Category Archives: Don’t be THAT guy

The New Face of Defense: And his Anatomical Doll

Army LogoThis remarkable story at tells the tale of the new Face of Defense, that hardened operator who stands ready to leap into action at the ring of a phone, to deal with DOD’s highest priority:

He’s not a police officer or firefighter, but he often finds himself responding at all hours of the night.

“There are a lot of nights that it doesn’t ring, which is a good thing, but there are too many nights that it does. Sometimes it rings more than once and you go out on multiple calls,” he said.

Wow, what does this mission-critical paragon do?

As his unit was preparing to deploy in 2011, its leaders needed someone to fill the role… and [Sergeant First Class John Thompson] was selected to attend an 80-hour course in Virginia.

“Once I got there, it was a lot of eye-opening experiences about the scope and size of the problem the military has with sexual assaults.”

Oh, for Pete’s sake….

Going through the class, Thompson said, he felt comfortable conducting sexual assault briefings, but wasn’t sure he was prepared for the other aspect of the role — responding to victims after they’ve been assaulted. He knew that statistically, women are more likely to be victims of sexual assault, he said, and he was worried that as a man, he might not be the person someone would want to see at that difficult time.

In many civilian organizations, victim advocates are predominantly women, but the Minnesota National Guard has more male advocates than female advocates. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jennifer Diaz, the Minnesota National Guard’s sexual assault response coordinator, said she sees this as a positive thing and has never had a victim request to have a female advocate over a male advocate.

“Vibrancy is our Diversity!” That’s the magic shibboleth, the SPQR that’s supposed to fend off the next barbarian banquet. Diaz explains that you must never, ever doubt or investigate an accusation of sexual assault, because nobody would lie about that. Certainly not, say, in the pages of Stoned Roller magazine or in, say, the primordial ooze of the professional sexual-assault profiteers industry.

“I think having a strong male presence sends a message that men are compassionate, caring and will believe a victim without judging them,” Diaz said. “I feel males in this role are extremely important. They play an essential role in changing the culture surrounding sexual assault.”

Yep. You gotta believe a complainant without judging, and convict an accused without retraumatizing your complainant with any of that old-fashioned “due process” rigamarole. Because women don’t lie about rape, damn it, especially not the ones whose meal ticket is conjuring a rapist from every case of post-coitus triste. You know, like about half of the administrative bloat at most universities these days.

Fortunately, Thompson has not only put himself into the military’s only growth field under current management, he’s also in a position to observe the vibrancy that comes with diversity-is-our-strength:

“I opened the door and I walked in and — this speaks to the prejudicial view we have on sexual assaults — I walked into that room expecting to find a female victim, and it was a young man,” he said.

Guess they vibrancy’d the bleeeep outa that kid. Score one for GLBTQWERTY, and the Great Buggernaut rolls on.

We’re sure in no time we’ll be hearing that Thompson’s overfulfilled the 5-year-plan for rapes.

He’s also had to learn how to set his emotions aside and remain neutral so he can focus on supporting the victim. ….

“We’re not there to judge — What were you wearing? Why were you out this late? Why did you drink so much? Why didn’t you know better? — we don’t ask those why questions.”

Naw, why ask why? You gotta keep the numbers up, and if all the women aren’t getting raped, what are all the rape professionals going to do? Lord love a duck, someone might notice we ran an Army for hundreds of years without employing any rape professionals. (Well, there was that one Sergeant Major of the Army. But he beat the rap!).

Seriously, what’s next, rape quotas? We can just see it now: “Sergeant Major Carter? This is CSM Billings up at Group. I’ve been looking at the stats and you ‘n’ your troops better get cracking if they don’t want to lose the Best Rapists streamer from their guidon to 2nd Battalion.”

And it’s a great career move:

Thompson’s passion for advocacy brought him to Washington, D.C., in 2014 for a year-long tour as an instructor at the National Guard Bureau, teaching the 80-hour Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Program course for victim advocates. One of his biggest challenges, he said, was convincing soldiers to change the way they’ve traditionally done things in the past to help change the culture in the organization at large.

Yeah, let’s change the culture. Because everything gets better with more slogans-not-facts about sexual assaults.

We know what they’re going to say: we’re just envious we never got an NCOER like this:

“Sergeant First Class Thompson … believes the victim and has a genuine concern for their well-being. He exudes a passion for combating sexual assault, and that passion makes others want to do the right thing.”

‘Cause that’s the most important thing, “believe the victim,” because “victims” never, ever, lie. Not even a little bit, not even in the pages of Stoned Roller. No criminal investigator will ever tell you someone lied to him, or tried to settle a score by diming an innocent suspect. That has never happened, ever, since Cain, the archetype and prototype of the whole damned criminal race, confessed his misdeed without prompting or evasion.

That is what he did, innit?

