Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year's Eve!

It's been a great year, y'all. Enjoy the last day of the year in style, and get ready for 2015!

Plenty of football today and tomorrow. My prediction is that Alabama and Oregon meet in the title game, with Alabama winning it all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

We're Almost There!

Birds got to sing, bees got to buzz, Christmas lights got to tangle

Alright, y'all. It's the last day of the workweek for me. I've sent all my demand letters out, done my final real estate closing for the year, and tallied up the billable hours. There may be one or two more litigation e-mails, but I'm pretty much done here at the ol' law practice for the year. All in all, it's been a good year.

Judging by the gifts I've received from other lawyers and co-workers, everyone thinks I need alcohol and ammunition. (Y'all are totally right.)

If you're a regular reader, thanks for stopping by my little corner of the internet. We here at Permanent Press know that when you browse the internet, you have options. So thanks for making us a part of your day. If you've been here just a time or two, try to come back more often. And please always feel free to comment!

I'm going to put it on cruise control the rest of the way, but we'll continue to have some content all through the holidays.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Gear for Guys: Bow Tie Edition

Christmas is this week! Many of you, like me, are still working hard this week. However, despite working hard, you can still have some Christmas Cheer.

Here's the tie I am wearing today, courtesy of Bird Dog Bay. The material is the perfect thickness for a tie. It ties easily, yet isn't too floppy, so it maintains a nice crisp bow.

Mine is a shotgun shell print. Their line of ties would make a great gift for any well-dressed man in your life. Bird Dog Bay has the Permanent Press™ seal of approval.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Fog of War

In the second volume of his history of the Civil War, Foote described the fog of war through an episcopal clergyman in New York described the many reports that came in about the Battle of Chancellorsville:
"It would seem that Hooker has beaten Lee and that Lee has beaten Hooker, that we have taken Fredericksburg, and that the rebels have taken it also, that we have 4,500 prisoners, and the rebels 5,400, that Hooker has cutoff Lee's retreat, and Lee has cutoff Sedgewick's retreat, and Sedgewick has cutoff everybody's retreat generally, but has retreated himself, although his retreat was cutoff.

In short, all is utter confusion. Everything seems to be everywhere, and everybody all over, and there is no giving it any truth."
Thus, the second attempt to capture Fredericksburg ended in a Federal defeat, albeit a dearly bought one.

Friday, December 19, 2014

No More Politics for Awhile

You leftists are killing me.

I'm taking a break from politics for awhile. We'll be going with some bourbon, shooting, BBQ, and clothing items here at Permanent Press Mission Control for the foreseeable future. Maybe some legal stuff...maybe.

Enjoy your day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Obama to Normalize Relations with Cuba

Although I'm normally opposed to most of the stupid stuff he does, I'm not really against this.

The Cuba thing is a Cold War relic. I think we're all over it. It's like two people who get in an argument and stop talking to each other. After awhile, they start to forget what they were even mad about, and just go along with the "Not Talking To You" thing because no one wants to admit they can't remember why they originally got mad at each other.

I get that we didn't want Cuba to become a wealthy satellite of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In that context, the embargo made sense, but after 1991 that ceased to be a concern.

We have relations with other communist regimes (Hello China!) and other thuggish regimes who we actually consider friends (Hello Saudi Arabia!). So don't give me the argument that we can't have normal relations with Cuba because they're a repressive or communist state.

Actually, I think we'd have more influence on getting them to stop with the whole Communist thing if we engage in some trade and travel. Let Levi Strauss, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Goldman Sachs, and Koch industries go down there. They'll all be capitalists in no time.

Having said that, Cuba wants us to normalize relations. It's a bigger "get" for them that it is a "give" for us. Accordingly, as Rod Blagojevich so eloquently stated: "I’ve got this thing and it’s f----ing golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for f---in’ nothing."

Basically, we should get something in return for granting them status.

However, Obama once again fails to negotiate. He's just doing this thing and giving them something for nothing. Whether he's refusing to negotiate for whatever reason in many contexts, the man just absolutely baffles me in his failure to understand negotiations.

