Monday, April 30, 2007

 

More on the Dreaded Spring Taliban Offensive

It's not really happening, this Spring, or at least it's not going really well. Here are two stories: U.S.: Afghan offensive ineffective and US aircrews show Taliban no mercy

Here are my favorite parts from the first story:

Last year, better weather saw a surge in violence around the country. But [Col] Schweitzer downplayed attacks as "modest" compared to the level of violence since the beginning of the year.

Schweitzer described suicide attacks in the south of the country as desperation tactics by Taliban fighters and other insurgents.

"We have an increase of some (small) attacks, but I would not call it a spring offensive," Schweitzer said.

And from the second story:
The soldiers said they had information that the Taliban were escaping across the river. "Look out for any boats," they said. He spotted a small aluminium fishing boat pushing out from the eastern shore of the 200-yard-wide river. In it were six or seven people. When they caught sight of the Apaches, they started to paddle back towards shore.

The aircrew hesitated. "It seemed a little premature," said Lt Denton. "We didn't have hostile intent or a positive ID from the ground commander." But the special forces soldiers were adamant that, although they could not themselves see the men on the boat, they must be the Taliban who had attacked them. That, said Lt Denton, was good enough for the Apache crews.

By then, most of the men were ashore, walking quickly towards the tree line. They appeared to be pulling clothing over their heads - burqas, Capt Staley thought, and Lt Denton concurred. As the helicopters came in to attack, Lt Denton said, one of the men turned to face him and dropped to his knees. "I think he knew that there was no hope," he said. "He was making his peace."

Capt Staley's helicopter hit them with its rockets while Lt Denton, the gunner in the other helicopter, opened up with his 30mm cannon. Three or four of the Taliban died where they stood and the rest made a dash for the trees. "They were trying to get to their bunkers," Capt Staley said. "We started a diving run and destroyed four of the six people we could see, including the Taliban commander."

From 500ft up, Lt Denton said: "You can see the person but you can't see the features of his face. The 30mm explode when they hit and kick up smoke and dust. You just see a big dust cloud where the person used to be."

[...]

Dropping to 200 ft., it swooped close to the motorcyclists - and the two men could not believe their luck: some of the passengers were holding the parts of a long-barrelled heavy machine-gun. [Probably a DShK in 12.7 mm or perhaps a KPV in 14.5 mm].

Six of the bikes slewed to a stop, their passengers leaping off and aiming their weapons at the helicopter in what appeared to be a well-practised drill, while the others took off across country. The Apache banked away to begin its attack run.


"Some of them were trying to get the heavy machine-gun up a small hill to engage us," Lt Denton said. "Capt Staley used the 30mm gun to take out the two guys who had taken off, and then we fixed on the ones with the heavy machine-gun. They were huddled around a large boulder and we shot them. We put as many rounds around it as we could, because if they got to it they could cause us trouble. But they never had a chance to set it up."

Using its cannon and then its rockets, the Apache finished off all the Taliban fighters it could find, then launched nail-filled rockets and dropped white phosphorous to destroy the motorcycles and the machine guns. After the shooting stopped, 12 Taliban were confirmed dead.

Not surprisingly, the Apache assaults have forced the Taliban to adopt a lower profile.

Come out, come out, Taliban, wherever you are. You're doing well.

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Rare Sports Post

Watched the Rockies eke out a win against the Braves in 11 innings yesterday. It was a very enjoyable game. I would say that the unassisted triple play by Tulowitzki was a highlight, (14th ever in baseball history) but I could have made that play--soft liner with three steps to second and the runner from first two more steps away. His throw the next inning was much more exciting. And who doesn't like a walk off homer in extra innings, especially if it's your team's hitter?

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This Day in the History of Evil

On this day in 1961, Fidel Castro received the Lenin-Peace Prize. And it was richly deserved for the thousands of Cubans he and Che caused to rest in peace.

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Thought of the Day

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.

Jim Ryun

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

 

Impeach the President

We need to impeach the president of the Colorado Bar Association, Elizabeth Starrs, for her legal idiocy in today's combined Sunday paper. She wants us to extend the habeas corpus writ to the Islamic illegal combatants captured and held outside the United States. I disagree with Ms. Starrs politically, but that's not what's causing me to write this. You would expect the leader of the bar association to be able to read a statute or a case and understand the central issue. Ms. Starrs, unfortunately, displays a rather stunning inability to do this basic lawyer task.

She writes: In 2004, in Rasul v. Bush the Supreme Court held that our Constitution applies to the detainees in Guantanamo Bay. The case did no such thing. It recognized that there was a statutory grant of jurisdiction contained specifically in 28 U.S.C. Section 2241. In a contemporaneous decision, Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, the Supreme Court implicitly held that habeas corpus was not a constitutional right for everyone detained by Americans, and that even an American detainee's due process rights to contest the detention were merely to have the question decided before a neutral tribunal (not a federal court).

That's not the end of President Starr's inability to know what she's talking about. She writes that after the Rasul decision: ...Congress tried to circumvent that decision by passing the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Circumvent? The Supreme Court in Rasul held that there was a statutory jurisdiction which allowed the writ so the people's elected representatives, in the House and Senate, voted to take that grant of jurisdiction away. That's how things work under the Constitution. It is only because she is clueless about the very core of the Hamdi and Rasul decisions is she talking about "circumvention." One man's circumvention is another man's representative government at work.

She's not finished: There is no meaningful process to challenge that designation [of "unlawful enemy combatant"]. Yeah, I guess there isn't, if you ignore the process of Combatant Status Review Tribunals and the protections of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, a law Ms. Starrs cited, but apparently hasn't taken the time to read.

She also complains that the prisoners can't obtain a "statement of the charges" against them. What? These are guys we or our allies captured waging war against us; we're not 'charging' them; we're not even punishing them for taking up arms against us; we are merely holding them, as we do with real POWs, so that they don't return to the battlefield (as several released from Gitmo have done) and continue trying to kill us or our allies. Charges? We don't need no stinkin' charges. This woman's a maroon.

She points out that there is current legislation trying to restore habeas corpus rights to the illegal combatants. Yeah, good luck with that. The Democrats have a slim majority now but not near enough to override a veto. She writes: The Colorado Bar Association supports these efforts. No we don't; I'm a member and I don't. She does. She continues: This is not a partisan issue. Of course it is. The bleeding heart core of the left doesn't believe war is being waged against us and wants to treat it as if al Qaeda were merely an international crime syndicate. We right thinking types know war when we see it and we were looking at it during 9/11 et seq.

Wait, there's more; she types: It is true that some personal liberties have been limited in the last five years in the name of national security. Oh yeah? Name one that doesn't involve boarding an airplane.

The U.S. Constitution was established to protect individuals' rights. Yeah, Americans' individual rights or those of people in America. It is not a world government charter. She continues: Those rights mean little if they can be cast aside when the going gets tough. Perhaps Ms. Starr would do well actually to read our Constitution. I would direct her attention to Article I, Section 9 which states: The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it. Isn't that casting aside an individual right, the very right she's writing about so poorly, when the going gets tough? And notice it's the 'privilege' to the Writ not the 'right' in the Constitution.

Ms. Starrs writes, just before her big fuzzy thinking finish, that: We are not naive. (Au contraire, I can name one person who is). There are bad guys at Gitmo, but, we also know that some of those being held may not be "enemy combatants." (Emphasis added). What? You know there may? I know that Ms. Starrs may like to set puppies on fire in her spare time, although the probability of that is extremely low. She looks like a very pleasant person in her photo. I'm just pointing out the meaningless of combining the certainty of the word 'know' with the tenuousness of 'may;' the end result is that a sentence employing both words is pure speculation.

OK , this is getting a little long. She writes: Our military personnel on battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan...have a right to expect that we will follow the applicable law when we are dealing with these prisoners.

Are we not following the applicable law of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which was held constitutional by the DC Circuit court and the Supreme Court denied cert? Does she mean that applicable law?

I am embarrassed to be represented by a lawyer with this poor of analysis skills. Impeachment. Now. (Just kidding--poor analysis skills is not a high crime or misdemeanor).

