion constituted an “undue burden” on the mother. State legislatures were frustrated by the O’Connor Standard because the word “undue,” when applied to legislation, is an ambiguous benchmark that does not provide clear guidance to state legislatures as to what is permissible. In many ways it was as unhelpful as Potter Stewart’s “I know it when I see it” standard for pornography (Jacobellis v. Ohio).

It is possible to attribute George Bush’s election to the lopsided support of Christian Evangelicals – they certainly take credit for his ascension. And they expect payback. Most Christian Evangelicals believe that life begins at conception, “undue burden” be damned. They don’t want the O’Connor Standard watered down – they want to overturn the whole basis of strict scrutiny and remove the underlying right that creates that scrutiny. They argue that Roe is wrongly decided for the same reason that Dred Scott was wrongfully decided – the court denied the essential humanity of the people affected by its decision.

Christian Evangelicals believed that they had a deal with the White House. Although Bush publicly announced that he would not have a litmus test for judicial nominations, Christian leaders were assured behind closed doors that Bush would appoint justices who respected the culture of life. Bush has had the opportunity to appoint two justices: Alito and Roberts.

When Bush nominated Alito and Roberts, the pro-choice leadership went bat-frickin’ crazy. The appointments were a direct assault on a woman’s right to control her own body. I thought the rhetoric was quite overblown. Both men were justices with a history of accepting stare decisis and Roberts in particular, was a subscriber to the tenant of judicial humility – the idea that courts should avoid sweeping re-interpretations of the law because the pragmatic affect would be to undermine state legislature’s calculations about what was Constitutional. Legal continuity and confidence in that continuity is important on legal, social, and economic levels (recall that O’Connor’s abortion standard, as well as much of her willy-nilly outcome-based jurisprudence was problematic for this reason).

Importantly, Alito had ruled previously on Casey v. Planned Parenthood at the Appellate level. Casey dealt with a Pennsylvania law that required married woman, prior to having an abortion, sign a document stating that they had either informed their husbands or that they had not informed their husbands because they feared abuse.

The majority of the justices at both the appellate and Supreme Court levels struck down the Pennsylvania restriction as being an “undue burden.” When the case was at the appellate level, Alito voted to uphold the Pennsylvania law’s husband notification. In his dissent to the majority, Alito applied the O’Connor standard. He argued that the restriction passed strict scrutiny: protection of the right of a husband to know about the reproductive choices being made within his marriage was a compelling state interest, the stature was narrowly tailored and would not affect unmarried women or anyone else, and was least restrictive because it was not enforced by any state action and had an exception for women who feared spousal abuse.

When Alito was nominated, pro-choice groups went nuts. Alito had voted to restrict abortion! Many pro-choice groups are as absolutist as the NRA is with their support of gun laws. Banning private ownership of shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles and flamethrowers is a slippery slope towards banning my home-defense shotgun! Admitting that a husband has a right to know if his wife is aborting his children will lead to the banning of all abortion!

Actually, Alito, in his dissent, explicitly acknowledged that a woman had a right to an abortion. He also recognized that no rights were absolute. Pro-choice folks who actually read the Casey decision were not that alarmed – but they may have pretended to be in order to get the rank and file stirred up. Pro-life folks who actually read the Casey decision should have been upset – but were (probably) privately assured by the White House that Alito was pro-life and would feel freer to strike down Roe when he was promoted to the top level.

Roberts’ history of judicial humility and respect for precedent should also have alarmed the religious right. Again, we don’t know what was said in closed-door meetings that the White House held with Evangelical leaders, but one can assume that the administration held out the promise that Roberts would be less “humble” when he was appointed.

Evangelicals were rightfully alarmed when Roberts’ first major address after becoming Chief Justice stressed the virtue of judicial restraint/humility. Still, hope springs eternal.

Pro-life hopes rest not on gradual restrictions (though they’ll take what they can get), but on a radical departure from precedent and a judicial shift comparable to Brown v. Board – a direct repudiation of previous precedent.

