Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ruger Clone, Receiver 3D Printed

This was not made with high-end 3DP technology, but with cheap hobby equipment. And it works.


The genie is out of the bottle.

Do you think Buck Ofama is the guy’s real name? He sounds like the canned text reader built into computers these days.

By the way, this is far from the most interesting thing happening in additive these days. We’ll get to that. But probably not before something else supplants it as “most interesting!”

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have a roadway handy

Perps Jared (l) and Gerald (r). Video still.

Perps Jared (l) and Gerald (r) Smith. Video still. They sure look like a couple of upstanding citizens, eh?

This crime is a case study in the truism that no good (unarmed) deed goes unpunished. Naturally, the mother of these twin murderers defends them, and suggests the good Samaritan they beat and hounded to death had it coming. In case you were wondering how two teens can be raised to be callous murderers, a mother like that probably helps.

There’s no mention of any father, so one suspects that, as so often with the criminal class, his work on this planet was finished when his demon seed was deposited in that lousy excuse for a mother.

A good Samaritan who came to the aid of a woman being assaulted by twin brothers was brutally beaten by the suspects before being run over by a driver, police said.

Jared's mugshot.

“Unnecessarily beat this victim”: Jared’s mugshot.

Nathan Halsted, 49, died in the early Monday morning incident. At a news conference on Thursday, Fresno police played video from a department surveillance camera that shows Halsted being punched, kicked and stomped on for several minutes before being run over. Police said Halsted was unconscious in the street, and the driver did not see him.

The two suspects, 18-year-old twin brothers Gerald and Jared Smith, fled the scene but were arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of assault and murder, police said. The boys’ mother, Lou Ann Smith, told KFSN-TV her sons were the ones who got jumped.

Police, however, said the teens attacked Halsted after he came across them assaulting a 35-year-old woman at a gas station while riding his bike and told them to leave her alone. The brothers also fought a driver and pedestrian who tried to intervene in the attack on Halsted, police said.

"Animal pursuing prey": Gerald's mugshot.

“Animal pursuing prey”: Gerald’s mugshot.

“Like an animal pursuing prey, and that’s what they were,” Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said. “If one person walked by, they went after them.”

Lou Ann Smith said her boys did not run over Halsted, so the driver should be the one arrested on suspicion of murder.

Dyer disagreed, saying the driver, who was on his way to work, was despondent after hitting Halsted and was not at fault.

“The people that are responsible for this are Jared and Gerald Smith, who are the ones that unnecessarily beat this victim, left him in the roadway, ultimately allowed him to be run over by a vehicle and killed,” he said.

via Police in California say good Samaritan beaten by twin brothers, then run over by driver | Fox News.

That’s remarkably clear thinking for a California lawman. How soon before he’s driven out of office?

Solitude and SF

SF Recruiting Poster pick it upDr Helen Smith, who has specialized in the analysis and treatment of violent children, has an interesting take on a UVA/Harvard psychology study that AFP reports as concluding that, “Many people would rather inflict pain on themselves than spend 15 minutes in a room with nothing to do but think.” It reminded us of one of the surprising causes of attrition in SF training in the 1980s. First, she quotes the gallant French reporters of AFP:

After the participants felt the shock, which [a researcher] described as mild, some even said they would prefer to pay $5 rather than feel it again.

Then each subject went into a room for 15 minutes of thinking time alone. They were told they had the opportunity to shock themselves, if desired.

Two-thirds of the male subjects — 12 out of 18 — gave themselves at least one shock while they were alone.

Most of the men shocked themselves between one and four times. However, one “outlier” shocked himself 190 times.

A quarter of the women, six out of 24, decided to shock themselves, each between one and nine times.

There might be other things going on here, and we want to read the original study, not react to some newsman’s idea of what the study says. Reporters usually haven’t had a science course since middle school, and have no more understanding of statistics than a small child. That’s part of why most TV, newspaper, and wire-service science reporting is Scheißdreck. 

That said, homo sapiens sapiens is a social animal, and is most content around other related or friendly homo sapiens. A significant percentage of men lose their ability to function when separated from their fellows. That was an empirical discovery by the men developing the original Special Forces Qualification Course, and every subsequent edition of =SFQC has included some type of isolation period. In the 1970s and 80s, until the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape course was embedded in the SF pipeline, Phase I of the course included, after a short and intense gut-check period and a difficult land-navigation exercise that drove the majority of those lacking motivation and fitness out of the program, a just over one week Survival training and exercise period. In the field exercise portion, soldiers were isolated in the woods for approximately five days and four nights. There would always be a number of people who had never been alone before for a single night of their young lives, and who found this aspect of the survival training extremely difficult. Some would endure. Some would fire the flare that would draw instructors to their location and write an ignominious end to their Green Beret aspirations.

