Archive for September, 2009

Broken windows & broken cities

Posted in politcs, rankers, Uncategorized, War On Terror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 30, September 2009 by chockblock

The violence in Mexico has been on the upswing since the 1990’s. From horrific news reports to movies like Traffic, the war on drugs in Mexico is a real war. Sadly it’s been one of mostly casualties.

Desperate to resolve the situation, the President of Mexico and many in the US media, horrified at the violence, claim that up to 90% of the guns there come from the US. Some even claim that fully automatic rifles and machine guns (banned or heavly restricted in the US and banned outright in Mexico) come from the US. Not true.

The violence stems from the failure of Mexican institutions to function. The police and military are corrupt. Soldiers and cops desert their posts (taking their weapons with them). Many are on the take or owned outright by the cartels. A whole unit deserted to work for the cartels. Los Zetas was a special forces unit of the Mexican army paid for and trained by the US. They deserted and now are almost a cartel themselves.

The failure of government to enforce the little things makes the bigger crimes possible.

From City Journal comes this tale:

The Truth About Policing and Skid Row:
For 25 years, Skid Row constituted a real-world experiment in the application of homeless-advocate ideology. The squalor that engulfed the 50-block district just east of downtown Los Angeles was the direct outgrowth of advocates’ claims that the homeless should be exempt from the rules of ordinary society. The result was not a reign of peace and love among society’s underdogs, but rather brutal predation and depravity. Occupants of the filthy tents and lean-tos that covered every inch of sidewalk in the area pimped each other out and stole from, stabbed, and occasionally killed one another. Gangs and pushers from South Central and East Los Angeles operated with impunity under cover of the chaos that reigned on the streets.

The intrepid small wholesalers and warehouse owners who tried to keep the area’s once vigorous commercial trade alive removed feces, condoms, and hypodermic needles from the entrance to their properties every morning. Elderly residents of the local Single Room Occupancy hotels were imprisoned in their tiny apartments, terrified to go outside.

A hell on Earth created by social activists causes a spike in murders, drugs and other crime. A fatal shooting happened inside a “clinic” operated by some bleeding hearts. Lax rules and no police presence caused a double homicide.

In 2006, Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton announced a full-scale attack on Skid Row anarchy. His Safer City Initiative (SCI) would be a demonstration project, he said, for Broken Windows theory, which holds that tolerance for low-level forms of crime and disorder allows more serious crime to fester. When the police started enforcing jaywalking, public urination, and public camping laws, thousands of warrant absconders and violent parolees on the lam lost their refuge. Order gradually returned to the streets.


Skid Row’s radical social-service providers and public-housing advocates declared war on the Safer City Initiative. They directed a nonstop barrage of propaganda and lawsuits against the LAPD, claiming that its officers were abusing the poor on behalf of would-be gentrifiers. One of the most vocal critics was Casey Horan, executive director of Lamp Community and a highly public presence in Skid Row politics.


Given Horan’s long record of opposition to assertive policing, jaws dropped all over Skid Row on the morning of August 12, 2009, when the Los Angeles Times quoted Horan criticizing the LAPD for not fighting lawless behavior aggressively enough. Horan’s about-face came in a Times exposé of the reckless mismanagement at Lamp that had led to a double murder in April. Horan’s desperate effort to deflect responsibility for the violence in her own facility contradicted everything she had ever said against the Safer City Initiative and blew apart the advocates’ longstanding opposition to proactive policing.

At around 5 am on April 12 (Easter Sunday), a drug dealer and an associate were gunned down while watching TV in a Lamp residence.

And so the article continues.

Broken windows. Drug legalization and gun bans do nothing. Without the will or ability to enforce basic laws and rules, society breaks down. Criminals see a green light to step in. Like Skid Row, the poor sections of Mexico have no police presence, or the police are part of the problem. No functioning government, so criminals can operate in the open.

Now “War Is Boring”‘s Zach Rosenburg puts forth some solutions to the violence in Mexico.

South of the Border, Part Two:
2) Tighten restrictions on weapon purchases through new restrictions or better enforcement. Of course, the cartels can — and do — obtain weaponry elsewhere, but the quality, quantity, and ease of obtaining high-grade weaponry here makes the U.S. a natural arms market.* Denying them the opportunity to use American weapons may substantially raise the risk, and thereby the cost, of purchasing weapons. However, as any politician knows, legislating anything to do with guns invokes the wrath of constituents like little else. Politicians in the American Southwest, who have the greatest interest in stopping violence in Mexico, also have the constituencies least likely to agree with restrictions on weapons. Better enforcement is certainly a possibility, but many of the weapons going to Mexico are legal until they actually cross the border.

3) Tighten restrictions on money to deny cartels their profits. The same principles above apply to this idea. Americans generally do not appreciate restrictions to the free flow of cash, and there are easy ways around the restrictions in place.

