Friday, March 28, 2003- - -
Thursday, March 27, 2003- - -
A woman may be as wicked as she likes, but if she isn't pretty it won't do her much good."
-- Somerset Maugham
Wednesday, March 26, 2003- - -
A bit of perspective
I was just reading Laurence Simon's post on civilian casualties in Iraq. He points to a news article that says 14 civilians have been killed in Baghdad due to our assault.
It occurs to me that Saddam has been in power since 1979 and in that time it has been estimated that his regime has killed about 1 million Iraqis. Folks, that's about 115 people per day, day in and day out, for 24 years.
David Carr asks:
"What is the difference between Jacques Chirac and John Paul II? Well, one of them is deeply spiritual and holy man appointed as God's representative on earth and an inspiration and guide to millions of people across the world. And the other is the Pope.
Adam Osborne has died.
I almost bought an Osborne, but I dithered because they were announcing the 'soon-to-be-available' Osborne II, the Executive mentioned in this linked article. Everyone else dithered as well, pretty much putting Osborne out of business while they sat on thousands of unsold Osborne Is. The moral of that story is still burned in my mind - "don't promise what you can't deliver."
While I was dithering, IBM introduced their first "portable" PC. I was very familiar with that tank of typewriters, the IBM Selectric, so I instantly forgot the Osborne and bought one of the 45# IBM luggables, and used it for years. As I recall it was pretty much state-of-the-art: 256Kb of ram, one double-sided double-density 5¼" floppy disk, and an amber monochrome screen. Like the Osborne, the keyboard attached to cover the screen and floppy drive. The serial number is in the 800 range, but I couldn't tell you exactly what it is because it forms the very solid foundation of the pile of other obsolete computer hardware in a corner of the upstairs office. Right next to the Selectric.
Tuesday, March 25, 2003- - -
Gary Owens bag a bunch
7th Cavalry troops have come under fire near An Najaf by Iraqis firing RPGs. Some equipment was damaged, but no US casualties have been reported. Between 150 and 500 Iraqis were killed.
The same article notes that there have been no chemical weapons used so far. Of course, as I opined earlier at Bill Quick's, the same high winds that are causing all the sand storms may render chemical weapons pretty useless. And springtime in the desert is the windy season. While the sand and dust hampers visibility and may ground low-flying aircraft, the protection the wind affords from chemical weapons makes me wonder if we didn't wait for the spring storms to cover our attack.
Ps. This article highlights more of the pros and cons of fighting in a sandstorm. Note that thermal sights work in dust but optical sights don't. Our Abrams tanks and A10s have thermal sights, but I doubt that the Iraqis do.
PPs. This morning's NY Post says that in the largest ground battle since the war began the 7th Cavalry killed up to 300 Iraqis who attacked during the sandstorm yesterday, making good use of thermal sights in the engagement. No US troops are reported lost, but two of the "invulnerable-to-ground-attack" Abrams tanks and one Bradley fighting vehicle were damaged.
Notice farther down in the NY Post article that the Air Force has taken Iraqi TV off the air with an experimental E-bomb. I've got to suspect that TV weren't the only transmissions taken off the air.
Also, Marines in Nasiriyah have been fired on from a hospital. They have seized the hospital and captured 170 Iraqi soldiers wearing civilian clothes, as well as stocks of weapons, ammunition, and chemical suits. Secretary of State Colin Powell has issued a new warning about the possible use of chemical weapons. Another NY Post article says the Iraqis were not only disguising themselves as civilians, they were also flying the Red Crescent.
Today's Reason Express email takes a pot shot at the InstaPundit ". . For his simplistic take on the war . ."
As usual with such screeds - and this has to be a corollary of Murphy's Law - they make a couple of fine boners in the process:
"Without enough invulnerable-to-ground-attack Abrams tanks, it is up to infantry, artillery, and tactical air to take care of matters."
Would that it were so. The Abrams has some dandy armor, but it is far from invulnerable. And my favorite, their parting shot:
"There are, of course, many ways for things to go horribly wrong in the coming weeks. One of the biggest is for political operators in the White House to get impatient and decide tactical matters have strategic significance. It is easy to imagine, say, a nervous Karl Rove wondering how the POW issue will look after a month of interviews with the families hit Middle America. And if Rove and company are then moved to start making suggestions to the military about how to conduct the war, victory conditions of any kind will be harder to secure."
Yes indeed, the Whitehouse has been remarkably impatient, haven't they? That's probably why we've had this 18-month "Rush to War." Somehow, I have a very hard time seeing them get impatient now.
Charlie Daniels' letter to Hollywood
My dad forwarded a copy of an open letter supposedly written by Charlie Daniels to Hollywood. According to Urbanlegends.com it's for real. It's also a great rip and well worth reading.
I like this line best: "Go down to Baxley, Georgia and hold an anti-war rally and see what the folks down there think about you." Hmm. . maybe that's why they're demonstrating in nice safe places like San Francisco.
With us, or against us?
Today's NY Post editorial says:
Americans, in the White House and on down, ought to be livid over reports that Russian companies are selling equipment and technical services to Iraq's military - with the apparent knowledge of the Putin government.
And even as coalition forces are fighting to disarm the Iraqi regime.
One U.S. official said that Russian technicians were in Baghdad - as recently as yesterday - helping to train Iraqis to operate electronic jamming systems that could interfere with U.S. missions.
Let's be frank: This is not a trade dispute. Or even merely a quibble over U.N. sanctions against Iraq - which these sales clearly violate.
This is aiding the enemy. Materially.
Aided the enemy? I suppose that depends on whose side you thought they were on, doesn't it?
Ps. There's an old Russian joke that asks why Americans only eat with one hand. The answer: Because they hold their gun in the other. This is something they may yet be reminded of.
Cosmo Monteleone writes to the NY Post:
So actor Roy Scheider and friends decided to lie down in the middle of Montauk Highway in the Hamptons to protest the war ("Roy Scheider hits the road," Page Six, March 21).
That's fine, but all I can think is: Where's Lizzie Grubman when you really need her?
Among the other exciting news on the home front, Sunday was spring shearing, a time I approach with trepidation each year - who knows when the fall of the facial foliage will reveal my father looking back at me? But I'm happy to report that the same good-looking guy emerged. Just in time for the next snow storm. That's okay, at least people will stop mistaking me for my evil twin Mikey.
Friedman didn't think about what he wrote?
I find the recent exchange between Tom Friedman and Andrew Sullivan amusing. Sullivan took Friedman to task for insisting that war in Iraq is unilateral, a claim that isn't even remotely true. Friedman replied that he ". . was not even thinking about the word [unilateral] that much, even if I used it three times." Which seems an odd and very surprising claim for someone who makes a living expressing his thoughts on paper. One must wonder how many other words Friedman uses without really thinking about them that much, and wonders even more that he would admit it.
I suspect that one of the words he uses without thinking is "moral," as it becomes obvious in his next response to Sullivan that he equates morality with the approval of the UN. Considering that Libya chairs the UN Human Rights Commission, I'm forced to wonder how anyone could think that the UN retains, or ever had much in the way of moral authority. Megan McArdle may explain and debunk this idea best: The UN is a forum in which all of the members act in their own self-interest. That should not be surprising, nor is it necessarily moral. As she says: "Casting the entire things in terms of the US actions, as if the rest of the world were just bit characters in the drama of American Empire, is good for Bush-bashing, but bad for rational argument."
As a Sullivan correspondent concludes: "I'm sure that Mr. Friedman would agree that sticking hot needles into the eyes of newborn infants is a morally reprehensible act regardless of whether the Pope, the UN, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, or the New York Times takes a stand against it. The moral worth of the current actions conducted by the United States against a perpetrator of acts no less evil is neither diminished nor determined by the objections of nations whose moral compass is guided by self-interest and opportunism."
They were 'honest'
One week ago today, NBC TV reported that the top two leaders of the Air Force Academy would be ousted as early as this week. Air Force spokesmen denied the story.
The Air Force Spokesmen were right. Four of the AFA leaders are being reassigned and the Superintendent will retire in June. A formal announcement is expected tomorrow. An IG investigation is still scheduled to begin this week and we shall see if 'reassignment' is sufficient to mollify them.
Ps. Here's another article in today's WaPo that puts some human faces on this whole miserable mess. As one of the victims opines "It's not a problem of a few bad cadets, it's a problem of a few bad generals."
PPs. It's a damn shame that this situation wasn't nipped in the bud 15 or 20 years ago. This apparent 'boys will be boys' tolerance for a few bad apples is now reflecting poorly on the academy, and on the entire military, just when it's least needed. Cadets have been dismissed from the academies because they failed to report someone else cheating on a test. The penalties for generals failing to report rapists should be proportionately worse. Reassignment under these circumstances will certainly spell the end of these folks military careers. But I wonder if something a little more graphic might more surely put an end to this business.
