Friday, February 12, 2016

obama Sends Combat Troops To Non-War

While Trump, Cruz, Bernie, hillary, and the rest of the clowns are stealing everyone's attention, barry is slipping this kind of crap under the radar.

With War in Afghanistan over, Army prepares to send Infantry Battalion to Helmand Province

Yeah, that confused the heck outta me, too. I didn't know the Afghanistan war was over. Did we win?

It turns out that the war is still very much ongoing.

From the New York Times:
It will be the largest deployment of American troops outside major bases in Afghanistan since the end of the NATO combat mission in 2014. Though the military insists that the soldiers will not take active combat roles, American Special Operations forces have increasingly been drawn into the fighting in Helmand as one important district after another has fallen or been threatened by Taliban insurgents.
"the military insists that the soldiers will not take active combat roles"

I sure hope that doesn't mean they can't shoot back if someone shoots at them. Considering some of the ludicrous ROEs they had to operate under in the past, that's not a given. In fact, it wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that the State Department finally got around to designating ISIS in Afghanistan as a "Foreign Terrorist Organization."
... the change now means that U.S. forces can actively pursue ISIS elements and attack them as a threat to the United States. Previous rules of engagement required ISIS elements to first pose a threat to U.S. forces in the area...

But I digress. Back to the main story.
Col. Michael T. Lawhorn, a spokesman for the United States military in Afghanistan, said in a statement that the new deployment would provide protection for the current Special Operations troops in Helmand and give extra support and training for the 215th Corps of the Afghan National Army. Afghan forces in Helmand have taken heavy casualties in recent months and have been cut off by the Taliban in many places.
This seems a little oddly worded, but it looks like maybe the new troops will take over some of the force protection (i.e. Guard Towers) around base, freeing up some Special Ops guys to go do what they do best, ventilate bad guys.  And maybe some will be embedded with Afghan units?  It's really not too clear.

The Guardian out of UK had a bit more to note about the oddity of providing combat troops to what is not supposed to be combat:
In keeping with Barack Obama’s formal declaration that the US is not engaged in combat, despite elite forces recently participating in an hours-long battle in Helmand, defense officials said the additional troops would not take part in combat. But they will help the existing Helmand force defend itself against Taliban attacks, officials said.
Clear as mud. It's awfully damn hard to accomplish the mission when no one knows what the mission is.

Sounds like another typical obama flustercluck... with our troops left holding the bag, as usual.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Fix Is In

At first glance, it looks like Bernie Sanders is threatening hillary's triumphant march to the democrat nomination. After all, he almost pulled off a stunning upset in Iowa (notwithstanding suspicions that the outcome was rigged by hillary's supporters), and he beat hillary 2-1 in New Hampshire. But despite his edge in the popular vote, he's way behind in delegates who will actually vote for him.

Clinton Has 45-To-1 'Superdelegate' Advantage Over Sanders
Among (already-selected "superdelegates"), Clinton leads Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders 359 to 8, according to an AP survey of the group that will help elect the nominee at the Democratic National Convention in July...

The 712 superdelegates, though, are still only less than a third of the 2,382 total delegates needed to win the nomination. The rest will be determined, in part, by actual results in the primaries and caucuses...

But these numbers mean Clinton has already gotten 15 percent of the delegates needed — two months before any voting has begun. In other words, Clinton starts with a 15 percentage point head start over Sanders.
So just who exactly are these "superdelegates?"
In the Democratic Party, superdelegates are current or former party leaders, including governors, senators, representatives, and former presidents and vice presidents. These superdelegates, 712 in all, aren't bound by primaries or caucus results to cast their votes — they can vote for whomever they want at the party convention in July.
In other words, they are the democrat party establishment. And they aren't about to hand over their party to some wacky old socialist from a tiny northeastern state. So don't get too excited about the hillary express getting derailed by some aging hippy. It ain't gonna happen. (More here.) (h/t Toejam)

Unless she gets indicted. Then all bets are off...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

See You Later

I don't know this kid or his history, but I'm not sure he deserves facing a felony charge for what seems like a youthful, albeit misguided, prank. And yes, given the time of the event - 1:20 a.m. - I'm sure alcohol was involved.

Man charged with throwing alligator into Wendy's drive-through
Alligators have been used as shoes, briefcases, university mascots, lunch and now, authorities say, a deadly weapon.

