Monthly Archives: February 2014

21 Years Ago Today

Wounded ATF agents leave the field.

Wounded ATF agents leave the field. Waco, TX, 28 Feb 93.

A huge ATF operation in Texas was meant to get a lot of media attention. And it did, just not the way the Bureau wanted. A raid that was planned for television effect was initiated with a rattle of suppressed fire as ATF agents killed the residents’ dogs: an Alaskan Malamute bitch and her four puppies. They didn’t kill them clean, and the agonized yelps of wounded dogs would continue for several minutes. That was the opening round; supposedly, it was written into the operations order, but nobody knows for sure, for as we’ll see, the operations order did not survive.

ATF Agent, hit by friendly MP5 fire from a mortally wounded agent inside. This man survived.

ATF Agent, after breaching the window and raking the glass, remained outside. He was hit by friendly MP5 fire, possibly a dying burst from a mortally wounded agent inside. This man survived and made it back down the ladder.

Then — according to all non-ATF witnesses — the ATF opened up on the building. Few had targets; they were just blazing away at windows and walls. Sometime in these mad minutes, some dog-loving agent put the crippled dogs out of their mewling agony. The ATF kept firing for two hours, until they were out of ammunition, then pulled back. Pulling back wasn’t the right term, really; they bugged out, undisciplined, and some of their men — particularly the dead and the wounded — were left behind by the fleeing agents. The wounded and bodies would be recovered when FBI negotiators established a truce with the apocalyptic cult inside, an extremist breakaway faction of the Seventh Day Adventists.

They cult, who called themselves Branch Davidians, had been stockpiling guns. ATF agents fabricated a nonexistent “confidential source” to say they were dealing drugs, to get helicopter and heavy-weapons support from the National Guard. (Later, the FBI would use the same tactic, a phony “confidential source,” to push the Attorney General’s child-abuse button, in order to get the second, firestorm raid greenlighted). 

The cult members would almost all be killed in the later FBI raid, which involved destroying all egresses with armored vehicles, covering them with sniper fire, and launching incendiaries into the building. (Weren’t we just talking about Njal’s Saga in some other context? History repeats itself).

The surviving cultists, most of whom fled before the final holocaust, were tried for various crimes, in a courtroom in San Antonio; and while some charges stuck, all of the murder and conspiracy-to-murder charges ended in acquittal. The fact-finders, the jury, found that the killings of ATF agents were self-defense. That finding is infuriating to this day to the officers who were there in 1993.

The ATF has never forgotten. Unfortunately, they never learned either.

The ATF has never forgotten. They’ve also never really admitted how badly their centralized planning let down the four agents who were slain.

At the end of the day, 16 to 20 (sources differ) ATF agents would be wounded, some seriously, and four would be killed: in alphabetical order, their names were Conway LeBleu, Todd McKeehan, Robert Williams and Steven Willis. Some of the twenty-odd ATF casualties were caused by return fire, and some of them were caused by friendly fire. It was and remains the worst day in the history of an agency that has had a lot of bad days.

One of the problems was that none of the ATF agents were prepared to do combat trauma medicine; no provision for medical support had been made; and so many resources had been poured into setting up a press center for the post-raid press conference that the officers on the scene didn’t have any means of communication. As an agent tried, with no training and no equipment, to somehow give first aid to a critically wounded, nonresponsive brother agent, another called out to the newsman filming the scene. “Cameraman! Call an ambulance.”


Until the cameraman called, no one had alerted the county medical trauma unit. ATF senior managers had been afraid that local first responders would leak to members of the cult. The irony is rich, because there was indeed a leak. But that leak came from those same senior managers, publicity hounds who leaked the raid to television networks to make sure ATF made the evening news.

Boy howdy, did they do that.

The ATF repaid the cameraman by pointing their guns at him and threatening him. You could say they treated him like a dog, except they didn’t shoot him. 

Meanwhile, the inmates of the cult compound were on the phone to 911 trying to get them to get the ATF raiders to back off. The ATF radio van, though, was unmanned. The agents there had left it to join the firing line, and no one picked up the phone.

That very day, senior ATF managers ordered the destruction of certain evidence, including all copies of the raid plan. Video shot by ATF videographers was destroyed; the ATF tried to seize and destroy video shot by media that they’d invited to the raid. (At least one cameraman palmed the exposed tape and gave ATF a blank one, which is the only reason any visual evidence of that raid survives).

In a video recorded that evening, cult leader David Koresh said, “Hey, I’m sorry some of you guys got shot. But God’ll have to sort that out, won’t he?”