4) Allow the shipments of the least violent organizations through while cracking down on the most violent, allowing the more peaceful smugglers a crucial competitive edge. Frankly, I don’t know if this ideal organization exists, but by clearly favoring organizations that do the least damage to the extent that it creates a major price disparity, other groups are given an incentive to do less harm. Alternately, as a certain amount of violence in Mexico is due to smuggling groups fighting each other, allowing one group a monopoly on the best smuggling routes could lead to much less competition.

5) Bankrupt Mexican smugglers by encouraging alternate smuggling routes or production from less harmful places. Take radars down from Caribbean routes; stop patrolling the Canadian border; let more Asian cargoes through without inspection. Allow the competition easier access to American markets, thus denying Mexican cartels a competitive edge. Canadian institutions are likely to be less susceptible to corrupting influences than Mexican institutions; violence in northern Cambodia would not affect as many Americans as in northern Mexico. Will coca grow in Asian climates?

7) Put smuggling organizations in a position where the costs of violence are far outweighed by the benefits of nonviolence.

Back to City Journal and the Safe Streets Initative:

One of the most vocal critics was Casey Horan, executive director of Lamp Community and a highly public presence in Skid Row politics. Lamp is a subsidized housing provider that counsels its mentally ill clients to use drugs “safely”—an approach to drug treatment known as “harm reduction”—rather than requiring abstinence from drugs as a condition of residency. Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez has championed Horan, giving Lamp a prominent and always virtuous role in his book and subsequent movie about Skid Row, The Soloist.
Horan’s denial that the Lodge sheltered a busy drug trade was childish but hardly surprising. Her explanation for how the murders could have happened in her facility, however, was nothing short of stunning. She had the gall to blame the police for the murders—because they weren’t policing aggressively enough on Skid Row, she said! “It was really the Wild West out there,” Horan sniffed. “We were aware that this is bleeding through our doors.” The “LAPD did not adequately police the area immediately outside the Lodge,” the Times paraphrased her as saying, “despite numerous calls Lamp made to them about crime there.”

No reduction of our freedoms will fix Mexican violence. Only a stable Mexican government will do that. Unless they have the will, gun bans are meaningless. Reducing American demand will help, but the Zetas are going global. Drugs are popular all over the world, we just happen to be a neighbor to a nearly failed state. Even the biggest cities swim in garbage, pollution, crime and poverty run rampant. In El Paso, you can see the lack of basic services from the border. What good would there be in trying to reduce harm when the cartels’ money goes farther in the crushing poverty of the cities they operate in?

Lax enforcement of our laws in not the answer. Yes we need to reduce demand in the states, but that only works if drug use and distribution is a crime. Otherwise addicts have no incentive to get clean. “Harm reduction” does not work. With no teeth, people don’t care about the law. That’s why addicts and dealers shot up the “clinics” in Skid Row. That is why the cartels will walk allover lax enforcement. Worse, terrorists will expolit it to strike at America. Broken Windows indeed.

Just as there was no harm reduction in Skid Row, there will be no harm reduction in Mexico. They need to win this one. The cartels must not be able to run and hide. These are not social clubs, they kill without mercy. We can help the people turn the tide, but Mexicans must fight their own battles. From beating the cartels to fixing the potholes. It’s their battle to win or lose.

The future of the US Army uniform

Posted in army life, army training, guns, HOOAH!, rankers, tech pron, Uncategorized, War On Terror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 27, September 2009 by chockblock

Right now the US military sits at a three-way intersection: two wars, a faltering economy and a desperate need to balance the budget.

Ever since WW II, the services have dug in their heels. The latest example is uniforms. The US Marines came up with MARPAT in the early 2000’s. The Army followed suit with it’s Universal Camouflage Pattern. Made up of a “foliage” green, tans and grey, it was supposed to blend in with “any” environment. Most observers, soldiers and net users noticed that the pattern did not blend in with anything.

Army Combat Uniform

Army Combat Uniform

In tests around 2003-4, the pattern that became UCP was dead last in testing. Recent tests have confirmed what many already know: UCP sticks out in the woods and the desert. The Army Combat Uniform has many detractors, but many settle on the camo pattern that seems to stick out like a sore thumb.

Enter Congress.

The conferees understand that soldiers deployed to Afghanistan have serious concerns about the current combat uniform which they indicate provides ineffective camouflage given the environment in Afghanistan. Accordingly, the conferees direct that within funding made available the Department of Defense take immediate action to provide combat unifonns to personnel deployed to Afghanistan with a camouflage pattern that is suited to the environment of Afghanistan.

