Two ex-Yugoslavian Pistol Families

While most people associated CZ with the Česká Zbrojovka, specifically, these days, with CZ-UB (as the original CZ trademarks have traveled around a little), occasionally you’ll see a CZ that is not a CZ. One of these is the CZ-99 (and its successor, the CZ-999). These pistols were not produced by a Czech firm at all, but by the former Yugoslav firm Zastava Arms (formerly Cervena Zastava) in Kragujevac, Serbia.

The CZ-99 was intended to be the Model 1989 of the Yugoslav Army. Instead, soon after production began, the country went out of business. According to legend, the gun got the CZ-99 moniker in the United States because of a typo on an ATF form (99 for 89) and hopes of exploiting the public’s goodwill towards the CZ-75 and its successors.

Only a handful were imported before a 2003 embargo on Serbian goods, but the Serbian sanctions have since been lifted and exportation to the USA resumed.

It has a modified SIG manual of arms. Modified in that it has no manual safety, and the slide stop and decocker functions are combines. A single catch works as slide stop and (when the slide is forward) decocker.

The CZ-99 has been replaced, and its successor, available now, is the CZ-999. It retains the CZ-99’s modified SIG manual of arms.

The pistol is available in 9mm and .40 S&W calibers, and (internationally, at least) in several different sizes. The latest variant is the EZ, in EZ9 and EZ40 models for those two calibers and in three sizes from concealment to service pistol. It appears to be the same as the C999, with the addition of a light rail.

Zastava in Kragujevac was long Yugoslavia’s and then Serbia’s state armory, and makes all calibers and types of small arms. According to Zastava’s website, its products are imported by Century to the United States, but none of Zastava’s pistols are listed in Century’s 2016 catalog.

Slovenia != Serbia, Rex != Zastava

A pistol that is sometimes identified as a CZ-99 derivative, but seems to be a closer copy of the SIG P22x series, is the Rex Zero One. The Rex is made by Arex, a Slovenian defense company that is, as far as we know, unrelated to Zastava’s pistol. Here, the imitation of the SIG operating system is more exact. There is a slide-mounted safety which is the one ambi control (the mag release is reportedly reversible). Instead of the ambidextrous slide stop/decocker lever, used on the CZ-99 and its derivatives, the Rex has this lever on the left side only.

While it looks like a SIG, it isn’t. It’s its own thing. To the best of our knowledge, no SIG parts interchange. The Rex appears to be well-made. It sells at a similar price point to other alloy-framed SA/DA pistols from Europe, although availability of spares is nil at this time.

These are all fairly unusual pistols in the USA at this time. Despite their rarity, collector interest is just about nil. These are potential carry guns if priced reasonably, you can get sufficient magazines, and you can make yours fit a SIG holster or have a custom holster made. These things are enough of a pain in the neck that you start to see why someone might throw in the odd-gun towel and get a Glock, when you can get spare mags and holsters seemingly everywhere.

Friday Tour d’Horizon, Week 49

Well, this week we started our Tour d’Horizon, on a timely basis — Sunday! So let’s see if the week has given us good stuff.


I don’t wanna work, I just wanna bang on my gun all day.

We Make “Battlefield I” Come Alive

Kid has come back this week to celebrate a friend’s birthday, to hang out, and to visit some old friends, like his favorite schoolmates, and the people (workers and daily “regulars”) at the church where he worked. Having him around has been a delight. The move to St. Louis with Plaintiff II seems to have helped his health, so there is that.

Our gift to him this birthday was, per his request, the video game Battlefield I, a first-person shooter set in World War I. And one of the things we knew he wanted to do was go to the range. Easily done, right? But we thought we’d do something a little different. We let him handle several World War I guns that we figured featured in the game, and brought a couple out to shoot, along with our carry P-01 and his choice of the ARs.

He got to shoot a 98a and a Lange Pistole 08 (artillery Luger). The 98a was a neat trick as we don’t have one, exactly. However, we have a 1923 vz. 22 made by the Czechoslovak State Armory in Brno, which is where significant amounts of the Mauser tooling (and engineers) went after the Treaty of Versailles idled Oberndorf. A near-clone of the 98a, it was the second rifle made in the factory that had been an Austro-Hungaran repair facility, and it was only made for about a year before the Czechoslovak Army replaced it with a carbine version, the vz. 24. Many of the vz. 22s were exported to Turkey, but this one bears no marks of any service but Czechoslovak.

The headspace and function of the gun was good, apart from the safety, which is stuck in the “fire” position. We had some Yugoslav surplus ball. Kid loved it, and learned why we stressed having it firmly against the pocket of his shoulder on firing, and learned why we keep saying the sights were the one part where the Mauser was not best in the world in 1914. The Luger was less successful. Firing 115 grain ball we had one failure to extract, but Kid had a hard time with it, with several jams. We had a case of 125 grain, and that might have solved our problem, but it was late and we had to police the range while the sun still shone. He’s asked for the AR, but when we unpacked, most of the mags were still loaded. The 200 rounds of Yugo ball were gone.

“I can’t wait till I’m 18 and can buy my own guns!” And he goes forth on this planet, a lover not only of AR and AK, but of the Mauser 98. Call us anytime, Lord: our mission is complete.

German (Blank) Gun Licenses Up Significantly in 2016

Sent by a friend of the blog. From German Wikipedia:

“Im Juni 2016 waren 402.301 kleine Waffenscheine im Nationalen Waffenregister gespeichert. [3] , bis Ende Oktober 2016 wurden 449.000 Dokumente registriert. [4] . Die Anzahl stieg damit deutlich an: im ersten Halbjahr 2016 um 49 %. [3] und bis Oktober um ~63 % im Vergleich zum Vorjahr [4] .”

Auf Englisch:

In June 2016, 402,301 Minor Weapons Licenses were recorded in the National Weapons Register; by the end of October, 2016 449,000 of these documents were registered. The numbers thus increased significantly: in the first half of 2016 by 49%, and through October approximately 63% in comparison to the prior year.

Yes, under half a million weapons card owners in a country of 80 million. This is a rather weird carry license, unique to Germany, that doesn’t cover real guns. The MWL (kleiner Waffenschein) allows the carry of a blank-firing weapon outside of the home. It is a new category, established in 2002. (Any adult German may buy a blank gun, but he needs an MWL to carry it). Blank gun license? Don’t laugh, it’s all they’ve got, in a country where the political ovethead is swelling the population with imported violent criminals and terrorists.

Tracking Point Update

In previous weekly wraps, we included the Vimeo links to the first four shots or “Duels” of the American Sniper Challenge. Tracking Point has been trickling them out (Trickling Point?) to keep people excited about their firearms this holiday season and as of 9 AM Texas time this morning, they were down to just ten of the $14,000 M900 Super Kit (the well-equipped 900 yard .day/night 308 AR) for this Christmas.

Here’s an overview of the Challenge. This should be visible everywhere as it’s a YouTube video:

They were down to ten of the $9,500 5.56mm M700s on the morning of Pearl Harbor day, so you might be SOL on that one already.

Duel 5: Prone (Bipod), Unknown Distance

As of noon today, this was the last of the 13 “Duels” that they’d posted on Vimeo. .(If you’re too impatient to wait for us next Friday, you can keep checking TP’s Vimeo account).

