Jun 30, 2013

A good judge is hard to find.*

if you're looking for one, try Iowa. A guy here named David Wiggins makes his living as a supreme court justice. He keeps beating our primitives over their little statist heads, making the point that constitutions are written for reasons -- even that Fourth Amendment which makes life so inconvenient for cops.

Last week he let a drunk (but not very, .088) driver go because officers had only  a sorehead's anonymous tip to justify stopping him.

"To hold otherwise would cause legitimate concern because such tips would let the police stop persons on anonymous tips that might have been called in for vindictive or harassment purposes or based solely on a hunch or rumor." 

Thank you, Your Honor.

If you're interested in a a lucid explanation of some constitutional limits on a cop's authority to invade your privacy, the Wiggins opinion in the case (PDF) is worth a read.

This is the same guy who wrote another Fourth Amendment stunner saying that if police stop you for a piddly reason, they need to be damned careful about searching you in hopes of finding an unrelated offense. Wiggins warned them  to shape up or face the liklihood of being required to explicitly tell you, "No, you don't have to let me search you for pot just because your dog got off his leash." This is State vs. Pals.

One other reason to like this guy. He earned the hatred of Rick Santorum hard-shells in Iowa by ruling -- along with all six other justices -- that banning gay marriage violated the Iowa Constitution. Santorum's alter-ego in these parts, Bob Vander Platts, saw a fund-raising opportunity and led a successful drive to oust three of those justices.

Wiggins came up for retention one cycle later, and VDP went after him, too, but blew it. Many folks in the Vander Platts pews had become less excitable, allowing Wiggins to make his case that that the process of constitutional law was far more important than the outcome of any given issue. (As an aside, that was the same approach Bork took before an audience of excitable senators, and don't we wish he, also, had carried the day.)

I'm trying to phone His Ineptness to suggest he appoint our Justice Wiggins to oversee all FISA court cases. So far the call goes straight to presidential voice mail. I'm not really angry, though. According to the news he is up to his ears in trying to give Africa seven billion of our dollars so they can have electricity to charge their iPads, and isn't that just what we elected him to do?


*You often get the other kind.

Justice Waterman dissented in this recent case, continuing his pattern of telling Officer Fife, "Whatever Barney Wants, Barney Gets."  (The Pals case again.) Unfortunately, he's a long way from his retention vote.


Jun 27, 2013

Freedom can be disgusting

Not to brag, but I have a strong stomach. That happens when a fellow has a life history of summer camp food, Navy chow, church basement cuisine, and his own cooking.

So I didn't heave yesterday morning when my electric teevee got its jollies showing Bruce and Reggie swapping spit on the Supreme Court steps because the justices said they could get married.

It was a close-run thing. Moist PDAs between or among anyone make me slightly uncomfortable. Civilized humanity invented doors and drapes for a reason, and I am personally attuned to the notion that the queerer the foreplay, the thicker the  curtains required.

Teevee producers disagree, of course, and there is that pesky First Amendment, so we're stuck with living-room sodomy, or preludes thereto. Fast work with the remote control is one palliative.


The Court is to be congratulated for yesterday's slapdown of the DOMA and Proposition 8. It moderated political control over personal intimacies among free adult Americans. Liberty won, and the legal-political complex left me free to publish my annoyance  that freedom can lead to things I find somewhere between distasteful and repugnant.


Jun 25, 2013

Sorry I haven't spoken with you in a couple of days. The weekend was a bit on the social side, mostly with neighbors. We popped in on one another between thunderstorms and engaged in illuminating chit-chat about how nice it was to be between thunderstorms for a change.

Then there was yesterday when I decide to stay within eye shot of my electric television set and pay attention to the Zimmerman trial.  That didn't last long. I caught the prosecution f-bomb lede and the idiotic knock-knock defense  joke. Then I doped out the HLN channel approach to coverage -- two minutes of actual courtroom proceedings as fill between inane analysis by their ever-so-pretty analysts who specialize in  the segue-to-commercial field of legal journalism. I suppose I could have written something for this space after the nausea bout subsided, but the impulse to communicate was too weak.

