Monthly Archives: April 2012

Ever wonder why… the Coast Guard has guns on their ships?

Ryou-Un Maru (l.) engaged by 25mm fire from USCGC Anacapa (r.). Image: Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard doesn’t fire a lot of shots in anger these days, although there are times in its history that it has done so. (Coasties served in Vietnam on riverine and littoral craft, and crewed many of the landing craft that landed troops on D-day, but nowadays they mostly deal with maritime safety and navigation). Thing is, sometimes you need that gun even for the maritime-safety mission, and when you need it, you better have it.

From the AP story at Yahoo.com:

A U.S. Coast Guard cutter unleashed cannon fire on the abandoned 164-foot Ryou-Un Maru on Thursday, ending a journey that began when last year’s tsunami dislodged it and set it adrift across the Pacific Ocean.

It sank into waters more than 6,000 feet deep in the Gulf of Alaska, about 180 miles west of the southeast Alaska coast, the Coast Guard said.

The crew pummeled the ghost ship with high explosive ammunition, and the Ryou-Un Maru soon burst into flames, took on water and began listing, officials said.

via Coast Guard cannon fire sinks Japanese ghost ship – Yahoo! News.

More at the link, of course. The New York Post has its own story, as does the Christian Science Monitor, the Guardian (UK), and many other media sites. Most of them don’t name the weapons the USCG used to sink the derelict, which had been awaiting scrapping in Hokkaido, Japan when it was set adrift by the tsunami that struck norther Japan in March, 2011. Like the Flying Dutchman of legend, the Ryou-Un Maru crossed the Pacific under the observation of mariners and coast guardsmen, until it was clear it was drifting, at about one nautical mile an hour, into heavily trafficked sea lanes.

In fact, most of the news stories didn’t identify the Coast Guard units participating, but Weaponsman.com went direct to the Coast Guard on the matter, so we can tell you there was an (unarmed) HC-130 from Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak, and the USCGC Anacapa, WPB-1335, homeported in Petersburg, Alaska.

Mk38 Maritime Machine Cannon on a US Navy vessel.Same mount is used by the Coast Guard. Image: US Navy.

Anacapa is one of a class of 110-foot cutters, patrol boats really, named after coastal islands. It’s armed with a Mk38 25mm chain gun — the same “Bushmaster” chain gun that’s used in the Bradley IFV and the LAV-25, but in a maritime mounting — a Mk19 40mm automatic grenade launcher, and a number of M2HB .50 caliber machine guns and other small arms.

The captain made a training exercise out of the need to destroy the derelict Ryou-Un Maru, and the crew enthusiastically fired up the target… literally, as the API-T ammunition for the Chain Gun (so called because the bolt is driven by a chain) set fuel in the derelict’s bunkers afire. But the ship did not sink. The 25mm can be devastating against small, close-in threats, but it may not have been the right thing to sink an unmanned, unpowered, steel fishing boat.

Finally the 40mm was called on, and after a number of hits punctured its tired old hull, the long career of the Ryou-Un Maru came to an end and it slipped beneath the waves to rest eternally in 1000 feet of water.

March 2012 gun sales up 20% over March 2011

This was a record March, with nearly 1.2 million NICS checks.

There’s actually no such thing as a single, unified record of gun sales, but the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) provides a pretty decent proxy. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry’s trade group, tries to adjust the data by taking out some of the known confounders, like states that use the NICS for pistol-permit applications. (There’s nothing you can do about the fact that one NICS check can support the sale of multiple guns… that just gets recorded as one check).

So, the data has its limits, but it has those same limits today and every day back to the inauguration of the system in 2000 — meaning the data is comparable longitudinally over time to assess trends, even if the NICS checks don’t correspond one-to-one with gun sales.

You can’t always compare one month to the month immediately prior because gun sales show what an economist or MBA would call seasonality: guns sell like the blazes in November and December, for hunters and holiday gifts, and then the sales come in lower in January. So the best thing to do is compare year-over-year results to see if you can establish a trend: this March to last March, to Marches back to the introduction of the system in 2000.

And, whoa, what a trend it is. These two slides tell the story (click to enlarge each if you can’t read them). March is up 20% over last March, with about 1.2 million NICS checks, and the numbers show a steady march (no pun intended) to higher numbers. Every month for nearly two years has been up over the preceding-year’s numbers. In 2012, adjusted NICS checks are averaging well over a million a month.

