Crazy Ivan’s Back in the North Atlantic

In the 1990s, the US quit investing in its sub fleet, comfortable in its superiority, and cut its numbers back to token levels. After all, post-Soviet Russia, our principal competitor at sea, had been forced to cut back itself, and  many of its subs lay beached and waiting for scrapping.

submarine-graveyard-abandoned-kola-peninsula-6

What a difference two decades make. In the 21st Century, the Russians have emerged with new submarine designs, better than anything they’ve ever sent to sea, and the Russian Navy has reached new heights of professionalism, while the US kept cutting, both in numbers and in readiness.

We disbanded the Atlantic unified command, because some credentialed idiot in the beltway wrote a book that said there would never be wars or superpower confrontations, and the other credentialed idiots in the beltway believed him.

We now have old boats, a submarine and naval industrial base that’s become welfare-dependent and complacent, few and elderly surface and naval air antisubmarine platforms, and crews that are riven by backstabbing and near-random summary dismissals of commanders, and subjected to the cold and variable winds of social justice engineering. Our undersea capabilities have gone from dominant to nearly nonexistent, while we spend more than ever because of the inefficiencies of our top-down, politically-driven system — one more Soviet in conception and execution than that of the allegedly neo-Soviet Russians. Nicholas de Larrinaga in Jane’s Defence Weekly:

Not only are Russian submarines returning to Cold War levels of operational activity, but Russian submarines have made a major jump in technological performance, Vice Adm [Clive] Johnstone [Commander, NATO Maritime Command] said, with NATO seeing “a level of Russian capability that we haven’t seen before”.

Russia, he said, “through an extraordinary investment path not mirrored by the West” has made “technology leaps that [are] remarkable, and credit to them.” Russian submarines now “have longer ranges, they have better systems, they’re freer to operate”, he said. The alliance has also “seen a rise in professionalism and ability to operate their boats that we haven’t seen before”, noted Vice Adm Johnstone, adding, “that is a concern”.

A modern Russian sub puts to sea (MOD RU vis Jane's)

A modern Russian sub puts to sea (MOD RU vis Jane’s)

Frankly, if the Admiral remembers the 1980s, higher professionalism from the Russian Navy (than its Soviet predecessor) is probably a good thing for everyone, and it should simply inspire NATO navies to pursue professionalism also. Instead, however, we’ve been pursuing race and sex quotas with a singlemindedness that would get fiction’s greatest whaling captain to tell us to “lighten up, shipmate.”

Together, this meant that the level of Russian submarine activity NATO is currently seeing in the North Atlantic is “very different from the period of quiet submarine activity that perhaps we’ve seen in the past”.

But what is really torquing the Admiral, it seems, is that Russia’s silent service is, well, silent:

However he added, “I think none of that would worry us if we knew what the game plans were or we knew why they were deploying or what they were doing … we don’t understand what the strategic and operational objectives are of the Russian state.” This was because “a lot of what the Russians are doing at the moment we don’t understand, and is obscure and is shrouded in other activity which makes us nervous, and makes nations nervous”.

via Russian submarine activity topping Cold War levels | IHS Jane’s 360.

Uncertainty itself is an objective and force multiplier in war — cold or hot, dear Admiral. Like the ATF, which enjoys having vague laws it can enforce for arbitrary or whimsical reasons, or against arbitrary or specified individuals, Russia has everything to gain by keeping NATO guessing, and nothing to gain by providing the leaders and intel analysts of NATO with insight as to their intentions.

It sounds like the Admiral’s analysts have fallen into the trap of only analyzing the adversary’s capabilities in the light of his intentions, and now feel that it’s not fair that they have to return to first principles and see what these capabilities enable him to do.

Russia has a submarine service with a tradition of superior service and selfless sacrifice that goes back a century plus (although Soviet-era textbooks ascribed all submersible inventions of consequence, back to the eighteenth century, to various apocryphal Russian peasants and workers). Those WWI Russian submariners went up against the German and Austro-Hungarian navies in boats that didn’t even have watertight compartments.

The great-grandsons of those iron men in iron boats now put to sea backed by a nation that may have its own issues, but is free of the technical isolation that led Soviet-era submarine technology to lag the West. Of course they’ve gotten better; that’s what humans do, given half a chance. The cause of Admiral Johnstone’s problem is not that the Russians have use the last two decades to get better, but that his nations’ navies have not.

What were we doing? Figuring out how long a plug had to go into new sub designs, so that we could have ladies’ sanitary arrangements, because our lodestar was not the mission but the careers.

Caching your Guns for a Civil War, Parts I and II

Many people are talking about the possibility of a civil war. Some people are acting as if one is going to happen. The intersection between those sets is almost zero.

Part 1: Some obstacles to caching

Three can keep a secret, if two are dead. All the Haganah underground operatives kept the secret of this cache in Northern Israel. It was discovered by accident after they had all died.

Three can keep a secret, if two are dead. All the Haganah underground operatives who knew the secret of this cache in Northern Israel took it to their graves. It was discovered by accident in January, 2014, after they had all died. (Story at The Blaze with links to Israeli media, some in Hebrew).

First, if you live in a state with licensing and registration, you’re screwed. Even if they don’t have all your weapons in their files, they know you have weapons. They can come and shake down your home and curtilage at their leisure. Registration and Licensing doesn’t solve crimes, and it certainly doesn’t prevent them. It is one thing only: a cheat sheet for confiscation.  For that, it’s the cat’s pajamas.

