Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Defend the Right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

What does mean by "'we' are responsible'"?
Along with our freedom to live our lives as we will comes an obligation to allow others to do the same. We don’t live in isolation. We live in a society, a government for and by the people. We are responsible for each other. We have the right to worship freely and safely; that right was denied to Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. The right to assemble peacefully; that right was denied shoppers in Placimus (ph), Oregon, and moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado. That most fundamental set of rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, fundamental rights that were denied to college students at Virginia Tech and high school students at Columbine and elementary school students in Newtown; and kids on street corners in Chicago on too frequent basis to tolerate; and all the families who never imagined they’d lose a loved one to — to a bullet, those rights are at stake. We’re responsible.
-- President Barack Obama

President Obama will use children as human shields, and guns to protect him

Surrounded by children today, President Obama will make an announcement regarding his plan for gun control. Ironically, there will be dozens of guns in the room and not a single one of those children will be in danger.

Perhaps the guns will be to protect him from the children.

how can the horse have no name?

If you've been through the desert on a horse with no name... you probably had some time on your hands. Come on buddy, NAME THE HORSE!
-- Chris Veith

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

right-wing media propagating left-wing stereotypes

I will be honest, whenever Fox News talks about poverty, welfare, and irresponsible fathers, it does appear to have a habit of highlighting Black men and women.

Whether intentional or not, it would create a very harsh stereotype among its viewers.

While I am always willing to speak to the negative cycles of the community I live in and am unafraid to call out the perversion of culture I have seen among many Black leaders, I will not pretend that I don't notice some of the negative sensationalizing and imaging from even some Conservative media.

All it does is fuel the accusations from the left and gives it life.

I don't like the identity politics when discussing entitlements. The entitlement culture and increasing disregard of the value of a two parent home is not limited to any one ethnic group in America.

When only one group is talked about or represented in news coverage about the entitlement culture , it just doesn't convey an accurate or truthful message, in my opinion.
-- Stacy Swimp Jan 15 2013

Liberty only gets in the way of fascists' good intentions

Jim Treacher says
Liberal fascists don't see themselves as fascists because they believe their intentions are good. The problem is always too much liberty.
Gavin Witter comments
real fascists believe their intentions are good too.

it's hard to believe there are now Sandy Hook Truthers

It takes a special kind of immoral nutjob to allege that a small town is complicit in the falsification and construction of a schoolhouse slaughter.  Jonah Goldberg briefly opines on the works of these jerks.
Good Lord, this is awful. From Salon:
 “I don’t know what to do,” sighed Gene Rosen. “I’m getting hang up calls, I’m getting some calls, I’m getting emails with, not direct threats, but accusations that I’m lying, that I’m a crisis actor, ‘how much am I being paid’?” Someone posted a photo of his house online. There have been phony Google+ and YouTube accounts created in his name, messages on white supremacist message boards ridiculing the “emotional Jewish guy,” and dozens of blog posts and videos “exposing” him as a fraud. One email purporting to be a business inquiry taunted: “How are all those little students doing? You know, the ones that showed up at your house after the ‘shooting’. What is the going rate for getting involved in a gov’t sponsored hoax anyway?”
“The quantity of the material is overwhelming,” he said. So much so that a friend shields him from most of it by doing daily sweeps of the web so Rosen doesn’t have to. His wife is worried for their safety. He’s logged every email and every call, and consulted with a retired state police officer, who took the complaint seriously but said police probably can’t do anything at the moment, and he plans to do the same with the FBI.
What did Rosen do to deserve this? One month ago, he found six little children and a bus driver at the end of the driveway of his home in Newtown, Connecticut. “We can’t go back to school,” one little boy told Rosen. “Our teacher is dead.” He brought them inside and gave them food and juice and toys. He called their parents. He sat with them and listened to their shocked accounts of what had happened just down the street inside Sandy Hook Elementary, close enough that Rosen heard the gunshots.
In the hours and days that followed, Rosen did a lot of media interviews. “I wanted to speak about the bravery of the children, and it kind of helped me work through this,” he told Salon in an interview.  “I guess I kind of opened myself up to this.”
The “this” in question is becoming a prime target of the burgeoning Sandy Hook Truther movement, which — like its precursor that denied the veracity of the 9/11 terror attacks — alleges that the entire shooting was a hoax of some kind. There were conspiracy theories surrounding the shooting from day one, but the movement has exploded into public view the past two weeks, and a Google Tends search suggests it’s just now picking up steam. It’s also beginning to earn the backing of presumably credible sources like a professor and a reporter.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

follow the figurehead or follow principle

People who like Joe Arpaio do so because crossing a perceived liberal establishment is more important to them than any values of their own.
-- source 

The simple question is do you follow a politician out of principle or because of whom the politician has antagonized?  Do you embrace a set of policies because of the politician involved?  How much of your political activity is dependent on the names involved?  This could just as easily be referring to Ron Paul or Justin Amash or anyone.

I have seen it apply to people's mental image of Barry Goldwater, whose views as he got older were in some instances contrary to when he was a Republican candidate for President.  Either way it means herds of sheep, men not guided by their own integrity but by weird hero worship.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Jeff Cooper regarding the Morality of the Gun, an animate object

The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles.
 - Col. Jeff Cooper

the Uneducated Say That Educators Cannot Use Guns

This is a popular meme:

In response to the idea of having trained individuals be armed with weapons in a school my friend responded thusly:
I would home school my children if I knew that guns were in the school. Why not arm the students, too?
For one thing I think he missed the part about the teachers being actually trained to use the guns. More to the point resistance to the very idea of armed law-abiding citizens within a certain proximity to children inspires outright fear of particular inanimate objects; the people that fear guns like this generally perceive guns as little more than talismans of death regardless of the capabilities of anyone to direct them.

All of that indicates the tremendous need for education regarding firearms. 

the Nefarious Tale of Gaston Glock

Business Week published this article alleging that Gaston Glock's business practices were and are quite evil. I'm not certain enough so I recommend taking this with a grain of salt. If I were a commercial journalist this would be a counterpoint to to the origin of the weapon linked yesterday. The fact is an outright lie is a terrible thing to disseminate but correct data than be interpreted should be brought to more eyes, not less.

Glock's Secret Path to Profits

By , , and on September 10, 2009
Gaston Glock, an Austrian manufacturer of shovels and knives, had an improbable dream: He would make a fortune selling handguns in America. In the early 1980s, Glock, a self-taught firearm designer, produced an innovative pistol for the Austrian military. He then devised a plan for promoting his invention in the U.S., the world's richest gun market. First, he'd persuade American police they needed a lightweight weapon with more ammunition than traditional revolvers. Then he'd use his law enforcement bona fides to win over private gun buyers.