The last 12 month compared with the prior years' counterparts. Images: NSSF

Here’s some details from the NSSF:

The March 2012 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 1,189,152 is an increase of 20.0 percent over the NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 990,840 in March 2011. For comparison, the unadjusted March 2012 NICS figure of 1,715,125 reflects a 19.3 percent increase from the unadjusted NICS figure of 1,437,709 in March 2011.

This marks the 22nd straight month that NSSF-adjusted NICS figures have increased when compared to the same period the previous year.

The adjusted NICS data were derived by subtracting out NICS purpose code permit checks used by several states such as Kentucky, Iowa and Michigan for CCW permit application checks as well as checks on active CCW permit databases.

via March 2012 NSSF-Adjusted NICS Background Checks Up 20.0 Percent.

This gibes with what gun shops and industry trade papers are reporting, and what the two publicly traded gun stocks (RGR and SWHC) have been doing over the last couple of years.

What did we just predict about Bout?

Bout promised arms including 100 modern man-portable air defense systems (here, SA-14 and -16 Igla missiles and launchers) to men he thought were terrorists.

This morning, we wrote:

Final prediction: we haven’t heard the last of Viktor Bout. The reaction in the Russian press is going to be patriotic to the point of jingoism, and outraged.

Well, that went about as expected.

Pravda’s initial reaction was muted, as you can see here, and looked on the bright side: Bout could be out in 18 years, best case! Pravda’s user forums were less calm. One poster presented a Rolling Stone article on a pair of clueless American gunrunners, and that was his cue to launch into antisemitic invective:

Jews deal in arms and ammunition and get away with it , but Victor Bout gets 25 Years for the same thing, and he is not even an American.

With millions stashed some place under a rock, little jews, will be out in no time selling guns to Taliban

The New York Times quotes a Russian parliamentarian as calling on President Obama to pardon Bout, and suggesting that a negative decision and the Bout case in general will sour US/Russian bilateral relations: “Unfortunately, Bout’s sentence along with other conflicts creates an unfavorable basis for a new stage of Russian-American relations.”

And we also said this:

Now that Bout has been sentenced, Russian reaction will be interesting to watch. The government could make a protest, or expel US intelligence officers under official cover from Russia, but is more likely to take a covert approach. An obvious move, which will certainly be considered in the Kremlin, would be to arrest, try and convict one or more Americans in Russia — for a Glienecker Bridge, Cold War style exchange.

What we didn’t predict was that, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did indeed criticize the verdict and sentence discreetly, for the time being he’s going to try to negotiate for Bout to serve his time in Russia — where his “confinement” won’t be the bleak cell in solitary he’s been in almost exclusively since snatched in 2008. But for now, no busts of spooks, although a Russian expert suggests that’s in the wings if the diplomatic approach fails to bring about Bout’s release. The LA Times:

Lavrov said during a visit to neighboring Kazakhstan that Russia will not be seeking revenge for Bout’s conviction and sentencing. “In any case, we intend to achieve his return to the motherland. In our relations with the United States, we have all the necessary legal instruments for this,” he said.

“Bout was a businessman involved in arms trafficking under control of the Russian special services and they will find a way to get back one of their own,” said Sergei Markov, vice president of Plekhanov University of Economics. “The U.S. special services understand that they need to resolve this sooner than later before their own spy and arms trafficker is snatched by Russians or perishes in a mysterious accident.”

via Russia wants ‘Merchant of Death’ Viktor Bout back – latimes.com.

The Foreign Ministry did release a statement calling the decision “baseless and biased” and implying that the Administration manipulated the court to condemn an innocent Bout. That statement is here (in Russian).

The New York Times also covered Russian reaction today, and noted:

Russia has vocally opposed every stage of Mr. Bout’s four-year legal drama, which began in March 2008 when agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration arrested him in Thailand. There, American agents had reportedly enticed him with an offer to buy millions of dollars worth of military equipment, including AK-47s, missiles, and ultralight airplanes, a deal to which he apparently agreed.

The Times’s Harvey Morris, quoting Bout approvingly (“If you are going to apply the same standards to me, then you are going to have to jail all those arms dealers in America”),  blames… American gun dealers and the National Rifle Association, and advocates a treaty that would bring American gun sales under UN control. Morris’s and the Times’s affinity for Bout extended to the Gulf News, which tracked down convicted British mercenary Simon Mann to get a sympathetic quote.

So once again, we can predict: we have not heard the last of Viktor Bout.

 

Will your best friend take a bullet for you?

Kilo in the "cone of shame," recovering well. Image: CBS2

He will if he’s a dog.

