Seen on the street in Kyiv.

Words of Advice:

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

“The Mob takes the Fifth. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” -- The TOFF *

"Foreign Relations Boil Down to Two Things: Talking With People or Killing Them." -- Unknown

“Speed is a poor substitute for accuracy.” -- Real, no-shit, fortune from a fortune cookie

"If you believe that you are talking to G-d, you can justify anything.” — my Dad

"Colt .45s; putting bad guys in the ground since 1873." -- Unknown

"Stay Strapped or Get Clapped." -- probably not Mr. Rogers

"The Dildo of Karma rarely comes lubed." -- Unknown

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

* "TOFF" = Treasonous Orange Fat Fuck, A/K/A Dolt-45,
A/K/A Commandante (or Cadet) Bone Spurs,
A/K/A El Caudillo de Mar-a-Lago, A/K/A the Asset., A/K/A P01135809

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Jonathan Pollard Should Leave Prison, But Only Inside a Box.

The Israelis want Jonathan Pollard released.

Screw him. He is right where he deserves to be. Pollard, as an American citizen, spied for a foreign power. Makes no difference to me whether or not the foreign power is a firm ally, a moderately trustworthy partner or an adversary.

Worse, Pollard was the poster-child for those who felt that American Jews cannot be trusted with secrets, that Jews would be loyal to Israel. You may not know this, but during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, there were some serious high-level discussions about denying Jewish officers and senior civil servants access to classified data on the fear that it would be passed to Israeli intelligence services.

Spies get traded, they die in prison (or they get hanged). Unless the Israelis have something really good to trade for him, Pollard is where he should be.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

In Other Travel News, Stagecoach Service to Resume Between St Joseph, MO and San Francisco

Some entity called the "Blue Star Line" plans to build a replica of the RMS Titanic.

Presumably without the substandard rivets, inadequate number of lifeboats, coal-fired boilers or the triple-expansion steam engines powering the outboard screws.

As I wrote almost a year ago, the RMS Titanic was a luxury liner for its day. Now, not so much.

My gut feeling is that there is a lot of financial fuckery afoot. If this pseudo-recreation does sail in 2016, I'll wager that it won't go ten years before it is scrapped. Maybe five. More likely, a boatload of investors will be separated from large amounts of money and the ship won't ever sail.

A Common-Sense Approach to Getting Our Government Back on Track

Rip out the cameras from the floor of the House and the Senate. Ban audio and video recordings/broadcasts from the Congress on the pain of death by something truly nasty.

I think that one of the worst decisions in modern history was to allow C-Span to put cameras in both chambers. As a result, we've moved from rational debates to bloviations that are being done for the cameras and the folks at home. It's sort of a contest to see Who Can Be the Biggest Jerk.

Sure, sometimes there can be inspiring moments, such as when Sen. Joe McCarthy was finally exposed as being a weasel who built his career on character assassination:

But those noble moments are now few and far between. It might not get those clowns back to work if we took the cameras out. But I can't see how it'd hurt.

The Border Between Reality and Satire Can Be Pretty Thin; DoD Edition.

See if you can tell the difference!
A. The Departmernt of Defense has spent $179 million trying to train gorillas to be warriors.

B. The Air Force has responded to pilots' criticisms that the F-22's oxygen system is hazardous to the pilots' health by saying, in effect: "Suck it up, Cupcakes. You'd rather be operating a Predator drone?"
It's B.

The military has been flying airplanes with installed oxygen systems since before the Second World War. The F-22 has a lot of combat system capabilities, but other than the "supercruise", I don't know as it can fly higher or faster than a fifty five year old F-4. The published numbers show that a F-15 can fly as high and faster. So I'm inclined to give the Air Force a brown Bullshit Card on this one.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Skeevy No Matter Which Party Is In Power

Donate (or bundle) half-a-million bucks for President Obama's post-campaign campaign fund and you get to go to a meeting with him!

If you would have thought that sort of shit would have been sleazy when Chimpy was in office, then it is just as sleazy now.

Why I Gave Up Drinking

Pretty much sums up why I stopped going to bars:

Saturday, February 23, 2013


I remember this song Fleetwood Mac song as being one of the weirder songs of the late `70s. But there is something about it that makes it one of the ones I remember in the midst of all of the crap that was on the radio from Saturday Night Fever.

UPDATE: At LRod's suggestion:

More Than Seven Rounds?

Chris Hernandez makes the case that you may very well need more than seven rounds. A lot more.

He has a lot of stuff in the story, but this is the takeaway:
Make your own decision about whether or not to defend yourself, and what you should use to do so. But learn the reality of a gunfight. Understand that you’re likely to only hit with a small percentage of the shots you fire, and those hits may not have much effect.

And most of all, remember that many people who say nobody needs more than seven rounds don’t have a clue what they’re talking about.


Jake just hangs out.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Taking Advice From Joe Biden on Guns is Like Taking Advice From Todd Aiken on Rape

This is what VP Biden said in answer to a woman's question on self-defense:
"Kate, if you want to protect yourself, get a double barreled shotgun," Biden responded. "I promise you, as I told my wife, we live in an area that's wooded and somewhat secluded. I said, Jill, if there's ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk out, put [up] that double barreled shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house."

The vice president said that by firing two shotgun blasts, anyone who might be trying to break in would be scared off.

