Category Archives: Lord Love a Duck

Army Combat Power to be Halved

An abandoned Army barracks -- soon to be a more common sight.

An abandoned Army barracks — soon to be a more common sight.

The determined pursuit of a “peace dividend” where there is none to be had  is likely to cut Army combat power — as expressed by number of combat brigades — approximately in half in the next five years.

Both active-duty and National Guard brigades face the ax, in order to increase funds available for national priorities: so-called poverty programs, corporate welfare for crony capitalists, and other direct payments to individuals.

Gen. John Campbell, the Army’s vice chief of staff and second highest-ranking member, in an interview with The Hill said the service is already planning to make cuts to its combat brigades, basic Army units of 5,000 soldiers that can be deployed and sustain themselves overseas.

Campbell did not say exactly how few active-duty brigades the Army could afford to have with the smaller Army, which is being cut from 510,000 soldiers currently.
But he said the number of brigades would have to be reduced to below 32, the number tied to a troop strength of 490,000. The Army had 45 brigades last year.

“That 32 is tied to 490,000 not 450,000. … At 450,000 or 420,000 we can’t keep the same amount,” Campbell said.

A Feb. 28 report from the Congressional Research Service cited an Army briefing suggesting active-duty brigades could be cut to 24 with an Army of 420,000 soldiers in 2019.

Cutting active-duty brigades by that much could dramatically alter U.S. capabilities overseas.

For example, the Army might not be able to keep two active-duty brigades in Europe.

That would send a negative signal to Eastern Europe, where fears about Russia have grown with that country’s military intervention in Ukraine.

It would leave the Pentagon with much fewer brigades to deploy around the world for military and humanitarian work. It would also reduce opportunities for training, and could limit U.S. support for some international missions.

The Congressional Research Service report said a 420,000-soldier Army would also mean reducing National Guard brigade combat teams (BCTs) to 22.

“An Army force structure of 24 [active] and 22 [reserve] BCTs lacks the capacity to conduct simultaneous major combat operations while defending the nation at home, sustaining minimal presence in critical regions, and retaining a Global Response Force (1 BCT) at the direction of the commander-in-chief,” the paper said.

Nora Bensahel has never served a day in the military, but with Ivy League and Stanford degrees, she knows that's for chumps.

Nora Bensahel, a made gal in the Democratic anti-military establishment, has never served a day in the military. But with Ivy League and Stanford degrees, she knows that’s for chumps.

The following is notable because the Center for a New American Security is a Democrat-partisan, Obama-positive think tank created as an alternative to old-fashioned think tanks that focused on obsolete things like strategy, and not on how awesome President Boyfriend is. And even they are not on board with it:

Nora Bensahel, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, said the impact of cuts would depend on exactly what kind of brigades are cut.

For example, she said, cutting light infantry brigades would mean less capability to conduct counterinsurgency wars, while cutting heavy armored brigades would mean fewer tanks to use in a possible contingency.

“If you have a scenario that requires tanks, and you don’t have enough, our forces will do less well, and more people will get killed,” Bensahel said.

via Army to cut combat brigades | TheHill.

Of course, the “more people will get killed” bit, is all academic to amoral, self-serving parasites like Nora Bensahel, embedded in the Beltway gravy like a tick in an epidermal layer. She’s not going to get killed. Nobody she knows or cares about is going to get killed. It’ll be a bunch of chumps who didn’t even get into a second-tier school, as the Nora Bensahels of the world rate it.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will…

You’ll see why we didn’t finish the sentence in the title. And why there’s no picture with this post. Remember yesterday, when we were complaining that the statewide Gun Free Zone that is California was full of depravity, because someone was spearing cats with field-point target arrows? Well, today it’s worse: somebody’s spearing a dog, and he’s not using arrows.

Twice in recent months, the dog’s owner heard his pet shriek during the night in the backyard in the 1900 block of Summerland Avenue. He suspected she was reacting to a prowler. The owner then installed video equipment and was horrified Nov. 10 when he discovered what was on video from earlier that morning. He watched as a man fed the dog something, causing the animal to relax, and sexually assaulted her.

via Mother of San Pedro man accused of sex with dog says she’s sorry.

True, this is an old case (from November). But hey, it lets us bag on SoCal when it’s mid-March here and still in the single digits (F) at night.