Republican Guard Slammed
That's what the 64 point headline on today's Casper Star-Tribune print edition says, and the accompanying articles are relatively balanced. After yesterday's Rocky Mountain News website front page screamed "Heavy Casualties," a headline I suspect they've been saving for use at the first opportunity, I'm waiting to see what big media outlet will be the first to trumpet "Americans Defeated." I'm sure that one's on tap for the first sign of any setback in Iraq.
Ps. Or perhaps not. The NY Times has an interesting article today that even acknowledges criticism of the media's coverage of the Iraq war:
Last night there was even some early criticism of the news media. Fred Barnes, the executive editor of The Weekly Standard and a commentator for the Fox News Channel, said the news media was overstating how easy the war would be and then panicking as fighting got rough. "The American people," he said, "are not as casualty-sensitive as the weenies in the American press are."
They even admit that one week into Afghanistan was perhaps a little early to start hollering 'quagmire'. One wonders what sort of feedback the major media have been getting from their readers and viewers that they are suddenly so self-conscious.
According to the scrolling headline on the Northern Wyoming Daily News website, the outlaw Big Nose George Parrott was lynched - twice - on this day in 1881, in Rawlins, Wyoming. A prominent local physician, Dr. John Osborn, pronounced him dead at the scene and had a pair of shoes made out of his hide.
Monday, March 24, 2003- - -
Lileks rocks. He has an outstanding takedown of the BBC, and of the people of "friviledge" who attended the Oscars.
I've just received the Chip McCormick magazines and the Fobus magazine pouch that I ordered through the Cheaper Than Dirt ad Bill Quick sponsors. Worse luck, they were out of the Fobus left-handed 1911 paddle holster - not a big surprise. However, the matching mag pouch is very nice and in examining it I learned something about Fobus that I didn't know. They have an address in Southhampton, PA, but the mag pouch says 'Made in Israel'. So I trotted right over to the Fobus web site and reordered the paddle holster direct from them. Somehow I think Bill will forgive me.
No bias there
I'm not the first to remark that any casualties will be considered heavy in some circles, but today's Rocky Mountain News is particularly egregious. The front page screams "Heavy Casualties" while the article makes it clear that they're still talking about the nine Marines killed, the dozen Army troops and two Brits missing from the fighting on Sunday.
A legacy of low expectations
Sunday's CalgarySun editorial doesn't have much good to say about Prime Minister Chrétien. In the accompanying on-line poll, 90% of respondents feel that Chrétien's stance on Iraq has damaged Canada/US relations.
In contrast, today's editorial praises Alberta Premier Ralph Klein for his support of war with Iraq.
What are they thinking?
Today's CalgarySun on-line poll asks: "Do you think the burning of a national flag should be made illegal in Canada?" 78.2% say 'Yes'.
Somebody hasn't been paying attention
Today's Billings Gazette has an on-line poll that asks: "Which terrorist leader will be the first captured by the US?" 154 respondents, 90% of the total, say 'Saddam'. I didn't cast a vote, as I figure it's pretty likely that they're both dead and, considering the ordinance employed, it's likely that neither will be found.
Biased? Not us!
Laramie - In reporting America's war with Iraq, most news agencies have been centered in their coverage, leaning neither too far to the left nor the right, says Conrad Smith, a journalism professor at the University of Wyoming.
"I think the idea of any kind of media conspiracy on the right or the left is silly," said Smith, who teaches courses in television, the sociology of news and science journalism. "I think that most good journalists try to lean over backwards to avoid letting their own biases interfere with a story."
Smith agrees that organizations like Fox News, which often hire correspondents whose personal views tend to be more conservative, is more likely to cover stories from that perspective.
But he doesn't think Fox News is too far right.
"Fox is conservative. And I think that the major national print and television news organizations would be a little bit left of center," said Smith. "The majority of news media organizations are a little left of center because a majority of journalists probably are and, of course, my bias is that a majority of educated people probably are." [Emphasis added]
So when the major media insult our intelligence they really mean it?
Sunday, March 23, 2003- - -
It's been a slow weekend for blogging because I've been busy with a truly life and death issue - fishing. The ice just went off the Bighorn River and Boysen Reservoir, and the first insect hatches are underway. The fishing should have been wonderful and five of us whipped the water to a froth with flies, spinning tackle, and eventually even worms. No such luck. Not one single fish between the bunch of us. Of course, by the time we resorted to worms we were all pretty heavily medicated, so I was feeling a little slow this morning.
We went to see Chicago this afternoon and absolutely loved it. Easily the most entertaining film we've seen in a long time.
Ps. Say. . . We noticed going into the theater that the movie poster for Chicago had Catherine Zeta-Jones name under Renee Zellweger's picture & vice-versa. But here's the same poster with the names correctly associated. Odd.
Saturday, March 22, 2003- - -
Washington - Air Force cadets could report rapes to someone other than a fellow cadet under a change planned by Air Force officials but assailed as a minor fix by national victim advocate groups.
Instead of each other, cadets would be encouraged to report any sexual assault to non-cadet authorities such as military law enforcement or clergy.
Eh? Shouldn't they be required to report any sort of criminal activity to law enforcement? The 'we don't lie, cheat, or steal or tolerate those who do' bit would seem to demand reporting any infraction.
This dance of the absurd will be ending shortly - the IG starts their investigation this week and they are not known to be much impressed by posturing and pomposity.
Alberta backs US
Premier Ralph Klein has written a letter to US Ambassador Paul Cellucci expressing Alberta's support for the US-led attack on Iraq. He says he's doing what Canada should have done.
Friday, March 21, 2003- - -
We're off to Casper today, dragging the Land Yacht down for some much needed repairs. Hopefully, the roads will be good.
We're sitting here in the middle of the Big Horn Basin without a speck of snow and enjoying 60 degree temperatures, so It's hard to imagine that there's two feet of snow right on the other side of the Wind River Canyon. This is pretty much the normal weather pattern - the Big Horn Basin is surrounded by mountains, with the Absarokas and Yellowstone to the west, the Owl Creek Range to the southwest, the Bridger Range to the southeast, the Bighorns to the east, and the Pryor Mountains to the northeast. Moist air is heavier than dry air and tends to be screened out by the mountains - what's known as an 'orographic effect' - and it's usually very dry here. It's also the only place in Wyoming where the wind doesn't blow 60 mph day after day. Because the elevation is relatively low - 4200' - we have an actual growing season and don't have to cover the tomatoes in July. It's the banana belt of Wyo.
Ps. Reports of 18-36 inches of snow in Casper appear to be wildly exaggerated. The folks we talked to said they figured they got about 8-10 inches and that looks about right to me. I'd guess that the area between Shoshoni and Casper got about 4-6 inches at most. The highway was clear and dry all the way. Pretty anticlimactic when we were braced for massive amounts of snow and bad roads. I'm not complaining, mind you.
I stand corrected! Doug Sundseth writes:
You made a comment that "[m]oist air is heavier than dry air" in today's [first?] note. In fact, water vapor is significantly less dense than most other atmospheric components. Molecular weight of H2O = 18, N2 = 28, O2 = 32, CO2 = 44. Pilots have to know this, as high humidity raises the density altitude and lengthens required takeoff rolls (among other things). The most common cause of moisture being stopped by mountains is decompressive cooling (the reverse of the compressive heating of a Chinook). When the air rises and cools, the moisture precipitates out.
I suppose that's what I get for taking the weatherman literally when he says that 'the front is heavy with moisture'. And now you know why I'm not a meteorologist.
Thursday, March 20, 2003- - -
nasty wiggly things
I'm all in favor of maintaining diverse habitats, but I think it's time to drain this swamp. [Link via the InstaPundit]
From Stuart Buck, this sounds like a great idea:
Talked to one of my sisters the other night, and she had a great idea. After the Iraq war is over, how about we ship the Statue of Liberty to Iraq? In one fell swoop we could 1) give the Iraqis a monument that is an enduring symbol of liberty, and 2) annoy the French on many levels.
Andy Freeman and I have been having an interesting email conversation and I'll excerpt some of it here. (Andy's comments are in italics):
With shall issue, you get to hack away at it [gun control]. Demanding Vermont [style CCW] keeps it in place.
That's why I think incremental change is the way to go. Demanding Vermont-style CCW is politically unrealistic just like Butt Weasel Browne demanding that the IRS be abolished - it ain't going to happen - but as I responded to Publicola in an email, 'shall issue' is a political step in the right direction. When it becomes apparent that crime rates fall and CCW holders don't have gunfights in the street it will be easier to move toward Vermont-style CCW. (I think that's what you're arguing too).
There's another obstacle that we haven't mentioned.
