Thursday, December 31, 2009

Let us not forget the dragon's appetite.

For if the future of the Republic is first decided by guns within our borders, the war with the international creditors to collect what they see as their due will surely follow.


From Real Clear World:

December 31, 2009

China Goes for the Gold

By Daniel McGroarty

Nearly lost in the news of would-be air terror, protests in Tehran and best-and-worst retrospectives for the fast-vanishing Double-Zero Decade was a story about a tiny investment deal that raises big questions about China's strategic intentions towards the United States.

The story, reported on the New York Times' business page, noted the decision of Northwest Non-Ferrous International Investment Company - a Chinese state-controlled mining conglomerate - to withdraw its request for U.S. Government approval of its purchase of a controlling interest in Nevada-based gold-miner. The withdrawal spared the Northwest Non-Ferrous/Nevada deal from becoming only the second proposed foreign investment since 1988 to be formally rejected by CFIUS - the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, chaired by the Treasury Department with seats for more than a dozen U.S. agencies including the Departments of Defense, State Homeland Security. (Trade wonk trivia spoiler alert: the first CFIUS refusal involved a proposed Chinese acquisition of a Washington State aerospace company, during the presidency of George H.W. Bush.)

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Daniel McGroarty China

In this week's case, the object of Chinese affection was FirstGold Corporation - a tiny Nevada gold mining company, small even for junior mining standards, with a single producing mine and a market cap just above $5 million. Precisely why the Chinese firm selected FirstGold from among scores of U.S. gold mining companies is not clear, but in recommending that the deal be refused, CFIUS apparently focused on "serious, significant and consequential national security issues" - namely, the proximity of one of FirstGold's projects to Fallon Naval Air Station, home to the Navy's TOPGUN training facility, as well as "other sensitive classified assets." What benefits China might enjoy from being a Nevada neighbor of TOPGUN were left to the reader's imagination. The New York Times also noted Obama Administration concerns that what might have interested the Chinese in FirstGold may not have been gold at all, but its rights to mine zinc and uranium - both of which are designated strategic minerals by the U.S. Government.

The setback for Northwest Non-Ferrous follows successful investments in Canada and Australia. The Chinese firm bought a Yukon mining company with lead and zinc assets in 2008, and made a second investment that same year in an Australian gold company which also holds prospective uranium properties. Northwest Non-Ferrous's non-Chinese purchases form part of a pattern: other Chinese state-controlled agencies have sought stakes in two Australian miners who happen to be among the very few non-Chinese companies that mine rare earth minerals critical to a range of military and commercial uses.

CFIUS' refusal parallels recent Australian decisions denying mining company acquisitions proposed by Chinese state-controlled firms. Earlier this year, Australia's Defense Department denied a proposed joint venture involving a Chinese state firm and an Australian resource company with properties near a missile test site. A second Australian mining company investment by yet another Chinese state firm was approved by Australian authorities, but only after a property near the same missile test site was excluded from the deal.

Is this month's CFIUS refusal merely a blip on the business page - or a harbinger of heightened levels of scrutiny for Chinese mineral and metals investments? Here's hoping it is a sign that the U.S. and its resource-rich allies are beginning to notice a pattern of Chinese commercial purchases with potentially serious geo-strategic consequences. China apparently sees value in the West's vast and varied resource base. Can we say the same?

Daniel McGroarty, principal of Carmot Strategic Group, an issues management firm in Washington, D.C., served in senior positions in the White House and at the Department of Defense.

A Question on "The Window War."

Harriet Beecher Stowe (June 14, 1811 – July 1, 1896) was an American abolitionist and author. Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) depicted life for African-Americans under slavery; it reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the U.S. and Britain and made the political issues of the 1850s regarding slavery tangible to millions, energizing anti-slavery forces in the American North, while provoking widespread anger in the South. Upon meeting Stowe, Abraham Lincoln allegedly remarked, "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!" -- Wikipedia.

jdayh writes. regarding "Back by semi-popular demand: The Window War" -- --

Mike very good story. I am a bit confused about one thing though, and was wondering if you could please clarify something.... did these events really happen? or is the entire thing made up..? (meaning did you just change some details in a true story?) If so please let us know.. I am about to present this as a piece to a major college and want to know if what I am putting out there is just a made up story..or a protected true story..

This re-release appeared in February of this year. I prefaced it with this:

I have received an email or three about The Window War so I thought I would bring it back here for a return engagement. I originally wrote this in either late 1999 or early 2000 because the GOP was waffling (don't they always) on more gun control, Dubya was signing on to an AWB and he looked like he was going to be the nominee. Because your freedom of speech about presidential candidates is always filtered through the Secret Service spyglass, I wrote this fiction piece instead. It probably worked out better in the end.

I wrote this then as fiction (instead of an advocacy piece) at the urging of lawyer friends who read the rough draft, because they were afraid I'd get myself arrested by writing straight non-fiction. The finished, fictional piece did not describe (at that time) anything that happened in real life. It was after the piece appeared that things got interesting.

I suppose it was close to a year after it first appeared on the Internet that the 2000 election recount crisis happened. On 11 November 2000, Jeff Head reposted it on Free Republic, copied from the earlier post on the Liberty Town Square Forum, with the comment:

"Not advocating anything here -- just wondering if Mike thought about a work of fiction called "Window war II" as it applies to fraudulent elections?"

At the time, Free Republic was the premier conservative activist forum. (Long before its sadly self-neutered state later on, when any criticism of George Bush would get you banned.) So it got seen by a lot of people.

On 25 November, at the height of the crisis, someone writing under the moniker Pa. Patriot posted a Reuters story with the following header:


An excerpt from the story:

By Friday around noon, The Broward (County) officials had completed review of 573 of these ambiguous ballots. According to unofficial figures Gore had an overall net gain from the manual recount in Broward of 280 votes. Mindful that such small gains could end up tipping the balance Gore's way, Republican supporters were angry. One man with a bullhorn repeatedly yelled "you can't steal this election," as Florida Democratic Congressman Peter Deutsch was interviewed by a television channel . . .

Unknown persons threw a brick through a window at the Democratic Party's Broward County headquarters late on Thursday or early on Friday when the office was closed, police said. Scrawled on the brick was the message: :We would not tolerate an illegal government."

After this event, the Freepers had a field day, many denouncing it as a work Democratic provocateurs. But Pa. Patriot wrote:

"Interesting theory. I would not be surprised. BUT, given the re-posting of the Window War story here on FR recently I think the act was genuine."

Though the rock didn't stop the Broward recount, it, and the unruly Republican activists who demonstrated both inside and outside the buildings where the recounts were going on, shocked and frightened the Democrat officials who were conducting the recount. This was push-back from the previously staid and button-down GOP of the kind that the Dems were supposed to be the masters of. It actually scared the crap out of them and gradually led to counties suspending recounts.

While the case was ultimately decided by the Supremes, the rock and the rowdy demonstrations were the tipping point.

So, did the rock through the Broward County Democratic Party window come from an activist who had read my fictional story?

We'll never know. But I'd like to think so.

Here's the thing. If our side in this existential debate had been more willing to resurrect the Sons of Liberty tactics fictionalized in The Window War, we would be less likely to be facing the civil war that Absolved describes.

On the one hand, I wrote The Window War hoping that folks would emulate it. (I later wrote a series entitled "Rock 'Em," plainly advocating the same tactics as a response to the Amnesty Bill in 2006.)

On the other, I am writing Absolved because I fear it WILL happen and am trying to provide a "useful dire warning" (in David Brin's words) so that it will NOT happen.

I don't think that Harriet Beecher Stowe set out to start a civil war, in Lincoln's phrase. (Indeed, coming from the mouth of the man who did his level best to start the thing, it was the height of hypocrisy, and hardly his only foray into blame displacement. He was fond of telling delegations of free black political and religious leaders that the war was all THEIR fault.)

Still, there is no doubt that fiction can provoke fact. You have only to read that neoNazi masturbatory fantasy titled The Turner Diaries and understand that it was the favorite book of the Aryan Republican Army pukes who carried out the Oklahoma City Bombing to recognize that novels can sometimes become history.

Personally, I think that right now would be a good time to review the Sons of Liberty tactics restated in The Window War. Breaking windows is preferable to killing folks, even if it is in righteous self defense.

Again, I pray that the bloody chain of events described in Absolved never happens. That is why I am writing it. As for The Window War? I think the Founders would understand that sometimes you have to break a little glass to get your point across to people who are taking your liberty and believing they can get away with it without consequence.


During a series of protests linked to the Sons of Liberty, colonists burn and sack the house of the Massachusetts lieutenant governor, Thomas Hutchinson.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Attempts as both tactics and strategy.

Pete has an important post here:

Get thee hence, and read. ;-)


Praxis: More on small wood-burning stoves and other field gear thoughts.


Keep me anonymous on this. I've really enjoyed your more recent praxis articles and they have provided much food for thought. Please keep em coming.