Happy Birthday to My Wonderful Wife!

I am happy to announce that today is Mrs. Permanent Press' birthday! She is a wonderful wife and mother to our children, and I've been lucky enough to be able to keep her around for more than ten years of marriage.

Because she is more gracious than most people, she has seen fit to overlook my many flaws. I am thankful for everyday that we are together, and I am proud to wish her a hearty Happy Birthday!

Here's looking at you, kid.

Monday, December 15, 2014

I'll Shoot You Tomorrow

A quote from the passage I just read in Shelby Foote's second volume on the recent unpleasantness.
The ground in front of the sunken road, formerly carpeted blue, had taken on a mottled hue, with patches of startling white. Binoculars disclosed the cause. Many of the Federal dead had been stripped stark naked by shivering Confederates, who had crept out in the darkness to scavenge the warm clothes from the bodies of men who needed them no longer... No one assigned to one of the burial details ever forgot the horror of what he saw; for here, up-close and life-size, was an effective antidote to the long-range, miniature pageantry of Saturday's battle as it had been viewed from the opposing heights.

Up close, you heard the groans and smelled the blood... Not even amid such scenes as this, however, did the irrepressible rebel soldier's wry sense of honour desert him. One, about to remove a shoe from what he though was a Federal corpse, was surprised to see the 'corpse' lift its head and look at him reproachfully. "Beg pardon sir," the would-be scavenger said, carefully lowering the leg; "I thought you have gone above." Another butternut scarecrow, reprimanded by a Union officer for violating the terms of the truce by picking up a fine Belgian rifle that had been dropped between the lines, looked his critic up and down, pausing for a long stare at the polished boots the officer was wearing. "Never mind," he said dryly. "I'll shoot you tomorrow and git them boots."
This is Foote's description of the aftermath of Fredericksburg.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Senate Report On the CIA Reminds Me of A Movie

There's been a lot of debate about the use of the CIA's interrogation techniques, in the wake of the Senate Intelligence Committee's Report. It's been a chance for everyone to re-litigate the entire issue of whether we tortured detainees, and there's been some good debate on this.

It's certainly an open question, and anyone who conclusively comes down either way without acknowledging the other side may have a point is not a grown-up. This debate about torture is a debate about where you draw the line on what can and what cannot be done to captured combatants in war. Reasonable minds can disagree.

However, what really upsets me about this report has nothing to do with the issue of torture. What I find completely revolting about this report is the the fact that the main findings of the committee are essentially that the CIA didn't tell them about all this, and they are shocked, shocked to find out that gambling is going on in Rick's. But that's not the movie reference I thought of.

Essentially, this report is some Senators trying to avoid the fact that they asked the CIA to do whatever it took to avoid another 9/11. Do you remember how America was after 9/11? I do. 

Everyone was looking at the smoking rubble of the twin towers, a crater in Pennsylvania, and a hole in the side of the Pentagon and saying: We cannot let this happen again. You guys in the CIA need to take the gloves off and make sure this doesn't happen again. Keep the country safe. Stop playing nice - go after these people. Do everything you can.

People who weren't openly saying this were silently happy to go along with those who were. Not a single representative of the people rose up to say Well, wait. Maybe we don't need to change how we deal with the bad guys just because they did something bad to us.

Accordingly, the CIA started turning up the heat - as they were asked to do. They didn't do this on their own accord. We the people, through our elected representatives, asked them to do this. The Senate Intelligence Committee was briefed on exactly what the CIA was doing. And now, they're trying to say: Hey, I didn't intend for you to be mean to those poor souls! I wanted you to do everything possible to keep us safe while being perfect gentlemen! I have no culpability for these things that you did!

I know. Politicians evading their responsibility seems so farfetched. In any event, this whole thing reminded me of the end of Clear and Present Danger. In the movie, the President gets very upset when a Columbian drug cartel kills a personal friend of his who was laundering money for them (and stealing a little bit for himself). Therefore, the President tells his Chief of Staff to get the CIA to start really going after the drug cartel. The CIA basically does what it is told and starts really hurting the cartel - killing people and breaking things.