I'm sure you know some "expert gun owners" who see permits as a way to distinguish themselves from the rabble. My favorite proposal had openly displayed badges, and if I remember correctly, colored sashes (like a beauty pagent - the colors were for different levels), and at least one guy wanted an annual parade/public muster and possibly "cop discounts" at the local diner. (If he'd thought of it, he'd have wanted his picture in the newspaper and in prominent public/private locations.)
They'll push unreasonable/irrelevant "competency" reqts and will even advance the "no one needs a " argument.
They usually think that their guns are special. I've had them say "I don't care what the law says, it doesn't apply to my gun" after I got them to agree that said gun satisfied all of the law's provisions.
Back in my advocacy days, they'd get mad at me because I wouldn't sacrifice other guns to save theirs. (It took me a while to learn that they weren't going to do anything anyway, so it didn't matter if they got mad. The bastards thought that they could tell me what to do.)
As far as the PRC [People's Republic of Colorado] having the power to deny rights, it's one thing to threaten prosecution, it's entirely another to enforce the law. Out this way all the concealed weapons laws are largely ignored, by the people and by the police. That is a good thing, because in the state of Wyo a concealed weapon includes even the tiniest penknife in your pocket. I can't remember the last time I saw someone charged solely with carrying a concealed weapon. It's always 'he robbed the store and raped this gal and led the police on a high-speed chase, and BTW he was carrying a concealed weapon' - and yes, I have seen people charged with two counts of carrying a concealed weapon because a Swiss army knife has two blades, but the guy was also carrying 10 gms of crank. The concealed weapons law is used as a charge multiplier but rarely as an offense in itself. Obviously the police are not so lenient in many places - sorry about that.
Doesn't CO's, or at least Denver's, version apply to, as Bush I put it, our little brown brothers?
Yes unfortunately, Denver's now-overturned anti-gun laws were being touted as a tool for the police in the fight against gang violence. What this seemed to mean was that the police needed no longer catch the gangsters and prove that they were gangsters. Catching someone with a gun gave them all they needed to take someone off the street for quite a while. Not to mention confiscating their car and other personal property. To the extent that this targeted potential gangsters rather than some poor farmer who strayed into Wellie's territory with a gun in his back window, it essentially established a law against Mexicans and Blacks having guns that seems all too similar to the days of Jim Crow. Funny that the Wonderful Wellington Webb doesn't seem to see that as a problem.
I've always thought that the operative term in CCW was "Concealed." No point in alarming the sheople and even around here some folks will call the police if they see 'a man with a gun'. A couple of summers ago someone in this neighborhood - probably a seasonal employee from a city somewhere living in the apartments down the street - made a regular hobby of reporting me. You could have tracked my trips to the rifle range by following the police report. Finally after several calls the police reports started including the line that 'the caller was informed that there is no law against this in the state of Wyoming'. Eventually, she gave up, but first she caused me to start breaking down the guns so they'd fit in a less gun-like case. I really didn't want to alarm the poor gal.
Unfortunately, it seems too many folks do have a streak of exhibitionism and don't care if they scare someone. Some even seem to want to be intimidating, or want people to think that they are a cop of some sort - hence the desire for badges I suppose - I'd never heard about the sashes, that's pretty funny. I think this is juvenile and rude. I think it is also contra productive, both from a political and from a self-defense standpoint.
I see a lot of concern over private store owners and such posting signs against anyone carrying concealed weapons onto their premises. Of course, they have a right to ban anyone they want from their private premises, but it causes me to think that they've had complaints and are really targeting the wannabe gunslingers. After all, they're not scanning people with a metal detector. If your weapons are truly concealed and you don't alarm anyone they'll never know you were armed, nor will you scare their
Few things infuriate me more than the folks who are perfectly happy to bargain away someone else's rights and/or property. Who are they to say what someone else 'needs'? I particularly dislike those who pick out a class of firearms as 'only useful to criminals' or 'only good for shooting people'. I recently ranted on this.
More reader comments
Capt. J.M. Heinrichs, of Lord Strathcona's Horse [is that a great name for a cavalry unit, or what?] writes:
This afternoon the NAtPost was running a poll on whether the PM should have supported the Pres; when I voted the score was 56% for and 46% against. No numbers provided.
On a different tack, the Firearms Registry needs more money and the PM wants Parliament to approve. The facinating thing is that he evidently wants the vote to be akin to a 'vote of confidence'. Traditionally a VC is reserved for significant legislation on which the government is willing to stand or fall; budgets are always VoC. Now the PM thinks that his government should be willing to stand or fall on a minor finance bill for an organisation under the scrutiny of the auditor for mismanagement. What he has is a caucus which is realising that the voters next time might be looking at where an individual stood on the FR financing problem. Voters and MPs,' They're like peasants, revolting.'
All things considered, it sounds like they'd better revolt before they have to do it the traditional way: With pitchforks and hoes!
A few years ago David Kopel and Christopher Little theorized that a large percentage of the US population would refuse to register their guns, but they had no real empirical evidence to back them up. It's interesting to see now how few Canadians are complying with the Firearms Registry. To be honest, I have to say that I'm glad it's thee and not me.
Ps. Capt. Heinrichs replys:
After sending you the note, I received a request from the poll site to confirm my address. At that time, c.0100hrs, the score was up 74-24.
Also for accuracy's sake, I served in the Strathcona's (a short bow will suffice) during the 80's but am now in a 'Combat Support' Branch. Thus, I am an ex-Strathcona, and a serving Int O (see badge attached).
And I wish I had my act together to post the insignia.
Hey! I like it!
Check out the picture of the "Asian-inspired blouse" from Anthropologie in this fashion article. Talk about your 'emperor has no clothes' look. [Just in case they figure out that they've put up the wrong picture and change it, it's a picture of a bare clothes hanger.]
Front page OpEds
An interesting article ran on the front page of yesterday's Red Star-Tribune. It's not on-line there, but the Sacramento Bee has it. The article purports to examine world opinion regarding the US and war in Iraq, but doesn't quote any favorable opinions:
"From a legal consultant in Rome to a housewife in Hungary to a businessman in Madrid, the message is the same: The image of America is fast eroding, and people are concerned about the way the world's lone superpower is throwing around its weight.
"A poll released Tuesday shows that U.S. favorability ratings have plummeted in the past six months, both in countries that oppose war and countries that support it.
"The survey, conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, found that in Britain, favorable views of the United States have declined from 75 percent to 48 percent since mid-2002. In Poland, positive views have fallen from nearly 80 percent six months ago to 50 percent. In Russia, which felt a wave of sympathy for the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks but strongly opposes the war, favorable views are lower - 28 percent - than before the terror attacks."
Now one would think that if 48% of the Brits, 50% of the Poles, and 28% of the Russians do have favorable views of the US that the interviewers could find at least a few of those people to quote. But note that they say ". . the message is the same . ." Well no, if you are to believe their own statistics the message isn't all the same. Thus, it would seem that their reporting of the "message" is just a little bit slanted.
Regardless of the "message," I'm seeing more of these sorts of articles where someone's opinion is reported as "News". Not surprisingly, most of these opinions seem to mesh nicely with the paper's editorial stance.
Hmm. . .
In today's Casper Star-Tribune print edition, L.M. Boyd tells us that the Irish name "Kennedy" meant "hideous head."
Another dumb question
Today's CalgarySun on-line poll asks: "Do you think the US and its coalition will suffer heavy casualties in the conflict with Iraq?" 66.9% say 'No'. I certainly hope they're right but, of course, neither they nor I nor anyone else can really predict the course of war. I find it more than a little dismaying that this poll probably reflects the wishes as well as the fears of the respondents, and 33.1% say 'Yes' to heavy casualties.
Ps. Megan McArdle points to a post by Stuart Buck on the perils of pontification. He has a very good point, and one line that strikes too close to home:
In the world of blogs, people offer half a dozen opinions a day on subjects about which they know nothing except what they just stumbled across on some other internet site.
Dang, he's got me there. I do think his continued comments apply equally well beyond the blogosphere, however:
Just to be clear, I'm not talking about blogs that link to this or that story on troop movements and such. I have in mind the writers/bloggers who predict that Iraq will become a model democratic nation that will shine like a beacon throughout the Middle East (although there aren't very many writers/bloggers who venture more than a hesitant hope on this point). I especially have in mind those writers/bloggers who, from what seems to be partisan dislike of Bush, predict that the Iraq war will only inflame anti-American tension throughout the world, provoke more terrorism, and in the end harm America's interests. If there's one thing that I'm sure of, it's that no one who comments on these issues has the faintest clue what will happen.
I think this is where I say Indeed.
Still chewing chad
John Baer prays that Bush is right in this war with Iraq. But somehow, I lose a lot of faith in the objectivity of folks who make a great show of their even-handedness in the first paragraph or two, but can't resist a parting shot about Florida elections and presidents appointed by the supreme court.
