Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bernie Madoff is a piker

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a joyous Ida May Fuller day. Thanks to The New Editor for the hint.

A twenty two thousand return on a twenty dollar investment? Not even old Ponzi himself would have tried anything so brazen.

We are so screwed.

Friday, January 30, 2009

On this day in history

The trick to life is knowing when to take the long view, and when to concentrate on the short term. Driving in heavy traffic is a short term project - what is miles ahead or behind is of less importance than the car ten feet in front of you.

Over the last week, I found myself locking ever tighter into the short term, watching this day's action in the legislature, or the hourly update on various news sources, my scope of attention growing ever narrower.

It is, I think, a symptom of the instant communication which is available to us, and is unavoidable. That is not to say it should not be recognized and resisted.

That is why I took great comfort in this news I came across after an internet wander I would detail, but that I can't remember.

The Pope is preparing to offer the Traditonal Anglican Communion, a group of half a million dissident Anglicans, its own personal prelature by Rome, according to reports this morning.

"History may be in the making", reports The Record. "It appears Rome is on the brink of welcoming close to half a million members of the Traditional Anglican Communion into membership of the Roman Catholic Church. Such a move would be the most historic development in Anglican-Catholic relations in the last 500 years.

I am not very religious, and the comfort I derive from this news does not have its source in my feelings about the church. Indeed, many people would read this article and dismiss it as trivial compared to the monumental events of the day.

They would be wrong.

Like the white noise remnants of the formation of the universe we can hear in this story, if we care to listen in the right way, the echoes of passions, and events unleashed half a millennia ago and a half a world away. Events which have not been played out completely even yet.

Trivial? Not by any measure. To study history, is to follow the tracks of the human spirit back across the sands of time and to take comfort in the continuity of human affairs.

One wonders how the acts of our preening politicians, who flatter themselves that they are making history, will resonate as loudly as the hammer taps of a skeptical German monk.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Riddle Me This

From "The Hill" via Lucianne...

Dems: GOP will pay political price for stimulus vote

So, the democrats won the vote handily, and will be the sole beneficiaries of the political rewards when the economy jumps up like Lazarus on meth.

Hey, the thing is done - it will happen, and there will be great rejoicing. Nan, Harry, and Babar can stand around waving like homecoming queens basking in the adulation of the little people. So, what's the problem? Why are they so upset about the republicans bowing out and leaving them the full measure of glory?

Perhaps the headline should read, "Dems: GOP will pay for leaving us to take the blame when this thing goes belly up"

Just sayin.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


It's an odd thing about politics - a hundred million voters, each one convinced the fate of the republic depends on their choice at the polls. I guess this is what Plato's noble lies were all about.

Funny thing, I'm a registered democrat - only for this year's primary though. I did it so I could vote for Hillary to keep the lefty bloodletting going since McCain was already the republican nominee and it didn't matter on that score. (and no, I'm not a Rushbot - I decided on my own to do it - mostly as a lark)

In truth, I've been a republican since I was old enough to vote (for Reagan in 1980). I grew up in a political family of old school, union democrats. How I ended up as the lone rightwinger, I'll never know. But after reading
this from Politico about how the party's leadership is treating a guy who is trying to come up with a winnning strategy, I think it may be time to admit the Reagan revolution began and ended with its namesake.

They say generals are always fighting the last war, but usually this refers to complacent, winning generals. The losers have incentives to think outside the box, and innovate so as to win the next war. But for some reason, the party that's had its ass handed to it in the last two elections seems to feel doing the same things over and over again will eventually work. (Note to republican bigwigs: see
Haig, Douglas).

I don't really know that much about Jim DeMint, but if he is really trying to reform things and the atricle is correct in noting:

...Senate Republicans doubt his fiery tactics can lead their party out of the political wilderness when the public is seeking an end to legislative gridlock.

They should understand clearly that legislative gridlock is their duty, and bi-partisanship really means they're just helping to hold us down while the democrats go through our wallets.

Yes, trying to stop the sinking of the country when so many seem to want it sunk, will get you scapegoated as an obstructionist; it might even cost you your seat. But going along to get along won't work either, and if you are going down, it might as well be fighting.

