Bowie update

Bowie Update:

It was suggested tonight that I ought to test the blade before heading out with it. It's always a good idea to test your kit.

I set up an old paperback atop a stool, and gave it a good stab. With no trouble at all, it sank through about two hundred pages of pulp, and deep enough into the stool that I could firmly lift the thing off the floor -- and hold it suspended -- without loosening the blade.

That'll do.

UPDATE: If you're looking for a good Bowie yourself, let me recommend my favorite custom smith's latest blade.



Get some, Ma'am.

The Sack of Beziers

The Sack of Beziers:

From the Martin Best Consort's A Medieval Banquet, "Music from the Age of Chivalry."

Beziers has fallen!
They're dead.
Clerks, women, children:
No quarter.

They killed Christians too.
I rode out,
I couldn't see nor hear a living creature.
I saw Simon de Montefort.
His beard glistened in the sun.

They killed seven thousand people!
Seven thousand souls who sought sanctuary
In St. Madeline's.
The steps of the altar were wet with blood.
The church echoed with their cries.

Afterwards, they slaughtered the monks
who tolled the bell.
The used the silver cross
As a block
On which to behead them.


We have life to resist!
Don't you feel it?
Let's sing for our futures!
All our futures!
This is followed by "Rassa, Tan Creis." The piece was composed by Guiraut Riquier, a troubadour of the first water. Yet that is half the story: the poem that is not included, for which the music was written, was by Bertran de Born, not only a troubadour poet but a baron and knight of France.



Whose job is it to make sure a potential President is on the level? We've talked briefly about the Berg lawsuit, and how it is likely to be dismissed on standing grounds -- yes, you're an American citizen who has a Kenyan birth certificate for Obama, and yes he has not produced a birth certificate in Hawaii; but forgeries are common in Africa, Hawaii says it's good enough, and anyway you're just some guy. What right do you have to challenge him in court to produce the documents?

Well, actually, that's a very good question. It turns out that there is no one with the duty to require that a given candidate for President prove he meets the Constitutional requirements. These can both be met by a birth certificate, but oddly there just isn't a national office in charge of demanding that certificate. If you want a job as an FBI agent, you'll need to produce your birth certificate, any college transcripts, and a huge host of financial and personal documents to prove you are entitled to the TOP SECRET clearance associated with the position; but there is no similar requirement for elected office. Congressmen get a SECRET clearance just because they are elected; and the President gets everything, whether or not he could qualify for such a clearance through the normal channels. (Sen. McCain could, and probably has held one in his decades-long military career; Gov. Palin actually has. Sen. Obama could not possibly qualify for a security clearance according to this article, which accords with my own experience.)

Yet we don't insist on security clerances for elected officials, and for a very good reason: that would be giving the bureaucracy a greater power than the Constitution imagines for it. If the FBI or the DOD has the power to define who is allowed to run for an office, they and not the People are the real decision makers about who will lead this nation's Executive branch. Yet they are meant to be subordinate to the Executive appointed by the People, not the commanders.

So whose job is it? Ours, the People: but, as we began with, a given PERSON doesn't have standing to challenge a candidate in court.

That's unsustainable. If you have the duty, you must also have the powers and tools to pursue that duty. Yet this isn't the only power we lack: we lack resources, and many of us don't have the investigative background.

As a work-around, we have normally conceeded this duty to the media.

How is that working out this time?

Obama has released just one brief document detailing his personal health. McCain, on the other hands, released what he said was his complete medical file totaling more than 1500 pages. After criticism on the matter, last week the Obama campaign also released some routine lab-test results and electrocardiograms for Obama. All test results appeared normal, but many details about his health remain a mystery.

Obama has refused to offer his official papers as a state legislator in Illinois, and has been unable to produce correspondence, such as letters from lobbyists and other correspondence from his days in the Illinois state senate. There are also no appointment calendars available of his official activities. “It could have been thrown out,” Obama said while on the campaign trail during the Democratic primary. “I haven’t been in the state Senate now for quite some time.”