Dr Smith’s conclusions, which seem more tentative and guarded than those of the reporters, follow:

There was speculation from the study results that people in today’s over-stimulated world need that stimulation and have a hard time sitting alone. A few thoughts: I wonder if the men simply shocked themselves for “shock value” — that is, rather than being afraid to be alone, they did it to entertain themselves by doing the rebellious thing to shock the researchers. Perhaps. Or perhaps they really are that afraid of being alone. The elderly were also willing to shock themselves. Perhaps we treat our elderly like such pariahs that they would rather feel something than nothing.

Perhaps it has as much to do with politics and our socialized view in a “progressive” society that it is better to be an extroverted sort who is a collectivist. Those who are independent-minded and don’t need others are seen as suspect. Probably because they are not dependent on the government and might be harder to control. I could go on, but I will stop here with my speculation. Maybe the people in the experiment just need to read Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking to get some perspective.

via Dr. Helen » The Politics of Sitting Alone.

Certainly the introverts and the self-sufficient (two sets with a large intersection, but not entirely the same) did well in the old survival exercise, at least on the isolation axis of measurement. It wasn’t the sole purpose of the drill. One also had 14 or 15 mandatory tasks to accomplish, some of them difficult and time-consuming, and had to obey rules like not linking up with other students — or at least, avoid getting caught breaking the rules. But it was one important aspect of Special Forces training that produced operators capable of individual operations, although  those were almost never done deliberately. It also identified for SF men for whom the de facto isolation of being the only American amid a group of strange foreigners of different race, language and culture, would not be too stressful.

Needless to say, those who came through the isolation exercise best  were usually those for whom being isolated and alone for several days was nothing new, including hunters, hikers, single-hand sailors, and other adventuresome youth.


According to a UVA press release, the paper is to be published in the presitgious journal Science. The comments in the press release indicate that the AFP report may not be too far afield of claims made in the paper, which we still want to read.

OT: Hairy-Armed Feminists Get Extra Credit

Breanna_FahsYou know we’re going to write some words about this, but really, words fail. But you don’t want to see the pictures. We’ll limit the collateral damage to your retinas and optic merves to that produced by a head and top-two-of-three-chins shot of the professor in question.

Female Arizona State University students can receive extra credit for defying social norms and refusing to shave for 10 weeks during the semester.

Women and Gender Studies Professor Breanne Fahs, encourages her female students to cease shaving their underarms and legs during the semester and document their experiences in a journal.

Student Stephanie Robinson said it was a “life changing experience.”

Participant and student Jaqueline Gonzalez said the experience allowed her to start on a path of activism.

“The experience helped me better understand how pervasive gendered socialization is in our culture. Furthermore, by doing this kind of activist project I was no longer an armchair activist theorizing in the classroom.” she said. “So much is learned by actually taking part in the theory or idea we learn in the classroom, and we could benefit from this type of pedagogy being taken up by similar classes.”

via University offers female students extra credit for not shaving their armpits.

In case you wondered why the recent college graduate you hired lacks an 8th Grade knowledge of history, science and especially math, this is part of why. Employers, you might want to file this one away for the day when some applicant shows up trying to trade on a fresh and shiny ASU degree. This class makes basket-weaving look academically rigorous.

Sure, it takes all kinds to make a world, but….

But don’t think that Professor Fahs discriminates against men. They can get extra credit in her content-free classes by bending their secondary sexual characteristics the opposite way and shaving off their armpit, chest and genital hairPresumably, she braids it into her own armpit wigs. Or has the students do it for her. For credit.

Is it just us, or is asking the sort of women who take Women and Gender Studies classes to grow armpit hair, kind of like asking bears to you-know-what in the woods? A picture of some of the participants in Fahs’s class is at the link — we spared you it here. The only way a guy would say “I’d hit that” is if he was holding a clue-by-four.

OT: What we’ve been doing

Stupid_PeopleIt’s been one of those days. The dead Iraq contract has risen from the grave, and if you know anything at all about Hollywood tropes of resurrection, that augurs ill. A multinational training organization that asked for our wisdom did the exact other thing, and didn’t notice until their corner-cutting left them with unsafe personnel (which they sweat too much) and excessive retraining and retesting (which they did sweat, as they are losing vast quantities of money because they programmed training on the assumption that everyone was going to be a first-time go at all stations). And now they want one of our partners to fix it. Fact: you can’t fix stupid, you can only drown it in a babbling brook.

Even usually reliable escapes like lawn mowing and bike riding turned on us. The lawnmower, fresh from its second round of warranty repair in a month, shucked off its muffler. Rather than send it back again, again, we went to the shop and found and made the missing parts. Then we interrupted the lawnmowery to go to the beautiful grass airfield two towns over, and watch the Cubs and Champs rocking 65 to 85 horsepower off 2000-odd feet of turf on a 90-degree day. 1930s tech FTW. We met folks for lunch there and ate watching the same planes that have lifted off here since the 30s and 40s.