In other news, the pot calls the kettle black. Ellen Goodman has discovered a certain right-wing bias to talk radio. Of course, there's no bias evident in her OpEd, she recognizes yellow journalism when she sees it!
If nothing else, this run-up to war has certainly caused our major media to lay their cards on the table. Too bad so many of them are playing with only half a deck.
Wednesday, March 19, 2003- - -
Air Force flight crews are a lot better looking than those I recall.
Hmm. . .
Howard Dean, pro-gun former Governor of Vermont and current Democratic presidential hopeful says: "If Al Gore had my position on guns, I wouldn't be here and he'd be in the White House."
That may be true. He'd have had to get nominated first though. On the other hand, leading anti-war chants on the eve of our troops going into battle, at the same time that support for the war is growing, probably indicates a certain tone-deafness that's not likely to do him much good. Besides, some of us still remember when Gore was pro-gun and Beelzebubba hunted ducks.
What a bunch of maroons!
We'd all like to know what war in Iraq will cost - in lives more than in cash - but it appears that the Prez' crystal ball isn't working. My crystal ball says the Dems are going to look like jerks if they push this budget battle right now.
Jonathan Harrington says he doesn't usually pass these email funnies around, but sent some that were too good to resist. He's right. Here's one:
"I would rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me."
-- General George S. Patton
I suppose there's a couple of ways you can take that observation.
Officials deny AFA heads will roll
Denver - NBC television reported Tuesday that the top two leaders of the Air Force Academy will be ousted as early as next week, but military officials denied the story.
Owens signs both gun bills
No, I'm not saying this is a good thing, or a bad thing. As with most laws, how they are implemented is as important as what they say. We shall see.
Today's CalgarySun on-line poll asks: "Have you boycotted French products because of that nation's stand on Iraq?" 35.8% say 'Yes'.
Here's an article from the Chicago Tribune via the Billings Gazette, that may shed some light on the Smart kidnapping.
A petty law enforced in petty fashion
It appears that a Powell, Wyoming police officer has been dismissed after 22 years of service - for an open container violation - he's not fighting it. The officer who cited him has since resigned and left the state. No one outside of the police department and perhaps the city council knows the facts, since it's a 'personnel matter'. I think I smell fish. . .
The down-side of Freedom Fries
Folks are boycotting the French bakery in Casper.
Guys, they're not importing that bread from France, they bake it in the back room. The only people you hurt are a local business.
Ah! This is why I didn't get my dead tree paper this morning. Four FEET of snow!? Waahoo.
Clayton Cramer at the Volokh Conspiracy:
DEATH VS. LIFE ISN'T THE CHOICE: I have been engaged in a pretty serious email exchange with several relatives concerning this war. Two of my sisters are part of the Vietnam generation, and are definitely on the peace activist side. Another relative is a cousin who served in Vietnam, Air Cavalry, and has strong feelings against war. It's not surprising; Vietnam was such a destructive and pointless war that a whole generation has, unsurprisingly, overgeneralized to the idea that all war, under all conditions, is evil.
I don't find that an overgeneralization at all. All War, under all conditions, is evil. Unfortunately, sometimes it is the least evil of all our options.
And don't forget it!
Patty forwards a photo of the side of the wheelhouse of the USS Iwo Jima, currently in the Persian Gulf. Stenciled on the side it says:
Why We Are Here
Oct 1983, Marine Barracks, Beirut, Lebanon - - - -243
Dec 1988, Pan Am Flt 103, Lockerbie, Scotland - 244
Feb 1993, World Trade Center, NYC, NY - - - - - - - -6
Jun 1996, Khobar Towers, Dhahran, SA - - - - - - - -19
Aug 1998, US Embassies, Kenya/Tanzania - - - - -224
Oct 2000, USS Cole, Aden, Yemen - - - - - - - - - - - 17
Sep 2001, World Trade Center, NYC, NY - - - - -3000+
Pentagon, Washington, DC
United Airlines Flt 93
If there's a touchier subject than gun control I sure don't know what it is. My email box is packed with thoughtful comments from yesterday's posts, and a couple of screeds calling me a demented baby-killer. I must be guilty of the 'demented' part because I'm going to post more on guns today.
Publicola links to an interesting little screed by Amitai Etzioni and Steven Hellend: "The Case for Domestic Disarmament," which draws the astonishing conclusion that places like Washington DC are much safer since they banned firearms. Astonishing because DC has one of the highest firearm murder rates in the country.
Ah well, I could rant on this topic but Publicola saves me the effort by linking to a response provided by David Kopel and Christopher Little, who do an excellent job of making hash of the idea. Oddly enough, they don't particularly care for this
Communist Network Communitarian Network foolishness, which they term a pipe dream. Neither do I.
I do love Kopel and Little's quote of Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack:
"No police officer, soldier, or any other government official, should in any manner comply with an order that is unlawful or attempt to enforce a mandate that is unconstitutional. . . . May each of us in this most noble profession, as we pursue the guilty among us, never be guilty ourselves of the greater crime: violating our oath in God's name to defend the constitutional rights of the people we work for."
Etzioni and Hellend suggest that disarming the entire country would be ". . low cost and very effective." Unhunh. They recognize the political difficulties, but the poor pilgrims don't begin to realize the cost they would pay if they tried such a thing in these parts. As Kopel and Little quote historian B. Bruce-Briggs description of hard-core members of the gun culture:
". . a group of people who do not tend to be especially articulate or literate, and whose world view is rarely expressed in print. Their model is that of the independent frontiersman who takes care of himself and his family with no interference from the state. They are "conservative" in the sense that they cling to America's unique pre-modern tradition--a non-feudal society with a sort of medieval liberty writ large for everyman. To these people, "sociological" is an epithet. Life is tough and competitive. Manhood means responsibility and caring for your own.
"This hard-core group is probably very small, not more than a few million people, but it is a dangerous group to cross. From the point of view of a right-wing threat to internal security, these are perhaps the people who should be disarmed first, but in practice they will be the last. As they say, to a man, "I'll bury my guns in the wall first." They ask, because they do not understand the other side, "Why do these people want to disarm us?" They consider themselves no threat to anyone; they are not criminals, not revolutionaries. But slowly, as they become politicized, they find an analysis that fits the phenomenon they experience: Someone fears their having guns, someone is afraid of their defending their families, property, and liberty. Nasty things may happen if these people begin to feel that they are cornered.
I think the rise of blogging has ended the idea that gun owners have low foreheads and lower IQs - you may judge that for yourself - but this is a good point none-the-less.
Incidentally, Kopel and Little thank Eugene Volokh and Glenn Reynolds for reviewing and contributing to their article. Be sure to catch Kopel and Little's quote of Reynolds discussing citizen involvement in public safety, and their subsequent discussion, it's at footnote #289 in the body of the text. Sounds like a darn good idea to me.
Both the Communitarian Network piece and Kopel and Little's response are very long, and Kopel and Little's piece is one case where the footnotes are very interesting as well. I think Kopel and Little's piece is the single best resource on gun rights that I've read and I'm adding it to my All Time Best list just so I can find the link again. This is worth much more study.
Tuesday, March 18, 2003- - -
Via email this morning, Publicola says I point to the Colorado CCW legislation as if I thought it were a good thing:
I wanted to point out something to you. I've noticed on your blog you seem to think the new Colorado CCW is a good thing. I respectfully disagree. Even discounting my very hard core views against CCW permit/license systems, this CCW is in many ways worse than the old CCW law. It's more of a step backward than most seem to think.
I refer you to this. It's a blog comparing the CCW bill that passed with one that was proposed. For the record I wouldn't have supported either as a fee was charged, a permit was required, etc... but I'm realistic enough to see which bill was the better of the two.
For more on my anti-CCW permit/license ideas, look here.
& the press, cops & certain politicians are screaming for Owens to veto the pre-emption bill. Hopefully he won't, but i have far less than complete faith in him.
& BTW, there's a machine gun/.50 caliber shoot the last week end in April down at Cheyenne Wells Colorado. I went to the one they had last year & I highly recommend them. Just bring cash, cause they rent the guns out per round. You'd be amazed how quickly $20 goes in a Browning M2. Here's a link for more info.
Gee, it was about a year ago now that I first weighed in on the Colorado CCW. My permalinks are a sometimes thing and I think I was pretty erudite. Here's a reprint of what I wrote last March 21st:
"Sane Gun Bill in Sight"
An interesting editorial in today's Denver Post heralds the possibility that a modified 'shall issue' concealed weapons licensing law will pass in this session at the Colorado legislature.
