Posts Tagged ‘Gun Control’

Warm and Fuzzy versus Fangs and Venom — Predators Know the Difference.

December 17, 2012
Coyote_arizonaWikipediaC1

Coyotes prefer prey WITHOUT fangs and venom, thank you, very much.

Rabbit_in_montana

Coyotes, the media and Progressive elites — pragmatic predators all — prefer THESE as prey…

Rattlesnake_Dance_01

… Over THESE, as prey, although both are edible. Do we know WHY?
Yes, we do, even if the wizards in the media-government complex do not.

Just as a hungry coyote understands the important difference between a rabbit and a rattlesnake, a would-be armed robber, or a glory-seeking spree killer, understands the difference between a victim who may be armed, and one who certainly is not.

Both the rabbit and the rattler can be eaten, but preying on rattlers involves considerably more risk than preying on rabbits. Why? Fangs and venom, that’s why. A coyote or a human predator that chooses the wrong prey is more likely to end up floating, face-down, in the gene pool.

There has been supportive chatter in the media-government complex  for decades, on the efforts of the UN and American “Progressives” to  get small arms out of the hands of individuals, and make them a government monopoly.

The media tend to chide Americans who cherish their Second Amendment right, for being afraid the UN wants to take away “their deer rifles.” Silly Second Amendment types! All the UN is concerned about, the editorials say, is “rocket launchers and machine guns.”

Of course, that’s a lie. The UN, whose membership is composed mainly of tin-horn dictatorships and bankrupt, socialist dis-utopias, and the Progressives, who cherish their own safety enough to hire armed bodyguards, want to relieve all of us of all of our firearms, down to the last pellet gun and antique flintlock. It’s for our own good, right?

Hardly.

The UN’s problem is that an armed populace is a terrible inconvenience to a would-be despot. Armed citizens may not go along with certain kinds of government excesses, such as pogroms, purges, gulags, concentration camps and slavery.

Armed citizens introduce an element of risk and expense to such ventures that discourages governments from undertaking them. Beneath their veneer of compassion and care for our collective safety, the Progressives share the UN’s concerns.

Armed citizens are also a nuisance to the dictator next door, whose stupid policies have wasted all his country’s resources. He must now prey on his neighbors to satisfy his needs, and “reallocating their resources” may be difficult, if his neighbors are armed. Charitable by nature, perhaps, they may not share the great leader’s vision for their future. Their privately-owned weapons may frustrate their acquisitive neighbors’ plans long enough for regular military forces to show up and end them altogether.

On a much smaller scale, armed citizens are also a nuisance to the individual predator, who dislikes assuming the risk of attacking a crowd of rabbits, only to find that one or more of them has hidden rattlesnake fangs and venom, and the will and skill to use them in his defense, or in defense of innocents around him.

America’s founders understood this principle of nature (and of human nature), and built the individual right to be armed into our Constitution.

Coyotes, armed robbers and dictators understand this principle.

Someone, please explain it to the nation’s media-government complex, and to our Progressive elite.

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Hard Choices Versus Bad Choices — There IS a Difference

August 10, 2012
Image

Do I take my chances on the fire escape, jump to my death, or quietly barbeque when the fire gets there? I’m trying the fire escape. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Here’s what I think about having to vote for Romney:

I can just throw myself out the window of my burning, ninth-floor hotel room, arriving with a splash on the pavement, or on the hood of some unlucky illegal alien’s cab.

I can try the rickety-looking fire escape, MAYBE making it to the ground at less than the speed dictated by the acceleration of gravity on a falling body, MAYBE living another day.

OR,  I can wait for the fire to cook me alive.

Rotten choice? Hell, yes.

Hard choice? Hell, no. I’m trying the fire escape — Romney 2012.

A Kinder, Gentler Martial Law

May 29, 2012
A kindler, gentler martial Law

GOP senators have appealed to President Obama to soften the impact of martial law imposed before the national election.

Republican Senators Offer Alternative Plan for Martial Law

(Washington, October 29th, 2012)

In the wake of President Obama’s declaration of martial law last week, just weeks before the 2012 general election, moderate Senate Republicans have proposed some alternatives to the President’s executive orders authorizing indefinite detention without trial and civil asset forfeiture.

