Stray Thoughts: American Ronin, Part 2

It may interest you to know that it’s written into the Constitution that no American citizen can hold a hereditary title of nobility. You can be noble, or you can be American. Pick one.

This is a background plot point in A Net of Dawn and Bones. Yaldabaoth and Aariel may be demonic nobility, but Aidan is an American citizen through his mother and refuses to give that up. They can’t bind him to their court. They tried. The Constitution and the Declaration are a matter of faith. If you believe in them, if you abide by them, it doesn’t matter if you’re white, black, purple, or a sentient alien with grasping tentacles. This is the one country in the world where your bloodline, legally, doesn’t matter. Because if you cross a trackless ocean and settle a wild frontier and have to face off with wild beasts, wilder men, tornadoes, hurricanes, and wildfires, with whoever just happens to be nearby-

Then, to lift a bit from Clan Korval, your considerations on who you get help from boil down to: 1) Can he shoot? 2) Will he aim at my enemies?

If everyone around you is making the same calculation, then everyone has to be prepared to use violence if called for.

We have an entire population whose culture is that it’s acceptable to take risks, move anywhere, and use violence if necessary. Who are not legally obligated to serve anyone, ever. An American citizen has no master.

No wonder stories of ronin and the masterless martial artists of the jianghu resonate over here. That’s our ideal.

Though, not exactly. Which is important: we’re not like anywhere else. To be American is to be distinctly odd. We don’t fit anywhere else on the planet.

(Off the planet? A lot of us want to colonize the Moon, Mars, and further. Which is classic American style; move where it’s interesting!)

But we haven’t colonized other worlds yet. So if you’re American, there’s nowhere else to go and fit… except America.

And this is why people bringing up “international law” and “how they do it in Europe” make those who love America so really, really ticked off. Because if we wanted to live like Europeans, we’d move to Europe already.

We don’t. We left. Or our ancestors left. This is our place, the only nation like it in the world, and we like it the way it is. We have separate state and federal governments for a reason: if people in one state decide to change their laws, they can, and people can either move in if they like it, or move out if they don’t. Because gun laws that (supposedly) work in New York City are an annoyance in most of the rest of the country, and downright lethal in places like Alaska, where you have to carry a firearm on a plane in case it goes down in a wilderness full of grizzlies, wolves, and polar bears.

I suspect too many people do not understand the reality of polar bears. Or other predators on humans. Including our fellow humans.

Someone who won’t let you choose your own risks is a predator. Someone who won’t let you get away from them is a predator. Someone who says, this group has the right to use violence, the rest of you do not

I think you get the idea.

America was created by thinking outside the box of every government created to that point. America is the Third Option.

And if you try to take that option away from us… we will be very, very cranky.

Ask George III how that worked out.


A/N: And if you were wondering about Myrrh – she was in the country when the Constitution was signed, and there’s a citizenry clause about that, too.


71 thoughts on “Stray Thoughts: American Ronin, Part 2

  1. Fundamentally, the function of a legal system comes from a population.

    Where a legal system decides a dispute, people in that population have to be willing to let their grievances go. “If I live, I will kill you, if I die I forgive you” came out of a failed effort to impose a government/legal system where the locals really did not want it.

    People talk about diversity, and some of them mean some very specific things with that word. I talk about variation instead, because I more or less understand what the word means. Forex, even the most homogeneous human population has a great deal of variation within it. When you look at the set of populations extant in the world, there is a lot of variation between populations in mores, values, customs, etc.

    One might conclude that international law is fundamentally a waste of effort. If one’s culture is fundamentally ‘rudely telling the rest of the world to go away’, the reaction might often be quite a bit more vehement. Fanatic American nationalists have have thinking more extreme than that.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. There was a case recently–can’t remember exactly which, unfortunately, and my search engine-fu is failing me–in which a U.S. judge made a rather outrageous ruling in a similar fashion. Specifically, he decided that, since there was historical precedent in other countries’ legal systems, some law or rather restricting gun ownership was perfectly Constitutional. He did not, mind you, consult the United States Constitution itself, nor any other law or precedent in American jurisprudence. No, to this guy, _other countries’_ laws completely trumped the clear and unambiguous wording “shall not be infringed”.

      I don’t know where people started getting the idea that other nations’ legal systems held sway over American citizens on American soil, but I wish it would go back there.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. IIRC, in the nineties the Supreme Court made an ‘evolving standards of international law’, or some such, argument wrt execution of minor capital offenders.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Re: NY gun laws.

    Gun rights advocates have been for years saying that the big city crime rates have other causes, and might in fact be a result of the gun control laws.

    Observers from overseas have probably not been noticing all of the things that came to the attention of some Americans during the course of the covid lockdown.

    I think we had a commentator here from New Jersey, who had apparently taken claims by the New Jersey government at face value, and apparently was not aware of the theory that the governor of New Jersey had made New Jersey’s respiratory death rate worse with bad policy choices. I had been hearing that theory from a guy who claims to be living in New Jersey. (I like a lot of what that guy has to say, but am not entirely sure whether he might be a little crazy, or if I just am reluctant to accept the possibility that he is correct in certain predictions.)

    Long and short of it, there have been some very interesting developments in the information Americans have about New York gun control policy. Possibly enough to sour most Americans on gun control, criminal justice reform, and New York legal politics.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I hav eke we been a fan of New York’s, anything. Except perhaps the idea of the fabric district and that has a lot more to do with the fact that I am exactly the type of person to have yards of fabric I will never use because of Texture. Or, no. I would learn to sew. The idea of big city living gives me hives. Suburban living gives me hives. And then the pandemic hit and I don’t feel much more inclined towards New York. Especially after I saw the video a man took driving down what I think was Central Square. All the stores were boarded up, because all the windows had been smashed and everything stolen during the ‘riots.’ He was very angry about that term. Even the Barnes and Nobles had been cleaned out. There was one other car in the whole thing, running a red light at the intersection. His refrain? “Nobody cares.” A few of the stores had guards on them. It just makes me sad. Because I don’t know how likely it is for those businesses to bother to rebuild. They’ve had what was millions of not billions of dollars lost to the madness.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Yeah, this stuff was not a good deed, and will have very long term costs.