Here’s the link for those of you for whom the embed worketh not (from previous complaints, some Eurostanis):

Gun Stocks update

PreElection closings: RGR 64.40, SWHC 28.45, VSTO 38.94.  [8 Nov 16]
-3 week’s closings: RGR 53.20, SWHC 24.13, VSTO 40.02. [18 Nov 16]
-2 week’s closings: RGR 52.50, SWHC 23.82, VSTO 41.05. [25 Nov 16] [short trading day and week]
Last week’s closings: RGR 50.25, SWHC 21.10, VSTO 39.66. [2 Dec 16]
This week’s closings: RGR 51.95, SWHC 21.25, VSTO 39.05. [9 Dec 16] [as of noon]

Red, in case you were wondering, is not good.

Disclaimer: Your Humble Blogger holds RGR, bought at about 56.40 on 9 Nov. It bottomed in the 40s later that day. We still think it has longterm growth potential, and we like the dividend, but we’ve lost (on paper) thousands of dollars.

Gun Poly-Ticks

Congressional 2A Caucus

A baker’s dozen of Republican Congressmen have founded the 2nd Amendment Caucus. Names at the link. (No word on whether their opposition Democrats will found a “2nd Amendment, but…” caucus). Most of the names on the list come to mind as solid 2A reps, but a previous 2A Caucus collapsed in waffling.

Usage and Employment

The hardware takes you only half way. 

Listen Live to Andrew Branca this weekend!

Andrew sends

On Sunday, December 11 at 8PM Eastern / 6PM Central I will be on the air, LIVE, with Mark Walters of Armed America Radio.  To listen, go to and click on ‘Listen Live.’   It sometimes starts with an advertisement so make sure to tune in a minute or so early.

We don’t see how 8PM Eastern / 6PM Central works, as the two time zones are only an hour apart, but whatever. We strongly recommend his book, live seminars, and instructor program, all of which we’ve spent our own money on. This is instruction that can save you life, not in the sense that tactical training is, but in the sense that a life spent reenacting the pre-escape scenes of The Shawshank Redemption is not much of a life. One screwup in self defense can land you in the sights of a prosecutor, and in the stripes of a convict.

Quick Thinking!

A quick-thinking woman, held hostage by a flipped-out husband, managed to save herself and her 3-year-old by scrawling “Call 911” on a UPS package being picked up at her home. The UPS driver, alerted, did just that, and sheriff’s deputies soon had the situation resolved without violence. UPS notes that its drivers are trained to, as they saying goes, observe and report.

No, she didn’t use a weapon, but she saved herself.

Cops ‘n’ Crims

Cops bein’ cops, crims bein’ crims. The endless Tom and Jerry show of crime and (sometimes instantaneous) punishment.

Why Police Have Snipers

No, it’s not a two-mile shot, but a typical close-range police sniper shot, and the very one they train for (and that features in 1000 movies): the armed hostage-taker. Three hours into an armed standoff with Tulsa, OK, police, one Salvador Reyes, 42, who didn’t take it well when his wife dropped a cash-out divorce on him and moved a boyfriend in, invaded the house and grabbed a kid a Mom of the Year™ and Captain Coxcomb fled with two other kids.

After some fruitless hours, the armed guy who had been pointing a gun at himself and the kid, stepped out on the balcony, still armed, holding a 2-year-old — not his two-year-old, the current boyfriend’s kid — as a human shield. With a railing around the balcony, the cop took the ballsy decision — and the shot — as soon as Reyes was framed in the door. Reyes dropped, dead as a mackerel.

Here’s the brief PoliceOne take. Here’s a longer report at the Tulsa World. Here’s the YouTube page with an explanation in the description field. The World says the shot was a planned decision:

“If he comes outside, is armed and has the baby, if there’s a clear shot to the head take it,” an officer ordered midway through the standoff, according to a computer-aided dispatch transcript obtained by the Tulsa World.

Now the wife “wins” the divorce, so no doubt she’s happy. It’s easy to see how guys get emotional in situations like this, but Reyes could tell you, if he wasn’t stone cold graveyard dead, that it doesn’t pay.

The cop has a heck of a name, for a cop: Officer Jason Lawless. One small detail buried deep in the Tulsa World story:

When officers arrived, they found Reyes standing in the front yard before he retreated into the residence. He then appeared multiple times on the second-floor balcony and at the front door, each time holding the child and a gun, police said.

Officers tried unsuccessfully to communicate with Reyes, whom a spokesman has said “spoke very little English,” and eventually requested a Spanish-speaking officer. Additional attempts to negotiate in Spanish were ineffective, leading police to opt for a lethal solution.

Just threatening the kids Americans won’t threaten.

When the Cop Was a Crim, I

NYPD PatrolmanRichard Evans, was called “unfit for duty” when supervisors called him back to the 52nd Precinct house in the Bronx after citizen complains he was drunk on duty. A supervisor agreed with the citizens, and suspended Evans — without pay, which the NY Post notes was $126k last fiscal year — on the spot. You know, that scene from every cop movie where the by-the-book supervisor takes the hero’s gun and badge? Only Hollywood’s probably going to give his hero’s life story a miss.

The officer was described by sources as a problem drinker.

One source said he is “really sick and having issues.”

“Nobody’s been able to do anything about it,” another said.

A photo snapped last year shows Evans nodding off in a chair in the station’s locker room with his shirt hiked up, exposing his large gut.

That photo was almost certainly taken by a fellow cop who’s sick of him, and hiked up the shirt for the photo. What’s the over-under on whether the guy got bag-dragged, too?

At least the union is sure to back him up — Evans is a PBA delegate. Evans has complained that he lives “paycheck to paycheck,” despite his high earnings.

Exercise for the reader: get caught exercising your NYC pistol permit (permits from the rest of the state are invalid in the five boroughs) while drunk, and see if you get the gentle treatment Evans has had, so far. What leader lets a drunk get this bad? The passed-out photo’s almost two years old!

Cop Killer Sought Bagged

Wednesday, Georgia police were searching for this guy, Minguell Kennedy Lambrick, in the shooting of two cops in Americus, Georgia. One, an Americus cop, was kiled, and the other a campus officer from a nearby institution who came to back him up, was critically wounded.

How funny, that they already had this mugshot on file for the cop killer. How often does that happen? (Yes, we’re being facetious).

Updates: the wounded officer has also passed away, despite the great efforts of first responders, surgeons, and hospital staff. And the killer, who was not only a career criminal but also had active warrants, killed himself yesterday, when cornered. God damn his soul. The citizen who tipped police to the late unlamented Lembrick’s location may receive  $70k reward.

New G-Rides?

Everyone who follows or has friends in Federal LE knows that of all the agencies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has had the lowest morale (three-hundreth-and-plenty out of all three-hundred-and-plenty agencies, actually), and it doesn’t take an Aristotle to figure out why.

Morale has definitely seen an uptick in the last month, in hopes the the HSI part will #MakeInvestigationsGreatAgain and the ERO part will #GetToDoDeportations&RemovalsAgain. That could happen, but we suspect that the story that they’re all getting these new g-rides is, alas, Fake News.


Nose: “There isn’t a lot of room in the back for detainees… won’t they be uncomfortable?”

SA Not-Authorized-to-Speak-to-Nose: “So?”

NYT: Prisons are Raaaaacist

Because you can’t spell the word without five a’s. The Times’s lengthy beef, to which at least four reporters contributed, is that, statistically, black violent felons aren’t getting paroled as soon or as frequently as white violent felons.

Hey, we know how to make the parole rates of both kinds of violent felons equal out to infinity decimal places. 0.00000000000~%!

The Perils of Kathleen: is now Suspended

For the first time in Christ-knows-how-long, there is nothing in the news about the militantly anti-gun, resoundingly dishonest convicted felon and former Attorney General of the State of Pennsylvania. Her replacement Josh Shapiro, shares her anti-gun sentiment.

