September 4th, 2008

Pixel Stained

Follow up on the plot to kill Obama

Those guys whom the US Att'y said were, "mostly harmless,"... not so much.

The FBI wanted to charge them with conspiring to kill Obama. The hotel they were in was, so they thought, the hotel Obama was in.

It seems there were two plots. The first, described as, a suicide mission with the projected shooter saying, the murder rap wasn't a big deal because of everything else they were going to charge him with (he's the one who jumped out a 6th story window, above a 2 story roof, and then to the ground. His injuries from that made it pretty easy for the cops to round him up) was to pull a Sirhan Sirhan and shoot him in the hotel.

If that plan didn't work they planned to take the guns, body armor, camo and suchlike to some high point, 750 yards from the open space Obama was speaking at (this is where my dismissiveness was a mistake, I didn't realise the speech was in the open) and try to shoot him.

It's a tricky thing, but with that cartridge, a good rifle, and a handload... well this is an account of using just such a rig:

The loads did not fail to perform as expected. In one instance, another shooter was having difficulty with a [prarie] dog out at maximum range with his .223 and a load made with 55 gr. BT bullets. Our Savage rifle, with the crosshairs settled about 8" right and 18" high to account for distance and crosswind, hit its mark with the first shot. After the fact, we measured the distance at 525 yards -- which certainly settles any questions about the effectiveness of a 40 gr. bullet traveling at 4,500 fps.

So, with a handload, a shot at 525 yards was guesstimated from Ballistics Data to have a given drop, and a rule of thumb adjustment was made for windage.

That figuring allowed the shooter to hit a prarie dog, at 525 yards. The same data will let one compute drop for the extra 250 yards they were planning to shoot from. A little time at the range and that can be tested. Keeping the point of impact to something the size of a dinner plate shouldn't be that hard to manage.

Flight time of the round would be about .75 seconds. Enough time to fire a second round about the time the first one hit. If they had two rifles, that's four rounds in the air before anyone is really aware of the first one being fired.

From 750 yards, you won't hear the report of 22-250, esp. not with the chaos erupting after the first round hits someone.

Not credible my ass.

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Pilate was a Governor

Jesus was a community activist.

The speech Palin read last night (unless you think she wrote it, in the few days since she found out she was John McCain's idea of the best candidate for the job) had a sneering reference to community activists.

“Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown,” Ms. Palin told the delegates in a speech that sought to eviscerate Mr. Obama, as delegates waved signs that said “I love hockey moms.” “And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities.”

The reference was to Obama, who spent the three years after he graduated Harvard, working on the Chicago's South Side (a part of town known more for the rough inhabitants who lived there in the late '60s, early '70s, as summed up by Jim Croce in "Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown).

He wasn't making great piles of money. He was helping those who had lost jobs to the emergence of the Rust Belt. Joe Klein explains it better than I can.

So here is what Giuliani and Palin didn't know: Obama was working for a group of churches that were concerned about their parishioners, many of whom had been laid off when the steel mills closed on the south side of Chicago. They hired Obama to help those stunned people recover and get the services they needed--job training, help with housing and so forth--from the local government. It was, dare I say it, the Lord's work--the sort of mission Jesus preached (as opposed to the war in Iraq, which Palin described as a "task from God.")

This is what Palin and Giuliani were mocking. They were making fun of a young man's decision "to serve a cause greater than himself," in the words of John McCain. They were, therefore, mocking one of their candidate's favorite messages. Obama served the poor for three years, then went to law school. To describe this service--the first thing he did out of college, the sort of service every college-educated American should perform, in some form or other--as anything other than noble is cheap and tawdry and cynical in the extreme.

What one wonders is a greater responibility than looking after people? Than helping make sure they don't fall into poverty? Then keeping families together?

I seem to recall a candidate for president who ran on a campaign of just such small scale activism. He wanted to see volunteers organising communities, an America shining with, "A thousand points of light."

That's nothing to these guys. Being a small-town mayor counts for more than trying to help the poor and the needy. Maybe Gov. Palin's pastor misunderstood the verse about the poor being with us always as a reason to keep the nard for the faithful.

It's a funny sort of elite which goes out among the needy; forgoing wealth, and pelf and fame.

It's a funnier sort of, "just folks," which sees that as a destriment, some sort of stumbling block to understanding.

Christy Hardin Smith, of Firedoglake:

Lost your job and you need a hand with the utility bills or some food from the local church pantry? Suck it up, America, because the folks who used to extend a hand to those in need don't count in Republican land. That "do unto others" crap has to stop, and Jesus was clearly just a rabble-rousing, do-gooder. Loaves, fishes, feeding the multitudes? Hogwash.

Your neighborhood watch program, to help supplement the police force whose budget keeps getting cut under the Bush Administration? Well, you don't deserve a safe neighborhood and your efforts are useless anyway.

Cleaning up a local riverbed or a walking trail with your kid's scout troop? Republicans think you are a loser.

