Feb 28, 2013

Fire a cop; save a life

I've encountered the Iowa Highway Patrol twice in recent years. The first happened as I was on my way home from the  2011  GOP straw poll. Tired in the wee hours, I pulled into an interstate rest area for a nap. A young highway officer woke me with a flashlight tap on a window. He gave me time to collect my thoughts, explained he was responding to a 911 hangup, and wondered if I'd seen anything. "Nothing much, just a couple of stray dogs running around." We chatted a minute or two,  and he very politely left with, "Thank you for talking to me."

The next one was less pleasant. Flashing lights invited me to  stop and discuss my speed.  The veteran IHP cop claimed 70. I stood firm on 69, at most, and (accurately) blamed it on simple inattention, the Hedda Pass excuse. We arrived at a reasonable compromise. He wrote the ticket  for 6-10 over rather than the much more expensive 11-OMG over. I departed angry only with myself. The natty officer did what he gets paid to do, levy the speed tax to fatten the Iowa treasury.

The point here is my personal view that most highway patrol guys are not unpleasant people and, in fact, are among our most intelligent and professional Only Ones.

Until, that is, you take a look at their  collective behavior as expressed through their union as blared in the headline: Number of state troopers down nearly 100 since 2000. 

 "Iowa State Troopers Association president Darin Snedden (said). '…Our state needs to increase our trooper numbers by 87.' In 2000, there were 455 troopers on the state payroll. As of February 1st of this year, there were 363 state troopers on the job in Iowa. That’s 92 fewer troopers than there were 13 years ago.

The implication is that motoring Iowans are at greater risk in proportion fewer officers. He wants $13 million to hire about 90 more, but  here the Smokey Union butts up against the statistics:

In 2000 -- the base comparison year Mr.Snedden cites -- we had 455 speed cops and 445 traffic deaths.

In 2012 we had  363 cops and 362 fatal crashes.

Hence, using the sort of logic loved by our political class, the more cops, the the  more deaths. It's probably just a statistical quirk  that the ratio of police manpower reductions to reduced traffic deaths approaches 1:1.


Of course my analysis is silly when applied to the issue at hand.   All sorts of things affect road deaths, and -- while I doubt it -- perhaps hiring a few more highway enforcers is a wise use of money.

But it does illustrate the mindset of the ruling political class -- "We can say any damned thing we want because the proles are too lazy and stupid to check the numbers. They think math is too hard."

Feb 26, 2013

Blog spam

I've trashed a few comments lately, all of them spam.  Apparently a few unevolved life forms have doped out a way of evading the Blogger filter. May they choke on their dingleberries.

Darwin at work in the frozen North

Strapping on a 9mm pistol, getting drunk, then crashing your snowmobile may not be the best idea a guy ever had.  If the cops and reporters have it right, that's what a fellow did last week. He dumped his sled in an "open field"  down near Storm Lake, badly injuring his back-seat lady. Officers charged him with OWI, and:

"In addition, authorities discovered ------  had a concealed 9 millimeter handgun on his person. Authorities say (he) had a valid permit to carry the gun, but when a person is intoxicated that permit is NOT valid, as well as when operating a snowmobile. An additional charge of carrying a concealed weapon was filed...".

I have no problem with the carrying-while-puked charge. Our two-year-old shall-issue law permits carry while sipping in bars and restaurants, but the second you hit .08 on the  joy meter your CCW becomes worthless. That strikes me as reasonable. I never found great fault with one of the old NRA "10 rules" which said firearms and booze don't mix.

The carrying while snowmobiling or ATVing prohibition is part of DNR law {Iowa Code § 321G.13(2)} and is more debatable. A permit holder would seem to be no more danger to man or beast  on a sled than at the wheel of a rust-bucket Ford Ranger with giant wheels,  4x4,  and an aftermarket Zoomenkrash 460 V-8. 


I haven't kept close track of the gun bills in the Iowa legislature this session. For that you go to Stranded in Iowa. From what I have been following, it appears that there won't be much, if any, gun-law change this session. Our pols are fully occupied bickering about education reform (stop giggling), property tax relief (dammit, I told you to stop), and what to do with our modest budget surplus. About the only consensus of that last point is that we shouldn't give it to His Ineptness  even though he badly needs it to buy votes from union ship welders in tidewater Virginia.

Feb 25, 2013

Whinny whinny

I woke up with the darndest urge to buck somebody off and crap in the middle of the street.  In broad daylight, mind you.

it took a minute to clear my mind and remember that I supped on Swedish meatballs from IKEA.

Poor Trigger.

