Monday, April 23, 2007

I'm Not Sure Where This Comes From

Even if nanotech becomes the norm it will still be a pain in the fanny to get a trombone back and forth to music class.

What Could Go Wrong?

There's a tragic story out of Green Bay this weekend that may provide some lessons for some of the "shoot first" crowd that has come out in the wake of the VT shootings last week.
Ben Sonnenberg, 25, was shot and killed by police outside a near east-side
tavern early Saturday morning, when, according to Green Bay police, he made a
motion that looked as though he was reaching for a weapon.
The story says that Sonneberg was shot multiple times in the back more than 10 feet from the car which had been stopped. No weapon was found at the scene of the shooting.

Four well-trained law officers, including one who had reason to use deadly force once before, killed a young man based on their false belief that he was reaching for a weapon. Unfortunately, that can happen when you disobey a law enforcement officer. Sonnenberg's only actions should have been to stand very still and answer all of the questions put to him.

In an adrenaline-fueled situation like a traffic stop after a chase at bar time decisions are often made without benefit of complete information and those decisions have their own consequences. But there's more.
Bill Sonnenberg said he found numerous bullet holes in buildings near the crime
scene, including some as high as 7 or 8 feet.
When adrenaline runs high there are often more shots fired than necessary and despite constant and ongoing training aim often suffers.
A bystander — identified Sunday as Cesar J. Grijalva-Ortiz, 31 — also was shot
and was taken to St. Vincent Hospital. Hospital nurse supervisor Patti Wauters
confirmed he hadn't been discharged as of Sunday afternoon but declined to give
further information. Police said Saturday they believed his injuries were not
President Bush said that the VT students were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They weren't. They were in the class in which they belonged. It was the gunman in the wrong place. In the Green Bay case it was Grijalva-Ortiz who was shot for being in a place at the wrong time.

What does all of this have to do with VT? There are those who say that one more armed student in the lecture hall could have prevented much of the carnage. Is that case likely? What are the chances that only one more gun would have been present? What are the chances that the armed students would have been any better at target identification than the Green Bay officers? Would they have been more accurate? Faced with more than two shooters in an unexpected place could an armed student have been conditioned to only fire at the first shooter or would she have fired at anyone with a gun?

A prof at UW Madison did an exercise 25 years ago. During a lecture session, without warning, a person previously unknown to the class ran in from the side door, pulled a banana from his pocket, pointed it at the Prof and shouted, "Bang." The Professor fell down and the assailant ran from the room.

There were 140 different versions of what had happened in those 20 seconds of class. More than half swore that they had seen a gun. Nearly a quarter had heard a shot.

Panicked people do not make wise decisions. In the free for all atmosphere of a public shooting we could only expect the tragedy to be compounded by the presence of more weapons.

Four well-trained police officers managed to shoot two unarmed men and several buildings in the heat of the moment. How many would have been killed in a shootout in a lecture hall? It's impossible to say. That's why the CCW crowd's argument should carry no weight.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Alberto's Very, Very, Really Bad Day

Look at the bright side.

With the lack of memory shown by Alberto Gonzales yesterday he probably won't even be able to remember all of the people who said the country would be better off if he resigned.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


50 families are forever changed. Thousands more will show the scars. The need our sympathy and our empathy today.

The time will come for understanding and for action. This is a time for grieving.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Now We're Getting Somewhere

The letter is signed by Pat Leahy (D-VT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and reads in part:
We are concerned whether or not politics may have played a role in a case
brought by Stephen Biskupic, the United States Attorney based in Milwaukee,
against Georgia Thompson, formerly an official in the administration of
Wisconsin’s Democratic governor. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals was
reportedly so troubled by the insufficiency of the evidence against Ms. Thompson
that it made the unusual decision to issue an order reversing Ms. Thompson’s
conviction and releasing her from custody immediately after oral arguments in
her appeal.

You can read the whole letter here.

Monday, April 09, 2007


Rick Wiley, the RPW, Karl Rove, sundry and various officials of the DOJ and Jess Bucher are all mad at Steve Biskupic because he didn't pursue voter fraud aggressively enough. Biskupic's reason?

There wasn't any to prosecute.

The Tizzysphere has a conniption because Georgia Thompson didn't "flip" to higher-ups and shine some light on the bigger crimes they are sure was there. Thompson's reason?