We’ve heard a lot of bravado about boating accidents and long-ago sales to a tall short black guy with red hair and freckles. You can pull this off in one two-pronged case: no one else at all knows about your weapons and your plans, and you can resist intense interrogation. (Unless you have been trained in interrogation resistance in a resistance training lab, you probably can’t). This is completely without torture or threats to relatives, both of which will be available and in use in a civil war. Those two techniques can usually break even the trained resister.

Second, don’t rely on Oathkeepers bluster (another word beginning with “b” also fits). They mean what they say now, but things will be different then. Police will have no problem cracking down on you because (1) most cops will follow any plausibly legitimate authority; (2) human beings are born to rationalize; and (3) you’ll be demonized long before you’re raided. They won’t whack you, they’ll be whacking your indescribably monstrous straw man evil twin.

Every totalitarian state in history made liberal use of the ordinary cops for its political roundups, and no police element has ever mutinied or walked off the job when faced with that task. For example, the Gestapo and SS did not need to round up the Jews in occupied France: the ordinary French beat cops were glad to do it. None of them was ever punished; they transferred their loyalty seamlessly and unquestionably from the 3rd Republic to Vichy to the occupying power to the 4th Republic. Likewise, the Weimar cops became Nazi cops, who in turn became East or West German cops, and now unified Federal German cops. Hitler? Stalin? Who cares, we can retire at 45 with a good pension, and no one will miss a few Jews.

Third, don’t expect most people to back you. For every active resister, there are 20 dedicated, clandestine supporters. For every dedicated supporter there are 20 active and open collaborators. You active resisters will be outnumbered 400 to 1 by the Quislings. And even they will be a minority. Most people will hunker down and try not to be involved. The side that pressures them will get their loyalty and compliance — as long as it outpressures its opponents, and as long as the pressure is applied.

Still wondering why civil wars get ugly, fast?

Fourth, if you’re fantasizing about this civil war, stop now. We’ve seen civil wars, and we’ve seen how a place can go from civilized to Hobbsean state of nature in jig time. The American Revolution has been sanitized in our history but even it, the cleanest and most civil of civil wars, was unbearably nasty. The victors wrote the history; the losers, the Tories or Loyalists, took ship. Or died. After losing everything. A new Civil War might look more like the last one, with new Mosbys, Booths, and certainly new Andersonvilles. Or it might resemble the Spanish Civil War, or the French Revolution. When Americans unhappy with government think of the French Revolution, they think of their opponents in the tumbrils. Remember the fate of Robespierre and the Jacobins was no different from that of the Girondins or the Bourbons. Remember that practically none of the Old Bolsheviks died of natural causes.

But if, after all that, you still want to be prepared for survival or resistance, read on. The lessons learned you are about to receive here are distilled from thirty-plus years in the practice of insurgency, UW, FID, and COIN, and a very great deal of study. They also incorporate the lessons learned from a sensitive — once, highly classified — strategic cache program that was meant to arm clandestine stay-behind forces and the resistance armies they would raise.

Part II: The Enemies of Cached Weapons

The enemies of your cached weapons, dear insurgent, are many. They are rust, and its valkyries water and air; construction and development; discovery; documentation; human frailty; and obsolescence.

These weapons, buried during the League of Nations mandate and recovered only last year, were well preserved.

These weapons, buried during the League of Nations mandate and recovered only last year, were well preserved. Careful packaging and Israel’s arid climate protected them from Air, Water and therefore Rust.

Rust is a term for corrosion in ferrous metals. Essentially, iron plus air (especially damp, moist air) yields iron oxide, which is everything steel is not: weak, crumbly, almost worthless (well, you can make an incendiary mixture with it. But your guns are not the best feedstock for that; it’s not like rust is hard to come by).

You protect weapons from rust with permanent coatings like paint or parkerizing, temporary coatings like grease, vacuum-bagging them if you have the capability, and storing them in naturally or artificially dry places.

Even non-ferrous metals and supposedly “stainless” metals will corrode in the right conditions.

Water is principally a problem because of its propensity to accelerate rust. But it also has two other properties: it tends to wick into almost anywhere, and if it’s flowing, it can wear through anything. The Grand Canyon? That’s nothing but applied water and time.

Air is a problem because it contains all the ingredients for rust except the iron: water vapor and oxygen. It also can contain pollutants that accelerate corrosion.

Development is a threat to a surprising number of caches. Europeans periodically wake up to a news story of a cache of weapons or other stuff from the Cold War or World War II. The Nazis cached hundreds of tons of arms for a Werwolf resistance that fizzled out, partly because the Nazi state’s defeat made its ideology much less compelling, and partly because all four Allies had no compunction at all about shooting Werwolf suspects, even children. These unused caches get unearthed in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic by urban and rural development all the time. They’re usually old, forgotten, neglected caches in bad shape.

Apart from concealment, which was often good, the Werwolf caches were a pretty good example of how not to conduct a strategic cache program.

While some hazards are easy to defend against — you can “set ’em and forget ’em” — defense against development requires long-term curation. If a cache is implanted, someone must monitor it, and when development encroaches, move it. Therefore, the caches that are discovered are the ones that are haphazardly monitored or that were implanted by defunct organizations that never took up, or failed at, monitoring.

It is also helpful to emplace caches in locations that are away from either axes of likely future development, potential high value positions or targets in civil or general war (such as key terrain), or potential bivouac locations of hostile forces.

Discovery is the accidental location, exposure, or penetration of the cache, not as a result of counterguerrilla or counterespionage activity, nor as a result of development-related excavation. Your likely discoverers are hunters, hikers, and, especially, kids.

Guard against it by placing the cache on difficult terrain, and concealing the cache well.