I conclude that the Swedes sequestered a bunch of krona, forcing the layoff of all their royal meat inspectors.


Feb 22, 2013

Gun Buyback Logic

A nice quick take from my friend JAGS down in Texas.

Participating in a gun buy back because you believe that the criminals have too many guns is like having yourself castrated because you believe that the neighbors have too many kids.

Feb 21, 2013

Sexy me

Some childhood values linger into the mature years. A three-year-old with a cut finger will tour the neighborhood showing off his bandage.

Me? I have a romantic limp. Your place or mine, Baby?


It's been 20 days since the power dive on ice, and the charlie horse is still giving me an excuse to carry the Celtic-American assault stick occasionally.

There's no disabling weakness, just pain varying from mild to sit your butt down right now.  It seems to be getting better. At least sporadically. Yesterday was pretty comfortable and  ibuprofen-free. This morning four tabs seemed like a wonderful idea. Carrying in that arm load of oak last evening was possibly a poor health-care decision.

Travis McGee nailed it. When you hurt yourself, you turn inward, listening hard for all the little signals about the status of  the precious and irreplaceable me.  So you don't do anything else  properly, including your sworn duty.

For instance, I've given Shotgun Joe a complete pass on his directive that you must meet a lethal threat by carrying a double barrel shotgun to the veranda and firing randomly into the air. That's purdey stupid, and I'll be glad when I'm fit enough to comment on it.

Feb 15, 2013

More media gun grind

One of my MSM moles is a hunter who owns a few fine shotguns and a couple of semi-auto pistols. However, he would be the first to disclaim any expert knowledge of firearms technology, nomenclature,  and law.

The trouble is, he's one of those retro types who believes that  words appearing in  media reports ought to be within at least a long pistol shot of truth. So when the news involves guns, he is quite willing to ask questions before typing. He is also developing a good eye for even the smaller inanities and is nice enough to pass them on to me for my amusement. Such as:

…From (an AP)  story today on a shooting in R---------.

"Detectives combed a six-block area for spent gun casings and……. ."

I would think a "gun casing" would be big and pretty easy to find.


Me too, and since he has set out to improve the accuracy of firearms reporting in his news room, he received this response:

(sigh) While you're educating your colleagues on Elementary Firearms Studies 101 (remedial), maybe this will help them remember:

"Guns sometimes go in cases which are quite rarely spent. So do the bullets and powder which make up ammunition, which is quite often spent.  Sausage goes in casings.  Remember this and your readers won't think you're such a f-----g meathead."

I didn't suggest he print that out and post it on the bulletin board. I should have.

Feb 13, 2013

"They Deserve a Simple Vote"

And by God, Barack, with you in charge that's just what they'll get.

Feb 12, 2013

Oh shut up

I thought Spiro Agnew had a point that night in Iowa when he blasted guys like Huntley and Brinkley and Cronkite for their "instant analyses" of presidential speeches.  (Full disclosure: I'd been drinking and wasn't even in the Des Moines hall where the veep ranted. I was at Joe's  in Iowa City, recuperating from a  day of reporting the public university industry's  plans to slip another inch into the body of taxpayers. So I had to watch Spiro on Joe's black and white teevee set.)

Spiro hated television news for the wrong reasons.  Because teevee hated his meal ticket, Nixon. Logic dictates that we should hate it is because it is a community of celebrity thespians posing as an information source.

This is never more apparent than on days of high political ceremony.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The American public will get a competing mix of rhetoric and imagery in President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday, a speech that offers a heavy dose on the economy even as it plays out against a visual backdrop dominated by the current national debate over guns.

Please note the phrases "rhetoric and imagery" and  "visual backdrop."

First lady Michelle Obama will sit with the parents of a Chicago teenager shot and killed just days after she performed at the president's inauguration. Twenty-two House members have invited people affected by gun violence...That confluence of message and symbolism illustrates where Obama is in his presidency following his re-election.

When presidential  speeches deal with large problems, they ought to be analyzed, both instantly and more reflectively.  That's one of the ways we keep ourselves from being flim-flammed. But how the Hell do you analyze the face of an aggrieved mother, one eye teared up with honest grief and the other shining in the glory of being on national television? With Michelle. Herself!

You don't analyze it of course. You just hope your image consultants are correct in predicting that it will persuade x per cent more of x demographic to  jump on your bandwagon.  Or that they're incorrect, if you happen to be on the other side.

The result is a cesspool dunking of logical thought processes -- of sober discussion of what's wrong and what might fix it at what cost. One other result among decent folk is revulsion at the exploitation of ordinary people -- the real and imagined victims -- paraded before the closeup lenses to stir emotion in advancement of a political agenda.

