Monthly Archives: April 2013

“C110” explained

SFCrestGreenThere’s a lot of nonsense going around the Intertubes today about a super eeee-leeet unit, “C110.” That’s not the prototype of the Mercedes-Benz C111, and it’s not the way-more-powerful update of C4. Supposedly, it’s the Special Forces unit that could have reinforced or rescued the cut-off Americans in the Benghazi consulate, if anybody at the State Department or in the NCA had cared a jot.

Here’s an example at Breitbart and another based on it at Hot Air, based on the a Fox News report. (Warning: both contain loud autoplay malware/adware, try Fox’s own version; it has the same garbage, but loads slowly enough you can read it before the crapware begins).

OK, listen up, blogosphere. That’s Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group. (C 1/10, pronounced “see one ten.”) It has also been since circa 1984 the Commander’s In-extremis Force (CIF, pronounced “sif”) for Special Operations Command Europe, the theater SOC for the European Command. While there is a separate Africa Command, the North African and other Mediterranean littoral states belong to EuCom. The unit that stands by to rescue hostages and conduct similar high-priority missions, should action be required before national JSOC assets can arrive from their secret North Pole (or somewhere) lair, is the CIF. (Note that it’s “in-extremis force,” not “and extremis force,” which makes no sense but still made it into Fox News’s transcript).

Anonymous sources claimed to be SF speak to the effect that the CIF was available as a reaction force to Benghazi, but was never called and continued a routine training evolution. We can’t address that, but we can tell you what the media types are trying, and failing, to say, terminologically speaking.

Ruger shares inflated, deflated on erroneous Reuters report

Ruger LogoIt was a subtle thing. But a false number in a Reuters report that was published Monday night may have caused Sturm, Ruger shares (RGR on the New York Stock Exchange) to soar in aftermarket trading — only to deflate when the error was corrected at midmorning today, long after the market opened.

Screen shot 2013-04-30 at 11.24.52 AMThe initial version of the story was very different both in structure and in detail from the corrected version. But the key problem was these lines (which were not juxtaposed in the orginal, but had non-pertinent information in between them). The first story was timestamped “Mon Apr 29, 2013 6:43pm EDT”:

Net income rose to $23.7 million, or $1.20 per share, in the quarter ended March 30, from $15.5 million, or 79 cents per share, a year ago.

Analysts on average expected a profit of $1.01 per share on revenue of $112.3 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The first line, above, was correct; the second, not. The corrected version led off with the correction, inserted a series of bullet points (interjecting another error), and corrected those analyst expectation numbers. This story was timestamped “Tue Apr 30, 2013 10:11am EDT”:

Net income rose to $23.7 million, or $1.20 per share, in the quarter ended March 30, from $15.5 million, or 79 cents per share, a year ago.

Analysts on average expected a profit of $1.01 per share on revenue of $131.7 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The irony is that the correction didn’t change the profit expectation, the really important thing, but the revenue prediction. Current revenues were stated correctly in both stories: $155.9 million. Using the correct prediction ($131.7m), though, made the revenue bump over expectations an excellent 18%, rather that the erroneous prediction’s ($112.3) astronomical 39%.

The significance of using the correct the analyst expectation is this: the market runs on information. It is generally assumed by market participants and analysts that it is an efficient market, and that all current information, including the state of current expert expectations, is priced in. A major divergence from analyst estimates means that the expert expectations were not priced correctly, and usually produces movement in the stock.

The Ruger filings and this story drove the stock from $49.05 at closing to as high as $52.34, a jump of 7%. Profit taking — and the correction — dropped the stock back to $50.30 by midday; by 1300 (time of this report) the solid fundamentals seemed to be sinking in, as the quote had risen to $51.37. But the reasons behind the fluctuation are uncertain; it’s very difficult to tease out the degree to which each factor drove the stock up and down, and it could close higher — or lower.

The Gun Wire was one of many innocent aggregators to pick up the early, misleading Reuters Ruger story.

The Gun Wire was one of many innocent aggregators to pick up the early, misleading Reuters Ruger story.

The erroneous Reuters Ruger story was featured at Google News, by financial news sites such as Yahoo Finance’s Ruger page, and by the influential gun-news aggregator The Gun Wire.

