Monthly Archives: March 2014
Ah California, don’t ever change.
Meet DEMOCRAT state Senator Leland Yee.
In a stunning development that almost certainly torpedoes Yee’s quest for statewide office, the San Francisco Democrat wound up glum and disoriented in a federal courtroom Wednesday. The politician who introduced anti-gun-violence legislation is now charged with trafficking in firearms and public corruption in an FBI undercover operation that could land him in prison for years.
With scenes resembling the recent movie blockbuster “American Hustle,” Yee is depicted in a startling, 137-page FBI affidavit of repeatedly offering to broker illegal firearms sales in exchange for campaign contributions. He allegedly took part in dealmaking meetings with undercover agents, often arranged by San Francisco political consultant Keith Jackson, a close associate among two dozen figures charged in the case.
This makes sense when you think about it. If you’re a gun runner you don’t want there to be a lot of legal access to firearms. You’d want to eliminate as much competition as possible and create as much demand for your product, black market firearms, as you could.
Really, it’s just good business sense when you think about it.
Now that we see the connection between opposition to gun rights and serving as an arms dealer (allegedly) and given the Akin Rule, which holds that the idiocy of a single member of a party impugns all members of that party, we clearly need to investigate every gun grabbing Democrat out there for ties to gun running.
Secretary of State John Kerry has complained that Russia’s invasion and subsequent annexation of Crimea is behavior more properly fit for the 19th century and not the 21st. Fittingly enough, the “original” Crimea War was a 19th century affair between the Russians on one side and the British, French and Turks on the other.
For most Americans I think the “original” Crimean War is one of those European wars that seems to litter the continent’s history and that few people in modern America know much or care about.
But this nasty little war, which lasted from October of 1853 to February of 1856, left a legacy far greater than you might realize.
The Charge of the Light Brigade:
Most people are familiar with “The Charge of the Light Brigade” but did you know it refers to a suicidal charge by British cavalry troops against entrenched Russian artillery emplacements during…the Crimean War?
The brigade, was supposed to turn and take the high ground before confronting the Russians. Instead they charged straight down the valley floor for over a mile straight into the Russian guns.
Raglan’s staff watched horrified from the top of Sapouné Hill as the Light Brigade moved off down the valley and failed to turn up onto the Causeway Heights. They could see the Russians positioned on the Fedioukine Hills to the north side of the North Valley, with infantry, cavalry and guns, the original force of Russian cavalry attacked by the Heavy Brigade at the end of the North Valley behind the battery of 8 guns and on the Causeway Heights on the south side of the valley, Russian infantry, cavalry and guns in the redoubts abandoned by the Turks. All these troops were ready to fire into the Light Brigade as it attacked down the North Valley.
Amazingly, some of the men of the Light Brigade did make it to the Russian lines and attacked the gun crews before being driven off. The price they paid for carrying out their orders was devastating.
On its return the Light Brigade had a mounted strength of 195 officers and men from an original strength of 673. 247 men were killed and wounded. 475 horses were killed and 42 wounded. The 13th Light Dragoons mustered 10 mounted men.
Below is the 1936 film adaptation of the historic charge.
The charge was also memorialized in a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson which includes this famous passage.
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay’d ?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die,
Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.
The Birth of Modern Battlefield Nursing:
We all know the name Florence Nightingale but how many people realize that her service as a nurse to the British Army during the Crimean War revolutionized the role of nurses in the British military?
At the time, there were no female nurses stationed at hospitals in the Crimea. The poor reputation of past female nurses had led the war office to avoid hiring more. But, after the Battle of Alma, England was in an uproar about the neglect of their ill and injured soldiers, who not only lacked sufficient medical attention due to hospitals being horribly understaffed, but also languished in appallingly unsanitary and inhumane conditions.
In late 1854, Nightingale received a letter from Secretary of War Sidney Herbert, asking her to organize a corps of nurses to tend to the sick and fallen soldiers in the Crimea. Nightingale rose to her calling. She quickly assembled a team of 34 nurses from a variety of religious orders, and sailed with them to the Crimea just a few days later.
Based on her observations in the Crimea, Nightingale wrote Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency and Hospital Administration of the British Army, an 830-page report analyzing her experience and proposing reforms for other military hospitals operating under poor conditions. The book would spark a total restructuring of the War Office’s administrative department, including the establishment of a Royal Commission for the Health of the Army in 1857.
Staying Warm During a Ukrainian Winter Necessitated The Invention Of…Ski Masks:
You may recall before the Putin admitted the Russians were taking over Crimea armed men showed up all around Crimea. Many of them wore ski masks to hide their identity.
