Falling Down on the Job

Uh, I’m supposed to post pictures and videos and comments on the just-passed Gun Blogger Rendezvous.


Well, not complete fail, but I didn’t get any video, and not too many pictures.  For once I did more shooting with firearms than with my camera.  Plus, I ran a squad at the Steel Challenge day, and had no opportunity to do much of anything with the camera.  Others have done (just scroll down) a fine job, though, including U.S. Citizen (keep scrolling there, too) who got a shot of me shooting my target AR, and Davidwhitewolf who got one of me shooting my XP-100, neither of which firearms have been featured here.  Mentioned in passing, yes.  Photographed, no.

Anyway, hopefully I’ll get my meager and paltry collection of photos up this weekend, plus a long list of “thank you’s” to the supporters of the GBR who contributed this year.  I’m still waiting to hear from Mr. Completely how much money was raised for Project Valour-IT.

Quote of the Day – The Donald Edition

I’m sure this is old, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it:

We are going to be gifted with a Health Care plan we are forced to purchase, and fined if we do not, which purportedly covers at least ten million more people, without adding a single new doctor, but provides for 16,000 new IRS agents, written by a committee whose chairman says he does not understand it, passed by a Congress that did not read it but exempted themselves from it, and signed by a President who smokes, with funding administered by a Treasury chief who did not pay his taxes, for which we will be taxed for four years before any benefits take effect, by a government which has already bankrupted Social Security & Medicare, all to be overseen by a Surgeon General who is obese, and financed by a country that is broke!! What the hell could possibly go wrong? — Donald Trump

I Should’ve Gone to the Fast Draw Event

Home!  Finally.

I left Reno Sunday morning about 9:40 after breakfast with those conscious enough to make it.  I wanted to get an early start home so I could either stop in Kingman, AZ or drive on through to Tucson if I felt up to it. 

Unfortunately, when I got to Schurz, Nevada, about 100 miles out of Reno, Nevada Highway 95 was closed due to an earlier fatality accident.

Three and a half hours later, I headed onward towards home.  I got into a hotel room in Las Vegas about 10:00PM.  I pulled into my garage this afternoon at about 2:30.  LONG trip.  Still, worth it!

Pictures and some limited video once I have a chance to upload it, sort it, and post it.  Another great GBR!  (Though I didn’t win a firearm – again!)

Mark Steyn on 9/11 and the World Trade Center

It’s been ten years…

TEN years

…since, as Tam styles them, self-immolating neolithic goatherds with box cutters took over commercial airliners and kamikaze’d them into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania.

The Pentagon is repaired.  The crash site in Pennsylvania is shortly to become an Islamic crescent pointed toward Mecca.

And World Trade Center Plaza is still a hole in the ground.  A highly decorative hole, but a hole, nonetheless.

From Chapter One of Mark Steyn’s After America:  Get Ready for Armageddon:

A couple of days after 9/11, the celebrated German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen told a radio interviewer that the destruction of the World Trade Center was “the greatest work of art ever.”

What he actually said was worse.

I’m reminded of the late Sir Thomas Beecham’s remark when asked if he’d ever conducted any Stockhausen: “No,” he replied. “But I think I’ve trodden in some.” Stockhausen stepped in his own that week: in those first days after the assault, even the anti-American Left felt obliged to be somewhat circumspect. But at a certain level the composer understood what Osama was getting at.

Nevertheless, Stockhausen was wrong. The “greatest work of art” is not the morning of 9/11, with the planes slicing through the buildings, and the smoke and the screaming and the jumping, and the swift, eerily smooth collapse of the towers. No, the most eloquent statement about America in the early twenty-first century is Ground Zero in the years after. 9/11 was something America’s enemies did to us. The hole in the ground a decade later is something we did to ourselves. By 2010, Michael Bloomberg, the take-charge get-it-done make-it-happen mayor of New York was reduced to promising that that big hole in Lower Manhattan isn’t going to be there for another decade, no sir. “I’m not going to leave this world with that hole in the ground ten years from now,” he declared defiantly. In the twenty-first century, that’s what passes for action, for get-tough boot the can another decade down the road. Sure, those jihad boys got lucky and took out a couple of skyscrapers, but the old can’t-do spirit kicked in, and a mere ten years later we had a seven-story hole on which seven billion dollars had been lavished. But, if we can’t put up a replacement building within a decade, we can definitely do it within two. Probably. As a lonely steel skeleton began lethargically to rise from the 16-acre site, the unofficial estimated date of the completion for the brand new “1 World Trade Center” was said to be 2018. That date should shame every American.