Well, by the time Koresh got there, LeBleu, McKeehan, Williams and Willis had been telling their side of the story for months. Assuming, of course, that the outlaw lawmen and the blasphemous churchman wound up in the same place.

With the destruction of vast swathes of the evidence by the agencies involved, sorting out the events of February 28, 1993 is unlikely to be very successful. One thing, though, is that no one it ATF thinks anything they did was wrong. Therefore, no measures were taken to correct any shortfalls (how could there be? There were no shortfalls!) and no one was held responsible. In ATF historiography, they were just minding their own business when waylaid by David Koresh, whom the FBI sort-of held responsible by burning his house down around his ears, while HRT snipers made sure no one got away.

A lot has been written about Waco. The best book is Dick Reavis’s The Ashes of Waco. Reavis did something nobody else did: tried to understand the cult and their theology. (It’s as bizarre as its detractors say). He also tried, in a remarkably even-handed way, to understand the ATF agents. He picked up to some degree on the vast chasm that yawns between the DC HQ panjandrums whose life is politics, and the field agents who get the smelly end of every new DC brainstorm. A lot of what is written about Waco is propaganda; Reavis’s book stands out for its careful research and mature, level tone.

In the end, apart from the dead, nobody really paid. No one was fired, demoted, or suspended. (Not that stuck, anyway). Some people call ATF all kinds of names, stormtroopers, whatever, but that sentence, “No one was fired…” tells you the reality of it: bureaucracy, armed.

Some shootings are just bizarre.

Good luck figuring this one out. But it seems like one suspect shot her boyfriend, the other suspect; then a deputy shot the lady crook. Bonnie and Clyde both went to the hospital, but they have a date — not with each other, but separate ones with the court system.

BLISS – A Colorado man who was apparently shot by his girlfriend, who was then shot by Gooding County deputies, has been arrested on six felony Ada County warrants.

Ronald Walter Rice, 40, is being held at the Ada County Jail, said Gooding County Sheriff Shaun Gough.

His girlfriend, Hollee R. Johnston, 39, is still hospitalized in stable condition, Gough said.

During a traffic stop about 2:30 a.m. Feb. 2, Johnston shot Rice, then pointed her firearm at Gooding County deputies, Gough said. A deputy then shot Johnston.

The deputy had been on administrative leave but returned to the job Feb. 19, Gough said.

The Feb. 2 incident began when police pulled over a car in Mountain Home for no headlights but the driver fled east on Interstate 84, Gough said. Two Elmore County deputies chased the car to the Y Inn Motel in Bliss, where Gooding County deputies got involved.

Rice got out of the car with his hands in the air, following deputies’ commands, Gough said. That’s when Johnston allegedly shot him.

Rice was released, then arrested on the Ada County charges including grand theft, two counts of burglary, unlawful possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, theft by receiving stolen property and a fugitive warrant, all felonies, and misdemeanor malicious injury to property and petit theft.

Johnston will be charged with aggravated assault and also might face drug charges but by Thursday had not been formally charged, Gough said.

via 1 Arrested, 1 Still Hospitalized in Gooding Shooting.

Why did Hollee shot Ron? Given the sketchy lives most criminals lead, there might be no reason, beyond the good old, “Seemed like a bright idea at the time.” Your guesses in the comments are welcome, but, it might be time for Ron to find a new line of work: it’s hard out there for a burglar, even when the only ones shooting at you are the 5-0. But throw in your woman working out her relationship issues with you at 1200 feet per second and you’re really cruising for a bad day.

See? We’ve said this before, and it never gets any less true. Hang around with criminals and you just might get shot. Q.E.D.

Let’s Play Follow Ups and Snippets

Weapons Themselves that Deserved a Post but…

Why don’t the SEALs use Glocks, then?

Here’s one that spent an unknown amount of time in a river, and then two years in a cop evidence locker without any maintenance. Then, they threw it in a Hornady sonic cleaner. As Hornady posted to Facebook:

Riverbed Glock

“This Glock 27 was found in a river here in Estes and we had it in property hold for two years. We recently purchased the Hornady sonic cleaner and the idea came up to try and clean this gun, after three cleanings here are the results. Although not tested our firearms instructors say it will fire! We are sending it to the Glock Co. for evaluation.” -Cmdr. Eric V. Rose-Estes Park Police Department

It looks pretty good, considering. Most guns look better than Blocks, but not after periods of immersion and neglect. Of course, you wouldn’t want to try this in brackish or salt water.

Best smart ass comment, Brian Kurzynski: “Somebody probably got tired of this thing throwing brass back at their face.” Ow! (We have not had the brass-in-face, but we’ve seen it. There seems to be an undocumented stealth recall for G4s with this problem).