Absent other developments, this featurette is suspended until the outcome of her appeal puts her back in the news — and, God willing, back behind bars — again.

When the Cop was a Crim, II

Actually, the Cop was a victim. Of an armed assault by a “paranoid” and possibly drunken FBI agent, Ruben Hernandez, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Fortunately, Hernandez’s bad (drunken?) marksmanship saved the cop, and fortunately for Hernandez, the cop didn’t fire back.

Hernandez is a Vegas-based FBI special agent who was in Michigan pursuing an investigation. Now he is in jail for trying to shoot a cop during an “episode” at a local Planet Fitness.

How To Survive Police Encounters NEW

An infographic for urban yoot.


Small-Time, Small-Mind Vandalism NEW

In the City of Brotherly Love, Duncan Lloyd and his boyfriend, whose identity police are treating with a degree of secrecy the CIA has proven unable to provide for intelligence operations, were out for a stroll in an upscale neighborhood. Lloyd and date were sashaying along, sipping wine from a long-stemmed glass whilst wearing, we are not making this up, an ascot. Lloyd is, and this is relevant to what happens next, “Assistant City Solicitor,” an entry-level lawyer for the city of Philadelphia. (One suspects his presence in the low-rent district of Philadelphia’s legal community suggests either that he’s slumming in hopes of launching a political career, or he didn’t come by his ascot honestly).

What’d Lloyd and his boyfriend do? Says the Philadelphia Inquirer: 

Duncan Lloyd, an assistant city solicitor, was identified in surveillance footage that captured Lloyd and a second man walking along Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill on Nov 25. In the footage, Lloyd is seen wearing a blue blazer and holding a glass of wine, filming or taking photos, while a second man spray paints “F— Trump,” on the wall of a newly opened Fresh Market.

Police released a video which shows Lloyd, wine glass in hand, holding up his cellphone as the second man, described as 20 to 30 years old, 6 feet tall, medium build, and wearing a blue hooded jacket, spray-paints the wall.

Police have estimated the damage at between $3,000 and $10,000.

For those of you who live where fresh food is the norm, the “Fresh Market” is a hipster urban market that lets you virtue-signal by paying more for produce, in a store that has priced the black and brown “masses” out and only has “your kind” of people. If you’re Duncan Lloyd.

So far, the police have been unable to identify the culprits, or, more likely, has been given instructions. Mayor Kenney, who certainly agrees with the sentiments in the graffito, is moving Gaia and earth not to fire his overdressed and undercivil underling.

“It’s still working out. It’s certainly hateful and inappropriate and unacceptable…but people are human beings and they make mistakes and it’s a dumb mistake,” Kenney said. “It’s hateful graffiti, hateful graffiti is never acceptable whether it’s a city employee or not.”

The small and usually demoralized Republican Party in the city had a hoot of a comment, too:

“Did the extra glass of Shiraz give him some sort of delusional confidence that there are no cameras on Germantown Avenue? The taxpayers should be entrusting exactly none of our faith into this man. He should be fired from our city’s Law Department immediately.”

Not going to happen. As we noted, the Mayor basically agrees with him, although he’s not enough of a dumb-ass to go around painting graffiti about it.

The Philly reporter got hold of the 32-year-old Lloyd’s Linked-in account, and reported with some hint of Schadenfreude:

Lloyd, 32, attended Germantown Friends School and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, according to his LinkedIn page. He makes $63,207 a year, working in the Labor and Employment unit, representing the city mostly in federal and state discrimination lawsuits.

No wonder the city always settles or loses those suits.

On his LinkedIn page he wrote of the job, “As a result of these responsibilities, I hear the craziest stories – ones regularly driven by the unreasonable mores of lust, anger, passion, and envy.”

The story he’s wrapped up in now occurred around midnight Friday at the Fresh Market at 8200 Germantown Ave.

Ba-dump THUMP. Still, that was nothing to what another underemployed lawyer, Elie Mystal, the waspish queen of the Above the Law legal snark site, had to say.

When Duncan Lloyd vandalizes your city, it’s part of his larger campaign of finding a way to crawl out from under his covers in the morning. Look at him. LOOK AT HIM. He’s not out here trying to send the children of Trump supporters back to Mexico. He’s not trying to destroy the climate so Jesus can Rapture him to Graceland. He just wants to be able to look his cats in the eye without feeling ineffectual and ashamed. “I made a statement today, Odysseus and Penelope. I’m not going to let this be normalized.”

Mystal, who shares Kenney’s and Lloyd’s politics and attitudes, but not to the point of justifying vandalism, goes on and on. Do Read The Whole Thing™. Few things in life are more entertaining than the meltdown of a sore loser, and hardly any of these guys ever played team sports and learned sportsmanship, including the most crucial lesson, how to lose and come back to win again.

This kind of immature narcissism got them President-Elect Trump. Keep it up and they’ll have Trump through January, ’25.

Unconventional (and current) Warfare

What goes on in the battlezones of the world — and preparation of the future battlefields.

Who’s Spending Israel’s Shekels?

Well, the ones they’re spending in Germany on state-of-the-art conventional submarines from Thyssen Krupp, at least part of them, are going to the terrorists of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, who own “less than five percent” of the German industrial conglomerate. (They used to have a larger share, and a seat on the board. The share is now 4.5% through a holding company, IFIC). The Israeli media are not amused.

Even the Terrorists Know it’s a Sham

The Royal Saudi “Terrorist Rehab” program. You know, the one the USG is desperately packing various bomb-makers, planners, and jihad managers off to, to fulfill a campaign promise to “close Guantanamo”? Yeah, that one. Officially, only one in five returns to terrorism, but even the terrorists themselves have told that it’s really more like an advanced sharia terrorist training camp. Of 134 terrorists sent there, dozens have already returned to jihad against the West and civilization, with the support of their Saudi masters. This report in the New York Post summarizes and expands on the revelations in the terrorist parole documents here.

Speaking of Iranians, they’re Appealing to Friends in High Places

The Iranians have asked President Obama, who’s something more than a good buddy and something less than a controlled agent, to veto the routine extension of the Iranian Sanctions Act. The President can veto the bill, which provides a framework for sanctions on the world’s greatest terrorism exporter, but it would probably be overridden: it passed the Senate. for example, 99-0.

At present, the Act has no teeth because President Obama has unilaterally waived the provisions of the Act, pursuant to his deal to promote Iranian nuclear armament. But existence of the bill on the books would allow any subsequent President (like the one coming in approximately a month) to reinstate the sanctions. (Update — the President signed the bill. Sorry, Hadji).

Secretary of the Navy? Who’s Ze?

In a week that the Little Crappy Ship program was in the news for being over even the latest inflated budget and producing zero, add it up, zero combat power, the Navy focused single-mindedly on its latest mission: Getting everybody to pretend they’re some other sex. Even if they gotta make one up.

Karyn Z. Sproles, PhD, the director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, said there is a demand for “Safe Space” training at the Naval Academy.

“Training is offered because we find that, like all Millennials, this generation of midshipmen is eager to become more educated about issues of gender and sexuality,” she said. “There is a consistent demand by faculty, staff, and Midshipmen for ‘Safe Space’ training, which is regularly offered by the Center for Teaching and Learning.”

They got really awesome teachers, Florin and Marnie.

Florin is a “Diversity Consultant” who has given inclusivity trainings for YouTube, at Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco, and Google offices around the world, including Tokyo and Sidney.

Because yeah, when another nation challenges us at sea we can just get @jack to ban ’em.

“Marnie, who identifies as gender neutral and goes by the prounouns [sic] ‘ze’ or ‘they,’ created their first LGBTQ training as a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa,” according to Florin’s website. “Marnie then worked for the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, where ze organzied [sic] and canvassed for gay marriage.”

