Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Utah Man Threatens To Fire On Government Targets

Get some, get some, get some!

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) will take over the chairmanship of the House Oversight Committee in the next Congress, and today he shared his enthusiasm about this new assignment with the Salt Lake Tribune. See Chairman Chaffetz eyes ‘target-rich’ environment, but Benghazi isn’t one:

The Utah Republican, who flew to Libya a month after the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks to ask questions about Benghazi, says there are plenty of other issues to keep his committee busy: Secret Service missteps, IRS targeting of conservative groups and embassy security.

"It’s a target-rich environment. There’s plenty of waste, fraud and abuse," Chaffetz says. "There’s a lot out there. ... There are investigations that have been ongoing for more than a year that you haven’t even heard of."

Not that Chaffetz wants to let Benghazi go.

Let it go? No, not likely.  

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Temptation Eyes

She's got something that moves my soul, and she knows I'd love to love her (The Grass Roots)

The Saudi religious police have proposed a new crime-prevention measure to clean up the streets of the Kingdom. Out of fear for the unpredictable effect of 'tempting' eyes on men, they would make some Saudi women cover their eyes when out in public. This would not apply to all Saudi women, reportedly, but only to the more flirtatious trollops.
Women with attractive eyes may be forced to cover them up under Saudi Arabia's latest repressive measure, it was reported yesterday.

The ultra-conservative Islamic state has said it has the right to stop women revealing 'tempting' eyes in public.

A spokesperson for Saudi Arabia's Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, Sheikh Motlab al Nabet, said a proposal to enshrine the measure in law has been tabled.

I don't know how the Religious Police propose to decide which women have "attractive eyes" and which don't. Would they rate attractiveness on a scale? Nasty hot, pretty, kinda cute, just okay, "I'd hit it," and so forth?   
Actually, those guys would never find any set of female eyes anything other than attractive and totally-out-of-control-provocative. I've seen the evidence first-hand, and can attest that Saudi men do indeed go a wee bit crazy over female eyes. 

Pin-up girls in a Saudi barracks

Scoff at them if you will, but is there any fundamental difference - fundamental, get it? - between the Kingdom's religious policemen and their secular counterparts in the modern Western nanny state? They want to ban the unsafe display of women's eyes, and New York's former Mayor Bloomberg actually did ban all manner of things that he deemed unsafe or imprudent.

They both do it for your own good. Which means they both feel perfectly justified, and neither will stop so long as they have power.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Space Cowboys? Russian Cosmonauts Are Packing More Than Tang

The Daily Mail has a story today, citing a blog called The Appendix, about the Cosmonaut Survival Kit. The kit includes a combination gun with both shotgun and rifle barrels.

The kit included the Soviet TP-82, a special combination gun with a detachable machete created for hunting, firing distress beacons and self-defence.

American astronauts who trained as part of the Soyuz spacecraft crews for the International Space Station in the 90s also had to learn how to use the firearm.

Appendix recalls how astronaut Jim Voss learned to use the gun in a mock-up spacecraft in the Black Sea using wine, beer and vodka bottles as target practice.

Reportedly, Russian cosmonauts still carry firearms in space, but now they pack plain old Makarov service pistols.

So, then, 2001: A Space Odyssey might have gone differently if Russians had manned that spacecraft.

"Open the pod bay doors, HAL"

"I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."

"Don't make me use this Makarov, HAL."

"Look Dave, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over."

"Open the pod bay doors NOW, HAL, before I bust a cap in your cyber ass."

Friday, November 14, 2014

Most Eyebrow-Raising Headline of the Week

"Toes Go Missing As Man Naps, Family Pet Suspected" -

White House Security Measures "All Failed in Stunning Succession"

Nice hedges there, in front of the door

The Secret Service was already embarrassed by its failure to stop that White House fence-jumper back on September 19, but until today we didn't know how very badly it failed. The WaPo reported on an internal review of the incident (here) and had this to say:
Layer after layer of security measures that were supposed to block an intruder from getting into the White House all failed in stunning succession on the evening of Sept. 19, according to an internal review of a fence jumper’s breach.

