I Be Reading Plenty Good

The apparent hallmark of the proud and the stupid with respect to the 2nd Amendment is the flashing of the plaque displayed here (together with the typically associated hashtags).

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 11.02.04 AMOf course, Washington never said that.  What he did say was:

Among the many interesting objects, which will engage your attention, that of providing for the common defence will merit particular regard. To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.

A free people ought not only to be armed but disciplined; to which end a Uniform and well digested plan is requisite: And their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories, as tend to render them independent on others, for essential, particularly for military supplies.

The proper establishment of the Troops which may be deemed indispensible, will be entitled to mature consideration. In the arrangements which may be made respecting it, it will be of importance to conciliate the comfortable support of the Officers and Soldiers with a due regard to œconomy.

There was reason to hope, that the pacific measures adopted with regard to certain hostile tribes of Indians would have relieved the inhabitants of our Southern and Western frontiers from their depredations. But you will percieve, from the information contained in the papers, which I shall direct to be laid before you (comprehending a communication from the Commonwealth of Virginia) that we ought to be prepared to afford protection to those parts of the Union; and, if necessary, to punish aggressors.

As a nouveau aristocrat, Washington despised the useless rabble, and useless was largely what the rabble was, which is in no small way the reason why Washington insisted on a regular army (consistent with the provisions of Article I Section 8 of the Constitution).

Perhaps the 2nd Amendment whiner who argued “There you go liberals. In case you forgot how to read. ‪#‎reformthesenutz ‪#‎merica” with respect to such plaques should have a look at the Common Core provisions regarding close reading and critical thinking…

From George Washington to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, 8 January 1790 – http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-04-02-0361

The State Militant; militia in the 21st century http://opinion.alaskapolicy.net/pardonme/?p=109

Pookas on Patrol

No Virginia, there is no such thing as a “citizen soldier” OR Santa Claus. Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 11.37.14 AM

In this country it you want to take part in any hostilities you must be a member of a unit of the Guard, the Reserves, or the regular services.  That’s the way it is now, and truth be told that is the way it has been since the get go. Unfortunately, the delusional Rockwellian right, always keen to rewrite history, has embarked on a propaganda campaign that now argues that the U. S. is alive and well because of these fictitious citizen soldiers, persons who engage in some voluntary and undefined association to violently repel threats to the policy; some anarchic defense force.

I am aware of two recent instances where the term has been used and in each it was specifically defined as something OTHER than as the term has now been bandied about by 2nd Amendment Crusaders.   One refers to those who were drafted, in that their primary societal role was not soldier.  The other is in reference to those whose duty does not require them to be in uniform all the time, as in the case of the Reserves and the Guard.

The concept of people just showing up to shoot at stuff and then wandering away has never existed in the US or in the British commonwealth. One reason for that, of course, is that people lived close to starvation, and you just could not leave what you were doing without being able to cover what would not get done, so people joined for a specific period, and expected to get fed, clothed, armed (shot and ball), AND paid. Whether you took the King’s shilling or enlisted with the Continental Army, once “in”, you were subject to military discipline and your term of enlistment. Of course, another important aspect of enlistment or conscription is the need for military discipline. In a situation where you were shot for not obeying orders, one had to be very clear whether one was in the service, and if so, under whose command one served.

Yes, the “Revolution” was fought by regulars, irregulars as well as some partisans,  but the concept that these participants did not surrender their civil liberties to military authority is nonsensical.

Protect This…

Recently I have been hearing another radical refrain, that being that the U. S. Constitution (as opposed to a scramble of Marines) protect my rights. Apparently small minds are working overtime…

Frankly, the Constitution has never protected anyone’s “rights”. The Constitution embodies a rather terrible bargain that was supposed to give voice to the conscience of a new people. As it was flawed, so were the consciences of its people. Waxing more and more selfish, as possessive narcissists are want to do, they pushed harder and harder until the fabric of consensus was simply too brittle to serve, to calcified to persevere.

The U. S. Constitution is essentially a side of mutton (that being the nature of parchment); it lays around like a dead sheep and doesn’t do much at all. Tough to do much when you are housed in a bullet proof glass case, after all.

Courts have very little enforcement power, and rely almost entirely on the executive branch, while legislatures, well, they legislate….. they have no muscle (and perhaps collectively show little to recommend them much of the time. The Supreme Court simply ignores the Constitution when it serves their purpose, as do the Congress and the Administration. So who or what does protect our rights?

Setting aside for another time the substantial question of whether we have any “rights”, the real answer to that question is to be found above, where we started.  It is found in the willingness of the polity NOT to push things to the braking point.