Forty-two midshipmen demanded this “safe space” training, apparently. (A few years from now, you’ll always be able to tell the naval officer in a joint operation. Ze’ll be the one in the blue cammies, hiding and sucking zis/zir thumb).

How does a continental power get by without a credible Navy? We’re, uh, asking for a friend. Ze wants to know.

Veterans’ Issues

Is it time to o disband this thing yet, and letting all its bloatoverhead seek its own level in the Dreaded Private Sector™?

Secret VA Hospital Ratings

Some wise guy once said, “Never write when you can speak. Never speak when you can nod. Never nod when you can wink.” The VA keeps writing, and then keeps trying to keep what they’ve been writing secret — most recently, a five-star rating scheme for VA facilities. The secrecy seems to have allowed VA to be quite frank in these internal ratings (unlike the usual .gov tee-ball participation trophy rating schemes, or VA’s PR statements to outsiders). For example, the Phoenix DVA, which has killed more people than the Oakland rave fire, earned its single star.

The documents obtained by USA TODAY list star ratings for every facility for the fourth quarter of 2015. The VA subsequently agreed to provide a list of one- and five-star facilities for the quarter that ended June 30, the most recent ratings available, but declined to identify those with two to four stars.

Undersecretary David Shulkin pointed out that the leak probably damaged attempts to keep the ratings honest, and boasted that:

…all of the one-star facilities have shown improvement except for the VA medical center in Detroit, which has declined

What are they going to do to turn that around?

[M]edical centers where performance has declined are getting extra scrutiny and help from national VA officials. If they still don’t show sufficient progress, hospital management could be replaced.

Don’t hold your breath.

The statistics show a mixed bag:

On average, veterans are dying at lower rates and contracting fewer staph and urinary tract infections from catheters in VA medical centers since 2014. Veterans are not staying as long in VA hospitals and they are being readmitted within 30 days at lower rates.

At the same time, veterans are experiencing higher rates of preventable complications during hospital stays, on average, than they did in 2014. Those on ventilators suffered more problems, such as catching pneumonia, and the rate of turnover for nurses has increased.

The VA’s probably a good place to eliminate civil service and increase manager accountability.

Maybe We’re Doing Managers Wrong

A declared candidate for head of VA, a lawyer named John Wells, thinks Washington isn’t run enough by lawyers. Here’s what he identifies as the cause of the problem:

  • Jim Nicholson, VA Secretary 2005-07 (West Point class of 1961)
  • James Peake, VA Secretary 2007-09 (West Point class of 1966)
  • Eric Shinseki, VA Secretary 2009-14 (West Point class of 1965)
  • Bob McDonald, VA Secretary 2014-17 (West Point class of 1975)

Eh, while that’s quite a list of underperformers, we don’t think their shared Hudson High pedigree is quite the cause. Other than that he is a former Navy officer, not a former Army guy, what Wells has to offer is more involvement by more attorneys, vastly more spending, and no more accountability for insiders than at present.

Then, we could probably do worse — and we probably will.

Lord Love a Duck!

The weird and wonderful (or creepy) that we didn’t otherwise get to. 

Novel Update


Still writing.

Fat Barbie update

The word is the same Hollyweird studio behind Ghostbustettes is going to make a live-action movie based on, we are not making this up, the ever popular doll Barbie. OK… now we see the desperation for a merchandising tie-in inherent in the system… but it was the actress that they want to play Barbie that caught folks’ attention: Amy Schumer.

Heck, it could be a whole series: The Fat and the Furious. 

Because if there’s anything we want our daughters to aspire to, it’s being fat, rude, crude, and, most of all, as abrasive as possible. That way, one day we can visit our grandkittens.

This may not be the blockbuster the studio us hoping for. She’s so horrible, she can even take the fun out of drinking: having her and her male cognate Seth Rogen as spokesmen made a brand of beer unpopular. We’re predicting another ghostbust.

OT: A Czech Collectors’ Item We Don’t Have Yet

This 1962 movie shows the Czech Tatra T602 luxury car, a weird and wonderful beast with a single tube chassis and rear-wheel drive from an air-cooled, rear-mounted overhead valve V8 engine. The car was mostly used as a chauffeur-driven conveyance by high Party mucks, and as a first ride on your way to the uranium mines at Jachymov at the hands of the Statní Bezpečnost, and one with CD diplomatic plates was used by Yasser Arafat to run both weapons and rent boys through the inter-German border, back during the Cold War. It was also sold in the West, which may be why this video was made with partial English titles. The guy playing the driver is a national champion rally driver; the guys playing the cops are really cops, and the cop car that gives ineffectual chase is a lower-rent Tatra.

Watching this video made us look for one to buy. So far, we haven’t. Tatras are weird and wonderful and have their own fans, like Citroëns, and both sets of fans probably need their heads examined. (Yeah, the Citroën box is already checked here. Let’s not do that again).


Armed Self Defense in Wisconsin

Here’s a video from John Correia over at Armed Self Defense (they have a new website, so new it still has greeked text in places! No doubt they’ll fix it. On the downside, the new site has broken all the old ASP links). John talks not about the legalities of the situation, but about the tactical decision making by the defender. Most of the decisions are good, in that the defender and the bystanders didn’t get shot or dead, but as always there are lessons to be learnt from what he did wrong as well as what he did right.

Note that he got something tyro hunters are warned against: “buck fever!” In this case he didn’t have a nice eight-pointer in his sights (they always grow a few points when you miss or don’t get the shot off, don’t they?) but a guy who could have actually killed him. John has other videos where things don’t end well for the licensee or undercover cop when the criminal has the drop on him.

We never draw a pistol without hearing Paul Poole’s voice: “Bwaw-haw-haw! Dumbass dry-fired in a firefight! Bwaw-haw-haw, you’re daid!” This guy didn’t end up “daid,” but if the criminal had been less of a bozo than the usual run of his ilk, he might have been. One begins to see the appeal of safetyless Glocks. (Well, we’re on the side of the angels with a decocker-only DA/SA. And yeah, that means doing lots of controlled pair drills DA first).

At 3:28 in the video, John is explaining that Our Hero is monkeying with his safety, but also, look where he is, where his attention is, and where the robber is. Are there two robbers?! He’s face down in the mechanics of the gun — people, that old military thing of handling the gun blindfolded, assembling it inside a laundry bag, etc. is not hazing but valuable training — while the guy who pushed up the adjacent aisle is behind him at his approximate 7 o’clock. Meanwhile, one guy is in front of him, off camera to our right (defender’s left). It was a near run thing. 

He did well to holster his sidearm after firing (no doubt, police are responding, and you do not want to have it in your hand when they arrive). His decision to follow the criminal towards the door was arguable, but we call it a mistake. A robber, confronted by armed force, is not coming back. He’s running, and probably in soiled pants. Remember, chasing these guys is not your problem. It’s why Officer Friendly gets the big bucks (hah). When the bad guy bolts, your mission, to protect your, your family’s and (maybe) others’ lives, is complete.

The criminal here made some really bad decisions (apart from the obvious one of being a criminal). The first is trying to take on, solo, a group of people in a broken-up space, with multiple entrances, exits, and points of cover and concealment. Probably not the first time this Wealth Redistribution Technician has done that. (In our limited experience, robbers tend to pick one kind of venue to rob — banks, groceries, sandwich shops, small-time dope dealers, convenience stores — and stick to it until their Robin Hood life gets harshed by the agents of the Sheriff of Nottingham, or wherever). Every time this brain-dead robs a place like this he’s rolling the dice that there won’t be a guy like this carrier in here — math that was encouraged by Wisconsin’s former no-carry laws — and this time the dice came up snake eyes.

