Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Did Gowdy Land a Glove On HRC After All?

Official or unofficial? No HRC email for that day has been released

Maybe Trey Gowdy managed to inflict a political wound on Hillary Clinton by accident. Not with his 800-page report full of of rehash and bombast, but with the incidental finding that Hillary had conducted all of her official SecState business over a private email server.

The New York Times story on the Benghazi Select Committee's final report makes that point (Unscathed by Report, Hillary Clinton Faces Emails as Final Benghazi Chapter):
A much shorter report issued last month by the State Department’s inspector general was arguably a bigger blow to Mrs. Clinton’s credibility than this one. It confirmed that her email arrangement violated State Department rules, showed the lengths to which her aides went to avoid setting up a proper account for her and disclosed that her home server was hastily shut down at least once because of fears it had been hacked.

That OIG report is non-partisan and has a dispassionate, measured, tone. Quite possibly, it presents a bigger political problem for HRC than anything Trey Gowdy accomplished in over two years of trying.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Dalai Lama Tactical Tip Tuesday

Be unflinching. Don't let yourself be distracted. Face the danger and always keep your eyes on the threat.

That's the way His Holiness faces his persecutors in China, and that's the way you ought to deal with it should you ever need to use a firearm in self-defense.


Rep. Gowdy Delivers His Report

Delivers, like Deliverance. See what I did there?

Well, that didn't take as long as I'd expected it would. Representative Gowdy released the Select Committee on Benghazi's Proposed Report just one day after the Committee's minority side released its own prebuttal.

It's only a proposed report at this time, meaning that the minority side will have the chance to review and comment before the full committee votes the report out. There's no telling when that might be, however, since the two sides don't seem to be on speaking terms.

For potential political impact on the 2016 election, see the last section of the report, Proposed additional views of Representatives Jim Jordan and Mike Pompeo, which has a fairly devastating "Public vs. Private Timeline" of Hillary Clinton's conflicting statements in the days after the attack. Starting on page 18.

See also the astonished reaction of NEA Bureau officials to UN Ambassador Susan Rice's performance on all five Sunday talk shows on 16 September during which she absolutely insisted the attack in Benghazi was a spontaneous mob reaction incited by the Innocence of Muslims video.
On Monday, September 17, 2012, some State Department officials reacted with shock to Ambassador Rice’s claims. Specifically, the Department’s NEA Bureau press department—the experts on Libya—reacted with disbelief. The discussion began with NEA’s Senior Libyan Desk Officer reacting to draft press guidance that quoted the CIA talking points by saying, “I really hope this was revised. I don’t think we should go on the record on this.” This led to the Deputy Director, Office of Maghreb Affairs, NEA saying, “Not sure we want to be so definitive[,]”

NEA Spokesperson: The horse has left the barn on this, don’t you think? Rice was on FIVE Sunday Morning shows yesterday saying this. Tough to walk back.

Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications, NEA: [Nuland] planned on walking it back just a bit, though.

Senior Libyan Desk Officer, NEA: I think Rice was off the reservation on this one.

Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications, NEA: Yup. Luckily there’s enough in her language to fudge exactly what she said/meant.

NEA Spokesperson: Off the reservation on five networks!

Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications, NEA: [White House] very worried about the politics. This was all their doing.

The White House was very worried about the politics? What's new about that? We are all very worried about the politics, aren't we? White House and Congress, majority side and minority, Trump and Clinton. It's what we all have in common. To quote Elwood Blues: remember, people, that no matter who you are and what you do to live, thrive, and survive, there are still some things that make us all the same. You. Me. Them. Everybody. Everybody.

Monday, June 27, 2016

If Rep. Gowdy Hears Banjos, Will He Paddle Faster?

I'm reading through the report by the Democratic side of the House Benghazi Select Committee, and so far the best stuff is toward the end, where the minority Members unload on Chairman Gowdy.

For example, there is this list of the various unmet deadlines that Representative Trey Gowdy has, over the years, announced for completion of the Committee's business.
Chairman Gowdy has repeatedly postponed his estimates for when the Select Committee would conclude its investigation and issue its final report:
  • In August 2014, Chairman Gowdy stated that he planned to complete the investigation by the “end of 2015.”
  • In April 2015, Chairman Gowdy stated that the Committee’s report would not be issued until 2016.
  • In January 2016, Chairman Gowdy stated that he would finish interviews “within the month.”
  • In March 2016, Chairman Gowdy stated that he would release his report “before summer.”
  • In April 2016, Chairman Gowdy stated that his target date was “mid-June.
  • In May 2016, Chairman Gowdy stated the Select Committee’s work would conclude “before the conventions” in mid-July.