Just so happens I've been looking into small packable stoves (among other field items). There are a couple of well-regarded little wood burning stoves that are considerably smaller than the kelly kettle, thus making them packable nearly as well as a canteen cup stove, but burning wood very efficiently.

One is the Littlbug, which burns wood and also alcohol (for when you want a low smoke, low signature, fast and easy fire to heat up a meal or a hot beverage):
It comes in two sizes, the Littlbug Sr. and the Littlbug Jr.

Here is a video review of the Littlbug Jr.:

Another, that burns only wood, is the Bush Buddy.

And here is a video review of the Bush Buddy:

And here is a video showing the Bush Buddy fitting right down inside of a Snowpeak titanium 900 cup/cookpot:

The video reviews really give you a good sense of how well they work. My pick for versatility is the Littlebug since it can burn alcohol or wood. It's also just a bit over half the price of the Bush Buddy. However, the Bush Buddy is reportedly very efficient since it has a built in draft/secondary combustion system which helps it burn all the fuel more completely. I think it's referred to as a wood-gas system. I'll likely order one of each and will do a comparison once they both get here. I'll also look into the smaller of the Kelly Kettles too, with an eye toward packability.

Here's an interesting forum discussion on the merits of each, and other stoves, over at the Kifaru forums (which are a pretty good source of info on extended stay camping and hunting, and they also have a military/tactical section):

I know many guys love their multi-fuel stoves, but one can still run out of fuel, such as when out in the brush for extended time, and then what? There are few places on earth where you can't find something to burn in a wood burner, such as grass, leaves, twigs, pine cones, fences, debris from buildings, or even dung. That's why hobos have been building their own improvised wood burners out of old coffee cans for generations. I figure that even as a stove for post-disaster relief, to purify water and heat up scrounged chow, a wood burner makes sense. For a home or car kit, wear bulk is not an issue, that is where that Kelly Kettle is going to kick butt.

One other thing to consider, as a supplement to a wood burner, is the Esbit stove, which burns the small Esbit tabs.

here is one commercial light camping version:

more common are the military style square folding Esbit stoves. Both the stove and extra fuel are available on or at

An Esbit and enough fuel to last you several days of heating water can fit in your pants cargo pockets and makes a great emergency backup (in case you lose your ruck) or a low profile alternative when you don't want to risk burning wood, just like the old military trioxane fuel tabs I used to use when in the Army (and you can burn those too, in such a small stove, which is really just a stand for your canteen cup). And both the Esbit and the Trioxane tabs are great little fire starting aids, for when you are tying to get wet wood going (but so are ordinary cotton balls covered in petroleum jelly - burn for about five minutes straight!).

Still, in the reconnaissance unit I was in, we rarely ever used any fire or heat source whatsoever, and just ate our food cold (MRE or freeze dry). We would very rarely even risk the heat/smell/light signature of half a Trioxane tab under a poncho lean to, in the daylight, down at the bottom of a ravine or gully or down in a dug out scout fire-hole. Maybe that was being overcautious, but when you are out and about in a five man team trying to be undetected, we figured it is better safe, and cold, than sorry.

And on the topic of field gear, at that time back in the early 80s we rarely had the luxury of sleeping bags - just took up too much room in our rucks, what with radio batteries, water, food, binos, ammo, and other mission essential gear for a week or more in the bush. Instead we relied on Polypro long underwear, a lightweight nylon field jacket liner under our standard BDU shirt (never the field jacket, which was too heavy and bulky) wool cap, wool glove liners, wool scarf, wool socks, and then our trusty poncho liner and poncho, and that was really it! I used that setup in the forests of North Carolina at Ft. Bragg and up in the mountains and also in the woods of Western Washington State year round, rain or shine (and in Washington state, it was usually rain).

I can count on one hand the number of times we took our sleeping bags when we were going into known snow conditions. Yes, I occasionally built a debris hut stuffed with leaves and grass when we were staying put for a few days, especially when caught by unexpected snow, but most of the time we just bundled up somewhere out of the wind, preferably deep in a thicket, piled up some grass or leaves to sit or lay on, and at the most had a poncho set up as a low hooch to keep out the rain. Like the Rangers say, travel light, freeze at night. We would hole up and not move at all during the day, and then travel or go out and recon/patrol at night, and the worse the weather, the better when it came to that, as we knew the OPFOR leg pogues would tend to puss out and hide in their tents and fart sacks when the weather was foul, and even the ones out on forced guard duty would suck ass at it, hiding their faces from the weather as they went through the motions of pretending to watch. We rarely ever even brought our rain jackets and pants, since they were too noisy (you can't hear a damn thing while walking in them) and they made us sweat too much on the move, making us wet anyway. At most, we used our ponchos over ourselves and over our rucks, but those were also noisy, and so we'd usually just suck it up and get wet while moving and then change into dry cloths when we holed up again before dawn.

But now I would give serious consideration to the light weight synthetic bag systems and the gortex bivvy sacks (which cover your sleeping bag to keep the rain out, rather than using a tent or poncho hooch). Still, that bivvy sack may take up too much room when you are trying to travel light or are carrying buckoo supplies. I'd be curious to hear from guys who have used them real deal.

I also like the new improved poncho liners, such as from Wiggys:

I think the Trainer already mentioned those in response to your post on poncho liners. I have used Wiggy's sleeping bags and clothing for years and consider his gear top shelf stuff for the money.

One item to check out is his "sweater" which is really a great soft-shell insulated jacket.

I know, at $140.00 it seems expensive, but when you compare it to the prices many of the other outdoor companies charge for comparable warmth at such a light weight, it is a steal. It uses the same great insulation as his bags.

The most I ever wore while kicking around in Montana, even down to zero, was my normal shirt, long john bottoms under my normal pants, and then that Wiggys sweater and at most a windproof/waterproof shell of some kind, gloves and hat. It was like wearing an arctic parka. Often times, I was too warm.

The el cheapo version of that is to do what I did back in the Army and wear a field jacket liner under something else. There are new-style black field jacket liners out now that are made out of Polartec and they are very warm and cheap (though a bunch heavier than the liner I wore under my BDU). I picked up a few of those at the last gun show for $15.00 each. Not quite as warm as my Wiggys sweater, but close, and for the money can't be beat. And they have pit zippers so you can vent when you get hot from humping your ruck and rifle around. Or if a a guy wants something lighter, he can still find the old style green quilted nylon liner like I used, for under $20.00.

Gortex rain gear has come a long way since then, but it still makes a hell of a racket when you are trying to be quiet on the move and want to be able to hear well, so perhaps one can wear some kind of a loose fitting cotton cover over it to muffle the damn noise - I don't know.

Anyway, just some thoughts on gear. I am updating my camping gear to be more lightweight than in the past, and if I come across anything else that is worth considering, I'll pass it on.

What I'd enjoy reading a praxis on is infrared resistant clothing/covers. And also a post on what is the most effective hunting cammo for general field use.


"You can't kill ideas. But we can certainly kill you."

Ted sends us an interesting quote from science fiction, no less.

"Here's why you can't exterminate us, Aruetii. We're not huddled in one place-we span the galaxy. We need no lords of leaders-so you can't destroy our command. We can live without technology-so we can fight with our bare hands. We have no species or bloodline-so we can rebuild our ranks with others who want to join us. We're more than just a people or an army, aruetii. We're a culture. We're an idea. And you can't kill ideas-but we can certainly kill you." -Ranah The Nasst, Mandalore the Destroyer, daughter of Uvhen Chal, giving the Consul of Luon a final chance to surrender during the siege of the city.

Then he explains,

This is the historic quote to start chapter 11 of the book Star Wars: Imperial Commando: 501st. Mandalorians, Boba Fett's people, are mercenaries and soldiers and assassins and generally kick ass. Aruetii is their word for outsider and, well, not Mandalorian, similar to Japanese gaijin, as best as I can tell. Don't know how much you like sci-fi or Star Wars in particular, but thought you'd like the quote and emotion and meaning behind it.

I like Absolved, It's really gotten me to think more of how the government has gotten pushy and overbearing over the years. Hopefully the people "in charge" read it and start to think some more too.

Good luck, God bless and Happy New Year


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"Terror's Little Helpers": Ralph Peters on the "Knickers Bomber."

Blindness to Islam ties helps terrorists

by Ralph Peters

December 29, 2009

On Christmas Day, an Islamist fanatic tried to blow up an airplane whose passengers were mostly Christians. And we helped.

Our government gets no thanks for preventing a tragedy. Only the bomber's ineptitude preserved the lives of nearly 300 innocents.

How did we help Umar Abdulmutallab, a wealthy Muslim university graduate who decided that Allah wanted him to slaughter Christians on their most joyous holiday?

By continuing to lie to ourselves. Although willing -- at last -- to briefly use the word "terror," yesterday President Obama still refused to make a connection between the action, the date and Islam.

Was it just a ticketing accident that led to a bombing attempt on Christmas? Was it all about blackout dates and frequent-flyer miles?

It wasn't. You know it. And I know it. But our government refuses to know it. Despite vast databases crammed with evidence, our leaders -- of both parties -- still refuse to connect Islamist terrorism with Islam.