Obama has not released his client list as an attorney or his billing records. Obama has maintained that he only performed a few hours of legal work for a nonprofit organization with ties to Tony Rezko, the Chicago businessman convicted of fraud in June. But he has not released billing records that would prove this assertion.

Obama won’t release his college records from Occidental College where he studied for two years before transferring to Columbia.

Obama’s campaign refuses to give Columbia University, where he earned an undergraduate degree in political science, permission to release his transcripts. Such transcripts would list the courses Obama took, and his grades. President George W. Bush, and presidential contenders Al Gore and John Kerry, all released their college transcripts. (McCain has refused to release his Naval Academy transcript.)

Obama’s college dissertation has simply disappeared from Columbia Universities archives. In July, in response to a flurry of requests to review Obama’s senior thesis at the Ivy League school, reportedly titled “Soviet Nuclear Disarmament,” Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt told NBC News “We do not have a copy of the course paper you requested and neither does Columbia University.”

The senator has not agreed to the release of his application to the Illinois state bar, which would clear up intermittent allegations that his application to the bar may have been inaccurate.

Jim Geraghty of the National Review has written extensively about Obama’s unwillingness to release records related to clients he represented while he was an attorney with the Chicago law firm of Davis, Miner, Barnhill, and Gallard. Obama was required to list his clients during his years in the Illinois senate. “Obama listed every client of the firm,” Geraghty reported, making it impossible to discern which clients he represented.

Obama has never released records from his time at Harvard Law School.

Obama also has not disclosed the names of small donors giving $200 or less to his campaign. An exception to the finance-reporting laws exempts the campaign from reporting those who donate less than $200, but that law never envisioned the more than $300 million that has been raised by Obama in small amounts. The Republican National Committee has released its small donors, as well as McCain’s, on a public database.
This guy has a bit to say on the subject. The market has a little bit more to say about it.

Yet it remains an unanswered question. Who has the right? Who has the duty? Who has the tools?

UPDATE: I see tonight that the Berg lawsuit was dismissed, as expected, on the grounds that he doesn't have the standing to demand Obama's records. OK: but who does?

The answer may not be "Any citizen." Yet, by the same token, neither can it be "Nobody."
Norm, over at Normblog, has this quiz about books, which I'm going to answer. Anybody else is free to join in.

What was the last book you bought?
The Culture of War, by Martin van Creveld.
Name a book you have read more than once.
Guadacanal, by Richard Frank.
Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?
That's a good one. And yes. The Enchiridion, by Epictetus.
How do you choose a book? e.g., by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews.
Usually by Title and summary, occasionally by reviews. Very seldom by recommendation.
Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
Always non-fiction.
What's more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot?
Most loved/memorable character.
I honestly can't think of one. Really. Oh wait. Ebenezer Scrooge. He's memorable.
Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?
Let's see:
On Hunting by Xenophon
Escapism by Yi-Fu Tuan
Sexual Culture in Ancient Greece by Daniel Garrison
The Boy Mechanic by the Editors of Popular Mechanics
The Tale of the Genji by Murasaki Shikibu
Beautiful Evidence by Edward Tufte
The Flintlock: Its Origin, Development, and Use by Torsten Lenk
The Chinese on the Art of Painting by Osvald Siren
The Ancient World at War edited by Philip de Souza
The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden
Syarcuse 415-413 BC: Destruction of the Athenian Imperial Fleet by Nic Fields
(I really have to get that stack down....)
What was the last book you've read, and when was it?
Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious by Gerd Gigerenzer
Have you ever given up on a book half way in?
Earlier than that. I think I got through maybe the first chapter of Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy before tossing it out.

Well, that was interesting.
Why Sarah Palin gets hated:

She's Sexy.

MEN RULE. This is the "scandal" that let the dogs out. For weeks I've been wrapping my head in wet towels trying to noodle out the reason lefty (and some righty) women hate Palin so very much. Why she seems to unhinge them to such an astonishing degree. The flap over her $150,000 wardrobe budget just cut though all the crap to the truth of it. They hate her because she's sexy.

