Category Archives: Lord Love a Duck

Benchwork with Bubba: Mosin Edition

On this lovely weekend day, as a light snow sprinkles on us in seacoast New Hampshire (Dear God, winter can end any time), we settle in to spend some quality time with our favorite (in entertainment terms)  gunsmith, Bubba. If you’re a habitué of Reddit’s /r/guns, you probably caught this beauty last week, but if not, here it is in all its… glory. It is stunning, for some values of “stunning.”

Tula bubbad Mosin 001Obviously, the guy who posted this bubba’d Mosin on Imgur is having some fun with it, as he carefully photographed it with the props of booze and cartridges. The booze? He explains, “Alcohol for scale and realism.” Gives you the full Bubba. (He is a Marine vet of Afghanistan and has another Imgur page with info about the weapons he used).

This gun seems to hit the high points of Bubbadom on several levels.

  • It started with a Finnish M39, a collector Mosin. The front sight was removed along with the last few inches of the barrel. We doan need no stankin’ sights. The rear sight, however, was left on, because removing that is Hard To Do.
  • The stock is hacked down and the Modern Art forearm tip grafted on.
  • The whole thing is painted OD. Can’t tell if it’s a brush job or rattle cans. When his phone doesn’t ring, it’s the Maaco Crappy Auto Body franchise not offering him a job in their DILLIGAFF Paint Shop.
  • That bolt handle… ugh. First, the workmanship looks like a reject from a Teach Yourself Welding class. Second, that bolt handle is extended and the weirdo industrial knob (which has more than a whiff of Harbor Freight about it)  is cleverly located forward and underneath the trigger entirely; believe it or not, the idea behind modifying rifle bolts, back in the days of Peak Sporterizing, was to make the bolt easier and faster to operate, as well as to clear a scope and mount. Tula bubbad Mosin 002
  • Given that this guy has the metal-shaping skills of Katy Perry, this Acme bolt handle didn’t clear the stock, so he chiseled a gouge in the stock for it to rest in. That part is left in the original bare birch or whatever for contrast. Scandinavian Design FTW!
  • Rather than apply his welding savoir-faire to the trigger, he took the coward’s way out and added a big wide trigger shoe. Because he who dies with the most mods on his gun, wins.
  • The Thalidomide bolt handle still didn’t clear the scope and mount, so you can see some crude saw (note toolmarks) has been used to chop off the after end of the scope.
  • The $10 bargain basement scope (he thinks, a Center Point) and mounts are guaranteed to last at least until the gun is fired. No, handled. Until the gun is handled.
  • The stilt-high see-through mounts are meant to be used with iron sights, by people who buy $10 scopes and therefore need to go to backup any time they hunt outdoors in weather (when was the last time you hunted indoors?). Therefore a cheek weld is impossible.
  • So a hunk of foam is Ace-bandaged on to the stock to make a sort of rustic cheekpiece.

Bubba Facit, as the Romans might have said.

There are actually two versions of the Imgur post, here and here, with very slight differences in the wording, but the same pictures.

Somewhere in Finland, a guy who spent a hunk of the last century turning Mosins into finely crafted moose and elk hunting rifles is weeping inconsolably.

Friday Federal Follies: VA, TSA, DEA, ATF: Fifty Ways to Fail your Nation

Rather than do a more general Friday Tour d’Horizon, we thought we’d zero in today on various ways that various federal agencies are screwing up.

Yes, it is shooting fish in a barrel.

The Department of Veterans Affairs

VA-veterans-affairsTo start with, we have the VA. When they banished some stumblebum named Diana Rubens from the Bureaucrats’ Right Hand of God®, a DC assignment, way out to the far provinces, to wit, Philadelphia, she exacted a payment by way of compensation.

The Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed Wednesday that it paid a senior manager $288,000 in “relocation payments” when it reassigned her from Washington last year to become director of the agency’s problem-riddled Philadelphia office.

The chairman of the House Veterans Affairs committee called the payment to Philadelphia Director Diana Rubens “outrageous.”

Ya think? He also said it “raises questions about VA’s commitment to fiscal responsibility.”  What questions? It perfectly illustrates VA’s fiscal responsiblity, about that of a two-year-old. Nevertheless, a mealy-mouthed spokesman, himself a worthless six-figure drain on the taxpayers, stepped up to defend the VA’s practices of fraud, waste and abuse:

A department spokesman told the Philadelphia Inquirer that federal regulations allow the payment of certain relocation expenses, including the costs of house-hunting, moving, terminating leases, and a per diem rate for meals and temporary housing.

Translation: “Shaddup, peasant, or we’ll give the next payroll patriot half a mil.”

What did your last move cost your employer (or, more likely, you?) The VA paid over $2,000 per mile to move Rubens. No matter how Rubenesque her lifetime swilling at the government trough has made her, that’s too much. Remember, when they say they don’t have enough money to treat sick vets, it’s not that they don’t have money. It’s just that spending it on their ostensible mission is a lower priority than six-figure bogus bonuses for underperformers.

Added VA Item: Exec Given Bonuses for Failing retires

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that “embattled” VA official Glenn Haggstrom, who was paid large bonuses — more in bonuses than a middle-class annual income — whilst overseeing $2 billion in cost overruns and blowing through deadline after deadline, has quietly retired . About the only difference this makes is that he can’t get more bonuses now. We paid him for not doing his job before, and now we’re going to pay him for not doing his job for the rest of his life.