The strategy succeeded spectacularly. By the late 1980s, major police departments across the U.S. wanted more firepower to combat crack-cocaine violence. Glock had the answer. No less impressed, street gangsters adopted the squared-off Austrian handgun as an emblem of thuggish prestige. Hip-hoppers rapped about Glocks; Hollywood put the pistol in the hands of action heroes.

Gaston Glock shouldered past the storied American brand Smith & Wesson (SWHC) to make his creation the best-known police handgun in the U.S., and probably the world. When American soldiers hauled Saddam Hussein from his underground hideout in 2003, the deposed Iraqi ruler surfaced with a Glock.

Today the company claims 65% of the American law-enforcement market, an amazing accomplishment for a privately held manufacturer based in tiny Ferlach in southern Austria. U.S. fans celebrate "Glockmas," the 80-year-old founder's July 19 birthday. U.S. sales soared 71% in the first quarter of its 2010 fiscal year, largely due to what gun executives call the "Obama stimulus": fear among gun owners that the liberal President plans to curb the marketing of handguns. Gaston Glock played on that anxiety in an open letter to customers in January. "As shooters and gun owners, we must band together with even greater zeal than in the past," he wrote. "We are not going to roll over and have our guns taken away because of some of our misguided neighbors, no matter who they are."

Behind the Glock phenomenon, however, is another story, one rife with intrigue and allegations of wrongdoing. The company's hidden history raises questions about its taxpayer-financed law-and-order franchise. Is this a company that deserves the patronage of America's police? Does Glock merit the lucrative loyalty of private American gun buyers? The Glock tale also underscores the difficulty U.S. regulators have overseeing complex international businesses.

CLAIMS OF SKIMMINGAllegations of corruption permeate Gaston Glock's empire. His former business associate, Charles Marie Joseph Ewert, now resides in a prison in Luxembourg, having been convicted in 2003 of contracting to have Glock killed. The murder plot—thwarted when the victim, then 70, fought off a hammer-wielding hit man—led to a trial that revealed a network of shell companies linked to Gaston Glock. That corporate web is now under scrutiny by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, according to lawyers familiar with the probe. Attorneys for Glock have acknowledged the misuse of company funds. But they blame most of the wrongdoing on Ewert, a money man known in the European press as "Panama Charly."

Among the Glock-related material the IRS allegedly is examining: boxes of invoices and memos provided by the company's former senior executive in the U.S., Paul F. Jannuzzo. Once one of the most prominent gun industry executives in America, Jannuzzo said in a federal complaint he filed last year that Gaston Glock used his companies' complicated structure to conceal profits from American tax authorities. "[Glock] has organized an elaborate scheme to both skim money from gross sales and to launder those funds through various foreign entities," Jannuzzo alleged in the sealed May 12, 2008, IRS filing, which BusinessWeek has reviewed. "The skim is approximately $20.00 per firearm sold," according to the complaint. Glock's U.S. unit, which generates the bulk of the company's sales, has sold about 5 million pistols since the late 1980s, Jannuzzo estimates in an interview.

A burly man with a staccato delivery, Jannuzzo has several potential motives for airing these allegations. As a whistleblower, he is seeking a percentage of any federal tax recovery. He is also fighting embezzlement charges by his former employer. Since 2007, the company has been providing information about Jannuzzo to authorities in Cobb County, Ga., where Glock's American subsidiary is based. The Cobb County District Attorney's Office is prosecuting Jannuzzo—who once represented the company at a White House Rose Garden ceremony and on CBS' (CBS) 60 Minutes—for siphoning corporate money into a Cayman Islands account. Jannuzzo, who left the company in 2003, claims he's the victim of a vendetta.

Speaking on behalf of the company and Gaston Glock, Carlos Guevara, the general counsel of Glock Inc. in the U.S., said in a written statement: "Glock has acted lawfully and properly throughout its history. Unfortunately, Glock was victimized by several former employees and fiduciaries," including Ewert and Jannuzzo. "The Glock companies are exceptionally well-run and managed. Glock's tax filings and reporting are accurate."

Still, eyebrow-raising goings-on appear to have been standard at Glock. After the attempt on Gaston Glock's life, an internal investigation conducted at his instruction turned up documents apparently showing that a Glock affiliate in Panama helped in 1995 to start a bank called Unibank Offshore in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Unibank's co-founder was an alleged money launderer named Hakki Yaman Namli.

In the U.S., Jannuzzo and another former Glock executive, Peter S. Manown, have claimed that for years they distributed company funds to their wives and Glock employees with the understanding that the money would be donated to congressional candidates—an apparent violation of U.S. election law. The ex-executives, who say they acted with Gaston Glock's approval, have estimated the total amount in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Buttressing this allegation are ledger entries and cancelled checks. Guevara, the company lawyer, said: "Glock has never authorized, and would never authorize, any act that would violate U.S. campaign finance laws."

Glock's political and public relations activities in the U.S. sometimes have tended toward strangeness. Internal records show payments of thousands of dollars a month over several years to a gun industry lobbyist named Richard Feldman. In interviews, Feldman says that at Gaston Glock's request he spent some of the money in 1999 and 2000 to arrange U.S. appearances by Jörg Haider, then the leader of Austria's anti-immigrant, far-right Freedom Party. Glock has been described in Austria as a political supporter of Haider, although the arms maker has sued both an Austrian newspaper and a politician there for making that claim. The arrangements Feldman says he worked on included Haider's attendance at a January 2000 banquet in New York honoring the birthday of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. The King dinner, sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality, received media coverage because Hillary Clinton criticized her then-rival for a New York Senate seat, Rudolph Giuliani, for attending the celebration Haider present.

Before he died in a car accident last year, Haider stirred controversy, according to media reports, for praising the "character" of elite Nazi SS troops and the "employment policy" of Adolph Hitler. "Glock urged me to help Haider overcome some of the [image] problems," says Feldman. The lobbyist says he thoroughly researched the situation to satisfy himself that neither Glock nor Haider ever supported the Nazi cause. "There were loose statements [by Haider] that were blown out of proportion," he says.

Glock's Guevara did not respond to questions about the company's or Gaston Glock's relationship with Haider.