This little essay probably ought to be written tomorrow, after the Obama performance. It is not because the ravenous goat of teevee time-filling has already begun analyzing the president's undelivered monologue. Further, it has the complete lowdown on the rebuttals from Rubio and Paul. Analyses don't get much more instant than that, do they Spiro?


As your candidate for president, I offer a partial solution. I shall decline to contribute to a great national psychodrama, the annual posture-fest posing as serious debate about  how America should administer its affairs.  At no time will I address the congress in the presence of television cameras. I will simply obey Article 2, Section 3, of the Constitution of the United States.

He (the president) shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient. 

He need not do it in a Barnum and Bailey extravaganza, in the Big Top. under the lights. He doesn't even have to do it in person. Or annually.

I will do it as often as necessary, in writing with annotated footnotes to verify or explain my factual allegations.  No pictures. None. Copies will be freely available to every citizen -- from crazed bag ladies on down to electronic news personalities and congresspersons.

I guess it is another way of  intoning my own "I have a Dreeeeeeem."  I dream of an America where citizens sit around the coffee tables with policy proposals in front of them, in large type black and white. They quietly read and think and react, "if...then..it follows."

Should they find then "then"  reasonable, they applaud and support me. Should they find it otherwise they deem me full of shit and vote for someone else.

It might help, but, of course, it might not. We should try it anyway, if only to spare ourselves the annual aesthetic embarrassment of nationally televised tears soaking through the first lady's bodice.

Feb 10, 2013

Storm Nemo and the Runway Set

A diminutive and lovely American woman in a smart Connecticut home sat out Nemo with her elderly parents. Among other things she waded through deep snow to find and clear furnace vents; she used a pole to shake snow from her service electrical lines and nearby trees.

I wasn't there, more's the pity, but there's no doubt in my mind that she needed no last-minute dash for milk and toilet paper, meaning she was no candidate for a dramatic feature story on the horrors of being  suddenly trapped in her car in a storm well-advertised for days.

With preparations made and immediately necessary actions taken, she seemed to  enjoy her little break from the outside world, laughing and joking her way through white Armageddon, warm, secure, properly fed and I confidently guess, properly wined. After all, she bears an honest Irish surname.

Meanwhile, a million less sentient northeasterners suffered --  out of Perrier, down to the last pound of lox, the electric teevee won't work, that sort of deprivation. Never mind the frantically punched wireless devices seeking word on how much they might get from FEMA as a result of living in a place where it snowed.

Still,  the Irish girl and her like represent a useful cadre of citizens, people with at least a modest ability to see more than two commercials ahead and plan for survival in comfort when nature does what it routinely does.  Their existence suggests a remaining hope for America, even in the age of Mommy Dotguv on whom all  happiness depends. (Please, Your Ineptness, make the Republicans stop causing blizzards.)  It is a cozy thought, so you shouldn't screw it up by reading the news.


At New York's Fashion Week, women tottered on 4-inch heels through the snow to get to the tents to see designers' newest collections.

Feb 9, 2013

Another loophole, another snow...

(Sorry about the title. I'm still a sucker for old show tunes.)

We have a wimpy blizzard in the forecast, but the Sioux Falls loophole is still on.  We think we can be back hearthside before the weather starts this evening. If not we'll just have to trot our our northern plains survival skills, shelter in a MacDonald's or something.

The get list is skimpy. Recent loopholes have my gun lust in reasonable check, so the only planned search is for some appropriate  .30-06 rifle powder and a couple of shell holders for my neighbor, the fresh-hatched reloader.

Naturally, I'll be alert for good deals on components for my stash, but I don't expect much. The buying panic has enveloped that supply too.

To take some .22s along or not? Last weekend I sold two boxes of Winchester Wildcats for $6 each. I got the equivalent of about $70 for a Federal 550 pack on the Speedmaster purchase. I pulled the rest,  mostly because something just felt wrong about taking that much profit.  And maybe  because the the buyers might have a better guess about the return of the bullet than I do.

AAR to follow, assuming our survival.

Feb 8, 2013

'tis the same old shellelagh...

...that my friend Bill picked up for me a few years ago. It looks neat and would make an effective backup weapon in some circumstances. Still, I don't use it much. It is primarily a decorative fashion accessory for which ever wall seems barren to me at any given time -- or sometimes as a place holder in one  gun rack or another.

Lately it's been living on its own dedicated nail in the spot handiest to the desk and used from time to achy time in the wake of an aviation accident.