Added VA Item: Legislators Introduce Bill requiring VA to fund hospitals over bonuses.

Naturally, the VA opposes the bill. Details here. Driving the bill is the VA’s budgetary incontinence on the cost of construction of a new hospital in Aurora, CO (eastern suburb of Denver), where the cost bill rocketed from $630 million to $1.73 billion, nearly triple, in about eight months, due to mismanagement by Coffman (in fact the original cost was $328 million, so mismanagement has amplified the cost more than fivefold since the beginning). Amid accusations and acrimony all round, the contractor has walked off the job and the hospital project is standing abandoned and vandalized at this writing. But what’s most important to VA managers got taken care of: Coffman got $64,000 in bonuses. We might not have a king, but it’s good to be Beltway nobility. (Silly colonists, thought they’d built a republic).

TSA: Expedited Pre-Check for Notorious Terrorist

Sarah Jane Olson TSAThe weirdo California terrorist gang, the Symbionese Liberation Army, was one of those bizarre ructions of the 70s. But another bizarre ruction of the 70s was giving terrorists short prison sentences, and one of the released SLA creeps was a woman who then went by the nom de guerre Kathy Soliah, but whose real name was Sara Jane Olson. Soliah/Olson showed up at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport recently, where the TSA’s vaunted pre-check system flagged her as a person needing only token screening.

No one good, decent, honest, intelligent, moral or ethical has ever been employed by TSA in any capacity whatsoever.

CBP: The Border Patrol Perv

Elsewhere in the morass that is DHS, it looks like a Border Patrol supervisor was, not to put too fine a point on it, a perv. Armando Gonzalez is charged with setting up hidden cameras to film women in a restroom at the Chula Vista CBP station.

If we’re not going to let the Border Patrol, you know, patrol the jeezly border, then we shouldn’t be shocked when the devil finds work for these idle hands.

The DEA: Hookers OK, So Long As the Drug Cartels Pay

You have to hand it to senior managers of the DEA who figured out how to avoid getting bad press for spending government money on sex parties with throngs of hookers. They just had their good buddies, the drug cartels, pay for the hookers. Hey, no conflict of interest there.

But the report says they really cracked down on the crooked agents who were partying with the drug traffickers: some of them got punitive suspensions of from two to ten days. (The longer suspensions went to Supervisory Special Agents who took bribes from the drug dealers in the form of “money, expensive gifts, and weapons,” according to the OIG report).

We guess now the drug cops and drug dealers go dutch on the whores, and that’s OK. You could say they’re consolidating agency purchases of hookers and hookahs.

Between the DEA hiring their hookers and the ATF shipping them guns, it’s only a matter of time before the Sinaloas and Los Zetas have their own SEIU local.

ATF: Banning Bullets, Buggering Buddies!

ATF-Molan LabeITEM: Speaking of the ATF, America’s Triggerhappy Favorites also got fired up a bit in the same OIG report that broke the story of the DEA’s drug-funded hooker mixers. In a case that’s been widely covered, for example at CleanUpATF.org, the ATF’s Director of Industry Operations was caught by police in New Orleans prostituting himself in a hotel room. He had replaced a bathroom door with one containing a “glory hole” (if you don’t know, count yourself lucky) and advertised his services on Craigslist in the “men seeking men” personals. His defense? He did this all the time while he was traveling. His punishment? None. After all, ATF senior managers don’t want to be biased against gays, prostitutes, and gay prostitutes, especially in senior ATF management where they’re probably pretty common.

ITEM: In addition, “ATF training” meant something different to two training instructors than to the rest of them. The wayward pair seduced new agents in a training class — for years. And the Program Manager covered for them — for years. Their punishment? Well, they’re still there, still screwing all the new hires, so apparently B. Todd Jones and Tom Brandon thought that was punishment enough.

ITEM: ATF’s drone program was crucified by another report. (That’s a news story; here’s the OIG report). The Bureau blew over $600k on six drones it then never used. Then, it threw another six-figure purchase order down, and bought five more of yet another type or kind. It appears to be driven by FBI envy, but the FBI has fixed wing aircraft as well as drones (the FBI also has 17 drones, but only two pilots. Soviet planning lives at the Hoover Building!). ATF lost its authority for fixed-wing capability when it was found to be acquiring OV-10 reconnaissance/strike aircraft after its fiascos at Waco and Ruby Ridge. In the fallout from the attempted attack-plane acquisition, the then-head of aviation services for ATF was found to be stealing from the agency, and went to prison.

It appears that in addition to its two sets of non-working drones, which produced only one failed attempt at flight, ATF has also had drone missions flown by DHS and FBI, although the record-keeping of all three agencies is too dodgy to count them.

It’s the bad managers at ATF that make things hard for the other percent. But now that they’ve blown over a million dollars on drones without anything to show for it, they’ve decided what they really need is a drone needs analysis.

So that they can justify buying moar dronez. Words fail.

ITEM: ATF Agent, AUSA Corruption & Affair sink cases

Last month, a Federal judge threw ATF agent Lou Valoze and AUSA Cameron Ippolito out of the Southern District of Georgia courts for a long-standing affair and related corruption that has tainted every prosecution to emerge from Valoze’s long string of “storefront stings” in the area. Some 332 cases are in jeopardy (200 involving the dynamic duo directly and 132 more involving Ippolito and Valoze’s subordinate agents), and it appears that the two lovers systematically and routinely lied to judges, which judges tend not to like (although you’d think they’d have gotten used to it). An OIG investigation continues, but so far, no consequences for the two crooked Feds. The defendants they lied into jail aren’t happy, and an interesting detail in that same story: Valoze and Ippolito are both married, just not to each other.