This is the wrong reason to change calibers

A small Georgia PD is trading in some pistols for new Glocks in 9mm. They’re stepping down from .40 to .35, that is, 9mm. Why?

“Over the past year we have had serious … difficulties finding .40-caliber ammunition,” said Senoia Police Chief Jason Edens. “We have been experiencing anything from six to eight months lead time” on getting access to both practice and duty ammo.

“It’s not obtainable by any department, not just ours,” Edens told the council.

As the Newnan Times-Herald reports, the shortage of .40-caliber ammo is due to the fact that the U.S. Military has begun using the round.

We’re big believers in 9 > 40, but it’s because the rounds are equivalent from a terminal ballistics POV, and the .40 is unpleasant to shoot, so most guys and gals shoot better with a 9. Of course, Chief Edens mentioned that, too: “[The 9] is performing as well as, if not better than, a .40-cal.” He’s quite right. A lot of departments are looking at doing the same thing. Only hits count, and it’s not like average cops are President’s Hundred shooters.

And Glock made them, as usual for LE agencies, a very good deal (But he probably should stockpile a year’s worth of training and duty ammo for his patrol officers).

We had the opposite experience over the last couple years. The Parabellum round was considerably harder to come by than .40 or 10mm.

Follow Ups

She’s Still Outa Dodge, and Still Happy

Remember Judy Aron, who wrote to the Hartford Courant about how glad she was to have left the Unconstitutional State of Malloystan behind? Well, the Courant’s usual lovely readers sent the paper plenty of hate mail directed her way, the main axis of which seemed to be she was no longer invited to be in their Highly Superior Gun Haters Club. Aron ripostes:

I truly do not care what the hateful anti-Second Amendment crowd in Connecticut had to say… in response.

As far as I am concerned, they are no different from the folks that supported tyrannical leaders and police states throughout history, and clearly do not understand what the Second Amendment is for. And furthermore, if they are so sincere in their wanting to help me pack, why didn’t they all pool their money and buy my house when it first came on the market? That would have saved me a year’s time waiting to move.

She sums it up: “I am glad to be gone from Connecticut.” Heh. Welcome to New Hampshire, Judy. You have friends here already.

(Added in an update): Prison Prevented for Pill-Popping Patrician

Kerry Kennedy beat the rap for driving stoned, colliding with a truck, and fleeing the scene (a Kennedy tradition, that). This is a good day not to drive in the Northeast, she and numberless dozens, of hopped-up Kennedy cousins, will be breaking out vodka, crack pipes, heroin, and her 10-plus-year habit, Ambien. And then hitting the road.

With impunity. A nation of ranks, not of laws.

Weapons Employment For Good or Ill

On the cowardly cop…

Who lost his cool and shot a dog in Filer, Idaho.

The town has lawyered up and is hiding the cowardly cop, Tarek Hassani. Protesters demand his firing. The town council and mayor want to hear no comments about its internationally-famous coward, and they really mean it. Rick Clubb, the owner of the canine victim has lawyered up, too. (But unlike Hassani, he talked to the reporter). The last time Hassani shot somebody, he fired blind through a tinted window and miraculously hit the suspect.

The reporter, Jon Alexander, who broke the story by requesting the dashcam video that exposed Hassani’s cowardice is now ambivalent about it. He recognizes the power of the video…

Sure enough, that video went viral. It’s gritty, brutal and powerful. Hassani’s .45 caliber hollow-point drives the poor animal into the ground as if it was hit with a sledge hammer. You watch the dog slink away to its death.

The video shows him explaining after the shooting that he had been bitten before. He kicked and thrashed at the dogs that surrounded his car when he rolled up to owner Rick Clubb’s home. His aggression made the situation worse, and ended it with a pull of the trigger.

But now he regrets ever having posted it.

I can’t seem to shake a guilty ache in my gut, a sickness that’s slowly built but exploded after seeing that little girl [who had a poster with a drawing of Hassani, and the legend “Stop Terrorizing Filer”.

To thousands, maybe millions, Officer Hassani is no longer a man who simply made a few very bad moves. He’s the target of a public lynching and it’s all my doing.

If the police chief had done the right thing and fired Hassani, there would have been no protests.

Reporter Aishah Hasnie channels Fox Butterfield

Butterfield was famously flummoxed by more people being in prison even as crime was declining, proving that you can get a degree from a top university and be hired by a rather snobby newspaper, without ever being exposed to the mighty power of the law of cause and effect. Hasnie reports that 8 murders in half a day in Indianapolis was “a span of violence,” and something about the victims shocked her:

According to IMPD, 89% of the suspects who police have identified this year have a criminal history. What’s surprising is that 71% of the victims did too. In fact, every single person murdered on Thursday had a previous run-in with the law. 27-year-old Michael Whitefield had been arrested more than 30 times before he was shot to death in a home on the 2400 block of Stuart Street.