The measures were described as “draconian” by former talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who has not been heard from in several days. Senate Republicans Olympia Snow, John  McCain and minority leader Mitch McConnell came forward today with what they call “a reasonable alternative” to the emergency measures. They say they have met with Senators Harry Reid and Dick Durbin to negotiate the release on recognizance of several Republican senators, congressmen, and state governors, all of whom had been “very critical” of the emergency measures.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell spoke for the group:

“In this time of crisis, we must reach across the aisle to our colleagues and come to some sort of compromise on these executive orders. While we appreciate the urgency and severity of the situation that faces the President, we believe it is possible to deal with our unfortunate circumstances with a more moderate, measured approach.”

“We propose to allow those thousands of Americans being held incommunicado and without legal representation or charges being filed, to be released on their own recognizance from the detention camps around the country, after signing an agreement not to participate in political activity.

“They should be allowed to return to their homes, if they have not been demolished or re-assigned to needy immigrant families. They should wear a GPS-enabled house arrest ankle bracelet and keep authorities advised of their whereabouts at all times.

“Of course, we would expect the President’s National Stability Police Force to continue to hold anyone who is a real security threat, but we expect that such detainees would be tried and convicted or released within a reasonable period.”

Saying they were trying to reach missing Congressional colleagues to get a consensus in support of the compromise, McConnell expects to be allowed to meet with the President’s chief of staff to present the proposal “within the next few weeks.”

“Legalize it”? Maybe It’s Time.

October 18, 2011

Dried marijuana "bud," Courtesy of Wikipedia. NOT my photo! ("Eees no' mine!!")

Let’s just say I know enough about smoking marijuana (having been college-aged in the late 60’s) to know how apt is the term “wasted” in that context… but let’s also say that I could have passed a random, pop drug test any time over the last forty years, and I could do so at right this moment.

While I am not chomping at the bit for the legal right to hit the pot store on the way home from WalMart, it is hard NOT to see the cost of the “war on drugs” on our Constitutional rights. And, no, you don’t have to be a Paulistinian, or even a classical Libertarian to see it.

“]”]”

Would you trust your rights to "Good" Attorneys General -- Ashcroft (L) and Thornburgh (R)

”]”]”]”]If we give government the power to knock down doors without first serving a warrant, and to seize private property without due process or even criminal charges (among a host of abuses justified by the “War on Drugs,” not to mention the “War on Terror”), we are giving that power not just to a John Ashcroft or a Dick Thornburgh; we’re giving it to a Janet Reno and an Eric Holder. That’s not just stupid; it’s reckless and destructive.

What have we given up from the Bill of Rights, just to ignore the inherent evil of no-knock warrants and civil asset forfeiture? If a government acting in our best interests can abuse these procedures, what can a government that holds us in contempt do with them?

Legalizing marijuana would break away the current markets for marijuana from their very close relationship with the markets for heroin, cocaine, meth, hot guns, stolen property, prostitution, human and drug smuggling, terrorism, etc., draining tens or hundreds of millions of dollars from that income stream, and diverting it into taxable income streams. It would also unclog thousands of slots on pending court case calendars and empty prison and jail cells of people who otherwise wouldn’t be there, making room for the people who really should be locked up.

The statists graciously accept all our offers to surrender our rights for alleged safety or other benefits, regardless of the “war” allegedly being fought — drugs, poverty, terrorism, income inequality…

They know from history that such rights, once surrendered, are seldom restored, except by force and the spilling of lots of blood. At some point, it will be too late to get them back without that terrible cost.

We’re not there just yet, but we’re awfully close.

With (Drunk Driving) Friends Like These, Gun Rights Advocates Don’t Need Enemies

October 14, 2011

Curry Todd's mug shot, which will be used by gun control advocates from now on as a poster for their cause. Thanks, Curry. Oh, and thanks for driving drunk, too.

Sometimes you just want to slap yourself on the forehead and ask, “WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Tennessee state representative Curry Todd should have a real sore forehead by now, having embarrassed Tennessee gun rights advocates by being arrested for driving drunk.  But wait! There’s more! He had a holstered .38 Special in the car with him. But, wait! There’s even more!

Curry Todd was the “driving” force behind the new state law that removed the prohibition against carrying a concealed weapon WITH A CONCEALED CARRY PERMIT into a bar or restaurant where alcohol is served. And yes, Todd was also charged with the possession of a firearm while intoxicated.

