Brujo Feo's Sendero

I'm a Libertarian. I support gun rights and gay rights; I support reproductive rights and recreational pharmaceutical rights. I support your right to privacy and your right to your own wallet. I'm against the draft, and taxes, and compulsory state "education." If you're not for liberty, what difference should it make to me which particular stripe of totalitarian you are? --Brujo Feo

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Location: Ventura, CA, United States

Monday, January 25, 2016

Rattus Frugivorus Rafinesque

You got rats on the west side
bed bugs uptown
What a mess this town's in tatters I've been shattered
My brain's been battered - splattered - all over Manhattan

“Shattered,” music and lyrics by Mick Jagger and Keith Richard
From “Some Girls,” the Rolling Stones, © 1978

* * * * * * * * * *

With apologies to Mssrs. Jagger and Richards, this is not the West Side of Manhattan, but the East End of Ventura. And yet the rats are the same.

This will be a story without any pictures. This is a story so gruesome that you will do just fine with your own ghastly imaginings of how it went down. In fact, this is such an ugly tale that I’m not even going to write it [on my Facebook page]. If you want to read the rest of it, you’re going to have to click through to my blog, over here, to do so.

But this isn’t really about the gore so much as it is about the butterfly effect that led to it. In fact, this is pretty much a perfect fucking storm of butterfly effects, all of which had to line up just so for it to happen at all.

And first, Imma haffa axe yua qwetchun...have you ever been just really happy to find out that your flight got delayed an hour? Because I sure as hell was.

OK. Now I’m going to describe all the little building blocks that had to line up just so to end up in rat brains splattered all over the place.

First, you have to know something about Little Miss Vector, my about-to-be three-years-old granddaughter. We are now in the business of finding things that we both like to do together. This week, it’s “jumping,” which involves finding any two flat surfaces one of which is several inches higher than the other, stepping up to the upper one, and jumping off onto the lower one, all the while cackling like complete idiots. This can go on for hours.

But another one is feeding the birds with two bird feeders that we have hanging from pine branches in the back yard. Little Miss Vector just LOVES feeding the birds. Every time we fill the feeders, a regular goddamned Mary Poppins moment it is. And this involves keeping a couple of twenty-pound bags of bird seed in the garage, right out in front of the godz and everybody, where one could easily see if they had been tampered with, as in ripped open by the yearly invasion of rats that like our attic just fine when it gets cold, as it does enough even here in Southern California during the winter months, and I imagine pretty much everywhere else too, except where it doesn’t and then I imagine that you just have rats year round.

So why was I happy about the flight delay? Well, I had a red-eye to catch out of LAX for Detroit Metro Thursday night. And what, I can just hear you thinking, kind of complete fucking moron would be flying to Detroit in the middle of winter to begin with? Well, it’s like this. I’m Vice-President and general counsel for a national martial-arts association, and one of our instructors, Mrs. van Z., a most excellent and loyal and true member of many years, was testing for her Seventh Dan certificate, which in our organization marks one’s ascendency to the status of Master, and being as how she has been a most excellent and loyal and true instructor, it doth behooveth me to show some respect by being there for her testing. Even if it means flying into goddamned Dee-troit in the middle of the goddamned winter.

So I had left myself plenty of time. Jump on the bike by 6:45 p.m. and motor down the 101 to the 405 and get to LAX by 8:15, a good two hours before my flight. So I run some errands, swing by the office to pick up the mail, and I’m back home shortly after five to finish packing and it’s out the do’ to the liqua’ sto’. All the time in the world.

So here’s the next little building block. Lupe, the girl (yes, she’s probably forty, but in Mexico we call them “chachas,” short for “muchachas”) who helps tidy up the house, is on her way out, and...she manages to snap off her only key to her car in the ignition switch. But she also manages to get both pieces out, so now I’m shifting into I-better-hurry-the-fuck-up mode, and do something about this. So I get her in the car and off to Green Thumb, the hardware and gardening store a few miles away, because now it’s quarter after five, and I can’t even think of the nearest real locksmith that might be open. And of course we hit every goddamned red light on the way, when twenty years ago we didn’t even have most of these traffic signals in this end of town.

And Al, the guy who works the key machine, Al is a damned miracle worker. He manages to strap both of the broken pieces in and cut what looks like a pretty good approximation of the dead one, and off we go. Because of course there’s no way to test it, because the stricken car is four miles away. But we get home and lo and behold, it does open the door and it does turn in the ignition, but no it won’t start the car, because of course it’s a “chipped” key with an anti-theft transponder, and I thought that just having the broken key next to it on her key-ring would be close enough for it to talk to the computer, but apparently it wants that chip right down in the damned key well, and I suppose that there are worse things to be wrong about, but now it’s twenty to six, and Green Thumb closes at six, and...

So I tell Lupe that she’s going to have to take my car and drive back there and buy a new transponder key, and have it cut like the one that was just done, and programmed, which Green Thumb does for fifty bucks, which is a hell of a deal, as the dealership will charge you about three hundred. But of course, as soon as she’s on her way, I call Al and find out that of course they don’t have that blank in stock, so I call Lupe and tell her to turn around, and she can drive my car for the next few days because I’m off to LAX on the motorcycle, until she can go to the “swami” on Saturday to get a new one, which is not some kind of guru but what Mexicans call the swap meet. But by the time that we take all of my golf stuff out of the trunk and put it in the house, and Lupe, who has been calling her husband all this time but he doesn’t answer and then she finally gets him on the phone and they decide that he’s going to come pick her up and she isn’t going to borrow my car after it’s like 6:15 and I’m beginning to get concerned about what’s going to happen if the 405 turns into a parking lot because after all, the nice weather lady on Channel 2, pretty and buxom as all TV weather ladies are now required by law to be, said that it might rain next week, which is the previously-agreed upon signal for drivers everywhere in Southern California to start smashing their cars into each other.

Now this isn’t really rush mode, not calling for true multi-tasking, like used to happen when I’d finish teaching one of the children’s classes out at the old studio in Goleta, and in order to take my place under the conductor’s baton in the pit orchestra at the Lobero Theater in Santa Barbara in time for the downbeat, I’d have to change out of my dobok and into my tuxedo while flogging my old Fiat Spyder at the kind of speeds one has to flog said Spyder at to get from Goleta to downtown Santa Barbara in about seven minutes. But I was, as we might say, on the clock at this point.