OK, we’ve got the message: the Army is a bunch of Vikings running around raping everything with a hole (which is, technically, everything, the New Army wants us to know. And yes, Our Hero, the Face of Defense, already handled [eewwww] male victims).

Hey, Army, show us on this anatomically correct doll where exactly Ash Carter touched you. (For the Unique and Special Snowflake™ contingent, there’s also an anatomically incorrect doll that identifies as a correct one). So where did he touch you?

Just about everywhere? Got it. Well, you’re the victim; we have to believe you.

Note to parents: since everybody is raping everybody so much in the Army that the rape bureaucracy is the only thing in the tottering organization that’s growing, you might want to advise the kids that they should go into something safer and more nurturing, like the French Foreign Legion. You definitely don’t want them talking to the Army recruiter; they’re just going to wind up raped, and worse, they’ll be spending all their time in classes about it.

We Didn’t Watch this Whole Video

We got as far as the guy describing the Johnson M1941 as a “delayed blowback” rifle. No, genius, it’s short recoil. If you don’t know the difference, what the hell are you doing in a firearms museum?


(Link because we can’t figure out how to embed this).

He also manages to describe Mel Johnson dismissively as a Harvard lawyer, when it also was somewhat on point that Johnson was a Marine ordnance officer and the author of what was then the most complete compendium of world automatic rifles and machine guns.

The Johnson they put on display is one of the postwar-sporterized ones sold by Winfield. The Museum’s Andrew Dalton may not know this, but the actual military version had a bayonet lug and a bayonet, if an unconventional one. And its military failure was simply this: the military was very far along with the Garand, and the Johnson wasn’t so distinctly superior as to justify a change. (Indeed, Garand and Johnson qualities seem about a wash).


There’s nothing about how it came to the Marines (via an order for the Dutch East Indies, which were overrun before the guns left the docks) or who used Johnson guns in service (the Raiders, the OSS, and the 1st Special Service Force).

Putting on a bow tie to look like a nerd doesn’t actually make you smart. And the other guy has never seen a gun where the barrel moves (what, he doesn’t know any hunters with a Browning Auto-5 or one of its many copies? Boy howdy, that barrel moves…).

There’s copious written information about the Johnson available, including an excellent book by Bruce Canfield, Johnson Rifles and Machine Guns, which the NRA certainly must have in their library. There’s no excuse for doing this crappy a job on a Curator’s Corner. And Curator’s Corner is usually outstanding, authoritative. Why did they drop the ball on this one?


Hudson Becomes a Shorthand Writer

hudson_maximHudson Maxim was, at the turn of the last century, one of three famous Maxims: his brother invented the eponymous machine gun, and his brother’s son, Hudson’s nephew, the firearm silencer. His contribution was a smokeless powder formula, among other inventions. (He called one of his smokeless powders Maximite).

He also was a witty, engaging writer, with a profound sense of black humor. This excerpt from his 1916 Dynamite Stories tells the story of, well, we suppose you could call it a lab accident. At the end, we’ll link you to the book’s home online.

Is the story quite true as told? Well. here’s his Dedication to the book:


To the actors in the comedies and tragedies of real life presented in these stories, without whose efforts and sacrifices the stories could not have been so interesting and true, this volume is with grateful acknowledgments most respectfully dedicated. As the parts played by the actors were not rehearsed, the performances have required a little retouching in the interest of the reader, the author having subordinated history tostory rather than story to history.

Hudson M

So perhaps the story isn’t — quite — true. We promise it’s enjoyable, regardless.


In experimenting with high explosives and in their manufacture, a little absent-mindedness, a very slight lack of exact caution, a seemingly insignificant inadvertence for a moment, may cost one a limb or his life. The incident that cost me my left hand is a case in point.

On the day preceding that accident, I had had a gold cap put on a tooth. In consequence, the tooth ached and kept me awake the greater part of the night. Next morning I rose early and went down to my factory at Maxim, New Jersey. In order to test the dryness of some fulminate compound I took a little piece of it, about the size of an English penny, broke off a small particle, placed it on a stand outside the laboratory and, lighting a match, touched it off.

Owing to my loss of sleep the night before, my mind was not so alert as usual, and I forgot to lay aside the remaining piece of fulminate compound, but, instead, held it in my left hand. A spark from the ignited piece entered my left hand between my fingers, igniting the piece there, with the result that my hand was blown off to the wrist, and the next thing I saw was the bare end of the wrist bone. My face and clothes were bespattered with flesh and filled with slivers of bone. . . . The following day, my thumb was found on the top of a building a couple of hundred feet away, with a sinew attached to it, which had been pulled out from the elbow.

A tourniquet was immediately tightened around my wrist to prevent the flow of blood, and I and two of my assistants walked half a mile down to the railroad, where we tried to stop an upgoing train with a red flag. But it ran the flag down and went on, the engineer thinking, perhaps, from our wild gesticulations that we were highwaymen.