This morning I decided to give The Vast Waste Land one more chance before test-firing a large weapon, center mass into the small, cheap flat panel. A gentle wave of fantasy stopped me. I became a news personality and, for a moment, loved it. Every one would have to pay attention to me, even the silken news chicks with their fresh leg waxes. And I would be lavishly paid; with the right agent I might even have negotiated a contract awarding me a bonus, say a brick of .22s for every segment in which I remembered not to pick my nose.

I slowly returned to the world-as-it-actually-is when the thought struck that if I were on teevee with Mika or Gretchen,  I would have to pretend that I really, really gave a good goddam about who won the Stanley Cup and how cute it was when everyone on Rush Street decided to celebrate by taking their Rolling Rock outside and fouling Rahm's sidewalks.

Jun 22, 2013

Britannia waives the rules

I'm for Women's Lib and equal pay for equal incompetence and all that. But, jayzuss, Ladies, do you leave us Chappies nothing of our grand Nelsonian tradition?

Out: "Here's to our wives and sweethearts."

In: "Here's to our families."

I suppose the jocular Mess Night addendum, "May they never meet," could still be appropriate, but by Jove, Man, it just doesn't sing.

Jun 21, 2013

Brazilian Affairs

Save the Girl from Ipanema

So many revolutions, so few Marines

We all anxiously await the Obama solution to Brazilian riots.  Our vital national  security interests pivot on free bus rides in Rio and Sao Paulo, so minding our own business is not an option.

Speaking of His Ineptness, it's hard to dispute this reaction  "...pure mush..." to his Brandenburg Gate gig. (The writer is a Thatcherite Brit, so make whatever allowances you care to.)

Obama made it to the White House in large part because of his powerful tent-preacher oratory. His skill seems to be fading.

Personally, I think the only shot he has at burnishing  his image is to hire Peggy Noonan.


Jun 20, 2013

Ben Bernanke, or, The Prehensile Snout

Ben probably chose unwisely in calling his new Fed policy a "taper."  Careless teevee watchers are likely to think he meant "tapir," like a pig, sort of, only uglier, and with a grasping snout and crocodile-resistant hide.

Popular confusion is understandable because Chairman Bernanke is the money part of government. His job is to print enough Federal Reserve Cartoons so presidents and congresspersons can fling great batches of them at voting blocks, mostly around election time. Voters wiggle their snouts in the air, suck up all they can and make an ex by the guy on the ballot who pomises even more.

(Every now and then some spoilsport wlll crack wise about the worth of anything available in infinite quantity. Ben and his bosses will ignore that, proving that this tapir hide also resists logic. Irony, too.)

Anyway, Ben hinted in the vaguest possible way yesterday that he and the other Fed governors might lift he pedal from the metal  a silly millimeter or so if the economy perks and if unemployment deperks and the good Lord willing and the creek don't rise and they find Jimmy Hoffa. That rosy result happening, he might  print only 65 billion FRCs a month, down from the current funny money run of 85 billion.

Panic ensued. The Dow plunged and, this morning, crossed the 15,000 mark.

In truth, long tradition requires us to call it the psychologically important 15,000 mark because it ends in three zeros. At 14,999.99 is would have been psychologically insignificant.

If you think about it, that says a lot about how stock markets operate. They are designed to be more rational. They would be if it were not for the 2,000-pound white-bearded tapir in the room.

Jun 19, 2013

The birthers return

Okay. It was a silly attack on His Ineptness  but the birthers were good for a certain grin factor. How about another one as our president channels JFK at the Brandenburg Gate?

A wag hacks into his teleprompter.  Barry is just hitting his demagogic stride, his voice raises as he reads, "Ich bin ein Kenyaner!"

Jun 18, 2013

The Left-Handed Gun

My youngest heir and assign -- who is everything you could possibly want in a lad --  soon becomes a legal adult. He intends to celebrate his emancipation with his first very-own-bought-it-myself-center-fire rifle.  A respectful young man, he has been seeking my counsel. (OK, maybe he's just humoring me, but I prefer to think otherwise so never mind.)

It's complicated  because he shoots from the wrong side, limiting his selection in bolt guns and sending him in search of pumps and semi-autos. I've been trying to steer him away from autos, apparently not very successfully.

Last evening's exchange was about his newly discovered lust for a Remington Model 8 (!). I understand. It is admittedly a beautiful rifle in a findy sickle sort of way, so an admirable share of Gramps' penchant for tradition remains alive in the blood line.