But now we need another piece of the puzzle. Over the holidays, mi novia’s son had come to visit. With his dog. And whereäs if he were flying solo, he could just stay in one of the perfectly serviceable guest bedrooms, with the dog, it was decided that he’d be happier in the little room off the garage, where no one would worry about the dog making a mess and shedding all over the place and scratching the hardwood floors. Which involved exiling mi novia’s new car from the garage to the driveway for the duration, so that the garage could be filled with all of the clothes and other things that should have gone to the thrift store ages ago, but which now live in the little room off to the side.

And this, in turn, meant that the two twenty-pound sacks of bird seed could be buried in said clothes, where no one would see the rats chew holes in them, apparently allowing their number to increase overnight from two or three to like two or three hundred, or so it seemed from listening to their little feet go pitter-pat at night, over the kitchen.

So I started setting rat traps, and collecting rats. Now, as it turns out, rats at our house like to be harvested best on Wednesdays and Thursdays. This is due to the fact that the trash goes out on Wednesday mornings, so unless you want a pretty good stench worked up by about Saturday, you have to throw them in a plastic bag and throw them in the freezer, in plenty of time to forget to take them out and put them in the trash the following Tuesday evening, so that you can have a freezer full of dead rats for weeks at a time.

So I realize that I better check the traps in the attic one more time. Sure enough, another one for the freezer, neck snapped clean through, so then I re-set the trap with a big smear of peanut butter and fold up the stairway ladder into the ceiling, and grab my suitcase and head for the door.
And I’m only about twenty minutes late at this point.

Now we’re close to the last few little Lego blocks we need to build this beast, and it’s time to select a couple that are specially coated with pure stupidity. First, the phone rings. If it had been an out-of-state number on the display, I would have let it go straight to voicemail, probably just some asshole salesman, but it’s a local number, so like a complete idiot I answer it. And it’s an old client that I haven’t spoken to in sixteen years, and he has a problem that I’m sure that I can help him with, but it takes me several minutes to get across to him that I’m late for the airport, and I can’t advise him until he faxes me various docs, etc.

And now I am good and late, but I can still make it up with the help of the godz and a good radar detector. So obviously, what is required is to pull out some truly military-grade stupidity. And I am just the guy to do it, and boy howdy do I know how. I hear the unmistakable “chUNK!” of a rat trap going off. So–do I say to myself that I’ll be back on Sunday, and it won’t have started to stink so bad by then? Do I resolve to call Lupe on the way to the airport and ask her to come deal with it? Oh, no. No sirree. It’s time to whip out the weaponized stupidity, so down comes the stairway ladder and up I go.

Now, before we meet our next contestant, this might be a good time to discuss the state of the art in rat traps.

Your two-dollar rat trap, like your Victor Easy Set or Metal Pedal, or your basic Tomcat or Catchmaster Rat Wooden Snap Trap 610PE, is made out of wood, and has a steel rod that goes over the killing hoop and into a pocket of some sort on the bait-carrying trip plate. And these are manufactured with approximately the tolerances of the bodywork on a ‘72 Ford Pinto, pursuant to a design that is every bit as reliable as the gas tank on that same vehicle. Meaning that if you don’t snap it shut on your fingers while trying to set it, or if it doesn’t go off from the vibrations attendant to walking it across the room and setting it down on your favorite rodent freeway, it’s probably not going to go off at all, no matter how madly the rats dance on it.

Ah, but here is where design, manufacturing and marketing converge to menace the local rodent population. As the saying goes, create a better rat trap, and the world will beats its brains out smashing in your door. Or something like that. What you need here is your five-dollar rat trap, like the Kness Big Snap-E Rat Trap, or my personal favorite, the Victor Powerkill Pro M144. These have a setting mechanism that keeps your fingers away from the business end, and a reliably calibrated tripping mechanism. And it is this type that I’m buying these days, because I like my fingers and I don’t like rats. At least not in the house. And these really do work much better. But not perfectly, which explains why this story exists in the first place. It has been noted that the problem with trying to make things idiot-proof is that they keep making better and better idiots. (That would appear to be a sub-text of this account, in fact.) And it seems that improvements in rat traps might be breeding faster, smarter rats.

We should probably also discuss the name of this story. There are two common rats in North America, the black rat, Rattus rattus, and the brown rat, Rattus norvegicus. Both are endemic in Southern California, which is no surprise because they’re endemic pretty much everywhere in the world. The black rat is also known as the tree rat, as it is arboreal, and typically enters houses through roof openings, preferring the attic. The brown rat, AKA the Norwegian rat, typically enters the house at ground level, and generally prefers staying at that level. But it’s not a hard and fast rule, and I’ve seen our rats both in the attic, and on the garage floor. And the names mean nothing; both species are found in every possible rat color. So one must look at secondary clues–the black rat is in general more slender (especially in the face), and has a relatively longer and more articulated tail. But the most obvious one is that the brown rat has smaller, more streamlined ears, whereäs those of the black rat tend to be considerably larger.

Judging by the corpsicles in my freezer, these are black rats, and of the three common subspecies, these seem to most match the description of Rattus frugivorus Rafinesque, the fruit rat, rather than the Alexandrine rat, Rattus alexandrinus Geoffroy, or Rattus rattus Linnaeus, also called simply the black rat, due to their coloration. (A good layman’s explanation of these distinctions can be found at And this makes sense in that we’re surrounded by orchards here–mainly citrus and avocado. Of course, it’s also entirely possible that we have tree rats in the attic AND Norwegian rats in the garage. A regular multi-cultural Rat Jamboree. And every last one of them is smart and strong and fast. And slippery.

Now we approach the grim part of the story. But first we need one little more piece of the puzzle, which explains why I couldn’t find my little .177-caliber air pistol, which I have used to dispatch rats in the past.

When this subdivision of tract homes was built in the early ’70s, on a landfill on the side of a hill, they decided, in their infinite wisdom, to save at least fourteen cents per house by burying the copper water supply lines directly in the concrete slab.