This BikeE is for sale in Corvallis, Oregon, but is similar to ours... not living in the Oregon mists we don't have or need fenders.

This BikeE is for sale in Corvallis, Oregon, but is similar to ours… not living in the Oregon mists we don’t have or need fenders, but ours is a blue hardtail BikeE CT like this. Impression so far… weird.

Since we have a new-to-us BikeE recumbent bike, had to try it out, and that’s how we went to chow. Got to lunch hot and dehydrated, but better able to manage the squirrely handling of the BikeE at low speed. So far, so good. After lunch decided to try this rail trail, that isn’t exactly finished or open yet. It runs right by the airfield, and we confess, it tempted us. After a mile, we realized that loose sand and gravel and a bike with a 16″ front wheel and neutral (if not divergent) directional stability were a bad combination. Gave it up as a bad job and turned around. On the way back up the trail to paved roads (it’s always the descent from the summit that gets you) a patch of sand launched the bike into a railroad tie. The impact was pretty low speed but over we went, and off came the seat. (Wait, what?)

We guess we just answered the question about whether the seat-retainer recall had been complied with. (Nope. We had the retainers that fail in a crash, Q.E.D.). Bad news, and there’s worse news – BikeE went tango uniform in 2002, so there are no spare parts. Good news — we can make replacements either by molding them with RTV (we have to figure out what durometer they need to be) or machining or 3D-printing them from some type of polyacrylate nylon, probably Delrin, again, once we know the durometer of the originals. Or maybe we want to make them a little harder, and more rigid. Hmmm…. Meanwhile, though, we’re 6 miles from home with a busted bike.

Improvise, adapt, overcome. We make a couple of the wrong things fit right and the seat’s in place for the ride home. There are also a few other tuning problems with the bike, which we’ll take up with the bike shop that sold it. (Like, the hub won’t go into low gear). Given the seat issue, we rode home pret-ty gingerly, but managed to arrive completely dehydrated and cramping. Good ride, then, yes?

The bike works different muscles than our usual uprights, an ancient 1980s Raleigh hybrid and a Montague Navigator folder to take along on travel (it still has dust from Afghanistan on it, and that was over 10 years ago. Damn stuff won’t clean off, it’s the very Tar Baby of dust). The Raleigh is in for a tune and tires, so while we were in the shop the BikeE followed us home. We always wanted to try one. Now that we have we want a higher seat back (will probably have to fab that too) and we’re still very non-confident at slow speeds. The thing does not like being off road, it does not like being on a verge, it absolutely does not like steep turns (the rear wheel skids!) So it’s taken rather a lot of learning so far.

With the bike safely put away and enough cold water slammed to produce the agonies of brain-freeze, we returned to the lawn, now under a bit of time pressure as Arthur was coming. Tropical Storm Arthur, that is. So we got the lawn done, mower washed, mostly air dried, and put away and the house battened down before the storm front blew in with a welcome cool breeze.

Then the power went out, and the frantic calls started. News had reported a tornado here, was Hog Manor — yes. Next caller — yes. Next caller — sorry to disappoint you, we’re still here at Hog Manor. The rain and hail did get heavy, but the only damage was a couple hundred pounds of expensive fill from a neighbor’s yard now piled in our front yard by a flash flood of storm water. Turns out the “tornado” was a reporter getting it wrong anyway, what was sighted was a “wall cloud” and the reporter wanted to be the first one with the story, so he made stuff up. They do that.

All this is by way of explaining why you didn’t get afternoon posts or much interaction today. Tomorrow may be just as bad. Family Members have roped us into the utterly brain-dead idea of traveling to inspect and inventory the property of a hospice-bound relative, so that we can properly take care of her heirs (not us, but nieces and nephews in England). We remonstrated and re-remonstrated with the others involved that (1) making a long highway trip on the busiest travel day of the year, the Friday of the 4th of July Weekend is going beyond Full Retard, and (2) neither great-aunt Mildred nor her stuff are going anywhere soon, and the urgency of this task is zero.

We got outvoted, and so will spend many hours tomorrow in stop-and-go traffic. We will, however, be sharing the Avalon Hybrid rather than driving there in the Gaia-choking Impala SS, so we’ll combust far fewer dead dinosaurs. We will lay on some scheduled posts for the day.

Lord love a duck. Wasting a whole day and being Carbon Conscious, too. How are we ever going to show our face around here again.

That Others May Live

PJs Mark Crawford (l). and Brian Stephens (r.), 1984.

PJs Mark Crawford (l). and Brian Stephens (r.), 1984.

As part of CNN’s dawn-to-dusk-to-dawn-again Malaysian Airliner obsesssion, they have, however accidentally, printed a good story. Former Air Force PJ Brian Stephens writes about a mission where there turned out to be no hope of fulfulling the Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service motto: “That Others May Live.” Instead, he found himself working just as hard for another objective: that the families of crash victims might have closure.