We then walked another half-mile to a farmhouse, where a horse and wagon were procured. Thence I was driven to Farmingdale, four and a half miles distant, where I had to wait two hours for the next train to New York.

The only physician in the town was an invalid, ill with tuberculosis. I called on him while waiting, and condoled with him, as he was much worse off than was I.

On arrival in New York, I was taken in a carriage to the elevated station at the Brook- lyn Bridge. On reaching my station at Eighty-fourth Street, I walked four blocks, and then up four flights of stairs to my apartments on Eighty-second Street, where the surgeon was awaiting me. It was now evening, and the accident had occurred at half-past ten o’clock in the morning. That was a pretty hard day!

As I had no electric lights in the apartments, only gas, the surgeon declared that it would be dangerous to administer ether, and that he must,therefore, chloroform me. He added that there was no danger in using chloroform, if the patient had a strong heart. Thereupon I asked him to examine my heart, since, if there should be the least danger of my dying under the influence of the anesthetic, I wanted to make my will.

“Heart!” exclaimed the surgeon, with emphasis. “A man who has gone through what you have gone through today hasn’t any heart!”

The next day I dictated letters to answer my correspondence as usual. The young woman stenographer, who took my dictation, remarked, with a sardonic smile:

“You, too, have now become a shorthand writer.”

The grim jest appealed to my sense of humor.

On the third day I was genuinely ill and had no wish to do business. Within ten days, however, I was out again, attending to my affairs.

Now, that’s a man who had a way of dealing with the aftermath of FOOM.

For that, and other stories, we recommend Dynamite Stories, whose full title is Dynamite Stories and Some Interesting Facts about Explosives. It can be downloaded in your choice of e-book format at

For those not inclined to download it, and for the entertainment of the 18C in all of us, we may occasionally excerpt one of these stories going forward.


Safety: Give the FOOM Plenty of Room

You’ve probably seen, and maybe used, Tannerite, a binary explosive that’s permissible to use in reasonable quantities and with reasonable safety precautions. It’s not a terribly high explosive, but it’s not trivial either: it’s based on ammonium nitrate, like many of the things terrorist bomb-makers like to use, and it’s shock-sensitive, so it can be set off with a hit from a bullet. Those two in combination should make you respect it, at least. And as this video shows, when you add unreasonable quantities (3 lb. packed in a sheet-steel lawnmower) and unreasonable distances (a foot over 14 yards, by police measurement), you’d be lucky to escape, like this young man, David Pressley, did, with a Life Flight ride and a lifelong disability.

Yes, he did blow his leg clean off. (Technically, it was traumatically amputated by shrapnel from the lawnmower. He can now tell people he lost his leg in a lawnmower accident, which is literally true). Tannerite comes with a whole bunch of safety precautions written right on the packaging that lots of guys know too much to bother reading. You know, men and instructions.


As the nice news lady points out in the video, one of those advisories says give a standoff of 100 meters (or maybe just yards) per pound of the stuff. (Another tells you not to pack metallic stuff with it). So this yout’ gave the FOOM roughly 260 yards too little room. He’s damned lucky the mower-turned-shrapnel didn’t strike him in the cranium or neck instead of below the knee. He’s damned lucky he didn’t lose both legs. He probably doesn’t feel lucky, right now, with months of rehab ahead just to learn to walk again, but he is.

He was with two friends, who fortunately were not injured seriously in the blast. One of them secured a tourniquet around his stump, and they bundled him into a vehicle and ran him from the track they were on back out to a road, where EMS met them. (More info at USA Today).

To a former professional user of HE, some of the experiments we see people doing on YouTube, and the lackadaisical attitudes that sometimes accompany them, are chilling. We don’t mean to insult or demean Pressley, who’s got enough troubles right now; just to encourage everybody to have fun, but take care while you’re doing it.

The video also mentions that Tannerite blasts are a major cause of neighbor complaints. While more and more people shoot, most people don’t shoot. The majority of them seem to be fully supportive of our rights, so the least we can do is exercise some restraint and good neighborliness as to when and where we FOOM the place up. (Pressley seems to have been well out in the country, in a wooded area. Good for noise control, not so good for medical response. Everything in life is a trade-off, as any engineer can tell you).

The ATF has also been threatening for years to go after people that acquire, store or use “too much” Tannerite without an explosives license.  (ATF in 2012 via AmmoLand. ATF current explanation of the law on binary explosives). You may recall that they went after the people behind the juvenile YouTube channel FPSRussia on that score. But a little over a year ago, ATF also posted a prescient safety advisory from the interagency National Explosives Task Force on their Facebook channel. Had Pressley followed the four “nevers” in that list, he’d still be standing on his own two feet.