Do you think he'll keep that last promise to conclude by mid-July? Me neither. But he has to end this thing someday, and just maybe today's minority report will motivate him to paddle faster.

I like the recommendations at the end of the report, many of which address the need for Congress to keep budgeting for all the other recommendations that have already been made by the Benghazi Accountability Review Board and other parties.

Most of that funding pays for the continuation of the Capital Security Construction Program, which replaces old and vulnerable diplomatic facilities with purpose-built and secure new buildings. The recommendations section includes this highly pertinent quote from the testimony of Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs:
Then there is there is [sic] the macro [funding] question, Congressman, and that is that the best defense is ability to construct the new facilities that you have provided us additional funds for. Subsequent to the attack on Benghazi there was a major attack on our compound in Tunisia and there was a major attack on our compound in Khartoum. Those buildings held out and not a single American was killed or injured for over 8 hours until host nation security forces mobilized to defend us. But those building, in Khartoum and in Tunisia, were the new, modern buildings that we have had the assistance of the Congress and the funding to build. It is just that on a macro sense, because of the increase in the value of the dollar and because of inflation worldwide, the program that we started after Nairobi and Dar es Salaam [were attacked in August 1998] we were building eight Embassies a year then. Because of the decrease in funding we were building three.

Building more Fortress Embassies isn't the answer to every overseas security problem. But it could very well be the solution to the problem of surviving prolonged incidents of political violence, with our own resources, until our host governments become willing and able to intervene. Isn't that enough?

Mbabane Gets A Fortress Embassy

FYI, cars will not be allowed to park up against the real NEC Mbabane

My good friends in the Bureau of Overseas Office Buildings (OBO) have cut the ribbon on yet another Fortress Embassy, this one in Mbabane, Swaziland.

From the press release:
The new $141 million campus is situated on an 8.9-acre site in the Ezulwini Valley. Sustainable features to conserve resources and reduce operating costs include a photovoltaic system, light-emitting diode (LED) site lighting, water-conserving plumbing fixtures, on-site wastewater treatment, and drought-tolerant landscaping.

-- snip --

Since 1999, as part of the Department’s Capital Security Construction Program, the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations has completed 131 new diplomatic facilities and has an additional 53 projects in design or under construction.

See the press kit for more project details.

Two things stand out about this short-and-sweet press release. First, the price for this new embassy complex is not especially high (as U.S. embassy construction projects go). Second, there is absolutely no happy-talk about Design Excellence, or Openness, or Innovation, or any quotes from an architect with round eyeglasses and a bow tie.

No, this one was more of a Standard Embassy Design job. Yet another serviceable and sensibly priced office complex churned out for OBO by B.L. Harbert International Group. Browsing the thumbnail photos of their leadership team, I find no one who looks anything like a modern Le Corbusier. I am comfortable with that.

One last thought: so OBO has now completed 131 new U.S. diplomatic facilities under the Capital Security Construction Program? That's roughly half the total number of our embassies and consulates. How much longer will Congress keep the money flowing?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

House of Representatives Sit-In Continues (But Where Are the Headbands and Love Beads?)

The WaPo is covering that remarkable sit-in by Democratic House members, and reports on their innovative use of smart phones to get around the official ban on broadcasting from the House floor: C-SPAN makes history via Periscope.

From the looks of it, some of the older Members ought to think twice before sitting-in like that. At their age, getting back up from the floor might not be so easy. They aren't as spry as they used to be back in the 60s.

I have obtained the full streaming video of this historic event, for your use and enjoyment.

P.S. "Don't take the brown acid. The brown acid is bad."

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Donald Trump Interprets Robert Frost

Donald Trump's speaking style shows much more literary influence than you might think. First, a linguist at the University of Pennsylvania traced the roots of his rhetoric to Gertrude Stein - yes, really - and now, courtesy of The Rotting Post (the finest in literate snark), we have a Trumperian rendition of Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening:

I have a pretty good idea whose woods these are, believe me. And let me tell you something, my people say he’s a complete nobody. This guy lives in the village. So what if he sees me stopping here? I dare him to sue me! I dare him!

