Category Archives: Don’t be THAT guy

AECA Export Licensing is No Joke

hsi_badgeA small local corporation and two of its principals are now felons, thanks to playing fast and loose with export licensing on two aircraft fuel gauges. A long investigation by HSI, ICE and DCIS investigators led to arrests and guilty pleas this month.

Charges were filed on May 14, 2014 alleging that Netria exported aircraft parts to Malaysia without a license from the U.S. Department of State, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

The investigation into Netria began as a result of an inquiry by Netria to a Department of Homeland Security undercover storefront, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service working together.

Evidence gathered established that Netria had exported two Lockheed Martin Fuel Quantity Indicators; items designated “defense articles” on the United States Munitions List in violation of the Arms Export Control Act.

via Netria sentenced on violation of Arms Export Control Act – News – seacoastonline.com – Portsmouth, NH.

The company was sentenced to probation (how does that work? Checking in with your PO has got to be a production!) and fines; the two executives haven’t been formally sentenced yet.

As part of their plea agreement, Netria was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to forfeit $12,560.

In addition, William F. McKone and Raymond L. Southworth, Jr., who comprise the board of directors of Netria, pleaded guilty to one count of violating the AECA.

The offense is a malum prohibitum one and there’s no real defense to it; the charged executives of the Netria corporation flew a trial-balloon of “ignorance of the law,” but that didn’t fly, as they’d had some training on the law’s terms.

Selling fuel gages, and even C-130 cargo plane parts, to customers in Malaysia might easily have been licensed, if the real end users were Malaysian. (The problem with this off-the-books stuff is a lot of it goes via shell companies to regimes that are supposed to be laboring under international sanctions. This is one of the ills export licensing is supposed to cure).

The HSI special agents who investigate these cases are former ICE agents, redeployed since the Department has abandoned most enforcement of immigration law.

This is a Hard Video to Watch, but We Must

In this video, Deputy Kyle Dinkheller is murdered. It is hard to watch, but there is a reason we have to do it: the dead deputy is without influential friends in this world, but the jitbag who engages him in this video was celebrated for the rest of his life. Which fortunately ended on a vinyl-covered slab on the 13th, as the citizens of the great state of Georgia put Andrew Brannan down like the rabid dog he was. Dinkheller left a pregnant wife and kids (a son was born after his death, and will never know his father). The murder took place on 12 January 1998. The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office was a relatively early adopter of dash cams, and so Brannan’s prosecutors had this to work with, and his defense had this to explain away:

The explanation the flailing defenders chose is that Brannan couldn’t help doing this because he was a Vietnam combat veteran. Stew on that for a minute; we’ll come back to it.

A fact seldom mentioned in the media is on the same video recording, before this particular clip begins. Dinkheller didn’t stop Brannan for “no reason,” or because he was on some kind of cop power trip. He stopped him because he clocked the man driving that junkbox pickup at 98 miles per hour. Yeah, this guy shot a cop for stopping him for speeding.

In the end, he got what was coming to him. Among the witnesses that watched Brannan make a seamless transition from jitbag-in-prison to jitbag-in-perdition were 20 deputies from the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office. Kyle Dinkheller’s friends and co-workers waited 16 years for the ACLU’s efforts to make this crime pay to fail out, and the ancient lex talionis to find its fulfillment.

This is not Captain Kangaroo. Bob Keeshan was an honorably discharged vet who lived a decent life.

This is not Captain Kangaroo. Bob Keeshan was an honorably discharged vet who lived a decent life. This is Andrew Brannan. To Hell with him.

Of course, the criminal groupies haven’t stopped pining for Brannan just because Brannan has achieved progressive nirvana, to wit, a carbon footprint of zero. Naomi Schavin, one of the no-experience-less-talent writers hired by the flailing New Republic recently (yes, the publication that has a long history of running with fabrications, and that just published a movie review by a reviewer who had only seen the movie’s trailer, that New Republic), has a shallow and disorganized piece in the magazine. Her point? Veterans with PTSD should be, if not exactly excused for murders like this, at least exempted from execution. She’s talking specifically about this Captain Kangaroo-lookin’ butt blossom.

Watch the video again. Schavin deliberately maximizes Brannan’s irrationality (actually, he looks less like a nut job, and more like just a common-and-garden sphincter muscle, to us). And she minimizes his crime, and elides the fact that it was Brannan unilaterally who made every esclatory move in the fight:

Brannan’s reaction escalated rapidly from taunting Dinkheller to screaming at him, culminating in a firefight that left Dinkheller dead.

REaction?” What? And, “Culminating in a firefight?” Our hairy combat-vet hiney. Watch the video again, don’t accept Schavin’s lies about it. She’s missing a few steps, this lying reporter. Brannan’s actions — not reaction — escalated from taunting, to screaming, to pulling out an M1 Carbine and shooting, to cold-bloodedly executing his wounded, defenseless victim. But he’s the one that has Schavin’s sympathy. Maybe the gun made him do it! Being twaumatized as a vet made him do it!

