Category Archives: Lord Love a Duck

Our Only Comment on Cecil the ex-Lion

We’re normally cat lovers, but this has been ridiculous. And then we saw this:

lions vs chicongans

Apparently whoever photoshopped this didn’t get the memo: cat lives matter. Gangbangers aspiring rappers whacking one another? Who cares? Think of it as evolution in action.

Meanwhile, back in Chicongo, where guns are (mostly) outlawed:

ct-chicago-reaches-1000-shootings-charts-20150-003

This year, they could break 3,000. But who cares? The media ruck and scrum, insulated as they are from the world by the Hudson and East Rivers, apparently think a wild predator typically dies in bed, surrounded by his reverent family and eased over the rainbow bridge by a tender, kindly anesthesiologist. They’re busy, mourning a pussycat.

You want to end hunting? Go ahead, but it will end lions, and many other species. Hunters who safari pay real hard currency that lets otherwise poor nations spend on wildlife conservation. Plush-bottomed New Yorkers who email around pictures of lions contribute bupkus. But they signal their virtue and concern by participating in the Two Minutes’ Hate towards the dentist-turned-nimrod who bow-hunted the lion.

ATF Shadow-Bans 40mm Practice Ammunition

Well, that’s going to make conducting our planned M203 class hard impossible. The ATF, pushing the limits of what can be done with a stroke of the pen, is declaring previously approved illumination and training-practice rounds (the orange chalk marking rounds) to be “explosives”. They’re following this up with trips out to individuals to confiscate the ammunition for their approved, stamped Destructive Device 40mm launchers, unless the owner happens to have an explosives license and an ATF-approved bunker.

M992 IR round

Ammunition they have confirmed they are confiscating is M992 infrared illumination and the M781 training practice round (seen below on the range, as featured in a WeaponsMan.com story last year).

m203 Firing

The practice round has a plastic shell and contains a day-glow orange (and naturally degradable, environmentally friendly, even) chalk filling. It’s supposed to be a ballistic match for the HEDP round.

Here are some comments from an Arfcom thread on the subject. The original post:

Apparently the 40mm M992 IR flares are considered to be a explosive round. This is news to me. They got my name from the dealer I purchased them from, apparently they didn’t know either. Any one have any info on this. I’ve been googling it for a couple of hours now and can’t find anything.

He left his card on my front door. He said he was going to bring a copy of the explosives tech branch ruling.

The follow-up after the ATF visit, emphasis ours:

Ok so a update. The agent that showed up was an actual bomb tech. I surrendered the rounds under protest per the advice of a attorney. The bomb tech was a really cool guy. He agreed that it was pretty stupid and he hated to do it but he was being forced to help out with the case. He did also tell me that they had sent him out to take 40mm chalk rounds under the same case. I walked out to the truck with him and watched him place the rounds in the explosive magazine in his truck. When I told him I was surrendering the rounds under protest he looked at me and said “good I hope you can fight it and get them back because this whole situation is stupid.” I’m not sure if I will go to court over it or not. I’m not out enough money for it to be a big deal but it’s an issue that has me concerned. I know there are not enough people out there with registered DD M203’s for this case to ever become a big deal but it is really shitty that as far as I can tell all 40mm rounds are considered to be Low Explosives and can not be owned unless you have a explosive licence.

Note that the “explosives tech branch ruling” has not been furnished, although this letter is circulating. It was addressed to the original Arfcom poster’s dealer, the one that had sold him the rounds.

40mm M992 Confiscation Letter.pdf

And, a comment in the same Arfcom thread by a different user:

I just contacted my Senator and OMB concerning this. My Senator is very concerned and OMB’s response was interesting in that they say ATF is citing one section of law while ignoring others that define what makes a DD. OMB believes that ATF may be outside of the law on this and will be contacting my Senator tomorrow. After a nice discussion with an investigator there, it appears ATF is fudging the language of the applied section of code to make a determination to allow them to confiscate. The investigator with OMB believes that this may warrant action against FTB in BATFE. We shall see what happens if anything. But there is absolutely no doubt that BATFE is deliberately incorrectly interpreting the section of code and is pursuing illegal action.

Meanwhile, another user’s comments show that ATF’s capricious volte face on this ammo is having the desired chilling effect:

This is some terrible news. I just got my 40mm LMT launcher approved last month and have been looking forward to getting chalk rounds and illumination. I guess I will have to wait and see what happens next. Total bummer.

Our friends inside ATF say that the initiative was conceived and planned in the Chief Counsel’s Office. That way, managers have explained to the rank and file, they won’t have to answer questions to the public, press or Congress “because everything is under lawyer-client privilege.” They seemed to split on whether Acting Director Thomas Brandon initiated this policy or merely signed off on it. “It wasn’t his idea,” one told us flatly. “He’s not that bright. It came from the lawyers, or from DOJ through the lawyers.”

The Chief Counsel’s Office is in an unusual position in the ATF org chart, coequal on the chart (but more powerful in practice) than the Chief of Staff, and superior to the Deputy Director/Chief Operating Officer.

New Oath of Allegiance: Bearing Arms Opt-Out

US Customs and Immigration Service's new Model Citizen

US Citizenship and Immigration Services’s new Model Citizen, Mohammod Abdulazeez, is about to get thousands of brethren.