GERMAN ARMY CAMPSGaston Glock has recounted that he first learned about firearms during a short stint as a teenager in a German military training camp near the end of World War II. "I saw rifle, pistol, hand grenade," he recalled in a deposition taken during a product-liability lawsuit in Knoxville, Tenn., in November 1993. "I was getting acquainted when you pull a trigger, that it makes boom." He said he spent "just a few days in camps of the German Army" in 1944 or 1945, when he was 15 or 16 years old. Asked about his wartime experience in subsequent U.S. court proceedings, he has characterized his contact with the German military as extremely limited.

After the war, Glock, a civilian engineer, held a series of manufacturing jobs and eventually came to run his own company. He learned in 1980 that the Austrian army was in the market for a new sidearm. Despite a lack of experience designing guns, he sought the pistol contract. Intense research and consultation with weapon experts prepared him to make a breakthrough. The Austrian Defense Ministry awarded him the contract in 1982, bypassing five other manufacturers.

Simpler than most pistols, the Glock costs relatively little to make. In a 1994 patent lawsuit in the U.S., Glock estimated its profit margin per pistol at 68%. The guns typically sell for $450 to $600 in U.S. retail gun stores. The Glock's polymer frame is formed from a mold, not from the more conventional tooled steel. The Glock ammunition magazine, which snaps into the handle, can hold as many as 19 rounds. Revolvers typically hold only six bullets, which are fired from a revolving cylinder.

When early Glock models began surfacing in the U.S. in the 1980s, they caused a sensation, recalls Massad Ayoob, a personal defense instructor who runs the Lethal Force Institute in Concord, N.H., and has done promotional writing about Glock. "They looked like something out of Star Trek," he says.

DELIGHTING LAW ENFORCEMENTTo sell his gun to U.S. police departments, Glock employed a combination of German-speaking executives and retired American cops. Many police chiefs were receptive to the pitch that they should trade in six-shot revolvers for more potent Glocks. "The bad guys were starting to carry high-capacity weapons, unlike what they had carried in the past," recalls Sheriff John H. Rutherford of Jacksonville, Fla. As a lieutenant, he led a study in 1987 that resulted in the department buying Glocks. The 1,700-member force still uses the brand.

"It was a conscious decision to go after the law enforcement market first," Gaston Glock told Advertising Age in June 1995, when the trade magazine honored him as one of its "Marketing 100" stars. "We assumed that, by pursuing the law enforcement market, we would then receive the benefit of 'after sales' in the commercial market." Police departments from New York to Miami to St. Paul, Minn., signed on. The strategy closely resembles that of firearm pioneer Samuel Colt, who popularized his six-shooter in the mid-19th century by seeking endorsements from soldiers and lawmen.

Syndicated columnist Jack Anderson raised the Glock profile when he wrote in January 1986 that Libya, a notorious terrorist threat, was trying to acquire Austrian-made "plastic" guns that could evade metal detectors. Glock pistols are actually made mostly of metal and are easily identified by alert airport screeners. The company denied it was marketing to Libya. Rather than tarnish the gunmaker, the Anderson column helped spread the idea that serious bad guys preferred Glocks, says Robert Ricker, a longtime lobbyist for the firearm industry. "It was an incredible lucky break," Ricker adds. "It raised public awareness, got people interested in it." Sales grew rapidly.

At nearly every turn, Gaston Glock and his executives displayed impressive marketing and legal savvy. When arch-rival Smith & Wesson in 1994 came out with a Glock-like pistol called the Sigma, Jannuzzo led a successful patent-infringement lawsuit. S&W agreed to pay an undisclosed settlement and modify its gun. An S&W spokesman declined to comment on the confidential resolution, other than to say the company had neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing. Glock now offers about 40 models in various calibers. "They're simple, they work, and you don't have to mess with them," says Herman Gunter III, an investment adviser in Live Oak, Fla. He owns two Glocks for personal defense and target shooting.

The company has boosted its profits with innovative pricing strategies. It has offered discounts to police on new pistols if cities turn over used service weapons and guns confiscated from criminals. Glock has arranged to have the second-hand firearms sold on the used-gun market, where former police weapons command a premium.

With Jannuzzo as its U.S. front man, Glock deftly ducked repeated legal assaults on the gun industry. Jannuzzo, a former state prosecutor in New Jersey who joined the company in 1991, displayed a knack for talking compromise while rarely giving much ground. In one notable episode in 2000, he made encouraging noises about a master settlement with the Clinton Administration and more than 20 cities that would have shielded gunmakers from future liability in exchange for restrictions on gun marketing. But at the last minute, Jannuzzo pulled back from the deal, leaving rival Smith & Wesson as the only industry signatory. A boycott led by the National Rifle Assn. temporarily crippled S&W, while Glock and other manufacturers enjoyed a sales surge. The settlement later collapsed, and the issue faded when Congress passed a statute in 2005 to protect gunmakers in court.

Even as the Glock company faced courtroom challenges in the U.S., a more personal and dangerous conflict was playing out for Gaston Glock in Europe. Beginning in 1987, the Austrian industrialist had employed Charles Ewert as his financial architect. "I was not a salesman. I am a I had to find a partner that helps me to sell the pistol," Glock explained in a U.S. court deposition in September 1995.

Ewert, a mustachioed Luxembourg resident now in his late 50s, wasn't exactly a salesman either. Nicknamed "the Duke" by Glock employees because of his imperious manner, he was a purveyor of shell companies: paper corporations that can be used to shield income from taxation—sometimes legitimately and sometimes in questionable ways. Ewert designed a network of shells to lessen the gun empire's exposure to product liability and potential taxation, according to documents filed with the Luxembourg court. These firms absorbed millions of dollars, the records show.

VIOLENT ATTACKOver time, Ewert transferred ownership of some of the Glock-affiliated shells to himself, according to Luxembourg court judgments. Suspicious of Ewert, Gaston Glock sought an explanation in July 1999. On the afternoon of a meeting scheduled at Ewert's office near the tony Rue Royale in central Luxembourg, Glock was attacked in an underground garage. The hit man, a former professional wrestler and French Legionnaire named Jacques Pecheur, bashed the businessman on the head with a rubber mallet, a technique apparently aimed at making it look like the victim had fallen down and fatally injured himself. Glock, physically fit from daily swimming—often in the frigid lake abutting his home near Klagenfurt, Austria—fought back. When police arrived, they found Glock bleeding from gashes to his skull. Pecheur, 67, was unconscious.

Luxembourg investigators found Ewert's business card in Pecheur's car and determined that the two had met at a gun range in Paris in 1998. Both were convicted of participating in a conspiracy to kill Glock. Pecheur received a sentence of 17 years, Ewert 20.