I suppose that's balanced by an equal ratio of willfulness, so he may actually wind up with one despite my gentle suggestion that  this JMB-design is now a better collector than it is a shooter. For instance, you need ammo in the midst of a mulie hunt down in the  high Uncompahgre desert. Do you really think you can find a box of .25-.35 at the one-pump gas station, bar, and trading post over on the reservation road jeep trail?

The discussion continues. I'll see what I can do about pointing him at a Remington 760 or the like while we look hard for a proper wrong-side bolt-action. Wish me luck.


I like semi-autos just fine.  I also like the ideas of (a) greater field dependability of hand-operated guns and (b) a young man concentrating on careful one-shot marksmanship before he gets too ratatattatty.


EDIT: An astute  reader questions .25-.35. It's a little obscure but the reference is ".25 Remington (also called .25-.35)..."

His Teleprompter Speaks

United States of America: The streets and schools are awash in blood, ergo it is my job as your president to advocate strict civilian gun control. In the end, only agents of the duly constituted authority should be armed.

Syria: The streets and schools are awash in blood, ergo it is my job as your president to arm the Syrian civilians in order that they may shoot down agents of the duly constituted authority.

Jun 17, 2013

Drive-by post, mentioning sex

Imagine two old lechers watching MIss Utah answer the queston. 

Lecher 1:  "Gee, wouldn't you like to  (be intimate with) her."

Lecher 2: "Not at the expense of having to converse with her."


Early in my First Administration, No.2 will be appointed to high federal office.

Jun 16, 2013

Fathers: Tool-using creatures

From the grandfather, b. 1893, to the father, b. 1916, to me; and, God willing, on down line. Forgive a rare mystical moment, but I believe that rock maple has absorbed a good deal of love.

Jun 14, 2013


Flag Day.

Run it up, despite everything.

We're not honoring a government. We're celebrating an aspiration. "Sweet land of liberty" sums it up. Perhaps we'll get there some day.

Benghazi again, plus literary advice

A few news operations are keeping the murder-mystery alive, the one about four  dead Americans in Libya last September.


Our survivors on the ground cabled Washington about what they saw and experienced.  None mentioned righteous Islamist outrage over a goofy amateur video hardly anyone except Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton  had ever heard of.

Call those reports a set of "facts" reported to the White House, the Department of State, and an assortment of other Beltway centers for advanced white wash technology. (I use the term "facts" with caution but thoughtfully on grounds that they're closer to truth than the Rice performance on Sunday teevee.) Notice how quickly the facts turned into Suzie's odd video story which stood up for a day or two before even Chris Mathews found it untenable.

It all gets too complicated for mere day-by-day journalism, and it shouldn't be too long before the books appear. The first one to focus on the Obama/Clinton cover up should be titled: "When a Fact Hits a Whore House."

Jun 13, 2013

Morning Madness; The Sky is Falling

Grab your bugout bag, we are doomed.

Global Shares Pummeled Dollar Slumps as Rout Gathers Pace

Reuters says stocks are Down this week after having been Up all year long so woe is me. The writer is to be commended for exceptional word choice. In a world where even the dullest list of numbers must convey drama, "Pummeled" and "Slumps" are exquisite verbs, but their magic is overtopped by the ultimate horror of a noun. "Rout." (!)

Cue the teevee footage. Grainy old black and white film of American bread lines in 1931. Starving babies in1969 Biafra.  Malnourished Chinese peasants any time from 2,000 B.C. to yesterday. This is it, folks.

So, what happened?

People who trade stocks for a living decided to sell a few of the stocks they have been buying since 2009. They're pocketing some of the cash they've made. It is not much different from you taking a look at that  extra Glock you bought during the Bush reign and deciding a $200 profit on a $400  investment is plenty. Sell that puppy.  If enough people do it, of course, the later sellers will make less money. The headline would read "Glock Crap Pummeled Plastic Melts in Teutonic Brick Rout."  

The actual pistols don't change  (nor does the health of Glockenmakers). They go bang today in whatever caliber they used yesterday.  Sort of like Pfizer (PFE, NYSE, $28.38 premarket, down about 1 per cent in three days), maker of Viagra.  The market isn't saying Viagra won't work anymore. At worst it's saying that profits of the pill may not be as big as they thought yesterday, even though old goats will still keep popping for them, even at $20 a pop.