The FedEx man at Justin Becker’s Staten Island, New York door wasn’t a FedEx man. He was a robber — armed with a gun. Becker came to the door to get his “package,” and instead got an unpleasant surprise. CBS-2 quotes Becker:

“He barged in. My first reaction after seeing the gun is push him out, so I pushed him to the door. Like I said, he fell like wedged right by the door. I slammed him inside the door and he was stuck and tried to get out now because he was getting crushed,” Becker said.

His girlfriend has been holding the dog and let go.

via Pit Bull Shot In The Head Trying To Protect Owner, But Miraculously Survives « CBS New York.

The gunman sprayed bullets around, and onc connected with the white pit bull, Kilo — right in the head. And Kilo kept coming.

It must have been a pretty bad day for the robber, all told. He didn’t make his cash haul, he left a bunch of casings around that could get him in big trouble if the NYPD stumbles over him in their tireless search for tourists, and he got chewed up by a dog that shook his bullet off like a raindrop. It’s the kind of thing that happened to the inept junior Mafiosi in The Sopranos, which we always thought was fiction. If he’s a thinking man, he’s thinking about a career change right now. (Of course, if he were a thinking man, he’d probably have opted for some better-paying, lower-risk trade in the first place).

No word on whether New York’s nasty nanny Michael Bloomberg, who has expressed an interest in banning guns and pit bulls along with trans fats and various other things, is experiencing cognitive dissonance.

"The bullet is one thing, but did the vet have to shave me?" Image: CBS-2

Becker remains grateful to the dog who took a bullet for him. “He’s a hero. He saved my life. He went to protect me and he did his job,” Becker said.

And Kilo? He’s going to be fine fine. The bullet ricocheted off his hard skull (if you’ve ever had a pit, you know what we’re talking about) and down out his neck, and in a couple days he was back walking around the neighborhood with Becker. And he’s 12 years old — making him well into his golden years. “Incredibly lucky. Incredibly lucky,” veterinarian Dr. Greg Panarello said. Maybe you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but you probably shouldn’t  mess with him either.

So… is a pit bull a weapon? If you lived in New York City, he might be the best means of self-defense available to you.

There’s Already Thousands of Statues to Ché

Ché fires a Stechkin APS. The peculiar full-auto pistol increased the throughput of "revolutionary justice."

Ireland’s broke, following Greece down the drain of insolvency, but they’re still just liquid enough to plan to erect a statue to that greatest of Ireland’s diaspora — Ernesto “Ché” Guevara.

Now this will probably occasion in you the same reaction it did in us — initially a “Whaaa?”; next a “Lord love a duck”; and ultimately, perhaps, a bone-deep shudder of revulsion. Where you stop on the continuum depends on whether you are more gobsmacked that the Irish claim the soap-shy and trigger-happy Argentine as a countryman, or that anyone would erect a statue to him.

Let’s give Mr Microphone to one Darragh McManus of the Independent, a major Irish newspaper:

Galway City Council is considering a proposal to erect a statue in Che’s honour. There are direct family links to the area — Che’s great-grandfather was Lynch from near Claregalway; his father’s name was Ernesto Guevara Lynch.

Oh, well, that’s alright then. And you’re black, because you once stayed at a Holiday Inn Express and singer Billie Holiday was black. See how Irish journo logic works? His father’s mother’s father was an Irish rover, or reiver,  as rhe case may be; that makes him as Irish as red hair and unpalatable boiled food.  Now you probably feel bad about not kissing him on St. Paddy’s day. (It’s not like he’s entirely missing any more: they found the parts of him that are not in a drawer in Langley and reinterred them in Cuba about 15 years ago).

So what other ties to Ireland has Guevara?

He also visited Ireland in 1962. During a stopover in Shannon Airport Che toured Co Clare and met the young Jim Fitzpatrick, then a student working in a Kilkee hotel. He later flew to Dublin where he was interviewed by RTE; an Aer Lingus flight attendant translated.

Oh, my, it was practically the Great Man’s home away from home. Can McManus do any better than that?

These are presumably not the only reasons, though, Che’s allure is incredibly potent. He’s still seen by millions as a symbol of hope, a voice for the powerless, a brave and compassionate warrior-poet who gave his life for the people — and probably always will be.