This type of face gear is known as a “balaclava“.
A balaclava covers all of your head (except for the eyes), but you can wear it also like a cap, a scarf or you can protect only part of your face with this practical item. Although balaclavas were originally knitted from wool, a modern balaclava can consist of all kinds of material. This type of mask is also known as a ski or snowboard mask.
Balaclavas were used for the first time during the Crimean War (1853-1856). This was a war between the Russians on one side and the French, British, Sardinians and Ottomans on the other. In 1854 the battle of Balaclava was fought and after that battle “balaclava” became the name for this type of headgear.
Staying Warm During a Ukrainian Winter Necessitated The Invention Of…Ski Masks:
But perhaps the most lasting and important connection between the original Crimean War and today The Victoria Cross, analogous to our Medal of Honor, is the highest military award in the UK and Commonwealth nations (the George Cross is of equal rank). It is still awarded today for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Queen Victoria authorized creation of the award to recognize the heroism of Imperial troops during.
VCs are cast from the bronze cascabels of two cannons that were captured from the Russians at the siege of Sevastopol in 1854-1855
There’s a transcript floating around the purports to be a transcript of the communications between air traffic controllers and the missing Malaysia Air flight 370.
Before going any further let me give you a little background so you can take what I’m going to say with appropriate levels of salt. Back in 1999/2000 I learned to fly small, single engine planes, your basic Cessna prop jobs. I haven’t flown much since then because it became even more ridiculously to fly than it was before (hey, hit the tip jar and maybe I can become current again!). So I’m not a high time private pilot and never came close to becoming a pilot for an airline. Still, I did fly from a towered airport and deal with ATC from the tower, approach and center levels.
Now, with that out of the way….
Once again people are focusing on the final bit of communications, “All right. Goodnight”.
Is that non-standard radio procedures? Yes. A pilot should read back the instruction he’s given. But the reality is, sometimes pilots use improper communication techniques.
Why would a pilot do this?
He’s lazy. Cruise is the easiest part of a flight for a pilot. Unlike takeoff and approach, you are usually just cruising along monitoring the automated systems. You usually aren’t given a bunch of heading/altitude changes. You aren’t being sequenced in a congested airspace with a bunch of other flights trying to get to or away from the same relative small point (the airport). Things just get…lax. He may have heard other flights handed off to the same center he was being passed off to and had the frequency preset in his other radio and didn’t feel anything would be lost by not reading back the new frequency. Very often pilots will know the next frequency they will need and listen in to get a sense of how heavy the traffic is before they switch to it. It gives you a feel on how you need to fit in (is it busy and you need to find a spot or is it slow and you can take your time? That sort of thing.)
Side note: Planes have more than one radio. My little Cessenas always had at least two so I’d imagine a 777 has more than that. What you generally do is have the first frequency you’ll need programmed into one and put the next one into the 2nd radio. When it’s time to change you flip the radio you are using and start broadcasting on that one. This also serves as a backup. Say the next frequency you are giving, in this case 120.9 didn’t work for some reason (it happens), you flip back to the other radio already set to a frequency you know works to talk to someone.
The transcript shows that the flight properly acknowledged all prior ATC commands and that makes this one failure to do so…curious. One possible explanation for the change in procedures (and it’s just a possibility, nothing more) is that it was a different member of the flight crew responding to that command than there was to the others.
Captains and first officers generally trade legs as the “pilot flying”, that is the pilot actually doing the take off/landing. When in cruise they may switch responsibility for handling the radio and other “house keeping” chores like changing heading/altitude. For all we know the pilot who used the proper communications format was in the bathroom or having a snack and the pilot who made this transmission was working the radio for the first time in the flight.
There’s no reason to say ether of these things are what happened, I’m just proposing some innocent reasons why this communication was different from the rest.
I’ve heard people say this was some sort of hint from the flight crew that something was amiss. I’ve heard that there are code words for crews to use in case of hijackings (there’s a special transponder code you’re supposed to enter if you can that will show up on a controller’s screen). Well, if this was an attempt by the crew to signal something, it didn’t work.
As far as the possibility that it was a hijacker who made that transmission, it seems unlikely that a hijacker would know how to disable ACARS, turn the transponder off, fly the plane in an entirely different direction but be so unfamiliar with aviation procedures that they couldn’t manage to use the standard format for a center hand off.
As much as everyone wants to find a clue or read into anything unusual, this is very likely a dead end.
