The Last Chance Saloon

So in the comments to a post occasioned by one of Janet's comments back in February, an anonymous commenter asked me if I'd been to the Last Chance Saloon outside Walhalla, South Carolina. I said that I knew the place but didn't have time to stop when I saw it on a ride. Today I made a trip down through the gorge country that divides North and South Carolina, so on the way back I stopped in.

It is formally a member's only establishment, but that's only a formality; they let us sign in and served us as guests without any issue. It's a great place to drink cheap beer or pretty much any other kind of drink you might want, shoot pool, and like the Bobarosa Saloon in Tennessee, you can camp or rent a cabin if you want to stay over. 

I can see why you might if you didn't live up here, as it's on a great road in amongst quite a bit of good riding country. SC 28 goes south to Walhalla where it picks up SC 11, a good road for riding below the mountains and looking up at them until you decide to try the ascent; or  you can take SC 28 north to Highlands, NC, or to Cashiers, NC if you take the split at SC 107. This would be a good place to base a weekend of exploring the region on the back of a bike.

Parking for bikes along the front as well as the side.

Walhalla's museums house many Confederate relics, so it's no surprise to find the local biker bar flying the Rebel flag. Note, however, that it is in the subordinate position to the American flag, as is usual among those who fly it for reasons of heritage.

I liked the poker-themed lamp, but the picture didn't come out well. Lots of inked-up dollar bills stapled from the ceiling and other places, as is common in the best dive bars. The TV was playing Turner Classic Movies, which seemed to be doing a film noir weekend.

A very reasonable selection of drinks are available. 


The Cult of State

David Wurmser, Senior Analyst for Middle East Affairs at the Center for Security Policy, asks and answers a question about our government's about-face.
How did the United States turn 180-degrees from supporting Israel in the first days of the war to where it functions now as a shield for Hamas, from understanding its paradigm had collapsed along with the parallel reigning paradigms in Israel – “they now get it” or as the Israelis say, “the token dropped” – to seeing the United States appearing to double down on policies that seem to emanate from those failed paradigms.... First, let me set aside ideology and the particular way in which this administration reacted to the collapse of paradigms – it just doubled down in its imagery. It saw October 7 confirming the imperative of establishing a Palestinian State under the PLO and the necessity of reaching a strategic condominium with Iran to stabilize the region[.]

If you read the whole article, you'll find that he doesn't actually believe that the Biden administration ever supported Israel, and in fact that they saw the greatest threat from the beginning as Israel actually crushing its enemies (or, as State likes to call them, "partners for peace"). The bureaucracy just carried on doing what it could to undermine Israel until the President finally caught up with them. 

What I want to focus on, though, is this 'doubling down' in the face of clear evidence that the earlier belief was false. A "Two State Solution" was never viable, but it was pursued lovingly for decades by State Department diplomats and Democratic politicians. October 7 should have been the moment 'the token dropped,' and everyone realized that there was just no peace to be had with a politics like the Palestinians' embrace of Hamas or the PLO. However, that's not how human brains work.

Have you ever noticed that when you present people with facts that are contrary to their deepest held beliefs they always change their minds? Me neither. In fact, people seem to double down on their beliefs in the teeth of overwhelming evidence against them. The reason is related to the worldview perceived to be under threat by the conflicting data.

Both of those articles draw their examples from a left-leaning perspective, but the point is well understood. It's not just cultists who return to their belief in the coming spaceship or apocalypse in the face of clear evidence that their initial prediction was wrong. It's a cognitive bias that afflicts most people, maybe all of us.

In the grip of such an irrational, though perfectly normal, impulse to reaffirm a worldview proven false, it is no surprise that irrational decisions are made. Here is a partial list of the ones being made right now. I would add to that list the fact that they claim to be concerned about innocent suffering, but they are denying Israel precision weapons that would limit innocent suffering. Israel has plenty of dumb bombs they can drop if we won't sell them the smart ones. If you want a really ugly war, like the one we just had in Syria, reduce their ability to be discriminate. The Israelis are not going to stop fighting just because they have to use less precise weapons, not against an enemy that could do an October 7, not against one that has promised to keep doing it over and over if they can. This is a betrayal of the Israelis, but also of the noncombatants under fire in a war they can't escape.

Some are talking about how this is an impeachable offense, since Trump was impeached for a lesser version of the same thing. It's not, though; Trump was impeached for being Trump, and not a member of the establishment in good standing. There's no way Congress will hold Joe Biden to the same standard, especially since it's what State really wants him to do. The establishment will back this most establishment of ideas, irrational and destructive though it is. That's the real standard, membership in the club, which you obtain in large part by fidelity to the club's ideas and values especially when those ideas and values are disproven by the facts of the world. That's how you show your real loyalty. Anybody can do things that work; you're proving that you'll do stupid stuff that emphatically and repeatedly fails in pursuit of these things. 

