sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Putin and the Gay Adoption Issue

You should never say never.

I never thought that America would stack up morally behind Russia, but that's the way it is and there isn't anything that I can do behind it.

Lone Star Parson and The Last Tradition both beat me to the punch but I'm throwing my cracker in the soup anyway because it's my Sunday Sermonette. No I'm not a holy man. Just an American with an opinion.

We all know that President Barack Obama had a number of homosexual encounters before he married Michelle, who by all accounts is female. Therefore it's no surprise which side of the gay marriage issue that he's landed on. He's comfortable with sodomy. 

Russian strongman and political oligarch, Vladimir Putin, a world class woman chaser, is blatantly heterosexual and feels that there is something wrong with homosexuals who wish to adopt children. Unlike many Americans who would seem to have no shame - and feel that it's even acceptable for transgender people - (used to be called an abomination) to adopt babies.
(News) ...Two years after adopting the boy, the couple split and started a legal dispute over parental rights. Such a relationship is “rather questionable from the point of view of morality” and the child got drawn into this row, observed Russian Foreign Ministry's Commissioner for Human Rights Konstantin Dolgov. Now the Ministry is set to look into possible “psychological damage” inflicted on the boy. 
Some Russians however say that banning adoptions by same-sex couples is a half measure. The head of the ‘All-Russian Parents’ Assembly’ movement, Nadezhda Khramova, says a total ban of foreign adoptions would be a smarter move, as “it is technically difficult to verify the adoptive parents’ sexual orientation and their legal status can be a marriage of convenience”.
You'd think that a man like Obama, reared by communists and a utopian socialist himself, would find some common cause with a man like Vladimir Putin. However, as Putin would tell you, Russia is no longer communist. It's an oligarchy and a multi-party system, and while I'm not extolling the virtues of Putin or of Russia, I have to say that they've come down on the correct side of this issue.

Obama wouldn't be caught dead hunting or fishing. Putin likes to do both. Should you happen to see Putin in public, he's seldom ringed with steel the way that Obama is --- and there are usually attractive women hanging around him. Obama attracts Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett. 

So as much as I spent my life on the side opposite of the Russians, I have to say that they have the moral high ground on this topic.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Seasonal Wishes

I wish you all a Happy:

Easter (Christians of all sorts)
Spring Break (Non-Denominational)
Feast of Ishtar (Pagans)
Spring Equinox (Wiccans)
End of Passover (Jews)
Mahavir Jayanti (Red-Dot Indians)
Planting Season (Feather Indians)

Dear Leader's Angry Words

Field Marshal Kim Jong (Dear Leader) Un and friends
There are few regimes on the planet as universally repulsive as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea). Even the Central African Republic and Mali seem to have a more balanced approach to the world around them.

North Korea can fire 500,000 rounds of artillery on the South Korean capital, Seoul, in the first hour of a conflict. They have a lot of tube and rocket artillery that is emplaced in hardened shelters and they can blast a zone of annihilation over which their legions will pass. There is no denying that North Korea can do that. They can also deploy an aircraft delivered nuclear weapon which may or may not make it to the target depending on the air defense posture of the US/South Korean alliance. However, that's about it. A nuclear weapon detonation would invite and demand a US retaliation and the US can use any one of a number of delivery systems to turn the North Korean capitol of Pyongyang into a sea of radioactive glass. Likewise, their hardened nuclear weapons storage and development areas would likely be nuked. 

That's the bad news.

This is the good news.

The joint economic zone at Kaesong (north of Panmunjom in the DPRK) generates hard cash for North Korea. Essentially it is one of those situations where South Koreans cross the border every day to go to work supervising North Koreans. The border crossing hasn't been closed to those people while North Korea busily spouts the rhetoric of war. Roughly 1,000 South Koreans work in Kaesong and things are still operating normally there. That's the canary in the cage, and it's still healthy.

Now, Dear Leader needs to find a way to de-escalate the situation before people get hurt. Kim needs to have something to show for the expense, aggravation and inconvenience he has caused since December. Kim Il-sung and Kim Chong-il (the previous Dear Leaders - grandpa and daddy, respectively) did the same sort of thing but not to the extent that junior has. Apparently the generals who run the kid/Dear Leader felt that he needed to boost his Dear Leader credentials at home. The population of North Korea has been on a war footing for decades, they are always on the brink of starvation and they may be complacent.

April begins the planting season and the North Korean Army grows its own food, so unless they stand down and get to work, they'll starve next winter. Kim wants to take something away from the pageant that he's put on to declare victory against the reactionary running imperialist capitalist lackey dogs (that would be us). But while everyone is watching the DPRK, nobody is impressed with their histrionics. It's much the same way as a parent looks at a child having a tantrum. 