Our insistence that "Islam's a religion of peace" would have been cold comfort to the family members of those passengers had the bomb detonated as planned.

Abdulmutallab's own father warned our diplomats that his son had been infected by Islamist extremism. Our diplomats did nothing. Why? Because (despite a series of embassy bombings) the State Department dreads linking terrorism to Islam.

Contrast our political correctness with Abdulmutallab's choice of Christmas for his intended massacre. Our troops stand down on Muslim holidays. A captive terrorist merely has to claim that a soldier dog-eared a Koran, and it's courts-martial all around.

We proclaim that the terrorists "don't represent Islam." OK, whom do they represent? The Franciscans? We don't get to decide what's Islam and what isn't. Muslims do. And far too many of them approve of violent jihad.

It gets worse. Instead of focusing on the religious zeal and inspiration of our enemies and how such motivations change the game, our "terrorism experts" agonize over whether such beasts as Abdulmutallab or Maj. Hasan, the Fort Hood assassin for Allah, are really members of al Qaeda or not.

As a Sunday Post editorial pointed out, al Qaeda's far more than a formal organization; it's an idea, a cause. If a terrorist says he's al Qaeda, he is, even if he doesn't have a union card from Jihadi Local 632.

We're dealing with a global Muslim movement, not a Masons' lodge.

And that "global" aspect is especially worrying. Despite limited Special Operations strikes beyond our recognized combat zones, we still don't accept the nature of the threat from jet-set jihadis. Our leaders and our military are obsessed with holding ground in Afghanistan -- even though al Qaeda's growth areas are in Yemen and Africa.

We voluntarily tie ourselves down, while our enemies focus on mobility. Worse, we've convinced ourselves that development aid (the left's all-purpose medicine) is the key to defeating al Qaeda.

That's utter nonsense. Abdulmutallab's a rich kid. He didn't come from a deprived background, bearing the grievances of the slum. He's a graduate of a top English university. And Osama bin Laden's from a super-rich family. How does building a footbridge in Afghanistan deter them?

Most of our home-grown Islamist terrorists hail from middle-class families -- such monsters as Maj. Hasan or the Virginia virgin-chasers under arrest in Pakistan (where jail conditions are a lot worse than at Guantanamo -- can't we just leave 'em there?).

This isn't a revolt of the wretched of the earth. These terrorists are the Muslim-fanatic versions of Bill Ayers and the Weathermen, pampered kids unhappy with the world. Al Qaeda's big guns are re- belling against privilege. There's a lot of Freud in this fundamentalism.

Spoiled brats remade their god in their own vengeful image. And we have to kill them. This one really is a zero-sum game.

We're not just fighting men but a plague of faith. Until Washington accepts that, we'll continue to reap a low return on our investments of blood and treasure.

On Christmas Day, a Muslim fanatic attempted to butcher hundreds of Christians (dead Jews would've been a bonus). Our response? Have airport security analyze the contents of grandma's mini-bottle of shampoo -- we don't want to "discriminate."

With our lies, self-deception and self-flagellation, we're terror's little helpers.

Praxis: The Kelly Kettle

The Kelly Kettle on the boil.

My thanks to Stan for drawing my attention to the existence of the Kelly Kettle. He writes:

Top o' the morning, good Sir;

Congratulations on stirring the nest of vipers with the latest chapter. I sincerely hope the literary critics will be content to admire (or not, as the case may be) from afar.

I thought I'd mention this bit of kit, which seems to be relatively
unknown in the US:

in case you find it interesting or appropriate for the task at hand to slip into some praxis post.

I use a variation on the theme called Thermette, from New Zealand, which is a slightly modernized rendition of the old "benghazi boiler" as used by NZ troops in WW2. It is an effective bit of camping gear, boiling quite a bit of water with but a handful of twigs/leaves/etc, and very quickly at that. But the real Thermette (copper, and not a Chinese made clone) is difficult to come by and it's heavy.

These Kelly kettles seem to have a fine reputation, and they ship to the US directly from Ireland at a good discount compared to the one or two US ("unauthorized"?) distributors. They even have a stainless kettle available.

Clearly this is not something to dangle off a MOLLE vest and take into battle, but it's a handy item for an extended stay in the bush or as a dirt-simple emergency preparedness item.


How the Kelly Kettle works.

From an English campimg website product review:

The Kelly Kettle is a uniquely designed kettle originating from the west coast of Ireland. Here they have been used for over a hundred years by the ghillies (angling guides) at Lough Conn to quickly boil water using twigs, dried leaves and other bits of wood found around the lake shore as fuel for the kettle.

The kettle comprises a double-skinned wall that holds water and a central open chimney. It sits on a small aluminium base with one large aperture as an air inlet within the base, which greatly increases the draw of the fire. Because the water is held within the kettle wall it means that a large surface area of water is exposed to the heat and therefore boils very quickly.

Visiting anglers to Lough Conn were so impressed by this kettle they spread the word and now Kelly kettles have grown in popularity around the world, being used by a wide range of people. We find they are an indispensable part of equipment to have in a woodland, where there is an endless supply of fuel.

How to use a Kelly kettle:

- Remove the kettle from the base and fill with water.

- Put some tinder into the base of the kettle and light. We tend to carry a firesteel, which is a very good way of lighting a fire without matches or a lighter.

- When the tinder is lit, put the kettle back onto the base (ensuring the cork is not in) and quickly feed the fire with twigs, dry leaves, or whatever other materials you have at hand, by dropping them through the chimney. When we are in a woodland we find that the side branches of conifer trees work very well in the Kelly kettle as they are brittle and full of resin so catch light quickly, even in wet weather.

- The water should boil quickly (usually 3-5 minutes) and then you can have yourself a nice cup of tea!

Ryan Jordan at posts this review:

Rating: 4 / 5

The recent review of the Stratus Trailstove motivated me to post a review of a similar (in concept) wood burning device, the Kelly Kettle.

I've had the 1 pint Kelly Kettle for a few years. I purchased it from

The first modification I did was replace the absurdly heavy cotton bag with a SpinSack. Second, I replaced the link chain that connects the cork spoutcap to the kettle with a piece of very thin photo hanging wire.

The Kelly Kettle is not "lightweight" by our standards, and it's bulky (nature of its design: water vessel is integrated). I primarily use it for watercraft (drift boat, pontoon boat) float-camping trips, and seldom take it hiking (too bulky), although I do take it camping in the spring/fall when the focus is on basecamping). The 1 pt version does not have enough water capacity for anything but solo use.

At 13 oz, it's light enough to take on long trips in wet, cold conditions where I want to make a lot of hot brews.

Having used the Zip Stove and a variety of hobo cans, I've found the Kelly Kettle to be the best performing wood burner so far. The volcano effect really does work, and chimney throughput is outstanding. Having the chimney go up through the center of the water vessel is sheer design brilliance for maximizing heat exchange, and the Kelly Kettle does regularly give me a pint of boiled water within 4 minutes of striking the match.

I take small bits of Esbit as firestarters, which means I can pretty much use any fuel I find: twigs, leaves, cones, needles, grass. A few handfuls of reasonably dry crud off the forest floor is about all I need, with the edge given to dead pine needles. Fuel that burns FAST and hot is what you want: twigs are actually the least useful form of fuel because they burn slow.

The Kelly Kettle is very well made, has a wonderful history about it, and just plain works.

If they can lighten it up (titanium?) to 8 oz so it's measurably lighter than the Titanium Zip Stove, I'd give it a '5', as there is not much else I would do to improve it. -- Ryan Jordan

Finally, there is an excellent review of the product in a controlled test here:

Here's the irony for me: I never knew these suckers existed, even though I saw one a few months back in a thrift store here in Birmingham. Being ignorant, I passed it up for a mere $6.99! I had no idea at the time what it was and, funds as usual being short, I set it back down on the shelf. It no doubt was eagerly snatched up by somebody who knew what they were looking at. Oi veh! I just now tripped trying to kick myself in the butt.

Thanks, Stan for the Praxis suggestion.


My "thumb in their eye?": A reaction from a real leader in the fight to restore the Republic to "Fiction, Faction and 'Fuktion.'"


I received this from a fellow who also has placed everything on line in this fight.

I wonder if "they" are really foolish enough to move on you in such an extra-legal way. There are plenty of very serious people who have made it clear that if they do, it's on. Heck, I've even had people tell me that regarding myself and I don't think I have nearly as devoted and self-declared "champions" as you do (though maybe that's because I'm also not sticking my thumb in their eye as directly).

And I suspect the same goes for (redacted) and (redacted), to varying degrees.

Ironically, the bunch that is most likely to blunder in foolishly are the lawyers. I can see some pretentious Ivy League grad at DOJ deciding you need to be "investigated" to put you in your place and thus starting the ball rolling where a field agent would not, having better sense. But then what do I know? (Redacted), you used to be a prosecutor. What do you think?