Well, who really gives a hairy rat’s ass what made him do it? Two million guys (and tens of thousands of gals) served in Vietnam and didn’t whack a deputy thirty or forty years later, so it’s not like society’s holding him to an impossible standard.

And then there’s the whole firefight thing. Brannan attacked Dinkheller without warning and put nine rounds into him (and plenty more into random terrain), where the deputy just nailed Brannan in the brisket once (fortunately, enough to make him easy to catch). That’s an ambush, not a firefight. Firefight implies a degree of contact among rough equals.

It’s not just that Schavin is illogical, irrationally inverse in her thinking (in her mixed-up, tossed-up, never-come-down world, Dinkheller deserves death, and Brannan release and “treatment”). But she’s also thoroughly dishonest (look at how she misrepresents Brannan’s attack on the deputy). She accepts the PTSD bullshit from Brannan’s lawyers, the usual criminal-loving murder fanboys.

So, what would she have done?

…precautionary measures to keep his community safe … like removing his firearm…

Oh, we saw that coming…. Guess what? His community is now safe, sweetheart. And no firearms were harmed during the application of suitable treatment of this toxic bipedal pathogen.

Got any more advice for the grown-ups’ world, child?

…governors might consider staying all executions of veterans with the diagnosis [PTSD]….

Like hell. How many PTSD diagnoses are being ridden for a disability by phonies, pre-existing nutballs, and guys like Brannan, who are just turds who can’t function in civilization?

Being a vet didn’t make him do that. Nothing you can see or do in combat can make a guy do that. It’s what a guy is, what a guy is inside, that makes him do things like that.

Of course, there are guys suffering with post-combat stress, real guys with real troubles. But most of them are dangers to no one, and the ones who are, unfortunately, dangerous, are primarily hazards to themselves. If Naomi Schavin knew combat vets, a species one seldom encounters in the coffee houses of Manhattan, salons of Georgetown or writers’ lofts anywhere, she’d know that. And in absolutely no case is PTSD the excuse for murder that she and other pro-criminal campaigners make it out to be.

Poly-Ticks: Anti-Gun AG Threatened with Indictment in PA

dog-covered-in-hundreds-of-ticks(Politics, n. from poly, Greek “many,” and ticks, O.E. “small, disease-spreading bloodsucking arthropods.” — Eds.)

In Pennsylvania, Attorney General Korrupt Kathleen Kane, whose 2012 election was partially financed by Mayor Bloomberg on the strength of her anti-gun ideology, is under a different kind of gun entirely: the kind wielded by grand juries.

Kane has tried to stamp out gun rights in Pennsylvania, refusing to defend the state’s preemption law and unilaterally cancelling Pennsylvania’s LTC reciprocity with many states. In the main, her tenure as AG has been the law of crony politics, not the politics of law… and that’s exactly what got her in trouble.

When she took office, several of her political allies were about to be charged with various corruption crimes, mostly bribe-taking. Kane leaked the information to the suspects, and then fired the prosecutor working on the case, cancelling the prosecutions, and leaking a version of the investigation’s history to the Philadelphia Daily News – a version that had been altered to make the prosecutor pursuing the Kane allies, Frank Fina, look like a bozo. In the course of the leaks to the Daily News, Kane, or Kane’s office, leaked grand jury material, that wound up in the stories.

Despite Kane’s attempt to cover for the two bribe-taking officials, the Philadelphia DA filed charges against them locally in December, and they’re rumored to be in plea negotiations, strongly suggesting that the evidence against them always was strong, i.e., they were always guilty.

Kane has been controversial on issues other than guns (which she’s against) and bribery (for). She won election in part by claiming that she had McCarthy-like secret evidence that her opponent had covered up the abuse of further children by Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, while Sandusky was supposedly under investigation. This claim was devastating to her opponent’s reputation, but it was not true. She finally admitted this year that there were no such recent victims in the Sandusky case. Fortunately, Sandusky’s reputation and Penn State’s couldn’t really be lowered by further charges at that point, so her opponent was the only victim of her smear.

Now, Kane is facing the possibility of perjury or contempt of court. She has hired a criminal defense lawyer, Lanny G. Davis, with a long record of defending corrupt and criminal politicians. No word on whether her sugar daddy, Bloomberg, is picking up Davis’s huge tab, or whether she’s getting her bribe-taking pals to kick in some of that baksheesh. According to the Morning Call story cited below, she’s been warning her supporters that she expects to face charges.

If Kane leaves office to vacation at Club Fed, it probably won’t be an unalloyed win for Pennsylvania gun owners. Anti-gun governor-elect Tom Wolf, who will be inaugurated next week, would appoint her successor.

Kane, for her part, says it’s unfair and a political witch hunt. Er, if she weighs the same as a duck….

Sources

Philadelphia Inquirer story on the pending case against Kane.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Story on the same.

