Fun with Brackets:

Via Instapundit, the article on Kerry and the Marines. I was reading this over, and a thought struck me:

The Marines -- two in uniform and two off-duty -- were polite but curt while chatting with Kerry, answering most of his questions with a 'yes, sir' or 'no, sir.' . . .

'He imposed on us and I disagree with him coming over here shaking our hands,' one Marine said, adding, 'I'm 100 percent against [him].'

Usually brackets are used by editors to repair verb tenses when they're using a partial quote, or to change a pronoun to a [Kerry] so you'll know of whom they're speaking. I don't think I've seen brackets used to insert a pronoun in quite this way before.

Which leads to the question: Just what did they replace? I'll wager that it was something unprintable.

American Digest: What Lincoln Would Say Were He Speaking in Springfield Today

Lincoln Variations:

From the American Digest, via the good Doc.

Grim's Hall

Gun Show Notes:

Just got back from today's gun show at the Dulles Expo Center in Fairfax County, Virginia. A few notes from the day:

* This is the first gun show in Fairfax County in quite a long time. The county had instituted a waiting period for gun purchases, the effect of which was to make it impossible to hold a gun show -- the dealer wouldn't be around in thirty days to hand over the weapon you'd bought, and the cost of shipping it to you more than overrides the savings you'd get from attending the show.

* One of the state senators who worked hardest to override the law got on the PA system to congratulate all the folks -- many in the room -- who had worked to make the show possible. There was a resounding round of applause.

* Lots of political activity in the hall. People were talking about gun-control proposals from both the state and federal governments, and every official up for re-election must have had a table. And no wonder: I was standing by one poor fellow, a man in his late fifties, who learned while asking about parts for an old firearm of his that he was a felon. Some ATF official had, without benefit of legislation, ruled that a kind of firearm he'd owned for thirty years was illegal -- and didn't grandfather in existing ones. (See, this is one reason why people get irritated by gun-control laws. The ATF takes a guy who's never been in any sort of trouble his whole life, and turns him into a felon with a stroke of a pen.)

* There must have been several thousand people in the Expo center, with more coming and leaving by the minute. The show was obviously a great success.

* I haven't been to a gun show in probably ten years. Indeed, I only went to this one because the wife and wee one are out of town, and I had the day free with nothing else to do. I always forget several things about gun shows:

1) They are incredibly crowded events, no matter how big the hall is. This is the main reason I don't like them. I was raised in the Georgia mountains, and I hate crowds. For me, that's any room with more than about two people in it, although if it's a really big room I can endure a dozen.

2) The gun show really is an event for collectors. All those people who fret about these things being crime marts can quit worrying. I would estimate that fully 80% of the tables aren't selling anything that would be useful to a criminal. Most of them are selling antique long arms, or blackpowder revolvers from the 19th century, or other weapons so outdated that you'd really need to spend some time learning to operate them. Between the antiques and the collectibles, the books, the knife merchants, the people selling holsters and carrying cases, the people selling bumperstickers, and the people selling militaria (old uniforms, etc.) there's actually very little space devoted to anything "dangerous." I'm always surprised by how few people there are selling modern firearms. Maybe 10% of the tables have them for sale; maybe another 10% have knives. The rest is stuff no criminal would even want.

3) They had two separate areas for simulators, one of which looked top notch. It had a big screen which displayed real movies of potential tactical situations -- when I walked by there, it was a display of a college classroom where someone was taking hostages. The whole thing was linked to a lightgun, so that you could test yourself under realistic conditions and timing. It's intended for police training, and is similar in form to some of the things the Marines do for MOUT training. It should produce good results in improving tactical responses. I noted that, although it was developed for cops, it was portable and the sign said that they'd bring it out to your club if you wanted to hire them for a weekend.

4) The other simulator was simpler, but had one really nifty element. They'd rigged up some .45 frames with lasers, but also with a motor that would "kick" in the right way to simulate recoil. They then had targets that could tell where the laser was pointed when you pulled the trigger. You could therefore practice with realistic recoil, without ammo.

* I only bought one thing: a holster for my new revolver. It was pretty hard to find one. I don't care for cloth or formed-ballistic-nylon holsters, which is the great majority of what is available. I like gunleather, and in fact, I insist on it.

I spent nearly forever looking around, but found few dealers that had leather holsters, and none that had what I wanted. Then, in the very back of the hall, I found a place called "Backwoods Gunleather," which had some beautiful stuff. I looked it over and grabbed a single-loop holster.