"You don't need an AR-15," he said. "Buy a shotgun! Buy a shotgun!"
That advice is wrong on so many levels.

First off, in a self-defense situation, the last thing you want to do is empty your gun by firing it into the air. If the bad dudes are of a mind to pursue the matter, you are now standing there, probably in the middle of the night, trying to fumble two new shells into your shotgun.

Second, if you live in a municipality, the cops are going to respond to about fifteen neighbors calling in "shots fired" calls, and what they are going to do is take you to jail. Because in damn near every incorporated area (cites, towns), it is illegal to shoot off a gun. "Gee, I thought I saw sumthin', ossifer" is going to be a lot less of a justification than "That guy who bled out all over my floor broke into my house". More to the point, northeastern states generally do not let you shoot at people in your yard. So ol' Kate would go to jail for that, as well, if she followed Biden's advice.

Third, anyone who thinks that a 12-gauge double barreled shotgun is easier to shoot than an AR-15 has probably never shot either one. A 12-gauge shotgun has a pretty damn good kick to it, especially if it's not an autoloader.

I highly suspect that those lining up to say "Biden is right" have likely never come closer to seeing a gun than looking at one in a cop's holster. For those who do have some time on a shooting range, it will be further evidence that this Administration has no idea what it is talking about.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Achmed bin Hiding Changes Location?

I don't know crap about what I am about to write, nor have I read anything about it.

But it seems to me that one of the consequences of the Drone War will be to push the enemy into hiding out in urban areas.

The primary weapon of the Drone War is the Hellfire missile. Hellfires were designed as a standoff antitank weapon, with a dual-blast warhead that was designed to defeat reactive armor. The warhead itself has about 18-20lbs of explosives. Some of the brighter minds in Ft. Fumble have realized that an antitank warhead isn't exactly optimal against unarmored targets, so other versions have been designed. The frequency of their usage is kind of arguable.

Still, the missile is essentially delivering a 20lb satchel charge. A 20lb satchel charge has the potential to collapse a smallish building. In a large building, it will likely do lethal damage to rooms around the target.

So Achmed moves into an apartment building. His apartment gets hit by a missile. Achmed is killed and the apartments around his are destroyed. Several families are killed, maybe a few survivors. Likely none of them knew that Achmed was a terrorist. It's not as though they were living next to a ball-bearing plant. And their country isn't at war with anyone.

How do you think the survivors of those families, hell, everyone else in the neighborhood are going to react? Who do you think they will blame? We should have some idea, for after all, we've some experience with that.

"Piss Yourself to Deter Rape"... Really?

That is what the University of Colorado has advised female students, that they should piss themselves or barf on themselves to make themselves less attractive to rapists.

I humbly submit a better idea: Make the rapist piss his pants.

What is it with Colorado Democrats? There was the idiot who pretty much said that if attacked, you should stab your attacker with a pen. And now this comes to light?

If that floats your boat, fine. But better to have a gun. I suspect that there is a kernel of truth to the saying that the gun control crowd believes that a woman who is found raped and dead in an alley is morally superior to a woman who is explaining to the cops how and why her attacker came to suffer a sudden case of bullet wounds.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Shorter Mitch McConnell: "It's Obama's Fault That I Appear to be an Idiot."

So sayeth his Duty Lackey:
"Senator McConnell's office is hyper-vigilant about finding answers to the questions raised by his constituents. If the inquiry is unfamiliar to our staff, we often attempt to find answers from agencies and in this case, that extra effort produced a humorous misunderstanding. And frankly, we were surprised that anyone from the administration would forward a constituent's letter to the press," said McConnell spokesman Don Stewart.

The story was false right on its face. You would have to be a complete moron, or a Fox-News-inhaling-asshat,* to even think that there could be an ounce of truth to such a yarn.

No, this one is on McConnell. He and his party have spent the last 4+ years demonizing this president. No rational thjinking person wold have been fooled for more than three seconds. But they were fooled long enought to write up a letter to the DoD and send it over.

They have nobody to blame but themselves.
* Arguably, the second category is a subset of the first.

The Drone Drivers' New Purple Heart

Because they can suffer an injury of some kind while fighting the war from a cubicle in Nevada (just minutes away from the Vegas Strip)!

War is hell, indeed.


Gracie passed away a year ago today.

I don't regret the decision. She had a bad thyroid and arthritis. Jaw cancer just was the icing on a rather shitty cake for her. The photo above was taken a week or so after she had had blood drawn for some tests, as you can see where the vet tech had shaved her front leg.

My one real regret is that, when it came time, and after they had brought her into the examination room, wrapped in a blanket, I laid her on the table so the vet could put her down. Sure, I petted and scratched her as it was done. I told her how sorry I was, how this was for the best, that I didn't want to see her suffer any more, and that someday, I would see her again.

But I should have held her in my arms.

Russian Driving and the Meteor of Death

Covered by the Daily Show.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Could Mitch McConnell Be Even Dumber If He Worked At It?

First the Duffel Blog ran a story that Gitmo prisoners were going to get veteran's benefits.

Then some idiot in Kentucky wrote his/her senator, Sen. McConnell, to ask "WTF". And McConnell, being as dumb as a post, passed the question on to the DoD.

(Click on the image to embiggen)

Score one for the Duffel Blog!

Civilian Cops

Our police are not part of the armed forces. They are civilians (even though the cops themselves refer to you and me as "civilians").

