Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Yes, It's Going to Be Like This, David

The best part of today's Donald Trump press conference is at the end, around the one hour and 15 minute mark, when Daily Mail reporter David Martosko complains that Trump has set a new bar for being contentious with the press:

Martosko: "You've set a new bar for the press corps, calling us losers to our faces."

Trump: "Not all of you. Just many of you. Not you David, actually"

Martosko: "Is this what it's going to be like if we're covering you as President?"

Trump: "Yes, yes it is ... yes, it's going to be like this, David."

Am I a bad person for loving the prospect of more press conferences just like this?

Dalai Lama Tactical Tip Tuesday

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is first of all a promoter of human values such as compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment and self-discipline. Basically, he is the best Range Safety Officer imaginable. Wearing eye and ear protection at all times on the gun range is the best way to achieve happiness and avoid suffering.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Most Eyebrow-Raising Headline of the Week

"Saudi father shoots doctor shortly after he delivered his wife's baby because he didn't want a man to see his spouse naked" - Daily Mail

Clarifying HRC's Email Records Violation: "Just Basic Grammar Here"

Check out the first 1 minute and 20 seconds of that video for a montage of Hillary's denials of any wrongdoing in this whole email and private server business. Those previous statements are now inoperative, to quote President Nixon's press spokesman during Watergate.

Yesterday's background briefing on the State Department Inspector General's report on email records management and cybersecurity requirements had its moments, like when the moderators quibbled with reporters over the key finding that Hillary Clinton did not turn over all her official business email records as required by law.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: [Moderator], I can take those as well. First, I do believe the OIG report finds that by leaving the Department without turning over all of her emails, Secretary Clinton didn’t comply with the records rules. However, OIG and NARA have found that by (inaudible) back to us, she mitigated those problems. And you’ve heard us say this a number of times over the past year; we worked very hard to put those online to show the work that she did here at the Department.

With respect to that second email, or the email that you were referencing, I don’t think I know exactly where we obtained that email. I think you are correct that it is not in the emails that we put online. We do have it; it is in our custody. But as to why we wouldn’t have it from Secretary Clinton in what she turned over, I would have to refer you to her and her team on that.

QUESTION: Well, but all her emails were – work-related emails were supposed to be turned over. So did she – I don’t understand. Did she not turn them all over? Are there emails we’re not seeing? I mean, [Moderator], can you answer why we would be seeing emails now in an IG report that we did not see in the FOIA releases? I really don’t understand that.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I can take that. And I apologize if I didn’t – if I wasn’t clear. Secretary Clinton has said both to us and in a court filing that she turned over work-related emails that she had in her possession. There are instances, and they’re identified in the OIG report, where people are aware of emails that involved her that she did not turn over. The fact that she has said she’s turned over what she had and through other preservation and reviews we’ve identified additional emails, and we only put online through the FOIA process what Secretary Clinton turned over, to the extent that the OIG found an additional email, that’s not inconsistent with what we’d expect.

Huh? Do you mean that's not inconsistent with what we'd expect from someone who is not fully complying with the requirement to preserve and turn over all her official records? Because that's what it sounds like you're saying.

The backgrounder was followed shortly by yesterday's regular press briefing, during which the quibbling continued, along with more abuse of the word "mitigated."
QUESTION: But today the IG is saying that Secretary Clinton was not in compliance with State Department email policy, yet for the past year all we’ve been hearing about from that podium is that the secretary was in compliance.

MR TONER: We haven’t said that either. What we said is that – and I believe – and I’m – Brad can yell at me because I’m wading into the – (laughter) – into the report’s findings, but they did say that the fact that she did turn over this large tranche of emails and made an effort to do so mitigated the lack of compliance previously.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: Mitigate doesn’t mean negate.

MR TONER: I get it. I said mitigate,

QUESTION: It actually implies the opposite of what you’re saying, that she did do something wrong and that this mitigates – it lessens, it dampens – the effect of that wrongdoing. It doesn’t even out. If you steal – if you rob a bank and you return the money, it’s a mitigating aspect, but it doesn’t mean you didn’t rob the bank.