Don't get me wrong. In matters of public policy I'm pretty much an incrementalist. I think we make more progress when we take small steps than when we demand great leaps. To many, passing a 'shall issue' CCW is a small step in the right direction. However, I disagree with the whole concept of licensing constitutional rights. When it’s licensed by the state it’s not an unalienable right, it’s a privilege granted by the state. That is no small step. That's hanging ten off the edge of the abyss.
Today's DP editorial illustrates some of the problems with licensing rights:
Senate President Stan Matsunaka, D-Loveland, and House Speaker Doug Dean now seem close to a compromise that makes sense to us: Law enforcement will be able to deny permits if there's documentable proof of instability under a so-called "naked man" provision. That would apply to people who have done weird things but avoided being charged with crimes.
Dean says he'll support that provision if there's a way to appeal denials.
Who defines 'weird?' Is blogging weird? What if you just look weird? What if the denial appeal process doesn't make it into the law? The People's Republic of Colorado is flirting with the concept of denying someone their constitutional rights although they've been charged with no crime, much less convicted. And potentially denying them the right of appeal. That is a frightening power to hand to a bunch of bureaucrats.
Some might argue, as does the DP, that the proposed CCW legislation is an improvement on the current situation. They may be right:
We have long supported a uniform concealed-carry law because some sheriffs pass permits out like candy, while in other jurisdictions like Denver, no ordinary citizen - even one in grave peril - can get one.
Some folks feel that licensing one's rights from the State is preferable to having no rights at all. This is understandable. But where does this lead?
Incidentally, I like the way Publicola thinks and he has a very interesting blog. Into the blogroll with him. And that machinegun shoot sounds like a positive hoot, I'll have to see what I'm up to that weekend.
According to the InstaPundit: "Janet Reno says that you don't deal with a crazed, weapon-accumulating, charismatic leader by sending in tanks."
Well, she ought to know.
It's Da Joooooozzz!
Here's a scary tale. Worshipers at the Colorado Muslim Society Mosque are against the war. Abdel Raouf says "9-11 was planned by America" and Mohamed Ben-Masud says "If the US stopped supporting Israel, terrorism would stop right there. Otherwise, it will continue." These people are American citizens who've been here for years.
Ps. Neal Boortz links to another dismaying scene - Muhammad Faheed, an American immigrant of Pakistani origin, speaking to the Muslim Student Association at Queensborough Community College in New York:
Faheed immediately declared that there is an outright conspiracy against Islam by Christians and Jews, and that as Muslims, "we must not recognize any government authority, or any authority at all besides Allah."
"We are not Americans," he shouted. "We are Muslims. [The U.S.] is going to deport and attack us! It is us vs. them! Truth against falsehood! The colonizers and masters against the oppressed, and we will burn down the master's house!"
Faheed argued that it is against the Koran for Muslims to protest the American government because that would constitute unfaithfully recognizing the authority of a non-Muslim country.
"We reject the U.N., reject America, reject all law and order. Don't lobby Congress or protest because we don't recognize Congress! The only relationship you should have with America is to topple it!" . . .
"Eventually there will be a Muslim in the White House dictating the laws of Shariah."
Very, very scary.
Today's unscientific CalgarySun on-line poll asks: "Do you think the war against Iraq will be over quickly?" 56.8% say 'Yes' and 43.2% 'No'. That's about how my feelings are running too.
Apparently, I'm not the only one feeling a bit anxious right now. The Casper Star-Tribune is offering Current War News updated every minute. It's essentially a direct link to the AP wire.
48 hours and then it begins. I sure hope President Bush knows what he's doing. I don't know who I'm more afraid for, our troops and allies overseas, or the folks in our big cities who are so very vulnerable to terrorist reprisal. I'm even more afraid for our allies, particularly the British, who have so far dodged the terrorist's bullet.
I keep reminding myself that the terrorists would strike if they could, no matter what we do, but that will be cold comfort if they strike again. Hopefully, our war with Iraq will be brief, casualties will be low, and this move will reduce the threat of terrorism both here and abroad while relieving the misery of a lot of good folks in the Middle East.
I hope history will show that we are doing the right thing and for the right reasons.
Monday, March 17, 2003- - -
God is a 20# carp
The carp speaks Hebrew. Ookaaayyy. . . Only on the Drudge Report.
Thee are several interesting Letters to the Editor in today's Denver Post concerning the AFA scandal. Lori Peters says Lock up Yer Women, presumably with harem guards. Bruce Williams says It Wasn't Clinton's Fault and look at all the outstanding women he appointed to the highest levels of government: Madeleine Albright, Donna Shalala, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, etc. [Bruce, buddy, you forgot Janet Reno] Marion Joyce says "War is national rape." The Law of the Hammer holds even here. Matt Dunker says rape happens on civilian campuses too. Yes, and I certainly hope those perpetrators are investigated and prosecuted as well. Finally, John Aycrigg makes an excellent point:
"If the female cadets and ex-cadets are to be believed - and the many newspaper articles have contained no evidence to support disbelief - then the present corps of cadets and the U.S. Air Force officer corps contain a significant number of honor-code violators.
"They are in two groups. The first are those who committed the crimes. The second are those cadets - probably quite numerous considering the propensity of young men/boys to talk about their sexual exploits - who were aware of the crimes and did not report the perpetrators for honor-code violations.
"It is no comfort to think that the Air Force Academy and the Air Force we taxpayers support are populated with a significant number of criminals and dishonest, morally deficient cadets and officers. And it unfairly tarnishes all those to whom these labels do not apply."
Today's totally unscientific CalgarySun on-line poll asks: "Do you think the world has tried enough to use diplomacy to void a war with Iraq?" 84.6% say 'Yes".
Saturday, March 15, 2003- - -
"California is stewing in its own juices"
George Will writes about the effort to recall Gray Davis:
"Davis, in a remarkably limp self-defense, says a recall election would be too expensive, costing the state $25 million. Critics note that California's deficit is increasing at least $30 million a day."
"Republicans, who lost every statewide race last November, might pay a steep price for the fun of dumping Davis. President Bush's chances of carrying California in November 2004, and Republicans' chances of defeating the hyper-liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer, might be better if Californians nurture their anti-Davis grievances for two full years."
Will essentially argues that while a recall might be nice, the Democrats shouldn't be let off the hook that easily.
Ps. Andy Freeman responds:
George's bow-tie is too tight.
The "CA street" is already trying to figure out how the Repubs caused CA's budget problems and how to stop that from happening again.
The legislative Repubs can block some tax increases and at least a couple of them must vote for any state budget, but beyond that, they're pretty much irrelevant. The word "some" is important - a lot of effort has been expended recently trying to find tax increases that don't require legislative votes. It seems that even CA Dems are a bit gun shy of that these days. They're looking for something that can just happen without anyone being seen as responsible.
CA dems love to get their names on any checks headed toward citizens. (Hence, the big battle over being treasurer - guess whose name is on tax refund checks. However, there are also significant opportunities for graft and kickbacks.)
So, a recent tax cut for autos was labelled as a rebate on the actual bill sent to car owners. Yes, it actually said "you owe $x, we're rebating $y, so you only need to pay $x-y." And Davis' name was inserted at every opportunity.
They're now arguing that "it's a rebate, so we can simply keep the money".
These are the folks who a couple of years ago decided to charge immigrants $300 per car. Yes, they kept the interest. (ANd, they still charge the difference in sales tax between where you came from and what CA would have gotten, and I don't know if they give credit for depreciation.)
Did I ever mention that I'm glad I don't live in the People's Republic of California? Yes, I think I have.
Uncertainty is depressing
Dana Milbank in today's WaPo:
". . the administration's position is that Bush's firm determination to oppose further delays is driven by concerns about the threat Iraqi President Saddam Hussein poses to the United States. But Republican and Democratic pollsters, economists and operatives said part of the urgency for Bush is tied to his political standing at home. They said the uncertainty related to the war is depressing consumer confidence and postponing the sort of robust economic recovery Bush will need to win reelection. . . .
"Americans have consistently said they are willing to give Bush more time to deal with Iraq, particularly if it means bringing more allies on board -- but the delay is making them anxious. In a poll released yesterday by Fox News, 71 percent agreed with the statement "It's time to get it over with in Iraq and stop the uncertainty." That's up from 56 percent a month earlier."
Now the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues is getting involved in the AFA scandal. They want a strong orientation program on sexual assault. 'Fundamental restructuring' is needed because complaints aren't taken seriously. And a whole bunch more nice-sounding bureaucratic blather.
I have a better idea: Protect the victims and their privacy. Carefully and seriously investigate every allegation of sexual misconduct just as they would any other alleged crime. And, most important, if the facts so warrant, prosecute zealously. They could start with the cretins who've been assiduously looking the other way while this goes on. Nothing like a few carcasses hanging at the gibbet to cause a fundamental restructuring of attitudes.
