'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

15 December 2014

A Response to Howard Tayler of Schlock Mercenary

I'm breaking my long silence in order to respond to this from Howard Tayler, the creator of Schlock Mercenary, an online web comic. It's entitled Law Enforcement, Violence and Racial Bias. I find it astoundingly one sided and profoundly ignorant. Now, I have read, supported and respected Mister Taylor for many, many years. Even sent him money. I've linked Schlock Mercenary on my blogroll for a long time. Yeah, that's over. It pains me to even say this but I suspect Mister Tayler may be a Social Justice Warrior. Maybe yes maybe no. Only time will tell I suppose. For me I'm going to assume the worst and act accordingly. You will note that he seems to have never taken comments on the post. A typical SJW tactic but I'm sure it's just a coincidence.

Some quick housekeeping. If you want to know my bonafides please peruse my archives under the tag Police. You'll see my writings on a variety of topics, including the Use of Force and Hysterical Incompetence. I have examined and talked about specific incidents and officers, sometimes in great and quite painful detail. I have stories and at least anecdotal evidence for my views. I try very hard to present my opinions in a logical manner, backed up by what I consider best evidence. I am hardly the smartest guy out there, indeed I suspect Mister Tayler is considerably smarter than I but, in my humble opinion, in that screed he exposes his ignorance of the subject matter on which he opines. On the other hand, based on my education and experience, I am at least a passable a subject matter expert on modern policing in America and on the use of force by those same police officers.

 In places I will go through Mister Tayler's post by paragraph, otherwise I'm going to simply write a general response and do my best to cover all the points he brought up. There's virtually zero chance he'll ever read this but on the off chance that a member of the Fascist Ilk should ooze by and notify him of my sacrilege I'm going to address most of this directly to Mister Tayler himself. Mister Tayler's words will appear in Italics. Like wise quotes from sources. All the rest are mine.

I read your post Mister Tayler and thought I'd respond and make a point or two. Since you never turned on the comments for your post I'm just going to have to do it here. I'm going to ask you a question first. You'll probably see it several times in the course of this post.

What have you done or are doing, besides writing that somewhat less than helpful screed, to address the issues you raised? If the answer is anything less than involvement in your local, state and perhaps even national politics and law enforcement so as to have a positive impact on police/race/public relations then I submit that you are part of the problem.

Policing does not take place in a vacuum. Contrary to what seems to be the current  popular opinion, the police do not take policy matters into their own hands or if they do then you do indeed have a broken department. Police departments (or Sheriff, Constable, what have you) operate under civilian control and oversight. Yes, the officers are themselves civilians but that's semantics. It's simply easier to refer to cops and civilians. And yes, I am very familiar with Sir Robert Peel. The politicians either directly set departmental policy or indirectly do so by hiring the Chief Officer and the command staff. In some cases (Sheriffs for example) they are directly elected by the populace. As you can see in either case there is an opportunity to exercise some form of control by the voters at the very least. Are you exercising what control and influence you have? Been to any city council meetings lately? Ever met your Police Chief? Officers? Does your department have a Citizen's Academy? Ride Along program? Volunteer Program? What does your local elected representative know about how the department works and what it's policies and procedures are? What have you done to address the issues you seem to be trying to call attention to? Does your department follow Community Policing guidelines? What is the Use of Force policy for your department and how is it taught? How much continuing professional training do your officers get and how is it mandated? If they do any or all of the above are you interacting with your officers and keeping a watchful eye on your reps? If not, why not?

But first. Let's take a quick peek at the FBI's annual Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) report for 2013. 
Here's a couple of snippets that tend to support the point I'm about to make;
For rookie and veteran officers going through LEOKA’s Officer Safety Awareness Training, it’s these first-hand accounts that bring the job’s dangers to the fore. “It’s a wake-up call for officers in the class to see and listen to an interview with an offender who has killed a police officer,” said McAllister, who conducts some of the interviews in addition to teaching the eight-hour seminars.
And
 “It makes a huge impact on these guys,” said Lt. Herb Rosenbaum, of the Trussville Police Department near Birmingham, Alabama. “When we’re out on the road, we all have a tendency to fall into a routine. You’ve made a thousand traffic stops and you’ve never been challenged. This brings it back to the forefront.

Officer Safety training is part of every police training curriculum I am aware of. If you know differently please do let me know. I have said on many occasions (and written about if you're still unconvinced to comb through my archives) that modern Officer Safety Training must be revised with more emphasis on common sense solutions to violent encounters and less emphasis on end of the world I'm about to be killed horror stories. But that doesn't mean that officer safety can be done away with and the officer's life ignored.