My dear McManus, that is not a sign of the brilliance of Ché at all, but rather a billboard for the dullness of the millions. “A voice for the powerless?” For the love of God, read about his Congo or, especially, Bolivian campaigns. His companions and his local acolytes were not, as Communist mythology would have it, “the workers and the peasants,” but rather radical university professors and students (well, drop-outs and flunk-outs, mostly). And there were few of them — most of his “guerillas” were Cuban mercenaries. Everywhere they went they treated the actual peasants cruelly and stole from them. The peasants in Bolivia had little love for the military government, but cheerfully ratted out Ché’s revolutionary-army-turned-starving-foraging-party.

So what’s the next thing McManus says of Ché? “Brave.” Yes, there are many indicators of his bravery, like his bugging out on his men when they made contact with the Bolivian Army. Oh, wait, maybe not that. Well, there’s pleading for his life and begging to give information when captured, that’s pretty fearless… eh. Not really, is it? Well, there is his resigned acceptance when he realized the Bolivians were going to permanently improve South America, and the world, by shooting him. He did stop begging at that point. Brave? Well, remember, this is a newspaper guy’s idea of what bravery is, so he probably hasn’t seen the examples we have. We ought to cut him a little slack.

Then, “compassionate.” It’s true! Ché was so compassionate that he spared tens of thousands the sufferings and indignities of old age. By shooting them while they were young. These are not people who faced him in combat; Ché’s military prowess was such that they were mostly safe, and the Deliverer of the Peasants would be run to ground and given a crushing defeat, by a unit made up mostly of Quechua and Aymara peasant draftees who spoke the Spanish of their officers as a second language.  Ché, like all Marxists, was “compassionate” towards various theoretical classes of downtrodden, as abstractions. His interactions with real, breathing concrete instances of the downtrodden frequently left them no longer breathing, with him doing the downtreading.

And then McManus throws out “warrior-poet.” We thought the Irish had the gift of blarney — an ability to exploit words and use their connotation and denotation for best emotional effect. Not feeling it right now. We’ve already said a few words about Ché’s deficiencies as a warrior, and we’ll add a few more: he never won a contested fight; his career is a mixed bag of riding others’ coattails, or striking out on his own to disaster and defeat in detail. He wrote (or had ghostwritten, it’s not clear) a book on guerilla warfare which is at once both pedestrian pabulum, and sensible troop-leading advice cribbed from a thousand military manuals written by dry doctrine departments; he might still be alive if he had personally read his own book and taken it to heart. He’d probably be a professor in the Education department of some second-string university. But to call Ché a poet is to slander the composers of Hallmark cards and rest-stop graffiti. Guevara’s prose is dull and pedestrian, and it’s packed with more Marxist jive than a North Korean press release. Don’t take our word for it, go read some of his stuff. How about “The Cadres: Backbone of the Revolution“? What’s that? You’ll pass?

You realize that by not clicking there, you’re depriving your eyes of sentences like this:

We should say that a cadre person is an individual who has achieved sufficient political development to be able to interpret the extensive directives emanating from the central power, make them his, and convey them as orientation to the masses, a person who at the same time also perceives the signs manifested by the masses of their own desires and their innermost motivations.

Whew. One sentence, that. And not the longest. (It makes you understand where the meaning of the word in the sense of judicial confinement comes from… by the time you get to the end you’re ready to volunteer for Old Sparky just to make it stop). But if this stuff quickens your pulse and imbues you with revolutionary ardor, we hope you have time, for there’s plenty of it out there.

As a poet, then, Ché was, perhaps, a decent typist: in other words, functioning at pretty much the same level as he was as a warrior. Maybe that’s what McManus meant about Ché as a “warrior-poet”: he stank at both.

And then, the most rebarbative of McManus’s many ill-informed  sallies, this: “who gave his life for his people.” If you read the Bolivian Diaries and any of the mountain of contemporary sources, Ché did what he did not for some abstract class of “his people,” but for one person, himself. (And what made Congolese and Bolivian university radicals his people, and why should they be elevated over their countrymen?) But “he gave his life for his ego,” which has the benefit of being factual, won’t get that staue built in Galway.  Let’s see what else McManus has to say.

A certain “guerrilla chic” also clings to the man and his deeds, and though we may not like to admit it, that can be very attractive on some subconscious level.

via He’s the face that launched a thousand T-shirts, but was Che a villain or a hero? – Lifestyle – Independent.ie.

And here, we had no idea that Darragh even rolled that way. And, in the section of his essay that’s been pilloried by Stephen Green at PJM, Matt Welch at Reason, and elsewhere, he rolls into purest teencrush admiration. First he disposes of an inconvenient Ché quote:

Che declared, chillingly: “To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary. These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail… A revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate.”

Ane then he explains that, well, the end justifies the means.