Allentown/Lehigh Valley Morning Call story on how the indictment news has changed Kane’s camera-hound personality to a shy and retiring type. And a Morning Call timeline of Kane’s rocky incumbency as AG.

Communications with PA law enforcement officials.

It Looked Like an Assassination Attempt…

…When, two years ago, a young man stuck a pistol in the face of Bulgarian politician Ahmed Dogan. Watch what happens next.

But the case got ever more bizarre. Dogan was the long-standing head of the Rights and Freedom Party, DPS by its Bulgarian acronym — a party that caters to the nation’s large Turkish/nominally-Moslem minority, but maintains a euro-Atlantic, pro-NATO foreign policy. Yet the guy with the gun is a member of the ethnic group Dogan’s party claims to represent.

Whatever, the DPS officials present take a remarkably dim view of anybody pointing a firearm at their leader, and proceed to beat the snot out of the guy.

And it just gets weirder and weirder after that. Because the gun wasn’t a gun — it’s the sort of gas gun that’s legal in some European countries, that fires blanks or ineffective tear gas or pepper spray cartridges. (And when the police examined it, it held only three cartridges, and appeared not to be working in any case). He could have shot Ahmet Dogan with the whole magazine, and the result would have been the same — a bunch of middle-aged political dweebs would have given him a thorough thumping, and Dogan would still be alive today — as he still is, in presumably-happy retirement. Dogan, the longtime party leader, was actually stepping down as leader of DPS at that meeting.

The would-be shooter, Oktay Ekhamehmedov, was convicted and sentenced in February, 2014, to 3 ½ years in the pen. He had left a puzzling note in his home that indicated he wasn’t going to hurt anybody, but if the trial revealed a great deal about his plans or his mental state, it didn’t make it into the foreign press. (Indeed, his sentence is only reported in Bulgarian, which is close enough to Russian if you know some of that).

Some critics of the DPS have suggested it was a publicity stunt, and both would-be “assassin” and “victim” were in on it. That seems unlikely; it would take a hell of a conspiracy to make a guy eat a beating and a long prison sentence in silence. But Bulgaria’s in the Balkans, after all, and that’s one of those places where it’s never too hard to sell a conspiracy theory.

NY Times Misses a Detail: “What do we Want? Dead Cops!” That detail.

New York TimesThe New York Times had a monster Page 1 thumbsucker on January 12, 2015. It took no fewer than four hand-wringing Times liberals1 to write no fewer than 2,900 words under the verbose and anodyne title, “In Police Rift, Mayor de Blasio’s Missteps Included Thinking It Would Pass.”

It included the usual welter of anonymous sources, and the usual use of the passive voice and “some say” formulations to express Timesian disapproval. Our favorite was a citation of “large swaths of New Yorkers” who approve the Mayor inciting fear of the police in their children. (Presumably the interviews are on file).

There are some interesting bits in there about how unfair it was for the police to be upset about the Mayor, who acts as if he considers Al Sharpton his true north in police matters, having appointed a Sharpton flunkie, Rachel Noerdlinger, as a top aide — even though her boyfriend is a career violent criminal and killer, revolving-doored out of New York prisons and gotten off on recent crimes thanks to Sharpton’s pull. (Cop-hater Noerdlinger finally resigned after her thug boyfriend’s assault-by-automobile on a New Jersey state trooper, previously made to disappear by mayoral pull and media complicity, resurfaced).

The Times put its poor-mayor-the-cops-are-pickin’-on-him story in the same edition of the paper that has at least three cop-bashing stories. (Two on chokeholds, one on a wrongful conviction case). Typical.

Also typical, the doorstop of a story on why the mayor and cops don’t get along mentions all the bad things the police union leaders (whom the Times reporters2 note are white white white) supposedly said about the mayor, but doesn’t mention the mayor’s political and spiritual guide Al Sharpton’s rally, where Sharpton’s merry followers chanted, “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want them? Now!”

Every cop in every precinct knows that’s the real Al Sharpton. And the real Bill de Blasio. And the real New York Times.

Notes

  1. In the order the Times credited them, Michael M. Grynbaum, J. David Goodman, Al Baker and Matt Flegenheimer. Sounds like a cross-section of New York City life, these guys who condemn the NYPD for lack of diversity. We’d guess that four of four have trust funds, and zero of four have a cop in the family.
  2. Anyone want to guess what race Grynbaum, Goodman, Baker and Flegenheimer might be? We’ll go with “white, white, white, and pasty.”

More Bullshit from our Favorite Lobbyist

Yes, it’s Major General Scales again, last seen blaming “jammed M4s” for the deaths of 9 guys whose valiant deaths we recounted in our two part Wanat series (Part 1) (Part 2), absolving the M4 in the process. Tam in the comments steered us to more of his unique brand of wisdom, from October, 2013. She asks, “[D]id you see this eulogy-turned-shopping-list from Scales?”