Monday, January 26, 2009


From the BBC: (via Lucainne)

President Barack Obama has called for the US to become energy independent, saying its reliance on foreign oil and global warming posed threats.

I am afraid.

I do not fear Obama is selling the snake oil of energy independence to the economic retards of the country in a cynical attempt to get them to turn over more of the free market to the likes of him - that would be bad enough. No, I am afraid that the fool actually believes the goal of energy independence is possible or desirable.

Twenty years or so back the government conned us into believing universal home ownership was a good thing - that turned out well.

We can burn every, foreclosed house, standing tree and shrub, and then huddle in the freezing dark wondering what happened to our lives, but what the hell, at least the Saudis aren't getting any of our dollars for their filthy oil - mostly because we burned all those too. Ah, energy independent at last.

Satellite Image of energy independent North Korea at night. (for you public screwl kids, that's South Korea at the bottom with all the shiny lights)

Old Hopey Change sees the bright side however...

"We will commit ourselves to steady, focused, pragmatic pursuit of an America that is freed from our energy dependence, and empowered by a new energy economy that puts millions of our citizens to work."

I can picture all the jobs now: rickshaw ambulances, mandatory turns on the treadmills to power the generators at the Obama House, wood chip gleaner to fish the last burnables out of the muck where the redwood used to grow - who needs doctors, engineers, and software designers, when the new green economy offers so much fulfilling labor. The work will make you free (sounds better in German).

I thought that last bit was a little unfair until I thought it through to its logical conclusion: When this is tried and inevitably fails because it is based on economic policy theories which would not pass muster with a group of drunken Barbary apes, the true believers will either slap their foreheads and say "How could we have been so stupid?!", or they will go looking for scapegoats to blame for thwarting the will of the glorious leader.

Anyone out there with a nodding acquaintance with history care to hazard a guess which one it will be?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Why Can't We All Just Get Along

Here's Adam Brodsky of the New York Post thinking he is making a point. The times are bleak, he tells us, and we must listen to the better angels of our nature because unity is our only hope.


The times are indeed perilous, and our only hope is to fight like mad to keep our new president and his cohorts from wrecking the country even more. It's going to be an uphill battle, and today at least, things don't look so bright.

Brodsky does edge into a truth - sideways and blind squirrel like, when he says:

Republicans, in particular, will have to resist temptations for revenge, after Democrats savaged George Bush - and by extension, his party.

I agree with him here, but not for the reason he gives:

Because hope and support can be self-fulfilling - much as gloom, despair and disaster can be. And at the moment, so much is at stake.

We have to refrain from slanderous, bad-faith attacks on Obama, because those things only work for the left, not us.

The same guy who spouts spittle-flecked accusations about George Bush, and the Masons, Skull and Bones, or Enron, rolls his eyes if asked about William Ayres or Jeremiah Wright. Point out the creepy cult of personality vibe of Obama's little blue book, (I hope it's a hoax, but it doesn't seem to be) and the adoration shown to a guy who is, in the end, just a politician, and be met with the same look my cat gives me when I start explaining calculus.

Lies, therefore, will not work - we
do not have ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR, CNN, the Washington Post, New York Times, Hollywood, and just about every public school, university, and probably pre-kindergarden to boost our message along on its way. We do not have the institutions necessary to make lies seem like the truth. All we have is the truth - it might work, if repeated enough, shouted enough, whispered and screamed enough.

So, Brodsky is right, again for the wrong reasons - to fall back on the tactics of the deranged left is to fall into despair - the belief that the house is better burned to the ground than run by someone other than us.

But as far as his belief in the efficacy of hopey change, a little anecdote is in order.

In October 1864, there was a battle at a place called Cedar Creek in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. At first, the Confederates drove the Union from the field, but then Phil Sheridan, the Union commander, led a counterattack to save the day. During the fight, Sheridan, who was one of the most inspiring of battlefield leaders, came across a young bluecoat bleeding on the ground. "What's wrong with you?" asked the general.

"I'm shot through and dying," replied the trooper.

"Nonsense, you ain't hurt a bit. Now get up and charge," was the reply.

With that, the young soldier rose to his feet and ran forward.

Only to collapse and die a few steps later.