The correct information about Ruger was always available in Ruger’s April 29 SEC filings, but few people other than investment analysts read these filings, the 8-K (Results of Operations and Financial Condition) and 10-Q (Quarterly Report) forms. But the error came in information from outside the company’s release: analyst estimates collected by Reuters themselves.

An interesting fact in the press releases accompanying the reports that Reuters chose not to highlight was that over half a million Ruger firearms were sold by Ruger distributors to retailers in the first quarter of calendar 2013. (514,200 to be pedantic; Ruger doesn’t track sales to individuals). They also didn’t mention Ruger’s backlog of 9 months’ production, 1.5 million guns on order from Ruger distributors, who are not stockpiling the guns — they’re being moved right along into retail channels.

An interesting fact that Ruger did mention in the press release, and Reuters and other picked up, is that Ruger says that 35% of its sales are new products, including the LC380 and SR45 pistols which began shipping in Q1 (perhaps also the 10/22 takedown, but they don’t mention that). This demand for novel products hints that Ruger’s growth isn’t just because of the current superheated buying climate.

How did the error happen? The Reuters reporter mostly likely made a simple error — easy to do when you’re juggling large quantities of soulless numbers, particularly when you’re doing it in a second language (the reporters and editors on the original story were in India). That’s much more likely than any kind of subtle pump and dump scheme — certainly the sellers at opening, when the stock was bubbled-up at 52 plus, did well. But the stockholders who hung on to RGR may be bigger winners in the long term.  The fundamentals of the firm remain solid, and even when the current tsunami of gun-control hysteria recedes, as it must, it will leave behind hundreds of thousands of new gun owners and shooters created in these last few months, and hundreds of thousands of “dormant” ones who reentered the firearms market recently.

The correction itself was done properly, with a highly visible comment at the head of the story explaining exactly what was corrected, and what the erroneous information had been. But the report was more extensively rewritten than the correction suggested. (It also introduced a new error — either the 7% or 8% stock increase claim can be true, but not both!) Maybe a couple of reporters need to be transferred to the fashion beat?

Adieu, mes Generals…

exitExit, stage left: Max Boot, who has the perfect name for writing about infantrymen, has an engaging piece at Commentary on how the four most celebrated talented generals in the GWOT recently have followed some of the earlier ones he does not mention (Franks, for example) into the sunset. The last of his four, Marine General Jim Mattis, isn’t quite gone, but he’s standing in the door. Geronimo!

Some of these guys were undone by personal scandals of a trivial sort. Petraeus couldn’t keep his trousers zipped, and McChrystal unwisely gave a reporter access to his staff; the reporter, predictably, betrayed him for a juicier headline. (You can’t blame the reporter for that, really. Item 1: A snake will always bite; that’s the nature of a snake. Item 2: If you’re self-confident enough to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Juggling Snakes, see Item 1). Allen and Mattis? Well, the administration, which doesn’t like the military much, really doesn’t like successful military men, and undermined them at every turn. (It did to the other pair as well, but they gave the administration ammunition). Mattis in particular was resented for leading the Marines as if he had Marine values — as if there was something wrong with that. Boot:

4-star general rankPetraeus, McChrystal, Allen, and Mattis would be the first to deny that they are irreplaceable—the graveyards, they would no doubt remind us, are said to be full of irreplaceable men. And clearly there are a number of capable officers who will strive to fill their combat boots. Some heroes of the last decade of war—including General Ray Odierno, General Martin Dempsey (chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), Admiral William McRaven (McChrystal’s successor at JSOC and the man who oversaw the Osama bin Laden raid), and Major General H.R. McMaster (a noted military intellectual and counterinsurgency commander)—remain in uniform.

But the experience and savvy of the four will be hard to replace. Certainly they deserve more public appreciation than they have gotten so far and, at the very least, an honored role in helping to teach a new generation of soldiers and Marines how to operate at the pinnacle of command. We do not have such a surplus of brilliant commanders that we can afford to wave away those like Petraeus and McChrystal and Allen and Mattis, who have demonstrated a mastery of the modern battlefield. We can only hope that President Obama’s cavalier attitude toward the loss of their institutional knowledge, their leadership abilities, and their complex understanding of a dangerous world does not prove to be a tragedy for the nation.

