Monday, April 22, 2013

The Pipes and Drums of......Homeland Security?

I almost choked on my Belvita cracker when I read this crap about Homeland Security putting in (and then almost immediately cancelling) a purchase request through the GSA for accessories to outfit a bagpipe band.

Yes, a bagpipe band.

What in the hell does the Department of Homeland Security need with a bagpipe band? Don't get me wrong; I love bagpipes. I have friends who are in various pipe bands. My own paternal grandfather was a drummer in a bagpipe band. I attend Scottish events and own a kilt & all the accessories.

But, really, we have terrorists running loose and illegals pouring across our wide open borders to receive amnesty at the hands of the Left. Aren't we in the middle of a sequester that allegedly cut federal spending? I know that my buddy Jack who works for the federal prisons, keeping scumbags locked up, and he has unpaid days off now. My buddy Joe, who works internet security keeping hackers out of government computers, took a $17,000 pay cut due to the sequester. The military had to cut tuition assistance to soldiers on active duty trying to further their educations while keeping us safe from harm. But Homeland Security wanted a bagpipe band? For what?

Lads & lasses, let me assure you; this stuff ain't cheap. I know from experience. The entire purchase request is available here to verify my veracity, but I'll repost it if you haven't seen it.

The DHS Customs and Border Protection requires the following items, Brand Name or Equal, to the following:
LI 001: Carbon Bagpipe Drone Reed Set, 5, EA;
LI 002: Bagpipe Chanter Reeds-Easy, 12, EA;
LI 003: Bagpipe Chanter Reeds-Medium, 12, EA;
LI 004: Deluxe Bagpipe Bag Covers w/ Non-slip Grap Patch and Zipper, 5, EA;
LI 005: Drone Cords, 5, EA;
LI 006: Highland Bagpipe Tuner and Metronome with cases, 2, EA;
LI 007: Combination Tuner and Metronome, 6, EA;
LI 008: Black Polypenco Bagpipes w/ cases, 10, EA;
LI 009: Polypenco Bagpipe Chanter, 10, EA;
LI 010: Bellows Blown Blackwood Smallpipes in "A" w/ cases, 4, EA;
LI 011: Black waxed bagpipe hemp, 4, EA;
LI 012: Real Beeswax, 4, EA;
LI 013: Long Polypenco Practice Chanters, 10, EA;
LI 014: Bagpipe Tutor Book - VOL 1 C.O.P., 10, EA;
LI 015: Practice Chanter Reed, 10, EA;
LI 016: Rol of Pipe Bag Tie-In cord, 2, EA;
LI 017: Tapered Reamer, 1, EA;
LI 018: PiobMaster 2.3 CD ROM-Bagpipe music writing software, 1, EA;
LI 019: Pipe Band Base Drum Carrier, 2, EA;
LI 020: Folding Bass Drum Stand, 1, EA;
LI 021: Inverness Rain Cape, 14, EA;
LI 022: Glengarry Plain, 15, EA;
LI 023: Snare Drum Stand, 4, EA;
LI 024: Pipe Band Snare Drums-Black, 4, EA;
LI 025: Snare Carrier-Silver, 4, EA;
LI 026: 16" x 12" Pipe Band Tenor Drum, 4, EA;
LI 027: 18" Bodhran Pack w/ Beater, 4, EA;
LI 028: Deluxe triple function drum sling, 2, EA;
LI 029: Heavy Duty Tenor Drum leg rest, 2, EA;
LI 030: Drum-Mount Snare Drum stick bag, 4, EA;
LI 031: Heavy Duty Drum Key, 2, EA;
LI 032: Short Black Classic Tenor Mallets, 3, EA;
LI 033: Black Bass Beaters, 2, EA;
LI 034: TyFry Tenor Tutor Tenor Instruction DVD/CDROM, 1, EA;
LI 035: Snare Stick Set, 10, EA;
LI 036: Square Tenor/Snare Drum Case, 5, EA;
LI 037: Spats Canvas-White, 20, EA;
LI 038: Hose-Blue, 14, EA;
LI 039: Flashes-Red, 14, EA;
LI 040: Leather Day Sporrans-Black, 14, EA;
LI 041: Horsehair Sporrans, 14, EA;
LI 042: Sgian Dubhs, 14, EA;
LI 043: Shipping/Handling/Delivery, 1, EA;

