Grab Bag: August 2017

Michael Bloomberg vastly overstates gun deaths, a lawmaker in Ohio wants elected officials to carry, and a few stories from Team Rubicon to reinforce basically all of July.

1.) Bloomberg. Did you know that more Americans have been killed in the US than the entire history of military deaths (yes, including Civil War and WW2.) Of course, the Civil War alone saw upwards of 600,000 deaths.

It has all of the characteristics of a new anti-gun campaign; simultaneously over-dramatic and wrong on a historic level.

2.) Ohio. Following incidents around the Ohio Capitol (and of course the Scalise shooting), a lawmaker in Ohio is proposing to allow elected officials to carry in government buildings. The bill’s sponsor, State Representative Nino Vitale, said “there’s so much of a hyper-charged negative culture that people think if they disagree with someone’s viewpoint on something the way to resolve that is take a gun out on someone and take their life.”

He notes that, while no direct threats have been made on his life, there have been incidents of Vitale being followed into committee rooms, the Capitol parking garage, and having “less than pleasant” (a rather obvious euphemism) conversations.

It should come as almost no surprise, however. In a culture as outrage-driven as this one, where death threats are almost the default setting in any outrage-mob gathering, it stands to reason that legislators and other elected officials would want to be legally able to defend themselves. The Scalise shooting made that blatantly obvious.

3.) Team Rubicon. There is a story from disaster relief/veteran assistance network Team Rubicon that I want to bring up this week as we get into August. Midnight Run: Improvement, and it’s prequel from last year, Lethal Ignorance, were built around the simple concept that stronger people lead to stronger communities. To reinforce that point, I with to turn to three reports from the blog of TR, all of which highlight that concept in a different light. Whereas both Improvement and Lethal Ignorance were built around the individual, these reports are more about the experience in a team environment helping with disaster relief. (Severe weather being point 7 in Lethal Ignorance.)

The report, titled “Service is a Lifestyle“, is written by Army veteran Jeremy Gaal. It is a short, quick read from Salt Lake City, Utah on how assisting in disasters (which, for the record, is not limited to military and first responders, Team Rubicon also is open to civilians.) both is much appreciated by the survivors and is immensely gratifying to the people involved.

4.) Severe weather. It is worth noting that we are entering what WTVT FOX13 meteorologist Paul Dellegatto calls “prime time for tropical development.” Thankfully, we got through most of summer with nothing like the Georgia tornado outbreak. However, the key lesson from the Georgia outbreak, considering that Georgia isn’t in Tornado Alley (nor are the three states to the west of Georgia, for that matter), and that it was the middle of winter, “it can’t happen here” is dead wrong.

As we wrap up the summer months, it is prudent to be aware of severe weather, and the final weeks of the 2017 hurricane season.

And if you have the ability, whether with Red Cross, Team Rubicon, or CERT, try to get involved. As with Lethal Ignorance and Improvement; the reasoning is the same. Improve yourself, to be ready to help those around you.

Stay alert. Stay informed. Stay free.

Normalized 2017

This week, we’re back to the news. Starting with incredible news about concealed carry permits, and a discussion on the irony of anti-gunners suddenly finding issue with licensing systems they once supported. Also, 2 anti-gun mayors have been charged with corruption.

1.) Permits by-the-numbers. John Lott’s Crime Prevention Research Center has a new study out showing that there are 16.3 million CCW permits in the country. This, of course, is on the heels of a series of record-breaking months for CCW permit applications across the country. The report notes, in particular, the massive jump in permits from the start of former President Obama’s administration in 2007 to the start of President Trump’s administration earlier this year. In addition, the report notes the expansion of permitless carry, and how 1/3 of the new permit holders are women.

Despite all this, the crime rate has not surged with the rise in CCW permits. Presumably because nobody actually believes people are waiting to “legally” commit first-degree murder.

2.) Anti-gun response. Liberty Park Press has the new narrative from anti-gun types. Gun control groups used to support the idea of licensing, however it appears they no longer do so. Everytown For Gun Safety is apparently side-stepping this minor conflict in order to gin up fears about the idea of national reciprocity.

They always said we should treat guns like cars, but apparently that does not extend to the ability to cross state lines.

3.) Anti-gun mayors. Mayors Against Illegal Guns cannot seem to have people avoid being indicted on criminal charges. News this week of two Pennsylvania mayors being indicted on federal corruption charges. US attorney Louis Lappen, according to Guns.com, said “the mayor of Allentown and the former mayor of Reading charged in the two indictments unsealed today sold their offices to the highest bidder — violating the trust and confidence of the citizens of their cities. Both mayors, working with other corrupt officials and business-people, directed lucrative contracts to companies who agreed to provide campaign contributions in exchange for work.”

