Like It or Not, My History is Important

As a historical archaeologist, a large portion of my education was in history.  History was always my favorite subject in school, likely due to some excellent teachers in that subject.  The American Civil War is the most interesting period of history to me and has been for many years.  I’ve been fortunate to have visited several Civil War battlefields and museums, and I’ve even gotten to do archaeology on a few.  No period in history has left such an indelible mark on our culture, especially for those of us who grew up in the South.  My own ancestry includes at least one Confederate soldier and probably one Union, but I haven’t been able to prove it yet.  Those four years changed everything, some for the better and some for the worse.  The battles and military strategy are fascinating, but it’s the people which interest me the most.  Sure, Grant and Lee and their subordinates have volumes written about them and rightly so.  But the people who you don’t read about in books also have a story to tell.  The common soldier who left his family farm and traveled to town to enlist, then went to fight in places he had never heard of for causes he may not have fully understood, he’s what intrigues me.  What causes a man to leave his home and go fight, fight against his countrymen and possibly his own relatives?  For the Confederate soldier, he knew his home and life as he knew it were being threatened and that was cause enough.

Politically, there is little question that the issue of slavery was central among the causes of the war.  It was not the only cause, but was certainly paramount among them.  The many issues, political, social, and economic, that brought on the war are beyond the scope of this article, but may be discussed in a future contribution.  Unfortunately, history is written by the victor, so the war today is often taught and understood as a fight between the noble Union that only wanted to free the slaves and the wicked Confederacy, which only existed to preserve slavery.  This is a gross over-simplification of the issue.  Slavery had little direct impact on the lives of most men who fought for the Union.  There were many soldiers who considered themselves abolitionists, but that was not necessarily their reason for joining the fight.  The primary goal of the Union forces was to prevent the division of the United States.  Abraham Lincoln made this clear in an 1862 letter to Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, where he stated:

My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.   

The January 1, 1863 Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves held in the Confederate states, but did nothing for those in the border states.  It was as much Lincoln taking advantage of a political situation as it was a noble effort to free enslaved human beings.  I do not mean to minimize the impact of the Emancipation Proclamation, only to point out its political value.

For the Confederate soldier, he likely as not owned no slaves.  Estimates vary wildly, but it appears that approximately one third of soldiers in the Confederate army were from slave-owning families.  It would be interesting to know what number of slave owners were officers versus enlisted men, but that is research for another day.  Slavery was an integral part of the Southern economy, so yes, the preservation of slavery was important to many Confederate soldiers and was most definitely a central cause of the War.

The difficult question is how do we view Confederate soldiers and their leaders through the lens of history?  Were they inherently evil men fighting for an evil cause?  Were they heroes who fought and died trying to protect their homeland and way of life?  This question is still hotly contested even 152 years after the end of the War.  As a historian (at least partly), it is my opinion we must view the behavior of people from a perspective of the time in which they lived.  We can all agree today that slavery was a horrible, evil practice.  It is a shameful, ugly scar on our collective past.  But in 1861, it was an economic reality for those who relied on the production of cotton and other agricultural products, particularly in the Deep South.  For the Confederacy, the Civil War was about slavery in much the same way the Gulf War was about oil.  Most wars are fought over threats to the economic well-being of the combatants.  The fact the Confederate economy depended on slave labor does not make the practice any less reprehensible, but it does provide context for why thousands of young men were willing to suffer what they did.

Sadly, modern political correctness dictates all things Confederate to be inherently evil.  People who express pride in their Confederate ancestors, or even their Southern heritage, are labeled as ignorant racists intent on glorifying slavery.  It is no longer acceptable to display the Confederate flag.  A note here to point out that most people have no clue how the true Confederate flags appeared.  The flag which gets everyone fired up is the battle flag, the so-called “Southern Cross” (featuring the St. Andrew’s Cross), not any of the three official national flags or the Bonnie Blue flag.   Even states such as Georgia and Mississippi, which had flags featuring the Saint Andrew’s Cross, have been pressured to change or stop displaying them.  I was angry to see my home state of Georgia caved under the pressure, but I was very proud of the response.  The new flag looks like nothing so much as the First National Confederate flag!  The critics of the original Georgia flag were too ignorant to even notice!

First National           GA Flag

The whole flag thing was bad enough, but now they’re after Confederate monuments.  Municipal governments across the South are under pressure to take down statues of Confederate generals and soldiers and to change the names of streets, schools, and buildings named for them.  New Orleans has caved and is even now removing statues of Lee, Beauregard, and Davis.  This is a dangerous over-reaction.  While it makes the politically correct crowd feel good about themselves, like they’re somehow atoning for the sins of the past, hiding the history of the Confederacy and its people is short-sighted and ignorant.  Where does it end?  Are we to remove the Confederate monuments and memorials from Gettysburg?  Should the statue of Lee on Traveler on the spot where he met his shattered army after Pickett’s Charge be taken down?  What about the Confederate soldiers who are buried in Arlington and other national cemeteries?  Why not dig them up and hide them away somewhere?  I contend there is no difference as these monuments serve the same purpose.  They remind us of our ancestors, of their accomplishments, and their faults.  Lee was a great man and general, whose tactics are still being taught in military academies across the country.  But like every human, he was flawed.  The fact he owned other human beings should not be minimized or ignored, but it should be understood in the context of the time in which Lee lived.

Today’s proponents of this revisionist history appear to take it for granted I have no right to be proud of my Southern roots. I beg to differ! I am proud of my Southern ancestry, including those who served the Confederacy.  My great-great-great grandfather, John W. Hardy, served in the 40th Georgia Infantry and was captured north of Atlanta.  He was then taken to a Union POW facility in Ohio called Camp Chase, dying there from the small pox he contracted before being taken prisoner. He never owned slaves.  I am proud of his service, and of the courage he displayed while fighting to protect his home.  I would almost certainly disagree with many of his opinions about people and why he was fighting, but I’m proud he did it.  It isn’t right to deny us our history and it frustrates this American to see so much effort being put forth to do just that.  If we’re all supposed to get along and all supposed to be equally important, it makes no sense to marginalize the 25% of the country’s population inhabiting the South.