Restated: The police are not military, they are civilians.

Then why do the police carry military weapons? Why, in places that restrict the types of weapons that civilians can carry, do the cops get a pass? Why, in places where magazine capacity is limited, do the cops get to carry weapons with larger magazines?

The whole Dorner thing, from the way the cops shot up the pickup truck driven by the two women delivering newspapers, to the way they "handled" the siege of the residence that Dorner died in, was done with a use of arms more in line with a third-world military's "spray and pray" than anything else. From what I saw of the whole sorry affair, you could have knocked the sights off the cops' guns with a hammer and not changed anything.

Dorner was an asshole. He murdered a cop's daughter and her betrothed. I cry no tears for him.

But what Dorner did was expose, yet again, the over-militarization of the police forces in this country. Dorner drove home the "occupying army" narrative.

That needs to be changed.

I have seen things where various sheriffs and other officers have said that they will not step on the Constitution. Well, that is laughable. The last forty years of the "War on Drugs" have been nothing but a watering down of Constitutional guarantees.

More on that to come.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Shorter Maker's Mark: "OK, We Fucked Up. We're Sorry."

Maker's Mark has changed its mind about watering down its booze:
You spoke. We listened. And we’re sincerely sorry we let you down.

So effective immediately, we are reversing our decision to lower the ABV of Maker’s Mark, and resuming production at 45% alcohol by volume (90 proof).
I suspect that they are just the latest company to find out that the Internet has an amplifying effect on public opinion. Especially when companies are doing moronic things.

I don't know if any of the 84 proof crap made it to the shelves, but it'll probably be a "New Coke" grade collectable if any did.


Billionaires Trying to Buy Elections

Now it's Hizzoner Da Mare "No Large Sodas for You" Bloomberg doing it.
Bloomberg has completely thrown down in the special election race in Illinois with his million dollar investment to defeat Debbie Halvorson.
If you think that this is a good thing, then try substituting "David Koch" or "the U.S. Chamber of Commerce" for "Michael Bloomberg"and then ask yourself how'd you feel about it.

Diluting the Product

Maker's Mark is now diluting its product so they can sell more of it.

I think they're insane. They'll get, what, a seven percent increase in their inventory by stepping on their bourbon at a cost of public relations disaster? Here's a radical idea: If demand outstrips supply, try raising your prices, guys! That's what capitalists do, you know, "free market" and all that?

90 proof to 84 proof doesn't sound like a lot, but 80 proof is the lower limit for bourbon produced for domestic consumption by Federal law.*

Bridget Magnus suggests that Evan Williams is a good bourbon for its price. An old bar-owner told me that she used Ten-High for her well bourbon, but that was before they went from being a straight bourbon to a blended bourbon.**

Reducing the quality so you can sell more of it is a pretty bone-headed move.
* If exported, it could be recycled antifreeze, for all the Feds care.
** On the other hand, if you're going to use it for drinks like bourbon-and-coke, who the hell cares?

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

A C-130 departs Antarctica.

Not a pure jet (turbojet or turbofan), but the JATOs, or what the Brits call "RATOG", make up for it.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Jake takes his post-breakfast break.

He's 17, resting is a lot of what he does. He still will get playful and bap toys around, though.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Somewhere, the Sun Has Gone Over the Yardarm.

That is all.

Sic `em, Senator!

Politico: Elizabeth Warren strikes fear into Wall Street

NEW YORK — Some bankers hoped that Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the liberal firebrand who helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, would be subdued in her first term as she learned the ways of the Senate. Warren’s avoidance of the Beltway media appeared to stoke these hopes.

Well, forget it.

Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, came out blazing Thursday in her first high-profile appearance as a member of the Senate Banking Committee, ripping into regulators and starkly suggesting banks might be cooking their books.
Of course they've been cooking their books. Wells-Fargo as much admitted to it, saying that part of their valuation of their securities is, in part, "based on significant assumptions not observable in the market", which is bankster-spreak for "we're making all this shit up."

Fiction is one thing. Fiction being passed off as the value of something is pretty much cooking the books.

Go get `em, Senator!

What the Hell Was This Shit All About?

OK, I just found out. It is something that is even more annoying than Gangnam Style: The "Harlem Shake". You can find videos of people performing it,* but you should watch those only if the alternative is something truly horrific, such as doing your taxes by hand or reading the memoirs of Dick the Torturer Cheney.

Elsewhere in humor, here is Conan's take on Rubio's Water-gate (though you'll have to sit through one of the more annoying tax commercials):

* Or having an epileptic fit. It can be hard to tell the difference.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Chair Force Combat Medal

I wish this was a joke from Duffel Blog. But it isn't. Now, some frakking gamer who is sitting in a comfy chair in Nevada can get a medal for killing people on the other side of the world.
The Pentagon is expected to announce today the creation of a medal that can be awarded to drone operators as well as to individuals fighting in the cyberwar trenches.

This would be a first. The Distinguished Warfare Medal, a nearly two-inch-tall brass pendant below a ribbon with blue, red and white stripes, will be handed out to people judged to have racked up "extraordinary achievement" directly tied to a combat operation but at a far remove from the actual battlefield....
That's right, a "combat" medal for some REMF whose biggest on-the-job risk is getting a paper cut, or possibly eye strain from watching a monitor. No risk to themselves, no bravery under fire is called for. Hell, the only risk they have of getting shot is if they cheat on someone else's spouse or if they walk into a liquor store that's being robbed.