Stricter laws for the rest of us to follow, and (at least allegedly) for them to circumvent to their benefit.

The modern anti-gun movement in a nutshell — or at least in a court document.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Improvement

I think it was (NSFW) John Burk who observed that you can go on about the dangers of smoking, and nobody will question it.

But bring up the scientifically-proven damage obesity does, and you engage in "body-shaming."

The trouble is that it isn't sustainable. That isn't sustainable to the individual, and it eventually has an impact on the country as a whole. To the individual, it leads to a series of medical issues ranging from skeletal to cardiovascular. For the country, the damage it does to the individual puts increased pressure on the healthcare system, and limits the number of people able to enter military service. (Consider that the minimum body fat percentage right now is 28% for men and 36% for women.)

This week, we update Lethal Ignorance with news on CPR, and continue the theme of physical fitness with a look at the costs, on multiple levels, of obesity and a chronically unhealthy nation.

1.) Lethal Ignorance. There is one major update to Lethal Ignorance. For many years, CPR has been taught as a combination of chest compression and breaths into the patient's mouth. The new way of CPR being taught by organizations like the American Red Cross is hands-only CPR. This has become the "main" way for basic CPR to be taught, although the changes appear to have been mulled since at least 2015.

2.) Baseline. There has never been a study on Earth that has shown the benefits of obesity. This is primarily because there aren't any for a study to show. With conditions ranging from osteoarthritis and gout, to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. According to the American Council on Exercise, women with 32% and men with 25% body fat and higher are considered obese. The National Institutes of Health suggests that roughly 2 in 3 adults are considered obese as well. (Although they use the BMI system which is controversial at best.) This leads to the image that something that is proven to be extremely destructive is both widespread and apparently accepted.

Worse, it seems this has led a number of Americans to give up entirely on losing weight.

The CDC says that obesity leads to $147 billion in healthcare costs across the country, and also leads to a smaller pool of people capable of joining the military.

3.) Solutions. Given that rather bleak outlook, what can be done about it? In 2010, Nike and about 70 other organizations (including the American College of Sports Medicine), developed a project targeting kids under the name "Designed To Move." The name is derived from the rather obvious fact that the human body was never designed to be sedentary for the majority of the time one is alive. It's actually a remarkable campaign, and while Nike obviously has something to gain from it, they also have a ton of clout as an athletics company. (That, and people looking to make a living by serving the people around them is the basis of capitalism. If the country's health improves as a result, how can that be anything except an added bonus?)

Over in the UK, the government has taken the step of recognizing parkour as a legitimate sport. This opens the door to possibly being taught in schools or, at the very least, getting government backing as a way to get young people active. The Minister of Sport for the UK described it as a "fun, creative and innovative option," according to the BBC. (For the unfamiliar, think Mirror's Edge, or even American Ninja Warrior, the latter of which has led to a ton of gyms popping up across the US.)

Also, at least for the moment, we have seen fitness become a very public movement by way of Crossfit. Despite Crossfit's reputation for its weak coaching regimen and high injury percentage, Crossfit has exploded across the country, including an annual nationally televised event. It has made a game out of fitness, and regardless of one’s opinions on it, it has changed the shape of the fitness world forever.

3.) Benefits. There is an excellent site called BarBend. They are a news service for the strength sports (CrossFit, Weightlifting, Powerlifting, etc.) and have written a number of fantastic articles on the subject of the benefits of strength training. Rather than link to them within the writing, as is the Midnight Run style, I would like to instead simply list them. It's a lot of reading, but I believe all of them to be worth reading. (And, frankly, this section will have a heavy bias towards weightlifting, which works as that is also a major part of CrossFit as discussed earlier.)

5 Underappreciated Benefits of Lifting Weights
Why I Turn to Strength Training for Comfort and Clarity
The Most Important Life Lessons You Learn From Powerlifting

But, outside of Barbend's articles, there are also studies showing the benefits of exercise and its ability to lower the risk of possibly lethal cardiovascular diseases.

In Denver, there is an effort to use weightlifting as a way to fight the rise of veteran suicides. (The emotional boost of exercise is extremely well-documented, so this is a natural evolution and an excellent way to combat the issue.)

4.) Bottom line. Put bluntly, the benefits of getting more physically active are as visible as the dangers of not. Burk's comments on "fat shaming" are depressingly relevant and accurate. There is simply too many downsides to being in a chronically unhealthy state; on an individual level, a national level, and an economic level.