Unless you’ve worked in the trades, you probably have no idea what shit workmanship went into these shit cracker boxes. By comparison, we own a little rental house across town, that was built in 1946. The walls are plumb, the corners are square, and when you open a door, just a crack or all the way or anywhere in between, the door stays wherever your hand left it. But your ’70s tract home shares none of these desirable features. The walls aren’t plumb, the corners aren’t square, and open a door partway and chances are that it will swing open or slam shut. I had a chance to see how this worked in the early ’80s, when I was a union sheet-metal worker. I worked mostly on the industrial and military side of HVAC, where we were expected to pay attention to the way that we built things, but every once in a while, when a major job wound down and there wasn’t another one to go out on yet, I would get sent out on a residential crew, where besides HVAC I would often be called upon to do “architectural” sheet metal–roof flashings around chimneys and other penetrations, and of course rain gutter. So one time I’m getting ready to hang some gutter, and the foreman sees me pull out a measuring tape to get the length exact. And he yells at me...”what the FUCK do you think you’re doing?” When I explained, he informed me that Rule Number One of residential construction was: “Slash, gash, and dash. And NEVER look back.”

So when they built this subdivision of tract homes on a landfill on the side of a hill, and put the copper piping directly in the slab, well, of course the concrete slabs of the entire subdivision have been slowly surfing downhill towards the Pacific ever since. A process only hastened by the occasional earthquake. Even ones not big enough to feel–of which there are many–cause the copper and concrete to work against each other. And this is not a battle that favors the copper. Especially when the hard water we have here in Southern California is eating the pipes from the inside.

So the August before last, I feel a very warm spot under the hardwood floors which we had recently put in at great expense. And in about the time it takes for me to realize what that means, I realize that the hardwood floors are floating on a sea of heated water, as the glue dissolves. In a short time the wood swells and begins to burst up. Luckily, this is covered by insurance, but it means that the first thing that has to happen is that ServiceMaster has to come and pack up pretty much everything that we own, and truck it across town to some warehouse, so that the crews can come in and tear up the entire hardwood floor, and start over again. But first this process requires me to hear probably the dumbest question I’ve ever heard from an insurance adjuster. And trust me, as a lawyer who represents injured people I’ve heard some doozies. If we want them to dig up the concrete at the break, patch the pipe, and re-bury it in concrete, well, that’s all covered by insurance. But if we want to kick in four hundred bucks, they’ll cut off that pipe where it enters the house in the garage, and run PEX up through the attic and down through a wall to a manifold where the broken pipe originally was connected, which is where it distributes the hot water to the two bathrooms.

Now let me get this straight...over four hundred bucks, you want to repair a tiny piece of a rotted pipe, and re-bury it, and put in new hardwood floors, so that in about a year it can break six inches away from the repair, so that we can do this all over again?

So of course we go for the PEX, but it takes them a year to replace all of the floors and get us moved back in, and six months after that, we still have about a hundred boxes to go through. Which is why I have no idea where the air pistol is.

So up the ladder I go, turn on the light, and there is one very dazed but very alive rat, with nothing caught in the trap but one front paw. And yes, he is holding his head kind of funny at an angle, and yes, it does look a bit misshapen, like maybe the killing bar whacked him good and hard on the way down, and maybe he was about to die anyway. But what I can’t have is him reviving enough to yank his paw out and crawl off to die somewhere where we’ll never find him. Except with our noses. And I have no idea how long it might be before that happens. So I realize two things. One: I need to kill this poor bastard right fucking now, and two: I need to do this in as quick and painless a manner as possible. For the rat, I mean–I’ve already got a pretty good idea that “painless” is receding pretty quickly as a descriptor for the rest of MY day. Oh, actually THREE things...did I mention that I have a plane to catch, sixty-five miles away at LAX?

So...I go to where I think the air pistol SHOULD be, but of course it isn’t. And this is where we get hardcore stupid. I immediately think of getting a .22 LR target pistol out of the safe and shooting him between the eyes. But we have neighbors close all around, and the last thing I need as I’m making my escape is the cops knocking on the door, and smelling burned powder at the same time that I’m steadfastly denying any “discharge of a firearm in a populated area,” which is what they call that particular misdemeanor in these parts. Which is, of course, a best-case scenario. The way cops are these days, I’m more likely to realize that they’re here from the rumble of a diesel engine as they park their APC, followed shortly by the sound of breaking glass, and a flash-bang or three. Although that might be a bit melodramatic, seeing as how it’s mostly white folks that live around here.

In retrospect, what I SHOULD have done is gotten the .22, dropped a chunk of softwood in behind him (because it would be REALLY unfortunate if a ricochet took out the new pressurized PEX behind him), set off the alarm on the mini-van in the driveway, shot him in time with the horn, turned off the alarm, and Bob’s your uncle.

But NO...that would have required effective cogitation. So instead, I think about all of the tools in my giant tool chests in the garage, and I decide that this situation will be best served by a pair of about fourteen-inch channel locks. Grab his neck and snap it with one clean squeeze, right?

Well, short answer: WRONG. Have I mentioned that rats are SLIPPERY? And they really have no particular fondness for being grabbed by the neck. So the first attempt, no matter how dazed he might be, is easily evaded. And the second one launches him on a very pretty arc up in the air, trap and all, and down through the hatch of the ladder I’m standing on, where he and the trap hit the floor eight feet below...which only serves to free him from the trap. A few more abortive attempts with the channel locks, and even I am smart enough to realize that I might need a different tool.

It is time for the four-pound, short-handled, “baby sledge.”

Yes, dear readers, if you’re going to weaponize stupidity, THAT is the weapon that you want to weaponize it with. And really, at that point, what were my options? The chainsaw? The oxy-acetylene torch?

So I run–no telling how long he’ll be dazed–to the garage, and grab the sledge, and a piece of newspaper. I have to make at least some attempt to keep the Technicolor™ bits confined to the theater of operations, yes? I throw the newspaper over him, and WHAM! I nail him good.

This serves to motivate him, and out he comes running. So I whomp him again. Oh, but did I mention that they’re slippery? The hammer catches him good, and yet still it slides off him and makes a nice little crater in the brand-new hardwood floor. And a second, smaller one, as it bounces. Nothing that you would ever see unless you were looking for it, and in a spot where it is usually covered by a Persian rug anyway. In years to come, no doubt, my darling granddaughter will gleefully tell her playmates: “This is where my sweet old Avo* blasted the brains out of a giant rat!”

Meanwhile, I can see him gathering what’s left of his strength to make one more bid for escape, so I line up Mjölnir one last time, as carefully as I can, straight and FLAT this time, and with one last stroke his head explodes and he moves no more.

So this is our tableau. I am holding a bloody hammer over a mostly decapitated rat. There is blood everywhere, on the wall, on the floor, and all over my arms. And we have tenderized brains here and there. One eye lies some distance away, still seeming to be focused on me, his nemesis. And did I mention that I have a plane to catch?