It's a shame to think that, for those of us who dare to be public gadflies, what really keeps our door from being kicked in in the middle of the night, our dogs shot and MP-5s stuck in the faces of our wives and kids is no longer the rule of law and the bill of rights but rather the implied threat that rough (and competent) men will respond in spades. Tell me we are not at that point.

To which I replied, "So, you want me to lie to you? ;-) It's not the law or morality that's stopping them, that's for sure."

One other thing that I didn't tell him in response, but that I have said before in a number of ways, in a number of venues. I don't think, in the present circumstances, that Holder and Company can feel confident moving on ANY patriotic American, leader like him, scribbler like me or just plain average joe.

There will be no more free Wacos.


Their previous bad conduct has seen to that.

And they're worried about my thumb in their eye? They ain't seen nothin' yet.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Fiction, faction and "fuktion." Once more explicating the obvious to morons with guns, badges and attitudes.

This is a dictionary.

To those members of the various Three-Letter Agencies reportedly extremely upset by Chapter Thirty-Two of Absolved --

We shall begin this lesson in language with the following dictionary definitions. For the lower order of intellects among you, the dictionary is a book that tells you the meanings of things. You should try reading one sometime.

fic•tion (f k sh n) noun

a. An imaginative creation or a pretense that does not represent actuality but has been invented.
b. The act of inventing such a creation or pretense.

2. A lie.

a. A literary work whose content is produced by the imagination and is not necessarily based on fact.

b. The category of literature comprising works of this kind, including novels and short stories.

fac⋅tion [fak-shuh n] Noun Informal.

1. a form of writing or filmmaking that treats real people or events as if they were fictional or uses them as an integral part of a fictional account.

2. a novel, film, play, or other presentation in this form.

One more discussion of faction before I begin:

Faction, a neologism, in literature, describes a text as based on real historical figures, and actual events, woven together with fictitious allegations.

Faction is often disliked as confusing to people who are trying to find facts. For example, schoolchildren told to look for historical information are liable to be confused by faction.

Examples of faction

Faction is not a new phenomenon. Geoffrey of Monmouth was a successful faction writer in the 12th century, and later the historian Holinshed was led into error by treating Geoffrey of Monmouth's writings as truth.

Another example of faction is the book According to Queeney by Beryl Bainbridge. This book describes the last few years of Samuel Johnson's life as seen through the eyes of Queeney Thrale, eldest daughter of Henry Thrale and Hester Thrale. Here, the word "faction" is a portmanteau of "fact" and "fiction".

"In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote is a good example of faction and is considered to be the first piece in the genre of nonfiction novels.

Another famous example is the story of author Alex Haley and his entire family history for 9 generations in the book Roots: The Saga of an American Family. - Wikipedia.

So, here I am, minding my own business today, trying to finish Absolved, when I find out from more than one person that the latest chapter of the novel (there's another word for you to look up, boys) posted on the net has some of you government employees' knickers in a twist.

I can understand that. But please, do yourselves a favor and read over the above definitions and discussion. A NOVEL is a work of . . . class? Anybody? Anybody? That's right, Little Jimmy, FICTION. And FICTION is? Anybody? Bueller? That's right, Jody, "an imaginative creation." And FACTION is? Anybody? That's right, Eric, a work of FICTION based on FACT.

Now, when I tried to explain this to a friend of mine who called to give me the news, he agreed with my definitions, but then he said, "No, you don't understand. It isn't fiction or faction that they're going to do to you, it's FUKTION. They're PISSED!"

Now, ladies and gentlemen of the Three Letters, I can understand why you are upset. I recall quite well the chickenshit retribution you brought down on John Ross in the 90s. But insofar as legal recourse on me for writing FACTION, there's damn all you can do to me LEGALLY. Of course, y'all have a history of resorting to extra-legal actions against people you don't like, so I suppose some of you might be tempted now.

So, having explained the English language to you, if you still feel froggy, you're welcome to try.

This is what we call a gambit. (You can look that up in the dictionary, too.)

Your move, morons.

Mike Vanderboegh

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Absolved, Chapter 32. Ten Thousand Lawyers, Part Three.

Judy Garland Singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" in Meet Me in Saint Louis.

“Make no mistake, it's not revenge he's after. It's a reckonin'.” – Doc Holliday discussing Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, 1993.

“Have yourself a merry little Christmas” -- Vignettes from a Reckoning.

Judy Garland was very popular that year. Someone had re-released a collection of all the best songs from the singer’s heyday, digitally re-mastered and enhanced by some new process. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” went to the top of the charts, its songs of love and longing newly popular in a time of economic chaos and impending war, much as they had been in a similar time in the Thirties and Forties.

As the end of the year approached, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” first sung by Judy in 1943 in the middle of the worst war of the Twentieth Century, was playing everywhere – the radio, elevators, and all the new methods of delivering music on demand.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light . . .

In the end, Sam Montrose convinced Wiley Fortner. They did San Francisco first.

Jessica Hartnet stopped for some French bread on her way home from a long day at the federal building. Unmarried, frumpy, with few things that interested her beyond her career, she lived alone. She was humming Judy Garland’s Christmas carol when she disarmed the security system and came in her apartment front door. Sam Montrose was waiting on the stairs to the right of the door in the dark. The moment she closed the door, his hand clamped across her mouth and stifled the scream, the Welrod stuck in her right side angled at her heart. She struggled briefly, but Sam’s iron grip and the Welrod persuaded her to stop.

Mike had told him to simply shoot her in the head without preamble, but Montrose couldn’t do it. He had to let her know why she was dying, forensics be damned.

Jessica Hartnet was so frightened by this hard apparition that had come from nowhere that her bladder let go. She didn’t really hear Montrose the first time when he asked her name in confirmation. He didn’t have to, of course, he had memorized her face. But he wanted her to know this wasn’t random. It was a reckoning.

So he said it again. “Miz Hartnet?” This time she nodded as well as she could under Sam’s left hand.

“Bill Twombley sent me.”

Her eyes grew wide, and something exploded her heart. The last thing she remembered before the dark was a lizard hissing. The head shot was superfluous, but required by protocol.

They didn’t find her body until Tuesday because, frankly, nobody missed her.

About three hours later, Mike Smith shot Thomas Oliphant in the head without a word as he lay sleeping that night. No explanation was necessary as far as Mike was concerned. He too was unmarried and had made no weekend plans. He also was not missed.

So much for San Francisco.

Next year all our troubles will be
out of sight

Sam Montrose wanted to tell Harriet Farqhuar of the Fish and Wildlife Service why she was dying too, but it was not to be. Like clockwork, she ran down near the shore of Whidbey Island every morning by the same predictable path. So it was on Saturday. The window of opportunity for the shot was narrow and was decided by the location of a particular cleft in the rocks. The attorney who cared more for wolves than people never heard or saw a thing, the shot coming from behind as she listened to Judy Garland on her iPod. Although her boyfriend reported her missing, they didn’t find her body until Wednesday, somewhat crab-eaten, the weather having been cold and foul, which discouraged passers-by.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yule-tide gay

Sam Montrose had been right. They were able to do Denver Saturday night. Well, actually, it was early Sunday morning. People are all creatures of habit. They usually go the same places at the same times for the same reasons. Thomas Dunphy, for example, was in the habit of closing the bar at the Shamrock and Crown Tavern on Saturday night and weaving his way home to his loft apartment in downtown Denver. He staggered into the private elevator and, just before the door closed, Sam Montrose stepped in.

“Hey!” slurred Dunphy, “Whathehellyouthinkyerdoing?”

Montrose smiled.

“Relax, Tom, you just looked like you needed some help.”


“Sure, Tom. I’m Sam Montrose. We met at the ABA seminar here last year. You said to drop by if I ever needed anything.”

The elevator stopped, the door opened. Judy Garland was singing on the Muzak.

“Idon’t’memberyouman. . .Youalawyer?Igottagetsomesleepnowcallmetomorrow.”

“OK, Tom, let me get you in the door. You got your key?”

That was one thing, drunk as he was, that Thomas Dunphy did have. Whenever he went out on a Saturday night, he put his key on an elastic cord around his neck.

“Shuregotitrighthere.” He fumbled at his coat front.

“Here,” said Sam, “I’ll get it.”

Montrose reached in, retrieved the key and unlocked the door, ushering Dunphy into his own place.

“Thanksman,” said Dunphy, staggering as he always did toward the couch.

“No problem,” said Sam, as he produced the Welrod and shot Dunphy in the back of the head. The fed lawyer collapsed head down (what was left of his head) over the back of the couch, his feet in the air, twitching. It looked for all the world like he was dancing.

“No problem at all,” said Montrose as he turned and left the apartment, locking the door behind him. The elevator was still playing Judy Garland when he took it to the ground floor.