        University of Oklahoma is run by a bunch of Democrat Cronies. It also took pride last year in some of the official rebranding of the Tulsa Race Riots as the ‘Tulsa Race Massacre’.

        tl;dr of the Tulsa Race Riots is that a man was accused of a crime, and with covert official sanction people took to the streets to ‘obtain justice’. Which happened to take the form of burning down a very wealthy black neighborhood. Wealth was destroyed burning down that neighborhood, and definitely was not immediately replaced. I have heard that the wealth was /never/ replaced. I understand that Tulsa was a bit nervous about the event for many decades afterwards.

        One of the chilling things about the Tulsa Race Riots is how long Oklahoma state officials pretended it hadn’t happened, with them admitting to it around 2000. For a long time before that ‘nobody talked about it’. IIRC, I had a distant female relative who lived in Tulsa, and was nervous about some things, and male relative who lived in Norman, and did not really understand the /why/ of the nervousness. It still may have been a fairly open secret.

        As an aside, there is a hard proof of something in knowing Oklahoma political history, and the biographies of two Oklahoma political figures. Gene Stipe was a ‘mover and shaker’ in Oklahoma politics, a member of the state legislature. He was a member of the Oklahoma Democratic Party. He entered politics in 1931, only ten years after the Tulsa race riots. When the feds caught up with him around 2000-2010, he still had enough pull to get sentenced to ‘community service’ giving advice to the state legislature. Dave Boren, father of Dan Boren, was a Senator from Oklahoma, and both Dan and Dave are Democrats with the Oklahoma Democratic Party. He has also fairly recently been removed from the Presidency of the University of Oklahoma. As President of the University of Oklahoma, David Boren was careful to present himself as extremely woke. Including at least one of the expulsions of a Freshman for saying the N word, and shutting down that Fraternity and taking over their frat house to make a university building. Yet, he was active in Oklahoma politics during the 1970s, and was plugged into the Oklahoma Democratic Party enough to make Federal Senator and IIRC governor.

        (Gallogly was an oilfield business and served one year as President after Boren left. During Gallogly’s year, students came forward to accuse Boren of sexual misconduct against them. Gallogly didn’t want to deal with that, and there had already been a whispering campaign against Gallogly among the faculty, citing the financial irregularities Gallogly had uncovered. So Gallogly left, and Harroz took over. Boren was a lawyer, and Harroz had previously headed OU law, and hearsay is that he had represented Boren in DC as a lawyer before that. The accusations of sexual misconduct were not spoken of after Harroz took over. I am informed by someone with access to the OU mass emails that Harroz has pretty clearly been a partisan shill for the Democrats.)

        It is very unlikely that OU’s decision that the Tulsa Race Riots be called the Tulsa Race Massacre is entirely innocent and uncorrupt.

        I once met a, now deceased, University of Oklahoma faculty who had found a witness to a mass grave associated with victims of the Tulsa Race Riots, but had not been able to find and verify the mass grave. One estimate of Tulsa is 300 dead. I forget if the 3,000 estimate was serious, or something I came up with as a careful misreading of certain claims. A lot of people were not seen afterwards in that place.

        We will definitely remember the summer of 2020 for some time, unless 2021 exceeds it enough.

        I’m actually a little bit optimistic about it not exceeding 2020. I was expecting better mobilization of students in the summer riots than I have heard tell of. Thing may just fall apart without much violent struggle.

        Anyway, I would note that while I do have some family connections in Oklahoma, I was born in an entirely different state, and my information about Oklahoma political history is especially bottlenecked.

        Liked by 4 people

    2. Expanding on the New York bit requires a bit of talking about US criminal law and US policing.

      Anglo-American Common Law is a term. ‘Most’ American law derives from a weird system developed in England, that was called Common Law. This portion was not derived from any single comprehensive legal code, there was basically a body developed from judge decisions that was somewhat consistent. Originally in the US anyone ‘could’ practice law, now it is mostly restricted by credentials. The Federal government has database of legal decisions, but because of shenanigans, it is locked behind a paywall, and you have to pay a per case fee for records. Law schools have some free access, so a lot of the practical options for ‘reading law’ are restricted to people getting the credentials.

      American ‘policing’ has three stages of development. One, there are sheriffs elected for the thousands of counties, and these can recruit deputies to be law enforcement officers. Furthermore, there is the institution of a posse. I know that sheriffs could recruit any male citizen for a posse to go perform a single law enforcement function. Secondly, on top of that, cities implemented an imitation of the Peel civil police system. Robert Peel was inspired by the French police system, but tried to change it to make it appropriate for a freer people. Thirdly, the federal law enforcement agencies which were mostly created during the twentieth century. (Originally, the Federal Marshals were the only federal law enforcement.) I’m not entirely certain about how to classify the state law enforcement agencies. Texas Rangers were 19th century, and very definitely not originally a ‘civil’ police organization. Right ‘now’, we have county, city, state and federal law enforcement organizations, but they are all professional or semi-professional, they are not recruiting posses in groups of volunteers.