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This Day in American History

On this day in 1862, New Orleans fell to Union forces during the Civil War. I'm fairly ignorant about the war in the West but I've always thought the Confederate forces did a really poor job here. There was little chance the Confederates could have won a protracted armed conflict with the Northern states, but there was almost no chance after the fall of New Orleans. The only chance would have been had the Democrats won the election of 1864 and brought the troops home from the South as they promised in the campaign. Plus ca change...

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Thought of the Day

There is no mystery attached to the fact that, in this new era in human history, when for the first time large numbers of people can live unconstrained lives involving high levels of choice, there is a concurrent explosion in depression rates. The burden of responsibility for making innumerable choices can result in a person's becoming psychologically tyrannized by them.

Gregg D. Jacobs

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

 

Clip Versus Magazine; Tempest in Teapot

One of my European readers has been ragging on my belief in the interchangeable use of the words 'clip' and 'magazine' to denote the means for rapidly loading cartridges into modern rifles and pistols. Here's a little illustrated gun history to show why there is really only one essential difference between the two terms. I'll leave it to the smug to say if it is an essential difference. I don't find it to be so.

Here is one thing I think we can all agree on. A magazine is the place in the gun where the cartridges are before they are loaded singly into the chamber for actually firing the gun. If you keep that in mind, it all begins to make sense.

In 1896, the Mauser gun company began manufacturing the first successful and widely used self loading handgun, often called the Broom-handle Mauser, a beautiful gun, carrying in its magazine 10 powerful pistol cartridges--it is pictured below. It remains a bitch to load.

You have to use a stripper clip, a folded over piece of metal with a separate piece of metal inside to act as a spring to hold the rounds in the clip by spring tension.

This is the same method for loading the then state of the art military rifles like, say, the Mauser 1895 edition, which I don't own, so I'll substitute our stolen copy of that, the Springfield 1903 pictured below with the stripper clip inserted above the rifle's 5 round magazine. You have to push the rounds into the magazine off the stripper clip and it's a little clumsy and slow. A detail of the Mauser stripper clip showing the internal simple spring is shown below left. You can see the bent metal of the frame and the bent metal interior spring. Just so you know.

Because of the slowness of reloading with a stripper clip, at least in pistols shortly after the C-96 "Broom-handle" Mauser pistol became popular, a better sort of clip was introduced to put the cartridges into the pistols' magazine. The best of the new lot was the P08 Luger shown below, another beautiful weapon.

Here's some detail of the device which introduced and fed the rounds in the magazine of the Luger. As you can see, it is metal, it encloses the rounds rather than merely holds on to their ends, and it has a spring inside it to push the rounds up towards the bolt and chamber of the pistol. This is a single stack magazine so the metal end of the internal spring is fairly plain, though slightly sloped to tilt the round up for easy introduction into the chamber.

Now let's look at some details of the magazine of the C-96 in which the ten rounds are double stacked so that there are two rows of rounds to be fed into the chamber by the bolt traveling back and forth, one at a time.

On the left, the internals of the magazine are displayed disassembled and, on the right, the top view of the reassembled internals of the magazine are evident. What I want you to focus on is the large piece of metal on the top of the accordion bent leaf spring. That is the thing which feeds the double stack of rounds singly into the chamber due to the complex slope of the metal and is visible inside the magazine in the top view to the right.

With reference to the next two photographs, it is clear how the spring and metal top inside the magazine of the C-96 was combined with an expanded stripper clip, a box clip, to create an external magazine, that is, a magazine that could be removed from the gun. So those who insist on calling the box clip a magazine are or course right to do so. It is a magazine and, once inside the gun's internal magazine, it is congruent with that magazine--so congruent as to be one with it and deserving the name magazine, even if it is removed from the gun's internal magazine.

This use of the folded spring and molded, sloping top is easy to see in a modern double stack magazine, or box clip as some still call it. Focus on the black plastic thing on the left. That's the essential difference between a clip and a magazine in that it is unique to clips that can be called magazines..
The plastic top shown in detail on the right has the same complex slope of the big metal piece at the top of the magazine inside the C-96 Mauser so that only one cartridge is tilted up and ready to be fed into the chamber. Sorry it's so hard to see.

During WWII most of our boys used the standard issue M1 Garand, which was a better weapon than the Germans bolt action standard issue K-98 (and much better than the antiquated and underpowered bolt action Japanese rifles). It was semi-automatic and had an 8 round interior magazine which was clip fed. Below are the gun and several clips, some empty, one ready to be inserted into the magazine.
As you can see, there is no sloped top or any internal spring in these clips. They are a single piece of bent metal which hold the rounds in place through spring tension but which do not push the rounds up to the top for insertion into the chamber. These are just clips. The mechanism which feeds the rounds up is visible inside the magazine of the rifle.

So, in review, some of the 20th Century guns use clips with a spring but no top, some with no springs at all. These are just clips and should never be called a magazine. But what about the box clip that has both spring and slopping top? Are they not merely an evolution of the clip? Are they not just a specialized clip? Could they not properly be called a clip? Of course they can. But this sort of box clip, which reproduces the internal magazine of the C-96 so completely, can also be called a magazine, as explained above. Yet only a prig would say it can only be called a magazine. Here below is the evolution of some clips (although not in historical order) left to right. The two on the right can properly be called magazines as well.
Hope this was helpful.

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Dreaded Taliban Spring Offensive

In Khost province, Eastern Afghanistan, right on the border with the worst part of Pakistan, an attack on a governmental headquarters ended with a NATO helicopter strike which completed the counter-attack and killed either 11 or 13 Taliban. There were no deaths on the side of the good guys nor any civilian casualties. At least three Afghani policemen were wounded.

In other words, it was a typical, pointless and costly Taliban attack. Keep coming, guys. You're doing good.

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This Day in the History of Evil

On this day in 1945, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, 'Il Duce,' and his mistress, Clara Petacci, were executed by Italian partisans as they attempted to flee the country. Sic semper tyrannis. The 7th Regiment of Fallshrimjaeger under SS Captain Otto Skorzeny had effected a spectacular rescue of Mussolini from his vengeful countrymen on a mountaintop once before, but there was no miracle the second time. Go here to see the photos of the bodies hanging the next day, if you want.

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Thought of the Day

When they discover the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to discover they are not it.

Bernard Bailey

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Friday, April 27, 2007

 

NC AGs Promised Report on Duke Non Rape Case

It's 21 pages long, completely exonerates the Duke three Lacrosse players and pulls no punches with the false accuser, what's-her-name, uh, Precious.

My favorite paragraph:

In a meeting with the special prosecutors on April 4, 2007 the accusing witness demonstrated unsteady gait, slurred speech and other mannerisms that were consistent with behaviors observed by numerous witnesses who were at the party the night in question and confirmed through a video taken that night. The special prosecutors confirmed that the accusing witness had taken Ambien, methadone, Paxil and amitriptyline, for which she had prescriptions, prior to meeting with the special prosecutors that day.

Wow! That's quite a list of medication. (Ambien is an effective sleep aid, methadone is synthetic heroin and Paxil and amitryptyline are anti-depressants--the latter is so powerful that taking another anti-depressant with it, has no increased therapeutic effect). I think it's safe to say Precious didn't make the very best impression on the attorneys who had to take over the case after Nifong completely failed to do his job either well or ethically.

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This Day in American History

On this day in 1983, President Reagan appeared before Congress to urge members to embrace his arms and economic program for Central America, saying the United States had a duty to save the region from the Leftist revolution. I see this as merely applying the Monroe Doctrine to 20th Century reality, since Marxist, slow national suicide is a European export.

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Thought of the Day

Football isn't a contact sport, it's a collision sport. Dancing is a contact sport.

Duffy Daugherty

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

 

Traitors to the Party

Math was never my highest skill, but fortunately there are calculators out there which are cheap. So I can divide 435, the number of members of the House of Representative, by two and declare, without fear of contradiction, that the bare minimum majority in the House is 218, which by coincidence, is just the number of votes with which the Surrender* bill passed in the House. Two of those voting 'yes' were Republicans: Walter Jones of the 3rd District in North Carolina and Wayne Gilchrest of the Ist District in Maryland (the eastern shore).