Health insurance (if not healthcare) is becoming a major topic of discussion again. The complexities of the insurance debate are well beyond the scope of this Run. This week's Midnight Run instead proposes a solution to the problem that is simple, personal, and has proven long-term benefits. If the goal of the insurance debate is to decrease costs of care, would it not sense to free up resources by not requiring care in the first place? Simple supply and demand, therefore, would bring costs down on their own, as medical resources come under decreased stress (without a trace of irony). In addition to the obvious benefit of taking care of a massive problem with a beautifully simple solution, the mental, emotional, and physical benefits of exercise (whether aerobic, team sports, or weightlifting), make the trade beneficial to both the nation as a whole, and the individual. What's in it for me" is responded to by the mountain of medical science proving exactly what's in it for the individual.

As with Lethal Ignorance, the solutions proposed are both incredibly simple, and based solely on the individual. Whether through optimstic movements such as Designed To Move or more hard-edged takes like that of Burk (and even Milo Yiannopoulos), however, the issue of a chronically unhealthy nation simply must be dealt with. It will take effort, well beyond simply calling a representative. However, the impact of a nationwide movement built around physical training will be much more immediate and considerably more beneficial for all involved. Someone who is in excellent physical condition is more than able to help the people around him.

As with Lethal Ignorance, that is the thesis of this week's Run; improve yourself, and stand ready to improve the lives of those around you.

We return to the news next week.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Megaphone

Free speech is becoming expensive. Having the wrong opinions according to a mob can result in slander, threats, and in some cases being in physical/financial danger. The irony is that the forces who use those tools generally do so to silence opposition. 

There was no better example of this than the Berkeley riots that were targeting an event by conservative speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, which itself led to additional “Antifa” (unironic shorthand for “anti-fascist”) protests in Berkeley that resulted in a counter-protester taking a bike lock to the face (May, 2017), and became known as the “Battle of Berkeley” (David, 2017). In the space of a month, Berkeley had become known as a “battleground for free speech” (Bailey, 2017)

That there is even a “battle for free speech” in this age is embarrassing, but not surprising. We have seen a progressively desperate and violent group of political activists who have no tolerance for opposing viewpoints, and will go to any lengths necessary to silence them. From the bizarre protests during President Trump’s inauguration, to the violence in Berkeley, to the threats and intimidation against those with incorrect opinions online; we have seen a new and somewhat terrifying front open in the fight over free speech.
But this isn’t limited to merely political speech. Those of (certain) faiths have also found themselves as targets. Religious freedom, one of the foundations of our country, has also come under incredible attack (ironically using the Constitution, specifically a badly misinterpreted concept of “separation of church and state.”

However, those looking to defend free speech, those looking to work around groups like antifa, have become extremely powerful in their own right. They have become very effective at getting antifa protesters unmasked (as seen during the bike lock incident), and finding holes in their tactics. Additionally, people like Milo have self-published entire books that have gone on to become bestsellers (and, frankly, essential reading on this topic). People like Carl Benjamin (AKA Sargon of Akkad) have produced incredible videos on everything from Antifa’s failings, to their post-Berkely tactics (Thinkery, 2017).
This week, the Midnight Run looks at the overall battle for free speech. We’ll look at some of the groups involved, the people opposing them, and will look at the future of free speech in this country. We will examine the First Amendment, and the quickly-changing definition of hate speech. 