It was 29 years ago this week. I was a member of the U.S. Air Force’s 67th ARRS Pararescue team. I was trained to find survivors anywhere on Earth and bring them back alive. Sometimes that wasn’t possible. Instead you came back with the only thing you could — closure for the victims’ families. You brought home the bodies.

That was the case for Air India Flight 182 that Sunday in June 1985. Stan Sanders called me that morning and told me to “get to work and get ready, there’s a 747 down off the coast of Ireland.”

Watching the world’s rescue efforts this year in the desperate search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 brought these 29-year-old memories to the surface for me. As we mark the anniversary of the Air India crash, we should remember those 329 individuals lost.
“So That Others May Live”

So there’s your obvious Malaysia 370 reference, probably the only thing that interested CNN’s embarrassingly monomaniacal editors in the story.

It was a six-hour helicopter ride from RAF Woodbridge to the crash site. I sat in the back and watched as the sun flickered through the rotors with a strobe light effect. The cabin vibrated, it was hot, and it smelled of hydraulic fluid and jet exhaust. We prepped our gear.

The atmosphere was hopeful. Surely with 329 people on board there would be survivors? I imagined life rafts full of survivors waving. This is why we became PJs. Our unit’s motto was the definition of service: “So That Others May Live.” With fewer than 500 team members, Pararescue is one of the smallest Special Forces units in the United States military. The selection process is considered one of the toughest. As an indicator of the high regard for Pararescuemen within the Special Operations community, the Navy’s SEAL Team Six incorporates PJs for their unparalleled rescue expertise.

During the flight, we discussed deployment scenarios. We’d focus our efforts on the survivors first and then bodies. That hope disappeared when we reached the debris field. Our full crew of seven knew it instantly. Nobody survived this.

I leaned my forehead against the scratched oil stained Plexiglas window to get a better look. The debris scattered on the water looked as if someone had crushed the airplane into a bowl of soup. No single piece was larger than two seats floating together. I could feel the excitement we had for the mission give way to the recognition of the human tragedy we were witnessing. It was gut-wrenching.

The HH-53 flew across the debris field. On one pass I saw something brown and white floating on the surface. Was it a body? As we got closer the details became clear, puffy ears, dark eyes, arms outstretched — a teddy bear — floating face up. We looked at each other.

“A body,” someone said over the intercom. “Right side, close in.” That’s when Stan and I went into the water and swam to her.

She was a young Indian woman, in her early 20s. Her clothes were in shreds; a thin white blouse with a white camisole tank underneath. Her hair and the remains of the blouse undulated in the water. She floated face down between us. I touched her arm. No reaction. Her skin was cold and hard. I looked at her and wished she would turn her head and take a breath. It seemed very strange to me that she wasn’t breathing.

The trauma she suffered became evident. I could feel fractures in her vertebrae grating as the swells lifted us up and set us back down. The three of us rose, and fell rhythmically, suspended in 6,000 feet of water. We were 90 miles off the coast of Kerry, Ireland.
Stan and I held her in the water between us. We waited for the helicopter to come back.

I learned that injury patterns determined that the plane had broken up at altitude, tossing bodies into the sky at 31,000 feet while moving at 580 miles per hour. None of the 131 bodies recovered was wearing a life jacket. The victims had no time to prepare.

As Stephens knows well, loss of consciousness would have been functionally instantaneous, for any passenger who was not killed by the violent acceleration forces of the airplane’s in-flight breakup. Tables that describe a time of useful consciousness of a minute or more at that altitude presume a slow and steady decompression, not a violent one.

It seems probable that none of them would have known a thing. Any who were not killed may have regained consciousness briefly when passing through 10,000 feet or so, but would likely have been extremely disoriented in the seconds remaining before impact.

The helicopter flew directly over us and the crew lowered a steel-tubed litter wrapped in a chicken wire skin. It had flotation devices and carabiners attached to metal lift cables. We fumbled around, moving straps and opening the cables. It wasn’t easy controlling the body in the swells as the helicopter created chaos around us.

After a few failed attempts, Stan had had enough. In one explosive movement, he pulled the body by the hair, face down, across the length of the litter. I cringed thinking how it would have felt. It was brutally effective. It was not the way we’d practiced hundreds of times with live volunteers. Stan had shown me in an instant what we had to do. We didn’t have time to be gentle.

via Stephens: Jumping into a search for India Air survivors –

The casualties Stephens and his crew helped recover were victims of a Sikh terrorist attack. The responsible individuals have, mostly, never faced justice. Stephens seems to have taken a lot of time, but he finally came to the conclusion that, however imperfect the rest of the world may be, and however fruitless the search for survivors, he and his fellow rescue men did something worthwhile in those days.