However — and it’s a big however — we must assess these actions in context. It’s easy to retrospectively damn terrorist violence, unfortunately though, people rarely cede power voluntarily or solely on account of political agitation.

Or as Supervisory Special Agent Hope McAllister reportedly said, contemptuously dismissing as “collateral damage” the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry with guns she and her agency put in the killers’ hands: “You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.” (Like the Terry family, the Cubans are still waiting for the omelet. For 53 years).

Certainly not a vicious dictator like Batista, and the CIA spooks and corporate interests supporting him. But it’s amazing how quickly people will listen when you carry a big stick into negotiations. Violence, sadly, is often a necessary precursor to liberation.

Let’s take a bit of a time out here for some numbers. Being Iriah, and a newspaper guy, Darragh McManus is a word guy, innumerate as a stick of wood, but that doesn’t mean we have to be. “A vicious dictator like Batista” was so vicious that his police killed tens of people, and forced a hundred or two into exile. Cruel, huh? Ché shot a couple thousand himself, of the tens of thousands that the Cuban regime whacked (and is still whacking).

Yes, Che was ruthless and fanatical and sometimes murderous. But was he a murderer? No, not in the sense of a serial killer or gangland assassin. He was one of those rare people who are prepared to push past ethical constraints, even their own conscience, and bring about a greater good by doing terrible things.

Yeah. Let’s ask the parents of young Terry, shall we? Hope McAllister had him killed so she could advance a political goal of the incumbent President, and climb the career ladder of her organization, which promotes — much like Ché’s, now that you think about it — on political orthodoxy. She was just doing a greater good by doing terrible things. McManus makes it so clear!

Whether morally justifiable or not, there is something admirable in that — pure principle in a world of shabby compromise. Maybe this is why Che remains such an icon, both in image and idea.

“Admirable.” Lord love a duck. Words fail.

You do see, though, why Ireland exports glib wordsmiths, strong-back-and-weak-mind laborers, and drunks, but hasn’t ever claimed a science Nobel except for Ernest Walton (1951). And you see why the Irish for decades romanticized the bestial IRA terrorist group and its offshoots, whose goal of a society where Ché would be at home was thwarted primarily by their own incompetence and corruption.

So, this Irish project to memorialize Ché with a statue, whether it succeeds or fails, is the sort of boneheaded thing that has given the Irish a global reputation for thickheadedness. But if the project comes a cropper, Ché’s fans in Ireland and around the world have the comfort of knowing that there are plenty of statues that memorialize the impact Ché made on the world. Most of them are in the shape of a cross, and they are on the twenty thousand or more graves of Ché’s and his government’s victims.

A Bout 25 Years

Viktor Bout. If looks could kill.... Image: DEA.

No, that’s not a typo in the headline. The Bout in question is Viktor Bout, 45, a Russian arms dealer, the blue-eyed devil you see in the photo here. And there’s nothing approximate about 25 years — that’s the longest of three concurrent sentences that he was sentenced to Thursday, April 5, in federal court in New York.

Bout was snatched in Thailand on what he thought was a meeting with Colombian FARC terrorists. The terrorist customers never existed, but were American agents setting him up.

Bout claimed that he was only trying to sell two cargo planes; it was the feds who kept asking him for anti-aircraft missiles and trying to draw him into their (nonexistent) terrorist plots. His attorney angrily charged that the case was entrapment.

But a jury accepted the prosecution presentation of the case and convicted Bout on four counts. The prosecution demanded a life sentence, but judge Shira Scheindlin called their position “fundamentally unfair” and sentenced him to the minimum that she could under sentencing guidelines — which, given the limited parole in the  federal system, will still keep him in prison past retirement age.

The US agents lured Bout to Thailand for capture because in Russia, the government was covering him. Since his capture in 2008, Bout was held in solitary confinement until February.

The weapons in the case were only discussed, and never actually appeared. But they were reported to be Russian-made anti-aircraft weapons. The agents specifically asked Bout for anti-aircraft weapons, saying they wanted them to shoot down airliners.

An appeal in the case is a practical certainty. Now that Bout has been sentenced, Russian reaction will be interesting to watch. The government could make a protest, or expel US intelligence officers under official cover from Russia, but is more likely to take a covert approach. An obvious move, which will certainly be considered in the Kremlin, would be to arrest, try and convict one or more Americans in Russia — for a Glienecker Bridge, Cold War style exchange.

