Jul 12, 2012

The Honey Trap or, "Why We're Broke"

Iowa again; no apologies.

Even in Hicksville a fellow can find excellent evidence to counter the widely accepted fallacy that government officials are occasionally smart enough to pour piss out of a boot.

I suppose this one caught my attention because a certain number gives me something in common with a big Iowa DNR enterprise. Calculating my income and outgo for last year, I wound up with an operating profit of $4,230.*  Coincidentally, so did the DNR owned and operated Honey Creek Resort.

There's one slight difference. I am not in hock for $30 million, meaning I don't have to stick a gun in my neighbors' ribs and lift the interest payment on $30 million from their wallets.

A few years ago DNR commissars got together with dullards in the legislature  and Governor Tom Vilsack.  There's no hard evidence they were smoking, drinking, or injecting mind-altering substances at the party, but you can be forgiven for harboring suspicion because, collectively,  they decided they were experts in the resort business. A flurry of architecting and market studying and public relationing followed. And borrowing.

In 2006 Honey Creek Resort opened its mortgaged doors down on Lake Rathbun, itself a government invention. (The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ignored the banjos and throttled the unobjectionable little Chariton River. I don't really know why. The best guess seems to be a Corps of Engineers desired to economically stimulate itself by giving the Corps of Engineers something new to  manage, but that's a subject for another essay.)

And the Honey joint has been sucking on taxpayers ever since. Even the DNR admits it and in a left-handed way concedes there is no exit strategy.  New DNR Boss Chuck Gipp:

Some legislators have argued Honey Creek should be sold. Gipp says the state should keep it. “At this point in time, unless there’s somebody that comes along and is willing to pay what the worth of what that facility is, we’re not going to sell it at 10-cents-on-the-dollar. That would be foolish,” 

Mr. Gipp, incidentally, is a conservative small-government Republican. He was in the legislature when the Honey Creek Dacha was approved. He voted to sign my name to the IOU. If he's embarrassed that the asset is now worth 10 per cent of the debt, it doesn't show.

As I say, it's only a little Iowa issue, but, 'course, if you root around in your own state's forays into enterprises requiring several sentient neurons, who knows what you might find. Thirty million here, thirty million there -- pretty soon you're talking about enough money to send a First Lady on a couple-three vacations.

*An estimate. If an audit proves it unreliable, I claim the same poetic license His Ineptness gets when he reports, oh, say, the unemployment or inflation statistics.

Jul 11, 2012

F**king deafie?

A deaf man says he was clearing  airport security at Louisville when TSA agents (1) robbed him of his candy (2) laughed at him for being deaf and (3) called him a "fucking deafie." He reported it on his blog, then, according to Reason magazine, got to thinking about the TSA's well-known lust for revenge on anyone who questions the way it executes its holy mission and took the post down.

I will suffer all the Godwin jeers anyone cares to hurl in order to pose a question.

In 1938 or so a German Brown Shirt got quite a bang out of taunting Jewish humans as "fucking Juden." In 2012 American TSA agents get off by ridiculing deaf humans as "fucking deafies."   What distinguishes the  the American from the Nazi?

Reserving the right to edit my views if I'm wrong in taking the report at face value, I hereby withdraw a semi-apology I once wrote for endorsing those who think Thomas Jefferson is spinning in his grave, justifiably screaming, "What's taking you so long?"

My Pants Fell Down (and other laments)

1. A vast lethargy has overcome Camp J and all who inhabit it. As Commandant, I can take comfort only in the fact that I seem to recline, motionless, a little less than New Dog Libby. And it isn't even hot.

2. Today's duty Wranglers were well-fitted when new, and my mirror image (full-frontal disgust) reveals no substantial chassis changes. Further, the belt fastens in the same hole as it has for a very long time. Further further, the jeans were barely burdened. A thin sheaf of small bills, the Buck Squire 501,  and one pair of 14-inch Diamond channel-locking pliers. Yet my pants fell on the short walk from the shop bench to the hose bib. Only reliable elastic on my shorts prevented revelation of gross cleavage to revolted passers-by. (Boxers or briefs? None of your damned business.) I conclude that my butt is shrinking. I am unable to assign meaning to the fact.

3.  The wardrobe malfunction occurred as I was fixing a hose connection. The outrage leading to the entire incident was almost  -- but, alas, not quite -- enough to get my heart started. Upon investigation I discovered the washer inside the plastic 37-function nozzle from WalMart (I suppose) was likewise plastic. Meaning that after one months use it would seal fluids only at and above the viscosity level of hot asphalt. Replacing it with a Luddite's rubber, I tried to work up enough ill-will to avenge myself by finding the guy who decided that melted Sprite bottles could be turned into sealing washers and shoot him. Couldn't.