Eventually, the President decides he's had enough of the operation, simply says it should go away like "It never happened", and hangs all the men out to dry, who are then killed by the cartel. Ryan is neck deep in the whole thing and eventually goes to confront the President. Here's the scene:

The President tries to tell Ryan that he is "just becoming aware" of the certain things that happened, and that he "never ordered any" strike against the cartel. Ryan, having no patience for the cutesy little game of plausible deniability, tells the President: I will not have you dishonor their memories by pretending you had nothing to do with it.

That's the note that the Senate Report strikes for me. They're trying to pretend that they had nothing to do with the CIA's methods, when it's crystal clear that they asked the CIA to take the gloves off. Specifically, the WaPo had an editorial pointing this out:
On May 26, 2002, Feinstein was quoted in the New York Times saying that the attacks of 9/11 were a real awakening and that it would no longer be “business as usual.” The attacks, she said, let us know “that the threat is profound” and “that we have to do some things that historically we have not wanted to do to protect ourselves.”
This report is a purely political document, and its intent is to allow the authors to engage in some moral preening. They're simply engaging in a political act to curry favor with their constituents now that the existential threat from terrorism is a distant memory, and the people who swallow this report are doing the same thing.

I accept that we did some brutal things to people. We the people, asked the CIA to do exactly that. Maybe we made a decision in a moment of weakness that some of us regret. That's fine. However, it's just a damn lie for the Committee to say that they didn't know what was going on.

They all knew and approved. We The People all knew and approved. If you feel regret for what happened, that's fine. If you're ok with what we did, that's fine, too. But for goodness sake, take some responsibility for your actions.

Charcoal Is My Ally

I'm grilling some pork loins at the office today don't really need a reason to grill some meat for lunch on a Friday. Did I mention that my office has a charcoal grill? It does.

How's your Friday going?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

BREAKING: Lying Politicians Lie

The Democratic Senate Report on CIA's methods is just politicians lying about what they knew, what they authorized, and what everyone wanted in the aftermath of 9/11.

CIA didn't conduct this program on some kind of wild notion - they didn't just make this up because they were bored.

CIA did this at the specific request of the American people's elected representatives in Congress and the White House. The Department of Justice was kept in the loop on the program and issued legal opinions on it. Congress was repeatedly briefed. CIA did all this...because we asked them to.

It makes me sick.

Pardon me, but these politicians are lying sacks of shit. CIA does difficult stuff. The easy stuff gets handed off to other agencies. We asked CIA officers to do things, and now we're throwing them under the bus? Well, good luck getting CIA officers to go do anything remotely controversial in defense of the country in the future.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Revolutionary War Hero Isn't Welcome in Washington, DC

Francis Marion and the famous "sweet potato incident"
One of the members of the Columbia Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution has been working for years to get a monument of Francis Marion placed in our nation's capital. After going through a long process which included getting the SC Congressional delegation (all of them) to support a law that would authorize the National Parks System to plan for the statue, the President signed the law in 2008 to go forward with the project.

Fittingly enough, there's a small park in DC that is already named "Marion Park" in honor of the man. It also happens to be located along South Carolina Avenue.  Sounds great, right? Accordingly, the NPS thought that putting the monument there would be logical. What could go wrong?

Well, some people don't like the idea of putting a monument of Francis Marion up in Marion Park.

Because of racism, obviously.
A South Carolina plantation owner and slaveholder, Marion fought against the Cherokee Indians during the French and Indian War. In the Revolutionary War, he used the guerrilla warfare tactics he learned from the Cherokee against the British, earning him the nickname “Swamp Fox.”

“They say Francis Marion is a hero, but who is he a hero to?” says Lawrence Smith, 70, who lives about a block from the park. “The first Americans, who he helped wipe out? I bet they don’t feel that he’s a hero. The African-Americans who were kidnapped and brought here in bondage, do they see him as a hero?”

The proposed placement of the Marion memorial is particularly insensitive, says Capitol Hill resident Peter Glick, 53, since the statue would sit in the shadow of the Progress For Christ Baptist Church, which was built by freed African slaves right after the Civil War.