There were nearly a dozen failures in the Secret Service’s rings of security that helped Omar Jose Gonzalez, 42, get inside the White House and deep into the East Room, according to a Department of Homeland Security review, a summary of which was obtained Thursday by The Washington Post
The executive summary is here. It is grim reading.

The report has surprising stuff - surprising to me, at least - about shortcomings in elementary physical and technical security countermeasures. For instance, the intruder climbed the White House fence at a weak spot that lacked an ornamental spike topping, temporary construction around the fence line blocked officers' visibility during the incident, the Emergency Response Team officers and the dog handler all assumed that bushes near the North Portico were an impassable barrier (whereas the intruder went through them with no trouble), alarm annunciation had been muted inside the White House at the staff's request leaving the officer who was posted directly inside the North Portico door unaware of what was going on, and the doors lacked any automated locking mechanism.

The training and staffing problems were even worse, if that is possible. One tidbit is enough to make my point. According to the investigation, responding members of the Emergency Response Team didn't know the layout of the White House and hesitated to go into the mansion after the break-in. They "had never received familiarization training regarding the interior of the White House." What?

The part about the bushes interests me. “Prior to that evening, the Officers believed the bushes too thick to be passable” the report says. Really? Are they some sort of super-special high security bushes?

No, they aren't. According to a White House pamphlet about the landscaping of the grounds, the bushes are simple English and American boxwoods. Those are evergreens that have dense foliage and are often used for privacy fences or border hedges, but they are no more impassable than any other common shrubbery. Have the White House Uniformed Division Officers never received familiarization training about the exterior of the White House, either?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The WaPo Explains All

The WaPo has a very information article today on how and why the Democrats lost so big yesterday, Battle for the Senate: How the GOP Did It.

Great article, but the title is exactly wrong. It should have been: How Obama Lost It.
The tension represented something more fundamental than money — it was indicative of a wider resentment among Democrats in the Capitol of how the president was approaching the election and how, they felt, he was dragging them down. All year on the trail, Democratic incumbents would be pounded for administration blunders beyond their control — the disastrous rollout of the health-care law, problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs, undocumented children flooding across the border, Islamic State terrorism and fears about Ebola.

- snip -

From the outset of the campaign, Republicans had a simple plan: Don’t make mistakes, and make it all about Obama, Obama, Obama. Every new White House crisis would bring a new Republican ad. And every Democratic incumbent would be attacked relentlessly for voting with the president 97 or 98 or 99 percent of the time.

- snip -

“No member of the Democratic caucus screwed up the rollout of that health-care Web site,” [Harry Reid’s chief of staff, David] Krone added, “yet they paid the price — every one of them.”

Exacerbating matters was Obama’s Oct. 2 speech in Chicago, in which he handed every Republican admaker fresh material that fit perfectly with their message: “I am not on the ballot this fall. . . . But make no mistake — these policies are on the ballot, every single one of them.”

“It took about 12 seconds for every reporter, every race, half of the Obama world to say that was probably not the right thing to say,” said a senior Democratic official.

It was so problematic that many Democrats wondered whether Obama meant to say it. He did. “It is amazing that it was in the speech,” the official said. “It wasn’t ad-libbed.”

No, it wasn't ad-libbed.

Democrats must be wondering now whether Obama will refrain from saying more stuff like this for the next two years.

Monday, November 3, 2014

OBO Announces Three New Fortress Embassies Under Contract

U.S. Consulate Dhahran, State Dept. photo

The Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) announced last week that it has signed contracts for three more "safe, secure, and functional facilities," AKA Fortress Embassies.

The lucky posts are U.S. Consulate Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Embassy Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, and U.S. Embassy Pristina, Kosovo. The OBO press releases are here, and here, and here.

That's Consulate Dhahran in the photo above. It's high time that one was replaced, I say. Do you notice the fine Old World craftsmanship of those stone walls? That's because they were constructed in 1949 using Italian Prisoners of War for laborers. True story. Embassy Baghdad wasn't the first time forced labor was used in diplomatic construction.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Most Eyebrow-Raising Headline of the Week

If she wasn't 61, I could believe that

"Bill Clinton plugs Kay Hagan in N.C." - Politico Pro

A headline so hugely inappropriate calls for this hugely inappropriate Nirvana cover. (Although, at least you can understand the lyrics when Paul Anka sings it.)