From experience I can attest to the cost of certain items. Item 40, the leather day sporrans, average about a hundred bucks a pop. They ordered 15, so call it $1500 bucks for that line item alone. The horsehair sporrans for pipe bands run, say $300, so there's another $4200 for the 14 ordered. Blue kilt hose for 14 people at $25 a pair is $350, and the 14 pairs of flashes at $20 each is $280. If you shop around you can get those 15 plain Glengarry hats for only $45 each....I kinda got shafted when I dropped over $60 on a diced Glengarry 14 years ago (dicing is the nifty red & white checks on Scottish headgear that generally denoted affiliation with the military in the past but is now more of a decorative thing). Call those 15 Glens another $675. Those Inverness rain capes for playing in inclement weather are about a hundred each, so there's $1400 more.

A 16 x 12 Pearl tenor drum runs you a good $570 each, and they wanted four. That's $2280. Snare drums from Yamaha are around $609, or $2436 for the four. An 18" bodhran drum from Meinl is around $140, making it $560 for the four. White canvas spats to go over your Ghillie brogues (traditional shoes work with a formal kilt outfit) are $25 a set, so 20 sets is another $500. And the sgian dhu (Gaelic for Black Blade) is the wee dagger carried tucked inside your kilt hose with the handle sticking up out the top, those can really vary. I have several. A nice dressy one can run another $100, so that's yet another $1400 for this purchase.

See? I told you this gets expensive REALLY quick.

This is not exactly a spur of the moment purchase, either. This has been an ongoing process, actually. Back in September of last year, the purchase of 12 sets of bagpipes was awarded to MacLellan Bagpipes of Monroe, NC. The contract price was $27, 060 for the set of 12 or $2,255 a piece. Funny thing is, the MacLellan website sells their pipes for $1500. Somebody got shafted, namely Joe Taxpayer.

What hasn't been covered, either, is the cost of the kilts for, say, 15 people. I paid $500 for mine when I ordered it. That could mean a good $7500 in kilts alone. They'll likely need piper's doublets, a military-type jacket favored by pipe bands. They're actually cheaper on average than the Argyll jacket I wear for my formal occasions. I paid $375 for my Argyll, but many places sell the doublets for a mere $200 to start, so that's $3000 for the 15. The footwear, as previously mentioned, are a type of wingtip shoe called a Ghillie brogue that laces up your calf. Those run about $150 a pair for the type needed for marching, so there's $2250 in shoes. Those Glengarry hats need a cap badge (as low as $20 depending on what they use, or $300) and kilt pins for 15 will be another $300. Who knows what they'll pay for the white shirts & ties...

The band leader, the Pipe Major, will most often be attired additionally in a pipe major's sash (as low as $40), a fly plaid (a piece of tartan fabric that is flung over the shoulder, perhaps $200 thereabouts), a large scepter called the Mace (a good $300) and in many cases an enormous bearskin hat. That hat can be a good $500 on its own.

Again, this is an expensive thing to get into. In the middle of a recession that spawned a sequester, Big Sis Napolitano and company are going to drop a good $100,000 or so to outfit a band to accompany their armored vehicles and huge weapon & ammo purchases. Meanwhile, our border is a sieve and terrorists are doing the Allah Akbar Shuffle from Texas to Boston.



Soloman said...

Silly NeoCon, you...don't you know the "sequester" cuts only happen in places where they have the pronounced effect of making it seems like the 'evil' Republicans are trying to harm children or inhibit their education, reduce public safety, take away 'benefits' from the poor and downtrodden (registered Democrats) and generally be anti-gay, anti-woman and anti-every other special interest group known?

On a side note... here in Phoenix we have a microbrewery called "Four Peaks" named after the highest mountain range in the general area - happens to be a beautiful area to go 4-wheeling and do some camping and shooting. Anyway, they make an awesome Scottish-style ale called "Kilt Lifter." If you ever visit this area and you're a beer aficionado, I'd highly recommend giving it a try.

Be well, my friend.

jay son said...

it's amazing what you can buy when money is not an issue. total detachment from reality is what we get for our tax dollars out of washington. that, and a band to lead the parade, which plays a heart swelling rendition of kenya the brave.