      US Criminal justice system 101: First, there must be legal record of a crime occurring. If you have a body that has obviously been killed, this could be evidence, and the start of the record. Mostly, you have ordinary citizens or residents swearing out a criminal complaint. This can involve a lawyer, but mostly you call the police department, and a policeman comes by and fills out a form with you. Then the police organization either ignores it, or starts collecting evidence. The people swearing out the complaint are witnesses, and witness testimony is one kind of evidence that can be brought before a court. Then the police and the ‘District Attorney’s Office’, collaborate on deciding if they have a case and on whether to prosecute the case. The district attorney can be an elected official, and is in charge of prosecuting criminal cases. To arrest someone, the prosecuting attorney gets a warrant for the arrest from a judge, then the police go an execute the warrant. (There is an alternative path to this point, where a police officer catches someone directly in commission of a crime. Then the police officer’s experiences are recorded as evidence, and the police can only hold the suspect for a limited period of time while they ask a judge if the arrest was okay.)

      After the arrest has been authorized by a judge, and carried out, comes the question of bail. A judge, again, decides the questions of ‘how long does the suspect have to wait for a trial’, and ‘are they a flight risk’? A trial may be many days later, so keeping every one in custody until the trial would be very expensive, and perhaps very unfair. But if you let someone out, and promise to come back, they may not deliver on that promise. Thus, bail. Bail is an amount of money supplied by someone on behalf of the suspect, and they lose the money if the suspect does not show up. There is a whole business sector that loans bail money to suspects, and tries to ensure that the suspects show up to trial. Judge sets the bail based on various factors, or refuses to set bail and the suspect is held in custody until the trial. If the suspect pays the bail, and does not show up, people have to go retrieve them from wherever they have fled before the trial can occur.

      Then we have the trial, which the suspect/accused is attending personally. The witnesses also have to show up, and repeat their testimony, or it does not count as evidence. The burden of proof is one the accuser/prosecution. So, the prosecution has to provide evidence that the accused did commit the crime, if they do not, the case is dismissed and the accused is freed and considered innocent. I’m going to end US criminal justice 101 here, because the rest is not relevant.

      So, ‘defund the police’. First, this isn’t talking about all of the police, they have not been complaining about the federal organizations. Second, the Black Lives Matter brand of activism has roots in the Obama administration, when he was very definitely encouraging that behavior. Third, Obama was also talking about a massive expansion of federal law enforcement. Fourth, Democrat refusal to let federal law enforcement enforce federal law when a Republican was in office makes it seem like trying to set up a federal monopoly on law enforcement is intended only for use by Democrats in office. (Fifth, the places where there were ‘protests’ were mostly those with Democrat mayors and Democrat governors. The city police departments whose actions are cited as examples of ‘systemic racism’ are largely in cities that have been run by Democrats for many years.)

      There were three developments last year. One, was the scope and magnitude of the BLM activities. Obama entered office in 2008, so this stuff may have been happening for ten years, but 2020 was an escalation. Two, releasing prisoners ‘because of covid’. One of my own relatives was so released, a mentally ill flight risk who is a danger to others. Three, New York in particular implemented some criminal justice ‘reforms’.

      New York ‘reforms’ were basically in releasing people without requiring bail, and in telling people as you release them who the witnesses were who provided the evidence of the crime. So, if the accused is a violent criminal, with ties to organized crime, might this not be an opportunity to intimidate or murder the people who filed the complaint, and possibly get the case dismissed for lack of evidence?

      Republican voters tend to think that the recent increase in violent crime, particularly in New York, is tied to bail/prosecution ‘reform’, the decrease in police aggression resulting from BLM riots/abolishing the police, and the judges releasing people ‘because of covid’ who should have stayed in jail.

      Democrat officials, who were responsible for most of this, are calling it an ‘epidemic of gun violence’, and are clearly hoping to use the same ‘public health authority’ that was used for the covid capricious and arbitrary implementation of ‘rules’. Thing is, if you want to stop gun crimes, why release without bail those accused of gun crimes, or crimes committed using a gun?

      Anyway, New York State Attorney General’s office has been carrying out some interesting prosecutions/civil suits. Wayne LaPierre is a moron for not being careful to avoid that business with Dan Boren, and probably a crook. (Who the hockeysticks says that Dan Boren, of all people, is a trustworthy neutral or ally?) But the NY State Attorney General’s actions there are clearly a profoundly stupid attempt to influence national public policy.

      tl;dr, there is a lot of stuff simmering below the surface, some of it Americans becoming very aware due to the hubris of the people pulling more extreme versions of traditional scams, NY in particular looks like a criminal conspiracy, and some of the judges, lawyers, federal LEOS have the appearance of an interstate criminal conspiracy.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Particularly when people look at things like:

        Participated in the riots burning down parts of Portland, Minneapolis, anywhere else BLM got nasty: Released!

        Participated in a more-or-less cranky public protest in the capitol where the only person shot was by the Feds and nothing was burned down: Arrested! Solitary confinement for over 180 days!


        Liked by 4 people

      2. Immediately released.

        Confined without trial for long periods, and beaten in addition. And I’ve been spending so little time collecting information that the beating and I think the confinement were new to me when I learned about it from Sarah.

        Note, the theoretical motivation for the Magnitsky act was a guy who was allegedly beaten in prison, and died. Between Epstein and these beatings, I’m not sure I understand why the Magnitsky Act does not apply to the US congress.

        Liked by 4 people

      3. I would note, that for those who understand the history of US policing, the claim that policing blacks was not appropriate because policing was not part of black heritage by blood struck many as being extremely racist in a way that if implemented would not be good for blacks.

        That so much of American policing descends from Bobby Peel’s civil policing principles implies that a blood/’culture’ test would mean that these principles could only be applied to suspects who could show English or maybe French ancestry.

        Seriously, look up each of Peel’s nine principles, and think about what the opposite of them would be.