He’s right.

Help a Brother Out — Forgotten Weapons Indiegogo Appeal

OK, usually when we’re axing ya to he’p a brother out, it’s an SF brother. In this case, it’s a gun blogging brother, and the guy that actually inspired us to take up the blog cudgel, for better or for worse, Forgotten Weapons .com’s Ian McCollum. Ian has a dream, and it involves higher-quality videos shot with better video, audio, and production gear — in fact, with fully professional gear.

His 50 meter target was $7,500, and he’s blown past that with the generous support from others (and some miserly support from us. Hey, New England Yankees, you know?). Now he has his sights on a stretch goal of $13k. That will put a professional-quality high-speed camera in his hands, allowing high-speed video of a lot of the unusual, exotic, and just plain cool social-action tools that he gets his hands on.

Forgotten Weapons already sets a high standard for accuracy and interesting content – imagine combining that passion and dedication with a really serious set of of video equipment! Many of the guns you see on Forgotten Weapons are ones you will not see anywhere else, and the information I present is a step (or several steps) above the typical online video. I tell you about the development and history of the weapon, its pros and cons, how and when it was used (or what it developed into our out of), and the intimate details of how it works.

That’s the essence of his pitch: he gives us all good stuff, and wants a little help to give us better stuff. As we type this Wednesday night for Thursday morning, he’s $2,600 or so short with three weeks to go. If ten of you buy a Lifetime Premium Membership in his site for $150, he’ll be most of the way to his goal (and you’ll get some cool discounts). If you can’t see your way clear to $150, I know that Ian appreciates every donation, even $10, $5, or those silly Euro thingies.

So please go here, view Ian’s pitch, and be part of his site’s bold advance into tomorrow:   Forgotten Weapons Pro-Quality Video | Indiegogo.

(If you want to see some of the videos he’s doing now, just go right to

Franco’s Still Dead, and the VA’s Still Wretched

VA-veterans-affairsLet’s take a quick look at some other VA stuff. In this category, we have an audit of the VA’s “wait lists” of neglected and abandoned vets, a guy who’s Not Dead Yet, a key insight into why the Department does so much better by the payroll patriots in its ranks than the vets it ostensibly helps, the curious fact that all VA managers are from Lake Wobegon, and a bitter contrast of the health care provided to criminal aliens to that not provided to honorably discharged vets.

The Wait List Audit

ouradour clockThe DVA has posted the results of the VA’s Wait List Audit. And it’s ugly. Many news sources have excerpted or paraphrased it, and we’ll do those for you in a moment, but if you’re interested in this, Read The Whole Thing™.

The audit was supposed to be a multiphase evolution, but the findings of Phase I were so egregious that Phase II data collection was aborted. In Phase I data collection, almost 4,000 employees were interviewed. Union representatives were allowed to sit in; the worker or the union rep could pull the plug at any time (indeed, they could opt out of being interviewed at all, and they were not interviewed under oath or recorded). The questionnaires that were completed contained no identifying information; this interview design suggests that the real, if unstated, primary goal of the audit was to protect the agency and the employees and forestall an external, prosecutorial investigation.

The report implies that employee punch-out occurred often enough for the 1-hour interviews to average only 45 minutes.

Data manipulation was systematic and near-universal; in just the sample from Phase I, they found wait-list fraud in 76% of facilities, and it was something that came from the top.

Negative practices identified in site reports included:

  • Staff being instructed by supervisors to alter desired date;
  • Staff keeping manual logs of appointment requests outside of electronic systems (VistA or the EWL);
  • Staff lacking familiarity with scheduling policies;
  • Other practices inconsistent with policy:

o Non-count clinics ;

o Cancelling consults;
o Cancelling appointments; and

  • Employees indicating reluctance to participate in the survey due to fear they would be subject to disciplinary action due to deviation from national policy.

The audit claims that, “VA will establish follow-up accountability actions based on the results of the audit,” but that claim has already been mooted by the Acting Administrator who has vowed that not one of the VA’s 90,000 employees will lose a job, a pay grade, or a bonus, no matter what they did.

The audit reaches a conclusion that, “the overarching environment and culture which allowed this state of practice to take root must be confronted…  in order to regain the trust of the Veterans that VA serves.”

But the Administration has already announced that this will not be done.

I’m Not Dead Yet!

bye-gravestoneJoe Morris, like the plague victim in the Monty Python skit, is Not Dead Yet. But the VA decided the two-tour Iraq vet was dead. And so they stopped his disability checks. But that was the least of his problems. They also told Social Security he was dead, locking his Social Security number into the Social Security Death Index. And they sent his mother a condolence letter, which is how he found out he was supposed to be pushing up daisies.

Two months ago came the bizarre phone call that changed everything.