If any of them read this, which they won't, it wouldn't matter at all. They'd just come up with another story about why they were right after all, and this was the only way.

Still The King

"No disrespect to Bob Wills, who used to own this place, but to me, Waylon Jennings is still the king." 
-Charley Crockett

I wouldn't make a competition out of it. Either way le roi est mort, vive le roi. It's nice to see one of Waylon's classic guitars back in service, though, even if for just one night. 

They put it on over their hat just the same way.


The storms that swept the South last night had us out clearing fallen trees until 4:30 AM. One dropped on my truck, busting the passenger side headlight assembly, rear view mirror on that side, and damaging the quarter panel. Oddly it didn’t hurt the hood that I can tell; somehow in the hard wind it struck sideways. 

I’m luckier than my neighbor, who woke up to a tree on his house as well as two of his vehicles. All of us escaped injuries, though, which is the main thing. 

We All Need Some Silliness in Our Lives

 Kid's better than me.

Another crooked cop, busted.


The Swiss Army Knife will soon be available without a knife.
“In some markets," Carl Elsener, the fourth-generation CEO of Victorinox explained, "the blade creates an image of a weapon." 
Anyone who has ever owned a Swiss Army Knife -- I've had one since I was 12, and joined the Boy Scouts -- knows that it is not in any way a weapon. It's below three inches in length and the blade doesn't lock. It doesn't even look like a weapon, it looks like the simple tool that it is.

Knives are one of the most useful tools ever invented, which is why literally every human society has always invented it. Some people are so scared of weapons that they want to eliminate things that don't even look like weapons but might be imagined to look like weapons, even though they're not functional as weapons.

Firefighters and Cancer

Via Instapundit, a small part of a big problem.
By federal law, the interior of these vehicles are required to contain flame retardants, or chemicals that make it harder for them to combust in a crash.

These chemicals have been a legally mandated part of modern cars since the 1970s, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) passed a law requiring their use.

It’s arguable how effective this protection is. 

Patrick Morrison, of the International Association of Firefighters, said in a statement on the study that these chemicals do little to prevent blazes — but instead simply make them “smokier and more toxic.” 
If you are burning a hydrocarbon, which includes wood as well as fossil fuels, what you're doing is oxidizing a chemical made of of hydrogen (H) and carbon (C). Since you're combining that with oxygen (O), the main -- almost the sole -- byproducts of combustion are going to be water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2). If combustion is not complete, you'll also get carbon monoxide (CO), which unlike the other two is toxic because it blocks your blood's absorption of oxygen by combining with the hemoglobin instead of oxygen (O2). 

All these additional chemicals get into the smoke and cause a cancer risk, as well as other risks. Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN) is especially deadly because it bonds to your hemoglobin even more effectively than CO, meaning that you can go home feeling a little woozy and die in your sleep. It'll look like you over-exerted yourself at the fire and had a heart attack, but what really happened was that progressive oxygen starvation killed you by causing organ failure. This is why anyone who dies within 24 hours of fighting a fire is considered to have died in the line of duty by law, to make sure families aren't denied compensation just because the firefighter went home apparently safe and sound.

Cancer is a longer-term problem, and one we're learning more and more about. Getting some of these chemicals out of our homes and cars is an important start on addressing the issue.

Man or Bear?

Apparently there's a thing going on around the internet right now in which women are asked if they'd rather encounter a strange man or a bear out in the woods. Women are often choosing the bear, and some people don't like that. 

I have three things to say about that.

1) I heard one woman ask how men felt about the same question. I have to tell you, meeting a bear on a hike in the woods is 100% of the time the high point of the hike. I love to see a bear. If I see sign of a bear, I'll often stalk it in the hope of seeing the bear. Black bear or grizzly, seeing a free bear in the wild is awesome. Seeing another hiker, by contrast, kind of diminishes the experience of being alone in the woods. I prefer to avoid that.

2) It’s a plausible answer to prefer the bear if you're worried about being subject to violence. Many of us who’ve spent part of our lives learning to kill weren’t doing it out of concerns about bears. We were always thinking of the danger of other men. 

3) That said, social media in especial seems to have inflated people's idea of how risky life is. There's almost no murder in most of America. You can be excused for not knowing that if you watch or read the news, because they try to sell you on murder. But mostly America is very safe.

Men suffer from violent crime at higher rates than women across the board, just as they commit suicide at higher rates and die younger. For some reason social media wants to make women afraid, and definitely doesn't want them to take the obvious pragmatic step to deal with dangerous men. That would help against bears, too, if you're careful in your selection of arms and ammunition. (I like a double-action revolver in .45 Colt or .45LC/.454Casull, or alternatively .44 Remington Magnum/.44 Special. Well, I actually prefer a single-action, but that's not for amateurs.) 