I took it up to the guy, and asked if he had one in that make that would fit a K-Frame Smith & Wesson. He said no, that he only made this particular holster for single-actions, mostly for Cowboy Action re-enactors. I said I thought this one I had in my hand was the right size, but he insisted that it wouldn't fit. He gave me a long speech to talk me out of buying it, explaining several things I already knew about the technical differences between single and double action revolvers.

Finally, seeing that I was not deterred, he sighed and said that he didn't even have a K-frame "red gun" (a plastic mockup in the right size, used by police for training and holster-makers for construction of holsters). Or, at least, he thought he didn't. Well, he'd look. Hey, actually, he did. So he brought it over and slipped it into the holster...

...and it fit like a glove. I bought it and brought it home. It's like it was made for me, and just waiting on me to show up and buy it. It's even a crossdraw design, which I happen to prefer.

All in all, a good day. They're open tomorrow too, so if you're in the area, you might stop by.

Marine Corps News> 11th MEU Marine awarded Navy Cross for legendary day during OIF

Congratulations II:

Another set of congratulations are due. Let's hear it for Marine First Sergeant Justin D. Lehew, winner of the Navy Cross. It's taken more than a year to get the paperwork approved, but it was finally awarded on 24 July.


A Gunslinger:

Congratulations to Marine Gunnery Sergeant Brian Zins.

24th MEU History

USMC Iraq Updates:

The 24th MEU(SOC) is now fully deployed in Iraq; JarHeadDad points out that they're bunking with the 2/2 Marines. The 24th has a short but proud history, including the daring rescue of downed pilot Scott O'Grady in the Bosnian conflict.

In other news, Marines are taking worthless souvenirs of their time in Iraq, and riding around with the Army while taking over stability operations. They're also making Iraq a safer place by destroying enemy munitions by the mountain, and using up some of their own stockpiles, too.

The Economics of Obesity

Smoke 'Em:

This one is mostly for Doc Russia, who was advocating a good cigar the other day:

We have also unmasked a second and perhaps more surprising culprit in the alarming rise in obesity: the crackdown on smoking via tax increases. Higher cigarette taxes and higher cigarette prices have caused more smokers to quit -- but these smokers seem to have begun eating more as a result. According to our research, each 10 percent increase in the real price of cigarettes produces a 2 percent increase in the number of obese people, other things being equal.

Clearly, those who curtail their habit or quit smoking altogether typically gain weight as the appetite-suppressing and metabolism-increasing effects of smoking come to an end. This is no small effect: The inflation-adjusted price of cigarettes has risen by approximately 164 percent since 1980. This large growth resulted in part from four federal excise tax hikes, a number of state tax hikes, and the settlement of the state lawsuits filed against cigarette manufacturers to recover Medicaid funds spent treating diseases related to smoking. The rise in the real price of cigarettes is the second-most important factor next to the growth in restaurants in the trend in the post-1980 obesity trend. We estimate that it accounts for almost 20 percent of the growth in obesity.

There you go. Smoke, and you increase your risk of heart disease and cancer; don't smoke, and you increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes, depression, and cancer. Smoke, and you may join the 430,000 people a year who die from smoking-related illness; don't smoke, and you may join the 400,000 people a year who die from obesity-related illness.

Once again, a life of regulated vice seems to be the wisest choice.

KeepMedia | Esquire: The Case for George W. Bush

Bring Me Everyone:

I don't turn to Esquire looking for philosophy, but maybe I should. Thanks to The Mudville Gazette, I see that they've printed a piece of particular power and insight into the nature of war, and the war on terror.

Telegraph | Arts | For love of liberty

On Germany:

The Telegraph has a piece on Germany. It contains, in analyzing one of Germany's leading thinkers, a cutting insight:

He agrees that the European Union is, among other things, a project to avoid war at all costs, but he does not see what a burden this throws upon America, Britain and, indeed, the free world which he loves.

Haaretz - Israel News


The Arrow lives! This was pretty close to a make-or-break test, and it's good to see that it's pulled through.

Tim Worstall: Anybody but Sully Project.

Ponies in the Rain:

For those of you participating in the anti-Andrew Sullivan pledge drive, Grim's Hall is endorsing Tim Worstall's project. He's supporting a charity that does "sports therapy" for handicapped kids, putting them on horseback and teaching them to ride.

Grim's Hall feels that horseback riding, like the regular practice of gunfighting skills, is the God-given right of every American. For my leftist readers (I'm always surprised by how many I have), I would point out that Edward Abbey supported both.