There are many stories on the Bout sentencing. Here are two:

Some details from the AP story:

The Russian — widely dubbed the “merchant of death” — was lured to Thailand and arrested there in 2008 at the end of a US sting operation that stretched from the Caribbean island of Curacao to central Europe.

Bout was eventually extradited to the United States and convicted in November on four counts of conspiring to sell missiles to terrorists and to kill US troops.

But his defense attorney has called the prosecution a “disgrace…” Bout was “targeted not for investigation, for this was not an investigation — it was a foregone conclusion,” attorney Albert Dayan wrote in a letter Wednesday to Scheindlin.

via Russian arms smuggler gets 25 years in US prison – Yahoo! News.

Final prediction: we haven’t heard the last of Viktor Bout. The reaction in the Russian press is going to be patriotic to the point of jingoism, and outraged.

Gun Court Scorecard

We suspect Brian Aitken didn't want to be a civil rights test case, but he has been. He's one more appeal from complete vindication... but he'll never be made whole. Image: NJ Corrections.

No, we haven’t all been “rounded up” to be taken to a Jamaica-style “gun court” — where civil liberties are suspended for those charged with “gun crimes,” and they never see the light of day again. Nope, these are American courts, and so many of them have been issuing verdicts in so many high-profile gun cases, that we’re giving capsule recaps on them here. And a couple of legislative changes by the ruling Democrats in New York sent pseudoscience to the showers, after over 10 years and well over $50 million wasted. That victory for rights was all the sweeter in that the people who repealed the law included many of its erstwhile supporters.

Let’s add up the W&L’s, scorecard style (thanks to Don Surber for the idea).

+1: Brian Aitken is a guy who did two stupid things: moved back to New Jersey, and trusted the New Jersey State Police for advice on how to handle his guns. Lock them in a box in your trunk, and you’re OK. Well, he wasn’t. He was seven years not-OK. The trial judge made a point of slamming him harder for having gone on TV complaining about the law. Governor Chris Christie refused to pardon Aitken, but did commute his sentence… and the young man sensibly moved to a freer state, Georgia. Now his attorney has won reversals on two of the three counts in a state appeals court. Either side or both could go to the state supreme court for another round, and Aitken’s lawyer thinks the remaining count can’t stand. He remains convicted of possession of hollow-point bullets. This nightmare could be yours, if you’re dumb enough to do business or attempt tourism in New Jersey, which never applies these draconian laws to the Mafia — they own the judges. FMI: NJ.comPhilly.com.

+2 Hot on the heels of the state Senate binning the microstamping bill (a corporate handout disguised as an anti-gun bill), Governor Cuomo signed a budget that eliminated the state’s costly and useless CoBIS (Combined Ballistic Identification System) boondoggle, which supporters called “ballistic DNA” and opponents pointed out had cost at least $40 million without helping to arrest a single criminal. (Maryland dx’d a similar system after a similar result, tens of millions down the rathole, zero cases solved). The technicians will be retrained to work on something that actually does both solve crimes and protect the rights of innocent accused: actual DNA.  FMI: NRA Press Release. Gun Politics New York blog.

-1 The Federal District court for the Southern District of Illinois has upheld Illinois’ unique-in-the-nation absolute ban on any form of legal carry. If upheld on appeal, this judgment will be at odds with other districts. At the link, Professor Eugene Volokh explains why he thinks this anti-rights decision was bad as a matter of law, not just outcome.

-1 A Federal judge in the Southern District of New York State has ruled that there’s no limit to what New York City can charge for a pistol permit. The charge is currently $340, more than the cost of many pistols. The judge was appointed by President Clinton. FMI: Wall Street Journal.

+1 And in NC, a law providing for the confiscation of firearms in an emergency — something Federal court cases have already ruled a no-no in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the abysmal response of what may still be the nation’s worst police force, New Orleans — got spanked out of court. An appeal seems unlikely, so this is probably settled law for NC. Hat tip: Jeff Soyer.

+1 In MA, a Federal judge overturned a ban on ownership of guns by legal immigrants. Many cities in the state are “sanctuaries,” and illegal aliens who commit violent crimes with guns are seldom if ever charged with violating the state’s strict and capriciously-enforced gun laws.

Total: +3. Or as Lenin would have said, “You say you want a revolution, well you know, we all want to change the world.” Civil rights marches on. Oh wait, that was Lennon. On, in, got our prepositions twisted,whatever. Lenin said, “Two steps forward, one step back.” The civil rights revolution is on the march through our institutions. And we can quote any of a number of dead revolutionaries in support.