These guns, displayed as seized in a Pulaski, GA storefront sting, are some of the guns ATF keeps in Atlanta for press conferences.

These guns, displayed this time as fruits of a Pulaski, GA storefront sting, are some of the guns ATF keeps in Atlanta for press conferences.

It’s possible that some of the criminals Valoze and Ippolito teamed up to incarcerate will stay in, but if so, it will be despite their dishonest efforts.

It was defense attorney Amy Lee Copeland who exposed the Ippolito/Valoze affair, forcing US Attorney Ed Tarver, who had long known of and tolerated it, to admit it to the court.

ITEM: Another US Attorney in Love / Trouble

Amanda Marshall, US Attorney for Oregon, was involuntarily put on leave early this month after credible allegations emerged that she was stalking one of her subordinates.

And that’s not all….

…it looks like even Interpol is rotten to the core, as another tale of nepotism and corruption teaches us.  Which might be a good time to wrap this post up.

interpol

 

 

NOTE

This post has been edited since going live on 271800 Mar 2015. Two more examples have been added to the initial section on the Veterans Administration, thanks to tips in the comments and email.

OT: What Does it Take to Get Fired, if You’re a Professor?

Marco DorfsmanWell, you could ask Marco Dorfsman (amusingly called Draftsman in one place in the story — Damn You Autocorrect!), and he could tell you.

In December of 2012, Dorfsman altered the student evaluations of his colleague, French lecturer Emilie Taplin, by lowering her student evaluation scores. Court documents state that Dorfsman changed the average scores for every class Taplin taught that semester, as well as her overall average awarded by students. The tampering made it appear that her performance fell below acceptable limits for her department, court documents state.

Taplin’s contract for re-employment for the 2013 calendar year was still under consideration and had not been renewed as of the time Dorfsman altered her student evaluations. In January, Dorfsman said he came forward with what he had done.

“Last December I had what I can only say was an emotional breakdown and I did a terrible thing,” Dorfsman said in an email sent to colleagues on April 19, 2013. “I lost my judgment and in a moment of great stress I tampered with a colleague’s student evaluations.”
The Professional Standards Committee of the Faculty Senate terminated Dorfsman in May 2013 due to “moral turpitude” after an investigation.

But wait! If you were to, as we’re always saying, Read The Whole Thing™, you’d see that it’s not necessarily over. Dorfsman fought the firing, and an independent arbitrator let him stay — even while noting that his underhanded attack on Prof Taplin’s reputation (the reason for which attack is not stated, but we reckon we can guess) not only jeopardized her job (we can not find her listed as current UNH faculty) but also her work visa, which was contingent on the job.

A judge has, on appeal by the University, reinstated Prof Dorfsman’s firing, and rejected a motion for reconsideration. Dorfsman may now appeal to a higher court.

From time to time we encountered the guy in SF who had all the tools to excel in SF but instead displayed what our society once was not ashamed to call what the university has called it in this case — “moral turpitude” (a term that can be a legal term of art with a very narrow meaning, but we’re using it in its broadest and most general sense). Sometimes he had buddies and teammates and even leaders who would go to bat for him, but these cases never ended well (one such has just been an occasion for an enlightening backchannel discussion with a distinguished retired SF officer). The right answer always is the same: give the guy leave and impetus to go excel elsewhere.

Prof Dorfsman may feel terrible about what he did, and he may be bound and determined never to commit such a misdeed again. But there is a bell he can’t unring here; a change of horizons may give him a chance to rebuild his reputation, but UNH should not.

We note that even Michael A. Bellesiles, stripped of the Bancroft Prize when his book Arming America: Origins of a National Gun Culture was exposed as an academic fraud (Clayton Cramer played a major role in this exposure), has been rehabilitated, sort of: a college unconcerned with academic integrity has given him a job; his original, bogus book has been republished in all its fraudulent glory by a Communist publishing house; a new book published to glowing reviews (and nearly nil sales) by a New York house which loves his ideology enough to overlook his scholarship, and uncritical, slobbering tonguebaths in the New York Times and Chronicle of Higher Education. Even though Bellesiles has been exposed as a fraud againin an article he wrote for his friends at the Times. Even though some writers clearly no longer trust him and don’t accept his supporters’ claims that it’s all because of a “swiftboating campaign by the NRA” (which also forgets that the Swift Boat officers and men had the truth of it, and Secretary/Senator Kerry is the one who has been dishonest about his past).

So Dorfsman has a way forward: emulate Bellesiles by attacking what academics everywhere abjure (like gun owners, in Bellesiles’s case) and praising what they adore (like central government control of things like guns).  Will he do that?

Update

Before we could even take the post live, Dorfsman is activating that exact exit strategy. Here he is on twitter, seeing raaaaacism (with the obligatory 5 a’s) everywhere:

dorfus1

(note, we’re having a hard time getting images to load at the moment. Bear with us).

…and here he is, praising socialism.

dorfus2

Yeah, it just hasn’t been tried hard enough. You know, by all those sissies. Like Mao. And Stalin. No real surprise, that a guy who would falsify documents to injure another teacher at his own university thinks he’s entitled to Other People’s Money.