And it gets even better! In order of precedence, the Chair Force Attaboy Gong is higher than the Bronze Star, a medal that, when awarded with a "v" for valor,* is typically given for bravery in the kind of combat where the enemy is shooting at you.

This is bullshit. This frakking "combat" medal cheapens the medals that are given to the real fighting men and women, the people who perform real acts of bravery. There is no "combat" involved in playing cybergeek or sitting at a drone control station near Vegas. The actor in the Barbasol commercial** came closer to actual combat then the Chair Force "soldiers" who would be eligible for this new medal.

What's next, a medal for neocon chickenhawks?

UPDATE:  The Duffel Blog's suggested design for this Combat Gamer's Medal:

* Without the "v for valor", the Bronze Star has been given to Fobbit/garritrooper officers who could hear gunfire way off in the distance.
** I can't tell what rifle he's carrying. There is something roundish at the back of the receiver and the barrel looks too short for a Garand.

Ultimate WW2 Fantasy Camp?

Except that I'd want to fly it and that isn't going to happen.
Do you remember watching Twelve O'Clock High or Memphis Bell? Have your ever imagined what it would be like to train for - and fly - your own mission in the legendary B-17 Flying Fortress "Nine 0 Nine?" The Collings Foundation will be offering a very unique two-day program in which you do just that! No doubt, this is one of the most amazing living history programs you will ever experience!
They did it a few years back with their B-24.

Too rich for my blood. But it'd be fun, no doubt.

The Joy of Being at a Resort That Can Both Catch Fire and Sink!

Passengers stranded on a cruise ship adrift in the Gulf of Mexico say they must stand in long lines to use working bathrooms and to get hot meals.

The messages from passengers on the Carnival Triumph, drifting in the Gulf of Mexico after an engine fire Sunday, came from text messages sent to family and friends. No one was injured in the fire but it left the ship without propulsion.

Miami-based Carnival Cruise Line said some of the public and cabin toilets are not operating and only limited power is available to run elevators and heat food.
If you go to a resort hotel and they lose power or have a fire, you can take a cab to either another hotel or to the airport and fly home. Hard to do from a ship.

They can't just bring another ship alongside and transfer people. Transferring people from one ship to another at sea is so risky that even the Navy doesn't like to do it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pegging the Irony Meter

A 54-year-old man who spent his days touting the greasy pleasures of the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas has died of an apparent heart attack....

Time to Take High-Capacity Firearms Away From the Cops?

Even giving them back their old Model 10 .38 Special revolvers might be too much. Maybe issue them flintlocks?

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A November car chase ended in a "full blown-out" firefight, with glass and bullets flying, according to Cleveland police officers who described for investigators the chaotic scene at the end of the deadly 25-minute pursuit.

But when the smoky haze -- caused by rapid fire of nearly 140 bullets in less than 30 seconds -- dissipated, it soon became clear that more than a dozen officers had been firing at one another across a middle school parking lot in East Cleveland.
The two people in the car they were chasing, both of whom were unarmed, were both shot to death in the fusillade. No gun was found, but they police lab said their hands had gunshot residue on them, which seems a bit, well, suspicious.

The one cop who fired 49 shots into the car probably ought to be issued a spear and magic helmet, instead of a gun.


Old School Gunning

These photos are pages from Ed McGivern's Book of Fast and Fancy Revolver Shooting, a book that dates back almost eighty years. I am not trying to be snarky, it is just interesting to me to see how things have changed over time.

First, a cop wearing a Montana State Patrol issue holster, as designed by Mr. McGivern.

Note that it is a crossdraw holster. That design was apparently adopted because the troopers had to transport prisoners in the front passenger seats of their cars. A crossdraw holster kept the gun away from the prisoners. These days, the thinking would have been that in a face-to-face confrontation, a crossdraw holster presents a nearly irresistible opportunity for an adversary to try and grab a cop's gun.

Second, Chief McNight of the Lewiston PD draws a revolver from a shoulder holster:

Note that the Chief's index finger is on the trigger as he pulls the gun. If things were really tense, that'd be a good way for him to have fired a round into his arm, severing the brachial artery and bleeding out in very short order. There are two things that can be done to prevent that. First, of course, is following the Four Rules. The second is when one is drawing from a shoulder or crossdraw holster, to raise the other arm up, at least shoulder-level or above, until the handgun has cleared and is pointing downrange.

There were other things in the book. In one sequence, McGivern shoots at a cop who was standing behind a sheet of what was then known as "bulletproof glass". Then McGivern changed places with the cop and let the cop shoot at him. These days, few would want to stand behind a sheet of bullet-resistant glass that has already taken a hit or two.

Different times, different rules. While a few shooters have managed to beat one or two of Ed McGivern's records, nobody has ever come close to matching his skill with a handgun. Reading his book is kind of like a backyard softball player reading a book on how to hit a ball by Stan Musial-- interesting reading, but no way in hell are you ever going to do that shit.

(Now, if you want cop snark, go to this post and look at the two pictures.)

Goldman Sachs and the Rams

ST. LOUIS • The agency that owns the Edward Jones Dome is not letting the Rams go quietly.