Meanwhile, as the tantrum/pageant continues and North Korea threatens to detonate nuclear weapons and wipe out the US, the Daily NK reported yesterday that North Korea recently sent its director of tourism to China to drum up hard-currency paying Chinese tourists with package deals. Air Koryo will add more flights to the number of weekly flights from Beijing to Pyongyang starting 12 April. North Korean officials also have begun another round of working with Chinese officials in the provinces adjacent to North Korea to increase tourism and trade. When asked whether it is safe to travel to North Korea because of the crisis situation, the tourism director said that war definitely will not break out so don't worry.

However, this is what the DPRK's civilian voice of "the party" , the Korean Central News Agency had its say today in a special English language statement (in part):
"The moves of the US imperialists to violate the sovereignty of the DPRK and encroach on its supreme interests have entered an extremely grave phase. The important decision made by him is the declaration of a do-or-die battle to provide epochal occasion for putting and end to the history of the long standing showdown with the US and opening a new era. They should clearly know that the era of Marshal Kim Jong Un, the greatest-ever commander, all things are different from what they used to be in the past." It drones on with bad English and hollow threats. I didn't know that the fat little kid promoted himself to Marshal. 

I don't know whether or not to chalk up the posters to penis envy or not.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Weapon Review - Griffin Block 2B

This continues an intermittent series on weapons that are particularly adaptable to Special Operations Low Intensity Conflict (SOLIC) situations or so-called 'zombie wars'. The US Military is moving in a big way toward the Griffin surface-to-surface and air to surface missile as a replacement for the venerable Hellfire missile.

USS Independence  -  LCS 2
It looks cool and futuristic but it's been fraught with development problems
and is very vulnerable in any genuine combat environment.
I'm going to focus on the AGM-176 Griffin as a naval weapon here on this blog post. The US Navy has spent a lot of time and effort to adapt the Griffin as a weapon against small, fast moving boats (Somali Pirates and Iranian Boghammers). It intends to use them on the Littoral Combat Ships, which I believe will end up being a short production run simply because they don't do what they need to do: Short combat radius, limited ability to protect themselves from other than lightly armed speed boats, crew manning problems, too loud for special operations applications, etc. The list is long and I'm not going to dwell on it here.

USS Freedom - LCS 1
There are two hull designs for Littoral Combat Ships. LCS 1 is the other design.
In concept it suffers from the same endemic flaws as the other hull pattern above.
The Griffin is a short range weapon with a 5.5 km range when surface launched. Nearly point blank range from a naval perspective. The weapon system developed for use on UAV's/drone aircraft because three can be carried in the place of one Hellfire missile and the launch assembly is also lighter. I have no idea why the US Navy wants to spend the money it has spent for this system. The warhead will obliterate a 16 foot open boat of wooden construction. Is that the direction that the Navy is heading? Really? The weapon would seem to be accurate based on testing (HERE) (and HERE).

The most effective way to kill a 16-20 foot open boat is with a helicopter. Yes, both of these ships have helicopters as part as their compliment. However, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus clarified that, "The ship could operate in combat areas, as long as it remained under the protection of real warships." (Freedberg, Sydney J. Jr. "LCS Is Too A Real Warship, insists SECNAV April 2012.) The original estimated cost of a Littoral Combat Ship was initially $220 million. It's now $440 million.

$440 million is a lot of money for a ship that's intended to kill an open fishing boat loaded with Somali natives, which is also not expected to survive in a real combat environment.
TYPICAL Somali Pirate Boat
I don't have a problem with the Griffin as a helicopter launched missile or as an Army surface to surface missile, but it's simply silly to mount it on a ship to kill speed boats.

Cost of Griffin missile (each)                                     $450,000.00
Cost of wooden/plastic Somali fishing boat (each)   $   6,000.00 (estimated average)
The US Navy's DDG 51 Class destroyer that began with the USS Arleigh Burke is a far more capable platform than the LCS ships and unlike them, is likely to survive in a combat environment. 
Extended Range (61 nautical mile range) 5" 62 Caliber Mk 45 Mod 4 round (each) fired from a Destroyer -  $35,000

Are the US Navy's admirals insane?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

RADM Charles Gaouette - Crucified - for Iran

(New York Times) The Navy on Monday officially disciplined the admiral who had commanded a carrier strike group until being abruptly removed from the position last fall while the vessels patrolled the North Arabian Sea.
Rear Adm. Charles M. Gaouette, who led Carrier Strike Group Three, which included the U.S.S. John C. Stennis, had been accused of using profanity in a public setting and making at least two racially insensitive comments, officials familiar with the investigation said. 
He was cleared of any criminal violations under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the laws governing the behavior of armed services personnel. But a set of administrative penalties will effectively end his career.
So Rear Admiral Charles M. Gaouette USN, a solid American and a patriotic warrior just lost his career in the United States Navy. What was the profanity that he used? What were the racially insensitive remarks that the Navy and the Obama Administrative found so vile? 