The notoriety brought by The Monkey Wrench Gang, together with the literary respectability of Desert Solitaire, combined to provide him a bully pulpit, which he used to spout off on feminism (bad), mountain lions (good), immigration (give 'em a rifle and send 'em home), cowboys (peasants on horseback), and the National Parks (rip out the roads).
Teddy Roosevelt did too, as it happens. In fact, it's how he overcame a severe case of asthma, and went on to become a hero to those who enjoy a life fully lived. His example lives on in this charity, and it therefore deserves our support and admiration. - Pakistan captures high-level al Qaeda operative - Jul 29, 2004

Stories that Really Are True:

CNN reports that Pakistan has captured a high-level al Qaeda operative. There is only speculation as to exactly who it is, although Reuters names Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani based on a report from Al Arabiya.

UPDATE: In regard to the speculation we're seeing about this, here is what I wrote about this on 8 July, when the New Republic story broke:

This rumor has been bouncing around for a while now--since early May for certain. Josh Marshall first aired it in the English language press, citing "chatter" among Pakistani intelligence sources.

Evaluating intelligence, as we've discussed, is like figuring odds for poker. The odds are high that these propositions are true:

1) Someone that Marshall believes to have connections to the ISI said something like this to him, and,

2) Someone (perhaps the same someone) said the same thing to someone from TNR, and,

3) There probably really is a rumor to this effect circulating in Pakistan.

Proposition three is likely to be true because Pakistan contains the highest per-capita ratio of conspiracy theorists on the ground anywhere. A few days' reading of the Frontier Post (out of Peshawar), the Balochistan Post, and the Nation of Pakistan (all available online) will demonstrate what I mean.

The odds are a lot lower on this proposition:

4) The US told the ISI to capture someone important around 28 July.

This proposition requires the Bush administration to be Machivellian enough to plan in those terms, and also confident of the ISI's capability to believe they could capture a high value target on demand, and also confident that the ISI would carry out such orders. Opinions can differ on point one, but points two and three would require a faith in the ISI's competence and loyalty totally unjustified by past events.

Here's a piece of personal speculation on a more likely proposition:

5) A high-value target has already been captured.

In this scenario, the ISI need only be cynical enough to believe that the announcement will be made during the DNC--which is, given Pakistani politics, only reasonably cynical. They would, in this case, be gaming their media contacts to win increased influence with the TNRs and Josh Marshalls of the world. That's just what intelligence agents do--game people based on secret information, in order to manipulate them.

I'd lay money that proposition 5 is the true one, and we've got someone big that we haven't admitted to yet because we're still benefitting from interrogating them. We'll see, in the fullness of time.

Our Josh Marshall really ought to learn this part by heart: clandestine service officers game people. He's been getting it hard for the last several months, and he doesn't even see it. I'm sure these guys are really sympathetic when they leak him "secret" information. 'You have such a vivid voice,' I reckon they tell him. 'I wish I could write like you, and get the truth out about this administration. You see through all the mist. Here, this can help you...'

And Josh, who wants nothing more than to believe that he's smarter than you, prints it. I hate to be the one to tell you, son, but these people lie for a living. I'm sorry to break your heart, but you're not in the secret club. This is just what they do. What you probably really do believe is the Secret Truth is just a tale told to move your heart, whereby you are used to advance their careers, fight their little bureaucrat wars, and advance their political interests.

Stories you wish were true

Stories You Wish Were True:

The Russian newswires are reporting, I am told, that Zarqawi has been arrested by US and Iraqi forces. I haven't heard any confirmation of this from any non-Russian source, and I rather doubt it simply because I can't imagine why the Russians would know. Probably it isn't true -- but we can wish, and even hope.

UPDATE: The report is now online. Unhappily, there is also a denial.

Dispatches�From Fallujah - On an�April day, 30 Iraqi lives, one brave Marine�and another's hands, and another's legs�were lost. By Owen�West


Even among Marines, there are legends. Recon is one of them.

Grim's Hall

Pistols in the Barroom, Ponies in the Rain:

Just got back from the range. Now, I have a confession to make about that to my fellow Knights of St. John Moses: I haven't been to a range in way too long. I spent the last year resident in Maryland, where shooting sports are quasi legal and tightly regulated, and to participate in them you have to register your guns with the state (like hell, says I). As a consequence, it's been over a year since I've shot.

However, now that I am happily resident out Virginia way, that's going to change. A gun shop down the highway has a range out back, and so long as you buy your targets and ammo there, you can shoot for free as often as you like, 0900 to 1700 daily. They keep a range safety officer on duty, and my experience today was that he was highly competent. It is, in other words, a cheap, pleasant, safe place to shoot.