FBIAwarenessBothIn response to the Safety Advisory, Dan J. Tanner, the head of Tannerite Sports, told that “there has never been an injury by shooting Tannerite as recommended on all written and published literature and instructions.” Tannerite’s recommendations are found online, and, likewise, following them would have allowed Pressley to have his YouTube notoriety without having quite so much of it as he has right now.

Finally, it may occur to people that actual terrorists might try to use this stuff. It has certainly occurred to both ATF and FBI explosives investigators (the FBI has usurped a lot of ATF’s former bomb authority in recent years). If you are a retailer, you should probably have the attached joint Tannerite/FBI developed advisory (right) hanging up where your clerks can see it. Hat tip, Herschel Smith at The Captain’s Quarters.

“Don’t Shoot Him No More!”

Raheem Scott left his old Chevy running when he ran into an Exxon station in Atlanta for some oil. When he came out, two thieves were taking off with his car. So he opened up and shot the driver five times, as the woman in the passenger seat shrieked and sobbed, “Don’t shoot him no more!”

scott car

Licensed carriers, can you do that?

Hell no. You can’t do that. Scott is in custody, charged with murder. (We don’t know if Scott was a licensed carrier, a prohibited person, or something in between, at this point. Our hunch is that he will turn out not to be licensed).

He should have listened to the screaming woman; maybe it would only be attempted murder then.

Witnesses outside a gas station told Channel 2 Action News they watched a man open fire on a man who climbed into a black sedan that was left running on the side of the store.

Police received reports of shots fired shortly after 7 p.m. at the Exxon Gas station at 507 Joseph E Lowery Boulevard in southwest Atlanta, near the West End Mall.

The store owner told Channel 2 the owner of the sedan, later identified as 25-year-old Raheem Scott, was inside buying oil.

When Scott came out, 50-year-old William Blackwell, of Goodlettsville, Tennessee, was in the driver’s seat and a woman, who has not yet been identified, was in the passenger’s seat.

A witness, who asked not to be named, told Channel 2 he saw the car owner react.

“I heard five shots and I look back and the girl is screaming don’t shoot him no more!” he said. “She just screaming don’t shoot him no more. Please don’t shoot him no more.”

via Murder charges for man who shot, killed alleged car thief in… |

It’s hard to have an iota of sympathy for William Blackwell, who’s stolen his last car. And we don’t have any sympathy for him; he was a thief, and the world is a better place without him.

And it’s easy to sympathize with Scott. A glance at the car tells you it’s a beater. A lot of people who own beaters, that sad old car is the single biggest asset they have. Sad but true. Losing your car in America means losing your mobility, which is one more reason good-government types who approve the idea of funding the PD by ticketing the working poor for mufflers and taillights irritate us so much. Stealing a poor man’s car is about like draining a Congressman’s Goldman Sachs account — it hits the guy where he lives. (And that’s true whether you’re a sneak thief like the late unlamented William Blackwell, or an official thief who takes the car with court fines and impound fees).

Whether Scott was an itinerant dope dealer, or (as is more likely, just playing the odds) some guy with a marginal job and bills to pay, he knew that that car driving off on him meant complete ruin.

It’s not like Atlanta Police are going to bestir themselves to look for a poor black guy’s stolen beater. Hey, if it’s not a homicide, file it in the circular file.

But assuming arguendo as the law dogs say, that Scott was a licensed carrier, here’s what he did wrong: he killed a man over property. (Indeed, firing the shots was unlawful even if the thief had lived. In some jurisdictions, just drawing the gun in this case would be “brandishing.”)

You have the right to use deadly force in self-defense (and in defense of others) when you are facing deadly force. In other words, if you’re facing aggression. If you’re not facing aggression, then guess what, Sparky? You’re the aggressor, in the eyes of the law. And you better hope your marksmanship was good enough to get you aggravated assault, and not good enough to get you a murder rap, like Raheem Scott here.

Again, we’re going off early news stories and early news stories are often wrong. And we don’t have a lawyer’s understanding of the law, and don’t know anything about the peculiarities of Georgia law. But the principle is pretty universal: you can only use deadly force to prevent death or serious bodily injury. If someone steals your car, you have to let it go. Heck, if someone kills your dog, in almost every state you’re not justified using force on him, because in the eyes of the law, your four-legged family member is just another piece of property.

We can see one glimmer of a chance for Scott (based, of course, on this preliminary information from a news story, which may be 99% manure): if he claims that the thief was trying to run him down in the car, he might create a reasonable doubt. (This is a favorite claim invoked by cops after a shooting, but it’s unlikely to be as effective in the hands of a citizen. For one thing, cops are allowed to shoot fleeing felons, within limits. You’re not).