You can be sure the irony of a gun-rights advocate being arrested for a gun law violation has not escaped notice among the foaming-at-the-mouth gun-haters. Take some anti-nausea medicine and read The Tennessean online, and the comments about the related stories, if you want to see anti-gun Schadenfreude on full display.

But, something is missing in all this coverage. Where is the outrage against a drunk driver?

While having a gun in the car when he was driving drunk was illegal and utterly stupid, there is nothing to indicate the firearm ever left the car, that it ever left the holster, that it was ever pointed at anyone or anything — and certainly — no evidence that it was ever used to harm anyone.

What could much more easily have resulted in tragedy that night was not the gun.

Forgive me if I sound a little strident about this, but the deadliest weapon in this story wasn’t IN the car; it WAS the car.  Thousands of pounds of steel that could have easily killed a whole crowd was being operated by a guy who was drunk, according to the police report. And, if you doubt the police report, check the mug shot, above. What is it about driving drunk that is not at least as repugnant to people on either side of the Second Amendment issue as the fact that a firearm was present?

Why do I seem strident about anybody driving drunk? It’s personal. Somebody very close to me was killed by a drunk driver, and it’s not something one forgets.

On June 6, 1994 (yes, the 50th anniversary of D-Day), I got a hysterical call from my mother-in-law, telling me between sobs that my 19-year-old nephew — her oldest grandson, and my wife’s oldest nephew — James Robert Anemone, had been killed, along with his 17-year-old serious girlfriend, by a drunk driver. It’s another story entirely, but James was as close as I have ever come to having a son, and I was as close as he would ever come to having a father.

James and his girl were both sober. The drunk was a minor with a history of driving drunk and public intoxication charges, and he was drunk enough that evening that his blood alcohol level would have put a non-drinker into a coma. But this guy was used to being drunk, and he was used to driving drunk and getting away with it — until he crossed the center line and hit two innocent people head-on,  and killed them. With his car.

Curry Todd’s gun was never a danger to anyone, but his car and his drunken state were a danger to everyone unfortunate enough to share the road with him.  Guns are used  hundreds of thousands or millions of times a year to prevent crimes, but I know of no reports of drunks using their cars to prevent a crime; and tens of thousands of deaths each year result from drunk driving.

Which will get more attention from the “mainstream” press in the Curry Todd incident — the gun, or the car piloted by the guy in the mug shot, above?

Now, what do gun rights advocates do about this ugly situation?

Do we all crawl into a cave and abandon the cause of gun rights? Not just NO, but, HELL NO. We can do what I am doing , here — we can offer Curry Todd the opportunity to redeem himself somewhat in our eyes by offering his resignation from the legislature.  At the very, very least, he should humble himself before the public with a sincere, deeply-felt apology, and a hard commitment to dealing with his alcoholism.

And, he needs to promise his constituents, his colleagues, his family, and methat he will never get behind the wheel drunk again.

Guns and Firewater — The Magical Bloodbath That Didn’t Happen

August 16, 2011

The Kinman Bar, courtesy of Wikipedia. What Leftist "Journalists" picture when they think about letting concealed carry permit holders carry into places that serve alcohol.

As Old Lodge Skins said in the classic movie, Little Big Man, “Sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it doesn’t.”

Remember those blood-soaked gunfights in places that sell alcohol, when Tennessee allowed us permit holders to carry concealed into them? You don’t? Perhaps that’s because they didn’t happen.

When Tennessee legislated to allow concealed carry holders to carry into places that sell alcohol, The Tennessean promised us that there would be a bloodbath because of voodoo. Yes, voodoo. The presence of two, inanimate objects in the same space — alcohol and firearms — was magically supposed to trigger carnage and wholesale death.

While Tennessean “journalists” may think alcohol is OK, we know that 99% of them find firearms to be inherently evil. Since we also know that these same “journalists” believe in magic, we are not surprised that they imbue inanimate objects with magical power.

We heard plenty about the “pouring gasoline on a fire” outcome that was clearly ahead, when we allowed law-abiding gun owners to carry their evil objects into public places. So, where are the stacks of reports of gun violence since the law passed?

Well, of course, not being dependent on magical thinking allowed the rest of us to understand that the predicted mass killing by firearm was no more likely before the law went into effect than after. As has already happened in dozens of other states, nothing new happened.

http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=334117

Guns are NOT inherently evil.

Alcohol is NOT inherently evil.

Objects are NOT inherently evil.