When Guns are Outlawed, only Outlaws will have Chef’s Knives

Deasia WatkinsBy every measure, Deasia Watkins was a known nut job. Bat-guano crazy. She heard voices and saw demons. She had a history of drug abuse, mental illness, violence, and threats of violence. And so, Great and Good Government did all it could to protect the person she’d most recently and credibly threatened — her own three-month-old baby.

Except, of course, lock Deasia up.

Silly baby. You trusted Government.

Sometime late Sunday or early Monday morning in a College Hill home, police say, Deasia Watkins broke Jayniah’s arm, stabbed her at least 15 times and cut off her head.

When she’d finished, prosecutors say, Watkins placed the large knife she’d used to kill Jayniah in the baby’s hand and went to bed.

Police found the baby on a kitchen counter Monday morning. They found Watkins in bed, covered in blood.

“This is one of the most disturbing cases I’ve ever seen,” said Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters.

Ah, yeah. Another victim of the easy availability of handguns (and chef’s knives), the craptacular welfare system, and our avert-eyes-until-homicide approach to mental illness, but mostly our approach to mental illness.

The injuries to the baby were so severe, they creeped out the medical examiner, and most of them are more cold-blooded than the killers who send them work projects.

Deters and others investigating the case blame Jayniah’s death on a lethal combination of severe mental illness, a difficult family situation and the inability of the social services system to provide around-the-clock supervision for every child with unstable or neglectful parents.

Watkins had been hospitalized, declared a danger to Jayniah and ordered to stay away from her. Hamilton County’s Job and Family Services took custody of the child and temporarily placed her with an aunt, on condition the mother not be allowed in the home.

Yeah, give a verbal order to a crazy person, and expect obedience. That sounds like the DMV rejects that populate state child-welfare bureaucracies across the nation.

Social workers saw the child at Job and Family Services’ Downtown office as recently as Friday.

Still, Jayniah is dead.

via Mom accused of baby’s beheading was ordered to stay away.

Read on for more mealy-mouthed sniveling from the prosecutor on behalf of his fellow payroll patriots:

When asked about the decision to place the child with the aunt, Deters said the investigation so far has found no red flags that would have warned social workers of a potential danger. “Whether this aunt was the right choice, obviously she wasn’t,” Deters said. “And this tragedy ensued.”

Ah, yes. “This tragedy ensued.” Make the tragedy the subject. Could it get any worse? Well, actually, it can.

Prosecutors say the body was discovered by a 5-year-old relative who had been dropped off at the house that morning before school.

Words fail.

Watkins, who remains under guard at Deaconess Hospital, has not spoken to investigators and appears to be suffering from severe mental illness. Deters said he is unlikely to seek the death penalty in the case because of her mental state.

All the more reason, if you ask us. Give Baby Momma of the Year® the needle, save the next victim from the next time some weak-as-water judge lets her go.

Court records show that Watkins was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis after a Jan. 25 incident at her apartment. Police responded to a 911 call complaining that Watkins was screaming and Jayniah was crying loudly.

This was not this incident; this was a previous incident where she threatened the baby less than two months ago.

Watkins, who police said smelled of marijuana, initially refused to open the door and, once police were inside, refused to hand over the baby. When they took the child, court records say, Watkins passed out with her eyes open.

Hey, drug use harms nobody. Well, except for collateral damage like baby Jaynieh. But that’s not really a consequence of anything. It’s just “this tragedy” that “ensued.”

According to court records, Brown, the child’s father, told them Watkins had been “acting crazy lately, speaking of demons.”

Watkins was supposed to take medication for her mental problems, but Brown later told authorities he had never seen her do so.

Naw, she had weed for that. Who you gonna trust, some punk-as doctor in a clinic, or your local dope dealer? That doctor was such a dork he didn’t even drop out of school; what could he know?

Watkins was taken to University of Cincinnati Medical Center following the Jan. 25 incident and given a psychological evaluation. After being diagnosed with postpartum psychosis, she was admitted to Deaconess Hospital for 72 hours.

Oddly enough, just about as long as Medicaid will pay Deaconess for “treating” this nut job. They probably just locked her in a room and ran out the clock — that’s “mental health treatment” these days.

At a March 6 juvenile court hearing, Magistrate Judge Elisa Murphy ordered Job and Family Services to take custody of the child because she could not be safely placed with the parents.

“Imminent risk of harm exists if the child returns to her surroundings,” Murphy wrote.

It’s great to be a judge and channel Yul Brynner as Ramses in Ben-Hur. “So let it be written; so let it be done!” The problem is, the Egyptian court was scared incontinent of Ramses. The careless, idle bums at child-services agencies know that they can’t be fired, and no matter what a crappy job they do — and in 50 states and 3 territories, they do a crappy job — no one will ever hold them to account.

“And this tragedy ensued.” The reporters won’t even have to write a new story; they’ll be able to reuse this one. Real soon now.

As Air Marshals Lay in Wait to Ambush Hijackers, a Department Exec Ambushed them to Get Laid

Welcome to the Federal Government, where being the kind of woman who boils rabbits is tolerated for years and years — and then, when you take it too far, gets you 15 months (and counting) paid vacation. Of course, the Federal Air Marshals Service is part of what legendarily inept agency?

At the center of the inquiry is Michelle D’Antonio, 48, who worked for the service for more than a decade until she was placed on administrative leave in December 2013. As a program specialist, she was responsible for coordinating delayed, missed or canceled flights and providing other logistical support, giving her access to sensitive government databases.

