Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Cascade Effect

Read this whole article over at Blackfive, and then consider how the risks in this Syrian adventure, so adamantly desired by The One, might be a smidgen higher than he thinks.

   "In "The Sum of All Fears (Jack Ryan) " Tom Clancy explores what happens when key players in events don't know each other and react both to worst-possible intents and on a purely personal basis (they attacked me/they tried to kill me). Of course, the day is saved by Jack Ryan who bravely blocks the cascade and ends it with that block, but keep in mind that is fiction. Honest question time: Can anyone tell me if the current POTUS, Valerie Jarrett, and other senior staffers have ever taken part in any serious emergency response exercise, or have they (like Clancy's characters) blown them off?

  "To make it really interesting, consider the following. Unless the Russian and other foreign intelligence organizations have gone completely out of business, the leaders in those countries know that there are discussions that military plans by the administration are considered by some (including political leaders) to be a "wag the dog" scenario; that there are strong divisions in the country around the Constitutionality of those proposed military actions by the administration; and, that many foreign leaders consider our leadership to be weak and inept when it comes to foreign policy. Then, add in consideration of how the administration might react to events/proclamations from abroad based on both past performance and their response to domestic considerations -- and that foreign leaders have been briefed on this and could see it as standard mode. Add in personal opinions of current leadership as expressed by foreign leaders involved. Let's not even get into the fact that the administration has been leaking details of attack plans like a sieve giving everyone and their pet time to prepare a response…
Now, add in the fact that no one in the administration has made a case for national interest, and have admitted that there is no plan beyond making a strike to 'send a message.' No goal has been articulated beyond that: immediate, intermediate, or end-state. Consider that Russia has begun moving fleet (and possibly other) military assets into the region, and indicated that it will regard any attack on Syria (ally/semi-client state) in the strongest possible terms. Consider that Iran has said it will launch against Israel if Syria is attacked. Consider what China has said about the situation. Look at what others in the region have said, much less among our allies in Europe and elsewhere."

   "All it will take for things to go bad, to extremely bad, is one "failure" at one cascade point. While the world is filled with cascade points and the potential for bad cascade effects, there are times, places, and valid reasons to proceed -- one of the best being that consideration of all the possibilities and probabilities can freeze one into inaction, which has its own negative consequences. That said, there being no clear and compelling reason of national interest (as opposed to internal political interest), and a host of obvious problematic (negative) cascade points, why proceed?"

Food for thought.

Messing around in the man cave this morning.

This is going to be great fun in the winter when it's cooler and rainy. 

The cost of allowing millions of low information voters to pick our president continues to climb

Richard Fernandez over at the Belmont Club sums up the latest Obama debacle very well.

  "But the crisis has not yet ended. It’s just moved from Syria to Washington. There is now a power vacuum in Washington. For either there’s a new President Obama — one who has learned to share power not only with the other branches, but also with other points of view within America — or a new President in the manner of Gerald Ford after Nixon left. The old omnipotent President Obama, able to make the seas fall, the child of the world uniquely equipped to build bridges everywhere, answerable only to himself, is gone.
As America’s leader the old Obama handed Syria, Russia and Iran and huge victory. Gave it to them on a platter with his vaunting, invincible stupidity. In the process, not only has he shot America in the foot on the world stage but he will have emboldened the Ayatollahs to forge ahead with their nuclear ambitions. He will have encouraged Russia to make a comeback in the region. We will shortly feel these effects in Egypt, Iran and even in Europe."
And don't think this latest presidential face plant is unique.  The multiple other failures and scandals of he and his party have simply been minimized here at home by his lap dog press. That can't happen as effectively on the international stage, so he pays more of a price.  We the people have to suffer the full consequences of all of it, however, and there are more than three years of his incompetence and corruption still to endure.  Let's hope we can recover when it's all said and done.

Grizzly Bear, or Yuma'peima, Umatilla Indian Reservation, Oregon

Impressive skills indeed

They aren't paying this GAL  enough.

Via Tai Wiki Widbee

It looked like a fool proof plan - warning, emphatic F bombs unloaded

Saturday Open Road

Too much going on Friday to get this up on time - sigh!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Stuck at work late, found this on Reddit

Ah - hmmm!

Fun with a piano

The mocking of Obama continues

The Brits get in a few good licks.

Sarge has the Friday Flyby up.

116 House members send a letter to Obama telling him he needs Congressional approval before striking Syria

If I were Obama, I'd answer, "Or what?"

Yesterday, instead of dealing with the quasi-constitutional crisis he is fostering, he met with a world leader, the former basketball great Magic Johnson.

