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OK, You Lost Me

You want a gun to hunt with? OK, I get that.

You want a gun to defend yourself, your family, and your property from criminals? OK, I get that.

You want a gun to defend yourself from an oppressive government? I’m not sure I’m totally with you, but I get where you’re coming from.

You want a gun to defend yourself from an oppressive government, and you want a strong standing military? OK, you lost me.

The most common argument for guns these days seems to be that people need to be able to defend themselves, whether from criminals or a tyrannical government. And yet, the people who are the strongest proponents of gun rights also tend to be the strongest proponents of expanding the military, the very thing out of control governments use to oppress their people. This is especially true of the pro-gun activists’ favorite examples, Cambodia and Nazi Germany. How did we get here?

Let’s look at the Amendment everyone is so up in arms (sorry) about: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” How did this passage make it into the Bill of Rights, and what is its intent? The Constitution is actually fairly clear on this issue, if we step back from the Second Amendment in particular and consider the whole document.

First, Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution defines the powers of the Congress, including, “To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.” What exactly was meant by “the Militia”? Originally defined by the Militia Act of 1792, it was composed of “each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, by the Captain or Commanding Officer of the company, within whose bounds such citizen shall reside…”

This is where the Second Amendment comes in. Obviously, the only way for such a militia to be effective is for them to be armed. This intent is clearly explained by Tench Coxe, a Revolution-era economist, as “Whereas civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as military forces, which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.”

So, inasmuch as gun proponents claim a right to firearms as a means to prevent government oppression, they are correct. This intent breaks down, however, when they go on to support a large standing army. In fact, the Constitution was written with the above passages because of a desire NOT to have a standing army. The newly formed country had just overthrown the rule of a government which used its military might to bend the colonists to its will, and they recognized the corrupting influence of such a force. Indeed, Article I, Section 8 gives Congress separate powers to maintain a militia and “raise and support Armies,” but these forces are limited, as “no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years.” In other words, no standing armies. Why else does the Defense Department use the word “DEFENSE” and not “WAR”?

So, by supporting a strong military, gun proponents are also promoting the oppressors from which they claim to need protection. Is this cognitive dissonance, or a clever plan?

I should note that I am not against a strong military, nor do I mean to denigrate the role this country’s service men and women play in protecting us and our freedoms. While I have not myself served, I have many family and friends who have, and I am grateful for each and every person who agrees to put their life at risk to defend our great country. But I also am not against common sense regulations on firearms.

Daily News – 1/7/13

North Carolina

BofA To Pay Fannie Mae $10 Billion
McCrory’s First Act: Rescinding Perdue Order
McCrory Has Promises to Keep


Chicago Lottery Winner Poisoned
Illinois Lawmakers Propose Pension Fix; Unions to Sue
Chris Christie Casts a Big Shadow
White House, GOP Draw Lines on Fiscal Debate
California Overturns Rape Conviction on Arcane Law


Chinese Newspaper Censorship Leads to Journalist Strike
Assad Peace Plan Met With Scorn
Patriot Missiles Headed to Turkey


Italy Discovers Apartheid
Are People Being Unfair to House Republicans?
Next Week ‘The Bullshit Stops’ on Hagel
Why Hagel Matters

Daily News – 1/3/13

North Carolina

McCrory Finalizes His Cabinet
Guilty Pleas in Cherryville Corruption Case
NCAE Wins Payroll Dues Tax Battle


Inmates Sue Beer Companies for $1 Billion
Obama Signs Fiscal Cliff Deal From Hawaii
Harry Reid Torches Obama Proposal
House Set to Vote on Sandy Aid
Tea Party Reps Promise Consequences For Fiscal Cliff Deal


Senior Al Qaeda Figure Killed in Yemen
Turkey Looking to Supply Developing Energy World
India Rape Suspects Charged with Murder


Boehner Hangs On
Everything You Read About Health is Wrong
Republicans Start New Congress Bruised and Divided
A Do-Something Congress

Daily News 1/2/13

North Carolina

Pat McCrory Plays Stand-Up Comic
McCrory Calls For Tax and Education Reform
BofA Stake Helps Buffett Beat S&P 500


Minimum Wage Gap Grows Between States
Plastic Water Bottles Now Illegal in MA Town
House Skips Vote on Sandy Aid
Taxes Still Set to Rise for Most – 2% payroll tax increase
Markets Rally After Fiscal Cliff Deal