“The people who lived in this area and who went to this church no doubt escaped from people like Francis Marion,” Glick says.
Hey, here's a fun little game. Let's see what happens if we replace Marion (the evil slaveholder) with someone else.

"A South Carolina Virginia plantation owner and slaveholder, Marion Washington fought against the Indians during the French and Indian war."

Yes, this George Washington fellow fought in the Revolutionary War, but he was a plantation owner and slaveholder. Wait, I've just been informed that Thomas Jefferson, the man who drafted the Declaration of Independence, was also a plantation owner and slaveholder as well. Gee, I guess it's a good thing that neither of those two jokers have any monuments in the vicinity.

The sad thing is that Francis Marion fought side-by-side with blacks, whites, friendly Indians, free and slave. It was probably the first integrated fighting force in North America. That's a historical fact. Oh, you didn't know that? Here, let me Google that for you.

But I guess some people like Peter Glick and Lawrence Smith would rather just wallow in their own shallow understanding of history.

Tomasky Encourages Democrats to Abandon the South

I guess he's a little bitter about the fact that Southern states have rejected the Democratic party so resoundingly in the recent elections, so he's going with the old: You can't fire me; I quit! routine.
And that is what Louisiana, and almost the entire South, has become. The victims of the particular form of euthanasia it enforces with such glee are tolerance, compassion, civic decency, trans-racial community, the crucial secular values on which this country was founded… I could keep this list going. But I think you get the idea. Practically the whole region has rejected nearly everything that’s good about this country and has become just one big nuclear waste site of choleric, and extremely racialized, resentment.
Well that's just genuis, Tomasky. Just take about one-quarter of the entire country and insult it. That's really the best way to win friends and influence people. Remember. liberals love tolerance and diversity, unless your diversity happens to be diversity of thought - they won't tolerate that.
At the congressional level, and from there on down, the Democrats should just forget about the place. They should make no effort, except under extraordinary circumstances, to field competitive candidates. The national committees shouldn’t spend a red cent down there. This means every Senate seat will be Republican, and 80 percent of the House seats will be, too. The Democrats will retain their hold on the majority-black districts, and they’ll occasionally be competitive in a small number of other districts in cities and college towns. But they’re not going win Southern seats (I include here with some sadness my native West Virginia, which was not a Southern state when I was growing up but culturally is one now). And they shouldn’t try.
Oh, we can't fire you because you quit? Well that's really mature of y'all.

Instead of encouraging the Democratic party to look in the mirror and re-evaluate some of its positions, Tomasky has decided that the only lesson to learn from the recent electoral defeat is that us Southerners just aren't worth the time and effort. I guess we're just too darn backwards for the Democrats to spend any more time down here. Talk about sour grapes.

Whatever makes you feel better, I guess.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Happy Friday from Barry Jive and the Uptown Five

Have a good weekend, y'all.

Our National Strife

I have just made it through Vol. I of Shelby Foote's Civil War - A Narrative, and it's absolutely captivating. Foote is a remarkable storyteller. I've always enjoyed history because, to me, good history just reads like a story, and most of the time the truth is more dramatic than fiction. Towards the end of the first volume (which is just about the winter of 1862), a passage struck me. 

Foote recounts a speech that Lincoln delivers to Congress in 1862, just as it had become clear to him (and others) that the Civil War was not going to be easily or quickly won.
Our national strife springs not from our permanent part, not from the land we inhabit, not from our national homestead. Our strife pertains to ourselves, to the passing generations of men, and it can without convulsion, be hushed forever with the passing of one generation.
                                                                                -Lincoln's Second Annual Address

To me, the idea that our national problems can be solved with a new generation  has an optimistic sound. Essentially, we may have troubles now, but the future generations of Americans can solve them simply by coming into existence. I guess it's a faith in the moral arc of the universe. The flip side to that coin is that it only takes one generation to lose what we presently have.