And by the way, this snow is pathetic. These are by far, the least downy flakes ever! I hear they had to import them from Canada. I don’t know. Maybe they did. Maybe they didn’t. We’re looking into it.

My horse – he’s the most incredible horse, seriously, I have the greatest, the classiest horses – My horse doesn’t even know what the hell we’re doing here. The horses love me though. They do. They’re always shaking their bells at me, it’s very loving. It’s a beautiful thing.

Let me tell you something, these woods are an embarrassment. They’re not dark. They’re not deep. They’re nothing. They’re for losers. And I cannot wait to sue this guy. I cannot wait to sue this guy.

Austere and very moving.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dalai Lama Tactical Tip Tuesday

“In the present circumstances, no one can afford to assume that someone else will solve their problems. Every individual has a responsibility to help guide our global family in the right direction. Good wishes are not sufficient; we must become actively engaged.” - H.H. the Dalai Lama, The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom (Compass)

His Holiness is not just goofing on a scene in Blackhawk Down. He is, in fact, illustrating the universal value of Responsibility. There can be few human activities which call for greater individual responsibility than defensive gun use.

Range safety rules can be imposed, and overseen. Gun manufacturers can design mechanical safeties and do their best to engineer accidents out of their products. Legal council can provide user manuals full of cautionary advise and even - as Ruger owners know - engrave warnings right on the barrel.

But all of that is external to the individual gun user. The individual holding the gun bears total responsibility for his actions, and truly his trigger finger must be his safety.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Dalai Lama Tactical Tip Tuesday

This one is easy. What other handgun would His Holiness choose but the simplest of them all?  

Simplicity is extremely important for happiness. Desiring little and being satisfied with what you have is vital, whether it's as basic as food and shelter or as specialized as defensive gun use.

There are hundreds of pistols to choose from and an almost infinite number of accessories, modifications, and customizations available for them. Prices range from as low as a few hundred dollars to as high as a pretty good used car. Once you pick one, there are tons of after-market products you might acquire to enhance your choice.   

And then, there is the Glock. Plain and utilitarian, and near-perfect right out of the box. Reliable all day long. Little to fiddle with, and not many options for adding on later.

Find the profound in simplicity! 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Father of Orlando Shooter Visited Congress

Mateen posing in front of office B330

Many news stories today are describing how Saddique Mateen visited the U.S. State Department and U.S. Congress, presumably in the furtherance of his deluded Afghan émigré political schemes.
Mass shooter Omar Mateen’s father Seddique Mateen recently visited Congress, the State Department and met political leaders during a trip to Washington, DC.

Mateen, who made the trip in April, is seen in social media posts posing in front of the State Department and Democratic Foreign Services Committee offices [sic].

He visited the U.S. Congress, anyway. Click on the Daily Mail story linked above for grip-and-grin photos of Mateen with Congressmen Charlie Rangel, Dana Rohrabacher, and Ed Royce. Royce must have been the big 'get,' since he is Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

However, allow me to point out that the photo of Mateen in front of a door marked "U.S. Department of State" was also taken on Capitol Hill, where State maintains a liaison office:
Since 2001, the Department of State has operated its Capitol Hill House Liaison Office located in B-330 of the Rayburn House Office Building and the Senate Liaison Office located in B189 of the Senate Russell Office Building, which was created in 2010. Both offices provide a full range of State Department support services to members of Congress and their staff.
If he met anyone from the Liaison Office, that official was prudent enough to evade a selfie.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

“I will soon be dead thanks to a progressive and untreatable illness ... I seek an intern”

I call that an attention grabber, and it's just one small part of the most unconventional help wanted ad ever. Read it here: Living the Die Life, and please pass it along to anyone you know who may be interested.

This seeker of an intern is a woman currently in assisted living in North Carolina, someone highly literate, a quantitative reasoner, and the owner of a pet python. She's going from assisted living to assisted bucket list touring, and needs an equally unconventional employee who can help her with basic mobility, sometimes with communication, and possibly also by running legal interference regarding her DNR DNI with police or ambulance personnel.

Ex-military preferred, but negotiable. Check the videos linked in the ad for email info, and exchange emails if you're interested.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

When Logic and Proportion Have Fallen Slopppy Dead

The Daily Press Briefing imbroglio spins even further out of control. See Diplopundit for how the DPB Goes Down the Wabbit Hole.

