Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Infighting in the Deep State? Backstabbing in Washington? Say it ain't so!!!


The Intrepid Reporter offers a speculative blog post that I think gets very near the knuckle about what's happening in Washington D.C. right now.  He can't offer proof, of course, but what I'm hearing from my sources (which are not the same as his, not at all) suggests he's more accurate than not on many of the details.

Deep State War?

Click over there and read for yourself.  It's important.

If he's right, the question then becomes, "What next?"  Whichever of the three players he identifies comes out on top will be as illegitimate as any of the rest.  They're fighting among themselves to seize control - control of us.  Will we let them?

My answer to that (and I hope yours, too) is "Hell, no!"  If they succeed, the USA will be Afghanistan redux, with the Taliban's place taken by the progressive left and its minions.  The only good thing about that is, it'll provide a target rich environment.

BTW, note that conflict between cliques in the corridors of power is far from confined to geopolitical affairs.  Charles Hugh Smith points out that it's as much economic as political - but, of course, in our society those two factors are almost indistinguishable, because our politics is dependent on shaping our economic reality.  That isn't working very well any more . . . just like our geopolitics.


Not a successful VIP transport


The Mexican Navy and its Marines operate a number of Russian-built Mil Mi-17 helicopters to support its anti-narcotics missions.  One of them was tasked last week to survey hurricane damage in the state of Veracruz.  Its passengers included the Veracruz Minister of the Interior.

However, its takeoff from the town of Agua Blanca was less than successful.

Looks like the tail rotor wasn't operating correctly.  Fortunately, it still had enough function for the pilots to land (sort of);  but I suspect it won't be taking off again.

Those on board the helicopter can't have been very happy, but I bet the minibus driver on the ground had a bigger brown-trouser moment, right there . . .


The very real danger of catching COVID-19 when abroad


For all that I'm profoundly skeptical about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, I'm nevertheless in no doubt about the danger of the disease if it gets hold of you.  I've had it twice, last year and this year, and it's no fun at all.  Fortunately, despite belonging to several of the higher-risk groups that are threatened by it, I was able to treat it locally both times, and did not have to be admitted to hospital.  (You'd better believe I keep effective medication against it on hand now, because there's nothing to say I won't get it again;  but in my limited experience, it's not as scary as they make it out to be.)

However, if you get a bad case of it, it's every bit as serious as severe pneumonia (which often accompanies it), and it can be life-threatening.  Two recent accounts of people who caught COVID-19 in third world countries are eye-opening, and make us realize how lucky we are to live in a nation where first-class medical care is relatively freely available.

Greg Ellifritz is a well-known firearms and personal security instructor;  we've met him several times in these pages.  On a recent trip to Ecuador, he caught a nasty dose of COVID-19, and had to resort to under-the-counter methods to get out of that country and back to the USA for treatment.  (Interestingly, he says Ivermectin did nothing to help him.  Also, he was vaccinated, but that didn't prevent him getting infected;  however, according to the doctors who treated him, it prevented his case from being even worse.  Judge for yourself.)

The town where I was staying had no hospital or clinic.  It didn’t even have a practicing physician.  There was a tiny general medical clinic in the next town over, but it had very poor reviews.  The closest real hospital was about 90 minutes away.  The better hospitals were in Guayaquil, about three hours away.

Ecuador had some serious problems handling Covid patients a few months ago.  In Guayaquil, the bodies of Covid-19 casualties were literally dumped in the street.  I did some quick calculations.  About 30% of the Covid-19 patients who were admitted into the hospital in Ecuador died.  I really wanted to avoid Ecuadorian hospitals.

. . .

My previous plan was to ride everything out and fly back home once I was no longer contagious.  My difficulty breathing altered that plan.  I needed to get home to some real medical care before I died in Ecuador.  It was time to change my flight and go home early.  I changed my flight and planned to move to a bigger city for a day in case my symptoms worsened and I needed immediate local medical attention.

The problem now was the fact that I needed a negative Covid-19 test to get back in the country ... As an admission to one of these tactics might be a crime, I’m not going to tell you how I got on board the flight, but it wasn’t difficult.  The documents were the least of my worries getting out of the country.

. . .

[Back in the USA] They took CAT scans of my lungs.  The doctor showed me the films.  It was staggering.  The CAT scans looked like both of my lungs were completely filled with broken glass.  The diagnosis was double Covid-19 pneumonia.  I would need steroids, anti-virals, and oxygen until my lungs healed up and started working again.  Fortunately, I responded to the nasal oxygen and didn’t need to be intubated ... I ended up spending six nights and seven days in the hospital until I could breathe well enough that I could be released.

There's more at the link.

In his lengthy article, Greg links to a long Facebook post by Angela Sarwar, a nurse from Texas who caught COVID-19 while on vacation in St. Lucia in the Carribean.  It's also a very interesting study in the perils of Third World medical care.

The day before our departure we had to get a COV1D test to be able to fly out. Two people masked and gloved come to our room and tell us we both ended up with positive tests and we are being quarantined and not allowed to return home for at minimum 11 days. Confusing in itself, I felt fine, and his only *sickness* was the muscle issue and he said his throat was scratchy. I immediately start crying hard saying I have babies at home I have to get to and they just tell us to pack our bags.

We pack up, have a dr come to our room and test us again and confirm the positives. Then move us across the resort to a quarentine approved room. We're given a phone with a Dr's phone number and the number of the director and both say will fully treat us, give us whatever we need, everything is covered, 24/7 contact. They bring us plenty of linens, trash bags, coffee and close the door. And that's it. Tony and I took a nose dive towards the worst. And no answer. The pain and the symptoms grew beyond belief and we were feeling two completely different lists of symptoms and miserable.

The doctor will not answer. The director cannot contact the doctor. But at 8:30,12:45, 5:30 that phone rings to bring us a meal. If I ask any other questions for any other help. I'm told I'll be called back and the phone doesn't ring again until meal time. I call for the resort nurse. She is kind but says she isn't allowed to help me. I can only communicate with our designated doctor. Who doesn't come by. Doesn't call.

Why do we not go to the hospital? Well, it's a 3rd world country government hospital. The limits on care and medical abilities is nill. We're told once we choose to leave the resort to that hospital care, we are not allowed to return and become quarantined property of their government until they deem us fit to go home or we pass their number of days. On Monday they said they would tell us how many days our quarantine would be mandated. Today is Thursday and they haven't called yet. We haven't received medical attention. We cannot leave.

