...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

October 28, 2004

annieconversations: Publicola

annikagyrl: i'm here now with Publicola, who is one of my favorite bloggers, and also one of the oldest visitors to my blog. Hi Publicola...

Publicola: Hi miss Annika. & I thought I was in the middle age range of your visitors?
annikagyrl: i don't mean oldest age wise, of course. But i understand you are having a birthday soon? Happy birthday. How old? If i may ask
Publicola: Thank you. I’ll be 33. Lord willing & the cholesterol level don't rise
annikagyrl: Wow a third of a century? lol, You are old
Publicola: I am not old ya whippersnapper. Where’s my cane?
annikagyrl: You know i still remember the first comment you ever left on annika's journal. Do you remember? It was to a post i did about the German machine gun
Publicola: hmmm actually no. I remember e-mailing you about the "Hitler Saw" (the MG-42) post you did as well as linking to you because of it, but I can't recall the comment I left.
annikagyrl: You chastised me for misunderstanding the specifics of muzzle velocity. You wrote me a scathing email about that. i was so embarrassed
Publicola: & I wouldn't say chastised, more like offering a simple correction of a common misunderstanding
annikagyrl: i was only trying to impress people with my broad base of knowledge
Publicola: You shouldn't have been embarrassed. A lot of gun owners make the same assumption.
annikagyrl: You totally took the wind out of my sails. That was when i discovered that although you are very long winded
Publicola: I must categorically deny the false & baseless accusations that I, when trying to explain the nuances of a point, have a tendency to circumnavigate brevity
annikagyrl: Although you are very long winded you are also very smart and one of the most intellectual persons i've had the pleasure of meeting. Even though we haven't actually met. How many words do you type a minute Publicola?
Publicola: Correctly? In a language that originated on Earth? lol
annikagyrl: No, never correctly, that’s another thing i noticed, you don't sweat the occasional typo. i bet you type faster than some legal secretaries.
Publicola: Well, possibly. Then again I've never had a typing race with anyone in the legal profession. Hell, I'd be happy if they just understood the law.
annikagyrl: And you argue as well as any lawyer. Have you ever considered becoming a lawyer?
Publicola: lol, Once, but then I realized I preferred honest work. Actually when I was a little kid my grandfather used to tell people I'd either become a lawyer or a preacher. I think that was his nice way of saying I was a stubborn smart-ass with a big mouth
annikagyrl: i've seen you demolish not a few trolls in my comments section
Publicola: Well, honestly, you have an easier variety of troll to deal with. See, I remember, back in the day, when IMs were sent on stone tablets, that trolls had a certain level of intellectual ability. Not so anymore
annikagyrl: You are very passionate about individual rights
Publicola: Yes, & it's a selfish thing. I really could care less if you or anyone else had individual Rights, but if you don't have them then I don't either. So we're all in it together as it were.
annikagyrl: Are you an independent or a libertarian?
Publicola: I'm registered as a Libertarian, but I don't usually vote a straight party line. The Libs have some good ideas, but they fall short in a few areas
annikagyrl: Like where?
Publicola: well, their view on Iraq specifically - & understand that there are two factions within the Lib Party concerning this - I think the Lib Party was almost on the right track as far as Iraq goes, but they went off course a bit
annikagyrl: i'm not sure i know what the Libertarian view on Iraq is, or yours for that matter...
Publicola: Well, here’s a link that describes the Libertarian Party's view on Iraq. Or rather Badnarik’s. Since he’s the LP candidate for president of the US, I assume it’s reflective of the official LP Party position. The gist of it is they feel the war on Iraq was unwise & unconstitutional
annikagyrl: Oh that...
annikagyrl: And your view?
Publicola: As far as the constitutionality of it, I agree with them - Congress delegated their responsibility to the president & this wasn't a good thing. For the move itself being unwise, I'm torn honestly. Getting rid of Hussein & freeing a whole people of a dictator was a good thing, no question, & it served our interests, but I keep remembering Mencken whispering in my ear that freedom is not so important that it should be forced on a people.*
annikagyrl: Do you think that the Iraqi people see freedom as being forced on them?