There appears to have been no documentation of the Haganah cache. It was concealed well enough that the discovery came almost 70 years after the Haganah's clandestine war was won.

There appears to have been no Documentation of the Haganah cache. It was concealed well enough that its Discovery came almost 70 years after the Haganah’s clandestine war was won.

Documentation is a double-aged sword. It allows for the recovery or relocation of caches even if no responsible individual is available (a real risk in UW). It is useful in the demobilization phase after victory has been achieved; or in an underground or dormant phase after a major defeat. But it also allows hostile forces to find and recover caches, or even worse, surveil them and roll up networks.

To counter these risks, documentation should be kept to a minimum and safeguarded, possibly with such measures as clandestine writing and encryption. Cache reports should never be transmitted by or filed on computers or electronic devices. (Assume all computers are bugged).

Human Frailty (memory and weakness) is what happens to most caches — not to put too fine a point on it, somebody rats them out.

The way to combat this is to enact strict positive vetting, need-to-know, and compartmentalization. No one should even know that there are caches unless the person’s trustworthiness has been established beyond doubt. No one should know any more about caches than he or she needs to, and that information must be given to the smallest practical number of people. And finally, no one should know about caches not relevant to his cell, mission, or location.

Obsolescence is the final problem with caches. If, mirabile dictu, things are so well packed and preserved that they’re not at risk, the canny old wizard we call Time still has one ace up his sleeve: obsolescence. You don’t know where it’s coming from; small arms development proceeds by a pattern of punctuated equilibrium. You can’t tell when technology will overthrow your stored ordnance. Rebels who buried their guns in 1800, or in 1900, would still be armed like a national army forty years later, but if they buried their guns in 1840 or 1940, they would dig up a bunch of very outdated hardware in 1880 or 1980. (We were, in fact, digging up — for inspection — caches planted in the 1940s periodically through the 1980s). But small arms performance plateaued enough in the 20th Century that the guns are the least of your worries. A guerrilla band armed today with Garands and MP.40s would still have considerable lethality, but there’s no hope for the crystal and tube radios of the 1940s for practical field communications. Likewise, medical equipment stored even a decade ago has been replaced in the real world by improved devices and products of new research.

There is no easy way to combat obsolescence. You have to be prepared to service the cache as we did during the cold war, a difficult and expensive undertaking fraught with risk to the servicer, the cache, and the security of the program.

To be continued in Part III: Types of Caches and IV: Cache Best Practices

We will learn that, as useful as it may be to consider the risks above, you’re going to find that if you want to use the cache or caches, you’re going to have to accept considerable risks beyond those. Indeed, the use of the cache is ever in tension with the security of same (a tradeoff with many, many parallels in the insurgent’s world).

And anything you can do can get you scarfed up. No pressure, though.

Look for Parts III and IV next week.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Archive.org

198We’re a little late on this one, and a little brief. But this site came up in a search, and we think we have not referenced it here before. (Yes, we didn’t search our own site to see. Shame…)

Did you know you can find a great deal of interesting stuff on Archive.org? For instance, here’s our little search for “Arms Production” and its first few hits among the documents archived there.

archive.org

A couple of those look tempting… and that’s the problem with Archive.org, is it’s a colossal time suck. We did find what we were looking for (text of a recent SF training circular, which did suck just as much as we remembered it did) But we also found that 1987 thesis on arms production in Venezuela1948 and 1949 documents from the National Military Establishment R&D Board; TM 9-2210 Small Arms Accidents, Malfunctions & Causes, 1942 (describes what causes typical accidents in the M1903 and M1917 rifles, the Browning .30 LMG and the M1917 revolver); a Britsh paper on Small Arms Manufacture, 1865, complete with some description of both the mechanics and the economics concerned….

…and yeah, all this stuff is free. You can read it on the site, or download it in one of many formats (.pdf, .mobi, .epub, etc.).

And that’s just the Documents. There’s also the Videos, and we haven’t even gotten to those yet!

So you see why we’re not really alarmed by the possibility of this W4 being a double-tap. If we used this once before, fine and good. It’s that interesting.

A Mess of Accidents (January, 2016)

Negligent Discharge of the Century. So Far.

ND-shot-in-footWhen there’s no humor in a Polish(-American) joke:

[Maciej] Gorecki was apparently parading his pistol when he put it to [Zdzislaw] Golabek’s head, according to officials.

He pulled the trigger, believing the gun was unloaded.

Golabek, who also lived in the building, died at the scene.

His death has been deemed a homicide.

via Brooklyn man fatally shot friend while showing off gun: cops – NY Daily News.

Anybody remember the first rule of gun safety, class?

A few more details:

Maciej Gorecki, 32, was charged with manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon after allegedly killing his friend and neighbor, 37-year-old Zdzislaw Golabek, in Gorecki’s Sunset Park apartment on 45th St. near Eighth Ave. on Saturday night, authorities said.

With great firepower comes great responsibility. Normally, New York’s “criminal possession” statute is a BS charge, but in this case, it’s hard to disagree with throwing the book at the knucklehead, Gorecki.

Flint, MI: 3-Year Old Shot With Nobody’s Gun

Well, nobody who will admit it’s his, anyway.

Police say the 3-year-old boy found a 9mm pistol and accidentally shot himself in the head just before 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20.

He was pronounced dead at the home.

Flint police Chief James Tolbert said four adults and three children were at the home, which belonged to the child’s great-grandparents, of the time of the incident. The adults included the child’s mother, the two homeowners and a relative, Tolbert said.

Tolbert said investigations suggest the adults were not aware there was a gun in the home. Now, he says, police are trying to find out whose gun it was, where it came from and how it got into the hands of a toddler.