Likewise, there are only 49 Democrats in the Senate, with two independents who vote and caucus with them, socialist Bernie Sanders (NH) and Joe Lieberman (CN). That's a total of 51, but with Senator Johnson (D-ND) down with a stroke for the immediate future and Lieberman pledged to vote against the spending bill (with pork and withdrawal mandates), some Republicans had to cross the aisle to give it the bare minimum it passed by just a few hours ago. It took me a long time to find out who, but they are not surprises, Chuck Hagel, (NE) and Gordon Smith (OR).

Hagel, Smith, Jones and Gilchrest all should face strong challenges in the primaries in their next re-election tries, if any. You can't be this wrong on the single most important issue of our day and stay in our big tent.

*Iraq Spending Bill

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New York Times on Gun Violence

The NYT editorial yesterday started off so promisingly.

By now, the logic is almost automatic. A shooter takes innocent lives, and someone says that if the victims had been armed, this wouldn't have happened. The only solution to a gun in the wrong hands, it seems, is a gun in the hands of everyone.

Yeah, I thought, an armed society is a polite society. Good guys outnumber bad guys. They called it logic. This was good.

But the editors were being sarcastic, it seems.

Seung-Hui Cho bought his guns illegally, though with the appearance of legality. He slipped through a loophole, through a disconnect between the way Virginia defines a disqualifying mental incapacity and the way the federal government does.

No, the privacy concerns regarding all health including mental health kept the fact of the miserable murder's adjudication and brief committal to what used to be called a state hospital for the insane, kept that information off the background check databases. No rational friend of the Second Amendment wants floridly psychotic people to obtain guns legally, despite what the NYT alleges.

Those gun advocates who believe that the Second Amendment confers the right to carry a gun in public are quick to point out that they are law-abiding, decent citizens trying to protect themselves and their families in a world gone mad. But, of course, the guns can’t tell the difference. Arming more people would be a recipe for disaster.

Guns can't tell the difference? The editors are clearly delusional. The guns are hunks of metal, they are not cognizant. Can't tell the difference between what? And the money quote. Arming more people would be a recipe for disaster. This has been said by the NYT editors about every state creating a shall issue a carry permit to every law abiding citizen who wants one law. It will be like Dodge City; it will be anarchy! Well, 39 states have such a scheme and anarchy has yet to arrive. Indeed, gun violence has declined, particularly in states with such laws. An armed society is a polite, and law abiding, society.

True safety lies in the civility of society, in laws that publicly protect all of our rights and in having law-enforcement officers who are trained in the use of deadly force, then authorized to apply it in rationally defined situations. I'm OK with the first clause and with the second as well, but relying on the police to protect you is the real recipe for disaster. They are not there in time to protect you except in extraordinary circumstances.

I am obliged to every person I meet that he or she does not murder me, to update Mr. Burke; but if I don't want to be a complete pawn of fate, I might exercise my Second Amendment right, just in case I cross paths with a disturbed person intent on committing suicide with company.

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OK, But How Did She Get Your Gun?

I was never a fan of the "wall of sound" by overhyped and long time has been record producer Phil Spector, but I had heard here and there through the decades that he had a temper and a habit of drawing guns on people who angered him. So when a B-movie queen, Lana Clarkson, was found shot to death in his house, I assumed he was toast.

One should never underestimate the power of willing suspension of disbelief in a California jury. Here's his defense:

“A self-inflicted gunshot can be an accidental suicide, and I submit the evidence will show you that is the case,” Mr. Cutler said. “The important thing is at the time of the discharge of the gun, at the time the gun was fired, Philip was not holding that gun. We’ll prove that to you. She was.”

Accidental suicide. You don't hear about that every day. Can't wait for the evidence.

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This Day in American History

On this day in 1983, a national commission released a scathing report on the state of American education, calling for sweeping measures to combat what it called a "rising tide of mediocrity" in schools. That period is now referred to as the "good old days" when standards of public education were rigorous.

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Thought of the Day

As memory may be a paradise from which we cannot be driven, it may also be a hell from which we cannot escape.

John Lancaster Spalding

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

 

Bill Moyer's Journal

I just finished watching Bill Moyer's one-sided piece on reporting about what was consensus in 2002 and early 2003, and I just have one question.

Is there an 'r' between the 'a' and the 's' in Washington that only he can see?

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Shakespeare at Yale

If Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg stays consistent with her ban on realistic weapons in stage productions at the Oxford of America (Yale University), only allowing unrealistic looking ones (like primary color plastic swords, for example), then she would also have to edit out the references to weapons in some of the plays and replace them with non-threatening objects instead. Here's a head start.

Is that a fluffy puppy which I see before me, the handle toward my hand? (Macbeth, II, i);

Give me my long comfort food, ho! (Romeo and Juliet, I, i) (See the pedigree of that word, Imus should have said he was quoting Shakespeare).

Hath no man's pink bunny slipper here a point for me? (Much Ado About Nothing, IV, i);

What's his weapon? Hummingbird and rainbow. That's two of his weapons: but, well. (Hamlet, V, ii).

The peace of heaven is theirs that lift their plush toys In such a just and charitable war. (King John, II, i).

UPDATE: The ban is lifted, but contemporaneous warning that a fake weapon is about to appear on stage will apparently be given. Is there anyone so wimpy as to need to be warned about a fake weapon in a play? Really? Well, I guess maybe at Yale.

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Giuliani in New Hampshire

Rudy Giuliani, speaking before Republicans in New Hampshire, spoke some truth about the war currently being waged against us by Islamic extremists. I saw this on C-SPAN. He was good. Money quote about what will happen if a Democrat is elected President:

We will wave the white flag on Iraq. We will cut back on the Patriot Act, electronic surveillance, interrogation and we will be back to our pre-Sept. 11 attitude of defense.

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal has a good thought or two about the Democrats' recent decisions in this area. Money quote:

By contrast, Mr. Reid's strategy of withdrawal will only serve to enlarge the security vacuum in which Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents have thrived. That's also true of what an American withdrawal will mean for the broader Middle East. Mr. Reid says that by withdrawing from Iraq we will be better able to take on al Qaeda and a nuclear Iran. But the reality (to use Mr. Reid's new favorite word) is that we are fighting al Qaeda in Iraq, and if we lose there we will only make it harder to prevail in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Countries do not usually win wars by losing their biggest battles.

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An Unwillingness to Know

It is disturbing, just for the deleterious effect on our troop morale (not to mention the comfort it gives our enemies), that Senator Harry Reid (D-UT) has declared the Iraq front lost. But this is maddening. He all but calls General Petraeus a liar. He has closed his mind to first person reports of what is actually happening in Iraq. Worse, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) doesn't have the time to meet with Petraeus. She can meet with Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. She has time for that.

It is getting easier for us right thinking types to ignore the opinions of these Democrat leaders on the war being waged against us as baseless because the leaders are willingly uninformed. I wonder if this refusal to learn is having any effect on the the followers of these perspicacious leaders? Or are they willfully uninformed as well?

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This Day in the History of Soviet-American Relationships

On this day in 1945, U.S. and Soviet forces linked up on the Elbe River, a meeting which dramatized the collapse of Nazi Germany's defenses. It was probably the high water mark for Soviet-American relationships which nearly immediately devolved into the Cold War which thankfully ended in the Soviet's defeat 17 years ago.

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Thought of the Day

When someone says that the free market isn't working, what he means is that he doesn't like the way the free market is working.

Nicholas Martin

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

 

Vice President Cheney Rebuts Senator Reid

This is why most right thinking Americans really like Dick Cheney. He makes sense in an understated but rigorously logical way. That's reasonably rare for a politician. Here's the text of his comments about the white flag of surrender the Democrats are wrapping themselves in.

I usually avoid press comment when I’m up here, but I felt so strongly about what Senator Reid said in the last couple of days, that I thought it was appropriate that I come out today and make a statement that I think needs to be made.