The lesson here is fine speeches, and piles of glorious good feeling only get you so far. Someone who is bleeding out needs real help of the right kind, or all the good feeling in the world will accomplish nothing.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

animal house

I've spent the last few months and the first few days of the new Obama era trying to get a fix on what the appeal of the guy is, and all I could figure was people just wanted to sit with the cool kids; and I figured they were bound to be disappointed. In time, they would wonder what the hell they were thinking.

I thought to myself, "It's like that scene from
Animal House...

Thanks to the magic that is Youtube, I watched it again, and was absolutely struck by the symmetry of the thing.

Langland's Plowman
could not create a more apt allegory than those few minutes of of old film.

They're all there: the fat, blubbering, albeit earnest, everyman, desperate to be liked, to fit in with the cool people. So desperate in fact, that he will give them free reign with his treasured possessions. Also there, are the glib, careless, clever people - the ones who will never have to suffer the consequences of their actions, offering instead, to commit fraud rather than face the music. I have no doubt who would be left alone holding the bag should the bit of larceny described in the conclusion of the scene be found out.

And the line, "When I get done with this thing, you won't recognize it." If that isn't Barney and Chris talking about the economy, I don't know what is.

If I were a republican strategist, I would have the theme for the next half dozen election cycles...

"America, I know you want to hang out with the beautiful people, but Ashton and Demi made their pledge, dusted off their hands and went on to other acting projects leaving you with the tab. Bruce sings a wonderful song about how tough the blue collar life is, but he doesn't actually have to live it. And guess what? Bill and Hillary are only faking it when they say they feel your pain. America, you're a little overweight, your hairline is receding, and and you sag a little bit - the pretty people want your stuff and your adoration, but please, use the servants entrance when you deliver it."

I see a big sign with Obama's benign face... Hey America, you fucked up; you trusted us.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Lets Review

From Dr. Helen comes this article in Forbes about the great college bubble of '09. For those with difficulty in economics... allow me to explain.

Imagine a busy intersection - cars zooming by day and night, zoom, zoom, zoom. On each corner of this intersection is a gas station, each selling gas for a dollar a gallon (bear with me it's just an example). One day, one of the gas station men thinks to himself, "Hmmm, if I charge two dollars a gallon for my gas, I'll double my profits. I better hurry and change my sign before those other guys think of it. Hoo boy, I'm gonna be rolling in it!"

Do you think the gas station man really doubled his profits?

Of course not - everybody just went to his competitors to buy their gas.

But then the gas station men got another idea. They said to themselves, "We would sell a lot more gas if we could convince the suckers, err... consumers, that our gas is the key to a better life, and without our gas, their lives will be empty and miserable."

So they hired a pretty girl to sit in a fancy car and say to the men, "I will like you if you will buy gas for my car." And they hired a stern girl in a sensible car to say to the women, "You can be independent like me if you buy your own gas for your car."

And behold, the suckers, err... consumers bought it and believed that in order to get the life they wanted, they must have the success gas.

But there was a cloud on the horizon. Many people who wanted the success gas could not afford it, or really didn't want to do the work needed to earn the money for it, or just felt the success gas was something they were entitled to, so they whined to their congressmen for something to be done.

And the congressmen heard the whines of the suckers, err... consumers, and set up a gas loan program whereby the suckers, err... consumers could get loans from friendly loan men who wanted nothing so much as to help the suckers, err... consumers tap into the supply of success gas.

The gas station men were ecstatic, because now they could charge as much for gas as they wanted since the suckers, err consumers would just get a loan from the friendly loan man to cover the increase.

But there was another problem, even though some of the gas buyers actually used the gas to get somewhere, most of them simply filled up their cars and drove around in circles - never really going anywhere or doing anything. So when the friendly loan men asked for their money back, the suckers, err... consumers didn't have any to give.

Then the friendly loan men stopped being friendly and told the suckers, err... consumers to pay up, or else.

And the suckers, err... consumers whined to their congressmen saying, "We were lied to; the success gas didn't bring us the success we were entitled to, and now we owe a lot of money to the friendly loan men, but cannot pay - you have to do something."