I think we all know the answer to this riddle.

Praise the Lord and Pass the Kerlix

It had to happen sooner or later, and it did: a Texan shot himself in the foot in church. Apparently the wound wasn’t very serious, so we feel all the better about mocking him.

Not Funny at All: 4-year Old Kills Self

In Houston, a little kid found his grandfather’s gun, and 4-year-old Bryson Hernandez shot himself in the head.  This disaster happened in Texas; Sheriff’s deputies grilled the kid’s grandparents until his grandmother collapsed, and they may still be charged with something, but that’s the least of it. The little guy expired from his self-inflicted wound.

We’ll join the family in urging you to secure your firearms. On your person or locked up, especially if you have kids or if they visit. This little boy loved Iron Man; he could not have had much of a concept of the lethality of a real firearm.

South Bend, IN: A 2-Year-Old, for crying out loud.

Everything in the last incident up above goes double for this one. Except that the boy is in stable condition. How, in the name of all that’s holy, does a toddler shoot himself?

And Another…

In Alaska, State Troopers are investigating the shooting death of 5-year-old Kaidin Mann in the village of Kohanok this weekend as an accidental shooting.

And Another

In Halifax County, VA, a juvenile negligently discharged a firearm. A woman walking in her driveway was hit in the abdomen; she was airlifted to Duke University Hospital, where she’s in stable condition; deputies expect the juvenile will be charged.

Pune, India: Accident, or Suicide?

It probably doesn’t matter to Devendra Giteshware Gore, but there’s evidence for both possibilities, and the cops seem bemused (if leaning towards the suicide theory):

The woman told the police that after the drinking session on Saturday , Gore took out a pistol and put it to his head.

“He asked the woman whether she loved him and told her he would shoot himself if she said no. The woman thought Gore was joking and did not reply . A few seconds later, he pulled the trigger,” Dhage said. Assistant police inspector B A Nanaware of the Sangvi police station said Gore had gone missing in April last year after his creditors began pursuing him.

Indebtedness, a love affair — if it’s suicide, it’s one more proof that is a final solution to somebody’s transient problems. If an accident, it’s one more indictment of the combination of firearms and Judgment Juice.

Indicentally, being India, where guns are outlawed, the firearm was a homemade contraption, according to the news story.

Louisville: “Anti-Gang Activist,” Yeah, riiight…

His momma demands answers, when her son and his friends were playing with a gun, and Junior assumed ambient temperature. The story contains a clue:

Community activist Chris 2-X says Ruff was involved in his anti-violence effort. He would like to see more gun safety training for young people in West Louisville.

We dunno. Having some ganged-up kid (’cause that’s who these “anti-violence” posers are) whack himself should be a salutary transmission, for those capable of receiving.

Williamsburg, VA: Not a Lot of Experience

A young man playing with a pistol in a Williamburg restaurant learned why that’s a bad idea. Unfortunately he didn’t live to apply the lesson.

Major Greg Riley with Williamsburg Police Department told 13News Now the shooting happened at the Astronomical Pancake House in the 1300 block of Richmond Road just before 1:25 p.m.

Riley said the victim died on his way to the hospital.

He added the victim did not appear to have a lot of experience handling a firearm.

Well, he isn’t going to get any now. People! Learn first. Then carry.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Blunt Force Trauma

It’s not clear what weapon this guy used. It is clear what he did.

Deyun Shi, the 44-year-old suspect, is believed to have killed two teenage boys, aged 14 and 15, at a home in Arcadia, a city in Los Angeles county, Sara Rodriguez of the Los Angeles County Sherriffs Department told Reuters by phone. Police believe Shi fled on a plane to Beijing.

The boys, who were Shi’s nephews, suffered from “blunt force trauma” and were discovered by local police on Friday afternoon, Rodriguez said.

Shi, who police consider “armed and dangerous”, is also wanted in a spousal assault that took place Thursday, according to a statement from the department.

A backlog of tens of thousands of Chinese nationals awaiting deportation for violating U.S. immigration laws, including 900 classified as violent offenders, have not been repatriated, often because China has been slow in providing the necessary documents. The issue has strained relations between the world’s two largest economies.

via Chinese murder suspect believed to have fled to Beijing: U.S. police – Yahoo News.

It would have nothing to do with the stand-down issued to CBP and ICE on criminal aliens, would it? What do you think?

VA Bosses to Vets: Drop Dead, We Take Care of Our Own

VA-veterans-affairsPredictably, the second corrupt SES demoted for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the agency, Diana Rubens, has cashed in on the interference run for her by VA head Bob McDonald and Deputy Sloan Gibson.

While the ruling was made by a judge, the outcome was set up by VA senior managers blocking for their cronies, Rubens and Kimberly Graves. These two Bisonic Women ripped off the taxpayers for almost half a million dollars in “moving expenses.”  (What move costs that much, short of lower earth orbit?)

The VA senior management did several things to make this outcome happen:

  1. The defined critics of corruption as people attacking veterans. (Never mind that the corrupt pair, like almost all VA senior managers, aren’t veterans. Just people who steal from veterans — the DC version of the same thing).
  2. They dismissed criticism as paid propaganda from the Koch Brothers. (Hey, Charlie and Dave, where’s our check?). This is McDonald’s take, anyway.
  3. They disparaged their own inspector general. (Gibson led on this).
  4. They undermined the case for criminal prosecution, to cover for their cronies. Gibson personally spiked the criminal referral.
  5. They refused to fire the corrupt officials. This was also a Gibson decision, although McDonald has backed him on all these bad decisions.
  6. They withheld evidence that the crooked two had made these arrangements to benefit themselves, leading the court to conclude that “there was no evidence…” of that particular charge. In other words, McDonald and Gibson put the fix in.
  7. They provided the administrative law judge with evidence of other VA officials who had worked similar six-figure scams without being fired (in fact, with complete impunity), encouraging the judge to decide for his fellow short-fingered Beltway nobles on grounds of “equal treatment under law.” In other words, McDonald and Gibson put the fix in again.