While we had before and after pics of Princess the speared cat, kindly bear with is for having no images (and definitely no x-ray) for this one, please. Just thinking about it makes one call for the brain bleach.

According to Palos Verdes patch.com, police technicians ran a rape kit on the poor dog. And Caceres might not have stopped with dogs: he had applied to work in a mortuary. More brain bleach… stat!

As you can probably imagine, the accused doggie diddler is not taking interview requests, but the Press-Telegram did snag an interview with his mother, who turns out not to be canine after all:

The mother of a young man charged with sexually assaulting a San Pedro family’s 80-pound Akita said Wednesday she has apologized to the dog’s owners, but supports her son as he begins moving through the legal process.

“Our prayers are with our son,” said Lisa Caceres, whose 22-year-old son, Christopher Caceres, remained in custody in county jail Wednesday. “My husband and I had no idea. We already spoke to the people and told them the same thing. He needs help, and we are sorry about what happened.”

His mother, who seems like a decent sort, as appalled as the next person at her son’s behavior, is supporting his criminal defense, but she draws the line at reviewing the evidence:

“I have not seen it. I don’t want to see it,” the mother said.

Don’t blame her; us, neither.

The good news is that, if convicted, the dogs of San Pedro could be safe from buggery by Caceres for the length of his incarceration. His sentence might be as high as nine years’ imprisonment. The bad news is that, in California’s revolving door prisons, no one stays locked up except Charles Manson, and we’re not really sure about him. And further bad news:  Caceres is almost certainly not the only sick puppy perpetrating pooch pederasty in the Golden State.

 

Is this gun ad “in poor taste?”

Michelangelo's DavidThat’s what Armalite admits after pulling the ad in a welter of condemnation from various official Italian sources. The ad depicts Michelangelo’s David armed with the David’s Sling of today, a .50-caliber sniper rifle. (The image embiggens).

Here’s a brief take from National Review:

The gun maker ArmaLite ran an ad as part of its “A Work of Art” campaign that features Michelangelo’s David holding a sniper rifle and has come under fire for it — from the Italian government, which owns the statue and claims it’s intellectual property.

In response to the ad, Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini recently tweeted, ”The advertisement image of an armed David offends and violates the law. We will act against the American company to make sure it withdraws the campaign immediately.”

Angello Tartuferi, director of the Accademia Gallery in Florence, where the statue is on display, told La Repubblica newspaper that Italy owned the copyright to David, saying “the law says that the aesthetic value of the work cannot be distorted. In this case, not only is the choice in bad taste but also completely illegal.”

ArmaLite has apologized for the ad and withdrawn it, saying it was “in poor taste.” “We deeply regret that ArmaLite offended anyone by this media campaign,” the company’s statement said. The ad was for the AR-50A1, a .50-caliber sniper rifle.

Now, who knows what evil dwells in the heart of Italian copyright law, but this is certainly not a copyright violation here in the USA.

And, is it in poor taste? We don’t think so. One of 2014′s projects is to build a larger gun room (or, to be accurate, to have one built for us) and we’d love to have a poster of this hanging there.  What do you think?

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have arrows

"Princess," one of the two slain cats.

“Princess,” one of the two slain cats in North Long Beach..

As seems increasingly common, these stories of depravity seem to come from places where guns are already outlawed, or at least, irrationally restricted. Make of that what you will, but this one took place in Southern California, where assault-weapon bans, “bullet buttons,” may-issue-but-not-to-the-likes-of-you pistol permits, and a generous social safety net hammock, have eliminated all causes of crime, and brought us into the new sunlit dawn of the New Soviet Man. Or something.

Except for the one paradise-dweller who didn’t get the word, and spends his days reenacting the Little Big Horn, with neighbors’ cats playing the role of Yellow Hair.

Long Beach Animal Care Services and police officers are searching for the person or people who used arrows to shoot and kill two cats in a matter of a few weeks in North Long Beach.

“This is very concerning especially when you realize there is a pattern,” said Ted Stevens, manager of the Animal Care Services.

Over the weekend, a woman brought her injured cat to Long Beach Animal Hospital with an arrow protruding from its abdomen.

Dr. Carl Palazzolo, treated the cat, but it ultimately died during surgery.