Scales explains that all the Army really needs, to prevent the kind of desperate fights that produce Medals of Honor, is a few simple trinkets, gimmicks, and imaginary technologies to be produced by his defense-industry clients. We’re not making that up! Scales:

[CPT William Swenson] was the sixth soldier or Marine to receive the medal for heroism in Afghanistan. All six stories are remarkably similar in that none of these incredibly brave men should have been in a position to have earned the medal. Had soldiers in these engagements been adequately provided with a few cheap technologies perhaps they might have avoided the bloody traps that precipitated their heroic actions.

Uh-huh. “Buy the right stuff, and you no longer need people with The Right Stuff.” You can see where a Macnamara-era officer, who fled fast and far from troop leadership towards academic pursuits, might come up with that. So what are these specifics, that will render valor superfluous in our all-conquering robot army of the future?

  • “Cell phones” instead of “bulky radios.”

But did you happen to notice in the video the bulky radio stuffed in Swenson’s backpack? This battle was fought in 2009 a time when rag pickers in Mumbai had cell phones. Why can’t our fighting men and women have cell phones in combat?

"Sorry, Mom. I guess I butt-dialed!"

“Sorry, Mom. I guess I butt-dialed!”

  • Helmet cams!

Imagine for a moment that Swenson, like the medevac crewman who took the video of Swenson, had a simple camera on his helmet capable of displaying the ground situation and linked it to screens in the Operations Center. Had the officers in the center seen the action in real time though Swenson’s eyes perhaps supporting fires might have been immediately cleared long before Swenson was trapped in the kill zone. You can buy helmet cams at Walmart.

"Imagine all the peo-ple... livin' life in pee-ee-aa-a-ee-ce."

“Imagine all the peo-ple… livin’ life in pee-ee-aa-a-ee-ce.”

  • Moar Dronez!

What if our military had been able to deploy enough drones to put a set of aerial eyes over every ground patrol marching into a dangerous and uncertain situation? Surely had a drone been overhead the Taliban would never have dared to open fire.

  • People Sniffers!

[W]hat if the one of the lead element carried a sensor that detected movement or the metabolic presence of humans nearby? Such devices are easy to develop and the technology has been in use by civilian security companies for years. Again, had Swenson’s team been warned there would have been no ambush and no medal.

People Sniffers: Yesterday's Bad Idea, Today.

People Sniffers: Yesterday’s Bad Idea, Today.

  • The M25 surviving half of the OICW boondoggle (emphasis ours)

[T]he M25 “smart grenade launcher” … uses a laser beam to program a grenade to explode over the heads of the enemy hiding behind protective cover. Such a weapon in the hands of Swenson’s team would have taken out the Taliban with ease. After a decade of development the Army hopes to have the M25 in the hands of troops this year…maybe.

XM25-in-action

  • A lightweight heavy mortar!

What if Swanson [sic] had had access to a really good “carry along” heavy mortar? What if the mortar bomb had precision GPS guidance such that the first round landed directly on the Taliban? With such a weapon Swenson’s fight would have lasted about three minutes instead of nine hours.

remco long range mortar

Drat! The hard part is getting the Taliban into the included Exploding Pillbox.

 

We’ll get to his conclusion after we deal with these individual beefs, but as you see the essence of Scales is that everything the military has is crap, so they need to bow down before his brilliance (and not incidentally, make his defense-contractor meal ticket cash-registers ring).

So what’s wrong with the idea of….

…Combat Cell Phones?

Here’s what Swenson’s “bulky” radio could do that the retired General’s Samsung can’t:

  1. Use high-level, keystream encryption. This is kind of a big deal. Officers of Scales’s era, who don’t recognize the enemy’s initiative and seriousness, were always a problem with radios, because they could never be bothered with encryption. Yes, the Taliban and its allies do employ signals intelligence against the US and Coalition.
  2. Work with limited and even no on-the-ground infrastructure. See, a cell phone needs… a cell tower. You can’t count on those forward of friendly lines.
  3. Meet military demands for ruggedness. We’ve had military radios fall 250 feet due to a lowering-line failure on a parachute jump, and survive vehicle and aircraft mishaps. They can get wet (true, in Scales’s day, you had to put a baggie around the handsets), get hot, get cold, and the stout little beggars keep working. Anybody want to see our collection of dead iPhones?

…Helmet Cams?

That’s just what we need, a way for deskbound leaders and other rear-area drones (the human kind) to kibitz on combat. Call of Duty 5, Pentagon Edition? Does anybody remember what happened when one of the Army’s Unique and Special Snowflake™ intelligence analyst privates decided that he could interpret some gunship video?

Already, it’s a huge problem being able to fight your unit without constant demands for updates from self-important gawkers at levels and levels of higher headquarters. The sort of Type A personalities that become colonels and generals can’t resist the temptation to try to direct their younger analogues who are fighting in real time. There is a fine line, perhaps, between assistance and micromanagement. But Army culture (at echelons above combat, anyway) lionizes the micromanager and we’ve seen very few higher-echelon leaders who failed to stomp over that line with both big feet.