For all but two years1 of the entire history of the United States of America, new citizens have sworn an Oath of Allegiance. But an important ingredient in the oath is being stricken by the Administration. No more will immigrants have to promise to be willing to bear arms for the United States; they now will have an opt-out based, not even on religious belief, but any kind of inchoate and general “feels.” Like Abdulazeez here, maybe they want to bear arms against Americans? That’s fine!

Now, because Congress has delegated them the authority to do this, it’s perfectly legal even if it’s not especially smart. Legally, the Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services is allowed to change the oath, as long as the “five principles” outlined in Section 337(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act are adhered to. Being as the principles are:

  1. Allegiance to the Constitution;
  2. Renunciation of any foreign allegiances;
  3. Defense of the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic;
  4. Willingness to bear arms in the Armed Forces;
  5. Willingness to do civilian duties of national importance.

The Willingness to Bear Arms clause should stay in. But the CIS is now changing the clause, to streamline the path to citizenship of those preferred immigrants who not only don’t want to bear arms for the United States but are interested in bearing arms against. 

A new provision allows the would-be Americans to opt out of defending their fellow Americans if they have any reason not to want to.

The Legal History of the Bearing Arms Clause

In 1929, the Supreme Court ruled that pacifism was no justification for refusing the oath.

In 1950, the McCarran Act (much of which was subsequently found unconstitutional or repealed, but the rump of which is still used by Army lawyers to support the disarmament of off-duty soldiers) added the bearing arms lines as mandatory.

In 1953, their presence aborted the application for citizenship of British writer Aldous Huxley. Huxley, a wealthy Hollywood screenwriter, was oriented more towards a state socialism like that of the Soviet Union, but not enough that he ever considered living there.

Why Now?

Well, have we ever had an Administration more hostile to arms, or to the bearing of them, in defense of the country? Or one who seems to value immigrants inversely to the benefits they bring to us, and proportionately to the crime, violence, and treachery that they come a-bearing?

It’s not as if the nation is so hard up for people that we need to admit more unassimilable, truculent, hostile persons. There are hundreds of thousands of people who would be a credit to our country waiting patiently in the 200 countries of the world, but we seem intent on ingesting human pathogens rather than sources of societal strength.

What Exactly?

USCIS sent a policy guide on 21 Jan 2015 (.pdf) to all hands that explains wordily:

In general, a naturalization applicant must take an oath of allegiance in a public ceremony, in addition to meeting other eligibility requirements, in order to naturalize. The oath includes the clauses to bear arms on behalf of the United States and to perform noncombatant service in the U.S. armed forces when required by law. An applicant may be eligible for certain modifications to the oath to exclude the clauses based on religious training and belief or a conscientious objection. This guidance updates Volume 12 of the Policy Manual to clarify the eligibility requirements for the modifications.

 

And further:

when an applicant is unwilling or unable to affirm to all clauses of the oath… [he or she] may be eligible for modifications… [and] …is not required to belong to a specific church or religion, follow a particular theology or belief…

And the corker… an applicant who wants can provide evidence supporting his or her unwillingness to swear to defend the USA, but…

is not required to provide… evidence to establish eligibility

In other words, it’s Washington’s favorite word, an entitlement for anyone desiring to be an asp at Lady Liberty’s breast.

So, get ready to welcome lots of new citizens… whose loyalty is to something, anything, other than the United States.

Sure, hostiles could always lie and get naturalized (which may explain the Abdulazeez family and their celebrity son), but now they don’t even need to hide their contempt and hostility for our nation.

This will end well.

Notes

  1. The first recorded Oath of Allegiance was given to foreign-born soldiers in and camp-followers of the Continental Army at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania on 30 May 78. (That’s 1778). The first Naturalization Law came 12 years later, in 1790.

Sources

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Washington, n.d. Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America. Retrieved from: http://www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship/naturalization-test/naturalization-oath-allegiance-united-states-america

USCIS. Policy Alert: Modifications to Oath of Allegiance for Naturalization. Washington, 21 July 2015. Retrieved from: http://www.uscis.gov/policymanual/Updates/20150721-OathModifications.pdf

 

Guess Who Turned Up in a Pot Raid?

mad-magazine-trading-private-bergdahlWho was it that turned up in a raid on an industrial pot facility? Everybody’s The President’s favorite deserter1, who’s supposed to be in the jug awaiting trial for desertion, turned up in a massive marijuana raid in California.

The cops looked to return the peripatetic accused to his military base, only to get a “don’t bother” from military officials.

The Unique and Special Snowflake™ whose desertion to the Taliban led to the loss of a half-dozen lives of loyal Americans looking for him, as he gave them aid and comfort, wan’t AWOL at all. Knowing how Special he is and how much people in High Places prefer him to the usual ruck and scrum of enlisted swine, he’d been basically told, in that favorite phrase of sergeants everywhere, “You’ve got nothing to do. Don’t do it here.” The authorities knew he was in California and were cool with it.

Bergdahl was visiting with “old family friends” who apparently just happened to be hemp-huffing hippies. We hope this doesn’t shake your faith in Taliban-Americans.