I've called the U.S. Embassy many times. I was told with our insurance we should be covered to be medevaced to the U.S. for health care. The government here is saying that isn't their policy. Realizing the seriousness of *This is a third world country* something I should have considered before coming. But I'm like *it's a Sandals resort, it's St. Lucia, it's great*. We want to go home. We want to be back on our soil. We want U.S. doctors and U.S. medicine. We want real treatment. Our U.S. doctor FaceTimed us and said we need a long list of medications and he tried calling it to the island - even if that was successful we would have to find someone to get it to us - but no pharmacy would fill it saying they don't have those medications here. We try to get it FedExed but that's going to take 2 days shipping + 7 days in customs and then their decision if we can have it. Two nights ago I thought my chest was going to quit, I thought I would quit breathing in my sleep it was so difficult, the next night the pain in my back and joints was excruciating, finally today its bearable to be alive. Tony is not doing better yet and the doctor will not answer. The resort will not send me my details of insurance inclusion and the fine print in the email is minimal. Something you don't think about when booking and excited for a vacation.

Again, more at the link - much, much more.  It's a sobering account, particularly because Ms. Sarwar is a nurse, and is thus in a position to evaluate the (lack of) medical care they received from a more objective perspective.

I highly recommend reading both articles in full.  If you may have to travel outside the USA for any reason, I'd plan on avoiding countries with that sort of medical "care", whatever you do!  I'd also plan on taking with me as much medication as I'm likely to need, and then some.  If you don't need it all, someone else might.


High drag, low speed police pursuit


Thanks to reader M. W., who sent me the link to this news report.

COLUMBUS, Ind. — A call to police about a “suspicious bulldozer” in the area of U.S. 31 and Hawcreek Boulevard led to a first for the Columbus Police Department: a bulldozer pursuit at speeds reaching … 6 mph.

Columbus police were notified at 4 a.m. that a bulldozer was spotted in the area of 17th Street and Central Avenue traveling on the roadway, and officers located it and attempted to make a traffic stop, said Sgt. Alyson Eichel, Columbus Police spokeswoman.

The driver, Adam Jackson, 26, of Gray, Kentucky, refused to stop, and led officers on a pursuit southbound on Central. Officers used an in-car public address system, and gave multiple commands for Jackson to stop the bulldozer, Eichel said.

Jackson continuously made obscene gestures to police throughout the pursuit, while reaching speeds as high as 6 mph, Eichel said.

. . .

Jackson eventually stopped the bulldozer in a Cummins parking lot near Third Street and was taken into custody without incident, Eichel said.

There's more at the link.

I'm glad the pursuit ended peacefully.  A bulldozer can wreak havoc, despite its low speed - just look at what Marvin Heemeyer did some years ago in Granby, Colorado.  Fortunately, this case had a much happier ending.

Nevertheless, some questions remain.

  • To shoot at a bulldozer, does one take up a bladed stance?
  • If a bulldozer flees from police, is it making tracks outta there?
  • If the bulldozer driver is making "obscene gestures to police", is he being CAT-ty?
Inquiring minds want to know!


Monday, August 30, 2021

I can almost hear Bob saying this!


Readers will recall that in January, Miss D. and I went up to Colorado for the funeral of a good friend, Bob, who'd been our host at our Blogorado gatherings for more than a decade.  He was a no-nonsense, down-to-earth, plain-spoken man, who said what he meant and meant what he said.

I couldn't help thinking of Bob when I read this piece of folk wisdom at Ace of Spades on Saturday.  I can almost hear his voice in my mind.  It's exactly the kind of thing he'd have said to the bureaucrats, too!

The Sierra Club and the U.S. Forest Service were presenting an alternative to the Wyoming ranchers for controlling the coyote population. It seems that after years of the ranchers using the tried-and-true method of shooting or trapping the predators, the Sierra Club had a "more humane" solution to this issue. What they were proposing was for the animals to be captured alive. The males would then be castrated and let loose again.

This was ACTUALLY proposed by the Sierra Club and by the U.S. Forest Service .

All of the ranchers thought about this amazing idea for a couple of minutes.

Finally an old fellow wearing a big cowboy hat in the back of the conference room stood up, tipped his hat back and said:

"Son, I don't think you understand our problem here... these coyotes ain't ****in' our sheep... they're eatin' them!"

The meeting never really got back to order.

I reckon, somewhere up there, Bob's laughing his ass off at that one . . .


The tipping point is not far away...


I think more and more people are "getting it" with regard to our national catastrophe that is the Biden administration.  It was illegitimate from the start, it's fouling things up by the numbers in almost everything it touches, and it appears bound and determined to force Americans to obey its dictates - or else.

I present a few comments from others that put things in perspective, because they've said it better than I can.  First, friend, author and blogger Larry Correia.

For the first few days of the Afghanistan cluster****, most lefties were keeping their heads down. It was remarkably quiet. Well apparently they got their new download because I've seen the same ridiculous narrative suddenly show up a ton over the last 24 hours. Drive bys in nearly every post, all saying the same thing.

"This was all Trump's plan/fault/date and there was nothing Biden could do."

Okay, let's destroy this bull**** narrative, because it's ****ing pernicious.

Did Trump plan on removing the military before the civilians? Did Trump plan on abandoning our secure air base in the middle of the night without even telling our allies? Did Trump's plan include giving a list of all our friends, allies, and countrymen to the Taliban? Did Trump intend to give the Taliban biometric scanners and records so our friends could be identified? Did Trump plan on leaving our allies hanging so badly that he'd get censored by ****ing Parliament? Did Trump's plan include leaving billions of dollars of weapons and equipment behind for the Taliban? Did Trump plan on a chaotic cluster**** of an evacuation from an unsecure airport with people falling off of airplanes? Would Trump command our soldiers to stay at the airport while the French, English, Poles, and Hungarians ran rescue missions into the city to get their people? Did Trump plan on trusting airport security to the mother****ing goat raping Taliban so that our people could get killed by suicide bombers?

And if so, if that was Trump's plan all along... WHY THE **** DID BIDEN NOT COME UP WITH A BETTER PLAN?

Even if these lying *** bastards were right (they aren't) and the worst foreign policy **** up in our lifetimes was exactly what Trump wanted to do, the fact that the Biden administration didn't come up with something better would still all be on their heads.