Then, there’s the bandwidth problem. The US military uses vast quantities of bandwidth, the majority of it for nonessential purposes. But imagine what happens when we start streaming helmet cam from everybody on patrol to the vast majority of everybodys who never go on patrol.

But that’s OK. In Scales’s world, sparkly unicorns will poop the bandwidth we need to flow all that video by satellite. Maybe he can also declare an end to communications latency whilst using satellites!

…Moar Dronez!?

This is a great one. Because the Army alone has had literally dozens of drone-development programs, distinct from those at the Air Force, the other services, Joint programs, and other government agencies, all of whom went all-in for drones after their utility was proven in 2001-02. (Back then, everybody in Afghanistan had to share 1-3 Predator flights a day). The Army’s boffins had wanted UAVs for intelligence collection long before the war. (Here’s a staff college paper (.pdf) on requirements from 1990. And yes, the joint programs described in then-MAJ Harshman’s study lost control of service UAV requirements during the war).

There are some problems with drones. They’re not, as Scales seems to imagine military technology to be, FM (that’s an old radioman’s joke: F’n Magic). People have to operate them and interpret the product of their sensors. For instance, at the time of the Swenson battle, there was a small drone, the Raven… but it would take two men out of the fight, one to program the drone’s flight, one to operate its sensors.

But the bottom line is that drones can’t replace people on the ground, and they can’t be everywhere people on the ground go; they can’t operate in crummy weather, unlike, say, infantrymen, who will cheerfully tell you that they seem to operate only in crummy weather. And for all the spending on drone development, very little of it filters through Scales’s defense contractor pals and makes it down to the war fighters.

…People Sniffers?

Let’s just re-repeat (threepeat?) some of Scales’s discussion on this,

But what if the one of the lead element carried a sensor that detected movement or the metabolic presence of humans nearby? Such devices are easy to develop and the technology has been in use by civilian security companies for years.

Because fighting a war among the population, you can just bring your weapons to bear on any hint of movement, or the waft of human pheromones, with your eyes closed. Scales is showing his “once they’re dead, they’re all VC” heritage here. But he’s also showing a remarkable ignorance of the technical history of the People Sniffer (.pdf), Projects Muscle Shoals (.pdf, in-progress whitewash), Igloo White, and all those Macnamara Line developments. Those things were all costly failures.

You know how we actually got actionable intel off the Ho Chi Minh trail? We put human eyes on it, and yes, the guys in that project got shot to $#!+ a lot and wound up with more than their “fair share” of MOHs.

…the M25 boondoggle?

Can you say SPIW? It was the Weapon of the Future® in 1960, and it still is…. There are several problems with the M25, but they basically come down to this: it’s optimized to meet a requirement that doesn’t occur all that often in combat, and that can be answered better by a well-trained 60mm mortar gunner and a lot of rounds. In other words, even if it worked 100% (which should occasion great mirth among those who worked with it), it is still inferior for its special purpose to a common general-purpose weapon already in the inventory.

But new space-age grenade launchicators are sexy and get written up in tech magazines (as well as, grease the big DOD prime contractors and their lobbyists). More mortar ammo for training is distinctly unsexy, and benefits only some dirty, uncouth infantryman, not a K Street lobbyist in a $3k suit. Which brings us to one of Scales’s weirdest demands:

…the paradoxical light heavy mortar.

… a really good “carry along” heavy mortar?

You mean like the 60 (which actually comes with a sling and can be carried with a round in place and fired with a trigger), and the 81s that some grunt units have hauled on patrols? Or a 120mm where the ammo is too heavy to carry more rounds than you need to set the baseplate?

Scales can be excused for not paying attention to mortars and understanding their current state of development, but the size of the mortar has more to do with its range than its lethality. And ammunition improvements have been remarkable over the last few decades. That light 60mm mortar is handier than the World War II vintage 60 despite its greater length, is hell for accurate, and has the range and lethality of the 1960-or-so vintage 81mm mortar.

And then, the problem is not the weight of the mortar, but the weight of the ammo. A round for the 60 weighs 2.5 to 4 lbs, a round for the 81 9 to 10 lbs.

And here’s a fun fact, that infantrymen all know but that may not have penetrated to the ranks of Retired War College Panjandrums: the M224 60mm mortar greatly outranges the small arms that engaged CPT Swenson’s advisory team, or any other small arm, for that matter. Its accurate range is over 3500 m on max charge, nearly 4,000 yards. 

As far as precision-guidance goes, in a direct-fire situation, a decent mortar gunner who has had ammunition to practice with and develop his skills is utterly deadly with a 60. The best precision-guidance computer on the planet, at least for this purpose, is attached to the relevant sensors by a pair of optic nerves, and located in the brain-case of an infantryman who has been given challenging training, multiple targets, a case of mortar rounds, and some friendly competition.