So now things have to happen very quickly. I look for an all-purpose cleaner, like Simple Green, but I don’t find any. Degreaser? Good enough, considering the nature of the residue I need to clean. So I get a roll of paper towel, pick up and toss the larger pieces. The rat? He goes in the freezer with his compadre. (Of course, I’ve been defaulting to “he” throughout this story. But I have no idea what sex it might be; I didn’t dissect anything south of the neck. I just threw him in the freezer.) Then I do my best with the liquid bits. I clean and put away the hammer at the same time. Then some disinfectant for good measure where the blood was.

This leaves only me. The guy who got out of the shower not more than a few hours ago. Back in the shower, where I scrub everything the best I can. I really don’t want to have a little eyeball falling out of my ear when I’m chatting with the good folks at TSA, right?

As I head for the door–again–I remember to turn off the email client on my main home server. And THAT is when I see the last-minute flight-tracker update from Spirit. Flight 709 to Detroit is delayed an hour. Oh, yassuh. Which leaves me time to reset the Victor Powerkill Pro M144 in the attic.

The rest of the weekend went swimmingly. Mrs. van Z. did a great job on her test, as did the other more junior testing candidates. We had a good black-belt seminar and another the next day. And I got to visit with some of my best friends in the world, whom I don’t see nearly often enough.

And when I got home Sunday night, there were two more dead rats in the attic traps.

So, OK, I lied. One picture. This is a four-pound baby sledge, pretty much guaranteed to make any rat, rattus or norvegicus or otherwise, feel Mighty Thor.

* * * * * * * * * *

* “Avo” is Esperanto for grandfather, and it’s what my granddaughter calls me. It’s also very close to “abwo,” which is how Mexican babies tend to mispronounce “abuelo,” which is Spanish for grandfather.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Gott Mit Uns

Really? I haven't made a post here in over three and a half years?

Well,'s one:

One of my sisters just sent me the following, attributed to Jay Leno. (No, I don't know if the attribution is correct, and I don't give a damn.)

"With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of swine flu and terrorist attacks... Are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?"

This, as it made the internet rounds, was followed by this anonymous editorializing:

"For those that prefer to think that God is not watching over us...go ahead and delete this. For the rest of us...pass this on. A Small Prayer!" (Out of consideration for the tender flesh of your esophageal sphincters, I've omitted the treacle of the prayer itself.)

I took a deep breath. And I replied:

Thanks for reminding us, -------: yes! This would be an absolutely wonderful time to do exactly that.

Of course, it might have been better to do so before September 11, 2001, when Mohammed Atta and his buds pledged their allegiance to "god" in the best way they knew how.

And who wants to pray to a god that causes "hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, swine flu and terrorist attacks"?

What, these are "teaching moments"? One might as well pray to Pol Pot or some other psychopathic spoiled brat.

Recently the paper had an AP story by Allen G. Breed, with a sad picture of a destroyed house, with "GOD BLESS JOPLIN!" written on a remaining wall. I have to ask how that's working out for the dead, the injured, the homeless and the bereaved.

Not that I'm recommending prayer, of course...we know that prayers are not answered, because if they were, there would be legitimate double-blind, peer-reviewed studies confirming at least a statistical correlation, whereas what we actually have is a series of clearly fraudulent reports of imaginary statistics. If there were legitimate results, then the reporters wouldn't have to invent them, would they? Wouldn't they just report on the facts of real results? See this article, and many other reputable sources. While, by itself, "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence," it's a pretty damned good clue when everyone is looking high and low for the merest scintilla of evidence, and coming up dry.

But of course, I could be wrong--let's put prayer to the test. Show me just one example in the entire world of an amputated human limb regenerated by prayer, and I will immediately renounce my error.

Most Americans don't know that the Pledge of Allegiance (itself suspect idolatry, and without question historically racist, but that's another rant for another day) didn't contain the words "under God." The addition was instigated, beginning about 1951, by jihadist racist organizations like the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Knights of Columbus, who saw the opportunity presented by the sale to the American public of the "Communist menace" by the opportunist (and raging alcoholic, but I guess that's a bit ad hominem) Joe McCarthy, among others. See this Wiki page.

At about the same time, the same people worked to make "In God We Trust" the official motto of the U.S.; until then, it had been the wonderfully inclusive E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One). They succeeded in 1956, and the motto appeared (again, few know this, education in history rarely being promoted by racist jihadists) on all paper money for the first time in 1957. (To be fair--the new motto had appeared on coins since 1864.) See this Wiki page. How did the Republic ever survive? Especially since before then we know that God had been working for the Nazis. And we know this because the Germans were big on wearing belt buckles that said Gott mit uns ("God is with us"), while they were doing the work that God had asked them to do, which often consisted of stuffing Jews and faggots and gypsies and other inferior sub-humans into large ovens.

So yes, Mr. Leno--today would be a wonderful day to restore the original pledge: "I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

We can discuss the transience of the worthiness of nations (especially those like ours, oligarchies with a long tradition of hegemoniacal foreign military adventurism and genocide) for our respect, and the whole issue of worshiping inanimate objects, another day.

Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe we should all be happy in God's America. You know, the one that Damon Fowler lives in. This place.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Is the Problem Immigration...or Emigration?


Did anyone watch the farce of tonight's Democratic presidential contender "debate" in Spanish, on Univision? It worked like this: questions were asked in Spanish and translated into English; the answers were given in English, translated into Spanish for the broadcast audience. (I can't comment on the quality of the translation; I only heard the Spanish.) So far so good. However, the two contenders who actually speak Spanish (Richardson of New Mexico and Dodds of Connecticut) were warned not to answer in Spanish, as this might confer on them an unfair advantage. I swear that I am not making this up.

The intrepid interlocutors asked hardball questions like "What has been the greatest contribution of Hispanics to the U.S.?" and "How would you discourage anti-Hispanic sentiment?" (I was ready to answer that one! "Learn English, and try to cut down on the incidence of driving drunk with no license, registration, or insurance, bashing into people, killing them and maiming them and then fleeing back across the border to avoid all responsibility." Curiously enough, none of the hopeful "Hispanderers" that a great neologism or what?...gave any response similar to that.)

OK, enough context. Here's the screed:

For years, I have been saying this:

The "illegal immigration" debate is always framed in terms of its effects on the U.S.