As an interesting aside, it is highly doubtful that non-Evangelical Republicans actually want Roe overturned. Anger over the injustice of Roe is the glue that binds the religious right to their party. If Roe were to be overturned, pro-choicers would be energized. Many middle of the road people would balk at absolute prohibitions (“What if my daughter gets raped?”). But Evangelicals long for the reversal of Roe.

They pinned their hopes on the idea that Alito and Roberts would accept that fetuses were human and that their right to not be murdered trumped a woman’s penumbra/emanation/shadow of privacy. Carhart would be the test case.

The Republican majority in Congress had passed a federal ban on partial-birth abortions. Partial-birth abortions are exceedingly rare. But the image of partial-birth abortions wields an outsized influence on the public imagination. Most Americans, regardless of their stance on the ensoulment of a fertilized egg, get sick to their stomach when contemplating the dismemberment of a seven-month fetus. The Republican majority could pass this bill to establish their pro-life bona fides prior to Congressional elections without restricting access to abortion in any meaningful way – maintaining the status quo and not risking the political consequences of a direct challenge to the core abortion right.

Interestingly, in order to pass the ban, Republicans had to accept a very broad definition of interstate commerce – allowing different states to set different partial-birth standards would create interstate commerce as five women per year would cross state lines into a jurisdiction allowing them to have this exceedingly rare procedure. This isn’t new – the Republican administration made the same argument about privately grown medicinal marijuana in Gonzales v. Raich. Liberals are being hoisted on their own elastic-clause petard.

Carhart v. Gonzales challenged the restriction of partial-birth abortion. This case offered the opportunity to see if Alito and Roberts would abandon their appellate-level acceptance of the O’Connor standard and replace it with an acknowledgement of the personhood of the fetus.

They didn’t do that. They joined the majority and upheld the ban on partial-birth abortion – but they did so not based on the personhood of fetuses but by using the O’Connor standard – they ruled that the ban did not place an undue burden on a woman. If you want an abortion, you can have it earlier.

For slippery-slope pro-choice absolutists, this was alarming. Pro-choice folks are raising all kinds of hell. One suspects that some of them have read the ruling and are privately happy that Alito and Roberts aren’t likely to become the swing votes in a Brown v. Board type of decision. But they do have to rile up the troops. “Armageddon!” gets people more riled up than “Defeat for absolutism but victory in the big picture!”

One can’t get too annoyed at the partisans in this debate. We do, after all, live in a Jacksonian democracy in which the ignorant and easily riled mob controls the outcomes of elections.

I am annoyed at the media. Journalists who report shouldn’t just parrot the press releases of the combatants. Journalists should at least read the decision. And it is clear – at least to this humble poorly educated agrarian – that Carhart solidifies the body of jurisprudence that accepts abortion as a fundamental right.

I did speak to one lawyer (and thus someone more familiar with how court cases work than I) who made the argument that additional precedents do not make it harder to overturn the original precedent. This line of argument says that Alito and Roberts may yet be willing to acknowledge the rights of the fetus in a future case and accepted this narrow restriction on the grounds of undue burden in order to assure a majority.

While acknowledging the greater expertise of this lawyer, I’m not convinced.

First of all, either man could have signed on with the majority and then issued a concurring opinion which stated that they accepted the ban because there was no fundamental right to an abortion at all.

Secondly, it strikes me as being intellectually dishonest. We are assuming that since neither Alito nor Roberts wrote a separate concurrence, their internal monologues went something like this: “There is no fundamental right to an abortion. Now that I’m on the Supreme Court, I am freed from appellate constraints and can save the lives of these murdered children. But not yet. I’ll sign my name to a document that says that abortion is a fundamental right than can only be limited under the strict scrutiny standard and then bide my time until I can strike down Roe in its entirety”

I have seen no suggestion that either Roberts or Alito is intellectually dishonest. Whether you agree with them or not, they have the reputation for being thoughtful, honest thinkers. Even if they were dishonest, if they do believe that a fetus has personhood, the accusation of dishonesty also makes them complicit (in their minds at least) in all the abortion-murders that take place between Carhart and some future case that can be used to strike down Roe in toto. I just don’t buy it.