Every year some of these cases come up, and someone who thought he made a good shoot is about to get a long, hard lesson in the preferences of the law. Usually the shoot went bad because someone kept shooting at a fleeing felon (i.e., no longer posing a deadly threat), or because someone, like in this case, shot when life was not in danger.

Nuclear Dumb Attack in the Megaton Range

We really haven’t paid any attention to Piers Morgan since he packed up his clown shoes and went back home to lecture his fellow Europeons [stet] on the theory and practice of submission to sovereigns just and unjust. But he just came up with something that reminded us why he was too damnably dumb for CNN. This:

Just for the record, we screencapped it in case he tucks and runs, in his own inimitable Redcoats-at-Concord style.

It’s nice to see the President finally found a flag that it wasn’t beneath him to salute. No surprise it wasn’t ours.

And also for the record, we prefer this picture of the great Argentine hero of Cuba, Ernesto Che Guevara.

"He's resting. He's pining for the pampas."

“He’s resting. He’s pining for the pampas.”

That’s the post-clean-up Dead Che. One more, rather gruesome and NSFW/NSF children Dead Che picture, pre-clean-up, after the jump.

Continue reading

Export-Import Bank Sure Hates Veterans


Seal of the Ex-Im, created 1934. No veterans need apply, 2016.

Veterans, you know those guys. Scary. Ticking time bombs. PTSD, road rage, all that stuff. Off-color war stories, smelly field gear in the closet, and tattered old boots they never throw away, and they own lots of guns (okay, some parts of the stereotype might have some grounding in fact). Still, they’re not the sort of people you want in your whisper-quiet, slow-moving bank offices.

At least, that’s what senior managers at the Export-Import Bank of the United States think, and so they made sure that veterans’ applications for positions were identified, isolated — and eliminated. At least nine vet applicants for technical positions at the obscure agency were never considered when their applications were dumped in File 13.

Org chart of the Ex-Im. Well over $20M is wasted on these anti-vet officials' salaries and benefits annually.

Org chart of the Top. Men. who set policy at the Ex-Im. Well over $20M is wasted on these anti-vet officials’ salaries and benefits annually.

At least, until some now-doomed insider blew the whistle on the anti-vet 1%ers’ policy.

The Export-Import Bank, an executive branch credit agency that loans money to foreign customers to purchase U.S. goods, is required by law to consider veterans’ preference for open employment positions before other applicants in its office under Title 5 and Title 38 code.

But internal documents obtained by Federal Times allege that officials sought to circumvent the preference process by removing a tranche of veteran applicants for two GS-14 IT specialist infrastructure operations manager positions….

Naturally the Ex-Im has a six-figure spokesman who banks that money to say nothing about the pending investigation:

“Complaints of [prohibited personnel practices] are investigated by the Office of Special Counsel, and the Bank has not received notice from the OSC of any formal complaint,” said an The [sic] Export-Import Bank spokesman.

(Would that nameless, evasive spokesperson have been the very well paid Dolline Hatchett, VP of Communications, or one of Hatchett’s overpaid, underworked flunkies? Sadly, Hatchett herself appears to be a veteran, one of the sort that pulls up the ladder once she’s aboard, apparently).

Now, whether there should be veterans’ preference for Federal jobs is another question. (And it’s not the biggest “whether” out there — we’ll get to that). But here’s how it works, according to Federal Times:

Eligible veterans can be ranked in the categories of the skills they possess. According to OPM’s page on veteran employment, applicants “who meet basic minimum qualification requirements established for the position” are ranked by categories of skill. “Preference eligibles are listed ahead of non-preference eligibles within each quality category,” the site said.

A minimum of the top three eligible candidates are presented to agencies with a job opening, the so-called “Rule of Three.” However, no agency can pass over a preference-eligible veteran in favor of a lower-ranking, nonpreference-eligible candidate or if they have the same skills. Veterans preference is considered “absolute.”

There are other forms of preference than veterans preference, for example, for Native Americans, as we understand it. But Indians are much rarer in the Beltway IT ranks than veterans are. And, of course, the management of the Ex-Im Bank probably has no loathing of veterans.

Preference-eligible veterans can only be disqualified once the examining office that provides the list of candidates sustains the hiring agency’s objection to them “for adequate reasons.” Those reasons can include medical issues, suitability issues or other grounds, but must be approved either OPM or an examining authority. Preference eligible veterans who have applied three times and not been selected for employment with reason are not required to be reviewed by an appointing official.

The positions in question, which were to primarily serve as program managers for the bank’s IT operations, were open at various times throughout the spring, summer and fall of 2015. While evaluating candidates and not finding veteran applicants acceptable for the positions, officials allegedly suggested in July that nine veteran applicants should be disqualified from the applicant bank in order to review non-vet applicants.

via Allegations of Export-Import Bank dumping vet applicants emerge.