On to the Governor
Yesterday, the Denver Post said that Colorado's CCW bill and a bill overturning local gun laws must return to the Senate because of amendments made by the House. Today they're saying the bills are on their way to the Governor for signature.
I'm still not sure how overturning Denver's laws will hamper police, except that they now must catch actual criminals rather than just arresting everyone they catch with a gun in their vehicle.
Ps. Today's Denver Post lead editorial argues for local gun control, but doesn't even attempt to explain how making criminals of the otherwise innocent will help fight gang violence. I suppose they don't want to delve too deeply into the actual effect of the law, which is to allow the police to arrest every Mexican they catch with a gun.
Among the headlines in today's CalgarySun:
NEWS: Icy conditions hazardous
I suppose that is news to some folks, considering how they drive.
Today's CalgarySun on-line poll asks: "Do you plan to partake in St. Patrick's Day celebrations?" 77.3% say 'No'.
Of course, I answered more honestly.
The rebirth of the Wonder Bar
Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.
One of Wyoming's most famous watering holes, and the spot where Hemingway may have proven his own adage, is re-opening. I couldn't find the picture on-line and may be mistaken about the location, but I believe this is the spot where Hemingway and Tom Mix were photographed on horseback, at the bar.
I've never seen such a spectacle in person, but I have seen a few Harleys at the bar. Their riders weren't terribly sober either.
Friday, March 14, 2003- - -
Gun controllers get 'sour milk'
The Colorado House has approved shall-issue CCWs and has limited the ability of city and local governments to regulate guns. Both bills have been amended and will have to go back to the Senate, but it looks like they'll pass. All the usual suspects are howling about how 'more guns on the street will lead to more crime' and bemoaning the loss of 'local control'.
Amazing how fast an oil change and tire rotation can turn into an $800 ordeal. The tire man tells me there's no point in rotating the tires, since in another 3000 miles they'll be as shiny as the top of my head. But. . . The stinkers no longer make Cooper C140s in the 16" rim-size that I've been using on my trucks. In fact, no manufacturer makes any kind of tire with steel belted tread and steel belt in the sidewall. 'Too expensive and no one would pay that much for tires'.
I'll grant them that at $180 each they are frightfully expensive, but they have been very popular in the oil field because They Don't Go Flat. I've used several sets of them and never had a flat, which is saying something considering the horribly rocky roads and scattered industrial trash in the areas I drive. I've tried other brands of tires, including some expensive steel-belted ones, and gotten heartily tired of the flat-a-week ordeal. So I will stick to the C140s until retreading can no longer revive them. And I'll spring for the lifetime guaranteed 'good as original' retread jobs.
Sigh. So . . . Take the good C140s off the oldest truck which is about to be retired, put them on the newest truck, which needs to be re-tired, and send in the worst six to be retreaded. Scrounge around the shop and find four old tires that will fit the old truck, just 'cause no one will buy a truck that's sitting on cinder blocks. Run back and forth to the tire shop about six times until they have new truck with old tires, old truck with new tires, and a stack of extra tires. Stop at liquor store and pick up case of Glenn Ellen Cabernet while I still have a vehicle to haul it in.
In a couple of hours I can reverse the process and start dragging all these vehicles back home. By the end of the day the old truck will have old tires, the new truck will have new tires, and I'll just be tired.
Ps. @#$%@ Kids Nowadays!
Thought I'd get the old beast an oil change while I was at it - it hasn't been farther than the local dump in a couple of years and probably hasn't had more than a couple hundred miles put on it in that time, so it also hasn't had an oil change in quite a while. Well. . . Obviously the punk who changed the oil had never seen a vehicle that didn't have a radiator overflow tank, because he filled the radiator full, right to the top, with the engine cold. By the time I drove it the seven blocks back to the house it was spewing antifreeze everywhere, and the engine was barely starting to get warm. I let it cool and then pulled the radiator cap and yes, it was full to the brim.
Two ways that could happen. Either it was over-filled - on old vehicles that don't have radiator overflow tanks you fill the radiator just a bit over the top of the cooling fins, leaving a couple of inches of space in the radiator for expansion - or something was plugged up. So. Find a clean bucket, drain the radiator back down to its proper level, and then start the engine with the radiator cap off and watch while the engine gets to operating temperature to see if the coolant is circulating properly. It was. And it was not how I had planned to spend Friday evening.
Thursday, March 13, 2003- - -
The InstaPundit asks who wouldn't be interested in a billionairess who made her money brewing beer?
Reminds me of a friend. He didn't ask for much and thought he had it made when he married his favorite bar maid. Then she quit and got a job cooking for a dude ranch and he now makes his living cleaning up after horses. I'm sure there's a moral to this story somewhere. . .
Wouldn't you know it!
I've been lurking around Bill Quick's waiting for Cheaper than Dirt to get some more of my favorite Chip McCormick 1911 magazines in - they're about half the price of factory mags, Ed Brown's, or Wilson's, and they work just fine. And I waited. . . And waited . . . But in the process I discovered that they carry a left-handed Fobus Kydex paddle holster for the 1911 and a matching Fobus Kydex magazine pouch. It's not easy for us sinisteral folks to find a decent holster and, yes they were Cheaper than Dirt. So I ordered a set.
That was this morning. This afternoon they have the blasted magazines in stock! Arrrggghh!! Oh well, now I've got four of them on the way as well.
I haven't been too happy with the two paddle holsters I've made - leather just seems too flexible and too slippery as a paddle material. I find that the holster frequently stays on the pistol instead of in my pants and that's annoying at the very least. I have a few Kydex knife sheaths and they're okay, although they are awfully noisy - like scratching your fingernails on a drumhead, they seem to amplify sound. But what the heck, these were too cheap to resist and I've been meaning to try a Kydex holster, just never could find a left-handed one.
Unfortunately, they were Cheaper than Dirt, so Bill's cut for running their ad won't be much. And I hope he gets a cut of the shipping too, because they're going to whack me for two shipping charges now. Dang it!
Iran is next
On Tuesday I googled "Iran is Next", just to see how the speculation was running. I've just tried it again, and now I find both Bill Quick weighing in at #15 and Misha at #48 in Google's responses. Alas, despite my google bomb I'm still not in the top 100.
Could this be a record?
By now just about everyone has linked to this article in the SundayMirror about the Iraqi soldiers trying to surrender. I pointed to it last Sunday without any real comment, but it has since occurred to me to wonder if any country's soldiers have ever before tried to surrender before the war even started.
One of my professional list serves has been running a discussion of anomalous finds in archaeology. Here's the Coso Geode, a 500,000 year-old rock with a 'spark plug' inside, brought to our attention by the good folks at the Eastern California Museum. Incidentally, they have no record of the thing, which shouldn't come as too much of a surprise.
Needles in a haystack?
Look for three very inebriated Liverpudlians. That shouldn't be difficult, eh?
Produce something worth buying?
NYTimes - Rather than trying to use the force of law to squelch music-sharing, ". . a second front is developing in the music counterrevolution, with a different set of weapons aimed at a different kind of target. The strategy is to keep listeners - especially older, more affluent ones - buying discs, and making what is on them richer in sound and appeal." What a concept.
In today's WaPo, George Will says: "The United Nations is not a good idea badly implemented, it is a bad idea. . . . Inebriated by self-approval, the United Nations is grounded in neither democratic consent nor territorial responsibilities, nor independent fiscal means, nor the material means of enforcing its judgments."
Will suggests that in future all US political candidates should be asked "Do you believe that any use of U.S. military power lacks legitimacy unless approved by France, Russia and China?" Wicked.
Bad business in DC
The Washington Post is against tax cuts for all the same reasons that Salida, Colorado is anti-war. It's fine to argue for what you believe is in your own best interest, but it's a bit disingenuous to suggest that what's good for DC is good for the US. Heaven forbid we actually cut government revenue.
Jim Hoagland at the Washington Post points out that it isn't just communities and political entities in the US that can't look beyond their own self-interest. A 'coalition of the billing' indeed. And self-righteousness in justification of self-interest isn't a closely held commodity by any means.
But I suspect Jerry Falwell and Trent Lott will disapprove.
Ps. Richard Cohen thinks that Rep. Moran's smarmy apology should suffice. Then he goes on to stereotype Jews as badly as Moran ever did. Of course, this is different from Trent Lott's remarks, those were part of a pattern. Too bad he can't see the pattern here as clearly but, as you know, only Republicans can be bigots.
Cohen concludes: "A characteristic of the anti-Semite is an immunity to facts or logic, as with my e-mail correspondent and his discovery of Ariel Sharon's paternity. What I read into Moran's remarks is not enmity or bigotry but rather a tin ear -- the inability to hear how his words might sound to others. That's not a firing offense. It was merely offensive."