Publicola: Well that's the sticky part - no one would see freedom being forced on them, & I would assume that most of the Iraqi people are happy - much happier than under Hussein. But from what I understand, only the Kurds & certain other groups in the northern part of Iraq were actively trying for some sort of freedom from Hussein. It's more comparable to giving someone financial assistance - if a person's down on his luck he won't bitch if you give him the rent money, but maybe it's better if you give him a chance to earn it for himself. That way he appreciates & takes care of it a bit more than if it were a gift. But like I said I'm torn. I can't say if I were in charge I wouldn't have gone in just like Bush did (well, actually I'd have done it a little cooler. heh).
annikagyrl: i remember you were critical of the coalition authority collecting guns from the Iraqi people
Publicola: Oh yes, & I'm really pissed that that sonuvabitch Bremer made damn sure the Iraqi interim constitution specifically mentions there is no Right to Arms without government approval. Doesn't anyone understand what a Right is anymore?
Publicola: Kevin of The Smallest Minority has a theory that three things are necessary for a free people to flourish, one of those is the means to defend the other two things (which are the ability to reason and the free exchange of ideas). I really don't see any people staying free for long without being able to do so forcefully if necessary
annikagyrl: i would agree that a right is a right and a government doesn't have the moral power to proscribe what comes from God, but
Publicola: But?
annikagyrl: Don't you think there's a pretty compelling interest in Iraq for some sort of gun control?
Publicola: Um, have you ever heard the phrase "hell no" meaningfully applied?
Publicola: Gun control of the prior restraint variety (which prohibits mere possession) simply is ineffective at any of the goals it purports to accomplish. It has as much of a chance of working in Iraq as it has a record of working in D.C.
annikagyrl: Define "absolutist"
Publicola: In the sense that I use it, an "absolutist" is someone who opposes any form of prior restraint based gun control on the theory that owning & possessing the means to defend yourself & your community are Rights that should not be touched by any government. For example, California has some pretty strict gun control, in fact they just banned a whole line of bolt action rifles - do you honestly think that's gonna slow the Crips down?
annikagyrl: Crips don’t use bolt action rifles. Too hard to hold them sideways and shoot, lol
Publicola: I mentioned the bolt action thing just for the helluvit - not that I’m disappointed in Arnie or anything.
annikagyrl: Are you an absolutist?
Publicola: Yes'm. I'm about as Absolutist as they come. Hell, I'm so pro-gun sometimes I get accused of being anti-gun, lol
annikagyrl: lol
annikagyrl: You and i have become quite good friends through our correspondence, and i credit you with moving my own view on Second Amendment issues much further to the right than i ever imagined
Publicola: Well you're a bright person, all I did was push you to think about it more in depth - odds are you'd have come to the same conclusions without me
annikagyrl: i don't know, remember, i grew up in the Bay Area
annikagyrl: Still, i think there remains a large gap between our points of view. What would you say to me to make me see the light, absolutist wise?
Publicola: Well it all revolves around prior restraint - prohibiting something because of the potential for harm....if you take away the sensationalized bits of news you hear (Columbine, Stockton, etc..) & think of only the generalities could you really say that someone should be punished for mere potential instead of his/her actions?
Publicola: If I have a shotgun with a 10" barrel, which is a federal crime (Constitution be damned) without the proper paperwork, would you think I was any more dangerous than if the shotgun had an 18" barrel?
Publicola: Similarly, if a Crip had a shotgun with an 18" barrel, would you feel better about that than if he sawed it down to 10"?
Publicola: But if I had a 10" shotgun sans unconstitutional paperwork, I could get 10 years federal time. Even if I had it for years and harmed no one with it
annikagyrl: So you're saying size doesn't matter?
Publicola: Why is it women always make it a size issue? lol. It’s not just size, but possession. It's intent. Remember your Aristotle - actuality is more important than potentiality. In a very abstract sense the gun control laws we have punish the egg because it might become a chicken
annikagyrl: Aristotle?
Publicola: Yes, Aristotle - old guy, went to school with him. We used to hang out with old man Soc
annikagyrl: You really are the Basilios of Ballistikos!
annikagyrl: Devils advocate here... If our gun control laws are stupid and ineffective, why shouldn't we just try to craft smart and effective ones?
Publicola: Easy - there are no smart or effective prior restraint based gun control laws. Tell you what, you tell me how to initiate car control laws to keep people from speeding without adversely affecting their ability to drive (passing, using small bursts of speed, etc) & that'll be the same way you can have smart gun control laws