Need we advise you to  «Read The Whole Thing™? Or had you already decided to do that? We’ll be here when you come back.

We don’t share Boot’s (or McMaster’s own, for that matter) degree of being impressed with McMaster. Mattis and McChrystal have probably forgotten more about COIN than that publicity hound has ever learnt. But he is talented, even though a bit of a self-promoter. And every corporal and up knows how to handle a “Spotlight Ranger”: keep the spotlight on him, but spread the kudos around enough to ensure his peers don’t get resentful; you’ll get credit for the great things he does, while his personality deficiencies will be his alone. Of course, no one in the NCA, except Chuck Hagel knows this. He’s the only one who’s actually been a corporal, the rest of them lack that character-forging resumé line.

The other guys he mentions vary in quality. Dempsey, for example, is a politician in uniform; while his bosses may curl their toes happily at his sucking-up, his troops wouldn’t cross the street to urinate on him if he were on fire. Odierno has politician tendencies, but in person we found him impressive on several levels. McRaven is the real deal, a good leader for a moral country in a hard world. They are all probably famous enough that the White House resents and will, in time, undermine them, unless they can hang on until the next guy, who will not be so vain and vindictive, whoever he is and whatever party he comes from (or “she” for that matter).

There are many other generals further downlist who bring similar courage, fidelity, and dedication to their tasks. We hesitate to name names, lest we plant targets on their backs. We, as a nation, have always found talented officers, in bad years and under bad Presidents as well as good ones. Some of the best ones “bubble under” at the O-6 (Colonel/Navy Captain) level, but there’s an incredible amount of talent there.

Indeed, the “up-or-out” rule embedded in DOPMA and ROPMA, sucked into the military from 1920s corporate practice — think Durant’s GM — ensures that the path to high rank is an elimination tournament and the Army and other services shed incredible talent at every level.

What do you do when your shotgun’s too big?

Villain of the piece: the cramped OHP Charger

Villain of the piece: the cramped OHP Charger.

If you’re the Ohio Highway Patrol, you buy new shotguns. The Dayton Daily News has the full story, which we’ll trim down to the facts. The OHP ran into a problem when they were forced to change from the discontinued Crown Victoria to the cramped Dodge Charger. (Having been stuck with a supposedly upscale-trimmed rental Charger that had an interior like a police car, we shudder to think what the interiors of the actual cop cars are like). The problem: their 20″ barreled Remington 870s wouldn’t fit. From the point of view of a normal riot shotgun, this thing is a Shriner’s clown car.

Arriving to save the day: 14" 870s.

Arriving to save the day: 14″ 870s that can be crammed into the clown cars, unlike the old 20″ guns.

The answer: because they’re a government agency, they don’t have to save money and saw off the barrels, they can buy all new 14″ NFA 870s on the taxpayer’s dime: 1,483 of them for a total of $645,011. They got $187 each for about 1,000 of the old 870s, which have already been sold off, despite the OHP claiming that that were worn out at 10-15 years old (what? They’ve been riding around in cop cars for 10 years and probably have under 100 rounds through each one, but they’re worn out?). Seriously, OHP spokesman Lt. Anne Ralston said that the old guns were a menace to “officer safety.”

They paid about $23k each for the Chargers. The Ohio taxpayers must have bottomless pockets.

The OH Investigative Unit got into the act, too, dumping its “worn out” 12-year-old Mossbergs for Remingtons with an attached light. The OIU is essentially the vice squad, chasing gamblers, pimps and food stamp fraudsters. And these two paragraphs about them teach us one thing, although it’s not about the OIU: reporters, and their editors, are functionally innumerate.

The state is also spending $98,980 for 110 shotguns for the Ohio Investigative Unit, which handles complaints and warrants involving liquor control, food stamp benefits, gambling and human trafficking.

Those Remington 870s were more expensive than the patrol’s — $1,043 each — because they need additional features such as lights for officers who often do their work in dark places, Andrews said.

Let’s run the numbers, shall we? 110 x $1,043.00 = 114,730. That can’t be right! 98,980/110 =  $899.82. Hmmm… that isn’t what the article says, either. There’s only one possible conclusion: Lynn Hulsey of the Dayton Daily News = 4th Grade arithmetic FAILure. (Sure, it’s possible that Andrews gave Hulsey bogus numbers, but Hulsey went ahead and printed them).