Howard Spira ex-im BankWho’s the one who set Ex-Im’s “no veterans” policy? We don’t know, but we can show you the face of the man who heads the department that rejected the idea of hiring vets: Chief Information Officer Howard Spira.

Spira is a veteran, but not of the military. He’s a veteran of every crony-capitalist boondoggle to come down the Baltimore-Washington Turnpike. Don’t believe us, here’s his own Ex-Im bio:

Howard comes to the Export-Import Bank from the United States Treasury where he lead the technology team for the Office of Financial Stability – the team at Treasury that ran the TARP.

Great, the guy’s been living off bailouts since the Bush Administration — and living mid-six-figures well, too. What was this anti-veteran doing before that?

Prior to his federal service, Howard was a senior IT executive in the financial services industry where he worked for companies such as GE Capital, Goldman Sachs, Smith Barney and Andersen Consulting. He brings to ExIm a wealth of diversified industry technology experience.

Boy, there’s some prime experience. GE Capital was a bailout recipient, having built a portfolio of bad loans to dodgy borrowers (kind of the same thing Spira and the boys are doing at Ex-Im, where the taxpayers are on the hook for $2B in subsidies through 2024[.pdf]). Goldman Sachs is the deep bench of corrupt crony capitalism — no one honest ever came out of Goldman. (Or went in for that matter). And Andersen Consulting? Here’s a couple of articles that show you the integrity that Spira was brought up to personify.

Andersen, once a stiff-collared accounting firm, had been taking $1 million a week from Enron to lie about Enron’s financial condition. Among the most criminal actors were the IT staff who made an attempt to systematically delete and shred incriminating files. After the felonies and while the verdicts and the court shakeout were ongoing, Andersen became Accenture to try to shake the stain off its name, but it was actually the consulting branch of Arthur Andersen and its for-sale, transactional ethics that brought the company down. Spira is a felony-era employee, one of the deletion-prone IT guys who helped land the company in the sights of the Department of Justice.

But that’s just Spira’s history. When you look at Ex-Im’s history you wonder less about why won’t they hire vets and more about why are we wasting taxpayer money on this racket. 

Supposedly, the Ex-Im counteracts foreign subsidies, but its subsidies exceed the sum of Germany's, France's and Britain's -- which those nations justify as a counter to Ex-Im.

Supposedly, the Ex-Im counteracts foreign subsidies, but its subsidies exceed the sum of Germany’s, France’s and Britain’s — subsidies those nations justify as a counterweight to Ex-Im!

Founded in the Roosevelt (F.) Administration as a New Deal way to reward politically favored firms with “free” export financing, the Ex-Im Bank today is mostly a gigantic subsidy to Boeing — and to its own employees and managers. 66% of its business is bankrolling the gigantic defense prime contractor and airframe manufacturer. The remainder is a mix of similar below-market loans to favored companies, including partisan-political GE, and bad loans to uncreditworthy companies that are politically connected.

The bank recently had a near-death experience in Congress, but enough Democrats and Republicans alike pocket some of the Ex-Im money as kickbacks, uh, bribes, er, campaign contributions that they kept the crony bank alive  — to fail more spectacularly later. (The Iron Law of Bailouts is that they’re never smaller the second time).

When you look at The Export-Import Bank of the United States, the real question is not why Howard Spira, Dollie Hatchett and other Ex-Im managers hate vets, it’s this: why would any vet with integrity want to work there?

You Didn’t Plan or Rehearse… Now What?

No, the American MTT didn't do this. Mother Nature did

No, the American MTT didn’t do this. Mother Nature did

That was the question Woody had to ask himself in January, 2010, when a massive earthquake trashed the hotel where he and his USCG Mobile Training Team were staying in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

He quickly discovered that when you haven’t planned and rehearsed, you’re down to improvising, at best; and pulling it out of your fourth point of contact, at worst.

In a painfully honest self-criticism at ReFactor Tactical, he reviews some of the things he did wrong — and right.

Complacency can get you killed. Have a plan, practice it as much as you can, and don’t count on someone coming to save you. Emergency services in a catastrophic event (those that aren’t affected by the event) will be focused on the most severe injuries or most severely damaged areas.

My team was required to submit a mission plan that included procedures for what to do in an emergency. Quite frankly, I did a crap job of sitting down and thinking about what could happen. I blame it on personal complacency. By this point, I had completed 2.5 years of mobile training teams on 5 continents. Nothing had ever happened, and I was in the mindset that nothing ever would. My plan for everything was the same: call the Embassy.

When the earthquake hit, the initial panic and injuries among personnel (both permanent party and TDY) resulted in Post One having to assume control of the net and regulating traffic. If you weren’t severely injured, you weren’t getting through.

It was worse than that. If their fallback plan was to go to the Embassy, they didn’t know how.