BEHAVIOR may certainly be evil (though it may be impossible for Tennessean “journalists” to wrap their tiny minds around that), but inanimate objects are… inanimate objects.

Irrational fear of firearms is… irrational.

Thanks for letting me clear this up. The “journalists” at The Tennessean may now resume their magical thinking.

It’s NOT the ECONOMY, STUPID! It’s the FREEDOM!

July 5, 2011

It's NOT THE ECONOMY!

Why does any public discussion of our stumbling, staggering, bleeding economy dissolve into accounting-speak — deficits, debt, bonds, seasonally-adjusted unemployment figures, tax deductions, accelerated depreciation, corporate tax loopholes, taxing the rich, oil-depletion allowances, big oil, big tobacco, jobs training, college tuition, blah, blah, blah, ZZZZZ?

BECAUSE IT’S SUPPOSED TO. Whether it’s the baffled and hackneyed vice president or the Decepticon-in-Chief telling us we need to blame some fictional Monopoly-man villain, or the super-caffeinated Congressman Paul Ryan speed-talking to us about the his budget plan, we are soon lulled into a haze of indifference by the “hate-the-rich” blather, or the “dismal science” jargon.

This is by design. The Left blames the “rich,” and the Right blames the Left. Neither side in the argument will dare a passing glance at the real issue behind all the class-warfare rhetoric and financial minutiae – the metastatic intrusion of government into every aspect of our lives, consuming our freedoms and transforming our country from a beacon of freedom into an addled, paralyzed, stupid, Euro-socialist dinosaur.

In short, the real issue is the loss of freedom.

When a whole country tries to move back into its parents’ basement, somebody has to pick up the tab, and here we are. A nanny-state is an ever-expanding expense, and the trade of freedom for an illusion of security always, always, always has the same result. The number of people willing to make that trade exceeds the number of those who refuse, and, as Margaret Thatcher famously said, “…sooner or later, you run out of other peoples’ money.”

Then, one of a small number of things happens. One has happened so often that no one should be surprised, but some always are: mass murder and mass graves.

In the Twentieth Century,  socialism — under its two major brand names, Communism and Nazism — took off its mask of compassion and equality of result, and showed the naked face of absolute dictatorship. It tried to reduce its operating costs and remove inconvenient political opposition by killing a hundred million or more human beings.

It never works, but don’t look for this cost-cutting measure to be abandoned permanently. Scrape the socially-acceptable, compassionate-statist veneer off of any socialist, and the dictatorial, mass murderer is always there, waiting for its moment in the sun.

Another approach is by simply printing “money.”  This doesn’t work either, as the Weimar Republic and Zimbabwe have already proven, as if proof were necessary. Sooner or later, the rest of the world catches on that the “full faith and credit” of the officially-sanctioned counterfeiting ring is meaningless.

No matter how many zeroes the print shop adds to the bill denominations, they still buy less and less, and finally, they are worth more as paper than as currency. This is but another, intermediate step to the murderous dictatorship, or to chaos and destruction.

The rarest but most blessed outcome is an awakening of the people to the reality that they are better off trusting themselves and leaving themselves to their own devices and to the mercy of their friends and relatives, than to trust any government to provide for them.

Of course, this sort of awakening is also likely to be bloody, because the beneficiaries of “other peoples’ money,” and the people who maintain their positions of privilege and power by handing it out, do not often give up their free rides voluntarily.

Some of the calcified and impoverished European socialist states are now experiencing a tentative rebirth of freedom; they have hit the financial wall, and can no longer ignore the inevitable. The trade of freedom for security always ends the same — security and freedom both expire. Whether these states, currently teetering on the razor-edge between freedom and slavery, will fall toward freedom, or away from it, it is still too early to tell.

Which way our own, uniquely-blessed country will fall, will be largely determined in the next few months.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the issue, not the economy. Will we choose freedom, as our forefathers did over 235 years ago, or slavery? The economy is an effect, not a cause. The economy will heal if we choose freedom.

If we choose slavery, we will get the economy we deserve.

WHERE ARE THE LEADERS?

June 3, 2011

Where are the leaders?

Where are the leaders – the people who can and will lead the United States of America out of the open grave we have been thrown into by the “leaders” of the last fifty years?

Where are the passionate, honest and humble men and women who know that government running every aspect of our lives is a recipe for misery and slavery?

Where are the men and women who will place themselves under the media spotlight without a crippling need for acceptance, because they understand that the media do not share, and will never share, their values?