I guess the both are true. Anyway, it seemed particularly relevant to all of the national strife that we seem to have today.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

South Carolina Charges White Police Officer With Murder for Shooting Unarmed Black Man

Bernard Bailey

Richard Combs
With the grand jury not indicting the officer in Ferguson, and now the grand jury not indicting the police officer in New York City, I thought this story was kind of...topical.

If you hadn't heard, here's the basic fact pattern:

Bernard Bailey had come to the town hall complain about his daughter receiving a ticket for a broken tail-light. At some point, Combs (the police chief) attempts to arrest Bailey for obstruction of justice. As Bailey leaves the town hall, Combs follows him and a struggle ensued near or in Bailey's vehicle. Combs then shot Bailey twice in the chest.

Combs was charged with murder yesterday. Obviously, this is a different fact pattern from what happened in Ferguson, and what happened in New York. However, you have the similarity of a white law enforcement officer's actions resulting in the death of an unarmed black man.

And only South Carolina is going forward with a case.

Just food for thought. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Stories from the Blackbird

The SR-71 "Blackbird"
The SR-71 Blackbird first flew in the 1960s. It's mission was essentially high altitude reconnaissance. It was built to fly high and fast. Really high and really fast. Like most of our military hardware from that era, it's now retired from the Air Force. However, the Blackbird still remains one of the baddest aircraft to ever slice through the skies at high speed.

How fast was it? For starters, it's primary way of defending against surface to air missiles was simply to outrun them. For a more humorous example of how fast the Blackbird was here's a great excerpt from the book Sled Driver illustrating it's speed compared to other aircraft:

There were a lot of things we couldn't do in an SR-71, but we were the fastest guys on the block and loved reminding our fellow aviators of this fact. People often asked us if, because of this fact, it was fun to fly the jet. Fun would not be the first word I would use to describe flying this plane. Intense, maybe. Even cerebral. But there was one day in our Sled experience when we would have to say that it was pure fun to be the fastest guys out there, at least for a moment.

It occurred when Walt and I were flying our final training sortie. We needed 100 hours in the jet to complete our training and attain Mission Ready status. Somewhere over Colorado we had passed the century mark. We had made the turn in Arizona and the jet was performing flawlessly. My gauges were wired in the front seat and we were starting to feel pretty good about ourselves, not only because we would soon be flying real missions but because we had gained a great deal of confidence in the plane in the past ten months. Ripping across the barren deserts 80,000 feet below us, I could already see the coast of California from the Arizona border. I was, finally, after many humbling months of simulators and study, ahead of the jet.

I was beginning to feel a bit sorry for Walter in the back seat. There he was, with no really good view of the incredible sights before us, tasked with monitoring four different radios. This was good practice for him for when we began flying real missions, when a priority transmission from headquarters could be vital. It had been difficult, too, for me to relinquish control of the radios, as during my entire flying career I had controlled my own transmissions. But it was part of the division of duties in this plane and I had adjusted to it. I still insisted on talking on the radio while we were on the ground, however. Walt was so good at many things, but he couldn't match my expertise at sounding smooth on the radios, a skill that had been honed sharply with years in fighter squadrons where the slightest radio miscue was grounds for beheading. He understood that and allowed me that luxury.

Just to get a sense of what Walt had to contend with, I pulled the radio toggle switches and monitored the frequencies along with him. The predominant radio chatter was from Los Angeles Center, far below us, controlling daily traffic in their sector. While they had us on their scope (albeit briefly), we were in uncontrolled airspace and normally would not talk to them unless we needed to descend into their airspace.

We listened as the shaky voice of a lone Cessna pilot asked Center for a readout of his ground speed. Center replied: "November Charlie 175, I'm showing you at ninety knots on the ground."

Now the thing to understand about Center controllers, was that whether they were talking to a rookie pilot in a Cessna, or to Air Force One, they always spoke in the exact same, calm, deep, professional, tone that made one feel important. I referred to it as the " Houston Center voice." I have always felt that after years of seeing documentaries on this country's space program and listening to the calm and distinct voice of the Houston controllers, that all other controllers since then wanted to sound like that, and that they basically did. And it didn't matter what sector of the country we would be flying in, it always seemed like the same guy was talking. Over the years that tone of voice had become somewhat of a comforting sound to pilots everywhere. Conversely, over the years, pilots always wanted to ensure that, when transmitting, they sounded like Chuck Yeager, or at least like John Wayne. Better to die than sound bad on the radios.