Via @DraftRyan2016 we have another “Christie confronts voter at town hall” video that made him so famous in his first term.
The wrinkle in this one is that while he’s debating a lefty he defends himself not by making the conservative case against government healthcare but praising how much he’s expanded it already.
Sure he says he hates ObamaCare but he’s pretty proud that he’s taken the ObamaCare money to expand Medicaid (you know the system that is a total waste of money) and boasts that NJ’s Medicaid system is the 2nd most generous in the country. So you know…Conservative! Maybe even severely.
Of course being so generous with Medicaid comes at a cost in taxes and the resulting flight from New Jersey to lower tax states (via NJ refugee @johnekdahl). Now, Chrisite has done some good on taxes in NJ but to brag that their welfare benefits are so generous and he’s happily expanding them is a slap to the people who have to pay for them.
Republicans want to make some made up distinction between ObamaCare Medicaid expansion and the exchanges but conservatives shouldn’t let them get away with it.
What I wrote in 2010 about Romney’s inability to take on ObamaCare because of his entanglement with MittCare applies to Chrisite or any other GOP governor who has taken ObamaCare Medicaid money.
Even if Romney does say he opposes the individual mandate, he still has said he’d take credit for Obama’s health care “accomplishment”. Given his background with the issue and weird statements about the law since its passage, Romney is simply damaged goods when it comes to health care.
He might still be able to come up with a convincing narrative to explain the differences between MassCare and ObamaCare as well as his role in the former. But then the debate will be about Mitt and what he thought then vs. now and whether he can be reliable going forward. Meanwhile the focus will be off Obama and the damage done by this health care scheme.
Republicans need the issue to be a clean and clear choice…we have to nominate someone who was opposed to ObamaCare from the start. Only then will the focus stay on Obama and what he has wrought.
If ObamaCare is going to be a lead GOP issue in 2016 you can’t have someone on the ticket who is compromised by it. Well you can but you’ll wind up with results like you had in 2012.
This is why you don’t layout plans when everyone is focused on how terrible your opponents actual policy is…people stop complaining about your opponent and start saying bad stuff about your ideas.
Bob Laszewski has been one of the right’s go to guys to critique ObamaCare. Now he’s taken a look at the GOP plans and is unimpressed with two key elements…selling insurance across state lines and Association Health Plans.
I have been critical of Obamacare because it has looked to me that it was largely created by people who really didn’t understand how the insurance markets work.
Looks like Republicans and Democrats have a lot in common.
This is exactly why I railed against the GOP insisting they will have an alternative plan before November. Now when the House unveils and maybe even passes their plan the left can say, “even the guy the GOP loved to use to bash ObamaCare says their plan stinks”.
As for the dangers of not having a plan it seems clear the Democrats are willing to run that risk. Remember their plan for Alex Sink in last week’s special election was to say Democrats want to fix ObamaCare not repeal it. Well, what fixes do they want? Why hasn’t the Democratic Senate passed them? They don’t have a plan to “fix” ObamaCare because the only way to “fix” it is to blow it up. But they’ll just trot out their version of Bill Clinton on Affirmative Action, “mend don’t end” it. The media will let them get away with it in ways they wont let Republicans but the GOP should just keep saying, “ObamaCare hurts people, it has to go” over and over and over and over and over again. But no, they have to be clever and offer up a helping hand to the Democrats.
Will this prevent the GOP from winning the Senate? No. But they supposedly have bigger goals in mind and that means winning in areas where they normally wouldn’t. Giving the Democrats a target to shoot back at and change the ObamaCare conversation in some seats could be the difference between winning and a “tsunami“.
Forget the politics for a second and you’ll see the real problem here…too many Republicans don’t have a problem with government solutions to problems like health insurance. Instead of molding the market to their liking using the government they should be focused on the real problem…removing government created distortions to the market.
Repeal ObamaCare and put the decision about health insurance the responsibility for it back in the hands of individuals. That’s the only solution that will work but it doesn’t involve more government so neither party has much interest in it.
You may recall Mitt Romney lost to Barack Obama in 2012. Badly. Obama in fact became the first President since FDR to be reelected with unemployment so high.
But his rejection by his fellow citizens doesn’t seem to be sitting well with Romney. Unlike other failed candidates without a public office to fallback on, Romney is unwilling to quietly go away and let his party start to rebuild from the rubble he left behind.
No, Romney insists on giving interviews, appearing on late night shows and writing op-eds. He’d like to remind people that they were stupid to reject him in favor of Obama and that he was right on a number of things.