I thought his speech yesterday was unfortunate, that his comments were uninformed and misleading. Senator Reid has taken many positions on Iraq. He has threatened that if the President vetoes the current pending supplemental legislation, that he will send up Senator Russ Feingold's bill to de-fund Iraq operations altogether.

Yet only last November, Senator Reid said there would be no cutoff of funds for the military in Iraq. So in less than six months' time, Senator Reid has gone from pledging full funding for the military, then full funding but with conditions, and then a cutoff of funding — three positions in five months on the most important foreign policy question facing the nation and our troops.

Yesterday, Senator Reid said the troop surge was against the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. That is plainly false. The Iraq Study Group report was explicitly favorable toward a troop surge to secure Baghdad. Senator Reid said there should be a regional conference on Iraq. Apparently, he doesn't know that there is going to be one next week. Senator Reid said he doesn't have real substantive meetings with the President. Yet immediately following last week's meeting at the White House, he said, "It was a good exchange; everyone voiced their considered opinion about the war in Iraq."

What's most troubling about Senator Reid's comments yesterday is his defeatism. Indeed, last week, he said the war is already lost. And the timetable legislation that he is now pursuing would guarantee defeat.

Maybe it's a political calculation. Some Democratic leaders seem to believe that blind opposition to the new strategy in Iraq is good politics. Senator Reid himself has said that the war in Iraq will bring his party more seats in the next election. It is cynical to declare that the war is lost because you believe it gives you political advantage. Leaders should make decisions based on the security interests of our country, not on the interests of their political party.

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This Day in the Short History of American Disasters

On this day in 1980, the United States launched an abortive attempt to free the American hostages in Iran, a failed mission which resulted in the death to eight U.S. servicemen. They never got close to the hostages. I have to think this was the nadir of the American military malaise after WWII. It pretty much sealed President Carter's fate in the election in November. So there was a silver lining.

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Thought of the Day

The will is never free--it is always attached to an object, a purpose. It is simply the engine in the car--it can't steer.

Joyce Cary

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Monday, April 23, 2007

 

So Much For Legislative Expertise

Remember Tipper Gore testifying about dirty rock and pop lyrics before a House sub-committee about 15 years ago? I think Frank Zappa and John Denver testified as well. Tipper's efforts helped, in an unknown way, to bring about the voluntary and pretty much useless warning label on CDs regarding lyrics. Here's a story I recall about her expertise in the field. Someone asked her about the movie Wayne's World and she said she liked it, especially the part where the metal heads (her words) were riding around listening to opera*.

Just because you're trying to pass a law which will effect thousands to millions of people for the rest of time, that doesn't mean you actually have to know anything about the subject or even about the details of your proposed legislation. Take Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-Long Island, NY). She is trying to bring back a harsher version of the assault gun ban (and clip or magazine proper capacity manufacturing ban). She even wants to ban "barrel shrouds." What are those, you ask? Well, let's go to the videotape and see if Rep. McCarthy can explain the term to Tucker Carlson. The tape is very short.

A barrel shroud, in case you actually cared, is usually a piece of metal, often a cylinder and often perforated with holes in a regular pattern, which goes over an exposed gun barrel and allows the user of the gun to grab the shrouded barrel without burning one's hands. Here's an example below. Wooo, really scary; we can't have people owning those!

Here's the early 20th Century version of the barrel shroud--wood. Would that be banned too?


* Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody (Listen) is not opera, but rock and roll--wimpy, overproduced, semi-bombastic rock and roll, but rock and roll none the less; and even the least informed of the baby boom generation know it's rock and roll, not opera.

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Steyn on Realistic Reality

Just in case you missed it, Mark Steyn hits it out of the park (or the cricket pitch) with common sense and uncommonly good writing about the reactions to the VPI shootings a week ago. Money quote:

And at Yale, the dean of student affairs, Betty Trachtenberg, reacted to the Virginia Tech murders by taking decisive action: She banned all stage weapons from plays performed on campus. After protests from the drama department, she modified her decisive action to "permit the use of obviously fake weapons" such as plastic swords.

But it's not just the danger of overly realistic plastic swords in college plays that we face today.


[...]

I think we have a problem in our culture not with "realistic weapons" but with being realistic about reality. After all, we already "fear guns," at least in the hands of NRA members. Otherwise, why would we ban them from so many areas of life? Virginia Tech, remember, was a "gun-free zone," formally and proudly designated as such by the college administration. Yet the killer kept his guns and ammo on the campus. It was a "gun-free zone" except for those belonging to the guy who wanted to kill everybody. Had the Second Amendment not been in effect repealed by VT, someone might have been able to do as two students did five years ago at the Appalachian Law School: When a would-be mass murderer showed up, they rushed for their vehicles, grabbed their guns and pinned him down until the cops arrived.

But you can't do that at Virginia Tech. Instead, the administration has created a "Gun-Free School Zone." Or, to be more accurate, they've created a sign that says "Gun-Free School Zone." And, like a loopy medieval sultan, they thought that simply declaring it to be so would make it so. The "gun-free zone" turned out to be a fraud -- not just because there were at least two guns on the campus last Monday, but in the more important sense that the college was promoting to its students a profoundly deluded view of the world.


[...]

The "gun-free zone" fraud isn't just about banning firearms or even a symptom of academia's distaste for an entire sensibility of which the Second Amendment is part and parcel but part of a deeper reluctance of critical segments of our culture to engage with reality. Michelle Malkin wrote a column a few days ago connecting the prohibition against physical self-defense with "the erosion of intellectual self-defense," and the retreat of college campuses into a smothering security blanket of speech codes and "safe spaces" that's the very opposite of the principles of honest enquiry and vigorous debate on which university life was founded. And so we "fear guns," and "verbal violence," and excessively realistic swashbuckling in the varsity production of ''The Three Musketeers.'' What kind of functioning society can emerge from such a cocoon?

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This Day in American History

On this day in 1986, President Reagan, addressing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the recent raid on Libya showed "no one can kill Americans and brag about it." Has this stopped being our international policy? Who stopped it?

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Thought of the Day

Music is the space between the notes.

Claud Debussy

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

 

Lawrence O'Donnell--Creepy Liar

Lawrence O'Donnell, on the little watched McLaughlin Report, is as ignorant about the facts of guns and gun law as he is sure of himself. There are rational arguments based on fact the left can make about anti-gun legislation; this sort of ignorance and lying, indeed, creepy lying sets back the cause.

I used really to dislike this fool, now I'm beginning to feel pity for him. This is the most inane he has been since his vein popping, eye bulging hissy fit about public schools with the late Cathy Seipp on the old Dennis Miller TV show.

The Glock 19 and Walther P22 the pathetic murder at VPI used were semi-automatic--one tirgger pull, one shot. His magazine or clip in the P22 is and has always been legal at 10 shots. The assault weapon ban which expired in 2004 never banned the possession or sale of clips or magazines which held greater than 10 rounds, you just couldn't make and sell new ones during that 10 year period. There were plenty to be had.

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This Day in American History

On this day in 1970, millions of Americans concerned about the environment observed the first "Earth Day." I gave a speech at my high school about the dangers of overpopulation, in which I tried to be funny, and I guess I was, but in an inappropriate, double entendre sort of way, so that the school administration cut me off. I didn't get to do my big rhetorical finish, which remained for decades one of the great regrets of my somewhat cloistered life. I would disavow everything I said now, however, because I've read Mark Steyn's America Alone, and I want all Americans to reproduce at greater than replacement rates, especially my children. I talked about overpopulation because Paul Ehrlich was then predicting world wide famines and wars over necessities in the late 70s. We all remember those, don't we? The same sort of silly, chicken little predictions of an imminent ice age and, more recently, catastrophic global warming were yet to come.

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Thought of the Day

Fascism is capitalism in decay.

Vladimir Ulyanov (Lenin)

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

 

Geek Festival Version 3.2

I was kind of underwhelmed by the Star Fest today, but I passed on hearing Leonard Nimoy to watch a first try of the Heroes pilot. Here are some photos with comments.

Some of the guys go to great lengths and expense to dress like storm troopers from the Star Wars series.

When the guys dress up like that they are, to me, indistinguishable from the extras in the movies. Some of them even have a sort of loudspeaker in their helmet to make them sound more authentic.