“No one should shoot a pet. Period,” Palazzolo said. “It should be everyone’s concern. It’s cruelty to animal and morally wrong and illegal. It’s that simple.”

This XRay shows how Princess was wounded with a field-point arrow. Surgery did not save the animal.

This X-Ray shows how Princess was wounded with a field-point arrow. Surgery did not save the animal.

Photographs taken before the cat was taken into surgery Sunday evening showed how deep the the metal-tipped arrow entered the animal’s abdomen.

The cat was taken into surgery where Palazzolo was able to remove the arrow and put the lobe of the animal’s liver back into place, but the cat did not survive the surgery, he said.

via Cats shot, killed with arrow in Long Beach.

The two cats were shot within a block or so of each other in North Long beach, in January and February respectively. There has been a lot of publicity about the case, but the police have made no arrests.

It goes without saying that the person who would do this to an animal is a serious threat to all of the human beings in his life.

Obstacle on the Drop Zone!

49-year-old skydiver John Frost was lining up for a landing when something happened to him. That something was a Cessna 170, which hit his parachute canopy. Both skydiver and plane slammed to the ground, and to the amazement of passersby and the photographer who took these pictures, both survived.

plane-skydiver-crash-4

It happened around 11 a.m. Saturday, when 87-year-old Sharon Trembley was doing takeoff and landing maneuvers in his private Cessna airplane from the South Lakeland Airport.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office says that on Trembley’s third pass, the passenger-side wing of his plane became entangled in and then cut the strings of skydiving parachutist John S. Frost while they were less than 75 feet in the air.

plane-skydiver-crash-6

Frost, 49, was flung to the ground and the plane nose-dived and crashed into the surface as well.

plane-skydiver-crash-7

Dramatic pictures taken by photographer Tim Telford and distributed by the Sheriff’s Office capture the moment of impact between Trembley and Frost.

plane-skydiver-crash-8

“Thought I’d have very exciting pics of a close flyby,” Telford tells 10 News. “Never in a million years did I think I’d see what I saw.”

Both men were transported by ambulance to Lakeland Regional Medical Center.  Frost was treated and released, while Trembley was held for observation. Neither were seriously hurt.

Telford calls that a miracle.  “The plane caught the side of the canopy, flipped the plane 180 degrees and flipped the skydiver into the air. You heard the airplane hit the parachute, which sounded like you falling on your face into your pillow; a ‘woof’ sound.”

via Florida skydiving crash pictures show pilot Sharon Trembley colliding with skydiver John Frost in Mulberry; neither seriously hurt | wtsp.com.

The TV Station that featured this report, WTSP, notes wryly that Saturday was the annual Safety Day for the US Parachute Association, the sanctioning body for American sport parachuting.

plane-skydiver-crash-1

Well, both men are safe! And they have an experience to dine out on. No harm, no foul, eh?

(And we sure hope we’re still flying at age 87. That would be nice. But we’ll pass on skydiver collisions — at higher altitude, that would have been fatal for both. There was a lot of luck in the air over Florida last Saturday).

Update

Fox News Tampa has a more complete set of stills, and a video that, while shot from a distance and partly obstructed, shows (when they run it at full speed, not the usual step motion) how fast this event happened, and interviews the pilot.

Massachusetts, Where Peeping Toms are Now Legal

pervert-1So yesterday there was a decision from the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, or, as everybody who doesn’t have to pretend to respect these asshats (because he practices law in their court) knows them, The Clown School.

In the instant case they had a perv who had spent his entire adult life, essentially, peeping, creeping, and shooting pictures up the skirts of women on the subway.

So… being that this is Massachusetts, they decided

  • that the guy had to be acquitted, or actually, the case had to be dismissed.
  • and he had to be let go.
  • because there’s nothing wrong with what he was doing.
  • and so, he can go do it now all he wants.

While this decision has, predictably, drawn some flak, what hasn’t been tied to it as far as we know is the retirement (after the decision was made, but before it was revealed) of the Chief Injustice of the Clown School, one Roderick Ireland. Ireland was an affirmative action hire, put into place with explicit instructions to see that fewer violent felons get incarcerated. Ireland clearly wanted to clear the decks before the press got hold of the court’s unanimous pro-perv ruling.

The Governor likes the soft-on-crime court: “I think the morale in the court system and the sense by litigants that they have been heard and fairly treated is very, very strong right now, and I think that is about Justice Ireland.”