Meanwhile, the President finally got around to putting flags at half-staff for the Chattanooga jihad victims, although the Partisan Political Police that are the FBI still express utter bafflement at the shooter’s motivations. Several commentators have been very critical of the President’s reluctance to memorialize the deaths of service members, something he does not like very much, at the hands of an Islamic nutball, something he seems much more kindly disposed towards.

Who’s saying he lowered the flags for the victims? Maybe he did it for the shaheed, Mohammod Abdulazeez.

Note

  1. Yeah, the court hasn’t convicted him yet. But we have.

We’re From the Government, Here to Help You

fingerprint-3That’s the most chilling phrase in the English language these days.

There’s the OPM’s carelessness with security clearance files. (Careless? One server’s password was “Password.” Another had the far more secure “Password1”. But those were just two servers and they didn’t even have an inventory listing how many servers they own). The IT managers were all compensated well into the six figures for this brain-dead performance, and none of them has lost a job, a paycheck or even a performance bonus, which are automatically awarded to anyone who can fog a mirror, or even, who once did sometime in the past year. The agency spends $82 million a year on IT, and they can’t account for it.

No, we’re not kidding. We wish. Who has clearances?

  1. Every officer in the Armed Forces.
  2. Every worker in the intelligence community, uniformed, civilian or contractor.
  3. Every service member in sensitive and special operations units, as Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) noted.
  4. A large quantity of law enforcement personnel.

Friday, they let it slip that they’d also lost the digital fingerprints of all applicants.

And then there’s Veterans Affairs

VA-veterans-affairsBut wait! At least they’re not the VA. The VA is not having a good week, and as usual when the VA has a crummy time, it’s their own damn fault.

What happens when you make a disability claim? Sometimes, it ends up in a shred bin. That was a problem seven years ago, and the Department made promises of new safeguards. It’s defense now? Hey, it was only 10 vets. Close enough for government work!

But the new word is that they’ve cut the backlog of vets waiting for appointments or other care by 30% — because 30% of the vets have died while waiting. That news story analyzed this VA analytical report (.pdf).

Speaking of dead vets, the agency is so bureaucratically inept that 2.7 million of them are still on VA rolls as beneficiaries. Some of them are getting medical treatment after death, which indicates that either The Walking Dead is a documentary, or there’s a whole lot of identity theft going on.

According to the internal VA report published April 1 by the department’s Date of Death Workgroup, the records of 10 percent of veterans in the VA system indicated “activity” — they received compensation payments, visited a doctor, made an appointment or had a prescription filled — after their actual date of death.

In one case…. such a miscommunication allowed 76 prescriptions to be filled at one pharmacy for controlled substances such as oxycodone, hydromorphone and Valium.

And, according to the report, some prescriptions have been filled years after the date of death — “on average, almost 12 years after the date of death.”

No wonder they’re missing buckets of money (which we’ll get to anon) and unable to catch up with registrations. But some of the vet registration backlog dates as far back as 1996.

Speaking of that backlog, some part of it was created deliberately by misrepresenting to vets what paperwork they needed to file, so as to give VA workers a break, and a justification for ignoring applications for benefits.

In a Dec. 2013 email exchange, Lynne Harbin, deputy chief business officer of member services, discussed her intention to dodge questions posed by the American Legion about how many veterans were waiting to learn of their eligibility for VA health care.

“Note that I am skirting the issue of the numbers of pending records and instead focusing on what it means and what we are doing about it,” Harbin wrote to colleagues.

In an earlier email, Harbin expressed the VA’s need to resist asking for veterans’ discharge forms.

“Interested in hearing what the data shows, but know that politically informing veterans to give us their DD214 would be unacceptable,” Harbin wrote in a June 2012 email exchange.

They’re getting the authority to fire bad actors on VA’s staff, whether they want it or not. Would you believe they don’t want it? The measure also removes the department’s authority to reward malefactors with extra unpaid vacation, and to lavish cash awards and bonuses on them while their dismissal is pending, both of which are standard VA (and really, Federal) practice.

It’s unlikely to change anything — VA Secretary Robert McDonald opposes it, because it’s something like accountability  — but it rocketed through the House Veterans Affairs Committee on a party-line vote. The committee chairman asked, “Are you going to stand with bureaucrats or veterans?” VA Secretary McDonald, the senior leaders, the employee’s unions and the minority of the committee have said that the employees have rights, unlike the vets. The measure, which the pro-union and anti-vet Washington Post spins as “limiting employees’ appeal rights,” will be on the House floor in two weeks at the outside.

One of the useless mouths to feed that a good manager, which is to say nobody at VA, would fire is probably Lina Giampa, HR manager at the cesspool Germantown, PA regional office who spent her time tweeting threats to whistleblowers.

In Oregon, the VA’s been shifting costs around the budget by moving Hepatitis C sufferers into the Veterans Choice program, which was meant for vets who live too far from a VA facility. We’re agnostic (without more information) on whether this was a rob-Peter-pay-Paul dodge, or a brilliant bit of bureaucratic legerdemain. It seems if they did not do this, they will run out of money because of new and expensive (but, fortunately, effective) Hep C treatments. The general population has about 1% prevalence of Hep C infection, but among VA patients it’s a staggering 6%, mostly in the Vietnam demographic. Hep C is considered presumptively service-connected in Vietnam vets, as we understand it. This one paragraph gives some idea of the challenges that the VA would still have even if they were any good at what they.

Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA), threatened with losing a hospital in his state, ripped the department’s mismanagement, as managers told Congress that they’d somehow burned a $2.5 billion hole in their budget, and if they didn’t get more money they’d start closing hospitals, rather than rein in their own perks.

Priorities! We could see the day arrive that the entire Department of Veterans Affairs runs well and smoothly, without wasting any effort at all on the troublesome vets. That seems to be management’s objective, anyway.

“I’m Meltiiinnnnngggg!”

If you’ve ever been the sort of person who anthropomorphizes your firearms1, you really don’t want to read this article. It is based on photographs at the Riverside, CA Press-Enterprise2 and a press release at an anti-gun steel company named Gerdau. This is what happens to guns that come into the clutches of the LA Sheriff’s Department, and several other local agencies led by anti-gun chiefs. The guns are taken under police guard — police that would be on the streets if these agencies were serious about crime — to the local American plant of the German-Brazilian Gerdau steel company3, a company deeply committed to citizen disarmament.

Gleeful, anti-gun cops celebrate the destruction of firearms, here a Magnum Research Desert Eagle.

Gleeful, anti-gun cops celebrate the destruction of firearms, here a Magnum Research Desert Eagle.

Gerdau explains how it works:

Prior to their arrival, weapons are examined to make certain they are free of ammunition, and are then bent so they can no longer be used.

The confiscated weapons are combined with recycled scrap metal in the mill’s furnace, and become billets. The billets are reheated and pass through a rolling mill, transforming into high-strength rebar that is used in a variety of projects, including major commercial buildings, freeways, bridges, parking garages and other concrete structures throughout the Western United States.

Approximately 70 percent of the mill’s product mix is seismic rebar, which is designed to help withstand earthquakes. The Rancho Cucamonga facility is the only steel mill in the state that is recycling, melting and rolling steel.

In a way, you can’t blame the company. In a state with a business climate as inhospitable as its physical climate is pleasant, it’s not hard to imagine the same top cops, whose delight is visible in these pictures, observing, “Nice steel plant you have here. Be a shame….”

The guns are smashed by helmeted Gerdautzis with hand tools, first. Here, the opposite end of the market from the Desert Eagle: a Hi-Point meets its doom.

The guns are smashed by helmeted Gerdautzis with hand tools, first. Here, the opposite end of the market from the Desert Eagle: a Hi-Point meets its doom.

Head Rancho Cucamonga Gerdautzi Mark Olson is all in for weapons confiscation and destruction. He says:

Gerdau and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department both aim to support a healthy and safe community. This activity transforms weapons that were intended or used to inflict harm into a product that improves our landscape and economy in Southern California.

OK, we get it. Weapons which may be used in self-defense are “intended… to inflict harm.” The rebar that has turned much of SoCal into a Brutalist architect’s wet-dream? That’s all good.

A mixed bag of to-be-destroyed guns.

A mixed bag of to-be-destroyed long guns.Some are “assault weapons” confiscated from Californians wo registered them previously. Some are collector pieces. Most are normal hunters’ and shooters’ guns. Of California’s 1,879 murders in 2012 (most recent FBI data), 38 were committed with rifles, and 52 with shotguns. 87 were committed by unarmed persons!

Of course, Gerdau gets high-quality scrap metal/raw material out of this. Generic steel scrap is down a great deal since last year, but it’s still $266 a ton, and high quality steels (as used in firearms) sell for more. The LASO guns probably averaged 3 lb or so, and there were about 4,000 of them. However, given the plant’s steel consumption and physical output, there’s no economic motive in them doing this. They do this because they support gun control.

After the notes, there are more photos and captions after the jump.

Notes

  1. Seriously, we’ve known people who do that, including an old commo man and team sergeant (later command sergeant major of an SMU) who named his M21 at SOT after his girlfriend, and a guy whose several hundred (!) Lugers were all named after Second or Third Reich officers. (Kaiser Wilhelm was a 1902 Carbine). We’ve also seen a Professor of Psychology who described the popularity of the AR-15 as being due to the rifle’s “friendly face,” but she’s spent her whole life under the care of psychiatrists, like many of her breed.
  2. Best known in the industry for its recent tradition of Christmas layoffs; 42 for Christmas, 2013 (and then 39 more in January! Thought you were safe? Suckers), and 100 for Christmas, 2014. (Maybe the reporter that wrote this article will be in the batch this Chrismas! Don’t buy any nonrefundable gifts, pal).
  3. Gerdau was a small Brazilian firm until a German immigrant who had married into the company some time earlier took the reins, and new capital seems to have appeared out of nowhere, in the auspicious year of 1946. It now owns plants around the world. When their website talks about their “Social Responsibility,” they may not mean exactly what you mean. Their numbingly-dull 28-page Social Responsibility Book (.pdf) does not mention their support of citizen disarmament in the USA. Gee, why not?

(Continues)
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Keelhauling Kate Germano, Part II

Lt. Col. Kate Germano. (Note: per her husband, she raised her own pistol qual since this official photo).

Lt. Col. Kate Germano. (Note: per her husband, she raised her own pistol qual since this official photo).