MR TONER: Well, first of all --

QUESTION: Not that this is necessarily --

MR TONER: First of all – yeah, let me just back away from that claim right there.

QUESTION: I mean, just basic grammar here, Mark.

Yes, please do back away from that old claim about HRC being in compliance with records management requirements. The OIG report directly refutes much of what Team Clinton and HRC herself have been claiming. You can't spin that away, and anyway, why should official Department spokesmen want to? It's Hillary's problem.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Dalai Lama Tactical Tip Tuesday

I like the pragmatic way The Dalai Lama deals with life. He's an absolutely peaceful guy, yet without the absolute pacifism of some moral-posturing fanatics. Call it contingent pacifism.

This is what I take away from what I've seen of his advice to his followers, as it may pertain to defensive gun use:
One should never initiate violence, that much is clear. But it is also clear that one should protect himself or others when attacked unjustly, even if the only way of doing so is to use defensive violence. The person who uses defensive violence must bear the consequences of his actions, such as the risk of taking on karmic soul-debt, but nevertheless must act if he judges that the risks are worth facing to prevent a greater evil.

So then, violence is something The Lama can understand even as he disapproves. I am completely down with that.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Promises, Promises

This is a great compilation of President Obama's increasingly hollow promises (boasts? threats? pleas?) to close GITMO.

Of course, he can close it any time he likes. The only thing he can't do is bring the detainees to the United States, not so long as U.S. law prohibits that. But then, if he closed it, he'd have to dispose of the remaining detainees somehow or somewhere else, and that is a practical problem he is unable to solve.

Congress is highly unlikely to let him off the hook, given the large bipartisan consensus against bringing the detainees here. And that is not even considering the toxic relationship between Obama and Congress in this, his Lame Duck year.

What to do? I say, why not release and kill?

Not Yet Closing Time For GITMO

This week Congress voted down an amendment to the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act that would have struck out existing prohibitions on the use of funds to transfer terrorists housed at GITMO to the United States, or to construct or modify facilities in the U.S. to house detainees transferred from GITMO. The amendment was defeated 259-163 with 21 of the Noes coming from Democrats.

This defeat should not have come as a surprise to the author of the amendment, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who had tried it before with the same results.

As time runs out on the Obama administration, it is releasing GITMO detainees in a rush and sometimes without due regard for the safeguards that will be applied to releasees in their new locations. According to the administration's own reports to Congress, about one in three former detainees are known or suspected to have reengaged in terrorism. Such reckless disregard has created distrust between the administration and Congress that will be the kiss of death for any more Nadler amendments.

It is not yet closing time for GITMO, but Nadler can dream while he cries in his beer. Shall we open all the doors and let this bunch out into the world?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Dalai Lama Tactical Tip Tuesday

The 14th and current Dalai Lama is beloved for his clear moral vision and for the pithy bits of wisdom he delivers with a preternaturally calm demeanor. Plus, he is all the rage right now with advocates of defensive gun use.

In May 2001 the Lama spoke to high school students in Portland, Oregon, at an "Educating the Heart Summit." As reported by the Seattle Times, The Dalai Lama said acts of violence should be remembered, and then forgiveness should be extended to the perpetrators. But if someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, he said, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun. Not at the head, where a fatal wound might result. But at some other body part, such as a leg.

The Lama's thinking on defensive gun use has evolved since then, apparently, because now he's a center mass guy.

As a public service, here is the first Dalai Lama Tactical Tip:

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Most Eyebrow-Raising Headline of the Week

I notice they didn't buckle it into the SUV

"Yellowstone tourists put bison calf in car because they’re worried it’s cold" - East Idaho News

A father and son pulled up at the ranger station with a bison calf in their SUV. “They were demanding to speak with a ranger. They were seriously worried that the calf was freezing and dying.”