To put it in boxing terms, the VA took a dive on the case.

Just like they do on taking care of sick and injured veterans.

Even during the few weeks that they were demoted, Rubens and Graves did not have to give back any of the money that they stole from the vets for whose benefit the money was appropriated. Now they will not only keep their smash-n-grab loot, but also get a shower of new money: back pay, lawyers’ fees, and God knows what other largesse that two such shameless and corrupt homunculi can wrap their fat, greedy fingers around.

If you are a veteran, you already know that the VA works not for you, but for the Graveses and Rubenses of the agency, and their number is legion. The time has come to close the VA, zero its budget out, and voucherize veterans’ benefits, with health benefits rolled into Medicare and education benefits rolled into the DOD’s education programs.

The current officers and executives of VA should be banned from federal jobs like the PATCO controllers were, and made to find work in the dreaded private sector, if they have any skills of economic value (which seems unlikely, but maybe organized crime is hiring).

Until this can be done, Congress needs to withdraw from the corrupt and venal officials at the Veterans Administration all authority to pay bonuses, to hire and promote non-veterans, and to pay salary plus-ups such as the obscene “moving allowances” that let SES paper-pushers triple and quadruple their already over-generous salaries. Moreover, Congress should make all such payments taxable (they’re currently tax-free!). They have imposed retroactive taxation on mere citizens, so they should make this benefits tax retroactive as well.

For more information on this taxpayer ripoff and veteran abuse:

  1. HotAir.com (outside-beltway viewpoint): VA reverses demotion of second disgraced official.
  2. GovExec.com (trade paper of the payroll patriots and trough surfers): Second VA Official Will Be Reinstated to Senior Executive Service.

Elsewhere in the VA:

National Review Calls for Reform, Elimination

For Reform: Dan Caldwell:

it’s now more than clear that the impetus for change will not come from the Obama administration. Instead, Obama and his VA secretary, Robert McDonald, have chosen to double down on the VA’s failed government-run health-care system and have sided with the government unions against common-sense civil-service reforms within the VA.

For Elimination: Jonah Goldberg:

There is only one guaranteed way to get fired from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. …the only sure-fire way to get canned at the VA is to report [corruption] to authorities who might do something about it.

We’re with Jonah. The agency has embraced failure as a culture, and the “dedicated VA employees” Dan doesn’t want to throw out with the bathwater are, certainly at GS-15 and SES level, a fiction.

There’s a Whole New Scandal Breaking

David La CerteThis scandal is breaking in the Louisiana State Veterans’ Administration, but it looks like he learned his lessons from the Federal VA. From NOLA.com:

[A report accused]…former Secretary David LaCerte of having “engaged in questionable organizational, hiring, and pay practices that appear to have contributed to an environment of little accountability.”

LaCerte abruptly resigned Oct. 8, at the height of the investigation.

Much of the investigation’s findings focused on evidence of misspent money from 2013 until LaCerte left office.

It accused LaCerte of paying $44,128 in consulting fees to a company owned by two of his law school classmates between January 2014 and September 2015 without ever signing a contract with them.

In another case, the report says LaCerte directed staff to buy a Ford Expedition using a more than $27,000 from a federal grant meant for the Southeast Louisiana Veterans’ Cemetery in Slidell. That SUV was then used to ferry LaCerte around the state, according to the report.

Investigators found department employees were reimbursed almost $20,000 in travel expenses that weren’t properly authorized or over the capped limit. The report accused LaCerte of being improperly reimbursed $4,800 for expenses incurred during 11 trips between February 2013 and September 2015.

The report also accused one department employee of stealing from a resident in a veterans home and another of lying on medical records when a resident died after suffering from a fall. Investigators discovered that 34 incident reports had been deleted from the system while another 82 duplicate reports were also improperly discarded.

Beyond the specific accusations, investigators also found that the department had been mismanaged for years….

Perhaps the most revealing discovery, according to the report, was LaCerte’s apparent attempt to keep tabs on management after learning he would not be permanently appointed to the department’s top job….

LaCerte also kept the interim secretary’s $130,000 annual salary rather than return to the deputy secretary’s salary of $85,000, according to the report.

He may actually go to jail yet. He doesn’t have the Patent of Nobility that comes with a Federal job, an entitlement that courts have ruled mere criminality can’t cause one so ennobled to lose. But we hear rumors that there’s a federal angle to this Louisiana-as-usual corruption. The story’s just started breaking.

Another Look at VA Headcount

What Are All Those People Doing? Letter to the Editor, the Columbian, by John Kimbrough:

Of the 41,000 hired last year, only 14,000 were health care workers. Of the 14,000 health care workers hired, only 1,300 doctors, and 3,600 were nurses. This means that out of 41,000 hires, only 4,900 doctors and nurses were hired. What are the other 36,000 hires doing to help our vets?

That’s a rhetorical question, right? Because if it’s a serious one, the answer’s “Bugger-all.”

How is this hiring pattern justified when our veterans still cannot get medical treatment they need at VA hospitals in a reasonable time frame?

Hey, John. That’s one way to look at it. Also, compare how many of these hires were in the America vets live in, and how many were headquarters horse-holders in the region of the Imperial City? The hiring pattern is justified because A players hire A players, B players hire C players, and VA duds hire VA duds just like themselves.