        The inverse of six, is maximum force as a first option. Inverse of seven, a special monopoly on authority. Inverse of eight, taking on the authority of the judiciary. Inverse of nine, treating visible evidence of police activity as the goal.

        This would pretty clearly be a two tier justice system, of exactly the sort these activists are claiming to oppose.

        These are not sane, thoughtful, ethical people. They are most concerned about saying that history and the status quo are evil, and are neglecting to game out what might happen if they are partly successful in persuasion.

        Liked by 3 people

  3. On the “moving to Europe, if you want to be like Europeans”, I still wonder if the people trying to get us to be more like the Europeans actually realize that the rest of us _actually don’t want to be like the Europeans_, or if they think the rest of us actually do want to be like the Europeans but made the same calculation they did and don’t want to be at the bottom of the pile. After all, if you look at the ones trying to make us like the Europeans, but not moving to Europe themselves, it’s clear they’ve realized “if we did move to Europe, all our wealth and power here would not mean much beside their hereditary position. We’d become small fish in a big sea, rather than our current position of big fish in a small sea.” They want to make the US more like Europe, because that would let them establish themselves as the undisputed “big fish” in our sea _and_ compete on equal terms with the big fish of the European systems, rather than having to constantly accept that their wealth and power is only as useful as its direct application and doesn’t carry the secondary effects of heredity that it does in Europe.

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  4. Any system is going to come with inherent weaknesses: you can’t have the benefits of small government *and* big government at the same time. There’s always going to be a bit of give or take and the dream is, of course, to find a compromise that gives the individuals as many rights as possible.

    Consider the compromise that gave up half our rights to drive wherever we wanted on a road – we are no longer allowed to drive on the left – and in exchange we got the ability to go incredibly fast on the right side of the road because all on-coming traffic was on the left. This was a well done compromise in my opinion.

    One person’s right to kill and another person’s right to live have a good compromise position in “they were trying to kill me and I got there first” but a terrible compromise in “they didn’t obey me and so I killed them.”

    One of the real weaknesses with the American ronin perspective is it allows for might-makes-right situations. If one person’s freedom allows them to take away another person’s freedom, then it’s hard to convince the second person that it’s really a free society.

    The traditional wild west stories are a good example of this as you get company towns that are owned by a single person and everyone else who lives and works there doesn’t really have an option to pick up stakes and move somewhere else so they go and hire a passing gunman to be their representative and fight it out. And that’s the fantasy because there’s a person they can hire, who’s willing and able to fight for them, and who then leaves without simply taking over. And then the story ends before someone else takes over.


      1. A bit tricky to advocate assassinating Jeff Bezos. And at this point the corporations that need government to act as a counter balance are too big for any simple assassination to work. (Disney, Facebook, Amazon, etc. They’re practically governments in their own right)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Um, you asked about an Old West company town. Not modern life.

        I would also say that corporations do not need government as a counterbalance, they need government to stop looking the other way when they do things that are blatantly illegal. In which case it’s the law, not government, that kicks in.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. a) Corporations are made out of people, and people can be killed.
        b) In particular, Big Tech is operating through executives, and assassination campaigns are a potential remedy.
        c) If the executives travel, automobiles are especially vulnerable. It doesn’t matter if you shell out the cost of securing the electronics on your vehicle, if other vehicles on the road are vulnerable.
        d) Executives that don’t travel can have lines of communication cut.
        e) Bezos is not the single worst problem with Amazon. Bezos has been somewhat pushed out in favor of the head of AWS.
        f) Vigilantism as a remedy can be carried out by relatively few people.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Trust Foxfier to come up with a saner counterpoint than I do. 🙂

        Yeah, just Amazon alone has been involved with a bunch of government influence scheming to prevent market entry by competitors. Pushing some regulations that they can afford the overhead of, but smaller organizations would have a harder time with, etc.

        I could not, off the top of my head, point to specific US government influence favoring Google. OTOH, I’ve been hearing a lot about them being chummy with the PRC these past twenty years.

        Big Tech has been deeply involved in a lot of the big regulatory packages for tech recently.

        There are some pretty huge issues with potential trusts, foreign influence, etc., so Big Tech has maybe already procured enough government influence to shield them. Forex, Google, the internet ad market, and that recent thing Google floated that would have effectively given them a monopoly on harvesting personal information.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. There is very little advantage in big government.

      At US scales, pretty much any bureaucracy decisionmaking that scales with population size is actively harmful.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. So, so much. I ran across a study once where someone examined countries by size, and concluded that when you hit much more than 5-10 million, the government breaks down and can’t respond to its citizens, only to powerful groups. The only reason the U.S. works as well as it does is we’ve broken up 350-odd million people into 50 states, each of which are supposed to run themselves as much as possible. People who try to centralize government more are doing the exact wrong thing if they want life better for everyone.

        Edit: And given that 5-10 million limit… last I checked, the population of NYC alone was over 8 million.

        I submit that this may be why the place Does Not Work.

        Liked by 6 people

      2. I’m a hawk, like defense spending, and have an interest in personally profiting from defense speaking.

        So this is an admission against interest: The defense bureaucracies are really large, and have some pretty significant dysfunction, partly driven by the scale. I’m suspecting more and more that the political calculus makes cutting defense funding, manning, and mission sensible if we also fix the rest of the Federal government.

        And I say that as someone really hostile to other countries, including the big problems of Russia, China, and Iran. (It is not my views on Russia, China and Iran that make me heterodox by US foreign policy standards.)

        I would like it if the other countries could no longer threaten the American population, but I am a little bit concerned about enemies domestic ATM. Fundamentally, murderous but dysfunctional bureaucracy here might be a little more of a danger than a murderous but dysfunctional bureaucracy across an ocean.

        Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m now debating in my head if she had come to the US before finding that would be a thing and just staying so it applied to her or if she came to the US after she found out it would be a thing to take advantage of it…

      I can also see a whole load of supernatural critters having a collective “darn it” moment when they realized that was in there (and went though!).

      Liked by 3 people

      1. My headcanon is that Myrrh was there stomping other monsters at the time (there had to be all kinds of nasties running loose!) and was pleasantly surprised. Also likely decided that Europe was a bit too hot for a Gnostic monster-hunter, hence why she’d headed to the colonies in the first place….

        And heh! Indeed. Sure, go ahead and claim to be Countess Whatever… at best you’re a resident, not a citizen, and that means certain supernatural protections for you are much, much weaker….

        Liked by 3 people

  5. I once encountered a gun control advocate who wanted Australian-style gun control, which allows rural people to own guns and suburnites who store them properly to own them, too. I don’t think that’s doable here. We’ve got too many guns to implement that successfully. I think I’ve seen ones who don’t think police officers should have them. Again, we’ve got too many guns to implement that successfully. That’s assuming they think there should be police officers. Excuse me, Mariame Kaba? Your approach would not have allowed Juanita Sinclair to survive Eddie Siebold as long as she has.

    Last I heard, it was 300,000,000 guns we had in America, which are owned by 100,000,000 people. If they are sufficiently representative of the general population in terms of psychological makeup, there would be 4,000,000 gun owners you’d have no-knock raids on. Assuming they all live separately and we only do these for the purpose of confiscating guns and they never hit the wrong house because they got lost or hit the wrong because they’re after moved without notifying the DMV of a change of address and do 40,000 of them a year, it would take a hundred years to get them all, assuming you didn’t have to worry about the black. Which would be there. Or homemade guns. Which are an option. Including 3D-printed ones.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I think it’s more than 300,000,000 at this point. Last figures I heard put it somewhere closer to _four_ hundred million. Or at least, something to the effect of “enough guns to arm every man, woman, and child in America, with enough left over to start arming housepets”. Confiscation on that scale would be… interesting.

      I also consider that pretty damning evidence that those who say guns are the problem have intestines replacing most of their internal organs. If we’ve got more guns in private hands than we have private hands, were guns truly the problem, every major city in the country would have blood flooding the streets on a daily basis.

      Besides. If you take the time to look at the shootings making the news, you’ll see that the vast majority of them occur in the places where it’s hardest to legally obtain firearms. As to the standard gun-grabber excuse of, “Oh, they get them from the places that _don’t_ make it so hard to buy them!”, I have but this to say: then why don’t _those_ places have near-constant shootings?

      Liked by 5 people

      1. I’m pretty sure that Rachel’s numbers assumed are the ones most in favor of making gun confiscation seem like a possibility. If one shows that those numbers do not so indicate, the real numbers make it even less viable.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Partly that stat is explained because active shooters that are stopped by a civilian seldom get a high enough death count to qualify as a mass shooting.

        …that doesn’t make it much better, does it?

        Liked by 5 people

      3. This morning the Des Moines fishwrapper pubished SumDood arguing that Iowa’s constitutional carry laws are evil because his son had to run from an active shooter… in California.

        Then cited the “gun violence” stats that hold it’s better that I die than use violence in self defense.

        Liked by 5 people

      4. On the bright side, resorting to that level of information warfare in that location means that we can pretty strongly infer ‘it is afraid’.

        They will not stop pushing, and will not avoid pushing in stupid ways.

        Keep pushing in the intelligent ways you are already pushing.

        I can’t promise we will all be home for Christmas, but we haven’t lost, and we can expect better than Valhalla. Don’t give up the ship!

        Liked by 5 people

      1. Americans have been expecting our own government to go evil and turn on us since at least the 1780s.

        Archeologists have found stockpiles of arms collected during the 19th century.

        We have had good preservation tech for firearms since at least the mid twentieth century. Guns before then would have needed regular maintenance in long term storage.

        We’ve also had more than a few wars with resulting arms production during the twentieth century.

        Another angle, look at numbers of engineers, machinists, etc. in the US. Look at recent historical per capita productivity figures. Ask yourself what Americans might be able to make if they were sufficiently motivated.

        Would be tyrants and their supporters would probably enjoy more being fought by Americans armed with firearms than they would Americans armed only with explosives, poisons, sabotaged equipment and vehicles, etc.

        People trying to pull such are seriously stupid if they think it a good or wise idea.

        I personally have zero interest in 3D printed firearms. You could make something like a liberator out of plastic, but it would be cooler to make a real liberator, and the use case for a liberator does not make sense. We had more warning and prep time than occupied Europe did, could prepare concealed stores of real firearms, and if you have reliable intel for ‘use a liberator to get a real side arm, use a side arm to get a long arm’, you have reliable intel for a bomb. As for metals printing, expensive and the tech still has wrinkles to work out. There are parts worth trying to print in metal, but personal arms sound like they would be a frustrating waste of time.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. Well, of course we have. We’d had several centuries of dealing with across-the-Atlantic bureaucratic fumbles by that time, and experience with them up-close and personal through appointed governors, and therefore no optimism whatsoever that politicians would ever be more than a necessary evil. So far, we’ve been right.

        Liked by 3 people

    2. My dad’s next door neighbor is originally from one of the countries that fell within the sphere or the Soviet Union, but I don’t remember which one. He is very much in favor of the right of the individual to wield arms, largely because his father saw what would happen when that right was lost.