And I'm not saying Trump is blameless, oh no. The blame for this whole thing goes back two decades, republican and democrat, senior military leadership, the state department, and the intelligence community, lots of highly paid experts and PhDs in international relations all covering their ***** together.

However, the blame for this cluster****, this one operation, this infuriating, embarrassing, goat rope of a withdrawal, is all on Joe Biden, his puppeteers, and the people who were gullible/selfish enough to install him into office.

You voted for this ****. We warned you he was corrupt and incompetent, and all the evidence showed he was corrupt and incompetent, but you kicked us off the internet, looked the other way, and now you ****ing own this. Quit making excuses. Quit lying. Own it. Help fix it. Or shut the **** up.

And Larry again, a few hours later:

On one of my other posts somebody made the old joke about "don't hold back, tell us how you really feel." and Jack Wylder (who does know me really well in real life) told the guy that I actually was holding back.

Jack's right, because if I said what I really think right now, I'd probably end up in jail. And I'm not talking facebook jail either. That's how pissed off and disgusted I am today.

Worst part is, I don't think most people realize just how terrible it's probably going to get if we stay on this destructive, foolish, authoritarian path. The people no longer trust any of the institutions that they're supposed to be able to count on. The "experts" don't realize how much fury and tension has built up in regular, boring, law-abiding America. And our elite betters just keep telling us we're stupid, and our concerns don't matter.

Regular people see the lies, the corruption, and the fact that nobody is ever held accountable, even for things that they'd destroy regular people for. They're not stupid. They're just slow to action because of fear or inertia. The state forgets it has the monopoly on force only because the people have delegated that to the state, in the belief that the state would impartially obey the law, but once too much faith in the state is lost, the people can take it back.

We haven't had record gun sales (especially to new people) because of Americans' rosy outlook for their future.

Law abiding people are law abiding until they aren't. I don't know what stupid bull**** thing is going to finally push a critical mass of people over the edge, but I'm worried that we're getting closer, and what comes after that terrifies me.

I entirely agree with Larry on this.  I'm seeing people all over the place, not just around me, getting angrier and angrier.  Sooner or later, that anger is going to reach critical mass, and when it does, it'll be "Katie, bar the door!"  Remember, I've seen that dynamic at work in other countries, in actual civil unrest and civil war environments.  I can see it at work right here, right now.

My buddy Lawdog put it in stark terms a few days ago.  I share his memories of Africa, albeit in different countries.  I, too, remember the sights, and the sounds, and the smells.  I, too, felt the need for strong drink when watching events unfold in Afghanistan.  He posted this on MeWe, so I can't link directly to it:  but he gave me permission to quote it.

My little brother was born in Tripoli, Libya in 1969. September of that year, Gaddafi took control. One of his first pronouncements was that all foreigners needed to leave. Corollary to that was that all children born in Libya were Libyan citizens, and would remain there.

The American Embassy informed us that they were “working on a diplomatic solution” and to be patient.

Dad hired a dhow, and crew, and we got back to Malta. We got a parting gift from the Libyans in the form of several hundred rounds through the hull — I was two years old.

August 15, 1971. We were in Malta. We woke up to discover that President Nixon had “floated the dollar”. I remember picturing a man with a Lincoln beard standing on a dock, throwing dollar bills into the water. Unfortunately, this meant that our US bank account was worthless in Malta. Dad was somewhere in North Africa, and I remember the exhaustion of being dragged all over the island after Mom took us to the US Embassy and was told that “things were fluid” and they’d try to help when things stabilized. It was after dark before Mm found a store that took mercy on a mother with two small children and took American Express traveller’s cheques at face value for food. The Embassy never did get back to us, even after things “stabilized”.

1976. More rounds went through General Murtala Mohammed (and his driver) than the last four James Bond movies. Unfortunately, the rebelling soldiers miscalculated, and the counter-coup by the Army was … enthusiastic. As this wasn’t our first rodeo, as soon as Murtala quit bouncing we loaded up the Land Cruiser, and headed for Port Harcourt, where an oil rig supply vessel was waiting.

Three stewardesses who were visiting their engineer boy-friends headed for the American Consulate in Lagos. Two of them made it back, after being informed that they needed to go to the aeroport and get out of the country. The Nigerian Army had locked down the aeroport, and had twitchy trigger fingers. I sat in the lap of one of the stewardesses on the road to Port Harcourt, and she didn’t stop crying and shaking.

The were more evacs from African countries, and from a couple of Middle Eastern places, but we never approached the US Embassy for help again.

Even later, as a man grown and feral, I knew better than to rely on the Government for help.

Adrenaline and fear add a metallic odour to sweat. Blood is coppery. Someone inevitably loses control of their bladder and/or bowels, but that smell is actually not as bad as the smell of blood and terror.

There’s always dust. And some jackass always sets something on fire, so the smoke coats your mouth, and hangs in your nose.

Then there’s the smell of smokeless powder. And burnt bodies. That’s a smell that sticks in your nose for a while, but it’s not as bad as the smell that comes later, when the bodies have been out for a while.

People get together, huddling out of fear and uncertainty into a big herd of panicky people. Locals herd with locals. Foreigners with foreigners. And once they herd up, the scavengers show up and start picking off the weak.

One will have a brother who knows a way through the jungle, or around the military patrols. It only costs you most of your savings, and as soon as you get out in the boonies, it’s a rifle butt in the teeth and the rest of your savings taken. If you’re lucky. If not, it’s a bullet and a ditch, and they take the savings off of your body.

If you’re a man. Women quickly find out that as soon as things went into the khazi, they go from “person” to “commodity”. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

As bad as all that is — and it’s way worse than you think — that isn’t the part that’s going to give me nightmares.

Absent sheer bad luck, a smart, prepared, violent man will survive this sort of thing.

And that’s going to give me nightmares.

The President of the United States. the Joints Chiefs of Staff, and the entire State Department can go **** themselves right now.

Anyone who voted to put that muppet in the Oval Office can go **** themselves right now.

I’m headed for the bourbon, and I’m going to hope like **** I don’t have nightmares.

Like Lawdog, I know what those people outside Kabul airport are in for, once the Taliban and their hangers-on decide they've played nice for the cameras for long enough and take off the gloves.  How would you feel if you, as you were forced to watch your wife being raped, knowing you would not long outlive her, were told by your captors that your children would be raised by zealots to hate you and everything you stood for?  What if your killers promised you, before you died, that they would see to it your infant son was raised to be a bacha bazi, for the delectation of local warlords?  I'm aware of at least one case where all that happened before rescuers could intervene.  They saved the man and his children, but after her brutalization his wife is now catatonic, unable to respond to anything or anyone.  Whether she'll ever recover, God only knows.