And the congressmen said, "We feel your pain, and it is unfair that you should be burdened with these debts, so we will start a program....

Saturday, January 10, 2009

It's In The New York Times; it has to be real

Scrolling through Lucianne this morning and I came across this. Nothing special till I checked out the name of the article's author. Tee Hee Hee.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Interesting Times

So you’ve paid off the credit cards and torn them up. You’re driving a ten year old car that gets thirty mpg, and you change the oil and do the maintenance yourself. The only real debt you have is a mortgage, and you can afford that because you get your butt out of bed every day and go to work.

You selfish bastard – don’t you know there are people out there with no visible means of support and half million dollar mortgages who are going to lose their homes – you owe them. There are car companies out there who have been forced to make cars no one wants and to employ union guys who have sweetheart deals with the government – you owe them. There are public employee unions whose platinum parachute pensions are going down the toilet because their agreements with the politicians they supported basically came down to, “Don’t worry, we’ll make the taxpayers cover the difference.” You owe them. Them and every other tax-sucking parasite with a lobbyist and a political action committee.

And you're going to pay too. The legislature is going to get all bi-partisan you see. I read it in the Washington Post - Pelosi has streamlined the rules so none of that pesky debate can get in the way of saving your hide. Nationalize the banks – check! Healthcare? We are the government and we’ll just pass a law against being sick. Auto industry? Hey those new green, run-on-fairy-dust cars aren’t going to build themselves. Your 401K? What do you mean your 401K? You don’t want grandma to have to eat cat food now… do you? Fork it over. Global warming? Real or scam? Whothehellcares! We’re going to save you from that too. A trillion bucks to have people dig holes and fill them back in? That’s what we call infrastructure baby.

What, you don’t want any of the things we’re buying you? Who died and left you in charge? Just pay the bill and shut up.

Over on the senate side, Chris Dodd is making statesmanlike noises:

"There's something transformational happening here," … "It's the kind of year historians will write about. . . . Can this institution deal with it?"

For the last two years, Dodd and his ilk have been treating the American economy the same way someone with Munchausen by Proxy treats their kids, so he should take a moment to consider whether that historian is going to be more Doris Kearns Goodwin or Bruce Catton.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

In her gloved hand she had a .25 automatic...

Breda has the picture and story here.

When we were at the range, I had the opportunity to run a couple of magazines through a Baby Browning. Truth to tell, I kind of liked it. The little thing shot pretty much to point of aim at 15 feet, and kept all the rounds in a 2" to 3" circle, and for me anyway, experienced no failures to feed, fire, or eject.

Both Breda and her mom had trouble even getting the thing to run - the first problem is the slide requires considerable hand strength to operate, while the pistol itself offers very little area for getting a good hold. The next problem is related - there is only room for one finger on the grip, and unless you really bear down, the gun will shift in your hand dissipating enough of the recoil impulse to result in failure to reliably eject. Finally, making the whole thing worse, is the fact that if you try to hold higher in the frame, (a natural reaction to try to get a more secure grip) the slide will ride back across the top of your hand creating your own little set of railroad tracks.

I think it's a case where the design of the gun was so successful that it ultimately failed. (See Update)It was made small enough to hide anywhere and then deployed in a hurry, but if you don't get a perfect hold it's going to jam on you, thus defeating the purpose of a back up gun.

If "smallest possible" is your goal, you would probably be better served by one the the NAA mini revolvers, but when a dangerous dame gets the drop on Phillip Marlowe this is what she's holding.

"Reach for the sky, shamus."

Update: James Rummel Takes exception to my use of the word failure.
Actually, he is correct, I was writing without thinking, and failure, was not the word I should have used.

What I was trying to convey, albeit clumsily, (hey, it was afternoon at work, and I was in the torpor stage of my day) is that all firearms - all machines actually - consist of a series of trade offs. With hand guns, you are balancing size, weight, capacity, power of cartridge, ease of use, cost, and many other factors.

Hideout pistols trade capacity, and in case of the .25 autos, stopping power, for concealability.

The Baby Browning I shot was a finely crafted pistol - well designed and a pleasure to look at, but I think in this case, too much was traded off for size.