The Lost Lesson of Recent Terrorism

classic_time_bomb3For years, everyone speculated about what would happen if something like the Bombay Attacks happened here. All kinds of carnage were suggested.

Well, we’ve just had two roughly analogous attacks in 2013. How did Creepy Chris Dorner and the Jihad Brothers do, relative to Bombay?

Dorner was a lone wolf, but he was a well-armed lone wolf, better trained in marksmanship than most of his former LE peers, and armed with a suite of weapons. His shooting spree killed not hundreds, not dozens, but four people. (Three more civilians would have died but were saved by cops’ terrible marksmanship, despite being targeted by an average 80 rounds each at point-blank range).

Speedbump and Flashbang, the Jihad Twins, likewise managed to kill four people, despite using three bombs, an unknown quantity of guns, and calling on mighty Allah for aid. Like Dorner, they used a certain limited amount of stealth and animal cunning, and like him, they were quickly run to ground (in Speedbump’s case, literally) by a coordinated police response and an alert public. They also were the beneficiaries of awful cop marksmanship, with relatively few hits for hundreds and hundreds of rounds hastily addressed “to whom it may concern.” (At least they were hit. Dorner never was; his sole wound was his self-inflicted head shot). In Boston, too, two non-terrorists were saved only by police marksmanship when a number of confused cops mag-dumped a marked State Police SUV, and there was at least one single-shot negligent discharge among the assembled throngs of lawmen.

Terrorist Ajmal Kasab, in the former Victoria Station. Hung November, 2012.

Terrorist Ajmal Kasab, in the former Victoria Station. Hung November, 2012.

But compare this to Bombay in November, 2008, where 166 people were killed, including 15 policemen and 2 elite NSG commandos, and almost 300 wounded. There, of course, there were more shooters — ten, in five teams — and the attack was well organized, with the cooperation of an organized terror group, Lashkar-e Taiba, and LET’s national sponsor, Pakistan’s national intelligence agency, ISI. (Pakistan still has brought no one to justice, and won’t; their “Anti-terrorism Court No. 1” is running out the clock still. Conversely, India has rededicated itself to the death penalty and has been merrily condemning and hanging Islamic terrorists and mass murderers recently, including the sole survivor of the Bombay shooters, Mohammed Ajmal “Kasab”). An organizer of the attack was extradited from Saudi Arabia (!) to India last summer; it will take several years for his case to make its way through India’s courts.

Taking into account the shock effect of the multiple attacks, the superior small arms, and the probably superior training of the Pakistani terrorists, the Indian results are about four to eight times worse than the American ones — roughly 17 victims per shooter compared to two or four.

Despite the fact that India was under steady attack from foreign terrorists, the Indian security services were ill-prepared for an attack of this nature. As bad as American police marksmanship training is, at least American police are armed with adequate weapons (once mobilized, superior weapons to the terrorists) and provided with ammunition. Some Indian police carry bolt-action rifles or even single-shot shotguns, with ammunition counts in the single digits. Cops like that died on November 26, 2008 when they came up against determined AK-armed shooters. The NSG was a single unit for the vast country, and had to be mobilized and brought in (once they were on scene, they quickly reduced the remaining concentrations of terrorists and freed hundreds of hostages).

The Indians were not lacking in valor — both NSG commandos and ordinary cops ran towards the gunfire, as soon as they could — but were deficient in equipment, training, numbers, and coordination.

Indians are as smart as any people on Earth, and they took these lessons to heart: the state government of Maharastha bought the police boats and copters to patrol the coastline, and established a state-wide CT element, Force One; all police agencies upgraded their guns and their training, which benefits day-to-day crimefighting as well as CT potential; NSG established four regional bases, putting its operators closer to possible missions; and a nationwide investigative agency with both crime and terrorism beats, much like the FBI, was stood up.

All those were already in place in the USA, so the butcher’s bill of our jihadis was much lower. So that’s the lost lesson of the Dorner and Flashbang/Speedbump attacks: the USA is a pretty hard target, even deep inside the Boston Victim Disarmament Zone.

So another lesson learned, for terrorists: you get one shot at a novel attack like this. Next time, we’re ready for you.

