Our best ally in the Pacific, a place I personally love and where I have done a lot of business, has since WW2 sheltered under the American defensive envelope. But now it appears Japan may be rethinking that idea; rearmament is now being discussed. Excerpt:
The notion that the best defense is a good offense is gaining traction among Japanese decision-makers. On Aug. 4, newly appointed Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Tokyo would begin considering whether to allow its military to carry out pre-emptive strikes against overseas targets. Such a move would be a substantial reinterpretation of Japan’s post-World War II defense policy, which has generally abided by constitutional stipulations limiting the use of force to self-defense. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe quickly walked this back, saying he had no plans to consider the issue. Japan’s 2017 Defense White Paper, released the following day, made no mention of such a policy shift. But Abe did note that escalating threats from China and North Korea have made Japanese defense guidelines effectively obsolete — a sentiment echoed in the white paper.
Despite Abe’s dismissal of the issue, there’s enough smoke around pre-emptive strikes to suggest that Tokyo is taking the possibility seriously. In March, a research commission (of which Onodera was a member) set up by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party called for Japan to arm itself with long-range weapons to address the growing threat from North Korea. In May, following a visit to the Pentagon, Onodera said Washington had given Tokyo tacit approval to do so. Shortly thereafter, several reports alleged that Abe’s government was in discussions to buy Tomahawk cruise missiles from the U.S., potentially giving Japan the capability to pre-emptively disrupt a North Korean missile launch.
Japan has a fundamental desire and ability to project power and to give its military freer rein to operate abroad. A push for the Tomahawks would show how the emerging crisis on the Korean Peninsula is creating a sense of urgency in Tokyo to do so. But at the same time, Abe’s apparent unease with saying so publicly underscores the stiff domestic political currents that will, at least for now, keep Japan’s drive for a modern military from moving too fast.
Post-war treaties have discouraged Japan from re-arming before now – and, in truth, even now. But missile launches in Japan’s direction by the insane little gargoyle with bad hair in North Korea has a lot of folks in the Japanese government very nervous, which is a big part of their motivation for rearming.
Here’s where the plan may run awry, though: Japan isn’t the same nation it was in 1941. The Japanese people don’t look at things the same was as the Japanese people of 1941 did. Japan is today a pretty pacific society, a comfortable, wealthy, modern Western-style nation with an aging population and little appetite for things military. As the linked article points out: In the Japanese context, even if Tokyo can expand its offensive capabilities without Article 9 reform, public uneasiness with remilitarization is likely to suppress defense spending — currently at roughly 1 percent of GDP annually — and hinder Japan’s ability to lay the groundwork needed to act decisively in a crisis.
One percent of GDP is a pittance for a defense budget. But my experience with Japan is that most of the common folk there have little enthusiasm for raising that to any higher level of spending. But will they maintain that attitude if tensions with the Norks increase? If a Nork missile “accidentally” lands in Japanese territorial waters – or in a Japanese coastal village in Kyushu?
Were those (unlikely, but still) things to happen, we may well see a preference cascade take hold in Japan. The nation once had a strong, proud martial heritage; it’s not impossible to conclude that they may find that within themselves again.
If you’ve been paying attention at all, this will come as no surprise: The U.S. now has 3.5 million more registered voters than eligible voters. Excerpt:
American democracy has a problem — a voting problem. According to a new study of U.S. Census data, America has more registered voters than actual live voters. It’s a troubling fact that puts our nation’s future in peril.
The data come from Judicial Watch’s Election Integrity Project. The group looked at data from 2011 to 2015 produced by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, along with data from the federal Election Assistance Commission.
As reported by the National Review’s Deroy Murdock, who did some numbers-crunching of his own, “some 3.5 million more people are registered to vote in the U.S. than are alive among America’s adult citizens. Such staggering inaccuracy is an engraved invitation to voter fraud.”
Murdock counted Judicial Watch’s state-by-state tally and found that 462 U.S. counties had a registration rate exceeding 100% of all eligible voters. That’s 3.552 million people, who Murdock calls “ghost voters.” And how many people is that? There are 21 states that don’t have that many people.
Nor are these tiny, rural counties or places that don’t have the wherewithal to police their voter rolls.