annikagyrl: That’s a good way of putting it
Publicola: What would you do ban red cars? (Like the Assault Weapons Ban outlawed guns that looked scary?) Having a licensing system (like our de facto license under the Brady law)? Would those cut down on speeding?
annikagyrl: Here’s my question: i understand the whole slippery slope argument, but what's wrong with requiring some sort of safety class for first time gun buyers. How is that different from what we require of drivers? i mean a car isn't intended to cause harm, but a gun is. So isn't it more reasonable to make sure that gun owners have some basic knowledge of safety?
Publicola: Well easy - if you require proof of the safety class in order to buy or own, then that's a form of licensing. It could be made as restrictive as any form of licensing. The slippery slope would be in play there as well. However, if it were a general requirement, say for passing 7th grade in public or private schools, then I'd go along with it. In fact, gun safety should be taught explicitly, starting at say 2nd grade - that'd cut down on the already statistically insignificant (but tragic in each case) of negligent homicides involving firearms
Publicola: And yes, a car wasn’t intended to kill, but cars account for more deaths in the US per year than guns do. Besides, a gun isn't designed to kill. A gun is designed to propel a projectile. That projectile is designed to kill. A semantic point, but a fun one if you really want to piss off a leftist/socialist anti. Not that I’d ever do that intentionally of course.
annikagyrl: My own opinions on the Second Amendment are still in flux, thanks to you. But i'll tell you where it has evolved recently, and it’s on the licensing issue. Before, i didn't see the harm in requiring licenses
Publicola: A lot of people don't. & that's why licensing is so dangerous
annikagyrl: Now that i’ve thought about the issue, i don't see any legitimate reason the govenment should need a list of people who have a gun, unless they plan to take them away in the future. So i've become firmly opposed to any sort of government licensing of gun owners
Publicola: Here's an analogy: Tell me miss Annika, is driving a Right or a privilege?
annikagyrl: We've talked about this, you and i. According to the DMV, driving is a privilege.
Publicola: And what would you say if I told you it was a Right? Would you be inclined to believe me? Or would you believe 20+ years of personal conditioning & 90+ years of collective conditioning?
annikagyrl: That's a hard one to get over, you know. It’s like Pavlov and his dog. lol
Publicola: If gun licensing isn't stopped, then your kids or grand kids will no longer see owning guns as a Right, but as a mere privilege granted by the state. I know it's hard, but the thing that most people & especially (no offense) most young people don't get is that freedom is hard. It's damn scary. & it's dangerous
annikagyrl: i'm an enthusiastic Bush supporter, as you know. Recently you wrote that you don't intend to vote for Bush or Kerry
Publicola: No ma'am
annikagyrl: "No," thats true, or "no" you didn’t say that?
Publicola: No ma'am, I won't vote for Bush or Kerry
annikagyrl: At one time, i thought you implied that you might vote for Bush if the assault weapons ban was not renewed. It hasn't been renewed. What gives?
Publicola: No, I don't ever recall saying that - what I do recall is urging people to not vote for Bush if the AWB was renewed. There's a difference, subtle perhaps, but different nonetheless
annikagyrl: So you didn't intend to vote for him either way...
Publicola: No. For me Bush is too anti-gun. I'll grant that I'm an Absolutist but his record is no better than Kerry's as far as the laws he enforces, his understanding of the Constitution, & his desire for more gun control. Kerry wants more than Bush perhaps, but what Bush wants would make it easier for someone in '08 or '12 to get what Kerry wants. No, I can't vote for a candidate who fails my litmus test
annikagyrl: It's a matter of principle, not pragmatism for you
Publicola: Actually it's both. Principles aren't merely abstract concepts one discusses over a nice cognac & amaretto. They have to be applied. Take the issue of the Right to Arms - if the government doesn't trust you with the means of your own defense, that has very practical implications - not the least of which is what other Rights it decides to not trust you with
annikagyrl: It’s a matter of voting your conscience?
Publicola: Yes, as well as voting for what I think will best ensure my freedom
annikagyrl: You and i are both fans of Hugh Hewitt, and we’ve talked about his show before
Publicola: Yes. He’s probably the most all around entertaining talk show host around
annikagyrl: i bring up Professor Hewitt because i wanted to read to you a quote from his recent bestseller, If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat. Let me read the quote and get your comment
Publicola: k