Joshua James, 24, was arrested Monday and charged with assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill after Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officials say he threw a 3 1/2-foot-long alligator through a Wendy's drive-through window in Palm Beach County...
Wildlife officer Nicholas Guerin said in his report that James drove his pickup truck to the window at about 1:20 a.m. Oct. 11. After an employee handed James his drink, he threw the alligator through the window and drove off. No one was hurt...
Guerin wrote that James admitted throwing the alligator in a December interview. He said James told him he had found the alligator on the side of the road and put it in his truck.

James P. Ross, a professor emeritus at the University of Florida's Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, said a 3 1/2-foot alligator would likely weigh about 20 to 30 pounds, and its hard body could deliver quite a jolt if it struck someone.

He said the gator's bite would be comparable to a dog's and would be unlikely to cause serious injury or snap off a finger, although it could tear tendons. Perhaps the biggest concern would be infection if a bite went untreated, he said.
Side note:
Q: How do you tell the difference between an alligator and a crocodile?
A: You'll see one later, and the other after a while .

Q: What do you call a thieving alligator?
A: A crookodile.

A man walked into a Florida bar with his alligator and asked the bartender, "Do you serve lawyers here?"

The bartender replied, "Sure."

The man said, "Good. One beer for me and a lawyer for my alligator."


I've done stupider things in the wee hours of the morning after more beers than was wise. Punish the guy by making him mop the Wendys restrooms after it closes, or by having him tend to the gators at the local zoo, or something along those lines. Don't saddle him with a felony for booze-induced bad judgement.

Booze-induced bad judgement. That's what led to my first marriage...

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I Have A Dream

Many of us have long wondered why hillary hasn't been indicted yet for her blatant disregard of laws governing national security and classified information. The easy answer, of course, is that the Justice Department, staffed by obama drones, would never let such an embarrassment come to pass. But with the latest revelation that barry himself emailed hillary at her unsecured private email account, and that at least 18 of those emails are classified, raises a more interesting and troubling possibility - one that might have significant constitutional implications.

Obama may be Ensnared in the Clinton Email Scandal
Perhaps President Obama’s involvement is the reason that the FBI has not yet referred charges to the Justice Department in the Hillary Clinton email case.  It may be metastasizing so quickly and so dangerously that not only are agents and lawyers within the agency having trouble keeping up with new evidence of wrongdoing, but that the scandal itself now threatens a constitutional crisis.  The Department of State’s refusal to release 18 emails exchanged between President Obama and Clinton through her unsecured home server at best creates a conflict of interest for Obama while at worst it raises the likelihood that the President has run afoul of national security laws and ought to be impeached.
(Obama had originally said he learned about the private email through new reports -- a typical Obama story -- but backtracked later.)

... It seems quite likely that in the eighteen emails classified information was discussed as conceived under federal statutes, and (under) one of Obama’s own executive orders regarding dissemination of foreign intelligence...

Beneath all Clinton’s implausible denials and claims of right wing persecution, behind Josh Earnest’s improper insistence that nothing really serious is going on at the FBI, is the very real possibility that Clinton has now enmeshed the President into her scandalous intrigues, with serious constitutional implications.  Obama cannot ethically continue to preside over this investigation (which, effectively, he does as the chief executive.)   But removing himself would require Obama to actually care about the ethics of the matter, and secondly potentially expose himself to criminal liability.   The situation is quite akin to the Watergate scandal at this point, in that government officials have hidden or erased potentially damaging documents, and the President effectively presides over investigations that could subject him, aides, and former aides, to criminal liability.
FBI Director James Comey appears to long have had sufficient evidence to charge Clinton, but seemingly has so far been stayed by countervailing influences.  On the one hand there are obvious political concerns and pressures.   On the other is a continuing flow of evidence against Clinton that only makes the case against her stronger.  But the Obama emails now complicate the case to an extraordinary degree.  Does Comey have them, and if not, has he demanded them?  If Obama refuses, then the President is effectively hiding probative evidence.

If Comey were to get the emails, and they did contain born classified information (as is likely) it would be difficult for Comey to proceed against Clinton without implicating Obama.  Almost certainly, the Obama Justice Department would never pursue a prosecution that exposed him to criminal liability.

