Jul 31, 2014

Oh that funny, funny White House

Background: The feds are covering their asses for, shall we say, a medieval approach to CIA police work when the shit hit the fan after 9/11.

Say what you like about Barack Obama, but hit-and-run writers looking for a gag line will miss that man. As in this Associated Press scoop about CIA brutality after the 911 debacle.

"...the document, which was circulating this week among White House officials and which the White House accidentally emailed to an Associated Press reporter... "

 No one -- not Mark Twain,  nor Will Rogers, nor P.J. O'Rourke  -- could improve on that, so I'll be  damned if I'll try.

Jul 30, 2014

The Thousand-Dollar Morning

There aren't many  days when I blow through $1,000 before breakfast.

It all started with New Dog Libby whose food supply was down to 48 hours. Meaning Walmart. Where I discovered Sam's heirs were out of .22 Long Rifle and Sodastream replacement cartridges.  So I settled for

--a month's worth of Purina in an Ol' Roy bag

--a week's worth of milk and bread

--and one medium-grade party's worth of beer.

Elsewhere in the great commercial centers of the Smugleye-on-Lake SMSA I acquired four gallons of non-ethanated gasoline for the small engines required to maintain the parade fields of Camp Jiggleview, of which I am Commandant.

Math whizzes will  note that even at Ben Bernanke/Janet Yellin prices I am not within spitting distance of a grand, but wait. There's more.

While among the barbarians anyway, I thought, "What the Hell.  The van is already warmed up and there will be a winter this year, Al Gore to the contrary notwithstanding." So I  turned into the local grain elevator which also sells propane, waded through the early-morning farmers and agricultural poseurs loafing over free coffee, and bought

--one year's worth of icky fossil fuel.

Honesty requires admission that even the earth-smarming LP didn't quite get me  to the four-figure threshold which justifies a whining blog entry, so I waffled a hair and have just -- still before breakfast -- transferred the remainder of the balance due the fine (if dilatory) Caspian folks for

--what I hope is a life time's supply of slide for the Commanderish project in .45 ACP. (The promised delivery time, more than 13 weeks ago, was "about 8-10 weeks." At least they're being honest in their pledge not to bill my plastic company until it is shipped.)

That did it, and so to breakfast before seeing if there is air in the bicycle tires so I can once again go can collecting in the country air.


Side observations include.

1. The critical shortage of Sodastream cartridges rivals that of .22s. One suspects a conspiracy between Bloomberg and Holder. Each knows compressed carbon dioxide can readily be converted into a weapon of mass destruction with the addition of a few other chemicals commonly found around any well-supplied home -- propane (UH Ohhh), ammonia, Clorox, and/or Ffffg.  Among others. This terrorist threat would certainly make make women, children, and minorities hardest hit.

2.  Since women are supposed to be nicer and more truthful than men, I had hoped to find Janet's dictated "2 per cent" inflation was truth rather than an echo of Ben's long lie. It was saddening, therefore, to find smoked picnics (the cheap parts of pigs) at $2.38 a pound against against an historical (c. 2009) under a buck. Perhaps worse,  Smucker's all-natural peanut butter has advanced from $2.49 to $2.98  in just a few months, a clear inflationary rate of 19.67 per cent.

And if all that ain't as true and sincere as a Jimmy Swaggert apology I'll kiss your picnic on the steps of the Federal Reserve Board and pay you to hire Hillary Clinton's booking agent for the running commentary.

Jul 26, 2014

Let us remark the centenary of a watershed event in human evolutionary possibilities.  In 1914, one hundred years ago, the brassiere was patented.

This lead to the first known master's thesis containing a title colon, to wit:

Dexterity in Manipulation of Small Fasteners Under Tension:  A New Determinant of  Reproductive Success?

Jul 25, 2014

Klem Kadiddlehopper gets a new car.

And he doesn't even have to drive it when he's takin' Alice out to see the submarine races in her frilly blue gown.

My native state is pretty well known for over-reaching, but historically that has been mostly by Klem and his fellow agrarians over-reaching for green government checks.*

Lately we have expanded our ambition and decided to lead the world in high-tech endeavor, and Johnson County wants to be in the forefront. It is Iowa City, the University of Iowa, the place that gave one Barack Obama his start back in '08 and turned out 67 per cent for him in 2012.

I mean, that is one progressive cow-pasture, so in a way I endorse its lust to be home to the driverless car. Any populace that loony should be relieved of all possible adult-like responsibility.

The cheerleaders, however, overstate their case.  Here's a guy named Nolte:

We as humans overestimate our competency for safety behind the wheel,” according to Nolte. “When you compare us to these (driver-free) systems — we are going to have 360 degree vision, they’ll never get tired, they’ll never get distracted, they’ll be able to communicate with other vehicles with the infrastructure — they are vastly superior from a safety standpoint than humans ever will be.”