Ewert denies any involvement in the attack, which he blames on unnamed Glock associates who he alleges wanted to gain control of the manufacturer. "They needed me out of the way so they could grab everything," he says in an interview at a maximum-security prison in rural Luxembourg. His lawyers are appealing his conviction to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, arguing that police improperly seized records from Ewert's office that were protected by attorney-client privilege. Pecheur was released early from prison in 2007 for good behavior, his attorney, Fränk Rollinger, says. Pecheur couldn't be located for comment.

Although Gaston Glock saw his antagonists punished and regained control of his corporate holdings, the investigation of the attempted killing and related financial fraud opened a window on the gun company's finances. Most striking are their sheer complexity. With Ewert's help, Gaston Glock purchased a Panamanian shell company called Reofin International in 1987. Reofin then bought Unipatent Holding, a Luxembourg shell. Unipatent received a 50% stake in Glock's unit in the U.S., where the company generated the vast majority of its revenue. "The purpose of this holding company [Unipatent] was to appear externally as a partner of Glock and hold approximately 50% of the shares of its subsidiaries," according to an Apr. 3, 2000, document entitled "Establishment of the Glock Group," which Gaston Glock's attorneys filed with the Luxembourg court.

Three other shell companies in Ireland, Liberia, and Curaçao were created to issue bills for various "services" to Glock headquarters in Austria and operating units in Latin America and Hong Kong. But these service firms "had no economic substance and were motivated by tax reasons," according to a confidential 92-page analysis of the Glock companies in 2002 by auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. PwC had been retained by the provisional administrator of Unipatent appointed by the Luxembourg court. The PwC auditors found that the service companies' role appeared to be the shielding of profits from potential taxation in Austria, Latin America, and Hong Kong.

The Latin American and Hong Kong units, in turn, appeared to be used to extract profits from the U.S. subsidiary, PwC alleged—an assertion reiterated by the 2008 IRS complaint filed by Jannuzzo. American tax liability allegedly was artificially lowered by having pistols manufactured in Austria sold first to the Latin American and Hong Kong units and then resold for higher prices to Glock Inc. in the U.S. By inflating costs to the American subsidiary, this arrangement decreased the profits the subsidiary reported to the IRS, according to Jannuzzo.

A spokeswoman for the IRS, Patricia Bergstrom, declined to confirm or deny that the agency is investigating Gaston Glock or his companies. The IRS, says Jannuzzo, has interviewed him about Glock three times since June 2008.

Glock's Guevara said that the company has undergone "a series of comprehensive governmental audits going back to 1988" in the U.S. and Austria. "No audit has ever resulted in findings of tax fraud in any jurisdiction," he added.

For nearly three years after the attempt on his life, Gaston Glock employed a team of investigators to probe the workings of his own company. This group, referred to in internal correspondence as "the A-Team," was headed by James R. Harper III, an ex-U.S. Justice Dept. prosecutor. Harper discovered that Reofin, the Glock affiliate in Panama, had taken part in starting Unibank Offshore in Northern Cyprus in 1995. Unibank's co-founder, according to documents BusinessWeek has reviewed, was Hakki Yaman Namli. Law enforcement officials in the U.S. and Europe have alleged that Namli, who is of Turkish descent, launders funds for crime syndicates. In 2003, a federal grand jury in Manhattan indicted him for fraud carried out through another outfit in Northern Cyprus, First Merchant Bank, which Namli controlled. A year later, the U.S. Treasury designated First Merchant as a "primary money-laundering concern." Turkey closed the bank in 2006. Namli is listed as a fugitive in the New York case.

Harper told Gaston Glock and Jannuzzo he believed that Ewert was the one who involved the Glock companies with Namli. But Harper wrote in a memo to Jannuzzo dated Nov. 1, 2000, that Gaston Glock "is in danger of being flagged as an international money launderer because by all appearances...Ewert was working at [Gaston] Glock's direction up until the time of the assault [on Glock]." Harper added: "Mr. Glock doesn't understand the breadth of the problems or the potential disaster that could befall him."

Glock's Guevara said that neither the company nor Gaston Glock has ever had any relationship with "a banking institution in Turkey or [the] Turkish Republic [of] Northern Cyprus."

In recent years, the gun company's U.S. operation has been rattled by scandal. Local authorities in Georgia have prosecuted Jannuzzo and fellow former executive Peter Manown at the behest of their former employer. On Oct. 18, 2007, Manown, an attorney who handled many of Gaston Glock's personal matters in the U.S., testified that he and Jannuzzo had embezzled company funds and funneled the money to accounts in the Cayman Islands. He said the pair also skimmed money from Glock real estate transactions. And Manown said he and Jannuzzo had withdrawn more than $500,000 from Glock accounts for political campaign contributions from 1993 to at least 2003. The executives put some of that cash in their own pockets, he testified. "There was so much money flying around in this company," Manown said. "It was like Monopoly money." He recounted confessing his transgressions privately to Gaston Glock back in 2003 and repaying some of the stolen money. The former Glock executive pled guilty in 2008 to theft and received a suspended 10-year sentence.

In connection with the campaign contributions, Manown testified that Gaston Glock knew what his underlings were doing: "This was all done with Mr. Glock's blessing." Manown said he and Jannuzzo would withdraw cash for political contributions from a Glock account at the since-closed Summit Bank (SBGA) in Atlanta. Sometimes the Glock executives withdrew "$9,000 so it would stay under the reporting radar of the bank," Manown said. He was referring to the federal anti-money laundering rule that requires banks to report to the Treasury Dept. any cash withdrawal of $10,000 or more. Purposely evading the requirement is a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison.

Manown went on to explain that he and Jannuzzo at times wrote checks on the Glock account to themselves and to their wives. Jannuzzo later "spread [some of the money] around [to] other people at Glock," with the understanding that they would use the funds to make political contributions, Manown added. He kept a handwritten ledger of many of the withdrawals. A Nov. 1, 2000, entry shows $60,000 designated for "Bush election campaign per GG and PJ 4 RF." GG apparently is Gaston Glock; PJ, Paul Jannuzzo; and RF, Richard Feldman, the lobbyist and consultant. The Cobb County District Attorney's Office declined to comment on any "matters related to open cases."

ALLEGATIONS OF THEFTA review of federal campaign donations by Glock employees between 1991 and 2004, conducted for BusinessWeek by the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics, shows more than 100 individual donations worth a total of at least $80,000. Jannuzzo says many more contributions were made by Glock employees and associates for less than $200 apiece to avoid election-law reporting requirements. Among the recipients of Glock-affiliated campaign contributions were former Atlanta-area Republican congressman Bob Barr, and two current Republican members of Congress from Georgia, Representative Phil Gingrey and Senator Saxby Chambliss.