The Run will zero in on the work of Antifa, as they are the principal group that seems hellbent on silencing their opposition through threats and (more often) violence.
Point-blank: We will look at why those seeking to censor, oppress, and silence free speech are doomed to fail.
1.) Berkeley: Baseline. If there is one event that can be said to have been a true flashpoint in this fight, it would be the riots that came after Milo’s speech at University of California Berkeley. Milo had looked to speak at Berkeley back in February, but ended up cancelling amid riots that led to $100,000 in damage, and even a trump supporter being pepper sprayed (Park, 2017). It is worth noting that Milo had already said he would return to Berkeley (Wan 2017) within days of the protests. Milo would, weeks later, see a podcast clip of him discussing pedophiles “leaked” to the media. The clip initially set off a ton of outrage, but it had eventually A.) been traced to Evan McMullan, a failed 2016 Presidential candidate who has been struggling for relevance since his disastrous campaign, and B.) completely out-of-context.
Milo handled the backlash relatively well, although it had cost him his job at Breitbart among other things. The events became framed as an effort to silence a controversial speaker on one hand, and a former Presidential candidate with an axe to grind and a ruined reputation on the other. On February 21st, Milo announced that he intended to self-publish, continue to speak at colleges, and essentially attempt to embarrass those who had attempted to sink him (Breitbart News, 2017).
A few months later, Ann Coulter, another conservative speaker, was slated to appear at Berkeley. Threats of protests, among other things, eventually led to the University cancelling her appearance. The cancellation was met with almost universal criticism, even from people who vehemently disagreed with Coulter’s politics (Moran, 2017).. This hit a remarkable apex when HBO host Bill Maher, a frequent critic of Coulter, referred to the backlash to and the cancellation of Coulter’s speech as “the liberals’ version of book burning” (Baragona, 2017).
2.) Berkeley: Aftermath. However, the protests are running into considerable consequences for the participants, and have even led to some of them being publicly identified and charged with assault. It was following the events of Berkeley, and the stunning number of antifa protestors who managed to get arrested, when Sargon of Akkad posted an excellent piece on how the group was adjusting their tactics and also mocking their need for leadership while “still being anarchist” (Thinkery, 2017). 
Additionally, one of the people who had been involved in the protests, Eric Clanton, was identified by users of the popular forum 4chan and was arrested in May on felony assault charges after throwing a bike lock at a counter-protester (Fraley, 2017). This opened a new avenue in countering violent protesters intent on silencing their opposition, by providing an example of the very real consequences of attacking the wrong person during the protest.
So far as I can tell, the majority of the protests around the area abated soon afterwards. (Which doesn’t speak too well to the protesters convictions, either. Breaking stuff apparently being a ton of fun until you get felony charges.) Though whether it will stay that way when either Coluter or Milo return remains to be seen.
3.) Wisconsin. We need legislation to tell people that A.) speech that offends them isn’t hate speech and B.) other people have a right to different opinions. That says a lot more than it should, doesn’t it?
Anyway, while we consider how many steps backward that represents, let’s talk about the legislation itself. Ib Wisconsin, we have legislation that would expel virtually any student, faculty, or staff that aims to disrupt or prevent speeches. (Morse, 2017)
There isn’t much more to say on that, but it is worth noting that we are finally starting to see people stand up to protests and what the ACLU has called the “heckler’s veto” (Rowland, 2017). 

Combined with the resistance we have seen from the likes of Sargon, Milo, and others; we are seeing a remarkably fast collapse of Antifa’s and others’ attempts to silence opposition.
4.) Hate Speech. As if that wasn’t enough, we now have a SCOTUS ruling saying that the First Amendment does not exclude what some regard as “hate speech” (which is itself a term with a very fast-changing definition). What’s more, it was a rare unanimous decision, across both the left and right of the Court. The case is Matal v. Tam, and revolved around an Asian-American band called “The Slants.” The Trademark Office said they could not trademark the name as it was “disparaging.” (Keeping in mind that the band was fully aware of what the name meant.)
On a semi-related topic, Reason Magazine has an excellent video on the subject called “5 Cliches Used to Attack Free Speech” that is well worth your time and highlights a ton of convenient efforts to try to stiffle speech one person or another doesn’t like, but isn’t illegal….yet (Gillespie 2017).
5.) Bottom Line. Antifa and similar groups expect their targets to back away and essentially silence themselves out of fear. If that doesn’t happen, there is simply nothing else that can be done. As Antifa’s tactics become more drastic, but fail to silence anybody (Milo has gone self-published, and is looking at returning to Berkeley), their tactics continue to look progressively more desperate.
Additionally, they are giving their opponents exactly what they are trying to prevent them from getting: exposure. The Free Speech Movement has been able to both unify groups as disparate as the ACLU and Daily Wire, and expose the cult-like groupthink behind their opponents. (There is perhaps no better example of this than the hell caught by Laci Green after news emerged of her relationship to anti-SJW YouTuber Chris Ray Gun (“Feminist”, 2017).)
But all of this has made one thing very clear: the value of free speech. People on both sides of the political spectrum have found out, and quite quickly, how fragile the ability to speak one’s mind actually is. What this has triggered (no pun intended) is an incredible movement centered on people fighting not to prove the other side wrong, but rather to allow the other side to speak (regardless of how one side views the other). Far from being able to enact whatever agenda they had in mind, antifa and similar groups are now facing a united front that they weren’t expecting and have no possible counter to.
The grand irony of those looking to stamp out free speech is that they prove, time and again, through their words and actions, that they need their opponents to shut up, as they have no rational opposition, clearly have no interest in debate, and are unable to defend their position outside of violence and slander.
It is fitting that even the anti-free speech groups are fully aware that they have nothing to say in the first place. And it is that lack of worthwhile beliefs (that even they’re keenly aware of), combined with their utter desperation, that will doom them.
Next week, we update Lethal Ignorance from last year. We update new developments in CPR training, first aid standards, and we take a look at physical fitness standards in this country (such as they are).