      Eventually things go so bad that the citizenry stood up and fought against their government, even though they had lost the right to guns long enough ago that nobody had them anymore. Fighting a pitchforks and clubs vs automatics and tanks is not an easy fight.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Oh, but in order to stand up to the government you’d _really_ need fighter jets and nukes! …People who make statements like that fail to understand how warfare, particularly urban, actually works. Hint: any government that wants to still have intact real estate is not going to be using WMDs on dissidents. For that matter, any government that does not want to irradiate itself is not going to be doing that. And air strikes… eh. Lots more complicated than these people seem to think, especially, again, in urban environments.

        Liked by 5 people

      2. Anyone who claims that you can’t oppose the American military is admitting that the RoE against straight white male Christians (and anyone deemed such, such as the sad puppy days of Sarah Hoyt being a Straight White Mormon Male . . . with a great rack!) will be a lot bloodier than the RoE against Allah’s thralls.


        Liked by 2 people

      3. With all due charity to Mr. Biden, it would be correct to say that opposing the unorganized militia of the United States of America might be a pretty serious tactical and strategic mistake.

        These technocrats do not seem to have much actual understanding of technology.

        Jet fights and nukes are cool and all, but no real weapons system is perfect and invincible. Insert my usual Francis Bacon quote.

        It is a bit of a shame, because Biden was involved in funding decisions for the F-15 and nuclear weapons for his entire senate career. It would be a regrettable if officers misled him about the capabilities of those systems in order to secure funding.

        There’s a practical downside to the way that programs have been funded. Scattering stuff across all of the congressional districts means that you do not necessarily have a politically reliable source of parts and maintenance for all systems during a civil war.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Anyway, yesterday I was really wanting to reiterate my ‘oral history’ spiel, and add a newer implication.

    Oral history is a huge part of preserving culture. “Don’t do X, it only results in Y”, etc. When you are in your original society, you hear that society’s oral history from everyone, and it shapes your worldview.

    Fundamentally, the people who formed American culture and the first oral history of the colonies/US, seem to have left their oral histories mostly in the old countries. It very much seems like most or all of American oral history is only colonist experiences in New World, forward.

    Okay, there are a bunch of people like me who heard a few things from neighbors who managed to escape communism alive. And, forex, Moe Lane was raised a Democrat, but also to hate Communists, because his father served in Korea.

    The second issue of the oral history is how much of the oral history formed between early colonial days and the 1960s is unusual by world standards. The indians were the first real external threat in the oral history, and while some of them were good fighters, their strategic situation was never sound. There is evidence that some of them had agriculture, but I understand there weren’t European population densities, even before disease killed so many of them. And the colonists could replace losses with more people shipping over from Europe. So, enemy but not an existential threat. Next, French and Indian War, an alliance between France and certain indian tribes against the English controlled colonies. French lost. Revolutionary War, between the colonists and the British, British lost, and the loyalist colonists were driven off to what is now Canada. Expulsion of the loyalists was violent, but did not leave near the traces on our oral history that killing them would. War of 1812 we remember as an American victory.

    David Drake makes the case that we lost fights against the Barbary pirates on points, but they were not an existential threat, and we tell ourselves it was a victory.

    Mexican-American war, I understand we won, but we did not grab the whole of Mexico, and hence did not get sucked into the results of maintaining a colonial occupation of it. (Mexicans can be serious fighting men.)

    First American Civil War, definitely existential, definitely serious impact on our oral history and culture, but again a freakishly positive outcome.

    Spanish-American War, victory. This time we picked up a colonial possession, The Philippines, and did try to occupy it. In terms of hurting our confidence, and in terms of incurring a sense of cost in our oral history, the results were again absurd. A bunch of folks decided that we didn’t want to hold on to the Philippines, and to try to prepare them for self rule, so we spent relatively little blood holding on to it.

    World War One, for many of the European countries, was ‘the worst day in their lives’, for us, ‘it was a Tuesday’. (With credit to Bison in the Street Fighter movies.) We are certain we won WWI, and paid a small acceptable cost to do so.

    WWII, again, we are sure of our own victory, sure it was well worth the price we paid, and sure that it was largely a matter of remaining resolute in pursuing victory. And, frankly, it is not clear that even the Axis were an existential threat. Such is the character of our oral history then that we were so confident, perhaps to a level of hubris on par with Achilles.

    Definitely a post war occupation of Japan and West Germany that was of some lasting impact on oral history, but the Emperor was able to deliver a Japanese surrender, and the HJ and DMB wehrwolves settled down after they were returned to the custody of their parents. Left us wildly overconfident in our ‘nation building’ abilities because we told ourselves that we had successfully educated the West Germans and Japanese in civilized behavior.

    Korea was one of the first hot conflicts of the Cold War, and may or may not be a change. Was it a victory or a defeat? MacArthur thought that he could have won a complete victory if the President had been willing to release nuclear weapons for use. Definitely a partial victory, but we were used to winning and going home, and we were still seriously deployed in South Korea for at least a decade after the ‘end’ of the Cold War.

    Vietnam, very interesting question. JFK and LBJ were very bad men, and McNamara is still very widely hated to this day. The Viet Cong, for all that US media portrayed Tet as an American loss, was destroyed. That was the conventional army of North Vietnam that rolled over South Vietnam. And the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) probably could have held the border if the American congress hadn’t stopped air support. So, the ‘stabbed in the back’ narrative of Vietnam has some validity. Definitely by that point, the State Cult of the Soviet Union had adherents within the American population. Definitely a huge impact on our oral history, the ‘we lost, and are not invincible’, ‘we were stabbed in the back by high level traitors’, and ‘we were evil to fight the communists, and deserved to lose’ narratives are all still living memory.

    Panama, and Grenada. Small wars, living memory, strongest effect on oral history among those that are military adjacent. (This amounts to maybe 7% or more who served, plus some more who are close to relatives who served, or are military otaku.)