Yep, she was amazed that the vics were 8 for 8 in having a mugshot in the system. Well, she’s young. It sure wasn’t a surprise to the homicide investigators. (Hat tip: Tam)

News flash: people who hang around doing crime with other criminals tend to get whacked. Write that down.

Not Another Florida Shooting Case.

Yep, another one. This one is the theater shooting case. We’re Florida’d out. Check out Guns Save Life and Legal Insurrection for the skinny (although Andrew is kind of busy with the Maryland off-duty cop case). Most of the media are making this about Stand Your Ground (not implicated in this case) and about licensed carriers, but both the Floridian (a retired cop) and Maryland (out-of-state cop) cases deal with people who would have been legally authorized to carry under Federal law, due to their LE status. You know, the same people the media and lefties (Department of Redundancy Department) say should be The Only Ones to carry guns!

Unconventional Warfare

From Blowing Folks Up to Merely Screwing Them Over

What happens to murdering terrorist bombers? Well, some of them wind up as professors at the University of Chicago (Bill Ayers, we’re lookin’ at you). And some wind up as Obamacare navigators. The Alpha and Omega of the Obama legend? Anyway, on her way to helping people get uninsured, Rasmieh Yousef Odeh blew up a supermarket and a British consulate, and killed two and wounded 10. How do you top that? You have to go work getting cancer and cardiac patients killed, apparently.


More developments than can be reasonably watched part-time. Armed men (possibly Russians) have seized several airports. The Sudeten comparison is not far off, then. The Guardian (UK; left-wing; inclines pro-Russian) is live-blogging it. Yanukovych speaking in Rostov-on-Don, willing to go back as a quisling for Russia. Denies having ordered the mass killings by his police, says they’re all self-defense.

Apparently Yanukovych had stashed a large, ill-gotten fortune in Austria and Switzerland, and those European nations have frozen the funds. Even the stuff he’d laundered by stashing it in his grandson’s name (which has him very upset).

Here are the Russian helicopters (Mi-8s and -24s) that delivered the commandos that seized the airfields:

Russian Helicopters Ukraine

The US would be powerless (given the relative distances) even if we weren’t led entirely by people who reflexively oppose any friend, support any foe, reject any hardship, and shrug off any burden to prevent the survival and success of liberty.

Walter Russell Mead has an essay on this powerlessness in The American Interest, which is rather more in-depth that the mentions we’ve made of it here.

Guess how the VA solved their backlog problem?

VA-veterans-affairsHey, they just deleted the records of the problem — including the records of vets who were queued up waiting for their appointments to ripen in the sun for seven years and more.

VA Secretary Rick Shinseki: men follow him, but only out of morbid curiosity.

Employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) destroyed veterans’ medical files in a systematic attempt to eliminate backlogged veteran medical exam requests, a former VA employee told The Daily Caller.

Audio of an internal VA meeting obtained by TheDC confirms that VA officials in Los Angeles intentionally canceled backlogged patient exam requests.

The problem was that many patients had been delayed and delayed, some for years. But VA performance metrics tend to make any delay costly to the hospital or clinic that’s backlogged. The VA’s Los Angeles officials weren’t too bothered with delays in the radiology department that were seven years old or longer, but the backlogs threatened fundings and incentives — in other words, it was close to costing these payroll patriots money. 

What do you think they did? If you didn’t immediately think, “Cancel and flush everything a year old or older,” sorry, #youdonthavewhatittakestobeaVAbureaucrat.

“We just didn’t have the resources to conduct all of those exams. Basically we would get about 3,000 requests a month for [medical] exams, but in a 30-day period we only had the resources to do about 800. That rolls over to the next month and creates a backlog,” [former-Marine Oliver] Mitchell said. ”It’s a numbers thing. The waiting list counts against the hospitals efficiency. The longer the veteran waits for an exam that counts against the hospital as far as productivity is concerned.”

So, VA doc Suzie El-Saden just had the records flushed. Hey, if the vets really needed help, they could just resubmit for another 7-year-delay leading to another cancellation. That’ll teach ’em to inconvenience the VA hospital system with actual patients. 

It gets better. Mitchell filed a complaint with the Inspector General. What did the supposedly independent VA IG do? Take the complaint to El-Saden. “Hey, this guy is complaining about you and advocating for the vets. He’s not a team player.”