Barr said in a written statement that all donations he received from people affiliated with Glock were "fully and appropriately reported to the [Federal Election Commission], and so far as we knew, were legitimate." A spokeswoman for Gingrey said in a separate statement: "We have never knowingly received any unlawful contributions." A Chambliss spokeswoman said that to be on the safe side, the senator planned to return contributions from Glock-affiliated donors.

Glock had a number of reasons to try to make an impression on Capitol Hill. Gun control proposals that could affect its business were being debated. The gun industry also lobbied for federal protection from liability lawsuits, culminating in the enactment of such a law in 2005.

In his written response, Glock's Guevara said: "Manown and Jannuzzo stole over $500,000 of Glock money for themselves and then labeled it political contributions to hide their crimes. In any event, we conducted our own due diligence, which revealed that Manown's statement that Glock money was spread to employees to make political contributions is entirely false (except as to Manown and Jannuzzo). With respect to the allegation that Glock contributed $60,000 to the 2000 Presidential political campaign, the evidence shows that Manown stole this money from Glock and transferred it to Cayman Island accounts controlled by Manown and Jannuzzo."

Manown's confession in Cobb County had serious consequences for Jannuzzo. On Jan. 14, 2008, the onetime U.S. chief of Glock's U.S. operation was arrested and charged by local authorities with theft and racketeering. The indictment alleges Jannuzzo stole a semi-automatic pistol from his former place of employment and conspired with Manown to embezzle $177,000 from Gaston Glock. Jannuzzo denies the charges. He says he never stole any money. The dealings described in the indictment related to his effort to help his former colleague Manown resolve his mismanagement of Glock funds, Jannuzzo says. As for the disputed handgun, Jannuzzo maintains he volunteered to return it but no one at Glock ever took him up on the offer.

In contrast to these denials, Jannuzzo admits he reimbursed fellow Glock employees and others for making political contributions, which was illegal. He says he first discussed the practice with Gaston Glock in 1993 during a meeting in Austria. The reimbursements, Jannuzzo adds, continued for at least 10 years. Glock indicated strong interest in the donations. "He would say, 'How are we doing? What do the candidates look like? Do we need to make some contributions?'" Jannuzzo adds: "[Gaston Glock] knew 100%. I talked to him personally about it on the phone."

No one has been charged in connection with the alleged reimbursements. Some may now be beyond prosecution because the statute of limitations has expired.

someone else reviews the Motorla Droid Xyboard 10.1 64 GB with 4G LTE

But this is a link dump My In-Depth Review of my Droid Xyboard 10.1 64GB with 4G LTE - xda-developers

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

the Origin of the Glock-17

From the Armed Forces History Museum:
Austria’s Semi-automatic Glock is a series of pistols designed and produced in Austria.  Though the founder Gaston Glock was inexperienced in both the designing and manufacturing of firearm, he was an engineer with extensive knowledge of newer advanced synthetic polymers.  His knowledge proved to be instrumental in developing the successful development of the company’s initial line of polymer framed pistols -with the Glock-17 becoming known by some as one of the top pistols ever manufactured.  Glock is also credited for introducing the firearms industry to ferritic nitrocarburizing – an anti-corrosion treatment for surface parts of metal guns.

Though the market initially resisted Glock’s ‘plastic gun’ concept, the company’s pistols are one of their more profitable product lines.  Glock pistols command 65% of the US handgun market for law enforcement agencies.  Glock also supplies a number of national armed forces and security agencies throughout the world.

Development of the Glock Pistols
The Austrian military made an announcement in 1980 that it would be replacing the Walther P38 handgun – a WWII era weapon.  Their Ministry of Defense outlined the basic criteria for this new service pistol.  In 1982, Glock learned Austrian Army’s plan to procure a new weapon and begin assembling a team of European experts in the handgun field.  He chose a variety of people – including some from the military, some from the police force and he even chose civilians involved in sport shooting.

It wasn’t long before Glock had his first working prototype.  Between Glock’s use of synthetic materials and the newer production technology, the design was very cost effective, making it a viable candidate.  The Glock 17 (so-named as it was the company’s 17th patent) passed every endurance and abuse test and was chosen over a number of pistol designs from well-known manufacturers to be the official replacement of the Walther P38.  Both military and police forces in Austria adopted the Glock 17 (aka:  P80 – Pistole 80) into service in 1982.   Many consider the Glock-17 one of the top pistols of all time.

Interest in the Glock 17 Spreads
As news of the Austrian trial results spread, interest not only grew in Western Europe, but overseas as well.  This was particularly true in the United States where the US military were also seeking a replacement for their military issue M1911.  Though invited to participate in the US trials, Glock declined as providing the US with this weapon would have required extensive changes in their production equipment.   Shortly after though, this pistol was accepted into service by the armed forces of Norway and Sweden.  Because the weapon surpassed all previous durability standards set by NATO, it was given status as the standard NATO-classified sidearm.

  • Service History:  1982 to present day
  • Production History:  1982 to present day
  • Total number built:  2.5 million
  • Glock 17 cartridge:  9 x 19mm Parabellum
  • Action:
    • Short recoil
    • Locked Breech
    • Tilting Barrel
    • Muzzle Velocity:  1,230 feet per second
    • Effective Range:  55 yards

A number of variants emerged within the 9x19mm Parabellum design.  Other variants included the 10mm Auto (Glock 20 and 29), the .45 ACP (Glock 21, 30 and 36), the .40 S&W (Glock 22, 23, 24, 27 and 35), the .380 ACP (Glock 25 and 28), the .357 SIG (Glock 31, 32 and 33) and the .45 GAP (Glock 37, 38 and 39).

Within its first 10 years, this pistol reached sales in excess of 350,000 in over 45 countries; the U.S. alone accounting for 250,000 of that total.  To date, more than 50 countries worldwide have utilized Austria’s Semi-Automatic Glock pistol.
I apologize for being complete. This is all very impressive for an engineer that did not originally specialize in weapons, allegedly.