    I’m overlooking a bunch of stuff in the Cold War. Forex, the Iran-Iraq war, etc.

    Gulf War I. Bush 41 was criticized for stopping the war just after we beat the Iraqi army. Definitely by then we had a political faction that did not like it when we won. Definitely also, there were good and bad reasons not to want to be stuck occupying Iraq. But the troops stationed in Saudi Arabia, etc., to deter Saddam, etc., were also not a wonderful entanglement.

    Clinton years, ‘peacekeeping’, Somalia, Bosnia, etc. Still a widespread view that this was wasteful, and much more trouble than it was worth.

    ‘War on Terror’, Bush 43, lot of criticism for ‘softness’, ‘peacekeeping’, plus complaints that this was sabotaged by a ‘stab in the back’. Basically, we hit the point in the recap where the historical discussion cannot be disentangled from the politics of current affairs.

    In summary, pre 1960s oral history leads Americans to confidence, and post has a lot of anxiety over being stabbed in the back, or whether America’s foreign policy is carried out for good ends.

    The level of confidence seems to be pretty weird compared to most countries.

    Try being a Jew in Israel, or a white from South Africa, and debating with an American with no understanding that other countries are different, on the question of “why don’t/didn’t you just kill them?” If an American only understands the oral history of America, they may map the Palestinians or the ANC onto the indians or the Imperial Japanese, and not understand that the situations with the populations are entirely different.

    Here is the new insight, with an unpredictable implication for the future.

    Pretty much every population has oral history, deeply informed by the previous foreign policy problems they experienced, and this fundamentally shapes how people from that population pursue foreign politics. Most of this thinking was not completely self destructive in the historical period that these views were shaped by. The modern world is different from the historical world for every population. Better tech means faster cheaper transport means that we are neighbors with a bunch of people who were previously rather more distant. This makes the expectations wrong for everyone. Russia’s expectations are wrong, China’s expectations are wrong, Iran’s expectations are wrong, Germany’s expectations are wrong, and America’s expectations are wrong.

    So, we are all doomed to new experiences, and to the cultural change that will result from that, and we cannot predict what that will be. Except that the one worlders are wrong, and we will not all be happily living in tyranny or freedom under a single state.

    Basically, it was Daybreak on Hyperion that so strongly convinced me of the ‘everyone is /wrong/’ model. The version I read before ‘noping’ out was heavily oriented towards post Soviet understandings of foreign affairs by Russians. Some of that is clearly a residual side effect of the information control practiced by the USSR. Some of it is also more traditional Russian styles of understanding. Some of it was projecting Russian understandings on Americans, and assuming that it was a reliable model for how Americans saw things. Which I very viscerally understand as not being a useful predictive tool. (So, for all that I am clearly into the ‘life of the mind’, and have a sympathy for characters likewise absorbed, I found that character pretty seriously alien. Add on my intellectual journey to anti-intellectualism, and that I am a recovering technocrat, and I would prefer that such characters either a) learn and grow beyond that b) are sometimes extremely wrong in their suggestions.) Anyway, US policy during the Cold War makes perfect sense if you 1) understand US culture 2) understand how the fact of Americans who were religious believers in the state soviet cult appeared to Americans who were not believers. Figuring out Russia from an American perspective may be as wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “some of them had agriculture” — Pretty much all Native Americans had agriculture, for pretty much as long as Europe and Asia had it. The agricultural revolution was the breeding of corn/maize from a grass into a large vegetable that produced a useable, storable grain, as well as the discovery that humans needed to process corn with lime (the mineral) in order to fully digest it, and that it could be made into alcoholic drinks.

      Corn came along with Mexican/”Mississippian” values of extremely organized hierarchical societies, warfare for bottomlands and other established fieldland, various religious ideas (such as pyramids or giant central mounds dominating extremely large towns), and a lot of human sacrifice. (Cahokia and the various Southeastern cultures, for instance.) All this was replacing the previous “Hopewell” astronomical/calendar style of agriculture and religion, with all the elaborate mound shapes (often seeming to be calendrical or astronomical), and trade networks that seemed to be mostly peaceful.

      There was a big implosion of all the Mississippian stuff, eventually, and people mostly went back to living in separate villages and only occasional warfare, except in the Southeast (where weather was better), and the revival of the nation idea as a federation by Hiawatha and company (which led to some really big towns up in New York State) which turned into killing, conquering, driving out, or taking over every tribe in the Northeast and Ohio Valley, as a way to take over the fur trade with Europe.

      What we didn’t realize until recently was that, especially in South America, some tribes practiced “stealth terraforming” and “stealth agriculture,” but that a lot of it died out when crucial personnel died in epidemics, or when tribes otherwise had trouble sustaining their technical society and went back to hunting/gathering more.

      Anyhoo…. all this is kinda beside your point.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I knew about a lot of that.

        I was kinda thinking/talking in shorthand on the agriculture point. Intensity, productivity, work per calorie, land use, water use were maybe points where New World agriculture had fallen behind in innovation.

        And it seems like a lot of archeologists have their heads in the clouds/sand when it comes to noticing the practice of agriculture, so even if we had a lot more information about the South American stuff, we might not have any reliable numbers for comparison.

        KEy thing, population density of indians was very low when the colonists/settlers were fighting them.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, compared to Europe, and not counting the few really big built-up areas of big cities, population density is lower than Europe now. When you have tons of land, you can spread out. Humans only bunch up really tight for Reasons, and most of those reasons have never applied in the Americas.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Re: oral history was left in Europe – Well, not always. Generally the first generation has a pretty good idea of what happened in the Old Country, and the story is generally, “And we got treated like crud.” For example, the Pilgrims had an entire history of why they moved from England to the Netherlands, and from the Netherlands to the Plymouth Colony.