Where are the men and women who will laugh in the faces of liberal hacks and counterfeit intellectuals with their cries of “racist” and other cheap, cowardly epithets, and call them out as the frauds and liars they are?

What follows is the speech I want to hear from a candidate who believes himself to be one of the real leaders – one who will help us to climb out of that open grave, rather than throwing in smaller shovelfuls of dirt, and telling us everything will be fine, if we just relax and embrace the darkness.

My fellow citizens:

I want to save this country. I can save this country. I need to save this country.

We are sinking into serfdom. Our government has broken the bonds the Founders wisely put on in our Constitution, and it is becoming our master, rather than our servant.

In the unending effort to buy permanent power, our government has plunged us into debt and inserted itself into every aspect of our lives.

While it pursues permanent power, our government neglects its most urgent and legitimate responsibilities. It fails at protecting the weak against the strong, and at protecting our nation against foreign and domestic enemies. It fails at protecting our rights and property against unlawful seizure and against unlawful restrictions on what we may do in and with our own property.

In fact, government has aggressively pursued the destruction of our right to own property, and to do with that property what we wish, thus rendering the right to own property nearly meaningless.

I must tell you, my fellow Americans, that once government has rendered meaningless the right to own property, we all become the property of government. The most important difference between a slave and a free person is the right to own property and to do with it, while protecting the rights of one’s neighbors, as one wishes.

I will reverse this endless expansion of government power.

I will nominate judges to the federal bench and to the supreme court, who will treat their oaths to uphold the Constitution literally. I will ask Congress to impeach judges who violate this oath.

I will pare down drastically the bloated regulatory bureaucracy that is choking off our freedom and our ability to prosper.

On my first day in office, I will fire “czars” that are unaccountable to the people and who are openly hostile to freedom, and who have no basis for authority in the Constitution.

I will ask Congress to abolish entire executive branch agencies and departments that have no basis in the Constitution, and no goal but their own self-perpetuation and expansion of influence.

The unborn, the sick and the elderly – the weakest and most innocent among us — are fortunate, these days, if we allow them to live. The fortunate survivors are those who were not killed because they were inconvenient, embarrassing, expensive, or evidence of a crime.

Our government has, instead, made these innocents legitimate prey for the predators who will make themselves rich and advance their lethal, utopian ideals by killing them.

I will sign legislation that makes abortion and euthanasia illegal under federal law, and I will speak unflinchingly to the States, from the bully pulpit that is the presidency, urging them to do the same. I will ask Congress to send me a bill that removes taxpayer dollars from any program, foreign or domestic, that funds abortion or euthanasia. I will sign that bill into law immediately, before American taxpayers can be forced to pay for one more innocent’s death.

A citizen’s life is a citizen’s property, and the right to own that property is basic, without which no other right matters. The right to life subsumes the right to choose one’s own medical care, and to pay for it as one wishes. The current level of government interference in this right is intolerable, and illegal.

I will revoke any executive orders intended to advance Obamacare, and I will consider the federal court ruling that Obamacare is unconstitutional as binding. I will immediately revoke the authority of any executive branch agency, board or other bureaucratic structure put in place by preceding administrations to support or enforce this law.

I will instruct Congress to send me legislation repealing Obamacare completely, and I will then ask Congress to begin structuring legislation that will unleash the private sector to revolutionize health care while dramatically reducing costs and increasing the range of options available to consumers.

I would expect this legislation to include a gradual transition over several years from government-funded — and government-restricted – health care for the aged and for those who are incapable for providing for themselves. Medicare must be replaced incrementally with private medical care that patients who are capable of it can pay for themselves, as medical care was dispensed for hundreds of years before this bloated, self-destructive program came into existence. The indigent and disabled must be protected, and they will be. Those who can pay all or a share of their health care costs, though, should do so.

Contrary to the lies you are being told by the Left, this does not mean my administration would throw the sick, the elderly or the indigent out in the street to die uncared for. That is a lie, and the liars know it. What the liars are not telling you, is that Medicare and Social Security are both utopian schemes that bought a lot of votes in their day, but their day is over. We simply can’t pay for them any longer.

Let me say that again: Medicare and Social Security are both about to run out of money. If we shut our eyes to this stubborn fact, Medicare and Social Security will still be out of money very soon, and our nation’s sorry financial state will soon prevent us from borrowing any more from Communist China to keep them afloat.