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Bailey, Chelsea. “How Berkeley Became a New Battleground for Free Speech.” NBCNews.com. April 22, 2017. Accessed July 11, 2017. http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/how-berkeley-became-new-battleground-free-speech-n749536.
Baragona , Justin. “‘The Liberals’ Version of Book Burning’: Bill Maher Goes Off on Berkeley Over Coulter Backlash.” Mediaite. April 22, 2017. Accessed July 12, 2017. http://www.mediaite.com/tv/the-liberals-version-of-book-burning-maher-goes-off-on-berkeley-over-coulter-backlash/.
Breitbart News. “FULL REMARKS: MILO Delivers Speech at Press Conference Amid Video Scandal.” Breitbart. February 21, 2017. Accessed July 12, 2017. http://www.breitbart.com/big-journalism/2017/02/21/full-remarks-milo-delivers-speech-press-conference-amid-video-scandal/.
“Feminist Laci Green, popular internet host, harassed over relationship with controversial YouTuber.” The New York Times. June 08, 2017. Accessed July 14, 2017. http://nytlive.nytimes.com/womenintheworld/2017/06/08/feminist-laci-green-popular-internet-host-harassed-after-announcing-relationship-with-controversial-youtuber/.
Fraley, Malaika. “Former professor suspected in Berkeley bike-lock attack enters plea in Oakland court.” The Mercury News. May 29, 2017. Accessed July 12, 2017. http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/05/26/professor-suspected-in-berkeley-bike-lock-attack-arraigned-in-oakland-court/.
French, David. “The Battle of Berkeley.” National Review. April 17, 2017. Accessed July 11, 2017. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/446810/berkeley-riot-leftist-mob-violence-undermines-rule-law.
May, Patrick. “Furor over alleged anti-Trump bike-lock attacker goes viral.” The Mercury News. May 27, 2017. Accessed July 11, 2017. http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/05/26/furor-over-anti-trump-bike-lock-attacker-goes-viral/.

Moran, Rick. “Even Some Prominent Liberals Voice Support for Coulter Speech at Berkeley.” PJ Media. April 22, 2017. Accessed July 12, 2017. https://pjmedia.com/trending/2017/04/22/even-some-liberals-voice-support-for-coulter-speech-at-berkeley/.
Morse, Brandon. “New GOP bill would punish students or faculty who interfere with free speech.” TheBlaze. April 27, 2017. Accessed July 13, 2017. http://www.theblaze.com/news/2017/04/27/new-gop-bill-would-punish-students-or-faculty-who-interfere-with-free-speech/.
Park, Madison, and Kyung Lah. “Berkeley protests of Yiannopoulos caused $100,000 in damage.” CNN. February 02, 2017. Accessed July 12, 2017. http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/01/us/milo-yiannopoulos-berkeley/index.html.
Rowland, Lee. “We All Need to Defend Speech We Hate.” American Civil Liberties Union. April 25, 2017. Accessed July 13, 2017. https://www.aclu.org/blog/speak-freely/we-all-need-defend-speech-we-hate.
Shapiro, Ben. “GOOD: Supreme Court Unanimously States That ‘Hate Speech’ Is Still Free Speech.” Daily Wire. June 19, 2017. Accessed July 13, 2017. http://www.dailywire.com/news/17690/good-supreme-court-unanimously-states-hate-speech-ben-shapiro.
Thinkery, The,. “Antifa’s Battle Tactics’. YouTube video, 24:18. Posted April 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBrmgPVP-_8
Gillespie, Nick, and Todd Krainin. “5 Clichés Used to Attack Free Speech.” Reason.com. June 16, 2017. Accessed July 14, 2017. http://reason.com/reasontv/2017/06/16/five-cliches-attack-free-speech.
Wan, William. “Milo’s appearance at Berkeley led to riots. He vows to return this fall for a week-long free-speech event.” The Washington Post. April 26, 2017. Accessed July 12, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/04/26/milos-appearance-at-berkeley-led-to-riots-he-vows-to-return-this-fall-for-a-week-long-free-speech-event/?utm_term=.fcda1e80f12f.
Volokh, Eugene. “Opinion | Supreme Court unanimously reaffirms: There is no ‘hate speech’ exception to the First Amendment.” The Washington Post. June 19, 2017. Accessed July 14, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/06/19/supreme-court-unanimously-reaffirms-there-is-no-hate-speech-exception-to-the-first-amendment/?utm_term=.a7129d1fcb9a

Blowback: Foundations

What happens when a country forgets its history? What about when a country allows its history to be exploited for political gain and discarded for political correctness? Over the last few years, Americans have gotten a crash course in answering both questions. Classical literature, stories that have held their relevance for decades (in some cases centuries), are now discarded out of fear they might cause offense. American History (and civics in general), once seen as essential subjects for an informed and intelligent citizenry, has been edited at best and twisted for exploitation at worst. In some cases, American history has become completely optional, even for those looking to major in history at some universities.