I refer here strictly to immigration from México, including those from points south of México who manage to evade the brutal repression of Mexican authorities and reach el Norte with their Mexican brethren y cenotes (OK–it's a horrible bilingual pun). Those who want to demonstrate their lack of racism by squealing about all of the illegal immigrants from Ireland or Poland can state their own case...I don't know a single person whose life has been ruined by being hit by a non-Hispanic drunk driver with no license, no registration, and no insurance, who has then fled back across the border to non-Hispania before being held accountable. (Take out the "non" and we all know the story.)

But maybe you do.

But this is precisely the point that I'm not making here. Arguments can be made both ways for the effects, positive or negative, on the effect of illegal Hispanic immigration on us. On the one hand, we have the shutdown of emergency rooms, the petty law-enforcement costs... On the other, we have the fact that these folks pump a huge amount of labor into the economy, and don't tend to collect a lot of the benefits that the amount they pay into the system would allow them to take out...but for the fact that they're using bogus IDs and SSNs.

I've heard the arguments both ways, and neither has been particularly convincing. Perhaps it's a wash.

What isn't a wash--what isn't in question--is the effect of emigration on México and points south.

It's been an unmitigated disaster. I recently read a statistic that gave the percentage of Mexican nationals who are 1) male; 2) between 18 and 35; and 3) living in the U.S. I don't believe that there was any breakdown for legal vs. illegal, but if 29% of the 34 million of foreign birth in the U.S. are Mexicans, and Mexicans also comprise 57% of 10.3 million illegals here (a very conservative estimate), obviously there is a weighting toward the undocumented. (See

Legality or illegality is not an issue in this discussion. But this is: if 16% of the entire Mexican labor force is here at any give time (, then it would seem, since emigration is traditionally weighted toward the young and male, that the percentage of males between 18-35 is far higher. And indeed, although I can't recall the statistic, and can't put my finger on the source right now (I'd appreciate it if someone else here has it), I seem to recall that it was about a third of all Mexican males in that age group.

This cannot not be disastrous. Is it any wonder that the Mexican system is corrupt? México is suffering from a serious testosterone deficit--a huge lack of angry young men. (And they don't do us a lot of good here, but that's the subject I'm not writing about here.) México needs, not a violent revolution, but at least the threat of one. Who are the corrupt bastards running the joint supposed to fear? The grandmothers left behind?

They have the perfect safety valve--el Norte, to drain off all the bloody lust for change.

Many years ago, a friend suggested that, since so many Mexicans and Central Americans wanted to be Norteños, it only made sense to line the Marines up on the Rio Grande, march them down to the Panama Canal, and annex everything in between. (You know who you are...) As horrific an affront as this may seem to national sovereignty...are we really going to say "sovereignty" with a straight face in reference to an invading foreign power? Especially one clever enough to realize that the entire point of warfare, which is to convert the resources of another country to your own use, is not best accomplished with divisions of Panzers; pregnant women are far more efficient.

But although annexation might be a great deal for México and points south, it would be a horrible deal for the U.S. (Anyone who thinks that this is doable might consider the example of German reunification. I was in Berlin when the wall came down. The West Germans were delirious with happiness. The East Germans were more slowly disillusioned, but within several months, realizing the actual cost of cleaning up the East, West Germans started to sport bumper stickers saying: Wir wollen zurück unser Wand. My German may not be perfect, but the meaning was clear: "We want our wall back.") And even considering the facts of the present invasion, I would hope that there might be some moral qualms over such a "solution." It might not be a good precedent. Although if we couldn't even figure that out in the case of Iraq, I'm not sure that we can be trusted to figure it out here. But I digress...

So what to do? Ideally, we should hand every bravo that we catch at the border an AK-47 and a case of cartridges, and tell them to go fix their own problems. The only alternative to them all wanting to be here is to create the possibility that they can make there more like here. And the grandmothers don't seem up to the task. It isn't lack of petroleum or fisheries or arable land; they have at least as much of all that as we do. The only thing that they lack is angry young men.

I despair of this actually happening. So for now, I'll take some small comfort in having finally found another commentator who recognizes that Mexican emigration actually has implications not just for us, but curiously enough, for México. This was posted at

Open Letter to Illegal Immigrants
08/17/2007 | Philistone

Posted on 08/17/2007 2:56:29 PM PDT by Philistone

Congratulations. You made it. Through hard work, determination, money and maybe even danger, you have made it to this country. You have left behind the poverty and corruption which characterize your homeland for an opportunity to work here for wages that are below what an American would demand. You have taken jobs Americans won't do.

In coming here, you have left behind those without as much ambition, initiative and drive as you, as well as the leaders who keep them in misery. By doing so, you have guaranteed that your homeland will become worse, not better.

By sending remittances back to your homeland you help alleviate the poverty of your remaining family. But by doing so you buoy the regime that you escaped, ensuring that the injustices you fled remain in place.

We know that you are willing to work hard. Why is that hard work in this country is so much better rewarded than in your homeland? Why are you willing to work illegally in this country building houses, with the risk of being badly paid or even arrested, when there is a need for housing in your homeland?

Do you believe that there is something magical about a line on a map such that work done north of it is more valuable that work done south of it?

Sure we believe in hard work in America. But as you saw before you left your homeland, hard work isn't enough. We also believe in the rule of law. Of course we have corrupt public officials, but we believe in rooting them out and prosecuting them to the fullest extent of the law. We don't believe that we should have to bribe a public official for a building permit, a driver's license or a bed in a hospital the way it's done in your homeland.

Maybe you believe that the reason that America is rich and your homeland is poor is because we have greater natural resources than your country, yet some of you come from countries with more proven oil reserves than we have. Still your countrymen live in poverty. What makes a country rich is not its natural resources, it is its human resources.

By coming here illegally, you are forced to live in ghettos with your fellow illegal countrymen, recreating the very barrios you left. As more and more of your illegal countrymen arrive, these barrios will more and more resemble the slums you worked so hard to escape. Do you really believe that in recreating Los Angeles in the image of Mexico City that it will retain the prosperity that you sought? More likely, it will achieve the prosperity that Mexico City currently enjoys.

At last count, there were somewhere between 12 and 20 million of you here illegally in the United States. An army that size could conquer Mexico City, Caracas, San Salvador and La Paz in a day. Go back to your homeland. Demand an end to the corruption, throw out the tyrants, take back with you what you have seen and learned about how real wealth is created. Demand the rule of law.