His contempt for our institutions and laws knows no bounds.  I am sure someone on his staff mentioned the incongruity of this fluff meeting at the same time the Syrian issue is brewing, and he decided to spit in Congress' face by continuing to meet with Magic instead of congressional leaders.

Obama said he needed to do something to avoid being mocked.  Too late.

Freckles, they are good.

But her expression suggests she is very bad indeed.

I wonder...

If these political midgets recognized the irony of going in front of the massive statue of Lincoln, a Republican, to honor MLK Jr., another Republican?

Some of the worst living presidents, without a doubt, honoring the accomplishments and morality of their political opponents.

It's a wonder the Lincoln statue didn't come to life and stomp the living chit out of the four of those insects.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Now, even Democratic congressmen are pointing out the obvious.

To a supposed scholar on constitutional law.

Democratic congressman Jerrold Nadler appears to be warning President Obama in a statement released today on striking Syria. "Constitution Requires Congressional Authorization on Use of Force Against Syria," reads the title of Nadler's statement.
The text of the statement reads:
The Constitution requires that, barring an attack on the United States or an imminent threat to the U.S., any decision to use military force can only be made by Congress -- not by the President.  The decision to go to war -- and we should be clear, launching a military strike on another country, justified or not, is an act of war -- is reserved by the Constitution to the American people acting through their elected representatives in Congress. 
Since there is no imminent threat to the United States, there is no legal justification for bypassing the Constitutionally-required Congressional authorization. “Consultation” with Congress is not sufficient. The Constitution requires Congressional authorization.
The American people deserve to have this decision debated and made in the open, with all the facts and arguments laid out for public review and debate, followed by a Congressional vote. If the President believes that military action against Syria is necessary, he should immediately call Congress back into session and seek the Constitutionally-required authorization.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A more wretched hive of scum and villainy....

Or is Sharpton just picking Holder's pocket?

Whew! At least I won't have to worry about this anymore

201 Detroit public school teachers moonlight as de facto prostitutes.

Does that sound incredible?  201"suger babies" teaching your children?  In Philidelphia, 674 public school teachers have signed up to be "suger babies."

In a society debased and degenerate, that apparently raises no eyebrows.  All should be immediately fired, along with all management, and replaced lock, stock and barrel.

Couple that with the vulgar performances we commonly see on TV, and there is undoubtably a serious cultural problem.
The Syrian issue has been weighing on my mind recently, and mostly because of the inept response from our government to that nation's probable use of chemical weapons in their civil/religious war.

All that "Smart Power" that we were promised is looking more and more feckless as the days go on.

From the L A Times:

  "As U.S. officials discussed diplomatic and military options with allies in Europe and the Middle East, White Houseadvisors indicated Tuesday that they were unlikely to seek either a vote in Congress or at the U.N. Security Council to authorize use of force. Last week, Obama said he had concerns about launching an attack on Syrian PresidentBashar Assad's government without a U.N. mandate.
Russia and China would almost certainly veto or delay any U.N. resolution condemning Syria or sanctioning reprisal. Top British and French officials, who are likely to supportU.S. military action, have signaled they don't think a detour to the U.N. would be worthwhile."

As Obama himself once said, the use of force by the president, without a clear and imminent threat and without congressional approval is simply unconstitutional on it's face.

Any foreign military adventure such as this must have clear goals, and a plan to achieve those goals.  Apparently the administration told the LA Times that this is what they are thinking in that regard:

   "One U.S. official who has been briefed on the options on Syria said he believed the White House would seek a level of intensity "just muscular enough not to get mocked" but not so devastating that it would prompt a response from Syrian allies Iran and Russia.
"They are looking at what is just enough to mean something, just enough to be more than symbolic," he said."

That's a thin hair to split.   Anyone who has the hubris to think they can so finely predict the response of the Russians or the Iranians is very likely about to be introduced to Nemesis.

Reminds me of this scene from The Hunt For Red October:

And policy is being driven by a concern about being mocked?  All anyone has to do is recall this troubling image, and the anxiety over future mockery loses it's concern.  Let's not even google any of his impressive golfing pictures.

Ever see a picture of Vladimir Putin doing something like this?

Really, when the idea is to manage the Russians, who are led by a wily former KGB man; the Iranians, who think their holy Imam is going to come out of a well and bring the rest of the world to a fervently wished for destruction; and the inscrutable Red Chinese, then no one can have any confidence that this administration has any real grasp of the reality of the situation.

Further, Obama has done everything he can to appear indecisive and weak, which history proves only emboldens the aggressive totalitarians and fascists.  Wait, what are the Russians, the Iranians and the Red Chinese again?