“My mom called me up and said, ‘Hey, you’re dead.’ I said, ‘No, I’m not,’” Morris said.

The VA admitted that he was, indeed, not dead, and didn’t fight him on the subject. (Or worse, whack him to make reality come into line with their ate-up computers). And they apologized and fixed everything, right? Come on. This is the VA we’re talking about here. They made excuses, blamed their computers, ducked responsibility. Hey, the computer did it of its own volition! That happens all the time.

All the credit agencies now have him as deceased, and his wife is getting more condolence letters.

One of the commenters at the original story nailed a more likely cause of his bureaucratic “death”:

Whenever he called the VA about his missing check and wanted to set up direct deposit he put a bureaucrat employee to extra trouble and so they “fixed his wagon”….

Sounds about right. Another commenter had this chilling corroboration:

Good luck. This happened to my husband and it took 2 years to bring him back to life. Thank goodness my credit rating was good and we already owned our home.

Will those responsible for this be held accountable? Hey, this is the VA we’re talking about here. Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson, as we will see in a minute, has already announced that nobody at VA need fear loss of a job or a bonus, no matter what. Accountability is not a VA value.

VA Employees are the Agency’s Most Important Constituency

Jefferson_parasitesIn a piece at National Review Online that covered the self-interested corruption of other government workers, too, Jonah Goldberg singled out the VA for special mention,  and absolutely nails why the VA sucks so badly at its putative job, “to care for him who has borne the battle”: that’s not their real constituency. Goldberg:

The Veterans Affairs scandal can be boiled down to the fact that VA employees are the agency’s most important constituency. The Phoenix VA health-care system created secret waiting lists where patients languished and even died, while the administrator paid out almost $10 million in bonuses to VA employees over the last three years.

That attitude is personified by the empty suit that replaced the empty suit that was Rick Shinseki as VA figurehead. A Jacksonville, NC reporter asked Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson, during a visit to a Fayetteville, NC VA facility, whether “VA executive bonus money would be better used by placing a human-being on the other side of a suicide-prevention line.” Gibson lost control. ABC 11, Raleigh:

“This idea that ‘let’s fire everybody, let’s pull everybody’s bonus away” that’s a bunch of crap,” Gibson said angrily. “The fact of the matter is we’ve got 341,000 people and the vast majority of them work really hard to do the right thing, and that’s why we’ve got veterans that are well-served the vast majority of the time.”

“… I’m not going to see people sit there and say that we go[t] 350,000 people that aren’t worth a crap. It’s wrong. So no-the money’s not better spent by pulling it and putting it someplace else.”

It hasn’t been widely reported, but ABC 11 did note, that the reporter in question is a former Marine, who was accompanied by a service dog. After the press conference, Gibson tried to patch things up, offering a handshake and a glib, “Thanks for your service.” The reporter/Marine, now angry in return, refused. “Thank you for what? Allowing you to dodge my question?” (We do note, that Gibson did answer the question, albeit dismissively. The reporter might have missed it because the answer came at the end of paragraphs of vituperation aimed at him).

Gibson also made excuses for a Durham mental health clinic that is still issuing Baghdad Bob press releases denying any long waits, when questioned on the subject. The facility is one of the worst of the VA’s bad lot, with an average wait time of 143 days, according to the VA’s own figures, but Gibson wouldn’t say — or hear — a word of criticism of the staff.

The visit was best summed up by Marine vet Christopher Hubbard, who was told to expect it to take about 60 days for a primary care physician to see him and prescribe the medication he needs for an injured knee now.

In all honestly, I think it’s nothing more than a dog and pony show. Whether the VA actually takes the concerns of the veterans and our complaints and actually deals with them is another story.

Nothing Gibson said hints at accountability becoming a VA value any time this century. Gibson apparently didn’t speak to or see a crowd of veterans, including Hubbard, who wanted someone to hear their complaints about wait times and care at the Fayetteville VA.

“All VA Managers are Above Average”

Same cognitive bias here. From this entertaining blog post.

Same cognitive bias here. From this entertaining blog post.

The heartless, incompetent, and greedy VA managers are one more thing, too: well-paid. Official records used to determine bonus awards ruled that all 470 senior managers would just totally awesome, even as 120,000 veterans languished on phantom waiting lists, and in unknown number died. (The media has documented over 100 deaths, but the VA insists that there were only 23. And they deserve a bonus for that). CNN:

A top VA official confirmed to a congressional committee on Friday that 78% of VA senior managers qualified for extra pay or other compensation in fiscal year 2013 by receiving ratings of “outstanding” or “exceeds fully successful,” and that all 470 of them got ratings of “fully successful” or better.

Such widespread laudatory performance appraisals occurred shortly before CNN started reporting in November how veterans waited excessive periods for VA health care, with some dying in the process. The VA has acknowledged 23 deaths nationwide due to delayed care.