Rear Admiral Charles M. Gaouette, USN is losing his job for advising the 5,000 men and women on the aircraft carrier, USS John C. Stennis, "I want you to be vigilant and intelligent when protecting this ship from the God-damned Iranian mother fuckers."

That's it. That's the sum total of his "reprehensible, insensitive conduct".

I can't tell you how happy I am NOT to be in the United States Navy anymore. 

To Admiral Gaouette, I can only offer my profound apologies on behalf of the people of the United States for his gallant and steadfast service and to suggest that Americans don't feel the same way that the ObamaNation does about his statement. In fact, if it had been me, I'd have called the God-damned Iranians a bunch of pig fuckers. But that's just me. And I'm insensitive. Ask anyone. 

Eye in the Sky

The eye  -  and missiles  -  in the sky.
MQ-9 Reaper
The San Diego Military Advisory Council (SDMAC) and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC) have filed an application with the Federal Aviation Administration to create a "drone zone". 

California raises its taxes repeatedly, driving out other business but government contractors who simply charge cost +20% or +30% don't care what the tax rate is. Northrup Grumman, a major drone producer, has relocated branches of its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program to Southern California. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, which produces Predator drones, is located in Poway. The UAV industry in San Diego County clocks in at approximately $1.3 billion, and that number is growing fast.

Within a few years it's expected to be a $10 billion industry or even higher, as aircraft move from piloted to pilotless. In thirty years, a pilot's career in the US Air Force may consist of sitting in a trailer, munching on Ho Ho's and drinking (smaller than 32 oz) soft drinks while he flies the video game style drone controls. So while the number of genuine flying humans will decrease, the demand for drones will exponentially increase. 

The FAA is prepared to greenlight six test zones across the country, and over 40 applications have been filed or will be filed shortly, according to theSan Diego Union-Tribune.

The FAA website describes the goal of the test-site program: “The research done at the test sites will help the FAA develop regulatory standards to foster UAS technology and operational procedures. The effort also will add to the data we need to eventually permit routine UAS operations in the NAS.”

Have no fears. Be of good cheer. After a 13 hour filibuster on the floor of the US Senate by Senator Rand Paul(R-KY), Attorney General Eric Holder sent him a short, tersely worded letter that indicated that the President of the United States did not intend to use these aircraft against unarmed, innocent US Civilians on American soil at the present time.

Lyrics - Chorus:

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind
And I don't need to see any more
To know that
I can read your mind, I can read your mind

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pelosi, Shultz & Moore Deny Zombie Allegation

Michael Moore allegedly eating mystery
meat in his usual two-fisted style prompted
speculation that he might be a zombie.

Virtual Mirage, your one stop shop for unbiassed reporting, suggested that there has been some public confusion regarding unsubstantiated suggestions that famed progressive documentary film maker Michael Moore was in fact, a zombie. (read more here

Virtual Mirage called Moore's agent who didn't return our call, prompting us to presume that it was a denial of the accusation. We aren't MSNBC, where a refusal to return a call is a confirmation of guilt.

Moore created a number of films including Pets or Meat, the documentary about a woman who raises rabbits and sells them as pets or for human consumption. In 1995, Moore released a satirical film, Canadian Bacon, which features a fictional US president (played by liberal icon Alan Alda) engineering a fake war with Canada in order to boost his popularity. Canadian Bacon didn't suggest that Canadians would be disposed to eat Americans or the other way around. 
Michael Moore - Apparently not a
zombie   ...yet

Moore's documentary, Sicko, did discuss the terminally ill but did not touch on consuming their remains, zombie style. However, it could have potentially been the genesis for public concerns that the famously obese Moore was obsessed with zombie-style consumption.

Virtual Mirage makes no claims as to the accuracy of allegations. We only share them in much the same way as Mother Jones (where Moore worked for four months before he was fired) and Rolling Stone, using journalistic license and the Bill of Rights (which Moore does not subscribe to) as the standard shield.

In our efforts to be fair and balanced, we tried to find a stock photo of Moore eating vegetables but failed in that effort. All we know for sure is that he's carnivorous. We've spoken to people who have been at parties with Moore but all they have been able to do is confirm our worst suspicions.

Maybe in the end it's best to let America and the world decide whether Michael Moore is a zombie - or not?