Law enforcement rangers were called and the father-and-son tourists, who were from another country, were ticketed. Rangers followed the pair back to where they had picked up the bison, and the animal was released.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Australian Embassy Baghdad, Alcohol-Involved Shooting Incident

Such a simple rule could prevent such grave mishaps 

A deadly incident at the Australian embassy in Baghdad that was originally misreported as a sniper attack has now been confirmed as an accidental shooting of one security contractor by another. Non-official sources say the incident occurred in the contractor's on-compound housing facility during a 'heavy drinking session.' 

Shooting at Australian embassy in Baghdad: contractor shot dead:
In an incident that will raise significant questions about the security measures for diplomats and the Australian-founded private firm that guards the embassy workers, the former Australian soldier was shot dead early on Thursday morning.

A fellow Australian guard, believed to be a former special forces soldier, was taken to a military base at Baghdad Airport for questioning, sources in Iraq said.

-- Snip --

The shooting is believed to have happened at the contactors' accommodation, which is within the broader embassy compound, giving the [Australian Federal Police] jurisdiction to investigate.

Sources said alcohol was involved in the incident and that the guard who had been taken for questioning had been working in Iraq as a contractor since 2005.

-- Snip --

In February, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary Peter Varghese strongly dismissed reports of problems with the contract with [Unity Resources Group].

Mr Varghese told a Senate hearing that the reports of corner-cutting and a drop in the price paid by the department under the contact had come from "disgruntled former employees" and the claims were "without foundation".

"The department puts the highest priority on the safety and welfare of its employees, and the suggestion that we would run a cut-price security system is, frankly, quite offensive," he said.

"The core question here is: has this contract been managed in a way that doesn't put our staff at any additional risk? And the answer to that is clearly in the affirmative."

Mr Varghese said the department had looked into the media reports about the security issues and was satisfied that security at the Baghdad embassy was "operating effectively and that the transition to the new arrangements has not created any additional risk to our staff".

The new contract price for the security had dropped to $51 million over three years - down from the previous contract of $100 million over five years. But this was due to greater competition among security providers in Iraq, he said.

The dead security contractor had worked in Iraq since 2005?? To have worked for so long in such a high-stress job is very impressive, in one sense. But also very depressing in the larger, political, sense that diplomatic missions in Baghdad still need protection contractors thirteen years after Operation Iraqi Freedom. How many more years will it be before Normal arrives?

The price drop in Australia's protection contract, and possibly consequent drop in contractor morale and performance, is also remarkable as an indicator of what other diplomatic missions in Baghdad may be facing as the years role on. It's like a race to see whether Normal will arrive before security degrades to an intolerable level.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

America's Place in the World, To Be Explained May 5

This upcoming event at the Brookings Institution looks like it will be good.
On May 5, the Brookings Project on International Order and Strategy (IOS) will host a discussion on America’s global role and the release of the newest edition of Pew Research Center’s series, “America’s Place in the World.” This survey explores American views of U.S. foreign policy today and the role of U.S. leadership abroad. The study also looks at which national security threats concern Americans the most.

Carroll Doherty, director of political research at Pew Research Center, will open the discussion by explaining the survey’s findings. Senior Fellow Robert Kagan, author of “The World America Made” (Vintage Books, 2013), will talk about the implications of the survey for U.S. support of the international order. Derek Chollet, former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs and author of the forthcoming book “The Long Game” (Public Affairs, 2016), will offer insight into how these findings fit with President Obama’s worldview. Laure Mandeville, U.S. bureau chief for Le Figaro, will contribute an international perspective on American politics and U.S. power abroad.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Most Eyebrow-Raising Headline of the Week

Basically a cross between Home Alone and Full Metal Jacket
 "11-year old Alabama boy shoots home intruder: 'He started crying like a little baby'" - WILX.com Talladega Alabama

“When he was coming down the stairs, that’s when he told me he was going to kill me, f-you and all that,” Gaither said ... That’s when Gaither started firing off bullets ... “I shot through the hamper he was carrying,” Gaither said. “It was a full metal jacket bullet. It went straight through the back of his leg. He started crying like a little baby."