There was no bigger crime.

Right wing bloggers decry the lack of reporting of the good news from Iraq. The reason?

The news gets worse rather than better.

If you're going to call yourself something as pompous as "citizen journalist" you owe your readers, at the very least, a passing knowledge of reality.

The CEO Administration

"Hillary Clinton is running for president. She set a fundraising record---she's already raised 26 million dollars. That's a lot of money. To put that in perspective, that is more money than President Bush lost in all the years he was a businessman.".
--Jimmy Kimmel

Sunday, April 08, 2007

"Lying Poisons Justice" -The Experts Speak

"What's at stake here is the rule of law. Even the president of the United
States has no right to break the law. If the House votes down this inquiry . . .
nothing will happen. The result will be a return to the imperial presidency of
the Nixon era, where the White House felt the laws did not apply to them, since
they never would be punished. That would be a national tragedy of immense

-Wisconsin Representative James Sensennbrenner defending the authority of Congress to investigate Presidential conduct during the Clinton administration.

Henry Hyde played the "Nazi" card to cover the same transgressions.
"We fulfilled our oath of office to discharge our duty according to the
Constitution and when elected officials do that, democracy works
"Have you seen Auschwitz?
Do you see what happens when the rule of law
doesn't prevail? Lying poisons justice."

Friday, April 06, 2007

Modern Campaign Methods (A Retrospective)

Which troubles you more? Rather's sideburns or Karl Rove's?

What's The Difference?

What's the difference between Georgia Thompson and Scott Jensen?

The court says Georgia Thompson didn't do anything wrong.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Who Didn't see This Coming?

United States Court of Appeals
For the Seventh Circuit
Chicago, Illinois 60604
Argued April 5, 2007
Decided April 5, 2007
Hon. WILLIAM J. BAUER, Circuit Judge
Hon. DIANE P. WOOD, Circuit Judge
No. 06-3676


Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
No. 06 CR 20
Rudolph T. Randa, Chief Judge.

The judgment of conviction is reversed, and the case will
be remanded with instructions to enter a judgment of acquittal.

An opinion will be issued in due course. The time to file a
petition for rehearing is extended until 14 days after the court
issues its opinion.

This extension of time also means that the mandate will be
deferred. But Thompson is entitled to immediate release from
prison, on her own recognizance. The United States must make
No. 06-3676 Page 2 arrangements so that she may be released before the close of
business today.

Context Is Important

There were two pictures among those posted by Yahoo on Monday that caught my eye immediately. Yahoo pushes a feed of those pictures which are most frequently emailed every day.

When I saw these two I knew that they would rank near the top of 2007 lists for pictures most often miscaptioned.

This picture is of Senator Clinton seeing an old friend in the audience. It took exactly one day for Owen to have it miscaptioned as having something to do with campaign fund raising.

This picture, on the other hand, is of Newt Gingrich being lead away by his handlers after saying that bi-lingual education leads to the language of the Ghetto. Gingrich would later say that he meant to be anti-Semitic rather than anti-Hispanic.

I'm not sure how it will be miscaptioned by partisans but I'm certain that it will be.

Jess Bucher Sez

Only prosecutors would sit on the Supreme Court in Jessica McBride's state. If you spent your time working to make sure that people's Constitutional rights were protected you shouldn't be judging.

I realize that Jess' worldview may be a little bit skewed. After all. if you give a kid a hammer then everything needs to be pounded. It's just that she has this Wild West mindset when it comes to law enforcement.

If Jess were Queen we'd have all hangin' judges and we'd have more gunfights to settle things "the manly way" and we surely wouldn't brook no guff from them pesky furriners.

Poor Jess is moist with the thought that a conservative won an election without looking at the bigger picture. She should ask some journalists how they do it and then start asking people how the conservatives did in this nominally non-partisan election.

Around this part of the state I think the best example is from Fulton Township where Brian Christianson and his nuke-em-all "reformers" got soundly trounced by people who just wanted their government back from the Grover Norquist wannabes.

The Progressive Majority candidates made inroads in this election winning 8 new seats around the state including the Janesville Council and the Magnolia Town Board.