I'm going to make it a habit to get down there at least once a week, for at least a box of ammo, until I'm shooting back at the level I used to aspire to in my tactical match days. After that, I'll be making a monthly trip at least.

All that said -- have a gander:

This group came from my brand new .357 Magnum. I shot six rounds to get the feel of the thing, then shot these six on a standard 75-foot range. Smith & Wesson makes fine weapons: the very first round out of the box went through the center ring. For this group, the first round was the one in the center, and then they began to pull up. You can see I adjusted fire down for the sixth round. Still, first one in the white, while the other five in this group stayed in the black. Kim du Toit was talking about how a .357 Magnum with a four-inch barrel is hard to control in sustained fire, and he's right:

Very few people can control a 4"-barreled .357 Mag revolver properly (unless the barrel is ported), especially when it comes to getting off the second shot quickly. I would never consider a .357 Mag with anything less than 6" -- size does matter, in this case. But a Ruger .357 revolver is an excellent choice.
Still, I hope you all noticed the irony that, just a few inches later, Kim advocated the S&W "Mountain Gun" in .44 Remington Magnum with a 4" barrel. I have one of those too, and it's a bear. Still my favorite piece to hike around with.

I may take his advice and get the barrel ported, just for speed on the second tap. I certainly will want a trigger job. Still -- for a guy who hasn't shot in a year, using a brand new gun in a challenging caliber, I think I did OK. Always did love a Smith & Wesson.

PS: If the title of this post means nothing to you, it's a line from a song by Cowboy Nation, one of the few good things besides Hollywood Marines to come out of California.


Shirley Temple Awards:

I was doing some reading over at BlackFive today, when I came across a disused category called "The Shirley Temple Drink Awards":

Blackfive says, "Hey, Jackass, let me buy you a drink!" - A Shirley Temple!...

Michael Moore - Big lying scumbag who wins an Academy Award for a documentary that contains moslty fabricated material (Nuclear Missles in Columbine, buying a weapon over the counter, etc. ad nauseum). This guy might possibly do more to harm America than any traitor we have ever had.

It happens that I am a regular purchaser of Shirely Temples (with extra cherries)... for dear Sovay, who drinks little else. In any event, I'd like to lobby B-5 to resume this neglected category. If anyone else would care to join my petition, feel free to drop into the comment section any nominees. Remember the Hall comment policy, though, adopted from the Texas Mercury:
As we see it, modern society has all the important ideas of life exactly backwards: we are completely against the belief in sensitivity and tolerance in politics and raffish disregard in private life. The Texas Mercury is founded on the opposite principles- our idea is of tolerance and polite sensitivity in private life and ruthless truth in politics. Be nice to your neighbor. Be hell to his ideas.
Buying people drinks is nice, right?

Liberty Dad - a World Without Dictators

A Useful Fantasy:

Liberty Dad has written a very good speech for President Bush. It is on the topic of Darfur in the Sudan, but by way of that, it's about another topic even more important: the use of force by a democracy.

Marine Corps News> Marine battalion defeats attackers in Ar Ramadi again


Marine Corps News> Iraqi soldiers' sacrifice in Marine zone saves lives of 250

Brethren in Arms:

Does it matter that they are Iraqis? Only to the good, I think.

The Australian: Secrets of a terror turncoat [July 17, 2004]

Speaking of Which:

As for the chances of turning terrorists, The Australian has an interview for you to read.

UK forms special unit to fight Al Qaeda

Intel Reform:

The British are ahead of us, as usual.

A new special forces regiment is being formed in Britain to effectively tackle terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, a report said today.

The Reconnaissance and Surveillance Regiment will work closely with the Special Air Service (SAS) and the Special Boat Service. Its mission will be to penetrate groups, either directly or by "turning" terrorists into double agents....

It will be given the authority to operate around the world, working closely with friendly intelligence agencies such as the US intelligence agency CIA and Israel's Mossad, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

lgf: lost and found

Daily KOS:

Charles at LGF wants to remind us just who Zuniga of the Daily KOS is, and what he's done. Charles is interested, because the DNC has given Zuniga credentials at its convention.

I haven't forgotten. Nor shall I soon.

InstaPundit & the 9/11 Commission:

The Sage reports that the 9/11 commission has been repeating the words of bloggers.

We are facing, the report notes, a loose confederation of people who believe in a perverted stream of Islam that stretches from Ibn Taimaya to Sayyid Qutb.... We also need to mount our own ideological counteroffensive.
He's right.
Well, as to that: Here's mine, current as of 25 March 2003. It speaks to Qutb, but also to Socrates, Alcuin, Ingeld and Christ. I'll stand by it, a year and more on. Who else has something?