We expected to have a longer historical report — on glider troops in World War II — here in this slot today but the press of events, and new developments, suggested that we focus on what’s becoming a bigger story than it was when we wrote about it last week.

Sure, we wrote about the relief of Lt. Col. Germano, a third-generation military officer singled out for a figurative keelhauling across the barnacles of command politics and sex-linked expectations.

And the Marine Corps Times wrote about that relief (to our embarrassment, we quoted Hope Hodge Seck’s article in the MC Times extensively in our piece, without linking it. We regret the oversight; it’s our policy always to link the sources we quote from inasmuch as possible. The original article has been updated with the missing link).

Now the New York Times has written about this relief (as usual for the Times, half at least of the facts are left out in selfless service to The Narrative™). And the San Diego Union Tribune wrote about the case, in an article that seems, for its first 2/3 or so, ghostwritten by a party-line Marine PAO. Then the reporter drops this one very informative paragraph:

Although female Marines have been required to qualify with a service rifle such as the M-16 since 1985, Germano chafed against a “women can’t shoot” mentality among some in the Marine Corps. At the recruit depot, she worked with the head of Weapons and Field Training, Col. Jerry Leonard, to encourage marksmanship coaches to focus on mentoring female recruits, resulting in a bump in first-time rifle qualifications from 68 percent to 91 percent in a few months.

You can’t argue with results. Although some of Germano’s subordinates apparently did — successfully. Almost anyone can learn to shoot, and there’s nothing in the sexual dimorphism of homo sapiens that gives men an irreversible advantage. We’re astonished that any Marine unit would ever have accepted sub-70% qualification. That’s a D in our book! (Actually, in Kid’s high school, it’s an F. And a 90 is a B — they grade hard — unlike pre-Germano female Marine basic).

And there’s this:

An officer on the Parris Island depot who asked not to be named said Germano lost her job because of a difference in philosophy about the future of women in the Marine Corps. Germano is engaged, hard-driving and willing to hold her Marines accountable, the officer said: “She is the kind of strong-caliber leader the Marine Corps needs. Firm, with high expectations, fair and compassionate, willing to give second — even third — chances and the tools to get there. She doesn’t have a zero-defect mentality. She just expects her Marines to try to do the right thing,” the officer said.

Well, you can see how that might cause a conflict with some superiors. Oh, brother!

One more little detail that’s crept out since our last report — the “command climate survey” was conducted online, and word about it spread by word-of-mouth among the CO’s critics. They discovered that there was no barrier to taking the survey over, and over again. So 100 voices raised against Lt. Col. Germano may well have been one voice raised 100 times, all along; and the Marine personnel office that established the survey deliberately set it up like that; and the Marine commanders that relied on the survey knew, or should have known, its… limitations.

Now comes Aaron MacLean in the Washington Free Beacon. (It’s good; RTWT™). MacLean has some interesting parts of the back story that suggest commanders may have had their Mameluke swords out for Germano since she and the other members of a Board of Inquiry crossed them in a case where the command wanted To Make An Example Out of Somebody after he was acquitted (!) of sexual assault. Sexual assault in the military is one of the few things that the current administration’s appointees care about, and the rule of law in these cases, including such arcaic details as the rights of the accused, doesn’t enter into the picture. It’s supposed to go like this: accusation made; target identified; locked on; target destroyed. And Lt. Col. Germano (and other principled officers) stepped in front of that train and said, “No.”

Here’s MacLean’s conclusion (again, we urge you to Read The Whole Thing™). Emphasis ours:

So why was Germano fired? Was she too much of a progressive crusader? Or too conservative in her blunt opinions, especially about sexual assault? This story is more complicated than a simple morality play wherein sexist bosses grow tired of an abrasive female subordinate. It appears that Germano’s aggressiveness, not to say her political incorrectness, made her vulnerable to female subordinates who didn’t care for her style, and who then campaigned for Germano’s removal on the grounds that she insulted them over poor physical performance, and made them feel “less safe.” Germano’s bosses, already exasperated by her refusal to shut up and color on a wide array of issues, no doubt felt they were doing the Right Thing by relieving her.

Germano’s sin seems to be that she was pursuing actual respect for—and self-respect by—women in the Marine Corps, and not the fictitious appearance of equality that both her bosses, and some of her subordinates, appear to prefer.

It’s probably not possible to reinstate Lt. Col. Germano or save her career. That’s not how officer careers work under DOPMA and today’s military culture; like Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff, “It can blow at any seam.”

But MacLean’s report confirms our suspicion that Lt. Col. Germano’s stand against “the soft bigotry of low expections” was instrumental in her downfall.

She can wear that with pride and honor. If there’s anybody we need to hear from about women in the services, it’s Lieutenant Colonel, soon to be, unfortunately, Retired, Kate Germano, United States Marine Corps. And by firing her, they’re setting her free to comment. They can’t back down now, but we suspect they will soon wish that they could have done.

Update

To contrast with USMC womens’ basic, MacLean linked this example of kinder, gentler, female-values-centric Army mixed-sex basic. Lord love a duck; it’s pathetic. Read that and ask: if your daughter (or son, for crying out loud) is putting on a uniform and going in harm’s way, do you want her challenged by people like Germano, or coddled by the motherly, ineffectual types in the Army story?