In fact, of the seven members of the court, a majority (4) are Deval Patrick appointees, appointed with a view to soften the state’s already laughably soft punishments for criminals. Criminals and their families are an important Patrick constituency.

Victims, on the other hand, are not.

When guns are outlawed… Anglestan edition

mayor farmerIn far-off Anglestan, where guns are outlawed and everyone has moved on to the bright sunlit uplands of a gun free zone world, there’s always that 5% doesn’t get the word. For example, there’s the local politician who had the bad judgment to keep an empty old war trophy locked in a cupboard.

A Conservative former mayor and veteran army reservist has been dramatically arrested in an early-morning police raid and charged with owning a live 70-year-old Nazi wartime gun.

Officers with search dogs swooped on the home of Councillor Jonathan Farmer, 56, of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, and seized a German Walther PPK pistol dating back to the Second World War.

Police said they were acting on a tip-off and had a warrant to search his home for firearms. He will appear in court next Monday and could face a five-year jail sentence if found guilty.

Farmer – whose wife Susanah is acting town clerk of Wisbech – has temporarily stepped down from helping to run the local army cadet force.

Yes, yes! You definitely don’t want a man with a gun involved with the local Army cadet force.

He told the Fenland Citizen: ‘It was given to me by a friend, mainly because his wife wanted it out of the house. I just kept it in a cupboard.

‘When he gave it to me, he said not to fire it because it had been deactivated. He said it would blow my hand off, so I never did and I assumed it was pretty safe.

‘But I suppose I shouldn’t have kept it. It was a sentimental thing – and it’s a beautiful piece of engineering. My life as it was has been pretty much eviscerated.’

The Walther PPK handgun was a gift to the bomb disposal expert from a British veteran of the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy in 1944.

The soldier took the deadly weapon, a much-treasured war souvenir, from a captured German officer, and Farmer – the former mayor of Wisbech – has owned it for 30 years.

Farmer was arrested on January 19, taken to a police station at Kings Lynn, Norfolk, and bailed.

Farmer served as mayor of Wisbech from 2008 to 2009 and is a member of both Tory-ruled Fenland District and Wisbech Town councils.

via Tory former mayor arrested ‘for owning a Nazi pistol from Second World given to him as a gift’ | Mail Online.

Now, to American ears, this British crusade against firearms of all kinds seems to be a bit excessive. At least they stopped doing it here after 1781, and what they do in their own backward little country is their own business, after all. But surely, this anti-gun policy, which has included a complete ban on handguns for almost 20 years, has had an effect in producing a crime free environment. Yes?

Well, there is this piece of evidence:

A man is in hospital after a ‘drive-by’ shooting where a gunman on a motorbike opened fire on a car as it crossed London’s Waterloo Bridge.

The motorbike is thought to have pulled up alongside a black Ford Focus before a pillion passenger – sitting behind the driver – shot the driver through the window.

Armed police were called to the scene and the victim, believed to be aged 22, was taken to hospital.

 (Of course the British journalists are just as careful about the facts as their American peers: a photograph accompanying the article shows a Ford Focus identified as the victim’s car. It’s white. Maybe the reporter suffers from rare black-white color blindness).

Update:

Farmer faces trial on April 22, and is looking at five years in prison (BBC version of the same story). Sebastian calls it “destruction of history,” and his comments noted that, appropriately enough for a Nazi gun, Farmer was turned in by a police informer, which is apparently a career option in modern Britain.

Is South Carolina nuts?

Maybe not the whole state, but a lot of its citizens seem to be. The headline noted the 65 gun permits revoked for mental illness once SC started comparing its mental health database  with its gun permit database. And the lede was the 12 concealed weapons permit applicants who were denied because they came up hot on the mental health check.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-lJZiqZaGA

But the shocking thing to us was the assertion that the mental health unit of teh State Law Enforcement Division is adding 500 names a week to the database. How many South Carolinians are barking at the moon down there? That’s 26,000 nuts a year! SC has about 4.7 million inhabitants, so just a bit over 1/2 of 1% of them are going bats in a given year.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – The chief of South Carolina’s law enforcement agency says a law meant to prevent the mentally ill from buying guns has already led to 12 people being denied a concealed weapons permit.