There is a lot of testosterone in this sort of costuming. They have weapons and armor as fantastic (in the original definition of the word) as anything you see at these things regarding a warrior past of some a-historic period. Generic norsemen, generic barbarians, generic pirates (I'll get to the bloody pirates later).





It's similar when they're not storm troopers, but still dress like outtake extras from Star Wars, like this sand person on the cheap and rather unlovely fish woman..





Some are more successful than others.









Some get high marks for effort, like this mini Chewbacca.














And this Halloween Vader is cute.












Even a simple costume for a fan of Firefly/Serenity has to cost something for him to dress as a brown coat (better than a brown shirt I always say).




Or a Fifth Element wannabe, who has to cut big holes in some orange rubberized fabric for a hint of a costume.















But here's a simple costume. Arthur Dent from A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. The ultimate slacker costume--you just wear what you have on in the morning--PJs, bathrobe and towel. I could pull that one off except for the near total lack of PJs and terry cloth bathrobes anywhere in my house. I do know where my towel is, though.

The thing I just don't get are the pirates. What the heck has that to do with Science Fiction? I do like the blue girl better than a green girl. As Eddie Murphy said in Raw, if the girl is green, there's something wrong with her vagina (except he used words that would have gotten Don Imus fired).

















Finally, here's local radio personality Reggie McDaniels putting the touch on Kate Vernon, Battlestar Galactica's late, somewhat unlamented Ellen Tigh.
One more day--hope it's fun.

UPDATE: It wasn't that fun. I am really sick of actor stories. Amazing fact: Kate Vernon is the daughter of John Vernon, Dean Wormer in Animal House. I don't see the resemblance, thank the Lord.

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This Day in American History

On this day in 1898, the U.S. declared war on Spain. Jack-booted, exploitive Euro-thugs, how dare they have colonies in our hemisphere.

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Thought of the Day

If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get one million miles to the gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside.

Robert X Cringely

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Friday, April 20, 2007

 

Geek Festival, Version 3.1

These women painted themselves green to pretend to be the Orion slave women from The Menagerie and Whom Gods Destroy in the original Star Trek series and later (and more interestingly) in the episode Bound in the last series, Enterprise, where it was revealed they actually control their endomorphic men with pheromones. But these girls being green was all a con, because they are only really interested in promoting belly dancing and not at all in science fiction. Some of them sure have enough belly to do that sort of dancing, but they were sweet to pose for this shot.

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The Real Price of Freedom

Lorie Byrd, one of the southern women bloggers I try to read every day, has a column up at Townhall today titled The Price of Freedom. It's good, but I have a slightly shorter version.

The price of freedom is crime, because people are free not to obey the law.

Go read hers; it's not only longer, it's better.

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Canada Prepares to Abandon Kyoto Protocols

Our Senators never got close to ratifying the Kyoto Protocols regarding CO2 emissions which the White House signed about 9 years ago. Indeed, during negotiations, the Senate signaled that no one would vote for the treaty. Our responsible and polite neighbor to the North, however, did sign and ratify the treaty and its citizens and government were big time supporters. Until recently.

Hardly any of the signatory nations were actually living up to the promised reduction of CO2 and other gas emissions, but it's surprising that the Canadian government is giving up the fig leaf of being one and is all but abandoning the treaty. Not a good day in the placid Warmie self delusion world.

But you have to admire a government that is willing to quit a failing program. Ours rarely does.

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Newsweek Online Catches Up

Newsweek today has a three page article about how there are big holes in the federal databases, checked for firearms purchases, because many states, for privacy reasons, won't turn over the information about involuntary mental health commitals and adjudications about citizens' being a danger to selves and others. Welcome to the party, pal. I was writing about that two days ago.

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This Day in Troublingly Familiar American History

On this day in 1999, students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot 34 of their classmates killing 12 and one teacher before self executing at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. America learned next to nothing from this tragedy about protecting its citizens from those intent on suicide with company, as recent history painfully reminds us.

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Thought of the Day

Man is both strong and weak, both free and bound, both blind and far-seeing. He stands at the juncture of nature and spirit; and is involved in both freedom and necessity.

Reinhold Niebuhr

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

 

Rational Anti-Gun Arguments

Walter Shapiro, the Washington DC bureau chief for Salon.com (how does that place continue to exist? Last time I heard it was 88 million in debt), makes the rational, but wrong, argument that we could cut down on gun violence by repeal of the Second Amendment. Bring it on, Walter.

At least he is bold enough to acknowledge that the "throwback" Second Amendment stands in the way of gun bans. He's pretty arrogant for someone so lacking in basic analytical skills about the issue.

Money quote:

Times change, generations pass and attitudes evolve. As fears of crime recede in many places, nervous homeowners may no longer be obsessed with having a .45 by the bedside to blow away phantom intruders.

I was about to say as soon as crime is gone, I'll give up my guns, but I won't. I don't keep them for self defense or hunting (although I do go hunting). I keep them because I like to shoot paper targets, I like to increase my skill in this oh so 18th Century pasttime, according to Shapiro.

Please, lefties, listen to this guy and make the wasteful (and even counterproductive) political effort to repeal the Second Amendment. You can do it.

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Hey, Cho, Where You Going With That Gun in Your Hand?

I really don't have anything more to say about the miserable, delusional murderer at Virginia Tech, I just wanted to use the Hey, Joe line Hendrix sang (Listen) before the good bloggers took it.

UPDATE: Two smaller ones beat me too it independently: Yesand!com and Junkiness.

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Thomas Sowell Sees it Clearly

Sowell says that everything Durham DA Mike Nifong did in the Duke Lacrosse fiasco makes sense if you view it as Nifong using the case for political ends with no desire to ever take it to trial. Makes sense to me. Sometimes providing a shaping frame of reference makes everything clearer. Money quotes:

Nothing that Michael Nifong did is consistent with his ever believing that the Duke University students were guilty. If he really thought they were guilty and expected to go to trial and convict them, then the rigged photo lineup he arranged could have been enough to get the case thrown out of court.

[...]

A real lineup, conducted according to well-established rules, could have revealed early on that the stripper who accused Duke lacrosse players of rape didn't have a clue who they were. That would have killed the case and destroyed Nifong's trump card -- the race card -- for winning the black vote.

The district attorney's failure to interview either the accuser or the accused for months likewise suggests someone who was more concerned with avoiding the premature collapse of his case before election time than with finding out what really happened.

[...]

When it finally came out, months after the indictment of the Duke students, that the stripper who accused them could not even be sure that a rape had occurred -- despite her previous various accounts of rape -- only the rape charge was dropped, while other serious felonies still hung over the students' heads, based on the same unreliable accuser.

It is hard to believe that Nifong believed that these other charges would stand up in court. But they didn't have to.

After months of mounting pressure and growing legal bills, many people would have plea-bargained, "confessed" to something minor, just to get the nightmare over with.


By making furthering his career more important than doing justice, Nifong did real and lasting damage to the three wrongfully accused, to DAs everywhere and, ironically (but satisfyingly) to his own career, which I continue to think is over come June.

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This Day in American History

On this day in 1993, the 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, ended when fire destroyed the structure after federal agents used modified M-60 tanks to smash holes in the building and ineffectually pump in tear gas; dozens of people, including David Koresh and a lot of little children, died. I have repeatedly and closely watched the documentaries which claim the feds started the fire and shot at the people trying to flee, but I am not convinced, and now believe that the fire was self immolation by the Davidians, and many of the dead were shot by Davidians to keep them from being burned alive. Not a good day for America, any way you look at it.

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Thought of the Day

In the dark night of the soul, bright flows the river of God.

Saint John of the Cross

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

 

Supreme Court Decision on Partial Birth Abortion Ban

The Supreme Court today issued a close (5-4; Justice Kennedy went with the conservatives) and actually quite brittle decision, Gonzales v. Carhart, finding there was nothing on the face of the 2003 federal legislation banning the grisly procedure which rendered the law unconstitutional (although Kennedy, who wrote the opinion, left open an issue involving the health of the mother, as opposed to the life of the mother, which exception is in the law, as is appropriate, the details of which issue could render the ban unconstitutional as applied).