Instead, current and former employees say, she used her position to look up personnel files, identification photographs and flight schedules to pinpoint air marshals she was interested in meeting and possibly dating.

For some values of the word “dating.” NTTAWWT.

“She’s a ‘badge bunny’ – a woman who likes to date anybody with a badge,” said Lisa Duron, the newlywed wife of a San Diego-based air marshal, Roy B. Duron, who has acknowledged that he had a four-year affair with D’Antonio.

via Air marshals’ flight schedules rearranged for trysts, employees say | Reveal.

Oh, but it gets better. D’Antonio was a problem employee from Day 1, over a dozen years ago. Indeed, she was a litigious employee, suing to demand that she be appointed as an air marshal, even though she was over the Fed’s 37-year-old age cutoff for most armed agent jobs, including the FAMS. She lost that one, but department leadership learned to give her lots of room.  They also learned something about her integrity. The basis of her suit was a claim she was unfairly denied a job that she not only didn’t qualify for, but could not produce any evidence she had applied for. Ever.

Of course, FAMS is part of the TSA. No one good, decent, honest, competent, moral, ethical or intelligent has ever been employed at TSA in any capacity whatsoever. Q.E.D.

Juxtaposition: Who to Trust with Life and Liberty?

Well, with your life, liberty, and a big honkin’ knife?

In New York, a local pol, one Tony Avella, says: “Trust no one.” Avella wants to ban big knives and machetes, since the gun bans already imposed by guys like him have ended all firearms crime in the back alleys of Newburgh and Schenectady, or something.

tony-avella-bill-ban-weapons

So, really, why does he want to do this thing? The New York Daily News (which provides the hilarious picture of him vogueing with the two el cheapo machetes) says:

“The fact that anyone can easily purchase this potentially lethal tool is just crazy,” he said.

Under Avella’s proposed legislation, the mere possession of a machete could lead to a year behind bars.

OK. The ever popular, “Restore sanity by banning stuff I dislike.” We bet he’d have been strong for the Volstead Act. But, don’t let him see the statistics for baseball bats, or his constituents might just have to become fans of the Newark Yankees. But still, why?

… Avella’s push comes in response to an attack last summer on Long Island in which, according to authorities, a man hacked a teenager to death.

On his way to being arraigned, the suspect, David Sadler, 45, told reporters he’d bought the weapon on Craigslist.

Police say Sadler slashed Terrance Grier, 17, in the neck with the massive blade during an argument down the block from Sadler’s Hempstead home in July.

“I didn’t even know it was possible to buy a machete online,” Terrance’s mother, Greta Price, told the Daily News…. “He’d still be alive today if it wasn’t for a machete.”

Yeah, that’ll work. The next guy inclined to “hack a teenager to death” instead will think, “Oh, snap, better not do that! Possession of this-here machete is against the law. Why, I could get in trouble. I guess I’ll just have to give up my little scheme of murdering this kid that irritates me, or use some weapon it’s legal to murder him with.”

What percent of murderers were deterred by the fear of getting in trouble? Exactly, zero. That’s why they’re murderers, for the love of God.

Meanwhile, an old Ranger buddy (tab-Rangers, us, not regiment-Rangers who are the “real” Rangers in our book) sends the following under the title, Waiting for ISIS:

Ranger Ready for ISIL

 

From the inscription on his knife — which is decidedly NSFW if you’re Russian — looks like he’s ready for Little Green Men, too.

The knife is a Cold Steel repop of the OSS Smatchet. Sort of a gladius for the modern age.

So who’s safer, the people who trust their lives and liberty to Wielder #1, or the ones who rely on Wielder #2?

Science on the Army’s Failed UCP

Quick, spot the soldiers (One is in ACU. Two more in Ghillie suit over MultiCam).

Quick, spot the soldiers (One is in ACU. Two more in Ghillie suit over MultiCam).

Today, most US Army soldiers still wear the Army Combat Uniform in the spectacularly failed Uniform Camouflage Pattern, despite the fact that its poor performance across the board reduces soldier concealment and increases soldier exposure. The problems of concealment and exposure are why armies issue camouflage materials in the first place, and ineffective concealment, such as the day-glo UCP, is worse than no attempt at camouflage at all.

We’re currently reading Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle by University of Montana biologist Douglas J. Emlen. We were attracted to the book by its title and cover, which promises a lively read with illustrations of a saber-toothed cat and a knight on an armored and caparisoned horse. But a quick skim brought up two disturbing facts. First, it’s largely based on extrapolation from Emlen’s career as a ground-breaking student of dung beetles, somewhat the opposite end of the animal glamour scale from prehistoric tigers. Second, he concludes with a pointy-headed academic’s ambivalent condemnation of the US side of the Cold War and a feeble complaint that “weapons of mass destruction change the stakes… we’re not likely to survive another arms race,” without proposing an alternative. (The implication seems to be some kind of unilateral or negotiated disarmament. Yet he knows, from his studies, how that works out for humans as well as for animals. The conclusion has the feel of something pasted on to justify his crimethink to his academic peers).