This exchange, quoted from the link, illustrates exactly why you should never agree to talk to the news media - or the police, for that matter - multiple times on the same topic. You will inevitably say something different the second time, and that will be seized upon, however disingenuously.

Wabbit Hole: How many other people have been ruled out?
QUESTION: But basically, all the person could remember was that they were called and asked to do this, and that they believed it came from elsewhere in PA. I’m told that the person also, however, said that they had no – that they didn’t think it was former spokesperson Jen Psaki. Is that correct?

MR TONER: That’s correct.

QUESTION: Why weren’t we told that on Wednesday? I mean, you said all they can remember is X, but now it turns out it – they remembered more than just X. And I don’t understand why you would say they only remember X and then it turns out they remember more than that, and then we – we learn about it later.

First came the excuse of a technical glitch, followed by an admission of purposeful video editing, followed by a once-over-lightly investigation by the Office of the Legal Advisor, followed by apologies all around and a promise not to do it again. Now, as surely as this is an election year, this lame affair has escalated to an OIG investigation and Congressional oversight hearings.

Not that I presume to tell Spokesperson-Admiral Kirby how to do his job, but really, wouldn't it have been better to say much, much, less to the press? They are not your friends, after all.

Suppose that instead of trying to placate the press, you had let a legal investigation run for a couple weeks - during which time you would, of course, refuse to answer questions - and then announced the lawyers found no crime or administrative offense had been committed and, due to the passage of time, there was no reasonable expectation of finding out more. Suppose you had then pointed out that you have instituted rules to prevent a repetition. And further pointed out that the public record of Ms. Psaki's interview with Fox New reporter James Rosen was never eradicated in the first place, since a transcript exists in State's DPB archive as well as the complete video on a separate DOD site. Hey, members of the press, get over yourselves.

There simply must be more important things PA could be talking about at the Daily Press Briefing.

Does Hallmark Make a "Sorry You Were Shot" Card?

The WaPo tried to write a story of Chicago Police abuse, but the purported victim won't cooperate.

The headline is an attention grabber and seems to promise some kind of cover-up: Man announces lawsuit for wrongful police shooting. Minutes later, he’s arrested for murder. But as the details emerge - which happens only in the last third of the story - a fair-minded reader might wonder whether the police really ought to have shot Mr. Dominiq Greer a few more times and much sooner.
Minutes after he announced a $15 million lawsuit against the city of Chicago and two police officers for a shooting that left him with seven gunshot wounds, a 25-year-old man was taken into custody on a murder warrant.

Dominiq Greer told reporters in Chicago that he was shot multiple times as he ran from police on July 4, 2014, according to the Chicago Tribune. He had just stepped outside the office building where his news conference was held Wednesday when an unmarked police vehicle pulled up and a pair of officers arrested him, the Tribune reported.

Greer was arrested on an outstanding murder warrant for a killing on the South Side of Chicago on May 27, a police spokesman told The Washington Post. The victim, a 22-year-old man named Kevin Larry, sustained a fatal gunshot wound, the spokesman said.

-- snip --

On Wednesday, [Greer] told reporters police should have chased him instead of shooting at him.

“They should have did their job and try to catch me instead of shooting me,” he said. “If I ain’t never bring no harm to you, why would you bring harm to me.”

“He was just standing around with two of his friends in the street, he sees the police roll up and he takes off,” [Greer’s attorney, Eugene] Hollander added, according to the Sun-Times. “When you’re an African-American in Englewood, it’s understandable.”

Okay, so he was hanging out with two friends when the police rolled up. Were the two friends also African-American men in Englewood, and did they also take off running at the sight of the police? We do not find out. But, a couple paragraphs on, we do find out why Mr. Greer had reason to run.
Greer has accumulated at least 20 arrests since 2007, the majority for marijuana or trespassing charges that were eventually dropped, according to court records reviewed by the Tribune.

The paper also reported:
He is currently free on bail on an aggravated unlawful use of a weapon charge stemming from the 2014 police shooting. He pleaded guilty to a domestic battery case in 2013 and was given probation, but that probation was later revoked and he was sentenced to 45 days in jail. He also pleaded guilty in 2011 to a felony charge for marijuana possession and was given two years’ probation.

At Wednesday’s news conference, Greer said he was initially carrying a handgun, but threw the weapon away and posed no threat during his 2014 encounter with police, according to Fox affiliate WFLD.