"No Republican should ever think about pushing a gun control agenda on the party.
"But the gun absolutists have to realize that the prohibition on individuals owning machine guns and high powered automatic weapons makes sense to a large majority of Americans. So if the GOP agrees with the consensus, the gun absolutists should sit down and shut up. By demanding a theoretical purity they endanger a working majority.
"Control of assault weapons is not the first step down the slippery slope. It isn't even a slope. It's called a broad consensus. Live with it, strengthen your side, and all will be well."
Publicola: Well what really got me about that quote was that Mr. Hewitt, a Con law professor mind you, is ignorant about the law itself as well as the Constitution...
annikagyrl: How so?
Publicola: High powered assault weapons? I think you know my views of the M-16 & its civilian counterpart - aside from a complex design, the cartridge is extremely underpowered compared to say a typical deer hunting cartridge like the .30-06. Hell, most rifles covered by the Assault Weapons Ban were less powerful than your great grandaddy's .30-30 Winchester
Publicola: As for it being a broad consensus... most people support the AWB cause they, like Mr. Hewitt, don't know a machine gun from an underpowered semi-auto. Even so, majority rule does not trump an individual Right. This is not a democracy, not yet. Least not if I can help it
annikagyrl: Yes, but i imagine your objections go deeper than that, since you would also oppose a ban on .50 caliber weapons, am i right?
Publicola: Yes'm. I was objecting to his acceptance of the AWB specifically on technical grounds.
annikagyrl: And you know my great grandaddy was Danish and probably shot a Mauser, lol
Publicola: Then he used a rifle much more powerful than most affected by the AWB.
Publicola: But as far as principle, I see nothing in the Second Amendment that says it's okay to infringe on a Right so long as there's a broad working consensus. The 2nd was there primarily to protect an individual's ability to act in a martial capacity. So when Mr. Hewitt dismisses objections to gun control in the name of party politics, I would have to say he misunderstands the mechanism as well as the application of the 2nd Amendment specifically & the Constitution generally.
Publicola: But what I think is important in Mr. Hewitt's case is he's a Republican. Not a conservative. As a Republican, he'll put party above principle in certain instances. It's unfortunate. If he would see how the principled world should & does interact with the pragmatic one I think he's intellectually honest enough to reconsider. But as it stands now he won't say anything negative about Bush. Hell, I even heard him a few weeks ago attempt a weak party based defense of Spector, perhaps the worst RINO in the party
annikagyrl: Well, without arguing the specifics of that charge, i'd say Hewitt's book makes a pretty good argument for voting a straight Republican ticket every time. And that's something i've been doing since i turned 18. With the exception of a few votes for DiFi, when i was young and stupid
Publicola: Yes, I've been meaning to actually chastise you for that, lol
annikagyrl: i know, i know
Publicola: But when I was young & not so young I did a lot of things I can't say I'm proud of, so I won't hold it against you
annikagyrl: i never voted for Boxer though
Publicola: Neither did I.