Nonetheless, we are slogging our way through the book. (We’ve mentioned before the SF curse/blessing of persistence to the point of perseverance). And it turns out to be full of many insights, like this one:

Over and over, night after night, Donald [Kaufman] released dark mice and white mice into cages side-by-side. Each time the owl snatched one of the mice, Kaufman recorded which one died, and which survived. He showed that both soil color and mouse color mattered. When the mouse dashed across dark soil, the white mouse was most often taken. When the soil was pale, the pattern was reversed. Owls snatched the darker mouse.NOTE1

Obviously, blending in with backgrounds is essential for soldier survival for precisely the same reasons that it is in mice (imagine conducting a night operation wearing white winter camo). In fact, in 2003 the US Army used a process not unlike Kaufman’s experiment with owls to determine the most effective camouflage patterns for our troops. More than a dozen color and pattern types were assessed against urban, desert, and would want environments, to identify uniforms least likely to stand out.

Ideally, the uniform selection process should have unfolded just like owls selecting for mismatched mice, with the population – in this case the Army – evolving towards the best camouflage possible. Unfortunately, politics in the economics of mass production intervened. Rather than to several different types of uniforms, each the best available for a particular habitat, the army opted for a single Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP).

This may have solved logistical problems of production and distribution, but it also caused our troops to sometimes stand out when they were supposed to be blending in. After all, the solution with mice was two colors, not one, and the reality of diverse combat habitats is that no one pattern blends well in all places.

It didn’t take long for our troops to complain, and by 2009 it was obvious to everyone that the UCP was performing terribly in Afghanistan. The Army then rushed to develop a new pattern called “Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern” (OCP) for soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, which it began issuing in 2010.

We’ve covered the UCP debacle to the death here, before, but it’s interesting to see our views validated, and to see the description of the Kaufman experiments, which we were unaware of (they date to the 1960s), and of more recent findings that confirm Kaufman’s, and that explain the genetic functioning of this natural-selection experiment at the genetic and even molecular level.

Newsmen, We Know Snipers. This Clown Was No Sniper

USMC Sniper scope3In Lake Worth, Florida, the media scared the crap out of the public with sensationalistic headlines.

Report: SWAT Teams Responding to Possible Naked Sniper Situation in Lake Worth

via SWAT Teams in Lake Worth Respond to Possible Sniper Situation | New Times Broward-Palm Beach.

That seems weird. Normally we associate “sniper” with many things, but “naked” isn’t one of them. There’s a pretty substantial difference between one’s ghillie suit and his birthday suit, and most people smarter than a journalist wouldn’t mistake one for the other.

There’s apparently a naked man on a building rooftop on a sniper perch, with a gun. This according to a Facebook and Twitter account called Palm Beach County Alerts.

According to the alert, numerous Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office and Palm Beach Fire Rescue units are surrounding the area of 1700 S. Federal Highway in Lake Worth. That is the address for the Shangri-La Hotel. The area has been evacuated, according to the report.

A guy listening to the public-safety stations on a scanner — something that’s apparently beyond credentialed “reporters” these days — had an interesting fact or two.

He says police are saying the man is naked and rolling around atop the roof of the building. The man also reportedly has a gun and at least at one point placed the weapon in his mouth.

The man is acting extremely psychotic, according to the report.

Ever try to put an M-24 in your mouth, let alone an M82A1? Would. Not. Go.

They never did correct the headline. As the news outlet later admitted they knew at the time, he only had a handgun, and had actually asked someone to call the police, because “I feel delusional, and I’m hallucinating!”

Handgun != sniper. Also, drugs and a handgun and acting out in public != sniper.

Leroy Strothers, 33, put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger when police approached him. It didn’t fire, and he never threatened the cops or anyone but himself. The Palm Beach (County) Sheriff’s Office SWAT team ultimately talked him into giving up the gun. In the follow-up story, the paper suggests that Strothers might have fired one shot in the air before the police came.

He also told the officers that he was under the influence of flakka, a designer drug that is vaped with an e-cigarette (not to be confused with “Budder,” another designer street drug which is a wax form of marijuana). Flakka is made with similar ingredients used to make bath salts, the recreational designer drug that’s made headlines recently and is linked to dangerous hallucinations and maybe even responsible for the face-eating incident in Miami, though that’s still being debated.

Flakka, or “Gravel,” which is an a-PVP (or, methylenedioxypyrovalerone) — a hodgepodge mix of chemicals, like sort of a cross between crack cocaine and meth — is becoming widely popular throughout South Florida. It’s cheap, easy to get and reportedly induces behavior in smokers similar to that of meth.

Police have not confirmed if Strothers was on flakka, but he says he was. When PBSO SWAT was able to calm him down and talk him off the roof, Smothers was arrested and transported to JFK Hospital by Palm Beach Fire Rescue for evaluation.

When officers recovered the gun, they found that it was loaded with eight bullets. Police also found a bullet casing on the roof. Some witnesses had reported on social media seeing Strothers firing the gun into the air before police arrived.

Oh, and how do you think the paper described this buck-naked, pistol-wielding druggie? You know it, “Lake Worth Sniper.”

PTSD claim in 5… 4… 3…

“Ding-dong! A bomb calling!”

That’s been the message that ISIL forces around Kobani have received from the US Air Force’s 9th Bombardment squadron, which is bombing enemy targets before the Kurds, using a plan that seems designed to impose as much friction and Fog of War as possible between the fighters on the ground and the guys toggling off the JDAMs and SDBs.

GBU-39-B-SDB-060801-F-2907C-028

The Wall Street Journal:

The U.S. had established close communications with the People’s Defense Units, or YPG, a Kurdish secularist group that led the fight to defend Kobani. YPG fighters communicated with liaisons and air controllers in the operations centers set up by the U.S.