A lot of those men, women and children are going to welcome death as a blessed release when it finally comes... and that's on Joe Biden and his administration, because it's their ideological blindness and mismanagement that's led directly to what we're seeing today.

As for supporters of the Biden administration, another author, Michael Rothman, has this to say.  (I can't provide a direct link to his post on MeWe, because that platform doesn't provide that facility, but if you search his timeline there for yesterday, August 29, you'll find it.)

The danger to America is not Joe Biden, but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the office of the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of a Biden presidency than to restore the depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president.

The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Biden, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince.

The Republic can survive a Biden, who after all is merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools, such as those who made him their president.

True dat.  (Of course, they didn't actually succeed in making him their president through their votes.  It took massive electoral fraud to do that.  The consequences of that fraud prove yet again that a dishonest, criminal beginning cannot lead to a good result.  The end never justifies the means.)  Nevertheless, a whole lot of people will go on voting for Biden and his ilk, because they're voting in their own self-interest, rather than the interests of the country.  It's become a matter of "bread and circuses" instead of "duties and responsibilities" - and our nation is poorer for it.

Even the relatively sober, businesslike Wall Street Journal opines:

"President Biden’s conduct of the withdrawal from Afghanistan will be remembered as a defining stupidity of our time ... Stupidity is one of life’s big mysteries, like evil, like love, an ineffable thing. You cannot exactly define it, but you know it when you see it ... It takes many forms. Stupidity is entitled to no moral standing whatever, and yet it sits in a place of honor at the tables of the mighty; it blows in their ears and whispers promises."

Don Surber puts it in a nutshell.

The last Democrat president to surrender like this was Jefferson Davis.

The survival of America depends on firing them all. The good, the bad, and the indifferent must all go because we must send a clear signal to the mediocrities running the military and the Department of State.

The message must be failure gets you canned.

We failed 20 years ago to do so, and it cost us dearly.

. . .

Everyone must demand accountability.

And that starts by firing every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, every secretary of the various services, the Defense secretary, the Secretary of State, the vice president, and the president.

We cannot allow to go unpunished the surrender of billions of dollars in cash, equipment, and military bases to a bunch of goons who posed no threat to our military men and women in Afghanistan.

If they continue in office, the message will be that every single one of them is above the law. That they are invulnerable because no matter what disaster they create, they still have a job, a pension, and prestige.

If even arming terrorists does not get you fired, nothing will.

Fire them all.

Our survival depends on it.

Back in 2014, Taxicab Depressions put up a long, very pessimistic article about what would happen if we didn't do what was necessary to get rid of our ideologically blinkered, incompetent and dishonest leadership class.  If you haven't read it before, I suggest it's not a bad idea to do so now.  We didn't follow his advice then.  Will we do so now, peacefully, before they completely destroy our Republic through their incompetence (if not wilful malice aforethought) and render internecine violence inevitable?

Finally, I quote our second President, John Adams:

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

I fear current events, and those of the past few decades, have proved President Adams to be prophetic in his insight.  Speaking as a retired pastor, I think that the broad mass of Americans have ceased to be either a moral and/or a religious people.  We insist on remaking God in our human and humanistic image, instead of seeking to conform ourselves to what He asks us to be.  We judge God's word by our standards, instead of judging ourselves by the standards laid out in God's word.  Therefore, our Constitution has ceased to be "adequate" for our governance.

The result has been that there is no longer any conception of "God-given" rights (as described in the Constitution) in our society, except among a relatively small minority.  Since rights are no longer seen as "God-given", why should they be respected?  There's an alternative approach - "might makes right" (or, as Voltaire put it, "God is always on the side of the big battalions").  That's what the progressive left clearly believed when they engineered the electoral fraud that stole last November's elections.  "We have the power to make this happen:  therefore, it's OK to do so.  Might makes right!"

I rather suspect that as their tainted, corrupt "victory" disintegrates around their ears, along with the entire corrupt, incompetent, feckless Biden administration, they're going to find out the hard way that they were wrong.  Tragically, that won't help the rest of us, who are going to have to survive their collapse and rebuild something better out of the ruins it leaves behind.

Our nation deserved better of us:  but we, through our collective failure to stand up and be counted, have allowed it to reach this pass.  We're going to have to pull ourselves, and America, up by our bootstraps, just as our Founding Fathers did many years ago.

Given recent events, I seriously doubt whether that can be done through the ballot box, or through wholly peaceful means.  Even if it could, our enemies abroad (already preparing to take advantage of the geopolitical power vacuum created by the Biden administration's stunning incompetence) won't give us time to do so.  They know they have to take advantage of the window of opportunity created while America is distracted by its internal divisions - and they're gearing up to do so right now.  In their shoes, I'd do the same thing.

We're in for a torrid time of it, friends.  The sooner we let the scales fall from our eyes, and see that clearly, and accept its reality, and get down to work, the better for our country.  We can no longer hope to be just "left alone", because those who stole power last November have no intention of doing that.  They mean to rule, whether we like it or not.  If we don't (and I'm pretty sure most of my readers fall into that category), then passivity is no longer an option for us.  We're going to have to get involved.


Memes that made me laugh 73


Gathered from hither and yon over the past week.  Click any image for a larger view.

More next week.


Sunday, August 29, 2021

Sunday morning music


Here's something rather unusual to Western ears, but familiar to those who follow Central European and Asian folk music.

Polish singer and musician Karolina Cicha has been popular in that country and in Central Europe since 2009.  She started her own rock band, and later moved into the folk music scene.  In 2017 she collaborated with singer, composer and instrumentalist Bart Palyga to record their Tatar Album, described on her Web site as follows (translated from the Polish, which explains the slight errors in grammar and vocabulary):

A musical journey through the steppes, culture and history.

Karolina Cicha is one of Poland’s most accomplished and interesting vocalist, not least for the choice of music she performs. Her NINE LANGUAGES album (2013), with the brilliant multi-instrumentalist Bart Pałyga, was performed in the nine languages found in her native Podlasie region of north-east Poland. Two of thise were Tatar songs, and here she has recorded a whole album of them, with Bart Pałyga throat singing and playing steppe-derived instruments and percussion.