In closing, I will leave you with the inscription on the Confederate Memorial located at Arlington National Cemetery (yes, Arlington).  The memorial was placed in the early 20th century during a time of reconciliatory feelings between the federal government and former Confederate soldiers.  Think about these words the next time you start to cheer the removal of someone’s history.

Not for fame or reward
Not for place or for rank
Not lured by ambition
Or goaded by necessity
But in simple
Obedience to duty
As they understood it
These men suffered all
Sacrificed all
Dared all-and died

As always, patient reader, I welcome your feedback, good or bad, on this article.  Feel free to comment, but please keep it logical and civil.  I hope you’ll share TFA with your friends.  Thanks for reading!



Big Fun at the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting

This weekend (April 28-30), I attended the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Annual Meeting in Atlanta.  I went with my dad and brother, so we were guaranteed to have a good time!  The meetings and exhibition were held at the Georgia World Congress Center, which is about the size of a small city.  The exhibit hall covered 15 acres, which does not include all of the meeting rooms and auditoriums that were in use throughout the weekend.  There was something for everyone in the shooting sports.  If you were looking for information on gun laws, it was there.  Like to hunt?  There was a session for you.  Want to put your hands on that brand new model you’ve seen in the magazines?  It was there.  Heck, even the President was there!  The big draw for the Avery men was the exhibit hall, however.  Imagine the biggest gun show you’ve ever seen.  Now multiply it by 10 and you’re about there!


View of a tiny piece of the exhibit hall from above.



Panoramic view of the exhibit hall.

The amount of guns, accessories, knives, flashlights, clothes, and general cool stuff was just incredible.  It was difficult at first to figure out how to go about trying to see it all.  I must have handled 200 different guns through the course of the event, some more interesting than others.  We visited all of the big guys, plus a whole bunch of smaller companies, some that I’d never heard of.  I tried to visit all of the booths for the companies whose equipment I use, which was really cool since I was able to talk to upper management level folks in several cases. For example, I use a Comp-Tac holster and magazine pouches in competition.  I walked into their display to discover that the founder of the company, Gregg Garrett, was not only working the floor, but had found a stool so that my dad could sit down for a few minutes.  We talked with him for several minutes and had a very nice chat.  I like their gear a lot and it turns out I like their founder pretty well, too!  I also spoke with Randy Lee, president of Apex Tactical Specialties.  I have their Competition Action Enhancement Kit in my M&P 9 Pro, which made it a different gun!  I thanked him for making a great product and for the instructional videos that made installation possible for people like me.  There is nothing more frightening than seeing the guts of your pistol laying on the bench!  Randy’s videos made it much less scary.

I have been wanting to get my hands on Walther’s Q5 Match pistol and finally got to at the show.  It is similar to the PPQ that I carry, but has a full five-inch barrel and even better trigger.  If I was going to buy another gun for Production, I’d have to consider it.  The ergonomics and trigger are top-notch.  As a Smith and Wesson fan, I was pleased to see the M&P 2.0.  They have improved the trigger significantly over the old factory trigger.  The M&P is hard to beat.  If I were itching to get into the Single-Stack game and money were no object, the Colt Gold Cup Match in .45 ACP would be my choice.  I made the mistake of picking one up and trying the trigger.  My knees got a little weak and I broke out in a cold sweat!  It is a gorgeous gun and appears to do justice to the Colt name.  The $1700 msrp price tag is not out of scale with other 1911s and I’m pretty sure that no further work would have to be done to it.  Another good choice would be Remington’s yet to be released 1911 set up to the high standards set by pro shooter Travis Tomasie. While I was at Remington’s display, Tomasie and his team mate, Gabby Franco, walked up and started talking.  You might remember Gabby from Season 4 of Top Shot.  Both were very nice and extremely knowledgeable.  I thought it was pretty cool to talk to a guy with his name on a gun!  If punching paper is your sport and you want to look good doing it, the Sig P210 is an absolutely beautiful target pistol meant to put multiple projectiles into a single hole.  The bore axis is extremely low and the grips are, well, perfect.  At over $2000, they should be!


I can’t leave out the old guns and the new versions of old guns that were prevalent at the show.  I have a soft-spot for the Single Action Armies and Winchester lever guns that I saw in use on my favorite Westerns.  Cimarron Firearms and Uberti USA‘s reproductions of these classic arms are well made and nothing short of beautiful.  There is something just wonderful about the fit of the SAA in the hand and the smoothness of pulling back the hammer and squeezing the trigger!  I loved Cimarron’s 1876 Centennial Rifle, chambered in buffalo-stomping .50-95 caliber!  Then there was Auto Ordnance’s reproduction of the 1927A1 Thompson submachine gun.  The modern version is a semi-automatic in .45 ACP and appears to be very well made.  It’s hard to not feel like a bad-ass when you hold a Thompson!  I don’t know if they’re USPSA-legal, but I’d like to see a Pistol Caliber Carbine shooter bring a Thompson to a match!  They’d win the cool points for sure.

All of the guns and gear were great, but the best part was the people, both the industry professionals and celebrities as well as the visitors like me.  I met several professional shooters representing the cream of the crop in the shooting sports; the very ones you see on TV.  I understand these folks are there to represent their sponsor’s brand, so they’re getting paid to be nice to all of us commoners.  But not one of them gave me the impression they were anything but genuine.  They all seemed to enjoy being there and spent way more time than it takes to get a photo and an autograph.  I almost expected that, but was still very impressed to see it actually come to pass.  It was just like talking to my friends at the range.  I’ll admit a certain level of fan-boy came out in me, especially talking to Jerry Miculek and Julie Golob.  But they were both very nice people and easy to talk to.  There is a list of the folks I met at the bottom of this article with links to their websites.  I hope you’ll check them out and consider their sponsors when you’re looking to buy your next toy.