Washington DC insiders joined Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the San Francisco dowager queen of liberalism, in an expression of shock at the suggestion that she might be a zombie (note photo - right). Many insiders question whether the expression of shock is legitimate or not, given the number of surgical procedures that she's had. The photo (right) was taken before her lips were puffed by surgical means to hide zombie fangs, or so some conservative lobby efforts suggested to Virtual Mirage
According to Robert Farrell, long time Pelosi friend, "This is just one more lame attempt to pull Congresswoman Pelosi out of the closet and it's not going to work."

Zombies need to have constant care given to preserve their human-like
appearance.  We can't confirm that Rep. Pelosi is a zombie but if it walks
and quacks like a duck...


Some people defended Michael Moore and some defended Congresswoman Pelosi, but we couldn't find a single person in our Washington Survey who didn't feel as though DNC Chairwomyn Debbie Wasserman Schultz was alive. 

"Of course, Chairwomyn Wasserman is a zombie," Assistant New York Caucus spokesperson Barry Bloomberg told Virtual Mirage. When asked to elaborate, he cited the need for her husband, Rep. Anthony Weiner to 'sext' to satisfy his male needs. Zombies become gender neutral when they undergo the transformation. She scares the hell out of children and that's the first sign of a zombie. They don't fool children or pets. Voters on the other hand, seem to be easily misled."

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Practical Approaches to Zombie Problems

1. Zombie-power

Combined with other measures, this is one solution to your zombie issues. Recognize that these are treadmills, stationed about the house. 

In a post-apocalyptic situation, the zombie-powered treadmills may be used to generate electricity. "Let the walkers walk" is the concept here and it makes perfect sense.

2. Remember the Rules

Yes there are rules
  • Don't use the elevator in a zombie infested building.
  • Don't leave machetes and baseball bats around where zombies might find them.
  • I don't care if she used to be your girlfriend, or if he was your best friend, if they're bitten or killed by zombies, the only way you'll see them again is as zombies, save yourself the pain, and put a slug in their head now. 
  • The best refuge is a Costco that is located next to a Cabellas or Bass Pro Shop. You can live on the bounty of the Costco once you've cleared the place of zombies and raid the archery, firearms and ammunition supply at Cabellas or Bass Pro. 
  • Only allow attractive women to find refuge with you in 'your' Costco. You will need to rebuild the human race and you don't want ugly kids growing up to be ugly adults. Sacrifice is called for here. With food in short supply, you will need to abandon the traditional 1:1 ratio of men to women if you plan to repopulate the planet with non-zombies. Men should experiment here with a 1:2+ ratio to find the ideal balance.

3. Don't be a Hater

Zombies used to be your friends, neighbors and even your own family.  

The exception would of course be found if a high school aged normal girl ran onto a zombie who used to be a cheerleader who stole her boyfriend. Then it's ok to hate. It goes for ex-spouses or annoying in-laws as well.

Ok, there are other circumstances. If your former boss is a zombie and he/she wasn't fair with you, it's ok to hate.

Politicians turned zombie (Nancy Pelosi comes to mind) are free game for hatred.

It's fine to revenge yourself against current zombies who used to tick you off on a regular basis before the apocalypse. But the normal zombies have to be treated like every other zombie - bullet or arrow to the head, or use a machete to simply decapitate without prejudice, fear or favor.

4. Appropriate Pre-apocalyptic Behavior

While it's perfectly normal and even advisable to stock up on Zombie tools now, it's not "progressive" and if you do it in places like New York, Connecticut or California, you shouldn't advertise it.  Remember the first rule of "fight club"? - You don't talk about fight club.

So-called progressives are humans in the process of transforming into zombies, so you won't have to worry about them for long. Soon, they'll be walking around your house on treadmills, keeping your lights on. It's fair play and payback for all of the money they drained from you in the name of social programs.

When you see Michael Moore, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz or Hanoi Jane Fonda pontificating on the television, simply smile in the sure knowledge that they've joined the ranks of the un-dead but simply don't know it yet.

Is it time to END Affirmative Action?

The American People elected Barack Hussein Obama to two terms as President of the United States. His race is half negro and half white, but he identifies publicly as being a black man. Thus we count him as the first black president. The content of his character doesn't matter for the purpose of this discussion. Only his skin pigment.

The US Supreme Court is poised to rule on affirmative action and racial discrimination. I personally feel that the society is sufficiently color blind as to no longer require beneficial quotas for people based on their skin pigment or lack of same. The court will consider two cases. A Texas case involves a white student who was denied admission to the University of Texas because of her race. She was qualified in every academic sense and based on every other measurable criteria. She simply had the misfortune not to be a negro. 
(Fox News) The dispute over affirmative action in Michigan has its roots in the 2003 Supreme Court decision that upheld the use of race as a factor in university admissions. That case concerned the University of Michigan law school. 
In response to the court's 5-4 decision in that case, affirmative action opponents worked to put a ballot measure in front of voters to amend the state constitution to outlaw preferential treatment on the basis of race and other factors in education, as well as government hiring and contracting. In November 2006, 58 percent of Michigan voters approved the measure.
Should the law of the land continue to require preferential treatment based on placing one race over another? Or should the law be colorblind?