I used to tell my officers that it was important to remember that in each and every call they went to there was at least one gun present; theirs. A lot of cops are killed every year with their own weapons. Maybe that's something we should remember as well? Like the grand Jury in Ferguson did? Because it's pretty clear that Mister Brown tried to take Officer Wilson's weapon which turned a serious and potentially violent encounter into a lethal force encounter. That was Mister Brown's choice not Officer Wilson's.

Ok. Now take a read through this, "Do Policed Discriminate? Evidence from Multiple-Offender crimes" by Paul Heaton from RAND and Charles Loeffler from Harvard University. From the Abstract;
A large body of prior research examines whether differential arrest rates of minorities reflect disproportionate minority involvement in crime or institutional bias that targets enforcement towards minorities. This research has been limited by difficulties in measuring the extent to which minority offending differs from offending in general. In this paper we exploit the fact that some crimes are committed by groups of both Black and White offenders to estimate the extent to which minority offenders face differential probabilities of arrest. Our research design permits us to control for all observable and unobservable circumstances associated with each offense for this subpopulation. We find that Black offenders are 3% more likely to be arrested than their White counterparts. Although this difference suggests institutional bias against minorities, such bias is insufficient to explain the large racial arrest disparity.(emphasis mine)

Well that's hardly a ringing indictment against institutional racism in modern American policing now is it? Perhaps your training and education in the subject matter causes you to differ? Though I noted that your post was disappointingly thin on detail, facts or references. Not exactly pride inspiring but I'm betting 3% is probably pretty close to the margin of error. What was it you said? Oh yeah.
"I am afraid that our police officers are currently embedded in a culture where a number of factors, including racism, increase the likelihood that they will use lethal force against unarmed black males."
 Maybe not so much.

Now I've met a few DAs I liked. Kinda. But the fact is that most cops don't really like them and they don't really like us. We had a knock down drag out with our local DA when they charged a suspect who broke an officer's leg in a drunken brawl with an Infraction. That's like a traffic ticket. There isn't a DA alive who wouldn't sell their first born for a chance to prosecute an officer for some form of corruption or wrong doing. Frankly, I had a much better relationship with defense attorneys than any DA I ever met. So no, the cops and DAs do not love each other. And oh, in case you missed it, a lot of these cases are going to Grand Juries who are made up of the local citizenry. Quick, make a racist or demeaning comment about them. Here's a link to a paper on Vicarious Liability. If you're going to persist in promulgating the myth that officers and jurisdictions face no peril for the officer's actions perhaps a little light reading is in order.

Yes, in a lot of jurisdictions it's tough to fire a cop. That's both good and bad. If the agency is competent in HR matters they are identifying the problem candidates/officers early enough in the process to weed them out. Most have a probationary period where an officer can be fired for essentially no reason at all. For those who make it through their probationary period unfired it's harder but hardly impossible. It does take persistence and competence though. The first place to look is your elected rep for your fire lighting needs. There is a flip side though. Whistle-blowers. Take a look at the ATF for all you need to know about how they are treated. Employment rights, like California's Peace Officer's Bill of Rights are written specifically to ensure fair treatment of officers by administrations that are more concerned with empire building and less concerned with public protection. Those laws came about precisely because so many agencies were trying to rid themselves of 'meddling priests'. Here's a quick story for you. We had a policy concerning insubordination that basically allowed the Chief to call most anything he didn't like insubordination. It was section 1.06. A few of us got so many for simply saying "No, I won't do that because it's unconstitutional" that we actually started a tongue in cheek club called the 106 Club. We had t-shirts and everything. It said 106 Club. Bad dog, no biscuit. Yep, I was one of them and if not for the protections provided by the POBR I'd have been fired and had no chance to influence my department toward constantly evaluating every situation for it's Constitutionality. It's competence we want out of our elected leaders not blanket power. Please remember that.

I do happen to agree with you about a few things. Officer Involved Shooting reporting is atrocious and uneven and needs to be addressed. I'm betting Officer Involved Shootings aren't under reported in the media though. Of course they pick and choose based on their own biases. Now where have I seen something like that recently? Hmmm. And I also agree that training on use of force is spotty and needs to be a lot better. Heck, I think all police training should be constantly reviewed and updated. There is essentially no such thing as an over trained officer.

And listen. You are hardly an expert on community/police relations so please forgive me if I take your 'diagnosis' for what it's worth (diddly) and seek my answers elsewhere. Arrogance and narcissism do not a subject matter expert make.

I have to present this one in it's entirety here. For context if nothing else.
"I said “factors.” Racism is the big one, but the word “racism” is a heavily overburdened term. It has baggage. When I use it, I’m not suggesting that cops are consciously racist. I’m saying that there is an unconscious bias in place, and it centers upon skin color. I’ve found racism and other biases in my own work, and they’re hard to root out. So when I say “racism” it’s not an accusation. It’s a diagnosis."
Get help. If you're a racist then shame on you. May I suggest you work out your problems on your own? Kindly resist painting the rest of us with your broad, self portrait brush. Especially the half million or so police officers simply trying to do the most difficult job in America as best they can. Hey, here's someone who agrees with me!