Jess' Election Night gloating shows how weak her grasp on the big picture is. It also proves once again that she needs to stop calling herself a journalist and tell the truth. Eric Severeid and the Russet Burbank are both commentators. Jess B is no more than that.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Election Thoughts

I don't understand why some folks are downright giddy that the manufacturers of asbestos insulation and lead paint now have a bought-and-paid-for seat on the Supreme Court. Quality of Life in Wisconsin is worse today than yesterday.

If my math is anywhere near correct we had somewhere around 1100 ballots cast in Evansville yesterday. Not shabby at all for a Spring election with uncontested Council races.

Louis Butler's High Court term expires next year. Expect another cavalcade of slime from the folks who brought you DDT.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Simple Stuff

If GWB had been honest enough to budget for his continuing enterprise in Iraq he wouldn't have to keep exposing his foolishness to continuing resolutions.

Just remember if he vetoes the funding for the troops he has no one but himself to blame.

Heartening News

This headline from the Gazette gives one some hope:
Challenger will face Paul Ryan

At last there is someone taking the challenge seriously enough to start a campaign before 4 months out.

Ryan is building some negatives for himself. He's still the only politician who has been proven to have done favors for Troha (Settle down. The words "In exchange for," are nowhere in that sentence. I'll leave the innuendo to others.) He voted against funding the troops in the continuing resolution. He voted against $2B in port security funds.

Paul Ryan has aligned himself with the Bush/Sensennbrenner True Believer Faction. In 2008 that may be the quickest way to set oneself up in private practice.


Just go vote.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Just Freakin Incredible

From the Phoenix Newtimes:

Handguns For The Homeless
Give Piece a Chance
Arm the Homeless stages a firearms giveaway for Phoenix vagrants.

Manny Marco, unemployed vagabond, tenderly loaded the last of 30 9-millimeter bullets into the spring-action, extended clip for his new Mac-10--a semiautomatic assault weapon capable of throwing rounds as fast as Marco can blink.

"That's very good, Manny," coaxed Arm the Homeless firearms instructor Pete Whippit. "Now, insert the clip and rack that lever there." Marco did so, producing the wicked, unmistakable chik-chik of a freshly loaded weapon.

"Okay, Manny," Whippit continued, pointing to a switch. "Now, all you need to do is flick this thing here from 'Safe' to 'Fire,' and you are cocked, locked and ready to rock."

Tears of joy trickled through the caked grime on Marco's face as he threw both arms around Whippit, still holding the fully loaded machine pistol. Nearby, a cluster of vagrants sorting through a shopping cart filled with handguns and shotguns ducked and danced away from the arc of the Mac-10's barrel.

"God bless you, and God bless Arm the Homeless," Marco said. "This is the nicest thing anyone's done for me in 10 years."With that, Marco withdrew from the embrace and shook the Mac-10 menacingly at a reporter. "Beats the hell out of a little spare change, don't it?" The proud new gun owner slid the Mac-10 into a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles backpack, which he latched over a soiled bed roll. He waved goodbye, then set out across the desolate, dry bed of the Salt River, his course set for the corporate towers of downtown Phoenix, two miles away.

Marco said he spends most afternoons there, panhandling near the Valley National Bank building. "That man is going to rest easier tonight because of the gift we bestowed upon him today," said Whippit, his eyes shielded behind military surplus mirror shades. "Not only did we give Manny the peace of mind that comes with carrying a weapon. We also gave him the sense of self-respect due any man who exercises his God-given, Constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

"Just because someone is homeless, doesn't mean they don't need a gun--quite the contrary," Whippit continued. "That's what Arm the Homeless is all about--making sure any American who wants a gun has one, whether they can afford it or not."

On March 25, Whippit and five other Valley gun activists calling themselves Arm the Homeless distributed free, legal firearms to 76 homeless men and women during a three-hour giveaway on the Salt River bed. The action--technically a series of transfers between private citizens--was completely legal under Arizona's loose gun laws (Arm the Homeless required all firearm recipients to sign a form stating they are not convicted felons).

Appropriately, most of the weaponry--which included eight .357 magnum revolvers, at least five .38s, two .44s, dozens of 9mm, .45, .25 and .380 caliber semiautomatic pistols, a few Luger .22s, and high-capacity arms such as the Mac-10, seven Tec-9s, and one SKS assault rifle--was kept on-site in a shopping cart, from which the homeless literally chose their weapon.