According to the New York Times, there are five levels of ratings a VA manager can be given. None received the lowest two levels, about 20% received the middle level, and the other 80% or so got the top two.

And bonuses.

The Times notes:

Many administrators’ bonuses were tied partly to whether their facilities met patient wait-time goals, including being able to see a doctor within 14 days. When a shortage of doctors and other factors made it impossible for many facilities to come anywhere close to those standards, many administrators and patient schedulers manipulated data and used other tactics to make the numbers look better than they were.

We leave determining whether VA management actually is a human population composed only of the right tail of the quality bell curve, something that would be unique and unprecedented in 5,000 years of human organizational history, as an exercise to the reader.

Veterans Left to Die

The Center for Immigration Studies has their own angle on it: “Illegal Aliens Receive Immediate Medical Care; Veterans Left to Die.” That pretty much sums up the preferences of Official Washington.

In response to an influx of young illegal aliens, the Obama administration has moved rapidly to provide them with a full range of medical and other services. In response to the needs of American veterans, the president has failed to keep campaign promises made seven years ago.

In response to the need for medical care for young illegal aliens, the Obama administration had Arizona immediately ship federal emergency medical supplies to a holding center in Nogales. In response to veterans’ medical needs, the administration ignored campaign promises made in 2007 and stood by while the VA created secret waiting lists that resulted in the deaths of Americans who had honorably served their county.

In response to illnesses afflicting illegal aliens such as scabies, chickenpox, MRSA staph infections, and different viruses, Coast Guard medics have been called in by Homeland Security to treat those who are sick. In response to veterans’ health needs, no military medics were mobilized and veterans went untreated.

In response to a need for housing and related services for illegal aliens, the Obama administration moved at warp speed to house them on military bases at a cost of $252 per person per day. However, in spite of saying “We’ll have a simple policy when it comes to homeless veterans: zero tolerance,” while campaigning in 2007, President Obama has never opened up military bases to homeless veterans or granted veterans on waiting lists access to base medical clinics and hospitals.

In response to a need for increased financing to meet the needs of illegal aliens, the Obama administration immediately requested an emergency appropriation from Congress of $1.4 billion. In response to the critical needs of millions of veterans, the administration has requested no emergency funding and continues to exclude millions of veterans from promised services through means-testing.

In response to the legal needs of illegal aliens, the Obama administration will issue $2 million in grants to enroll about 100 lawyers and paralegals to represent immigrant children. In response to the legal needs of veterans who are denied medical services and other benefits promised them by elected officials over many decades, the administration does nothing.

The CIS, which has many other issues with the Obama Administration, makes it the villain of the piece, but the established opposition isn’t much better. The lame-duck House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, lost his seat in part because the Republican leadership he’s a part of has prioritized amnesty over veterans (and almost everything else).

But … it isn’t just the VA.

Matt and Kaylie Hindes. A judge wants him to lose custody because he's in the Navy.

Matt and Kaylie Hindes. A judge wants him to lose custody because he’s in the Navy.

This closer isn’t a VA story, but it’s another story about the Establishment that rides in its palanquin upon the backs of veterans screwing over a serving serviceman:

 Navy submariner Matthew Hindes was given permanent custody of his daughter Kaylee in 2010, after she was reportedly removed from the home of his ex-wife, Angela, by child protective services. But now a judge has ordered him to appear in court Monday, or risk losing his daughter to his ex-wife in addition to a bench warrant being issued for his arrest, ABC News reports.

Hindes’ lawyers argue he should be protected by the Service Members Civil Relief Act, which states courts in custody cases may “grant a stay of proceedings for a minimum period of 90 days to defendants serving their country.”

But the Michigan judge hearing the case, circuit court judge Margaret Noe, disagrees….

Noe, who has made her distaste for Hindes’s choice of career clear, was threatening to issue a warrant for his arrest. And that would be a neat trick, as he’s in a classified grid location, at a classified depth, on a US Navy nuclear submarine. The daughter who’s the subject of this attempted custody coup is in Washington state (where the US has one of its major sub bases) with her stepmom, waiting for Dad to surface. As it stands, she has delayed her threat until the 23rd — today.

It would be unbelievable, if we didn’t see this kind of thing over and over and over again.

An Appreciation of Genghis Khan

Genghis KhanGenghis Khan has fallen into disrepute since John Kerry compared him to Vietnam Veterans, explaining to those who didn’t get the connection that both were axe-murdering, baby-raping, card-cheating nogoodniks prone to cutting in the lift lines at Gstaad, or words to that effect. Remarkably, that kind of insight did not bring the former C-student to his desired station in life, but nowadays as Secretary of State he has an unparalleled record. (Unparalleled… you have to give him that).