Even with all of the stuff and celebrities to see, I most enjoyed the crowd.  I haven’t heard any official attendance figures, but 80,000 were expected.  I believe at least that many people were there.  Normally, I hate crowds, but this one was different.  It was simply a friendly crowd.  We talked to several people during the course of the show, either at lunch, in line to see a celebrity, or just in passing.  Rudeness is one of my pet peeves and will set me off pretty fast.  I almost expect it in a crowd that size.  That didn’t happen in three days of walking the show floor.  The other aspect of the crowd I really enjoyed was the diversity.  The leftist media wants you to think the NRA is made up of a bunch of angry, white, male, John Wayne-wannabe, rednecks.  They’re wrong.  I saw men, women, children, families, fathers with sons, fathers with daughters, mothers with their children, people across the age spectrum, and people with a wide array of ethnic backgrounds.  All were there together and getting along just fine.  That is what makes the NRA the strongest lobbying organization in this country.  It does not appeal to any one group, but to everyone who believes the Founders got it right when they wrote the Constitution.  If you’re forming your opinion about the NRA and its members based on what the mainstream media is telling you, then you’re just flat wrong.

If you have any questions about the NRA, or any other shooting or gun related issues, please feel free to contact me anytime.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find it or find someone who does know.  Thanks for reading, and as always, feel free to comment and share!

These are the folks I was privileged to meet at the meeting.  Each is linked to a website where you can find out more about them.

Rob Leatham – A pro shooter with Springfield Armory.  He is one of the people that has built the action shooting sports into what they are today.

Julie Golob – Veteran, mom, author, champion shooter, and very nice lady!  Shoots for Smith and Wesson.

Jerry Miculek – The fastest man on Earth in terms of shooting.  His You Tube channel is hours of entertainment. Shoots for Smith and Wesson.

Max Michel – Max is an incredible shooter for Sig.  Also a very nice guy.

Lena Miculek – The daughter of two great shooters, she was destined to be great.  And she is.  Shoots for Sig.

Travis Tomasie – Travis is a veteran and incredibly talented. I got to talk with him for several minutes at Remington’s display, shooter to shooter.  Very cool!

Gabby Franco – Gabby is a former Olympian and appeared on Top Shot.  She’s a mom and a great shooter, and a very nice lady.

Colion Noir – Colion is a spokesperson for the NRA, doing excellent videos on gun rights issues and the shooting sports.  I was very excited to meet him.

Eric Blandford – Eric is owner of the extremely popular You Tube channel, iraqveteran8888.  The kind of guy with which you could drink a beer.

Chad Sims – Chad is also part of the iraqveteran8888 team.  As nice as guy as his coworker!

Please take some time and check all these folks out.  It’s worth it!

How did I get here?

Social media is full of phrases defining what you believe or support based on your vote in the last presidential election or your political party affiliation.  If you’ve been on any of the popular sites, you’ve seen it.  “If you voted for Trump, then you’re a (insert insult here)” or “Hillary voters are a bunch of (insert insult here)”.  I really hate this broad brush approach, but I’m sure I’m guilty of it too.  I’ve been accused of all kinds of horrible beliefs and behaviors since November last, none of which are true.  I just shrug it off to modern times and the explosion of ignorance which reliance on the media has set off.  But it started me thinking about how I came to think the things I actually do believe.

I am chock full of opinions and obviously, patient reader, I am not afraid to share them.  I’m well educated, I think I’m reasonably intelligent, and I try to stay informed.  I’ve been on this planet for over 46 years and I joined the work force at 15 years of age.  My opinions tend to be based on my personal experience, the experiences of people I know, and generally just paying attention to the world around me.  I also try to throw in a good dose of common sense along the way.  But, I also realize I have much to learn.  I don’t claim to be any sort of authority on any particular subject, so I welcome intelligent conversation about any number of topics.  I enjoy sharing my thoughts here and I look forward to generating more dialog as we add to our content.

So, back to the question of how I came to my current state of thought.  I didn’t follow politics closely in my teen years.  My parents weren’t very political and we seldom discussed politics that I remember.  We were raised with a good, solid moral base, and to think for ourselves.  I could have voted in the 1988 election, but didn’t because I didn’t really feel like I knew enough about what was happening.  By 1992, I had graduated from college (the first time) and was pretty sure I knew all there was to know.  Even in those days, college was very much a haven of liberal thought.  I suppose I absorbed some of that thought.  I felt like the world owed me and my peers a little something anyway.  I knew I had to work hard thanks to my excellent upbringing, but still I somehow felt entitled to a good job and a nice salary by virtue of my brand new college degree.  I thought corporations were inherently evil.  I had no problem with abortion because there were too many people on the planet anyway. I wasn’t completely brainwashed, as I abhorred the idea of drug use, legal or otherwise, and I thought gun control measures were stupid.  Still, when the 1992 election rolled around, I voted for Bill Clinton.  I’ll pause while those of you who have known me less than 20 years pick yourself up off the floor.

OK, now that you’re back upright, I’ll continue.  By the next election cycle, I was starting to see the world differently. The Clintons had shown themselves to be reprehensible human beings by then.  I had been married for 4 years and out of school long enough to have learned that the world owed me exactly nothing.  It became increasingly clear to me that the politics of liberal democrats were not for me.  As I got older and gained life experience, I just didn’t buy it any more.  From that point forward, I realized the core tenets of the Republican Party more closely resembled those of my own.  In every election since, I have voted Republican, usually not because I really liked that candidate, but because I could not abide the Democratic candidate.