The St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority has hired Goldman Sachs, the multi-national investment banking firm, to keep the Rams in the Dome, or, if that’s not possible, to maintain a National League Football team in St. Louis.
Two things are probably dead-nuts certain: First, the Firm of Vampire Squids will suck every dime they can out of that client. And second, once they've done that, the Rams will move to San Antonio and Goldman will find a way to make another mint off that deal.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Milk Jugs and Guns

This is a milk jug:

Doesn't look like a gun, does it? But that didn't stop some jittery cops in Pennsylvania from charging in. One of the cops shot another cop in the back. A third cop armed with a patrol rifle* then shot at the Milk Jug Dude, but fortunately for the guy with the milk jug, the cop missed.
* "Patrol rifle" when they have one. "Evil assault rifle" when you have one.

Pope Quits

Pope Benedict XVI is resigning, the first pope to step down in over half a millenium.

These days, when a very high-ranking official anywhere steps down for reasons of health (or to "spend more time with my family"), one has to wonder if that's just a cover for something else.

Assuming that the Pope's reasons are on the level, then it's a good thing. It can't help any organization when the boss becomes ill/incompetent and won't leave until they carry him (or her) out in a box, tradition be damned. If the Pope had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, he could have been occupying the job and being less effective than nothing.

If I had to make an uninformed guess, I'll bet that the Cardinals will do what they did the last time: Choose an elderly one of their own who won't have the energy to push through real changes or is guaranteed not to be in the job for very long.

Who Wants to Drive The Drones?

The Electronic Freedom Foundation has a list of who applied to the FAA last year for permission to fly drones.

Some are kind of surprising: Otter Tail County, MN and North Little Rock, AR. The usual group of suspects is there: FBI, Customs, and cops in Florida and Texas. Some county sheriff's department has washed their request through the DoJ for some reason.

If drones are to be flown within American airspace, the rule should be this: If a drone is involved in a collision with a manned aircraft and the aircraft's occupant(s) sustain fatal or severe injuries, then the drone driver gets summarily executed. Absent that, I remain opposed to the use of flying drones by anyone.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Shorter LAPD: "We're Sorry We Shot You, Here's a New Truck."

Magnanimous, eh?

Oh, the LAPD promises to investigate why their cops shot up the newspaper ladies' truck, including shooting a 71 year old woman twice in the back.

No prizes for guessing the outcome of that investigation.

Say one thing for the LAPD: They've managed to do a pretty good job of convincing the world that Dorner had a legitimate beef with the Department. (Which doesn't excuse killing the daughter of a retired cop and her fiancé, regardless of his complaint with the cop.)

UPDATE: This didn't take long for someone to do:

Kill the Toasters!

Blood & Chrome - the full thing is tonight on the SciFi channel.

Basically, Bill Adama in the First Cylon War.

If they can do this as a series without the religious nuttery that eventually enveloped Battlestar Galactica, then I'll watch it. The last decade's version of BSG explored a lot of very powerful themes. Final Five Cylon nonsense notwithstanding, I knew not a few mid-grade officers and chiefs who could have been models, at least in part, for Saul Tigh.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Caturday; Blizzard Edition

But not here.

Word I have from friends is that the smaller snowplows are getting stuck. The emergency services folks are putting out the word that in the event of an emergency, you're likely going to be on your own. Much of the snow that fell is the heavy "heart attack" snow. So if you live in the blizzard zone and you're reaching for a snow shovel, take it easy.

Friday, February 8, 2013

What Is the Lower Limit?

I read a flyer on inhalant abuse that was put out by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It contained this nugget of information:
Based on independent studies performed over a 10-year period in three different states, the number of inhalant-related fatalities in the United States is approximately 100–200 per year.
That's it? Cripes, that's down around the level of "people who were killed on the way to Starbucks when they were hit by a cement mixer whilst jaywalking." That's about the number of people who are killed nationwide by medical errors in half of a shift.

But hey, let's turn the power of the Federal purse on this.

Look, I'm not denying that people aren't damaging/killing themselves with inhalants. And maybe it doesn't hurt to get some word out to kids. But here is the thing: Much of the time, telling kids that "this is dangerous shit" has as much effect as the voice of one of the adults in a "Charlie Brown" TV cartoon. And a percentage of them are going to say, at least to themselves: "Dang, I never thought about trying that. Let's go huff some paint!"

What are they proposing? You can't ban the sale of gasoline or lighter fluid or spray paint or most anything that the huffers want to huff.* You can buy a can of most of those solvents at any good-sized hardware store or paint supply shop. Hell, you can buy a pack of magic-markers and sniff them, for that matter.

At what point do we say: "Damn, ol' Cletus really did some stupid shit, there" and stop with the "Cletus is dead, something must be done" noise? There are over 300 million people in this country and a number of them are going to be doing something downright foolish, if not fatally risky, at any one time.** I don't see how we can stop them all without requiring that we all live in locked wards. And then who keeps the keepers from doing something stupid?
* Or maybe we could ban the sale of gasoline. A side benefit would be that it would have cut down on the mobility of the DC snipers or the Shandy Hook Asswipe.
** About 21 people each year die from another form of getting high: Skydiving.

Wicked Stahm Comin'

Hope you folks in New England are ready!

Dammit, Tam!

Thanks to her, now I have drool all over my keyboard.