Juan Cole on the history of the Glock

So-called authority "on the Middle East, History and Religion" Juan Cole renders an ill-thought-out set of conclusions regarding the Glock and the ideas for the Glock regarding its intended consumer base.
The Glock semi-automatic was developed in 1982 for the Austrian army. It was not envisioned that it would be bought by millions of citizens. It is not in fact bought by millions of civilians anywhere but in the United States. The gun should not be singled out for demonization; there are lots of semi-automatic pistols, and lots of semi-automatic rifles, and all of them are widespread and legal in the United States.
But it is worth underlining that Gaston Glock probably did not envision that you and your neighbors would just go into a shop and purchase his weapon.
First of all there was already a consumer base in 1982 that purchased and enjoyed semi-automatic pistols; many civilians already owned semi-automatic handguns since 1911, when the Colt M1911 was manufactured. The notion that a newly invented semi-automatic handgun would not become owned by the same sort of people that owned seventy years worth of semi-automatic handguns is absurd on its face. Second of all the reason that companies invent, refine, and manufacture these things are not simply to fill a hypothetical order that is limited in its nature but to make as much money as possible. To that end I have very little doubt that Glock intended to sell weapons to civilians if possible. Third is more of a question than conjecture. Did Glock really produce only so many handguns so as to fulfill projected needs of the 1982 Austrian Army or did they produce enough to sell as many as possible?

(Now I am not actually deriding Professor Cole's qualifications to be seen as an authority on the Middle East and he certainly is not going to care about what I say.  He is certainly more qualified than I to speak on the Middle East).  He is, however, not very capable of synthesizing educated and logical ideas concerning weapons and policy regarding private ownership.

In the meantime Professor Cole commits what we can call "statistical murder" where he brings up a slew of horrific events events and suggests that this represents a cost that is too high to justify the balance of what I call "good things".
Gun advocates might argue that these mass shootings are relatively rare and exact a relatively low death toll in a country of 310 million people. In 2012, there were 16 mass shootings in the US, which killed 88 persons and wounded hundreds. We polish off 14,500 Americans a year with murders (around 9000 of them via firearms), and 30,000 a year in auto accidents. There are also something like 18,000 suicides a year by firearm in the US, about half of the total; perhaps large numbers of those people would still be alive if it hadn’t been so technically easy to take their on lives. Anyway, mass shootings as a subset of lives taken by firearms are a tiny proportion.
One problem is that mass shootings produce a national trauma, and probably are designed to do so. We were all, from President Obama on down, crying for the children yesterday. Isolated murders of adults, however tragic, don’t upset us the way a madman shooting down children does. Although they are few and the number of victims only account for 1% of those murdered by firearms every year, the mass shootings deeply disturb us.
It is also the case that mass shootings are arbitrarily defined as those in which 4 or more people are killed. For those affected, three is pretty “mass.”
Public policy is often made on the grounds of what we find unpalatable. You will note that we are also upset by airplane crashes, and we insist that they are always completely unacceptable. We don’t feel the same way about whacking 30,000 people a year (and injuring like 300,000) in auto collisions.
The problem is getting worse. 10% of all mass shootings since 1982 have occurred in 2012, and 12 percent of the 543 victims since that date have been killed this year.
No one should argue and no one is arguing that the slaughter of innocents is palatable or should be palatable. But I also cannot believe that the death of innocents is simply a cost paid in exchange for people legitimately protecting themselves.

The thesis is that Juan Cole declares himself a particular sort of moral authority.  He judges the Glock to be a "Military-style weapon" and in fact the title of the piece is his thesis; "Semi-Automatic firearms are Military Weapons" and since they are military weapons they are weapons for the military and therefore not for you, if you are a civilian.  As they are military weapons and we are civilians we therefore cannot have a legitimate use for these weapons.

In his view certain kinds of objects are only for certain kinds of people.
Personally, I don’t understand why civilians need semi-automatic pistols and rifles at all. 
I'd rather not indulge in the many practical and recreational purposes of semi-automatic weapons but it is telling that the people most interested in telling us the proper disposition of our stuff are the people that possess the least understanding of that stuff.

Professor Cole tends to bring up bits of data and circumstance but never really follows up on the idea(s) properly.  Let's start with his reference to gun crimes by committed/affiliated bad guys.
some 2,000 of the 9,000 firearms murders a year are committed by drug gangs and other criminal gangs, and these are primarily using semi-automatic weapons to commit these murders. 
He wishes to create laws in the belief that laws will deter "drug gangs" and "criminal gangs". I'm not going to directly invoke a cliche so much as I will indicate that among the reasons people join "criminal gangs" it is because there is a tendency, inclination, or intention towards evading, ignoring, or dismissing laws.  Leftist ideology holds that the supply line for criminal elements leads through the gun safes of law-abiding citizens.  So erecting new laws and therefore creating new restrictions on those most likely to obey these laws and restrictions will create a choke point making it more difficult for the criminal to obtain a weapon.  At that point though Professor Cole leaves left-wing dogma in the dust and asserts a statistic that I have never heard.
used guns are seldom the problem. Most used guns are in people’s safes. The new ones are the problem. Most people who commit mass shootings seem to go on a buying spree first, and gang members likewise most often like to purchase new weaponry.
How do criminals get their new weaponry legally? What new law will deter these new sales of new weapons?  I hear over and over how gun shows and the secondhand market are the sources for weapons for bad guys, as the government-installed controls are at their most lax at a gun show.  Professor Cole insists that by and large the used weapons are not the problem because the worst of us simply prefer a new weapon.  Setting aside my belief that criminals are getting bulk shipments of firearms from different places than your average sporting goods store the Professor needs to provide hard data regarding these "buying sprees".  It is lazy at best to assert the charge without the support.  I know for a fact that Adama Lanza stole the weapons he used to murder children.

This conjecture is not quite as blindingly stupid as the mechanically incorrect assertions suggesting guns that do not work.  He wants to create semi-automatic pistols in a special way.
So how about we propose a law specifying that ... that such weapons for the civilian market be constructed so that extra magazine drums cannot be attached?
Why is he talking about "drums" as if we're describing zoot suiters wielding Thompsons?

One of his commenters noted that
a semi-automatic firearm cannot be constructed in a way that won’t allow 'extra magazine drums to be attached' without it being unable to even use the 10-round magazine you’re talking about. this is fine if you’re ultimately advocating selling only unusable firearms, but still indicates we’re not really familiar with the guns we’re talking about.
Invariably I do not think Professor Cole, nor many of his followers, know what they are talking about.