So Mitchell was binned. And El-Saden? She’s still there, still too busy to see patients.

The Office of Special Counsel investigated and found that the records deletion was not unique to LA. In fact, it was nationwide. Therefore, It is the general policy of OSC not to transmit an allegation of wrongdoing to the head of the agency involved, where the agency’s OIG or its delegate, is currently investigating or has investigated, the same allegations. Consequently, this office will take no further action concerning this allegation.”

Get that? Rick Shinseki’s VA was destroying records nationwide, and OIG had already blown it off in other jurisdictions. So no point looking into it in Los Angeles.

NPR: ATF/DOJ Self-Whitewash Doubleplusgood

ATF press release alert!

ATF press release alert!

Government-controlled Narodniy Politicheskiy Radio (NPR) published the following pearls of wisdom, which seem to have derpped right from the silver tongue of ATF’s notorious spokespersons onto the AP wire:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department’s inspector general is conducting a four-city examination into storefront undercover operations run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to assess whether they pose a danger to the public.

The ATF runs sting operations in various cities, often as part of an effort to catch arms traffickers who bring stolen weapons into storefronts where agents act as buyers.

The IG’s office said [last] Thursday it is looking into storefront operations in Milwaukee, Pensacola, Fla., St. Louis, Mo., and Wichita, Kan.

IG Michael Horowitz said if his office learns of information that might warrant looking at additional storefront operations, it will consider expanding the review to include them.

The ATF ran a Milwaukee storefront operation intended to bust felons for drug and gun offenses, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in January 2013 that no major drug dealers or gang members were taken down. The store was robbed of $35,000 in merchandise, an agent’s machine gun was stolen and a document listing undercover agents was left behind.

via Govt Looking Into ATF Operations In 4 Cities : NPR.

This story, as you’d expect from NPR and the Associated (with terrorists) Press, minimizes ATF misconduct in even the Milwaukee case, which has been covered in some depth by the Journal-Sentinel. Indeed, the Ray Charleses and Stevie Wonders of internal ATF oversight did not uncover a thing; the newspaper did. The story mentions one stolen machine gun but not the two pistols also lost (and unlike the M4, recovered) through the negligence of the same officer. The story does not mention that ATF has systematically placed these operations near schools (often middle schools and junior highs), or that ATF seeks out retarded locals to ensnare in its stings. In Milwaukee, they paid a retarded man $2,000 for a gun they sent him to Gander Mountain (an outdoor chain store) to buy for $700, and they lost eight cases because the lead agent couldn’t testify credibly.

It’s clear from the cloning of these operations across many time zones that this was not some local misconduct by “rogue” agents, but a deliberate plan executed by a rogue agency.

So for further revelations, experience tells us, we have to count on a press, many of whom will not investigate ATF because of their shared political partisanship and gun-control agenda.

This investigation is not meant to find any wrongdoing, but to hide it. IG Horowitz has been, to date, a “beard” for abuses at ATF and DOJ in general, and the likelihood that there will be any consequences for any of the misbehaving agents (or, especially, supervisors and executives) is zero.

Consider this:

  • Was anyone ever disciplined for gunwalking? No. Most were promoted, and one, near retirement, was given a paid year off to start his new job.
  • Was the Milwaukee agent who was too corrupt to go on the stand disciplined? Nope.
  • How about the Milwaukee lead undercover agent, who lost three guns from a G-ride while hooking up with another agent (both of whom were married to other people)? What, you’re kidding, that’s just how ATF rolls.

As you might expect, the Journal-Sentinel (a paper that shares ATF’s partisanship and gun-control advocacy agenda, but has problems with the agency’s methods) has a much better, bylined report on the coming IG whitewash. Facts in the J-S report that are missing from the NPR one, which might as well have been written by ATF’s lightweight and dishonest PR dolly Ginger Colbrun, are many.

  • Horowitz has decided to skip investigating the Portland, Oregon case on flimsy grounds. In Oregon, ATF paid one retarded kid and one merely slow one to get the logo of their fake storefront tattooed in the “jobstopper position” on their neck; set up facing a middle school; outfitted the store with video games to attract juveniles; failed to make Federal cases and failed to recover any crime guns. Per Horowitz, this is not worth investigating. No ATF employee has been or will be disciplined.
  • Storefront ops so often walked guns that ATF finally wrote into a handbook that it was a bad idea to let felons leave with guns.
  • ATF Congressional liason officers lied to Congressional staffers in early 2013 that the problems the Journal-Sentinel found in Milwaukee were unique to that city. They knew that the Milwaukee problems were replicated in many other agency operations.
  • In meeting with the ARC, a group that speaks for the rights of the retarded, ATF managers refused to stop manipulating mentally handicapped people in stings. (This is reminiscent of ATF’s fallback position in Fast & Furious: if they couldn’t get any actual criminals, they’d just indict the FFLs who only sold the guns under ATF instructions).