Chief Mark Keel told legislators Friday that the State Law Enforcement Division has also revoked 65 permits because of the law approved last May.

The law ensured the names of residents declared mentally ill by a South Carolina court go into a federal database so they can be caught by a background check. It was already illegal to sell guns to someone who is mentally ill. But the lack of reporting meant gun shops didn’t get that information.

Keel says the agency’s new mental health reporting unit averages putting 500 names a week into the database.

via SLED: 65 Gun Permits Revoked.

The 87 mental patients (12 denials + 65 revocations) seem to be the tip of the nutberg.

So we thought we’d check some official data. Is a half percent of a state being nuts, we hate to use the word, but, normal? So we went to NIMH, which ought to have some good statistics on the nation’s laughing-academicians. Turns out, half a percent is nothing, according to the nation’s Official Keeper of the Nut Job Count:

An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.1 When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people.2

Yipes, stripes! That means 1.25 million Palmetto Staters should be nuts, unless the state’s much saner than average.

Except it doesn’t seem right for more than one in four people to be laughing-academy material. So they break it down: 9.5% mood disorders (that doesn’t sound so bad, but wait); 18.1% anxiety disorders, 9.1% personality disorders, plus a percent or so for Schizophrenia or Autism. And it turns out that within each category, there are seriously disabling and “dude, you’re gunning for a phony disability” kinds of illnesses. They also count suicides as mentally ill, even when noting the peak suicide demographic is men over 85. (They might be despairing, but it’s hard to argue these elderly suicides are all nuts).

And yeah, “mood disorders” is a clinical term which doesn’t necessarily mean the teenage sulks, but could encompass full Norman Bates oughta-be-locked-up-itis.

Yes, their numbers don’t add up, and yes, they’re obviously not using the same definition as South Carolina.

Now, here’s another statistical check the Associated (with terrorists) Press reporter could have done, if he were interested in reporting rather than arguing. He could have asked himself… is the proportion of mentally ill people applying for pistol permits greater or lesser than average?

The last year for which SLED has posted the data is 2010, which shows a total of 119,340 pistol permits (the number is certainly much larger in 2014). That means:

  • The percent of SC residents who have a license is approximately: 2.5%.
  • The percent of LTC applicants who were revoked or denied for mental illness is approximately: 0.073%. That’s 73 thousandths of a percent.

And we wonder how many of these 87 will clear their names on appeal, because the mental illness adjudication applies to someone with a similar name, or was a transient thing (i.e. a period of depression not rising to the level of a disorder, resolved) years ago. But even if none of them do, it looks like the permit holders (and applicants) are saner than normal. Whatever “normal” is.

Able was I ere I saw Elba, is all we have to say about that. 

Update:

While only up to 2010 stats are fully online, broken down by county, SLED (South Carolina Law Enforcement Division) has posted aggregate 2013 stats (the ones we want) as follows:

Active Permits as of December 31, 2013 —– 229,456
Permits Issued in 2013 ———————- 83,012
Permits Denied in 2013 ————————1,272
Permits Renewed in 2013 ——————— 38,617
Permits Revoked in 2013 ———————— 364

That means that:

  • The percent of SC residents who have a license is approximately: 4.9% as of December 31.
  • The percent of LTC applicants who were revoked or denied for mental illness is approximately: 0.038%. That’s 38 thousandths of a percent. The percentage who were denied and revoked for all purposes (including the nut jobs) is aboout 7/10 of a percent.

You’re looking at contraband here

What, the guns? These three beautifully engraved guns by the late Indiana engraving wizard Ben Shostle — a Luger, a Mauser, and a Colt — are being auctioned as a lot by Amoskeag Auction Company of Manchester, New Hampshire next month. But as it turns out, it’s not the guns: it’s the grips.

Amoskeag 6393-171 Shostle engraved Luger etc

 

The little .25 hammerless Colt 1908 is out of the woods. As you can see from the picture (and do embiggen it), the Browning-designed pocket pistol’s grips are mother-of-pearl.

But the grips of the other two guns are ivory. We’re reminded of the famous statement by George S. Patton Jr.: “Only a pimp in a whorehouse would have pearl grips on a handgun! My pistols’ grips are ivory.”

Quite.

But as it turns out, there’s trouble with ivory.