It is perhaps a thoroughly modern phenomenon that the story of America’s founding; a story of impassioned debates on every conceivable topic, of deep patriotism and against-all-odds courage, of breaking free from a tyrannical regime by directly fighting it, and where fighting for your beliefs was tantamount to treason; has been largely reduced to “they were all slaveowners.” One of the richest, most unique stories the world has ever seen reduced largely to a Tweet for us to conveniently discard the whole of it.

And the parts that cannot be exploited are being discarded. From the 2016 need to erase virtually any reference to the Confederate flag (which culminated at, of all places, Stone Mountain, Georgia and the iTunes App Store), to the aforementioned need to censor “offensive” classic literature whose only crime is reflecting the time in which it was created.

As Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen wrote in their landmark book, A Patriot’s History of the United States, “if the story of America’s past is told fairly, the result cannot be anything but a deepened patriotism, a sense of awe at the obstacles overcome, the passion invested, the blood and tears spilled, and the nation that was built.” (Schweikart, xv) This, in a nutshell, is the spirit both of this year’s Blowback and the few updates to follow.

A warts-and-all examination of American history puts to rest quite a few concepts that those looking to exploit it for political gain cling to. For example, while it is true that the Founders were slaveowners, they set up an environment where slavery could not survive. It shows that the Founders took issue with the State choosing religion, but not with those of deep religious faith being in government and governing in line with their beliefs. (Indeed, many of the Founders believed a solid moral core was essential to good governance.)

Last year, Blowback returned to the Revolutionary Era to focus on the history of the United States Flag, and the thinking behind the Second Amendment. This year, we look at the philosophy behind the revolution, and the intense debate that led to the formation of our Republic.. This year we look at the incredible effort, blood, and cost of forging a new nation built around the concept of individual liberty. This year, we continue the discussion on what has become a remarkably obscure part of the American story; our foundations.

1.) Baseline. It isn’t too hard to imagine why one would want to get out from under an absolute monarchy. The Declaration of Independence listed eighteen reasons why its authors wanted out from underneath the British Empire. Among these include refusing to pass “Laws of immediate and pressing importance,” that he “dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people,” and he “has made Judges dependent on his Will alone” (“Declaration of Independence”). In other words, in the eyes of the Founders, he was at best an incompetent leader, and at worst dissolved legislative bodies that opposed him and exercised near total control of the justice system. It was these things, and many others, that led to the formation of what was then known as the United Colonies of America.

Alongside the Declaration of Independence was the Articles of Confederation, adopted (after over a year of debate), in 1777. The Articles, lacking any real enforcement mechanism, fell apart almost immediately, Lacking any real enforcement mechanism, and lacking any ability to force the colonies to help pay for national defense, the Articles arguably managed to accomplish little more than coming close to collapsing the government before it started. The lack of funding from the colonies, plus the lack of an enforcement mechanism generally, made funding the army almost impossible to the point of near-mutiny (Extra Credits “The Articles of Confederation – I” 2017).

It was in this context that our current Constitution was formed. Built specifically to address the numerous weaknesses in the Articles, and essentially to give the central government (at least some) power, the Constitution still became the subject of fierce debate. What was originally approved by the Congress in 1787 wasn’t ratified until 1789 (“United States Constitution”). While we (mostly) accept the Constitution as it is now, the truth is that many states came fairly close to not ratifying the document at all (LevinTV 2016). Some saw what we know as the Bill of Rights to be completely unnecessary as the rights went without saying in that time. (Of course, now, it is good that they are listed in our founding documents considering efforts to take almost all of them out.).

2.) Debates. But that brief history of three major documents glosses over that what we take for granted almost 240 years later nearly killed the country before it began. The trouble with the Articles was that the national government had no power, and this was in large part due to the fact that a lot of colonies, having just fought an all-powerful central government, didn’t want to be ruled by a different all-powerful central government. (To quote Mel Gibson’s Benjamin Martin in the 2000 film The Patriot, “why should I trade one tyrant, three thousand miles away for three thousand tyrants, one mile away?”)

Documents from Benjamin Franklin, among others, show us that even the concepts of proportional representation (in the House of Representatives) and the idea of a bicameral (two-chamber) legislature threatened to collapse the Conventions. George Mason was the principal proponent for what we now call the Bill of Rights, fearing an all-powerful national government with no protections against infringement on the rights of the citizenry (“Creating the United States: Convention and Ratification”) As the Library of Congress writes on their website, “diverging plans, strong egos, regional demands, and states’ rights made solutions difficult” for the Constitutional Convention.