The wheels-up landing from the second step of shop entry stairs scared me for longer than I like being frightened, about 60 seconds, crookedly prone on ice and frozen crushed lime pebbles. That's the time it took to inventory the parts and determine the extent to which the usual processes had been modified by percussion. Inventory complete, I hobbled to the quarters, in fact with part of the kindling I'd just cut cradled in the left arm. The right was busy steadying  this veteran carcass on whatever was handy along the way -- a tree, a vehicle, the big garbage can and, finally, the hand rail.

I built the fire, popped some ibuprofen and settled on the couch. To ER or not ER, that is the question. The answer was "not yet, anyway."

That was all a week ago tonight. The bruises have cleared up, the questionable knee again dependable and the elbow fit for lifting. What's left of the mishap is some sort of torn or pulled or otherwise disheveled muscle or tendon. If I were to describe it clinically, scientifically, I'd call it "like, y'know, a charlie horse." 

It yields to five count-em-five ibuprofen every morning and, when I'm walking a lot, a little assist from the Irish persuader.  I would carry it all the time in hopes of eliciting sincere sympathy. Unfortunately I don't travel in circles like that. ("Humph. Old fart ought to be more careful.")


If the reader believes this post is primarily for the purpose of relating a personal mishap, he or she is somewhat mistaken. Like all TMR communications, it is intended to edify. In this case on the matter of Irish weaponry and Irish history.

My shillelagh is phony, pure Midwest Brand X, like a Pakistani pocket knife.  It is the stem of a scrub cedar whereas it should be  blackthorn or, even more traditional, oak.

In the glory days of Hibernia, no Irish gentlemen would have set out for the pub without his oaken stick. Then came the bloody British looking for women prettier than their own and lumber for their ships.  They found both, captured a few our women and all of our trees. This accounts for  the blackthorn, the occasional attractive English person,  and the fact that many of you have heard of a sailor named Nelson.

Feb 7, 2013

Officer Friendly - Really

Somewhere in Douglas County, Colorado, there's a cop who should be promoted to high federal office.

Schools there are understandably worried about a copycat of the Aurora or Newtown breed.  As usual there was a lot of talk about new programs, maybe useful, maybe  not, but certainly budget-busting. Then came some one's flash of brilliance.

Every once in a while in the course of a shift, it seems, the patrol officer must take care of his paperwork. The practice had been to pull over at some handy place and do the reports.  The anonymous genius, said, "Hey. Why don't we just have  our guys do the reports in a school parking lot?"

The little kids get accustomed to blue giants with guns and probably feel quite a little more secure. The cops are that much more familiar with school layouts. Their  frequent presence should help deter all sorts of slime -- from the random kid-groper to the armed warpies bent on a celebrity farewell party.

Cost? Roughly nothing.

C'mon, media. find out who this cop is and make him famous.

Feb 5, 2013

Here's the one getting the teevee time today --  the "bi-partisan" anti-gun-tafficking bill. (PDF)

At first read it seems to echo what a number of us have been saying for decades: It makes more sense to go after bad guys than to get hysterical about the color of a gun -- or whether you keep your spare ammo in your pocket or a magazine.

Giggle-snort gun report

Multiple layers of fact checking and editorial oversight  at the New York Times:

An earlier version of this article misstated the type of weapon that President Obama fired in a photo released Saturday by the White House. It was a shotgun, not a rifle.


Some years ago a teacher's wife here went public with an anti-gun rant which included a charitable bone to us blasters. Something very like: "No one wants to take away your pistols for shooting skeet..."

The nice old lady didn't work for the New York Times. But she could have.

H/T Roberta.

Feb 4, 2013

Loophole report in, mostly, .22 LR

Scads. Hordes. Gobs. That's a former reporter's finely-honed estimate of the Saturday morning crowd size at the 80-table loophole over in Estherville. You could imagine yourself at Phoenix or Las Vegas, trying to (politely) elbow your way to the tables.

We talked with a number of people who probably never would have acted on a vague urge to "get a gun someday" were it not for the antics of Feinstein, Biden, Schumer,  &  Obama, Inc. I wonder if those clowns really know what they have done?

The psychology may be quite simple. Tell an American citizen he can't do some perfectly innocuous thing and he will grin and do it -- if only to remind the government,  "Who the Hell is in charge around here, anyway?"

We didn't notice much traffic in assaultish-looking rifles Only a few  were there, and they met resistance at the $2,000-plus askings.

But my oh my was it a different story with the Glocks and other hi-cap 9mms made of coal tar and Gorilla Glue. They moved out as fast as dealers could fill out 4473s and call NICS. (Note to Diane: These forms and the calls are how we evade the law and loophole most of our guns.) 