The first three shots came as he fled, he said, the last four while he was on the ground.

Why did he run from officers?

“I feared for my life, because I see how Chicago police acts every day,” Greer said, according to USA Today.

He ran for fear of his life, and also because he was an ex-con in possession of an illegal firearm. That's plenty of reason to run from the police. And, don't forget, he was totally unarmed at the precise moment the police shot him.

Understandably, Mr. Greer accuses the police of unsportsmanlike conduct.
Greer said Wednesday that he remained conscious during his encounter with police and even questioned their behavior.

“I asked why is they shooting me this many times,” he said, according to the Tribune. “I thought I was fixin’ to die.”

“If you had to shoot me to catch me … that’s bad,” he added.

So, if only the police officers had been up to Mr. Greer's level of aerobic fitness, they might have avoided the whole unpleasantness of shooting him seven times. Got it.

But wait, there's more.
Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority told a very different story, according to the Tribune. The Authority claims that after Greer tossed his weapon, it hit the ground and discharged, causing Greer to stumble and hit the ground.

“Officer A ordered Subject 1 to show his hands and told him not to move,” the IPRA report states. “[Greer] ignored Officer A’s verbal direction and stood up with his hands concealed. In fear for his life, Officer A fired his weapon, striking [Greer] multiple times.”

“On hearing the gunshot, the officer reacted by opening fire, according to the IPRA findings,” the report continues. “The officer ordered Greer to raise his hands, but when he failed to do so, the officer fired again, IPRA said.”

Things would have turned out better for the "22-year old man named Kevin Larry" whom Greer subsequently killed had the officer fired a few times more.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Dalai Lama Tactical Tip Tuesday

Focus. That's the word I most associate with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Focus on the main thing, on whatever is the main thing at that moment. Doing so requires calm. No frantic scrambling, no panic, no confusion. Calm. 

"I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe."

That's the mental discipline you must bring to defensive gun use. Center yourself, breathe, be unhurried, and with all deliberation do the most important thing you need to do at that moment - i.e., put the front sight on the target.

Do not rush. It is paradoxical that slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Complete D-Day Broadcasts For June 6, 1944

I enjoyed these broadcasts so much last year, why not post them again?

At the link below you can find all 24 hours of CBS radio broadcasts on June 6, 1944, starting with Communique #1 from Eisenhower's HQ and ending with a midnight re-broadcast of the 8AM news from London on June 7.

Listen to it at the Internet Archive here: Complete Broadcast Day D-Day.

Friday, June 3, 2016

"There Were No Rules in Place" (Or, The White Flash of Candor)

I like that term the news media keeps using for what happened to the eight-minute video record of Jan Psaki's exchange with Fox News reporter James Rosen in 2013 - a white flash. "Poof! Where the exchange once existed, a flash of white light replaced it" according to Erik Wemple of the WaPo. That makes it sound practically supernatural.

The video clip has now reappeared, and that brought on the big Washington news story of the day: State Department admits tampering with video of tough Fox News question.

As for the charge of tampering, it's a fair cop, as our British cousins say. But let it be noted that what Ms. Psaki told Rosen back in 2013 was not a lie, but the truth. She acknowledged that bilateral contact with Iran had been going on, contrary to an earlier, misleading, statement by another official. That fact is getting lost in the noise.

Come to think of it, since someone was tampering with old video files, why didn't he or she make the original lie disappear rather than Psaki's admission of the truth? And what kind of inept conspiracy is it that removes video of a press briefing but leaves the written transcript intact, not to mention a separate video record of the same press conference on a site maintained by DOD? And what could anyone hope to gain by deleting that Psaki clip in the first place, when it was run on Fox News the same day it occurred?

James Rosen is still doing victory laps as the story keeps growing. The latest twist is a call by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Royce for State's Inspector General to investigate the matter.

Come to think of it some more, so far as I know there is actually no requirement for State to maintain a record of its press briefings. As Spokesperson-Admiral John Kirby said to the WaPo, there were no rules in place to prohibit the deletion of a record of a press briefing. So, what if State decided tomorrow to delete all records of past briefings and tell the press that from now on they can take their own notes and run their own pool camera? Not that I think that would be a good practice - keeping a record is in State's own best interests - but, if it did just that, would there be any offense to investigate?

Oh, and my girl Marie Harf? She is not guilty. If we know nothing else, we know that.