 

 

“Responsible Reset” = Army spin for “wasteful bug-out”

Acres of HMMWVs need to be cleaned,repaired, and sent home to a smaller Army -- or scrapped. Click to expand. Army photo.

The military is the most efficient activity of the Federal government. So, any can tell you in a tirade larded — pun intended — with examples, it only wastes about 70% of its money.

Responsible Reset Task Force, come on down.

The RRTF is, pace the Washington Times, charged with triaging the thousands of vehicles that Big Green dragged along to the desert. Some vehicles and mobile weapons (Tanks, APCs, SP Artillery, etc) will come home as the craven bug-out brilliant retrograde operation contiuues. Those that are useful to the kinder, gentler and much smaller Army envisioned in the President’s and SecDef’s budget proposals get refurbished and shipped home. Those that might have utility in a future Mid-East scenario will get refurbed and mothballed in situ. And those that would cost more to move than the Army feels like spending get scrapped in place.

This may irritate people who consider the millions upon millions we spent on these vehicles, which will now go to China as scrap metal — or to form a Han version of the Btandenberg Division for future use, pick one), but there’s real business sense behind it. Compared to the future cost stream of maintaining mothballed vehicles, and the immediate cost of moving them, past costs are “sunk costs” and have no impact on future budgets. In other words, the money’s already wasted, so the objective at this point is not to waste more.

The Army is responsible for about 15,000 vehicles at four U.S. military bases in Kuwait, some with a dozen lots. About 9,000 vehicles will stay with the U.S. forces in Kuwait, but up to 6,000 will be shipped home, Col. Carra said.

They include Humvees, trucks, trailers, cranes, bulldozers, tanks, personnel carriers and howitzers. One Humvee can cost more than $1 million, and a tank, a couple of million.

“I’m sure it’s over a billion dollars,” Col. Carra [former RRTF operations officer] said of the value of the military vehicles in Kuwait.

The Army wants its howitzers back. Clean. And green; the brass are anxious to forget the deserts. Army photo.

One thing they do — emphasis added — is reminiscent of an aspect of the Vietnam War bug-out drawdown:

Before a vehicle can come stateside, it needs to stripped of extra equipment, washed, sterilized and brought to a port. It will spend more than a month at sea before arriving in the United States. Roughly 5,000 vehicles that came out of Iraq are now en route to the United States.

via Army overwhelmed by massive lots of waiting vehicles – Washington Times.

In Vietnam, the Army discovered that the standard M59 and M113 APCs were death-traps that couldn’t defend themselves against enemy dismounted infantry, armed with the RPG rocket-grenade launcher. This led to development of the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle in due course, but in Vietnam it produced a locally-developed kit that protected the track commander and his .50 MG, and added two armor-shielded light machine guns on the flanks of the track. As part of its deliberately self-inflicted institutional amnesia about the  Vietnam war, those ACAV kits were ruthlessly stripped off the Army’s M113s, and for 20 more years troops prepared to go to war in the crummy, defenseless vehicles, the inadequacies of which were exposed in 1962 already.

That last quoted example makes it clear that the successful improvisations and all memory of them are destined for the same physical and informational knacker’s yard, as the conventional Army returns to its usual peacetime rhythms and “prepares” to be caught utterly unprepared for the next war.

Meanwhile, if anyone wants some used military vehicles, some hastily cut-off combat improvements to same, and the reputation of the Army, maybe RRTF will be putting them up on ebay Motors.

Holy $#!+, someone’s still reading Paul Helinski

That someone is No Lawyers – Only Guns and Money’s John Richardson. And he’s only reading to see if Helinski’s still screwing up.

You may remember that GunsAmerica broke the news embargo on the release of the Ruger LCR-22 by announcing it earlier than allowed back in December. You also may remember that the head of GunsAmerica, Paul Helinski, objected to bloggers and other members of New Media being considered “media” at the SHOT Show and having access to Media Day.

For the record, Helinski didn’t screw this one up. Maybe Ruger’s not reading him, either, and didn’t send him the PR on their new takedown version of the 10-22. Or maybe they spanked him enough that he learned his lesson. Richardson continues:

I checked GunsAmerica earlier today and I guess they learned their lesson about breaking news embargoes.

via No Lawyers – Only Guns and Money.

It’ll take more than that to get us to ever read his crap again.

By the way, GunsAmerica keeps spamming us with their unwanted newsletter, despite an unsubscribe previously documented in these pages. (And it was spam to begin with, as we never subscribed to it in the first place!) Just the sort of no-class act you expect from a no-class outfit run by a no-class act like Paul Helinski. So we delete it unread, and every once in a while will probably make another futile attempt to unsubscribe from the weasel’s spewage.