The giveaway was staged in a secluded patch of wasteland beneath the Central Avenue Bridge. Honey Hawk, the gun group's "minister of information," said the event was promoted solely though word of mouth, on a "classified, need-to-know basis."

"Basically, we planned the operation, then established contact agents within the downtown Phoenix homeless population, through which we disseminated the time and place specifics," she said. The giveaway was first-come, first-armed, and began at high noon.

As the vagrants arrived in ragged bands, two Arm the Homeless organizers secured them into groups of five in a holding area cordoned off with rope in the shadow of one of the overpass' concrete supports. The shopping cart of guns was on the opposite side.

Whippit escorted each group in turn to the "arming zone," where they sat on the ground for a 15-minute lecture from Arm the Homeless instructors, who skimmed over the basic principles of firearm safety, then identified and explained the pros and cons of the four types of guns available--revolver, semiautomatic pistol, shotgun and assault rifle.

"Now, the SKS assault rifle is not a carry-down-the-street kind of weapon," Whippit said during one lecture. "It's a camp weapon. It's a keep-it-in-your-sleeping-bag-by-the-fire weapon. The SKS is ideal for defending an established position."

After the lecture, each group of five was instructed to make a selection from the shopping cart, with a 10-minute time limit on browsing. Cat, 43, a member of the first group, immediately seized upon a Mossburg 500 shotgun, which came with a box of Milstor shatter disc rounds--each Milstor shell is packed with a stack of 15 dime-size metal discs, perforated in quarters to detach upon barrel exit.

"I want this one!" Cat said."That's a lot of gun for a little lady," one Arm the Homeless volunteer told her. "How about this, instead?" He reached into the cart and pulled out a silver, Colt .380 that fit into his palm. "This is what we call a purse gun. It might be more your type."

"I don't have a purse!" protested Cat. "I want the scatter gun!"

"Let her have the damn shotgun," Whippit directed. "We've got people to arm."

Whippit, 33, is a Marine Recon combat veteran who says he saw action in the 1989 Mongol-Sumerian conflict. After Whippit left the Marines in 1992 (records indicate an honorable discharge), he says he fought as a paid mercenary with the Mau-Mau Liberation Front in several west African tribal wars. Whippit followed a girlfriend to the Valley about a year ago, and now lives in east Mesa, where Arm the Homeless is based.

"Once I got here, I decided to use the money I made as a hired gun fighting for causes I didn't believe in to fund an organization fighting for one I do," said Whippit. "I found a few like-minded individuals, and we started having meetings and acquiring guns."

Whippit says Arm the Homeless accumulated its stockpile of weapons through numerous, scattered purchases at Valley area "cash and carry" gun shows, where private, small volume dealers are not required to register sales, and handgun buyers can avoid the background checks mandated by the 1993 Brady Bill. Arm the Homeless spent more than $25,000 on the guns, Hawk says, not including the SKS, Mac-10 and three Tec-9s, which ATH members donated from private collections she characterized as "extensive."

Arm the Homeless, which is a 501c4 tax-exempt organization, has also received more than $10,000 in direct cash donations from Second Amendment fanatics--much of that generated through the group's Web site:

"All the weapons we're giving away are used weapons, but they're good used weapons," Hawk said. "There's not a Saturday Night Special in the lot." Arm the Homeless could have provided each gun recipient with more than one box of ammo, she said, but "we didn't want them selling bullets for booze."

Also, Hawk said, two days before the giveaway, Arm the Homeless mailed a letter to every address listed under "Pawnbrokers" in the yellow pages. The communique informed pawn shop owners of the group's action, and asked them not to purchase any weapons from homeless people. "We thought this thing through," Hawk said. "We didn't just come down here and start handing out guns. This is not some haphazard distribution of dangerous weaponry. This is a well-organized political and social service action."

Bob Dobbs, director of the Downtown Business Interest Protection Committee for the City of Phoenix, said the gun giveaway "sounds like somebody's idea of a sick joke."

"What do these gun crazies think they're going to accomplish with this idiocy?" he asked. "I mean, do they have any idea how much damage this will do to Phoenix's reputation? Would you want to visit a city where the homeless are being given guns? This is catastrophic. So much for revitalizing downtown."

Dobbs said he planned to advise Mayor Skip Rimsza to declare an emergency and call for the passage of an ordinance to require all Phoenix gun owners to have a legal mailing address, other than a homeless shelter.