Publicola: & I don't doubt that Hewitt is persuasive. Hell, if I bought into a two party system being the only possible or the best outcome I might even agree, as for the most part the Republicans are the lesser of two evils on many issues.
annikagyrl: Okay change of topic. You write about policy issues almost exclusively on your blog
Publicola: Almost yes. Nasty habit in an election year, or in a year when no election is coming
annikagyrl: You also post on another blog, The Shooters' Carnival, which i've looked at. It contains a lot of very useful info, i might add
Publicola: Yes, there are a lot of good writers over at Shooter’s Carnival. & I'm guest posting over at Stop The Bleating
annikagyrl: Yes, with Matt Rustler and Old Skool, great guys
Publicola: Yes, I've known Matt (through our blogs & e-mails) for a while. He's very bright & a real nice guy to argue semantics with
annikagyrl: He’s a lawyer, now
Publicola: Yes, well hopefully he'll find honest work someday, lol
annikagyrl: Anyways, i don't know if people know you’re a musician as well. Is that something you want the public to know? lol
Publicola: Well it's nothing I've tried to hide It's not like I run a crack house or practice law or anything & feel the need to cover it up. But yes I'm a musician. Guitar player specifically
annikagyrl: You know i'm dating a guitar player right now.
Publicola: Yes'm. Odd though - what are the chances of meeting a guitar player in California? lol. Lemme know if you ever want to bombard him with anti-guitar player jokes
annikagyrl: Do you have any advice for women like myself, who can't seem to stop dating musicians?
Publicola: Yes, date me. Seems to cure them of that almost instantly
annikagyrl: lol, that's good to know
Publicola: With few exceptions, most of my ex g/f's remember me as the b/f they had right before they met the guy they married
annikagyrl: What type of music do you play?
Publicola: As far as styles, anything that pays. But mainly I play R&B, Top 40 (rock & dance) Disco, Reggae, Blues, Light Jazz, Rock, Hard Rock, some old Heavy Metal, Bluegrass, Country, Classical, Techno - damn near anything that you can dance to or that someone would pay to hear. Though the Hard Rock/Metal thing - haven't had a gig playing that since 1987. And of course, there’s Southern Rock & Beach music. I played a lot of that when I was younger
annikagyrl: My boyfriend is kind of a folk singer, tries to write a little, when he has time (he's a first year too) and he's played in some coffee shops around here
Publicola: Cool
annikagyrl: He does lots of Neil Young, and some Beatles songs. His Norwegian Wood is amazing.... And he's not even Norwegian!
Publicola: ah Neil - ya know I'm still pissed off over that "southern man" bullshit. Canadian asshole. lol
annikagyrl: i waited all interview to lay that wood joke on you, and you’re not even lol'ing
Publicola: I'm lol'ing internally. really.
annikagyrl: i wish i could play an instrument. i sing though
Publicola: What kind of stuff do you like to sing?
annikagyrl: Hey, im asking the questions here
Publicola: You like singing Britney Spears tunes don’t ya?
annikagyrl: lol
annikagyrl: Anyways, Publicola, thank you so much for your time, you know i think you're the greatest
Publicola: You're too kind. & to think I only have to send you $20 a week for compliments like that...
annikagyrl: haha
Publicola: (hey, don't blame me if the government run postal service is slow...the check's in the mail)
annikagyrl: i wish