      But most people coming here were Christian or Jewish, and they tended to identify themselves closely with Israel and the Exodus from Egypt. That made the Old Country “Egypt,” and therefore a lot less interesting than the new country, the Promised Land. The kids are busy, they’re much more interested in their own situation and their neighbors, and they have a lot of work to do and opportunities to find.

      The other side is that, when the first generation wasn’t busy, they probably had to fight homesickness, and didn’t want to spend all their time sighing after the fleshpots and cucumbers of Egypt.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thing is, the loss of oral history from the old country is one of the bits that should be both less intuitive for foreigners to notice, and a major driver of what makes Americans weird and unpredictable.

        Somewhere, here or probably ATH, there was some guy who came by and ‘asked’ us Americans something like why we were not supporting ‘our own people’. Basically, did not grok how little we care about external threats, and how much more relatively present ‘internal’ threats were. The extreme version of the baseline feeling this guy seemed to have would be ‘me against my brother, me and my brother against my cousin’, etc. I think a European dude who had a lot of oral history about his nationality being hurt by neighboring nationalities, and felt that even a very bad person of his own nationality makes more sense to trust than a bad person of one of those neighboring nationalities.

        Anyway, you and I are very verbal/written records. First generation born in the New World would have been a mix of learning types. You didn’t have the terrain/geography of the old country to hang the stories/lore on. You also had new neighbors to talk about, and not necessarily many of the old neighbors around to provide the context they did in the old country. And the colonists were a small number compared to those who stayed in the old country. That alone would mean much fewer people to listen to and incidentally obtain oral history from.

        The degree of disappearance is definitely not uniform.

        So, yeah, it very definitely wasn’t a sudden disappearance, but explaining it outside of an American audience requires outright saying that there was a disappearance.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, yeah. Even if the family has hostages in the Old Country, there is a strong temptation not to give a care, or to work around it. And ethnic or religious tensions that are brought here and given time to cool, will tend to become more of a hobby than a serious grudge.

        There are exceptions, but the melting pot is real and delicious.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. One of the things I like about Gunsmoke is that in the characters of Quint Asper and Festus Hagin, we get to see people trying to figure out how to get out of tribal systems and work within overall civilization. Sometimes more easily than others.


    3. Okay… and finally i get to your real main point….

      Yes, the “fighting the last war” problem is exactly what usually happens, in history. And yes, usually everyone fails to understand what is really going on in each others’ heads. That’s why interpretative analysts of intelligence are so important, and why traditionally our government put a lot of trust in anthropologists, historians, and other interpretative academics to explain the societies we were fighting or trading with.

      But right now, we have a lot of academics who are on the take, compromised by blackmail, or who are crazy snowflakes who don’t want to describe anything they see. Ooooops.

      OTOH, Americans and UK people seem to have a real social gift (on the whole, and especially certain observant individuals) for living in a society and noticing what values really drive it. We can’t always tell how to make it better, but we usually are able to figure out how to mess with people or make them question themselves. The Internet in some ways makes experiential knowledge easier to obtain, although I’m pretty sure you need to physically live and work in a society to really understand the unspoken stuff that is really important.

      But a lot of times, people will tell you what is important to their societies, whether loudly or softly. The problem is that people from other societies don’t listen and believe them about themselves, because they are sure that X must really deep down be exactly like Y. X and Y probably have surprising commonalities, but the surprising differences are important too. (And yes, Americans and UK people also commonly have a gift for totally ignoring other societies’ values and opinions. Possibly the one set of people has a gift in reaction to the other set.)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The podcast “The Cold War” has an episode talking about The Long Telegram. It is a famous document where one of our diplomats abused the diplomatic telegraph to give a long summary of Russian culture and Soviet methods and intentions. And he was right, pretty much.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Actually, that wasn’t the thing I was trying to drive at.

        Americans think we can win, don’t have much awareness of losing, and the strategic conditions where we won easily are very different from those of the status quo.

        Russians have a lot of awareness of suffering, are very tolerant of bad experiences, maybe have a sort of existential desperation, may know that they ‘got away’ with a lot of what they did in Eastern Europe, and are maybe now treating the whole world as a bigger version of Eastern Europe.

        China remembers a lot of failed empires, and thinks in terms of always having enough left in the rubble for a new empire to be built. Also, the empires that are anything in their eyes are centered in a few locations, and involve a particular population. Again, they are treating the whole world the way the Han run empires treated neighboring populations.

        These populations shape the strategic posture of polities in certain ways, treating the world as they treated their historic neighbors. But, and this is vitally important, this is not physically guaranteed to have the outcomes they had with their historical neighbors.

        Forex, it should physically be possible to kill very many of the Han living on the mainland. If enough of these Han are dead, the ‘next dynasty’ assumption in the culture would seem to be voided.

        Americans are outnumbered tens to one, apparently. This is not the traditional balance of power with regard to our neighbors.

        Right now, all of these lunatic polities/populations are crammed into a phone booth, rubbing against each other. Everyone in most of the populations seems likely to have some experiences, going forward, and I think these might be very new for a lot of people.

        PS: Speaking to an American audience, I would add that our position is better if we make the contest one of technical systems focused on the application of nuclear warfare. Totalitarian governments are worse at implementing complex technical systems. Biological warfare and information warfare are perhaps contests we will enjoy less.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. PPS: As an American, I identify as crazy. Both in seeing that American culture is crazy by the standards of most other cultures, making me crazy, and in being crazy by the standards of American culture. I have some congenital mental health issues, which can be managed but not fixed, and then I tried to imprint on a flavor of past American culture that turned out never actually existed. Then there was my attempt to assimilate the madness that made the Republican Romans somewhat successful…

        Liked by 1 person

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