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.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

The British Pub Guide to Taxes

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to £100...

If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this...

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.

The fifth would pay £1.

The sixth would pay £3.

The seventh would pay £7.

The eighth would pay £12.

The ninth would pay £18.

The tenth man (the richest) would pay £59.

So, that's what they decided to do...

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve ball.

"Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by £20". Drinks for the ten men would now cost just £80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes.

So the first four men were unaffected.

They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men? The paying customers? How could they divide the £20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?

They realised that £20 divided by six is £3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share,
then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay.

And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% saving).

The sixth now paid £2 instead of £3 (33% saving).

The seventh now paid £5 instead of £7 (28% saving).

The eighth now paid £9 instead of £12 (25% saving).

The ninth now paid £14 instead of £18 (22% saving).

The tenth now paid £49 instead of £59 (16% saving).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a pound out of the £20 saving," declared the sixth man.He pointed to the tenth man,"but he got £10!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a pound too. It's unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!"

"That's true!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get £10 back, when I got only £2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "we didn't get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is how our tax system works.

The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction.

Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore.

In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

Some have disputed the veracity of this article. It was originally done in American dollars and attributed to an Economics professor at University of Georgia, who denies writing it. Leftists have tried to debunk the math, of course. I found it on the Facebook page of a friend of mine in England. It made perfect sense to me, but what do I know? I'm an evil conservative racist murdering white guy who didn't go to Harvard or Berkeley.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The North Korea Situation: A User's Guide by my friend Tommy

Many of you will remember my high school buddy Tommy from my article on the fire aboard USS Miami from last August. This is his spin on things.

OK I got this whole North Korea thing figured out on how it will play out, Follow along:

NK will launch missiles at the U.S. South Korea, and Japan. Why Japan? I dunno, maybe because they're afraid Tokyo will summon Godzilla or something.

We of course will attempt to shoot down the NK missiles, and if one should slip by, we will launch a retaliatory strike.

If we launch, China will launch against Taiwan. That means we will launch against China. Shit at Walmart just got real fucking expensive.

Of course this will mean Pakistan and India will launch against each other, resulting in China launching against India, and Great Britain launching against China, but in a "civilized" way with high tea promptly at 4p.m. with crumpets and scones. After all, war must be proper.

Israel will launch against everyone in the middle east, resulting in Russia launching against Israel, and us sticking our noses in that too and launching against Russia, who will of course launch against us.

The French will launch against Tahiti because that's where they already tested their nukes, so why not launch them there anyway, and then will promptly surrender to the Germans like they have in the last couple of major conflicts, because that's what they do.

And when it's said and done, some primitive tribe in what's left of the South American rain forest will be the new world super power.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Turd of the Week: Dominic Francis

Oh, woe is me. I'm sad and downtrodden. My parents live in a mansion.
I've been absolutely appalled this past week at the nasty backlash and celebrations surrounding the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and further appalled at the plans for protests during her funeral this coming Wednesday.

Most of the assclowns who took to the streets in celebration were either young children during the Thatcher years or weren't even bloody well born yet when she left office in 1990, so they have no true context to base this celebration upon other than the indoctrination of their Liberal, Marxist, Socialist, Union Thug professors and parents. A pox upon the lot of them.

Based upon downloads costing a mere 99p, or about $1.52, the number two song on the British pop charts this week in a despicable display of decidedly non-British crassness was "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead".


And now we find that the mastermind of the upcoming protests is a mollycoddled, elitist, pampered 25-year old college student named Dominic Francis. At 25, he was what, maybe three years of age when Baroness Thatcher left No.10 Downing Street? This punk-assed kid attends Ruskin College in Oxford, and while it's not a constituent part of Oxford University itself, it is an affiliated institution that allows students to attend lectures and use the facilities at the University. Ostensibly the college was set up for students from disadvantaged backgrounds with little or no qualifications, yet this guy's parents live in a £700,000 home (almost $1.5 million) in the town of Royal Tunbridge Wells about 40 miles outside of London. It seems he's all boo hoo and sad that the government is putting on a large state funeral for Thatcher and feels the need to protest it. He said he was urging the protests with a heavy heart, and said the action would be peaceful, adding: ‘I support that her mourners should be allowed to grieve in peace. But when they decided to hold a State-funded, large ceremony like that, they open themselves up to public criticism.’