Most of the pro-life contingent is breathing a sigh of relief. The lefties seem either outraged or somewhat resigned. I'm with Glenn Reynolds; there's nothing in the Constitution which would allow the Congress to legislate in this area.

What's that? Did someone mentioned the Commerce Clause? Don't make me laugh.

Abortion should be a state issue; and neither federal laws, pro or con, nor the illusory constitutional right to abortion found in Roe v. Wade, and reaffirmed in Casey, should exist.

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Update on the Guns at Tech

I was wrong about the compensator on the Walther P22. The murderer used the WAP22004--no stainless steel, no compensator. I have to say from the photo over at NBC News that it's probably a Glock 19, 15 rounds in the clip or magazine, whatever.

The International Herald Tribune says it's a 19. The story also says he was able to buy a gun legally. I'm not so sure. Although there were only two questions on the first form 4473 I filled out for a firearm purchase, it's a lot longer now. If the shooter indeed was either adjudicated mentally defective or hospitalized for mental problems in 2005, as is reported, he should not have been able to buy the gun; but adjudications and hospitalizations like that, and, of course, immigration status, are big holes in the instant check databases. I think the most important reason to deny a person a weapon is that he or she is floridly psychotic and a danger to others, but maybe that's just me.

I prosecuted a seriously crazy person for murder, but the defense counsel would not plead that as a defense, to which I would have stipulated, because they thought they could get her off on a "make my day" defense. I got a manslaughter conviction, but it was overturned later and the charges were ultimately dropped. I bet she could get a gun again today without any problem. There's a happy thought.

(h/t anonymous reader--Thanks)

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This Day in the History of Giving Our Enemies a Taste


On this day in 1942, an air squadron of sixteen B-25 Mitchell medium bombers, from the USS Hornet, led by Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, raided Tokyo and other Japanese cities. They did little damage and scared the Japanese not in the slightest, but it sure helped with morale back home.

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Thought of the Day

Tolerance is a very dull virtue. It is boring. Unlike love, it has always had a bad press. It is negative. It merely means putting up with people, being able to stand things.

E.M. Forster

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

 

The Lord Works in Mysterious Ways

Before you let the surgeon cut on you, he or she has to go over a list of things that can go wrong, in order to obtain informed consent to the surgery. They often give the best current medical estimate of the probability the major bad things happening: ...and you could aspirate your own vomit and die, but that rarely happens and it's never happened to any of my patients.

Regarding reconstruction of the knee, one of the things that can go poorly is that the surgeon could cut a nerve which will not regenerate and you could lose feeling in part of your leg, forever. ...but that rarely happens--much less than in 2% of patients with surgery like yours.

Except, of course, if it does happen then there was no difference, in the end, than if it was predicted at 100%. And in my ACL reconstruction about 12 years ago now, I lost feeling in the top front of my shin. You can almost cover the place with one hand. I can feel pressure, and I believe some heat, but the area has no sense of touch. None. It's numb.

But it's not all bad. Today in my header down the stairs, the major blow was to the very spot that is numb. I know there's some pain there, but I really can't feel but a twinge as I rise from sitting. So I got that going for me.

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Pathetic Fallacy

My mom called up to tell me that my father had fallen yesterday and injured himself but not seriously, although it scared her that she couldn't even lift him back in bed. Now I'm worried. Change is in the air, I believe.

Later in the day, I missed a step in the Travertine palace of the City and County Building in Denver and took a long, hard sprawling fall that hurt my bad knee and made me limp. I'm OK.

I'm really not trying to outdo my dad.

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Guns at Tech

The reports are that Korean resident alien Seung-Hui Cho or Cho Seung-Hui, whatever, had a Glock pistol in 9 mm and a Walther in .22. If true, from this information, we can narrow down the possibilities to two or three choices and start the counter-offensive arguments to what will surely be the anti-2nd Amendment lobby talking points.


Glock, which is an Austrian firm with a manufacturing plant here in the states in Smyrna, Georgia, I believe, makes four pistols in 9 mm--the model 17, model 18, model 19 and model 26. The model 18 is only sold to law enforcement and military. The model 26 is a compact version with a clip holding 10 rounds (the maximum under the old assault weapon ban legislation).

So, it's either the model 17 (which holds 17 rounds in a long double stack clip) or the slightly smaller model 19 (which holds 15 rounds).

Walther makes only one normal .22 caliber pistol, the P22, in four subtypes (mainly cosmetic differences). If I had to bet, I think the WAP22005 would appeal to a troubled outsider, because it looks pretty cool with a totally unnecessary compensator on the front. (A .22 round doesn't have enough oomph to make necessary or even desirable a compensator, which routes the gas from the fast burning gun powder up to dampen the recoil, or kick, and keep the barrel level).


So the P22 with the built in compensator and the Glock 17 are my predictions.

A .22 is not the usual choice of a mass murderer; it doesn't have a lot of stopping power; although the .22 long rifle round has a lot of penetrating power (and took out Bobbie Kennedy in 1968). The particular gun I predict only holds ten rounds in its clip so the ban on so called high capacity clips, which expired a few years ago, wouldn't have made any difference had it still been around.

I always thought the clip ban was pretty useless. Before it was announced, clip manufacturers went to triple overtime, because clips in existence before the ban went into effect were 'grandfathered' and legal. It was always possible to buy the proper capacity clip for any gun (they just cost more during the ban). And what's magical about ten rounds? I used to say the ban on clips holding more than 10 rounds existed because the government wanted us to reload more. It takes about 3 seconds to drop the empty clip and put a new one in and close the action--ready to shoot more. Kind of silly, really.

But the probable Glocks had the dreaded high capacity magazines--17 or 15. Scary. While firing 50 rounds Seung-Hui Cho, or whatever, would have had to reload 5 times with the old ban and only three or four with the current capacities. It could possibly make a difference, but it is extremely unlikely.

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The English View

Gerard Baker, who covers the wild colonial Americans for The Times of London, weighed in today on the VPI shootings yesterday. Here's his final thoughts:

The sheer scale of the carnage yesterday may after all make the Blacksburg killings truly unique in American history. That will doubtless lead to more self-examination and perhaps calls for new restrictions on firearms. But it won’t change America’s deep-rooted and sometimes lethal commitment to its own freedoms. (Emphasis added).

I know he meant that last bit as a criticism, but I am happy to wear it as a badge of honor.

Here is an earlier point completely missed:

But why, we ask, do Americans continue to tolerate gun laws and a culture that seems to condemn thousands of innocents to death every year, when presumably, tougher restrictions, such as those in force in European countries, could at least reduce the number? Do the laws prohibiting gun ownership reduce the number of innocent deaths?

The truth is, not all Americans do oppose such measures. The US of course, is a vast, federal nation, with different laws and cultures in different states. In Virginia, scene of yesterday’s shootings, they passed a law a few years ago that did indeed restrict gun purchases – to a maximum of one per week. In the neighbouring District of Columbia, on the other hand, the law bans the possession of all guns. And in Virginia, where you can buy and have guns, there is a much lower gun death rate than in DC where up until recently you could not possess a working gun in your home. Does Gerard not know this or is he ignoring it because it doesn't fit his "gun restrictions good" point of view?

DC’s draconian measure highlights one reason tighter gun control is difficult in the US. The federal courts recently ruled that the ban violates Americans’ right to bear arms, as protected by the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
America, wrote James Madison, trusts its citizens with firearms. European nations don't. Which citizens have greater freedom?

Don't tread on me. ...cold, dead hands. Lethal commitment to Freedom. All good thoughts.

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Boortz on the VPI Shootings

Neal Boortz has a long post on his blog about the shootings. Here are the two points that ought to get wider coverage:

Now here's something that I have yet to see reported in the mainstream media. Earlier this year the Virginia General Assembly failed to act on House Bill 1572. The citizens of Virginia are permitted to carry concealed weapons if they get a proper permit from the state government --- unless you are on a college campus. This bill would have allowed college students and employees to carry handguns on campus --- with appropriate permits, of course. It died in subcommittee. After the bill was thrown out up steps Larry Hincker, a spokesman for Virginia Tech, the site of today's carnage, who says "I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus."