Okay, maybe it is more like hyperventilation than simple overstatement.

And I wonder if Johnson County will invite General Motors to plunk its miracle cars down on campus streets. If it does, I wonder if it will be before or after GM learns how to build an ignition switch that doesn't kill you.

Just, y'know, to sort of demonstrate that the company is really getting the hang of this electrical computer thing.


*I'm going to try it myself. The horseradish out back is flourishing. So I'm gonna go see the county extension agent to see how much the gummint will pay me to grow less next year.  It he says no I'll have to settle for you guys paying for my horseradish crop insurance.

Jul 23, 2014

Sky blue; grass a shining green; birds melodic; mood sad

The morning is too beautiful to waste with worry, but it's too late for me, and I invite you to share my misery.

During coffee cup #2 I was wandering through the bizarre world of political journalism, sort of getting ready to plan my contribution to the art with periodic reports on the state of Iowa's caucus  circus. That's where we tell you the names of acceptable presidential nominees.

The brute demographic ugliness engenders the worry.

The resulting practical advice is this: Keep buying .22s, even at $50 a brick. Don't be afraid of stressing out your Visa account, even to the point of using plastic to buy plastic, Glockenpoppers,  LCPs, SR9s in recall-often calibers.

Because she's the Queen Apparent. Hillary, of course, the pants suit who promises to take things away from everyone except successful Arkansas cattle-futures traders for the common good. I personally believe that to be the only political promise of the century which she will strive mightily to fulfill.

In a walk Hillary Rodham Clinton beats every Democratic name the pollsters can fish out of the slimy rain barrel. Nominated, she beats one Republican after another, though by an apparent fluke Rand Paul betters her by a point in one poll.

So tell me it's too early to make judgments like that. You say that in politics, anything can happen? Thank you. I didn't know.

However, let's add one more sad molecule to the festering mix. At this moment, more than four out of every ten polled Americans believe that another Chicago  ("You didn't build that!")  pol is doing a great job of administering American affairs.

Could be you could go to $75 a brick and still find relative future happiness, 2017 through 2025.

Jul 18, 2014

Taking a selfie? Put your pants on.

Ed Snowden has told the Guardian that your Officer Friendlies in the NSA just love your private parts and spreading them.

All day they whiz through your emails and PMs and Facebook offerings. Mostly boring stuff like your bank account, potitical contributions, stock investments, family troubles and so forth. Sometimes, though, they find something risible.

Snowden: During the course of their work, (NSA employees) stumble across something that is completely unrelated to their work in any sort of necessary sense, for example, an intimate nude photo of someone in a sexually compromising situation. But they’re extremely attractive.

So what do they do? They turn around in their chair and show a coworker who says, ‘Hey that’s great. Send that to Bill down the way.’ Then Bill sends it to George, who sends it to Tom, and sooner or later this persons whole life has been seen by all of these other people.

The NSA denies such a thing is possible because all their thousands of snoopers are Eagle Scouts who sing in the church choir,

Jul 15, 2014

James. Clean Up Your Room RIGHT NOW

.. .and do a good job!

The threatened punishment for outright disobedience or a slap-dash effort was severe and credible.

"Or I won't buy bananas this week. "

(Can nine-year-olds today imagine a time when a banana was a special luxury? Of course not. It would come as a shock even to their parents that once upon a time all the United Fruit Company ships were commandeered by Roosevelt to carry war stuff to Churchill and Stalin.   The bananas were left to rot in the jungles, and the supply didn't become dependable until a couple years after the war.)

So I cleaned my room. In the process came joy. Under a  big pile of something in the closet I found my almost-new first baseman's glove, a treasure lost weeks before.

That didn't change my casual attitude toward housekeeping, but it implanted a valuable lesson. When you notice you've lost a few important things, start tidying your place.

Like yesterday. I noticed I was missing my Buck 501, a favorite little flashlight, the check book, and the old "Eversharp" pencil which, somehow, seems to improve my spelling.  (I do not fully reject either animism or a more generalized magic. That pencil harbors a spirit.)

I recalled the results of Mom's banana threat and set out to act like a normal, responsible adult human being. An hour or so later these things were neat and well-organized: The truck cab. A butt  pack, nerdy looking but useful as a go bag. The computer bag. The hard-side brief case. Two drawers.  All was found, and as a bonus the Ruger RST4 is back where it belongs, locked in the everyday van in case of an irresistible urge to do a little plinking on my way home from town.

This is the place where a guy should specify the moral of his story, which I suppose is "a place for everything and everything in its place, every hour of every day."