Bubba Was “Out of Battery”

This really happened on an indoor range. A (presumably nearsighted) elderly gentleman got his pistol stuck just barely out of battery. The gunshop guys rodded the gun to clear the jammed round… only to find out that it was a battery that was out of battery.

9mm energizer2Yep, that’s an Energizer, all right, probably in his gun bag to power a gun light, that instead got crammed into a 9mm mag in between 9mm rounds. And so much for truth in advertising: instead of keeping “going… and going… and going,” the S&W M&P stopped, hard, when it got to the battery… unable to quite force it into battery.

Here’s a close-up, again, after rodding the stuck “round” partway out:

9mm energizerDoing this on the range is embarrassing, but doing it in a gunfight could be terminal.

9mm para dimensionsThe battery is an A23, a compact 12v battery (.pdf) used in a lot of weird places like gun lights, red-dot sights, and garage-door remotes. It’s a manganese dioxide-based battery made up of 8 small cells in series, and it’s from 9.7 to 10.3 mm in diameter, and slightly shorter length overall as a 9mm round at 27.5 to 28.5. As you can see from the image on the right (which shows the European CIP max dimensions), the A23 is destined to get stuck outside the chamber if its diameter is on the high end of tolerances, or somewhere down it if it’s near the lower end.

40 SW dinensionsOn the other hand, it might have gone all the way in to a .40 S&W chamber, as you can see on the image to the left (again a Euro CIP max-dimensions diagram. It seems likely an A23 would drop all the way in a .40 chamber. As batteries generally lack extraction grooves, it could be an unacceptably tense moment or two in a real-world gunfight. So it’s just as well that our visually-challenged gentleman selected the parabellum instead of the .40.

In this case, no permanent harm was done to the gun, the battery, or any personnel or installations. The battery was extracted, a bit beat-up perhaps, and the pistol had no problem going back into battery, without the battery. Presumably Mr Magoo then returned to the range.

And you know the ROs keep a bit of a closer eye on him, now that they know he sees no lights a-flashing, he plays by sense of smell.

The shop worker notes, “You work at a range long enough though and you see all kinds a stupid stuff.”

Hat tip, this thread in /r/guns and the photos from the original poster there, on imgur.

 

 

Someone Actually Gets Fired at VA… Maybe

VA-veterans-affairsWe’ve covered… and covered… and covered… the endless Kafka nightmare that is the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Veterans Health Administration, which these days are about 95% about handouts for the bureaucratic insiders and maybe 5% about their ostensible beneficiaries, the vets. And if there’s one thing you can take to the bank with the VA, it’s that no one is ever held accountable1.

So imagine the Nagasaki-like thunder with which the news that they actually fired somebody hit us. We mean, somebody other than a whistleblower; an actual VA miscreant actually lost his or her job, which had been looking like the last of the welfare-queen entitlements.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on Friday notified at least eight employees at the embattled Philadelphia VA benefits office that it plans to fire or suspend them – a penalty that appears to be unprecedented in the nearly two years since the agency came under scrutiny for mismanagement and misconduct.

The proposed punishments against employees involved in manipulating claims to hide the office’s backlog range from a two-week suspension to removal, the VA said in a memo to members of Congress.

The VA said it plans to discipline three other employees from the Germantown office, pending further investigation.

But wait, is that really firing people. One thing we’ve learned since we started writing about these crapweasels is that Legal writes everything so you have to apply pharisaic levels of analysis to get anywhere near the truth. And if you look closely, they didn’t say they fired anybody. They said fire or suspend, so they’re really saying the biggest screwups ever in an organization whose management is a veritable Big Bang supernova of a cluster—- are either going to be let go or given some extra vacation.

This isn’t even the office where some 40 guys died waiting for appointments that were never going to come. Those crapweasels have already dodged all bullets. And even in Philadelphia, they’re making noises that no one might actually pay.

“Final decisions on each action will be made in accordance with the applicable due process procedures,” officials said in the statement. “No further information on these proposed actions will be available at this time to ensure the due-process rights of the employees are safeguarded.”

Got that? The rights, if any, of veterans to their benefits? Those are subject to every possible caveat, cavil and qualification. The entitlement of hack bureaucrats to their sinecures? Why, that’s a bedrock constitutional value and Must Not Be Questioned.

But at least they nailed the worst of the Philadelphia/Germantown office, right?

Er…. no. Not necessarily.

It is unclear if the eight workers include Lucy Filipov, the office’s assistant director, or Gary Hodge, director of its pension management center. Both were put on temporary paid leave last month after an internal report criticized Filipov for hosting a party at her South Jersey home where she encouraged her workers to pay Hodge’s wife, a self-described medium, to contact the dead.

“Temporary Paid Leave” for the months of June and July. Bet you don’t get a vacation that good, and that’s extra. They also get another four weeks when they want to take it.

"Lucky us, we're dead. At least we were spared this!"

“Lucky us, we’re dead. At least we were spared this!”

Of course, given the way they’ve performed for vets, maybe it’s better just to pay them not to come in. Maybe the VA brass are on to something here.

