Category Archive: General Curmudgeonry

Jeebus, the bitching and moaning.

Comes now the FAA with a comment period on new regulations for drones, which would require licensing and position reporting and blah de blah de blah.  Drone owners and libertarians are pounding the table angrily over the idea that they might have to kowtow to the Federal Government in order to fly their expensive drones.

As a non-drone owner, I’m like, eh…but that’s probably because I’m a federally-licensed amateur radio operator, required by the FCC to be licensed and be subject to federal regulations in order to exercise my First Amendment rights on the public airwaves.  (In fact, I worked my way up to Amateur Extra Class — which ain’t easy — so I didn’t have to deal with the nitpicky regs that define what frequencies I can use within the amateur bands.  As an Extra, I can use all of them without worrying about getting some officious functionary upset.)

As such, I don’t see how it’s so onerous to have to license and provide location data for a drone flying in public airspace. You’re a lot more likely to injure or kill someone with your drone than I am with my dual-band handy-talkie, or my HF radio and long wire at 35′ in my trees.

But if you want to complain and whinge to the FAA about drone licensing, which by the way only applies to drones that weigh more than .55 pounds, and wa wa wa:

Under the proposed rule, the vast majority of UAS would be required to have remote identification capability, however as discussed in section X. A. 3, a limited number of UAS would continue to not have remote identification. The FAA envisions that upon full implementation of this rule, no unmanned aircraft weighing more than 0.55 pounds will be commercially available that is not either a standard remote identification UAS or a limited remote identification UAS. However, there will be certain UAS including amateur built aircraft and previously manufactured UAS that might not have remote identification capability. A person operating a UAS without remote identification equipment would always be required to operate within visual line of sight [6] and within an FAA-recognized identification area. Under the proposed rule, an FAA-recognized identification area is a defined geographic area where UAS without remote identification can operate. An area would be eligible for establishment as an FAA-recognized identification area if it is a flying site that has been established within the programming of a community based organization recognized by the Administrator. The FAA would maintain a list of FAA-recognized identification areas at https://www.faa.gov. FAA-recognized identification areas are discussed further in section XV of this preamble.

(Emphasis mine.)  So what I think this means is that people like my buddy Geoff, who has a pretty good-sized professional-style drone, would still be able to fly his drone even though it doesn’t have remote identification capability, and even though it weighs more than half a pound.  All he has to do is keep it in visual line of sight and fly it in an area designated for such flight, which is probably going to be a lot more places than the complainers are whinging about.  And when the FAA mentions “a limited number of UAS”, what they really mean is, there will be a shitload of old drones out there that people will keep running regardless.  You can do a lot in line of sight, after all.

To make another point that’s similar to my FCC licensing point above, there’s a whole hobby full of radio-controlled model aircraft hobbyists out there that have to register their models and fly under restrictions that keep them out of controlled airspace.  So what makes drones different?  They cost less?  Ease of purchase of a ready-to-fly drone?  They hover instead of have to maintain level flight?  Come on.  Drones already have to stay below 400 feet and away from airports and other designated areas.  (Geoff’s drone has, I think, GPS and a database of the prohibited flight areas, and the drone will actually refuse to fly into them.  If his doesn’t have that feature, most if not all of the commercial drones in use today do.)  Technically speaking, there’s already a registration requirement for many drones.  So what in actuality are people complaining about?

Yeah, I know.  I know exactly what they’re complaining about.  Fuckin’ fascist government a-holes screwing up their fun and games by insisting on registration and tracking.

Well, guess what, boys and girls.  Sometimes you have to regulate that shit.  You like driving, for instance?  Unless you’re one of those “sovereign citizen” idiots like I saw driving up I-75 down in Georgia last summer (and even if you are), you need a driver’s license.  And insurance.  And a license plate and registration for your car(s).  But almost nobody bitches about that, per se; mostly they bitch about the cost, not the fact that these things are required.  Hell, I bitch about the cost (I just paid the bill for our license plates, eeesh, and ours aren’t really all that expensive compared to other states’ fees).  But it’s sure nice to know the other driver is supposed to have all that, too, especially if you get into an accident with him — it’s an accountability thing.