The final step in Juan Cole's solution: "we ban semi-automatic rifles altogether."  That is only reasonable if you don't know what that means.

the false purpose of the "semiautomatic weapon"

Jamie Newman says:
Semiautomatic weapons are useful for only one thing, which is to kill and maim the largest numbers of people in the shortest periods of time. Because there are no legitimate civilian uses for weapons of this sort, there’s no reason any civilian should be allowed to own one.
While it is certainly true that the ultimate purpose for a weapon is to cause damage or death only an ignorant person speaks as if there will never be a legitimate context or event wherein that purpose should be fulfilled. As it is, a semiautomatic pistol or rifle is typically used to shoot an amount of ammunition into a single target, at least in civilian use.

scary words confuse lefties regarding firearms

Most people that are ignorant and/or opposed to the average citizen owning a semi-automatic weapon could not tell the difference between an automatic weapon and a semi-automatic weapon. The majority of the people in favor of creating restrictions upon people acquiring new weapons could not make the distinction between a semi-automatic weapon and an automatic weapon but would ban you from owning a semi-automatic weapon because the description includes the phrase "automatic weapon".

vegans disorderly

I love how we say "vegan" now instead of eating disorder.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Mark Steyn on 'Fiscal Cliff Mirage'

I'm not certain the extent that it was scripted but it certainly stinks of political theater:
The political class has just spent two months on a down-to-the-wire nail-biting white-knuckle thrill-ride negotiation the result of which is more business as usual. At the end, as always, Dr. Obama and Dr. Boehner emerge in white coats, surgical masks around their necks, bloody scalpels in hand, and announce that it was touch and go for a while but the operation was a complete success — and all they’ve done is applied another temporary band-aid that’s peeling off even as they speak. They’re already prepping the OR for the next life-or-death surgery on the debt ceiling
The twin points are that ultimately nothing changed to a great extent in our socioeconomic policies, not taking into account the specifics of how this costs citizens; it is always this way, including the politicians claiming that they saved us from a horrible fate. Naturally this horrible fate must be built up by a narrative, even if the narrative does not hold together in the dialogue.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the latest triumphant deal includes $2 billion of cuts for fiscal year 2013. Wow! That’s what the government of the United States borrows every ten hours and 38 minutes. Spending two months negotiating ten hours of savings is like driving to a supermarket three states away to save a nickel on your grocery bill.
We put in a lot and get a little. The only reason we have this much drama is because of the characters involved and the aftermath of bad policies over the course of a number of years whose value I find uncertain.

I will finish my point some time later but ultimately how the latest "Fiscal cliff" drama ended was determined by how we got to it. From November until today there was no way it could gone another way.  Any scenario where politicians would have come to a better solution to the problem is one where we did not have this particular problem to begin with.  In the meantime the people that let the car ignite are congratulating themselves that the car did not explode, although the while ignoring that the flame is still there.
the question of whether America is capable of serious course correction — and, from debt ceiling to supercommittee to fiscal cliff and now back to debt ceiling, the political class keeps sending back the answer: No, we’re not. For a good example of how Washington drives even the greatest minds round the bend, consider Charles Krauthammer’s analysis on Fox News the other night:
I would actually commend Boehner and Paul Ryan, who in the end voted ‘yes’ for a bad deal. But they had to do it.
If courage is the willingness to take a stand and vote for a bad deal because you’ve been painted into a corner and want Obama to fly back to Hawaii at the cost of another $3 million in public funds that could have gone to algae subsidies so he’ll stop tormenting you for a week or two, then truly we are led by giants... If you think politics is a make-work project for the otherwise unemployable, then the system worked just fine. And I don’t mean only the numbers: On Monday, 300 million Americans did not know what their tax rates would be on Tuesday.
Rather than attempt to track historical reasons for how we arrived at these specific points I will just note that Boehner is far less responsible than how we got to this point than one might think. We elected this political culture, and ultimately it migt have happened because of our own idealism.

a Psalm regarding worrying about villains

Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.

Psalms 37:1

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Ronald Reagan on baseline abortion presumption

“Simple morality dictates that unless and until someone can prove the unborn human is not alive, we must give it the benefit of the doubt and assume it is (alive). And, thus, it should be entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” – Ronald Reagan 1982

Thursday, January 03, 2013

why not have guards with guns in your children's school?

I don't care what message it sends, or how it looks. I don't care if you like the idea. Just give me some evidence as to why armed police officers at your elementary school make your child less safe. I'm not being sarcastic. I wanna know. You don't raise a fuss when they are at football games, or outside the courtroom, or at airport security. So I wanna know--what evidence do you have? I won't ridicule--I just wanna know. The president gets guards with guns. Your congressman gets them. The judge you disagree with gets them--why does it make them safer but not your kids? I don't think you're dumb. I just wanna know. Men carry guns when they transport cash from banks--you know, armored cars. But that makes money and the guards safer, I guess. Doesn't it make your kids safer, too? It doesn't? Ok...just tell me why not. Because I won't argue, you see. I just want to know.
-- Luke Shilts, one of the best the Young Republicans in Colorado have to offer

Does Wind Pork Mean Flying Pigs?

The Fiscal Cliff Deal that passed recently has justifiably been criticized for its tax increases but it should also be harshly examined for its tax reductions.  Christine Harbin of Americans For Prosperity explains
Disappointingly, the fiscal cliff package is riddled with billions in blatant corporate welfare. One change that got slipped into the deal at the 11th hour is a measure that would extend the wind production tax credit (PTC) for 1 year, alongside several additional targeted tax credits for renewable energy, at a cost of $12 billion.
So, while individual taxpayers in America are seeing higher taxes in 2013, politically-connected groups like the wind industry are getting special tax treatment. Even though Americans continue to struggle in the down economy, the federal government keeps giving its favorite industries a leg-up, and it’s showing no sign of stopping.
What happened? While Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden were negotiating a last-minute deal, there was a flurry of lobbying activity from the wind industry. As Tim Carney recently highlighted in the Washington Examiner, this included “Obama’s closest corporate confidants as well as former congressmen from both parties.” They have a strong financial incentive to convince their pals in Congress to keep the playing field tilted in their and their clients’ favor.
We’re seeing history repeat itself. Congress has voted to extend the PTC six times since it began in 1992, usually in one or two-year intervals. Eleven months from now, right before the PTC is scheduled to expire again, I predict we’ll be engaged in the exact same debate. The wind lobby will still claim that the industry needs even more time to get off its feet, and Americans for Prosperity and our coalition partners will continue to point out how destructive the tax credit is, in policy and in principle.
Calling for cutting corporate welfare makes for great sound bites on cable news stations, but unfortunately Washington lawmakers routinely fail to put these words into action. When considering targeted handouts individually, Congress end up extending the same old corporate welfare policies that clog the tax code. Congress’s latest actions on the wind production tax credit is a prime case in point.
We can’t reform our tax system if our elected officials don’t have the guts to stand up to special interests. If Congress won’t end corporate welfare for the wind industry, there’s little reason to believe that it will end it for any other industry. This does not bode well for comprehensive tax reform in 2013.
This is simply a manifestation of Crony Capitalism. Less of a political ideology based on ideals or philosophy it is the government actors deliberately choosing citizens and corporations to benefit at the expense of others.