We could go on and on, but you get the idea.

Ukraine: the Empire Strikes Back

Two flags, one nation; we tried that 1860-65, didn't work.

Two flags, one nation; we tried that 1860-65, didn’t work.

Some interesting facts alleged in this New York Times story.

  • Yanukovych has fled to Moscow, and called on Russia to restore him to power. (Which seems to be almost a confession that he was a marionette for Putin all along).
  • In the Crimea, ethnic Russians clash with the returned survivors of the Crimean Tatars, a Turkic-speaking group ethnically cleansed and nearly exterminated by Stalin. The ethnic Russians are waving the Russian flag and basically running the 1938 Sudeten German playbook. But there are many more of them in the area than Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians put together; and, like the Sudetendeutsche, or the Texans of 1836, they are long-term, multigenerational settlers in the region, whose ties of ethnicity and loyalty don’t happen to be to the polity in which they find themselves.
  • The Tatars are alleging that Russian armed forces are preparing to invade. Note that Russia does have military bases on the Crimean peninsula, especially in Sebastopol, the home for centuries of the Russian Black Sea fleet.
  • The Russian military is staging exercises all along the Ukrainian border — another echo of the Sudetenland.  This could be saber-rattling, or it could be preparation for an attack. This very ambiguity could be part of the reason the Russian leaders are doing it.
  • And then there’s this:

Masked men with guns seized government buildings in the capital of Ukraine’s Crimea region on Thursday, barricading themselves inside and raising the Russian flag after mysterious overnight raids that appeared to be the work of militant Russian nationalists who want this volatile Black Sea region ruled from Moscow.

Police officers sealed off access to the buildings but said that they had no idea who was behind the assault, which sharply escalated tensions in a region that serves as home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and also to a number of radical pro-Russia groups that have appealed to Moscow to protect them from the new interim government in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital.

Nobody credibly claims to know who these Russian-flagged armed men are.

From the Russian point of view, the Ukrainians have no claim whatsoever to the Crimea, and their point of view has strong historical legitimacy. The Crimea was part of the crumbling Ottoman Empire that crumbled off as an independent khanate; at the time of the American Revolution, the khans fell into the Russian orbit and the peninsula was annexed. It is one of those places that “produces more history than the locals can consume.”

Wrangel and the Whites bug out, 1920.

Wrangel and the Whites bug out from Crimea, 1920.

In the West, the Crimea is famous as the location of a nasty European war in the 1850s, with a French-English alliance fighting the Russians and the peninsula as battlefield (this is the war that produced the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava, which has gone down in history as a much better poem than it was a military operation). In the Russian Civil War, the Crimea was a White Russian stronghold until 1920, when White general Peter Wrangel and many of his men fled into exile (those that stayed to surrender were, in a sign of things to come in the Red regime, murdered). The same Red Army buried a nascent Ukrainian Republic at the same time.

The captured Crimea was part of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic and remained so. In World War II, the Germans and Soviets fought for the peninsula. When the Soviets retook it in 1944, Stalin declared the Tatars and other non-Russian minorities on the peninsula to be collaborators. (The Nazis did raise 9 battalions of Tatar troops, who were presumably not among the ones waiting for Stalin’s mercy in 1944). Those that were not killed outright were exiled to Siberia, and for most of them, doom; their property given to ethnic Russians or seized by the State. By 1945 the population of the Crimea was 100% ethnic Russian or Ukrainian. The survivors of the Tatars remained exiled until the fall of the USSR; all Tatars on the peninsula, some 16% of the population now, are returned survivors of expropriated exiles.

That Crimea, which was always Russian, is part of Ukraine is the result of a 1954 decison by the Supreme Soviet, when the borders of Soviet republics represented little more than lines on a map, and it seemed to tidy the map to move a nominally autonomous zone from one republic to another (in the Soviet context. “autonomous” means it had the trappings of local government). The peninsula is today a nominally autonomous republic within Ukraine, with its own unicameral legislature, in which Yanukovych’s ethnic-Russian Party of Regions holds almost 90 of the 100 seats.

Lawyers are known to say, “hard cases make bad law.” This is truly a hard case. Both sides have what lawyers (them, again!) would call a “colorable argument.” And both sides have reasons, both historical and present-day, to mistrust the other.