The tatars first came as invaders in the 14th century, but some were encouraged to settle as they were superb warriors, and there’s Muslim Tatar population there to this day and two historic wooden mosques close to the Lithuanian border east of Białystok. Nothing remains in Poland of the language and music, however, so Cicha has had to source songs from the Volga and Crimean Tatars, while the album ends with a new song in Polish telling their story. The music is full of horse rhythms, overtones and memories of steppe. It’s a significant step towards resurrecting a forgotten culture.

Karolina Cicha comments:  "My private Tatar trail in the Podlaskie Voivodship starts in the village of Tatary near the town of Tykocin, where my great grandmother came from. The village was Christianised several centuries ago, therefore a Tatar memory is not present there anymore, but they say there are still old Tatar graves in the ground. Then, using local roads, I would go to Sokółka to visit The Tatar Department at the local museum. After that I would head towards Tatar villages: Bohoniki and Kruszyniany with their wooden mosques and Tatar mizars (cemetery). On the way I would also visit old forgotten villages such as Malawicze Górne or Drahle, that were bestowed to Tatars by the King John III Sobieski as a soldier’s pay in 1679. The trail would end in my hometown of Białystok, where I would visit the Tatar collection at the Podlaskie Museum at Warszawska Street. Białystok is currently a centre of Tatar culture, there are several Tatar cultural organisations here: The Tatar Children and Youth Group “Buńczuk”, The Tatar Dance and Music Group ‘Buńczuk’ and The Polish Society of Horseback Archery. Białystok is also a seat of the Muslim Religious Union of Poland and the Muslim Culture Centre. There is an active Tatar community here, especially members of The Tatar Union of the Republic of Poland. Every year they organise several Tatar events, among which the Festival of Tatar Culture is worth seeing for sure."

Here's the complete Tatar Album from YouTube.  I'm not sure whether the order of the recording matches the online album playlist (which you can find on Amazon.com), or whether it's out of sequence.  You can't buy the album on Amazon, only listen to it, but if you like it, you can buy it through Cicha's Web site, as well as her other albums (prices in Euros, of course).

Interesting music, and easy listening.


Saturday, August 28, 2021

Saturday Snippet: Smoking is bad for you - demonic edition


In Cape Town, South Africa (where I was born), there's a weather phenomenon known as "the tablecloth", when a bank of clouds gathers at the top of the world-famous Table Mountain and spills over its sides as if a cloth were being laid on a big table.  A local legend says that it's a reminder of a fabled Dutch pirate named Van Hunks, who entered a pipe-smoking contest with the devil and won, only to be snatched away to hell for his temerity in defeating the Father of Lies.  The part of the mountain where this is alleged to have happened is known as Devil's Peak.  You can read a brief version of the story here (complete with a photograph of the "tablecloth", and another here.

I grew up on such local folk tales, but didn't know at the time that the story of Van Hunks came from a poem by Victorian-era English author Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  Originally it had nothing to do with Cape Town or Table Mountain, but somehow it reached there and was transmuted by the residents into a local folk legend.  Nevertheless, the legend did retain something of the "morality play" of Rossetti's poem.

Since most people have never heard of either Rossetti or Van Hunks, and don't know the legend, I thought this morning I'd reproduce the original poem in full.  It's very Victorian in its emphasis on "the wages of sin" for eternity.  In this day and age, perhaps it's not a bad thing to be reminded of that reality . . .

The Ballad of Jan Van Hunks

Full of smoke was the quaint old room
And of pleasant winter-heat;
Whence you might hear the hall-door slap,
And the wary shuffling of feet
Which from the carpeted floor stepped out
Into the ice-paved street.

Van Hunks was laughing in his paunch;
Ten golden pieces rare
Lay in his hand; with neighbour Spratz
He had smoked for a wager there;
He laughed, and from his neighbour’s pipe
He looked to his neighbour’s chair.

Even as he laughed, the evening shades
Rose stealthily and spread,
Till the smoky clouds walled up the sun
And hid his shining old head,
As though he too had his evening pipe
Before he tumbled to bed.

Van Hunks still chuckled as he sat:
It caused him an inward grin,
When he heard the blast shake shutter and blind
With its teeth-chattering din,
To fancy the many who froze without
While he sat snug within.

His bowl restuffed, again he puffed:
No noise the stillness broke
Save the tread of feet here and there in the street,
And the church-bells hourly stroke;
While silver-white through the deepening dusk
Up leaped the rapid smoke.

“For thirty years,” the Dutchman said,
“I have smoked both night and day;
I’ve laid great wagers on my pipe
But never had once to pay,
For my vapouring foes long ere the close
Have all sneaked sickly away.

“Ah! would that I could find but one
Who knew me not too well
To try his chance against me
After the evening bell,
Even though he came to challenge me
From the smoking-crib of Hell!”

His breath still lingered on the air
And mingled with the smoke,
When he was aware of a little old man
In broidered hosen and tocque,
Who looked as though from a century’s sleep
That instant he had woke.

Small to scan was the little old man
Passing small and lean;
Yet a something lurked about him,
Felt strongly though unseen,
Which made you fear the hidden soul
Whose covering was so mean.

What thunder dwelt there, which had left
On his brow that lowering trace, ―
What lightning, which could kindle so
The fitful glare on his face, ―
Though the sneering smile coursed over his lips,
And the laughter rose apace.

With cap in hand the stranger bowed
Till the feather swept his shoe: ―
“A gallant wish was yours,” he said,
“And I come to pleasure you;
We’re goodly gossips, you and I,
Let us wager and fall to.”

The Dutchman stared. “How here you came
Is nothing to me,” he said;
“A stranger I sought to smoke withal,
And my wish is seconded;
But tell me, what shall the wager be,
By these our pipes assay’d?”

“Nay now,” the old man said, “what need
Have we for a golden stake
What more do we ask but honour’s spur
To keep our hopes awake?
And yet some bond ’twixt our goodwills
Must stand for the wager’s sake.

“This be our bond: ― two midnights hence
The term of our strife shall be;
And whichsoe’er to the other then
Shall yield the victory,
At the victor’s hest must needs accept
His hospitality.”

“Done, done!” the Dutchman cried; “your home,
I’d reach be it far or near;
But in my good pipe I set my trust,
And ’tis you shall sojourn here; ―
Here many a time we’ll meet again
For the smokers’ welcome cheer.”