Tell me, my fellow Americans, what will happen to the sick when our government-driven health care system no longer has money to care for them? Rationing. It is happening now, in every country that foolishly believed it could nationalize its health care and not face the same, inevitable consequences.

Care is being withheld, and patients are being allowed to die from neglect and by the withdrawal of basic life support. They are starving and dying of thirst in their unchanged, soiled beds. If their families do not bring them food and change their linens, they lie in their own wastes and die, slowly and in great discomfort. This is the fate of those the Left is supposedly defending against their allegedly greedy, heartless critics.

Those who are so often vocal in their expressions of compassion and concern for the sick, are the liars who cannot face the consequences of their own lies. The helpless victims, however, face those consequences daily. This is what happens when government takes away the property right of citizens to care for their own lives. They become slaves.

What government gives, government can take away – including life, itself.

This nation has a history of decades of government encroachment into our lives, decades of spending money we do not have, decades of gradually surrendering our sovereignty to creditors and to those who think we should not have borders, decades of growing generations of government dependents, decades of failing to educate our citizens in basic skills, history and analytical thinking.

We cannot reverse this disastrous course overnight. But, we must begin immediately, shouldering the burden and working against the pain that will result, because if we do not change course, we will die as a nation, just as surely as the sick will die under national health care.

We must change course. And we will.

I want to save this country. I can save this country. I need to save this country.

But, I cannot do it alone. I must have your help and support. Now, and after the election, I must have your support and your trust. With your help, and with the Lord’s guidance, we will save this country. We must save this country. We owe it to ourselves and to our posterity.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your attention. Now, let’s get to work.

May God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Hey, Stupid Party! Anybody Home, in There?

March 30, 2011

“Give us money, so we can re-elect spineless leaders to ignore you until next election.”

I just got an email from the RNC, begging for money, again. I get them all the time, but, as I sometimes do, I will respond to this one in an “open letter” format.

The immediate trigger for this open letter was reading the following paragraph:

Nothing would make The New York Times, The Washington Post or The Huffington Post happier than printing articles in April that the Republican Party is finished because the RNC’s Federal Election Commission first quarter report showed us lagging behind in donations from our nationwide network of conservative grassroots supporters.

Herein we find one of the stupidest things the Stupid Party believes: That we should give a damn what The New York Times, The Washington Post or The Huffington Post thinks.

A pathetic and pointless desire for approval from these left-leaning media hacks is one of the most glaring weaknesses of the Stupid Party “leadership.” This “leadership” has brought us to this precipice, over which is a socialist autocracy in which the Constitution is an irrelevant, historical curiosity.

If the “leadership” had rejected the $105 Billion land mine in the continuing resolution that funds the implementation of the obscenity known as Obamacare; if it had rejected the taxpayer subsidy for killing unborn children to be handed to Planned Parenthood; if it had rejected taxpayer funding of the government’s left-wing propaganda organ, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, there might be a whisper of a chance I would give the RNC a dime.

Of course, none of that happened. The “leadership” in the House won’t even come down firmly in favor of not raising the debt limit – let alone on introducing the kinds of spending cuts that would really make a difference in the long run, and that would signal to American taxpayers and the world that there is any seriousness about getting us out of debtor-nation slavery.

What sorts of cuts am I talking about? How about defunding Obamacare, the Department of Education, the EPA’s “cap and trade” scam, the FCC’s initiative to regulate the Internet and shut down talk radio, all foreign aid to countries that routinely fund terrorism and discriminate against Christians, and – yes, I’m saying it – the Cowboy Poetry Festival. That is just a tiny percentage of the wasteful and self-destructive government activity we can do without.

Individual Republican candidates may see some small change from me, if there is any left over after buying gas and inflated groceries, but RNC, don’t hold your breath.

If you care so much about what The New York Times, The Washington Post or The Huffington Post think, ask them for money.

SORRY, Internet Closed! NOW WHAT?

February 3, 2011

Who pulled the plug?

(Geekspeak Alert! Multiple occurrences of Information Technology jargon and abbreviations follow. Approach at your own risk.)

What if, what if, what if…? The recent discussion of the Egyptians’ reliance on the Internet for communication in their uprising, and of the “Internet Kill Switch” legislation in our own Congress, led me to thinking about preparedness in general, and emergency communication in particular.