One last comment on India: the government didn’t want the nine deceased shooters’ graves to become points of pilgrimage for other radicals, and Indian moslem imams didn’t want them in their cemeteries, either. The Toronto Star retells the story in an article on the Boston bombers (albeit with numbers a little off):

After the Mumbai attacks in 2008, which killed 164 people, including nine gunmen, the Indian government considered burying the bodies of the attackers in a Muslim graveyard in the city. However, religious leaders vehemently opposed the use of their cemetery. The government was forced to hold on to the bodies. When they began to rot, officials launched a secret operation to bury the bodies in the outskirts of the city, away from the media glare. The government informed the public of the burial two days later.

The executed jihadi, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, was interred inside the jail where in which he was hanged.

There is an exception to the general futility of US terror attacks: Nidal Hasan’s attack at Fort Hood, Texas. Jihad solo practitioner Hasan knew he had a disarmed target set, because of the gun-control practiced by military provost marshals; he practiced with weapons for his planned attack; and applying these Bombay-like factors, he achieved near-Bombay levels of per-terrorist killing (13 dead, 32 wounded) before far-off police arrived to stop him. Hasan’s error in choice of weapon saved a lot of those wounded from death: he used an FN Five-seveN pistol, which makes small wounds.

Likewise, some criminal shooters’ have had successes more like the Bombay terrorists, by applying similar factors, particularly on target selection: contained, disarmed, undefended targets. So the lesson learned there seems to be: harden and arm such targets.

Running guns to Canada

The Canadian border police bagged this Glock, BHP and Ruger from a single would-be smuggler. Big to enclicken!

The Canadian border police bagged this Glock, BHP and Ruger from a single would-be smuggler. Big to enclicken!

Canada, which all but bans handguns, has a handgun crime problem. (Unpossible! But true). So one thing they’re doing is, while never being quite as unpleasant to ordinary travelers as the US Customs and Border Patrol is to those going the other way, cracking down on people they suspect might be running guns.

Like the lady they bagged with these three handguns (and two spare mags, which are separate felony charges in the land that sees itself as evolved and nonviolent, but produces about 100% of hockey high-sticking “enforcers.”

One interesting thing is that the three guns here are not the usual criminal junk, but a compact Glock, a Browning Hi-Power in good condition, and a Ruger 9mm. One would think these guns might bring a premium on the black market, or they might just be what the smuggler could get her hands on (or her organization could, because it’s highly unlikely she’s working solo on this).

Of course, where something is widely available on one side of a border and contraband across it, price differentials are commanded to arise by the law of supply and demand, and border-crossing arbitrageurs are certain to appear. The Canadians’ answer to the problem is for the USA to adopt Canada’s laws, including absence of 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Amendment protections for the citizen. We might disagree and even suggest another approach, but Canadians as a whole are not very interested in what we think. They’re rather proud of the fact that they’re a separate country, despite the wide swathes of stone stupid Americans who don’t know that fact, and resentful of the impact of America’s much larger, dominant culture on their own.

A .25 Ortgies bought illegally by Star reporters with ATF's blessing.

A .25 Ortgies bought illegally by Star reporters with ATF’s blessing.

There is an ongoing study in the Toronto Star of gun smuggling, including an undercover buy by Star reporters Jayme Poisson, David Bruser and photog Pawel Duwit; an American felony which has been blessed by the BATFE. ATF Special Agent Mark Jackson assisted the lawbreaking reporters as part of ATF’s ongoing lobbying effort for Canadian-like laws in the USA. (459 of the 757 guns traced in Ontario in 2011 traced to the USA. The other 298 were presumably of Canadian or third-country origin. An additional 142 guns were not traced, the Star says because of old age or missing serials, but some may have had suspected Canadian origin as well). This 90-year-old, pitted Ortgies would probably also have been untraceable.

Poisson and David Bruser of the Star note that a $200 gun in the USA is a $2000 gun to Toronto criminals. Toronto cops seize 2-3 guns a day from criminals. The reporters, with the cooperation of the ATF’s investigative resources, traced a number of guns to purchases or thefts in the USA, and in one case called up the theft victim, abusing him on the phone and blaming him for a Toronto schoolyard shooting.