To end on a positive note (which means, talking about something other than Helinski), the new takedown 10-22 looks really cool, if you’re into stainless steel and black plastic. Here’s a picture:

Ruger 10/22 takedown. Click to embiggen. It looks slick in videos we've seen. Image: Ruger.

When they make a wood-and-blued one, sign us up. (While we’re digressing into 10-22 stuff, let’s have a digression inside the digression to ask, why doesn’t someone repop the great Fed Ord underfolder stock?)

WaPo still stands by fabricated Jessica Lynch story

American University professor Joseph Campbell continues to fight his lonely fight to make a couple of reporters at the Washington Post, and/or their editors, come clean. He’s been fighting for nine years, since the Post ran a fabricated story about US Army maintenance-unit soldier PFC Jessica Lynch. Campbell:

Nine years on, it’s time for the Post to disclose just who it was that led it astray. It’s time to reveal the sources on the bogus story about Lynch.

via Why WaPo should reveal sources on bogus Jessica Lynch tale « Media Myth Alert.

Personally, we do not believe Campbell will have any success. He thinks he will because he believes the reporters that they were misled by a dishonest source  (whose identity they continue to protect, and whose fabricated “scoops” they still use?). We think he will not because we believe that it was the Post reporters (Susan Schmidt, Vernon Loeb, and Dana Priest) who fabricated the story. They can’t name their source because there is no source.

Let’s let Campbell set the stage a bit.

Today is the ninth anniversary of the Washington Post‘s stunningly wrong hero-warrior tale about Jessica Lynch, a botched report published on its front page beneath the headline:

“She was fighting to the death“

Lynch, then a 19-year-old Army supply clerk, had fought fiercely in the attack of her unit in Nasiriyah, in southern Iraq, according to the Post, which cited anonymous “U.S. officials” as its sources.

One of them told the Post that Lynch had suffered gunshot and stab wounds “and watched several other soldiers in her unit die around her” in the ambush March 23, 2003.

It was electrifying stuff and the Post’s report was picked up by news organizations around the world.

But it was wrong in all important details. Lynch was neither shot nor stabbed. She did not fire a shot in the ambush….

Take the time and read the whole thing. If nothing else, you’ll understand Professor Campbell’s lonely crusade for the truth about this miserable story that continues to influence people, despite being, as he puts it, “wrong in all important details.”

Here’s another paper’s edit of the story; the Post’s own has been shuffled off in shame, rather than openly corrected.

Note that, in Jayson Blair style, the small army of Post reporters didn’t get a single person on record: the sourcing consists of anonymous (nonexiststent?) “officials” and “officers,” and details lifted from various TV reports and other journalists who were, unlike the Post reporters 8,000 miles away, downrange.

Loeb has since admitted that no Pentagon or DOD sources were used for the story, which makes the attributions (“officers?”) doubly suspicious. Meanwhile, Dana Priest, one of the other reporters, insists that the Army fabricated the story, but refuses to name who in the Army.

Priest has a history of military reporting… about like Jayson Blair’s and Stephen Glass’s history of reporting, period. She was telling Amazon Woman tales — which were bogus — a decade before Lynch. We have always suspected that it was Dana Priest that fabricated that tale, and then made up a nonexistent source. Priest, of course, has gone on to a Pulitzer (which would impress anyone who doesn’t know the history of the prize… it means she’s on an ethical par with Walter Duranty). She has a major rice bowl to protect. She will never give up her source.

She can’t. There is no source.

But the Post still stands behind her, Schmidt, and Loeb for one of the most lasting fabrications in the history of the press — yellow or otherwise. This irritates Professor Campbell, because, bless him, he thinks that should do better. We have learned not to expect honesty from the media, so the only surprise here is that a full Professor of Communications continues his lonely, and so far fruitless, pursuit of the truth.

Professor Campbell’s book Getting it Wrong: Ten of the Greatest Misreported Stories in American Journalism, published in 2010, has much more information on the Lynch story, and several other persistent media myths. His blog Media Myth Alert provides regular updates on these stories, and provocative analysis of new and emerging media myths. (We’d also recommend Stolen Valor by Burkett and Whitley and The Big Story by Braestrup for isights to Vietnam media myths in particular).

The truth is somewhere between Campbell’s idealistic hope that the news media will suddenly start Getting it Right, and our cynical belief that you can tell they’re lying: when their lips are moving.