Of course, take my analysis with a grain of salt. You wouldn’t trust a Constitutional scholar’s composting recommendations, so why should you accept the constitutional analysis of an organic farmer?

In the name of God, go!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was going to keep it light today and post that it is the anniversary of Oliver Cromwell dissolving the Rump Parliament.

Although your Maximum Leader is no Cromwell fan, the autocrat in him does like the idea of periodically going into a legislative body and announcing, “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately… Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!” Indeed, your Maximum Leader plans on saying this quite frequently during the Mike World Order… In a few more weeks he might be able to be persuaded to tell this to Speaker Pelosi…

Unfortunately, as interesting as Cromwell’s dissolving of the Rump Parliament might be; it doesn’t hold a candle to Robbo’s reminder that this is the anniversary of our 38th President being attacked by a fierce rodent.

Of course… We know fearsome rodents are a threat to event the hardest warriors.

Carry on.


Mrs. Smallholder just wrapped up tax season.

I’m off crutches.

It’s time to get farm work done!

We purchased our pigs yesterday. I got taken a bit by the seller; the price seemed to change when we had the pigs loaded AND the weight of the pigs was higher than estimated. Ah well.

It’s not like I farm to make money.

Farming is fun.


Spring is here! (Life is skittles and life is beer!)

Huzzah! (And Bitterness)

I’m told Heidi is doing better.

In class, she was a pleasant, hard working kid who got the highest score possible scoreon the AP test. She was hard-working and unfailingly polite. She was a quiet kid, but I recall her mischevious grin when she was up to mild mischief.

It boggles my mind that a kid who always did the right thing could end up in the middle of something like the Tech shooting.


The Maximum Leader’s last post was eerily similar to a post that wordpress ate this morning. I was going to use a flamethrower as my example of NRA absolutism.

I’m not much for slippery slope arguments because they deny the reality that polities can and do find middle ground positions.

My free speech, for example, isn’t absolute. I can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theatre, incite violence, use fighting words, or give unlimited amounts of cash to the candidate of my choice.

The real story here is that both Alito and Roberts signed on to the Casey “reasonableness” standard, explicitly recognizing the “right” of abortion.

They are both precedent monkeys, as anyone who actually look at their records during the nomination process can attest. I remember many of my colleagues being concerned that Bush’s appointees would overturn Roe. I was confident that they wouldn’t, and they didn’t.

Yesterday I expressed frustration at the laziness of reporters who did not read the opinion or did not understand the constitutional underpinnings of that decision. This morning I was disappointed by politicians. Democrats trotted out and condemned the banning of an incredibly rare procedure that no one really likes.

Then it hit me - the pro-choicers won a victory, but don’t want to talk about it - because they want to get people all stirred up about a Bushian assault on women’s control over their own bodies. The sky is falling! The sky is falling! (Send money!)

More on Gonzalez v Carhart

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader read over the Smallholder’s post below and has read over a number of news stories on the recent Carhart decision. He will be first to admit that he has not read the whole opinion (as he just hasn’t had time - he’ll get to it - promise).

Your Maximum Leader does think that the Pro-life movement can legitimately claim a small victory in this case. They have advanced their cause (however slightly) and moved the direction of the discussion in their direction. Now, your Maximum Leader will tenatively concur with the Smallholder’s assesment that the right to an abortion found in Roe and Casey was upheld. (Tenative until he finishes reading the opinion.) What we have in Carhart is the finding of a reasonable restriction on that right. (A right however emanating (sp?) from whatever ill-concieved penumbra.)

Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure how one could spin this as anything other than a victory. This battle is not one that will be won or decided in a single action. In an ongoing “battle” for moving a society and culture in a particular direction, this is just one small episode. The hardcore Pro-choice side of this argument is lamenting this small chink in their position. Sure the partial birth abortion is a savage, and rarely performed, procedure. But once you start accepting reasonable restrictions, there is no telling where you may end…

Is this beginning to sound familiar? Do we hear the sloshing of society approaching a slippery slope? Certainly we are for the Pro-choice forces. (Just as any gun control measure is a step towards the slippery slope of gun bans for the ardent supporters of the 2nd Amendment; or just as civil unions are a step towards polygamy to those opposed to gay marriage.) Once you find a particularly eggregious procedure to ban, the next procedure doesn’t have to be quite as eggregious as the first. At least that is what the Pro-choicers would tell you.