Bet there are more parasites with “diversity” in their titles than the <5k docs and nurses hired last year.

VA Suicide Hotline: “Hang Up, Call This Other Number.”

You couldn’t make this stuff up, but it really happens if you call for help in Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, swarms of $1000-a-day VA managers were congratulating one another over delicacies at a seminar on Preventing Veteran Suicide in a luxurious DC setting. The Secretary’s focus was, as you might expect, knowing this bum, not on veterans who served honorably, but on yardbirds:

And, of course, you wouldn’t have a speech from a lefty politician — which is what McDonald and all his flunkies are — without an anti-gun message.

And while we’re at it, how about some train control?

Hey, if you’re feeling suicidal, you don’t need to call the hotline, anyway. Or even to take an attitude-adjustment nap on the crossties of the mainline of the Atchisson, Topeka & Santa Fe. Just go to the VA hospital and check in. The barbers of the VA will take it from there!

Here’s a Different Retro AR-15

The first thing we’re going to say is: it’s pretty. It’s meant to be a stylish upgrade to the Vietnam-era rifle, but it diverges from that not just cosmetically (with the beautiful walnut furniture and decent Cerakote job), but mechanically (with a heavy barrel, late-style generic lower, and .223 Wylde chamber). It’s styled after the XM16E1/M16A1 style gun that was used by the ground combat services in 1965-67.

AR-15 retro wood 04

It’s a gun that’s meant to be fun to shoot and to give an impression of an early AR — or as the seller puts it, a “resto-mod.” If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it comes from the 1990s California classic car scene, where outfits like Mustangs Plus (whose Ron Bramlett, we believe, coined the term “restomod”) would do a cosmetic restoration on a classic car, while upgrading its systems to late 20th-Century standards of safety, convenience and performance with things like disc brakes, air conditioning, five- and six-speed transmissions, and fuel injection.

This is a “resto-mod” build using an authentic Vietnam era m-16 upper receiver, front sight assembly, and bayonet. The lower is a new Delaware Machine AR-15 mil-spec receiver.”

“Delaware Machinery” and “mil-spec” are only passingly acquainted. The DM lowers can be in tolerance, out of tols high, or out of tols low, and sometimes things that should be square are a few degrees off. Most of them do go together alright, and if they don’t, it’s usually just a matter of custom fitting. Still, that’s the other end of the pool from a prestige lower.

One good thing is that there are no large logos on the magwell with this firm’s lowers.

AR-15 retro wood 02

Everything on the Rifle has been Cerakoted except for springs, detents, and the buffer. The wood stock furniture is real American Black Walnut. The receivers, sight base, compensator, and bayonet grips are a blend of Cerakote Graphite Black and Burnt Bronze. The rest of the parts are Graphite Black. Having all parts Cerakoted dramatically reduces friction which means less oil, less fouling, and less cleaning. The rifle has been pre-broken-in and burnished with Sentry Solutions Smooth-Kote. The rifle comes with the bayonet, bayonet sheath, 3 magazines, and a padded soft rifle case.

It is a nice looking rifle. If you only want one sort-of-retro AR, and you don’t think $1,800 buy it now is too much (we don’t know where the reserve is on this auction), maybe it’s for you.

There are numerous departures from retro “restored,” notably the heavy barrel with it’s .750 diameter through the front sight base (instead of the period-correct .675)

One good thing about this build is that the seller (and presumed builder) is providing comprehensive information about the firearm.

Everything is new EXCEPT the UPPER RECIEVER, FRONT SIGHT BASE, SIGHTS, CHARGING HANDLE, BAYONET, and SCABBARD. These parts are deemed to be authentic Vietnam era parts due to their design and forging marks “C H” on the upper receiver. “C H” stands for Colt Harvey forging (Harvey being the forging company used by Colt for the early m16 rifle). It should be noted that all of the components came to me as a complete upper half, which was in pretty poor condition, at the time, requiring the need for an overhaul. As can be seen from the pictures, you can tell the upper has been through a lot; there are dings all over. All parts were thoroughly degreased, sharp raised edges filed down, blasted smooth, and then coated with Cerakote H series finish. Below are the details on individual parts which were used on this build.

AR-15 retro wood 03

RRA Parts Kit
RRA Carrier with Chromed bolt (Also Cerakoted)
RRA National Match 2-stage semi-auto trigger
Stainless Steel Firing pin and Cam Pin
JP Enterprises® 3.5 lb trigger spring kit
KNS Perma Pin
HBAR Match Grade Chromoly Barrel 20″ 1 in 8″ twist .223 Wylde chamber
Bushmaster® rifle length Buffer and spring
M1918 leather sling
Walnut stock set from Black Guns Wood

AR-15 retro wood 01

via Custom retro AR-15 Wood Stock rifle with bayonet : Semi Auto Rifles at GunBroker.com.

Again, only you know if this is right for you.

And Now for a Bit of Philosophy

The gun is well done; it’s not a Bubba job. But one wonders if some day we will regret these sort of restomods as much as we regret the amateurish and ugly hack jobs that generations of Bubbas have inflicted on Mausers and, now, Mosins. We’ve been meaning to write about this but Tam posted a link to McThag’s impassioned jeremiad (hmmm… was there ever a jeremiad that was not “impassioned”? Methinks we adjective too much) about hack jobs on, specifically, Mosins.

I am sick of seeing Bubba rape kiv/27’s. I am sick of seeing Remington and NEW [New England Westinghouse — rare WWI contract guns. -Ed.) receivers drilled and tapped. I am sick of seeing US marked M1915 stocks shortened and cut for Timney triggers.