What do you think?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Chapter 9 Bankruptcy: Stockton, California

It's a trend that began with Orange County, California, continued with the City of San Bernardino and will not end there. The City of Stockton is headed for Federal Bankruptcy Court to seek protection under Chapter 9.

We spent like the good times would go on forever,"
said Stockton spokeswoman Connie Cochrane.

The sad truth is that cities, counties and states need to balance their budgets. President Obama said last week that he had no particular interest in balancing the US Budget. The US is able to continue to print money as if it stole it. But that's not Stockton's story.
Fox News analyzed it this way: "It was like refinancing your house and dumping the proceeds into the Wall Street market and hoping your earnings go up faster than the interest rate on your loan," 
By 2009, the city began slashing its budget to stay afloat. The police department lost 25 percent of its 441 sworn officers and the fire department was cut by 30 percent. City staff was cut by 40 percent. The city general fund budget, now $155 million, has been cut by $90 million over three years. 
The impacts were felt everywhere. Wells Fargo bank seized three parking garages when the city defaulted on the $32 million in bonds that financed them. Bond holders also seized the $40 million downtown high rise that was to become City Hall. 
Stockton recorded its highest-ever number of murders in 2011 and 2012, and had three just last Sunday. Last year, an FBI analysis of violent crime made it the 10th most dangerous city in the U.S. Its unemployment rate is 17.5 percent, and it has the third-highest illiteracy rate in the country.
Stockton is not unique by any means and I expect that we will see increasing numbers of municipal bankruptcies as cities and counties are not able to pay their bills. Cook County, Illinois and the City of Chicago could be close on Stockton's heels. 

Voters don't seem to get it, and that's why Barack Obama was elected to four more years as US President. Socialism ends when you run out of other people's money to spend on votes and goodies.

On December 6, 1994, the County of Orange filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. County officials believed this action was necessary because of market losses to the Orange County Investment Pool (OCIP) estimated at the time to exceed $2,500,000,000.  
Due to a favorable selling environment, the actual losses were later tabulated at about $1,500,000,000. The OCIP had been leveraged to $21 billion dollars.  
Subsequently, the Orange County (CA) District Attorney’s Office opened an investigation to determine criminal culpability. The scope of the investigation was designed to examine whether or not a crime(s) occurred in connection with events that culminated with the bankruptcy filing.  
 This publication is a historical account of the largest municipal bankruptcy (at date of this publication) in the history of the United States of America.
Yes it's a shameless plug for one of my books but I ran this investigation so I do know a bit about municipal bankruptcy and about the matter of cause and effect in this regard. The book is a dry read and discusses in detail how and why. $4.99 on Kindle.

Irresponsibility by government leaders has consequences.

Spending it as if you stole it has consequences.

We've become a nation drunk on other people's money and the symptoms are everywhere.

Your Sunday Sermonette

It's not up to YOU to judge your enemies. That's God's department. 

And while it is not Christmas (there are 275 shopping days left until Christmas), I sense a need for some motivation out there in the blogosphere.

I realize that this clip is politically incorrect now that American leadership has shifted and we embrace a form of communism/utopian socialism as the ideal for which we strive. But since I'm old fashioned and it's my blog...well you get it.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

New York's Firearms Bounty

Historically, there have always been groups which politicians felt comfortable demonizing. Sometimes they were religious minorities who had been able to amass money - the Jews come to mind and it wasn't only the Germans of Hitler's regime who looted Jews to fill the exchequer (consider the Passover that begins next week). Kings, rulers and potentates had been doing it to the Jews for centuries. Hitler is only the most famous of the bunch in our present era.

In his blog, Libertarian Advocate (LINK) points out that Governor Cuomo has announced a program where people can denounce people suspected of owning firearms. The State of New York is currently offering a bounty of $500 for a firearm owner. The next step will be to develop a program where those firearm owners will be stripped of their land and bank account for the purpose of filling the Party's coffers, enabling them to buy more votes. (more from USA Today) The amazing part is that there is no significant outrage. Not even from Jews, who (paragraph one) have been the poster children for this sort of behavior for millennia.
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew. 
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
- Martin Niemoller
And lest you think that it's beyond the government's reach...think again. The Constitution doesn't mean all that much to the people in power.