While your Maximum Leader wouldn’t characterize the new justices on the court as “precedent monkeys” (although the term has a certain ring); they do have to respect precedent. Additionally, they also have to work with the cases they get. From what your Maximum Leader knows (and he will learn more as we go along here) this didn’t seem like a case that would lead to a wholesale revisitation of Roe or Casey. Indeed, he doesn’t think that there is such a case out there. Cases that court will hear will involve what are reasonable limitations to abortion. Those limitations might become more and more sweeping, but the kernel at the heart of Roe is unlikely to be overturned outright.

Carry on.

Relief, Horror, and Questions

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure that he has a single cogent line of thought to put down in this forum. But he will write regardless. Read on at your own risk.

Your Maximum Leader has many connections to Virginia Tech. His saintly father graduated from Virginia Tech (back in the day when it was known as VPI (short for the full offical name of the school, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). Your Maximum Leader’s lovely wife, Mrs Villain, is a Virginia Tech graduate. She was, during her time at Tech, an RA in East Ambler Johnston Hall. Mrs Villain’s sister (and your Maximum Leader’s very dear Sister-in-law) is a Tech graduate as well. His Sister-in-law lived on the 4th floor of West Ambler Johnston hall - where the first killings took place. Of course, as was mentioned earlier in this space, your Maximum Leader’s dear friend (and co-blogger here) the Air Marshal has multiple degrees from Tech.

In addition to these connections there are many others. Many current students at Tech are the children of friends. One student at Tech is very dear to your Maximum Leader and his family. Stephanie - now a junior at Tech - was our long-time babysitter during her time in high school (and when we were lucky - during breaks from Tech). We confirmed late last night with her parents that she wasn’t on campus at all during the time of the shootings. She was in Roanoke, VA. That was joyous news.

There is relief in knowing that, for your Maximum Leader’s immedate circle at least, the killer did not harm anyone known to us. Like the Smallholder, your Maximum Leader asks that you continue to pray for Heidi Miller. She appears to be recovering from her physical wounds.

One must pray that she also heals the psychological wounds that will follow this horrific event.

Just when one might reasonably expect to start dealing with this tragedy, something new horrifies us. As you have no doubt read by now, the killer sent a rambling manifesto as well as video clips of his rants to NBC news. Now we see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears the deep hatred in this psychotic.

Mrs Villain and your Maximum Leader had a long discussion about the killer. Much of it centered on new information we are learning. We know now that the killer was remanded by a judge to a mental hospital for observation. We have learned that the killer was known to the Tech Campus Police as one who had had multiple complaints filed against him. We know how he was known by other students to be disturbed and out of the ordinary.

During our conversation, as is also happening in our national conversation, Mrs Villain wanted to know why the university didn’t do more.

If he has not mentioned it before, your Maximum Leader, during his undergraduate years, was deeply involved in his campus judicial system. An interesting tradition among many schools in the southern United States, is the preponderance of student-run judicial and/or honor systems. At his school, your Maximum Leader was the Chairman of a student run (and popularly elected) committee of students who’s responsibility it was to enforce a published judicial code. During his years as Chairman he became very involved in many aspects of the whole campus judical and law-enforcement process. One of the things he learned during those years was that unless someone does something wrong - and you have some agent willing to act as an accuser; it is hard to take pre-emptive action against someone you think may pose a threat. In many cases a university cannot act against someone because that person, while creepy, disturbed, or maladjusted hasn’t actually done anything that violates a rule. So far, in the case of the killer at Virginia Tech, it appears that he didn’t break a rule. (Although there are reports that one young woman who claimed she was stalked by the killer refused to press charges - thereby averting a possible disciplinary case.)

Your Maximum Leader is somewhat astonished that in the case of the killer at Virginia Tech, a local judge actually had remanded the boy to an institution for evaluation. He is sure that this aspect of the past will get much more coverage and attention over the next few days.