Tough shit, boyo. The woman was the head of government for your nation for over a decade. Are we expected to see her wrapped in newspaper and set alight in a rubbish bin because you didn't like her politics? Over here in America, regardless of politics, a former President, of which a Prime Minister is the equivalent as a head of state, is afforded a state funeral with full honors and respect for the office is observed even if you didn't respect the deceased in life.

Even John Lydon has the decency to show a modicum of respect to Mrs. Thatcher in death. I daresay that the rest of you lot over there should piss off and do the same.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

It's like Watergate, only different...

Stop staring at my tits. I'm a serious politician now.

So...liberal rag Mother Jones posts up recorded footage of Kentucky Senator (and Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell conferring with strategists about how to defeat a potential opponent in the next Senatorial campaign. The gist of the conversation was how to use the opponent's own statements and quotes to prove they weren't the best choice. Not a smear campaign or lies, but the opponent's actual quotes. Big whoop, right?

Yes, big whoop. A very big whoop. The Left is making it a big whoop because it was Liberal Darling and Hollyweird Celeb Ashley Judd. How DARE anyone try to defeat Ashley Judd? She's a liberal and a celebrity. How dare you defy the Left?

The bigger whoop, and the one the Leftist, Biased, Blamestream Media is avoiding is that the recording was made via an illegal wiretap of McConnell's offices. The media is making all this noise about how vile and evil and awful it is that someone would want to defeat the angelic and saintly Ashley Judd by using her own words against her, and not a peep about how a rag named after a Leftist agitator obtained the recordings by breaking into and ILLEGALLY BUGGING the offices of a sitting United States Senator.

The real Mother Jones, stirring up the masses like a good socialist.
Last I checked, a President resigned his office after a scandal involving office invasion....but since Nixon was an evil Republican and he broke into the offices of the peaceful and honorable and innocent DNC at the Watergate Hotel, he should burn in the 666th level of Dante's Inferno while it is perfectly acceptable, no, HEROIC, to break into a Republican's office and record his private conversations.

This country is doomed.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Will HOA settlement taint George Zimmerman's trial?

That's right. I didn't use a picture of an angelic Trayvon like the biased Lamestream Media.

Just got word a couple days ago that the Home Owner's Association for the housing development where George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin had their fatal run-in last year settled a wrongful death suit with Martin's parents for a figure between one and two million dollars.

Now, my heart still goes out to his parents, who I'm sure are still grieving the loss of their son. However, I'm concerned that with the HOA rolling over and paying up before the criminal case even goes to trial, it further taints potential jurors against Zimmerman, on top of all the damage done by the Blamestream Media. I covered it here & here. Jurors are all going to know that the group who made Zimmerman the head of their Neighborhood Watch basically said they were guilty and doled out seven figures.

Now, the HOA played their game pretty slickly. HOA's as a general rule have an insurance policy against lawsuits and those are usually a million or two dollars worth. A lengthy trial would put vulture TV news trucks in front of that development daily, and some 300 homeowners would watch their home values drop like a rock. Rather than risk a fruitcake Florida jury awarding the Martin family 30 or 40 million dollars they opted to cut their losses and get the monkey off their back, throwing Zimmerman under the bus in the process. Would a jury do that? Of course. A Florida jury let Casey Anthony go free, didn't they?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Am I actually married?

If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, do ducks marry?
It's been funny watching everyone spin outta control on social media the past week or two, verily a pantheon of whirling dervishes losing their collective minds.

The reason?