It's important to demonize portions of the population who are "subhuman" or "not progressive" and to slap labels on them such as "sovereign citizen" and to make those labels stick. The trend in America among certain groups in power is to do just that. Taken as a whole, it forms a disturbing trend.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Are Sovereign Citizens Criminals?

Perhaps the question, "are sovereign citizens criminals," needs a finer definition before we can answer it.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation classifies "sovereign citizens" as criminals and subjects of an intensive counterterrorism campaign. Read more HERE. I'm not going to cherry pick the FBI definition, but the use of 'sovereign citizen' to define people who engage in fraud and other criminal behavior is unfortunate.

The US Constitution is the law of the land. That document provides various levels of sovereignty to the Federal Government, through the Tenth Amendment to the State Governments (ignored by the Federal Government) and to county, city, township and village leaders. Each has a jurisdiction or sovereignty accorded to them. 

The English Common Law adaptation of 'every man's home is his castle' was particularly applied by the Fourth Amendment and the right to keep and bare arms was accorded to allow each citizen to protect themselves as necessary. Those are aspects of personal sovereignty. All Americans are sovereign citizens. 

Thus we return to the 300,000 Americans that the FBI says are either hard core criminals or are courting the idea. Are Constitutionalists all criminals? I'll let you slice that any way that your conscience allows you to. People are best defined by their actions. Those who prey on the weak or disobey for the sake of criminal conduct are criminals. Those who have a moral affirmation to their nationality or their oath of office may not be. 

One litmus test that seems to be commonly applied to the 'sovereign citizen movement' is that they don't want to pay taxes - and avoid them where possible. If that is the test, then there are a lot of progressives (including the Secretary of the Treasury), corporations and Democratic Party contributors who should be lumped in to the mix. 

Perhaps the US Department of Justice and US Department of Homeland Security could find a better common name for extremist criminals other than loosely tagging them all as "Sovereign Citizens".

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Weapon Review - Mustard Gas

This continues an intermittent series on weapons that are particularly adaptable to Special Operations Low Intensity Conflict (SOLIC) situations or so-called 'zombie wars'. There are a number of weapons that are easy to both make and use in these small wars/guerrilla conflicts. Some, such as mustard gas was used as recently as 2009 against the Tamil Tigers who were in rebellion against the Sri Lanka Government. Because it's comparatively easy to make, motivated rebels too, can manufacture and deploy blistering agents.

Mustard gas was first discovered in 1822, but it was weaponized much later, first by the German army (World War 1) against British soldiers near Ypres, Belgium in 1917. The Allies did not use mustard gas for another six months. 

Any moderately competent chemist can make 'mustard gas' in a rudimentary laboratory. The beauty of a blistering agent such as mustard gas is that victims exposed to mustard gas rarely suffer immediate symptoms, and mustard-contaminated areas may appear completely normal, victims can unknowingly receive high dosages. 

Siri Lanka: The government used mustard gas against the
Tamil rebels in 2009. 
You can see the impact of a moderate exposure
in the photo above.
Within 24 hours of exposure to mustard agent, victims experience intense itching and skin irritation, which gradually turns into large blisters filled with yellow fluid wherever the mustard agent contacted the skin. These chemical burns are very debilitating. Mustard gas vapor easily penetrates clothing fabrics such as wool or cotton, so it is not only the exposed skin of victims that gets burned. If the victim's eyes were exposed then they become sore after which the eyelids swell, resulting in temporary blindness. 

At very high concentrations, if inhaled, mustard agent causes bleeding and blistering within the respiratory system. Depending on the level of contamination, mustard gas burns can vary between first and second degree, though they can also be every bit as severe, disfiguring and dangerous as third degree burns. Severe mustard gas burns (i.e. where more than 50% of the victim's skin has been burned) are often fatal, with death occurring after some days or even weeks have passed. 

Mild or moderate exposure to mustard agent (photo above) is unlikely to kill, though victims require lengthy periods of medical treatment and convalescence before recovery is complete. The mutagenic and carcinogenic  effects of mustard agent mean that victims who recover from mustard gas burns have an increased risk of developing cancer in later life.

Different types of Mustard Gas style blister agents.
ChemicalCodeTrivial nameCAS numberPubChemStructure
Bis(2-chloroethyl)sulfideH/HDMustard505-60-2PubChem 10461Sulfur mustard.svg
1,2-Bis-(2-chloroethylthio)-ethaneQSesquimustard3563-36-8PubChem 19092Sesquimustard.svg
Bis-(2-chloroethylthioethyl)-etherTO-mustard63918-89-8PubChem 45452O-Mustard.svg
2-Chloroethyl chloromethyl sulfide2625-76-52-Chlorethylchlormethylsulfid.svg

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Weapon Review - Claymore Mine

This begins an intermittent series on weapons that are particularly adaptable to Special Operations Low Intensity Conflict (SOLIC) situations or so-called 'zombie wars'.