And here we come to the true crux of your argument. Victimhood and your attempt to don that cloak onto your own shoulders.
If I were black, I’d be outraged, and terrified, and I would feel helpless to change the system.

I’m white, and frankly, I’m a lot more afraid of police officers than I used to be. I’m outraged, and terrified, and I feel helpless to change the system.
First off you're not black so please check your white privilege and stop it with the SJW White Knighting. Second. You may very well be so delicate that you're feeling outraged and terrified but if you are saying you're helpless to effect change you're either stupid or disingenuous. Buck up Skippy and give your local elected representative a call and talk things over. Maybe take in a council meeting. You're not helpless you just want to be a victim. You have enormous potential influence. If you choose not to use it for the good of society as you envision it that's entirely on you.

 I’m also grieving. I hurt for those who have lost loved ones. I identify with them. I have a daughter Michael Brown’s age. I have a son Tamir Rice’s age. My kids cosplay like Darrien Hunt did.  I’m a little older than Eric Garner, and like him I have asthma, and children. Some might say that it’s a good thing my family and I are white, but that shouldn’t have to be a good thing, and it hurts to know that some might say that.
Again with the inserting yourself into a discussion that is not about you. How about trying for a little less emotional response? No? Too hard?
Ok, I'm going to go through this carefully so please pay attention.
Michael Brown tried to kill Officer Darren Wilson. In my opinion Officer Wilson was either stupid or really poorly trained to put himself in the position that he did but once things went to a struggle for his gun and shots were fired it was Katy bar the door. A suspect who will try and kill an officer is one who will try and kill anyone. Bad approach, justified shoot. Cause for retraining (and maybe the command staff/Chief's jobs) but not for  prosecution. The Grand jury thought so as well. Didn't you hear or do you just not care what the local citizens thought?

Darien Hunt had a sword. Doesn't matter a whit whether or not it was a display sword or dull or whatever. It was a deadly weapon. Period. If they'd let him go and he'd hurt or killed someone else it would have been their fault. Once the officer's made that initial contact they were duty bound to see it through to the end. Hunt ran and according to the officers turned on them with the sword.

Tamir Rice is the real tragedy here. I have to wonder where his parents were and I have serious doubts about the involved officer. 

Eric Garner. Yeah, I hate that one too but, again, once the decision to arrest was made and he resisted they were legally allowed to use enough force to overcome that resistance. Constitutional law, legally entitled to be where they were, reasonable initial contact. If he'd gone with the officers Mister Garner would likely be alive today. And here's another place where you can have an impact. Make your case for outlawing the Carotid Restraint. Hell, I'll help you! And how about some vitriol where it belongs? That law against tobacco was made by Mayor Bloomberg, as vile a liberal SJW as has ever existed. Those officers weren't enforcing a made up statute. It was enacted into law by elected officials put into office by people like you. Or, being totally fair, us. Want officers to exercise discretion on what laws they enforce or how they enforce them? Fine, but kindly refrain from complaints when some decide that laws against activity you find abhorrent shouldn't be enforced or that those violating such should be treated with kid gloves instead of handcuffs. My view is that officers should be absolutely neutral and leave the decision on what should be outlawed to their elected supervisors. Which brings up another round of mirror looking from all of us (including you) who allow such nuisance laws to be on the books in the first place.

In three of the four cases you cited it is clear to me that if the decedent had complied with the officer's orders and submitted/obeyed he'd be alive to sue those officers at this very minute (inherent or incipient medical conditions notwithstanding). The problem with most of these (Tamir Rice being the exception) is you didn't get the result you wanted and to hell with what the evidence and facts said. Here's another clue for ya. The local Grand Juries and/or DA determined that the officers acted within the scope of the law. What, those most involved and with a stake in the outcome get no say at all? If you really want to end police shootings may I suggest you simply disarm the police completely? Or a blanket legal decision by the Supreme Court that all police shootings are unjustified. Because anything short of that is wishful thinking. No police guns = no police shootings. Blanket prosecutions = no police shootings because there won't be any cops left. Win win, right? The clear lesson is do what the nice officer asks and everything will work itself out in the end. That's what civil courts are for you know.