That’s where I find myself today.  It is clear to me neither party truly has the best interest of the American people at heart.  Their primary focus is doing whatever it takes to gain or remain in power so they can forward their agenda, regardless of whether it would be good for this nation or not.  Those who hold the power are beholden to their special interest donors, not their constituents.  The media perpetuates this as they report what they want reported about the candidate, rather than the facts about their actual platform.  A disturbing byproduct of the media’s obvious bias is the ever widening divide between Americans identifying with either party.  This is dangerous and will only serve to divide us further.  We cannot solve problems when both sides try to paint the other as extremists.  All of those who voted for Trump are not fascists, any more than those who voted for Hillary are socialists.   This attitude is counter productive, intellectually immature, and lazy.  In my opinion, there are far more true socialists in the Democratic party than fascists in the Republican.  But we have to be careful to apply these labels where they actually belong, not to those with whom we simply disagree.

The point of this blog, besides serving simply as a place for me to vent, is to generate conversation.  Hopefully, mature, logical conversation based on facts and not emotional knee-jerks and name-calling.  If you don’t agree with what I’ve written, then comment.  Come to the party with facts and logic, and we can have a conversation.  Who knows?  We might both learn something.  Come at me with vitriol and personal attacks, you’re comments won’t be posted or acknowledged.  Pretty simple.  Thanks for reading and I’ll look forward to hearing from you!

Confessions of a Brass Hoarder

I seek the treasure.  The treasure is found in a variety of settings.  Sometimes it’s gravel, sometimes grass or dirt.  It glistens in the sun, available to anyone that is willing to seek it out and pick it up.  I seek it out in blazing sun, rain, and occasionally even snow.  It comes in many sizes, some worth more than others, depending on what you seek.  No, I’m not having Indiana Jones fantasies.  The treasure I seek would bore Indy and not make for a very interesting adventure.  No, the treasure I seek is the humble brass cartridge case.

I am a brass hoarder.  I admit this openly and without shame.  As a competitive shooter, the most economical way for me to acquire ammunition is to hand load my own.  This means I have to purchase powder, primers, and bullets.  But not cases.  I don’t know how many I have, but its got to be in the thousands.  I pick them up every time I shoot or visit the range.  Why not?  They’re like found money.  I don’t know how many times you can reload an individual case, but it must be dozens of times.  I see no reason to just leave them laying there.

Cases on the ground

Truth be told, I’ve picked up cases since before I started reloading.  It just seemed like the sensible thing to do.  The only caliber I reload is 9mm since that’s the chambering of my competition and carry pistols, but I have cases in .40 S&W, .45 ACP, .380 ACP, .223 Remington, 30/30 Winchester, and .303 British.  I do not own weapons chambered for .40, .45, or .380!  I’ve ended up with them in batches of cases that I’ve picked up or received for working a match.  I’ll probably start reloading for the rifles one of these days.  The others I hang on to until I hear of somebody that needs them.

If I’m shooting by myself or with an informal group, I usually wait until I’m done shooting and then I’ll try to pick up as many of the fired cases as I can.  In more formal settings, such as during a match, there are definite protocols, if not rules, for when to pick up brass.  It is bad form to get in the way of shooters walking down a stage before they shoot it to pick up brass left by the previous squad.  Following immediately behind a shooter and picking up his brass should be grounds for disqualification.  That’s my opinion, feel free to make it your own.  I used to try to pick some up as the match went on, but I’m too busy now helping to run stages.  Afterwards, however, I make time to pick up what I can.  I usually try to find a stage where there is at least one shooting position that everyone used, such as a classifier.  That way, the brass is more or less in one spot.  I have had to learn over the years that I cannot let my OCD-driven need for completion drive me to pick up all of the brass.  I get what I can in a reasonable amount of time, and let the rest go.  It goes against my nature, but sometimes that’s for the best!Clean cases

My treasure usually looks pretty rough when I first gather it.  It’s usually cleaner to pick it up shortly after it hits the ground, but it doesn’t hurt it to be out for a while.  I take it home and give it a good cleaning in corn cob and polish in my tumbler.  Once it comes out of the tumbler, it has a nice, brassy glow about it.  Then it’s ready to be deprimed, resized, belled, and loaded into a brand new complete round of ammunition, just waiting for me to pull the trigger and start the process all over again.


Porch Sittin’

We are blessed in East Tennessee with some simply beautiful days in early spring.  Today was definitely one of those, with nice warm temperatures and a pleasant breeze.  It’s a great time of year, before the itchy bugs start their annoying habits and the humidity creates a literal wet blanket across the South.  The air was fresh and clean, with the warm smell of emergent vegetation on the breeze.  After work I decided to enjoy the near perfect conditions by indulging in an activity that is nearly forgotten in the modern world; sitting on the porch.  The phrase “sitting on the porch” is far too formal for this marvelous past time.  I prefer “porch sittin'”.  In my Georgia drawl, it would come out “porch settin'”, but I’m afraid that too much vernacular might give the editorial board here at TFA a migraine.  Anyway, porch sittin’ more effectively conveys the relaxed and subdued nature of what is taking place when one spends time on the porch enjoying the spring breeze.

Those of us who were fortunate enough to have spent our formative years in the South should be very familiar with porch sittin’.  In those dark days before the invention of air conditioning, houses were constructed with porches on multiple faces of the house so that one could have access to shade and try to catch the breeze throughout the day.  Today, we’re lucky if a house has any sort of porch whatsoever.  Pap and Grandmother’s house had a front porch and a back porch.  The back porch was enclosed and housed Grandmother’s washing machine and Pap’s tools.  That’s where we broke beans, shucked corn, and did other chores.  The back porch was for work.  The front porch, however, was more relaxing.  It faced US Highway 41, which used to be the main route from Florida northward and is still a very busy highway.

