Friday, July 31, 2015

Marco Rubio and Cecil the Lion

Marco Rubio is ambushed by TMZ at the airport to get his opinion on a pressing moral issue of our time, and surprises everyone by redirecting the issue to a little known, esoteric story that no one has ever heard of.

You want to talk about a lion? We've got people chopping up dead babies for parts like they're Chevys and I'm supposed to give rip about some old lion who no one on planet earth knew about until about five minutes ago when he gets culled from the herd and whose death will pay a great deal for conservation efforts that wouldn't otherwise be funded? No thanks. We live in such an age of trivia. 

Bread and circuses, I guess.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bourbon Review: Maker's Mark Cask Strength

My mother-in-law dropped by the other day and left me with some bourbon. Did I mention I have a great mother-in-law? I do.

One bourbon she left me with is the Maker's Mark "Cask Strength" offering, which has a higher alcohol content (around 111 proof) than the regular Maker's Mark (90 proof). You would think that going with a higher amount of alcohol would result in a bourbon that has more "burn" to it, but the guys at Maker's have figured out how to raise the alcohol content while still delivering a relatively smooth bourbon. 

Essentially, the difference between this and the original Maker's Mark is that the Cask Strength isn't cut with any water after barreling like the original stuff is. They basically just take it straight out of the barrel and bottle it. This results in not only a more potent bourbon, but one that is richer in flavor.

The first thing I noticed is that this high-test version still has a very nice aroma of vanilla and oak, just like its lower-powered older brother. Upon finishing, where you would expect the "burn", there is just a nice warm feeling that lingers for a little while and then fades. No overwhelming heat or bitterness.

The boys down in Loretto, Kentucky have hit a home run with this one. If you like Maker's Mark, and are looking to try something just a little bolder, this is it.

Three out of four stars.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hillary Clinton won't tell us what she thinks about Keystone XL

I know, I know. You're all shocked that Hillary Clinton won't give a direct answer to a simple question. Yep, she's a true statesman, taking a principled stand on important issues of our times. I mean, it's just crazy to expect that someone running for President tell you what their position is before you vote for her.

I wonder if ol' Bernie Sanders can make any political hay out of this. He's against it, so maybe he can get the hard environmentalist left to come over to his side. But they're probably already there, no?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Good luck to everyone taking the SC Bar Exam today!

It's actually not just today. It's actually today, tomorrow, and Wednesday.

Back in my day, we took the bar exam at the State Fairgrounds, and we didn't get to use those new-fangled computers, either. It was all pencil and paper.

And we liked it.

(Just kidding. We hated it.)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Ghost of Joe Wilson and Health Care in California

Anyone remember this?

Yeah, about that. He may have broken with decorum and rudely interrupted the President, but it appears that Joe Wilson wasn't wrong. So he's got that going for him.

From Forbes:
State Senator Richard Lara has already moved a bill through the California State Senate that would allow illegal immigrants to buy unsubsidized health insurance in the state’s Obamacare exchange. The state would have to receive a federal waiver from the Obama administration before implementing it.

The bill would also extend coverage to illegal residents under the age of 19 to enroll in California’s fully paid-for Medicaid program.

The Pew Research Center has estimated that there are 2.5 million illegal immigrants in California.
Advantage Joe Wilson, unless the Obama Administration comes out and flatly rejects the idea that they'll grant the waiver request. Anyone want to place some bets on how that's going to go?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

No kidding, huh?

People tend to be happier on the weekend than during the week, according to new research published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

I'm glad the National Bureau of Economic Research is here to tell us these important things.

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Rifle Behind Every Blade of Grass

"You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass." - often attributed to Isoroku Yamamoto 
In the wake of my previous post about the suit against the City of Columbia's temporary weapons ban, I've had quite a few conversations about generally carrying concealed weapons and being a CWP holder.

Usually, when I have these conversations, I am going back and forth with people who are against carrying handguns. I mean, it does no good to just sit around and talk with people who agree with you. That's boring. In these conversations, it's hard to break through to an anti-gun person who simply has their mind made up that guns are bad. For instance, I've had people compare being a CWP holder to being a drunk driver on the theory that there will ultimately be a gun-related accident. You can't really reach those people, or at least I haven't figured out how.

However, there are a lot of people who don't have their views so set in stone. I'm hoping to reach those people.

I've also been thinking about the unarmed Marines who were shot last week in Chattanooga, TN. It boggles my mind that the United States Marine Corps has to try and hide while calling the local sheriff's office to deal with a crazy ISIS-inspired shooter who arrives at their doorstep.

So what do these carrying concealed have to do with the shooting in Chattanooga?

First, I think we would all agree that the current threat from ISIS and other similar terrorist organizations (include the crazy white supremacist Dylan Roof, too) is a wide threat. The list of potential targets is vast. ISIS has specifically called on "lone-wolf" style attacks to sporadically and seemingly at random, attack targets of opportunity here in the United States.

Law enforcement cannot be everywhere all the time. They aren't designed to be an omnipresent force. So when the threat is a nebulous threat that can strike with small attacks across a wide range of targets, you have to have a defense that counters that threat.