Canada’s Border Services Agency routinely seizes firearms (here are some examples from January) and arrests the owners, who may wind up in Canadian prison for the next three years. They have a toll-free snictch line for informers to turn in gun owners. They have procedures for firearms import (an awful lot of Americans go hunting in the less gun-shy Canadian West) and allow free importation of black-powder antiques and replicas.  But a description of controlled and prohibited weaponry is daunting, and describes a large quantity of what we have here in the armory, not to mention normal martial arts gimmicks, as “prohibited”. Nunchaku, a prohibited weapon? Blowguns? Yes, in Canada.

There’s even a provision for disarming the bodyguards of foreign heads of state in some circumstances. Because, after all, there are no handguns in Canada.

Bottom line: if you’re a gun guy, you’re not wanted in Canada, Eh. But you can definitely whack people with a hockey stick!

Sunday of the full moon

OK, slightly past, but have you any idea how hard it is coming up with clever things to say about Sunday (that’s why so many of them are less that clever).

Apologies for the dry blog Saturday, we’re experiencing WordPress faults. We have a work-around up now (obviously).

Here’s a quiz for you on the Second Amendment

question markThe flamboyantly anti-gun and anti-legal-gun-owner Christian Science Monitor, the web site that was once a newspaper back when it first strapped on its anti-gun spurs in the mid-1960s, is running a rather tricky and slightly tendentious quiz (only slightly, because it certainly is closer to the middle of the road than the usual CSM article on the subject, and it primarily deals in factual questions with right or wrong answers). The title is “How much do you know on the topic of the Second Amendment?” but it’s really more, “How much do you know about the current state of Second Amendment law?”

We naturally ran the table, 15 for 15. Have at it. We’ll reproduce the questions, but not the answers and multiple-choice distractors, below. Go to the site to get scored!

  1. Which right is protected by the Second Amendment?
  2. Which is the correct text of the Second Amendment?
  3. Constitutional scholars have long debated whether the Second Amendment protects the private possession of firearms or only the possession of firearms in the context of a well-regulated militia. The US Supreme Court examined the question in a 2008 case. What was the name of that landmark decision?
  4. What issue was at stake in the 2008 [redacted] case?
  5. What did the Supreme Court decide in the 2008 case?
  6. Prior to 2008, the US Supreme Court last decided a case involving the Second Amendment in 1939. The case, US v. Miller, was a challenge to the constitutionality of the National Firearms Act of 1934. What did that federal law require?
  7. What prompted Congress to pass the National Firearms Act of 1934?
  8. In the 1939 case, US v. Miller, two men were caught with an unlicensed sawed-off, double-barrel shotgun that they had transported from Oklahoma to Arkansas. They claimed the federal license requirement violated their Second Amendment rights. What did the court decide?
  9. In 2010, the Supreme Court took up another landmark Second Amendment case, McDonald v. Chicago. What was the issue the high court decided?
  10. Does the Second Amendment guarantee a personal right to own fully automatic military-issued combat rifles, heavy machine guns, and perhaps even shoulder-fired missiles?
  11. Does the Second Amendment guarantee a personal right to own semi-automatic rifles that resemble the fully-automatic military versions of the same firearm?
  12. Following the 2008 Supreme Court ruling overturning the handgun ban, the District of Columbia City Council passed a new gun control measure, this one banning “assault weapons.” The Council defined “assault weapons” as semi-automatic rifles and pistols with certain military features. The new ban was challenged in federal court. A federal appeals court in October 2011 voted 2 to 1 to uphold the ban. What did the court say?
  13. Gun rights advocates filed a new complaint in 2012 seeking to overturn the District of Columbia’s assault weapons ban. The lead plaintiff is Dick Heller, the same gun owner who successfully fought the District’s handgun ban. To challenge the assault weapons ban, Mr. Heller attempted to register a semi-automatic rifle he uses for target shooting, a Bushmaster XM-15-E2S. Which of the following individuals also used a Bushmaster XM-15-E2S?
  14. In 1994, Congress passed a ban on certain semi-automatic assault weapons and large capacity magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. How was Jared Loughner, the admitted gunman in the 2011 shooting spree involving Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, able to purchase 30-round magazines for his pistol?
  15. According to the National Rifle Association, how many privately-owned guns are currently in the United States?