I have friends, some of them quite close, who are police officers. I hold them in high regard. They tackle a demanding, dangerous job with an attitude of selflessness that I admire and aspire to. One of those friends once told me that he’d rather take a punch than throw one, and would prefer to take a bullet than take a life. In his work, he daily seeks to defuse situations so that they do not come down to kill-or-be-killed decisions. His approach demands a skill set that looks like a mash-up of dual PhDs in sociology and psychology along with being a champion of speed chess.
Yes. And no. I agree with everything except the punch and bullet and those are kinda biggies. Remember what I said about a gun being at every scene with an officer present? What your friend is saying is that he'd rather be knocked out and allow a felon to possess his weapon to unknowable ends than defend himself and the public he swore his oath to. Same with taking a bullet. Better to leave the clean up to someone else rather than take his responsibilities seriously. It's called Moral Cowardice. What did Heinlein say about this? "Your life isn't yours to throw away in a vain grab at glory nor it it yours to keep should the situation call for you to spend it." A good officer is one who can recognize the difference when faced with that call not one who baldly announces his intention to abandon his duty and rely on his betters to unscrew his mess. Do your friend and the rest of us a favor. Convince him to seek out a profession better suited to his personality and moral compass. And this is coming from a man who once saved a black man's life by choosing to take him on hand to hand while he was trying to draw a pistol. Yeah, there wasn't any media attention paid to that one. I wonder why. Come to think of it, you didn't mention it either. Didn't know? Neither did anyone else outside the officers I worked with. If you're the least bit intellectually honest you will ponder on that for a bit.

As for the rest, I agree. An officer is one who must keep his or her head in each and every situation they may face. Must. When all is chaos and madness the one person we rely upon keep calm and bring about order and peace is the beat cop. All too often one of us fails but that's because our police forces are made up of fallible humans. We ask them to be perfect but we don't really expect it because we know that's impossible. A good officer is one who constantly strives for that perfection. The solution is to help them and help our agencies to identify good candidates not to roundly scourge all for actions we don't like.

(NOTE: Comments are off, and will remain so. This is a position piece, not an invitation to have a discussion. I’ve written my thoughts, and if they inspire you to write yours, there are lots of better places for you to do so.)
How noble and problem solving of you. A position piece yet. Color me suitably impressed.

So, I'm going to ask of you again. What have you done or are doing to resolve the issues you raised? What standards are your very own local officers trained to? What do they think of their departmental policies concerning their actions in relation to the general public and how that impacts how they're viewed by those they police? What is your local elected representative's views on policing and how can you, working together, ensure reasonable, lawful and effective policing?

All of that to say this.

We don't get the policing we deserve, we get the policing we allow. That may be good. It may be indifferent. It may be bad. But it is a direct result of our actions or, more likely, inaction. I'm going to give you three words I hope you will remember and consider.
Hiring
Training
Retention
All three are areas where many of our police departments and municipalities are failing or are blatantly incompetent. Have a direct impact on any of those three areas and you can change law enforcement across the country. Don't speak to me of helplessness, speak to me of empowerment because I just gave you the ammunition you need for a revolution. I happen to agree that there are an awful lot of areas where law enforcement is failing. Unlike you, I am addressing those things and making an impact where and when I can. Not to mention the 24 years I spent on the inside.

 You are stoking the flames of racial hatred and divide with your nasty little poison post against American policing. Do us all a favor and get yourself both better informed and more involved. Otherwise you're nothing more than just another poo flinging monkey and, Great Ghu, we have enough of those.

Goodbye Mister Tayler. Believe it or not this whole things troubles me greatly and it pains me to do this. Thank you for providing me with entertainment for so many years. I have been a smart ass and at times insulting but I am passionate about this, the profession I devoted my working life (and a good bit of my body) to. I hold no ill will against you. I wish you well in your future endeavors and leave you with this offer. If you should choose to take me up on my challenge to you to get more involved you have only to ask and I will offer you whatever assistance or advice I can provide. All I ask is that you do so with a pure heart and an open mind. And if you remain unconvinced perhaps you will give me the chance to change your mind.

In any case fare well.

Six

27 November 2014

Happy Thanksgving

From all of us at the Six and DO households, we wish you and yours the very best this Thanksgiving.  We hope you had the chance to spend the day with friends and family, and to reflect on the blessing of your life.  Oh, and I hope the turkey was tasty!

~The DO

17 November 2014

Black... Tursday? Yea or Nay?

I think I'm fighting a losing battle.  I've long refused to shop on Thanksgiving day and it seems that I'm becoming one of the very few who does.  Opening the store at 5pm does not mean employes had the day with their families, anyone who has worked retail knows that entire day is dedicated to being prepared for those doors to open.  To shop on Thanksgiving is to doom those that could have spend their day thankful with their families to a day of work supporting the base desire to have more stuff.  Hey, I'm all for Christmas, presents, and capitalism, I'm just sad that it is at the expense of family and of being THANKFUL for what we already have.  Last year I broke my vow, and though we got good deals, I didn't feel... wholesome, I suppose.  I truly felt like I was supporting the wrong cause.  So, whether I'm the last to support the idea of a day of thanks and not of commerce, I have to stand my ground.  I take the pledge that no matter how good those deals, I will not shop on Thanksgiving day.