California, for instance, has 11 counties with more registered voters than actual voters. Perhaps not surprisingly — it is deep-Blue State California, after all — 10 of those counties voted heavily for Hillary Clinton.
Los Angeles County, whose more than 10 million people make it the nation’s most populous county, had 12% more registered voters than live ones, some 707,475 votes. That’s a huge number of possible votes in an election.
Bear in mind that in cities like Chicago and, arguably, Los Angeles, this is a feature, not a bug. Those are cities tightly controlled by political machines, But that doesn’t make this any less of an electoral calamity.
How can we trust the outcomes of elections when the voter rolls are so obviously broken? How can we have electoral integrity when we don’t know who is voting?
There’s an easy and obvious answer to solve a good part of this, yes, electoral fraud, and that is a requirement to prove your identity before voting. Opponents of voter ID claim that some select groups, for some reason, cannot obtain IDs – but that’s specious horseshit. One cannot function in our modern society without some form of identification, and (let’s say this softly) if someone is so inept, so lacking in purpose, that they can’t even be buggered to obtain an ID…
…do we really want that person voting?
Now many places, our own Colorado among them, have voting by mail. We receive out ballots by mail, we can either return them by mail or drop them off in person at a polling collection box – Mrs. Animal and I favor that last option, rather than trust our ballots to the mails. In these places, well, why the hell can’t we do a biennial verification of the voter rolls? Is it really that hard, in this modern, connected society, to verify the state’s list of eligible voters?
Never mind, I’ll answer that. It isn’t. The only reason to argue against reforming our electoral rolls is that there are entrenched interests that wish the fraud to continue.
Let’s talk about gunbelts and holsters for outdoor work. No concealed-carry stuff here – let’s discuss rigs for carrying a heavy, powerful belt gun for serious work.
But before we do that, let’s talk about the gun.
While I favor my Glock 36 for everyday concealed carry, for outdoor work I like a big-bore wheelgun. When woods-bumming, I usually have either my S&W 25-5 or my Ruger Vaquero, both in .45 Colt. If I take it in my head to carry a semi-auto, it’s either the 1911 or the Glock 21, both (obviously) .45 ACPs. In the revolvers I like 8 grains of Unique behind a Lasercast 250-grain hard-cast flat point. That load will blow through a railroad tie and knock a big handful of splinters out the far side, and will easily lengthwise a big mulie or a cow elk.
For the .45 ACP I like the 200 grain Lasercast semi-wadcutter. Like most Glocks, my 21 will feed almost anything; the 1911 is a little fussier but will feed SWCs fine with a good magazine. I use Kimber magazines, and the 1911 will feed empty cases with those.
The gun belt and holster should be comfortable and solid. Choice of material is up to the shooter; some like nylon web belts and holsters, and there is certainly nothing wrong with such a rig; I’ve used many myself. But it’s hard to beat good leather. Heavy harness leather should be used in the belt, and good stout bullhide in the holster. A heavy leather rig will start out very stiff, but wear and the application of a softening oil, like neatsfoot oil, will soon make the rig softer and more wearable.
For my belt guns, I like the America’s Gun Store #110 Wyoming Drop belt with the #114 Cheyenne holster, which rig hangs the but of the gun at about wrist height when your arms are hanging naturally. I find this near perfect for being able to get the gun into action quickly; as long as you use the leg tie down to hold the holster in place, you can wipe off the holster’s hammer loop with the shooting hand’s thumb just as your fingers wrap around the grip. Train yourself to keep your finger off the trigger while drawing; cock the single-action or start the double-action pull after you have cleared leather and are already pushing the muzzle of the piece towards the target.
Lots of folks like the Threepersons holster as well, and the same statements apply.
If your stomping grounds tend to be wet and snowy/rainy, like the Pacific Northwest or Alaska, Great America’s also makes their very nice K #17 flap holster, which keeps weather off the gun but makes it take longer to bring the piece to bear.
Whichever rig you choose, keep it clean (saddle soap and water) and softened, and it will give many, many years of solid service.
Thanks as always to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!