The .56-50 Spencer was the rifle that the Federals "loaded on Sunday and shot all week". I presume that the .56-50 that this replica is chambered for is a centerfire cartridge and not the rimfire original. Loaded ammo is about $3/round when you can even find it, so it'd be almost mandatory to be able to reload your own. Unless you really feel the need for a .56-50, you'd probably be better off buying one in .45 Colt, for that cartridge is far more available, cheaper, and likely cheaper even to reload.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Warning to All Drivers of Pickup Trucks (Not Painted White) In LA

You had best park your truck until the LAPD catches/kills Christopher Dorner.

For the LAPD is clearly operating by the rule of "shoot first and ask questions later".
Two women who were shot by Los Angeles police in Torrance early Thursday during a massive manhunt for an ex-LAPD officer were delivering newspapers, sources said.
The truck that the women were driving was neither the same make nor the same color as Dorner's truck, but that didn't stop the LAPD from lighting it up anyway. They also shot up another person's truck, but fortunately, they didn't hit the driver. But they did ram his truck, totaling it. The driver, a white guy who weighs a hundred pounds less that Dorner, was hurt in the crash and the cops opened fire when his airbag deployed.

Remember all of those stories six years ago about twitchy-trigger soldiers shooting up Iraqi families in their cars? Not so remote, now, is it?

Barry and the Drones

The Daily Show's take on it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Murder Most Foul; POTUS Edition

(The story so far)

If you have been reading the last few entries, then you know of the Obama Administration's Kill Memo. You know that the Administration has declared that it has the right to kill anyone, anytime, anywhere, who they claim is a "senior operational leader" of al Qaeda, or who is associated with them, whenever a "senior official" (apparently the President, but for all we know, it could be the senior custodian of the residence) deems that it is necessary to kill that person.

Which begs the question: Why did the President order the killing of a sixteen-year-old boy? What "imminent threat" did that child pose? How high up the al Qaeda chain-of-command was a sixteen year old kid?

How is this murder of a child not a modern version of a bill of attainder, something that is prohibited by Article I, Section 9, Clause 3 of the Constitution? Killing children because of the offenses of a parent was a hallmark of the Stalinist Terror. Is that how Obama wants history to remember him, as the man who ordered the murder of a child because the child's father was allegedly a terrorist?

It is getting to the point that the only difference, now, between President Obama and his predecessors, the main actors in the "Darth and Chimpy Show", is little more than the tone of their respective complexions. True, Cheney came into office as a fully-formed murderous thug whose sole operating principle was "might makes right". On the other hand, it took ol' Barry about two or so years to shed whatever degree of morality he had when he came into the job.

For as it seems, now, Barack Obama is just another murderous war criminal.* Maybe, some day, Lord willing, he'll get to sit at the defendant's table in the Hague, right next to George W. Bush and Richard Cheney.
* Though, to my knowledge, he would be the first war criminal with a Nobel Peace Prize.

The Constitutionality of the Obama Kill Memo

(In case you don't know about this yet.)

I believe that the Obama Kill Memo is arguably the most destructive if not openly tyrannical piece of legal writing to come out of our government since the commencement of the Great War on Terror. Given that encompasses the various iterations of the execrably-named "USA Patriot Act", all of the various Executive Orders creating the military commissions in Gitmo, the establishment of the American Gulag, "extraordinary renditions" (AKA torture by proxy) and the "intellectual" case for torture, that is saying something.

Our Constitution is a remarkable document that has, at its core, one root premise: Government is not to be trusted. The Founding Fathers were not stupid men. Many of them were among the best minds in the Colonies. They were well versed in thousands of years of Western history. There is one thing that they knew and understood: All governments, over time, tend to drift towards periods of oppression and tyrannical rule of the governed. Governments that do that lose the trust of the governed. When that happens, then the country/empire becomes susceptible to both revolt and outside invasion, for people who are alienated from their rules may well welcome an invader to try to set things right.

The Bill of Rights attempts, in part, to guard against this tendency of government. The Fourth Amendment was written to protect the people against arbitrary searches and seizures. The Fifth Amendment requires that there be due process before depriving a citizen of life, liberty or property and that in the event that property is taken by the government for its use, that just compensation be paid. The Sixth Amendment requires that the government prove its case in a court of law and that the accused have the right to an attorney and to compel testimony in his favor. The Eighth Amendment outlaws torture. The Fourteenth Amendment provides that the states are bound by the Bill of Rights, that the Federal government can't use the states as sock-puppets to do what the Feds can't.

Several means of enforcement were built in. Acts of Congress and the Executive are reviewable by the courts- Article III. Congress is chosen by the people- Article I and the 17th Amendment. The President is elected (by a complex method)- Article II, and the 12th Amendment. If the government steps out of line, the people have the right to speak out and to petition the government to mend its ways- the 1st Amendment. And if the government refuses to listen, the people have the means to compel them- the 2nd Amendment.

It has been well understood for thousands of years that there is no requirement for due process on a battlefield- a government doesn't have to have a warrant or offer a trial to the enemy. It has also been understood for almost as long that the killing of the defenseless is a heinous act. Killing people away from the field of combat has been considered to be against the laws of war for a very long time before there was a Geneva Convention.

Now, however, our government has declared that the battlefield in this war encompasses the entire globe. Because the enemy doesn't wear uniforms, the government considers that anybody may be the enemy. The government claims the unreviewable right to decide who is a combatant and who isn't. The government claims the right to imprison people, forever, without due process, because it says that they are the enemy. The government now claims the right to kill anybody, anywhere, at any time, if some nameless functionary deems them to be an "imminent threat". That decision is not reviewable.