It really is that simple. It's not that she's managed to have a career, including being elected Governor of Alaska. It's not that she's given birth to five children without wanting an abortion. It's not that she espousestraditional conservative values like pistol-grop shotguns. It's not that she's become a vice presidential candidate without a degree in womanitude from Radcliffe, Smith, Barnard, or Wellesley. It's that she won a beauty contest long ago and could still win one today. It's that in spite of an accent that makes her sound like Herb's wife on WKRP in Cincinnati, she's a 44 year old mother of five who still has it, whatever it is. She's every insecure career woman's nightmare. She has it all -- success, family, a long-term marriage, happiness -- and she's still hotter than Britney Spears for a huge percentage of men in America. That's why they HATE her so very very VERY much.

There's actually alot more to read at Instapunk. Just keep scrolling.
The Angry Pharmacist.

Go and read him and be afraid. Very afraid.


A Confession:

One of my favorite episodes in all television history is this one:

"Good evening and welcome back to FYI. Recent events have convinced me of the need to address my much publicized 'Wild Night.' Let me say first that I am from the Old School: when silence was golden, mum was the word, and those with skeletons kept them in the closet, where they belong.

"But those days are over. Thus, I present you the truth about my twisted, abnormal life....

"I am as normal as I can possibly be. Judging by today's tell all books, that makes me our nation's number one pervert. In a world without stability, I remain the same solid citizen I always was. And, since no one else will say it, good for me.

"I come from a functional family. I had a perfectly delightful childhood. I loved my mother, adored my father, and good for me.

"Here's something freakish: I have been married to the same woman for 34 years. You know how many women I have made love to in my life? One! And good for me."

Watch to the end, if you want to know how such lives are rewarded.

A kind word

A Kind Word for Sen. Obama:

The Wall Street Journal is unduly harsh in calling his tax plans "nonsense."

Now we know: 95% of Americans will get a "tax cut" under Barack Obama after all. Those on the receiving end of a check will include the estimated 44% of Americans who will owe no federal income taxes under his plan.

In most parts of America, getting money back on taxes you haven't paid sounds a lot like welfare. Ah, say the Obama people, you forget: Even those who pay no income taxes pay payroll taxes for Social Security. Under the Obama plan, they say, these Americans would get an income tax credit up to $500 based on what they are paying into Social Security.

Just two little questions: If people are going to get a tax refund based on what they pay into Social Security, then we're not really talking about income tax relief, are we? And if what we're really talking about is payroll tax relief, doesn't that mean billions of dollars in lost revenue for a Social Security trust fund that is already badly underfinanced?
I think the truth is not that he's talking nonsense. I think he's just saying things he doesn't mean. I don't think we'll see, if he were elected, anything but a repeat in 2009 of 1993:
I had hoped to invest in your future by creating jobs, expanding education, reforming health care, and reducing the debt [deficit] without asking more of you. And I’ve worked harder than I’ve ever worked in my life to meet that goal. But I can’t because...
C'mon. We all know the truth. There's no reason to go through with this charade every year.


Jackson and Junior:

Once upon a time, in the early days of color television, a man down South decided to try out the medium. So he got a few friends and made a show, but when he tried to sell it nobody up in New York wanted to buy it.

Now, out of the warehouse, a very early appearance by Johnny Cash and June Carter -- and the first TV appearance of Junior Samples.

Johnny Cash needs no introduction, but some may not now remember Junior Samples. Junior Samples was from Forsyth County Georgia, which is where I grew up. One day my father, who was with the volunteer Fire Department, was at a training fire. This is where they take an old property likely to be a hazard and burn it up, both to dispose of it and to practice firefighting techniques. My father was out by the road when a pickup truck pulled up. There was Junior Samples, who leaned out of the truck and told the firemen, "I hate to tell you boys this, but that place burned two years ago."

He was a very nice guy by all accounts.