The fuss in Charlottesville, VA is still cooling down – sort of. The media everywhere is still picking over this incident, trying to make some sense of the whole thing; of course, there isn’t too much to pick over. This was two groups of assholes, being assholes.
But while the legacy media wrings their hands, here is a pretty level-headed pieced of commentary. Excerpt:
After months of work and hype on social media, Unite the Right managed to get 200 marchers to show up in Charlottesville Friday. On Friday night they marched around with tiki torches and waved flags without incident. On Saturday a group of Antifa counter protesters showed up. The counter protesters proceeded to attack the Unite the Right Marchers and a riot broke out.
According the the Virginia ACLU, the Charlottesville police stood down and did nothing to control the situation. During this riot a supporter of the march, it is unclear if he is a member of any of the organizations there, slammed his car into a crowd of counter protesters killing one person and injuring 19 others. It is unclear if the driver had planned to do this to any counter protesters before the march or if he just took the riot as an excuse to do it.
Those are the facts as we know them currently. What they mean can be debated. Any debate about this subject should be based upon facts, not assumptions or hasty generalizations. What can we reasonably conclude from the known facts? Three things I think.
First, the white nationalist movement is still the same small, insignificant movement it always has been. Despite months of hype and work, the Unite the Right rally drew 200 people. The white nationalist KKK movement has been able to draw a couple hundred people at a national rally for my entire lifetime. So let’s stop with the nonsense about this being some significant rally or that the white nationalists are any more popular or emboldened today than they ever have been. They are not. It’s the same small group of morons that have always been there. The proof of that is in the numbers. If there had been 10,000 people at that rally, I might reconsider that. But there wasn’t.
Second, what played out yesterday in Charlottesville is just a repeat of what happened in Berkeley, Middleburg, NYU, and other places over the last year and a half. Some group Antifa finds objectionable has a speech or a rally. Then Antifa shows up and starts assaulting people and the police stand down, let them do it, and let the riot happen. That is exactly what happened yesterday. It should surprise no one that one of these riots has now resulted in someone’s death. The fact that the death was the result of the actions of the enemies of Antifa rather than Antifa itself, changes nothing. This was going to happen eventually.
Third, this is exactly what Antifa wanted. Their plan is always to attack their enemies hoping they fight back and then get blamed for the resulting violence. And time and again the police let them do it. Every time some self-righteous writer like David French gets up and talks about this being the result of the “alt right,” whatever that is, they are doing nothing but emboldening Antifa and encouraging this to happen more in the future.
Now, take a look at the bolded portions above – emphasis added by me. That seems to be the common thread of the various protests-turned-riots over the last year or so: The polices stand down and let the rioters riot. Charlottesville, Berkeley, Baltimore, Ferguson – it’s always that common thread, police giving the rioters “room to destroy.”
Let’s make no mistake about it – in Charlottesville, both sides of this conflict are beneath contempt. And at least at this point, it’s difficult to tell who cast the first stone, although we may well harbor suspicions – suspicions based on the experience of, say, Berkeley, where the fascists of the ironically-named “antifa” movements began the riots.
How long will it be before some ballsy Mayor revives the old tradition of a public reading of the riot act, followed by “now disperse, or you will be dispersed by force”?
I suspect it may be closer than we think.
Thanks again to Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!
If things blow up with a certain crazy little isolationist nation led by a certain insane little gargoyle with bad hair from a line of insane little gargoyles with bad hair, President Trump will be relying on the U.S. Air Force to help deal with the threat. In turn, the U.S. Air Force will be relying on the bomber fleet to deliver large amounts of ordnance, in order to fulfill the primary military mission of killing people and breaking things.
The problem is this: The bomber fleet may not be up to the task. Excerpt:
Less than half of the bombers President Donald Trump would rely upon to be “locked and loaded” against North Korea could launch today if needed, according to the latest Air Force figures available.
That’s not a surprise to the bomb squadrons who have seen firsthand the combined effects of aircraft age, the demand of 15 years of air war operations and reduced budgets. But the numbers can be stark. Of the nation’s 75 conventional and nuclear B-52s, only about 33 are ready to fly at any given time, according to Air Force statistics. Of the 62 conventional B-1s, only about 25 are ready. With the 20 nuclear B-2 stealth bombers, the number drops further. Seven or eight bombers are available, according to the Air Force.