So .. how safe did these students and faculty in Norris Hall feel yesterday?


Allowing good honest citizens to carry concealed handguns is an imperfect solution, but it's better than nothing, which is what the law allowed--a gun free zone where the crazy shooter had no fear of armed resistance while he executed one after the other.

The second point took some guts for Boortz to ask it:

One more thing. I have a question here. No answer .. just a question. Why didn't some of these students fight back? How in the hell do you line students up against a wall (if that's the way it played out) and start picking them off one by one without the students turning on you? You have a choice. Try to rush the killer and get his gun, or stand there and wait to be shot. I would love to hear from some of you who have insight into situations such as this. Was there just not enough time to react? Were they paralyzed with fear? Were they waiting for someone else to take action? Sorry .. I just don't understand.

I'm pretty sure I'd just stand there waiting to be shot.

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Supporting Thoughts on Tax Day

I don't mind paying the 'rent' for the country, although a consumption tax makes a whole lot more sense than an income tax. However, I think progressive tax brackets (you pay not only more the more you earn but a higher percentage the more you earn) is legalized theft. There is no moral high ground for taking a higher percentage--the lefties do it because they can and that is the only justification.

So it's good to see others, like David Strom, think it's a bad idea for other valid reasons. Money quote:

It's pretty obvious: progressive income taxes serve to put a higher and higher burden on those people climbing the economic ladder. In fact, rather than serving the purpose of flattening out the economic class structure, progressive income taxes serve to entrench the wealthy at the top. Because as lower- and middle- class workers climb that ladder, bigger barriers are placed in their way.

The rich stay rich, while the rest of us work ourselves to the bone to get ahead. Liberals claim to be taxing wealth, but in fact are taxing mostly work and productivity. By doing so, they hurt the middle class and keep them from getting ahead.

Now what I can't figure out is this: are liberals just stupid when they claim to pursue social justice through progressive taxation, or do they know what they are doing and pursue these policies anyway? Do they know that they are helping to entrench a wealthy class and taking more and more away from those who actually work for a living?

After all, many of the so-called fighters for the working class in Congress acquired their wealth the old-fashioned way—they inherited it. These limousine liberals are doing just fine under the current system. Could it be that they knowingly pose as champions of the lower classes as they actively work to keep them down?

As compelling as this picture is, I doubt it.

I think they are just stupid.

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This Day in the Short History of American Disasters

On this day in 1961, about 1500 CIA-trained Cuban exiles launched the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, a failed attempt to do what Castro did to Batista a few years before, namely, overthrow the government, this one a communist dictatorship under Fidel Castro, by force of arms. Kennedy, whom I never liked as a man or as a President, gets high marks for fighting Communism and for attempting to depose Castro, something no other administration has attempted, to their discredit not to mention the long suffering of the Cuban people. However, allowing the CIA to plan it without military support was stupid, at least in hindsight, and not supplying air cover was even worse a mistake; and when it began to go bad, Kennedy lost his nerve completely. That's never good. Humiliation and disaster with no up-side. The weakness Kennedy displayed led almost directly to the missile crisis a few years later, when Kennedy, to his eternal credit, successfully navigated between the Scylla of invasion and the Charybdis of weak acceptance of a fait accompli.

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Thought of the Day

A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

Maxwell Planck

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Monday, April 16, 2007

 

Mookie All In

Moktada al-Sadr, from his secret clubhouse, has played his last political card--he has withdrawn the 6 cabinet members of his party from the coalition government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Malaki. In poker parlance this is known as going all in. He has no political move left, if the al-Malaki government replaces the cabinet members and then ignores him.

Who knows the tensile strength of the backbone of the al-Malaki government? Perhaps this will bring about a change helpful to the radical Shiite cleric. I see it as a bit of a desperation move, not value betting. If he bluffs his way out of politics while the Mahdi militia he controls is fading in the new surge tactics, what power will he have?

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47 Hokeys Down, and Counting

You'd think with my interest in guns and justice, and my fierce loyalty to my home state of Virginia, that I would be all excited about writing about the tragedy of today--the school shooting at VPI in Blacksburg, just west of the center of the state. But I'm not.

We talked it all out about the Columbine mass murder, just southwest of the basement I'm typing in, nearly 8 years ago. We've done little to nothing to stop school shootings since Columbine. We'll do nothing substantive to stop them in the future.

Well-trained teachers and staff carrying concealed handguns would be an obvious imperfect, but largely effective, solution; but pigs will fly before that happens.

The only thing I'm interested in learning is the religion of the shooter. If he's not a Muslim, the rest of the story will have the allure of a soap opera, which is to say, no allure at all.

UPDATE: I do hope the wounded all fully recover and that the families and friends of the dead can somehow find some comfort for this horrible crime out of the blue. I felt that before, but failed to say it. Honest.

There have been horrible school shootings all over the world--Scotland, Russia, Germany, Argentina, Canada--as well as here and there in the United States; there were two in the past 8 years here in Colorado. Schools are almost universally gun free zones. When is the last time there was a mass shooting at a gun show, which are the opposite of gun free zones because there are thousands of guns just laying around on tables, and mounds of ammunition nearby? How about never. Wonder why that is?

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I Was Too Kind to Ms. Ostrow

In an earlier post about the baseless charge of racism against Bill O'Reilly for his statements during his battle royale with Geraldo Riviera, which charge was made by Denver Post TV critic Joanne Ostrow, I neglected to listen closely to the video tape. Sorry.

Ostrow offered up the lame excuse for her groundless charge of racism, that O'Reilly had used the term "illegal alien" rather than "undocumented immigrant." Although that phrase "illegal alien" is a perfectly acceptable legal description without even a hint of racism, Ostrow is the complete fool here because O'Reilly never used the term. Geraldo did, about 7 times. However, Ostrow sort of praised Geraldo as the "voice of reason driving home solid points..." Apparently the on air conservatives are "spewing racist bile" when their lefty opponents say the so called objectionable words. Got it.

So Ostrow is not only scum for falsely accusing O'Reilly of racism for saying something not even approaching racism, she is an incompetent TV critic who apparently doesn't even listen to the TV she criticizes poorly and with a hysterical lefty slant.

The Post would do well to cut their losses here, but they won't, and their revenue and circulation will continue their steady, but impressive, declines.

(h/t Mike Rosen)

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This Day in the History of Overshadowed Achievements

On this day in 1912, American aviatrix Harriet Quimby became the first female to pilot an airplane across the English Channel. She left England in a 50-hp monoplane lent to her by Louis Blériot. She headed for France in a plane she had never flown before and a compass she had just learned how to use. Despite poor visibility and fog, Quimby landed 59 minutes later near Hardelot, France, where she was greeted by the local residents. However, the Titanic sinking just days earlier, limited reporting of Quimby's achievement in the world press. She died the same year, on 1 Jul 1912, when she lost control of her plane at a flying exhibition near Quincy, Mass. She was the first American woman to become a licensed pilot, but her career as a pilot lasted a mere 11 months.

(h/t Today in Science History).

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Thought of the Day

What if you slept?
And what if, in your sleep, you dreamed?
And what if, in your dream, you went to heaven
and there plucked an strange and beautiful flower?
And what if, when you awoke, you had the flower in your hand?
Ah, what then?

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

 

Don Ho Memorial Lyrics

Tiny bubbles
in the lining
of my tissue
because of my dying.

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Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth

The free service at blogspot has improved my blogsite but it was a pain to sign back on. Thanks, technical types.

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Torie Clarke is as Big an Idiot as Terry Maroon Moran

Just finished watching This Week with George Stephanopoulos and during the round table, both lefty stalwart Donna Brazile and right wing lightweight Torie Clarke voiced a vague dissatisfaction with justice being done in Durham with the AG's declaring innocent the falsely accused Duke Lacrosse players. What? They were upset with justice being done?