Here's a much older Johnny Cash, singing about his horse:

You may wonder: can a horse have green eyes? Yes, but it's very rare. There's only one kind of horse that does, and "the color of the sun" is a good description.

John McCain 68-23

McCain Ahead 68%-23%:

Among the US military, according to the Military Times poll. Figuring that the undecicdeds and so forth break very strongly for Obama, that's easily a 7-3 split.

McCain leads 76%-17% among white servicemembers.
McCain leads 63%-23% among Hispanic servicemembers.

Active Duty break for McCain 67% to 24%.
Retirees break for McCain 72% to 20%.

Servicemen for McCain, 70-22%.
Servicewomen for McCain, 53%-36%.

There was one demographic that went 80%-20% for Sen. Obama, for reasons that we'll respect and can fully understand. Neverthless, that result was a clear outlier compared to the remainder of those polled.

Putting Your Minds At Ease:

Our good friend Doc Russia recently wrote me with a very kind offer: to lend me a good Bowie knife for the trip out East.

Now, Doc's about the greatest guy in the world, so I want you to know I took his offer as a true kindness. In case any of you are wondering, however, I am well provided on this particular score. There are many things I may not have enough of, and surely I am not a rich man, but a good Bowie knife I can at least claim.

I'm planning on taking this one in my kit:

It was made by a local Cherokee knifemaker named Jim Whitefeather, 82 years old. He didn't forge it -- it was cut from an old sawmill blade. Those were made of the finest steel that anyone knew how to make in the 19th century, and it is steel that has aged well. It is full tang, strong yet light. Indeed, it is both lighter weight and faster than a Kabar-style combat knife, but with similar strength.

I trust that Mr. Whitefeather will forgive me for altering the design somewhat. I prefer my Bowies to have a fully sharp backstrap, whereas he gave the backside of the clip point a flat surface. I spent a little time with a grinding wheel, followed by a medium and then a fine Arkansas whetstone, and now it suits me perfectly.

So be of good cheer. I know my art, and I am well equipped. Thank you all, though, for thinking of me.

Fair Warning

Fair Warning:

Kim du Toit starts a series I look forward to reading through:

So you want to get involved in Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS), but you don’t really want to spend a lot of money on it until you’re sure you’ll like it.

Silly rabbit.

CAS is, after home improvement, the easiest way to empty your bank account.

There are two reasons why this is true. One, you’re going to love it; and two, you’re going to get sucked into the “authenticity” thing. It’s impossible not to. I know a guy who bought a handmade twin-holster buscadero gunbelt which was almost as valuable as the two sixguns it carried—and we haven’t even started looking at accoutrements like clothing.

And here’s the simple reason why everyone who starts this eventually gets hooked: it is the greatest fun you can have without being arrested.
It sure sounds like it.

Some Links

Glass Jaw:

Deafening Silence has a manifesto for those remaining behind to fight for America, no matter who wins the election.

My love for this country does not depend on who runs the show. I wouldn't call it 'love' if it did.

Mr. President, I am a product of this nation. I was born here. It has fed my bones and blood. It's most sacred documents tell me that I am required to watch over it, to participate in it, to give it my eternal vigilance.

That is the bargain I was offered in exchange for my citizenship. And I have accepted it.

This nation also feeds the aspirations of thousands who adopt it as their home each year, newcomers who accept the bargain and know that the United State will exist in the bones and blood of their family as well.

I suppose there are some things you could do to drive me out, but they would have to be pretty extreme- things like credible threats to my life and my family. So far, you don't strike me as the type.
Would an Obama victory represent a credible threat to your life? Indirectly, yes... at least, if you listen to Joe Biden.
“Mark my words,” the Democratic vice presidential nominee warned at the second of his two Seattle fundraisers Sunday. “It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”

“I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate,” Biden said to Emerald City supporters, mentioning the Middle East and Russia as possibilities. “And he’s gonna need help. And the kind of help he’s gonna need is, he’s gonna need you - not financially to help him - we’re gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it’s not gonna be apparent initially, it’s not gonna be apparent that we’re right."
Sen. Biden raises an excellent point, and it's something I have thought about while preparing to deploy. An Obama victory is likely to result in a new wave of violence in Iraq, as Iranian-backed radicals and Qaeda militants test him. They will think, "Here is a guy who has always wanted to think this war was a mistake and that it couldn't be won. He'll take a bunch of new attacks as proof he was right all along, and the Surge was an illusion. He's got a glass jaw." They'll want to see if they can break it.