If Russia is going to move

Watch for the appearance of of a weaselly character named Viktor Volodymyrovich Medvedchuk as a “compromise”. Medvedchuk is the son of a Nazi collaborator, and he himself is a former small-time criminal and secret police snitch, who became a lawyer. As a lawyer, he’s one of that  98% minority that gives the honest ones a bad name.

He was a defense attorney in Soviet-era show trials, where his function was to join the prosecution in denouncing his own client. He claims to be personally close to Putin, and while involved in Ukrainian post-independence politics both managed to enrich himself and ingratiate himself with the Russian security services.

Ukraine and Guns, an aside

Part of the deal with Yanukovych (the one from last Friday, that Y. immediately broke) was that the protesters would turn in their weapons. Apparently, Y’s guys flipped sides before that ever happened. No one seems to be taking gun confiscation all that seriously. Unlike, say, Connecticut, where State Police brass is itching for some test case that will let them jail all 300,000 rifle-registration scofflaws. Or shoot all 300,000 — they’re not particular.

They’ve already sent out confiscation demands to a few hundred who attempted to register but whose applications were postmarked late. Thanks for trying to comply with the law — chump. Resistance is futile.

Even the Mounties gave up on long gun registration. In the CT SP, there’s a bit of a divide between the honchos who are enthusiastic about sending the road cops out to round up the guns from the “undesirables” — yellow triangles optional — and the road cops. Most of them do not want to do this, but they will do as they’re told.

On the plus side, they will leak, so we’ll hear about it.

You know, the Final Solution began, not with the Jews and the SS, but with mentally retarded patients and units organized from regular beat cops. They thought that the Army or SS would have moral problems, and figured cops wouldn’t. Then the cops went on  to work on the Jewish Problem, as the striped-pants diplomats of Europe called it. In the Nazi revisions to the Weimar gun law, Jews and other “social undesirables,” in the ugly verbiage of an uglier ideology, were stripped of their right to self-defense.

Policemen, “Just doing their job, sir,” pulled the registration cards of “undesirables,” principally Jews, and then called at the houses in question to confiscate the guns. To “fight crime,” you see.

Registration never solves crimes, but it always enables confiscation. Confiscation never reduces crime, but it has always enabled democide. Cheerful thought, that.

We got ours for free. No wonder the factory’s on the skids.

SF Recruiting Poster pick it upIs there any headgear packed with more Francophile symbolism than the beret? The floppy wool hat was a shepherd’s cap, then the height of women’s fashion, and finally became a military “badge of courage, a mark of distinction”  (to quote John Kennedy). The beret went to war in World War II, thanks to the Resistance and the British Commandos. It was so fashionable, but even some Nazis wore them (the Panzer Corps). The French and other Continental armies adopted them later; most nations have different colors for different branches of service, but the French even have different styles of beret for many regiments (and the Foreign Legion clings to the pre-beret képi blanc). In the US Army, it was an illegal hat worn by Special Forces for nine years before being approved by Kennedy in 1961, to the everlasting vexation of the Army Institute of Heraldry. To this day, it is the only article of American military uniform ever approved directly by a president.

SF poster it says more about youAnd one time, the beret was worn only by elite forces in United States: red for paratroops, black for Rangers, and green for SF. Air Force SOF operators had blue and red ones. Even the SEALs flirted with a nonregulation ripstop camouflage one in Vietnam. The beret lost its cachet when struggling Army chief, Rick Shinseki (yes, the same bozo currently mismanaging the VA) awarded the Rangers’ black beret as a sort of social promotion to every generator mechanic and water purification specialist in the army. This drove the Rangers to a tan beret, But what it really did was make all the elite units more or less lose interest in berets entirely. Thanks to Shinseki, it was now, “a badge of mediocrity, a mark of nothing in particular.”

Meanwhile, after the Cold War ended, the conscript armies of Europe it, including France’s, converted into much smaller professional armies. The demand for berets collapsed faster than the politruk of the Third Shock Army’s hope for a retirement dacha on the Riviera. And it took a while, but France’s last beret manufacturer, a company recognized as an Enterprise du Patrimoine Vivant, or Enterprise of Living Patrimony, is on the ropes. The Chicago Trib:

PARIS — Laulhere, a 174-year-old beret- maker, is fighting to keep the quintessential French headgear French.

Laulhere became the country’s sole maker of traditional berets after it recently bought Blancq-Olibet, its only French competitor, which was almost 200 years old. Cheaper knockoffs from China, India and the Czech Republic made survival hard for local makers of berets, which have been as much a symbol of France as baguettes and Gauloises cigarettes.