When I was a boy, I spent many hours on that porch with Pap, just sittin’ there, watching cars go by and talking about stuff.  They had these old wooden chairs with seats made of woven metal strips that we used for porch sittin’.  If I remember correctly, those chairs were some of the first things they had when they set up housekeeping.  I have one of them and I treasure it.  You could lean them back on their back legs just enough to get your feet up on the banister, a fine position for watching the world go by.  Sometimes we’d count cars and sometimes Pap would tell stories.  If a neighbor happened by, there was a Howdy! and a bit of conversation.  All in all, I found it to be a fine way to spend an afternoon.

Somehow, I had almost forgotten just what a pleasure porch sittin’ can be.  I haven’t done it in years.  The porch at my house isn’t very big and there is no banister upon which to put your feet.  But it’s on the shady side of the house in the afternoon and overlooks our road.  There are bird nests in the corners that I just don’t have the heart to remove.  It is a perfectly serviceable porch for sittin’, but a person has to slow down long enough to actually sit.  Like most of you, my life is very busy and driven by a schedule.  I rush to get out of the house in the morning, I hurry to get my workout done, hurry to the office, rush to meet deadlines, get home as fast as I can after work, then rush around trying to get everything done at home that has to be done in the evening so I can hurry off to bed.  I spend entirely too much time looking at some electronic device or other and just rushing around.  Porch sittin’ is a potent antidote for the toxins created by our crazy lives.

Today, I decided that I was going to get out a folding chair and do some porch sittin’.  I’m not sure what triggered my desire to do it.  I had been outside most of the day and knew it was a perfect day, and I’d been thinking about my grandparents, too.  I think about them often, but some days, they are really with me strong.  Today was one of those days for some reason.  Something in all of that led me to the porch.  I sat there for about 45 minutes, just watching the cars go by, the birds fly, listening to dogs bark and kids play.  My phone was with me but I never looked at it.  It was wonderful!  Maybe it was the simple fact that I didn’t do a darn thing for nearly an hour.  I think it was more than that, though.  I think it was porch sittin’.   There is something especially therapeutic about being outside on a warm day with a cool breeze blowing across your face and just sittin’.  It is an environment perfectly suited for allowing yourself to slow down, clear your head, and refocus on what’s important.

I wish I could say that porch sittin’ is going to become a regular part of my day.  I know better than that.  But, I do plan to do more of it before the heat of summer drives me inside.  It seems like such a simple thing, and it is.  But that’s the beauty of it!  All you need is a comfortable chair and a porch.  Do yourselves a favor, friends.  Go do some porch sittin’.  Sit with your spouse, your kids, your dog, or just go out by yourself, but leave your phone in the house.  Take a few deep breaths and remember what spring smells like.  Focus on how good it feels to just sit there.  You’ll thank me.


The word ‘tolerance’ gets thrown around a lot these days.  Often, it is being screamed by someone demanding  someone else be more tolerant of some belief or behavior.  In many cases, I’m not sure the term is being applied properly.  Before we get started, let’s have a look at the definition of the term tolerance, as provided by Merriam-Webster:

tolerance: sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own; the act of allowing something.

Obviously, there are other definitions, but this is the one which applies to our discussion here.  Tolerance, in my opinion, includes the ability to accept things with which we might not agree or understand.  Sadly, the term is generally not used this way in current discussion of politics and social issues.  “Tolerance” to many exists only when others agree with and argue for their view of the world, no matter how narrow it might be.  There are many behaviors which I simply don’t understand, but I have come to accept that people that indulge in those behaviors are still good people and have a right to conduct themselves in the way they see fit.  Whether I understand it or not does not matter.  I just have to accept it.  However, I do not have to go out of my way to support the behavior, only the person.  In addition, I was raised to “mind my own knitting”, a Georgia way of saying that I should look to my own house and not worry about what others are doing, as long as they aren’t causing others harm.  One example is homosexuality.  I don’t understand it at all, but I accept that I have many gay friends who are great people.  I want them to be happy and not have to worry about being treated like second-class citizens.  I’m not likely to show up at a Pride parade, but I’m not going to judge anyone based on their choice of partners.  And, simply put, it’s none of my business!

The antithesis of tolerance is intolerance, another term which gets used a great deal these days, usually in conjunction with some political disagreement.  The way it gets used now includes a suggestion of hatred on the part of the person accused of intolerance.  It is important to remember that disagreement does not necessarily imply hate.  It is sad that we have come to a place in our discourse where this simple fact has been forgotten.  I have seen with increasing frequency those who claim to be tolerant being quite intolerant.  This has been going on for many years, but has really become a major issue since the presidential election.  I have said for years that no one is less tolerant than a leftist, and they are showing it to be true.  I can’t understand how anyone could vote for Hillary Clinton.  But I accept that some people felt like she was the better option.  This single fact does not change my opinion of people who I know personally.  If we were friends before the election, your vote isn’t going to change it.

Unfortunately, I have not seen the same level of tolerance from the left.  I should be used to it, since it’s nothing new.  I mean, we’re supposed to tolerate all religions, but Christians can be insulted at will.  We’re supposed to tolerate so-called alternative lifestyles, but anyone who simply supports traditional marriage is attacked and labeled as a bigot or homophobe.  We’re supposed to celebrate people of different cultures, but those of us who are proud of our Southern heritage, warts and all, are labeled as ignorant racists.  Gun owners are called a litany of names.  All of this is perfectly acceptable to so many “tolerant” individuals, because they don’t have to tolerate that with which they do not agree.  As aggravating as this is, it has gotten so much worse since the election.  I have been called everything but brother, only because of the way which I voted.  The pure hatred which spews forth on social media from the left is disturbing.  It is coming from people whom I thought were more mature than that, people who have been outspoken but respectful in the past.  It sent people who were already intolerant right over the edge.