Clarke said she was upset that the boys were being held up as stalwart citizens. They are not stalwarts, she said, they are privileged. What? They are bad people because their parents worked hard and made enough money to be members of the American middle class? They are bad people because they studied and worked hard in high school and got good enough grades to get into Duke? They are bad people because they worked and practiced long hours in order to make the then top-flight lacrosse team at a major sports school? What privilege?

They attended a college team party with drinking and some members of the team decided to hire strippers, to their extreme detriment. Oh, the horrors. It's not just a sort of prissy, neoVictorian prudery in this calling the innocent Duke three bad people for the party they attended, it's the misplaced and indeed, totally wrong headed inferring hard work and the success which often follows is actually the result of an unknown but completely undeserved privilege. It's equating privilege to some sort of undefined class struggle, where the poor are good and the successful are bad. It's believing that we're not a society which rewards hard work and merit, but we're a corrupt society where a somehow chosen few have an undeserved privilege not connected to merit. It's, in a word, moronic--it's what the left believes; and Torie Clarke should be ashamed of herself, if she had the brains to realize how stupid her criticism of the lacrosse players was.

She doesn't; she won't be.

 

Last Thoughts, here, Regarding Don Imus

My real final thought is that I just don't care what happens to someone I never listened to, but there is this. When Italy declared war on Britain and France on June 10, 1940, they were not well prepared for the action. For example, there were Italian ships in the ports of the countries on which they declared war. The ships were immediately seized. Mi scusi, Capitani.

When Imus was fired from his radio job last week, he had just finished the first day of an annual two day on air fund raiser for kids with cancer. Their cause didn't get the second day of revenue. Sorry, kids, you didn't really need the money, did you?

 

Left Wing Polite and Well Reasoned Political Debate



Keith Olbermann is such a maroon, he probably thinks that Hitler, to whom he is comparing Bill O'Reilly with the Nazi salute, was a right winger.

This photo was sent by link from a loyal opposition reader so I have no reason to think it was fauxtoshopped, but I did not see Olbermann do this on TV.

Calling people, with whom you merely disagree politically, racists when they are not racists, is the surest sign that the name caller has no integrity nor any real counter argument. It is designed to stop debate, not further it.

Comparing conservatives, with whom you merely disagree politically, to Hitler indicates not only a lack of the same sort of integrity, but a complete and utter misunderstanding of basic 20th Century history.


 

This Day in American History

On this day in 1861, two days after learning that Fort Sumter in Charleston, SC harbor had been shelled by Confederate forces, President Lincoln sent Congress a message recognizing a state of war with the Southern states and calling for 75,000 volunteer soldiers. This, in turn, caused the Southern states to call for volunteers to defend against Lincoln's planned invasion and the war, our bloodiest by a long shot, was on.

 

Thought of the Day

Integrity is not a 90 percent thing, not a 95 percent thing; either you have it or you don't.

Peter Scotese

Saturday, April 14, 2007

 

Well Wishes For The New Jersey Governor

One of the unfortunate sequelae from Don Imus' unkind words about the Rutgers woman's basketball team is a car wreck involving Jon Corzine, who was on his way to the meeting between Imus and the team. Governor Corzine, it was reported, was not wearing his seatbelt and he's in the hospital on a ventilator with multiple broken bones. I wish him well and a full recovery.

 

Spewing the Bile of Groundless Charges of Racism

Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera huge angry fight

I don't watch either of these guys regularly, and this is the sort of television journalism that appeals mainly to Springer fans. What was of interest to me was the review the Youtube clip got from local newspaper woman and TV critic, Joanne Ostrow, who writes for the left leaning Denver Post, and her defense of her groundless smear when called on it. Here's part of what she wrote.

When a girl (sic) was killed by a drunk driver in Virginia, a driver who happened to be an undocumented immigrant, O'Reilly seized the moment to turn the issue into a tirade against illegal aliens. O'Reilly spewed racist bile... (Emphasis added).

Actually it was two young women killed by the drunk driver who was an illegal alien; way to be accurate about the background, Joanne.

O'Reilly's producer tried to get Ms. Ostrow to identify what in the clip was "racist bile" and she bravely refused to support her charges; so, utilizing a page out of the 60 Minutes' playbook, he asked her the question in front of a camera as she came from work to her car.

Here is a left leaning account of the interview, but even it identifies the only thing Ostrow identified as O'Reilly's "racist bile": He continued his 60 minutes style badgering demanding to know why she would accuse BOR of such a thing. Ostrow calmly told him it was because he used "illegal alien" instead of "undocumented immigrant." (Emphasis added).

That's it?

That's not racist. That's refusing to use an obfuscating euphemism. "Illegal alien" is an accurate legal description which has absolutely nothing to do with race. A Swede who overstays his or her travel visa is an illegal alien. The phrase is as racist as calling someone who has been convicted of a felony, a felon. She must have been desperate to support her meritless and indeed false charge. There is absolutely nothing in the Youtube clip that could ever be called racist accurately.

False accuser and hypocrite, it turns out. It is also interesting to note that Ostrow has used the terms "illegal immigration" and "illegal alien" herself in her writing. It would be great if I could link to it, but the Post charges nearly $3 to bring up items from its archive and I'll pass on that expense. Do your own search, if you doubt me.

The left charges racism at the drop of a hat (if the speaker is white) and even when it's shown that there is absolutely no basis to that slander, other lefties come to the false accuser's defense and repeat the baseless, libelous charge. All in the name of promoting free speech and diversity of opinion, of course.

(h/t Mike Rosen)

 

This Day in the History of Mass Suicides

On this day in 74 AD, after two years of defending the fortress at Masada from a Roman siege, the Jews committed mass murder/suicide rather than surrender to the 10th Legion, just about to storm the walls of the fortress.

 

Thought of the Day

Grief is depression in proportion to circumstance; depression is grief out of proportion to circumstance.

Andrew Solomon

Friday, April 13, 2007

 

Terry Moran is a Maroon

Apparently to never-very-impressive, broadcast journalist Terry Moran, being falsely accused of a horrible crime (and immediately being declared guilty by many of your professors, et al.), is nothing, NOTHING, compared to requesting white strippers at your lacrosse team party. I used to think Moran was merely an empty suit, now I really, and actively, dislike him. Here's what he wrote:

DON'T FEEL TOO SORRY FOR THE DUKIES

Mike Nifong, the North Carolina prosecutor who pursued a case of rape and kidnapping against three Duke University lacrosse players, has been found to have been reckless and deceitful in the discharge of his duties according to the state's attorney general. He abused the power the people of Durham granted him. Based on the public record of what he did in this case, he may well be properly disbarred.

The accuser in this case has been shown to be either a vicious liar or a troubled fantasist.

The three young men who she accused are truly innocent of the charges brought against them according to the North Carolina Attorney General and the investigation led by his office.

But perhaps the outpouring of sympathy for Reade Seligman, Collin Finnerty and David Evans is just a bit misplaced. They got special treatment in the justice system--both negative and positive. The conduct of the lacrosse team of which they were members was not admirable on the night of the incident, to say the least. And there are so many other victims of prosecutorial misconduct in this country who never get the high-priced legal representation and the high-profile, high-minded vindication that it strikes me as just a bit unseemly to heap praise and sympathy on these particular men.

So as we rightly cover the vindication of these young men and focus on the genuine ordeal they have endured, let us also remember a few other things:

They were part of a team that collected $800 to purchase the time of two strippers.

Their team specifically requested at least one white stripper.

During the incident, racial epithets were hurled at the strippers.

Colin Finnerty was charged with assault in Washington, DC, in 2005.

The young men were able to retain a battery of top-flight attorneys, investigators and media strategists.

As students of Duke University or other elite institutions, these young men will get on with their privileged lives. There is a very large cushion under them--the one that softens the blows of life for most of those who go to Duke or similar places, and have connections through family, friends and school to all kinds of prospects for success. They are very differently situated in life from, say, the young women of the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

So being the butt of an ill considered joke by Don Imus is much worse than being falsely accused of gang rape. It is rapidly becoming a tell tale of the lefties' mind that they cannot distinguish between enormous differences in either degree or kind.

The young men were able to retain a battery of top-flight attorneys, investigators and media strategists. The scum!

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