Next year all our troubles will be
miles away

Judy Garland was not singing when the U.S. attorney who had approved the raid on Harlan Smith’s house died by Mike Smith’s hand. As he had feared this day, Duncan Phelps had memorized the faces of the Smith brothers and he was armed with a Smith & Wesson .38 revolver in his pocket. Neither of these things helped him as he was shot in the face carrying out the garbage. He had decided not to go into work today after hearing of the killings in DC. This did not help him either. His wife, who hadn’t heard a thing, found him shortly afterward, collapsed over a trash bag. After her crying jag subsided some hours later, she realized that this would relieve her of the stress of the divorce she had planned to file. Now, she realized, she wouldn’t have to split a dime with the sonofabitch. After that insight she began sobbing again, but perhaps not so much as before.

Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore

The days, the lack of sleep, alternating the controls as they drove or flew, the tension of the kills, the expended adrenaline, the highs and lows, it was all taking a toll on them. That, plus everything so far had gone like clockwork. It was easy to get slack and despite their best efforts, they did, just when they couldn’t afford it. It almost got Montrose killed. Almost.

Patrick Michael Daley wasn’t related to THE Chicago Daley’s but he often let people make that assumption. It certainly hadn’t hurt his career in federal service. The principal legal facilitator of Operation Clean Sweep in the Midwest, Daley knew he was on somebody’s list, knew that there had been killings of federal attorneys in Washington DC all weekend, and had just heard of the death of the slightly lamented Duncan Phelps in Wisconsin. The manpower demands of Clean Sweep caused his demand for a full retinue of bodyguards be pared down to two U.S. Marshals, one of them very green, although Daley did not know that.

When he met them in the lobby, he complained, “Is this all of you?”

“Yes, sir,” said Trent Comstock, the older and more experienced of the two. “We’re all that was available. But don’t worry, sir, we’ll get you home safe. The Suburban is right outside. If you will, sir, let’s get going.”

Daley just grunted, but walked out the door with the two marshals.

The trip home was uneventful, just usual Chicago rush hour traffic in the slush and snow. The younger agent at the wheel, a young black man named Arlen White, had the radio on. Judy Garland, again.

“Turn that shit off,” ordered Daley. “I’m so sick of that song I could puke.”

White quickly punched it off. Silence reigned in the SUV, apart from the road noise, although White swore he could almost hear Daley’s temper flaring in the quiet. What an asshole, the young marshal thought.

It was well after dark by the time they got to the gated mansion. Daley produced a remote for the wrought-iron, reinforced gate. A snowplow was working this side of the side of the street, but they were well out of its way on the driveway pad.

The gate did not swing.

Daley pushed the button again.


Daley pulled out his cell phone to call the house just as the Chicago municipal snowplow slammed into the right back quarter panel of the Suburban and drove it violently into the brick wall that flanked the gate, half crushing the ass end of the vehicle. The fuel tank ruptured, gas running out in a river, although no one noticed it as Marshal Comstock emerged from the front passenger door, firing an MP-5 at the cab, windshield and passenger side door of the snowplow in short, controlled bursts, although he couldn’t see the driver.

That was because Mike Smith had unbuckled his seat belt instantly after the crash and leaped out the driver’s side door to the street and ran around the back. In any situation, the advantage goes to the guy who knows what’s about to happen. As Montrose pulled up in a white van from the other direction, Mike pulled the shoulder-stocked suppressed MAC-10 into his shoulder and loosed a four round burst that hit the marshal, running up his vest and into his throat and lower jaw. He was dead before he hit the ground.

Marshal White skidded across the front seat and popped out next to the falling Comstock and took four more center chest.

Daley was shouting incoherently when Mike moved up to the Suburban and emptied the clip into the glass. No glass, however advertised, is “bullet-proof.” This stuff was bullet resistant, but when twenty-two 230-grain forty-fives hit any glass in roughly the same place in the space of a few seconds, it is going to give. Thus it was that the window did not save Daley.

As Mike changed magazines, Montrose moved forward to administer the coup de grace with the Welrod. He should have made sure of White first. Concentrating on the vehicle, he didn’t even notice as the young marshal recovered from the mule kick in his chest that had almost stopped his heart through the ballistic vest he wore and raised his pistol to kill the advancing lawyer.

Mike spotted the motion by the dim glow of the entrance lights and hosed the marshal’s prone figure as he lay on his back, his pistol in the air. Arlen White died, there in the snow and slush, protecting a criminal who acted under the color of the law. He died trying to protect a man who he thought, rightly so, was an asshole. As he died -- as his arm fell down -- he loosed one last round reflexively as his brain tried to react to its changed condition. The muzzle flash ignited the gas, and the exploding vapor blew Sam Montrose back and down, skidding in the slush, the concussion taking his senses.

Patrick Michael Daley, shot three times in the chest and shoulder but not quite dead, protected as he had been by the structure of the SUV from the blast, now wished fervently that he was as the flames licked around him and burned him to perdition. Burned him, indeed, to his reckoning.

Sam Montrose came to somewhere on the other side of Midlothian. He was lying on the back floor of the panel van, rocking to and fro, his head a ringing universe of pain.

Sam groaned as the van hit a bump going into an old warehouse where some anonymous friend of Wiley Fortner had stashed their next ride.

“Hey!” yelled Mike, as he looked around the partition into the back, “You’re alive!”

Sam just groaned again.

He tried to sit up, failed, and fell back hitting his head. Oh, my aching ass, Mary, the Blessed mother of Jesus, Son of the Living God, please make this pain stop. The van came to halt and then, Mike Smith rolled back the side door.

“Hey, buddy, look, you’re concussed, okay? Don’t try to sit up just yet. You woke up right after I dragged your ass to the van and bundled you in, about fifteen minutes or so down the road. I think you’ve just been sleeping off the last few days since then. You remember waking up before?”

Sam didn’t want to move his head, he just groaned, “No.”

“All right, well, look, we’ve got a sedan here for the next leg so you can put the front seat way back and lay down more comfortably than here in this van. I’ve got some Tylenol Threes here for you. Don’t move for now, just take the pills with this soda.”

Mike dropped the pills into Sam’s mouth and provided a straw. He drank, swallowed the pills, and then drank deeply again. It was flat, it was delicious. He finished it off until the cup made a slurping sound.

“Good,” said Mike, “That’s good. Let those take hold a little and we’ll get you to the car.”

Sam slept most of the way to Saint Louis. He stayed in the motel while Mike went out and did the last job himself. “Piece of cake,” he told Sam afterward.

When Sam felt ready, they made their way home, back to the nation’s capitol where all hell had broken loose, if the talking heads were to be believed.

For once, they weren’t exaggerating.

Faithful friends who were dear to us
Will be near to us once more

Hunan Dynasty on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.: Senator Charlie Schumer's favorite restaurant.

Tom McCallister and Frank Han flipped for the honor of executing the White House deputy counsel. Frank Han won.

The altering of his facial lines to beat the FBI’s recognition software was old hat by now, and he elected to be his favorite assassination character, an old Chinese man. When Carleton Harmer met him in the restroom of Senator Charles Schumer’s favorite restaurant, the Hunan Dynasty on Pennsylvania Avenue, he mistook Han for one of the upscale eatery’s managers. As always that season, Judy Garland was singing out of the speakers in the wall.

As he washed up next to him, the old Chinese man said something unintelligible to Harmer that he couldn’t quite make out. It didn’t sound Chinese.

“What was that you said?”

The Chinese man turned to him and bowed slightly.

“It was a Turkish proverb.”

“Yes? What does it mean,” Harmer asked as he dried his hands.

“It means, ‘one hour in the execution of justice is worth seventy years of prayer.’”

“Oh, uh, that’s nice,” said the White House counsel as he turned to go.

“No, it’s not,” said Han, as he stuck a knife into the back of Harmer’s skull, driving upwards through the medulla oblongata and “scrambling his eggs” in a manner Charlie Quintard would have recognized.

McCallister materialized out of a stall and caught the dead man from the front as he fell. He dragged him into the stall and propped him up on the john, while Han cleaned his knife on a towel, returned it to its sheath, then folded the towel gory side in and tucked it in his pocket. Catching the latch in a curious piece of bent wire, McCallister closed the stall door and locked it.

They left, one after the other. The guy with diarrhea in the far stall heard it all and never thought a thing about it. Turkish, huh? Boy, the things you hear in a DC washroom.

When he washed up and left, he didn’t notice the dead man behind the stall door. About an hour later, however, he was telling the Secret Service about the Turkish terrorist who had killed the White House deputy counsel.

One day soon, we all will be together
If the Fates allow

People's Republic of China Type 67 Silenced Pistol.

They lost Mark Smith on the first job of his team’s assigned list -- the General Counsel of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It happened because the original plan to take him when he left Main Justice that day with his bodyguards went south when the Fibbies varied the exit and the route. They knew where they could catch up with him, and they also knew that if they didn’t get him there, they’d never have another easy chance at him, if at all.

Dobbin didn’t like improvisations, didn’t like the idea and knew it would turn into a personal disaster for one or both of them. “It’ll be like the goddam Wild Bunch in there, and there’s only two of us. What about the other jobs? “

“Screw ‘em. They won’t count for anything after this. Besides, two of the others on the list will be there, too. It’s a three-fer.”

“What about the guy you really want to kill? Because of your Dad? What about him?”