Consider that the debates for either document lasted over a year, under an unconscionable amount of pressure from external and internal forces. Even leaving aside the pressures of the Revolutionary War surrounding them, what we have today is the product of fierce debate and endless reiterations, all built around the role of government and the protection of individual rights. It is safe to say that no detail was left ignored in the creation of the Republic.

3.) The War Itself. Of course, we cannot “leave aside” the pressures of the war, which were felt at every point along the creation of the founding documents. Recall last year, in Blowback: Origins, that we discussed how Georgia wanted to make taking up arms in support of the Revolution a prerequisite for citizenship (Halbrook 2008, 149-150). Additionally, as the military was already outgunned and outnumbered by virtue of their opponent being the largest military force in the world, any and all setbacks were immeasurably more damaging. From Congress, the army faced a complete lack of funding. But on the battlefield, George Washington’s army faced everything from chronic shortages (to the point where pillaging became an option), to collapsing morale, all amplified by a currency Congress had over inflated to the point of worthlessness. (Extra Credits “The Articles of Confederation – II” 2017).

While today, the idea of a revolution is made to sound extremely easy (see also the nascent 3% movements all over the Internet), as David McCullough writes in 1776, the “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” (McCullough 2006, 294)

4.) Modern thinking. The book 1776 is 386 pages long. It discusses, from a military perspective, the intense struggle that those attempting to break from an oppressive, all-powerful empire endured. Meanwhile, countless documents exist showing the intense debate over how the country should operate, and how the freedoms they had fought and died for would be safeguarded. (Not created by the new government, but safeguarded.)

The birth of our Republic is a rich and powerful story. The philosophies that drove the Founders are no less relevant now than they were at the time. It is, therefore, baffling at best and insulting at worst to completely disregard all of it; reducing one of the greatest stories in history to a Tweet for political purposes. Put another way, through the wonders of modern thinking, two decades of history have been reduced to a sentence or two, and only when political motives warrant acknowledging history at all.

History was not designed to be ignored, it was designed to be studied. History is the ultimate guide of what has worked, and what has not. Far from removing, ignoring, or flat-out censoring our history, we should instead attempt to rediscover it. Learning from the Revolution, the ideas that drove the creation a Republic built around the concept of defending individual liberty, and the success that the Republic has seen as a result, can only benefit the country as a whole.

We are ignoring one of the greatest teachers we have, so that we may tell ourselves we are politically enlightened.
Those seeking to censor our history also tend to censor other ideas that they disagree with, but cannot argue against. Next week, we get into the (depressingly relevant) free speech movement.

Happy Independence Day.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

“Creating the United States: Convention and Ratification.” Convention and Ratification – Creating the United States | Exhibitions – Library of Congress. Library of Congress, 12 Apr. 2008. Web. 17 June 2017.

“Declaration of Independence.” Bill of Rights Institute. Accessed June 17, 2017. https://www.billofrightsinstitute.org/founding-documents/declaration-of-independence/.

Extra Credits. “The Articles of Confederation – I: Becoming the United States – Extra History.” YouTube video. Posted May 06, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6rHSiN0vKk&list=PLhyKYa0YJ_5A9iLoiK_KYiCNVsCT11vZ9&index=1.

Extra Credits. “The Articles of Confederation – II: Ratification – Extra History.” YouTube video. Posted May 13, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPLA_VPMsUg.

Halbrook, Stephen P. The founders Second Amendment: origins of the right to bear arms. Chicago, IL: Ivan R. Dee, 2008. Print.

LevinTV “LevinTV: Constitution Day Special.” YouTube video. Posted Sep 17, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtaSxeiqUg0

McCullough, David G. 1776. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2006. Kindle.

“The Articles of Confederation.” The Articles of Confederation: Primary Documents of American History (Virtual Programs & Services, Library of Congress). Accessed June 17, 2017. https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/articles.html.

Schweikart, Larry, and Michael Allen. A patriot’s history of the United States: from Columbus’s great discovery to America’s age of entitlement. New York, Sentinel, 2014.

“United States Constitution.” United States Constitution: Primary Documents in American History (Virtual Programs & Services, Library of Congress). Accessed June 17, 2017. https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/Constitution.html.

Grab Bag: July 2017

We’re going to meet again in just over three days, and Blowback is packed.

The side effect of both is that the week before tends to be rather light.

This week, a massive FBI report sinks more than a few anti-gun narratives, PA looks to allow staff at high schools to carry, and a note from Guns.com about an Italian immigrant who has become a big fan of our Second Amendment.