But, there’s nothing in there for K Street. Or technology magazines. Sorry about that.

Some General Comments

Some of these things amount to, “Gee whiz, maybe if you grease my clients they can repeal Newton’s Laws of Motion.” It’s an example of Full Retard, defense intellectual division. And yet Scales says that it’s he who’s against wasteful defense spending:

These and other soldier-saving technologies could have been developed and fielded cheaply and quickly years ago.

Gee, does he mean the billions blown on the Macnamara Line and its sensors in the 1960s and 70s, cheaply, or the billions blown on drones, cheaply, since the 1990s? (Well, drones go back to the Kettering Bug if you want to get all inclusive).

Yet, after ten years of war the ground services, the Army and Marine Corps, remain starved for new, cutting edge life-saving materiel

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. We call bullshit (threedundantly). The ground services have seen a vast quantity of high-quality, highly-useful, technologically improved equipment. The trooper of 2014 carries stuff that was fuzzy theory in 2001. We were there during halting, experimental and limited deployments of drones, blue-force trackers, and sophisticated counter-IED technologies, to name a few. We were there to see the capabilities of our electronic intelligence collector attached elements take off. We were there to see contact teams, and PEO Soldier, and tech reps from contractors, and they weren’t bringing all the goodies just to us in the white SOF, or our bros on the darkside, or the always high-tech Air Force, but plenty of things that eased the rocky path of the rifleman, good old 11B or 0311.

Want to see life-saving material? Shake out the M3 aid bag a retiring SF medic threw on his garage shelf in 2000, and then shake out one of today’s medics’ kir. And never mid the stuff, the training of the people is the biggest lifesaver going, and has undergone a quiet revolution. We lost guys in 2001 and 2002 to tension pneumothorax and exsanguination, and those are hardly the killers now that they were then.

[W]hile the Department of Defense and their big defense company allies continue to spend generously on profitable big ticket programs like planes, ships, missiles and computers. Soldiers’ stuff is more Popular Mechanics than star wars. But Captain Swenson and his six Medal of Honor colleagues might have had a better day had the nation spent a bit more to give them a technological edge over the enemy.

What they haven’t got is the kind of armchair brainstorms that Scales launches in their general direction, but maybe that’s because that’s not what they’re asking for.

What we need is a human edge over the enemy, not a technological one. Technology is a force enabler and, in very rare best-cases, a force multiplier. As a rule of thumb, a dollar spent on training beats a dollar spent on stuff. But what is the first thing a retrenching Army cuts?

And this confused fellow was a Major General and an Army War College Imperial Wizard or Exalted Octopus or whatever they call it. Lord love a duck. If this is the kind of talent we cultivate at that level, no wonder we haven’t won one clean since V-J Day.

Hotwire and Hot Handguns

HotwireA cable company in Florida “economized” on installation by hiring drug addicts, ex-cons, criminal aliens and thieves for installers. And now, customers have been getting something extra with their cable service — stolen jewelry, money, other valuables and at least one S&W Sigma handgun.

The company, Hotwire Communications, has refused to take responsibility because, drumroll please… they hired their crack (addict) install team as independent contractors, therefore they bear no responsibility for their employees’, excuse us, contractors’, thefts. We are not lawyers, but we strongly suspect that whoever authored this “legal” strategy isn’t, either.

They also have a sales team in the same community trying to sign new people up to be burgled, and denying the existence of the burglaries. In fact, statements of Hotwire officials to the contrary, at least 11 burglaries have been committed by Hotwire workers in that one small gated community and are being investigated by police.

The face of Hotwire Comnunications: confessed thieving installer Ryan Bradshaw.

The face of Hotwire Comnunications: confessed thieving installer Ryan Bradshaw.

One individual, Ryan Bradshaw, 24, has been caught with some of the material, and has confessed to 3 of the burglaries (the ones where he was caught red-handed with part of the loot), but adamantly denies involvement in any more. Some of the stolen materials were fenced to pawnshops and have been recovered into evidence.

The police believe that the stolen gun was exchanged for drugs with violent criminals, but they can’t prove it. The owner did provide the serial number and other information to the police.

We’ve spoken to burglary victims, including the individual who lost the Sigma. It was in a drawer in a room the technicians did not need to access, but one of them distracted him with questions while others rifled the house’s unlocked storage. The gun was normally kept in a drawer.

The Hotwire employees seem to do this routinely: work as a team, where one distracts the customer, and the other (or others) commits the actual burglary. Indeed, given the complaints we’re hearing of service quality and interruptions, they may be significantly more skilled at burglary than they are at cable installation.

The company is providing only minimal and grudging cooperation to the police. For example, they have claimed that they have no documentation of, or means of discovering, which worker was assigned to which residence on any given day.

Cable installers are frequently tempted by valuables in customers’ homes. Some of them will always succumb to that temptation. You don’t need to contract Hotwire to have cable-installer regrets.

Can we distill this down to some lessons for gun owners?