This case is also interesting because this was the first defensive gun use by a licensed carrier since Wisconsin left the dwindling ranks of no-carry states a couple of years ago. (It was the last holdout, apart from Illinois (since issuing) and DC, although there are still states like New Jersey and some jurisdictions in New York, California and Massachusetts that treat may-issue as de facto no-issue).

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Scissors

Jocelyn Wildenstein, 76, is more usually on the receiving end of an edged weapon, specifically in the hands of a plastic surgeon, than on the giving end. But the rich New Yorker recently lost her temper with her 27-year-younger boyfriend and attacked him with a pair of scissors, slashing his face and chest.

Jocelyn Wildenstein, 76, is accused of clawing her designer boyfriend Lloyd Klein and then slashing his chest with a pair of scissors after flying in to a violent rage at around 1:30am, a source tells Page Six

Klein, 49, was then forced to shove the ‘Bride of Wildenstein’ into a closet to prevent another attack according to sources, before police arrived to take her in.

“Bride of Wildenstein”? Yeah. The plastic surgery pictures explain.

Maybe she just figured the guy would like to be hacked on by a tasteless amateur, like she evidently does.

Wildenstein was arraigned in a Manhattan courtroom on Wednesday night, where she spoke with her boyfriend for 20 minutes before appearing in front of the judge.

She also spent five minutes combing her hair while using her cell phone as a mirror.

Wildenstein has been charged with felony assault with intent to cause physical injury with a weapon and a misdemeanor assault with intent to cause physical injury.

Lifestyles of the rich and pathetic….

Among the men she had been linked with were European filmmaker Sergio Gobbi, Cyril Piguet, and Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi. 

‘I  don’t think I’ve known her when she wasn’t healing from something,’ said a friend of Jocelyn in 1998.

She got a $2.5 Billion settlement from her ex, who no doubt thought getting rid of her was worth every penny.

Their relationship took a turn when Jocelyn returned to New York City from Kenya and showed up unannounced at the couple’s New York City townhouse, despite her husband asking that she not enter the residence.

He pointed a gun at either Jocelyn nor one of her bodyguards, police were called and Alec spent the night in prison.

The family are no strangers to being arrested, then. Indeed, there is an ongoing and a nasty tax-evasion case in France, which may be resolved this year. The case came about when they conspired to cheat one family member’s widow out of her share of his estate, and she found out they’d done it:

Sylvia, sat vigil by his hospital bed until his death on Oct. 23. Two weeks later, she signed away her rights to her late husband’s estate. According to Sylvia, her stepsons—Guy and Alec—had told her the taxes would bankrupt her if she didn’t. It wasn’t until two years later that she hired a lawyer. She eventually filed a lawsuit against Guy and Alec claiming, among other things, that she was bilked out of her inheritance and that the family was sitting on trusts and real estate worth not millions of dollars, but several billion.

There was one time when they did not seem to be arrested at all: in World War II, where they cooperated with the Nazis to loot other art collections.

Georges Wildenstein collaborated with the Nazis, selling paintings to Hitler and allegedly even helping the Nazis locate, through Georges’s representative in Paris, important collections that had been hidden from them.

“It was my father,” Vernay recalls, “who received a call in Nice, and Georges came to see him at the Hôtel Royale at his suite. Georges told him he could be an ‘honorary Aryan’ [the status given to Jews regarded as helpful on key issues]—himself, his wife, my mother’s three brothers—and have a sum in dollars in Switzerland in a special account if we gave the location of our collection. He said he was asked by the Germans to [ask my father for this arrangement].”

The Schloss collection was one of France’s greatest, known for its Dutch and Flemish masters. The family had hidden it in a château in central France but were finally forced to reveal the whereabouts of the collection in April 1943, when the Nazis arrested them.

“My father kicked Wildenstein out and he never came back,” says Vernay. As he remembers it, this meeting took place in early 1941.

According to documents in the U.S. National Archives, the previous November Georges had met in Aix-en-Provence with Hitler’s chief art dealer, Karl Haberstock, and, over a period of “4 or 5 days” he made a deal. The Germans would return to him part of his collection, confiscated by them from a hiding place in a castle in Sourches, and allow one of his trusted non-Jewish employees, Roger Dequoy, to run the Paris gallery. In return, Georges agreed to sell to Hitler and his top officials anything they wanted out of his own stock and to help them find any other artworks they were interested in.

Soon thereafter, Georges left France for New York, with his wife, Jeanne, 23-year-old Daniel and his wife, Martine, and Alec, who had been born in Marseilles several months earlier. While Georges spent the war years in the United States, many of his artworks, as per the agreement, were returned to his Paris gallery. Dequoy, whom one of the American O.S.S. interrogators, Theodore Rousseau, would later identify as “perhaps the worst of the collaborationists among the dealers,” worked hand in hand with Hitler’s art dealer Haberstock. According to accounts based on archival material—in Feliciano’s The Lost Museum and Lynn Nicholas’s award-winning 1995 The Rape of Europa—Dequoy, on behalf of the Wildensteins, sold paintings to Goring and other high Nazi officials and, in one deal that fell through, was ready to take possession of a group of stolen Impressionist paintings that the Nazis, who regarded them as “degenerate art,” were dumping.

After the war, efforts by the French government to bring charges against the Wildenstein firm were rejected by the courts on the ground that there was “no proof of voluntary sales to the enemy,” according to The Rape of Europa. Safely in the United States, Georges “became a champion for restitution,” says Marc Masurovsky, head of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project. Georges wrote an article for a French Resistance magazine in 1943 denouncing collaborationist art dealers—a tour de force of denial, many in the art world thought. “I think Georges almost believed he did not collaborate,” says Masurovsky. “He made himself a victim.”

But despite their trailer-trash behavior, values, ethics, Nazi-collaborator past, and, well, deportment, they have money, and that’s all the transnational/Acela-corridor types care about.

“Nobody’s done as well as the Wildensteins in terms of cash and power and, in a way most important of all, respectability,” says art historian John Richardson. “Nobody.”

Respectability. Really?


Maybe it was a beautiful thing while it lasted, but her (somewhat lightly punctured) coin-operated boyfriend wants out of the relationship:

The glamorous duo…

Glamorous? When did that word come to mean tawdry and vulgar?

…have been dating since 2003 but the relationship is now over because Klein considers Wildenstein a ‘ticking time bomb’. 

‘She can go blow up anytime, anywhere and with absolutely no reason,’ said a source close to the couple.

‘He says she is truly a beautiful person when she’s on her best behavior. But when she flies into one of her incredible rages – look out.’

It must be an inner beauty. She looks like a reanimated corpse — like Frankenstein’s monster would look if he hadn’t had to be beautified for the movies.

Wildenstein and Klein are believed to have enjoyed a meal Tuesday evening before the wealthy divorcee accused him of spending too much time on social media.

‘They had a relaxing dinner, everything was normal then Jocelyn suddenly got angry as she often does,’ said the source.

‘Lloyd was using his laptop and evidently not paying her enough attention. So she screamed at him to get off the computer then picked up a lit candle and threw the hot wax all over him.

Enough people grovel to rich people long enough, and it produces this behavior.

‘He was very scared…

Now, there’s a real man for you, terrified of a 100-lb. septuagenarian woman whose osteoporosis is so advanced it’s even reached her face. 

…he asked her to calm down but she just got angrier and angrier and threatened to kill him.

Yeah. Has asking an enraged woman to calm down ever worked?