... the only other way to achieve a semblance of justice might be through Congressional action.  Obama would then have to formally invoke executive privilege to hide the emails, which would strongly echo Nixonian tactics and be politically damaging, though Republicans would be at risk too.  Hillary would certainly claim that Congressional hearings prove the whole affair is political after all, and the Democrats would try to stymie matters and use the mainstream media to vilify Republicans as they always do.  
All this makes FBI Director Comey’s situation increasingly untenable.  He knows now that there is no way Attorney General Loretta Lynch can fairly and properly evaluate the evidence his agents are fast compiling.  If he continues to hesitate, due to political pressure or in hopes of building the perfect case, the situation will fester and worsen.  If Comey is really the stand-up guy that many say, he will act soon, in order to force the hands of Lynch and Obama, put Hillary in the legal peril that she has earned, and Obama in jeopardy too if that is where the evidence leads.  In the probable event the administration does nothing or pushes back against an FBI referral, Comey will have to resign, and Congress will have to act.
Just to make things more interesting, all of this is taking place during a presidential election campaign. I know it's highly unlikely, but thinking about the possibility of hillary winning the democrat nomination and then getting indicted brings a huge smile to my face. The fact that obama might get dragged into the whole mess makes that smile even wider.

As an added bonus, that smile makes my wife wonder what I've been up to...

Monday, February 8, 2016

Weekend Update

Saturday the wife and I completed the NRA Basic Pistol Shooting Course. She wanted to become more familiar with handguns, and I know better than to try and teach her myself.

We spent the morning in a classroom setting learning how to handle firearms safely, understanding the difference between revolvers and semi-automatics, becoming familiar with firearms care and maintenance, and getting a grasp of shooting fundamentals (stance, grip, sight picture, trigger control, breath control). After a nice lunch it was off to the range, where we whiled away the afternoon pleasantly punching various sized holes in paper. The weather couldn't have been better - clear blue skies, light wind, and just enough coolness in the air to make a long-sleeved shirt comfortable.

The good news is that she is now more comfortable handling handguns. The bad news (well, it's not really all that bad) is that she wants her own pistol. I'm more than happy to add another gun to 'our' collection.

She struggled with operating the slide on most of the semi-autos we fired, so she's in the market for a revolver. The one she gravitated towards was a S&W 442.

It fit her hand nicely, she was able to handle the recoil without trouble, and the bullets went where she aimed. It's a lightweight (aluminum alloy frame) DAO .38 with a shrouded hammer. The trigger pull out of the box is a little heavy (around 12-14 pounds), but I think we'll wait and see how it is after a couple of hundred practice rounds before we think about a trigger job.

Thankfully, she isn't attracted to cute pink guns.

In other news, I ran across this tidbit buried in the back pages of Sunday's newspaper.

Tunisia completes construction of Libya border fence
Tunisia's defense minister has visited an anti-jihadi fence that's being built on the country's border with Libya to stop Islamist militants from entering Tunisian territory.

Defense Minister Farhat Horchani inspected the first completed part of the 196-kilometer (122-mile) fence Saturday, which aims to counter the threat from jihadi militants and render the entire border impassable by vehicles. Horchani said the project came about with financial assistance from Germany and the U.S. (emphasis added)
In other words, our country is willing to spend money to help secure the borders of a country half way around the world from us, but is not willing to do the same thing here at home.


Tunisian border fence built with U.S. funds

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sunday Funnies 2016.02.07

Today is Super Bowl Sunday. Guess what the topic is...?

First, let's pick on the quarterbacks.
The Broncos’ Peyton Manning admitted being told he will probably need hip replacement surgery in future. Fortunately, he'll have access to the best paleontologists.

Q: Did you hear about the joke that Peyton Manning told his receivers?
A: It went over their heads.

Q: What's the difference between Cam Newton and a mosquito?
A: Mosquitoes are only annoying in the summer.

Q: Where do quarterbacks go when they get old?
A: Out to pass-ture.

Old quarterbacks never die. They just pass away.
Of course, quarterbacks wouldn't be able to pass with offensive linemen.
Pro linemen are so huge that it takes only four of them to make a dozen.

I thought one of the linemen had a tattoo on his leg but it turned out to be a government meat inspection stamp.

Q: What do you call a lineman’s kids?
A: Chips off the old blocker.

Enjoy the game!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Wordless Saturday

Because I have other things to do...

Friday, February 5, 2016

I Love This Idea

The problem:
Congress passes huge bills, like Obamacare or the recent omnibus spending bill, that contain hundreds of provisions, and occupy thousands of pages — or tens of thousands if you include the ensuing pages of regulations. These bills are so long that literally no one has read the whole thing. They’re not so much bills, really, as Christmas trees on which lobbyists and legislators hang their goodies...

Legislators, and special interests, have a vested interest in sticking together and being sure that the whole bill passes. Individually, most of these lousy provisions wouldn’t pass, but when banded together for mutual protection they can...