“On a nominal basis you don’t have more than single digits of B-2s available to do anything,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula, currently the dean of the Mitchell Institute of Aerospace.
“If anything good comes out of the North Korea crisis,” it should be a wake-up call, he said.
“It’s not just the nation’s bomber force,” that is so stretched, Deptula said. “It’s the military writ large. The U.S. Air Force is the smallest and least ready it’s ever been in history – that should get people’s attention.”
“All three of our bomber fleets are capable of meeting their missions – they’ve always dealt with reduced bombers,” Lepper said. “Specifically with the B-2 fleet – we make decisions every day how to best utilize the aircraft … and meet the requirements that are there for us in that given day.”
In other words, we can’t allow even one to be lost.
One wonders how much the multi-billion dollar price tag for each high-tech aircraft (the B-2 Spirit runs about $2 billion) affects the numbers of aircraft we can field. The U.S. has moved towards expensive, high-tech aircraft almost exclusively, but in a limited conflict with a low-tech enemy, simpler, cheaper, easier-to-maintain airframes would seem to be in order – aircraft like the wonderful old A-10 Warthog of Cold War fame.
For that matter, a significant portion of our bomber fleet remains the old 1950s and 60s-vintage B-52s. If you want to deliver a massive load of bombs on a target, the BUFF will get the job done – as the Iraqi Republican Guard from 1991 will attest.
After all, Arclight means never having to say you’re sorry.
In the meantime, the Trump Administration talks a good game about increasing readiness and streamlining the military acquisition process. That’s a good idea, but they’d best get cracking. We aren’t in a major conflict at the moment, but our involvement in Middle Eastern brushfires are wearing down our forces. And as Von Clausewitz observed, only the dead have seen the end of war.
Want to know what one of the easiest guns to make in a basement workshop is? A submachine gun. That’s right. Excerpt:
In 1998, a British subject named P.A. Luty decided to illustrate the fallacy of complete civilian disarmament by building a weapon that lacked any of the registered parts of the firearm.
Recently, the YouTube channel “Forgotten Weapons” got a chance to take a look at the result, a submachine gun built entirely with parts that could be picked up at the hardware store.
Yet Luty proved his point.
Some might argue that Luty is responsible for a self-fulfilling prophecy, that the only reason he was right was because he dropped the plans in the criminal’s laps. Unfortunately, that would only be true of Luty’s designs were the only option. After all, hasn’t the “zip gun” been around for ages?
None of this takes into account the tooling existing in some backyard shops these days. Metal lathes, milling machines, and 3D printers all can be useful in building far more sophisticated firearms that Luty’s effective but almost prehistoric design.
In other words, guns are definitely here to stay. Try as the leftist gun control advocates might, they’ll never be able to get all of the weapons. Even if they did, though, guns would still be produced for illegal purposes.
In this scenario, of course, there’s also the problem of rounding up somewhere north of 300 million guns already in the hands of American citizens – the vast majority of them law-abiding. But let’s set that aside for the moment and consider the possibility of a complete confiscation of all guns – imagine someone had the ability to snap their fingers and poof every firearm out of existence.
How long do you think it would take for a robust black market to crop up? I’m guessing a matter of hours.
Now, consider the likely consequences of that. There’s a reason that 2nd Amendment advocates are fond of saying “if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” Two aspects of that would derive here; first, criminals would be armed not with crappy, cheap Hi-Points but with small, cheap, concealable submachine guns. Second, many law-abiding citizens would become non-law-abiding, as they seek their own bathtub-gin arms to make up for the sudden disadvantage.
Bear in mind that this could be a feature, not a bug; as Ayn Rand wrote in Atlas Shrugged:
“Did you really think we want those laws observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them to be broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against… We’re after power and we mean it… There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Reardon, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”
In either case, the end result would be a crime rate shot through the roof.
Everyone knows that rhinocerii aren’t doing too well these days. A big part of the reason for that is because massive ignoramuses in various parts of the world have the idea that powdered rhino horn has some medical value, or that it will result in “male enhancement.”