We had a vehicle, but didn’t know how to get to the Embassy (all our driving was done by a hired driver), and we didn’t have a map. We also had no weapons. You don’t necessarily wander around certain parts of Haiti during normal daylight hours, much less when all security and social services just disappeared.

via Lessons Learned, Haiti, January 2010 | RE Factor Tactical.

There’s a lot of painful true confessions there, and more in the article.

His commo PACE plan had only three legs, and all legs went down in the quake. The Cell phone net went paws up (P), the team screwed up their only satphone (A), and the Marine Guards’ Post One radio net (C) was saturated with higher-priority traffic. There was no (E).

As he notes, a lot of this was due to complacency. We’d also suggest lack of rehearsals. An SF team can always go to HF voice (old-timers can go to CW but they don’t teach Morse at the schoolhouse, at least not to everybody). This is also an argument for doing what we did, carrying a personal satphone. The downside of that is that we now have an obsolete Iridium phone in the basement that cost  … let’s just say, a lot of money. But we didn’t stop with buying the phone, we drilled with the thing until we could work it without reference to the manual, and we knew where we were at any point in the phone’s sometimes counterintuitive menus and screens. In other words, we took personal responsibility for and personal charge of last-ditch emergency communications.

One thing we always do in a new location is conduct reconnaissanceHeck, when we visit friends, we often do both a map and a car recon of their neighborhood. It’s nice to know if the next street over has a police station or a meth lab! The point of this recon is not just to observe the area but also look at it from a military standpoint. High-speed avenues of approach and egress? Covered and concealed withdrawal routes, if needed? Alternates? Key terrain? Observation points?

For most users, a baseplate compass from Suunto is better than a GI Lensatic. The GI compass is superior for night use (contains tritium) and for measuring azimuths (like for calling artillery). Copies of the .mil compass lack the tritium and are mostly worthless.

With the map, you need a compass and possibly a protractor. For most users, a baseplate compass from Suunto is better than a GI Lensatic. The GI compass is superior for night use (contains tritium) and for measuring azimuths (like for calling artillery). Copies of the .mil compass lack the tritium and therefore lack that key advantage..

You need maps. Physical, paper maps. Why? Because a paper map never runs out of batteries, gets jammed by a “trawler,” gets knocked offline by an EMP, or suffers the Blue Screen of Death® (Blue Screen of Death® is a registered trademark of Microsoft, Inc., for its proprietary software solutions). Everyone has become a cripple, unable to stand up without the crutch of GPS. And in the .mil it is a problem because (1) most services, schools and units do a piss-poor job of teaching map reading and land (and coastal!) navigation; (2) nobody believes that there will ever be a minute without GPS even though the satellites are vulnerable to crude ASATs, and the signal is so low-gain it’s trivial to jam; (3) not issuing maps is cheaper than issuing maps, and it never takes much persuasion to get Uncle Sam to do the cheap thing.

Now, one of you young bucks is going to say, “Yeah, but a GPS never dissolved in a light drizzle.” To which the wise old sensei must reply, “The map is only half of a map, Grasshopper.” We’re not going all Zen on you for nothing: you must cover the map with sticky (and not coincidentally, waterproof) acetate.

Is it really true that a US Embassy let a military team set up in a foreign country (in fact, a foreign country with natural and human hazards aplenty) without at least giving them a strip map from the no-tell motel back to the chancery? If that’s the case, the DAO needs a rapid transfer to a branch immaterial assistant quartermaster position somewhere out along the arctic DEW Line.

Action This Day

What you can do right now is: get a topographic map of your area and any other areas you usually are found in. Print it off if you have to. Cover it in acetate. Get a compass. Put them both in your bugout bag. (Multiple copies: house, car, boat, office, etc. are even better). Don’t just put the stuff away, either: practice with it.

Learn how things are oriented to the real world. What side of your house is north? OK, what is the long azimuth of your house? In what cardinal direction could you walk to probable help in a disaster? In what direction would you be most exposed to risk?

And think about communications. Who would you want to talk to in a natural disaster? (Or an unnatural one, for that matter). How many ways can you think of to reach that person? How many of those would be working “the day after,” whether, “the day of,” was a massive terror attack like 9/11, or a massive natural disaster like the 2010 Haiti earthquake?

It’s Never Just Being a Military Phony

Joe Weeks -- Nobody's idea of an elite trooper.

Joe Weeks — Nobody’s idea of an elite trooper. Dressed in his own proper uniform, this time.

Consider Joe Weeks, phony PJ, Embezzler, and Suspected Murderer.

The same thing that drove Joe Weeks to pretend to be an Air Force PJ (pararescueman, one of the most selective and challenging specialties in the USAF), fake being a Silver Star recipient, and steal from his employer, apparently drove him to embezzle from a charity, and he also is suspected of whacking, of all people, his mother.