Instead of trying to make America resemble the homeland that you fled, why don't you go back and try to make your homeland resemble the America that you sought.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

It's OK to Kill Grandma if God Tells You To Do It, Part I

"Religious tolerance." Well, that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

We are taught that it’s bad to be intolerant. Be tolerant of intolerance (a little tolerance for the inherent contradiction, please), and the next thing you know, the KKK is lighting crosses on the neighbor’s lawn.

When did we get so soft-headed? Tolerance isn’t a value-neutral concept; it has to do with what we tolerate. We pay cops to be intolerant of crime. (Too bad that we seem incapable of making rational choices about the conduct to be criminalized...) We pay doctors to be intolerant of disease. We pay mechanics to be intolerant of leaking brake lines. We pay judges to be intolerant of injustice. (Well, that’s the idea, anyway.)

So why do we turn off our brains the minute that religion is invoked? It’s all just peachy if the godz command us.

Not only religion, but when we are asked to countenance vicious behavior on cultural grounds, religion is usually bubbling away not far below the surface.

On July 13, 2004, the Los Angeles Daily Journal, a newspaper for lawyers, published an editorial by one Alice Dundes Rentein, professor of law "and public policy," may the godz help us, at the University of Southern California, in which she advocated official recognition by our criminal justice system of "the cultural defense," a subject about which she had–no surprises here–written a book.

Ms. Rentein apparently advocates not merely going easy on Hispanics who murder because they can’t be expected to do less when hearing the talismanic chinga tu madre, but (although no doubt she would deny it), taking the same approach with Muslims who carry out the time-honored custom of "honor killing" of any uppity little bitch in their own family who dares question any male on any subject.

And mind you, Ms. Rentein is not merely advocating that the Mexican or the Saudi judicial systems encourage such savagery; she’s arguing that these evil bastards should get a pass from our penal system. Don’t believe me? Here: read it yourself, at So:

1. I am not making this up.

2. Ms. Rentein is not some raving lunatic haploid who seriously needs her lithium levels adjusted at knife-point; she’s a professor of law and public policy at one of our most respected law schools.

I cannot currently find a copy of my published response; a link on the Daily Journal site implies that it was published on August 20, 2004. I reprint here my original essay:


July 14, 2004

re: "America Should Adopt Cultural Defense as Legal Policy"
Alison Dundes Rentein
Forum, p.6, Los Angeles Daily Journal, Tuesday, July 13, 2004


Having close ties to members of the California Court Interpreters Association (who and which are in no way responsible for the contents of this screed), I am familiar with the "cultural defense" argument, much as I am familiar with the vaunted "Twinkie defense" of so-called orthomolecular psychiatry.

Nonetheless I was taken aback by Professor Rentein’s exposition of it. She sows the seeds of absurdity in her own argument, and then pretends not to have watered them. They will sprout nonetheless, and grow like kudzu.

Ms. Rentein would base the "right" to skate on violations of law on Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Huh? That Article states:

"In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, or to use their own language."

I don’t see in the language of the Article the "right" to getting a pass on the Penal Code. Maybe I’m missing something.

The essay would make it easy for us to admit cultural defenses by painting a picture of trivial transgressions. But Ms. Rentein herself recognizes that it wouldn’t stop there; she speaks of People v. Chen, where a bludgeoning death resulted in probation. But then, we can’t deny people their cultural rights of jealous rage, now can we?

Ms. Rentein, thankfully, would draw the line at the transgression, far more serious than murder, of female circumcision. But what kind of sexist nonsense is this? She would allow male circumcision? Upon what basis? It can’t be "tradition"; one is as much that as the other. Well, at least I should be thankful to have Ms. Rentein’s support; my religion requires that we slice off the nipples of all male children. A smoking rock told me so! Glad that I won’t be going to prison for mutilation and torture.

Then we learn of how unfair it is that a Sikh be punished for carrying a dagger (People v. Singh). I couldn’t agree more! My religion has a similar command, but far more reasonable. Instead of such trivial display, we correctly realize that the gods are displeased every time one of us merely survives a violent crime; our gods hold it cowardice not to protect the weaker members of our culture from further violent crimes, by bringing the predators to justice. Hence, our religion requires us to be trained in the use of, and to carry at all times, a semi-automatic handgun. Glad to see that twenty thousand or so completely un-Constitutional gun laws will hold no terror. At least for our religion.

Then we have Trujillo-Garcia v. Rowland, where multiculturalism should have required our man to skate on murder after hearing the mystic mantra chinga tu madre, which, by the way, is only very roughly "motherfucker." In Spanish, it is far more explicit and insulting, just like it sounds. Well, lucky for me that I speak Spanish! Another defense for me to salt away for just that moment when it’s most needed. (But if you really want to insult someone, it’s best to learn to swear in Russian. No wonder the Feds can’t seem to get control of the Russian mafia! I’m gonna keep that cultural defense in my hip pocket too, just in case. So don't tell anyone that "fuck your mother" isn't much of an insult at all in Russian–just a rather mild statement of surprise or disbelief.)

We get a true red herring in the case describing demeanor at trial, Kwai Fan Mak v. Blodgett. True, this probably is ineffective assistance of counsel. But I’ll bet that the crime charged wasn’t being in possession of a stoic demeanor. And what are we to make of the Yemeni khat chewers, who find themselves "innocent"? Well, guess what? Anyone with a brain can figure out that the War on Some Drugs is a far greater menace to our society than any use of any drug, and that all federal drug laws are hopelessly un-Constitutional. My culture recognizes that khat chewers are innocent, just like tobacco smokers, cocaine snorters, alcohol imbibers, and heroin shooters. We rightfully believe that anyone who dares to disagree will burn in Hell forever. However, we don’t expect much traction on these beliefs out of the criminal justice system.

Our gods have also decreed that certain of our studlier acolytes be–shall we say–required to make themselves available at the temple, where, after payment of a suitable emolument, the women of the village (and the men, of course) may partake of The Ritual Ecstacy. We used to have trouble with those pesky laws about pimping and prostitution, not to mention involuntary servitude. But of course, that was before the glorious advent of the "cultural defense"!