(A certain economic nostalgia comes to mind, recollection of a time when, I'm told, a double sawbuck would buy it all -- a pound of raw  hamburger, two vitamin E tabs, a half-ounce of rhino horn, plus an evening of professional services. And the old dude didn't even have to worry about the dreaded four-hour buzzer. But I digress.)

It is normal to wonder why all the traders' opinions changed so fast, and here Reuters helps us out:

"...there has never been a period when the Fed has started to take back stimulus that has left the markets untouched," said Hans Peterson, global head of investment strategy at Swedish bank SEB. "And this time it is a bigger exercise. We have moved markets from 2009 to 2013 on stimulus and now we are trying to take a step into a world which is more driven by natural growth. That transition will not be easy."

Or: Traders and investors like to trade and invest with Santa Claus money. They're afraid Chairman Bernanke is about to shave off his beard. He won't, of course, but the market panics merely at any hint  he might trim it by one or two basis points.

Jun 12, 2013

Calling Paul Wolfowitz

...and all the other neocons to whom God spake about His  Divine Plan for a world  in the image of Peoria, Illinois:

Isn't it about time you guys started agitating to arm the Turkish rebels? Or at least declare Ankara a no-fly zone? 

With the promised wind-down of Afghanistan adventuring, the prospect of minding our own business portends a period of boredom, and we could use the stimulation of training a fresh batch of American kids to get themselves shot while adjudicating tribal and cult snit-fits in the Stans.

i understand that this one gets a little complicated.  We love the boss poltician, but the kids in the square seem to favor preserving a pretty workable constitution and not tinkering with a culture which tries to temper Islamist excess.

So what? A nice fresh little war always reminds foreigners how cool we can be about projecting our power.

Besides, it is a great way to give American teevee something to report instead of all this blather about the IRS cheating and NSA  spying and Eric Holder running guns and eyeballing reporters, right down to their indictable skivvies.

Jun 10, 2013

Tinfoil hattery; why we bother

Some times I wonder why I should care. I'm an Older American. No matter what is taken from me, I can reflect on a life more interesting than ordinary, probably even  "happier" than ordinary although that point is impossible to investigate. You see,  I lack the talent to know the state of happiness of any of my fellows, not one.

Certainly I'm as adept as anyone else at identifying and classifying apparent happiness as measured by the the usual  standards, the wherewithal to consume,   the crude wit to identify current fashion and conform,  the appearance of intensely satisfying personal relationships, and so forth. Just like Richard Cory who on that calm summer night went home and put a bullet through his happy head.

So, no.  Any man's opinion on the pattern of activity in another's neurons is as suspect as a politician's promise. I can know -- and probably only imperfectly -- the state of my own synaptic patterns which produce the range of contentment from a heartfelt smile when I am alone to the ugliest possible frown, also in solitude.

New Dog Libby knows when she's happy. Well-fed, fresh from a Frisbee romp, ears scratched, she is satisfied in the deepest sense of that term. Only a magical Disney epic could endow her with care for what sort of life her grandpuppies would have. This reveals a defining difference between Libby and the man who fills her bowl. He thinks of his posterity. Like any beast, she would find that preposterous. She is a prisoner of the instant moment. Her master and all his fellows are cursed with a notion of foresight, the belief that they can observe current patterns and extrapolate into the future.

It is the curse of despair and hope when I, at least, would often prefer a stick to chase, a banana split, and a sound ear-scratching as I drift into dreamless sleep.


In this motley internet neighborhood of disorganized  (and unorganizable) libertarians and ancaps, no one is surprised at the staccato new reports of universal spying. Most are on record as simply assuming it exists, that it is destined to exist by the very nature of coercive power, that is, the Power  of the drones and command control over the 82nd Airborne, all the Marines, and millions of spies you never heard of, all charged with identifying Crimethink by invading private human thought.

I have no great-grandpuppies yet, but I probably will. With a bit of luck I'll cuddle them, and I'll certainly hope (the curse, again) they have choices in a world neither too brave nor too new, nor ruled by other Controllers of an Inner Party.


Jun 7, 2013

Data Mining ("And, While You're At It...")

About my first foray into politics occurred just after I left the Navy and started college in my home town. It was scut work for Sonja Egnes, a female Republican trying for a congressional seat held by a semi-felonious lefty preacher named Myrwin.