He’s lucky he didn’t tell her, “You’re so cute when you’re angry.” She’d still be spinning like Taz the Tasmanian Devil.

‘She then went at his face with her nails, which are real and very sharp, before finally grabbing some scissors and stabbing them twice into his chest.’

OK, that comes across as crazy. But how crazy is she, really? She attacked the expendable guy, not one of the priceless paintings for which the family sold its small shriveled souls to Hitler.

Of course, he’ll expect her to keep him in the style to which he has become accustomed.

In 1918, the US Declared War. On Squirrels.

The BEST Squirrel is the Dead Squirrel — 1918 propaganda points.

War just doesn’t get any more unconventional than this. This bizarre and one-sided battle has just been profiled at some length in Pajamas Media. It did tie in to the WWI war effort, by arguing that the bushy-tailed rats devastated farm production and threatened the economy and war effort. The attack on several species of California ground squirrels, in what was then a predominantly rural, agrarian state in a similarly rural, agrarian country, produced its own propaganda:

Here’s a taste of the article.

For practical application, a poison barley recipe was included.

“Kill the Squirrel” cartoons, essentially propaganda, were also created depicting squirrels as German soldiers wearing spiked helmets and iron crosses. The father squirrel wore a upturned mustache, much like Kaiser Wilhelm’s. The Four-Minute-Men, volunteers who delivered four-minute speeches to garner support for the war efforts, had talking points designed to convince ranchers and farmers to kill the “little ally of Kaiser.” They included:

  • The BEST squirrel is the dead squirrel.
  • The Hotel California board bill for ground squirrels in 1917 […] was $30,000,000—yet unpaid.
  • The squirrel does not recognize daylight saving. He uses it all.
  • He preys on our crops in countless hordes. He fills the ranks of the killed in true military fashion.
  • Why hesitate? We can get ‘em. How? Poison ‘em, gas ‘em, drown em’, shoot ‘em, trap ‘em, submarine ‘em.
  • Are you not willing then to give your whole-hearted support to this state-wide movement to KILL THE SQUIRREL?

By the end of Squirrel Week, children had handed in over 104,509 tails, marking the effort as a huge success.

You Californians probably didn’t know this about your squirrel-cidal ancestors. A propaganda flyer also  instructed readers on squirrel characteristics and behavior, and advised them to stop killing natural squirrel predators, such as snakes and raptors, in order to enlist Nature’s red fang and claw in the Squirrelcaust.

We do recommend you Read The Whole Thing™. The propaganda is reminiscent of some of the mobilizations or campaigns of totalitarian nations, such as Nazi Germany or Red China.

ICE Pistol Decision: SIG 320

When we first saw the ICE Pistol solicitation, we confidently said it had been written for the S&W M&P. On 30 Mar 15 our headline was: How To Sole-Source a Contract: ICE’s Next Pistol, S&W M&P. This produced an indignant response from an individual we believe to be associated with the ICE firearms office, the Office of Firearms and Tactical Programs (OFTP):

Read the draft SOW. Carefully this time. Words have meaning.

By this he probably meant that some of the characteristics that we believed would be used to exclude Glocks and SIGs, were OFTP’s “nice to have” preferences, not “must have” requirements. Further responding to our post, he wrote:

This is absolute nonsense and hype. Just about all the big names in military grade handguns now have at least one model that can meet the requirements of the SOW.

We followed up that post the same day with a correction: CORRECTION: ICE Bosses Deny Shooting for S&W, in which we said:

[I]nsiders say that we were totally wrong — not about whether they had written the contract with one particular gun in mind a cursory read of the specs makes it pretty clear they did just that. Nope, we were wrong about exactly what handgun they were trying to buy.

OFTP wrote they spec, so they thought, to explicitly exclude everything but the SIG P320 Compact.

A third post in October, 2015, ICE New Pistol Solicitation Proceeds, noted that OFTP was seen, rightly or wrongly, by the rank and file as an outpost of SIG fanboys (this may have been largely a function of unhappiness with the issue SIG P229 DAK):

Despite the fact that new rumors are being stirred up, there isn’t a whole lot to add here to the post we wrote in March and the correction that ICE OFTP asked of us at the time (although it’s embarrassing to see the incomplete sentences and paragraphs on those hasty posts. Ow).

Many ICE agents prefer the Glock platform, and retain a deep distrust of an agency firearms bureaucracy, the Office of Firearms and Tactical Programs (OFTP). OFTP is perceived — rightly or not — as so biased towards SIG as to practically be in the pocket of the firm. The current issue weapon is the SIG P229 DAK, but it is broadly disliked and many agents carry one of the approved personally owned models instead, most often Glocks. (That the G19 — Glock’s 9mm in the general form factor of the P229 — has never been approved for personal or off-duty carry by OFTP is seen by agents as more evidence of SIG boosterism).

Since that date, there have been a number of changes in the approved off-duty pistol list.

Is this what they want? The SIG P320 family. The compact is the “Goldilocks” midsize — about the same size as a G19.

The latest rumor in the ranks is that the decision is in, and it’s the SIG P320. The P320 is SIG’s polymer-framed, striker-fired modular pistol.

Specifics we have been told by One Who Should Know:

  1. OFTP has selected a new weapon.
  2. Weapon selected is the Sig P320 in 9mm (not clear what form factor(s) or interchangeable frames will be involved. Probably the mid-sized version).
  3. The 320s will come on line, starting with issue to new agents in initial entry training, in the current fiscal year (FY 2017 runs from 1 Oct 16 to 30 Sep 17).
  4. No caliber other than 9mm will be approved for the 320, for on- or off-duty carry.
  5. In fact, all .40 cal pistols are going off the approved list. No idea whether current carriers are grandfathered or when this happens.
  6. Sig MPX to be issued as a warrant-service gun, g-ride carbine, etc., in FY 2018. This will also be in 9mm. Presumably this was a sweetener in the handgun package.

Given ICE’s thousands of armed plainclothes agents, this a very large win for SIG.

Assuming that this information is better than our original certainty that the fix was in for S&W. We were wrong about that.

Additional Information

Back in 2014, we were bemused by the short list of approved off-duty weapons for HSI (it has changed since).

Guard Guys Go to Jail

handcuffs_1OK, only one of ’em is going to jail, the other walks with time served.

U.S. District Judge James Lorenz sentenced Andrew Reyes of La Mesa to one year and a day in custody, and Jaime Casillas was given credit for time served.

What’d they do?

Both pleaded guilty in January to one charge of dealing in firearms without a license. Reyes also pleaded guilty to three charges of unlicensed transportation of firearms.

Hmmm… not good. The guilty pleas suggest that they were up against some serious time, and they were.

Court records say Reyes sold an AK-47 rifle and three AR-15 rifles between September 2014 and March 2015 to an Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent working undercover and posing as a member of a Mexican drug cartel.

Casillas sold a .40-caliber pistol and an AR-15 to the agent in August and October 2014, according to court records.

It looks like the agent or informant asked them to buy guns, and they did (the story’s vague about it, but the guns did not come from Guard stocks). If someone asks you to do something like that, just say no. If he’s a sudden new BFF who’s appeared in your life, he’s probably an informant or agent… and if he’s an old buddy, he probably got his thingie in the wringer with an agent or informant, and now “buddy” is only half a word, because he’s serving up you in an attempt to keep him out of prison.

That’s just standard police work, people. But if you don’t do any crimes, nobody can do “standard police work” on you. These guys were falling all over themselves to help a cartel brotha out.

The two were arrested in April 2015. Federal authorities said some of the items they sold were military-issue, and some were purchased in Texas then resold to the undercover agent.