The Combined Air Operation Center in Qatar then took that information and sent bomb coordinates to the B-1s flying over Kobani.

June 26 airpower summary: B-1Bs bomb enemy vehicles

During as much as eight hours flying over Kobani, the 9th Bomb Squadron would get targets called in to the air operations center from air controllers working with the Kurds. The B-1 crew would get the target, drop a weapon and then get confirmation from the fighters on the ground.

Get that? There’s some JTAC or some individual somehow insulated from being Boots On The Ground™ as designated by the Bugger-Outer-In-Chief. (Probably a non-US person who is employed by a non-DOD agency). He gets on the satcom horn and makes a call for fire, that includes his identity, and the famous “9 lines”:

  1. the initial point/battle position (something identifiable to the aircrew)
  2. heading from that IP/BP to the target or and/or offset;
  3. distance from that IP/BP to the target;
  4. target elevation in feet above Mean Sea Level;
  5. target description (“four enemy technicals in laager”);
  6. target location;
  7. type of target marking, and code if encoded;
  8. location of friendlies;
  9. egress (aircraft’s safest route out after weapons release).

That call arrives at the Combined Air Operations Center in Qatar. It’s received, and logged, and a checklist is run on it to make sure it’s not going to bomb friendlies, or otherwise cause embarrassment to Beltway princelings.

Then, the CAOC in Qatar transmits the targets to the bomber. The crew of the bomber (usually the Offensive Systems operator) transmits the target’s coordinates to the bomb, and the bomb is released to do its thing.

b1b_systems_op_panel

Now, this is better than doing nothing. Although not by great leaps and bounds. (In Afghanistan it worked like this: we called the aircraft. The fighter, for fighter-bombers, or offensive systems operator, for bombers, read back the coordinates. And the bomb landed on it within, really, two minutes).

But the guys are out there flying, and trying. We all know what risks the guys making these calls are taking: ISIL has no Gitmo. And the risks that the B-1B crews are taking are very real, making them rather unlike the Beltway princelings who award each other as Profiles in Courage for following the crowd. And the bomber crews’ story is worth telling — read the whole Wall Street Journal Thing™ — but this is not going to beat ISIL or win the war.

In all history, there has never been a war or campaign won by air power alone. Air power has never even degraded an enemy to the point where he was unable to fight, and every promise to do so — Italy in ’43, France in ’44, Korea in ’50-’53, Vietnam, Kosovo, Desert Storm — beat him up pretty good but certainly didn’t take the fight out of him. Using air power alone says one thing out loud: nobody on our side is really trying to beat ISIL or win the war.

Lesser Battles in the Press Offensive

Promoting the 9th Bombardment Squadron, which will dutifully bomb the grid coordinates given them, and has no doubt manufactured vast quantities of dust and smoke, and some amount of terror and death among the deserving, is one thing. Other parts of the Administration’s press offensive to rehabilitate the battered reputation of Strategic Simpering or whatever they’re hashtagging it this week haven’t gone so well. Spokeswoman Marie Harf, who peaked a couple of years ago as an undergrad when she was measured solely by her ability to replay professors’ shibboleths on demand, looks callow, shallow, and stupid every time she faces a real interviewer.

Probably because she’s actually callow, shallow, and stupid.

Confirming our view that nobody in the Beltway is actually trying to beat ISIL or win the war, Harf spouted endless, ill-formed nonsense about creating jobs and inspiring them to move on from jihad and similar rubbish, nonsense that does our sworn enemies the discourtesy of assuming that they are as callow, shallow and stupid as, for example, Marie Harf.

There is a conspiracy theory that Harf was added to the State Department payroll as a whipping child, to make the callow, shallow and stupid Jennifer Psaki seem statesmanlike. It’s just a reminder that A players hire A players, and John Kerry hires ZZZ players. (And it doesn’t say much for the cat that hired him, either).

But the Administration’s foreign policy rehab offensive, like Lindsey Lohan’s, has many twists and turns on its Nantucket sleighride to the depths of irrelevancy. This morning we caught a report from Iran by the state-controlled media outlet, NPR. NPR is doing a series about how wonderful Iran is, in order to pre-sell the upcoming Chamberlain deal with Iran to the last constituency still starry-eyed over President Selfie’s statesmanship: NPR listeners.

The subject of this installment? How good the Jews have it in Iran. They’re not all oppressed like they are in other countries, like the Zionist Entity. Lord love a duck.

HSI-ICE: Bosses Behaving Badly

Live from New York, It’s Saturday Night…

hsi_badgeAs we indicated, SAC New York James T. Hayes Jr is out. Another SAC (New Orleans, LA)  is getting an extremely well-paid, long term TDY to the Big Apple while the HQ types are vying to outdo one another at the prodigious levels of suckuppery required to land one of the agency’s plum assignments, with a lot of headcount and a lot of TV exposure for the guy or gal that wants it.

By taking the position on a TDY basis, the NOLA guy signals that he’s not interested in it permanently, and prevents a second feeding-frenzy for his position.

And Then There’s the Friday the 13th Free Agent…

ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña, who sees her job as turning it into the US Immigrations and Customs Non-Enforcement Agency, sent all hands the following message:

A Message from Director Saldaña
To all ICE employees
February 13, 2015

A.T. Smith Coming to ICE as Senior Advisor for Cybercrime

I am pleased to welcome A.T. Smith as Senior Advisor for Cybercrime within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Previously, Mr. Smith served as the Deputy Director of the United States Secret Service, where he executed oversight of the agency’s daily operations. In his new role as Senior Advisor for Cybercrime, Mr. Smith will bring his expertise to ICE’s fight against transnational cyber criminals.