With that, they lit their pipes and smoked,
And never a word they said;
The dense cloud gathered about them there
High over each smoke-crowned head,
As if with the mesh of some secret thing
They sat encompassed.

But now when a great blast shook the house,
The Dutchman paused and spoke: ―
“If ought this night could be devised
To sweeten our glorious smoke,
’Twere the thought of outcast loons who freeze
’Neath the winter’s bitter yoke.”

The stranger laughed: “I most have watched
The dire extremes of heat,
Ay, more than you, I have seen men quail,
And found their sufferings sweet
Fit gossips, you and I! But hark!
What sound comes from the street?”

To the street the chamber window stood,
With shutters strongly barred.
There came a timid knock without
And another afterward;
But both so low and faint and weak
That the casement never jarred.

And weak the voice that came with the knock:
“My father, lend your ear!
’Twas store of gold that you bade me wed,
But the wife I chose was dear;
And she and my babes crave only bread.
O father, pity and hear!”

Van Hunks looked after the feathered smoke:
“What thing so slight and vain
As pride whose plume is torn in the wind
And joy’s rash flight to pain?”
Then loud: “Thou mind’st when I bad thee hence,
Poor fool, go hence again!”

There came a moan to the lighted room,
A moan to the frosty sky: ―
“O father, my loves are dying now, ―
Father, you too must die.
Oh! on your soul, by God’s good grace
Let not this dread hour lie!”

“Gossip, well done!” quoth the little old man;
And in a silvery spire,
Like a spider’s web up leaped his smoke
Still twisting higher and higher;
And still through the veil his watchful eye
Burned with a fell desire.

A woman’s voice came next to the wall: ―
“Father, my mother’s died:
’Twas three months since that you drove her forth
At bitter Christmastide:
How could I care for your proffered gold
And quit my mother’s side?

“For two months now I have begged my bread;
Father, I can no more:
My mother’s deaf and blind in her grave,
But her soul is at Heaven’s door;
And though we’re parted on this side death,
We may meet on the further shore.”

Van Hunks laughed up at the scudding smoke:
“Ay, go what way you will!
Of folly and pride, in life or death,
Let a woman take her fill!
My girl, even choose this road or that,
So we be asunder still!”

“Gossip, well done!” the old man shrieked,
“And mark how the words come true!”
The smoke soared wildly around his head
In snakes of knotted blue;
And ever at heart of the inmost coil
Two fiery eyes shot through.

Above the hearth was a carven frame
Where seven small mirrors shone;
There six bright moon-shapes circled round
A centre rayed like a sun;
And ever the reflex image dwelt
Alike in every one.

No smokers’ faces appeared there now,
But lo! by magic art,
Seven times one squalid chamber showed
A dull graves’ counterpart;
For there two starving parents lay
With their starved babes heart to heart.

Then changed the scene. In the watered street,
’Twixt houses dim and tall,
Like shaggy dogs did the pollards shake
Above the dark canal;
And a girl’s thin form gleamed through the night
And sank; and that was all.

And there the smoker beheld once more
Seven times his own hard face;
Half-dazed it seemed with sudden sights,
But it showed no sign of grace;
And seven times flashed two fiery eyes
In the mirror’s narrow space.

The hours wore on, and still they sat
’Mid the vapour’s stifling cloud;
The one tow’rds sudden stupor sank,
While the other laughed aloud.
Alas for the shrinking blinking owl
The vulture over him bowed!

’Twas the second night of the wager now,
And the midnight hour was near.
That glance like a kindled cresset blazed: ―
“Ho! gossip of mine, what cheer?”
But the smoke from the Dutchman’s pipe arose
No longer swift and clear.

The door-bell rang: “Peace to this house!” ―
’Twas the Pastor’s voice that spoke.
Above Van Hunks’s head still curled
A fitful flickering smoke,
As the last half-hour ere full midnight
From the booming clock-tower broke.

The old man doffed his bonnet and cringed
As he oped the chamber-door;
The priest cast never a glance his way,
But crossed the polished floor
To where the Dutchman’s head on his breast
Lolled with a torpid snore.

“Mynheer, your servant sought me out;
He says that day and night
You have sat” ― he shook the smoker’s arm,
But shrank in sudden fright;
The arm dropped down like a weight of lead,
The face was dull and white.

And now the stranger stood astride,
And taller he seemed to grow:
The pipe sat firm in his sneering lips,
And with victorious glow
Like dancing figures around its bowl
Did the smoke-wreaths come and go.

“Nay, nay,” he said, “our gossip sits
On contemplation bent;
On son and daughter after, his mind
Is doubtless all intent;
Haply his silence breathes a prayer
Ere the midnight hour be spent.”

“And who art thou?” the Pastor cried
With a quaking countenance.
“A smoke-dried crony of our good friend
Here rapt in pious trance.”
And his chuckle shook the vaporous sprites
To a madder, merrier dance.

“Hence, mocking Fiend, for I know thee now!”
The Pastor signed the cross,
But the old man laughed and shrieked at once,
As over turret and fosse
The midnight hour in the sleeping town
From bell to bell did toss.

“Too late, poor priest!” In the Pastor’s ear
So rang the scornful croak.
With that, a swoon fell over his sense;
And when at length he woke,
Two pipes lay shattered upon the floor,
The room was black with smoke.

That hour a direful Monster sped
Home to his fiery place;
A shrieking wretch hung over his back
As he sank through nether space.
Of such a rider on such a steed
What tongue the flight shall trace?

The bearer shook his burden off
As he reached his retinue:
He’s flung him into a knot of fiends,
Red, yellow, green and blue: ―
“I’ve brought a pipe for my private use, ―
Go trim it, some of you!”

They’ve sliced the very crown from his head, ―
Worse tonsure than a monk’s, ―
Lopped arms and legs, ― stuck a red-hot tube
In his wretchedest of trunks;
And when the Devil wants his pipe,
They bring him Jan Van Hunks.

It's strange how many times I've met people who declare themselves atheists or agnostics, and who scoff at religious folk:  but they have no doubt whatsoever that evil exists, even going so far as to acknowledge that Satan is a real person, not just a figment of ancient imagination.  When I try to point out that if the devil is real, it's a pretty good indication that God is real, too, they scoff again . . . but I hope it makes them think.