What about you all?  Am I crazy?  The lone voice of a fading age?  Will you be shopping this Thanksgiving day?

~The DO

15 October 2014

Boy Scouts and sexual orientation

(I have a link here for popcorn sales, details are at the end of the post)

So I had an interesting conversation the other day.  My son is in the Cub Scouts and we have been selling popcorn in the neighborhood (*you can order, too, if you want!  You can even order popcorn to be sent to the troops!!) and for the most part people have been excited to share their experiences and to help out.  Cute 8 year old face with an adorable speech, and in complete Class A uniform, he's hard to resist.  We even had an Eagle Scouts dad pass on his sons old aluminum frame backpack he'd used during camping. 

But not everyone is okay with the Scouts.  We had an older gentleman tell us that, though he supports the idea of scouting, he could not support the Boy Scouts themselves as they allow homosexuals to be members.  It was obvious nothing I was going to say would change his mind, but it's been something that has been bothering me since.  I figured if I put it out here I could get it out of my mind.  See, the problem I have with that argument is that there seems to be an assumption that gay members would have a dramatic impact on Scouting, but also assumes the reverse isn't true.  What I mean is, the assumption seems to be that allowing homosexuals in scouting would bring gay culture into the program and negatively influence the boys.  Boys will learn to be men, somehow and from someone.  Excluding them from the Boy Scouts only limits where they can go to learn how to be men, and leaves a much more disturbing community for them to go to, the gay community.

I'll be honest, the hard-core gay community bothers me.  Not because of their bedroom activities but because of their aggressiveness in pushing their lifestyle.  Certain areas and certain "parades" in San Francisco are notorious for their brazen and disturbing behavior.  What is better, then?  To have boys and men feel that they are not accepted in Scouting and to look for a place they are accepted and to end up in some version of the gay community?  Scouting teaches boys to be patriotic, the leftist world of the gay community teaches socialism.  The Scouts promotes self-reliance and team work, the gay community promotes victim-hood.  Which do we want to foster in the next generation, gay or straight? 

While I appreciate that this man has his beliefs on religion and abnormal behavior, the fact is Scouting is there to build capable, responsible men.  As for the adults, these boys need men in their lives who can demonstrate moral behavior and self-reliance regardless of who their significant other is.  The Scouts has a very thorough program in place to minimize any inappropriate behavior, including making sure no child sleeps in a tent with an adult not his parent and a clear no one-on-one contact rule.  So, again, the abuse of years past came not from gay members but from men who were willing to destroy children.  I will not make the case that the two are the same.  These men were looking for victims, and openly gay leaders simply want to help children grow.

Can they be one in the same?  Sure.  I'm sure many abusers were gay, but that is not causality.  Nor was it this man's point.  His point was they were gay.  Period.  Being gay is unacceptable, and so because the Scouts allow a sinning member in their ranks he was unsupportive.   I hate to tell you all, but I'm a sinner.  I would hope that wouldn't stop you from supporting an organization that helps boys become helpful members of society. 

So what do you all think?  Am I completely off base?  Do some of you have the same issue as he, and can you help me understand why?  I just want these men and boys to be a part of an organization trying to make America better, and not part of a community trying to destroy it one bakery at a time.

~The DO

*(As stated above, we have popcorn if you would like to support the Scouts.  For full disclosure, 70%  percent goes to local Scouting and part does go to my son to help pay for activities like camping and supplies.  The BSA also has an option to buy popcorn they will send to the troops, if that is more your style. If you are interested here is the link. 

 POPCORN

Thank you so much for you support!!)

24 September 2014

DO here

The Six is still contemplating his directions, but I came across a video I felt I just had to share.  As a woman I've been at odds and uncomfortable with the shrill feminists ideologies and arguments.  This video sums up exactly my arguments.  As a veteran of the military, and a college graduate, I did not allow myself to be forced into a stereotypical role when I chose to stay home with my kids.  On the contrary, I fought for it.  My feminism brainwashed husband felt, not that my place was in my home, but my place was in the workplace earning equal money to support the family.  Yet that story is poo pooed by the typical feminist, and I'm called any number of harsh names.  As I don't support their paradigm, I'm the enemy.



~The DO

22 June 2014

Summer Vacation

When Murphy's Law was here we discussed blogging in general and this one in particular. I indicated that I was strongly leaning toward stopping. He encouraged me to continue and listed his reasons. I respect him, both as a friend and fellow blogger, but...

I'm burnt out. I'm having trouble just tending to this blog much less writing anything useful or interesting. It's nothing I can point my finger at, just the sense that I'm done.

But in the interest of making sure and as a nod to ML I'll hold off making a final decision for a bit. Instead I'm taking the Summer off. My daughter and grandkids are here and the grandkids are staying through August.