Authorities said they were also accused of selling military equipment from the California National Guard, including gun magazines, ammunition, ballistic vests and the ceramic shields that go inside the vests.

These things were more charges that were made to go away with the remarkably good plea deal these guys got.

Casillas was accused of boasting to the undercover agent that he could procure such items, and the investigation began. The transactions totaled some $15,000, authorities said.

“All my success I owe to my boasting,” said nobody, nowhere, never. Let that be a lesson to you. Pride goeth before the jail.

Initially the two were charged with selling other equipment such as protective body armor and ammunition, but those charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement.

It’s surprising that two guys who willingly sold guns to someone they thought was a cartel lógistico got such a light pair of sentences: one year, and time served. Makes one wonder if they’re soon going to be calling on their former friends with tempting offers, whilst wearing wires.

If one of your friends, dealers, online buddies, or contacts, gets popped by the Feds, remember two things:

  1. You can never trust him again. Sorry, that’s just the way it is. Agents will not commit perjury or fraud to get you in the dock (although it’s perfectly okay for them to lie to you to further an investigation), and in theory confidential informants (especially paid, controlled ones) are supposed to follow similar ethics rules, but in the real world the CI is managed on a “don’t ask, don’t tell” basis.
  2. If you don’t offer or agree to commit a violation, they’ll move on to someone weaker. Because there’s always someone like that… unless it’s you.

The simplest way to avoid being in ATF crosshairs for selling to the cartels, of course, is don’t ever be willing or ready to sell to the cartels. The ATF is, after all, very jealous of its own prerogatives here, and only sworn agents are allowed to deliver firearms to Mexican drug trafficking organizations.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Gensets

This safety warning has been required on every fuel-powered generator for many years.

This safety warning has been required on every fuel-powered generator for many years.

Well, in this case the generator was inside the home, perhaps to provide power to a drug operation run by squatters in a home with disconnected utilities. Las Vegas, again (sigh):

According to Las Vegas Fire and Rescue, a man flagged down a passerby and told him he was in need of medical attention and his girlfriend, who was inside his home, also needed medical attention. The man said there was a power generator in the house and believes the home may have been overcome with carbon monoxide.

Well, yeah, that’s why there’s a sticker in international pictographs right smack dab on the freakin’ generator telling you don’t do that. But some people just can’t color between the lines, to save their lives.

Emergency personnel advised the pair not to enter the home and wait for firefighters, the department said.

Arriving firefighters said extreme amounts of carbon monoxide were detected inside the home.

CO is interesting stuff, biochemically. The same chemical reaction that your red blood corpuscles use to latch on to oxygen molecules for transport, except that your blood likes CO better than O2.

Sorry ’bout that.

Firefighters entered the home in protective gear and found the woman unresponsive, the department said. Attempts to revive her were unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

The man was transported to Mt. View Hospital, police said. His condition was not disclosed.

We’ll take a stab at it: “Condition: sadder, but wiser.”

Investigators said it took several hours to clear the home of the carbon monoxide gas. Once inside the home, investigators said they found two cooking devices inside the home, which were likely used for heating. A power generator was also found being used to produce electricity. The utilities were also disconnected.

Investigators believe carbon monoxide accumulated in the house to the point both the man and woman were overcome.

The department said carbon monoxide is tasteless, odorless and colorless. It is produced by anything that has a flame. A carbon monoxide alarm is recommended to detect the gas.

Police originally said the incident might be drug-related, but did not provide additional details.

Little Crappy Stories of Little Crappy Ships

130802-N-YU572-023The Littoral Combat Ship, the strange bifurcated class of toothless surface combatants-minus-combat-capabilities, continues to produce headlines. The lame-duck Social Justice Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, paid little attention to sailors, apart from undermining them, and less to ships, apart from giving them names that would assure he continued to be the Georgetown lion of his dreams. And he leaves the incoming DOD and Departent of the Navy with a large, weak, defenseless problem that’s going to build to dozens of worthless ships, if it’s not sharply stopped.

Item: LCS Has Zero Chance of Completing a 30-Day Mission

And that’s not a combat mission, for which even the ships’ coin-operated spokesmen are starting to admit the ships are completely unsuited. That’s just steaming somewhere for 15 days and coming back, maintaining combat readiness, without breaking down.

The current fleet of eight ships “have a near-zero chance of completing a 30-day mission, the Navy’s requirement, without a critical failure of one or more seaframe subsystems essential for wartime operations,” Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test And Evaluation.

Ish Kabibble, that’s not sounding too good.

“The miracle of the LCS didn’t happen,” said Paul Francis of the Government Accountability Office. “We are 26 ships into the contract and we still don’t know if it can do its job.”

Originally scheduled to begin service in 2008 at a cost of $220 million per ship, its cost has doubled to $478 million each. And although ships have been commissioned and deployed, they are yet to be equipped with the systems that would allow them to perform their primary missions, and won’t be until 2020.

This is what happens when your front office Schedules a Revolution® and waits back for the boffins to deliver. The entire program has yet to produce a single ship that can defend itself from, well, anything. These things can go into harm’s way — if each one is provided with escorts to tackle the anti-air, anti-surface, and anti-submarine missions that the LCS can’t do.

twice-as-defenseless-as-oneOn the bright side, they do have smaller crews than previous ships, so even though more are destined to go down with all hands, there are fewer “all hands” to go down with each one of ’em.

Is the best answer to pull the plug and stop throwing more money after the sunk costs on what would become, were the balloon to go up, sunk ships?

Francis [the GAO guy — Ed.] said that while Congress also failed to exercise proper oversight on the program while it was spinning out of control, it still has a chance to inject some discipline into the next phase of the program by not approving a “block buy” of future ships.

“You are going to be rushed again, you are going to be asked to put in upfront approval of something where the design isn’t done, we don’t have independent cost estimates, and the risks are not well understood,” Francis said. “You’ll be told ‘it’s a block buy, we’re getting great prices, and the industrial base really needs this.'”

Francis recommended Congress not approve a block buy and instead demand that the Navy have a design competition in which it can downselect from two alternatives, and he further recommended hard questions be asked about whether continuing the program is worth the estimated $14 billion cost. Lockheed Martin and Austal USA are each building separate classes of the ship.

Congress has been all about sending cash to the districts where these turkeys are built. But seriously, the yards could be building Burkes or, hell, even Fletchers and we’d at least have ships with working propulsion, radars and guns. One of these against a Fletcher, who wins?

Item: Mabus’s Navy Pencil-Whipped Shock Trials

The Navy’s determination to keep beating this dead horse across the finish line has caused some, shall we say, honor violations. It seems, according to testimony in Congress, that the shock trials, under which explosions are set off near a ship to see if it can survive the sort of near-miss one expects in warfare, were, there is no other word, frauduent.That’s true of both subclasses of LCS. Maritime Executive:

[T]he shock trials for the Independence and Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ships were conducted at “reduced severity” due to concerns about the possibility of damage.

“The Navy argued that the reduced severity approach was necessary because they lacked specific test data and a general understanding of how the non-Grade A systems . . . would respond to shock.”

Even these squib tests were cut short on the Freedom-class vessel trial, for fear that even at one-third power, the blast would overwhelm the ship’s fragile systems.

[T]he Navy was concerned shocking the ship at the increased level of that trial would significantly damage substantial amounts of non-hardened equipment, as well as damage, potentially significantly, the limited amount of hardened equipment, thereby necessitating costly and lengthy repairs.