Ivory is a natural material, which comes from the tasks of elephants. All three species’ tusks yield ivory, but the pure white, durable ivory we know on gun grips comes from African bush elephants, loxodonta africana. Because of habitat destruction and poaching, all elephants are endangered species. Therefore, traffic in newly-processed ivory has been banned for 25 years in the United States. In the rest of the civilized world, ivory that has been harvested in accordance with environmental and species-preservation best practices is still available for sale, with appropriate certifications. But the US does not accept that. So the only ivory you see on American guns is either old ivory, that predates the 1989 Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), or it’s false, artificial ivory. Doug Bandow writes at Forbes about the way the law has worked, right up until now:

Until now the rules were simple and sensible. Ivory imported legally, that is, prior to 1989 or after 1989 with CITES certification that international standards were met, could be sold. Older ivory usually can be identified by coloring, stains, style, wear, quality, subject, and more. Some features can be faked, but most of the older work simply isn’t replicated today.

Moreover, the burden of proof fell on the government, which had to prove that you violated the law. That standard is inconvenient for zealous prosecutors. But that’s the way America normally handles both criminal and civil offenses.

A new administrative rule promulgated by the Obama Administration (1) bans all sales of ivory items that are not documented as having been imported pre-1989; (2) establishes a presumption that all ivory, anywhere, in the USA, is contraband, a presumption that can only be rebutted with comprehensive documentation; and puts the burden on the possessor of the ivory to prove his innocence, whilst relieving prosecutors of the burden of proving anyone’s guilt.

The rules will be enforced by armed agents — including, we are not making this up, SWAT teams — of the Fish & Wildlife Service, which has been frustrated by the difficulty of finding and prosecuting actual poached-ivory traffickers, and has decided to pimp its confiscation and conviction numbers. To do this, it’s going to refocus on heirloom ivory by turning all possessors into criminals with a penstroke, and make lots of busts rapidly so as to have an excuse for increases in headcount and budget.

Resources have already been shifted from pursuing the criminal element — Bandow cites a pair of New York contraband dealers who were busted with millions of dollars’ worth of poached ivory — to targeting the easier-to-find heirloom market. The shift in the presumption of innocence and standard of proof means that the F&WS Fishtapo needn’t be inconvenience by that pesky Constitution or the blatherings of defense attorneys.

Why? In a .pdf from last November that predates the new rules, the Fishtapo explains that:

It is extremely difficult to differentiate legally acquired ivory, such as ivory imported in the 1970s, from ivory derived from elephant poaching. Our criminal investigations and anti- smuggling efforts have clearly shown that legal ivory trade can serve as a cover for illegal trade.

So they “solve” the problem, by making all ivory illegal. No decision for PC Plod to overheat his brain stem with; no pesky legal market. Not only do they no longer have to figure out who the illegal traffickers are hiding among the legal sellers, they don’t even have to look for the illegal traffickers anymore.

(Incidentally, that .pdf explains that the economic illiterates of the Fishtapo think that they’re reducing demand for ivory by destroying it… they explain how reducing the supply reduces the demand! Someone give those bozos the Nobel Prize for Inverted Economics).

We’re still looking for the actual NPRM, but if it’s as Bandow describes it, you know what else is banned? Bringing back your elephant trophy from an African safari. CITES allowed about 1430 sport-hunted elephants’ tusks to be exported from a variety of African nations last year, perfectly legally and with full international approval. After all, those nations use hunting as a key tool in wildlife management. Now, under the new rules, designed so that no Fishtapo agent need ever sweat, or even look for an actual criminal, to make a case ever again, they can’t be imported or possessed. Hell, they can’t be transported inter- or intra-state.

Whose idea was this? It’s hard to say, because it comes from Washington, where everybody lines up to cash his check, but no one lines up to take any responsibility. According to Bandow, the idea was cooked up in a star chamber somewhere in official Washington, with no input from the sort of people who might own an old Steinway with ivory keys — or an engraved, ivory-handled pistol.

Hat tip: Wizbang blog, which can’t resist snarking: “Of course, we know that Obama is interested in saving the animals from the land of his birth, and all, but…” Of course they’re joking. 

Guns sway New York Times coverage of Ukrainian Civil War

A sharp and bloody civil war is raging in Ukraine, a war with ethnic, linguistic, political, and other roots in a deeply divided society. But you know why the civil war is bad? If you read the American press, it’s because of the guns. Gee, why didn’t we think of that!