Mark Smith hesitated. “Fortner will make sure of him. Him above all. He won’t live out the week, even if I don’t make it.”

Dobbin had a choice. He could walk away right now, or he could back his partner’s play. The smart thing to do was walk away, dragging Mark Smith with him. Yet. . . He knew he couldn’t walk away. The idea made sense, in a crazy, suicidal sort of way. God knows the publicity would be ferocious. If they were interested in scaring the hell out of government lawyers, this would do it like nothing else. Walk away, his brain screamed.


He would go, although he was sure he would die.

He sighed.

“We’d better bring all the mags.”

Mark Smith grinned. “Look, we go in, you cover me from the kitchen door while I go from table to table until we’ve got ‘em all. Then we boogie out the way we came.”

“There’ll be guards on the loading dock. FBI and hotel security,” Dobbin warned.

“Don’t worry, they’ll be easy.”

“Yeah, right,” muttered Dobbin.

“The immediate area is one of the most patrolled areas by DC Metro.”

“Yeah, I know. It’ll work.”

“Yeah, right.”

“It’ll work.”

It sounded more like a prayer than anything to Dobbin. OK, so let it work.

“All, right,” he said. “I’m in.”

Then, after a pause, “We’d better use the cop uniforms.”

“Good idea!” Now Mark sounded genuinely enthusiastic.

“C’mon, Raven,” said Mark Smith, “Let’s go kill us some big ass gubmint lawyers.”

The Office of General Counsel (OGC) provides high quality, timely, and comprehensive advice to the Director, other FBI officials and divisions, and field offices on all aspects of law, particularly in the areas of national security law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, criminal investigative law, forfeiture law, information law and policy, procurement and contracting law, fiscal law and policy, and all areas of litigation to which the FBI is involved.
In addition to providing legal advice as requested, OGC reviews the legal sufficiency of sensitive Title III affidavits, ensures that electronic surveillance techniques are used in compliance with the FISA, and supports federal criminal prosecutions. OGC coordinates the defense of the FBI and its employees in civil actions which arise out of the FBI's investigative mission and personnel matters. OGC also provides quality legal training for the FBI, the National Academy, and other law enforcement groups. – FBI Employment Manual.

The OGC Christmas party was held at the Capitol Hilton dining room that year. In keeping with the degraded security situation around the country, security would be tight, the guest list pared down to something manageable in the smallish venue. This would be just for the OGC brass and those of their significant others who wished to come. Not many did. Indeed, the wife of the head of the FISA Unit of OGC persuaded him at the last minute to stay home. He later would be grateful for her paranoia.

Still, it was downtown DC, in the middle of a capitol security apparatus whose every antennae was quivering, apprehending trouble. What could happen? Who would dare try anything at the Capitol Hilton?

A couple of ex-special operations guys pissed off at what had become of their country, that’s who.

The loading dock WAS easy. The uniforms and bulky winter coats of the DC police helped. They lulled the sentries and concealed the heavy artillery beneath. Dobbin was in the lead.

An FBI man held out his hand palm out indicating they should stop. “There’s a special event going on inside.”

“Yeah we know,” said Dobbin, “The FBI General Counsel’s Office Christmas party. We’ve been assigned as back-up.”

The FBI man relaxed, but only partly. “You two got ID?”

“Sure,” said Dobbin, and he reached into his coat, brought his out. So did Mark Smith. The names were phony, but the pictures and the cards were authentic. Nothing but the best for Wiley Fortner’s boys.

The FBI man peered at them, and again at their faces.

“Uh, OK, but just stand out here if you want. The inside is secure. We’ve got it handled.”

“Sure,” agreed Dobbin, “Nothin’ but another waste of time in the cold.” Smith blew on his hands, which positioned them near the top of his open overcoat.

The Fibbie looked at him sourly. “You know, there’s a whole lot of shit going on around this country if you haven’t noticed. So this is no ‘waste of time.’”

The Fibbie turned to go back inside. “Yeah it is,” said Smith to his back, then pulled one of Wiley Fortner’s gun collection samples from his coat, a Type 67 ChiCom integrally-silenced pistol, and put a 7.65mm slug in the Fibbie’s face as he turned around to argue. The other Fibbie came next, but he and the hotel dick were already down, courtesy of head shots from Fred Dobbins’ similar Type 63.

No time for hiding the corpses. This was a straight in blitz. The kitchen help stood where they were or got out of the way as what looked like two DC cops pushed their way inside. Dobbin, the bigger of the two, was in the lead. He kept saying “Excuse, us, folks,” as they encountered people just doing their jobs. There was a protective detail of two at the door leading to the Capitol Hilton dining room. They were bored, but alert. Cops? Their gun hands went inside their coats.

Fred Dobbin held out his hands where they could see them, one of them holding his DC Police ID, a smile on his face. Both of the protective detail, had their hands on their weapons, but the uniforms, the ID and the smile gave them pause for a half-second, long enough for Fred to suddenly turn to the side, revealing Mark Smith with his Type 67 who shot them both in the forehead before either could clear leather. They collapsed like sacks.

The waiter following in their wake with the Beef Wellington shouted in horror, dropped his tray with a crash and ran. Screams erupted behind them as they pushed through the swinging doors to the dining room beyond.

The people at the long tables immediately in front of the door would have had their backs to them, but the crash and the screams had them turning when Dobbin and Smith came into the room with suppressed MAC-10 submachineguns up and ready. One of the legal luminaries, the head of the Counterintelligence Law Unit, was pulling his own pistol when Mark Smith shot him with a short burst, and then, plans out the window, began firing in the target-rich environment, concentrating on the men.

Dobbin joined him, sweeping to the left, killing the General Counsel, the heads of the Counterterrorism Law Units I & II and the National Security Law Policy and Training Unit. Bodyguards in the rear tried to engage them, but were knocked aside by the stampede out the main doors and into the lobby beyond. Judy Garland was singing there, too, but couldn’t be heard over the pandemonium.

By the time the crowd had cleared, the shooters were gone, back the way they came.

Out the doors, down the dock and around the corner to the car, they had almost made it when a DC Metro unit pulled to a stop in the street and challenged them.

There was a shootout.

The DC cops lost it, but not before one of them put a slug in Mark Smith’s right thigh. It nicked the femoral artery. He was dead before the car got across the Key Bridge, the passenger side floor awash in his blood.

Behind them, counting the guards and the cops, they left fourteen dead. There were no wounded, which spoke to the Unit’s disciplined accuracy. Of the seven dead at the head table, only one was a spouse. The rest were the cream of the federal lawyerly priesthood.

The head of the FISA Unit, having been saved by his wife’s “paranoia” -- as he thought at the time -- was offered the acting General Counsel’s job. He not only turned it down, he quit his own and took his family to upper New York state where his wife’s parents had a farm where he lived, nervously, for some years afterward.

Hundreds of other federal lawyers followed his career choice, quitting their jobs as soon as it became clear that the real wages of their government paycheck might be death under the Law of Unintended Consequences. The federal regulatory enforcement machine ground to a screeching halt. Tens of thousands of court cases, enforcement actions, civil forfeitures and investigations were stopped in their tracks. Federal judges quit too, by the dozens, electing to get out of the line of fire until this Fourth Generation civil war was settled, one way or the other.

The war would go on, of course, without the lawyers. But increasingly it would be a war without the mask of legal fiction or pretense of legitimacy. It would be a war of the government against its people. Force on force. What the administration did next in Alabama sealed that truth in amber and presented it for the entire world to see. But that process began with the execution of an idea that two lawyers had, sitting in a Starbucks, when they decided to target their own oath-breaking brethren.

Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

Epilogue: A Reckoning With Mark Smith’s Ghost.

With Mark Smith dead and Dobbin’s face on every television screen, it was left to the other two DC teams to split up the target list, although some of them had simply disappeared after what the state-run media were calling “the Capitol Hilton Massacre.”

Wiley Fortner and Big Jon Thompson drew Mark Smith’s favorite target. Smith had been right. Fortner could not let this one get away.

They had stalked the man for two weeks when they finally arranged a meeting in an elevator.

William T. “Little Willy” McCann no longer believed he was untouchable, but he wouldn’t quit either. Actually, he was thinking about making an agency change for the better. With so many vacancies, what couldn’t a man who knew how to keep his head in crisis do for himself?

McCann now knew that Mark Smith was dead. His body had been found, delivered to a funeral home in Oshkosh. The FBI seized it “for forensic purposes,” and later cremated it, having learned nothing, but preventing Mark’s burial next to his father.
But something told him that Mark's ghost would somehow reach out and get him, for it was he, William McCann, who also had a hand in Harlan Smith’s death. That ghost would probably take the form of his brother Mike, and McCann, nervous as cat, watched for his arrival every minute of every day. He never went anywhere without a weapon, but somehow he knew that wouldn’t be enough.

But he wouldn’t quit. There was opportunity within his reach, or so he thought when the elevator door closed on him and two other men in a Georgetown apartment building.

Judy Garland was singing.