What happened? Everyone knows the “amber waves of grain” and “purple mountain majesties” in “America the Beautiful,” but Katharine Lee Bates’ words are also a hymn to modernity:

Oh beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears…

America the Beautiful” is not a nostalgic evocation of a pastoral landscape but a paean to its potential, including the gleaming metropolis. Miss Bates visited the Columbian Exposition in Chicago just before July 4, 1893, and she meant the word “alabaster” very literally: the centerpiece of the fair was the “White City” of the future, fourteen blocks of architectural marvels with marble facades painted white, and shining even whiter in the nightly glow of thousands of electric light bulbs, like a primitive prototype of Al Gore’s carbon-offset palace in Tennessee. They were good times, but even in bad the United States could still build marvels. Much of the New York skyline dates from the worst of times. As Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers sang in the Thirties: “They all laughed at Rockefeller Center, Now they’re fighting to get in…”

The Empire State Building, then the tallest in the world, was put up in eighteen months during a depression — because the head of General Motors wanted to show the head of Chrysler that he could build something that went higher than the Chrysler building. Three-quarters of a century later, the biggest thing either man’s successor had created was a mountain of unsustainable losses — and both GM and Chrysler were now owned and controlled by government and unions.

In the months after 9/11, I used to get the same joke emailed to me every few days: the proposed design for the replacement World Trade Center. A new skyscraper towering over the city, with the top looking like a stylized hand — three towers cut off at the joint, and the “middle finger” rising above them, flipping the bird not only to Osama bin Laden but also to Karlheinz Stockhausen and the sneering Euro-lefties and all the rest who rejoiced that day at America getting it, pow, right in the kisser; they all laughed at the Twin Towers takedown. Soon they’ll be fighting to get into whatever reach-for-the-skies only-in-America edifice replaces it. The very word “skyscraper” is quintessentially American: it doesn’t literally scrape the sky, but hell, as soon as we figure out how to build an even more express elevator, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t.

But the years go by, and they stopped emailing that joke, because it’s not quite so funny after two, three, five, nine years of walking past Windows on the Hole every morning. It doesn’t matter what the eventual replacement building is at Ground Zero. The ten-year hole is the memorial: a gaping, multi-story, multi-billion-dollar pit, profound and eloquent in its nullity.

As for the gleam of a brand new “White City,” well, in the interests of saving the planet, Congress went and outlawed Edison’s light bulb. And on the grounds of the White City hymned by Katherine Lee Bates stands Hyde Park, home to community organizer Barack Obama, terrorist educator William Ayers, and Nation of Islam numerologist and Jeremiah Wright Award-winner Louis Farrakhan. That’s one fruited plain all of its own.

In the decade after 9/11, China (which America still thinks of as a cheap assembly plant for your local KrappiMart) built the Three Gorges Dam, the largest electricity-generating plant in the world. Dubai, a mere sub-jurisdiction of the United Arab Emirates, put up the world’s tallest building and built a Busby Berkeley geometric kaleidoscope of offshore artificial islands. Brazil, an emerging economic power, began diverting the Sao Francisco River to create some 400 miles of canals to irrigate its parched northeast.

But the hyperpower can’t put up a building.

Happily, there is one block in Lower Manhattan where ambitious redevelopnment is in the air. In 2010, plans were announced to build a 15-story mosque at Ground Zero, on the sight of an old Burlington Coat Factory damaged by airplane debris that Tuesday morning.

So, in the ruins of a building reduced to rubble in the name of Islam, a temple to Islam will arise.