So let’s think about this for a moment.  Consider flying.  Do you think it’s OK for someone to hop in a plane, taxi it down the runway, and take off for Poughkeepsie or Alberquerque without so much as a by-your-leave (or training or a license)?  I’ll bet you don’t!  I sure as hell don’t.

So what makes flying your fucking drone any different?  Fill the sky up with them, and they’ll be just as dangerous as anything else in the air.  It’s time to accept the fact that you’re engaging in an activity that could get people hurt and property destroyed, come in from the Wild West of drone flying, and get your drone registered so you can fly it legally.

I mean, WTF?  Do you seriously think the FAA is going to come and confiscate your drones?  Dude, get over yourself.  Your drone isn’t a gun, for crying out loud.

(By the way, if you want to comment on the proposed rule, you can do that here until March 2.)

The grand controversy

A friend on Facebook indicated that he had recently acquired three new books, one of them being the first volume of Shelby Foote’s three-volume magnum opus, The Civil War: A Narrative.  A mutual friend implied that it wasn’t worth reading.  Of course I disagreed:

Foote remains controversial due to what the modern world considers his patriarchal attitudes about the South, slavery, and the Lost Cause. I’ve always thought he spent too much time idolizing Jefferson Davis and too little time analyzing Davis’s descent into madness, although it wasn’t really possible to hide it; Davis’s own actions spoke loudly for a diagnosis of “the King is nuts, but he’s the King, so we can’t contradict him”, even right up to the end when he was captured trying to escape the invading Union troops. I just can’t take away any other opinion of Davis, especially (and paradoxically) after reading Foote.

But I also think the work is important, and needs to be read alongside the other giants of 20th Century Civil War history. I have long subscribed to Paul Fussell’s dictum that “Understanding the past requires pretending that you don’t know the present. It requires feeling its own pressure on your pulses without any ex post facto illumination.”

Plus, his prose in and of itself is simply delightful.

And then I was going to add, but decided to let it go:

My one main annoyance with Foote is right in the middle of volume two, where he implies that Lew Armistead died on Cemetery Ridge with his hand on a Union cannon. It is at any rate the last we hear of Armistead, one of the great tragic figures of the war. That may have been Foote’s idea of artistic license, and perhaps he couldn’t bring himself to write candidly about Armistead’s death, but leaving it there did the man a great disservice; Armistead did get past the wall, did lay his hand on a Union gun (and was calling for his men to turn the guns around when he was shot), was carried from the field alive as a prisoner, and died in a Union field hospital two days later. His great friend and Masonic brother Winfield Scott Hancock had been on the other side of the battle, and was also wounded, completing the tragic circle repeated so many times during that war of brother fighting brother.

A hundred and fifty-five years later, we’re still talking and arguing about the whole thing.  Amazing.

Pelosi’s Pitfall, AKA Dems will never learn

Frankly, I don’t care so much what Pelosi did to her copy of the SOTU as why and when she did it.

Because I don’t care who you are, that was Grade A immature pre-school shit right there. And it speaks volumes about why the Democrats can’t stop throwing tantrums about Trump.

Dems, you want to know why Trump keeps beating you like a rented mule?

Look in the mirror. Read what you write. Pay attention to what you do. And all will be revealed unto you.

The longer you continue to venerate the Big Book of Alinsky, the longer your opponent is going to keep throwing what you said (or wrote, or did) back into your face. Because he LOVES to fight. And you’re not used to that. You’re used to Republicans backing down and compromising. This guy is not built that way. He is literally goading you into fighting him. And as soon as you try something you’re sure is going to work this time, he pulls some Trumpian jiu-jitsu move in return and you end up on the mat, flat on your back, going, “Wha’hoppen?”

As the great philosopher Rocket J. Squirrel often noted, “Aw, Bullwinkle, that trick never works.” The Democrats could learn a lot from that.

But they won’t. And a rabbit will never actually come out of that hat. It’ll be more like a spring-loaded boxing glove filled with bricks.

“Wha’hoppen?”

Donald John Trump. That’s what happened. And eventually you’ll give in and accept it.