Far too often, Bubba makes changes he can’t reverse. Regret comes 20 years later when the supply of old guns dries up and the crufflers start fighting over what’s left. The Mosin that’s $240 on Gunbroker now was $150 last year. It was $70 five years before that.

Already modded guns are listed on Gunbroker for less than $500, and there’s no bidders. In Econ 101, we call that a market indicator.

That made us look at this site, where a Bubba enabler suggests committing all kinds of crude butchery on unsuspecting Russian service rifles.

At one point, he suggests you put your Mosin in a cheap plastic imitation of a sniper chassis stock, because “the look is incredible” (of course) and to save weight. Except the stock he recommends weighs more than the typical birch stick Ivan used, back in the day.

Q: What’s the value of a $150 Mosin in a $140 stock with a $80 muzzle brake and a $30 saw-off-bolt-on 90º bolt handle?

A: About $50.

And that’s why we’re of two minds about the whole Retro Black Rifle Restomod thing. We do believe that well-done smithing has its value, but when collectors enter a market everything takes third place to originality and condition. Now, no gun built from a “parts kit” extracted from a rare Class III weapon is going to be truly original, and an original retro AR is, thanks to the market distortions introduced by a Jersey grifter named Hughes, priced out of the range of most who would like one. So the market is a chaotic mess from the jump.

And with that, we think we’ve argued ourselves around to a position. To wit: it’s everyone’s right to customize their own property any way that suits ’em. We would hope that these customizations were done professionally (like this one), and added real value (like the creator of this one thinks he has done, from the asking price); and that Bubba entertains himself hot-rodding lawn tractors or building a Hemi Gremlin or something. But we can’t stop you from doing whatever you want to do, and we wouldn’t want to live in a world where we could.

And with that, we reserve the right to continue to condemn the actions, abilities and ancestry of Bubba the Gunsmite and all his legions. Fair?

Why They Call it a Stun Gun

This guy has a Rendezvous with Darwin, at some disputed barricade… but here he learns valuable lessons about non-lethal electronic discharge weapons (like the stun gun he mistakenly calls a “taser,” because he’s an idiot), and electrical conductivity.

Or perhaps we should say he receives valuable lessons. Whether he actually learns is another question. We’re inclined to think not.

That is the version of the video that’s cut to thirty seconds to make it almost SFW. To see the moron in his full profane and n-word-rich glory (and a few seconds more of the amorous couple spooning in the chair laughing uncontrollably  at his twitching body), click “more” for the NSFW version:

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When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have VWs

Ever wonder what happens if you don’t turn but keep going straight into the wall in one of those urban parking garages?

Hole in the Garage

Well, Atlanta-based Weather Channel meteorologist Nicholas Wiltgen has conducted the experiment so that we don’t have to, although he has left the data collection to us. You see, he has moved on to the Far Side, not only of the wall and the basement of the adjacent hotel over there (mowing down a hotel worker in the process, but that guy will live), but also of mortal existence.

He’s not pining for the föhn. He is an ex-weather guesser. He has shuffled off this mortal parking structure. He sings in the Choir Invisible.

A witness saw the Volkswagen Eos 3.2 traveling “at a very high rate of speed” before running into the wall at the parking garage, located near the intersection of Peachtree and 14th streets, according to information released by Atlanta police and fire officials.

The car went through the wall and about 20 feet into the adjacent W Atlanta-Midtown, where it hit a person in a storage area around 5:30 p.m, Atlanta police spokeswoman Kim Jones said. Authorities initially described the injured person as a hotel worker, but a W Atlanta spokeswoman clarified Monday that he was a member of an “independent production company.” He was treated for non-life threatening injuries, Jones said.

The story goes on to say that either he had a heart attack or he didn’t (thataway to cover all the options, Atlanta Journal-Constitution!) and his friends and family will miss him. No doubt.

Cameron Clayton of the Weather Channel noted that:

…he would fight tooth and nail to make sure we did everything we could to explain the dangers of bad weather to our viewers.

It’s never the hazard you’re keeping an eye on, is it?

Luck and Loyalty

On October 4, 1777, British and Continental forces fought a short, sharp engagement on the outskirts of Philadelphia, in a town named for its immigrant settlers: Germantown. The battle initially went well for the home team, coached by George Washington, but the British and their Hessian mercenaries rallied, and the Continentals retreated, in good order as retreats go. But this post is not about the battle per se, but about what we can learn from some incidents in the fighting and its aftermath.

ITEM: Luck and a Mercenary’s  Loyalty

Consider the fortune of the 9th Virginia Regiment, led by Colonel Matthews. In the initial contact, they did very well and took approximately 100 British prisoners. Matthews detached a battalion of 400 men to escort the prisoners to the rear, not knowing that a Hessian regiment led by Colonel Von Donop had moved into position between him and the headquarters to which he was transporting his dejected prisoners.

Von Donop was a mercenary, to be sure, but it was point of honor with him as an officer to be loyal unto his paymasters, and he displayed such threatening firepower that the detachment of Virginians released their ecstatic captives, and now were the dejected prisoners themselves. It was a microcosm of the reversal of fortune of the whole battle1.

For the fates of the individual men, this is not a small thing. The privations of Valley Forge lay ahead, and would certainly have been harder on captives than they were on the Continentals themselves, and they were quite dreadful on the Continentals. And while the British had, by 1777, overcome their initial inclination to hang rebels, at least in the case of the rank and file, they had not yet (and would not throughout the war) advanced to the next step of treating their prisoners like human beings. The pestilential prison ships kept in New York harbor are well known, for example. Many of the Virginians would die in captivity, tragic martyrs to the cause of liberty.