So how low are the standards? Thanks to OPM and Civil Service hack hiring, we have no military secrets any more, but you’ll be glad to know that the exact details of what, if anything, is going to happen to these vet-shafters is the closest-held of close-hold information:

Diana Rubens, who last year transferred from Washington to become the facility’s new director, on Friday sent an office-wide e-mail stressing the desire to move forward. She said some of the “big issues that loom” will be resolved in the next few weeks and months.

“The hard part has been not being able to give anyone a sense of when the formal components will be complete, so that we might truly move to putting the issues behind us,” Rubens wrote in the e-mail, obtained by The Inquirer.

Translation: “We can’t tell you. That would be too much like accountability. Now, let’s move along.” So how is the VA doing on the IG-identified shortfalls:

She said that of the 35 formal recommendations made by the inspector general, two have been closed by investigators, and the VA has requested that 16 more be closed. She said two cannot be resolved because of a “resource issue,” and the agency is actively working on the remaining 15.

There are two things going on here: one, notice all the hand-waving about “what’s being done.” It’s all noise and flash; process, not performance. If you have a standard, it’s not enough that someone who failed “tried.” If you’re failing, you have to try harder. This is a lesson unlearned by career bureaucrats, especially those at the VA, including the headquarters drone who parachuted in to Philly.

“The critiques, criticisms, and areas for improvement that have been identified for us cannot be our sole focus,” Rubens wrote. “We must continue to look inward, to ensure we are operating from the highest integrity in all that we do.”

Translation: stop complaining, it’s interfering with our orderly flow of do-nothing careers.

Allison Hickey, the VA’s undersecretary for benefits, had said that 90 percent of the problems the inspector general uncovered had been resolved.

Well, it’s not like she’s a prize, either2. But wait: the new Philadelphia VA mismanager, Rubens, indicates only two of 35 recommendations has been closed, while the others get “in progress” handwaving, but Hickey says 90%.

Maybe we need to start a 503(c)(3) nonprofit to address the grave menace of Senior Executive Service innumeracy.

In An Unrelated VA Cockup

We’ve been meaning to cover the “Dear John” letter we got from the VA’s clueless contractor, HealthNet (you may remember the scandal of the contractor that paid its people bonuses for screwing veterans out of claims? And that faced, as usual for VA, no consequences as a result? Yeah, that contractor). Now, the usual Dear John blows you off, but this one actually reminded us of benefits we really are entitled to. (Basically, because we’re assigned to a VA hospital something like “four-five hours” away in summer and “never get there” in snow, we can go to real doctors on the VA’s nickel, apparently). We call it a Dear John because, while on the outside it had our name and our address at Hog Manor, the actual salutation was:

Dear John Veteran (this is literally what it says)
Some Other Guy’s Address (we mean, his real address with apartment # and all that)
His City and State. (which is 100+ miles from ours)

The document itself has more misspellings than we could count, suggesting that they brought in a crack team of dyslexic H1Bs. They even get the name of their own company wrong (they spell it “Healt Net”. We feel healthier already). It’s reached the point where galactic cockuppery is the VA equivalent of showing a pulse. “Look, they made complete jackasses out of themselves. They must still be operating!”

Ah, good old VA. We’d say, “Don’t ever change,” but if there are two facts we know, it’s that you won’t — and you’re not listening to us, or anybody, anyway.

Signed, John Veteran.

 

Notes

  1. Well, apart from whistleblowers, who are subject to crucifixion, trial by combat, and the auto-da-fe or similar.
  2. All you can find of her is CYA and excuse-making, in her entire VA tenure. Here she is responding with platitudes to call-in-line problems; here is a slobbering tonguebath profile by the Washington Post’s Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, who is always with the bureaucrats and not the vets; here’s the

Marines Fire Leader Who Challenged Women to Excel

Lt. Col. Kate Germano

Lt. Col. Kate Germano (USMC Official).

A year ago, Marine Lt. Col. Kate Germano, a lean, leathery, intense woman who’d had one key assignment after the next, took charge of the 4th Recruit Training Battalion, the Marines’ East Coast female-recruit training battalion. This unit had, for decades, accepted the idea that women needn’t achieve to men’s standards. She didn’t have any illusions about what women could and couldn’t do, but she also knew that “the soft bigotry of low expectations” was not the way to make Marines out of her young women.

And so she changed things. Boy howdy, did she change things. Things that had been accepted for decades in the unit — like female Marine recruits far underperforming males in rifle qualification. Germano was on solid ground here. Any experienced trainer can tell you women can compete shot-for-shot with their male counterparts on any flat range, and the Marines have made the flat, known-distance range the foundation stone of their world-renowned reputation for riflery.

She didn’t cut failing recruits slack. She didn’t cut her officers any slack. And she didn’t cut herself any slack, either. She treated everyone the same — like adults. Professionals. Marines.

As you might expect, some recruits and Marines thrived under Germano’s set-the-standard-and-meet-the-standard leadership. And some didn’t.

And the women that didn’t were resentful.

And the resentful women, unable to face Germano and perform at Marine levels, took a passive-aggressive approach. Whispering. Conniving. And ultimately, back-stabbing.

To the delight of the women who want being a woman in the Marines to be a free ride of lower standards, Brig. Gen. Terry Williams, the CG of Parris Island, relieved Germano for cause on 30 Jun 2015. Williams cited a “hostile, unprofessional and abusive” command climate, by which he meant, Germano’s insistence on high standards and the uncomfortable spotlight she shone on those Marines who fell short of her standards — or didn’t try.