Nah.  Maybe you just need to get another hat.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Thoughts and prayers

I have not listened to Rush Limbaugh for literally years, ever since I got tired of the constant “inline” ad breaks and frankly what I considered to be an alarming trend in his love of his own voice resulting in fewer and fewer minutes of caller input.  And in general, three hours of political yak yak in the middle of the day during the Obama misAdministration didn’t sit well on my stomach, most days.  Bottom line, the signal to noise ratio had dropped considerably, and I had better things to do.  (Maybe this has changed but it’s too late for me to go back to find out.)

So despite the fact that I know he’s long been a connoisseur of fine cigars, it nevertheless came as a shock to hear that he had announced his diagnosis of advanced lung cancer.

Naturally, this announcement brought out the usual gleeful left-wing suspects talking about, for instance, what a great world it would be without Rush Limbaugh in it, and so forth.  But at least one person on the left took the high road, instead:

Now, I don’t care for her politics, but damn, the lady is a class act. If the rest of the Democrats had half her grace and honesty, this primary season might be bearable. They could (and will) do a lot worse than nominate Ms. Gabbard.

All the best to Rush. Cancer is apolitical and indiscriminate. We should support its sufferers ditto.

Hawkeye Cauci bite the big one.

“Inconsistencies in the reporting” == “OMFG WTF Bernie won now what do we do?”

Shut up, they explained.

The hell, Schiffless?

Schiff: Trump Will Sell Alaska To Russia If We Don’t Impeach Him

(H/T: Instapundit.)

“Trump could offer Alaska to the Russians in exchange for support in the next election, or decide to move to Mar-A-Lago permanently and leave Jared Kushner to run the country, delegating to him the decision whether they go to war.”

Under what possible legal theory would any of that pass muster in the Senate? Remember the Senate? If this is even possible, they’d have to approve it.  Supreme Court would probably get involved, too, and I’m pretty sure they’d be a big fat no on this one.  Constitution is pretty clear on the fact that the Senate, not the President, declares war (although there’s that pesky War Powers Resolution that lets him punch troops for 60 days and ask forgiveness later, of course).  Plus, we fought a big war back between 1861-1865 — maybe you’ve heard of it — that pretty much put paid to the idea that we’d let states get away from the Union.  The latter, of course, may no longer be taught in California schools, so you may have an excuse, there.

Even so, Schiffy, you’ve been lying, er, making stuff up all along, of course, but my goodness, this right here takes the proverbial cake. Keep troweling on the pancake, buddy, you’ll make senior clown yet.

The bottom line is you’re a fucking moron. You should be ejected from the House so hard, the splashdown would be in the Chesapeake.

And your little dog Nadler, too.

Note to Dems: You lose.

It’s all over but the shouting:  There aren’t going to be enough votes to call more witnesses.  Thank you, Sen. Murkowski, you have somewhat more integrity than I gave you credit for.

“DEMS SIGNAL THEY WON’T ACCEPT TRUMP ACQUITTAL” blares a headline, inline in that article.  I won’t link it.

But who cares? You had a lousy case from the start, you defenestrated due process, you tried to manage the whole House side of the case in a star chamber and without a single GOP member in favor, you managed to piss off every GOP senator once the trial started, you’ve turned the American public off to the whole thing (and non-voters and Democrats are showing up at Trump rallies — cats and dogs are sleeping together, apparently), and finally, you’ve just plain blown your play. You screwed it up every single step of the way, and you’ve squandered almost every bit of political capital you had. Oh, and it looks like your leading presidential candidate is crooked as a dog’s hind leg, and his son is equally crooked and a total waste of oxygen to boot.

Sucks to be you. Live with it.

Maybe next time don’t be so quick to let the media prod you into doing something you really don’t want to do, Nancy.

This debacle will be taught for decades (or would be, if history and political science departments weren’t overrun with progressives who will now scurry to cover it up) as an example of how not to run an American political impeachment. By any means of comparison, the Clinton and Johnson impeachments and subsequent trials were fair, cool, calm, deliberate, and a credit to the Constitution. (And I’m actually not saying that was true, because they weren’t, but they were a hell of a lot closer to it than this clown-car fiasco.)

This group of Dems wouldn’t even have been able to convict Nixon. And that’s sad, because Nixon was probably convictable.