The M18A1 mine is primarily a defensive weapon. It may be employed to a limited extent in certain phases of offensive operations. The M18A1 has the same basic capabilities as antipersonnel mines and can be used in most situations where other types of antipersonnel mines are employed. In addition, the M18A1 has the capability of being sighted directionally to provide fragmentation over a specific area and does not necessarily rely upon chance detonation by the enemy. The M18A1 is adaptable for covering the ranges between maximum hand grenade throwing distance and the minimum safe distance of mortar and artillery supporting fires.

The front face containing the steel fragments is designed to produce a fan-shaped spray which can be aimed at a prescribed target area. The picture above is of the earlier M18 (notice there is no peep sight for sighting the weapon when you emplace it). 
One of the benefits of using a Claymore mine is that it can be command detonated electrically by an M57 firing device or it can be activated remotely by a target (booby trap). These weapons are particularly effective in a wooded environment when they are strung in trees, firing down on an enemy and detonated simultaneously.

"A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition." – Rudyard Kipling

Monday, March 18, 2013

Cougar MRAP vs Navistar MRAP

If the US Army's Cougar MRAP is a wolf, the US Department of Homeland Security's Navistar is more like your family pet dog.

The US Army is phasing out their Cougar 6x6 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle - and they're being transferred to the US Marine Corps.

Cougar MRAP
While the Cougar MRAP is far more survivable than the venerable HUMVEE, as you can see below, they don't hold up all that well against a roadside bomb. I suspect that is why they're going to the US Marine Corps. The Marines have a history of inheriting equipment from the Army. (LINK - Download a brochure)

Cougar MRAP vs Improvised Explosive Device (Iraq)

The US Department of Homeland Security has a far less capable MRAP as seen below. They currently have sixteen of these urban assault vehicles (not 2,700 as has been reported). (LINK - View a brochure)

Navistar MRAP - the choice of the Department of Homeland Security

MRAP vehicles are good in urban environments or in many desert environments, but they are so very heavy that they bog down easily in mud or in wet/forest environments. As with any piece of equipment, they have advantages and weaknesses. The weight of metal that protects them also acts against them in some situations, bogging them down. Neither can they operate in high urban threat environments where their opposition is armed with rocket propelled grenades (RPG-7) or other armor-defeating munitions, unless dismounted infantry moves through they area before they do and clears it of insurgents.

In most law enforcement situations, (zombie war scenario) where their opponents are untrained and/or lightly armed, the Navistar and Cougar MRAP's are fine - and they do represent a less mobile but far better protected choice than a Humvee.

Up-Armored Humvee - in many situations a better choice than an MRAP

The Humvee handles much better on icy or slick roads, on muddy roads and on terrain that is difficult to negotiate (rocky, steep, etc). The Homeland Security Navistar MRAP is designed to move along America's paved roads and flat graded roads. The Humvee can cross rural bridges that the Navistar would collapse because of its weight (and end in the river). Escape from a Navistar that ended up on the bottom of a river would be difficult as people struggle to exit through the very narrow back door. And ten guys would be fighting to get through that door as water pours in. The Navistar's weakest point is its roof, which is less heavily armored that the flanks or the bottom. They don't expect anyone to throw an IED, drenched in adhesives, onto the roof or to have somebody sink an RPG into them from above (tall building or a mountain terrain environment). 

  • The Navistar is very effective in an urban environment where the zombies are armed with small caliber weapons and are not prepared to confront an armored vehicle. 
  • The Navistar's blind spots, weak(er) roof and vulnerability to IED's and rocket propelled grenades means that it can't operate in an urban environment without dismounted infantry who would have to clear an area that it would transit through.
  • The Navistar is a poor choice for a rural environment where the weight of the vehicle acts against it (ice/snow/mud/terrain). Zombies in the woods would pose a problem for the Navistar.

The Tilted Kilt - Orange CA (Review)

Tag Line: “A cold beer never looked so good.”®

Preparing for St. Patrick's Day
It's not Hooters, but the women who work there are just as pretty and by all accounts, the food tastes better. I have only been to the Tilted Kilt located at 1625 West Katella Avenue, Orange, CA.

After the fights, the UFC crew likes to swing by and insure that kilts are still tilted.

The atmosphere is fun and the Tilted Kilt gets huge marks for staff attitude. On St. Patrick's Day they had 150 waitresses on the property to insure that everyone received their drinks and snacks promptly. That's something you NEVER see at an Irish Bar on St. Patrick's but they pulled it off. 