Just moments after the Cessna's inquiry, a Twin Beech piped up on frequency, in a rather superior tone, asking for his ground speed. "I have you at one hundred and twenty-five knots of ground speed." Boy, I thought, the Beechcraft really must think he is dazzling his Cessna brethren. Then out of the blue, a navy F-18 pilot out of NAS Lemoore came up on frequency. You knew right away it was a Navy jock because he sounded very cool on the radios. "Center, Dusty 52 ground speed check". Before Center could reply, I'm thinking to myself, hey, Dusty 52 has a ground speed indicator in that million-dollar cockpit, so why is he asking Center for a readout? Then I got it, ol' Dusty here is making sure that every bug smasher from Mount Whitney to the Mojave knows what true speed is. He's the fastest dude in the valley today, and he just wants everyone to know how much fun he is having in his new Hornet. And the reply, always with that same, calm, voice, with more distinct alliteration than emotion: "Dusty 52, Center, we have you at 620 on the ground."

And I thought to myself, is this a ripe situation, or what? As my hand instinctively reached for the mic button, I had to remind myself that Walt was in control of the radios. Still, I thought, it must be done - in mere seconds we'll be out of the sector and the opportunity will be lost. That Hornet must die, and die now. I thought about all of our Sim training and how important it was that we developed well as a crew and knew that to jump in on the radios now would destroy the integrity of all that we had worked toward becoming. I was torn.

Somewhere, 13 miles above Arizona, there was a pilot screaming inside his space helmet. Then, I heard it. The click of the mic button from the back seat. That was the very moment that I knew Walter and I had become a crew. Very professionally, and with no emotion, Walter spoke: "Los Angeles Center, Aspen 20, can you give us a ground speed check?" There was no hesitation, and the replay came as if was an everyday request. "Aspen 20, I show you at one thousand eight hundred and forty-two knots, across the ground."

I think it was the forty-two knots that I liked the best, so accurate and proud was Center to deliver that information without hesitation, and you just knew he was smiling. But the precise point at which I knew that Walt and I were going to be really good friends for a long time was when he keyed the mic once again to say, in his most fighter-pilot-like voice: "Ah, Center, much thanks, we're showing closer to nineteen hundred on the money."

For a moment Walter was a god. And we finally heard a little crack in the armor of the Houston Center voice, when L.A.came back with, "Roger that Aspen, Your equipment is probably more accurate than ours. You boys have a good one."

It all had lasted for just moments, but in that short, memorable sprint across the southwest, the Navy had been flamed, all mortal airplanes on freq were forced to bow before the King of Speed, and more importantly, Walter and I had crossed the threshold of being a crew. A fine day's work. We never heard another transmission on that frequency all the way to the coast.

For just one day, it truly was fun being the fastest guys out there.
These guys definitely had the right stuff.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sloppy Drinking Dogs May Be Smarter Than You Think

Everyone knows that when they put a water bowl down for their dog, the result always involves a giant mess of water everywhere. Accordingly, the conventional wisdom is that dogs are sloppy and clumsy drinkers.

Well, some folks have researched dogs' drinking, and our canine friends might be smarter than you think.
There were key differences between cat and dog strategies. The dogs extended more of their tongues to whack the water with a much wider surface area, then used their tongues to pull the water upward into a column at a blazing rate — hitting an acceleration of roughly five to eight times that of gravity when changing direction from downward to upward. That’s much faster than cats move their tongues, Jung said. And while cats barely flick the water, dogs use a wide cross-section of tongue to plunge into the liquid.

But dogs and cats, it turns out, time one key movement in the same way: Just before the column of water is about to collapse, they close their mouths around the airborne liquid, maximizing their water intake.

“Dogs use a very smart (mechanism) to optimize their drinking,” Jung said
So maybe we should cut our dogs a little slack for the mess.

[via Ace's ONT]