When they return home I'll dust off the blog and we'll see where I am. That will give me a chance to decide whether or not I want to continue. I hope you all understand and will forgive me. Call it a funk, writer's block, what have you but I need to tend to my soul for a bit.

Thank you to each and every one of you who has read my scribblings and graced me with your love and input. I appreciate all of you more than I can say or ever repay.

Stay safe all of you and remember what is most important in each of your lives. You have meant the world to me. If I'm lucky I'll find my muse again. If not then I won't. Life is what it is my friends.
Six

15 June 2014

Sunday Kipling - Father's Day Edition

ML came and shot a class with me last weekend (as many of you know). It was great and I'll write something up on it this week. It was great hosting and getting to know him.

More repairs on the Ford. At 10 years old and 120,000 miles it may at last be time to consider getting something new. It's starting to cost me a bit to keep it up to speed.

Lu is good. The DO and grandkids will be here on Tuesday. Cannot wait!

We bought the materials for the new sunshade frame yesterday. Better than 500 bucks worth. Ouch! Look for a couple of posts on our next (and hopefully last for the Summer) project.

Angus is really doing well. Energetic, happy and full of life. He loved ML btw. Go figure. Of course the very first thing ML did when they met was to hand Angus a toy. Almost like he knows a little about dogs or something.

A Happy Father's Day to my son in law, AFSon, and to all the dads out there. This country would not exist without you. Here's to ya!
 Six
(And the poem is The Knife and the Naked Chalk, not Naked Chick. Guys. Amiright?)

Song of the Men's Side

Neolithic

"The Knife and the Naked Chalk"
-- Rewards and Fairies
    Once we feared The Beast--when he followed us we ran,
      Ran very fast though we knew
    It was not right that The Beast should master Man;
      But what could we Flint-workers do?
    The Beast only grinned at our spears round his ears--
      Grinned at the hammers that we made;
    But now we will hunt him for the life with the Knife--
       And this is the Buyer of the Blade!

         Room for  his shadow on the grass--let it pass!
            To left and right-stand clear!
         This is the Buyer of the Blade--be afraid!
           This is the great god Tyr!

    Tyr thought hard till he hammered our a plan,
      For he knew it was not right
    (And it is not right) that The Beast should master Man;
      So he went to the Children of the Night.
    He begged a Magic Knife of their make for our sake.
      When he begged for the Knife they said:
    "The price of the Knife you would buy is an eye!"
      And that was the price he paid.

         Tell it to the Barrows of the Dead--run ahead!
            Shout it so the Women's Side can hear!
          This is the Buyer of the Blade--be afraid!
            This is the great god Tyr!

    Our women and our little ones may walk on the Chalk,
      As  far as we can see them and beyond, 
    We shall not be anxious for our sheep when we keep
      Tally at the shearing-pond.
    We can eat with both our elbows on our knees, if we please,
      We can sleep after meals in the sun,
    For Shepherd-of-the-Twilight is dismayed at the Blade,
      Feet-in-the-Night  have  run!
    Dog-without-a-Master goes away (Hai, Tyr, aie!),
      Devil-in-the-Dusk has run!

    Then:
         Room for his shadow on the grass-let it pass!
            To left and to right--stand clear!
         This is the Buyer of the Blade--be afraid!
            This is the great god Tyr!

06 June 2014

A Visitor Is Coming

A few weeks ago I signed up for a rifle class taught by on Avery and Keith Garcia (who is a very good shooter on the Pro 3GN series). Murphy's :aw of Lagniappe's Lair fame decided he'd come out and join me. Woo Hoo!

In addition he's going to hang out forma few days and see the sights. Zion's, Bryce and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon are all on the to see list. Throw in some hiking and trail riding and it should be a fun time. The house is ready and we're anxiously awaiting his arrival today.

The guns are ready for this weekend and plenty of ammo and adult beverages are prepared. Not that we'll mix the two!

Angus promises to be on his best behavior. He swears. Me, not so much. I'm only half civilized after all.

Pics and write ups as time and energy allow. Lu and I are looking forward to showing ML a little Southern Utah hospitality.
Six

03 June 2014

Despair

The news of the repatriation of Mister Bergdahl for the price of however many innocents those 5 released terrorists will kill hit the airwaves and intertubes pretty hard yesterday. It caused me some reflection that bordered on, but did not cross into, despair. But first, the anger.

On the basis of what I've read, heard and generally learned I'm convinced that Mister Bergdahl is at best a deserter and possibly a traitor. The final evidence is still to come out but for the nonce I am disinclined to give him any benefit of the doubt. Go visit This Ain't Hell for more. They're doing bang up work. BTW, I refuse to give him a rank nor refer to him in any way as a member of the American Armed forces until he explains his actions 5 years ago and what he's been doing in that time. The President freed 5 pretty hard core jihadis to bring that person home and initial indications are that he did it in violation of current law that requires him to notify Congress 30 days prior to the exchange taking place. None of that is a surprise. The President is working pretty hard to destroy the military and has done a fair job to this point. But that's nothing new either, is it?