All I can say is, go work inside the walls of a high-security penitentiary for a few days.  You'll come out believing in the devil all right - because you'll have run into all too many of his unrepentant, incorrigible servants!  Sometimes their evil seems to hang like a miasma over the walls of such places, so strong it's almost tangible.  I wish I was joking about that . . . but I'm not.  One feels it in other places, too, where unspeakable evils have been perpetrated.  If you "have ears to hear", go to where the gas chambers at Auschwitz concentration camp used to stand, and the crematoria.  I swear you can still hear the screams of the dying.  It's the most uncanny, ghastly sensation.


Friday, August 27, 2021

If you're evacuating from New Orleans, you might want to refresh your memory first


Regular readers will recall that I was part of the post Hurricane Katrina cleanup operation in 2005, in New Orleans and south-eastern Louisiana.  I wrote about it quite extensively at the time, and later pulled all the separate posts together and published them as a single article on this blog.

If you haven't already read that article, you might want to do so before "bugging out" of New Orleans this time.  Just sayin' . . .

Good luck to all of you caught in the hurricane's path.  Stay as safe as you can.


EDITED TO ADD:  Sundance notes:

Additionally, I hate to note this, but Joe Biden is in charge of FEMA… So plan accordingly.



Another reason why undoing last year's electoral fraud is going to be an uphill battle


The evidence of electoral fraud in November 2020 is so vast it's conclusive, as far as I'm concerned.  The progressive left can bleat all it likes about "baseless" allegations, but they're not baseless.  Statistical analysis is about as conclusive as it can be, whether or not any of our courts have pronounced on it (and most of them have dodged the issue through procedural means).

However, a surprising number of Americans don't seem to care about that.  Their only concern is to get as much in the way of government benefits that they can - and to that end, they're going to support whatever political party promises to give them the most.  Needless to say, the progressive left is gleefully jumping on that wagon as hard as it can.  They're offering so much government pork that anyone trying to undo their electoral fraud is going to have a very difficult time persuading voters to look beyond the pork to the problem.

Ryan McMaken puts it in perspective.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

The public sees the government spending on infrastructure, on unemployment payments, on loans to businesses, and on “free” money to American households. Most Americans are likely to find something they like in all that spending, and so they don't exactly strenuously object. After all, they see all these benefits without any clear connection to rising taxes.

Thus, much of the public completely ignores the “unseen” of what could have been bought with all that money had it not been redistributed by government fiat. The “unseen” is malinvestment, inflation, and more political power for the regime. Moreover, the monetary inflation necessary to keep the deficit-spending machine going continues to fuel artificial economic inequality. Easy money fuels asset price inflation for the rich while impoverishing ordinary people through inflation, booms, and busts.

But as the current government spending situation makes clear, these facts are virtually unknown to most of the public, and thus the public doesn’t see much downside to spending. Long gone are the old populist Democrats of Grover Cleveland's day, who understood that government spending was ripping somebody off—and that “somebody” is probably you.

Many also likely believe that as happened after World War II, things will just go back to “normal” after the crisis.

Of course, things never went back to normal after the Second World War. Federal spending as a percentage of GDP has been nearly double what it was even during the big spending days of the New Deal. What's more, the three decades of immense economic expansion following World War II occurred in a world where foreign economies were recovering from ruin and most of the world’s population was too unproductive to offer much competition to America’s workers. The US was running budget surpluses in the late forties and through much of the fifties. Americans were young, and there were far more workers producing than collecting government Social Security welfare checks.

Those days are gone, and although American workers continue to be highly productive, the burden each worker must bear to pay for the elderly and the unproductive continues to grow. 

What we have now is a country heavily dependent on ever-larger amounts of government spending and monetary expansion. It’s an economy marked by a growing population of aging pensioners, trillions spent on lost wars, and a mountain of debt with no prospects of “returning to normal” any time soon. Many Americans apparently like it that way.

There's more at the link.

More than half of all US households now receive government benefits of some kind (as do more than half of all immigrants).  Almost all that money is provided by deficit spending to fund entitlement programs.  When it comes to voting, the recipients of those benefits are more likely to consider which party will give them more benefits, rather than which party will contest the election honestly and not steal power through criminal manipulation of the results.

And that's why undoing last year's electoral fraud at the polls next year, and in 2024, is going to be so very, very difficult.  It won't just be ongoing electoral fraud (although that will certainly be a major factor).  It'll be that so many voters won't care about electoral fraud, or will regard it as less important than bigger government payouts.  For too many voters, greed will triumph over legitimacy.


Communications security when everyone is listening


I've had a number of questions from readers about a seeming contradiction in some of the advice I've given about personal security and preparations in our current environment.  They point out that it's almost impossible to stop outside forces or agencies "snooping" on our communications with each other - so how is it feasible to plan ahead for contingencies when our plans can't be kept to ourselves?  The sort of scenarios that have been mentioned include (but are not limited to):

  • Like-minded people getting together to plan local security for a region that might be plagued by extremists trying to intimidate residents;
  • People working together to coordinate emergency preparations (reserves of food, water filtration, "bug-out" plans, etc.);
  • Training sessions, where people will get together at a given location to practice weaponcraft, learn new skills from each other (e.g. food canning, gardening, makeshift repairs, etc.) and so on;
  • Storing equipment and supplies against future need, and to avoid potential losses due to various causes.

There's quite a lot that can be done to preserve confidentiality in planning and communications.  However, it all requires forethought, hard work, and consistency.  Any failure at any point in the chain may expose one's plans to others.  Therefore, those involved in the process have to be trustworthy, and monitor each other rigorously, and hold each other accountable for keeping things under wraps.

The first thing to remember is that any and every electronic communication (cellphone conversations, text messages, e-mails, Internet chat rooms, whatever) is by definition insecure.  The NSA routinely intercepts every telephone call, and monitors the entire Internet.  Google and other companies scan every e-mail you send, ostensibly to target advertisements to you, but also, I'm sure, to keep an eye over who's saying and/or doing what, and whether this might be of interest to the authorities.  Your Internet service provider logs every Web site you visit.  If you visit certain sites regularly, you might be flagged as an extremist, or classified as a member of "a group of interest".

One can do a certain amount to preserve privacy, such as using a VPN or anonymized browsing (e.g. the TOR network), but that can only go so far.  Today's communication analysis tools are so far-reaching and so capable that one simply can't assume that we have any online privacy left at all.  (For example, the FBI cracked TOR years ago.)  One certainly can't trust "free" or "open-source" encryption hardware and software.  Most of it has been compromised, some before it even hits the market through prior arrangement between the authorities and its originators by incorporating "backdoor" access.  Also, hackers have found ways to penetrate most such offerings.  (Remember, too, that merely using such services may make one a person of interest to the authorities.  "If you have nothing to hide, what are you trying to hide, and why?"  They certainly won't accept any arguments about your privacy, because in their world view, nobody should have any privacy.  Sound familiar?)

