Defiance and the Second Amendment

Just saw the movie Defiance. At one point I leaned over to my wife, who hates guns, and whispered:
“This is why I’m keeping my rifle.”
She whispered back:
“I understand.”

About a week ago a friend on Facebook sent a message to several others, including a video, which I put on a recent post about gun rights in Britain. There was a fairly lively exchange within the group.

One anti-gun comment struck me: There is absolute evil in the world, but it’s quite rare.

“Absolute evil” is not the problem. Watch out instead for the ordinary evil that is produced by extraordinary circumstances. Economic problems in Germany contributed to the rise of Hitler and the Nazis. See Wikipedia. Many Jews in Europe, even as the Nazis were openly killing them, still could not believe it could happen. It can. We may feel safe at the moment, but the danger of tyranny is always with us.

Our constitutional rights have been under assault for decades now. The Supreme Court just took another major step toward eviscerating the Fourth Amendment, as discussed in the New York Times. If you think about the drug war and its impact on the poor and on Blacks and Hispanics, we’re not as far away as you might think.

I don’t spend much time worrying about Osama, Al Qaeda, drugs, Mexican immigrants or bank failures. The real danger is how politicians continue to use these bogeymen to scare us into accepting the loss of even more freedom.

On a day-to-day basis I still feel safe. But when I think about all that is going on, I’m not completely confident. I’ll keep my rifle, and I’ll be ready to bear it.

Donald Csaposs: Cyberstalker?

Update: Click the following for the latest in Don Csaposs stalking me on the web.
For those who don’t know, Donald Csaposs is a Guilderland town employee. His current title is “Grant Writer,” though he has had other titles in the past, such as “Economic Development Director.” Many consider him to be Ken Runion‘s right-hand man.

Well, Donald Csaposs appears to have another life. I don’t think this makes him my fan, but he certainly likes to talk about me. Do a search on Google for “Comment by Donald” redlich on the Times Union blogs and you’ll see he has posted numerous comments about me. (Comments appear at the bottom of the blog posts.) This does not include the many comments posted under fake names such as Col. Bat Guano, haddanuffathiscrap, reality now and factsdontlieliarslie. Then there Don’s recent and completely out of the blue shot at me on Kristi Gustafson.

Of course it really isn’t just about me. Do the same search, but only for Comment by Donald or just Csaposs and you’ll see he is prolific – hundreds of results. One of my fellow town board members is another frequent target. But his latest is about me – in a post about the 20th congressional district special election. Will it never end?

He complained when I called him a “taxpayer funded political operative.” But he posted three attack comments during work hours in one Times Union blog post about a McKownville campaign event, and there were others.

Guilderland residents should wonder if Runion’s star employee does anything to make the town better. The evidence for that is scant.

And you might wonder why a guy with such a fascination for computers would leave that cushy job at Trustco.

Britain and Gun Rights

And here’s another interesting video (9 minutes long):

Another Casualty of the War on Drugs

Just noticed this on the web. Rachel Hoffman was killed by our idiotic drug war policies. As a parent, this story is the nightmare I hope to avoid for myself and so many others. A newscast that gives some description is below:


Philadelphia Traffic Court – Too Many Tickets?

Just read a great column that mentions the Philadelphia Traffic Court. The writer, Stu Bykofsky from the Philadelphia Daily News notes that their police made 357,000 traffic stops in 2008 (and 212,000 pedestrian stops). That’s amazing.

Compare the New York State Police. They wrote just over 1 million tickets in 2007 (per the Legislative Gazette) – that’s for a big chunk of the whole state of New York. Philly has about 1.5 million people. New York State, excluding NYC (where Troopers write few if any tickets), is over 10 million people.

Philadelphia police are making too many traffic stops – maybe that’s why the population is declining.

Tracey Brooks: Would she have done anything different?

In times like this, with the US facing a serious economic crisis, you just have to wonder what Tracey Brooks would do if she went to Congress. I have a pretty good idea what Steven Vasquez would have done (stop wasting money, duh). I’m sure Paul Tonko will be doing more of the same of what Washington will be doing. And, truth be told, Tracey Brooks probably would have been no different.

I watch all these talking heads on CNN and it sounds like they now all support the ideas Ron Paul was talking about during the campaign. They can’t bear to say anything that would suggest he was right and they should have spoken out sooner.

Does Bogus Rhyme With Stimulus?

As Obama and the new Congress roll towards a trillion dollar stimulus package, it’s time to take a look at the concept of the government use of a “stimulus” to boost the economy.

The general idea underlying this idea is that fiscal policy can be used in a recession to stimulate economic activity. But there’s a problem with how it’s applied.

You see, if you’re going to use fiscal policy as a stimulus when the economy is weak, you should also do the opposite when it’s strong. Thus, if increased spending is sound economic policy now, then decreased spending was appropriate before we got into trouble.

But that ain’t what happened. When the economy is booming, then that itself is used as a justification for more spending and tax cuts as well. During times of economic growth, tax revenues increase because of all the economic activity. Politicians see this as an opportunity to hand out candy to constituents.

Whatever the economic situation, you can count on Washington (and other levels of government) to come up with rationalizations for more spending.

Voters should always demand candidates answer the tough questions:

Where is the money coming from?
Are you going to raise my taxes?
Are you going to cut spending somewhere else?
Are you going to borrow from our children?
Are you just going to print money and if so, won’t that increase inflation?

Let’s see them answer questions like that.

In Memory of a Great Aunt

My great-aunt passed away recently. She was 90 years old – not a bad run. Unfortunately she got bone cancer and her last months were painful.

She was my mother’s father’s little sister. I felt a strong connection to her even though we rarely saw each other. We lived on opposite coasts for most of my life. My grandfather died when I was pretty young. He lived long enough for me to remember him fondly, and she reminded me so much of him.

There’s something that stands out to me about my grandparents. It seems like their generation is the last group of Americans who didn’t think they were entitled to something. They just worked. They worked to make their lives better, and to give their children and grandchildren better lives too. They pushed the value of education and hard work.

My grandfather and his parents were immigrants (my great aunt was born here). Unlike some immigrants today, that group wanted their kids to learn English, and English only. They avoided teaching the home country language because they wanted the kids to fit in. The day they got here they were Americans, with no thought of going back.

I can’t see my grandparents’ generation getting caught up in subprime mortgages or loading up on credit card debt. They didn’t live beyond their means. Maybe they weren’t as great as I imagine, but seeing them that way sits well with me. They were role models before anyone ever thought that was for athletes.