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments about gay marriage. My friends on both sides of the equation are foaming at the mouth. Those in favor of it all changed their profile pics on Twitter and Facebook to pink equal signs. Those against all started spouting Bible verses and called for boycotting Starbucks for supporting gay marriage.

I'm all for boycotting Starbucks, but not over gay marriage. I simply refuse to pay nine effing dollars for a cup of coffee.

I agree, but for VASTLY different reasons.

If you've followed me for awhile, you'll know I've written about gay marriage and my support of gays in general more than just a couple of times. Try here, here, here, here, here, here, or here, for starters.

Many of my compatriots and peers in the conservative ranks disagree with my stance on same sex marriage. In fact, this Dr. Ben Carson fellow that seems to be the new conservative darling on Twitter, has said that as far as he's concerned, marriage is one man and one woman married in a church under the eyes of God ( I paraphrase. I looked for an exact quote on what I heard on the radio & couldn't find it). This has me wondering....if you folks reading this agree with that definition, then am I actually married in your eyes?

Some of you, die hard Catholics I guess, would frown upon the fact I am divorced, as is my current wife. For this second marriage of mine, I was not married in a church, either. Rather, we got hitched in front of the plantation mansion at Boone Hall during the annual Scottish Games in full kilted regalia. I was not even married by a clergy member. My friend Jackie, a notary public from the UK, officiated. Our self-penned vows were not the traditional religious-themed vows found in most ceremonies. As part of the ceremony we did a Celtic hand-fasting (gasp! a pagan rite!) and we jumped a broom afterwards (gasp! More heathen rituals!)

So, by everyone's strict definition of marriage, I must not be married, despite that scrap of paper I had to quickly sign afterwards to make it legal? After all, it's that precious scrap of paper that everyone seems to need as proof of being married. So, seemingly, marriage is but a legal contract that binds us together as opposed to some religious ceremonial bugaboo.

But Steve, them awful homosexicals are an abomination against the sanctity of marriage betwixt man and woman and they make baby Jesus cry.....

Look, your Christian Bible is chock-a-block FULL of spurious forms of traditional Biblical marriages.

Remember, that Old Testament lets you have slaves and concubines, too. Hooray, Bible!

And as for the sanctity of marriage, let's look at, say, Kim "Sex Tapes" Kardashian, famous for, of course, making a sex tape that launched her faux reality empire. She's currently embroiled in a nasty divorce case while carrying some other dude's baby, namely noted asshat Kanye West, who now thinks he owns her. It was NOT her first marriage, either. That's pretty sanctified. After a 55-hour "oopsie" marriage to an old friend, Britney Spears married a guy who had left his pregnant babymomma to marry a meal ticket. Two kids later they split up and she melted down. Pretty sanctified.

Actually, she FILED for divorce 72 days later. Her "husband" is contesting it saying she conned him.
Remember, even here in America, Land of the Free, wives were once property. Speaking of alleged property, slaves had to get permission to marry. Up until the civil rights movement, marrying outside your race was illegal. So, seriously, people; get with the times.

One of the people who spoke to the Supreme Court was Edith Windsor, an 83-year-old New Yorker and widow who married her female partner in Canada, a marriage also recognized by the state of New York. She had been with her partner Thea Speyer in a committed relationship for over 40 years. Sadly, Thea passed away in 2009, two years after they married. Windsor now seeks federal recognition of their marriage so she won't have to pay $363,000 in estate taxes because the federal government does not recognize their marriage as valid. A survivor in a heterosexual marriage would not have to pay this tax. This simply is not fair or right.

Thea and Edie

You may recall back in 2009 when I wrote about my friend Paul, who was stuck dealing with the financial mess surrounding the medical practice and estate of his partner of over 14 years, Gervais Frechette. Paul was stuck holding the bag for all the bills without the survivor benefits or recognition a heterosexual survivor spouse would enjoy. Again, this isn't right.

And before you Liberals out there pounce on the Right and laying the blame our way, it was serial adulterer William Jefferson Clinton, President Slick Willie himself, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law.

That alone should nullify it.