The conferees further direct the Secretary of the Anny to provide a report on the program plans and budgetary adjustments necessary to provide appropriate unifonns to deployed and deploying troops to Afghanistan. The report shall be submitted to the congressional defense committees by the end of fiscal year 2009.
–Congress Doesn’t Dig UCP – Orders New Camo for A’stan, Militarytimes Gear Scout, quotes HR 2346 Conference Report

After much prodding by Congress, PEO Soldiers and Natick did a new series of tests. UCP did not do well. In response, they’ve developed a new camo scheme for Afghanistan. The tested the ACU, low and behold, it was once again last in the testing:

Overall performance of camo patterns

Overall performance of camo patterns

Now MultiCam was developed by Crye Associates and the US Army’s Natick labs. It looks like a good camo pattern. from the above chart, it is clear that MulitCam preforms well.

US soldiers demo MultiCam

US soldiers demo MultiCam

The Army’s response? The ugly UCP-D. Natick tried to put lipstick in the pig by adding “coyote brown” to UCP. The result? I think this sums it up.

“ACU’s work a lot better when they are dirty – looks like Natick made permanently dirty ACU’s and called it a fix”

UCP-D with and without the new IOTV

UCP-D with and without the new IOTV

IMHO, the Army should have just taken MARPAT and changed it, removing the “Eagle, Globe and Anchor”, replaceing it with a star and “US ARMY”. That would have saved money. But alas…

The Army is sending two units into Afghanistan, one with UCP-D and another with Multicam. What is interesting is that BAE systems has a fat contract to make MOLLE gear in Multicam for this test.

Meanwhile, most of us in the rank and file will just sigh and cue up to buy whatever is in clothing and sales.

Here is a link to Natick’s tests:
Photosimulation Camouflage Detection Test

Hot Crew! : Gothic Bellydance & Steampunk

Posted in politcs, rankers, tech pron, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 22, September 2009 by chockblock

Gothic Bellydance is a recent and rapidly growing dance art movement, currently becoming very popular in both, the amateur and professional dance communities of the United States and Europe.

Steampunk is a sub-genre of fantasy and speculative fiction that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date.

Ahh Wikipedia. Like the wiki entries above, goth belly dance and steam punk are DIY movements. People taking trends and making them their own. The result? HOTNESS!1!
Continue reading

IAR: SAW replacement expected in October

Posted in army training, guns, HOOAH!, politcs, rankers, tech pron, Uncategorized, War On Terror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 19, September 2009 by chockblock

The Marine Corps plans to announce next month a heavily anticipated plan for the infantry automatic rifle, which is expected to replace the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in Marine fire teams.– Marine Times.

The three contenders are from Colt, FN Herstal and Heckler & Koch. While some question the IAR’s dependence on 30 round magazines, you can’t argue with the weight:”The IAR finalists weigh between 8 and 11 pounds empty, whereas the SAW weighs about 16 pounds empty — 22 when loaded.” FN’s entry is based on their SCAR rifle.

What the H&K IAR might look like

What the H&K IAR might look like

FN's IAR entry

FN's IAR entry

Colt's IAR entry

Colt's IAR entry

Chew on this: It’s a (Tea) Party!

Posted in politcs, rankers, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 14, September 2009 by chockblock

Tea Party!

Tasty Links and power to the people:

In honor of the Main Stream Media and the Leftist Blogs:

RIP: a real hero

Posted in politcs, rankers, tech pron, War On Terror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 13, September 2009 by chockblock

Norman Borlaug, the man who saved more human lives than anyone else in history, has died at age 95. Borlaug was the Father of the Green Revolution, the dramatic improvement in agricultural productivity that swept the globe in the 1960s. For spearheading this achievement, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970.
Reason Online

Forget environmental wackos, Al Gore, The “science czar” who wants to sterilize the population. Norman Borlaug did save the world. By helping Inda feed itself, he prevented widespread famine and war.

He insisted that governments pay poor farmers world prices for their grain. At the time, many developing nations–eager to supply cheap food to their urban citizens, who might otherwise rebel–required their farmers to sell into a government concession that paid them less than half of the world market price for their agricultural products. The result, predictably, was hoarding and underproduction. Using his hard-won prestige as a kind of platform, Mr. Borlaug persuaded the governments of Pakistan and India to drop such self-defeating policies.

Communist and leftist groups were trying to use famine and hardship to capture power around the globe. The political reforms of the Green Revolution prevents many a mini-Stalin or Hitler from taking power.

Sadly that makes Borlaug unpopular with the left Most of his critics are leftist whack jobs or elitist snobs.

“some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They’ve never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they’d be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things”– Wikipeida entry on Norman Borlaug

Screw them. Normal Borlaug is a hero, and we should salute such a great man.

H/T Michelle

Hot Crew! : Jeri Ryan

Posted in HOOAH!, politcs, rankers, tech pron with tags , , , , , , , , on 13, September 2009 by chockblock

Jeri Lynn Ryan is best as the ex-Borg Seven of Nine on Star Trek: Voyager. She’s 41 and still hot. Many a computer nerd has her as wallpaper. Sadly her divorce gave us a senator many DO NOT WANT, but she’s still hot in my book.