Central African Rebels Agree to Peace Talks
Ivory Coast Stampede Caused by Barricades
Lawyers Boycott India Rape Defense


The NRA Claims the AR-15 is Useful for Home Defense and Hunting – what are you hunting and defending against?
Fiscal Cliff Deal Delays the Inevitable
The GOP’s Strange Focus on the 2nd Amendment
House Republicans’ Primal Scream

Daily News – 1/1/13

North Carolina

Burr Starting the Blame Game
Some ABC Boards Losing Money – how do you lose money selling booze?
Wildlife Groups Targeting Hunt Pens


The Science of Marijuana Psychosis is Foggy
Senate Fiscal Cliff Compromise Details
Liberal Groups Calling for Dems to Ignore Fiscal Cliff
State Department Made Major Errors in Benghazi
GOP Wants More Cuts


Sixty Trampled to Death in Ivory Coast Stampede
Aleppo Airport Closed Due to Syria Clashes
Egypt Cracks Down on Media


Why I Miss Pork Barrel Politics
150 Years of Freedom
A Confederacy of Madmen
Death by Brown Skin – why Islamaphobia is such a threat

Help a Family Struggling with Brain Cancer

We all have many reasons to celebrate the holiday season and the New Year, and for many of us our good health is at the top of the list. For some, however, the season is made especially difficult as they have to struggle with significant health issues. The Rhodes family falls into this latter category.

Dustin Rhodes, an ultramarathoner, husband, and 28-year-old father of an 8-month-old, is one of 200 people in the world in their 20’s struggling with a form of brain cancer known as Giloblastoma Multiforme. He has been diagnosed as stage 4, meaning the cancer is advanced and aggressive, and is currently on his way to Duke Medical Center to prep for a very delicate surgery on January 2nd.

I only know of the family through social media, but their story has captured my attention, and I want to do what I can to help spread the word. You can learn more about the family and his diagnosis, as well as how you can help, at Show your appreciation for your good health by helping this family as they struggle through this difficult time and try to beat this disease.

More Stupid Taxes

While investigating the Amazon Affiliate Marketing program for another site, I discovered that residents of North Carolina, among other states, can’t participate in the program. This came after my frustration in not being able to find North Carolina in the drop down list of states (I thought I was just an idiot and not seeing it). The issue, at least in North Carolina, appears to be a requirement by the state that online retailers register a quasi-nexus in the state, which would subject them to North Carolina sales tax. Rather than doing this, certain sites, like and, have decided to simply suspend their affiliate marketing programs for residents of those states, rather than subject themselves or their affiliates to the taxes.

The rationale for instating these taxes is to level the playing field between brick-and-mortar and online retailers. The problem with this reasoning is that there are other factors that already level this playing field. The biggest of these is the fact that the consumer must pay for shipping. Even if the site offers ‘free shipping,’ the cost of that shipping is already baked into the prices of the products offered by the site. In addition, it takes some amount of time, from overnight to a couple of weeks, to receive products ordered online, so there is no lure of instant gratification. Finally, many items, such as clothing, shoes, etc., simply do not lend themselves well to online shopping, as people can’t try these items on, feel them, or actually see them prior to purchase.

Indeed, the reasons above have limited online sales to a tiny fraction of the overall retail marketplace. For all the talk about ‘Cyber Monday’ and the growth of online sales, they still account for only 7% of all retail sales. To put this in perspective, total online retail sales are projected to reach $226 billion by YE 2012. Walmart’s retail sales, on the other hand, were $443.9 billion. That’s right, the entire online marketplace is half that of just Walmart’s.

US Retail Sales 1992–2010

US Retail Sales 1992–2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So why all the fuss? Because the big box stores, like Walmart, don’t like competition. And they have pressured legislators in various states to pass laws to ‘level the playing field’ by charging sales tax to online retailers. In other words, they want to tilt the playing field more in their favor. Ultimately, the losers here are small businesses and entrepreneurs who are trying to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the online marketplace.

So what’s a person looking to participate in affiliate marketing to do? Well, first, let me emphasize that I am not a lawyer or accountant, and have no ability to dispense legal advice. However, there are other sties, such as Google, that do still offer affiliate marketing services to people in North Carolina. The aforementioned big box stores, already having a physical presence in the state, do as well. You would still be well advised to check with your accountant on how to handle any income derived from affiliate marketing services.

In the meantime, I will be writing my legislators to try to convince them of the error of their ways. Wish me luck.

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