We have progressed from the Star Chamber trials first proposed by the administration of President Bush to summary executions being carried out by the administration of President Obama. All along, both administrations have been saying "trust us, we know what we are doing." That is both antithetical to the Constitution's spirit and, frankly, it flies in the face of known facts. You do not have to do much research to find that there was no shortage of men who were taken into custody for life as "known terrorists", "the worst of the worst". That is what they told us. Only when the government was forced, finally, to prove its case, it came to light that a lot of those so-called terrorists were nothing of the sort.  Just because they were accused of being terrorists didn't mean that they were terrorists.  If government accusations were proof of guilt, we wouldn't have a Sixth Amendment to require that the government prove its case in open court.

But at least some of those guys had some due process, however many years it took to force the government to provide it. There has been no review of the men, women, and yes, children who have been killed by our government on the so-called findings of some anonymous official. When they even speak of it, the same rationales that the Bush Administration used to justify locking up innocent men are trotted out to justify the killing of people halfway around the globe: "Known terrorist." "The worst of the worst." The people doing the killing, now, ask us to trust them in the same way that the people doing the imprisoning and torturing asked us to trust them. Our trust was misplaced, then. In all likelihood, it is now.

I call it for what it is: Government-sanctioned murder. It is not only murder, it is murder by remote control. How big of a step is it to go from "this man is al Qaeda" to "this man is associated with al Qaeda" to "this man sympathises with al Qaeda"? Remember this: You will not have to work hard to find people who called those who opposed the Patriot Act as "terrorist symps". Which means that we are approaching the point, however slowly, when the government will claim the right to kill those who disagree with it.

While I have, in this post and in the previous one, blasted President Obama for this, I have no illusions that things would be any different under a President McCain, Romney, or, for that matter, Hillary Clinton.

The government is asking us to trust them. We should keep in mind the principles of our Constitution and reply: "Hell, no."

To do otherwise is to continue down the road to the point that the Constitution becomes as meaningless a document as is the Chinese Constitution.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

From the Bush Torture Memos to the Obama Kill Memo

President Bush's administration claimed the right to imprison, without charges or trial, anyone that a nameless functionary in the government said was worth locking up. All it took, in that regime, was a simple affidavit from an anonymous bureaucrat and you could be tossed into the American Gulag forever. Under his original order for military commissions, the death penalty could have been handed down by a minority of the so-called jury and the only officials who got to review the results of the commission were SecDef and the Preznit.

This current president doesn't have the excuse that he was a dumb-ass student who got through school on family connections and who was lead around the West Wing by his vice-president. He taught constitutional law. So the fact that he has arrogated to himself the right to order summary executions of Americans is rather incredible.

This is how it works: A nameless drone, supposedly a "high-ranking informed official", says: "That guy is a bad guy. Kill him." Then targeting information is given to another nameless drone, sitting in an air-conditioned trailer in Nevada, who then uses an armed drone to kill the guy. There is no review of the decision. All the "high-ranking" drone has to say is that the guy to be whacked is associated, somehow, however tenuously, with al-Qaeda and that is enough.

The Administration's Kill Memo is, of course, chock full of legal rationalizations worthy of a piece authored by John Yoo. We don't know, of course, what graduate of a bottom-tier law school produced this crap memo. Undoubtedly, they want to keep the authorship quiet since both Yoo and the rest of the Bush Six really can't travel abroad without the risk of being arrested for facilitating the commission of war crimes by writing the Torture Memos.

The Kill Memo is even more vile than the Torture Memos. Eric Holder would be similarly advised to forget about foreign travel once he steps down from being Attorney General.

Red Shirt Survival

(From here)

Right-Wing Jibber-Jabber on Education

Michelle Rhee was on the Daily Show, flogging her line[1], and I'm paraphrasing here: "We can have great schools if we only can get those lazy dead-ass teachers to do their jobs".

You can see this here at part 1, part 2 and part 3. Oh, she gives lip service to the need for other social services, but let's face the truth of the matter: A child who is ill-housed, ill-clothed and ill-fed[2] is not going to be very receptive to even the greatest teachers. Jon Stewart kept trying to get her to address the point that the charter school movement is skimming off the cream and leaving the regular public schools as a dumping ground for the kids that are hard to teach, but she just danced and danced around the question.

It was insane. Rhee says she wants to free teachers to do their jobs, but she thinks that there has to be "metrics", which is code for "teach to the test." Which, as Stewart kept trying to point out, means that the kids are being taught to pass a test. For someone who says that she respects teachers, Rhee seems to spend a shitload of time bashing them.

Rhee is suffering from an advanced case of Hammer Syndrome.[3] If she is going to help fix the educational problem, she has to do more than give lip service to the problems that affect children's inabilities to do well in school. As Stewart tried to point out to her, you can have great seeds, but if you cast them onto barren soil, good luck trying to get the plants to grow.
[1] And her book.
[2] A child whose only decent meals are provided by the school system is going to be hard to educate.
[3] "When the only tool you have is a hammer, all of your problems tend to look like nails."

Monday, February 4, 2013

My Ears Are Burning

It’s tempting to get overly curmudgeonly about these things and shun all modern enhancements and go back to shooting a K-Frame, 870 and a Garand (although you’re certainly not totally unarmed if you choose to do so), but the new hotness will make your life easier if you fit your gear to your requirements and not the other way around.