The Internet has gone from an obscure fad to a virtual communication spinal cord in a couple of decades. It’s “the network of networks.” It’s “the cloud,” and the “information superhighway.” To some, it’s a free-flowing gutter; to others, it’s a lifeline to information, communication and entertainment they can’t imagine being without.

You are “plugged in,” to one degree or another, to that “cloud,” or you wouldn’t be reading this.

What if it went away?

Egypt did its best to shut off public access to the Internet when the rioting in Cairo began to turn into a revolt.

According to a TIME online story, what the Mubarak regime did was order the Internet Service Providers that serve Egypt to shut down their Domain Name Service (DNS servers). The article offers a capsule explanation of DNS:

When you open up your web browser and type a domain name into the address bar—say Time.com, for instance—your service provider sends a lightning-quick request to whichever service provider Time.com uses to make its web pages publicly available on the internet.

The computer that holds all of Time.com’s web pages sends a response back through its internet service provider basically saying, “Yes, we’re online. Here’s the web page you requested.”

That’s part of the story. The critical part of the DNS process is address translation. The Internet doesn’t know from www.yoursite.com. The DNS server converts the Universal Resource label (URL), the “human-friendly” name for the site you want to see, into an Internet Protocol (IP) address, which, for now, is a series of numbers and periods in the format ###.###.###. That is what really travels across town or around the world, to arrive at “www.yoursite.com.”

There’s a lesson, for you. If DNS service is down, you need a list of Internet Protocol addresses you can put into the address field of your browser to get to sites directly.

To get to my favorite Internet news site, World Net Daily, in the absence of DNS service, I simply put “70.85.95.100”(without the quotation marks) into my address field, and go there.

How did I find that out? I opened a command line window (I speak Windows; sorry, Apple and Linux speakers – you’re on your own) and ran the PING command using several of my most frequent browsing destinations.

Here’s an example of the PING command and its output, from my IP address gathering process:

C:\Documents and Settings\Tom Cox>ping drudgereport.com
 Pinging drudgereport.com [209.234.251.93] with 32 bytes of data:
Reply from 209.234.251.93: bytes=32 time=105ms TTL=46
Reply from 209.234.251.93: bytes=32 time=113ms TTL=46
Reply from 209.234.251.93: bytes=32 time=112ms TTL=46
Reply from 209.234.251.93: bytes=32 time=111ms TTL=46 
Ping statistics for 209.234.251.93:
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
 Minimum = 105ms, Maximum = 113ms, Average = 110ms

The important information here isn’t the lousy ping times I get from my ISP, but the fact that when I enter the domain name — drudgereport.com in this case – (note the omission of “www” and the like), PING gives me the IP address, (209.234.251.93) it got from the DNS server I am currently connected to, which it uses to find the right server at the other end and measure the time required to get an acknowledgment.

Obviously, taking down the DNS service will impede access for those who don’t know how to get around it, but just as obviously, that is a porous barrier to the Internet. Not only can people who have stored their most-used IP addresses locally get through, but satellite-based ISPs, as well as any ISP who can be reached by dial-up, even in another hemisphere, can provide access, however slow and filtered that access may be. Any regime or force that wants to cut off Internet service completely, or at least much more completely than the Egyptian government did, has to take down wireline phone service, as well as cellular service, and jam satellite downlink frequencies.

The Internet is designed with “robustness” in mind, with multiple paths among connected nodes, and that makes an “Internet Kill Switch”more of a challenge than it may appear to be from a user’s perspective. (Thanks to Bruce Schneier, long-time Internet security and encryption expert)

If it were possible to take down the Internet in a given region, the results may be a classic, “be careful what you wish for” scenario. Governments that want to clamp down on the Internet may discover too late how dependent their own activities are on it. Will they be able to use government debit cards to refuel military vehicles? Will their air traffic control system’s communication network collapse? How about the electrical grid, public transportation, metropolitan traffic control systems, for starters – will a government that wants to enhance its grip on its population deliberately blind and deafen itself, just to silence social networks and news outlets?

Government suppression of the Internet may be the least of our concerns, in fact. We don’t even need our government to put the Internet at risk. Two other “actors” may be a lot more likely to succeed where governments fail: terrorists, and the sun.

All it will take is a little, tiny episode of solar flatulence, known scientifically as a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). The sun, notorious for its stubborn inclination to ignore and flaunt government regulations and environmentalist lobbying, is about due for another of its periodic episodes of instability. This instability includes a tendency to fling huge clouds of high-energy particles out from its nearly-endless supply of such materials.