But screw it. Compulsiveness is for nerds who think butt packs look cool.

Jul 12, 2014

The Guns We Need

By "we" I mean Dick Sommers, my grandpa's Uncle George, and me. Maybe you, too, but not necessarily. As Dick told the preacher, some thinks one way, some another.


Dick went early to the upper Missouri and crossed the Divide to the Seed-skee-dee and beyond. He trapped his plews, bedded his squaws, and drank his whiskey until he began to gray. He returned to Missouri, married up white, and farmed his plot until he buried her. Then he allowed himself to be talked into guiding an early emigrant train to the Oregon Country.

Except for the kitless preacher,  who mooched, Dick's plunder was the slimmest of the lot, barely a burden for two pack horses on the six-month trek. Indian trade truck, kettle, a robe or two, and "a couple of knives, his Hawken, and an over-and-under  double with one barrel big enough for bird shot." And a small keg of whiskey.

The best modern analogue is found elsewhere, in good writing about equipping for a serious north woods canoe trip. The better authors remark the primitive red man who set out for a season with his bow, quiver, knife, and maybe a sack of pemmican. "Our equipment is a substitute for his knowledge," they write.

 Dick Sommers knew; his main arsenal lived in his head.


"Uncle" George lived and killed about a century later. He is my only known ancestor to fall low, a lawyer and incessant  office seeker who got hisself elected mayor of Madison, Missouri, twice, and justice of the peace in his old age, a time when he got an idea. He would sue a passel of his relatives to get his legal paws on a small dirt farm northwest of Madison.

The merits of the case are murky, probably lost forever. The larger points are that Leslie, 40, died, George took poison in prison,  and the large extended family -- a whole raft of us infested those parts then -- factionated itself  like a pack of Sunnis and Shi-ites. All over 111 acres of miserable ground which wouldn't have brought $25 an acre.

Leslie shared a surname with  George and was probably a nephew, maybe with some "removeds" and "greats" tossed in. He was 40 to George's 68.  He was on the other side of the law suit and pissed off, and aggressive, and, family lore holds,  on familiar terms with strong spirits.

On November 13, 1926, they met in downtown Madison.  A scuffle happened. George told the jury that being old and weak he was forced to shoot.  Two quickies and finisher.

 Within a month George was convicted of manslaughter. He appealed, lost, and in 1928 went to prison. Two years or so later, in the infirmary, he found a jar of potassium-something and drank.

So, back to the point. Then as now the media were awful light on interesting details but did report the gun George needed was

"a .32 revolver of the blue steel variety."

Therefore we are certain that whatever his other character flaws, my  ancestor George wouldn't be caught dead carrying no whore-house special colored chrome or nickel or some two-tone Brucie gun. A sure-nuf man's man. That's always been a great comfort to me.


Me? I figure that the only guns I actually need to face the wild world, including the wild civilized world called cities, are two: A 1911 out of John Moses Browning for carry and an old Savage .22LR over and 20-gauge under for pot meat and general pest control. With an especially sturdy pack mule I'd add a .30-06 to reduce the need for careful stalking, but we're getting pretty close to effete foo-foo-raw here.

I have other stuff, of course, but they're mostly fashion statements, unless I miss my guess.

Ain't no harm in that, I reckon, but, as I may have mentioned, some thinks one way, some another.


(Dick will be familiar to A.B. Guthrie readers.)

Jul 10, 2014

New Yahk New Yahk

"Only there," a guy is tempted to say. But who the Hell knows what might be lurking in the pointy little political hackheads of, say,  San Francisco?


The bill would require that the costumed  (street) performers be licensed and go through a background check.

I once endured a long layover at La Guardia and took a shuttle into Manhattan for a looksee.  On my way from a lengthy Montana political gig,  I wore Levis, a largish buckle on the tooled leather, a snap-button ranch shirt, and "cowboy" boots. (You learn to dress local in that racket.) If, God forbid, I should do it again, "You're busted. You have the right to remain .... The charge is imitating Walt Coogan without a license." 

The wit-free councilman ramrodding the dress-code decree is Mickey Mouse.  No. Wait. I mean Dan Garodnick. Dan frets because. "There have been a number of troublesome incidents involving costumed figures who try to make a living by charming tourists."

And just what are these egregious acts requiring suspension of  probably a half-dozen basic human and Constitutional rights?

As AP has it,  "They include a person dressed as Super Mario who was accused of groping a woman. This criminalizes walking Gotham streets  dressed up as Joe Biden.

"And an Elmo figure pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after unleashing an anti-Semitic tirade."

Or,  in other words, pretending  to be the Rev. Mr. Jesse (Hymietown) Jackson.