4. And that made me feel guilty about something else. This is but the second post of July, A.D. 2012.  Meaning I have gone days and days without trying to ridicule  the Court of His Ineptness, without sprinkling even a little scorn on the 535 congresssslugs and zoning administrators and  like vermin. What a sad dereliction of muh sworn duty.

To bring this all together, I must note that meaningful social comment here in the Age of AmSoc requires deep feelings of hatred and bile combined with a willingness to engage in what, in other circumstances, would be unforgivable lapses into vulgar, thoughtless, and cruel means of expression.

Guys, I just can't do it lately, so I'm all like WTF!? Is my reservoir of  noble muckraking venom in my ass which, as I mentioned above, seems to be shrinking?

(If so, does Obamacare cover it?)

Jul 7, 2012

Winchester 1897

We begin with the gun, a Findy Sickle piece, celebrating its 111th birthday this year, born only three years after William Randolph Hearst started the Spanish-American war in order to allow Teddy Roosevelt to become president.

Winchester Model 1897, serial number C158xxx, one of about one million examples of this design from the brain of John M. Browning, PBUH. It is long-tomish with a 32-inch barrel, full choked in 12 gauge. (Boys, ya wanna see my bran' new goose gun?)

I've owned a few of them over the years, generally picked up as lagniappe  in multi-gun swaps or from folks who just didn't care to have rusty old guns cluttering the place. I bought them cheap, enjoyed them for a little while, and swapped them off. The only real attraction for me is the connection with my earliest days in the field, the times before I was allowed to carry a gun, that awkward stage when a little  boy was trusted to walk along in the line of  party-hunting adults as a sort of bi-pedal pheasant flusher, actually cheaper than a good dog because the folks were stuck with feeding me anyway. A fair number of the adults carried Model 97s. The majority, armed only with single-shot H&Rs  and the like, were jealous of the six-shot firepower. We bare-handed kids were even more so.

One other thing. I loved the exposed hammer, and I still do -- on any firearm -- despite their snagginess and mostly mythical safety flaws.The ability to see at the briefest glance that the gun is ready or not ready to go bang is part of my personal   security blanket.


(Isn't that a whole lot of wind about a common old gun, Jim? Especially one pretty well clapped out from a century of rattling around in duck boats and Model-A trunks?)

Yeah, I guess so, but it gives me a chance to bloviate on the transaction which brought her to the Camp J Armory.

We were at Cabela's in the northern Minneapolis slurbs. It's sort of a tradition when the family gathers in St. Cloud. We never buy much, but I do like wandering aisles and marveling at how many thousands of dollars folks are urged to spend in pursuit of the simple outdoor life. (Remind me to report on the absolutely indispensable $75 walking stick one of these days.)

This time, Number Two Grandson and I went directly to the gun section. The first thing catching my eye was the '97, and I idly checked the price tag. Ahem. $99?? I can make a buck on that. Or maybe, at that price,  it would be nice to grace the wall under the Maynard Reese (Nine Travelers --Canada Geese  708/950.)

I took it to a clerk who popped the trigger lock so I could see how bad the action was. The forearm was chipped, and its screws to action bar were missing. That's it. It would go bang. I frowned disgustedly anyway. The clerk said, "Maybe we can do something about the price."

Eh? Dicker in a Big Box?? I will be damned.

So I pretended to examine it in greater detail, sighing knowledgeably while finger-tapping the deeper dings.

"Well, if $70 will buy it, I'll take it."  Clerk and gun disappear for a couple of minutes.

"Seventy is fine."

He directed me to the computer  where I entered the 4473 information, permitting the Cabela's Bureaucratic Compliance Officer to check me out with Eric Holder and, not so incidentally, with all of the credit bureaus. Cabala's is smart. The same information that squares me with the BATFEIEIO justifies me with the usury industry, but I didn't think of that at the time.

The paperwork was cleared and I reached for "money" in the form of Federal Reserve Cartoons. Mr. Clerk stopped me. "Sir, you have been pre-approved for a Cabela's Visa card. "

"No thanks."

"But it comes with a $20 gift certificate."

"Uhhh,  does that mean I can deduct the $20 from the price of this gun."

"Yes sir. It does."


And that's how I walked out of a giant super store with a $50* Model 1897 Winchester and a brand new credit card with a limit astronomically high  considering my unimpressive personal circumstances.  In this narrow matter, I am even smarter than Cabela's because the plastic is and will remain TDY in a forgotten drawer corner.

Minor gunsmithing to ensue, followed by a nostalgic bout of scattering small pieces of toxic lead around the countryside. It's okay. No condors in these here parts.


*(Plus, of course, $3.50 for the state which, I am convinced, will use the money to further its efforts to persuade every Minnesota driver he or she is operating the only vehicle on the road.)