Ms. Rentein then trivializes the whole matter by citing exemptions carved out from education, child-neglect and animal-welfare statutes on behalf of the Amish, the Christian Scientists, and Jews and Muslims, respectively. With the exception of the medical-care issues raised in the second instance, in which many cases have gone against Christian Scientist parents, the easy explanation is: who cares? The Amish, after all, have an excellent system of education; is anyone daft enough to believe that the learning of Amish children would be improved by subjecting them to publik edgykashun? Are we really losing sleep over the suffering of kosher-slaughtered beef?

What doesn’t Ms. Rentein tell us about? How about abductions and honor killings in the Muslim community? How about African and Asian societies where very young children are sold in "marriage" to elderly men? Surely, these practices could easily pass Ms. Rentein’s completely meaningless three-prong test, yes? As could our culture’s "tradition" that young boys are not just allowed to, but absolutely required to, pressure even younger girls (or boys) into having sex with them. I’m glad to see that the "cultural defense" has just swept away all statutory-rape statutes. Just think of the money that we’ll save!

Ms. Rentein closes with a British case, in which a Yoruba woman asserted a cultural defense (whether successfully, we are not told) against charges that she had mutilated her sons’ faces. We learn that, "although no one bothered to check, it appears that the custom no longer was practiced in Nigeria at that time, and the mother had deviated from tradition." Again: huh?

Does it even occur to Ms. Rentein that perhaps it was the mother who hadn’t checked? Maybe she reasonably and subjectively believed that she was following tradition. Or perhaps she and her clan (after all, to meet the good Professor’s test, we need a many "believers’ does it take to decriminalize mutilation...or murder?) had escaped from Nigeria for the very purpose of maintaining that noble tradition, against the evil heretics who wanted to take it away from her.

(And for one Nigerian writer’s rejection of the philosophical underpinnings of the cultural defense, see Jare Oladosu’s essay at [Note: that link now appears to be dead; try instead I have also archived the file at]

My own background is Irish Catholic. I am so glad that, the next time my daughter talks back, I can threaten to have her beaten and raped, and cloistered away in a nunnery for the rest of her life. And if she sasses me, I can follow through with it, and Ms. Rentein will be waiting right there, with my cultural defense. Praise Jesus!

One might ask: so what’s the solution? But that begs the question–why should we concede that there’s a problem? (Colonel Jeff Cooper, USMC ret., widely regarded as the father of modern pistolcraft, and a staunch proponent of the single-action semi-auto M1911A1 .45ACP Colt pistol, was once asked his opinion of the advent of double-action semi-autos. After a moment’s reflection, he replied: "An elegant a nonexistent problem.")

The fact that our justice system requires adherence to our laws–to a better moral standard than the horrorshows that immigrants were running away from in the first place–isn’t a problem. It’s a strength, not a weakness.

Perhaps rather than whining about it, Professor Rentein might consider handing out leaflets at the border, helping the new arrivals to get a clue. Because until they do, I want the ones who can’t–every last face-and-genital mutilatin’, angered-enough-by-words-to-kill, child-selling, honor-killing one of them–behind bars.

Too bad if the truly innocent–the khat chewers and the swordlet wearers, and the prostitutes–get caught up in the net. Until our society finally evolves to the point that the proscriptions of criminal law should be bounded by that which is required to prevent force and fraud, it seems like we may need to pay that price.

And the good Professor might pause for a moment, and consider that it is sometimes best to be careful what one wishes for. Were the "cultural defense" available, the criminal law might hold a bit less terror for any number of folks who might want to burn her at the stake, as a witch. Of course, we know that she should only be beaten with a rod no larger than a man’s thumb. Or perhaps beheaded, of course.

Professor Rentein admits: "As of yet, no country has embraced the cultural defense."

What a surprise! Might it be because it’s a dangerously idiotic concept?


Well...I had hoped today to get to my original subject, how the California Probate Code (and I wouldn’t doubt the Penal Code as well–I don’t know; I don’t do criminal law) gives a pass to Christian Scientists and others whose godz tell them to kill their elders by withholding medical care from them–behavior which is strictly prohibited for rational people.

But I’ve been playing hooky all day, cleaning up the website at, and I have to get back to lawyering. I’ll just hope that it isn’t another thirteen months before I get a chance to tackle that subject.

Responding to the CS Monitor re U.S. Guns Entering México

On Friday, July 20, 2007, the Christian Science Monitor published an editorial blaming violence in México, especially among warring drug cartels, on "lax" U.S. gun laws, allowing guns to flow freely southward. I'm paraphrasing, but you can read the screed for yourself at

My initial reäction was predictably uncharitable–I mentioned that replying to the CS Monitor may be akin to beating a retarded child--after all, these are people whose propensity for magical thinking leads them to believe that medical care is sinful.

Yes, I’m aware that that statement might be construed as “religiously intolerant.” But then, most religions don’t get a pass–legally--on killing their own children and their elders.

Later. I’ll share with you an amazing little provision in the California Probate Code that provides for precisely that.

I sent them this reply:




The "problem" of American guns in México is not caused by our "lax" gun laws; it's caused by our idiotic tough drug laws. End the lunatic War on Some Drugs today, and watch the cartels--on both sides of the border--simply evaporate. But no; you prefer enriching violent criminals, corrupting our governments, and militarizing our societies. Thanks--nice job. Thank you for murdering our children with your ill-considered little war.

And México doesn't need fewer guns; it needs more. But it needs them in the hands of angry young men. Immigration from México may be a net plus or minus for the U.S.; arguments can be made both ways. But it's been an unmitigated disaster for México. Imagine if we turned away every mojado at the border, but with an AK-47 and a case of cartridges. The corrupt oligarchy enslaving the Mexican people wouldn't last a month. Who do you imagine will overthrow them now? The grandmothers left behind?

You really haven't given any of this very much thought, have you?

Saturday, September 30, 2006

An Open Letter to Morton Marcus

    Greetings, all.

It will probably come as no surprise to those who know me that my first post on my new blog would have something to do with the Second Amendment, or some other subject dear to the heart of an anarcho-capitalist. But in fact, I rarely talk much about the Second Amendment any more, except in the context of the War on Some Drugs.

But I can be provoked.

Enter one Morton Marcus, a gentleman who bears a disturbing resemblance to Al Franken, and who has a stupefyingly silly column posted with the Noblesville Ledger at

Of Mr. Marcus, we learn:

"Indiana economist Morton Marcus has studied and written about the Indiana economy for more than 30 years, during and after his long association with Indiana University."