All in all your Maximum Leader isn’t sure what University officials could have done that wasn’t done. He says this knowing what he knows now… He’ll leave open the possibility of revision as more facts become known.

The one abiding question your Maximum Leader has, as do many in the blogosphere, is why no students attempted to subdue the killer. Your Maximum Leader has seen interviews and read accounts of some students who heard the killer stop to reload. He wonders why no one tried to rush him at that point. Of course, one never knows how one would react in such a situation. Your Maximum Leader cannot fault any student for their reaction to being in a shooting. Perhaps, as other commenters have noted, there is an unconscious (or even genetic) reponse in us. Fight or fly. Some may be predisposed towards one or the other. He doesn’t know.

There are many other questions, many of which will be answered in time. The questions that will probably not be answered are the ones that try to figure out what made the killer do what he did. The ghastly video and still images don’t shed any light on that, and it is doubtful that they ever will. If your Maximum Leader was NBC News president, he doesn’t think he’d have broadcast the images. Let someone else do it. There is no need to fall in line behind the narcisisstic desires of a deranged killer.

Your Maximum Leader thinks he is going to have to switch off the news coverage of these killings, except to check on the status of the survivors and to learn the names and faces of the dead. As he learns the names, he can add them to his prayers.

Carry on.

Gonzales v. Carhart

The news media is inaccurately portraying the ruling upholding the ban on partial birth abortions as being a victory for the pro-life movement. If you read the decision, (via Volokh), the ban was upheld because it did not impose an “undue burden.” The ruling leaves the Casey precedent intact - a precedent that accepts Roe and simply sets some boundaries on the “right” to abortion emanating from the penumbra of privacy. Both Alito and Roberts were with the 5-4 majority. Several “liberal” justices were in dissent because they believed that there was not an undue burden at all. Support for Roe is now a super-majority.

My colleagues here at Naked Villainy will recall that your humble Smallholder predicted this during the nomination process. Both men were precedent monkeys. Some pro-lifers hoped that once Bush’s picks were on the highest court, they would feel comfortable challenging precedent. Evidently not.

The question is whether the pro-life movement will be fooled by the shallow news reports and celebrate a victory or whether they will realize the extent of the Bush White House’s betrayal of core conservative principles.

Giovanni Poem


We are Virginia Tech
We are sad today and we will be sad for quite a while
We are not moving on
We are embracing our mourning

We are Virginia Tech
We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly
We are brave enough to bend to cry
and sad enough to know we must laugh again

We are Virginia Tech
We do not understand this tragedy
We know we did nothing to deserve it
But neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS
Neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by a rogue army
Neither does the baby elephant watching his community be devastated for ivory
Neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water
Neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night
In his crib in the home his father built with his own hands
Being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized

No one deserves a tragedy

We are Virginia Tech
The Hokie Nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hands
To those who offer their hearts and minds
We are strong and brave and innocent and unafraid
We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be
We are alive to the imagination and the possibility
We will continue to invent the future
Through our blood and tears
Through all this sadness

We are the Hokies
We will prevail
We will prevail
We will prevail
We are Virginia Tech

- Nikki Giovanni, 4/17/2007


Not much to say…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader hesitates to admit that he doesn’t have much to say right now. He is still shocked and saddened by the news that continues to come out of Blacksburg, VA. The shootings have put a damper on his ability to be creative. Or so it seems…

Excursus: One can debate just how creative your Maximum Leader is on a regular basis…

Additionally… The Wee Villain is home sick. He is throwing up, but shows no other symptoms of anything. It is just a flu going around… But honestly… Have you ever seen anything more pathetic than a 3 year old who is sick? It tugs at your heart strings.

Not only is the Wee Villain sick, but Mrs Villain has been called by the state to do her duty and serve on a jury. When all is done with that, perhaps your Maximum Leader will have a post about Mrs Villain’s experience with the criminal justice system.

Carry on.

    About Naked Villainy

    • maxldr


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Methinks thou art a general offence, and every man should beat thee.

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