I entered the military service of my country in March 1977. That was a bare few months after Jimmy Carter took office. I remember those years very well. The Army was in the process of a little self destruction in the wake of Vietnam and our disastrous decision to end it on an ignominious note. Basically the politicians spit on the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of our men and women who gave so much when asked and then were denied the honor and fidelity their courage had earned. No wonder that the Army started to come apart at the seams. Morale was low, leadership virtually non-existent. Virtually, not completely. There was still a core of dedicated officers and NCOs who managed to hold things together and were the seed upon which Reagen grew our modern military. The very ones who have steadily kicked ass and taken names everywhere so tasked.

But under the current political leadership we're seeing more of the same. We left Iraq to it's own devices only to see it backslide into massive sectarian violence and an unsettling relationship with Iran. We're about to do in Afghanistan just about what we did in Vietnam in 1975; leave with our tails firmly tucked between our legs. There (probably) won't be any dramatic, last minute helicopter flights full of refugees for the nightly news but anyone who thinks the Taliban won't be firmly back in control about 5 minutes after we leave isn't paying attention. I know we're leaving about 10,000 in country but all that does is open the door for an actual repeat of those infamous helicopter rides, a few more flag draped coffins and more veterans for the VA to fail.

Now, lest I be called hypocritical, I want us out of Iraq and Afghanistan but only because we've already screwed both of those pooches. Staying at this point is throwing away more precious American lives to no good result. The chance for a total victory is long past. The problem is those very lost opportunities and the men and women we've sacrificed, once again, on the altar of political expediency and failed foreign policy. And this Bergdahl mess is the cherry on top. Pay any price to get this person back but screw our veterans and the people we sacrificed in Libya.

We have refused to fight to win. We have demoted and run out of the military combat commanders who at the very least had their fingers on the answers. We have pushed our combat veterans and wounded warriors aside and relegated them to second class status. The bureaucracy sustains itself at the cost of the very lives of our best and brightest. Veterans and their supporters are incensed at their treatment by the VA and this administration answers that outrage by trading enemy combatants for a questionable soldier? What message is being sent here? That's easy. It's the same one Jimmy Carter sent. A view that every fascistic leftist in this country has always held.

Contempt. For the military, for the Constitution, for America. For anyone not of their political and cultural persuasion. I remember this country under Carter. I remember what the Army was like. I can sum it up with one word.

Despair. A feeling that everything we loved and honored was dead and gone. Kinda like right now. Our Vietnam veterans were treated deplorably once they came home. Fortunately that's not the case with our current returning vets, at least so far as public support is concerned. Led by those very same Vietnam Vets we have publicly hailed our returning heroes even if this administration has used them as political pawns to be given no more than lip service. Even that is starting to come apart as the true feelings of the far left in power come to the fore. Take a gander at Mister Bergdahl's father with the sitting President in the Rose Garden. If you can stomach it. I won't link to it.

But I also remember the feeling when Reagan was elected. I remember those officers and NCOs who kept the faith and were ready, willing and able when the call came. They formed the core of what became once again the finest military in the history of the world. I remember an administration that actually did the work of the American people and took the fight to the Soviets and won. I remember the rekindling of hope and the death of despair.

I remember the "Shining City On The Hill" speech and the stir it gave my soul. I remember the return of Americanism and the idea that we are a special breed, not to be found anywhere else in the world. I remember the return of pride and discipline to my beloved Army. I remember Poland and Walesa and freedom in the Eastern Bloc. I remember when the wall came down. I remember the abject defeat of our bitter enemy the Soviet Union.

I remember a robust economy and the end of gas lines. I remember Reagan's 'joke' about the bombing starting in 5 minutes and how our enemies were never really certain whether or not he was serious (I think he was). I remember a foreign policy that contained a lot more 'Thou Shalt Not' than 'Please Forgive Us'.

I remember God's sacrifice on the cross and his promise to always be with us. To never forsake all who believed. I know how all this ends (We win).

And the despair passes like a gentle breeze.

Surrender, however inevitable defeat may seem, is never the answer. Courage and tenacity are. Reagan beat Carter in the general election and then beat him again when he took America to new heights. He erased everything Carter had ever done and stamped 'Failed' all over his presidency. We can do the same. This President will not be in office forever. His term expires in little more than 2 years and we have mid term elections in a few months. There are signs that the GOP has heard us though whether or not that lasts beyond next November remains to be seen. At least there are a few among their numbers who can be counted as solidly in the corner of American exceptionalism. I have stated loudly that I am no longer  Republican but that doesn't mean I'm not working actively to return them to our core values and thereby return myself to their fold. Maybe we can win at the ballot box and maybe we can't. I don't know. I do know that we cannot win a battle we refuse to fight.