There are almost 200 comments below the story at this time, the first 20 of which convinced us that our usual policy of not reading comments on general news sites is a good one. The signal to noise ratio is immeasurably small.

Question 13 is probably the most tendentious one. Let’s rephrase it: “The CSM reporter/ette who wrote this quiz probably has a pressure cooker in his/her kitchen. What other 2013 newsmakers also used pressure cookers?” See what we just did there? Wait till you see who the CSM equates Dick Heller to.

Question 14 is not correct on the size of the shooter’s magazines, but we know from experience there’s no percentage in trying to get the Christian Science Monitor to correct a factual error on a gun story. They’re just not interested in facts vis-a-vis narrative, and the actual facts wouldn’t change the correct answer to the question regardless. The quotes they use in Question 12 come mostly from the Brady amicus curiae filing, no surprise if you know the CSM’s history.

The CSM survived as a paper as long as it did because it was subsidized by a requirement that the members of the Christian Science (aka 1st Church of Christ, Scientist) cult subscribe. The requirement was dropped as the numbers and finances of the cult members dwindled; the group rejects medicine and surgery and tries to treat ill family members with prayer alone. Several members and faith healers associated with the cult have been convicted — even in the cult’s native Boston — in grim cases where children died of trivially curable diseases because of their parents’ committment to the cult’s cruel doctrine. After that, membership numbers began the freefall they’re still on.

There’s nothing wrong with prayer, but if you have a dehydrated baby, for instance, prayer and an IV of saline solution will do anything prayer alone will do. Plus, save the baby. There is that. WWJD?

Chris Dorner’s gun, and other Dorner news

The revolver Dorner pawned.

The revolver Dorner pawned, an Astra .38 imported by Century.

The thoroughly dead fired-cop cop-killer is still making news. Three items came to our attention, and we happened to read them in a paper from way the hell across the country from the scenes of his crimes, to wit: the New York Daily News:

  • Item: a gun he pawned in Las Vegas for $50, pre-notoriety, has been auctioned for $4,000. ($4,025, to be pedantic). The gun was a cheesy Astra .38 revolver, and the pawnbroker was optimistic to give him $50 for such a second-string-brand, out-of-fashion-caliber gun. But his optimism is rewarded on Gunbroker. Was the buyer one of those guys who bids on, say, Bonnie and Clyde guns? Or one of Dorner’s ate-up fans? Yeah, that possibility is sick, but not as sick as Dornermania gets.
Shop's copy of Dorner's receipt.

Shop’s copy of Dorner’s receipt.

Anyway, the seller offered to give the money to the family members of two cops killed by the angry ex-cop, but the families angrily refused, and one of the police departments excoriated the seller as “ghoulish.” Jeez, no good deed goes unpunished in this world. What was a pawnbroker  — last time I checked, not someone bound by a particularly rigid code of ethics — supposed to do with a gun that turned out to be owned by a celebrity, even an evil one? Exercise for the reader: someone finds out his grandfather left him a GI bringback that turns out to be documented personal property of a top Nazi, say Göring. What’s he supposed to do with it? Exercise II: the dealer learns the gun was Göring’s after buying it. Should he melt it down because Göring was a monster only suicide saved from the gallows, a committed Nazi, one-time chief of the Gestapo? 

Close-up shows finish flaked off grips and trigger with pitting. The gun was in rough shape.

Close-up shows finish flaked off grips and trigger with pitting. The gun was in rough shape.

Does the gun have more than mere ownership history with an evil man? Is it tainted by evil? Does it bear the mark of Cain, and no one should possess it just as all were enjoined to shun, but not harm, Cain himself?

Back to the gun itself — it was in lousy condition. This may have been because it was a Century import, or it may have been Dorner’s doing.

Several of his other guns were destroyed in the fire that killed him, or seized by police and will be destroyed. This Astra is likely to be the only gun associated with this outlaw ever to see the private market.

LOS ANGELES — The city of Los Angeles reached a $4.2 million settlement on injury claims by two women who were injured when police mistakenly opened fire on them during the manhunt for disgruntled ex-cop Christopher Dorner, an official said Tuesday.