  • don’t hire Hotwire Communications for anything, ever.
  • don’t ever let more than a single worker at a time into your house.
  • don’t ever take your eyes off that worker.
  • don’t leave a gun loose in a drawer.
  • do keep your guns either locked up or on your person at all times.
  • do close all internal doors when you have workers in, don’t let them see any area unless they absolutely must to do their jobs.
  • do check references, and
  • do require contractors to be licensed, insured and bonded.
  • do conceal both “tempting baubles” and things which hint you might have compact valuables (jewelry boxes, gun-related periodicals) when you’re having work done.

Even When They Try, Reporters Can’t Get Gun Stories Right

newspaper-fishwrapMost reporters, of course, don’t even try. We saw a lot of this in reporting of the tragic accident in Idaho, in which a toddler reached into his mother’s handbag and fired a single round — killing his mom instantly.

The press, mostly reporting off each other’s stories as they always do, and exaggerating as they go, as they always do, published a lot of nonsense about the “ignorant hayseed mother” (she was a research chemist, undoubtedly from further out the right lobe of the bell curve than the median-hugging mediocrities who are drawn to reporting) and the “inbred Idaho gun culture” (of which, their expertise comprises entirely reading about it in New York or LA). For example, Bloomberg writer and Democrat political consultant Francis Wilkinson crowed that, “she died the death of a responsible gun owner.”

Most reporters “know” things and so they feel damned small need to ask questions these days. But even in the rare case where a reporter makes an effort to, mirabile dictu, report, he’s a creature of his own milieu, whether you want to call it frame of reference, bias, or epistemic bubble.

From where they report, the view as far as the horizon is all brown no matter what azimuth to which they orient their Trained Reporter Skillset™.  A case in point is this article in the Christian Science Monitor, a Boston-based paper (now online only) once associated with a minor Christian anti-medical cult. The left-center CSM has been anti-gun, and has ushered its anti-gun opinions into supposedly straight news pieces, since the Kennedy Assassination. But the guy currently on the anti-gun beat over there, Patrik Jonsson, actually made a real effort to do balanced reporting in a recent thumbsucker, finding details about this accident that even many pro-gun folks don’t know. (Of course, he didn’t do his own reporting; the Acela doesn’t go to Idaho, so his source is original reporting at the Washington Post. But he does try to be balanced). Then he ruins it, but let’s praise him, first. He begins:

It’s usually careless storage and handling of guns that leads to young children finding and firing weapons, hurting themselves or other children.

We see nothing to fault in that statement, even though, for many bansters, complaining about storage is an incremental tactic: an attempt to get piecemeal what they cannot seize by force majeure. But Jonsson is right when he implies that negligence is implicated in many, no, most, gun accidents. Not just ones with kids, either: there are very few “new” accidents, just new people having the same old accidents. But, as Jonsson notes, this one was different. And he began to diverge from the journalistic pack:

Veronica Rutledge had extensive experience with handguns, and had the handgun zippered into a special purse designed for concealed-carry.

That doesn’t sound like careless storage to us, and even Jonsson has his doubts.

“It appears to be a pretty tragic accident,” Lieutenant [Stu] Miller [Kootenai County SD] said.

…her family says she was a responsible gun owner who had stored the weapon in a specialized gun-carry purse she had received for Christmas.

Rutledge, who lived in Blackfoot, was a high school valedictorian who had gone on to become a chemist at Idaho National Lab. At the same time, she and her husband had extensive shooting experience, and were both licensed – and trained – to carry concealed weapons.

After reviewing video of the shooting, police quickly established that it was an accident. But despite the precautions, somehow the toddler managed to extricate the gun and fire a chambered round.

Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishesNote also that Jonsson has, unlike many of his media peers, learned some of the lingo and applies it correctly. (This shouldn’t be rare, but it is: imagine being the only Boston sportswriter that knows that the name of Tom Brady’s position on the Patriots is “quarterback,” and what it’s supposed to do. Such is the level of writing on gun issues). But then Jonsson throws a pass to his Bostonian readers that betrays his own level of ignorance on the subject.

It’s against the law in Idaho to carry a loaded concealed gun.

It is not. It is against the law to carry a loaded concealed gun without a license, which is readily available to Idahoans, and the rights of which are extended to just about every licensee nationwide, even from states the snippily decline to reciprocate.

It’s actually hell for common to have a license in Idaho, even though unlicensed open carry is also legal. Terence McCoy, the Washington Post writer whose reporting undergirds Jonsson’s writing, noted this detail:

A lot of people in Idaho are [gun people]. …. And more than 85,000 people — 7 percent of the population — are licensed to carry concealed weapons, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center.

And, Great Googly Moogly, Jonsson gets it wrong. Even though he noted just a few grafs above that the victim in this case had a license to carry. In, you know, Idaho.

Such are the perils of reporting with confidence on the real America, from the precincts of the 1%, deep behind the Acela Curtain.