“What she did when she came is she changed the mentality of the Marines in the battalion and the recruits to not expect a historically lower performance than the male recruits at the battalion,” said a female Marine officer stationed at the depot, one of three who spoke with Marine Corps Times on condition of anonymity, for fear of professional retribution. “Almost all the categories performed better during her tenure, just by challenging the training protocol of performing separately.”

Many of the Marines in the training battalion were happy with the old, lower standards and with the old command that accepted underperforming recruits as “good enough” for women.

“I thought she proposed some good initiatives such as transparency in billet selections and improving rifle range scores,” the Marine [one of the subordinates selected for a survey meant to “get” Germano] wrote. “However, as the summer wore in, it became apparent that [Germano] thought she was fixing a broken battalion with a poor command climate.”

Women recruits of the 4th Battalion on the rifle range. Like all Marines, they engaged targets to 500 yards (460m).

Women recruits of the 4th Battalion on the rifle range. Like all Marines, they engage targets to 500 yards (460m).

Germano’s reputation suffered due to a lack of buy-in to her reform efforts from other officers in the unit, said another officer who spoke with the paper.

“Lt. Col. Germano is direct, and people have a tendency to take it personally,” she said. “If it had come from a male officer, there would have been no objection.”

Gee, that’s almost a tacit acknowledgment of the fact that there are sex-linked cognitive and behavioral differences that need to be taken into account when leading Marines, or anybody else, for that matter. Can’t have that!

Another Parris Island officer who supported Germano’s fight to address unit personnel shortfalls said the unit was better for having her as a commanding officer.

“The battalion was headed in the right direction under Lt. Col. Germano,” the officer said. “She meant well. She was very passionate for what she did and believed in.”

There is more information, although it’s rather haphazardly organized, in the story  at the Marine Corps Times. The particular thing that seemed to have been used by Germano’s subordinate officers to bring her down was her straying from the current politically dictated Party Line on sexual assault in the services.

On one occasion, the investigation found, she made comments during a sexual assault prevention brief that female Marines interpreted as victim-blaming, leading some to testify that it would make them feel less comfortable reporting a sexual assault within the command.

Blaming victims? Quel horreur! What did this horrible woman actually say — if our sensitive ears can hear the words?

Allegations that Germano took a “victim-blaming” approach to sexual assault prevention stem from a January brief to officers. Witnesses said she implied that sexual assault is “100 percent preventable” and that “by drinking, you are putting yourself in a position to be sexually assaulted.” One attendee said she would not feel comfortable reporting an assault following the brief because she felt it would not be taken seriously.

Got that? Tell the young women you’re supposed to be mentoring that they make it easy for the approximately 100% of men that are horny dogs by getting drunk and sloppy, and you’re “victim-blaming.” Hey, today’s young women Marine officers are the product of today’s university hook-up culture, where when you discover the morning after that you settled for a guy a few rungs further down the appeal market than you would have gone sober, so you call rape on him. (Unless any of them are from Columbia, where you call rape on the guy who wouldn’t sleep with you, and then make a production out of carrying a mattress around to get your 15 minutes of tramp fame).

“Stay sober, keep your wits about you” = “victim-blaming.” Lord love a duck.

In addition to crucifying her for that common-sense advice, something we would hope every father and mother tells their daughters (and sons!), Germano, we are not making this up, “reinforced gender bias and stereotypes” by telling her Marines that they needed to compete on a level playing field with the men, not set themselves a comfortable, easy, lower standard. Thus,  her relief is a big win for double standards in the USMC. (One of Germano’s “unreasonable” standards was for her Marines to break an 8-minute mile in the 3-mile run, not exactly Olympian performance. And to do more than the previous commander’s pull-up standard: zero).

The Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, a cabal of professional DOD race-and-sex-quota grievance-mongers, were called in by the dissidents’ sponsors in the command to carry out a survey of the battalion — a survey taken by only 64 Marines, who self-selected for the opportunity to “get” Germano.

The new commander is already returning the unit to comfortable lower standards on runs and ruck-marches, and the new boss brings in the new pull-up minimum, same as the old minimum: zero. With Germano gone, the women that thrived under her leadership are the next round of targets for career assassination. But one legacy may survive: the recruits of the 4th may still be expected to shoot as well as, well, Marines.

The great irony here is that Germano is hardly some old-style, anti-feminist, warrior for the cismale gendernormative patriarchy (that would be us). She’s a fully PC post-sex “gender”-wise social justice warrior, a former officer aid to Secretary (“Let’s have fewer ships and name them for more inconsequential people!”) Ray Mabus. She was one of them, for crying out loud.

As she sits trying to figure out what life after the Marine Corps is going to look like, muttering, “They turned on me! I was one of them!” let her consider the fate of “one of them.”

What did become of Trotsky? Of Robespierre? The Revolution never loses its interest in you. 

 

Update

On looking back at this story, we see that we quoted Hope Hodge Seck’s article in the Marine Corps Times extensively in this piece, without linking it. Her article is the source of the block-quotes inline above. We regret the oversight; it’s our policy always to link the sources we quote from inasmuch as possible.