At our three tables, we had no truck with the 21st Century.  Two were resplendent  with the work of Genius Jeff, the gunsmith, who displayed an assortment of Lazarused Marlin lever guns, Winchester .22 pumps, and, especially, Stevens single rifles. 

The third, mine, was resplendent with what the unkind might call junk, leftover (or never wanted in the first place) shooty stuff and other items for field and stream jocks. I often set up that way because (a) it generates interesting conversations and (b) it nearly always yields enough small-denomination Federal Reserve Cartoons to finance some pleasant acquisitions. To wit:

The long drink of water is a hi-cap (16 rounds or  more) Remington Speedmaster, probably from the 60s. Didn't need it, but for an amazingly small amount of FRC "money" and a brick of .22s, I couldn't resist something so pretty.

Miss Short is, of course, a Browning Challenger, Belgian, an early piece but I don't know how early yet. Those waggish gnomes of Herstal like to get together, slurp pilsner to excess, and giggle at one another. "Hey! I'm bored. Let's make our serial numbering system even more obscure."

She joined my arsenal for a very modest dowry, but I'm afraid I stretched a sacred rule: "It is a mortal  sin to sell a gun."  I confess to  venal error. The Colt New Police  (.38 Colt /.38 SW) lives elsewhere. I rationalized the trade  --  I could shoot the Colt only by reloading for yet another caliber. Balderdash! Too many diameters already. The Browning will be shot and shot and shot.  I've coveted one for years.

Hmmm. Lots of .22s moved here lately. At least I'm ready for a gopher apocalypse.

Feb 2, 2013

Saturday Wish List

I don't think I'm a compulsive wisher, but sometimes I do get a yen for stuff.

--Like being the first guy at the garage sale to spot the old wood box containing a couple of disassembled GI Colt 1911s and most of an artillery Luger for about five bucks.

--Like having three or four fools linger at my loophole table this weekend -- guys who think that my stratospheric asking prices are really quite fair. And who, of course, are packing enough high-quality trading material to back their judgement. 

-- Like having the damned Super Bowl over. Also the post-game analyses and the extended video of the winner's homie thugs getting drunk, puking, and tipping over cars when the teevee lights go on.

Murder math in Chicago

Let me impose on your kindness. I know I'm know I'm giggling in public, a breach of taste and good manners.

Please forgive me. You see, I was just reading about Chicago, the political womb of one Barack Obama, sometimes known as His Ineptness, the lawyer-cum-neighborhood organizer. He is the politician who is, at the moment, busily explaining to us what the Constitution of the United States actually means.

As you have read, Chicago -- actually Cook County which is about the same thing --  lost a murderer the other day. The perp had been serving 60 years in an Indiana pen. Chicago borrowed him so he could be tried on an old "drug and armed violence case." Never mind that the case was closed, dismissed, six years ago. Never mind that Cook County prosecutors told Sherf Tom Dart that no prosecutor or  judge had a yen to talk with the Hoosier convict. But Sherf Tom Insisted, so the killer got a nice ride to Chicago, accompanied by a polite note from Indiana, "Y'all wanna please make sure and send this fella back when you're done with him?"

The sherf lost the paper. Somebody in uniform opened the jailhouse door and wished him  good luck. Hilarity ensued. Somebody caught the crook. Game over?

Not quite. That gradual warming trend for upper Illinois can be attributed to the hot breath of Chicago pols, screaming blame at one another. The sheriff finally admitted he and his troops were guilty of misfeasance, but not too guilty. Budget cuts, don't you know. An outdated computer. A Homeric load of work piled on his poor shoulders.

"It's our fault but we move 100,000 people a day and it's all done with paper," Dart said.

(Gratuitous full-frontal arithmetic follows. Reader discretion is advised.)

So, Sherf, you are telling us that you and your acolytes move the equivalent of the entire population of Cook County every 52 days? (5.2 million divided by 100k). Or that you can move every man, woman, and kid in Illinois  between Spring Training and the All-Star Break?  If you have enough paper, of course.

All that may be unfair to Officer Tom as a person. After all, he works in a mysterious numerical environment where a ward of 200,000 human beings can easily deliver 200,001 votes for Rahm, Daly, & Obama, Inc.

Besides, how could this Indiana killer have been part of "armed violence" in Chicago? Guns were (and generally still are) illegal there prior to McDonald, so he couldn't possibly have been armed. This principle has been carried to the White House whose occupant these days is offering it as a paradigm for America.