Enter the private, armed citizen. You go about your routine business all day long, going to work, the store, and other errands. The more good citizens we have who are capable of responding to threats, the better our defense will be. You're going to be somewhere, so make your presence a small part of the network of defense. If a normal civilian had been at that mall in Chattanooga, he or she might have been able to stop the attacker.

You are already at the scene of wherever you are. Rather than being a bystander who is forced to dial 911 on their iPhone and wait for the police, be a first responder. Have the ability to protect yourself and others. You don't have to be a bystander - you have the choice to be a first responder.

Now, this means that you have to know how to properly, safely, and competently use the firearm that you decide to carry. You can't just go buy a gun and say Mission Accomplished. You have to train. You have to be prepared. You have to know what the heck you're doing. Just buying a guitar does not make you a musician. You have to learn how to play it.

If more people carried concealed weapons in a responsible manner, we would be better prepared to deal with these sort of widely scattered attacks that happen with no warning. You're already there. Decide if you're going to be part of the background or part of the solution.

I need to get the range again.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Here's a copy of the filed Complaint and Motion from the suit against the City of Columbia's temporary weapons ban

Today, Brad brought my attention to the suit that has been filed against City of Columbia's temporary weapons ban around the Statehouse grounds.

The backstory is that the City of Columbia was concerned about violence occurring in the wake of the Confederate Flag coming down, that they passed a temporary (30 day) emergency ordinance that prohibited "dangerous weapons" in an area 250 feet extended from the Statehouse grounds. You already cannot carry a firearm on the Statehouse grounds. When I first saw the ordinance, I just kind of rolled my eyes. I can't solve all the world's problems.

Now, someone with even more of a bee in their bonnet than me (hard to imagine, right?) has filed a suit challenging the ban.

The filed pleadings are here.

It's fairly compelling. I think the strongest argument is the fact that SC Code 23-31-510 states:
"No governing body of any county, municipality, or other political subdivision in the State may enact or promulgate any regulation or ordinance that regulates or attempts to regulate the transfer, ownership, possession, carrying, or transportation of firearms, ammunition, components of firearms, or any combination of these things"
Right there, state law clearly says that municipalities don't get to start regulating where you can carry firearms - which is exactly what the City of Columbia did.

I'd probably grant summary judgment on the whole thing on that issue alone. I'll be interested to see what the City's response is. The suit also makes a good argument about the fact that "dangerous weapon" is not defined in the ordinance, nor does the ordinance have any reason for why it is 250 feet and not larger.

The thing is, the City Council just wanted to do something, or look like they were doing something and they didn't really think about the legal issues involved. The problem is that they don't have any downside for passing laws like this. I mean, what does Mayor Benjamin care if the law is ultimately struck down? He doesn't have any downside, personally. It's not like he has to hire a lawyer and defend the suit. He probably doesn't care.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Semper Fi

Today, the United States Marine Corps lost four men at the hands of an enemy of the United States.


At some point we have to do something. At some point, we have to act. The enemy is killing our service-members. At some point, we have to decide to fight back. What does it say that these Marines were unarmed and had to resort to calling civilian law enforcement to protect them? We trust them with national secrets. We trust them to face gunfire and horrors unknown to civilians. We trust them not to engage in a coup. Yet we don't trust them, on base and while on duty, with weapons?

Marines should not have to call for help. They are the ones who knock.

Lord God,

Grant mercy to those who now come to your gates. Grant healing to the wounded, as many of the wounds will be invisible. Grant peace and comfort to the victims and their families.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Splitting Wood and Being in the World

I know it sounds weird when I say that splitting wood is a wonderful way to relax, but it is. Feeling what is heavy wood splitting beneath the swing of your axe (or maul) is a wonderful feeling. You feel it, more than think about it.

It's sensory. Every part of your body works together to put the swing together, starting up from your toes, coiling your legs, up through your core, and culminating as you whip the your arms and blade down onto the bucked log section, focusing on exactly where you want the edge to fall.

You don't get that same feeling drafting a motion for summary judgment on the office computer, or even arguing in Court. Being outside and feeling the sun shine on your back while splitting wood and enjoying the fresh smell of the wood being opened up is hard to beat.

We should try and not let our iPads and laptops shackle us inside all the time. Be in the world.

Monday, July 13, 2015

News Roundup, Monday, July 13, 2015

Happy Monday. Time to get back in the saddle.

Here is your news for today:

1. Greece might be sent to "time-out". Reports are coming in that if "time-out" doesn't work, the Germans will increase the consequences to "No television for a week" and then "No going over to play with your friends in Italy for a month".

2. Scott Walker is announcing his candidacy for President today. At this point, it might be more helpful if we just got a show of hands from Republicans who aren't running for President.

3. Some bird-brain at a flea market in CT was so offended by the Confederate Flag he saw, he called 911.  I'm not sure what he expected. Did he think think the secret police were going to come in and haul everyone off to jail?

4. The FBI admitted that their incompetence was the reason Dylan Roof was allowed to buy a gun. Please, tell me more about how we need more background checks, though.

Friday, July 10, 2015