It seems that Democrats and anti-Semites do have something in common. After all, it's not like the devil suddenly grabbed Rep. Moran and made him start spewing nonsense. Just like ol' Trent, I don't think he'd have said it if he didn't at some level believe it.
Blogger is totally out to lunch this morning. First it's there, then it's gone, then it only acts like it's functioning. Try as I might it will not accept a post, and/or it won't post it to BlogSpot. Hopefully this is growing pains, not the death throes I would have expected a couple months ago.
Ah! 45 minutes later they're back. Quick! Post something!
Cloisters, how medieval
Diane Carman of the Denver Post isn't much amused by the proposed solutions to the AFA's little problem. She also thinks the problem extends well beyond the academy and beyond the military.
In other news, it appears that the military takes such things a bit more seriously beyond the AFA.
May I suggest Spanish?
The CalgarySun says adding a second language can make you more employable. Bwwaahahaha. . . I was just trying to be snide, but it appears that Spanish is the most popular second language being studied at Mount Royal College's Language Institute. Italian and Portuguese are also popular. They don't mention French or German. What's with that, eh?
No sense of history
In today's print edition of the Casper Star-Tribune it seems they're renaming a mountain near Grand Targhee. In future Mary's Nipple will be known simply as "Mary's." No info on Mary, or why she was the namesake of a prominent geographic feature. There's usually a good, or at least logical reason for such place-names, and it's occasionally a highly entertaining story to boot.
Ps. Hey! It's not on-line in any of the local papers, but the story has been picked up by Ananova.
Must be some new kind of professionals
Wildlife professionals have positively identified tracks as belonging to a wolf in the northern Big Horn Mountains near the Montana/Wyoming border.
I'm not surprised, considering a wolf from Yellowstone had to be recaptured down in Utah a while back. The Big Horns are only 100 miles or so east of Yellowstone. But distinguishing wolf tracks from the tracks of a big dog isn't that easy.
Bill Quick points to a very entertaining interview by Dean Esmay of Chris Muir, who does the Day by Day comic strip. I should point out that "shaking hands with the best man" carries a slightly different connotation among cowboys out this way.
Wednesday, March 12, 2003- - -
Scopes for Dummies
Hey, that's what Kim du Toit calls a recent post. He explains his preferences for rifle scopes and I couldn't resist responding with my 2 cents-worth. After I finished blathering I realized that my response was longer than most of what I post, so I thought I'd stick it up here as well:
Out here in the wide open spaces scopes are de rigueur, as are relatively powerful - thus high recoil - rifles, so I've seen a lot of wear and tear put on a lot of scopes.
I think your key criterion is a good one - buy the best you can afford and definitely stay away from anything under about $200. I've had very good luck with Leupold and I'm using two of their new VX-IIs - 1-4x20 on a .308 and 3-9x40 on a .223 - I'm very pleased with both. I also have one of Leupold's old 3-9x40 VariX-IIs on a .338 Win that has stood up to about 250 rounds over 15 years with no problems, and one of their 2-7x33 compacts on a M77/22 .22 LR that has become a constant companion [yep. The most expensive scope is on the .22, the rifle I shoot the most]. If you get the impression that I like Leupolds, you're right. I've never had one fail me. Because of that I don't have much recent experience with anything else, with the exception of the cheap shit scopes that usually come with the used rifles I've bought, and I don't have anything good to say about them.
You're right that a variable power scope has more moving parts to foul up and more places for moisture to get in, but the current crop seem pretty darn reliable. Also, it seems that you have a greater variety of options in variable power scopes from most manufacturers. My biggest argument for the variable power is that it allows me to carry the rifle with the scope on its lowest setting, between 1 and 3 power, and use it on close-in shots in heavy cover that would be difficult with even 4x. Yet the variable still allows me to screw it up to the top to more accurately place long shots. I won't shoot beyond 300 yards, but it's sure easier to place a shot at 300 yards with 9x, 7x, or even 4x, than with the 3x, 2x, or 1x. It's also easier to precisely sight in the rifle at the higher power.
One caveat with the variables, the cheaper ones often change point of impact as the magnification is changed and I always try a few groups on paper varying the magnification between shots to test the scopes I use. All that said, I'd be happy with a fixed 4x for 90% of all shooting and hunting. Personal preference is as good a criterion as any for selecting the magnification, although I'd always lean toward the low end of power for a fixed power. Better to lose a little precision at long range than have a rifle that's useless at short range.
The bad news, at least for you, I could swear I've seen German post-style recticles on other scopes, but I've just scanned several of the more popular catalogs and the only true German post recticle I can find is in a BSA. It retails for $89 and, based on no actual experience, I'd recommend agin it. As you note, they're strictly a special order item anymore. I've used duplex, cross-hair, and cross-hair and dot recticles, and vastly prefer the duplex. I've never used a mil dot recticle and don't see much point in them for sporting purposes - I'm not going to shoot far enough to make the hold-over capability useful.
Bottom line, what mucks up scopes is dropping them, falling on top of them, slamming the car door on them, having a horse kick them across the corral, backing a pickup over them [it wasn't me but I've seen it happen] and other such mishaps, and none of them will stand up to that regardless of manufacturer or price or magnification. Iron sights are a worthy option.
Still I usually don't bother with iron sights, because there are a lot of other things that can go wrong with guns too. I recently saw a Remington M700 .30-06, most reliable rifle on earth [well, except for the Mauser M98 or Springfield M1903] or so I would have thought, with a cracked bolt face. And the owner was not a reloader, he'd never fired anything but modern factory hunting loads through it. So . . . I let him borrow my spare rifle for the rest of the hunt.
As for your shootin' ability, 6" groups at 300 yards is pretty darn good and plenty good enough, and that's speaking as someone who's shot the National Match course out to 1000 yds. The only folks who can consistently do better than that without a heavy varmint or target rifle are the magazine gun writers, and as Elmer Keith said many years ago, "they write some fine groups."
Only useful for crime?
The InstaPundit has taken his Advanced Constitutional Law seminar to the shooting range, in part to examine the differences between the Tennessee Right to Arms and the federal assault weapons ban. It sounds like fun and it never hurts to point out that the difference between sporting and assault weapons is entirely cosmetic. I would take issue with his assertion that derringers "are only useful for crime," however.
Practically every cop I know has a derringer or other small hide-out gun, so it would appear that they do have uses other than criminal. I would argue that to categorize any firearm as 'only useful to criminals' is pretty silly. Even though I personally think derringers are pretty useless in general, they are at least handy filled with snakeshot, if you shoot snakes. [Don't do that. They eat rodents by the bushel!] And of course, they work just as well on two-legged snakes as they do for them.
As Publicola argues, this amounts to bartering over what constitutes a 'reasonable' restriction of rights. 'Reasonable restrictions' are the grease on the slippery slope overlooking the abyss.
Ps. I'll also argue that I'd far rather see criminals armed with small, cheap, low-powered, short-range weapons than big, expensive, powerful, long-range weapons, and that's the alternative. They're hardly going to give up using guns.
France should suffer
The InstaPundit says France should suffer for its double dealing. Hmm.. According to this, France has virtually no domestic oil production. Their key industries include transportation and chemicals, both heavily dependent on petroleum. It sounds like a forceful weaning from the oil teat will indeed cause pain and suffering in France. Too bad.
War in Iraq a gut call?
Thomas Friedman is listening to his guts. Having his head firmly up his butt probably makes this much easier. It's really a cheap shot to say that war with Iraq is optional because it's not a tactical move against terrorism, while completely ignoring the greater strategic picture and the over-all goal of ending terrorism. By Friedman's calculus, our first move in WWII should have been an assault on Berlin and anything else was optional and gratuitous.
This, I find particularly risible: "So, Mr. President, before you shake the dice on a legitimate but audacious war, please, shake the dice just once on some courageous diplomacy." [emphasis added] Just Once? Just ONCE? Where on earth has Mr. Friedman been for the last year? Does he not remember the on-going UN Security Council gabfest? And we won't even go into the silliness of continuing to maintain that this is a unilateral war.
What a buffoon.
Ps. And if you think that Friedman is goofy, check out today's OpEd by Maureen Dowd! Paul Wolfowitz couldn't name a single ally that will stand with us in Iraq? How absurd. I bet even Ms. Dowd could name a couple if she put her mind to it. The anti-warriors are truly desperate if this is the best they can come up with.
What I said!
Two excellent letters to the editor of the WaPo today on the AFA scandal. The first echoes my comment that the leadership is responsible for whatever occurs under their command, and the second points out the blame-the-woman mentality that the Air Force' commanders have too often expressed.
For a moment there I thought the second was by The Fat Guy, but not unless he's moved to Virginia and dropped an 'f'.
Rep. James P. Moran (D-Va) is catching flak for his 'insensitive' remarks. His comments on Jews pushing for war in Iraq seem more ignorant than insensitive to me.