Yes, Romney was right about Russia during the campaign and Obama was wrong to scoff at it. Congratulations Mitt but you still lost.
Unfortunately for Mitt his desire to be thought smart and given respect has caused him to write an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that is supposed to show how much better on foreign affiars he would be than Obama. But like George Costanza and the Jerk Store, it’s too late and quite frankly, lame.
Let’s join Mitt on his survey of the world and see where his overly simplistic notions undercut the credit he wants for his Russia remarks during the campaign.
When protests in Ukraine grew and violence ensued, it was surely evident to people in the intelligence community—and to the White House—that President Putin might try to take advantage of the situation to capture Crimea, or more. That was the time to talk with our global allies about punishments and sanctions, to secure their solidarity, and to communicate these to the Russian president. These steps, plus assurances that we would not exclude Russia from its base in Sevastopol or threaten its influence in Kiev, might have dissuaded him from invasion.
So we should have lined up nations that are unwilling to act after a Russian invasion to make even tougher threats before one? This is the mythical notion that if only we have a President that is strong enough the world, including our allies, will simply bend to our will.
As far as the outcome Romney wanted to see, promising not to upset Russia’s “influence in Kiev”, I’m not sure how that would have been read by Putin as a sign of strength. Basically Romney is saying that he would have sided with the Russians to keep them Ukraine tied to Moscow even if that’s the opposite of what the protesters wanted. How exactly would he have achieved this and how is that a more moral position than what we are seeing now? That the US failed to rally a coalition to preserve the staus quo of the Ukrainian Russian relationship against the wishes of most Ukrainians is an odd critique coming from Romney.
As the rebellion erupted, the time was ripe for us to bring together moderate leaders who would have been easy enough for us to identify, to assure the Alawites that they would have a future post-Assad, and to see that the rebels were well armed.
Just find “moderate leaders”, promise the minority group that has been ruthlessly running the country for generations that will we protect them and give the rebels (who have from almost the start have included Al-Qaeda linked and other terrorist groups). Oh is that all? Easy peasy guys!
You might have noticed that right next door to Syria we had tens of thousands of troops in Iraq for years and were never able to impose our will on the parties in that way. But we’d be able to do it at arms length in Syria because?
Speaking of Iraq.
The time for securing the status-of-forces signatures from leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan was before we announced in 2011 our troop-withdrawal timeline, not after it.
Did Mitt not notice that US troops did leave Iraq under a status-of-forces agreement signed by George W. Bush and that Obama ran and won the presidency promising to leave Iraq?
As for Afghanistan, again, there was an election in 2012 and Obama once again won on winding down our involvement there. You’d have thought Mitt would have heard of that one.
So is Romney saying the will of the American people shouldn’t be considered in matters of war and peace? Does he think Obama should flip on his campaign promises? We all know that Romney is comfortable changing positions like socks but it seems insisting others act similarly is a bit much.
Last but not least we have Egypt.
[After the start of the Arab Spring], pushing our friend Hosni Mubarak to take rapid and bold steps toward reform, as did Jordan’s king, might well have saved lives and preserved the U.S.-Egypt alliance.
Of course one reason people were hesitant to push Mubarak to hard was because it was widely feared that reforms would lead to the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood. As we saw after Mubarak was deposed that’s exactly what happened.
It’s easy to spit out platitudes about foreign policy but the reality of doing things is much more difficult. Romney clearly longs to be the man at the top and making the decisions. If he thinks he’s so qualified and that events have shown the American people to have been so wrong he should get back in the ring.
Of course running again would remind people of all the reason they rejected Romney in the first place.
Instead of trying to recreate the Jerk Store moment, Romney should follow Jerry’s advice and leave on a high note. Correctly identifying the challenge of Russia was just such a moment for Romney, the more he talks the sourer that note becomes.
I’m a hockey fan and have a few key stops everyday for my puck news…Backhand Shelf, The Hockey News, Puck Daddy and various Twitter feeds.
Well, I’ll be freeing up sometime now that Puck Daddy is off the list. Call me crazy but I’m not enamored of sites that call me a racist.
What happened is that there’s an old joke among hockey fans that people who play other sports are much softer than hockey players. And let’s be honest, there’s more than a bit of truth to it. What other sports to players routinely get stitches or lose teeth in the middle of a game and keep right on playing?
So yes, hockey fans like to tweak there fellow sports fans about stuff like that. I mean, it’s not like fans of other sports ever tweak hockey fans or anything, right?
But naturally when hockey fans make fun of LeBron James getting carried off the court for a sprained ankle, it’s obviously…racism.