Navy officials including VADM Thomas Rowden, Commander of Naval Surface Forces, and Assistant Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley (one of Mabus’s Social Justice Warriors), argued that the ships shouldn’t be tested like combat vessels, and shouldn’t be delayed by the testing other ships undergo, because the Navy needs them urgently for showing the flag, not for combat.

They further argued that the new ships’ frequent dead-in-the-water propulsion casualties were “routine,” and should just be accepted.

Rowden and Stackley also provided a detailed account of the two vessel classes’ recent propulsion casualties. They reported that two of five occurred due to operator error: the first involved improper setup of a lube oil service system on the USS Fort Worth’scombining gear; the second was attributed to a poor fix for a “routine failure” of an attached seawater pump’s mechanical seal, which allowed saltwater to enter one of the diesel main engines on the USS Freedom. 

Of the remaining three, one failure was due to saltwater contamination of a steering hydraulic system; one to improper shaft alignment; and one to a software control issue affecting a new model of high speed clutch.

McCain Calls out Navy Witnesses for False Information

VADM Rowland and Social Justice Deputy Secretary Stackly also got taken to the woodshed by Senate Armed Services Committee éminence grise, John McCain (R-AZ). McCain, a retired naval officer himself, made it clear that the Navy’s beloved all-but-unarmed LCSes were only a symptom of a deeper problem, the more serious problem being the Navy’s dishonesty with the public, Congress, and perhaps, itself.

John McCain, chair of the Senate Armed Services committee and a longtime skeptic of the Littoral Combat Ship program, criticized the Navy for allegedly providing incorrect information regarding the prospects of the LCS and its mission packages. He called on the service to prevent future overruns and shortfalls in its acquisition programs.

“The reason I’m frustrated and other members [of the committee] are is that we can only make decisions based on the information we get. If that information is incorrect or false . . . then how can we function effectively for the people we represent?” McCain said. “I hope that our witnesses understand that we have to bring this to a halt. And fooling around on the fringes has proven to be unsuccessful.”

Neither Stackley nor Rowland responded directly to McCain’s charge of dishonesty, merely reciting boilerplate defenses of the embattled ships.

USA in 2016 Sets a Gun Sales Record

Yes, it’s true, the records aren’t all in. But it’s kind of like the election projections: enough of the results are in for us to say with absolute confidence that American consumers have bought more guns in 2016 than in any year before in history.

This is what the year-over-year NICS data looks like, excluding yet unreported December. A substantial new record of 24.7 million NICS checks, even if not one single solitary gun sells in December.


This is what the year-over-year NICS data looks like, with December (conservatively) forecast. A new record of over 27 million.

That looks to us like a graph of an ongoing preference cascade.

Sources of Data

As you may recall, there is no one true gold-standard number for gun sales. Each of these has some particular strengths and weaknesses. All of these statistics come directly or indirectly from government collections.

  1. DOJ FBI NICS results. The strength of this data is that the FBI reports it very quickly, and that the FBI report is automated and highly likely to accurately count the number of completed NICS checks. Regardless of the Bureau’s recent test-fitting of the mantle of Partisan Political Police, there does not seem to have been any attempt to play with this data. But NICS has specific problems. As the Bureau puts it, “A one-to-one correlation cannot be made between a background check and a firearm sale.” The confounding noise in this data includes:
    1. Multiple sales on one NICS report are possible. (Personal record is 8 or 9 here). This inflates NICS numbers.
    2. Sales of used firearms are included (probably the biggest single distortion, this deflates NICS as a measure of new-gun sales, but not as a measure of gun demand).
    3. Some states waive NICS for permit holders (if they become DQ’d, their permits are yanked, so the permit demonstrates that a holder is not a DQ’d person).
    4. Some states use NICS for non-sales purposes, including one that runs every permit holder every month; this tends to inflate NICS.
  2. NSSF Adjusted NICS results. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the actual “gun lobby” of manufacturers and other licensees that the media think the NRA is, tries to apply a statistical adjustment to the FBI NICS to correct for the causes of imprecision noted above. NICS produces an Adjusted NICS meant to track new-gun sales more closely. Adjusted NICS are always well below FBI NICS, and our gut feeling is that the figure runs conservative (that is, low). These figures are available only to NSSF members (although NSSF has never minded us sharing our analysis of them).
  3. Department of the Interior Pitman-Robertson gun excise tax collections. What these give us, unlike all the others, is not an approximation of unit sales, but an approximation of dollar sales. Sales to law enforcement and the military are excluded, and amounts collected for handgun and long gun sales are segregated. It is most useful in year-over-year longitudinal comparisons.
  4. ATF Annual Firearms Production, Import & Export Reports. These unquestionably produce the most accurate data and allow us to calculate domestic production exactly. But they have two flaws that keep them from being too good to be true. First, they do not distinguish between production for the government market and the domestic civil market. Second, it takes forever for the ATF to complete this data. When it is done for 2016, we’ll probably be in the 2019 market. (As far as we can tell, ATF plays this data straight, despite the agency’s general reputation for deficient integrity, and even though Deputy Director Thomas Brandon spent the fall on a tour of Acela Corridor media, lobbying for gun control laws and promoting pro-gun-control candidates).
  5. Gun manufacturer and retailer reports to government entities, notably the Securities and Exchange Commission. These are interesting in a year-over-year and sense-of-the-market fashion, but they are too sparse (only a handful of the thousands of licensees report to the SEC)

The most interesting thing about all these various metrics is the degree to which the slope of the trendlines agrees, across all of them. They are all highly correlated with one another, far beyond the usual weak-as-water correlations common in the social pseudosciences. That gives us confidence that if one metric’s up, the others are probably up similarly in proportion. Still…

How Can We Say there’s an Annual Record with One Month Left?

Of course, as of 8 December we don’t have final data for even the FBI NICS, the most rapidly reporting of these numbers, so how can we say there’s a record?

Well, the FBI NICS numbers for the first eleven months of 2016 are in, and the total exceeds 2015’s record number (23,141,970, in case it was not at the tip of your tongue. That was over 2 million higher than 2014 or 2013). FBI’s 2016 year to date is 24,767,514, and there’s still a month — the biggest sales month — to go.

Normally, we run a naïve forecast throughout the year. It takes no account of the heavy seasonality in gun sales and NICS checks, and simply takes an average of all the months of this year that have reported so far, and “assumes” that average will be the result for still-unreported months. On this metric, we have known for months that 2016 would be a record; for example, once we got our hands on September’s numbers, we were forecasting 26.5 million NICS for the year, conservatively (conservatively because November and December are historically the peak months), even though under 20 million NICS were complete at the time. Our new forecast for 2016 is 27,019,106. Given that the arithmetic used creates false precision, you read it here first: NICS checks for 2016 will probably exceed 27 million.

But they’ve already set a record of 24,767,514. That’s almost double the last year of the Bush presidency (2008).

So far this year, two weeks this year, have been among the Top Ten NICS weeks since FBI started counting (1998), and Black Friday barely edged out last year’s Black Friday for the all-time one-day crown (data here; .pdf)

The NSSF Adjusted NICS numbers display a similar trend as the unadjusted FNI NICS, at a lower number and with greater variability: still, it does produce a new record forecast for 2016.

Without the forecast, though, the adjusted NICS as of 11/30/16 do not exceed the totals as of 12/31/15. We suspect that this may represent buyers increasingly seeking bargains, and thus buying used (excluded from Adjusted NICS but not FBI NICS) rather than new. Anecdotal evidence (oxymoron alert!) is that this year’s buyers are happily buying, but more price-consciously than last year’s. We’d welcome other suggested explanations.

Data Sources:

FBI NICS data:
NSSF Adj NICS data: available to members at the “members” tab, then “research.