A new secretary, not believing the stories, had invited him up for “an evening at home.” He was about to get vicariously laid again, and so he pushed his fear to the back of his mind and thought with anticipation about the pulchritude that awaited him on the fourth floor.

He only got to three, actually, three and a quarter, when the seedy old man bundled in a tattered overcoat reached out and pushed the stop button. Strangely, the alarm didn’t ring. His hand went to his pocket where he kept the small automatic, but the big man to his right grabbed his arm before he could get there and slammed him up against the elevator wall and held him there, face into the paint and filigree, his arm twisted tight behind his back. The old man, with a strange light in eyes, relieved him of the pistol.

“My,” he said, “isn’t that cute?” said Wiley Fortner as he pocketed it.

McCann, thoroughly frightened by the turn of events, realized he was never going to make it to the fourth floor. But the old man gave him hope.

“OK, McCann, we’re going to let you go now. Keep your hands where we can see them and turn around slowly.”

The big man released him. For the first time McCann got a good look at him. Funny, he looked like a lawyer. The old man, on the other hand, looked like death.

McCann decided to try to bluster. “Who the hell do you think you are?”

“Me?” the old man said mildly. “Why I’m your recusationer.”

“What?” said McCann, not sure he’d heard right.

“I said, I’m your recusationer, asshole.” Then, speaking to big man, he said, “Recuse his ass.”

When the Big Jon finished with the sixteen round magazine of the RAB, pumping one silent round at a time, there wasn’t much left recognizable of William T. “Little Willy” McCann. The flying brass was caught in a soft cloth brass catcher attached to the ejection port, where it tinkled with each round.

The blood pooled quickly and the men stepped back toward the door to avoid it.

The old man pulled out the stop button and the elevator began to ascend once more. Pulling out a small paint brush with his gloved hand, he daubed it in McCann’s blood and painted “TOUCHABLE” in big letters on the side of the elevator. He then daubed again and added the final touch “Sincerely, Harlan and Mark Smith.” He threw the paint brush on the floor.

The elevator door opened. The secretary would be disappointed, but then, she would have been anyway.

Big Jon Thompson and Wiley Fortner made their way out of the building by the way they came in, the fire escape. There would be no surveillance pictures of them.

As they departed, Big Jon said to the old assassin, “You’re one twisted bastard, Wiley, you know that?”

Wiley Fortner just shrugged. “I always did like DePalma films.”

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Absolved, Chapter 32. Ten Thousand Lawyers, Part Two.


I've decided to cut the second part in two as well, so there will be a third part tomorrow. Sort of like the Twelve Days of Christmas, thing. ;-) Enjoy.


“Recusationers of the permanent, involuntary sort.”

Recusal - (law) the disqualification of a judge, attorney or jury by reason of prejudice or conflict of interest; a judge can be recused by objections of either party or judges can disqualify themselves. – Webster’s Dictionary

When United States Attorneys, or their offices, become aware of an issue that could require a recusal in a criminal or civil matter or case as a result of a personal interest or professional relationship with parties involved in the matter, they must contact General Counsel's Office (GCO), EOUSA. The requirement of recusal does not arise in every instance, but only where a conflict of interest exists or there is an appearance of a conflict of interest or loss of impartiality. A United States Attorney who becomes aware of circumstances that might necessitate a recusal of himself/herself or of the entire office, should promptly notify GCO, EOUSA, at (202) 514-4024 to discuss whether a recusal is required. – United States Attorney’s Manual 3-2.170

As Montrose and Thompson cross-trained on the Welrod and the RAB, their appreciation of the genius of the designers of both weapons grew apace.

The Welrod, after all, was a seventy year old piece of hardware, but its deadly utility was still obvious. But it was Ramsis A. Bear who drew most of their admiration. He had taken the Welrod to a higher plane. It was difficult to do repeat shots on the same target with the Welrod held in one hand, working the action awkwardly from the rear with the other, the muzzle wavering. The RAB, on the other hand had no such problem, especially when used with the stock. The weapon was up, pointed at the target, at all times and as they practiced their ability to do rock-solid single-shots improved.

The greatest difficulty had been, as the designer had warned with those three little words engraved on the side of the weapon, holding the RAB on target in burst fire. Gradually they learned trigger control, using short bursts, and became more proficient, although they wished for a semi-auto position on the selector.

When they asked Wiley Fortner about it, he replied, “Yeah, I know. I suppose it’s my fault. I didn’t ask him for one. If I had, I’m sure he would have provided it. He can invent damn near anything within the laws of metallurgy and physics.”

The next day, a Saturday, dawned crisp and clear. Christmas was coming in a few weeks. Their wives thought they’d gone hunting in West Virginia, but today they would meet the Unit.

They ranged in age from 30 down to 23. All had been in some special operations unit of one branch or another. All had come to the attention of Wiley Fortner over the past few years through friends, gossips, or sometimes headlines. Two were deserters. One had been spectacularly courtmartialed and given a dishonorable discharge for refusing the current administration’s orders regarding Operation Clean Sweep.

He had been represented by the firm of Montrose and Thompson.

“Tommy!” exclaimed Big Jon Thompson when he saw the ex-SEAL. “I might have known I’d find you here. How’ve you been keeping?”

Tom McCallister grinned as they embraced.

“Busy, Big Jon. Busy.”

Thompson grew subdued.

“Yeah, I heard.”

“Been spending a lot of time in general’s bathrooms from what I hear,” said Montrose, as he shook the hand of the Unit’s leader.

The room erupted in general hilarity, some of it obscene.

Fortner intervened.

“Gentlemen, I’d like you to meet my two favorite lawyers, Sam Montrose and Jonathan Thompson. Don’t hold the fact that they’re lawyers against them though. They’re the exception that proves the rule.”

‘You two know Tommy McCallister there. And I’m sure you’ve heard of the two most notorious deserters from the U.S. Army. This is the absconding duo known as Smith and Smith. One of ‘em is named Mark and the other’s named Mike, but I can’t keep track of ‘em so I’ll leave you to figure it out.”

They were both remarkably alike, probably because they were brothers. Early in Operation Clean Sweep, the ATF had kicked in the door of their father’s home in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Being as Harlan Smith was an old man in his late sixties who had lived alone since his second wife had died some years before, the ATF had only brought ten raiders to the party.

It wasn’t enough.

Not only was Harlan Smith an Army veteran and a serious combat shooter in his day, but his son Mark was home on leave from Afghanistan. When the gun cops shot the barking dogs, it was enough warning.

Oh, they killed old Harlan Smith all right, but only after he put four of them down with his M-1 Garand. Mark got the rest, and finished each wounded man carefully with a shot to the head, demonstrating the marksmanship skills taught him in turn by his Dad and then by the instructors of the United States government.

He was on the run after that, joined by his brother Mike who deserted after their father’s funeral. Wiley Fortner had found them, with the help of an old friend in Alabama, in the mysterious way of retired spooks. Fortner gave them shelter, and in time, a way to vent their revenge.

“I’m Mike,” said one, extending his hand to Sam Montrose.

“That makes me Mark,” said the other, extending his as well in turn.

Unspoken was the fact that Mike had earned the Distinguished Service Cross in Afghanistan and Mark had won the Silver Star in Iraq. Between them they had three Purple Hearts.

In their ignorance, the ATF had simply picked on the wrong the people.

“By the way,” Mike added, “The way I look at it, I didn’t desert the United States government. It deserted me, and a whole lot of other people, including my Dad.”

Montrose, knowing the vast hurt behind those words, could only nod.

“And of these other two rascals, that’s Staff Sergeant Fred Dobbin on the right, there. He’s a former Air Force Phoenix Raven team member, graduate of the Army sniper school and damn glad he doesn’t have to wear his asinine reflective belt over his asinine blue ABU’s anymore when he goes home to Detroit. He’s the only one of this crowd who wasn’t forced out of the service. He just got tired of the bullshit and refused to re-up.”

Montrose and Thompson didn’t get the reflective belt and “ABU” references but they laughed with the rest of the Unit anyway.

Wiley Fortner continued, “On the left is Major Frank Han, ex-Army intelligence officer, born in Hong Kong, fluent in six languages and can get around in two or three more. He took an early discharge rather than face a GCM for refusing to obey an order to assist some Brightfire mercenaries on a mission of dubious legality. Dobbin and Han are our tokens in case the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission comes knocking.”

To Montrose and Thompson, they all looked hard as nails. As hard, in fact, as they had been at that age as young light infantrymen.

Fortner indicated with a cough and a wave of his hand that they should take their seats. Then he began with the nuts and bolts of the list, which he had written on a blackboard behind him.