Electronic communications have been insecure for quite a long time, actually.  Back in World War II the German armed forces had a saying:  Alle funkverkehr ist Landesverrat - "all radio traffic is treason".  That's because, even if an enemy couldn't decipher or decrypt the message, he could learn a lot by traffic analysis, evaluation of the individual Morse code technique of individual operators (thus enabling a listener to track those individuals as they moved between units and postings), code names (and changes in them), and so on.  Every transmission would reveal something, whether the sender liked it or not.

That means, if we want to use electronic communication in any form, we have to use code words or phrases to describe what we're talking about, and change them frequently.  We must expect and assume that someone, somewhere, is listening.  That may well mean that for important subjects, they're not discussed online at all.  It's that simple.  We can also use alternative methods of electronic communication, less likely to be intercepted (but still vulnerable to some extent, so caution is still necessary).  Walkie-talkie-type radios, CB radio, ham radio, etc. can all be useful tools.

For anything really important, the only foolproof protection against electronic eavesdropping is not to use electronics.  Older methods of communication will come into play.  The mail and/or commercial courier services are only partly secure.  Remember, the US Postal Service photographs the addresses on every single item sent through its network, and courier services record the same information electronically.  Patterns of communication (traffic analysis) can thus be established relatively easily, making it simple to target certain correspondence for further investigation.  (Incarcerated prisoners try to get around this by using false "from" and "to" addresses, having made arrangements for the mail to be hand-delivered to the right person upon arrival.  It requires constant vigilance from corrections officers.)

For highly sensitive arrangements, some people use codes and ciphers.  I think this is overblown;  there are very few legal things so sensitive as to require this.  Nevertheless, book ciphers and other simple techniques have been used in that way for decades, if not centuries.  If properly used, with appropriate security precautions, they're very hard to crack.  For those who've had cryptography training in the military, there are other options;  and commercial code programs and hardware are freely available, if you have the money to buy them.

I know of several groups who are heavily into preparing for hard times, working together to ensure mutual security, etc.  They take security very seriously, because they don't want to be described as a "militia group" (which they're not, but journalists will sensationalize anything), or singled out for confiscation of their reserves in hard times (when authorities are likely to accuse every "prepper" of "hoarding", in an attempt to curry favor with an angry populace).  They generally don't talk about their programs at all over electronic media.  It's all face-to-face, word-of-mouth communication, plus some innocuous-seeming notices in public media and places where everyone else can read them without signing in or otherwise identifying themselves as being interested.  Some of those groups have been operating that way for years.  (The "Moscow Rules" are widely known, and can be useful on occasion.)

So, if you're worried about security, there are options available.  However, I caution that if the authorities get seriously interested in you, or in anyone holding certain opinions, the odds of keeping your activities secret are very poor indeed.  That's just the way it is in our surveillance society.  (Besides, there are plenty of neighborhood busybodies who'll be delighted to inform on you if that's the way to get benefits for themselves.)

I'm sure I'm on several lists, thanks to the opinions I've expressed on this blog and elsewhere.  I simply shrug and carry on regardless.  If things go to hell in a handbasket, I'll just have to stand (or fall) on what I believe in - as will we all.


This can't just be stupidity - it's too stupid for that. There HAS to be actual malice involved.


I was utterly flabbergasted to read this report yesterday.

U.S. officials in Kabul gave the Taliban a list of names of American citizens, green card holders and Afghan allies to grant entry into the militant-controlled outer perimeter of the city’s airport, a choice that's prompted outrage behind the scenes from lawmakers and military officials.

The move, detailed to POLITICO by three U.S. and congressional officials, was designed to expedite the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan as chaos erupted in Afghanistan’s capital city last week after the Taliban seized control of the country. It also came as the Biden administration has been relying on the Taliban for security outside the airport.

Since the fall of Kabul in mid-August, nearly 100,000 people have been evacuated, most of whom had to pass through the Taliban's many checkpoints. But the decision to provide specific names to the Taliban, which has a history of brutally murdering Afghans who collaborated with the U.S. and other coalition forces during the conflict, has angered lawmakers and military officials.

“Basically, they just put all those Afghans on a kill list,” said one defense official, who like others spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic. “It’s just appalling and shocking and makes you feel unclean.”

There's more at the link.

This is so incredible, so absolutely, sickeningly incompetent, that I don't believe it can be incompetence alone.  There HAS to have been actual malice involved.  Someone, somewhere, must surely have thought along these lines:

"Well, we can't get all our allies and associates out, and we're going to get publicly pilloried for that:  but, if we hand them over to the Taliban, perhaps the Taliban will ignore our own people, and let us get them out while they take their revenge on collaborators.  We can at least get something good out of this mess, and claim some credit that way - and besides, they're not Americans, so they don't count. Yeah, let's try that."

I can think of no other possible explanation for any US bureaucrat, diplomat or official doing something so incredibly dumb, stupid, terminally obtuse and criminally cretinous.

The official(s) responsible have, by their actions, condemned every Afghan they named to the Taliban - and their wives, and their children, and their extended families - to death.  Some will already have been killed.  If the remainder are lucky, it'll be over quickly.  If they're not . . . it'll be a slow, lingering, living hell on earth until the final mercy.  That goes double (triple!) for the women.

It would be the most poetic of all possible justices if the official(s) who released those names to the Taliban missed the last flight out, and found themselves at the mercy of the new masters of Afghanistan.  It would be even more appropriate if they found themselves waiting for torture and execution alongside those they betrayed.

As for the US military personnel killed yesterday in Kabul . . . I'm sorry, guys.  You were put into an impossible situation - what Solomon calls a "self made kill box", which is as good a description as any - by the incompetence and short-sightedness of your leaders, both military and political.  As a combat veteran, I feel for you in a way that civilians can't possibly understand.  You answered Uncle Sam's call, and Uncle Sam's representatives threw away your lives.  I wish I could do more about that than apologize.  All I can offer you are my heartfelt, deepest thanks for doing your duty, and my condolences to those you left behind.  Your sacrifice will not be forgotten.

I hope someone pays for that, too.