I should resist the temptation to observe that ignorance on this level is not often to be found outside academia, but as you see, I couldn't quite.

So my open letter to him:

* * * * * * * * * *

Dear Sir:

I see that your column has inspired a fair amount of invective. Unfortunately, I can't say that it is undeserved. One can wish that the republic would be free of such historical misunderstanding, but it should come as no surprise that one is as likely--or more so--to find it in academia.

Rather than turn up the heat, however, let me see if I might shine a bit of light.

You state:

You and I are not constitutional lawyers,

Well, I'm not sure what a "constitutional lawyer" might be, but I am a lawyer, and I demonstrably have as fair an understanding of the Constitution as most, and certainly far more than any Supreme Court justice. Although, of course, that would be at best damning with faint praise. For example, I can see that proscription of recreational pharmaceuticals is found nowhere in the Constitution, let alone in Article I, Section 8. So clearly all federal drug laws are unconstitutional. Yet you may search in vain for a single justice who understands something so simple. But I digress--we were discussing the 2nd Amendment, yes?

but let's try to understand that single sentence.

Kudos to you for saying "understand," rather than "interpret." Now if only you would understand.

Why shall the right of the people to bear arms not be infringed?

Well, first of all, "why" is simply not an issue. The concept that you're misunderstanding is called "precatory language." One need not be a constitutional scholar (whether a lawyer or not) to understand this; any probate lawyer can explain it to you. Two examples may suffice:

Suppose a will says: "Because I know that Bob will always be a UCLA fan, I leave Bob $1,000,000.00."

Two months later, Bob falls in love with a USC cheerleader and switches teams. Does Bob have to give back the money? Nope.

A little-known fact: the original 1st Amendment said (OK, this is not actually true, but...): "A well-educated populace being necessary to resisting the British invasion, the right to own and read newspapers shall not be infringed."

Eventually the British gave up their colonial claims and went home. Is it now OK for the government to confiscate all of the printing presses?

According to this Morton Marcus fellow, it is. Is he correct?

Because a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state.

At the time that these words were written, the word "regulated" meant "equipped." * You can look it up. A responsible scribe might think that to be a good idea, in fact.

In other words, the 2nd Amendment isn't about taking orders from the government; it's about having good weapons. Native English speakers might be expected to know this, even if they are college professors. Or they can do their research and find out.

How many gun owners are members of a well-regulated state militia?

Well, as it turns out, that would be every male between the ages of eighteen (usually) and "it depends," depending upon which militia you're describing. You might want to look at the 1792 Uniform Militia Act, for starters, and then look at what different states have done from time to time. But the short answer to your question is: "...well, you are, just for starters." Your ignorance of the fact that you're in the militia (or were, anyway--some statutes limit the age to 45, and I don't know how old you are) doesn't change the facts.

Isn't a gun more likely to be used to settle private disputes that have nothing to do with the security of a free state?

And your point would be? I think that what you have here is called a non sequitur. But let's not flinch away from the original purpose of the right. This may surprise you, but the original intent of the 2nd Amendment was to protect the people (you can fall into arguing the false dichotomy of whether it's an "individual" right or a "state" right--for our purposes here it doesn't matter) from their government. That's right; it's not about shooting ducks. (Can you imagine if the right were "interpreted" to mean that you could pick tomatoes? That's how stupid the "hunters' rights" argument is.) It's about shooting soldiers and policemen. Now, you may be uncomfortable with this. But my copy of the U.S. Constitution is silent on the subject of Mr. Marcus's comfort level. Maybe it's missing a page.

Some of the founders' comments about this were rather inflammatory. I like Tench Coxe's, myself (emphasis mine):

"As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which might be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow-citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms."

Jayzus! What kind of wack-job talks openly about shooting cops and soldiers? Well, those would be the guys who wrote and signed the Constitution.

For the 2nd Amendment to be about rights possessed by the government, and not the people, would be simply extraördinary. It would be the only expression in the entire Constitution about such rights. (What about the 10th Amendment, say you? Nope--notice that the 9th, which talks about "the people," uses the word rights. The 10th, discussing the States, uses the word powers. Pretty sharp, those founders were! They actually could understand and use words in meaningful ways!)

This is why the so-called "standard model" of the 2nd Amendment has always been a lie, and why the overwhelming weight of constitutional scholarship--even among so-called "liberals" who aren't exactly happy about it--is that it means what it says. E.g., Lawrence Summers, ** Akhil Reed Amar, etc.

One last point--you say:

To reduce gun-related murders, get the guns out of the hands of private citizens.

This is not a constitutional issue of course; it's a practical argument. It's also one of the silliest damned things I've ever heard. You're familiar with the notion that an ounce of history is worth a pound of theory. Yes? Currently, if I recall correctly, and there hasn't been new legislation since I last checked, there are 17 "conservative carry law" states, where you apply for a permit to carry a handgun, and you don't get one unless the police want to give you one. There are 32 "liberal carry law" states, where you apply for a permit to carry a handgun, and you get one unless the police can cite a narrowly-defined statutory reason why you shouldn't get one. Guess which states have lower crime rates?

Ah, but say you, they have lower crime rates for other reasons. OK, try this: the historical trend has been for states to move out of the conservative column into the liberal one. What has happened to crime rates in those states as they have made it easier to carry guns?

I think you can see where this is going, yes? Why don't you do the research yourself? Then you can write a column retracting the silly one you wrote.

Oh, by the way, 32 + 17 = 49. That leaves Vermont, which last I checked, had no permit system, period. You want to carry a gun? You carry one. You don't ask the police for the "permission" which was guaranteed to you long before there was a 2nd Amendment.

Guess where Vermont is on all kinds of crime statistics... Again, I think you can see where this is going, yes?

Terence Geoghegan

The Law Offices of Terence Geoghegan
4510 East Thousand Oaks Boulevard, Suite 200
Westlake Village, CA 91362-3876

tg (at)

"In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet and say to us, 'Make us your slaves, but feed us."
--Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor

* [2013-01-31]: Sloppy writing on my part; I should have corrected this years ago, when the error was first pointed out to me. Rendering "well-regulated" as "properly equipped" in modern parlance is a bit simplistic. Closer would be "properly equipped and trained." In other words, in good working order--ready to deploy.

** [2013-01-13]: Even sloppier...I can't believe that no one picked this one up. The reference should of course have been to another Harvard professor, Laurence H. Tribe. I should also have mentioned Sanford Levinson.