Margie Carranza and her 71-year-old mother, Emma Hernandez, were delivering papers around 5 a.m. on Feb. 7 when LAPD officers blasted at least 100 rounds at their pickup.

 There’s a couple of ways to calculate this. Since the LAPD spray-an’-pray’d 100-plus rounds at the two small Filipinas they mistook for the single large shaven-headed black dude, you could say it’s about $40,000 per negligent discharge. But since only about a quarter of them struck the wrong-make-size-color-and-plate truck, you could say it’s $10,000 per reasonably close hit (no one knows where the 80 or 90 other rounds went, but it says something about LAPD marksmanship). But since only one round struck one of the wrong-number-color-sex-and-size “suspects,” you could say it’s a full $4-million-plus per round on target.

We guess LAPD still considers it cheaper than training their cops.

Of course, the customers on Carranza’s and Hernandez’s paper route who didn’t get their LA Times that day haven’t filed their suits yet, and the other victim of mistaken identity will also run up the score. Of course, nobody’s blaming the real ultimate cause of this, Dorner. You can’t sue a penniless dead crook; well, you can, but you can’t collect, and that’s how the plaintiff’s bar rolls.

This, too, is pretty sick, but we still haven’t hit the Dornermania apogee yet.

  • Let's keep the focus where it belongs: on four innocents murdered by Dorner.

    Let’s keep the focus where it belongs: on four innocents murdered by a no-good sack of excrement.

    Item: a kind of Dorner Fan Club met for a rally in LA. After he was cold, dead, and in the ground. Cause it’s all LAPD’s fault, you know.

That’s the rock bottom of Dornermania. Lord love a duck. The image caption (right) expresses what we think of this cretin, and the even worse people who celebrate him. We don’t want to hear that “he had a point” because “this, that and the other thing is wrong with LAPD/PDs in general/life, the universe, and everything.” That’s bullshit. Any point you ever had is erased forever when you whack some innocent person to send your message. 

If you want to send a message, go to an internet café. If you want to kill people, Chris Dorner fans, start with yourselves. This has been a public service message.

Bulletin: GI tuition assistance lives

In March, this FU message greeted Army  students. Funding was restored -- over the Secretary's resistance -- in about a month.

In March, this FU message greeted Army students. Funding was restored — over the Secretary’s resistance — in about a month.

Some time ago, we commented on the service secretaries (who are political appointees, commonly lawyers without significant military experience or ties to the military culture) and their decision to throw service members’ tuition assistance programs into the well of the sequester pain-amplification.

We didn’t follow up with a report that a united bipartisan Congress ordered the funding restored in the next Continuing Resolution, or that most services dragged their feet, but after sharp enquiries from the provision’s Congressional sponsors, grudgingly reinstated most benefits by mid-April.

The Air Force rather typically was first, and the Air Force and Army restored 100% coverage. The Marines and Coast Guard lagged, and the Marine leadership left left some Marines out in the cold — specifically, those who’d enrolled while the program was in the cooler. Military.com had an excerpt of the Congressional letter:

It is our understanding the Department of Defense (“Department”) has not yet taken action to restore Tuition Assistance for service members as required by Section 8129 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013, Public Law 113-6 (the “Continuing Resolution”).  That law requires the Secretaries of the Military Departments to carry out tuition assistance for members of the Armed Forces during the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year, using amounts that shall not be less than the amount appropriated or otherwise available by the Continuing Resolution…

Concern about the high cost of TA is legitimate. But the benefit was promised to current troops.

Concern about the high cost of TA is legitimate. Even Solyndra wasted “only” $850 million. But the benefit was promised to current troops, and unlike Solyndra, the US gets something for the money: better-educated service people (and ultimately, vets/citizens).

These cuts were of a piece with the FAA cuts that zero in on air traffic controllers, and White House cuts that close the house to tours while allowing Air Force One to fly to fund-raisers. They’re trying to maximize public pain for political reasons. It’s despicable, but they are politicians, that’s what they do (both parties of them, actually). In any event, Congress forced the reopening of tuition assistance to active-duty service men and women (except for some unlucky Marines). Most of the time, Congress is not worth extinguishing if it broke out in flames, but they got this one right.

We regret not covering this as soon as funding was restored (as early as 11 April for the USAF) and thank the anonymous helper who privately sent us a link to a related story.