OK, the shotgun is a Mossberg 500, not a Remington 780. Though, true, one of the Model-10s does have a bit of the "new hotness" in that it has a CT-lasergrip.

Your Monday Morning Back to Work Time-Waster

First-person Tetris.

Those who are really susceptible to motion sickness may want to not give it a go. On the other hand, barfing in your cube' might be a good way to get the rest of the day off.....

Concur Ref. A.

Nobody gave a shit about that sport before Lance the Liar grabbed the spotlight and nobody really has since.

By the way, do we have any proof that he really did have testicular cancer, or was it all just his word on that? Which as we now know, is worth about as much as a ten-lira coin.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

F-86 takeoff:

The early jets were ground-loving sons-of-bitches. I got to talk to a man who was an AF F-86 pilot, he told me that getting a fully-loaded one off the runway, especially in Florida, was a combination of skill and luck.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Skeetin' Barry

WASHINGTON -- Seeking to put to rest questions on whether Barack Obama was a straight shooter when he claimed he went skeet shooting "all the time," the White House on Saturday offered proof: a photo of the president blasting away at clay targets.

Color me "skeptical". If the President did a lot of skeet shooting, then why did it take the White House four years to release a photo? You don't have to look very hard to find photos of him playing basketball. But he's been shooting a lot of skeet and only one measly photo makes it out?

Yeah. Kind of like Romney, Palin and Kerry hunting. (Except that there aren't any photos of Romney hunting.)

It would seem to me that if the President was a regular on the skeet range, photos would have come out and at a time when it would not have been obviously political, like in `09 or `11. The political side of the White House would have been eager to do that, one might think: "See, here's the Prez doing some shooting. He doesn't hate guns!"

But they sat on it until now?

I voted for the guy and I'm not buying it.

UPDATE: Here is something to try: Click on the picture and enlarge it. Then take a straight-edge (like a sheet of paper) and lay it along the top rib of the shotgun. Note where that line intersects the President's head.

It would seem that there isn't a way that he could reliably hit a Honda Civic, let alone a clay pigeon. Yeah, he's pulling a Full Romney on this one.

UPDATE II: Lots of photoshopping going on!


Shorter Archbishop Mueller: "Criticizing the Catholic Church is the Same as Murdering Jews."

You think that is an exaggeration and a violation of Godwins Law? Au contraire, Pierre:
BERLIN (AP) -- The Vatican's head of doctrine says critics in North America and Europe are conducting a "concerted campaign" to discredit the Catholic Church that is resulting in open attacks against priests.

In an interview published Saturday by Germany newspaper Die Welt, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller likened the sentiment directed toward the Church to that of the pogroms against Jews in Europe.
If there is any group in the world that should be forever barred from comparing their trials and tribulations to the Jews, the Roman Catholic Church is pretty damn high on the list. And this was not just some a high-level church official, mind you. This clown is a German archbishop who holds the very same office that ramrodded the persecution of Jews (and a shitload of other people) during the Inquisition.

My reaction to that should be obvious to regular readers.

The Catholic Church has been a global conniver in child abuse and conditions of exploitation that reached the level of torture. Since the global scandals broke, the Church has been furiously engaged in a rear-guard action to ensure that the details of what their priests did was kept quiet. For decade after decade, the concern of the Church was not that children were being raped, no, they wanted to keep it all quiet.

Calling them out on that is akin to a pogrom? Really?

In case you don't know this: An old-style European pogrom was when the locals got liquored up, often around Easter, and then went looking for Jewish men to kill and Jewish women to rape. Jewish-owned businesses tended to go up in flames, as did synagogues and the houses and barns owned by Jews.

Gentle Reader, what we have here is the equivalent of the Klan's Grand Kleagle complaining that life hasn't been much fun since the law cracked down on their night-time frivolities of cross-burning and lynching. This pronouncement of Archbishop Mueller deserves to be mocked far and wide.


Jake asks: "Why is my staff disturbing my rest?"

Friday, February 1, 2013


I visited a Cabela's today. I had last visited it in mid-November. Back then, they had overflowing displays of ammunition. Today, not so much. About all they had a lot of was 7.62x39mm.

In the reloading section, they had no pistol primers whatsoever. Most of the more common sizes of bullets were not to be had.

Nowhere, in any of the bills that I am aware of (outside of moronic states such as NY and NJ), is anyone proposing limiting ammunition sales. Nobody anywhere that I know of is proposing limiting sales of reloading supplies. But that doesn't stop every panicky Cletus from buying up a shitload of ammunition as soon as the truck from the warehouse is unloaded.

Last Saturday, I went to the range to do a little shooting. It was a fine day, sunny, no serious wind, not very cold. It was the sort of day that normally would have had shooters out in droves to get in a little winter trigger-time. Not this time around. I was the only one on the pistol range. There was one shooter on the rifle range.

Don't quite know what the various Cletii are going to do with all of the cartridges that they are hoarding. But once this is over, maybe the prices will come down.

Cabela's also had a number of AR-15 magazines. They felt as though they were made from recycled single-use food containers. They were $29.95 and they looked as though that was twenty times what it cost to make them. They were so sucky that it was no wonder that even the local Cletii weren't foolish enough to buy them.