There are many things which we should never tolerate:  racism, sexism, religious persecution, etc.  But attacking people’s intelligence and moral character over their vote is really just shallow and immature.  It smacks of sour grapes.  In closing, I’ll say this: if you’re going to yell and scream about tolerance, you better check yourself and make sure you’re being tolerant.  You don’t have to like it or agree with anyone, but you do have to accept their right to an opinion.  You never know, they might be right.



Why can’t we just get along? Here’s one reason…

From what could be called our “mission statement” above, one can see we’re primarily blogging here because we’re frustrated with the lack of logic, reason, and just good ol’ common sense in what currently passes for public discourse. What I’d like to discuss today is one of the most common logical fallacies. If you haven’t noticed it already, you’ll see what I am about to illustrate used very routinely, and almost never called out as incorrect.

But first, let’s address the more general — what is a logical fallacy? In short, it is an erroneous argument; an error in logic. It’s not necessarily related to what you are saying, but more of how you are approaching the debate. These errors have been categorized and defined for thousands of years now. Seriously, thousands of years… Greeks were writing this stuff down in years we end with “BC”. Intrigued? Research Aristotle. Plato. Stoicism. Also check this out. It’s an intellectual rabbit hole, but I find it fascinating.

Aristotle wrote about ignoratio elenchi, which he considered to be a somewhat “catch all” term for certain logical fallacies related to what I’d like to discuss today, which is called Straw Man. The British also refer to it as “Aunt SalIy”. It can be simply defined as the misrepresention of an opponent’s position. For example:

  • Person A: I feel the medicinal use of marijuana should be legal. 
  • Person B: How can you possibly be in favor of decriminalizing marijuana? Obviously, you just want to get stoned all the time.

To some, the faulty logic of the above needs no explanation. Being in favor of medical cannabis is rather obviously not the same as stating marijuana should be as easily found and as loosely regulated as Cheetos. Unfortunately, this type of erroneous thinking is everywhere. If you have read my last blog post, you will remember I used healthcare as an example in my discussion about what consitutes a right as opposed to a need. On another similar social media discussion not long after posting those thoughts, I was informed the following:


“From your above post, I can “infer” or “deduct” that you believe poor people do not deserve healthcare as a right…..”

“Anyone that thinks the rich should get healthcare while the poor die, deserves to acquire a deadly disease, have their healthcare taken away, and die slowly, as that is what they are doing to the poor.”

“As it is obvious that you do not believe healthcare is a right for anyone if it will cost you a dime of your treasure or a moment of your time, I continue to infer that you are an immoral, evil person.”


All of the previous are perfect examples of Straw Man arguments (with a topper of Ad Hominem for a hint of spice). My point was simply healthcare is not a right. A need? Of course. A right? Nope. I never once addressed economic status. Rich people versus poor people? Not discussed. I never said people don’t deserve healthcare. I said people do not deserve healthcare as a right. Frankly, I feel if a person cannot distinguish between those two statements, they should go back to every teacher they’ve ever had and profusely apologize. An apology complete with wailing, gnashing of teeth, and maybe even self-flagellation. This person attacked arguments I did not make; ergo, his arguments are invalid. Summarized: “You’re arguing against what I didn’t say.” If one were to point out the error in logic and the offender recognize and acknowledge the same, a productive discussion could then possibly move forward. Experience shows the previous statement to be hopelessly optimistic. Such attempts are usually met with further illogical reponses, and remembering a movie quote from Gene Wilder.

When you see the straw man, look for this as well – is the argument being made from a position of ignorance, or deliberately? It is painfully obvious the above examples illustrate ignorance. The most frustrating type of ignorance as well, when the one positing such a wave of illogical garbage is absolutely convinced of both their intellectual as well as moral superiority. Usually, as in this case, quite falsely on both counts, I might add. In all honesty I hold the deliberate practice of this error in more contempt, as it is usually the type purpetuated in political discussions. A perfect example?

  • Donald Trump: “We must have strong borders and not let illegal immigrants enter the United States.”
  • Media/political opponents: “Donald Trump is a racist!”

I have a special contempt for the deliberate use of this as a tactic of demagoguery. This is Goebells-level propaganda, and it sickens me. Almost as much as it sickens me to see the sheer number of people who fall for this type of rhetoric. I may address my thoughts on that in a future post. Those thoughts center on the failings of our educational system, which are many. But, I digress…

Watch out for the straw man. He’s everywhere.

I do hope my ramblings here were informative, and maybe help you realize this error in logic when you see it. Trust me, you will.

As always, rational discussion is welcome – please comment, and if you are so inclined, forward a link to this post on your social media of choice.

Taking the Oath

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

This is the oath sworn by people when they become a naturalized citizen of the United States.  If you’ve ever seen one of the ceremonies where they actually recite this oath and become Americans, you know that it is a powerful moment.  The recent controversy over immigration has been on my mind.  I’ve wondered why anyone that goes through so much to get into this country wouldn’t just go ahead and become a citizen.  I’ve been doing some research on that subject, and came across this oath.  I’ve seen it before, but it has been a while, so I read through it again.

If you stop and think about what a person is actually saying when they take the Oath of Citizenship, you realize how profound a thing it is to become a citizen.  Take a moment to read it and think about what it means.  The very first sentence requires you to renounce any allegiance that you have for a foreign government or leader.  No matter where you were born, where you came from, or what form of government that you lived under, you are saying that you will no longer follow that leader or form of government.  That alone is a powerful statement and a step not to be taken lightly.

But then it goes on to say that you will obey and defend the Constitution, that you will bear arms against our enemies or serve the Armed Forces in a non-combatant role if required, that you will work for the national good if required, and that you will do all of this of your own free will.  Wow.  That is quite a commitment, especially for someone not even born here.  How much love for a place and hope for the future must you have to take this oath?  Seems like quite a bit to me.