Based in the foothills of the French Pyrenees, where the round and flat woolen hat was invented by shepherds to protect themselves from the Basque region’s damp, Laulhere has joined the frontlines of the battle for the “Made in France” label as foreign-made berets steal an increasing share of a shrinking market. On its website, Laulhere says: “To us ‘Made in France’ still means something.”

“There are berets and there are berets,” said Mark Saunders, the head of sales at Laulhere and an Irishman who has lived in France for over two decades. “If you don’t want to smell like a sock wearing a wet beret, only our traditional French beret doesn’t retain odors. Small details like that make a difference.”

The fight for survival by Laulhere — rescued in a purchase by French military-garment maker Cargo-Promodis with a 500,000 euro ($686,000) injection in late 2012 — tells the tale of President Francois Hollande’s competitiveness challenge. French companies struggling to compete and retain market share have contributed to the nation’s slumping economy, which barely grew after 2012 and left unemployment at a 16-year high.

via Last French beret maker fighting for survival –

Say what? Euro cradle-to-grave socialism produces a slumping economy? And France’s decades of protectionism haven’t helped? Unpossible!

Laulhere…  is banking on demand from the high end of the market to revive its fortunes after its bankruptcy in 2012.

Laulhere, which had 1.7 million euros in sales last year and didn’t make a profit, expects “to break even this year,” he said.

Ah, “break even.” Dans la belle France, they call that la victoire.

The company plans to produce 200,000 hats this year, up from 160,000 in 2013. Half of its beret production goes to armies around the world. The rest goes to the fashion industry and to traditional wearers of the headgear.

Men’s berets from Laulhere can cost anywhere from 40 euros to 75 euros, while women’s are priced between 20 euros and 95 euros. Imports can cost as little as two euros.

Get outa here. They’re having a hard time selling hundred-plus-dollar berets? When the competition sells for three bucks? How could that possibly be?

Global competition has come from berets manufacturers in China, Pakistan, India and the Czech Republic, where the company Tonak a.s. produces fashion berets for women.

Until the late 1980s, France produced several million berets each year. Sales slid for decades, with cheaper products made in Asia. The nail in the coffin came in 2001 when the French military ended conscriptions, eliminating hundreds of thousands of army orders.

The end of the draft appears to have done for their captive market. Because after all, who’s more captive than a draftee? Well, prisoners, but even in France, they don’t wear, “a mark of distinction, a badge of courage.” (By the way, where do they keep the cons, now that they tore down the Bastille and Devil’s Island is gone to weeds?)

Maybe SF needs to go to the pakol to maintain its traditions?

Maybe SF needs to go to the pakol to maintain its traditions?

It’s hard to see how Laulhere — or any other European high-cost, low-automation manufacturer — survives in a global world. The executives’ plans to take the company upmarket make as much sense as anything. Luxury goods can sell on snob appeal, and luxury sellers can successfully brand and sell handcraft work. In the luxury market, overpriced goods are valued for their sheer signaling potential. They tell people you have enough money to be careless with it. So maybe they do have a chance. It would be nice to see them succeed. But there is a faint aroma of buggy-whip about the whole thing.

Would you pay a hundred bucks for a beret? Hell, the Q course is still giving them out for “free.” That’s how we got ours. Back when it still was, “a mark of distinction, a badge of courage.”

Hickenlooper in Denial over Magpul, etc. Departure

Free ColoradoNational Journal’s Ron Brownstein, in an unusual dual interview with governors Mary Fallin (R-OK) and John Hickenlooper (D-CO), served up a rather obvious question, and got a remarkable answer from Colorado:

States are moving in very different directions on social issues like … gun control. Does this affect who wants to live there or locate a business there?

Fallin: Yes.

Hickenlooper: No.

via Fallin and Hickenlooper Seek Slices of Common Ground –

It was only one “No” in a long-running interview, but it suggests that Hickenlooper is deep in denial over the economic consequences of his anti-gun extremism. At least four companies have left or announced their departure, according to government-controlled NPR:

And they were. Today, Magpul can still legally manufacture high-capacity magazines in the state, but starting July 1, it can no longer sell them here. The company says it is leaving because it disagrees with the new gun laws on philosophical grounds.

Three other companies in Colorado are following suit. Two businesses that supply Magpul say they will relocate part of their operations, while a small company that produces gun sights says it will move entirely.

The small companies they refer to are HiViz (went to Laramie, WY), Alfred Manufacturing (following MagPul, which went to Wyoming and Texas, taking 1,000 jobs out of state) and one other MagPul supplier. (The Denver Post, a cheerleader for Hickenlooper and the new law, frets that as many as a dozen injection-molding shops may follow). In addition, the Outdoor Channel and Michael Bane have pulled the plug on production in the Centennial State.