... Often, most of the provisions are written by lobbyists and inserted by tame members of Congress. The public isn’t really represented at all. That’s not an accident — it’s by design.
The solution:
... This month, Representative Mia Love, a Republican from Utah, proposed H.R. 4335: One Subject at a Time Act. If passed, the bill would officially limit subsequent legislation to covering one subject at a time, therefore blocking lawmakers from trying to cram gratuitous amendments into unrelated bills... It all seems like a smart way to keep politics a little more honest.
Yes it does, but...
That doesn’t mean D.C. politicians are going to go for it, though. (Some) will oppose it because they’ve personally benefited from the existing loopholes... (Others) aren't going to be keen on this idea since it would inevitably require more work... the process of voting on each topic one vote at a time would prove significantly more time consuming for members of Congress...
That would certainly cut into their boondoggles and reelection efforts.
It also doesn’t help that both major political parties participate in adding “pork” to bills that are considered “must-pass,” meaning that no one’s going to vote against multi-billion dollar budget proposals just because a politician snuck in $2 million for his town to have a government-funded water taxi service...

Love is not the first person in Congress to advocate for this type of change. This past summer, Senator Rand Paul introduced “One Subject at a Time” legislation from his end in the Senate, though his bill never made it through committee. A noted advocate for political transparency, Paul believes that making bills one topic at a time will allow citizens to better understand what’s actually being voted on..
He's right, of course, but that doesn't mean diddly-squat when it comes to the fat cats in D.C.
While Love has eleven cosponsors on her bill, none of them are Democrats. Despite this issue being nonpartisan in theory, it’s probably not something that liberals would push for while they’re in the minority in Congress. If lawmakers had to vote on each item in a budget separately, organizations like Planned Parenthood probably wouldn’t stand a chance, whereas Democrats can currently defend it as part of a bipartisan compromise in a larger spending bill.

As such, political analysts give the bill essentially no chance of passing. Maybe Love should try slipping H.R. 4335 into more popular legislation!
More on H.R. 4335 - it would:
Require that each bill enacted by Congress be limited to only one subject;
End the practice of attaching controversial legislation to unrelated, must-pass bills;

Require the subject of a bill to be clearly state in its title;

Make void in appropriations bills, general legislation that does not pertain to the underlying (appropriations) bill;
Make the legislative process more transparent to the public

Importantly, the bill also provides for judicial review, allowing a court to strike legislation that doesn’t comply.
Our traditional legislative process has gradually broken down over the years  with the growth of gigantic omnibus bills. Once the beltway sleazeballs realized they could get away with it, this all-inclusive CYA approach to legislation became the norm.
As Rep. Love notes, this is how we wound up with an enormous debt and with a Congress that few Americans respect.

Getting the bill passed is a long shot, but it damn sure is worth a try. I've already contacted my congresscritter urging him to support it. I strongly suggest you do the same.

Side note: here's a picture of Rep. Love (R-Utah). Not what I expected, but a great illustration that the republicans aren't a good ol' boys club.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

I've Seen This Movie

U.S. troops are gearing up for a major offensive in Iraq. The objective is to gain control of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city.
The 101st Airborne Division will serve an integral role in preparing Iraqi ground troops to expel the Islamic State group from Mosul, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the division’s soldiers Wednesday during a visit to Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Some 1,800 soldiers from the 101st’s Headquarters and its 2nd Brigade Combat Team will deploy soon on regular rotations to Baghdad...
Why does that sound familiar? Oh, yeah...
The 101st in April 2003 captured and took responsibility for Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, during America’s initial invasion at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The division’s upcoming deployment will be its first return to Iraq since it completed its second rotation there at the end of 2006...
Isn't that the definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
... Removing the Islamic State group from its “power bases” in Mosul and Raqqa, Syria, will greatly aid in eliminating the terror organization from other parts of the world, including North Africa and Afghanistan, where it has gained influence in the last year.

Outside of its stronghold in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State group is “continually evolving, changing focus and shifting location,” Carter said, and he vowed the United States would do more to increase the fight in places such as Afghanistan and Libya, where the organization has grown.
But, but ... I thought obama said that ISIS was contained. I guess he meant that they were contained in key cities and much of the Iraqi countryside - along with broad swaths of Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, East Africa, and parts of Europe.

Not to mention Paris and San Bernardino...

Meanwhile, Carter acknowledged for the first time on Wednesday that previously announced special operation forces were in place in Iraq and Syria.

The new Expeditionary Targeting Force of special operators tasked with working with Iraqi forces to conduct raids on key Islamic State figures, which Carter announced early last month, is also in place, he said.

The addition of the special operation forces along with the uptick in airstrikes, Carter said, is straining the Islamic State organization in Iraq and Syria.