The local GOP organization was manned by lame and lazy socialites to whom it had never occurred that a list of eligible voters was a right handy thing to have. The most convenient way to get a partial one was from the local police file of driver licenses, actual carbon copies in file drawers.

I had a decent relationship with the cops. Being a veteran helped. (Sure, a couple of them hated me for being a f------g college puke, but they didn't have the horses to do anything about it.) I asked the chief and he said, "Sure."   So I assembled a team of coeds and we went to work on a file of about 15,000 paper licenses, copying by hand names and address of people 21 and up.

(That was the voting age in those days. It was later we decided that barely post-pubes were qualified to act officially on their  well-considered opinions about recognizing Red China, containing Communism, supporting farm prices at 90 per cent of parity,  and the need for  a true two-ocean Navy. But I digress.)

A couple of days into the project,  a senior cop got to thinking "my statistics...". Dangerous then, dangerous now. He asked me into his office, poured coffee and, in effect, said" "Y'know, we never go through those things, so there are probably a lot of guys out there driving around on expired licenses.  How 'bout you and the girls make a note of them...".

That was cop-think then and it is cop-think now, which we might want to keep in mind as His Ineptness and the Royal Chorus chant the old songs about universal spying for anti-terrorism only! 

It's an especially realistic frame of mind when you and the family are at O'Hare, getting ready to fly off to Grandma's for Christmas, and you think you notice the guy in a white shirt and badge let his hand linger an instant too long on your little boy's weenie. He's pretty sure the tyke himself is innocent, but he has to make sure you didn't pack a half-pound of C4 around it.

Of course the perv and his supervisors trot out the  security talking point. Purely professional.  And only to nab Abdul of Al Queda.

Right. So why do we remember one of the official responses to criticisms of Great Airport Grope? Why, besides foiling (N) airplane explosions,  we found (N) marijuana mules/possessors/users and (N) people with warrants out and even one guy with a half-pint of Jim Beam!

Mr. President, do you actually expect us to believe that your 100 per cent lock on citizen's' most private communications can not be re-purposed in less time than it takes for Weiner to unzip? Or will not  because of the high honor and respect all federal employees pay to the Fourth Amendment? That you and yours would never, ever, even think of eavesdropping on our phone and email content?

Errr. I know it is ancient history to a politician's attention span, having happened almost two months ago, but what's this about the IRS reading our email, just for shits and grins and to avoid the inconvenience of asking a judge for permission?


Oh, the license check requests?

I didn't do it, but I was not heroic, not even noble. I waffled and made excuses, counting on sheer bureaucratic sloth to make the request go away in time, which it did.

Sonja lost.

Jun 6, 2013


June 6, 1944, on the shingle beaches of Normandy. Not much new can be said after 69 years, but it is meet to remind one another, "Please remember."

Jun 5, 2013

Culture in America

--Sports: Your pharmacist sucks. Mine kicks butt.

-- University  of Ohio president fired after media storm for joshing Notre Dame, those damn Catholics. Most damn Catholics I know are blessed with a sense of humor, and many possess the wit to fire back, Thank you Urim Thummin. Now let's go have coffee.

Climate change and penology:  ... and I ain't seen the sun shine since I don't know when.


Jun 3, 2013

Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey

He wasn't one of us. Srictly as a matter of policy, his tilt  toward wealth redstribution and coercive government will not be missed.

But when the lad Lautenberg was 18 he enlisted in the United States Army and served in Europe when Europe was a dangerous place to be. He died as the last serving U.S. senator who fought in that war. Therefore, as a man, Senator Lautenberg rates a salute from me. RIP, Sir.

Jun 1, 2013

In case your tail is wet...

I have just the thing because I occasionally go to auctions:

It is a military helicopter tail rotor cover, purchased for a staggering three dollars. I was willing to invest that sum to satisfy curiosity.  I'm having a little trouble figuring out a practical use for it. So far the only thing that comes to mind is stacking firewood into a truncated replica of a Celtic stone tower and employing it as a cover.

Naaaah. Too much like work.

But maybe the grin alone is worth the three bucks. I mentioned the McNamara 100,000 a little while ago, but darned if I suspected the Army turned them into chopper pilots.