Let’s be honest here, though, this all stems from the fact that hockey fans are both scared and insulted that no one will ever respect this sport. Basketball is more popular than hockey — and, again, has more black guys in it — and is thus something to be assailed; LeBron James is literally among the most naturally-gifted athletes ever to come out of another human being, and therefore the perception is that he is soft, and doesn’t work hard, and doesn’t have THE HAHT OF A CHAMPEEIN like all hockey players — except Dustin Byfuglien and Evander Kane and PK Subban, just coincidentally I’m sure — do. If he wants to be seen as tough, he better die on the court and try to keep playing as well, right?
Note that Lambert isn’t suggesting that the individuals who started the LaBron meme are doing so out of racial animus (a charge he provides ZERO evidence for by the way) but that it’s “hockey fans” writ large who assail a sport because it has more black guys in it”.
The three players named are black hockey players. Of course Lambert misses a few things….
1- Byfuglien is mostly given a hard time for his weight. That’s something no white player ever has had to deal with. Isn’t that right Kyle Wellwood?
2- PK Subban gets a lot a grief for being to showy. Again, no white hockey player has ever had to deal with that, right Artem Anissimov and Nail Yakupov?
3- I’ll admit that I don’t know a ton about Kane’s situation other than it seems he’s a young, highly paid guy who isn’t performing up to fan expectations and fairly or not, he gets a lot of grief for it. Again, this isn’t exactly something unknown to white players (Paging at random, oh I don’t know,…Every NY Ranger free agent signing from 2000 to about 2008).
Lambert has a history of ascribing racism to vast swaths of people he has no actual knowledge of. For example this Twitter exchange with a hockey fan who happens to be a Republican.
Now that’s all fine, people have the right to be prejudiced (even if the irony overload is a bit much) but it seems a poor business decision for Yahoo! Sports to employ a person who consider his entire audience to be racist.
Now I’m sure Lambert would say not all hockey fans are racists, why it’s likely some of his best friends are hockey fans but he couldn’t be bothered to build a factual case to back up his claim. It’s impossible to take him or anyone who employ him seriously so I won’t. The internet is a big place and life is too short for idiots and their enablers.
I don’t know about you but I’m already getting tired of the 2016 primary.
This fight started with Cruz positioning himself between John McCain and Paul on foreign policy during an event last week, then his follow up on ABC’s This Week. Yesterday Paul fired back on Breitbart.com and followed that up with another shot at Cruz last night on Hannity.
“We always have been good friends. I’m not real excited about him mischaracterizing my views. I won’t let that pass. I think that sometimes want to stand up and say hey, look at me, I’m the next Ronald Reagan. Well, almost all of us in the party are big fans of Ronald Reagan,” Paul said.
“I’ve always been a big fan of peace through strength. I think America should and has a responsibility around the world and really, virtually all of the opinions that have been coming from Republicans are somewhat the same on this – that Putin should be condemned, he should be isolated. I favor sanctions on Putin. So, for people to characterize that as somehow not being the Reagan position, I think they need to have a re-reading of Reagan, frankly,” Paul added.
Cruz released a statement yesterday (I think prior to Paul’s second blast) trying to calm things down.
“Although some would like to play up divisions among Republicans, I have no desire to play their game,” Cruz said. “Rand Paul is a courageous voice for liberty, and I’m honored to call him my friend. We do not agree on everything, especially regarding foreign policy, but we have agreed on the vast majority of issues, and I am sure we will continue to do so. Substantive policy disagreements are a positive aspect of the political discourse, but in the fight for liberty, I am proud to stand with Rand.”
I know in yesterday’s thread there were comments about how this division doesn’t help the cause. Well, the reality is politicians usually think what helps them, helps the cause.
In this case Paul can’t let himself be defined as a mushy libertarian. He wants to be seen as well outside the mainstream GOP on a number of things like spending, civil liberties and minority inclusion but if he’s seen as outside on national security/foreign policy, that could be fatal to his presidential hopes. Hence the heavy push back even against an ideological ally like Ted Cruz.
Of course the problem is in that pushing back he may alienate supporters who look to Cruz and Paul as leaders who should be working together.
It’s kind of like kids feeling uncomfortable watching mommy and daddy fight but push is coming to shove for 2016. Paul thinks he’s be pushed and he’s shoving back hard.
Bottom line, letting your opponents define you is fatal in politics. We’ve seen too many Republicans who either let it happen or don’t know how to stop it from happening. Say what you want about Rand Paul, at least he fights for himself.