ITEM: Lucky Dog

In contrast to the ill-treatment of prisoners by both sides was the fate of General Howe’s dog. Among the British losses were the commander’s pet; there was no getting back the 800 of Howe’s men that Washington estimated had been killed (Howe’s own report to London was of a much smaller number), but when the dog, healthy if bewildered, was brought to the American general as a trophy, Washington’s first impulse was to send the dog back to his opponent by messenger, which he did on 6 October 1777. He sent a note:

General Washington’s compliments to General Howe. He does himself the pleasure to return him a dog, which accidentally fell into his hands, and by the inscription on the caller, appears to belong to General Howe2.

If Howe, who seems to have considered Washington a social if not professional inferior at this point, made any reply, we are unaware of it. (Howe also was widely recognized as a man of decency and character, and we can only imagine the effect of being reunited with his four-legged friend).

ITEM: Luck and a Servant’s Loyalty

The British, for their part, were not thrilled that Washington had been able to surprise them tacticallyThey were especially annoyed that the Colonial men of substance in the Germantown area had gone all Sergeant Schultz — “I know nothing!” — and provided them with zero useful intelligence. Young Loyalist Robert Morton recorded:

I went to headquarters where I saw Maj. Balfour, one of Gen’l Howe’s aide de camps, (wounded at the battles of Bunker Hill and Long Island) was very much enraged with the people around Germantown for not giving them intelligence of the advancing of Washington’s army, and that he should not be surprised if Gen’l Howe was to order the country for 12 miles around Germantown to be destroyed, as the people would not run any risk to give them intelligence when they were fighting to preserve the liberties and properties of the peaceable inhabitants3.

It seems that Balfour was not alone in his anger.

Balfour’s threat was not an idle one. Almost immediately after the battle the British intelligence officer, Col. Ayres, ordered 17 large homes between Germantown and Philadelphia fired in retaliation for the non-cooperative roles their owners had played in the recent conflict.

Even though Gen. Howe had used Stenton [Dr. Logan’s country home — Ed.] as his headquarters, Dr. James Logan was considered a dangerous patriot. At the time the house was staffed by only a few servants. Ayres dispatched two privates to burn the house.

When the soldiers beat on the door with their muskets, a black servant named Dinah answered. The men told her to get her personal belongings together and get out — the house was about to be burnt.

They said they were going to the stables for straw and when they returned she was to be out of the house. No sooner had the men gone to the barn when a British officer rode up on a lathered horse and called to Dinah as she still stood in the doorway. He wanted to know if she had seen any British deserters nearby.

Dinah immediately replied that there were two of them hiding in the barn at that very moment. The officer, who was in charge of the Provost Guard, immediately called to his men to run to the barn and round up the deserters.

“Come out you rascals, he shouted, drawing his own heavy pistol.”You can’t hide in there – get back to camp!”

Although the privates insisted they were acting under orders from Colonel Ayres, the Provost guard was unimpressed and marched the men off toward camp at bayonet point. Ayres’s men did not return and Stenton was spared the fate of many other fine mansions in the area. Dinah was amply rewarded for her fast thinking when Dr. Logan returned home after the British evacuated Philadelphia.4

ITEM: The Soldier’s Luck snd What Was Later Called PTSD

John F. Watson, a 19th Century Philadelphia banker who had the good fortune to live in the stately brick home that housed Thomas Jefferson when the United States capital was, briefly, Germantown in 1793 (now, fittingly, the home of the Germantown Historical Society), became an amateur historian of the battle and collected reminiscences from survivors.

Some of them seemed to take on a melancholy air and to regret their impact upon the human enemy. Some of them had religious epiphanies, in one case before firing a shot.

Watson learned from talking to old timers that many a soldier, facing such a heated battle for the first time, became conscience-stricken, due to his past sins and feared for his soul.

“John Baylie, while fearlessly entering into battle, all at once, hearing one of the men in the ranks near him (a militia man), beginning to pray audibly for the salvation of those might fall, Baylie had such a conviction of his unpreparedness for death and eternity, that he felt himself tremble from head to foot under the divine power — he also ejaculated prayers — resolved instantly to kill no man — fired above his mark — became tranquil and self-possessed and went fearlessly into all danger — and as soon as he got home joined the Friends [Quakers, a pacifist Christian sect. -Ed.] in Bucks County and relinquished his pay.”5

And the consequences of PTSD were little different in 1777 than they are almost 250 years later.

Watson claimed that the man who shot General Agnew from ambush was named Hans P Boyer. He was a civilian and boasted he aimed for the star on the General’s chest. Boyer took to drinking later life and died in the poorhouse.6

General James Tanner Agnew was indeed slain by a volley fired by civilians from behind a stone wall, as the battle was all but over. He was one of many senior officers (on both sides) to fall in the fighting on 4 October 77. The fame that came from killing Agnew, an officer whose penchant for leading from the front had brought him narrow escapes and wounds at many previous battles, seems not to have done Boyer much good at all.

Notes

  1. Thomas, pp. 45-46.
  2. Thomas, p. 54.
  3. Thomas, p. 47
  4. Thomas, pp. 47-48.
  5. Thomas, p. 60.
  6. ibid.

Sources

Thomas, Ray. Washington at Germantown. Fort Washington, PA: The Bicentennial Press, 1971.

(This is a great little book about a little-known battle, complete with 20th Century photos of the significant places and surviving structures, in what was countryside in 1777 but is now, for all intents and purposes, an urban neighborhood in Philadelphia).