Joe was an EMT and he used to brag to his wife that he knew how to mix a toxic cocktail that wouldn’t be suspected in his intended victims and apparently, the sheriff thinks there’s enough evidence to suspect him of his mother’s death.

via Joe Weeks’ mother’s body exhumed : This ain’t Hell, but you can see it from here.

The sheriff’s department in Kalamazoo, Michigan, thinks they’ve got a solid case against Weeks, including a near-confession made to his then-wife, and, well, the whole totality of his character, which is pretty lousy:

“According to Chelsea Weeks, Joseph Weeks had told her in December of 2012 that he had killed in the past and gotten away with it,” sheriff’s detectives said in a court petition. “During the course of their marriage, Joseph Weeks had told his wife Chelsea Weeks, on more than one occasion that he knew how to cook up his EMT meds and give them to someone by putting them in a person’s tea, coffee, or food and that the medication would put the person to sleep permanently.”

Sheriff’s investigators reported that Weeks admitted stealing drugs from his former employer where he worked as an EMT, but, they say, he denied giving them to his mother.

Weeks says that the embezzling and phony business is a fair cop, but he dindu nuffin to his mom:

Weeks said he believes that situation [stealing money from his charity, pretending to be something that he’s not] is part of why he’s under investigation now — in combination with a nasty divorce and being estranged from his brother.

“I made some enemies,” Weeks said.

He also denies stealing the drugs in the first place.

Dude, your problem is not your “enemies.” Look in the mirror… your first problem is that you can do that without shame.

This is what we say when someone asks why we are so furious about military impersonators. So this guy faked being an Air Force elite trooper — why should we care? Not our circus, not our monkey, right? Wrong. Military impersonation is a marker of deep-seated and threatening personality disorder that almost always manifests itself in multiple kinds of antisocial and criminal behavior.

Of course, the Supreme Court, nine superannuated Yarvard snobs who never had a minute for the military or anyone in it, don’t see that. As far as they’re concerned, losers like Weeks are just exercising their First Amendment rights.

Killing your mom, though, is not a form of expression those otherwise out-of-touch elders are willing to sanction.


To date, Joe hasn’t been charged with that, although he has been charged with embezzlement — because, he admits, he did;

Joseph Weeks pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement, felony embezzlement from a charity and felon in possession of a firearm.

Having been duly found guilty, he’ll be sentenced next month, and the killing Mom thing is still hanging over him. These are state charges so he isn’t facing the decade plus that Federal felon-in-possession charges would bring him. Our experience is that ATF and AUSAs are reluctant to bring those charges against real, actual, felons, preferring “test cases” with paperwork violators.

Of course, because the Supreme Court ruled that pretending to be a trooper — even if you’re Joe Weeks, doing it to scam people — is merely a First Amendment right, Joe Weeks will never face charges for being a military phony.

But in our experience, the guy is never just a military phony. Case in point.

Indian Government Supports Pirates, Jails Ship Guards

lewis-hanging-pirateThe BBC has a story of what happened when a ship of pirate guards operated by now-defunct Seaman Guard Ohio (their domain is now for sale by a squatter) strayed into Indian extended (200 mile) territorial waters: they were seized by an Indian coast guard vessel, forced into an Indian port, and there, charged with violating Indian gun laws.

They were quickly sentenced, found guilty, and given a fair trial, in about that order, and are spending the next half-decade as guests of the House-that-Jack-built state that is modern India.

In all, 35 sailors were on the American-owned Seaman Guard Ohio which offered armed protection to vessels sailing through an area known as “pirates’ alley” between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

Each received a five-year jail term and was ordered to pay 3,000 rupees (£30).

The BBC was most concerned about the half dozen Britons on board (and now in Indian nick), who are all ex-servicemen. They seem to be disproportionately Scotsmen, Yorkshiremen and maybe a Geordie or two.

Well, we know what the SNP would say. “See what playing with airguns will lead to, you lot?”

Customs officials and police found 35 guns, including semi-automatic weapons, and almost 6,000 rounds of ammunition on board the ship which did not have permission to be in Indian waters.

The Indians are extremely touchy about westerners around their peripheries, especially Britons, to whom they ascribe all kinds of neocolonial motives.

An Indian court ruled it was not properly licensed.

Translation: baksheesh not paid.

The men have consistently denied any wrongdoing and claim they have been abandoned by their American employers.

Analysis of that last sentence: true. No doubt creditors are looking for “their American employers,” too.

via India firearms charge ex-soldiers denied bail – BBC News.

You should never discount incompetence when dealing with any level of Indian government, but the Indians’ full-court-press against pirate defense, after decades of purest indifference to pirates in the Bay of Bengal and points east, suggests that the pirates may have been converting some of that ransom money into rupees, and distributing it appropriately around the subcontinent.