I wondered how they did it, so I hung around and watched management's attention to detail, tweaking here and adjusting there (not kilts - the operation). They stayed on top of everything and didn't fall prey to the pattern many bars follow where management is more interested in being cool than in running the place.

My rating:  MUST VISIT - High Marks

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dealing with Defined Benefit Government Pensions

A defined benefit pension plan is one in which an employer/sponsor promises a specified monthly benefit on retirement that is predetermined by a formula based on an employees' earning history, tenure and age.
In the private sector, defined benefit plans are often funded exclusively by employer contributions. For very small companies with one owner and a handful of younger employees, the business owner generally receives a high percentage of the benefits. In the public sector, defined benefit plans usually require employee contributions.
A defined contribution pension plan is one in which the formula for computing the employer and employee contribution is known but the benefit is not. It is defined by the rate of return that the investment earns in a mutual fund or other investment vehicle.

The problem that arises with state and local pension plans is that the public employee labor unions contribute heavily to the politicians who vote employee raises and pension benefits. It would be simple to eliminate the problem of run-away pension expenses. 
Enact a law where no public employee or their representative can contribute either directly or indirectly to any politician who determines their salary or benefits.
However, before you get carried away with why that's a great idea for the public, it's not a great idea for politicians.  Your elected representatives milk those public employee unions. Remember that everything that a politician acquires by way of campaign contributions - they keep when they leave office. Therefore, the legal practice of bribery is the grease that keeps politicians rolling in clover. And they are unlikely to pass any law that effectively destroys their income. It's not just what they are paid in salary and it's not only what they are able to keep in the way of graft or earn as 'honorariums'. They keep the money that the unions throw at them. The relationship is symbiotic because it benefits both the politicians and the labor unions.

Historically, defined benefit pensions tend to become a form of Ponzie scheme over time, requiring that government grow, and the contributions to the pension system to grow, in order to keep a defined benefit system paying out. The "cost" of a defined benefit plan is not easily calculated and even with the best analytic support the cost of a defined benefit plan will always be an estimate based on economic and financial assumptions. These assumptions include the average retirement age and lifespan of the employees, the returns to be earned by the pension plan's investments, and any "raids" on pension funds by greedy government.

Defined contribution plans pay what the money earns. If the yield is better the pension is better, but its return is completely at the whim of market forces. Thus your "fixed income" could tank if the market tanked.

Run-Away Public Employee Pensions

The Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs contributed heavily to the election campaigns of members of the County Board of Supervisors who voted their salaries. Everything they did was legal. 

Case Study: Orange County v. Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (AOCDS)

The basic underlying facts of the Orange County pension case are straightforward. The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved an amended AOCDS contract in December 2001 that increased union members’ pension from a “2% at 50” formula to a “3% at 50” formula. This allowed members to receive on retirement the product of 3% of their last year’s salary, times their total number of years worked. Thus, with the stroke of a pen, the County instantly accrued approximately $100 million of additional, unfunded pension liability. This liability was based on years the union members had already worked, and they were required neither to make additional contributions nor to perform additional work in exchange for their 50% increase in pension benefits for those years.

Eight years after that was enacted, the County brought suit against AOCDS and the County Pension System because it said that prior elected officials violated provisions of the California Constitution that prohibited indebtedness. The County wanted to reduce the pensions granted under the plan that they had unanimously approved for people currently receiving pensions. In most cases people decided to retire under a set of financial circumstances that the County put in place and they relied on the good faith of the contract they had with the County.

The County lost in Superior Court, the State District Court of appeals and the California Supreme Court, spending $6 million in taxpayer dollars for an empty bag.

I'm not going into the legal details of the arguments except to cite the result (above). 

What the California courts did in unison was to explain to counties that their decisions are binding, even if there may have been a technical violation of the California Constitution (which in theory would have voided the employment contract). The courts held that there was no Constitutional violation but they stretched a long way to do it. However, they acted in unison, both conservative judges/justices and liberal judges/justices.

We take away from this that once people have retired under a specific formula with a specific contract, the government can't come back later and change the playing field. Even though it's a California case, it is a precedent that has national implications.

Supervisor John Moorlach led the charge against the labor union and against the retired county employees. Moorlach, is believed by many who have had personal experience dealing with him to be emotionally 'unhinged'. He's a bright guy. I won't take that away from him, but the common sense factor gene may be missing. And despite his continual howling about how ethical he is -- I have serious questions. He now plans a run for Governor of California to further his political ambitions. 

I personally feel that Mr. Moorlach "Peter Principled" out when he rose to the position of Orange County Supervisor. Instead of climbing on the backs of retired people with a political coup, Moorlach had his trousers handed to him by the courts.

Note that the Orange County Officials and Mr. Ethics, Supervisor Moorlach didn't move to make contributions to themselves from labor unions illegal...