1.) FBI report. The FBI has published its definitive report into the shooting of Steve Scalise on June 14. The Alexandria report notes that the attacker had two guns on him, both of which accquired from an FFL (meaning a background check took place. In addition, the SKS rifle had been modified to accept detachable magazines. In other words, the shooter skirted what would be an “assault weapons ban” while also showing that universal background checks wouldn’t do much to stop something like the shooting from occurring, as those are merely the same background checks FFLs run, but in private sales.


2.) Guns in schools. The Pennsylvania Senate has approved a bill which would allow school employees to carry weapons given certain requirements. However, the bill still requires approval in the House, and the governor, Democrat Tom Wolf, is opposed to the measure.

The bill’s sponsor says it would allow school districts to protect children, an opponent read a letter by educators from Sandy Hook.

3.) Vianello. As we prepare for the 4th of July, I feel this is a good way to close until our meeting on the night of the 3rd. There is a really quick bit out on Guns.com about an Italian immigrant who came to the US a few years ago, and quickly began to get into firearms, and the history of the Second Amendment. He writes

The Second Amendment, like all the others, is one of the basic rights that every American in every state should defend. I am surprised at the disinformation campaign of the media and the propaganda against firearms and I hope the people of this great country never forget the importance of their right to bear arms.

He’s Italian, but he is also American.

We will discuss the Second Amendment, indeed the Constitution as a whole (and its predecessor), Monday night.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Mandate

Yet another “referendum on Trump” goes in Trump’s favor, a Sheriff in Florida strongly supports an armed citizenry, and the odds of a Conservative court for a generation. The Run is slowing down to prepare for July, so we will close with a few notes on this year’s July editions.

1.) Handel. What was hyped up beforehand as a referendum on Trump, a possible sign of trouble for Trump in 2018, and the first of many victories in “the resistance” to President Trump….ended up being none of that and exclusively in his favor. Karen Handel defeated Jon Ossoff in the race for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. The aftermath of which, alongside other “referendums on Trump” that didn’t pan out, led to Democrats trying to blame just about everybody for the loss except themselves. Surprisingly, one Ohio Democrat did observe that “our brand is worse than Trump.”

It also led to a now-famous still of stunned CNN anchors that came to encapsulate both the left’s and the media’s reaction to the Georgia 6th result.

2.) Grady Judd. Very, very few people have the blunt, deadpan style of Polk County, Florida sheriff Grady Judd. Famous for a 2015 press conference where he laid out exactly what would happen if someone drew down on his deputies, he extrapolated on his seriously anti-criminal message this week in an interview with WFTS. After the series of attacks we have seen around the world, Judd has taken the tack that he doesn’t want people to be “sitting ducks.” He notes that police, by nature, will have response times, and that citizens should be able to defend themselves in the intervening time.

He urged citizens to get a firearm, get a license to carry, “and if you need to shoot somebody, shoot them a lot.”

3.) SCOTUS. Reports are emerging this week that Justice Anthony Kennedy, largely regarded as the swing-vote in multiple SCOTUS cases, could be retiring as early as the close of this term. This would give President Trump a second nominee to appoint, and also would tip the balance (if Trump holds to his promises of conservative judges) of the Court significantly to the right for a generation.

It doesn’t take much to wargame exactly where that would lead. It would be a major boon to the survivalist, and indeed the liberty movement as a whole.

4.) Programming Notes: July. I tend to mix things up on occasion. Last year, July saw a series of digressions from the usual newsroom briefs. In addition to the traditional Blowback entry (focused on Independence Day), we discussed everything from First Aid and CPR in Lethal Ignorance, to the true meaning of the Second Amendment in Origins.

This year will follow a similar three-part structure, continuing and supporting Blowback’s original mission of celebrating Independence Day, and being a celebration of the country’s belief in individual liberty over state control, and the associated belief in self-reliance. We will start with Blowback on the night of July 3nd, which will focus on the debates that surrounded both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. We will move onto a discussion on the Free Speech movement, and those actively attempting to silence their opponents through violence among other tactics. We will close by, to the extent we can, updating Lethal Ignorance and expanding it to basic physical fitness (being physically able to handle threats being a key part of surviving them), and the collapsing standards thereof in this country.

This will also change the update schedule somewhat, with a primer for Blowback airing next Saturday, followed by Blowback itself on the 3rd. There will not be a Saturday update that week (Blowback is actually quite large this year, regardless). We return to the normal schedule on July 15th.

The founding documents of our nation, the battle for free speech, and an update to our massive discussion on First Aid and disaster survival; because there is considerably more to the fight for liberty than firearms.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.