In addition, the idiot administration has already telegraphed what it is going to do, and what message it wants to send by all this saber rattling, which really does nothing but allow our enemies to react and plan what they need to do to counter it.

A more incompetent and dangerous group of leaders this country has never had.  That they have control over the world's strongest military is mind boggling.   

World War III won't start because the fools and cowards that run our country couldn't face such a conflict, which our enemies know very well.  Let's hope the Russians, Iranians and Red Chinese don't call Obama's bluff by facing straight up to this unconstitutional aggression with threats of military response.   I'd be interested, if fearfully so, to see what the Obamanator would do in response to that, but likely he would be forced to retreat with his tail between his legs, humiliated and mocked world wide.

John Bolton tosses in his two cents:

Another good point of view. Notice that absolutely no one in the Obama administration ever addresses these issues?

A must see movie on the Warsaw uprising.

Once a year on august 1st, the people of Warsaw pay hommage to the fallen heroes that fought for freedom in 1944 during the Warsaw Uprising. The biggest rebellion against German Nazi occupation during WWII cost over 200 000 lives and destruction of the capital.

The Warsaw Uprising was a major World War II operation by the Polish resistance Home Army. The rebellion coincided with the retreat... of German forces and the Red Army approaching the eastern suburbs of the city.  The Soviet advance stopped short purposely, while Polish resistance against the German forces continued for 63 days with little outside support, and which the Soviets callously but correctly hoped would weaken both sides, and make them both easier pickings for the Red Army.

Now, the movie, which might be a must see in spite of the fact that it's in Polish.

Via the always good Free North Carolina

Swimming hole of dreams

Freckles, they are good.

Your morning P-51

Valhalla indeed

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

One of the first fruit trees planted in America - a pear tree - is still going strong at 383 years old.

Among the first wave of immigrants to the New World was an English Puritan named John Endicott, who in 1629, arrived to serve as the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Charged with the task of establishing a welcoming setting for new arrivals upon the untamed land, the Pilgrim leader set about making the area around modern-day Salem as homey as possible.
In approximately 1630, as his children watched on, Endicott planted one of the first fruit trees to be cultivated in America: a pear sapling imported from across the Atlantic. He is said to have declared at the time: "I hope the tree will love the soil of the old world and no doubt when we have gone the tree will still be alive."
For Arbor Day in 1890, poet Lucy Larcom composed about the old tree so long rooted in American history:
Such a wonder you may see;
For the patriarchal tree
Blossoms still, -- the living thought
Of good Governor Endicott.
Fruit again this year to bear;
Honor to that brave old pear!

Midwesterners get married, give not a whit about the tornado virtually in their back yard.

How liberal politicians put a gun to California's head and pull the trigger.

Rules for running your state into the ground, and creating a kind of Detroit lite.

  "It's not just Texas eating the economic lunch of basket-case states such as California and New York. Kansas City saw about 9,500 new jobs created between May 2012 and May 2013 — every one of them on the Kansas side of the border, where residents and businesses enjoy a significant tax advantage thanks in part to the leadership of Governor Sam Brownback and Kansas conservatives. Johnson County, Kan., gained nearly $800 million in adjusted gross income between 1992 and 2010, and the biggest chunk of it came from Jackson County, Mo., which is down some $1.78 billion in AGI over the same period."

Read more at the link to see a recipe for Democratic disaster (living the nightmare here in the Golden State).

Questions for President Obama on Syria

Donald Sensing asks some pointed questions about what appears to be an imminent attack on Syria by our military forces.

Given that the president only has authority to use them legally without congressional approval if there is an "actual or imminent" threat to America, and given that there has been precious little public discussion on what we are doing, what are objectives are, and what we are aiming to get out of all this, they are questions that should be answered immediately.

1. What is Assad's "actual or imminent threat" to America that justifies combat deployment of US forces on presidential order alone?

2. Absent such threat, what is his legal authority to send US forces into combat without prior Congressional approval? (Congressional approval, or not, may yet be forthcoming.)

3. What is the primary strategic objective that the United States will achieve through military forces that cannot be obtained otherwise? 

4. What is the moral imperative that justifies killing and being killed? 

5. Apart from opposing Assad, what exactly makes the Syrian revolutionaries worth the expenditure of American lives and treasure? 

6. The president is on record as saying that Assad must not remain in power. Does that mean that regime change is a US objective and if so, will US military power be used to achieve it?

7. If not, will a partition of Syria into territories controlled by Assad and the revolutionaries be acceptable, and if so, why?

8. What influence do you expect to have over the political nature of a potential revolutionary government? 

9. What are the conditions of success in Syria? What must happen before American combat forces are withdrawn? In other words, how will you know when you've won? 