So on points 1 & 2, I agree; but I would add the caution of point 3. There's some reason they want to make you afraid and drive us apart, and I'd be more cautious about that than even of a strange man in a forest -- especially if you've purveyed for that matter in the sensible and obvious manner.

A Kind Word for DOT

I heard a song tonight with unprintable lyrics -- but a trucker song, so I'll link it with a stern language warning for those of you even a little bit sensitive about such things -- that was very hostile to the Department of Transportation. I think mostly people are, remembering punitive regulations and endless, slow construction. I had a good experience with them this weekend, though, so in the spirit of fairness I wanted to point it out.

We got a call on Sunday about a tree down on a mountain road up here, within two minutes of another call for a medical emergency. I went to clear the tree, as my ability to lift and move heavy objects is greater than my ability to help people in medical necessity. We have several EMTs and a couple of paramedics on our crew, but I am not among them. Lifting and carrying I can do OK.

The tree was across one lane, and it had brought down several other entangled trees such that the lane was blocked vertically as well as horizontally. I did what I could with a Stihl chainsaw, dragging the stuff I could cut out of the way, when thankfully DOT showed up as well. They had a pole saw and what is locally called a "trackhoe," meaning any sort of excavator -- a smaller, towed one in this case.

As a result we were able to transition to traffic control while they used the excavator to pull the high branches down low, where the pole-saw could trim them out of the way. In less than an hour, the thing was cleared from the highway and we could all go on our way.

So, you know, they're not all bad. Spare a thought for the highway crews that keep the way clear, however awful the bureaucrats are. 


Any of you who participated in the recent wars know that the basic unit of the US Army is the Brigade Combat Team (BCT), which the Army adopted based on the success of the USMC's smaller Regimental Combat Teams (RCT). Though they had historic relationships both higher and lower, to divisions or battalions, the BCT was the basic maneuver unit. It might be 3/3 ID (3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division) but it could deploy without the 3rd Infantry Division headquarters and work with any division HQ that happened to be in place. Battalions might have historic resonance as well -- many regiments only include one battalion, and the Army now even explains regiments (falsely) as just a historic term for Ranger and armor units. More famous regiments, like the 505th of the 82nd Airborne, include more that one battalion. 

Wretchard points to this article from the Army Times that suggests that the wheel is turning again.
But, as the U.S. shifted its focus toward adversaries such as China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, the Army had to examine its role, and how it would fit into the new strategy. The Army sees its role as providing major ground combat power for large-scale combat operations. To do that, they’ll have to fight with divisions and corps — which range from 12,000 to 45,000 soldiers, respectively. Those formations’ headquarters units will orchestrate the battle, striking deep with long-range fires, attack aircraft and hooking into joint capabilities from the Air Force, Navy and Marines.

The last time the service fought with a division was in the 2003 Iraq invasion. Before that, the last major combat operation of that scale was in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War.

The Army, at least, is expecting more and bigger wars in the years to come. I keep seeing similar worrying signs from our European allies. They all seem to think that there's a big war coming, and that we'd best be preparing for it. 

Send You Back to Georgia

Heaven forfend. 

I’m happier in the high mountains than in the state where I was born because my father had descended out of them seeking work. All the same, there are parts of Georgia I wouldn’t mind seeing again — at least from October through March. 


I don’t want to spend my time blogging about Trump, but it’s really important to say something about this level of corruption. If we don’t, who will?
Cannon unsealed a trove of new documents in the case that also revealed that an FBI agent had testified that the General Services Administration (GSA) was in possession of Trump's boxes in Virginia before ordering Trump's team to come get them. The same boxes that the GSA had been holding and ordered Trump’s team to retrieve ended up being the boxes that contained classified markings, raising questions about whether the Biden administration had set up Trump.

"So an entire pallet full of boxes that had been held by GSA somewhere outside of DC is dumped at Mar-a-Lago," independent journalist Julie Kelly noted. "Apparently these are the boxes that ended up containing papers with 'classified markings.'"

Its like the J6 cases. Republicans like law and order as a rule. They’d have let those people go down without complaint, if only the prosecution had been evenhanded and applied the ordinary law. Instead, we’ve seen novel theories of law applied to them at the same time that administration-friendly protesters have been let to walk free. 

So the FBI maybe seeded the residence with classified documents, then leaked its raid to the press, to whom it announced having found classified documents. Trial was scheduled for the height of the Presidential election campaign season. One of several. 

Don’t think we don’t see what you’re doing with the rule of law. Do fear the consequences of convincing ordinary people that the laws are corrupt. 