Whether you want to call it Corporate Welfare, Pork, Crony Capitalism, or Bloat, this is "wind industry", which means wind pork, flying pigs.

I'd rather be plying figs.

Is the Second Amendment the cause of homicides in Detroit?

The simple fact is that drawing correlations can lead to a false belief of causation. A case in point, where the Police Cief in Detroit immediately claims that the numerous murders in that city were cause by the weapons used by the murderers, inspires my friend to claim that the Second Amendment of our U.S. Constitution caused the murders in Detroit.
"Of the 386 homicides the City recorded in 2012, 333 were caused by guns.... America has a problem with guns, but the epicenter seems to be here in Detroit." - Police Chief Chester Logan, 1/3/2013

I'm not trying to tear down Detroit again; the extraordinary numbers speak for themselves. I am merely pointing out that if the 2nd Amendment were repealed, then hundreds of people would not die unnecessarily. 
-- a friend of mine whose identity I will protect, Jan 3, 2012

MI Congressman Mike Rogers on Fiscal Cliff Deal

I wish Mike Rogers of Livingston County was less upbeat about his January 3 Facebook status
As you may know, on Tuesday I supported legislation to permanently cut taxes for 99 percent of Americans. I supported the American Tax Relief Act because it did not have one penny of tax increases and was the largest tax cut in American history. If Congress had not acted, taxes would have gone up on every single Michigan family. The average family of four would have seen $2,200 less in their paycheck.
While many will rightfully say that this deal is not quite good for the country a good deal of the loudest critics will not admit the truth: this is the best deal we could have possibly received between October 2012 and January 1 2013. Anyone who says it is not a good deal is correct but complaining about it being unreasonable or unexpected, as Nick Hawatma did, is more than a little wrong. The only way something like this was not going to occur and the only way Americans were going to get a greater benefit, was if our Legislators and our Executive Branch had not been messing things up so thoroughly in the past fifteen years or so in subtle, tiny, accumulative ways.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Worst New Years Resolution Ever

Worst New Years Resolution Ever: Washington politicians say they are going to cut spending by $15 billion over the next 10 years. The federal government spends $10.5 billion every day. Washington cutting spending by $15 billion over 10 years is equivalent to a 2-pack per day smoker promising to forgo 5 cigarettes. Per year. Ridiculous.

the 8th Day of Christmas

On the 8th day of Christmas, a reminder...

The floor contains the remnants of torn wrappings, boxes, and bows. The stockings hang lifeless from the mantel, empty of all their contents. Leftovers are all that are left of holiday feasting. Wallets are empty and feelings of buyer’s remorse begin to descend and suffocate. On the morning after Christmas, thus begins the season of let down.

It’s not a surprise really. For many in the West, the entire focus of the Christmas season is on gift-giving, holiday parties, and family gatherings, all of which are fine in and of themselves. But these things often become the centerpiece of the season. Marketers and advertisers ensure that this is so and prime the buying-pump with ads and sales for Christmas shopping long before December. Once November ends, the rush for consumers is on, and multitudinous festivities lead to a near fever pitch. And then, very suddenly, it is all over.

In an ironic twist of history, Christmas day became the end point, the full stop of the Christmas season. But in the ancient Christian tradition, Christmas day was only the beginning of the Christmas season. The oft-sung carol The Twelve Days of Christmas was not simply a song sung, but a lived reality of the Christmas celebration. In the traditional celebrations, the somber anticipation of Advent — waiting for God to act — flowed into the celebration of the Incarnation that began on Christmas day and culminated on “twelfth night” — the Feast of Epiphany.

For twelve days following Christmas, Christians celebrated the “Word made flesh” dwelling among them. The ancient feasts that followed Christmas day all focused on the mystery of the Incarnation worked out in the life of the believers. Martyrs, evangelists, and ordinary people living out the call of faith are all celebrated during these twelve days.

Far from being simply an alternative to the way in which Christmas is currently celebrated or an antidote to post-Christmas ‘let down,’ understanding the early history and traditions of Christian celebrations can reunite the world with the true focal point of the Christmas season. ”The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we beheld his glory…and of his fullness have we all received, and grace for grace” (John 1:14-16). Far more than giving gifts or holiday feasts, the joy of Christmas is that God came near to us in Jesus Christ. The Incarnation affirms that matter matters as God descends to us and adopts a dwelling made of human flesh.

Living out the mystery of the Incarnation is a daily celebration. The celebration began on Christmas Day.
(Margaret Manning)

Emancipation Proclamation Sesquicentennial

150 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863. On April 25, 1864 -- 15 months after -- Annie Davis sent this letter to the White House:
Mr. President,

It is my Desire to be free.
To go to see my people on the eastern shore.
My mistress wont let me.
You will please let me know if we are free.
And what I can do.
I write to you for advice.
Please send me word this week.
Or as soon as possible, and oblidge.

Annie Davis

My heart breaks every time I read Annie's letter. I do not know her age. Or how she dressed. Or what she saw outside her window each morning.

But my soul tells me that by the time the enslaved woman mustered the courage to dispatch this missive, she had spent every waking moment for a very long time yearning for liberty. Her envelope traveled just 70 miles from Bel Air, Md., to Washington, D.C., but her anguish endures through the ages.

By the spring of 1864, Annie believed she was entitled to freedom. But in truth, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation applied only to those secessionist Southern states "in rebellion." As a slave-holding border state loyal to the Union, Maryland was not affected by the document. Annie and its other 87,000 enslaved residents remained in limbo.

But the Proclamation had made freedom inevitable. The signals had been mounting for months. On April 16, 1862, word traveled that the District of Columbia's 3,100 slaves had been freed by Congress -- and their owners compensated by the federal government. That July, Congress passed the Second Confiscation Act, which permitted the Union Army to enlist black soldiers and forbade the capture of runaway slaves. On Sept. 22, 1862, Lincoln signed the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Throughout 1863 and 1864, black families in Maryland simply had begun to walk away from the masters who owned them, making Annie's desperation all the more acute.

Now, 150 years later, as we commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, I can't help thinking of Annie. I reflect on how they agitated for their own freedom through protest, revolt, escape, prayer and petition. I am reminded that this observance is about not only the stroke of Lincoln's pen but also the vision of Harriet Tubman, the appeal of abolitionist David Walker and the genius of Frederick Douglass.
(A'Lelia Bundles)