There is minimal public support for this attack, because the administration has presented no justification for it, and has not prepared the American people for it.  At least Bush got approval from congress and the UN before invading Iraq.  It is instructive that Obama feels no need to do any of that.   It is likely that if the latest military adventure from the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize consists of anything more than a barrage of missiles, our "leader" will suffer the same political fate as his predecessor.  That would be reward enough.

Of course, it is a military principle for Democrats to tell the enemy what they plan to do days in advance!  Good job, General Obama!

Update: It appears that General Obama has in fact answered question number two, back in 2007.

2. In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites -- a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.
As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

So, where then is his authority to attack, using public resources, another sovereign country, without an imminent threat and without congressional approval?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Latest burn map on the Rim Fire

This is the latest map put out by Cal Fire on the country burned so far.  About the right 40% of the map, north to south, is in Yosemite or the Emigrant Wilderness Area.  

Keep in mind that not all the country is burned completely.  Some is, but other areas will have a spotty burn pattern with stands of trees that will be ok.

Here is a picture looking south on the ridge between Eleanor Lake on the left, and Cherry on the right.  You can just see a bit of Cherry through the saddle in near ridge.  From the map, the burn will be everything in the distance, and between the two lakes here pretty close up to the vantage point of the photo.

This is Eleanor from the inlet.  Both those far hills are burnt, and most everything on the left.  As you can see, it's getting to be granity at the inlet, which will slow down or stop the fire, depending on brush conditions.  It was pretty country.

Notice our canoe floating next to the big rock at the bottom of the picture, which gives a perspective on the size of the country.

Ever feel like selling everything and living on the road?

These people did it (are doing it) with a small child in tow.

Tomorrow Somewhere New from Dark Rye on Vimeo.

Via Lloyd Kahn

Mondays, they're like that.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The last and only Rowan, or witch's tree, on the Knoydart peninsula in Scotland

This is the only Rowan tree on the Knoydart Peninsula to survive the Highland clearances. It survived because of the Rowan mythology, which claims that every Rowan tree has a witch to whom it is sacred, and who will curse the one who fells it. Every woodsman in the clearances refused to cut this tree down.

The Rowan tree is one of the most sacred trees in Scottish folk tradition. ‘Scottish tradition does not allow the use of the tree’s timber, bark, leaves or flowers, nor the cutting of these, except for sacred purposes under special conditions.’ (Fife)
Rowan is one of the trees associated with Saint Brighid, the Celtic patroness of the arts, healing, smithing, spinning and weaving. Spindles and spinning wheels were traditionally made of Rowan in Scotland and Ireland. Rowan trees planted near stone circles in Scotland were especially powerful. Scottish Fairies were said to hold their celebrations within stone circles protected by Rowan trees. Modern interpretations of the Celtic Ogham place Rowan, called Luis, as the sacred tree of February.
Rowan twigs were placed above doorways and barns to protect the inhabitants against misfortune and evil spirits. It was one of the trees sacred to Druids and used for protection against sorcery and evil spirits. The Druids burnt Rowan on funeral pyres, for it also symbolized death and rebirth. The Druid Ovates and Seers burnt Rowan in rites of divination and to invoke spirits, and Druids used Rowan wood in rites of purification. Ancient Bards considered the Rowan the ‘Tree of Bards’, bringing the gift of inspiration. Rowan is one of the nine sacred woods burnt in the Druids’ Beltaine fire. Rowan is also associated with dragons and serpents - sacred Rowans were once guarded by dragons.
In America, the Rowan is usually referred to as Mountain Ash. Most sources maintain that the word ‘Rowan’ is derived from the Norse word rune, which means charm or secret, and runa, which is Sanskrit for magician. However according to Elizabeth Pepper, Rowan is a Scottish word, derived from the Gaelic rudha-an, which means ‘the red one’.
Rune staves were often cut from the rowan tree for amulets by the Norse people who invaded Scotland. In the Christian era, the twigs have been used for protection against witches, sorcery, negative magic and the Evil Eye. Twigs tied in a cross with red thread are affixed to doors and barns to keep the inhabitants and livestock from being enchanted, saying this charm, ‘Rowan tree and red thread, will put witches to their speed’ . Walking sticks made of rowan are used to protect the user from the spirits of the woods.
Rowan is also called the Witch Tree, or Wicken Tree, and can be used for divining precious metals, just as hazel can divine water. Witches used Rowan to increase their psychic powers, for spells of healing, success, protection, and often used the wood for their magic wands.

What we should all be doing after church today....

The Dutchman

Down in the mancave, we finally got the legs attached to the walnut round and thus as of now it's a functional table.