“Gentlemen, we are no longer in the accident business. This mission requires spectacular, targeted and gory wet work and the more publicity the better. Misters Montrose and Thompson have an idea that with two dozen assassinations of prominent attorneys in federal service that we can panic the rest and bring prosecutions by the administration in Operation Clean Sweep and several other oppressive federal programs to a screeching halt. This plan certainly has the advantage of targeting the guilty. There isn’t a person on this list who hasn’t committed treason of one form or another. Each man or woman is responsible for putting innocents in jail, having them killed in bogus raids or seizing property under false pretenses. The ATF counsel who signed off on the Phil Gordon raid is on this list, as is the member of the White House Counsels office who pushed both the current prosecution of the Governor and Attorney General of Alabama and the removal of the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the other Chiefs. In fact, the folks who have been found accidentally dead at our hands these past months all met with him before they signed their own death warrants. Removing him from the scene puts a cap on that mission. Questions so far?”

Mike Smith asked, “Sir, I understand the White House counsel and the attorneys involved in the Clean Sweep agencies, but why people from the Bureau of Land Management, the EPA and Fish and Wildlife Service?”

Sam Montrose spoke up, “Sir, I’d like to answer that since I’m responsible for putting them on.”

“Go ahead,” agreed Wiley Fortner.

Montrose stood up and turned to face Mike Smith.

“Sergeant, Ms. Hartnet of the BLM conducted a blatantly outrageous and unconstitutional prosecution of a rancher named Bill Twombley in western Washington state until she backed him into a financial corner and he lost the ranch that had been in his family’s possession for five generations. The reason? A dispute over grazing rights that the federal government had previously agreed were his, but that Ms. Hartnet felt were no longer. And her real reason? She was friends with a certain Hollywood star who wanted the property for her own possession. Badgered to distraction and faced with what the feds like to call an ‘economic Waco,’ Bill Twombley shot himself. Bottom line, she violated her oath. She should have recused herself and didn’t.”

Mike Smith nodded his understanding.

“Thomas Oliphant, the EPA attorney, perpetrated a similar public fraud on a little old widow lady, Mrs. Hannah Parsons, who lived near a wetlands. He dispatched a dynamic entry team to ‘seize evidence’ in the case. She died of a heart attack after she was thrown to the floor of her living room and handcuffed behind her back.”

“I remember that one,” said Fred Dobbin, “I’ll volunteer to do him.”

Montrose nodded and then continued, “Harriet Farqhuar of the Fish and Wildlife Service prosecuted a Wyoming rancher for shooting a wolf that was attacking his cows. She succeeded in putting Stan Williams in federal prison where he was shanked and killed resisting a gang rape. When informed of that by William’s defense attorney, she merely commented, ‘Well, he shouldn’t have shot the wolf.’ I know this because the defense attorney told me personally of the case and its outcome. He was crying when he told me.”

Montrose paused, and scanned around the room, looking for doubters.

“But there’s one other, larger reason for putting them on the list. They belong to agencies not directly involved in Operation Clean Sweep. By killing them we send the message to every attorney in federal service and bring ALL of their prosecutions to a screeching halt when the rest of them bolt. This is a goodness thing.”

They all laughed, being fans of John Ringo’s novels.

“By doing this we also reduce the available pool of federal attorneys from non-Clean Sweep agencies to be transferred into the ATF and FBI to fill gaps previously created, both by assassination and resignation. Jon and I KNOW these people. We’ve rubbed elbows with them for years, faced off against them in court, we know what makes them tick. Gentlemen, we’re convinced that killing these 23 criminals with law degrees will cause chaos in the system of legal tyranny that they’ve helped create. Considering all the death and chaos they’ve created, it seems like simple justice to us.”

Wiley Fortner interrupted.

“It’s an even two dozen now Sam. Look at the board. Mike and Mark Smith have added a US Attorney in Wisconsin. They did this for what I consider to be valid reasons. I’m sure you will too.”

Fortner didn’t ask if there were other questions or concerns about the target list, but merely moved immediately to the tasking and logistical problems.

“Gentlemen, the biggest problem is that there are two dozen targets spread across the country and only eight of us. The geography alone is very problematic. I considered bringing more help, but frankly with the addition of Sam and Jon we’re pushing the outer envelope of operational security as it is. Consequently we will be forced to work in two-man teams.”

“Now, as most of the targets are in the DC area and we want to make them dead as close together time-wise as possible to prevent them from taking countermeasures when they realize that it is lawyers like themselves who are targeted, I’m assigning three teams to the District, with one team to take care of the seven targets in the West and Midwest.”

“This is a big stretch, but because the one in Denver and the two in San Francisco can probably be done on a Friday and Saturday and not discovered missing until Monday morning, that will give the team driving time from San Fran to Seattle. When the one in Seattle is hit, probably on Sunday afternoon, I doubt the ones in the Midwest will hear about the non-DC actions until Monday, which will give us a chance at them before they’re motivated to change habits. The DC actions will be all over the airwaves, hopefully with a little ‘claim of responsibility’ that only mentions the District, the others won’t feel too pressed to do something until it is too late.

After Seattle, the team will fly by private plane to Chicago, drive to Wisconsin, drive back to Chicago and then on to Saint Louis. Since Mike has his pilot’s license and a stake in the Des Moines action, I am giving him this assignment, which is the trickiest and toughest of all. Sam,” Fortner turned to Montrose, “you will be Mike’s backup.”

Both Smiths were instantly and visibly upset. Fortner cut them off.

“Look, guys, you two together are just too recognizable. You’re both on the run, and Mark is on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. I know you guys are getting good at disguises but the answer is still no, partly because Mark can’t fly and Sam can. Also, Sam can make up perfectly plausible reasons to be in some of those locations due to his law practice. Am I right, Sam?”


“Besides, Mark, I’ve got a target here in DC you want to be in on. I’ve seen you looking at the board, and you know exactly who I mean.”

Mark Smith now looked more conflicted than angry. Then he grinned.

“You know, sir, for an old fart you don’t miss much,” Mark replied.

“That’s WHY I’m an old fart, Sergeant,” Fortner replied tartly. “Now, do you have any further objection to the assignment?”

Mark shook his head and Fortner turned on his brother.


Mike Smith looked miserable, but replied, “No, sir.”

“I’ve given you the toughest job because I know you can handle it. Also, Sam put most of those folks on the target list. He needs to put his ass on the line if he wants them dead. Right, Sam?”

“Yessir,” replied Montrose, “My money where my mouth is. But, sir, one thing.”


“Can we juggle the assignments a bit? If we start in San Francisco, then go to Seattle and then fly to Denver, then Chicago, I think we can actually get more accomplished sooner.”

“All right, get with Mike after this meeting and explain your reasoning, then if he agrees the two of you sell me on it. If it makes sense, I’ll approve the change and adjust the logistics.”

Montrose immediately moved over to a chair by Mike Smith and they began to talk in low tones while keeping ears open to the larger meeting.

Fortner continued. “Mark, I’m going to pair you with Fred. With the six targets you’ve got to reach, he’ll draw folks’ attention looking all mean and black and that might give you less attention, which you can definitely do without.”

Fred Dobbin laughed in his big, booming way. “Yassir, boss, ah gwine to be de ofay bait.”

“Cut the shit, Sergeant, I know you got straight A’s in high school and then went to the University of Michigan and studied philosophy for a couple of years. I also know what the Air Force says your IQ is, and that when you’re in academia you speak better English and use bigger words than I do. If I really want to embarrass you I’ll tell these gentlemen what mental midgets they are compared to you.”

Dobbin snapped in. “Yes, sir, Cap’in.”

“Dobbin, I retired as Colonel Fortner.”

“Yes, sir, Colonel, sir.” Dobbin had adopted his poker face, but he was shaking with silent laughter. So was everyone else in the room.

Wiley Fortner, pissed, but not too pissed, shook his head. “I give up.”

Then he fixed Tom McCallister in his gaze.

“Tom, you’ll take Han on the White House counsel job first, then work your way down the other four. Big Jon and I will take the last six. It’s going to be tough, gentlemen, and I don’t expect all of us will make it through. Some of these guys are not pansies and after a short time, they’re going to be guarded tightly, although how competently I can’t say.”

“Hell, sir,” offered Mark Smith, “All the competent ones are on our side.”

Fortner snapped back, eyes blazing.

“No, they’re not and don’t you forget it. The moment you do, you’re dead. Hell, you may be dead anyway. We all may be. Look, I’ll do the best I can at gathering further intel on these people before we strike but the fact of the matter is that we’ll be doing more with less than we ever have. The mission requires it. So I expect we will have losses. Just do your damnedest to make sure it isn’t you and your teammate. And do your job and recusal ALL their asses.”

Montrose laughed out loud and Fortner turned on him, still blazing.

“What’s your point?” he demanded.

Montrose shifted in his chair and then decided to tell him the truth.

“Sir, ‘recusal’ is when the attorney or judge removes himself willingly from the case because of a conflict of interest. What we’re going to be doing is called ‘recusation,’ the process of removing someone from a case involuntarily.”

Montrose grinned.

“I suppose you could say we’re ‘recusationers of the permanent, involuntary sort.’”

Fortner looked at him sourly, though the other men of the Unit were chuckling.

“Well, okay then, I sure as shit wouldn’t want to use the wrong legal term when we’re killing lawyers. So let’s go recusation their asses, then.

On that, everyone in the room agreed.