That may not be a reason to vote against Sen. Obama if you agree with him on policy, but Sen. Biden is absolutely right that it's something to expect. If Sen. Obama wins the Presidency, all Americans will need to be ready both to show support for the government against foreign aggressors -- but also to hold President Obama's feet to the fire, and not let him back off in Iraq or elsewhere.

That way lies disaster. Joe Biden is right in his diagnosis and proposed treatment.

Of course, the polls are tightening, so it may not be a problem. (Also from Hot Air: do you know that Gov. Palin now meets with the press at length on a near-daily basis, but Obama hasn't taken questions from the traveling press corps since September? How about that "cone of silence"?)


The Oklahoma Resolution:

Now you're playing my song:

The resolution's language, in part, reads: "Whereas, the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows: 'The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.'; and Whereas, the Tenth Amendment defines the total scope of federal power as being that specifically granted by the Constitution of the United States and no more; and whereas, the scope of power defined by the Tenth Amendment means that the federal government was created by the states specifically to be an agent of the states; and Whereas, today, in 2008, the states are demonstrably treated as agents of the federal government. … Now, therefore, be it resolved by the House of Representatives and the Senate of the 2nd session of the 51st Oklahoma Legislature: that the State of Oklahoma hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States. That this serve as Notice and Demand to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers."

H/t: Kat at the Castle.

Profile in Courage

Profile in Courage:

Joseph Epstein calls fire on his own position:

One might think that liberal women would have some admiration for Governor Palin's appearing to have solved the working mother problem that bedevils most contemporary American women. She is very feminine yet doesn't regard herself as a victim, and seems to be entirely at ease with men. Here is a woman raising five children who is able not only to have an active hand in the life of her community but actually win the highest political office in her state. As the governor of Alaska, moreover, she took on the corrupt elements in her own party, which requires courage of a kind liberated women especially, one would think, might admire....

The daughter of a dear friend of mine used to say of her mother, "I sense her rage." Of course when the daughter said this, my friend's rage would only increase. Suggesting that liberal women feel rage over Sarah Palin is, similarly, likely only to enrage them all the more. But rage in their reaction to Governor Palin is emphatically what I do sense on the part of liberal women--that and delight in any attempt to humiliate her. (Tina Fey, take a bow, and, hey, let's watch that Katie Couric YouTube interview one more time!) I wonder if the women who loathe Sarah Palin with such intensity oughtn't perhaps to reexamine the source of their strongly illiberal feelings.
He's right, of course. On both counts.




[W]hat does Obama do with the extra money? A three-to-one ad ratio in a given state is worth about a point in the polls. But that’s in states with at least a decent baseline of Republican advertising. What’s it worth in states where McCain can’t advertise at all, like North Dakota or Georgia? 3 or 4 points? Does Obama move into states at the fringes of the target map to 1) heighten the sense of panic in the GOP? and 2) go for 400 EVs? Can he legally bail out the committees to go for 270 in the House and 60 in the Senate?

Either way, this is going to be the political equivalent of Sherman’s March.
Well, I'm seeing a huge number of signs this year. Haven't seen an Obama sign yet. I did see an Obama bumper sticker down in Atlanta, but only one so far.

Yeah, I still don't expect to see Obama win Georgia. Every dollar spent here is a dollar wasted.

Grim on Colin

The Powell Endorsement:

Once, I took a man's word about some bioweapon labs. Thanks for your opinion, General.