I will take the mortal example of Reagan and the immortal one of Jesus to heart. I will keep my faith, I will never surrender to hopelessness or ennui, I will support and defend and I will smack the ever loving crap out of anyone who thinks that harsh language, fascism and political power trumps freedom, individualism and morality.

Courage, faith and hope. We owe them to those who proceed us.
Six

01 June 2014

Sunday Kipling

We're tired today but not as bad as feared.

Took Angus swimming. He's doing so well. He barely shows any sign of the break and two surgeries. I think taking out the plate has been a game changer though we're still keeping our fingers crossed.

Getting ready for a rifle class next weekend. A certain much beloved and famous blogger is coming out to shoot it with me. I can't wait to show him some Southern Utah hospitality and get in some trigger time with him. It's going to be immensely fun though I'm still gonna kick his tail at the range :)

All is well here at Casa Six. The sun is shining and we're feeling good. Angus is looking a lot like that puppy we brought home 3 years ago and that makes my heart sing. We'll fire up the grill, cook something hot and tasty and revel in the joys of life.

Tell your best friend you love them, give your best pal a tasty treat and give a prayer of thanks for all your blessings. See you all next week.
Six

Something light today.

The Story of Ung

Once, on a glittering ice-field, ages and ages ago,
Ung, a maker of pictures, fashioned an image of snow.
Fashioned the form of a tribesman -- gaily he whistled and sung,
Working the snow with his fingers.  Read ye the Story of Ung!
 
Pleased was his tribe with that image -- came in their hundreds to scan 
Handled it, smelt it, and grunted:  "Verily, this is a man!
Thus do we carry our lances -- thus is a war-belt slung.
Lo! it is even as we are.  Glory and honour to Ung!"
 
Later he pictured an aurochs -- later he pictured a bear 
Pictured the sabre-tooth tiger dragging a man to his lair 
Pictured the mountainous mammoth, hairy, abhorrent, alone 
Out of the love that he bore them, scribing them clearly on bone.
 
Swift came the tribe to behold them, peering and pushing and still 
Men of the berg-battered beaches, men of the boulder-hatched hill 
Hunters and fishers and trappers, presently whispering low:
"Yea, they are like -- and it may be --  But how does the Picture-man know?"
 
"Ung -- hath he slept with the Aurochs -- watched where the Mastodon roam?
Spoke on the ice with the Bow-head -- followed the Sabre-tooth home?
Nay!  These are toys of his fancy!  If he have cheated us so,
How is there truth in his image -- the man that he fashioned of snow?"
 
Wroth was that maker of pictures -- hotly he answered the call:
"Hunters and fishers and trappers, children and fools are ye all!
Look at the beasts when ye hunt them!"  Swift from the tumult he broke,
Ran to the cave of his father and told him the shame that they spoke.
 
And the father of Ung gave answer, that was old and wise in the craft,
Maker of pictures aforetime, he leaned on his lance and laughed:
"If they could see as thou seest they would do what thou hast done,
And each man would make him a picture, and -- what would become of my son?
 
"There would be no pelts of the reindeer, flung down at thy cave for a gift,
Nor dole of the oily timber that comes on the Baltic drift;
No store of well-drilled needles, nor ouches of amber pale;
No new-cut tongues of the bison, nor meat of the stranded whale.
 
"Thou hast not toiled at the fishing when the sodden trammels freeze,
Nor worked the war-boats outward through the rush of the rock-staked seas,
Yet they bring thee fish and plunder -- full meal and an easy bed 
And all for the sake of thy pictures."  And Ung held down his head.
 
"Thou hast not stood to the Aurochs when the red snow reeks of the fight;
Men have no time at the houghing to count his curls aright.
And the heart of the hairy Mammoth, thou sayest, they do not see,
Yet they save it whole from the beaches and broil the best for thee.
 
"And now do they press to thy pictures, with opened mouth and eye,
And a little gift in the doorway, and the praise no gift can buy:
But -- sure they have doubted thy pictures, and that is a grievous stain 
Son that can see so clearly, return them their gifts again!"
 
And Ung looked down at his deerskins -- their broad shell-tasselled bands 
And Ung drew downward his mitten and looked at his naked hands;
And he gloved himself and departed, and he heard his father, behind:
"Son that can see so clearly, rejoice that thy tribe is blind!"
 
Straight on the glittering ice-field, by the caves of the lost Dordogne,
Ung, a maker of pictures, fell to his scribing on bone
Even to mammoth editions.  Gaily he whistled and sung,
Blessing his tribe for their blindness.  Heed ye the Story of Ung!