Maidan before and after

The press is true to its antigun ethos, with one reporter arguing in a tweet that “protesters using firearms in Kiev” were “Horrible tactics – practically begging for a military crackdown.” Max Fisher’s “bitch had it coming” analysis of the protests tweet linked to this New York Times story, which also blames the protesters, not the police that are gunning them down:

“There will be many dead today,” Anatoly Volk, 38, one of the demonstrators, said. He was watching stretchers carry dead and wounded men down a stairway slick with mud near the Hotel Ukraina.

Mr. Volk said the protesters had decided to try to retake the square because they believed the truce announced around midnight was a ruse. The young men in ski masks who led the push, he said, believed it was a stalling maneuver by President Yanukovych to buy time to deploy troops in the capital after the authorities decided the civilian police had insufficient forces to clear the square.

“A truce means real negotiations,” Mr. Volk said. “They are just delaying to make time to bring in more troops. They didn’t have the forces to storm us last night. So we are expanding our barricades to where they were before. We are restoring what we had.”

Gunfire crackled around the Hotel Ukraina and protesters were hit in front of the Globus shopping mall. One protester walked near the fighting with a double-barreled shotgun slung over a shoulder.

“If our guys are dying, excuse me, what can I say,” said the man, who offered only his first name, Oleg. “If they didn’t use guns, the idea never would have come to us.”

The wide use of firearms in the center of the city was a new and ominous phase for the protest movement.

via As Kiev Truce Shatters, Rumors Grow That President Will Declare State of Emergency – NYTimes.com.

The essential divide in Ukraine is an ethnic one. Yanukovych and his party, fundamentally a neo-Soviet party, led by ethnic Russians and comfortable with subservience to Moscow. (Indeed, at every step in the instant crisis Yanukovich has sought and received instructions from his lord and master, Tsar Vladimir). They consider Ukrainians second-class citizens at best. The protesters are predominantly ethnic Ukrainians, who see the Russians through the prism of centuries of Russian oppression, including the Holodomor. On this map from CNN, Russian speaking regions are darker red:

ukraine_map_region_language

The dynamic of ethnic-Russians-who-were-Soviet-era-overlords and local-ethnics-who-were-underlings has played out in the 14 non-Russia former USSR Republics and various former Autonomous Zones. It has come to shots in the Ukraine because the two parties are in rough demographic balance. This map, strikingly similar to the one above, shows the vote turnout — the Russophones voted for Yanukovych.

ukraine_map_region_vote

The peak of the current violence seems to have come when government sniper teams targeted protest leaders. US criticism of the crackdown has been ineffective in the light of Washington’s foreign and defense policy leadership vacuum. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel can’t even get his Ukrainian counterpart to answer the phone or return a call. If that’s not a sign of contempt, we don’t know what is.

Not everyone in the press has swung around to the neo-Soviet side where Fisher and the Times reporting team are comfortable. Sarah Kendzior has a piece in Politico, waspishly calling out Acela Corridor journalists like Fisher for “pretending to care about Ukraine.” Nicole Gervitz (whoever she is) did slam Max Fisher’s “bitch had it coming” tweet:

When people take up arms to protect themselves from the state that wants them dead, they are not “asking for it.”

Yeah. What she said.

Update

The situation continues to develop apace. Security forces leaders, including  reportedly lost their stomach for internal violence and have sworn loyalty to the nation, implying their willingness to maintain order for a new regime. Opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko has been released from prison, and parliament has deposed Viktor Yanukovych, former President.

Yanukovych fled by helicopter, with a few personal followers, to the ethnic Russian city of Kharkhov (of tank battle fame) in eastern Ukraine, a hotbed of neo-Soviet sentiment. Other Yanukovych loyalists fled by vehicle convoy.

The leaders weren’t being impeded in their flight by the protesters, but police and Interior Ministry forces, especially snipers, who fell into demonstrators’ hands were being beaten. The switch of the Interior Ministry, police, and Berkut troops to the demonstrators’ side may prevent further bloodshed (on both sides) for now.

The essential problem that Ukraine is divided politically has not been solved; if anything, the divisions are now more bitter. Right now, reconciliation looks like a harder path than partition. The situation remains fluid.