However, it has a couple of cracks, and I'm going to stabilize them with a Dutchman, or bow tie, insert.

Below, the two Dutchmen already cut and ready.  Now, I need to make a paper template, mark out the spots on the table, and fire up the router. I'll finish with chisels until the fit is as exact as I can make it.  Then, I'll refinish with some tough spar varnish.  Ahhh, the man cave.  The natural home of man stuff, like homemade tables, yard sale couches, and old family heirloom wood stoves.

 How professionals do it right. Hopefully my job will look half this good.

Spiritus Sanctus

Gaudi in Barcelona

Ball turret on a B-24J Liberator

It's long, but a fascinating view of the retractable ball turret on the belly of a B-24J Liberator, flying out of Stockton, California.

That last scene shows the Liberator landing at the Stockton Municipal Airport, and the road below glimpsed momentarily as it lands is Highway 99 going north/south.

Via the Aviationist and Ace of Spades

Friday, August 23, 2013

The last shovel maker

I can't embed this so follow the link.  A fascinating short film on a guy who makes shovels by hand, starting with chopping them out of the trunk of a tree.

Myself, I cringe watching how close that double bit axe comes to his foot.  The final product is, however, a beautiful and functional piece of folk art.

Thanks to Gorges' Grouse for this gem.

Gun Porn

Ruger Single Nine, with Sack Peterson stag grips.  Mmm-mmm-mmm!

Some good news

Apparently, Alaska has passed a law nullifying any and all federal laws that the state considers unconstitutional.

How realistic this is I don't know yet, but I certainly hope it is true.

The new law nullifies indefinite detention, gun laws, and parts of the REAL ID Act. This is a huge win for the constitution.
It can be called sad that the residents of the state need to receive this extra note of protection against the federal government. Supposedly, the government was created to preserve certain ideals; ideals concretely written within the constitution and legal norms of the United States.
Unfortunately, recent events have been demonstrating that the government’s ineptitude may be as damning as its ability to intentionally cast a blind eye. When the rights of the citizenry are ignored, deliberately or otherwise, it falls to the states to act as the last vanguards of guaranteed freedom.
How HB69 works is by refusing to appropriate any municipal, states, or federal funds that can go towards limiting one’s second amendment rights or that can be used for indefinite detention. It also calls on the attorney general to keep a wary eye out for unconstitutional provisions and laws.
The law was passed by Alaskan Governor Sean Parnell and is arguably the most sweeping reform issued by the state to date.
From our friends at the Tenth Amendment Center:
The federal government depends on state resources to enforce its laws. By pulling the rug out from under the feds, and denying state and local assistance to federal agents, Alaska effectively nullified indefinite detention, along with unconstitutional federal firearms regulations. (You can read an in-depth analysis of the Second Amendment protections offered by HB69 HERE.)

Lightning struck tree

Cruising through some of my older pictures I came across this one of a tree down by Greeley Hill that has been hit by a bolt of lightning, slicing a strip of bark off right around the tree like a barber pole.

I thought I'd post it as an interesting item.

This tree is south of the big Rim Fire they have going now, so it shouldn't be burned up.  Yet.

Interesting map of population distribution by race.

Bob and Doug take the kids for a walk.

I get home from work and what do I find?

The Friday Flyby is up, and it features my favorite, the F-4 Phantom.

Oohh-Weee!  A great way to start the weekend!

Do you upload pictures on Instagram?

You might not want to do that, since everything you sent them is now theirs, and they can do what they want with them.

  "Since 2010, more than 16 billion images and movies have been uploaded to Instagram. The organizations believe that few of the users who share images on the site understand the rights they are giving away. [...] Specifically, the Terms of Use give Instagram perpetual use of photos and video as well as the nearly unlimited right to license the images to any and all third parties. And, after granting this broad license to Instagram, users also relinquish the right to terminate the agreement. Once uploaded, they cannot remove their work and their identity from Instagram. Additionally, in the event of litigation regarding a photo or video, it is the account holder who is responsible for attorney and other fees, not Instagram. Moreover, while Instagram’s agreement includes the right to sublicense images, it specifically excludes the need to ever pay creators, regardless of the way the company may use or sell their work. The photographic community believes strongly that fair compensation for the creators of work is a vital component of a fair agreement. According to ASMP Executive Director Eugene Mopsik, “While clearly benefiting Instagram, the rights of imaging professionals and general users stand to be infringed upon in an unprecedented way. We are concerned that not only have Instagram’s Terms of Use gone beyond acceptable standards, but also that other social media providers may use these onerous terms as a template for their own agreements.”

Friday Open Road