A couple of years after the events of that Tuesday morning, James Lileks, the bard of Minnesota, wrote:

If 9/11 had really changed us, there’d be a 150-story building on the site of the World Trade Center today. It would have a classical memorial in the plaza with allegorical figures representing Sorrow and Resolve, and a fountain watched over by stern stone eagles. Instead, there’s a pit, and arguments over the usual muted dolorous abstraction approved by the National Association of Grief Counselors.

The best response to 9/11 on the home front — if only to demonstrate that there is a “home front” (which is the nub of al-Qaeda’s critique of a soft and decadent West) — would have been to rebuild the World Trade Center bigger, better, taller — not 150 stories but 250, a marvel of the age. And, if there had to be “the usual muted dolorous abstraction,” the National Healing Circle would have been on the penthouse floor with a clear view all the way to al-Quaeda’s executive latrine in Waziristan.

Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Committee on Foreign Relations, is not right-winger but rather a sober, respected, judicious paragon of torpidly conventional wisdom. Nevertheless, musing on American decline, he writes: “The country’s economy, infrastructure, public schools and political system have been allowed to deteriorate. The result has been diminished economic strength, a less-vital democracy, and a mediocrity of spirit.”

That last is the one to watch: a great power can survive a lot of things, but not “a mediocrity of spirit.” A wealthy nation living on the accumulated cultural capital of a glorious past can dodge its rendezvous with fate, but only for so long. “Si monumentum requiris, curcumspice” reads the inscription on the tomb of Sir Christopher Wren in St. Paul’s Cathedral: If you seek my monument, look around. After two-thirds of the City of London was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, Wren designed and rebuilt the capital’s tallest building (St. Paul’s), another fifty churches, and a new skyline for a devastated metropolis. Three centuries later, if you seek our monument, look in the hole.

It’s not about al-Qaeda. It’s about us.


Buy his book.

GBR Update

Sorry about the lack of posting, but I’ve either been busy or asleep.

Yesterday was the regular “shoot what ya brung, and what everyone else brung, too,” range trip. I brought all my target stuff, and spent the day whacking steel and scaring a 55 gallon oil drum. I did get to run a magazine through U.S. Citizen’s suppressed Uzi, and I put a few rounds through the Weatherby Vanguard that Allen Forkner brought for us to shoot. I let a lot of people shoot my guns. The most popular was the LRB M25, followed by the .260 Remington Encore pistol, but as usual, if anyone showed any interest, it was “wanna shoot it?” at every table.

Today it was a repeat of last year’s Steel Challenge shoot, with three stages set up, and a special fourth two-gun stage sponsored by Sig and Weatherby. Weatherby provided a 12-gauge tactical pump, very similar to the Benelli Nova, and Sig a new folding-stock AR-style .22. At that stage we shot six rounds through the rifle, two hits each on three plates, then two rounds through the shotgun at clays in holders. We each made three runs. Tonight we’ll find out how we did.

I’m about to head back downstairs for a little more conversation before dinner and more conversation, followed by our annual raffle. Hopefully this year I’ll win a gun. Afterward comes more conversation.

You really should have come.

I Have Arrived

I’m checked in, unpacked, and internet connected – at connection speeds undreamed-of by Motel-6.

For those of you nerdy enough to care, my average speed on the trip up was 64MPH, mileage was a hair over 24MPG, and the Mustang does an indicated 140 at 4,000RPM in sixth gear, smooth as glass.  It will go faster, but I won’t.

I’ve already spoken to U.S. Citizen, who got here before I did.  Dinner is at 6-o’clock at the El Dorado Buffet.  Right now, I’m going to kick back and get caught up on my web surfing.

Halfway There

Well, a bit over 400 miles and seven-some hours later, I’m at a Motel 6.  The “high speed” internet here tests out at 2.5 Mbps, but the ping time must be glacial.

Want to know how to tell when you’ve reached old-farthood?  When you’re jazzed to find out that your 400Hp musclecar gets 24.9MPG at a steady 75MPH with a trunk full of ordnance.

Anyway, Reno tomorrow.  See you there, I hope!

Weird? No. Not Even Unexpected, Really.

Tucson has its own alt.weekly, The Tucson Weekly, which offers Tucsonans of a Leftist bent an even more “progressive” outlet for their information needs, and allows those of us to the right of Genghis Khan the ability to keep tabs on them a bit.