Ps. According to this WaPo editorial, last July they called Moran ethically obtuse. Now they believe he's confirmed their earlier observation. I would argue that this adds 'morally obtuse' to the charges. After all, his comments boil down to a reiteration of the old "Zionist Conspiracy" twaddle.
Everyone knows that's just silly - there is no Zionist Conspiracy - it's the Lutheran Conspiracy you have to watch out for. Bwwaaahahaha!
Supreme Court upholds federal trust obligation
I suppose this is a victory: By not specifically rejecting the idea that the US government has trust obligations to Indians, the Supremes ". . left the door open for Indians to press other legal cases, such as the [Cobel v. Norton] trust-fund lawsuit."
Considering that the federal government has been holding Indian property "in trust" since the 1870's, it would be quite a shock if they were allowed to argue now that they have no trust obligation.
Too close to home
The Denver Post has an interesting article today on Moscow, Idaho and the local's reaction to the arrest of Sami Omar al-Hussayen, a Saudi graduate student at the University of Idaho who is accused of funneling $300,000 to the Islamic Assembly of North America, a group alleged to sponsor terrorism.
Incidentally, in the grand old western tradition of talking funny, it's pronounced Mos'-koh.
What are they thinking?
I first commented on this CalgarySun editorial page on-line poll last Sunday: Should police have access to Internet accounts to search for child porn without a warrant? At that time 33% of the respondents said 'Yes'. By Monday 39% said Yes. Today 43% say Yes.
Searching for child porn is obviously well-intended. That's why it makes such an excellent pavement on the road to Hell.
James Hagengruber of the Billings Gazette interviews Adela Awner, executive director of the Midland Empire District of the American Red Cross, who makes the same point I have: "We're not trying to scare people," Awner said. "Exactly the opposite. Everything is less scary and more manageable if you've done something in advance."
Yep. The better prepared you are for disaster, natural and man-made, the better you'll sleep at night. Especially now, it beats lying awake at night wondering if the powers that be really do know what the devil they're doing.
Ps. The Red Cross, like the Boy Scouts, was preaching disaster preparedness long before September 11th, and has a variety of books and pamphlets that can be very helpful.
If you go down to the woods today you're in for a big surprise*
Yellowstone bears are coming out of hibernation and they will be. . . Yes, hungry as bears. Even the normally innocuous black bears can be very dangerous this time of year.
*Teddybear's Picnic [midi file]
Tuesday, March 11, 2003- - -
Jeff Soyer at Alphecca points to this post by Publicola that argues that the Right to Arms is an absolute right:
The pro gun crowd has a fundamental misunderstanding of Rights, both in the legal & natural sense. They feel that while being a Right it is not an absolute Right & therefore can be restricted under certain conditions. This is their downfall, as once you concede that a Right is subject to reasonable restrictions then it really is simply a matter of bartering over the word 'reasonable' & more oft than not the pro gun side loses.
So I am going to attempt to do what I have been meaning to do since I started this blog, which is to explain what a Right is, what a Right isn't, how it pertains to the owning & possession of weapons, & why it is absolute.
Very Interesting. Be sure to read Jeff Soyer's comments too.
Take a quick poll of opinion on the internet: Google "Iran is Next" with quotes.
In the first five pages of results there are a few that are obviously innocuous: "With 24 trillion cubic meters Iran is Next to Russia."[pdf file] And, "Drugs are cheap because Iran is Next door to Afghanistan." One guy who says North Korea is Next. One says Argentina is Next - don't tell me, let me guess, that would be the folks who really believe that it really is all about OIL. But even most of them think Iran is Next. One is having Visions: "The idea is to keep Americans scared so they will agree to attack the Moslems on behalf of the New World Order. It's a scam. There is no war on terror. It's a lie. It's just a power thing-oil. I mentioned on July 20, 2002, that Iran is in serious trouble because once the Americans have finished blitzing Baghdad, Iran is Next." [Seriously. Take a look at that URL, then get a net, Ed]
But bottom line, in the first fifty or so hits, all but a half dozen or so are saying that they think Iran is Next to develop nuclear weapons or most commonly, Iran is Next on the US' dance card in the Middle East. Or both.
President Bush is losing patience with the UN, according to his aids. Well, imagine that.
What? No Mousterian monkey love?
How disappointing. I always figured at least half my relatives were Neanderthals.
The WaPo doesn't have much good to say about Hans Blix or the efficacy of UN inspections. ".. it's important to understand that any extension of the inspectors' mandate would only delay, not prevent, a conflict." How true.
The Gray Lady will probably tell them they've missed a good opportunity to shut up.
Cities against the war
Ed Quillen ponders whether cities should be passing resolutions opposing war in Iraq, using Salida, Colorado as an example. He concludes that, whether or not it's in the nation's best interest, war is not in Salida's best interest - they don't have any defense plants, the money could be better spent on fire-suppression in the National Forests, and if war drives up the price of gas it will hurt the tourism industry.
Unhuh. On the other hand, not all of those tourists drive. A lot of them fly. Air travel is already a pain by all reports [we haven't had to fly anywhere, yet] and I'd bet heavily that another terrorist hijacking will really make flying a pain. Then what happens to tourism? What if terrorists start setting fires in those National Forests? I'm surprised they haven't done that already - perhaps they are a little slow. And of course, no one is blowing themselves up in the grocery stores in Salida. But foremost is the fact that every time a bunch of dopey 'ain't in my backyard, Stop the War' bozos make headlines they're giving encouragement to all the wrong people.
More on the AFA
Ari Fleischer has weighed in - President Bush is watching. Pale little wiggly things are definitely in the spotlight now. The Denver Post also discusses the incidence of rape in and out of the service.
Ps. You might read the Denver Post commentary today, especially the part that makes it clear that this problem goes way beyond the AFA, and indeed beyond the Air Force, and then read what Gen. Jumper proposes to do about it according to today's WaPo. Segregate the female cadets? The guy can't be serious.
Fortunately, the IG is also looking into this, and they may have interesting things to say before their investigation is done.
Sounds like Calgary Northeast MP Art Hanger is quite a character.
Oh Jeez, Louise!
And you wonder why I call this rag the Red Star-Tribune! In a recent editorial Charles Levendosky says that war in Iraq betrays our ideals:
"The United States is no stranger to war. Our nation was established through revolution and forged into unity by civil war. But even in those defining events, neither the American revolutionaries nor the Union troops were first-strike aggressors.
"On April 19, 1775, a large detachment of British Redcoats fired on a small body of Minuteman [sic]at Lexington, killing or wounding about a dozen men. That moment began the American Revolution.
"President Lincoln, the first Republican president, was keenly aware that the federal government should not be the aggressor against the seceding Confederate States. Lincoln would not begin a civil war. He saw it as his duty to "preserve, protect and defend" the Union. On April 12, 1861, the Confederate forces in Charleston fired on Fort Sumter. The seceding states began the Civil War. Lincoln's wisdom made it easier for the nation to heal the rift and the wounds after the war had ended.
"Now, in contrast to those two events that helped define us as a nation, we are poised -- for the first time in our history -- to launch a war without direct provocation or threat to our country.
"President Bush intends to unleash the destructive weapons of a superpower against Iraq, a country without the sophisticated technology or weaponry to defend itself. Iraq's military capability was mostly destroyed in the 1991 Gulf War. If Bush does so, it will be one of the most shameful decisions ever made by a president. A pre-emptive military strike against a country that constitutes no threat to us betrays this nation's noblest ideals and beliefs."
Oh yes, poor defenseless little Iraq. They haven't done a thing to deserve this, have they? Obviously someone hasn't been paying attention. Or more likely, this is just another case of Bush-hate; it certainly blames the Prez for every turn of events. And a few of Charlie's arguments are truly noxious examples of moral equivalence: "The United States has developed and stored weapons of mass destruction and now threatens to use them."
Um.. Charlie, not only does the US have weapons of mass destruction, we have used them. A nicely selective memory you've got. How sure are you that the British fired first at Lexington? And of course Lincoln and the north didn't do a thing to instigate the
Civil War War Between the States. Is attacking Iraq really as shameful as abandoning all those Cubans at the Bay of Pigs? How about ignoring all the misery that the splodeydopes have been inflicting on everyone around them for the last 50 years? Looking the other way while millions are tortured and murdered - is that moral and idealistic? I view cleaning out a few nests of these snakes as being the moral equivalent of sending the Marines after the Barbary Pirates . . . Oh yeah, they hadn't directly threatened or attacked the US either, had they? Well, other than attacking a few of our ships, sort of like the terrorists that way, hmm?
Finally, this isn't about ideals, it's about hard reality. It's about a smoking hole in the ground in the middle of Manhattan, and the determination never to let that happen again. Sorry if that offends your sense of ideals.