It obviously wasn't a failure commercially, but a gun that you are likely to need "right here, right now" had best be as close to 100 per cent reliable as possible, and the Browning because of its small size (not design flaws) is susceptible to jams caused by improper grip.

It is not fair to compare a pistol designed in the early part of the twentieth century to modern designs, and if I had a chance to buy one at a decent price I would - It's a very cool gun, but I would not carry it for defense.

So, no, the Baby Browning was not a failure, and the dangerous dame from the above would just not be the same holding a Kel-Tec.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


We’ve taken Breda’s mom shooting a couple of times, and on her own, she took the basic gun handling course at the range we belong to. She really seems to like shooting, and my Ruger Mark II is her current favorite. A couple of weeks ago, a friend from her work, loaned her pair of pistols, and for Christmas, we had the odd reversal of roles of buying ammo for her instead of the other way around.

We got her a box of .32 acp, and took a trip yesterday to Gander Mountain for some .25 acp (you'll just have to stop by Breda's place for the range report on the mystery guns).

Since she's started shooting, I've watched my mother in law do the math on guns. In general, I think for women, guns occupy a different symbolic status than they do for men. There is of course the shooting Zen of grip, breath, front sight, and mindfulness that is universal among gunnies - the physical mastery of a machine, but there is also the realization for women that the gun is a final argument for when someone is trying to make you do something you do not want to do. When they are trying to make you let them rape you, rob you, kill you, there is a tool which says, "Not this time, not me, not mine, I win, you lose." It’s a powerful argument, and men with their greater physical strength don't really have to come to terms with. But for women, a gun truly is an equalizer.

The lady is no wallflower - been married, had kids, lived overseas, weathered good times and bad, and generally made her own way in the world longer than I have, so there is not much I can tell her. I'll give her my opinions if she asks, my advice if she requests, and point out if I think she's about to do something dangerous crazy just like I hope someone would do for me, but beyond that, she doesn't need my permission or approval for anything. Hell, next time I buy a car, I'm bringing her with me to do the negotiations - she's that good.

Is she looking for a gun for around the house? I think she's considering it. If she asks me, I'll say if she is willing to train to reasonable proficiency with it, and has examined her own mind enough to know she would use it if necessary, then yes, I think it’s a good idea.

So we were up at Gander Mountain for the ammo, and under the glass was a Beretta Bobcat. She’s asked me about these, and I’ve given her my opinion pro and con. She knows a .22 pistol is not an optimal choice for self defense, but she liked the little gun. She knows a more powerful round is preferable, but she can handle the recoil of the .22 and is comfortable shooting it, and knows that on a cost per round basis, she can shoot a lot more of it, and a .22 auto works basically the same as every other self-loading pistol, so it’s good training if and when she wants to move up.

The guy behind the counter looked to be in his early twenties, and the first thing he asked is if this is for concealed carry. He made no attempt to find out what she knew or didn’t; assumed her preferences were inconsequential and generally assumed an air of Olympian Authority no one under thirty without a closet full of gold medals should.

"Maybe," answers Breda's mom.

"You don't want that for concealed carry; you want something that will do more damage."

At this point, I thought, but did not say, "Let me load up a mag full of those CCI stingers from that shelf over there and tell me if it hurts when I shoot you with them, sonny boy."

Anyone familiar with gunshops knows what happened next.

Yep, out came the Smith and Wesson Airweight snubby.

“This is what we recommend for concealed carry,” he did not add “ma’am” but I think he thought it.

I like snubbies; I carry one; I practice with it a lot. Breda’s mom has shot it and does not care for it one bit.

She knows she could learn, not that Gander Mountain boy thought to ask, to keep the entire contents of the Beretta, on center mass, at night, in her house, half asleep. She also knows that with a .38 snubby she probably would not be able to do that.

I realize Gander Mountain is in the business of moving sporting goods, and guns are just one part of their equation, but I think they could train their staff to put a little more thought into what they are doing – the life they save could be someone’s mothers.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happiest of New Years

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy, safe, and prosperous new year.

Ours began in the best possible way - a small group of dear friends and family, some delicious food, and a glass of bubbly at midnight followed by hugs and kisses all round... then home to bed safe and warm. I hope yours was as satisfying.