Irony in the Court

I was reading this bit on the fact that the judge in the Trump 'hush money' case worked for the DNC before this trial, and donated money to Biden, and that his daughter is now raising money for Biden, and I suddenly realized a significant irony at work. 

This trial is based on a very novel legal theory, as Reason magazine points out. Even heavily excerpted, it takes a long explanation to convey what they think constitutes the felony here.
Contrary to Colangelo's spin, there is nothing "pure and simple" about Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's case against Trump. To begin with, Trump is not charged with "conspiracy" or "election fraud." He is charged with violating a New York law against "falsifying business records" with "intent to defraud."...  Ordinarily, falsifying business records is a misdemeanor. But it becomes a felony when the defendant's "intent to defraud includes an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof." Bragg says Trump had such an intent, which is why the 34 counts are charged as felonies.

Bragg had long been cagey about exactly what crime Trump allegedly tried to conceal. But during a sidebar discussion last week, Colangelo said "the primary crime that we have alleged is New York State Election Law Section 17-152." That provision says "any two or more persons who conspire to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means and which conspiracy is acted upon by one or more of the parties thereto, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor."

In other words, Bragg is relying on this misdemeanor to transform another misdemeanor (falsifying business records) into a felony. But the only "unlawful means" that he has identified is Cohen's payment to Daniels.... [and] Trump was never prosecuted for soliciting that contribution. There are good reasons for that. The question of whether this arrangement violated federal election law hinges on whether the hush money is properly viewed as a campaign expense or a personal expense.... proving that allegation beyond a reasonable doubt would have been hard, as illustrated by the unsuccessful 2012 prosecution of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.... Given the fuzziness of that distinction, it is plausible that Trump did not think the payment to Daniels was illegal.... 

The fact that Bragg is relying on an obscure offense that apparently has never been prosecuted speaks volumes about his eagerness to convert the Daniels hush payment into 34 felonies. That strategy will prove "twisty," Connor said, because "you're having an underlying crime within an underlying crime to get to that felony."

If Trump did not recognize the hush payment as "unlawful," it is hard to see how his "intent" in falsifying business records could have included an intent to conceal "another crime." And that's assuming a purported violation of federal campaign finance restrictions counts as "unlawful means" under Section 17-152.
So the issue is that there's a twisty path by which one alleged misdemeanor could have led to another alleged misdemeanor, assuming mens rea can be proven for both, which allows one to aggravate the other into a felony. The felony is that there's an conspiracy to "promote or prevent the election of any person." 

The gag order in this case, however, is plainly an undisclosed campaign contribution to Biden, by a judge who has also made disclosed campaign contributions to Biden and who is a long-time DNC affiliate. Gagging Trump during the campaign is an undisclosed in-kind contribution, and part of a rather open conspiracy to "promote" Biden's election and "prevent" Trump's. 

In other words, while it is difficult to say whether Trump is guilty of the offense he is charged with, or even if it's a plausible thing to charge someone with given the circumstances, it's abundantly clear that the judge in the case is guilty of the very thing he's being asked to judge. It is the case he is judging that is itself the vehicle for his own apparent offense against the very law he is adjudicating. 

How ironic. 

The Fall Guy

I took my wife to dinner and then to see The Fall Guy in the theater last night. I don't often go to the movies anymore, but this one came up with a trailer that convinced me that it would reward being seen on the big screen. 

Ironically but cleverly, most of that footage didn't make the final cut of the movie, including the song overlay, so you don't really feel like they put all the best parts in the trailer. The trailer is another good part.

Now I also thought I'd like this movie because I remember the old television show it was based upon. That show was made at a time when Hollywood stunts were still all real, and it was an ode to stuntmen and their work as much as anything else. This movie is like that too. It celebrates stuntmen publicly and visibly, and rather pointedly notes in the movie that there is no Academy Award for stuntwork. As such, it's exactly the kind of celebration of the labor of the unknown hard working man (and woman) that I like to see. 

Speaking of the old TV show, there are several points in the film that pay homage to it. The two stars, Lee Majors and Heather Thomas, have a prominent cameo at the end. They have what looks like the original truck to drive around in scenes set in California, and new-model trucks done up to look like it in the Australia scenes. As the ending credits roll (the cameo scene actually follows them), they play a slightly-altered version of the original TV theme song.

The major alteration is that they removed the names of the actors mentioned in the original, of whom only Clint Eastwood would still be known to younger audiences today. Rather than substitute new actors and actresses, they wrote substitute lyrics that would be timeless in character. 

The plot is not groundbreaking, and if you can't see the plot twists coming you haven't been watching movies long. Still, it's nice to see Hollywood produce a workmanlike product in the old style while celebrating the hard work of the people who take the hard hits to make it all look so fine. Oh, and as you might expect, the stunts are really good.