In thinking about what this means, I was struck by the fact that so few of our elected leaders live up to what we require of naturalized citizens.  I don’t think that most of them have even read the Constitution, much less are willing to support and defend it against all enemies, foreign and domestic, or bear true faith and allegiance to it!  Some of them have actually borne arms on behalf of the United States and they are to be commended.  But they are the minority.  Can you imagine any of the self-important performers in Hollywood taking this oath?  How about the faux-intellectual media hacks that tell us what to think every night?  No chance.

Here’s something to ponder: would you take this oath today?  Read it and think about it.  Go line by line and ask yourself if you would do what it asks you to do.  Would you make this commitment, knowing all the benefits and hazards of living in a free society?  Could you do it without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion?  I know that many of you reading this would do it without reservation.  But the sad truth is that far too many native-born American citizens would not. Far too many of us have forgotten what it truly means to be a citizen of the United States.  Thankfully, the naturalized citizen that takes this oath and native-born citizen that believes in what it stands for are what keep this country strong.

You keep using that word…

Of the many societal ills from which we are currently suffering, the highest on my radar is how words and terms are constantly being redefined. This is solely for propaganda value in my opinion. Rational and logical discourse have been overtaken by inflammatory, deceptive manipulation for decades now. This has permeated many aspects of our nation, with the government/mainstream media as the chief offender. I do consider them to be essentially the same; the media has long since abdicated any pretense of impartiality. They are the de facto communications arm of the Democratic party.

That being said, the word du jour is “right”. What is a “right”? I dare say if you were to ask a group of random people, you would be hard pressed to find 10% who could adequately define the word as it relates to politics and society. According to and their legal dictionary, it is defined as “…an entitlement to something, whether to concepts like justice and due process, or to ownership of property or some interest in property, real or personal.”

In that previously mentioned random group of people, some would no doubt mention “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” from the Declaration of Independence. Here are those words in more complete context:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident,

that all men are created equal, that

they are endowed by their Creator

with certain unalienable Rights,

that among these are Life, Liberty

and the pursuit of Happiness —

That to secure these rights, Governments

are instituted among Men,

deriving their just powers from

the consent of the governed…”

No one could make a credible case the founders of our country chose their words with carelessness. In the case of the Declaration, once the issue was formally brought before the Continental Congress by Richard Henry Lee on June 7th 1776, a committee was chosen to prepare a written declaration. Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson were the assigned members. Jefferson wrote in 1823 the committee “…unanimously pressed on myself alone to undertake the draught [sic]. I consented; I drew it; but before I reported it to the committee I communicated it separately to Dr. Franklin and Mr. Adams requesting their corrections…I then wrote a fair copy, reported it to the committee, and from them, unaltered to the Congress.” There is a great deal of original source material on this subject if one wishes to find it — my purpose is not to chronicle the history of the document, but to illustrate it was written with many revisions as well as under great care and attention to content. Rather, my purpose is to discuss some of those words in detail to illustrate the concept of rights.

  • “We hold these truths to be self-evident”: My translation? What follows should not require translation, explanation, or justification. They exist as surely as the sky is above us and the earth is below, and they cannot be rationally bargained or dismissed.
  • “…that all men are created equal”: Self evident? Yes. What many do not realize is that in historical context, it was a very controversial and shocking statement. How it is discussed today is usually completely out of context. We were then ruled by the British Crown, headed by a king. Royalty justified their authority as being given unto them by God. They were created superior, meant to rule, every word and decision they uttered carrying the will of the Almighty, with no limit, and your purpose as one created inferior was to be ruled by them with no questions asked. To put pen to paper and state “all men are created equal” was no small affront to the ruling class; it was a shot across the bow! I may write an entire post on this topic alone in the future. For now, I leave you with this: The key word in that phrase is “created”.
  • “…that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”: Now, we’re getting into the heart of the matter. This may be the most rebellious phrase in the entire document. You have rights as long as I decide you have them, according to a king of that time – that was the standard of the day. With those words, the Colonists were essentially saying “…here’s a list of things you have no legitimate power to control, and we dare you to try. We have them because we exist, they were given to us by God, not you, and you cannot take them away”. This was in theory and practice a giant extended middle digit to the king, accompanied by a hearty “up yours!”
  • “that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”: Now, we’re listing those specific things over which they felt the king had no authority. Life – my life is mine, given to me by God. It is not yours to dismiss with a wave of the hand and an “Off with his head”. Liberty – In short, freedom. You cannot capriciously decide how free I am; I am free because I exist, to do as I wish under the laws of God. Pursuit of Happiness – much has been written about the meaning of that term as written in this document. Without writing another book, I will say I believe it to be in agreement with another phrase used both by the First Continental Congress as well as in the Constitution, that being “life, liberty, and property”. Others may disagree.

But again, what is a right? How often do you hear or read someone proclaiming “…it’s my right!”, or ” I have a right to (fill in the blank)!”? There is a difference between a “right” and “what one thinks one should have”. More often than not, those screaming the loudest today are usually crying for the latter. How can you tell them apart? It’s really not that hard once you think about it. Rights are those things you have, whether a concept like the right of self-defense, or a reality like the right to own property which you earned. The key here is this – no one gave it to you; you already have it, either by your very existence, or because of your toil and treasure.

This can be stated more clearly in the inverse: If what you hear someone proclaiming as a “right” requires someone must give it to them, it is not a right! It may be something one feels no one should be without, but if it must be taken away from someone else to give it to you, then it is not a right, it is a nice-to-have.

Before we go further, a short lesson in logic:

Just because one states something is not a right

does not mean they are proclaiming no one

should ever have that something.

That is an illogical argument which

is so prevalent it has a name:

Straw Man.

For an excellent description of

this logical fallacy, go here.