That has, of course, led to a huge black market in rhino horns. It’s illegal to raise rhinos for their horn; which that may solve part of the problem, there’s possibly a better solution.
Synthetic rhino horn. Excerpt:
Belief in rhino horns’ healing capabilities dates back to the second century B.C., as the powder was reported to reduce heat and remove toxins. Demand for horn products has greatly increased since 2008, and today rhino horn is more often valued as an exclusive status symbol.
Matthew Markus, CEO of the Seattle-based biotechnology company Pembient, sees this preference for rarity as an opportunity to reduce poaching. Over the past few years Pembient, along with other companies like CeratoTech and Rhinoceros Horn LLC, has started 3-D printing biologically similar artificial horns. This idea isn’t exclusive for rhinos either, as Pembient aspires to biofabricate pangolin scales, elephant tusks and tiger bones as well. At the University of Oxford one biologist is working on synthetic elephant ivory.
Currently, Pembient’s process involves engineering yeast cells to produce keratin, the predominant protein found in rhino horn, which is then combined with rhino DNA and trace elements. This aggregate makes up the “ink” for printing. So far, Pembient has only created low-fidelity miniature horns, but plans to have larger higher grade prototypes in less than two years. The horns aren’t commercially ready, but Pembient has already received interest from artisans, carvers and industrial designers.
Markus claims that introducing indistinguishable biofabricated horns at one-eighth of the price for real horn would lower wild rhino horn value. “At some point we would crash through the illicit profits that motivate people that go out there and risk their lives,” said Markus.
There are a couple of reasons this might not have the desired effect, though.
Flooding the market with synthetics allows the ignorant goofs that believe in the medical or “male enhancement” value of rhino horn, to continue believing this utter nonsense – and may increase demand in the short term.
- An eventual side effect may be that the wealthy and ignorant may demand proof of the authenticity of the rhino horn, which would drive the price of the real thing even higher.
There are other solutions; for a brief time, South African farmers could be licensed to raise rhinos and periodically harvest their horns. That produced a lower-priced, legal supply, and if deregulated, the practice could increase rhino numbers (captive, but still) but would perpetuate the stupid myths.
Or the nations of Africa could go back to an earlier practice.
Some years back I met a gentleman of Afrikaner descent, an engineer with a Jo’Burg pharmaceutical company whose brother still maintained the family farm in the bush somewhere out east of the city. He told me of an “understanding” the South African government had once had with the various safari companies, wherein the safari guides would shoot poachers on sight and nobody in the government would say too much about it.
Harsh? Yes. Effective? I bet it was.
Some stories just crack one up. This is one such: Immigrant Couple Buys Street To Charge Rich Californians To Park Outside Their Own Homes. Eh heh heh heh. Excerpt:
Tina Lam and Michael Cheng, first generation immigrants, found Presidio Terrace listed for only $994 dollars in an online auction. The city held the auction to pay off the $14 per year property tax on the street that the local homeowners association had neglected to pay for more than 30 years, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday. The couple wasn’t the only party to recognize the potential value of the street, however, and they paid more than $90,000 when the bidding was all said and done.
The homeowners claimed they only failed to pay the tax because the annual bill was being sent to an old address, the Sacramento Bee reported. However, the city was unsympathetic.
“Ninety-nine percent of property owners in San Francisco know what they need to do, and they pay their taxes on time — and they keep their mailing address up to date,” spokeswoman Amanda Fried said.
The street is a small oval bordering 35 properties prized by San Francisco’s most elite residents. Over the years, personalities like Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein have owned homes in the closed-off paradise, which has an entrance overseen by a full-time guard.
The only down side is that the (un)esteemed “public servants” Pelosi and Feinstein no longer live on this street. Imagine the opportunity there – all one would have to do is rent the parking space in front of the home of either Pelosi or Feinstein and boom! Instant protest.
And there would, theoretically, be little they could do about it – the protesters would, of course, be on private property, and they would have a lease establishing their right to be there.
Of course, there is no equal protection under the law where our Imperial “public servants” are concerned. Lease or no lease, anyone who tried this would quickly be seen off by the local gendarmes.
Still. It’s a fun thing to imagine.