Saturday, September 23, 2017


Travel plans for 2018 include a trans-Atlantic repositioning cruise ending in Barcelona, followed by some touring in Madrid and Seville.

...if Spain isn't then in a civil war over Catalunia.

Catalunia is that part of Spain that includes Barcelona and environs, and for the longest time they have considered themselves something other than 'Spanish'.  They have their own language, Catalan, and still use it daily except with the turistas.

Once upon a time Europe was a collection of hundreds, maybe thousands, of semi-autonomous duchys and kingdoms, and war was a weekly event, almost always centered on 'religion' unless it was 'border security'.  Then in 1648 came the Peace of Westphalia, wherein all the major players re-dealt the deck and gave the blue monopoly properties to France, the yellow properties to Spain, the Orange properties to Prussia, the red properties to Great Britain, and recognized independence for anyone else who could adequately defend themselves.  Europe became a collection of two dozen or so 'countries'.  Catalunia wasn't one of them.  It was now part of Spain, along with Andorra, Navarre (where the Xavier family lived), and a few others including the Basque region (you may have heard that the Basque also don't think of themselves as entirely Spanish).  The same thing happened along the border between Germany and France, and with regard to an island off the west coast of England whose inhabitants still consider themselves 'Irish', pronouncements of The Holy Roman Emperor to the contrary notwithstanding.

Things have been — umm — relatively quiet with the Basque lately.  At least there haven't been many loud noises.  Not so with the Catalans who have been making independence noises for many decades going back before Franco.  Recently, they have gotten bolder and now plan an independence referendum which Spain has forbidden them to do.  To prevent the independence referendum taking place, Spain has shipped in brigades of Guardia Civil, state police, even going so far as to charter cruise ships for them so they'll have someplace to sleep given expectations for Catalan incivility.  Barcelona longshoremen have refused to let those boats tie up.  Within the week, 14 high-ranking Catalan politicians were arrested at their homes.  The stage is set, and it's almost as if Spain wants a civil war with the region that provides the bulk of Spain's GNP.

Keep your fingers crossed and don't turn off that TV set.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Second Amendment Guarantee Act

There's a great deal of controversy surrounding a bill working its way through Congress.  It's called 'the Second Amendment Guarantee Act' (SAGA), and its purpose is to thwart state laws like New York's that impose severe burdens upon lawful gun owners.  Naturally, the anti-gun crowd is opposed to it, but there's also opposition from unexpected quarters, notably The Tenth Amendment Center (TAC).  You know those guys: they're for separation of powers between the states and the federal government and they're opposed to SAGA because they hold that states should get to set their own rules (for the most part).

But...  What about the basics?  What about those rights guaranteed (already) in the Bill of Rights with no need for a law making the guarantee guaranteed?

Should states be able to have their own state religion?  Should states be able to restrict freedom of speech?  What about due process and self-incrimination?  Are these OK for states to violate?  We all know that states can't trash the rights in the Bill of Rights.

Except for one, apparently.

It's OK, according to TAC, for states to regulate the 2nd amendment into meaninglessness.  In most California counties, getting a permit for concealed carry is near-impossible.  In NYC, population 9 million, there are exactly 2,291 concealed carry permits, which is 'statistically zero'.

People from all over now routinely get arrested at NY metro airports (NJ is as bad or worse than NY for this) after following federal law and exacting TSA instructions regarding transporting firearms and related parts.  Just recently, someone was arrested when he tried to declare an empty 30-round magazine at a NYC airport on his way home to a place where it was legal.  NYS law does not permit anyone to possess such an article, even for the purpose of removing it from the state.

Now some (Republican) Congressman wants to put an end to this discriminatory behavior with a law that will guarantee a right that is already guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.  SAGA will force states to recognize the concealed carry permits of other states.  Let's assume that this legislation will make it out of a Republican-controlled committee to a Republican-controlled House and a Republican-controlled Senate and then to a Republican-controlled White House.  (None of this is guaranteed or even likely, but we're assuming.)  What then? 

Well, SAGA says (net) "yes, you can carry in New York with your Florida permit, but you have to follow New York's laws while you do".  If you know what a 'poison pill' is, you have probably already spotted this one.  New York registers firearms by make, model, and serial, and their carry permits precisely identify which firearms any individual may carry.  My Florida permit does not identify which firearms I may carry;  Florida doesn't register firearms;  I may carry anything.  My Florida permit will get me arrested on my first day in NYC.

You may have guessed that I also oppose SAGA, but I do so for different reasons than does TAC.  I oppose it because it's another useless piece of trash legislation that only exists to garner votes for Republicans.  It will do nothing except get dozens or hundreds of people arrested, jailed, and prosecuted, costing each of them thousands of dollars and wasting months of their time, and some of them will be convicted and become felons forever denied their right to own a firearm.

The correct solution is for The Attorney General of the United States to begin filing actions against states that violate The Law Of The Land: the Constitution.  The (Republican) AGUS can get cases rapidly into federal district courts where judges are somewhat reluctant to rule against their boss — the U.S. government.

Yeah, no, I'm not holding my breath, either, but please do continue to vote for the hucksters that want you to believe SAGA is the answer — to anything.