It has “become apparent that the additional military steps that President [Barack] Obama approved in the fall are generating significant momentum across the battlefield in Iraq and Syria,” Carter said. “Moreover, we can see that our actions to accelerate the campaign are having an effect, and creating opportunities to do even more.

“We are taking ground back from the enemy and gaining openings to take more.”
That would be a lot easier to believe if it wasn't the first time we've heard it.

On a serious note, the human costs of what has become known as The Forever War are staggering. The dead and wounded are bad enough, but those who return physically whole, and those left behind at home, also pay a price. Please consider giving them a helping hand if you can.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Barbarians At The Gate

Okay, so they're not really barbarians. Instead, they're repairmen here to fix our gate. But I really like the phrase "Barbarians at the gate," so I used that for the title. Hey, it's my blog - I can do what I want.


Our driveway is a few hundred yards long. We cross-fenced where the house is, mainly so we can keep our dogs from running amok. Since I am by nature lazy a strong proponent of conserving energy, about 15 years ago we installed a solar powered electric gate where the driveway crosses the fence line. That way I can open and close the gate without getting out of my truck, simply by clicking a button on a small remote control unit, very similar to an automatic garage door opener. (Yes, I have one of those as well. Like I said, it's all about conserving energy.)

The gate opener has performed admirably. We've had to replace the battery a couple of times, but other than that maintenance and repairs have been minimal. Until Friday.

Friday I clicked my remote and the gate began to open. It got about halfway and then stopped. Frozen in place, it would neither open nor close, regardless of how frequently or how hard I pressed that button, or how eloquently I cussed. (Side note: my wife insists that the fierceness with which one presses a button has no effect on how well it functions. I disagree. It's one of the few issues on which we differ.) (/sarc)

So I got out my trusty tool box and disconnected the arm that moves the gate to and fro. Opening the control box revealing nothing obviously amiss. There were no loose wires, no scorched circuit boards, the battery terminals were nice and shiny, and the battery charge read "full." That's the limit of my fix-it-yourself knowledge, so I called the gate repair shop. They sent someone out later that afternoon. In short order he informed me that (1) the electric motor that opens and closes the gate was burned out; (2) a replacement motor was not readily available (because the unit was so old); and (3) they could get a replacement motor, but it would cost almost as much as installing a whole new unit.

Besides, with a new unit we could download an app onto our smart phones that will enable us to open, close, and monitor the status of our gate from anywhere in the world. I can't tell you how many times I've been in BFE and wondered whether the gate was open or closed. Now, thanks to the miracle of modern technology, I can not only find out, I can change its status. Oh happy day!

There was, however, one little detail that we didn't know about until today, when installation of the new unit began. In the 15+ years since we installed the original gate, the federal government has determined that a powered gate like ours is actually a death trap. I could potentially crush a slow-moving, feeble, and unobservant person in its mighty jaws of death between the gate and the gate post. Never mind that it has a "bump" override feature that causes it to reverse its motion if it hits something before it fully closes (like an elevator door that opens if it hits something before it shuts). No, the feds have now mandated that there be a positive connection between the gate and the gate post.

Think of an automatic garage door opener. Not only does it have that "bump" override, it also has an electric eye. When the beam of light is broken between the sensor and the control unit, the door reverses course, even if it hasn't hit anything. Now an automatic gate must have the same 'double safety.'

However, unlike a garage door opener, where you can simply staple a wire up, across, and down the garage wall, a gate sensor requires cutting across the driveway with a concrete saw, laying conduit in the resulting trench, and then covering it up with a bead of asphalt. Oh, I guess I could have strung a wire high up across the driveway, but that would necessitate setting a couple of posts into the ground. Even then, I'd be left with a wire dangling up in the air, and inevitably someone with a tall truck would come along and knock it down, or an ice storm (rare, but we do occasionally get them here) would deposit enough ice on the wire to bring it down.

Alternatively, we could have just laid the conduit on top of the ground, but that leads to a whole different set of risks, from rodents (or dogs) chewing through it, to snagging it with a tractor, or some other mishap. So burying it seems to be the best long-term solution.

It is also, of course, the most expensive.

Our new driveway asphalt patch.

The complete new unit, including (1) the safety sensor (boy, I feel safer already); (2) the new motor and drive arm; (3) the new control box; and (not numbered) the new solar panel.

And of course, no new motorized gate would be complete without an official government warning label. BTW, that sign was in the trash before the repairman's truck hit the end of the driveway.

On the bright side, as you can see from the pictures, today's weather was gorgeous - sunny with a high in the low 70s. Great day to sit outside with a cold beer and watch someone else work...