Before his service as Deputy Director, Mr. Smith served in numerous offices and senior leadership posts in the Secret Service, including: Assistant Director – Investigations 2010-2012; Assistant Director – Human Resources and Training 2008-2010; Deputy Assistant Director – Office of Investigations 2006-2008; Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office 2003–2006; Special Agent in Charge of the Secret Service training academy; Executive Assistant to the Director; and Assistant to the Special Agent in Charge of the Presidential Protective Division.

Mr. Smith began his law enforcement career in 1978 as a communications dispatcher for the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office. Mr. Smith also held the positions of uniformed Deputy, Sergeant and Lieutenant, within the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office. He joined the Secret Service on 1986 as a special agent assigned to the Miami Field Office.

Mr. Smith received his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of South Carolina, and holds Master of Science degrees from the University of Alabama and from the Johns Hopkins University School of Business.

Please join me in welcoming Mr. Smith to ICE.

Sarah R. Saldaña
Director
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Why is this man scowling? He just got fired, and landed in a bucket of money, all because of Clinton nepotism.

Why is this man scowling? He just got fired, and landed in a bucket of money, all because of Clinton nepotism. Hr should be cackling maniacally.

Notice anything missing from the résumé of one Alvin “A.T.” Smith, who brings “his expertise to ICE’s fight against transnational cyber criminals,” in the words of the very Red Queen of  Amnesty-by-Non-Enforcement? What’s missing?

Like, any previous involvement in cyber investigations or enforcement? What “expertise”? This is management by the “one waivered beltway drone is just as good as any other waivered beltway drone” standard.

But wait… “waivered”? Why did this paragon of Beltway managerial excellence, who knows less of cyber than our Aunt Mildred (and she’s dead), cross the street from USSS to ICE?

It seems he departed from the Secret Service earlier this week, on account of ill health: they got sick of him. Every senior executive around him bit the dust after a series of protection and investigative fumbles exposed a culture of incompetence in the agency’s top ranks. The AP reported:

Amid the upheaval at the Secret Service, lawmakers, including House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, criticized Smith, saying he was at the center of bad decisions made in a series of Secret Service scandals.

Chaffetz and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings both identified Smith as a dud and a problem child, and, according to Democrat activist Lauren French, writing at Politico:

Chaffetz, now the committee’s Republican chairman, began investigating misconduct. Just this week, he and Cummings — the committee’s top Democrat — helped shove much-maligned Secret Service Deputy Director Alvin “A.T.” Smith to the exit.

Chaffetz said he repeatedly argued during meetings with [new Secret Service Director] Clancy, DHS officials and senior White House officials that Smith, a 28-year-agency veteran, was a major drag on the agency’s morale and operations.

Cummings and Chaffetz met with Clancy during a classified meeting Tuesday, which followed two private meetings in February with the White House and Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The lawmakers have two more meetings in 2015 on the Secret Service’s response to the White House jumper and a shooting outside Vice President Joe Biden’s Delaware home.

Chaffetz “specifically said Smith needs to go [during these meetings], and the fact that ranking member Cummings went hand and hand with him only made it stronger,” said an Oversight investigator familiar with the conversations.

Smith also drew criticism for approving changes to how new recruits and officers are trained that lawmakers have complained leave the agency short of well-trained officers ready to respond to security problems. Last year, Smith also took criticism after revelations that he had diverted agents from the White House to check in on a Secret Service administrative assistant who was involved in a dispute with a neighbor.

More than two dozen whistleblowers contacted Chaffetz during the two years he’s run point on the Secret Service investigation for the House — and nearly all of them complained about Smith’s role, he said.

But Smith, a highly political (and partisan) animal always willing to bend the agency’s rules to please his political-appointee superiors, was a favorite of DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson. (He is also closely tied to Hillary Clinton, whose patronage enabled his rise from Special Agent to Deputy Director; while he was on Hillary’s detail he married into the Clinton family).

Seven other Secret Service senior executive service managers have been forced out by the 2012 prostitution scandal, a training-failure scandal, and protective failures at the White House and Blair House, the official residence of the Vice President. Smith was involved in all those failures, but he was the only one not held to account.

So Johnson played a game of 3-card Monte with Smith, shuffling him to HSI and directing Saldaña to create a do-nothing sincecure for him.  He was the only one of the top 8 at Secret Service to “fail upward.” Per the AP story above:

DHS initially refused to disclose what Smith would do at ICE, saying only that he was transferring to that agency’s Homeland Security Investigations unit.

Of course, they didn’t disclose it because they didn’t really want the guy and didn’t have any earthly idea Apart from necessity, a reason for his jump may be money: rumor is, they’re paying him more than the $183k (plus a car, a bodyguard team –why? What enemy would attack a guy who does nothing but screw our side up?, and a guaranteed-never-audited expense account) that he had at Secret Service. His overall compensation package costs the taxpayers over a half million dollars a year, accounted the way businesses have to account for personnel costs.

The lateral move or promotion — which it is, is not clear — came so rapidly that Smith’s bio is still up at Secret Service as this blog post goes live.

Is he worth it? Not to the United States. But apparently he is to Sarah Saldaña and Jeh Johnson.

And it’s not like they’re spending the money on immigration and customs enforcement anyway.