Give it up, already.  The American people are sick to death of your squabbling.  It’s going to be a fucking landslide in November for Trump, the House, and the Senate, the way things are going.  Shit, the GOP will probably even pick up some governors’ mansions.

Somebody please move to take a vote tonight, and get this waste of taxpayer dollars over with.

Early retirement would make sense

if the idiot Congress would repeal the double-taxation they imposed on Social Security benefits back in 1984.  There’s a bill in the House with bipartisan support to do exactly that, but I doubt it has much traction in the Pelosi House.  Might do better after the Pubs win the House back in November.

Looking at this article, it appears the total payout converges at around 80, regardless of when you decide to take benefits after reaching 62. If you take them early, and live past 80, obviously the total drops off, but I haven’t any illusions that I’ll live to 100. I’ll probably be lucky to live to 80.  (Although my mother is nearly 92, so apparently she got a much better set of longevity genes than her parents or her sister, and maybe that will pass through to me.  Don’t know if I want to live that long or not.  On the other hand, never really thought about living past 40, which happened at the turn of the century; that I’ve now entered my seventh decade is somewhat of a shock whenever I think about it.)

If the double-taxation went away, it would probably pay to take benefits early, since one could still work without fear of having one’s benefits taxed away at some arbitrary income level. Social Security admits that it only replaces about 40% of your pre-retirement income, so given the choice between making it up out of your 401(k) or other pension instrument, or continuing to work (and probably still pay FICA) at a level that makes up the difference, I honestly think I’d prefer the latter.  I don’t think I’d have any trouble finding a job that paid 60% of what I make now, and if such a job had reasonable insurance benefits, it might make sense to pull the plug at 62 even though I don’t qualify for Medicare until 65.

Of course, I also have the thought that the sooner I take it, the more likely I will be to collect anything at all from our great national Ponzi scheme.

Statists gonna act statist

There’s been a lot of hooroar about Indiana’s SB203, the summary of which is:

Firearms. Prohibits the: (1) sale; (2) trade; or (3) transfer; of a regulated weapon to a person less than 21 years of age. Provides that a dealer or person who knowingly or intentionally: (1) sells; (2) trades; or (3) transfers; a regulated weapon to a person less than 21 years of age commits a Level 6 felony. Provides certain defenses. Prohibits a person from possessing, selling, or offering for sale a magazine or similar device for a firearm with a capacity of more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Provides that a person who: (1) knowingly; or (2) intentionally; openly carries a prohibited weapon in a public place commits carrying a prohibited firearm, a Class A misdemeanor. Creates the crime of “unlawful possession of a multiburst trigger activator”. Provides that the possession or sale of a multiburst trigger activator is a Class A misdemeanor. Provides that the crime of unlawful possession of a multiburst trigger activator is a Level 6 felony if the person has a prior, unrelated conviction for the offense.

Filed by a jackhole Democrap senator from Indianapolis, of course.  And he can kiss the rest of the legislators’ asses if he thinks this is going to go anywhere this session with a majority GOP in both houses.  Unless of course the GOP falls on their own asses and lets this get passed.  But the word is it’s DOA in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But this other bill, SB219, is insidious, was filed by a fuckwad GOP senator, and may end up passed if people don’t wake up:

School bus stop arm. Permits the civil forfeiture of a vehicle if the vehicle is used to recklessly pass a school bus with an extended stop arm.

Now, wait a minute.  Didn’t the Supreme Court (the federal one, not the state one) recently have some unkind words to say about civil forfeiture in a case from Indiana?

Well, sort of.  The Supreme Court said that the Excessive Fines clause of the 8th Amendment was binding on the states (the legal term is “incorporation”), but rather than vacating the forfeiture as an Excessive Fine, they sent Timbs v. Indiana back to the appellate level to determine whether or not Timbs’ forfeiture of his expensive SUV (because it was allegedly purchased with money Timbs made from selling illegal drugs) was, in fact, an Excessive Fine as defined by the Eighth Amendment.  (For what it’s worth, don’t think for a moment that Timbs is a good guy who got screwed by the state — he’s not.  But he makes a good case that seizure of the SUV was excessive.)