I teach my students that the crux of the U. S. Constitution is, “Give a little to get a little” (as much an understatement I suppose, as Hillel’s description of Torah) and while that brings smiles to their faces, I am very serious.  Literalists, in a sense, can’t be taken serious because there has never been a word written which was read the same way twice.  The essence of man is fractiousness, and the genius, if any, of western jurisprudence is the vagary of the “law” not its specificity. As with matter, it is the space between that is remarkable, and forbearance is as much the space between as mystical volume between nucleus and electron…

When we abuse the social fabric (the delicate consensus that allows us to live together in some remote semblance of peace) the disturbance ripples through our reality. Ignorance begets ignorance, hate begets hate, violence begets violence. Social behavior is not managed by a sharp, “NO!”, hurled by a two year old. It is managed by “moral suasion” (and Winthrop advises that moral suasion may be as ineffectual as legislation when it comes to wives).

What secures our rights is no more, nor any less, than Hillel’s prescription: “What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbor; this is the whole law. All the rest is a commentary, go and study it.”


Winthrop, John, and James Kendall Hosmer. Winthrop’s Journal : “History of New England”, 1630-1649. Volume 1. New York : Scribner, 1908. Accessed June 16, 2016. https://archive.org/stream/winthropsjournal00wint#page/278/mode/2up .


Bloody Hell

Unfortunately, much of what could be discussed with respect to events such as just took place in Orlando is obscured by the use of unstated definitions and confused labels. This event, despite the thousands and thousands of times the media have repeated the line,  is NOT the largest mass killing of humans in the history of the country – not even close.

What is true, and frightening (let’s avoid the “t” word altogether, as this was not about terrorism), is the fact that one person can easily obtain the armament necessary to kill so many people so quickly. Let’s go on to note (as some have already over the past decade) that agnostics don’t seem to be interested in mass homicide.

Let’s face it. Murdering people who we don’t like is an American “sport”.  It receives tremendous press coverage, results in a huge transfer of value, not only is a focus of daily conversation, but also of secondary and tertiary entertainment progScreen Shot 2016-06-12 at 9.54.28 AMramming. Homicide is what Americans do, and arguably perhaps what we do best; what makes us “exceptional”.

Doubt me? Look no further than the political pinnacle presented via the accepted wisdom: two hawks, competing to be the war lords of the deadliest gang in the ‘hood.  Where ever we have gone over the last two centuries we have sown corpses (and reaped tremendous profits, don’t forget).  Death R Us, don’t you know.  We are not talking here of Oppenheimer’s confusion over Krishna’s lesson to Arjuna, unless we are celebrating a recognition that we are corruption incarnate. This is just juicing.

Is “Multipurpose” Just Another Word for Poorly Done?

I was a bit distressed, considering the state our trails are in, to read about the proposed ordinance to make electric bikes legal on our trails.  Let us reflect for just a moment…

  • Is there a general speed limit on our trails?
  • Are there specific speed limits that address trail circumstances and conditions (turn radius and the number of turns, width of trail, slope, lateral visibility, other traffic, etc.)?
  • Is there any enforcement on our trails?

I think by and large the answer to these questions is a resounding, “NO!”, and yet suddenly, without regard to the multitude of issues we do face on our multpurpose trails (yes, horses are allowed on our trails…) here we have an ordinance about an electric bike.

Are we first going to do something about the presumably illegal Segues and powered wheelchairs on our trails? How about the loose dogs fouling our greenbelts? Or should we think about the thousands of kids illegal biking on the trails without helmets?

The simple fact of the matter is that we have a number of criteria for the funding of “trails”, yet we seem incapable of effectively managing use of those trails once they are built.

A two hundred pound individual moving at 25 mph down an MOA bike path on a bicycle colliding with an unmanaged two year old suddenly dashing across the trail is a recipe for disaster – yet we seem unconcerned. Missoula and other locations try to address some of these issues by creating BERMED bike lanes that allow high speed bicycles to use city streets without fear of automobiles, while other cities provide what amount to bicycle only highways (keeping the three parents with the 3 double wide strollers stopping to chat from shutting down the trail). We put some paint on the road and look the other way…

Cologne Bike Highways

And wait!  There’s more!  Despite Danny Sullivan’s protestations (and the Mayor’s decision to keep Mr. Rodda in place), we have a huge burden of deferred maintenance, an ongoing crisis in grossly inadequate construction practice in laying trail, and unmet continuity issues. Do we continue to argue that maintenance of trails only be managed through State Cap Budget items? Why use local bonding to deploy apparently inappropriate or inadequate infrastructure (wooden bridges, anyone)? Is it time to put a stop to “partners” running our parks?  How do we balance ENFORCEMENT of trail usage mandates as against planning, design, construction, and maintenance of those resources?

I think it only fair to say that Mr. Traini has the cart before the horse.