Not everyone shares Mr Kerry’s dim view of the great Asian conqueror, though. This interesting appreciation of Genghis was written by a man who had some distinction himself in the military field. Of course, we’ll explain at the end who it was, but see if you can guess:

Were the accounts of all battles, save only those of Genghis Khan, effaced from the pages of history, and were the facts of his campaigns preserved in descriptive detail, the soldier would still possess a mine of untold wealth from which to extract nuggets of knowledge useful in molding in army for future use. The successes of that amazing leader, beside which the triumphs of most other commanders in history, pale into insignificance, are proof sufficient of his unerring instinct for the fundamental qualifications of an army.

He devised an organization appropriate to conditions then existing; he raised the discipline and the morale of his troops to a level never known in any other army, unless possibly that of Cromwell; he spent every available period of peace to develop subordinate leaders and produce perfection of training throughout the army, and, finally, he insisted upon speed in action, a speed which by comparison with other forces of his day was almost unbelievable. Though he armed his men with the best equipment of offense and of defense that the skill of Asia could produce, he refused to encumber them with loads that would immobilize his army. Over great distances his legions moved so rapidly and secretly as to astound his enemies and practically to paralyze the powers of resistance. He crossed great rivers and mountain ranges, he reduced walled cities in his path and swept onward to destroy nations and pulverize whole civilizations. On the battlefield his troops maneuvered so swiftly and skillfully and struck with such devastating speed that times without number they defeated armies overwhelmingly superior to themselves in numbers.

Regardless of his destructiveness, his cruelty, his savagery, he clearly understood the unvarying necessities of war. It is these conceptions that the modern soldier seeks to separate from the details of the Khan’s technique, tactics, and organization, as well as from the ghastly practices of his butcheries, his barbarism, and is ruthlessness. So winnowed from the chaff of medieval custom and of all other inconsequentials, they stand revealed as kernels of eternal truth, as applicable today in our effort to produce an efficient army as they were when, seven centuries ago, the great Mongol applied them to the discomfiture and in amazement of these of a terrified world. We cannot violate these laws and still produce and sustain the kind of army that alone can ensure the integrity of our country and the permanency of our institutions if ever again we face the grim realities of war.

Read that aloud and tell us if your voice doesn’t gain depth and strength — that’s some powerful writing. Have you guessed the author yet? It was Douglas MacArthur. These thoughts of the eternality of Genghis Khan were part of his final major report as Chief of Staff of the Army in 1935. The subject of the report was Army Modernization, and it was quite wide-ranging for foresighted (even as it frequently demonstrated MacArthur’s command of history and the English language, as in the sample above).

After that report, Gen MacArthur, having completed a distinguished career and served for years at the pinnacle of his nation’s Army, retired. And we’ve scarcely heard from him since.

We leave it as an exercise to the reader, whether the lifelong C-student or the lifelong First  Captain has the better part of understanding the great Khan.

In NY, you can’t defend yourself, but hey! You can get buried with your dog.

Granny_and_Fluffy_headstoneBecause, really, what’s more important: protecting yourself from the state’s army of lawless parolees and probationers, having eternal rest with Spot once they whack you?

On subjects like this, the New York State legislature (the geniuses who fell in behind Couomo’s felonizing of an 8-round firearm) have a keen grip on their constituents’ #FIrstWorldProblems.

Meanwhile, in the countries a lot of those criminals come from, a dog is not a pampered pet but at worst a scavenger and at best a source of protein. Fox New York:

Beginning in August, pet cemeteries will be allowed to accept the cremated remains of people.

The regulation which was proposed last fall and recently adopted does not allow pet cemeteries to charge a fee for a human burial and cannot advertise human burial services.

But state lawmaker Assemblyman Tom Abinanti told the NY Daily News the state has no authority to tell pet cemeteries not to charge for human funerals.

He supports a bill allowing pet cemeteries to charge “a reasonable fee” for human burials.

The NYS legislature passed the regulation following a three year long battle between the niece of an NYPD officer and the Hartsdale cemetery in Westchester County.

NYPD Officer Thomas Ryan wanted to be buried with his wife and his three Maltese dogs, but the cemetery would not allow it. The state eventually relented and allowed the burial at Hartsdale, the oldest pet cemetery in the United States.

via Pet owners, deceased pets can now be buried together – New York News.

Look, we love animals here, to a point. Not meeces, or anything with six or eight legs, not in our house, thank you. But the usual dogs, cats, horses and stuff enhance human life. If somebody wants to be buried with Fido in Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, we say knock yourself out.

In fact, we are kind of bemused that a state legislature is setting itself up as the, well, gateway to Boot Hill, the gateway to the next life. It neither picks our pocket nor breaks our legs to have critters in the next grave over, if their owner wants to take them with him like Tutankhamen’s mummy cats. It is a bit disturbing to see one more symbol of human exceptionalism eroding, but then, we already know people who call their two ill-tempered Chow Chows their “kids.”