Given that the appellate courts have not yet ruled on whether or not civil forefeiture is an Excessive Fine, you’d think a state legislator — especially a GOP state legislator — would hold fire on attempting to add to the Indiana Code a really fucking stupid civil forfeiture penalty for what is effectively a reckless driving offense that is already punishable by a fine.  Because if the Timbs forfeiture ends up being vacated because it’s determined to be an Excessive Fine, this piece of legislation if passed will be null and void.

Moreover, the specific code to which this penalty is intended to be added, IC 34-24-1-1, doesn’t actually say a word about school buses and whether or not disregarding an extended school bus stop arm is any sort of a crime.  (It is, it’s just not covered in this statute, and I don’t have time to go look it up.)  IC 34-24-1-1 discusses the specific criminal acts such as dealing in or transporting illegal narcotics, transporting bombs, driving recklessly while drunk, and suchlike, for which a vehicle is fair game to be seized.

Note that all of the offenses listed in IC 34-24-1-1 are criminal offenses, rather than civil.  I would argue that since reckless driving is already covered, there is no need to add the specific instance of disregarding an extended stop arm, other than to say, “Look, I DID SOMETHING ABOUT SOMETHING, so RE-ELECT ME.”  What this is normally called is “larding the bill of indictment with stuff that ought to be fucking obvious.”

So for the exceedingly subjective offense of passing a school bus while its stop arm is extended, any offender could be slapped with a reckless driving charge and potentially forfeit their vehicle.  The reason I call this “exceedingly subjective” is that school bus drivers often extend the stop arm before they come to a full stop.  If I am already in the act of passing the bus when the stop arm comes out, an innocent act at this time in history, I could be charged with an offense that actually makes zero sense to prosecute.  It’s “subjective” because it’s entirely up to how the cop sees the incident, which could be dependent on his viewing angle, but could also be dependent on how much coffee and how many doughnuts he’s had to eat today, or whether or not he was really paying attention or checking out the cute mom waiting for her kid at the bus stop.

Now, if I’m drunk, and the cop is chasing me, and I happen to whiz past a parked school bus with the stop arm extended, hell’s fire, he’s already got me for DUI and reckless driving, and possibly reckless endangerment of the kids getting on or off the bus.  IC 34-24-1-1 already says my vehicle is subject to seizure for those offenses (which is questionable pending the outcome of Tibbs v. Indiana).  Why do we need to lard on ANOTHER forfeiture clause that by the way is PROBABLY an Eighth Amendment Excessive Fine?

Because it’s really all about the plea bargain.  The prosecutor doesn’t want to waste his time on this, so he’s going to walk in and say, “Hmm, first offense, DUI, reckless driving, passing a bus with stop arm extended, so you’re going to lose your car to civil foreiture.  We’ve got you on camera.  Do you want to plead out now, or fight us on this?  Our deal is, you lose your car but we get you probation as a first-time offender, and you lose your license for 90 days and have to attend a diversion program.”

For which the prosecutor ought to be hanged, but that’s another story.

The point is, when you already have half a dozen ways from Sunday to prosecute the sort of offense that is envisioned by Sen. Ronnie Alting (R-Lafayette), a state senator of 22 years’ tenure who probably should have been primaried or term-limited years ago, you have to wonder when this cake of laws we’re baking is going to be done.  We are thus left wondering, as P.J. O’Rourke so trenchantly did:

Otherwise, only one important question is raised by the Constitution, a question implicit in its Preamble:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity . . .

The question being, “Are we done yet?”

— Parliament of Whores, p. 14

As P.J. noted in answer to his own question, “The mystery of government is not how Washington works, but how to make it stop.”  I’d suggest you could say the same about the Indiana General Assembly.

Of course it’s Trump’s fault…in the minds of Democrats.

Saw this tweet posted on Facebook:

My response:

  • War started under Carter
  • War escalated under Obama
  • Trump makes it clear we’re not screwing around anymore
  • QED (quod erat democratum), the whole thing is Trump’s fault.

It’s not fair, but nobody ever said the Democrats were fair.  Except Democrats, and they lie about everything.

Older posts «

» Newer posts