I’ll give you a decidedly hot-button example: Health care. You will have no problem finding those who state people have a right to health care. It simply isn’t true (take a deep breath, see the previous paragraph). For one to have a right to health care, someone will have to give it to them. That means the work, time, services, products, and money of someone else, either directly or indirectly MUST be given to someone else simply because they exist, and those who provide those dollars, goods, services, man-hours, etc. are not compensated. Except for the lobbyists and the politicians, of course; but I digress.


We have a word for the legal requirement

under threat of force to provide from

one’s time and treasure

with no compensation.

It’s called slavery.


Remember, the subject of this discussion is centered around the definition of rights, not a discussion of health care. I chose that as an example because it is a very current topic at this time in our history.

Substitute the topic du jour when you hear it into the previously mentioned formula and my belief is you’ll find very few actual “rights” are being discussed. More often than not, you’re actually trying to be intimidated and propagandized into going along with giving up more of your labor and/or liberty to the government so they can enslave more of us in the shackles of dependency.

Don’t fall into the trap of their demagoguery. Know your rights from your nice-to-haves!

Good, but Not Good Enough

In November of last year, in McMinn County, Tennessee, a 13 year old boy was attempting to unload a rifle and accidentally shot and killed his 17 year old sister.  Incidents like this frustrate me terribly because they are 100 percent preventable.  There is no reason that this should ever happen.  As a gun owner and parent, gun safety is something about which I am passionate.  I demand safe gun handling in my house and anywhere else that I go where firearms are being handled.  Its actually very easy to handle modern firearms safely.  Its almost impossible to make one fire without actually pulling the trigger.  And yet we still have accidents.  I think that’s unacceptable.

The good news is that incidents of unintended injuries and deaths caused by firearms is at an all-time low.  According to the 2016 report on firearms related injuries issued by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (, the incidence of unintended fatalities involving a firearm have decreased 57 percent over the last 20 years.  In 2013, 586 unintended fatalities out of 136,053 involved a firearm, or 0.4 percent.  Keep in mind that there are approximately 350 MILLION guns in the U.S., but only 586 unintended fatalities involved a firearm.  Only 0.6 percent, or 400, of the 69,500 unintended fatalities that occurred in the home involved a firearm.  The news is also good when it comes to unintended fatalities involving children (14 years of age and under).  In the last 20 years, the incidence of unintended deaths of children involving a child decreased 73 percent.  Only 1.3 percent (50) of the 3,857 unintended fatalities of children involved a firearm.  Almost every other sport is more dangerous than shooting.  A cheerleader is 29 times more likely to be injured than a hunter with a firearm!

Those numbers are undeniable proof that, by and large, gun owners are safely handling and storing their firearms.  Modern firearms are manufactured to be as safe as possible and still be useable.  Training programs provided by the NSSF and the National Rifle Association are working to make people safer.  This is great news, but we can do better.  These numbers should be zero.

The way to accomplish this is training.  Training takes many forms, from formal classes to a parent instructing their child to all of us correcting people that we see at the range doing something unsafe.  Parents, it is incumbent on you to teach your children how to behave around a firearm.  I don’t care if you think guns are inherently evil and should be eradicated from the earth.  If you pretend like they don’t exist and that your child will never be around them, you are drastically increasing their odds of injuring themselves or someone else.  Children are naturally curious and you simply can’t control their environment all the time.  You do have control over your firearms and it is your responsibility to control access to them.  It takes some thought, but there are ways to keep them away from your kids but accessible to you.  The other way to tame that curiosity is to familiarize your kids with firearms.  If you aren’t comfortable doing that or don’t have that knowledge yourself, then find a trusted friend that can.  If you ask me to help you with this process, I will not say no.  At a minimum, your kids must know that they are never to handle a firearm without you present and that they should tell an adult immediately if they find one.

As for formal classes, I am not for mandatory training.  “Mandatory” requires some form of governmental involvement.  We’ve got plenty of that already.  But I would like to see gun sellers offer free classes on basic gun safety with the sale of every firearm, especially those buying their first gun.  New shooters should seek out a formal class or consult with a friend that has experience with firearms.  Again, if you ask I will help you.

Being safe with firearms comes back to the Four Rules of Gun Safety.  Many of you will know them by heart, but for those that might not be familiar, they are:  1. All guns are always loaded; 2. Never point a gun at anything that you aren’t willing to destroy; 3. Do not touch the trigger until your sites are on target and you are ready to shoot; and 4. Be sure of your target, what is around it, and what is beyond it.

If everyone would follow these four simple rules, there would be no negligent discharges, and therefore, no unintended injuries or deaths involving firearms.  But break just one of these rules, something bad can happen.  Break more than one and it’s almost guaranteed.  Anytime that I hear of a negligent discharge because “the gun went off”, my immediate thought is “bull”!  Guns do not, will not, CAN NOT go off unless the trigger is pressed or there is a major mechanical malfunction.  Given the quality of modern firearms, the latter seldom happens.  People get injured because other people break one or more of those four simple rules.

If you don’t know, I’m a competitive pistol shooter and I carry concealed every day.  I handle a pistol a lot.  I took a training class a few years ago with a Grand Master level shooter.  At the end of a drill, I was preparing to holster my pistol and I forgot that I still had a round in the chamber and I failed to clear it.  We always drop the hammer before we holster, as another layer of safety.  When I pulled the trigger, it went bang, much to the chagrin of my instructor and my embarrassment!  Fortunately, I was obeying the other rules and no one was injured and no damage was done, other than to my nerves.  I tell you this to emphasize that even those of us who handle firearms every day need to be aware of our safety.  It takes one lapse of attention to make a major mistake.

The bottom line is that the shooting sports are some of the safest activities in which you can participate.  But when injuries do occur, they tend to be serious and often involve innocent bystanders.  American gun owners do a great job of keeping themselves and those around them safe.  I’m very proud of that.  But we can do better.  Every single negligent discharge is preventable.  Let’s work to make the number of unintended injuries involving a firearm zero.