*  “I believe in only one thing: liberty; but I do not believe in liberty enough to want to force it upon anyone.” --H.L. Mencken

Posted by annika, Oct. 28, 2004 |
Rubric: annieconversations


So when Do I get an interview(just kidding) Being a Lawyer for Bush in a battleground state, I thought I would be in High demand for interviews. OH well. Lets hope we all do not see me on Fox News at 3:00 AM on Nov 3rd in front of the Lackawanna county courthouse in PA stating that "all we want is a fair legal count".... God HELP US ALL!

Posted by: lawguy on Oct. 28, 2004

Well, if Publicola (at 33) is one of your older readers, call me Methuselah at 37.

Great interview -- serious and thoughtful. You haven't changed my mind one bit about guns, mind you, but you have entertained me.

Posted by: Hugo on Oct. 29, 2004

My God, my mental image of Publicola has just been wrecked. Somehow it never crossed my mind that I'm older than him (only by a year, though).

Publicola, I really wish I could get you and Tung Yin into a discussion of gun control and individual rights during your joint guest-blogging stint. (To see why, click here.)

Finally, let me make this perfectly clear for the record: I have no intention of finding honest work. But I'd also point out that of the 55 delegates who attended the Constitutional Convention and produced the greatest political document in the history of mankind, 64% were lawyers or had legal training. (That's according to a Google search I just ran. I once counted them up for myself, and I think I came up with a similar number.)

Of course, Publicola's response will no doubt be that the other 36% did pretty good work, considering all the damned lawyers they had to deal with . . .

Posted by: Matt on Oct. 29, 2004

Hey, an interview via IM (I assume)! Nifty idea.

I originally had Publicola pegged as another of us old farts. He doesn't exactly write like a young'n, you know.

Someday, I'll just have to meet him.

Posted by: jed on Oct. 29, 2004

Well, Hugo, if I'm pushing 39 in a month, who's older than Methuselah?

One thing that bugged me: "The gist of it is they feel the war on Iraq was unwise & unconstitutional"

Article I, Section 8: To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

Public Law 93-148 93rd Congress, H. J. Res. 542
November 7, 1973 (aka War Powers Resolution) stated:

The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.

and added

SEC. 8. (a) Authority to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situations wherein involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances shall not be inferred--

(1) from any provision of law (whether or not in effect before the date of the enactment of this joint resolution), including any provision contained in any appropriation Act, unless such provision specifically authorizes the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into such situations and stating that it is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of this joint resolution;

The Public law (Iraq War Resolution) approved 77-23 in the Senate and 296-133 in the House stated:

SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

Unwise is often left to history (remember Reconstruction in the Civil War went 12 years - we didn't just all get along after Appomattox - and many would argue still don't 100+ years later)..but until someone challenges the constitutionality of the WP Resolution, throwing around "unconstitutional" is somewhat shaky..

And anyone who's been in parts of the Middle East knows that any kind of gun control laws in most of those countries is doomed to fail..

I'm not quite as hardcore as Publicola is, but he's right about the AWB. If you actually asked someone what the bill actually did, you tended to get either a blank look or "banned assualt weapons" answer. If you drilled one level down to ask if the rationale behind a bill that banned one rifle but not another rifle that looked and performed (the lethality)exactly the same except for a cosmetic feature such as a "grip that protrudes conspicuously" made sense, you'd find the conversation didn't tend to go much further.

It's ironic that some feel sexual education in school serves a useful purpose to prevent the negative or unintended consequences of early sexual activity, but don't believe the same is true for firearms.

Posted by: Col Steve on Oct. 29, 2004

-I'm not sure you were actually interviewing the real Publicola. After the 3rd response with no mention of the Garand, I realized something was amiss and quit reading.

Posted by: Jasen on Oct. 30, 2004

I completely agree with Publicola, but I'm going to vote for Bush anyway. The only alternative to the GOP that I know of are the Libertarian folks, but I can't vote for Badnarik due to his almost Nader-esque views on Iraq and the War on Terror.

I plan on getting an AR-15 someday, and I don't want those damned Leftist authoritarians to ban them in the near future. People should realize that giving the government a monopoly on firearms possession is a bad thing.

If there is ever a riot in your city, then you are probably going to need a weapon to deter hordes of looters during the anarchy since the limited number of local cops are probably going to be busy performing riot control elsewhere instead of helping you.

I once heard that the founding fathers gave us the second amendment so that we could overthrow or rebel against the government if it ever became tyrannical. I would love to see the Left try to explain why disarming the Jews in Germany before the Holocaust was a good thing. The Left should also realize that Ghandi- or MLK-styled peaceful protests don't always work to change government policies. They should ask the Chinese in 1989......


or the Iraqis a couple years ago.

BTW, the M-1 Garand rules. One reason we kicked so much Nazi ass was because of its advantageous semi-automatic capability. The poor Nazis were stuck with near-obsolete bolt-action rifles. heheheh

Posted by: reagan80 on Oct. 31, 2004

Enjoyed your interview of Publicola very much. The insight is very interesting. I don't keep up with the blogs I enjoy enough. I found your link thru Pub. Hey I'm going to be 60 soon! And I enjopy you guys very much. I have to think I'm somewhat of an absolutist too, as I read Publicola. Thanks for the interview.

Posted by: HK Latham on Jan. 29, 2005