A solar corona hole, February 3, 2011, courtesy http://www.spaceweather.com

 

Should our planet happen to be in the way of one of these clouds, the results will be spectacular and calamitous, but not unprecedented. As it passes through the cloud, the energy in the cloud will induce electric currents in any conductor, such as a power line or radio antenna, and the currents induced may be much greater than the conductor, and any connected equipment, can tolerate.

The earth itself will rattle with the shock of this blast of energy. A geomagnetic storm is a secondary effect of the CME. The earth’s magnetic field will ring like a bell, with effects on life and technology both known and unknown.

The history of these storms shows but a hint of the potential impact on the whole energy-transportation-communication-security-economy infrastructure.

This impact would not be an overnight phenomenon, but could bathe the earth in strong energy clouds for weeks or months. The associated Aurora displays might be spectacularly beautiful, but most of us will be too busy trying to survive the other effects to have much time top enjoy the show.

Aurora, courtesy Wikipedia

Aurora Borealis, courtesy Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Polarlicht_2.jpg

Ole’ Mom Nature and government shutdowns are not the only way uncontrollable forces can have a huge impact on the Internet and the rest of the infrastructure.  A small, but well-funded group of terrorists, or “axis of evil” agents, armed with a small nuclear weapon and a “SCUD” class, intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) can blind and cripple us, too.

SCUD on semi-trailer launcher, courtesy Wklipedia

 

A nondescript container ship could pull up off the Atlantic coast a hundred miles out from Washington DC, and launch a missile sold or donated by Russia, North Korea, Iran, or a non-state entity with lots of money. If the missile has a warhead consisting of, say, a refurbished Russian tactical nuclear warhead, furnished by the same thoughtful donor or another, or sold by some organized crime venture, the goal would be to detonate the missile not on or near the ground, as in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks, but a hundred miles or so above Washington, or nearby.

The nuclear detonation, even resulting from a very small, “suitcase”-style weapon, would have the expected blast effects from heat and sudden pressure – although they would be diminished on the ground due to the high altitude of the detonation — but it would also create a huge, sharp electromagnetic pulse (EMP). Before discounting the possibly existence of nuclear warheads small enough to launch above a SCUD-sized IRBM, recall that both the Russians and Americans developed and built thousands of nuclear artillery shells, one of which was successfully test-fired and detonated.

The upper atmosphere would interact with the pulse to create a huge, secondary pulse that would spread over an area of hundreds, or thousands, of square miles. There would be instant and dramatic effects on anything electrical for hundreds or thousands of miles in any direction. The impulse would be far stronger than a CME-induced surge, but lasting only a fraction of a second. The effect, though, would last for months, or years, in terms of its effect on the nation.

The effect on a society as dependent on electricity and electronics as ours, would be devastating, and that is not just the apocalyptic fantasy of a few catastrophe freaks and post-apocalypse survival enthusiasts. Credible groups have testified before Congress on the potential effects of such an attack, but with little apparent impact on our national priorities.

Nightmarish scenarios exist, such as a novel by a historian named William Forstchen, One Second After.

There is considerable disagreement as to the scientific and technical accuracy of the novel’s predictions, as one can see in the extended discussion of the book on Amazon, but not much disagreement that the effects will be severe and long-lasting. As long as the Internet stays up, you can learn more about EMP in its various forms at EMPact America, http://www.empactamerica.org/

Whether the cause of the outage is government action, terrorism or solar storms, doing without the Internet is

What’s a communication-dependent technophile to do? Do you carry a spare tire in your car? Why? The odds of a flat in the middle of nowhere are low, but the repercussions are severe – what disaster prep strategists refer to as a “low probability, high consequences event.”

Technophiles are smart to be ready with multiple options for communications, to fit the circumstances. Dead cell phone battery? Where’s your crank-up charger? Power out for an extended period? Cable system, wireline phone system, and cell service down? Where’s your CB radio, your GMRS/FRS portable radio set, your crystal radio, complete with rolled-up, ready-to-launch wire antenna, your HF ham radio and accessories, your fire starting kit, your wood stove, your bottled water, your toilet paper, your emergency food, your maps, your compass, your handgun, your rifle, your ammunition…

From a dead DNS server to the collapse of civil society and enemy attack – you can be a victim, or you can be prepared.