"At least a P.O. Box," Dobbs said. "I mean, sweet Jesus, is that too much to ask of someone with a loaded .44?"

Meanwhile, Terrence "Skip" Towne, a disgruntled former member of Arm the Homeless, has begun a campaign to discredit the organization.

"Arm the Homeless--hah! What a bunch of crap. I call it Arm the Whole Mess," snarled Towne, formerly Whippit's right-hand man in the group. Towne, who lives in Surprise, said he initially was taken in by Whippit's combat stories, which he has since begun to doubt. "I think Whippit's a fascist fruitcake whose real agenda is to get rid of the homeless. I think he hopes they all shoot each other, which they probably will," Towne said.

Whippit says he expelled Towne from the group in January for misuse of weapons. "Every Friday night, like clockwork, Skip would snort a bunch of bathtub speed, load about 50 of our guns into his truck, and disappear into the desert. He'd burn through 500 bucks of ammo a weekend, easy. He had to go."

Commander Guy Armstrong, head of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Homeless Posse, says none of his volunteer patrolmen, who are themselves homeless, have seen evidence of more firearms among the street people. Asked if he is concerned about the prospect of encountering armed homeless, Armstrong shrugged and said, "Not really. We've got guns, too."

A reporter who'd been invited to cover the giveaway asked Hawk if distributing guns to the homeless might lead them to rob and shoot people. She fired this sarcastic retort: "I think that question reflects your prejudice. Let me guess--homeless people are all criminals or crazy, and shouldn't be able to own guns. Yeah, that's real enlightened."

Hawk brandished a sheet of crime statistics indicating that people who live on the streets are 10 times as likely to become victims of violent crime as people who don't. "These people need guns," she said. "It's not their fault our cities aren't safe, and it's not fair to deny them the right to protect themselves in a dangerous environment, just because they're poor."

She pointed to 74-year-old WW II veteran Gabo "Pops" McClean, who had just claimed a gleaming black Tec-9. McClean assumed a firing position and pretended to pull the Tec-9's trigger, rattling the weapon with both hands and rolling his tongue behind his teeth to make machine gun noises.

"I'd sure like to see some skinhead punks try to set him on fire tonight," Hawk said. "Gabo there looks like he's ready to go Charles Bronson on their ass." As an Arm the Homeless instructor showed McClean how to conceal the Tec-9 on a shoulder sling beneath his tattered windbreaker, Hawk admitted that the homeless gun recipients probably do not have permits to carry concealed weapons in the state of Arizona.

"I doubt if many of them have the money to afford the 16-hour class and permit fees," she said. "Which is just another example of how, when it comes to guns, this country discriminates against its so-called 'second-class citizens.'" Hawk said Arm the Homeless hoped to recruit a Department of Public Safety certified firearms instructor to conduct concealed-weapons permit classes for the homeless.

"If they donate their time, we'll come up with the permit money and do our best to round all [the homeless] up and get 'em back here for a CCW class, so they can legally carry concealed. "Obviously, it's not as big a problem with the SKS and the shotguns, unless they get their hands on a hacksaw. "In any case, we consider what these people do with the guns after they get them to be their business. Our business is to make a forceful statement in support of the Second Amendment, and that statement is that when guns are only for people with homes, only people with homes will have guns."

As if to punctuate Hawk's point, a rapid-fire pop-pop-pop volley of shots rang out from 100 yards away, where homeless gun recipient Habbie "Abe" Rafuls was busy emptying the pre-ban, 15-round clip of his newly acquired Smith and Wesson 9mm. Rafuls whooped as he pumped an old mattress full of lead.

"Seeing that gives me a warm feeling inside," Whippit said.He grabbed the sleeve of a passing Arm the Homeless member and pointed to Rafuls, just as the man fired his last bullet into the ground. The ricochet kicked up a spoof of dust and sang off into the distance. Rafuls began spinning circles, repeatedly pulling the trigger on a spent clip.

"Go ahead and give that man another box of ammo," Whippit ordered. "Let's make his day."

At press time, Arm the Homeless announced a second firearm giveaway, to take place in the America West Arena plaza on Monday, April 2, starting at 7:30 p.m. (one half hour before tip-off of the Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers basketball game). For volunteer information or to donate a firearm, call Arm the Homeless.