That Carter has a lot to answer for

This is a screencap of a real tweet (we dunno how to embed the actual tweet) from the network once known as the History Channel.

historys_head_up_its_ass

Is there anything that stinks more than TV? The guys who claim to be history experts can’t even nail down a major event within two centuries.

And… “colonist” troops? Well, who else was available to fight against the Dynamic Duo of British Imperialism, King George III and Lady Thatcher?

We probably shouldn’t be so shocked. Civics education these days means twelve years of iterative exposure to the same single shallow lesson about the Greatest American Ever, His Excellency Field Marshal Grand Exalted Luminescence Martin Luther King. So maybe the writers for the network are twenty-somethings, whose brains can be expected to be filled with mush. That would explain why they don’t know what happened in the Revolutionary War, what the armies engaged were called, or, well, much of anything about anything.

One of the many people who tweeted a response to the still-uncorrected, brain-dead Valley Forge tweet, Katie Warchol, made a plausible excuse for the History Channel: “Clearly, an intern wrote this.”

Great Googly Moogly, have you watched the channel, Katie? An intern writes all of it. And they’ve been doing their part in the hiring of the (mentally) handicapped. There’s no other explanation for some self-esteem snowflake arriving at the exit of grade school without a firm grasp on the significance (and timing) of Valley Forge.

The empty-headed bozos at the History Channel might be out of their depth writing about, you know, history. But hey, they can make them some UFO videos.

Maybe they should try making a “histology channel” or something. Because they’re certainly a rolling cluster*&^% as a History Channel.

Tune in next week when the History Channel explores the English Civil War, featuring the Cleveland Cavaliers versus the Phillips Heads.

Did we mention that TV basically sucks?

 

We Nearly Missed the 2014 Blue Falcon Stolen Valor Tournament

Where “Buddy” is only half a word….

Every year, the military blog This Ain’t Hell has what they call the Blue Falcon Stolen Valor Tournament, where the worst phony wannabee dipsheetz of the last year go head-to-head in a voter-driven tournament of whatever the antonym of military excellence is.

The crapulent contenders have already been boiled down to four, which include (in alphabetical order):

  • Bernath_DanielDaniel Bernath, a lawyer (ptui), whose recent response to being outed as a poser when his claims to be a Navy CPO were proven false, was kind of epic: he added a false claim to have been a SEAL. It’s kind of amazing anyone makes false SEAL claims, because of all the SOF orgs anywhere, the SEALs have kept the best and most definitive records, and you can always find out whether someone is a bona fide SEAL in very short order. Needless to say, Bernath has never been any closer to being a SEAL than having a real one, Don Shipley, call him out as a poser. (Most of the stuff on that uniform is phony).

 

  • Chevalier_DennisDenis Chevalier, who claims to be an LTC Air Force pilot, but whose actual military record is… a little more limited. Like, 20 days in the National Guard in Texas. Hell, even previous winner John Giduck, a phony SF and Ranger officer, actually made it 58 days, almost to the end of basic training. This guy’s a bigger loser than a previous champion loser… it’s just like the Olympics, just when you feel this area of human endeavor is maxed out, along comes some guy with a record-breaking performance. It ought to be an Oscar category: “Worst performance by an actor playing a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine.” But then the actors would be PO’d at him for pretending to be an actor.

 

  • Church_DerekDerek Church, who parades around in an XXXL uniform with SSG stripes, an 82nd combat patch, and a variety of unearned gongs including a Ranger beret, what looks like a CIB (grrrr….), and a Ranger Regiment beret. Note the mixed ribbons and medals, and marvel at this guy’s lack of self-awareness (not to mention, fashion sense). Yep, he’s the very model of a modern combat Ranger. Don’t they all have more “Chins” than the Taipei phone book? His actually military service peaked at PFC in the National Guard, which grueling duty he didn’t complete two full years of. (NTTAWWT, the Guard we mean, for the folks that stayed in — which Church didn’t — and did a deployment — ditto).

 

  • visconi_FrankFrank Visconi. Visconi was actually an honorably-discharged Marine Vietnam Vet. He was a supply clerk (which we’re sure you’ll agree, is a much underappreciated field of endeavor). Visconi, in later years, began claiming combat awards including the Purple Heart, about which his story has changed. He attempted to get the awards inserted in his military records but failed, and failed spectacularly: on appeal, he actually brought the case to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which shot him down, noting that the Bronze Star and Purple Heart citations he provided were determined by the appropriate authorities to be, quote, “not authentic.”

We know what you’re thinking. Because it’s what we thought: “Why can’t they all win, or is it, lose?” Well, that’s just they way life is sometimes. You only get one best friend, one worst enemy, and one Blue Falcon Stolen Valor Tournament champion for 2014. But you do get to vote for two out of the four, and soon, for one of the two finalists.

For the other three, there’s always next year. Although Rumor Control says that past winner, military impersonator John Giduck is stirring, in his mountain fastness….