One of the features of the Weekly is an excerpt from News of the Weird, six or so stories the editors find particularly interesting each week.  Here are three that were selected for this week’s edition that I, too, found particularly interesting.  First, in local government:

Catch-22: NYPD officer James Seiferheld, 47, still receives his $52,365 annual disability pay despite relentless efforts of the department to fire him. He had retired in 2004 on disability, but was ordered back to work when investigators found him doing physical work inconsistent with “disability.” However, Seiferheld could not return to work because he repeatedly failed drug screening (for cocaine). Meanwhile, his appeal of the disability denial went to the state Court of Appeals, which found a procedural error and ordered that Seiferheld’s “disability” benefits continue (even though the city has proven both that he is physically able and a substance-abuser). [New York Post, 7-12-2011]

Then in Federal government:

Once hired, almost no federal employee ever leaves. Turnover is so slight that, among the typical causes for workers leaving, “death by natural causes” is more likely the reason than “fired for poor job performance.” According to a July USA Today report, the federal rate of termination for poor performance is less than one-fifth the private sector’s, and the annual retention rate for all federal employees was 99.4 percent (and for white collar and upper-income workers, more than 99.8 percent). Government defenders said the numbers reflect excellence in initial recruitment. [USA Today, 7-20-2011]

Apparently this inability to relieve someone for cause extends from municipalities all the way up to at least the Federal Bench:

Of the 1,500 judges who referee disputes as to whether someone qualifies for Social Security disability benefits, David Daugherty of West Virginia is the current soft-touch champion, finding for the claimant about 99 percent of the time (compared to judges’ overall rate of 60 percent). As The Wall Street Journal reported in May, Daugherty decided many of the cases without hearings or with the briefest of questioning, including batches of cases brought by the same lawyer. He criticized his less lenient colleagues, who “act like it’s their own damn money we’re giving away.” (A week after the Journal report, Judge Daugherty was placed on leave, pending an investigation.) [Wall Street Journal, 5-19-2011, 5-27-2011]

And, oh hell, let me throw in one more example of .gov employees giving away other people’s money:

Gee, What Do We Do With All This Stimulus Money? The Omaha (Neb.) Public School system spent $130,000 of its stimulus grant recently just to buy 8,000 copies of the book “The Cultural Proficiency Journey: Moving Beyond Ethical Barriers Toward Profound School Change” (Two stars on Amazon.  By all means, read the reviews.)  — that is, one copy for every single employee, from principals to building custodians. Alarmingly, wrote an Omaha World-Herald columnist, the book is “riddled with gobbledygook,” “endless graphs,” and such tedium as the “cultural proficiency continuum” and discussion of the “disequilibrium” arising “due to the struggle to disengage with past actions associated with unhealthy perspectives.” [Omaha World-Herald, 7-11-2011]

Those four examples came from one single week of News of the Weird.

Weird, (adj) – of strange or extraordinary character

But none of these items are “of strange or extraordinary character” today. They’re just Standard Operating Procedure for our government, be it municipal, county, state or federal.  The entire system is occupied by people who share an overwhelmingly similar worldview, a worldview not shared at all by the overwhelming majority of the people they supposedly “serve.”  That’s one reason why we won’t be voting our way out of this mess.  It goes way beyond the people who get elected and the ones whom they appoint.  I mean, it’s not like it’s their money they’re wasting.

Screw it.  I’m going to Reno.

Prepping for the Rendezvous

I’m heading out for Reno tomorrow. I’ve decided to take two days going up, stopping in Beatty, NV on the first leg. All the firepower is in the Mustang now. I’m bringing the M25, the Remington 700 5R, my target AR-15, the Power Tool™ and my XP-100. For the Steel Challenge I’m bringing my first-gen Kimber Classic. I’m not bringing a lot of ammo because five years of doing this has proven to me that I’ll be lucky to put 50 rounds through each of the guns – excluding the Kimber. That one I hope to shoot quite a bit at the steel.

I’ll be heading out late morning, and hope to hit Beatty about 8 PM. Reno’s just a few more hours, so I hope to get there about check-in time.

See you at the Rendezvous!