Working with a job training or literacy program to help folks move from welfare to work? Republicans think your efforts deserve ridicule. Promoting a spay and neuter program at your local animal shelter? Republicans are laughing at you. Volunteer at your church pantry to help the least of these? Republicans are mocking you.

Country first? Only if you live in Republican country where they come first and the rest of us should take whatever they choose to trickle down on us.

Those are the things which don't count a responsibilty. Those are the things Sara Palin says are less important than her record as mayor outweighs.

Pilate was a Governor, Jesus was a community organiser.

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Some words of wisdom

This is on a completely different topic (no, perhaps not, given the flaps that Palin's selection is causing, and the flaps which are sure to come)

I'd give the link, but I don't have the original. I do know who wrote it, and trust he won't mind my reposting it.

In the recent discussion about Kathy Sierra and Markos’ febrile and clueless response to her, I see there are some kind, helpful men who are taking pains to make sure emotion doesn’t run rampant in the discussion, that unfair accusations of misogyny or characterizations of harassment statistics get spread in an understandable emotional response to a few very upsetting instances of harassment by piglike men who fall far outside the norm. Surely, these men reason, we mustn’t let these nasty experiences color our judgment of the actual events involved. Surely it helps no one to make wild and baseless charges without looking, in uber-dispassionate detachment, at the actual statistics and methodology and margin of error of the studies that show women get harassed more than men. Come, let us reason together calmly, they say. References to Salem and the McMartin pre-school and such come unbidden to their lips.

I’m a big fan of dispassionate, rational, fact-based discussion of the issues myself, and it is in that spirit that I offer, to my brethren who’ve taken it upon themselves to be a shining light of dispassion on this topic, these fraternal words of guidance:

Shut the fuck up.

Here are a few of the actual facts that prompt the above sage counsel:

— You are not saying anything the women you’re talking to haven’t heard a thousand times before. You are not saying anything the women you’re talking to haven’t told themselves a thousand times before. If you would actually stop your reflexive know-it-all yammering and pay attention to what women actually SAY about the offenses they suffer on the sexual harassment - rape continuum, you will note that almost to a woman they second-guess their own gut feelings about the putative offender far beyond the point where almost any man would.

— You are wrong. If you doubt that the nature of abuse and harassment women suffer, online or off, differs from that men experience, then you don’t know what you’re talking about. Oddly, the Internets offer a way for you to verify this fact for yourself. About a dozen years ago, at the urging of a feminist online acquaintance, I logged on to AOL using an obviously female but non-provocative handle. (”AliciaMN.”) Within five minutes of logging on I had sexually abusive IMs popping up from men I didn’t know. Didn’t matter which room I was in: general chat, politics, classical music. I kept up the experiment for I think four days, a couple hours a day, sometimes chatting with people about non-sexual topics, sometimes just lurking. Two of the men who IMed AliciaMN with blatantly and obnoxiously sexual messages — “Hey, I’m up in Alaska! How ’bout you thaw my dick out with your throat?” being an example I recall — responded to my NON-response by telling “Alicia” she deserved to get raped.

This is neither new nor surprising information to any woman here. I mention it because 1) maybe if a man says it it’ll be taken seriously and 2) it implies a suggestion that disbelievers find a venue equivalent to AOL in its heyday and repeat my experiment, in the spirit of dispassionate empiricism.

— If no woman in your life has ever talked to you about how she lives her life with an undercurrent of fear of men, consider the possibility that it may be because she sees you as one of those men she cannot really trust.

— Finally, let’s assume just for the sake of argument that you’re right. You aren’t. But just as a gedankenexperiment, let’s pretend you are, and that the women who are talking about the massive deadweight silence from men about the harassment they experience, and who are getting all upset and speaking in terms of “war zones” and “hate crimes” and such are just being emotional, hysterical even, and — like the people who forward that bogus email about the guy with the ropes and duct tape in hs trunk in the mall parking lot — just need to be set straight with a calm, measured dose of logic and fact-checking.

In most situations, that’s a fine impulse. There really is no reason to get upset about LSD in blue star tattoos, and Bill Gates really isn’t paying people who forward a chain email.

But this situation is qualitatively different. When the topic at hand is men not taking an issue seriously, suggesting that the issue might not really be all that serious is not being dispassionate. It is, in fact, taking a side. And the people on the side you’re taking, incidentally, include the gropers, the rapists, the sexual-favor-demanding bosses.

In short, if you’re interested in quibbling with the data or suggesting alternate interpretations of what Kos really meant when he called Kathy Sierra a lying “crying blogger,” and your goal is not to be a flaming asshole, shut the fuck up.

And when you shut the fuck up, two magical things happen:

1) You’re no longer actively contributing to the very problem you’re discussing;
2) It’s easier to listen to what the women are actually saying.

by Chris Clarke, April 13th, 2007 in [Gender Issues, Assholes] at Pandagon